Joni Mitchell to Tolkein

Time for a strapline change. We now have

Not all those who wander are lost

…a line from the JRR Tolkein poem, ‘All that is gold does not glitter’.

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.

Instant transportation 

Yesterday as I lay on my bunk in Molino de Marzan, half asleep in the cool of the albergue, I was listening to my Sansa MP3 player on shuffle.

Up came the Laura Marling song “Goodbye to England (Covered in Snow)“.

You were so smart then
In your jacket and coat.
My softest red scarf was warming your throat.
Winter was on us,
At the end of my nose,
But I never love England more than when covered in snow.

In a heartbeat I was 14, on some church weekend trip to a Youth Hostel somewhere in England. A group of us had gone for a walk. It was winter and snow was on the ground. We came to a road junction and were uncertain as to which way to go. Someone threw a snowball which gently hit a girl who was wearing a black coat and a red scarf.

From a hot afternoon in Galicia, Spain, to a cold afternoon in wintry England. Instantly. Even faster than the Renfe train that runs from Leon to Madrid.

Hot days soundtrack

The observant amongst you will have noted that we change the home page strapline every few days. Now we have

“Till you get there yourself you never really know”

a Joni Mitchell quote from ‘Amelia’, a track on her 1976 album, ‘Hejira’.

People will tell you where they’ve gone
They’ll tell you where to go
But till you get there yourself you never really know
Where some have found their paradise
Others just come to harm

This is one of my favourite albums and I have strong memories of listening to it whilst wandering around London in my student days. Give it a listen….

Slow Camino

Steve : I’ve been taking some video along the way and I thought I’d post a couple of examples.

Here’s some Slow TV of walking across the meseta

Spain is very fond of wind turbines (as am I). Here’s an early morning dance, also taken on the meseta…

Flatlands soundtrack

For the long 17km section today we had….

Paul Simon

  • Hearts and Bones
  • Surprise
  • So Beautiful or So What
  • Stranger to Stranger

The Afro-Celt Sound System

  • Seed
  • The Source

Paul Simon is a genius.

My sister got the ‘Simon and Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits’ album when I was around 12. It was the first time I’d heard music that was about something. Music that was, if you like, more than just tunes.

I fell in love with New York vicariously. In my dreams I’d go to New York and it would look like the red sandstone tenements of Glasgow (the only big city I knew) with some steel and glass towers in it. Later on I watched the 70’s New York movies like Serpico and Dog Day Afternoon. All fantastically sleazy and beautiful at the same time.

Paul Simon’s songs, like The Boxer and America were a fundamental part of my teenage years. They can still reduce me to tears in seconds.

And his new(er) stuff is pretty good too…



Steve : I’ve made it through all 27 episodes of ‘Cabin Pressure’. Moved on to a few Kermode and Mayo film reviews shows that I had saved (hello to Jason Isaacs). Today was an excellent Radio 4 play from a few years back (I have hundreds of GB of BBC radio programmes saved over the years) called ‘Double Jeopardy’, a fictional retelling of the relationship between Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler as they worked on the film script for ‘Double Indemnity’.

Internal playlist #2

Steve : We were up the big hill beyond Hornillos this morning for the sunrise, so, of course, Sheryl Crow started up in my brain’s music player.

Jen and I have been discussing ideal playlists on a pilgrimage theme – however you’d care to define that.

Top of our list is the great Paul Simon song, “America”:

Cathy, I’m lost, I said though I knew she was sleeping
And I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why
Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike
They’ve all come to look for America

There will be more…

Ironically, given we’re on a pilgrimage where you’re supposed to be paying attention, on some long days, like today, when the sun is hot, you need distractions from the relentlessness of the trail.  For the last few days I’ve walked the meseta listening to ‘Cabin Pressure‘, from BBC Radio 4, on my Sansa MP3 player.  If you’ve never heard it, I urge you to give it a go.  Extremely funny. Unfortunately I finished it last night in bed, whilst trying to block out the snore-fest.

So, today’s trek across the wide open spaces was accompanied by a BBC ‘Book at Bedtime’ recording of Robert Harris’s novel ‘The Ghost‘, from, I think, 2007 or so.  This novel, and the Roman Polanski film version, are favourites of mine when travelling.  I’m not entirely sure why, but they seem to transport me better than most.  I remember listening to the BBC recording about ten times whilst my brother and I took shifts driving a minibus full of kids to a camp in Finland.

So, in the 34 degree heat of the Spanish midday I strolled into Fromista with the book ending about half a km from the albergue.


Meseta Soundtrack

Steve : I have an MP3 player packed with stuff but I find myself largely walking in silence.

But, that doesn’t stop the internal music player in my brain from running.

Today, we saw the sun come up over the meseta. And it was a thing of beauty.  My internal MP3 player could only think of one song with any lines about sun rises, so my morning was spent singing Sheryl Crow’s Crash and Burn.

I watched the sun come up on Portland
I waved goodbye to all my friends
I packed my car and headed to LA
I gave away all my loose ends

I’ve no real idea what the song is about but I did remember that first line.  And there’s a splendid liquid electric guitar throughout.  A great song for the day.