Saturday, 11 June 2011

Camino bore: In the Netherlands and the Lake District.

Saturday June 11th, 2011. Home from wandering in the mountains.
Now of course I'm going to tell you why being in both the Netherlands AND the Lake District is 'Just Like The Camino': just about anywhere can be JLTC if you manage to be single-minded about the day's goal. I make a 'to do' list most days, and on a good day I stick to it and at the end of it it feels like arriving at the albergue. On the camino, there is no real choice BUT to make sure you arrive, and that is why camino living is so easy and in many ways not at all a template for normal life. Decisions in normal life are often a bit more complex than 'Shall I have a shower or a beer or a nap first?'

See mini-St James, bottom R H corner
Ah, Santiago....!
This weekend last year was our last on the continent, and we were already very near home as the crow flies. We finally succumbed to buying a scallop shell on Scheveningen pier. Why did we leave it so late? Don't know. But it seemed 'right'. On the continent, such shells are generally labelled 'St Jacques', and we were soon to return to the land where they aren't; and where the camino is little-known, and even less understood.

We'd spent a good day in the
the museum in Utrecht devoted to religious art and artifacts. There was no shortage of exhibits to remind us of the camino, our comfort-zone. If I'd been organised I could have told you what these pictures were of, so you'll have to - like I do - just enjoy them now without note of their provenance.

Square sand windsurfers at Schev
The Dutch of course are brilliant at sandcastles, and so I was very taken with the one shown here, of windsurfers. They have to use special sand. Square sand. You don't believe me? It's not the stuff on the beach where the castles are built every year, which is round sand. No, they have to bring in special river sand, which has square grains and so sticks together better. There you are - that's why YOU can't build a castle like that.

Where every need is met
But this was the Netherlands, and June 2010 football fever, and so here is an illustration of a scene in which almost every need known to man was met; some men anyway. The one with lots of orange. Be  glad I have not shown the grey thing in use. It'd never 'appen 'ere!

Catbells. Er - we're here - and how am I going to get down THERE?
Skiddaw. I know - the camera angle exaggerates it a bit.
But in 2011 we are back from a few days camping near Keswick in the Lake District. I am reminded about the entertainment value in a bit of fear (see camino day 2). Some scientists once put a load of monkeys in a room where they were shown films that were frightening to monkeys. The monkeys were trained to operate the thing and could choose whether or not to watch the frightening films. Without fail, when the film came to an end, the screaming monkeys opted to watch it again. Thus we did several nice walks, and the mountain called 'Catbells' provided me with some of the slightly screaming-monkey-moments; not quite to crag-fastness, but on arrival at the summit of this cute little 1500-footer, my first thought, as ever was '...and how do we get down?', which I think you can tell from the pic here. Huge flat and slanting slopes of grey scree have a bad effect on me too. [Go on - click on the pic and make it bigger, and you might see what I mean.]

There are ways of getting round fear, though; this one I haven't tried yet: A friend of D's was doing the Lyke Wake walk back in the 1980s; he was very much prone to vertigo, didn't feel safe on cliff edges etc, got the leg wobble. So what did he do? He made sure he was fairly drunk for most of the time. I refuse to make a sexist comment, but the temptation.... My own best way was to hope for mist, and then you just can't see what's down there. I also tried to divide the awkward bits into small squares and think how you only have to do one bit at a time.

Almost at summit of Skiddaw, where hail prevented further pics

 But I end with a pic of a pattern in the hillside made by the passage of humans. I love the spirally green ribbon of grass between the places to plant the feet following the example of others. Add your own bit of soulful metaphorical nonsense, I've had too much beer. Ultreia!

No comments:

Post a Comment