Border check Newry and Dundalk. Photo courtesy of Sharron McQuaid
Friday night is pizza night in our house. I make the dough from scratch and my parents walk down to share dinner and a few drinks. Last night we got talking about our trip back to Ireland and politicians and what is happening at home. Somehow we ended up talking about smuggling. My dad went to boarding school in Derry and recalled hiding butter in the sleeves of his coat to smuggle across the border to his aunt in Buncrana, Co Donegal. My mam mentioned that my granny and her best friend made special aprons that they could hide under their skirts. They could fit 8 pounds of butter into the pockets in it. They would cycle from Dundalk, Co Louth and cross the border at Carrickasticken, Co Armagh and home again along unapproved roads. A journey of about 16 km one way. I don’t know if they were selling the butter or keeping it all. Hopefully I’ll find out.
Dundalk Bus, customs checking for contraband. Photo courtesy of Liam Duffner
My granny used to make her own butter (so maybe she did sell it) and I remember being allowed to spin the churn when I was little, but I was never allowed to actually make the butter. Granny was a dab hand at flicking the lumps of butter out of the butter milk and paddling it together. She made a little V on the top, that was her insignia, although I don’t know why.
Dad and I have trained for months, we’re awesome on the flat and we’ve been lucky enough to walk some beautiful trails in the Southwest of Western Australia. We’ve watched flocks of Red Tailed Black cockatoos fly overhead, their raucous noise filling the bush and we’ve been nearly cleaned up by a giant boomer (male kangaroo) bounding out of the bush in front of us. But all of this training was on the flat, not much use for the Pyrenees. We didn’t want to die on our first day of the Camino. Unfortunately there aren’t many hills/mountains near Bunbury, so we decided The Maidens would have to do.
I see the path
There are lots of winding pathways through the Tuart Forest and many of them are up very steep hills. The first time we went out I thought I would die and I felt like vomiting when I got to the top. This was after 20 minutes, our first day on the Camino is as far as Orisson, 8kms uphill. It slowly got better the more we trained and we figured we’d be ready for the Camino by the time we left in August.
And then disaster struck. Dad tore ligaments in his knee. He wasn’t doing anything strenuous at the time, just walking around his garden. A trip to the emergency department confirmed the worse – no Camino this year. We’ve decided to put it on hold for 2 years, my eldest daughter finishes school and is planning on walking with us. There’s always a silver lining and like Bob from The Walking Dead I like to see the good side of everything.
Plus we are still going to Europe in October.
The beach in winter is beautiful. Waves crash on the shore and the air is fresh.
I’d wandered along searching for whales, scouring the waves, but they were shy. Two ducks flew past me and landed in the sea. A decaying roo cast its smell into the breeze and I held my breath as I walked by.
I wasn’t the first person on the beach that morning. I followed footprints, human and dog. They were tiny dots in the distance, already on their way home. I turned and followed my own prints back to the stair case. The Sunday morning walkers were up by the time I got back and I was glad to head home for my morning coffee.
I’ve walked around this inlet so many times, but every time, I see something different. The beauty of sparkling sun on tiny waves, twinkling like treasure just out of reach. A dolphin popped up beside us one morning, oblivious to us standing watching in awe from the bank. We watched its graceful glide as it slowly meandered down the inlet. Further on, early morning breakfasters sat enjoying the winter sun, sipping their caffeine fix, but we have no time to linger. The town is starting to wake, cars drive by and I wonder where they are off to, this early on a Saturday.
On we go, weaving our way around the inlet. A black sea bird sits on a rock, wings out stretched like a gargoyle. It’s always on the same rock, in the same position enjoying the warmth of the sun. We cross the metal bridge and listen as it squeaks and groans under us. Black swans, so elegant, drift on the water nearby. Into the mangroves we venture, tiny roots poke skywards and I fear dropping something into the mud.
Too soon we are on the homeward stretch and the pace increases. More people pass by and the ding of a bicycle bell warns us to walk single file. The dolphin is still fishing and from the boardwalk we watch shoals of fish dart to and fro. Another day has dawned.
It rained once last month, the wettest April day on record.
So today everyone was very excited when we heard the large drops on the tin roof. It’s lovely to watch the rain fall and see the earth soaking it up, plus it saves us watering the garden. Wonder how we’ll feel at the end of winter?
Gnomesville a sprawling village of thousands of gnomes, is located about 30 minutes from Bunbury. The gnomes come from all over the world and have set up village here. The village is continually expanding and every time we visit we are amazed by how much it has grown.
Eddie the little gnome I took home
Girl Guide Gnomes
Coordinating and organising flights for seven people is almost a degree. People are flying into and out of different airports and countries and trying to organise dates and times and connections has been a challenge. I fly with my folks to Charles de Gaulle Paris, then dad and I fly from Orly to Biarittz, mum flies from CDG to Dublin. In October Brian and the children fly from Perth to Barcelona and Dad and I fly from Santiago to Barcelona. We arrive 4 hours before Brian, probably the longest 4 hours after not seeing them for almost 5 weeks. My mum and brother and brother-in-law will fly from Dublin and then we’ll all have a great reunion before Brian and the children crash after the long haul flight.
And then I have to do it all again to Dublin and London as we all head off in different directions.
I must be one of the worst bloggers. This is my 200th post and I probably could have reached it last year if I was more prolific. I’ve been busy, graduating again, starting my PhD, learning Spanish (thanks Dora the Explorer) revising my french and walking.
I leave with my parents on August 30 and arrive into Paris Sunday afternoon on the 31st. My mum will fly home to Ireland and no doubt drive my brother and brother-in-law insane. :) While dad and I will head to St Jean Pied de Port to begin our 800 kilometre adventure.
Here are a few photos of our training so far. Western Australia is a beautiful spot :)
Indian Ocean the Back Beach
Early morning walk. Indian Ocean
Dad at Crooked Brook Dardanup
Crooked Brook Forest walk
Grass Tree – Xanthorrhoea
Yesterday we had to make the heart breaking journey to the vet. Even though we knew it was time for Wes to go, it was still very traumatic. He had gone downhill in the last two weeks and although he still knew when it was dinner time nothing else seemed to work. Do dogs get dementia? I’d let him out for a wee and then he just wandered until one of us tapped him and guided him back inside. He slept most of the day and then paced most of the night.
My son cried so much I had to keep him off school today. He sits in his window and stares out at the grave. Not sure how to comfort him, I’ve distracted him with movies, but it doesn’t last long.
Goodbye Wes August 1998-March 2015. It was a good innings.