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!
Can you believe it?! A year now since my last “Real Monday“!
And so we were off, all 75L of us plus one monkey…
Reuniting with a dear friend on the Gili Islands in Indonesia.
Immensely enjoyed this luscious country.
Flooded rice fields in the area of Ubud.
An early hike around Ubud, where daily life seems to agreeably intertwine with heavy tourism.
Endless rice paddies.
Such a colourful and artistic place. No wonder so many hippies flood in!
My first attempt at batik painting got me hooked. What a gorgeous way to dress fabric!
Loved meeting the local artisans, discussing techniques and specialities of the region.
I can scarcely imagine a better setting for an art studio… Christine Hingston made this a reality.
And then, off to Spain…
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.
With less than 8kg on my back, the feeling of freedom was amazing.
The seashell – a Pilgrim’s symbol adorned by almost all of the Caminadores.
As if we needed to get hooked, the first day was one of the most beautiful : traversing the Pyrenees.
…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.
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.
Making new friends at every corner.
Every day was different. Every morning special.
Part of the routine was the customary morning Cafe con leche.
We only had to worry about checking where the next yellow arrow would point. A great way to travel.
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.
The gorgeous villages we passed reminded us of the ancient history of this pilgrimage.
This is not an urban legend – there is a wine fountain on the Camino and the wine was great!
Early-morning shadow fun.
The endless roads, open spaces and the echo of our footsteps…
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.
Hardships were interrupted by all these little splashes of love!
Some still do it on horseback, although this man was a local.
Gorgeous fields of vineyards. Every time I have a wine from that region, I smile a little… “we walked those fields”…
The arid land at times turned into luscious greenery. The white and red sign also symbolised the Camino way.
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!
Oh, how much fun we had!
The rocky ground now resounded with the two amiga’s footsteps.
Incredibly, Mel managed to pack less than 7kg for the journey. A real hardcore lady!
And so the beautiful walk continued.
Splendid and cool mornings would turn into hot and adventure-filled days.
Seeing the sun rise every day for almost 6 weeks!
Seeing endless stretches of land helped us stay tuned to the moment.
And of course, for any animal lovers, there was no shortage of furs and feathers on the way.
Nature, in all her splendour, reminded me each day what I wanted… and reconfirmed how my “office” would have to resemble this!
“Look, Listen, Love, Dream, Smile”
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…
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…
Our last step of the Camino…
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.
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.
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.
This was also the beginning of my “Art Month” – a great way to challenge myself to create on a daily basis.
Lens meets light, meets cat, meets shadow…
Constance lake in late evening.
This time, the sunsets were on display for me. Here is Petersthal, the little town I called home for a month.
Connecting with the locals.
More wood-burning experiments.
Gorgeous and crazy weather on display.
A quick drive and we were in Austria.
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.
Did I mention that I love cows?!
No shortage of hiking opportunities. here
Au revoir Germany!
Petersthal – hope to be back someday!
Back in London…
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.
In 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.
The Taj Mahal – as majestic as its home city, Agra, is decrepit. Again – so many contrasts.
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.
Kerala – a state we enjoyed quite a lot. A perfectly calm (er) way to end the two month trip.
The Kochin area…
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!