The secret gallery’s blog

Maybe the first secret gallery in Doolin, Co. Clare, Ireland

Posts Tagged ‘camino de santiago

The Frugal Kitchen

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The sight of a fridge that has little else but ends and rinds and vegetable on their last legs (well almost!) strangely, satisfies me greatly, when it comes to making something to  eat. I am much bolder and more inventive when I have to search through the remnants of the last weeks or fortnights shop. I end up by cooking something that I have never cooked before, this often means eating dispirit combinations of fodder but it is a little more interesting then having the same old reliable small selection again and again! Luckily I had some shallots hanging in the kitchen since I pulled them from the garden in the summer and some garlic that was starting to grow from cloves that I put into ground hoping they would grow into big bulbs of garlic. If only I could remember what I cooked!

On a memorable note, but not a gastronomic one! One day, while my Husband and I were walking  the Camino de Santiago, it was February so many of the villages were closed down; that is to say that to a passing hungry walker there was NADA! We were so hungry for a couple of days that when we arrived at yet another shut down village we walked around the village searching for anything we could eat. February is a bad time for this! When we walked in the Summer we found lots of fruit and nuts. My eyes were out on sticks, to my delight I found a couple of onions someone had thrown into a ditch! Outer skins removed they were the main ingredient of our soup for dinner! We were staying in a little Refugio or hostel where some previous pilgrims had left about 10 straws of dried spaghetti and one or two other tiny morsels of food, these with the onion and some rosemary we found, I made an edible but quite disgusting watery soup! I did taste very strongly of rosemary and was very watery but it was hot and got us through the night. I remember we even decorated that Albergue with some art, I wonder is it still there!


James walking the Camino de Santiago, somewhere in Rioja, in February 2005

Written by Marianne Slevin

7 November, 2009 at 5:36 pm

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The Camino Years

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Mixed Media on wall paper scrolls, Marianne Potterton 2006


Mixed Media Scrolls on walls paper, Marianne Potterton 2006



“Stars Swimming Dancing” Mixed Media on wall paper, Marianne Potterton 2006


DSC04140“Transparent Woman”  Indigo pigment and graphite on wall paper Marianne Potterton 2006



“Love Unity” pigment and black corn dye on wall paper Marianne Potterton 2005

We had a few interesting years living on the Camino de Santiago. We were looking after pilgrims who were walking and cycling or occasionally riding a horse. This is where I started to make scrolls using wall paper.  We were renovating an old Adobe “mud” house, while creating temporary camping Albergues and herb gardens and some time based art pieces along the way. More to come soon!

Written by Marianne Slevin

2 November, 2009 at 6:59 pm

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Walking the Burren Way

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Photograph taken on the Burren Way February 2009

I love being somewhere in nature where I turn a full circle and don’t see a house. This photograph was taken during one of these times, I had a few of these moments along the Burren way. A couple of weeks ago I walked the  Burren way from our house to Ballyvaughan and back again, it took three days and each day I walked 20kms or slightly more, I never like to say I have walked less then I actually have!

I slept in a tent for the two nights, the first night when I set up camp in a field with a bull and family and had to move just as it was starting to get dark! I found another place to camp, I think it might have been a fairy ring, it was full of cow poo but I found an area just big enough for the tent in between them!


This photograph was taken after a very steep climb from the road out of Ballyvaughan. A dog decided to be my guide, a bit like the self employed guides in Marrakech who pretend they are not guiding you but keep turning up casually as if you both just happened to be going the same way!

The Burren Way is a wonderful walk apart from the bits on the  busier roads, and the fact that you have to buy expensive bottled water. Apart from there being a lovely water fountain in Ballyvaughan I could not find any where else to get water. This was one of  the great things about the Camino de Santiago, there are “fuentes” (fountains) every 2 or 3 hours walk apart, so you don’t have to carry much water. If only the Burren way took a month to walk too!

Written by Marianne Slevin

6 March, 2009 at 10:34 am

Coincidences on the Camino de Santiago

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Baby buggy down the glen by the Falls Hotel Ennistymon


Yesterday while putting a rather sturdy three wheeled baby buggy in the boot of our 4×4 Lada Niva, I realised that I had bought the same buggy in Santiago two years before our son was to be born in that city. The reason I bought the buggy was because I had just fallen in love with James Slevin, who was pushing all of his supplies rather then carrying them on his back like the pilgrims, he was a long distance walker and I was determined to walk every step of the way beside, behind and in-front of him, it is not always practical to walk hand in hand wile pushing buggies, apart from the sweaty hand thing many of the places we went were tiny paths through woods and up mountains! Was me buying a baby buggy with a man I had only days before met and promptly fallen in love with, in this spiritual city such a strong yet unconscious affirmation that it would draw us back there two years later to give birth to our son?

Yesterday I got a little feel of that again as I pushed our Daughter and Son down the glen by the Falls Hotel in Ennistymon, it is a lovely walk, just a pity it is so short! At the moment James is planning a walk and is very sad to see that nearly all marked walks in Ireland are mainly on the road. If anybody knows of any walks not on roads in Ireland can you please let us know. There are a few lovely Green roads but they are not long enough to get off the gray roads for enough time to feel truly in nature.

Written by Marianne Slevin

10 January, 2009 at 11:07 am

Braving the elements!

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Sitting in the rain

Oil on canvas December 2008


Changing a baby in a field

Oil on canvas September 2008


Both of these small paintings relate to my own life, the first of pre-motherhood and the latter since having children. They are both partly to do with living more outside, travelling without a fixed home and travellers. I like to put unlikely scenarios into my work. Crossing time-lines and continents, I am drawn to taking some aspects of the past, such as how the woman is dressed and adding contemporary elements such as the traffic cones. To me it is important to be playful; I have to remind myself not to take my self so seriously! I like these lighthearted moments in life. As in the top painting sitting happily in the rain, this painting was from a memory of mine while James and I were walking the Camino de Santiago and then on to in the south Spain, we stopped for a rest , it was pouring rain and even the mat I sat on was covered in water, it was a very happy memory though! For 4 months I, and longer James, lived outside rarely sleeping indoors, either sleeping in a tent or even just in a sleeping bag on the ground, or even a band-stand! washing outside, eating outside, it felt great but now I am very grateful for having a house! 

Written by Marianne Slevin

28 December, 2008 at 3:52 pm

Having Babies on the Camino de Santiago

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For a while the Camino was our life really, we even had our two babies on it! Our daughter is a Navarica (born in Navarra). We were on one of our many  perfect land or house hunts by car. We were living in Finisterre, which really did feel like the end of the earth! We had just danced on O Cebreiro,( a well know climb into Galicia to any pilgrim) for the Summer Solstice then headed for the Pyrenees. As the needle sank lower into the red on the fuel gauge we pulled into the last filling station on the mountain road, the master of the pumps said the final word ‘cerado’ !  We decided to camp in the mountains near Roncesvalles instead of going all the way to St. Jean Pied du Port to start our camino from there.

James was putting up the tent while I made some smoked salmon pasta, just a couple of feet from where the pilgrims walk. Our puppy ‘Fudge’ was nervous of a large dog that came to have a look at what was going on! While in the camping cooking position I suddenly felt that things were a little different to normal, I was either loosing control or I was soon going to have a baby! We embraced and James opened me a can of non alcoholic beer for the car journey, kind of like a pub crawl without the pubs or the alcohol! It was late it was dark we were really unsure of where we were going to end up ! I sat forward, willing the car on almost pushing it! Freewheeling down the mountains we laughed and felt unnaturally calm! We passed a closed Ambulance depot, memorising emergency numbers for the 50km journey. People at last ! We pulled over and asked where the nearest petrol station was, vaguely understanding, more memorising needed! We went over the flyover and into a check point! Broken waters in broken Spanish got the message across, and as soon as the car rolled to a stop by the pump, we had an escort of the Gardia Civil.   

Written by Marianne Slevin

24 November, 2008 at 11:21 pm

Miracle Box Continued

A while ago I wrote about `Miracle Box´, project where I was asking people to write their own miracles on paper hearts that will be going into the Miracle Box. I would would also like this to also be an online project here on this blog, so over the next few days we shall be putting together a new page just for this, stay tuned, and in the meantime if you have any miracles yourself you would like to include in the project email them to me at   mariannepotterton at hotmail dot com.

One of our miracles

We love tents and over the years have collected quite a few! So the first miracle story I would like to write is about finding a tent!

One New Years Eve we were joined by some pilgrims who had stayed with us when we were living in a different house on the Camino de Santiago. James had been planning a walk, starting in Merida where we had stopped walking over two years ago. We had been looking for a one man tent but could not find one anywhere. Probably because it was December and there aren’t too many people going camping! Apart from this minor issue James was packed and ready to go! One of the pilgrims said he had been walking the Via de la Plata and he had got fed up carrying his one man tent and left it outside somewhere along the 900km trail! It happened to be not to far from Merida where James was going to walk from! But a long way from where we were spending New Years Eve. The directions included mention of a steep track that would be muddy as it had been raining a lot, this meant that it because it was too muddy for car to drive up there we a high possibility that nobody would have seen the tent and it could still be there!

On New Years Day we started driving towards Merida and wished very hard that the tent would still be there. After a day of driving the sun was starting to set and we drove up the muddy slope in our Lada Niva! James ran up to steps to the roof terrace of the closed Albergue and I could hear a happy sounding `it is still here!´. We looked out at the sun setting over the lake and felt grateful for the mysterious workings of the universe and our friend from the Camino!