Sunday, April 23, 2023

You'll Never Walk Alone - On the Camino

Two weeks to go before we fly out to Porto and I am relieved to report that nobody within our circle of family and friends has popped their clogs recently. It is, of course, just over a year since my good mate H sadly and unexpectedly passed. Eric, Roger, Wayne and myself marked this first anniversary with a meet-up in Southend-on-Sea, visiting old haunts and downing several beers in honour of the big man. Included within these old haunts should ideally have been our old local, the rather splendidly titled The Aristocrat in Queens Road, but it seems that particular moniker was lost to the sands of time (or the sands of Southend-on-Sea?) many years ago. To be replaced by Pong.

Thirty nine years (since the five of us first started drinking together in The Aristocrat) is a long time and times change. But Pong

Hmmm. Fancy a nice romantic meal tonight at Pong darling? Perhaps a few pre-dinner drinks beforehand at that nice new place nearby Bit Shit Innit?

Sadly for Pong’s business owners, the place appeared to be locked up and no longer in operation. Some of my finest achievements took place in that building.

But, thirty nine years on and with more recent finest achievements in mind, the Camino is calling. Mrs C and I have been putting plenty of miles in our legs and we are feeling fit for the challenge, albeit my gout has been toying with me of late. I have all but completed the Spanish language internet course I originally purchased back in 2011 and mi espaƱol is mucho mejor que antes. Shame we’re going to Portugal really. And, in a valiant attempt to save spending on unnecessary baggage charges with Easyjet, I have removed the steel reinforcements from the back of my rucksack to ensure that I can squeeze my rucksack with belongings into a size no bigger than 45 x 30 x 20 centimeters. If all goes to plan, that should see me arrive at Manchester airport on 7 May wearing most of the clothes I am taking with me, thus resembling the Michelin Man, but I reckon that my money is better in my pocket than Easyjets and I’ll have plenty of pockets to choose from as I’ll be wearing most of them.

Let’s hope it’s not unseasonably warm in Manchester on 7 May. 

We expect this Camino to be very different to last year for a number of reasons, not least of which because there will be four of us, not two. As a generalisation, I am not one for detailed planning. As a generalisation Mick, one half of the Mick and Andrea with whom we will be walking, is one for detailed planning. In between these two somewhat opposite positions, Andrea (the other half of the Mick and Andrea with whom we will be walking) and Mrs C prefer a little bit of certainty in their lives. Thus I have come up with the brilliant wheeze that I will have little or nothing to do with the planning for this Camino which should mean that every day on the Portuguese Camino will, for me, be a mystery whereas the others should be able to start each day with whatever degree of certainty they desire, assuming of course that they have indeed planned it properly. They had better do so - my desire for spontaneity will be relying on them.

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