Category Archives: Carrefour

Monday 28th March 2022 – I DON’T KNOW …

… what it is with me but having had the news a few weeks ago that Kaatje, my “support worker” (really, my psychiatrist) at Castle Anthrax, is leaving her post at the end of the month, I had the news that Sonia my physiotherapist has decided to leave her post too

It seems to me that they are all sussing me out sooner or later.

Whoever is going to replace Kaatje remains to be seen but I bet that at the physiotherapist’s, they have some retired Bulgarian weightlifter lined up to take over. That is usually about par for the course, isn’t it?

repointing wall rue des juifs Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022Meanwhile, in other news, regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we’ve been keeping an eye on the repairs to the medieval walls, of which there are several miles thereof about the town.

One of the things that they did was to replace the brick capping on top of part of the walls and then leave it unpointed for all of the damp, humidity and frost, whatever else you like to infiltrate.

Anyway, today, they had a bricklaying class out there and to my surprise, they have made a start on repointing the brickwork that they did ever so long ago.

Not that they made much progress this afternoon, so I imagine that they’ll be back over the course of the next few days to complete the task.

scaffolding rampe du monte a regret Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022Something else that I mentioned the other day was the scaffolding that they have built over the Rampe du Monte à Regret.

As I was going down the hill I noticed that it was still there so I took a photo of it just for the record. It looks as if it’s going to be there for a few more days yet as they were busy moving the scaffolding around to different parts of the wall.

But anyway, be that as it may, I actually managed to haul myself out of bed just after the alarm went off at 06:00, which surprised me more than it surprised anyone else.

And after the medication, I made a start on the radio programme that I wanted to prepare today.

No records today though, because I was actually working on two at once. Having written the notes for the programme over the last week, I wrote them for the next one this morning and then dictated both one after the other.

There were several interruptions too – for the coffee and for breakfast, and also for the nurse who came round to inject me with my Aranesp ready to go off on my travels.

That prompted me to telephone the doctor for an appointment as I now have run out. That’s for Wednesday morning at 09:30.

Nevertheless, I’ve only prepared the one though. I’ll nibble away at the other here and there over the course of the forthcoming week and see where I end up.

When I finished the programme, I had a listen to it and also to the two that I’m sending off today. Yes. That’s right. I’m not here next week so I need to make sure that my programme will run next week without me.

During the three hours that it took for me to listen to the three programmes I attacked the photos from the High Arctic in 2019. I shifted a good pile of them too and now I’m just arriving at the abandoned RCMP post at Dundas Harbour on Devon island in the Canadian high Arctic.

During a pause here and there, I went and had a shower to clean myself up. I have to look my best for my physiotherapy.

After lunch I carried on with my photos while I listened to the radio programmes and then headed off out.

classe decouverte calean, spartiate, trafalgar, chant de sirenes, black pearl, charlevy fishing boats fish processing plant port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022As usual I stopped at the corner of the Boulevard Vaufleury and the Boulevard des 2E et 202E de Ligne to see what was going on.

There was plenty of excitement there too this afternoon. All of the trawlers are coming in to unload and I can identify Calean, with Spartiate behind her. Then a couple of unidentified fishing boats with the blue, white and pink Trafalgar behind her.

Just coming in alongside the others is Chant de Sirenes with Black Pearl behind her, and then Charlevy just entering the harbour to the right.

Also on the quayside are several groups of school children.

One of the things that is quite common here in France is what they call the Classe Découverte – the “Discovery Class”.

They take groups of kids away from their natural environment and put them in another one for a week or so in order that they can experience life elsewhere. So what we probably have here is a bunch or two of kids from some inner city schools somewhere who are staying in the Youth Hostel in the town to find out about life in a fishing port.

And with all of the work going on down there with the seafood being unloaded into the vans, they will be learning a lot today.

And I learnt a lot on the way down into the town today. There is a series of steps that I use to test the force in my right knee and I found to my surprise that I could actually haul myself up them today. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to do that.

la grande ancre swimming pool freight on quayside port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022Down in the harbour it looks as if we are going to be having one of the Jersey freighters in port very soon.

One of them has the contract for transporting the swimming pools out to the Channel Islands and with them being expensive items, they won’t want them to be lying around on the quayside for too long.

At least it won’t be going off on board la Grande Ancre. She won’t be taking them but the fact that she’s there in the loading bay means that they will be loading something onto her.

Down into the town I went and then up the hill on my way to the physiotherapists. And the walk wasn’t all that difficult today. Over the last week or so, things seem to have improved from that point of view and I don’t know why.

roofing rue couraye Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022Halfway up the hill I did come to a halt. But not for a breather.

They have been ripping the roof off this building here and they are currently in the process of replacing the woodwork. They certainly seem to have picked the right weather for it at the moment.

At the physiotherapist’s she had me on the couch with her electro-massage thing, followed by five minutes on the cross trainer and then a few exercises. And she showed me an exercise that I can do at home.

After she threw me out I staggered (and it was a stagger too) up the hill and round the corner to Lidl for a few supplies. But to my surprise, they don’t sell baked beans at Lidl and I fancied sausage, beans and chips for tea.

scaffolding on crane new building rue victor hugo rue st paul Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022On the way back I went past the building work that’s going on at the corner of the Rue St Paul and the Rue Victor Hugo.

They had the Rue Victor Hugo closed off and they were unloading some scaffolding into the bucket that’s attached to the hook of the crane so I loitered around planning to watch them hoist it up.

When they had finished, they lifted it about a foot off the ground and then they all knocked off for a tea break, which seemed to be a rather strange thing to do.

Dodging yet another classe découverte I ended up in the town centre and picked up a few tins of baked beans from Carrefour. Can’t do without my baked beans.

On the way up the hill I bumped into one of my neighbours coming down, so we had a good chat for a while. I’m not usually the sociable type, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, but I have to make an effort seeing as I live amongst them.

person in sea beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022Before I went back into the apartment I went to see what was happening down on the beach.

Not too many people down there today with it being a school day, but even so one of our intrepid adventurers had taken to the water. So hats off to him today.

Back in here I had a coffee and then had a listen to the dictaphone. I started off in Russia. I’d been collecting photos of steam trains and I had a couple of books to identify them. There were hundreds abandoned all over the place that I had photographed. But then the Russian authorities – something had happened and they didn’t want me to take any more photos. They made me sit on a bench in a station to wait for a train back home. The train was going to be in ever so many hours and hours’ time. all I had to do to thumb through were these photos and the couple of books that I had. Somehow something had happened and I ended up in some kind of industrial town in Northern England with terraced houses. The kids there were playing a game in the street. Even then, this was being gradually subsumed into this Russia thing where the kids were having to hang around in the street for hours and hours and amuse themselves which is difficult when you are bored, until something happens. It was very much the same scenario as me being in Russia

And then I was at work again. I’d set out to go to work fairly early but I’d gone off to do something else on the way. I arrived just before 10:00 and put my things on my desk and went into the assembly. When we all came out and went to sit at our desks there was a discussion going on about food and bread. Someone had been overcharged for his lunch sandwich etc. I already had my lunch sandwich for today but I had one for Friday which I was going to have for my breakfast because I hadn’t had breakfast yet. A girl with whom I used to work came over and said that someone saw me out at Peruwelz this morning on my way into work and wanted to know why I didn’t arrive until 10:00. We had a chat but I didn’t actually tell her the reason and I was intrigued to know who it was who had seen me. I was in a car a little later. I was driving and she was with me. We were going down this road that I don’t recognise and through a couple of speed limits. We wee chatting about nothing in particular.

I forgot to mention that somewhere in all of this I’d bought a black Rolls-Royce for £3500, a runner apparently. I had to go to pick it up at some point but I had nowhere to leave it. If it was a runner I could park it in the street or even park it in the place outside my building but I don’t know.

Regrettably, but not unexpectedly, I crashed out later. And for an hour too. Having made 90% of my daily activity today with having had a good session on the cross trainer, that’s enough to finish me off for today.

For tea, I fancied sausage beans and chips but one look at the sausages in the fridge told me that it wouldn’t be sausages that I’d be eating today. Instead, I had a burger with my beans and chips and, as I suspected, the beans from Carrefour were appalling. Not even pepper, grated cheese and rosemary could improve the taste.

So now that I’ve written my notes I’ll have half an hour on the guitar and then go to bed. I’ve had a busy day today and I have a Welsh lesson tomorrow. I need to be on form

Saturday 26th March 2022 – IN SOMETHING OF A …

…. major surprise, the first day of my Welsh revision course actually passed quite well and I’ve no idea why either because as usual we were launched straight into the deep end.

crane ferry terminal port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022In something else of a major surprise, I actually caught the crane at the ferry terminal working this morning.

With having my Welsh lesson starting at 10:30 I had to nip into town early for my special bread for lunch and the mushrooms for the pizza. And there as I approached the corner of the street the crane was busily swinging something about.

Of course, at this kind of distance and as far as I was away from the outer wall it’s impossible to see what it was that they were moving around. And the sun shining right into the lens of the camera didn’t help matters at all.

person swimming in sea rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022And that’s not all either.

When I went out for my afternoon walk I went as usual to look down at what was happening on the beach and out at sea. And despite the weather I really was surprised to see someone actually in the water this afternoon.

That’s what I call “courage”.

But I’m getting ahead of myself yet again today.

When the alarm went off this morning it was yet another struggle to leave my stinking pit for the real world. Nevertheless, I beat the second alarm clock. Not by much, I have to say, but enough.

After breakfast there was plenty of time to transcribe the dictaphone notes.

The Germans were busy executing a load of prisoners whom they had caught last night, hanging them in groups of so many. After they had done several groups, they decided that they would call it a night for the moment, just as they got to one particular woman. They were all there having a little party I suppose. This woman was sleeping on what was a large bed, the type that you would fit probably a dozen people on. One of the women who was there involved in the executions was with a guy. They were busy eating green apples. They asked this woman if she wanted one but she said no. It created problems with her stomach so they carried on with what they were doing while she was there trying to sleep with all this noise. her hands were tied so she couldn’t do very much. When everyone went off to sleep she tried to free her hands but she wasn’t able to do it. Next morning the hangings started again and she was in the first batch of them to go to meet their maker. Interestingly, where this was all taking place was somewhere round by the corner of Alton Street and Walthall Street in Crewe.

And later we were babysitting a small child for someone. I can’t remember who I was with now but it was male. It might have been my brother. We were babysitting in my house. This woman turned up unexpectedly to take the boy away. It was her grandmother on his mother’s side. She had a friend with her. They walked into my house and had a look around. She said to her partner “just remember before you say anything about the condition of their house, it’s their house”. She said that with one of those long pointed looks down her nose. I thought “you ungrateful cow”. I was just about to tell her what I thought of her when she grabbed the child and left so I chased after her but she had gone. Just then my mother in law turned up with her other daughter in law, her brother’s wife, for measuring our house. We had a tape measure and someone asked to know the length of it so I said that it was 20 metres. They insisted that it was 10 but I could see quite clearly that it was 20. I told the story of this woman coming in. My mother-in-law said “yes, quite” as if she clearly agreed with the first woman. I thought “all these miserable people here . I can’t even live my life quietly on my own without having all of these attacks from all kinds of different people. What made it worse was there I was out of the goodness of my heart looking after this little child and all I received was a heap of abuse, which sounds about pretty much par for the course the way things are these days.

And that’s not all of what happened last. But trust me – you really don’t want to know about the bits that are missing, especially if you are eating your tea right now.

There was also an extremely bad-tempered reply to the e-mail that I wrote last night. Which went basically “I’m not paid to do …” a task that he actually volunteered to do without any prompting, and “ohh, that’s different” – the standard sort of reply that you receive when you mention something that they haven’t considered.

And plenty of other bells and whistles besides

“Ohh, that’s different” – like when the subject crops up about the footballer who is accused of cruelty after kicking his cat and you ask his critics if they’ve just eaten a meal containing the flesh of some animal that someone has actually killed.

crane ferry terminal port de Granville harbour Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022So climbing down from my soapbox, I headed off into town this morning nice and early just as the shops were opening.

And there at the viewpoint at the corner of the Boulevard Vaufleury and the Boulevard des 2E et 202E de Ligne I watched them playing about with the crane but by the time that I arrived at a good viewing position whatever it was that they were moving had gone out of sight.

There were problems going down into town too. There are some steps that go down from the Rue des Juifs to the Place Pelley and someone has erected a scaffolding across them, as I discovered when I was half-way down.

market place general de gaulle Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022At the Carrefour I bought a special baguette and a punnet of mushrooms and headed for home.

Although it’s early, the market was in full swing. The barbecue on the right, burning its charcoal, was in full operation. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that two years or so ago the Maire at the time tried to stop him burning charcoal, but he fought the case and won.

The walk back up the hill to home was surprisingly easy. Not only did I not stop for breath, I actually made it up to the top at something like a reasonable speed as well.

That’s not like me these days either, is it?

At 10:30 our lesson began and I was actually already connected up. But not for long. The laptop that I use for Zoom crashed and it took me about 15 minutes for it to fire up again and reconnect.

We’re 15 students in this class, all from South Wales apart from me so I’m confusing them all by saying “efo” instead of “gyda”, “rwan” instead of “nawr”, “dwâd” instead of “dod” and so on which isn’t very helpful. I don’t know why they insist on putting me in a South Walian revision group when my learning provider is registered as Coleg Cambria, which is based in Wrexham in North-East Wales.

We had two coffee breaks, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, and a lunch hour of course. And to my surprise I managed not to fall asleep either.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022As soon as it finished I legged it off outside, rather later than usual, but never mind.

Earlier on, I mentioned that it was a beautiful afternoon. And you can tell that by the crowds of people down there on the beach.

This lot is sitting at the foot of the steps that lead up to the Rue du Nord. And there were dozens of other little groups like this one scattered around all over the place as well, enjoying every minute of the weather.

Including the woman, who we saw earlier up to her waist and beyond in the water. Perhaps I ought to mention that despite the crowds down there, she was the only one who had taken the plunge. It wasn’t that warm.

people on path pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022You’ve seen the crowds on the beach already. Now look at the crowds on the path on top of the cliff.

My route to the lighthouse was dogged by hordes of people pushing pushchairs, walking dogs, holding children and all of that kind of thing. The beautiful weather has brought them out in their droves this afternoon.

And the reason why everyone seems to be on land at the moment is because if you look at the background of the photo you can see that we have the sea mist back again..

There won’t be much sightseeing being done on the water this afternoon.

fishermen in boats baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022However this photo represents something else completely.

There were a couple of boats that I could actually see and even though the bright sunlight was shining directly into the camera and reflecting off just about everywhere else, I still had a go at it.

These two boats were actually full of fishermen – you can tell by the silhouette of their fishing rods – but what caught my eye was how close they were together, like the two trawlers the other day and there were some strange antics going on aboard.

There are some strange things happening out at sea these days.

people on bench cabanon vauban pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022And whatever it was that they were doing, they had an audience watching them.

Down on the bench by the cabanon vauban this afternoon we had another group of people enjoying the sun and whatever the spectacle was out there with those two boats.

And no dog – or polar bear – to disturb the peace either today.

But I have things to do, places to go, people to see, so I headed off towards the port on the path on the other side of the headland to see what was happening over there.

cabin cruisers baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022There was no change whatever either in the chantier naval or over at the ferry terminal since we last looked.

But there was some water in the inner harbour and there was a small cabin cruiser on its way into port. Presumably the larger one is waiting for a bit more water to come in.

Back here there was football on the Internet. Haverfordwest County v Connah’s Quay Nomads.

And what a match this was. The first shot on target was on 32 minutes and the second shot on target was at 51 minutes. We had a brief flurry of action for 5 minutes immediately after than and then it was “as you were”.

The final score was 0-0 and believe me – both sides were lucky to get nil. After the exciting game we had last Friday night, this was a considerable let-down.

Tea was a burger on a bap, and then I came in here to write up my notes.

Having done that, I’ll have a play on the guitar and then go to bed. No lie-in tomorrow either. I’ve set the alarm as I have Day Two of my Welsh revision weekend. I suppose that if you throw enough of it at a wall, some of it might stick.

Monday 14th March 2022 – THERE HAS BEEN …

burnt out house rue du midi Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022… some rather bad news about the fire in the house in the Rue du Midi on Saturday evening.

Yesterday evening, the firemen finally worked their way through the rubble to the ground floor where they found the missing person. And as you might expect, they found him far too late to be of any use.

It’s a rather sombre note on which to start today’s journal entry, but I suppose that there are times when sombre notes will creep in to everything at some time or other. There but for the grace of God go we.

Wherever I went on my travels last night is something else completely. For the first time since I don’t know when, one of my young ladies put in an appearance – Zero, as it happens.

And do you know what? I can’t remember why she was there or what we did.

How disappointing is that?

Anyway, I’m sure that you are all dying to know about where I went last night

I started off at a well-known square in Paris – I can’t remember which one – and it had some kind of weird fence and turnstile arrangements to control the flow of pedestrians but that’s all that I remember about this.

And later I was with Zero , for the first time for years, and her father last night and I can’t remember very much of what it actually involved (and isn’t that a disaster?) with them, but it led to me thinking about going to buy a motorbike so maybe I could take Zero around on the back of it. I went into a shop in Hungerford Road Crewe that used to be an old Co-op but was now selling motorbikes. They had a couple of Kawasaki 414 bikes in there for sale but they were more expensive than I was planning to pay although they looked quite nice. I thought that maybe something like that would be quite interesting. I had a good look around their shop but they didn’t really have very much at all. They had a few cars outside of course but it was the motorbikes that were interesting me more because I could go into Stoke on Trent on a motorbike, leave it to be serviced, overhauled and MoT’d while I was at work during the day, that kind of thing and probably Zero would enjoy going for a ride around on the back of a motorbike every now and again but there was nothing there that I liked.

There was something else as well. I was leaving work so I wandered off down the maze of corridors following the yellow arrows and yellow tape as I usually did. At one point I took a turn and found that the yellow arrow didn’t actually go that way which surprised me because I was pretty sure that it was the route that I took all the time I went back and followed the yellow arrow and suddenly found myself in a completely different security room. There was no way out. There were all kinds of security guys in there doing things. In the end I turned round and found another door that took me out. I could see that I was in a completely different place outside than where I would normally be when I was leaving the building. There were a few other people whom I knew around there as well so I went over for a chat and told them about the changes. They couldn’t understand what was happening either. Some girl came along and joined in. She was saying that she was now one of those people whose salary was a secret but she didn’t agree with that because it creates distrust amongst all the other employees. Someone else turned up with 3 daughters. She was talking to 2 daughters about giving their names to someone else and preparing for Christmas but for one daughter it was too late that they didn’t have any of what it was they didn’t have. They didn’t say. Then a couple of others turned up. One of them had had a dramatic cut in the salary that he was receiving as a Life Insurance broker so he was trying to chivvy up all of his friends and contacts to do something about increasing their insurance cover so he could receive a higher commission to offset his decrease in salary.

In fact, all told it was rather a bad night, and for many reasons too. I was tossing and turning around in bed for much of it and that’s guaranteed to set me off on the wrong foot.

When the alarm went off at 06:00 it was a struggle to leave the bed but I did manage – only just – to leave the bed before the second alarm.

The radio programme was the task for this morning and despite a couple of breaks for coffee, breakfast and so on, by 10:45 it was finished. And in a major departure from usual procedure, I’ve reused a song that I first used 18 months ago, simply for the reason that it seemed to fit so well with what I was doing.

“I have been around the world looking for that woman-girl who knows love can endure. And it always will”. And in my case, it endured for all of three days, didn’t it?

There were several phone calls – some of them long-distance – that I had to make and that took me all the way up to lunchtime. And the net result of all of those phone calls was … errr … nothing.

After lunch I had a shower, set the washing machine off on its cycle (a clever washing machine, mine) and then went out for my physiotherapy session.

chant de sirenes joly france belle france port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022Of course, the first port of call when I’m on my way to town is to check the camera at the corner of the Boulevard Vaufleury and the Boulevard des 2E et 202E de Ligne where the viewpoint overlooks the Fish Processing Plant.

The tide is on its way in right now – not far enough for the gates to open to let the larger boats into the inner harbour, but far enough for the boats with a lighter draught to pull up at the quay here to unload.

The Chante des Sirènes is easily identifiable with its mermaid painted on the side in a kind of green stripe.

Moored up at the ferry terminal in the background are Belle France and one of the Joly France boats.

repairing roof rue lecampion Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022Down in the town I walked along the Rue Lecampion towards the centre.

There’s something going on with the roof of one of the houses here. There’s a cherry-picker and a couple of guys doing something with the roof and a scaffolding.

Leaving them to it, I wandered off up the road and to the physiotherapist. And I don’t know why, but I haven’t climbed up the Rue Couraye as easily as I did this afternoon for quite a long time.

The physiotherapist had me on the couch and massaged my knee with her machine, and then had me doing some exercises.

And to my surprise, it was my left knee, not my right knee, that was hurting by the time that I had finished.

On my way home I called in at the Carrefour to buy something to drink. I had a thirst that you could photograph.

cable laying rue lecampion Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022In the town centre we had some more excitement.

There were some guys laying a cable in the duct under the street. The had the manhole cover up and had surrounded the hole with cones. And so an elderly woman in a black car drove over the cover and almost ended up in the hole.

And then she had the nerve to bawl out the crew. Some people really are unbelievable. I shan’t repeat on here what the crew replied to the woman. My journal is intended for all of the family, not just the over-18s.

place general de gaulle Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022Another thing that noticed was that the kiddies’ roundabout has now gone.

The carnival season is now over here and all of the fairground rides have packed up and gone off to their next engagement wherever that might be and we’ll be back with peace and quiet again until Easter when there will be more crowds descending on the town.

Bringing more cases of the virus with them, no doubt. This kind of thing really depresses me, especially as I don’t have the means to fight it.

fire engines rue paul poirier Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022When I was up in the Rue des Juifs on my way into town the fire brigade was still there clearing up.

While I was in the town centre, they came through presumably on their way back to base. And it was extremely interesting watching them trying their best to negotiate the hole in the road.

And once they had gone, it was the turn of the school buses and that was even more interesting. The manhole covers and several cones took a right battering and there was what can best be described as “a frank exchange of views” between the drivers and the cabling crew.

repair facade rue georges clemenceau Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022While all of that was going on, I left them to it and wandered off down the Rue Paul Poirier.

The other day we saw them with a scaffolding outside one of the buildings in the Rue Georges Clemenceau and it had been intriguing me as to what they might be doing.

When I’d seen the carpenter’s van outside, I imagined that it might have been a roofing job but it actually looks as if they are working on the facade of the building. It could do with a good rendering and a new coat of paint.

ch933900 carteret port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022In the earlier photo of the boats in the harbour, I don’t know if you noticed a fishing boat that we haven’t seen before.

She was moored in the inner harbour with her crew working on the nets when I came back, and I could see her registration number from here.

It’s CH933900 – a number from this coast – and it’s so new that it’s not in the register that I have. But I was able to track her down from “other sources” and she’s called Carteret. She sails out of … errr … Barneville-Carteret.

She’s only 9 months old apparently and was built to replace a previous boat that was destroyed in a fire.

burnt out house rue du midi Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022On the way back, I could have a closer look at the burnt-out house now that the fire engines and the crowds have gone.

It’s not just the house and the one to the right of it that have been affected, the one to the left has been badly-affected too. You can see that much of the roof there has been burnt away too.

This is an appalling thing to have happened. Apart from the loss of life which is a tragedy, the loss and damage is considerable and there are many people in these three houses who have been badly affected.

beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022Before I went home, I went to look at the beach to see what was happening.

The tide is now well in and there’s not much beach down there to be on. It’s no surprise that I couldn’t see anyone wandering about.

As I was looking down there, one of my neighbours pulled up in her car. She’s had some bad news from her doctor about her health and she told me all about it. Of course I sympathised, but there isn’t much that I could do.

Back here I made a coffee, hung out the washing and then came here to spend an hour on the photos from the High Arctic in 2019.

Talking about that, it made me all nostalgic and it reminded me of a poem about which Alison and I had chatted the other day

“Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?


That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again. “

Poetry at school was mainly awful with all of these depressing war poets and all of that. The only bright spark amongst all of that which we learnt was A E Housman and “A Shropshire Lad” is one of my favourite works.

Had I been born 5 miles away from my actual place of birth, I would have been a Shropshire Lad myself.

But seriously, when Housman said “The happy highways where I went and cannot come again. “, I don’t think that he had Covid and World War in mind. We won’t be going anywhere for a while yet.

In another mad fit of excitement I took out about half a ton of paper to the waste bin and then spent half an hour playing guitar. The first time that I enjoyed myself with the guitar since the summer. These pills must be working somehow.

Tea was a curry of leftovers and then I had to fight the good fight on the Internet. A discussion group of which I’m a member has become a very contentious place since War broke out and the Moderator was overwhelmed. She called for another volunteer and so I responded.

And tonight I’ve been dealing with a flame war – just like the “Good Old Days” on “First Class” – pulling warring factions apart, sending a couple of people to the naughty corner and … errr … “saying goodbye” to a couple of them. I’m surprised that I had time to write up my notes.

But now that they are done, much later than usual, I’m off to bed. I’ve a Welsh lesson tomorrow and I need to be on form.

Saturday 12th March 2022 – AS BARRY HAY …

… once famously said at a concert that I witnessed at Scheveningen in 1993, “there’s one thing that I gotta tell you, man, and that it’s good to be back home”

And he’s dead right too.

And I’ll tell you something else for nothing as well in that in the past I’ve been happy to stay out for as long as possible and even longer, but this little apartment perched on my rock surrounded on three sides by the sea is the first ever place where I’ve been keen to return.

Anyway, I digress.

When the alarm went off at 05:30 this morning I was already up and about. Having sleep issues can sometimes be an advantage.

It didn’t take long for me to make myself ready to leave either.

martelarenplein gare de Leuven railway station Belgium Eric Hall photo March 2022Down at the Martelarenplein – the Square of the Martyrs – now that they have almost finished the resurfacing after all these years there’s a really beautiful view of the railway station.

It looks absolutely magnificent lit up like this, with the modern trainshed illuminated behind it. The modern bus station to the left is a disaster and the least that is said about that the better.

The story behind the Martelarenplein is that it relates to the events of August 1914 when the Germans, in a fit of rage, totally destroyed the city and reduced it to rubble.

Hundreds of civilians were caught up in the orgy of destruction and massacred, or later killed in reprisals for what the Germans considered to be acts of terrorism – events that have a parallel with events that are taking place elsewhere in Europe even as I write this.

It totally dismays me that after all of the destruction that has taken place over the last 108 years, some insane madman is doing exactly the same thing and that we as ordinary civilians are powerless to prevent it.

537 am96 electric multiple unit gare du midi brussels Belgium Eric Hall photo March 2022With my early start, never mind the 06:33, the 06:14 was in the station when I arrived and I had time to leap aboard.

The train was the one that goes to De Panne and is made up of an AM96 unit, one of the ones with the tilting cab so that passengers can walk through when another trainset is coupled up.

There was a moment of panic when my telephone told me that I didn’t have a ticket. It seems that I’d been disconnected from the SNCB website. And so I switched my phone back on and for some reason it wouldn’t accept my e-mail address.

Just as well that no-one came to check my ticket.

TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt 4538 PBA gare du midi brussels Belgium Eric Hall photo March 2022When I arrived at Brussels-Midi I went into Carrefour to grab some bread for breakfast, and then went to hunt down my train.

It was already in the station and to my surprise we were even allowed to board. It’s one of the old TGV Reseau 38000 Paris-Brussels-Amsterdam trainsets and it was absolutely crowded. There wasn’t a spare seat anywhere.

Once I’d found my seat, I spent the journey transcribing the dictaphone notes for the last few days. And I’d actually done half of them by the time that we arrived at Paris.

Bang on time too, which was nice, and I didn’t have to wait too long for a metro. As a result I was out of the underground and walking down the road in the open air towards the Gare Montparnasse in quite good time.

And aren’t I glad that I found this easy, comfortable way in the fresh air from the metro station to the railway station.

With an hour or so to wait for my train, I treated myself to a coffee and a nice relax while I waited for things to happen.

84566 gec alstom regiolis gare montparnasse paris france Eric Hall photo March 2022No rpizes for guessing which one is my train.

It’s one of the GEC Alstom Regiolis trainsets that we always have. It was just a single 6-car trainset today and it was, like the TGV, packed out. No spare seats at all and I had a companion as far as Argentan.

Despite the abominable state of the track that had me thrown from side to side and made me realise why I never write anything while I’m travelling this route, I did manage to finish my dictaphone notes and I can tell you where I went during the night.

We were on a spacecraft last night. We’d started off with an equal number of each sex but many of the men had been killed when they’d landed on a foreign planet. Now there was just one man in charge and the rest were women and children. The children were gradually ageing and becoming young people. I was on board and we were still landing on strange places an being attacked by the local inhabitants and having to quickly close the door and scramble away. We landed on some kind of mountain and the guy said that he wanted to go to some kind of casino that night. A couple of us went for a walk around and we came to some kind of precipice where we could see straight down many, many, many thousands of miles below us a town that someone pointed out to us and said that it was Pompeii which was where this casino was. There was a huge, enormous palace construction somewhere that we could see and the person with us said that that was the palace of the Borgias. There had been some kind of incident with a loaf of bread as well that had been badly burnt on one end. I had that with me and I cut away the burnt end and I had both pieces in my hand. Then we went back to the spacecraft. When we went round a corner on this rocky path there was a girl, probably about 9, with blonde hair sitting there. She panicked when she saw us and couldn’t move. She had a cat with her. I tried to talk to this girl but of course she didn’t understand anything that I was saying so I started to stroke her cat. After a couple of times her cat started to respond to the stroking. I thought that if I managed to win over the cat I might win over the girl and we could rescue her and take her away in our spacecraft.

Later on we were out around Nantwich last night. We’d come down the Middlewich Road towards the Barony and turned right towards Chester when a strange machine went past. It had four huge wheels and it looked as if they had fish hook fastened to them. We could see what it was doing, that the fishhooks were digging into the ground as the wheels spun so that it go go past in all kinds of soggy and wet and muddy ground. It had a flat frame and someone was sitting on it working a couple of levers with handles and these wheels were really enormous, 4 of them, but very flimsy construction, very thin. We all made a few comment about that Somehow we all ended up in Crewe, near where the old Earl of Crewe used to be. There was some kind of discussion about Doctor Watson who had developed some kind of process that made eyebrows for children’s toys. He was talking about the method that he was using, that sounded quite logical in the dream but I can’t remember it. Sherlock Holmes had given him some advice and charged 2 guineas for the advice that he’d been given but Watson considered that it was really good advice and worth every penny because that was what made the difference between being good and being really excellent

A letter arrived for me from a guy whose surname was Ralf. I knew immediately what it was and I opened it. It was a time sheet and a cheque because I’d taken a lorry and a tanker for him overnight somewhere or other and that was my salary. It was the first-ever payment that I’d had for driving a lorry and that meant that I was a professional HGV driver. My father saw it but he didn’t think that it was enough so he telephoned this guy to tell him off. I had to wrestle the phone from him and tell Ralf to take no notice because I reckoned that it was OK and I wanted to drive for him again in situations like that. I was quite happy. He asked how it went and I said that we went along at a steady speed between 60 and 60 mph. Everyone else was going past me but the lorry was running so smoothly at that speed that I thought that I’d leave it there Everything else had gone fine and because I’d done it in the evening and overnight there was no traffic about so it wasn’t as if I was panicking or anything like that in traffic queues and so on. I quite enjoyed the experience. We chatted about a few other firms that we knew and seen on our travels and by the time the phone call finished I hoped that I’d made a good impression that he might call for me again if he had any more overnight jobs where he couldn’t find a driver.

We arrived at Granville bang on time and then, having called in at Carrefour for my mushrooms, I began the long, weary trudge back home – the trudge that is more than enough to finish me off.

And for some reason, my suitcase seems to weigh three times as much as it usually does. Never mind the apples that I brought back – I must have put the tree in as well.

bad parking rue des juifs Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022Regular readers of this rubbish that pathetic parking used to be a habitual feature of these pages, but I’m as fed up of talking about it as you probably are of reading about it.

However, sometimes the pathetic parking can’t be ignored, and this one here in the Rue des Juifs is one of those.

The reason why is that this is of course, as I have said before, a service bus route and there’s no conceivable possibility that an 8’6″ single decker service bus with an overhang front and rear can pass through that gap there.

But what does that matter to this delivery driver as long as he doesn’t have to walk more than two feet to deliver whatever it is that he’s delivering?

bicycle shelter place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022One final photo to take before I stagger into my apartment.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we saw them erect a bike shed in the Place d’Armes and then dismantle part of it again. So while I was away in Leuven they have come back and finished it again.

The next photo of it that I will take will be when someone will leave a bike in it – unless I happen to catch some goings-on behind of of the type that used to go on behind the bike sheds that we had at school.

But those photos will only be available in a plain brown envelope.

Back here I made myself a coffee and when I’d finished drinking it I started to back up the big computer with the files off the laptop that i’d created or edited while I was away.

And it will come as no surprise to anyone to hear that I crashed out for half an hour too. You’ve probably already noticed that I didn’t have my customary half-hour here and there on the way home.

Tea was the burger that I didn’t eat last night in Leuven, being out with Alison again. And they are quite delicious.

So now I’m going to relax for a while before I go to bed. I’ve done enough today and I think that I’ve earned my lie-in tomorrow. As long as I don’t have another ‘phone call when i’m trying to sleep.

Wednesday 9th March 2022 – I HAD A STROKE …

… of luck this morning.

There I was going down the stairs towards the front door when out of the lift came one of my neighbours.

“Are you off to Belgium?” she asked
“Yes I am” I replied
“Come with me” she said.

She was on her way to work so she took me and threw me out about 200 metres from the station and you’ve no idea how much I appreciated it.

That’s because I’d had a really bad night. I hadn’t taken one of those pills before I went to bed and I don’t know whether that’s anything to do with it, but it took an age to go off to sleep and then I awoke again at 04:30 and that was that.

Despite trying my best, I couldn’t go back to sleep and so when the alarm went off at 06:00 I was up and about quite easily.

By 07:30 I was ready to leave so I loitered around until 08:00 and then went off out where I bumped into my neighbour.

concrete pad gare de Granville railway station Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022Just or a change, I was at the station at 08:10.

That gave me plenty of time to have a look around to see what has been going on here. And this concrete pad is certainly new

It’s taken over two or three spaces of the railway station car park and unless I’m mistaken, it’s the area where electric cars could be charged too. So if they have been removed, where will the electric cars be charged now?

That’s something that is causing me a little concern. There’s a commitment to phase out new fossil-fuelled cars over the next 15 years or so and so they need to think long and hard about the necessary infrastructure and to have it in place long before the cut-off date – not leave it until the last minute.

And to install a whole new system of wind and tidal power generation. The wind doesn’t stop blowing and the tides don’t stop changing at night when everyone is asleep in bed and not using power. There will be tons of energy available to charge up vehicles if they organise themselves.

mural gare de Granville railway station Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that when we were here last at the railway station they had a pile of scaffolding up inside the building.

Now that they have removed it, we can see what they were doing. We now have a lovely mural of Granville as it was in the days when we had wind-powered “Newfoundlanders” sailing out of the port to the Grand banks of Newfoundland for the cod.

“The cod were in largeness and quantitie … that they stayed our ships” wrote Richard Hakluyt in the 16th Century when he was discussing voyages to “The New World” that went via Newfoundland.

But that was a long time ago.

84567 gec alstom regiolis gare de Granville railway station Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022For even more of a change, the train was already in the platform so I took my seat quite quickly.

You might be thinking that that means that the train started off bang on time, but in actual fact we were 5 minutes late leaving.

The train was packed and I had a rather irritable neighbour so while I was able to update the laptop, I wasn’t able to do any work. I read a few theses about medieval castles in Cheshire instead.

By the time that we arrived in Paris we had made up a couple of minutes so I had time to pop into the ticket office at the Metro to buy another set of 10 tickets. I’m running rather low right now

225 TGV Reseau Duplex Gare du Nord Paris France Eric Hall photo March 2022Travelling to the Gare du Nord on the Metro was quite painless – especially since I’ve found my short-cut in the open air.

My train to Lille – Flandres was already in. It is, as you might expect, one of the TGV “Reseau Duplex” double-deckers. Old and showing its age but quick and reasonably comfortable.

As usual we weren’t allowed to board it. There’s an 8-car trainset that comes in later and couples up to the rear of this trainset and then all 16 cars go back to Lille. We have to wait until it’s all coupled up and ready to go before we can board it.

210 TGV Reseau Duplex gare de lille flandres lille France Eric Hall photo March 2022This is the power car of the second trainset, photographed at Lille Flandres as I was leaving the station.

Our train was a few minutes late leaving, like the one from Granville, but that didn’t matter so much as there was plenty of time to walk across the city from Lille-Flandres to the Lille-Europe railway station.

There was even time to find a quiet corner at Lille-Europe and eat my lunchtime sandwiches before boarding my train. But I had to keep an eye out for the railway police who were cautioning people for not wearing a mask. And it’s difficult to eat your butties whilst wearing a mask.

TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt 4525 PBA gare du midi bruxelles belgium Eric Hall photo March 2022When I descended to the platform, the train was already in. It’s one of the PBA – Paris-Brussels-Amsterdam trainsets on which we travel quite frequently.

For reasons that I don’t quite understand, it waits here for about 20 minutes before departing. It’s more-than-likely due to the timing of the various connections that it makes with trains along its route.

And it was packed too and someone had taken my seat which was a shame, for I had rather looked forward to being out of my brain on the 5/15. I ended up sitting elsewhere, hemmed in and once more unable to do any work. I listened to “Colosseum Live” on the phone instead.

2730 class 27 electric locomotive gare de Leuven railway station Belgium Eric Hall photo March 2022At Brussels-Midi there was a train to Leuven already so I didn’t have to hang around waiting.

Running (as best as I could) down the concourse I leapt aboard with no problems and settled down for the journey to Leuven.

When we arrived, I nipped down to the head of the train to see what was pulling us along. It’s one of the old Class 27 electric locomotives and we’ve had a few of these just recently.

Considering that they must be getting on for 40 years old, they are still clocking up the miles on mainline services with little sign of slowing down.

At the back of the station is the little supermarket so I went there and bought the bread, vegan margarine and stuff to drink. It saves on the weight that I have to carry back from the big supermarket later this evening.

martelarenplein Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo March 2022Now here’s a thing!

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that for the last however-many years we’ve seen (or not seen, as they case may be) the Martelarenplein, the Square of the Martyrs, all fenced off and covered while they have been renovating it.

Today though, apart from just one small area, all of the fencing has been removed and we can actually walk across the square if we choose to do so.

Not for me right now though. I’m tired and exhausted and and I can’t wait to find my way to my little room.

And once more I’m up a couple of flights of stairs and that’s killing me. Luckily the manager saw me struggling up the stairs so that might hopefully mean a change of room in the future.

Despite a nice hot coffee, I crashed out definitively, and for a good half-hour too.

electric three wheeled vehicle Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo March 2022You’ve no idea just how much difficulty I had trying to rouse myself to go to the shops for food.

Nevertheless, I’m glad that I did because I encountered this strange machine. It’s a three-wheeler and it’s probably electric because it was quite silent. But whatever it is, it was quite interesting to say the least.

At the supermarket I don’t know what happened there but the shopping bill was much less than it usually is. I don’t reckon that I bought any less than I usually do.

At some point I managed to find the time to transcribe the dictaphone notes. Last night started with a family thing again with my sister and her first husband. It was probably 01:00 and they were thinking about going to bed and I had all of my paperwork to do which involved those two. I had to set the time on Big Ben and a few other things too but I kept on having trouble seeing because the lights on this big tower clock were so dim that I couldn’t actually see how I was setting it. Occasionally it would all light up bright and I’d see that I’d done in incorrectly and had to go back but to be very careful not to wipe off everything that I had done so far – just go back 1 or 2 steps and start on. By now of course it was daylight. I could easily see what was happening and there were all kinds of things going on on this clock face – people laughing and cheering at it. In the end I had to set it by some kind of analogue means moving the hands because I couldn’t make it go correctly by doing it digitally. In the end I managed it but by now it was 06:40 and broad daylight. I had to be up at 10:00 and they had to be up earlier than that. In the end I said that I was going to bed. My sister’s husband said that he was going to lie in in the morning because he was exhausted. I thought “how does he think that I feel?”. On the way back they were rationing out some things for issue and showing me some kind of drink made by a well-known pop manufacturer in a very distinctive bottle. They said that last tie they had issued this it was 17 shillings and so many pence but now it’s just 4.5 pence and they can’t understand what has happened. I asked if it was generic stuff. They replied that it was so I replied that maybe the patent has expired so now it’s being cloned or something but they couldn’t seem to understand. Neither could I but I didn’t really want to because I was so tired

Later, I was in backwoods Canada or backwoods USA sometime in the 50s or 60s judging by the cars that were driving around. I was writing up someone’s memoirs from a set of old war letters, something like that. I’d gone to this house ad he’d let me have all of this communication and I was going through it making notes etc. Gradually one of two other people had let me have their stuff as well. The first guy was concerned that this was going to slow me down doing other people’s stuff as well but I explained that it was all part of the same thing. They gave me a time and said that I had to be finished by something like 18:15. He thought that time was dragging on but I said that I’d be back tomorrow and that seemed to be OK. Various people came to see me and talk to me about everything while I was there making all of these notes and what had happened in the past. It gradually worked out that I was writing stuff about current events as well for a more immediate publication. This was something that concerned all of the people in this area. But all of the cars were fantastic. Someone was driving a pickup where instead of having the pickup bed behind him it was something like an enormous American saloon convertible thing with just 1 seat for the person driving it and the pickup bed was at the side where the passenger would sit. There were all these kind of weird machines that looked like something out of the 50s and 60s

And then I was with Claude and Françoise last night in the Auvergne. They owed me some money and I had a few IOUs and we were settling up. While I was there I showed them how many US dollars I had. I explained about the time that I had to use the toilet in a cafe and I didn’t have any money to go in so I had to write out an IOU. I told them about a trip that I’d made to the USA with 2 girls. We’d roamed around the Midwest in a big American car which was a small Opel saloon from the late 60s, a type 1. On one occasion I’m not quite sure what had happened but these girls must have been in their night clothes in this diner. They had gone to the toilet to have a wash and brush-up but they came out in their night clothes as well. I asked what was going on so they said that they were going back to the car to change. I asked why they hadn’t taken their clothes into the ladies toilets and changed in there instead of doing it on the car park of this diner

Now that I’ve had tea I’m off to bed. I know that it’s early but I’m exhausted and I’ve almost fallen asleep twice. Hospital tomorrow so I’m lying in with no alarm.

After last night’s disaster, I need all the beauty sleep that I can get.

Saturday 5th March 2022 – WHILE YOU ADMIRE …

demonstration manifestation ukraine place charles de gaulle Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022… a few photos of the 120-odd people who turned up spontaneously outside the Mairie in Granville at midday for an impromptu show of support for Ukraine, I’ll tell you about my really miserable night last night.

And when I say “miserable” I really DO mean “miserable” because last night, in a sleep that went on theoretically for just a little over 8 hours, there were no fewer than 14 entries on the dictaphone and that must be something of a record in anyone’s language.

And so it will be no surprise to anyone to learn that when I awoke this morning with the alarm I was thoroughly, completely and absolutely overwhelmed with fatigue.

demonstration manifestation ukraine place charles de gaulle Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022Although it wasn’t until very much later that I transcribed the dicatphone notes, it’s probably a good idea if I insert them here so that we can keep things in order.

Last night I was standing up but suddenly I fell forward and knocked over this tripod that had some kind of equipment on it like camera equipment or dictaphone equipment. Then I realised that I was wearing a soldier’s uniform and I’d been arrested or captured, something like that

And then there was something about a cucumber rolling around in the bed and I’ve no idea at all what that was all about.

demonstration manifestation ukraine place charles de gaulle Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022And then later on I was out with a friend of mine from Brussels. We’d started off at work – we were working together – and then we decided that we would go for a walk. There’s a bride being married in a couple of days and she was having an exhibition so off we went. We had a lengthy heart-to-heart chat about all kinds of things that had happened between us 20 years ago. It was an extremely intimate discussion. She ended up saying “if only you hadn’t been married, if only you hadn’t been middle-aged” etc. It was a really deep discussion. The bride had settled herself down so we decided that we would go and look. I knew that there was a phrase that you had to use but I couldn’t remember what it was. We walked past this tent and a little head popped out – a little girl. I said “cuckoo, are you getting married?” and she blushed and went back, stuck her head back inside. I could see inside that the bride was asleep in the corner of the tent and there were 3 goats in there as well. I was trying to work out the ritual nature of all of this.

demonstration manifestation ukraine place charles de gaulle Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022I actually missed out a few things in that story about my friend in Brussels. I can’t remember who I was with at first but we were coming in late for work and we heard people talking about the “Naz” department store. I arrived at work and asked someone what had happened about the department store. They replied that it had fallen down. I asked if it was any relation to the fire a few days ago somewhere. They said “no”. This guy was very interested in telling me so much more about so many different things but I wasn’t interested in hearing them. On my way back to my desk with whoever it was I said that we really need to be in work earlier because we are pushing the boundaries and we need to do better than this and make every effort to arrive at work earlier. When I was walking with my friend we could see in the distance a load of white smoke that might either have been from the collapse of “Naz” or whatever it was called or else the remains of this big fire

demonstration manifestation ukraine place charles de gaulle Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022. Back at home later I was talking to my mother and one of my sisters. I said where I’d been and that many years ago when my blog was in hiatus I used to read books and I’d underline or highlight phrases in books that actually meant something. When I’d been writing my blog subsequently and re-read one of these books and came to a phrase that I’d noted, I’d mentioned it in relation to her. She’s read my blog and seen these references etc but was still interested in coming out with me for a chat. I thought “well, there’s hope yet, isn’t there?”

So there were pirates who stopped a boat and they put everyone ashore. There was a flag that they were flying that had five rings on it like the Olympic flag. I had no idea to engage in this fight so I didn’t go but they swarmed onto this other boat and started hacking the other defenders about to see whether it was going to take them

demonstration manifestation ukraine place charles de gaulle Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022And here I am doing it again – dictating a dream when I have no dictaphone with me. I was on a boat somewhere in the Indian or South Pacific Ocean and I was talking about the time that I’d been on a voyage of discovery with my Belgian friend – and fell asleep again in the middle of it – but basically what this was about was something about me being there and maybe taking a boat to Japan and back to the USA. There was a lot more to it than this but unfortunately I can’t remember anything and that’s really disappointing.

And later again I was out on the Pacific on yet another ocean liner with someone else when the subject of this girl in Belgium came up again but I don’t know where it went from here. But how many times last night was it that she put in an appearance?

demonstration manifestation ukraine place charles de gaulle Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022Next time I was in the American cavalry in a dark-blue uniform. There was a person of colour in the troop. We came across this girl and noticed her bounty of seventeen dollars which we thought was quite a lot for her seeing as she was an Indian so we resolved to kill her. She was killed in the struggle but handed her jacket all the same to create an entry to receive this money

And yet again dictating in my sleep but it was one on those things where the ones I was with would go and sort out some enemy checks or something like that so we set off in a car and drove. As we drove around the headland we saw the ruins of a castle across a bay that looked very close. We suddenly realised that we had gone within earshot of these particular people and so we’d better not say any more in case they overheard us.

demonstration manifestation ukraine place charles de gaulle Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022I was at University last night waiting for morning classes to start and I’d been talking to Rosemary on the ‘phone and I said something like “why don’t you come up?”. When I finished I went back into the classroom and took my seat but suddenly Rosemary turned up. I had to go out to see her and talk to her. I sent her off to the cafeteria because our lecture was about to begin. Back in there the cat was on the windowsill so I went to stroke it. Someone said “that’s my cat” but I said that anyone could stroke it as far as I’m concerned. I found that someone else had taken my seat so I had to look for another empty one. Then I had to go through my timetable to find out what lessons I had for the rest of the week so I could go down when this one finished and talk to Rosemary. There were a couple of conversation lessons I couldn’t miss and one or two other things but there was still a fair amount of time so I had to sit down and think about making a plan that I could take to Rosemary in 40 minutes when this lecture finished.

beach rue ru nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022After the medication and checking my mails and messages (and having a little relax too) I set off to go into town to do a little shopping. I need some mushrooms for the pizza tomorrow and also a baguette for my Saturday treat.

As usual, I went off to have a look at the beach to see what might have been going on down there today. And one look at what is supposed to be the beach will tell you that there wasn’t anything whatever going on down there right now.

And for an obvious reason too. The tide is right in today at probably its fullest extent and that’s put a stop to everything. You can see now how it’s possible for people to be cut off from the steps.

yachts baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022As usual, I was also looking out to sea to see what I could see.

Right out on the horizon in the Baie de Granville are a couple of yachts. At least, one of them is a yacht and I’m not quite sure what the other one is.

As you can see, it’s a beautiful day out there this morning but there’s plenty of haze around farther out and the Channel Islands are obscured which is a shame. I was hoping that we might have had a really good view of St Helier today.

And that reminds me – the ferry service is supposed to be starting up some time soon. I must make further enquiries.

cabin cruiser marker light baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022One thing that regular readers of this rubbish might recall is that a few days ago we say the marker on the rocks just off the headland here right out of the water.

Today of course, it’s a completely different story. You can see that it’s almost submerged and that will give you a really good idea of how high the tide is. As I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … we have some of the highest tides in Europe just here.

Of course, with the tide being as it is, the harbour gates will have been open for quite a while and that will account for the yachts, and also for the cabin cruiser that’s out there. At first I thought that it might be fishing but judging by its wake it’s in rather a hurry and presumably heading out to the Ile de Chausey.

pointe de grouin brittany coast Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022The view out to sea might have been obscured by haze this morning but the view along the coast was one of the best that we have ever had.

Although I had to enhance this photograph quite considerably, it shows a really good view of the lighthouse at the Pointe de Grouin on the headland at the entrance to the bay on the Brittany side.

That’s of course where we spent our first night when we were out and about on the Spirit of Conrad in summer 2020.

It was here that I had a ‘phone call about the Demonstration at lunchtime so I abandoned my shopping trip and headed home for a shower and clean-up and to find some blue and yellow clothes.

demonstration manifestation ukraine place charles de gaulle Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022On leaving the apartment I’m grabbed my ZOOM H8 to record whatever might be happening.

There wasn’t enough time to check the batteries – I use it on the mains here – and so it goes without saying that the batteries were flat. And so were the spare ones too.

But anyway the talk that we were given only lasted for a couple of minutes and that was that. I wandered around taking a few photos until everyone dispersed.

A couple of friends from the radio were here so we all went for a coffee and a chat.

On the way home I popped into Carrefour for the mushrooms and baguette and then crawled slowly (and it was slowly too because I wasn’t feeling too good after my bad night) back home where I had lunch.

This afternoon was pretty slow. Transcribing all of the dictaphone notes took an enormous amount of time and there was also at least an hour and a half when I crashed out completely, absolutely and definitely.

There was football too on the internet – Penybont v Caernarfon. Penybont hit the woodwork twice, had a stonewall penalty appeal turned down, had about 75% of the play and somehow managed to lose 3-0 in a match that they should have won at a canter.

Tea tonight was a couple of those small breaded quorn fillets with potatoes and veg and it was delicious.

This evening, something surprising has happened. Someone from Ottawa has contacted me and asked to be my “friend” on my social network.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I have plenty of family and friends in Ottawa. There are also plenty of people who have been with me on board THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR and of course a certain young lady who has accompanied me on several of my nocturnal voyages in the past.

Consequently I was intrigued to see who it might be and how I might know them.

It turns out that it’s someone who has found me “by accident” and wants me ” to always be open, honest and having free speech about everything, share your worries, your children and everything be that support group for me as I will for you, plan together, play together and treat me like I mean something to you, you don’t have to sugar coat anything, as adults, we can handle things. I expect you to treat me right, be truthful, and honest with me because I do believe in gospel truth and that is what I want. I want to feel true love and happiness with you and share everything with you based on love and understanding.”

She will apparently “climb the highest mountains just to be with the one i love”.

So while you are all reading this, I’ll be waiting for the message when she will ask me to send her the air fare so that she can come to join me.

Monday 14th February 2022 – HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY …

… to everyone who has not been wished a Happy Valentine’s Day by anyone else today. I didn’t even have a Valentine’s wish from any of my virtual travelling companions either which was rather depressing. You can rest assured that I wished all of them a Happy Valentine.

It’s the only available female company that I can find these days. Times are definitely hard.

What a state to be in, hey?

Last night although I was tired, I couldn’t go to sleep and it wasn’t until about midnight or thereabouts that I finally crawled into bed.

And there I stayed until about 09:30. I’d been awake for an hour or so before that and I couldn’t go back to sleep so in the end I crawled back out again. So much for my idea of staying in bed until I awoke.

Well, I suppose that I actually did really, but that wasn’t quite what I meant.

After the medication I spent much of the morning slowly working through the notes of where I’d been during the night. I was giving a language course last night on board a ship. One person was going to come along and join in. He hadn’t taken part in any of the others. I knew that someone had put a few notes about pronouns into the mailbox of the class so when the class assembled I rummaged through the mails, folders and files, everything that was there. I found this paper and gave it to him. I said that he needed to give it back to me after the class because I had to write it out properly, photocopy it and give it to everyone. Someone said “you are a one, aren’t you? Giving him a note that’s going to have to make him work down it sideways”. I rounded on them and said “I don’t really know if you understand how much I have to do for you and I’m busy co-ordinating all of this, busy writing a play for the office, busy with 4 or 5 other different things that I had on the go. And of course I have my normal work to do as well. If anyone would like to do any of this for me I’d be more than grateful for whatever assistance I could get”.

And later on we were in the USA heading north into Mexico, don’t ask me how, scrambling over the fields etc. We were saying that with the USA at war we would find the countryside so much emptier when we cross the border. We set off and scrambled through these rocks in these fields and when we came to a main road we had to hide behind a fence or wall until a car went past. Then another came past, travelling quite quickly through these bends but on its correct side of the road. Another car came the other way doing the same thing but this one was slightly over on the other side of the road. It hit the first car and spun it round. The driver of the second car tried to drive away but the one in the first car rammed him so that he couldn’t go. We ran over there to see what was happening and the driver of the car was someone we knew. I challenged him about trying to drive off. He said “you did the same thing once didn’t you?”. I replied that I hadn’t but what did that have to do with anything anyway. A big argument developed between the two of us. He finally calmed down so I went over to the Spanish guy in the other car to see what he was going to do now

There was a dance taking place in the town. A whole group of us went, mainly people like the friends of a girl whom I once knew in the Auvergne, dressed in a hippy-type of trendy clothes etc. I was just in my usual outfit but that brought a fit of derision from some people but I didn’t care – I was comfortable. Someone else turned up in a suit but he was mocked and told to go home and change. There was a big discussion about labels being worn on your clothes etc. Gradually the crowd built up and more and more strange people were coming. There was a girl tied to a post in the town centre. I asked her what was going on. She replied that it was some kind of joke. I asked if she saw the funny side of it and she replied “yes” so I left her to it. It was a really, really strange gathering, all kinds of old hippy-type vehicles, vans and so on around there. Whilst I didn’t mind everything like that and it’s a really good idea to go out once in a while it wasn’t my usual way of enjoying myself but I thought that I’d give it a go, see what happens and see who I met.

There was some French village and the Germans had been. They had set up a machine gun post and killed quite a few of the villagers. There was no doubt that they would come back again so we were busy making sure that there was nothing with which they could set up their post and generally disrupt what we could so that they wouldn’t have an easy time of it. Sure enough they came, engaged in a looting party keen to grab hold of what they could. Someone took a fancy to a kind-of desktop lathe. He was wrenching at it, trying to pull it off its stand, everything like that so in the end I went over there and showed him how to dismantle it, making sure that I drained out all of the oil so that it wouldn’t work. Then I gave him a huge mouthful about how incompetent he was, going to wreck everything and he had no idea. His commandant was standing by so I made a few remarks to the commandant about his methods as well. I just made life extremely unpleasant for this particular German soldier.

So none of my special visitors last night to wish me a Happy Valentine.

There was time for a shower and a weigh-in before lunch. My TRAVERSÉE DE PARIS, even without Bourvil to carry my suitcase, didn’t result in any loss of weight.

Now it seems that I have grounded out. 9 kilos over the weight that I was when I was swanning around the States of North-West USA and how I wish that I could be at that weight again. But I wouldn’t see that again even if someone were to lend me a telescope.

After lunch it was time to go tot he physiotherapist and see what she was going to do to me today.

trawler naabsa port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022

So as usual I stopped at the viewpoint on the corner of the Boulevard Vaufleury and the Boulevard des 2E et 202E de Ligne to test the camera, and there was an ideal subkect over there against the far wall.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall having seen this trawler on several occasions but woe is me! Her name has slipped right off the tip of my tongue.

But there she is in a NAABSA (Not Always Afloat But Safely Aground) position – or, at least, she must have been earlier – by the steps where the crew can go up and come down again. I suppose that she was late in earlier and missed the opening time for the harbour gates.

freight on quayside port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022Further on down the hill in the Rue des Juifs I stopped to see what was happening in the inner harbour.

Down there on the quayside is a pile of freight. There’s a load of freight that I can’t recognise, stacked up on racks over there, and there’s also a swimming pool.

That would seem to tell me that Normandy Trader is coming in quite soon to pick it up. I know that they have the contract for delivering the swimming pools.

It won’t be the Normandy Warrior, her sister ship, because she’s currently aground in the Channel Islands, having something of a refit.

chausiaise belle france joly france port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022Not long before I went away I posted a photo of Chausiaise, Belle France and the newer of the two Joly France boats tied up together at the quayside.

By the looks of things, they haven’t moved since we saw them last. They are still down there. Presumably the older Joly France boat is out somewhere at sea because she wasn’t tied up at the ferry terminal as far as I could see.

Just by here is a ramp of four steps and that’s where I test my knee to see how it’s doing, trying to climb up these steps. And there’s been a deterioration over the last 12 days or so. Not enough power in my right knee to lift myself up even one of the steps.

Climbing up the hill to the physiotherapist’s by the railway station without my luggage was much easier and I did it in one go. And most of the time she spent massaging my patella and she found a spot that hurt when she touched it – something that I hadn’t felt before.

Well, when I say that, after I broke my knee as a teenager it hurt really badly whenever anyone touched it anywhere and that lasted for a couple of years and I had to give up playing football for a while. But it slowly eased off and after a few years it stopped hurting.

Anyway, she’s asked me to take in my medical reports on Wednesday so she can see. She can’t prescribe any medication or anything but she can make recommendations and I have to see my doctor in a week or two’s time to have some more Aranesp.

That’s another thing that gets on my wick as well. Having to have a booster injection so I have the strength to go to the hospital.

On the way home I called in at the Carrefour and picked up some mushrooms and a pepper. I fancy a stuffed pepper for tea and the rest of the mushrooms will come in handy for a curry in midweek.

kiddies roundabout Place Général de Gaulle Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022You can tell that it’s still half-term somewhere in France right now.

The kiddies’ roundabout is still in place in the town centre. having had a closer look at it, I’m sure that it’s a lot smaller than it used to be when the Mairie became so excited about it.

The argument was that it was blocking the pavement and forcing pedestrians to walk in the road around it where they were at risk of being squidged by a passing bus or something.

With the cancellation of Carnaval this year, this is really the only vestige of anything that can be called “entertainment” right now in the town and that’s depressing in itself.

chant de sirenes port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022And so I trudged my weary way up the hill towards home and a nice hot coffee.

The tide had come in a lot further than it had earlier when I was on my way out and the first of the fishing boats has now come in and is waiting for the harbour gates to open.

You can tell which one this is because of the mermaid painted on her bow. She’s Chante de Sirenes – “Song of the Mermaids”.

Over to the left is another one but I can’t tell which one she is from here. And the one that we saw earlier is still over there against the wall and is now well afloat.

There were one or two more further out but I wasn’t going to wait for them. I wanted to go home.

beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022On the way back I went to have a look at the beach to see what was happening down there.

Not very much beach and I couldn’t see anyone down there making use of it. Hardly surprising because it was trying its best to rain while I was out there and I think that most people had more sense than being out there.

Back here I had a nice hot coffee and then regrettably I dozed off and that was that

Later on I went and made tea. Stuffed pepper with rice. And it was delicious as usual. I seem to have the knack pretty well these days about making those.

The plan was to go to bed early and have a decent sleep before my Welsh lesson tomorrow but I ended up repairing someone’s computer over the internet and that was certainly interesting.

But now that the “client” has entered into the BIOS and knows what to do, I’m going to bed. It always takes me a couple of days to recover from my journey and yesterday’s trip was more fraught than usual.

And then I have a radio programme to prepare. I can see it being really busy this week. So nothing new there then.

Saturday 5th February 2022 – WE’VE HAD A …

F-ZBQA Eurocopter EC 145 bunker pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022… hive of activity out here today, with tons of stuff going on throughout the day and I’ve no idea why.

It’s a Saturday morning and I’m walking to the shops in the town, so it’s no surprise that I stumbled across the helicopter on my way out this morning.

Regular readers of this rubbish will certainly remember what happened last time I walked into town on a Saturday morning and had a close encounter with the aforementioned. That’s something that I won’t forget in a hurry, and I’m sure that you won’t either.

assembly place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022It wasn’t just the helicopter either.

There was a group of people, some of whom in military dress uniform and carrying flags, congregating by a wall just here.

Something else that regular readers of this rubbish will recall is that I actually live in an old military barracks so seeing soldiers and ex-soldiers loitering around is something to which I’m accustomed.

But anyway, I digress. let’s go back to the very beginning and see if I can last out until the end.

Now here’s a surprise.

When I awoke this morning, it was 07:26 – 4 minutes before the alarm. And so in something of a wild fit of bravado, I hauled myself out of bed just before the alarm went off. And that’s not something that happens every day, is it?

Actually, it was too good an opportunity to miss and it will give me something to crow about until I hit the next disaster.

After the medication I checked the messages etc and then listened to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night. There was an army disputing the succession to the French throne or something. Someone who governed the centre had taken the initiative but had ended up being invaded by an army from somewhere else, a Duke, and they had had a airly inconclusive confrontation somewhere already at the south of Paris but now they were shaping up for a really important fight that would decide the future of the country, with an invasion or whatever it was. On eof the guys was facing them anyway. They were all organising their armies for this conclusive battle in order to square up and have a proper one this time.

A little later last night I was with TOTGA. The two of us were planning on going on holiday. There was a big meeting taking place about various trips going so we went along to listen to them. They asked if there were any questions. Someone asked “how do you go from Manchester to the airport?” – basic questions like that that people either know the answer to or they look on Google or something. In the end these questions were becoming rather simple. It suddenly came out that the guy was travelling from Stoke-on-Trent. I asked him if he lived there to which he replied “yes” so I told him to give me his ‘phone number and I’d ring him and he could ask me what he liked etc and I’d be able to tell him perhaps a lot better than he’d hear it in the middle of this meeting where he was getting on everyone’s nerves. There was a lot more to it than this but I can’t remember now.

And later again I was with Keith Emerson and Brian Davison of The Nice. I can’t remember very much about this except that Keith Emerson was knocked off his motorbike by a lorry at a roundabout. I can’t even remember whether he was hurt or not.

I did finally end up on board a ship last night. There were quite a few of us, but no-one we knew. It started off watched a TV programme about these boats that go down to the Antarctic with people on but there was no cabin accommodation or anything – you slept on deck so when there was a storm it was quite problematic. I remember thinking that I’ll tell Rosemary all about this and see if she wants to go. It wasn’t before long that I was on board one heading south. First, it started off that we were in London somewhere and had gone for a meal. There wasn’t a big choice of vegan or vegetarian restaurants. The one that we found was passable, I thought, nothing particular to write home about. A couple of other people were extremely disappointed about it and made something of a fuss to the waitress about what they considered to be the poor food and quality. She came over to me afterwards and asked if I wanted anything else. I was nice about the situation so she said that she would bring me a bowl of chips. By this time I was on the deck of this ship and after waiting many, many, many minutes a bowl of chips appeared so I ate them then went for a wander off around. I ended up below deck where a guy appeared with a bowl of chips. He said “I’ve been looking for you. Here are your chips” so I wondered whose chips they were that I’d eaten just now. He asked if they were OK. They were cold but I wasn’t really all that bothered so I ended up with a second bowl of cold salty chips while I was on board this ship heading south to the Antarctic in all kinds of weather.

To finish off I had to go to the Post Office to post a package. It was a lump of dough and by the time I reached the Post Office it was all soggy and wet. I was sure that the clerk was going to refuse it but she put it in a plastic bag for me. The address label was all manky and wet but she said “I’ll manage”. I went back off to work on board a ship. Someone asked if I had my work with me – my University stuff so I replied “no” thinking that they would just give me a course book to read. Instead, they gave me the entire unit stuff, videos, everything. They asked if that was OK and I replied “well basically it’s OK but I don’t know how on earth I’ll manage to carry all this back afterwards.

F-ZBQA Eurocopter EC 145 place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022By the time that I’d finished typing out all of that I was ready to go into town.

There had been a racket going on outside for a few minutes but I hadn’t paid too much attention to it, but as soon as I walked out of the front door of this building I was immediately confronted by the air-sea rescue helicopter.

He was hovering around down behind the College Malraux so I decided to head that way into town to see what was going on. You never know …

beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022One of the first things that I did once outside, and I’ve no idea why, was to go and have a look at the beach.

However, I may as well have saved the energy. The tide is all the way in right now so there was no beach for anyone to be on right now.

You can though see what I mean about people being down there when the tide is on its way in. It comes in quite quickly and goes all the way to the foot of the cliffs. That means that there is no-where for anyone to shelter.

Being cut off from the foot of the steps can cause all kinds of problems.

joly france ile de chausey baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022As usual, I’m also having a look around out to sea, one of the reasons being that occasionally we catch a glimpse of one of the massive super-ferries leaving St Malo for the UK.

Today though we couldn’t see one, but we did see a ferry of another type.

On her way out to the Ile de Chausey this morning was one of the Joly France ferries, taking advantage of the nice weather. And we can tell that it’s the older one of the two even at this distance because there is no “step” in the stern.

You can see how nice the weather is this morning too. We can see all of the colours on the island and the while houses stand out quite clearly against the rocks.

F-ZBQA Eurocopter EC 145 emergency services pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … Pointe du Roc, the helicopter is still perched on the big bunker here.

Not only is it surrounded by aircrew and rescue personnel, there’s an ambulance and several police cars in attendance. It looks as if there’s something serious going on.

Everyone seemed to be quite busy so I didn’t go over to interrupt them to find out what was going on. I’ll have to wait until tomorrow and see what’s in the newspaper, or else wait for Sue Grey to finish her report.

yacht baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022So leaving them to their own devices I wandered off down the steps to the path below.

There wasn’t anyone else down here at the cabanon vauban, but if there had been, they would have seen this yacht heading out to sea from the port de plaisance.

He, and the couple of others who were following him out, were having a nice day for it. There was plenty of sunshine, and enough wind to push them along nicely, although not too much to make it unpleasant.

My walk down into town was quite lonely. I went practically all the way without seeing another soul. I’ve no idea where everyone was.

chausiaise belle france joly france port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022They certainly weren’t all out at sea because apart from the one Joly France boat that we saw, everyone else was here at the suayside.

From left to right of course we have Chausiaise, the little freighter that goes out to the Ile de Chausey and, occasionally, to the Channel Islands as we saw the other day. And then the two other ferries.

In the middle is the very new Belle France that first showed her face in the port last year to help out with the summer traffic, and then to her right the newer of the two Joly France boats.

The other Joly France boat is of course on her way out to the Ile de Chausey.

concrete reinforcement matting double glazed windows port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022While I was here I had a look at the freight waiting on the quayside.

As well as those red plastic objects that we saw from a distance, we have some concrete reinforcement matting and a pile of double-glazed windows. They’ll need to be tied down correctly on their way across to Jersey just in case the wind gets up.

At Carrefour I bought my mushrooms, some specialty bread and a few other bits and pieces, and then had a wander back through the town centre on my way home. There wasn’t anything going on down there that caught my attention. In fact, I must have been in something or a daze.

assembly place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022Earlier on I posted a photo of an assembly of people here in the Place d’Armes in the courtyard of one of the other buildings.

Back here I stuck my head and the camera out of the window to take a photo and to see if I could hear what they were talking about.

From what I could gather, it was something to do with a handful of soldiers from one of the regiments based here who somewhere in North Africa held of an attack of several hundred “Arabs” (that was the phrase that the presenter used) over a period of several days.

It was in my mind to go out later this afternoon and see if the plaque on the wall behind him made any reference to the incident but I forgot. I’m not much good as a reporter, am I?

And while we’re on the subject, two things have occurred today in this respect.

  1. A journalist in the Grauniad this morning made a huge deal about going to SEE THE “DISAPPEARING HIGHWAY” IN NORTH CAROLINA. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we have done that trip, THE FIRST IN 2005 and THE SECOND IN 2017 to compare the differences so we beat this “scoop by the Grauniad by four and a half years.
  2. A French railway magazine of some description is to feature a series of articles highlighting the destruction, if not devastation, of the railway network in the Auvergne and their editorial team has found an article THAT I WROTE BACK IN 2008 that is relevant to their series, and has asked if they may include it in their magazine. It goes without saying … shameless self-publicist that I am.

Anyway, back here I had a coffee and something to eat to take me up to lunch while I sorted out a few things that needed doing – like preparing news articles for publication and that kind of thing.

After lunch I came here to carry on work but, regrettably, I couldn’t keep going. It wasn’t the same kind of crashing-out that it has been here and there just recently, but for all the good that I did, it may as well have been.

What’s even more depressing is reading back through all of the stuff that I wrote al those years ago and wishing that somehow, somewhere I could summon up the enthusiasm and energy to do it all again with the tons of stuff that’s built up over the years that hasn’t been touched.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022It was even difficult to summon up the energy and enthusiasm to go out for my afternoon walk. and I’m not sure why I wanted to go, having been out this morning for a good walk around.

Having been over to the beach this morning, only to find that there was no beach to go over to, I went again this afternoon at my usual time to see the lie of the land.

Plenty of beach down there right now of course, and plenty of people down there making the most of it. Several dozen at least.

And that’s not a surprise because it was actually such a nice afternoon. Not much wind, a nice blue sky. What more could any man require?

Except maybe TOTGA, Castor and Zero to share it with me of course. And then I wouldn’t know which way to turn, although I’m sure that I’d soon figure it out.

people on beach bouchots donville les bains Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022It wasn’t just down on the beach at the Rue du Nord where there were crowds either.

Out at Donville les bains they seemed to be just as busy. The bouchot stakes were exposed with the tide being so low so n the distance we could see the harvesting teams out there.

They would have to be careful too as there were crowds of people milling around on the beach, getting under the wheels of the tractors and the like.

For the benefit of our new readers, a serendipitous discovery made years and years ago was that shellfish were found growing on some anchor ropes. When they were sampled they were found to have an excellent taste with none of the grittiness that you associate with shellfish grown in the sand.

And so a business has sprung up here in the bay in various locations where stakes are planted in the sea with ropes slung between them for these shellfish, called bouchots to grow.

repairing medieval city wall place du marché aux chevaux Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022For a change, this afternoon I decided to go for a walk around the walls seeing as it’s been a few weeks since I went that way.

From somewhere I summoned up the energy to go down the steps to look at the hole in the wall to see what they had done with that. And by the looks of things, they are well on their way to finishing it.

It’s taken an enormous pile of stones, that don’t seem to match the rest of the stonework and that’s rather sad. I don’t think much of the concrete lintel either. When I was fitting concrete lintels in stone walls I’d set them back a few inches and find some nice flat stone to face them with to make it all look more traditional.

repairing medieval city wall place du marché aux chevaux Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022Up on top it’s looking something of a mess too.

They actually took that wall down to ground level and rebuilt it but at the moment it doesn’t look anything like it ought to do. Maybe when they repoint it, it’ll look much better but you can’t really see it very well with the scaffolding and the fencing in the way.

From there I followed the crowds (because crowds there were a-plenty) along the path underneath the walls. One of my neighbours was there too so we had a chat for five minutes and put the world to rights.

a href=”https://www.erichall.eu/images/2202/22020044.html”>red autogyro baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022While I was there, I was overflown by another light aeroplane from the airfield.

Today it’s the red powered hang-glider that’s going past. And he has a passenger too by the looks of things. Been for a spin around thr bay to take a few photos probably, and one of these days I’ll have to get out and do the same.

But not right now as I have too much to do. I carried on with my walk around the walls, far too close to the madding crowd for my comfort.

rue st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022On place that I wanted to visit was the Rue St Michel to eat some humble … “you?” – ed … pie.

Having complained bitterly about the state in which they left the surface, they came back a couple of weeks later and put the stone setts down to make it look much more like medieval.

They don’t have the curves sorted though. Medieval stone paving has nice symmetriical curves in it that looks really beautiful but they haven’t been able to recapture that here. It’s probably another one of these medieval skills that’s long-been lost, or else they won’t spend the money and the time in doing it correctly.

red autogyro baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022Walking back along the walls, the red powered hang-glider went past again.

By the looks of things, while I’ve been out he’s been back home, swapped passengers and come back out again. He must be keeping busy and that has to be good for business.

Having forgotten to look at the plaque as I said that I would, I came back home for my coffee and to attack another sound file to select the broadcastable bits. And it’s not easy, for various reasons.

But anyway, there’s just one sound file to select and then I can get off and assemble things for broadcasting.

Tea tonight was a stuffed pepper, seeing as there was a rather sad-looking pepper left and I’m off to Leuven on Wednesday. And now that I’ve finished my notes I’m off to bed.

Having had TOTGA visit me last night, I wonder who’ll pull the short straw tonight. I ought to promote a lottery, oughtn’t I?

Saturday 15th January 2022 – HERE I ALL AM …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

… that I want to be doing too often.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday 8th December 2021 – I WAS RIGHT …

replacing cobbles rue st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021… when I said the other day that maybe I was being rather too hasty with my vituperative comments about the surface of the Rue St Michel

Those big bags that we saw on the back of that pick-up yesterday were actually full of cobbles and then are all now dumped on the corner in the Rue de Cambernon. But several have actually made it up to the far end of the street.

If you look carefully at this photograph you’ll see that a pile of them have even been laid and the work is slowly progressing down the hill towards where I’m standing.

Mind you, it’ll take them a good few days to reach this end of the street. And then, I suppose, someone else will come along and dig it up for some other purpose.

After last night’s antics I needed someone to come along and dig me up out of bed when the alarm went off because firstly I was in bed late, not being tired earlier, and then I was awake after just about 4 hours of sleep and couldn’t go back to sleep until, as usual, about 5 minutes before the alarm went off.

Consequently I was staggering around for a good few minutes trying to gather my wits once I finally made it out of bed.

Once I’d had my medication and checked my mails and messages I went and edited the sound-file from Sunday morning. It was a mess as I expected, with pops and bangs everywhere, but I’ve managed to trim well over 40 minutes of sound down to half that – and there’s plenty more to go as well.

However I need to send it off to Laurent for a listen and for him to dictate some supplementary questions.

A propos of absolutely nothing, two of the interviewees started to talk about the Erasmus scheme and the ending of mutual recognition of qualifications and that will make a pretty good interview all on its own so I cut it out and filed it separately.

All of that took me right up to 18:20 this evening, but it was a job well-done.

There were the usual interruptions of course, one of which was for breakfast, and another was for a shower. And having weighed myself again, I’m down to my lowest weight since it piled back on after I stopped running. Those were the days, hey?

With a late lunch as well today, it was almost time to go straight out for my walk to the physiotherapist’s.

repairing medieval city wall place du marché aux chevaux Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021Seeing as I was a few minutes early today, I went to have a look at the repairs to the medieval city wall at the Place du Marché aux Chevaux.

First thing that I noticed was that they hadn’t re-erected the shelter that was blown down by Storm Arwen, the shelter that they have over their heads when they are pointing the wall, to stop objects from above falling on their heads.

But then by the looks of things, the pointing has hardly advanced at all since we saw it last. Mind you, they have had other things to worry about, like gale-force winds and the like. And this afternoon’s wind was nothing to be ashamed of either.

You have already seen the photo of the Rue St Michel so I pushed on and walked over the drawbridge into the Rue des Juifs.

marité chausiaise port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021The other day we saw a photo of all of the Ile de Chausey boats moored up in the inner harbour.

However today, there has been some shuffling around of the fleet. The Joly France ferry that was over on the far side of the harbour has now disappeared completely.

Chausiaise has also moved, but not as far. She’s now in front of Marité in the loading bay underneath the crane but I don’t think that all of that freight just there is for her.

As for the other two boats, they are still tied up here against the quayside right underneath where I’m standing.

site of christmas market place pelley le pleville Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021There’s quite a lot of activity going on down below too on the Place Pleville de Pelley.

That’s where the bar ephemère hangs out during the summer and is used as the boulodrome for the rest of the time, but today they are setting up some little wooden cabins there.

We’re going to be having a Christmas Fair, so I’m told, and that looks as if it’s it. It doesn’t look particularly impressive though.

Given half a chance I’d be in Aachen or Köln next weekend at a real Christmas Fair, but I’m going nowhere unnecessary while there’s all of this going on.

On the way up the hill I stopped at the Carrefour and bought a bunch of bananas. I’m running low on them and I can’t survive at all without bananas.

At the physiotherapist’s, she had me on the cross trainer again for 5 minutes and then more kinetic exercises, including throwing this ball about again. Today though, I don’t know what happened but I wasn’t feeling anything like as well as I have done this last couple of weeks – and that was nothing much to write home about was it?

ambulance rue couraye Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021As I stepped out of the physiotherapist’s, I was overtaken by an ambulance going down the hill at some speed.

There must be some kind of emergency somewhere for him to be driving like that with all of his lights flashing.

Having taken a photo I pushed on down the hill where I bumped into “Father Christmas” coming out of a shop. We had quite a chat about our interview the other day and he was quite impressed with how well it came out.

In the end, they didn’t do a bad job of it but it could have been ohhhh! So much better and I feel that an opportunity has been let slip here.

cherry picker fixing wreath to town hall place general de gaulle Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021There was more excitement going on when I arrived at the town centre.

There’s one of the Council’s cherry-pickers down there in the Place General de Gaulle and the gus in the nacelle are erecting some kind of Christmas wreath on the wall of the Mairie.

Not that I have any idea why they would be wanting to do that because putting it as high up as they seem to be doing, it’s not as if many people are going to notice it up there.

empty port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021By now we were having a really heavy hailstorm so I wrapped my rain jacket tighter around me and carried on through the town and up the hill.

The part of the port where the fishing boats tie up was strangely deserted this afternoon. Almost every boat was out at sea, and in this weather too. They must be expecting a bumper harvest this evening when they all come back on the tide.

When you think about it, it’s quite a heroic endeavour being a fisherman and since the demise of coal-mining in the West, it’s probably one of the most dangerous occupations going. On the other side of the Cotentin Peninsula a trawler with four people on board was lost at sea two nights ago.

beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021Despite the lousy weather right now, I went over to have my customary look at the beach.

As I expected, there was no-one down there at all right now. People have far more sense than to be out and about in all of this.

Back here I made myself a nice hot coffee and then carried on with editing this sound file. I was glad when I finished it too – at least this particular bit. There will be plenty more work to be done on it, and on the other sound files too that relate to this project.

And who knows? Maybe even one of my colleagues might contribute something to this project, but I’m not holding my breath.

Tea was the rest of last night’s curry and left-over curry is even more delicious the next day when all of the spices have marinaded deeper into the food.

So that’s enough for today. I’m off to bed. For the next two days I’m staying at home with no plans anywhere. So that’s the cue for Caliburn’s bits and pieces to be delivered to the parcels centre and for his new tyres to arrive, isn’t it?

Monday 29th November 2021 – SAY HELLO, EVERYONE …

marité normandy warrior port de granville harbour Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021… to Normandy Warrior.

Moored down there behind Marité is the newest freighter to visit the port. You won’t have seen her before because we are lucky enough today to catch her on her maiden voyage to the town

She’s the sister ship to Normandy Trader and you can tell them apart because Normandy Trader has a small upper deck behind her bridge on which lightweight articles can be loaded.

normandy warrior port de granville harbour Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021A few months ago I mentioned that the crew of Normandy Trader were talking about buying another boat.

What I had assumed that they meant was that they were going to replace her with a larger ship, but actually there’s an issue about licences and permits for larger boats and so they have managed to track down a sister ship and they are going to be operating the two simultaneously.

So here is Normandy Warrior busily being loaded with a huge pile of freight that has accumulated over the last few days for her first return journey from Granville to Jersey.

replacing christmas decorations Place Général de Gaulle Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021Something else that has been going on today has been the repair to the town following the devastation of Storm Arwen.

The Christmas decorations in the Place General de Gaulle were savaged quite badly. Father Christmas was blown halfway down the street and the trees that they had erected to surround him were all bowled over.

As I walked past on my way to the physiotherapists they were busy re-erecting the trees. Santa had already been restored to his previous place, so let’s hope that he stays there this time.

broken slates rue general patton Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021That wasn’t the only sign of a tragedy either.

As I was walking home along the Rue General Patton I was trying to avoid all of the broken slates that were littering the floor.

It seems that there has been a roof quite badly damaged in the storm and there were broken slates everywhere. This is going to be quite a bill for someone to have to pay

It’s actually quite a testament to our building that despite being exposed to the full force of the wind, we seem to have escaped quite lightly.

school children college malraux place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021However I’ve no idea what might be happening here.

When I returned with Caliburn from having his windscreen replaced, all of the schoolkids from the College Malraux were outside on the public car park hanging around.

Whatever had caused it had happened before I arrived so I wasn’t able to identify a reason, but the fact that all of the fire doors are open seems to indicate that there has been a fire alarm and the school has been evacuated.

While we are on the subject of alarms, my alarms didn’t go off this morning. Not that it made any difference because I was wide awake. I’d had another bad night where it seemed that I hadn’t slept at all.

And seeing that there are no files recorded on the dictaphone (and it’s been quite a while since that has happened, hasn’t it?) that’s a distinct possibility.

So I fell out of bed at 06:00 and staggered off for my medication. Then back here I checked my mails and messages and then had an hour or so working on the radio programme that I should be doing this week, although when, I don’t know.

A shower was next, to get myself cleaned up, and then I changed the bedding. I’m not sure when I did that last but one thing that I did notice last night was that it was high (and I do mean “high”) time that I changed it.

And then I put set the washing machine on the go.

Having made sure that Caliburn would start, I prepared myself to leave and then headed off to the windscreen fitter’s. And with the temperature being at 2.5°C, I put my woolly hat on my woolly head for the first time this winter.

Having dropped off Caliburn I went for a walk – to buy the stuff that I need to clean his wheels, to go to Bio-Coop to see if they had any vegan cheese (which they didn’t) and then to LeClerc for a coffee, where I fell asleep for 20 minutes.

When Caliburn was ready I picked him up and drove home, and I was amazed about how pitted and grimy his old windscreen must have been.

unloading scaffolding place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021Back at the building there was someone here unloading a scaffolding.

Not to climb up onto the roof, but they were actually taking it inside the building.

These rooms are quite high and to reach the ceiling is not very easy at all. It looks as if someone is redecorating and the scaffolding must be to enable them to paint the ceiling.

Back here I sat down to carry on with the radio programme but unfortunately I dozed off again. As a result I had rather a late lunch.

After lunch I tracked down the rest of the things that I need to give Caliburn his showroom appearance and then headed off to town.

black pearl spirit of conrad Courrier des Iles charles marie anakena aztec lady port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021Down at the viewpoint on the corner of the Boulevard des 2E et 202E de Ligne and the Boulevard Vaufleury I could see that a trawler was just pulling up at the Fish Processing Plant.

She’s Black Pearl, one of the newer trawlers in the port whom we saw sail into port a while back.

Also in the shot are a load of the hire yachts that re laid up over the winter. We have, from left to right, Spirit of Conrad on whom we went up the Brittany coast 18 months or so ago, and then Charles Marie with the little Courrier des Iles moored against her.

Over on the right, Anakena is moored against the quayside with Aztec Ladymoored against her.

installing christmas lights avenue de la liberation Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021With the Rampe du Monte à Regret being closed while they repoint the wall, I carried on down the Rue des Juifs.

Down in the Avenue de la Liberation the Council’s cherry picker was out installing more Christmas lights. I wonder what this lot of lights is going to be like this year.

Heading through town, I climbed back up the Rue Couraye towards the physiotherapists, stopping off at Carrefour on the way. I forgot the tomatoes this weekend and I bought a can of energy drink to help my climb the hill back home.

At the physiotherapist’s she tightened up the screw on the cross trainer t make it harder for me to work the machine, and then I had a few kinetic exercises to carry out.

Finally I was put on the tilting platform and she obviously likes my company … “I can’t think why” – ed … because she let me stay on the machine for an extra 10 minutes.

abandoned railway line parc du val ès fleurs Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021On the way home I came back down the steps at the Parc Du Val Ès Fleurs to see how the work was going.

From up above though, I could see that they are slowly advancing with the kerb along the line of the old abandoned railway. They are still a long way from finishing it though.

They’ve not made it to the road yet so it was something of a muddy tramp across the churned-up grass onto the car park and then down the steps to the bottom by where they have installed the keep-fit equipment

cutting wood parc du val ès fleurs Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021While I was on my way down there I heard the sound of a circular saw being used .

As I walked a little further on I could see that there was a van and a trailer. There was a generator in front of the van and they were using it to power a circular bench-saw.

Having cut the wood into the required length the guy working the saw carried it off to his friends who were working out of shot on the course of the abandoned railway line.

And judging by the amount of wood that he has on the trailer, he’s going to be working there for quite some time.

creating boardwark abandoned railway parc du val ès fleurs Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021What they are actually doing is construction some kind of boardwalk at the side of the concrete pathway that they have laid.

While I was going past I asked them if they would be going the full length of the abandoned railway track and they replied in the affirmative. And I can imagine that it will be fun riding a bike on that in the pouring rain.

But once again it’s pretty dismal, all of this concrete that they have been laying all over the place. I’m sure that they could do much better than that if they really tried, but they seem to be singularly lacking in imagination around here.

parc des docteurs lanos Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021Meanwhile further down the road I came upon the Parc des Docteurs Lanos.

It’s still quite a mess, churned up by all of the heavy vehicles that have been driving on there moving all of the stuff about, and that is going to take a considerable amount of effort to restore it, unless they do as they have done elsewhere an sink it under a mass of concrete.

And talking of stuff, there seems to be considerably less stuff on there now. They are using it up as a considerable rate and the fact that they aren’t replacing it with any rapidity seems to indicate that the work is slowly coming to an end.

rue du boscq Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021And talking about masses of concreete, here’s a photo of the view behind me showing the Rue du Boscq.

Last time that we looked down here they were laying yet more concrete reinforcement matting and sure enough, while I was away in Leuven they have poured yet more concrete down.

One of these days I’ll post a photo of the car park at Lezardrieux where we visited with Spirit of Conrad. There, they laid out the car park with small stone setts and used setts of different colours to mark out the lines and it all looked quite nice.

rue du boscq Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021Down at the other end of the street, the situation was just the same.

Another mass of concrete poured down at this end too. It all looks so dreary and depressing.

Mind you, there’s a lorry-load of earth down there and they are tipping it into the gap between the edge of the concrete and the stone wall to the right. I wonder if that is where they will be planting the hundreds of trees that they have promised.

But anyway I left them to it and carried on home dodging the broken slates in the Rue General Patton.

sunset baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021Yesterday we saw a really nice sunset, with what remained of the sun peeking through a small gap in the clouds.

This afternoon, we had a similar phenomenon. There wasn’t as much cloud this afternoon and so the effect was much more dramatic.

In the background we can see the church at Cancale across the bay on the Brittany coast, silhouetted against the orange sky, just to the left of centre.

It is one thing that I like about this time of year. At the time when I usually go for my walk, we have some wonderful lighting effects. We’ve seen quite a few already and there will be plenty more before Spring, I hope.

beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021Before I went in for my afternoon coffee, I went over to the wall at the end of the car park to look over onto the beach.

There wasn’t anything going on down there this afternoon, for the simple reason that there wasn’t much beach for anything to be happening on. The tide was well in right now.

So on that point I came back in for my coffee and carried on with some work, but I knocked off earlier than I normally do.

That’s because in a fit of extravagance (or forgetfulness) I bought two loads of peppers at the weekend and I had no idea of when I was going to use them. So I made one of my mega-curries with peppers, mushrooms, a tin of diced veg and a tin of white beans.

It was absolutely delicious and there’s plenty left. So when it’s cooled down and there’s some more room in the freezer, I’ll parcel it all up into individual helpings and freeze them for later use.

But right now I’m off to bed. I’ve had a very long day, walked miles and I’m exhausted. I want to make the most of this and hopefully have a really good sleep for a change.

Monday 22nd November 2021 – REGULAR READERS OF …

painting shutters bar la civette rue paul poirier Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021 … this rubbish will recall that at the start of the lockdown in March last year one of the bars in the Rue Paul Poirier, La Civette, took full advantage of the enforced closure by ripping out their shop front and replacing it with a nice new modern one.

It’s had a drop-down aluminium shutter to close it off after hours, but when I walked past today there was an elderly gentleman painting a scene of Granville Harbour on it.

It’s a beautiful job that he’s made, and so on my way past to the physiotherapist I went over and told him how much I appreciated his effort. It’s the kind of thing that the town needs to brighten it up

vehicles blocking rue des juifs Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021Another thing that regular readers of this rubbish will recall is that there are several regular features on these pages, one of which is “pathetic parking”.

And so when I saw this lorry and trailer parked on the pavement with a van parked (it really was parked, with no driver in it) in the middle of the street blocking it, I was in my element.

After all, not only is this the main route up to the old medieval walled city where I live, it’s a bus route too with service buses coming up here every so often. I was all ready to write something extremely offensive about it.

cherry picker rue des juifs Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021However, as Proverbs Chapter 16 Verse 18 tells us, “Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall”.

And that was certainly the case here. Further down the hill I noticed that the street was closed off and there was a cherry-picker doing something to the electric cables that feed the Christmas illuminations.

So I slunk off ignominiously down into town and onwards up the hill to the physiotherapist. I had a feeling that it wasn’t going to be my day today.

And I was right too. I had another awful night but you are quite used to those now so I shan’t trouble you any more about it.

What I can say though is never mind an 06:00 alarm call. I was wide awake at 04:53 this morning wishing that I was fast asleep. Even though it was a late night last night, I still had difficulty sleeping.

After the medication I checked my mails and messages and then launched myself into the radio programme that I need to prepare. And I would have set a new record for completing it too except that half-way through I had a ‘phone call.

The nurse who gives me my fortnightly injection just happened to be in the building taking a blood test and so could he come up and inject me while he was here instead of coming later as usual.

The place was looking like a tip with my stuff from Leuven scattered around the place, and I hadn’t had a shave or a shower for a couple of days, but if he’s here he’s here and he’ll have to take me as he found me.

When I finished the programme I had a listen to the one that I was to send off today and then had a listen to the one that I had prepared just now.

While I was doing that I was sorting through the mess of photographs that I’d discovered the other day, sorting out everything into proper directories ready to go through and weed out the duplicates of which there are more than enough.

There was a little break while I went for a shower and then I went one better than David Crosby and actually did cut my hair. Not that it was very long but it just so happened that for a change I wasn’t in a dreadful rush after my shower.

After lunch I made a start on identifying duplicates in the collection of photographs and by the time that I’d finished, 86GB had gone into the bin and I’ve only scratched the surface of it.

repairing medieval city walls place du marché aux chevaux Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021There was a break for me to go off to the physiotherapist and as I said the other day, I’ll go today through the town to see what’s happening with the work that’s taking place here.

First stop was the medieval city walls were a couple of months ago we saw a big hole at the foot of the wall. You can see that they have made considerable advances in repairing the wall down there.

They have built themselves a nice mobile shelter as the advance along the foot of the wall. We saw the other week that the workmen working above had a nasty habit of leaving their tools on top of the wall and so some kind of protection against objects falling from above is essential.

repairing medieval city walls place du marché aux chevaux Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021On top of the wall it’s all quiet. There wasn’t anyone around working here today.

But they haven’t made a great deal of progress over the period since I’ve last passed by.

You can see the size of the coping stones that go on top of the wall and you will notice that several are still missing. If while they are refitting them they happen to drop one over the top while the men are working down below, then that little flimsy protection that they have built isn’t going to me of much use.

rue st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021But what I really came here to see was what was happening in the Rue St Michel now that they seem to have finished and the workmen’s compound has been dismantled.

This is pretty awful isn’t it though? When they build the medieval town here in the early part of the 15th Century they went to all the trouble of surfacing the streets with some nice stone setts, but what they have done here is to just throw down a layer of asphalt.

It seems to me that despite the advances in technology over the last 100 years or so, the skill of relaying stone setts is a skill that has long-gone.

But this is a work that has been undertaken on behalf of the town council. Can you imagine what they would say if I as a private individual did work like this on a historic or listed building?

Anyway, I headed off to physiotherapist and she had me doing exercises and then some time on the tilting platform. And as he rnext patient didn’t need the tilting platform she let me stay on for some overtime.

On the way back I stopped at the Carrefour for some pears and a few other bits and pieces. They had more of those potatoes at €0:99 for 1.5kg and seeing as I’ve run out, I grabbed a bag of those as well.

Instead of going through the town centre I took the back way, the way that I took on Saturday, and it was much less busy.

tractors and freight on quayside port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021Halfway up the hill in the Rue des Juifs, I had a pause. Not to catch my breath but to drink the drink that I’d bought.

While I was there I took a photo of the quayside. As well as the shrink-wrapped boat, there’s another pile of freight as well, and two tractors parked up on the far side. It looks as if they are going to be busy down there very soon.

From there I walked straight back home and just as I was reaching the door of my building A young boy ran over to me and asked me if I had the time.

Had it been the young girl who was with him who asked, I would have asked her if she had the inclination but things don’t happen to me like that these days.

And that reminds me. Just recently they have installed a clock factory in the leaning tower of Pisa. They thought that seeing as they had the inclination, they may as well make the time.

Back here I made a coffee and carried on with my photos, with such intensity that it was 20:15 when I noticed the time. Too late to make a stuffed pepper so I had pasta and vegetables in a cheese sauce.

Eventually I managed to listen to the dictaphone and judging by the amount of stuff there, it really must have been a disturbed night. Something had happened and we’d gone round to arrest a guy who was a film star. We’d taken a guard dog with us and also a woman who was an actress. She was in charge of the party. When we got into his house we found where he was sleeping. He was fast asleep so we were expecting this police woman to come along and awaken him and arrest him. But she seemed to be doing everything she could to avoid going along to arrest him, checking over this first and checking over that first, checking over the times of plays, running orders, all sorts of things. There was one thing there, one film and she was saying that she expected it to be a little longer than it was, all this kind of thing. The dog was starting to become restless so she told me to keep the dog under control. I told her that she ought to be arresting this guy and it wouldn’t be an issue but she was still putting off arresting this guy as much as she could.

Later on I was working as a lorry driver last night. I absolutely hated the job so I decided to leave. I went up to the dormitory and waited around until everyone had gone to sleep. There were two other people who knew how much I hated it. I decided that I would leave and let them in on my secret. Once everyone had gone to sleep I crept over to the door and they were there. The door was closed so we had to open it very quietly. Someone made a noise, but we were through and out. The lift dor wasn’t closed so we had to close the door, call the lift, get into the lift and press the button for the ground floor. The lift descended but as I looked up I could see one of my colleagues looking down on the lift and shouting into the dormitory “I can see the lift moving and it’s someone who looks like him on it”. With these other two guys we were talking about how we could exchange information about photocopying files and everything, even doing that with LPs. I said that that would have been really good with my programme of digitalising my radio equipment and everything. Of course I had half an eye on what was happening elsewhere because I was convinced that my escape had been noticed. I wondered what was going to happen next.

Finally I was leaving work again. I’d gone to the lift only I was on my bike so I cycled into the lift. Just as it was about to go down I heard voices so I pressed the door to close quickly. Unfortunately I pressed the door open and two of my colleagues, young girls, came in. They were cursing because they thought that they had missed the lift. We went down again and went out but I had forgotten my bike so I had to go back to fetch it. I ended up at the junction of Broad Street and Hightown. There I bumped into Derek Guyler, the Men From the Ministry. He and Richard Lamb were in a car going to buy some food. I’d already said to someone whom I’d met that I was on my way to buy an Indian meal for tonight’s tea. I ended up in this car with them. From the noise that it was making, one of the wheel bearings was going. Derek Guyler dragged Richard lamb out from behind the steering wheel and drove himself. We set off and ended up driving down this country lane. At the last moment I could see that part of the lane was cordoned off so I shouted “turn right”. At the very last minute he did. We went down this side road and should have turned left immediately but I forgot. We carried on driving for a while. We came across a group of Romany, women and children, who were throwing bread at horses but the bread was still in its plastic bags. We went past an area that was lined with targets for bows and arrows. We then came to a road junction where of course we would have to turn left to continue on the way that we were going. This looked like the main road between Whitchurch and Chester. I thought that if we are going to have to get to Wrenbury to pick up this meal we’ll have to do some manoeuvring down this road and I’m not quite sure of the way.

But now at last I’m going to bed. I have my Welsh class tomorrow and I really do need to have a decent sleep beforehand.

Saturday 20th November 2021 – IT SEEMS TO ME …

… that you’ either getting photos or dictaphone entries right now – one or the other and not both.

But over the course of the next few days things will be brought up to date. But then that’s the story of my life these days, isn’t it?

gare montparnasse rue du départ paris France Eric Hall photo November 2021And while we’re on the subject of photos and stories of my life, look at this photograph.

For four and a half years I’ve been struggling through the underground labyrinth from the Gare Montparnasse to the metro station, going up and down flights of stairs like there’s no tomorrow, struggling with suitcases and all kinds of luggage.

Today, I walked up two half-flights of stairs and then up an escalator, and then you can see what I have to overcome in order to reach the Gare Montparnasse. Down at the end of the Rue du Départ in the distance you can see the station, one street that’s straight and level, with the only issue being to wait for the traffic lights so I can cross the road.

How easy is this compared to how I used to travel?

It might have been even easier had I had a good night’s sleep last night. But I don’t sleep very well at all in the beds at this place in Leuven and last night was no exception.

martelarenplein leuven Belgium photo November 2021It didn’t take me long to tidy everything up, make my sandwiches and pack, and I was on the road by 05:35

When I arrived in Leuven on Wednesday I had intended to take a photograph of the Martelarenplein in the daylight but I forgot and so I took a photo on my way into the station.

Of course, you can’t see the work very well because there is a fence and a covering all around it and I have to poke the camera through whatever gap I can find.

martelarenplein leuven Belgium photo November 2021And the work has now spread pout right onto the front of the station building.

They are uprooting all of that now and it looks as if they are about to replace it with a different kind of paving block, and as for why they would want to do that I don’t know.

In the foreground we can see some more tactile pavement of the type that we saw on Monday, and in the background you can see the fence with the covering over it to stop nosy people like me poking cameras in to photograph the work.

08187 class 08 electric multiple unit gare de leuven railway station Belgium photo November 2021It was 05:55 when I set foot on the station platform.

Having completely forgotten that it was early on Saturday, I found that the next express to Brussels was at 06:33 and it was freezing. However there was a local stopper, an 08 class multiple unit, leaving at 06:08.

Although it arrives at Brussels-Midi at the same time as the express, it’s a lot warmer and more comfortable inside the train than sitting on the platform so I clambered aboard. And so I did, and we set off bang on time.

Thalys PBKA 4306 gare du midi brussels Belgium photo November 2021Our train pulled in at 07:00 and my train to Paris doesn’t leave at 07:43 so I had to loiter around in the cold for a while because like most railway stations, Brussels-Midi is a freezing, draughty station with nowhere to sit out of the wind and the cold.

The train was one of the PBKA – Paris Brussels Cologne Amsterdam – units and although these are quite old now, the are quite comfortable and I was glad to be able to be allowed on board early.

It was packed too, with hardly and empty seat. It seems that the 07:13 that I used to catch is no longer running so everyone piles on board this one. I had a young lady sitting next to me but she didn’t say a word throughout the whole journey.

Well, not that I would know too much about the whole journey because I was … errr … resting for about half of it.

As I mentioned earlier, the trip from the Gare du Nord to Gare Montparnasse was the easiest that I have had to date, but when I reached Gare Montparnasse, the wheels came off.

There’s already a 75-minute wait on the freezing, draughty concourse of the railway station but I did notice that the train that I should be catching hadn’t yet arrived from Granville. We were supposed to leave at 10:54 but it hadn’t even come in by then.

By now I was frozen to the marrow so I went of to buy a coffee and as usual, exactly as you might expect, while I was distracted the train pulled in so I had to struggle on board with a suitcase, a laptop bag, a bag with my lunch in it and a full mug of coffee and just two hands to hold it all.

84569 gec alstom regiolis gare de Granville railway station Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021As a result I couldn’t take a photo of my train – I’m not an octopus – and of course it had to be the rear of a two-trainset unit so I had to do the best that I could at Granville.

It was 11:36 when we eventually set off and for a change I was feeling rather dynamic and I’m not sure why, but I actually did some work on the train back home which makes a change.

Another thing that I did was to finish off reading a book that I had started to read a long time ago, the account of Parry’s voyage in Hecla and Fury which resulted in the latter being left behind on a beach on Somerset Island in 1829.

Her anchors were recovered and regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we went TO SEE THEM IN 2014

84567 84565 gec alstom regiolis gare de Granville railway station Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021Having left Paris 40-odd minutes laten we were just over an hour late arriving in Granville and that filled me full of despair. I really could have done without that.

First thing that I did was to take a photo of the front bit of the unit on which I travelled. And then I took one of the front of the unit that was pulling me along. That’s the one on the left.

Being so late they had hauled another unit, the one on the right, out of the sheds to do the return trip back to Paris.

On the way down into town I called in at the Carrefour. Whatever else that might or might not happen, I can’t do without my mushrooms for my Sunday pizza. Not at any price.

For a change I took a new route through the town centre to avoid the crowds and thus it was maybe a little easier to walk.

It was still necessary for me to stop a few times on the way up the hill towards here, one stop of which was at the viewpoint overlooking the inner harbour.

marite belle france joly france philcathane port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021We have Belle France and one of the Joly France boats, the newer one of the two with the step in the back, moored together just down below.

Marité is down there too of course and over on the far side is the trawler Philcathane, moored where the gravel boats used to tie up. It looks as if we’ve seen the last of them.

And on the quayside is another shrink-wrapped boat. This kind of work is proving to be quite lucrative for the little Jersey Freighters.

boulevard des terreneuviers Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021On the way up the hill I noticed that the diversion signs had gone and the Rue Cambernon was open to traffic.

Accordingly I glanced down the Boulevard des Terreneuviers to see what was happening to the workmen’s compound. And there it was! Gone! And never called me mother!

What I shall have to do on Monday on my way to my physiotherapy is to go and see how they have finished off the work there.

Back at the apartment I struggled up the stairs into the apartment and crashed down in my chair for a good while to recover. I’d had a long hard journey.

Having backed up my computer with the files off the laptop I then went for tea. I had some falafel left over from Leuven so I finished them off with some pasta.

No washing-up tonight as the water is cold. And it won’t be warm until tomorrow. Anyway I’m too tired to do it so I’m going to vegetate for a while and then go off to bed. A good sleep will do me good but that remains to be seen.

And next morning (well, afternoon actually) I was able to bring up to date the journal with details of my voyages. On Friday night I was in my Welsh class. There was a teacher and a girl and then I turned up. That made two of us. At first I couldn’t understand what was happening because my screen was just so different from how it normally was but I eventually settled down. The girl had to leave nut another guy turned up. We were talking about going to the restaurant but he asked me “have you eaten anything yet? Are you going for a meal afterwards?” I replied “I don’t have any plans as such”. Then the girl came back by which time we had a man teacher, a change from a woman and we had to go back to read this article that we had just read a couple of minutes ago.

Later on I was with Shearings and a meal that we were having as though we’d all been away for a weekend somewhere, all the employees. I worked out where the girls were sitting so I picked a seat that was behind there so I could see them. I put down my stuff and went to find some bread to toast. Someone turned up and sat at my seat. I made myself some toast and went back and had them clear off and I sat down. I wanted some more but couldn’t find any bread. In the end, in the kitchen I found a pile of fruit bread and made myself some toast from that. Someone else came and sat down on my seat again. I thought that I would move them again in a minute. Then there was no coffee left, no orange juice left. In any case these girls hadn’t come down. I thought “this is turning into a right old mess, this is”.

Saturday 13th November 2021 – I STOOD AND WATCHED …

… this morning as some woman killed herself right in front of my eyes.

She was sitting on a ledge just below the top of the cliff and as I walked towards her, when I was about 20 or so metres away she pushed herself off with both hands and fell into the void.

At first I couldn’t believe what I saw. It took a minute to sink in and then I went to see if maybe there was a path that I hadn’t previously noticed.

There wasn’t anything that I could see and so I waited for a few minutes to see if maybe she would emerge from the bottom and walk across the sand. But when she didn’t I telephoned for help

Eurocopter EC 145 F-ZBQA helicopter pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021The Fire Brigade turned up first, followed by an ambulance and then the police.

And finally the air-sea rescue helicopter turned up.

While the people From the Fire Brigade were interviewing me, the helicopter flew up and down along the base of the cliff a short way.

When he reached a spot roughly more or less underneath where I was standing, he hovered for a minute or two and then pulled away.

Eurocopter EC 145 F-ZBQA helicopter pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021he came in to land on the lawn, embarked a couple of ambulance personnel and took off again.

They landed at the bottom underneath the cliff and the ambulance personnel unfolded a portable stretcher.

That, unfortunately, was that. The police by now had taken my details and at this point they told me that I could go. I wasn’t needed any longer and I’d hear from them in due course.

As you can imagine, my day has been somewhat shaken up by all of this and I’ve not done the half of what I was hoping to do.

It started off fine too. I was awake a little before the alarm went off although it wasn’t quite that easy for me to leave my bed.

After the medication I had a little relax reviewing the photos from yesterday and then I set off for the shops in town for whatever I might need to keep me going until I leave for Leuven.

ile de chausey baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021It was actually quite grey and overcast this morning and I was wondering whether I ought to have brought my rain jacket with me.

Away in the distance there were little hints of blue sky despite the heavy cloud everywhere else. The Ile de Chausey was looking quite nice silhouetted against this strange-coloured sky.

There wasn’t any point in going over to look down onto the beach because at this time of the morning there won’t be anyone down there taking in the rays. It’s a little on the wintry side right now.

fishing from rocks pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021A little further on, I did happen to look down onto the beach.

There were a couple of fishermen standing down there on the rocks having a go with their rods and lines and looking as if they meant business.

As you might expect, I didn’t hang around to watch them. I headed off along the path on top of the cliffs towards the lighthouse. And halfway along the path I had my Appointment with Destiny.

ile de chausey Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021While I was waiting for the rescue services to put in an appearance, the sun came out quite dramatically through a gap in the clouds and illuminated the whole scene.

In a matter of a bink of an eye the Ile de Chausey was transformed from a grey and green silhouette into a mass of white and light grey houses.

When the rescue services had finished with me I carried on along the path towards the end of the headland and then down the path at the bottom towards the town centre.

storm waves on sea wall port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021The wind wasn’t anything like as strong as it has been in the past and the sea wasn’t as rough as it might have been.

It wasn’t therefore a day for expecting anything spectacular down on the harbour wall but every seventh wave is usually a good one and one of them produced something a little more exciting.

No change in the situation at the chantier naval today of course so I carried on along the Rue du Port listening to the sound of the helicopter on the other side of the headland busily winching up its cargo.

gates to port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021The harbour gates were closed, as I noticed while I was walking down the street. That meant that the path on the top of the gates would be accessible and I could cross over there to the other side.

It’s been a while since I’ve been this way so I could have a good look at the gates and see what they have to tell me.

You can see from the lines of green mould where the water reaches at high tide. The various lines here and there on the gates and on the surrounding wall will give you a clue as to how variable the level of the water can be.

At the moment the water is at a depth of 1.5 metres but there are some lines well above the highest indicator on the gauge, which is 9.0 metres.

notice about portable boat lift port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021And if you want to know about the situation with the portable boat lift in the chantier naval then look no further.

According to the notice on the door of the port office, the boat lift will be out of service for an overhaul for a period from 27th October to 13th December. That depends on the weather, the availability of spare parts and other factors.

At Carrefour in the town I bought a few things, forgot a few others and headed back for home with my shopping.

Halfway up the hill I stopped, not because I needed a breather but because I’d treated myself to a cold drink and wanted to drink it before it warmed up or I reached home.

Back here I made some toast and coffee for a rather late breakfast (hardly surprising with all of this going on) and then had a go at updating yesterday’s journal entry. My heart wasn’t in it though and it took me all of the rest of the day to do what would normally take an hour or so.

And it wasn’t until just now as I’m typing this out that I realised that I haven’t transcribed the dictaphone notes for today. But here they are, added in some time later.

last night I was going to take three tyres to put them in one of my lock-ups. My brother came with me and some other guy. We put them on a wheelbarrow and pushed them. While we were at the place where we picked up these wheels which was something to do with me, there were a couple of machines. One was a car engine and we weren’t sure whet the other was underneath a bench. As usual there was that much rubbish but we couldn’t get them out to look at them so I arranged a working party of several friends and we were going to try to tidy it up, get everything out and see what I had. We pushed these wheels on this wheelbarrow to my garage but it was all overgrown with brambles and everything. There was a Hillman Minx, one of the last models from the late 70s parked outside with a broken windscreen. We undid the door and went in. Everyone was astonished to see the cars and rubbish in there. There was a white Bentley. A tree had fallen over in there and had only just missed this Bentley but all the smaller branches and creepers off this tree were all over it. You could hardly see it. We had a good look rouns as best as we could. Because we were in Virlet at that time I asked them if they would like to see my house to which they said yes. We set off over a footpath where we could see a row of terraced houses on the skyline. My house was actually behind this row of terraced houses but we didn’t get there before I awoke.

And that was one of the worst hot, sweaty nights to date.

There was of course an interruption for lunch, and later still I had a ‘phone call. “Could you come down to the Police Station and make a statement about this morning’s events?”

yachts baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021By now, the sky was producing some really dramatic colours, much more interesting than even this morning’s.

The harbour gates were now open too and so all of the yachts in Christendom were out there in the bay.

And just look at the magnificent array of colours out there, on the boats, the sails and the sky. It’ll be a long time before we see anything quite as dramatic as this kind of scenery.

And you can see where the phrase “a leaden sky” comes from when you see this one.

boats being delivered to port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021Further on down the hill I could see that a lorry pulling a trailer had now pulled onto the quayside.

There were a couple of shrink-wrapped boats on board so it looks as if some time very soon there is goign to be one of the Jersey freighters coming into port to take them away.

At the police station I had to wait for about 10 minutes until I was seen and then we began the long process of taking down my statement. Of course this will be a judicial matter and so it has to be precise.

Then of course, I had to check it and sign it because it will be required as evidence.

There’s quite a bit that I can’t mention because it’s all sub judice but I was told that any hearing will simply be a formality.

Leaving the police station I went back to Carrefour to buy what I had forgotten in the excitement this morning, and then began the long climb back up the hill to home.

light on pointe de carolles Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021Near the top of the hill I came to a dead stop. Not because of wanting to catch my breath but because I’d noticed something strange.

By now the sky was really going dark but there was a strange light somewhere on the Pointe de Carolles, just below the Cabanon Vauban.

At first I thought that it was the final rays of the sun reflecting off a glass bottle or something like that but in fact when I enlarged the image the light isn’t actually on the Pointe de Carolles but just above it in the sky.

It won’t be a star or a planet so it’s probably the searchlight off a helicopter that’s hovering around above there for some reason or other. There’s a vague outline of some kind of machine

beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021Finally, before I went in, I went to have a look at the beach.

There wasn’t very much beach, with the tide being well out, and there wasn’t anyone down there that I could see. And that’s no surprise because it was a lot darker than it looks in this image.

Back here I made a coffee and spent a while thanking people who had sent me messages of condolence about the morning’s events. Rosemary rang up too to say a few kind words and a couple of people had some very nice chats with me on an internet chat service.

As I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … I don’ have many friends, but those I do have are the very best in the world.

Quality, not quantity.

Tea was potatoes and veg and a couple of those small breaded soya burgers that I like. And now that i’ve finished my journal entry, I’m going to vegetate before going to bed.

I’ve no idea how I’m going to sleep tonight after all of this but I’ll worry about that in due course.