Day down and thinking about camino

It’s Tuesday after the summer bank holiday. Traditionally a day when the schools go back, when people return to the grind. Not I. I spent the entire morning sleeping and reading. Pickle was thrilled. She sleeps on my bed all day anyway so this was validation for her. She got a great deal of belly stroking out of it. Then I got up about 1pm in order to continue doing fuck all in the living room, for a change of scene.

The problem with absolute shameless indolence is that it saps your energy more than exercise. I feel more tired now than I would do if I’d walked 20 miles. Who would believe that laziness could be so exhausting?

I knew I was due a crash though. Tomorrow I’ll get back on the rollercoaster. But God help us all, none of us are as young as we used to be. And my body needed to recover. To eat salad and eggs and have two baths in one day. To pour an entire packet of honey roasted peanuts into my gullet. To chew through a whole bag of liquorice allsorts. To order a pizza and eat it alone in front of Jumanji 2, lying sprawled on a beanbag with a cat by my face after far too long re-establishing how to play Dragon Age Inquisition, trying to remember what the plot is and why I’m being followed by all these weird people with bows and how fighting works even though I’ll probably leave it another year now before I pick it up again.

The only useful thing I did was to start to work out the route of this pilgrimage that I’m planning. It’s going to be a mission. I reckon it’ll take 40 days from Lourdes to Santiago, if I don’t take the piss and run myself into the ground. 40 days and 40 nights is a satisfyingly biblical figure, and very much suits my tendency towards mythic things. It looks like I’m going to walk 600 miles, and some of it through mountains. But loads of people do it, so it’s not like I’m going to be in the desert getting rabies and dying in a hole. I’m going to be in France and then Spain, moving freely through Europe while I still can.

First leg, which is just me being awkward and not officially part of it, will be about 100 miles of yomping from Lourdes to Saint Jean Pied de Port through southern France. Lourdes is where my mum got her holy water, and St Jean is where the official Camino starts and I get my scallop shell and run into a load of other maniacs. Then it’s smashing through a million places I’ve never heard of, ending up 500 miles later 12 stone lighter and with no feet left in Santiago di Compostela, delirious and probably seeing visions of the virgin Mary.

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Anyone living in the south of France or with a house that has space for a car for a month, I’m going to drive as close to Lourdes as I can and leave the jag somewhere – ideally on somebody’s property so it’s safe. Anyone living in the north west of Spain, I’m going to need to die for a day or so before mustering the will to get public transport back to my car in Lourdes. All beds in that time greatly appreciated as accommodation in Santiago will be prohibitively expensive, especially as I can’t confidently book in advance knowing the random element. If my knee explodes somewhere I’ll need that hotel money to pay for the hospital.

I doubt there’s anyone I know that lives en-route – I’ve never heard of most of these places – but it’s worth putting that out there too. After a few weeks I’ll be missing familiar faces. And I’ll be taking Sunday as a day of rest. I won’t be bringing a tent, sleeping bag, stove, gas canister and ground mat because I like the idea of being capable of moving my back without agony when I’m old. So I’ll be sleeping in humongous stinking alberges full of gaseous snoring pilgrims who will probably lynch or convert me if they hear my Buddhist chanting, and will charge more than I’m happy to spend for beds made out of coathangers and piety.

The plan, barring Spielberg/The National etc, is to leave home on the 22nd September, and start walking on my birthday – Monday 24th. I’m still fuzzy on itinerary as I haven’t got elevations and these things are subject to the elements, knees, feet, and optimism. But I could walk 500 miles and I could walk 100 more. It’ll be hard to take the time off work. But work has not been banging on my door lately in any consistent sense, so maybe the walk will do me good karmically. I’ve never been one to sit and wait for the phone to ring. In the scheme of things it’s only about a month out. I’ll be back in time for fireworks. Maybe.



Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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