Sunday 23rd January 2022 – DAY SIX …

… of my self-imposed confinement to quartes began as you might expect on a Sunday with me not leaving the warmth and comfort of my stinking pit until about 11:00.

Mind you, that wasn’t when I awoke. The painkiller that I took last night to ease the pain in my jaw wore off round about 09:00 and that was about that. I’s a good job that I didn’t go to bed until about … errr … 03:00. Had it been any earlier, it would have worn off earlier.

Anyway 11:00 is a good time to be up on a Sunday even if I did spend a couple of hours huddled up underneath the quilt in the warmth. Nothing ever happens on a Sunday anyway, and even less does when I’m stuck in the house.

After the medication and checking my messages (well, some of them anyway) a friend of mine came on line so we had a little chat for a while, which cheered me up somewhat. And then I sat down to pair off the music for the next radio programme – the one that I’ll do tomorrow and which is programmed to go out on … gulp … 18th November.

As you can see, I like to be well ahead.

After lunch (toast and porridge with lots of coffee) I had a listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night. We were on a sailing ship returning home from the Caribbean or somewhere. There had been shortages of crew for the return, for one reason or another. We noticed something strange happening to a cable. It turned out that there was a saboteur on board. He was arrested and he revealed under pressure the name of a friend so those two were cast overboard. I was still of the opinion that there was a 3rd one. One or two people kept on dying here and there as you would expect. There were a couple of women and an elderly nurse. One of the women was exploring around the ship with me one night, being careful not to awaken anyone, and looking at what we could find. We came across something that was even more confusing, that someone had signed their nickname to an order but they weren’t actually known to be about. This led to an enquiry and in the end some young boy admitted that it was he who had signed the order in this nickname, but this left the question of this other person who at the moment was asleep. We started to have all kinds of grave suspicions about him. The old woman who had been awoken by the noise came in and offered to tell us all recipes so we prepared to hear them and write them down. The man appeared but we hadn’t made up our mind what to do about it. It was a very uncomfortable few minutes while he was here and he was bound to notice the uncomfortableness. I had this foreboding that this whole trip was going to end in disaster somewhere. If he didn’t start a mutiny on his own and kill half the officers, then something else would happen to this ship and he would probably be involved in it and it would all end up turning out like Treasure Island.

Later on I’d flown into the USA for some reason and I’d gone to meet a friend. We ended up having loads of trouble meeting up. eventually it took place in a hotel. He came in but there was no room so he had to crush up on a table with some other people. One thing that I noticed was how easily everyone there broke into conversation with whoever it was they were sitting next to whether they had known them before or not. I hardly talked to anyone there. The question of New Year came up. They were talking about how someone had played a concert on one side of the timeline to celebrate New Year and then dashed over the frontier to do the same on another time zone. I said that people between Spain and Portugal can do that. Someone came up with the name of Dundee and asked whereabouts was such-and-such a Firth which I didn’t recognise at all. She said “yes, where Dundee is”. I said “that’s the Tay”. It didn’t strike with her at all but I had to convince her that it was the Tay. She was saying something about how someone did the same thing there but they had quite a drive afterwards to cross the time zone. I was trying to think where you would cross a time zone by car near Dundee. Someone asked what time it was so I had a look at my watch. It was 09:10, without thinking. Someone else said “yes, 09:10”. It suddenly dawned on me that it must be 03:10 where I come from. They said “you must be tired”.

The conversation petered out after that.

By now I was ready to go and prepare my dough for the loaf that I was going to make today. 500 grammes of flour, several handfuls of sunflower seed, a crushed vitamin C tablet, 8 grammes of salt and 2 packets of yeast. And it actually all went together quite nicely.

While I was waiting for it to rise I came back here and rewrote another page of my stay in Leuven, adding in the photos and the details of the nocturnal rambles too. And it’s no surprise that I’m so exhausted with the distances that I’m covering during the night.

Back in the kitchen I switched on the oven to warm up and while it was heating I rolled out the pizza dough that I’d taken out of the freezer at lunchtime and put it in the greased tray.

When that was done I put it on one side to proof and stuck the bread in the oven to bake seeing as the oven was now hot enough. And while all that was going on I made myself a mug of instant hot chocolate and came to sit down for a rest.

vegan pizza home made bread place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022After about an hour or so I went and assembled my pizza and I finished that just as the bread was done. Perfect timing, that was! And so the pizza went into the oven to bake.

Here are the finished products too. Don’t they look nice? And the pizza tasted nice too, even though I had to make do with tinned mushrooms. They aren’t the same as fresh mushrooms, not by a long way.

Now that it’s eaten and all washed up, I can finish my journal entry and go to bed. There’s an early start in the morning for me to attack my radio programme so I need to be at my best.

Not that that’s ever likely to happen these days, of course. But only 2 more days of my house arrest and then on Wednesday I can hit the streets. That will remind me to ring up to cancel the nurse and the physiotherapy. I’m sure that they don’t want whatever it is that I have.

And I hope that the little improvement with my teeth continues too. As the old saying goes, “the teeth in the top are fine but the ones in my bottom are hurting terribly”

Saturday 22nd January 2022 – I’VE DONE SOMETHING …

… else today that I don’t normally do and haven’t done for years, and that it to take a couple of painkillers.

Usually pain doesn’t bother me all that much but the pain in my jaw today has been agony and if I were a football coach I’d seriously be contemplating taking out all my teeth and fitting seats instead.

Things weren’t so bad this morning if I remember correctly – and I can’t remember very much because it was something of a mad scramble to leave the bed. I’d switched off the alarm at 07:30 and thought “I’ll just give it 5 minutes” and the next thing I remember was that it was 07:59 and I hadn’t make it out of bed when the 08:00 alarm went off.

So after the medication it was a slow start to the day but eventually I managed to transcribe the dictaphone notes. And there were piles of them too. I was making myself something with chips last night and I wanted more chips so I went to find another potato. But the only potatoes that I could find were far too big for what I wanted. While I was doing that I was at the back of the shop. We were having problems with all sorts of people who were coming in and out of the shop and trying to come through to the back which of course was off limits. Then one of the younger girls shouted and said “an educated while man has just gone out of the back door” so I dashed out to see. The back door had been left wide open and there was a car on the back with a broken wheel which I think I must have heard pull up because I heard a strange noise a few minutes earlier. Then I was on my way home. It was North America. There were kids playing around. One kid jumped up to grab hold of a balcony or something on a first floor and worked him or herself along to where there was a wall where they could lower themselves down and walk away. Another kid did the same thing and became tangled up with the first kid and they couldn’t move. Someone shouted for help so someone came out of a nearby house. The 1st kid took it upon himself to leap off so he swung off with his hands. He fell on the pavement really awkwardly near where I was so I started to go over to see him

We’d been skiing, a party of us, but the weather wasn’t really good enough. There wasn’t really all that much snow. I’d started out by being in Montreal and was telling a few people about my trip somewhere. I mentioned that the snow was about a metre deep which took them by surprise. They thought that the snow was more like here, basically an iced-over covering. Then we were preparing to go skiing. There were several girls in our party but one in particular I was quite fond of. As it happened when she came to rent her ski equipment I was already in the queue so I fetched her equipment for her. We chatted a little but she didn’t seem to be very enthusiastic but she didn’t seem keen to wander away either. Skiing was extremely difficult because you were OK on the flats and on the edges but it was the transition from the flats to the edges that caught out a lot of people. It wasn’t really enjoyable. When it went dark we came back and I collected up the equipment. I didn’t want to be away too long because there was some kind of dance or disco that night and I had my eyes set on persuading this girl to come with me. I was busy trying to fire myself up to some kind of positive mood because when you feel positive things seem to go much easier. When I went to hand in this ski equipment there were loads of people in suits, businessmen, hogging all the way round the bar and you couldn’t get to the bar at all to hand over your things, never mind order a drink or anything with all of these businessmen types in the way and they didn’t want to move. Even when the Chancellor of the Exchequer turned up no-one would make room for him. All the time I felt that it I don’t organise myself very soon I’ll miss my opportunity such as it is with this girl, aren’t I? And we’ve been here before, haven’t we?

I’d had to go to the hospital in Granville so off I went. It wasn’t situated where it is but beyond LeClerc on the road to Villedieu. I’d been there doing a few things, talking to a few people whom I’d met on holiday with Adventure Canada. By the time I’d finished, I’d written a letter so I said goodbye to a few of these people but one of these people just totally ignored me which I thought was strange. I looked in at the reception desk but the people I’d been talking to had said about the hospital that was somewhere else in the town is closed after 11:00 so we’d been making jokes about “what happens at 11:30 if you cut your finger off?” etc. I went to the reception but there was no-one there so I took their sellotape and sealed up my letter. The receptionist came and I asked her about the hospital. Where do you go?. She told me of a hospital somewhere to the north 25 kilometres away which was a different on to the one that someone else thought was the nearest. So I left and went down to the car park. I had three vehicles on the car park, Caliburn, my red Cortina estate and another one that I’d bought. When I arrived, the other vehicle had gone, the red Cortina estate had been set on fire and had been put out and the back doors of Caliburn were open and everything that was in the back except for one or two little bits and pieces had been taken. I thought “I know what’s going to happen next. They are going to turn up having taken away one vehicle and take away the red Cortina estate” so I started it up ready to move it. I had a look at it and with the paintwork really blistered, even though i starts and runs the police are going to be quite interested in the state of the vehicle. I’m going to have to spend a weekend just preparing it and giving it a quick spray-over just so I can continue to use it without being unduly bothered by the police. And then what was I going to do with Caliburn because if they came back and I’d removed the red Cortina and that had gone, they’d take Caliburn away

So there I was on my way back, having stepped back more-or-less into the previous dream where I’d stepped out, driving past a house and a woman I know from here was tending her garden. I waved to her. A little further on she had some kind of cockerel that I didn’t recognise so I stopped to ask her the breed of the bird. She pointed to a heap of rubbish on the other side of the road. She said “there’s a letter for you over there in that heap of rubbish about an appointment. I went over to have a look and it was all the stuff out of the back of Caliburn, the false floor, the mattress and several other things. A little further on there was Caliburn. He’d been hit in the side so there was a huge dent down the side, a window was broken so they had obviously hit it with another car to move it. Everything had gone out of the back except a few bits and pieces. Strawberry Moose was there so I rescued him. There was no real point in doing anything with Caliburn because just hitting him with that car had damaged him irreparably. There was absolutely nothing to be done. It wasn’t even worth taking away the stuff that was still in the back of it.

And all of that news about Caliburn and my red Cortina estate was enough to put anyone off.

By the time that I finished all of that it was lunchtime so I went to make my sandwiches. And they ended in the bin too because by now with my aching jaw I couldn’t eat them. It was soup with pasta, and aren’t I glad that I bought that job lot of vegan soup from Noz when I did?

This afternoon I finished off the dictaphone entries and started to edit and re-upload some of the previous journal entries that were incomplete. I’ll finish the others in due course

Tea was an overcooked pasta with overcooked veg in a vegan cheese sauce. And it was still difficult to eat. I’m hoping that whatever it is that is causing this pain will go away pretty soon so that I can have some nice things to eat. If I carry on like this much longer it will be soup and ice cream and nothing else.

But not tomorrow. It will be toast and porridge, with pizza for tea, unless something dramatic happens.

Friday 21st January 2022 – DAY FOUR …

… of my self-enforced confinement is almost over.

And while yesterday was one step forward, today has actually been two steps backward, and that’s really disappointing.

Not going to bed until about 02:35 might explain some of it, but I cheated and switched off the alarm. Consequently it was about 10:00 when I finally surfaced.

It sounds as if it might have been a reasonable amount of sleep (for a change) but when I listened to the dictaphone, it was anything but. I was with TOTGA last night, so it’s not surprising that things were turbulent. We were walking around the town and streets of Crewe, the north side, collecting money for what was supposed to be the TV licence people although I wasn’t convinced that it was. We’d already collected some but then there was the pub to go to – The Royal Scot – and then a pile of houses around there. I suggested going to the Royal Scot first but she suggested that we do the private houses. I didn’t necessarily agree with it but it wasn’t anything for me to particularly worry about. However it turned into one of these arguments that you have, something about nothing. We carried on walking but as we we were walking past the brook in Underwood Lane a woman came out from behind there moaning and grumbling about the TV licence collectors and how the security staff at Tesco have no courage. Another woman on the other side of the road on the green bank there was mowing the grass with a mini-tractor. She told her basically to stop complaining etc. The two of them had an argument which led to the one on the tractor saying “I’m going to have a camp site anyway” to which both TOTGA and I thought was a great idea. The bad-tempered woman didn’t seem to appreciate that there were two other people siding with this woman. It was quite funny thought how this argument between the two of us sprang up out of nothing and I still can’t understand why we ended up arguing about it when it wasn’t really of any importance anyway.

There was another dream that involved TOTGA but I can’t remember much of it, which is quite obviously a shame. Fancy not remembering an encounter with her. We were both on some kind of island but we weren’t supposed to know about each other being here either. Eventually we met up and there was some talk about some other people who weren’t very nice people. We had to go to see them so I shrugged my shoulders and the two of us set off. But there was much more to it than that but I just can’t remember now.

Later on there were quite a few of us on an island. One of the girls, I don’t know who, said that she had seen someone. We all thought that it sounded like Trotsky or Lenin or someone like that. She then described this person and it turned out in fact to be him so we all huddled together while we thought of a plan. In the meantime there were some Christmas decorations but they were out. Feeling around, it seemed that when I had rolled over at some time I’d pulled the wires apart so I was groping around in the dark trying to find these two wires so that I could put them together again.

I’d been at some kind of festivity that had been cancelled. A town had dropped out of it so someone asked me on the radio if I thought that Granville would take its place. I replied that as far as I could see Granville wouldn’t take the place of anyone and wasn’t going to do anything.

Down this path … “which path?” – ed … I walked and I could see a kind of round circle that was lit up and going round and round. I suddenly realised that it must be our headquarters. People came out of the shadows where they had been hiding to welcome us but I awoke just as it was starting to become exciting.

It took me all that was left of the morning to type out that. And I was quite exhausted typing it too. It must have been breath-taking when it was all going on for “real”.

But that wasn’t all that I had to do either. I noticed from yesterday’s entry that two paragraphs had been somehow missed off. And so I had to add them in as well.

As I was late arising, I hadn’t bothered with breakfast so I had a typical Sunday brunch at 13:00 – porridge, toast and strong black coffee, in the hope that the coffee would revive me and there would be less pain in my jaw with the porridge.

The pain was reduced, but not gone completely, and the coffee didn’t work at all. I spent the whole afternoon either writing up the dictaphone notes from previous days or else flat out on the chair fast asleep. And when I awoke I was seriously contemplating crawling into bed and pulling the covers over me because I was absolutely freezing.

That’s one thing that I’ve noticed this week – how cold I’ve been. I’m here right now fully dressed, with a dressing gown on top and the heating going flat out.

Tea was a rather rushed meal out of the freezer because there was football on the internet – TNS v Connah’s Quay. The season has restarted after the Covid break. TNS won at a canter, as you might expect, especially when Connah’s handed them all three goals on a plate. And two goals disallowed too for good measure.

The commentator asked a guest at half time “what do you think Craig Harrison (the Connah’s Quay manager) ought to be doing now?”. The immediate thought that went through my mind was “to persuade Oliver Byrne (the Connah’s Quay keeper) to come off his line”. He’s one of the best shot-stoppers in the league but he won’t come out for crosses. One of the goals and the two disallowed goals could have been prevented if he had come out for crosses instead of staying back on his line.

But now anyway I’m off to bed. Here’s hoping for a better day tomorrow when I can finish the dictaphone notes and then crack on with something else. But I’m really not feeling at all like it right now.

And if you think that I’m spending far too much time moaning instead of doing anything, another purpose of these notes is to record my state of health and how I’m feeling about it. It’s quite important that I keep an eye on myself and that I’m able to look back on it in the future and see how it evolved.

Although right now, I don’t see too much of a future.

Thursday 20th January 2022 – DAY THREE …

… of my enforced confinement was very much like Day Two; with very little of any kind of note happening at all.

And seeing as I’m not going anywhere, doing anything or seeing anyone is hardly any surprise.

Although I just about beat the alarm to my feet this morning, it was a dreadfully slow start. But there was a reason for that. I’m suffering from a lack of football and my thirst was satiated last night instead of going to bed early.

It’s the Scottish Cup at the weekend and Greenock Morton, a team in which I have an interest since I wrote a newspaper article about the club and its controversial chairman 20 years ago, have drawn Premier League opposition.

In the past, Morton have had four major acts of giant-killing and last night someone strung together a video of the highlights of those four matches and broadcast them on the internet. So I stayed up to watch them – videocam recordings of old 405-line transmissions in the good old days of steam-driven television.

And worth is just to watch ANDY RITCHIE’S MARVELLOUS GOAL that dumped Aberdeen, Alex Ferguson and all, out of the Scottish Cup.

Anyway, having struggled out of bed and having taken my medicine, I came back in here to see how things were with the dictaphone. There was something on there from last night – and about 20 things from the previous few nights. And you can tell how lightly I’m sleeping these days with the volume of stuff that’s on there. This is no deep, profound sleep that I’m having.

But never mind the dictaphone for the moment. I had other things that needed my attention.

As it happens, I’m a member of an organisation that is fighting to defend the SNCF from the onslaught of privatisation that the right wing of the political spectrum is fighting to impose on the rest of the country. And I happened to post a couple of messages relating to a couple of things that related directly to me.

Anyway, to cut a long story short … “hooray” – ed … the organiser of the campaign asked me for dates and times. And that meant going through about 18 months’ worth of blog entries. They were relatively unimportant, minor things so I hadn’t tagged them and that explains the time that it took.

Perhaps I ought to mention in passing that my journal is tagged and indexed. I keep it as a diary and as a reminder because my memory is hopeless, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall. I can sing any number of lyrics of songs from the 1960s and 70s totally word-perfect, but ask me what I was wanting when I walked into the kitchen 5 minutes ago …

It also serves other purposes too, as I have probably mentioned in the past.

Then I could turn my attention to where I’d been during the night. As it happened, Nerina and I had another one of our arguments. This time she had a friend with her and it was pretty permanent so she stormed off, leaving me with the business and the dry-cleaner’s to run. All the people wanted assurance that I’d still be open at 09:00 on a Wednesday. I replied “of course”. Then I realised that it was going to be difficult because there was going to be a bus run that I normally did but I didn’t return until 10:00 so I could see that I had about 2 days to organise a pile of changes to make sure that everyone else was happy and that they could have their dry-cleaning when they wanted but it wasn’t going to be easy.

After lunch (I remembered today) I carried on with the entries from yesterday and was actually planning on doing a lot more but I rather sadly fell asleep. And to my surprise, I was off on my travels there too. I was with my brother and someone else. I can’t remember why now but I had some work to do so I set myself up in a room in some kid of village hall place to do it and they wandered off. However I couldn’t settle and when someone came in – a big ugly-looking man rather like Jack Elam, I lost my concentration completely. I went out for a walk to settle myself down. There, I bumped into my brother and the other person. They were angry that I wasn’t working so I invented a story that I was looking for a torch. The third person said that he had one and went to fetch it and they accompanied me back to where I was working while I tried to invent a story as to why I needed the torch. When we arrived back where I was, my brother bumped into this strange man and let out a gasp of surprise and shock which awoke me.

Later on I went for tea. I’m not feeling very hungry right now but I have to go through the motions. There was some stuffing left over from Monday’s pepper so I had a taco roll with some rice.

Rosemary rang me up while I was eating so I called her back and we had a chat. But not for long because my throat gave out.

But the question of food was rather interesting. Last time that I was ill like this was when I was in Minnesota in July 2019 (in the days when we could travel) and I lost 10kg in weight. If I can lose even half of that during this bout of illness I’ll be happy with that and I’ll have gained something.

So now I’m off to bed – at … errr … 02:05. Just as I was thinking of going to bed earlier, Help Yourself came onto the playlist, followed by Quicksilver Messenger Service with the magnificent John Cipollina, Roxy Blue (a vastly underrated band who could have been another Aerosmith or Bon Jovi and whose lead guitarist is now a dentist), followed by Kate Bush. And that’s enough to keep anyone awake, for all kind sof different reasons.

But now that Kansas has come round, I’ll clear off to bed because we’ll end up next with Lone Star (another vastly underrated band featuring Paul “Tonka” Chapman, later of UFO and Jon Sloman, later of Uriah Heep) and I’ll be here all night.

See you in the morning.

Wednesday 19th January 2022 – DAY TWO …

… of my enforced isolation passed quite uneventfully today.

And I’m glad that I decided to stay in because the news in the local rag was quite discouraging. 60 pupils of “a local High School” (and they didn’t say which one, but there is one just across the car park from here) who went on a ski trip last week have all come back testing positive for Covid.

Consequently, when I do decide to go back out to reconnect with the real world, it will be in the evening after everyone else has gone to bed, as I did 2 years ago at the start of the pandemic.

And going back out might be sooner than I imagine because I’ve felt much better today and if I can keep up the improvement, I might even return to normal by the end of next week, but that’s some long hope, isn’t it?

After going to bed last night just after 20:30, I was awake again at 04:40 and spend the next few hours drifting in and out of sleep until the alarm went off at 07:30.

After the medication I came back in here to gather my wits a little and make a start of some work, but I’ve no idea why, after all of the sleep that I had during the night, I dozed off to sleep again.

By breakfast-time I was awake again, and after my coffee and cake (and if I’m not careful I’ll run out of Christmas cake by the weekend) I slowly tried to wind myself up to do some work. And as it happened I made a start on the sencond run-through of some of the radio interviews.

But only a start. I’d rather not dwell too much on all of that. I was definitely not feeling myself today.

One thing that surprised me was that I remembered to ring up the physiotherapist to say that I won’t be coming today. I’ve no idea what it is that I’ve caught but I’m sure that they don’t want it.

As the afternoon wore on, I gradually pulled myself round, and I’m feeling better than I was this time yesterday – although that’s not saying very much at all. Mind you, I did realise round about 16:00 that I hadn’t had any lunch. I must be ill if I’m off my food.

Mustn’t forget the dictaphone either. Tons of stuff on there. It really must have been a disturbed night last night. We started off by me being given custody of a baby that a girl had had and of which I was the father so I had to collect her from school. We knew that this girl was unstable so we set a kind of trap in this hotel room where I was staying, me and three other people because we were sure that she’d try to come in. Sure enough a man appeared at the hotel at about 02:00. He hid inside a cardboard box and gradually inched it across forward into the hotel lift, went up to the 11th floor, left the lift and came back downstairs to the 10th floor. He burst into my room, but it was in fact the girl. She found one of the people sleeping on the floor but the other one stayed hidden under the bed and didn’t move out. She started to become violent so we were violent back so she just stood there and let us be violent to her. It didn’t seem to affect her in the slightest. We were hitting her with chains but she was just standing there. We were wondering how on earth we were going to get this girl organised. We couldn’t set fire to her clothes because the hotel smoke alarm would go off etc. The more we hit her, the more she just stood there and took it so in the end we were very close to giving it up as a bad job

There was a hot air balloon called “The Olga” that was to take off. There were people around there taking photos. I was taking some. Someone asked of there had been any other photos taken in the past. I didn’t have any. The balloon inflated and set off. Suddenly I remembered that I did have a photo of a balloon called “Olga” so I went to have a look. Sure enough, there it was but it was a different balloon in a totally different situation so it was clearly not the correct balloon which was disappointing.

I was also with someone last night but I can’t remember who. We ended up back in Gainsborough Road. I went in with this other person whose father came from Crewe but she came from Abergele. We went in, and my mother was there with some other woman. Se was doing her bes salesman role explaining about my house, everything. It really did look nice the way that it had all been finished off. In the end she said to me “why don’t you take this woman upstairs and so her around?”. I had to point out that first of all I had no idea what we were doing there anyway when there were tenants in there, to show this woman around upstairs, but I went upstairs. There was a kid asleep in the small bedroom and stuff all over the floor. There was another kid sitting on a bed in another room. I noticed that my fitted wardrobes had been demolished. There was a man in the bathroom so I explained the bathroom to the lady and told her about the central heating, so on. We went downstairs and Joanie and Malcolm turned up with their new baby. She’d brought lots of jars of coffee, stuff like that and I wondered what the hell was going on in my house, people just walking in like this even though there were tenants living in there who obviously can’t have been very impressed.

There was some kind of dispute in Portsmouth about rerouting a bus route. It had taken up 2 parking spaces and led to a confrontation. They were saying that there was no other way to reroute these buses but there was in fact a road but where the bus would end up stopping was by a place frequented by a couple of gangs so the bus company didn’t want to stop there. I happened to be down in Portsmouth at the time, in a vehicle with a trailer on it. When we came to the bank that the buses would have to drive up – it was a dirt track – we couldn’t get the vehicle with its trailer up there. We uncoupled the trailer and drove the vehicle up, then we pushed the trailer up. But one of the guys was standing there looking at me while I was pushing this trailer and not lending a hand at all. We coupled up the vehicle and drove off down this dirt track. At the end was a fuel station so we stopped for fuel. I was with Nerina by this time. She was pointing out some beautiful parts of the town that she could see. I said “it’s not like that at all, really. There are a few nice bits but the rest of it is just mundane”. She replied “you could come here and have your hospital treatment if you like”. I told her that I was happy with Leuven. She saw some other buildings that looked nice but I said that they were industrial ones. We had to go to see someone. We were on our way to him. It seemed to me that she was doing everything she could to slow down our arrival there. he had a couple of daughters who were also concerned in what we were doing. She said “we can see them after 20:00, can’t we, on our way home? And these other people we have to see, we can see them later too”. I had a feeling that the rate we were going on meant that we would never ever get to see anyone. It was just dragging on and on and on, this journey.

Finally, I’d been in Spain. I had been in France and I was flying down to Spain but somehow I’d ended up with a car to hire. A black Alfa Romeo saloon. In it I had all my affairs, everything. When I parked it in this street I was busy doing something and when I looked round, the car had gone. I had a look around but couldn’t see it anywhere. eventually I found a public telephone box by a Formula 1 hotel so I phoned the police. I dialled 11 (as in 112) but someone immediately answered. It was a private person and she couldn’t help me at all. A guy standing nearby who had heard what I waid told me that the number for the police was 22 so I dialled them and explained as best as I could what had happened. They left me hanging on the line for ages and ages and ages. A policeman at his desk nearby wondered what I was doing so I explained it to him. He said there’s nothing much we can do, is there? If the car’s gone, it’s gone”. I said “yes, but no-one has even taken the registration number, the details, my details, all this kind of thing. I thought that at least someone would have come down and taken the information”.

Tea tonight was pasta and veg in a vegan cheese sauce. I fancied something light that would fill me and would be easy to digest. And now I’m preparing myself to go to bed.

But before I do, I saw a video about the snowfall that they have just had in Ottawa, so I sent a message to my family and friends who live there.

But of course there is one person there to whom I would like to send a message to see if she’s OK but it’s probably not good idea to go raking around in the ashes of a fire that was extinguished rather dramatically all that time ago. But as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I’m a big believer in the sixth sense and so if I send the message via the power of thought backed by sufficient force of character. I’m convinced that she’ll receive it.

Keep the faith!

Tuesday 18th January 2022 – I’VE DONE SOMETHING …

… today that I haven’t done for months, if not for years and has brought back all of the bad memories of my time in that hostel in Leuven where I stayed for a while in 2016.

And that is that I went back to bed this afternoon and crashed out.

The day started off badly when either the alarms didn’t go off or I slept through them. And if the kids on their way to school hadn’t decided to make a noise outside my bedroom window I probably would still be in there now.

08:48 was late enough to leave my bed and I had to rush around and revise my Welsh ready for the lesson. And all the time wishing that I was back in bed.

The lesson was awful – I was totally out of everything and struggling to keep going.

When we finished I made my sandwiches and there wasn’t any improvement. But my jaw started to ache really painfully.

Back in my bedroom, I sat down to start work but for half an hour or so I couldn’t do anything. That was why I toddled off to bed. And there I lay until 18:45.

When I awoke I had a fever and a very sore throat that felt as if it was swollen. And I was aching just about everywhere too. A glass of hot blackcurrant with honey and lemon eased my throat a little for a while but the sore throat slowly returned.

There was some stuff on the dictaphone too from during the night. This was something to do with a railway. Parts of it were being dug up and replaced by high-speed tracks so the line had gone from being one of the slowest to the fastest overnight. Someone was urging us on to be careful, of course to celebrate what was happening at the railway but it was just confusing for us where they had updated and where they hadn’t

At some point during the night someone had come up with a “Lord Of The Rings” gazetteer or encyclopaedia listing all of the characters, the number of times that they had appeared in the books, and very interesting personal remarks about them

This is the same one as earlier, about the book “Who’s Who In Lord of the Rings” or whatever. I seemed to have stepped right back into this dream where I had left off earlier. I had the book at home and was trying to read it but I was being distracted by all of this, by other people wanting to get their hands on it

I was at work last night and I started out by tidying my desk putting everything where I thought it ought to be. I managed to end up with a totally clear desk, everything put neatly, all the outstanding work put in files all ready to be worked on. I was thinking that i’d never ever had a desk like thins in my whole life. Someone else was busy tidying up as well. She was sorting out her music and ended up with a sampler of some group but it wouldn’t actually fit anywhere where it was supposed to. She was asking around about how she could get it to fit somewhere. I was thinking that the only other answer was to leave out another track of some other group but that really wasn’t the kind of answer that she was looking for. Then there was something about children. There was a pile of children that had to be sorted out as well. This was proving to be extremely difficult but I lost track of everything there. Later on there was a stream in some kind of situation with a couple of stone tablets in it. These stone tablets were electrified so if you were walking up and down this stream you had to jump over the tablets, making sure that you jumped well clear so that you didn’t end up in the water around them which was likely to be electrified as well

Right now I’m going to try to make some soup to see if I can eat it, and then I’m going back to bed. I’ve decided to place myself in quarantine for a week just in case I picked up something unwelcome on my voyage around Paris, so I won’t be going anywhere for a while.

Using a bit of the energy that remained I’ve done a quick inventory and I have enough food in here to keep going after a fashion for a while, and I even found an ancient leek and potato soup that I salvaged, defrosted and added a pile of vermicelli, and managed to eat it. It saved me making anything anyway.

Now with another mug of hot blackcurrant and lemon, I’m going to bed. Let’s see how I feel tomorrow.

Monday 17th January 2022 – I FINISHED …

… the radio programme this morning by 10:35, breakfast and coffee included.

Mind you, I cheated. At 05:00 this morning I was wide awake and no matter how I tried, I couldn’t go back to sleep. So in the end I gave it up and by 05:45 I was up and about having my medication.

The programme could have been finished even earlier too had I been motivated and had I not stopped half way through to watch the highlights of Ayr United v Greenock Morton. And that new cable that I bought last week in Leuven is exactly what is required and does a really good job.

While I was listening to the finished product I was dealing with some correspondence that had been stacking up. I’ve been letting a few things drift just recently as regular readers of this rubbish will recall.

During the night I’d been on my travels again. There was a rock concert taking place at some seaside resort miles away – 60 miles at least – so I set out to walk there overnight. And so I did. I arrived there in time for the concert. After the concert the Government was giving away oranges as there was a surplus so I joined the queue to have some for my journey back. Eventually I was standing in this queue for ages and was given a bag full of oranges and also a couple of lemons. Then it was so late that I had to wait there until the morning before I could set off. But there was something going on and I can’t remember what it is. I didn’t actually start out when I wanted to.

After a shower I went and had lunch and a good clean up, and then made myself ready to go out for my physiotherapy session.

cherry picker Boulevard des 2E et 202E de Ligne Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022And I hadn’t gone far before I shuddered to a halt

There is this beautiful house here built on top of the walls but it looks as if there’s some kind of issue with the roofing tiles. And that’s hardly a surprise with all of the wind that we have had just recently.

They have blocked off part of the Boulevard des 2E et 202E de Ligne and rigged up a massive cherry-picker with a couple of men in the nacelle working on the roof between the two towers.

And I’m intrigued to see the white van the wrong way round in a one-way street. Had it been me, I would have gone down the hill in reverse to at least make a pretence of obeying the Code de la Route.

building material quayside port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022There is also a great deal of activity down there on the quayside in the loading bay.

A whole pile of building material has arrived there since I last looked, and that would seem to indicate that one of the little Jersey freighters will be coming into port in due course to take it all away.

My trip through the town and up the hill to the physiotherapist was quite uneventful. I made it all the way there without once stopping for breath.

Today she let me have five minutes on the cross trainer and 15 minutes doing kinetic exercises. Finally she took me into the back room, put me on the couch and did some work on my right knee for 10 minutes.

And she can put me on the couch and manipulate my metatarsals any time she likes.

From there I carried on up the hill and went to Lidl. It’s been a while since I was there and I needed some salad stuff for my sandwiches so it seemed like a good plan to go there.

building work rue victor hugo rue st paul Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022On the way home I went to look at the building site that’s been going on for almost a year on the corner of the Rue Victor Hugo and the Rue St Paul.

They actually had a couple of bricklayers on there today. The ground floor has been built of concrete slabs but now they are building up with those large lightweight bricks, and not making a terribly good job of it

Watching them doing their stuff is the kind of thing that makes me very wary of buying somewhere that hasn’t yet been built.

But having said that, my first house was a Barratt house which was pretty much jerry-built but then the enticements that the company offered to impoverished potential purchasers were unbeatable and it was the only way that I could ever have afforded a house of my own.

A few hundred metres further on, I was roused from my reverie by a motor horn. One of my neighbours had been at the physiotherapist’s and he was on his way home. He stopped his car and asked me if I would like a lift, which was very kind of him.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022After he dropped me off, I came inside, deposited my shopping and the NIKON 1 J5, picked up the NIKON D500 and went back outside.

First place to visit was the beach of course, so I headed off to stick my head over the wall to see what was happening.

There wasn’t much beach to be on right now, but that can be explained by the fact that I’m rather later than usual with having gone to the shops. But nevertheless, there were a couple of people down there walking around at the water’s edge making the most of the afternoon.

trawler patrol boat helicopter baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022But there was a tremendous amount of excitement taking place out at sea this afternoon.

It wasn’t very clear so I had to enhance the photograph considerably before I could make it out. And never mind the trawler at the front of the phot, it’s right behind it where all of the activity is taking place.

The boat that’s there has aa array of radio antennae that are more of a military designation than that of a commercial fishing boat, and hovering overhead is the air-sea rescue helicopter.

There doesn’t seem to be anyone being lowered down or winched up from what I can see, but it really was difficult to make out anything at all with the naked eye. It was exciting all the same.

trawlers port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022On the way home in the car I’d seen a trawler or two lined up at the gates to the harbour, so I went back there with the camera to check.

By now there were quite a few boats out there lined up ready to go in as soon as the gates open, and several of the smaller ones unloading at the fish processing plant.

Back in the apartment I made myself a nice hot coffee and brought it back in here to drink. And I’m not sure what happened to the rest of the afternoon. I didn’t crash out or anything but I certainly didn’t do any work. I seem to have run aground again, to my dismay.

Nevertheless I did manage to scrape up the energy from somewhere to make my tea. There was a pepper that was looking rather sorry for itself so I made a pile of stuffing and had stuffed peppers with rice.

Right now though, I’m thoroughly exhausted yet again after the night that I had. I’m off to bed for a good sleep (if only …) because I have my Welsh class tomorrow and I want to be on form for that.

And then i’m going to try to pull myself together and sort myself out. It’s high time that I did something like that.

Sunday 16th January 2022 – NO WONDER …

… that I’m exhausted. I must have travelled miles during the night.

One of these days they’ll invent an ethereal fitbit that will track my travels when I’m off on my nocturnal voyages and I bet that the distances that I travel will be interesting.

Anyway, last night I had a very disturbed night (as you will discover as you read on) and despite being awake on several occasions at some kind of ridiculous hour, there was no danger whatever of my leaving my stinking pit until I was good and ready – which was about 10:15 this morning.

After the medication I had to download a few files off the portable computer that I take with me to Leuven, and then I could pair off the music for the next radio programme that I’ll be preparing on Monday. They went together quite well too, but not as well as they did a couple of weeks ago.

For a few hours afterwards I had a little laze about not doing too much, except for having my brunch. Porridge and thick slices of toast with strong black coffee.

Round about 15:00 I wandered into the kitchen and made a big load of pizza dough, seeing as I’d run out. And I do have to say that for some reason that I can’t understand, it turned out to be one of the nicest doughs that I have made.

Nice and soft and smooth and silky.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022having put the dough on the side in order to rise, I went off for my post-prandial perambulation around the promontory.

First port of call quite obviously was the beach to see what was happening down there today. It’s been a good few days since I stuck my head over the parapet.

Plenty of beach this afternoon but there wasn’t anyone down there on it, although I did notice a couple of people walking down the steps from the Rue du Nord going off for an afternoon ramble.

And while I was at it, I was being photo-bombed by a seagull on its way out to sea.

rainstorm ile de chausey baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022While I was there, I was having a good look around out to sea to see if there was anything happening there.

There wasn’t a single boat that I could see out there this afternoon which was a surprise because it was actually quite a nice afternoon, for a change. And after the last few days of winter, it’s warmed up somewhat and now much more like March again.

But there was a rainstorm brewing out at sea in the bay. You can see it out there just offshore, obscuring the Ile de Chausey. Luckily there wasn’t very much wind to speak of this afternoon so there wasn’t very much danger of me being caught in it.

rainstorm sun on sea baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022This afternoon we were having yet more beautiful lighting effects. It’s one of the things that I like about this time of the year.

We were having another one of these really nice TORA TORA TORA light displays where the sun comes streaming through the gaps in the clouds.

And with the rainstorm that was going on out at sea it was producing some quite interesting effects. It was a shame that there were so few people out there watching it. There can’t have been more than a dozen or so people out there on the path up to the lighthouse this afternoon.

sun baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022And out in the Baie de Mont St Michel things were even nicer.

As well as the TORA TORA TORA effect we had a spotlight or two illuminating the water as the sun shone brightly through a gap in the clouds.

The rainstorm in the distance was obscuring the Brittany coast but the sea was nice and bright there.

Wouldn’t it have been nice to have caught a yacht or a fishing boat sailing through the beams of light? But you can’t have everything of course.

cabanon vauban people on bench pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022There actually were some people down there admiring the view as well.

Sitting down there by the cabanon vauban was someone on the bench watching the sunset. And someone further out sitting on the rocks at the end of the headland. It’s a shame that there weren’t any boats out there for us to see this afternoon.

But on another more depressing note, the way things are these days, we have to keep a lose eye on people sitting like that on the rocks. The events of mid-November are still etched quite firmly in my mind.

container pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022But never mind that for the moment. There were things that were much more interesting going on that require some investigation.

The skip that’s down here on the headland gives us a clue, and my hat goes off to the driver who dropped it off here.

What is going on right now is concerning the group of people who are planning on opening a museum in one of the abandoned World War II bunkers. They have been given permission to go into another one of the closed-up bumkers and clear it out of 75 years-worth of debris and see what they can find.

pivot for cannon bunker pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022and almost straight away, they uncovered something interesting.

This is the pivot of a field gun – either a 105mm or a 128mm quite likely, that would be used as coastal defence to protect the area from either an invasion landing or a commando raid.

Mind you, when the Germans launched a commando raid on Granville on 9th March 1945, whatever artillery was here in the bunker didn’t do much good to repel the attack.

And, I suppose, as they go further into the bunker, the more and more artefacts will be discovered.

interior of bunker pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022But at least they have cleaned the walls of the bunker we can actually see the markings that the Germans painted on the walls.

These are presumably unit identification marks, although I don’t know which units are being indicated.

What I’ll have to do is to have a wander around the area during working hours and hope that I can lay my hands on one of the people clearing out the bunker. The fact that the skip is still here seems to indicate that they will be back here using it at the beginning of next week at least.

And so I’ll make a mental note.

storm waves on sea wall port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022although I said that there was very little wind today, there must be something going on somewhere out at sea.

As I walked around the headland I could hear the sound of the waves smacking into the harbour wall so I was keen to see exactly what was going on. Consequently I pushed on along the path towards the post.

It wasn’t much of a show, unfortunately. The waves were more powerful that I was expecting in view of the weather conditions, but they weren’t producing anything spectacular when they crashed into the wall. There was plenty of noise but none of it to any great effect.

les bouchots de chausey unloading port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022Meanwhile, over at the fish-processing plant, there was plenty of activity going on.

Les Bouchots de Chausey, one of the little inshore shell-fishing boats, was in port this afternoon, working on a Sunday. And she must have had quite a good catch today.

She’s busy unloading her boxes of shellfish onto the trailer at the back of the tractor over there and you can tell from the amount on there that she’s had a profitable day.

A few weeks ago I encountered the tractor hauling the loaded trailer off through the town and out towards Donville les Bains. And one of these days I’ll follow her to find out where she goes.

gerlean chausiaise joly france chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022When I came back from Paris yesterday I could see that there was little change in the chantier naval.

As we can see, Gerlean is still in there. All on her own, too. No-one else has come in to join her while I was away.

Over at the ferry terminal however, we have the usual suspects over there. Chausiaise, the little freighter, is at the head of the queue and behind her is the older of the two Joly France boats – the one without the step in the stern.

ch638749 pescadore ch907879 l'arc en ciel ch898472 cap lihou l'omerta port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022On the way back home I went to look at the boats moored in the inner harbour, not the least of the reasons being that L’Omerta was actually tied up for once at the pier.

We also had Pescadore, L’Arc-en-Ciel, Cap Lihou and a couple of other boats that I didn’t recognise tied up down there too.

And of course there were the two Channel Island Ferries, Victor Hugo and Granville, moored up in the background looking as if they aren’t ever going to move again.

Back here, I made myself a coffee and then sat down to transcribe the dictaphone notes from last night.

In the middle if the night I awoke as I was counting something and trying to write down these numbers with a pen but I couldn’t find a pen that worked. But I can’t remember now what it was that I was counting and I have no idea. It was like a table of numbers or something and this was just one particular row of these numbers but I can’t remember what they were for.

Later on there was a pile of girls, probably about 6 or 7 years of age having to stand in a line and talk about where they came from etc. One girl came from Africa but was a white girl said “Africa, yes, that’s me. That’s where I come from. That’s my home town” etc but I couldn’t help the feeling that this was being transferred over to me as well. I had ti edit the view of this concert because the ratio was wrong – something like 1.5:1 instead of 1.1. If I were to do that I would lose a lot of everything. I had to have the focusing right and the general screen capture size right in order to do it. And I’m impressed with the technical details and terms that I can spout when I’m asleep .

After that there was a girl aged about 10 or 11 or so in a swimsuit and bonnet. Suddenly she was attacked and killed. That cheered me up because it meant that there would be a place for me to go and live on an island so I put myself in the queue but there was someone there in charge, some fellow or person, who said “there are still too many people so the queue needs to be cut down by half” which meant that I wasn’t going to go this time. I would have to wait for something equally dramatic next time before I could go. And isn’t that all a totally gruesome idea?

Last night we were also prisoners of war in something like COLDITZ CASTLE in a high security room with a few of us in it. We tried to escape once but the guy in charge was not very good and not only had we all been recaptured before we’d even done anything he’d had some confidential papers captured too and he’d been shot although not seriously. We were there again and we tried to have another go at escaping. The idea was to lull this commandant person into a false sense of security then when one of his guards would go out to do something, we could overpower the reduced numbers and escape from the castle like Colditz. So one of the guards had to leave. As he pulled up the zip on his ski suit it passed a certain point that someone had indicated with a blue “X”. This meant that the escape was on. He went and someone pulled on the commandant a gun that he had hidden and gathered up quickly everything that they needed. Then it was a case of making the commandant unconscious so someone hit him with the barrel of the gun. It didn’t work so I hit him about 3 or 4 times but that still didn’t knock him unconscious so in the end someone else took over. We then set the room alight. Someone wasn’t happy about leaving the commandant there with this room alight. I replied that every time he flew over Germany he dropped one bomb that killed far more people than just one without any scruples whatsoever

Interestingly, later on we were all in this Prisoner of War camp in this high-security room with the commandant and a couple of the guards. We’d already tried to escape once but had been overpowered by weight of numbers and the guy in charge had been shot, not seriously. They captured all of our confidential papers and I tried to drum it in to the idea thatwe should keep all of the papers like that together so that they could be thrown into the fire early etc. In the end we made ourselves ready. One of the German guards was called away as we hoped leaving the commandant behind. When this guy’s zip was drawn up to a certain spot it was as if a blue “X” appeared on his zip when the two sides were drawn together. That was our signal so we overpowered the commandant and captured his papers etc and prepared to leave. We set fire to the room with some accelerant. Someone was upset about that. We should rescue the captain but I said that each bomb that they had dropped over German territory would kill far more people than just one and that they’d dropped that bomb without any scruples whatsoever. In the end they prepared to scramble down out of this building and this railway cutting on their way off. So what was happening there that I had an almost-identical dream twice I have no idea.

And then I had my house up for sale. There was a group of us round at my other place tidying it up because it was really dirty, building rubble and brick dust everywhere that I was trying to vacuum, not very successfully. My friend from Belfast grabbed hold of me and asked me what was going on about Luxembourg. I replied that they were worried that the whole world was going to be flooded with cheap labour from the Arab states. He asked what I propsed to do about it and I replied “put a tax on foreign workers”. He said that that wouldn’t go down very well with some people. I replied “never mind. It can’t be helped”. We had to keep checking the door to make sure that a girl I know from Luxembourg wasn’t overhearing. We came round to what we were going to do about the apartment that was for sale. Someone told me to be careful and not to accept the first offer I received. I replied “I’m well aware of that” and told them a few stories about apartments that had been sold. “I’m prepared to wait for the right moment” even if it meant leaving it empty or putting it down in ten, but I’d sell it”. Then we were all called together and had to collect our security passes. Helen’s security pass and Steve’s security pass, I’d been involved in the preparation of those and I still had the boxes in which their cards came so I had to be very careful to give the right number to the guy taking the details that whoever he looked at had, he would write down the right number, mine and not one of the other two’s, and that he wouldn’t duplicate the numbers and leave one of the cards out.

Finally there was something about a Land Rover. I was with a friend last night. We’d gone to see a van that I’d just bought – that he’d bought on my behalf. An LDV. We didn’t actually get to see the LDv – we were sidetracked as usual by a Land Rover that he owned. It was a diesel and we were taking about this diesel Land Rover. I mentioned that I owned a Minerva that brought a few smiles from around various people. In the end we ended up back at his wife’s. She was talking about his cars, saying that he had far too many and it was high time that he did a few things with one. Something came up about another Land Rover that he owned, how something had to be done with that so that the Land Rover that we had seen at someone else’s house could be brought home. he said something about going to fetch the van that I’d bought but I asked him “where are you going to park it?”. There was no room in his drive at all. he saw the wisdom in that and said that we can do that another time. By then the wife and I were out somewhere. We had Zero with us. We’d been driving around but I thought that we’d not been going the right way to get back to her house. Instead she took another way. We were waiting to turn right at a road junction but were there for hours, even with people passing on the right to go straight on. Eventually we reached this other house which was in total chaos worse than mine. She was telling these guys about her husband’s new Land Rover. Zero was there with these other kids, all playing with a huge pile of toys and everything. It just seemed to peter out at that particular moment, this story, which was rather a shame.

It’s no surprise that I was exhausted after all of this travelling about. And what a shame that the final voyage petered out just as it was becoming interesting.

vegan pizza place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022But there was so much of it that I had to break off in the middle to go and deal with the dough.

It had risen beautifully so I split it into three batches. Two of them went into the freezer and the third one was rolled out and put in the pizza tray to proof for an hour or so while I carried on with “War and Peace”.

After the dough had risen nicely I assembled the pizza and put it in the oven to bake.

And when it was finished, it looked totally beautiful. And I do have to say that it tasted even better, even if I had forgotten to use the remaining half-pepper that I had brought out of the fridge.

So having written my notes, I’m off to bed. It’s a 06:00 start tomorrow as I have a radio programme to prepare. There’s the physio tomorrow afternoon too, so I need to be at my best.

But we’ll see how tomorrow unfolds, especially if I travel as far during the night as I did last night.

Saturday 15th January 2022 – HERE I ALL AM …

… not actually sitting in a rainbow, but sitting in my nice comfortable chair in my office thinking that Barry Hay was absolutely right when he said “there’s one thing that I can tell you, man, and that is that it’s good to be back home”.

And after one of the most uneventful journeys that I have ever had too.

In fact the only thing that went wrong during the trip was that the ticket collector caught me having a crafty bite out of my butties. Since 3rd January 2022 it’s against the law to eat on public transport. So he had a good moan at me about it.

The morning started quite bizarrely because although the alarm was due to go off at 05:00 I had left my bed a long time before hand and was busy drinking a coffee and making my sandwiches when the alarm did go off.

Despite the somewhat reduced sleep, I still managed to go off on several voyages during the night. I’d picked up my daughter (!!!) from Crewe Railway Station and we had to go to Edge Hill in Liverpool to catch a boat so we hired a car and drove there. Everyone else stayed on the train. At Edge Hill we had to board this boat to go across the ocean but I can’t remember where now. It involved stepping onto this beach where there were 3 wild animals, an elephant, a tiger and a third animal. The tiger was extremely playful but nevertheless it unnerved me quite a lot as I was trying to walk around this island. It kept trying to pretend to stalk me by getting behind me and attacking me. I had to turn round to face it and chase it away. Then the elephant joined in and started to push me around with its tusk. This was starting to become really out of hand. I had the feeling that this elephant, if I let it, was going to do far more than just play around with me. I told the person who was with me, whoever it was, that if they didn’t do anything to control these animals the elephant was going to have a bullet through the brain. They insisted that it was just being playful but it wasn’t very playful as far as I was concerned and I was determined to deal with this elephant permanently either by having it taken away or else by the fact that I was going to shoot it and I’d do the same to the tiger as well if they didn’t organise themselves any better and control their animals

This was the dream about the “Hawkwind” group about which I’d been thinking. There were a couple of girls called Aral or Araf, something like that, who had joined as well but that was all it was really, about the two groups and merging together to perform those Hawkwind tracks that I had mentioned and I can’t remember anything else about it (and I’d love to know what I missed recording that made me dictate this in this particular way).

I was in Canada last night. I’d just arrived. I’d been to a car auction and there was someone there trying to sell one of these minivan things. He didn’t want very much money for it – about £700 or £800 – but it was a non-runner and needed a lot of work doing to it. It was really only suitable for using as a shed or something. There was a big argument going on between a woman and the auctioneers and a couple of other people about this. The next lot to be offered was an old panel van, the type from the 1940s or 50s. I was talking to the girl. This had no engine in it or anything like that so I said “well if it’s only for a garden shed this is what I’d use as it has no windows in it for a start. It turned out that she was only looking for $50 for it and that was much more reasonable.

Then I ended up at my niece’s house. She was saying something like they could only have one egg delivered by the ‘phone. She gave me a letter than hadn’t been opened and asked me to deal with it. It was something about some company stopping deliveries to the house. I rang them up to find out what had happened. It turned out that there had been a delivery to the house 2 years ago but no-one had signed for it so they were recommending to courier companies that they no longer delivered here. That would stymie just about everything for what was going on in Canada with her and so on so I rang up the tyre depot to speak to her daughter. I asked if she knew anything about this company. She replied that that was the company she dealt with. I asked her about this parcel. She said that she remembered it so I told her that she had to ring them back straight away and explain the situation to them otherwise we aren’t going to have any more deliveries. That will bring the business to a halt. She sounded drunk on the phone, something like that, and I couldn’t get any sense out of her. I carried on talking to her but it was still extremely difficult. Trying to give her the phone number was extremely complicated because she wasn’t paying any attention to anything that anyone was telling her. I thought “this is going to end in tragedy, isn’t it?”

martelarenplein leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022There’s a reminder alarm that goes off at 05:30 but at that time I was already down the street on my way to the railway station.

Of course I can’t go and look for a train without checking on how the work in the Martelarenplein is progressing. And the answer to that is, unfortunately, “slowly”. They don’t seem to have made very much progress at all since we were here four weeks ago.

It’ll probably be just the same when I come back here in four weeks’ time, if I do. At the rate at which I’m going, I’m not convinced that I’ll still be here in four weeks’ time. I feel as if my battery has gone completely flat.

557 am 96 multiple unit gare de leuven railway station Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022There’s a choice of three trains to take me to Brussels – the 06:08 stopper, the 06:11 that goes via the airport and the 06:31 direct, all of which arrive at roughly the same time so it makes no difference really which one I catch.

However, the airport train was one of the very comfortable AM96 multiple units. It was already in the station too and looked quite warm and inviting – it was absolutely taters outside – so I clambered aboard that one.

Having gone the long way round, it was 06:58 when it pulled into the Gare du Midi and that left me 45 minutes to wait for my train to Paris. I can cope with that, even if I can’t find anywhere warm and comfortable to sit. I hate these huge, draughty stations where you can’t ever keep out of the wind.

TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt 4538 PBA gare du midi brussels Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022Much to my surprise, the train was announced a long time before the usual 15 minutes. And even more surprisingly, we were actually allowed to board it.

It was quite empty this morning so we had plenty of space to spread out. Not the usual “crammed in like sardines” situation. I made myself comfortable and listened to my Hawkwind concert – the one that I had prepared on my way to Brussels on Wednesday.

And during the journey I did some more work on making notes on the Flatey Book and I could have done more than I did but to tell the truth, I had something of a “relax” for part of the journey.

At the Gare du Nord it took me a few minutes to find a metro ticket that worked, and then I was able to board probably the most crowded metro train that I’ve ever seen

place du 18 juin 1940 paris france Eric Hall photo January 2022At the Montparnasse metro station I came up into the Rue du Départ, plumping for the easier walk on level ground rather than up and down the steps in the labyrinth.

Behind where I come out of the bowels of the earth is the Boulevard Montparnasse and the Place du 18 Juin 1940. I wlked from down that way somewhere when I did my TRAVERSEE DE PARIS during the strike of public transport.

The walk in the opposite direction was quite straightforward and it’s quite depressing to think that I hadn’t thought about walking on the surface beforehand.

At the station it was much quieter than when I was here four weeks ago and I even managed to bag a comfortable seat with a power point.

84564 gec alstom regiolis gare montparnasse paris france Eric Hall photo January 2022No prizes for guessing which one was my train to Granville.

And even more so when the red lights came on with about 15 minutes to go before we were due to depart.

When the train was called, we trooped off to find out seats. Mine was right down at the far end of the train near the driver. And once again, the train was empty. 12 carriages and I reckon that the passengers on the train could have had a carriage each.

On the way home I listened to my concert again and read a book about a cavalry unit from Michigan during the American Civil War. And tried rather unsuccessfully to eat my sandwiches.

84559 gec alstom regiolis gare de Granville railway station Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022Our train was made up of two 6-car units and I’d been in the front unit. I hadn’t photographed that in Paris so I took a photo of it on my way out of the station at Granville.

First stop was at the Carrefour down the hill from the station. A pizza isn’t a pizza without mushrooms on it and they sell 250-gramme punnets at €0:99 so if I can’t go to LeClerc for my loose ones, I’ll pick them up here.

And that reminds me. I’ve run out of pizza dough so I need to make some more tomorrow.

The town was fairly quiet this afternoon with no tourists and I took the back way home anyway so I had even less to worry about – except for the ambulance that nearly ran me down in a back street. And then reversed back to have another go seeing as he had missed on the way past.

replacing bricks on wall rue des juifs Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022Going up the hill towards home dragging my suitcase behind me was something of a struggle and I was glad to stop halfway up and eat my butties.

There was also some work on the wall in the Rue des Juifs that I’d missed. Some of the capping bricks had crumbled away and they have now been replaced. I suppose that they will be back on Monday to point them.

Back here I had a coffee and collapsed into my chair without moving for a good couple of hours. All of this travelling is exhausting me and the final climb is killing me off, I reckon. And if they can’t find the problem at the hospital, I suppose that I’m going to be stuck like this.

Tea was some of those small breadcrumbed soya fillets with veg and potatoes. Really quite delicious. I needed that.

And now I’m off to bed. I’m absolutely whacked after my early start and my trek home. A good sleep will do me good, so just watch someone phone me up or something.

Friday 14th January 2022 – AFTER ALL OF YESTERDAY’S …

… efforts, I ended up in bed at some kind of early time of night. With no need for an alarm tomorrow no appointments, and also no phone either), I was going to make the most of it.

Unfortunately, it didn’t quite turn out like that. I don’t sleep as well in the bed here as I do in my bed at home, and then there was the fact that I’d been off on my travels.

There are several different sound files on the dictaphone, and that shows that I had a very disturbed night. At some point I’d just been to fill the kettle that was on the bedside table, put it on its stand and went to switch it on to make a cup of coffee in the middle of the night.

It’s amazing the kind of things that you can do when you are fast asleep, isn’t it?

There was something about submarines last night. It wasn’t a tube as you might expect but it was U-shaped passenger compartment where four people could lie down. It was the only way to be. Two of them were in the higher part in the centre and two were in the lower part, one at each end. The submarine was sent on active service like that. There was no way for any of these people to move once they were on board and it must have been the most uncomfortable and claustrophobic thing ever yet even I had been out in it on active service. On one occasion I was at school watching these kids and the tutor was talking about who’d done what, who’d dome something else, naming these kids. Then on eof the kids mentioned my name. It turned out that one of the kids wanted me to give a talk on these submarines so I gave them a little talk on it. As I say, it’s most surprising because you would never ever get me into a submarine like this, not in a million years. later on when I went to see if I was back again with this submarine there was something to do with lords and ladies, not their names, and some kind of operating manual about this submarine but I can’t remember what this was and what it related to, anything like that

Much as I hate submarines I found myself volunteering for the crew of this to go out and sail in it and that is most unlikely for me. But anyway it looks as if I’ve just stepped back into the story from which I had just stepped out.

There were some of us last night around the West Midlands. We’d been somewhere and had to return home so we were looking for a railway station. We were in a vehicle and had driven underneath a railway line. A little further ahead was another railway line so we imagined that there was a railway junction which might mean that there would be a station. There was a bus coming out of there with schoolkids. We saw a sign that said “Intercity” so we turned down this road underneath the railway bridge and followed the railway line. Instead it took us into a yard where there were all kinds of railway maintenance equipment etc. We thought “this can’t possibly be right” but we carried on. At the end of the yard was a kind of dirt track out so we followed this dirt track, still following the railway and ended up somehow in someone’s house. We thought “we’re in civilisation so we can get out here” but we ended up in some girl’s bedroom. There was no handle on the door on the inside. This guy and I had a look round but I could see that this wasn’t going to work so we’d be better clearing off quickly. I went back into the annexe where we’d appeared. The other two people were standing there. I told them that we had better make ourselves scarce because this isn’t it. The fourth person, the one who had come with me into the main room hadn’t put in an appearance. We thought “we can’t hang around because sooner or later we’ll be caught by someone being in this house.

Finally I was in Shavington last night and there was an Austin 1100 being worked on down the street. A young boy was going it. There was a little girl of about 3 or 4 helping him or watching him. He was talking to her and asked her where something was, like a nursery or a toy room or something. She took him down to where Caliburn was parked. He opened the door of Caliburn and took out a bottle of beer and started to drink it. I went down there and grabbed hold of him and asked him what he was doing. He wouldn’t answer so I asked him for his name. He gave me about 4 or 5 different names. In the end I asked him what was his name in his birth certificate. He replied “none of those. It’s extremely complicated”. I was becoming extremely short-tempered at this particular moment so maybe it was just as well that I awoke.

Being awake is one thing. Being out of bed is something else. It was round about 09:30 when I finally arose from the dead, and then after the medication I spent much of the day choosing the music for the next batch of 5 radio programmes.

All of that is done and dusted, although it took me longer than it might have done. Breakfast was a contributory factor and so was lunch, but there was more than just a small amount of indolence too

folding up market stall herbert hooverplein leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022When I’d finished, I went off into town for my walk.

With it being friday, it’s market day in the Herbert Hooverplein and the Monseigneur Ladeuzeplein although they have usually all cleared off by 14:00. I caught the very last one, who “shall fold their tents, like the Arabs and as silently steal away”, just like in Longfellow’s “The Day Is Done”.

First stop on my way into town was at the FNAC to check the data cables for my telephone. But if anyone thinks that I’m going to be paying the kind of price that they want for one, then they are mistaken.

demolition of match supermarket bondgenotenlaan leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022So never mind. I have a cunning plan, so I headed off outside the front door into the Bondgenotenlaan.

There’s a “Match” supermarket just up the road from here but by the looks of things it isn’t going to be here all that long. Since I was here last, they have made a start on demolishing it.

That’s a shame because what we’ll have is a modern deluxe building with the kind of rent that a supermarket like Match could never pay and make a profit, and there’s another local amenity gone for good.

However it is quite amusing seeing the 18th Century building still standing after all these years and here they are ripping down something of the 1960s. It just goes to show.

In Kruidvat, as I expected, I struck it lucky. I picked up a 2-metre micro-USB cable for just €2:99. That’s much more like it.

That was a good move because I can use that with the ZOOM H8 and bring the smaller cable with me on my travels to use with the ‘phone and the NIKON 1 J5.

wall plaque sack of leuven louis melsensstraat leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022In my quest for a baking tin, I went down the Louis Melsensstraat towards the cheap shops. And here I noticed a wall plaque of a type that I don’t recall seeing before.

The story of the Sack of Leuven by the Germans in August 1914 has been told often enough and you’ll see many buildings in the town with a wall plaque like the one on the left, indicating that the building was a victim of the German atrocities.

The one on the right though is different. I’ve no idea to what the date of 1922 refers. It might possibly related to the date when the building was restored. I shall have to make certain enquiries when I find someone who might know the answer.

Neither Wibra, Zeeman nor Hema came up with a suitable baking tin so it looks as if I’ll have to buy one of the overpriced ones at LeClerc when I go home. Those there are 18cm ones there but that’s more than enough for me to make a cake for myself in the future. The pyrex dish that I used instead was rather too large for what I want.

There was better luck in Sports Direct, where I bought some new trousers and also in the health-food shop Origin’o where I picked up some more grated vegan cheese for my pizzas and some vegan sausages. I really enjoyed those that I bought last time I was here.

river dijle leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022On the way to Delhaize (for some more banana soya drink) and Hema, I went for a little wander by the River Dijle to see what was happening there.

It’s changed quite a lot since we last stood on this spot. Back in 2016 when I was living here the river was overflowing after that very dramatic rainstorm that we had had, and a few months ago it was pretty full too after a lengthy bout of rain.

At Delhaize I picked up my drink and then went round to Hema. No baking tins here either, which was a surprise. Hema usually has almost everything that you need. What do people in Flanders (and France) use when they are baking cakes? And where do they go to buy it?

christmas trees grote markt leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022Back in the Grote Markt, it’s starting to go dark so they have illuminated the Christmas trees and the other decorations.

The crèche has gone so there isn’t all that much here to illuminate today so we have to do the best that we can with what we’ve got. Lighting up the real tree that’s here is … errr … interesting.

It’s still quite cold so I’m not going to hang around this afternoon. There are plenty of places that I would like to visit, but not in this weather. The possibility of a piping-hot coffee is summoning me home.

Back here I had the coffee that I had promised myself and then went through the photos that I’d taken over the last few days.

But now that I’ve had my tea, I’m off to bed. I have an 05:00 start in the morning ready for my train at 06:26.

Thursday 13th January 2022 – I’VE BEEN TOLD …

… by a doctor at the hospital that I would probably be better off having some counselling.

And I’d hate to be the person who draws the short straw and has to probe the depths of my subconscious mind.

But seriously, anyone who has to go to see a psychiatrist needs his head examined. It reminds me of the story about the guy who went to see a psychiatrist
“What’s the matter with you?”
“I think that I’m a dog”.
“And how long have you been feeling ike that?”
“Ever since I was a puppy”
“You’d better lie down on the couch”.
“I can’t”
“Why not?”
“I’m not allowed to”.

Last night I was in bed by 21:30 tucked up quietly in the warmth. And it didn’t take too long before I dozed off, only to awaken at 04:25.

No chance of my being out of bed at any time like that. I turned over and tried to go back to sleep – without a great deal of success, I have to say. At least, not until five minutes before the alarm went off.

Plenty of stuff on the dictaphone from the night too. Back in the days before World War II when there were a couple of scientists working on some machines that we’d captured. One was a kind of musical juke box which was to do with the German Air Force. We’d had this and had to rewire a new plug onto it, plugged it in and made it work. I’m not sure of the relevance of anything else but it actually predicted the arrival of the first German aeroplane to cross the Dutch border in World War II and the troops on the ground who saw it fly over this cliff where they were keeping watch. It was loaded with explosives but they were lucky and they were ready and managed to bring it down. But the explosives caused a huge amount of damage all over the local area and there was some kind of dispute about it. Was it the right thing to do? Then it turned out that in one raid by the Allied air force in 1942 or something they had actually caught the inventor of this machine and killed him in the bombing raid. There was another machine but they weren’t sure exactly what it did but it was something to do with family trees. When they finally cracked what it did, the key name was Robinson or Robertson but that was something to do with the German people who had designed the machine. When they worked out the surname the allies were quite jubilant about it all.

Later on back in some kind of Cold War time we were on a deserted dock in the North of Scotland somewhere which at one time had been a Victorian dry dock complex but was now abandoned. We’d gone to investigate it and found some paperwork relating to some movements. Then this ship docked and a huge Russian lorry was wheeled off. We explored all over this lorry. It was quite primitive but was loaded up with some kind of stuff so we made some real notes about it. We even knew its name, which I have forgotten. There was also a caravan thing. We were surprised that the lorry was far easier to drive than this caravan. This lorry, we were underneath it checking everything etc. We even heard them giving orders about driving it. This was bound to be something of real interest to someone.

Later on there was some kind of follow-up to this incident about the dock but I can’t remember very much about it except that a girl was quite upset because she believed that it had been installed with the agreement and knowledge of the British authorities and was very upset that we were poking around it.

Following the demise of Shearings I went to look for another job as a coach driver and ended up looking at a place that had some old Duple-bodied coaches that was advertising. Their coaches were really nice, clean, tidy and well-painted even though they were old. The question of whether these were still in operation even though they were more than 20 years old came up but they didn’t seem to be bothered. They were running them quite happily. We had a good chat and I explained that I worked mainly for Shearings so I knew how to drive and how to run coach tours and private hire trips according to how they did them but that was probably different from anyone else. They agreed to offer me a job and they were impressed to notice that I knew already about fuel cards etc. He showed me a coach, a T-registered Duple that had been repainted but the preparation had been awful so I had a word about that. I thought that it ought to have been done better. Then it came out that I had an Operator’s Licence (which I actually do, and an International one at that) so he thought that he might put me at one of their subsidiaries somewhere. We boarded a coach which was rather tatty inside, I thought and didn’t seem to suit their image, and drove off. I expected that they would have wanted me to drive so that they could see what I was like but they didn’t which I thought was strange. At a certain point we stopped, got out and started to walk, past these abandoned houses and the guy was talking about who used to live there and what he used to do, and had we been here 20 years ago there would have been tons of stuff in these houses to save. Climbing over the ruins was quite difficult. Then the name of Zygmund came up. There were 2 boys talking about it and we overheard. I said that I knew someone called Zygmund (and I did too – he lived in Nantwich and was a friend of my father’s). He knew this person as well so we had a chat about this, what I remembered from my father and he added a few bits and pieces in. We then clambered over this really old house that had been used to keep a horse in which had contributed to its demise

After the meds I had a shower and washed my clothes, then I made my sandwiches and headed off into town. I’m glad that I’d brought my winter coat with me because the temperature was down to 1.5°C outside.

tavern universum herbert hooverplein leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022On my way down the street into town I passed by the corner of the Herbert Hooverplein.

When we were here last month they were doing something her that had caught my attention but I can’t now remember what it was. But whatever it was, they look as if they are pretty-well advanced with it.

There’s scaffolding up all around the Taverne Universum and covered with a sheet to protect the passers-by from whatever it is that they are doing.

And as for the sign “what’s next?” – we’ll have to wait to find out. I’m not convinced that it will be next time either, knowing the speed in which they seem to work here in Belgium.

shop renovation rector de somerplein leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022Further down the hill in the Rector de Somerplein I went past that building that we saw them smashing up a couple of months ago.

Nothing much seemed to have happened when we went past last time, but now they seem to have got to grips with it.

Covered in scaffolding with its protective covering and with a laden skip outside the door it looks as if things are advancing quite rapidly. Of course I can’t stick my hear in there for another look while they are actually working there though. I’ll have to wait until the scaffolding and its cover come down.

And that’s not going to be for quite a while either, I reckon.

school trip on bicycles naamsestraat leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022Bicycles play an important role in the life of the average citizen of Leuven and the place is flooded with them.

Coming down the Naamsestraat into the Grote Markt is what looks very much like a school outing or something similar a whole pile of schoolkids accompanied by a few adults on a pedal-powered outing.

Luckily they aren’t going my way, although had I been a minute or so later I would have encountered them head-on. I left them to it and carried on down the hill into the Brusselsestraat where there wasn’t very much of any kind of excitement at all today.

hardstanding velodrome brusselsestraat leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that at the back of the new velodrome there’s some kind of hardstanding that they have installed.

In the past we’ve seen all kinds of things on there. There have been marquees and the like, and I even recall seeing a few potted palms as well on one occasion.

Today though, there’s nothing. We have the Christmas lights still strung up there but that’s about your lot.

Nevertheless, if those buildings at the back are going to be staying put and not be knocked down, they need to be doing something with them to tidy them up. They are building a little exclusive village here eventually and I’m sure that the residents, having paid all of this money, will want to have a good view for their money.

building work on medieval stone tower brusselsestraat leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022A little further on down the street is the old medieval tower that we first saw after they had knocked down St Pieter’s Hospital that used to stand on this site.

Since it was unveiled in all of its glory, it’s been veiled up again, and quite rightly so with all of the construction going on all around it.

It’s all that remains of the old medieval city walls in this area, although there’s a couple of hundred of hundred feet still standing behind me down by the side of the river that it also in the process of being restored.

And part of the plan is for this tower to stand at the side of the river again. Where we are standing now is actually on top of the river that is flowing underneath us in a culvert. Part of the plan for the site is to rip out the culvert and have the river exposed to the air again.

Further down at the end of the street I decided to go a different way to the hospital.

building work kapucijnenvoer leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022There are a couple of building sites, like this one between the Zongang and the Kapucijnenvoer, upon which my beady eye is being kept and by the time that I come here tonight it will be too dark to see anything.

By the looks of things, all of the structure is in place and they’ve taken their time to get here. At first the building went up like a mushroom but they seem to have slowed down somewhat since those heady days.

The next task, I suppose, will be to fit it out before they finish off with the cladding. I’m not sure how long that will take them but I don’t suppose that it’s the work of five minutes either. And I wonder how the residents of the Zongang are getting on, having been deprived of much of their natural light.

building work kapucijnenvoer leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022Further on down the street on the other side of the road is the big impressive building on which they have been working for quite some time.

There were plenty of workmen about so I had to be rather circumspect, but we can see that they’ve been making some progress with the building. And I was right. It is going to be a huge thing.

There’ no indication of the purpose of the building when it’s finished – no signs or anything – so we’ll have to wait for a while until we find out what is going on.

To my surprise I made it all the way to the hospital without stopping for breath, even all the way up the hill in the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan. It’s been a long time since I’ve done that.

At the cardiologist’s, they put me on e couch and coupled me up to a machine that would take a reading. And then the consultant saw me.

They couldn’t find anything seriously wrong with my heart when they did all those tests last time. He thinks that it’s something to do with clogged arteries (which is a great surprise to me as I don’t eat the kind of food that will cause that). He’s going to try to treat it by medication.

And so having decided when my daily intake of tablets increased to 8 per day that I was going to make a great effort to cut down, I’m now on 15 per day. So that plan clearly isn’t working, is it?

At the day centre they coupled me up to the infusion and left me to it. The doctor came to see me to ask how I was and when I told him that I was fed up, he started on this counselling lark.

One of the things that I mentioned was that I can’t shift this excess weight, and I can’t seem to improve my breathing and can’t go back to running, all of that. He suggested that I take up much more exercise in an attempt to deal with the weight and the fitness levels, but he didn’t have an answer to “how do I do that with my breathing issues?”.

While I was there I did manage to do some work in between the bouts of sleep. Tuesday’s notes that I had left only half-written are now up to date (except for the night’s little voyages).

Alison came to the hospital to pick me up and she took me back to her house where she made tea. And it was my lucky day today because one of her cats let me pick him up and give him a big stroke. He seemed quite comfortable too.

Alison kindly ran me home later, which was nice of her. We’d had a very long chat about all kinds of this and that, and did our best to put the world to rights. But I think that it’ll take much more than whatever we can come up with to do that.

Now I’m off to bed and a nice lie in. Just as well as the ‘phone battery is flat and I can’t recharge it until I find a data cable from somewhere.

No appointments tomorrow so I can take it easy. Just a pile of music to select for the radio programmes and a trip out to the shops. That should keep me out of mischief for a while.

Wednesday 12th January 2022 – THAT’S NOT SOMETHING …

… that I want to be doing too often.

When I went to bed last night at about 21:15 I didn’t think that I would ever go off to sleep – tossing and turning around for quite a while.

But when the alarm went off at 04:00 I was fast asleep. However I was up and about quite quickly. There was even something on the dictaphone but all that I remember about last night was that there were 3 or 4 of us waiting to board a bus or something. When it came in, one of the guys stepped aside to let us on. We asked him why he wasn’t going to board. He replied that he was waiting for someone who hadn’t turned up yet.

That was the only thing that I can remember from last night.

By the time that it came to leaving the apartment I was champing at the bit to be off. I’d long-since done everything that needed doing.

fish processing plant port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022When I left the building I went to the viewpoint at the corner of the Boulevard des 2E et 202E de Ligne and the Boulevard Vaufleury.

In order to make sure that the camera was working correctly I took a photo of the fish processing plant. Plenty of light coming from the inside and a couple of refrigerated lorries parked outside so there must be plenty of work going on down there this morning, despite the mist that’s hanging over everywhere.

It’s been said that every “floating” job in the fishing industry creates four or five jobs on land and that’s easy to understand when you find out what happens in places like a fish processing plant.

One of the things that I would like to do is to actually go for a wander around inside but even if it were possible, they wouldn’t allow it in the middle of a pandemic.

The walk up to the station was done in darkness and solitude and to my surprise it wasn’t all that difficult. The Aranesp injections must be working.

Bombardier B82792 gare de Granville railway station Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022At the railway station my train was already in and at the platform waiting.

But I wasn’t interested in that right now. I had to track down the guard of the train. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that yesterday I couldn’t change the ticket for the train to Caen because with the train being cancelled, they had cancelled all of the tickets.

She wasn’t about as yet, but I made myself known to the driver and explained my situation. He’ll tell the guard as soon as she arrives and if it’s an issue she’ll come to see me.

Bombardier B82647 gare de Granville railway station Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022As it happens, the photo that I took just now wasn’t actually “my” train.

Well, it is in the sense that it’s not just a one-unit train but a two-unit train. The one you saw earlier was the rear half but I’m going to sit in the front half. There aren’t any reserved seats on this train and the farther you are from the entrance to the platform, the fewer people there are to bother you.

They give up the long walk and plonk themselves down closer to where they entered the platform.

The guard did come to see me and I explained my situation to her. I showed the guard the receipt for the purchase of the ticket and she waved me on with no issues.

The train was empty when we set off but by the time that it arrived in Caen it was heaving with people whom it had picked up on the way.

Bombardier Regio 2N 56629 gare st lazare paris France Eric Hall photo January 2022There was an hour’s wait at Caen due to having travelled on an earlier train, but the trip to Paris was pretty painless and I really enjoyed it.

It’s a Bombardier Regio 2N trainset and there are 447 of these rolling about on the French railway network. First hitting the rails in 2013, they are clean modern, comfortable and quick and I’d travel on these all day if I could. It’s almost enough to make me think about moving to the Caen area just to have the privilege of travelling regularly on them.

The 2N by the way stands for deux niveau, or “two decks”. These are double-decker units and didn’t the UK miss a trick when it heightened all of its infrastructure to allow the electrification of certain lines, and not heightening it enough for double-deckers.

One thing that was very important was that I snapped out of the deep, black depression in which I’d been for the last week or so. As soon as I boarded the train I made up a playlist of all of my favourite stomping Hawkwind numbers, the ones that I would play if I could lay my hands on a guitarist, a drummer and a violinist, because Simon House’s violin-playing on tracks such as STEPPENWOLF and DAMNATION ALLEY is absolutely phenomenal.

And then you have the full-length version of SPIRIT OF THE AGE and any one of another dozen that I could mention.

Mind you, the bloke in the seat in front didn’t like my singing much, so that was rather a shame for him, wasn’t it?

gare st lazare paris France Eric Hall photo January 2022The train arrived at Gare St Lazare on time and I had another nightmare occurrence trying to make the automatic machine read my ticket before I could leave the platform.

And in the ghostly, eerie, empty atmosphere of the railway station I could take a better photo than the one that I took last time. I’m not sure where everyone is becuase it’s usually packed. Maybe they heard that I was coming.

The trip from Paris St Lazare to Gare du Nord was straightforward – except that the ticket machine didn’t like a couple of my Metro tickets. It’s clearly not my lucky day to be travelling around, with all of these ticket issues that I seem to be having.

Thalys PBKA 4345 gare du nord paris France Eric Hall photo January 2022There wasn’t long to wait at the Gare du Nord for my train to Brussels, and that’s one of the reasons why I came this way today

It’s a horrible station to hang around in, huge, cold, draughty and no shelter anywhere. When I saw the 2-hour wait for a train had I come to Paris on my normal train, I had blanched.

We were quickly ushered on board and once everyone was ready we hurtled off towards Brussels. Non-stop, direct, no messing around in Lille. That’s another good reason to come this way.

To my surprise we pulled into Brussels 2 minutes early. I wandered off to the Carrefour to buy lunch for a change. There’s usually some stuff there that I can eat, like some of their delicious buns.

Once I’d dealt with the question of food I was lucky enough to find a train almost immediately for Brussels Schuman.

Justus lipsius council of ministers of the european union rue de la loi brussels belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022When I arrived at the station I went up to street level and there was the building where I had spent 12 happy years of my life.

Well, not exactly because I was around and about in other buildings at various times, but that’s the Head Office. The very best ever thing that I did with my life was to fight my way into there. I often muse about how had I remained living in Crewe I’d probably still be driving a taxi or a bus.

Although I didn’t have an appointment at the bank, they saw me more-or-less straight away and sorted out my bank card issues. I should receive a new card in the post “within a week”.

Back at Brussels Schuman we had one of those conversations that you can only ever have in Belgium
Our Hero “do the trains still go from here to Leuven?”
Assistant at Information Desk “I don’t know”.

class am 86 multiple unit 931 gare de bruxelles schuman railway station belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022In the end a ticket collector pointed me in the right direction. Why I was having difficulty is that they don’t terminate at Leuven these days but continue on to Landen, so it’s “Landen” on the destination boards.

The train was one of the old AM86 multiple units and it came into ths station. These aren’t particularly comfortable and are rather lightweight compared to some of the SNCB multiple units but they have had plenty of use and they keep on going. Of the 52 that came into service between 1986 and 1991, there are still 51 of them running around, mainly in the centre of the country.

When the train pulled in at Leuven I went to the supermarket at the back to pick up some stuff and walked down here to my room. No upgrade again but I’m not all that bothered.

It’s freezing here in Belgium so I’m glad that I brought my winter woollies. I’m going to need them.

First thing that I did when I arrived in my room was to crash out, and that’s no surprise.

Later on I found the strength from somewhere to struggle down to the supermarket for the rest of the shopping and then back here to make tea.

Now that’s done, I’m off to bed regardless of the fact that its only 21:30. And with the alarm set for 08:30 I’m going to sleep until I wake up. I’m surprised that I’ve kept going as long as I have, with 137% of my daily exercise total done too.

But one thing is for sure, and that is that I’m going to stomp all my way home to Granville on Saturday. Every since back in my early teens when I discovered Radio Luxembourg, music has been my only constant and steadfast companion and immersing myself deeply into it has sometimes been the only thing that has kept me going.

One thing that I need to do is to have a rethink about the direction in which my life is going because things aren’t working out right now. Somehow I need to pay much more attention to the inner me and that almost inevitably involves music.

On THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR I was happy spending most of my time listening to COLOSSEUM LIVE and ON THE ROAD by Traffic and things only changed (for the better or for the worse, depending on how you look at things and I know how I look at them) when I stopped listening and went to do something else.

Perhaps I ought to listen to more music. I dunno.

Tuesday 11th January 2022 – I’M NOT SURE …

… how far I’ll reach with writing out these notes this evening. However, the fact is that I have an 04:00 start in the morning so it won’t be long before I go to bed.

It actually felt like a 04:00 start this morning because I had a very disturbed night yet again and that was quite depressing as well. I’d been on plenty of travels too, which explained a lot. I’d borrowed a friend’s Volkswagen convertible, an old Beetle convertible and I was driving around in it somewhere. At the same time I was having a chat on the internet so someone, while I was parked up, not while I was driving. Then I heard a voice bleed over like the used to do with CBs but there was another car that had driven up nearby. They said “well it’s so and so’s car, a BMW convertible”. It said a girl’s name – it might even have been Caroline. I thought that this was probably not the moment to be hanging around so I set off and drove away. I thought that perhaps maybe it’s going to be better if for the rest of the weekend I went out in a different vehicle because this was just a little unsettling, what was happening at the moment.

There was something else last night about a girl called Elodie who was in hospital and who had had a baby. I was driving down a road somewhere while all of this was going on and reading all of the announcements about this birth. But I can’t remember any more about this apart from the birth and me driving along this road in this town.

And then I’d been driving somewhere in Caliburn last night. There was a train from Crewe to Birmingham, another one from somewhere else to Birmingham and a third one. As I was going round a roundabout I hit a caravan that was being pulled by another vehicle. Caliburn was pretty badly damaged so I had to arrange for a breakdown etc to come along and clear away the mess. Someone asked me what had happened. I basically explained something so he took charge. By the time that everything had happened I couldn’t find the person with this caravan, I couldn’t find the person who had taken charge, I couldn’t find anything. I was standing there all on my own. I carried on to the airport and went off on holiday. When I came back I had a banana with me for some reason and went to the police station for something. I said “before I deal with whatever it was, I want to talk about an accident that took place a couple of days ago”. He asked “are you the guy who hit that gypsy’s caravan?”. I replied “yes, I think so, if that’s the incident”. he answered “you had some poor sucker to sign for everything and accept all the blame”. Of course, that was a surprise to me. He said “when everyone from this police station has gone we’ll have to go to Headquarters”. I replied “fair enough”. There were 2 people in the police station, 2 members of the public. When it reached 12:00 and closing time one of them went but the other one was having an enormous load of difficulty getting his things together and getting ready to go, whatever, giving a running commentary of what he was doing and what he couldn’t do, his bottle of water, his food etc. The policeman was becoming extremely impatient about getting him out of the building so that he could lock it up for lunch. I was thinking that this isn’t going to be doing very good for me because if everyone gets into a bad mood I’m going to have more problems than I’m in already.

Finally, we’d been on a cruise somewhere, a pile of us. It was the last night so we’d had a bit of a party. For some unknown reason I was in a bad mood and decided to go back to my cabin. A couple of other people came with me as well. It turned out in the end that there were probably about 40 people in my cabin. They were all smoking so I told them to put out their cigarettes, which they did but as soon as my back was turned they lit up again. By this time I was in a really foul mood so I stormed out. I went for a walk around the deck to calm down. A couple of people came out to ask what was going on. I explained that I was totally fed up with all of this. One of the girls started to talk to me. She started to tell me a few stories about 1 or 2 people whom she knew who were on board the ship. It came round to love and relationships. I told her that I’d only ever been in love twice, once when I was very young. I was on the point of mentioning the second occasion, wondering how to mention it in a manner that she’d understand because it was a difficult thing to explain but at that point I awoke, as you might expect.

With this last little voyage, I can equate with every second of that story. Every second. It sums up the mood in which I find myself right now, as it happens, and the stories about falling in love are pretty spot on too. One day, when I can summon up the courage, I’ll finish off the story of the second occasion too, but the world isn’t ready to hear it yet.

However it does remind me of the days of my youth when I saw a book in Crewe Public Library entitled “How to Hug”. I took it home with eager anticipation, only to find that I’d borrowed Volume 12 of the Encyclopedia Britannica.

To my surprise I fell out of bed quite promptly when the alarm went off and after the medication and checking the mails and messages I concentrated on revising my Welsh ready for my lesson. It wasn’t easy because I was totally exhausted after last night.

As it happened, I managed to stay awake throughout the lesson but it was touch and go on one or two occasions. But there weren’t all that many of us this week.

While I’d been going through the previous entries the other day I came across a day in late December that I had forgotten to update from a placeholder so I attacked that, and that’s now all done and dusted.

repairing medieval city walls place du marche aux chevaux Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022By now, it was time to go out as I had things to do.

First thing to do was to go and see how they were doing with the repair of the walls of the old medieval town in the Place du Marché aux Chevaux.

It’s not very easy to see how far they have advanced over the past week or so. But they haven’t replaced the shelter that they built to protect the workmen from objects that were dropped from the above and which was destroyed by the strong winds that we have had, so maybe they have finished doing that bit.

The way that my knee is right now, I had no intention of going down the steps to the bottom to have a better view.

repairing medieval city walls place du marche aux chevaux Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022Instead I wandered around to look at the top of the wall to see what they were doing there

They were making some kind of progress- mainly slow, it has to be said, but they’ve been up to an awful lot of raking out of loose pointing which they have piled up over there. Presumably this means that they will be infilling and replacing the pointing at some time in the near future.

There’s still a long way to go though before they finish, so it’s not going to be completed for some time yet.

And then they will have to wander off and tend to another bit of the crumbling wall.

electric rewiring rue cambernon Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022A short while ago, We had a look at what was going on with regard to the road surface in the Rue Cambernon.

They are still a long way away from finishing here too, but they have now installed some kind of electric control box with a rather large collection of sockets.

This is the kind of thing that they have near street markets so that all of the stalls can have some kind of power, so I’m extremely interested to find out what the intention of this box might be.

Are we going, at long last, to have some kind of street market in the old town? That would certainly be exciting. At the moment we have the pizza van but that’s about it these days.

In the town I had to call at one of the shops to pick up something, and then I headed off to the railway station. On the way up the hill I met my physiotherapist taking an elderly client for a walk so we exchanged a “hello”.

And why the railway station? Because I’d heard a story that my first train tomorrow, the 06:55 to Caen, has been cancelled.

And I was right too, so I went to try to change my train back to the usual one at 08:55 and suffer the lengthy wait at Paris. But that wasn’t easy either what with one thing or another. It was much easier to change my train to Caen from 06:55 to 06:04. The ticket clerk told me to simply turn up for the earlier train. There’s no need to change the ticket because the tickets for that trip have all been vacated anyway.

But I’m not looking forward at all to the 04:00 start. 05:00 sounded bad enough to me.

abandoned railway parc du val ès fleurs Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022It’s been quite a long time since I’ve been to see the work that’s been going on down at the abandoned railway so I decided to take a look down there this afternoon.

At this end of it nearest the road they don’t seem to have made a great deal of progress since we saw it last. They’ve been working on the concrete edging, but they have only completed it so far.

The electricity cables that they have laid still aren’t couple up to anything – still sitting there capped off in their conduits, and there’s no road surface that’s been laid. It’s going to be quite a while yet before I can come that way dragging my suitcase behind me.

piles of soil and bark chippings parc du val ès fleurs Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022Lower down at the bottom of the steps there have been a few changes.

There is still plenty of the concrete reinforcement matting left, which is bad news, and the piles of soil have grown. We also have what looks like a pile of wood chippings down there.

It seems to me that all of this will be for landscaping purposes when they are ready to finish off the work, whenever that might be. And I suspect that it isn’t going to be any time soon judging by the way that things at this end are progressing.

abandoned railway square des docteurs lanos Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022While we’re on the subject of landscaping … “well, one of us is” – ed … this is, I reckon, going to be one area where plenty of landscaping will be needed.

As I’ve said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … I don’t know the name of this square but seeing as it’s opposite the Ecole des Docteurs Lanos I’m wondering if it’s called the Place des Docteurs Lanos.

Anyway, it’s the place where they have been storing all of the building material and the machines that have come to pick it up have churned the place up into some kind of swamp. It’s going to take more than they have in landscaping to make this place look pretty.

rue du boscq Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022Meanwhile, looking in the opposite direction we can see what a mess they have made of the Rue du Boscq.

Nothing but a sea of concrete and it looks totally appalling. I really can’t imagine anything worse than this, particularly when the rest of the town (at least, the older parts) is laid out in nice cobbles of all various colours and styles, except of course for the mess of tarmac that they laid down in the port.

At least they have actually planted some of the trees about which they bragged on the noticeboard. Mind you, it’s going to take a good while for them to show anything worth seeing.

And then, of course, they have to landscape the rest. They surely can’t leave it looking like that.

On that depressing note, I cleared off through the town on my way home for my coffee. I’d earned it after my little stroll this afternoon. At least my knee held out – so far.

building material on quayside port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022The climb up the hill out of town to my little rock was quite easy and I didn’t have to stop at all for breath, which is some kind of progress, I suppose.

However, I did actually stop to take a photograph. I noticed on the way down that there was some activity going on in the loading bay so I made a mental note to have a look on the way back.

And as it happens, there seems to have been a delivery of building material and supplies, which presumably means that one of the Jersey freighters will be over here shortly to take it all away again. Presumably when I’ll be in Leuven later in the week, which will mean that I will miss it.

Having done plenty of things this afternoon, one of the things that I forgot to do was to go and check on the beach. Instead, I came back here and had a coffee instead and transcribed the dictaphone notes that you read earlier.

Tea tonight was a curry made of all of the bits and pieces that were lying around in the fridge. Actually, it was quite delicious. I seem to have acquired the knack of making a successful curry

For half an hour or so after tea I wrote up my notes from the day but I was nowhere near finished when a wave of tiredness overtook me. Usually I would have ridden it out but with an 04:00 start in the morning I said “sod it” and went to bed.

As for the rest of the notes that you have yet to see, I’ll finish them some other time.

Monday 10th January 2022 – NOT VERY MANY …

… photographs today. And you’ll find out why as you read on. It’s not been a very good day today. Not at all.

It started off quite well though. When the alarm went off at 06:00 this morning I was actually out of bed quite rapidly for a change. And after the medication and checking the mails and messages, I attacked the radio programme that I intended to do.

And despite a couple of breaks for coffee and for breakfast, It was all finished and up and running by 10:37. And it would have been finished even quicker had the final track that I had chosen been properly formatted.

In the end I had to re-record it and re-format it and that took a while. And had I thought on, I would have re-recorded the whole album because if one track is badly formatted, it follows that all of the others are too.

When I’d finished the programme and listened to it (and to the one that will be sent off later for broadcast this weekend) I went and had a shower and washed a load of clothes ready for my voyage to Leuven on Wednesday.

After lunch the nurse came round and gave me my injection of Aranesp following which I sorted out my papers ready for my walk up to the physiotherapist.

jade 3 loading with crane port de Granville harbour Manche harbour Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022On the way down the hill into town I noticed that there was something happening down at the inner harbour.

If I am correct, the trawler down there is Jade III and there is somethign going on for which she needs the services of one of the dockside cranes.

It can’t be the nets because they are usually loaded from the rear, with the boats stern-on to the quayside, as we have seen on many occasions down there in the past. But this crane is being used on the side of the boat.

This afternoon I was rather late setting out for my appointment so I couldn’t loiter around. I had to push on quite rapidly. But I made it there in time.

And this is where my problems began. In the middle of an exercise my knee gave out again, just as it did that time in Paris, and I fell to the floor quite heavily. I didn’t have the strength to pull myself up, but luckily I was by the wall-bars so I could grab hold of something to help me to my feet.

But at least my physiotherapist had a really good view of what happened. She’s no longer in any doubt about the issues that I’m having. But it’s not boding well for my trip to Leuven on Wednesday.

Luckily, one of my neighbours was there at the same time as me, and he too was a witness to my little incident. He was here in his car so he offered to drive me home which was very kind of him.

Back here I grabbed the NIKON D500 and headed outside for a wander around – and fell down the stairs as my knee gave way again. And so I didn’t go very far.

beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022Nevertheless I struggled on across the car park to see what was happening down on the beach.

It was rather later than usual, with having had to hang around somewhat for a lift, and so the tide was coming in quite rapidly. And there was no-one down there on the beach at all. The place was deserted.

The weather wasn’t actually all that bad. Although there was some rain in the air being blown around by the wind, it was quite warm for the time of year. In fact, this weather is unseasonably-warm. I don’t think that I’ve ever known a winter quite as mild as this one so far.

chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022There had been some kind of activity at the chantier naval that I’d noticed earlier so I went for a closer look with the 70-300mm LENS

Gerlean is still there of course, but over on the right the skyjack has put in an appearance from out of the shed where it usually lives. It doesn’t look as if there’s any reason for it to have been brought outside – they usually only need it when they are working on one of the large trawlers.

But even more interestingly, they have a couple of vans with people in attendance over at the portable boat lift. It’s not been back in commission for a month yet but it’s already been under repair once and it looks as if it’s under repair yet again.

ch640361 nais ch638749 pescadore port de Granville harbour  Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022Meanwhile, back in the inner harbour, most of the fishing boats that we had seen in there the other day now seem to have gone out to sea.

There’s Pescadore, the blue and black trawler that we saw in the chantier naval the other day, down there, and also one of the inshore shell-fishing boats too.

Luckily I could read her registration number from up here and now that I know where to access the index of French-registered fishing boats, I can tell you that she’s called Nais.

What with the leg giving me issues right now, I didn’t go any farther. I turned round and headed for home, with something of an undignified scramble up the stairs to my apartment.

Back here I made a coffee and came back in here to sit down, where I crashed out definitively. And to such an extent that I was seriously thinking of going back to bed at one point I felt so dreadful. And it’s been such a long time since I’ve felt even remotely like that. When I awoke, my coffee was stone-cold.

And once I recovered I had a listen to the dictaphone. I was staying last night in some weird hotel run by some Indians somewhere. He had only prepared part of my bill but I had to leave although I’d be back later. He hadn’t finished working out how much my evening meal was. I went out but when I returned he told me that Nina had been to see me. She’d turned up not long after I’d gone. There obviously wasn’t much that I could do about that. I waited for him to finish this bil for the meal. It was totally astronomical. He’d done things like because I was the only person there eating at that time he’d charged me the hourly rate of the 3 servers and the cook, that kind of thing. I had to pay their wages for an hour or so. Instead of paying something like £7 or £8 it was £70 or £80. I thought that it was absolutely astonishing. But whatever it was, he was busy explaining why he’d added this in, why he’d added that in and he never reached to point of telling me how much it was. No matter how much I asked him about this bill he still wouldn’t tell me how much it was. It was dragging on and on and on. I wanted him to get to the total but he was too busy with all of these explanations to tell me anything about how much I was going to have to pay at the end.

Tea tonight was taco rolls and rice with veg using the stuffing left over from Saturday. Tomorrow night’s tea will of course be a curry made of everything loitering in the fridge that needs to be eaten before I go off to Leuven.

That is, of course, if I go. With Covid being out of control it depends if there will be a train. And even if there is a train, it depends if I’m in any kind of state to travel there.

This is not going to be a good week for me to travel.

Sunday 9th January 2022 – MY CUNNING PLAN …

… for ENDLESS SUNDAYS at lest started as it ought to have done, with me not showing a leg until 10:50 this morning.

As it happens, I’d actually been awake at 07:20 but if anyone thinks that I’m going to be raising myself from the dead at a silly hour like that on a Sunday is mistaken.

Plenty of time therefore for me to go off on a few nocturnal rambles here and there. I was with a young girl last night but she was no-one whom we knew. She was small and had wavy blonde hair. I was trying to go from somewhere to somewhere else but there were no buses or trains so I had to walk. The first leg of my journey was something like 30km so I was busy counting the paces as I walked to make sure that I was on the right speed. I’d already done 12km by the time that mid-morning came round. As I was going down West Street I’d acquired this girl by then. She knew that her name was Anemone or Aphrodite and was a Greek goddess. I was being pursued by my mother and one of my sisters. We shook them off by going round one side of a pillar box while they went round the other but we cut round and across and down into Underwood Lane. They followed us from there. They were talking about the Girls’ Grammar School which was down there (which, of course, it isn’t) and my idea of taking this girl to the Grammar School was totally wrong because there was some kind of copyright or something like that on the Grammar School and I couldn’t use it for my purposes. Something complicated like this. I took no notice and carried on walking down the road with this girl. It was pitch-black and you couldn’t see a thing. Trying to negotiate the bends in this road and the road junctions when you can’t see anything and you have these 2 people behind harping on, it was extremely difficult. And I wish that my family would stop following me around when I’m in the company of a nice young girl.

Later on there was something like a natural disaster, like a flood and I had to go to rescue someone. There was a big Bedford-type horsebox involved in this as well. When I arrived, I couldn’t see the girl whom I’d been sent to rescue. There was another one but this was disappointing because I remembered the 1st girl from some other time. Later, the same thing happened again. Another natural disaster like a flood and I had to go to rescue someone, with a different horse box this time. This time it was the girl whom I recognised, the blonde with her hair in a pony tail, and whom I should have picked up last time. I managed to arrive there in time to rescue her this time. I don’t know who she is in “real life” but in my dream I knew who she was but I just couldn’t think who.

And later still I’d moved house again. I was living somewhere else and I’d taken all of my solar panels and wind turbines with me. We’d slowly been reinstalling everything back in. There were loads of people helping me. Someone who might have been my father was in charge of everything but I don’t know who he was. One night I’d gone to bed and next morning I awoke but everyone was already there working so I went out to the yard to the outhouse to fetch some milk. I was checking the batteries, everything. Considering that it was bright sunlight and a really nice day there was only 12.3 volts in the batteries. I thought that that was really strange. There ought to be much more in there than that. So I fetched my milk and the guy in charge shouted something like “are you going back inside? They need you to open the hatch to the loft in there”. I replied “yes. I’ve only just come out for a minute. I’ll be back in in a sec”. Someone else said to this guy that they had a new door to install in there to go out”. Someone else asked “did they get one in the end? They were talking about it yesterday”. He replied “yes. You should see it! They really do fancy themselves, this lot!”.

So having had a few days (and nights) of some really interesting and welcome characters in my rambles, I’m now back to being pursued around by members of my family. That’s a shame, isn’t it? They just won’t leave me alone.

After the medication I came here and transcribed all of the dictaphone notes that you have just read, and by then it was time for brunch. Porridge with toast and buckets-full of coffee.

This afternoon I updated all of the journal entries that needed the dreams adding back – all the way to December 15th. And unfortunately there was nothing really startling about anything that had happened during the night for that couple of weeks.

But I did notice that the images hadn’t been added in for several days so that’s something that I need to do next. All of that relentless series of trips to the hospital over that couple of days in December disrupted my routine, I’m afraid to say.

beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022The weather had shown an improvement since yesterday, which was no surprise as it couldn’t surely have been any worse.

There was some light rain falling but that didn’t bother me too much. It seemed to bother everyone else though because there was no-one around on the beach. It was pretty much deserted down there.

And there was nothing of any nature at all happening out to sea either. No boat of any description sailing around in the bay. It’s not as if it’s really winter though. Temperatures are more like late March than early January.

people path pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022And so with nothing else to detain me, I set off down the path to the end of the headland.

There weren’t very people around on the path either. I encountered no more than half a dozen as I walked down to the lighthouse at the end.

And of those half-a-dozen people, not one of them wearing a mask. There’s an Arrêt Prefectorial about wearing masks in open spaces here in the Manche.

Even if there wasn’t, I would have thought that 303,669 cases of infection yesterday would have given most people a clue as to the gravity of the situation. We aren’t ever going to be rid of the virus if people don’t start to take it seriously.

french flag seafarers memorial pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022Mind you, on the subject of taking things seriously, we ought to have a look at (what’s left of) the flag that’s flying over the Memorial to the Missing Seamen.

Yesterday I posted a photo of the flag showing that the red stripe was becoming detached from the rest of the flag after the wind that we had had yesterday afternoon.

And so after the wind that we had had yesterday evening, the flag has now been finished off. We apparently now have Liberty and Fraternity, but Equality has now completely Gone With The Wind.

It’ll probably turn up somewhere on the beach out near Jullouville, just like that foot did a few weeks ago.

And while we’re on the subject of feet on beaches … “well, one of us is” – ed … there’s a bay on the border of British Columbia and Washington State where SHOES WITH FEET INSIDE are washed ashore on a regular basis.

So let that be a lesson to you. Always stick a small piece of soap down the bottom of your shoes when you go into the water so that if your feet become detached from your body, they can be washed ashore.

I’ll get my coat.

people cabanon vauban pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022Just for a change there were some people down there at the bench at the end of the headland by the cabanon vauban this afternoon. We haven’t seen anyone down there for a good few days.

Whatever it is that they went to see, it beats me because there was nothing at all going on out in the bay this afternoon. And with the mist, the Brittany coast out there on the other side of the bay wasn’t visible either.

The sea had calmed down somewhat as well from yesterday so they weren’t even having the spectacle of the rough sea crashing down on the rocks.

But as long as they were happy, that’s all that counts, although I wish that they would wear their masks. I left them to it and headed off down the path towards the port and home.

joly france chausiaise ferry terminal gerlean chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022No change in the inhabitants of the port this afternoon either.

Over at the ferry terminal we have Chaisiaise and the older of the two Joly France boats, the one without a step in the stern. And in the chantier naval we have Gerlean still there. She’s not moved for about a week now.

There was nothing else that piqued my interest so I headed back for home and my nice hot coffee. It’s not been that cold out here, as I mentioned earlier, but it was damp and a mug of hot coffee is always welcome.

After I’d had lunch I’d taken some pizza dough (the last batch as it happens) out of the freezer and left it to defrost during the afternoon.

vegan pizza place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022After I’d had my coffee I kneaded it again, rolled it out and put it on the pizza tray to proof for a while. When it was ready, I assembled it and it went into the oven to bake.

It wasn’t as good as the last two or three. The base underneath the topping was rather soggy still and it can’t go any lower in the oven. It’s already on the lowest rung that there is.

But nevertheless it still tasted totally delicious. I have the knack now, I reckon, of making a good pizza. All I need now is a good oven but that’s going to have to wait for a while, I reckon. I’m still not sure how I’m going to fit an oven in the kitchen.

So now I’m off to bed. I have an early start in the morning in order to prepare a radio programme. The one that will be broadcast this next weekend will be programme 112 but I’ll be working on programme 143. I’m about 6 months ahead, and on purpose too, for obvious reasons, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall.

The show must go on, hey, whether I am suffering from ill-health or even pushing up the daisies.