Peregrina Preparatio 4

Pilgrimage 4: SaturdayMay 19 2018

Route: Turku (Itäharju) to Hirvensalo island (and back!)

Weather: Warm and Sunny, 20 C, a bit windy

I wore cotton shorts and a sleeveless shirt, sunscreen, needed my cap and sunglasses and as earlier I tried to walk in the shade whenever possible . I carried a small bottle of water. En route I popped into a bakery cafe to use their facilities.

Distance: 18 km (9 km each way)

Duration. 4 hours (2h each way)

Today didn’t feel particularly like a pilgrimage, but it wasn’t a hike or a walk either : something in between. I walked to my friend’s house to watch the royal wedding and then walked home.

I travelled light with only a tiny knapsack on my back (to carry my water and phone) and instead of a walking pole in my hand I had a litter grabber as part of my route went through a small industrial estate and I assumed (rightly) there’d be trash to collect. And there was.

Litter picker in hand

I visit this friend quite often, usually by car or bus and occasionally by bicycle, but this is the first time I’ve walked there. It was a bit further than I thought and so I arrived a bit late for the wedding party. Coming back was quicker though I walked almost the same route.

There were several nice parts to the walk: a winding path on the edge of some woods, an unofficial track through a field and the view from the cycle /pedestrian path on the high bridge to Hirvensalo was -as ever – lovely. It was windy up there, (had to hold onto my cap while taking the photo) and a bit cool, but that actually felt quite wonderful after the heat of the last few days

I think I’m getting the hang of the longer distances, and really like the nuance of walking from and to somewhere specific (rather than a circular hike in the forest, where hubby takes the lead and I and whatever dog I’m in charge of follow behind)

I think the return journey felt a bit more like a pilgrimage today, and I definitely got into my stride more. On reflection I think I enjoyed it more because on the way there I knew I was running a bit late … and that was a bit stressful! That’s something to bear in mind for the Camino. I didn’t take any breaks. Walking for 2 hours at a stretch is fine, but one thing I’m thinking a lot about is the need to go to the toilet on a pilgrimage when walking with loads of other people … could be tricky!

PS I picked up two smallish bags of litter today., mostly on the way home!

Posted in Finland, out and about, peregrina, this & that, Uncategorized, water

Peregrina Preparatio 3

Pilgrimage 3: Monday May 14th 2018

Route: Turku to Naantali (via Raisio Bay,), bus back to town (I slept!)

Weather: Hot and Sunny, 20 C early morning, rising to 27 C later in the day

I wore cotton shorts, needed sunscreen, my cap and sunglasses and tried to walk in the shade whenever possible . I carried plenty of water, a small flask of coffee and two sandwiches (breakfast and lunch) and also bought a banana enroute!

Distance: 24 km (plus walk home later), I set off at 7:30 am. Caught 1:45pm bus back. No long breaks so walking time was about 6hours!

I love Naantali, a seaside town not far from Turku and where the president of Finland has his summer residence, Kultaranta. I’ve cycled here a couple of times over the years, but this pilgrimage brought home to me that walking really is a different kettle of fish.

I mostly followed the cycle route (it’s for pedestrians too) which meant it was well signposted.

Unfortunately the trade off was that much of the route was near a big road, and while nothing like the traffic in other countries, there were just enough big lorries (going from the harbour /industrial areas) to make it a bit unpleasant particularly in terms of noise and dust. Where I could I chose back lanes and nature trails and at one point cut across farmland. That added a bit to the mileage but was well worth it. I also took a bit of a detour in Naantali as I love the waterfront and old town and chose to bypass the newer part of the city.

Today felt more like a pilgrimage. It’s hard to pinpoint why, but I think walking on my own, and going from one town to another (rather than a circular walk) adds to the experience. Part of it is also that pilgrims have walked this way before me. Either from the cathedral (or other churches) in Turku to the monastery and medieval church of Naantali in days gone by.

I got quite excited when I spotted this sign …not quite the Camino symbol, but nevertheless a sign that this is a pilgrims’ route and I’m walking it.

Other highlights included a short stop off at Raisio Bay, where there’s a new bird tower overlooking the marches, and the beautiful views there (and elsewhere)

Raisionlahti bird watch tower

Naantali small boat harbour (near the spa)

The old well in Naantali old town. I sat and drank there!

Learning curves today:

Water heats up quickly in 27C …luckily I had water in my flask too, and that was deliciously cold, but the water I had in the side pocket got hot!

Toilet breaks! I used the facilities at a petrol station and in a cafe, but at one time I needed to go behind the bushes. That’s not a huge problem here in Finland where there are few people on the trails, but I’m wondering how I’ll manage on the Camino!

My day napsack is quite heavy (deliberately so) but no longer rubbing on my shoulders, which is great. I think I’m packing it better. And I’m learning to walk better with it on too. Im very glad of the walking pole at times and will definitely take it with me to Spain! Along with the knee support bandage!

Posted in Finland, Finland, out and about, peregrina, rural, signs, Uncategorized, urban | 2 Comments

Peregrina Preparatio 2

On Wednesday I set out with Tinka (our bonus dog) for a second preparatory walk. I had planned to walk from Turku to Naantali (or vice versa) getting a lift or bus one way. My family vetoed that and suggested I did something more local instead.

So I did!

Pilgrimage 2: Wednesday May 9th 2018

Route: Turku to Vanhalinna (via Littoinen lake) and back

Weather: Warm and Sunny, about 20C. I wore cotton trousers and changed into shorts, and needed sunscreen, a cap and sunglasses. My small fleece stayed in my napsack.

Distance: 33km; three stages of about 2 – 2 1/2 hours each …with a slightly longer break midday half way through stage 2. I left home at 8:30 and arrived home at about 5:30

The feeling was very different on this pilgrimage preparation walk because I had Tinka with me, and at first it was jolly frustrating as she stopped to sniff every fifty metres or so, but once we were past the urban sprawl we picked up pace especially when we got to Littoinen lake, where we stopped for our coffee break!

Tinka is fascinated by water!

Until this point the walk hadn’t felt like a pilgrimage at all. I reflected on that after, and I think it was because I wasn’t on my own, and more crucially I had to take Tinka’s needs into account in addition to my needs and desires, but after our first stop we walked on a trail and our pace and desires merged so we walked more as one, which was a real bonus.

I have to say, too, that she’s a real trooper, and even though it was hot, and she must have been weary too, she never complained. She took me by surprise too, at times, once plunging in a natural spring that was deeper than either of us anticipated. Luckily I narrowly avoided falling in!

The queen’s spring at Vanhalinna; a narrow escape.

One realisation i had on this walk, was that over the years I’ve got a lot braver walking in Finland. I still prefer well marked trails but I noticed I was more willing to use the sun and common sense to forge my way in the direction I wanted to go. That makes me glad and a bit relieved too!

I am deliberately trying to avoid using my phone or other electronic device on these preparatory pilgrimage walks (just have my phone as a back up) so that means studying google maps before I go and then trying to read the signs and recollect the way. It’s actually not quite as hard as I feared, so clearly I do have a sense of direction even if it’s a bit under utilised.

Tinka and I walked almost two-thirds of the way around the lake on a lovely peaceful trail, then headed northwest -ish as my plan was to go to Vanhalinna. That meant getting across a very busy highway and as I just couldn’t find a crossing or underpass we ended up dashing (when the road was clear) across and up a very steep bank to a weird huge flatlands area near an industrial site, that we plodded across. It wasn’t at all pretty or beautiful but at least I could see the way out and that there was no fence!

We stopped at a small lunchtime cafe which we stumbled across by chance (and I was glad to use their facilities) had some coffee /water and we shared ice-cream cone, and then carried on, slightly off track but soon bisecting the road I was looking for and onto vanhalinna where we sat in the shade and ate the banana/dog treat I’d been saving.

Wonder if Hansel and Gretel lived here?

From there it was a long, and slightly familiar trek across the fields, through a forest to the river Aura above Halinen, and home.

All in all Tinka and I walked 33 km, on our adventure : the most I’ve done. The weather was fabulous : more than 18C all the way, and I really did need sunscreen, a cap and sunglasses. I wore trousers for the beginning of my walk and changed to shorts in the cafe, but wore hiking shoes and good double layer socks the whole way.

No blisters, but my shoulders were a bit sore from where the day sack rubbed a bit. So that needs to be rethought a bit. I will be doing the Camino with a bigger rucksack which will probably be a couple of kilos heavier but does have a waist belt which will help. I think the problem was more to do with the way the napsack was packed rather than anything else! Let’s see!

I was so happy to shower, change my clothes and pop on sandals, when I got home, and eat dinner, only to be reminded I needed to help walk the big dogs, which added another 2km to today’s today: 34.7km! And I slept well in spite of tired limbs.

Oh one more excitement was our encounter with an angry hissing viper (an adder) – but we lived to tell the tale so no harm done, though my heart and the adrenaline were racing for a few minutes!

Posted in Finland, goldens, peregrina, Uncategorized

Peregrina Preparatio 1

I made the decision to do (as often as I can) one longer walk, usually solo, in the summer months: May -August in preparation for the Camino in September. The idea is to build up my stamina for longer walks, practise carrying a load and test out boots and other kit.

Pilgrimage 1: Monday 7th May

Route : home yo Auvaisberg (via Piispanristi) and from there to Tuorla Inn

Weather: Fine spring day, warm but not hot. Needed sunscreen, sunglasses, cap but no jacket!

Distance 20km in total (about 4 1/2 hours of walking, in two main strings)

This really felt like a pilgrimage. I loved the walking, was content in my own space, and while most of the route wasn’t familiar to me, I’d studied the map before hand and so knew more or less where I was going. At a couple of points in Piispanristi and later on in Karins i checked the maps at a bus mostly to reassure myself.

It felt like a pilgrimage because I accepted hospitality (lunch and coffee) at my friend’s place in the countryside …he ‘gets’ the walking, the concept of pilgrimage, and we had great conversations over lunch! En route I’d also stopped at the well in Piispanristi and while I drank water I’d carried it felt symbolic that I was being refreshed in my weariness!

At the well in Piispanristi

The second part of the journey was to attend an AGM (of a society which I’d just resigned from as a board member, which also felt significant as this pilgrimage is -in part -about embracing the new! What I also especially enjoyed about this part of the day was walking along long country lanes and paths in a wonderful landscape.

I ached when I got home of course, but not especially so, which suggests the walking I’ve done for the past eighteen months has paid off, and most important no blisters, which is one of my biggest fears!

Posted in Finland, peregrina, rural

Peregrina : What is Pilgrimage

Pondering the way ahead


What is pilgrimage?

A pilgrimage is a ritual journey with a hallowed purpose. Every step along the way has meaning. The pilgrim knows that life giving challenges will emerge. A pilgrimage is not a vacation; it is a transformational journey during which significant change takes place. New insights are given. Deeper understanding is attained. New and old places in the heart are visited. Blessings are received and healing takes place. On return from the pilgrimage, life is seen with different eyes. Nothing will ever be quite the same again.

Macrina Wiederkehr,
Behold Your Life

I found this quote when I was preparing an opening talk on pilgrimage last month for the Finnish British Society of Turku. It’s stuck with me and resonates.

So I am posting it here to remind me:

ritual journey
every step has meaning
transformational journey
significant changes take place
New insights

Deeper understanding
places in the heart are (re-) visited
life is seen with different eyes

And I’m wondering what will change in me as I prepare for this journey.

Posted in 2018 the bear, Camino (Spain), out and about, peregrina

Meet the Peregrina!

I’ve probably been a pilgrim for most of my life – itchy feet are pretty much a give away aren’t they? …  and for decades I’ve been on the move: roaming, searching, hoping for glimpses of God on the way. It’s part of where the moniker ‘seethroughfaith’ or ‘seeing through eyes of faith’ come from.

One of my dreams for some time now – and it is a dream, not a calling –  is to walk the Pilgrim’s Way: the Camino of St James through northern Spain to Santiago de Compostela. That dream is about to be realised! Earlier this month I booked my flight to San Sebastian and I’ve already been working out how I can travel ‘light’!


.camino badge


In the next four months (May-August) I’ll post some of the adventures as I prepare for the pilgrimage … journey with me, if you are able

Posted in peregrina, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Adopted or Morphed?

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted … about eighteen months. In that time I’ve flown a lot, and learned a lot along the way.

The owl is known for wisdom, perception and truth – all fantastic virtues and powerful gifts, which, when used for good, are liberating and love and life-breathing.

The owl has very keen hearing and vision.
Owl can perceive what others cannot.

Discernment has been a spiritual gift for me – ever since I gave my life to Jesus – and as I’ve journeyed with the parliament of owls for the last two years I know the God-given discernment has continued to be a really important tool for me.

Sadly sometimes it’s fallen rusty because of lack of use, and at times, I admit, it’s been mis-directed too. Discernment isn’t about knowing all – or God forbid- becoming all knowing and I’ve needed that corrective from time to time! But the positive side of this has been I’ve intuitively known how to offer loving support and guidance in a whole range of different relationships – and I’m still growing in that!

What the owl has brought however is WISDOM. That’s different to discernment, though both are fabulous spiritual gifts. Interestingly, one Christian site states that “we can have wisdom without the gift of discernment, because the gift of discernment goes further, but we cannot have the gift of discernment without wisdom”.  For me I think you need wisdom in how to use discernment, and maybe even vice versa.

Owl also allows you to move silently and unseen. Perhaps unusually for a ‘sort of extrovert’ I usually like being on the fringe of things – chosing the moment to step in from the shadows into the light.  That’s not the same as being deliberately excluded or ignored, I have a great sense and need of belonging too. But I’ve learnt that I can belong ‘on the edge’. That’s been liberating.  Learning to put my ears to good use has also had a very positive effect on my relationship with others. I don’t always succeed of course – and sometimes my mouth utters things that I really am ‘just thinking’ but I’ve begun to learn the art of listening, and hearing. Two sides of the same owl :)

One of the greatest powers Owl brings you is to penetrate your own secrets
Learning to see into the beauty of my own soul and uncover my personal truths and intentions – this has been the inward movement of the discernment process. Self-deception is a huge obstacle to overcome. I often thing I am stronger (or weaker) than I really am – that I can easily go it alone (or cannot do it without plenty of support) … I’ve been glad of the owl as a companion.

At the start of this year, however, I was adopted into a new family. And it’s one that is proving to be a wonderful blessing.

(The European Brown) BEAR:

I’ve added the European bit – because that too is significant for me. At the end of 2017 I became a Finnish citizen, which means after Brexit I can – and will – remain a citizen of the European Union.

More on the bear later – but for now let’s list the qualities he -or she – brings.

Posted in Uncategorized