Epiphany of a Meat Eater

I’ve been back from the United States a little over a week now, and I’m being tested.

While I was in Los Angeles I had an epiphany. I mentioned this in the post Finding a Saint in the City of Angels. 

I’d stepped into the Yogananda Lake Shrine Temple up on Pacific Pallisades. I’d sat on a chair looking at the wall in front of me. There was an array of portraits of Sacred Masters on the wall.

Sacred Masters

I began to meditate, and as I slipped into a stillness I got a sudden and very clear, very unambiguous message: The message was that I had to stop eating meat.

More than that, I was told that if I was about to eat meat, then I had to imagine that I was looking into the eyes of the creature or beast that I was about to eat, and ask myself whether I felt comfortable killing the animal.


Anyone who knows me, anyone who’s spent any time with me, anyone who’s walked with me, knows what an eager carnivore I am. More than eager, the word voracious springs to mind.


Those of you who’ve followed this blog might remember on my Camino last year, I tracked down a restaurant that specialised in steak and I gorged myself on a Fred Flinstone sized chunk of meat, conveniently cut into bite sized pieces, that still resonates with me as being the best steak I’ve ever had – ever.

Steak 2

Those of you who went on the Camino Portuguese tour will remember the gusto with which I attacked the Portuguese chicken meals that were placed in front of me.

Think of a Great White Shark and chum.
Think of the T-Rex being fed in the opening scene of Jurassic Park.
Think of a pack of rabid dogs attacking a hapless fawn. 

That was me and Portuguese chicken.

closer on chickens

I’m not a natural vegetarian. But since that moment in the temple I’ve not eaten meat. I’ve had salads and beans and tofu and nuts and more beans and chick peas and lentils and miso soup.

And some fish.

I stared into the eyes of that fish and thought – you’re gone buddy.

When I got back from America I went on a three day fast. I needed to clean my body out. Tonight I’m having spinach pie with feta cheese and carrot salad.

Can I keep this up? I really don’t know.

I’m not being silly about it. The Buddhist texts tell me to tread the Middle Path. If I’m invited to someone’s house and they’re serving meat, I’ll eat what’s placed in front of me, gratefully and graciously.

But I know that when I next go to Spain, it’s going to be hard resisting meat.

My son had pork chops last night. I love pork chops, but last night I had no urge to grab the chop from his plate and munch into it. I had corn and baked potatoes with an avocado salad. And it was yummy.

I travel to India quite a lot and over there it’s easy being vegetarian. There are “veg” and “non-veg” menus in the restaurants. Most Hindus are vegetarian. Restaurants are set up to cater for non-veg meals. Except those with a tandoori oven. Tandoori chicken in India is unlike tandoori chicken anywhere else. It is sublime.

When I next go to India I’m sure I will meet some chickens that deserve to die. I know that already, sitting here in front of my laptop in Mudgee. I will stare into their glassy beady little eyes and know that they are not long for this earthly plane. As I smell their succulent flesh simmering in that tandoori oven, I will momentarily lament their passing.

But then, maybe I’ll spare them. Maybe I’ll stick to the veg meals. Maybe the chickens will have a few more days picking through the garbage out the back of the restaurant.

I’m being tested. I know I am.

I’m not saying this is a life-long conversion. All I’m saying is that right at this moment I’m giving a lot of thought to the implications of what I choose to eat.

Too many times as I’ve walked along a country lane I’ve looked over into the paddocks and seen frolicking little lambs and soulful-eyed cows and I’ve thought of them being killed in abattoirs for food. It’s always unsettled me. But my desire for meat has always overridden these little stabs of guilt.

But that damn voice in the Lake Shrine Temple has changed everything.

For now.

Each day I try to be a good pilgrim.
I don’t always succeed.
But that’s my journey through this life…


98 thoughts on “Epiphany of a Meat Eater

  1. Oh Bill, this is so very funny. July 19 to 22 I went to a Spa/Retreat. I needed time out, so much sad and frustrating stuff going on in my family, all to do with my mother in law and myself being the “family face and voice”. My pilgrim serenity has left me many times, too often and I longed for some peace and quiet.

    So I traveled into the Muskoka Highlands to a place near Bancroft, to Grail Springs for Summer Solstice with high expectations…. I should have remembered my Camino teachings. Don’t have expectations.

    It is a lovely place on Spur Lake, (no boat traffice – yeah). All you could hear were the bull frogs and lunes and a pair of chipmunks racing around the ground and deck and jumping over your feet in their exhuberant chatter. The odd garder snake sunbathing and a few watersnakes gracefully swimming from shore to shore. Blue Herons, Falcons and the odd eagel and the owls, just for my benefit for sure.

    The grounds have a labyrinth, teepee with Shamanic ceremonies (indian country here), crystal blacksand pit – the entire area is on massive rosequartz deposits. Horses with a horse whisperer – nice chap. and a resident walking guide that will take you to the crystal grove and two vortexes and Gandolph’s Staff… – there is a separate story to this.

    I went on a drum journey which was moved to a clinical treatment room due to the teepee having been flooded by recent downpours – and it was a bust – so the start of my retreat set the tone for the rest of the time.

    I got my chakras charted – I am little bit out of wack… duh, hmmm, guess why I am here.. to recenter… I know and yes I understand that my brow chakra is ridiculously wide open… and all over the place. Yes I know my throat chakra is not open – I feel like I am talking to the wind and totally have lost my voice. My heart chakra is so tightly shut down… yep… I’ve slipped back into my box. Nothing feels natural, nothing feel right. Oh thank you, my crown chakra is wide open and that is a wonderful blessing, because without the connection to the spirit and divine… who knows how I would cope. And with help of my turtle totem, I am still well grounded.

    It’s Summer Solstice… lets gather around the fire pit and celebrate -., get some drums and sing and dance. Nothing. Hello Universe – did you not guide me here – the primo uno place for celebrating Solstices in Canada? Did my own thing and got a few interesting questions and looks

    What I had somehow neglected to realize is the fact that most guests had come for their bodywraps, facials, manicures, massages of every king (loved my foot reflexology) juice fasts and detox and lots and lots of Yoga (Did I mention that I am not a yoga person)

    Interestingly enough, for 2 evenings we had a guest speaker who was talking on dreams….oh yes… I am in my element. What is Life – but a Dream… and I dream walk a lot, nothing like what I did on the Camino… just enough to know that all is ok. Some interesting discussions and exercises, some serious, some felt more like parlour tricks… but people think me nuts most of the time anyway… so who am I to judge another nut. 😉

    I had come for spiritual renewal, reconnecting my soul to my heart, meditate and be still. I was introduced to the Grail Mantra and THAT I loved and continue each day. I had brought with me (never travel without, even on Camino) my ceremonial tea set and greeted each morning on the deck with my own ceremony giving thanks to the four elements – a family tradition.

    So why am I writing all this… because, by virtue of being there… got introduced to a strict alkaline vegetarian diet (Do I know how to cook with quinoa and chia now – YES and I love hemp seed – makes me feel like a Hippie) I now love almond milk, and make delicious desserts with dark chocolate and ground almonds. Haven’t had a coffee yet!

    I, much like yourself am a carnivour… I do love my steak almost rare, my chicken crisp and well done and my pork chops are to die for – lol

    I know I am not a vegetarian – but I felt really good (bonus I lost 3 kg) and even with the odd egg and goat cheese.(just no getting around goat cheese), and an array of steamed fish, I am happy to eat like this for a little while longer.

    Oh did I mention, no alcohol – just lemon water with a touch of maple syrup and cayenne pepper, and lots and lots of what they called tea and I call herbals.

    I had my first glass of beer last night and it felt like cheating… but then I remembered there is no such thing as cheating… right… just like on the Camino.

    I will be watching your journey into no meat for now. I will see how much longer I can be tempted away from a juicy steak. Pretending to look into the face of a cow, or chicken or pork, or fish would not deter me. .I was partially brought up on a farm and the river of life flows as nature’s bounty serves all.

    Light and Love to you all – Ingrid (who longs to be a walking pilgrim again)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Ingrid – firstly, I’m so pleased I found this in the spam folder. Don’t ask me why it ended up there – it just did. I think WordPress has an algorithm which places all long posts in spam.

      Anyway, not to worry – I released it – and thank goodness I did, because what a bewitching story you tell! I was with you through that entire time you were there. You painted such a vivid picture.

      It sounds like you had an amazing time – and good for you that you took your tea set!

      Not for the first time it sounds to me like we two are very similar in nature and makeup. Your attitude to circling vegetarianism is similar to mine. Unlike you though I do embrace yoga – I find it helps some of my long term injuries, and it keeps my joints from rusting up! 🙂

      Thank you for this entrancing post – it’s late here in Mudgee and I’m about to go to sleep, but this has made my evening!



  2. Bill, I had just typed a very long contribution to this blog entry… and it went up into ether space and whoosh is gone. I guess I wasn’t mend to write it, or for you all to read it. lol


  3. Bill,

    Vegetarianism (is that a word) would never be on my list of desires, but you do give me cause to clean up my iwn eating in my own way.

    As a side note, the world seems to be obsessed with losing “weight” when i believe the focus should always be on losing “fat”. I believe a lean body is a healthier body. Once you achieve a lean body it is much easier to maintain that because the lower fat percentage you have, the higher the base metabolic rate which means you burn more calories all day long, even resting. BTW, cutting calories too low lowers your BMR, which provokes the body into storing fat and burning muscle. At least these are my sincere and practiced beliefs.


    • I agree Steve…. the weight loss… was unexpected and it is not why I went there… but hey… never look a gift horse in the mouth.

      You are a master of lean and healthy and whilst I never desired to have such defined muscles… I do feel much healthier when I am “leaner”. 🙂


      • Ingrid,

        I am a work in progress. I am surprised at how easy it is for me to stay lean without following a rigorous diet and exercise program all of the time. Yes, perhaps more than most people, but I am not fanatical or obsessed by it. I have to attribute it to “the leaner you are the leaner you stay because muscle matabolizes faster than fat”, so low body fat always leads to an easier task of remaining with low body fat. Not “fair”, but it is definitely true. I will be 72 tomorrow. I am anxious to see what I look like and feel like at 80. As I said, a work in progress. But for now, I do need to tighten my eating, get back to regular work outs, and get back to aerobic activities. I have been really lax since going to Portugal with Bill. Was I influenced by him??? Could be. He is a powerful personality. 🙂

        Sounds like you had a great time at your retreat.


        Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Steve – firstly, a pre-emptive Happy Birthday mate from Down Under – we’re a day ahead and so we get to wish you birthday greetings early! I hope you have a great day mate – do you have any special plans?

      Glad to hear that you might clean up your eating based on this post, but from what I can tell your eating is pretty damn clean to start with! I’m not sure how you could clean it up much more! 🙂

      As for losing weight, I’m sure you realise that wasn’t the purpose of this post – I’m exploring the morality of eating, not the loss of weight that comes with being a vegetarian. And the three day fast wasn’t to lose weight, it was to clean my body out after eating in a foreign country. I usually do that when I come back from an overseas trip.

      It also resets my mind. Gets me back in focus…


      • Bill,

        Thanks for the birthday greeting from Down Under. Spend it with family mostly, and it definitely includes cake and ice cream.

        BTW, just remembered i returned from Spain the first Camino a year ago yesterday. My sister had a big cake for me two days later on my birthday then too. A repeat this year.

        “Morality of eating”. Now that’s a new one. I quit hunting and personally killing 30 years ago, but i did not stop eating meat. Not likely i ever will. I find no moral conflict whatsoever. But, that’s just me.


        Sent from my iPhone


  4. Bill, your writing is such a treat. Thank you for the great start to my day! In a former post, I shared with you that I toy with vegetarianism myself. I am by no means a convert, but I enjoy eating more plant-based meals and I feel better for it. I recently had some blood work to check for nutritional deficiencies. Not surprisingly, I was deficient in vitamin B-12. If you stick with your meatless diet consider a B-12 supplement. More surprising — given my Popeye approach to daily eating — I also have an iron deficiency. If you feel a bit less energetic lack of iron may be the issue. Apparently iron from plants and iron from animal sources are two different beasties! I, too, love Indian food for the incredible things they do with vegetables. What I wouldn’t give to head to my favorite vegetarian Indian restaurant (in Maryland just outside Washington DC) at this very moment! Julie


    • Hey, Julie, I’m going to be in DC in a few weeks. What’s the name of that restaurant & where is it? 🙂 Britta


      • Hey, Britta! You lucky woman you! So happy for you. I just love DC. I have been blessed to live there twice albeit for short spells. The restaurant is the Woodlands Restaurant. I believe it is in Langley Park, but all the suburbs kind of blur together in the DC area. The restaurant has — or used to have — a daily lunch buffet. I always went for lunch so I cannot speak to the dinner experience. From the outside it looks to be a bit of “a-hole-in-the-wall” place but the food is outstanding. If this is too far from your hotel, you can find plenty of Indian restaurants in the DC area. Some vegetarian, some not. I use Yelp on my iPad to find places to dine when traveling.

        If you like zoos, the National Zoo is a nice place for a morning stroll, and like all 19 museums belonging to the “Smithsonian Museum”, it is free of an admission charge. I used to love to walk at the zoo in the early morning and listen to the howler monkeys. The Mall has a somewhat pricey tram called the “Tourmobile”. It goes to the Mall (Capitol, Smithsonian Musuem, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Memorial etc.) as well as Arlington Cemetery and the Jefferson Memorial. You buy a ticket (probably $35 or so) but it is an all day ticket and you hop on and off the tram as you desire. The Botanical Garden is a nice respite and usually not very crowded. Another fun thing is to rent a paddle boat on the tidal basin. You peddle it like a bicycle. The tidal basin is small but it’s a fun way to spend an hour. There is also a nice walking area around the tidal basin.

        Have a wonderful time!! Let me know if you need more info on the DC area (phoenixjules@msn.com). I lived there for a total of five years, but not since 2004! Julie


        • Thanks, Julie, for all the info! I actually lived in DC too, for a year working as an au-pair but back in 1968 looking after baby twin boys!!! Not only am I in touch with them and their parents (who live in THE most gorgeous pent house apartment in K Street right down by the Potomac) but as I have an ‘adopted’ American family, with one of the brothers living near the end of the metro line in Virginia, I am lucky enough to have nice people and places to stay. Had actually forgotten about the zoo, but will definitely put that on my list of things to do (am travellelling with a friend who has never been to DC, so will no doubt do all the stuff on your list!) but the time, we lived around the corner and I often took the boys for a walk there as the paths were wide enough to accommodate the double-width stroller!! Brings back wonderful memories 🙂 Thanks for your email; will be in touch.:)

          Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Julie, many thanks for the comp re my writing – very sweet of you!

      You’re right about iron and the various vitamins. I’m conscious of that – but at the moment I’m feeling great. Getting back into walking daily too, which I let lapse on the trip. There just wasn’t the time (excuses excuses) – what with all the driving each day.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi everyone – great conversation – thanks for sharing your thoughts Bill and once again introducing a topic that gives us all much food for thought (excuse the pun!).
    I’m typing this comment in the bar of Hotel Gaudi in Astorga (Bill – I think you stayed here last year if I remember correctly) where I’m staying for a couple of nights before starting the volunteership at Rabanal on Sunday. I’ve met up with Julie, who Bill and Jen know from Pilgrims in Sydney and we’re going for dinner shortly. It’s completely wonderful to be back on the Camino – to say I’m happy doesn’t go anywhere near how I feel! But I digress …
    Back on topic – as a non-vegetarian I guess that all we can hope for is that the meat we eat is slaughtered ethically, as it certainly is in Australia. We can follow the No Meat Monday plan which is very popular in the UK in order to reduce our meat consumption and generally be more aware and respectful of the fact that an animal’s life has been taken in order that we are nourished.
    I wish you were here with me! What a time we’d all have!
    Cheers – Jenny

    Liked by 3 people

      • It’s where I bought the lavender balls in the supermarcado, and from then on had no problemo with chinches. Have a great time Jenny and go have a cerveca at Pilars. Light and Love Ingrid (who is just a tad envious)

        Liked by 1 person

        • Hi Ingrid –
          I bought the lavender balls yesterday – they’re great! Thanks so much for the tip!
          I’ll have a toast to you at Pilar’s.
          It won’t be long before you find yourself in the hospitalera role – and when you are in that role you will be awesome!
          Jenny xx

          Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Britta and Ingrid –
        Ta muchly to you both for your good wishes. I will toast you both with chocolate but beforehand will toast you with a glass of something that’s red and liquid and is poured from a Spanish bottle!
        Britta – I’ll pass on your good wishes to Julie.
        Ingrid, thanks so much for the tip about the lavender balls – I’ll get some tomorrow. Are they something you put in your luggage? I’m paranoid about those little rotters and anything I can do to keep them off me is a step I’ll take! I’ll say cheers for you at Pilar’s!
        Cheers – Jenny x x


        • Jenny, I bought some lavendar essential oil and mixed it with jojoba oil (any carrier oil will do, probably even olive if that is all you can get) which I rubbed on my skin after my shower. I did not see the lavendar balls but I bet you can have one under your pillow, at your feet, and in your suitcase! Enjoy your volunteership! I am excited for you! Julie


          • Hey, Jen, years ago, I made lavender bags to put over your eyes when you were doing a lying meditation or Yoga Nidra. Just loved them and so much so (in my usual fashion!), I made a bunch and donated them to the yoga school 🙂


        • Hi Jenny
          I’ll drink to that! Would love a glass of the red stuff pored from a Spanish bottle! Hooly Dooly! We are having an Ensalada Mixta for dinner tonight. Got tired of exactly the same salad time after time but now miss them! Have a wonderful time at Guacelmo! Give us some updates on your stay!

          Liked by 1 person

        • Jenny
          When we were in Astorga I did not have any chocolate! Wanted to go to the chocolate museum but timing just didn’t work. We were having a drink at a little outdoor place with a Camino friend and she ordered hot chocolate. She was thinking of the liquid stuff we call hot chocolate in the US that is very liquid like the consistency of coffee. What she got was more like pudding. One had to use a spoon. Is that the chocolate you are all raving about or is it chocolate candy that is so good?
          Hope you have a stupendous time at Guacelmo! Fond memories of the afternoon tea and munchies offered.
          The Lozner Caboose


          • Dear Lynda, hope an answer is better late than never?! Re the Astorga chocolate, we’re talking both about the actual blocks of chocolate, literally huge shops filled with chocolate presented like the proverbial 42 types of icecream … lots and lots and lots of choice of types and fillings – AND also the hot chocolate ‘drink’ that you can’t drink, but have to eat with a spoon. For a chocoholic like me it was heaven, and since we didn’t have to carry our cases, I bought a few block to sustain me over the next few days of walking!! 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

          • Hi Lynda –
            The chocolate that I love is the block variety from Astorga! It’s sensational!
            We had the thick liquid one in Leon and that’s fabulous too.
            Thanks so much for your good wishes – Hopefully the wi fi access won’t be too bad. No wi fi at Gaucelmo so I will be using the wifi at Gaspar or one of the bars.
            Hooly Dooly! Everything is going to be wonderful!
            Hugs from me too to you –
            Jenny xx


    • Hey Jenny – great to hear from you. Astorga is one of my favourite places along the Camino. I was only there one night, and would have loved to have stayed longer. It’s really a place you can explore.

      You must be very excited about what’s coming up for you. Would you be interested in doing a guest blog or two? It would be great to get your thoughts on being a hospitalero. And what you learn etc.

      Say hello to Julie for Jen and me. She is a lovely lady. And so pleased that you are so happy!!

      By the way, Jennifer and I are going to the Camino dinner on Wednesday night in Sydney, to meet up with Britta and Janet etc. We’ll miss you!!



      • Despite only 3 Caminos so far, I’ve passed through Astorga 8 times so far while on pilgrimage, each time by a completely different route, and I’m likely to go via 2 different routes this time as well — it’s an equally important, strange, beautiful, and scary place for me — it’s where I abandoned my first Camino (before being dragged back to it), as well as where I converted to Christianity a year later during my second. My only normal route through Astorga so far has been the 2005 one.

        Seared into my memory forever is the very instant in 1993 when I dumped my pack on the tarmac there, in ’93, to start the hitch-hike home — the very moment of giving up — just as the pack hit the ground, lightning struck the nearest telegraph pole.



        • hi julian – I remember you telling me/us about that moment of giving up, but I never knew that lighting struck. And twice! That’s pretty amazing. And talk about spirit/universe/god sending you a message!



      • Hi Bill – Astorga really is a beautiful town – the couple of days Julie and I have had here have been wonderful.
        It would be a privilege to do a guest blog – thank you so much for offering me the opportunity to do one or two. I’ve been told that wi-fi access is patchy at Rabanal so if this proves to be the case I can let you have everything once I’m in Santiago.
        It was an incredible feeling waking up this morning knowing that the day I’ve looked forward to so much for well over a year, is finally here.
        Enjoy the pilgrim meeting on Wednesday night – Julie and I will be thinking of you all.
        Cheers xx


        • Hey jenny – any time you want to do a blog, you’d be more than welcome! Just email it to me at: billpgsblog@gmail.com And any photos too if you have them. It would be great to get your thoughts at the start – what your expectations are, and what you’re afraid of – then a week or so in – and things that you’ve learnt, and any funny experiences or characters that you meet. It would be great!

          Yes, britta and janet and I will drink a jug of sangria in honour of you on Wednesday night! Oh, I mean a glass… 🙂



      • Ah, but if you happen not to be religious, just concerned for the planet and what you put in your mouth, having a ‘meat free Friday’ makes it not a compulsion, but a choice to think about 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I think a lot of whether one can or cannot, should or shouldn’t, eat meat is related to blood-type and other such factors of ancestry …

    that is to say — we are not all of us equally omnivorous, vegetarian, nor carnivorous

    my basic diet should be, and isn’t, a lean meat and greens one, very similar to the “caveman diet” that’s currently fashionable

    I’ve cooked for veggies — and enjoyed what I’ve cooked, and received fullsome compliments from veggies for providing them with the sorts of (protein-filled) vegetarian dishes that a carnivore loves, but with no tofu nor other such, and that almost nobody makes for them

    — anyway, I think those of us with any prehistoric genetic ancestry in ancient farmlands will be inherently better off with the vegetable, whilst those of us with a more hunter-gatherer ancestry will be more omnivorous as well as more desirous of meat and with less harm from it

    PS — hi Bill and everyone ; sorry for dropping off the radar like that, personal reasons — looking increasingly likely I’ll be heading off towards Lourdes to start on my mad expedition Westwards between about 10th-15th August


    • How right you are. I LOVE the vegetarian food provided at the yoga ashram I often stay at, but when leaving after a few days I salivate at the thought of a nice piece of meat or fish! Have a wonderful time on your Lourdes walk. We, of course, entirely forgive you for dropping out, but I’m equally sure we’de love to hear from you on that walk 🙂 – and I’m being presumptuous here, but am pretty sure all the others in the PGS ‘family’ would agree with me???!!! Britta


    • Hey Julian – great to hear from you. I hope those things that kept you from this blog have all sorted out satisfactorily.

      Fantastic news you’re doing the pilgrimage in August. I take it your knee is better now? Are you planning to go all the way through to Santiago?

      Give some thought to regularly posting here. If you’re interested in doing that, contact me on: billpgsblog@gmail.com and I’ll walk you through how we can do it. I’m sure everyone on this blog would love to hear how you go, and your thoughts as you go.

      Again, good to see you back here…


      • well — one of the things that kept me away is not entirely dissimilar to your own occasional perfectionism …

        I’m a bit of a gamer ; a friend of mine had been trying to introduce me to an online game for some time, and I eventually decided to give it a try.

        He warned me it would take about 2-3 years to learn enough to start playing at the top level — naturally, being the sort of annoying perfectionist that I can be if I get bloody-minded enough about anything, it took me 2 (very time-consuming) months to reach that level — just as naturally as I refused to listen to virtually all advice from others about how to play the thing …

        Well — that particular time sink is past me now, and I find my thoughts are being gathered more powerfully than at any time since 2005 back towards the Camino … maybe I was in need of getting out of the online Camino communities for a while, and subconsciously used that game as a means to that goal ?


        … though of course, my knees were not happy during that time either, so the gaming also provided a useful distraction from dwelling on that pain and worrying about whether I wouldn’t need to scrap 2014 completely and start aiming for 2015 instead … which WAS a real concern !!

        The physiotherapy sessions have been extremely helpful — thank heavens — and my left knee is starting to feel virtually normal again. (right knee is back to its usual degree of pain, rather than twice as bad — my doctor’s giving me a new round of injections starting this coming week though, and these should be very helpful)

        I’ve followed Steve’s excellent advice, and got myself a second brace for the knee that doesn’t need one — and MY, was he 100% right, and MY, does it improve hiking balance !!!

        My new boots seem to have arrived at the Post Office, though I’ll see if I can’t get the old ones re-soled and re-heeled — which might involve a journey to Marseilles !!! (they’re simply that many sizes too big for anyone other than an official military shoemaker)


        yeah OK, I’ll e-mail you !!! — I’ve decided against taking the laptop though, hitch-hiking with the thing in my pack last winter was enough to convince me of the bad-idea-ness of it, so I’m not sure how many updates I’ll be able to post along the way ; I think blogging as such daily and so on will likely be unfeasible.

        My plan is to avoid all mountains (as much as possible), which will mean Somport rather than St Jean Pied de Port ; possibly the tunnel rather than the 8 KM climb ; finding an alternative route into Burgos ; bypassing Cruz de Ferro by taking a more northerly route around the mountains after Astorga ; Camino de Invierno instead of the wall of O Cebreiro ; and so on …

        And to walk for at least 2 months — which hopefully should let me do at least a decent section of the walk back to France, and if my knee behaves and if my daily speed gets high enough for it, then I’d realy really like to walk all the way to Saint Jean Pied de Port (it’s MUCH easier than the Somport in the opposite direction) — as it’s something I’ve wanted to do for 20 years.

        (if this is too long for the spam filter, as usual LOL, you could always try and convince me to flesh it out into a few more detailed blog posts — 🙂 )

        Liked by 2 people

        • During training I’ve walked further than the distance from Lourdes to Santiago — including one straight 7-hour hike of between 35 and 40 K through hills and forestry and unmarked pathways through farmland and the wilderness and then vineyards (and yes, it WAS as tough as it sounds) ; the terrain will nearly always be easier than that on the route that I have planned.

          I don’t want to burn myself out in training though, even though I’ll need to do at least some amount in July.


          • Yes – it seems like your therapy is going well. You don’t want to disrupt your progress by pushing it in training.

            I suspect you have a high level of residual stamina at any rate… 🙂



        • Hi Julian – wow, a lot to process here. Firstly, the gaming thing sounds intense. And probably was a necessary distraction, but also an intellectual challenge which will have benefits in other ways that you might have already been made aware of, or are yet to reveal themselves.

          The medical work on your knees also seems intense – but useful. And it’s given you the confidence now to consider 2014.

          I must admit, I feel the waters in my dam buffeting up against the walls – to do a long walk. But right at the moment I have to concentrate on other things.

          But back to your post: So you’re going to walk from Lourdes to Santiago and back again? Bloody hell – really?

          Don’t worry about laptops etc – just email me your posts from an internet cafe or a computer in an albergue, and if you can send some photos – and I’ll format it all and post it up on the blog. There’s no need to take your own computer. It really is as simple as that – just send me your post in an email and I’ll handle it from there.

          Again, I know a lot of people who check in on this blog would follow you with a huge amount of interest.


          Liked by 1 person

          • So you’re going to walk from Lourdes to Santiago and back again? Bloody hell – really?

            I’m going to walk from Lourdes to Santiago — I will TRY and walk from Santiago to Saint Jean Pied de Port.

            The first is a MUST ; the second is a wait-and-see-if-I-can.

            2005 home to Santiago then Santiago to Ponferrada plus extras was a longer trip than that anyway !!

            at the end of the day, my knees will decide …

            Liked by 1 person

          • Hi Julian – yes, it’s about 350kms from my home to the airport, depending on which route I take. (That will be the hardest section too by the way, because there’s no infrastructure and there are a few long legs where there’s no accommodation) – and then about 1000kms to SJPP (mixture of Paris route and Vezelay) and then 800kms to SdC? Depending on where I drop from the Paris route to the Dordogne, it could even be a little longer…



          • If you follow my Orléans > Nevers suggestion — well, not only is walking riverside by the Loire gloriously beautiful in itself, but that “detour” will take through the Sancerre wine-growing region — and it would end up adding perhaps as little as 50 KM to the length of your Camino, as the “official” route from Orléans is downriver to Tours and is itself a “detour” from the shortest route …


          • That sounds wonderful Julian. Are there paths away from the roads? And is it well signposted? Damn, I just want to get out there now and start walking!!


        • Just checked my distances — Lourdes to Santiago is about 1000 K ; which I’ll surely manage

          plus the 700+ for the walk back to France, that I’ll do my best for, adds up to a 1700 KM target

          So, still a fairly decent stretch, but I’d guess about 700 K shorter than my 2005 Camino from home … (first time I’ve actually done the adding up properly for that one BTW, and it does seem that I walked around 2400 K that year !!! )


          • Julian – 2400kms is mad! It’s no wonder you’re having knee issues now! That said, 1700kms, if you give yourself sufficient time, is do-able, I would have thought. And it would be an incredible walk. How long do you think it will take you?

            I am still giving very serious thought to my long walk – from my front door (in Mudgee, Central New South Wales) to the airport at Sydney, then flying to Paris, and walking from Paris to SdC. I do though want to drop down to the Dordogne, because I love that region of France.

            I don’t think I’ll be able to do it this year though, because I have to start work on the PGS film in September, and I think it will take me through to Christmas.

            I will be in Europe before Christmas. Would you be back in France at that time?



          • really have no idea how long it will take — but my plan is to walk for at least two months, then towards the end make up my mind about how far I’ll want to go on the return ; if my knees behave though, it shouldn’t take that much more than 2 months from Lourdes to SJPP ; and even if I can’t make it that far, I won’t be walking for any much longer than that

            I will most definitely be in France at Christmas !!!

            The Dordogne isn’t that much of a detour from the Paris route, not really —

            ….. though ….. hmmmm ….. the Vézelay Way, which is BTW notorious as being hands down the easiest one in France, goes right through the middle of Dordogne !!!

            Vézelay is also a quite amazing place … I’d love to return there myself !!

            Soooooo … you could do Paris > Orléans > Vézelay > Vézelay Way to Dordogne, SJPP and Santiago … OR, which might very well be even better, Paris > Orléans, then just follow the Loire upriver instead of down, skipping Vézelay altogether, and join up with the Vézelay Way at Nevers, and from there down towards Dordogne and SJPP ?

            The great thing about the Pilgrim Ways in Western France is that you really can mix’n’match various bits and pieces of them to your own liking …


            Chatting like this is very useful BTW, it really helps get the time and distance factors in sharper perspective, so I’m sure now I’ll have to leave at the earliest possible date in August, which means out of my front door on Wednesday 6th August, or more likely the day after, Thursday 7th

            I can get a super el cheapo train to Arles on that day, then hitch-hike the rest of the way to Lourdes — spend Sunday 10th there, morning Latin Mass at the Upper Basilica etc — then maybe start walking on the 11th ?

            Liked by 1 person

          • Hi Julian – start of my day here now! 🙂

            2 months seems like you’d be really hoofing it to do 1700kms – that’s over 200kms a week, week after week – and that’s pretty demanding. It might take you longer perhaps?

            As for my journey, I want to talk to you closer to the time. This is something I will definitely do. I’ve made up my mind to do it. So it will happen. But not sure if it will be this year. I want to allocate at least 3 months for it – and I’ve been reading up on the Vezelay route. It looks beautiful. But I also love the Loire – and would like to follow that for as long as I can before dropping down into the Dordonge. I’ve been to Orleans several times now, and it’s very beautiful. That whole region is beautiful, but so is the Dordogne, and so is the Lot.

            Glad to had that this chatting is helping you sort some stuff. Me too. You are very knowledgeable, and I know that as I begin to seriously plan my pilgrimage, your help will be invaluable.


            Liked by 1 person

          • oh — well, Bill, my absolute maximum time limit is actually more like 3 months — 2 months is the minimum time I’ll want to walk if nothing goes wrong …

            so really more like 70 days at about 25 KM / day average, which I already know I can manage …

            the truly crazy stuff was my Paris > Santiago Camino in ’94 — 39.5 KM / day average over 1730 KM and 44 days … LOL

            (though the craziest people in the world can manage a 200 KM / day average … )


        • Tried to get some help for my Credencial today — however the person I tried to get assistance from is right now on the Camino, at the Orisson refugio up in the Pyrenees stage that, if all goes well, will be the very final stage of my own Camino


          and I’ll also see her on 6th August at the local pilgrims office immediately prior to my own departure …


  7. Hey Bill. Being a vegetarian for awhile won’t do you much harm. I was one for 15 years but on a long trip to the middle east found it difficult to be vegetarian. I remember going to a ‘vegetarian’ restaurant in Damascus with a wide range of vegetarian meals on the menu. It looked great but everything I pointed to they said ‘Sorry we don’t have that’. In the end I just aked them what they did have. The waiter pointed to three pots on the stove in the kitchen…lamb, chicken and beef (sigh) but that was 20 years ago.

    Thirty years ago I went to a restaurant in Wollongong and there was nothing on the menu I could eat. I explained I was a vegetarian and just ordered a salad. The waitress came back to tell me the chef wouldnt serve me WTF. I feel like I forged a path for others:-) But it is much easier now. Good luck.


    • Hi Sean – I know you are very careful about what you eat, because of your Buddhist training, and your martial arts training. You are one very disciplined person!!

      By the way, I have a very similar story to yours re vegetarianism. I was in my mid 20’s and had been strictly vegetarian for many years. No alcohol either. I was running about 100kms a week at the time, and my weight was 60kgs! I was a fit little bugger.

      Anyway, I was out on a documentary shoot for the ABC, and we were in a very remote part of Australia – far north western Queensland (Normanton area) – and I could not get anything vegetarian to eat. I’d gone about two days essentially without eating anything, and we had to film a bbq one night. I was almost feinting with lack of sustenance, and so I had some meat off the bbq.

      I got very sick, and in fact came down with Hepatitis which then laid me up for several months.

      That’s my vegetarian story! 🙂



  8. Bill! Look them all in the eye and then order them served “rare”!
    Sorry I haven’t responded, but I am so excited to have made the “cut” for your walk in Italy. I have to dust off my Keens and hit the road…but summer and work beckon.
    Best to you and Jennifer,
    Patricia Talbot aka “Mimi”


    • haha – yes Mimi (if I can call you that) – as you can tell I am very conflicted about vegetarianism!

      And wonderful that you’re coming on the Assisi tour. But keep in mind that Jennifer and I have to do a survey and work out the itinerary, costings etc. What we know though is that the tour will be going from Florence to Assisi, following St. Francis’ original pilgrimage route.

      Approx 340kms in 13 days.

      I know the Assisi tour will be more expensive than the Portuguese Tour, because Italy is more expensive than Spain and Portugal. But let’s see how the costs all shake out. Obviously we’ll keep the costs down as much as we can.

      If everyone who says they’re coming confirms, then we’re sitting at 13 people coming now – which is pretty much a full contingent. We might have room for two more, but we certainly wouldn’t go with more than 15.

      One of the good things about this group though is that many of them know each other – there are quite a few coming who did the Portuguese Tour – so it should be a huge amount of fun!


      Liked by 1 person

        • Hi Lynda, I’ll send you the list via email.

          There’s not a huge amount online, which is why Jen and I need to do the survey. The forums concentrate on the Via Francigena, which doesn’t actually go to Assisi. Nor to Florence I believe.

          But the route we are planning is the way pilgrims use when going to Assisi for St. Francis (of Assisi.)


          Liked by 1 person

          • IIRC one of the ancient routes does go through Assisi, but not via Florence — just as an off-topic aside

            I’m not sure though — there’s a North-South pilgrim’s route from Austria to Rome, which is more easterly than the one going via Milan into Tuscany, through Lucca and Siena

            Having said that, the St Francis path is well documented, in Italian anyway, and well-maintained I believe, and travelled regularly by modern pilgrims

            I’m sure if you contacted the Italian pilgrims association via Skype or whatever they’d be able to help you considerably, at the very least with maps and other details of route !!

            Liked by 1 person

          • Thanks Julian – yes good idea. From what I understand it is quite well documented in Italian. I will follow up.

            Thank you for the lead!



      • Started more serious “training” for Italy this morning. Our walks a few times a week and change of diet wasn’t doing enough for weight/fat loss so we joined a gym up the street. Hoping that the weight loss will help with the speed that I walk. Walking slow enough to enjoy the sights and sounds is important but 340 kms in 13 days works out to an average of almost 16 miles a day! I need to speed up. If Peter and Julie are the “Landers Express”, right now we (or I guess I) am the Lozner Caboose.
        Planning & training underway!!!
        Lynda and Dale
        The Lozner Caboose


        • Hey Lozner Caboose – !

          (love that label!)

          You and Dale will be fine come next April. Especially if you’re starting now. But I should warn you, I was speaking to Peter and Julie (Landers Express) a couple of days ago and they are out at 5am each morning, in the middle of winter in the dark and cold, doing what they do best, and that is walking fast!!

          hugs to you and Dale –

          Liked by 1 person

          • Bill
            I hit the “like” button by mistake!!!! HA!
            5am IN THE DARK AND COLD!!!
            Not me.
            That sounds like torture.
            I don’t care for too cold or too hot. Suffered a lot last year on the Camino when at times it was over 90 degrees.
            I don’t want to take the van. I want to walk in Italy. My plan is to lose the fat and weight in the gym and still do our walks around here to get faster. Leaving hotels in the early morning pre sunrise may be how I get my 16 miles a day in before dinner. Dale already can walk much faster but he stayed back with me most of the time on the Camino and even carried both packs a couple times when I got overheated.
            Going to be much healthier and more fit before this trek.

            Lozner Caboose


          • Hi Lynda –

            we’ve yet to work out the itinerary, but it seems like most days will be about 20kms-24kms, which is manageable.

            Dale is a legend carrying your pack! (he can carry mine on the Assisi tour!!)


            Liked by 1 person

        • Lynda, most people can manage the 20 K/day — it’s the average daily distance of most pilgrims, with the vast majority of exceptions being those who walk further.

          Walking whatever distance on a pilgrims Way is always somehow easier when you’re actually there than the same distance in training — maybe just because it becomes the only goal of the day, every day ; maybe because all other distractions vanish ; maybe because whichever biomechanics up their game when they’re actually needed.

          Oh, keep up the training !! But sounds like you’re doing fine so far !!!

          Liked by 1 person

          • Thank you for the encouragement! I did walk many days of 12+ kilometers last year on the Camino Frances but my problem is I’m so slow due to knees, feet and hips. I don’t want to be late for dinner so I figure I’ve got to get a little faster and possibly with some weight loss and getting leaner I will be able to step up my speed a bit.


          • Lynda – I agree with Julian here, and will also add that there seems to be a sacred energy that lies within the Camino, or other pilgrimage walks, that somehow or other enables you to walk much further, and with more enthusiasm and lightness of step, than you would ordinarily think possible!



          • Bill
            True. I did surprise myself at far we walked each day last year. However, hiking back up that hill from the bottom of Snoqualmie Falls left me very short of breath. I am out of practice and shape. Not for long though.
            Lozner Caboose


    • Ah Lynda, soon you’ll be scampering up that hill like a mountain goat! It will probably surprise you how quickly you’ll get your fitness back, and how quickly some of those pounds will drop off.

      (Don’t go back to that BBQ joint if you want to lose weight… 🙂 )


      Liked by 1 person

      • Still can’t believe all the meat that was on your plate. What was the name of that?
        Nope, for me it’s going to be veggies, fish, salads (with oil & vinegar dressing) and protein drink. Lots of exercise. You will be shocked next time you see me.


        • Yes, that plate of meat had a special name, didn’t it. I think I put it in the blog post at the time. It was HUGE wasn’t it!

          Shocked when I see you next? Lynda I hope not! Don’t do anything scary please!! 🙂



          • No, I just mean the amount of weight that I plan on losing. I am hoping to lose 40-50 pounds by next April. It will help with walking faster and hopefully the knees won’t be as bad. Also with weight loss my cholesterol will go down and pre diabetes will go away. Anyway, my intentions are to stick to it and work hard.


  9. Bill,
    Totally off topic. But Dale and I just rented your movie “Uninhabited”. Has totally changed my idea of wanting to go to a deserted island!!! Scared the daylights out of us! It was soooo good!
    Had my first session at the gym this morning. Then messed it up by going to the Taste of Tacoma. First booth, Aligator on a stick! It was yummy. Kind of tasted like a cross between chicken and pork. Next was a Louisiana Crabcake on dirty rice. It was ho hum. Next, and by the way we are sharing each of these, was Catfish. It was edible but not like the fish frys that we used to go to in Mississippi when visiting grandparents. Lastly we did the wine tasting. Dale did it for the wine, I did it for the souvenir glass. We did not have a deep fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich or the Krispy Creme bacon cheeseburger. Yes, a big donut with a cheeseburger in between. That was our last indulgence. Now for training and weight/fat loss.
    Lozner Caboose


    • Hey Lozner Caboose Lady… 🙂

      You liked Uninhabited? It’s not my best work – but it’s done quite well commercially. Low budget, for me. And it was a fun shoot.

      Taste of Tacoma seems like it’s a 2000 calorie outing! But it sounds delicious. I lurv Catfish. When I was filming TEMPTED in New Orleans, I spent about 6 months in Louisiana, and the food there was just gorgeous. I was running about 7mls a day at that stage, and so could eat whatever the hell I wanted and it had no effect.

      Say hello to Dale for me. Tell him I still remember the fish throwing at Pike Place with a giggle…

      bb xx


      • Southern food is quite good, lots of calories but yummy. The catfish up here is not as delicious as in the South and todays was not very good.
        Pike Place Market is always fun!
        Dale is digging out the VHS out of storage so we can get some of your older work. and did I see that you acted in one? Can’t remeber the name right now but have it written down. Going to get some of Jennifers work as well.
        Lynda and Dale


        • Hi Lynda – no, I have never acted in anything, other than my own life I guess! 🙂 But never on screen. Yuk. I learnt acting when I was younger, but that was so I could understand performance for when I was directing. And I met my beautiful wife Jennifer at acting school when we were young – she had already established a formidable career and was going to the school for “classes,” to refresh her skills.

          Most of my work is not available on DVD in the US – TEMPTED might be, and also TWO IF BY SEA. And possibly KISS OR KILL. I believe Universal is re-releasing it. Bastards. They never send me royalties. There are always some hidden expenses that eat them up!!



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