Long Itchington, 9th October 2016
Hello friends, pilgrims and fellow world travellers!
I’m sitting here at the kitchen table, listening to the radio and that familiar tingly, butterfly feeling wells up inside my tummy as the reality sets in of one more sleep until I set off to walk the Camino Portugués! What a difference a year makes…
This time last year I was already in my stride, walking along the Camino Frances from St. Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela. I walked with my grief, having spent the previous months caring for my mum through terminal cancer, being present at her transition and finding some way to cope with the aftermath – the loss of my best friend. One way was to dedicate my pilgrimage to her in remembrance of a life well lived and all she taught, gave and meant to me.
Now, I will walk an entirely different Camino from Lisbon to Santiago de Compostela, via Oporto. Although my grief for my mum is still present, I have many blessings to be grateful for and I feel joyful and filled with hope. I’m newly married to the love of my life, Brett and this will be our first Camino walk together, so we’re both excited!
A dedication to a fellow traveller
I remember myself as a child, sitting next to my mum on the sofa and eagerly watching her turn the crackly pages of black sugar paper, separated by fine tissue paper in dad’s old photo album. The album was like a magic book to me, covered in rich green silk, embroidered with fiery dragons from the east. In front of me, black and white photos with white borders stood out from the pages as if beckoning me on to the exotic locations and peoples within. My dad’s beautiful calligraphy in white ink, spelled out their names – Mombasa, Cape Town, Free Town, Colombo, Singapore, the Malacca Straits… Places I had never even heard of way back then, but they stayed with me.
My dad had taken these photos during World War II, when he served in the Royal Navy. Occasionally he told me some of the stories from his travels, but not many because he didn’t like to remember the war, it was too painful for him. I cherished these photos and his stories. He inspired me to take an interest in the world around me and I’m sure this was my earliest memory of wanting to travel. Therefore, I dedicate my pilgrimage along the Camino Portugués to my dad – Sean Wyndham Packwood, who passed away on 20th February 2006.
My Camino Portgues stuff
I am a compulsive list maker. Brett often teases me about that, saying something like “I don’t know why you bother writing lists. By the time you write a list, I’ve usually done half of the things on it”. I have to confess this is probably true! I even write packing lists, which is a bit of a paradox considering I’m usually a panic packer. Today, however, this was the first time I didn’t panic pack and took my time collecting a colourful array of odds and sods together. Here’s the lot, which weighs no more than 9.6kg (believe it or not) and if they don’t get me all the way to Santiago de Compostela, I’ll eat my shorts (to misquote Bart Simpson):
For those of you, who might be a tad nerdy (like me) and interested in detail, here’s the full Camino Portugues packing list:
My essential pilgrim kit
- Pilgrim credencial and cover from Santiago Cathedral
- Scallop shell (pilgrim symbol)
- Passport (probably the last time I’ll have European Union on it…bloody Brexit)
- E tickets for bus, train and plane and hotel/hostel bookings for days 1 & 2
- Oyster card (for getting across London)
- Mobile phone and cable
- Small flat wallet, money and visa card
- Black Diamond 55 litre backpack ‘Onyx’
- 1 pair of Black Diamond carbon fibre trekking poles
- 1 Cumulus comforter (down sleeping system, weighs only 560g!)
- 1 Vango fitted sheet (for albergue bunks to keep the bugs at bay, just in case)
- 1 European adaptor plug
- 1 Petzl head torch including red night light
- 1 Eagle Creek roll up toiletry bag and basic toiletries
- 2 Mountain Warehouse lightweight aluminium 500ml water bottles
- 1 bar of Simple soap for showering and washing clothes
- 1 bar of shampoo soap from Salt Spring (easier than bottles)
- 1 bottle of Piz Buin factor 3o, hypoallergenic sun screen
- 1 tube of soothing foot gel (it works, trust me I used it last year)
- Foldable cutlery (or you could use a Swiss Army knife or Leatherman)
- Small sewing kit (for draining blisters)
- Regular glasses (I’m blind as a bat without them or my contact lenses)
- Thumb drive
- Small lightweight fold up shopping bag
- Small packs of tissues
- A couple of biodegradable plastic bags
- 6 pegs (need you ask?…for laundry…although I could use them on snorers from hell)
- Foam ear plugs (a more benign way of dealing with snorers from hell)
My pilgrim clothes and footwear
- 1 pair of Saucony Peregrine 5 trail running shoes containing Sorbothane sports liners (the ones I wore last year, yes still going strong!)
- 1 pair of Teva sandals
- 1 MEC lightweight jacket
- 1 Vaude, eco-friendly, breathable rain poncho that can cover the backpack too
- 2 pairs of Thorlo sports ankle socks
- 2 pairs of lightweight, zip off, travel trousers (1 by MEC, the other by Craghoppers)
- 3 Uniqlo Heatech long-sleeved base layers
- 2 Regatta quick dry short-sleeved travel shirts
- 2 Craghoppers quick dry, active T-shirts
- 1 bikini (well why not? We might be walking the coastal route…)
- 1 bra and 3 pairs of underwear (that’s knickers to you…)
- 1 sun hat
- 1 Buff hat (which can be worn 13 different ways, including scarf, sweatband & hair scrunchie)
- 1 Thinsulate hat
- 1 pair of Thinsulate gloves
- 1 Camino triskelion pendant (to bless the journey)
From the above list, I’m wearing these tomorrow:
In this tastefully arranged photo (cough, cough…) you will notice the MEC lightweight jacket, Craghoppers zip off travel trousers, a Regatta travel shirt, a Uniqlo Heatech base layer, pair of Thorlo sports ankle socks, my lovely, trusty pair of Saucony Peregrine 5s, sunnies and my Camino pendant. No I’m not showing you my underwear, sorry, but rest assured I will be wearing some. I’m not going commando on the Camino, I’m sure it will be far too cold by the time we reach Galicia.
Have I bored the travel pants off you yet? (Isn’t it weird how in Canada and the USA trousers are called pants and over here pants mean knickers or y-fronts (or thongs, briefs, boxer shorts etc)? Or it’s used as an insult to indicate something or someone annoying or rubbish like “Theresa May and her fascist Tory Government are pants”…you get the idea….oops did I write that out loud?
Oh yeah, vitally important, I never go abroad without a travel first aid kit. In case you were wondering where the first aid kit containing all the Compeed blister plasters and painkillers are…it’s in Brett’s backpack (a husband is handy).
And I really mustn’t forget to mentioned I’m also taking my Galaxy Tab 4 (like last year), not in the photo because it was taking the photo, but I do intend to use it to record our trip.
Right, well I must be off to bed now.
Stay tuned for our Camino updates coming here to a screen near you imminently. Top tip, click on the follow button to get updates directly into your inbox.
Peace, love and light,