Category Archives: hotel de france

Monday 6th December 2021 – THE PECHE À PIED

jullouville baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021… has taken on a whole new significance today, judging by the news that’s currently doing the rounds.

A couple of people who were over there at Jullouville looking among the rocks for crabs came across an old boot instead. And in it were the remains of a human foot.

There are of course all kinds of wrecks out there in the Baie de Mont St Michel – fishing boats, aircraft, pleasure craft and so on – and many people have been lost there, especially during the fighting in June and July 1944.

What has quite possibly happened is that Storm Arwen has disturbed an old wreck that still has human remains on board and the boot has floated free.

But it seems that from now on, when one is mentioning the peche à pied one will have to specify to which pied one is actually referring.

This morning at 06:00 when the alarm went off I had a struggle to take to my feet. But once the medication had been taken and the mails and messages checked, I cracked on with the two radio programmes that I needed to prepare, with the aid of a mug of strong coffee.

It took me much longer than I reckoned too, knocking off as finished at 13:15, but that was having had quite a chat on the internet with Liz who was on line.

What else didn’t help was that I couldn’t find a suitable ending-track for my Christmas programme. In the end I had to find one that would do, stretch out the speech that went with it and lengthen a few pauses and in the end it fitted quite nicely.

As for the other radio programme on which I was working went together quite happily

After lunch I had a quick clean-up and then headed off to the physiotherapist.

fish processing plant port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021Outside it was grey and miserable and threatening rain.

On the corner of the Boulevard des 2E et 202E de Ligne and the Boulevard des Terreneuviers I could look down on the fish processing plant. There weren’t any boats down there of course – the tide is well-out right now – but there is a refrigerated lorry and several freezer vans parked down there.

There must be plenty of fishing boats out at sea right now and they will be due back on the early evening tide, when the vehicles down there will take away the catch.

Yesterday while we were out on our travels we noticed that there were no longer any boats moored up at the ferry terminal in the tidal harbour.

joly france belle france chausiaise victor hugo port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021They have all now come into the inner harbour so that would seem to indicate that they have no plans to go to sea in the immediate future.

The three that are moored together in the foreground are the brand-new Belle France nearest the quayside, with the newer of the two Joly France ferries, the one with the smaller upper-deck superstructure next to her. On the outside is the little freighter Chausiaise.

Over at the back on the right are the two Channel island ferries – Victor Hugo on the outside and Granville on the inside moored against the quayside.

repointing wall Rampe du Monte à Regret Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021Further on down the road I had a look at what was going on with the pointing at the Rampe du Monte à Regret.

They seem to be making good progress with it, but my attention was drawn to the two guys on the scaffold – the one in the red jacket and the other in the fluorescent jacket.

Judging by the way that they are standing around doing very little and pretending to inspect the work, they look very much like site managers to me.

With the steps being closed off I had to walk down the Rue des Juifs and go through the town that way to my appointment

Today she had me do five minutes on the cross trainer and the rest of the time was spent doing kinetic exercises. And I’m dismayed at how much I seem to have been affected by whatever it is that is going on with my body right now.

Much of my co-ordination and balance has gone completely and I don’t have the power in my knees to stand up from a sitting position without using my hands.

Anyway, after half an hour she threw me out and judging by the state of the pavement I’d just missed a torrential downpour..

a href=”https://www.erichall.eu/images/2112/21120044.html”>christmas decorations rue couraye Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021On the way up to the physiotherapist I’d noticed that the decorations in the Rue Couraye have … errr … evolved.

We now have candy-striped pillars placed over all of the bollards on the edge of the kerb. They have signs on them indicating the nature of the shops alongside.

Dark though it was right now, the Christmas lights weren’t yet illuminated. I can see that i’m going to have to come down later in the evening one night and see how they look, in the hope that they are better than they have been in previous years.

For some reason, I don’t seem to have the same enthusiasm that I had in previous years.

sunset baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021Halfway up the Rue des Juifs I stopped at the viewpoint overlooking the harbour.

Not because I was out of breath and not because of anything that was going on in the port either but there was another beautiful sunset out there in the Baie de Granville. This was far too good to miss. It really was quite impressive.

Before I set out earlier I put a can of energy drink into my bag with the idea that if I needed it I could drink it on the way home but I totally forgot about it. I might not be feeling enthusiastic but at least I’m feeling a little more fit than I was three months ago.

beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021Before going back into my building I went over to have a look down onto the beach.

There’s plenty of beach down there just now, but there wasn’t anyone down there on it. That’s not really a surprise because it was quite windy, going dark and threatening rain.

Back in the apartment I had a nice hot coffee and then transcribed the dictaphone notes from last night. I’d had quite a busy night by the looks of things. and there was plenty to transcribe.

There were quite a few entries from the last few days too but you’ll have to wait for tomorrow to read those.

Anyway, last night I was at the cinema. I’d gone to see some rock concert or other that was taking place there. I mentioned to someone that I was going and he said that his younger sister was going as well. I turned up at this cinema and took a seat. When I looked round, there was a young girl there waving at me. I said “hello”. I thought to myself “is this that girl?” because when I looked around again there was another girl waving at me who looked pretty much identical. I couldn’t work out who was who and I couldn’t remember her name. As usual I was tying myself up in a knot about “should I go and sit next to her and so on? What if it was the wrong girl?”. The usual kind of confused state that I find myself in at times. Then the lights went out and we had the immediate “get your hand off my leg” comment that used to go around the cinemas in Crewe in those days when the lights went off, which always of course caused a lot of laughter. When I looked around though, both the girls had disappeared off somewhere. Here was yet another situation that I’d let slip through my fingers because I was being far too indecisive. The story of my life, isn’t it?

And I wish that I knew who the girl was too. Although seeing as I let her slip through my fingers like that, maybe it’s better that I don’t know, to avoid any disappointment.

Later on I was going out that night and I needed a new jacket to wear to make myself look smart (it’ll take more than a jacket to do that of course) so I went off to a shop that I normally use. I’d had a look round on the upper floors at a few different kinds of things but no jackets. I’d taken off my jacket and hung it on a peg while I was doing that. I then went downstairs to look at the men’s clothing. There were lots of other interesting things down there as well. When I arrived downstairs there was only the men’s clothing section open. The rest was all closed off as if they were remodelling the shop. They were busy hanging clothes onto hooks from behind the blanking-off thing that they were doing. There was a TV there with a load of men there watching the TV. I thought that they had probably been dumped by their wives who had then gone off to do the shopping somewhere else. Before I could look for a jacket I awoke.

Later still Nerina and I had had an argument in Germany somewhere on holiday and she had stormed off. I was walking the streets – it was 00:30 – wondering whether I should go back to the hotel room. As I was walking down the street a car pulled up. A man got out with a little girl about 7 or 8. She walked past me and said “here’s your computer mouse. I got on my bed and it fell off so I put it on the floor and here it is”. I took my computer mouse and was still wondering what to do. Somewhere somehow it turned out that Nerina had gone and my car had gone as well. I was stranded in Germany. I ended up with something like a Bella estate that I had managed to find. I was with that car and with Linda from Portugal (and here’s someone from a very distant past making her debut in my nocturnal rambles) but I’m not sure at all about where this bit with the Bella estate fitted in. I was in Stoke on Trent by this time

Finally I was having to negotiate my passage through the country that had formerly ruled the place where I live. I suspected that it wasn’t going to be easy. We set off and reached the border. I’d built some kind of big snowball or snowman and behind it were hiding several other men. I was discussing with them the plan that we’d go as far as the border and maybe go across. There would be a lot of bloodshed. They asked “what after that?”. I replied “I don’t know after that”.

The early start and the exercise at the physiotherapist’s had worn me out today and what with my early start on Sunday, I ended up drifting away for 20 minutes or so. That was rather a disappointment because I’ve been trying to avoid that for the last couple of months.

Tea was taco rolls with the left-over stuffing from Saturday evening lengthened with a small tin of kidney beans. And it’s even more delicious after marinading for a couple of days.

But now I’m off to bed. It’s early but I’m exhausted and I have my Welsh lesson tomorrow. There can’t be many left now before we break for Christmas. With my cookery lesson on Friday I have plenty of notes to review tomorrow so I need to be at my best.

Wednesday 1st December 2021 – ONCE AGAIN I HAVEN’T …

… done anything like as much today as I had wanted to.

There have been a variety of reasons for this – not the least being that I had yet another dreadful night, wide-awake at 05:20 and lying there waiting for the alarm to ring at 07:30. I tell you – I’m thoroughly sick of all of this.

As you might expect, it took a good few minutes for me to summon up the energy to leave my bed this morning and then I was pretty much wasted for the rest of the day.

After the medication I had a shower to clean myself up and bang on time Laurent came round for me. We went off to meet Thierry and then the three of us went off to meet Father Christmas and his blasted elves.

As I thought, the interview turned out to fall rather flat. I could understand the logic (whether I agreed with it or not) of submitting the questions in advance, I totally disagreed with the idea of “suggested replies”.

Children have a really fertile imagination and they need to be encouraged to develop it. And sometimes they can come up with some fascinating responses. But having them blindly reading off a script is a pretty dismal activity and it destroys the spontaneity of it all.

Having them all sitting around a table was another bad idea too because it’s always the more powerful ones who are heard. I would have interviewed them one by one where the kids could have responded without any peer pressure and chosen the pick of the answers.

In other words, this affair was micro-managed to an overwhelming degree and Laurent and I were quite disappointed about how it turned out. What had given us the idea for this was that two years ago wandering around the streets one night we had come across Father Christmas and subjected him to an off-the cuff interview. That was a resounding success.

While I was there I took a few photos of Father Christmas and his elves but I can’t publish them of course.

Back here Laurent came in for a coffee and we had a good chat about a few things, and made a few plans for the future.

After he left I went outside to wipe the rust-proofing liquid off the wheels and dry them, but painting them was out of the question. There was a howling gale again and it was sleeting.

Lunch was late again and afterwards I had the morning’s photos to edit and send off. They’ll choose one to illustrate our programme when it’s ready to broadcast.

trawler thora arriving at port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021Once I’d finished that it was time for me to go off for my physiotherapy session.

The wind was if anything rather worse than it had been earlier and it was rather difficult to walk.

And I wasn’t the only one having difficulty moving around either. There was a trawler out at sea battling with the storm to come into port and behind her, Thora was being thrown about by the elements.

When I took this photo she was actually being blown sideways by the wind and was coming into port rather like a crab.

pointing wall Rampe du Monte à Regret Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021Down at the wall at the Rampe du Monte à Regret the pointing of the wall was proceeding apace.

Mind you, I’m not sure what was happening there earlier. On our way back from Father Christmas there was an ambulance and a police car parked up at the side.

The personnel of the vehicles seemed to be quite interested in what was going on down below but as I wasn’t driving and as we had other things to do, I couldn’t go over and have a look.

If it’s anything interesting or important, it’ll be in the local paper in the morning.

Halfway up the hill towards the physiotherapist’s, I had to stop. Not because I was out of breath but because we suddenly had another torrential downpour. I had to nip into a doorway and put on my rain jacket.

It reminded me of how Superman and all of these other superheroes used to dash into telephone boxes and emerge seconds later with their underpants on outside their trousers. Where do they go to change now with the rise of mobile ‘phones and the demise of telephone boxes?

And then of course, there was my brother. He was often seen with his underpants on outside his trousers, but that was less to do with any superhero status and more to do with the fact that he didn’t have both paddles in the water.

No tilting platform today. There was the usual 5 minutes on the cross trainer and then a load of kinetic exercises that somehow took their toll of me.

She had me once more walking along this narrow beam and throwing a ball about. She was impressed with my reflexes co-ordination but as I have said before, my previous life as a goalkeeper and wicket-keeper had a lot to do with that.

father christmas decorations Place Général de Gaulle Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021On the way home I came via the Place General de Gaulle.

On the way up to the physiotherapist’s I’d seen a few council workmen on up on ladders working on the trees and I was interested to see what they had been doing with them.

By the time that I returned, the workmen had gone but I noticed that some of the trees were now festooned with decorations. And if you ask me my opinion, it’s all a load of balls.

christmas decorations rue paul poirier Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that a couple of years ago Strawberry Moose reckoned that the Christmas decorations in the Rue Paul Poirier WERE ALL BALLS too.

THis year though, there’s been a change, and not before time either. This year we have the street lined with artificial “Christmas Trees”.

Now what was I saying a few days ago about them recycling the same old decorations year after year and wishing that they would make a change?

Clearly, a great many people are very interested in the contents of my pages and pay them a great deal of attention.

La Bavolette Ii thora marité belle france joly france port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021A short while ago we saw Thora having a bit of a struggle to make it into port.

Well she finally arrived, as you can see in this photo, moored up at the loading bay in front of Marité, with Belle France and the newer Joly France ferry – the one with the smaller upper-deck superstructure, moored alongside her.

The little trawler in the background is an interesting boat. She’s called La Bavolette II – at least, for the moment. And I mean that too because in the past she’s been known by several different names.

She was built in 1982 out of wood and displaces 40 tonnes

philcathane l'ecume II port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021This trawler is much more interesting though.

Not Philcathane, of course – not that she isn’t interesting in herself but she hasn’t had the adventures that the other one in the photo has had.

You can tell by her registration number – beginning with “J” – that she’s a Boat from Jersey and how long is it since we’ve seen a boat from the Channel Islands here in port with all of the shenanigans that are going on right now?

There’s a great deal of talk about illegal fishing right now and this trawler – she’s called L’Ecume II by the way, can tell you an awful lot about that because on two occasions about which I know, her crew has been in the dock and emerged with their pockets far lighter than they were when they went in.

And not only that, 18 months ago she found herself stuck on a sandbank because her helmsman had fallen asleep at the wheel.

In other words, she’s quite a well-known boat, for one reason or another.

storm baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021However I wasn’t going to hang around and admire her for too long.

As you can see, out in the Baie de Mont St Michel there was quite a storm brewing up and the gale-force wind was blowing it my way.

As a result, I wasn’t going to hang around. I was going to head for home and a hot mug of coffee, and make plans about what I was going to do for the rest of the week. I actually have a day at home without any interruptions at all – but just you watch all that change.

beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021Before I went in I went to have a look at the beach

And that was rather a waste of time because there wasn’t any beach to look at today. The tide was right in now and the water was at the foot of the cliffs. All I had for my pains was a good battering by the wind.

Back here I had my coffee and sat down to try to do some work.

Checking my messages there was a mail from my Welsh course telling me what ingredients I need for the Christmas Cake I’ll be baking on-line on Friday evening. Treacle isn’t available here so I ended up asking Liz for advice on a replacement and chatting to her for quite a while.

For some reason, tea was quite an effort tonight. I’m experiencing brain-fade – not quite as bad as the nonsense I was churning up last night – but I couldn’t think of what to have for tea. I’d really run aground.

In the end I settled for a burger and pasta. That was the best that I could do.

Right now, although I haven’t crashed out today, I’m thoroughly exhausted so I’m off to bed where I hope that I’ll sleep until I awaken.

But not much hope of that, I’m afraid. All of this is really depressing me.

Saturday 30th October 2021 – THIS EVENING …

reload Argouges Bar Alimentation Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021… in some tiny village lost in the depths of the bocage in rural south Normandy I have seen the best live concert that I have witnessed for a very, very long period of time.

Tha ambience, the lighting and the audience (with 2 exceptions) were total rubbish, with elderly village drunks making an exhibition of themselves falling over the equipment in mid-performance. How the group kept going under these circumstances is anyone’s guess and a credit to their professionalism.

And having listened for two hours to the bass player, how I’m bitterly regretting not keeping up my bass playing over all these years. That was what I found the most difficult part to stomach of all of this.

Meanwhile, back at the ra … errr … apartment, last night would have been the best sleep for a good while had it not been for the pain in my upper right arm from my injection earlier in the evening. I’m quite mobile in bed and I lost count of the number of times I rolled over onto my right side and felt a bolt of pain go right through to my shoulder.

Anyway, eventually I awoke as the alarm went off and staggered into the kitchen for the medication.

Last night I was in my old Reliant running up and down the motorway to places, I don’t know why, somewhere in the Midlands. I got to somewhere and had bought some equipment, tools and the like, an emery block, a file and a few other things, then I couldn’t think why I needed them. I went to throw half of them away. But then I was thinking “maybe I might so I better hadn’t”. I got into the van and drove off down the slip road onto the motorway. I could keep up with traffic fairly easily which was a surprise. I had to come off at a Motorway Service Station to use the bathroom. Then I began to think about throwing away more of this stuff. Then maybe I thought that perhaps I oughtn’t then I went to get back in the van ready to leave.

I did actually have an old Reliant van when I was a teenager – a Regal MkV called Spiny Norman because it looked like a giant hedghog. A 750cc cast-iron side-valve engine and because the weight had to be less than 5cwt there was nothing else of any substance in the construction of the vehicle.

For a bit of fun I junked the cast-iron engine and fitted a 600cc all-alloy overhead-valve engine that weighed nothing at all. Consequently it went like stink. We could wheelie it at the drop of a hat but it just ripped half-shafts to shreds and eventually the supply ran out.

It’s shopping day today so I headed off with Caliburn to see what was on offer.

Noz had some more of those frozen burgers in breadcrumbs so I bought another packet, but LeClerc was once again singularly unexciting, apart from the grapes at €1:89 per kilo so I took full advantage.

Back at home I made some toast and coffee and then sat down to deal with the journal entry from yesterday. But that took longer than I was expecting and it was nowhere near finished by lunchtime

By the time that I was due to go for my afternoon walk rather later than usual) I had finished so I could go out with a clear conscience – and that’s something that doesn’t happen too often either.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021As usual I wandered off to have a look over the wall down onto the beach to see what was happening down there.

Plenty of people down there this afternoon, although well-wrapped up against the cold, not that it was all that cold this afternoon.

No-one in the water that I could see, which was heardly a surprise though. Only one more day left in October and while I was once seen swimming in the sea in November, that was in the South of France and nowhere near here.

yacht baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021There night have been nothing actually in the water, but there was certainly something on it.

And only one thing too which was a surprise with it being such a sunny day. There was a yacht sailing by, leaning hard over against the wind, with someone hanging over the side as ballast to keep the boat in the water.

And when I say that there was nothing actually in the water, I bet that his head had been in it a few times and if he doesn’t hang on tightly, the rest of him will Be in there with it.

crowds on footpath pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021As you might expect, the crowds were out there in force this afternoon.

The pathway along the north side of the headland, the route that I take on my outward journey, was heaving with people doing the circuit around the headland and there was hardly room to swing a cat in certain places.

It was even more crowded behind where I was standling, with kids scrambling all over the ruined bunkers and damaged artillery, making the most of the afternoon.

ile de chausey baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021While I was up here, I went to my viewpoint on top of one of the bunkers and took a photo of the Ile de Chausey.

As you can see, despite the haze coming off the water, the view was pretty good this afternoon and once more we could see quite clearly the white houses at the foot of the lighthouse and along the shore.

There was something white in the sea to the right of the lighthouse and I was puzzled by its shape. It looks to be almost perfectly square and I couldn’t think of anything that would have that form or shape. Enlarging and enhancing the image didn’t help very much either.

50sa light aeroplane pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021And at this point on my walk, I was overflown once more.

The culprit this afternoon was 50SA, the light aircraft that we have seen flying by overhead on several occasions in the past.

As I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … I can’t tell you anything about this aeroplane. Its registration number is out of the series to which I have access and I wouldn’t have any idea where to look in order to find this registration.

One of these days I’ll have to pop round to the airfield and enquire.

people on bench by cabanon vauban pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021From the top of the bunker I walked down the path and across the car park to the end of the headland to see what was happening there.

There were two people sitting on the bench by the cabanon vauban and their attention seems to have been caught by someone or something that is out of my view.

As for what was going on out at sea, the answer was simply “nothing”. There wasn’t even one single boat out there that I could see this afternoon. And that’s not really a surprise by looking at the waves. That doesn’t look like the right kind of sea to be out in a small boat.

fishermen on rocks pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021There wasn’t anything going on out at sea right enough, but there were things going on at the water’s edge.

On the rocks down below were two fishermen, one of whom had his tackle out and in the water, whereas the other one seemed to be more interested in having a chat. He’s not going to be catching many fish like that.

Anyway, I left them to it and carried on along the path on top of the cliffs towards the viewpoint overlooking the port to see what was happening down there.

joly france ferry terminal port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021At the chantier naval there wasn’t any change in situation. The portable boat lift is still parked in the centre of the yard and doesn’t seem to have moved an inch since we saw it there a couple of days ago.

With nothing new to see there, I looked across the harbour to the ferry terminal. In there this afternoon is one of the Joly France boats, and judging by its smaller upper superstructure and windows in “portrait” format, it’s the newer one of the two.

There are a few people up on the sea wall taking quite an interest in the boat although I don’t know why because she won’t be going anywhere just now.

In the background in the port de plaisance you’ll notice an orange superstructure. That’s the local lifeboat, Notre Dame de Cap Lihou.

What I don’t understand is that boats can only enter and leave the port de plaisance during certain times so I don’t understand why they would keep the lifeboat there. She wouldn’t be much use in a catastrophe if she weren’t able to leave port..

people staring at something in port de granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021Further along the path I noticed some people taking a great interest in something that seemed to be going on in the water down there.

From up here I couldn’t see anything at all that would cause such excitement, but they all seem to be quite riveted by it.

Back here in the apartment I made myself a coffee and then had a quick snack of something or other because I had a feeling that I wasn’t going to be having anything to eat tonight. I took a packet of biscuits with me too, and that turned out to be a shrewd move as well.

Laurent came to pick me up and we had a drive of about 45 minutes down to Argouges, where we found the bar without too much trouble.

There was catering on site but although the main dish seemed to be pumpkin soup, I wasn’t sure about what was in it and with nothing else, not even any chips, so I was glad that I had my biscuits to nibble.

As I mentioned earlier, the group was absolutely excellent but the ambience, tha audience and lighting were awful. I was really disappointed by that.

If anyone is ever going to learn a lesson from anything like this, it’s “bring your own stage to stand on in venues like this where drunks won’t fall over your equipment”.

The journey home was fine except that with the new bypass being opened at Avranches we missed our turning and went the long way round.

It took me a while to make myself ready for bed – it’s usually the case when I’ve been psyched up like this. But it was a good night and I really enjoyed it. I’ll be going to see these again.

You needn’t worry by the way about not hearing the group – you’ll all have the opportunity in a few months’ time.

Thursday 28th October 2021 – NOW HERE’S A THING

man catching fish beach place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021While I was out on my afternoon walk today I saw this guy bending down at the water’s edge with something in his had.

At first I thought that it was a carrier bag of some description but then I asked myself “is that a fish?”. Ohh no, it can’t possibly be a fist at all.

But when I examined the photograph more closely and enlarged and enhanced it somewhat, I could see that right in front of where he’s standing is a fishing net stretching out into the water.

And so the conclusion is that at long last we have actually seen a fisherman catch something out there and I bet that he’ll enjoy that with his cheap for his tea tonight.

Mind you, catching something with a net is one thing – catching it with a rod and line is something else completely and I’m not going to be really satisfied until I see a fisherman pull a fish out using his tackle and equipment.

Another thing about which I’m not satisfied is my sleeping just now. Last night was slightly better than the previous night or two but still not what I would call satisfactory. In fact, far from it.

And one thing that I never understand at all is that I’m lying in bed tossing and turning and not sleeping all the way up to 5 minutes before the alarm goes off – and then I’m out like a light for all of 5 minutes until I’m awoken.

That’s exactly how it was yet again today and once more, i wouldn’t actually call anything like “athletic” the way that I left my stinking pit.

There was still time enough to go off on my travels during the night I was with girl whom I’d met in Brussels for some part of the night. We were gradually working on our friendship and relationship. I was hoping that this time I might be able to make some kind of couple with her but it didn’t quite work out. And it didn’t work out in real life either, much to my dismay. I always seemed to find myself tangled up with these extremely religious people with high principles

Later on there was a game going on, something like “Just A Minute” where they were talking about repairing coaches. The girl sitting next to me used the term “panel beater” to which everyone objected. I told her that you could go into almost any garage in the country and find someone who would be described as a panel beater, painter and sprayer. She used this as the basis for her argument. In the end the presenter put it to the audience but before they could cheer or booh I awoke.

Later on, I’d gone round to see my friend near Munich. I’d bought myself a coffee from a van on the side of the road and gone to see him. We started to chat. I invited to buy him coffee so he ordered two coffees from this van. Then he disappeared. When he came back out of his house I asked him “have you drunk your coffee?”. He replied “yes, but yours is still over there on the van”. I had to go back to the van and pick mine up. There was something to do with a PA system that I’d seen for sale and I was wondering whether to buy it. he was going on about how nice a stack it was. Even though they were different components it all looked quite nice as a stack.

After breakfast I made a start on updating some of the journal entries from earlier in the month. That meant that the first task was the dictaphone. To my surprise several entries were missing. I’d copied them onto the portable laptop while I was away and instead of filing them to store afterwards, I must have deleted them.

There’s always some complication, isn’t there?

So firing up the laptop I found the files and I was in business. While I was at it, I also found another file or two that for some reason or other hadn’t been copied over when I returned home.

So now the first few days are updated, but this is going to be a long job. For example, only 29 other dictaphone files to deal with.

That took me up to lunch and then afterwards I had some post to be doing. I’ve received a few mails about my radio project and they needed answering pretty quickly. It looks as if I’ve been roped in for another event as well.

But turning my attention to more mundane matters, I really do wonder how I’ve managed to get to where I am today with some of the things that I’ve been doing.

Yesterday, the battery in the NIKON D3000 was flat yesterday, as I found out when I went to take a photo. Anyway, that went on charge when I returned home.

Today, just before I went out, I checked the battery in the NIKON D500 to be on the safe side. That was almost flat too and I wished that I’d checked it earlier so it would have had time to charge up.

And then I realised that a few months ago I’d bought two spare batteries for it. Only cheap low-capacity batteries but why they were important was that they came with a free charger that works off a USB port. I’m collecting USB items, like for example the AA/AAA battery charger that I found because they are lighter, easier to carry and just need the one cable.

So with one of the batteries now in the camera, I had another brainwave.

In the drawer is the old NIKON D5000 camera that worked for years until I dropped it, cracked the case and water ingressed and ruined the PCB.

That takes the same battery is the Nikon D3000 and the battery is still in it so I extracted that and put it on charge. We’ll see if it holds a charge and if so we’ll add it to the pile.

people on beach swimmer rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021So somewhat later than intended I went out for my afternoon walk.

And this afternoon the beach was comparatively crowded. It was a really warm, sunny day for the end of October and with it being the school holidays, everyone had gone down to make the most of it.

So much so that on the extreme left-hand edge of the photo you’ll actually see someone swimming in the sea. I don’t envy him one little bit. If the water isn’t at 37°C I’m not going in it.

The path was crowded with people this afternoon as you might expect so I had to fight my way through the crowds towards the lighthouse.

waves on sea wall baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021As I came out of the shelter of the College Malraux I was hit by the wind coming from a very unusual quarter – the south-west.

It was quite strong as well so I was expecting to see some excitement at the sea wall by the harbour as the waves will be picked up by the wind and hurled into the wall.

But this turned out to be something of a damp squib, didn’t it? The waves weren’t anything at all to write home about. Something of a major disappointment in fact. This was the best of a pretty poor lot of waves coming in on the wind

portable boat lift chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021While I was on my way along the path on top of the cliffs I noticed that the portable boat lift had been moved from its habitual resting place.

Thinking that it might be engaged in some kind of activity I hurried along to the viewpoint overlooking the harbour to see what it it was up to.

To my surprise, I saw that it had been driven into the centre of the chantier naval, parked up and left there. There weren’t any boats about here at all.

All of this looks pretty weird to me. I’ve no idea what is happening with this. I certainly wouldn’t want to leave the boat lift here overnight where some motorist might drive into it in the dark.

joly france ferry terminal port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021Over at the ferry terminal, the two Joly France ferries are tied up there.

On the left is the newer one of the two with the smaller upper deck superstructure and the windows in “portrait” format. The older one of the right has the larger upper deck superstructure and windows in “Landscape” format.

And for once, the crane is folded up correctly.

Back at the apartment I made myself a coffee and had more things to do, like splitting a couple of albums into their constituent tracks. And that wasn’t easy for one of them as the tracks ran into each other and I’ll have to think about this carefully.

Tea was the last of the aubergine and kidney bean whatsit, and now that my journal entry is done, I’m off to bed.

But before I go, I’m going to have to try my best not to be so cynical.

Some books that belonged to my grandparents and great grandparents have been discovered and apparently (not that I knew until long after the event) there was a “family meeting” (to which I wasn’t, of course, invited). It was “agreed” that a certain member of the family should take them in and care for them.

My immediate response was “well, that’s the last that anyone will ever see of them”. I really must stop being so cynical.

Friday 13th October 2017 – IF EVER I GET …

… my hands on the person who decided that it would be amusing to play his music at full volume at 04:40 this morning, he’ll be drinking soup through a straw for the foreseeable future.

Having a little party in one’s room at 01:30 was rather disturbing, but this was something else completely.

Mind you, it’s taught me a lesson, which is to make sure that all of the windows in my room are closed in future. The noise wasn’t half as bad once I had done that.

And this was all a shame because my room was quite pleasant and I was very comfortable in my bed. I shall look further into this hotel once I return home.

So wide awake, I attacked some stuff on the internet that needed doing. And found some more stuff about my grandmother Ivy Cooper performing in Winnipeg in January 1923. Hard to believe that just 33 months later, she was back in the UK, remarried and giving birth to my mother.

With not having paid for breakfast, I had bought some raisin buns and orange juice from the supermarket while I was out last night, and they made a very agreeable breakfast.

And so all of that was followed by a nice shower and shave (and it really was a nice shower too) and change of clothes, and then I packed everything up to go.

The owner was on duty at the Hotel Midi-Zuid. He apologised for yesterday too and let me put my suitcase in the cupboard as my room wasn’t ready (so what REALLY happened yesterday?)

I wandered off down to the Gare du Midi to buy my ticket to Leuven. And here I made something of a mistake. It was well before 10:00 when I bought them so I had to pay full price.

But it was a nice day anyway so I went early (falling asleep on the train) and sat on the Square outside the railway station, soaking in the sun and also supping a well-earned coffee.

Later on, despite still aching just about everywhere, I decided to walk right across the city to the hospital. It was market day down the main street so I fought my way through the crowds, stopping to admire the fruit and veg stall with its lovely collection of grapes, which were so irresistible.

The Loving Hut wasn’t open yet but nevertheless I blagged my way in to buy some more vegan cheese, seeing as I had forgotten to bring over any from Canada. And the manager gave me a couple of names of mail-order vegan suppliers who might help me out.

mini traveller leuven belgium september septembre 2017And here’s a thing. it’s been a while since we’ve featured an old car in these pages.

I didn’t really have the time or the inclination to do much around the USA. I need to catch up, and here by the merest chance happens to be an old Mini Traveller.

rare enough in the UK these days so I never expected to see one here in Leuven.

But then again, regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we saw a mini van here in Brussels a couple of years ago.

Calling at St Pieter’s Hospital for the usual morning reasons, I continued on my way only to bump into one of my former co_kottiers from the Hostel. He’s now managing the little bistro place that’s attached to the other hostel and he invited me in for a coffee and a chat.

Unfortunately I was obliged to decline, seeing asI had a prior appointment, but I made a note. And then pressed on to the hospital.

We had a new student nurse today, so it was a good job that I knew the routine. And when she told me to “move over to the far side of the bed”, I couldn’t help but reply “that’s the most exciting thing that I’ve had said to me for quite some considerable time”.

The news though isn’t so good. While the protein might be “stable”, whatever he means by that, the blood count not so. That’s dropped from 9.6 last time to 9.2 just now. And he reckons that there’s also a leaky valve in my heart.

None of this is anything that I particularly wanted to hear. Things aren’t sounding quite so good just now, so i’m glad that I took the opportunity to carry out all of the tasks on my “to-do” list when I was able to.

It took the doctor until 17:20 to come to tell me that I could go, and to give me my prescriptions. I have to come back on Thursday 14th December, but to go to a different department, and I don’t like the sound of that.

But now I’m horribly late. I was hoping to be gone from here hours ago. I have to run to the pharmacy to collect the prescriptions and, as usual, they are short of product.

And then run for the bus, which is in no hurry. No chance of going for that coffee now.

Luckily the trains to Brussels are quite regular and I don’t have to wait long. Mevertheless it’s 18:33 when we arrive. I have to run down to the hotel, register (why he wouldn’t let me do that this morning I really don’t know), leave my backpack, and run back to the station. And i’m on the platform southbound with just three minutes to spare.

Since I’vs topped going to see OH Leuven, they have been on an impressive run of form and are up there in 2nd place in the league. On the other hand, AFC Tubize are on a woeful run of form and are well adrift at the foot of the table.

There’s a football match played in each division on a Friday night, and by pure coincidence, tonight is AFC Tubize v OH Leuven. it’s just a handful of stops down the line from here, and I’m at a loose end.

Obviously a home banker then.

But we have a tragedy – i’ll tell you that. They’ve reorganised the times of the trains and the last one back is at 22:12. The 23:12 has been taken off. What that means in real money is that if I don’t want to walk back to Brussels, I’ll miss the last 20 minutes of the game.

But never mind. Grabbing a bag of chips from the fritkot across the road from the station, I set off to the ground.

afc tubize oh leuven belgium september septembre 2017It’s a modern stadium, but they ran out of money after doing just two sides.

And that’s hardly surprising because it’s another one of those places where they announce the crowd changes to the team.

I have a coffee, chat to a couple of people, and take my seat in the stand.

AFC Tubize aren’t all that bad. In fact they can match OH Leuven in most departments but you can immediately see the problem that they are having. Their centre-forward is ploughing a very lonely furrow up front, with no service and no support.

OH Leuven are on the attack from the kick-off and only a brilliant save from their keeper stops them going 1-0 down in the first 5 minutes.

But they are in front after half an hour with a brilliant glancing header from Casagolda from a free kick.

Tubize equalize in the second half and I start to have this rather uncomfortable feeling. But it can’t be helped – I need to be on my way.

Back at the hotel I find my room, and its quite comfortable too. One of the bigger ones. I learn that OH Leuven went on to win the match but it’s bed-time for me. It’s been a long day and it’s going to be another long one tomorrow.

Thursday 12th October 2017 – I HAD AN INTERESTING …

… flight back from Canada. Playing “Bejeweled” all the way across the Atlantic.

That’s not a polite way to say that the in-flight entertainment was total garbage either. I mean – it was, but once I found the “games” section of the things, I didn’t bother too much about the rest.

And never mind my worries about not having a special meal either. The two options of food offered on board was either chicken or … pasta with vegetables in a tomato sauce – with no cheese.

Sleep wasn’t too much of an issue either – I just had a fitful doze here and there and that was really my lot.

air canada flight paris charles de gaulle airport france september septembre 2017It seems that Air Canada is having issues with the landing fees at Charles de Gaulle airport too.

Admittedly we were considerably early in landing, thanks to a helpful tail wind, but we ended up moored on the concrete apron and having to be bussed over to the terminal.

And just two passport control officers at the “EU” desk to screen us. But they weren’t too bothered about much and we were soon through.

The baggage was reasonably quickly out too so I was able to make good my escape. On the way out I was accosted by a couple of pirate taxi drivers. “Do I have the word ‘idiot’ tattooed on my forehead?” I growled.

10:30 was when I made it to the railway station – that has to be something of a new record. And my train from Paris to Brussels was at 14:35. A mere 4 hours to get into the city.

But – wait! There’s a train from here direct to Brussels at 11:07!

TGV paris charles de gaulle brussels belgium september septembre 2017My ticket is not refundable, and it’s more expensive than I was expecting.

But sodomisez ça pour un jeu de soldats! as they say around here. I’m not struggling all the way into Paris and hanging around on a draughty station for several hours.

The moral of this story is – don’t book your ticket from the airport “on-line”. Wait until you arrive and then do it. It works out cheaper in the long run.

When the train was called we all trooped off to the gate, to be turned away by a security guy. “You have to use the other gate”
“Why’s that?” called out Our Hero
“Because over there they are controlling the passengers”
“So what are you doing then?”.

I ended up in the company of a woman who needed help to find her seat. She told me that she was from Russia, to which I replied “Ja ne gavariou nichivo pa-Russki”, which always helps in moments like this.

So, by 13:00, instead of still having ages to wait on a draughty station 320 kilometres away in Paris, I was banging on the door of my hotel.

And “banging” too, because it was all locked up, in darkness, with “FULL” on the door.

Eventually, the manager appeared.
“Sorry, we’re full” he explained, which with the Hotel in total darkness looked totally unlikely.
“I’ve a booking here!”
“Ohhh yes – you must be Mr Hall”.
Manager takes me to a hotel down the street – a much better one than the one where I am supposed to be staying.
“I’m sorry for the inconvenience. You’ll need to stay here tonight. But you’ll be back with us tomorrow”
Manager retreats into the total darkness of his hotel.

So what’s going on here then? Knowing the usual kind of places where I stay when i’m on my travels, my money is on a Police raid.

The Hotel de France is quite nice, and so it goes without saying at all that the first thing that I did when I arrived was to crash out. And that was that for … errr …some time.

Later on I went to the café around the corner and had a bowl of lentils, some bread and chips for tea. And the thing about that was that they had the TV on. And being in this particular little corner of Brussels I was entertained by watching RAJA Casablanca beat FUS Rabat in the Moroccan Cup.

concrete lego pieces september septembre 2017I went down to the all-night supermarket in the Gare du Midi for a bottle of pop and some food for breakfast, and encountered these giant lego bricks or jigsaw pieces all over the place.

They are probably road-closers or something like that actually, but my imagination had endless moments of fun imagining builders in giant cranes amusing themselves with these lumps of concrete, building all kinds of things.

Keep them out of mischief for days.

Back here, I sat on the edge of the bed pondering my next move, and the next thing that I remember was that it was 23:00. i’d been out for about 90 minutes.

Well out too. I wasn’t going anywhere else so I curled up under the comfortable sheets. I needed it too.