Tag Archives: airbus 330

Friday 2nd September 2022 – I’VE JUST HAD …

yellow powered hang glider baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022… one of the most delicious meals that I’ve had for quite a while.

So while you admire a couple of photos of the little yellow powered hang glider that caught me unawares not once but twice this afternoon, I’ll tell you all about it.

And what I can say is that it was a pretty good move to buy those four tins of baked beans in St Helier the other day, and the vegan sausage that I bought were way beyond excellent, all washed down with chips and the malt vinegar that I’ve had here for a while

It’s been years since I’ve had real baked beans. The European ones are quite insipid and even the “English-recipe” ones that I buy in North America are nothing like these.

And the “proper” American ones are awful – packed so full of sugar that they are disgusting. So the cheap Morrisons ones went down a treat.-

yellow powered hang glider baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022last night wasn’t quite so much of a treat though.

For some reason that I have yet to understand, the computer fired itself up at 03:20 and it goes without saying that that awoke me bolt up right. A while later I had a bad attack of cramp, the first time for years since I’ve been taking these magnesium tablets,

And not only that. There was a problem with the elastic knee support that cut into my leg and the elastic ankle support that cut into my big toe that awoke me each time and in the end I took them both off.

Add to that the fact that I was off on my travels during the night and you can understand why it wasn’t a treat going to bed.

Waking up was even worse and I struggled to take to my feet. I beat the second alarm but not very much.

After the medication I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. No Zero unfortunately, and neither was there any TOTGA or Castor. We’d opened some kind of specialty shop somewhere or other and it had gradually evolved into a whole range of things like a corner shop, café, restaurant etc. There was a great wish to try to keep it ethical but one of the partners ended up having an affair with someone on the quiet. Things were not going right at all. Someone buttonholed the female partner of the business and started to talk about ethics. The complaint of course was that he preached ethics but didn’t practise them because of this, this and this. This set the woman thinking. The next thing we knew was that a couple of people left to go travelling. She’s there in her little house that she built herself at the side of the bus station instead of the company premises that were there. Someone from the company asked “do you have enough small change for 2 tills?”. She replied “yes”. 2 women came over and shook hands and thanked her for giving them the opportunity to take over and run this ethical business. She was walking away from it after her principles had been betrayed.

There were 2 people who were supposed to be busking in the street. One was a girl hitting a piece of scaffolding pipe with a scaffolding joint. The second one was a guy and I’m sure that he had a guitar but I couldn’t see it. They were arguing about things that were going wrong and not performing. I stood there watching them for a couple of minutes until my partner dragged me away. She asked what i was doing. I replied “those 2 look interesting from a music point of view”. I wanted to go to give them my card but she put her foot down about people behaving like that being friends of ours. I had to convince her that the world was full of personal and petty disputes etc. That’s nothing to what I’ve seen in the past. She wasn’t really interested but I still had this strong temptation to back and make myself known to them and see what could be developed between the 3 of us at least.

Later on I was with someone and going through this list of songs that I had that were on my playlist for some reason or other, checking which ones they were and why they were there. We only had three organised before I had this dramatic pain in my big toe that I mentioned earlier so I don’t know what that was going to do. That was a shame because it sounded as if it might have been exciting.

zodiac baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022And while a zodiac goes past out in the bay, I was on a bus or a plane even going somewhere. It was the time when my radio programme was being broadcast. There were 2 guys sitting in front whom I could hear talking. They were talking about a previous broadcast so I couldn’t be sure which one was being broadcast so I had a listen. I could identify it from about 3 seconds of music and thought “this is the correct one being broadcast today”. I put the headphones back and started to ferret around in my briefcase for the green file in which I keep all the information. The girl next to me was rather irritated and asked “you aren’t searching for something else are you?”. I replied “yes but I promise you that this is the last thing”. She said “we can swap places if you like”. I replied “no, I’m quite comfortable where I am. It will be the very last thing I promise you that I’ll be looking for”. Then I was looking through the papers and found that the paper that I wanted wasn’t in the file. Just then the alarm went off.

The rest of the day was spent mainly going through the photos from Jersey. Not that I’ve done very many at all because much of the time was spent researching what it was that I’d photographed. And even though there’s a long, long way to go, I’ve been able to identify many of the features that show up so clearly when I see them from here, and that was the aim of the trip in the first place.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022Regardless of how I’m feeling, I still went outside this afternoon.

And as usual I staggered across the car park to see what was going on down on the beach. And there seemed to be plenty of all of that too with quite a few people down there enjoying themselves today.

They certainly had better weather for it too. The sun was out, there wasn’t very much wind and with everyone else now back at work or at school, there aren’t the crowds of heaving msses with which everyone has to contend.

shtandart baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022What also caught my eye quite early on too were the sails that I could see in the distance.

It’s not Marité of course but the Russian sailing ship Shtandart that came in here for the Festival of Working Sailing Ships. and I don’t know why she’s still here either because the Festival has now finished of course.

Here’s hoping that she’s not going to be moving in here permanently. As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I’m not actually overwhelmed to see her in here. But then it’s not my decision.

buses place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022There seems to be something rather bizarre happening with the buses.

The bus that we saw parked in a strange position yesterday was there again this afternoon. But it’s not the service bus on a layover because as I watched, the service bus pulled in at the usual bus stop, discharged some, picked up others and then cleared off again on its route.

And when I came back from my little crawl around later, she was still there too so there’s something strange happening here with the local buses.

That’s something else that I’ll need to check. It it’s here tomorrow I shall go and engage the driver in conversation

unidentified light aeroplane baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022Right now though there was an aeroplane flying by overhead.

Regrettably I couldn’t quite read its registration number so I’ve no idea who it might be. But it begins with “OO” and that’s a series of numbers assigned to Belgium so it’s strange to see it out here.

She wasn’t picked up on the civilian radar either.

Now that I have access to the records of a few more airfields I could cast my net further around but there’s no aeroplane of any similar registration anywhere and so that would seem to be that.

delta airlines Airbus A330-223 N857NW baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022No such problems with this aeroplane though. I didn’t need much help with this one.

She’s N857NW, an Airbus A330-223 owned by Delta Airlines and took off two and a half hours late at 15:59 from Paris Charles de Gaulle on flight DL 265 to JFK Airport, New York.

The delay incidentally was caused by the late arrival of the outbound flight DL264, although why a 40-minute delay in arriving should put it back by that much is rather strange. But at least it had a nice clear sky in which to fly back.

port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022The way that I’m feeling right now, I’m not going aroind the headland.

Cliniging on to a series of stone walls in case I might fall, I made my way slowly to the viewpoint overlooking the port. And at least we can confirm that Marité isn’t out at sea hidden in the haze. She’s moored up in her usual place at the end of the inner harbour.

Also in there this afternoon are la Grande Ancre ,Chausiaise and Victor Hugo. Obviously the trip out to St Helier with me on Wednesday was far too much for the latter ship.

Plenty of trawlers in there this afternoon too. They must be having a day off today.

le soupape pescadore peccavi trafalgar chant des sirenes ch639133 le poulbot charlevy chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022In the meantime I noticed that there’s a change in occupancy at the chantier naval so I gingerly inched my way in that direction.

All of the usual suspects, le soupape , trafalgar , peccavi , trafalgar , chant des sirenes and charlevy are still in there but there’s another boat come to join them.

Her name isn’t visible from here but I can see her registration number. It’s CH639133 and that tells me that she’s Le Poulbot.

Although her registration number is quite old, built in 1986, we haven’t seen her before. Apparently she seems to spend much of her time in Fécamp.

le roc a la mauve 3 joly france belle france ferry terminal port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022With Victor Hugo and Chausiaise being in the inner harbour I had a quick look over to see who was at the ferry terminal.

All that I could see was the new Belle France and one of the Joly France ferries. Judging by the windows in “portrait” format, it’s the newer one of the two.

In the foreground in Le Roc à La Mauve III and we know all about her because we saw her in the chantier naval for quite a long time.

Back here I had a coffee, finished off what I was doing and then went for tea. My delicious meal of vegan sausage, chips and beans. And I’ll have plenty more of that in due course. I have set plans afoot.

Later on, there was football in the Welsh Premier League – Caernarfon Twon v Airbus UK Broughton. Promoted for this season, Airbus are pretty much up against it already. Yet to take a point after four matches.

And today they didn’t help themselves very much, going down 3-1 in a score that very much flattered Caernarfon. But then experience will always tell.

It wasn’t as if Airbus played badly either.

Their goal really summed up their misfortune. Caernarfon had a bucket-load of corners but as usual these days, the delivery towards the goal was pretty dismal. Airbus won just two or three but the deliveries were peaches and one of them was a free header that led to their goal.

The margin between winning and losing is wafer-thin. We had two identical situations with one-on-ones in front of goal. Josh Tibbetts saved the one on the Caernarfon goal but Mike Jones didn’t.

And then when Caernarfon were awarded a penalty Mike Jones managed to stop it. But he couldn’t cling on and with 20 players to whom the ball could have rolled, it of course had to roll to an unmarked Cofi

Yes, when your luck is out, it’s well and truly out.

Bedtime now, very late, and shopping tomorrow. I’m not looking forward to that either. To be frank, I’m rather nervous about going out in case I have another fall. I know exactly now how a tortoise feels when it ends up upside-down. And it’s not very pleasant.

Monday 10th October 2016 – SO HERE I AM …

air transat airbus A330 C-GKTS paris charles de gaulle airport france october octobre 2016… or, rather, here’s my aeroplane. On the hard-standing at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport. Miles from the terminal of course because I imagine that Air Transat can’t afford the terminal fees.

Not that I’m too bothered of course. I have to pay my own air fare and anything that whittles the price down is fine by me. Remember that my return flight to Canada had cost me less that 40% of the fare of a blue-chip flagship carrier and you can’t say fairer than that.

Our plane was an Airbus 330, registration number C-GKTS. And although she may not look it, she is over 20 years old. Built in 1995 for Dragonair, an airline in Hong Kong, she was bought by Air Transat in 1999. Her build number is 111

I’d had a bad night on the aeroplane. Despite being reasonably comfortable, I couldn’t drop off to sleep and so ended up reading my book for a major part of the flight. The in-flight entertainment was total rubbish. It was dreadful on the way out, and there was exactly the same selection on the way back.

The food too was rubbish, but then I’d expected that. I had my bag of hot cross buns to keep me going.

There were only two immigration officers on duty at the Terminal when we arrived but luckily I was one of the first off the bus, so I didn’t have to wait too long. Mind you, it was a different story for the baggage. It took ages to arrive and mine was one of the last onto the conveyor.

From Terminal 3 I had to go off on my merry, mazy way to the interairport tram that would take me to Terminal 2 and my TGV to Brussels. And here I had some good luck. My flight had been bang on time, which was totally unexpected. So unexpected that when I was making my travel arrangements 6 weeks ago I had booked myself on the 16:07 train to Brussels in order to give myself room to manoeuvre in case we were delayed.

tgv airport paris charles de gaulle france october octobre 2016But there was an earlier train to Brussels, leaving at 13:07, and it was now about 12:20. Down at the SNCF offices I managed to blag my way onto this one (I had to pay a supplement of €13:00 but who cares?). That was an unexpected stroke of good fortune that doesn’t happen to me very often.

The train was bang on time, which is what you might expect in France, and I found myself sharing a table with a guy from Lille and his 4 year old daughter. We all had a good chat as far as Lille, and then I was on my own all the way to Bruxelles-Midi.

local train bruxelles midi station leuven belgium october octobre 2016There was even more good news at Bruxelles-Midi. There was an inter-city train leaving for Welkenraedt in less than 10 minutes. They stop at the main Brussels stations and then express to Leuven, and that suits me fine.

There was plenty of room on the train so I could spread myself out, and I was quite comfortable on my trip to Leuven.

At the station, I took the lift up to the footbridge and that is on the same level as the entrance to my hotel. That’s much easier than having to struggle up several flights of stairs with my luggage.

The IBIS Budget Hotel is quite new. The rooms are tiny but it’s clean and friendly and just €59:00 a night, which isn’t too bad for a city centre hotel. It’s right next door to the station and the bus station, there’s a fritkot across the road and a supermarket down in the basement underneath. What more could any man desire?

First thing that I did when I arrived was to have a nice hot shower. As for the second thing that I did – well, I don’t remember. I crashed out completely. Totally out of it.

I was awake enough in the evening to go across the road to the fritkot. He did me a nice veggie-burger and chips and that filled a hole. The first hot food that I had had for several days by the way.

That was that, really. I’d had a hectic few days with little sleep and I wasn’t feeling too well either. The bed looked quite comfortable and so that was that. I was well away.

Sunday 9th October 2016 – AND SO THIS IS IT!

My last day in Canada on this trip. And for all I know, my last day ever in Canada. The way my health is going, I shall be hard-pushed to make it back.

But just for a change just recently, I had a good night’s sleep! In bed reasonably early, and out like a light. One trip down the corridor but apart from that it was totally painless until the alarm went off at 06:00. Didn’t feel a thing! My efforts of the last few days have worn me out as you know, and so a good sleep was an essential.

I was rather late for breakfast though and there was quite a crowd. But coffee, orange juice and bagels soon had me up and about.

It was a nicer day today too – some blue sky was out there for a change. With it being my last day, and with my flight not leaving until 22:00 I decided to take advantage of the weather to out and about, to say goodbye to the St Lawrence River. Accordingly, I had a little doze for a while, stuck my suitcase in the “left luggage” and then hit the road at 11:00, just in time to leap on board the bus 202 that was going past.

metro station cote vertu montreal quebec canada october octobre 2016At the Ducollege Metro Station, I made a decision. I’ve been going one at a time to the different Metro Stations at the end of each line to see what was going on, but I’ve never actually been to the end of the line down from past DuCollege.

That Metro Station is the Cote-Vertu and so I headed off there. And this is a photo of the interior of the station, just to prove that I made it here. And you can even see a train down there at the bottom.

metro station cote vertu montreal quebec canada october octobre 2016Here’s a photo of the exterior too. It’s situated on the corner of the Boulevard de la Cote Vertu and the Boulevard Decarie. The building is the one over there at mid-height on the left margin of the image.

And really, I should have come here ages and ages ago. It semms to be occupied by the Indian community and there’s a couple of very democratic Indian restaurants there, as well as a pizzeria and a falafel place too. I can quite easily find a place to eat here.

There are lots of other shops too, including a wholesale fruit and veg place that sold me a pound of delicious grapes at just $0:99.

Yes, I missed out here at the Cote Vertu.

eglise st laurent cote vertu montreal quebec canada october octobre 2016Down one of the streets off the Boulevard Decarie I noticed a church, and so I went off down there to look at it.

It’s actually the Church of St Laurent, which shouldn’t be too much of a surprise seeing as we are actually in the Borough of St Laurent. The church was built in the 1830s, although the facade was not added unti 50 years later.

It’s not the first church on the site. There was one dating from the 1730s and which was significant in being the first church on the island to be built outside the traditional city limits.

vanier college montreal quebec canada october octobre 2016The buildings next door to it were even more impressive than the church. This is the Vanier College and is significant in that it’s one of the very few English-language colleges in Quebec, having opened its doors in 1970.

As for the name, that relates to Georges-Phinéas Vanier, who was one of the very few Canadian-born Governor-Generals, and served from 1959 until 1967, much to the chagrin of the Quebecois extremists.

vanier college montreal quebec canada october octobre 2016Prior to the college being here, this was the site of the Couvent Notre-Dame-des-Anges – the Convent of Our Lady of the Angels, run by the Soeurs de Sainte-Croix – the Sisters of the Holy Cross – from whom the land was bought.

There was also a women’s college, the Collège Basile-Moreau, on the site. He was, by the way, the founder of the Order of the Holy Cross.

On the way back to the Boulevard Decarie, I stumbled upon a Charity Shop that was actually open. And here I had an enormous stroke of luck.

I’ve written loads of stuff about abandoned railways and the like, mostly from analysis because there seems to be nothing at all in the way of historical research into Canadian railways. It’s not like the UK, where every inch of old railway is faithfully reported and its history thoroughly researched.

But here sitting on the shelves of the Charity Shop was a book entitled Canadian National Railways – Towards the Invitable Volume 2 1896-1922. It’s long out of print but it covers almost all of the lines in which I have an interest, including the ephemeral railway line to Centreville about which I’ve been barking completely up the wrong tree.

And $3:50? You must be joking!

ducollege metro station montreal quebec canada october octobre 2016My perambulations brought me all of a sudden to the DuCollege Metro Station. I realised that despite all of the trips that I have made from here, I’ve never actually taken a photo of the exterior of the building.

This is the time to put this right, even though it’s the other entrance that I habitually use. And while I was taking this photo from the park across the road, I was being smiled at by a couple of these religious people with their portable news stand handing out the literature.

I’d never actually looked down the end of the side-street in daylight either, and I’d been wondering why the street was called “DuCollege”. And I dealt with both of those issues while I was here.

CEGEP St Laurent montreal quebec canada october octobre 2016There was this beautiful stone building right down the end of the street so I strolled off down there to inspect it. It’s the CEGEP ST Laurent. The Collège d’Enseignement Général et Professionnel is, I suppose, one level below the University system in the same sense that the old Polytechnics were in the UK – that kind of thing

Although some of the education services here date back almost 175 years, the college came into being in 1967 when the CEGEP system was founded. It goes without saying that it is French-speaking.

church avenue ste croix montreal quebec canada october octobre 2016As for the church next to the CEGEP St Laurent, well, shame as it is to say it, there I was busy taking a photograph of it – after all, it really is beautiful – and then off I wandered back down the street towards the DuCollege Metro Station having forgotten to make a note of its name.

Anyway, it’s actually situated in the Avenue Sainte Croix, although I do realise that this piece of information isn’t going to help anyone very much.

Back at the Metro station, I hopped on board a train and headed into town. Just as far as the Victoria-OACI station, and then walked up the hill towards the Place d’Armes.

amphi tours place d'armes montreal quebec canada october octobre 2016As I walked into the Place d’Armes through the crowds, this interesting vehicle pulled up across the square so that the passengers on board could look at the Cathedral and the statue of Paul Cholmedy, the Sieur de Maisonneuve.

It seems to be another one of these amphibious vehicles of the same type that we saw years ago in Halifax and probably does the same job. I can imagine that there’s some kind of factory somewhere in Canada churning out these machines for the tourism industry.

There’s a “Subway” further on down the street and that’s where I was heading. I’ve been wandering around for quite some time and it’s way past lunchtime. My stomach thinks that my throat has been cut.

Down at the docks, we’re in luck. Last day of our journey and we are able to conjure up a “Ship of the Day”.

venture self discharging bulk carrier montreal quebec canada october octobre 2016She’s the Venture, a self-discharging bulk carrier of 30,000 tonnes and built in 2002. She arrived here after some considerable perambulation in the Mediterranean.

The flag that she is flying, and which I didn’t recognise at first, is the flag of the Marshall Islands, a group of islands (one of which is the legendary “Bikini Atoll” of nuclear-testing fame) in the Pacific and said by the United States Atomic Energy Commission to be “by far the most contaminated place in the world”.

Another claim to fame of the islands is that it probably has more ships than it has inhabitants – a fact probably not unconnected with the islands’ rate of corporation tax of just 3%.

tugboat st lawrence river montreal quebec canada october octobre 2016By now the clouds were starting to close in from the south, but the rain was holding off and so I went for a walk along one of the quays.

There must be something up somewhere concerning maritime traffic on the St Lawrence because there was this tug steaming … "dieseling" – ed … up the river. I hadn’t noticed any ship in the vicinity other than the Venture and she didn’t look as if she was preparing for sea, so I wondered where the tug might be going.

vieux port montreal quebec canada october octobre 2016Over there on the other side of the dock is the quay where we saw that goelette when I was here in early September. It’s not there now (the ground’s all flat, and beneath it lies the bloke …) though.

In the background over there is the Ile Sainte Hélène and the Biosphere, which was the pavilion of the United States during Expo ’67. It was originally covered by an acrylic sheath but it will come as no surprise to any regular reader of this rubbish to learn that this sheath was destroyed in a fire in May 1976.

autumn colours vieux port st lawrence river montreal quebec canada october octobre 2016From my spec on the dock I walked around the quay onto the waterfront. There were hordes of people here, all taking advantage of the afternoon and what sun was still loitering about.

But never mind the people for the moment. What was interesting me was the autumn colours on the trees here in the Vieux Port. They are magnificent. You can see why I love being here in Canada in the autumn – I wouldn’t be anywhere else.

clock tower st lawrence river pont jacques cartier montreal quebec canada october octobre 2016A little further on along, there was a good view down towards the east past the clock tower. This is a war memorial to the sailors of the Merchant Marine who were lost during World War I and was designed as a replica of Big Ben in London.

Further down is the Pont Jacques Cartier – the Jacques Cartier Bridge that spans the river between Montreal and Longueuil, with the modern port area further along behind.

commercial port st lawrence river montreal quebec canada october octobre 2016The weather was now deteriorating rapidly as you can tell from the clouds. Scattering a cloud of pigeons, I walked around the docks to the old commercial port.

We’ve talked about the goelettes – the ships that used to run the boat services from Montreal to all of the small towns and villages along the shores of the St Lawrence in the days before the road network.

This was the dock from which they sailed and to which they returned. And all around here back in those days was a kind of market where the people from along the shore who had brought their produce down in the goelettes would set up their stalls to sell their produce.

Feeling the strain again by now I repaired to the old Marché Bonaventure. This has now been restored and occupied by all of these trendy boutiques. But down at the far end is a café where there are some comfy chairs and, surprisingly, coffee on sale at a very democratic price.

A comfy sofa was free so I installed myself there, drank my coffee and read my new book for a while. When I find my strength again, I can move on.
television interview place victoria montreal quebec canada october octobre 2016About half an hour or so later I hit the road again, retracing my steps to the Place Victoria and the Metro Station.

Right outside, but across the road from the entrance, I stumbled across a television crew filming someone talking into the microphone about something or other. I’ve no idea who he was and I couldn’t hear what he was saying, but I took the opportunity to take a photo of him.

I always seem to find a camera crew when I’m on my travels in North America, don’t I?

The metro took me back to DuCollege and there I had to wait ages for the bus 202 to take me back to the Comfort Inn. We had the usual unavoidable performance of persuading the driver to drop me off by the bridge at the end of the Cote de Liesse where I could cross the motorway (otherwise I have to walk for miles and miles because there’s no official bus stop anywhere near there).

There was an airport shuttle already on the road so I grabbed my suitcase, nipped into the Gentlemen’s rest room, and then back outside for the shuttle and on the way to the airport.

In the shuttle were a couple of people and we ended up discussing the Brexit. Even though many Quebecois have been fighting tooth-and-nail for 50 years for independence, the unanimous opinion of my fellow-travellers was that the British vote for the Brexit was the most stupid thing that they have ever heard.

Quebec has an almost-inexhaustible supply of raw materials and an almost-inexhaustible supply of energy. The UK has no raw materials and all of its energy resources are owned by foreigners (even the new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point is to be operated by EDF of France).

It has nothing that anyone would ever want and nothing that would be any use in launching a manufacturing industry.

There was quite a queue at the baggage check-in and I had to wait for about half an hour to hand in my suitcase. And this time, they managed not to drop my passport into the conveyor belt.

The food on Air Transat is total rubbish as I have already told you, and there is a “Subway” downstairs. Consequently, I went off and ordered a 12-inch vegetarian without cheese. Just for once, I asked for the bread to be toasted, and I’m wishing now that I hadn’t, for reasons that I will explain in due course.

The final thing that needed to be done concerned my bus ticket. I had bought a three-day one, as you might remember, and there was over 28 hours remaining on it. I intended to give it to anyone who was about to buy one but although I was there for 10 minutes there was no-one approaching the ticket machine.

What I did therefore was to write on it “valable jusqu’a mardi minuit” – “doesn’t expire until Tuesday at midnight” and left it on the machine. Whoever might need it can just help themselves.

The queue through the security was quite small – about 10 minutes to go through. And much to my surprise, not only was it painless but the staff weren’t the usual arrogant unpleasant staff that you normally find at the airport at Montreal.

I hiked off down to the gate, which was right down at the end of the terminal, and installed myself on a seat where there was a power point (and that took some finding too). Feeling hungry, I attacked my Subway sandwich but half of the filling fell out. Having the bread toasted meant that it wasn’t as pliable and so I won’t be doing that again.

At 21:15 we were called onto the aeroplane. it was an Airbus 330, quite new by the looks of things, and I was lucky in having one of the twin seats near the rear.

Once we had all settled in, we hurtled down the runway and launched ourselves off into the air, heading back to Europe. My stay in Canada was over.

I was desolate – this may well have been my last trip across the Atlantic because I won’t ever be in any better health than I am right now. Who knows where I’ll be in 12 months time? “Pushing up the daisies” I mused to myself.

And here you are – 2658 words of my last day in North America. A world-record number of words.

I hope that you all appreciate it. Don’t forget to “like” it

Sunday 4th September 2016 – WELL, I NEVER THOUGHT THAT I’D EVER …

… get back here again, but here I am all the same.

And it was really no surprise where I was going, was it? Hands up if you REALLY didn’t guess.

And I’m glad that I’m here because it really was miserable this morning! And I’m not talking about me either. I had a reasonable night’s sleep for a change – just two trips down the corridor, and I ended up awake round about 06:45. But you would never have guessed what time it was – it looked as it if was 04:00 outside – totally dark, grey and miserable. How glad I am to be getting out of this.

No breakfast at the hotel either. It seems to have tightened up considerably on its efficiency from what I saw last night and I reckon that the breakfast cards that I still have from my time as a chauffeur all these years ago might be disallowed these days. But having anticipated this move, I did have some supplies with me – Strawberry Moose hadn’t eaten all of them – and so we had breakfast in my room. The complementary coffee plus the crackers, banana and satsumas out of my suitcase.

After breakfast I had a shower – and the door to the shower cubicle promptly fell off the runners – evidently the previous honeymmoning couple had been far too energetic in the bathroom – and there was no soap in the dispenser in the shower cubicle either. It was clearly not my night in the Comfort Inn, was it?

The shuttle back to the airport was fairly straightforward, although these days they only go to Terminal 2 and you need to take the internal tram-shuttle round to there. And then of course I had to enquire of the direction to the aeroplanes, never having been this way before.

We had all fun and games at the baggage check-in. First of all, my luggage weighed a mere 17.1 kilograms. I’m definitely losing my touch, aren’t I? And then the girl at the check-in dropped my passport into the conveyor. That brought Terminal Three to its knees for a good half an hour. Who needs machine guns and dynamite to paralyse a transport network when Strawberry Moose and Yours Truly are on the loose?

As for the security control, that was the most painless that I have ever encountered. Straight in, straight through and straight out without even a hint of inconvenience and aggression. Quite the reverse in fact – the couple of young people working there actually had a sense of humour and a laugh and joke with the passengers. Other airports and border crossings should take not of this. If every other passage through "Security" was as pleasant as this, every journey would be a pleasure instead of being so stressful.

I’ve complained bitterly about airport security in the past so it’s only correct to give credit when it deserves it;

The aeroplane was late, as you might expect, and we had to be bussed out across the hardstanding because it’s Air Transat again and they can’t afford the full terminal fees. And I know that I said that I would never ever fly Air Transat again but this year, what with my incredibly late booking, the cost of a flagship flight across the Atlantic was well into four figures. With Air Transat it was less than €500 and that’s the cheapest price that I’ve ever had across to Canada in modern times. It might be easier for a lion to swallow his pride than it is for me to do so, but I can do it whenever there’s some of the folding stuff involved.

But Air Transat is going downhill. There wasn’t even a hint of anything on the in-flight entertainment that I wanted to watch, even as a captive viewer. In fact under the heading "Classic Films" there were just three – and they dated from the turn of the century. Hardly what I would call "classic". I ended up listening to music on my phone instead.

The in-flight catering was absolute rubbish too. I’ve never ever eaten so badly on a long-haul flight in all my life. Just a hot wrap of grilled vegetables for lunch and a sort-of pizza slice for tea, and that’s your lot. Mind you, I had been warned about this by someone who actually works for Air Transat, and that was the reason for the extra baguette and butties that I made yesterday.

full length mirror in toilet air transat airbus A330 canada september septembre 2016You may remember – or long term readers of this rubbish my remember – the Air Transat flight from a few years ago with the full-length mirror in the gentleman’s rest-room. And so we had another one on this flight too – which is what looks to be a reasonably-modern Airbus A330 by the way.

There’s clearly a purpose for these mirrors, and I’m sure you come up with your own ideas. For me, all you need is a paintbrush and a pot of varnish and then I can gloss over all of my shortcomings.

And so we headed out well across the Atlantic, our arrival becoming later and later as the headwinds kept pushing us backwards.Our estimatedtimeof arrival, which should have been 13:14 had we taken off on time, became 14:15 aswe left, and ended up at 14:27

Now, reading the notes that I’ve been typing about Air Transat, you might be thinking that I’m pretty well-disillusioned about the airline. But nothing could be further from the truth. Had I had this level of service on a Swissair or Lufthansa flight at €1335, I would have been beyond furious. But just let me remind you that I’ve paid a little more than a third of the price to do the same trip with Air Transat (and that’s not strictly true as Lufthansa wanted me to go via Dusseldorf). Given the situation, I’ve had my money’s worth from Air Transat and I don’t want anyone to think otherwise.

At least it’s not as bad as the legendary Air Fungus flight that set off from Ballyhoo to Montreal – a flight of 2200 miles – and when the pilot discovered after 1800 miles in the air that he didn’t have enough fuel for the remaining 400 miles, he turned round and flew back towards Ballyhoo.

air transat airbus A330 montreal pierre l trudeau airport dorval canada september septembre 2016We eventually arrived, and at a real air terminal too, and I was able to take a photo of the aeroplane. It’s not very good, mainly because I was using the phone camera and I had the sun in my eyes, and you can’t see the serial number of the machine either. But it’s the best that was available.

The queue into Canada was nothing like as bad as last time – only about four perpendicular lines, and with 9 immigration staff on duty we were done and dusted inside half an hour. I took advantage of the pause by emptying my rucksack of all prohibited food items – Canada seems to be becoming more and more keen on this sort of thing. But I was clearly observed nibbling on a forbidden orange or somthing because I was quizzed for a few minutes about any food that might be in my possession and a red cross was put on my entry form.


Next stop was the bus ticket machine. I’m here for three days now, having messed up over this Labour Day thing. I was supposed to do all of my errands tomorrow and move on tomorrow night but it’s Labour Day and so everywhere will be closed down. I can’t do anything now until Tuesday and so I’ll need an extra night at the hotel for a start. A three-day ticket costs $18 and that even includes travel from the airport into the city as often as I would like, and if that’s not good value I don’t know what is.

And I shall have to stop talking to myself too. Someone loitering near the ticket machine came over to me. He said that he was glad to hear another English-speaker and could I sort out a ticket for him. Americans are so lost outside their normal environment and so I was glad to help him.

montreal pierre l trudeau airport dorval canada september septembre 2016And what goes around comes around too because they have changed all of the hotel shuttles too. The gate has moved to upstairs and you need now to phone up for yourbus – there are no longer any tourneés.This was going to be a problem, as I predicted, because my Canadian phone charger doesn’t work and the battery is flat, but a kind man at the information desk lent me his phone and that was quickly organised.

I didn’t have to wait very long either, and the man who picked me up was the same man who has picked me up a few times now so we had a very interesting chat about old times on the drive down here. It’s good to be amongst friends.

comfort inn cote de liesse dorval montreal canada september septembre 2016The hotel is only 5 minutes away from the airport and so I was here in no time flat. I booked my room for an extra night, so much for the best-laid plans of mice and men, andin a change to the advertised programme I’ve also booked a room for the night before I leave Canada.

Ordinarily I wouldn’t bother and I’d go straight through off the overnight bus onto the overnight plane, but I have to remember that I’m ill and while I might be okay right now, whatever am I going to be like in five weeks time? This is no time for playing fast and loose with my health.

Having done all of the necessary, I went up to my room, liberated Strawberry Moose from his confinement in the suitcase and had a nice relax for a couple of hours, something which involved a couple of cups of coffee.

montreal public transport service bus 202 metro ducollege canada september septembre 2016And then I hit the town. There’s a bus stop right outside the hotel here and having observed from my window the times of the buses that pass by, I didn’t have long to wait. The 202 bus goes past the hotel every half an hour at about 05 and 35, and there’s a bus stop right outside the building.

This is why you always buy your bus ticket at the airport. The hotels along the Côte de Liesse are quite handy for the public transport, but you need to have a ticket handy when you leap on board.

metro train montreal canada september septembre 2016The bus goes down to the DuCollege metro station and that’s about about 30 minutes drive away. Here, you can take the underground into the city centre, or anywhere else that takes your fancy.

Ordinarily I’d go down to the Snowdon metro station and chanhe trains for the Côte des Nieges because there’s my little falafel place and even an excellent Indian restaurant but tonight, as it was early, I had a change of plan. I did change trains but I went all the way to the Jean Talon station instead.

rue jean talon vegetable market montreal canada september septembre 2016Just down the road is the legendary wholesale vegetable market and it’s a stunning place, full of traders and people and the most astonishing vegetables. But everywhere was closing down by the time that I arrived and there were just the private citizens buying up the leftovers. But it’s still a really exciting place to be even at that time of the evening.

From here, I walked down towads the Parc Metro station – the old Canadian Pacific railway terminus that i’ve shown you before. A Metro supermarket came up with a big bottle of epinette, the spruce beer that I love (and I have a fridge in my hotel room too) and I could organise some vegan cheese because it’s Sunday – pizza night.

At the side of the underground station is a pizza place that has always been very good to me in the past. Here I ordered my pizza as well as a bottle of root beer (after all, we are in Canada now) and then I was ready for home. And I didn’t have to wait too long for the bus at DuCollege either which certainly makes a change.

bus 202 cote de liesse dorval montreal canada september septembre 2016Coming back can be something of an issue because it isn’t easy to reach the hotel – there’s a motorway in between the hotel and the return bus route. However a friendly driver can usually be persuaded to stop at the overpass about 800 metres up the road and although it’s a bit of a walk back, it’s much quicker than doing the circular tour.

I was back here by 20:45 and by 21:15 I was cleaned, showered, clothes washed and in this beautifully comfortable bed. And here I’m staying until my name changes to Rip van Eric.

Saturday 15th August 2015 – NIGHTMARE AT DORVAL

We had another “sleep of the dead” last night – this change of air must be doing me good. So after a shower I went off to see if my room rate included breakfast, but of course it didn’t. Whatever was I thinking of? Breakfast is another 11:00CHF. It’s a good job that I picked up those bread rolls last night.

view from bedroom window ibis budget hotel glattburg zurich airport switzerland On my way back to my room though, I couldn’t help but admire the view from the window right outside my door. I thought that I could hear aeroplanes close by.

So in a minute, I’m off back to the airport even though there is hours before my flight. I might find a power socket somewhere that I can plug into – there are none here of course.

The tram came pretty quickly (so quickly that I forgot to photograph it) and the journey was quite simple. And while I was travelling to the airport, I came to a conclusion. My really bad experience last night was caused by nothing more than my lack of preparation – and the hotel can take most of the blame for this (just for a change).

Had it been clear in the hotel’s publicity that there was no shuttle to the hotel (but trams 10 and 12, and bus 510 pass in front of the hotel and a 24-hour bus pass can be obtained … etc), that breakfast was 11CHF extra, and that a Swiss adapter was needed for the electricity, then I would have been prepared, and my stay there would have been quite acceptable, instead of the totally chaotic mess.

But to give you one idea of the hotel, the coffee machine in the hotel sold at 3:00CHF. The same machine installed by the same company selling coffee to a captive audience at the airport was selling at 2:50CHF.

Negotiating the maze that is the airport is by no means easy, and we had another pig-ignorant security guard who doesn’t understand the word "please". All these people who were kicked around and bullied at school when they were kids have really been able to wreak their revenge on society with the massive expansion of what is laughingly called "security". The place was totally packed with people too

duty free shop at security check in zurich airport switzerland But on thing will tell you all that you need to know about the mentality of the Swiss – the "security" screening decants you straight into a huge duty-free shop.

And the number of people wandering around the airport carrying "duty-free" carrier bags shows that this shameless selling technique really works. It would probably work even better at the other side of the security check-in too, especially if it were to sell tranquilisers to calm the nerves (and pickaxe handles to deal with the security staff).

swissair airbus 330 300 zurich airport switzerlandI’m here watching them load up my plane. It’s an Airbus A330-300. And what’s more, I’ve even found a plug that will charge up my laptop.

In fact it didn’t take too much finding – rows and rows of empty seats all over the airport but just one row every now and again with hordes of people congregated around it

Boarding the plane was straightforward and, much to my surprise, the plane seemed to be almost new. Luxury wasn’t the word and the flight over to Montreal, although the longest that I’ve been on to date, was very comfortable. My meals were excellent too. The entertainment was not really my choice – I was even offered the chance to see The Great Escape
– however it wasn’t Christmas so I didn’t bother. Instead, I had Shaun the Sheep, The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

One downside of the flight, nothing to do with the company of course, is that my neighbour’s idea of personal hygene was even less than my own.

With a window seat, the views outside were superb. With the airport being busy, I’ve never seen a queue like this of aeroplanes lined up in the queue waiting to take off. It was like the M25 at rush hour with all of them here.

The plane in front of us was something quite big and we had a wonderful view from right behind of it taking off. It’s probably the most impressive sight that I’ve ever seen, and there wasn’t much room between the tail of the plane and the ground. You can understand why so many tail strikes are recorded.

Having flown over a great big pile of tundra, we hit the St Lawrence River right at Sept Iles, and I recognised it immediately from the air.

alouette aluminium smelter sept iles quebec canadaThe bay itself was easy to identify, with its seven island and a pile of big ships anchored there, but what gave the place away was the huge Alouette aluminium smelting works and the port facilities that I’d seen in 2012 on my trip up the coast.

I’d wanted to see them from inside, but failing that, a view from the air is good enough.

lafarge quarry highway 132 montreal quebec canadaAnother thing that I have mentioned in the past are the huge LaFarge quarries on the outskirts of the city. They are not very easy to photograph from outside, as I had discovered once when I had driven past them, due to all kinds of fencing, lack of parking and so on.

However, here we were this afternoon, flying right over the top and here I was, sitting by a window seat. This was far too good an opportunity to miss, wasn’t it?

unacceptable passenger delay pierre trudeau airport montreal quebec canada 15 august 2015But don’t get me started on the ariport and Immigration, will you? Every day, during the mid-afternoon, about 20 long-haul jets arrive at Pierre Trudeau Airport, Montreal. If they are all full, that’s about 6,000 passengers (plus however many come in from other destinations).

The Canadian Government’s response is to have just FOUR (and for a short while, just THREE) immigration officers on duty.

My ‘plane was about 8th in, and I had a wait of 2.5 hours. I feel really sorry for the people who came in near the end and who were stacked up on the balcony because the immigration hall was full. Nowhere to sit, no water to drink, not possible to visit the bathroom. I could go on and on … "not with a bayonet through your neck you couldn’t" – ed.

Luckily I had some good music to keep me company, and that always calms me down. But finding, once through Immigration, that all of our suitcases had been taken off the carousels and dumped on the floor (and no-one knew where they were), and discovering that I’d left my cap on the ‘plane too, and I was off again, wasn’t I?.

Luckily the hotel bus was already there so I had to take my leave of my delightful companion with whom I’d been spending a little time just recently since I encountered her in the queue and we drove the half-mile to my hotel down at the end of the runway.

Having checked in, next task was to hit the city, and there’s a bus stop right outside the hotel. The bus 202 took me from here down to the Metro at DuCollege, and the metro took me to Snowdon where I made a stunning discovery – an Indian restaurant. From Calcutta, they are, but it was the nicest Indian meal that I had had outside Stoke on Trent. Beautiful, it was.

Bad news, though, is that my little ice-cream place on the Cote-des Neiges has closed down. A tragedy! So I had to make do with some mandarins from the outdoor office.

halifax nova scotia school buses parked up cote de liesse montreal quebec canadaGetting back from the town is not quite so easy – I have to go miles to find an overpass across the Cote-de-Liesse, but I came across some nefarious, nocturnal dealings here. There’s a whole pile of school buses, all from Nova Scotia and all on temporary licence plates, parked down the road. The drivers are, apparently, staying in my motel.

It seems that they are all time-expired (you can only use school buses for a limited number of years) and are being traded in for new ones, to be driven back to Halifax.

And back here, 22:00 (04:00 in real time), I just crashed out. And that was that.

PS- my phone number seems to be working, much to my surprise. It’s the same three figures as the last 4 years, but then 740-6186. If you don’t have the first three numbers, send me a message.

Saturday 5th October 2013 – I’M CLEARLY OUT OF PRACTICE …

… of sleeping on Motorway Service Areas because this was one of the worst nights sleeps that I’ve had. The constant noise kept me awake for most of the night and I finally gave up the attempt at about 06:30 and went nd fetched a coffee.

Off to my little storage area at Jarry to unload the Dodge, and I’m afraid that there, I binned the bed. As you know, because I’ve said before, the constant screwing and unscrewing has weakened the screw holes so that it no longer holds together and I’m in danger of dropping through it, and also because I bought a new and “proper” folding camp bed and mattress which is slightly narrower and slightly shorter, but a good couple of inches higher, and so has all kinds of better potential.

And woe is me. For if you remember, I found a superb car wash and valet service in Montreal in 2012 and I’m badgered if I can remember where it was. And the one that I found instead is, well, unsatisfactory and to such an extent that I took the car back to Jarry and gave it another go myself, and then vacuumed it out. Disappointing, you might say.

Words were said this evening too.

When I took the Dodge back to the Car Hire place, the attendant said, in a loud accusatory voice “you’ve damaged this car!”. Consequently he and I had a “frank exchange of views” which continued inside the Hire Company offices where I told them precisely what I thought about their staff abusing my good nature in doing them a favour by taking out a damaged car.

My bad humour persisted inside the airport terminal at what is laughingly called the “security check” when a security guard said to me “take your boots off”. When I told him to say “please” he repeated his demand. Consequently I told him exactly what I thought of his pig-ignorant attitude and when the chief of security came out with a couple of minions to find out what the commotion was, I told him about it too and I made sure that the other 500 or so passengers at the departure gate and the rest of the staff there knew about it too. I’m totally fed up of this aggressive, impolite and pig-ignorant attitude of people at these terminals and it’s high time that other passengers responded in kind as well. I ought to be leading a revolt against this kind of arrogant attitude – after all, my friends (yes, I do have more than one) tell me that I’m quite revolting.

c-gcts airbus a330 air transat airport peirre trudeau dorval montrealThis is our aeroplane that brought me back to Europe, and I’m not quite sure how because in my humble … "humble?" – ed … opinion a more derelict and decrepit reilc never took to the air before.

It’s an Airbus A330 C-GCTS and if you want my opinion, it was the aircraft rejected by Nungesser and Coli in favour of “The White Bird” for their unsuccessful Trans-Atlantic attempt from east to west in 1927. The seats were vinyl, rather like an old Ford Cortina mk III from the early 1970s and the seat-back of the seat in front of me was held on by a rather worn velcro. Added to that, I spent almost 7 hours on the most uncomfortable seat upon which I have ever sat and the most comfortable part of the journet was the five minutes or so that I spent on the elsan. Someone did make the suggestion that I had forgotten to move Charles Lindbergh’s sandwiches off the seat, but I was too busy watching the in-flight entertainment – three big central screens (no individual screens at all) showing films and contemporary news features (and wasn’t that a tragedy about the Titanic?). Well it was either that or listen to the music, featuring Glen Miller and his band, live, on their way to entertain the troops in Normandy.

Having said all of that however, Air Transat did remember my vegan meal and so there was a positive side to the journey. But hopefully, there won’t be any further issues impinging upon any subsequent voyage, and so I won’t have to put up with this kind of nonsense in the future. It’s bad enough having to deal with the security guards.