Monday, October 23, 2023

Camino #8

 I wasn't going to buy anything this weekend for my trip. I have almost everything I need except a few merino wool items - a pair of leggings, a pair of capris and 2 T-shirts. Of course FaceBook knows this and keeps posting these enticing ads for any and all of the above. I can ignore the posts for leggings at $225.00US that ship from the US. I can also ignore the "bundle" of 5 merino T-shirts for $500.00US that also ship from the US. But I couldn't ignore the offer of the perfect black, 100% merino leggings from Stanfields that ship from Halifax (with free shipping this week only!) They were $125.00CDN. Expensive, yes, but less than half the price of the US ones.

OK, I'm not always sitting in front of my computer BUYING things. I did do my 10kms walk to the Brickworks and back, wearing my new merino long sleeved top from Joe Fresh. It was perfect, if not a little warm under my light jacket, over a short sleeved top. It was 11ÂșC most of the day.

I was back in time for lunch and managed to talk myself out of some housework - tomorrow is another day! I had time to spare. I did a crossword puzzle - still some time left. I wrote a blog post - used up an hour. Walked to the corner store for some Romaine lettuce - hmmm. Still about an hour left before dinner.

Then I remembered that I wanted to research a source for those small little fabric flags that you put on your backpack, or hat, or jacket or whatever. I knew keying in the right phrases would be a challenge. Well, obviously someone wants me to do this walk, because it took about 10 minutes to google up a store on Etsy that ships from Canada and has these small cloth flags for every country of the world and then some!!

I bought 4 - Canada, Scotland, Portugal and Spain - all for a little over $16.00CDN which included shipping.

Now to get dinner ready and keep my hands busy so I don't buy anything else - today!! 

The picture - Heaven on Earth - a morning walk in Mud Creek!

Buen Camino!!

Camino #7

 Lots more happening today, as well. This is the ebb and flow of holiday preparation. There are times when a whole lot happens and then there are weeks when nothing happens. I'll ride the waves of a lot happening and then I'll walk to fill in the down time!!

1. I went back to Decathlon to return a hat and a pullover that just didn't fit. My refund was about $100.00. I purchased a silk sleeping sheet - $60.00. It's a hostel "thing." Somehow, when I was staying in youth hostels many years ago, I was supposed to have had a sleeping sheet. It's like having your own sheets, so you don't sleep on the "used" mattresses with nothing between you and God knows what!! Hmmm, not sure I ever had one, or even cared. However, being older and wiser (a moot point) I've decided, I need to distance myself from the previous occupant of the hostel bed I may be sleeping in, with just the thinnest layer of silk. Also, bed bugs don't like silk - so I am told - we'll see. It's going to be an adventure.

I also bought a poncho with sleeves. I coveted one online that was the creme de la creme of rain ponchos. It was about $75.00US and it shipped from Spain. Of course, if I had ordered it, it would never rain!! Tempting, as it was, I knew my luck wouldn't hold, so I bought a $35.00 poncho from Decathlon - believe me; it's gonna rain!! OK, Yes, I have a $5.00 poncho from Canadian Tire that saw us through a day of torrential rain while biking in the Laurentians. Meh, I wanted one with sleeves that would go over my backpack. Done!

2. I picked a flight schedule, from a few, offered by my travel agent. The easiest and cheapest was a direct flight from Toronto to Porto with Air Transat. I lost a few days at the beginning and end of the trip, because of their schedule, so I am now basically down to 3 weeks. That's OK. I often get bored after two weeks, so three is OK and four might have been pushing it!! My total outlay for return trip and travel agent input is $1,137.27. I will add on the medical insurance later.

I now have to decide whether to do the full Portuguese camino from Porto - 250kms or take the bus to Tui and do the last 100kms to Santiago. 

My brain was overloaded. The sun came out, so I decided to do a 10km walk to the Brickworks and back. It's a good excuse to do nothing except walk, listen to music, enjoy the great weather and have a coffee at Picnic Cafe´. I even made a full spaghetti dinner, with meatballs and Cesar salad when I got home, even though my feet hurt.

"Say not the struggle naught availeth."

The picture - Mud Creek near the end of October. I think I have found my Eden!

Buen Camino!

Camino #6

Lots happening today!! 

First, I made contact with a travel agent. The agent we have always used is just doing Tahiti now. (I know, it's a tough life!) However, he referred me to a travel agent (female) in NB, who had planned to do a Camino in 2020, but had to cancel because of Covid. She seems like a kindred soul.

I had been online to check out airfares. TAP, the Portuguese airline, had some great fares from Toronto to Porto with a change in Lisbon for $375.00 CAD. I know this is the basic straitjacket fare - make any changes and you are screwed. My travel agent suggested upgrading to something that allowed some flexibility. I agreed. I will pay her $100.00 for her to purchase a return ticket for me and she will do a lot of research and be available 24/7 (or thereabouts) to help me if I need it. I will not have to call the airline, if there is a problem.

I will also buy medical insurance for around $500.00 for just under 4 weeks from her. My visa card covers me for $1,500.00 of trip cancellation insurance, lost luggage etc. So I don't think that I will buy extra trip cancellation insurance.

The next major happening was the arrival of my two online clothing purchases. The first, from Joe Fresh, was a 100% merino, long sleeved woman's pullover. It cost me, with tax and shipping $42.13. Most on-line merino tops are over $100.00US before tax and shipping. This was a deal. I had considered buying another one and cutting down the sleeves to make a T-shirt, but the fabric is too nice to cut. I may pop into Joe Fresh and see if they have them in store and maybe even on sale.

My second purchase was a coat from Eddie Bauer that was $145.77 with tax and shipping. It is actually 3 coats. 1. The outer shell is a water proof thin layer for milder days. 2. The inner quilted (button-in lining) can be used on its own as a hoodie (without the hood). I also plan to use this layer instead of a sleeping bag. 3. Put them both together and you have a very warm coat.

I'm wavering now between the Portuguese route and the France´s route from Sarria. It's mainly because the connections from Porto are so much more direct to Tui. The saga continues.

The picture? Mud Creek from my regular 10kms walks.

Buen Camino.

Saturday, October 21, 2023

The Joy of Adventure

 If you have been following my camino posts, you know that I have booked my flight from Toronto to Porto. This is exciting!! I am now working out my route to Santiago. I was just going to do Tui to Santiago - 100kms, when a woman in one of the forums suggested that I do the full coastal route - 250kms, because the first six days were all flat!! If I walked 15kms per day, I would reduce the distance by 100 easy kms in the first 6 days. I'm thinking about it. These people are enablers!

It's been a busy week of ordering and receiving clothing and gear for my trip. I have had to return a few things, but the process has been good. I bought my silk sheet from Decathlon and a poncho with sleeves that will go over my backpack - nothing fancy, but I don't need style, I need coverage.

I now just need to buy one pair of merino leggings and one pair of capris, plus 2 merino T-shirts. I have already ordered my 5th backpack. OK, I have #1 - a day pack that I have had for years from MEC and use everyday - too small. I have #2 - another backpack that I bought last year for my art supplies when I was taking an art class - too heavy. Also too heavy was #3 - the backpack I bought from Mountain Warehouse - 3lbs empty! Number #4 was my daughter's old one which she gave me. However, it's only 25 litres. I needed more room. Enter the backpack on sale from Eddie Bauer - #5. It's 1.5lbs with side pockets for water and some cute pockets on the belt for "whatever." I will make this one work. It's light enough.

In between all of the preparation, I have had orders at work, coffee with a friend, a little gardening in preparation for Winter and very little house cleaning. In fact my son actually vacuumed the other day. I guess it's pretty bad! I have also done some food shopping and cooking - not too many deals in the food departments these days so I have been eating through my freezer - always an adventure.

I'm half way through Demon Copperhead. It's not as sad now, so I'm not putting it down as often. I do hope my Rosamunde Pilcher is available soon from the library. I need my daily escapes to be stories that end "happily ever after."

The picture? The last of the Summer tomatoes - trying to hang on to those wonderful days, as long as possible!! 

My Joy for the Joy Jar this week has to be my ticket to Porto in April!!

Have an adventurous week!!

Saturday, October 14, 2023

The Joy of Thanksgiving

 This year, we celebrated Thanksgiving on the day - Monday, October 9. We do the whole nine yards - roast turkey with stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, two veg., pumpkin pie. We start with bubbly for the toast and have other wine with dinner.

Our friend of many years comes and brings lots of festive cheer. Sometimes there is five of us. This year there was just four and we have had as many as eight in other years - just spreading the joy.

I now have to make sure that all the leftovers are eaten up. Our friend takes a lot home with her and during the week, I have turkey sandwiches for lunch, eat cold turkey with warm gravy and "bubble & squeak" for dinner(s). I also make turkey a la king, turkey curry and turkey soup. Ymmmm.

But it's not all about the eating. It's also about being thankful and I am so very thankful for all the riches I have - home, health, children, friends, activities, hope and most of all love!!

The joy and the thankfulness continued throughout the week with -

1. My son giving me his old phone - an I-Phone 6s. I had an old I-phone 6. I couldn't even load an Uber app on it. He flipped out the sim card from my phone and put it into his old phone. He then transferred all my data including my music to what has now become my new phone. (We'll just forget about the fact that I thought he hadn't finished and proceeded to switch the sim cards back again.) He fixed it all - again without getting angry with me and we were up and running!!

2. The postal sub-station on Mt. Pleasant having some old I-Phone covers so I could get a new RED cover and a new protective skin to tidy up his rather worn out interface. What was even more Joyful was the fact that the wonderful person in the sub-station put the cover and the protective skin on for me, after cleaning up my phone. It looks BRAND NEW!!

3. My trekking up to Vaughan (OK I drove) to the Decathlon store to buy some more gear. I needed a small day pack that would fit into my backpack. I also needed a better travel belt for wallet, passport, phone etc. I also wanted to suss out their merino clothing. I got some of what I needed and will return what doesn't work, mainly the merino hat - OK I have a big head, but really I can't imagine heads small enough to wear this tourniquet - and the man's (there were no women's) large long sleeved sweater - just plain awkward.

4. My deciding to do my 10kms walk on Friday because it was going to rain on Saturday. Again the cafe´at the Brickworks was open for coffee and a scone. In fact, my friend called me while I was on my way home. We talked for 5kms. It was almost like being on a Camino. The walk just gets easier and easier. 

5. My finding out that there will be a Camino meeting Nov 4 at a church in the Beaches. I will be there.

6. My making contact with a new travel agent. My former travel agent is now just doing Tahiti. However, he was kind enough to connect me with someone who will get me travel and medical insurance. She is based in New Brunswick, and had planned to do a Camino in April of 2020. I referred her to a book I had read - The Gathering Place. The author, Mary Colville, walked in the Fall of 2020. 

7. My exchanges with various Camino walkers online. Several in their late 70s and early 80s who are walking and carrying their backpacks with them. In fact, it was only the walkers in their 90s that were having their packs, sadly, sent on. These, of course, are the true pilgrims. Anyone younger having their packs sent on are just tourists. In fact, one woman said, "I have always carried my backpack. The day I can't, is the day I will stop walking the Camino."

My Joy for the Joy Jar this week has to be my new, refurbished I-Phone for FREE and all the thankfulness of Thanksgiving

Have an awesome week!!

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

The Joy of 12 Kilometres

 OK, it's only 2 kms more than what I have been doing every Saturday since the beginning of September, but it was amazing....because...

I walked these 12 kms on a Thursday morning. I usually walk 10 kms every Saturday, but I decided to up the ante and do an extra walk mid-week - partly because it was going to rain on the weekend, and partly because I wanted to walk the east half of the David Balfour loop to find out where I had lost the path last Sunday. I also wanted to walk to The Brickworks from another direction. I was hoping the trail would be longer - I was aiming for 15kms. Well, 12kms will have to do.

Unfortunately, the east side of the DB loop was closed, so I had to double back and walk the west side again. Not a problem because it is a real work out - lots of ups and downs on very challenging terrain. The rest of the trail on the east side of Mt. Pleasant is almost too easy!!

Fortunately, the cafe´ at The Brickworks was open and I could get a coffee, a blueberry scone and a much needed rest. I finished my walk up Mud Creek and into work by 11:30am.

When I compare all the ways, I used to travel to work over the years, this one has to be the most unusual. In fact, when I called upstairs to tell my daughter I was heading out for my walk, she said, "But it's Thursday." I said, "It's OK. The city said I could walk on a Thursday." I've got this thing, any day of the week!

Other Joys this week were...

1. My book, "On Pilgrimage" by Jennifer Lash arrived. It's another perspective on The Walk.

2. I had to buy a huge bag of Basmati rice at Metro because, I was not going to pay almost $10.00 for 500g of rice, when for $15.00 I could get 4 kilos. In fact when I got to the check out, I had another surprise. The shelf price was wrong. That 4 kilo bag cost me just $9.00. The Joy of a deal!

3. I'm getting closer to buying a lighter backpack. (I have 4 backpacks; they are all either too heavy or too small - sigh!) Luckily, I found a site that rated backpacks. I was close to buying a 35 litre one from Gossamer Gear which weighed a mere 12oz and was called "Murmur." I might have bought it for its name alone, except that it was rated only 5 out of 10 - not sure why. Obviously back to the drawing board. My Joy here was in actually finding a site that rated backpacks!!

4. One of the groups I follow on FB listed a few books to read while travelling. I now have a new list from some of my favourite authors:

Barbara Kingsolver - Demon Copperhead
JR Moehringer - Open (OK Spare too, but I would never read it)
Rosamunde Pilcher - Coming Home - ordered it from the library.

Reading is always a Joy.

5. I walked another 12kms on Saturday. OK I did my usual 10 kms to the Brickworks and back. I also put some extra weight in my backpack to keep the pressure on. I might not have added the extra 2kms later in the day, but I was planning to make Penne a la Vodka for dinner and, you guessed it, I was out of Vodka! I could have just made the sauce without the spirits, (I have eaten spiritless sauces before....hmm) but someone would have noticed. Plus I decided that I needed another book to read, as I was almost finished "On Pilgrimage." The walk to Yonge Eg & back is 2 kms and Demon Copperhead is over 500 pages - how I measure my days.

The picture? The Joy of Mud Creek!

My Joy for the Joy Jar this week has to be the extended walking - love it.

Have an awesome week.


Sunday, October 01, 2023

Camino #5

 In addition to buying (on sale wherever possible) all the paraphernalia for my Camino, I have been in training. I know I have posted the trails and kilometres I have walked and described their varied terrain. I keep hoping for a sampling of what I might expect from the paths in Spain. Well, today was payday!

Today, I walked the David Balfour loop and it had everything I was looking for in a walk (hike)!! It's like a slice of the Bruce Trail, except it's in Toronto and I could walk to it from my house. I didn't have to drive an hour or more out of the city, park, hike and drive an hour or more back. I just had to open my front door, walk 2kms to Mt Pleasant cemetery (West side), find the entrance to the trail - tricky, but I used to bike the area a lot, so I had an educated guess of where it might be. I know I should write mystery novels - Ms. Marple comes to mind.

In the section, where I thought I might find the entrance to the park, I saw a women walking her dog. I followed her. She disappeared through a chain link fence into a dark and foreboding descent. 

Eureka! It was the entrance to the park!! Suddenly, the murky way opened to a forested Eden. Here was a woodland anchored by a creek and banked by steep, densely treed hills. In fact there were actually two paths - a wide easy tract similar to mud creek and a narrow roller coaster of a walk rising up from the embankment. It was mangled by tree roots, laced with precipitous drops and blocked, at times, by large, awkward tree trunks. This is what I needed to add a challenge to my rather tame 10kms walks.

At every fork on the trail I found a kind person to tell me which path to take. I made only two wrong turns. One was an easy back track. It was steps out of the park. The other was, on the return leg (no pun intended); I had somehow lost the trail and ended up on the muddy shore of the creek. Stepping stones helped, but my hiking pole was a life saver!!

At the end of my walk there was a bench. How did they know! While I was catching my breath a troop of about 50 hikers, with a guide passed me on their (no doubt paid for) trek into the woods. They were all ages and, I'm guessing, all abilities. I loved the fact that they were out exercising. But I was so happy that I could do it on my own.

Buen Camino

Camino #4

 Today I made 2 more purchases for my Camino walk. First, after spending ages online, I finally found a pair of Teva sandals in size 7. I usually wear a size 6, but the Camino forum's advice is to go a size larger because feet swell with walking and a heavy pack. Also I will be wearing socks with them sometimes - also Camino forum advice.

About 6 weeks ago, I had ordered a pair of the same sandals from Sporting Life on sale. They never came and never came. Eventually my order was cancelled. Sigh! Today online at Sporting Life, the sandals were $90.00 plus tax. Back to more searches. Most of the online sandals on sale were out of size 7. Normal doesn't work (neither does abnormal, but for different reasons). Finally I found a pair in Canada (I'm avoiding Amazon) for $44.00. However, with shipping and tax the actual cost was over $60.00. Still cheaper than Sporting Life. I ordered them from a store in Hamilton - Tootsies. I hope they fit.

My second purchase was a Turkish towel. If you happen to stay in a hostel, they do not provide towels (or sheets or blankets). One woman recommended a Turkish towel for all the right reasons:

1. It is a towel that is very large approximately 40" x 70", but folds down to a very compact square.

2. It dries quickly.

3. It can be used as a wrap on the beach, a sarong to enter churches, and a cover-up for showers, etc.

4. It seconds as a curtain for privacy in a hostel.

5. It becomes a blanket on chilly nights.

I decided I needed one of these. Back online, I found lots of places that sold Turkish towels, some were actually made in Turkey. MEC's were made in China. Curiously, there was a website that gave an address that was very close to me and not where you would find a store, in fact it was a condo building. Well, I could walk there and why not? Their towels were $10 - $20 cheaper than the $40-$50 (plus tax & shipping) from other on-line stores. I had an online chat with the owner. She gave me her telephone number. I called her when I was close to her address. She met me outside with  a choice of 3 towels. I bought a grey and white one - my other choices were orange and white - too bright!

Finally, I bought 4 pairs of socks from The Great Canadian Sox Company - 2 pairs of Merino & 2 pairs of Cashmere, all for a little over $50.00. This factory outlet is a great find, given that I can drive there in 20 minutes and the selection is amazing!!

It was a great day for Camino purchases!!

The Joy of Lunches

 Yes, I do like to eat and I have three meals a day - organized eating. Since I rarely go out in the evening, I meet friends for lunch. Wednesday I met a friend at a Chinese restaurant for a lovely set menu of rice, a spring roll and stir-fried chicken with vegetables. My friend had the same with shrimp. It was a great meal made better by the friendship and the conversation.

On Friday, I had lunch with another friend who had been given a gift certificate for a restaurant in her neighbourhood. We both had the pasta, sitting outside by the lake, in the sunshine. For the end of September, it was amazing!! We have known each other since we were 14 - easily a three-hour lunch!

My lunches at home were chicken soup made from my own stock. Yes, in spite of the warm weather, we are getting closer to soup season.

 Other Joys were:

1. Finished reading "The Tender Bar." The book was a joy to read. I'm sad it's over.

2. Ordered a book on Amazon - "Pilgrimage" by Jennifer Lash - the mother of Ralph and Joseph Fiennes (famous actors). My sister-in-law highly recommended it, so I can't wait to read it. Her recommendations are always great. My Joy was that I actually found the book. It's an older publication that I had been looking for on-line. It had taken a while to find mainly because I was keying in the wrong surname. Finally I just keyed in "mother of Joseph Fiennes." It worked. By our children shall we be known!

3. Managed another 10kms walk to the Brickworks market on Saturday. It's always a very special walk. I also researched my walk for tomorrow. I will look for the entrance to David Balfour park from Mt Pleasant cemetery - this will be a challenge. I hope to walk 15kms.

4. Won $20.00 in the Lottery - got 4 numbers correctly - only needed a few more - sigh!

5. Bought a frozen, natural (no Butterball) turkey for $20.00. I do love a bargain. Earlier in the week, I had bought fresh cranberries - "gotta love Thanksgiving."

Have a joyous first week of October!!