I'm not a ploughman, someone less romantic,
And I do westward wend my weary way,
But like the rustic swain, with step iambic,
I slowly plod and plod 'til close of day.
Today was a bit of a plod. In fact, it was a bugger of a plod. I spent most of the day on the N635: in the morning because the hospitalero suggested that it was shorter and safer than the official route, and in the afternoon because for much of the time it was the official route.
So in lieu of more interesting things to describe along the way, here are a few ploditudes, practical, not profound, pieces of advice that I have been reflecting upon, which I now pass on, and which I have probably given before, but which now come to mind because I have failed to follow them myself.
The first is to get out of your boots those little bits of grit that you inevitably throw up as you walk and which fall down the back of your heel and make their way under your foot. This is hard to bring yourself to do, because you're in full stride and the last thing you want to do is stop and take your boots off. You just hope that the grit will make its way off to the side, and it usually does, but it can settle under your heel or the ball of your foot, and cause trouble.
The second is to be aware that when you order a single course at a bar or restaurant, anything else, including bread, you will pay for. In France, they will throw the bread in; in Spain, you will pay for it. Recently, I paid 7.50€ for a salad, and 3.00€ for three stale chunks of bread. The best deal is to get the menu du jour with wine and bread included.
The third is to make sure that nothing is left adrift when your stuff is jammed up against your neighbour's in a full hostel. Shove anything that moves back in your pack, or keep the things you'll need in sacks with a string tightener, which you can loop around the frame of your bunk. I used to lose my sleeping bag sack until I did this.
If the hostel's crammed,
And your stuff is jammed,
Against your neighbour's gear,
Then put it back,
Inside your pack,
Dont leave it in the clear.
Or here's the thing,
Just tie the string
That draws your sack up tight,
Around the frame,
And then you're hame,
And all is well at night.
And your valuables? Always keep your money and passport in their pouch about your person, although at nights I loop it around the frame as well, next to my head, or attach it to my pack if it's next to me. As for phones, cameras, etc., everyone seems to leave them charging, unattended, at every available socket. Ah, and make sure that your adapter doesn't stay in the socket when you pull out the charger!!
The one little variation from the plod along the highway was a nice little walk on a footpath from Unquera up to the hilltop town of Colombres, where the Spanish bourgeois who had made their fortune in the New World built elaborate houses in the Indianos style. Of la Quinta de Guadeloupe below, which now houses a museum of emigration, one is temped to say that it is not Gaudi, but gaudy.
I was planning to stay at the pilgrims' albergue at Pendueles, but it was closed, so rather walk on for another15 kms, I am treating myself to a room at the local inn.