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Posts from the ‘Wild’ 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

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.

Inhabiting the dream: postcard 29

Geopark view

Geopark view

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?

Dreams are like clouds always changing and re-forming according to the weather

Cloud spotter Hans Wieland of Neantóg cottage in County Sligo is always eager to share his passion for clouds with anyone willing to look upward. Below inspired by Hans’ vision, Anna spotted this mind -blowing mammatus cloud over Kaçkar Mountain in Turkey. Must be worth quite a few points!

Ka_kar_Naletleme_11_

Inhabiting the dream: postcard 5

Drift wood for firing up our Kelly Kettle and making tea

Wilderness of my dreams (Phoebe + ukulele)

IMG_8123_3
During our stop with the Pod at the Leitrim Sculpture Centre, we met artist in residence, Phoebe, who is also a poet and musician. She invited us up to her second floor studio above the print rooms to listen to her play her ukulele.

Between Phoebe’s lovely, descriptive song  and the rare Irish afternoon sunshine streaming in the window, we were charmed to be sure!

Listen to the song here:
See, hear and read more of Phoebe’s work here.

The romance of the road – life in a home-built wagon: a place dreamer pod interview

What is it like to travel  the length and breadth of Ireland in a home-built wagon?

Listen here to find out! (Note: headphones or earbuds are best for online audio!):

Lynne Maguire lives in County Leitrim and works as a cook at the Organic Centre in Rossinver.

Inhabiting the dream: postcard 1

Inhabiting the dream is inspiring the curiosity of an Irish Hare

Inhabiting the dream is inspiring the curiosity of an Irish Hare

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.

DREAMING PLACE technology collaborative drawing 14 by Claire and Anna

DREAMING PLACE technology collaborative drawing 13 by Claire and Anna

DREAMING PLACE technology collaborative drawing 12 by Claire and Anna

Mapping Dreams at Killykeagan

Mapping Dreams at Killykeagan

DREAMING PLACE technology collaborative drawing 10 by Claire and Anna

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.

DREAMING PLACE technology collaborative drawing 9 by Claire and Anna

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

Wild dreams and stories Claire and Anna’s Skype snippet audio

Just 4,000 miles of ocean, desert and  rolling hills lie between us, so at the mo’ a lot of our collaborative dreaming happens over Skype. In the new year we’ll be using  google docs to storyboard our 3 new Radio Dreaming Episodes, then we’ll be using dropbox to share our audio files and texts to create our pieces for broadcast on local community radio.

Its 3.30 pm in Compton, Devon and Claire is still crunching toast in her  off-grid earthship home in Questa New Mexico, when I decide to record our  Skype conversation.

So listen in to us discussing dreams, stories and other DREAMING PLACE things.

Whistle for a White Christmas

Listen to the McConnel brothers playing whistle at the Beleek Fleadh at MAC Geopark and dream of a White Christmas.

DREAMINGPLACE technology collaborative drawing 6 by Claire and Anna

DREAMINGPLACE technology collaborative drawing 5 by Claire and Anna

DREAMINGPLACE technology collaborative drawing 4 by Claire and Anna

DREAMINGPLACE technology collaborative drawing 2 by Claire and Anna

Carniverous plants alive and well in Big dog forest

At Lough Na Brickboy in the Geopark’s Big dog upland forest Geopark ranger Martina introduced us to some fine looking plants with surprising abilities. Here she is discussing them.

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.

Geopark director potholing interview

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)

Audio footprints in the lough

Creative ideas can be illusive. If you approach them too quickly or too directly, they may turn tail and be lost. But like wild creatures they can be lured from their hideouts if conditions are favorable, perhaps at a particular time of day by a special treat. A ritual pot of tea, a piece of music, the sound of a waterfall or a beautiful pattern.

It may be enough to go outdoors and sit on a tree stump to allow the ideas to flow. It’s  exciting to consider some of the forms and patterns we observe outdoors have companion patterns inside our bodies;, the swirl on our finger tips, the filigree of veins and in the very patterns of our lives and relationships.

So enjoy your shower or walk the edge of the lough and let the bubbles rise.

These Dreaming Place audio footprints were recorded at the watery edge of Lough McNean, Marble Arch Caves Geopark.

Animals Dreaming 2


Remember this lovely springer spaniel from the beginning of our journey? It turns out that scientists agree with us that non-human dreamers, like this lovely 4-legged, have a rich dream life.

This topic often captures our attention and has appeared in several previous posts such as here and here.

You can listen to some of our musings about animals dreaming at these previous posts, Fisherfolk Dreaming and Dream Food Vision.


So, according to scientists (as represented on Wikipedia’s dream page), “Sleeping and dreaming are intertwined….REM sleep and the ability to dream seem to be embedded in the biology of many organisms that live on Earth. All mammals experience REM. The range of REM can be seen across species: dolphins experience minimum REM, while humans remain in the middle and the opossum and the armadillo are among the most prolific dreamers.”

Apparently there have been studies that have “observed dreaming in monkeys, dogs, cats, rats, elephants and shrews [and] ….There have also been signs of dreaming in certain birds and reptiles. 

Here is another interesting twist offered on Wikipedia:

In 1954 the theta rhythm was discovered by two scientists at the University of California at Los Angeles when experimenting with rabbits, shrews, moles and rats. The theta rhythm is the oscillatory pattern of electric activity in the brain. [Interesting discovery, but the idea of experimenting on animals makes me cringe!] This discovery lead to a commentary published in 1972 that explained differences in Theta Rhythm where defined by respective animal behaviors. Awake animals showed high Theta Rhythm when behaving in ways that where crucial to their survival, for example: eating and reproducing. This apparently was a response to a changing environment. The theta rhythm occurs during REM and studies suggest it “reflected a neural process whereby information that is essential to the survival of the species” is gathered throughout the day and is “reprocessed into memory during REM sleep”. In conclusion: “dreams may reflect a memory-processing mechanism inherited from lower species”.

Some scientists argue that humans dream for the same reason other mammals do. From a Darwinian perspective dreams would have to fulfill some kind of biological requirement or provide some benefit for natural selection to take place. Antti Revonsuo, a professor at the University of Turku in Finland, claims that centuries ago dreams would prepare humans for recognizing and avoiding danger by presenting a simulation of threatening events. This threat-simulation theory was presented in 2000.

This makes sense in a way, as we humans are in fact mammals. But how, I wonder, does this theory fit into modern human dreaming patterns? If dreams served to prepare us for danger in the past, what purposes do they serve now?

If you would prefer a religious/spiritual perspective over science, here is another take:

“God sleeps in stone, breathes in plants, dreams in animals, and awakens in man”
– Hindu Proverb

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

Truffle pig or hound?

Taciturn treat

Richmen’s turd

Upside of underground

Fortune’s fungus

Foundling fodder

Lovers’ liver

Eat in heaven

Purse fattener

Instant portion

Gourmet guest?

Old one

Root currency?

Hermetic healer

Odorous apple

Ugly potato

Not just a Nugget

Dreamers dough?

The power of blogs

We never expected off-grid blogging to be easy, but it turned out to be the single most challenging aspect of our trip.

Little lakes inside our tents, patchy mobile connection, no running water, no loo, rampant jet lag, hip injury, but electric plugs – oh please….

Our hungry laptops had us struggling to provide. Without power we feared they would become weak and easily die.

We had pondered the off-grid dilemma long and hard. Claire lives off-grid year round at her home in New Mexico; so surely it isn’t such a big deal. She and Chris collect energy from the sun and store it in underfloor batteries for use as electricity around the home.  Wi-fi  and the sun allow Claire and I to work together, despite her off-grid-ness  and our many degrees of separation. These technological advances help us keep our collaboration alive.

Soft folding dashboard solar panels might keep our laptops charged, but would they work in such a resolutely unsunny climate ? And what of bike power…. it works for making smoothies and projections so might pedal power keep our cameras, laptops and blogging practice alive?

In the end we opted to plug-in at Marble Arch Caves Geopark HQ, council offices, campsites and country hotels and used a wee dashboard plug (little inverter in the cigarette lighter) for on-the-go top-ups between charging locations.

Blogs are an ideal way to record, share and reflect on project adventures. And we shared DREAMING PLACE with family, friends and a world wide audience….. veraciously!

Keeping the hardware topped up became a matter of supreme importance. Should we make supper, sleep, experiment, search for a plug-in or make connections?

We are the first to admit that blogging got a bit out of hand… this time… and we did it in the face of significant adversity – Our dongle rarely worked, so that was a waste of money, we were operating in mobile-coverage shadowlands in the X – border zone, hoteliers were mean to us, the Geopark HQ were kind but couldn’t share their internet and we were miles from the nearest cyber cafe…  yet we blogged and blogged and blogged.

Is pigeon post a viable alternative?

Hazel cultures

A good way to discover more about prehistoric life  in Marble Arch Caves Geopark is to focus in on the edible elements of place. You can learn a lot, from ingesting, observing and dreaming with plants and things. As a Northern European its a fair guess to say that my ancestors learnt a lot from their interactions with the land. I know it’s obvious,  but its easy to forget that plants have actually helped shaped our cultures. Claire’s family is also of European decent, but she was born in New Mexico where prehistoric peoples have also eaten acorns, piñones and hazel nuts. Claire and I look, listen, experiment and dream to find out more about our prehistoric ancestors and their worlds. We kicked off our

collaboration while studying at Dartington with a “Eating Time Taming Food”  a wide ranging adventure into prehistoric Dartmoor Food ecologies. We  gathered, prepared, cooked and shared wild foods. It was really challenging for us as we were trail blazing our a new Arts and Ecology practice… .. but what d’you know while we were out collecting acorns and worms were gathering in our leaching sacks, Ray Mears was doing the self same thing on Telly, imagine that….Out of the BLUE! processing acorns for food after hundreds of years of culinary neglect!

Neither Claire nor I had telly and we didn’t know about Ray Mears ’till friends and neighbours told us. Only difference was we were making ART and gathering audio sounds! We ended our acorn harvest with a grand tea party at The Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World in Haldon forest Park, where our guests feasted on acorn and honey cake spread with butter churned using the motion of our gait and other ancestral foods.

In DREAMING PLACE at MAC we crunched  hawthorn leaves at Shannon Pot, made  wild garlic pesto and when Hazel reached out and attracted our attention, we whittled its flexible boughs into knives. Hazel is as full to bursting with dynamic potentials which Claire and I are eager to explore. And Hazel’s story is many patterned, it helped with the invention of tents, looms and snow shoes. The first people’s living in these northern climes after the great ice melt collected its tasty fruits to store for the winter months and Hazel protected and sustained them.

What baskets were woven to carry the canny hazel nut and what futures did it predict?

Listen here to Biodiversity Officer, Rose Cremin enthuse about hazel culture

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.


The kissing tree

Did you ever hear trees kissing?

As Claire approached an overgrown hedge in the Killykeegan Nature reserve a strange sound wrapped around her ears. She called me over and we listened as two Hawthorn branches kissed.  Listen here to the sounds we heard..

No 18. DREAMING PLACE data sheet drawing

What is an Ecosystem?

“An ecosystem is a community of plants, animals and dreams that are closely linked to each other and to their environment.”

(Anna Keleher and Claire Coté ,Marble Arch Caves Geopark 2011).

Talking dreams…. (audio)

Listen to us talk on dreaming …. getting into the flow….. insect hallucinations…. and much much more at MAC Geopark.

No 15. DREAMING PLACE data sheet drawing

No. 14 DREAMING PLACE data sheet drawing


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.

No12. DREAMING PLACE data sheet drawing