Category Archives: Les Guis

Sunday 26th July 2020 – IT’S SUNDAY …

… so today was something of a lie-in. Plenty of time to go off on my travels during the night, and I took full advantage. I started off somewhere, I dunno if I was on board ship again. I can’t remember a lot of what was going on but I remember having to go somewhere. I was driving a car and I came across that girl with very blonde, very curly hair who was walking a dog, a girl who I knew to be a friend of a girl I knew. I crept up behind her in the car and went to blow the horn but it didn’t work. In the end I blew it a second time – it worked and she fell down on the floor. I went to open the window to say something to her but the window wouldn’t open so she couldn’t see who it was. There was something else that led from there with a couple of girls. They put a ladder up to climb to this basket because there was something that they could see there. These girls were very very interested in this. When they came back down again they were ever so disappointed because all that it had been had been some kind of bolt on the masthead that had broken off. But there were all kinds of things invloved in this – school dinners, bus rides going on with the THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR, zodiacs, this kind of thing and I can hardly remember any of it now.

Later on I was being chased around by all these fascists and a really aggressive woman who was going to make mincemeat out of me. She had the law on her side but we kept on being ahead of them kept on making more remarks and so on. It turned out that we were in Shavington in Edwards Avenue looking up at Edwards Close. That wasn’t how it used to be – there were only two or three houses at the side of it and then a road that went through. We were saying that I bet she knows where she is going for she’s here for the very first time to do something with Mick Matthews who was a member of the British Union of Fascists. Someone else siad “that’s alright. We have nothing to worry about. She can fetch the police because we are all under 12. We can’t be prosecuted and we can’t be found guilty of anything”. She was chasing us all round this situation with her friends and we were doing everything we could to keep one step ahead of her. There was one point where we were invited to a royal banquet. We got there and we had to do this procession round. There was this woman who had also been invited and sitting at a table. We weren’t sure whether she recognised us, whether the scowl that she gave us was just the usual scowl or meant that she recognised us. We noticed that there were two places set for us but we decided that we weren’t going to sit there and we’d get something to eat from somewhere else.

There was something else involving the President of the USA and I can’t remember what that was now.

Sometime later on I was driving a lorry somewhere with a trailer on the back. The trailer was just clipping the lamp-posts, all that kind of thing. I was sure that I was too far over the nearside and on one occasion I’d hit a car that was waiting at a road junction but I didn’t feel a bang so I carried on driving. It turned out that we were at Shearings waiting for a couple of coaches to come in. They were running hours late and we wondered why they hadn’t rung up to say how late they were but of course that would have made them even later. I had to check a coach over but they asked me how much water it had taken. I said “about half” although it was a lot more empty than that – it had taken a lot more than just half the amount. Then I head a voice calling. It sounded as if one coach was on its way in. I wondered who it was but it turned out that it was Rosemary calling offering me a cup of tea.

Yes, a cup of tea brought to me in bed and that’s all very pleasant. I could quite get used to this, but not really at 07:20 or thereabouts on a Sunday morning.

09:20 was when I finally arose, and so I organised a few things here, helped Rosemary set up her television, uploaded the July 2019 photos of Iceland and Greenland to Rosemary’s laptop and then collected my things together.

We drove to La Peize in Rosemary’s car. We ended up at Clotilde’s, who I haven’t seen for a good few years. Christiane was there too and I haven’t seen her for even longer. Clotilde had prepared a nice lunch for us all that was very nice.

puits michelin la peize puy de dome france eric hallAfter lunch we had a walk round the village and ended up at the Puits Michelin, the old coal mine on the edge of the town.

We’ve been here before, as regular readers of this rubbish might recall, many years ago, and there’s quite a story behind this coal mine. For this, we have to turn the clock back to the end of the 19th Century.

Coal had been discovered near St Eloy-les-Mines (which wasn’t “les mines” then of course) back in medieval times but commercial exploitation began in the early part of the 18th Century, with a mine reported as being in existence by 1741. In the latter part of the 19th Century deep mines began to be sunk. Little by little, the valley of the River Bouble was explored and further pits were sunk.

puits michelin la peize puy de dome france eric hallEventually they reached the village of Gouttières.

The railway was expanded down to here and a huge marshalling yard was built for the coal that was expected to be transported from the area. Several more pits were sunk and then they found a beautiful thick part of the seam on the edge of La Peize.

This led to the creation of the Puits Michelin here with its substantial structures and the huge area set aside for an enormous slag heap and spoil tip.

puits michelin la peize puy de dome france eric hallThere are two stories about the subselquent events that occurred leading to the abandonment of the mine.

Here, we’re actually at the border of four different communes and the story that’s often bandied around in the area is the communes could not reach an agreement as to how the rights, the obligations and, more importantly, the taxes would be apportioned between them.

But knowing a little about life in the Auvergne, having lived there for long enough, I consider that to be an unlikely tale. Around here, money certainly talks and I’m certain that a large organisation like Michelin would have been able to overwhelm a few local concillors by waving a handful of used fivers around at various commune treasuries.

However, a good while ago I was having a scratch around in the vicinity and I came across the coal seam where it came out on the surface. So I’m much more inclined to believe that the seam, despite being so thick where the mine was sunk, simply petered out a short distance further on where geological inclination brought it to the surface.

The mine closed down after a mere 5 years and it’s significant that none of the other pits in the area survived all that much longer
.

clotilde rosemary christiane la peize puy de dome france eric hallThe four of uscarried on along oour route past Arno’s and round by the carrière de la Peize where a lot of the stones for the substantial builtings in the are was quarried..

After we left we went Clotilde’s back to my house and collected a few things that I had forgotten and which I needed. I spent 25 minutes looking for A BOOK that I needed but couldn’t find. And after I had given up I put my hand straight onto it by accident.

Having also collected a few other things that would come in handy back at Granville we then drove to the camp site at Les Ancizes.

Ingrid was there already so I treated her and Rosemary to a meal with thanks for all the help that they had given me over the last few days. It was nice to be together for a quiet social occasion after all of the hard work that we had done.

Now I’m back at Rosemary’s and I’m off to bed already. I want an early night as I have a heavy day in front of me tomorrow. There’s a lot to do and I don’t think, the way things are going, that I have a lot of time in which to do it.

Saturday 25th July 2020 – I’M WHACKED PART III

We’ve been hard at it again today.

And still suffering the effects of yesterday because no matter what, I still couldn’t rouse myself out for the third alarm. 06:40 it was when I finally crawled out of bed.

There was the usual cup of tea brought to me, and then I carried on with paperwork and the like.

There was a group of us last night in a hotel, a conference or something like that. I ended up sharing a table with someone who resembled a girl from the radio. It seemed that at every meal I was sitting next to her which pleased me enormously of course. This slowly developed over the period that we were there. We were all on our own in a group, a lot of us, talking about spices and herbs. She had a huge collection of spices that she bought and she told us where to go to get them. She said that anyone who would like to could buy her a spice as a memento. I was immediately keen to go along and do this. In the end I found where she indicated the spice shop was but is was a 2nd hand record shop. I was looking in there at the records and found loads of obscure American records of the type that I’ve been recording of my own collection but this isn’t really getting my thing advanced. At some point I’d been talking to a couple of guys. This girl and another girl had said that they had been friends for 22 years and they can’t possibly have been work colleagues for 22 years because they weren’t much older than that so we were wondering if they had been friends or something. I made some kind of remark “it doesn’t matter if they are 22 years old I could still keep up”. I was with her friend at one particular point when a Ford Cortina Estate mark III gold came by, covered in patches of underseal and rust preventer, that kind of thing. I told her that I had a vehicle like that. She expressed surprise but wasn’t very interested. That reminded me that somewhere along the line I was with Nerina at one point talking about getting a new car for the taxis but for our own private vehicle would we be tempted to get something decent that we could use for a taxi if necessary and was that really a good idea. I thought that I’d like my taxi business to be bigger but only in a bigger town where there is room and scope without treading on people’s toes. But back to this story with the girl from the radio – I remember that they went off on an expedition somewhere leaving some of us behind. I was left behind and feeling very disappointed about this.

At another point in the night there was a question about scaffolding – being on scaffolding and what happens if a pole breaks or someone cuts one while you are on it. Terry told me about a system that he had where there was always a couple of wires to attach the scaffolding to various points somewhere so that if it did break the wires would snag somewhere and at least give some kind of temporary support while you scrambled down.

This yacht thing – there was more to it than that, including me buying a yacht for some reason. And I would love to know what “this yacht thing” was all about and what did I forget to record during the night.

After breakfast we collected our wits and the like and then headed off to Ingrid’s with the trailer. I managed to reverse that all the way down the drive at Daniel’s and drop it off there although the socket would benefit from a pile of easing oil.

Ingrid was pleased to see us and we had a long chat – to such an extent that Ingrid made lunch for us. We were there for quite a while.

Later on we went to Les Guis. I found a few things that we needed either for Rosemary’s house or for the barn and did a little more clearing.

One thing that I did was to place the pane of glass in the frame above the door in the bathroom. I bought that just before I was taken ill and I’d never had the chance to fit it. Rodents had been getting into the shower room and I wanted to keep them out.

That was actually the first constructive thing that I’d done down there. The ret of the time I’ve spent either clearing up or weeding. Having inspected the hole in the attic I injected a pile of expanding foam into it to block it up and I’ll see tomorrow if that has done the trick.

With the van all loaded up we went round to say goodbye to my neighbours but they were busy so we didn’t spend any time there.

Back here we crashed out for an hour or so and then I unloaded Caliburn.

After tea I had a look at a chair that needed fixing. I managed some of it with the aid of an electric drill that had a jammed trigger which was something of a complication, but the project failed because the sunken nut that I had found was too large for the hole. That’s a job for a wood file in due course.

Having had a shower and a clothes washing session, I’m now off to bed. Sunday tomorrow so a lie-in. And I’ve earned that too after this week’s efforts.

Friday 24th July 2020 – I’M WHACKED PART II

It’s been another really difficult day today right enough.

Just for a change … “quite” – ed … I missed the three alarms. I couldn’t summon up the energy to leave the bed. 06:30 was when I finally saw the light.

Rosemary brought me a cup of tea again at 07:00 which was nice, and I listened to the dictaphone in luxury.

We were moving about exploring last night and some of our party – we were in the snows – decided that we would go for a look round. he said “I’d be away for a few months” so off he went and we stayed there in our tents during the winter amusing ourselves and keeping ourselves busy. This guy never ever came back. After a month or so we were thinking of having a search party for him.

There was something else to do with – I don’t know what it was about really. The only thing that i can remember from this dream was that there were some people discussing some kind of – I didn’t know what it was. They were discussing this object and I was talking about something that needed examining and checking over. The guy said “that’s all right. I’ve replaced them anyway with normal stuff”. When I had a look, what I was looking at was a dark blue Ford Escort and what he had been referring to was some optional extra wheels that he had now taken off and put on some standard ones.

when I finished the paperwork we had breakfast.

Having rung Ingrid we set off for St Eloy les Mines and the dechetterie and tipped the rubbish into the container. And that wasn’t easy, being surrounded by people who didn’t know how to drive.

Having finally been able to empty the rubbish out of the trailer, we pushed off to chez moi again.

les guis virlet puy de dome france eric hallOne of the things that I wanted to do that I hadn’t done the other day was to fight my way into the barn. So donning the gloves and wielding the brushcutter off I went and fought my way through the brambles.

As usual, Rosemary and Ingrid (when she arrived) followed on behind with the clippers and trimmers to make the passage easier.

It took a while to accomplish it too. Ingrid and I aren’t well and the heat was oppressive as well so we worked to a rhythm of maybe 20 minutes working and then a 10-minute pause for water and a breather. And all of this seemed to work because we made it across to the barn in the end without any undue difficulty.

From somewhere, and I’m not sure where, I even found the strength to fight my way to the downhill lean-to and I can get in there now, although I’m not too sure that I actually want to. The state of the place filled me with dismay.

les guis virlet puy de dome france eric hallanother task that needed doing, for which Rosemary volunteered, was to sweep the concrete hardstanding.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, it was overwhelmed with debris but we took most of that down to the dechetterie the other day. But there was still a lot of dust and dirt, old leaves, weeds and the like that were all over the place looking untidy so Rosemary went berserk with the yard brush.

Ingrid and I joined in later when we had finished what we were doing and by the time that we were ready to go, the place was looking all quite nice and tidy. And if that isn’t progress, I don’t know what is.

By the time that we were finished we were totally exhausted. It was something like a stagger back home. Nothing important for the dechetterie so in the end we just bagged the rubbish and dropped it in the waste bin.

When we plucked up the courage (round about 16:00) we had lunch and then I crashed out for an hour or so. Well away with the fairies.

Later I fixed a dismantled settee and then it was my turn to make tea. We had a stuffed pepper which Rosemary enjoyed very much.

A shower and a clothes wash finished my day – and finished me too. I’m now off to bed to catch up with my beauty sleep.

Thursday 23rd July 2020 – I’M WHACKED!

Yes, it’s been a very hard day today.

Having crashed out so definitively yesterday evening, I slept right through and even missed the third alarm. Only by a few minutes but nevertheless …

First task was to write up my journal from last night, in the middle of which Rosemary brought me a cup of tea. Even so, I managed somehow to crash out again.

Afrer breakfast we organised a few things and then set off.

First port of call was near St Priest les Champs to drop off the door. And as it happens, Rosemary knows the lady of the house so we had a chat for a while.

Second was Ingrid’s at Biollet where she made us a drink. We had a really good chat and then went round to pick up her trailer – a big single-beast trailer much bigger than I was expecting. But the bigger the better. I can fit more stuff in it.

caliburn trailer pouzol puy de dome france eric hallRosemary and I said goodbye to Ingrid and set off to my place.

Tons of stuff lying around there that was of no use to man nor beast and that was something that I was always going to do “tomorrow”. But it was depressing me seeing it all lying there like that so we heaved it all into the trailer regardless.

But as an aside, I need to work on my reversing. I’m somewhat out of practice and I made something of a dog’s breakfast getting the trailer down the track to my house.

les guis virlet puy de dome france eric hallOne thing that I wanted to do while I was there was to check on the pointing of the wall that I had built in 2012.

No cows in the field and no farmer about so we went in to check.

It’s all holding up remarkably well, all things considered, and I’m proud of the job that I did on that considering that it was my first proper effort at building a stone wall. But the joint between the lean-to and the main house wall is separating and if I do ever make it back I’ll need to refill that.

The dechetterie at St Eloy les Mines would be closed for lunch by now so we made our way back home for something to eat. Rosemary indicated some more rubbish that needed heaving into the trailer while she made the food.

This afternoon Rosemary had a bank appointment so I went off to the dechetterie where the old woman in charge directed me to the correct bay to unload it.

Back now to my house where I loaded up the trailer yet again. The concrete parking space is now clear of nonsense, some of the rubbish hanging around outside has gone too, and I’ve even thrown away some stuff in the verandah too. Plenty more to go at too, stuff that’s been hanging around for centuries and which probably will never be used..

bedroom les guis virlet puy de dome france eric hallWhile I was there, I went to check on the bedroom.

It seems to be unaffected by the rodent infestation so I spent some time in there sorting out some stuff in the wardrobes. There were a few bits and pieces that I wanted to collect that I’d stored in there for safe-keeping and so I rescued them.

The rest of the stuff that’s in there can remain for another day or until I move back down whenever

bedroom les guis virlet puy de dome france eric hallBut I do have to say that it was totally depressing to see the bedroom looking like this.

It took me four long years (not continuously, of course) to convert it from A RUBBLE-STREWN WRECK into wnat you see today, complete with fitted wardrobes and everything, and I was so proud of what i’d managed to build with my own fair hands.

And all in all, I reckon that I had no more than about three months’ use out of it before I was taken ill and rushed to hospital. That was the saddest part of all about this.

As for the attic, that’s had it, I reckon. And so has everything in there, I reckon. There’s little hope of salvaging anything from there although I did bring out a set of plastic drawers.

On the ground floor I did some tidying up – just a little. And there’s plenty more to go at in there too.

All in all, I could spend the rest of my life tidying up in there and still not see the end of it all. No matter what I did, I could never make that place look tidy

The dechetterie would be closed by now so I came on back to Rosemary’s, totally exhausted, with a full trailer behind Caliburn.

We had tea and a good chat, following which I had a shower and washed my clothes. And all of that was just as well too.

Plenty more work to do tomorrow- this little visit is far from over – not by any means. A good night’s sleep is called for so that I can be fighting fit. But there’s little hope of that.

Wednesday 22nd July 2020 – BACK HOME

Yes, I’ve been back home today.

And before anyone suggests that it’s rather a long way for me to drive in my current circumstances, that isn’t actually what I mean.

For a change I was awake quite early, and so there was time to listen to the dictaphone

It was a confusing voyage last night. There were quite a few of us and I’m not quite sure of what we were doing and where we were going but we were all young teenagers, that kind of thing or a few maybe even younger and that’s basically all that I can remember.

While I was typing out all of that I even had a cup of coffee brought to me in bed. And how any years is it since that ever happened?

Having dealt with all of the paperwork I went down to breakfast and then decided (just for a change) to organise myself.

I emptied everything out of the back of Caliburn, tidied him a little, found a pile of rubbish that needed throwing away, and then threw a few gardening tools in the back.

Having made two phone calls, we set off.

First port of call was in St Eloy where I bought some petrol in a container. Second, also in St Eloy, was for some rubber gloves and a pile of rat and mouse poison.

les guis virlet puy de dome france eric hallWe then disappeared off into the countryside and ended up back at home – my old place in Les Guis.

Time hasn’t been kind to it at all. In the couple of years since I’ve been there nature has totally overwhelmed it and it was something like an Amazon rainforest.

But by now Ingrid had arrived and the three of us set to with a will. I went ahead with Terry’s brush-cutter and cut a swathe through the vegetation, with Rosemary and Ingrid following on behind with the clippers.

les guis virlet puy de dome france eric hallAnd it was really hard work too there. The heat didn’t help very much.

What also didn’t help much was all of the objects hidden in the undergrowth. The brushcutter and its blade looked as if it had fought a war (which it probably had) as I hacked my way through the undergrowth.

All of this in just a couple of years since Terry and I were here last picking up the mini-tractor. It’s hardly a surprise that lost cities are still being discovered in the Amazon rainforest with vegetation growing like this.

les guis virlet puy de dome france eric hallBy the time that 14:00 arrived, we had reached the house and could go in all of the doors there.

And how sad everything was, with reams and reams of cobwebs, dust and everything all over the place. And we were exhausted too by this point and so called it a day.

As we weresitting around chatting, a neighbour came round to see us and to see how things were and we had a little discussion. But Ingrid went off for her appointment and Rosemary and I came home for a rather late lunch.

Later on, I went back to my house. Those two phone calls that I’d made earlier – one had been to Ingrid and the other had been to someone else.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I’ve been slowly replacing the windows in the house and that I bought a matching front door. That needs a new doorframe building but because it has to be in hardwood and not softwood, it’s beyond the capacity of the tools that I have here.

Previously, I’d made “local enquiries” and someone had come up the name of a reliable joiner. It had always been my intention to have a joiner make a doorframe, so I had phoned him up.

Much to my surprise (and yours too) I asked him when he would be free. He replied “I can come at 18:00”.

You can’t put obstacles in the path of willing workmen so I arranged to meet him at the Intermarché in Pionsat. We drove up to the house and he did all the measurements. While I was at it, I mentioned the third window that is yet to be installed. “I’ll do that as well if you like”.

And why not?

So the arrangement is that I’ll drop off the door on him tomorrow and leave him to it. There’s no time schedule – he can do it whenever he’s free. Which won’t be before September because all of the sawmills will be closed for summer holiday.

Having bid my farewell, I drove back to Rosemary’s where she had made tea.

A shower to clean myself up and to wash my clothes was next and then, shame as it is to say it, I crashed right out.

The exercise had clearly affected me and I felt that I had done quite enough for today. I’ll write up my notes in the morning.

Monday 13th August 2018 – YOU HAVE TO LAUGH!

A few weeks ago Hans and I were in a restaurant in Liège in Belgium surrounded by beautiful young girls who would surely have attracted our attention 10 years ago, but instead we were talking about our medication and bathroom visits.

This morning, Terry, Ingrid and I were sitting around the breakfast table discussing Old-Age Pensions.

We’re getting old, aren’t we?

Ingrid’s spare bed was quite comfortable, and I was joined during the night by one of her cats. And wasn’t the cat surprised when it discovered that it wasn’t Ingrid stroking it, but a stranger?

Once we’d organised ourselves, we headed off back to my house and began to search for objects that I needed and which I should have fetched when I was here last time. I discovered most of them, but one thing – the most important – has eluded me and I’ve no idea now where it might be.

With the piles of plastic crates that I brought with me, I started to pack up the books, CDs and DVDs that are still down there. But I did say that this was going to be emotional and I was quite right – especially when I discovered the mouse nests, complete with baby mice, in amongst all of the books.

It’s amazing just how much nature has taken over since November 2015 when I was carted off to hospital. To come back and live here, what with all of the weeds and all of the livestock, would be very difficult indeed for me.

In the end, I abandoned the project and locked up the house. I’ll have to come back and do some more when I’m feeling much more like it, whenever that might be.

We went round to say goodbye and thank you to Lisette, and also round to say hello and goodbye to Rob and Nicolette. They have always been very good to me and they were very supportive when I was here a few weeks ago.

We said goodbye to Ingrid too and I arranged with her that once my October session at the hospital is over, she might come to visit me for a while. She starts a training course in October so we’ll have to see how it fits in with her timetable.

Terry’s van is much more powerful than Caliburn but it has a low-ratio gearbox for more torque (which is just as well when you see what it usually pulls around behind it) and so it’s not so quick as Caliburn when it has a load on.

But it went really well on the way back and even though we stopped for half an hour for lunch, it took us a total of 7 hours from door to door on the motorway, and that’s impressive. Having left at 13:15, we were back at 20:15 on the dot despite having planned to be back by 21:00.

We had a quick snack when we returned, and then I went to bed for an early night. I was thoroughly exhausted and I’ve no idea how Terry must have felt.

Sunday 12th August 2018 – HAVING LAST NIGHT …

… been tucked up nicely in a spare bed at Liz and Terry’s, tonight I’m tucked up nicely in a spare bed at Ingrid’s in Biollet, just 15 miles away from my place at Virlet.

With it being Sunday there was no alarm but we had to rise early and organise ourselves. After breakfast we loaded up Terry’s van with some bits and pieces, including the plastic boxes that I had brought with me, and then hit the road.

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this, but when I was at my house a few weeks ago I noticed that my tractor had been moved. And subsequently I had a message from Desirée and Simon to say that it had been further moved.

It’s an expensive piece of kit, as regular readers of this rubbish might recall, so it needed to be rescued. There’s a little bit of room on Terry and Liz’s car park and so we had agreed that it should go there out of the way and Terry can use it if he needs to.

And with Terry suddenly having a very rare free day from work on Monday, we went off to fetch it.

terry messenger les guis virlet franceRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that when I was there just now, I couldn’t get to the house because of all of the weeds.

But Terry had brought his heavy-duty brushcutter and it made pretty short work of the undergrowth. It didn’t take him long to cut a path through to the house and the barn.

And then I could enter the house, rescue the keys and then load up the tractor into Terry’s van. Terry had worked out the dimensions and there was plenty of room in his van for it to fit.

I have new neighbours too, Lisette and Berry, as Lieneke and Guus have sold their house. I went round to introduce myself and have a chat, and then we went off.

Ingrid had been to Clermont-Ferrand and we had arranged to meet up at the campsite at Les Ancizes. That serves snacks and is guaranteed to be open on a Sunday evening in the summer, so we had a meal there. Much to my surprise, they had a vegan dish on offer, Thai rice with mixed vegetables.

Back at Ingrid’s, we all had a good chat and I had a shower, managing to walk on a thorn that was stuck to my trousers. And that didn’t half hurt.

So here I am now, tucked up in bed. I’m going to have a really emotional day tomorrow so I need to be on top form.

Sunday 24th June 2018 – I’M NOT ANGRY.

les guis virlet franceNeither am I annoyed. And neither am I furious.

I’ve gone waaaaaaayyyyy beyond that into the stratosphere .

It’s the last time that I ever do anyone a favour ever again. If anyone ever wants something from me ever again they can pay full price for it. and if I ever want anything off anyone, I’ll pay full price for it too.

That way, it avoids all disappointments.

I must have MUG tattooed on my forehead in letters two feet high.

hotel le hussard alencon francedespite what I said about the hotel last night (well, it is rather overpriced and very tired, but it was the cheapest that I could find when I was tired) I had a really good sleep.

And it would have been even better had I not had a severe attack of cramp during the night – so severe that I had to get out of bed and stand up to ease the muscles;

Back in bed though, I was off on my travels and with no dictaphone handy I had to try my best to remember it.

But basically, I decided that I would like to learn a new language, so off I trotted to the night school.And who should be giving the course but TOTGA. Of course, I sat at the front of the class (my body might have given out but my mind certainly hasn’t). The end wall of the classroom sloped in at 45° so the white board attached to it was over the heads of the students at the front. And TOTGA needed to clean it. But whatever had been written on it had been written on it a long time ago and it had dried pretty hard so it took some scrubbing. So of course I volunteered to help, to the ribald remarks of my fellow classmates.

Back in the Land of the Living again, I had set the alarm for 08:45, even if it is a Sunday, but I didn’t need it because I was wide awake at 08:00. And amongst the (many) things that I have forgotten to bring with me (as usual, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall) are my pills and medicines.

I shall be like nothing on earth by the time that I get to Leuven – but then it’s not as if that’s anything new is it?

After breakfast I hit the road and headed south. I fuelled up Caliburn, tight to the brim and continued on my way.

A short while later, I picked up a hitch-hiker … "well, you shouldn’t have knoched him down" – ed. A Prisoner On The White Lines Of The Freeway, as Joni Mitchell would have us believe.

I’ve hitch-hiked all over the UK and North-West Europe in my youth (and not-so-youth) and been grateful for everyone who has stopped for me. Now that I have an empty and tidy Caliburn following my efforts of the other week, I’m not ashamed to stop for casual strangers.

“You wouldn’t by any chance be going anywhere near Tours, would you?” which is about 125 kms away.
“Well, as a matter of fact, I am” I replied.
And so we drove all the way round past Le Mans, down the Mulsanne Straight (without, unfortunately stopping to take a photo) and on into the suburbs of Tours where I dropped off my companion.

Regular Readers of This Rubbish will recall that I don’t like company, but it makes the journey pass that little bit more quickly when there’s someone else there.

loches franceHaving picked up a baguette on the way, I stopped at the car park by the river in Loches for lunch.

And there in the shade of some kind of tree I made myself a butty and had a quiet repose.

Another thing that I did was to have half an hour on the guitar. My Vox amPlug has an input socket as well as a headphone socket, so I can run tunes off my laptop into it. As a result, I can play along to the tracks that I’m learning even in the middle of a car park and that’s impressive.

I must keep up with things.

daihatsu hijet piaggio porter loches franceTalking about keeping up with things, there won’t be much difficulty keeping up with this, because the insurance ran out a few months ago and it doesn’t look as if it has moved since.

I bet that you are all wondering what’s so exciting about this Daihatsu Hijet and the answer is that it’s not actually a Daihatsu HiJet at all but a Piaggio Porter.

And even more excitingly, if you peer through the grime and dust, you can see that this vehicle once bore the livery of “La Poste”. And that’s really interesting because it’s not very often that you see “la Poste” driving around in vehicles that weren’tmade in France.

daihatsu hijet piaggio porter loches franceActually, you might say that it’s a Daihatsu, because it’s part of a project that Daihatsu and the Italian manufacturer Piaggio had on the go between them.

Daihatsu did drop out of the project when that company was taken over by Toyota and Piaggio carried on alone.

There are three versions of this, and I think that this might be a Version II, that dates it sometime between 1998 and 2011.

One version of this that I would really like to see is the Italian Military version that is fitted with a machine-gun. Contrary to rumours, it does NOT have one forward gear and five reverse.

A little later I did have a spell of fatigue. I did think that this trip might be too much for me, but I pressed on all the same.

And then we had the disappointment back at my house. I imagine that you all guessed that it was there.

Instead of staying there for a couple of nights, which was the plan, I went for a coffee and a chat with Rob and Nicolette, and then hit the road yet again. By now I’d found my second wind and i was ready to drive all night, but one has to be sensible about these things.

There’s a B&B hotel just on the edge of Moulins and I’m here tonight. Two nights of additional expense and 150 miles out of my way. I could have stayed at home until Monday had I known how thing were going to turn out.

I’m now running ahead of my plans at much greater expense than imagined and I’m one extremely unhappy bunny.

Let’s hope that tomorrow cheers me up.

Tuesday 28th March 2017 – I’VE LOST COUNT …

… of the number of times that I’ve stepped out of my life. Just thrown a few boxes of stuff into the back of an old car, said “goodbye cruel world” and moved on.

And yet, as I sit in my little hotel room in Poitiers, I can reflect on the fact that however many times I’ve done that in the past, here’s another time to be going on with, because I’m doing it again.

I’ve long-since come to the conclusion that I can no longer carry on at the farm. I can’t even drag myself upstairs, never mind a pile of wood, water, food, all that kind of thing. I can feel myself going downhill from one day to the next and if I feel like this now, what am I going to feel like in 8 months time when winter starts? Being too ill to move in minus 16°C with no heat and no mobile phone signal to call for help is not really such a good idea.

And so I need to move on now. While I still can. And so for the last week or so I’ve been packing up boxes of my more important stuff and bunging them into the back of Caliburn. And after a visit to the bank at 17:00, we hit the road.

I’ve not taken some stuff that I wanted, and that’s for sure. The furniture that I had set aside, I’m not up to mountaineering across the barn to fetch it (yes, I’m beginning to realise that I’ve left this “moving” lark a little too late, haven’t I?”. And other things that I dearly wanted to take with me – well, I can’t find them anywhere as far as I have looked.

But a few things are notable by their consistency. I’ve always taken with me my LPs and my guitar (the Gibson EB3 bass) and they are all comfortable in the back of Caliburn. In fact, the guitar was the first thing to go in.

Howeer, to return things to their proper order, I had another good sleep last night. Tossing and turning a little as I seem to do these days, nevertheless it’s really comfortable in my bed. And then a nice early rising and breakfasting long before the alarm went off.

After a nice repose, I then attacked the barn once more, looking for some more stuff (that I didn’t find, of course) and making sure that I had forgotten nothing. And then taking down some more stuff to put in Caliburn.

Once that was all out of the way, I locked up the barn completely and then made a start on tidying up the attic and cleaning everything. I did have half a mind to take a pile of stuff down to the launderette to wash but that can al wait for some other time.

After lunch, Ingrid came round to visit me again and we blitzed the attic, vacuuming it and cleaning it from top to toe. It’s never been looking as nice as it does right now, that’s for sure. Everything else was loaded into the back and we sat down for a breather. THis was the first time that I’ve ever been ready well in advance of leaving. usually it’s all a last-minute rush.

Ingrid and I said our goodbyes and I went to Pionsat and the Post Office to stop my post deliveries. But as you might expect, the Post Office was closed. No idea what will happen about that now as I had dismantled the post box before I left.

At the bank I concluded the business that I had started the other day, and then we hit the highway. Me, Caliburn and Strawberry Moose. Only a vague idea of where we’re going to go. At the moment we are just going to drift around until we find somewhere nice to live. Somethind will turn up – it usually does… "it’s called “Prison”" – ed.

But driving through the mountains of the Creuse I was listening to Carole King singing “You make me feel like a natural woman”. Well, as it happened, I was feeling like a natural woman too, but where I was going to find one around there is anybody’s guess.

Monday 27th March 2017 – I AM COMPLETELY …

… utterly and absolutely whacked.

It all went wrong at about 04:30 when I awoke. 5 or so hours sleep – that’s not bad going.

And I couldn’t go back to sleep either and so by 06:30 I was up and about, tucking into my breakfast when the alarm went off.

After a brief (and I DO mean brief) pause, I went out to work. Whenever have I been out at work before 09:00? And by 10:30 I’d searched through the bits of the barn that were accessible (and a few bits that weren’t either) and while I did find a few things that will come in useful, I didn’t find what I was looking for.

And then I decided to tackle the job that I have been putting off and off for the last 6 years, ever since I returned from selling Expo – and that was to attack the stack of boxes in the lean-to.

6 years hasn’t been kind to them and there are several, complete with their contents, that are totally beyond redemption. Whatever I was keeping, and why I was keeping it, it’s all academic now. I filled another couple of bags of rubbish and that’s not half of it.

But at least by lunchtime that was half of the lean-to sorted through and a couple of boxes rescued. I dragged myself up into the attic for a break and a butty. I reckoned that I had earned it.

A little later, I was joined by Ingrid and we had a really good chat for an hour. We discussed the lean-to and then, to my surprise, Ingrid girded up her loins and we both went downstairs to attack the rest of the lean-to. The beauty of there being two of us was that we were much more focused and within about 45 minutes it had all been reviewed and a few more boxes rescued.

Good old Ingrid.

That was enough for today. Ingrid went home and I had to go to Evaux-les-Bains – apparently I had left a pile of papers and some money (and not an inconsiderable amount) in the hire car when I took it back on Friday.

So what a day. I’m done for, I reckon. I managed some pasta, mushrooms and ratatouille for tea, and now it’s bedtime. I can’t move.

But at least that’s a few things accomplished. And if I had more time, there would be more accomplished too. A raging bonfire is called for, I reckon. We’ve not had one in a bit.

And funnily enough, listening to the music and Velvet Underground come on. “I am tired, I am weary. I could sleep for a thousand years”.

Sounds about right.

Sunday 26th March 2017 – I SHOULD HAVE …

… gone out this afternoon but for some reason or other I wasn’t feeling up to it.

I’d had a late night last night and had a little awakening some time before the dawn. But I went back to sleep again and the beauty of it being Sunday and no alarm was that it was 09:45 when I finally awoke.

To find bright blue skies and a gorgeous sunlight pouring into the house. In fact, the temperature reached over 20°C in the attic, without any heating at all.

A leisurely breakfast followed as I slowly came round to face the day, and then after a while I attacked the sorting out of the attic. Everything that I can think of taking – with the possible exception of some food to tide me over for the next few days, was all boxed up and ready to go. And seeing as it was a bright sunny day, I vacuumed the place again with the vaccum cleaner thingy that I have.

That took me up to 13:00 and I should be now have been at Le Quartier. But sod that for a game of soldiers. I wasn’t up to it and so I stayed here and had a butty and a rest to gather up my strength.

Liz, Ingrid and Rosemary were on line so I had quite a lengthy chat with everyone. And by this time it was 16:00. I can’t sit here all day idly doing nothing. I started to move the boxes from here and from the bedroom downstairs.

I gave Caliburn another tidying out and then put the boxes in the back. I fetched a pile of stuff from the downhill lean-to and put that in there too. 12 boxes in all, and all of that took well over an hour. By the time I had finished and crawled (and I DO mean crawled) back up to the attic I was finished. From deciding that I needed a coffee to actually summoning up the force to make it, it took me an hour.

But I’d had a visitor too. A young boy who told me that he was looking for diodes and things like that. But it looked mighty creepy to me.

Tonight I finished off Ingrid’s stuff (the lentil, pepper and tomato sauce stuff was even yet better tonight) and once I can do the washing up, I’ll be off to bed.

But I bet that it’s going to be another hour before I can summon up the energy to do that. I’m clearly not well, as we all know and I must stop harping on about it.

Saturday 25th March 2017 – I’VE JUST SEEN …

… the most extraordinary football match.

Puy-de-Dome League Division 4 and two teams – St Gervais d’Auvergne III at home to Charbonnières II. Charbonnières were streets better than St Gervais – they missed a sitter almost from the kick-off but took the lead after about 5 minutes with a soft goal through the St Gervais keeper’s legs.

All one-way traffic it was with Charbonnières making it look so easy, and only some last-ditch outstretched feet and some astonishing saves by the St Gervais keeper who, I reckoned, knew absolutely nothing about any of them, just being in the right place at the right time and diving the right way, prevented Charbonnières from running riot.

But it was all too easy for Charbonnières and after about half an hour they eased off for some reason or other, and I don’t know why. And then the inevitable happened. A harmless cross into the penalty area, the Charbonnières keeper palmed it away, the loose ball hit one of his own defenders on the back and rolled across the line into the net.

Stunned silence from the crowd.

In the second half, Charbonnières struggled to get going. St Gervais were quite awful but they were slowly growing in confidence, with the opponents becoming more and more frustrated.

And then it happened.

A cross from the wing into the centre of the field, a St Gervais player hitting it on the half volley, and there we were, a most unlikely 2-1 for St Gervais.

Even more unlikely was that St Gervais scored a third just minutes later!

As the game progressed, Charbonnières finally awoke and went back on the rampage, with some more outstretched feet and some very fortunate goalkeeping keeping them out. But they did pull one back from a free kick with just minutes to go.

In the final minute or so Charbonnières threw everything, including the kitchen sink, at the St Gervais defence, and then we had a wild clearance out of the defence. The Charbonnières defenders had the idea of stepping up three paces to catch the St Gervais attacker offside.

But ohhh woe! Woe!

They were in the St Gervais half, and an attacker can’t be offside if he’s in his own half. The attacker picked up the ball, advanced totally unopposed on the Charbonnières goal and slotted the ball underneath the isolated keeper. 4-2.

And that was that. And the crowd are still shaking their heads even now.

The second match was between the St Gervais Second team and the First XI of Charbonnières, and this was much more evenly matched. Charbonnières took the lead with a good header, and as the game wound down towards the end, they slowed down the game. But two dramatic late goals from St Gervais turned the match around and Charbonnières then tried to speed up the game. But they couldn’t come back.

We had a few little niggles but all-in-all it was a good game.

But I’ll tell you something. I complained the other day about the lack of solidarity that I have received from most of my “friends” in the Auvergne. Today, there were several people whom I knew from Pionsat’s football team and while they all said “hello”, not one of them came to sit with me for a little chat, even though it’s been 18 months or so since I was last at a match and they all know about my health issues.

I’m really disappointed about that.

So last night was another bad night for me – awake in the middle of the night and then wide awake definitively at about 05:45. Up here in the attic (with a fire burning) long before the alarm.

After a brief rest I took a pile of boxes downstairs to Caliburn and loaded him up, and also put in some stuff from the verandah. Then I nipped off to the Intermarche at Pionsat for some bread and so on.

I didn’t do much when I returned, and after lunch I crashed out for an hour or so.

But before going to the football I removed almost all of the boxes from the attic and put them in Caliburn. That was heavy work and exhausted me completely. There’s still stuff to pack up here, but that’s Tuesday morning’s job.

And now I’m back from the footy I’m going to be doing the washing-up and then going to bed.

Sunday is a day of rest, but I bet that it won’t be.

Friday 24th March 2017 – CALIBURN HAS RETURNED!

And I should know, because I had to go and fetch him back. Of course that meant that I had to take back the little Skoda hire car but that’s no big deal.

Caliburn has had his rear end fixed (they even repaired the towing light sockets that I broke about 5 years ago but I didn’t say anything) and not only that, the nearside was stripped bare, all of the rust and stone chips ground out, the bare metal treated with anti-oxydiser, everything stopped, filled and sanded down, and a coat of primer then a coat of paint and then some varnish.

All of that came to a mere €283 – well, my bit did anyway – and I was expecting it to be more than twice that.

It’s true to say that you can see the join between the old and the new paintwork, but I’m not bothered about that. Caliburn is 10 years old and showing his age like I am. I just need him to keep on going for as long as I do without dropping to bits – that’s the plan anyway. Spending less than €300 to keep the bodywork together sounds like a good investment to me.

Last night was not so good. I went off to sleep easily enough but was awake by about 04:30 and struggled to go back to sleep again. By 06:30 I was up and about, and drinking my morning coffee when the alarm went off.

It was cold, damp, wet and miserable too, and so I lit a fire. I’ve decided that I need to keep warm no matter what while I’m here. It’s not as if I’m short of wood, as Terry keeps on reminding me.

I didn’t do much though this morning – spending a lot of time thinking about this and that and tidying up a pile of files on the computer that I have here – the old one with the smashed screen that I use as a desktop computer with added mouse, keyboard and external screen (the HDMI socket of the DVD viewer in fact).

Lunch was the rest of Ingrid’s delicious soup and then gathering my wits, I decided on a plan of attack. I fought (and I DO mean “fought”) my way into the verandah and the lean-to.

And there I really did hit the depths of despair because everything that I had set aside all those years ago – everything from Expo, the crockery and cutlery that I had bought specially – well, it’s all in a lamentable state having been stored in the verandah and the lean-to for 6 years. I should really have unpacked it all years ago, but I really didn’t have anywhere to put it.

Anyway, that really depressed me. I started dumping stuff into plastic bags to take to the tip – piles and piles of it – but that was soul-destroying and I lost all enthusiasm. The freezing cold and driving rain didn’t help matters either. I ended up with nowhere to put anything.

Instead , I went and fetched Caliburn, and then came up here for a warm by the fire and some more of Ingrid’s pepper, lentil and tomato sauce to go with my pasta.

Now I shall endeavour to fight off the depression that I’m in and go to bed. And hope that I can sleep too. It’s been a long hard day and the next four days are going to be even worse.

Thursday 23rd March 2017 – COURGETTE LEEK AND POTATO …

… soup for lunch. Tea was lentil, pepper and tomato sauce for my pasta, all followed by a raspberry and banana dessert.

The Lap of Luxury, you might think, and indeed you would be right because I had a Meals on Wheels service today. Ingrid came round with a pile of goodies that she had made this morning, especially for me!

Last night, my bunged-up nose and me were in bed early enough and I was soon asleep curled up under the quilt. I had to leave the bed at one point, but here’s a thing – when I went back to sleep it was until the alarm awoke me. And it’s been a while since that has happened.

Pouring with rain outside and cold, wet and miserable inside. I held off for a couple of hours but there’s no point in killing myself for no good reason – I ended up lighting the fire. And it soon became warm in here too. I meant to do some more packing but I couldn’t find the enthusiasm (no big surprise here). I just sat in the warm.

Ingrid came round at lunchtime with my food parcels and in exchange I gave her the big vegetable steamer that I was intending to use on my woodstove. No point in my keeping that now – it may as well go to a good home.

After Ingrid left, I carried on with a little (just a little) desultory tidying up but not making progress, and at 16:00 I rang up to enquire about Caliburn. Apparently he’s still not ready and won’t be done until tomorrow afternoon. And so I curled up in the warmth again.

I had my tea, with grateful thanks again to Ingrid, and then a little relax before going to bed.

But I need to organise myself much more than this. It’s all very well saying that I have nowhere to put anything until Caliburn comes back, but while this s true, I could be doing other stuff. But the weather is getting me right down. I can’t do anything when it’s cold, damp and wet.

I need a change.

Wednesday 22nd March 2017 – ONE THING …

… about being in bed early is that there I was, out like a light, with just the odd bit of tossing and turning, and that was how I stayed until about 06:40. Totally painless. And with the early morning sun streaming into my room, I felt so much better than I did yesterday.

But it had been freezing in the night. The windows in the attic roof were all iced over. But nevertheless it was reasonably warm in the attic while I had my breakfast.

And then I had some work to do. The technician was due to arrive and so it was a good reason to do a little tidying up. And with the bright sunlight I could use the vacuum cleaner too. That didn’t take too long at all.

When he arrived, he told me that the fault wasn’t at my place but at the exchange (GRRRR – after all that!) and in fact, when I looked, I noticed that I had a connection. he helped me configure it and then cleared off. And, as luck would have it, I received a message from Orange to say that as the fault was not on my premises, I wouldn’t be charged for the call-out.

And so as I settled down again, I had a phone call from Ingrid. She had to go to Marcillat and so I invited her round for a coffee – that’s the least that I can do. And that meant that I had to tidy up here in the attic too. I need to be pushed like this.

Anyway, she came round and we had a coffee and a good chat, and then, much to my surprise, she made me a sandwich. And, while I was eating that, she fetched me up a huge pile of wood. Saying that I was overwhelmed is the least of it.

We nipped into Pionsat for the Bank appointment and then came back here for another coffee before she hit the road back to Biollet. I made some tea and then, still struggling with my cold and cough, I headed off to bed.

My bed is absolutely beautiful and it’s soooooooo comfortable, and it’s a shame that I can’t take it with me. It’s out of the question for me to struggle with it out through the window here and down the scaffolding. I remember the issues that I had trying to get it up into the bedroom.

I shall have to think of a Plan B, and I have one in mind