Tag Archives: adventure canada

Thursday 23rd December 2021 – WELL, THAT DIDN’T …

repairing portable boat lift chantier navale port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021… last very long, did it?

While I was out on my post-prandial perambulation this afternoon I went along the path at the top of the cliff above the chantier naval to see what was going on there now thatAztec Lady has gone back into the water.

In fact there’s very little of any excitement going on today because by the looks of things, the lift is out of action. It’s fenced off again and there’s a cherry picker parked at its side with a man scrambling on top.

That didn’t last very long, did it?

Mind you, it lasted longer than my night did last night. It wasn’t so early when I went to bed because, to warm myself up, I had a nice mug of thick, hot chocolate. But even so, I was still wide awake at 06:45 waiting for the 07:30 alarm call.

And typing that made me remember how nice it was so I have just been to make myself another one.

Stuff on the dictaphone too. I’d been on my travels last night. In fact, there was tons of stuff going back for over a week that I need to transcribe at some point when I’m feeling better.

Anyway, I managed to deal with last night’s, which is a major step forward. Last night I dreamt that I’d joined a volunteer fire brigade. I’d been organising my equipment and getting everything ready for being out on call, everything like that, but someone said it wasn’t quite that easy. I had to attend a training session and that was going to take place at 01:00. Of course 01:00 is a crazy time but they had to do it when there was very little interruption around. I looked around at 01:00. It was a cold, wet day and I couldn’t imagine that any kind of rehearsal would take place there, regardless of the fact that in the real world, as a firefighter you are out in all kinds of weather. As I was sitting there debating what to do, I ended up being in Scotland carrying buckets of water for a bakery. I’m not sure where this fitted in but I dozed off to sleep apparently because the next thing that I remember it was 03:20.

Later on, we were at work again, discussing holidays. I happened to mention that if I could I was planning to go to Axel Heiberg Island with one of my explorer friends. We would hire an aeroplane and try to land there. Of course this made everyone go “wow!”. One girl in particular was poring over a map of the High Arctic, all these places, saying about where she wanted to go, what was the sea?. I told her as much as I possibly could. She wanted to know how to get there so I told her about my friends in Canada. She said “I’ll have to go to a travel agent for a brochure”. I replied “no, you can ring the company direct”. I gave her all of the co-ordinates for it. I was being quite a good salesman in my dreams last night

Finally we ended up back at Virlet, me, someone else and some guy. We were talking about the place and I showed him round. I did some tidying up in the attic, all the nails and screws that were all over the floor using a magnet to pick them up. We were talking about it and I said that I lived down here permanently for several years from 2006, a chat like that. Then we had to leave. He wanted to take a photo of something or other, I’m not quite sure what it was. He got down on his knees on a blanket to photograph something in the stairwell. That was when I awoke

After breakfast, I didn’t do much. In fact, I haven’t done much all day. But in the spirit of doing something – anything – is better than nothing, I’ve been wading through one of my hard drives sorting out duplicate files. That’s another 210 GB of free disk space that I’ve created today and there’s still plenty to go at.

There were the usual breaks – for breakfast and my banana and molasses cake; and then lunch of course.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021My afternoon walk too around the headland, as I mentioned earlier.

Down on the beach there were several people wandering about – both down here and over at the Plat Gousset too.

There were quite a few people walking around on the promenade too as well as on the path underneath the walls.

Today was quite a bit warmer than it was yesterday, but it was cloudy and damp. The kind of weather when you might expect to see a few people out there.

Nothing out at sea though, so I had a nice quiet walk down to the end of the headland.

person on rocks pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021Down at the end of the headland there was no-one sitting on the bench this afternoon, but there was someone sitting farther out on the end of the rocks.

These days, since the events of 6 or so weeks ago, you have to keep a watchful eye on people sitting on the rocks, just in case…

Having inspected the chantier naval I came home for my hot coffee and to carry on weeding this back-up drive and throwing out the duplicates. I think that I’ll be here for ever doing it but at least I’m doing something.

Tea was a burger on a bap which was delicious. And now that I’ve drunk my delicious hot chocolate, I’m off to bed. I’ve a really bust day tomorrow that will end up in a late evening so tomorrow’s notes might be even later than usual.

And don’t forget my Christmas concert tomorrow night at 21:00 CET ON THE RADIO.

Thursday 9th December 2021 – FOR SOME REASON …

… today has gone really slowly. In fact, it’s dragged pretty much today and at one stage I thought that it would never finish.

That makes a change from how it usually is when there never seems to be enough time to do anything at all. And in fact, despite it never seeming to finish, it took quite a while to start, especially when I couldn’t seem to raise my back up off the bed.

However, I was up and about eventually and once I’d come round, had my medication and checked my mails and messages, I started work.

First task was to write a pile of e-mails. The time-limit for my project is drawing closer so I needed to chivvy up a couple of people who were foolish enough to promise me something. As for the other people, that’s Monday’s job.

Next was the recordings from Sunday. I wrote a mail to Laurent enclosing the sound files with a note explaining whet needs to be done.

The organiser from the radio wrote to me too. Would I go with him tomorrow evening and photograph a music concert? So that’s my football tomorrow evening down the spout.

For the rest of the morning I’ve been working on the photos from that music concert at the end of October. I’d forgotten about those – and that’s probably because they’ve forgotten about me. I offered them a spot on my radio programmes as a liv concert one weekend but despite two reminders, I never had a reply.

In fact, of all the mails and messages that I send out offering people free air time, or trying to buy something, or trying to obtain information that might lead to me spending a lot of money with them, I have about 10%-worth of replies.

Seriously, the next person who tells me that there’s a recession on will receive a smack in the mouth.

Another thing that I’ve done today is to scrub, clean and polish Caliburn’s headlights. They have gone rather dim just recently and I found a cheap headlight-polishing kit in LeClerc. And it’s a good job that I did it when I did because half an hour before, and half an hour after, we had a rainstorm.

When I went out to clean the lights it was the only part of the day when it wasn’t raining.

Something else was to soak 750 grammes of dried fruit. I’m going to make a Christmas fruit cake this weekend so I need plenty of dried fruit soaked in flavouring. Finding alcohol-free brandy or rum essence is impossible here so I made my own out of vanilla and orange. That will sit and soak now until Sunday.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021Despite the heavy rain, I dressed for the weather and then went out for my afternoon walk.

First place to visit was the wall at the end of the car park where I can look down onto the beach. And to my surprise, there were some people down there too. They must be as crazy as I am.

One guy was out there walking his dog but I’m not sure what the others were doing. You’re probably expecting me to make some kind of comment about the peche à pied after the news the other day, but I shall refrain.

fishing boat baie de granville Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021By now it was raining quite heavily so I had to be careful where and when I produced the camera.

You can see the kind of weather that we were having by looking at this fishing boat out here in the bay. Not only is it lost in a mist of heavy rain, it’s also quite low down in the water.

Well, that’s relatively speaking, of course. What’s creating that effect is the fact that the sea is quite turbulent today and I took that photo at the apogee of a wave-cycle. That explains everything.

But as I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … going out to sea in this kind of weather day after day; week after week, is one of the more dangerous modern occupations and my hat comes off to anyone who does it.

different surfaces in water baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021One thing for certain is that these different colours in the water is not due to variations in the cloud cover.

That’s something that I can confirm today anyway because we are having 10/10ths cloud cover. It’s all thick, heavy and grey out there and yet the sea is producing another one of its multi-coloured layer effects for us.

All that I can suggest is that if it’s not down to what’s underneath on the sea bed, it must be to do with the water-type – the water with the slight brown tinge is presumably fresh water coming from a river and bringing silt with it, and being carried by the tides and current.

le loup baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021There’s none of it round the other side too. You can see the frontier half-way out towards Le Loup

There are two rivers here – a river that flows from a spring in the side of the cliff here and then there’s the River Boscq that runs underneath the Rue du Boscq and out through the harbour.

But once more, I was the only person here watching it. In view of the weather there was no-one else around at all. And, in news that shall surprise no-one, there wasn’t anything going on in the bay either. Everyone else was safe at home in the warmth.

joly france ferry terminal port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021There were a few people walking around by the ferry terminal though.

One of the Joly France boats was there – the older one of the two with the larger upper-deck superstructure and with no step in the stern. They must be planning on running a ferry service out to the Ile de Chausey in the immediate future.

She’d drawn a little crowd too. There were a few people walking around on the quayside over there and also on the wall that goes around the Port de Plaisance.

But I’m not hanging around right now. I’m rather wet at the moment … “no surprise here” – ed … so I’m heading home for a hot coffee.

What I did once I returned home will surprise many people, but I made out a CV and sent it off in answer to a job advertisement.

There’s a good reason for doing this, which I shall now proceed to explain.

Apart from the obvious intention of going back into the Travel business where I spent many happy years in the 80s and early 90s, I wanted my CV to be on their table and brought to their attention and this was the ideal moment to do it.

In the past, I’ve travelled with this company as a client, which is rather like a school field trip rather than a tour, and to say that I’ve been unimpressed with the historians that they have engaged is something of an understatement.

Without wishing to blow my own trumpet too much, I know far more about the Norse voyages to Greenland and North America than the “historian” did, and I’ve spent much more time out on the Labrador coast visiting exciting places that relate to all kinds of history of the Province, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall.

So what I did in my CV is to post links to much of the stuff that I’ve written in the past, in the days when I used to have time, in the hope that they will read it. So if I don’t win the Tour Manager’s job (which will be a shame if I don’t) they might pick me up as a historian and geographer.

One thing that I do know is that if I don’t apply, I won’t have the job and I won’t lose anything by trying.

But it really is the kind of job that I can do standing on my head. 13 years of leading coach tours behind the iron Curtain, a couple of years organising conferences for that strange American company in Brussels where I worked with Alison. I must be in the mix somewhere

Tea tonight was pasta and a vegan burger and now I’m off to bed. Before I go though, I’ll just add in the dictaphone notes from last night. There was a party taking place and I’d been invited so I was definitely going. There were several girls going too so I thought to myself that I want to play an open hand here for if I’m lucky I might actually end up with one the way things were breaking out. Someone offered me a lift home afterwards, which I refused because I said that I wanted to see how the situation ended with a certain girl because obviously if it ended well I was going to walk her home. If she came with us in the car that would complicate matters even more because there was one boy going to be left over rom these boys and girls anyway and I was hopeful that it wasn’t going to be me. We all turned up at this party and the way that the tables were arranged we were ending up in pairs – boy-girl-boy-girl with a boy at the end. I was lucky in that I was next to the girl I wanted to be. So the meal started to be served but there was some kind of issue between the guy who in theory was alone (there was a guy with him with whom I went to school) and one of the girls that was on the point of turning ugly. I couldn’t understand what was happening. It was a simple matter of dishing out the food but for some unknown reason there was some kind of dispute. I was looking on with some kind of fright because for once I’d actually managed to sit next to the girl I wanted but the way that this was going I could see everyone walking out and that would leave me sitting on my own. One of these “just as I thought I’d got my bird and just about to get my fork stuck in it” moments.

I stepped back into this dream again later with this situation between this boy and this girl and serving out the lettuce was becoming extremely uncomfortable. There I was thinking for once in my life when I really did get the girl this is all going to backfire through no fault of my own and I’ll be on my own again

I’d already started to dig out the interview bits to fit the camera and the reporters and preparing for this to be recorded but the way that things are going on there will be no-one here to record. And what that was about I have no idea at all.

Later on I was trying to tidy up the kitchen where I was living with someone. She had a small daughter about Roxanne’s age. There were clothes everywhere all over the kitchen belonging to this child who was just taking them off and dumping them somewhere. I was collecting them up and putting them in a pile in the wash basket. It was overflowing like mad. I felt like having a word with this woman to say that only one change of clothes every day. I mentioned that I had the clothes and she replied “you know where the linen basket is. Put them there” so I continued to build up this enormous pile of clothing. She was doing something down the sink. I asked her what it was. She replied “a while ago some birds had gone in there in the evacuation and you could see them so you can shoot at them and occasionally hit one of them and it would die in the waste trap”. She said that they were thinking of selling their house so she had to have it cleared out anyway but there was enough room for the water to pass out by the side of it.

Finally I was doing a coach trip but as a passenger, not a driver. The new Covid regulations came out that meant that people could only sit at one of every two seats. I was going around putting bin bags on the alternate seats and taping them in place, making sure that there were notices telling people not to sit there. Of course, in the middle of a coach trip this was extremely difficult. Some people were being co-operative, some were not. The crane parked alongside the coach wasn’t making things easy. In the end I managed to close off half the seats with the exception of the back row because of people were there. I thought that that’s another job in this list that’s been done even if the people were not too keen. I had to borrow a set of scissors from one of the passengers but someone produced this most extraordinary sharp knife with a strange blade but that was exactly what I wanted so I borrowed that as well to do the job.

It was a good day today. Here’s hoping for a better one tomorrow.

Saturday 17th July 2021 – AS BARRY HAY ONCE …

… famously said – “one thing that I gotta tell you, and that it’s good to be back home”.

And having spent a couple of hours collapsed on my chair in my office, I can’t do any more than agree with him

This morning was a dreadfully early start – 04:25 when the alarm went off and I crawled out of bed feeling pretty awful, as you might expect.

There were my sandwiches to make and my packing to do and then a pile of cleaning up, and to my surprise it was all of 05:15 when I’d finished so I reckoned that I might as well head off for the railway station.

martelarenplein gare de Leuven railway station Belgium Eric HallOne thing about the camera on my telephone is that it’s not very good in the dark.

One of the construction projects in the town that has been going on for far too long with little signs of finishing is the rebuilding of the Martelarenplein, “Martyr’s Square”, outside the railway station. This is something that has been dragging on for years and it looks as if it will be going on for a long time yet.

It’s difficult to understand why these projects take so long to complete. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that there have been endless projects of all sorts going on here and which have dragged on and on and on.

class 18 electric locomotive 1812 gare de Leuven railway station 	Belgium Eric HallIt was 05:35 when I made it onto the station, to find that the train to Oostende was running late.

As I arrived on the platform so did the train and here’s a rather blurred photo of it, because the ‘phone isn’t up to very much in this kind of light.

The locomotive is one of the Class 18 electrics, the workhorses of the Belgian railway system, pulling a rake of double-deck coaches. I found a quiet spec in the front compartment over the bogie, and settled down for my trip into Brussels.

And no-one came to bother me, not even a ticket inspector. He was probably asleep in his compartment somewhere near the rear of the train.

sign about train cancellations gare du midi brussels Belgium Eric HallWe pulled into Brussels-Midi just after 06:00 and while I was here I had a look at the indicator board to see where my train might be.

But this notice caught my eye and it was worth photographing. The railway network in the east of the country has been badly hit by the flood and there are piles of trains that have been cancelled as a result.

“If you are implicated in this notice, please don’t come to the station. Postpone your journey” – in other words, there are no alternative means of transport to connect up these towns. That tells you all that you need to know about the damage to the transport infrastructure.

The trains to Germany were cancelled too. With Liège 6 feet under water and the Rhine and its tributaries overflowing, all of that has taken a knock as well and it will be a while before these services are reinstated.

TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt 4513 PBA gare du midi brussels Belgium Eric HallLook at the time now!

It’s 06:37, I’ve been here for half an hour already, and my train has now come in. It’s one of the PBA – Paris-Brussels-Amsterdam TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt trains that is running the 07:17 to Strasbourg. I take it as far as Lille Europe where I change trains.

We weren’t allowed on the train for 10 minutes while they cleaned it, and then we could all pile aboard.

And those of us on the platform side of the train were treated to the sight of a bag-snatcher snatching a bag from the train on the other side, the 07:00 to Marseille. The security staff managed to recover the bag but not the thief. The police turned up a couple of minutes later, presumably to make further enquiries.

We set off bang on time and I tried to work but there was no electricity on the train and the battery flattened itself quite quickly and that held me up.

At Lille Europe we all piled out and then there was the stagger across the town to Lille Flandres railway station.

TGV Reseau Duplex 225 gare du lille flandres france Eric HallThere isn’t much time to cross town before my train is due to leave. It was already in the station and the platform when I arrived.

It’s one of the TGV Réseau Duplex trainsets – at least, this end of it is, and I don’t know what’s on the front of it. I eventually found my carriage but these are quite cramped and there isn’t much room in the overhead luggage racks for all the stuff that I was carrying, so I dug myself in in the little phone lounge at the top of the stairs and there I sat.

It’s not possible to work there though so I spent most of the journey asleep. But at least the laptop and the telephone could recharge themselves while we were on the move to Paris.

TGV POS 4406 gare du nord paris france Eric HallAt the Gare du Nord in Paris I could have a look and see what the front trainset of my train to Paris was.

It’s one of the TGV POS units that used to work the eastern part of France and into Southern Germany until they were replaced by the next-generation machines.

Wandering off under my heavy load, because you won’t believe just how much this medication weighs, I made it to the platform of the Metro just as a train pulled up and to my surprise there was an empty seat right by the door.

It whizzed me off to the Gare Montparnasse where I wandered about aimlessly in the ill-signposted station until I found the correct escalator to take me up to the fourth floor from where the mainline trains depart

84572 gec alstom regiolis gare montparnasse paris france Eric HallMy train always departs from the platforms at the far end of the station so I wandered off that way.

There was one of the Normandy trains in at the platform and I assumed that it was mine. And there was an empty seat in that little corner that I discovered a few weeks ago from where I could keep an eye on things.

15 minutes to go, the platform number flashed up on the display screen and it was indeed my train that I had seen, so we all piled on board.

And I do mean “all piled” too because there wasn’t even one empty seat on the train. Travelling to Granville on a Saturday morning in summer with everyone going on holiday is not a very good idea. Of course I’m not usually here at this time of year – I’m usually wandering around Canada somewhere at this time of the year.

We were so crammed in that it wasn’t easy to work this afternoon on the train, but what I dd manage to do for yesterday’s journal entry is now on line and I’ll finish off the rest of it tomorrow maybe.

84567 gec alstom regiolis bombardier 82648 gare de granville railway station france Eric HallIt was quite a transformation when we arrived in Granville – bang on time with no obstructions or delays. Cold, damp and cloudy weather had given way to brilliant sunshine.

So while I stopped to organise my luggage I took a photo of the trains in the station. My train was a combination of two trainsets – I’d been in the rear one and here on the right is the front one.

To the left is one of the Bombardier units that works the service between Rennes and Caen and on which I’ve travelled a couple of times going to Coutances and St-Lô.

So into the heat I set off. Not down through the Parc de Val es Fleurs because I couldn’t manage the suitcase down the steps. Instead I went down the Rue Couraye into town.

old cars renault 8 rue couraye granville france Eric HallAnd I’m glad that I did because once more I came across another old car.

And this one is a real old car as well – A Renault R8. This was the car that was launched in 1962 with the aim of replacing the famous Dauphine and stayed in production until 1973 in France, although the model continued to be built in other countries until as late as 1976.

One of my teachers, Mr Firth, at Primary School had one of these and that one must have been one of the very first right-hand drive ones to roll off the production line. He took me to play in a football match for our school, my only representative honour, in early 1965.

old cars renault 8 rue couraye granville france Eric HallAs I was taking a photo of the car, some tourist walked right in front of me and spoiled my photo. I had to retake it.

But the whole town was heaving with tourists, getting in everyone’s way. At one point I ran my suitcase over the foot of someone who was obstructing the pavement. They really get on my nerves.

The crawl up the hill in the Rue des Juifs was appalling and I had to stop several times to catch my breath. I felt every step of the way in this heat and I don’t want to be doing this again if it keeps on like this.

Taking the bus is a sign of defeat, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, but one of these days pretty soon I’m going to have to throw in the towel. All of this medication is killing me

marite victor hugo port de granville harbour france  Eric HallOne of the places where I stopped to catch my breath was at the viewpoint overlooking Marité‘s place in the harbour.

People were streaming on board so it looked as if she was about to go out for an evening sail as soon as the harbour gates opened. I wasn’t going to wait around. Once I’d recovered my breath I carried on up the hill.

Here at the apartment I collapsed in my chair and here I stayed for a couple of hours. And then I managed to find the energy to put away the cold food and to drink the coffee that was in my “Adventure Canada” thermos flask. Still quite warm despite having been made over 12 hours.

Tea tonight was out of a tin, and then I came in here to write up my notes. And now I’m off to bed. I’m exhausted, I really am, and it’s just as well that I’m having a lie-in tomorrow. I need it.

Thursday 11th February 2021 – I’VE HAD A …

… really busy day today and accomplished quite a lot.

And when was the last time you heard me say something like that?

Once more I managed to beat the 3rd alarm, although not by much. And that was a surprise because even though I was in bed early, I’d had a really bad night.

Several bad attacks of cramp in my right leg, a couple of which obliged me to stand up to relieve the pressure. They were really painful and I was in agony for a good part of the night, something that I didn’t enjoy one little bit.

After breakfast I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been. because despite the difficulties that I’d had, I had managed to wander off on my travels, cramp and all.

I had some stuff to leave around and I didn’t want to leave it in my car while I was away for a week so i thought that I’d go to the hotel where I’d been staying or where I would stay on my way back on 12th. I drove my beige MkIV Cortina there, parked it in a temporary parking place on the street and walked round to the hotel, leaving my luggage in the car for a moment. When I arrived there was a Shearings coach tour ready to depart. I could hear them calling my name asking whether I’d be going. Instead I carried on and there were hordes of people because it looked as if there was another coach tour actually starting from there. Everyone was hanging around there at the front of the hotel and I thought that I’d be hours trying to get through this queue into reception. Suddenly 2 coaches pulled up for this coach tour so everyone surged forward into the hotel and I surged in as well. People were complaining that I’d pushed in but I arrived at the reception desk. There I was going to buy some sweets but when I saw the prices I changed my mind. I made up some story about me going on a coach tour and didn’t want my possessions to get damp in the car so she agreed to take my suitcase until 12th when I returned. I went out of the hotel and started to go back the way I’d come. She said “no, there’s a quicker way. Go down this street here, turn left and left again”. The was she said it was so confusing so she said “follow me”. She took me down the first bit and there, there was someone with a collection of old military vehicles behind a hedge, a couple of jeeps and a couple of Jeepnis from the Philippines. Round the bend there was someone else. She said “this is always the person of last resort if you need something urgently”. It was a guy who repaired all kinds of things. he had all kinds of old cars and all bits and pieces parked up in his drive. She kept on taking me down all these footpaths and I was getting so confused. I thought that we would end up miles away from my car and I won’t have a clue where my car is. It was only a 15 minute parking space and what happens if I’ve been towed away because I’ve been so long? But I followed her anyway as she seemed to know where she was going

So fighting off huge attacks of cramp that had brought me out of bed on a couple of occasions I carried on walking down here to find the BASF factory and I’ve no idea why. I was told that it was just near the overbridge but it certainly wasn’t around here. I was going to walk some way to find it and no-one seemed to be interested in telling me where it was. And I’ve no idea what that second part was about either.

But talking about Shearings … “well, one of us is” – ed … I’ve had to tell Satan to get well and truly behind me this afternoon. Someone’s offered me a 1997 Volvo B10M coach with a Plaxton Paramount body in good running order but needs tidying – for just £1500.

When I worked for Shearings I had years of fun driving those around Europe when I couldn’t lay my hands on a Van-Hool bodied one and they were really nice to drive. I loved Volvo coaches. And so it’s a good job that there’s a lockdown and we aren’t allowed to travel anywhere, especially to the UK, because it saves me from myself.

But what a bargain that is! The thing is that at the moment with companies (including Shearings) going bankrupt, there’s loads of good second-hand stuff on the market that the liquidators are desperate to move so they are slashing prices. This means that everyone is upgrading and modernising their fleets and so there’s all this good old stuff about that is worthless.

Next task was to make some dough for my loaf. Another 500 grammes of wholemeal bread and having bought a pile of sunflower seeds the other day, I forgot to add them in. But I fed the sourdough and the ginger beer while I was at it.

With half an hour free, I attacked the photos from Greenland and made some good progress and then I went for my shower.

By now, the dough had risen sufficiently so I shaped it and put it in its mould and headed out for the shops, with my two pairs of trousers on because it was absolutely taters again outside and the cold wind didn’t help.

At LIDL I didn’t spend very much. There wasn’t anything special that I needed – just a few bits and pieces.

demolition of house rue st paul rue victor hugo Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOn the way home from LIDL I had to take a diversion from my usual return route.

There had been a few notices knocking around telling us about a new block of flats that they are going to build in the Rue St Paul and I was wondering where that might be. But this here seems to be the answer because the road was closed off while a bunch of workmen were busy knocking down this old cafe on the corner of the Rue Victor Hugo.

For a couple of minutes I watched them in action but it was really far too cold to hang about for long, so I pushed off along the footpath that seems to be the pedestrian diversion at the back of the Community Centre and headed back into town that way.

covidius horriblis place general de gaulle Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall
The town centre is all decorated again, which is very nice to see.

As you might expect and as I have probably said before … “here and there” – ed … there’s no Carnaval this year. That’s hardly surprising given all of what’s going on. But it hasn’t stopped the Carnaval Committee doing their best to decorate the town to make up for it, and here’s a statue of Covidius Horriblis that might otherwise in a good year (does anyone remember those) have been mounted on a decorated lorry.

Of course, it’s a sad and sorry state of affairs but I’m convinced that we really need a lockdown much more severe than we have had to date in order to neutralise this virus. It’s no good just some people taking the utmost precautions if they are at risk of catching it from totally reckless people as soon as they go out

Talking of which, be prepared for a surge in cases being reported from here next week. The Government’s mobile testing unit is here on Saturday and everyone is invited. I’m not going though. I’m not mixing with a load of potentially ill people if I can possibly help it.

pointing rampe du monte a regret Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOn up the Rue des Juifs I went with my shopping, to inspect the work that’s been going on repairing the wall and repointing the wall at the Rampe du Monte a Regret.

And disappointing as it is to say it, they haven’t really made any progress at all since we last looked. The (lack of) speed at which workmen work these days is quite depressing. They should be doing much better than this.

It’s quite true that pointing (and roofing, because the roofers haven’t been on the roof of the College Malraux for the last couple of days) isn’t a job that you can do very well in a snowstorm, but it does beg the question “why on earth did they start the job in the middle of winter in the first place?”.

trawler port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAs I pushed on … “pushed off” – ed … up the Rue des Juifs, I noticed some movement in the inner harbour. One of the trawlers was setting out from her berth at the quayside.

The gates were closed and the lights were on red so I imagined that she was manoeuvring into position ready to leap out of the port like a ferret up a trouser leg as soon as the gates would open. But the tide was well out – no chance of them opening in the very near future.

What she did was to go off and tie up at the quayside behind the fish processing plant where someone was waiting with a van. She must be taking on supplies ready for her next trip out.

trans-shipping product rue st jean Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOne of the disadvantages of living in a medieval walled city is that the roads are narrow and the gateways aren’t very high at all.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we have seen on several occasions all kinds of large vehicles parked up by the gate in the Rue St Jean while the driver has to offload his charge into a car and trailer or an electric wheelbarrow or something similar in order to pass underneath the gateway.

And here’s someone else having a similar issue with his delivery. But there was nothing around onto which he could offload and he actually carried his parcels through the gate and into the town.

Back here in the apartment the bread had risen to perfection in the time that I had been out, so I switched on the oven and bunged it in.

While it was cooking I made myself some hot chocolate and a slice of sourdough fruit-bread and then came in here where I rather unfortunately fell asleep for half an hour.

But later, having recovered my composure, I dismantled two of the laptops here that have failed hard drives. One of the little portable Acers – the one in which I upgraded the memory and the big one with 8GB of memory that gave up 3 days after the guarantee ran out and which prompted me to buy the big desktop machine.

Both the hard drives are easily accessible, which is good news and on browsing the internet I came across a couple of Samsung 1TB Solid-State Drives at just €89:00 each. They are now winging their way in this direction along with a new battery for the little Acer and also a new SATA caddy – you need an external caddy for this job because you have to download the BIOS programs from the machine’s manufacturers into the new disk to make it start to work.

Why I’m interested in doing this is because I’m trying to lighten the load of what I have to carry around with me. The little Acers are quite light and while this one is older than the one that I used from 2014 to 2019 and which handed in its hat in North Dakota, everything in it is accessible so I upgraded the memory in it quite significantly and so it was a quick little machine, even if it was only running Windows 7.

As for the big machine, that actually came with 8GB of memory so it was quite rapid. No point in it sitting around doing nothing when it can (hopefully) be fixed quickly, easily and cheaply.

home baked bread place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBy now the bread was baked so I took it out of the oven.

It looked pretty good considering everything, and it tasted even better, and I know that because I had a slice for lunch with the remains of the bread from last time.

After lunch and having recovered from a post-prandial nap, I carried on with my Oradour notes and I’ve made my way all through the Court cases and onto the final paragraphs. So with a good couple of days on it, it should at long last be finished and I can crack on.

But it won’t be tomorrow morning though. I am required to do some work on a radio programme for someone.

trawlers english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallWe mustn’t forget the afternoon walk of course.

And we were in luck with the fishing vessels coming back towards port because I managed to take a snap of two of them out in the English Channel heading for home.

And later on as I walked around the headland there were half a dozen others hanging around outside the harbour entrance. The tide is still quite far out and there isn’t enough sea at the Fish Processing Plant for them to come in and unload. It can’t be long though because there wouldn’t be so many out there waiting for Godot when they could be spending the time out there increasing their catch.

snow lighthouse semaphore pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut let’s turn our attention back to where we are at the moment, namely the north side of the headland.

This is pretty much in the shade here and so the sun, such as there is, hasn’t had an opportunity to do very much melting right now and so unless the weather warms up, that snow will be here for a little while.

Not many people out there today either and that’s not much of a surprise. I had on two pairs of trousers so my legs weren’t cold, but that’s about all that wasn’t. I shall be going to the Sports Shop on Saturday morning if I remember for a new woolly hat for my woolly head.

And also a decent pair of warm tactile gloves. My last pair are in the pocket of my blue Adventure Canada jacket, which is hanging up on a peg in a hotel room in Calgary.

lys noir chantier navale port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallWith nothing doing out on the Baie de Mont St Michel, I continued on around the other side of the headland to see what is going on in the chantier navale

And we seem to have had a tactical substitution here on one of the sets of blocks. The fishing vessel that was here for a while has now disappeared, presumably back into the water and has been replaced by Lys Noir, one of the charter yachts that plies for hire out of the port.

With no business right now (and now idea when business might restart) they would be quite right in using this dead period to overhaul the boat and make it ready just in case something positive might happen soon.

fixing street lights rue des juifs Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThat was enough for me. I decided to head on home before I froze to death. But not before I had a good look to see what they were doing down in the Rue des Juifs.

Earlier on in the day I’d noticed this cherry-picker out around the town with the guys doing some work. It looks as if they are checking the street lights to see which ones are out and to replace the dud light bulbs if necessary.

But that’s a pretty pointless exercise if you ask me because with no-one out and about at night, why do you need the street lights? And in any case, regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I almost went base over apex in the dark on my way to the railway station because the street lights had been extinguished.

When I finished my notes on Oradour sur Glane I had my hour on the guitar and it was quite enjoyable. And I’ve noticed that my bass playing seems to have moved up to another level which has pleased me immensely. At one stage I was playing a lead guitar solo on the bass to Neil Young’s “Like A Hurricane” and Tom Petty’s “Mary jane’s Last Dance”.

And my singing seems to be improving too – not actually singing in tune because that’s way beyond the realms of possibility but the fact that I can keep on singing while I’m playing more complicated stuff on the bass.

But at the moment, I’m going all of this on the Gibson EB3. I really ought to be playing it on the 5-string fretless that I bought for my birthday last year, but that’s a complicated machine and there are limits to what I can try to do at any one time.

Tea was a Madras Curry out of the freezer followed by rice pudding. And now I’m off to bed. Flat out tired, I am and that isn’t a surprise given everything that has happened today. And I made 100% of my target today according to the fitbit. It’s been a long time since I’ve done that, considering the lockdown.

No wonder I’m exhausted.

Monday 8th February 2021 – I GIVE UP!

Never mind the third alarm. When the first alarm went off at 06:00 I was already at my desk working. And by the time that the 3rd alarm went off I was already working on the radio programme for this morning.

It wasn’t as if I’d gone to bed particularly early either. But judging by how much I was tossing and turning during the night, I didn’t have much sleep at all and by the time that 05:40 came round I gave up trying to sleep and decided that I may as well take advantage and make a really early start.

And by the time that lunchtime came round I had finished the programme, from start to finish too.

There had been the usual interruption for hot chocolate and sourdough fruitcake, and not only that, I had to deal with a couple of outstanding issues involving the radio. So in effect, I could have been finished earlier than I did.

After lunch I had some more radio work that needed attention. A radio programme was missed 2 weeks ago because the transmitter was down and they rebroadcast the programme 2 weeks later. That meant I had to shuffle the next set of programmes around, re-index them and move one or two so hat the sequence is maintained and I don’t end up out of order.

That took longer than it ought to have done, and it wasn’t helped by the fact that I … errr … dozed off twice during the afternoon. And that’s not a surprise, considering how the night had gone.

There was, of course the afternoon walk and I didn’t go very far before I took the first photograph.

roofing college malraux place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that we’ve been watching them replacing the tiles on the roof of the College Malrauxx over the last few months, and then last week we saw then moving the scaffolding round to the side.

Now, we can see that the roofers have made it round to that side and are busy stripping off the tiles from there and replacing the waterproof membrane and the laths.

And the guys up there on the roof – I don’t envy them one little minute. There’s quite a gale blowing outside and threatening rain too. It’s quite rough down here on the ground – up there it must be very much worse.

trawler english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThe only people whom I saw out there was just one jogger struggling against the gale. There was a trawler out there too, coming back into port from a day out at sea.

The trawlers are back out there working, as we saw the other day as we watched them going out of port. It seems that an agreement has been reached with Jersey about fishing rights in the Bay of Granville.

And that’s no surprise. Not just me but I think that everyone else was of the opinion that once the ports started to turn away the Channel Island boats, it wouldn’t take long for Jersey to surrender and to issue the permits. It’s just a shame that naked greed and self-interest has led us to a situation like this.

yachts chantier navale port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallThe footpath was mostly dry so I had a comfortable walk around the headland to the viewpoint overlooking the chantier navale.

There’s some excitement down there this afternoon. There’s some kind of canvas cover over part of the hull of the yacht that’s been there since the dawn of time and there were a few people on the deck looking as if they were doing some work.

I’ve no idea what work it is that they are doing but the cover is quite suggestive of painting, although it’s not really the weather in which I would like to be doing any painting.

l'arc en ciel trawler port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallWe’d seen a trawler out there at sea heading into port, and there were already a couple of them that had arrived earlier and were unloading at the fish processing plant.

As I watched, one of them, L’Arc En Ciel – “Rainbow” – pulled away from the quayside and headed off to moor in the inner harbour.

By now it was raining fairly heavily so I headed off back home to my apartment. A nice hot coffee would be just the thing to warm me up, and having drunk that I spent the rest of the afternoon with the Greenland photos from 1907. One of them needed identifying so I asked one of my friends from THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR and Adventure Canada who helped me out with the identification.

It was a strange session on the guitars this evening. The bass-playing part of it was really enjoyable and it’s definitely improving. I was adding in a lot more intricate stuff at the same time as I was singing, so my co-ordination is improving, I reckon.

But for some unknown reason I couldn’t get to grips with the acoustic guitar and seemed to have a couple of handfuls of thumbs this evening and my voice was off as well.

Tea was a stuffed pepper followed by rice pudding and it was all quite nice. Tomorrow I’m going to have a burger in a bap, I reckon seeing as there’s just one bap left. I can buy some more on Thursday and if I’m lucky, there might even be room in the freezer.

Before I go to bed now I’m going to have another half-hour on the photos. I’m just about to set foot on dry land on Cape Farewell in Greenland. Not much further to go on this leg of the voyage before I head off to Western North America.

Monday 25th January 2021 – ONE TRAIN …

gec alsthom regiolis gare de Granville railway station Manche Normandy France Eric Hall… per day to Paris in a pandemic, that I can understand. But just WHY does it have to be at 05:55?.

And in news that will come as something of a shock to regular readers of this rubbish (because it cane as quite a shock to me), not only did I beat the third alarm this morning, I was actually out of bed and leaping up and down (but not actually waving St Cecilia’s knickers in the air) even before the FIRST alarm went off.

During what there was of the night, I’d even managed to go off on a voyage too.

I hadn’t seen Caliburn for ages and then I realised that he was in the garage being serviced and I hadn’t been to pick him up since I’d been back from holiday so I was debating whether or not to go round – and suddenly I was there as if fate had already decided for me. I backed him out of the garage where he was being serviced and went to pay the bill but they hadn’t finished putting the wheels on. A brake hub had been stuck inside a wheel and they had to prize it out. That meant doing some grinding down and filing. They showed me what they had done. They went to fit the wheel back on but one of the wheel nuts was cross-threaded so they had to go off and find another one and I had to wait. In the meantime it was lunchtime and I’d gone into the waiting room with them. There was a big bag of chips that they were handing out between themselves. Someone opened a packet of pasta but it was so full that he went outside to tip some away into a bin which I thought was a strange thing to do. They were all organising themselves like this while I was waiting for Caliburn to be ready.

What this goes to prove is that many of my usual difficulties in rising from my bed in the morning are not actually connected with anything physical, and this is quite bewildering.

But there I was, up and about and starting on my household chores as the first alarm went off.

:, didn’t take me long to do what I had to do, and to make a flask of coffee in the Adventure Canada water bottle that I was given on The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour.

Having done the necessary, I hit the streets and headed for town, fighting the howling gale all the way.

trawler leaving port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAs it happened, I wasn’t the only one who was up and about that early either.

The harbour gates must have only just opened because there was a whole stream of fishing vessels heading out to sea.

And while I’m on the subject, regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I mentioned on Friday that I was surprised to see all of the fishing boats in port and not out at sea.

There was a very good reason for that, as I subsequently found out and forgot to mention. It seems that on Friday all of the fishermen had a meeting in town to discuss the next steps in the escalation of the fishing dispute with the Channel Islands.

If it comes to a showdown with the British Government and the British Government decides to employ its fleet of … errr … four gunboats to protect its territorial waters, then knowing French fishermen as I do (after all I live in a town full of them), my money will be firmly on the fishermen.

It wasn’t easy to make my way to the station because most of the street lights had been switched off and we were in the pitch-black. I just encountered a couple of council workmen on my way out there.

The train wasn’t in – mainly because I was there by 05:30, but it soon pulled in and we could board it. It was a full-length train of two units coupled together, but we didn’t have reserved seats. I chose a place right at the front – less distance to travel at the other end.

The weather had been very mild in Granville and has been for the last while. But once we headed inland towards Paris it changed quite rapidly.

snow on railway station platform flers Normandy France Eric HallWe started to pick up the snow round about Villedieu-les-Poeles and the further along the route, like here for example, at Flers, the snow was quite heavy and had stuck to the ground.

Much to my surprise, despite the ridiculously early start, I didn’t crash out for a minute but managed to stay awake for the whole of the journey to Paris, reading a report of the discovery of a mass grave on the outskirts of Weymouth containing 52 decapitated Norsemen from the late 10th Century.

And as for my coffee – I tried some at about 07:30, just about three hours after I had made it. And it was far, far too hot to drink. That was quite unexpected.

gec alsthom regiolis paris gare montparnasse France Eric HallBang on time – 09:14 – we pulled into the Gare Montparnasse and I could take a photo of the unit on which I travelled – the one on the left. The photo that I had taken earlier was of the unit at the other end of the train.

Even though the rush hour wasn’t quite over, the Paris Metro was comparatively quiet. It was a quite rapid trip to Paris Gare du Nord and I was surprised about how empty the place was. I could even find a seat.

The effects of the virus and the amount of working from home has calmed down the amount of commuters quite considerably.

TGV Reseau Duplex gare de lille flandres France Eric HallThere wasn’t a great deal of time for my connection to Lille As I walked into the station they were just allowing the passengers to board. I didn’t even have time to photograph it – that had to wait until we arrived at Lille Flandres Railway Station.

The train was another double-decker TGV Reseau Duplex – two units again (ours was the left-hand one) and it wasn’t all that busy either. I could spread out a little and sample my coffee yet again. And after 6 hours in the flask it was still too hot.

Plenty of time for a change in Lille so having had a good clamber about on an overhead walkway to take my photograph, I could have a pleasant if cold walk down the road to Lille Europe Railway Station.

TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt gare du midi brussels belgium Eric HallThe train was actually in the station when I arrived so I had to wait until I arrived at Brussels-Midi until i could photograph it.

But it was a pretty busy train without many spare seats. Luckily I had no neighbour so I could spread out and I even managed to doze off for 10 minutes or so. And the coffee had cooled down enough for me to be able to sip it. Not gulp it – just sip it.

And now I can call myself one of the statistics on the Belgian Government’s list of Covid-testees.

When we arrived at Bruxelles-Midi we had to pass through a checkpoint and show our papers. It’s a good job that I had prepared my Travel request. And I was directed to the Covid-testing point outside the station.

And having a Q-tip shoved up my nose is not a very pleasant sensation at all.

Another task I had to perform was to post off the Certificat de Vie that I had signed by the French police the other day to prove that I’m still alive. The Tour de Midi – the headquarters of the Belgian pension service is just across the road from the station.

sncb class 18 electric locomotive gare de leuven railway station belgium Eric HallBack in the station again I had to run (as best as I could) for my train as it was just coming into the station.

It’s one of the Oostende-Welkenraedt trains and these are quite comfortable so I didn’t want to miss it if I could help it.

By now the coffee was cool enough so I could actually drink it so I had a nice comfortable ride to Leuven and a pleasant walk down to my hotel room.

Here, I sorted myself out and had a little sit down for a while to recover my strength. And having done that, I headed out for the shops.

house renovation dekenstraat leuven belgium Eric HallDown at the end of the road here I went past the house renovation that we have seen before.

It’s now been about three months since they’ve been doing the facade of the building, to my certain knowledge and I really don’t understand why this sort of thing takes so long.

The bill at the Carrefour was quite expensive, but then again food is much more expensive in Belgium than it is in France. And I was glad to be back in my room with my food. I was ready for something to eat

Writing out my notes took longer than it might have done, due to the fact that I … errr … had a little repose. But now I’m off to bed. Welsh lessons in the morning so I need to be my best.

And after the very long day that I’ve had, I’m ready for bed too.

Wednesday 20th January 2021 – I’M NOT SURE …

… whether today was a good day or a bad day. In fact it was probably a bit of both.

The good bit was that I almost beat the third alarm to my feet. And if you realise that it was after 01:00 when I went to bed, you’ll realise just what a feat that was. Mind you, when I say that I almost beat it, yes I was out of bed a couple of seconds after it rang, but it would be wrong to say that I was leaping about It took a good 10 minutes for the room to stop spinning around enough so that I could get off the bed.

After the meds I had a listen to the dictaphone.

There was some stuff on there from yesterday that I must have forgotten to transcribe. So I did that and added them back into the entry for yesterday where you can see them in all their glory.

And then I turned my attention to last night.

We were setting off on a cruise and it wasn’t an Adventure Canada cruise but another company. We all had to meet up and head back to board the ship. As usual I was last. We were in Nantwich and the ship was at Acton so everyone was streaming back up the road towards Acton. I set out at a run to try to catch everyone up. By the time I reached where the Star was, somewhere like that, I’d actually caught up the other people who were behind. Just in front of me before then was a woman, obviously something to do with the trip counting the people who went past. She said to 1 guy in front of me “you must be the last” but then I ran past and she looked at me “Oh God, not you”. I carried on running and the other guy there saw me and he started to run as well. For some reason I could run really well and really easily and had no trouble in keeping him away. I ran to the church and everyone was in there having a briefing. My father was in there somewhere – he was coming on the trip – but the briefing had finished by the time that I arrived. When I walked in, it wasn’t a church but a shower and they were all having a communal shower in about 4 or 5 different rooms. I had a look but couldn’t see my father in any of the rooms. I said “I’ll be glad to get back on board the ship again and have my familiar old cabin” and I quoted a number. Their response was “not that leaky old hulk” and started to talk about the showers and how the water went everywhere and soaked the beds, that kind of thing. A girl came out and asked “do you have a torch?” I replied “yes”. “Can I borrow it?”. She set off and went downstairs so I followed her. There was a motor garage there, a kind of workshop with benches in a glass-framed room. She sat down and I said “I can’t find my torch”. She replied “that’s a shame as I have some things to do”. “So why don’t you switch on the lights?”. “Am I allowed to?”. “Of course you are. I know the people who work here anyway”. She switched on the lights and she was taking a York diesel engine apart. She had all of the bits out and was busy writing notes about it. I watched her writing these notes and had a little chat with her for a while.

Yes, all of these exciting voyages and not a single person with whom I would really like to travel. I don’t know what the world is coming to.

For much of the day (although by no means all of it) I’ve been quite busy. I’ve had a letter to write to reply to one that I received in the Summer that somehow became lost. And that wasn’t easy.

In fat it led to the start of a major tidy-up in the office which, although it’s only just got under way, has resulted in a pile of outstanding filing being done and a load of paperwork being thrown away. And there’s still plenty more to go at.

Sadly the place doesn’t look much different than it did before I started – but then that’s usually the case when I’m tidying up. The place always seems to be worse and then when I run out of steam and have to sit down I’m in the middle of total chaos and that’s so disheartening too.

After lunch I sat down for 5 minutes to raise the steam for carrying on with the tidying up but I’m afraid that was that. 15:45 when I finally came round again having missed all of the early afternoon and I’m dismayed about that too.

rubble from gas pipe laying Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallIt took a good half-hour to recover my composure after that so it was rather a later walk this afternoon than usual.

Not that I went very far before I took my first photograph. Just outside the front door in fact. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall having seen seen them digging up the road in the Rue St Michel and probably noticed that there wasn’t anywhere to tip the spoil from the excavations.

But now we know the answer to that little problem. They have a little dumper bringing it all over here and tipping it on the car park of the building across the way.

ile de chausey english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallSo off I went on my travels along the footpath. And I didn’t go much further either.

One thing that strikes me is the series of stories about ancient mariners sighting “land” and which turn out to be false sightings. But when you see something like this that I saw this afternoon, it’s not surprising.

Of course a camera can’t produce the same effect that you have with the naked eye but here there’s a curtain of rain approaching across the English Channel and what is presumably the water bouncing off the surface is creating an effect that does look like land out there in front of the Ile de Chausey.

sunset baie de mont st michel brittany coast Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallNot too many people out there this afternoon and that’s no surrpise because the storm has hit and we are having a hurricane right now.

But with being late out for my afternoon walk, the sun is much lower in the sky than it has been of late and once again we are having the reflections of the sunlight of the surface of the Baie de Mont St Michel. And I do have to say that this is one of the better ones of recent date, although we can thank the late hour for that.

And having thanked the late hour for the photo I pushed off along the footpath to see what was going on in the chantier navale. And just the same three boats as yesterday. No-one has left and no-one new has arrived.

rainbow Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBy now the rainstorm that we’d seen out to sea had caught up with me and I was becoming rather wet … “so what’s new?” – ed.

The sun was out over on the other side of the bay as we have seen and with it shining over here, we were being treated to the appearance of a rainbow. Unfortunately the camera can’t bring it out very well but nevertheless it is there, if you look quite hard.

Having photographed it, I came on home for a cup of hot, strong coffee and the discovery that the hot water that i’d put in the water bottle that I had received from Adventure Canada when we were on board The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour was still hot.

That’s good news because for my early star on Monday morning I can take hot coffee with me to keep me going. Must remember to bring the heated mug out of Caliburn.

With hot coffee in hand I tidied away a few more papers and that took me up to guitar time. And surprisingly, it was an enjoyable session and I’ve recovered my voice – something that has just caused the rateable value of this building to hit rock-bottom.

Tea was a burger on a bap with baked potato and veg, followed by jam roly-poly. And while the jam roly-poly is well-overcooked, the general principle is sound and I shall be doing that again … “and again” – ed.

Later on this evening I wa giving Liz some long-distance computer maintenance advice. She’s having problems with her laptop going slower and slower so I spent some time helping her along with it. But there’s much more to do so this is going to be an ongoing task.

And now that I’ve written my notes, later than I hoped, I’m off to bed even if Joni Mitchell and Hejira, her greatest album by a country mile, has come round on the playlist. I need an early night and I deserve it.

Things aren’t getting any better round here and they won’t if I don’t take any decisive action.

Monday 9th November 2020 – I DIDN’T …

… manage to beat the third alarm this morning. But nevertheless I managed to tear myself out of my stinking pit fairly quickly so it wasn’t too much of a problem.

helicopter air sea rescue notre dame de cap lihou baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallSo while you look at some photos of the rather dramatic air-sea rescue that took place this afternoon out in the Baie de Mont St Michel I’ll tell you something about my day today.

First thing after the medication was to listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night. And, more importantly, who had come with me.

And there was actually something there, so I must have been away at some point. And what I heard about my voyage took me quite by surprise because it’s quite a rare event, what happened during the hours of darkness.

helicopter air sea rescue notre dame de cap lihou baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall Last night I dreamt that I had gone to the local Council offices to talk about getting a French nationality. The woman had sent me into a room which was where I would have to wait but my appointment would be something like 09:30. After a while I noticed that they had been calling through people who had come into the room after me and I was starting to become a little concerned about this. I went back to the reception and told them. The woman there said that there were a lot of people to see of course but she could absolutely guarantee that I would be seen before 11:30 that morning. I thought to myself “OK, I’ll have to wait” so I went back. But then I awoke in this dream and found that I was actually inside an old van with a load of other people. I had a look at my watch and it was 10:45. I thought that I have to go and make this appointment. How long have I been away and what have I been doing in the meantime? So I shook myself out, climbed out the van which was something like a CA Bedford or J4 with sliding doors. Someone else wanted to come out behind me so I had to help them out, then the curtain in the doorway was getting in the way. Then I thought “should I take a book with me or something? But them I thought that I don’t really have time. I have to get all the way back to the Council offices and hope that I haven’t been called in the meantime and that I’ll be there before 11:30.

It was really weird, this waking up in a dream and finding myself still in a dream.

helicopter air sea rescue notre dame de cap lihou baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOnce I’d organised myself with the dictaphone I had a radio prgramme to prepare.

It’s the 69th issue of my programmes and now I’m deep into the obscure tracks, which was always the plan. Groups like Amazing Blondel, Brian Auger’s Trinity, Eyes of Blue and the Swedish musician Bo Hansson will be making their debuts when this programme is broadcast and there are plenty more of the same to follow.

And so round about 07:30 or so I sat down to make a good start.

helicopter air sea rescue notre dame de cap lihou baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall It took me less than 90 minutes to choose the first 10 tracks, remix them, combine them in pairs and add on the introduction.

Then I had to research the groups because with so many new groups, I didn’t have much in the way of prepared notes, and then I had to write out the texts and then dictated them.

Once I’d dictated them I had to edit them, split them into segments and then link all of the pairs of songs together with the segments of text in between.

That left 4:20 so knocking 45 seconds off for a closing speech, that meant a final track of 3:35. Having chosen one of the right length and remixed it, I then had to dictate a closing speech which I unfortunately overran and ended up having to trim down the programme by 19 seconds.

Nevertheless, buy 14:20 it was all done and dusted, despite having a break for hot chocolate at 10:30 (and my fruit bread buns were perfect) and for lunch (and my hone-made bread was pretty good too).

First task when I finished was to ring up to enquire about Caliburn. And, as I expected, the time limit that I was given was … errr … somewhat optimistic. They’ll ring me up when he’s ready, but I can see that it’s not going to be any time soon.

Second task was to sort out the rest of the radio programme that I’d started. I even started to type out the notes but I’m afraid that my early start proved somewhat too much for me and I ended up asleep on the chair for a while.

cormorants on rock Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallConsequently my walk outside this afternoon was rather later than planned, but I went out just the same.

For a change I forgot myself and ended up going off around the headland instead of around the walls. The tide was well in and out there sitting on a rock was a colony of what looks like cormorants.

They were just sitting there not doing very much, except one of them that was flapping its wings as if it was going out of fashion. The birds posed quite nicely for a good few minutes and then I pushed off to find out what the racket was all about out to sea in the Baie de Mont St Michel.

helicopter air sea rescue notre dame de cap lihou baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd out there, hidden in the spray kicked up by the rotor blades of a helicopter, was our local lifeboat Notre Dame de Cap Lihou.

As I watched, the helicopter made two or three practice runs towards her and then on the next one, she hovered quite close and as I watched, she lowered a person down on a winch.

By the looks of things it may well have been nothing more than a practice exercise but it was still exciting just the same.

With nothing else going on out there this afternoon, I wandered off back home again to do a bit more work.

Later on, I had a really enjoyable hour on the guitars. One of the things that I did with the bass guitar was to work out the bass line to David Bowie’s “Heroes” and I found, to my immense satisfaction, that I could sing it at the same time.

Back 40 years ago I could sing and play the bass but it wasn’t all that easy. Despite the fact that I still haven’t manage to recapture whatever skill I might have had, I’m finding singing to be so much easier and I don’t understand that at all.

With the acoustic guitar, I selected half a dozen songs and then had a little concert. As I’ve said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … I need to spend more time concentrating on maybe just a dozen songs and knowing them very well rather than dissipating my efforts over a hundred or so.

But one track that I’ve found that I can play and sing quite easily is Counting Crows’ “Recovering the Satellites”, although that song and “Heroes” that I mentioned just now remind me rather too much of a certain night back at the beginning of September last year and one day I might even write about it.

There wa san old burger in the fridge that needed eating so I had that for tea. And being fed up of pasta, I had a baked potato with tinned veg seeing as I have run out of carrots. And the veg was peas, peppers and sweetcorn from a tin that I had bought ages ago at NOZ. As I’ve said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … rummaging around in the food mountain at NOZ does provide me with a varied diet.

Both Rosemary and TOTGA wanted a chat on the internet so I was rather late going out for my evening walk and run.

And to my surprise, not only did I manage 6 runs, I ran them without any effort too and I reckon that I could have pushed on even further had I wanted.

escalier du moulin a vent Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallIn between a couple of the legs I stopped for a breather at the viewpoint overlooking the Place Marechal Foch.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall having seen plenty of photos of the Place Marechal Foch during the night, but it occurs to me that you may not have seen the view looking behind me

There’s the nice little flat level ground which is disfigured by a small bunker or two of the Atlantic Wall, and then the stairs – the Escalier du Moulin a Vent that leads up to the Place de l’Isthme. And while there is indeed a “Windmill Staircase”, there’s no windmill. although there used to be and I have seen an old postcard that shows a view of it.

trees lit up square maurice marland Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallNo-one about so I had a good run across the Square Maurice Marland.

It was all looking quite nice, the trees all illuminated by the lights and with no leaves to hide the effect.

And from there I continued around the walls and then ran on home to write up my notes.

Tomorrow I have my Welsh lesson so I need to do some revision in the morning, and then in the afternoon I hope that I’ll be able to finish off the radio programme that I started in Leuven.

Then there are plenty of other things to be doing and who knows? One of these days I might be able to see some light at the end of the tunnel. Just don’t hold your breath.

Tuesday 22nd September 2020 – I DON’T KNOW …

… what happened today but I’ve felt better and accomplished more today than I have done for quite some considerable time.

And it wasn’t the coffee at midday that fired me up either because I was well on my way long before then.

In fact, I was once more up and – well, not exactly about but up nevertheless – before the third alarm.

Last night I had my cars dotted around in 3 or 4 lock-ups or buildings in this old factory place. I was waiting there because we were all about to go off with Adventure Canada again. People suddenly started leaving, swarming off to the reception area so I followed them. i was chatting to a load of people about the Arctic, saying how much I liked it, listing all the times that I’d been. People were really impressed that I’d been so often. When I got towards the meeting point I could see Jerry there. I asked “what number am I, Jerry? I don’t know and I can’t find a list and I can’t think”. He had a look and replied “Eric, you’re n°71 – you have a long time to wait yet”. I went back to my unit and was sorting through some wheels. There was one that matched THE A60 VAN THAT I HAD YEARS AGO so I went to put that back in the back of the vehicle. There I was thinking that I was short of wellingtons but there were about 5 pairs and various other pairs of shoes, loads of other stuff like that in the back of the van. It was all looking pretty good in there with all the stuff. Then the thought occurred to me that when I’m called I’m going to have to take a Ford Anglia with me – a 100E model but I would never ever get it through the personnel door. It would be absolutely impossible to get it out through the vehicle door because there was so much stuff in the way. How was I going to do that? Would I have to get the vehicle out sideways on its side and slide it through the personnel door? Would it fit? I was busy thinking about all of this and I awoke in a fever.
There was another voyage last night too, this one involving an old sailing ship, something like Marité. I knew that there would be some kids on it but that’s pretty much everything that I can remember now. I can’t remember anything else.

And having done that, I actually excelled myself by dealing with another batch of the arrears and we are now down to single figures.

Having dealt with that I did a little (only a little) tidying up and then had a good look over my Welsh notes ready for my lesson.

There were just three of us at class today so it was pretty intense and fast-paced. And to my surprise, not only did I manage to keep up with it, I found that I could remember much more than I thought that I did.

This afternoon I cracked on with the radio programme and that’s actually finished now. I missed out on one of my guitar sessions but I would rather finish the programme and worry about the guitar rather than the other way round.

fishing boats chantier navale port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallThere was the usual break mid-afternoon for my walk around the headland.

There were quite a few people out there enjoying the walk, and the brats were there orienteering too. There’s also a big change in the chantier navale too. The Ten Green Bottles that were hanging on the wall in there have now reduced themselves to Five.

But strangely, while that was the situation in there, there was nothing much else going on involving boats. The fog of yesterday had lifted somewhat, so at least I could see that there was nothing out there at all.

renault van mobile home looking for companion granville manche normandy france eric hallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that a while ago I posted a photo of a strange van that has been transformed into a mobile home, with an advert on the side seeking a (female) companion to accompany the owner on his travels.

The van is now back and the adverts (slightly differently-worded than before) are still on the side and the rear door. Here’s clearly not had much luck in his quest.

Back here I finished off the radio programme and then had half an hour on the guitar before tea.

Tonight I made falafel with steamed vegetables and vegan cheese sauce followed by some more of the apple crumble. That’s almost all gone now. Tomorrow will see it off and as I’ll be baking more bread on Thursday I’ll make a rice pudding for a couple of days.

This evening I went out for a walk and my usual runs, and ran slap bang into a young-adult orienteering competition, followed by a group of people having a late-night conducted tour of the walls.

All of this rather cramped my style and while I managed my three runs, the photos that I took didn’t come out well enough. The ones that I wanted to take, I couldn’t as there were too many people in the shot.

It’s rather early now and I’ve already finished what I wanted to do. i’ve not had a day like this for quite a while. I know that there will be a downside to all of this but I hope that it won’t be for a while.

There’s a lot of catching up that I need to do.

Wednesday 1st July – MUCH TO MY …

… own surprise I once more beat the third alarm to my feet. But that was more in the hope that I wouldn’t awaken my fellow passengers with the racket that it makes rather than any keenness on my part. Some stuff on the dictaphone too and I’ll tell you more anout that as time goes on. I’ve not yet listened to it so I don’t know as yet if I have had any exciting company.

Mind you, my shipmates aren’t so pleased with me. Apparently David Bowie awoke the whole ship this morning and they have politely asked me to switch off my alarm tomorrow.

We had a leisurely start today and Strawberry Moose became the first moose ever to set hoof on the Isle de Brehat. There he found himself a girlfriend – it was love at first sight.

This all involved a zodiac ride and if anyone from Adventure Canade were to see the security precautions that we took, they would blanch. But we made it ashore (and back) safely and had a good tour around the island for three hours or so.

Back on the Spirit of Conrad we had an unexpected hitch. The anchor was jammed and it needed both the crewmen to free it. However we needed to leave at that moment because of the tide so Yours Truly was trusted with the controls all on my own for about an hour or so.

Luckily I wasn’t at the controls a little later because we had “an incident”. There was a ship anchored off the coast right in our path and as we approached it, it signalled to us to “clear off”. We saw no reason to so we carried on regardless and right behind it was a police launch – the Geranium I. And they came to intercept us.

Apparenty this ship is surveying the ocean bottom and there have been some disputes with the local fishermen, so a 500-metre exclusion zone has been declared around it. All very well if you are a local and you know, but if you don’t know, you don’t know.

They were on board for almost an hour verifying all of our papers and everything before they cleared off.

The weather, that hadn’t been too good to start with, deteriorated over the course of the day. We passed Cap Frehel in a heavy cloud and by the time we moored at St Cast le Guildo) it was raining heavily. Mind you there are some good modern showers in the harbour office so I for one took full advantage.

Rosemary called me for a chat too which was nice – but that meant that it was quite late when I came back on board. However with no 06:00 alarm in the morning it doesn’t matter all that much. I’m off to bed and hopefully I’ll be having a good lie-in


Sunday 24th November 2019 – YOU’VE NO IDEA …

… just how right I very nearly was about this morning either.

As it happens I awoke at … errr … 06:25 this morning but no chance whatever of me leaving my stinking pit at that time of the morning.

When I awoke at 09:00 I didn’t feel like leaving the warmth either, but I had to get up, for reasons which any man my age will very well know. And while I was sitting there riding the porcelain horse, the telephone rang!

Had I not been up and about it would really have disturbed my reverie and no mistake.

Although it was a late night too, there was plenty of time to go off a-wandering. And no mistake this time. I pinched myself this time to make sure that I was awake before I dictated this particular dream. The front door rang and it was Brigitte outside with all kinds of stuff for me to make muesli with. She’d heard that I wasn’t feeling too well and shop on my own so I thought at least I could have breakfast. This was as far as it got. I was with Liz and Terry by the way and we were possibly going to see Nive Neilsen I don’t know. Anyway this is what happened, but Brigitte turned up and I don’t remember the rest of the dream because there wasn’t one. As soon as I consciously knew that I was having a dream I woke up so that I could dictate it and there didn’t seem to be much point in that!
A little later on, we were much more involved. I was with a girl who reminded me very much of Sue Cassell although it wasn’t her – she was much smaller than that. We were hanging around together and going places and doing things but we weren’t particularly a couple. But as time went on and we were walking aorund this housing estate type of place that might have been Baron’s Road in Shavington but wasn’t and some waste land with a stream and trees and a high earth bank. Somehow the conversation turned round a bit towards the obvious and I made a move. She seemed to be quite receptive to the idea. I didn’t know what was going through her mind but she was quite interested in this. Anyway, I stopped and the conversation came round to her place and we ended up back at her house where she lived with her mother. She wanted me to go and put something in the rubbish. But where was the rubbish? It was upstairs in one of the bedrooms of all places. I had to take the rubbish upstairs and look in all the bedrooms to find out which room the rubbish was in and put the rubbish in there. It was actually a bedroom that someone would sleep in, bed all made up and everything where you put the rubbish in and I thought that this was really strange. Later on we went out and we were at this outdoor bar-type place and I had to go and get some her some food. I got her three bread rolls and I can’t remember what I got with them now but it was something like jam or tomato sauce but it was stuff that you would never ever eat with bread – puree or something I have no idea, that kind of thing but I took it back to her and she said “great, thank you”. There was nowhere for me to sit so I had to go and scrounge a seat. The table we were at was already crowded so I had to scrounge a seat and sit somewhere nearby her. I was thinking that I should have sat down and got her to sit on my knee and that would have been much more fun but somehow it didn’t quite work out like this. Again it was another one of these dreams that I’ve been having quite recently where “I had the bird right on my plate and when was I going to get my fork stuck in it” type of dreams.
And if you don’t know what I mean by that, it’s probably because the dreams that I was having back in August and September haven’t yet made it onto the blog.

For some reason this morning I wasn’t hungry so I did without breakfast and settled for coffee instead. Then I sat down and had a blitz through the music. I finished the first pass through of the LPs and by the time you read this I’ll have made inroads into the cassette tapes.

The good thing about this is that I’m finding long-forgotten stuff that I never realised that I had. It’s like an Aladdin’s cave in here. And with music going on all throughout the day i’m feeling in a much better mood.

And that’s important too because the events of the last few days have made me realise that if something is meant to be, it will be. No matter how long you have to wait, it will all come right in the end.

I’m thinking specifically of an event that was spread out over a couple of days 14 months ago and which reached its climax one day in September. And how, all of a sudden with no effort from me and no input from anyone, it all fell quite by accident into my lap.

This can only be encouraging news for Castor. Just ride out the storm and it it’s meant to be, it will be.

sushine over the baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy franceNo bread in the house again so a walk down into town for a dejeunette.

The first thing that caught my eye was the sunlight piercing through the gloom. We’ve seen over a few days the strange effect that the sunlight i having, shining through the tiny gaps in the clouds and illuminating objects as a stage spotlight would (unless it’s at the Archipel Theatre where the stage lighting manager couldn’t even light a match).

Today there was a brilliant glow of light right on the centre of the Baie de Mont St Michel and it all looked extremely eerie.

The tide was out and so I took the long route down past the fish processing plant and across the walkway on the harbour gates and round the back of the dock.

Not a soul about. It was all really quiet in tow today.

vegan food advertised la mie caline granville manche normandy franceDown at the boulangerie I bought my dejeunette and as I was leaving, my attention was drawn to this advert.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I’m a vegan and that France is about 100 years behind the times when it comes to vegan food.

But it seems to be slowly catching uo. The boulangerie does snacks of various kinds, and here it is proudly announcing a “100% vegan” option. So hats off to La Mie Caline

Back at the apartment I carried on with editing the photos and I finished that job, even though it took me an age. My heart wasn’t in it today, but I’m not too bothered because it is Sunday after all

yacht english channel granville manche normandy franceAs usual, I broke off for my afternoon walk. It was windy and raining but nevertheless I stuck it out.

There were other people out there braving the weather besides me too. This intrepid yachtsman was out there doing his bit in the English Channel, having a great time by the looks of things.

And I spent quite some time admiting his wind turbine too. Ohh happy days, hey?

waves sea wall plat gousset granville manche normandy franceFurther on around the walls I stopped to see what was happening down on the promenade above the sea wall at the Plat Gousset.

Quite a few people out there enjoying the air despite the miserable weather and watching the sea as the tide was coming in.

A nice heavy rolling sea heading in to shore with the waves crashing up against the sea wall.

waves sea wall seagull granville manche normandy franceThere was a better view from a little further round. And I imagine that it would be even better when the tide was further in. But I wasn’t going to hang around that long.

Instead, I turned for home and as there was only a couple of people further on down the path, I took the opportunity for a discreet run of a couple of hundred meters.

Before leaving the scene however, I took a photo of it, only to find that I had been photo-bombed once again by a blasted seagull

When I returned home, I treated myself to coffee and a slice of Liz’s gorgeous cake that she had brought me

Tea tonight was a delicious vegan pizza and then I headed out again – into the howling gale that’s raging outside.

Nothing at all of anything going on whatsoever so I didn’t photograph anything. And I had a really good run too and even managed to breast the rise at the end – but came to a dead stop when I was hit by a vicious headwind.

So that’s it for today. Back to work tomorrow so I’m hoping for an early night if I can.

But back here I suddenly seem to have developed a raging thirst. And that can only mean one thing. And that is that I’m heading for another relapse.

Ohhh God!

Friday 18th October 2019 – I REALLY DON’T UNDERSTAND …

… this illness at all. I really don’t!

It has been no less than 16 weeks since my last medical check and treatment. In other words, I have missed four of the urgent treatments that I must have every four weeks to stay alive.

And so, dear reader, you would have expected me to crash in through the hospital doors like the Wreck of the Hesperus on “the reef of Norman’s Woe”.

Consequently you will be somewhat surprised, if not alarmed, to learn that my blood count this time after all of this absence has actually RISEN from 8.4 to 8.9

So just WHAT it going on?

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I expressed surprise at the dramatic collapse in blood count between the examinations in May and June, and also to the fact that when I had my blood count examined at the laboratory at Granville it gave a totally different reading to the one at the hospital.

And so, dear reader, we face three possibilities here –
1) I’m cured (presumably praying to Mecca the other day had the desired result).
2) The high emotion and turmoil through which I went and which I noted towards the end of my trip on The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour at the back end of August produced enough natural adrenaline to stimulate the red blood cells all on its own without artificial aids
3) The laboratory at the hospital is hopelessly inaccurate.

Either way, it seems that a sea voyage to the High Arctic in the company of a large group of miserable, depressing people intent on spoiling everyone else’s fun and to whom I could vent my spleen (which I can’t because I no longer have one) at the top of my voice in real anger and actually mean what I say sounds like a good plan to me.

Furthermore I seem to have lost 8 kgs in weight over the four months, and I mused that if I keep that up at the current rate, then by Christmas 2022 I will have gone completely.

But the biggest surprise is yet to come.

Clearly I’m better than I ought to be at this particular point so firstly, they changed my medication. And if my Orcadian medical adviser is reading these note he can tell me all about a medication called Privigen, because that’s what I’m taking.

Secondly, they asked me loads of questions about the voyage and the state of my health while I was away, questions that I have never been asked before.

Thirdly, they brought a specialist in to see me “for a chat”

Fourthly, Kaatje, my Social Worker who is really a psychiatrist assigned to me as part of the terminal illness programme under which I’m registered, came to see me for a chat and she was asking me a pile of probing questions too, about life on board ship and the voyage in general. I told her about the nightmare that I had when I was on board ship and about the emotional roller-coaster that marked my life over that five-week period from towards the end of August to the beginning of October (after all she has to earn her money) when I was in a pit of deep depression and anger after the first nightmare and the even more wild one a week or two later, and she was busy making notes. But she left without getting to whatever point she might have wanted to see me about, had there been a point to her visit, and that set a couple of bells going off in my head.

Fifthly, I was summoned for an x-ray and an echograph of my torso, and that alarmed me too. And I’m no doctor or x-ray tech, but I do know enough about echograph images to know that I didn’t like what I saw on the screen, and I had noticed that he had taken his time and made several passes over a certain part of my torso just underneath the ribcage.

Sixthly, when I went to the reception area to enquire about my next appointment, which they always hand out regularly, they replied “we’ll send a letter to you”.

So I smell something fishy – and I’m not talking about the contents of Baldrick’s Apple Crumble either.

Another surprising thing, not relating to the hospital, or maybe it is, is that contrary to all expectations, I had an absolutely dreadful night. After two more-or-less sleepless nights and a long day yesterday, I was expecting to sleep for a week but in fact it took me ages to go off to sleep and once I did, I was wide-awake by 03:00.

No chance of going back to sleep either – I was up and working on the computer by 04:30.

At 06:00 when the alarms went off I had a shower and washed the clothes that were outstanding, and then set off for the railway station. The Carrefour was open so I grabbed some raisin buns and launched myself aboard the train for Welkenraedt that had just pulled into the station.

At Leuven I heaved myself out of the train and headed off across the city to the hospital. On the way, there were thousands of scouts and girl guides all over the place and they seemed to be having a disco in the town square outside the Town Hall.

At 08:30 in the morning?

There’s a new check-in procedure at Castle Anthrax. Apparently you have to swipe the screen with your identity card. That;s fine, except that being a foreigner I don’t have an identity card. I have to muscle my way into the queue somehow so all of this is going to end in tears sooner or later.

Eventually I was registered and sent to a chair downstairs for my treatment. A few little dozes throughout the day, but nothing violent.

When it was all done (and this new medication is quicker than the previous one) I could leave and pick up my medication for home. And this world is getting far too small for my liking, as I have said on occasions too numerous to mention. The pharmacist looked at me and asked “you’re the guy who went to the North on that ship, aren’t you?”
“Blimmin’ ‘eck”, as the much-maligned Percy Penguin would have said.

There was plenty of time for me to go for a wander, and then I met up with Alison. We went for a coffee, a vegan burger at the Green Way and then another coffee at Kloosters.

She told me about all of her health problems and I told her all about my voyage on The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour, all about the miserable bunch of passengers with whom I’d been stranded, all about the petty jealousies and squabbles, the spitefulness and selfishness, the mad stampede at the induction meeting where the first in the queue wiped out the buffet for the latecomers and left an indelible stain on my memory before the voyage even started, and the turbulent events that took place on the final couple of days of that miserable voyage.

Strange as it is to say it, I did actually enjoy the trip regardless because we got to some of the places (not to all of them by any means!) that I had always wanted to see, even if the others wanted to see them for different reasons.

The mean-spiritedness of the other passengers didn’t bother me either. I worked in the tourism industry for years and I’ve seen it all before and I had some kind of vicarious pleasure watching to see just the depths into which the behaviour of some of the passengers could descend. Even when some of the vitriol was directed at me, and even more so at Strawberry Moose I found it quite amusing to see the lack of self-restraint and goodwill amongst the passengers.

Even when I mentioned on a couple of occasions to a couple of the organisers that everyone seemed to be going stir-crazy, nothing was done to break up the tension and by the final day, the organisers were as stir-crazy and irritable as the worst of the passengers and one or two of them completely lost all sense of reality by the end.

Many of the early explorers refer to “cabin fever” – where they have to spend several months of winter in confined and cramped quarters in the company of others whom they started off liking by by the time of the thaw they were poised on the brink of murdering each other. It was just like that on board the ship.

Rather reluctantly, I came to the conclusion that the voyage last year when I made so many friends and had so many memorable moments must have been the exception to the rule, and these trips this year are much more the norm.

My social media page contains many names from that trip in 2018, but on this set of voyages this year, then apart from Rosemary who is already on it, and a couple of other people who were not involved in any fracas and who are well-known to themselves, then there isn’t a single person from any part of that voyage who merits a single moment of my time.

Anyone who wants to comment on any of the foregoing, please feel free to use the “comments” facility here. The link is active for a week or so, so if you miss it, add your comments to a later active posting.

I don’t expect you to agree with me, but I do expect you to be polite.

So abandoning another good rant for the moment, I made it back to my hotel by train and here I am, rather late but ready for bed. I have an early start on Sunday so I’m having a lie-in tomorrow with no alarms. That will almost inevitably mean that I’ll be wide-awake at about 04:30.

Monday 2nd September 2019 – PHEW!!!

Made it! And I shan’t trouble you with the old joke about the gents’ public lavatory either.

A very eventful 17 or 18 days but we saved the most eventful of the events for this lunchtime.

Right now though, having just arrived in Calgary, I’m off to bed. For one reason about which I will explain anon when I’m in better shape to catch up with things, I’ll tell you all about it.

In the meantime I’m going to pick up from here and deal with the arrears “as and when”.

I’ve had an exciting time, but excitement in all directions too.

And if anyone asks me if the negative issues worth the pain, the answer is that they most certainly were because despite their ultimate negativity, the events leading thereupto were events that I would not have missed for the world. I had the time of my life (time that I never had as a kid) in pleasant, interesting and exciting company and in the morning I shall remember the words of Kris Kristofferson, who wrote
“I’ll give all my tomorrows for a single yesterday”.

Even if it has made me about as welcome as a rattlesnake in a lucky dip on any future Adventure Canada sailings.

Wednesday 28th August 2019 – WE HAD A …

… medical emergency today.

Not me, I hasten to add, but when they announced “Eric” a lot of people almost cheered until they realised that it was “the other one”.

With not finishing our concert until 00:25 or so, and having to write up my blog afterwards, I felt like death this morning. But I hauled myself out of my stinking pit before the third alarm and was up on deck taking photos – not that there was much to take because the weather was totally and miserably awful.

While we were at breakfast someone spotted a pod of beluga swimming around in Flexure Bay, so we went up on deck. And despite the rain, we stayed there for an hour or so taking photos. I counted in one of my photos about 100, which would seem to indicate a pod of about 300 and that is phenomenal. I only wish that my photos would do them justice.

Nevertheless, despite the rainstorm that was going on, we decided to launch the zodiacs and go for a cruise around. We need to keep our distance from them of course but we can go closer in a zodiac than a ship.

So we were about half of us in the water when we were called back to The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour. A passenger, taken ill during the night, needed uegent medical attention and the nearest attention was 9 hours sailing away, all the way back up Peel Sound to Resolute.

We were overflown by a 4-engined aeroplane which was checking our condition and the ice in the vicinity, and then eventually after we had travelled almost all of the route a coastguard vessel came to meet us. Twice, in fact, for after they had disembarked the patient they realised that he had left his passport behind.

Once that was accomplished we set sail again, up Peel Sound and all the way back the way we had come.

During the day we had been entertained. Lots or workshops organised and I went to the one on naval charts and the one on the Inuktitut language, but for some reason that I can’t explain (well, actually I can but it’s a long story and regular readers of this rubbish will recall it anyway) my heart isn’t in it at all.

Tea was with LIndi, Danielle and Ashley, the three most beautiful and charming girls on board and wasn’t I the lucky one?

And then I went back upstairs to watch the sunset (which was beautiful), to photograph a rainbow, and to learn to play “Gloria’s Eyes” on the ukelele – and much to my surprise it woks quite well.

But it can’t make up for the disappointment of not being able to sail down Prince Regent Inlet and Bellot Strait. I’m dismayed about that.

But still …

A little walk around the deck now before an early bed. It’s a very early start tomorrow as we are meeting an icebreaker.


… tell you all a little story. And it’s really down to the insistence of one of the regular readers of this rubbish.

It’s something that I wrote to myself late one night about a week or so before my final voyage across the Atlantic Ocean came to an end.

Wind the clock back to 1969/70 when I was studying Latin … “well, puer amat mensam” – ed … at Grammar School and having to translate – either from the English to the Latin or vice versa (and if there’s any vice involved, you can bet your life that I’m in there somewhere!) – a Roman myth or legend.

For reasons that I no longer remember, I chose the story of Castor and Pollux, and I can recall the story quite clearly even to this day.

Leaving aside all other kinds of myths and legends concerning Castor and Pollux that people might think are quite apposite, and other names by which they might have been known, which may be even more apposite to some, I’m referring to the fact that one of them (Castor) was a mortal being and his twin Pollux was the creation of the Gods, fathered by Zeus who having disguised himself as a swan, came down to earth and seduced Leda, wife of Tyndareus King of the Spartans and who were the mortal parents of Castor.

Therefore Castor and Pollux were in fact half-brothers.

Cutting a long story short … “for which we are all grateful” – ed … and missing out quite a few very relevant thoughts, including the phenomenon of St Elmo’s Fire (canwyll yr ysbryd or “candles of the spirit” as it is known in Welsh) and which has more of a bearing on this story than anyone might imagine, Castor the mortal died, and Pollux, the immortal, was heart-broken.

Pollux pleaded with the Gods and eventually Zeus changed things around so that half of the immortality of Pollux was given to Castor.

This meant that they took it in turns to be immortal, so that whoever was the mortal on any particular day was in Hades and whoever was immortal on that day was on Mount Olympus, and they changed over on a regular basis.

To whichever bank of the River Styx Charon the boatman had taken you, whether to Hades or Mount Olympus, you would only ever see the one and not the other until they alternated. For the casual observer, whether you were in Hell or in the Paradise of the Gods, it was really exactly the same situation and the same circumstance as in the other place but on different days depending upon who was the immortal God and who was the mortal being on that particular day.

A schizophrenic’s delight or dilemma, you might say. And I should know all about that of course.

So there are things going on right now that I don’t quite understand. And maybe I ought to understand them, I dunno. But right now I have a couple of quotes going round in my head, and seeing as we are on board a ship in difficult seas a nautical metaphor is appropriate. It’s an exchange between Peter Ustinov and Mia Farrow in Agatha Christie’s “Death On The Nile”
Ustinov – “You are embarking on a hazardous journey in troubled waters. You face who knows what currents of misfortune”.
Farrow – “One must follow one’s star wherever it leads, even unto hell itself”.
Such is the price of loneliness, boredom, inaction and, most importantly, curiosity.

I hope that you enjoyed that little story.