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Posts Tagged ‘not just a granny’

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

inspirational quotes

You are not too old and it is not too late

I was never a very bright scholar at school. I remember my sister usurping me when I was doing homework. When my Mother schooled me in arithmetic my sister would always pipe up with the answers before I had a chance to even think about them. She had a bent for math, I didn’t. I was 7, she was 4. I was pretty average at school, usually scraping through with 60% or so, my favourite subjects were English, Geography and History. They still are. But I can add numbers in my head…impresses my daughter no end. LOL

I left school very young at 16, and started work just before my 17th birthday. Even at work I wasn’t very bright, but I learned as I went and eventually over the years I progressed from being a very bad typist (using 2 fingers which gained me a lot of raps on the knuckles from my manager), to gaining a Distinction in Credit Management when I was 47…only took 30 years!! Nothing slow about me at all LOL

I stumbled into my career and the fact that I ended up in Credit Management had nothing to do with my math skills, but rather my ongoing learning….every new job I got, I took on more duties and learned more and more. My success in Credit Management came from my OCD when it comes to keeping things in order and being specific and having a winning way with people on the phone; persuading them to part with their money (I loved that aspect). I learned a lot over the years and went on to attain a position as a Credit Manager managing the Debtor books for a group of 5 companies and a staff of 10 ladies. I loved every minute of that job (except when my boss was being a shit).

And then just for fun I gave it all up (the company closed down), and travelled to Ireland which is where my real education began. I learned so much about history, lifestyle, and freedom.聽I loved living there so much I only returned to South Africa long enough to get my Ancestral Visa and head straight back to the UK never to return to SA on a permanent basis (I’m now a British citizen).

My mind has expanded beyond my comprehension and more recently I’ve had the ‘pleasure’ of learning about Crypto Currency. Jeez. If ever you want a learning curve on a big scale, try getting involved with Crypto Currency. My brain!!!! I had such a headache last night when I went to bed.

My daughter recently bought into Bitcoin. Now I had and have been very sceptical about Bitcoin and although I had been invited to buy into it last year when it was still at $200 a coin, I refrained…mostly because I didn’t have a clue what it was and I was afraid of investing in something so new…my loss as it turns out.

However, as mentioned my daughter sprang a surprise on me last week by sending me a message to say she’d bought into Bitcoin. I was like wft?? Seriously!? Anyhow, long discussion/discourse short, after many messages and discussions back and forth and because I trust my daughter implicitly, I decided to take the plunge and buy into it. Especially now that it’s at $8,000 + HAHAHAHA The story of my life. I always end up watching the bandwagon heading off into the distance saying ‘I wish I had of….’ Like the time in the early 1990’s when I had the opportunity to buy shares in a newly fledged Mobile phone company (whose name shall remain unmentioned), and I said “No! They’ll (mobile phones) never last” or when Facebook launched their shares…I was like nahhh. Well the missed lessons of the past haunt me still and I still miss out on technological happenings.

So when Bitcoin first arrived on the scene…I was like “Nope, not for me thanks”. I remember one of my now ex Facebook friends said to me “I can make you rich”. Well alarm bells went off in my head (a carry over from the Tony Robbins era), and I just said sorry not now. He unfriended me. His loss.

But, since I trust my daughter explicitly, and since I know she is very careful with her money, after she invested I thought…okay how much can I comfortably invest without feeling too much angst. I settled on 3.5 days of work and that’s the amount I invested.

All fine and good….and with her help and guidance and downloading apps I’d never heard of, I bought a VERY tiny portion of 1 Bitcoin. And then the learning began. Now I recognise most of the words they use, I understand what they mean individually, but in the context they are used in relation to Crypto Currency, I’ve said ‘wtf’ a lot this last few days!!! LOL. I may as well be reading Russian for all that any of it means anything to me…..

But I’m learning. And it has been fascinating. I learned about how to buy a TINY portion of a Bitcoin, about opening a ‘wallet’, about ‘selling’ (and how they charge a commission that makes my heart skip a beat), about watching the graphs (if you want to have a nervous breakdown…..that’s a good place to start), about buying another up and coming Crypto Currency using a Bitcoin. Holy Moly. Talk about a curve…those graphs have nothing on this. It’s scary, and thrilling and invigorating and I have learned once again that I have seriously latent issues with and about money. Most specifically the loss of money.聽The ABBA song ‘Money, Money, Money’ springs to mind.

I’m quite happy to take on more difficult jobs, to work and save up 拢1000 over 18 months so that I can take a walk across Portugal and Spain, but as soon as I watch the graphs and see my investment going down….eish. Painful. Red is bad, Green is good!!

So I’ve now I’m ‘learning’ to not watch the graphs…they change by the second. I check at 8am and make a note of the value (I had a spreadsheet up within hours of buying my first coin), and then at 10pm I make a note of the values and that is it. I’ve learned how to set ‘alerts’ and what a good alert is. I’m now learning about the terminology and how it applies to this crazy world. (okay, so I lied…I check at 1pm too 馃槈 )

There are apps galore; crypto news, crypto trackers, coin market, binance, crypto signals, bitcoin news, ico market….and on and on. Who knew? It’s a whole new world. I’ve only just learned how to operate instagram for goodness sake!! Oh and if you look at the apps on google play…right next to the crypto currency apps you’ll find an app for ‘meditation & relaxation’ – someone knows their market LOL

Meanwhile I’ve been reading as much as possible on Crypto Currency. Did you know there are over 750 different Crypto Currencies?? With names like YOYO & EOS & QSP & ADA & QTUM and yeah TNT!!! There’s even a SALT!! LOL I mean seriously, it’s insane. But I’m ignoring the lot except for the 3 I’ve invested in.

At 62, there’s only so much excitement a brain and heart can take.

Ever feel like you’re living in a Matrix?

Today, even though it’s doing my head in, I’m grateful for learning…..who knows where it will take me this time!!learning about crypto currency

31 Days of Gratitude – Day 4

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Today I’m grateful for my laptop. It seems like a fairly trivial thing to be grateful for, and yes I realise it’s not only a non-essential for life, but it’s also a staple of a consumer society.

However, my laptop has been invaluable to me. I remember when I got my very first one…about 14 years ago. I was living in London, working as a Carer then as now, and between my sister and I we decided I needed a laptop rather than going into internet cafes all the time.

I’d started blogging by then and it was a pain having to download my blog to an external hard-drive, then walk to the internet cafe during my break, then login and download over an insecure connection and finalise the blog. Time consuming and not very secure.

So the decision was made to buy a laptop. My sister suggested a Dell and since I had nothing to compare it to, and had no knowledge of laptops and how they worked, I said go ahead. In due course they delivered the laptop, and boy was it heavy….it still is.

And then the fun began…..first I had to learn ‘how to do set up’ ergo charging the battery, setting up the account, and going through the set up process….this I had to be talked through by my brother-in-law from Ireland. That is how much of a novice I was. I used it for 3 years till it began to go so slowly it may as well have gone backwards. Since then I’ve come leaps and bounds.聽 Once I decided to get a new computer I took out a contract with my network provider and I’ve upgraded my computer contract twice in the intervening 10 years. I try to make them last till they collapse (which is what happened to the last one 3 years ago). My current model has lasted well over 3 years……touch wood.

The reason I’m grateful for my laptop is that it has allowed me to reach into the wonderful and sometimes scary world of the internet. I’ve since learned to build a website, download, edit and upload photos and videos, create videos from images and progress to the various photo-sharing apps. I’ve learned how to use Google to find out just about anything I set my mind to, even sometimes incredibly obscure questions…I use my laptop to plan my Caminos by using Google Maps and accessing relevant websites.

My laptop has allowed me to create a 2nd website (which is where you are reading this article) and yesterday I managed to ‘crack a code’. If you look at the top right hand side you’ll see a button for the SA Blog Awards…well, when I tried to paste their code into the wordpress ‘widget’ it kept telling me that there were 6 errors I had to fix first before it could save. I was like ‘wtf’ ..seriously!!!

Anyway after about 15 minutes of stress, I hopped onto google and within 30 minutes I had fixed the errors and voila the badge was up.聽 I was well pleased 馃檪

I have learned so much since those early days when I lifted the lid on my Dell in 2003, I have travelled vicariously through reading other peoples blogs, created relationships on Facebook, Tweet for China, loaded images via instagram, flickr and pinterest and as a result of this one of my images was chosen to feature in a book about the Queens of England. 馃檪

I’ve learned how to create spreadsheets (I’m the spreadsheet queen) LOL, how to edit images in powerpoint, how to create videos using movie maker, I’ve written and created 3 books on Bookwright and so much else it’s staggering.

Having my laptop has stopped me from going crazy when I’m in a stressful position at work by allowing me to be creative, to write and to communicate. I am able to keep up with world affairs, with latest trends in politics and travel and investments. It’s allowed me to share my stories and photos of far-flung places and taken me on the road to Project 101.

I am grateful for my laptop. It is my most ‘prized possession’

31 Days of Gratitude – Day 1

31 Days of Gratitude – Day 2

31 Days of Gratitude – Day 3

 

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Day 14 Wednesday 2017.09.20 Caldas de Reis to Padr贸n

Today I learned how ‘The Camino Provides’.

The Camino Provides - 2017

The Camino Provides – 2017

I had bought the badge before I set off on my #Camino2017 and although it was stitched to my bag, I didn’t really give it much thought until; today….I met my Camino Angel – her name is Susana

We are pilgrims on a journey,
we鈥檙e companions on the road;
we are here to help each other
walk the mile and bear the load.

Words from Richard Gillard鈥檚 The Servant Song

After I retrieved my phone the night before, I sank into a deliciously hot bubble bath; ahhh heavenly. I could feel the weariness seeping out my bones and my stress levels beginning to sink. Before I fell asleep in that pool of deliciousness I dragged myself out and before long, attired in my pyjamas – the ‘everything hurts’ t-shirt my daughter gifted me, hair washed and dried, teeth cleaned (I miss my electric toothbrush), I slipped between the cool crispy sheets of a marvellously huge bed with a superbly comfortable mattress at the Motel Caldas. Although my initial impression of the motel had not been favourable, I have to say the bed was divine. I slept like a baby, undisturbed by any sort of noise except the occasional howl of what I assume was a wolf….shivers of delight.

Awake bright and early, I waited patiently for my breakfast, which, after much sign language and a smattering of Spanish the night before, was arranged for 7.00am. By 7.30 it hadn’t appeared. I rang reception, but again my lack of Spanish tripped me up. Then I had the genius idea of using google translate. So once again ‘una momento Signora gracias’ I typed ‘good morning. please may I have my breakfast now’ into google translate and pressed the voice button. Hey presto, quick as a flash google had voiced my request, the lady answered (I have no idea what she said) but within 5 minutes my breakfast was in my room!! LOL Too funny. I mean seriously, using Google translate to talk to someone on the phone!! Whatever next?? But it worked. By 8:14 I was on my way…Padr贸n. My last night on The Way and I was feeling wayyy too emotional. I walked the 1.6 kms into town and was glad of it….

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Early morning in the spa town of Caldas de Reis

The rising sun, not quite yet above the horizon, cast a rosy pink glow over everything, even the sign board looked pretty. I’m so sorry I didn’t have more time to explore Caldas de Reis, it looks enchanting. I had seriously miscalculated the distances of the various stages. Virtually on my own, I enjoyed my early morning stroll through the streets of Caldas de Reis, so much so that I went for a brief walkabout 馃檪 I noticed that even the drain covers had a scallop shell pattern.聽I encountered one of the many ‘fierce’ animals in Spain LOL. I’d read so many reports from peregrinos saying they encountered fierce dogs and terrifying animals along the Camino, that I was quite trepidatious I may have the same problem…Nope.

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one of the very fierce animals I met on The Way to Santiago 馃槈 even the drain covers have scallop shell patterns

Wow, Day 4/5 – my pilgrimage was almost at an end; I was on my way to Padr贸n, but not before my early morning treat of coffee and pastry.聽 I spotted a likely cafe; Panader铆a Cervela just over the road from the Igrexa de San Tom茅 Becket tree-lined square and was soon ‘sitting in a cafe in Caldas de Reis in Galicia’ drinking caf茅 con leche and eating pastries on this my 2nd last day of my Camino 2017.

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Caf茅 con leche and a sweet pastry for breakfast

How amazing is that! My 2nd last day!! It felt so surreal. I’d been crying for ages and just couldn’t stop. This has been such an incredible experience – exhausted, excited, in pain and tired beyond belief, I don’t want this to end. Wow. Camino eh. Fantastic. I’ve a 19km push through to Padr贸n today and sent Pepe ahead again with Tuitrans. Tomorrow I’ll carry him into Santiago – suitably symbolic, me thinks. I can’t quite believe that I’m just 2 days away from my destination. Is my journey just beginning, or ending. I felt dazed.

As with Portugal, and the many towns of Spain now behind me, Caldas de Reis had it’s fair share of ramshackle buildings in the centre and outskirts of town. This really is a mystery to me, this urban decay.

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Urban decay and The Way

By 09:22 I had left CdR proper behind me and was heading into more rural terrain, the ever present scallop shells, arrows and little walking man on a blue board guiding me on my way. I was going to miss this so much.

With the suns rays casting a rainbow halo on the ground, I encountered my first marker of the day; 41.443 kms to Santiago. Oh my gosh! I had almost 200 kms behind me from when I left Porto. Truly, I could hardly believe I’d come this far. Awed AND dazed LOL

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41.443 kms to Santiago

Ahead of me, pilgrims trod a well-worn path past suburban houses; destination Santiago de Compostela. I briefly wondered where they had all started their journeys. And no matter where we started, now for this moment in time, we were all walking the same path; weaving our way through vineyards hung with bunches of deep red succulent grapes, treading quietly past ancient stone-built sheds adorned with small figurines sculpted of stone; St James – the pilgrim. Dotting the fields, the now familiar聽h贸rreos. The rising sun threw shards of light through leafy boughs still heavy with the leaves of summer. Soft rays casting shadows; highlighting the terrain of an ever-changing landscape; asphalt gave way to gravel and sandy paths, the whisper of footsteps – pilgrims walking in contemplative silence though tunnels of shady green forests, past the deep green and russet browns of ferns mixed with delicate pink heather growing with wild abandon along the wayside . A tearful pilgrim gently rests a token atop a cairn of similar tokens. Stop briefly to give her a hug. A temple of God could be no more hushed.

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Pilgrims walking. Vineyards. Stone sheds. Morning sun. tunnels of green. Autumnal fern

And now; 39.337 kms to Santiago.

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39.337 kms to Santiago

10:32 and I’m in O Cruceiro, a marker tells me I’m still on the Via Romana XIX. Awesome. Ahead a stunning Iglesia;聽the Church of Santa Mari帽a in Campo, the sun’s rays casting rainbow halos from behind the facade. A still sleepy village, its inhabitants just glimpsed between the trees. Blue skies.

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The Via Romana XIX. O Cruceiro. Church of Santa Marina in Campo

36.284 kms to Santiago.

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36.284 kms to Santiago 馃檪 and pilgrims walking

35.568 kms to Santiago and a photo op. By now I am adorned with Camino trinkets; keepsakes or amulets to keep me safe? My fabulous walking poles ever to hand! I didn’t lose weight on the Camino LOL

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35.568 kms to Santiago and I’m adorned with amulets

In an orchard, the night’s chill leaves crusty ice on strands of a spider’s web; diamonds glinting in the early morning sun.

35.039 kms and a bunch of juicy green grapes…. left in offering or forgotten?

Then聽Casalderrique; a town on the outskirts of the Caldas de Reis聽to Padr贸n聽del Camino Portugu茅s聽to Santiago de Compostela. Fascinating. I’m loving these strange, evocative words and names.

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a spider web strung with diamonds. 35.039 kms and a bunch of grapes. Casalderrique

Suddenly the weather changes; a swirling mist descends, enveloping wooded hills, sleepy houses, and the watery rays of sun, sending a chill along my spine. And 3 minutes later we have blues skies again – the sun heading towards midday doesn’t quite warm the chilly air.

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a damp mist descends. pilgrims walk beneath blue skies

A self-service wayside caf茅 with a loo for peregrinos. A stunning pilgrim sculpture and scallop shell mark the spot.

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Peregrino stop; rest awhile

34.584 kms to Santiago – Benvidos O Concello de Valga – Camino de Santiago.
Once again we’re required to cross the dreaded N550 & it’s now 33.799 kms to Santiago
Reminiscent of Portugal, I am once again following footprints in the sand.

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Benvidos O Concello de Valga – Camino de Santiago.

33.089 kms to Santiago and once again we’re on asphalt and walking through forests of green.

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32.049 kms to Santiago back on the gravel, and it’s all downhill from here

By now my right ankle was burning; each step excruciatingly painful as I gingerly put pressure on each step downhill. I really could have done without downhills today.聽聽After the last 2 days of extensive and excessive walking, and crossing 3 mountains, my right ankle is in a bad way. I’ve barely covered 5 kms and walking down the steep downward and the steep upward inclines has been agony. I have a badly contracted muscle just above the right ankle that’s just seriously painful. For the last km I’ve been saying I’ll stop soon I’ll stop soon but just kept going. Suddenly there, in a shady clearing above a stream, I saw a wooden shelter and a group of 4 ladies resting. I hobbled over, they made space for me and to my sheer wonder, one of their party, a young lass said “I’m a massage therapist, can I massage your feet?” OMG I could have cried. Oh please!!聽馃挒馃挒 The pain of the massage was tremendous, but the relief was even more so. With lots of laughter and admonishment, 3 of the ladies, chirruping away in Spanish produced a scissors, a roll of strapping tape and foot cream! After massaging my legs and feet Susana strapped up my ankle; the relief was amazing.

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My Camino Angel; Susana from Vila do Conde

Thank you Susana from Vila do Conde, you were truly my angel today. Today I learned how the Camino provides 馃挒馃挒馃挒馃挒馃檹馃檹

The Spanish ladies left after admonishing me about walking too far (Susana translated) and then Susana left soon after, repeatedly asking if I was okay now. Yes, thank you so much. I’ll just rest awhile and continue on my way. With lots of hugs and a wave with the tentative possibility of crossing paths in Padr贸n we said goodbye. Sadly I didn’t see her in Padr贸n.

Walking a lot easier now as I made my way slowly to Padr贸n. Actually, I wasn’t in any hurry. It was a fine day, the sun now warm on my skin, I passed fields, a pretty stone church (they are so lovely), and then suddenly……..29.883 kms to Santiago. OMG!!聽馃榾

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Hoorah!! 29.883 kms to Santiago

To my delight I spotted a pair of old boots covered with stones of all shapes and sizes, sitting on top of a Camino marker. What story could they tell?

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these boots were made for walking…..

Another h贸rreo and a field of corn. And now Cedelo. The time was 14:09 and I had been walking for nearly 6 hours with just a few rest stops in between and a massage LOL. Another vineyard, dripping with plump bunches of ripe red grapes. Oh how delicious they looked. Hard to resist the temptation.

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snapshots of Spain

Don’t STOP walking Go. Go. Gooo

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Don’t STOP walking..Go Go Gooo!!! follow the yellow arrow!!!

Contrary to the advice given, I’ve stopped for a short break. It’s blazing hot. Almost 3pm and I’ve been walking for well over 6 hours.

26.603 kms to Santiago. 6 hours 38 minutes and 14.84 kms covered so far!聽 Padr贸n where are you. Slowww going today. Another downward slope. Urgh.

And on I walked; slowly passing towns and hamlets – As Cernadas, Chenlo, San Miguel, Condide, Valga. The names unfamiliar on my tongue, I longed to pronounce them properly. A silent vow to learn Spanish.

I passed a house adorned with the most glorious display of glorious bright pink Hibiscus!! A caf茅 wall adorned with dozens of scallop shells; fresh brewed coffee served here. A bizarre dummy dressed as a pilgrim nun standing next to a display stand of trinkets. An arrow points me in the right direction. A small village dominated by an enormous church its graveyard packed tight with marble and stone graves and memorials. A railway line to be crossed; my nemesis. A pretty painted house, red and white paint peeling off mouldy walls. A tunnel snakes beneath the railway line; the blue board with the walking man points the way; pilgrim this is your route.

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hibiscus

 

Suddenly we’re in suburbia once again – Pontecesures; thus named because in Roman times a bridge was built here. Pontecesures was聽one of the main Galician ports during the Roman era from whence products were shipped to聽Rome. The litchen-covered 10 arched bridge spans the River Ulla and separates the provinces of Pontevedra and A Coru帽a. I hurried along my way, crossing the bridge and for just a brief moment, again we’re on the dreaded N550. The sun-warmed day with bright blue skies reflecting in the water of the river as it flows rapidly by.聽 I’m getting closer now.聽Just a little further and I’m walking alongside another stone-arched bridge, this time carrying the N550 rather than spanning a river. At the junction of Aldea Calzada and Ponte Aldea, a scallop shell filled with plants rests on a stone pillar inscribed with the letters ‘no ori eses dsp’:聽interpreted as: “Neptune, the inhabitants of the Iria forum, placed this one at their expense“.

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Pontecesuras – not far to go now!!

15:19 – 7 hours and Hurrah. Padron is on the horizon 馃憦馃憦馃憦馃榾馃榾馃榾

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Padron!!!!聽馃榾

25.018 kms to Santiago. 16.425 kms walked. This was the last marker I saw before reaching Padr贸n, so I’m guessing mapmywalk (said I walked 13.83 kms) didn’t update properly after losing gps signal at various points along the way. Clearly my distance was indeed the 18.4 kms that the Guide book I bought calculated LOL

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The last marker before Padr贸n….who lied? Google, the Pilgrim’s Guide or the markers!!

Hoorah!!! its 15:09 and finally I’m in Padr贸n, a cafeteria on the corner tempts me in, but I resist.聽 I strolled along the tree-lined “Espolon Promenade” where I saw a statue of Camil Jos茅 Cela (1916鈥2002), writer and聽Nobel Prize聽winner who was born here. Padr贸n聽is a concello (Galician for municipality) in the聽Province of A Coru帽a and divided into five聽parishes. I’m in the parish of Santa Mar铆a de Ir铆a Flavia (or Ir铆a Flavia).

caldas de reis to padron, camino de santiago, porto to santiago, portuguese coastal route, the camino portugues, walk 1000 miles, travel diaries, not just a granny, walking the camino, snapshots of spain,

Padron;聽the parish of Santa Mar铆a de Ir铆a Flavia

The town suffered several attacks in the 10th and 11th centuries by both Vikings and Normans….geez, they were everywhere!! According to tradition, it was in Ir铆a Flavia that the Apostle聽Saint James聽first preached during his journey in聽Hispania. Legend has it that soon after his death (AD44), two of his disciples brought his head and body聽in a stone boat to Ir铆a Flavia from Jerusalem where he had been beheaded by聽“Herod the king” (Herod Agrippa I). The river Sar flows alongside the promenade through Padr贸n and past the cathedral where you can see the ‘pedron’. After resting here the disciples聽took his remains inland for burial at聽Compostela, now known as Santiago de Compostela. As a result, Ir铆a Flavia, now colloquially known as Padr贸n, has developed into a popular passing place on the聽Camino de Santiago pilgrimage聽route. 聽Besides being famous for it’s links to St James,聽Padr贸n is famous for it’s peppers (Galician聽pementos de Padr贸n).

I stopped at the cathedral;聽Iglesia de Santiago where the body of St James lay before being taken to Compostela. Tradition has it that it was here that the boat coming from the Holy Land carrying the body of the Apostle James was moored on the 鈥減edr贸n鈥, a granite block; still preserved under the altar of the Iglesia de Santiago. The history of these places is just extraordinary. I stayed for about 30 minutes, just enjoying the overwhelming sense of spirituality, peace and tranquillity of the cathedral. I had my passport stamped, bought a trinket and made a donation.

caldas de reis to padron, camino de santiago, porto to santiago, portuguese coastal route, the camino portugues, walk 1000 miles, travel diaries, not just a granny, walking the camino, snapshots of spain,

Iglesia de Santiago where the body of St James lay before being taken to Compostela

After a few minutes of contemplation I left the church and did a Google search for my albergue. Only 85 metres away 馃憦馃憦馃憦馃榾馃榾馃榾 Hallelujah.

I’m not sure who thought cobbled roads were a good idea, but I’d like to assure them they’re not. 馃槙馃槙馃槙聽Albergue Corredoiras is probably the most well organised albergue I’ve stayed in so far, although I had to make my own bed聽馃槀馃槀 Reminded me of boarding school. I’m in a multi bed, mixed sex dorm and now in the fully reclining position, as you can see from my last pic. I did not know that my feet could聽be this painful, however the 3 x 500mg paracetamol I’ve swallowed since this morning appears to be kicking in. So I’m going to do what every sensible pilgrim should do… sleep. 馃槾馃槾馃槾

caldas de reis to padron, camino de santiago, porto to santiago, portuguese coastal route, the camino portugues, walk 1000 miles, travel diaries, not just a granny, walking the camino, snapshots of spain,

Albergue Corredoiras

What a journey. Today has been so painful, but it forced me to slow down. It’s been very hot again today and the last 5 kms were tough. I noticed that the Buen Camino greetings were more tired that before, pilgrims walked slower, feet dragging. Padr贸n looks amazing. I’m glad I got here early enough to rest for a while and then hopefully get out to explore. Just a little bit 馃槈

Day 4/5 walked 13.83 (?) kms and 39374 steps over 7 hours, 58 minutes door to door. I’m not sure which is more accurate, Google maps or mapmywalk聽18.7 vs 13.83 kms. Hmmm??

Tomorrow; Santiago de Compostela. Too soon…..

But first, a little rest and then time to explore…. LOL The proprietor gave me a basket for my laundry but I was so tired I simply didn’t have the energy to unpack. Dirty clothes till Santiago I guess. I figured that pilgrims of days gone by didn’t have the luxury of a washing machine, so I too would just wear whatever it was that came out my bag.

I loved the configuration of the hostel sleeping quarters. Each bunk had it’s own locker and a curtain for privacy. Pepe had once again been safely delivered, so into the locker went he, and onto the bed went I. Snooze time. See Places I stayed on the Camino for more about the聽Albergue Corredoiras.

In case you missed it,you can read about Day 3 here聽from Arcade to Caldas de Reis

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‘Pilgrimage’ What an evocative word. When you hear the word pilgrimage it has so many meanings and connotations, different meanings for each person. You can go on a religious pilgrimage, a spiritual pilgrimage, you can take a pilgrimage to a previous home or favourite place. A pilgrimage can be something you go on or aspire to.

Since medieval times, the main connotation of the word pilgrimage has been in relation to monks or religious persons making a journey to one place of worship or another, either as a desire to gain more knowledge or in penance. Most of these pilgrim ways have followed main route of transportation; routes well-worn and familiar, travelled by many – creating routes of pilgrimage; corridors towards a shrine.

As with the thousands of people who traversed these routes, the paths used, varied over time – always flexible, always changing to accommodate one change or another. Perhaps a muddy field needed to be avoided in one particular year of bad weather and so ‘pilgrims’ found a ‘way’ around it and formed a new path. Towns sprung up along these ‘ways’ to accommodate the pilgrims who were needing shelter and food or rest; albergues and hospitals were opened, relics were discovered and distributed to tiny churches along the way and so a path was beaten to that door.

I remember my delight on discovering a Pilgrim’s ‘hospital’ on one of the many visits my daughter and I have made to Canterbury.

pilgrimage

The Pilgrims Hospital in Canterbury, Geoffrey Chaucer and the River Stour through Canterbury

Perhaps some hardy monk or another decided he needed to test his mettle and climbed higher than before and so a new path was created. 聽Perhaps a pilgrim grew old and tired on his journey and so sought an easier way around the hills and mountains; found聽obstacles in his way and so created another new path……

And yet, despite these many paths, both old and traditional or new, some still to be forged, the pilgrims always found their way to where they were headed. In this case the road to Santiago – also known as The Way of St James.

I love the idea of this, different paths for different folks; isn’t this true of life as well? Traditional is great, but one thing I’ve learned in life is that we each walk our own path. We can create new traditions. Nothing is original. If we went back in time to when St James first walked and preached the gospels in Spain, the paths he travelled along then are probably very different to what they are now. And after he died and was buried, then found and his relics installed at the Cathedral in Santiago, and eventually pilgrims first started walking to Santiago,聽even the ‘original’ paths, of which there are many, would be vastly different to what they are today. Certainly more well trod!!

And let us not forget one of the most famous of all pilgrims; Geoffrey Chaucer

pilgrimage, geoffrey chaucer, canterbury tales

Geoffrey Chaucer; author of The Canterbury Tales – a pilgrimage (journey) to Canterbury

In September of this year I’ll be walking the Portuguese Coastal Route to Santiago de Compostela, and I’m planning on following my own path with an eye on the general direction towards Santiago. From Tui I expect I’ll be following more traditional routes, but I’m not going to stress too much about the exact route, after all, it’s the journey that’s important and what we learn along ‘The Way’.

pilgrimage the way to santiago

finding my way to Santiago

Santiago de Compostela is the capital of northwest Spain鈥檚 Galicia region. It鈥檚 known as the culmination of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route, and the alleged burial site of the Biblical apostle St. James. His remains reputedly lie within the Catedral de Santiago de Compostela, consecrated in 1211, whose elaborately carved stone facades open onto grand plazas within the medieval walls of the old town.

I follow the blogs, instagram profiles and facebook updates of a number of people who are either currently walking or have walked one or another of the many many routes to Santiago, and I often read how they got lost, lost the path or were misdirected and again you can so easily relate this to life.

I travel a lot with my job and I love to travel in my off time between jobs, and when I lived in London in particular, people asked ” aren’t you afraid of getting lost?”. My answer is always the same…..you can never be lost, you are just in a place you are unfamiliar with and it’s not where you had planned to be. Jump on a bus or a train, look at a map, you will find you are not lost at all. I remember when I first lived in London back in 2002/2003, I had a conversation with my Father about how big London was and how much it terrified me to travel around that vast city. He replied: “just think of London as many small villages all linked together by the network of the tube/underground system. You are never more than a few meters from either a train or a bus, you can never get lost.” It changed my perception of London completely and from then on I was never afraid to go out and explore the many ‘villages’ of London; often getting ‘lost’.

As I walk the Camino in September, I will have my handy wee app ‘mapmywalk’ switched on, and with an eye on the east to my right and the west to my left I will follow my own path north till I reach the Minho river that separates the north of Portugal from the south of Spain. From there; at Caminha, I will head inland with the sun in my eyes in the morning and at my back聽in the evening till I reach Valen莽a and finally cross over into Spain to Tui.

looking east

Looking east at Broadstairs; sunrise

looking west

Looking west at Florence; sunset

From Tui I will follow the more traditional routes as I traverse the final 100 kms to Santiago so that I too may gain my ‘compostela’. A pilgrim.

Footnote:

The Minho divides the Spanish Tui and Portuguese Valen莽a do Minho, towns that guarded an important bridge for road and rail. Both towns preserve fortifications and are national monuments.

Addendum:聽you can even go on a pilgrimage to a famous place to see the final resting place of a King; Richard III (thanks Beth 馃槈 your facebook update was most timeous).

http://leicestercathedral.org/about-us/richard-iii/richard-iii-tomb-burial/

a pilgrimage to visit the tomb of Richard II at Leicester cathedral

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One of the first things I did last year when I had first made serious plans for walking the Camino was to find out what equipment I needed and what I should wear. I confess I did go on a mad spending spree while in South Africa last year in May and bought a whole load of clothes and things at the duty free store LOL!!! I’m sure they saw me coming with my bushy tail, bright eyes and Rands (拢’s) to spend!! I also went a little bit mad last year when I got home and I’m sure my purchases increased the profit margin of Mountain Warehouse quite substantially. Since then I calmed down a bit and did the sensible thing: research!! I found a fab link that I downloaded immediately

Printable Packing List

a most sensible list

So, in light of all this excitement, and especially since I have now booked my plane ticket, and the journey is real, I have set up various spreadsheets and done loads of research;

Equipment – what do I need, what’s useful and what can I realistically leave behind?

2016-05-31-17-09-27-1262409555510161159_231798962

Lookie looook!!! 馃檪 Some of my #Camino2016 gear has arrived!! In keeping with the colour of my jacket and rucksack, I’ve bought as much as I can in purple…can’t help myself; colour coding LOL. So in this pile is a Summit 250 sleeping bag, an emergency foil blanket, survival bag, waterproof pouch (for carrying stuff with easy access), poncho, BPA free water bottle, IsoCool t-shirts, microfibre travel towel, travel bottle set. All of which will be useful for future walking trips and camping too.

I bought a lot of equipment/accessories while I was in South Africa, and so far the tops and pants I bought are going with. The jacket has been converted from two layers to one; the fleece will go with me, the outer rain-jacket will stay at home (too bulky). The gloves will go with, as will the woolly cap. Not sure I will actually need them, but I don’t want to spoil my experience by freezing. The khaki bush-veld sun-hat I bought, although totally unflattering 馃槈 will go with me. Trainers I bought in SA are totally not suitable and hurt my feet like blazes, so they have been traded in for a different pair, which so far, although quite comfortable, will also not be going with me…not quite right. So the search for suitable walking shoes is still on, although the sandals I bought are amazing. I foresee lots of walking along the beaches of Portugal in those!! Pants; found the ideal type, only problem is that they are men’s. Why don’t they make women’s pants with the same accessories….like leg pockets on both legs??? You have no idea how useful those pockets are for accessibility and storage. Oh well.

Clothes and accessories – again, how much do I realistically have to have.

Fortunately I have a sister and brother-in-law who do a lot of hiking and camping out, so they have given me some advice. Of course being a woman, my inclination is to take enough for every eventuality, but common sense is struggling to prevail and I am already mentally discarding this, that and the next thing. The Facebook pages I joined have been very useful as experienced Camigas have posted updates on what they took and what they discarded as the days went by and the pack got heavier (funny how that happens!!). One thing I have decided on is that I will cut my hair very short before setting out. Save on carrying shampoo and conditioner, and also for ease of wear. I tried on a monk’s outfit at Torre Abbey In Torque earlier this year! Perfect!! I’m seriously considering…..

Backpack – I have taken to accosting people at airports and train stations when I see a backpack that looks like it might fit the bill.

camino luggage

some ideas for the equipment

LOL The wearers have so far been very accommodating and happy to answer my many questions. So many aspects to consider….who knew??? But so far, the backpack I was going to borrow from my daughter last year has been found wanting, my backpack has been found wanting, and after much research and 5 columns on the spreadsheet to compare features, and the many I have seen on the Camino forums, it seems that Osprey will fit the bill – now to decide on which one. It’s a toss-up between two models: Osprey Sirrus 50 L or Osprey Tempest 40 L – urgh. Decisions, decisions.

the portuguese route to santiago

A map showing Portuguese Routes to Santiago

Distances – how far can I walk each day to accommodate my time allowance without killing myself!! My average speed/gait that I walk normally, is 4 km’s per hour. That means I can comfortably walk 24km’s in 6 hours. However, there is the backpack to consider, the heat to consider, the terrain to consider, and my durability to consider. The towns where I have decided to overnight (this is open to change) are all within 20-26 km’s apart with only 1 day being 32kms; Tui to Redondela. I am therefore staying in Valenca聽for 2 nights and a day to recover/prepare for the next stage. So far the total route is either 260 km’s or 285 km’s depending on which site you read. I’ve done a google distance calculation from town to town, added on a km to each and hoping for the best. Except for the last 100 km’s which you have to do consecutively in order to qualify for the certificate; Compostela, I can if necessary use the occasional bus or train. But I feel this would spoil it somehow so hoping to manage to walk the whole way.

Walking!!! Yes this raises all sorts of issues: care of feet, the correct shoes, types of terrain and poles!

Gosh, who knew that poles could be such a contentious issue? I posted an update just the other day to say that I had bought a paid of Nordic walking poles and had anyone on the group any comment? Yes, they did. 90% were positive but one or two were quite patronising and scathing. LOL. Anyway the concensus is that they are a good thing to have, now I just have to learn how to use them properly…there is apparently a special way of walking with them for maximum benefits. If they save my knees and ankles, then baby I am there!! Besides the training, it seems you need the rubber tips for cobbles and spikes for beach. Hmmm, who knew? I’ve also found a fab site, Camino Ways, and although I haven’t booked any tours with them, their foot care advice has been most useful.聽http://caminoways.com/footcare-when-walking

Accommodation – where to sleep each night?

sculpture of a pilgrim in dublin

I saw this truly evocative sculpture at Christchurch Cathedral in Dublin

The obvious choice would be alburgues, but from what I’ve seen on the various forums, this is a bit tricky. They are cheap and highly sought after and in many instance ‘pilgrims’ jump ahead by using taxis to get to the next town early and secure the accommodation before the ‘walkers’ get there. Seems a bit ludicrous really and not at all in the spirit of the Camino. To each his own hey! So I think I shall take a mix of AirBnB, hotels and the pilgrims alburgues. The AirBnb would give me the benefit of a private room, a place to prepare a proper meal, a comfortable bed and a dedicated shower LOL. Hotels likewise except for the meals, but mostly they include a continental breakfast….the alburgues are very basic, communal facilities and bedrooms with bunks, but mostly with kitchens where meals can be prepared, so I shall balance the 3 to both enjoy the experience and stick with the pilgrim aspect. From what I’ve seen on the forums, except for the purists, this mix appears to be the norm.

Food – what to eat?

I recently spent 10 days in Italy between Pisa and Florence and as usual was so busy exploring and tramping the streets trying to see as much as possible, I didn’t get to eat much…as a result of which I have suffered terrible cramps in my feet and legs since getting back home. Obviously my body couldn’t cope with the burning up of nutrients without being topped up!!! Lesson learned. I asked on Facebook and got some useful advice that I shall follow. Meanwhile I’m beefing up on protein. Being vegetarian this is a bit tricky but research has given me some fab food groups to incorporate into my diet. Nutrition is going to be key for a healthy Camino. So lots of fruit and vegetable protein will be on the menu. I’ll have to do some research on what’s available for my very spoilt British palate. We have way too much variety and choice in this country!!

Locations – this is the best part for me. I adore history, so my research on the different locations along the route have provided hours of pleasurable reading. Oh my word! So much extraordinary history. It’s almost unbearable. I wish I had twice the time I have allocated so that I could spend 2 nights and a day in each location. But I have chosen the highlights and of course; my favourite venues – the churches and cathedrals, anything Roman and of course amazing architecture. 聽Some snippets:Portugal is a country I have wanted to visit for some years and although not top of my dream list so to speak, it’s history has intrigued me and of course there’s the stunning scenery. I’m also intrigued by the fact that they are such a small country, surrounded by sea and Spain, and have yet maintained their independence through thick and thin.

My Camino de Santiago will start in September from Porto:

Porto, a coastal city in northwest Portugal, is Portugal’s 2nd largest city and known for its stately bridges and port wine production. In the medieval Ribeira (riverside) district, narrow cobbled streets wind past merchants鈥 houses and cafes, and is also a UNESCO world heritage Site. S茫o Francisco Church is known for its lavish baroque interior with ornate gilded carvings. The palatial 19th-century Pal谩cio de Bolsa, formerly a stock market, was built to impress potential European investors.

I cross over into Spain from Valenca and so to Tui; from there will complete my final 100 kms to qualify for the Compostela (Certificate).

The gateway through which the Portuguese Way passes into Galicia was, and continues to be, Tui.

I am currently working on a project called ‘Project 101’. Many of these locations will fulfil some of my objectives and to my delight I have discovered some聽UNESCO World Heritage Sites and some fantastic cathedrals and Roman towns on the route. I’m planning on spending 3 days in Porto before I start walking, to acclimatise and of course, most importantly to explore the city. It too is a UNESCO heritage site and last night I discovered that the town of Coimbra (which is a place I’ve wanted to visit) is only an hour by train from Porto, the University is a UNESCO World Heritage Site…so that too is now on my Project 101 list, and a must visit while I’m in Porto. Gosh will I have enough time to do it all??

So yes, time, like me, is marching on and I’m reading up on as many blogs, doing loads of research, watching videos, learning how to use my Nordic walking poles, and walking walking walking…… And exactly 4 months from today, I will have started walking…..my Camino 2017. I should have made inroads (pun intended 馃槈 ) on聽my 2nd 500聽miles by then and I hope that I might just complete the full聽1000 miles while I’m there…that would be awesome!!! #walk1000miles

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” ~Lao Tzu

walk 500 miles

Becoming a Proclaimer 馃檪

You can follow my journey on instagram

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Back in 2010 my interest was piqued by a conversation I had with the niece of a lady I was caring for at the time. I mentioned to her that I was thinking of walking ‘The Camino’……and it turned out that she had already walked the route!! 馃檪 A woman. Solo. On her own! Hmmm…….since then of course I’ve discovered that thousands of women walk solo every year; from teens to聽octogenarians. Pretty damn awesome!!

Prior to that I had heard of the Camino de Santiago in an obscure sort of way; I can’t recall exactly when I was first aware of it, probably in one of the many books I read, and of course my father had already cycled some of the routes. My father was in London one year (I think it was 2007) and we met up to watch the Tour de France pass through the city. We chatted about the Camino and made tenuous plans to ‘do it’ together….but he wanted to cycle whilst I want to walk…so it was probably never going to happen.

camino de santiago

My father in his latter years, shortly before he died at the grand old age of 85.

But the seed was planted and after the conversation I had in 2010, the idea took root: I would actually walk it myself, by myself. And of course there was the movie ‘The Way’ with Martin and Charlie Sheen that was released in 2010. It’s taken some 7 years, but I have finally put my money where my mouth is and booked my plane ticket!!! On 19 April 2017 I posted this on our family’s ‘WhatsApp’ news feed:

*Breaking news* 聽Yes!! Its done …I’ve just booked my flights for #Camino2017
I Fly to Porto in Portugal on 7 September for 3 Days in Porto 聽then start walking 285 (260?) kms to Santiago de Compostela on 11 September along the coastal route to Caminha, then inland to Valenca for my last night in Portugal, then crossing the Minha River to Tui the next day for the final 100 kms to Santiago de Compostela. I’ll spend 3 days in Santiago and then fly to Barcelona for 3 days and back to UK on 28 September. Too exciting for words!!

I cannot tell you how terrifying and yet exciting it was to finally make the decision and when I posted this to the family news feed and then made a Facebook update it was with a huge sense of trepidation; am I doing the right thing?

I actually wanted to walk the Camino in 2016 but due to one thing and another, namely; reasons and excuses, I didn’t take the final step of booking my flight! I had started training earlier in the year in preparation since I didn’t want the pilgrimage to be spoilt by lack of fitness and too much pain, but even so, I realised by September of 2016 that in fact, despite my desire to go and love of walking I wasn’t anywhere near fit enough. Reasons and excuses.

At the beginning of this year I joined a Facebook group #walk1000miles and that has given me a massive incentive to get out and walk; almost every day. While working my time is usually limited to 2 hours per day (my break), but I manage to do 5 miles in that time and have loved every minute. Besides that when I’m home, I take long walks along the coast to Margate, Ramsgate, Cliffsend and have even walked to Sandwich (26 kms) on one memorable day 馃檪

Due to my job, I travel all over the country and so have had the pleasure of walking in different locations, with different challenges and landscape – this country is so beautiful. I am lucky. All these walks have added to my fitness levels. From the Isle of Thanet to the Isle of Wight, I’ve also walked in Ireland and along the North Downs, the Malverns, Worcester and Oxted amongst other areas. I’m truly fortunate.

camino practice walks 2017

I’ve had some wonderful walks all over the country

camino practice walks 2017

walks on the Isle of Wight

camino walks

walks on the Isle of Thanet, Ireland, the Malverns and Italy

Since 01/01/2017 I have walked 聽500 #bootson miles. If I had to include my ‘at work/on duty’ mileage I’m certain it would be well in excess of 1000 miles….but for purposes of training I have only added my actual ‘training’ time where I set out specifically to ‘walk’! As of today, in Ireland, I became a ‘Proclaimer’ LOL I will walk 500 miles, and I will walk 500 more…..

walk 1000 miles

I have walked 500 miles 馃檪 and I will walk 500 more

Meanwhile, and as mentioned at the beginning of this post, I have, with heart in my mouth, and a mix of excitement/ terror/trepidation/joy picked up the phone and booked my ticket…..no going back now!!!!

I’m finally going on my Camino. 馃檪 hooray!

And exactly 4 months from tomorrow, I shall start walking…..my Camino 2017.

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I have just spent the last 12 days at a job in a suburb of Preston, Lancashire and although I haven’t been able to explore the city (we’re just too far away), I have been able to explore Preston Cemetery 馃檪聽Although Preston Cemetery was established in and opened in 1855, the earliest year of a recorded death was 1781. I did search all over for this particular grave but was unsuccessful.

preston cemetery lancashire

Preston Cemetery

The cemetery is a 5-8 minute walk away from the house and en-route to the store where we collect the newspaper, so I’ve had plenty of opportunity to visit during my breaks…which have been a tad tricky to arrange, but I’ve deliberately made a plan to get out, even if just for a hour….or on my way to the store 馃槈

preston cemetery lancashire

Preston Cemetery, Lancashire. the newer section at 09:36 in the morning

I initially thought that the section I walked past was it…but one day as I explored farther afield, and wondered at the fact that most of the memorials appeared to be fairly new, I discovered the older, original section….now we’re talking.

preston cemetery lancashire

Preston Cemetery, Lancashire – the old section

Oh my gosh, it’s amazing. the Victorians really went all out on their extravagant memorials, some of which are quite simply outlandish…huge and ostentatious; urns, wreaths, broken columns, upside-down torches, obelisks, grieving women

preston cemetery lancashire

albeit a later burial; a grieving woman – Preston Cemetery, Lancashire

–聽many monuments in Victorian cemeteries are pagan rather than Christian, or classical (Roman) or Egyptian.

preston cemetery lancashire

Victorian funerary symbols

Victorian graves tended to be much more elaborate than modern graves. It was expected that a middle-class family would spend as much as it could afford on a monument appropriate to the deceased鈥檚 (and the family鈥檚) social status. Monuments were usually symbolic 鈥 either religious (crosses, angels, the letters IHS, a monogram for Jesus Savior of Man in Greek), symbols of profession (whip and horseshoes for a coach driver, swords for a general, palette for a painter), or symbols of death.

preston cemetery lancashire

A wreath decorates the gates of Preston Cemetery

I’ve taken a load of photos of some of the memorials, but you can be sure there is a surfeit of extraordinary plots and memorials to be seen. Many of the memorials are unsurprisingly, but very sadly for babies and children of all ages, from the tiniest infant through to children of 10 and upwards into teens.

preston cemetery lancashire

memorials on the newer side

These early deaths are not limited to the Victorians, one memorial I saw was for two babies from the same family聽who died a few days apart at 3 months and 3.5 months, along with a number of other family members, different times, all young. Oh the tragedy.

preston-cemetery-3

this appears to be a family plot…so many all with the same name; some mere infants

In all my years of exploring cemeteries around the UK, I have never seen so many memorials for infants 馃槮

Although cemeteries have an air of sadness and desolation about them, they are fascinating places to visit with so many stories of lives lived, some long, many short, others in service to King and Country. Preston Cemetery is also the location for Commonwealth War Graves……too young!!

preston cemetery lancashire

Commonwealth War Graves – WW1

These cemeteries are also places of incredible beauty.

preston cemetery lancashire

Preston Cemetery, Lancashire

I love the many graveyards and cemeteries I find on my travels around the UK, Preston has certainly been one of my favourites.

preston cemetery lancashire

life and death; autumn beauty in a Victorian cemetery

A couple of interesting, albeit gruesome articles about death, dying and cemeteries in Victorian England and London.

http://listverse.com/2015/06/21/10-odd-and-eerie-tales-of-londons-victorian-cemeteries/

https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2015/jan/22/death-city-grisly-secrets-victorian-london-dead

 

 

 

 

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