Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Countdown to the Camino

As many of you know, I am attempting the Camino again next week. I failed miserably last year, after I developed tendonitus in my left foot. Not to be deterred, I embarked on an intense programme of physio, personal training, and visits to the podiatrist. You can tell that I have become quite a fanatic! I have lost two stone in weight as a result of all of this, so now people hardly recognise me. My conclusion is the Camino is not for the faint hearted, and I would warn against anyone attempting it without adequate training.

Despite all of this, I still have my doubts as to whether I can complete the 150 miles. We are doing the Camino Potugueses, which is less well travelled than the Camino Frances, and less hilly, but it is still a long way if you are not a walker. All of our hotels are pre-booked as there are 10 of us in the group. I suppose we could have risked the hostels, but sometimes they are full, or some may be closed at this time of year. With these issues in mind, we did not feel we were cheating too much when we booked our hotels, some of which look rather nice! That long hot bath at the end of the day will be just the job for tired feet!

What has exercised our minds most has been kit. As we are pilgrims, we will be carrying all of our belongings. This certainly makes you think long and hard as to whether you should take something, or not. Although we will have to wash everything through each evening, this is much less painful than carrying a large volume of clothes! A very important first lesson of the Camino is thinking about what you really need to take with you. It is surprising, how little this actually is.

I will be keeping this blog on the Camino, and putting up some 'photos, so you can make a "virtual" Camino if you like. I thought you might like to see this 'photo from earlier this year. You can see that I am not enjoying myself very much as my feet were killing me, and I had only done a couple of miles!


Welcome to The SimplePilgrim

Welcome to the first, of what I hope will be many, Simple Pilgrim posts!

First of all, I must thank everyone for all the kind wishes and encouragement that I have been given. It has been absolutely amazing! The British Pilgrimages have really captured everyone's imagination, and there have been so many suggestions as to what pilgrimage we might do after "In Search of the Somerset Saints" (see the British Saints Section of the Website for details.). I never thought that I would be getting bookings for this before the formal launch of the Simple Pilgrim, but they are coming in, which is fantastic.

It turns out that staying close to home for the first of these pilgrimages was a wise move. As you know, Peter Barrett is leading them, and it has taken him weeks to work out the best route as he wanted to stay off road, and see as many interesting historical, and geographical, features as possible. Quite by accident I disovered that we have a local expert in Celtic Christianity, Liz Rees. She has advised us on places to visit connected with the Celtic Saints, who once sought out lonely places within the Somerset Levels. I have never been to the Avalon Marshes, but I am really looking forward to Peter guiding us through them. I may get some sense of what drew these Saints here. They are our very own version of the Desert Fathers!

As well as the British Pilgrimages, I will be offering the usual Pilgrimages abroad. It seems to me that Parishes sometimes struggle to organise these, so my objective is to work with Parishes, and make things happen. I have already organised for Downside Abbey, a Pilgrimage to Fatima in July next year, and also an 18/30 Pilgrimage to the Holy Land, so much is already happening. I will just wait and see if any other Parishes would like to organise something, as it is so important that people experience a pilgrimage. Everyone is dashing about so much, that they just forget about Jesus. Hopefully these trips will give people the space that they so desperately need.

I could not have done any of this without help from many people, but I won't embarass them by naming them here! I would however like to share with you what will become the Simple Pilgrim Logo, created by Judith Gait. I hope that we will have some little badges made for pilgrims with the image upon it, and also use it in any publicity material. It is early days yet, and I have so many ideas. I feel, however, that everything will happen when the time is right!