Category Archives: boulangerie

Thursday 22nd June 2023 – I’VE HAD ANOTHER …

… depressing day today. And I bet that you are as fed up of reading about it as I am about living it.

My own fault though. I had a doctor’s appointment at 10:00 this morning so I decided that I’d be brave and walk – or, rather, hobble – down the hill into town on my crutches.

The idea didn’t exactly fill me with confidence but I had to do it. And it passed without any serious incident, which was good news. Just the occasional wobble here and there.

But as you might expect, I was well out of it this afternoon. Totally out of my tree in fact.

And that’s not really much of a surprise because apart from the fact that it seems to be par for the course these days whenever I go anywhere, when the alarm went off this morning at 07:00 I’d been up for ages.

First thing that I did after the medication was to try to resolve a computer issue. I said yesterday that I’d fitted a new hard drive into this machine. A couple of my graphics programs weren’t functioning correctly so I left them in the end and went to bed.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, graphics is one of the reasons why I bought a machine like this big desktop machine. But it’s not a proprietary machine, it’s something of a “bitsa” with a collection of assorted bits and pieces for the best possible performance, and I’ve upgraded it since I’ve had it.

Consequently you’re wasting your time looking for a manufacturer’s upgrade.

After prowling around for a while in the innards of the machine, I found that it was working with the drivers for a Windows-generic video card and I couldn’t remember the make of the video card that we fitted. I had to work through quite a collection of drivers until I found the correct one.

It’s working so much better now, which is nice.

All I need to work out now is why although the operating system recognises the 32GB of RAM that’s fitted, only one bank of 16GB seems to be working.

Even so, with a Solid State Hard Drive powering the machine it’s working a lot quicker and a lot quieter too.

In between all of this I had a shower to make myself look pretty and then struggled down to the doctors for a check-up and for the prescription for the next lot of Aranesp. I mentioned the hospital in Paris and he says that it’s one of the best in the country with a famous nerve-centre, if you’ll excuse the pun.

But the good news, if you can call it that, is that because there is no obvious element that’s affecting my nervous system, he reckons that I’m classed as permanently disabled. He’ll type a report for me to pick up tomorrow and told me to go the the Mairie and tell them.

And so I did, and they gave me half a rain-forest worth of papers to fill in. And if I need any help I can call a Social Services rep to help me. I have to fill it in and send it to the Prefecture at St-Lô, and then prepare for a long wait.

But if I’m lucky, I’ll have a disabled parking pass, free transport on the buses (mind you, buses are free here in Granville anyway) and things like that.

Next stop was the Post Office.

Something else that I’d done this morning was to gather up the papers that I needed and to fill in my Tax Return. That needed to be posted and there was a recorded delivery letter to pick up.

Next week it’s the annual general meeting of the owners of this building and as I own 250/10,000 of it since April I’m invited. So there was another rain-forest worth of papers about that sent to me by recorded delivery.

There’s a new artisanal high-class bakery opened in town so I stopped off for some specialty bread for my cheese on toast. I thought that in view of the effort that I’d made, I deserved to pousser le bateau dehors as they might say around here.

Final stop was to go to the chemists to drop off the prescription. 6 months worth of Aranesp but they can only order it one month at a time. I have to ring her every 4 weeks to reorder it.

It was the nice cheerful girl who served me today. “do you want to pay for it now?” she asked.
“Just this four weeks” I replied. “Not all of it”
“That’s what I meant” she retorted.

It was a struggle to come back up the hill onto my rock and I was exhausted. I had my coffee and cheese on toast but that was really my lot. I was in no fit state to do anything else for quite a while.

Later on I did manage to have a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. And it’s a surprise to me that I was up and about so early because I travelled miles. In fact, I probably got out of bed on my way back home from my travels. I started out in Labrador last night. I’d been to visit a spot where a member of my family used to live. There was some information that I gathered there that I knew would be of interest to someone else who was hunting down family relics. I made a note and brought the information or copies of it with me and met up with this guy back at his place where because of the way that whatever was written on this information that I had, it was all about snow etc which of course would be most unlikely in South Cheshire but it was a very complicated ritual involved in making sure that he had the information. Then I had of course to get the information from him that he had found out about my family so it was all extremely confusing about this Labrador in Cheshire kind of thing.

Then there was a tractor for sale at a rather cheap price. I went to see it but when I returned Nerina asked me about it. I told her that basically it’s been taken in part-exchange and they want rid of it quite quickly so they’ll do a good deal for cash. She was wondering why it wasn’t on the forecourt. I explained that word about this tractor would go around by word of mouth quickly enough. They don’t need to make any effort to sell it etc. There was one guy there who insisted on shouting me down, giving me his own interpretation of what was happening even though I’d just been to talk to the owner about it. he wouldn’t let up no matter how I tried to explain to Nerina. In the end I told her “the vendor knows exactly how much that tractor owes him, exactly how much it’s costing them to keep it on the forecourt”, all the little details like that. They’ll know exactly where the breakeven point will be so if someone comes along with the cash they’d let it go. But this guy was not having any of this at all. It was really strange how he thought he knew absolutely everything without even having been to see it and talk to people about it. He thought that I was totally wrong.

I’d also been out with one of my schoolfriends. On the way back we stopped at his house. I started to chat to his sister who I fancied (and I actually did too in real life). We had something of a flirty exchange as a couple of teenagers would. I happened to mention something about Saturday night. she said that she was doing something that night which was a shame because I was hoping that she might be free and want to come out somewhere. We continued this chat and she asked me “what are you doing Tuesday night?”. I replied “nothing”. She continued “do you want to come with me on Tuesday night instead?”. Of course immediately my ears pricked up. I asked “where are we going?”. She asked “how do you fancy going to church?”. I replied “if it means going with you, I’ll come”. She said “it’s every fortnight”. I replied “that’s not a problem. I can manage that”. We arranged to meet on the Tuesday night. I went outside after that ready to go home. My friend was outside so I said “you’ll never guess what I’m doing on Tuesday night”. He replied “you’re going to church youth club aren’t you?”. I asked “how do you know?”. he didn’t really give me an answer about that but he obviously knew that there was something in the wind. She didn’t really like me all that much in real life when we were at school, which was no real surprise. But she went to University in Manchester while I was living there and we did meet up a few times, but nothing much ever came of it.

I was at work last night. I’d gone into the office which was packed. I went to find the lift to take me up to my floor. There were dozens of people hanging around the lift, people making music and singing Christmas carols, a little choir etc. It looked as if everyone was preparing fo Christmas. I was hoping that I’d see my Irish friend so that I could talk to her about my date on Tuesday night (so I must have gone back into that previous dream) but I can’t remember what happened after that.

She was a nice girl too and I liked her very much. We went on a skiing holiday once together which was really good fun but she had far too much good sense ever to become involved with me

Finally we were in Iceland waiting for a ferry back to the mainland of Europe. There was a storm and the ferry was delayed. It looked as if it wouldn’t sail for ages. Everyone was dashing around trying to find accommodation but I had a cunning plan. I would hire a van and sleep in it for a few nights which I reckoned would work out a lot cheaper. There was a young girl there whom I liked very much. We’d spent a lot of time chatting. We were standing in the queue and I bought her a coffee. I asked her what she intended to do. Obviously if she didn’t have any accommodation i was going to invite her to share the van. She mentioned Tom, another guy on this trip with us. She said “I’ll be spending the night with Tom, my boyfriend. I’ve been spending the last couple of nights with him anyway so another night won’t make any difference”. Of course you’ve absolutely no idea how disappointed I was, or maybe you have, I dunno. It’s quite a regular occurrence during the night – me being confounded like this while I’m engaged in the evil pursuit of nice young ladies. Anyway that was that.

The physiotherapist came round today too and massaged my right knee which is now playing up after my walk. I’m wondering what is going to break next. I’m at the stage where I’m afraid to go to the toilet.

Tea was a big bowl of pasta and veg with the rest of that vegan bolognaise stuff from last week. I livened it up with some chili and garlic salt and that gave it a kick.

Tomorrow I’m off to town again for my Aranesp and a bit of shopping. That means that in the afternoon I’ll be flat out on my chair again. It’s becoming far too much of a habit but there’s nothing that I can do about it regrettable. Onwards and upwards, hey?

Thursday 20th December 2018 – TOMORROW …

… I’m off to Leuven. So I’ve spent today packing (of a sort) and tidying up (of another sort).

I was out of bed surprisingly early this morning – but that’s what comes of being wide awake at 05:40. And it’s been a while since I was awake that early, hasn’t it?

And after breakfast, I had a little relax before getting myself going.

This time I’m taking the medium-sized suitcase, with a basic foodstuff supply in it. After all, I’m going to be gone for about 6 days and that’s a lot of shopping that I need to organise. As well as that, it’s Christmas and so I’m taking some specialty stuff with me too.

Talking of Christmas, I erected the little mini-Christmas tree that I had bought the other week at Noz for €3:99 – the tree with its electric lights and baubles. It’s not too bad either. i’m pleasantly surprised.

neptune port de granville harbour manche normandy franceLunch was as normal, and I had two walks today. one was, as usual, around the Pointe du Roc.

And in the harbour I saw Neptune manoeuvring her way out of the harbour. She must have come in on the early morning tide and loaded up pretty quickly because I didn’t see her arrive during the evening.

I’ve not seen her turn round as quickly as this. She must be in quite a hurry today

christmas lights general de gaulle granville manche normandy franceBut later on in the early evening when it was dark, I went into town.

To Super-U for some fruit seeing as I have run out, and to the boulangerie for one of the baguettes that I like, for my lunchtime butties.

While I was there, I took the opportunity to go around the Cours Jonville and photograph the Christmas decorations. They aren’t so good this year as I remember the and it’s rather disappointing.

Tea was a slice of my pie from the other week, with veg and mushroom gravy.

So now I’m going to have a shower and then go to bed. I’m having an early morning tomorrow, ready to hit the road. It’s a long way to go.

storm sea wall port de granville harbour granville manche normandy france
storm sea wall port de granville harbour granville manche normandy france

storm sea wall port de granville harbour manche normandy france
storm sea wall port de granville harbour granville manche normandy france

neptune port de granville harbour manche normandy france
neptune port de granville harbour manche normandy france

harbour pilot port de granville manche normandy france
harbour pilot port de granville manche normandy france

christmas lights rue lecampion granville manche normandy france
christmas lights rue lecampion granville manche normandy france

christmas lights general de gaulle granville manche normandy france
christmas lights place general de gaulle granville manche normandy france

christmas lights place general de gaulle granville manche normandy france
christmas lights place general de gaulle granville manche normandy france

christmas lights place general de gaulle granville manche normandy france
christmas lights place general de gaulle granville manche normandy france

christmas lights place general de gaulle mairie granville manche normandy france
christmas lights place general de gaulle granville manche normandy france

christmas lights place general de gaulle granville manche normandy france
christmas lights place general de gaulle granville manche normandy france

Wednesday 5th December 2018 – WE DIDN’T …

… have any blue screens today. Or any frozen keyboards or major crashes on the big desktop computer today. For the simple reason that I didn’t switch it on at all.

To preserve it for a while longer I left it switched off and used the laptop computer to examine the portable drive onto which I had downloaded all of the data.

First thing was to remove all of the duplicate (and triplicate and, in some cases, quadruplicate) files. 22,000 or thereabouts out of the 78,000 or so that I downloaded yesterday and it took quite some time to do all of that. But luckily there’s a little program that I have on the computer that does it all for me, otherwise I would still be here doing it this time next year.

And I’ve come across yet more stuff that I had forgotten, including a pile of photos, and the sad thing is that I can’t remember where many of them were taken. The sad part about it all is that I downloaded onto the desktop computer all of the files for one of the previous versions of the blog when the host closed down, but the dates of the entries don’t seem to be on the files. It must have been a javascript key running from the webhost at the time.

I’ll have to think much more deeply about this.

There’s also a pile of data that needs to be sorted, and so I’ve a feeling that this is going to be a very long job.

I was interrupted by a phone call at about 11:00. Could I come to the doctor’s at 12:00 instead of 16:00? So I had to have a shower and a good clean-up before setting out.

marité normandy trader neptune port de granville harbour manche normandy franceOn the way down into town, I noticed that Neptune was still in port, tied up at her quayside next to Marité and Normandy Trader.

I’ll go for a nosy round there after the doctor’s to see what’s going on.

At the doctor’s, I discovered that the situation about the vaccines is that you need a prescription from the doctor, and then go to the chemist for the supplies, and finally make an appointment with a nurse to do the injection.

The doctor did that all for me so I have to be at the nurse’s office at 11:00 tomorrow for the injection.

The doctor prescribed me a helping of Vitamin D to reinforce the injection. And you’ll be pleased to know that all of this medication cost me a grand total of €13:48. Cheap at half the price.

neptune port de granville harbour manche normandy franceOn the way back, I picked up one of my favourite baguettes and then went for a walk around the harbour.

Neptune was still there, and Normandy Trader had sneaked in on the morning tide.

I’d never had a close look round at Neptune before, so this seemed to be the correct moment to go for a suitable exploration

neptune port de granville harbour manche normandy franceShe’s a small bulk carrier of 2400 tonnes deadweight with a gross tonnage of about 1500 tonnes.

Built in 1992, she was formerly known as Islay Trader but changed her name quite recently, something presumably not unacquainted with the fact that she acquired something of a bad habit just recently of running aground and having to be towed off.

neptune port de granville harbour manche normandy franceAs you can see, she’s registered out of the port of Faversham, although I don’t imagine that she sails … “diesels” – ed … out of there these days seeing as how it’s silting up so rapidly.

These days we’ve seen her heading into Whitstable or, occasionally, Ridham whenever the tidal conditions are right.

That’s because Ridham is what is called a NABSA port – “Not Afloat But Safely Aground” – whenever the tide is low and no-one likes to have a heavily-loaded ship sitting on the bottom.

victor hugo quote port de granville harbour manche normandy franceVictor Hugo was in port too.

She’s one of the ships that works the ferry service out to the Channel islands from the Normandy coast.

But it wasn’t her herself that caught my attention. What I was admiring was the notice where Hugo talks about the fact that there are four islands in the Channel Islands, which he mentions, but he can only find something to say about three.

As well as that, Aztec Lady had regrown her masts. There was a girl on deck working away so we had a chat for a while. They are off to the Far North of Norway soon, but not unfortunately to where I want to go.

people picnicking place d'armes granville manche normandy franceAs I arrived back here I was treated to a strange sight on the car park.

I’m all in favour of eating out wherever possible, but not in this kind of weather. So I admired the people who were taking their picnic lunch outside.

Not much danger of me joining them, I have to say. I’m going to eat my lunch indoors.

While I’m eating my lunch, I can tell you about the early part of the morning. With having had a really early night I’d had a really good sleep and was awake at 05:46.

I’d been on my travels too. Firstly, I had encountered someone from the Open University – an old guy whom I happened to quite like. A very quiet, timid type but last night he was busily killing off everyone who had offended or upset him. That was actually the plot of something that I had been watching on a DVD a couple of nights ago.
A little later I’d been at a football match, something like at Pionsat. But it was Bangor City who was playing and at a certain moment a long clearance out of the opposition defence had gone straight up towards the Bangor goalkeeper, who ran out to clear it. However he pulled a muscle and fell down, grabbing hold of the football as he did so in order to stop any attacker getting to the ball and scoring a goal. Clearly a free kick of course, but in view of the circumstances was it a yellow card offence for deliberate handball, or was it a red card for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity? The debate raged for quite a while about that one. Unfortunately, I awoke before the referee reached the scene and made a decision.

This afternoon I typed a couple of letters. Time to get a few things moving to secure the future. They’ll be posted tomorrow and then things will be off. And I forgot to go for a walk this afternoon, being so engrossed. Not that it matters quite so much as I’d had a good stroll out this morning.

Tea was an aubergine and kidney bean whatsit out of the freezer followed by pineapple and coconut-flavoured soya dessert. I’ll do this again because it’s lovely.

And on my walk around, I was all on my own except for a jogger. Minette was there and I gave her a stroke but she must have a sore spot somewhere because she suddenly leapt up, spat at me and cleared off.

Not quite an early night tonight, but I’m off shopping tomorrow and I’ll call at the nurse’s on the way back. Another thing crossed off the list.

normandy trader neptune port de granville harbour manche normandy france
normandy trader neptune port de granville harbour manche normandy france

samsung digger neptune port de granville harbour manche normandy france
samsung digger neptune port de granville harbour manche normandy france

low tide port de granville harbour pilot light manche normandy france
low tide port de granville harbour pilot light manche normandy france

Wednesday 28th November 2018 – I DID MY BEST …

… to have an early night last night. In bed at some respectable time but not able to go to sleep. And when I did I was awake again at 01:45.

But the body clock is working well again, for I was awake bolt-upright at 05:59, just seconds before the alarm went off.

With having done almost everything last night, it didn’t take me long to clean up and make sure that I had everything. And by 06:25 I was on my way.

AM80 sncb gare de louvain belgique eric hallThere was a train at 06:52 for Brussels. One of the old dirty, filthy, graffiti-covered AM80 multiple units heading for Quievrain down on the French border.

The lack of care and attention that these are receiving – surprising for the SNCB – tells me that these trains are the next to go under the cutter’s torch, and fairly soon too, I reckon. They aren’t far off being 40 years old and haven’t in the main had an overhaul for nearly 25 years.

Our train was pretty crowded too but I managed to find a seat where I could settle down for the journey. And as we passed though the various stations in Brussels the train emptied rapidly.

At the Gare du Midi I went into the Carrefour and bought my raisin buns for breakfast, and a packet of crisps and a bottle of water as emergency supplies.

sncf thalys brussels gre du midi belgium eric hallAnd then a wait for the TGV.

It should have departed at 08:13 but when I went up to the platform it was ominously marked “12 minutes late”. And by the time we left, we were 25 minutes behind schedule.

That’s enough to give me the willies as I don’t have too much time to change stations in Paris and it’s quite a hike across the city.

It was packed to the gunwhales too – not a spare seat anywhere. hardly surprising that even when I booked my tickets I couldn’t have a corridor seat.

We didn’t make up any time either and it was 25 minutes late that we pulled into Paris Gare du Nord.

I’m not into running about these days but I pushed on as quickly as I could. I was lucky with the metro in that I didn’t have to wait too long, and there were no delays. I chose a position right by where the exit to the platform at Montparnasse would be, and so I could step off the train and straight out of the station.

sncf paris montparnasse vaugirard franceWith no delays on the way, and no other incidents, I could push on and arrived at Vaugirard with 10 minutes to spare.

The train was already loading so I composted my tickets and leapt aboard. There was someone sitting in my reserved seat ao I was obliged to heave him out so that I could sit down.

There was plenty that I needed to do on the way back, but I wasn’t in the mood for it. Instead, I had a good sleep and that made me feel a little better.

sncf gare de granville manche normandy franceWe pulled in to Granville bang on time, which makes a pleasant change. And I stepped off the train straight into a wicked, high wind.

There’s a train timed to go out at about 15 minutes after ours arrives and I had always thought that ours did a simple turn-around. But apparently not. There was another train parked in the platform next to ours and all of the passengers for the afternoon trip to Paris were piling aboard.

I’m not too sure about the logic of running another train on the return. If I had invested as much money in captial equipment as the SNCF had, I would want it out there working and generating passenger income as much as possible

I stopped at the boulangerie on the way home for a baguette. I didn’t want to fetch any bread out of the freezer.

It’s good to be back home, even if it was cold in here. But the heating soon dealt with that issue.

After a very late lunch I started to unpack but I can’t keep it up like I used to of course. I ended up crashing out on my chair at the desk in the office. And I was away for quite a while too.

fishing boats port de granville harbour manche normandy franceWith lunch being so late, I was in no mood for tea so I simply stirred a few papers around in here and then went for a walk. I was on 90% of my daily activity so I didn’t go far, which was hardly surprising because, if anything, the wind had increased.

All of the fishing boats were now coming up to the fishing quay by the processing plant. There was quite a line of them waiting to unload, rather like the queue at the self-scanners in a supermarket.

You can see how strongly the wind was blowing by looking at the waves in this photo. And remember that this is actually inside the tidal harbour. You can imagine what it must have been like outside the harbour, but this wasn’t the weather for going for a look.

Strangely enough, I wasn’t tired now so not having had my lie-in on Sunday I switched off the alarm and watched something on the internet.

It’s now 02:30 and I suppose that I’d better make an effort to go to bed. I’ll be still here in the morning if I don’t make an effort.

Tuesday 6th November 2018 – I’M NOT GOING …

… out for my evening walk tonight.

There’s a howling gale blowing outside right now – as strong as any that I’ve experienced since I’ve been living here. Had there been a high tide any time soon I would have gone to inspect the waves hopefully crashing down over the Plat Gousset. But it’s low tide right now so it’s not worth the effort for me to go out.

But never mind. I’ve already had a good couple of walks today.

And during the night too.

I was in the company of some nice young girl on a Saturday night. And taking the girl home she made some kind of remark about how she had to be at the railway station for 07:00 the following morning and how she didn’t know how she was going to do that bearing in mind that I usually refuse to leave my bed at any ungodly hour on a Sunday. I was just on the point of saying that she could stay with me for the night and then I could run her down there, when I realised that that kind of remark could easily be misconstrued. How I meant it was that I’d only have a 5-minute drive straight to the station instead of having to travel across town to pick her up and then back across town to the station, saving me half an hour that I could spend much better in bed. I certainly didn’t mean it in any other way (although I wouldn’t have found the idea unacceptable), but I had to think of a way to express it better so that she wouldn’t misunderstand.
A little later I was back in the Auvergne at Les Guis and I had to go down into St Eloy. The weather was fine up in the hills but down in the town it was snowing quite heavily. I ended up in some kind of meeting room on the first floor of a shop and amongst the people there was a girl who I knew really well. And it was either the Vanilla Queen or another certain girl of my acquaintance who bore a startling resemblance to the former – a startling coincidence of a resemblance about which I have commented to myself on many occasions. She was surprised to see me in view of the weather so I explained that up in the hills things were so much better. And we ended up having a good chat not about anything in particular but more in an effort for me to establish a certain position.

Just for a change just recently I managed to beat the third alarm out of bed and that made me feel a little better. Obviously going to bed at a more respectable (for me, anyway) time is a much better idea.

This morning I had a few things to do and once they were out of the way I had to sit down and fill in a form. I’ve collected most of the information that I need but I’ve no idea how I’m expected to fill in this form. I’ll just sign it, send it back with all of the assorted verifying paperwork to at least show a sign of goodwill and see what happens next.

When I was out at the shops on Saturday I forgot to buy a lettuce, so I nipped into town and the Super-U.

marite normandy trader port de granville harbour manche normandy franceI had a little distraction – or two – down at the harbour.

Marité has now returned to her berth just there, with another smaller sailing ship alongside.

In front of Marité we note the reappearance of Normandy Trader who obviously cam in on the high tide earlier in the morning. There’s a pile of stuff on the quayside and it’s quite probable that will be loaded on board for her homeward journey.

roadstone quarry port de granville harbour manche normandy franceThat’s no all either. As I was looking at the ships, one of the lorries from the quarry turned up with a load of roadstone.

I waited for a while hoping that she would tip but the driver locked up the cab and walked away. It must be his lunchtime or something like that.

But it probably means that very shortly we’ll be having a visit from Neptune or Shetland Trader in early course.

At the Super-U they were rather sad, the lettuces in there I mean, not the people, but better than none. And I took advantage of the situation by buying a couple of packs of the mixed dried fruit that I add to the muesli.

While I was in town I picked up one of the baguette that I like.

bad parking boulevard vaufleury granville manche normandy franceIt was not too warm today but not very windy either. And the sun was out so I took full advantage by going to eat my butties on the wall.

And this would be the kind of thing that I would find very funny, it it wasn’t so pathetic.

One of the themes that I feature quite often here, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, is the sad state of parking round here.

bad parking boulevard vaufleury granville manche normandy franceAnd as for this example of pathetic parking, here in the boulevard Vaufleury right by where I eat my butties, is about as bad as it gets.

I really don’t know what goes through the minds of some people that they can’t be bothered to even make an attempt at parking between the lines on the road.

I mean, it’s not even a BMW or a Volvo is it?

So having been dismayed by the parking, I didn’t stay out there for long. After all, it IS November.

This afternoon I attacked the High Arctic and I’ve made real progress on Day 2. It might even be finished by the weekend if I can keep it up. And then there’s only another 17 days to go. And these will be much more complicated than this one.

fishing boats port de granville harbour manche normandy franceThe afternoon’s walk was around the headland in the beautiful November sunshine.

But there were no ships to admire while I was out there. Only a pile of fishing boats coming in and out of the harbour on the afternoon tide.

Taking advantage of the ideal weather and sunlight conditions, I spent some time taking a pile of photos of the boats as they came in and went out.

omerta port de granville harbour  manche normandy franceThere were quite a few boats tied up at the quayside unloading too.

The name of this particular one took me by surprise. Omerta, which might mean “manhood” in Italian slang, is more generally associated with the name given to the Vow of Silence that is rigorously imposed, with quite often fatal results, on members of the Mafia.

Not the name that you might expect to see on a fishing boat in Granville

bouchots de chausey port de granville harbour manche normandy franceThis particular one, which seems as if it belongs to someone on the Ile de Chausey, was unloading piles of crustaceans and the like onto the trailer attached to the rear of the tractor.

She has quite a massive catch on board. Business must be booming somewhere.

Incidentally, in case you are wondering, which I’m sure that you are, a bouchot mussel is a mussel that has been grown from a string that is attached to a pole submerged in the water. By this method they are more grit-free and barnacle-free than one that has been grown on the sea bed.

Georges-René Le Peley de Pléville granville manche normandy franceAll of the work going on in the harbour was overlooked by our old friend Georges-René Le Peley de Pléville, or Pleville le Pelley.

He was a privateer who sailed initially on a ship, the Françoise du Lac (on which in one engagement he lost a leg), out of Granville, and later rose through the ranks of the French Navy until he became the French Government’s Minister of the Navy

He was appointed a Senator in 1799 and died in 1805 aged 79

Back here, there was a brief moment of repose and then it was tea time. Falafel fried with onions and garlic with pasta and vegetables, with salad dressing and herbs. It was totally delicious too.

With not going out this evening, I can do my outstanding work and then have an early night. If I can keep it up I’ll be in a much better position to keep up with my work.

But I do need to start to take it easy. There’s only so much that I can do.

fishing boats port de granville harbour manche normandy france
Fishing boats entering and leaving the harbour at the Port of Granville

fishing boats port de granville harbour manche normandy france
Fishing boats entering and leaving the harbour at the Port of Granville

fishing boats port de granville harbour manche normandy france
Fishing boats entering and leaving the harbour at the Port of Granville

bouchots de chausey port de granville harbour manche normandy france
Unloading bouchots de Chausey in the harbour at the Port of Granville


Tuesday 17th July 2018 – WHAT A HORRIBLE …

… day this has been. And I’m having far too many of these just recently.

Not going to bed until 03:30 probably has something to do with it, especially when I did manage to struggle from my stinking pit at 06:30 when the alarms went off.

But the wisdom of that decision was called into question because after having the usual medication routine, I sat down on the sofa to rest awhile, and the next thing that I knew was that it was 11:00. I’ve not had a complete crash-out like this for quite a while, have I?

So a very late breakfast indeed today.

What was even worse was that I wasn’t in much of a mood to do very much. But a whole pile of reading matter has come my way in connection with my little project that I mentioned yesterday, so I downloaded it all and set about reading it, and making a few notes. And I’m already seeing quite a lot of logistics difficulties that need to be overcome.

But then, many people just have problems. However I have solutions. And I’ll solve these problems or else die in the attempt. And as time has gone on during the day, I’m much more clear about what I want to do and how I intend to do it.

Lunch was taken at about 16:30, and that wasn’t without its difficulties either. I’d forgotten to fetch some bread from the freezer, but no matter. I went for a walk into town and picked up one of my favourite baguettes.

roadstone port de granville harbour manche normandy franceRemember yesterday when we saw Neptune sailing out of the harbour with another load of roadstone for Whitstable?

It didn’t take them long to start topping up the gravel bins again, did it?

We might be expecting the Neptune to make a quick aller-retour with all of the roadstone being accumulated like this.

house renovation rue du port granville manche normandy franceAnother thing of which we had seen plenty is the renovation of many of the houses in the rue du Port.

We’ve noticed two so far and it seems no that they are starting on a third one.

We don’t have a crane installed yet, but I imagine that this will be arriving any day now. They don’t seem to be able to do anything in the building line without a crane.

tide out port de granville harbour manche normandy franceHaving made my butties, I sat on the wall with my book and had a good look over the harbour.

The tide was almost out and all of the boats down there had settled down onto the silt.

My two lizards were there for company too, waiting for the bits of pear to fall onto the ground. And with the pear being well-overripe, there were plenty of bits to go round without them having to fight.

On the way back, I met another neighbour on the car park and we had a good chat for quite a while. And then I came back up here where, shame as it is to admit it, the next thing that I knew was that it was 20:00. I’d gone off again!

Still time to do a few bits of work though, and I cracked on and at least managed to salvage something from the wreckage of today. My little project is slowly starting to come together, although a couple of my plans are changing and it’s going to stretch my budget more than I anticipated. But this is no time for the faint-hearted.

And of course, I’ve still not resolved this application issue, have I?

So leaving that alone for a while, I went for my evening walk. It’s cooled down over the last couple of days so it was quite pleasant, but there was nothing going on of note.

However I had remembered something else that I needed to do, but that can only be done during office hours. But nevertheless I did some research when I came back, and it seems that it can be resolved quite easily.

But then again, this time it really does involve a phone call to Belgium, so I’m not holding my breath.

So here we are, 22:30 and here I am, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Not feeling in the least like going to sleep.

We’ll probably end up tomorrow with another day like today, I reckon.

Tuesday 19th June 2018 – THE ONE THING THAT I LIKE …

… about my blog, and one of the (many) reasons why I keep it, is so that when I have an altercation with someone, I have it chapter and verse about when and where it took place, and what was said.

So that way, whenever I’m having an argument with a semi-official body, I have the notes to prove my point.

But let’s not get ahead of ouselves.

Last night after having done almost everything that there was to do, I sat down and watched a DVD, something that i haven’t done for quite some time. Last night’s entertainment (if that’s the correct word) was Batman (the Movie). A totally absurd, incredibly camp film that is so bad that it’s good.

And what is probably the funniest part of the film is Adam West trying so hard not to laugh at some of the lines. Brings back many happy memories of the 1960s.

Despite the early night it was a struggle to come up for air this morning and I was a little later than usual leaving the stinking pit. But a breakfast and a hot shower brought me sort-of into the Land of the Living.

First thing was to put the bathroom back together and then to attack the living room. Do it while I’m in the mood. So that’s something like, stuff is sorted out, more stuff has been found (including my missing 32GB memory stick) and more stuff thrown away. And it was quite profitable too, because I found €1:03 too.

Spend, spend, spend!

And I’m glad that I did it too then and there because I didn’t have time after that.

Looking through the e-mails that had come in through the night, there were two that were very important and needed to be dealt with on the spot. And that involved a phone call to my bankers in the UK.

I’d tried a few weeks ago to set up an on-line banking service, but it had spectacularly failed, so I put it out of my mind. That was the first thing.

And despite what they told me, they had indeed been notified of my new telephone number. It’s there in black-and-white in my letter of 19th January, and when I had an argument with the bank’s customer service, they telephoned me back on that number on 6th February.

And since then, they’ve been sending me security codes when I’ve been using my UK credit card.

The second thing though is that I need to make a substantial payment to North America, and make it quickly. And I can’t do it by telephone despite whatever pleading I can use. It needs to be done in writing, although a fax machine is acceptable.

I threw away my old fax machine in 2011 so this meant a good hunting down of a fax machine in Granville.

First thing was to type out a letter, and while I was at it to deal with some more post that needed answering. That took me all the way up to 13:45. And then into town to search for a fax machine.

No go at the library. The Tourist Information Office was closed, the Mairie didn’t have one, and neither did the Post Office. But the Post office sent me across the road to the newspaper offices. They had a fax machine, but it was private.

But the newspaper shop next door advertised photocopies and photo-scanning, so I went in there. And sure enough, a very friendly newspaper shop owner had a public fax machine, so that was that.

I picked up one of my favourite baguettes and came back.

Lunch was exceptionally late and I was joined by no one but two lizards who spent more time fighting over a lump of pear than they did actually eating it. And that was surprising because there was more than enough for two.

school bus place d'armes granville manche normandy franceHaving had a lengthy walk just now, I abandoned the idea of going out this afternoon.

And so I was in my apartment to notice one of the school buses take the wrong turning up to the High School and get stuck in the gateway to the Place d’Armes.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we saw a couple of buses do that earlier this year, but at least there was much less drama associated with this one. With a couple of bits of shunting he managed to get round quite comfortably.

Instead of my walk I sat down on the sofa with a cold drink, and the efforts of earlier were clearly far too much for me because I was out like a light for a good half-hour. This isn’t doing me any good at all.

But I managed to fit in my guitar practice, and then made tea. A burger in a bap with baked potato. And remind me next time that when I go to defrost the burger in the microwave, to take it out of the plastic bag first.

radio mast jersey granville manche normandy franceIt was an absolutely beautiful evening, and the view across to Jersey was one of the clearest that I have ever had.

If you notice the radio mast over there, it’s really hard to believe that that is 34 miles away from here. But it is.

There was no-one about so i had another run. 110 paces tonight. But I was disappointed that the last two runs haven’t shown up on my fitbit. It’s disappointing to say the least. I’m clearly not going fast enough, but you can’t run before you’ve learnt to walk, can you?

sand and gravel port de granville harbour manche normandy franceRound the other side of the headland I could see that we’ve had a whole pile of deliveries to the gravel bins.

There’s gravel all over the place again, and even a couple of hundred tonnes of sand.

Does this mean that we’re going to have another gravel boat some time soon? I shall have to pay much more attention that I’m doing, otherwise I’ll miss it.

Tonight I think that I’ll watch another film. I’m becoming quite bourgeois in my sentiments these days. I’m going to have to snap out of that.

But one thing that I did during the odd period here and there of lucidity was to finally finish the blog entry for one day of my trip to the desert. And never mind finishing it, it almost finished me.

It still needs to be poof-read, have the tpying examined and have a spelchek, but it’s all of 5645 words, a new record and by an enormous margin too. You can read it at your leisure.

I deserve a medal.

Tuesday 5th June 2018 – TODAY HAS BEEN A DAY …

… of neighbourly interaction. That’s where all the time has gone.

Coming back from my lunch upon the wall overlooking the harbour, I noticed one of my neighbours out weeding the gravel in front of the building. It’s not right to be impolite … "it’s never bothered you before" – ed … so I went over to chat with her and was there for over half an hour.

A little later, coming back from town, I bumped into another neighbour on his way to run an errand, so we had another half-hour chat during which we put the world to rights.

But the French say, jamais deux sans trois and sure enough, on my way out for my afternoon walk, there was Gribouille the ginger cat. And he actually came running across the gravel to me so that I could pick him up and stroke him. About 10 minutes this time.

It was yet another effort to haul myself out of bed this morning, but at least I managed not to fall asleep after breakfast, which makes a change for just recently.

And today, it’s been a tidying-up day. Although first, I had to start to pack ready for my trip to Belgium tomorrow. And something is very wrong because I don’t seem to have very much that I’m taking.

Another thing that I need to do is to work out a route to the Prefecture de Police in the rue des Morillons. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that the wallet that I lost in December has turned up at the Police Station and I have to go to pick it up.

It’s something of a hike and I can see me being very pushed for time. If the train is late I shall be snookered so I can’t afford to hang around looking for streets, especially with the perturbations on the Metro.

Tidying up, I said. That involved some (but not by any means all) of the papers that are hanging around here. There’s still plenty to do but if you don’t start, you won’t ever finish. So at least we’ve set off.

And then another task.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I’ve spent about a year looking for some images on a missing hard drive, and that I finally found it the other day. Back in the winter I bought a huge new 4TB external hard drive with the aim of putting all of my images on them – all … errr … 2.5TB or so of them. I’ve been a busy little bee over the last 20-odd years.

And so I finally made a start on it. But have you any notion of how long it’s going to take? I started at about 11:30 this morning and 11 hours later I’ve moved 755GB. In other words, I’m going to be here for the Duration while this project organises itself.

As well as the usual walks this afternoon and this evening, I’ve been into town for a baguette for tomorrow’s lunch. I need to organise that too as I won’t have time tomorrow. And I had a little … errr … relax. But then 71% of my daily activity, I’m entitled to a brief 10 minutes.

Tea was the Bombay potatoes that I mentioned yesterday. And I’m getting good at these because they were delicious

I was going to finish off by having a really early night, but now Aqualung has just appeared on the playlist. That means that we are in for another Jethro Tull muisicfest and the last time that this occurred, I was still wide awake at 05:40.

But I hope not. Much as I love Jethro Tull I can do without it tonight. I have a lot to do tomorrow and it’s an early start.

Tuesday 10th April 2018 – AND SO I WENT OUT …

… this afternoon into town, as I mentioned that I would.

And with the weather being so appalling (no surprise there) I was dressed up like Nanook of the North.

What then happened was completely predictable. The clouds dramatically raced away, we had a bright blue sky with this strange round, golden object in the sky and I melted. First time this year. I was so hot it was unbelievable.

But as I returned, the weather just as dramatically closed in again and we had a pile of rain. I tell you – this is really getting on my wick now. It’s beyond a joke.

Another night of not very much sleep, and I was on my travels yet again. I was driving down the hill (at the Clermont-Ferrand side) into St Eloy-les-Mines of all places in a car that was comparatively modern, and was joined by a pale blue early MkII Consul (the type with the small rear lights) in a rather tatty condition, and an ancient F-series Vauxhall Victor. Our descent took us into the suburbs of London (like you do) and the local MoT station where the three vehicles were examined. On enquiring of the tester, I was told that “they’ve all passed OK” – which totally surprised me. As he handed me the documents I asked him if there were any advisories. “No, none at all. They are all good” – and that I found even more surprising. But who am I to argue with an MoT examiner when he has just passed all of my cars?

We had breakfast and the usual relax afterwards and then SHOCK! HORROR! I vacuumed the floor of the apartment and cleaned the kitchen cupboard. Not that you’d notice, of course, but I do and that’s what’s important.

For lunch I finished off the soup with some more bits of baguette from the freezer and then headed into town.

My wanderings took me to the harbour to see what the crane was doing, but there was nothing particularly evident as to why it should still be there. And there was no-one around to ask either which was surprising.

I went round to the boulangerie where the good baguettes are sold and picked up one of the baguettes that keep for a couple of days. That’s for my butties on the road tomorrow of course. I’m heading back to Leuven aren’t I?

The post Office was next, to post a letter to the Tax Office and then round to the estate agent’s to pay them this famous €0:34 before I go away.

And here I tackled head-on a subject close to my heart. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that the kitchen here is rubbish and I want to do something about improving it. So I asked the estate agents if the owner would consider making an investment into his property by making a contribution to the cost.

My demand wasn’t dismissed out of hand, which is one good thing. I need to make a report and to draw up a little plan about what I would like to do. This involves a trip to IKEA to price out a few things and I may well do that on Friday if I can – the one at Zaventam. I’m sure that there must be a bus from Leuven that goes that way. I shall have to make enquiries. I shall have to measure the kitchen area before I go out tomorrow.

This afternoon I was planning to wash the floor and then go for a walk while it dried but shame as it is to say it, I was stark out on the sofa. And you have no idea just how much this is depressing me.

Tea was a frozen curry out of the freezer and then I had my evening walk around the headland. Ready for bed now and I need a good sleep because I’m on the road tomorrow.

I wonder what Thursday at the hospital will bring for me.

Wednesday 21st March 2018 – SPRING IS SPRUNG

The grass is riz
I wonder where de boidies is
De boid is on de wing
But dat’s absoid
I taut de wing was on de boid!

In fact it was such a nice morning this morning that I went for a walk.

Mind you, I had had something of a walk during the night. I was in one of my 3D worlds as a character and it was all totally weird and surreal. So much so that I was rather disappointed when the alarm went off.

Dawn was breaking as I stuck my head over the parapet – the nights are getting shorter. We’ll be putting the clocks forward soon if I remember correctly.

And after the usual morning performance and with it looking so nice, I put the bread that should have been today’s back in the freezer and went out for a baguette.

And instead of going straight down the hill into town I went the very long way round, out past the headland and down the footpath.

napoleon fortifications pointe du roc granville manche normandy franceWe’ve seen lots of evidence of World War II fortifications around here but the area was heavily fortified in the days of Napoleon and there are plenty of remains of 19th Century defences.

I’m not quite sure what this might have been but it’s certainly something to do with it all.

And the footpath that we are on is presumably the old road before the new one just above was built. I need to find out so much more about local history.

joly france granville manche normandy franceThat wasn’t the only excitement either.

The passenger ferry to the Iles de Chausey still runs in the winter for the inhabitants, and as I went round the bend there she was, the Joly France, just setting off.

I can’t understand why it goes out to the islands in the morning and comes back in the evening. For the benefit of the islanders it ought to be the other way round.

And if you want to know the definition of bone-idleness and couldn’t care less (or je m’en foutisme as they say around here) I went as I said I would round to the Marité to see what was the programme for the season.

“It’s all on the website. Look there” said the guy in charge. No wonder there’s a recession on when people come armed with a pile of folding stuff and they are told effectively to clear off.

So armed with a baguette from the boulangerie I came back from my walk and made myself a coffee I had earned it.

After lunch, with the home-made mayonnaise that seems now to have emulsified, I did a few things such as worked on a few photos and a session on the guitar where I seem finally to have mastered the Paul Rudolph/Adrian Shaw composite bass line to “Damnation Alley” from the album Quark, Strangeness and Charm.

medieval walled city granville donville les bains manche normandy franceBack out this afternoon for my usual walk. I have to keep up the pressure and anyway, as I said, it was a glorious day.

There was a nice view along the cliff past the walled town out to Donville les Bains and another one of the many miserable ruins that I visited while looking for a place to live.

Sunlight was just a little bright though – bright enough to bring out the hordes of walkers who don’t have anything better to do than get in my way.

digger working on lock gates port de granville harbour manche normandy franceRound at the quayside the big crane that we saw yesterday has now gone. And I couldn’t see what it had done.

But the digger was back digging away at the foot of the wall at the harbour entrance where the new gate is going to be. It’s supposed to be installed by now but they aren’t half taking their time about it.

They need to hurry up and get some ships in

Tea was more vegetables, vegan cheese sauce and vegan sausages, followed by rice pudding. And delicious it all was too. It’s certainly working well. And then we had the evening walk where my mate the black cat was waiting for his evening stroke.

But here’s a thing. My evening route takes about 27% of my day’s activity, so leaving here at 77% I expected it to be at 104% when I returned. But no it wasn’t – it was on 96%. So I don’t know what is happening here. I had to go for another lap around the block.

But next time that I’m out with someone so equipped, we’ll synchronise our fitbits and see what’s happening.

Saturday 17th March 2018 – I’M BACK!

marité port de granville harbour manche normandy franceAnd so is Marité.

As I wearily trudged (and it was a weary trudge) up the hill to here I saw her moored at her usual anchorage. She’s been away for the winter and now that Spring is just around the corner she’s come back to resume operations.

And I for one will be checking out just what these operations are.

snow condo gardens leuven belgium mars march 2018But “Spring is just around the corner” did I say? You wouldn’t think so because it was snowing outside this morning in Leuven when I went for my baguette and how about that for this time of the year?

Not what I would call a major snowstorm, but snow nevertheless. The thermometer on my new mobile phone showed “-1°C, feels like -7°C” and I wasn’t going to argue with that after even two minutes outside at the boulangerie – or maybe I ought so say bakker just around the corner.

Just for a change, I slept the Sleep of the Dead last night. And with having had an early night too, I felt so much better this morning.

And the new phone and new alarm did their business too, although switching it off it something of a performance.

I’d been on my travels too, loitering near the edge of the kerb as Terry turned up to pick me up. In an old FX4 and having trouble trying to make the handbrake engage. Liz shouted across that he had the sandwiches down by his side, bit all I could see was something that looked like a cardboard box all wrapped up in newspaper.

We had the usual performance this morning but I drew the line at having a shower. For some reason that I haven’t remembered, I closed the door to the bathroom last night so it was absolutely taters in there. And that was hardly a surprise given the weather.

So armed with a baguette I made my butties for the road and then having tidied up the place a little, hit the streets for the station.

photography session leuven station belgium mars march 2018They weren’t wrong about the temperature either. I was frozen to the marrow by the time that I arrived.And with the ticket machine in the basement I had to retrace my steps to the booking office.

On the platform waiting for the train we were entertained by a photographer across the tracks who was organising a photo shoot with a little girl aged about 6, dressed in clothing that was completely unsuitable for the Arctic conditions.

The poor kid looked as if she was freezing to death over there and I can’t say that I was surprised.

railway station leuven sncb train blankenberge belgium mars march 2018I didn’t have to wait too long though. There was an Intercity train for Blankenberge due in, which was handy, and so I hopped aboard. And it was heaving too.

It looked as if everyone in Belgium was heading off for a day at the seaside regardless of the weather. I ws crammed in rather uncomfortably next to three people who were watching videos on their phones at full volume, and that didn’t half get on my wick.

But it was only for half an hour or so, which was just as well. I wouldn’t have put up with that for a three-hour journey.

No excitement at the Gare du Midi today either. No-one arrested and no train derailed either. In fact nothing to laugh at at all.

tgv bruxelles mid belgium paris gare du nord  mars march 2018And crowded too. You couldn’t even have got a cat on board the TGV, never mind swung one around. It’s getting to be more and more popular this as summer approaches – not that you would ever recognise summer in this weather of couree.

I spent most of the journey with my ears closed to keep out the noisy brats and – shame as it is to day it these days – with my eyes closed too.

I know. I’m in a bad way.

We were minutes late arriving in the Gare du Nord and that’s crucial. I’m tight for time and even more so now that the line metro station is closed here. The deviation that I took on the way out took me about minutes, and that’s all the time that I had available so I took an executive decision (that’s a decision where, if it goes wrong, the person who made it is executed).

I took the line 5 as far as the Gare de l’Est nd then leapt on the line 4 train there and braved the long walk. It ended up being quicker than via the Porte d’Italie which wa good news and I reached my platform with 10 minutes to spare, totally out of breath.

sncf gare de granville manche normandy franceIn the freezing cold we rattled off to Granville, with me yet again sleeping most of the way.

And it was a long weary journey where we crawled at snail’s pace on the stretch between Argentan and Briouze. I was pretty much fed up by the time that we arrive back in Granville.

My OAP railcard expires in April so I took the opportunity to renew it. €50:00 for a year but you’ve no idea how much it saves me in discount. I couldn’t afford to do this trip if I had to pay full fare for it.

And then the long trudge back home into the cold, where I switched on the heating and made a coffee.

Tea was pasta and vegetables tossed in oil, garlic powder and chili. All of that followed by a walk outside. I’m on 111% of my daily activity and it feels like it too.

So tonight it’s back into my warm bed. And aren’t I looking forward to it?

Tuesday 13th March 2018 – SHAME AS IT IS TO ADMIT IT …

… I couldn’t even last out the morning today.

And it’s not as if I’d had a late night or anything, and it’s not as if I’d been on an enormous voyage during the night either. Just into one of the rooms on this 3D site that I mentioned just recently.

But I had the medication and the breakfast etc, and a shower, shave and even a haircut today to get ready to go. And then I sat down with a mug of coffee.

Next thing that I remember was that it was 10:30 – I’d been well and truly out for a good 90 minutes. And in the morning too. This is certainly not like me. I could understand it a little if I had been out already to the railway station, but not at all.

You’ve no idea just how much this is dismaying me.

But anyway, in the bright sunlight (because it really was nice) I headed uptown to the railway station and picked up my tickets without a hitch. Mind you, there will be a hitch coming home on Saturday because works on the line are forecast. That’s not nice.

On the way back I called at that good boulangerie to pick up a couple of those tasty baguettes. One was for lunch today but the other one is for my butties for the road tomorrow. And nice the bread is too.

After lunch I hd a few things to do on the internet and to download a couple of things onto the laptop that I take with me on my travels. And then a bit (just a little bit) of packing ready for tomorrow.

And the usual session on the bass guitar – and trying to work out the bass line from “Wind Up” off the Aqualung album by Jethro Tull – one of the albums that has to be in the top 10 of anyone’s list. Everyone immediately thinks of the title track to that album, and good as it might be, in my opinion “Locomotive Breath” and “Wind Up” have to be two of the best rock tracks of all time. And I’m determined to work out the bass lines to both of them, even if Jeffrey Hammond is a hard act to follow.

Tea tonight was the rest of the home-made stuffing with a tin of kidney beans all filled into a couple of tortilla wraps with spicy rice. And delicious they were too of course. And then we had the walk in the beautiful evening. It really was nice outside considering the time of the year.

And so an early night tonight. I have to be on my way quite early – something like 07:45 – as my train is timed for 08:34.

I am not going to enjoy this one little bit.

Sunday 18th February 2018 -FOR A REASON …

… that I didn’t understand at first, I slept the Sleep Of The Dead last night.

But I awoke with a start at about 06:40. I realised that I had changed the time of the alarm yesterday so I knew that it wasn’t yet time to awaken, but after about two minutes it hit me that today is Sunday and the alarm was programmed not to ring. And so instead of the usual Sunday morning procedure where I try my best not to awaken, we had the opposite procedure with me trying not to go back to sleep.

And then another thought hit me too.

All throughout the night there had been complete and utter silence from next door. I hadn’t awoken once. Perhaps they weren’t out partying last night at all, but had left the place yesterday morning.

I wondered whether to do a lap of honour.

I’d been on my travels too. Nina, a former girlfriend of mine, was to put in an appearance and so I needed to tidy up Caliburn, especially the back if a little session of indoor alligator wrestling (unlikely) were to take place. I also had to do some more tidying up elsewhere and this involved Dismantling the hi-fi system. Some woman helped me do this because it wasn’t easy, with cables, headphone leads and all of this kind of thing all tangled up into some kind of spaghetti mess that we were desperately endeavouring to sort out.

So with my noisy neighbours apparently having left yesterday, and having had a good night’s sleep as a result (and about time too) I was ready for anything.

Well, almost.

I made a mistake in the boulangerie. To me, a baguette is a baguette, but apparently not in Leuven. Had Jesus ordered five of the ones that were given to me there would have been no miracle about feeding the 5000. I have enough to feed myself for a week.

I took my leave of the guy at the hotel. He asked me if I’d enjoyed my stay. I explained the issues that I’d had with my neighbours and he pulled a face. I told him that I would see him in a few weeks time, and hopefully he would have a quieter room for me…

queue at boulangerie leuven belgium february fevrier 2018Emerging from the alleyway at the back of the hotel (to save walking all the way round the block) I burst out laughing when I saw the boulangerie.

We’ve all seen (and some of us have stood in) the queues outside the bakers’ shops in Poland and Bulgaria, places like that under the Communists. And here in Belgium we have exactly the same situation.

Of course, maybe not for the same reasons, but it’s amusing nevertheless to see it.

My luck was in at Leuven station. The earlier express to Brussels was held up while they endeavoured to negotiate a wheelchair and its occupant aboard, and so I leapt on board too.

There’s no doubt whatever that the guy was disabled, but when I saw him a little later walking around the train I thought that he might have given the porter at the station a little more help. But then, that might have meant that the train would have left earlier and I would have had a cold and miserable wait on the station for the next train.

And I managed to drop my woolly hat – the one that goes on my woolly head – in the train and some woman shouted after me as I was about to alight.

And although it was a cold and miserable wait in the waiting room at Bruxelles-Midi, at least we had some entertainment. For police officers manhandling … "PERSONhandling" – ed … two boys out of the restricted area. “I didn’t steal anything” wailed one of the boys but the police are the same the whole world over and took no notice whatsoever.

tgv thalys bruxelles gare du midi belgium february fevrier 2018The TGV previous to mine had been 10 minutes late but my train actually pulled in early, which made a nice change, and so I was one of the first to clamber aboard which is always helpful.

Old, tired and a little tatty around the edges. And the train wasn’t much better either. These first-generation TGVs have done quite a lot of work.

There were a surprising number of empty seats too – probably 80 or 85% occupancy. My experience of TGVs is that they are usually packed to the gunwhales.

tgv thalys paris gare du nord franceWe arrived at Paris Gare du Nord bang on schedule, which is just as well seeing that my train to Granville has been advanced half an hour because of the engineering works on the line. There’s no time to loiter.

But even more importantly, I arrived totally intact with nothing else missing from my trousseau. That makes a change after the events of the past few weeks.

But this train thing is going to become an issue in early course. They have a rolling programme of modernisation of the stations along Line 4 – the direct line between Paris Gare du Nord and Paris Montparnasse-Vaugirard. And on 17th March the platforms on the line here will be taken out of service.

There’s always an alternative route, like Line 5 to the Place d’Italie and then Line 6, but it’s complicated and takes much longer. And time is tight.

And in case you’re wondering, it is a different train from the one that I photographed in Brussels. Our train was made up of two train sets coupled together and they were of different classes.

I arrived at Paris Montparnasse-Vaugirard and my waiting room with 20 minutes to spare. And found a seat next to a girl from California who spoke French with a remarkably good accent.

You’ll remember last time I was here and the “incident” involving the woman and her mother. Here, we had quite an ugly incident where a couple arrived after boarding for their train had completed but before it had left, and they were refused admission to the platform. The abuse, insults and vitriol that they were giving the staff was outrageous.

Just to make things clear, it states quite definitely on your ticket that you should be present on the platform no later than 2 minutes before the departure time, and I’m sure that people don’t realise just how much of a walk it is to Vaugirard. Apart from the 1.3 kilometres of foot passage from the Metro (I’ve measured it), the platforms at Vaugirard are right down at the end of Montparnasse’s Platform 23, which is a very long platform. It’s a marathon hike and you won’t do it all in a couple of minutes.

eiffel tower paris franceEventually we could board our train so I took my leave of my companion and had another nice travelling companion for some of the way home.

I left my seat though a couple of miles out because at a certain point there’s a really good view of the Eiffel Tower and I wanted to get an eiffel of it.

It’s not come out very clearly because there’s only so much possibility with a swaying train and a camera shot through a dirty double-glazed window.

After my companion left I settled down to my butties and then dozed almost all the way to Granville.

diesel multiple unit sncf gare de granville manche normandy franceWe arrived on time, which is late these days because of the engineering works, and I had to help a woman with her suitcase (what help would I be?) as she struggled with a screaming infant.

And then through the drizzly rain (quite a change from the weather in Paris) I had a weary, dreary walk home. It’s definitely taking a lot out of me. If my health deteriorates further (which it’s bound to do) I’ll have to remember not to come home on a Sunday. The buses don’t run on Sunday.

Back here after I eventually arrived, I crashed out on the sofa with a coffee and was out of it completely until about 20:30. I missed tea of course, but I did have a bag of nuts and raisins.

And with the fitbit telling me that I’ve done 80% of my day’s activity, I crawled out of the apartment for a lap around the old town. When I came back I was on 102% so that’s enough for today.

I’ve done enough. I’m off to bed where I shall sleep for a week.

Thursday 21st December 2017 – I’VE FINALLY BITTEN …

… the bullet and I’ve arranged a doctor’s appointment for tomorrow morning.

After last night, I was feeling rather better this morning. But to tell you how bad things really are, it took almost 2.5 hours of film on the laptop before I managed to fall asleep. I’m clearly not well, am I?

I’d been on my travels too – down Coleridge Way in Crewe. And when I say “down”, I mean about 30 feet down because it was all under water. A couple of trips down there at various epochs, comparing the cars that were parked there – like “N” reg Marinas, that kind of thing.

No alarm, but I was still awake quite early. Not that this meant that I left the bed early of course. More like 08:30 in fact.

It took me ages to summon up the force to leave the sofa for my medication, and it goes without saying that I declined breakfast. I was back on the sofa again.

For lunch, I made a litre of packet soup and managed to drink a couple of mugs. But that’s left a horrible, metallic taste in my mouth that I can’t shift.

There was still the question of picking up my medication so round about 15:00 I crawled into town. A baguette from the bouangerie (to go in the freezer with the other one) and some little bits and pieces from the Coccinelle. And then the medication.

The walk back up here was a nightmare. I fet weak and dizzy and had to sop every couple of hundred yards. Definitely the worst trip that I’ve ever made back here. That was what made up my mind to see the doctor.
“Is it an emergency?” asked the receptionist
I explained the circumstances.
“I can’t fit you in before 10:15 tomorrow” she said.
Imagine that in the UK?

And then I crashed out on the sofa.

Rosemary rang later and we had a little chat. Only a little one, because I’m not feeling so well right now. But by 18:00 I had succumbed, and went to fect the pillow and quilt.

I managed to force down some dry biscuits later, but without any real enjoyment. And now I’m going back to bed.

I wonder what the doctor will have to say tomorrow.

Tuesday 19th December 2017 – TODAY HAS BEEN …

… just about the worst day of my illness so far.

I’d managed something of a reasonable sleep too, and even been on my travels again. I was back in an office where I had worked at one time and I suddenly realised that I was now over retirement age and still working – and no-one had said anything. I therefore decided to hand in my notice, to take effect in 6 weeks time at the end of May. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that this is something of a recurring theme in my nocturnal rambles.

The alarms went off at the usual time but it was … errr … somewhat later that I crawled out of my stinking pit. I managed to take my medicaments but didn’t have breakfast. And if I’m off my food, you’ll know that things are serious.

Later in the morning I had a phone call. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that a few weeks ago the Bank Manager had told me that there was a form that needed signing. And so he phoned me to arrange an appointment.

I need to go to the Bank about my missing cards, and I also need to go to the pharmacie for some more medication. So I struggled into the bathroom and plucked up the courage to have a shower. And I felt a little better after that. But only a little.

And so I braved the outdoors. At least it was a bright, sunny day even if it was cold and I made it to the bank. And to the boulangerie, and to the pharmacie. And I have to go out tomorrow too becausehe didn’t have all of my medication and needed to order some.

Back here, I had a hot blackcurrant and lemon drink, and then I was stark out on the sofa until … errr … 20:00.

However, I had awoken at some point, and even managed to eat one of the sandwiches left over from yetserday. And later, I had a packet of crisps and some peanuts.

So things might slowly be improving. Mind you, we mustn’t count our chickens and, to be honest, they couldn’t be much worse.

I’m off to bed, and I hope that I can sleep, and I hope that tomorrow will be better.