Saturday, 27 February 2021

Well that´s torn it!

I was beginning to feel a bit optimistic about the pandemic here in São Paulo, the vaccination age has reached the 77 to 79 year olds which means after them I should be in the next cohort. But...on the news today I heard that the current infection and death rates are higher now than they were at the height of the pandemic last July and the ICUs are full...looks like I shall have to go into full isolation again.

Thursday, 25 February 2021


They say you can get used to anything over time, I have found wearing a mask has become a habit although I still don´t like it.

Here in Brazil masks are compulsory on the streets,on public transport, in shops etc, in other words everywhere you go outside your front door. When I take Toby for a walk I automatically pick up my mask together with his lead.

The problem for me is I made my own masks and being extra cautious I think I made them with more layers of fabric than strictly necessary, which makes breathing a bit harder. So if I am walking fast or trying to talk at the same time I get a bit breathless. Another problem is that because of the summer heat my face perspires a lot and my mask gets damp, especially under the chin as the sweat runs down, not very nice!

It is over a year now since I started wearing a mask outdoors and only going out when it is unavoidable. I just wish there was some light at the end of the tunnel but I can´t see it yet.

Friday, 19 February 2021

A bunch of eccentrics

 I´ve been watching Time Team again tonight and it struck me what a wonderful collection of characters archaeologists are. They might spend a lifetime specialising in just one type of artifact, wear colourful clothes and have wild hair, but nothing can distract from their enthusiasm and love for discovering the secrets of the past.

Thursday, 18 February 2021

Time Team

Thank goodness for the internet and YouTube. This business of staying in all the time is wearing a bit thin after one year. 

Many moons ago, during one of the periods I lived in England, I studied extramural archaeology at Manchester University. I found the course fascinating and went on to do some voluntary work pot drawing and working on digs. When I moved back to Brazil opportunities to get involved in anything like that were a bit thin on the ground, so to speak!

Imagine my delight when I discovered a few days ago that the TV programme on archaeology,Time Team,  is available on YouTube. I have been binge watching it ever since. I know the programme ran for many years, and apart from anything else it is interesting to see how the main participants aged over that time.

Sunday, 14 February 2021



This is Toby, my Yorkie. The sign says "I ate my mum`s cheese"! It was my fault as I left a shopping bag on the floor. He scoffed 200 grams of mozzarella cheese in a matter of seconds, which did not agree with him at all...

I´ve had Toby since he was a two-month old pup, and he will be fourteen this year so he is getting on a bit. Sadly he has had 'dry eye' for years and slowly lost his sight. I think he can only see vague moving shadows now. I have to put ointment in his eyes every day and keep cleaning them every few hours. There is no cure and I was not willing to inflict either of two procedures on him. One was to stitch his eyelids partially closed to stop him blinking, and the other was to connect his salivary glands to his tear ducts to lubricate his eyes. There was no guarantee either procedure would work and I found the idea of them pretty barbaric anyway, so we have just managed as best we can. He is perfectly happy, goes for walks on a lead, and plays with his toys. There is nothing wrong with his sense of smell, hence him finding the cheese!

I originally got him thinking he would be company for my father who lived with me. I was still working then and my father, who was blind, spent a lot of time alone. Unfortunately my father did not take to him, but I never regretted my decision. Toby is great company, especially now I am on my own, and even more so now I am mostly shielding because of the pandemic. He is not a lapdog though, never wears clothes and does not spend his time yapping, thank goodness...he is a proper little dog.

Thursday, 11 February 2021

The one that got away!

I think I overdosed on Caminos on the Via de la Plata, and there was a four-year break before I felt like doing another one, in 2016. I chose the Camino Inglês or The English Way, which is only 119km within Galicia, from Ferrol to Santiago de Compostela, used mainly by Northern Europeans pilgrims who used to arrive by boat. It is a very peaceful way, countrified and quiet, with few other pilgrims. I went on my own which was just as well because after about five days of walking my hips became very painful and I had to give up.

I caught a bus into Santiago and hung about for a few days before my flight to the UK to visit one of my sons was due. It was a nice chance to explore the city without rushing. Naturally this time I did not apply for a Compostela as I had not walked the compulsory last 100km. So, that brings my Camino tales up to date, since the one mentioned in my last post planned for April last year fell through because of the pandemic. I hope I´ll be able to do another one in the not too distant future as I´m not getting any younger!

Monday, 8 February 2021

Flight voucher

 Well, that´s a relief! I had an email today telling me the validity of my flight voucher has been extended until June 2022. I had a flight to Spain booked and paid for for last April, to walk another Camino...which obviously didn´t happen. I was given a voucher valid for one year expiring next month. I have been dithering about the last couple of weeks wondering what to do about it, but now, problem solved!

Sunday, 7 February 2021

Via de la Plata


My third Camino, in 2012, was a real challenge...over 1000km starting in Seville and walking right up through Spain to Santiago. Once again I met up with my friend Kari, although Harriet wisely refrained from joining us. It took us two months solid walking, through hills, valleys, plains and every other type of terrain you can imagine, and through all kinds of weather. I´m happy to say we walked every inch of the way, had loads of adventures and a wonderful time.

We made friends early on with two fellow pilgrims we kept bumping into, when they kindly offered to swap our top bunks for their lower ones in an albergue. Their story is an interesting one. They were both from France, with very little English but we managed to communicate pretty well. The older chap, probably in his late twenties, was a social worker. The younger one I was amazed to discover was only fifteen. He was over six foot tall and heavily built, and looked several years older. He was an offender, with anger issues, and had been given a choice between walking the Camino with a social worker or prison. I think this is a remarkable scheme and much more likely to be effective than a prison sentence with all that entails. Apparently several countries in Europe have similar schemes. Of course we never asked what he had done. We enjoyed their company over the next couple of months virtually on a daily basis, with no problems at all and in fact became quite close.

 Amongst our adventures was sleeping in some odd places. Above is my bed for the night on the floor of a bar. As you can see I was lent a thin mattress, with my sleeping bag on top and my small bag of clean clothes for a pillow. When we arrived in the village everywhere was full and it was too late and too far to walk to the next place. We ate in this bar which was packed with locals watching a football game on TV and luckily they let us stay for the night, although we had to wait for all the customers to leave before being able to bed down. My grandchildren can´t believe the things I get up to!

Friday, 5 February 2021

Second Camino


Since this blog was originally about my 1st Camino, it feels right to update about my subsequent ones. I originally went on my first Camino (the French one) on my own, where I met Kari, from Canada. We kept in touch and subsequently planned a further Camino together two years later in 2011, when she brought along her mum, Harriet. We did the French Camino again. That´s us above, myself, Harriet and Kari.

Harriet, in her mid 70`s, was great company and full of pluck. Since I had walked every step of the French Way first time round, I did not feel so focused on completing every step, and kept Harriet company a couple of times, leapfrogging over a couple of harder bits. 

This may have been helped by the fact I broke a toe about a third of the way. Believe it or not I managed to fall into a bar at 8am! What happened was I woke early and went looking for a coffee. When I found a bar that was open I went through the door, from bright sunlight to shadow, not noticing that there were three steps down into the premises. Needless to say I stepped into thin air and went sprawling, much to the astonishment of some local chaps, and my embarrassment. I was wearing sandals, so no real support, and over the next few days my toe turned black. Despite the pain I decided to carry on as there was not much I could do, and gradually it got better.

There is something different about doing the Camino with friends. I enjoyed my first solitary Camino as well as the second with Kari and her mum. They were both special in different ways. All in all it was a great time with many treasured memories.

Wednesday, 3 February 2021

Hot, hot, hot


We are in the middle of summer here at the moment and it is very hot, averaging 35C (95F) most days. I don´t have air conditioning in my apartment unfortunately, just fans. Nights are difficult as my walls get the sun all afternoon and store heat like a giant radiator, releasing it slowly while I try to sleep. The walls are actually warm to the touch! I have a fan pointed at my bed all night, which they say is unhealthy, but I don´t care. Every afternoon there is a violent thunder storm but it doesn´t really help...

Monday, 1 February 2021


 The Santiago Cross, just testing to see if I can work out how to upload photos...looking promising!

Hello!!!!! has been a long time since I posted anything on my blog...more than ten years! My excuse is the blog was initially intended to be about my Camino, and when that was finished there was nothing more to add. I´ve decided to revive it and see where it takes me. Now that I am shielding I have had an itch to start writing again!

A lot has happened in the last ten years, including three more Caminos, the loss of my father and my oldest son, and my retirement...much to write about. I´m not even sure my blog still works, so this is rather a test post to see what happens.