Steve: I write this on the train from Gleneagles to York, and then on to Grantham where I’m staying with a friend prior to really getting started tomorrow.
The art of ‘getting ready’ for a Camino trip is tricky. I’m going to be away for a month and I’ll be carrying everything I need on my back. Which implies a certain level of rigorous planning. But I’ve got a wallet with credit cards – the modern travellers ‘get out of jail free’ accessory – so, really, what’s the worst that can happen? But nonetheless…
I write as someone who has tendencies to, how shall we put it, overanalyse things. ‘Analysis Paralysis’ is a good phrase. I have done this before, and I’m going with my daughter, Jenni, who has done three of these things. I ought to know what’s what. But the over-anxious part of my brain – the one that worries if I’ve left the cooker on, or forgotten the dog in the back of car (yes, that happened once…) – won’t let up.
However, a deadline to catch a train is a proper deadline. And so my bright red Deuter Futura 42 pack is in the luggage rack above my head as we hurtle towards Newcastle on the 10:13 from Gleneagles to London. It’s crammed full and weights a frightening 11kg. Eeek. I’m not entirely sure how that happened. The only things I can think of that didn’t accompany me on my last trip are a blanket thing made out of sleeping bag material, a truly enormous Anker power pack for all the gadgets, and my raincoat.
Last time around I sent home a pair of shoes, my raincoat, and some other bits and pieces from Pamplona on day three. Sending home the raincoat – a fine Rab jacket that can keep out a hurricane – was a mistake. Once we hit Galicia and the weather turned, I had to buy a cheapish bright yellow thing that made me visible from space and, unfortunately, also made me smell like a chicken farm. Given that this trip is starting in September and we’re heading towards autumn I think the coat will stay this time.
There is something liberating about having just the right amount of stuff. It’s tricky to do and I don’t want to go all Marie Kondo on you, but it’s a worthwhile exercise every now and again. I think of Steve Martin in ‘The Jerk’ – “this ashtray, this paddle game, this remote control – that’s all I need” and fully understand.