Tag Archives: alison weihe

Sunday 11th September 2022 – WHILE THIS GUY …

kayak baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022… on his kayak goes paddling by the end of the headland at the Pointe du Roc, I was busy recovering from yesterday.

Far too tired to go to bed, and far too tired to do anything else after my exertions yesterday, it was rather late when I finally went to bed.

For a couple of hours I was having quite a good sleep and then all of the tossing and turning began and the rest of the night was quite disturbed.

If I had had the energy and initiative (both of which are sadly lacking these days) I could have been up and about a lot earlier than 10:45. But then again it IS Sunday and I’m entitled to have one day of lying in bed vegetating.

red powered hang glider place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022And as the red powered hang-glider goes gliding by overhead while I was out in the Place d’Armes, I was busy taking my medication and then sitting down to start work.

And work on a Sunday? Yes! Especially when I had a day like yesterday when I didn’t write up my notes.

It took much longer than I ought to have done too, but then again with it being Sunday I wasn’t quite as dedicated as I might otherwise have been. There are always interruptions, one thing leads to another and once you make a start you’ve no idea just how many other things there are.

And this took me up to lunchtime.

It was the usual Sunday breakfast of porridge, toast and plenty of strong black coffee, and a good proportion of my porridge ended up in the bin.

Whyever that would be I have no idea. It’s not like me to leave food that I have made. I usually have a very good idea of how much food I’m able to eat and this was just a usual proportion.

peche a pied pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022While these people scramble across the rocks with their equipment for the pèche à pied, I began to deal with the music for the next radio programme that I’ll be preparing.

Having been out all day yesterday I hadn’t paired off the music for Monday’s work and so I sat down to do it after my meal.

The joints went together really well and it sounds quite good. And I’m getting to grips with the idea of intros, and extended the one for Monday’s opening track so that there would be enough time to superimpose the introductory speech.

There was also a good lead-in for the speech from this week’s guest and that impressive as well.

And that took me up to the time for me to go out for my afternoon walk.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022The weather was much nicer today – in fact I had the window open again – so there was a good possibility that it would bring out the crowds.

There were plenty of people down there too just as I expected. Plenty of them in the sea too “taking the waters” and that’s quite impressive. We’re approaching the start of Autumn and everything will be cooling down.

The tide was well-out this afternoon – far too far out for people at the Plat Gousset to be taking advantage of it – so it was quite quiet down at that end of the beach. No-one in the water down there unless it was in the tidal swimming pool that I can’t see from here.

ile de chausey baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022And you can see just how far out the tide is right now.

We’re used to seeing the marker lights on the rocks at the end of the Ile de Chausey, but it’s rare to see them so far out of the water like this.

It makes quite a contrast from what we are used to seeing when we are looking out from here or going past on a boat.

That will explain the people that we saw just now on the rocks at the end of the Pointe du Roc on their way out for a bit of pèche à pied .

F-GIKI Robin DR.400-120 Dauphin 2+2, chassis number 1931 baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022While we were out here on the clifftop there was an aeroplane that had taken off from the airfield.

She’s F-GIKI, a Robin DR.400-120 Dauphin 2+2, chassis number 1931 that is owned by the Aero Club of Granville.

She was picked up on radar at 16:20 just offshore from here, flew over Mont St Michel, deep into Brittany and came back over St Malo, coming back in to land at 17:57.

My photo was timed at 16:17 (adjusted) so that’s probably about right. She must be under the radar just here.

cap frehel brittany Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022Taking my life into my hands, I decided to restart my walks down to the end of the headland.

Fighting my way past the crowds, I came in the end to the bunker at the back of the lighthouse where there’s a good view out to sea.

The view out to sea today towards Jersey wasn’t as good as it might have meen but down the coast it was one of the best that we have had. Cap Fréhel was visible with the naked eye today, and even the lighthouse could be identified.

Having clambered up there to the top of the bunker I took a photo, and I’ve not enhanced it at all.

pointe de carolles Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022The view down the bay on the other side of the headland was just as good.

The Pointe de Carolles was looking quite beautiful this afternoon. The sun was catching it quite nicely and we could see the houses down there quite clearly. However they aren’t all that far away.

The hotels down at the head of the Baie de Mont St Michel are much farther away but even so, we can see them quite clearly this afternoon as well, in the background just to the right of the Pointe de Carolles.

It’s a shame that we can’t see Mont St Michel from here – that is, not until someone decides to dynamite the headland over there.

cabanon vauban people on bench pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022The walk down to the end of the headland was undertaken quite gingerly, sliding about on my gammy leg on the loose gravel and rough surface.

As we have already seen, there was plenty of activity down there with the kayak, the pèche-à-pied and all of the views. And so it’s no surprise that this afternoon there were a few people down there making the most of it.

There’s a woman down there hiding in the bushes but I’ve really no idea what she’s doing, and the knee of someone sunbathing too.

Plenty of people wandering around on the lower path as well enoying the lovely afternoon.

port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022Meanwhile, there has been something exciting happening in the inner harbour by the looks of things.

Both od the sailing ships, Marité and Shtandart, have left the port and are out at sea. Marité must have simply gone for a lap around the bay as she did yesterday, because she came back into port at 19:51 this evening.

As for Shtandart, it’s much more difficult to keep track of her. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that she has switched off her AIS beacon and so I’m not able to find out by reference to my radar where she might be.

For all I know, she might even br back in port but it’s dark outside so I won’t be able to see anyway.

Having checked the harbour this afternoon I headed for home.

customs patrol porte st jean Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022And this was something that took me rather by surprise. I’m used to finding police barrages all over the place and even customs barrages. Regular readers of this rubbish in one of its previous guises will recall that I’ve even been caught in a few of them.

But what I don’t understand is why on earth they would want to have a customs barrage underneath the Porte St Jean. It’s not as if they are going to come across too many foreign smugglers there or people driving their cars on red diesel.

In fact the funniest moment that I ever had with a French “flying customs patrol” was back in 2002 when they took ages to set up all of their equipment to check the fuel of a lorry that I was driving, only to find out that it was in fact petrol-engined.

Back here there were the dictaphone notes to transcribe. All of them. There was Hans, Alison, Caroline and me. Caroline was in a wheelchair. We came into a building to go upstairs. Caroline went up first because she was going to bring down Aunt Mary in her wheelchair so that we could go up and visit whoever else was in her apartment. We waited and waited but nothing happened. We went upstairs to the floor, going up the stairs. The lift came back and Caroline exiited pushing the person on a wheelchair. We asked Caroline what had happened. She said that the panel had fallen down and you can’t see the buttons to press. We walked in there and a cupboard in there had fallen over blocking the entrance to the lift properly so we just stood it upright. I went to pull Caroline in and this other wheelchair. I thought that I would be blocked in here so I’d have to go down with them and back up. I stepped out. Caroline asked “how do I get in now?”. Suddenly Hans took her wheelchair, folded it up, stuck it in her hand and pushed them both inside it. Alison looked at Hans and said “I thought that you’d do well living in France”. The lift didn’t move but we were now focusing on getting to this door. Caroline would have to fend for herself to make the lift go downstairs and back up again.

Later I was in a white Ford Transit van driving from Nantwich to Crewe. As we reached Wells Green there was a vehicle in the middle of the road turning right so I passed underneath him on the left. Just as I passed him on the left a Morris Minor Traveller came the other way on my side of the road and hit all down the side of the van. Of course I stopped. Some guy came over who said that he had seen the accident. There was a girl there so he pointed me out to her. I shouted to her to come over. She was shouting some guy’s name. I went over to her and asked her why she wouldn’t come over and talk to me about the accident. She replied “no, I didn’t do it. I didn’t do it” and continued to shout this boy’s name. I said “right, let’s call the police”. I picked up my phone to dial 999 but she ran off up the road towards Nantwich. I ‘phoned the police and told them that I was involved in this accident but the driver had taken flight. They said that they’d be here in a moment.

And then we were in a hotel somewhere. There was a big business meeting taking place. I’d arrived early and was waiting maybe for Alison to show up. People stated arriving, all these upper echelons. I was amazed about how they were behaving, insisting, demanding, peremptory with the staff. One guy whom I noticed was particularly revolting with them. another guy sitting near me who was sprawled out on his chair listening to his music, someone walked past and pulled the plug out of the wall accidentally as they were going past. He was outraged and called on them to come back but they can’t have heard and just carried on walking etc. But he had put his power cable across the aisle so what did he expect? Eventually I noticed that it was approaching 16:00 and we had things to do so I decided to go upstairs which meant disturbing this guy again which wasn’t very popular. There was some stuff on the floor by the seat that I thought was mine so I went to pick it up. he made a scene about it as it was his. eventually I made sure that I had everything I need and began to set off for my room. I was really embarrassed by the behaviour of some of these people checking in at this hotel. It wasn’t a good signal for any of them.

I can’t remember very much about this one. I was with Nerina and I’d gone away early for Christmas. She was saying something along the lines of “you can tell that you’re popular when people waited until after you’d gone to bring in their Christmas gifts for each other”. I replied that that’s not true at all because people give their Christmas gifts around before they themselves go on holiday. There were a couple of people who went on holiday before me who brought in Christmas gifts for everyone including me”. That’s about all that I remember

Finally I was watching the football last night as well. Mike Wilde of Connah’s Quay Nomads took a really quick throw-in down the touchline to one of his players who beat someone and passed inside where one of his team-mates was totally unmarked. He came into goal with a on-on-one situation with the keeper. he pushed the ball past the keeper and then tripped over his own foot. The referee blew his whistle to stop the game. Everyone in the crowd could see quite clearly that there was no penalty because he really did stub his toe in the ground going round a good 3 feet from where the keeper was. We were all bewildered as to why the game had stopped.

vegan pizza place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022Tonight’s pizza was one of the best that I have ever made.

And had I remembered to put the olives on it too, it would have been even better. I shall have to remember to make more like this

After breakfast i’d taken out a lump of frozen dough from the freezer and it had been defrosting all day. After my ginger beer following my walk this afternoon I kneaded it and rolled it out onto the pizza tray where I left it to proof for a while.

When it was ready, I assembled it and put it in the oven to bake, and when it was completely baked it was ready to seat.

Now I’m off to bed. It’s an early start in the morning with a radio programme to prepare. And then I have things to do. It looks as if everything is warming up again.

Friday 19th August 2022 – JUST FOR A …

… change, I’ve had a good day today.

Here in the apartment I can’t move because of carboard boxes too. And printers. There are two of them that are destined for that great office in the sky once it goes dark.

What I’ve actually done is to strip out the cupboard and wardrobe in the bedroom. Apart from finding all kinds of stuff that I didn’t know that I had or forgotten that I’d bought, I found a big pile of cardboard boxes that I had no idea why I was keeping them.

They are all now piled up by the door waiting for dark as well, always assuming that I can leave the apartment because of the cardboard boxes in the way of the door.

In fact I had a good couple of hours in the cupboard stripping it out without even stopping to catch my breath. And now, there’s tons of storage space that I’ve liberated. I shan’t know myself at this rate.

As well as that, over the last couple of days I’ve been walking a little easier too and it was better again today, although I’ve no idea why that should be. But whatever it is, all of the foregoing has made me feel much better.

And it’s been a long, long time since I’ve been able to say all that.

It will be interesting if this new, improved me can keep on going and keep the momentum. We all know some very well-worn phrases about swallows and summers but there’s absolutely no reason why I can’t make the most of it while it’s there to be made the most of.

joly france baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022So while you admire a couple of photos of the two Joly France ferries coming back from the island in line-astern, I’ll tell you how my day went today.

And as usual these days, it started off with a late night. I’m having a few of those just now.

A turbulent night as well. I didn’t sleep very well at all. Tossing and turning around for much of it, wide awake, something of a failure as far as I can see.

Consequently it was something of quite a struggle to rouse myself from the depths of wherever I was when the alarm went off. I’m having more than just a few of those as well just recently too.

joly france baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022after the medication I came here to have a listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night.

To my surprise, I hadn’t gone very far. I had a group of people around, a couple of girls whom I knew and one or two others. I was sorting out something to eat. There was a bag full of cooked sausages so I put some plates out and started to put these sausages on the plates for these people. Gradually everyone came in and began to sit down. One of the girls piped up and said ‘now Eric what about our ski holiday?”. I simply had a flash of horror because it was now 20:30 and we had a plane to board at 22:00 to take us to our ski holiday. It had completely and utterly slipped my mind. Of course it seemed to have slipped everyone else’s mind too who was going except this girl who had left it until the last minute to remind me. I sat there totally lost for words which is not like me trying to think of what to say while everyone else sat there and waited for some kind of reply from me but I really didn’t know what to say about that.

It must have been a bad night if I’d only gone off for a wander once despite spending most of the night tossing any turning around like that.

But it’s an ill-wind that doesn’t blow anyone any good, so the saying goes. Having typed that out fairly quickly, in a mad fit of enthusiasm I dealt with (a mountain of) recordings from one of the days when I was out and about in Central Europe. And I bet that that took you by surprise as much as it took me.

Had I not had an interruption in mid-transcribe, I could have done far more too. However Rosemary rang me up and we had another one of our marathon chats that go on for hours and hours.

It’s almost back-to-school time and some arrangement ought to be made for Miss Ukraine to be educated. Whether or not she’ll benefit academically is one thing, but she’ll certainly benefit from having some social contact with local kids of her age.

And now that she’s a teenager I’m sure that the question of “boys” will be somewhere on the agenda at some point in the near future and she isn’t going to meet too many where she is.

Her parents don’t have a clue about what to do and neither does Rosemary so we spent some time surfing the internet looking for clues, as well as having one of our usual chats.

It was after the phone call and having finished the notes that I was transcribing that I attacked the cupboard in here.

It’s not very well-laid out so it’s always going to be problematic but I’ve been stuffing things in there for a little over 5 years without much thought. And I’ve no idea why I have so many empty boxes.

But now they are ready to go along with a lot of other old stuff (yes, I’m ACTUALLY throwing stuff away) and there’s now quite a lot of room to bring yet more rubbish into the apartment. This is progress.

With a break for my fruit and to chat with my niece’s eldest daughter on the internet (it’s her birthday today) all of this took me up to the time for me to go for my afternoon walk.

beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022And as usual, my first stop would be at the wall at the end of the car park to see what was going on down on the beach.

With nothing to hold me up on my way across the car park I strode out (for the first time for months). I wasn’t expecting to see too many people down there on the beach because the weather has changed dramatically.

The temperature must have dropped about 20°C since those heady days of 10 days ago and although we had some blue sky, we also had plenty of cloud and wind.

There wasn’t anyone at all in the water and that’s no surprise at all to anyone in this weather

dry footpath pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022During the morning we had had some rain, and with the rain that we had had overnight, it’s done wonders for the local plant life.

Although the path is still quite dusty, the vegetation is starting to regain its colour. We saw yesterday how the weeds had picked up after those two quick showers but if you look closely today at a photo that I took from roughly the same place as the others, you’ll see that the grass is now starting to find its colour.

It’s pretty good how quickly nature can revitalise itself after such a period of stress. Give it a few hundred thousand years after humans have been eradicated from the planet and we’ll see Mother Nature in all her glory.

Well, we won’t, because we won’t be here. But you know what I mean. But it’s not just in the nineteen-seventies that humans have “Mother Nature on the run”.

cabin cruiser baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022Just now we saw the older of the two Joly France boats coming across the bay from the Ile de Chausey.

Shortly afterwards we had another boat come around the headland heading out into the bay. At first I thought that it might be Lysandre or her look-alike Petite Laura so I took a photo with the aim of enhancing and enlarging it when I returned home to see who it was.

However, it’s neither of the two. It looks like some kind of unusual design of cabin cruiser that has taken to the water.

So leaving that alone I fought my way through the crowds to the end of the headland. It was busy up here today yet again as holidaymakers look around for something to do.

lobster pot buoys pointe de roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022When I was out here yesterday I forgot to check to see if the buoy for what I preusme to be a lobster pot was still out here just offshore.

So either it’s the same one that I hadn’t noticed yesterday or else it’s an entirely new one that has appeared offshore today. And it seems to have found a friend too.

Not that I would know anything about it but I would imagine that the fact that the flags on the buoys are different colours, they belong to different owners. But I really have no idea. I know that I would want my flags to be different from any other.

There wasn’t anyone on the bench by the cabanon vauban so I cleared off down the path towards the port.

le roc a la mauve III belle france ferry terminal port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022There was no change in occupant yet again at the chantier naval so I had a look over at the ferry terminal to see what was going on.

Moored over there at the head of the queue is Belle France. We didn’t see her out and about this afternoon but that is not of course to say that she hasn’t gone anywhere.

My attention was also caught by the fishing boat down there with the impressive-looking HIAB on board. She’s le Roc à la Mauve III who we saw in the chantier naval for a while a couple of months ago.

With a crane like that on board they must be expecting to haul in a whole load of shellfish.

joly france ferry terminal port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022Meanwhile, as I was watching Belle France, the first of the Joly France ferries that we saw earlier pulled into port.

She is of course the older one of the two. That you can tell from her windows in “landscape” format and the larger upper deck superstructure. She has quite a crowd of people on board this afternoon. It must have been quite busy over there today.

And regular readers of this rubbish will recall that the other day I mentioned something about the water over on the island. There was something about that in the local paper yesterday.

Scooped them again, didn’t I? I wonder if they are actually reading my notes.

plant with flowers boulevard vaufleury Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022As I walked down the path on top of the cliffs overlooking the harbour I had a look at the lawn by the Boulevard Vaufleury.

A little while ago I mentioned the grass and how quickly it seems to be regenerating. But nothing like as quickly as this here.

This plant has not only recovered its green colour but pushed out some flowers since I was last here. That’s quite dramatic. Mind you, whatever would my friends make of me taking photographs of flowers?

IT HAS BEEN SAID in the past that the only time I would ever take a photo of a flower would be if there were an old car parked upon it.

While I was musing over this, the other Joly France ferry pulled around the headland and you saw a photo of that just now.

chausiaise port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022Before going home to carry on, I went to have a look in the inner harbour.

Victor Hugo has gone out again but back in port is Chausiaise after her run out to St Helier. She docked at 21:04 last night.

Back here I had a coffee and sat down for a while. And regrettably I … errr … disappeared with the fairies. Only for about 15 minutes or so but even so it was something of a disappointment after what else had been happening.

Tea tonight was falafel with steamed veg and vegan cheese sauce. Delicious as usual. At least I’m slowly making some room in the freezer but there is still plenty more to go at in there that needs finishing off.

And while we’re on the subject of cold storage … “well one of us is” – ed … it IS nice to be able to open the fridge door without the fear of being buried under a pile of bottles.

So how long will that last?

Anyway I’ll try one more time for an early night. Shopping tomorrow although I don’t need all that much. And we’ll see how long this mad fit of enthusiasm lasts. If it keeps up, I shan’t know myself but not even I am that optimistic.

Friday 12th August 2022 – GONE!

port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022And never called me “mother”!

When I went out this afternoon for my walk, I noticed that Victor Hugo, the Channel Islands ferry boat, has disappeared again. Gone on its travels, probably.

According to the fleet radar, she left at 08:12 and arrived in St Helier at 10:20, which is pretty quick going. And there she sits even as we speak. She doesn’t seem to be in any rush to come back home again.

Here’s hoping that the ferry service starts up again soon.

Something else that is gone! And never called me “mother” either is a certain letter.

This afternoon I have just heaved a rather large shark into the swimming pool by sending a letter of 1573 words to the Hospital’s Director of Medical Services.

Both Liz and Alison, to whom I showed it before I sent it, told me that they reckoned that it was too long. But you know me – never write 100 words when 1000 will do the job just as well.

If the past is anything to go by, which it usually is, the net result of my letter will be “nothing at all” but one can live in hope, even if I end up dying in despair. Some things need to be said, some points need to be underlined and (more importantly) the hospital needs to know in precise detail exactly how I feel.

What they do then is their own affair of course, but at least I’ve done all that I can and I can’t really do any more, much as I would like to. We’ll just sit back and see what happens now. It’s in the lap of the Gods.

But it goes to show the value of keeping a blog, and an indexable, searchable one too because although it took up a lot of time, I could come up with dates, places and resumés of conversations. And it’s that kind of thing that can kill any argument stone-dead before it even starts.

So retournons à nos moutons as they say around here, the alarm going off found me dictating into the dictaphone. So yes, I must have gone off on some travels at some point. And that’s despite a night that was later than it ought to have been.

After the medication I went and had a shower and, because I’m feeling under par due no doubt to having had the ‘flu for Christmas, I cut my hair.

Having dealt wit that I came back in here and, managing to avoid falling asleep, I transcribed the dictaphone notes from last night. I’d gone to the library to look at a book. The Reference Library was extremely untidy. I was searching through the shelves looking for this particular book and laying down one or two others that I might need when one of the workers came past. It was one of the bad-tempered ones and she was saying that the place looked so untidy. She said “get it tidied” to me and presumably one or two other people, members of the public, so I said a few words to her and she said a few words to me and wandered off. In the end what we did was to start to pick up the loose books lying around and stuffing them in the shelves any old how. Of course in libraries there’s a certain order and a certain position to respect, particularly with reference books so we thought that that would give then ten times more work to do when they come to sort it out. A group of us began to talk about this and said how bad it was here. One of them asked me if I’d like to go to the library at Rennes, a young girl, quite nice. I wasn’t sure at first. One of the other people there had been to the library at Rennes with her. She said that she had some spare tickets still so in the end I agreed that I’d go with her. I don’t know why I needed too much persuading to do something with a young girl. The subject came round to religion. I said that I didn’t have a religion which scandalised them so I told them the joke about me walking by a church and God sending down a thunderbolt which they thought was extremely funny.

Telling jokes again in a dream again?

Later on I’d been for a weekend away. I was already in the middle of a holiday. I was in New York somewhere and something had happened and I had to change hotel and had to change the style of the way that I look and the clothes that I was wearing so that I had a completely different look about me. For a couple of days I had to go away to Southport. I found myself standing outside the station and I had all mu luggage – my huge suitcase and my little suitcase, my 2 sacks with all my bedding. I thought “why on earth do I need all of this just for a weekend?” but it was too late. I was there now. I had to be careful about the trains and was wondering how I was going to manage to manhandle all this luggage. I’d gone over there to the station and borrowed a trolley. I put my bags on it and found that it would go up the steps quite comfortably and quite easily. That looked fine. As I reached the top I came to the steps to go down to the other side. These steps were totally different and I thought that this would be totally agonising going down here with all of this. I reached the bottom and found that the 2 bags with my bedding had gone. I don’t remember seeing them fall off. I wondered if someone had taken them. I couldn’t hang around because the train was coming so I took my 2 suitcases and boarded the train. It was crowded and people were moving my suitcases around as they came in and went out. Someone in the end squeezed them in a corner that upset a guy with a musical instrument. His musical instrument was there. The train gradually thinned out so I could rescue my suitcases. He made some kind of gesture to me which I thought might have been friendly but I didn’t know and this train continued rattling on its way to Southend.

Later on it was the graduation of my little girlfriend who worked on Saturdays in the library about whom I’ve talked quite often and I’d been invited which was a surprise. She obviously thought highly of me. Because of the Covid restrictions she could only invite 3 different households and then only 2 people from each household so I felt extremely honoured. We were at the University making all kinds of arrangements. Someone was asking for details about the graduation so I told them basically that there were only 3 households and 2 people from each one. They had a hard time trying to understand it which I didn’t understand. It seemed straightforward to me but I had to tell them probably a dozen times and they still hadn’t understood what was happening. They wanted to know why but it was quite obvious with Covid. We were back in the hall talking about things, talking about computing. Someone asked me if I’d ever used Flash. I replied “God yes I’ve used Flash on games and everything 15 years ago. I’ve certainly used it but I’ve never actually been inside it to see how it works or programmed anything with it”. Then we were talking about 15 years ago and how that was the heyday of the internet when all kinds of private people were making the internet work and it was a really exciting place to be before Corporate took over the internet.

It’s actually quite amazing that I could come out with something like that in a dream. Back 15 years ago the internet was a fun and exciting place to be. In those days small groups of talented individuals were leading the tech revolution. But now they’ve all either sold out, been suckered in or submerged into the Corporate internet world and these days the onlu small groups of individuals remaining are down in the depths of the dark web spending their time waging war on Corporate tech. There doesn’t seem to be the same “Internet Warriors” that we had back then and it’s made the internet a dreary place.

At least I’m still shining the torch for the lost generation of 15-20 years ago of blogs and personal websites and newsgroups. But I won’t be around for long. We need to turn the clock back and reclaim the internet.

Having had a lengthy pause to gather up my thoughts, I sat down and composed my masterpiece. And rather unlike Beethoven who spent 44 years composing and then the next 195 years decomposing, I spent just several hours on writing out my pièce de résistance.

As a result I ended up with a considerably late lunchtime fruit session while Alison and Liz were reviewing “War and Peace”.

Having fixed the typos I printed it out and put it in an envelope, putting the bill from May in an envelope to send back too, and eventually, later than usual, headed out for the town.

fish processing plant port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022As usual, I stopped at the viewpoint on the corner of the Boulevard Vaufleury and the Boulevard des 2E et 202E de Ligne to check the camera.

There’s a good view down onto the Fish Processing Plant from here and strangely, there were no boats tied up playing “musical ships” today. They must all be out and about somewhere offshore earning a living.

But they are certainly expected back sometime soon. If you look down onto the lover level down the ramp underneath the car park you’ll see the tractor and presumably the trailer that it pulls.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we’ve seen that wandering through the town quite often loaded to the gunwhales with boxes of bouchots.

fire st pair sur mer Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022Yesterday we saw the signs of a fire over the back of the church here in Granville.

Here, it’s the turn of St Pair sur Mer to catch fire. Even though it’s quite a distance away we can see the smoke billowing up from somewhere across the bay there at the back of the town.

And that reminds me. I did have a quick look through the local newspaper this morning but there was nothing at all in it about the fire yesterday. So that’s quite a mystery to me. It’s the kind of thing that you would expect to be reported.

Anyway, I wandered off down towards town.

burnt houses rue du midi Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022While we’re on the subject of fire … “well, one of us” – ed … we mustn’t forget what happened here in the old town one Saturday evening a few months ago.

That was when the house in the middle here caught fire and went up like a Roman candle, taking the houses on either side with it.

We saw them weatherproof the houses (not that they needed to have bothered given the weather that we have been having) shortly afterwards and that’s how I found them today on my first trip to town after so many weeks.

It looks as if any talk about repairing them has been put on the … errr … back burner for a while, presumably while the insurance details are finalised.

marité port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022So while Victor Hugo has sailed off into the sunset – or, rather, sunrise – Marité is back in town.

She’s been absent for the last couple of days having a sail around the bay, usually coming back at the end of the evening long after I’ve been tucked up in bed with my glass of hot Wincarnis.

When I was younger I would go for the Phyllosan that fortifies the over-forties but they haven’t invented anything yet that will sixtify the over-sixties. But never mind. Sony has a product launch in mind for my generation. Soon they’ll be bringing out the Sony Walkframe.

That is something I could use as well as I staggered into town. I made it to the Post Office and posted my letters, having to remind someone in front of me who clearly has more problems then I do that when you’ve bought your price label for your letter, you need to take your letter off the scales, stick the label onto it and stick it in the post box instead of simply walking out of the building.

And you thought that I had problems.

So I dealt with the necessary, exchanging a few pleasantries with the woman in the queue behind me, and then headed for home.

kiddies roundabout place charles de gaulle Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022One of the things that I wanted to do was to check the kiddies roundabout.

With that article having been in the paper a couple of weeks ago even though the roundabout has been here for several weeks longer than that, I wanted to make sure that we were talking about the same machine.

So yes, by comparing photos this is indeed the one that came here a while back so I’m at a loss to explain why the local newspaper has only recently picked this up.

It must have been a quiet news day.

bar ephemere chez maguie place pelley Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022The climb up the hill was better than I was expecting – in that I actually did manage to make it home.

It was necessary for me to pause a couple of times to catch my breath and at one of those places I was overlooking Chez Maguie, the Bar Ephemère on the Place Pelley.

It’s still here, despite the best efforts of the residents in the new block of flats in the background to drive out of town everything that disturbs their peace regardless of how popular it might be with the people who were living in the town a long time before they moved in.

It’s quite popular too, with loads of people enjoying a drink. No-one on the boulodrome though. It was far too hot for that.

Round about here I fell in with a neighbour and we had a good chat. Then I pushed on for my final leg.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022Before going in for my nice cold chocolate drink I went to look at the beach to see what was happening.

Being later than usual, the tide was well out so there weren’t too many people down there this afternoon. They must have called it a day. A few people here and there in the water which sounded like a good idea.

Back here I had an ice-cold glass of chocolate drink and then had a play around with some photos for a while.

Tea was pie and veg with gravy, in the hope of making yet more room in the freezer. I need beans and peas tomorrow and I’ve no idea where I’m going to put them

Right now, having had a mammoth diet all day of “Eloy” and “Ten Years After”, I’m going to bed ready for shopping tomorrow. And then a nice restful day followed by football on the internet later. The Welsh Premier League starts back up tomorrow afternoon.

And what will my letter to the hospital bring me? I imagine that it will be several weeks before I hear anything, if I hear anything at all. And I don’t think that anything will change. But there’s not much else that I can do. As I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … I can’t keep going on like this.

Friday 5th August 2022 – HAVING HAD SOMETHING …

… of a quiet day today, no-one was more surprised than me to notice that I’ve performed more than 109% of my daily activity today.

That’s a whole lot of nothing.

It was raining when I returned home yesterday evening and it kept on at it for a while during the night. And at 02:50 I was awoken by the most enormous clap of thunder

No alarm this morning, which was probably just as well, and it was 09:40 when I finally struggled to my feet.

Toast for breakfast, and while I was munching thereupon, I was chatting to Liz on the internet, and then I nipped out for a walk.

First stop was at the pharmacy where I picked up some of the medication. Not all of it because they didn’t have it all in stock. I had to return later.

outdoor market herbert hooverplein Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo August 2022There were plenty of other things that I needed to do so I headed off further into town.

It’s Friday morning so the open-air street market in the town will be in full swing. Here on the Herbert Hooverplein though there are quite a few stalls that seem to be missing.

What with it being August I suppose that a lot of stallholders have gone away on holiday. Even market traders are entitled to a few weeks by the seaside on the Costa Stella.

And judging by the size of the crowd here at the market, many of the customers are away at the Costa Stella too

From the Herbert Hooverplein I pushed on down towards the town centre.

rebuilt office building tiensestraat Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo August 2022Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we have been following the fortunes of the renovation of an old office building on the corner of the Tiensestraat and the Rector de Somerplein over the last few months.

In the three months during which I’ve been absent it looks as if the work has now finished and it’s become a Thai restaurant.

Good luck to them in their new venture and all of that but it seems to me that everything in Leuven is becoming a restaurant. It would be nice if once in a while something else would open in the town You can’t move around the town centre without tripping over a table and chair.

Anyway, that’s not my problem, is it?

marquee velodrome brusselsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo August 2022My problem lay at the far end of the Brusselsstraat so I headed off that way, passing by the velodrome to see how things were shaping up there.

Regular Readers of this rubbish will have seen in the past that there was some hardstanding laid down at the back of the velodrome where on the odd occasion they erect a marquee and have some entertainment.

This morning they had a series of large beach parasols erected and there was a crowd of people loitering around there. And so the inquisitive me took a photo and went over to see what was going on.

musicians marquee velodrome brusselsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo August 2022There was quite a crowd gathered around the marquee watching a performance.

There was some kind of youth orchestra playing away underneath and there were more than enough musicians to fill the place. Not that I know all that much about orchestrations but surely there must be a point where one violinist more or less won’t add anything to the sound that’s being created.

And why would they have a conductor conducting the crowd rather than the musicians? The cynic inside me suggested that she might be going to collect the fares at some point, but anyone less than 40 years old wouldn’t understand that.

However, the people there were quite enjoying the entertainment so I left them to it.

crane building site brusselsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo August 2022Not that I went very far, actually.

One of my many eternal gripes (sometimes I think that these notes are nothing more than a whiner’s charter) is the slow speed in which they are redeveloping the site of St Pieter’s Hospital, but it doesn’t look as if it will be a vacant demolition site much longer.

There at the back of the site is the girder structure of what is almost certainly a crane. I suppose that they’ll be erecting that sometime soon and if we are lucky some kind of construction might begin.

But they’ll nedd to do something about the building in the background. No-one is going to pay the kind of money that they’ll be demanding for these luxury flats if that’s the view that they see from their balconies. It’s actually areally nice building but it needs a good clean.

building site brusselsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo August 2022Another thing that regular readers of this rubbish will recall seeing are the enormous piles of builders’ rubble and earth that were just here.

By the looks of things, much of that has now disappeared. Well, it hasn’t actually disappeared – it’s just been flattened down into some kind of raised flat surface. I doubt that they’ll be building on top of that as it doesn’t look very stable so maybe it’s just a landscaping feature.

Further down towards the end of the site, work on the building that they are erecting is proceeding and I’ll wander down that way in due course for a closer look before I go hope.

medieval tower city walls Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo August 2022Just one more thing on which I need to check while I’m here.

After they knocked down the building that was here, an old medieval tower from the days when the city walls ran through here was revealed. While the building work is going on, they’ve practically armour-plated the tower so that nothing untoward happens to it.

This kind of thing cheers me up immensely and I like to keep an eye on it.

The cynic inside me has seen far too many instances of old buildings that are in the way of modern development being blighted by a “suspicious fire” (the property developer’s best friend) or accidently being flattened by a bulldozer “out of control”.

new building kapucijnenvoer Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo August 2022On my way down to the end of the street I went past the Kapucijnenvoer.

There’s one building here that we have seen rise up from a demolition site and at one stage it was going up like a mushroom. However the work slowed down the close it came to completion and the last time that we were here we thought that it couldn’t be far off.

It’s almost done and it does look superficially quite nice, although we have seen a few things that indicate that beauty is only skin deep.

It’s quite dark too, especially down at the lower storeys. And this is midday at the height of summer too. Imagine what it must be like in winter.

blauwe hoek Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo August 2022At the end of the Brusselsestraat is the Blaue Hoek – the “Blue Corner”, and here they’ve been relating the sewers as they have been in the past elsewhere in the vicinity.

They’ve remodelled the roundabout too while they were at it and by the looks of things it’ll all be finished before too long although it doesn’t look too easy for the buses to negotiate it.

On the corner on the left just out of shot is “Exotic World”, the big supermarket that sells a great deal of Asian and Middle-Eastern food. This is where I’ve come for my spices, and where I discovered that I’d forgotten to bring the list with me so I had to invent it out of the back of my memory.

THey also had some tofu in spinach sauce so I bought a box, thinking that this would make a nice base for a giant curry one of these days, whenever I have enough room in the freezer.

building site Goudsbloemstraat Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo August 2022having been on the bus to the hospital I haven’t been keeping an eye on the building work around this end of town.

When we were here last time, they had just cleared an old site in the Goudsbloemstraat, presumably to build more flats in the town, and so I added it to my list of places to visit.

Accompanied by some old geezer who insisted on chatting to me even though I couldn’t understand a word that he was saying, I went down there to find that they’ve not started on anything yet, although they have helpfully put an image of what they would like prospective purchasers to believe that they are going to build.

What? Meefar too cynical for my own good? Perish the thought, hey!

building site hertstraat Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo August 2022There’s another building site not too far away that we stumbled upon by accident.

On the corner of the Hertstraat and Sint Jacobsplein was a large three-storey building with garages behind. They’ve now demolished that but have left the façade standing.

Having sealed off the adjoining party wall they’ll be commencing to build something modern that will be fronted by the older façade. That’s quite a “Belgian” way of modernising the housing stock in areas of historical beauty and there’ evidence of that all over the country.

If you look closely in the distance at a modern building over on the left, then the idea of doing something with this facade has to be more appealing.

building site kapucijnenvoer Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo August 2022Finally, for the moment, we’ll go down into the Kapucijnenvoer. This is another building on which we’ve been keeping an eye over the last year or so.

Three months ago they were just beginning to install the third storey. Today, not only are there four storeys in the front portion, the rear portion is even higher than that and has been clad in brickwork.

That’s what I call “quick work”, especially for Belgium where they are not know for rapidity.

The walk back to my place was something of a struggle. However I did bump into the Centre manager who is on holiday for a week, hence the unsatisfactory room that I have.

Well, it would be satisfactory to anyone who could make it up the stairs quite easily, but that’s not me.

This afternoon I’ve been choosing music for future radio programmes and I’ve not chosen anything like as many as I would normally do. I must be slipping.

At 17:00 I nipped out for the rest of the medication and then came back to carry on with the music later until Alison messaged me to say that she was on her way into town, which was a pleasant surprise.

river dilje oudlievevroustraat Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo August 2022When she arrived I was already waiting on the corner so she picked me up and we went to park the car.

Walking into the town centre via the back streets we walked across the bridge in the Oudlievevroustraat that goes over the River Dijle. This is one area of the city in which I would like to live, as you can see why.

It’s very olde-worlde and rustic and although some of the buildings here are quite modern, they aren’t intrusive. I have to say that I like Leuven and as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, there was a moment when I was contemplating living here.

How I would have coped with Belgian “authoritarianism” is anyone’s guess.

We went to the Greenway Restaurant for food as usual. After all, it is pretty good vegan food, and then into the town cente for a coffee and a chat at one of the cafés in the Grote Markt. We spent some time discussing our future plans. Not that I have too many these days but nevertheless …

festfiets brusselsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo August 2022Walking back to the car we encountered a piece of typical Belgian humour.

Belgians – in fact, most people on the mainland – can handle their consumption of alcohol much better than the Brits so there are al kinds of exciting things that happen here that you would never see over in the Perfidious Albion.

One of them is the Bicycling Bar. The 12 people on the side of the bar are pedalling away like crazy, there are several passengers, one person steering and a bartender.

This is one of the things that is typically Belgian and would be unheard-of in many other countries.

feestfiets minderbroerstraat Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo August 2022We encountered them a little later on the way back to Alison’s car.

Going like the clappers, they came past offering us drinks as they did so. I don’t actually drink but I’m surprised that Alison didn’t run after them.

It’s one of the things that makes you glad that you live over here in the real world where things like this are taken for granted.

Back in the car Alison drove me home and we said “goodnight”.

There were things to do, like listen to the dictaphone and then write up my notes. There was a group of us last night. We were all away at our activities for summer. There was a mix of ages, kids, adults, and all put in various groups for all kinds of different things. One thing I noticed was that you would not find people of the same age and opposite sex in the same groups. As a young boy I wouldn’t have any young girls in my group, older women wouldn’t have any older men in their group. No-one got to think that this was suspicious except me. As time went on I began to raise this subject with one of the girls. She replied “yes, the woman who organises the rota does this deliberately. She’s done it every year. She tries to keep people apart so they don’t form any unwelcome attachments”. Of course as a young boy this was disappointing for me because I was going there with the whole idea of forming unwelcome attachments. This girl was telling me a few more stories about everything. We agreed between us that it was generally a bad thing because people had to learn how to handle this kind of contact and how to deal with it. She said “yes, that’s why so many girls she knew suddenly became pregnant as soon as they were 18 because that was when they were all out in the Big Wide World and there was no-one supervising them and they didn’t know how to behave”. Not just the girls but the girls and the boys. We agreed that it was a pretty miserable state of affairs when kids weren’t allowed to follow their own natural instincts about finding themselves girlfriends etc amongst people they knew where they could form relationships that would be under the eye of the other people who could give them the correct kind of guidance to let these relationships develop.

There had been a heavy snowfall in the Auvergne. I had a real-time satellite photo viewer on my computer where I could zoom in and see the state of places on Earth with photos take at the very minute. Everyone reckoned that I ought to see my roof because of the weight of the snow that was on it. I tried to zoom in on this but for some unknown reason it just wouldn’t zoom in at all on the correct area. It was being unco-operative so I rang up the helpdesk to ask them for the geographical co-ordinates of Virlet so that I could type them in and that could be a better start. They gave them to me but they wanted to know which Virlet it was. “Near Clermont-Ferrand?” so I replied “yes”. They gave them to me and I put them in but it still wouldn’t zoom in correctly at all. I was showing someone how this worked which of course is guaranteed to make it not work so we went to have a look at another area by a railway main line that I knew where there were some interesting cars. Again it just wouldn’t zoom in. It was a shame. It seemed that the wheel on the mouse that zoomed in wasn’t seeming to do anything and the zoom was so slow that for all intents and purposes it was absolutely useless. I was really disappointed with this because I’ve had much better results with this program in the past and I couldn’t understand what it was that I was doing wrong this time that was stopping me having the same results particularly as I had people round to whom I wanted to show it off

My brother had brought some sandwiches for lunch while he was working as a self-employed something-or-other. They had an advert tucked in that the woman who made them was looking for help. He was thinking about applying but didn’t but my mother was nagging him along saying he had only half an hour to do it. In the end he phoned up and had a good chat to her. We could only hear one side of the conversation but it appeared that basically she was looking for pensioners. He had a look round and said “ohh, there’s 3 in here, maybe 4” looking at me. He started to talk to her about the pensioners who lived in this house and what they could or couldn’t do as far as making sandwiches went.

I was with a coach proprietor whom I knew and all that lot and someone turned up in a Ford Cortina estate, a dark blue MkIII. They had a dome roof on it, perspex, and it was elongated. I went to take some photos of it but I couldn’t make my camera work. In the end they drove it into the garage and on the pit so I could go down underneath. I took 1 or 2 photos but I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to take the bodywork. Brian was saying “you took some, didn’t you?”. “Yes” I replied “but I can take photos of Cortina chassis any day of the week as I have enough of my own. It was the upper body that was interesting me with the perspex dome. There were some kids messing around causing problems stopping people photographing things. My photo from underneath turned out OK but it was one of the bodywork and the perspex roof that I wanted to take that weren’t working at all and I felt quite annoyed by that.

There’s a very early start in the morning so right now I’m off to bed, and quite right too. It’s a long way home and I need to be at my best, I suppose. First problem is to make it to the station and that’s not going to be easy.

It’s not something to which I’m looking forward at all.

Thursday 4th August 2022 – I’VE DONE SOMETHING ELSE …

… today that I also vowed that I would never do. But once again, needs must when the devil drives and once again, it’s a sign of how far down the slippery slope I’ve slid just recently.

Not only did I take the bus to the hospital this morning, I took the bus back home again as well. And that’s probably more dismal than going in Caliburn to the railway station.

Last night was quite a bad night yet again with plenty of tossing and turning, and I was wide awake long before the alarm went off. But somehow I managed to go back to sleep so that the alarm awoke me with a resounding crash.

After a shower and a clothes-washing session I went in search of a toaster which one of the staff managed to track down for me so that I could have some toast for breakfast, and then I spent a little 20 minutes or so choosing some music for a future radio programme.

roadworks herestraat Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo August 2022The bus journey was quite uncomplicated. It was, for a change, on time and it had me at the hospital quite early.

When I alighted I went over to the corner of the street to see how they were doing with the roadworks that we noticed the last time that we were here.

Now they seem to have dug up one of the carriageways as well as half of the car park. Presumably it’s to replace all of the drains, continuing the work that did lower down the street that kept us entertained for a couple of years just now.

It’s one of those things that we’ll have to continue to watch, I suppose.

Arriving early at the hospital was just as well because I had to track down my new social worker who replaced the lovely Kaatje. My medical insurance agreement expired at the end of April so the hospital sent me a bill for May’s treatment. Kaatje usually sent off the billing request to my insurance people automatically so I had to go and chivvy up the new woman.

As expected, the urologist couldn’t find anything wrong with me and suggested that I see the pneumologist. And at this I exploded because as I expected back in April, they are just sending me round in a circle. And I told the doctor what I thought of the situation.

He went to fetch his professor and I told him too in greater detail. I finished my monologue by saying that I felt that I was no longer a patient but now a statistic and that was a barb that struck home.

My examination with the cardiologist went the same way. It started off rather strangely with me wondering how they can correctly check the operation of my heart when they have a young student nurse in a low-cut overall with no tee-shirt underneath clamering all over me to connect me to her machine.

But the professor who saw me felt the lash of my tongue and the cutting edge of my wrath as well and so both he and his colleague in urology now know exactly how I feel.

Not that it did any good because a short while later I was paged to go and have some more tests at Pneumonology – the same tests that I’d had last October and on looking at the screen while the tests were ongoing, I could see that the results were exactly the same. So that was a waste of time.

At Oncology I had what at fist glance might be good news. This last batch of treatment seems to have worked as three months without it has cause a drop in my red blood count of just 0.2. And so they are going to try me for another three months without any tratment.

Ordinarily this would mean that I would be on the next plane to Montreal but the state that I’m in at the moment I can’t even go down to the end of the street.And three months before they even think about doing something else about my breathing issues means a whole waste of of a summer. I can’t see me struggling anywhere on foot dragging a suitcase behind me right now.

Cursing my luck I went to the pharmacy for my medication, only to find that they are closed. Consequently I caught the bus back to the station, did a little shopping and came home.

For 10 minutes or so I crashed out but a phone call awakened me, and then Alison came to pick me up. We had a nice meal and I had a nice cuddle of a cat while I regaled Alison with all of my woes from today at the hospital.

Back here at some point I found time to listen to the dictaphone I was trying to get hold of my friend in the USA. I’d sent him some stuff for him to dictate back to me so that I could type it out. He’d been scrabbling around for further information so I asked Rosemary about it. In the meantime somehow my friend had gone offline so seeing that I’d sent Rosemary some information to check I asked her if she’d dictate it to me. For some unknown reason she couldn’t understand what I was trying to do. It started off being a series of questions. She asked me the questions and was waiting for me to asnwer. I said “no, just read everything out slowly so that I can write it down and then I’ll give you the answers”. It went on like that and was extremely difficult to explain to exactly what it was that she was needing to do for me. Sometime in the conversation it came up that it was only 5 weeks before she was due to go off on holiday somewhere. She was worried about the Ukrainians being on their own. I was thinking of saying something to the effect that if she would like me to come down and stay at her place while she was gone so that the Ukrainians would still have some kind of point of contact but I never really got that far.

Later on my mother was taxi-driving in a Ford Granada. We were at home and my brother answered it. She said that she wanted him to go and do a taxi job later. He said “no, ask Eric” and hung up which I thought was strange because the job was to Manchester. I wasn’t a big fan of going to the airport – I didn’t fancy going all that much because it’s years since I’ve been and I don’t know the arrangements these days. I didn’t say anything. When my mother came home she was talking about a couple of the jobs that she’d done, how she’d had to drive someone into Acton and someone who had come running out of the church had seen her and had her take them to the police station at Nantwich and had had some fun rooting around for some money for change. I ashed “did you ask if they had any coppers at the police station?”. She was talking about a girl who was going to convert to Catholic and going up to see a priest in Oldham. I asked if this was what this job to Manchester was about. She replied “yes” so I said that if it’s a job to Oldham i’d quite happliy go to do it. It’s years since I’ve been to Oldham. I was thinking that I’d been somewhere round the east of Manchester just recently and a run-out to Oldham would be quite nice. I could go in one of the older cars that I happened to like. That was basically what I said but she didn’t actually say whether she wanted me to do it or not so I didn’t know where I stood about it.

Apart from the fact that my mother couldn’t drive a car, never mind drive a taxi, I’m impressed that I’m able to tell jokes in the middle of my dreams.

Ingrid and Clotilde were around in a village that might possibly have been Audlem. They were talking about art and about students who had been to help with excavations. Clotilde was saying how the students would usually disappear at about 15:30 or 15:45 and you would never see them again after that until the next day. They had no interest at all in staying until closing time of the excavations. She and Ingrid were talking about the excavations and how they get some examples of bloodstone or puzzolane. They would use it in their art. They would occasionally find layers in between the ironstone or elsewhere. Clotilde asked Ingrid if she’d go back home and bring some. Ingrid got into her car and set out but nearly hit a lorry that was coming round the corner. I think Ingrid’s nerve had gone. She was very reluctant to drive off in the dark to return home to fetch this and come back again. I was interested in finding out whether it was simply a question of Ingrid needing someone to go with her because I’d quite happily go as a passenger in a car to give her some moral support but she didn’t seem to be answering any question as to what was happening and why she didn’t want to go. She was just sitting in the car talking to the guy in the petrol station and the guy in this lorry and not really answering any of the questions that anyone else was asking of her.

After all of that I’m off to bed. I’ve had enough of today so I’m going to have a good sleep with no alarm in the morning. I’ll feel much better if I have a good sleep although I doubt if I’ll have one.

Monday 1st August 2022 – HERE WE GO AGAIN

bad parking boulevard vaufleury Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo 1st August 2022This is one reason why tourists have such a bad name and reputation in holiday resorts.

As Guns ‘n’ Roses once famously sang, “They come to our country and think they’ll do as they please”

Where that woman is parked and where her passengers are alighting is on the disabled ramp that leads down to the pedestrian crossing.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I promised that I would lay off the “pathetic parking” that I see on my travels around and about but sometimes some examples are really too awful not to document. I really do wonder what goes through the minds of some people some times.

Anyway, enough of that. Retournons à nos moutons as they say around here, my night last night was as bad as that piece of what is laughably called “parking”. I don’t recall going to sleep at all despite my early night and I spent all of it tossing and turning around in bed.

That’s not quite right because there were two things on the dictaphone, one of which I was actually dictating when the alarm went off at 06:00. And, rather like the gay ghost, that put the willies up me and no mistake.

There wasn’t much difficulty in falling out of bed at the sound of the alarm and finishng off the dictation once the alarm had finished, and then after the medication and checking the mails and messages I sat down and started work on the radio programme.

It turned out to be rather more complicated than most that I’ve done because I seemed to have somewhat overrun the speech. There was really only space for a final song of 1:59 and I had nothing even approaching that in the batch of music from which I had extracted this week’s stuff.

This led to some rather hefty editing of the speech. It’s just as well that I always add in facts that can easily be cut out but even so I was scratching around for stuff to erase at the end. That’s why even though I’d cracked on quite well this morning it was still as late as 11:20 when I finally finished.

While I was listening to it afterwards I was busy writing. I’d received a few e-mails and messages from various people that for one reason or another I hadn’t answered so I took care of that. I think that I’m up-to-date now so if you are waiting for a reply from me and haven’t had it, send me a reminder.

Another thing that I did was to organise my tickets for my journey to and from Leuven later this week, something to which I am not looking forward at all. But I’m going to be using the time sensibly while I’m away (I hope) and making plans for the rest of the year.

Before I went for lunch I had a good long session with the acoustic guitar, just to keep my hand in.

After the fruit I came in here to do some work but rather unfortunately the bad night caught up with me and I crashed out well and truly and completely. Gone for good, in fact, and I didn’t feel a thing for a couple of hours.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo 1st August 2022Consequently I was rather late for my afternoon walk today.

There weren’t too many people down there on the beach this afternoon. The weather forecast had told us that today the summer weather would be back and while it was certainly nicer than yesterday, it wasn’t that nice.

So that would explain why the beach was rather quiet and why no-one had plucked up the courage to go for a dip in the sea. And I can’t blame them either. I wouldn’t have gone in there today either but I’m rather notorious for the kind of water in which I would immerse myself.

picking blackberries pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo 1st August 2022There were quite a few people out walking around on the path this afternoon though.

This couple had caught my eye, and it took e a minute or two to work out what was going on. But by the looks of things they were blackberrying.

It made me think that if they were that keen on blackberrying I should have sent them round to my house in Virlet where there would be enough blackberries to keep them going for as long as they like.

One of these days I’ll have to think about doing something with that jungle outside my place there. There’s some stuff in the house that I need but I can’t access it.

f-gcum Robin DR400 180 baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo 1st August 2022While I was brooding on the infinite, an aeroplane roared by out in the bay.

She’s one of our old friends, F-GCUM, a Robin DR400-180 owned by the aero club. We’ve seen her and her sisters on numerous occasions.

She took off from the airfield at 15:58 and flew south down the bay, did a lap around Mont St Michel, then came back up the coast, went out and around the Ile de Chausey and then came back in to land at 16:33.

My photo was timed at 16:09 (adjusted) so that seems to fit in with her voyage.

And “adjusted”? As I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … all of my digital equipment is always set to standard time and not adjusted for Summer Time

sailing ship cap frehel brittany english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo 1st August 2022As I walked down the path towards the end of the headland I noticed a set of sails out there in the bay off Saint Malo.

She was so far away that I couldn’t recognise her so I took a photo with the aim of enlarging and enhancing it when I returned home to see if I could identify her. But from what I could see, she’s the one that we saw the other day with the strange sails that we were unable to identify.

We could identify the lighthouse at Cap Fréhel though quite clearly. That’s over on the right-hand edge of the image. It was quite clear this afternoon and we could see for miles.

anvil cloud ile de chausey baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo 1st August 2022This cloud out in Granville Bay caught my eye this afternoon. It was extremely interesting.

It’s what they call an “anvil cloud” and it’s a sure sign that wherever it is, there’s quite a storm raging.

If you look closely at the surface of the sea just in front of the Ile de Chausey, you can see the different, darker colour that would seem to indicate that that particular spot is taking a right beating right now.

There aren’t any boats out there in the bay right now and that’s not a surprise given the weather. They would be shipping a lot of water right now.

cabanon vauban people on bench pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo 1st August 2022And although there wasn’t an awful lot going on right now just offshore there was quite a crowd watching it.

Plenty of people on the car park, as I found as I threaded my way across the car park, and loads wandering around on the lower path, and that family of four has stopped for a breather on the bench by the cabanon vauban.

“No shipwrecks, and nobody drownding, in fact nothing to laugh at at all” and no-one fishing off the rocks either and so I left them to it and wandered off down the path on the other side of the headland towards the port to see what was going on.

la confiance 2 chant des sirenes cap lihou chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo 1st August 2022When I reached the viewpoint overlooking the chantier naval I noticed that we have yet another change in occupancy.

There’s La Confiance II and Chant des Sirenes in there along with the two fishing boats that I have yet to identify, but we now have a fifth one that has just been pulled out of the water.

She’s Cap Lihou, one that we have seen quite often, and there was someone around there somewhere with a Kärcher pressure washer giving her a good going-over, as you can tell from the scaffolding and all of the water that’s around her.

There ought to be a squadron or two of seagulls loitering around as well because liberated barnacles would make a tasty snack

gerlean l'omerta fish processing plant port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo 1st August 2022Meanwhile, over at the Fish Processing Plant we have our usual suspects moored up

In front we have Gerlean and at the rear is L’Omerta in her usual place. In between the two is a little boat that we have seen around and about quite often but I’ve not yet been able to identify her.

One of these days I shall have to go for a walk around for a closer look but I’m really not up to it – at least, not up to the walk back up the hill again afterwards. Things have gone downhill quite considerably since I’ve been living here.

marité freight on quayside port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo 1st August 2022Before I went home I had a good look at what was happening in the inner harbour.

Marité is back in town after her perambulations over the weekend. and at the side of her there’s a lorry that’s unloading a pile of freight presumably for one of the Jersey freighters to take away.

There’s a speedboat too, shrink-wrapped in plastic so I imagine that she’ll be going on a freighter too.

Back here I had a coffee and then had a listen to what had been happening on the dictaphone during the night. While I had been in my sleep I tripped over a rough bit in the path and fell, and couldn’t pick myself back up again. That was about the only time that I went to sleep during the night, that was, as I noted at the time.

There was a group of refugees who wanted to be taken clandestinely across Europe. I worked out a few things to do basically and came to the conclusion that it would be easier if I put a few of them on the train led by jackie and Alison. Then with one other person I brought the luggage and everything across Europe by vehicle. I could get in front of them and be there when they arrived. When they returned from work I had the apartment all ready. They had to fight their way in over this sofa that I was using to block the door. They had a meal of boiled eggs and bread but there wasn’t much bread then we discussed everything. I could see that they weren’t too happy about this which I could understand I suppose. They asked me what the railway company thought about me moving these refugees by rail. I came up with some story because they hadn’t really asked because I was quite confident that it would work anyway and I didn’t want to involve too many people in what we were doing. It was all going to be something of a mish-mash with the idea that it would be all right on the night. I had a few things to prepare like some dummy school books so I was sitting down trying to prepare those in a quiet moment before it was time to go. I had a feeling that we still hadn’t resolved this issue about who was going how and where. I felt that we were heading for some kind of difficulty amongst ourselves in this respect.

Tea tonight was a curry made of all kinds of bits an pieces loitering around in the fridge. And there is enough for tomorrow too which is just as well because it really was quite nice and I’ll make more like this, except that I’ve run out of fennel now.

And that reminds me – I need to check the supplies to see what I need because many of the herbs and spices tht=at I use can only be bought at the Asian supermarkets in Leuven and not anywhere local to me in Granville. It’ll mess up my cooking completely if I run right out of some things.

Now that I’ve finished my notes I’m off to bed. I’m looking forward to a good sleep although I’m not sure if I’ll have one. I can’t understand why last night was such a bad night because I didn’t actually crash out at all on Sunday and with the early start and the open-air exercise I ought to have been completely wasted.

So it all totally beats me.

Sunday 17th July 2022 – THIS AFTERNOON …

… has been one of the hottest that I can remember. So much so that I almost abandoned my walk after about 5 minutes and come home for the shelter of my apartment with its 1.2m thick stone walls.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022It certainly brought out all of the crowds and the town was heaving with people today.

So while you admire the crowds of people on the beach and in the sea enjoying the weather, I’ll tell you about my day today.

No alarm of course, but even though it was extremely late when I went to bed last night I was still up and about by 10:30. Had I made an effort, I could actually have been up and about earlier but hey! It’s Sunday! a good lie-in will do me some good.

At least it isn’t after midday so there is still a fair amount of time to do stuff.

people on rocks baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022The first stuff that I did was to listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night.

Last night started off with me on board a ship, or a train, something like that. I eventually managed to access my computer and was sitting down there quietly going through some images. A young girl appeared behind me. She went to say “do you have a girl in a blue-grey background?”. Suddenly she shouted “yes you have, it’s on the screen” I asked “what is it?”. She replied “I need to have that photo”. I asked “and?”. “If you can let me have your computer I can copy them out”. I replied “no. I’m working with the computer. You can have it later when I’ve finished”. She made such a complete fuss about this that I said “I’ll tell you what to do. You give me a memory stick and I’ll copy all the files that you want onto it and you can take them away”. She said “I don’t have a memory stick” so I said “so you find one”. She said “you have one” to which I asked “so you want to use MY computer and MY memory stick to move some photos for YOU?”. I was trying my best to stay polite but it wasn’t working. I was starting to become extremely irritated. The more she insisted the more I became annoyed and I could see that this wasn’t going to end very well.

people in sea medieval fish trap plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022Later on I was in the Army and we were attacking a block of flats somewhere where my aunt used to live. We’d taken up positions and were busy preparing to go. One section had held them at bay first before we all arrived. They felt that they should have gone into the attack first as a result but as they weren’t they were busy trying to sabotage everything even down to the effect of shooting their own soldiers in the main army to try to have their way. It clearly wasn’t working and everyone was around there and they all gave the order to go. They swarmed in but were held up so there was a huge artillery barrage. Eventually they fought their way into this building. The other person who ran this other battalion was still going on about how he thought that it was all unfair. We could see that there was nothing that was going to happen besides that would console him even now that we’d gone into this building and looked as if we were going to occupy it successfully.

people on beach tidal swimming pool plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022The situation at Lidl was getting out of hand. The manager wanted it done one way, the senior assistant wanted it done another way. The photographer who was taking the photographs wanted a third. Presumably he was working on instructions from the owners of the company so we didn’t understand why everyone else was arguing with him about it. Even when we went for lunch the woman who was serving the tomatoes was having words with this photographer guy. I thought that this was terrible because he was just doing what he had been told to do and nothing to do with what he thinks himself presumably. He won’t have any leeway deciding how this catalogue is made up.

I had a new washing machine and there was a free gift – a year’s supply of washing powder. I askd them if I could change the washing powder for something else because of course living on my own I don’t use all that much. It led to a most extraordinary argument with a salesman who called me all kinds of names under the sun for wearing dirty clothes, or wearing dirty clothes for ever etc. It was most unprofessional and I couldn’t understand what on earth was upsetting him so much when we were discussing a free gift.

people on beach plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022I’d been working in an office somewhere. I had everything all done and the place was really tidy for a change with just a few files here and there that I thought that I could do on Monday and I’d be completely up-to-date. I wouldn’t have to worry about leaving my appointment and finishing in a mess when I retired. After all, I could have retired a while back because I’m over the retirement age. Meantime I emptied out all of my drawers. There was a big carrier bag and I thought that I’d struggle to fit everything in it. In the end I managed it. Then I went down to the station – the station at Wigan to buy a single ticket to Crewe. It would cost me £20:50 which I thought was extortionate. All these other people were waiting to use the ticket machine so I had to let them pass while I brooded on how I was going to go home. In the end I just went up to the machine and bought the ticket anyway. When I arrived home my flatmate had been home earlier. We went off to a night club to see a group. I was still fuming about this £20:50. When we arrived at the club the admission fee was £0:92 which I thought was much more reasonable. My friend said “hang on a minute” and went up to one of the members of staff to say 3I had a colleague with me” because I was carrying my camera so we actually could enter for nothing. he was going to report on it and I imagined that he pretended that I was going to be his photographer so we entered this nightclub for free.

This is quite a recurring theme in my dreams, isn’t it? Being at work on the point of retiring and wondering about what kind of mess I’ll be leaving behind.

Finally I was with Jackie and Alison somewhere. We’d been to an Indian restaurant the night before. Next morning we would all meet for lunch. I was still in bed at home in Shavington but the ‘phone rang. That awoke me so I left the bed and everyone was there. My mother said that my older sister had rung wanting to ask me a few questions. I went upstairs to the bathroom. The house was similar to the one in Shavington. I thought that the corner at the top of the stairs would be a nice place to put a 90° circular table and a potted plant or something. I would tell my mother that when I go downstairs. From there I ended up in the street going to this Indian restaurant. I was sure that I was really late. When I arrived everyone had on their face masks so I had to look through my pockets for mine. I then went in and found the 2 girls. One of them had already had her meal but the other was waiting for me to eat before she would order. I thought that with it being lunchtime I didn’t want very much so I just ordered some poppadoms and curry. When it came, it was an enormous dish. I thought “so much for my good resolution”. As I started to eat a man came over and said something to one of the girls. She shook her head but he carried on talking to her. She continued to shake her head, saying “no”. I wondered what on earth was going on because my German wasn’t good enough to understand.

The next task was to pair off all of the music that I’ll be using in the radio programme that I’ll be preparing tomorrow.

There’s some good music in that so I wanted to make it sound good so I spent some time on it and it wall worked quite well.

In between everything I went for brunch. Porridge and toast with some nice, strong coffee. If only I could find some decent baked beans. Unfortunately the French variety is not up to much and fool that I am, I didn’t buy a dozen or so tins when I was in Belgium just now with Caliburn.

As well as an hour or so on the guitar I’ve been writing a reply to a friend in the UK. She sent me a long message earlier in the morning and I had to set aside the time to give the matter some proper consideration.

repairing medieval city walls rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022In the middle of everything I went out for my afternoon walk in the middle of this heatwave.

We’ve seen all of the photos of the people on the beach, in the sea and swimming in the medieval fish trap but my immediate concern after all of that was with the repairs that are being undertaken on the medieval city walls.

This part of the wall here in the Rue du Nord looks as if it’s completely finished now and they have made a really good job of it. Although it wasn’t part of the wall that was under threat, there is no need now to worry about this.

All of the scaffolding has been taken down and the road is open to traffic again. It’s just fenced off now to prevent people leaning on the wall while the mortar cures.

repairing medieval city walls rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022While I was here I stood on the top of the steps to have a look at the outside of the wall.

Unfortunately we can’t see all that much here but it’s pointless going down to the bottom of the steps because it’s all sheathed in a shroud of scaffolding netting.

Nevertheless it looks as if the work here is going to be finished soon too. So what’s the next bit that they’l lbe doing that will keep them here for as long as the guy with whom I spoke a few weeks ago said that they would be staying.

Anyway, that’s a problem for another time.

helicopter baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022Right now I headed off down the path further on underneath the walls.

Down there I was overflown by a helicopter, one that I don’t recall seeing before. I can’t even say whether it’s a military helicopter or a civilian one and there’s no clue visible that might enable me to identify it.

Further on down the path I had a good look at the crowds on the beach at the Plat Gousset. Hordes of people down there today enjoying themselves, parasols and sunshades and all.

The problem wth this is that the tide comes in here quite quickly, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall. This causes people to scamper to the protection of the promenade, just saving their essentials. Everything else, like their litter, is left behind and that’s how come there’s a lot of plastic floating around in the sea.

seagull chicks rue des juifs Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022From the viewpoint over the Plat Gousset I wandered off around into the Square Maurice Marland.

There weren’t too many people here this afternoon but my interest was in the seagull chicks on one of the roofs in the Rue des Juifs on which we’ve been keeping an eye over the last few weeks.

These three seem to have grown quite considerably now and they look in the best of health, which is nice to see.

What else was nice to see was the ladder that the neighbour had put up against the roof and the tubs of water that have been put there for the seagull chicks to drink.

Obviously not everyone agrees with this policy of exterminating them

cap pilar hermes 1 port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022A little further along the path I stopped to see what was happening in the inner harbour.

Marité is still all at sea, just as I feel myself at times these days. However over there against the quayside is Cap Pilar and Hermes I. Both of these trawlers feature quite regularly on our pages.

Also on the quayside is a pile of freight, and also a pile of scrap metal. The scrap seems to suggest that Thora has been in port very recently. She brings in a lot of scrap from Jersey to be weighed in here whenever she has some spare room.

From the Square Maurice Marland I headed back towards home via the Rie Notre Dame.

brocante rue notre dame Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022Today is the day of the annual brocante in the old town here and I was expecting to see crowds of folk browsing around.

But that’s not the case today. For a start, there were only half the stalls here compared to previous years. And only half the people too. It seems that the hot weather has kept many people away, both stallholders and visitors too.

And as usual, I didn’t stop for a look around. I’ve been here before of course, and found that some people’s idea of the value of junk is totally different from mine

Instead I headed for home. I had some coconut drink in the fridge that needed drinking and this was the right time to drink it, especially with three large ice cubes.

Earlier on this afternoon I’d made another pile of pizza dough seeing that I’d run out.

There was some whole-wheat flour on sale at Leclerc so I’d bought some for my pizza. I wasn’t happy with the industrial bleached flour that I used last time.

vegan pizza place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022After it had proofed I divided it into three. 2 lumps went into the freezer and I rolled out the third one and put it in the pizza tray.

When it was ready I assembled it and put it in the oven to bake.

Strangely enough it didn’t taste as nice as previous versions of the pizza. It’s not the base – that’s good enough (although it took some cutting) but maybe one of the toppings. But whatever it was, it’s given me the wind.

Perhaps I ought to go outside with a kite. I dunno.

Tomorrow morning I’m radioing again. There’s another programme to make that I can add into the queue so I’m going to have an early night. After all, an 06:00 start needs a lot of sleep just like anything else.

Monday 13th June 2022 – NOW HERE’S A THING!

marité baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo June 2022While you admire a couple of photos of various sea-going craft, including what looks like Marité out there in the bay, I’ll tell you about my rather surprising day.

In fact, I seemed to be rather better today. The walk up to the physiotherapist and back again wasn’t quite as bad as it has been of late, and I only crashed out for about 15 minutes today, and that’s rather surprising considering the way that things have been.

Especially when I was up and out of bed this morning at 06:00 ready to work on my radio programme.

Once again today I wasn’t particularly rushed to complete it and it was about 11:30 when I finally finished it. And that was despite stopping for a coffee and also for breakfast sometime later

trawlers yacht baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo June 2022Although it’s not one of the better programmes from a music point of view, it’s a good one from a technical point of view with some of the nicest joins that I’ve made for a while.

What slowed me down somewhat as well was that for part of the time I was having a chat with Alison on the internet. She had a few exciting pieces of news to impart.

When I’d finished preparing the radio programme i had a listen to one that I’d made several weeks ago that will be broadcast this coming weekend, to make sure that it’s all correct

And while I was listening to it, I was tidying up and sorting out a few files on the computer freeing up a little more space.

There was time for me to have a shower before going to lunnch, to make sure that I was nice and clean and presentable ready to go to the physiotherapist’s.

After lunch I had a listen to the programme that I’d prepared this morning while I was still doing some housekeeping on the computer, and then it was time for me to go out for my appointment.

port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo June 2022As usual, the first thing that I needed to do was to go to make sure that the NIKON 1 J5 was working properly.

That means going to the corner of the Boulevard Vaufleury and the Boulevard des 2E et 202E de Ligne and the viewpoint overlooking the outer harbour to see what was happening there and take a photograph of it.

As it happens, there was nothing to see today. The tide is quite far out and there is no-one playing “Musical Ships” this afternoon.

But the tractor and trailer are down there on the lower level waiting for the boats to come in later on this afternoon. They will take away the boxes of shellfish although to where I don’t know. I’m not quick enough on my pins these days to break into a run to follow it.

yacht pescadore wavecat express chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo June 2022Meanwhile I’d heard a racket coming from over in the chantier naval.

It looks as if the portable boat lift has just a yacht out of the harbour earlier today and is presumably waiting for the tide to come in so that they can lower it back in.

And apart from that, there’s no other change in the occupants of the chantier naval. We still have Pescadore and Wavecat Express in there today along with the cabin cruiser and the catamaran that have been in there for a while now.

So with nothing else going on I wandered off down the hill towards the town.

freight on quayside port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo June 2022A little further on I came to the viewpoint overlooking the inner harbour where I stopped to see what was happening there.

Marité, the large sailing boat, wasn’t there. We saw her in an earlier photo out there in the Baie de Granville, but there was a pile of freight waiting on the quayside.

That means that we will be going to be having a visit from one of the little Jersey freighters some time soon.

And it might even be Normandy Trader because I saw a photo this morning to suggest that her overhaul is complete and she’s gone back into the water ready to carry on where she left off.

cherry picker Rue de l'Abreuvoir Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo June 2022There weren’t too many people in the town today – there never are on a Monday as many places are closed.

But what there was was a cherry picker in one of the side streets with a guy in the nacelle doing some maintenance work on one of the buildings.

He had the street coned off to traffic and as I watched, a motorist reversed out of a parking place, flattened a couple of the cones and then drove away. It’s not just pathetic parking that’s an issue around here.

And gritting my teeth, I prepared myself for the long, weary climb up the hill towards the physiotherapist’s.

furniture lift rue couraye Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo June 2022And here’s something that I’ve not seen before in France.

We’ve seen plenty of them in Belgium though, haven’t we? A furniture lift being used to help someone move from one of the apartments in the Rue Couraye.

One thing that I have noticed is that many of the stairs in the buildings here are steep and narrow and I must admit that I wouldn’t feel safe, even if I was feeling fit and healthy, carrying heavy loads down the kind of stairs that you find in some of the buildings here.

At the physiotherapist’s she had me doing a few exercises and then 10 minutes on the exercise bike. And things seemed to be a little easier today.

When the session was finished I staggered out into the daylight and down the hill towards the town centre, and then back up to the other side of the hill towards my building.

gerlean rocalamauve l'omerta la grande ancre le styx port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo June 2022By now all of the boats are coming into the port one by one to unload their catch.

We can identify several of them – Gerlean, Rocalamauve, L’Omerta, La Grande Ancre and Le Styx are the ones that we can recognise at a glance.

Round about here I bumped into one of my neighbours. She’s the nurse and home help who lives on the floor above and, biting the bullet, I told her that I’m intending to engage her services when I come back from my travels.

Cleaning my apartment is now quite beyond my capabilities and if I don’t do something about it soon, it’ll be too late and I’ll end up living in some kind of squalid circumstances and I need to avoid that at all costs.

car driving the wrong way place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo June 2022Now here’s something else worthy of note.

Just now I mentioned a motorist squidging a couple of cones down in the Rue Paul Poirier. But up here outside my apartment we have something even more interesting.

You can see quite clearly the “no entry” sign by the gate. This street here is a one-way street but this motorist doesn’t seem to care less about any of that. He’s pushing on regardless.

There’s definitely something wrong with a lot of people when they don’t care less about the rules of the road.

It’s not just cars coming the other way but there are loads of pedestrians around here who are used to cars only coming one way with the flow of traffic and won’t be looking out for vehicles coming in the opposite direction.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo June 2022Before I went in I went across the car park to have a look down on the beach to see what was happening there.

There weren’t all that many people down there this afternoon. Only a couple of people. There wasn’t anyone else taking advantage of such a nice day which was a surprise.

On the way back here there was another neighbour loitering around so I had a chat with her as well. She’s not doing very well at the moment either. It seems to be quite an epidemic of illness in the building.

Back here I made a strawberry smoothie and came in here to transcribe the dictaphone notes.

I was working behind the bar in this night club. Someone came in asking for a packet of cigarettes. They gave me the little square card with the barcode on and I had to go to the machine. It was hung from the ceiling so I had to climb up onto a couple of tables and 1 or 2 other things and then I’d be lucky if I could reach it. At one of the tables was a girl called Alison whom I knew from school whose surname ought to have been “Raleigh”. She was there with a guy so I was talking to her. The guy was looking at me rather strangely so I said that we knew each other from school and didn’t say too much. She made a few remarks about one or two people whom we knew and she knew in particular. Then I had to reach for this cigarette machine but I couldn’t reach it. It was one of those things that you were only ever going to have one go at reaching because if you overbalance you’ll fall. If you fell you’d need to grab hold of the cigarette machine to stop you falling into a void. I was there tottering away on the edge of this table thinking that I’m never going to reach this machine and get this pack of cigarettes. I had absolutely no confidence that I was ever going to do so. It seemed a strange place for this machine anyway. Everyone was urging me on to go and get this packet of cigarettes but I just couldn’t see how I was going to do it without it all ending in tears. It was all extremely confusing and extremely bad for the morale this kind of dream where I couldn’t even think about getting this pack of cigarettes. All I could think about was stopping myself from falling into the void.

Then there were a few of us walking through this shipyard when all of a sudden we were pounced upon by a group of people. They started to attack and torture us, asking us questions about the ships that we’d seen being built. Wr hadn’t taken very much notice so we weren’t able to say very much. They started to become even more aggressive and the attackes became even more painful as they tried to make us tell them things but we couldn’t really tell them anything because we hadn’t noticed anything while we were walking through the shipyard

I had a cheque for £347 that I had to take to the bank. I handed it over the counter to the cashier but she credited it straight away into my bank account without asking me what I wanted to do with it. A little later in the day I’d run out of money. I realised that I’d only wanted to pay £200 into the account and I wanted the rest as cash so I had to go back to the bank and argue about that they had done with this cheque. Eventually I managed to find the woman whom I’d seen earlier (at least I thought that it was her) and discuss the situation with her before she would then return some of the money that was paid into my account from this cheque

It was while I was finishing it off that I fell asleep but surprisingly it was only for a few minutes.

Tea was a stuffed pepper with rice and veg and now that I’ve typed my notes I’m off to bed. I have a Welsh lesson tomorrow so I need to be on form.

And who knows? I might have a better day tomorrow too but one swallow doesn’t make a summer, does it?

Friday 11th March 2022 – I’VE JUST HAD …

… a lovely meal with Alison at the Greenway restaurant.

She finished work today early so she came into Leuven on the bus and we went off for an evening out. A vegan burger followed by a nice coffee in the Grote Markt and then I walked her back to the bus station.

Now that I’m back in my little room I’m writing out my notes and then I’m off to bed for I have an early start in the morning. My train to Brussels is at 06:33.

And if my night was anything last night, I won’t be having much sleep anyway because it was another highly mobile night with tons of stuff on the dictaphone. I started off in the USA last night. I can’t remember whom I was with but it was a guy. We’d gone to this kind-of students’ bar and there had been some kind of incident between me, this guy and the guy who was running the place. It started out as a kind-of light-hearted thing to which no-one took any offence. There were some people getting up some teams for football and we went to join them. We sat around in this room for over an hour and a half waiting for this particular game to start. Just before it was due to start someone came over to us and said that they were sorry that they couldn’t fit us into a team and we’d have to go, which annoyed me intensely for I’d been sitting around here for an hour and a half as had the guy with me and seeing as there were 2 of us they could have fitted us into a team quite easily, one on each side but for some reason they didn’t want us. We went back into another bar and someone from the administration of this club came in and saw us, and made some kind of comment so I made a few comments back. The situation quickly escalated. Some other woman who had the air of being a manager came over to try to give us a lecture I gave her a lecture back instead. She really wasn’t impressed with what I had to say which was hardly a surprise. In the end my friend and I decided that we would leave as we weren’t going to hand around with this kind of people and this woman who was some kind of student said that she was worth $400,000 to which I replied “that’s pretty small beer alongside my $3,000,000, isn’t it?”. That didn’t go down very well. It all finished with her saying that she was going to be taking her A Levels here starting in the summer. I said “let me give you a word of advice. Don’t take them in this place”. We moved outside and the guy asked “what do you mean by your $3,000,000?” so I explained. We passed some kind of marina full of all of these abandoned and burnt-out boats that looked as if they had belonged to a fairground at one time and had all been laid up, derelict and so on

A young boy had been killed and a young girl had gone missing from her school in the USA. They were going to write some kind of letter to this boy’s family and it was an extremely complicated affair and they were having to hunt for envelopes and paper and so on to write this letter. It took an age to do this and before they had even finished it there was a fight between two small children who were something to do with this disappearance. That was broken up but then there was a third fight between two similar children. This was all getting completely out of hand. Then a hurricane came to the area and everyone had to shelter in some kind of hurricane shelter at the school This missing girl turned up, accompanied by a boy called Darcy, someone who had had some kind of issue with his motorbike earlier in the school year and another boy who was there who was the leader of the gang who supposedly this boy and girl were with. Everyone was saying things like “how brave she is to come out of hiding because she’s bound to be questioned about the death of this boy”. It carried on a bit like this, I suppose.

There had been a huge civil engineering disaster and this whole building site had collapsed. There were all kinds of people on this site, not rescuing because no-one had been killed or lost but investigating it. I was involved because I’d been on there doing some kind of work and I had to re-excavate a trench that had collapsed with a pipe in it. It turned out that the person in charge was a young girl whom I knew very well. Basically she’d been surrounded by lots of friends but most of them had been there to ee how much money they could make out of her and out of this particular contract and they had all almost exclusively let her down with this particular work. She was called up before this inquisition/tribunal to investigate what was the final straw on this site. I unfortunately had to give evidence about what I had been doing, which was basically trying to put right a lot of this stuff that had been going wrong. This girl was practically in tears about everyone who had let her down. I was having to tell her the bitter truth about what was going on and about how one or two other people and I had been covering up as best we could to make sure that this project went ahead And even as this tribunal was taking place a cement mixer on another site overturned and on the site somewhere else overturned There were all kinds of incidents like this. Basically all this girl’s friends had come along to offer help to get this building off the ground but they had all taken out of it as much as they could and disappeared one by one until she was on her own to carry the can for the consequences

I was with a few people from school last night but we were probably in our 20s, something like that. One was a girl whom I knew quite well and she had a sister. Her sister (although it wasn’t her sister in real life) was another girl whom I knew from school and whom I’d actually dated at one time and whom I liked very much but her parents hated me. We’d been a group of us doing something and we’d finished it. It had been an extremely emotional thing, something to do with the war and something to do with the military, all this kind of thing and civilians caught up with it and fighting it, very disjointed, and included this woman driving this really old ERF or Foden articulated tanker about. When it finished and it was all over and we were walking back, I caught up with her. She was on her own now. Slowly this group of people reassembled and I managed to get her on her own and told her “I’m going to write a book about all of this”. She asked me what it was going to be called. “Oh I’m carrying a heavy load” I replied, from the song by “Free”. As we walked back to the village where she lived I asked about her sister. I said that I felt like asking her if she wanted to come to the cinema”. The girl said “yes, why don’t you?”. We went into the office where she was working. She was on her own so I said “do you fancy coming to the cinem0 at some time over the weekend?”. She replied that she had to do something on some night but she was free and asked “what did you want to see?”. I mentioned this spy thriller but she pulled a face so I asked “is there anything that you want to see? We’ll go and see that. I’m not bothered”. Just then a crowd of people burst into the office. Her parents, and a couple of people who ran the office where she was working. She was trying to hold a conversation with me. She asked me where I was working but before I could reply she was swept up in all of this commotion. I ended up sitting here talking to a guy about football. He asked if I was watching the football that night. The World Cup was on. I said “no. They never came to see me when I was bad”. I mentioned that if my team were playing in it I would watch it but he couldn’t work out what I was trying to say. He asked “do you watch any football around here?”. I replied “no. I go over the border to Wales to watch it. I go over the border to watch it but he still didn’t twig In the meantime I was trying to work out which car I was going to take. Jackie had asked me what I was doing for work . I told her that I’d sold the taxis but she said that she knew. There was all this commotion going on that no sensible conversation could take place and I felt that this was going to be another one of those occasions where I was going to have victory snatched from my grasp at the last minute.

But the opening part was extremely emotional and powerful about this war thing and I don’t know why this song fitted in but it seemed to be so apt – so appropriate.

After breakfast I made a start on collecting together the music for the next batch of radio programmes.

You will recall from just now that I mentioned a song by “Free” that contained the lyrics “Oh I’m carrying a heavy load”. And GUESS WHICH SONG came round first on the playlist to be featured on my next series of radio programmes?

After lunch I finished off the music and then wandered off to the shops.

dismantling market stall herbert hooverplein Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo March 2022As usual, I walked across the Herbert Hooverplein. It’s where the big market is held every Friday morning but being somewhat later today, almost everyone had gone. There was just the one guy here folding up his stall “like the Arabs and as silently steal away”, as Longfellow would have said.

There was nothing of any interest whatever in FNAC yet again. I’m beginning to despair of ever finding anything useful in there these days.

For a change I didn’t go and look in the cheap shops. I headed across town to the Origin’O or whatever it’s called to see if the low stocks that they had yesterday had been replenished.

And the answer to that is “no” – so it looks as if that’s the end of that shop from my point of view too.

house new building zongang Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo March 2022Something else that I need is a big bag of cumin. They don’t sell it in the size that I would like in Granville.

And so on my way down to the big “Exotic World” ethnic supermarket I nipped down the Zongang to have a look at the house that I mentioned yesterday.

It’s not actually as dark as I was thinking right now. But it’s mid-afternoon and I imagine that it’s a completely different proposition in the morning and evening when the sun is low in the sky.

Clutching my big bag of cumin (and also a small bag of cumin seeds) I headed back towards town.

medieval tower demolition site brusselsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo March 2022Another place that I wanted to see today was the demolition site at the old Sint Pieter’s Hospital.

Although there seems to be a lot of traffic around there just now, nothing much seems to have changed. The old medieval tower is still standing, which is just as well, still sheathed in its protective coat of scaffolding and net.

They have some floodlights there, I notice, which seems to indicate that they work here after dark. I wonder what it is that they do because there isn’t anything evident, even if the pile of rubble on the left seems to be larger than last time.

demolition site brusselsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo March 2022But the old block of buildings on the right that they started to knock down a few months ago – that’s still standing too.

It looks as if they have demolished all that they intend to demolish of that right now and they are going to leave it at that.

And so, as I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … if they are going to be building luxury apartments here, they are going to have to improve the view that the people will have from their windows. It’s not what I would call “very inspiring”.

demolition site rear of velodrome oude lievevrouwstraat Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo March 2022The site at the back of the little velodrome looks quite clear now.

Last month, I mentioned that it’s possible to pass through now into the Oude Lievevrouwstraat and they seem to have done some more tidying up at the back of where they erect the marquee when they have a function here.

That’s progress of a sort anyway.

On the way back to my little room I popped into Delhaize. Now I have more banana drink, vegan garlic mayonnaise and also a few vegan sausages.

But no grated vegan cheese anywhere, so I hope that the cheese that I bought from LIDL the other day will melt over my pizza.

Back here I tidied up the place for a while ready to leave early tomorrow and then wandered off to meet Alison when she told me that she was on her way.

We met as usual at the “Tiger” although as she was early, she came some way in my direction to meet me. We went to the “Greenway” vegan restaurant for a burger, and then for a coffee and a good chat in the Grote Markt.

night diestsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo March 2022late in the evening the buses for Alison to return home are quite irregular so she stands more chance of catching a bus at a more convenient time at the bus station.

It’s “sort-of” on my way back home I suppose so I accompanied her. The Diestsestraat was for a change quite deserted but the lights of the shops gave some kind of weird, eerie effect as we walked back.

Only 10 minutes to wait for a bus at the bus station so I hung around with her until it came. And it was just as well that I waited because it was running late.

Had it not turned up, there would have been quite a long wait for the next one and a cold draughty bus station is not the place to be hanging around.

fair martelarenplein Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo March 2022The other day I posted a photo of the shiny new Martelarenplein with most of its fencing removed.

It hasn’t taken long for it to be reoccupied, has it? It must be fairground time right now and all of the attractions have now moved in and occupied the square. That should keep the town busy for a while.

The walk back home was quiet and uneventful. I wrote my notes, finished off the tidying up and crawled into bed.

An early night and an early start tomorrow.

Thursday 10th March 2022 – THAT WAS THE …

… quickest “in and out” that I’ve ever had from a doctor at Castle Anthrax.

She asked me how I was, If I’d been ill, if I had any pains and if I had any tingling in my fingers

She then poked and prodded me about , asked me for my medication requirements and that was that. She cleared off.

And I made a mental note never to drink any strong ginger beer just before I’m due to be poked and prodded about.

Last night I was in bed early and with no alarm I was hoping to have a really good sleep but it didn’t quite work out like that. One look at the list if files on the dictaphone will confirm that.

There was some kind of competition going on with these Chinese girls. We had to pick 5 of them so I picked my 5 and they should have been packed in a cardboard box wrapped in tissue. But one of them burst into tears so I asked her why she was so upset. She said that it was because I knew nothing about her life prior to this competition and it was dreadful. I asked why she doesn’t simply tell me about it. The quicker she tells me, the quicker we can solve the problem. But she was extremely reluctant to do so and we had fits of tears and hysterics and all kinds of things but she still wouldn’t explain the issue. In the meantime there were other people choosing one of their 5 girls to marry and I was desperately wanting to marry this particular one but with all of this going on she wouldn’t let me get close enough to her to take hold of her.

Later on I was back here again. By now all of the prizes had been given. One of my friends of 19 had carried off loads of prizes but he still wasn’t given this ideal couple or this female couple or exciting couple. It seems that most of his girlfriends …. (fell asleep) … give half a chance I’d go back but she had to be willing to … (fell asleep) …

Meanwhile, it was all about this girl being sent off. One of the others had been sent off too. They had been disguised as something or other and positioned in between the window and the attackers to prevent the attackers from becoming too close. That’s all there was to this mystery and it was ever such a disappointment when I found out that it was simply that.

Nerina and I had this huge pile of money. I’ve no idea where it came from – I can’t remember. We were driving around Crewe (although it wasn’t Crewe and it wasn’t Brussels either although it might have been) trying to find a bank that was open. We ended up down all kinds of back streets looking for all kinds of obscure and offbeat banks. In the end we couldn’t find anything at all. We decided instead that we would go to Bonn because there would be bound to be something there. We ended up sitting at a table with a couple of people whom I knew from the EU (although I didn’t). One of them had a horribly disfigured face. We were talking. One of the people was quite a senior person and the subject of finance came up so I told them the French stein joke which of course made everyone laugh but I had to explain it to the guy with the disfigured face. They thought that Bonn was an excellent idea so we were planning on setting off. At one point we found a side street where I knew there was a bank and I tried to park with 2 feet on the kerb and 2 on the road to let cars go past although there wouldn’t be many cars going this way. There were bollards in the way and of course some car came down and couldn’t go past so I had to drive round again but that was through Brussels or wherever it was before we’d gone to this bar to meet these people

I’m not sure if I’ve dictated this I haven’t) but I was with someone called Allota Fagina, the Austin Powers character. We were going somewhere (that I couldn’t identify from the dictaphone) … old house that was derelict and part of it was falling down. In front of it was a new house. There were several old cars parked there including tow old early Austin A45s that had identical number plates ONA432. She asked whose it was so I said that the one that had fallen down was the one where Austin Powers’ grandparents lived, the one that is standing still is where his parents live and the new one at the front is where he lives. We carried on and all met up at the end of the street for a chat. In the meantime there had been a TV crew so there were lots of people and lots of reporters. They had actually filmed part of this trip and they’d filmed the arrival at his parents’ house where someone had been there and wanted the film crew to record his children because they weren’t going on any further to the end. There were several reporters dotted along the street to ask the questions and the TV crew picked up one of them and it was someone whom we knew. They asked her some questions to which she gave some very nebulous answers

I forgot to mention that at one point Austin Powers’ grandfather had disappeared. When they asked where he was, he’d actually gone off – he fancied a chicken to eat so he’d actually gone off hunting a chicken. Someone was saying that this was his current mode of life and interest hunting his food for his tea

Then we had a dispute between two neighbours. One neighbour had moved in and the one who had been there the longer tried to lay the law down to him but that hadn’t worked and there had been some kind of confrontation between them that had left the long-living neighbour in a bad light. He’d found out a few things about the new arrival that he was repairing a boat down at the bottom of his garden so he called the Council’s Enforcement Officer over to make a formal complaint. The new neighbour had caught them both discussing it and it was quite obvious that this was going to lead to a major confrontation between the two

And when someone (the nurse, in fact) telephoned me at 08:30 to ask if he could come round and inject me, that was that. Of course, there’s no danger of the nurse coming to see me here in Leuven. He’ll be back round to see me on Monday morning.

After breakfast I washed my clothes and had a shower, and then spent the rest of the morning working on choosing the music for the next series of radio programmes.

Having made my sandwiches I set off for the hospital, stopping off at Origin’O on the way. Alison had forgotten that I was coming so I had to buy some vegan food for tea.

And it’s not Origin’O now anyway – it’s changed hands. It’s now called something else whose name I have forgotten. But there’s only half the range of products and the prices have increased somewhat dramatically too.

If this is how it’s going to be, I can see yet another vegan food shop being crossed off my list.

cleaning balcony with cherry picker mural brusselsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo March 2022On the way to the hospital this mural on the end of a café in the Brusselsestraat caught my eye – “Progress in your own fashion”.

Normally, I don’t feature any advertising on my pages unless I’m having a share of the profits but I thought that I’d include it because first of all it really is new and secondly, it really is an eye-catching piece of art that must have taken a great deal of effort to complete.

There was also a cherry-picker there too and at first I thought that it was something to do with the mural but it looks as if those men on there are cleaning the windows of that building next door. Although why they need a cherry-picker and why the can’t do it from the inside by tilting the windows over is beyond me.

building facade kapucijnenvoer Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo March 2022One building in the Kapucijnenvoer on which we have been keeping an eye is this one that backs onto the Zongang.

Last time we went past they were fitting the windows but over the last four weeks they seem to have made some dramatic progress. They are now busy building up the facade with some kind of machined stone blocks and it doesn’t look as it it will be long before they have finished.

We can no longer see the really nice building that is behind it and I bet that with the height of this building in front, it will be quite dark there. It’s a shame that a building as beautiful as that one has been consigned to the shadows.

new building kapucijnenvoer Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo March 2022The other building in the Kapucijnenvoer on which we have been keeping an eye is the huge one that is slowly going up further down the street.

Last time we were here we saw them beginning to fit the walls to the ground floor. And today, we’ve having to step back across the street to take a photo of it because it’s now mushrooming up quite quickly.

It’ll be interesting to see where it will be up to when I come back next month.

The climb up the hill was the usual exhausting agony but I made it right the way to the top without actually stopping for breath which is something, I suppose.

digging up pavement monseigneur van waeyenberghlaan Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo March 2022When I reached the roundabout near the top I did actually stop, but not to draw breath.

Something else on which we’ve been keeping an eye is the work, whatever it is, that’s going on in the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan.

They have dug this up, laid electric cable, filled it in and then dug it up again more often than I care to mention. And look at the state of the paving at the side. I wonder how long it will be before someone trips over an uneven paving slab and does themselves a mischief.

At the hospital, my transfusion didn’t take long to complete, and I wonder why that was. Usually it takes hours but I was ready to leave at 16:30.

However I had to wait for a while for Alison to finish work and then we went round to her house for tea. She thought that my coffee cake was delicious and she was certainly right there.

Now, back here, I’m ready for bed. No alarm in the morning though because I’m having a lie-in to compensate for what I didn’t have today.

And so I wonder what will come along to disturb me.

Saturday 12th February 2022 – HAVING BEEN DEPRIVED …

… of really good company for quite some considerable time, Alison and I had hatched a cunning plan last time I was here. Subsequently we had been in touch with Jackie in Köln and suggested that we meet up for a day and exchange our news. After all, it’s been two years since we last met.

And so, seeing as Aachen is halfway in between the two of us, we set off this morning by car.

Not that I was feeling too much like it because it had been another rotten night.

As I mentioned yesterday I was in bed early and although the party that started at about 00:30 wasn’t anything at all like last night but what did happen was that I had another series of regular voyages that overwhelmed the dictaphone.

We started off in World War I last night. There was something about this arty (do I mean “artillery”?) regiment that I’d encountered that had turned up at Ieper somewhere where there had been some crucial fighting in November 1914 where the Germans had been pushing either side of the British and a British salient had been created. This was one of the crucial moments of the war and of course the area was totally devastated. I was talking to a soldier from this unit. He was saying that they had only been in this particular area for a weekend or so. It wasn’t actually in the thick of the fighting but it was pretty close to it. We were talking about the area and the history because with it being in the cockpit of Europe it was a pretty vital place. Battles had been fought here for years and all kinds of stuff had been uncovered in the past but the war had come and obliterated everything. He said to me that it was all very interesting to me of course. We talked about some of the bodies that had been found here and one in particular that had belonged to a regiment that had had 100% casualties during a charge. A couple of other regiments that had gone to relieve them had also had 100% casualties. One body that had been found subsequently must have been something of a hero to have gone like that. This conversation went on for quite some time.

Later on we were going somewhere last night walking by a canal looking at an old ruined cottage there and some kind of crane with a platform dangling from the grab. This cottage had been burnt to the ground practically. It turned out that it belonged to someone and they had discovered several structural defects in it. They had been trying to repair it but the thng had caught fire and gone up. The crane and platform were there for when they needed to make a bridge to take machinery over there and demolish it. This was in the parish magazine that some woman not my mother had had and as she had a mailbox I couldn’t understand why she had had it every time. There were several other magazines, including one about cars and a foreign boy who lived there sad that he had put it for me. There were a couple of conjunctions so he said that he had written some notes for me. I chucked that away but this parish magazine was very interesting and so was another article about some kind of meeting that everyone had had, some exhibition or something. It seemed to me that for the environmental group that we were running we could have made a really good magazine out of all of this. We could have had some names and e-mails from the people who attended this meeting, made a really good newsletter and hoped to push on and do something like that every month or so.. This was my one big opportunity and it had gone

Meanwhile, up in my room I was sharing a room with Zero. She wasn’t there but the room was in a real mess. She had shoes all over the place so the first thing that I wanted to do was to tidy up her shoes so I said to whoever it was I was with – a woman – that I would have to find one of these plastic boxes to put all her shoes in. She produced one immediately but I came up with some excuse why we couldn’t use that because I wasn’t really ready to do it just then. Yes, imagine this? Me sharing a room with Zero and she isn’t in it!

There was something else about this woman too. Her mother was going into an old people’s home and was looking at one in Union Street. pointed out that the one in Shavington by the Vine pub was being expanded and having new rooms so maybe she could get her in there. I thought that Shavington would be a much nicer place because it was a smaller village, you can’t go far, you can’t get lost, everything that you need is there, shops and everything and with it being quiet there was less risk of being knocked down than an old people’s home in a rundown area on the edge of Crewe Town Centre. Whoever it was put my comments down to some kind of loyalty about Shavington than any kind of practical consideration which was a shame because I really did think that it was so much better.

I was also at Liverpool football ground last night. They were discussing the remodelling of the stadium and all the crowd had to fit into a room that was the size of a normal living room. They were discussing ways to make it more safe and fit more people in. I thought that if they were only going to be havng 50 people at the most then they are wasting their time, aren’ they? This discussion went on for hours about whether they should put this extra level in. I was saying that they could knock a hole through where the kitchen is and have a bar, stuff like that. It was really getting out of hand. And then the subject drifted round to players. There were some people from Crewe there. It seems that they were interested in taking on trial a player from Crewe and they were trying to work out which one it was. In the end they had to aska girl who worked at Crewe – they had to ask her her name and check her writing. In the end they came up with a name. They thought that it woukd be “somebody Thomas” and that immediately meant about three or four different players. In the end end they had an idea whom it might be and asked me to go and fetch him. I said “OK but tell me who it isn’t” so they said it was “something Thomas”, a double-barrelled surname to go and not fetch him. Then the conversation continued about players from Egypt and the Ukraine. Someone took the paper from me and gave me another paper and it was for a guy called Olivier Ochoi and that was now the player that I had to fetch to bring up here. I asked them “are you sure this time?” and the general consensus seemed to be “yes”.

On the subject of football it was also the Welsh Premier League Final between Newtown and Aberystwyth and was taking place somewhere I can’t remember. I was up early at 06:30 and drove all the way out to where it was. The were busy setting out the hall there for spectators to come along and watch the game. It was a big hall shaped like a figure 8 bit wuth 2 squares and a joining piece. In one of these was a TV and someone was busy arranging a TV in front of it so that he and his friends could watch it. I explained that last time there was a play-off final, in the other room they had a big 225″ TV and arranged all the chairs in semi-circles around to watch so I didn’t think that what he was doing was going to work. Having checked out the place I had then to go back home for all my stuff and the radio stuff because I was going to do some radio interviewing for the game. I went outside, it was still dark and the whole car was starting to freeze up. I had some trouble trying to remember what key it was because it wasn’t the usual car. I eventually managed to open the door and I got in. Some young boy opened the window at the back – it was a rear-engined car – and asked me if I needed any help for this, any help for that. I replied “no” so he asked what I was going to do about this, what was I going to do about that and kept asking so persistently. In the end I got out of the car, picked up his bike and threw it over the fence into a field. He had a run off after it but then he came back and tried to get nto the car and tried to steal something out of the car. I had to get out and go to deal with that

Anyway I stepped back into this dream about this football match. I was in this car and we had all arranged to meet at a service station on the A55. That was where everyone met up but no-one still knew where it was going on. I was sitting down there trying to pass the time waiting for a decision to be made. I ended up talking to someone. We had a really good chat and I was sorting through a few boxes of stuff that they had. When I looked at my watch it was 14:20. I looked around and everyone else had gone. I scrambled over to try to find someone now. I went to the reception desk to ask if they knew where everyone had gone. They said that is was something like “Fingland” but of course that meant absolutely nothing to me. There was only 40 minutes to kick-off and I hadn’t a clue where I was going to go. I thought “how on earth am I going to find out now where I’m supposed to be heading now that everyone else has gone and cleared off.

Anyway when the alarm went off I was out of bed fairly quickly and by the time that Alison arrived I was actually ready.

It was freezing outside as we set off, and we had a really good chat all the way to Aachen.

Jackie arrived at the station just as we did. We parked the car and then headed off into the centre.

barbarella cafe aachen germany Eric Hall photo February 2022Our day turned into trip to various coffee houses, restaurants and shops.

Alison knew a good café around the corner from where we had parked the car and so we headed that way. The coffee was really nice there and the cakes that the girls tried were delicious too. There may have been vegan cakes I suppose, but I didn’t ask. Having had toast for breakfast I wasn’t hungry.

It was in an area of the city that I don’t really know so when we left, I was surprised to find that we were only just around the corner from the Rathaus, and isn’t the German name for a Town Hall really appropriate?.

The main shopping centre is on the other side of the city so we headed off that way.

roman remains aachen germany Eric Hall photo February 2022The site is known to have been inhabited for almost 5000 years but perhaps its best-know period was that under the Romans from the beginning of the First Century until its evacuation, which appears to have taken place round about 383AD. No Roman coin has been discovered here later than that date.

There are plenty of Roman remains here in the city, especially those here in the Elisengarten.
We made quite a tour of the shops and the two girls found a load of interesting stuff to take home with them.

And as well as that, I wasn’t left out of the shopping either. I found some of that really nice vegan cheese that I used to buy in Montlucon, and the two girls bought me a pile of that lovely vegan chocolate for my birthday.

spa elisenbrunnen pavilion cathedral st folian church aachen germany Eric Hall photo February 2022From the shopping precinct we can see across the road to the Elisenbrunnen Pavilion.

The Roman name of the town was Aquae Grannae – the waters of Grannus – and the most popular source from where the water can be obtained is from over there. However there’s a big notice by the outlet that says “not for drinking”. I should really have brought something in which I could have taken some water away.

Although it’s often said that the pavilion was built in the 1820s, it was in fact destroyed by bombing during World War II and this replica was built in the early 1950s.

Lunch was nice too, at one of these franchised bio restaurants down at the side of the spa. My salad was delicious. And then we went back to the shops.

As darkness fell we went for another coffee and then dropped Jackie off at the railway station for her train back home. At the station we fell foul of a German police patrol. “That’s why I moved from Germany” said Alison, and I could see her point. It was all extremely unnecessary and I admired her for her calm.

When she dropped me off at home I wandered round to the fritkot but they were overflowing with customers and weren’t taking any more orders before they closed. It was lucky that I had some pasta left.

There’s an 05:00 start in the morning ready for my trip home so right now I’m off to bed. Not that I’m expecting a better night that I’ve had just recently but we have to make an effort and if necessary I can sleep on the train.

Thursday 10th February 2022 – I’VE HAD SOME …

… really bad news today at the hospital. Kaatje, who is my social welfare adviser, is leaving her job at the end of March. She’s taking a year out to go travelling and to see where she’ll end up.

It goes without saying that I told her that if she ends up in Normandy she can pop in for a coffee but I really suspect that my visit here in March will be the last time that I’ll be seeing her.

That is really disappointing. I really quite liked her.

But that’s for later. Let’s begin at the very beginning.

This morning when the alarm went off at 07:30 I fell out of bed quite rapidly even though I didn’t feel much like it.

And when I saw the dictaphone I could understand why. There are no fewer than 10 sound files on the machine from last night. That means that I was dictating something into it on average every 45 minutes.

No wonder I was exhausted!

After the medication I sat down and chose the music for two of the next batch of radio programmes, seeing as I didn’t have anywhere to go this morning. One was more difficult than it might have been because a file or two that I wanted to use were corrupt.

What I had to do was to track down a copy of each one, download it, convert it to *.mp3 and then edit it ready for use. And seeing as this computer only has 8GB of RAM instead of the 32GB of RAM in the big machine back home in the bedroom, it took much longer than it otherwise might have done.

There was time for a shower and to wash my clothes and then to make my sandwiches ready to set off for the hospital.

Taverne Universum herbert hooverplein leuven belgium Eric Hall photo February 2022Down the Tiensestraat in the rain I went, as far as the Herbert Hooverplein.

On the corner of the square is the Taverne Universum and we’ve seen this on several occasions over the last few visits here, all covered in scaffolding and its protective cover to protect passers-by from showers of slate and clouds of cement.

Judging by the rubble chute coming from one of the windows and leading into the skip, it looks as if whatever work is being done is being done on the inside of the building and so unfortunately we won’t be able to see what it is that they have been doing.

But I carried on down the hill and through the town centre, with nothing at all going on to distract me from my purpose of reaching the hospital before I ran out of steam.

footpath velodrome brusselsestraat oude lievevrouwstraat leuven belgium Eric Hall photo February 2022Mind you, at what is referred to as the velodrome in the Brusselsestraat I came to a halt as I’d noticed something that had changed.

People were passing down by the side of where they erect the marquees for events every now and again, and a closer look at the situation reveals that the fence at the bottom of the site bordering the Oude Lieve Vrouwstraat has been moved.

That means that people can now pass from here into the latter street, with the idea, I suppose, that it will become a formal pathway in due course. Whether it remains or not once the proposed redevelopment takes place remains to be seen.

demolition site brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric Hall photo February 2022A little further on down the street at the other side of the Velodrome, the piles of soil and rubble are still here. No-one has taken them away.

The digger on top of the pile doesn’t seem to be contributing much to the general nature of the site and further to the demolition of St Pieter’s Hospital on which we are standing right now, the demolition of the building over on the right seems to have stopped.

One part of it has come down, as we can tell, right behind the digger but despite the passage of time no further demolition has taken place.

As I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … if the buildings around here are going to stay then they need to be tidied up because I can’t think that anyone paying the kind of price that they will be required to pay for an apartment here will be happy with the view that they will have.

medieval tower demolition site brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric Hall photo February 2022While we are here, we’ll have to check on the medieval tower that was uncovered when they demolished the hospital.

It’s been covered up for the last few months though, in scaffolding with a roof on top and with netting around the outside, presumably to protect it from the work that’s going on all around it.

But it’s the piles of rubble that are intriguing me. If they are serving no purpose I would have expected them to have been taken away a long time ago. But if they are to be used in the regeneration of the site then they need to get a move on before the rain washes it all away.

medieval tower handbooghof leuven belgium Eric Hall photo February 2022Last time that I took a photo of the old medieval tower I mentioned something about the view behind me.

That reminded me today that maybe I ought to take a photo of the view behind me so that you can see what I mean about the old medieval walls there in the Handbooghof.

All of that section of the city wall, such as it is, is under repair at the moment as you can see. And not before time as I’ve posted a few photos of this part of the wall showing its deplorable condition.

We can’t see what they have been doing because of the wall that they have erected in front of it so we’ll have to wait for a while until the wall has gone before we can examine their handiwork.

building site kapucijnenvoer leuven belgium Eric Hall photo February 2022From there I pushed on along the street and round the corner into the Kapucijnenvoer.

There are a couple of building sites on which we have been keeping an eye over the last few months. This one, backing on to the Zongang, was at one time proceeding rather quicker than I would have expected, being Belgium, but things have slowed down just recently.

The windows are now fitted, but seeing all of the gaps around them shows the quality of the workmanship in new buildings these days. They’ll stuff the joints full of expanding foam and and cement over it, and then wonder why in 10 years time they are having water infiltration issues.

building site kapucijnenvoer leuven belgium Eric Hall photo February 2022The other building site in the Kapucijnenvoer is further down the street on the other side of the road.

This is going to be some massive undertaking judging by the amount of concrete that has gone into it.

They are now at the stage of installing the vertical dividing walls. We can see some of the concrete reinforcing matting that has already been fitted, waiting for the shuttering to be installed.

The walk up the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan was a nightmare this afternoon. I wasn’t in any kind of mood for that.

What didn’t help was that seeing as it is February, I was dressed in my winter clothing, but the temperature was 12°C and I was overheating. It really was a most uncomfortable climb up the hill.

digging up the pavement monseigneur van waeyenberghlaan leuven belgium Eric Hall photo February 2022We’ve seen this in several occasions just recenly.

At the top end of the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan a few months ago they were digging up the verge and laying an electric cable. Since then they have dug it up a couple of times since to presumably repair what it is that they damaged on the previous occasion that they dug it up.

It’s always the final couple of hundred yards that finishes me off because it becomes steeper and steeper the higher up you go and there’s a part by the bus station that must be at 45 degrees.

That’s the straw that always breaks the camel’s back.

1st buds 2022 universitaire ziekenhuis leuven belgium Eric Hall photo February 2022A little earlier I mentioned something about the temperature today and how we don’t seem to have had anything like a winter.

And here are the first buds that I have seen so far in 2022. This is ridiculously early but nevertheless it underlines the fact that the winters, such as they are, are warming up these days and nature is responding earlier and earlier The first buds that I saw in, for example, 2019, WERE ON 8th MARCH.

At the hospital I was surprised that the doctor actually came to see me before the nurse could couple me up to the machine that they use.

The doctor was another one of these very keen, very helpful, very enthusiastic types and we had a very long chat. Once again, the question of Counselling reared its ugly head and as I said last time, I would hate to be the person who draws the short straw and has to probe the depths of my subconscious mind.

The big issue is that my heart and my knee are giving me major problems, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall. Apparently I am doing all of the right things and “everything will improve if you just give it time”.

However, time is something that I don’t have. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that with the main illness that I have people start to die off after five years and no-one has lived longer than 11 years. I was diagnosed with it 6.5 years ago and judging by some of things that were going on in the past, I’ve had it a lot longer than that.

So basically I’m living on borrowed time as it is and I don’t have the time for the heart and the knee to improve.

And that’s probably the root of all of the frustrations that I’m feeling right now.

The good news (for there is some) is that I can abandon two of my medicaments. I think that that brings me down to 12 per day now, a couple of them more than once a day.

There was the dictaphone to listen to, as I mentioned earlier. There was something to do with a group of people and a guy who was running it but whether they were all colonists or something I don’t know. Something had happened and gone wrong and all the people had overpowered him. He put up a heck of a fight but nevertheless they brought him down to the floor and were sitting on him etc. There was some woman in charge of the operation and the guy was pleading with her “let me go, let me go, give me another chance and I’ll sort things out”. I was listening to this somehow, I’m not sure how, thinking “yes, we’ve heard all this before and that it as high time that these people took matters into heir own hands and sorted out their own freedom in their own way”.

There was something else going round the Social Network from the Open University about some illness or other so I posted on there that my partner had had cancer and died and a couple of years later I’d developed leukemia so the moral of this story is “if you have something to do, do it and don’t wait”. Immediately 2 people entered into conversation with me via private chat. One was someone from the Auvergne like a German friend of mine but it wasn’t him and the second person was someone I knew once in Northampton. The result of this was that I was up in the North-west of England and he came along and picked me up. There was someone else there as well so there were three. I knew that he lived somewhere on the coast of Scotland, and it turned out that it was at Ardrossan but it was no Ardrossan that I ever knew. When we arrived we drove under the Admiralty Arch and I thought that this would be a nice place to photograph, the arch and its explanatory panel. We ended up in his house. His kitchen was in a glass conservatory. We could see the harbour and the storm and the boats being tossed about by the waves and lost in the spray. He made himself some toast and didn’t offer it to anyone. We were there chatting about not very much. Someone asked me if I had seen the dog of something travelling south so I said “no”. They explained that it was some kind of wind phenomenon. Strangely enough, at that moment I awoke and I could smell toast al the way through the building where I was staying.

We were also in Paisley last night but it was nothing like any Paisley I ever knew but surprisingly it was associated with Morton Football Club. There had been someone who had died, some respected senator or some such and a big funeral had been organised for him. We were up there, three of us again, driving around in my car. At the back of the town centre was acres and acres and acres of demolition sites where all the old tenements had been knocked down. While we were driving around one of them we came across loads of cars from the 1950s that had been dumped and vandalised. It was very strange in these modern times to have cars like this lying around on waste ground. We did a U-turn but somehow managed to become stuck in the demolition site of a factory but extricated ourselves and went back and I tried to take a photo. First of all I couldn’t get the aspect right for this old Ford Consul Mk II, an early model, not the 375. I couldn’t make this photo focus on what it was that I was wanting and I couldn’t actually see the car at one time even though it was quite clear on this demolition site that we had driven past just now. All of a sudden the camera began to malfunction and nothing was happening at all. The girl with me was becoming rather impatient. In the meantime a woman came by with 2 tiny children. One was in a blue and white hooped top and the other wasn’t. I said something to this little kid about “you don’t want to be wearing that kind of clothing around here. It should be blue and white (or do I mean black and white, the colours of St Mirren who play in Paisley?). His mother laughed and said something and wandered off. I was still messing around with this camera and this girl was becoming very impatient. She said “can’t you fix it?”. I replied “yes, if I had somewhere clear and plenty of room etc in which to work”. She replied “let’s go into this house”. It was a house that we weren’t quite sure if it was abandoned, empty or so on. I thought “I’m not going in there to strip down my camera. You never know who is going to come in”. But she was extremely adamant. In the end I said “I’ll sit on the edge of the pavement and do it” which I thought was a good compromise but she was still going on about going into this house and that was the last thing that I wanted to do

There was also something about some Glasgow family appearing on the TV. There were loads of outcries about how they didn’t want this family representing them on the UK stage somewhere. Some foreign Government going on about how they don’t want these Lefties coming along invading their country from the UK.

I’m not sure whether I dictated something about our Welsh class where I came back in and they were listening to all varieties of music and said that you each have to choose 10 songs so we can stream them. I asked “how do you mean? I have to download off the internet or from my own personal collection?”. They replied “however you like” and gave me the settings that you have to use. At first I couldn’t think of a ten that I would record because I would want to be using my style of music but the others wouldn’t like that. There had to be some kind of compromise somewhere. In the end I managed to sort out 10 of them including ZERO SHE FLIES and GRASSHOPPER
which as regular readers of this rubbish will recall play some kind of rôle in my voyages during the night. They were talking about the door handle that used to stick but “we’ve fixed that now so there’s no problem there”. I asked them what they had done but they weren’t too keen to tell me but they said that the cuckoo clock had gone which I thought was a real shame. They said “there was something the matter with it and Mike took it away” because he was in charge of all of this. I was hoping that it would find its way back sometime soon.

When they threw me out of the hospital, Alison came to pick me up and we went round to her house and cooked tea while I cuddled a cat. We also had a very long chat which passed much more time than expected and so it wasn’t until late that I returned back here.

No alarm in the morning, what with no hospital appointments, so I’m having a lie-in. That is, always assuming that my night isn’t as disturbed as last night’s was. 10 sound files is an impressive number and must be a record – a record that I don’t want to break.

Unless I’m accompanied by TOTGA, Castor and Zero of course, and then I can go for as many rambles as I possibly can.

Thursday 13th January 2022 – I’VE BEEN TOLD …

… by a doctor at the hospital that I would probably be better off having some counselling.

And I’d hate to be the person who draws the short straw and has to probe the depths of my subconscious mind.

But seriously, anyone who has to go to see a psychiatrist needs his head examined. It reminds me of the story about the guy who went to see a psychiatrist
“What’s the matter with you?”
“I think that I’m a dog”.
“And how long have you been feeling ike that?”
“Ever since I was a puppy”
“You’d better lie down on the couch”.
“I can’t”
“Why not?”
“I’m not allowed to”.

Last night I was in bed by 21:30 tucked up quietly in the warmth. And it didn’t take too long before I dozed off, only to awaken at 04:25.

No chance of my being out of bed at any time like that. I turned over and tried to go back to sleep – without a great deal of success, I have to say. At least, not until five minutes before the alarm went off.

Plenty of stuff on the dictaphone from the night too. Back in the days before World War II when there were a couple of scientists working on some machines that we’d captured. One was a kind of musical juke box which was to do with the German Air Force. We’d had this and had to rewire a new plug onto it, plugged it in and made it work. I’m not sure of the relevance of anything else but it actually predicted the arrival of the first German aeroplane to cross the Dutch border in World War II and the troops on the ground who saw it fly over this cliff where they were keeping watch. It was loaded with explosives but they were lucky and they were ready and managed to bring it down. But the explosives caused a huge amount of damage all over the local area and there was some kind of dispute about it. Was it the right thing to do? Then it turned out that in one raid by the Allied air force in 1942 or something they had actually caught the inventor of this machine and killed him in the bombing raid. There was another machine but they weren’t sure exactly what it did but it was something to do with family trees. When they finally cracked what it did, the key name was Robinson or Robertson but that was something to do with the German people who had designed the machine. When they worked out the surname the allies were quite jubilant about it all.

Later on back in some kind of Cold War time we were on a deserted dock in the North of Scotland somewhere which at one time had been a Victorian dry dock complex but was now abandoned. We’d gone to investigate it and found some paperwork relating to some movements. Then this ship docked and a huge Russian lorry was wheeled off. We explored all over this lorry. It was quite primitive but was loaded up with some kind of stuff so we made some real notes about it. We even knew its name, which I have forgotten. There was also a caravan thing. We were surprised that the lorry was far easier to drive than this caravan. This lorry, we were underneath it checking everything etc. We even heard them giving orders about driving it. This was bound to be something of real interest to someone.

Later on there was some kind of follow-up to this incident about the dock but I can’t remember very much about it except that a girl was quite upset because she believed that it had been installed with the agreement and knowledge of the British authorities and was very upset that we were poking around it.

Following the demise of Shearings I went to look for another job as a coach driver and ended up looking at a place that had some old Duple-bodied coaches that was advertising. Their coaches were really nice, clean, tidy and well-painted even though they were old. The question of whether these were still in operation even though they were more than 20 years old came up but they didn’t seem to be bothered. They were running them quite happily. We had a good chat and I explained that I worked mainly for Shearings so I knew how to drive and how to run coach tours and private hire trips according to how they did them but that was probably different from anyone else. They agreed to offer me a job and they were impressed to notice that I knew already about fuel cards etc. He showed me a coach, a T-registered Duple that had been repainted but the preparation had been awful so I had a word about that. I thought that it ought to have been done better. Then it came out that I had an Operator’s Licence (which I actually do, and an International one at that) so he thought that he might put me at one of their subsidiaries somewhere. We boarded a coach which was rather tatty inside, I thought and didn’t seem to suit their image, and drove off. I expected that they would have wanted me to drive so that they could see what I was like but they didn’t which I thought was strange. At a certain point we stopped, got out and started to walk, past these abandoned houses and the guy was talking about who used to live there and what he used to do, and had we been here 20 years ago there would have been tons of stuff in these houses to save. Climbing over the ruins was quite difficult. Then the name of Zygmund came up. There were 2 boys talking about it and we overheard. I said that I knew someone called Zygmund (and I did too – he lived in Nantwich and was a friend of my father’s). He knew this person as well so we had a chat about this, what I remembered from my father and he added a few bits and pieces in. We then clambered over this really old house that had been used to keep a horse in which had contributed to its demise

After the meds I had a shower and washed my clothes, then I made my sandwiches and headed off into town. I’m glad that I’d brought my winter coat with me because the temperature was down to 1.5°C outside.

tavern universum herbert hooverplein leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022On my way down the street into town I passed by the corner of the Herbert Hooverplein.

When we were here last month they were doing something her that had caught my attention but I can’t now remember what it was. But whatever it was, they look as if they are pretty-well advanced with it.

There’s scaffolding up all around the Taverne Universum and covered with a sheet to protect the passers-by from whatever it is that they are doing.

And as for the sign “what’s next?” – we’ll have to wait to find out. I’m not convinced that it will be next time either, knowing the speed in which they seem to work here in Belgium.

shop renovation rector de somerplein leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022Further down the hill in the Rector de Somerplein I went past that building that we saw them smashing up a couple of months ago.

Nothing much seemed to have happened when we went past last time, but now they seem to have got to grips with it.

Covered in scaffolding with its protective covering and with a laden skip outside the door it looks as if things are advancing quite rapidly. Of course I can’t stick my hear in there for another look while they are actually working there though. I’ll have to wait until the scaffolding and its cover come down.

And that’s not going to be for quite a while either, I reckon.

school trip on bicycles naamsestraat leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022Bicycles play an important role in the life of the average citizen of Leuven and the place is flooded with them.

Coming down the Naamsestraat into the Grote Markt is what looks very much like a school outing or something similar a whole pile of schoolkids accompanied by a few adults on a pedal-powered outing.

Luckily they aren’t going my way, although had I been a minute or so later I would have encountered them head-on. I left them to it and carried on down the hill into the Brusselsestraat where there wasn’t very much of any kind of excitement at all today.

hardstanding velodrome brusselsestraat leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that at the back of the new velodrome there’s some kind of hardstanding that they have installed.

In the past we’ve seen all kinds of things on there. There have been marquees and the like, and I even recall seeing a few potted palms as well on one occasion.

Today though, there’s nothing. We have the Christmas lights still strung up there but that’s about your lot.

Nevertheless, if those buildings at the back are going to be staying put and not be knocked down, they need to be doing something with them to tidy them up. They are building a little exclusive village here eventually and I’m sure that the residents, having paid all of this money, will want to have a good view for their money.

building work on medieval stone tower brusselsestraat leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022A little further on down the street is the old medieval tower that we first saw after they had knocked down St Pieter’s Hospital that used to stand on this site.

Since it was unveiled in all of its glory, it’s been veiled up again, and quite rightly so with all of the construction going on all around it.

It’s all that remains of the old medieval city walls in this area, although there’s a couple of hundred of hundred feet still standing behind me down by the side of the river that it also in the process of being restored.

And part of the plan is for this tower to stand at the side of the river again. Where we are standing now is actually on top of the river that is flowing underneath us in a culvert. Part of the plan for the site is to rip out the culvert and have the river exposed to the air again.

Further down at the end of the street I decided to go a different way to the hospital.

building work kapucijnenvoer leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022There are a couple of building sites, like this one between the Zongang and the Kapucijnenvoer, upon which my beady eye is being kept and by the time that I come here tonight it will be too dark to see anything.

By the looks of things, all of the structure is in place and they’ve taken their time to get here. At first the building went up like a mushroom but they seem to have slowed down somewhat since those heady days.

The next task, I suppose, will be to fit it out before they finish off with the cladding. I’m not sure how long that will take them but I don’t suppose that it’s the work of five minutes either. And I wonder how the residents of the Zongang are getting on, having been deprived of much of their natural light.

building work kapucijnenvoer leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022Further on down the street on the other side of the road is the big impressive building on which they have been working for quite some time.

There were plenty of workmen about so I had to be rather circumspect, but we can see that they’ve been making some progress with the building. And I was right. It is going to be a huge thing.

There’ no indication of the purpose of the building when it’s finished – no signs or anything – so we’ll have to wait for a while until we find out what is going on.

To my surprise I made it all the way to the hospital without stopping for breath, even all the way up the hill in the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan. It’s been a long time since I’ve done that.

At the cardiologist’s, they put me on e couch and coupled me up to a machine that would take a reading. And then the consultant saw me.

They couldn’t find anything seriously wrong with my heart when they did all those tests last time. He thinks that it’s something to do with clogged arteries (which is a great surprise to me as I don’t eat the kind of food that will cause that). He’s going to try to treat it by medication.

And so having decided when my daily intake of tablets increased to 8 per day that I was going to make a great effort to cut down, I’m now on 15 per day. So that plan clearly isn’t working, is it?

At the day centre they coupled me up to the infusion and left me to it. The doctor came to see me to ask how I was and when I told him that I was fed up, he started on this counselling lark.

One of the things that I mentioned was that I can’t shift this excess weight, and I can’t seem to improve my breathing and can’t go back to running, all of that. He suggested that I take up much more exercise in an attempt to deal with the weight and the fitness levels, but he didn’t have an answer to “how do I do that with my breathing issues?”.

While I was there I did manage to do some work in between the bouts of sleep. Tuesday’s notes that I had left only half-written are now up to date (except for the night’s little voyages).

Alison came to the hospital to pick me up and she took me back to her house where she made tea. And it was my lucky day today because one of her cats let me pick him up and give him a big stroke. He seemed quite comfortable too.

Alison kindly ran me home later, which was nice of her. We’d had a very long chat about all kinds of this and that, and did our best to put the world to rights. But I think that it’ll take much more than whatever we can come up with to do that.

Now I’m off to bed and a nice lie in. Just as well as the ‘phone battery is flat and I can’t recharge it until I find a data cable from somewhere.

No appointments tomorrow so I can take it easy. Just a pile of music to select for the radio programmes and a trip out to the shops. That should keep me out of mischief for a while.

Thursday 16th December 2021 – THAT WAS A LONG …

… day, right enough. And I felt every minute of it too.

Crawling out of bed at 07:30 was already difficult enough but a shower went some way towards relieving that.

After breakfast I made my sandwiches and set out for the hospital and my 10:15 appointment. I took plenty of photos but you’ll have to wait for a couple of days before you get to see them.

At the hospital I checked in for my … gulp … three appointments and then went off for my first appointment.

“You’ve not had anything to eat this morning, have you?” asked the nurse.
“As a matter of fact I have” I replied
“Well, you shouldn’t have done. We can’t run all the tests on you”.
“No-one ever said anything to me”

The result of this is that I have to go back tomorrow at … errr … 08:15.

So they did what tests they could on me. The nurse was brandishing a very large needle around, so I closed my eyes tightly.

He did what he was supposed to do with the needle and said “you can relax now”.
“No I can’t” I retorted. He doesn’t know me very well, that’s for sure.

There was a half-hour wait and then they had to fun some kind of scan on me. What they had injected into me was some kind of dye to tint my blood so that it would show up on this test thing and they could see how it was circulating when they scanned me.

Once they threw me out I had a two-hour wait before my next appointment – the regular one at the day centre. So what was on the dictaphone?

I was with my friend from Munich. We’d been working somewhere and it was the office outing. We collected a few bits and pieces up together, including my computer and went to the meeting point. Someone said that the coach had gone past but it would be back in half an hour. Half an hour later it turned up and we all boarded. The driver went to sit at the back so I asked if someone else from our office had a PSV licence. The driver replied “oh yes” so I tried to engage my friend and this woman in front in a conversation about it but they were far too busy talking amongst themselves. I was sitting by the window, rather trapped in. The coach eventually set off and I was looking out to sea. I saw something on the horizon, a large rectangular box bouncing around on the sea, then suddenly there was an enormous black cloud of smoke. I wondered if an aeroplane had crashed into the sea and broken up, and leaking fuel had been set alight. But no-one really noticed it except me. They were all far too busy talking. The driver said “that’s nothing to worry about” in a very dismissive tone.

Later on I’d been helping some old people who had a motor trade garage business to move out. They had tons of stuff going back to the 1920s and 30s and it all had to be moved as someone else was taking over their premises. We were moving all of this stuff that was ancient to put it somewhere else. All of a sudden someone turned up with a leaflet saying that the people who had taken over their premises had effectively said that they were taking over the business even though they hadn’t bought the goodwill or anything. This caused quite a stir and quite a problem for these old people with a vehicle but no premises of their own. One of the guys was fuming, going on about how he had been buying receipts to make his expenses look higher. The other guy was totally alarmed about him disclosing this, how it could have them both sent to prison. We ended up with this red double-decker bus. We had to go to the front and pull all of the bodywork and seats out so I went along as well. They were answering questions about this bus, a load of questions but the answers had nothing to do with reality. It was all starting to become very complicated

Once I was signed in at the day centre I had to wait about 45 minutes before they came to see me to couple me up to the transfusion.

Mind you, it was worth the wait because the nurse, called Amber, who came to couple me up can connect me to her equipment any time she likes. There have to be some compensations about being ill.

Having connected me up, they had to come and disconnect me 45 minutes later so I could go for my final appointment. For this, they fed me through something that looked like a time portal, back and forth for about 10 minutes.

They were telling me when (and when not) to breathe as they were doing it and to my shame, I fell asleep in the middle of it. That will make their results quite interesting.

Back at the day centre I was coupled up again to my transfusion and carried on with the treatment, which lasted until 18:30, about which I was not impressed.

The doctor didn’t have my results to hand but she told me that I was in a stable condition. Which probably means that they will want me to sleep with the horses.

Outside, I picked up my medication from the chemists and then headed for home, taking a few more photos of the illuminations around the town that you will get to see in due course.

But you’ll remember that ruined church on the way home. The door was open so I stuck my head inside and saw that some kind of exhibition was taking place. Just a I was about to take a photo some official told me to clear off, so off I cleared.

Back here I didn’t have much to do anything before Alison came round for a coffee and a chat. And she had bought me a Christmas present too. I would have bought her one but with being late out of the hospital everywhere was closed by the time I reached the town. But I promised her something for next time I come.

Tea was rather late as a consequence, and now I’m off to bed. With having to be at the hospital at 08:15 I have to leave here at 07:00 which means that I have to be up and about at 06:30.

So much for my post-treatment lie-in.

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.