The No Plan Plan turns one!

I am sitting here is a little apartment in Brighton’s core, with sea air weaving its way from the window and seagulls chanting their last evening tune. It’s now been exactly one year since I embarked on this journey, so how about a wander back to some of my favourite moments of the past 12 months!

As always, it’s great to have you here!

DSCF2226

Can you believe it?! A year now since my last “Real Monday“!

 

DSCF2385

And so we were off, all 75L of us plus one monkey…

 

DSCF2406

Reuniting with a dear friend on the Gili Islands in Indonesia.

DSCF3902

Immensely enjoyed this luscious country.

 

DSCF3932

Flooded rice fields in the area of Ubud.

 

DSCF3990

An early hike around Ubud, where daily life seems to agreeably intertwine with heavy tourism.

 

DSCF4084

Endless rice paddies.

 

DSCF4091

 

DSCF3746

Such a colourful and artistic place. No wonder so many hippies flood in!

 

DSCF3869

My first attempt at batik painting got me hooked. What a gorgeous way to dress fabric!

 

DSCF3920

Loved meeting the local artisans, discussing techniques and specialities of the region.

 

DSCF4067

I can scarcely imagine a better setting for an art studio… Christine Hingston made this a reality.

 

DSCF4074

 

And then, off to Spain…

image

Undeniably the pinnacle of this year was my 800km hike across Spain. The Camino de Compostela was the most intense and rewarding 6 weeks of my life. As 4 of the 6 weeks were spent walking an average of 20km a day in the Spanish summer, it was also the most exhausting experience ever.

 

image

With less than 8kg on my back, the feeling of freedom was amazing.

 

image

The seashell – a Pilgrim’s symbol adorned by almost all of the Caminadores.

 

image

As if we needed to get hooked, the first day was one of the most beautiful : traversing the Pyrenees.

 

image

…which was no challenge for this crazy guy! Dan was an amazing walking partner for half of the journey, especially on those first few days where my knees said no more.

 

image

Walking shoes, a few necessary items, food, coffee, shower, a road ahead of us. Simplicity at its best. I never had a clear answer “why” I set off on this journey (except that my second camino partner and close friend Mel suggested we do it 6 months before), but I can say with confidence that I would do it again in an instant.

 

image

Making new friends at every corner.

 

image

Every day was different. Every morning special.

 

image

Part of the routine was the customary morning Cafe con leche.

 

image

We only had to worry about checking where the next yellow arrow would point. A great way to travel.

 

image

The heat of the Spanish August sun was at times unbearable. If you were left stranded on the Camino past 3 or 4 pm, time of the highest temperatures, you could be in great trouble.

 

image

The gorgeous villages we passed reminded us of the ancient history of this pilgrimage.

 

image

 

image

image

Breathtaking views.

 

image

This is not an urban legend – there is a wine fountain on the Camino and the wine was great!

 

image

Early-morning shadow fun.

 

image

 

image

The endless roads, open spaces and the echo of our footsteps…

 

image

 

image

Hiking is a passion of mine, but the Camino challenged and surprised me more than any route I’ve ever undertaken. The terrain varied immensely every day.

 

image

Hardships were interrupted by all these little splashes of love!

 

image

 

image

 

image

 

image

Some still do it on horseback, although this man was a local.

 

image

Gorgeous fields of vineyards. Every time I have a wine from that region, I smile a little… “we walked those fields”…

 

image

The arid land at times turned into luscious greenery. The white and red sign also symbolised the Camino way.

 

The landscape changes almost daily. It's such a pleasure to walk from one gorgeous scene to another.
The landscape changed almost daily.

image

And then it was time to say goodbye to Dan and say hello to Mel, who walked the second half of the long journey with me. She was in fact the instigator of it all! We get along so well partly because we appreciate each other’s craziness!

Mel’s here! Yuppi!

image

Oh, how much fun we had!

 

image

The rocky ground now resounded with the two amiga’s footsteps.

 

image

Incredibly, Mel managed to pack less than 7kg for the journey. A real hardcore lady!

 

image

And so the beautiful walk continued.

 

image

We walked forever and got to a ghost town with the worst albergue we had seen so far... And no one there... We decided to walk on, painfully, to the next town and got caught in a thunder storm. But it was all worthwhile in the end.
We walked forever that dat and got to a ghost town with the worst “albergue” (pilgrim’s hostel) we had seen so far… And no one there… We decided to walk on, painfully so, to the next town and got caught in a thunder storm. Some days, it was a real challenge.

image

 

image

Splendid and cool mornings would turn into hot and adventure-filled days.

 

Mel's photo. Early morning.
Early morning.

image

Seeing the sun rise every day for almost 6 weeks!

 

image

 

image

 

image

 

image

 

image

 

image

Seeing endless stretches of land helped us stay tuned to the moment.

 

image

 

image

And of course, for any animal lovers, there was no shortage of furs and feathers on the way.

 

image

 

image

 

image

Solemn moments.

image

Nature, in all her splendour, reminded me each day what I wanted… and reconfirmed how my “office” would have to resemble this!

 

image

“Look, Listen, Love, Dream, Smile”

 

image

We had suffered quite a lot. The Camino is not an easy path. Many stop and quit, many more do it in stages only. But to walk on, for hundreds of kilometres, despite the blisters, the aches, the cold, the heat, the rain, the burning in the legs… what a rewarding and amazing feeling. Sharing it with a soul-sister: an even greater one…

 

image

 

image

 

image

And we made it! Stopping the walk was by far the most difficult part of the journey. Surprisingly, the body, mind and soul wanted to continue…

 

image

Our last step of the Camino…

 

Our certificates!
The certificate!

 

image

After getting rid of our hiking clothes as is the ritual once the Camino is completed, we headed (by bus this time!) to Finisterre… “the end of the world” and to a fresh new beginning.

 

A little windy you say?!
A little windy you say?!

image

 

image

People leave something of themselves in this special place. We tied our scarves together and watched them flow in the cool coastal air.

Every single part of that journey felt like a gift. Every little rock under our sore feet was later missed. But I am so grateful I got to experience such an adventure which will never be forgotten.

 

It felt incredible to see our old scarves, intertwined, battling the wind as we walked away to what felt like a new beginning, truly enjoying each and  every step.
It felt incredible to see our old scarves, intertwined, battling the wind as we walked away to what felt like a new beginning, truly enjoying each and every step. 

 

Bavaria, Germany…

image

After a badly-needed rest in London, I was off to Bavaria to learn about wood art, carpentry and to soak up the beauty of the Allgau region.

 

How great to have international friends!
Another reunion with a dear friend!
This was the smallest beer I could get at the local "beer house". In front of me, a mushroom strew with a potato dumpling.
This was the smallest beer I could get at the local “beer house”. In front of me, a mushroom strew with a potato dumpling. mmmmm

image

This was also the beginning of my “Art Month” – a great way to challenge myself to create on a daily basis.

 

Burned wood. Basically you burn the image on with a hot metal thingy (that's a technical term of course...)
Burned wood. Basically you burn the image on with a hot metal thingy (that’s a technical term of course…)

image

Lens meets light, meets cat, meets shadow…

 

image

Constance lake in late evening.

 

image

This time, the sunsets were on display for me. Here is Petersthal, the little town I called home for a month.

 

image

Connecting with the locals.

 

image

More wood-burning experiments.

 

Quite rudimentary but it does the trick!
Quite rudimentary but it does the trick!

image

Gorgeous and crazy weather on display.

 

image

A quick drive and we were in Austria.

 

image

It just made me want to jump in! Bavaria was a beautiful way to internalise the experience of the Camino and what it had meant for me. Delving daily in a new art project was equally wonderful and inspiring.

 

image

 

image

Did I mention that I love cows?!

 

image

 

image

No shortage of hiking opportunities. here

 

image

Au revoir Germany!

 

Ce n'est qu'un Au Revoir Petersthal!

Petersthal – hope to be back someday!

 

Back in London…

DSCF8067

Another quick stop back in London before Christmas and then off again... this time to India.

 

 

image

Delhi, just like India, is as varied as it is colourful. From Delhi to Darjeeling, Agra to Dharamsala and all the way down to Kerala. An epic trip we are not about to forget… and not always for the right reasons! Our first two weeks were spent in the capital, where we stayed with our lovely friends. The intensity of participating in various projects in this sizzling city was offset by these two and their lovely daughter. It just reminds me, how precious it is to have friends in so many places, but how difficult it is to not be able to see them on a more regular basis.

 

imageIn hindsight, it may not have been the wisest idea to start off our Indian venture with two of the most emotionally draining weeks of our lives. But I would not change a thing and am grateful for the time we had with local families.

 

Darjeeling…

Darjeeling is perched up high in the mountains with a lovely view of the Himalayas on a clear day
Darjeeling is perched up high in the mountains with a lovely view of the Himalayas on a clear day
The farm is ideally located, overlooking Sikkim to the right and Nepal to the left.
Near Darjeeling, we stayed at a lovely family-owned guesthouse overlooking Sikkim to the right and Nepal to the left.

image

 

The Taj Mahal – as majestic as its home city, Agra, is decrepit. Again – so many contrasts.

 

The view from McLoud Ganj, close to where the Tushita centre is located.
The view from McLoud Ganj, close to where the Tushita centre where we joined a Buddhism course and meditation retreat.
There is a very strong Tibetan presence in these hills. Monks and nuns can be seen everywhere as well.
There is a very strong Tibetan presence in these hills. Monks and nuns can be seen everywhere as well.

 

And then we were off, on the longest train raide since my trans-siberian adventure, from Dharamsala all the way down to Kerala, at the southern tip of India.

The country rolling by ...
The country rolling by …

 

Kerala – a state we enjoyed quite a lot. A perfectly calm (er) way to end the two month trip.

The beach, where locals bathe fully-clothed while tourists bake in their bikinis and speedos.
The beach, where locals bathe fully-clothed while tourists bake in their bikinis and speedos.
Oh hello you!
Oh hello you!
Gorgeous sunsets in Varkala
Gorgeous sunsets in Varkala
Luscious vegetation and smoke from burning garbage, a morning routine for the locals.
Luscious vegetation and smoke from burning garbage, a morning routine for the locals.
The perfect way to spend an afternoon...
The perfect way to spend an afternoon…
My workstation while "work awaying" in Varkala
My workstation while “work awaying” in Varkala (we worked in exchange of food and room! Cheaper way to travel).
Crab for 3 pounds? Oui Monsieur!
Crab for 3 pounds? Oui Monsieur!
Caught mid-flight
Caught mid-flight
A national symbol, the peacock can be seen all over.
A national symbol, the peafowl can be seen all over.

 

The Kochin area…

Best seat in the house!
Best seat in the house! On a houseboat for the night.

The end of the trip was as calm as the beginning was intense.

We returned home to the spring and to a very new adventure… one where we would focus on creating our ideal “9 to 5s”….

But not before a recharging of hometown love in Canada!

With the support of Dan, our families and dear friends, I can say that this new chapter is getting increasingly exciting. A studio awaits each day to hear the newest scratchings of my pencil, we are at a stone’s throw from the sea in Brighton as we have wanted for so long and we continue to try and live simply while enjoying the moment.

Thank you for joining the adventure and most definitely stay tuned for more madness to come!

Immersing ourselves in a summer of sun and creativity.
Immersing ourselves in a summer of sun and creativity in historic Brighton.

 

 

Advertisements

Published by

Madnessasmantra

Hi! Thanks for visiting! Hope that you enjoy the blog! For more photos and art, or to purchase prints, please visit me on www.iamni.com

5 thoughts on “The No Plan Plan turns one!”

  1. …and pressed post too soon! Absolutely loved your experience of the camino trail, now on my wanderlust list. And excited to see you are a work-away-er, I’ve just signed up and hoping to make this a way of taking a sabbatical in central and South America. Thanks for sharing, feel inspired!

    1. Thanks Stephanie!
      The plan is to continue the no plan plan, until another plan pans out. Planning such a plan is an art in itself. In fact, the no plan plan could be the biggest planned venture of my life 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s