Happy Feast of St James the Great


Oh to be in Santiago de Compostela today. What feasting there will be. Happy Feast Day.

Of the many depictions of St James or Santiago reflecting aspects of his mythology  – humble pilgrim, warrior, patron saint I like the Pre Rafaelite golden image.


For one of the best descriptions of the life of St James check out Camino Adventures




Ad Hoc


I fell talking with a woman from Sweden in the summer who had just walked the Camino. I do not now recall why we came to speak of  feminism and care of the elderly.  Perhaps we asked each other what we did in our lives when we were not taking time out for pleasurable pursuits.

‘Women are not automatically expected to take on a caring role in our society,’ she told me. ‘Besides, in Sweden. caring is not such an ad hoc arrangement as it is in yours.  We pride ourselves on funding proper care homes, so the elderly and infirm actually look forward to it, when the time comes.’

I wondered.

I googled Sweden’s take on the elderly and the apparent success.

Sweden invests more of its gross domestic product in its elderly than any other country in the world. As a proportion of GDP, Sweden’s allocation to elderly care is almost five times the EU average.

The  latest pronouncement from some government minister that we should all be more caring and look after our own is true but, there speaks a man who has someone else to do the actual caring.

There was a joke among teachers that went something like this: those who go gooey eyed at a classroom of small children, ‘Aahh the little darlings,’ know nothing about children or teaching.


Andalucian Songs and Privacy

Leaving Castro Urdiales behind. the sea is silver in a fine mist into which we disappear.  It could be wales but for a four lane motorway thundering through.  A bar apears after 7.5 k and we celebrate with two breakfasts.  The tele is on. There has been a murder and the charred remains of two children have been found but perhaps the evidence has been tampered with.  Others in the bar talk over the tele discussing their own problems.  The noise rises.  The mist lifts and we must set off along the N643 for a few kilometers. but  it s not as busy as the motorway.

The surrounding hills are covered in thick grey mist, incongruous as a toupé. It is where we are heading.

A menu del día. Alubias rojas to start: a soup of beans , chorizo and huge lumps of pig fat that I ate mistaking them for turnips.  On the whole though, very meaty and rich in the way that cow heel will make a stew unctuous.

We have reached Loredo in Cantabria, a seaside resort full of  Spaniards.   A singer from Andalucia is playing at the bar where we have found wifi and makes a very pleasant back drop to writing with a glass of wine and a few salty nuts.  The sun is withdrawing and people wander home.  It is time for their evening meal and a pilgrim’s bed time.  It is almost nine pm.  Just two days walk from Santander now and, after eight days with our eleven kilo loads, sun, wind, rain, no blisters and no complications ( save sending the wrong waterproofs on to Santiago in an attempt to lighten the load) there is a feeling of well being.   We have the closest to a private room tonight that pilgrims have the right to expect.  A young polish lad called Jacob shares with us.  He might feel it more than we do.

A new way to Santiago

Journey´s end in five hours by bus from Oviedo.

The intention to blog along the 250 kilometers walked along the Camino del Norte went by the board, but can be done retrospectively.  Shortage of wifi and possibly inclination after anything up to ten hours on the way has meant an enforced silence .

Oviedo, my last stop, is waking up. There is  a lot of shouting.  Last night´s revellers are making it home and market stall holders are setting up for the day.  I am waking up to Oviedo.  In the cool light of the morning with its washed streets it appears pale gold and gracious with arches, squares, and palaces.

Random Acts of Kindness

global pilgrims

I confess to idling this morning with a feeling of vacancy. This is not unusual, especially now we live in the land of procrastination and retrospection. All kinds of spection really, including intro. But it is Sunday after all and that’s a day of rest.

Turning to the internet to look myself up before doing anything constructive I was seduced by another Mary J Howell who is/was prolific. Her list of books is daunting. A random two from the list give a flavour.

The Hand-Book Of Dress-Making; Including Correct Rules For The Pursuit Of The Above Art, And Concisely Illustrating The Mode of Fitting At Sight (Paperback)


The Hand-Book Of Millinery – Comprised In A Series Of Lessons For The Formation Of Bonnets. Capotes, Turbans, Caps, Bows, Etc – To Which Is Appended A Treatise On Taste, And The Blending Of Colours – Also An Essay On Corset Making (Hardback)

by Mary J Howell (pas moi, I’m afraid). Obviously she didn’t idle and blame her adoptive country.

Apart from the crossword, the paper and the internet, I have read of ‘random acts of kindness’ from one of my Camino contacts. No kind deed that I could perform, random or otherwise, comes to mind, only one that happened to me.

On a solitary trip to the local flea pit once, I had no cash only a card, and the cinema accepted only cash and no cards. A woman in the queue bought me a ticket. ‘Here you are.’ and she was gone. I didn’t see her again. But that random act of kindness has stayed with me. I think of it occasionally when I’m idling.

When I mention this to Sunny Boy he suggests I make him a cup of tea. It’s a start.