Walking the Catalan Camino to Tamarit

A couple of days ago, I walked from Tarragona or Tarraco near the Costa Daurada  in Catalunya (Catalonia) to the old Romanesque fort at Tamarit.

It was a walk of about 12km from my hotel in Tarragona down to the platja (beach), and up through the pine forests that hug the Mediterranean.

As I walked I was thinking; thinking about urban life versus the country or coastal country.

City life, life in Tarragona, Barcelona, Edinburgh, London, Newcastle, Paris, Madrid or any city is about pretence. It’s about keeping up appearences, about playing a type of game, the game of keeping everything going, always.

When you think about it, life in cities is always about the same thing; paying rent or paying the bank for your house, meeting friends, working or looking for work, or studying, watching the faces of people as they are consumed by their ‘business’, and meeting your own sort of hidden agendas. Life in cities is also about the dangerous game of ‘ego’; dressing the part, keeping up with the latest trends, having enough ‘stuff’ to fill the void of some type of existence. It’s also about protection, the guarding of one’s physical safety against the perpetrators of crime.

You get up, you get dressed in an outfit that will suit the type of day that you are expecting to have, you consume the fuel needed to keep the day going, you plan your meetings, your work, your study, your friendship time, your downtime and your evenings. You don’t hear the birds or admire the contours of the waves (no time), you’re a slave to your phone and your computer and the endless pointless emails that clutter up your inbox. You rush this way and that and you don’t notice that everyone else is doing exactly the same thing as you, wearing similar clothes, clutching similar style smart phones, a stressed, stretched face pinched with thought, tired with responsibility.

All for what.


Now, back on the Camino de Tamarit, there I was, with my soft sports sandals, my skirt and top, my sunscreen and sunglasses, my bottle of water and a little bag, and I was in a pine forest with no one around and the Mediterranean on my right side as I walked. The earth was rugged and soft at the same time, the Mediterranean was rough and noisy. It was saying to me, keep going, just keep walking. And I did. I met no one, which surprised me. I walked on and on for 12km guided on by the patrins – the marks on the rocks which signalled the way.

My thoughts were; this is bliss, this is heaven, this is a non-judgmental space in which to just ‘be’. There is no one here to say – you’re just not good enough, you’re defective, you’re done, you’ve been made redundant, you’re useless, you’re can’t compete in that city world where image and competence is everything.

The scent of the pine forests reminded me of my dad and our holidays in Catalonia in the late 1960s and how he made me feel, safe and accepted, a little girl with absolutely nothing to fear. And now in 2018 in the Spanish pine forests that border the Mediterranean I felt at home, rid of the anxiety of trying to fit in. I felt safe and I made it to Tamarit as a storm broke and it started to rain.



‘Rebecca’ – at 80 … — IMPROVEACRATI…..improve…..grow…..excel !

From The Wire – Once dismissed as a mere ‘love story’, Daphne du Maurier’s masterpiece is a novel that has haunted and enchanted generations of readers. Her boat had been found with its queer prophetic name, Je Reviens, but I was free of her forever. The name of Rebecca de Winter’s boat – Je Reviens (“I […]

via ‘Rebecca’ – at 80 … — IMPROVEACRATI…..improve…..grow…..excel !

The explosion of Ego & stroking a cat


I find life exceptionally hard. Now that’s not a negative statement, just a fact. I align this statement with the explosion of Ego (capital ‘e’). Ms. Ego is everywhere. As an introvert, I find this intolerable. I said to a friend yesterday, I feel the only thing I am now capable of – at my time of life – is sitting in the sun somewhere with a cat on my lap, stroking it like a mental patient. This is how hard I find life. But I love life, and love living – more about that later.

I grew up in a family where Ms. Ego had a home and a stage. Ms. Ego had a face, or rather there were two Ms.Egos in my birth family. And their word won out and their voices were the loudest and everyone cowered and agreed with them, and just did what they said…

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Blood bomb – half a life in hormones

This is hard to write, hard to admit, hard to talk about in public, but I must.

It’s a woman’s thing. A real woman’s thing. Nothing to do with men who identify as women (a ‘concept’ that’s all the rage now in the media. Only women born as women know what I am talking about, and only women born as women are women.

It’s about the monthly blood bomb that is a woman’s lot from the early teens until forever!

I am going to talk about myself here. This is my story.

I have lived a half-life because of the blood bomb for forty years. Yes, forty years of monthly pain, excessive blood pouring forth from my vagina, monthly blood migraines – induced by my female hormones – cramps, nausea, tiredness, irritability, violent rages pre-and during the blood bomb, and this has been occuring now for forty years, and is still continuing.

40 years! For every month of these past 40 years, a half of that month has been locked down in pre-menstrual aches, headaches, pains and hormonal anger. I have ridden the wave of this, like all women, with dignity, with resignation, philosophically, living my life as happily and as productively and as energetically as I have been able.

What is the point of this blog, you might ask? All women have periods, right! The point of my rant is this: Up until the age of 13-and-a-half I was a happy, balanced, active child. I had clear thoughts and I was able to study and focus on happy things. I was a kid. I played guitar, wrote my diary, had happy times with my friends, loved ballet, did ballet, loved my family – especially my kind and supportive dad, and never had a moment of self-doubt.

That all changed the day I had my first period. I was on holiday on the Island of Oland off the coast of Sweden. It was summer 1978. I was 14-and-a-half. I was having a lovely holiday, walking, cycling, going down to the local farm to buy milk from the farmer. I was drawing and writing in my diary and was happy. Then as if overnight, that happiness vanished. I got my period. I remember seeing that first clot of blood on the toilet paper and remember my happiness evaporating there and then. The light in the bathroom became duller. Everything became silent and echoing. The first thing I remember was I had to tell my best friend, but she was a long way away in Ireland. I would write her a letter telling her.

But I actually felt horrified, disgusted. The days went on and I felt no better. A couple of days later on a trip to Stockholm with my parents and brother, I thought my world had ended. You’ll have to get used to this – were the only words of comfort my mother offered me. My father just smiled at me in an embarrassed way, a kind way but embarrased all the same. It was not a subject that was ever mentioned again.

So, the joylessness of periods had arrived, and for the next 40 years I would have to suffer chronic blood loss once a month, the cost of tampons, sanitary towels, that god-awful hippy Mooncup thing which I tried for a couple of months then threw in the recycle bin. Imagine stuffing that up your vagina every month, then retrieving it and washing it up, then doing the restuffing? It’s hell.

And there’s the hormone headaches that I have endured almost every month for 40 years, my period migraine, I call it.

My happiness times in my life have been when my periods have gone AWOL. Pregnancy – no periods – fantastic. But those times have only have amounted to a total of 18 months in a period of 40 years.

Why am I going on about this? Because I am 54 and after having no periods for six months, a happy time for me, where I felt healthier and more vibrant and more energetic than I have ever felt, since being 13 years old, I now have my period back in full on blood bomb rage, paying me back for being absent for six months by giving me a double dose of everything, including low mood, migraines and clot explosions.

And while we’re on the subject of hormonal rage and a deputy-bank of england governor and his misogynist remarks about the UK economy being ‘menopausal’ due to its sluggish and lazy non-growth, I will tell you this, Mr Deputy Governor and the transexuals of this world, Deputy Governor, you’re a lazy misogynist – menopause means leaving periods behind and we’re now free to take on the world – and we do – and to the transexuals – do what you want with your body but don’t you dare tell me you identify as a woman, because you will never be a woman. You will never know what it is like to be a woman. 

I want a time without periods. Period. I want to be that balanced, happy 13-year-old again but in my 54-year-old body. Who the hell would want to be a woman? It’s damned hard but women are good at it. Real women that is.