Category Archives: auchan

Monday 27th July 2020 – THAT WAS ANOTHER …

river allier vichy 03200 france eric hall… horrible day today. At one point during mid-afternoon the temperature inside the cab of Caliburn was 42°C and I had to stop and get out of the cab.

Luckily I was able to find a nice place to do so. To my surprise I found a parking place in the street in the centre of Vichy down by the River Allier so I could park up and go for a walk to cool off a little.

But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

This morning I was awake and about of bed before the first alarm, something that is always a healthy ambition as far as I am concerned. Plenty of time to attack the notes on the dictaphone because by the sound of things I’d trvalled for miles during the night.

I’d been with Ingrid on board a ship obviously going somewhere and it’s quite clear that we are a couple. We were watching a few other things happening. A notice that we saw said something like “COVID 19 flights to Egyot suspended at the end of April”. As we were roaming about at the end of the stairwell which was cut into the rock evidently we came across another couple and we chatted to them. We ended up down in the basement of the ship trying to find out which were the doors to our particular deck but we were fooling around and quite clearly a couple, the two of us.

Later on we ended up back at my house but my house had been sold, although my possessions were still there. As we walked in through the door there were all these cats there. 3 small cats in waste paper bins and so on. I said “this is typical. Look at these cats. My cats are still in possession and they have sorted the other ones out”. We walked around the kitchen but heard a noise from the living room. I said “hello, anyone there?”. Eventually a Dutch guy came out, youngish, very tall. he came round and shook my hand, said “welcome back from your holidays” and had a really good chat to me, most of which wa in Dutch which I didn’t quite understand. I was with Rosemary and Lieneke. Of course Lieneke was very much in demand for this conversation too.

By now we were all on board THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR but it was a coach. it was time for us to get off so I walked down to the front of the coach saying goodbye to everyone. Castor and Pollux were there so I said goodbye to Pollux but Castor, I smiled at her, put my head very close to her and said “thanks for everything”. She looked extremely uncomfortable when I said that. That was when I walked down the coach and got off. This was somewhere about Scholar Green and we were looking at a map to work out our way across to Alsager, that way. It was a bit difficult to work out exactly where we were because there were two roads, both of which went across and we could have been stuck by either of them. We were certainly out beyond the confines of Stoke on Trent in that particular area. But it was the look on Castor’s face that got me – a look of real fear. That was what awoke me.

Rosemary had brought me a cup of tea at about 07:30 and by 08:30 we were having breakfast. Afterwards, I packed and loaded up Caliburn, even rescuing my pushbike from Rosemary’s barn where it had been hiding for the last 6 or 7 years or so.

Before I left I fixed Rosemary’s settee and also finished off connecting up her television to her livebox – a task that involved telephoning the helpline.

Off on the road I went, as far as Clermont Ferrand. First stop was the Auchan where I encountered a most unhelpful Secury Guard, bought some more supplies and then I fuelled up Caliburn ready for the long haul east.

Second stop was at IKEA where I bought the rest of the storage jars that I needed, as well as a few other bits and pieces. But I didn’t buy a temporary mattress for Caliburn due to the absurd price that they wanted for one – €79:00 for a folding foam-rubber chair that opens out.

Ad as for the food, that was a major disappointment. I ended up with just a plate of chips and a lump of bread. No salad or anything.

The heat was stifiling when I went outside and it was really uncomfortable and the drive wasn’t very comfortable. Leaving Clermont Ferrand, I went north-east through the countryside and arrived at Vichy

home made raft river allier vichy 03200 france eric hallBut here I had to stop. It was impossible to go any further in this weather. I was melting.

There was a parking place at the side of the road near Parc Kennedy so this was where I stopped. It was a pleasant if not sweltering walk down to the banks of the river but once I was in the shade it was very nice indeed. I was quite envious of the people who were out there on their little home-made rafts going up and down the river.

Being a Pisces I would quite happily have been out there with them.

plage des celestins parc kennedy river allier vichy 03200 france eric hallThere’s a beach there too, the Plage des Celestins, and that was quite a popular place, as you can see in the photograph here.

There’s an ice cream stall, a place to hire deckchairs and also a place where you can hire little boats and so on. And then the row of yellow buoys out there mark the limits to which people can swim in the river. You can see that the boats going out into the river from the slipway at the far end of the swimming area.

A really nice walk along the river in the shade for half an hour cooled me down and I resisted the temptation to see if they had any vegan ice cream on sale. I didn’t fancy standing in the queue.

parc kennedy pont aristide briand pont bellerive river allier vichy 03200 france eric hallAt the end of the Parc Kennedy there’s a bridge across the River Allier.

It’s know, locally as the Pont de Bellerive because it connects Vichy to the town of Bellerive sur Allier on the other side of the river, but as the legendary French politician Aristide Briand had died just a couple of months before its official opening, it was named the Pont Aristide Briand in his honour.

Until the eary 1960s it was the only bridge across the Allier at Vichy but it’s by no means the first bridge. There was even a bridge across the river here recorded by Julius Caesar in 54BC although it might have been built by his soldiers on their way to the Battle of Gergovie.

There have been several subsequent bridges here and this one dates from 1932.

having cooled down a little I headed off eastwards through the mountains towards the Rhone valley, but I didn’t get very far. Tonight I’m in a modern unit hotel in Paray-le-Monial. Because of the heat I had the air conditioning on full blast for an hour and then a shower and a clothes wash.

Tomorrow I’m not going far but I’m still having an early night. I’ve already crashed out once this evening and I’ll be gone again if I don’t get a move on.

Saturday 28th October 2017 – BRAIN OF BRITAIN STRIKES AGAIN!

There I was, doing the rounds of LIDL with a bag full of shopping. Just about to put my shopping on the convenyor when I reached into my pocket for my wallet with my money and bank cards in it.

Yes, I’d had my raincoat on last night, hadn’t I?

I had to dump my bag behind one of the empty tills and nip home for my wallet.

It won’t happen again though. I’ve left €50 in Caliburn and another €50 in the secret pocket in my mobile phone case. But what a silly thing to do!

A strange thing happened this morning. It was 08:20 when I awoke this morning. No alarm. For some reason or other the telephone had stalled at 23:49. And so we didn’t have sucj a good start to the morning anyway.

After doing some stuff on the laptop I went off for my trip around the shops and my unexpected return here. But the old washing machine has now gone to the great laundry in the sky – the dechetterie was open this morning which makes a change. The fridge is there too, along with another pile of cardboard boxes that had accumulated

At the Auchan I did the rest of the shopping. Including some frozen sprouts, frozen mushrooms and frozen peppers. What with the mango sorbet and the loaf of bread the freezer is now full. It’s far too small for what I need and I’ve a good mind to take it back to swap it for a bigger one.

Mind you, I thought that the fridge was far too small too, but I’ve managed to rearrange things around in there and there’s plenty of room in there now. I imagine that once I start to attack the frozen food it will be the same in the freezer there too.

After lunch and a bit of tidying up, I crashed out for half an hour or so, and then I caught up with a few other things that needed doing too.

football us granvillaise es hebecrevon cite des sports granville manche normandy franceBut this evening US Granvillaise’s 3rd XI were playing ES Hébécrevon on the artificial pitch at the Sports Centre. And as it was a reasonable evening, I dressed up warmly and walked all the way there. It’s about 3.5 kilometres up and down hill, and I reckoned that it would do me no good.

Much to my surprise the Sports Centre was closed up, so there was no buvette. How is this possible? In the Auvergne they wouldn’t even consider having a public event without a buvette, and yet here we are, twice in two days, THis isn’t the France that we know and love, is it?

As for the match itself, Granville were bottom of the league without a win and Hébécrevon were 9th. So I was expecting another defeat. But much to my surprise I saw one of the best matches I’ve seen for quite a while.

Granville were much better than their league position suggested and played some beautiful football. Hébécrevon huffed and puffed but never looked likely to seriously trouble the Granville defence, and the home side scored three of the best goals that I’ve seen for a while.

All three of them breakaways, two of which were solo efforts and the third was a cross from the young lad playing left-wing (who had an excellent game) into the centre to the forward who hit it on the half-volley straight into the corner of the net.

I walked back home wfterwards, stopping for a bag of chips. And nice they were too.

Now I’m off to bed and it’s a lie-in tomorrow with an extra hour in bed. We put the clocks back tomorrow – 1 hour if you live in the real world, 50 years if you live in the UK, 120 years if you voted for Brexit and 250 years if you voted Conservative.

Saturday 21st October 2017 – IT SEEMS THAT FATE …

… is conspiring to be on my side just for a change

I awoke this morning without the help of the alarm clock, and that hasn’t happened for quite a while, has it?

But the bad news about this was that it was light outside. It was actually 08:52 and the alarm hadn’t gone off. The battery had gone flat during the night. So much for my efforts in trying to regulate my day, but at lzeast it gave me a chance to catch up on my sleep and that made me feel a little better.

The trouble with this though is that it ha a kind of domino effect. Getting up late meant that breakfast was late, and meant that going to the shops was late too.

First stop was LIDL of course. I stocked up with a few things there, as well as a ile of grapes. The price has increased today, but only to €2:29 a kilo and that’s still cheap.

A visit to some electrical shops was next on the cards to see if I can better what I saw in BUT the other day. I had a good look round but nothing seemed to compare with what was on offer down the road.

After the food shopping at Auchan I went to bite the bullet and sign away my life at BUT but … ARRRGGGHHH … too late! It’s lunch-time now and the two-hour lunch in France is sacred. The shop is closed.

And so I came back here, unloaded the shopping and had lunch.

After lunch, I did a little clearing up in here. It’s looking quite untidy after I’ve been here for a week – only I can do that – and having had a little snooze (and I’m not sure why) I had a chat to Rosemary on the telephone. And that was a chat that went on for several hours. We have a cunning plan for the New Year.

That took me nicely to tea-time. And just for a change I had baked potatoes, beans and vegan sausages. Nice they were too. And there’s enough left over for a couple of days too.

The weather put paid to my plans to go for a walk. It changed dramatically yet again late in the afternon and we ended up with a howling gale and a terrific rainstorm. I wasn’t going out in that.

But the one thing about having a lie-in and having a crash-out during the day is that it’s evening again and I’m not tired. Another late night, I reckon.

Monday 16th October 2017 – I MEAN, YOU HAVE TO LAUGH.

There has been the most astonishing weather here today. In fact, pretty much the same as in the rest of Western Europe. Devastating high winds, pitch-black at 14:00, the sun a mere orangey thing somewhere behind a dark black cloud.

Loads of people have passed comment on it today, but it was all killed off by one poster who said “Everyone banging on about weird light and a strange orange glow in the sky clearly didn’t spend the 1970s in Teesside”.

It’s this Storm Ophelia that is doing it, a storm named after Ophelia, the daughter of that Labour politician Ed Balls, and I’ll bet that it will take you a minute or two to think about that.

He was famous for writing a speech for Gordon Clown, the-then Prime Minister, which prompted William Hague, leader of the Tory Party in Opposition, to rise from his seat and say “that sppech – typical Labour, it’s all Balls”.

The storm isn’t though. Half of BUT was closed off while they were dealing with something big and heavy that had come crashing down through the roof into the shop during the night.

During my night though, I went on my travels again. But I don’t remember where and it wasn’t for long because it was almost 02:00 before I ended up in bed. Jet-lag strikes again, I reckon.

The alarm went off at 06:00 but I was … errr … somewhat tardy in leaving my stinking pit.

LIDL was the first port of call for me today. And here I did the usual shopping, but plenty of it seeing as I’d let the stocks run down somewhat. It was the same story in Auchan.

In bewteen the two, I went to BUT, negotiating the debris in the store. The stuff in there was better quality and better price than in the Auchan and I was almost ready to sign on the dotted line.


I asked if they had a delivery service and installation service and if they took away the old appliances, which they did. But it’s not free.

“It’s €30:00” siad the guy in the shop.
“Per delivery?”
“No, per appliance”. And they are bringing in three and taking out two.

So “sodomisez ça pour un jeu de soldats” as they say around here. We need a Plan B.

But Plan B won’t be the Auchan as their stuff is rubbish.

And here’s a thing.

After months of hassling, the Bio-Coop is now starting to sell Vegan cheese. It’s not the best by any means, but it’s a start and it goes to show you the power of persuasion. You’ll remember that I did the same at Amaranthe in Montlucon.

So I bought some, and some sausages. And that also meant pizza for tea seeing as how I’d missed out on Sunday.

I half-unloaded Caliburn and then I had to go for a sit-down for … errr … a while. That meant a very late lunch. And a bit of desultory tidying up – not very much of that.

Right now I’m feeling the strain so it may well be an early night for me. I’ll be like this for a week or so until I find my rhythm.

Friday 23rd June 2017 – I’VE BEEN SPENDING …

… my money again today.

I’ve decided, with a great deal of reluctance, that the second instalment of furniture from IKEA can wait – and wait until I come back from Canada too.

I’m going to Canada for two months and I intend to have something of a good time while I’m there – hence the decision to be careful about what I spend in the meantime. Consequently there are a few things that I need that are very important around here that can’t wait until IKEA.

Like a wok (I bought a new one a while back as you might remember, but it doesn’t work on my induction hob), a dressing mirror for the bedroom, a laundry basket – stuff like that.

GIFI Was having a sale and so I blitzed round there this morning and acquired a laundry basket, a big dressing mirror that hangs on the back of the door, a waste bin for the bathroom, a large set of plastic drawers for the office, a chalk board and some chalk.

I went to NOZ too. And here my luck was in. NOZ is a chain of shops in France that sells bankrupt stock lines, overstocks and all that kind of thing, and is always worth a browse. Today, they were selling inter alia a variety of herbs and spices in those nice little octagonal jars that look so good. All at €0:99 each. And so i stocked up on the herbs and spices that I need and next week I’ll go back for more (if there are any) because the jars, when they are empty, will be ideal for refilling with other herbs and spices.

As for a new wok, a couple of weeks ago I’d seen one that I liked. Aluminium isn’t good for the health and these coated non-stick pans – the coating comes off them far too easily. But they had a range of these ceramic pans in the Auchan. Quite expensive, really heavy, and guaranteed for years.

I enjoy cooking very much, but doing it in sub-standard conditions with sub-standard equipment always gets me down.

And so I but the bullet and invested in the aforementioned. I’m fed up of frying stuff in a saucepan.

While I was there in the Auchan I bought some frozen peas and carrots too. Let’s hope the fridge keeps going until I can buy a freezer. Then I’ll be moving onwards and upwards.

But with the late night last night it was quite something to try to crawl out of bed. But a shower soon brought me round (well, almost) and a shave and clean clothes made me feel much better. The new washing basket is full now, so that will be another trip to the launderette some time soon.

On the car park at the Auchan, we had an exciting moment as some woman reversing out of a car parking space as I was walking past took my trolley with her. Had I been half a second later and she would have taken me with her too. And in the confusion that followed, I became separated from my baguette, and one or two other things too I suspect.

So it was a pretty thin lunch that I had today – and this afternoon I crashed out until … errr … 18:15. Heaven alone knows why. I reckon that it was about three hours that I was away.

There was one more slice of pie in the fridge and so I finished off that with my mash, peas and carrots done in the little steamer. We had mint and garlic in the spuds and rosemary on the veg and it improved everything considerably. I even remembered to make the gravy.

But the pie was delicious – I have to say that. And I’ll be baking another one in the near future. With the herbs and spices that I bought today, it should be even more so.

All in all, my diet is definitely improving and I’m glad about that.

Thursday 16th March 2017 – I THOUGHT THAT YOU MIGHT LIKE TO SEE …

hotel des gatines cosne cours sur loire nievre france… my hotel.

It might not look very much from the outside but I’ll tell you something – and that is that it’s the first time since about 1990 that I’ve made a conscious on-the-spot decision to stay over for a second night in a hotel.

The staff is extremely friendly, the breakfast is adequate, the room is clean and tidy and the bed is one of the most comfortable that I’ve ever tried. And being right out here in the countryside, I didn’t hear a thing during the night.

The one problem with going to bed early though is that one has a tendency to wake up early too, and by 06:00 I was wide awake. I had to wait for breakfast though, which I’d booked at 07:30, and so I had the pleasure of David Bowie reminding me that it was 07:00 with his “Wake up, little sleepy-head. Shake off your clothes, get out of bed!” followed at 07:15 by Billy Cotton going “Wakey waaaaaaa…. KAY!”. Ohh the joys of “Audacity” and the ability to customise my own sound clips.

After breakfast, I sat outside in the sunshine and attacked some work that had been building up. That gave me an opportunity to have a rest and relax for a few hours. And then I hit the streets.

First stop was through the town and out the other side to the Auchan supermarket to negotiate some food for lunch. I had a good look at what was going on in there too because I wanted to see what was on offer because, as you know, I have some cunning plans. Finding the entrance to the car park was quite the thing though – it wasn’t all that easy.

old car peugeot 203 briare loiret franceonce I was back on the road, I didn’t get very far. Only just about into the département of Loiret, where I came to a shuddering halt.

Here on the side of the road, jealously guarded by Rover, was a Peugeot 203 sitting here dans son jus as the French say. My ideal kind of vehicle and had it been a pick-up or even a van, I would have gone straight home for my trailer to tow it away.

old car peugeot 203 briare loiret franceIt’s actually at the entrance to a car body repair shop, and it does serve a purpose just sitting here outside. That’s because inside, there are several other vehicles, including another Peugeot 203, that have been restored.

The garage proprietor explained to me (we had a very lengthy chat) that he has some excellent staff working for him and when times are slack he doesn’t want to lose them. So he picks up vehicles like this and his staff work on them whenever there’s a pause in the work.

It keeps them employed, and gives them an opportunity to demonstrate their skills by bringing something like this back to life.

pont canal de briare loiret franceBut before long, in the beautiful sunshine, I arrived in Briare – or to be more precise, Briare-le-Canal – which was my destination for today.

And I had good reason to be here too. Being a Pisces and at home whenever I’m close to water, there are not many places closer to the water than around here. I have one beautiful river – the Loire, of course, and no less than three canals.

And not only that, a magnificent structure designed by Gustave Eiffel. The Pont-Canal (or aqueduct) de Briare, and it’s one of the most impressive of its type in the whole world.

pont canal de briare river loire loiret franceBut first of all, it’s lunchtime and I attack my butty with gusto. And I’m not alone here either because I’m joined by a woman from Paris in an old Fiat Multiplas who seems to travel just as I used to in North America, with everything inside and even a place to sleep.

She reckons that she’s even been as far as the North Cape in Norway travelling like this.

I have to say that I was very impressed, because it’s rare to see someone travel like that these days, and a single woman even more so.

pont canal de briare loiret franceSo having had my butty and a good chat, I went for a wander around. A slow wander, it has to be said, because the day was really hot. Easily the best day of the year to date.

So to let me put you in the picture, let me tell you a little about the history of where we are. Everything here is centred around the first of the canals to be built here, and that goes back to, would you believe, the early 17th Century.

pont canal de briare loiret franceWe mentioned yesterday when we talked about Cosne-sur-Loire that the river here was a major transportation route, right back as far as history records. Roman roads were of course very well-known and very well-built, but technology didn’t exist for the transport of large amounts of items.

We saw, when we were in Clamecy a few years ago, how the timber from the Forests of Morvan was cut down and floated off to Paris where it was used as firewood.

pont canal de briare loiret franceIn any case, the techniques of road-building were for all intents and purposes lost once the Romans had passed on, and what passed for roads in early medieval days were nothing but beaten earth and descended into an impassible morass at the first sign of heavy rain.

There was thus no possibility of sending heavy loads by road, and so rivers became the only reliable method of transport.

pont canal de briare loiret franceAnyway, we move forward to the start of the 17th Century and the decision by Sully, the First Minister of King Henry IV to improve business between the different regions of France. Da Vinci had come up with the idea of canal locks and so Sully decided that a canal should be built to link the valleys of the River Loire and the River Seine, incorporating Da Vinci’s ideas.

Construction began in 1604 and after a pause following the assassination of the King, the canal was finally opened in 1642. It was one of the very first in Europe to use locks.

parallel canal pont canal de briare loiret franceAs boats became bigger and bigger, and traffic became heavier, navigation on the River Loire in places became more problematic. As a result, a canal was built in places parallel to the river to avoid the most difficult stretches of the river.

This section here that we can see runs (or rather, ran, because some of it has been abandoned) from Chatillon sur Loire to a short distance beyond Briare where it joins up with the original entrance to Sully’s canal.

pont canal de briare loiret franceBut commerce, evolving as it does, required a new navigation system and this led to a modernisation of Sully’s canal and a “regularisation” of the route. This led to a new trace being built, and this required an aqueduct across the River Loire and the parallel canal.

In 1889 a decision was made to build the aqueduct across the river, and Gustave Eiffel and his company was brought in on the project, with construction of the metalwork entrusted to Daydé & Pillé. Construction began in 1890 and the first boat, the Aristide, crossed over on 16th September 1896.

pont canal de briare loiret france662 metres long, the aqueduct is, and it’s absolutely beautiful. It became registered as a national historic monument in 1979 and what surprises me is that it took so long for its importance to be recognised.

And important it is too, because For many years it was the longest metal canal aqueduct in the world, maintaining its place at the top of the list until as recently as 2003 when it was overtaken by a new aqueduct in Germany.

pont canal de briare loiret franceAnd so I went for a beautiful walk across it and back along the other side today in the glorious weather. And I have to admit that I spent a good few minutes sitting on a bench, catching my breath watching a member of the Water Board painting the decorations on the pillars.

A coffee would have been nice too but astonishingly, there wasn’t very much in the way of cafés open. Just one in fact, but it was the kind of place where you needed a bank loan to buy a drink.

pont canal de briare loiret franceI just don’t understand people who are in business. Hordes of people wandering around and yet no-one seemed to be too interested in taking their money. Any self-respecting café owner should have looked out of his window, seen the beautiful day, seen the hordes milling about, and set out his stall accordingly.

It really is astonishing, the money-making opportunities that are being overlooked these days. No wonder there’s a recession at the moment.

Anyway, I headed back to my hotel and a lengthy chat with the landlord, putting the world to rights. And then back to my room for a doze followed by the remainder of my meal from last night. Potato salad is a very good standby and I’ll be doing this again.

Now I’m having an early night yet again. I need it.

Friday 11th March 2016 – JUST IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING …

… what happened last night with me not posting my blog, the answer was that by the time 20:15 came around, I was already tucked up in bed and out like a light. Crashing out was certainly the word – I had gone completely.

But then again, I’d had a hectic day – and one that had started not long after I had gone to sleep. And furthermore, it all started with yet another appearance by a girl who has been described on these pages as “the one that got away”. But for the second time in succession, she didn’t get away from my evil clutches last night.

Ohh no she didn’t!

I’d been out yet again in Nantwich, having been for a really good wander all around the Crewe Road End – Millstone Lane area of the town, having a good look at all of the houses and so on. And all of the area behind the houses on Millstone Lane, between there and The Crofts, had been cleared away, flattened and rolled out ready for a new housing estate to be built there. Even Flash Meakin’s hovel had gone. I wandered over there to make a brief inspection but the builders tried to chase me away. However, it was common land and so I had every right to be there, and I made sure that they knew it. And there I stayed. Having made my inspection, I wandered off to continue my travels and this is where I bumped into the aforementioned young lady. She was living on The Crescent apparently and so she invited me in for a coffee. We had a really good chat about old times and then she invited me to stay for dinner. So I prepared all of the vegetables and she cooked the food – a risotto it was. I was given a choice about what I wanted for dessert – beans on toast was mentioned (this is why I enjoy so much going on these nocturnal rambles – they are totally surreal) but of course I had some completely different ideas about what I wanted to have for afters. But I settled on a banana, which I suppose is rather symbolic. But then her young daughter came in and was telling us about how she had been threatened by some young boy who had somehow found his way into the house. She had been in the attic and had gone out onto the roof to see what was making a noise, and he had sneaked in behind her. When she came downstairs he surprised her. She was shocked and so the police were called and he was carted off, even though he insisted that he’d only done it for a dare. He ended up with 30 days inside and was ostracised by all of his friends. In the meantime, the two of us were carrying on chatting and the conversation came round to what was happening in the evening. I invited her to the cinema and her daughter thought that this was a really good idea. But her elder boy looked rather worried as if he was afraid of having his mum taken away from him. But there was no doubt that she was really keen to go to the cinema with me and I was of course just as keen to take her.

Yes, it’s a shame that things like this don’t happen to me in real life.

The alarm went off before I’d reached the exciting bit and it left me wondering about what would have happened had I been able to sleep in until the usual time of 07:45 instead of this wretchedly-early time of 07:00. I was feeling as if I’d been cheated out of 45 minutes of wishful thinking, but there we are, I suppose.

I was on the road by 07:40 and at the hospital at 08:35, managing to pinch the next-to-last parking space on the car park. The allergy clinic is weird, with just a half-dozen or so of comfortable seats, and with le being the first arrival, I had the pick of the chairs – right by the door by the power point. I had some kind of pattern drawn in biro on my arm, with initials and numbers, and then injected and some kind of fluid rubbed in. One or two of them flared up quite dramatically and the nurse measured them with some kind of hole gauge.

The nurse then found a sheet of something that resembled an aluminium-backed piece of bubble-wrap, peeled off the sticky front of it, stuck it to my back and then burst the bubbles so that, presumably, the product in each bubble would interact with my skin. I have to leave this on until Monday.

But if I think that I’m hard done-to, what happened to me was nothing to what happened to the young girl next to me. They drew some kind of chess-board on her arm and she had a huge number of injections, a couple of which flared up like nothing that I have ever seen before. One of them was starting to look like something out of Quatermass’s Experiment.

I felt so sorry for her that I let her have my cake that came with our mid-morning coffee. And then I invited her for a game of draughts on her arm.

One thing though that surprised me was that each one of us, on entering the room, had a drain put in our arms. Not that that was surprising, the surprising bit was that they didn’t use it for anything. Rather a waste of effort to me. But at least the nurse who did it had “the touch”. I hardly felt a thing.

But my results were such that I have to come back for a full morning on Monday, and an hour or so on Tuesday. And as for my Monday-morning blood test, the nurse will do it then and there as long as I remember to take my prescription with me.

We were thrown out at 12:00 and I went down to the Amaranthe. I bought some more vegan cheese and some mixed seeds, as well as a couple of hundred grams of muesli biscuits. I think that I deserved a little treat. But the Amaranthe is now selling Mozzarella-like vegan cheese (and this is progress, considering that even 18 months ago they didn’t stock any at all), although I didn’t buy any to try as it looked to be tainted. I’ll pick some up next time maybe.

Lunch was a plate of chips and vegetables at the Flunch, and then I went around the Carrefour and the Auchan for some shopping. There were no loose porridge oats, but the Auchan “own-brand” packaged oats were a reasonable price so I bought a few packets of those. I can’t be without my muesli now, can I?

I went home afterwards for a relax and to look for some more stuff that I forgot the other day. I still can’t find my Paint-Shop Pro disk but I did manage to find my dash-cam. I’ve also copied all of the dictaphone notes onto a rewritable DVD and onto a back-up drive, one thing that I’ve been meaning to do ever since I finished transcribing them.

I went to the pharmacie in St Gervais on the ay back here. I needed to pick up the medication that I ordered. The good news about this is that a month’s supply of the new injections only cost half of the price of the current lot, and then of course it’s only going to be once a day too. So that’s something like progress anyway. I shan’t be struggling quite as much for finances.

But the bad news about it is that the other injection that I need to take with me to the hospital next Friday – it’s more like an injection for a cow or a horse, judging by the size of the box. I don’t like the idea of that.

I also forgot to ask for some more boxes for my empty needles, and then I also realised that I hadn’t been to pick up my paperwork from the Archives at the hospital either. It clearly wasn’t my day. And on leaving the town, someone in a small silver saloon of which the registration number began CZ flashed his lights and waved at me. I wish that I know who it was.

Chips were on the menu back here, so that’s twice today. Not that I am complaining of course, because we have real malt vinegar here. And then I crawled off to bed – I didn’t even go out for my walk, but then that’s no big deal because I’d walked enough (at least, for my present state of health) today.

And with this patch-thing on my back, I’m glad that I had a shower yesterday.

And so are we” said terry.

Monday 3rd August 2015 – I HATE PEOPLE …

… who post on the internet photos of what they have been eating.

vegan meal clermont ferrand puy de dome franceHowever, just very occasionally, there are rare occasions where a meal merits being photographed, and this is one of them.

Right in the centre of Clermont-Ferrand this lunchtime, not one of the restaurants had a vegan meal on offer, but there was one where the chef was busy plying his art (and art it was) in the corner of the dining area and so I went over for a chat.

And this is the result. And no complaints whatever from me. I had a struggle to finish it.

So after a telephone call at a time where quite often I hadn’t even been to bed, I was down at Sauret Besserve and picked up Liz, and off we went to Riom for Liz’s hospital appointment.

I had a wait of about 50 minutes for a groggy-looking Liz to emerge, and then we went off for a coffee so that she could recover.

Next stop was the Auchan but there weren’t any of the Nikon D7000 cameras there – it’s an end-of-range deal and the prices had been slashed so I wasn’t expecting much, but nevertheless, we were nearby so it was worth a try.

tram clermont ferrand puy de dome franceAnd then a first for Liz.

We decided to go into the centre of Clermont Ferrand and the tram lines pass at the rear of the Auchan so, leaving Caliburn on the car park, we hopped on a tram that whisked us silently and effortlessly into the city.

€1:50 a ticket and there can’t be much better value than that. Anyone who has driven into the centre of Clermont Ferrand and tried to find a parking place will tell you all about that.

We went for a walk, went to the Tourist Information office and down to the Conseil-General – and I had a brainwave. I need to insure Strider, the Ranger, in Canada and I wondered if I could obtain a printout of my licence showing my motoring history.

We queued for a good while and, at the counter, “yes, we can do that. Do you have your driving licence?”
So I duly produced it
“And do you have your identoty papers?”
“Ohh blast! I’ve left them in Caliburn, haven’t I?”
“We are really supposed to see some identity papers in order to do this over the counter, but I’ll tell you what – let’s do it anyway”

So there we were!

pope urban II crusade cathedral clermont ferrand puy de dome franceBack to the city square and in the shadow of Pope Urban II preaching the First Crusade to the pigeons fluttering around the Cathedral, we had our lunch.

Back on the tram and off to Gerzat to record the Radio Anglais programmes for the next few weeks, giving Samantha Fish her first run-out, and then back home.

All in all a quite profitable day.

And hats off to the reception staff at the hospital at Riom, hats off to the chef in Clermont Ferrand and hats off also to the lady at the driving licence desk at the Prefecture in Clermont Ferrand. Things are definitely looking up!

Saturday 4th July 2015 – NOW THAT WAS A REALLY NICE …

swimming baths piscine commentry allier france… afternoon at the swimming baths in Commentry. Glorious hot weather, I was all sweaty, what more could I say?

The sides of the pool were open and people were disporting themselves on the terrace and on the lawn (picnicking allowed) and the pool was packed out. So much so that I was going up and down the pool in one of the swimming lanes.

I was there for well over two hours too which is something of a record. But then again, there was so much to see. Ohh yes – I can still chase after the women at my age. I just wish that I could remember why.

tiles for shower room les guis virlet puy de dome franceAnd why was I all hot and sweaty? That was because I’d been mauling about half a tonne of tiles and cement about.

Caliburn is now loaded up with tiles for the shower room. You can see in the photo what I’m having. I’m not having those joining pieces though. I’ve bought some “different shades of grey” mosaic tiles, the type where you can cut the string with scissors. That way, if I start from the bottom with the darker tiles and start from the top with the lighter tiles, the gap in the middle can be filled quite easily without the aid of a tile cutter.

Quite astonishingly, I’d been around all of the usual places, done two laps around Brico Depot and loaded up Caliburn by just 11:45. Having the Dawn Chorus wake me up in the morning is an excellent idea. I even had time to go and buy the glass for the window above the shower room door before they closed for lunch.

A trip around LeClerc (where I remembered to change the empty gas cylinder for a new one) and round the Auchan, and I was away from there by 13:45 and in the pool at Commentry by 14:30.

old cars unic pick up montlucon allier franceI’d seen a few old cars on my travels too. This is a Unic pick-up that I saw at a tyre-fitting place in Montlucon on my way around.

Unic was a popular French car-maker before World War II, and many of the taxis that took the French troops to fight at the Marne were Unics. After the war, the company was taken over by Simca, for whom it was the commercial vehicle arm.

old cars unic pick up montlucon allier franceIn 1968 the marque was sold to FIAT and in 1975 was incorporated into the IVECO mark.

You can tell by the FIAT- like badge that This pick-up is from the period 1968-75 and so it’s doing really well to be still on the road and working. and I do have to say that I was impressed by the bodywork repairs on the cab corners, but you have to resort to tricks like this with such a vehicle, as I imagine that body panels are almost non-existent.

Chenard et Walcker peugeot D4 durdat larequille allier franceThe second interesting vehicle that I saw today is almost certainly older. This is one of the Chenard et Walcker vans that were sold by Peugeot as the D3 and D4 series from 1950 to 1965 when the model was replaced by the J7.

This os one of the later ones, as you can tell by the snout at the front. The very first models were powered by a 2-cylinder flat-twin two-stroke motor but that quickly gave was to the 4-cylinder four-stroke engine out of the Peugeot 203 and later the Peugeot 403. The 4-cylinder engines were too long to fit in the body, hence the snout.

It is possible to tell whether this is a D3A, a D3B, a D4A or a D4B, but not by me at this distance. Still, it’s pretty old and quite an interesting curio.

market hall commentry allier franceAll of the roads around Commentry were closed for repair and so I had to come back through the town. This took me past the Market Hall, the first time for ages.

I remember the market hall as being a dreary, dingy place when I first came past here years ago, but they seem to have done it proud with a programme of modernisation. It looks so much better now that ever it did before.

So that was my day – another expensive one, but loads of interesting vehicles and a lovely day at the baths. i’m off for an early night now to make the most of it.

Saturday 2nd May 2015 – I WON’T HAVE MUCH …

… of my mind yet at this rate, the amount that I have been giving out to other people just recently. And today was the day that capped it all and they will remember me in the Orange telecom boutique in Montlucon for quite a long time.

For in there today, I have had customer service of the kind that makes Belgium look impressive.

It all started when I arrived at the place and there were two assistants on duty (on a Saturday morning!), of which one of them sat there all morning just tapping numbers into a telephone, making no attempt whatever to deal with the huge crowd of people in there.

I’ve never seen anything like this at all.

I had to wait there for a good hour before I was finally seen, and we started off as we meant to go on when the assistant refused to take back the television decoder that I have mysteriously been sent.
“You can do that at the other shop” she said.
“So why not here?”
“Because you do it at the other shop”.

And then we finally had to deal with the issue of the contract for the new service. Despite my asking for hard copy stuff because I don’t have a printer, Orange still managed to send it to me by e-mail. So I needed them to print it out.

She could manage that fine, and so I suggested that I can fill in the papers then and there and that would be fine, but …

Ohhhhh Noooooo –
“you did this by internet”
“yes I did”
“so you need to post this off”
“Because you sis it on line”
“But this is an Orange shop?”
“So why can’t i just do it and hand it in here?”
“Because you did it on line”.

It was at that point that I exploded and, as I said, they won’t forget me in a hurry in there. It’s a long time since I’ve reacted like that. And even though it won’t solve anything, I felt so much better afterwards.

And I haven’t finished yet, by any means.

Apart from that, I’ve done the rounds of the usual shops in Montlucon and bought a pile of DVDs and also some new cotton bedding in the sale at Auchan – some nice dark brown cotton pillow cases and a quilt cover and a light brown cotton sheet.

I’ve bought the stuff in Brico Depot that I need to finish off the beichstuhl and the lights in the bedroom, and probably a few other things besides. There was a nice wooden toilet seat that will fit nicely on the beichstuhl too. But not the worktop – I’ve seen something that might provide a solution for this.

It was also a day for meeting people too. I had a coffee with Liz and Terry, whom I had met at the Orange boutique, and then bumped into Pascal, Marianne’s son, at leClerc. In the Auchan it was the turn of Michel, who used to be associated with the football club at Pionsat and he told me few things that answered several but by no means all) of what has been going on at the football club.

But no football this weekend, so tomorrow I might even have a blast at the radio programmes.

Wednesday 25th March 2015 – I DID WELL …

… to light a little fire up here last night. I awoke to a relatively balmy 16.2°C and yet outside we had 5cms of snow. So much for Spring, hey?

And I’d been on my travels during the night too. I had aroused the antipathy of the factory bully who ended up chasing me around the factory brandishing an enormous club. He was intercepted by a few of his colleagues who persuaded him to use a slightly smaller club. But it all ended happily ever after as I ended up walking across the park towards some buildings in the distance, hand in hand (and later, arm round the waist) of a girl who, over the past two or three weeks, has appeared out of nowhere to accompany me on several of my nocturnal adventures. I’ve absolutely no idea at all what has prompted the strange inclusion of this unexpected companion, no matter how sweet many of the people in the park described the pair of us last night.

After breakfast I used up the rest of the cheap varnish on the window and the shelves in the wardrobe, and then I varnished the floor with the first coat. After that, I went off to Montlucon as I predicted.

First stop was Pionsat to sort out the boulangère. Sophie, the regular Friday livreuse, is off sick and so they’ve been taking on anyone that they can get. That explains all of the confusion about the delivery of Friday’s bread, and I hope that we’ve managed to sort it out.

At the LIDL I witnessed a very disagreeable incident of a young guy verbally abusing the young female cashier over the price of an article (but he cleared off before I could have a word in his shell-like) and then at the Auchan I stocked up with the next month’s major supply of food.

At Brico-Depot I managed to forget the floor-join and the brush for the bedroom door but I managed to fix myself up with some tackle to make a couple of Heath-Robinson hanging rails for the wardrobe, as well as a couple more 4-watt LED light bulbs. I also bumped into Pete Marsh and his friend, who were stocking up on supplies for their next contract.

I was disappointed though – the cheap but good varnish is no longer carried. It seems that the supplier has closed down. So to be on the safe side, I bought another large tin of the expensive stuff just in case. If I don’t use it, it’ll come in handy for the ground floor.

Problem solved though over the road at mr Bricolage. They had big tins of cheap clear varnish on offer so I bought one,as well as the glass that I need to do the window over the door. I’ve managed to bring that home in one piece – it’ll be interesting to see if I can manage to get it into the doorframe without dropping it.

NOZ came up with nothing so I came home, crashed out for an hour and then made myself a Heath-Robinson meal of a handful of pasta, sone peas, carrots and green beans, and some olive oil and mustard sauce. Cooked on the oven because I’ve had the fire on again tonight. The left-over wood from last night-s fire and a floorboard offcut and that was sufficient. It’s amazing what you can do with a good fire.

Thursday 13th November 2014 – I HAD A DAY OFF TODAY

Rosemary had been talking about going to the new IKEA down at Clermont Ferrand and so we had decided to go there together. Today was the day, so I was up and about quite early and went to pick her up.

We arrived there at about 10:20 and while IKEA is easy to see, it’s nothing like as easy to find the entrance to the car park. Nevertheless, after a mystery tour around the Michelin factory there we managed it.

I was hoping to be there much earlier but it would have been a waste of effort as the place doesn’t open until 10:00. I’ll have to bear that in mind. And who should we bump into there but another Eric whom we know. He’s the presenter of the chanson francaise programmes on Radio Arverne and they are recorded after our sessions there. Radio work doesn’t pay, of course, and so he’s working there at IKEA to pay the bills.

Rosemary vowed before we went in that she wasn’t going to buy anything. Of course I have heard this a thousand times before and this time was no different that any other. I spent about €40,about half of which went on a new dinner service. It was part of the reduced goods on offer and it certainly looks the business. I’m quite impressed with it as it is exactly what I was seeking.

We had lunch and then went to the Auchan to swap a defective temperature gauge and to do a pile of shopping, as well as buying some diesel as it was only €1:21 per litre. The Auchan doesn’t sell the light green bottles of gas so we had to go to the Carrefour at Menetrol. I think I mentioned that the gas that powers the cooker in the verandah is getting low and with the temperature still quite reasonable and with no fire up here yet, I’m still cooking down there.

I rescued my roofing ladder from Rosemary and we had a coffee and spent a good couple of hours putting the world to rights.

There won’t be much done tomorrow either as I have several errands to run and a new toy to pick up. I wish I could have a good few weeks non-stop on this perishing house.

Monday 27th October 2014 – RED SKY AT NIGHT …

sunset auzances creuse birdwatching ornithological centre st gervais d'auvergne puy de dome france… means that Auzances is on fire.

Yes, on the way back home this evening as the sun was setting, I stopped off at my favourite haunt, the St Gervais Ornithological Centre to take one or two photos. The sun setting below the horizon in the clouds in the general direction of Auzances was particularly impressive.

birdwatching ornithological centre st gervais d'auvergne puy de dome franceThe view in the opposite direction, while not being quite as spectacular, was nevertheless quite impressive in its own right.

Here, with the evening drawing on and the damp mist slowly rising out of the fields, the Puy de Dome looks as if it is slowly disappearing from view behind a kind of diaphanous veil. It gives a completely different aspect to this view, of which you have seen dozens of examples over the years.

This morning we went to record the Radio Anglais programmes at Marcillat-en-Cembraille for Radio Tartasse. We had a few technical issues but they were resolved by simply returning to the very first version of the studio’s computer program. This new upgrade has caused nothing but problems.

We went from there to Clermont-Ferrand and the Auchan where I did a big pile of shopping. I’d run out of oats for my muesli and lentils for my curries, and so I needed to stock up. I also took advantage of the proximity of the Auchan to the recording studios at Gerzat to do a mega-shop.

The radio session at Gerzat went surprisigly well – in fact four programmes of 15 minutes each took just 1 hour and 5 minutes to record in total. It’s never happened like this before and I wish that it had happened like this that time just before I went to Canada.

Afterwards, we celebrated by going for coffee at Menetrol and doing a lap around the Carrefour there to buy the things that I had forgotten.

And after dropping Liz off, I came home via the birdwatching site at St Gervais d’Auvergne.

Tonihgt, I’ve enrolled in another Higher Education course. The University of Birmingham, in its Future Learn Programme is offering a course in the Development of Aviation in World War I and there was a free place even though the course started a week ago. This kind of thing is right up my Alley as you know and I couldn’t resist the opportunity.

Saturday 14th June 2014 – I WAS UP EARLY AGAIN …

… this morning and after a quick breakfastI was on my way to Montlucon. I wasn’t there long and I was back home by 13:45.

Most of the time I was at Brico Depot, firstly cashing in the pallet that we had loaded with breeze blocks the other day. A lap around inside where I bumped into Christophe and his wife fron FC Pionsat St Hilaire, and I bought all of the fittings for the guttering at the back of the house (for when the cattle have gone from the field behind the house).

as well as that, I bought a submersible water pump. They were on offer at €20:00 and with a 7-metre lift and just 250 watts consumption, it will drain out the pit if it fills with water and also do any amount of pumping of water around here.

Outside, I picked up 8 sacks of cement. I don’t want to run short of that with everything that I have to do around here. As well as that, I bought 45 of these concrete cubes that we use for building pillars. These cubes have no bottom and no top, and you fit them over the metal reinforement that I’ve been buying, and infill with concrete. There you have some ready-made concrete pillars that will support any roof that I want to fit.

I went to Auchan and LIDL afterwards and then came home. Back here, I crashed out for a couple of hours. I had another really late night again last night. I’m still having difficulty sleeping, but I’m off to bed in a moment to see what good an early night will do me.

Friday 6th June 2014 – WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME …

… I was awake at 06:00 (and I don’t mean as in not gone to bed yet)? Anyway, so I was this morning, despite having been on my travels during the night.

And it was all to no avail as well because when I pulled into Brico Depot at 06:55, 5 minutes before opening time, there was already a packed car park and a queue of about 40 people at the door. And then at 07:00 they wheeled out the 4-wheel 1.5 tonne 4-wheeled close-coupled trailers for sand and gravel, that were on special offer at just €799. There was a total of 4 trailers and so that was that. I, and another 30-odd people, had had a wasted journey.

Not quite wasted though because I filled up Caliburn with everything that I might need for the next stage of the concreting (because there will be one) except for the 100mm breeze blocks, which I forgot. I also did a round of shopping, to save on going out tomorrow and at the Auchan I bumped into the Megemonts – a couple from Virlet. M Megemont is President of the Virlet Historical Society and mme Megemont is on the local council so I took the opportunity to ask her to send me anything that might be interesting for Radio Anglais.

I was back here for 15:00 for my butty and it’s clearly a case that Rosemary has a spy camera here as she phoned up the moment I set my foot in the door.

It was 20:00 when I went back outside to unload Caliburn. We had the hottest day of the year to daye and it was not possible to work outside. The temperature today reached 34.50C today.

So now I have the fan on here – the first time this year – and I’m off to bed in a minute. I hzve to start on the Radio Anglais programmes tomorrow.