Category Archives: Ingrid

Saturday 13th April 2024 – I’VE NOT BEEN …

… feeling too much better today.

Hardly at all, in fact. It’s probably a very good example of the old “same stuff, different day” with just a few of the times being changed around to suit different circumstances.

What’s surprising about this – or maybe it isn’t, I dunno – is that I raced around last night doing things as quickly as possible and actually ended up in bed at 22:40 and anyone would have thought that that extra 20 minutes asleep would have made a difference, but apparently not.

Nevertheless there I was in bed and ready for sleep quite quickly. There was still the occasional stabbing pain in my right foot going right the way up my right leg – in fact, there still is even now, but I suppose that I shall just have to learn to live with it.

There were a few times during the night when I awoke but it wasn’t until the alarm went off (correctly at 07:00) that I managed to drag my reluctant self out of bed and take the blood pressure. 16.8/9.4, compared with a figure of 14.2/9.8 last night.

So what had upset me and raised my blood pressure during the night then? We’ll have to find out.

Having checked the blood pressure I dragged myself off to take the usual morning pile of medication and then set out the dining room as the nurse likes it to be.

While she was here I told her that she has to give a decent amount of notice about stuff that she needs. This is only a small pharmacy here and some of the stuff is quite specialised so it needs to be ordered if we run out. There’s usually a rupture de stock for the more complicated items.

After she left I came back in here and that’s the last thing that I remember until about 11:00. Crashed out completely, like a light, I was.

In the kitchen I slowly began to assemble the stuff for my coffee ad cheese on toast but a crowd of Auvergnats interrupted me. They had come to the market for some local stuff to take back and had at the same time come to say “goodbye”. Their week is over – already! Doesn’t time fly? and tomorrow they’ll be heading home.

It really was nice to see them all and I hope that they come back again at some point. I can’t have enough visitors..

After they left there was football on the internet. Hwlffordd, pushing for the Europa League playoffs, against Colwyn Bay, fighting to avoid relegation.

But when your luck is down, it’s really down. And you can’t be 2-0 down after just 9 minutes and hope to fight until the end.

But seriously, Colwyn Bay have been down and out for a few months now. I thought that being managed by veteran Welsh International defender Steve Evans and having made a few marquee signings, they would have had enough to stay up. But their marquee signings disappeared a long time ago and the rest of the team has been playing like they disappeared a long time ago too.

The final score WAS 3-1 TO HWLFFORDD which means that only a mathematical miracle can save Colwyn Bay now. They must win their final match and hope that both Pontypridd and Aberystwyth are defeated.

After that I transcribed the dictaphone notes. I had two dreams quite quickly, one after the other, about a group of people who were quite well-placed something like Rosemary and her friends, but were going down a place where one could gamble, the kind of place where I was. You needed invitations to go in there and of course you needed a machine to work. There, you could gamble as much as you liked. There were certain limits on normal play but they could be negotiated away with the consent of all the parties playing. It was very much like a typical place about which you’d hear in the Auvergne. But in the third part the person who suggested that it was the Auvergne was correct and the machine had guested itself into there which meant that everyone could spend more time travelling to it and spend much more time sorting themselves out while they were there to have a play on it and to try to defeat the … fell asleep here …

Wherever this might be, I’ve no idea. The only place that comes to my mind is the Casino in Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic where I was a few years ago, but Rosemary and her friends have certainly never been there. However it’s a shame that I fell asleep in the middle of it as I would have liked to have found out so much more about it.

Then, the girls had all gone off to play one of these casino games involving pirates and pirate ships and they’d left me behind. What they hadn’t realised was that one of the alarms was still set and that awoke me for a short while. They were talking about this pirate game and an old German guy overheard them. He went immediately to have his hair cut. While he was having it cut he talked to the people in the hairdresser’s about the game, where you had to go to etc. so that he could make up a party too. I was in bed and, as I said, the alarm went off all of a sudden but it was a different alarm to the usual. Nevertheless it awoke me and made me quite disappointed that I’d not had a good lie-in, but had to make myself ready for the day

And that sounds like an interesting moment too, and I don’t have a clue what was going on here.

Il y a le musicien Eric Bell qui jouait pendant un certain moment avec Thin Lizzy et qui a accompagné Rosemary et ses amis avec son expedition. Il a en réalité chanté son chanson controversée dans la Halle des Bouddhistes sans être interpellé. Pour lui c’est son travail “bien fait, bien fini” et qu’il va avancer sur les autres choses

So I’m dreaming in French again. And about Eric Bell. I remember going to see him in London one night just after he’d left Thin Lizzy and was playing in his own band. But his PA had broken down and there were no vocals to accompany his music and it was something of a washout.

That night I remember sleeping on Hampstead Heath in the back of BILL BADGER, my old Austin A60 van. But I’ve no idea why I was actually in London in the first place.

He’s not however the kind of person to accompany Rosemary on any expedition but since when did reality have anything to do with what goes on at night?

After this I fell asleep again and awoke just in time for tea – another one of my delicious breaded quorn fillets with baked potato and salad.

So now I’m off to bed, with an extra hour to sleep (I hope) before the alarm goes off seeing as it’s a Sunday. But I really can’t do with all of this disruption to my routine. Staying in bed until 11:00 on a Sunday was much more like my line.

It beats me though why it(‘s of any interest My psychiatrist once asked me "what do you dream of in bed?"
I replied "I dreamed that I was in bed with Kate Bush"
"What happened?" he asked.
"Nothing" I replied. "She was dreaming that she was in bed with Roger Moore so I had to get out."

Thursday 11th April 2024 – I’VE NO IDEA …

… what happened to this morning.

There I was, sitting down at my desk typing out a few notes and the next thing that I knew was that I was flat out asleep the ‘phone was ringing and it was midday already.

A whole morning had passed and I’d been totally out of it. It was just as if someone had flicked a switch at some point earlier in the morning and I’d just switched off completely with no warning.

You’ve no idea whatever just how strange it feels to be in a circumstance like that. All that I can say is that it’s a good job that I can no longer drive.

This morning I knew that things were going to be difficult. I’d been awake since about 06:00 and was actually up early before the alarm went off. It was actually quite a struggle to leave the bed, no matter how it sounds, because I didn’t feel in the least like it.

It had been a late night too. This idea about trying my best to finish everything early isn’t really working and despite the best intentions, and the road to Hell is paved with those, I’m not doing aby good with the plan.

It was probably about 23:30 when I slipped under the covers and so awakening at 06:00 is simply not enough sleep. Heaven alone knows how I managed 30-odd years ago when if I thought I was having half that time in bed I was doing well.

So first thing was to check the blood pressure this morning. It was showing 16.9/11.2, which compares quite miserably with last night’s figure of 14.9/9.3. Something had gone on during the night to upset me, by the looks of things, but we’ll have to wait to find out what.

Instead of worrying about that I went to take my medication, the typical European Medicine Mountain of stuff, and then to rearrange the living room ready for her and also to have a good wash

While she was here she gave me a list of stuff that she needed and then wandered off, and I began to sort myself out. However it was at some point round about here that I disappeared off the face of the earth.

awakening was the thing, because I was totally out of it and it took me a good couple of hours (seriously) to come back onto this planet. It was certainly well after 14:00 when I restarted work.

First thing was to transcribe the dictaphone notes from the night – and from the morning too because there were some of them. But during the night I was back in Outer Space again assembling a rock programme. What I was actually doing was cutting an audio track from an obscure German rock group called Dreadnought, copying out the segments. There were dozens of them, all extremely long so it was a complicated business to do it. I was chatting to one or two people while I was doing it. They were apparently quite impressed and spent some time watching. I found that one of the women there, she knew exactly how to do it. She had a Welsh programme there and she was going through telling me how she did it, in Welsh, which I understood, saying “it wasn’t done in this way – it wasn’t done in this way and it wasn’t done in this way and it wasn’t done in this way but it was done in a way like this”, said in Welsh all the time and I could follow the conversation, I could follow exactly what she’d done. She made it sound really, really interesting. I thought to myself “maybe I ought to investigate things from that point of view and see how they fit with what I’m doing”

Funnily enough, just recently I have been editing a concert sound track by a German space-rock group called Dreadnought, another one of my contacts from one of the various Hawkfests, and it’s really quite interesting. But I wish that I knew in real life which method this woman was using. I’m completely self-taught in respect of my use of a sound-editing programme and can conjure up some surprisingly good results. But there are tons of facilities that I have never used, and some expert advice would really not go amiss

Later on I was back in a dream in Welsh. Our Welsh class had to translate an ancient song. There were two ways to do it, one was a translation after the fashion of Morgannwg … "presumably the poet Lewys Morgannwg" – ed … and the other after the fashion on Cadwaladwr … "presumably Cadwaladr ap Rhys Trefnant" – ed …. The problem was that both translations are rather inflammatory and as a result its use has fallen out of favour but nevertheless that was our task. One girl was already receiving some grief because her translation had come to the notice of the authorities and we were wondering all the way through the rest of this dream how long it will be before our version of the translation comes to the attention of the authorities, and what action they’ll take against us

And that’s the problem with much of Welsh literature of that period. It’s a tale of lament about the oppression of the native people by the wicked English and like many other things, it’s not very appetising to the English palette today.

While many countries have tried hard to come to terms with their past, in England there has never been any kind of attempt at reconciliation. There are a great many scars that have never ever healed.

While I was asleep during the morning there was also a complicated discussion going on about the use of personal pronouns, something else that seems to be quite a touchy subject these days.

As we said the other day, there are a lot of people with nothing better to do so they trawl the internet and places like that trying to find ways in which they might be offended. If you’re born with a certain gender and you don’t like it, then that’s your problem, not everyone else’s

Whoever it was on the phone who awoke me, I have no idea I was in no fit state to answer.

Instead I lowly (as in the next couple of hours) came back round into the Land of the Living and then made a start on the notes for the next radio programme.

Not that I went far because firstly the cleaner descended upon me with some supplies for the nurse, and then the Auvergnats came round to fill me in on their exciting day. Tomorrow they are off down the road to Mont St Michel so I’m being allowed a day of freedom myself. I’ll see them on Saturday for the last time.

But it was nice to chat about all of our old stamping grounds down in the Combrailles and to discuss all of our former partners in crime, most of whom have moved on to pastures new.

And that’s a shame because I really loved my life in the Auvergne. It was just how I imagined rural France to be and I’m glad that I managed to grab hold of one of the last vestiges of it before it disappeared completely

There was definitely something to be said for life down there, but it’s no life for anyone who is not 100% fit.

After they left there wasn’t much time left until teatime – some pasta and veg in a vegan cheese sauce with a couple of the falafel balls that I made the other day. Totally delicious.

So when I’ve finished everything again, my throbbing leg and I are going to bed and if the pain subsides I might even sleep. But it would be nice to have a regular sleep.

And by that I mean one with lots of dreams. Lee Jackson sang "YOU WOULD GIVE A SMALL FORTUNE
TO BE BACK IN YOUR DREAMS"

and he’s not at all wrong, not on my account anyway

It does remind me of the time that Nerina and I chatted about our dreams
Nerina said "I dreamed last night that I’d gone shopping in Asda"
"Really?" I asked. "I dreamed that I was making love to three beautiful, naked women in the park under a glorious warm sun"
"Was I there?" she asked
"Actually no" I replied. "You’d gone shopping in Asda"

Wednesday 10th April 2024 – TODAY HASN’T BEEN …

… any easier today than it was yesterday. I fact it was probably a darn sight worse.*

And that’s a shame because I was actually in bed earlier than I usually am and earlier than I would like to be For a change it didn’t take long to finish off what I need to do, and I was wracking my brains thinking of things that I might have forgotten to do.

But one thing about it was that I was doped up to the eyebrows with painkillers.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I usually eschew painkillers but I really was in so much agony that I just couldn’t carry on any longer.

It’s not my style, I agree. I think that painkillers do more harm than good, but in bed, I’m not likely to find myself in any mischief, especially as TOTGA, Castor and Zero have stopped coming to visit me during the night.

So doped up to the eyebrows … "you’ve said that once" – ed … I went to bed. And that probably explains why I went to sleep, didn’t awaken until 06:15 and left nothing on the dictaphone except a rambling account of how grateful I was.

It really was for once a good night’s sleep because I felt absolutely nothing at all. When the alarm went off I staggered out of bed, dressed myself and checked my blood pressure – 16.3/10.5, which compares with last night’s figure of 17.4/10.2. I’m not surprised that the pressure has gone down after last night’s chemically-induced sleep.

Next thing was to take the medication, the usual piles of it too. My friendly neighbourhood cleaner will be along at some point to verify the medication that I have.

Having arranged the room, the nurse came along to give me my rabies shot, or whatever it is. And then to bandage me up with the putties so that I look like something out of Ancient Egypt

On Sunday I shall have to make another one as nice as that. It will be really nice if that one is so good.

Don’t let anyone tell you that strong black coffee keeps you awake by the way because back in here I really was gone with the fairies. I had the guitar out for a short while to have a play but didn’t go far with it.

It was 13:35 when I finally awoke and then I had lunch and a good wash with change of clothes to make myself look pretty.

To my surprise I’d been away with the fairies during the morning. I was involved in some kind of crazy science fiction dream involving some mad scientists and a chemical. But there were two of me and one of them was dishonest and ready to fall in with the plans of the scientist and the other one of me was more honest and was intent on thwarting his plans

And that4s a story with a little history behind it that deserves to be told one of these days but will have to wait until the expiry of certain periods of Statute of Limitations in the UK.

There was also something else about the Welsh Premier League and attendances. I was actually out on my way to a ground to watch a game and was driving through Whitchurch although it was no Whitchurch that I ever knew and a discussion on attendances began. Someone had seen a paper with a figure given of 4,000 and whoever it was couldn’t believe it but I replied that until their current problems Aberystwyth could easily have that kind of figure as their support.

Not that that’s ever likely to happen either. The record crowd in the Welsh Premier League is 3250 at Porthmadog who came to see them play Bangor City, but where are those clubs now?

Mind you, at a second-tier match at Old Road in Llansawel there were 1201 spectators who packed into the ground to watch them beat Rhydaman, lift the Championship and prepare for their first season in the top flight for almost 30 years.

Wouldn’t it be nice though if 4,000 could pack into Park Avenue to watch Aberystwyth? However, with a League with no money, no real publicity, no real budget and operating under a mainstream media blackout thanks to the rugby clubs who pull all the media strings in Wales, It’s no surprise.

While my cleaner was here I carried on with yet more radio notes and then after she left my favourite Auvergnats turned up again for more cake and chat. This is becoming a habit. I don’t like sharing my cake, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall.

Tea tonight was another delicious leftover curry with naan bread, rive and vegetables. I’m really spoiling myself these days

So having done all of that, I’m off to bed. The pains have come back to some extent but I’ll try without painkillers tonight and hope that I’ll be OK

But talking about mummies and my puttees reminds me of the tomb that archaeologists discovered next to the Dead Sea in the Middle East.
"I wonder what it was for" asked one of the archaeologists
"That’s easy" replied another. "Being next to the Dead Sea, it’s probably a deceased Pharaoh’s weekend retreat"
"What do you mean by that?#34; asked the first
"It’s easy" said the second one. "This is where they’d all come to unwind after a busy week in the pyramid"

Tuesday 9th April 2024 – I’M NOT HAVING …

… a very good day today.

It seems that all of the fates have conspired against me. In particular, the stabbing pain in the sole of my right foot. I thought that it had disappeared after it was conspicuous by its absence during the night and during this morning.

But now it’s back, and in spades too. It’s like an electric shock all the way up my right leg that starts in the sole of the foot, and it occurs every 15 minutes or so. The pain at times is unbearable.

As well as that, there’s a continual tingling coming from the sole of the foot now as if there’s a low-voltage electric shock going on. I hate to think what might happen if it increases in intensity.

It had all died down towards the end of last night and for once in my life I was actually in bed at a realistic hour last night too so that I was able to take full advantage.

Not that I did though because not long after going to bed I pulled a muscle in one of my legs and it took an age to untangle myself

Somehow in all of the confusion the plaster over this weeping oedema on my right foot became detached and that was causing me all kinds of agony too. That really was painful.

And so I limped through to about 07:00 when the alarm went off this morning. And when the alarm went off I was editing two tracks of a girl who had been singing two songs belonging to Yes. I was doing them, preparing them for broadcast but I can’t remember their names now but I certainly did while I was doing it.

That’s just typical, isn’t it? Those names are on the tip of my tongue and I’ve been trying all day to recall them, but with no success.

First job of course was to take the blood pressure – 16.3/9.5, which doesn’t compare very well with last night’s 15.4/9.8. I wonder what went on to wind me up during the night. I suppose that we’ll find out very soon.

Next job however was to to and take my medication. Shovel all of that lot down and see how I get on.

Then to organise the room how the nurse likes it, ready for her visit. It’s Isabelle starting from today for the next seven days. She was impressed that the room was nicely laid out and that we had all the supplies we needed, but she was not so impressed with this weeping oedema.

It’s blistered over and so she “popped” the blister, and you can imagine just how that felt, and that was before she put some disinfectant on it

Once she’d gone I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. I was going to bed last night and I still had to think about who I was going to be dreaming about when I stretched and pulled a muscle in my left calf. It took ages for me to calm it down and put it back to how it ought to be, and by that time I was wide-awake and had completely forgotten all of how this dream had started off. It was to do with me going to bed anyway and making plans to dream but that’s everything that I can remember.

And that certainly was painful too. And what with every other pain in my body right now it was really something that I didn’t need.

Later on I was doing my Welsh homework and came to a frightful tangle and mess about it because the “copy and paste” seemed to be pasting the answers in in all kinds of strange positions. One of the things that I had to say was that the station of Y Pobl and another station were the two least-used stations of the railway network but I just couldn’t get the words out of my head. I was surprised that I remembered the word for “least” – leiaf but I just couldn’t seem to get the rest to come out in the correct order and was being really confused by it all.

And then I was making my breakfast at work. I had my little toaster there toasting my bread and my little gas stove that I was using to heat a kettle of water for my coffee. When I turned my back to fetch my margarine from the fridge someone else took my kettle off and put his saucepan on top to boil his water. Of course I was absolutely furious but this guy thought that it was quite a normal thing to do, to just use anyone else’s gas to make himself a coffee rather than buy a little stove of his own. He was extremely indignant when I told him off. And I was still being all confused with my Welsh homework too even then.

But it’s interesting about this recurring dream. Slipping back into the same dream after I’ve already dictated some notes is not something that happens very often. And it’s really a shame that I can’t choose the dreams into which I want to slip back.

And that reminds me – TOTGA, Castor and Zero haven’t been around for a while. I could do with them making a dramatic reappearance.

After the dictaphone notes I began to prepare for the Welsh lesson and was so enthralled by what I was doing that I lost track of time.

And it’s a shame that my enthusiasm didn’t carry over into the lesson. The lesson ended up being rather like the curate’s egg – “good and bad in parts”.

After the lesson I had the lunchtime fruit, collected the shopping that my cleaner had found for me in LeClerc, and then … errr … crashed out. And that’s no surprise as I had been fighting off wave after wave of sleep during my lesson.

The hospital awoke me with a phone call, but I don’t know what they wanted to say as I missed the call, and then the Auvergnats arrived. They’d been spying out the lie of the land and had been for lunch, followed by a walk and a coffee before coming here.

We put the world to rights for ages, and then they wandered off and I … errr … crashed out again.

Tea was a delicious taco roll again, with enough stuffing left over to make a start on a decent vegan curry tomorrow, but now I’m going to go to bed early if I can, and if these pains will let me.

They are hurting so much, and I have no idea why but I really am fed up of all of this. Maybe lying horizontally will stop the stabbing pain, but then I have all of the others including the likelihood of a pulled muscle, with which to contend

It’s like the man who went to the hospital for a consultation
"What’s the matter with you then?" asked the doctor
"I have this severe pain in my right leg" replied the man
After having given him a thorough examination the doctor replied "I’m going to amputate your left foot, your left arm and remove your left kidney"
"Will that stop my right leg hurting then?" asked the patient
"Not at all" replied the doctor "but you’ll be in that much pain from the other things that you just won’t notice it any more"

Monday 8th April 2024 – MY APARTMENT HAS …

… passed muster by a group of Auvergnats who descended upon the place this afternoon on their way along the coast.

Rosemary, Ingrid and their friend Clotilde have come to spend the week here on the coast to blow away the cobwebs in the corner of their minds. They found a nice house to rent and are intending to make the most of it, despite what the weather can throw at them.

This also means that my 200-watt Genz-Benz bass amp combo has finally made it home after all these years too. These are expensive pieces of kit and I found one languishing in a pawn shop in Ottawa for peanuts in 2019 when I was visiting my cousin Sandra.

It’s been a long tortuous journey for it to come to Europe. Some empty space in a shipping container meant that it could make it as far as Rosemary’s house in 2022 but it didn’t arrive there until after it left there

And aren’t I glad to see it?

It’s been a long time since I’ve had a decent bass amp and speaker close to hand. Probably since I blew the cone out of my 18″ reflex cabinet in the late 1970s, and since then I’ve been making do with whatever I could find.

Just recently – well, for the last 12 years – I’ve been using a Carlsbro 45 watt combo which probably would have continued to do the job for all the playing bass that I do in public these days but this was a deal that was far too good to turn down.

It’s not as if I actually needed it in Canada either because I had a Fender combo amp in the back of Strider through which I could plug the Jaguar bass guitar.

And those are other things that I need to arrange sometime to bring over here now that Strider has gone the Way of the West.

The Jaguar certainly, when I see the prices of those, for that was something else that I picked up for une bouchée de pain as they say around here and also in Montreal, where I found it in another pawn shop. I always seemed to have good luck in Canadian pawn shops.

However much luck it was, it was certainly more than I had last night in trying to go to bed.

By the time that I’d finished doing everything that I had to, it was much later than I intended and I thought “here we go again”. I’d had a miserable day, there was this stabbing pain in the sole of my foot and I was hours late going to bed. I really could do without all of this.

But eventually I fell into bed and that was all that I remember for all of a couple of hours, before I awoke quite dramatically again at some ridiculous hour of the night.

There was the impression that I stayed awake after that but when the alarm went off I was checking a postal delivery, looking at the form where it said “van driver – her signature” and then “client signature ” and one or two other things on it, otherwise making sure that the form complied with all of the relevant legislation before actually putting my signature on it. But I don’t know what parcel I’d received because I thought that I’d received everything. This must have been something completely different and unexpected that had come in the post like this.

It certainly wasn’t the amp – that didn’t arrive until much later.

First thing that I did when the alarm went off was to fall out of bed to look for the blood pressure machine, and then take the measurement. 14.4/11.5 it was this morning, compared to 15.4/7.7, the latter figure of which looks suspiciously incorrect.

After the medication I had to arrange the dining area so that it’s as the nurse likes it, and then make sure that everything is present. It’s his last day today for a week so let’s hope that he’s calmed down by the time that he comes back.

And let’s hope that my right foot has too, because there’s a weeping oedema on the foot that has reared its ugly head overnight.

Anyway, he cleaned it off and applied a plaster before he wound on my puttees. And he doesn’t like this pair. He thinks that the elastic has gone and I should throw them out but I should think so! They are only about four weeks old!

After he’d gone I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. I was watching a football match last night. There were two teams, one playing in all red and the other in all blue. They were amalgamations of a couple of smaller 5-a-side teams and playing in some kind of tournament but there was this one game that I was watching but that was really by accident because it was on in the background at a house that I was visiting a girl for some reason connected to the Air Force but my eye fell upon the game that was being broadcast on the TV. I became less and les concerned about the Air Force and more and more concerned about the game and what was happening on the screen.

And it wouldn’t be the first time that this has happened either. I’m easily distracted by interesting things that are much more interesting than what I’m actually supposed to be doing.

Next task was to do a final round of tidying up in the apartment before having a really good wash and brush up to make myself look pretty.

While I was waiting for them to appear, I had a little snooze (no surprise there) and carried on with the radio notes. I actually managed to finish off the programme that I started so many moons ago.

My visitors turned up with my amp and I made a pot of tea. Clotilde had bought one of her vegan cakes so we all had a little party as we recalled old times and life down there on the margins of civilisation.

It’s strange but, primitive though the life was up there in the mountains, it was a very pleasant place to be with lots of exciting things happening. It’s a place that I miss more and more with each day that passes but there’s no point having regrets. I can’t turn the clock back to more healthy times.

So after my visitors had met my cleaner, who brought around the next load of medication, they all left me to my own devices.

Once more I crashed out yet again and I was off on my travels. I had the start of a dream about an elderly but thin guy rather like Putin in an all-white football kit, but I had no idea what was going on there

And then later on I was planning on digging some trenches with a backhoe but there was some debate as to whether the ground was solid enough. I thought that it worked out at at least 55lb per sq inch but some others disagreed and thought that it was less solid.

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … what goes on in my head while I’m asleep is much more exciting than whatever happens in real life.

Tea tonight was a delicious stuffed pepper with plenty of stuffing left over to see me through the next few days too, and now I’m off to bed.

Tomorrow I have a Welsh lesson, but I must also write out a shopping list for my cleaner if she goes to visit the LeClerc.

It reminds me of the time that I went shopping with Hannah, my niece’s middle daughter, when we were loading up with supplies to go to a tractor pull in New Hampshire (what an exciting life I used to lead).
"How much water do you think we ought to buy?" asked Hannah
"How much beer do we have?" I asked
"Three crates full" she replied
"So why do we need water then?" I asked. I have never felt more like a redneck in my life

Thursday 23rd June 2022 – THAT WAS A …

… nice evening tonight.

Rosemary and I along with Rosemary’s Ukrainian refugee family drove all the way out to the camp site at Les Ancizes where we met Ingrid and Clotilde. We had a good evening meal and a good chat and the owner of the establishment even treated the Ukrainians to a round of drinks.

Miss Ukraine didn’t finish her burger so I teased her by saying that she wasn’t going home until she finished it but she put on such a sad face that not only did I relent, I let her have an ice-cream too. After all, every kid has the right to an ice-cream.

And there were no issues about being full up when the ice-cream arrived. She scraped the glass so hard to collect the last bits that Rosemary and I were convinced that if she carried on she would be through the glass and out the other side.

Mind you we were lucky that we could go. At 15:00 there was such a torrential rainstorm that I thought that the end of the world had come and the gale that accompanied it brought down a thick tree trunk in next door’s garden.

And it was another night full of celestial artillery too. Even though I went to bed early I was awoken at 0:40 by a clap of thunder that would have awoken the dead. And I was still awake a few hours later when the binmen came round.

After tea in bed I had a shower and then did some clothes washing. And while Rosemary ran Mr Ukraine into town to buy some stuff I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. Something had happened to a young person. All of his stuff had been damaged and waterlogged etc. In the end it had come to me so I’d sorted it out, dried it out, had it cleaned and everything. I rang up his parents about it. They were extremely unhappy to the point of violence about someone having been through all their son’s affairs. I thought that this would have been what someone would have wanted someone else to do instead of being given a huge mass of soggy wet and miserable paper and clothing etc but these people were really on the point of violence about all of this. I really couldn’t understand what was going through their heads.

Later on I’d written a letter and gone to have it printed but the printer had been going offset on my printer and it did it again so I had to go to find a public printer. I’d been working in the middle of the street in Crewe so I had to leave my things there and hope that no-one would pinch them while I went off to find a printer. Just as I was leaving there were these people in what looked like a Bond Bug but an enormous vehicle. There were probably 12 people, piles of kids as well as adults in this. They pulled out of a parking place, did a U-turn and hit my bag and drove off. I thought that the police would be interested in this. As I arrived at where I thought that I knew where there was a printer there were loads of these elderly motorcycles from 100 years ago and a few orchestras playing a song that I can’t remember now what it was. It looked like some rally of vintage motorbikes. I was really depressed that I hadn’t brought my camera with me for once. I arrived at this place and first of all I had to weigh my package but weighing t on this set of scales by this printer was so complicated and there were so many formulas even depending on the age of the person you were sending the parcel to, I was just hopelessly confused and couldn’t work out exactly what I was supposed to do and how much I was supposed to pay for posting it off. .

When they came back we were invited for coffee with the Ukrainians and then after lunch we had a major rainstorm and also a visitor.

That took us up to time to go for our meal. We crowded into Rosemary’s car and set off, going the pretty way past Chateau Rocher and Chateaneuf les Bains.

It was good to meet up with everyone again and chat and we all had a good time. I was definitely sorry when they all decided that it was time to go home.

Stopping in St Gervais to put fuel in Rosemary’s car we then came back the quick way vial Teilhet and Menat. After all, it was too dark to see anything

And so I’m off to bed. Having done my washing this morning I’m ready to hit the road again. I have to push onwards if I’m ever to get anywhere. I can’t hang around here for ever.

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.

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.