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Day 3

Well what a day it was. The 3rd of 4 days of the Doula Course and turned out to be completely different to what I was anticipating or expecting. It was an emotional roller-coaster. I’d been surrounded by some amazing women and although it was an extraordinary day, I was emotionally shattered….in a good way. I was been surprised by some of the things people have said about me, how they see things I thought were well hidden. The exercises we did, that made us dig really deep and although in a safe space, it’s left us feeling very vulnerable…but safe.

Interestingly some of the women have said how doing this course has made them realise how unprepared they are for working in this field, and how they feel that perhaps its not for them, yet its left me feeling more empowered and ready to go (so to speak).

We also did some role playing (which I’ve always hated, and avoided at all costs), but weirdly I found it really easy to slip into another persona and surprised the group (apparently). It was actually good fun, and the prognosis is that I may appear to be all sweetness and light (uhmm really??) 😂 😂 but that I’m really good at shocking them with my ability to be someone else. Actually our group practically ended up on the floor with laughter (very inappropriate laughter) at some of the stuff that came out of my mouth 😂 😂 I actually threatened to send one client to hospital in an ambulance on a stretcher… In context of course. But it was hilarious. We were laughing so much that the facilitator came to find out what was going on and none of us could speak for laughing. They’re a brilliant group and its been truly enlightening. I love learning new stuff and exploring preconceptions and how our beliefs and values are shaped by society, expectations, outside influences and family dynamics. All good. But boy am I tired 😴 😴 😴 ready to sleep now. I didn’t even have the energy to watch Strictly Come Dancing. 🤔🤔🤔

In case you missed the original blog There’s more to dying than meets the eye

 

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I’d never been to Southampton and as it’s on my Project 101 list, I thought that since I’d be close enough by train I may as well stay there for a couple of days and explore the city.  Besides which…it was also a whole lot cheaper than staying in Winchester LOL (I actually told one lady that I didn’t want to buy the house, just stay there for one night! – she wasn’t impressed hahahaha).

seaside square in southampton, southampton england, explore southampton, visit southampton (1)

tired after a day of exploring…take a seat why don’t you.

I had initially planned to explore Southampton on the 19th but instead decided to head over to Winchester instead. Most places appeared to be closed in Southampton on a Sunday, and since I was wanting to do the King Alfred walk in Winchester and the weather was going to be cloudy both days anyway, I decided to change plans. Benefit of being a solo traveller.

So, the day before I was due to start my walk along the Pilgrim’s Way, I had a super day exploring Southampton Old Town. I walked along sections of the old city walls; quite a thrill. I was delighted to find that there were still whole sections that you could walk along and I made the most of the opportunity.

spanish civil war, southampton england, explore southampton, visit southampton (2)

wonderful history of the UK…welcoming refugees

A little bit of history to tickle your fancy:

Southampton; located on a major estuary on the English Channel has been settled since the Stone Age.
Known as Clausentum in Roman times, Southampton was an important trading port, but abandoned circa 410 when the Romans up and left.
The settlement was known as Hamwic and or Hamtum during the Anglo-Saxon period
After defeating the Anglo-Saxon King Ethelred the Unready in 1014, the Viking King, Canute the Great, was crowned in Southampton.
Southampton became a major port of transit between Winchester (capital of England until early 12th C) and Normandy following the Norman Conquest in 1066.
The 1086 Domesday Book indicates that Southampton already had distinct French and English quarters at the time of the Norman Conquest.
The foundation of St. Michael’s Church has been dated at 1070.
Mary Magdalen Leperosy Hospital was established to the north of the town by 1173.
St Julians Hospital, also known as God’s House Hospital, was founded around 1196 by Gervase ‘le Riche’. A Franciscan friary was later built alongside God’s House hospital.
The Medieval Wool House was built in the 14th century to serve the wool trade and store wool for export to Italy. It’s been through various changes since then and served as a prison during the Napoleonic wars to house French prisoners of war “some of whose names may be seen carved on the beams of the roof”, the Maritime Museum circa 1966, a workshop; The Moonbeam Engineering Company Limited who built motor launches, Element Arts; a pop-up arts organisation – who used the space as a gallery and community arts venue featuring exhibitions and live events – music, dance, poetry, theatre, and now the Dancing Man Brewery a brewpub/restaurant.
Southampton was awarded City status by The Queen in 1964.

On my way towards the Old Town I passed the area of Holy Rood; a series of metal sculptures were erected around the estate in tribute to the area’s role in the Merchant Navy’s history of Southampton.
Holyrood Church, which was damaged in World War II, now serves as a memorial to the Merchant Navy.

I started off at the edge of the city walls, once the boundary of a Franciscan friary (settled in 1224). By the end of the 14th century, the town of Southampton was entirely enclosed by stone walls.

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then walked past the remains of God’s House Tower (protected the medieval town from attack),

from there I followed the perimeter of the old city walls, I discovered a link with Jane Austen 🙂 – Watergate & Quay – “Jane’s niece, 14 year old Fanny Knight, records in her diary of Tuesday 15 September 1807, that Jane and the rest of the family embarked from here to visit friends in Hythe for Afternoon Tea. Fanny writes; “Mama to everyone’s astonishment was of the party and not at all sick”.

the rear view of the Watergate ruins

the 12th century Duke of Wellington Pub

A short distance later I discovered the Wool House and popped in for a quick look (I didn’t see the prisoner’s inscriptions though) – The Medieval Wool House was built in the 14th century to serve the wool trade and store wool for export to Italy, and served as a prison during the Napoleonic wars to house French prisoners of war “some of whose names may be seen carved on the beams of the roof”

after which a short diversion took me along Bugle Street

first I passed the fabulous 12th century Duke of Wellington pub

strolling on along Bugle Street I discovered the amazing Tudor House – Restored 14th-c. Tudor house & remains of a 12th-c. Norman home, with 16th-century gardens & a cafe…where I enjoyed a superb lunch… Wow, what an extraordinary place.

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I spent ages exploring this fabulous house; a time capsule with some incredible artefacts. A visit to the cellar is a must – used as a WW2 shelter by the family who lived there at the time, there is a fantastic and spine-tingling audio that takes you right back to an air-raid.

Exploring the premises behind the house (where you find the café) I saw a canon made for Henry VIII, and the awesome ruins of King John’s Castle.

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Across the garden are some glass doors, step through…. there you will find a delightful exhibition worth having a look at

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After strolling back along Bugle Street I noticed another section of the city walls down an alley, so I climbed the steps and strolled along another section of the city walls and onto Cuckoo Lane…passing the Westgate Hall aka Tudor Merchants Hall on my way.

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Heading back to the Tudor House, I walked past and turned left down along Blue Anchor Lane towards the previous town quay…now a road.blue anchor lane southampton england, explore southampton, visit southampton The Pilgrim Fathers embarked here from the West Quay on the Mayflower in August 15 1620. Passing through the Westgate (through the archway marched some of the some of the army of Henry V on their way to Agincourt in 1415) – stupendous. It gave me goosebumps walking through the arch.

walking through history southampton england, explore southampton, visit southampton (101)

walking through history; through this archway marched some of the some of the army of     Henry V on their way to Agincourt in 1415 – awesome

I strolled alongside the ancient walls, known as The Arcades, and found another section that could be walked (yes, I’m addicted to walking along old city walls LOL- also part of Project 101) I reached ‘Catchcold’ Tower (fortunately I didn’t catch a cold) – purpose built in the early 15th century to carry ordnance (cannon). Brilliant views of the old quay. During WW2 an anti-aircraft machine-gun was mounted on the tower.

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From there I walked along to Arundel Tower – said to be named after the magical horse of Sir Bevois, one of the founders of Southampton. Legend has it that Arundel was so fast he could out-fly swallows. When Sir Bevios died, the horse threw himself from the tower in sorrow.

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Leaving the ramparts I descended to ground level and walked across to the Bargate. Wow, just stunning. By walking through the Bargate’s grand entrance, you travel in the footsteps of generations of townspeople, visitors and kings and queens. A pair of lions has guarded the gate since the 1600s. The Jane Austen heritage trail starts at the Bargate.

Walking further I took a random turn and saw a beautiful pub and another link to Jane Austen ; Jane’s homes from 1807 to 1809 was sited here in Castle Square.

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finding Jane Austen in Southampton

Then back past the fabulous Tudor House, opposite which was St Michael’s Square; once a busy fish market selling freshly caught eels, mackerel, whiting and oysters. Built in the 1070s, St Michael’s is the only surviving parish church in Southampton.

I then continued my walk along Castle Way where I passed the fantastic medieval Merchant’s timber house (sadly closed during the week) – what was that I said about places being closed yesterday….hmmm. .

the medieval timber house southampton england, explore southampton, visit southampton

The medieval Timber House, Castle Way, Southampton

The weather was brilliant and I even squeezed in a quick visit to the harbour. I noticed there was a ferry to the Isle of Wight and the temptation to just hop on and visit Cowes again was very strong LOL. But I resisted….I was due to start my walk the next day and it would have been awful if I hadn’t been able to get back to Southampton for some reason.

After a brilliant few hours of exploring I meandered through Queen’s Park then back along Queensway and through West (Watts) Park where I saw the plaque for the Mary Magdalen Leprosy Hospital which stood near this spot in medieval times.

Then back to the AirBnb to rest and prepare myself and Pepe for the start of The Pilgrim’s Way.

In all, a very satisfactory day full of history, surprises and delights. Visit Southampton and be sure to explore the Old Town, and prepare to be delighted at the Tudor House.

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a link with Jane Austen

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Ready?….no, not really. Set…..all packed. Go…oh okay, if I must…

Walking The Pilgrim’s Way

I had been planning my pilgrimage from Winchester to Canterbury for nearly a year. After my Camino in 2017 I was all ready to just go and walk another, but with one thing and another (like finances and work) I couldn’t just up and go, so I decided that in 2018 I would walk the Camino Ingles. But, before I did that, I thought it would be a good idea to walk another UK pilgrimage first…it seemed like the right thing to do.the pilgrims way winchester to canterbury, the pilgrims way uk, walking the pilgrims way, walking the camino, pilgrimage to canterburym

So I set about planning for a walk along The Pilgrim’s Way for 2 weeks and then home for a few days to refresh, repack and then fly to Spain to walk the Camino Ingles, starting on the same date I had in 2017. Plans……?

With that in mind I set up my spreadsheets, bought the books and started planning. It all went really well and I had most of my accommodation booked, put money aside every month, repacked Pepe (my backpack) for the umpteenth time and started with some training.

Then life, as it does, decided differently and a number of issues arose..

  1. I investigated the possibility of taking a ferry from Southampton to Spain, but firstly it was extortionately expensive and 2nd the ferries only went to Santander, which is not what I had in mind.
  2. Investigating flights, I found that the prices had almost doubled since the previous year (Brexit??) hmmm. Not sure I want to spend that much money.
  3. In May I got the best news a mother could ever get….my daughter was pregnant and I was to be a Granny Suddenly knitting seemed way more important than getting out and practising, getting fit. LOL
  4. Summer 2018 happened. I do not like the heat. I do enjoy lovely blue skies, and pleasant summer days, but I do not enjoy extreme heat, and most especially if I have to go out in the midday sun and walk in said heat.

And so it came to pass that

A) I never did book any flights. Which was just as well considering….

B) I spent more time knitting than anything else…the needles were in my hands at any          given free moment….I have loads of beautiful cardigans, bootees and matinee jackets.

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I even took my knitting with me and made a pair of ‘adventure’ bootees for my grandchild 🙂

knitting for babies, walking the pilgrims way, walking the camino de santiago

Peanut’s ‘adventure’ bootees

C) My plans to walk during my breaks to keep up my fitness levels were scuppered by           the heat, and I was resting on my 2017 fitness laurels. Tut! Tut! Not good.

I did get to do some walking in preparation, but truthfully I really didn’t get anywhere near enough walking done as what I did preparing for my Camino in 2017.

And as August rapidly approached I suddenly found that actually I didn’t want to walk at all…..I felt like all I wanted to do was be at home with my family and knit LOL

But after a few weeks of deliberation as well as a lot of uhmming and ahhing, and some discussion with my daughter I decided to go ahead with the UK walk but postpone the EU/Camino walk till 2019…..which is what I did.

And so it was ready, set, go……

Andddd I’m on my way; finally on the 18th August 2018, after nearly a year of planning and some preparation, Pepe, Gemini and I were on the train and on the way….BSR to SOU via London.

First up, Southampton, where I had planned to spend a couple of days exploring the city, as well as spend a day in Winchester revisiting favourite places. Then starting off on 21st August for the long walk; 136 miles and counting 🚶🚶🚶 Excited. Trepidatious.

This is what I’d be doing for the 15 days bar one. Coddiwomple! What a marvellous word. Love the English language.

walking the pilgrims way, the pilgrims way winchester to canterbury, long distance walks in england, solo walking, women walking solo, walk 1000 miles

coddiwomple

Wow, how much excitement!! After months of talking and walking (some) and packing and preparing, I was finally on my way Ready to coddiwomple across England; a  pilgrimage Winchester to Canterbury; along The Pilgrim’s Way.

Initially I had planned to stay for just 2 nights in Southampton, but I probably wouldn’t visit the city again in the future so decided to extend my stay by one extra night and have a whole extra day to explore. The other day would be spent in Winchester revisiting favourite places and get myself ready for the big walk.

the pilgrims way winchester to canterbury, walking the pilgrims way, long distance walking in the uk, the pilgrims way, walk 1000 miles, baby boomers

The Pilgrim’s Way passport – how gorgeous is this passport

On arriving in Southampton I made my way over to my AirBnb venue and checked in. The room was very basic and simple, but comfortable and had a t.v. Even pilgrims like a bit of luxury LOL I didn’t do much by way of exploring that night since I was quite tired and it had been a long journey, so I just took a stroll up to the nearest food store and bought myself some supper and snacks for the night.

I settled in to bed after a lovely hot shower and watched t.v. till lights out. Big explore tomorrow.

More blogs in the series:

Revisiting the City of Winchester

Exploring Southampton

 

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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.

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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 

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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.  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.  I was well pleased 🙂

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. 🙂

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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About 6 months ago I decided to go ‘great’ free. I was having one of my ‘ffs I hate D. Trump’ days after one of his latest vicious bigoted narcissistic misogynistic rants on a video I saw on Facebook (why do I EVEN watch them???) One of his favourite words is ‘great’. So I decided there and then to never again use the word ‘great’ in any written articles, replies or responses to anything anywhere. Since I am a bit of a ‘linguaphile’ anyway, it suits me to try my darndest to find alternative words.

 

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English is such a magical language, it’s expressive, descriptive and manipulative, and by using certain words you can change the whole meaning of something e.g. I will toast my bread. If you do that you are toast! I particularly love/enjoy/like words that have the same spelling but have different meanings – consider the word ‘bow’ – depending on how you use it, it’s spelt the same, but has a different meaning in context of the action, and even the pronunciation changes accordingly:

Can you make a ‘bow’ out of this ribbon?

When you meet the Queen you must ‘bow’.

The front of the boat is the ‘bow’.

An archer shoots an arrow from his ‘bow’.

A whole sentence: When we loosen the bow, the Queen will smash the bottle against the bow of the ship, but remember to bow when she arrives or her archer will shoot you with their bow. hahahaha. I just made that up. I love it. 🙂

We have become incredible lazy when responding to a situation by using the word ‘great’ for just about anything…that’s a great hairdo. Your hair looks great. What a great party. I had a great walk. That was great fun. She’s such a great person. The sea looks great today….etc etc You get the picture. Urgh. Why do we use that simplistic word when we have so many interesting, splendiferous, expressive, descriptive words to use in the English language.

So here’s how we can change that:

That’s a great hairdo. = That’s a really stunning hair style, it suits you.

Your hair looks great. = Your hair is looking lovely today.

What a great party. = What a fantastic party. What an enjoyable party.

I had a great walk. = I had an enjoyable walk. I had an exhilarating walk.

That was great fun. = That was so much fun. That was terrific fun.

She’s such a great person. = She’s an admirable person. She’s so personable.

The sea looks great today = The sea looks beautiful/gorgeous/amazing today.

What a great day. = What a terrific/brilliant/superb day.

And so it goes. Since I made the decision to dispel that awful word from my vocabulary, when I’m replying to something on facebook or making a comment I try to find suitable words that are more descriptive, more expressive.Funny-Quotes-English-Language-1 - Mr Tumblr

When I write my blogs, I avoid the word great altogether. While writing this blog I did a google search ‘words to use rather than great’ and look at this ‘fun’ ‘funky’ ‘useful’ ‘brilliant’ ‘clever’ ‘interesting’ website I found 😉

111 words to use instead of great’ https://www.grammarcheck.net/synonyms-great/

I have managed very successfully to avoid using the word except now and then when I accidentally vocalise the word without thinking. Down with great I say….

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The signs along The Way are many. When I first started planning my Camino I joined a number of Facebook pages and groups and started reading blogs. And, although I saw a few photos of the Camino waymarkers and some of the yellow arrows, I didn’t realise how plentiful they would be.

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Bom Caminho Buen Camino Good Journey

My initial impression was that you would HAVE to follow the guide books and to that end I bought one about the Portuguese Coastal Route, which I studied intently, meaning to take copies with on the journey, but forgot. So, while in Porto, in a panic and before I started, I had my daughter photograph each relevant page and whatsapp them to me. For no reason. As it turned out, the signs were virtually every 500 meters.

The Way is incredibly well marked with arrows, the Camino scallop shell signs and waymarkers showing the distance in kms, until they didn’t – weirdly they came to an abrupt end just as I reached Santiago.

Update: 24/11/2017 – I just found out who paints all those arrows and maintains the various markers along the routes. They’re on Facebook as: Asociación Galega de Amigos do Camino de Santiago. A big shout out to them for all the hard work they do to keep us pointed in the right direction.

Leaving from the Sé Catedral in the old town of Porto, a remarkably historic building in it’s own right, it made a fitting location to start my journey. It was also recommended in the book. Now I didn’t go in ‘blind’, I sussed out the route a few days before – didn’t want to get lost on my first day on the Camino LOL. So, on the day I left, at approximately 07:30, it was easy to follow the downward spiral of steps to the riverfront.

camino portuguese coastal route porto

Sé Catedral, Porto, Portugal, view of the river and of the route, San Tiago, a pilgrims shell and hat, my passport with stamps from the 8th

1. ancient route

The route down from Sé Catedral to the riverside

Although I didn’t see any arrows or markers at that juncture, and since I took the bus to Foz do Duoro, having already walked that section beforehand, the first time I saw anything resembling a ‘sign’, that I recall anyway, was well after I had left Matasinhos at about 14:13 – a yellow arrow painted on a lamp-post. Now, I’m almost certain that there were many others before then, but either I didn’t see them, or was so intent on walking that I didn’t stop to photograph them…that aspect changed further along on my journey.

camino portuguese coastal route

The first arrow that I noticed on the Portuguese Coastal Route

Truthfully, what I did was ‘follow that pilgrim’. For most of my journey and where applicable, I followed the pilgrims up ahead.

camino portuguese coastal route

Follow that pilgrim

There was one place where I came unstuck, on the road to Esposende, and I’m still not at all sure how, but I just trudged along following the footsteps in the sand. There was one set of shoe tracks that I could recognise, so I followed those all the way through along winding sandy paths, and shrubby land till suddenly I could see, in the distance, a road and some buildings…at last civilisation. I was beginning to think I’d be wandering around there forever!! And at some stage along the route I ended up walking through thick brush and undergrowth with zip, zero, nothing and nada around me except for undergrowth, thick brush, trees and deep sandy paths. I did see a few diggers and excavation equipment but no people. It was weird and a little unsettling.

But to get back to The Way and the arrows. They are plentiful. In some areas there are 3 or 4 and in other areas you have to have faith and search.

camino portuguese coastal route

Tilting at Windmills – spot the arrow! If you’re not concentrating…

Most of the time I walked I was enjoying the scenery or in a day-dream, so occassionally I ended up suddenly stopping and realising I hadn’t seen any arrows or scallop shells or waymarkers for quite some time. This usually brought me to a standstill and a panicked look around! Did I miss the arrows?

camino portuguese coastal route

How could you possibly miss this!!

At that point I’d stand still, take a deep breath and having faith that I was still on the correct route, I’d walk on and sure enough there it was; whether a small arrow painted on a rock, or a faint outline on the road, maybe even, as in one spot, painted on an ivy covered wall…..the ivy carefully cut away around it like a frame! The Signs were there. Marvellous.

camino portuguese coastal route

Learning where to look and eventually knowing where to look

There was one day however that I did seriously go way off and as I was swinging along, I heard distant shouts “Senora!! Hello. Hello. Hello.” Eventually I stopped to look around and see what all the fuss was about, and about 500 yards away, distant figures were shouting and gesticulating wildly in my direction then pointing along a path that was not where I was on? LOL Initially a tad confused, I suddenly realised that I had been so deep in thought that I’d not kept my eye on the route. I scurried back laughing and we all agreed I could have ended up who knows where, but it wouldn’t have been Santiago. I still wonder that if they hadn’t drawn my attention, where on earth I’d have gone to?

camino portuguese coastal route

In case you were not aware…this is the Camino de Santiago..weirdly these signs were all in Spain

But on the whole, the route was amazingly well marked. People have been really inventive in where they painted the arrows and or made the markings to show which route you’re on.

8. fields and houses

Camino de Santiago – signs along The Way

10. I spy with my little eye

Camino de Santiago – signs along The Way

11. blink and you'll miss it

Camino de Santiago – signs along The Way

In fact I often wondered about the person/people who painted the arrows and made those markings, or put up the scallop shells and installed the waymarkers. All I can say is ‘thank you’. Whoever you may be, you were in many instances blessed by me. 😉 I got really excited when I came across the Caminho Beach Bar. I’d seen photos of this on the Fcabeook page and the board of shells (behind me), so I stopped, bought a shell, put my name on it and hung it up…@notjustagranny was here 🙂

Camino de Santiago -portuguese coastal route

Caminho Beach Bar – Santiago de Compostela 265 kms!!

As I said, most of The Way was very clearly marked and I seldom had any problems, especially after 3 or 4 days, in locating them up ahead…although some were far between, if you just keep walking you will eventually discover them. One of the things that I enjoyed was discovering the yellow X! Sometimes you’d be walking and what looked like the logical route, is not. Then you’d see a big, or as in many cases, small yellow X – this not The Way. So you’d look around till you found what you were looking for…a Yellow marker…this is The Way. My favourite markers were the brown metal plates with yellow arrows.

Camino de Santiago -portuguese coastal route

X says “no, this is not the way” – even though you may be tempted, but no…this is not The Way

As you wind your way along the Potuguese Coastal Route the signs are varied. Once you get into the forests and hills, you have to be a little more inventive in where you look.

Camino de Santiago -portuguese coastal route

keeping your eye on the route, sometimes you had to just be a little more aware, they were not always pretty

A tiny yellow arrow pinned to a tree trunk, a scallop shell attached to a wall,

Camino de Santiago -portuguese coastal route

show me The Way to go home…oh wait, this is my home!! I loved these ceramic wall plaques

and frequently just two little lines, one yellow, one white to say ‘don’t worry, you’re going the right way’.

Camino de Santiago -portuguese coastal route

Crossing Paths – the Portuguese Coastal Route blends with the Littoral Route

I loved seeing the different signs, some were freshly painted, others a very faint outline that if you were not looking you could miss it altogether, and others were right across a busy road that needed to be traversed.

Camino de Santiago -portuguese coastal route

sometimes it was right in front of you, and others …..well suffice to say, you kept your eyes peeled

The waymarkers were the best, I loved seeing the kilometers measured out, and note my progress… my steps eating up the miles.

Camino de Santiago -portuguese coastal route

Santiago 165kms – my 4th day of walking and I still had 165 kms to go. Ouch

I think I photographed about 95% of them all the way from Valenca in Portugal to the last one at Santiago. Weirdly though, the very first concrete waymarker I saw showing the distance, was in Valenca; 117,624 kms to Santiago. I saw countless after that. Perhaps they only have them from that point.

Camino de Santiago -portuguese coastal route

Following an ancient route in modern shoes – leaving Valenca, last town in Portugal before crossing to Tui in Spain – 117.624 kms to Santiago

I loved the many many scallop shells that decorated O Porrino, one of my favourite overnight stops.

Camino de Santiago -portuguese coastal route

The scallop shells of O Porrino, Spain

And I really loved the signs that showed there was a rest stop nearby!!

Camino de Santiago - portuguese route

Refreshments along the way…

One of my favourite places (of which there are quite a few) along The Way was Mos.

Camino de Santiago -portuguese route

Mos. Oh what a delightful stop this was. A small but pretty little town with a church, restaurant and shops.

Admittedly though I was very disappointed coming into Santiago from Padron. All along the route I had seen yellow arrows, scallop shells and waymarkers, and then suddenly I didn’t.

camino portuguese coastal route

the signs along the way. I found these to be most helpful. It was also fun to see how the kms were going down. down. down 🙂

I was expecting the countdown to continue right up until you reached the 000.000 kms to Santiago and frequent arrows or scallop shells….but no….the last one was the last one and it wasn’t 000.000 kms. The last waymarker I saw on the perimeter of the city said 2,329 kms. After that, the scarcity of arrows and scallop shells was very disappointing. I think perhaps they feel that once you reach the outskirts of the city, you can jolly well find your own way LOL.

camino portuguese coastal route

I saw very few signs after this. They seemed to get scarcer the closer we got to Santiago

But a few pilgrims felt the same way I did…or did I just walk the wrong way? I don’t know.

But what I do know, is that they were a life-saver. There was something incredibly reassuring about finding/seeing the signs. I’m on The Way to Santiago de Compostela.

Camino de Santiago -portuguese coastal route

Camino de Santiago – I’m on The Way

Trust, that was one lesson I learned on the Camino, to trust in the signs, to trust in the route, to trust in myself. And I made it. 🙂

 

 

 

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