Archive for the ‘Historical’ Category

I’m going to try keeping a diary over this period and blog on a daily basis….

However, I do get lazy and distracted by reading/social media/tv/OPB/BBC 🤪🤪😂😂😂 but I’ll try my best. (OPB = other people’s blogs).

Frankly my life hasn’t changed that much. As a Carer for the elderly I’m classified as a ‘key worker’, and yesterday, after a 6.5 hour journey on 2 trains, 2 tube rides and 2 taxis, I arrived at my next assignment. I’m meant to be here for 2 weeks, but that could change due to the lockdown, and I may end up being here for 4 weeks….not longer. My birthday is coming up soon and I DO. NOT. WORK. ON. MY. BIRTHDAY.

So for me its same old same….different place, different client, same difference. In other words, my jobs entails pretty much the same thing every day for 14 days, but just a different location and different person, but same issues.

I get sent all over the country and sometimes to places well off the map, mostly never heard of except by the residents.

But often the dice falls in my favour and I get sent to a place that has all the elements that get me excited…. in this instance, not only is this village a Domesday Book Village, but it has had some famous residents and boasts the ruins of a Norman motte and bailey.

Following Johnson’s announcement of a nationwide lockdown last night, I took my 1st ‘allowed’ excursion this morning to the store for basics. I’m going to make use of this time every day for a breather and stock up on the basics needed to feed my client, and other such things.

Then this afternoon I used my 2 hour break to take advantage of the allowable exercise outing. I usually do take this time to get out and walk anyway but now of course it’s a privilege rather than an expectation.

What a charming little village this is. Quaint old houses, a little brook dashing through the streets, a clock tower, and oodles of history….one of the Guy Fawkes protagonists was born here. How awesome is that!!!

Quaint old cottages and a clock tower
A bubbling brook
Bad lad…boom!!

I’m staying in a quirky 16th century cottage with more steps and landings than I care to count 😂😂😂😂 if I lift my hand I can touch the ceiling….and I am not tall…just 5ft 5 inches. I’m guessing people were much shorter in the 16th century. Last night when I went to bed, last thing before I switched off the light…I reminded myself about the step outside my room so that I don’t fall flat on my face in the middle of the night.

I pretty much have the house to myself as my client has been practicing ‘social distancing’ for the last 4 years…apparently she took to her room 4 years ago and refuses to come out unless she has a medical appointment. This is not unusual.

I set off at 2pm and after a short walk I found an information board about the village and that’s where I discovered there’s a castle. Whoop whoop. Needless to say it’s on the top of the hill 🤪🤪🤪🚶🏻‍♀️🚶🏻‍♀️⛰🏰 a steep climb. What’s with those Normans anyway, building their castles at the top of the hills…I mean seriously, no cars, no buses, no escalators, no lifts…but they build on the top of the hill 🤨🤨😉

It’s at this point that I miss my walking poles the most. It really feels weird being out walking without them. But onwards….

I soon reached the crest of the hill and to my delight there was the castle. Okay its totally overgrown now and there’s nary a stone or wooden pole to be seen, but it’s so exciting to walk in the footsteps of people who lived here nearly 1000 years ago.

Norman motte and bailey
Hinkley Point in the distance

The views are spectacular…you can see for miles and miles, even the Bristol Channel, and in the distance I could see Hinkley Point Power Station. The village looked cosy snuggled as it is in the folds of the valley.

I’m sure the air is fresher….I sat out on the highest point I could find and just enjoyed the quiet, the brisk breeze and the delicious sunshine on my skin. There’s a grassy bowl towards the middle of the castle where I could easily spend the day…a blanket, a good book, flask of hot tea and packet of biscuits and I’d not leave all day.

Perfect spot to spend the day

I phoned my little family on the other side of the country and enjoyed seeing my adorable grandson and chatting to my daughter and son-in-law. They’re bearing up and enjoying being home, creating fun things to do for the baby.

A few other people made the most of the lovely weather and walked around the perimeter of the mound.

After 20 minutes of gorgeous warmth I walked back down into the village and along one street to the outer edge then turned back and made my way back to the cottage. A pleasing break and added 3.2 kms to my walk 1000 miles challenge….although as things are going, its unlikely I’ll reach my target this year.

Edge of the village

Then it was back to work and supper preparation and frequent visits from downstairs to upstairs 🤪🤪🤪 I told my client that at this rate, with the number of times I respond to the bell, I’m sure to get fit and lose weight.

At the moment I’m watching TV and writing this blog while counting the minutes till bedtime 😁😁 end of day one of 21 days of lockdown. 20 to go…its frustrating of course, upsetting and unsettling and we have no idea how things are going to pan out, but in the greater scheme of things…time out is no bad thing, and like I said, my life has not changed that much…

I saw this sculpture at the edge of the village…it made me smile and think of bonkers Boris….”stay home or else ”

Stay at home 😂😂😂

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As mentioned in an earlier post, since logging off both twitter and facebook I needed something to read in the mornings before work, so I gravitated back to workpress. I also realised that except for the post on toilet paper in June, and barring the odd repost or quick article prior to that, I hadn’t blogged for over 3 months and most particularly since my grandson was born. My posting activity compared to previous years looks quite scarce.

I have over 100 drafts waiting to be posted, 90% of which are about my delicious grandson and his journey since he was born. I cheated a wee bit and used my (daily) instagram posts as the basis for the drafts, but somehow I just haven’t had the time to actually flesh them out, checking for spelling and grammar (my bugbears), add images and actually get as far as posting them.

But now that I am no longer living at what used to be my home, and since I am working more (to save on accommodation costs), I have more time to blog….and I’m making up for lost time 😉

So, whilst reading the next article on the fantastic blog I discovered under the tag ‘Saxons’ : ‘the traveller’s path” I came across the word ‘trepanned’ on her post ‘Bald’s Leechbook: The Doctor is in‘ – and the word literally jumped off the page at me and I had an epiphany…..I too had been trepanned. LOL

When I was about 15 months of age my mother fell down a flight of stairs with me which resulted in a damaged head and a brain bleed. So the surgeons drilled 3 holes into my skull; 2 on the right hand side of my head and 1 on the left in order to flush out pooled blood and bone fragments. This left 3 small indentations in my head that make for a good story today (and over the decades 😉 ) and I get perverse pleasure out of making people feel the bigger hole in my head. They’re usually very squeamish about touching it, but I insist….. hahaha!!

What was weird to me is that I have told that story many times over the years, and I’ve read the word ‘trepanned’ many times whilst reading various books, but I have never associated the word with what had been done to my head. Till today! So there it is, I too have been trepanned. I am however rather glad it was done in the 20th century and not the 8th 9th or 10th, since I think the survival rates of the patients were not as high then as they are today….although to be fair, as the author mentions in her article, many people did survive and this is known due to the fact that when ancient skeletons are dug up at various archaelogical digs, they sometimes find skulls with holes that show signs of having healed. Of course some of said holes are acquired during battles fought and possibly won, but some are of a shape and size to indicate trepanation. Fascinating.

To conclude the story about my trepanned head, the fall down said stairs was as a result of my Mother wearing stiletto heels. One of the heels got stuck in a groove and resulted in the fall. From what I understand my Mother lost a baby as a result of the fall and I had to learn to walk again and ended up wearing support boots for many years. There’s one photograph in particular that I can visualise as I write, and that is one of me at the top of a slide, wearing a little embroidered dress and pair of solid brown leather boots that reached halfway up my tiny little legs, securely buckled. My Mother is standing at the bottom of the stairs and still wearing heels. Interestingly (to me anyway), I don’t recall my Mother ever saying whether or not she suffered any damage to her body beyond the trauma of losing the baby, which apparently was a boy.

Courtesy of wikipediaTrepanning, also known as trepanation, trephination, trephining or making a burr hole (the verb trepan derives from Old French from Medieval Latin trepanum from Greek trypanon, literally “borer, auger”) is a surgical intervention in which a hole is drilled or scraped into the human skull, exposing the dura mater, to treat health problems related to intracranial diseases or release pressured blood buildup from an injury.

And in case I haven’t whetted your appetite to find out more, or induced shudders of repulsion, here is a nice shudder inducing graphic image to get you going LOL Hopefully I was unconscious when the surgeon drilled the hole in my head!!!

painting by Hieronymus Bosch depicting trepanation (c.1488–1516). courtesy of wikipedia

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Since I logged off Twitter (3 months ago) and Facebook (last month) I’ve had time to do some proper reading (as opposed to scrolling) and have rediscovered the joys of WordPress. Whilst searching for interesting blogs to read, I followed the tag ‘Saxons’ and came across this blog, a blog that has turned out to be absolutely fascinating.

The writer transports you back in history to the time of the Saxons with just enough information to keep you interested, written in an easy to read format, you’re left intrigued and wanting to learn more.

After reading about the Mercian king; Penda, I’ve gone right back to the beginning of 2017 and am making my way through history.

The history of England and the UK is nothing if not varied and the allegiances are like the tides that surround our fair isle, they flow back and forth, with waves that violently crash or lap gently on the shore, with whirlpools and hidden depths to trap the unwary.

The problem with the history of this country is that learning one piece of history leaves you wanting more, and I am never satisfied. One of my favourite TV programmes is of course Time Team with Coast a very close second. I can watch them over and over.

http://lasmithwriter.com   Reading this blog is like following a treasure hunt, with links to fascinating people, places and events. I’ve seen many references to places and people I already know, with titles waiting to draw me in. Cuthbert in particular since I’m planning to walk St Cuthbert’s Way in the near future. As well as which there’s a post about my favourite king; Alfred the Great and Winchester. Winchester was the 2nd city I visited after London in 2002 shortly after arriving in England proper. It’s still my 2nd favourite, after London LOL, and I’ve been back many times.

Meanwhile, I have a lot of reading to do 😊😊 but it is all so very interesting…..

If like me, you enjoy the history of the Dark Ages (seriously? Its probably one of the most fascinating periods) and in particular Saxon history, then do yourself a favour and click on the link above, I’m sure you will enjoy her posts.

The Dark Ages according to Britannica.com : Dark Ages or Early Middle Ages, the early medieval period of western European history—specifically, the time (476–800 CE) when there was no Roman (or Holy Roman) emperor in the West or, more generally, the period between about 500 and 1000, which was marked by frequent warfare and a virtual disappearance of urban life. 

The Middle Ages, or medieval time, is generally believed to have started with the fall of the Roman Empire in 476 and to have lasted about 1,000 years until about 1450. The beginning of the Middle Ages is called the Dark Ages because the great civilizations of Rome and Greece had been conquered. Ref https://westernreservepublicmedia.org/middleages/big_intro.htm

Personally I find this to be one of the most intriguing and fascinating periods of history and if the Sutton Hoo treasures and various similar treasure troves discovered over the years are anything to go by, then dark it was not…….

Happy reading.

the saxon monastery

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mapmywalk, the pilgrims way, walking the pilgrims way, long distance walks england, backpacking, women walking soloSunday 26th August 2018 Day 6 – Guildford to Tanners Hatch : 9.73 kms / 21155 steps    elevation 216

after a fairly good night’s sleep I started off fairly early after a solid breakfast. Walking along the main road, I was wishing it wasn’t Sunday so I could take the bus back to St Catherine’s village LOL

I reached Ye Olde Ship Inn fairly quickly. First stop was St Catherine’s Chapel;

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St Catherine’s Chapel, Guildford

built around 1317 as a chapel of ease for St Nicholas Church in Guildford, the building was abandoned during the reformation. A lovely little kitty visited me for a chat while I was exploring. The views from the hill were amazing.

Trotting back the first of MANY a downhill over the day, I walked along Ferry Lane passing some super houses towards the River Wey where I discovered this lovely little poem alongside the stream.

I crossed the bridge over the river and walked through a really beautiful nature reserve.

I reached a large green; Shalford Park and following the guide crossed the road and into one of the very few references to the Pilgrims Way I saw along the whole way. Not all roads are pretty.

Passing a pretty cottage that looks like it has the best location ever,

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my ideal location

I followed the sandy lane and soon entered Chantry Wood….now this is more like it. Dappled sunlight shone through the leafy trees, with a breath-taking view across the fields. I stopped for a short while for food etc and watched the world go by…everyone and their uncle cycled past! Weird.

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Chantry Wood, the Pilgrim’s Way

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fantastic views across Surrey

Just after I pulled my backpack on and started walking again, it started to rain and that’s where my troubles began…the ground is very rutted and very sandy in some areas, and walking in the rain along slippy gravel roads was no fun at all, albeit very beautiful. I had by now lost one of the feet off Gemini (my walking poles) and was walking with only one pole, so it was quite tricky to keep my balance. Beside that I couldn’t walk with a pole and carry a guide book in my hand at the same time LOL

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The Pilgrim’s Way

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The Pilgrim’s Way – many feet have passed this way…

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my ideal environment, along the Pilgrim’s Way – flat!!!

I eventually reached St Martha’s Hill about an hour and half after leaving St Catherine’s Chapel and set about climbing and climbing and climbing. Jeepers….I knew from the guide that it was a hill, but holy moly, it’s one thing seeing a hill on a map to actually climbing it with a heavy backpack in the rain. But twas sooo well worth the effort for the views.

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Sometimes called Martyr’s Hill after Thomas Becket, the hill rises 570 feet above sea level giving a view of 7 counties…on a clear day. Today was NOT a clear day, but the view was still amazing. The church; Church of St Martha on the Hill, dating from about 1100, is the church the old man that I met had mentioned the day before near Seale.

The church stands at 573 feet above sea-level and the views are extraordinary. It’s traditionally believed that the original name of the hill was Saints and Martyrs Hill, the martyr being St Thomas of Canterbury.  It is the only church in Surrey to be right on the Pilgrims’ Way.  I stepped through the door to explore and managed a few minutes visit before the morning service began. The Verger kindly signed my pilgrim’s passport and showed me around, pointing out a few of the more significant features. There’s a stained glass window featuring St Thomas Becket.

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I left the church and set off downhill as per the guide. It was raining quite solidly by now and the ground was very wet and slippery. I went down down down and down some more…hanging onto the roots of trees and anything else I could get my hands onto, I slipped and slid down a very steep and most unpleasant pathway; almost vertical. A few people passed me going up..possibly to the church. As I walked I kept referring to the guide for the landmarks, but wasn’t seeing them. I was becoming a tad concerned that I may well be going the wrong way. Suddenly and without any warning I slipped and fell….really hard, onto my bottom. It took the wind out of my sails. I decided to check my walking app and yes, I was definitely not going in the right direction….now, in pain, and slipping on the wet sand, I had to climb back up this blasted hill. It turns out I had been heading downhill towards Chilworth Manor….which was not my destination. urgh.

church of st martha on the hill, map my walk, walking the pilgrims way, the pilgrims way winchester to canterbury, long distance walks england, women solo walking

going the wrong way… downhill

Finally I got myself back up, reached the crest of the hill and tried to decipher the instructions in the guide, and after much head scratching I realised where I had gone wrong. “Walk through the churchyard and on the far side follow the sandy path which soon veers slightly to the right to go downhill”. Which is what I had done in the first place. What he doesn’t say is that the correct side is directly behind the church (going east) and not to the side (going south). While doing my research on the history of the church, I noticed this information: (The knoll is crossed east-to-west by the Pilgrims’ Way, which is otherwise on the North Downs.) Now THAT would have been useful information in the guide!!!

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leaving St Martha on the Hill church through the EAST gate, not the south LOL

I was totally unimpressed and in quite a lot of pain by now.  But I pulled up my big girl panties and made my way down what was a very sandy path, but a lot less steep and somewhat easier to navigate. the writer may want to rethink his description for this section (amongst others). I now saw the landmarks mentioned in the guide…hoorah! I was on the right track, albeit still very steep and very slippery and it was still raining. I was getting more and more wet, despite the rain poncho, and wasn’t very happy.

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although I’m on the right track, this was almost as bad as the wrong track..slippery and wet

The promised landmarks were now visible and accounted for….

I trudged on but somehow I was totally off course and ended up walking along the very busy A25 motorway, with cars rushing past. I managed to criss-cross the duel carriageway according to where it was safe to walk, and eventually I reached The Silent Pool just on 12.40. Beyond arriving at The Silent Pool I really had no idea which way I was meant to go. I had packed the guide away because it was getting soaked in the rain and besides which I couldn’t see through my misted up glasses.

the silent pool surrey, walking the pilgrims way, the pilgrims way winchester to canterbury, long distance walks england, women walking solo

The Silent Pool…..a really beautiful place….and it’s still raining

My planned accommodation for the night was YHA Tanners Hatch on Ranmore Common which was well off the Pilgrim’s Way route. Since I had no idea where I was in relation to the YHA, was soaking wet and totally dispirited and totally so not in the mood for any further walking, I made the difficult decision to quit for the day. However, being a Sunday, none of the taxis would come out for less than £20, so since I did have to continue on to Shere…only another 2 miles they said, I continued walking. 😦

My instagram post revealed just how dispirited I was feeling : “The Dabbling Duck, Shere: Well I’ve had to concede defeat and quit for today. Its been raining since 10.15, I’m soaked to the skin, I can’t see out my glasses to read the guide book, which is a moot point since the book is so wet I cant see the words. 😢😢😢 I’ve stopped in a village called Shere which is roughly halfway, having lunch of lovely hot tomato soup and a pot of tea. I’ve organised a cab to pick me up and take me to my accommodation for tonight. The paths are treacherous and slippery or just puddles of water and I’ve already had a fall walking THE WRONG way down a virtually vertical path down St Martha’s Hill, nothing damaged except my dignity. Except I then had to climb back up again, at which point I surveyed the landscape more thoroughly and found the right way. One of those slightly obscure instructions again. By the bottom of the hill I abandoned the guide book and put my glasses in my pouch and followed my nose, finally arriving by luck at Silent Pool. From there they guided me to Shere where my walking for today must end. From here its on to my accommodation for tonight, a hot shower and bed. I believe tomorrow will be better weather. Hmm 🙄🙄🙄😜😜 So onwards.

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The Dabbling Duck; a hot bowl of red pepper soup and rustic bread. delicious

Shere…oh my gosh…what a stunning village. Despite the rain, I was enchanted by the architecture. One of those villages that you wish you could live in; Shere is your quintessential English village with picturesque ancient houses, quaint beyond words. It’s featured in Bridget Jones’s Diary amongst other films. I am definitely going to visit again. Delighted to discover that Shere is mentioned in the 1086 Domesday Book 🙂

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By now, being wet and very cold and as mentioned before (LOL), I had to sit in a tiny corner of the restaurant to avoid dripping water all over the place. I was absolutely not in the mood for walking. So I gave up and arranged for a cab to take me the final distance to the YHA. I enjoyed the soup at the Dabbling Duck and the tea warmed me up. It was a very good idea to have a meal since there was nothing at the YHA and I didn’t have any food on me besides dried pasta (which I had for breakfast the next day).

My final instagram post for the day – Tanners Hatch: Just about the time that I was starting to despair, after having walked another 4 kms in the rain (after my cab dropped me at the post code but not the location  which is seriously remote and off the grid 🙄) I popped in at a farm for directions. I could see the YHA on my Google maps but not how to get there. 😢😢 Anyways eventually I found the place after stumbling about and almost caving in to despair, and after checking in, I have a bed for the night, a dry towel, dry clothes and a cup of lovely hot herbal tea. Atm I’m sitting in the lounge of the hostel and knitting the 2nd bootee of a pair while chatting to the other occupants.

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bootees for Peanut – I’m hoping these bootees will encourage my grandchild to be adventurous

There’s a marvellous fire burning brightly in the grate and its lovely and cosy. I’m almost dry and nearly warm 😊😊 So glad I decided to use my contingency fund towards a cab and get here earlier, I would never have found this place in the dark.😖😖 So this is me, signing out till tomorrow.

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our YHA host; Dave got a lovely hot raoring fire going…just the ticket

The area around the YHA is stunning, trees everywhere you look and so many shades of green. Although it was very wet, it was so beautiful I wished I could stay a few days. I’ll definitely have to go back.

yha tanners hatch, walking the pilgrims way, the pilgrims way winchester to canterbury, long distance walks england, women solo walking

tucked away amongst the trees; YHA Tanners Hatch

After chatting to the other hostelers over tea and the delicious warmth of the fire, I said goodnight and went to bed at about 9pm. Oh gosh I was soooo tired. Too many hills, too much rain, too cold and too hungry. Oh well….onwards LOL

For more about the history of St Martha’s Church http://www.parishofchilworth.org.uk/history/st-marthas/full-history/

In case you missed Day 5 of my walk along The Pilgrim’s Way – click here

A short video of the walk; scenes of the route

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I was in London last week and decided to make a visit to the Imperial War Museum to see the Weeping Window…..a cascade of several thousand ceramic poppies created in 2014 for the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation at the Tower of London.

Once the installation was uninstalled most of the poppies were sold off to the public and some went on tour around the country to various landmarks.

14-18 NOW is bringing the two sculptures Wave and Weeping Window to audiences across the UK as part of the Poppies Tour. The sculptures are free to view.

Sadly the tour is just about over but click here to see the various places they were installed between 2014 and now

Seeing the poppies once again was so poignant and brought back memories of the day I helped to plant some of them at the Tower of London’s moat back in 2014, as well as the finale on November 11th when, during a very moving ceremony, they planted the final poppy after roll-call.

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Tower of London poppies

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Tower of London poppies (taken when I still did 3 days in London)

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Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red at the Tower of London 11.11.2014

The Weeping Window installation will be at the Imperial War Museum until the 18th November 2018


Nearest tube station: Lambeth North on the Bakerloo line

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After 9 days in the area my assignment ends tomorrow so this morning I took the poopster for one last ‘wander where you want to’ walk…the last till when I return in December.

We passed the church along the way so I quickly popped in for a look. Charles Dickens lived at Gads Hill Place in Higham, so its imminently possible he worshipped at this church in his day. The marshlands around the area lent itself to the opening of Great Expectations.

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St John’s Church is Victorian, but a church would have existed here in Saxon times. Higham is also listed in the 1086 Domesday Book as having a 56 households: 24 villagers, 12 smallholdings, 20 slaves. Tenant-in-chief in 1086: Bishop Odo of Bayeux.

I remember visiting this church on my Canterbury Tales walk last year from Southwark to Canterbury. I do love exploring this country 🙂


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I saw this graph going around the various Camino pages on Facebook and thought I’d share it with you.

How interesting to see where people are from, and which routes they walk.

Camino statistics 2017

Camino statistics 2017

I must admit that I was surprised at how few people were from the UK.

It’s also useful to note that not all pilgrims register for a Compostela on arrival at Santiago. I met quite a few pilgrims who were walking their 3rd or 4th Camino and weren’t bothered about getting a Compostela (certificate). So I guess the numbers are higher than shown here.

As for myself, I’ll be sure to obtain a Compostela for every Camino I complete 😊😊

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