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I wish you could come on the Camino…..

Dear Claire,
How I wish you were coming on The Camino Pilgrim Trail with us. It’s a bit of a Dreaming Place adventure, just the sort of journey I know you’d enjoy and learn from. I know it’s not an option for you at the mo’ Amber being small, the distance,the cost. But Mark and I will trail blaze for you and Amber will soon have her walking legs.

Where Dreaming Place was 40 days and 40 nights  this will take us fifty. We’ll walk a leisurely 20 kilometres a day. Mani spotted the easy maths for us. From Sevilla in Southern Spain it is 1,000 k on the Via de la Plata to Santiago de Compostela. Since the towns are few and we don’t plan to use hostels we can’t plug into the grid. So we’ve invested in a technology you’d love’;”solar paper” by YOLK, That way we can “plug into the sun” and stay in contact with folks at home. Not sure that I’ll blog as I just want to live the experience. But I’m taking  pen and paper for drawing, notes so I can spend the darkness of winter writing.  While those miniature solar panels from Yolk are soaking up the sun, Ghyllie will be shimmering in his K9 silver mesh solar coat. It’s strange but his coat is the exact opposite of YOLK. So where the solar paper absorbs, the coat will deflect the solar rays away from his black fur, keeping him from generating too much heat and overheating.

. K9 solar coat

I told you we are taking Ghyllie right? How could we leave him at home for two long months, he’s part of the family. He just had to come. He’s had his jabs. I’m getting him clipped and he’s in training. His dried food is way too heavy so he’ll be eating raw; avocados, bananas, eggs and tinned fish, (like you ate because of Amber in your tum). Mark and I are eating raw too, since even a mini-stove is too heavy to carry in our packs. Luckily we both love bocadillos. “What about your cups of tea?” you ask. It’s a bit of a sacrifice. What could be nicer than a cup of tea at sunset. Or in the cool morning under the fading stars.

Remember how Dreaming Place became a pilgrimage for us?  A pilgrimage to place. Well on this journey we’ll be following in the footsteps of generations who have walked before us. The original peoples of the Camino! And as with our Ireland trip this will be an opportunity to re-connct with the right things, to keep the senses alert, look for signs, listen to people, places, creatures and things. Just like we did on our adventures, you and me. It’s not just a long jaunt, a fun fundraising walk for GOSH It is a sacred journey.

Be thinking of you guys along the way!

Anna x

 

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The Observatory

If this was my residency, I’d sleep on a mattress from The Gypsy Moth. Re-arrange stuff, I say. You wouldn’t be a allowed. It’s precious archive material from Sir Francis Chichester’s round-the world-voyage, says Helen. I’d ask.

Charred wood and glass. Revolving studio space. Don’t know what to expect. What would you like me to do? I’ve got some ideas, says Helen.
I hunker down for a warm night, with my dog Ghyllie, giant stacks of chairs and a couple of museum models from Shipwright school. I have dreadful nightmares. What black events can have happened here? Poor Ghyllie did you dream them too?

In the morning before people come to the slipway, I am to wade into the water. The black dress will float, my hair will float, the props will float.
Are you sure you want to do this? Helen will say.
She will place her props.
There’s a hairdryer in her room.

Thermal top, jeggings, wellie boots.
Wavy hair dropping back onto black back,arms salute the sun.
It looks yogic, says Helen. But it’s not yogic inside, it hurts.
Yes like that, hold it there. You are a good model, says Helen whle I rest.
The others say is this right? Is this how you want me? But you help.
Now you Helen, your turn to model.
Reeds, red, blue,rays of sunlight. Swish. Things coming together.

Red disc, white clouds, pale reeds.Looks like savannah.
Lie back, d’you mind?
Twin suns.
She shades her eyes
I prise the red lenses from her fingers,
Rest them on her palms.
Large hands, small white lipsticked face.
You look a mix of seductive and evil.
There is blood on my hands, she says.

Before I leave we flick through our photo shoot of the day.
We have made purple, says Helen.
Made purple?
Youve not heard the expression?
No, I never heard it. What’s it mean?
Something came together in that moment.
Magic happens.

I remember Dreaming Place with Claire.

http://www.lookinlookout.org/helen-snell

The Observatory is currently at Buckler’s Hard, Beaulieu in the New Forest National park, England, until June 2017

Artist Schedule
Ella Frears – 16th – 20th Nov and 6th – 20th Dec
Helen Snell – 2nd of January to 24th of February 2017
Christine Mackey – 12th of March to 28th of April 2017

Collaborative Drawing, 2nd Series – Drawing #4

Drawing #4

Drawing #4

Pilgrim Tales: The Brazilians and Kelly

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“Belleza!!”

Our eyes open to four pairs of walking boots, eight pairs of black thermal legs topped by shorts.

“Erphff”

Too many people, too close, too early. Windmills  thrum in my head. I plunk my face back down into dew.

” It’s the B..r…a…Z….i….l…l…e….ñ…o…..s ” says Mark.

I raise my upper body inside my sleeping bag and waterproof layer, cobra like. Four Brazillians beam down at us like grinning gods.

“Bellezzzza” say the Gods.

We smile as widely as we are able at 6 am and utter the magic words”Buen Camino” and the Brazilians tramp off into the rising mist.

“Lets get up quick, before the next wave”says Mark.

And so it is that as a new pilgrim enters our domain we are up and dressed and eating a fine breakfast of cereal bars and figs.

“Oh man. This IS BEAUTIFUL” exclaims an American male. “NATUR- RAL PEEPO” he coos.

“Hellllll ooooooo!!!”

The pilgrim moves off the track and onto our campspot.

“I’m Kelly….. It’s good to meeeet yoouuuu…. what’s yoourrr naaaame”? he extends his hand towards me.

“Anna” I say.

” I looooove you uuu….Aaanna” he purrs.

“Oh God!” I think “he’s going to hug me”. And he does. Oh NO!!  It’s Mark ‘s turn to get hugged. Not sure he’s into stranger hugs.

“What’s youuurrrrr naaaaame?” asks Kelly

“Mark” says Mark.

“I looooove yoouuu Maaaarrrrrkk !”

” I love youuu Kelly!” says Mark.

Kelly gestures towards our camping gear laid out by the wayside.

“I looooove yourrrrrr Caaaamino sssstyyyyle” he says “Yoouuuur such beeeeeauuuutifullllll peeeeeoople.”

The windmills whir and slim, tanned, clean cut Kelly tells us he is from Hawaii and began his Camino in Saint Tropez, France. He tells us how he has ditched most of his gear including his music, tent and other essentials. How he is travelling light, sleeping out under the stars wrapped in a shower curtain.

“What d’you do back home” we ask, intrigued.

” I do this for a living?” he says “Don’t we have a choice”?

And off Kelly trots into his neat little future.

“Preacher man” says Mark

“Millionaire?” says me.

—————————————————————————————————————————-

At lunchtime we see Kelly sitting yogi like before a statue of The Virgin, his world laid out in the sunshine to dry on a stone bench.

—————————————————————————————————————————

In the old world Camino town of Santo Domingo de la Calzada we wash a bag of cherries in a cool  “fuente” and just around the corner we spot Kelly on the terrace of a busy pilgrim bar.

Kelly opens his arms wide “Helooooo Natuuuuural peeeeople” he says standing to hug us in turn.

“How are you doing”? says Mark.

“Oh I’m resting today” says Kelly” I’m gonna hangout in this cafe’s all day with PILGRIMS”

” You okay Kelly?  I ask.

“Everything! hurts ” says Kelly his eyes swivelling towards buttocks, thighs, calves, ankles, feet.

” Yeah best to rest up here then ” we say “Hasta luego Kelly, have fun”

“Buen Camino Natural people” says Kelly.

(This is a one of series of pilgrim stories by Anna about her experiences with Mark on the Camino de Santiago Pilgrim Trail in Northern Spain).

Pilgrim Tales: “Bin Laden” Paulino and Felisa

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We arrive at The Bodega de Irache on the Camino de Santiago Pilgrim trail in Northern Spain hot and parched. The iron gates of the fabled “Fuente de Vino” are closed and a dishevelled pilgrim and his dog are occupying the space behind them.

“Come in and have a drink! I am Bin Laden and this is my dog  Cana”.

We accept the invitation and push open the gate to enter the domain of the Bodega webcam. The dog “Cana”  licks our hands  and “Bin Laden” whose real name is Pedro offers to take our photos. We pose, while first water then wine runs into our thirsty mouths and washes over  our hands.  What a crazy good tasting and generous tap!

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“Felisa has her own stamp” says the guide book. Like other Pilgrims on The Camino de Santiago pilgrim trail we are collecting Camino stamps at hostels, bars and churches as proof of our journey. When we arrive at Santiago our full passport will swapped for a certificate.

“You are famous” we say as we approach a wayside stall on the track that leads into Logroño.

We ask Felisa for her photo and she poses smiling behind her stall.As well as her own stamp La señora Felisa offers sugar depleted pilgrims fresh figs, if the season and the weather are right.

“These days the weather has gone mad,¨ she says. It´s  too wet and the figs rot on the trees or it´s too hot and dry.¨

¨It never used to be like this in my mothers time¨she adds.

Her mother, who is the real Felisa¨… the celebrated Señora Felisa of the figs, water and love is reputed to have  spent her daylight hours attending to weary pilgrims, offering  them ¨Higos  Agua and  Amor” in the service of God and humanity.  Sadly her daughter tells us that La Señora Felisa  has passed away and the responsibility falls on her, Felisa’s daughter to offer hospitality to Pilgrims outside the family home in memory of her mother.

Paulinos shade shack

Paulino’s home-made wayside shade-shack has everything we need to make us happy. Our needs are few;  water, shade, a snack and a place to rest. We fill our bottles and sip pure coolness before picking up a stone to crack open walnuts of hospitality.

“Thankyou Paulino… your good health!” In our mind’s eye we see Paulino in his veg garden waving a hoe.

“Buen Camino” we think we hear him say.

Many thousands of pilgrims drink from Paulino’s Well on their way to Santiago de Compostella, so  if all of them leave him gratitude, the pool will overflow.

(This story is the second in a series of stories Anna is writing about pilgrims she and Mark met on The Camino de Santiago Pilgrim Trail in Northern Spain).

Pilgrim Tales from the Camino: Roxanne, Chupito and the dream cloud vision

Roxanne and Lisa

“Hello big dog¨.

A gentle giant pads into our field of vision as we enjoy a perfect afternoon on the lakeside at Logroño. And two German girls with monster rucksacks shout out a cheery “Hola”.

“How’s your dog like the Camino”? we ask them.”Roxy’s not used to long walks” replies the tall one in Spanish.

“Her feet feet are a bit sore, so we’re taking it really slow “. Mmm… its not so easy to do the Camino with a dog then?”

“Camino hostels won’t take Roxy so we sleep outdoors under a kind of a shelter… its called A TARP?” she says TARP in English. We nod.

“Oh yes we know… a  TARP.

“Great” we say”, but your pack must be heavy with all that dog food”!

“My parents wanted me to bring the dog,she’s mine. They weren’t happy for me to travel alone, so they told me I had to take Roxanne”.

“She’s a lovely dog” we reply as we pat Roxy’s wide head. Her eyes roll upwards to meet our touch.

“Buen Camino” we say by way of goodbye.

“Buen Camino” echo the girls as Roxy pulls them sharply towards cool lake water.

“Oh I wish we had Ghyllie here”  says Mark.” I miss him sooo.”

We  meet up with Roxanne and Lisa again on our way into Burgos. Roxy is pleased to see us.

“Where’s your friend”? we ask .”Friend?… Oh she was just someone I was walking with. She’s German and so is my mum so we chatted a while then we went our separate ways.

Roxanne is the kind of dog that protects sheep in Italy and she keeps us closely bunched together while we have a lively chat all the way from the city limits into the centre. What are her motivations for coming on the Camino, we wonder. Lisa has a happy home, she says, living in the country with her parents, dogs and  horses. She helps her dad out with forestry, but…

“I am a dropper outer” she confides. “Really”? “We are genuinly surprised.

“I can’t stick anything, I start things, but I leave, I don’t know what I want to do and thats why I’m on the Camino”.

“Yeah” says Mark “You can forget everything else but the walk” for The Camino has this effect on him.

“No, it’s the exact opposite”, says Lisa.”Travelling on my own gives me time to think. My mind is full of home, my family, my problems. I’ve had lots of time to go back over my life and think about it. Its a real help”.

“But you haven’t dropped out of THE CAMINO,” we say.” Bet your parents didn’t think you’d stick it out”!

“Yeah they’re really surprised, they can’t believe it”.

“You see your a sticker outer now. You’ve changed” I say. Lisa tells us she wouldn’t have been here now had it not been for a stranger she’d met along the way.

“I left my car at Somport in the Pyreneesand began to walk but I hated it. After just a few days I wanted to leave, just stop. It was awful, but I met a German man, a pilgrim. He was very stern. He gave me a BIG telling off.

“Your life is too easy,” he said ” You’re a really spoilt kid, when the going gets tough you just drop out. It’s disgraceful. Life’s not like that, you’ve got to put up with discomfort and persevere. Stop making a big fuss, pull yourself together and get on with it. People don’t want to hear your moaning.” “So I gave it another go.” Lisa smiles and we laugh together.

“I have that man to thank. It was just what I needed. He was right and here I am”.

“You must be proud of yourself “we say and tell her how brilliantly she’s done. We feel as proud as parents. “You are an inspiration to my younger self!” I say.  

Chupito and Marlene

We are eating lunch on a pleasant hill-side under pines when a girl appears with a donkey. Our eyes follow their slow progress down the hill.

“Why d’you reckon they’re going contra-flow? I ask Mark. “I dunno” Mark replies. ” She’s got dreads” I say.

“Yeah” says Mark.

“I’m going to say hello” I say as I leap to my feet sandwich in hand ” I’m going to find out her story”.

I dash along the hill-top barefoot. Great they’ve stopped on the track for a chat with some pilgrims. ” Wait” I shout . ….  as the pilgrims hand her something and part. I call out to her  in Spanish as I make my way down the prickly incline. “I want to say Hello”!

The girl is in her twenties, she has light leather sandals and a lime-green day pack. She looks a bit bewildered. I jump out onto the trail in front of her like a bandit.

“Can I say hello to your donkey”?

The donkey is one of those big dark brown ones with soft eyes and he’s laden with a traditional set of woven paniers, he is un-startled at my breathy approach. “Can I give your donkey a bite of my bocadillo”? Velvet lips are reaching gently for my sandwich.

“Here” says the girl and hands me a piece of the crispiest toastiest sun-dried bread flipped out from under the pommel of the saddlepack. “This is better for him”. I feed the toast to the grateful donkey.

“What’s his name ?” …. ” Is he a donkey or a mule?

” He’s Chupito and he’s a mule” says the girl.

She is patient and kind though, she says, they’ve met more than 600 people in the six weeks they’ve been travelling from Santiago and they all want to pet Chupito. She says she is Marlene, is French and No she doesn’t live on the Camino.

“This is just a” viaje- a trip!

She tells me how she bought Chupito in Andalusia.”He was “muy barato”she says repeating the words “muy barato”very cheap for emphasis. Poor Chupito, it turns out that the price was low because he was deranged. He’d had been badly treated and didn’t trust anyone.

“He was actually really dangerous when we set out” says Marlene. But we’ve been together all the time, we trust each other and he’s a very good mule now.”

“But… what will happen to Chupito at the end of your journey ?” I ask, concerned.

“He’s  going to live at a monastery run by Buddhist nuns! The nuns are really kind and they’ll care for him in a meadow they have there. ”

We smile with relief at the happy ending of Chupito’s tale.

Marlene opens her palm to reveal three gold coins. LOOK I’ve got money. ” she says “I’m going into town for a COFFEE”!

The Camino Dreamcloud Vision

It’s late evening and our map shows a campspot  between us and the autopista. An all-terrain vehicle is raising dust further down the trail.

¨I think they´re going to camp there. Let’s go to the next camp-spot.”

We watch as two men get out of the truck and mosey around the campspot. “What d’you think they are doing?”I ask Mark.

“I dunno” says Mark.

Soon they are back in the car and making a new trail of dust back up tthe hill towards the setting sun. They turn around at a huge stack of barley straw and once again descend the hll in our direction.

“What’s going on?” I say, as they drive our way.

As they pass us they stop and hang out of the window to apologise for raising such a dust storm with their comings and goings.

“Have you seen the boy and the girl? Says the tall dark-haired guy in American English. “No! ” Which Boy and which Girl”?

We are puzzled.

“The ones with a horse and a dog” they say.

“We haven’t seen any teenagers walking the Camino.”No” we say. ‘We haven’t seen them with a horse and a dog.”

Driver and passenger turn, so they can look back up the hill. Small figures are coming down the trail.

“They’ll be here soon. We’re their support vehicle” say the men”.We’ve been down to check out the camp-spot. It’s nice and quiet.”

“So…. who are THEY”?  says Mark curious “What’s their story?”

“They are two teenagers with really severe behavioural difficulties. The idea is they have each rescued an animal from an animal sanctuary in Andalusia and walked with them along the Via de la Plata pilgrim trail to Santiago.We’re piloting a scheme to see if we can help kids with these kinds of problems. If it works then the government will roll it out. They’ve been walking for six weeks. There’s a social worker with them, they are camping along the route and we are carrying the gear, food and so  on in the back-up vehicle”.

The back of their vehicle is full of stuff.

“So..um…where are they walking to”?

“Oh” says the driver who has a grey stubbly beard and sounds German.”They’re walking over the Pyrenees to Germany”.

It sounds as if he’s telling us that the children will be walking over the hill to the next village.

“They are walking to Germany”?We look at each other and back to them in disbelief.

“Yes, Germany, we hope they’ll be cured when they arrive.Oh excuse us, we’ve gotta go they mustn’t see us talking to you.” says the American. “Buen Camino”!

“Buen Camino” we reply.

The driver hits the accelerator and they are gone leaving a white puffy cloud  shortly to be filled by a blonde girl on a snow white horse, a woman with a pack, a spotty boy with an inward looking gaze and a striking blue-eyed dog in a neckachief.

“Buen Camino” we say to them, but they inhabit another dimension and don’t hear us. As they pass by the pony breaks into trot and the girl shrieks clutching the mane. No bridle, no saddle, no collar, a holy-vision bathed in straw-coloured evening light. Our eyes fill with tears at the wondrous beauty of it all.

“I wonder how long it will be” says Mark “before they can begin to trust people again?”

Pilgrim Tales : Serge, Jonno and Charlie

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANear Logroño the silouette of a knight pokes the air with his sword. He carries an old frame style backpack and is bent to one-side by the pendulous weight of a black plastic sack. As we approach the knight’s sword arm flies as his sword pecks up a tissue, a crisp packet, a water bottle and drop them into the bag.

“Buen Camino” says the knight.

“Buen Camino ” we reply and “Will you be dumping that outside the townhall ?” I point a finger at the litter filled black sack. “No” says the man through bushy hair and beard . “When I get to  town,  I’ll put it in a the first BIN  I see¨ he says.

This pilgrim has a pure heart.

We have been genuinely impressed by the cleanliness of the Camino since our start point in the squeaky clean northern city of Pamplona. So pilgrims doooo drop litter  after all. We are scarred but we need not worry for this pilgrim is a saint and he picks up what others have dropped.

“A clean camino is a wonderful thing.” We say! “Where are you from ?” I ask.

” I’m Serge and I’m French” says the pilgrim.

We ask as politely as its possible to ask a really nosey question ¨Are you on the Camino because you’re homeless”?

 “I have a home” says Serge, but after my first “Camino” I went back there to France and It didn’t feel right, it wasn’t for me any longer, so I came back here and made the Camino my home. I had found my MISSION !”

Holy smoke a holy litter-picking knight!! Stories travel the Camino as pilgrim currency and Serge has entered into Camino legend.

Further along the trail as we pass through a field gate near the village of Tosantos, we meet  a couple of young Laurie Lees in revolutionary beards and khaki shorts. They carry half drunk bottles of red wine and walk with sticks cut from the hedge; good companions who have met along the way and will continue together to Santiago. Jonno says he’s from Sydney  though he sounds English and Charlie says he’s a Scot though he too sounds English.

“I’m mixed up” he says.”

You must have been to boarding school then!” I say.

“No,” says Charlie,” I was brought up in Cyprus, but my parents split up and we came home”.

Charlie tells us how he has grown up with his dad’s stories of the romance of the Camino. My dad came here himself as a young man, way back in the eighties. It was different times then, fewer pilgrims, it wasn’t a tourist destination.”

He tells us how his dad and a friend had been working on a building site when over their sandwiches at lunch one day they decided it would be fun to go to the Pyrenees. They’d get there by hitching rides. Charlie’s dad had a lot of luck and arrived in just two days, but his friend wasn’t so fortunate and took ten whole days, by which time they were both out of money. The story goes that they walked up the mountain and became lost in a storm, coming down on the wrong side of the mountain into Spain.

“Are you doing the Camino?” people would ask.

There were few pilgrims back then and Charlie’s dad and his friend had such high novelty value they were Invited into the homes of old ladies to eat. And won over by the lure of hot dinners and the kindness of locals they became pilgrims and walked all the way to Santiago de Compostella. It was an experience that changed Charlie’s dad’s view of the world.

Such is the Lure of “The Camino” that when Charlie’s dad became a father he wanted to come back with his son. Now Charlie, has got the bug and tells us he is quitting his temporary job in Scotland to finish the Camino with his new friend Jonno. Before we leave these Camino adventurers we share Camino stories about the way this ancient pilgrim track lures travellers back, sometimes time and time again.  Jonno tells us he’d met a French guy who has done the Camino Pilgrim Trail twenty seven times.

So that would be Serge the litter-picker,  the frenchman with a mission!

This blogstory is one of several by Anna is writing about her experiences with Mark on the Camino de Santiago Pilgrim Trail in Northern Spain.

Pilgrim Tales: Paul Murphy MEP and dreaming place

“It’s 35 degrees Centigrade and the sky is black with thunder as we exit a bar in Villa Franca de Oca. We carry fresh “bocadillos” in our packs and hot mint tea and we’ll walk ’till dusk.

“I think we’re in for our first storm” I say.

” Maybe….” says Mark

Last night we had a wilderness experience off the beaten track; two sleepy  sillouettes on a starry hilltop  with a happy soundtrack of cowbells and frogs. And tonight we’ll sleep under a natural canopy in the Forest of “Oca” (Goose in Spanish).

” D’ya think we’re MAD? ” I say as we head off together, up a steep and stony path.

“Probably…” says Mark.

When we reach an interpretation panel by the wayside, we stop to have a look.

“Look” I say “There are Brown bears and ….. ”  my eyes open wide and my eyebrows shoot up.

“and… Wolves….!!!!”

“Mmmm… ”  says Mark

Back home in Devon my mum emailed me to say “Be careful of wolves on the forest tracks”

“What makes you think there are WOLVES? on the Camino? ” I tell her.

An almighty crack shatters the peace and tranquility of the Camino and the sky splinters into shards.

” A proper attack of aniseed balls” I say while the weather pummels our heads and necks as we run for the woods.

We cosy up under the tarp next to one massive deciduous oak.

“It’s almost fun” I say daring the storm.

We follow the trail upward and just as rain begins to fall, a perfect shelter pops up magically from the track. At the back of this welcome rain-shade is a lone pilgrim.

“I hope he doesn’t mind” says Mark as we head into dry-space.

“I’d do the Camino just for the VIEWS ?” says the sitting man bewitched by the panorama.

“I started out with my girlfriend” he tells us “but the Camino’s not for her”.

” Oh?” says Mark.

“Her pack was too heavy and she wasn’t enjoying it. She had to go back to work”

Our shelter companion for the duration of the rain is Paul Murphy.

” I’m an MEP” says Paul ,”for the Irish Socialist Party”.  ” I’ve just  lost my seat in Brussels so I’m out of a job in a week.”

We find we know nothing about members of the European parliament so Paul fills us in. “MEPs earn 90.000 Euro a year. ” he says.  Now that’s a big incentive .

“As MEP’s we get 300 Euros per day every day we attend Parliament. Just for turning up”

” hmmm” says Mark.”Seems a lot”.

” But…..” says Paul “As a member of the Irish Socialist Party we pay ourselves the average national youth wage for Ireland.”

“The youth wage?  I ask ” The YOUTH wage says Mark.

It’s still raining so Paul chats on. He’s signed in at a hostel for the night and has come out without his rain jacket . Luckily he has a lot of stories and is happy to share them with us. He is a persona non-grata in a couple of states. He was part of the flotilla taking supplies into Gaza, he was captured at gun point and ended up an Israeli jail, so he’s not very popular there.

“What was it liiiiike in Prison?” I ask my eyes popping.

“Oh” he says ” It was muuch better  than the yacht.” ” I was so seasick, it was really horrible.”

We couldn’t have dreamed up a more humble and engaging pilgrim to be holed up with in the rain. And he has more stories.

“I helped broker a deal for striking miners in Kazakstahn” he tells us.

“You’re an activist” then?”

“Yes” says Paul “My party brokered an agreement between the government and the striking miners”

We smile expectant.

“But as soon as we left the country the miners were shot!”

We digest the news as rain drums on the roof above.

And before the rain ceases there is time to tell Paul about Claire and me about DREAMING PLACE and how we took Radio Dreaming back to play to Mary-Jane and other participants in Ireland in our Place-dreamer Pod and what a lot of effort went into the Kickstarter campaign.

” And did Mary-Jane get to hear Radio Dreaming at her homestead” says Paul.

” Yes she did!” in his mind’s eye an old lady is a-listening in the Pod, her eyes alight with dreams.

Our rainy meeting in the pop-up shelter on The Camino has conjoured up diverse visons. And now it’s time for Paul to head back down to his hostel for the night.

“What time are you up in the morning” he asks us as he gets up to go.

“Oh about 7.30 or  8.00 a.m”

Though the storm has moved away we decide to stay the night in the shelter. Its just too good to miss. So we eat our bocadillos, drink the lovely hot tea and lay our bags out for the night in this Camino dreaming place.

“D’you think the bins’ll lure in hungry wolves “I say.

“Yup says Mark.

Now he puts on his wooly hat.

“Buenas Noches” he says and he’s asleep.

In the morning we set off along a steaming trail into the big woods.

“Red riding hood would have been safe here ” I say, for the mystery of the wood is lost on the grit causeway the Camino has become.We gravitate to a pilgrim friendly ditch by the side of the Super-Camino where we walk in single file.

“I passed by for you  at seven thirty ” says a voice from trail “but you’d already gone!”

“We had the Mother of  all Storms in the night.” calls up Mark cheerily from inside the ditch.

This blogstory is one of several by Anna is writing about her journey with Mark on the Camino de Santiago Pilgrim Trail in Northern Spain.

Paul Murphy is AAA (Anti- Austerity – Alliance) Member of Parliament for Dublin South West.  Paul’s website.

Find out about Paul’s popular AAA campaign to scrap water charges in Ireland .

Tales from the “Camino de Santiago” Pilgrim Trail.

P6150062As we rove the hills, mountains and villages of our “project-lands” around the world we meet with the wisdom and  kindness of strangers.

So too on “The Camino de Santiago Pilgrim Trail” in Northern Spain, Mark and I encounter  many inspiring and interesting people and Mark records their names on a hand-carved “tally stick” as a momento. I have added my own titles to their names to help me remember them.

Daniel the Courageous, Paulino of the Well, Serg the litter picker, Felisa of the Figs, Girl and boy with horse and dog. Mother and daughter Pila and Raquel, Irish politician Paul, Young Lisa and dog Roxanne, Eduardo Keeper of  caves and his Wife.

(and what about the girl and her mule “Chupito”maybe the stick was too short, Mark?)

I’m eager to share stories of some of the pilgrims we have met and I’ll start with the story of Daniel the Courageous.

DANIEL THE COURAGEOUS.

Waves of  barley break over the low-wild hills of Navarra to our left as a we catch up with another pilgrim. There is something about his lurching gait….that worries us.

“Oh my God,” says Mark. “Heart attack?” I reply.  The man stumbles again.  Mark is off…running  to his aid.  “Are  you alright?” he has real concern in his voice. The man is calm “No es nadam, estoy bien,” he says.

“How can we help? ” Mark replies.

“Here.” He passes over our water bottle. “Have some water.” The man is clearly exhausted, dying perhaps, beads of sweat on his forehead.

“What to do?” We look at each other for inspiration.

“Estoy muy bien, muchas gracias” repeats the man quietly, slowly.

A fellow pilgrim is suffering, we won’t leave him to his fate here on the dusty track. Mark asks him again how we can help.  He waves a tube of suntan lotion.  “Gracias,” he says shaking his head. “Estoy muy bien.” “You should rest a bit in the shade, its too hot,”  we say.   The man looks at us sympathetically then extends his hand in friendship.

“Soy Daniel” he says quietly.

We want to hear more so we lean in towards him and watch his lips. “Tengo Parkinsons”  says Daniel. We read his message loud and clear.

“PARKINSONS?” we gasp incredulous.

“But you are walking THE CAMINOOO and you have PARKINSONS ?”

Daniel is on a roll. “Voy a Burgos,” he says !! It turns out that Daniel is walking the whole Camino ,but like us he is doing it in stages.

“Oh my god.” “This is amazing “!! ” You are incredible” we say with English understatement. Meeting Daniel is awe – inspiring. We will NEVER complain AGAIN !!!

We wish him well shouting” Buen Camino” as we  pace off towards the horizon. But soon the violent glare of the sun forces us to stop and we sit out the siesta hours in the shade of poplars.

AND …. after a while who should  come down the lane but our friend DANIEL. If Santiago himself had just caught us up with us we would have been less surprised.  We run out into the sunshine to greet him.

He smiles and  begins to fumble in his bumbag. We watch his fingers struggle with the zip and search for a paper. He hands over his photocopied details in English, French and German.  “I am Daniel. I have  Parkinsons” says the English version.  We fold the paper with his contact details and tuck it away in Mark’s pack.  We want to join Daniel’s fan club.

“We’ll email when we get home ” we say. But Daniel is not finished. He tells us how his motor-biking companions bugged him to visit the doctor when he simply thought he was getting old. He got his diagnosis some years back and decided to do the Camino.

We wish Daniel well as he sets off again. The sun is still way too hot for us so we’ll catch him up later.The funny things is that we never do. Daniel is the tortoise and we are  the hare.

This blogstory is one of several by Anna is writing about her journey with Mark on the Camino de Santiago Pilgrim Trail in Northern Spain.

Inhabiting the dream: postcard 27

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Shampoo, a shrine and a pop-up shelter

P6090036 What to pack in your rucksack and what to leave out  is the all time Big  Camino Question. I wanted to enjoy walking  but not to suffer too much discomfort and I knew that getting it right might make or break our trip so it was essential to pack well. Choices re pack size and content should depend on accommodation not strength. This might be in hostels, pensions or Paradors, the luxury Spanish hotels. We chose to sleep by the wayside under the stars oblivious to the large wolf packs that still roam Northern Spain.  The guide book suggests a medium size rucksack, if you use a large pack it warns, you’ll be tempted to fill it up!Most of those carrying big rucksacks on this trail are men and this observation made me feel a bit smug at times as  I had ditched  my ipad, phone, camera reading glasses, shampoo, conditioner and face cream during the packing process at home.

Camping gas turned out to be a burdensome luxury, so after a few days Mark gifted it, unopened, to the owner of a hostel whose “Camino ” stamp was a red beating heart. Though we survived without hot food, we still had to carry the small aluminium pan and stove top as they were expensive and we’d be needing them back home. Mark made a shrine to the Camino from a pair of boots he decided he didn’t need. He continued along the way in sandals!

boots Sleeping well  is important, so the majority of space inside my pack was dedicated to the art of sleep. My luxury bedding choice consisted of a very tiny, very posh, very orange super – lightweight, self inflating sleeping mat and my beloved down sleeping bag, which folds down to almost nothing. Next a khaki coloured bivvy bag to protect from rain and dew and a cheap and cheerful rolly mat for insulation, geat also for yoga, siestas and a picnic. My first aid kit is disproportionally large, complete with essential oils to heal wounds and keep bugs and bigger things at bay, arnica gel for aches and pains, homeopathic remedies for toothache, the shits, injuries and rescue remedy for and just about anything else. I packed my black rain jacket that has a dodgy zip, but left my rain trousers at home. I’d wear my skirt in the rain and dry it once the sun came out.

Actually we were lucky and only got wet once.  Pumelled by giant hailstones Mark and I cosied under the good old DREAMING PLACE mat,  beneath the mightiest oak in the forest. Though lightning streaked down on all sides the oak didn’t get hit. Later a man made shelter popped  up magically out of the forest by the trail side, as the thunder rolled and the rain re-commenced.  It had a bench, a waste bin and a sitting man called Paul Murphy; an activitst and MEP for the Irish socialist party  We couldn’t have packed a more interesting and entertaining companion for a rainy afternoon in the wilds.

This blogstory is one of several by Anna is writing about her journey with Mark on the Camino de Santiago Pilgrim Trail in Northern Spain.

Our Camino de Santiago


Wayside campspot

Mark and I  started our” Camino”  experience at Pamplona bus station by a star shaped fort they have there.  A grandfather became our first guide directing us towards a tree with a yellow arrow. The way  may also be marked by a  shell icon.

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If you are uncertain or have ventured off the official route  someone magically pops up to show you the way.  On one of our frequent diversions,  three generations of women were waiting  for us outside their home to point us in the direction of the next “aldea”. They chatted with us as they walked  us over the hill and around the corner to make sure we didn’t get lost, wished us “Buen Camimo”, planted kisses on our cheeks and were gone.

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The  John Brierley guide book to the way of St James has become a bible for English speakers and many follow the suggested stages, making particular hostels more busy than others. Also known as “The Camino Francés” this popular  pilgrim route starts at St Jean Pied a Port in the northern Pyrenees, but you can start your pilgrimage anywhere, from a train or bus station in Spain or France or from your own doorstep.  We met a man who has been on “The Camino” for 12 years and it has become his home. He has walked it 27 times. The pilgrim trail measures just  780k  from St Jean to Santiago so it could easily take  4 -5 weeks.

We spent only ten days and nights on the Camino because this holiday was  a simple ” go see” trip for us. We plan to do the full Camino (Frances) next year and will be allowing forty days and forty nights, leaving plenty of time for excursions and rest days.  You will remember that Claire and I chose this biblical sounding time frame for our DREAMING PLACE project and it kind of suits this pilgrimage,  don’t you think?

P6160079Most  pilgrims we met came on their own and have many different sorts of motivation and stories. I’ll be telling you about some of them in subsequent blogs. Pilgrims of the Camino  generally travel on foot, carrying their own packs and  sleep and eat in hostels.  Some do the journey on bikes and we met a man from Germany cycling  contra -flow, whose pilgrimage had begun in Portugal, he’d already reached  Santiago de Compostela and was going on to Lourdes.

There are a total of around 200.000 pilgrims per year which seems a lot, some use different routes but in any case you only meet a small proportion of these people, so don’t let numbers put you off. Our main challenge was the very powerful sun that shone nearly the whole time,  so we split our day in two parts, resting up in the shade for a giant siesta each day and walking on into the evening. We  really enjoyed the company of strangers and spent part of each day walking and talking with others, we were particularly grateful to them because we chose to stay by the wayside in bivvy bags we missed out on the famed communal meals, which are also great for sharing and exchange.

Many pilgrims show their status by hanging an outsize cockle shell from their back pack.  We carried snail shell talismans to inspire us in the art of SLOW TRAVEL.

Though I was not officially “on project” and  this trip wasn’t conceived as an art work. Our experience of the Camino was deep and rewarding and had elements of DREAMING PLACE. We even carried the Red and Silver DREAMING PLACE mat that Claire brought with her from New Mexico for our Dreaming in Ireland. As the Camino passes through homelands inhabited by foxes, genet, wild cats, European Bison, brown bears and wolves, we further protected our camp spot with drops of lavender hoping to deter any beasties small enough to enter our sleeping bags.  We never woke up with a bison in our bags so it really does work.

As in our off-grid experience in Ireland we came to remember once again the importance of food, water, shelter and  to feel again the kindness of strangers.

We walked and talked with “perigrinos” from  France, Catalonia, Korea, Ireland, Scotland, Australia, Spain, Germany, Italy, America and Brazil in both the English and Spanish language.  Our path took us through oak forests, barley fields, olive groves and industrial zones. We saw deer, quails, partridges, hops, barley and many wild flowers. We are in love with the Camino its flora, fauna, diversity and hospitality. So watch this space for anecdotes, stories, adventures and mabye even a song.

 

Dreaming on the Camino

walking boots

During both our journeys (DREAMING PLACE Residency in 2011 and Place-Dreamer Pod Tour in 2013), conversations about dreaming, journeys and slow travel led to at least three lengthy discussions about walking El Camino de Santiago in Northern Spain. We both share a fascination with pilgrimage and walking, so we were eager to hear about people’s experiences on this very famous traditional route of walking pilgrimage.

Here is Janet McAllister sharing a brief reflection on her experience walking the Camino:

We also thoroughly enjoyed talking with Janie Crone and Susan Hughes, both Camino walkers. You can read about Susan’s experiences on the Camino HERE.

NOW…..Anna and Mark (Anna’s husband) are currently finishing their own trip to walk a section of the “Camino.” They were planning to go either from Pamplona to Logrono or Logrono to Burgos….when they return from their journey we can look forward to hearing about which route they chose as well as some reflections on their journey and perhaps some dreams as well!

Place-Dreamer Pod at “Renewable Energy Market Place”

Place -dreamer pod Anna (representing both ClaireandAnna and Encounters) will be taking the Place-Dreamer Pod out of its Compton den on Tuesday 8th April for the Renewable Energy Market Place at Westpoint Arena, Exeter, Devon.

We were invited to participate as an exhibitor in this renewable energy expo by Chloe Uden of Regen Southwest. Billed as “Self-sufficiency and the power of dreams” our interactive art installation presents “Radio Dreaming Off-grid Part 1 & 2”, which will be playing inside the Pod as well as our expanding collection of props to spark conversations around renewable energy and sustainable lifestyles.

Some of the props visitors might stumble upon in and around the pod will include our trusty Kelly Kettle and driftwood kindling, camping gas stove, solar panels facing south, and new props to spur conversation about clean, dirty and potential fuels,  ie. bottle of bluegreen algae, seaweed, turf, wood, coal, plastic, hemp oil, dandelion head, plants, fermented foods.

If you’re in the Devon area, come and check out the Pod! More info on the event here. If you’re out of range, have no fear, we’ll be doing a follow-up post rich with images for all you eager readers wanting a report on our experience.

Inhabiting the dream: postcard 14

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Place-Dreamer Pod on Cavan TV

While sitting in the Tesco Carpark in Cavan Town with the Pod dodging rain showers and waiting for visitors, a crew from Cavan TV rolled up!

Check out the following feature on the Pod Tour as it appeared on “Fashion and Lifestyle” with Siohban Harton, which is featured on on Cavan TV and is a part of Drumlin Media

Dreaming place with our Pod Tour

Like a faithful pet our little pod follows us to outlying homesteads, castles, museums, lakes and windy hilltops, providing refuge to all sorts of people and their dreams. With its gleaming shell, comfy sofa and tool-kit of unusual props the pod  becomes a vibrant hub of dialogue, music , ideas and laughter.

In the coming months we’ll be creating  Episode 5 from audio footage gathered on the island of Ireland so completing our  Radio Dreaming series. Look out for news of broadcasts on Community radio stations around the world.

A pod party is a great way to make art in outlying areas.

A pod party is a great way to make art in outlying areas.

Inhabiting the dream

We are home after a month long launch journey to the homeplace of Radio Dreaming.

Inhabiting their Geopark dream has been fun, engaging and rewarding. Novel encounters with audience participants have included honey bees, Jehova Witnesses and an upturned boat.

Though we were rained on quite a bit, our big thank you to the people, places, creatures and things of Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark has left us with an inspiring afterglow.

And its definitely been worth the effort and all the hassles with funding. Our solar panels worked a treat and it has is been a fabulous way to celebrate Cultural Heritage, Geology and the Arts.

Radio Dreaming at Shannon Pot

Out and About the Geopark with our Pod today we visit Margaret’s cottage near Boho

We dropped by to see Margaret Gallagher at her traditional Irish Cottage

We dropped by to see Margaret Gallagher at her traditional Irish Cottage

Today we are out and about in the Geopark, making impromptu stops at beauty spots, lakes and forests. We’ll be serving tea to passers by and inviting them to step aboard!

Crom artifacts

The cliffs of Magho, Co. Fermanagh

CliffsofMahgo

We have been looking forward to re-visiting the cliffs of Magho, for its panoramic views across 5 counties, from Donegal bay to County Tyrone and Fermanagh. Our first morning off was experienced in Fermanagh time slowly and luxuriously after our busy rush of appointments and visits.

Yesterday we visited Rob Doyle and Mairead  at their off-grid cottage. After an amazing breakfast in their cosy home we had a tour of their homestead and its off-grid features, including a wind turbine, a water turbine, shitake mushroom plantation, sustainable woodland for coppicing, fantastic homebuilt stove heating system, a veg patch, chickens.IMG_8132

Place-dreamer Pod at the Leitrim Organic Centre, Rossinver

OrganicCentreToday Monday April 29th we are visiting the Organic Centre at Rossinver to get a tour and speak with the staff about their take on off-gridding.  No promises… but we should be around.

Townlands

On Sunday we  turned up at the Organic Centre  a day early  and invited, Lynne who was cooking lunch for participants on the  centre’s”Reed-Bed” course to chat with us in our wee  recording booth pod. In the 80’s Lynne and her partner who knew nothing about horses or life on the road, built a gypsy caravan, bought a horse and off they went, to travel the byways of Ireland. We were interested to hear her story and her reflections about her previous life style, particularly because one of our missions on this trip is to record conversations and sounds for our final Radio Dreaming episode on off-grid dreams and self sufficiency. She regales her kids with stories from that hard but rewarding period of her life when many lessons were learnt and the importance of warmth water and shelter were all important.

Place-Dreamer Pod in Cavan

Courthouse

This week we started off the Radio Dreaming Pod Tour in Cavan town outside the Courthouse, town centre carpark and Bullock Art Centre.

Many of you stopped by on the way out of court to work or the library to admire the pod, climb aboard the pod for a listen or to respond to some of our Place-dreamer props. We heard some wonderful and inspiring stories about boglands,wild food, and hair rinses. And some of you stopped by for  tea with us. Up on the hill traveler children came out to look at our wee caravan and ask for CDs of our episodes for their grannys and grandads. After an interview with local Cavan TV, we were invited on to a boat rally.  Tea and sandwiches  and many stories later later we finished up at Sally’s house to rescue a drowned boat from the lake!

BullockArtCentre

Place-Dreamer Pod Ready for Tour

Radio Dreaming Pod Tour:  Marble Arch Caves Geopark, Éire/Northern Ireland
25 April – 17 May 2013 Claire Coté (New Mexico) and Anna Keleher (Devon)

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Part listening booth, part Place-Dreamer tool-kit, Anna and Claire’s roving off-grid installation features voices of Marble Arch Caves Geopark. A 5-part radio adventure, Radio Dreaming whisks you over-ground and underground in search of edible landscapes, wild dreams and myths of the land. Visitors to the Pod are invited to share a pot of tea, step aboard to listen or simply to dream.

Catch the pod at MAC visitor Centre 5th May 10am-5pm, Enniskillen Castle Museum courtyard, Mon 6th May 10am-5pm, Green Lake opening 15th May, 7-9pm Cavan town or look out for the Place-Dreamer Pod as it tours to off-grid locations in Cavan, Fermanagh and Leitrim through 17th or May.

Visit www.dreamingplace.eu/pod for info and venue updates.

DREAMING PLACE technology collaborative drawing 14 by Claire and Anna

DREAMING PLACE technology collaborative drawing 13 by Claire and Anna

Off-grid Place-Dreamer Pod gets ready to tour

Great news! Our Pod is really coming together. We’ve just had an update from Nigel of Diddyvans Teardrop Trailers. His mate, Rob, has been over to help him put on the Pod’s aluminium “skin”. The wood-burner has been roaring, but even so the freezing weather has meant the varnish has taken an age to dry.

Wood Pod

Pod Skin

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We just love that our off-grid Place-Dreamer Pod will be energy self-sufficient. We’re so looking forward to road testing it. The comfy listening suite inside will be powered by two leisure batteries stowed under the “Pod’s kitchen” hatch. The batteries will be charged by two portable solar panels and on grey days (for which Ireland is famous of course!) through a special plug fitted along with the tow-bar to draw surplus energy from the battery of our towing van, keeping the Pod batteries topped up as we drive from venue to venue.

Batteries
Plugs

What d’you think of it so far?

Help us launch our tour by contributing to our Kickstarter Campaign here!

DREAMING PLACE technology collaborative drawing 12 by Claire and Anna

Mapping Dreams at Killykeagan

Mapping Dreams at Killykeagan

Dreaming of Ancient Ecologies

There are many ways to find out more about a place. You can read up about it, swim in it, ask locals for stories, watch birds or go on a hike.  As artists and Place Dreamers we have invented a tool for use in the field, which gives great insights. We used it a lot at MAC Geopark to help us obtain glimpses the unknown. It happens like this:-

1. We spread our our DREAMING PLACE  mat; a blue ripstop nylon groundsheet that stops ticks from crawling onto us while we dream and keeps out the wet

2. We lie down and look up at the sky

3. We cover our eyes

4. We do nothing

5.We watch as images and sometimes sounds drift into view

6. We record the content of our “dream” either by telling each other about it, writing it down or by making an audio recording

So  here we are on a millstone grit bluff on top of Cuilcagh mountain in the borderlands of Northern Ireland  and Éire. It’s a place as much “on the edge” as anywhere I know. It has magnificent views over tarns and  on the other side of the blanket bogs are incredibly green limestone hills.  I’m speaking into my audio recorder about ancient Cuilcagh ecologies.

Oracular power of a cave

An unexpected acoustic experience at Coolarken Cave at Boho prompts Claire and I to consider the musicality of water in contact with Geology.  Did prehistoric tribal peoples dwelling near the present day village of Boho visit Coolarken cave  to collect  dreams?

Listen here to  our  Coolarkin Cave Musings snippet:

Precognitive drawing: porcupines, caves and nonlinear time

cave-system-

Join us in discussion with Les Brown of Cave Rescue, for musings on precognitive drawing and the momentum of a project. Also not be be missed: discussion of a porcupine in a cave and nonlinear time. (Play audio file below.)

See our previous post and related images similar topics here.

 

DREAMINGPLACE technology collaborative drawing 6 by Claire and Anna

DREAMINGPLACE technology collaborative drawing 1 by Claire and Anna

Chance Encounters

They are what happen when you are not looking. They take you by surprise. They are “gifts from the gods of the moment.” Chance encounters smell of sweet spontaneity, taste of salty saturation, feel like a hand-carved walking stick, sound like the chirp of the oracle wren and look like the two botanists that we happened to meet on our way up Cuilcagh Mountain. They are offspring of time and possibility, cousins to choice and the grandparents of adventure. They are the fruit of diligent openness after a season of true patience. They are people, places, creatures and things met on roads and under bridges; shared thoughts and coincidental gestures. They are a collision of time, place and invisible intention. They are ground for invention and the willingness to fail or be unseen and forgotten. Chance encounters give rise to shared experience, information exchange and sometimes realizations. While they are born of spontaneity, they require attention to be noticed and can be easily missed or “wasted” if eyes are closed or heads are down while walking the great road.

Two Heads are Better Than One

We dreamt our collaboration into existence with 4 legs, 2 noses and 2 x 6th sense.
During our traveling residency, we “dreamed the world” in our own collaborative image by encountering two headed animals.
A two headed, two armed kid on the ferry cavorting up on deck in spitting rain alerted us to our double headed state;
a donkey with two heads watched us pass from an emerald field,
a push-me-pully deer froze our gaze on the banks of Lough Oughter,
a double yellow kayak held us in its smile,
we laughed and cried,
the twin cultures of Cavan (Eire) and Fermanagh (N.Ireland) welcomed us,
we walked a bridge linking  two cultures,
we spoke and were silent,
we dreamed by day and night,
we laughed at the double entendre,
we met Geopark officers from both sides of the border,
we found our way over and underground,
we  listened to two trees  kissing,
we remembered and we forgot,
we were lost and found,
we caught the landscape gazing at its reflection,
we experimented with ancient and modern,
we took photos of each other,
we followed a bifurcation,
we walked a ridge joining two borders,
we looked east and west,
we ate breakfast side by side,
we listened to the voices of two nations,
we spoke and listened,
we matched-up splitting images, played at duppies, captured mirror images with our cameras while the hills reflected in the sky,
we heard the drip, drip of water as it echoed into a cave,
we  dreamt double,
we learned of old and new traditions,
we drew from twin imaginations,
we did science and art,
we pedaled sister bikes,
we heard how Bridget and her dad saw two houses where there was once one and thought they were tipsy,
we learnt Gallic and English names of towns and people,
our nostrils smelled in tendem,
we followed two rivers,We dreamt our collaboration into existence with 4 legs, 2 noses and 2 x 6th sense.
During our traveling residency, we “dreamed the world” in our own collaborative image by encountering two headed animals.
A two headed, two armed kid on the ferry cavorting up on deck in spitting rain alerted us to our double headed state;
a donkey with two heads watched us pass from an emerald field,
a push-me-pully deer froze our gaze on the banks of Lough Oughter,
a double yellow kayak held us in its smile,
we laughed and cried,
the twin cultures of Cavan (Eire) and Fermanagh (N.Ireland) welcomed us,
we walked a bridge linking  two cultures,
we spoke and were silent,
we dreamed by day and night,
we laughed at the double entendre,
we met Geopark officers from both sides of the border,
we found our way over and underground,
we  listened to two trees  kissing,
we remembered and we forgot,
we were lost and found,
we caught the landscape gazing at its reflection,
we experimented with ancient and modern,
we took photos of each other,
we followed a bifurcation,
we walked a ridge joining two borders,
we looked east and west,
we ate breakfast side by side,
we listened to the voices of two nations,
we spoke and listened,
we matched-up splitting images, played at duppies, captured mirror images with our cameras while the hills reflected in the sky,
we heard the drip, drip of water as it echoed into a cave,
we  dreamt double,
we learned of old and new traditions,
we drew from twin imaginations,
we did science and art,
we pedaled sister bikes,
we heard how Bridget and her dad saw two houses where there was once one and thought they were tipsy,
we learnt Gallic and English names of towns and people,
our nostrils smelled in tandem,
we followed two rivers,
we minded and not minded,
we saw through the looking glass,
we worked with dual purpose,
we dreamed up past and future lives.
we minded and not minded,
we saw through the looking glass,
we worked with dual purpose,
we dreamed up past and future lives.

Grand Canyon Daydreams

Some of you may already have caught this Guest Post from Claire’s Uncle John, when we originally posted it several months ago, we were in the middle of editing Episode 1. But now that many of you have heard Radio Dreaming Episode 1, and the reference that it contains to my Uncle’s 3 month journey through the Grand Canyon, it seemed right to re-post it…..

In the thick of editing the “Food Chapter” of Our DREAMING PLACE radio program, during a casual conversation about this topic with my mom, she mentioned my two Uncles’ unique “food dreaming” experience while hiking the Grand Canyon. I asked my Uncle John (John Donald) about it by email and the following is what he wrote back. It is posted here with his permission.

Francis and I walked most of the length of the Grand Canyon on the south side between late Feb and early May of 1970. The whole hike was 440 miles in several sections. It had been a dry winter and all the South Rim trails were free of snow when we began our trek; then it snowed 2 feet and turned rather cold. After a trial hike we measured our food portions by weight for all our coming meals and wrapped and packed them up in piles for each leg of the journey. We had to be sure we had enough calories to keep warm as well as enough energy to hike with our 55 lb. packs. It was mostly dehydrated food to keep the weight and bulk down. Along with our several types of meals we limited ourselves to 1lb. of crackers per week and had to forgo bread altogether because of its bulk. Well, what you can’t have turns out to be what you want most, I guess. When I ate hot soup I thought how nice it would go with some real coarse, whole grain rolls, the kind you chomp down on and pull real hard to get a chunk loose, you know? None of that white bubble bread for us. It seemed like we were hungry a good deal of the time and one day we ate lunch twice. Still hungry.

Toward the end of our hike we hadn’t seen any people for almost 3 weeks and we came out on the western esplanade in the red sandstone Supai formation. It is weathered into huge rounded blocks and domes that looked just like rolls right out of the oven. They were rich, deep red brown just like giant whole-grain rolls. As the miles went by I began to think fondly of the rolls my mom baked every Thanksgiving and how yummy they were. My daydreams of rolls had tuned to stone, but they brought sweet memories nonetheless.

Just so you see that our daydreams were not stretching the imagination too far, the above photo from the Sierra Club website, shows pretty closely exactly what we saw that got us going on the rolls image. Some of  them, the tastier looking ones, were a little deeper red and close together like rolls in a pan. No steam rising, but close enough.

Hope this is useful in some way.

Love, Uncle John

Radio Dreaming Episode 1 is here!


We are oh-so-pleased to share Radio Dreaming Episode 1 with you all! It is called “Dreams, Food and the Edible Landscape.”

Listen to the entire radio program here.

This first episode of our Radio Dreaming series will debut on air in the Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark on Cavan Community Radio 97.4 fm, today, Thursday 21st of June at 2:40 pm, GMT. Other broadcasts are also scheduled for this summer. If you can’t catch the program on air, we invite you to listen to the entire radio program here at our blog.

Our evolving broadcast schedule can be viewed here and the Radio Dreaming press release can be viewed here.

Many thanks to all the people, places, creatures and things at Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark for teaching us about DREAMING PLACE. And special thanks to those that contributed to this program and helped make it possible in a myriad of ways.

Please let us know of any radio stations that might be interested in broadcasting Radio Dreaming! More Radio Dreaming episodes are in the works so stay tuned….

We hope you enjoy listening and look forward to your feedback.

Pigment Potentials


During our decent hike from Cuilcagh Mountain, we came across these red ochre-like pigments crumbling out of the hillside. As erosion reveals this intense color it also reveals potentials of the past, present and future. As we study the pigments and muse at their uses, questions arise.

Were these pigments used by the past inhabitants of this land? In particular, did the Bronze Age people who built the mighty cairn atop Cuilcagh (see image below) discover these pigments and intern find uses for them in their lives? Read more pigment musings and about the geology of Culcaigh mountain at the end of Anna’s previous informative post, Geology United!

Maps and DREAMING PLACE


Map: a visual representation of an area; a symbolic depiction
highlighting relationships between
elements such as objects, regions, and themes.
As you can imagine, maps were important on our DREAMING PLACE
traveling residency, in more than one way!

We often depended on them to be shown places and information by others and to navigate roadways, paths, fields, parks and estates.

We mapped our journey in sound and in drawing and in some ways on this blog. We also discussed creating interactive maps as an outcome from the residency. These maps may still be on the way….stay tuned!

But there is really something special about maps that draw on senses other than sight for their creation or perception. Here is one example……

Marshallese stick chart, called rebbilib in Marshallese,
marks the islands and major wave patterns of the Marshalls

“…Marshallese navigational charts are not like our western-style maps; fishermen didn’t use them to measure distance or count miles. Instead, they used them as memory aids, reviewing them before a journey but not bringing them along. It is said that a fishermen would study his charts, leave them behind, and then lie on his back in the canoe, the better to feel the rise and fall of the ocean swells. He interpreted the map with his body memory, not with his eyes.”

Read the blog post about rebbilib by Sue Fierston in its entirety here.

Sound islands

I’m sure I told you how Claire and I went out onto the blue lough in the yellow smile of a borrowed kayak. We paddled together out to a tiny island where we lay down on the mossy foreshore to dream.

Listen here to a snippet of our chat as it wafted up to mingle with the calls of birds and the lapping of gentle waves outside our sound island.


No 16.DREAMING PLACE data sheet drawing


Tied to our prehistoric past


One of the ways we  dream ourselves into place is to make string. Yeah it works, twisting natural fibres really does deepen our relationship with our own home place or the home place of another. Here I am at Claddah Glen,  just below the show caves at Marble Arch Caves Geopark in Northern Ireland, collaborating with Iris leaves and sedges to make strong and useful string.

Twining string is truly addictive and provides Claire and I with a quite moment of focus during a busy project. But there’s more…..

We’ve noticed that long leaves seem to WANT to make string, our fingers fiddle and twist  plant fibres into cordage, dextrously, as if it’s the most natural thing in the world! To make twine is to interact with our surroundings in a vital way AND of course we are not alone, twiners come in many shapes and sizes and surprising partnerships give diverse results; wind and dry moorland grass twist together to make a fat loose rope that catches under boulders.

As a species we have grown up with plants, they have shaped our cultures and well,  they make us who we are! What´s more, string is even older than we are…. Who are the “other than human” twisters, loopers, weavers whose cultures has inspired our own?

I’ve made string from bungy old Sphagum moss, Torbay palm leaves, stinking Iris and bluebell leaves and Maram grass, but you can use any plant or other fibre.  Twine is so darn useful, something to sew cultures together.

I think THE most exciting thing we learnt on our DREAMING PLACE adventure was how to spin hay into twine to fasten down hay ‘rucks” keeping them safe from errant winds. The hands of traditional farmer Ignatius Maguire manipulate a home engineered twining crank, an innovation on the implement used by his father, a hooked branch cut from a nearby hedge.Impressed?

This place has seen…….

DREAMING PLACE records a series of river bank happenings from below Cuilcagh mountain.  This place has seen…….

…… darkness falling from the sky in a blaze of light.

….. a girl with barefeet who thinks she’s a bee…..

….A tiny man in a waistcoat silouetted against a white horse.

….. an epic game of chess.

…..a safe haven in a hayloft sanctuary.

…. a silver fork dropped on grass. 

…. a plane dropping height and crashing.

…. a tadpole the size of a tennis ball.

….. a halo of flies.

….. a knife blade broken in two.

…… a bride who falls down a well.

……..a boy with a catapault kills a small duck and takes it home for his aunty to pluck.

….. 3 sisters, legs mottled with cold jumping on the spot as their mother spreads a checked table cloth on the bank.

….. a tray of oats warmed in the sun is sprinkled into a hollow.

…. a nuthatch drowns in a puddle.

No 13. DREAMING PLACE data sheet drawing

How wild? – The wild inside.

Our 40 day 40 night adventure in MAC Geopark wasn’t exactly BIBLICAL, but we did have a FLOOD (in one of the tents)+ VISIONS (on our blue DREAMING PLACE groundsheet) + VISITS INTO THE WILDERNESS (above and below at Cuilcagh Mountain).

It wasn’t exactly WILD either. Did we say it would be? But hush, there was definitely WILD in it.

Marble Arch Caves Geopark is not really a very WILD ZONE at all. Its not very wild  ‘cos you’re never  far from a path, a road, a dwelling, a domestic animal, a vehicle, mobile phone coverage, an electrical plug-in, a farm, internet or a pint of Guinness. But when you are close to the wild rivers, bogs, bats, fungi, lichen, mountains the night sky, it does make you feel quite a bit wilder.

It’s all relative huh!?

As a species we aren’t really very wild, but there are lots of bits of wild to us. I’m talking about the wild inside. The Fungi and bacteria and the thoughts and the DREAMS.

And how far does our domestication go? What about the WILD INSIDE?

What about all the creatures that help digest our food for us, and all the other wild things that crawl on our skin and on our eyelashes? The wild inside with its methane production, gaseous exchange and all that. At this point I opened another window and googled THE WILD INSIDE. It has a ring to it doesn’t it? Surely I’m not the first to think those words or to blog them. Click the link below to find out what I found out about THE WILD INSIDE.

http://www.harpercollins.com/browseinside/index.aspx?isbn13=9780061806483

Would the wild stuff inside of us  make such a distinction between wild and domestic?

So what do we MEAN when we say these words? What value have they? And HEY ARE WORDS THEMSELVES wild or domestic?

“WILD DOMESTIC, DOMESTIC WILD ,WILD WILD, DOMESTIC DOMESTIC , WILD WILD DOMESTIC, DOMESTIC DOMESTIC WILD, WILD DOMESTIC WILD, DOMESTIC WILD DOMESTIC, DOMESTIC DOMESTIC DOMESTIC, WILD WILD WILD”

Dreamers toolkit

Our  evolving Dreaming Place Toolkit – a list in images….
night and day/ collaboration

potions
wild strawberries

dreaming into place

ask for water
inhabit the view
collaborative drawing

cooking
documentation



Great Paddler in the Sky myth

Out paddling with Claire, in Lower Lough Erne, I dreamed the story of the Great Paddler in the Sky. It felt momentous, but it happened easily as I listened to the sound of my paddle stirring the starry waters of the lough, over and over over and over….I watched as my paddle spun the sky into a silken thread over and over, over and over.

The Great Paddler, spinner of galaxies, tornadoes, whirlwinds, whirlpools. The Great Paddler who taught the lake people how to travel, how to spin, how to dream. The Great Paddler who propels us into the future.


Listen below  to paddling at Lough Oughter  (Sounds recorded from the top of the blue plastic drum in the image above. You may need headphones or ear buds to catch the subtleties).

No 4 DREAMING PLACE data sheet

Bees Dreaming

Bees are a kind of ancient technology, nature’s tireless messengers between worlds. They gather cultures around them and help propagate crops and ideas. Texting and twittering are the great-grandchildren of bees.

The future of our species is inextricably linked to that of bees, so if they don’t survive, even our phones will cease to buzz. (Interestingly, our “buzzing” mobile phones is stressing out hives – learn more here.)

Listen below to  bumble bees living in the doorway of Alan’s cottage:


In the Marble Arch Caves Geopark bees continue to ply defunct smugglers routes with bags of valuable honey, even now that  the borders  between “north” and “south” are open. Honey is a rich prize guarded fiercely by the bees, but even now there are people who happily risk their wrath once or twice a year to steal it from them. Farmer, Ignatius McGuire, shares his family townlands with wild bees and  in summer the temptation is sometimes just too great.

Listen to Ignatius McGuire describe the delights of honey from the field here:


Or ponder the importance of bees dreaming with Kaylynn TwoTrees in her article, “Nature’s Dreaming”………..

“Regeneration comes from dreams, where the energy from a sense of possibility is stronger than the fear of the unknown. So even today, as the bees are struggling for survival and hives are collapsing, a taste of honey or the hum of bees in my garden re-enlivens my belief that the sound of nature’s dreaming is the hum of bees and the audible activity of the hive…..”

Looking for the beesong  audio to share with you I discovered this file of Susi playing her violin while we washed up. Lucky us…. So here it is. Click here and you will understand  why it belongs to this post:

Bees are also extraordinary architects, the makers of honeycomb, which forms their hive. Honeycomb is a product of the living system of the beehive, a collection of hexagonal wax cells built collaboratively by honeybees in their nests or hives to cradle their young and store honey and pollen for winter. We are intrigued and inspired by the geometry of the bees and often spot honeycomb hexagons along our journey. This game of “Honeycomb I-Spy” actually began several years ago on another journey…..to hear and see more click here.

Above and Below

From the the beginning, we knew that exploring above and below ground and above and below water would be important themes for DREAMING PLACE. Not only are we personally interested in these themes, the geology and geography of the Marble Arch Caves Geopark demands it!


These themes both directed many of our adventures as well as our philosophy of the project. We wanted to explore “above and below” with the people, places and things of MAC Geopark. What is so important about above and below?

We are accustomed to experiencing the surface of things the “above” version, but delving into both paints another picture of place. “Below” is also very much linked to exploring dreams, because often to understand the meaning of dreams or understand the “dream meaning” of a life experience, one must delve below the surface meaning and explore the many layers.

To be a “Place Dreamer” is to explore the many layers…..

You can read about our first underground experience with Dave Scott here and a little bit about our wild swimming adventures here.

Ideas are burr shaped: biodiversity expert Rose Cremin

A great technique to Fast Dream ourselves into place is to meet with Experts in the field. We like to visit them in their natural habitat and in this case Biodiversity officer Rose Cremin chose to share her expertise with us in the education room at Marble Arch Caves Visitor Centre.


As well as finding out about butterfly transects and red squirrel ” hotspots” within Marble Arch Caves Geopark, we hope to learn how a biodiversity officer like Rose operates. What science does she do, what are her concerns, which creatures does she work with?

Our first encounter with her is a delight . She’s so nice and she shares her really posh hand cream with us before we switch on the recorder

bur
When we meet with the experts we are naturally keen to learn about their specialty, but as artists we are helplessly curious about all sorts of other things. So Rose herself quickly became the object of study; an interesting specimen that given close attention we might learn from. We are intrigued as to how different experts gather their data, what specialist kit do they carry to help them in their work and what they wear into the field. And how does their specialist apparel compare with our own. What can we learn from them that will be of value to our own DREAMING PLACE  field work?

Kit is something that we obsess about a teeny bit and this is because kits feature strongly in our practice. Click here to find out more about our Exchange Kit.  One of the things we are doing in our research is to put together a DREAMING PLACE toolkit for people wishing to delve deeper into place.

bur
Like the gait (or jiss) of a butterfly our  Dreamers‘ attention wanders all over the place, we need to be experts to anticipate it. The gait of our attention is erratic and today it has alighted on Roses’ cream waistcoat, which is lightly fuzzy. The textured material is ideal for attracting ideas and we hypothesize that ideas might be burr-shaped. “Does she wear a furry “burry” waistcoat for collecting specimens we wonder?” At the close of the session with Rose we retreat to the car to scratch away with pens at our  sketchbooks to release our ideas.

Rose proves to be an inspiration to us and we decide to  visit her again, this time in her own environment at the Town Hall, where we ask to see the equipment she needs for her work with butterflies. Here she is demonstrating usage of some of her specialist biodiversity toolkit.