Tag Archives: baguette

Thursday 30th July 2020 – STRAWBERRY MOOSE …

strawberry moose lech austria eric hall… and I have arrived at his favourite holiday resort. And we had to stop so that Strawberry Moosecould have his usual photo opportunity

We’re staying for a couple of days while we get our respective heads together, and we need to do that too because of the dreadful night that I had last night. Never mind what time I went to bed – I was still wide-awake as late as 03:05 with no sign of ever going off to sleep.

But I must have done at some point because not only did the alarm awaken me at 06:00 (and I even beat the third alarm to my feet) there was something recorded on the dictaphone too.

A girl whom I know from Crewe put in a visit last night. She was going off home and I’d lent Caliburn to her to tow a caravan. I walked back through Shavington to Vine Tree Avenue where Caliburn was parked. We could see my brother and father in the distance – my father was getting ready to come home from work – it was 06:00 and he was getting in his vehicle. As we went past, down the street was a policeman who was interrogating a couple over a book which was something like a book by Kerouac or something. He saw the two of us and made some kind of remark to which I made some kind of remark back and mentioned the book that I was reading. He clouted me with a book so I clouted him back with a book. By this time I noticed that this girl was actually holding my hand as we were walking down the street. One thing that was going through my mind was that the tax on Caliburn had run out and I had vehicles without tax parked all over the place. I was wondering if ever it came to the push that they might be towed away where was I going to put them. I got to wondering what my father would have to say about me lending someone a vehicle that didn’t have any road tax. And more to the point what would a person say, where would she be parking it or leaving it and the closer I got to home the more I was thinking about this.

swiss postal bike motel poularde romont switzerland eric hallThere was plenty of other stuff to do this morning and then I went to breakfast.

My room is over there in the annex so I had to cross the garden to reach the main part of the hotel. On the way over I passed the postman delivering the mail. What cought my eye was not the postman or the post that he was delivering but the machine on which he was delivering it.

50 or so years ago everyone laughed at the Ariel 3, and yet here we are today, which just goes to show what proper publicity and marketing could have done for the British motorcycle industry had they put their minds to it. But being stuck in a timewarp of the early 1950s, british industry totally failed to move with the times.

I had to decline the cheese and the ham but the rest of the breakfast (included in the price) was very acceptable and despite the cost of the night’s accommodation, it was all pretty good value for Switzerland.

Collecting all of my stuff together I headed off – as far as the local Co-op. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that there had been an issue at the Hotel last night in that the Swiss plugs are different from the rest of Europe. The hotel had lent me an adapter but I had to hand that back this morning.

It’s not the first time that i’ve been caught out by the lack of a Swiss adapter so I reckoned that I may as well buy my own while I was here.

While I was here, I bought a baguette. In France it had cost me €0:45 but here in Switzerland where there is no Common Agricultural Policy it cost me €1:90. The silly Brits are going to be in for quite a surprise once the Transition Period is over.

Most of the day was spent driving all the way through Switzerland in the sweltering heat. Slightly north of east towards the Austrian border at Dornbirn.

Stuck behind slow-moving grockles for most of the day, and roadworks after roadworks after roadworks, it took ages to cross the country. It really got on my wick.

lake lucerne viewpoint Luzernerstrasse 6403 Küssnacht Switzerland eric hallWith the temperature at 35°C and feeling like every degree of double that, I was driving along the side of Lake Lucerne from Luzern north-east when I came upon a scenic viewpoint at the side of the road.

The views from here were tremendous. For example, down at the end of the lake I could see the town of Kussnacht where I turn off eastwards and head eventually for the Austrian frontier.

There wasn’t any shade at all here unfortunately, not even in the lee of Caliburn, but having been stuck behind all kinds of traffic in the streets of Luzern and Merlischachen, I was running much later than I wanted to and I had been ready for lunch for ages.

lake lucerne viewpoint Luzernerstrasse 6403 Küssnacht Switzerland eric hallChewing on my sandwich I had a good look around at my surroundings.

Across the lake from me is actually a “seaside” resort, the Strandbad Seeburg. That would have been a great place to go for lunch had I had the time. A nice relax on a sandy beach would have done me the world of good and I might even have gone for a paddle.

There are also bound to be several good hotels over there too, because the town is the birthplace of César Ritz, the founder of the “Ritz” hotel chains. He died there in the town in October 1918.

lake lucerne viewpoint Luzernerstrasse 6403 Küssnacht Switzerland eric hallIt’s a shame that we aren’t going that way.

That’s the spine of the Alps down there, on the border between Switzerland and Italy and it would seem to be the place to be right now because it wil be much cooler up there at those kinds of altitiudes. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that WE’VE BEEN IN THE SNOW UP THERE WTH CALIBURN in July.

If there hadn’t been as much haze around today, we might have been able to see snow. But as we’ll be pushing on into the Tyrol we might be lucky in finding some snow ourselves – or at least some cooler weather.

With that in mind, we pushed on into the town and then headed east.

view from steinerbergstrasse between steinerberg and steinen switzerland eric hallIn between Lake Lucerne and Lake Zurich we pass over a high range of mountains heading north-east, climbing out of one valley into another.

As we climbed up the pass, there was quite a distinctive mountain away to our right in the east that seemed to dog my viewpoint. I’ve no idea what mountain it might be but it piqued my interest. Eventually I cane to a place somewhere in between Steinerberg and Sattel where I could pull off the road and take a photograph it.

And it wasn’t just the mountain there either. There’s a modern concrete viaduct of either a road or a railway over there too, and there is some type of large bird, maybe an eagle, flying around over there too. And I didn’t notice that until I returned home.

view from steinerbergstrasse between steinerberg and steinen switzerland eric hallThe views were just as interesting to the south as well.

That’s the town of Steinen down there, I reckon, with Seewen in the distance, all of them in the valley of the Lauerzersee. We can see the spine of the Alps in the distance and just imagine how spectacular this view would be in cold weather when there would be no heat haze. But then again we wouldn’t have been able to climb up here in Caliburn as easily as this in the middle of winter.

Having taken our couple of photos, we headed off north-eastwards in the direction of St Gallen and the Austrian border.

multiple unit level crossing schwyzerstrasse between Rothenthurm and Biberbrugg Switzerland eric hallA little further on we pick up the railway that has been following us through the mountains much more precariously that we have been travelling on the road.

As we drive through the Sattel Pass through Rothenthurm and out of the other side on the way to Biberbrugg the railway line makes another one of its regular level crossings across our path and I’m in luck at this one because as I approach it, the barriers come down and a couple of minutes later a train rattles past.

This is one of the 11 Sudostbahn, the South Eastern Railway FLIRT RABe526 trains made by Stadler, a model of train that works on the railway networks of many countries all over Europe and North Africa and even in North America, the city of Ottawa having purchased 7 for the upgrade of its “Trillium” Line and its new link to Ottawa Airport.

Eventually I reached the border and crossed into Austria.

Just outside Dornbirn I fuelled up with diesel. €1:06 a litre which is a relief after the prices that I saw in Switzerland and I subsequently saw it even cheaper too.

From Dornbirn there are two ways on into the interior of Austria. The first, and most common way, is along the main road, past Bludenz and either through the Arlberg Tunnel if you have plenty of cash or over the Arlberg Pass.

But there is another way – the Bregenzerwald Bundesstrasse Highway, the modern-day L 200, over the mountains. Despite it only being 63 kms long from Dornbirn to Warth, It took an unbelievable 75 years to build, construction having been started in 1879.

The final section, from Schrocken to Warth, despite being only about 10kms, took 25 years to build and was not finally completed until 1954.

It’s quite narrow, especially at the older Dornbirn end and not possible to take a coach over it which is why I’ve never been that way before. But Caliburn, Strawberry Moose and I managed it quite comfortably.

It’s a spectacular road and one of this days I’ll post the dashcam footage. You’ll find out why a 53-foot touring coach wouldn’t ever come this way

At Warth we turned off towards the Fern Pass and after a good hour in the mountains from Dornbirn, we ended up in Lech. As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, WE’VE BEEN HERE BEFORE and on several occasions too, including once with Nerina. It’s a place that Strawberry Moose, Caliburn and I really like.

au hubertus lech austria  eric hallOnce we’d taken our photograph, we had to hunt down my hotel.

And it took some finding too. House numbers in Austria don’t follow any logical sequence and someone once told me that they are numbered in the order in whcih they are built.

Considering that it was one of the cheapest hotels in Lech, this is one of the best places where I have ever stayed and I’ll let you know tomorrow about the breakfast. If it’s anything like the rest of the hotel, it’ll be tremendous.

sunset over the mountains lech austria eric hallHaving smuggled my slow cooker into the hotel I was able to make some tea.

While it’s cooking, I can tell you about my room It’s quite small but very comfortable and a nice view looking north-west. With it being the height of summer it’s staying light pretty late and we have a beautiful red sky at night- a sure sign that Zug is on fire, I reckon.

And having had my tea now, I’m going to bed. After that dreadful night and the fact that I haven’t crashed out at all today, I’m ready for it.

A few days here to recover my strength and then I’ll see where we go from there.

Wednesday 23rd October 2019 – I’VE BEEN …

… a very busy boy today and no mistake!

And that’s hardly a surprise seeing how I leapt out of bed at something like the right kind of time this morning too. I reckon that there wasn’t anyone as surprised as me.

As a result we had an early breakfast and then I was able to start work.

First thing that I did was to attack yet more of the updating of the site, but I came to a shuddering halt when I received a reply to a communication that I had sent out earlier.

And as a result of that, you might notice a slight change in the functionality of the websites, because I’ve now changed server. Both my sites are now running on a pair of quicker more streamlined servers and that should improve things around here quite substantially.

However, this led to a puzzled bewilderment as to why some of the functions of my site weren’t working on the new Secured *https* Site.

It’s really my first foray into the realm of secured sites so it had me stumped for a while. So I left it and went for a walk instead.

Down into town for a pizza base, a baguette (on special offer), some potatoes and some quinoa and red lentils, seeing as to my surprise, the Carrefour supermarket is now selling them loose on a self-weigh thingy.

Just as I was about to reach home, Rosemary rang me up, so we had a chat for an hour or so about this and that.

This meant a late lunch, which I took indoors seeing as it was grey and miserable outside today.

So grey and miserable in fact that I’ve turned on the heating today. First of the winter, that is. And it’s no surprise.

This afternoon, I did some research and found out why some of the functions weren’t working on an *https* site.

These are facilities that rely on a coding function called *iframes* where you can put a “hole” in your website, filled in with a piece of code that enables a third party such as an advertiser to insert his own text into the *hole*.

The whole idea of secured sites is inter alia that no-one outside can have a free ride on your website, so the *iframes* function is disabled.

As a result I’ve had to dredge up what I can vaguely remember from working in Javascript 12 years ago, and I was surprised how much I can remember.

So firstly, you’ll notice a little “contact me” button in yellow in the bottom right corner of your screen. If you want to report a coding issue with the site, a broken link or else merely say “hello”, click o the button and you’ll see a message box pop up.

And much to my surprise, it even works too!

From then on, I’ve redesigned the sidebar on the secured http://www.erichall.eu website. If you compare the left-hand sidebar on, say, THIS PAGE with the left-hand sidebar on, say THIS ONE, you should notice something of a difference.

Now I’m slowly working up from the bottom of the list, and that’s going to take me an age, I’ll promise you that.

Extracting more files off the new travel laptop was another project that needed doing. Piles of them, there were, including all of the music that I had downloaded. That’s going to need converting to *.mp3 format one of these days too, although I’m not quite sure when.

In between all of that, I’ve had a few extended sessions on the guitars. I’m now working on 7 songs on the acoustic guitar right now and that will keep me going for a while.

As well as that, I’ve had my two afternoon walks and made my tea – a delicious pizza and ohh me miseram“well, puer amat mensam!” – ed … I’m running out of vegan cheese. It’s not that I forgot to buy any in Leuven, it’s just that I didn’t have the means to carry it.

So now I’m off to bed. And I reckon that I deserve it too. I’ve had a long, hard day today as you can tell and tomorrow, I’ll be having a good long walk out to LIDL and all points east.

I’d better hurry up with my beauty sleep.

Sunday 20th October 2019 – APARTMENT SWEET APARTMENT!!

Yes, after almost 4 months away from home, here I am back in the comfort and safety of my own four walls.

And what a nightmare it was in order for me to make it back here.

The day started well enough – or actually, badly enough as it happens because even though I was in bed “something like”, a couple of girls decided that they were going to have a party. What annoyed me was that I’d made a special effort to have an early night, even watched (the first five minutes of) a film just to make sure too.

But then they came in later and started to party, and woke me up.

From then on I was tossing and turning throughout the night, going on some amazing voyages but then eventually the alarm awoke me, as it always does.

For a change I was quickly out of bed, packed and then had a few things to attend to. It’s the birthday of someone very dear to the heart of Strawberry Moose and he wanted to send a card. I had to help him of course, so I hope that the person concerned received it. It goes with all of his greatest esteem and affection and with particular (but not exclusive) reference to one night and several evenings.

Food was next so I enquired of the night porter where I could buy a baguette. He took me a few doors down the road to a large wooden door, and after banging on it for a while, it opened.

It turns out that it’s the door of a commercial bakery that supplies bread to hotels and restaurants, and for a mere €1:00 they sold me a baguette big enough to have made lunch for the entire hotel – staff and residents combined.

What I did was to make my sandwiches for lunch (of course) and also a couple for breakfast – saves me buying my raisin buns. And with what was left I made some butties for tea too.

For the first hour of being back on the road, things were going on as normal. I left the hotel and, dragging my heavy load behind me, made it up to the Gare du Midi.

The train was already in the station so I was one of the first aboard and settled down in my comfy seat ready for the off.

We were about half an hour or so into the journey when the commotion started. The ticket collector came along to check the tickets, and it turned out that the young guy sitting on the seat across the aisle from me didn’t have a ticket. The ticket collector asked him to 3come along with” him, and that was when the violence started.

As I said, I am (unfortunately) a different person from when I set out on my voyage. The artist Samuel Gurney Cresswell remarked that a voyage into the High Arctic “ought to make anyone a wiser and better man”.

Well, I don’t know about “better” but it’s certainly made me a lot wiser, after everything that was thrown at me on that final voyage and it’s awoken a lot of things in me that had lain dormant for years. And so while I vowed that for as long as I lived I would never ever help anyone out about anything ever again after how I was repaid for it, I wasn’t going to stand by while some young thug was dishing it out to an elderly gentleman merely doing his job.

Sparing you all of the gory details, the net result was that when we arrived in Paris there were four policemen and a police dog waiting on the platform and he was carted off. The ticket collector (the complainant) went along and I was “invited” too, ostensibly to give evidence but possibly in case the assailant started to complain about his dislocated right arm and shoulder. He won’t be hitting anyone again for quite a while.

The drive through Paris was exciting – just like Louis de Funès in the old Renault Estafette – blue flashing lights and sirens and the full works.

Three hours I was there waiting my turn, and upsetting everyone by wandering off to look for a toilet. I ended up in someone senior’s private office and “there will be an enquiry” about that, apparently.

By the time that they had dealt with me, my bus had long-gone and that was that.

But not quite.

After a 10-minute walk I found my way to the ticket office at Gare Montparnasse (luckily the Police Station wasn’t far away) and joined the mile-long queue, everyone trying for revised travel arrangements due to a lightning strike by the TEC drivers.

And I was lucky. There was a TGV going to Brest in half an hour’s time and there was a seat vacant as far as Rennes. At Rennes there would be a 20-minute wait for the last train to Granville – if it’s running.

So I took a gamble and scrambled aboard the TGV. If the train to Granville isn’t running, I fancy my chances much more finding a hotel in Rennes than in Paris. And thinking on – my ride in a police van had meant that I hadn’t had to struggle around on the metro.

But my luck is in! And isn’t that a change from just recently? The Granville train is running, and it’s here, and I can climb aboard without any problems. So I do – and promptly fall asleep.

At Granville I decide to bite the bullet and for once, take a taxi. But there isn’t one. So I go round the corner to the café to ask the proprietor if he knows of anyone. He nods to someone at the bar who replies
“I’ll take you. 15 Euros”.

Like hell he will. I only wanted a ride, not to buy his cab from him.

The walk was difficult with my 30kgs of luggage, but once I’d organised everything it wasn’t as difficult as I had imagined. I took my time and had plenty of rest stops but I made it fine enough. I’m badgered if I’m going to pay €15:00 for a 3-km trip.

But the strap on my fitbit has now definitively parted company. I’m annoyed about that.

So here I am, safely back home in familiar surroundings at long last. But for how long? What’s next on the agenda? and how long will I be away for? I was disappointed that my nice little office chair was broken but it wasn’t made for heavyweights.

So I’m off to bed. I’ll check round the place tomorrow and see what else needs doing and then I’ll start to unpack. I’m not doing anything tonight. I did make a start on backing up but the spirit was weak.

It’s probably a good idea to go to bed – my first night in my warm comfy bed. And I’ve missed it, although I wouldn’t have missed for anything the experiences that I have had over the last four months. Good or bad experiences, they were all good really regardless of the outcome. Je ne regrette rien

But here’s a thing.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I’ve had a great deal of issues with the statistics recorder on this blog, convinced that I’m not having accurate readings.

As a result, a week ago, I spent some time uploading a new statistics reader to run alongside the existing one, and the difference is startling. The new one is much more accurate, much more up-to-date, updates quicker and tells me much more about my audience.

So why doesn’t my audience tell me more about themselves? You can see the “Leave a Reply” link just underneath the title up at the top. Use it to introduce yourselves.

And I shall add my best birthday wishes to those of Strawberry Moose. I hope that you enjoyed your day.

Monday 17th June 2019 – I’VE HAD A NICE …

… day out today.

Sitting in the sunshine on the edge of a flower pot outside a supermarket eating a baguette and tomato, it reminded me of the summer in 1977 that I spent hitch-hiking around Brittany.

Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be, is it?

Last night I went to bed rather later than I hoped. And despite turning over in bed a couple of times I slept right through to the alarm.

And it is another occasion where whatever I had been doing during the night was simply wiped out of my memory the moment the alarm went off, before I even had chance to grab the dictaphone. I do however have some kind of vague memory of being depressed about the nominations for “Sports person of the year” for a Nabisco breakfast cereal competition, thinking that as far as I was concerned, never mind who might be likely to win, the best names were missing off the list.

With an early start, I had an early breakfast and then dealt with a mass of files off the dictaphone. We’re now down to 60 files – and once they are all done I’ll have to update the blog to include the entries that I missed.

repairing medieval city walls granville manche normandy franceAfter a shower (I need to look pretty) I headed off up the road for the station and the train.

I was interrupted on the way down the hill though because they were cracking on with repairing the city walls and I thought that I’d stop and have a little look to see where they have got to.

Every day they are going further and further along the wall ripping out the loose stuff and building up. But nevertheless they are still quite a way behind schedule, according to the statutory notice on the protective fencing.

road works rue couraye granville manche normandy franceAnd of course that isn’t all of the construction work that was going on either.

There was a diversion in the rue Couraye, sending all of the traffic off down the back streets so I went on to investigate what was going on. It appears that they are digging up the street for some reason or other.

The street is paved with small granite setts and they were digging them up round by where there was a grid. It’s right opposite the reopened Credit Agricole so I’m awaiting news some time in the near future of a bold bank robberry

bombardier x 76500 gare de granville  railway station manche normandy franceEven though I was early, the train was earlier still and was at the platform.

It’s one of the Bombardier X-76500 series of trains – the backbone of the French rural rail network these days. New, comfortable and smooth. A far cry from the old rattling Pacers that run around as best they can on the UK’s ailing network.

The was quite crowded too. This route has only been open for a short while since the reinstated the curve near Folligny and it is clearly doing the business.

gare de coutances railway station manche normandy franceIt was a very pleasant ride out to Coutances this lunchtime. It only took the train 25 minutes to reach there.

My appointment isn’t until 14:20 so that gives me plenty of time to go for a look round. I started off at the railway station because I’d never been here before. It’s quieter now that it used to be because in the past there was a direct line to Cherbourg via La Haye du Puits but that closed down back in the 1970s.

Nowadays trains follow the remaining line towards Caen and passengers for Cherbourg change trains at Lison

war memorial coutances manche normandy franceOutside the station and down the road a few hundred metres is a monument to the dead of the First World War of the town.

There are quite a few names on the memorial, giving you some idea of how much the French suffered during that war. In total, 1,357,800 French soldiers lost their lives out of a total population of 41,415,000 in 1911. That’s one-thirtieth of the population. To put it even more into perspective, in 1911 the population of France was 41,415,000. in 1921, the population was 39,108,000 – a decrease of 2,307,000

There were a few casualties listed for the Second World War. That wasn’t as disastrous in casualty terms because once the British front in the North-East of France collapsed and the Germans got in behind the French armies, the end was pretty quick.

hospital lower town coutances manche normandy franceIf you were to look at a map of Coutances, you would see that the hospital is just outside the railway station.

But that doesn’t take into account the topography. The town is built on the top of a steep hill and the railway station is perched on the side. The hospital is actually 100 feet or so lower down the hill.

And in any case, I’m not going there.

calvary rue de regneville Rue Geoffroy de Montbray coutances manche normandy franceInstead, I headed off down the hill towards the rheumatology clinic.

Down at the junction of the rue de Regneville and the rue Geoffroy de Montbray is this really beautiful cross. You see pleny of crosses and calvaries at road junctions in France, but I’ve seen few that have been as impressive as this.

And that reminds me of a story I once heard about a competition for the design of a calvary. And due to a misunderstanding on the telephone, one sculptor sent in the plans for John Wayne on his horse.

old cars renault estafette coutances manche normandy franceIt’s been a whike since these pages have featured an old car. But that’s about to change;

Down near the bottom of the hill parked in a little yard was this beautiful little Renault Estafette.

Not the first one we’ve seen – we saw one around Granville a year or so ago. And had this been 30 years ago we would have seen them everywhere because they were the archetypical French medium-size vans used by inter alia the Police.

There’s a Carrefour supermarket at the bottom of the hill and although I could see it quite clearly, finding the entrance was quite something else. But eventually I was inside and furnished myself with a baguette, some tomatoes, some bananas and a bottle of water.

Outside, perched on the edge of a large flower pot in the sunshine, I ate my lunch as I mentioned above.

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Coutances manche normandy franceWhen we were in Coutances 18 months ago we got to see something of the Cathedral.

From close to, it was impossible to have a reall good view of the entire building but from down here in St Pierre de Coutances the view is absolutely excellent. You can really have a good idea of the size of the building.

The cathedral dates from the 11th Century although it has been redesigned and rebuilt on a regular basis. It was built on the site of a church dating from the 5th Century that was destroyed in a Viking raid, and it’s quite possible that there was a religious establishment on the site before then

possible abandoned railway building st pierre de coutances manche normandy franceOn the way to the clinic, walking along the Granville road through St Pierre de Coutances, I passed a building that resembled very closely a railway building.

It had all of the style, architecture and patterns of other small railway buildings that I have already seen while I’ve been out and about on my travels.

I doubt very much that it was a railway station though because there are no “running in” notices on the side of the building, like you would expect to see in similar circumstances so I shall have to reserve judgement.

abandoned railway line st pierre de coutances manche normandy franceAnd as I was musing about all of this, I walked past a track that had every possible indication that you could wish that it might have at one time have been a railway.

It’s signposted as a walk out to the Pont de la Roque, the ruined bridge that’s a memorial to the Liberation of France out near the coast.

I’ve not as yet been able to trace any record of a railway line going out to there, but it certainly looks very “railway” to me.

rue du tram Pont de Soulles st pierre de coutances manche normandy franceFurthermore, I made another little discovery in this respect some time later.

On the way back, in the immediate vicinity but just around the corner in the Pont de Soulles, I discovered a street called rue du Tram.

And so I can see that I will have to be doing some more research into this, although I would have liked to see the tram that could have climbed up that bank without very much of a run-in.

railway viaduct Pont de Soulles st pierre de coutances manche normandy franceIt’s not only the bank that the tram would have had to negotiate, there’s a considerable disparity in altitude.

The road from which I took the photo of the rue du Tram passes underneath this enormous viaduct, over which passes the railway line on which I’ve just travelled from Granville to Coutances. If we assume that the terminus of the tram was near the railway station, then I imagine that the route must have been something like a roller-coaster ride, down from the station and then back up here.

However, returning to our story, at the clinic I didn’t have to wait too long. I was seen pretty quickly, given an ecograph, and the specialist diagnosed that I had a hygroma. He wanted to draw some fluid off the knee (which I will have to take to the laboratory for examination) so stuck a hypodermic in my knee – right in the most tender part of it.

I have never ever in my life been in so much agony.

water pump in wall house Rue du Pont de Soulles Coutances manche normandy franceOn the way back I called at a pharmacie. I found one in the rue du Pont de Soulles but I was distracted once more.

Almost next door to the pharmacy, there in an alcove in a wall is an old hand pump for pumping up water, presumably from a well or a spring. It’s certainly an interesting place to find one

Meanwhile, in the pharmacy, I asked them to deal with the prescription that the specialist had given me. I have to make up a mix of 50% water 50% clinical alcohol and apply it to a patch that I have to place on my knee. For no longer than 20 minutes (because it will burn otherwise) three times per day.

Clocher de l'ancienne chapelle des frères Augustins rue des teintures coutances manche normandy franceFrom the pharmacy there was a stiff climb up some very narrow streets towards the railway station.

The rue des Teintures is pedestrianised from halfway up, which is just as well because it’s very narrow and twisty. But there’s a beautiful view of parts of the old city that I have never seen before, such as the old chapel of the Augustine monastery.

The old bell-tower is classed as a Historic monument by the French authorities, and quite rightly so in my opinion. However I can’t find out very much about it.

gare de coutances railway station manche normandy franceThere was a three-hour wait for the train back – this new line only has four trains each way per day. So it was a good job that I had taken a book with me and that I had bought a bottle of water.

So while I was waiting for the train I was reading my book, drinking my water and … errr … having a little relax.

A train from St-Lô pulled in but to my surprise it terminated here and then set off back. It’s not like there’s a lot of traffic on the line so I would have thought that they might have run on to at least Granville.

bombardier x 76500 gare de granville  railway station manche normandy franceEventually my train came in – bang on time too which is always good news. There weren’t too many empty seats, which surprised me, but I managed to find a place of my own to sit and relax.

And for the first time for I don’t know how long, there was a ticket collector on the train who was actually checking the tickets. I’d bought mine on line before setting off, so I was quite okay.

I was soon back in Granville. I’d missed the laboratory, but I was just in time to see all of the shops close up. 19:00 already. Where did the day go?

trawlers unloading fish processing plant port de granville harbour manche normandy franceThere was a lot going on down in the town that I saw as I was climbing up the hill.

It goes without saying that with the tide in and the gates open, there was a line of trawlers unloading at the fish-processing plant. I just wish that I could remember what it was like back before 1992 when the Grand Banks were open and the port was heaving with deep-sea trawlers.

And even earlier too, when the railway line was operating and all of the catch was taken away by rail. I shall have to go to the library and do some research into the dockside railway.

wedding party bride photographed port de granville harbour manche normandy franceThere were a couple of people gazing over the wall at something going on down below, so I joined them.

There was a bride down there having her photograph taken amidst the plastic rowing boats. And I’m not sure why because it wouldn’t have been the place where I would have wanted my wedding photographs to be taken.

And that wasn’t everything either. On the way up the hill I’d seen a big black-and-white cat dash across the road, run up a tree, knock a pigeon out, dive out of the tree and drag the stunned bird off in triumph.

Well done him.

Rosemary had rung up while I was out. She rang me back later and we had a really good chat for ages.

For a change I didn’t feel like a big tea, so I just had a nibble here and there. Now I’m off to bed to relax my knee and have a good sleep.

And I need it too. I’ve done 125% of my daily target today – 9.8 kms. And much to my surprise, I don’t feel any worse than I did before I set out.

But I shall probably sleep tonight. I had a little doze here and there in the station but I’ll need more than that.

gare de coutances railway station manche normandy france
gare de coutances railway station manche normandy france

old cars renault estafette coutances manche normandy france
old cars renault estafette coutances manche normandy france

Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-la-Victoire Rue des Teintures, coutances manche normandy france
Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-la-Victoire Rue des Teintures, coutances manche normandy france

fire drill firemen st pierre de coutances manche normandy france
fire drill firemen st pierre de coutances manche normandy france

motorcycle training school st pierre de coutances manche normandy france
motorcycle training school st pierre de coutances manche normandy france

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Coutances manche normandy france
Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Coutances manche normandy france

voie de la victoire Pont de Soulles st pierre de coutances manche normandy france
voie de la victoire Pont de Soulles st pierre de coutances manche normandy france

rue des teintures Centre Hospitalier de Coutances manche normandy france
rue des teintures Centre Hospitalier de Coutances manche normandy france

Clocher de l'ancienne chapelle des frères Augustins rue des teintures coutances manche normandy france
Clocher de l’ancienne chapelle des frères Augustins rue des teintures coutances manche normandy france

bollards with metal inserts rue des teintures coutances manche normandy france
bollards with metal inserts rue des teintures coutances manche normandy france

Clocher de l'ancienne chapelle des frères Augustins rue des teintures Centre Hospitalier de Coutances manche normandy france
Clocher de l’ancienne chapelle des frères Augustins rue des teintures Centre Hospitalier de Coutances manche normandy france

Tuesday 16th April 2019 – BANE OF BRITAIN STRIKES AGAIN!

Yes, people. Yours Truly went to the bank today – and left his card in the machine, didn’t he?

And I didn’t intend to. I went to draw out some cash, and made sure that my money and card were safely stashed away. But then, being totally puzzled by the credit balance, I put the card back into consult the transactions, didn’t I?

So that’s today’s bad news. The good news is that the balance is indeed correct. Something upon which I have been working for a few weeks and which has involved several trips to Brussels over the years has finally come up trumps.

And so a new camera might be on the way, as well as a fretless five-string bass guitar. I’m allowed to reward myself for my efforts.

last night was a bad night yet again. I managed to just about stay awake for all of the film, but then I couldn’t drop off properly. Drifting away and drifting back in as the fancy took me.

Plenty of time to go on several rambles though, and when I return home, I can tell you all about them.

One, though, sticks in my mind. I was travelling yet again with a group of people, several of whom were people with whom I had been on the Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour. I walked into a railway station buffet and sitting in there was the Asian girl who had been pn board. She was sitting on her own so I went to sit by her. asked her what had happened to Boon (her husband), to which she replied that he was in their room resting. Later on, I was on the platform and Marian the photographer was there. She was taking a photo of something on the wall, and stepping further and further back. I shouted at her to stop because she was in danger of falling off the platform. However, she still shuffled back a few paces regardless of my shouting, and took her photo. When she finished I told her to look behind her, which she did and let out a gasp. “You were on the point of falling off the edge just there” I told her. She replied “yes” so I went on to say that her back would have been broken on the rails too. We walked down the platform towards the end of the station, passing a few shops and the buffet on the way. Some of them were brightly illiminated with pink lights, all very artistically. One of them particularly caught my eye, but it took me a while to sort out my camera, and just as I was on the point of photographing it, the buffet closed and they switched off the lights and I was so disappointed.

With no alarm this morning (I’m allowed to recover my lack of lie-in on Sunday) it was about 08:30 that I finally arose from the Dead.

It was rather a late breakfast, of course, and then I rather shamefully fell asleep on the sofa for about 20 minutes.

daffodils herbert hooverplein leuven belgiumAs a result I was rather late going for a walk into town this morning. I did a tour of a few shops.

First of all though I went to the Herbert Hooverplein to see the spring daffodils. They are really beautiful, just as you might expect to see in Flanders and the Netherlands

At the shops, FNAC came up with nothing, but Zeeman produced a shoulder sports-bag for just €4:99.

The backpack is too big to carry around for casual trips and this bag folds up quite nicely into a small space at the bottom of the rucksack to carry around when I’m on a voyage.

At the bank I forgot my card, as I said, and then I went to the Loving Hut. But that’s now officially crossed off my list as the products in there are fewer and fewer, and more and more expensive. On the other hand, the bio shop across town, the Origin’O by the Vismarkt, has everything that I need, including vegan grated cheese.

Back to the bank about my card but it was closed for lunch so I rang up and stopped the card. Now I’ll have to apply for a new one.

tables outside tavern universum herbert hooverplein leuven belgiumOn the way back I had an ice-cream now that the stall is open for the summer, and then I want to sit in the sunshine to eat it.

At the Universun Tavern on the corner of the Tiensestraat and the Herbert Hooverplein, they had set out all of the tables so that people could sit in the sun.

It’s definitely a sign that summer is acumen in.

At the Spar shop I picked up a baguette for lunch to eat with a tomato and my vegan cheese.

This afternoon I fell asleep yet again and then struggled to stay away, not being able to concentrate on anything.

In the end, I read a couple of articles about the High Arctic that I had downloaded the other day.

notary house blijde inkomststraat leuven belgiumTea tonight was the other vegan burger with potatoes and vegetables followed by some fruit, and then I went for a walk around outside to digest my meal.

One route that I don’t usually follow is the Blijde Inkomststraat, the street that goes down to the back of the Herbert Hooverplein and the University Library.

There was this beautiful Flemish maison du maitre down there, and it was all illuminated in the dusk. It’s really brought out the best in the carved statues on the wall above the door.

fountain herbert hooverplein leuven belgiumBut my purpose in going out was to see the new fountain.

I’d had a good look at it earlier but I thought that it might be nicely illuminated in the evening and that would make a really good photograph.

But that was something of a disappointment. I was hoping to see it much better-illuminated than this. They really ought to do better.

Now, I’m all packed and ready to leave for home. It’s an early start as you know so I need to be on form.

Saturday 13th April 2019 – I’VE HAD A …

football us granvillaise le havre AC stade louis dior granville manche normandy france… footfest today.

We started off at the Stade Louis Dior this evening when US Granvillaise were playing Le Havre AC’s 2nd XI. And what a giant of a side hey turned out to be. The two centre-backs, the centre-forward and a couple of other outfielders must have been 6 feet at least, and the goalkeeper towered over everyone by a good head.

And not only that, the two centre-backs were absolutely excellent in the air and with Granville being without an effective cenre-forward (story of their life) they didn’t get a sniff from open play.

The match started off at a roaring pace, with Granville streaming forward in droves, but to no effect whatsoever although they did hit the bar on one occasion. But as the match progressed Le Havre came more into it and they must have had the fastest team down the flanks (wingers and full-backs) that I have ever seen.

But that was all to no avail too because fast though they might have been, they couldn’t cross a ball to save their lives so we never got to see how good in the air the centre-forward might have been. And in the end, he was taken off and replaced by someone smaller, faster and more direct.

But Granville took the lead after about 50 minute. The little n°10 had the ball at his feet and dribbled his way into the penalty area. He was going nowhere so he was just inviting someone to bring him down – and of course, someone duly obliged. Penalty for Granville, which was duly slotted away.

The fast guy up front scored an equaliser about 15 minutes later, but then with about 15 minutes to go, Granville won a free kick about 25 yards out. It was a beautiful ball over the wall and although the big keeper got his hand to it, he could only help it on its way into the net.

So at ling last, after about 10 matches, Granville finally win a game. They hung on against some desperate last-minute attacks and we were all relieved when the final whistle went.

Back at home, we had TNS playing Barry Town in the Welsh Premier League. No matter how good a part-time team might be, they can’t match the level of fitness of a full-time club and in almost every game you see, the last 15 minutes, when the part-timers run out of steam, areusually crucial.

And so it was today. Barry played well for the first 60 minutes. They couldn’t match the quality of TNS of course – no-one in the Welsh Premier League can, but at least they were keeping up and being 1-0 down wasn’t the end of the world. But they flagged badly at the end and at about 80 minutes, at 2-0 down, they had clearly thrown in the towel. They basically stopped playing and it was embarrassing to see how easy it became for TNS as they had no opposition out there.

The match finished 4-0 to TNS and they could have had four or five more had they really tried.

I had a reasonable night’s sleep last night although it was still something of a struggle to rouse myself.

pontoon port de granville harbour manche normandy franceAnd after the usual morning procedure I did some work until about 09:00 when I headed into town.

No major shop today seeing as I’m heading off to Belgium tomorrow, so just a couple of things from the market.

Seizing the opportunity, I went to to harbour to see if the pontoon was there and if there was anyone around it who could tell me what was going on.

pontoon port de granville harbour manche normandy franceI was however totally out of luch. No-one about at all.

But all of the machinery was lying around on deck, and the nature of all of this is still mystifying me.

But the pipes on board would seem to give me some kind of clue. They look rather like core drill bits to me, but why would they be drilling into the bottom of the harbour.

After a prowl around the docks I had a prowl around the market. I picked up a nice baguette, but no baking apples anywhere so I shall have to wait for a while to make my apple pie. But I did have a joke with a vegetable stall-holder and dome Belgian clients about a Potatomat, which regular readers of this rubbish will recall.

bad parking rue paul poirier granville manche normandy franceMy route home via the rue Paul Poirier was interrupted by yet another disgraceful example of bad parking.

There’s a parcels delivery van from France Express delivering parcels in the street, and he’s simply pulled up, on a busy Saturday morning too, right in the middle of the street.

And that’s notwithstanding the fact that there is a parking place available right at the side of where he’s stopped.

I went over to ask him if he needed any help in parking his van, because if he didn’t know how I would gladly do it for him, but he took no notice.

ferry ile de chausey port de granville harbour manche normandy franceBack here I had a … errr … relax for a while before doing some more work, and then out on the wall for lunch.

During my sojourn on the walls, I was entertained by one of the Ile de Chausey ferries. It had gathered up a load of tourists and was heading off for an afternoon’s trip around the bay.

There was also a wedding taking place in the public rooms so there were crowds about and around all of the parking places.

Later, I attacked the dictaphone notes and shifted another big pile of those, before walking off to the football, where I spent most of the second half talking to an old man there.

So now it’s bed-time, even if I don’t feel much like it. I’m travelling tomorrow so I need to be at my best.

And I forgot my shower today. Ohhh dear.

l'iris de suze fish processing plant port de granville harbour manche normandy france
l’iris de suze fish processing plant port de granville harbour manche normandy france

fishing boat port de granville harbour manche normandy france
fishing boat port de granville harbour manche normandy france

ferry ile de chausey port de granville harbour manche normandy france
ferry ile de chausey port de granville harbour manche normandy france

ferry ile de chausey port de granville harbour manche normandy france
ferry ile de chausey port de granville harbour manche normandy france

ferry ile de chausey port de granville harbour manche normandy france
ferry ile de chausey port de granville harbour manche normandy france

Thursday 11th April 2019 – IT’S BEEN ANOTHER …

… day when I haven’t been all that productive.

It didn’t help by not being out of bed until 07:30. I really need to get a grip these days before I miss a train or something.

Plenty of time during the night to go on a little voyage though. I was with Alvin last night and we were going through a pile of LPs that he had left. He wanted some of them copied, which meant playing and recording on blank records. I had a look through some of the stuff but there wasn’t anything there of any interest or importance as far as I was concerned, but he insisted on having it done. He told me that when it had been done the original records had to be taken to a certain place where I would get some money for it but the duplicates would be retained here. I shouldn’t take those as they would hand them back and cut down on his money. I said fair enough but it was a strange way to go about it. I couldn’t get the thing organised properly and made loads of mistakes trying to copy these albums but I carried on. While this was doing he was doing some calculations so I went to see what he was doing – “working 11 hours at $8:10 per hour”. I asked what it was and he replied that he was trying to work out if he could afford to be a policeman in Los Angeles. I said “not at $8:10 per hour! No-one could work for that”. He told me about all of the advantages he would receive and there was a fund to help out people who moved from a high-paid job to a low-paid job to make sure that their mortgages were paid. It all sounded quite precarious to me. But somewhere along the line, up in Neston I had an old house, on the roadside with newer houses build behind it. I was trying to find out how old it was but I wasn’t being very serious with my enquiries but I don’t remember very much about this.

After breakfast I had a shower and prettied myself up, and then set the washing machine off on a cycle. One of the things that I did was to put new bedding on the bed and wash the previous bedding. The stuff that was on it was on the verge of walking into the washing machine all on its own.

boat from chantier navale leaving port de granville harbour manche normandy franceAnd then I headed off into town for the shopping.

And I was surprised to see, amongst the boats that were waiting to leave the harbour when the gates open, this particular boat.

I’m almost certain that it’s the boat that was up on blocks in the chantier navale for a couple of weeks being resprayed and painted. She looks as if she’s off on her travels now.

repointing medieval wall granville manche normandy franceAnd despite having all of this massive array of scaffolding erected on the wall higher up, they are still working away at the base of the walls moving away all of the loose rock.

The machine that they are using is quite impressive. It’s a little mini-digger with a hydraulic breaker on the jib of it.

It’s breaking off all of the loose rock which is then being shovelled up into a skip which you can see in the foreground.

la granvillaise normandy trader thora granville manche normandy franceIt’s quite busy down in the harbour this morning too.

We have La Granvillaise moored up at the quay where Marité usually hangs out, and Thora is still there too, but she’s moved berth over to where the gravel boats tie up.

That’s because Normandy Trader has come into port, presumably on the early morning tide. They are already loading her up too, so clearly they don’t intend to hang about.

old man sharpening knives rue couraye granville manche normandy franceOn the way up the hill in the rue Couraye I noticed a really old man with a very interesting machine.

In there is a grinding wheel worked by a foot treadle rather like an old-fashioned sewing machine in the pre-electric days, and he seems to be sharpening knives with it.

It’s really nice to see a good old-fashioned artisan peddling … “groan” – ed … his craft on the streets even today. There ought to be more of it, I reckon.

gates open fishing boat leaving port de granville harbour manche normandy franceLIDL didn’t come up with much so I headed off for home, picking up a baguette on the way.

The gates of the harbour were now open and boats were leaving the port, including this fishing boat. Quite a few had already left, including Thora and Normandy Trader.

While Thora was in and out in 24 hours, the latter had an even quicker turn-round. I was right about her not intending to hang about in the harbour. They must be really busy just now.

It makes me wonder when I was saying last year that I hadn’t seen them for quite a while. I just reckon that their turn-round must have been so quick that I must have missed it.

pontoon port de granville harbour manche normandy franceMeanwhile, elsewhere in the harbour, the men were out there again on their pontoon.

It’s quite a mystery to me what they are doing out there. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that about 18 months ago they drained the harbour completely and dredged it out. So there can’t be much in there that needs checking.

I shall have to make enquiries at the port office next time I’m down there. Maybe they will tell me.

Back here I had a drink and a sit down, and then hung out the washing to dry. Once that was done I made a start on the dictaphone notes, but had to knock off for lunch.

joly france ferry ile de chausey baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy franceEven though it was rather windy out there, it was such a beautiful warm afternoon. And so i took my butties outside and sat on my wall overlooking the harbour.

And I was in luck this afternoon too. One of the ferry boats that does the run to the Ile de Chausey was coming into harbour. She’d obviously been on a little outing earlier this morning as there was quite a crowd of people.

She pulled up at her mooring at the ferry terminal and then unloaded all of her passengers.

joly france ferry ile de chausey port de granville harbour manche normandy franceAnd then much to my surprise, she collected up another load of passengers, and then headed off out again into the Baie de Mont St Michel.

And with her having her back turned towards me, I could see that she’s the Joly France. Her sister is tied up in the harbour.

Of course, it shouldn’t really be any surprise that she’s busy. It’s school holidays in Granville of course and all of the kids are at a loose end and will be for next week too.

And so we can can expect to see much more of the Ile de Chausey ferries out and about then while the kids are off school.

lys noir baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy franceThe Ile de Chausey ferries aren’t the only things out there right now.

There’s an old sailing ship or, rather, a large yacht out there too. From what I could see of her, I think that she’s the Lys Noir.

We haven’t seen all that much of her just recently, so it’s nice to see her back. In fact, I’m wondering whether she might have been the sailing boat out there the other day that I thought was the Charles-Marie

Butties having been eaten, I came back and had another marathon session on the dictaphone notes.

Now I’m back into my notes for my trip around Labrador in 2017 which is good news. That’s good news because when that’s finished I can tie up the photos to the text and make a start on those web pages too.

st pair sur mer baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy franceLater on, I went out for my afternoon walk as usual. Today, it was around the Pointe-du Roc.

It was such a beautiful day and the haze was farther out than it has been just recently, so i could tke a really good photograph of the Baie de Mont St Michel and St Pair sur Mer just across on the other side.

And I was really impressed today with the colour of the sea today. Fr the last few weeks it’s been a murky grey colour, but today we have a nice proper blue sea.

flags european union france normandy granville manche normandy franceAnd with it being rather windy out there today, I could see the flag that they were putting up yesterday.

It’s actually the flag of Granville and that’s new to me because I didn’t realise that Granville actually had its own flag.

The red one with the two golden lions on it is the flag of the Duchy of Normandy, and I’m sure that you don’t need me to explain the other two.

On that note, I came back for a hot chocolate and, shame as it is to say it, a little … errr … relax on the office chair.

There was still enough time to do something else before tea, so seeing as I wasn’t in a particularly enthusiastic mood, I made a start on the searchable text database for the photos for June 2018.

For tea, I founf a lentil and mushroom curry in the freezer. It was one that I had made on 7th November … errr … 2017 and it tasted just as delicious as it did back then.

It seems that I’m getting right down to the bottom of the pile of curries now. I’m not sure how many ancient ones there might be still in there, but there can’t be many.

In a short while I’ll have to make a start on making some more.

fishing boats waiting to enter port de granville harbour manche normandy francelater on I went for my evening walk around the city walls.

There were still a few people out there enjoying the evening sunshine, and also a dozen or so fishing boats loitering around just outside the harbour.

It must be that the tide isn’t in enough for them to reach the Fish Processing Plant and tie up to unload. But I don’t imagine that they will have long to wait.

And so I carried on and came home.

Tonight I’m hoping for another early night and a good sleep. Tomorrow I’m planning on having something of a tidy-up in the kitchen and living room.

Things are getting a little untidy in there so I need to apply myself. After all, I’m off on my travels again early on Sunday.

scaffolding medieval wall granville manche normandy france
scaffolding medieval wall granville manche normandy france

boats ready to leave port de granville harbour manche normandy france
“boats ready to leave port de granville harbour manche normandy france

joly france ferry ile de chausey port de granville harbour manche normandy france
joly france ferry ile de chausey port de granville harbour manche normandy france

lys noir baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france
lys noir baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france

Tuesday 19th March 2019 – I’VE HAD SOME …

… good news today. Lots of it too. And as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, it’s been a long time since I’ve had any.

But first of all, let’s talk about last night.

Last night I was the tour manager on board a ship such as the Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour. Two male passengers, family men, had been caught fighting. I had had them in before me and without taking sides, I’d cautioned them as to their further conduct on board. Some time later, they had been caught fighting yet again, with the victim of the first attack trying to stab the other man with a pencil. It was all completely out of hand. so in the end I had to invoke a formal hearing about it. Whilst I sympathised with the victim of the affair, you can’t attack someone with a weapon, no matter what weapon it is, and expect to get away with it. So in the end my verdict was that they should be confined to their cabins until we reached the next port and then I would put them ashore to fend for themselves. At some point though, and I don’t know exactly where, I awoke in the middle of all of this at about 04:00 and although I was awake, this voyage carried on in my subconscious and it was certainly interesting.
Later on, I was back on my travels again, in the south-east USA near the coast, examining the map of the Carolina coast and wondering how come on my various travels there in the past, I’d missed so much of he coastline according to this map. By now I was in the company of some young girl and we were visiting some kind of suburban area of apartment buildings of the type built in Europe in the 1980s, side-on to the road and sloping down to a forest in the background. We were on our way to a school because it was the fourth anniversary of the disappearance of a girl aged 6 and they were having some kind of “thoughts and prayers” vigil. You could tell what kind of school it was because in North America, the more exclusive the school, the more plaid the girls wear. And while these girls were in a British-type of uniform, there was plenty of it. And I counted, amongst all of the children assembled there, not even a handful of children from any ethnic minority, and this of course is the “Deep South”. There were several policemen there and several male assistants folding flags and the like, and they were mainly of ethnic minority. I was chatting to a couple of them about a few things to do with the service, because after all it’s the first of its type that I had ever attended. But in the end we took out place right at the top end of the assembly hall, and the service began.

This morning I didn’t quite leap out of bed with alacrity, but it was something like. And after the usual performance I had a few things to do.

blood donor tent monseigneur ladeuzeplein leuven belgiumBy 10:00 I went for a walk into town for a baguette for lunch and also to have a wander around a few shops.

In the Monseigneur Ladeuzeplein there was a huge marquee erected where the market had been the other day, so I went over to have a look to see what it was.

Apparently there is a big drive for blood donor volunteers in Belgium right now and that’s good news for me because it’s blood donors who are helping to keep me alive right now.

rebuilding world war 1 plaque architect tiensestraat leuven belgiumI’ve spoken … “at great length and on many occasions” – ed … about the destruction that was inflicted on the city during the German invasion of August 1914.

It was practically burnt to the ground as part of the deliberate German policy of “frightfulness” and the famous library and all of its contents going back to the Dark Ages were totally destroyed.

It wasn’t until after the end of the war that the rebuilding of the city began.

rebuilding world war 1 plaque architect tiensestraat leuven belgiumYou can tell the buildings that were destroyed during the occupation.

They all bear this kind of plaque, with the date of 1914 on it, with some kind of symbolic emblem displaying a sword and a conflagration.

This is presumably representing the Biblical “fire and sword” of Chapter 66:16 of the Book of Isaiah – he who was so-called because he had two eyes and one Isaiah than the other.

paving tiensestraat leuven belgiumOn the way back to my little apartment I walked up the Tiensestraat.

When I was on my way into town yesterday I noticed that they were working on the pavement here so I went for a closer look.

They seem to be relaying the paving stones here. Judging by the raised manhole covers, it looks as if they had dug it up for the relaying of pipes and cables.

loading wood sheets into building tiensestraat leuven belgiumFurther on down the street they’ve been doing some renovations on a couple of the buildings.

Today there was a lorry here delivering a pile of wooden hardboard or plywood sheets and I was lucky enough to be there when they were passing them up to someone on the first floor using a crane.

It’s certainly better than taking them one at a time up the stairs.

Back home I made my butties and then I headed off back to the railway station.

933 am 86 automotrice desiro 08147 belgiumMy train was the AM 96 number 933 going to the south-west of the city, passing by Brussels Schuman station where I was intending to alight.

The other one is a Siemens “Desiro”, one of the single-current examples that came into service about 10 years ago and which became rather notorious for their unreliability.

We had a really friendly, cheerful chatty ticket collector on our train, which is always nice to see. But apart from that, I sat quietly and ate my butties.

Out of the station and up the road to the Post Office. And much to my dismay, the Post Office there has closed down and it’s now the Polish Embassy. GRRRRR!

Back on another train and round to Bruxelles-Midi.

First stop was the Tour du Midi and after queueing for quite a while, I was eventually seen by the receptionist who sent me off to see someone else. And, much to my surprise, I am indeed entitled to a Belgian State pension and the guy whom I saw helped me start things off.

Next was round the corner to the Avenue Fonsny and the main Post Office there. But that’s closed down too.

Eventually someone in a hotel pointed me in the direction of another Post Office and I even managed to find it too. And here there is yet more good news. Not only do I have a deposit account there, I also have a current account, and I’d forgotten about that too.

Unfortunately that matter couldn’t be resolved then and there. The accounts are classed as dormant so I need to write to the Head Office.

The counter clerk gave me the address so I’ll do that when I’m back home. And how long it’s going to take is anyone’s guess but if you don’t start, you don’t finish.

class 19 electric locomotive gare de leuven belgiumBack to the Bruxelles-Midi railway station, and I didn’t have to wait too long for a train to come in.

It’s one of the push-me pull-you class 19 electrics and with it being the start of rush hour, it was pretty crowded too.

I went right up to the front because that’s usually where most of the empty seats may be found. I don’t fancy fighting my way through the crowds.

funfair dodgems martelarenplein leuven belgiumI’d noticed the other day that there was a funfair setting up on the Martelarenplein outside the railway station.

It’s now operational so I had a little bit of a wander around to see what was going on.

The answer was “nothing much” because there were only half a dozen or so stalls there. Nothing at all like the big one that we had in Leuven the other week.

Back to here, to find that an appointment that I have been desperate to arrange since the summer has finally come through. I’ll know my destiny on April 24th at long last.

Tonight there was football on the internet and I watched what I could on my creaking laptop, which actually did much better than I was expecting.

The Welsh Premier League representative team played a representative team from the National Conference in England. The English team scored two – a goalkeeping howler and an own goal, but the Welsh team scored two of the best goals that you would ever be likely to see at this level of football.

It was a great advert for the Welsh Premier league, that’s for sure.

So now I’m off to bed. I need to be up early in the morning for my trip home. And I’ll be glad to be back.

paving tiensestraat leuven belgium
paving tiensestraat leuven belgium

war damage architect tiensevest belgium
war damage architect tiensevest belgium

Saturday 19th January 2019 – PART THREE …

… of “hunt the passport” continued today. And the result was exactly the same as Parts One and Two.

Even donning a pair of rubber gloves and sifting through two weeks of putrefying rubbish in the waste bin in the kitchen failed to produce a result.

The alarm went off as usual and in accordance with usual practice these days I was rather tardy in rising from the dead.

After breakfast I made a start on searching in the living room for the passport. That involved firstly going piece-by-piece through all of the cardboard and paper that had accumulated here over the last two weeks.

Once I’d done that, it all went into the back of Caliburn ready for the tip one of these days.

fibre optic cable granville manche normandy franceA little later I wandered off into town.

I’d noticed the other day that a strange sign had appeared by the archway into the medieval town, and I had overlooked to go and read what it was saying.

So I took the opportunity to go over there for a read, and it’s concerned with the roadworks for the fibre-optic cabling that is taking place all over Normandy.

First stop was the Bank. I know that they told me on the telephone that they didn’t have it, but it needed to be confirmed. And it was too, much to my dismay.

But over the road is the photo place, and I need a pile of photos for various things, so he rattled me off a quick pile of them.

On the way back I called into the market for a baguette and then wandered round to the Police Station to see if by any chance the passport had been found and handed in.

But as regular readers of rubbish might recall, it’s times like this that the Police Station is closed. Instead I went next door to the Carrefour and bought my rubber gloves.

bedford CF caravanette granville manche normandy franceOn my way down into town I’d noticed that our old friend (and “old” being the operative word) the Bedford CF was parked up in it usual place in the rue des Terreneuviers

And so on the way back up the hill to home, I took a photograph of it. It’s been a while since we’ve featured an old vehicle on here

It’s probably at least 35 years old, but it keeps on rolling along regardless. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall a few months ago that they were taking out the engine at the side of the road on one occasion that it was here.

Back at the flat, Jackie contacted me. No luck at the Deutsche Bahn either but at least the loss is recorded and I have a file number. So I printed out the report, printed out a copy of the passport (I keep a scan of all of my important documents “just in case”), put it all in the expired passport from 2010 and put that in my pocket.

If I’m controlled on my journey, at least I’ll have something to show for it.

After lunch I went through the waste bin and that was horrible with all of the stuff that was in there. But it had to be done and at least I know that it’s not in there.

But I couldn’t see the rail tickets from my visit just before Christmas, so I don’t know where they are. And so I reckon that wherever they are, my passport is there too.

It’s certainly not anywhere else in the house. I’ve been right through it so I’m reasonably sure of that, so how did I manage to write the passport number on the form that I have?

Tea was out of a tin tonight, and then we had the football. The Welsh League Cup between Cardiff Metropolitan and Cambrian & Clydach, the team from Tonypandy.

Cambrian & CLydach are from the Second Level but they did really well and took some impressive scalps on their way to the final. They played quite well with a couple of really good players, but Cardiff Metro had much more experience. Cambrian should have had a penalty early in the game, but they should also have had two men sent off in the first 35 minutes – one for a stamping and the other for an elbow.

Cardiff Metro scored a goal in the first half, and a second with the final kick of the game following a breakaway from a Cambrian corner, with the Cambrian keeper stranded upfield.

The game hinged on a substitution from Cambrian after 60 minutes. They brought on a really quick and tricky forward, but took off the experienced centre-forward Richard French. He’s big and muscular and throws his weight around and while he might not have all that much skill, he was making his presence felt and unsettling the defence quite considerably.

Cambrian had a good spell for about 10 minutes after the substitution, and had they had French up front, they might have made their pressure count.

So now it’s bedtime. An alarm in the morning because I have a train to catch. And I’m not looking forward to it.

Wednesday 5th December 2018 – WE DIDN’T …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 20th November 2018 – I’VE NO IDEA …

… where I visited during the night but wherever it was, I was still there when the alarm went off. Dead to the world, in fact.

It took me a while to haul myself out of bed and organise myself properly. And after breakfast I had a couple of things that needed doing.

A shower followed, and then I dressed for the streets.

thora port de granville harbour manche normandy franceAs the tide was out, I took my new route, down the steps, across the fish dock and the path over the top of the tidal gates onto the commercial dock.

I remember seeing Thora in the port yesterday and I thought that I had seen her still here last night. And she’s still here this morning, looking as if she’s taking on a load for Jersey.

But there was no-one about to talk to – she was doing a good impression of the Marie Celeste.

My destination was the Post Office, where I posted off my letter to Canada. And while I was there I bought a pack of 10 pre-stamped envelopes for use in France. i’m down to my last one here.

On the way back, I picked up one of my favourite baguettes for lunch.

Over the last week or so I’ve taken piles of photos but I’ve been too busy to deal with them. So having made myself a coffee, I sat down and started to review them, edit them and upload them.

And believe it or not, I did manage to get a shot of one of the dolphins yesterday. I’ll post it tomorrow so you can all see it.

Lunch was in here again. it didn’t rise much above 5°C today so I wasn’t going to sit on the wall.

Just by way of a change I’ve done some tidying up too. There was a huge pile of cables and lead that I had brought with me from the Auvergne so I sorted them out and tidied them up. And SHOCK! HORROR! I threw away a pile of stuff away too.

That’s not like me at all, is it?

thora granville manche normandy franceLater on, I went for my usual afternoon walk around the Pointe de la Roc.

And there I was greeted by the sight of Thora sailing … “dieseling” – ed … off into the sunset on her way back to Jersey.

Enhancing the colours a little has brought out a really nice effect on this image.

thora granville manche normandy franceShe put on a slight turn to port after that so I took another photo of her.

Back here I cropped her out and blew up the image. I can do that these days, despite modern anti-terrorism legislation.

Considering that this has been cropped out and enlarged at full focal length, it’s not come out too badly given the distances that I was having to cover.

sailing school granville baie de mont st michel manche normandy franceRound the corner and looking out over the Baie de Mont St Michel, I could see that the sailing school had been out this afternoon.

I have half a mind … “yes, quite!” – ed … to go out and learn to sail one of these days, but I’m not quite sure how I can fit it in given my state of health and medical requirements.

A theoretical course on sailing and navigation would be right up my street (or down my river) though.

lifting trawler out of water port de granville harbour manche normandy franceThere wa even more excitement down at the ship repairer’s.

It’s not every day that I’m lucky enough to see them lifting a boat out of the water but I was in luck today. It looks as if they have another job to do on a fishing trawler and they were lifting her out with the hoist.

I’ll have to check tomorrow to see if she has been put up on blocks ready for work.

trawler aztec lady port de granville harbour manche normandy franceThe highlight of the walk though had to be this delightful nautical danse macabre.

A trawler had unloaded at the fish dock and was heading off into the inner harbour, just as Aztec Lady was on her way out.

They waltzed and weaved around each other as they sorted themselves out into their respective routes.

Back here, I had a little … errr … repose for a while and then there was another job that needed doing. I’ve had a temporary curtain hanging in here ever since I moved in and it’s been on my mind to have it taken up to the correct size.

But that’s not happened so I took it off and pinned it to the right size.

And then I finished off all of my photos and uploaded them to the internet.

night port de granville harbour manche normandy franceTea tonight was a stuffed pepper and then I went out for my walk. Freezing cold outside, it was, and so that probably explains why there wasn’t a single person (or even a married one) out on the streets tonight.

Beautiful it was though – clear and crisp night with some lovely moonlight.

Now I’m keen to see if I can have another good night. And while I’m dozing off I’ll leave you with a few more photos.

thora granville manche normandy france
Thora going back to Jersey

sailing school baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france
Sailing school baie de mont st michel granville

sailing school baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france
Sailing school baie de mont st michel granville

trawler port de granville harbour manche normandy france
Trawler Port de Granville harbour

trawler lifted out of water shipyard port de granville harbour manche normandy france
Trawler being lifted out of the water and moved across the shipyard on the hoist.

beach plat gousset granville manche normandy france
The beach at the Plat Gousset

beach plat gousset granville manche normandy france
The beach at the Plat Gousset

port de plaisance granville harbour manche normandy france
The Port de Plaisance at Granville harbour

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

… out for my evening walk tonight.

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

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

And during the night too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tuesday 7th Auguat 2018 – JUST HAVE A LOOK …

railway accident granville manche normandy france… at the front of the train that brought us back from Paris this afternoon.

If you look carefully, you’ll notice all of the marks and dents on the front cowling around the coupling hitch. That’s right – I’ve been involved in a railway accident (well, of a sort) on the way back home.

It’s all happening to me these days, isn’t it?

Even though it was a (comparatively) early nigbt for me, I was totally flat out until the alarm went off. No noisy neighbours, no power cuts, nothing to disturb me.

We had the usual morning performance but instead of a shower I went out early to the SPAR supermarket down the road. A baguette, tomato, banana and a reel of plaster. I’ve noticed that with all of the walking that I’ve done just recently I have a blister on my little toe and I need to pad it out.

Today I have vegan cheese (from the Loving Hut yesterday) and tomato butties, with a banana for pudding. And having plastered my little toe, I can’t remember what I did with the rest of the reel of plaster. Age is certainly catching up with me.

Having packed, I checked out and walked through the burning early-morning sun to the station, where I just missed the 09:09 train.

486 am96 multiple unit leuven belgiumBut not to worry, the 09:19 train from Genk to Blankenberge was not far behind so I didn’t have long to wait.

It’s one of the AM96 class of multiple units, built in 1996 and although they might not look it, they are capable of 100mph, which is just as well because I didn’t want to hang about.

And even though it was packed, I managed to find a comfy seat.

It was a good plan to arrive in Brussels early as it gave me an opportunity to visit the bank that’s in the vicinity. I managed to cancel the monthly payment for the parking in Leuven, but as for activating my bank cards for use outside the EU, apparently there’s a problem. The copy of the electricity bill that I presented to the bank last time as proof of identity of my change of address has been rejected. I need to contact my own branch to see what I have to do next.

Anyway, I don’t have the time to go to Schuman so this is something that I need to do by writing when I arrive back home. Just one more task added to the heap.

thalys tgv bruxelles gare du midi belgium august aout 2018The TGV pulled in a couple of minutes late. It’s one of the first-generation ones and they are now starting to age and are showing it.

Little patches of corrosion appearing around the most exposed places and just painted over. It makes you wonder what they are like where you can’t see – not the kind of thing for a nervous passenger when you are hurtling along at 300kph.

Apart from that though the voyage was quite uneventful. Except, of course, that I somehow managed to be convinced into lifting down all of the baggage of a group of Dutch women. And I reckon that it would have been so much easier for them to have bought tickets for the kids instead of stuffing them into the cases – unless it was lead off the local church roof that they were transporting.

10 minutes late arriving in Paris, but it didn’t matter one jot because the metro was strangely deserted and I arrived at my platform in a new record 35 minutes. And had I done that the other day I might just have caught my train.

The train to Granville was busy but I was in luck (for a change) – at least at the start of my journey anyway.

eiffel tower sacre coeur montmartre franceNot only was the seat next to me empty but I was on the north side of the train.

Not only did that mean that I was out of the sun, it meant that after all this time I finally managed to take a good shot of the Eiffel Tower.

And not only that. If you look on the horizon to the right of the image you’ll see Montmartre and the Eglise de Sacre Coeur.

You aren’t half having your money’s worth, aren’t you?

solar farm surdon normandy franceWe rolled on and on through the countryside, with me rolling in and out of sleep (just by way of a change).

In the past I’ve seen something that looked very much like a solar farm just across the road from the railway station at Surdon.

And so being in the right place at the right time I was able to confirm that it is indeed a solar farm. That’s quite interesting.

heavy storm granville manche normandy franceAnd so off we set again to continue on our route.

The weather was slowly starting to deteriorate by now and by the time we arrived in the vicinity of Vire it had changed dramatically.

The skies had gone completely grey and overcast, and it looked as if we were on the point of receiving a right old pasting.

anvil cloud storm granville manche normandy franceA little further on we were presented with a perfect example of an “anvil” storm cloud which you can see  right in the middle of the photograph.

And when we stopped at Vire, we were met by a torrential rainstorm. There was a terrific gale blowing that was whipping up all kinds of dust, vegetation and other objects.

It really was impressive.

We carried on through the weather, but we didn’t get far.

railway accident villedieu les poeles normandy franceAbout half-way between Vire and Villedieu-les-Poeles we ground to a halt, right across a level crossing, to the dismay of a couple of farmers and motorists who were trying to cross.

After we’d been stopped for five or ten minutes, we had an announcement. Apparently a very large branch had blown down off a tree alongside the railway line in the storm, and we had hit it.

We had to have the train inspected to make sure that there was no significant damage and that it was safe to continue.

As a result we were a good 40 minutes late arriving in Granville, and I had a brisk walk home.

port de granville harbour gate opening manche normandy franceThe storm that we had had in Vire had clearly passed through Granville as well because the streets were littered with all kinds of debris.

But I was much more interested in this particular sight just here.

I can’t recall if I’ve ever seen the harbour gates actually in the process of opening, but I was in luck today because they were actually in operation as I walked past;

They are open for about six hours a day, I reckon. 90 minutes before High Tide, and they close 90 minutes after High Tide.

And not long after I returned, we had a torrential rainstorm. That put me off going for my evening walk – not that it mattered because I have done 109% of my daily effort.

But one thing that came out of this voyage, and that was that instead of taking my backpack and a small suitcase, I crammed everything into my new large backpack and took that.

And it worked just fine. There was an issue with the zip but I felt much better with it and I was certainly much more mobile. I shall have to do that again.

Thursday 2nd August 2018 – NOW HERE’S …

thora granville manche normandy france… a thing.

Not so many days ago I was saying that we hadn’t seen Grima for quite some considerable time. So when I walked into town later this morning, I was surprised to see this boat moored up to the quayside.

At first glance I thought that it was Grima, albiet having had a major refit because, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, she was looking rather tired after almost 45 years of service.

thora granville manche normandy franceBut on closer examination she isn’t Grima at all but another former Shetland ferry called Thora.

She’s not quite a sister of Grima because she’s slightly larger and has a different superstructure.

But she also worked around the Shetland Islands and the last information that I have was that she was laid up as a reserve in 2011.

thora port de granville harbour manche normandy franceAnyway, here she is in all her glory. A rather blurred photograph unfortunately but it was taken rather late at night on a very slow exposure.

And I would have liked to have found out much more about her, but there was no-one around to ask.

On eof these days I’ll have to go down there when there are people around, and see if I can talk my way into having a guided tour.

It was another bad night last night. I spent most of it tossing and turning. It wasn’t until light that I started to drift off to sleep. And so I rather ignored the alarm when it went off.

With having a late start and a late breakfast, it was getting rather late to walk up to LIDL. And then Ingrid appeared on the internet so we had a really good chat for over an hour.

No chance of going shopping now so I just popped into town for a baguette, when I encountered Thora.

I don’t understand these lizards.

For my lunch I went and sat on the wall as usual. Two lizards came to keep me company, and although I dropped three pieces of pear on the floor, they spent most of the time fighting over just one of the pieces, totally ignoring the other two.

Back here I had a shower and cut my hair, and then started to tidy up. Everywhere is vacuumed and I just need to wash the bathroom and the floors, which I can do tomorrow before I go to the station.

I also did a lot more tidying up, and there’s not all that much more to do now.

Tea was one of the pies out of the freezer, and that reminded me of something. I have some gluten-free pastry here so I made a couple of green bean and mushroom pies for tea tomorrow night. No sense in wasting the pastry, is there?

channel islands ferry granville manche normandy franceIt was another beautiful evening when I went for a walk around the headland.

There were crowds of people out there tonight picnicking in the lovely weather, and while I was looking out to sea I noticed a movement right way in the distance.

And one of the advantages of having a really decent telephoto lens and image editor is that you can crop and enlarge the image to see what’s going on.

channel islands ferry granville manche normandy franceNo prizes for guessing what it is of course.

It’s the Channel Islands ferry, the old one (I’ve not seen the new one for quite a while, thinking on – maybe she’s up at Barneville) coming back from the last run of the day from St Helier.

The tide is on its way in right now so it’s the right time for the ferry to come back and moor up. And then, I imagine, she’ll be going off into the inner harbour for the night.

marite port de granville harbour manche normandy franceShe’s not the only one who’s back in port right now.

As well as Thora who is still where I saw her at lunchtime, Marité has also returned from her latest voyage and is moored up here at her quayside this evening.

She doesn’t appear on any port call list that I can find so it looks as if she has just been on a trip around the bay. But not, presumably, at five bob a head.

So now that I’m back, I’m going to have an early night. I’ve managed to go for a whole day without crashing out, and I’m going to be busy for the next few days, so I need to make sure I’m in good form.

Not quite sure how I’m going to manage that though.

Tuesday 24th July 2018 – I’VE HAD ANOTHER …

… bad day today.

Sitting down at the desk at about 14:30 this afternoon I was overwhelmed by fatigue. And not just a tiredness, but a completely “out-of-it” kind of tiredness. I had to lie down on the bed and that was where I stayed until 17:30 – completely out of it.

And it wasn’t as if I had had a late night either. It wasn’t as early as it might have been, to say the least, but it was nothing like as late a it has been just recently.

And once I’d gone to sleep (which didn’t take long) I was out until the alarm went off too.

Leaving the bed fairly quickly, I had the usual morning performance and then after breakfast I set about moving more of the dashcam files into the dedicated drive.

It didn’t take long to fill that drive and so in the end I had to dig out a big one that I bought a while ago and start to copy stuff from one drive to the other.

While that one was going on I had a shower and a tidy-up, and then wandered off to Brico Cash.

They had some kitchen worktops on special offer – 1m80 long for just €15:95 each. So I bought two of them. A few other bits and pieces too, but surprisingly, no black-faced melamine.

After I’d been to the Casino next door for a cucumber and a baguette I went to Mr Bricolage but they were closed. And then to LeClerc’s bricolage shop. And they didn’t have any black-faced melamine either.

And all this because I couldn’t buy a bed in light oak at IKEA last year. That’s why I ended up with a black one and why my bedroom has to be black.

What made this worse was that when I assembled the bed I found that it was indeed a light oak one that had been painted black. Quite a surprise because a light oak one wasn’t an option.

ferry ile de chausey granville manche normandy franceLunch was with two of my lizards (a third one was loitering in the undergrowth) and nothing much else, because there wasn’t much going on.

But just as I was about to pack up and go back to my apartment on eof the Ile de Chausey ferries came around the headland to give me a few moments of entertainment.

And then I came back to have my wasted afternoon.

Today’s task was to upload a pile of photos, edit them, and then start back on editing the blog to add the photos where I hadn’t done that, so that they can be brought up to date.

Tea was a stuffed pepper and spicy rice, followed by my walk around the headland.

As for the file transfer that I made earlier, this is going to take a while. I’m up to 26% so we’re talking about 3 days for this transfer.

But I shan’t be waiting for it. I’ll be going to bed. Despite having had a lengthy crash-out, I’m feeling rather tired. I just can’t keep going like I used to.