Feeds:
Posts
Comments

31 Days of Gratitude and today I’m grateful for reading; the ability to read.

Being able to read is a huge privilege and an incredible practical ability. Although it’s something we tend to take for granted, millions of people are unable to read.

Besides the lack of opportunity to learn how to read, physical disabilities can affect our ability eg dyslexia. “Britain has up to eight million adults who are functionally illiterate. The World Literacy Foundation said one in five of the UK population are so poor at reading and writing they struggle to read a medicine label or use a chequebook”.

Can you imagine that? Reading is such a fundamental function that we use every day. We grow up learning to read and it opens up opportunities we tend to take for granted without a second thought. What if we never had the privilege or ability to learn to read.

Could we apply for a job? Would we be able to write a job application? Would we be able to function in a work place where reading is fundamental to the job?

I was lucky enough to learn to read and write from a very young age. I’ve always loved books; a real bookworm growing up I spent every spare minute with my nose buried in a book….transported to different worlds. A voracious reader I went through school books like water through a sieve. My teachers had a hard time keeping me supplied and I went through the curriculum selection in no time at all.

2015-05-18 21.44.36 987858039044173615_231798962

Going to The Chapel, and we’re…… having hot chocolate with oodles of cream. 🙂 The Chapel is a quirky bar/coffee/book shop. It’s actually a bar with hundreds of books that line the walls, from floor to ceiling in some places, where you can relax with a drink and read a book…you can also buy the books which is super cool.

Fundamental to reading is a good cup of tea and a packet of biscuits….my ideal day.

As a child my absolute favourite books were the Secret Seven or Famous Five books by Enid Blyton. Anne of Green Gables was a huge favourite and so many others. My Mother used to buy me comics every week when I was about 5 years old…I waited with anticipation for the latest to fall through the letter box. I loved all the fairy stories and the Brothers Grimm stories were read again and again. I remember in my teens and 20’s literally reading through the night and finishing a book a night. I used to read at least 2 – 3 books a week; spy thrillers, WW2 stories, conspiracy theory stories, love stories, historical novels, the list of my likes went on and on.

These are some of my latest reads as well as my fantastic collection of books about London. I adore London and love to read about her secrets and history.

 

book review

These days I don’t read hardcover books so much since most of my time is now spent writing, but I still read a lot via the internet – articles on travel – namely walks around the UK and the various Caminos in Spain. I read a lot about health and finance, as well as the occasional gossip column LOL Ergo, most of my day is spent in reading or writing.

Besides loving books, I love the English language; it’s such a rich repository of wonderful words that we’re able to play around with creating pictures using descriptive words to create an image or a story.

Alongside of reading comes writing. To be able to write is as much a privilege as reading. I can’t imagine not being able to read and write; it’s fundamental to my day to day life. My whole working life has involved reading and writing and even today in my current career reading and writing is a necessary ability. I’ve written poems, a short story and 3 London books, one of which is a travel guide.

I had a blind friend once who lost his sight when he was a young boy. He had to learn braille and over the years he managed to obtain a computer on which he could write using braille. He worked in the office of the Courier company I was working for and held down a most fundamental role in the company. But it was always a challenge for him.

If I was unable to read and write I wouldn’t have been able to take up most of the opportunities I’ve had in the past and certainly currently. My blog is a vip part of my day and besides sharing my stories, I’m able to follow the stories of those that I identify with. I’ve been able to follow walkers on the Camino, learn about health benefits and latest research. I’m able to follow articles on finance and learn about trends like Bitcoin and Litecoin…which I might add are bloody exciting.

I taught my daughter to read at a very early age and one of my most endearing and enduring memories of her childhood are the nights when I would read her bedtime stories. One of our favourite books (I still have the relevant book) was The Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton. An absolute favourite I would read two or three chapters, following the faerie characters on their many adventures. I would also invariably fall asleep…something that happens a lot these days too when I read a book LOL 2 -3 pages and I’m asleep.  Another favourite book was The Neverending Story….still a favourite and I hope to read these two books to my grandchildren one day.

One of the hardest of my possessions to give up when I packed up in South Africa was my books. I had to leave hundreds behind. But sadly I don’t have the space for them. I did keep many of the favourites though. One book I have is The Water Babies. An old book that belonged to my father as a boy….it’s a treasured item.

So today I am grateful for reading and alongside of that I’m grateful I can write. There are millions who cannot and I can’t imagine how debilitating and hindering that must be.

31 Days of Gratitude – Day 11 

31 Days of Gratitude and today I’m grateful for Opportunity.

Once again it seems I am drawn to something that is non-tangible and today it’s opportunity aka luck. There are hundreds of quotes linked to opportunity and much discussion on the subject of opportunity or lack thereof. Described as “an occasion or situation that makes it possible to do something that you want to do or have to do, or the possibility of doing something”31 days of gratitude, recognising opportunities, travel opportunities,

It may seem quite an odd thing to write about, but I consider myself to be incredibly lucky with all the opportunities I have had in my life. I remember once many years ago, a company I was working for promoted me to Regional Personnel and Admin Manager. Prior to that I had been employed by the company in the position of Debtors Clerk. One of the ladies that had worked with the company for some years, a lot longer than myself got really shirty and on hearing about the promotion said “some of us are so lucky”. Well, luck is just hard work and taking the opportunity to do more than you are paid for. I may have started as a debtors clerk but due to my insatiable desire for learning I set about learning as much about the processes and systems of the company as possible. I investigated, and instigated systems and procedures to improve upon what was already being done. It saved the company a lot of money; ergo the promotion. But it was only because I took the ‘opportunity’ to learn and improve, not only myself but the company too that I got ‘lucky’.

It’s about perception.

On the negative side:

I took the opportunity to leave a very unhappy home life by getting married at 17.

I took the opportunity to get a divorce before I was even 21 even though being alone scared the hell out of me.

I took the opportunity to leave a destructive relationship even though he pursued me with threats of death.

I often look back on my life and see the ‘forks in the road’, the ‘opportunities’ that have come my way. Some I have acted on, others I have ignored. Invariably there are outcomes; both good and bad.

I took the opportunity to buy a house even though I really couldn’t afford it – we made a plan with a lot of sacrifices.

I took the opportunity to move to Cape Town when a good job offer came up.

I took the opportunity to go back to college in my mid 40’s and get a Distinction in Credit Management.

I took the opportunity to travel to Ireland for my sister’s 30th birthday after the company I was working for closed down.

I took the opportunity to apply for my British Citizenship.

I took the opportunity to travel as much as possible rather than have my own rented apartment.

I didn’t take the opportunity to buy Bitcoin when it was $2 a coin LOL – but cést la vie.

I think the point is that so often opportunities arise and because we are distracted, disbelieving, uncertain and afraid, we tend to not recognise an opportunity when it arises.

I’m grateful for the opportunities that I have had. The chance to live in the UK being one of the biggest I could ever have imagined. These days I am far more aware of the opportunities that come my way and endeavour to make the most of them. My job is the perfect example. I could stick within my ‘comfort zone’; have a home of my own with all the comforts that brings and only take jobs that are close to home, or I could take the opportunity that jobs in different parts of the country offer and travel to places I could never even begin to imagine, even though it is sometimes very uncomfortable.31 days of gratitude, recognising opportunities, travel opportunities,

As a result of the opportunities I have had to travel, I’ve started Project 101 and this is taking me to many more fascinating places in the UK and Europe, the most recent of course being the Camino I walked in September.

31 days of gratitude, recognising opportunities, travel opportunities, camino de santiago, walking the camino

scenes from Camino 2017

That has been an absolute highlight of my life, so today, as I reflect on all the wonderful, amazing and extraordinary places I have been and the thousands of awesome, stunning and incredible things I have seen in the last year, then yes……

Today I am grateful for the many opportunities that have been gifted to me.

31 Days of Gratitude – Day 10

 

 

31 Days of Gratitude and today I’m grateful for enchantment.

It’s possible you may think this is something quite weird to be grateful for; an emotion, but for me enchantment is an essential quality to bring to my day. I look for the enchantment in the every day, and there is much to enchant.

I have been lucky enough to be working in North West Wales during a period of snow-fall. It’s been amazing to wake the last 2 mornings and feel the quiet – that quiet you only get when it snows…..it feels like you’re in a cocoon of cotton-wool, the air feels close and fluffy and quiet.

As soon as I woke this morning at 06:30 I opened my window and just stood looking out at the sheer beauty and whiteness of a landscape covered by a thick layer of crispy, crunchy snow already 3 or 4 inches deep. After a quick cup of tea I pulled on my winter woollies and crept quietly out the house and down to the monument. The air was still that fantastic ice-blue you get just before dawn.

snow in wales, snowing in the uk, winter wonderland,

ice blue

I spent at least 20 minutes just listening to the utter quiet and peacefulness. It was totally enchanting.

snow in wales, snowing in the uk, winter wonderland,

the monument

All too soon I had to head back indoors and get my client up and dressed et al. But as soon as all my chores were done, he was like “go, go on and enjoy the snow, just be safe” Yayyy. So once again I pulled on all my winter woollies; those layers on layers that take ages to get on and then later to get back off again….and with my poles in hand I set off….a crunchy, crispy, slippery walk uphill to the castle.

I walked via the churchyard,

snow in wales, snowing in the uk, winter wonderland,

the churchyard

through the village and uphill to the castle. I was not alone 🙂 There were a couple of dozen people out, some with sleds, some slipping and laughing, some bundled up you wouldn’t know who they were, others clambering about in boots.

Up on the hill the snow hung heavy in the trees and covered the roads and verges.

snow in wales, snowing in the uk, winter wonderland,

the church from the hill

From the castle you can normally see Shropshire, but the fields were barely visible today, and it’s snowing still…..magical, enchanting. It truly felt like I was walking through Narnia.

snow in wales, snowing in the uk, winter wonderland,

Montgomery Castle

snow in wales, snowing in the uk, winter wonderland,

Today I am grateful to the opportunities for enchantment

31 Days of Gratitude – Day 9

31 Days of Gratitude and today I’m grateful for cats.

I love cats, I always have. From my earliest childhood memories, it’s always been cats for me. Despite that most of our early years were filled with dogs of all shapes, sizes, breeds and colours; Satan our Alsatian, Jasper our Cocker Spaniel, the 3 Pepe’s our Dachshunds aka sausage dogs, Blackie our mixed breed and many many others inbetween….for me it was always cats.

When my daughter was growing up we had pets of varying shapes, sizes and species; goldfish, hamsters, rats, dogs and cats. We once had 3 Maltese Poodles and 3 cats, a goldfish and a hamster. Then slowly but surely we finally ended up with just cats….

When I bought our house in Cape Town I never imagined we would end up with 5 cats at once. It was an unspoken rumour in the neighbourhood that I was the ‘cat lady’. If there was a stray or a lost cat I would have people at my door telling me they had found this or that stray and would I take it in!!! Obviously I couldn’t take them all but a number found their way into our home and hearts by design and stealth.

We moved to the Cape from the Transvaal in 1994 and took along 2 cats and 3 dogs. The dogs eventually moved house but the cats stayed. In time the number fluctuated; some died others arrived.

Misty – aka Kitty, a beautiful grey Russian Blue, rescued by my sister as a 4 week old kitten along with her sister and hand fed till 8 weeks and then given to my daughter as a gift. She was one of the most chilled and relaxed cats you could imagine. Nothing fazed her and being the matriarch it was up to her to welcome the future members into the family bosom. She never fussed about anything, and as each new member arrived, she would look them over and go back to sleep.

Sascha – a gorgeous tortoiseshell we bought at a pet shop. She cost ZAR 5.00 (less than £0.05 in today’s money). I remember my daughter pleading if we could have her, and me saying oh she’s only R5!!! Well that little girl cost me more than any of the others…she had one mishap after the other and plenty of vets visits. I took her to work with me for the first few weeks…needless to say not much work got done. After we moved into our house in Summer Greens she disappeared one day. We never did find her. 😦

Gizmo – a little black rescue cat with ears that were bigger than her head, saved as a kitten from some horror that was swinging her around in a plastic bag. She adored my daughter and disliked me LOL Whenever a new cat moved in she would flounce up the staircase having a hissy fit as she went, and sit there hissing her opinion. She never quite got the hang of welcoming any new members to the family. Unfortunately in time she had to be put to sleep as she developed a salivary virus that was attacking her system and after months on steroids we had no choice; her kidneys were failing. Poor baby.

Shanwa – my daughter’s little boy. Also a rescue cat he came to us at much the same time as Gizmo although he had a slightly better start that Gizmo. A stunning white and ginger cat, the two of them looked adorable together. He soon surpassed Giz in beauty and stature and grew into a stunning boy. He also adored my daughter but seldom got a look in with Ms Jealousy Gizmo. But he was chilled and just loved being with us. Sadly run over one night by a car racing through the neighbourhood, we heard the thump and when he dragged himself through the window we knew he was in trouble. A desperate race to the emergency vet late at night was to no avail. My daughter held him in the back of the car and actually felt his soul leave his body and pass through hers. A sad goodbye

Felix – one winter’s day as I started the engine of my car a long skeletal cat covered in sores and almost no hair slunk out from under the car…virtually unable to walk he staggered. I stopped the car and put out some food and water for him. This went on a few days, so I started feeding him regularly and as soon as he was able to trust me I put him in the car and took him to the vet. It appears he had been abandoned after his previous owners left the neighbourhood GRRRR. He stayed at the vet for nearly 2 weeks, they bathed, neutered and treated him. When he came home his hair was tough and harsh, the sores on his skin healing. Within months he had filled out and his hair grew soft and thick; the most beautiful ginger boy you could imagine. I adored him. He used to lie on my body, stretched out he tipped my knees to my head. A beauty.

Daisy – I remember one summer evening I was cooking supper and this beautiful little black and white regal princess came tentatively in through the back door. She walked through to the lounge and stationed herself under a high stool, sitting upright and still like sphinx  for about 15 minutes or so and then she left. This went on for a few days and then she brought the family : 2 little kittens. She had been sussing out the place to see if it was suitable for her babies. They were quite big so one of our neighbours offered to take one and we kept…

Tinkerbell – the cutest fluffiest ball of fur you can imagine. She was adorable. Unfortunately the vet made an error when determining her age, despite my comments to the contrary, and before long she along with Mummy was pregnant. Obviously she was way too young to have babies so we had to have her spayed 😦 Poor baby. But she rallied and grew into a most gorgeous girl. Mummy went on with her pregnancy, but it was too soon after the first litter and one weekend she ended up delivering 5 tiny little scraps…virtually hairless and with see-through skin and unable to suckle. Emergency visit to the vet on the weekend and R3,000-00 later we took Mummy home without the babies…they all died. To our absolute distress. But she rallied and before long, now spayed she recovered. They were the closest two cats I have ever known and stuck together like velcro. If you were looking for one, you found them both.

Then there was Patches who crept into our lives one Christmas Eve. I found him sleeping on our laundry. An adorable little boy we loved him to bits. Sadly when he was still but a kitten who loved to lie in the sun, our neighbour rode over his head with their car….I can’t tell you how much I hated that man. It nearly broke me picking up that little body. We buried him in our backyard.

The last of our every changing menagerie before we left the country to come live in the UK was a family of 5; Misty, Gizmo, Felix, Daisy and Tinkerbell. At the time I wasn’t sure how long I was going to be in the UK, so a friend of mine took them in as boarders, but as it turned out I relocated and they were so settled by then that she kept 4 of them…except poor little Gizmo.

We used to go visit them all whenever we went back to South Africa and it broke my heart to leave them behind.

Now 16 years later we have our Elsie. A fabulously fluffy gorgeous little Miss. A rescue cat who had been very badly treated before being rescued, my daughter adopted her 2 years ago. She is a beauty and adores my daughter. She tolerates me LOL. Mind you I hardly ever see her, travelling as I do, so whenever I walk through the door, she’s like ” who are you again?” But if my daughter is not around, my lap does suffice. So long as I don’t hug, kiss or cuddle her. A bit of stroking is fine but not too much. Elsie is the most photographed cat in the world. Hahahaha.

31 days of gratitude, cats, family cats

Our Elsie

At my current assignment I have the joy of looking after a gorgeous wee tiger of a boy; Charlie. Just a kitten, he is a mix of something or other and just stole my heart. I’ve been very bad and let him sleep on my bed. We have loads of fun in the morning and I have the bites and scratches to show for it. Being a yearling he is still feisty as hell and goes from sweet and loving to wild and crazy. I often remind him that it’s not really a good idea to bite the hand that feeds him. But I love him to bits. I shall have to acquire him in time LOL

31 days of gratitude, cats, family cats

Charlie

So yes, cats. They are absolutely the most amazing creatures and I am so grateful for the opportunities I have had to have these beautiful souls in my life.

Today I am grateful for cats and the love of an animal.

31 Days of Gratitude – Day 8

 

 

31 Days of Gratitude and today I’m grateful that I live in the Northern Hemisphere.

Last night I went to sleep in Wales, this morning I woke in Narnia. Yessss, it snowed during the night. hoorah!!!! I couldn’t believe my eyes when I looked out the window this morning. Our neighbours later commented that they had seen me out in my gown and slippers running down the road to take photos at 7:30am LOL I guess that’s a first in the neighbourhood.

31 days of gratitude, winter in the uk, snow in the uk, snow in wales, not just a granny travels

Hello from Narnia 07:30

As a kid and later as an adult I remember we had snow in South Africa, but except for one year as a kid when I was about 7 or 8, and one exceptional year in 1982 when we had blizzards of snow, the most we saw of snow was on the high mountains of the Drakensburg or the peaks of the mountains in the Western Cape. They usually had snow in the hinterland or in Lesotho, but we seldom had it in the suburbs.

So when I moved to first Ireland and then the UK, I anticipated seeing snow on a regular basis. In my first year of working in the UK I remember it snowed close to Christmas. My excitement knew no bounds and whilst it hasn’t snowed every year, we have certainly had some fantastic snowfalls.

I was in transit from London to Oxford one year; 2010/2011, on an assignment and I recall with clarity that just about the whole of the UK was covered with snow….just the far south of Cornwall escaped. One year too when I was home in London we had a fantastic snowfall and my daughter and I walked all the way from St John’s Wood to Hyde Park (January 2007) to play in the snow; snowmen, snow angels, snowballs…..we had an awesome time. Another year (2010) we had and exceptionally high snowfall in London. We were living near Alexandra Park and again we traipsed, knee-deep through the snow, through the park and up the hill to the crest of the hill where we spent an hilarious few hours playing in and relishing the snow. I borrowed a sled from some kids and proceeded to make a complete ass of myself sledding….not very successfully as you will see LOL

and then as if once wasn’t enough…”I want to go again”…LOL

Too much fun. We laughed so much that day. I eventually had to give the sled back to the kids I borrowed it from, but not without regret 🙂 We did go out and buy our own sled, but as fate would have it, it never snowed like that again!!! Certainly not in our area of the hood. We eventually gave the sled away during one of our many house moves.

I was really hoping that since I’d be working up in Wales this year that I’d see snow, and this morning my wish was granted. It was thrilling beyond words to wake up to a winter wonderland.

31 days of gratitude, winter in the uk, snow in the uk, snow in wales, not just a granny travels

at tad later 8:15

It was magical. As soon as I had woken my client and got him up, dressed, fed, dishes done, beds made, laundry in, cat fed and house tidied, with his permission I donned my shoes, jacket, hat and gloves and with poles in hand I walked up to the castle.

31 days of gratitude, winter in the uk, snow in the uk, snow in wales, not just a granny travels

walking up to the castle

The views are under normal circumstances just breath-taking, but with snow in the trees, on the verges and covering the landscape as far as the eye could see…..it was magical. It felt like Narnia.

31 days of gratitude, winter in the uk, snow in the uk, snow in wales, not just a granny travels

the village

How lucky am I!!!! 🙂

Today I am grateful that I live in the Northern Hemisphere and I am grateful that I got to see the snow 🙂 I could very well be at home and not seen any at all LOL

31 Days of Gratitude – Day 7

31 Days of Gratitude and today I am grateful for the opportunity I had to walk the Camino in September of this year.

It was touch and go. I was meant to walk it in 2016, but due to one thing and another; namely fear, fitness and money, I cancelled. I hadn’t actually paid anything out yet which was fortunate, but I had had my heart set on walking in September 2016. I decided instead to walk in 2017.

I had been training for about 6 months at the time I decided to cancel and also due to procrastination I hadn’t book any flights or accommodation. I had bought some hiking gear and thought I’d be ready to go……but firstly, during my research, I had read about the tragic story of Denise Thiem who was murdered on the French Route, as well as many other people who died from either accidents, heart failure or fell off mountains etc. It put the wind up my sails…or should I say reading those reports deflated my sails.

31 days of gratitude, camino de santiago, walking the camino, portuguese coastal route,

Portugues caravel

I had never before considered that people actually died on the Camino!!! I was horrified. Why, I’m not sure. Secondly I didn’t yet feel fit enough. I decided not to go.

Anyway, long story short (if possible) I planned instead for 2017. I felt so much more comfortable with that.

And on 7th September 2017 I landed in the city of Porto, Portugal on the first day of my big #MyEuropeanAdventure 😉 I had always wanted to visit Porto and now that I’m working on Project 101, the fact that Porto Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site was very exciting. Of course, not satisfied with just one WHS, while in Porto I visited Coimbra which was also on my list of places I always wanted to visit AND a UNESCO WHS. Bravo. 2 birds with one stone etc etc

I cracked on with the training and by the time I left for Porto I had over 800 miles under my belt, a new pair of trainers, more gear and a brand new backpack….my beautiful Osprey Tempest 30 Mystic Magenta aka Pepe – and as it turns out, despite my care to not over pack, loaded with way too much stuff LOL

porto to santiago, padron to santiago, osprey tempest 40 mystic magenta, walking the camino, nordic walking poles.

my trusty companions; Pepe (backpack) and Gemini (Nordic walking poles) – after 230 kms – the final 10.166 km to Santiago

But oh my word…the excitement on the day I left the UK and arrived in Portugal was exhilarating.  I was finally on my way… Camino 2017.

I spent a wonderful 3.5 days exploring Porto, with a day trip to Coimbra, and walked the first section of the Caminho Português from the Sé Catedral to Foz do Duoro, a walk that I absolutely loved, and met my first bona vide pilgrim; Jasmine from Colorado, USA.

The weather was perfect, the city was fascinating, I felt a sense of freedom that I seldom encounter in my day life, and 240 kms of the unknown lay ahead of me…..excited beyond words.

On the day I walked to Foz do Duoro I received some of the best advice that I had heard/read in all the blogs, articles and guides I had perused so thoroughly and carefully; “keep the ocean on your left and head north”.

31 days of gratitude, camino de santiago, walking the camino, portuguese coastal route,

Keep the ocean on your left and head north…

That little gem was communicated to me by a delightful young man at the Tourist Information Centre when I asked him about reaching Matasinhos from Foz do Duoro, and served me well all the way from Porto to Caminha.wp-image-1040417021

I had just about the best time you could imagine on my Camino, despite the pain, the exhaustion, the occasional frisson of fear or taking the wrong route, the sense of freedom was so exhilarating that once I finally reached Santiago de Compostela 11 days later, I didn’t want it to end. If I had had sufficient funds in my account I would have just travelled to the beginning of the next route and walked that too LOL

For some weeks after returning from my Camino, I struggled to put into words what it was that was incredible about this walk – besides, the fantastic scenery, the amazing people, the extraordinary scenery, the stunning churches, the wonderful landscape and the sheer exhilaration of reaching Santiago. It was the essence of simplicity.

Your day is stripped bare; reduced to 3 essential functions; walk, eat, sleep – repeat.

31 days of gratitude, camino de santiago, walking the camino, portuguese coastal route,

Walk. Eat. Sleep. Repeat. – I saw this on Facebook…. 🙂

For 11 days. That is all. You find the route to walk along and follow the arrows. You look out for places where you can eat and replenish your system. You look ahead for a place to sleep for the night. Nothing else matters much. Simplicity.

Of course that doesn’t for one second take away from the other experiences along The Way; the joy at finding a longgggg stretch of beautiful boardwalk ahead of you. The fun of meeting fellow pilgrims along the route.

porto portugal, porto to santiago, camino de santiago, walking the camino, project 101

Agata & Jakob – Poland

Stumbling across a centuries old chapel. Seeing your first horreo. Meeting your Camino Angel.

porto portugal, porto to santiago, camino de santiago, walking the camino, project 101

My Camino Angel; Susana – Portugal

A Super Bock after 4 hours of walking in blazing sunshine and temperatures in excess of 36 degrees C.

31 days of gratitude, camino de santiago, walking the camino, portuguese coastal route,

Super Bock

The sheer pleasure of eating a Magnum Double Raspberry. Of seeing the endless ocean on your left for hour after hour. Walking across a bridge built by the Romans. The amazing discoveries; a 999-arch aqueduct, an exquisite sunrise an equally extravagant sunset.

31 days of gratitude, camino de santiago, walking the camino, portuguese coastal route,

exquisite sunrise

Finding your Camino eyes. Recognising the Signs Along The Way. The excitement of discovering and recognising places that till that moment had only been an image in a book, on a facebook page, in a guide.

31 days of gratitude, camino de santiago, walking the camino, portuguese coastal route,

exciting discoveries

Discovering you are walking along an ancient route; Via Romana XIX, a Roman Road from the time of Augustus (63BC-14AD).

31 days of gratitude, camino de santiago, walking the camino, portuguese coastal route,

Via Romana XIX

Climbing a mountain. Crossing streams and rivers. Exploring cities hitherto unknown. The sheer joy of acquiring your first and then one after the other; your pilgrim stamps in your treasured Pilgrim’s Passport. And at journey’s end, the culmination of miles and miles of walking, sweating, talking, crying, pain and joy, you reach Santiago de Compostela. You receive your ‘Compostela’

santiago de compostela, pilgrims passport, walking the caminho portugues, walking the camino, portuguese coastal route porto to santiago

My Pilgrim’s Passport, the Compostela and Certificate of Completion

and watch the swinging of the Botafumeiro – the famous thurible found in the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral.

31 days of gratitude, camino de santiago, walking the camino, portuguese coastal route, swinging the botafumeiro

the swinging of the Botafumeira in the Cathedral of Santiago

Today I am grateful for having had the opportunity to walk the Caminho Português.

31 Days of Gratitude – Day 6

 

In Memorium

Hot on the heels of remembering my Mother on what would have been her birthday, yesterday. “I wasn’t there that morning my father passed away“…….Today I’m reminded of my Father who died 2 years ago.

For many years, probably decades in fact, I had a really fractious relationship with my Father and as yet I find it difficult to mourn for someone that left home when I was just 5 years old and my little sister just 2.

Of course while growing up he was my idol, I adored him and cried many desperate tears when he left after a visit. But in time he moved on, remarried and then the visits became less frequent, birthdays missed and behaviour criticised. The first 8 years weren’t too bad, we saw him on holidays and due to 2nd his marriage acquired a new brother, the same age as me.

But as the years went by, the criticisms grew more frequent and the disappointment began to show, and so the relationship deteriorated. I grew up and wanted to get married, he refused to give me away and I never forgave him for that. He went on to have another son, divorced that wife and married again, having 2 new daughters.

He only ever wanted sons. I got that. But I never got that despite that he didn’t raise me, he still felt it was his place to criticise me and find fault. I spent many years trying to please my father, to no avail. When I was in my 30’s I was promoted to Regional Personnel and Admin Manager for a large Courier Company in South Africa with 5 branches countrywide and the Head Office…..his response “are you sure you can manage that?”. I gave up.

After that I didn’t seek his approval. Time moved on, we grew up, I got older and eventually I moved to the UK. A relationship that was tenuous at best, was further strained by distance. Years went by without any much contact and the last time I remember really talking to him was on my 60th birthday 2 years ago. That was such a surprise, but time, as time proved, was running out. There was to be no opportunity to repair the relationship. C’est la vie.

One of my favourite songs that I love listening to is ‘The Living Years’ by Mike & The Mechanics. I remember how, when I first heard this song, how much it resonated. It reminded me of the relationship I had with my father…or lack thereof.

And so the years go by and although a sense of regret lingers, I feel no pain and no loss, but I think of him every time I hear this song….That’s good. I hope.