It was cold during the night. I eventually put the extra blanket provided over my sleeping bag, which I had been avoiding because I was using it to prop my legs so that I could lie on my back and my poorly heel could hang over the end and not touch the bed. Once I covered myself with the blanket I was warm but could not lie on my back and settle.
The new day varied between very cold, and absolutely bloody freezing. In fact it was literally freezing for the first 10 km, with a thick ground frost and puddles frozen over.
We set off just after 7:00 am and of course were immediately faced with the obligatory huge hill out of the village, but this one put all the others in their place. After struggling for over a kilometre we reached the top and walked across a totally flat plateau until we came to the next sign indicating an even steeper descent.
We were then back in rolling farmland walking on a decent sand track in lovely sunshine, but a bitter wind always with us. It took a while for my hands to become warm but once my fingertips had defrosted I was very comfortable in weather appropriate gear. There was quite a lot of cloud about but it remained fairly bright.
After 8km we came across a beautiful old building where a charming man was offering hot drinks to pilgrims and he stamped our credentials. We continued to the next village two kilometres on, hoping for some breakfast, but being Sunday everywhere was closed. So fortified by a few squares of chocolate, we wended our way to the next village, almost 20 km from our start point. We walked into the first (and possibly only) bar and I instantly thought of the tv programme “League of Gentlemen”. It was weird and very unfriendly and we downed a hot drink and were quickly on our way, battling the ever increasing bitter wind that was whipping over the open farmland.
A further kilometre or so the path ran alongside a wide canal which has sluice gates at regular intervals to allow water to divert into irrigation channels to serve the fields on the other side of the path. The wind was so strong now that I was glad it was blowing across the canal towards the path and not in the other direction, as it kept blowing us off course – it really was a battle.
We finally come to the outskirts of our destination and had to cross the canal at the lock gates.
We found a decent albergue for the night, and quickly saw to our ablutions so that we could adjourn to the bar across the road for a glass of wine and a plate of morcilla.
Today is my Mother’s birthday. I am doing this walk in memory of my old Mum. Although she was a very strong woman, and a great role model, she was plagued by major illnesses during her later life, undergoing a hysterectomy, removal of gall stones, double cataract removal, and then cancer took hold during her final years, first of all necessitating the removal of a huge cyst from her ovary which was marginally malignant, followed some years later by removal of lumps from her breast and lymph nodes from her armpit. One day, some time later she was getting undressed and whilst pulling a jumper over her head she broke her arm and discovered that the bastard disease has infiltrated her bones. She was in and out of hospital and on radio and chemo therapy, but the outlook was not good.
She never gave up, she always thought she would beat this terrible disease and was looking forward to celebrating her 80th birthday, this day in 2006. By then I was nursing her at my home for the last few weeks of her life and my dear old Dad who was by then suffering from vascular dementia and had very little short term memory, was also with us.
Mum survived her 80th and all the family came to help celebrate but she was very near the end and wasn’t really aware of what was going on. She died on 8 May. She fought for every moment of her life for the last few years and never lowered her expectations.
She was a great inspiration to me and my daughters. Because of the war and evacuation she did not get to take her matriculation, but was an avid reader and lover of the English language and a very professional needle and craft worker. Having always worked as a secretary she felt she was underachieving and at the age of forty she studied for ‘o’ levels, passed with flying colours and went to teacher training college, where she qualified as a needlework and English teacher. She was always writing poetry and produced a poem for every family occasion, be it a grandchild passing their driving test or a family wedding. She even wrote a poem to be read by my brother at her own funeral.
I owe my mother, Alice Woodward, a huge debt of gratitude for her fine example of what can be achieved by determination and hard work.
Thank you Mum.
This is the only photo I have access to here in Spain on the camino (thanks Jan), taken on her 70th birthday. Not my favourite photo. Will post a better pic later if poss