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Camino Downunder Workshop ~ Sydney

At the end of this week (Jan 31) I am heading off to Sydney for a workshop (short course) on Walking the Camino de Santiago run by husband and wife team, Marc and Yvonne Grossman. The course is held in down town Sydney close to Darling Harbour. It’s a hard life. But as they say, someone’s got to do it! I will spend the Saturday, beginning at 9am and closing at 5pm, covering all aspects of the pilgrimage, including: maps, guide books, discussing the gear necessary for a successful trip and anything and everything that relates to the Camino that you can possibly fit in one day!

As part of the course, I will receive a copy of the ‘Camino Guidebook‘ (5th edition and revised for 2012-13 ISBN 978-0-646-51466-6). I will also be able to purchase 30 all-weather maps (Camino de Santiago: 30 all-weather walking maps ISBN 978-0-646-52975-2), which we will be using in the workshop for practice and research. I will also receive as part of the package, paper elevation maps which will be used as part of the training and learning, plus something I’m a little excited about, the Camino Downunder cloth badge, that I will be able to sew to my backpack.

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Photo Credit: Camino Downunder

The participants will also be using for ‘geographical training‘ the brand new, innovative and bold overview maps (2.3 metres long – the long version) – which are oriented direction-up or forward up – replicating the anatomical way every person walks and which is in portrait design, not landscape. After crossing the Pyrenees, these wall maps go in a constant westerly direction all the way to the Atlantic coast.

It is promised that we, as participants, will not come away from the course without a ‘tsunami’ quantity of information, insights, knowledge and skills to assist us in our great enterprise of being joyous and successful pilgrim/walkers. The team promises that whatever is, or are my motivations, their workshop will be a watershed.

I’m excited about attending this course and meeting the other like-minded participants and educators. I am hungry and thirsty for their knowledge and hearing of their experiences. I have huge expectations of what I will receive out of this latest adventure.

Another bonus to the course is just one street and one block away (Kent Street) live all the recommended outdoors stores mentioned in the Camino Guidebook for Sydney. No doubt during my short stay in Sydney I will find some time to visit these outlets. It will be interesting to see what Sydney stores have compared to the Brisbane outlets I have visited.

As preparation for the course, the participants were given some homework to do. We were asked to bring along our written lists of the following:

1.

  • i.   Your concerns and/or anxieties;
  • ii.  Questions, including confusing and /or contradictory information gleamed from the internet sites;
  • iii. Unresolved issues about walking the Camino de Santiago as an independent pilgrim/walker. They assure me that no question or issue raised by anyone is ever unimportant or treated offhandedly.

2.

  • Write down your list of all your gear (i.e: walking clothes you will be wearing and clothes carried in your backpack) including your footwear; hat wear and clothing accessories. AND VERY IMPORTANTLY, THE QUANTUM (i.e: how many items of underwear, pairs of socks, etc, etc

3.

  • Write down your list of non walking gear (e.g. a torch, first aid kit items, guide-book/map and communication devices; i.e. mobile phone, etc, etc)

4.

         A Reflective & Philosophical Meditation Task:

  • i. Whilst you are undertaking the Camino de Santiago, what do you think your ‘core business’ should be? Hint: before answering this question, you will need to clearly separate in your mind and on paper ‘core business’ from ‘non-core business’. I strongly encourage you to put in writing this fundamental question.

I have completed these four tasks in readiness for my travels to Sydney. It took some time and research, but I think I got there in the end. It will be interesting for me to find out just what I need (suggested) to take and what I don’t need. I think I will add a page to my blog regarding my packing process. Then after my course I can add to it or delete unnecessary items and make adjustments.

Below, if anyone is interested, I have included the link to Camino Downunder’s website:

http://www.caminodownunder.com

Until next time…

Buen Camino

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The Way of Saint James in Video

There are many videos of the Camino on Youtube that give an overall picture of what to expect when walking the Camino de Compostela. Here are a couple of samples to give you a taste:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DluzZdK6yAk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3MlI3bVa1I

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EOMMl33Ot5Q

Enjoy!

Buen Camino

Camino Downunder Class & Workshop ~ Camino de Santiago

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Photo credit: Holiness
The yellow markers show this pilgrim’s intended way…

At the end of January, I head down to Sydney to attend ‘Camino Downunder’s’ Class and Workshop on the Camino de Santiago route from Saint Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela. The workshop will be held on Saturday, 2 February, 2013 in Clarence St, Sydney, right near Darling Harbour and the Rocks area.

I will be very excited to meet others who are intending to do this walk in the future and hear from experienced trekkers about what to expect, have my questions answered, and hear answers to questions I never thought to ask.

I feel very reassured to attend a workshop of this nature, especially if I do, in the end, walk solo. I am hoping the workshop gives me the confidence and accurate information to help make my walk every bit successful that I am praying for.

Camino Downunder, run by husband and wife team, Marc and Yvonne Grossman, experienced trekkers themselves, have walked the Camino several times. Below is a link to their blog and website to check them out for yourself.

Blog:   http://caminodownunder.wordpress.com

Website:   http://www.caminodownunder.com

To prepare for this workshop they have given me some homework to do in the mean time. The homework covers four main areas that include me thinking about:

1. a) Any concerns and/or anxieties I might be having.

    b) Creating a list of questions, including confusing and/or contradictory information gleamed from internet sites.

    c) Creating a list of any unresolved issues about walking the Camino de Santiago.

2. Creating a list of all the gear I am intending to take, especially the quantities.

3. Creating a list of all the non-walking gear I am planning to take.

4. And finally, my reflective & philosophical meditation task – detailing my ‘core business’ – in other words, why I want to do this pilgrimage.

I will make sure I do this homework very thoughtfully to get the best out of the workshop.

Right near the venue are some recommended outdoor stores which will be fun to look through and perhaps, buy any requirements needed. The quantity of clothing and the weight carried in the back pack will help decide what needs to be purchased. There are many aspects of this adventure that will require a great deal of attention and valuable information heeded to make it a successful journey. Being weighed down with too much gear is not an option conducive to a comfortable hike.

There is a lot of information out there on the internet and many people have valuable knowledge and experience to share. But it is up to me to decipher everything and glean what will work for me. It is all a necessary part of the process of preparation.

When it is all said and done…it is wise to listen to people who have a wealth of knowledge and experience, but in the end, it is up to me to prepare in a safe and well thought out manner. I am more than happy to follow the advice of those who have gone before. Why invent the wheel? Of course there are lots of choices out there regarding particular brand names and variances in equipment and that’s when the real fun can start.

The photo below sums up everything regarding this walk for me.

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Photo credit: Pinrest.com

Stuff Happens – A Minor Set Back

For about ten days before my long walk to South Bank, I’d been experiencing intermittent pain under the arch in the heel area of my right foot. While I mostly tolerated the pain that radiated from my heel for most of my 37 km walk, the last few kilometres were quite excruciating to be honest. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of the walk and I realised that whatever was happening in my foot was totally aggravated from the long haul. Lucky for me I am only in training and it’s the perfect time to have a break down if you really must have one.

By Sunday morning I could barely walk on that foot. I’d arranged to meet a girlfriend to go and check out the large outdoor outlets located at Fortitude Valley. I put on a brave front and drove into the city after collecting her. We got there early and found a park. No shops were open by then so we regarded the time as perfect to grab a coffee before hitting the stores.

I had hoped to buy a pair of new hiking boots. After all my research, I knew the boots I wanted and had been quite excited, however, both my feet were really swollen and the pain in my right heel would not abate. It really put a dampener on the trip for me. I could only manage hobbling around in my comfy thongs for padding. Earlier that morning I couldn’t put my foot down on the floor boards or tiles at home. I needed cushioning.

I’d been on the Internet to Google ‘pain in heels’ and suspected that I was suffering from Plantar Faseiitis, but I wasn’t certain. From the description, it certainly seemed like it might be that.

I booked an appointment with a local Sports Podiatrist and had to wait until the following Wednesday. In the meantime I had a rest from walking on the Sunday, but did two 7 km walks on Monday and Tuesday. My feet were still rather swollen, but I managed the walks at a slower pace and in some pain.

On the Wednesday I made an executive decision not to get an early walk in before visiting the Podiatrist, but to wait and see what the diagnosis of my foot was. As suspected, I was diagnosed with Plantar Faseiitis. At least now I knew what I was dealing with. Next was to develop a management plan.

My podiatrist, Will, was most understanding of the goals I had set in order to attain my main goal of walking in Spain. As I feared, he asked me to take ten days off walking, which to be honest would drive me nuts. I tried to negotiate with him, but he remained adamant.

So, how does one treat Plantar Faseiitis?

After a thorough diagnostic look at the way I walk and the condition of the muscles around my foot and calves, it was discovered that my calf muscles were really super tight. I never stretch; a big no, no apparently. I didn’t realise how important stretching is to walkers as much as any other sport. In my head I tell myself it is only a walk. Walking is not too hard to do, is it? But apparently, and I have recently learnt this: walkers and joggers are prone to constriction of muscles, making everything tight. Go figure…I learn something every day.

  • So, Will gave me some beaut stretches to do to help tame my calf muscles.
  • A friend of mine who was a high level gymnast had mentioned to me to use a rolling pin to roll my arch to help iron out the tightness in the muscles under my arch, but Will went one better, asking me to freeze a couple of small water bottles and use these in the same method as the rolling pin.
  • After close examination of my poor old Nikes, Will suggested I invest in a more appropriate joggers to assist my feet with superior support. I was keen for new joggers, so I didn’t protest.
  • Rest for 10 days – no walking…but Will said I could ‘smash up’ on the exercise bike to keep my cardio on target. After the ten days, he told me, I could recommence my walking (between 3-4 kms every other day).
  • ICE my foot.
  • Voltaren Gel – applied to my foot and wrapped in Glad Wrap in the evenings to trap the alcohol in the liniment.

I felt sure I could manage all this and probably more. I do have to be careful because Will said this condition can sometimes hang around for a couple of years! I was horrified to hear this, so it made me determined to follow Will’s expert advice.

My Progress:

Day 8 – update

I have been working out every day on the exercise bike doing 20 kms as well as stretching, weights, sit ups and women’s push ups. I am serious about getting my fitness levels up and running and every day I feel I’m gaining strength and feeling great. The first few days I pined for my daily walk but I’m happy with the way my exercise regime is going for the moment. I only have till Saturday to go and then I can do my first walk.

I’d like to introduce you to my one of my new joggers:

New joggers

ASICS Nimbus 14

ASICS Nimbus 14 gel

I think it is going to be sweet wearing these babies. They are so light and supportive. Can’t wait to give them a whirl.

I’m also watching what I eat. I’ve cut out sugar completely and I am alcohol free while trying to shift some kilograms.

So, all in all, I am viewing this set back through positive eyes. What I feared the most (needing to rest the walking) happened, but from that, it forced me to try new ways to work on my fitness levels. Ways I probably, in all honesty, wouldn’t have bothered giving a go.

I am happy and looking forward to visiting with Will next Wednesday for his report on my progress. I think Will is excited for me about my walk through Spain and is happy to be part of my team. I’d also like to thank my mates (you know who you are) for giving me tips from rolling pins, advice from a scientific viewpoint and tips on the best way to do weights, push ups and sit ups.

I’m excited.

So, until next time…

Buen Camino

A Long Walk to South Bank

A Long Walk to South Bank.

A Long Walk to South Bank

Saturday was quite overcast, yet when the sun peeked out from behind the clouds, it became very sunny and hot, real melting ice cream kind of hot. A perfect day for a long walk. I walk most days ranging from between 6-12km, depending on time constraints and I usually walk a circuit near my home, but today I decided that I would begin training for the longer walks that will be necessary when walking in Spain.

I packed a small back pack and weighed it. I need this information as part of the training process to help increase the weight over time and in a sensible manner, so that I can comfortably reach the target of approximately 10 percent of my body weight, which is the most I need to carry when walking long distance, over time, in Spain. My back pack and contents for yesterday weighed 3.2 kilograms. A nice starting point, I think.

For my first long walk, other than some of the hiking I do with family, I decided to start from my home in Chandler and walk to South Bank, Brisbane. South Bank is one of my favourite places to visit and spend time. It is the old Expo site and over the years, has developed into an amazing place to enjoy all levels of dining, ranging from cafe type food to fine dining. You will also find the odd ice cream cart parked along the pathways for some further indulgence. There are many bars and grills, and other stores to browse in. Lots of interesting boutique style shops and of course many coffee houses. The dining is mostly alfresco where you can sit and enjoy people watching, taking in life along the river, the action, bizarre and wonderful buskers for entertainment and many other sights, too numerous to mention. Some days you will discover the markets operating with all their wares, services and trinkets. Of course it is also famous for its man-made ‘Kodak Beach’ and swimming places. It is also home to the Conservatorium of Music, the Piazza, and QPAC (where I work part time during the evenings as an Usher or performing Complex Duties). There is always something to see and do at South Bank.

Knowing how much I enjoy South Bank and what it has to offer, what better place to walk to for my first long walk, knowing that I could spend a couple of hours chilling, before making the return trip. I’ve never walked to South Bank before and thought it would be interesting to see the trip from a different perspective, other than sitting in a car.

So, with back pack packed with all the things I thought I’d need along the way and for when I arrived, I headed off on my trek. My phone was fully charged, my Map My Walk  app engaged and recording my stats and progress and my music blaring through my headphones, I was ready to roll.

I live on a major arterial road and so the trickiest part of the walk was getting past some places that aren’t designed for walkers, namely: walking close to oncoming traffic due to the large storm water drains, crossing connecting roads to the Gateway Arterial, where no provision has been made for walkers and again, walking close to oncoming traffic where I guess the road makers thought no one would ever want to walk here. They should know that someone, one day, will want to walk there. And as an additional point, there were no signs telling me I can’t walk there. Anyway, once I cleared all that it was plain sailing.

The walk from Chandler to South Bank totals 16.5 km the way I decided to go. It was mostly flat with some levels rising and some undulating hills in places, so it made the walk interesting and added to my heart rate in places. As I topped the hill coming into the suburb of Coorpooroo, I enjoyed seeing the city off into the distance. This was encouraging as this was near my destination.Image

Further along I noticed this avenue of trees. I have driven past them countless times, but today I saw them through fresh eyes.

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I also noticed this avenue of trees along the way.

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And this canal, that I would never know existed when driving past in my car. You might ask here if it matters that I didn’t know it existed? Probably not, but it is interesting to find hidden things.

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As I headed more toward the city along Vulture Street, I was finally able to take a close up photo of a house that I’ve always admired when driving past. Being so close I could admire closely and actually appreciate what gives it such street appeal. This house is immaculate and surprisingly, there is a lot of land attached to it; quite a bonus for the inner city area of Woolloongabba.

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Getting closer to my destination, I took this photo of the M1, the major road that leads to our beautiful city of Brisbane. I like this shot as I feel like I was peeking in on something.

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Just over this incline ahead, would see me on the brink of my destination. These photos clearly show a very grey day, yet it was still balmy, especially for walkers and cyclists. I passed a number of cyclists out pedalling and enjoying what the day offered.

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Some people are just plain creative when it comes to brightening up our city. I passed a number of these little creations (pictured below) that add lovely bright spots to the streets. Anyone can apply to create a design and jazz up what would normally be dull communication covers. How much more entertaining is it to see bright and happy art work instead? Thank you to all the creative folks out there. We salute you.

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These statues (pictured below) caught my eye at the entrance to some units next to the Mater Private Hospital. There were more than what I captured here in this photo. They were spaced out right across the front of the property. I’m still considering if they ‘work’ with this style of building?

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The next couple of photos are quite significant to me. They are of the work being done on the Mater Children’s Hospital. I mentioned in a previous blog entry about the possibility of raising some money for the children of our city while I walk the Camino and I have discovered that I have a heart for the Mater Children’s. They do such awesome work, as anyone does when involved with saving children’s lives. Our children are so precious and are the life blood of a city, town or country. I hear many stories of sick children, premature babies, and a multitude of other heartbreaking incidents that touches me on too regular a basis. How can I help? One day I’d love to be a part of the ‘Cuddle Mum’ program, but another practical way is to pay it forward and try to raise some money for a very worthy cause and invest in my city. It would be wonderful to think that any encouraging supporters out there, might like to work with me here and maybe support in a practical way while I do the walk. Everyday, there are nurses, doctors, specialists and support staff who perform miracles with very sick children, and unfortunately for some families the outcome for their child may not have a happy ending. I would somehow like to make a difference and contribute to the work these amazing people perform in our own backyard. At some point in our lives, we will need the help of these professionals for our own families and whilst my own family has always been supporters and made regular donations, I still want to do more. I believe in children and want to help make their future brighter and I’m sure there are others who would like to do so too. I have to speak with people who have the knowledge to help me with this side of things, but I am positive that I can organise something. So, watch this space, especially if you would like to reach out to the beautiful children of our city.

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Well, I made it! Here I am at the entrance to South Bank at Little Dock Road. For some reason I quite like Little Dock Road. It is a cute little street that leads to a beautiful area of Brisbane. Look at the perfect sky now!

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I took the photo below peeking through a beautiful Poinciana tree. Brisbane has some mighty fine specimens that look spectacular. Other favourite trees of mine that I see around Brisbane, include: the Jacarandas in all their purple flurry, the variety of Frangipanis (whites and pinks) and the massive historical Moreton Bay Figs.

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Below is one of the entrances to South Bank. I totally enjoyed my walk here and was ready to enjoy whatever South Bank offered today. It’s trademark Bougainvillaea are just ahead.

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The photos below show people enjoying all that South Bank has to offer. How blessed to enjoy a day down here?

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I spent some time cruising around enjoying the sights. I had to wait a little while for my appetite to arrive. The walk, it seemed suppressed my need for food, however, in time, it arrived. I enjoyed a whole bottle of cooled water and then I practiced what I hope and know will become part of the adventure whilst in Spain. I found a favourite restaurant of mine, Kapsalis and ordered a lovely Greek salad with two lamb souvlaka kebabs (okay, plenty of time for Spanish cuisine when I go to Spain – I’m practicing the experience here) and a nice cold Crown Lager. As I’m on holidays and ‘beach’ time, it was my small indulgence.

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After lunch, I wandered over to some lovely grassed area near a children’s playground. I could see all the action on the river and enjoyed the sights. I laid out my towel and read my book for about an hour or so and then it was time to do the walk all over again. I packed up my things and headed for home.

The funny thing is, I outlasted my iPhone 5’s battery. It died on me at Woolloongabba. The rest of the trip was music-less and my Map My Walk App-kaput! However, I still had my watch and I already knew how far I’d walked getting to South Bank. My distance and times for the day were: 33 km in 5 hours plus a further 4 km un-timed. Total kilometres walked was 37km. I’m happy with that being my first long walk in training. Remember, this is a journey, not a race. I merely time myself as part of the training process and out of interest. It will allow me to learn about my walking patterns, general times and will help me calculate how long it will take me to walk certain distances between villages along the route in Spain. My biggest challenge that I can see will be walking through the Pyrenees at altitude. I’m so excited!

If you’ve read down to here, thank you for your time. I hope you enjoyed my little adventure.

So, until next time…

Buen Camino

Take off in Spanish


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Hola friends…

As well as setting up this new blog on the 1 January, I began to explore a CD package: ‘The complete language-learning kit, which one of my lovely daughters kindly leant to me (thanks babe) for the purpose of learning my new language. I listened to the first CD (one of a series of six) to get familiar with the way they tackle the process and what will be expected of me, as the student. I will endeavour to practice every day (well at least most days, considering how everyday life has a way of interrupting – positively, that is).

I have also been exploring Teaching 123 http://www.123teachme.com a free website that I’ve found useful. Some other useful websites that were kindly shared with me by a teaching colleague (thanks, Mary) include: mansionspanish lessons (http://www.mansionspanish.com), BBC Spanish MI VIDA LOCA (http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/spanish/mividaloca/) and spanishspanish.com (http://spanishspanish.com). Also, YouTube – destinos – An Introduction to Spanish (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CKUTRjw098g) prove entertaining as well as helpful. I haven’t explored all of these sites yet, but over time, I will gradually work my way through them.

A few people that I work with have volunteered to speak conversationally with me once I get started, so that should prove helpful. Hopefully it won’t be too hard to pick up once I get the basics…getting the basics may prove the challenging part, or maybe it will be retaining all the information in my head that might prove more challenging. Have faith, Deb! I’ll update occasionally on my progress over time.

Because I will be travelling throughout France and starting my pilgrimage from St Jean Pied de Port, the French side of the Pyrenees Mountains, I hope to be able to learn some conversational French as well. Oh my goodness…really! Have faith in yourself, Deb. Be realistic, but have faith! Okay…she thinks, smiling wryly…okay…I can do this….

I have approximately 17 months to learn two languages, loose weight, get fit, find all my necessary equipment, book flights, accommodation and learn as much as I can before I board the plane bound for Spain. That should be plenty of time…yes, it will be plenty of time…

Buen Camino

Deb

 

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