Not long now. Nine days to be exact and despite my best intentions I have done little training, although I have walked to the end of the garden to my washing line and pegged some smalls out to dry. No mean feat after the dodgy weather we’ve been having, but everything seems to springing to life now, a few sunny days and the buds unfurl and the birds begin wooing and building in earnest. My garden soil – clay – turns from shit to bricks, a horticultural term. And a middle-aged woman’s fancy turns to pilgrimage. I will be one of the 90% of pilgrims who do no training at all. I intend to ‘walk myself fit.’ reassured by the nice Mr Brierley that any reasonably fit person can complete the Camino if they walk at a suitable pace.
Excellent. He suggests 33 days for the 790km. We are allowing 40. That’s a week for loafing lounging and general day dreaming, or maybe treating blisters, shin splints and nursing sunburn.
For some time our (Helen and mine) attention has been on equipment. We consulted the Brierley bible and read that you should aim not to carry more than 10% of your body weight. even though we are both tall and not undersized, that is not much. So we have done lots of research and quite a deal of shopping for lightweight kit. Camino kit and trekking clothes come in a range of dire colours, as if made from offcuts of scout tents and end of line Edinburgh Mill gear. You have to look hard for anything not beige but so far I have resisted the various shades of khaki and taupe and am kitted out in lots of bright blue kit, mostly from Tog 24 which I hope will wick and wear well. I do feel as though I am giving free advertising – maybe they could pay for my flight home?- and I am trying not to buy anything with too vivid a logo, but they do a useful 12/14 size. Why don’t more companies do that? Most of us are between sizes, aren’t we? I hope to be much nearer the 12 end than the 14 by the time I finish.
Anyhow we’ve not yet shaved slivers off our toothbrushes but we have bought lightweight sleeping bags and debated the merits of an all purpose cleaning product. Not Liquid Flash exactly but something that can wash your hair, body and pants and not weigh too much either. I am debating doing an Ann Hathaway with my hair. It’s so thin I could probably give it a wipe over with a soapy flannel to clean it but it is flyaway and, call me vain, but I don’t want all the pictures of me on this walk looking like a dandelion clock. I’ll let you know my decision. Husband says yes do it. Daughter says no, you have to accessorise carefully when you have very short hair – to avoid misunderstanding. And you don’t do that mum. You just put any old thing on. And she’s right I do. But it’s tempting.
a tasteful blue coat, and a poncho. Helen and I have had prolonged What’s App conversations about wet weather gear and we have, after consulting Brierley and the Camino forum, decided on ponchos. These garments are truly hideous and hers, though blue, has a particularly becoming pouch on the back to accommodate the rucksack. Mine is so immense that if I become too weary I will hire a discreet Sherpa and be carried under its all enveloping folds.
Anyhow our questions have centred around ‘How much does it weigh?’ and ‘Does it wick?’ We’re nearly there equipment-wise and have begun trying out our poles. I feel very silly striding round the lanes near me – at least she lives in foreign parts and is that eccentric English woman – but these poles are good. I have done enough advertising this post so I won’t name them but they make me stand more upright and walk with more energy and purpose. We’ll see, if they don’t help I’ll post them home, but I have a feeling they will be one of my better buys. That and the soap leaves. But that’s another story.
There is another aspect to this venture. The spiritual aspect of the journey. Now the practical preparations are in place I am beginning to look at what I need to sustain me for the next six weeks. Given the weight restrictions an entire book is out of the question, otherwise I would choose Les Miserables. So I will choose some poetry: I’d like to memorise some, so it had better rhyme. And some psalms. I know many and they address every mood and occasion. Ecclesiastes too will fit, I have always loved it/them. Its lugubrious tone should be appropriate for a pilgrimage. It concentrates the mind wondering what will nourish me for that time. All very Desert Island Discs. Now for a luxury… suggestions please.