Category Archives: Bristol

Friday 11th October 2019 – REMEMBER YESTERDAY …

… when I wrote about the evil (because there is no other word to describe it) humour in which I found myself?

Today I was rather hoping that I might have been over it, put it all behind me and moved on. But looking back over some of the stuff that I had written in an internet debate this morning, that’s clearly not the case because much of what I wrote, even though it reflected my true feelings, can best be described as “incendiary”.

It’s no surprise either because there was that much turmoil going on in my head that even at 01:30 the thought of going to bed hadn’t even occurred to me. I spent most of the night wide-awake.

There was some sleep of some kind though, because there are one or two items on the dictaphone. And when I get round to listening to them, it should be extremely interesting to say the least.

The alarms went off at the usual time but I didn’t. 07:15 again for me and this is getting monotonous. The school run too this morning and for a change I had Hannah’s Golf diesel.

So that’s now everything around here that I have driven at one time or another, and my favourite is still Rachel’s Golf estate, although the VWs are far too low for me and difficult to get out of.

Rushed off our feet again today. The place is closed for the weekend and on Monday so everyone wanted their supplies and work done today. I ended up shunting cars around, hauling bags of feed about and going to the bank.

And I’m right about tiredness too. Despite my dreadful night I kept on going all day with only a brief pause, not like yesterday when I was stark out. I was expecting to be much more exhausted today.

Excitement up on the railway line at the back of the depot. The old station was formerly a tractor-pulling venue but it’s up for sale. It seems that the fixtures and fittings have been sold and there were people up there dismantling the grandstand in order to move it to Grand Falls.

This evening there was just Darren and me. He had an omelette and I found some leftover vegan meatloaf in the fridge, followed by apple crumble.

later, I was reviewing some postings from my Arctic voyage. A few (well, one particular) memory came flooding back to me and so I decided to listen to some music to distract me and to soothe my fevered brow. It wasn’t a particularly good choice though. I played Colosseum Live, which will forever be associated in my brain with late, dark, cold nights on board The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour in the High Arctic, and that is exactly what I’m trying to put out of my mind.

Yes, events in the High Arctic have scarred me somewhat and I can’t chase them out of my mind. It’s all very well listening to Joachim du Bellay and that I should be “Heureux qui comme Ulysse a fait un beau voyage”, I’m more inclined right now to the words of the Duke of Marlborough who, on his way to fight at (thinks) Malplaquet, said “God knows I go with a heavy heart, for I have no hope of doing anything considerable”. Or even John Major’s legendary “When your back’s against the wall it’s time to turn round and fight”.

On that note, I’ll go to bed, I reckon. I’ve had a hard couple of days now that demons whom I thought that I had laid have now come back to haunt me. I have to remember, I suppose, that today I really should have been in hospital having a blood transfusion – having already missed three. Bit I’m missing this one too.

Who knows what state I’ll be in when I finally return home?

Perhaps I need some more music
All of the sudden she disappears
just yesterday she was here
somebody tell me if I am sleeping
someone should be with me here
I wanna be the last thing you hear when you’re falling asleep….

Wednesday 9th October 2019 – WE’VE HAD …

… another tremendously busy day down at the tyre depot.

This morning, with nothing much to do although everyone else was rushing around, I filed away all of the bills, invoices and charging sheets. And that wasn’t the work of five minutes either. As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, we’ve been very busy just recently and done a lot of work.

This afternoon involved even more of an effort on my part. I had to go off down to Bristol and the auto spares shop for parts for not one but two jobs that were ongoing in the garage.

And then we had an extremely complicated enquiry about tyres.

Someone has a pick-up with tyres on it that have long-been obsolete and reliable heavy-duty ones can no longer be obtained – except at some kind of silly astronomical price for “specials”. We managed to source a set of wheels of a different diameter and then we had to hunt down a set of tyres for those wheels that would have exactly the same circumference as the original tyres on the original wheels.

It was a good thing that I made the old laptop work yesterday because I could sit down and hunt for a tyre conversion program on the internet – and in the end I found one – and having downloaded and installed it, I could get it to work it gave me a choice of half a dozen different tyre sizes.

And this will please the guy intensely because one of the sizes of tyre is a much-more mainstream size of truck tyre, and even with the cost of new wheels for his truck, he’s going to come out ell on the right side.

I ought to be on a commission.

But that wasn’t all the excitement. yesterday as we were closing a guy came in for a new wheel that he had ordered and to have a tyre fitted on it. All in all, there wasn’t much change out of $1000. When it had been done, he just threw it into the back of his truck.

“Aren’t you going to strap it down?” asked Darren
“no” replied the guy. “It’ll be fine in there. Its own weight will hold it in”.
So Darren shook his head and came back in.

This afternoon the guy came back for some other things.
“You know that wheel and tyre that you sold me yesterday afternoon?”
“I do” replied Darren.
“Well, it’s in the river”.

Luckily he managed to rescue it otherwise that would have been very expensive.

Last night, with having not felt so good, I was in bed something-like and even though I heard the alarms go off, it was still 07:15 when I finally surfaced.

The girls had a ride in to school and so I had another leisurely breakfast followed by a nice stinking hot shower which made me feel so much better.

Plenty of time to make my lunch and then head off to the tyre depot. And I’d noticed that we were low on bread so I stopped to buy some another couple of loaves. Only to find up at the office that Rachel had also noticed that we were low on bread this morning and had already bought two on her way in to work.

Later this afternoon I fetched Amber from her cheerleading practice after school and brought her home. Rachel had gone to Fredericton so there were just us at home. Our little visitor had told us a while ago that she had a really good recipe for a vegan chili so we set her to work in the kitchen this evening.

And I’ll tell you all something for nothing – and that is that it really was excellent too. So much so that Darren, who isn’t usually a fan of exotic vegan cooking, helped himself to a second full helping.

I made a second visit to the pan too and decided that she can cook again for us!

So it’s bedtime now, and I’m looking forward to another decent sleep. I certainly need it. So goodnight to everyone, including my readers in Celbridge, Ottawa and Montreal. One day you really will have to introduce yourselves and say “hello”.

Meanwhile, I’m saying “goodbye”. Until the morning.


Tuesday 8th October 2019 – I’VE BEEN …

… Mr Computer Repair Man again today.

having revelled in my triumphs a few days ago about getting my old Acer Laptop up and running after it crashed out on me in the USA and being able to salvage all of the data, down at the office today Rachel bunged another old laptop at me to see if I could raise that one from the dead too.

I spent a couple of hours working on it and, as much to my own surprise as anyone else’s, it’s now up and running again with not only all of the data still intact but all of the programs too.

It’s an old 2009 Lenovo with a 1.3ghz processor running Windows 7, but now that it’s working again it’s quite sprightly for its age as long as you don’t try to do anything too ambitious with it, but for taking down to the storeroom to do an inventory (which is why it was here in the first place) it’s just the job.

And talking of the storeroom, I’ve checked again and we do have indeed a large supply of 165/80 x 13 and 185/70 x 13 tyres for Ford Cortinas, as well as several other obsolete sizes too for other makes, so I’ve been posting the info on various North American classic car groups to try to drum up the sales.

All in all, I’ve had quite a busy morning.

A relaxing morning too. Although I heard all of the alarms go off, it was about 07:00 when I finally managed to raise myself from the dead. And with no school run this morning I was able to have a leisurely start to the day.

Not to transcribe the dictaphone notes though. There’s a couple on there from during the night and I’ll have to copy those over as soon as I can.

For once, Cujo the Killer Cat co-operated with me so I was able to leave the house pretty much when I wanted to without having to hunt her down.

This afternoon was more running around. Taking the cheques to be posted (it’s that time of the year) mainly.

But I had another task assigned to me which I managed to accomplish. In the garage is a 2004 Dodge Ram 1500 pick-up with a major electrical problem. With my little home-made testing apparatus I can tell that there’s a live feed reaching the relays at contacts where no live feed should be. This points to a short circuit in the fuse box somewhere and these are impossible to repair.

The easy answer is to replace the fuse box but, to my amazement (or maybe not, because I’ve long-since ceased to be amazed at the antics of modern motor manufacturers) the part is “no longer available” from the manufacturers.

Consequently, with the repaired laptop (and I’m glad now that I repaired it), I’ve been scouring the scrapyards of North America and I’ve eventually tracked down a rear-ended Dodge of the correct year and model in a scrapyard in Colorado.

A photo of the part on that truck looks identical to the one here, and so that’s now winging its way northwards in our direction. And who knows? We might even be able to make this Dodge start properly without having to hot-wire it all the time.

Fighting off waves of fatigue yet again (and I’ve no idea why) I went to pick up Amber from cheerleading practice after school, only to find that our little visitor had stayed behind too. Never mind the crowded cab when we have half-a-million strong therein by the time we get to Woodstock, it was pretty cramped in there with three, but we managed all the same.

Everyone was out this evening so I made myself some potato thins with onions, carrots garlic and assorted herbs with some vegan sausages, and it was delicious. Especially when followed down by one of the vegan muffins from the weekend.

Later this evening after tea I retreated to my room. I’m not feeling myself at the moment … “and quite right too” – ed … so some peace and quiet will do me good. I’m beginning to feel the strain and I really need a couple of days in bed to haul myself up again, but I doubt whether that will happen any time soon.

Looking at my schedule over the past three and a half months, it would have been pretty hectic for a younger person in good health. For an older person who is slowly dying, it’s been taxing to the limit and beyond.

But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Monday 7th October 2019 – JUST LIKE OLD TIMES!

Just pulling into the yard this evening with Amber after picking her up after cheerleading practice when Rachel stuck her head out of the door
“Could you go down to the tyre depot and pick up Darren?”

So I dropped off my passenger and headed off to my next job, musing that I ought to fit a meter under Strider’s dashboard and a taxi sign on the roof. When I sold my taxi business in 1989 I thought that I had put this kind of thing well-and-truly to bed.

But no. It was just like old times.

However, if anyone thinks that I’m complaining or that I’m unhappy about it, then that’s far from the truth. I was actually enjoying myself being out and about, especially with some decent music churning away on Strider’s hi-fi.

Actually, one of my old Mancunian acquaintances had made an appearance on my playlist. And as I listened to the words, I realised that they are really quite appropriate to the situation in which I have found myself these days as I struggle with my illness and events associated with it all.

The killer lives inside me: yes, I can feel him move
Sometimes he’s lightly sleeping in the quiet of his room
But then his eyes will rise and stare through mine;
He’ll speak my words and slice my mind inside
Yes the killer lives

Angels live inside me: I can feel them smile…
Their presence strokes and soothes the tempest in my mind
And their love can heal the wounds that I have wrought
They watch me as I go to fall – well, I know I shall be caught
While the angels live

And I too, live inside me and very often don’t know who I am
I know I’m not a hero, but I hope that I’m not damned:
I’m just a man, and killers, angels, all are me:
Dictators, saviours, refugees in war and peace
As long as Man lives…

Because, make no mistake, I am starting to struggle now. I had a really miserable afternoon yesterday and even though I was in bed early and had (for once) a really decent night’s sleep, I wasn’t feeling much better.

Luckily the girls had a lift into school so that I could take things easy this morning. I was in no hurry to surface. I had some food for breakfast, and a coffee, and then a play around on the laptop doing some stuff.

Zoe had told me when she left that she hadn’t been able to find Cujo the Killer Cat, so before I left I tried to hunt her down so that I could put her in one of the rooms where there’s no alarm sensor.

45 minutes I spent trying to find that blasted cat and when I went to the front door to accept a huge parcel delivery, there she was sitting on the bonnet of Strider. Outside all the time!

For most of the day I’ve been running around western New Brunswick fetching parts. It’s been really busy at work today. What added to the confusion was that just as everyone had something important to do, we had a delivery of 72 winter tyres and they all needed sorting and stacking.

Not only that, I’ve been doing my salemanship efforts today. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I’m something of an expert in Ford Cortina Mk III, Mk IV and Mk V, having made my fortune with them when I ran my taxi company. There are one or two in North America and someone posted on a forum that he couldn’t find any tyres anywhere to fit them

This place where I’m working right now is like an Aladdin’s Cave of treasures dating back years so I had a good look around. And sure enough, there are a handful just the correct size stuck down the back of the depot. And so I put an advert on the appropriate forum.

Back here, still in the driving rainstorm, i went to the Post Office on the way home to post the letters and then came back for tea. Plenty of pasta left over from the weekend, and rice pudding left over from last week. A meal fit for a king.

And then out taxiing until late. Just like old times.

But that’s enough for tonight, I reckon. I’m going to bed and I’m hoping to sleep. I need to pull myself round if I can but then again it’s been almost four months since my last blood transfusion, which I’m supposed to have every four weeks.

But do I care? Of course not. I’ve had a good time. And who wants to lie in bed at home to sit and stare at the bedroom ceiling anyway?

Thursday 3rd October 2019 – I HAVE HAD …

… one of the best Indian meals that I have had for quite a while in North America. Outside Montreal, of course, because nothing can improve upon the Indian cafe that I discovered at Cote Vertu in Montreal.

It seems that a family of Indians – “those” Indians, not “those Indians” = have recently taken over a motel in Woodstock (a phenomenon that I first observed about 15 years or so ago) and converted the restaurant into an Indian restaurant.

I had a vegetable biryani and it was excellent, as indeed was everyone else’s meal. The service unfortunately did not match the food, but I’m sure that it will improve.

And I felt like a good meal tonight too because I’ve had a harrowing day. It all went wrong during the night where I reckoned that I had hardly slept at all. Three dictated files on the dictaphone told a different story but nevertheless that was how I felt.

There was no school run either so I hitched a lift up to the office with Rachel so that I could pick up Strider. But then we had an urgent phone call. The boy who was taking Amber to school failed to turn up so I had to dash home. Amber isn’t a fan of Strider but she had no choice in the matter this morning.

Quite a few stresses and strains at the tyre depot today. It seems that everyone is having weekend blues a few days early. But at least the cashing up was no problem tonight – we were $0:90 over so we decided to Spend Spend Spend!

At lunchtime though I’d come home for a shower and a change of clothes, and also to salvage the Note-Tab clipboard libraries from the old computer – a task that I had forgotten. But that’s now accomplished. And I do have to say that the old computer now that it’s “fixed” seems to be working better than it ever did.

We all went down for an Indian meal tonight, all seven of us. And on the way back Rachel, Zoe and I went to visit one of Rachel’s friends who is on the point of leaving for the winter.

But now I’m set up in my room on my way to bed. Let’s hope that tomorrow will bring us some happiness. As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, it’s been a long time since I’ve had any.

Wednesday 2nd October 2019 – REGULAR READERS …

… of this rubbish will recall that my writings ground out round about the 16th July for a short while after my elderly Acer laptop expired before I could upload to it the entries that I had made on board The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour.

However, the more astute, cunning reader will have noticed that there is now an entry for 17th July 2019.

And if you aren’t careful, or aren’t quick, you might even find some subsequent ones.

Last night I had a very late, disturbed night because I was working. And working quite hard too. Not only have I finally succeeded in firing up the old Acer, I’ve even managed to salvage all of the data that was on it.

Those two years that I spent studying for my Diploma in Computing back in 1998/99 have proved their worth and I’m surprised that I could remember as much as I did. But then again, having one’s back to the wall is a very good way of concentrating the mind.

So the result of all of this is that we might be completely back in business sometime soon.

So with having had a very disturbed night, with one or two nocturnal voyages thrown in for good measure, I wasn’t in very much of a mood this morning.

There was also the school run too, but only for Amber because our little visitor is feeling under the weather. I think that the strain of life in New Brunswick is proving too much for her.

After dropping off Amber, I headed on down to Woodstock for my gearchange arm, and by the time we got … “you said that yesterday” – ed

They hadn’t unpacked the deliveries when I arrived so I had to loiter around for a while. There’s a huge Amish community in the region so I spent some time watching their horse grazing on the grass verge while they went to the shops. I went to the shops too – for a few bits and pieces here and there

Eventually I returned to the garage and compared the old arm with the new one. The old arm had rusted and worn away to just a fraction of the thickness to I reckon that it was about time that it was replaced.

Mind you, it’s not made the gearchange any more precise, so there must be plenty of wear elsewhere. But I’m not going to strip down the column change mechanism. I’ll go with what I have.

Having said that though, regular readers of this rubbish will recall a few years ago the overdrive unit was taken out and repaired. I’m disappointed that the people who did it didn’t replace the mechanism – it must have been pretty bad even then.

Back at the tyre depot I’ve been labouring in the workshop, answering the phone, dealing with customers, all this kind of thing, and then I went to pick up Amber from school. She’s been staying late because they have a cheerleading competition coming up and they are rehearsing.

Later this evening I went out with Zoe. She’s recently bought a little house in Woodstock so I bought her a housewarming present – a water cooler for her kitchen. And then we spent an hour or so doing some tidying up in her house to make some room.

On the way back we had a moment or two of excitement as I screeched to a halt to let a family of raccoons stranded in the middle of the road escape to the verge out of my way.

So now I’m off to bed. I had a rough night last night and I need to catch up with my beauty sleep. And looking at myself in the mirror, I need quite a lot of that.

Tuesday 1st October 2019 – A PECULIAR THING …

… happened during the night.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that occasionally (but far more frequently these days) I have sometimes awoken during the middle of the night and then gone back to sleep and re-entered a dream at exactly the same point where I left off.

But last night we had something completely different. I awoke in the middle of the night and went back to sleep again, stepping back into a dream not at the end where I left off, but right back at the beginning where I had started.

And furthermore, as far as I could tell, it went on more-or-less (as near as I can tell) exactly as it had the first time round.

That has never happened before, and it was certainly an interesting experience.

For a change, I was relieved of duty on the school run today so I was in no rush to start the day off. Instead, I had a lounge around and when Rachel sent me a text message to say that my gearchange cable was in, I went off down to Woodstock in her car.

By the time we got to Woodstock we were half a million strong so it was pretty crowded in the Golf, but I found room for the cable and some shopping from the Atlantic Superstore, including more of the vegan sorbet that we like and some fruit bread for me for lunch today and tomorrow – on special offer today.

Having stopped off at home to put the sorbet in the freezer, I continued on to the tire depot and had a look at Strider.

After much effort and difficulty, we managed to fit the cable. But now we have found another problem. The operating arm has a piece broken off it (which is probably what caused the fault in the first place) and the new cable isn’t holding on as well as it might. No point in spoiling the ship for a ha’p’orth of tar, so I’ve ordered a new operating arm and that will (hopefully) be there at Ford’s tomorrow.

But while we were underneath it, we did manage to find an aperture through which we can pass a cable or two. That means that I may at last be able to run a live cable or two through into the cab of Strider.

Apart from that, I’ve been going for parts, carrying sacks of grain about and answering the telephone as well as entertaining the customers. It’s all go here.

Later on, I went to pick up Amber from school (so I wasn’t totally relieved of duty) and had to fight the torrential rainstorm back home.

Tea was pasta tonight, and then I had a play with the failed laptop. Much to my surprise I managed to make it fire up and I can access part of the Windows directory now. Not the part that I want, but it does show me that the thing is not as totally dead as I was imagining.

That means that back home, I may be able to salvage some of the missing data, and that will be good news.

So now it’s bedtime. No idea what I’m doing tomorrow – I shall make it up as I go along. But an early night never goes amiss.

But remember the old Ford 1-tonne that mysteriously moved the other week? The old 20-tonne Ford that was next to it has also mysteriously moved today. But not as far.

After 20 years of standing it fired up first time with some accelerant and a new battery but the accelerator cable is stuck. It’s a long time since I’ve used a hand throttle.

Wednesday 18th September 2019 – HATS OFF …

… to Strider!

Here we are, sitting in a dingy room in a dingy motel in rue Sherbrooke Est. Old, tired, dusty, tatty and cheap. But that’s enough about me, let’s talk about the motel room. And you’ve guessed it. Old, tired, dusty, tatty and cheap.

In fact, in all honesty, you have to consider that it’s a motel in Montreal right by a metro station, with ample free parking and all conveniences (even a guitar shop, in which I’ve already made my presence felt) not a cock-stride away. And the fact that my three nights here are costing me less than $CAN 90:00 per night tax in, it’s a deal that I won’t find anywhere else in the city.

Even the local coppers won’t have too far to come to find me. They are in the building next door.

It’s the same landlady who was here last time I stayed. She didn’t remember me (which was a surprise) but I remembered her. The type who would have fought the Iroquois single-handedly out of this plot of land 400 years ago and she’s been here ever since.

Last night though was exciting. A reasonably early night (for a change) and a decent sleep, with no less than 4 dictaphone entries that I might not know anything about as yet.

Or maybe I do, because there is certainly one that is running around in my head and has been ever since I awoke. And I wonder if it’s on the machine. Basically, I was joined on my travels at one point by a person who has featured on my voyages on many occasions. And I’ll spare her blushes by not naming her because I have reason to believe that she reads these notes.

And you are going to ask me if I got the girl. And I shall say that after much perseverence and fighting off distraction, then I reckon. Not as intensely as I have done on some other occasions, as regular readers of this rubbish might recall, but nevertheless. And what wouldn’t I have given to have had another half-hour’s sleep in order to make sure that it was nailed on completely and thoroughly?

But that’s the trouble with these nocturnal rambles. They go off at tangents at all the wrong moments.

One theory that we were working on during this project years ago was whether there was a subconscious trigger somewhere that went off to protect you from harm. And there have been several nocturnal voyages, including a few just recently, where such a phenomenon might be identified.

This led us onto another project – that about the “sixth sense”. Intuition, second sight, call it what you will, it was a vital tool when you were struggling to stay alive in prehistorical times. Those who had it were the great survivors and they bred children who would have an even greater perception. Und so weiter.

It’s fallen out of use now but it’s still there and we worked on developing it – like walking around a room in the dark and thinking about what was where in our way. Or staring at people walking past and watching them suddenly turn around. All of that kind of thing. And, more importantly, trusting your intuition and your instincts.

Strangely enough, a while back I actually had this talk with the heroine of last night’s voyage. Do you rememb

So we had the school run despite the fact that I misplaced the key to the Golf, and then came back and picked up Strider.

Down to the depot to say my goodbyes, and also to change my hospital appointment. The list of tasks is building up rapidly and I still have things to do on and after when I should be having my blood transfusion.

So I’ve put it back another week. Zoe is worried that it might make me more ill than I already am, but ask me if I care.

By 10:04 I was fuelled up to the brim and joining the Trans-Canada Highway at Florenceville. And just before 15:00 my time (14:00 Quebec time) I was pulling into the Irving Truck Stop at Levis at the foot of the big bridge at Quebec.

454 kms non-stop in just under 5 hours. So hats off to Strider who performed excellently. There was well over a quarter of a tank of fuel left too and that is even better.

Fuelling him up, having a pit stop and finding a Subway for a sandwich – all of that took about an hour (never been in such a slow Subway) and then back on the highway.

294 kms non-stop and here I am. And what pleased me more than anything was that I actually recognised the streets of Montreal where I was supposed to be. And that’s not something that happens every day either.

Pizza Pizza has vegan pizzas as I explained last year, and the Metro supermarket next door produced some food stuff and spruce beer (at long last) so here I am and here I’m staying. For a few days at least.

Tomorrow I have the painful task of throwing away the rest of my stuff in my storage locker here. I’ll be a little richer in cash but a lot poorer in spirit. it really is the end of an era.

Tuesday 17th September 2019 – I’M HARD-PRESSED …

… to remember what it was that I did today. I must have done something or other I suppose, so I’ll have to dig deep.

One thing that I do know is that it should have been an early night, but totally destroyed by a wicked attack of cramp just as I was going to bed. And that was really my lot unfortunately as far as that was concerned.

But I did end up going to sleep eventually – at least until about 05:30 when I was awakened by yet another bad attack of cramp.

Somewhere during the night though I must have been in some kind of consciousness because there’s an entry on the dictaphone – 00:02:05 of it too and I would ordinarily listen to it to see where I was and who I was with, but I’m listening to some Hawkwind right now.

What is exciting about this album – or, rather, the original digital track – is that due to “contractual difficulties”, the tracks featuring lyrics and vocals by sci-fi writer Michael Moorcock (who I particularly enjoyed whenever he fronted Hawkwind) were omitted from the original vinyl album. But on the digital master tapes they are all there in all their glory.

On a rare night off from work, I saw this concert at the Free Trade Hall in Hanley. This was live Hawkwind at its finest and I remember being totally overwhelmed by it all.

As usual, I took the girls to school and then went shopping for a few things. And to my mailbox out on the River du Chute road to see if Strider’s licence tags had arrived. And I was in luck too. So they are on his licence plate and we are all legal. Insurance, safety and licence. What more could any vehicle require?

Up at the shop I hung around for a while, handling a few of the customers (I’m funny that way) then at lunchtime I came back home. A few things to do, some packing to organise, a shower to clean myself up, some lunch, and then I made a curry.

Par-boiled some potatoes and carrots and while they were doing, I fried some onions in olive oil with cumin, coriander and turmeric. When they had browned I added the garlic and mixed it all round.

Once that was looking nice, I added some mushrooms and peppers and had them thoroughly fried. And then tipped in the par-boiled potatoes and carrots. Add some coconut milk and a vegan stock cube, and leave it to simmer for 15 minutes. Finally some bulghour to thicken it out.

Up at the shop I loitered around again.

But here’s a thing. The car fairy has been to visit.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall the ancient 1-tonne Ford with the big aluminium body that has been laid up at the garage since 2000 without turning a wheel since.

Well, today it mysteriously disappeared as if by magic and it’s miraculously turned up here back at the house. I wonder how that happened.

My curry went down really well tonight. Our little visitor left the table with a wiped-clean plate and told me that it was the best meal that she had eaten here.

Mind you, I’m not sure whether that says more about the curry or more about the rest of the meals that I have cooked while she’s been here.

This evening I’ve been downloading again. First off is Every Which Way. That’s an album by a group of musicians put together by Brian Davison, the former drummer in The Nice. Rare as hen’s teeth and my album is totally worn out after a frenetic spell in the late 1970s and early 1980s. A couple of tracks on there are really good.

The second download though breaks a habit of a recent lifetime in that I don’t actually own the album. But it appeared on the list right after the previous one above and I heard it by accident. And it so impressed me that I downloaded it and I’ll find a CD or a vinyl in early course.

I’m sure that very few – if any – people reading this post will have heard of Gay and Terry Woods. They were a couple of Irish folk singers who were invited into the first incarnation of Steeleye Span by Ashley Hutchings. Although they performed on the album “Hark The Village Wait” they didn’t stick around and for a brief period performed as a duo with various eclectic musicians.

It’s all just a faint glimmer in the back of my mind from 1971 and I hadn’t really any idea that they had released an album. But here it is, in all its glory.

This evening I finished off the lemon swirl vegan mousse, performed a computer back-up and I’m ready to hit the road tomorrow.

But part of the back-up involved the dictaphone files and I had a listen to the famous recording – all 00:08:02 of it – of the nightmare that I had the other night. And I’m astonished by the depth of emotion that I spat out. Like I said at the time, I thought that I had put all of that behind me a long time ago.

But apparently not. And that fills me with dismay. Who knows what other demons are lurking in the shadows waiting to be unleashed? That’s the bit that’s filling me full of dread for the future.

But then, as Alfred Whitehead once famously wrote, “It is the business of the future to be dangerous”.

Friday 13th September 2019 – WHAT A NIGHT …

… that turned out to be!

It’s one thing to be accompanied on a nocturnal ramble by people such as Castor and Pollux, but it’s quite something else when a dramatic appearance is made therein by my father and my brother.

And when all of the action (including five children all riding on the same push-bike at the same time) takes place in Edleston Road in Crewe, then that is the stuff from which nightmares are made.

And so it should be no surprise to anyone that I sat up bolt-upright at about 01:30 in the morning in a state of shock, anger and emotion and drenched in a feverish sweat.

I’m not going to go into the gory details of all of this, which I remember totally vividly without having consulted the lengthy notes on the dictaphone, because you are probably eating your lunch right now. But let’s just say that I’m a different person today than I was 30 or so years ago and the rage and anger that was consuming me at the time and for which there is no Statute of Limitations was, I thought, long-since dead and buried like a couple of people I could mention and that I’d moved a long way further on from there.

Consequently the emotion, the violence and the anger that was going around in my head when I awoke was something that took me completely by surprise and knocked me right off balance. It’s a good job that I don’t have too many wits these days because it took me quite a while to gather those that I still have.

Going back to sleep for a while was quite out of the question so I vegetated in bed for ages, musing over the events that had led up to my rather rude awakening. And it ended up as being one of those really uncertain events – did my family connections YET AGAIN contrive to put a spanner into the works and do their best to spoil any kind of enjoyment that I might be trying to have, or did my family all club together once more to save me from a fate worse than a fate worse than death?

Bearing in mind the vicarious pleasure that they once enjoyed from watching me skid towards the precipice a long time ago, I suspect the former. But things have a strange way of working themselves out for the best if you are able to stand back and review them from a detached point of view, and you are quite often able to find a totally different perspective.

Eventually I was off on yet another ramble at some point, to such an extent that I distinctly remember dreaming that I was dictating into a dictaphone some notes of a dream.

I didn’t quite manage to beat the alarms this morning, but I was good and ready for the girls when it was time to go to school (in nice weather too).

And I was right about the garage being empty this morning. There was a queue of vehicles, including a potato lorry, right across and down the yard awaiting attention this morning. We were rushed off our feet.

At lunchtime I came back home for a shower, a change of clothes, some butties and to do some work, such as converting to *.mp3 format a live concert that I tracked down on the internet last night.

The afternoon was spent running to Florenceville for parts and shunting cars around the yard as the pressure slowly eased off. And, of course, fighting off an enormous wave of fatigue.

This evening we had burgers for tea. The carnivores had bison burgers and we two vegans (and Amber) had vegan burgers, followed by lemon whirl vegan mousse.

With it being Friday night, everyone is relaxing. But I have too much to do right now so I’m working.

And I might be some time.

Thursday 12th September 2019 – IT’S NOT BEEN …

… a particularly good day for me today.

And that’s hardly a surprise bearing in mind the events of last night.

It’s totally pointless going to bed early and trying to sleep because right now we are in the grip of forces much stronger than ourselves and as I have been told by various members of the medical profession, I need to conserve my strength and energy for the battle that lies ahead.

And so the last thing you would think that I was needing was yet another extremely mobile night. Once more it seemed that every 20 minutes I was waking up to add something to the dictaphone. And then going back to sleep again and dropping right back in to where we left off when we awoke.

The proof of the pudding is in the dictaphone with a file from the night as long as your arm. And looking back through the pages of this blog (one of the reasons why I keep it) it corresponds with the period round about the turn of the year 2016 when I had been first diagnosed and they were fighting to keep me alive. Pages and pages of rambling notes about where I had been and what I had done during the night and when we had all kinds of weird and wonderful people making guest appearances.

Not quite how it’s working out though right now because (until I listen to the entries and transcribe the notes) it’s basically the same two or three people accompanying me around. So after having had a night off on Tuesday night, welcome back Castor!

But as to whether I’m rueing all of these nightly interruptions, then the answer is “far from it”. Oscar Wilde’s friend Frank Harris once said that “man takes his pleasure whenever and wherever he can find it” and as I have said before, and on numerous occasions, what I get up to during the night is far more exciting and interesting than whatever goes on during my waking hours – one or two recent events being the exceptions of course.

The alarms went off at the usual time but I didn’t pay much attention. The morning stampede at 07:22 quickly brought me to my senses and a bang on the door shortly afterwards told me that my services were required.

Just for a change, it was a nice morning when I drove the girls to school. Not like the last couple of days when I’ve had thick fog and heavy rainstorms to contend with.

The morning passed completely uneventfully and I went home at lunchtime – to make some sandwiches and to deal with the download that I had done yesterday. That’s all up and running correctly.

So 20 minutes for lunch, 40 minutes for the music, and a blasted hour and a half trying to catch Cujo the Killer Cat and put her in the place in the house where she won’t disturb the alarm. Difficult at first, but once I found the cat treats the rest was easy.

I leapt into Strider to go back to the depot and the first thing that I heard on the *.mp3 player was –
“We need new dreams tonight
“Desert rose
“Dreamed I saw a desert rose
“Dress torn in ribbons and in bows
“Like a siren she calls to me
“She stands with a naked flame
“I stand with the sons of Cain
“Sleep comes like a drug… In God’s Country” and I couldn’t agree more. The events of recent nights (and one or two days too) are clearly getting to me

This afternoon we finished the pickup that had had all of the work done on the springs and that was driven away. I thought that it would never be finished and end up like a Canadian 21st-century version of Crawshay Bailey’s steam engine. Going “to Cardiff College for to get a bit of Knowledge” wouldn’t have solved this problem

The garage is now finally empty so we can tidy up, but the rush starts at 08:00 tomorrow.

But I was totally wasted afterwards. I was right out of it, sitting on a chair, for an hour or so. The stress and the strain (and my illness) are getting on top of me now.

The cash balanced first time round to just a $0.01 difference, and seeing that one cents are no longer valid in Canada, someone has forgotten to do the rounding.

We were in a rush back here so I made the vegan meal for the two vegans amongst us. So well did it go down that the remainder was purloined for a young person’s lunch tomorrow, and I’ve been invited to cook again. So Rachel and I spent well over an hour planning vegan recipes.

But you’ll be amazed at just how complicated a simple task like wrapping a parcel can be when you aren’t in the mood. But once it was done, I found a couple of live tracks (over 37 minutes each) of a Welsh rock group called Lone Star from the 1970s who featured on my radio programmes ages ago so I’ve been editing and engineering them ready for further use.

Not only that, I had a play around with the bass to work out the bass line to the song that I quoted just now. If I’m going to have random music roaming around my head, I may as well work out how to play it.

But I’ll finish that off tomorrow.

Wednesday 11th September 2019 – EVEN THOUGH …

… I promised myself an early night last night, it didn’t quite work out like that. Just after I had finished writing up my notes, the heavens opened and we were soaked in a torrential downpour.

There are many advantages of tin roofs over the old-fashioned shingle roofs, but soundproofing qualities is not one of them, especially when there is a metal trailer roof parked right underneath my window.

As a result it was long after 23:00 when I finally nodded off.

we had what seemed to be the usual wake-up round about 04:00 and we must have been on a voyage at one point or another because there are some files registered on the dictaphone. No idea what’s in them yet but, as usual, I’m keen to find out.

The alarms went off as usual but I hid down the bed until Amber banged on the door. It seems that I’m doing the school run again today. Not that I mind of course – I have to make myself useful here and earn my corn.

The last time that I took the girls to school we had a thick fog and mist. Today we were having a torrential rainstorm. The next time I take them it will probably be a plague of locusts.

At the shop there were errands to run. I ended up having to go back to the house, rescuing a couple of pushbikes, bringing them back to the garage and overhauling them. It’s a long time since I’ve had to do that – I’ve not had any real involvement with pushbikes for almost half a century I reckon.

Once they were done I had to wait until lunchtime and then go back to Amber’s school to take her some money for the cinema tonight and to deliver the bikes (good job that I have a truck).

While I was at Amber’s school we had a delightful conversation –
Amber – “some boy called me a dumbass in class this morning”
Our Hero – “really? When’s his funeral?”

This afternoon we were having printer issues. The accounting program wouldn’t permit any printing so Yours Truly was required to look into the situation.

Eventually, after much binding in the marsh, I worked out that it seems that the program had performed an automatic upgrade at midday and for some reason that I have yet to understand it had created a clone of the accounts printer and was sending instructions to the clone, not the veritable one.

When I tried to transfer printers over, it still refused to accept the change – it simply stopped sending out any printfile instructions.

Finally, after about an hour, by going way back in my mind as far as 1998 and what I could remember about BIOS settings, I managed to make the program recognise the letter printer on another port and it’s now printing really satisfactorily from there.

But there have been so many printers connected up to that setup over the years that if it were me, I’d go through and delete every printer and device that is no longer active and go for a leaner, fitter machine. But it’s not my business, not my company, not my set-up etc.

This afternoon I was hit with another wave of fatigue. I’d been on the ropes once or twice during the morning but this was serious.

But what I couldn’t understand is that I had been swinging myself in and out of the back of Strider like I might have done before 2014 with no pain or effort whatsoever. Past experience tells me though that whenever I feel really well and really energetic, it usually means that I’ve had a substantial drop in blood count and that there has been a release of adrenalin ( as if there hasn’t been enough adrenalin released just recently). And still at least 30 days (and maybe more) until my next blood transfusion.

We were away from here fairly early tonight and back here Darren and I fixed the door (it has become unhinged since I’ve been here and who can blame it?) while Rachel fixed tea. Another one of her delicious herb-laden vegetable stir-fries in olive oil. Hannah lent a big hand to the mixture so there was plenty of garlic.

And I’m well-impressed (as always) with Hannah. She’s just had her annual appraisal at work – the end of her first year’s employment. “Above and beyond expectations” was the result.

Now I’m in my room with the bass guitar, hoping for another early night. Rachel is cooking chicken soup so the whole house smells of food, Zoe is doing Hannah’s fingernails (she’s off to Wisconsin in the morning) and the other two are out at the cinema.

But searching around on the internet I came across one of the albums of the days of my youth, featuring a bassist who I admired greatly.

Long out of print now, my album is scratched and damaged beyond all recognition these days (two years of living in vans and various squats in my youth didn’t help matters) so I hunted down a file ripper and downloaded the tracks.

That took an age but converting them to *.mp3 was quite quick. Now I’m up and running, over an hour later than I had intended.

So I’m off to bed. I’m not sure what the plan is tomorrow but I’ll work it out as I go along.

Monday 9th September 2019 – WITH HAVING TO …

… go to bed early last night in order to be on form for today, it goes without saying that I had another bad night last night.

Still awake at 01:30, and when I finally did drop off, it was just in 20 minute segments where I was off on various travels. When I unwind the dictaphone at some point in the future I can tell you all about them, but what I can say is that at one point Castor and I were joined just for a change by Pollux.

Is it the first time that the aforementioned has accompanied me on a nocturnal voyage? I shall have to check

And it was one of those nights where I kept stepping back into the voyage at exactly the same place that I had stepped out. That’s something that I’m noticing is happening more and more frequently these days and when I was having similar situations back 15 or so years ago, I found myself able eventually to move onto a third plane, and that’s when it all became exciting.

That was during the period that we were researching dreams (that lasted from about 1998 to 2006 or so) for someone’s PhD at University and so our individual research was never individually published. But I still have the notes somewhere and I’ll have to look them out when I’m back home.

The spell was however unfortunately broken round about 04:00. The batteries in the dictaphone went flat at an inopportune moment and, determined not to miss a moment, I left the bed for a spare set.

They were flat too so I had to find some more and in the meantime find the charger to charge up the flat ones.

Unfortunately this meant that by the time that I was organised and went back to bed, I’d missed my spot and ended up going off somewhere else instead and isn’t that a shame?

When Amber banged on my door, I’d been up for quite a while. Before the third alarm in fact and that’s a rare deal right now. So we went outside ready for school.

Amber doesn’t like the idea of travelling cramped up in Strider so she had negotiated use of her mother’s car for me. It was cold, damp, misty and foggy outside and I had to clean off the car before we could go anywhere.

We negotiated out way through the queues at the covered bridge (the highway is down) and much to my (and everyone else’s) surprise, the St John River valley was clear of fog and mist. As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, that’s usually the place that GETS it first.

The girls clambered out at school and I drove back to the Co-op for apples (seems that we have a little fruit-eater amongst us) and to Tim Horton’s for bagels for me for breakfast.

At the tyre depot the morning passed quickly. There were lots of people around there and we were quite busy. I sorted out some paperwork and then, grasping the nettle, I telephoned the hospital back in Leuven.

They offered me a blood transfusion on 11th October on a “take it or leave it” basis. And so I took it. After all, chemotherapy and mapthera didn’t work as we know and the product that they are trying out on me is still in the trial stage so it’s not licensed as yet in North America.

And with having missed already three of my four-weekly transfusions, heaven alone knows what my blood count might be like. It was knocking on the “critical level” back in June.

Nevertheless, I’m going to try to see if I can push it back a week or so. I have may things to do that are as yet undone and there are many opportunities waiting to come my way and that won’t be accomplished if I’m not here.

After that I went to see Ellen. She’s quite ill too and doesn’t look anything like the woman that I remember. It’s a shame but I reckon that we will both be stoking the fires of eternity together, and quite soon too. But I kept her company for an hour or so and we had a good chat.

At lunchtime I took Rachel’s car back home and picked up Strider. Then went to the Irving for lunch. Afterwards I hopped off to pick up my mail from my mail box but SHOCK! HORROR! the whole battery or mailboxes out on the River du Chute road has been flattened.

A brief drive enabled me to find another battery of mailboxes but my key didn’t work. Off to the Post Office then, where she explained that the boxes have been moved and I needed a new key. She confirmed my Canada address and gave me a new key to a different box

But even more SHOCK! HORROR! It seems that my new licence tags for Strider haven’t come through. They expire at the end of the month so I need to chase them up before I go off to Montreal and Ottawa.

And I forgot to add that with the road up there being as it is and with Strider being as he is, it was an exceedingly lively drive. Next time that I go to Labrador I shall need to take with me a change of underwear

This afternoon there was yet more work to be done. Darren needed to take some heavy springs down to the welders in Woodstock so I went along to help. By the time we got to Woodstock we were half a million strong but in the big Chevrolet lorry there was plenty of room.

Having brought the petrol back on Saturday it was the turn of the diesel. But this time, now that the lorry is mobile again, we had a proper licensed fuel tank to move the stuff about.

I have deliberately refrained from mention the world’s worst customer service that I have ever received – service that would knock Belgium’s legendary incivility to its customers into a cocked hat.

I rang Walmart in Fargo about the splash screen on my laptop and after repeating my story 7 times to 7 different people the best advice that I was given was to “reformat your hard drive and tough s**t for your data”.

That’s advice and assistance that I can well do without.

There was a major issue trying to reconcile the cash account this evening on closing so we had to stay behind to resolve the problem. Eventually, at about 18:30 we suddenly twigged – payments received after closing on Saturday lunchtime, credited though on Saturday, had been put into the till on Monday instead of being added to Saturday’s pouch.

Of course, neither I nor Rachel had been there at close on Saturday or opening on Monday, had we?

It meant that we weren’t back home until 19:00 and, much to our surprise, the girls had cooked tea. I went for a shower afterwards and then tried some of Rachel’s home-brew ice coffee, which was delicious.

Now even though it’s early, I’m off to bed. It seems that the school run is required for tomorrow (the school bus arrives too late, what with the issues on the bridge and Amber has already been cautioned once by an unreasonable Principal, and she can’t take a passenger on her scooter) and once more, Yours Truly has drawn the short straw.

And a big hello to my new readers from Montreal and Mississauga.

Saturday 7th October 2017 – STRIDER’S FIRST …

strider towing tralier centreville new brunswick canada september septembre 2017… tow job.

And it very likely was too, because all of the electrics on the trailer plug were totally corroded. It took an hour to clean them off and grease them.

And in the end, we only had direction indicators too, but that was good enough to go.

Here in Canada, recycling is big business. And I do mean “business” too. Most of the glass bottles and plastic containers require a deposit, and there’s cash to be earned from aluminium soft drinks cans too.

But remembering where you bought each article and taking them back to the correct shop is a nightmare, so some enterprising people have set up central collection points where you can take your empties, they redeem them from you, and they handle the returns to the various shops.

Amber is fundraising for a school trip to Washington DC in the Spring so she’s been collecting from friends and neighbours. Today, we loaded everything into the small enclosed trailer, under the careful supervision of one of the mill cats, and took it down to the Centre in Bristol.

And you’d be surprised how much we earned too!

It wasn’t as easy as it sounded too. The trailer was stuck deep in the undergrowth and I had to attach a chain to Strider to pull it out.

And then the tow ball was the wrong size so we had to find a smaller one and swap them over. And then the electrics.

Rachel came with us so Strider also had his first rear-seat passenger. There are a couple of pop-up dickey seats in the half-cab at the back and Amber perched on one of those. She refused to travel in the cage.

Another thing as well was that despite being out of practice, not having done it for years, I reversed the trailer exactly where I needed it to be, and on several occasions too, quite often into very small gaps. I was proud of that.

I wasn’t quite right about last night though. Cujo the Killer Cat didn’t come to bed after me. She was in fact already on the bed and waiting for me, which was quite nice. And she stayed for quite a while too.

But I didn’t though. I was off on various nocturnal rambles during the night.

We started off last night somewhere out on the Outer Banks but I don’t now remember exactly what I was doing out there. But anyway I quickly moved on to driving a coach full of young school kids to some kind of science laboratory where they were having some kind of lessons. I had to clean out the coach and found a huge pile of animal hair in the form of a long grey and white tail. It was many metres long and quite valuable too so I collected it up to put in one of the lockers at the side. Having done that, I went into school to say that I was ready to leave, and gave my journey number, which was one of the 6 that began with a figure “4” but the receptionist had said that all of the “4” journeys had gone -which was definitely not the case, for my next trip to the laboratory was another one of the “4” trips, so that hadn’t even arrived.
A little later I was in a car heading to the north of Manchester – a rough area – so I had a CB radio with me. I was chatting to a few people and they began to ask me questions, about what my car looked like and so on. I knew that soon I would have to stop for fuel so I started to give them all kinds of false details about me and the car so that we wouldn’t be recognised.
The discussion moved on then to another erstwhile taxi owner who had never been particularly successful and had fallen foul of the taxi licensing laws. He had been allowed to start again with just one car but hadn’t been successful and I was trying to buy him out. But the discussion concerned his own ineptitude and incompetence.

After our return from the Recycling Centre, I had to go shopping. And come back and go again because, in the kind of thing that only I can do, I forgot to take any money.

A shower, shave and clean clothes were next, and then we attacked the Thanksgiving meal. 14 of us, there were, and we made tons of food, much of which wasn’t eaten and went into the fridge. And then Rachel and I attacked the mountains of washing up.

Although it’s early, I’m in bed. I’m totally exhausted and I’ve crashed out twice already. I managed just enough effort to put a pile of clothes in the wash, and that’s my lot until the morning

Friday 20th September 2013 – AND WE’RE OFF …

darren taylor perdy in the pink tractor maine usa… tractor-pulling again. Just the four of us this time, namely Darren, Hannah, Yours Truly and of course Strawberry Moose. We’re going to a place called Millinocket which is deep inside darkest rural Maine and miles off the beaten track, so I shall be quite at home there.

But a crisis at the local truck stop (not the big one where we stopped last time). My fries turned up, well, sort-of okay but my beans had bacon in them despite me specifying “just beans – no cheese and no bacon or anything else”. Apparently a simple request like that is beyond the capacity of some trukstop waitresses in the USA. “However did this lot become the new master race?”, as I have asked myself before.

Today started off early as it was Inspection Day at Zoe’s salon. A couple of last-minute tasks needed to be carried out and so Yours Truly was roped in. This little desk with two shelves that we bought (was $60, when we first saw it, it was reduced to $40 and when Zoe bought it it was further reduced to $20) is an absolute bargain and does exactly what it’s supposed to do, and more besides.

Then I went off to Tim Horton’s to give two people the shock of their lives. There they were sitting at a table next to me quietly nattering away, and then I caught the “long Jaaaa”. “Jullie komen uit Nederlands?” I asked them, and then we had a very interesting 10-minute conversation in Dutch. Probably the last thing that they were expecting in a coffee bar in a small town in rural New Brunswick.

The rest of the day was spent running errands. They are short-handed in the tyre depot again and deliveries were piling up and so with Zoe as navigator (her salon passed its inspection and as soon as Darren finishes welding the sills on her car she’ll be in business) we went off around Bath, Florenceville and Bristol with a pile of parcels and envelopes. And of course the bank. I don’t know if I mentioned last time the fun that I had trying to get US dollars out of US cash machines with my Canadian bank card, and so I went to the bank and took out some USA cash.

Now I’m sitting at the side of a deserted runway in rural Maine watching the stars and the full moon, and waiting for things to happen.