When you look heavenward on a clear night may see a light smudge across the sky, “The Milky Way”. It comes from the Greek word galaxias (gala = milk). Romans would also observe the Via Lactia as they trod the ancient trade route across northern Hispania. The journey ended at the ocean, and they called the village, Finisterrae, literally “The Finish of the Earth”. The factual origins of the Christian pilgrimage are lost in the mist of legend and colourful myth. This was during
“A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step”, ancient Chinese proverb. In my experience, a journey of any significance starts a long way before you put your boots on. A journey starts with a wish, a desire, a longing, an urge, an inner compelling. How does such an idea occur to the individual? It arrives in a myriad of ways, watching a film, hearing a story, reading a book or seeing a picture. A journey starts with a dream. For some people, sensible people, suc
On my journey, I can look back at seven mistakes. 1. I made the mistake of planning for the future based on the present reality It was early April and I had packed for cold, wet and windy. What I got was scorching sunshine. Sunburn and dehydration were my biggest concerns, them and a seriously overweight backpack. Somewhere in a little French town, I dumped about 6 kilos of excess gear. Goodbye, thermals, hat, gloves, emergency fleece sleeping bag and shelter plus two d
In my previous blog, I walked alone, I mentioned a social research project. Only three of the sixty-eight participants made it through the eight hours of being disconnected, or to reverse it, 65 gave up. I was a youth worker for nearly 20 years and the capacity of young people to “give up” as soon as any discomfort is encountered no longer surprised me. Young people simply do not learn the discipline of sustained voluntary effort and have not had the chance to develop the n
In the morning we say good morning to someone be it a spouse, a child or the shopkeeper. The most crushing existence I can imagine is having no one to talk to, no one to share anything with, no one to even say hello to. This is the reality of many older people, a life of quiet loneliness. As rich postmodern technologically savvy people we can substitute a real world with a virtual world. We turn on the radio or TV, we check Facebook, Twitter, newsfeed and emails. We go to
“Not all those who wander are lost” is a line from the poem All that is gold does not glitter, written by J. R. R. Tolkien and it has inspired many a tattoo. Except for me, I was wondering why I was wandering and it was because I was lost. I was lost in France but not like the song, I was lost in France and not in love, I was one ticked off lad with a stupidly over packed backpack and seriously ticked off, fed, angry, lonely, tired, sore and I wanted to give up and go home.
There are guidebooks and blogs but they do not tell you everything. This is the blog which will spill the beans, a tell all, warts and blisters. This is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but bold exageration and artistic licence. The Camino Francis is one of many old pilgrimage routes ending at Santiago de Compestela. From my starting point in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port it is about 800km. It is not really a great hiking challenge, too many of the paths are tarmac and run ne
A few years ago I watched a film "The Way". Not a great film by all critical accounts but I liked it. It introduced me for the first time to a pilgrimage walk called "The Camino" from St Jean Pied de Port in southern France across the Pyrenees to Spain and then west to Santiago de Compostele, 800km. There was something about the idea of a pilgrimage and carrying your possessions, the open road, it spoke of adventure and discovery. As I had two months left of my sabbatical it