Tag Archives: The Way of St James

Camino Day 2 – Writing from Logoso.

Hola Amigos,

If you’re here to find the link to donate that’s here Do it in a dress – Camino Finisterre.

When we travelled our big camper trip last year I remember writing about how I was growing strength. Growing by running in each new town down unfamiliar paths in unfamiliar countries. I didn’t want to be scared anymore. It has taken me a long time to realise what facing fear means. But I’m getting a grip on mine … the more I practice the more I understand where it’s coming from. It takes a lot of our energy this fear, being scared caper … and honestly who has spare energy to give away?

Like anything we don’t learn without trying, living, practicing. Holy crap look at me now. Solo hiking in the darkness of the morning, on an unfamiliar trail, in an unfamiliar country – IN a dress. True, there were a few people about, people who had already left the albergue but in this morning’s darkness I walked alone. Alone without fear.

Hmm perhaps that’s the theme of this camino? What am I scared of? What is it in life that I’m wasting my energy on because deep down fear is driving how I act, respond or make decisions.

I walked to my first coffee stop this morning at the 4.5km mark. Christian the German hiker I sat next to last night’s pilgrim dinner was there. I ordered my cafe con leche and sat with him. It would have been easier to sit on my own but hey it’s the camino and I’m doing that thing where I make an effort. It turns out Christian has kept a diary and each day he asks someone to write some words in it. He has entries from all over the world and I think a wonderful book of both his and others thoughts documented – his camino experience. Clever! Obviously I could never do it … ask someone everyday, ha ha no way I have trouble enough asking for what I need (there’s some scared for you right there). When he asked me to write in it of course I was awkward but I decided hey what does it matter! I wrote a page.

We ended up walking the entire day and in true German super hiker style he walked fast and referred often to his guide book often ;) I now have a grip on the distances and towns along the rest of this trail. In one town we walked past Skye from yesterday. It’s happening, the random familiarity and coincidences that the camino brings. We talked a lot of the day and while part of me missed the solitude of walking alone it was nice to share some camino thoughts. And our walking pace matched.

At the 32km mark I decided I was done and stopped for the night. Christian walked on, he’s walking 45kms today. I was first to arrive at the Albergue (€12 per night/€9 three course pilgrim meal) which is always a bonus because I got to choose the first bed! I chose the only non bunk bed. I also got to indulge in some introvert time after the jobs were done. It’s always the same routine shower, rinse the clothes, roll the feet, offload photos, write in my journal … eat a banana sometimes a beer although not today, I want an early night.

When it was time for dinner I ventured out into the cafe. The albergue is now starting to fill. I noticed a lady I was sure was on my plane from Amsterdam … we got chatting and shared a table for dinner. She had walked the camino from Porto in Portugal last year and is also here to finish the walk the the coast from Santiago. Actually she is from Amsterdam and we’re on the same flight home. We will probably have a coffee and a debrief together at the airport on Monday. I had an early dinner and as I was finishing Skye walked in! There’s a big group of pilgrims but I’m ‘people’ spent. I need some introvert time. So here I am updating y’all and getting cosy on my own for an early night.

That’s the thing about the camino and challenging ourselves to do scary things and face what makes us nervous. We can’t change ourselves and become someone we are not … that will never work. It’s about striking the balance. Knowing where we need to try a bit harder, do a little more, or perhaps a little less, the areas we need to put some effort in but ALWAYS keeping it at a pace we can manage. Walking our own walk. Building our strength, our character.

Buen camino,

Fran xx

Camino Day 1 – Writing from Alto da Pena.

Hola Amigos!

If you’re here to find the link to donate that’s here Do it in a dress – Camino Finisterre.

Oh my what a start!

I am so glad many of you are back again reading along and joining me on this adventure to continue where I left off. So today … today I was thinking about how exciting beginnings are and the anticipation of great things happening. And then I thought as I climbed a hill and my heart was beating and my head was sweaty (you know that hair clumpy, humid, sticky feeling, can I smell myself crap I’ll defo have to shower don’t stand near me kind of sweat) this IS greatness. GREATNESS is living. And all of this is enough, where I am, what I’m doing, the people in my life. I have enough. So everything else – is all a bonus. And the second thought I had was that SO much time gets wasted because we are looking for something … that most of us already have and we have it IN abundance. Freedom. Freedom to choose trust over fear. JOMO over FOMO.

Sure BIG cool things happen like getting accepted into a Masters, yep that happened yesterday (still not sure if I’m going to do it). And getting some of the kindest messages from people who read your stuff – really read, read because they love what you write, they get you, yep that also happened. And then there’s your daughter biking to the station with you and telling you she’s proud that you’re wearing a school dress and isn’t embarrassed of you because she thinks you’re doing ‘cool stuff’. And the big fear you had of being noticed in a dress is actually more liberating than awkward! Yes friends the heart beating, the sweat, the kindness, the love and the liberation of doing my own thing, my own way that is GREATNESS. And it’s freedom – freedom from fear.

Right I guess you want to hear about the camino. Oh wow – I love it. You probably all know by now that my mate Frank the Tank missed his flight yesterday. That was a complete bummer because you know how much we enjoyed walking the camino with those Texan Crackers! But it happened so it has became a solo adventure and I’m ok with that challenge. I’m good with hiking alone and now I won’t be able to rely on having a friend to hide behind. I’ll have to be there … at night with all the people at the pilgrim meal. Plus I’ll convince him to do a hard one like TMB with me!

I spent the first night in Santiago. I’m not gonna lie I was a little out of place. Generally, people here have just finished their camino they’re in a different space to a new arrival. I stayed at an old monastery I had pre booked for €17 a night and it was kind of spooky and lacking in that feeling of ‘connected’ walkers. I had a single room and wondered if I should have booked the dorm. Dinner was a few bits from the supermarket. I ate as I people watched in the canteen. I can happily report I did sleep!

I needed to find a map last night as I wasn’t sure how to get myself on the camino today. After a nice sleep in (8.30am) I set off to begin my first leg of this hike the Camino Finisterre. I managed to find the trail and enjoyed walking the first 12kms to cafe for my morning coffee. This was a favourite camino habit from last time. I must take it on board at home. Rather than a coffee when I wake – move first! The Galician countryside is like walking through a ‘move to rural Spain’ travel memoir. I could see all the characters come to life as I walked.

I had spent a bit of time wondering how far to walk … how will I know when to stop? How do I fit in 240kms in six days? I decided I’d just walk … walk until I was ready to stop. And what do you know it worked … I actually felt the need for lunch. So I stopped. I ended up in a bar with old men and the only thing on offer a bacon sandwich but hey I’m not gonna go chasing … I’m going to roll! And it was all I needed. The half I couldn’t eat was wrapped as a take away and after a 1/2 hour rest of the feet I was ready to walk on towards the unknown.

Last night I felt like a stranger rolling up in town whereas today I was among fellow pilgrims and hikers on the camino. I walked solo. There were people on the trails but not so many. I enjoyed being in my own company and giving time to the how and what this camino is for me. I had a brief chat with Skye from Canada. I wasn’t sure where I’d stop … and at the 28km mark (same as last time) I felt ready. So when I reached A Pena I decided to take a bed at the first albergue. I’m in a dorm of four (€12) and I sat at the pilgrim meal (€9 three courses) amongst Italians, French and of course a friendly German.

I feel a sense of home here on the camino. I think most people who have walked it do. Many return. All are changed. I’m glad I’m back for whatever greatness unfolds especially hearing the trees who in the Galician winds with their huge bendy boughs talk. Truth.

Buen camino dear friends,

Fran xx

And We Are Away – Camino Mark 2.0

Hola Amigos!

AND just like that Camino 2.0 has crept up.

AND I cannot wait. Ok I can because I’m in post holiday nesting mode … but it’s happening regardless so best I get my shell out, pack the day pack and find my flow.

Tomorrow I will fly into Santiago de Compostela to hike a round trip of 240kms with a friend from camino 1.0  – Frank the tank.

Santiago – Finisterre – Muxia – Santiago.

I’ve booked my first night at an old seminary in Santiago. I’m super excited about travelling to the end of the world by foot while raising awareness for One Girl Australia and challenging myself to grow into some of the scary things that make me nervous.

Ahhh the bliss of long days on the trail … the endless horizons, fellow hiker stories, smiles and laughter, the kindness, the purpose, the joy of simply walking – freedom.

If you want to help spread the word about One Girl please feel free by sharing this story with friends and posting it on your socials! It worked a treat last time. Heck, maybe even approach the big boss at work if you think they are looking to #giveashit in the world and support an AWESOME cause.

Or here’s an idea … sign yourself up to #doitinadress. You’ll tick off a challenge as well as changing one girl’s world. Life changing stuff all round right there.

Standing for girl’s education. YEAH. Let’s DO this! My mum just took the hem up on my school dress and Zoë just hand wrote the details on the One Girl cards I’ll be carrying. My girls … where would I be without them.

See you all from the WAY. This last chapter to the end of the world Finisterre. Who will we meet this time? What will unfold as we step into this camino story? Where will it take us?

Adventure bound. We.Are.On. Like an up beat song!

Buen Camino friends,

Fran xxx

Follow on Instagram here.

Support the education of girls in Africa here.

Thanks for my El Camino People Bracelets Jose! I have a few to share on the trail and my kids will be wearing them at school while I’m away.

If you‘re new here or would to catch up on Camino 1.0 here’s the story. It was written from the trail on my iPhone in the early hours during April/May 2018.

Day 0 From St Jean Pied de Port

Day 1 From Orrison

Day 2 From Roncevalles

Day 3 From Larrosoaña

Day 4 From Zariquiegui

Day 5 From Lorca

Day 6 Los Arcos

Day 7 Logroño

Day 8 Nájera

Day 9 Grañón

Day 10 Villafranca

Day 11 Cardeñuela Ríopico

Day 12 Rabé de las Calzadas

Day 13 Castrojeriz

Day 14 Población de Campos

Day 15 Calzadilla de la Cueza

Day 16 Bercianos del Real Camino

Day 17 Mansilla de las Mulas

Day 18 León

Day 19 Hospital del Órbido

Day 20 Santa Catalina

Day 21 El Acebo

Day 22 Camponaraya

Day 23 Ruitelán

Day 24 Trìacastela

Day 25 Portomarín

Day 26 O Coto 

Day 27 Salcedo

Day 28 Santiago de Compostela, Spain

A few days rest in Santiago

Week 5 Finisterre by bus

Other related posts:

Why the camino for one girl

How to help?

Beyond – I’m going back to finish things off

Summer Camper Trip – St-Jean Pied de Port, France.

In the foot hills of The Pyrenees, the last town in France where pilgrims traditionally stopped before heading towards Santiago de Compostela is where we’ve been. A heart filling stop in St-Jean Pied de Port. It is also the town where the 800km Camino Frances begins. It was good to be back.

There are some places I visit that I just know I will come back to. SJPdP was one of them. Back in April when I was here to begin my epic 800km hike for One Girl it was all new and unfamiliar and at the same time so charming and welcoming. There was a warmth here I wanted to feel again when I didn’t have walking a camino to consider.

This time around I saw a new side to it as I shared the experience with my family. We lucked upon Basque dancing and the tradition of a Palote match. I adore this about village life – traditions that are upheld. No matter what age there is a place for people.

We ate at the same restaurant I dined with my sister the night before and we wandered through ancient archway onto the Napoleon route across the Pyrenees. These arch ways which hundreds of thousands of people have walked through as set off or continue walking along ‘the way’ towards Santiago.

The motor home park while rundown was perfect for us! Lots of green space for kids to run and play ‘stick’ cricket. We’ve adjusted our travel over the years as our family has grown and accordingly with the children’s ages. I know what my kids can and can’t handle and we adapt. To be honest if travel with kids had no pleasure why do it? Space to run and time to play to be wild and free – so important. It also give us adults time to take in the wonder of finding ourselves in new experiences and be where we are. And after an excited day on le tour a down day was definitely in order.

Although not necessarily a sit down day for Z and I. We decided to hike up to Orisson. Orisson was the first stop on my camino. I wrote from there. It wasn’t a planned hike, nor was STJPdP a planned stop, our loose itinerary gives us room to steer itself. The hike was an 8km up the mountain in the hot sun kind of challenge. It was particularly special to do it with my daughter. A real moment in time we will both have forever. This wasn’t just any hike, this was the first stage of the camino … and we did it together.

Along the way we chatted about many things and at one time a wise eagle circled above us. Does this have some kind of symbolism? I’m not sure but it felt like it did. We shared a meal at Orisson, sitting at the same table I spent the afternoon with my sister at and Zoë signed the guest book.

The way down had less strain and I became her secret keeper as she opened up even more than usual. What a great privilege. We finished the hike closer than when we started. I know her a little better. And I know I’ve passed on something special to her. If the day comes that she needs to take a long walk – she knows where and how to begin.

As we leave today after Z’s egg on baguette cook up I say goodbye to a village that has given me so much. I don’t need to come back to SJPdP again. If I ever walk another camino I think it will be along another route. As my camino, this long walk of life continues, always, there are times of letting go, of leaving the past behind.

And so we move on towards an afternoon with friends … friends with a ‘french’ cave – I can hardly wait.

Buen camino dear ones,

Fran xx

Camper tips:

Perhaps you want to know what we travel with for the kids? They don’t always have to use sticks to entertain themselves :).

We have card games: uno, a plain old deck and top trump – anytime we go for a drink I pack these! They are never allowed on phones or tablets in cafes or over food and drinks. They have already begun epic tournaments. It warms my soul.

Tennis racquets and balls, a soccer ball, a dart board with balls that stick, twister, dominoes, pencils and paper and a game of Halli Galli. For the beach we have surfboards and a SUP. When we arrive they tend to take out what they want to play with and get themselves set up. We also have a pop up tent that they use to play in if it’s hot or raining.

Our oldest has a phone he can play games on, sans WIFI. We haven’t really camped anywhere with free access. His data is very limited so he has learnt to be careful with it (it must last the month). I like the idea that they go away without the need to communicate with home – they can catch up with friends when they return. It’s my greatest challenge teaching my kids to develop that freedom.

We also have a tablet with movies downloaded, mostly for long drives.

The Art of Feeling

Adventures On My Bike – Day 8/28

Today’s recipe: It’s one for a hot afternoon after school.

My bike has three gears. For many months I haven’t been able to shift it into first gear. I just slogged away riding it as it was. I’m not sure why it took so long to get the gears fixed but last week I finally did. It was quite painless really, it didn’t even cost that much. I just had to make the effort to make the first move. One purposeful move, a move that gave my gears (and me) the freedom from being stuck.

‘The Art of Feeling’ is what I am calling my daughter’s latest artwork (the opening photo of this post). Right now I am crying, tears are streaming as I write this. Good tears. Tears because this art work pushed me to watch the you tube video I’ve linked at the top of this post. The video landed in my inbox earlier this week and I knew it would probably make me cry. I haven’t been able to watch it before now because I find it awkward to be thanked and I’m still nervous about being being seen. Of all the things I find hard … it is my most vulnerable work. I really stepped up and out of my comfort zone by putting myself, my heart, my writing and my photography out there to ask for support and donations for my #hikeforonegirl project. And even though the creating the project, the camino and all of you hiked and stepped me through that fear, I still feel the nerves. And if I am honest I am not entirely sure if I’ve really acknowledged the enormity of what we achieved, but I want to. I truly do because the project is gently growing.

Of course I knew deep down I had to watch it because what we did mattered and I can’t hide from that. And I am not letting sight of that sail as it takes me into the wind. It is why this website was created. Hiking towards my One Girl challenge was a beautiful anchor this past year. When I returned from the camino I wanted to drop a few more anchors in my life. I feel the need to anchor in our home and community in our new country. I need to tend to the nest. I think you can sail without expectations and at the same time drop a few anchors. Do you? It sounds like a contradiction but we need both in our every day lives. At least I do. While I’ve been dropping a few intentional anchors, One Girl is never far from my mind. I am dreaming about how I can continue working as a ambassador to raise awareness and fundraise for the some of the world’s most vulnerable and equally delightful girls. How are the smiles in that video. We can’t loose sight of them.

A dear friend used this quote last week and it resonated.

‘There is more that one kind of freedom … Freedom to and freedom from.’ ~ Margaret Atwood.

Most of us have freedom to and together, all 69 of us from Australia, The Netherlands, Germany, Spain, France, Canada and The USA spectacularly raised $8135. Enough money to give 27 girls the freedom to go school in Africa. Special mention to Kimmy, my fellow hiker and ‘Women who Hike’ accomplice in adventuring for change. You are AMAZING (educating two extra girls came from you also choosing to stand up!).

As you know I have plans to return to the camino in September and I am hoping a few others may just take on their own hiking challenge with me, hint hint nudge nudge. Big or small no worries, just hike it baby. Don’t worry you will hear more or ask me.

Speaking of delightful girls! Meet Mischa one of my daughter’s friends from Melbourne. Mischa is using her position as a school leader to stand for girls. She brought One Girl as a potential charity to her school’s attention and guess where some of their term 3 fundraising is going? One Girl! Mischa you are amazing and I know the One Girl family is going to be super excited to here your story.

Here’s another amazing story. Paula fellow hiker and woman’s adventure enthusiast messaged me here to tell me that she has decided to contribute monthly to One Girl. She is effectively keeping girls in school. I’ve said it before on this blog and I’ll say it again. You inspired me beyond words with your camino wisdom Paula and I truly hope to hike a trail with you one day in the future.

And while we’re talking feelings I may as well share one that we don’t often talk positively about. Anger. Yes, anger that’s the one. I want to talk about anger because it was a great catalyst for helping me to put the camino and One Girl on the same page.

Last year I began to feel I angry and disillusioned about how one of my greatest loves was being treated. No one should be treated as a pretty face with no value only to make others look good. And I simply I couldn’t stand by to watch my dear friend be sold without any concern for her essence.

She was being used to sell anything, detergent with micro plastics, plastic toys, personal travel loans. She was being shared as a *must do* bucket  check list that we must – at all costs – check off. Without even getting to know her. I think it was probably the sponsored travel loans that really tipped me over the edge. And, as someone who regularly shares travel pics I wanted to stand up for my love, my friend – travel.

Google ‘travel quotes’ and what to you get? Over 748 million hits! We all love travel. And what do we love about travel? Here are the first three random quotes that came up.

“The gladdest moment in human life, me thinks, is a departure into unknown lands.” – Sir Richard Burton

“Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.” – Jennifer Lee

“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” -Gustav Flaubert

It is not hard to uncover the essence of travel, of why people travel.  She enriches us with her qualities of perspective, space, freedom, wonder and awe. She gently encourages us to improve ourselves, gives us strength and puts our existence in the world into context. She reminds us that there is more to life than wanting to own more, she gives and we receive.

So why do we treat her so unethically. Why do we use her to sell ‘shit’ when we know we want to protect the world because she, travel taught us that? Late last year I already knew I wanted to hike the camino as well as work with One Girl. So let’s blame anger, anger made me do it! It made me stand with these two together.

I’m bloody glad I did – get angry that is. I am so grateful that all 69 of you supporters also decided that Adventure Tavel and Charity are a good match. On behalf of my friend travel and her essence I thank you alongside my One Girl family!

Am I as angry now about how travel is shared? Not so much because now I’m using my own voice to say something different. And I guess you could look at me and say well you’ve done a sponsored post so you’re also dipping into travel as a commodity.  And yes that is true. I was sponsored gear to #hikeforonegirl and I have thought a lot about that. I hope I have done the honourable thing by my friend and only ever sold her in a way that protects her essence but encourages others to do so as well.

Hot day recipe. Chopped watermelon.

It’s not so much a recipe today as it is a food story. It’s hot here and when you haven’t prepared an after school snack – CHOP watermelon. He was quite chuffed that his Greek mate was eating the other half. Made the connection? ;) Yesterday at the market Lexie and I bought the two halves of the same watermelon. I really, really love that the two little mates are both eating an afternoon snack in their respective homes from the same watermelon.