Ayuntamiento de Còmpeta. La Rampa, Cómpeta
Cindy Jones opened the meeting welcoming Maggie Wood as speaker and the 31 members in attendance.
She advised that she had written to Mariano, on behalf of the club, following our visit to his wonderful cactus garden (Casarabonela Cacti Succulent Botanical Gardens 9 September), thanking them for a wonderful day and saying how much we had enjoyed it. Mariano responded saying they had "such fun with us" as "we were a great group"
Cindy also reminded all members that their membership is due at next months meeting, November. This must be the bargain of the year, still only 10 euros.
There are many pilgrimage routes that converge in Santiago de Compostela in North West Spain. Known as the Camino de Santiago, these routes have been walked since Medieval times when pilgrims believed they would receive absolution by walking to the shrine where the bones of St James are kept.
Last year I walked the Camino Frances with my daughter Ella. This is the most walked route and we started on the French side of the Pyrenees and walked 950 km westward to Santiago, and on to the coast at Finisterre.
I had taken up walking specifically to join Ella on this adventure, having never hiked before. I trained a great deal and was fairly fit by the time we set off, but it is impossible to train to walk every day - unless you are actually walking every day. It was hard, but we made it without any major incidents.
On returning home I remained fascinated by the camino and soon started planning a walk for this year along the Camino Portuguese. My new challenge would be to walk alone, although as it happened I met a woman on one of the camino forums who was planning to walk from the same place at the same time, so we arranged to meet in Lisbon.
Elly is an Australian Architect in her mid forties and a very different personality to me. We had no idea how we would get on but we decided to start walking together and go our separate ways when the time seemed right. First though we spent a day and a half getting to know eachother and exploring the fabulous city of Lisbon, with our own personal guide in the guise of another forum member who lived and worked in the city.
This was Elly's fourth camino and she was very organised. I was happy to leave the decisions to her and she kept the pace fairly easy with shorter days than I would probably have walked had I been on my own. We walked at different paces, so although we started the day together and would meet up regularly along the way, quite often we would be walking our own walk.
In the event we stuck together until we reached Porto on day 19, when Elly decided to take a day off and I decided to get on with my solo walk and head off alone. It had been great to walk together, particularly on the little trodden route from Lisbon to Porto, but I also really enjoyed walking alone.
The first section until Porto had been mostly very hot - something of a heatwave in fact, but the rain started as we arrived in Porto and it didnt really stop for long until I reached Santiago. But it's a lot easier to walk in the cooler weather and I put in a series of quite long days, reaching Santiago on day 27.
As last year, I carried my worldly goods on my back and stayed in dormitory style accommodation where it was available.
Now that I have experienced walking alone, I will be more confident in taking on my next solo project
I have put together this slideshow especially for the garden club, which for the most part shows the wild flowers that I encountered along the way, with a few cultivated blooms that I couldn't resist, and some sights of interest thrown in for good measure
The slideshow lasts for about 30 minutes and I will let the images speak for themselves."
Here are the statistics that Maggie quoted at the end of the presentation:
55% male 45% female
For the second year running Maggie also raised funds from her pilgrimage for Action for Animals and Cudeca through sponsorship.