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Posts from the ‘Place’ Category

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

Anna Featured as “Wilderness Thinker in Residence” this week!

annakeleherfeature3 “As a wilderness thinker I’m turning my gaze upon the world of the very small and towards the possibility of a wilderness even inside my own insides! Is there a wilderness inside of you too?” asks Anna in her essay for the Thinking Wilderness project. Check out her featured work “The Wilderness Inside” at the Thinking Wilderness website HERE. It will set you thinking!

Anna was invited to participate as a “Wilderness Thinker in Residence” in the Thinking Wilderness project, a one-year series marking the 50th Anniversary of the USA Wilderness Act. Anna’s piece,”The Wilderness Inside” which she created specifically for “Thinking Wilderness” explores many themes that have cropped up in our own Dreaming Place project and even showcases one of the postcard drawings that Anna created on our “Irish journey” (see above!).

What are your thoughts on “The Wilderness Inside?” Please let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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.

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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.

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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.

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.

What is dreaming?

Cave

DREAMING has led us through our DREAMING PLACE residency and it’s also the thread that ties together our 6-part series, “Radio Dreaming.”

But what in the world is DREAMING?

If you’ve met us out in the field, on the road , at an event or you know us through our blogs you’ll have heard us tell about “dreams of place” and our own dream of discovering how lands speak through dreamers and how that has lead us to an unexpected range of places, rather like a cave of unknown depth with many different passages.

Eager to discover more about dreaming, we threw ourselves right into the thick with DREAMING PLACE.  We swam, sang recorded and listened to stories and sounds, but even now after all these explorations we are still unsure of what dreaming really is.

We’ve published  lots of posts that reveal our journeys and imaginings, but we are no closer to knowing the definitive habits and customs of DREAMING. This reveals as much about the nature of  dreaming as it does about us and our collaborative practice. Just as a butterfly cannot be understood and appreciated by pinning it onto a collectors tray, DREAMING will not be understood by trying to bring it into sharp  focus in the harsh light of day. It also shows a bit about  how we ourselves have come to feel about DREAMING. Sometimes we feel that DREAMING is our primar protagonist and sometimes we feel its the other way around and that our project is actually DREAMING us, its hard to tell. We respect the wild nature of DREAMING and its wish to remain mysterious.

We hope the outcomes of our project such as this blog, our poetry, drawings and most of all our radio broadcasts continue to refresh, comfort and entertain. But most of all our wish is that they will also inspire you in your own journey and imaginings. We invite you to jump right in and join the flow.

Where will DREAMING carry us next?

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!

Inhabiting the dream: postcard 21

IMG_8735

“Self sufficiency and the power of dreams” at Renewable Energy Market Place

DSC01796_2
Our Place-dreamer pod really is lovable and willing, billed as “Self-sufficiency and the Power of Dreams” our little micro-caravan draws the attention of many curious visitors at” Renewable Energy Market Place,”  the biggest energy event in the South-West of England.

At the comfortable Encounters compound visitors are invited to join the great energy debate, sitting down to “tell a story” to another visitor and climbing into the cosy interior of the pod to immerse themselves in the rich collage of music, voice and sound that is “Radio Dreaming Off-grid.”

DSC01794_2

That Artists are invited to collaborate in such an event is a great innovation and a forward looking response to the challenges of the future. The upbeat Visual minutes company documents the conference with drawn image and text  and The Art and Community hub  generates a tangible thrum to enliven the wider energy debate.  Matt Harvey,  Regen South West resident poet, David Buckland of Cape Farewell and Ruth Ben-Tovim  of Encounters are  among the inspiring speakers of the day who share their particular energy and vision.

 

Inhabiting the dream: postcard 8

Drowned boat rescue

Drowned boat rescue

Inhabiting the dream: postcard 3

Inhabiting the dream is camping off-grid on Trinity Island

Inhabiting the dream is camping off-grid on Trinity Island

Inhabiting the dream: postcard 2

Inhabiting the dream is.... finding buried treasure in unexpected places

Inhabiting the dream is…. finding buried treasure in unexpected places

Place-Dreamer Pod at Green Lough, Cavan town

Musicians in Pod at Green Lough

Musicians in Pod at Green Lough

Today, 15th May we are at Green Lake on the outskirts of Cavan Town for the official opening of Green Lake from 7-9pm.

Please join us!!
Green Lake

Place-dreamer Pod out and about

OutandAbout

Today we are out and about. Sure it will be another enjoyable and busy day. Perhaps today the crows will be listening in as they climb the thermals on the crag and the swans may be listening from the lough.

Place-dreamer pod on the hill

SONY DSCToday we are out and about again, playing Radio Dreaming to the winds and all who sail on them.

Place-Dreamer Pod at Marble Arch Caves Visitor Centre

Today May 5th we are at Marble Arch Caves Visitor Centre. It’s going to be a busy day!

Joanne at Marble Arch Caves Visitor Centre is very enthusiastic about the Pod.

Joanne at Marble Arch Caves Visitor Centre is very enthusiastic about the Pod.

Bus outside Marble Arch Caves Visitor Centre

Transformation of Materials: Part 2, Knowledge and Action

We gave a little background about Ignatius Maguire in our recent post, “Transformation of Materials: Part 1, It Starts with Choice”. In this post, we move into the knowledge and Action that makes our choices real.

Ignatius 2
When we visited Ignatius’ farm he took the time to describe and demonstrate to us the whole process of “bringing in the hay”, a very relevant example of transforming a renewable material into something used by farmers all over the world to feed their animals.

Ignatius makes scything look easy. When we try it, it takes us a whilte to get into the rhythm and when we do, we feel the muscles that we would need to do the job all day long.

He also shows us how he “shakes his hay” and forms it into rucks. Anna tries her hand at shaking hay:

After he forms the hay into neat rucks set to dry, Ignatius creates rope ties to hold  the hay rucks in place and prevent them from blowing away in the wind. He spins hay from the base of the pile into rope, using a special tool, sort of like a crank-spindle made from the handle of a bucket:

We try spinning as well – it’s like magic and we feel sort of like Rumplestiltskin spinning our very own gold:

Ignatius chooses to process his hay in this way and enjoys it. He holds a wealth of knowledge that he keeps alive through daily use. He is fit and healthy and has an incredibly close relationship with his family’s land because of this choice. It is no doubt a lot of hard work, but Ignatius’ relationship to his land, seems to us to be one clear example  of “Dreaming Place.”

Transformation of Materials: Part 1, It Starts with Choice

Recently we’ve been thinking about transforming renewable materials around us into things that we use in our lives and how that process is an important element in our Place -Dreamer Toolkit. We have discussed this idea in previous posts about string HERE and hidden technologies HERE.

Because we are fascinated by these simple, but ingenious technologies and processes, we’ve been revisiting our unique time with Ignatius Maguire on his family farm. Including his grandchildren, his family has been on the land for eight generations.

Ignatius 1
He gave us an extensive tour of the grounds and the traditional, human-powered technologies and farm practices that he chooses to use to keep it all going. He is unlike most of his farming neighbors who have opted for more modern methods to harvest hay, plant potatoes and grow grain. Like that of Margaret Gallagher (see our post about her HERE), his dream for his life is shaped and colored differently than most.

Here, he describes his simple reasons for his chosen life-style:

Ignatius is a good reminder that we all have choices about what lives we want to lead, what technologies we want to use in our lives and for some of us, what processes, tools and technologies we choose to use to transform raw materials into things we can use in our lives.

Look for the second half of this post, coming soon – “Transformation of Materials: Part 2, Knowledge and Action” featuring more of Ignatius describing the traditional practices that he uses on his farm.

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:

DREAMING PLACE technology collaborative drawing 8 by Claire and Anna

DREAMING PLACE technology collaborative drawing 7 by Claire and Anna

DREAMINGPLACE technology collaborative drawing 4 by Claire and Anna

Prehistoric technology report – Crom Estate

As you can see we’ve had technology on the mind since our recent presentation in the “Matter of Technology” panel at the ISEA2012 Albuquerque Machine Wilderness symposium. We’ve been mulling over the fact that our arts practice is very much about different kinds of technologies both contemporary and prehistoric, as is DREAMING PLACE. Check out other posts recent posts on this topic  here and here.

One of the things we find so fascinating, as inhabitants of what many would call  “the technological era,” is that every era has been technological in its own way. According to Wikipedia:

Technology is the making, modification, usage, and knowledge of toolsmachines, techniques, craftssystems, methods of organization, in order to solve a problem, improve a preexisting solution to a problem, achieve a goal or perform a specific function. It can also refer to the collection of such tools, machinery, modifications, arrangements and procedures. Technologies significantly affect human as well as other animal species’ ability to control and adapt to their natural environments.”

Listen in to our prehistoric technology report from the Crom Estate below:

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.

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

Dreaming Radio Broadcasts Across the Miles

collaboration what does it meanWhen we collaborate with each other in the field (as in the photo at left), we discuss our project face to face. However, this time of year is different. We are thousands of miles apart communicating via skype and sharing files to create Radio Dreaming Episodes. Dropbox and Google docs are our allies.

Here are are, working together, in our own home places, over 4, 000 miles apart, carefully timing our work sessions around the 7-hour time difference:

Below is a recording of one of our skype chats, or brainstorms. This one is about  stories. Anna is the one with the English accent and Claire with the New Mexico accent.

Poets and story telling Seanhaidhthe

Seamus O’hultachaín local expert and  “keeper of the Burren” writes poetry in the Irish Language, here he is interpreting a beautiful poem for us while we sit together on a glacial erratic at the Burren itself with a fine view of the Geopark spread out before us.

The seanchaidhthe “or traditional Irish storytellers reference has piqued our interest. So to give you a taste of the art of traditional Irish Storytelling do look at this archive Youtube clip of Seanchai (English spelling) Eamon Kelly and his”teaman” story of 1987.

Slow Travel Vehicles

What we now consider slow travel vehicles are the result of the interaction of place, distance and dreamers of the past. A vehicle’s design and aesthetics are determined by the water, path, bog, or snow that it must travel. Boats and bicycles are “Dreams of Place” created by the agency of rivers, gravity, wheels, the human body and the need to get from place to place.

Ancient technologies: humans + environment

We met an interesting man on our stroll around Money Cashel near the Burren,  here he is on ancient technologies and drawing. 

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.

Chip van venue for traditional Irish music

Susan Hughes plays traditional Irish fiddle. We love her glorious music in a chip van story.

Here is Susan playing violin while we wash up. Enjoy!

Bawnboy poorhouse audio blog

Our visit to the ruined poorhouse at Bawnboy in County Cavan was sobering and we had a lot of questions to ask of this austere building. The site is not open to the general public so our audio provides a glimpse. The hair on our arms stood up as we surveyed these broken buildings, their chimneys heavy with trees and windows blown.

Built to house 500 men, women and children and opened in 1852, the poorhouse  was on way of addressing the poverty and destitution brought on by the Irish potato famine.  The poorhouse was supposed to be grim, it was hoped that only ” the deserving poor” would seek its refuge, saving tax payers money. In order to keep costs down the governors even questioned the provision of supper to inmates! Families were cruelly segregated in an iron regime where  harsh punishments were metred out for such actions as simply speaking to passers by.  Only children were permitted to go out at all.

The building was later used by the community for a variety of purposes and some of it was even turned into private accommodation before finally reaching total dereliction. (Information sourced from: http://www.irishidentity.com/stories/bawnboyworkhouse.htm)

In Praise of the Geopark *Audio*

Ireland leaks people…. as well as rain. For 40 days and 40 nights we wandered the Geopark, listening to its many voices and as our van rattled away at the end of our trip, our eyes too began to leak.

Listen here to our praises for the Geopark and its cross-border homelands. (For those of you that are unfamiliar with the area, Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark is comprised of lands in both Éire and Northern Ireland.)

Curious about the bell and squeaks on this audio segment? The bell is a permanent resident in Anna’s van and the squeaks are the sound of shifting gears.

Romantic or premonitionary?

Listen here to our fears for the Geopark and decide for yourself – are our words romantic indulgence or premonition?

A very big and real threat now hangs over “our” Geopark and its beloved people, places and things. A license has been issued to the powerful mining company, Tamboran Resources, for the extraction of shale gas within the Geopark using the controversial process of “fracking.”

Far from Ireland Claire and I have been blogging away without doing anything until one day we realised that some of the most precious nature reserves are threatened along with the fresh water supply and clean air. We have written to Fermanagh Councillors with our concerns. Read our letter and the responses of individuals here –  Dear Anna and Claire.

We agree with Councilor, Barry Doherty, (Sinn Fein) for Erne West when he says “We have so much natural beauty above and below the ground in this part of the world that to even contemplate fracking this area is surprising if not down right crazy.”

We  join present inhabitants, organisations and councilors in demanding a moratorium on the license so that the Geopark vision keeps strong and the people, places and things of all Ireland remain vital and alive.

Find out more about fracking and the MAC Geopark here and how you can get involved here.

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!

Our Geopark ancestors (audio)

We cycled to an old church up the lane near our campsite at Holywell, Belcoo. Listen here as we speak the names of the local ancestors from the headstones into our handheld audio recorder.

Now we read local home place names of the Geopark ancestors and though some of them are by now familiar we can’t help our mispronunciations – do excuse!

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.

Landscape of Abandoned Dreams


In our wanderings through the landscapes of the Marble Arch Caves Geopark, we came across many incredible decaying homesteads, architectural remnants of abandoned dreams left to be reclaimed by plants, land, water and weather.


This “forgotten dreams” phenomenon seems more evident here
than any other place that either of us have been before.
The land seems saturated with it.


Abandoned farm equipment, the most modern and desirable in its day,
rusts in its final resting place, chumming up with the local flora.


It is as if abandoned architecture and belongings continue
to poignantly describe the cycles of history:
“better days” along with famine, economic hardship, immigration and
the forgotten dreams of this place.

Mother of the landscape


Claire has a moment of revelation beside the waters of Poll Sumera, a magical place on the lower slopes of Cuilcagh Mountain. It is here that the waters that gather in the folds of the mountain’s flanks disappear into a labrynthine network of underground rivers to re-emerge sometime later at the fabled birthplace of the famous River Shannon; Shannon Pot.

About peat, turf and bog

swallower of memories

preserver of peace

bringer of luck

bog pantry

enemy of speed

ice-age daughter

black soap

famine food

giver of light

fuel of home fires

inland sea

body warmer

cure for weepiness

preserver of memories

moth repellent

friend of farts

adds spring to your step

a growing medium

birthplace of bogeyman

dark snow

lazy bed maker

baffler

mossy grave

placid muffler

mother of bogs

Dreaming Yews

We climbed in the wide branches of two famous, ancient, entwined male and female Yew trees on the Crom estate. They are reputedly the oldest Yew trees in Ireland and possibly in all of Europe. According to the National Trust website, the trees were planted in the 17th Century, but other websites proclaim the trees to be much older – as many as 800 years.


The Yew Tree is now a rarity in Ireland, but the tree still has a mythic cultural prominence. Rich in mythology, symbolism and historic and prehistoric cultural uses, Yew trees are shrouded with mystery and power. The large, majestic trees have a commanding presence, not least because all parts of the Yew tree contain poisonous alkaloids, except for the bright red arils encasing its seeds.

As we climbed, swung and perched in the grand branches of the trees,  we mused about the dreams shared and the hundreds of years of history witnessed by the arboreal pair. What do Yew trees dream of? How many dreamers have taken refuge in the protection of these trees and which of their dreams were caught in the great web of their branches?


We are sure that dreams and yew trees are tied up together somehow and here is a bit of proof. Read about a Yew dream from the 1600’s “Somnium ex Eubernea porta” from Mrs. Cl., of S. here.

For more information about Yew trees visit the Ancient Yew Group at  www.ancient-yew.org.

What is your dream egg? *audio*

Dream Egg and Nest created by Rae Dunn

In some ways, dreams are like eggs. After they are “laid”, given time, the right conditions, care, attention and incubation, they may hatch! The New Year is an apropos time to identify and reflect on one’s Dream Egg(s). We’d love to hear about them! (Dream Eggs can be shared in the comments field below.)

During our traveling residency in the MAC Geopark we embarked upon a dream “egg hunt”, a detective game of sorts to find dreams hiding in unexpected places.

Margaret Gallagher shared this beauty of a dream with us over a lovely breakfast at her thatched cottage.

Listen below to hear about her “dream egg” close at hand:

Beleek, Belcoo, Burren…

Beleek,

Belcoo, Boho,

Burren, Butlers bridge, Blacklion,

Ballin Tempo, Belturbet, Boa Island,

Cavan, Cliffs of Magho, Crom, Cuilcach Mountain,

Dowra, Derryvore, Derrygonnelly,

Galloon , Gortatole, Glangevlin

Killykeegen, Knockninny,

Letterbreen, Monae,

Swanlinbar,