Tag Archives: ann_m

Tuesday 29th March 2022 – WHILE YOU ADMIRE …

peccavi carteret trawlers baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022… various photos of various sea-going craft that were out and about on the water this afternoon, I’ll tell you about my somewhat depressing day today.

It couldn’t have got off to a worse start this morning. When the alarm went off at 07:30 I leant out of bed and switched it off. And the next thing that I remember was when it went off again at 08:00.

Although I didn’t go back to sleep at that point, it was … errr … somewhat later when I finally arose from the dead.

After I had taken my medication I came back in here to sit on my chair where I … errr … fell asleep again for 20 minutes.

cabin cruisers baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022Nevertheless, I awoke in time to prepare for my Welsh lesson today but there was actually no need because we didn’t finish the first lesson last week and we only just about reached the end of it today.

That’s because we spent much more time talking in this lesson and after my weekend course I was feeling much more confident about things. As a result the lesson passed quite well, to my surprise.

There was lunch as well and it seems that I might have miscalculated the bread issue. Even if there’s enough bread left for tomorrow, there won’t be enough for sandwiches on my journey tomorrow and I don’t want to take the bread out of the freezer just for a couple of slices.

What I’ll have to do is to make other plans for lunch on my travels.

ch933900 carteret jade 3 port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022After lunch, having fought off yet more sleep, I had a listen to where I’d been during the night.

I was a famous footballer in the days before I was famous and I’d fixed a car for one of my clubmates, a white 2000E with a black vinyl roof. I had it running really well and everyone came to see it. They stood there and listened to it. Someone noticed the ice in the radiator. I explained that it had only just gone in and it would melt but they all started making fun of this ice that was in there. Just then I was violently sick. This went on for 3 or 4 minutes that I was violently sick. Someone else who had a white 2000E came up, a footballer, and said “come with me. We’re going to the chemist. Apparently it was something to do with what I was eating. It was good for sport and energy but not for my general health. Someone went to fetch his car and beckoned to me get in it but I noticed that one of his rear lights was not working.

belle france joly france black pearl peccavi charlevy port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022I was then with a group of people last night in a house somewhere. One person was having trouble with his car so he set off and we followed him. He went down a hill, you could hear his car misfiring from here, and reached the bottom, pulled off and went round the roundabout underneath. It was obvious that he was still having problems. His car managed to go round the roundabout but he ended up in the wrong gear and tried to come back. He was struggling up the hill and an ancient Austin 7 went past. By the time we returned to the house the guy in the Austin 7 had checked the car over, adjusted the points and was giving him a few other suggestions about how he could improve the performance on his car like put a shaft in to connect the gear lever up to the flywheel, one or two other little things like that. They’d made a meal for me but first when I came in the offered me a cup of tea but I asked “what about everyone else for a cup of tea?”. I went to pour some tea for everyone and have mine with my meal in a couple of minutes.

omerta calean chant de sirenes trafalgar pierre de jade port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022I’d been to see people like those whom I knew from the Wirral and the like. We’d been talking about all meeting up in the States sometime at the end of the summer. Gradually there were just me and one of them left. We were on a petrol station. He was on his Harley Davidson, a gold one. I said goodbye to him and “see you in a couple of months”. He said “what?”. He’d plainly forgotten about this trip about which we’d been talking. I knew really that it wasn’t going to happen so I just thought that I’d mention the trip but without any real hope that it would actually come off. We were looking at all these electric motorcycles including tiny little 33cc ones. I was estimating how much time it would take me to return home on one of those, not because it could travel quickly but obviously it was so uncomfortable that you could never have a comfortable ride on a motorcycle so small as this. We had a look at the 50cc and 75cc ones but they didn’t seem to be all that much better. I set off home and as I walked out of this garage there was a blind spot for the security cameras where I could easily have picked up one of these motorbikes and walked off with it but I decided against it. I set off to walk home, interested to see how many hours it would take me so that I could compare it at some other time with one of these small motorbikes. I didn’t think that it would be any quicker because although you could move quicker, you’d need to spend more time recovering from the uncomfortable position.

Finally I’d been to see Morton playing but they’d been playing somewhere like Hamilton or Motherwell. I walked out of the ground down to the old A74 because the motorway hadn’t been built yet. I started to hitch a lift but there was no-one stopping for me to go home and I ended up in Stirling (don’t ask me how), walking through the town centre of Stirling at night. I thought that I’d better buy a few things to keep me going for the journey because it was a long way. I ended up talking to Louise, discussing changing part of a car. I showed her how to work a power bar backwards so that you didn’t have as long a swing but you could get more power on it. I was still a long way from home and working out how many hours it would take me to actually walk. I arrived at a figure of something like 80 hours if I didn’t have a lift.

person sitting on rock rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022That took me up to the time when I usually go out for my afternoon walk.

As usual, my first port of call was the wall at the end of the car park to see what was happening down there.

And there wasn’t all that much beach to be on this afternoon but there were rocks a-plenty and there was someone sitting down there like Piffy on … errr … a rock, acting as if she owned it.

There was quite a bit of mist out at sea again but as you have seen, there was plenty of maritime traffic today as well, with all of the fishing boats heading back to port this afternoon.

repointing medieval city walls place du marche au chevaux Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022However my mind was elsewhere this afternoon.

While I was looking down onto the beach, I could also see that there was plenty of activity going on this afternoon on the medieval city walls over at the Place du Marché aux Chevaux.

There were several people scrambling over the scaffolding, doing some pointing on the wall over there. And there’s plenty of it that needs to be done as well, but over the last couple of weeks since they seem to have made rapid progress.

They may well not be there for much longer, but then again I have said things like that before and been confounded.

storm ile de chausey baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022One thing is sure though, and that it that they may well not be there for much longer this afternoon.

Over at the Ile de Chausey is one of the most wicked storms that I’ve seen for quite a while and while, for a change, the wind isn’t all that strong, it won’t be too long before it’s upon us.

That’s really the cue for me to get a move on. I’ve no idea how long it’ll take for the storm to arrive but I don’t want to be caught out and about in it.

But at least I won’t be alone because there were several other people out and about. But I bet that they won’t be out and about for long.

people sitting on bench cabanon vauban pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022Nevertheless, there will be several people who will end up being taken by surprise by the rainstorm, if it does actually arrive.

Down here on the bench by the cabanon vauban, you can’t see over the top of the cliff and beyond the lighthouse and so the couple sitting down here won’t have any idea of what’s lurking out at sea. And it’s not exactly a place from where you can run easily, with all of the steps and the muddy path.

But then I suppose that they can always shelter inside the cabanon if necessary.

Leaving them to it, I headed off down the path on top of the headland towards the port to see what was going on there.

chausiaise port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022You’ve seen all of the fishing boats lined up waiting, either to unload at the fish processing plant or for the gates to the inner harbour to open.

But I was more intrigued to see what was happening with Chausiaise. She’s currently moored at the pontoon where many of the fishing boats tie up so they aren’t going to be too pleased to see her there.

And she has her crane extended too so there’s something going on with her right now.

Back home I made myself a coffee and then made another start on the photos from the High Arctic in 2019.

Right now we’re anchored off Devon Island and I’m stuck – there’s a hill there by the old RCMP post at Dundas Harbour where there’s a memorial monument. And I know the name of this hill – it’s named after a sailor on Belcher’s expdition of 1852 but can I think of his name?

To try to think, I had a good spell on the guitar but it didn’t work and even now, as I’m about to go to bed I still can’t think of his name.

Tea was a left-over curry which was delicious and then I came in here to write up my notes. And I had an interruption as well. I seem to be in great demand just recently and I don’t understand why because it’s not the usual state of affairs as far as I am concerned.

But all of that is for another time. I’m going to have a quiet play on the guitar and then I’m off to bed. I have the doctor in the morning and the physiotherapist in the afternoon. And then on Thursday I’m off on my travels again.

There’s no holding me back right now.

Wednesday 2nd March 2022 – IN WHAT MUST SURELY …

repairing bicycle shelter place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022… be a new world record even for these days, the new bike shed didn’t last very long.

Not even 15 hours, because when I came home from the doctor’s this morning, the guy who was there yesterday installing it had returned and was now busy dismantling … “disPERSONing” – ed … it again.

Whatever he had done yesterday was clearly not good enough.

It’s not as if building a bike shed is rocket science so there’s no reason why he would need to take it apart again. But all that I can say is that I’m glad that I didn’t take my bike out of the back of Caliburn last night and park it in there.

There has been other news too today, and this news is equally depressing. At 12:00 midday all over France they tested the nuclear alert sirens, not that there’s anywhere these days to hide if there’s a nuclear attack.

We are living in interesting times.

fete foraine place herel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022So while you admire some photos of the fête foraine, the funfair, let me tell you about where I went during the night.

I was out on the Wirral peninsula last night. I’d been there before and I’d seen all of these kids coming out of school. There was a bus stop by three different schools, judging by the uniforms. I’d seen some kinds in another street, a residential suburban street and I wondered where on earth it might have been. I was looking for the house of a girl I know and her brother. I was wandering around and I only had the street name but I didn’t have the number or the ‘phone number and I didn’t even know exactly where it was so I had to find it on the map on my phone or something. I was walking around and suddenly came across a place in a street that went from north-east to south-west where I might have seen these children congregating but on a closer look it wasn’t actually the same place but pretty similar. Then I bumped into a little boy and a little girl. They were extremely talkative. They asked me what I was doing so I said that I was looking for this street that might have been called Allison Avenue, something like that, She said “oh, that lot of streets” as if she knew where it was. She said “why don’t you go to the end of the street here and look left? You can see all the way down the road to Liverpool from here”. I thought “maybe if I had time, I might but I don’t know where I have to go yet”. I started to quiz this girl but just then 2 other people came past and started to ask her something and she was talking to them. I was holding this girl’s arm by this time and I started to stroke it basically to keep her attention focused on me while she was talking to these 2 people.

fete foraine place herel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022And later I was at a football match last night, watching a game sitting in the stand quite quietly. The ground was pretty full and these 2 boys were sitting next to me and started to crowd over onto my seat. They asked me if I was enjoying the game etc. The one in the middle asked “who was the hardest? me or his friend?”. I eplied that I don’t know his friend so I can’t really say. Then a fight erupted between the three of us and it was all extremely depressing kind of thing.

And then I was in my Opel Senator last night, using it as a taxi. I was parked up somewhere in Brussels and some guy who had at one time been a regular passenger in my taxi turned up. He said “we want to borrow your taxi for a moment to have” and about 10 of his friends stormed into it. They wouldn’t leave when I told them to so I went to ‘phone the police but my ‘phone kept on playing up – I couldn’t remember the password or the password was wrong or the ‘phone screen wasn’t working, all kinds of things like this. No matter what I tried I couldn’t make these people leave my car.

fete foraine place herel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022Finally, I’d been out with some of my family again. I’d been out on a motorbike but I had my beige Cortina YLO with me. I was in an awful hurry to leave but they were loitering around. I was sitting there drumming my fingers on the table but my motorbike by now I’d actually coupled it up to the Cortina with a A-frame and so I set off on the motorbike pulling the car from Shavington. When I looked behind, the family was following me so I went quite quickly through the S-bends in Gresty, putting the motorbike well down to go round these bends towing the Cortina. I could hear tham say that I must be crazy or something. I arrived in Crewe and ended up in a subway somewhere. I had to cycle (because it was now a bike, that of Marianne’s that I was on) up the hill to the street-level but the gearing was all wrong on this bike. I couldn’t make it up the slope. No matter how fast I pedalled, it wasn’t advancing any. I had to roll back to the bottom of the slope on this bike pulling this car and then play with the gear arrangements on this bike in order to find the correct gear that would see me, the bike and the car back up the hill again and onto the street level so that we could continue.

But as you can see, it wasn’t a very pleasant night last night and in some respects I was glad when I awoke. That was actually quite early and I was out of bed as soon as the alarm went off at 07:30.

After the medication I went off to have a shower and a good clean-up ready to go to the doctor’s.

loading joly france ferry terminal port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022When I reached the corner of the Boulevard des 2E et 202E de Ligne and the Boulevard Vaufleury, I stopped to check the NIKON 1 J5.

Over at the ferry terminal was one of the Joly France boats, the older one of the two. And they were loading her up with stuff, judging my the crane with its hook dangling down into the forward hold of the boat.

It’s not exactly the best day of the year for a run out to the Ile de Chausey. It’s quite cool and windy and I’m well-wrapped up for a change.

lysandre les bouchots de chausey la grande ancre fish processing plant port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022While I was there at the viewpoint I noticed that there was plenty of activity going on down at the fish processing plant.

No prizes for spotting La Grande Ancre. Her silhouette is quite unique and you’ll be able to spot her anywhere.

Whoever is behind her I don’t know, but in front of her is Les Bouchots de Chausey unloading its catch onto the tractor and trailer that takes it away.

And just puling away from the quayside is Lysandre, the St Malo-registered shell-fishing boat that comes into port here every now and again.

marite thora belle france joly france port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022There’s quite a lot of activity going on at the quayside in the inner harbour too.

Marité is there of course, but in front of her is Thora, one of the little Jersey freighters that run a regular service over here. Before she came to Jersey, she was a car ferry out in the Shetland Islands.

The other Joly France boat is down there in the foreground, tied up to Belle France. And if I’m not mistaken, Chausiaise is moored up on the other side of her. They can’t have much on today.

At the doctors he gave me my prescription for the Aranesp that pumps me up ready for when I go to Leuven, and also a prescription for an X-Ray on my knee. I’m not sure if I mentioned that the physiotherapist is of the opinion that there has been no improvement to my knee despite 6 months of effort.

“That’s not normal” she had told me, and that’s no surprise because neither am I.

Ther does however seem to have been some kind of communication between him and the hospital, because he also mentioned that counselling is a good idea for me. So God help the person who draws the short straw and has to probe the depths of my subconscious mind.

He has however given me some tablets to take before I go to bed. I’ll try them to see how they go but if it interrupts my nocturnal rambles I shall stop. Quite frankly, what goes on with me during the night is about the only excitement that I have these days.

Plenty of excitement at the chemists though when I took the prescription there. Some French woman was complaining about this that wasn’t right in France and that wasn’t right in France, so I asked her if she would like to swap her French nationality for my British nationality.

Some people don’t realise how lucky they are.

tiberiade port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022On the way back up the hill I noticed to my surprise that Tiberiade was not out of the chantier naval.

It doesn’t look though as if she’s had a complete repaint. There are still plenty of patches of wear on her hull. She doesn’t have her nets on board though either, so she’s not completely ready to go back out to sea.

As for me, I was more than completely ready for my morning coffee and slice of coffee cake. I’d made it all the way up the hill without stopping for breath and I was pretty exhausted. None of these health issues are doing me any good, but you knew that anyway.

repairing bicycle shelter place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022Goinf past the bike shed I noticed that the guy had gone and taken all of the innards with him.

All I can say is that that didn’t last very long, did it?

Back here I had a coffee and my cake and then attacked the dictaphone notes. As I said earlier, it wasn’t a very happy night by all accounts

After lunch, I was back out again. This time to the physiotherapist. She’s back from her holiday and it’s her birthday today too.

peche a pied port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022Once more, I stopped at the viewpoint at the corner of the Boulevard des 2E et 202E de Ligne and the Boulevard Vaufleury to check the camera again.

Right out at the entrance to the harbour there were some people out there wandering around as if they were engaged in the peche à pied.

And as I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … with all of the stuff that is probably dropped and churned up by the boats that come in and out of the harbour, that’s the last place that I would look for shellfish.

By the time that I arrived at the physiotherapist’s, I was melting. It had warmed up dramatically and I was in my winter coat. But anyway she used a machine to massage my knee and then to finish off she had me doing a few exercises.

vegan cheese vegan dessert lidl Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022After I left the physio I went round to LIDL to pick up a few bits and pieces. With going to Leuven next week I’m not shopping on Saturday.

And here’s an astonishing thing that I haven’t noticed before. Vegan cheese slices – and “English” (presumably Red Leicester) too.

Of course I’ve no idea what they might be like but the vegan deserts aren’t as good as they might be so I’m not too optimistic. However, if no-one buys the stuff they won’t stock any more vegan food so they need some kind of encouragement.

If it melts, it might be good for cheese on toast and there’s only one way to find that out, isn’t there?

new building rue victor hugo rue st paul Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022On the way back I had a look again at the new building that was going on at the corner of the Rue Victor Hugo and the Rue St Paul.

They don’t seem to have made a great deal of progress since we saw them last, but the road must be closed for some good purpose that isn’t easily apparent.

At the bottom of the hill is the funfair – the fête foraine – so I went for a wander around there for 10 minutes. It’s not as good as it might be when it’s all lit up but I’m already on 105% of my daily activity and I’m not going out again in the dark.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022Back here at the building I can’t go inside until I’ve seen what’s happening down on the beach.

By the time that I came back I was rather later than usual but there was still some beach to be on and there were a few people down there actually on it. They were probably enjoying the warm weather.

Back in here I had a coffee and then I had some work to do. We’re doing a series of programmes on the Ukraine and I spent an hour or so tracking down some Ukrainian rock groups. One of them burst into the limelight thanks to an appearance that they made at a concert in Lviv and I actually managed to track down the concert too

Now I shall have to brush up my Russian because this concert was in pre-independence days and it’s 30 years since my last trip to Eastern Europe.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that years ago I used to work for a coach company that won a contract to take tourists behind the Iron Curtain. As I fancied the job as driver, I found a local woman who spoke Russian and she taught me the basics, most of which I have forgotten.

While I was at it I also came across a friend of a friend of a friend who has a daughter in the Ukraine and I’ve been trying to set up an interview for the radio. But that’s not easy, as you can imagine.

Another thing that I did was to bash out a few more photos from my trip to the High Arctic in 2019. Where has this energy come from?

Tea tonight was a potato and mushroom curry, and then I came back in here to write up my notes – and to make a long ‘phone call to Florida. My network of contacts stretches throughout the world and it’s just as well, with all of this going on.

Friday 11th February 2022 – THAT WAS A …

… horrible night last night.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I went to bed fairly early hoping to have a really good sleep. However at about 23:00 a party started up in one of the University houses at the back here.

At at 04:30 they were still at it and I hadn’t had a moment of sleep.

Eventually I must have dropped off because when I awoke, at 09:35, there were four files on the dictaphone. I was with my youngest sister last night. To my surprise we were actually boyfriend and girlfriend. We were on a bus doing a lap around a football ground so that we could watch the game but it was almost impossible to see it no matter where I moved to or where I sat or where I went. I tried to sit in all kinds of places. On one occasion I saw the goalkeeper catch the ball but it was behind the line so I indicated that it was a goal. He thought that the ball had come through the side netting into his hands. it was very much a one-sided match. That American guy Lamela was playing and someone said “look what they would have missed had he gone to Celtic”. Eventually the bus stopped because it was half-time. I hoped to find a better seat when everyone had got off. Then I noticed that just round the corner was a petrol station so I said to her “do you want to come along and have a coffee? See if they have a coffee there”. She was searching through her money – she had plenty there, all £10 notes. In the end off we went. She wasn’t very talkative and I had the impression that she wasn’t very happy. We went past a fish and chip shop so I said “would you like a bag of chips as well?” but it turned out to be a place that made venetian blinds. There was something going on about fires at football grounds and they were talking about Airdrie that had been burnt to a cinder and several other grounds where they had had fires, how at Dundee they’d had a big fire but it wasn’t the case at all of an opportunist suspicious fire because the chairman was young, keen and energetic and it had taken him years to rebuild his fortune after the fire even if the club had been refused planning permission to re-erect a stand and how many of their supporters had died in the fire. As they were explaining, my sister asked “how long do we have?”. I replied “normally 15 minutes”. I wondered how much of that time had already passed so I said “as long as it takes if we grab a coffee and are quick back”.

By now I was with Zero and the two of us were at some kind of water park or adventure park. What I’d heard was that they were going to freeze over a waterfall or part of it so that we could go skiing on it. I contacted my friends from the Wirral to see if they wanted to come. Sure enough, they turned up so I went to meet them while Zero was visiting this waterfall walking exercise. She was obviously having a whale of a time. They turned up but for some reason they weren’t very happy at all. My friend’s wife wandered off on her own and he hung around for a minute and then asked “do you want to have a beer or something and I have to go back to the car or something” and walked off in order to get a panda. Zero was enjoying herself but this was coming to an end and they were going to freeze over the waterfall so I had to find the wife. I walked all the way up this slope but I couldn’t see her. I bumped into a few people whom I knew and told them what was happening. They said “surely your friends will turn up to go skiing”. I said “no, they are coming up now”. I walked all the way up the hill but couldn’t find her at all. She had disappeared. Someone said “she’s just walked past at the end of the water wheel” so I decided to turn round and walk back to see if she was there. In the meantime all the kids came off this lake-walking thing so I thought that I’d better go and find Zero otherwise she’ll be the next person who is going to be lost.

I stepped right back into this dream again. The husband turned up and the discussion went on about porridge for breakfast. I offered him some porridge but he thought that it wasn’t porridge but something else. I was absolutely certain that it was porridge and I couldn’t understand why it was that he was saying something different

There had been some kind of incident on Moathouse Drive in Crewe. Someone had been arrested for it and I had to go along and give evidence. I was there making my statement and the person was brought in behind me to make their statement and it was my little Inuit friend from Uummannaq. While she made her statement I waited for her. I had a look round while I was waiting and came across a map of the High Arctic islands in Nunavut. When she finished giving her evidence I said that I’d take her home. I knew where she lived. I showed her this map, explaining to her about the Inuit in Canada and the outlying islands and she was extremely interested. She had some kind of pet like a mongoose or a weasel, something like that, and it was running around inside this room. I had to catch it and that wasn’t easy. It was a persistent animal. In the end I caught it and we both set off. Somehow I ended up back at my house alone with this animal. I let it loose inside my house, my house in Winsford. I’m not quite sure how it happened after that but with me having an empty room in my house and my brother living in all kinds of strange circumstances I ought to invite him to come and stay but it didn’t quite work out like that and I can’t remember how it finished.

After the medication I spent much of the day working on the remaining music for the next batch of radio programmes. All five of them are now prepared and there’s some good music in there.

There were several breaks of course, Breakfast, lunch, and then a couple of chats with Liz and Alison.

Later on I went for a walk around the town to stretch my legs.

dismantling market stall herbert hooverplein leuven belgium Eric Hall photo February 2022My route took me down the Teinsestraat and into the Herbert Hooverplein.

It’s market day this morning and the square, and the adjacent Monseigneur Ladeuzeplein are swamped with stalls, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall having seen in the past but at the start of the afternoon they begin to pack everything up.

When I arrived this afternoon I was just in time to see the last couple of stalls being dismantled.

At FNAC there was nothing there that interested me. I had half a mind to buy a new voice recorder to replace my old Sony but they didn’t have anything at all.

With nothing that I needed to buy particularly, I didn’t go into ay other shop but instead headed across town to Origin’o, the vegan shop, for some more grated cheese, some vegan sausages and a dessert for Saturday night’s tea

rebuilding medieval city walls handbooghof leuven belgium Eric Hall photo February 2022On the way back into town I came back via the Handbooghof to have a look at the repairs to the city walls around there

There isn’t actually very much to see because of the high fence that they have built around it. Apart from the decoration on the fence, we can make out something of what they have been doing and the different types of brick and stone that have been used.

Sourcing the material to rebuild it can’t have been easy though because I imagine that like most similar places, the walls will have been used as a quarry during the expansion of the town in the past.

At Delhaize there was a disaster. They had run out of the banana-flavoured soya drink that I love. I’ve had to make do with chocolate but it really isn’t the same.

Back here I crashed out for an hour or so, even before I had time to make myself a coffee. I’m not coping too well with things at the moment and the bad night just about finished me off.

So now that I’ve had tea I’m off for a very early night. Grab a few hours sleep before the party starts up again tonight.

Wednesday 10th November 2021 – MARITÉ IS BACK …

marité port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021… in port after her little adventure filming whatever it was that she had been filming during the week.

She crept back in on the morning tide and is now happily moored back in her habitual berth and the trawler Saint Gaud has cleared off elsewhere.

Caliburn is back too, but not for very long. The examiner at the Controle Technique didn’t like the crack in the windscreen that’s been there for five years and through four previous controles technique without so much as a mention.

He also needs his headlights polishing too so I’ll go out there with some toothpaste and an old toothbrush to deal with that one day later in the week.

And if I don’t have a decent sleep some time soon I won’t be here for very long either. You can tell just how disturbed it was by the entries on the dictaphone. I started out on my way to Court last night to defend myself against a VAT assessment. I’ve no idea why except that it was something quite old and I hadn’t a clue what it was so I’d just taken a pile of pens and notepaper to write down notes. I found an empty bench and went to sit down and started to rehearse my case. The judge who was sitting at his desk told me not to rehearse my case at all so that confused me even more.

Later on I’d been tidying up a huge pile of papers that were all over the floor, books and everything. It was getting worse and worse the more that I tried to tidy up, everything like that. No matter how much I tried, there was more and more stuff to unpack. Then there was something to do with a couple of friends who came round. We ended up driving back towards Manchester. We were talking about music but the guy wasn’t really listening to what I was saying so I didn’t say very much. When we returned we measured my wall out and found that there were a couple of plssterboards that were too low and needed building up. I took one off the wall to give to him. The we started talking about do he and his wife want to come round for tea or maybe a meal or something and put back the plasterboard but they had to have a look at all the food supplies they had lying around, put it away and see what went into the fridge and let me know

Some time later there was a netball match being played last night. I was on one team. It was strange that everyone except one player was packed into the defensive circle of his own team so there was only me and one girl from the other team playing upfield. We were playing with balloons and I had the upper hand but every time I passed the ball over to the pack to try to get it into the hoop the balloon burst and they had to produce another one. Some balloons were better than others and we never seemed to be making any headway with this. It was all just playing this netball in this one particular area trying to get into the attacking semi-circle

Finally there had been a new road built from Nantwich so although Chester was posted straight on down Welsh Row, Tarporley was for some reason posted off to the right on this new road. A little later on there was a girl driving an Austin A40 in nantwich who was heading towards Tarporley. She decided to take this new road to find out why it didn’t go on down Welsh Row towards Tarporley. At some point she’d parked up her car and was having a huge row with someone. She said something like “my car’s far too new to abandon just like that and walked back to get in her car to carry on down this road. I was there because I was interested in taking photos of the signposts to find out exactly what was happening.

After the medication and checking my mails and messages I cracked on with a pile of dictaphone notes from the backlog.

A few more days have been added to the updating and there’s another pile of notes ready to follow that lot tomorrow morning too. It kept me busy for for most of the morning and there’s only four days left to transcribe now.

They aren’t going to be done as quickly as I would like either because by now my turbulent phase was in full swing are there are mounds and mounds of stuff.

There were a couple of breaks in the middle of all of this.

home made bread place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021Firstly, I’d almost run out of bread here. And I’d almost run out of yeast too so I had to go with what I had.

For a change I spent quite some time kneading and rolling my dough and it’s come out quite well again. I must remember this technique for the future.

It actually tasted quite nice too and it would have been even better had it had more yeast in it. But I think that the mixture could have benefited from a little more water in it.

The second interruption was the nurse. He couldn’t come on Monday so he came today instead and gave me my Aranesp injection and also my ‘flu injection.

Now i’m injected to the hilt and safe against every known disease, so i’ll probably be run down by a bus as well.

While I was waiting for the bread to cool down I went to take a shower. And my weight is slowly going down. I could make it go down even quicker but experience has shown me that the quicker it comes off, the quicker it goes back on.

omerta port de granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021Having finished lunch I set the washing machine off and then set out for the physiotherapist, taking the NIKON 1 J5 with me.

L’Omerta was still moored up at the wharf underneath the fish processing plant, something that seems to be becoming a regular occurrence these days.

Strangely enough, I’d forgotten how to use the little camera and it took me a while to remember. It’s only been four months as well.

These days, my memory is becoming terrible. I keep on telling people that two things happen to you you when you reach my age.

  1. You forget absolutely everything that there is to forget
  2. I can’t remember what the second thing is


fishing boats victor hugo port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021While I was still finding my feet with the camera (I don’t ‘arf do some strange things) I noticed that the inner harbour was strangely deserted.

It seems as if all of the big trawlers and most of the little inshore fishing boats were out at sea this afternoon. There were just a few of the smaller inshore boats left behind – and L’Omerta of course.

But Victor Huge and Granville are still there too. A sad casualty of the Channel Islanders’ willingness to leap aboard the Brexit bandwagon despite the fact that, never having been in the EU, Brexit is nothing to do with them, has been the ferries that for a couple of centuries have been running between here and there.

One of the reasons why I came here was for the ferries – a good chance to exercise my sea-legs – but it’s turned out not to be.

pointing Rampe du Monte à Regret Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021Last time that we came down the hill in the Rue des Juifs we saw them erecting a scaffolding to enable them to continue the repointing on the wall at the Rampe du Monte à Regret that they abandoned a while back.

By now it’s all up and they have actually started work. And it doesn’t look to me as if they are apprentices or work experience trainees either but proper time-served employees.

That’s a shame really because there are so many traditional crafts that are rapidly dying out with no-one to carry them on.

To promote this kind of thing amongst the young and the jobless is a really good way of building up a reservoir of skilled workmen and women with a trade that is a meaningful and valuable occupation.

woman speaking into microphone rue couraye Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021Down the hill, through the town centre and back up the hill on the other side to the physiotherapist..

It would have given me great pleasure (well, a lot of things would, actually) to have said that I went all the way without stopping but I did actually stop once in the Rue Couraye – just to take a photograph though, not to catch my breath.

The woman was standing on the side of the road with a professional microphone into which she was talking and which seemed to be connected to something in the rear of that car.

Whatever that was about, I have no idea.

The physiotherapist had me doing kinetic exercises again because someone else was using the tilting platform. And right at the end she had me staning on something just 10cms wide, one foot behind the other while she threw balls at me to catch.
“your reflexes are really good” she said. Well, she didn’t. She actually said “vos reflèxes sont vachement bien”

It wasn’t for me to disillusion her by telling her that I spent much of my spare time in my teens and 20s as a goalkeeper and later as a wicket-keeper.

After she threw me out, then biting the bullet I headed off on foot to rescue Caliburn, stopping at Aldi on the way for a can of energy drink.

It’s all uphill to the garage – not very steep but long, long, long and it took it out of me but I made it there in the end.

Having paid the bill I went to collect Caliburn only to find that the battery was flat. One of the guys at the garage gave me a jump-start and so I went for a good long drive to put some juice back into the battery.

It was my intention to go to the shops for food but I didn’t fancy the idea of trying to have a jump start on a supermarket car park.

Back here I put the spare battery on charge just in case he won’t start tomorrow and then went to make a coffee. It was at that point that I realised that tomorrow is a Bank Holiday. I hope that one of the supermarkets in town will be open tomorrow morning.

There were some mushrooms lying around looking sorry for themselves in the fridge so I made another delicious curry with them. These ad-hoc curries with whatever is lying around are turning out to be quite nice.

So now I’m off to bed, to see where else I might be going tonight. And, more to the point, and more importantly too, who’s going with me. I’ve been having a few interesting partners on my travels just now and it’s a shame that they aren’t here in real life.

Friday 17th September 2021 – AFTER YESTERDAY’S …

… exertions it was no surprise to anyone that I was in bed by 20:45. But the difficulty whenever I do that is that I’m usually awake quite early and so I never seem to take advantage of it.

But if anyone thinks that I’m going to be out of bed at 05:40 and doing things when there’s no alarm set, they are totally mistaken. Even 07:20 was rather early but there’s no point in staying in bed if I can’t go back to sleep

At 09:00 I nipped downstairs to the “Match” supermarket in the basement for my bread for lunch. And some drink too. I’ve already finished off the 1.5 litres of iced tea and 2 litres of banana-flavoured soya drink that I brought on Wednesday night.

Back up in my room I finished off my notes from yesterday and then had a listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night. I was with a couple of friends and we were discussing, of all things, rape. The girl said something like “rapists should all go on strike and down tools”. I replied that if all rapists downed tools, there wouldn’t be any such thing as rape at all. And despite the gravity of the subject, I was pretty impressed that I could come out with a pun like that while I was asleep.
Later on there was an issue about a socket not working. I immediately reckoned that there was a bad joint somewhere and the first joint that I tested came apart when I pulled it I was with a guy whom I knew so I asked him if he would hold a lamp at the socket while I held the wires togeter to see if this was the bad joing in question but he refused. I had to run off and try to find a light with a plug that would fit in the socket and try it myself.
Even later Rosemary was asking me about the Battle of Rhedae. I knew that it had taken place on the outskirts of Clermont Ferrand (which it didn’t – I was thinking of the Battle of Gergovie) so I went to fetch my Michelin guide to the Puy de Dome and had a good search through but couldn’t find it in there, which was no surprise seeing as Rhedae, which is these days believed by many to the the town of Quillan, is in the Razès in South West France.

class 18 electric locomotives gare de Leuven railway station Belgium Eric Hall photo September 2021While I was busy working I was keeping an eye on what was going on outside down on the station.

At a certain moment a train from Oostende pulled into the station just as a train from Eupen and Welkenraedt pulled in on its way to Oostende.

But of them were powered by the typical Class 18 electric locomotives. The one from Eupen, furthes away from the camera, is being pulled by a locomotive whose number I can’t see, and the one from Oostende, closes to the camera, is being pushed by locomotive number 1819.

aeroplane going in to land brussels airport zaventem Belgium Eric Hall photo September 2021What else I could see from my window were aeroplanes flying from right to left just above the horizon.

Way over to the left is the Brussels National Airport at Zaventem. All of these aeroplanes are on the flightpath going into land there and there were quite a few too. At one stage I counted one every three or four minutes.

When I lived in Schaerbeek back in the early 1990s my apartment looked out right across to the airport way out in the distance and the aeroplanes that came in to land were clearly visible at night with their landling lights illuminated. They would come into land right in line head-on to my apartment and the view was fantastic.

universitaire ziekenhuis Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo September 2021Another thing that you could see from my window up here on the 5th floor was the Universitaire Ziekenhuis Leuven, the University Hospital of Leuven.

That’s the building, or buildings, I should maybe say, over there on the skyline on the right-hand side of the photo. And this photo will give you some idea of the size of the hospital. It’s one of the biggest in Europe, if not the World.

The thing that impressed me about this hospital is that while most hospitals give instructions zbout how to arrive there from the town centre, this hospital give directions from the airport.

It’s truly a cosmopolitan hospital and that’s what I want. Many hospitals and medical services are quite chauvinistic about their treatment, but not so the Belgians. They aren’t afraid to mention medical research that is being undergone in other countries.

class 21 electric locomotive gare de Leuven railway station Belgium Eric Hall photo September 2021Another thing that I noticed pulling into the station was a rather elderly Class 21 locomotive.

These first came into service in the mid-80s, with 144 taking to the rails. There are Class 11s, Class 12s, Class 21s and Class 27s, with the latter being the most powerful and the former being the least powerful.

They were built by the Belgian BN/ACEC combine which is now no longer in business. And so since the Class 18s have arrived, these are gradually being withdrawn and dismantled as a source of spares for the big Class 27s.

Something else that came through the staion that I wasn’t quick enough to photograph, much to my regret was one of the new Bombardier-Alstom “M7” double deck multiple units that are currently on proving trials on the Belgian network. That would have been quite a thing.

With a nice quiet day I ought to have done so much more too but unfortunately much of the time was spent curled up on my bed having a little relax. No point in fighting it.

Later in the evening I caught a bus that took me out to Alison Wonderland, as her new home is called. She had some falafel left over from her barbecue so I cooked it while she went to the fritkot down the road for a bag of chips.

We had a nice meal and lengthy chat, and instead of singing for my supper I helped her move some heavy furniture around.

Once I’d recovered my strength Alison drove me home. I was totally exhaused and so with an early start tomorrow, instead of writing up my notes I crawled into bed and that was that.

Sunday 15th August 2021 – THE OTHER DAY …

belle france baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall… when discussing all of the boats that were out there on the water, I believe that I mentioned how I would love to be out there when the harbour gates are near closing, in order to witness the stampede as the boats all headed back for port.

And sure enough, this afternoon I had my wish, and a lot sooner than I was expecting as well. The tide is advancing quite rapidly and even though this is my usual time to be out, you can see the mad dash for home already.

Belle France is well up there in second place to that cabin cruiser in front, but on the outside there’s a speedboat coming incredibly quickly, making quite a wave as he does so.

boats heading for harbour port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallRound on the pther side of the headland, things are much more advanced.

There are at least five and maybe even more small boats in the photo just here, all dashing for the port de plaisance while they still are able to do so.

Nobody would want to be stranded out in the bay during the night, especially if they have work to go to in the morning.

Not too many people out on the sea wall watching them though. I would have expected this to have been one of the best free entertainments going.

Last night I did without any kind of entertainment – free or otherwise – after the football. At the final whistle I staggered off to bed and that was that.

At 06:19 I was awake but if anyone thinks that I’ll be leaving my bed at that time of day on a Sunday they are mistaken. Even 09:10 is a bit optimistic. 10:40 is much more like it.

Ordinarily I would have said that that was a good sleep but there is tons of stuff on the dictaphone so I must have been quite disturbed (as if I’m not disturbed enough as it it).

I started off at the home of a couple of friends last night, doing a load of moving for them or something like that. I’d gone to her office room to talk to her but she was busy on the phone so I went into his office room kind of thing and he wasn’t there. I thought that I would wait for him to come back and I started listening to music and I thought “He has loads of LPs so I’m sure that he has loads of live cast-offs that would do for a live concert”. There was a box of strawberries and cream by the side of his computer and I was busy eating my way through those and scrolling through his Facebook screen. Suddenly I saw a message that he had sent me about Welsh Premier League football and I could see my reply under there. I thought that I’d better not be confused in this subject comes up again because I’ll be replying as someone else instead of me and reading my own replies. When they did come down they looked so young and it was very hard for me to believe that it was them. I couldn’t believe it. They were talking about everything, about how we don’t need to go out for a meal tonight but we can go for breakfast tomorrow somewhere. I said that my partner (and I couldn’t think of her name) was having to teach this afternoon but I’d been watching “Alfie” and this started off with some guys going to rob the home of a policewoman or something but the robbery had all gone wrong and several policemen in there and there had ended up being a gunfight and all these guys had gone to prison and been sent down for an enormous length of time. The Michael Caine character had to flee the country with his girlfriend and she was telling him all this bad news about everything else that was connected with this but still going wrong. He was pretty powerless where he was to actually do anything about it

This flat (and I wish that I knew which flat is was that I was discussing) is ideal for the kind of thing for a weekend retreat where you can come away from Paris on Friday and be here Friday night, and not have to go back until Sunday night and spend every weekend down by the sea.

A little later I was on my way to a football match and I arrived in Chester and was running late so I had to take a taxi. I went to the local rank but there were only little electric telephone box-type cars so I said to a guy standing near it “is that yours?”. Another guy immediately leapt out of a vehicle and asked “taxi?”. I replied “yes but just give me a minute to make a phone call. Is there a phone handy?”. I had a discount card that I needed to ring up to book. he showed me over to a phone but said “there’s still 12 minutes left on the meter. Where do you want to go? I said “Deva Road” so he replied “come on. We’ll get there before this runs out”. He ushered me into a red Rover V8 and drove me there. We had a bit of a laugh in the snow about how uneconomical his car was, everything. He said that it wasn’t that bad. As I got up the steps to the football ground, I did a bit of shopping and started to walk back. I didn’t go to the game at all if there had been one.

A group of travellers turned up in Palestine, amongst them a three year old boy that was donated by some parent in some emergency but when they got to Palestine they didn’t have a clue as to what they were going to do so they built some kind of meeting centre or something like that to show at least that they weren’t going to waste any time.

Somewhere as well there was a story of two 9-year-old girls who used to go around all these rock festivals and blues festivals filming the events. Their mother would form them into some kind or promotional video. I was there somewhere with a girl and I introduced her to people like John Hite and someone who wrote a lot of songs, Creedence Clearwater Revival (do I mean Bob Hite of Canned Heat?). I said “there you are, you have to meet John Hite and a few others and that’s something to tell your friends, isn’t it?”. She replied “most of my friends wouldn’t even know who people like that are”.

Later I woke up in a panic thinking that it was 16:00 and I had a flight back to Europe in an hour and I had so much to do. I grabbed all of my things and shot off to the airport and then spent quite a lot of time trying to find a place to sit down and sort myself out and pack everything. A couple of people came to join me and we were talking about the lack of seats in this place. The discussion drifted on to airports in North Carolina and the rudimentary facilities there, some experience that I could share with these two people as well.

As well as all of this, someone had asked me to do some tiling for him. I’m not very good at tiling but I went along to have a look. At my place I’d tiled on top of a piece of lino so I found a piece of lino and cut to size and cleaned up but instead of using soap I’d used fat and it made a right mess of everywhere so I had to take it out. There was fat all over the floor so I prepared to mop it up. Then he came in. He hadn’t really twigged on what was going on but he was inspecting it as much as he could and how I knew what was going to be done to the right size so that I’d cut off a piece of lino as a template. He went to look at it. I told him that it was wet so he said “we’d better open it out to dry” so he opened it out on his balcony. He asked me “your insurance liability is up to date, isn’t it?” Unfortunately I didn’t have any and I was beginning to regret having said that I would do this job for him the way that he was going on like this.

After the medication I came back in here to check my mail and then I went off to have a look at the view now that the tide is on its way out.

boats baie de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd that’s the view that greeted me looking out across the Baie de Granville and the English Channel this morning.

After the really wonderful few days that we have had, summer is now apparently over and we are back in winter again.

It’s pretty pointless trying to look for car ferries and sailing ships in that lot just there. It was raining too, the first time for about a week, and that didn’t help matters at all. We could have had Godzilla and the Loch Ness Monster out there this morning and I wouldn’t have seen them.

rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThe view down the coast was, if anything, even worse.

We can just about make out the white beach huts on the promenade at the Plat Gousset but our view doesn’t go very much beyond there right now. The Rue du Nord is swathed in raincloud too.

Hopefully the view will be better on the other side of the headland in the lee of the wind. The rain might not have reached there yet.

spirit of conrad aztec lady port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd while we might not have any rain, the view isn’t all that much better, which is a shame.

However Aztec Lady is back in town. She’s the blue boat over there that goes on a few exciting voyages every so often, although the current travel regulations have curtailed much of the more interesting sailings.

To her left, bow-end on to the camera is Spirit of Conrad, the boat on which we went down the Brittany coast last year. The last time that I’d heard of her, she was over at the Ile de Chausey but I met her skipper yesterday so I assumed that she had come home.

suzanga baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnother boat that was on her way home this morning in all of the bad weather is the trawler Suzanga.

She’s the new boat in town, having only recently arrived from the shipbuilders in Turkey, and she’s already out there earning her keep.

That’s several new trawlers that have joined the local fleet since I’ve been living here. It shows that contrary to all expectations, the local ship owners are rather optimistic about the future of the fishing industry here, and that’s always quite a good sign.

Positive thinking seems to be in rather short supply these days among some people.

zodiac port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallDespite the miserable weather, there’s plenty of activity in port this morning which is nice to see.

There were several zodiacs loitering aroind in the neighbourhood, almost as if there was a cruise ship like THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR anchored somewhere offshore.

But the girl who was driving this one came in, went up to the harbour wall, said something to a few people and then turned round and sailed back out again. So what was that all about then?

passengers boarding zodiac port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallMeanwhile I could see the heads of some other people down there and they looked as if they were sitting in a zodiac, but I couldn’t really see because the house roofs were in the way.

It took about 20 minutes for them to decide what they were going to do and I had to wait around all that time because there wasn’t anything else going on that I could see that would occupy my mind.

Eventually they threw a rope to someone on the quayside and they moved away, so that I could see what was going on.

people on board zodiac leaving port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallThey set off in the tracks of the one that had left earlier.

And I know that my expedition friends would be having heart failure seeing a moving zodiac with people standing up in it as it travels, even if they are hanging on to something.

The way that they pitch and roll and sway in the sea means that they aren’t as stable as they might be with a high centre of gravity when people are standing up. Everyone should be sitting down and luggage goes at their feet to keep the centre of gravity lower still.

By now I was becoming rather wet (as if I wasn’t wet enough before I started) so I headed for home and a nice hot coffee, and then start work on yesterday’s journal entry.

dropping off passengers blocking rue st jean Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAt some point or other during the day I was interrupted by noise from out at the back.

The streets around the old town are closed today as it’s the book fair, and there was a breakdown lorry trying to gain access . The driver had gone off to seek assistance but in the meantime, another car had come past him and then inexplicably stopped, rather selfishly, to let out his passengers while he goes to park the car.

Never mind that the road is narrow enough so that no-one else behind him could go past. That’s clearly unimportant as long as he’s OK.

The selfishness of some people never ceases to amaze me.

Writing my notes was a long and arduous task today, and took much longer than I expected. I even had a rather quick lunch to try to make more time but as you probably realise, something like that seldom seems to work.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThis afternoon I went out to have a look at the beach to see what was happening down there.

No afternoon walk seems to be complete without that these days.

The tide has come in quite quickly but there are still plenty of brave souls down there trying out the beach, sitting around and sunbathing.

There didn’t seem to be anyone actually in the water this afternoon but that’s not to say that there weren’t any.

kayaker baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere were other people in the water though, but in a different fashion entirely.

Like this kayaker for instance. He must have paddled his canoe quite a long way to end up here, and now he’s going to have to turn round and paddle himself all the way back, and pretty quickly too if he wants to find a slipway or launching pad still in the water.

And is that a fishing rod that he has poking up behind him? It can’t be all that comfortable fishing in a kayak. And where would be put his catch?

great cormorant baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallSomething else that was out here like piffy on a rock was this strange creature.

It’s actually a Great Cormorant and he’s a long way from home. His breeding colony is probably the one across the bay on one of the small islands facing Cancale. Several of those islands – the uninhabited ones – are know to be breeding grounds.

They were much more widespread than that at one time but predators like foxes and rats have seen off several colonies. In fact there’s a plan for the Ile de Chausey for a mass eradication of non-indigenous predators.

hang glider cemetery Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd when you compare this photo of the one that I took down the coast earlier today, you’ll see a great difference.

Of course, the rain cloud has now passed on to better things and the weather is so much nicer. In addition to that, the Bird-Men of Alcatraz have awoken and they have come here with their Nazgul to have an afternoon’s adventuring.

One of them has just taken off from the field by the cemetery and at the moment he’s fighting to gain control of his Nazgul, after which he’ll be heading this way.

yacht ile de chausey Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere didn’t seem to be all that much going on farther out at sea this afternoon but I did scan the horizon.

At one point I picked up something large and dark out by the Ile de Chausey and although I couldn’t imagine it being anything else other than the sail of a yacht I took a photo to check when I returned home.

Sure enough, it is a yacht although it’s too far out to see if it’s anyone we know. Black Mamba isn’t in port right now but she’s apparently in Cherbourg right now so I doubt that it might be her.

belem english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallHere is someone else who we might have seen over the last few days out there in the English Channel.

Unfortunately the weather is nothing like as clear as it was yesterday morning for us to give a positive identification but thinking that it might again be the training ship Belem, I made a note of her position.

Sure enough, when I returned, I could check on the historical radar plot and Belem was indeed at that spot round about that time of the afternoon.

hang glider pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere was nothing else going on out there of any importance (apart from the mad stampede that you saw earlier) so I pushed on around the headland.

As I crossed over the road, one of the errant Nazgul went swooping by over the top of the old bunker so I stopped to take a photograph of it.

And then I ended up in a mad stampede of my own down the hill chasing after my camera’s lens cap that I had unfortunately dropped.

Luckily I managed to avoid being run down by a car coming up the hill towards me. We both would have had a surprise.

f-gbai ROBIN DR 400-140B pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAt this point I was overflown yet again, this time by a mechanical device and I wondered why it had taken them so long to find me.

This is one that we recognise, having seen her many times just recently. She’s the Granville Aero Club’s Robin DR 400-140B F-GBAI going out on an afternoon flight.

She was first picked up on radar at 16:01 (my photo is (adjusted) 16:14) and she did a few laps around the Ile de Chausey and then up and down the coast before disappearing off the radar again near the airfield at 17:50

chausiaise joly france port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere was no change in occupant at the chantier naval today so I turned my attention elsewhere.

The ferry that we saw coming over from the Ile de Chausey, I wasn’t sure who she was. But I can tell you who she wasn’t because the older one of the two Joly France boats is sitting there at the quayside already with a load of people on the path just above her as if they have just gone ashore.

And here on the other side is the little freighter Chausiaise. So it can’t be any one of those two. But we’ll find out in a couple of minutes.

belle france entering port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd it didn’t even take that long before we were to find out.

Around the bend, alongside the sea wall and into the harbour came the brand-new Belle France, crammed to the gunwhales with people from the Ile de Chausey.

There were quite a few people on the sea wall by now admiring her as she appeared, and quite rightly too because not only is she a beautiful machine, she’s a sign of faith and optimism that there’s plenty of life left in the port.

And with the uncertain future surrounding the Channel Island ferries and the gravel boats, then this is good news.

man taking photograph car park boulevard vaufleury Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOne thing that I have to do before I finish.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that my pages are littered with inter alia photos of people taking photos. Today we had a large family group with a photographer who was taking pictures of them, with tripod and all.

This was far too good an opportunity to miss and I had to add a discreet shot of the event to my little collection.

Back here at the apartment I finally finished my notes from yesterday and then I joined up the tracks for the radio programme for tomorrow.

When that was done I attacked my pizza which was delicious. I haven’t made anything else though because I’m off on Tuesday to Leuven.

And now seeing as I’m exhausted, I’m off for an early night ready to start work tomorrow. Radio first of course, and I also have the injection man coming as well. I wonder if that will kickstart me into life for my trip to Leuven.

Sunday 18th July 2021 – YOU CAN TELL …

boats heading to harbour baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall… what kind of weather we’ve had today by looking at this photo.

Piles of boats out there in the Baie de Mont St Michel heading back towards the Port de Plaisance before the gates close with the turn of the tide. It seems that everyone has been out to sea this afternoon.

And that’s really not a surprise at all because the temperature reached the upper 20s this afternoon and there was almost no wind and it’s a long time since I’ve been able to sat that

But I missed a lot of the day today because of course I was going to have a lie-in this morning to recover from my journey to Leuven.

And with the intention of having a lie-in, 07:20 is far too early for me to be thinking of leaving my stinking pit. Even 09:30 was far too early but because couldn’t go back to sleep I was up and about shortly afterwards.

My push for fewer medications seems to have fallen on deaf ears. Instead of there being 7 pills and tablets to take every morning, there are now 9. So that didn’t work.

And what else didn’t work was relieving this fatigue either. I’ve spent most of the day trying, sometimes unsuccessfully, not to fall asleep.

First thing that I did after the medication was to listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night. I was at the Grammar School last night and there was a meeting taking place of the School Committee – some teachers, some pupils. The door was in a position where from the top of the stairs I could take photos of people coming and going so that was what I was doing. I’d been talking to a few people whom I knew. Then a girl appeared. I know who she is but I just can’t put a name and I wish that I could remember her name, and she was wearing some kind of ridiculous plunging neckline top. From where I was on the top of the stairs I had a really good view. There was a lavatory block in the middle of the hall with the Gents on one side and the Ladies on the other and on one of the ends. For some unknown reason none of these were suitable so this girl asked me where else do the ladies go. So I told her about the loos next to the 5th form common room. She looked bewildered and I thought “well, I’ve not been in this school for so long. The 5th form common room is bound to have changed from where it was in my day” and I had to try to explain to her where it all was. They said “okay” they’ll go off and find it. So off they went in a kind-of completely different way to the way that I had told them to go so I’d no idea what was happening there.

Some time later I was round at a friend’s and he was in a couple with a girl who is in real life the wife of someone else. He was talking about going on holiday and he had a trailer coupled up to his car but he had just a piece of paper as the rear numberplate with a number written on it put over the top of the number of the trailer. I told him that he would be far better off getting a real numberplate and putting it on. He was convinced that he was doing things the right way so I left him to it. I told him that in Europe trailers were registered themselves with their own numbers, all that kind of thing. So the girl and I were there after he had gone and we were doing some things. There was something important that needed doing for which I needed her help but I can’t remember what it was now but she said “we’ll see how it goes” but then as time drew on she said “we’re going to have to do this scene with some vehicles on it” so reluctantly I agreed and anyway so something was getting on and there were a couple of lively cats and a small dog playing around and then she made a decision about having a cup of tea so I got up to make one. I put the tea bags in the pot and I was about to fill the pot and she said “no, don’t make a pot of tea because I won’t be drinking it” so I said “I won’t bring you tea in the morning then in that case” so I went off to I don’t know where.

But there was somewhere along the line that I’d been out in a car and we were going to somewhere near Aberystwyth. I was with Percy Penguin and we drove all the way out there to do something but in the end came across an auction where they were selling old motorbikes. There was one old British one in a terrible state but looked complete but there were no bids on it so the guy said “does anyone want it?”. I was feeling really bad because had we gone in Caliburn I could have brought that back without any trouble at all but instead we’d gone in an ordinary saloon car and there was no room in it for a thing like a motor bike. I was really upset by that, and not just when I was asleep either.

Before lunch I went and mixed three loads of dough – one for the pizza bases for the next three weeks, the second for the jam roly-poly and the third with wholemeal flour for the fruit bread. That was all mixed up and then I could go for my lunch.

This afternoon, in between bouts of sleep I tried to bring up to date Friday’s journal entry, but I have to say that I didn’t get very far with it and nothing has changed with the entry already so far on line.

Another thing was to give all of the dough a second kneading. The roly poly was flattened out square and spread with jam, and then rolled up rather like a swiss roll. I had to cut it in two to make it fit the baking tray.

The pizza dough was kneaded, divided into 3 and two of the lumps were rolled in oil, wrapped in greaseproof paper and put in the freezer. The third was rolled out and put in the pizza tray to proof.

To the wholemeal dough, I added a ripe banana, some desiccated coconut, dried fruit, sultanas and various assorted nuts ground into powder. That was all mixed up, kneaded, shaped and put in the smaller bread mould.

As well as all of that, I’ve been pairing off the music for the next radio programme bur I won’t be working on that this week because I have a full-time Welsh course stating at 11:00 on Monday

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallIn between that I went off for my afternoon walk, not forgetting that I have to go to the beach to see what was happening there.

Across the car park I went and looked over the wall to see what was happening, and I was amazed by the crowds of people down there. And although there wasn’t very much beach to be on right now, the sea was pretty much full of people this afternoon.

It seems that every man and his dog has gone down to the beach to frolic about in the sea this afternoon. It would surprise me if there was enough room for everyone to find a little spot to sit down

man and woman on inflatable boat baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd it wasn’t just down on the beach that there were crowds of people either.

The sea was quite full as well with all kinds of craft out there this afternoon. There were several interesting boats but my vote for pride of place has to go to this inflatable zodiac thing that was paddling around offshore with a man and a woman on board doing the paddling.

And I particularly liked their version of a lifeboat that they were towing behind them. An inflatable rubber ring in the form of a car tyre that will be a great help if ever it were to be called upon to perform the task for which it was intended.

flags pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that there are four flagpoles by the Monument to the French Resistance, but one of them was taken away a few weeks ago.

While i was away it seems that they have done whatever it was that needed to be done to the flagpole and it’s resumed its place down by the lighthouse. So the German flag was once more flying quite happily by the American, French and British flags.

There were crowds of people out there this afternoon, most of whom weren’t wearing masks despite the rising infection totals here in France. I still wear mine and in any case I did my best to keep my distance as I walked around the path.

joly france baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhile I’d been walking around the path I noticed something moving out at sea. I took a photo of it with the aim of enlarging it whe I returned home.

Actually, I had a really good idea of what it might be and as I enlarged the image I could see that I was right too. It’s one of the Joly France boats that runs the ferry service between here and the Ile de Chausey.

She’s pretty much loaded up with passengers, either day trippers or holidaymakers coming back and presumably catching the evening train to Paris.

But back to our story, and I carried on down the path and across the car park to the end of the headland. There wasn’t much going on there so I continued on down the path and round the other side.

f-bslf Robin DR-315 Petit Prince pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallIt was round about here that I was overflown by a light aircraft that had apparently just taken off from the airport.

She’s one whom we haven’t seen before – F-BSLF, a Robin DR-315 “Petit Prince”. She’s not one of the Aero Club aeroplanes who we see on regular occasions.

In fact she only arrived this morning at the airport. Although she didn’t file a flight plan, she was picked up by radar at 08:51 somewhere near St Seglin heading towards the airport and disappeared off the radar near Mont St Michel, presumably to have a closer view as she came in to land.

And then she took off again at 16:13, when was when I saw her, and she flew south before disappearing off the radar again at Baulin near St Seglin. So it’s reasonable to suppose that she comes from somewhere around there.

l'alize 3 galapagos chantier navale port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallHaving disposed of the aeroplane I could continue on my way along the path towards the harbour and see what’s going on down there.

And there have been changes at the chantier naval while I’ve been away. We are down to just two trawlers, L’Alize 3 and Galapagos. The other two trawlers that were there, Black Pearl and Charles Marie II have gone back into the water. The latter boat wasn’t in the chantier naval.

The yacht Rebelle is still in there. They told me last time I was down there that she would be back in the water “shortly”, but they were clearly talking in Geological terms.

marite big wheel port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallFurther along the wall I could see down into the inner harbour.

There wasn’t a great deal of activity down there this afternoon. But our old friend Marité is still in there. It looks as if that trip that she was planning yesterday when all of those people were going aboard can’t have been going very far – probably just into the bay and back.

The big wheel is there of course, and it was actually working as well. There must have been plenty of people wanting to go for a ride. It’s not the thing for me though – I’m sure that I have a much better view from up here on top of the cliffs than I would on top of the wheel.

joly france leaving port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhile I was admiring the inner harbour a siren from the ferry terminal brought me back to reality.

When I looked round I could see that Joly France was reversing out of the terminal – hence the siren – and heading back out to sea. There must be plenty more people out there on the island waiting to come back to the mainland, more than the other Joly France boat can handle.

But I couldn’t wait for the two boats to come back. I came on back home to carry on work and trying hard not to fall asleep.

Round about 18:00 I put on the oven and bunged in the fruit loaf followed a few minutes later by the jam roly poly. And when they were cooked I bunged in the pizza which I had been preparing.

vegan pizza jam roly poly fruit bread Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhen the pizza was cooked I took that out of the oven. And here it is with the jam roly poly and the fruit bread.

The pizza looks absolutely delicious and it tasted delicious too. As for the jam roly poly and the fruit bread, you’ll have to wait for a day or two before I can tell you what they are like.

Back in here, fighting off the fatigue yet again, I wrote up my notes for the day and posted them on line. And that’s all that I’m doing today. I’m completely exhausted and I have so much to do tomorrow, so I’m off for an early night in bed tonight.

And I can’t wait for that either. A good night’s sleep will do me the world of good – I hope.

Monday 28th June 2021 – NOT VERY MANY …

beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall… photos today unfortunately.

And no people on the beach today either, and none of that should be any surprise when you look at the weather that we had today. You can see the water streaming like a waterfall out of the outflow pipe on the right of the image.

Last night I must have been lucky to have found a little gap in the weather when I went out for my evening stroll because all day it’s been teeming down like this and those of us who braved the weather ended up looking like haggard, drowned rats when we made it back home. I know that I did.

The person I felt most sorry for was the little girl trying desperately to seek shelter underneath our doorway while she waited for a parent to come and pick her up after school. She was still there, even wetter, desperately trying to contact someone on her mobile phone when I returned home.

30 years ago I would have invited her in and lent her a towel to dry off in the warmth while she waited because I wouldn’t have let a dog out in this weather, but these days it’s not possible to do this sort of thing, even with the best intentions.

People have become so suspicious about other people’s motives. And all that I can say is that these suspicions tell me far more about what’s going on in their minds than what’s going on in my mind.

flooded footpath pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall“And just in case you are wondering” said he, returning to his moutons, remember the path that I showed you the other day?

This is the path today. It’s like a river running all the way down the path now and it’s almost impossible to walk down there. It’s true to say that these are exceptional times this weekend, but there’s really no need to let it get out of hand like this. Half a day’s work, several sacks of gravel and some plastic pipe could clear all of this, if anyone were bothered.

So apart from that, what else has happened today?

The alarm went off at 06:00 as usual and I was up pretty quickly too which is always nice. And after the medication I listened to the dictaphone to see where I’d been.

I was talking to my friends from the Wirral and a few people. She was talking about the skiing trip that she was going on with a few friends to Italy. I asked her when she was going and she replied “Sunday”. The more she continued to talk about it, the more my ears pricked up until in the end I asked “do you have a vacancy”? She replied “yes” so that was that. I was gone. She told me the times of the flights and everything. I had to get there for the first flight and sort out all of my equipment. I didn’t have any – it was all in the Auvergne. I didn’t even have a ski jacket but I went all the same. I turned up in the resort and the first thing was to check the hotel that they had me down as a vegan and then to the bank to talk to the receptionist there. Then I was sitting outside in my shirtsleeves in the snow watching a couple of helicopters land, and the landings were really rough. Someone came out to fetch us all to give us the introductory talk inside. It was really snowing heavily while I was outside there as well sitting on that stone wall.

But what’s this? A dream about snow and skiing and not being in the mountain pass that features so regularly in our nocturnal voyages? What’s happening here?

Once I’d organised myself I attacked the radio programme and round about 11:45 I brought it to a conclusion, even with one stop for a coffee and a second for breakfast. And even though I say it myself, it all went very well.

The rest of the day has been spent dealing with yesterday’s journal entry and bringing it up to date. That’s all completed and now on line with all of the photographs. It would have been finished earlier except for the fact that I had a little … errr … relax. And it was a little relax too – about 10 or 15 minutes, that’s all.

There was the break for the afternoon walk, colliding with our young person sheltering underneath the door as I went out. And I didn’t hang about on my way round the circuit either

segway riding lessons pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallMind you, this is one photograph that I had to take.

This afternoon there seems to be some kind of training session going on at the Pointe du Roc involving Segways and some kind of obstacle course. and chapeau to the few people who seemed to have persevered despite the adverse weather conditions. It can’t have been any fun standing around out there in all of this.

So I left them to it and waded on down the path at the top of the cliff overlooking the harbour. And it’s a good job that there was nothing going on down there this afternoon as there wasn’t anywhere for me to stand to photograph it. Instead I hurried on home for my hot coffee, colliding once more with the young person on our doorstep.

And I did feel sorry for her

When I’d finished the journal from yesterday I had a bit of a sort-out, emptying a drawer to look for missing receipts for my health insurers. And I found one too, which was quite pleasant. I’m sure that there most be a couple more knocking around somewhere, but like most things these days, I’ve let my organisation go to pot.

Guitar practice was, for a change, quite enjoyable today and I had a good time. For the half-hour on the acoustic guitar I gave myself a little concert of four or five songs that I can play quite easily and which don’t sound too bad when I sing them. I’m going to do what I said I’ do a long time ago, and just concentrate on having 15 or so and playing them really well rather than dispersing my energies.

Home-made Cornish pasty for tea, with baked potato and vegetables and it was exceptionally good. If the pie is as good as this was then it’s really going to be something. Apple pie and coconut whatsit for pudding and the rest of the apple pie is going in the freezer for I have ambitions to do something nice for pudding tomorrow while I’m baking my bread.

High time that I treated myself.

Saturday 13th February 2021 – IT’S USUALLY FRIDAY …

… that is considered to be a very unlucky day. But for me, it’s usually some other day on which the 13th falls.

It started off really well too because I beat the third alarm to my feet yet again. That’s every day this week.

And I’m sure that you are wondering what is the secret of this new vitality. And it’s really quite simple. I’ve decided that there’s too much of a gap between the second and third alarms, giving me too much time to fall back into a deep sleep. And so I’ve inserted an extra alarm call to stop me dropping off. Whether it works in the long time, I really don’t know. We shall have to see.

So there I was, up on my feet (well, sort-of) when the alarm went off and that will come as a surprise when you consider that I hadn’t gone to bed until quite late. And according to the dictaphone, I’d travelled miles and miles during the night too – so you can tell what kind of day I was going to have.

We started off talking about food last night. There was some food somewhere, all kinds of curries and things like that. 3 different varieties. I was a chef whose recipe had been turned down by this place. It preferred its own recipes to ones from a top London chef. There was much more to it than this, some of which I can’t remember and some more that, as you are probably eating your tea, I don’t think that you would want to hear it

A little later on, my friends from the Wirral came to see me and had a very long chat about my health issues, that kind of thing. I wasn’t convinced at first that they were taking this seriously but later on they certainly were. I told them that the major problems were that my employers were being only a bunch of temps they shifted their offices every few days and we ended up in places miles away from any station or so on and walking takes hours. This is what’s going to finish me off more than anything, walking from the railway station to this office. They told me to take good care of myself – at least if the offices are going to kill me I should do it in comfort, something like that, I can’t remember now. I thought “that’s not much good to me”. They arrived at my apartment while I was still in bed so I had to get up and go into another room to get changed and get ready while they waited for me but instead they came into the room where I was getting changed which was a bit unfortunate.

Somewhat later, I had to go somewhere and I had someone with me. We had to catch a train at Crewe Station. The train pulled up right by us, the first carriage, a non-corridor train so we climbed in through the first door. Just as we got in the train took off and I nearly fell back out again – the door wasn’t shut. We had to wedge ourselves into a seat. Someone noticed that I had a book in English and was asking about it. I said that I’d got it from so-and-so. I said that it was one of 7 English books that he had. he didn’t have all that many and the guy seemed to be in agreement. Another guy was sitting there reading an old Bartholomews Map. He was talking, looking at the map saying “I hope that we’re going down the West End of Crewe. I said “we might end up going that way. He asked “where was the West End of Crewe?”. I replied “if we aren’t careful we’ll end up driving through it”. We got down to the end of Delamere Street and I expected the bus to turn left then turn right at the lights and along Wistaston Road but it turned right instead, heading back towards the top end of Victoria Street. I imagined that it was going to go down West Street so I said “it looks like you’re going to get the West End now”. We drove down there and I was appalled at all the that were empty and boarded up and being demolished. It was like a war zone. I’d never seen anything like this. He said “it’s not looking very good for Crewe is it?”. I replied “you’re absolutely right there”. We got to the end of Victoria Street but turned right instead of left. I thought “this bus is going back to the bus station now”. We had to do a bit of a U-turn on the quiet and work out how much it was going to cost this guy and somehow turn the bus round without he guy noticing so that we could go back the right way.

As an aside, before going to bed last night I’d been looking at some photos of the demolition of the huge Shopping Centre and Bus Station in Crewe town centre. Built in the late 1950s as “the pride of South Cheshire” and demolished after just 60 years or so while buildings around it built 100 years or so earlier still stand proudly erect. And the demolition site really DID look like a war zone. And children of the future won’t have the public conveniences on the bus station with all of the artwork on the walls that was largely responsible for me passing my “O” Level Biology.

There was one of these Raleigh Runabout-type standard 1950s type of mopeds, a blue one. There were a man and a woman on it. The man might have been my father and the woman might have been someone else. He was a little older than he was. We were at my house, the family home and my brother was painting a painting-by-numbers kit. He’d done several abstracts like this and I was wondering if I could take one home with me to my house. There was one that was warped a little but wasn’t too bad. He said that he was going to present it to “that girl who taught us about the metric system”. “Ahh – Pamela Smith”. “Yes, that’s right. Would you mind if I were to present it to her?”. I replied “you can present as many paintings as you like to Pamela Smith as far as I’m concerned”. I went to make a coffee. We were talking about things and I asked “where’s the ice-cream that you bought the other day?”. He replied “it’s in the fridge”. We took the ice cream out and I took a scoop and went to put it in my coffee – hot chocolate, rather, and add some fresh chocolate sauce, real decadence. Just then the front door opened but we couldn’t hear a thing. No-one was coming in. I asked my brother “what’s happening now?”. He replied “it’s dad coming home”. At that moment father walked in but he left the doors open, the door open to the street, everything. There was this thing about a project that would take about a month to do but if we were going to have to do it now in the middle of winter it would take him absolutely ages in his spare time at night because he wasn’t working overtime any longer so he had all of this spare time.

I’ve forgotten where I was in this (that was what I said and how I opened this speech, so it seems that I might have missed something out) so I went into a chip shop to buy some chips. The woman behind the counter asked me what I wanted so I replied “a bag of chips” but I couldn’t see anything else that I could eat so I just ended up with a bag of chips. While I was there someone came over to talk to me and the subject of George Formby came up. I agreed with what he was saying. He said “do you know George Formby?”. I told him about Hans who had left some cassettes behind. The guy said “I bet you thought that they were something else, didn’t you?”. I replied “I knew that there wouldn’t be any nude women because he’s not that type”. We began to talk about films at the local cinema. They had a late-night showing at 01:20 on Saturday night/Sunday morning. And somewhere in all of this the corner shop on the apex of the junction between Gresty Road and South Street figured in it.

And even more interestingly, I’d been watching a George Formby film while I was having my evening meal.

So after my marathon ramble during the night, I’m surprised that I’m back even now.

Transcribing all of that took me right up to shower time, and then having set the washing machine off on a cycle (a clever washing machine, mine) I set off for the shops. Again, there wasn’t anything of any excitement and I forgot half of the stuff that I needed from LeClerc. Mind you, I have never ever seen LeClerc with so many people in there doing their shopping. There were queues for miles, as well as an altercation that I witnessed on the car park.

While I was out there, I went across the road and bought a new hat (that isn’t all that much warmer than the one that I was wearing) but they had more of the tactile gloves, the same as the ones that I bought 2 years ago and left in my jacket pocket in a hotel in Calgary. And they are nice and warm.

By the time that I returned home it was late and I was cold. It wasn’t worth having any breakfast. Instead, I sorted out a few things here that needed doing, including charging the battery for the NIKON 1 J5 as it had gone flat on me yet again.

While I was at it, I charged up the battery for the NIKON D3000. I was planning to take that for a walk – the first time for a year for it to have a run out. And then, I … errr … went off with the fairies.

beach plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAfter I recovered from my repose I headed off out for my afternoon walk, the freezing weather notwithstanding.

There were very few people out there walking around this afternoon which is hardly a surprise. The tide was way, way out do we were unlikely to see a fishing boat making its way back into port. But there were a few people brave enough to go for a walk down there on the beach this afternoon and I didn’t envy them at all.

The path was churned up again with all of the melted snow but there was still plenty of ice and so on in the shade where the sun hadn’t reached it. That’s going to be there for quite a while, I reckon.

sunset baie de mont st michel brittany coast Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOff I trotted across the lawn and the car park and down to the end of the headland.

This afternoon, my walk was rather later then usual and so by the time that I reached the end, the sun was starting to sink slowly down towards the horizon. It’s been a good while since I’ve been able to take a photo of the sun like this.

It wasn’t very clear out there either. We can’t see the Brittany coast out across the bay this afternoon. But there is a little bit of sunshine peering through a gap in the clouds and lighting up the water.

We can also see plenty of ice-hard snow on the top of the cliff here too. We’re still in the grip of winter.

As it happened, I wasn’t the only person out there enjoying the view, such as it was, this afternoon.

cabanon de guet man on headland pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallDown there right on the point by the old watchman’s cabin was someone else surveying the scene. He’s certainly dressed for the weather.

Have I mentioned anything about the watchman’s cabin – the cabanon de guet – down there yet? The watchman served two purposes – firstly he would be looking out for the English (and later British) fleet that might come a-raiding. From the beginning of the 18th Century right up until the end of the Napoleonic Wars the British and the French were in almost perpetual conflict.

The second reason was a civilian matter. The route between the Channel Islands and the French mainland was a smuggler’s paradise as all kinds of contraband passed up and down the bay. Consequently they had watchmen positioned up and down the coast to look out for boats passing by, just in case they were engaged in smuggling.

Further along the path, there was no change in the occupancy of the chantier navale so I went to see what was going on in the harbour.

charles marie anakena port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallNothing much happening there either. Charles-Marie is down there all wrapped up for the winter, and alongside her is the boat Akena. I’m not sure what’s happening with her now. At one stage she was heading to the far north but couldn’t travel because of the virus lockdown. She hasn’t moved since.

As for the people who were crewing her, I’m not sure whatever happened to them. They were at one time living on board but as we aren’t allowed out at nights these days, I can’t go to see if there are any lights in her cabin during the evening.

By now I was freezing to death so I went on home for a nice hot coffee, and then spent the rest of the early evening editing the photos for the Greenland trip in 2019.

Tea was out of a tin tonight. At Noz, they have been seeing tins of chick pea curry so I bought some a few weeks ago but I’d never managed to try one yet. They had more in today so I bought some more. And to my surprise, they aren’t bad at all, considering it’s all tinned stuff. If they have any more next week I’ll buy some more.

But now it’s bed time. I’m exhausted after today but at least it’s Sunday so I can have a lie-in. And then I really MUST book my journey to Leuven otherwise everything will be sold out.

Friday 15th January 2021 – LET’S NOT TALK …

… about this morning. It wasn’t 05:45 when I left my stinking pit – and neither was it 06:45, or 07:45, or 08:45, and while I might have been awake at 09:45, it wasn’t then that I left my bed either.

So that was the whole morning ruined.

It’s my own fault though. It was already a late night when I was planning on going to bed, but just as I was about to retire, onto the playlist came LA GAZZA LADRA, and if I ever have to make a list of the 10 best live rock albums of all time, this one would be well in there.

And so I need not continue.

Much to my surprise I’d been off on my travels during the night – or rather, the morning. We had a French exchange student staying with us – it was actually one of my little nieces – who was very uncomfortable as she had a different approach to life than some of the other kids so she didn’t socialise easily but she fitted in well where I was living with my friends from on the Wirral as the mum and dad. I don’t know what i was doing there but anyway it was now time for me to leave. The father, who has now turned into my niece’s husband was working on the car that would take me back into town to pick up my bus and he had to get the car out and give me time to be washed and ready but the time went so quickly that the mother had to call me. As I was going downstairs she said “do you want to go back upstairs? There’s some suntan oil in my bathroom cupboard. I replied “there’s no need for any of that”. She explained to our exchange student, who really WAS our exchange student from Summer 2019 by now, that in between living in the Wirral and where we were living today she’d lived in the USA for a while. Then we started to get the car ready for me and I thought “well, I’m being rushed a bit here and they are running me out of the house a bit”. This was making me a bit wary about what was happening and I don’t know why.

And at some point in all of this, Castor appeared in this dream – playing cards or doing a jigsaw with someone in a room upstairs, something that filled me with dismay and has more of a significance than any casual reader might realise.

So another exciting night and having had a shortage of pleasant nocturnal companions for quite some considerable time, I end up with a plethora thereof, all at once. I wish that my real life was this exciting.

What was exciting was that I actually managed to finish the magnum opus that is my account of the history of Chateau Gaillard. Well, it’s not finished – it’s merely the rough first draft and although it’s on line it’s going to be edited quite considerably before I publish it.

tractor trailer fish processing plant trawlers port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere was of course the afternoon walk around the headland. And in the beautiful weather too because although it was cold, the wind had dropped and we actually had a bright sunshine.

What surprised me about that was that many of the fishing boats were tied up in port this afternoon. Having seen the weather through which many of them had struggled over the past few days, I would have expected them to have made the most of the good weather today and been out there in droves.

But there must be someone out at sea because the tractor and trailer that hauls the shellfish around the local area is parked on the ramp, implying that they are waiting for someone to arrive.

chausiais joly france port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere was no change in the chantier navale either – the same four boats.

And over at the ferry terminal, there was nothing happening either. Chausiais and one of the Joly France boats that provide the ferry service over to the Ile de Chausey are still there, moored up and aground with the low tide.

But no Channel Islands ferries. They are moored in the inner harbour where they have been since services were suspended with the virus. And it’s unlikely that we’ll be seeing them up and running, because I’ve heard a story that unless the Channel Islanders dip their hands in their pockets to subsidise the service, something that they have so far failed to do, then the ferry service won’t be restarting.

Back here I had a hot coffee and, fighting off the waves of sleep that were somehow overwhelming me despite the long lie-in that I had had, I finished off the Chateau Gaillard and then had a very depressing hour on the guitars. I wasn’t there with it at all.

crescent moon rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere was then the evening run of course after I’d finished the guitars.

Here’s a view that we’ve seen on several occasions, but not quite like this. This is the Rue du Nord looking back towards the Place d’Armes in the background over to the right. But tonight we had a beautiful sliver of crescent moon to light up our path a little.

From there I disappeared down through the gate and along the path underneath the walls, part running and part walking. There was no storm tonight whipping up the waves down at the Plat Gousset so I pushed on … “pushed off, he means” – ed.

replacing gas main rue st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallMy route took me at a run across the Square Maurice Marland on the way home.

having seen everything that was going on with the machinery yesterday I reckoned that I would go and investigate the Rue St Michel to see how they were doing. And they haven’t been hanging around either. They’ve dug quite a trench already so they won’t be long in doing this.

Unfortunately the alleyway was closed off at the other end so in order to make it to the walls I had to turn round and go the long way around.

la grande ancre fish processing plant port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallIt was all quiet at the fish processing plant this evening. But I was lucky enough to catch La Grande Ancre (for it is indeed she) moving away as if she has just unloaded her catch.

Once she’d moved away I moved away and ran for home and for tea.

Tonight I took a frozen aubergine and kidney bean whatsit from the freezer and ate that with pasta and frozen vegetables, followed by more of my jam pie. That was a really good invention, that was. I’m pleased with how that turned out.

Although it’s not early, it’s earlier than it has been just recently so I’m off to bed. I really must try to do better than I have because this is all beginning (well, not beginning – well-advanced, actually) to bring me down and the last thing that I need to do is to bog myself down in a depression with all of this going on.

Look for the positives! And who knows? I might even find one one day.

Monday 28th December 2020 – HERE I ALL AM …

… not exactly sitting in a rainbow but pretty near enough. I’m curled up around a radiator in my little home from home in Leuven where I’ll be staying until Sunday.

And much as I like Leuven, it’s a pretty dismal state of affairs because firstly Alison is stranded in the UK by the new Covid rules and my appointment has now been pushed back until Thursday as I discovered today. So I could really have spent an extra two days at home, travelled on Wednesday and come home on Saturday thus saving a third day out.

But you live and learn.

What else you learn the longer that you live is that you can do it when you really try and so not only did I beat the third alarm, I was up and out of bed and running around while the 1st alarm was still ringing. And so plenty of time to tidy up, have a shower, take out the rubbish, back up the computer, send off a pile of radio files, make some sandwiches for lunch and cut a large slice of fruit bread to take with me for breakfast – pretty good and nourishing stuff, this fruit bread.

Tons of stuff on the dictaphone too, And what surprised me was that I was able to leave the bed so early with all of this going on. I’m surprised that I’d even made it back home.

I was having to make tea for Marianne last night and the guy she was having to sit with who was ill so I made them a kind of roast dinner as best as I could which didn’t look too bad. But I realised that on his plate I’d forgotten the gravy so I mixed up a white sauce and put it on his plate and went to add the gravy powder to mix in, but first I added chocolate powder. I thought “that will never do” so I scraped it off the plate and put another lot on. The next thing that I tried to put on was coffee powder and hat didn’t work either. It took about 3 or 4 goes for me to actually get his sauce right
Before that, I’d been out for a walk and there were a couple of people loitering around so we had a bit of an ad-hoc game of football and it was quite pleasurable. I came back into the house. Later on that evening when I was writing up my notes I couldn’t settle and I couldn’t make myself comfortable, moving from 1 chair to the next and 1 machine to the next, then trying to find some paper to write it out in longhand. In the end I settled on a shorthand notes reporter’s diary but found out that it was full. All the time my brother was asking me questions about this and that and I was trying to answer him as well, and I was trying to write out this report and I wanted to embellish it, to make it look a lot more than it is but I could never do it. I was getting so confused by the fact that I just couldn’t get comfortable and couldn’t make a start and couldn’t get anywhere with this
Art one time a girl dresses as a ballerina appeared on the scene and you could see according to the effort that she was putting into it and the way that she was walking and holding herself that it was a great big effort. I hoped that she would hold out physically and with the virus because it would be very sad if she were to succumb to it with all of this effort.
Later on I had to go and pick up Alvin from Hampton Close. I had my motorbike, my old CX and I decided that i’d go and pick him up. That went OK for a while until I got to Chester and I thought that I’d better programe the route to Hampton Close on my GPS because it’s years since I’ve been there. I spent ages fiddling around trying to make the GPS work. I had to drop off something at someone’s place and coming back I couldn’t make the GPS work. It took ages with all of this messing about to get it to go. The bracket broke off it and when I made it work I couldn’t programme it. It was all a nightmare, this journey was for some reason. Suddenly it worked and it was 18 minutes to there but I only had 15 minutes left but I thought that that’s not too much of a problem. He’s not going to be that concerned. Then I noticed on the back of the butty box the L plates had all faded off and you couldn’t read that it was an L plate. I was worrying about that for a while but suddenly realised that I didn’t need L plates on it because I had a full licence. Yes, I had to post off Ann’s present, that’s why I’d stopped and had to take it to the post office. Then Alvin came. he was there. I told him the story of my adventures which he thought was hilarious. We mounted the bike ready to move off to wherever we were going to next.

I’d gone out for a walk and I was the other side of Sandbach close to the motorway. I’d taken the wrong route which I’d taken before which was a dead end and I had to retrace all my steps. This time though I thought that I’d push on and climb up this embankment at the side of the motorway into a field and walk along the field at the edge There’s bound to be a bridge that goes over at some point I walked on and by now the motorway had transformed into a canal so I was walking along the towpath of an abandoned canal. It gradually came into a little village. I was really enjoying this walk and thought that this is going to end bu around Middlewich way. It’s a long way home but it will be really nice and i’ll stop for an ice cream. I walked through this little village. There was a shop there with its shutters half down. I thought an ice cream would be nice but i’ll push on to the next village. At this point there was some guy messing around in the road. He couldn’t make up his mind whether to go left or right so I swerved round him, making some kind of remark but banged my hip on a parked car. he didn’t say anything aboutt hat but he was going on and on about what he was doing. So I dropped in that I was working on the radio and things that I was doing that I’d inflated. Then he had to go and sort out a puncture in his car so I took him as a passenger in mine which was strange because I’d been walking up to this point. There were 3 of us in the end in this car. He was still going on about his radio and I was still going on about mine. He was saying “that’s a fine hobby to have”. I said “it’s a bit more than a hobby”. We reached Middlewich in the end and he told me where he wanted me to drop him off. he asked how much he owed me for the ride. I replied “nothing. I hope that someone would do the same for me some day if I ever need it”.

But the walk around Sandbach and Middlewich reminded me of a walk that I’d been on during a nocturnal ramble when I’d set out to walk from Chester to Nantwich via, of all places, Wrexham. Or as the skunk said when the wind changed – “it all comes back to me now”.

christmas lights rue lecampion Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallHaving organised myself as much as I could, I headed out for the railway station.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we haven’t as yet seen the town’s Christmas light in all their glory but this morning they were illuminated. My route took me up the Rue Lecampion and we can see here exactly what they have done as far as this street goes.

In fact, it’s all rather underwhelming, isn’t it? I can recall the decorations from last year being so much better than these. It looks as if the town has been on an economy drive this year.

christmas lights place generale de gaulle Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallA few days ago in the daylight we had a trip around the back of the kiddies’ roundabout in the Place Generale de Gaulle to see what they had been doing there.

This morning, the Christmas lights were illuminated here too and we can see how they are getting on now. On the left illuminated by a pink light is supposed to be a wooden polar bear, and I suppose that a blind man would be pleased to see it. And strangely enough, a couple of Christmas trees further along weren’t lit up at all. That’s a strange decision.

The newspaper offices at the end of the street are all rather garish and somewhat tasteless but I don’t suppose that there is any particular reason for them to bother themselves too much.

christmas lights cours jonville Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallFinally, I walked along the Cours Jonville.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that a few weeks ago we saw the electricians stringing up the light in the trees down here with a cherry picker. With the lights being on, we can see their handiwork today. It’s all nice, bright and airy, but it doesn’t exactly inspire the imagination, does it? The could have done much more than this with the facilities that they have.

But I wasn’t going to hang about and argue. By now the rain had started again so I pushed off towards the railway station. And the farther I went, the more and the harder the rain fell.

gec Alstom Regiolis 84574 gare de Granville railway station Manche Normandy France Eric HallBy the time that I reached the railway station I resembled something like a haggard, drowned rat. But at least my train was already in the platform so once I’d stamped my ticket I was able to clamber aboard and find my seat.

Today I was right by the rest room and right in front of the luggage rack so it was something of a convenient seat. No-one sitting next to me either so I could eat my fruit bread and fruit in comparative quiet and luxury.

To while away the journey I uploaded all of the backup files that I’d done this morning and then started to go through to identify duplicate files and remove the earlier versions

snow near vire Normandy France Eric HallIf you think that the rain that we were having was pretty rough, we weren’t having it as rough as some people were.

By the time that our train reached the region in between Vire and Argentan the heavy rain had turned to snow and thrre was a lovely white colour in the fields all around the train as we sped on to Paris. It didn’t hold my attention for very long though because I dozed off to sleep. And when I awoke again near Versailles we had long-since left it behind.

We reached Paris more or less on time and compared to how it has been just recently, it was quite busy. And we had to wait a while for a Metro which was something of a surprise.

And somewhere along the route a couple of cleaners climbed into the train with a cleaning machine the size of a small zamboni. That disrupted everyone on board.

TGV Reseau Duplex 213 gare du Nord Paris France Eric HallWe arrived at the Gare du Nord in Paris with plenty of time to spare and I was luck enough to find a seat straight away where I could sit in comparative comfort until our train was called. These big French mainline stations are draughty, windswept affairs with very little public seating.

Today’s train is one of the usual TGV Reseau Duplex double-decker trains, old but comfortable and rattle along at a rapid rate of knots towards Lille. it was crowded too, although once again I was lucky enough to have a double seat all to myself so that I could eat my sandwiches in comfort.

And that bread that I made the other day is delicious. And furthermore, there’s half a loaf awaiting me in the freezer for when I return, along with the leftover frozen leeks, broccoli and endives.

TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt 4525 Gare du Midi Brussels Belgium Eric HallWe were a few minutes late arriving in Lille Flandres Railway Station so we had something of a scramble across town to the Lille Europe railway station for the TGV coming from the Midi that was going to take us on to Brussels.

By the time we arrived, the train was already in the station so making sure this time that it was in fact the correct train, I dashed on board to grab my seat. This time I wasn’t quite as lucky. I had a neighbour which meant that unfortunately I wasn’t able to spread myself out very much.

One thing that I forgot to do with this one was to check the times so I couldn’t tell how the journey went. But it passed off without any incident.

multiple unit automotrice AM80 303 Gare du Midi Brussels Belgium Eric HallArriving in Brussels I was in time for the 15:37 to Leuven and Liège. That was late pulling into the station and with a technician scrambling around in the drivers cab, it was very much later pulling out.

It’s one of the old, dirty graffiti-ridden AM80 multiple units and it’s high time that these relics of a bygone age were put out to grass somewhere but it brought us into Leuven and now that the rain had stopped I had a nice walk down to my hotel in the Dekenstraat.

For a change they’ve put me in a different room than usual, but it’s still an upgrade so I’m not complaining. And there was a little Christmas present for me too which was a lovely little touch.

Later on I went to the Carrefour and stocked up with shopping, but I forgot a few things like the vegan mayonnaise so I’ll have to go again. And I failed to notice that the tinned apricots didn’t have a ring-pull so I had to hack my way in as best as I could.

Having fallen asleep already while typing out my notes, I’m off to bed. No alarm – I’m having a lie in tomorrow. And then I have several days of Welsh homework to catch up with. There will be the dictaphone notes too, and another trip to the shops for the stuff that I forgot so it isn’t actually going to be very much of a day of rest

Monday 30th November 2020 – WHAT I SAW …

fog college malraux place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall… when I went out for my afternoon walk around the headland.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that last night when I was out and about on my travels I noticed the fog creepign in to cover the harbour. When I went out for my afternoon walk you can see that not only did arrive, it stayed around too and slowly settled on the town. That fog isn’t going anywhere at all.

As for how long it has been there, I can’t really say. That’s because this morning when I left the warmth and comfort of my own bed, it was still dark. Despite not going to bed until 01:00 or thereabouts, I still managed to beat the 3rd alarm. And that’s quite impressive these days.

After the medication I listened to the dictaphone (I haven’t forgotten that there is still Sunday’s to do)

One of my sisters and I were together. We were the only 2 in the house and I’d made tea. I’d served it all up and set it out and we ate it. But I must have dozed off in the dream because I didn’t remember very much. But I suddenly awoke with a start and remembered that there was pudding to eat. I went to put the pudding out, a fruit pie type of thing. I cut a slice off and put it n a bowl for her and went to get the coconut dessert stuff for her, but found that she wasn’t there. I went into the living room and she was there drinking a cup of tea in the dark. I asked her why she hadn’t awoken me to tell me that there was pudding. She said she just fancied a cup of tea and came in to sit down.

On a couple of occasions in the same dream (which dream do I mean? Have I missed something?) we were on a bus and I think that we must have done the same route twice. We were basically divided into 2 groups, the bus did one and then the other. There were these 4 Asian girls on there and 1 in particular caught my eye. She was gorgeous. Whoever I was with was a woman but only a friend, not a girlfriend. I made a beeline for this Asian girl as much as I could and we ended up sitting side by side on the seats at the back chatting. Then they stopped to take a couple more but everyone else got on and the bus was crammed. They were talking about they’d been out yesterday somewhere and I’d deliberately not gone on this particular group because I didn’t want to make it too obvious that I was after her. This girl was saying that they’d been doing some kin0n of primitive wrestling and was talking about the guys who wrestled with her. I thought “I missed my chance there didn’t I? I should have gone all the same regardless”. We drove out of this town up a hill past some fortifications and an old castle. For some reason I thought that it was Durham which was strange because it was a seaside town. Then we were walking somewhere on this railway viaduct and to get down we had to jump or else it was a really long and involved scramble. The jump was about 30′. The first time, the people who were with us just jumped down and I had to scramble my way around but the 2nd time there were just 3 of us, me, this woman I was with and this Asian girl. The woman I was with just took a running leap, leapt off and landed in a pile of dust and she said to this Asian girl “are you going to jump off?” She replied “yes” and she jumped. The woman I was with said “what about you, Eric?” I said “come on – with my knees?” (when I was an adolescent I’d broken my knees on three occasions – twice on motor bikes and once skiing, or was it the other way around?) and I mentioned her name – it was the wife of a friend from the Wirral so I went to scramble down. But suddenly out of nothing an Asian guy with a little baby sitting on his shoulders, he just ran down this embankment, which I thought was extremely dangerous, I wouldn’t have considered it, but he just ran down with this baby on his shoulders and made it look so easy.
One of the things that we were discussing was names of towns. She asked what was the English name for Abertawe (it’s Swansea by the way). For some unknown reason I didn’t really want to tell her, I don’t know why. Someone else piped up with a few long explanations that were totally wrong but I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t going to say anything to this girl about this.

There was much more to it than this but as you are probably eating your tea right now I’ll spare you some of the gory details.

pointing wall foyer des jeunes travailleurs place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallFirst task once I got myself going was to deal with the sourdough that had been festering overnight.

But not before my attention was diverted by a noise outside. I’ve seen a van and a workman here on a few occasions just recently. It looks as if it’s a “nothing much else to do” job of cleaning out and repointing the old medieval walls near the Foyer des Jeunes Travailleurs. If you peer through the trees you can just about make out his flourescent jacket.

he was here for an hour or so raking out the joints, and then he cleared off. Next time it goes quiet, he’ll be back, I bet, to do another hour’s worth.

So I kneaded the sourdough again for about 15 minutes and shaped it, and then put it in a mould for the second stage of rising. Then I went back to attend to the radio programme that I’d started yesterday, armed with a mug of hot chocolate and a slice of my chocolate cake.

Round about 11:00 I knocked off and went to see how the bread was doing.

It hadn’t risen up all that much but it will have to do. I switched on the oven to warm up and while it was doing its stuff, I made an apple pie. Plenty of pastry left over so I made a much smaller one as well and whatever was left I prepared an apple turnover.

When the oven was nice and hot, the loaf went in, and when the apple pie was made, that followed it.

No room for the little pie and the turnover, unfortunately. They went in the fridge for whenever I bake my next cake. I really do need a bigger, better oven and I really am going to have to look into that pretty soon.

While everything was doing, I fed the sourdough and did the washing-up, a whole mountain of it too with everything that I’d been preparing.

home made apple pie sourdough loaf Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallEventually, the oven pinged and switched itself off and I went to see how everything had done. The bread was rather depressing. It hadn’t risen all that much, and was rather lopsided, which I suspect points to uneven heating of my oven, even with a circulating fan.

On the other hand, the apple pie looks done to perfection and I’m quite impressed with that.

But as for the bread, it might not look all that much, but in fact it was exactly as it should be as regards texture. And it tasted delicious too when I had some for lunch, still warm out of the oven with my home-made hummus and salad.

It’s a shame that I can’t make it look nicer.

After lunch I finished off the radio programme and then I went for my journey into the unknown, my woolly hat on top of my woolly head. It’s winter.

seafarers monument pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhatever was going on out at sea, I couldn’t see it. It was pointless trying to do anything about that.

One of the things that I did though was to go and look at the seafarers’ monument to see if the wreaths are anything to do with commemorating any of the disasters. But apparently not. The two disasters that are commemorated on there are 23rd December and 10th January.

Having dealt with that, I went for a walk along the path on top of the cliffs to se what was happening in the chantier navale but that was rather a waste of time.

refrigerated lorry fish processing plant port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallFurther along the path I could hear a racket coming from the direction of the Fish Processing Plant.

One of the refrigerated lorries that calls in there was just leaving and eventually, it came out of the gloom and onto the main road. I’ve no idea what it might have on board though because I wouldn’t have imagined that there would have been too many fishing boats out in this weather.

Groping my way through the clag I made my way back home for a nice hot mug of coffee. I felt like I deserved it after all of this.

The hour on the guitars passed quite happily. And I found that I’m beginning to ejoy playing the bass again, especially as I can now sing as I’m playing. A couple of weeks ago I spent some time trying to work out the bass solo in the chorus of David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream”. Today I spent almost all of my little bass guitar session trying to sing in time to it.

It’s not at all easy but eventually I found that I could do it, although I’m going to need a lot more practice at it. The first time that I’ve really been able to do this for about 40 years.

Tea tonight was stuffed pepper. The stuff that I’m using instead of bulghour or quinoa is really different with a much better taste. And as for my apple pie, it was delicious

donville les bains Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallLater on I went out for my evening walk and runs. By now the weather had changed. we had quite a strong wind,, the fog had gone from the immediate vicinity and it was raining.

With the fog having lifted somewhat, the view down the coast was fairly clear as far as I could see. The lights of the promenade at Donville les Bains were quite visible tonight from the viewpoint along the walls where I stopped for a breather.

Only one or two people wandering about so I managed all of my runs. And things might be looking up a little because instead of breathing in fours, on a few occasions I was breathing in sixes and once or twice in eighths A far cry of course from 25 years ago when I started running again and I was breathing in eighths for miles after only about a fortnight. I won’t ever reproduce that but it’s nice to think that just occasionally I can do it.

port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallIt was much clearer in the port tonight too. Although there were no boats about and nothing moored up in the unloading bay, it made quite a nice photograph.

There was nothing else going on anywhere so that was the only other photo that I took. After my walk around the walls, I ran on home in the rain to write up my notes and then to have an early night.

Tomorrow I have my Welsh lesson so I have to organise myself and so I also need a nearly start. In the afternoon I’m going to have a go at baking another cake and as I have a recipe for biscuits and everything that I need, I might have a go at that too.

But let’s have this early night first.

Monday 14th September 2020 – I’M NOT SURE …

… whether this has been a good day or a bad day.

When the third alarm went off this morning I was still in bed but surprisingly, I actually sprung up out of bed and sat on the edge. I’ve no idea what happened there – the “springing up” bit, I mean.

And neither will you when I tell you that I was still up and about at 01:40 this morning too. Having a lie-in is one thing but not when it adjusts my body clock quite like this.

As usual these days, it took an age for the bed to stop spinning so that I could get off, and once I’d gathered my wits I had a listen to the dictaphone.

We started off with a voyage that went on for ages and ages. I thought at first that it was a dream about football but it’s not. It took me a while to think about what it was actually about because when I tried to dictate it, it had all gone completely out of my head for a while but suddenly it all came back to me, as the skunk said when the wind changed.

It was actually about skiing. We were all going skiing, a huge group of us with a couple of friends of mine from the Wirral. I had some people whom they knew from the past but couldn’t remember very well some of the people. We’d all met up and having a ski around in the mountains. I was explaining to them my favourite ski runs particularly in the summer when there was still snow up in the mountains and skiing was still possible. We were making plans to all go and they were asking me “did my friends like this? Did my friends like to stop for regular breaks?” All this kind of thing. I hadn’t really got round to telling them that there was only me who was interested in going with them to do this. This conversation about my favourite ski runs in this mountain went on – you get to the top and you get the drag lift up here and you take this nice beautiful red run all the way down here. This went on for ages. Then it was time for break and we were sitting around. I was waiting at a table with this particular group. People were asking “do we want to continue? Do we want to go on?” I said “my group hasn’t asked for any food yet” so I said to them “do you have any requests? And make sure that they are physically possible”. Everyone burst out laughing but no-one actually asked for anything.

A little later it was a beautiful afternoon and I was walking around the little park/lawn place by the Boulevard Vaufleury and is this the first time that I’ve dreamt about Granville? Even though it was beautiful there was no-one really taking advantage of it except a group of schoolkids doing physical exercises under the supervision of a teacher who might have been called Taylor. There were people discussing a murder and whether a certain guy had done it and someone else chimed in “well they’ve got the wrong Taylor there haven’t they?” to which everyone wondered what he was meaning. I’m not quite sure where it went after that.

Not only that, I attacked a few of the arrears and I’m slowly whittling them down. As well as that, while I was listening to this week’s radio programme before I sent it off (I did remember), I spent an hour or so on the arrears of photos for July.

Having sent off the broadcast, I extracted the digital record turntable. Not being able to find the software for it, I had to hunt it down on the internet. But once it was all installed and connected up, it seemed to work quite well and I was able to record an album – the one that I wanted to record.

The only downside is that it recorded in mono. That’s not as big a deal because I can convert it into stereo. It was true mono too – not just one track of a stereo recording, so the fault either lies with the album (it might be a mono recording) or with the settings that I’m using. I shall have to check.

But once I’d done it, I was able to use part of it to complete some old stuff that I have from another time in order to recreate a rock concert that I had seen in 1971. That took the rest of the day but now it’s a nice live concert of almost an hour, including the legendary track about which I shall one of these days recount a very long story.

government boat english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallAs usual, I went out for my afternoon walk. And in the heat too. My thermometer at home was showing 29°C and it felt like it too.

The crowds of people who were out there were enjoying it too. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen so many people out there on a working day. Not so many people out a sea today though, which isn’t really all that much of a surprise. But this boat was out there again, towing a dinghy behind it this time.

It’s been a couple of times that I’ve seen it now and I’ve still not been able to work out what it is and who owns it.

government boat lifeboat baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france eric hallBut anyway I carried on around the headland to the other side and there I was treated to an interesting nautical danse macabre.

The lifeboat was coming out of its berth in the port de plaisance and it crossed the mystery boat right outside the harbour. We had a couple of toots on a siren and then a complicated manoeuvre as they avoided each other.

The mystery boat, which has an interesting heavy-duty crane in the bows, then carried on into the Port de Plaisance. And I carried on home.

There was the session of Welsh and the time on the guitars and then I stopped for tea. Stuffed pepper followed by my delicious apple crumble with the left-over ice-cream out of one of the containers in the freezer. I need to make some more room in there.

donville les bains granville manche normandy france eric hallIt was still stifling hot when I went out for my evening walk and runs.

There were quite a few people about this evening here and there which is hardly surprising given the heat. There was a heat haze out to sea so the view wasn’t as clear as it has been just recently.

However the view of the promenade at Donville-les-Bains along the coast was particularly impressive tonight and the photograph that I took came out rather well.

The Rue du Nord on the right of the photo has come out rather well and on the left you can see the red lights on the wind turbines round somewhere near Cerences.

people on beach plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallBut my reverie was disturbed by a noise coming from down below on the beach so I had a look over the wall.

Pitch-black is one thing for most of us but for young people it’s something else. These two down here checking messages on their mobile phones seemed to be having a very enjoyable time. And why not?

As for me I walked up to the old gate in the walls and then ran down the path towards the viewpoint over the Plat Gousset.

helicopter english channel ile de chausey granville manche normandy france eric hallBut I didn’t get very far and actually had to break off my run which disappointed me, because the excitement yet isn’t over.

As I was running down the path I was overtaken by a helicopter that flew along the coast and then went to ground down near the promenade at Donville-les-Bains.

“This is a strange time of the night to be having your chopper out” I mused to myself, and then carried on with my run. On reflection, the helicopter is quite probably the local air-sea rescue machine.

Nothing much else happened so I headed home. I managed my three runs although I do have to say that I never ever felt less like it. Having crashed out for 15 minutes after tea has taken its toll.

Tomorrow it’s Welsh class so I need to do some more revision, and then there’s the concert to finish off, followed by the missing week of my internet course.

Then at last I can turn my attention to other stuff. And not before time either.

Thursday 12th December 2019 – WELL I NEVER …

… ever thought that I would make it to Leuven today. But here I am none-the-less, sitting in my little room in the Dekenstraat waiting for tomorrow and my rendezvous with doom at Castle Anthrax.

It all started so well too this morning, even though I was the first to realise that on a day of “National Action”, the situation can change in the blink of an eye.

Last night I wasn’t in bed as early as I would have liked, what with having a few things to do, but nevertheless I comfortably beat the second alarm call this morning, never mind the third.

During the night I’d been on my travels too. There was something going on about something to do with the radio last night. We were in Granville and it was to do with the copyright. Someone said that I had gone on for an hour doing something yet according to my calculations it was less than 10 minutes. But they insisted that it was an hour. Ann Myatt was there and she was getting involved in this argument about copyright and I wasn’t quite sure what was going on.

No time for breakfast or anything this morning. I made my butties (I’d bought an extra dejeunette yesterday) and generally packed my things for the trip. As well as that, I took all of the recycling down to the bins.

thora normandy trader port de granville harbour manche normandy franceEventually it was time to hit the streets so valiantly braving the rainstorm I set off.

The first thing that I noticed down in the harbour is that there had been a shuffle-round of the ships. Thora had moved place and that Normandy Trader was now in the unloading bay underneath the crane next to Marite. She must have slipped into port under cover of darness too.

And all that I can say is that Normandy Trader must have had a really rapid turn-round.

alstom regiolis gare de granville railway station manche normandy franceAt the station, much to my surprise, my train was in and waiting. Yes, start with some good luck because I didn’t expect it to hold out.

And I was right too.

Firstly, the station coffee machine was out of order. That always puts a dampener on any of my travels, that does.

Secondly, I don’t have much time to traverse Paris, and no Bourvil to carry my suitcase either so when they announced that “the train will be making a few additional stops” my heart sank into my boots.

eiffel tower paris franceThe weather was quite miserable though. There’s a good place to take a photo of the Eiffel Tower from the train and I was in a good place on the train to seeit and photograph it.

But not today though. There was a pile of damp mist and low cloud obscuring it and the photo was a waste of time.

12:05 is the arrival time of my train in the Gare Montparnasse-Vaugirard in Paris. We finally pulled into the station at 12:20. And with my train out from the Gare du Nord at 13:15 I needed to get a wiggle on.

No chance of the metro though. All closed off and boarded up with the strike.

Still, there’s always the Bus 39 so I hurtled off outside to the bus stop to find that everyone in the whole wide world had had the same idea. When the bus eventually came, we all piled in and were crammed in like sardines. I’ve never ever in my life been in such a crowded bus.

It wasn’t to last though. After about 5 or 10 minutes or so the driver announced that he wasn’t going to go to the Gare du Nord but his “colleague behind” will be doing the trip. We all had to alight knowing full well that we had been sold a pup, but there was nothing that we could do about it.

No “colleague behind” either. We were standing there like piffy on a rock for about 15 minutes until a 39 came by. It was already heaving but nevertheless there was a mad scramble and once the lucky first 10 had wedged themselves aboard, he closed the doors and off he shot, leaving the rest of us behind.

After about 10 minutes I realised that any further wait was pointless. I’d been keeping my eye open for a few minutes and then, sure enough, a taxi with his flag up came by. I let out a yell and he pulled up. Grabbing hold of the door to claim it, I shouted to the people at the bus stop “taxi share to the Gare du Nord?” but they all looked at me as if I have two heads – which I probably have. No-one came to join me so I set off alone with the driver and badger that lot!

Finding a taxi was one thing – getting to the station was another. Everything was conspiring to be in our way today and we eventually reached the Gare du Nord at 13:35. It cost me @24:00, which was not, I suppose, too unreasonable for Paris on a day of General Strike.

Next stop was at the Thalys office to negotiate a new train, but it turns out that it’s not them but the SNCF that I need to see (exactly the opposite of the situation last time) so I wandered off to their office.

tgv inoui gare du nord paris franceAnother lengthy wait but it was worth it because there was just one more train out to Lille – at 14:45 – and I managed to blag my way onto it, free, gratis and for nothing.

While I was waiting, I’d done some research. My new train is due to arrive in Lille at 15:48. There was a local train from Lille going across the border to Tournai in Belgium at 16:02 (arriving at 16:34) and an SNCB train from Tournai to Brussels at 16:44 (arriving at 17:48)

Having found my seat, I settled down and dozed off (and who can blame me after my exertions?).

I awoke some time later to find that our train was stationary in the countryside. “Obstruction on the line” was the reason. By the time that it was removed and we had set off again, I could see all of my hopes melting away into the distance. And when we finally arrived at Lille, it was 16:20 and my train had long-gone.

But I’m nothing if not determined. Browbeating an attendant, she sent me off to the SNCF offices to see what they could do. They could find me a Local train to Tournai at 18:08 but from there I would be on my own.

It sounded like a reasonable option to me though – at least I’d be on the right side of the border. But I was convinced that I could do better.

Off down the road to Lille Europe – the big new TGV railway station. It took ages to find my way in, due to all of the reconstruction, but eventually I made it to the SNCF office. After yet another long wait, I was told that they could get me on a TGV direct to Brussels – the next one being at 20:08. And the receptionist wasn’t very pleasant either about that.

Another option is the Eurostar office. I’d seen that there was a Eurostar from London to Brussels, calling at Lille-Europe at 17:30. I tracked down the Eurostar office and went in there with my sob story. The girl there listened, looked at me for a moment, had a little think, and then simply stamped my ticket “bon for voyage 17:30” – free, gratis and for nothing as well! She told me that I would have to make my own seating arrangements.

eurostar gare lille europe railway station franceAnd she was right too. The train was heaving and it took me ages to find a free seat. Probably the last one on the train.

But what was interesting was the ticket control on the station. It wasn’t the railway company as such that did the ticket checking but a couple of security guards. They were wandering up and down the platform checking people’s tickets on a rather ad-hoc basis rather than at a barrier at the head of the stairs, which would have been the most logical place to control the passengers.

They had a brief glance at my ticket, saw the rubber stamp from the girl in the office and that was that.

gare du midi brussels belgium We pulled in to Brussels-Midi at 18:11 and I had to wait until 18:28 for my train to leuven.

But no matter what, I wasn’t going to wait on the platform. There was one of those bitter, biting winds that finds its way through your clothing, your skin, your flesh and your bones. I came down onto the little walkway underneath the platforms where I could admire the station and the crowds of people.

Brussels-Midi is a very old station in the sense that it hasn’t been modernised any time recently, so it has a quaint kind of character all of its own that many main-line stations have lost.

class 18 electric locomotive december leuven railway station louvain belgium Bang on time at 18:28 our train pulled in and I was well on the way towards Welkenraedt.

Today we had one of the Class 18 electric locomotives, one of the workhorse classes of the Belgian SNCB that pull a great many of the long-distance trains around the country, even if their introduction to the railway network was not without its issues. But now you see them all over the place.

We finally pulled in to Leuven at about 19:00. And when you think about this, then despite all of the issues that I’d had, I was only two and a half hours later than normal. And Had I gone via Tournai on the train that I had planned, I would have been just 15 minutes ahead.

Now I’m settled in. Too late for the shops, I’ve had beans and chips for tea and now I’m off to bed. After all of that effort I think that I deserve it too.

How close was I to having my chips today?

fishing boats unloading port de granville harbour manche normandy france
fishing boats unloading port de granville harbour manche normandy france

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