No its not preciosa,or outstandingly beautiful today .I am always suspicious of the word anyway as it usually means not just outstanding beauty ,but difficult walking through isolated terrain ,contradictory or non existent flechas (arrows ) and  usually inclement weather.But thats me just wanting a challenge and then moaning about it .

Walking to Mataelpino 

Second day on the Madrid :from Colemar to Mataelpino.Rain ,snow ,hurtling winds from those mountains .Was glad of all my thermals ,rain pants and gloves .At times  hard gusts of wind and sleet against my  face so that I couldn’t move a muscle.Fingers numb but body warm enough .Had to focus on each step ,looking out for arrows that are easy to miss in this weather ,so no time for anxieties or indecisiveness .All that matters is keeping to the path and reaching a destination Thankful for my daughter Nardwyn’s company ,she remained cheerful as we sheltered every now and then behind the rocks that jutted out  along the side of the winding path. Reached Mataelpino very early after 9 km .We had to stay there as it was another 18 km to the next stop ,and the weather was increasingly wild .Ha -the hostel was locked and the man we phoned said he’d be a couple of hours .So we dragged frozen legs up another hill and around a corner and found the bar .

Nardwyn thinking in the warm bar in Mataelpino .Wheres her book ?

Books or not ?

This  series of posts though is not just an account of each step of our walk and my winges ,or a reflection on the nuances of the Spanish language This entry is about what walking  does for me : walking clears my head so that I have space to reflect ,and to dream.There are no pressing engagements  and obligations ,phone calls and texts pinging ,jobs to start ,places to reach ,routines,people to respond to .Now there is not even a book .

On the second day of this walk I ditched my only book because it was too heavy ,and Nardwyn did the same .I have to admit we regretted it later when we reached Mataelpino early in the day ,and had to stay in bed wrapped in blankets or in the bar in the smoke for the rest of the day .Another constraint  about walking is the amount of liquor that can be consumed ,especially in the middle of the  day .It was siesta  time and  we were the sole occupiers of the bar.We could read the local Spanish paper ( in this case full of futbal),converse with each other -and eventually  there was no alternative but to sit with our own thoughts .In my case there was sometimes an overwhelming  blankness ,sometimes a sadness ,occasionally  thoughts that I had told myself I had  left far behind.Often a questioning of what my life is about ,what I’m about ,regrets about people ,and lack of loving ,the ontological insecurities of everyday life .Books can block or deflect this stream of consciousness .

When  I’m walking again the next day the spaces in my head are wider, a lot of the extraneous stuff cleared out .So  there is freedom to be joyful and celebrate being alive and part of this beautiful world


How important is it to eat when its 3 degrees outside and snowing and still 2 km to the nearest food place (bar) ,but its Sunday and the towns are small and there is not much choice .Bang goes my  vegetarian,organic diet .Will eat whatever presents ,maybe not red meat ,but anything else

At hostal at Cercedilla ,further along from Mataelpino ,for example there is a choice :chocolates and potato chips ,until tomorrow morning breakfast ,or walking back down the hill we have just staggered up in the increasing rain and sleet ,to the only place that is open now ,the bar at the railway station .Inside the bare place the rooms are  warm and beds clean ,but no food .We have run out of our own supplies .How hungry am I??

Obviously hungry enough to brave the dark cold night .Off we went down the hill to the only other place open tonight

Our room at the youth Hostel -cold outside ,warm but a different cold inside 
Back up  that hill after food and a few vinos -its fun now in the dark and cold    Just as well we made the trip as in  the morning there is an unappetising breakfast served in a cold canteen ,cardboard cereal of some kind ,dull bread ,and a most unspanish like coffee tasting like dishwater Standard fare in the Albergues del Juveniles ,Spanish youth hostels ,which are clean and well run .We made a poor choice could have paid more and gone to  the private hostal near the station .And not had to do  the 2 km walk twice up the steep hill at the end of a  full days walking 

Its important to carry enough food ,for times like this .But there is always the balance with weight .Always water ,but sometimes have been caught out on this trip with no food Later on in a little place called Ane there was nothing open at all ,not even a shop in the town ,or remains of a settlement really.See my entry in diary :

We went through one tiny collection of houses ,most falling apart, and what must have been a thriving and beautiful church rising out of  the circle of abandoned homes .The usual cats prowling around ,a couple of dogs .Noone at all around ,unusual .Even here in Ane ,also a tiny place ,there are a few old men walking in the afternoon ,a large flock of sheep near the furthest inhabited house/farm and one child playing by the very new swing in the playground with his grandparents .”

Approaching Ane ,the sun came out 
Cats coming from everywhere -and a wintery sun is out

.A long walk ,a hard day ,one of us ill and only 2 teabags and panadol in the first aid kit .A lovely old man eventually found the keys and  opened up the hostal. There were lots of blankets to throw on a fairly clean beds in a smaller room ,and a kettle to boil .Not the season for walking this route ,which is a fairly solitary one anyway ,

Ane Hostal ,thank you for the bed and warm blankets ,and thank you lovely old man for finding the keys .Everything is fine this morning ,and the sun is out .Lets go caminoing on 

On the other hand ,having to go out for food often leads to some interesting evenings in small villages ,the Spanish  bars are social centres and people love to talk .The food is usually great ,washed down with the local vino .Some great meals .One memorable meal in a village further on from Ane was the pigs trotters.I hasten to add it was eaten with relish by my food adventurer English cousin ,and I looked away and ate my calamares and salad.This was in Nave de Ascunsion ,

On the second night in that  same bar next to the bus station ,the barman handed us a bottle of the local wine as we left .Clare carried that bottle in her pack for 2 days .


This wine was worth waiting  to drink .Thanks Clare for the carrying and gratias  Señor barman in Nave for your friendliness and sense of humour