About

imageThere’s never a dull moment when living in southern Spain. Well, that’s not strictly true – sometimes the sun doesn’t shine, and it even rains occasionally, but on the whole life as an expat in the sunny village of Cómpeta in Andalucia doesn’t give me many reasons to complain! Our home is situated at 650 metres above sea level in the foothills of the Almijara mountains within a few metres of a vast area of protected natural park, and with glorious views of the mediterranean coast. I live here with my partner David and a small menagerie of dog, cat and horse.

My two delightful daughters live in the UK and I visit often to see them and my beautiful grandson Mikey.

I started this blog in 2013 to record my 800 km (500 mile) walk across Northern Spain on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela and continue to report from my 2014 Camino Portuguese.

Amongst these camino reports are posts about life in sunny Spain………the quirks of mixing with characterful local Spaniards and lively expats from all corners of the world, and my adventures with horse and dog, walking and riding in the stunningly beautiful mountains here on my doorstep.

Thanks for visiting. I welcome feedback – please feel free to comment on any post.

The first of the morning sun hitting mount Maroma above the village of Canillas de Albaida as seen from our terrace.

The first of the morning sun hitting mount Maroma above the village of Canillas de Albaida as seen from our terrace.

a typical view from a walk in the Almijara mountains

a typical view from a walk in the Almijara mountains

59 Responses to About

  1. Bill & Betty says:

    Why walk, what about riding the horse, is Dave following in the car, let us have more deatails and purpose. Love Bill & Betty

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    • magwood says:

      Hi Bill and Betty. How nice to hear from you. I am doing the walk simply because my daughter Ella invited me to join her. We originally only planned to walk a section of the 780km, but have now decided to walk the entire length, over 5 weeks. Riding the camino seemed like a good idea until I realised how much complicated organisation would be involved in securing suitable overnight stops and feed along the way. So I shall be self propelled and have started to do practice walks, building up the distance, towards the 25km that we shall be walking most days.

      David is staying home to look after the menagerie, but hopefully we can arrange that he meets up with us at some point as he might be driving over to the UK

      I hope I won’t miss your next visit. When are you coming next?

      Like

      • Bill & Betty says:

        We thought we were going to see you both at Christmas. Did you come to the UK ?
        We are in the process of buying another boat, so may come to Spain October this year, if we have any money left !!

        Like

  2. Frances Lazenby says:

    Hello Maggie, I just got your “blog” address from Lyn. Good for you, amazing. Will follow you. I must admit it would be a horse for me!!

    Like

  3. Sue & Keith says:

    Hi Maggie. Just got your blog from David when we met him in Competa today riding Liana. Hope you are having a good time without to many blisters! Enjoy the rest of your walk. Love from Sue and Keith xx

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  4. Annie derrick says:

    Thanks maggie. Really helpful packing list brim heading off in the Frances in 3 weeks (17 aug 2013). OzAnnie

    Like

    • magwood says:

      Hi Annie. Glad it was useful. I hope you enjoy your camino experience as much as I did, and hopefully it won’t be too hot for comfort. I expect the scenery will be quite different a couple of months on – it was very lush and green when I was walking. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you think I can be of any help.
      Buen camino….

      Like

    • magwood says:

      Hi Kim. Thanks for the permission. I actually included the article in my blog as a post, with full credit – http://wp.me/p3azEo-no.
      Is this ok?

      Like

      • aviatrixkim says:

        I’m so glad you liked it! I actually don’t have the authority to give permission to post a Nashville Scene story, because they’re the publishers, not me. That’s why I only posted an excerpt with screenshot and link.

        I can’t speak for them, but I’m sure they would appreciate a link back. Cheers! -K

        Like

  5. magwood says:

    Thanks Kim, have put in a link.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. leggypeggy says:

    Thanks for visiting and liking my travel blog. A friend and I have been interested in doing the Camino and your blog is a wonderful resource.

    Like

  7. Lovely to have found your blog!! We are walking the Camino later this year and have started reading your post with much interest…. 🙂

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  8. Wendy Kate says:

    Congratulations on finishing your camino – I found you through East of Malaga’s post and I look forward to catching up on your blog posts 🙂

    Like

  9. karmatsechi says:

    Lovely blog Maggie! What a stunning setting it is where you live. Is your blog cover pic near to where you are? x

    Like

    • magwood says:

      Hi and thanks for your comment. The blog banner pic is taken on the camino Frances in Northern Spain, in spring last year. It was an amazing view and I have seen that lots of other pilgrims have the taken a very similar photo.

      Like

  10. sandradan1 says:

    Love your photos. We live near Ronda, today is going to be a hot one! SD

    Like

    • magwood says:

      Hi Sandra, thanks for your comment. What a beautiful place Ronda is. I must make a visit soon, it’s many years since I was,there.
      The forecast is telling me that the temperature will be climbing into the middle of next week, and it is already more than hot enough for me!

      Like

  11. Vicki says:

    I loved reading your blog and the details of your Camino walk. So fascinating and it answered many of my questions. I am retiring from my government job only to start another much too quickly but plan to decompress by walking the last two segments of the French way. I wish that I had the time and energy to do the entire walk. I was only planning on the last segment, but my husband felt that would not provide enough of the true experience for “us”. We should arrive in late Feb. 2015 and will give 16-18 days for Madrid, travel to starting point, walk to Santiago/end and travel back. I worry about freezing and rain. I know you have probably been asked a million times for advice – but anything that would help the journey, I am all ears! My husband is a professional photographer so we loved to see glimpses of the country side!

    Like

    • magwood says:

      It is impossible to know what weather you will have. But you are likely to have rain. Are you just walking for two days? Will you be staying in albergues or private accommodation? Will you be carrying backpacks? Take long johns and long sleeve merino base layer that you can wear under your walking clothes and/or to sleep in. Good rain gear, scarf and gloves. Of course you may have beautiful sunshine, during the day, but it will definitely be chilly at night. I’ve only walked in spring so can’t really advise on a winter walk, but look at my resource page – there are lots of links to really useful information. If you have any specific question please don’t hesitate to ask.
      Buen camino!

      Like

  12. Vicki says:

    Thanks for the info on the clothing, we are walking for 11 days with backpacks. Plan on hotels the entire way. Good rain gear is planned! We hope for wonderful early spring weather!

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    • magwood says:

      Buen camino Vicki. You won’t need to worry about sleeping gear or towels then, that I’ll leave a bit of room for a couple of luxuries! I hope the weather is kind to you. I love the spring.

      Like

  13. LeeRay says:

    Hi Magwood,
    Thanks for this wonderful blog and I hope your current camino is going well. I leave for Lisbon May 6 to walk the Camino Portugues. Can you tell me if most of the albergues have pillows and blankets? My friend and I are only planning on bringing silk sleep sacks and a blanket. Couldn’t find the one you listed, but got a warm, coolmax, travel blanket. I think we’ll be find until we get further north, into Spain. What do you think? And did you just sleep in your walking clothes? Thanks again. Bom Viagem! LeeRay

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  14. Aubrey Harding says:

    Hi Maggie,
    I am hiking Porto to Santiago beginning May 19 and was wondering if you think it is necessary to bring a sleeping bag? I am trying to bring as little as possible and was wondering at the hostels you stayed at if that would be a problem to only have a sheet? and should I bring a pillow or just pillowcase?

    Thanks for your blog and good luck with your travels!
    Aubrey

    Like

    • magwood says:

      Hi Aubrey, I would take a lightweight sleeping bag if you are planning to stay in albergues. Once you get over the border into Spain you will find that many of the albergues are housed in ancient stone buildings which do not easily warm up. I think you will find that municipal albergues in Galicia do not provide blankets although they do give out a disposable sheet and pillowcase. I would always err on the side of caution – I would rather carry a few extra grams than risk being cold at night. And yes, a pillowcase or sarong is an excellent idea.

      Like

  15. I have been re-reading your posts related to the Via de la Plata, and taking notes. Thanks for your diligent and detailed blogging! I might do some or all of the VdlP beginning on March 1. It is earlier than I’d prefer, but that is the only long period I have available in 2016 (except for July-August and then late October to November).
    – Clare

    Like

    • magwood says:

      You’re going back for more then Clare! I enjoyed reading your posts from the Camino Frances and will look forward to comparing your VdlP experience to mine. Mid-April for me on el Norte.
      Buen camino amiga!

      Like

  16. wpoerner says:

    Hi Maggie,

    Regarding your 2016 Camino, there are two links wihich might be helpful for the Camino del Mar:

    http://www.lugocamino.com/camino-del-mar
    http://es.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/view.do?id=2711329

    Good luck and always
    Buen Camino

    Waldemar

    Like

    • magwood says:

      Thank you so much Waldemar, I shall study the information. I had already discovered the lugocamino site which has some useful maps. I’s very glad to have your company on this journey.

      Like

  17. wpoerner says:

    This link covers all of the Camino del Mar on Wikiloc:

    http://es.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/view.do?id=3283494

    Best regards,

    Waldemar

    Like

  18. Vivien Bloor says:

    Thank you for your detailed and honest ‘ Tales from the Portuguese Camino’. I so enjoyed reading it all!
    We will be cycled the route (as much as possible) Lisbon to Santiago from 10th May this year….that’s next month!
    Looking forward to an unfolding journey.
    Viv (originally from Yorkshire but have for a long time lived in NZ)

    Like

    • magwood says:

      Hi Viv, many thanks for your comment. I’m sure you will enjoy the CP – not long now! I will already have started my camino by the time you set off. Best wishes for a bom caminho.

      Like

  19. Danielle says:

    Hi,
    I have started reading your blog on the Portuguese and just love it. You really are very expressive and your photos are excellent, I love the beautiful flowers. I will also leave from Lisbon in Sptember, and I am ondering about the weather at that time. I walked CF in 2014 alone and no problem, but it is more isolated from Lisbon, is it safe??

    Like

    • magwood says:

      Hi again Danielle. I felt safe on the CP. A bit of the road walking scary, particularly the stage from Porto to Vilarinho, but if you decide to walk the coastal option you will avoid this. You will also note that I was lucky in walking some of the industrial areas at the weekend, when there was very little traffic and a lot of walkers and cyclists using the paths/roads. I did it by chance, but if you can plan to walk these section when it is quiet at the weekend it would be good.

      I guess some of the woodland walks might seem a little intimidating on your own. You may find a walking partner. Have you seen the Facebook group “CAMIGAS ~ a buddy system for women on the camino”. I only came across it yesterday and haven’t really looked into it yet, but I think they have some sort of spreadsheet where you can see who is walking at a particular time. Might be useful! Be sure to carry a loud whistle which is hanging from your pack strap and always accessible in case you need to attract attention.
      Buen camino for September. Please feel free to ask any questions, I will be happy to help if I can.

      Like

      • Danielle says:

        Thanks Maggie for answering my question. It is my plan to walk to Coastal, unless the weather turns nasty. I do have a good wissel, hooked up to my shoulder strap, but never needed it on the CF, hopefully it will be th same. Another question, I also have an Iphone, but the cost os using it in Portugal would be quite expensive. In Spain I had bought a cheap phone with 200 minutes of service. Is this also available in Portugal?? I used it to book my next albergue and would like to do the same in the Fall. Thanks!
        Buen Camino,
        Danielle
        I will look into Camigas!

        Like

      • magwood says:

        Hi Danielle. Can you get your iPhone unlocked? Then you could buy a sim card in Portugal which would be a lot cheaper.

        Like

  20. Danielle says:

    Hi Maggie,

    I never thought about the Sim card, technology is not my forte but will look nto it! I started training today, did 8 km (in town walking), tomorrow 12 km up to 20 km by Monday. Looking forward to reading your new blog very soon!
    Buen Camino and thanks!

    Like

    • magwood says:

      Thanks Danielle. I hope the training is going well. My day of departure has arrived so new posts should be coming daily.

      Like

      • Danielle says:

        Thanks Maggie!
        Training is going well and now committed to doing the Portuguese Camino in September!!!
        So glad you are now starting, looking forward to reading your blogs again!
        Happy and Safe Camino!!!
        Danielle

        Like

  21. 0mnika says:

    Hello Maggie! Your journeys and adventures are delightful to read and so inspiring! I am an American living in Thailand and I am setting out in July to make my first pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela via the Camino Portuguese. I have allowed myself 22 days to make it from Lisbon to The Compostela and your blog has been the best step by step guide I have found online! If you have any pointers for a fool like me I would love to write with you. I’m sure you are busy with correspondence and your own writing along your pilgrimage- but if you have guidance to offer I would take your advice with much grattitude! Anyway, keep on keeping on, I think you are a fantastic strong woman! Buen Camino!

    Like

    • magwood says:

      Hello Omnika. Thanks for your comment and I am very pleased that my blog has been useful. I would think 22 days is pushing it a bit. I think 24 is the norm. If you are a strong walker perhaps you will be ok. I would stress that you need boots with a good sole and plenty of cushioning. Those cobble stones are very hard on the feet. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask.
      Happy planning and bom Caminho!

      Like

  22. Tony Pulle says:

    Hello Maggie
    I have been following all your blogs though not daily. My replies are always blocked by some mino requirement. I try to sign up again. hope it works this time.
    Tony

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  23. Tony Pulle says:

    Hello Maggie
    Success this time! I can only repeat what I have read from all your fans. The snake was a bit scary even though it was only a photo. Your photos fit the content of your text beautifully. I can feel that David is with you in spirit, all the way.Amazing stamina.
    Tony

    Like

  24. The Duchess says:

    Magwood – I’m delighted to have found you blog! I will be doing the del Norte by myself in June of 2017. I am nowhere near the walker you are, therefore I’m creating my own stages that don’t exceed 24 KLM (I throw in a 7 or 8 KLM day here and there for rest) and I’m allowing 50 days to complete my camino. I hope to utilize luggage delivery in the first week so I can get to Bilbao without falling. This adds to the budget but at this stage of the game I’d rather be comfortable. I’ve had ligament problems so I will wear knee braces for support. I’m reading every post you made on del Norte and I will receive the Cicerone book in a few days.
    Keep on walking, (and blogging!) I may stay one camino behind you just for the good advice.
    Oh yes, your photos of flowers and raindrops are spectacular!

    Like

  25. Dom Gardiner says:

    Hi Maggie Ive really been enjoying your blog , you are so brave ! My husband and I are walking the Camino Norte in April next year . Unfortunately for a variety of reasons we are only walking for two weeks so we’ll have to bus or train some of it. Can you recommend which bits to walk and which to travel on wheels ? We have walked parts of the Camino Frances in 2014 and the Camino Portuguese in 2015 and are totally addicted …

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    • magwood says:

      Hello Dom, so sorry for a late response. I would opt to walk the stages that are directly along the coast and take the Feve in between. Also perhaps plan for stops in the major cities along the way and sample the fabulous food that is on offer. There is quite a lot of road walking and I could have happily missed a few of those stages. Santillana del Mar is a very special place (ideally out of high tourist season) and the walk from San Vicente de la Barquera to Pendueles was a very special day.
      Buen camino!

      Like

  26. Sabine says:

    Hi Mag, I am starting the 6th of March flying into Bilbao and then the 7th of March plan to travel to Irun and walk the coastpath. What is your experience with clothes in that time of year – is it very cold? At the moment I live iN Heidelberg. I would love to ask some more questions. Thank you!

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    • magwood says:

      Hi Sabine. Last year I set off from Irun the last week of April. There was a real mixed bunch of weather and luckily not too much rain. At the beginning of March it will be a lot cooler in the evenings and darker in the mornings until the clocks change at the end of the month. I live in the south of Spain, so the temperatures are usually a lot warmer, but even here it is cold at night in March. Be sure to have a warm sleeping bag and lots of layers so you can wear all your clothes at the same time if necessary and then peel them off one by one and the day warms up.
      I am happy to answer any questions you may have.
      Enjoy your planning

      Like

  27. Brendan Bolton says:

    Hi Maggie,

    My name is Brendan Bolton and I am the owner of the Project Camino podcast, which will be launching early next month.

    Do you have an email address that I can send some information to?

    Many thanks,

    Brendan Bolton

    Owner- Project Camino.

    Like

  28. litespeedles says:

    Hi Maggie, I am doing a Camino for the first time this year and am starting in Arles and then from Oloron Sainte Marie, swapping over to the del Norte. I have set up a WordPress blog site, and I like the format of yours. Would you be able to share the template you use? Cheers, Les.

    Like

    • magwood says:

      Hi Les, sorry for the delay in replying. I am using the “twenty ten” wordpress theme and have edited the layout of pages to my own design. I spent a long time organising the layout so as to make it easily navigable to users.

      Good luck with your blog and buen camino!

      Like

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