Past Challenges,  Santiago 2018

One week on and 150 miles plus

Dear Humphrey

It has been an arduous week. A planned rendezvous with Nigel H-P of Radio HP.. very important for media purposes!.. in Pontferrada tomorrow meant I had to average 37 kilometres a day for a week. Seriously it will be wonderful to see him and so motivating and flattering he should come for just three days. So With just 32 to do tomorrow I will have achieved it! I am afraid there has not therefore been a lot of time to write.

Dawn on the Meseta

After a morning in Burgos doing a little shopping ( cannot think now what for but probably drugs!) and viewing the huge and magnificent 13 century Cathedral ready for services after 9 years and completed in entirety in just 39 years requiring 8 metres of rock to be removed to make room for the foundations, I left for Hornillos where on brother Tom’s recommendation I was to call in on a restaurant run by an Irish lady, which of course I did. I mentioned this to her but without giving any names and she took one look at me and said ‘He is not called Tom, is he? After two years he was obviously a memorable guest!

Well this little afternoon jaunt of 24 ks put me well behind the required average. However the ‘meseta’ which is the area between Burgos and Léon is good for covering distance. Flat and pretty featureless it requires ‘a head down and go’ mentality sometimes for up to four hours at a stretch. Getting into a rhythm is essential .. allowing oneself no distraction and no reason to stop. Pre dawn starts allow one to enjoy magnificent sunrises and the cool of the day.

However there are also some horrendous parts usually going into or or out of the bigger cities.

Leaving Leon

One particular section is 16 kilometres straight with nothing to be seen and the village which marks the end point and rest only appears in sight 100 metres before. This was one daughters introduction to the Camino. The family might be known to some.  Peter , son James who had been with his dad before and Alicia joining for the first time. They live at Crick in Northamptonshire. I hope things got better for them. The occasional gem and the poppies are a welcome distraction.


I promised a little on Accomodation last time. Each village or town will usually have a selection of Albergues, some municipal (usually the cheapest at about €5 ) some private costing c $ 10 and May be some church ones done on a donation basis. Beds are usually bunks and I have trouble with a top bunk as does the poor person beneath me!

A typical bunk room

Showers and loos usually pretty good. You never get a dirty loo on the Camino or at least I never have! Hostels or hotels are sometimes a tempting option .. your own room, shower and loo and no snoring but cost a little more. I write this now ( a day later) sitting in a launderette waiting for my few garments to clean and dry themselves! The final day into Pontferrada has been the most challenging yet. A bit of ‘up’ to start with and then 14 ks of descent over ghastly terrain. For some reason in addition to the heel issues my big toe joint on right foot decided it did not enjoy the journey.. agony.. down to 2ks an hour but all the time thinking about my current two heroes Steve whose feet look like this:

…And he is still walking! And the lady from Brazil who has twisted her ankle and broken a rib and she insists she is going to get to Compostela. She says the rib is better with the packs on but it is getting them on and off which causes the pain. It’s the ankle which slows her up!

The stubborn lady of Brazil

Any way I have made it to within a week of the finish line. It will be wonderful to have Nigel HP to get me through the next three days. We still need £25,000 to reach the funding target. I am hoping lots of people are waiting to see me finish. All I can say is that I will however and it is a HUGE incentive to see the sum increasing.

Finally since this all about carers I would like to share with you a scene I observed while having a drink in the square in front of the beautiful San Isadora  in León. Among a number of others I watched a couple, the man in a self propelled wheel chair armed with a camera and his wife who had parked him in the centre of the square to take photographs while she took time out to attend to her iPhone a short distance away. She was constantly checking on his whereabouts as he manoeuvred himself about and at one point he disappeared into the church and she became a little anxious until he reappeared. She was obviously the Carer wanting a little time to herself. I dared eventually to I introduce myself to them trying to explain why. They were from the Canary Islands. I was not able to discover precisely what was his illness but he was not able to speak as well as being whee chair bound. She could speak a little English but at no point was she prepared to say she cared for him. It was a no compreno moment and I am left wondering whether it was language issue or a total lack of preparedness to accept she looked after him. I realise I have a lot to learn.

I am really tired and I am afraid in rather a lugubrious mood. Might be something to do with the gin and tonics they pour in Spain and yes I am now in a bar in a thunderstorm and have moved from the launderette!

Lots of love from

your friend and master

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