Sunday, 13 December 2009

Winter Sun Portugal

Taking advantage of a cheap winter deal,I'm just back from a relaxing week in a beachfront apartment in Albufeira Portugal on the Atlantic Ocean near Cape St Vincent the most westerly point in Europe the true Finisterra end of the Earth nothing but water between me and America.
and a very tranquil time was had.
in season this tourist town is packed-out of season I nearly had it all to myself-the locals complained about the cold but having scrapped ice off my car in order to drive to the airport the December sun ( 20c) of Portugal was heaven to me and the other pale skinned North Europeans attired in shorts and t-shirts walking in the surf.
For a long time I have been unable just to relax and spend the day just reading a book, but on this break I read two in between walks on the beech and trips out to the mountains and small villages inland.

a truly relaxing time just letting the last of the years warmth wash over me.

a first time in Portugal for me but certainly not the last I could get used to winter breaks only maybe for longer next time.

having decided to start my next Camino in late March/early April my thoughts are starting to turn to the practicalities like money-equipment (new boots maybe) do I take a lightweight tent to offset the more expensive accommodation in France?

its all starting to feel very close-and the sooner the better for me having started putting the Camino weight loss back on and Christmass still to come!!!

Friday, 6 November 2009

The Die Is Cast

The dice was rolled and unbelievably
6 came up again-the number designated to the Le Puy route to Santiago-twice as far as walked this year.
don't know if I have it in me but Le Puy it is-I will have to start late March or early April and allocate 10/12 weeks, already I am excited by the prospect
and there is a new vigor in my morning walks and now carrying a full pack-maybe a bit sad but its brought a focus back into my life and an achievable goal to work towards.
the Highland cattle are there because I forgot to put them in the village blog and they remind me of a brand of toffee I used to like as a child-along with the Camino all very comforting.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

The Village

This is my village, my home ,my training ground and also my playground for the next year at least.

great Autumn colours at the moment,I have lived here since August and in that short time have already seen so many changes as the year turns round-so much more noticeable here in rural Norfolk than anywhere else I have lived.

"Say is there beauty yet to find deep meadows yet,for to forget
the lies and truths and pain?....oh! yet stands the church clock at ten to three and is there honey still for tea".
The old Vicarage Grantchester--Rupert Brooke 1912

my granddaughter Queen Izzy turned 4 this year and continues to prepare herself for world domination.

Monday, 26 October 2009

The Dice Man

a cult book of the 70's was "The Dice Man" about a man who made his life choices by rolling a dice. 6 options with one choice being one not normally one you would make.
one of the street artist of Berlin becoming well known is "El Bocho"
Sticker art is the new Graffiti and considered less an offence,you paste your poster up rather than spray can.
I went to an exhibition of this mans work in a Berlin squat cost me 1 euro to get in and had to leave my bag at the door in case I was carrying spray cans or something worse.
my favorite Berlin graffiti artist is number 6 who just paints the number 6 on boarded up buildings or other underused facilities, feeling a bit of an underused facility myself the other night-started to play with the die and allocated the unwanted- the not normal to the number 6.
It came up 6 I rolled a second and then a third time each time resulting in the number 6 the number of the beast.
it realy freaked me out-and I spent the rest of the day figuring out what to do to match the three sixes.
I had spent the last 10 years trying not to be normal- I didn't want normal-don't do normal-but along the way it was normal for me to have a drink every day-7 days a week and when I say a drink I'm not talking singular. So no choice realy I'm going to stop drinking for a while.
its been getting worse of late so a stupid dice can be the start.
I like to be in control-and the drink had started to be in control of me-so it has to go-day 2 and counting.
also started the morning training walks again-I miss the Camino-the simplicity of it all,but which one to do next? perhaps I'll let the dice decide.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Leaving Berlin

Berlin with two of my daughters brought a new dimension to the break I had two women telling me what to do!!
but hey I got to do things that I hadn't done before-river cruses etc and share some of the things I had already done
nice end to my visit even got propositioned on oranienburger str by a lovely girl in tall white boots,who must have been out with her sisters also in white boots who for some reason were standing on the other corners of the junction.

I could live in Berlin,which is always the yardstick I judge any city on
the only downside are the cyclists,
having been allocated cycle lanes all over the city they take this as a passport to go where they please in that arrogant aren't we being very green sort of way,but wobetide anyone who strays into their cycle lane or don't jump out of the way when they hurtle pass.
my god they even let them on the tube-there is no escaping them-its the new plague I tell you.!! ( hey whats the point of a blog if you can't have a rant now and then )

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Berlin Stories

talking advantage of a 2 pound return flight on Ryan air, (yes they do exist) found me in Berlin for 3 weeks, how to fill the time was the question flying in, now its nearly time to come home the question is how did 3 weeks pass so quickly.
Berlin is a large city with a small population ( 3.8m) and lots of space to breath plus a vibrant night life.
As I discovered on the Camino sleeping in hostels and bunk beds is a passport to a varied social life
my guides and companions have included Paco Nick David Evo Andy and Kleba from all corners of the globe,together we pub crawled sightsee'd and clubbed our way into oblivion. the highlights included various beach bars,falling down house squat parties and one memorable evening with a room full of heavy chained punk Janet and Johnnie rottens followed by a chill out in the Barbie Bar (vivid pink decor) always ending up in that 4am walk home,never once feeling in danger and always among smiling faces.
this tired old man keep ed up with the pace for 4 nights before crying uncle.
this city has so many faces all in in a constent flux, I have stood beneath the Michael Jackson baby dangling balcony while in sight of the Brandon burgh Tor and the Reichstag's burned down and now restored with its walkable domed glass roof.
only 20 years ago this was a walled in area cut off from the rest of Berlin and the world, now you can be photographed with flag flying moonlighting male strippers dressed as solders -living statues or costumed giant Berlin bears.
all under the gaze of gun carrying guards outside the nearby American embassy
A short walk down unter den linden where all the lime trees are tagged and numbered?? brings you to the book burning square opposite Humboldt university ( most noble prize winners).
nothing to mark the square out apart from a glass covered small room with empty book shelves set in the floor and the inscription :Those that start out burning books finish up burning people:
as if in a form of penance the area outside the university that Einstein Freud Karl Marx and Engels attended is a daily market just with book stalls.
so it goes on every area taking you through all the emotions
I have walked past panel painted restored sections of the Berlin Wall now the worlds largest open air art gallery,visited king Frederick's summer palace in Potsdam and sought out banksy graffiti.
all the while under the gaze of the Mother Ship the giant TV tower that dominates Alexanderplatz and Berlin.
I now rest and gird my loins for the arrival of Daughters number 1 and 3 who are joining me for the last weekend.

Monday, 21 September 2009

The Year Of Change

Early this year I said that this would be a year of change, and bring it on
A Chinese saying that comes to mind is "be careful what you wish for they may come true"
most of the changes have been great,daughter number 2 has just finished her masters got the job of her dreams and is in the process of setting up home with her boyfriend, son number 2 graduated and has also moved in with his girlfriend.
Son number one and his wife Kate have just informed me that I'm to be a Grandfather again,this time to twins, daughter number 3 got great A level results.
I'm truly blessed, even the fact that me and Rosie have split and gone our separate ways in time will prove to be positive I'm sure , but the past few weeks have not been the best.
I came back from the camino so strong, only for that strengh to be tested to the full as the practicalities were sorted out -the clearing of the family home-the trips to the tip-its amazing how little of the 25 years was kept as we went into a frenzy of cleansing.
the house is gone and we now have separate homes ( my bungalow) I have spent 25 years not being the most important person in my life,while not exactly moving to the front I can now be more selfish and think of my own needs first.
there will be more travel ( just setting off on a 3 week trip to Berlin) more walking more camino's.
so I now have my new base in rural Norfolk -spent too long licking my wounds its time to move on and experience what else this wonderful road to nowhere has to offer, as the fool once said "bring it on"

Monday, 10 August 2009

"This Used To Be My Playground"

This is Yeadon the town I grew up in and left for the golden streets of London when I was 21.
Yeadon Tarn
or the "Dam" was my playground
just short of one mile in
circumference,it was where the school sports and cross country running took place, my first cigarette was smoked here, in fact most of my firsts took place in this hallowed setting.
now the Dam is known as "Tarnfield Park" no rowing boats can be seen now no motorboat no swimming,the Leeds and Bradford Airport runway now reaches to and beyond the Dam,but its still a place of beauty fond memories and lots of ghosts,
now I walk in circles round this playground keeping fit and trying to keep my post Camino body trim and the ghosts are walking with me,Gillian,Cathleen, Mick Kaye Martin Girt,Dave Walker Slim and Pete and so many more.
I am here caretaking the empty family home that no one is rushing to buy and visiting my mother in her care home and it all seems very strange,don't know if I'm climbing back into the womb or experiencing a rebirth. Behind our house is the banks and the footpath over the Chevin to Otley,I used to so love this walk home from my place of work in Otley (saving on the bus fare to buy cigarettes)

up the 1001 steps past the frying pan rock and onward passed Bluebell wood.
during my nostalgic wanderings the other night I had a Camino moment when meeting a young women training for a climb up "Mount Kenya" by walking up the "1001 steps" from Otley, she reminded me how much I miss the start of an adventure,
so now I plan to walk the Camino up from Sevilla to Santiago early next year---Game on

Saturday, 1 August 2009

" So What Happens Now...."

another Backpack in another hall.
whenever I read other Blogs about the Camino I always wonder so what next? Back to the daily reality I suppose,Someone once said when you walk the Camino your brain takes a rest, and how true that is,
Now I have walked the Way I understand why people would want to do it again,I started this as a challenge to see if I still had it, to howl at the moon and say yes I walked over 800Klm.
But somewhere round week 4 I entered a zone of peace and quite I walked slower more upright and all was well with my world.
now back home other things intrude and all I want to do is go back to that zone.
I still do morning walks ( can not stop I am now a walker) when stepping aside for the cyclists I can't stop saying "beon camino" to strange looks as they pass.
Have already booked a cheap Ryan air flight to Berlin and back a 3 week tour, as well as being a walker I think maybe I will now become an "old age traveler"
Who knows, the world is now my lobster!!

Monday, 27 July 2009

Random Pictures

Pride of place goes to David who graduated with honours from the university of small talk,while the Professor takes a Sabbatical and puts some weight back on.