Tag Archives: big wheel

Wednesday 25th August 2021 – I WENT TO …

… see the rapist this afternoon.

rue cambernon Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallFirst thing that I have to say about it all is that there’s traffic flowing again down the Rue Cambernon again.

It looks as if the braderie was only a one-day thing because everything seems to have been cleared away, all of the streets are now open and the cars are driving along them.

It’s a shame really because for that one day it was quite interesting and quite quiet too. It reminded me of the “car-free Sunday” that we had once a year when I lived in Brussels. All of the public transport was free, all of the parks and museums were open and you could wander everywhere without any interruption at all.

And, at the end of the day, the normal haze that hung over the city had gone and the sky was really clear.

Just for one day.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, one of the things that really gets my goat around here is the pathetic parking.

bad parking rue paul poirier Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallYou’ve seen so much of it that I’ve been trying to avoid showing it, in order not to bore you to death, but sometimes there is something so extreme that I have to feature it. Something like this, for example.

The white car, with a registration number from out of the département so clearly a tourist, has stopped – with a couple of wheels on a zebra crossing, and let his wife out to go and buy a baguette from the bakery here.

And then he sits and waits for her.

This is a bus route for the large service buses that ply up and down the coast, and he’s blocking the road so that this bus can’t go past.

And does he move? Of course he doesn’t. He’s a tourist. The town belongs to him. Who cares about the locals?

But anyway, let’s start at the very beginning.

Despite having a good deal less than 5 hours sleep last night, I was up and about at 06:00 and went to take my medicine.

Back in here again I checked my messages – well, I didn’t – just about half of them. I didn’t actually go to sleep – I was wide awake – but in something like a zombie-like trance for a couple of hours, unable to function at all.

When I finally gathered my wits – which takes far longer these days than it ought, seeing how few wits I have left these days, I made myself a coffee and cut a slice of my gorgeous fruit bread – which really is gorgeous by the way – and then came back in here to finish off checking my messages.

Next task was to prepare a music playlist for the week. It’s the turn of the music in the “BB” folder to be selected and it will be any 11 tracks from about 15 of the 50 artists and groups in the folder.

The playlist will now be running continuously until Sunday night (as long as the computer is switched on) and I’ll be listening to all of the relevant albums, choosing tracks that might be interesting, noting down their running times and the albums from which they come, and whether they are good or faulty.

And whether they are needing editing too. Chopping exciting bits out of “Tubular Bells” or “Thick as a Brick” – stuff like that. Much as I like the complete albums, my listeners would fall asleep if I played all of them non-stop.

There was the dictaphone to check of course and eventually I managed to get around to it. Last night I was living on some kind of island. There was a huge explosion that had destroyed part of the buildings. Everyone had to evacuate this island and move onto another one that was already occupied. Everyone immediately thought that it was me who had blown up this island or whatever it was, so no-one was really my friend and gave me all cold stares when I’d tried to talk to them about anything.

And doesn’t that remind me of an event about two years ago?

Later on, I’d been on a bike and apparently I’d started off walking. It was medieval times. I was loaded up and on my way somewhere or other. The priest of this area was standing there looking over the harbour and everything. As I walked past he made the sign of the cross to me so I made the sign of the cross to him. He said “good evening” and I thought “it’s morning, isn’t it?”. I carried on walking and then I was on a bike cycling down a hill near Lyon. A group of 5 people walked off the pavement straight in front of me. I gave them a tinkle of the bell. They moved slowly out of the way so I swore at them and cursed them in French. They were making all kinds of gestures and insults but I carried on. In the end someone invited me to appear on television. I thought “if they had heard that lot just now they wouldn’t have allowed me on at all.

After that, I know that I did something else, but don’t ask me what it was because I can’t remember.

After lunch I went and had a shower and a general clean and tidy up, and then went off on my travels to see the rapist.

transhipment porte st jean Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut I didn’t go very far before I came to a stop.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, because I’ve said it before … “and on many previous occasions too” – ed … living intra muros in the old walled city does have its drawbacks Like the height of the gateway into the old walled city.

If you are having anything big delivered, you need to have some kind of trans-shipment system in place because the chances are that the delivery lorry might not be able to fit through the arch. We’ve seen all kinds of Heath-Robinson arrangements since I’ve been living here.

port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallMeanwhile, a little farther on along the road I come out to one of the viewpoints on the outer walls – the one that overlooks the fish processing plant.

The first thing that I noticed was that all of the “charter hire” yachts like Aztec Lady, Spirit of Conrad and so on are conspicuous by their absence.

Not that it is a real surprise because I heard on the grapevine that the Channel Islands are relaxing their strict anti-Covid controls on visitors from France, and so everyone who is anyone has headed off in a northward direction.

And had I not had my series of appointments starting this week, I would have been tempted to have joined them as well.

Les Epiettes port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallEvery now and again we’ve been seeing a small red, white and blue boat running around in the bay or just outside the harbour.

It might be this one here. I know that we encountered one, called Les Epiettes once when we were on Spirit of Conrad out at the Ile de Chausey, but unfortunately we can’t see her name from here.

When I was back in the apartment later I checked the port call register and there was no trace of a boat that resembled her so she probably has her AIS switched off.

But I did discover something else and I’ll talk about that tomorrow.

charlevy port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd I’m sure that we all recognise this trawler. It’s been the subject of quite a few photos just recently.

Unless I’m very much mistaken, she’s our old friend Charlevy, anchored at the loading bay with one of the cranes working on her.

What I suspect is that while she’s been in the chantier naval she’s had all of her nets taken out and presumably overhauled and repaired on the quayside as we’ve seen them do before.

Today, it looks as if the crane is reassembling all of her fishing gear, ready for her to go back out to sea.

From there I pushed on through the streets and up the hill to the therapist. And the climb up there was a little better than on Monday.

He had me walking up and down a step, doing some stretching exercises and then standing on some kind of tilting, vibrating plate that reminded me on being on the deck of THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR in a hurricane.

There was a kind of ski-walking machine there but that wasn’t a success. Not because I couldn’t work it but I didn’t have the breath to keep it going.

After half an hour he threw me out and I walked home, feeling actually a little more sprightly in my right leg than I have done for a while. I wonder what it will be like at the end of the sessions.

Passing the shenanigans outside the bakers I carried on towards home and my ice-cold strawberry smoothie. And the climb up the hill in the Rue des Juifs went rather better than the other day.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhile I was out, I thought that I’d go and see how things were down on the beach. It’s much more like my usual time of afternoon.

Plenty of beach to be on or course because the tide is well on its way out now. You could see quite a difference to how it was 90 minutes ago when i set off for my appointment.

But the holiday season is definitely coming to an end. Three days now on the run I’ve made the point that there have been fewer and fewer people down on the beach , and once again I couldn’t see anyone in the water either. It’s a sad end to a rather depressing summer season here.

ile de chausey baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhile I was at it, I was having a good look out to sea.

The NIKON D3000 was my main camera between the demise of the Nikon D5000 and the purchase of the NIKON D500 and while I was happy with it at the time, I’ve had to do a lot of post-work to pull out a photo of the Ile de Chausey from the haze out at sea.

None of the Joly France ferries in sight – they must all be sheltering in the gap between the two islands. Just the odd yacht or two out there this afternoon. Nothing much to be excite myself today. I did see a brown smudge on the horizon which at first I thought was Marité but it turned out to be a mark on the computer screen.

people on beach plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallGoing back to the apartment, there was a view of the beach down at the Plat Gousset – a view that I don’t usually see because I’m going the other way.

Quite a few people going for a paddle around in the water retained by the medieval fish trap, and a few folk on the beach down there too. But seeing as that area is the most popular part of the beach, I was expecting it to be much busier than that.

A few people down on the beach at Donville les Bains though. I can just about make them out in the distance.

So back into the apartment I came and had my strawberry smoothie – and the next thing that I remembered was thatt it was 18:30. I’d been stark out for 90 minutes. The walk out and back had taken it all out of me.

There were carrots that needed peeling and blanching ready for freezing and then it was time for tea. I had the rest of the mushrooms which were going to start to do something rather peculiar if I didn’t do anything with them so I threw in a small tin of lentils and a few other bits and pieces and made a quick curry.

big wheel at night place albert godal Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBack in here I came to write up my notes but while I was checking the radar to see whether it really was Les Epiettes coming into the port, I noticed a rather large boat coming into the port, larger than any that have been in here recently.

Immediately I grabbed the camera and dashed outside to see what it might be, falling over a concrete bollard in the street in the darkness.

Firstly though, the big wheel was working, even though it was quite late. People must be staying up until all hours, being still in the holiday mood even if they don’t want to go down to the beach during the daytime.

big wheel at night place albert godal Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOne of the attractions of the big wheel, especially for the spectator, is that it changes colour as it goes round.

As I watched, it went through all of the colours of the rainbow and made quite an exciting spectacle.

But only for a few more days. It usually closes down round about the end of August so maybe next week will be the last that we shall see of it.

And the tourists too. While I’m always pleased to see them leave, I do feel sorry for them for the miserable summer that they have had.

medical emergency at galeon andalucia port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallYou probably noticed in the two photos of the big wheel a set of lights coming down the hill in the Rue Couraye. What you won’t have heard of course is the sound of the sirens that came with the lights.

There’s something rather large and top-heavy down there and it’s certainly not a gravel boat as I was originally thinking.

And why it’s put into the harbour is presumably due to some kind of medical emergency that needs to be dealt with

medical emergency at galeon andalucia port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut in the meantime I can tell you something about her, because she has her AIS beacon switched on.

Believe it or not, she’s a Spanish galleon. Not a original one, I haste to add, and wouldn’t that be something if it were, but a faithful replica of a Spanish galleon of the 17th Century and at an overall length of almost 48 metres, she’s the largest ship of any description to come in here for quite a while.

How long she’ll be staying is something else, so I’ll be out there first thing in the morning to see her in daylight, because the harbour gates open early.

trawler leaving port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhile I’m out, I’m not going to bed quite yet. I may as well make the most of things

With the harbour gates being open, one of the trawlers here is taking the opportunity to slip out to sea. She doesn’t have her AIS beacon switched on so I can’t tell you who she is. It’s just a purple lozenge on my radar screen with no name attached.

Anyway, that’s enough excitement for this evening. I’m going back to the apartment to carry on with my journal entry for today before I forget any more.

Now, much later than intended, I’m off to bed. A whole day at home with no interruptions. I bet that I’ll fall asleep and miss most of it.

Tuesday 17th August 2021 – HERE I ALL AM …

… not actually sitting in a rainbow but sitting in my little room in Leuven in Belgium.

Just for a change there were very few problems as far as the journey went but I have had a fraught time and I can’t go on like this for much longer.

This morning started fair enough as I was awake as soon as the alarm went off and there was some stuff on the dictaphone. There was something happening last night about Channel swimmers and there was even a dog that swam the Channel but in almost every one of these cases they were carrying drugs and the bag of drugs would split in their stomachs and almost all of them would die from drug overdoses just as they reached shore

Because of my condition I was having to move. They had offered to treat me at Chester General Hospital so I went to live in Connah’s Quay. That was several trips of 150 miles to organise everything . While I was there the new ferry out of Connah’s Quay, Castell Alun I think, was sailing through the sky brightly lit by the moonlight. I went to make myself a mug of hot chocolate which was just powder and boiling water. While I was there some people were walking past my house. They were talking about whatever it was that had to be 94 inches wide rather than 84, and they didn’t know where they would find something like that size. I didn’t know what it was that they were talking about because they certainly wouldn’t find a lorry that width.

To my deep regret I didn’t step back into that epic and memorable dream where I left off yesterday, and wasn’t that a disappointment?

Having tidied and cleaned up the living room yesterday for when the nurse came, it didn’t take too long to prepare everything ready to leave. Taking the rubbish outside was exciting though – I can’t believe that there was so much and I’m surprised that it didn’t walk out there all on its own.

In the absence of the NIKON 1 J5 I took with me the old NIKON D3000 fitted with the old 15-110mm lens.

houses on brittany coast Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallIt’s not as easy to pack as the Nikon 1 but a lot smaller, easier and lighter than the big NIKON D500.

First thing that I did when I was out there this morning was to take a few pics with the camera to make sure that it was working correctly.

The weather was really cloudy with just a few gaps in the clouds where the sun was streaming through. It was illuminating a couple of houses way over on the Brittany coast and so I reckoned that that was a good enough object to try out the camera.

And despite the haze on the water across there, it’s not too bad an attempt for a 9 year-old camera and lens of doubtful quality

joly france belle france ferry terminal port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallMeanwhile close to home, there was some activity doing on over at the ferry terminal as if they are preparing the boats for the morning crossings.

To the right of the image is one of the Joly France boats. She’s the one with the rectangular windows in “portrait” format and that tells me that she’s the older one of the two.

As for the one in front of her, hidden by the jetty, it’s difficult to say who she is. The brightness of her colours seems to suggest to me that she’s the brand-new Belle France but that is a mere assumption on my part.

It’s not the little freighter Chausiaise at any rate.

festival de voiles de travail port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallSo having made sure that the camera was working sufficiently well, I set off for the railway station

What has been catching my eye for the last few days has been the appearance of all of these tents and other weird things that have sprung up all over the harbour.

The tents now have their sides fitted so they are going to be some kind of exhibition rather than somewhere to shelter from the rain.

And the purpose of that rectangular enclosure is still something that I have yet to discover.

victor hugo festival de voiles de travail port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallDown on where the fishermen keep their gear and on the car park next door, they have erected a few marquees too.

There’s what looks like the hulk of a very small and old wooden boat.

Incidentally, I found out what it is that is to happen down there because there was an advertisement in a shop window that I passed. It’s the Festival De Voiles De Travail, the “Festival of Working Sailing boats” starting tomorrow and finishing on Sunday.

And it doesn’t make much sense to me to have a Festival to entice crowds down to the town and then erect it on the car park so that they can’t park their cars anywhere to visit it.

police blocking road rue couraye Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallFor a change I decided to go to the station via the town centre rather than the park because I didn’t think that I could get up the steps at the end.

Mind you, I was wondering whether I would be allowed to walk up the Rue Couraye because as I turned the corner into the street I encountered a police barrage and they were directing all of the traffic down a side street.

It’s not the done thing of course to photograph the police in the execution of their duty unless there’s a very good reason but of course I was more interested in the guy drinking his coffee outside the café on the corner, which I could photograph having been allowed to pass beyond the barrage.

broken down van rue couraye Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOf course you are all wondering why there might be a barrage across the road.

It didn’t take long for me to discover why either. There’s a large van that has broken down on the road junction and as I passed the driver, he was busy telephoning for a dépanneur.

While I was recovering my breath from the climb so far I could take a photo of it, and then I could press on. But it was a long, hard climb up the hill for some reason today and I really didn’t feel anything like as well as I ought to have done or indeed have done in the past.

This was a really difficult walk.

84559 gec alstom regiolis gare de Granville railway station Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhen I arrived at the railway station, my train was already there so I could go along and find my seat. And I needed it too because I was exhausted.

My knee gave out while I was trying to climb into the carriage and it really was a most undignified entrance as I fell inside, dropping all of my luggage, and then trying desperately to stand up again.

Eventually I found my seat and I could set about updating the portable computer with the files that I’d copied earlier off the big computer.

And I had a very cute and charming young companion on my trip to Paris but unfortunately she wasn’t the chatty type so we didn’t say very much at all to each other.

84584 gec alstom regiolis gare montparnasse paris France Eric HallMuch to my surprise, and yours too after all of the recent events, we arrived at Gare Montparnasse bang on time to the minutes.

The next bit wasn’t quite so easy because there had been an abandoned piece of luggage found by the entrance to the metro and so it was all closed off while they fetched someone to examine it.

It took them about 15 minutes for them to clear the problem and we could advance. Everywhere was crowded as you might expect although I did just about manage to find a seat.

And that was just as well because trying my best to rush down the long corridor and up the steps had finished me off.

224 TGV Reseau Duplex gare du nord paris France Eric HallMy late arrival at the Gare du Nord meant that I didn’t have too long to wait for my train to Lille Flandres.

As usual, it’s one of the TGV Reseau Duplex double-decker trains, and in order to board it we had to show our vaccine passes and then our rail tickets, which meant that juggling two different screens consecutively on the mobile phone wasn’t an easy task when you have a handful of luggage.

The voyage was quite uneventful and we arrived at Lille on time. But by now the cloudy day had turned to light rain so walking down the road to Lille Europe was at least quite refreshing, even if it was not easy

TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt 4517 PBA gare du midi brussels belgium Eric HallAs I walked onto the railway station at Lille Europe my train pulled in at the platform.

It’s one of the “Paris Brussels Amsterdam” or PBA Reseau 38000 tri-volt trains, and inside it was chaos as no-one was sitting in the correct seat. But I quickly turfed out the people from my seat and took my place.

For a change I was on my own on this train so I could stretch out on my way to Brussels.

At Brussels they had a barrage as the police were checking vaccination passes. The queue stretched for miles and it wasn’t long before people began looking for a by-pass. I followed them through as well and left the queue behind.

big wheel foire du midi brussels belgium Eric HallUnfortunately the delay meant that I had missed my usual train to Leuven so I had to wait for about 15 minutes for the next one

While I was waiting, I was sitting on a concrete kerbstone watching what was going on all around me. It’s the time of the year right now when we have the Foire du Midi, the big funfair that takes place outside the Gare du Midi.

They have a big wheel too just like the one that we have at Granville and from where I was sitting I could see it going round. There are usually a few other large attractions too but they were out of my view unfortunately.

And it’s much more interesting at night too when everything is all illuminated.

push me pull you gare du midi brussels belgium Eric HallEventually my train pulled up, and it was another one of the pushme-pullyous that we have on the Oostende-Welkenraedt route as there is no run-round for the locomotive at Oostende.

It’s brought with it the rain too, as you can see. Luckily I’m underneath the platform canopy but you can see how much is teeming down by looking at the photo. It’s raining cats and dogs right now.

This train was pretty packed too but with being at the front of the train I could grab a seat quite easily before the crowds who had swarmed on board at the centre of the train filtered down my way.

There are a couple of single seats right by the door so I grabbed one of those and I wasn’t bothered by anyone else.

1882 class 18 electric locomotive gare de leuven railway station belgium Eric HallAt Leuven I could wait and photograph the locomotive that was pushing our train.

It’s one of the class 18 electrics – the workhorses of the SNCB these days, and why is it that there is always someone who makes a special effort to walk in front of you when you are photographing something?

The rain was coming down quite heavily by now and I struggled to reach my little room. And I had to come up the stairs on my hands and knees as it was the only way that I could get myself up them.

There is shopping to do as well so after a rest of about 90 minutes I headed off down the road. Just as far as Delhaize because I didn’t have the strength to go to the Carrefour.

And I only bought stuff for tea and a loaf of bread for toast in the morning too. I’m having to do my shopping in two loads because I don’t have the strength to carry everything back up the hill in one go.

Now that I’ve had tea and written my notes, I’m off to bed. No alarm in the morning because I need a good lie-in to recover. And then I’ll have to go down the road and buy the stuff for lunch.

What a state to be in!

Saturday 19th June 2021 – THERE WEREN’T ANY ..

… thunderstorms or lightning or anything like that during the night so once I dropped off to sleep (which wasn’t all that easy) I slept right the way through until the alarm went off at 05:00.

Although I did manage to crawl out of bed pretty smartish, it wasn’t easy and how I wished that I could have stayed in bed until a much more reasonable time – but that’s for tomorrow. There are plenty of things that I have to be doing today.

Firstly I had to pack. And then I had breakfast. There were some pineapple slices and some of the mango sorbet left and it was a shame to waste them. It’s not everyone who can have that for breakfast and I don’t suppose that I would like it on a regular basis.

Making my butties was next, and then the washing up, and finally emptying the fridge. And to my surprise all of that took just 40 minutes.

automotrice Am96 multiple unit gare de leuven railway station belgium Eric HallI arrived at the station in time for the 06:09 to De Panne. We’ve travelled on this train before when it’s been composed of decrepit and derelict AM80 automotrice multiple units but today we’re in luck. It’s a more modern AM96 unit.

These are the trains that have bellows at the front which make a perfect seal when a couple of trainsets are coupled togather. And in those circumstances the drivers cabs at the connecting ends swivel round out of the way

We cleared off bang on time for Brussels as I settled down in a seat right at the front of the train set. And for a change, I had my ticket checked. I think that in all the years that I’ve been travelling from Brussels to Leuven this week has been the first time that my ticket has been checked on both the outbound and the inbound journey.

We pulled into Brussels bang on time as well which is always nice. half an hour or so before my TGV is due to depart and to my surprise it was already called on the departure board, so I headed off to platform 5B

TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt 4520 PBA gare du midi brussels belgium Eric HallAnd as you might expect, it’s one of the TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt trainsets, known as the PBA (for Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam) trainsets. And the fact that it’s parked so far down the station platform suggests that a second trainset is going to come in from Amsterdam and couple up behind it.

The doors were open too so we could all swarm aboard and find our seats. The train was quite crowded and I had a neighbour. Life is clearly returning to normal after the Covid pandemic although whether this is too early is a matter of debate.

During the journey I was tidying up a few things on the computer with regard to the music and the time passed quite quickly. I hardly noticed the journey and we pulled into Lille Europe much sooner than I expected.

There was the usual scramble across the city as we headed to Lille Flandres and I still can’t understand why they don’t run the Paris TGVs into Lille Europe

TGV Reseau Duplex 209 gare de lille flandres France Eric HallThey don’t allow you too much time to struggle across the city, and when I arrived at the railway station the train was already there.

While I was sorting out my E-ticket on the app on my telephone I took a photo of my train. It’s one of the TGV Reseau Duplex sets – the double-decker TGVs that work the railway line. Proper high-capacity trains of the type that the UK should have had.

The loading gauge of British railways has to be one of the most restrictive of standard-gauge railways but starting in the 1960s when they began to electrify the main lines and they had to raise all of the heights of the bridges and bore out the tunnels so that the overhead cables can pass, the short-sightedness and penny-pinching of the British Government Treasury missed a trick here to do the job properly and raise the heights so that they can run double deck trains.

The railways in the UK have been plagued by a lack of capacity since the Beeching cuts that closed down most of the duplicate routes and they aren’t ever going to resolve the problem unless they bite the bullet and do the job properly.

TGV Reseau Duplex 215 gare de lille flandres France Eric HallBut meantime, back to our story. my train consists of two trainsets coupled together and it goes without saying that I’m in the far one.

Not that it’s a problem because in fact it means that I have less distance to walk at the other end. It’s another one of the double-decker trainsets and I’m in the lower deck. Once more the train is crowded and I have a neighbour. But that doesn’t stop me carrying on with the stuff that I had to do.

When we arrived in the Gare du Nord in Paris, I found the station heaving. It seems that everyone is getting back to normal which is a shame. The Metro was quite crowded and I had to stand all the way to the station at Gare Montparnasse.

84576 gec alstom regiolis gare de montparnasse paris France Eric HallThere was about 45 minutes before my train was due to depart. There was only one “Normandy” train that was at the platform so I had a good guess that this one may well be the train for which I’m waiting.

When I was here last time I found a collection of seats near the platform so I bought myself a coffee from the machine nearby and took up position there where I can keep an eye on the train. I could actually see the departure board from where I’m sitting so I kept an eye on that as well.

Fifteen minutes before the train was due to depart the platform number flashed up on the main screen and on the departure board by the platform. I was right about the train and so I didn’t have too far to walk to board the train.

Well, I did actually because this is another train consisting of two trainsets and once more I was down in the far one. But then again, it means that I don’t have to walk so far at the other end.

Once more I had a neighbour, but only as far as L’Aigle, and for the rest of the journey I was on my own. I could eat my sandwiches in peace and work quietly.

The lady opposite me across the corridor was reading a book entitled “Ceux Qui S’aiment Finissent Toujours Par Se Retrouver” – Those who love each other always end up finding each other – and that brought back a few memories of the beginning of September 2019 and one of these days I might actually write up those pages that are missing from my blog.

gec alstom regiolis bombardier multiple units gare de Granville railway station Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhen we arrived at Granville Railway station I took a photo of my train. Unfortunately I can’t remember the number and there are too many people obscuring the front where the number is displayed.

But today we have a full house of trains in the station. Here at Granville we also have trains that come into here that are travelling between Caen and Rennes. They are both in here today – on the left is the train to Caen and in the centre is the train to Rennes. They are both Bombardier trainsets.

But where has the hot weather gone? When I left here we were in a heatwave but now I’ve had to put on my fleece. And off I went down the steps into the Parc de Val Es Fleurs and into the town centre.

new entrance into car park rue des moulins Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallNow this is quite new, isn’t it?

When we left Granville on Wednesday morning there were a few guys with a digger and a lorry diffing out part of the flower bed and the road in the rue des Moulins. While I’ve been away they seen to have made a new entrance into the car park here and I’m not sure why they have done that because there seem to be several good entrances already.

This is another one of those things on which we’ll have to keep an eye and see how things develop because I’m sure that they wouldn’t have done this without a good reason.

It was a long hard road back to the apartment and I wasn’t looking forward to the climb up the Rue des Juifs.

swimming pool port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallIt looks as if we are going to be having a visit from Normandy Trader within the course of the next few days.

Halfway up the hill I had to stop for breath (having already stopped a couple of times beforehand) at the viewpoint overlooking the loading bay in the inner harbour. Marité isn’t in port but what I did notice on the quayside was the swimming pool.

What makes me say that Normandy Trader will be in port soon is that I know that she has the contract with the company that manufactures the swimming pools for transporting them over to the Channel Islands whenever anyone from the Channel Islands orders one, and they won’t leave then around on the quayside risking damage for too long.

big wheel eglise st paul port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallSomething else of interest that relates to another photo that I took as I was leaving the town was the Big Wheel.

It always arrives in the town and is erected in the Place Albert Godal for the months of July and August and we saw them erecting it. I mentioned at the time that it will probably be working when I returned and I was right about that too because it was going round this afternoon as I walked home.

As Barry Hay once said, “One thing that I have to tell you, and that is that it’s good to be back home” and he was right. I staggered into the apartment and dumped my stuff on the floor. Once I’d but the cool stuff into the fridge I came in here and collapsed into my chair.

During the course of the afternoon I did a little work. There were some notes on the dictaphone so I must have been off on a voyage during the night. It was my last week or so at work. I’d taken all of my files and all of my cases and everything into a quiet corner downstairs into an empty room. I’d been working through them to bring everything up to date before I left. One morning when I walked in, it was full of people. There were 4 coats on my chair so I asked “whose are these”? One guy who was hoovering up said that it was his. The other one belonged to some old woman. She said “Oh I thought that these places were free”. We sat down and had this lecture and I didn’t really want to attend. I wanted to get up to date so that I could leave. He was talking about something and it was to do with people who were going on treks, like pilgrimages in the Middle Ages. They were talking about how they would protect themselves from bandits etc. There was someone who could fire an arrow the length of a day’s march of an ordinary person. Someone pointed out that on page such-and-such it was quoted as being 18 miles. I had a look on that page and there was nothing like that at all. Then we all had to go off to another lesson. There was a guy trying to do something with some music but it was a total failure – he couldn’t get this music to work. His wife who had been doing the washing in the basement appeared on the scene. She made some remarks about him not being able to do it. Then it was the end of class and everyone was going home. Someone was wondering what the weather was like outside.

There was much more than this as well but as you are probably eating your meal right now so I’ll spare you the gory details.

A little later I crashed out for a couple of hours and I can’t say that I’m surprised.

Tea was out of a tin followed by apple pie and sorbet out of the freezer. And now I’m off to bed. I’m exhausted. A good sleep and a good lie in will do me the world of good so just watch someone come in and spoil it.

Tuesday 15th June 2021 – SUMER IS ACUMEN IN.

big wheel place albert godal Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallLhude sing cucu and all of that stuff.

You can always tell when summer is about to arrive in Granville because the Big Wheel puts in an appearance. It must have sneaked in under the cover of darkness and there they are on the Place Albert Godal sticking it up. By the time that I come back from Leuven on Saturday afternoon (God willing) it might even be working.

But I’ve been working today – and working quite hard too, would you believe. Although it was a real struggle, I managed to be out of bed by 06:00 all the same although I would have given all that I own to have been back in bed tucked up in the warmth.

And “back in the warmth” would have been appropriate because there was a cold, clammy mist outside this morning when I awoke. It didn’t look very sunny at all and there would be no chance whatever of seeing TITTAN 1 or any of its siblings.

After the medication I sorted out the dictaphone notes for the last couple of days. They are up to date now and I can turn my attention to last night’s activity. I was out behind the Iron Curtain on a coach tour as a passenger. Everyone was getting ready to go off on an excursion. I hadn’t heard about this so I wondered what was happening. I asked one of the organisers who was rather brusque with me. He told me that they were just going to visit a church and maybe going on to a show or something. I knew where this church was so I said that I’d follow them on. We were told that things were strange in this town because of different rules and regulations. For example, we’d find lots of doors open, or I did when I walked through it, but no-one was there answering it. Films that were going, when you went to watch them they would freeze and when you’d turn your back they would move again. It turned out that because of Covid no-one was allowed to stay in anyone else’s house. They were worried that people meeting each other in a night club or a cinema or somewhere like that would end up pairing off for the night. The authorities wanted to prevent that from happening. It sounded strange to me. All round this city was ringed with these forest ridges where you could go. There would be loads of people about. The place was like a ghost town and there was no-one about at all because of this.

Following that I worked on my Welsh revision and I’m glad that I did because there was a lot that I didn’t know..

And then grabbing my slice of cake and a mug of hot chocolate I went for my lesson. And surprisingly it went quite well although, shame as it is to say it, I fell asleep three times. Not flat out but I could feel myself going off and managed to stop myself just in time.

The results of our exam won’t be known for another 6 weeks, so we’ll have to keep our fingers crossed for longer than I was expecting.

And while we’re on the subject of tests, my Covid test came back negative.

After lunch I had a huge pile of correspondence and printing to do, as well as my tax return. I’ve no idea what i’m supposed to be doing with that. I just date it and sign it, attach a load of papers from various people and let them deal with it. If they need any more info, they can write and ask for it.

gardeners sheltering from the heat rue des juifs Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallIt was stifling hot when I set out for the town.

And I wasn’t the only one who was feeling the heat. There are some gardeners around the town dealing with the vegetation and they clearly decided that the only protection is flight. They’ve pulled their lorry up underneath a tree and they were all sitting on the wall in the shade.

Not for me though. I pushed on to the estate agent’s and gave them the certificate of insurance for my apartment. They didn’t think that it was the correct one but they’ll sort it out.

And I cursed my bad luck as well. They had a storage garage to let that would have been ideal for me to rent and dump all of this stuff out of Caliburn but I’d missed it by a whisker. It was now let.

Next stop is the Post Office. I’m just a whisker away from having a Carte Vitale, the card that opens the dorrs to the French Social Security system. I didn’t think I’d qualify but I applied all the same. And surprisingly, I had the paperwork back asking for my photo, a copy of my carte d’identité and a specimen signature.

So who knows?

Third stop was at the bank. They pay my Belgian pension 6-monthly by cheque and I don’t know why, but anyway the cheques came the other day and I need to pay them in. Now where can I go with €230?

unsafe scaffolding rue st paul Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOn my way up to the Tax Office (there are 41 steps up to the Eglise St Paul and I felt every one of them) I came across this interesting arrangement.

The scaffolding legs that are on the floor don’t go all the way up to the top. It’s just a few 2-metre lengths and the rest of the height of the scaffolding is somehow wedged up against the lengths on the floor.

No matter how hard I looked, I couldn’t see how it was rendered safe. That’s the kind of thing that looks totally unsafe to me. But there’s probably a very simple answer to this even if I couldn’t see it so don’t take this insecurity for granted. It probably makes perfect sense to those who go up it.

beach Boulevard des Amiraux Granvillais Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallHaving deposited my papers in the letter box, I headed down to the beach. A different one today – the one by the Boulevard des Amiraux Granvillais with its tidal pool.

And there were quite a few people taking in the sun down there today. And I’m not surprised because it was a really scorching afternoon.

One person down there enjoying the weather was our friend the itinerant who used o hang around up here in the past. He was in an expansive mood and we spent a good 45 minutes chatting before, in the words of the News Of The Screws reporter “I made my excuses and left”. I had plenty of things to do right now and standing there talking wasn’t getting them done.

hang glider pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAs I left I noticed a Bird Man of Alcatraz on his way towards the end of the headland, but rather more likely on a direct collision course with the spire of the Eglise Notre Dame de Cap Lihou.

As I awaited the inevitable calamity, he did a U-turn and steered himself out of the way and headed back from whence he came. And I cursed my bad luck. It’s really not my day, is it?

To console myself, I went off and treated myself to an ice-cream. It was that kind of day. And my favourite ice-cream stall was actually closed, which was a surprise to me. But the one next door wasn’t. And it really did taste delicious. I shall have to go there again.

zero waste shop mademoiselle vrac Rue Georges Clemenceau Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThe old pharmacy in the Rue Georges Clemenceau closed down a while ago and it’s now been reoccupied.

It’s going to be one of those weigh-and-save places, rather like the BULK BARN places that we know from Canada, but I bet that it will be much more upmarket than that and we’ll be hard-pressed to find any bargains.

You would think that with the absence of packaging, the produce would be cheaper but that’s rarely the case.

Back here, my Inuit friend Heidinguaq was on-line so we had a little chat. It’s nice to see her after than nocturnal visit that she paid me the other day. I asked if she would be coming to Europe some time soon. She hoped so so I said that we’d meet up and I’d bring my bass.

STRAWBERRY MOOSE will come too. Those two have a special affinity after their meeting in Uummannaq when we called in there with THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR

The guitar practice was slow but sure, and then I had veggie balls and pasta for tea, followed by apple pie and home made custard.

Now I’m off to bed. I’m going to Leuven tomorrow and I have nothing whatsoever ready. It’s one of those days.

Wednesday 23rd September 2020 – NOW HERE’S A THING .

For much of the morning, ever since I awoke, I had a song – the title track from the album ZOOROPA – going round and round in my head.

When I’d finished doing what I had to do I switched on the music here. There are somewhere between 8,000 and 9,000 tracks on my computer and the playlist is set to “automatic random”. And the first track that came up on the playlist was, of course, the title track from the album ZOOROPA.

That was uncanny – if not eerie.

Doing what I had to do didn’t take all that long this morning because there wasn’t all that much to do. When I listened to the dictaphone, I discovered that it was rather like my bank account right now – nothing in it.

That means that I can’t have gone anywhere last night – something that surprised me completely, and for two reasons.

  1. I had an early night last night
  2. I treated myself to a lie-in this morning – to wit – I didn’t leave my stinking pit until about 08:30

You would have thought that with an early night like that I would have gone off for miles.

With nothing to download, I did take full advantage and transcribed another pile of the arrears. Now there’s just a handful left and hopefully I can deal with them tomorrow.

“Hopefully” is the correct word too because I’m going to be busy. I have to make some bread quite early on and leave it to proof while I’m out at the shops. Then, of course, I have to come back and bake it.

Something else that I did this morning was to attack a pile of the photos from my trip up the Brittany coast in Spirit of Conrad. We’re now just pulling into the harbour at St Cast le Guildo where we spent out third night on board

After lunch I set about doing some tidying up in the bedroom. Much of the time was spent sorting through a large pile of post that I’d brought back from the Auvergne.

Mixed up in there was all kinds of stuff that I’d wished that I’d found two years ago and which would have saved me a lot of effort.

But at least you can walk around the bedroom without walking on anything and you don’t have to move anything to go anywhere else. It’ll be even better tomorrow after I’ve had another go at it and put some more stuff away.

reroofing house parvis notre dame granville manche normandy france eric hallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that the other evening we saw another heavy machine parked up in the Place du Parvis Notre Dame and I mentioned that I would look out for where it’s working.

Here at the side of the church there’s another roofing job going on. They have ripped off the slates and the old laths and are currently fitting new laths.

And helping them in the task is the big machine that we saw the other evening. So now we know.

Mind you, I don’t envy the men up there on that scaffolding. It’s freezing cold this afternoon, quite a dramatic drop over the last couple of days and there’s quite a gale blowing. Definitely not the weather to be up there.

And so it’s hardly surprising that there was no-one about having an afternoon walk.

people sitting on beach plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallIt had it all to myself – to such an extent that seeing as the footpath under the walls was in the shelter out of the wind I ran all the way down the path.

But this is what I call courage. As I said, the weather has turned and it’s just like winter outside this afternoon. But these brave souls have brought their fold-up chairs and are sitting there on the beach evidently enjoying the weather.

And so are the seagulls too by the looks of things. They are evidently waiting for exciting things to happen but I think that they might well be in for a long wait.

No-one in the Square Maurice Marland either so I had a good run all the way across there too.

crane removing fishing nets coelacanthe tiberiade trawler port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallBut there was plenty of activity in the port this afternoon. I noticed that the big crane was in operation so i wondered if one of the Channel island freighters, Thora or Normandy Trader, was in port.

But it was nothing to do with them at all. Two of the town’s trawlers, Coelacanthe and her little sister Tiberiade were moored up in the unloading bay this afternoon and the crane was busy relieving them of their trawl nets.

Whether they are to be repaired (because we’ve seen plenty of sailors sewing up trawl nets in the harbour) or to be replaced remains to be seen.

But it looks as if Normandy Trader will be in port some time soon. I’ve heard that the company that owns her has bought a lorry to do its own transporting, and the the one that I saw in a photo looks pretty much like that one down there.

big wheel moved place godal granville manche normandy france eric hallThere’s still more excitement down there as well.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall seeing throughout the summer the Big Wheel in the car park down in the Place Godal. But there it is – gone! A sure sign that the summer season is finished.

My walk around the walls continued and as there was still no-one about I ran the final few hundred metres back home.

After I came back I recorded another album with the USB turntable. But I must remember not to go banging about while I do it. I’d completely forgotten about the effect that knocking the turntable has on the LP that’s playing, and I had to re-record one of the sides to eliminate the jumping about.

Thinking about it (which I do quite often these days) it’s been 20 years or so since I’ve played an LP. I didn’t have it set up in Expo, I’m sure of that.

After the guitar, I had tea. Taco rolls and rice, using the left-over stuffing with some kidney beans in it. And the rest of my apple crumble with some vegan chocolate ice cream. While I’m baking the bread tomorrow I’ll make a rice pudding too.

I can also cook a sheep’s head, and if I leave the eyes in it, that’ll see me through the week.

joly france ferry terminal port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallOutside tonight, I didn’t hang around. If I thought that the wind was bad outside this afternoon, it was totally wicked this evening.

The people on board Joly France, the ferry that goes out to the Ile de Chausey who were returning from the island will have known all about the crossing, that’s for sure. They were being tossed around like corks.

And that reminds me of the time that I was on board a cross-Channel ferry with Percy Penguin once, bringing back a coach from France. This was 1992 and there was a hurricane in the Channel and the crossing took 19 hours as we couldn’t get into port.

One guy was leaning over the rails “feeding the fishes” quite dramatically.
“The trouble with you” I said “is that you have a weak stomach!”
“Weak stomach rubbish!” he retorted. “I’m throwing it as far as everyone else!”

Despite everything, I’ve managed three runs this evening too, so what with 6 altogether today I’m feeling quite impressed with myself.

But tomorrow should be a better day. Cooking the rice pudding, baking the bread, making some more cordial and going shopping too. I suppose that I ought to have a look at making this kefir and kombucha too, seeing as I have had the book for two years, the container for 12 months and the powder for 6 months

Friday 11th September 2020 – I DON’T KNOW …

… what has happened this week. I really don’t.

With all of this pressure that I seem to have put myself under with doing these radio programmes, it seems that I overlooked to actually send the one in for this weekend.

Luckily they had something in the pipeline, but it’s really pointless me doing all of this work if I’m not going to send it in. It’s pretty much a waste of time.

And not only that, it seems that I’ve also overlooked to do my second week of internet course.

What with one thing or another, it’s been a pretty miserable week and I’m going to have to be doing better than this.

At least I managed to be out of bed before the third alarm. Sitting on the edge of the bed waiting for the world to stop spinning round so that I could get off.

During the night I’d been in hospital and there had been some kind of operation. I was eventually allowed up. Someone from the hospital phoned me up to see how I was. They were interested to know if I was capable of doing my own shopping and they asked me about my plans. I said “the nearest LeClerc is 20-odd kilometres away so are you happy that i’m going to be cycling 40 kilometres just to go to the shops?” but they didn’t reply very much. It was a very non-commital answer that I had from them. The woman said that she lived in a small town where the nearest supermarket was only a minute or two away by car so she could do all her things like that. That didn’t help my matter very much. As I was walking around I came across a pub. It was a Sunday morning not quite before lunchtime. The pub was on a second level higher up. There were a few people whom I knew in there. I thought “should I go and have a drink?” but then though “that’s a stupid thing to be doing, going drinking”. So I carried on walking and came to the second one and there were even more people whom I knew in there. One of them was a boy whom I knew in school and with whom I shared a flat for a short while later. There was a group of about 4 boys and they were playing a few songs. On bass was another boy who was in my class – someone with whom I had very little contact whatever so how come I suddenly remembered him? I was extremely jealous because they were playing a couple of numbers that we used to play. I thought that they were going to steal a march from our bow and get themselves established in this pub.

While I was at it, I transcribed a few more days’ worth of dictaphone notes from the pile of arrears. There are still 47 entries remaining that cover a three-week period of my voyage to Central Europe.

Apart from that it’s been another slow day with something of a lack of motivation and an excess of fatigue. I’ve finished all of the arrears of photos from June and I’ve now started on those from July.

Only three days from my trip down the Brittany coast in Spirit of Conrad remaining, and then I can start on the photos from Central Europe. I’ve already done some of those but there is still a huge pile to do.

And then there are the photos from my two trips to the Arctic.

At least I managed to remember to book my trains and accommodation for my trip to Castle Anthrax. That’s one thing. Here’s hoping that I remember to print out everything and that my appointment isn’t cancelled.

speedboat english channel ile de chausey granville manche normandy france eric hallWe had the usual interruptions this afternoon too.

The afternoon walk was one of them of course. There were crowds of people out there today walking around in the beautiful weather. Crowds of people on the sea too. Plenty of small boats out there such as this speedboat that was roaring past.

Nothing in the way of large boats though. No Joly France no fishing boats and no Channel Island freighters. It seems to be quite quiet out there in that respect these days.

F-GDED Robin DR400 180 granville manche normandy france eric hallThere was plenty of activity in the air too.

Our autogyro was flying around but rather too far out of range to take a decent photograph. This aeroplane here was flying quite high but with the NIKON D500 and the BIG NIKON ZOOM LENS I could take a good photo of it, and even tell you what it is.

According to the official register, it’s a Robin DR400 180 light aeroplane.

Incidentally, you are quite lucky to actually see it. On 22nd May 2019 it suffered an engine failure and crash-landed in a field near Eurodisney. Luckily no-one was hurt and damage was said to be only minor.

It could have been much, much worse.

yacht baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france eric hallIt was no less busy around the southern side of the headland in the Baie de Mont St Michel.

This beautiful yacht was on its way around and into the port de plaisance this afternoon. Just one of several small boats out over there this afternoon.

But apart from that, there wasn’t very much else going on. It was actually quite quiet as far as excitement went. I slowly wandered on home.

Much of the remainder of the afternoon was spent revising my Welsh ready for the start of my course next week. but shame as it is to admit it, I fell asleep on the chair again. To such an extend that I missed half an hour of my guitar practice.

lifeboatmen sauveteurs de mer place d'armes granville manche normandy france eric hallTea tonight was taco rolls with the remainder of the stuffing from yesterday’s pepper, lengthened with a small tin of kidney beans.

But while I was preparing it, I noticed plenty of movement outside at the Public Rooms. The lifeboatmen, sauveteurs de mer, were congregating outside the building.

As an aside, later on in the evening the band stuck up and there was a lot of music and noise coming from the building.
I enquired as to what was going on there.
“We’re holding a Lifeboatman’s Ball” came the reply.
“Well for God’s sake let go of it” I urged. “He’s making far too much noise!”

Later on I went for my evening walk around the walls.

The lights of Jersey were twinkling quite brightly in the distance and I took a couple of photos of them with the camera. Unfortunately, with them being hand-held and in the dark, they didn’t come out very well and I discarded them.

From there I ran on along the path and then across the Square Maurice Marland.

big wheel port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallThe roadworks in the Rue Notre Dame were finished and the barriers and traffic lights dismantled. I walked past them and carried on around the walls.

But what caught my eye tonight was how nice the port area and the town looked in the streetlights, with the water tower on the skyline in the background just to the right of centre.

The big wheel was looking particularly nice so I reckoned that I had better photograph it tonight. This is going to be the last weekend that it’s here this year

people up to no good city walls granville manche normandy france eric hallBut I’m not quite sure what was going on here.

There were two people with a rather large briefcase and a couple or portable radios hidden away in a corner up on the walls. i’ve no idea what they were doing and they certainly weren’t too keen to enter into conversation.

Having observed them for a couple of minutes I ran on home. My three runs of about 600 or so metres in total once more. There’s only Saturday that I’ve missed in this respect but then again I’ve been well over 120% of my day’s activity ever saturday that I’ve missed.

it’s Saturday tomorrow and US Granville are playing away. I have shopping to do of course and I’m hoping that I remember everything. I’m having a really bad time right now and I don’t know what i’m going to do about it.

Sunday 23rd August 2020 – SUNDAY IS …

… a Day of Rest.

Even so, you might think that 11:00 is something of an exaggeration, especially as I had an early night. But you might change your opinion when I tell you that about 5 or 6 times during the night I was awoken by some really bad attacks of cramps.

Bad to such an extent that I had to leave the bed and walk around to ease off the pain.

And so it’s hardly surprising that once I finally went off to sleep I slept all the way through to about 11:00 or thereabouts.

Plenty of time for me to go off on a few nocturnal rambles – and it’s just as well as I must have travelled miles during the night.

crowds on beach plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallSo while you admire some photos of people on the beach in the sun, a welcome return last night for Zero, who at one time was a regular companion of mine on my nocturnal voyages. I’d been out somewhere and gone round to her father’s house. It started off with me being offered a cup of tea and for some reason i’d only half-stirred it with the spoon and put the spoon down and went to get another one. As people were watching I couldn’t use my own spoon to finish it off, I had to use a second one of theirs to do it. Then someone thanked me for the slide that I had given them. It turned out to have been one of these kids’ prefabricated garden amusement type of thing, a great big slide. Someone had given it to me and I’d given it to Zero’s dad. They had finally erected it and it had matched the one that she had had. She’d had a great time this past year or so playing on this. They all thanked me so I went in to see it and she was sitting there. Then they all came back with the tea, all kinds of chips. For some unknown reason there weren’t any for me so we were going through all the piles. I asked “which one is mine?”. Her brother said “hang on – I’ll make you yours now”. I asked “didn’t they get any for me from the chip shop?” We went through and calculated again. The father said “ohh no. What’s happened is that two of you must have gone and asked for chips without bread at the same time and they’ve only done one of them. My boy will make you another helping”.

crowds on beach plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallLater on I’d been out with a general of the European Army who wasn’t in fact the general but one of the directors and I’ll tell you his name in a minute. I’d applied for another job and I’d practically got it but his secretary said that he wanted to see my ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels and I couldn’t understand why. She said “he thinks quite highly of you and he wants to keep you” so I had to go and get my education sub-folder out as all my certificates were in there. I went to see him and said “here’s my degree to start with. We may as well start at the top”. We got chatting about everything and then he started talking to me about Official Secrets, what I had to do and what needs signing. I told him that when I was in the UK the guy for whom I drove actually did his job for the Uk so I know all about secrets. Someone said “you can’t be much good if you’ve had to go through this procedure twice” which surprised me. So then we went out for a drive and he went through all of my paperwork then he asked “I need that form back”. I thought “which one?” so I gave him the folder again to look for it and it wasn’t in there. I said “if it’s the security form you left it back in the office” to which he said “OK”. We went back and got out of the car and there was some of my paperwork that had fallen on the floor and was all damp. I had to pick all of that up. A couple of my cats were there and he started to stroke Sid. he said “ohh yes, Sid is definitely my favourite”. Nerina was there too and that was when I had yet another bad attack of cramp. How many attacks of cramp is this that I’ve had this morning?

I was talking to one of my sisters of all people last night about my father who had died. I asked if he had any papers or newspaper cuttings or anything like that. She said that he had died and left nothing, and his place was in a total mess. I asked about these press cuttings. She said “yes he had a pile of those”. I said that I would like to see them. She replied “I thought you might”. I told her the story about the chat that I’d had on Facebook with those people who lived on Wardle camp. One of them had mentioned that my grandmother had a great many gentlemen callers, which my sister doubted, which I found rather strange as I didn’t think so either. We had this conversation about it. This guy Clive – his name was mentioned and I couldn’t think of his family name. He had a market stall in his name and it will come back to me one of these days. We were talking about all of that. We were at school and she said “you’d better keep an eye on the time, you know, because it’s 13:15 and lunch break is nearly over” so we wandered off to sit in a corner to continue our talk. Just for a change I awoke with just a small attack of cramp.

To finish off, we had a right Boys Own adventure, of people who were in cars of the 1920s who were chasing each other about the countryside. There were a couple of married couples and one married couple had fallen foul of a single man who was a bit of an evil type and who had kidnapped the wife and their kids and was taking them somewhere. The other guy was busy trying to hunt them down. There was another married couple or something involved as well. There was all this confusion going on. In the end they all met up at the docks in Dover. They just parked up at the side and I had to go and persuade them to park up in the queue for the actual ferry crossing which eventually I managed to do. There was a couple of people who wanted to know if they should be going there, mainly kids, that kind of thing but it was one of these things like someone called Harold. he was the hero and it was one of these Enid Blyton Famous Five types of thing only starring this boy called Harold who was there trying to lead everyone, all that kind of thing. I might have been him but I don’t really know now.

With it being a Sunday it’s been a very quiet day today and I haven’t done very much at all.

hang glider pointe du roc granville manche normandy france eric hall There was the afternoon walk of course.

We’ve seen the crowds on the beach already, and there were crowds on the footpaths too, but it wasn’t just on land that we had the hordes. The Bird-men of Alcatraz were out in force today too . They fly perilously close to the buildings some times and one of these days we’re going to have a disaster.

However, as long as there is enoguh wind to gove them scope for manoeuvre, we’ll see plenty more them up and about in the air.

roofing place marechal foch granville manche normandy france eric hallToday’s route took me around the city walls and along the footpath at the clifftop.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall the roofing job that has been going on down in he Place Marechal Foch for the last few months. As you cans ee, they are still at it. All this time and they haven’t finished yet. They still have some scaffolding up there.

Mind you, the seagulls look as if they have been busy, don’t they? They appear to have well-and-truly christened parts of the roof that have already been completed, and I bet one or two of the scaffolders have received Blessings from above too.

crowds braderie rue paul poirier granville manche normandy france eric hallOne of the things that I found out this afternoon, and maybe I should have gone down to investigate, was the braderie taking place in the town this afternoon.

The Summer Sales have been going on for the last few weeks and it’s the custom at the end of the month for the streets to be closed and for the retailers to have a public exposition of everything that they wish to be sold off.

All at bargain prices too, and while some of the reductions mean that the products just cost an arm instead of an arm and a leg, sometimes some goods might be sold at real bargain prices. But by this time of day, near the end of the afternoon, most of the bargains will be long-gone.

ulm microlight pointe du roc granville manche normandy france eric hallWe spoke about the Bird-men of Alcatraz just now, but we haven’t finished with the air just quite yet.

As I was walking back across the Square Maurice Marland I was overflown by a couple of the ULM, or microlights that I believe come from the airport at Donville les Bains.

There are all kinds of exciting aerial machines that loiter about there. We’ve already seen plenty of examples. One of these days, as I keep on saying, I’ll have to go out for myself and see what’s happening and maybe even blag my way on board one of the machines for a lap around the bay.

home made apple crumble vegan pizza granville manche normandy france eric hallMeanwhile, back at the apartment I was having something of a bake-in.

We started off as usual with the pizza this evening. Sunday evening has been pizza night for as long as I can remember and there are no good reasons that I can recall to change my habits right now.

While the pizza was cooking, I made a couple of apple crumbles. It should have been just one but there was too much crumble and of course, that won’t keep. As for what it tastes like, I’ve no idea. The pizza filled me up pretty much and there wasn’t enough room for any pudding.

flagpole flags resistance memorial pointe du roc granville manche normandy france eric hallWhen I went out in the evening it was almost dark. The nights are definitely drawing in. And I was glad that I wore a jacket because there was a vicious wind tonight too.

Having been around the city walls this afternoon my walk took me around the headland tonight. Past the Monument to the Resistance Fighters from the area who continued the fight against the Axis powers after the debacle of June 1940.

And if you compare the photo here WITH THIS ONE FROM JUNE you’ll notice a little difference. The German flag has now gone and the European flag has been raised in its place. i wonder what might be the significance of that.

night port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallNot only has the German flag gone, but the light has gone too – as quickly as that and we are now well into dusk.

My route continued along the headland at the top of the cliff until I came to the viewpoint overlooking the harbour. The harbour gates are closed and the red traffic lights that the boats in the outer harbour see is casting a nice reflection onto whatever is left of the water there.

It looks to me as if the tide is receding quite rapidly now.

joly france baie de mont st michel port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallWith it being a summer weekend, the ferries over to the Ile de Chausey are quite busy.

They are running quite late too, but as long as there is water enough to get into the Ferry terminal they willl be still be out there. It may well be gone 21:30 and fairly dark, but here’s one of them coming into harbour right now.

This one seems to be Joly France I, the newer one of the two. Yu can tell that by the shorter upper deck superstructure and the longer depth of the windows on the deck underneath.

joly france baie de mont st michel port de granville harbour  manche normandy france eric hallRight behind her into the harbour came her sister Joly France. She was quite busy too.

You can see her navigation lights quite clearly. There are five letters in “Green” just as much as there are in “Right” so it’s obvious that the green light will be on the right, or starboard side. The opposite side to starboard is port, and port is red, so it’s obvious that the port, or left side light will be red.

There’s the white central navigation light too, and it’s the juxtaposition of these lights on a ship at night that mariners at sea are able to tell in which direction a ship is sailing and whether it’s going ahead (forwards) or astern (backwards).

big wheel place albert godal granville manche normandy france eric hallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that as we were setting out on our big adventure at the end of June we saw a lorry bringing in the bits to make the big wheel that sits every summer in the Place Godal.

Ever since I came back at the beginning of July I’ve been trying to take a decent photo of it in the dark so I thought that I would have another go tonight. It’s important because at the end of August when the tourists go back the wheel will be dismantled.

In previous years, I’ve almost always been away in Canada during the period when it’s been operating and I’ve never had a decent picture of it in the dark before.

trawlers heading out to sea baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france eric hallBy now, the light has gone completely and it’s getting to be very much like pitch-black.

That’s not anything to stop the fishermen going out to work though. My hat comes off to all of them who face a peril out at sea, working day and night like this in all weathers. There are plenty of easier ways to be earning a living.

So watching them disappear out to sea, off around the headland, I turned round and continued my walk back towards home.

gate porte st jean granville manche normandy france eric hallNot all the way home though.

Now that it’s going dark earlier and the tourists are still here, the town has switched on the lights to illuminate the medieval city walls. This is the Porte St Jean at the back of my building, and it does look nice with the lights switched on. I’m glad that someone in the Mairie has found a shilling at last.

Anyway, back at home now. Tomorrow I’m starting back to work so I’m going to have an early night. And a decent sleep, I hope, without any cramp.

And, for a change, some pleasant dreams. Over the last couple of days they haven’t been quite so healthy. It must be my confused state of mind.

Friday 17th July 2020 – I DID SOMETHING …

thora port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hall… this morning that I said I wouldn’t ever do willingly.

So while you admire Thora coming into port this afternoon, let me tell you about it. In fact, what it was was that when I heard the alarms go off, I consciously and willingly settled back down under the nice clean bedding and stayed there.

Until all of 07:45 too. I wasn’t in any hurry. But there’s a lot to do and I thought that a decent rest would give me a head start.

thora port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallThere was nothing on the dictaphone either, as I discovered when I went to check after the medication. It must have been a really deep sleep, that’s all that I can say.

Most of the morning was spent tidying up in here, putting some stuff away, doing some sorting out and tidying up. Yes, I have one or two cunning plans going around in my head right now.

And all of that took much longer than I was expecting. I have no idea where the time went. I haven’t done half as much as I intended to do, that’s for sure.

thora port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallAll of that took me up to lunchtime when I finished off the last of Sunday’s bread.

That was a shame because it really was good and I was well-impressed with that loaf.

This afternoon I finished off the first week of my web development course. At this stage I know most of it but we spent a lot of time working on forms and that’s something of which I haven’t really done much so I’m already making some headway

Next week we’ll be doing some *.css. I have a rudimentary knowledge of that so I’m keen to see what I don’t know about it.

fishing boats english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallThere was the afternoon walk of course – I do that every day.

It looks as if the shoal of mackerel is still there. In the first photo of Thora above you saw half of the town with their rods out on the harbour wall, and all of the boats that we saw yesterday are out there again tonight.

Here’s just a few of them. In total I counted at least 20 altogether having a good go at the fish. And I still haven’t seen anyone catch anything.

tandem hang glider plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallThe air was pretty busy today too.

It wasn’t that particularly windy today, but windy enough for the hordes of hang-gliders to be hanging around in the field next to the cemetery at Donville-les Bains.

This one here is quite interesting. It’s a tandem one, that carries a passenger. And before anyone says anything, no I am NOT going to be having a go at it. Any flighted craft that takes off from a field with a cemetery at the end of the runway is not for me at all.

kids jumping off diving platform plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallAnd here’s something else that I’m not going to be doing either.

Jumping off a diving platform into the sea seems to be such a popular activity right now that they have fixed the one at Donville-les-Bains that was derelict for quite a while. But here at the Plat Gousset in Granville, the crowds were gathering.

One or two people seemed to be more adventurous than the ones yesterday and it didn’t take too long for them to start leaping into the drink.

crowds on beach plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallSo that’s all of the people in the air and out at sea. What about those on terra firma?

Everywhere was thoroughly crowded today. The beaches, the footpaths, everywhere. As you can see, down on the beach with the tide well in, the crowds really were congregating.

Those on the beach might just have the correct amount of social distancing between each family group but I wouldn’t like to bet on it.

Numbers of the infected here in France are rising quickly and we’ll be having a second wave of confinement before long. I don’t want to jump the gun and get myself infected by going down there amongst that lot.

baby seagulls rue des juifs granville manche normandy france eric hallMy baby seagull seems to have gone definitively. Both parents were on the roof today with no sign of the little one.

On the other hand, the others seem to be coming along nicely and growing very rapidly. But I thought that this was a lovely touch. One of the residents has placed a ladder at the side of his house and put a bowl of water up there for the babies.

They were making the most of it too, enjoying every drop. And they needed it too in this weather because it was starting to become really warm by now.

thora unloading car  port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallYou saw the photos of Thora coming in to the harbour and tying up at the quayside underneath the unloading crane.

The big ferries to and from the Channel Islands are still not running, so it seems, so there is only one way to bring your car over to France.

This is the kind of procedure that takes me back many, many years to long before the days of ro-ro ferries. Cars had to be lifted on and off boats by cranes and despite the advances in modern techniques and modern equipment, there are no real facilities for that here at Granville.

So what worked in the 40s and 50s and early 60s is still working today. Particularly when there is no other alternative.

joly france baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france eric hallThora wasn’t the only boat out there this afternoon.

One of the Joly France boats was out there too with a load of passengers. And it wasn’t easy to say where they were going. It was rather late though to be taking so many people out to the Ile de Chausey.

The boat is actually the newer one of the two. You can tell that because the windows are deeper and there’s also a smaller area of superstructure on the top deck.

She has a step cut in the stern too, but you can’t see that from here.

film crew loading lorries foyer des jeunes travailleurs place d'armes granville manche normandy france eric hallMy walk continued around the walls until I reached the highest point where I can see down into the yard of the Foyer des Jeunes Travailleurs.

It looks as if the film crew is packing up for the weekend now. All of the vans and lorries are here, most of the stuff is outside and some of it has even been loaded up.

We’re told that they will be back on Monday to finish off. That should be interesting. And as I noticed later on when I went for my evening walk, the mobile canteen is still here. So they do mean it.

Back here I finished off the first week of the interactive web page studies and then spent the final hour trying desperately to speak to someone at the bank about my bank card that won’t work.

Eventually after holding for 45 minutes I spoke to someone who had no more idea that I have about why it isn’t working and they agreed in the end to send me a new card.

No idea what’s happening here.

After the guitars, it was tea time. Rice and lentil burger with veg and gravy, followed by more of my delicious apple crumble

flock of seagulls pointe du roc granville manche normandy france eric hallOff I went later on, struggling up the hill on my evening run, falling short yet again of the top.

Walking up to the top and recovering my breath I ran on down to the clifftop to see what was going on, but there was nothig happening out at sea. All of the seagulls were there though, hundreds of them. Evidently the shoal of mackerel is still there and they are all fishing for supper.

“Are they having more luck than the fishermen?” I asked myself. I’ve not seen any of them catch anything as yet either.

big wheel marite port de granvilleharbour manche normandy france eric hallAll the way back down the other side I ran.

Thora has gone now, back out to sea. That was a very quick turnround. Marité is there though, although I understand that she has plens to be on her way soon. And in the gloom and doom the Big Wheel looks impressive. It will be even better when it’s darker and the lights will stand out more.

My run down to the viewpoint in the Rue du Nord was uneventful, and I missed the sunset too which was a shame.

No-one picnicking on the beach tonight either although there were a few people hanging around here and there. I didn’t wait but ran on home.

Now there’s some tidying up to do and then I’m off to bed. It’s going to be a long day tomorrow and I can’t afford to hang about.

Wednesday 15th July 2020 – WE HAD ANOTHER …

beautiful sunset ile de chausey english channel granville manche normandy france eric hall
… horrible day again today and I’m becoming rather fed up of this.

And while you all admire the photos of yet another beautiful sunset, I’ll tell you all about it.

In actual fact it all started so well and for a change I was filled with a certain amount of optimism. Despite something of a late night I managed to beat the third alarm to my feet, and that’s an achievement these days, that’s for sure

beautiful sunset ile de chausey english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallAfter the medication I had a listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night. I was out last night with Rosemary and we were walking around a field where there were these old prehistoric statues, things like that. We became separated somehow and I was walking down to the edge of the field and who should I see at the edge of the field but Liz Ayers. “God, Liz, you’re dead!” Anyway she didn’t hear me and she was carrying on. I thought “if she sees me she’s going to start coming over to me and talk to me and that’s going to upset Rosemary. That’s not a very good idea”. But there was nowhere to go znd hide. I just had to brazen it out. Then something happened and it was a call for an assembly and everyone started to go back up the hill so I went back up the hill with everyone else. Someone was reading this text as to how as some kind of Pharaoh or God he was expected to walk 100 miles every day. The first day he had done 38 and the next day he had done 42. He set off and a few people started to follow him. Somehow I was swept up into following him as well. A few people started to dodge off down side streets so I went to dodge off down a side street but someone grabbed me and pulled me back into the main procession. It turned out that we were all expected to climb up the side of this house in our bear feet onto a scaffolding and start to rip the plaster off the front of this house. They gave the word and shouted to go so we all shot off. Slowly the rest of the crowd came to join in. There were a couple of guys who couldn’t make it up the side of this house – they didn’t have the right footwear. They were sobbing that they were going to be killed. As the crowd approached them the crowd started to climb up. There was a scaffolding near the top where people were standing and under the weight of the surging people the scaffolding collapsed. There were just a couple of people standing on the end and they had managed to scrape enough plaster off the front of this house to get in. Now they were passing stuff out from the house to throw down to the floor. I’ve no idea where I was by this time except that in the dream I was observing what was happening from a distance.

beautiful sunset ile de chausey english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallAnd whatever that is all about I really don’t have a clue.

For a change, I’ve been relatively busy today. First task was to deal with some more photos from July 2019. And I reviewed about 50 today which is good going as far as I’m concerned. Right now we are having tea on board The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour before going on a zodiac ride around Kangerluluk fjord – “The Awful Fjord” – in Greenland.

Second task was to write a letter. I’d received a letter the other day from a long-lost friend (I probably mentioned something about it at the time) and I reckoned that I had better reply before I forget completely.

beautiful sunset ile de chausey english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallAfter lunch there was yet more to do. First task this afternoon was to book Caliburn in for his bodywork.

That’s now arranged for late October ready for his control technique at the beginning of November. I need to bite the bullet and have the work done before it gets too bad.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I received – out of the blue a few months ago – a notification that I’m entitled to a works pension from when I worked for that weird American company in Watermael with Alison 15 years ago.

beautiful sunset ile de chausey english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallI’d been sitting on the correspondence for a while but I received a reminder by registered post the other day so I reckoned that I’d better deal with it.

That involved a lot of searching for paperwork, photocopying, scanning, filling in forms and then ending it all off by e-mail. Only to have the e-mail rejected as “too large” so I had to divide it into four parts and send it off again.

That’s not come back yet so it might be good this time. But we shall see. I’ve no idea how much is involved, but it won’t be all that much, that’s for sure.

beautiful sunset ile de chausey english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallFinally there was a very long e-mail to send to a friend – someone I had met on board The Good Ship Ve … errr Ocean Endeavour 2 years ago.

She lived in California but we had somehow lost contact. She replied just as I was about to set off on the Spirit of Conrad to tell me that she had moved to Hawaii and had to stay with friends as her house wasn’t ready.

So that was something urgent that I needed to do before I’m much older. Plenty of things have happened since we last spoke so it’s high time that we updated each other with our news.

swimmer plat gousset english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallOf course there was the afternoon walk around the walls.

The mobile canteen was still there although there were no customers around it. But I was more interested in what was going on out at sea. It wasn’t very warm at all so anyone out there in the water earned my respect, no-one more so than Captain Matthew Webb here.

He must be on his way to pay a call at Dawley Bank, although that doesn’t look much like old canal that carried the bricks to Lawley down there.

hang gliders donville les bains granville manche normandy france eric hallIt goes without saying that there was plenty of aerial activity today with the wind that we were having.

There were dozens of bird-men of Alcatraz in the air today and so I hung around for a while hoping for a mid-air collision to add a little bit of excitement to my otherwise-boring life.

Unfortunately nothing out of the ordinary happened while I was watching. After a couple of minutes I became somewhat bored so I pushed on … “pushed off, he means” – ed … down the path through the crowds of people.

kids jumping from diving platform plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallThere were crowds too, blocking the pavements and paths and so on all the way around my circuit.

Crowds too on the beach and in the water round by the Plat Gousset. And all of the kids were once more on the diving platformm leaping off into the sea.

You saw plenty of photos of them yesterday so I won’t trouble you again. But here’s one for the record just to fill in the gap. I wasn’t going to wait for the others.

big wheel place godal etoile baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france eric hallThe scaffolding was still up with no sign of any workmen at the building in the Place Marechal Foch so I carried on around and into the Square Maurice Marland.

Etoile, the French maritime service’s sail-training ship was out there this afternoon. She looks as if she’s taking a load of passengers out for a day trip around the Baie de Mont St Michel.

The Big Wheel is in operation too with a good load of passengers right now. I can see as many as 6 passengers in there. It’s not as busy as one would think. But apart from that, look at the seagulls all loitering on the roof of the old cold store that was used when the town was an important port for trawlers working the Grand Banks.

baby seagull rue des juifs granville manche normandy france eric hallWhile I was here I went to look at my baby seagull. But the roof was bare so I reckon that baby seagull has had its chips, if you pardon the expression.

On the other roofs, the rest of the colony of babies are stretching their wings. This one was having a load of fun flapping its wings and taking little leaps about.

They seem to have lost their baby plumage from their heads too and no longer look the same colour or pattern as their eggs. It won’t be long now before they all take to the air and then that will be fun.

etoile baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france eric hallOn the way home I came across Etoile again.

By now she’s heading off out to see with an an accompanying yacht riding along in her wake to see her off. I wonder if she’ll be coming back or whether this is goodbye.

On my return to the apartment I sat down to have a go at one of my courses but, shame as it is to admit it, I was out like a light on the chair in here for all of 90 minutes. I’d missed a whole early evening of work.

In fact I felt dreadful – dead to the world and it took a good while to pull myself together again. I reckon that this lack of medication is getting to me.

The next morning when I was reviewing the dictaphone I noticed that there was a note on it from this afternoon.

Apparently I’d been in bed with Nerina while I was away with the fairies. She suddenly realised that she had to go for a doctor’s appointment. so she got herself up and said should she bring back some mushy peas as well. I said “yes, and some chips and some vinegar”. I gave her a voucher that I had been keeping for Addison’s chip shop In Shavington where there was a special deal on in chips. She didn’t know where Addison’s was so I had to draw her a map in the sand on the floor so that she could work out her position and where the chip shop was.

Tea was a falafel and veg with cheese sauce. The falafel and veg were cooked in that microwave grill that Rachel gave me. But it doesn’t seem to work too well in my microwave and the food took ages to cook.

Next time that I try it, I’ll have to do things differently. Maybe slice the potatoes thinner, or use more oil, I dunno. But it still tasted nice with the vegan cheese sauce, now that I have some vegan cheese again after my trip to Belgium.

Dessert was more of that delicious apple crumble. I seem to have excelled myself here what with that and the bread.

Etoile english channel brittany granville manche normandy france eric hallOn my run up and around the headland I saw what at first glance looked as if it might be the lighthouse on Cap Fréhel looking even cleared than normal. Consequently I took a photo of it so that I could enlarge it and check when I returned to the apartment.

Closer inspection revealed instead that it’s a big white sailing ship with some of its sails furled.

At first I thought that it was Marité on her way home – after all, there’s only one big white sailing ship around here that I know of. But I counted the masts and there are only two, not three and so that makes me think that it’s Etoile sailing off into the sunset back home to Brest.

chausias big wheel port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallMarité wasn’t back in her berth in the harbour so she’s not made it back home as of yet.

Chausiais was there, moored up underneath the crane in the unloading bay where the two freighters from Jersey tie up when they arrive. It looks as if she will be taking a load out to the Ile de Chausey on the morning tide.

The Big Wheel was working away too. I like the idea of it being all lit up, something that I have never actually seen because I am usually never here at this time of the year, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall.

picnickers plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallRound at the viewpoint the canteen vehicle was there all closed up. However they had left an electric cable connected to it and plugged into one of the sockets. Imagine how long that would be there in the UK.

The picnickers were back on the beach too, enjoying the sunset. Not as many as we have seen in the past but even so the three of them there seemed to be having a good time,

And who could blame them? There was a terrible wind blowing but nevertheless it was a pleasant evening to be out

beautiful sunset ile de chausey english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallAnd talking of the wind, it had upset my running this evening.

It was impossible to run down to the clifftop because it was straight into a headlong nor’easter that stopped me in my tracks and made me walk.

The itinerant was there. He had built himself a little shelter using his wheeled trolley as a windbreak and I can’t say that he didn’t need it.

beautiful sunset ile de chausey english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallThe rest of the runs passed off without much incident.

The gale that was blowing down the Boulevard des 2E et 202E de Ligne stopped me in my tracks.

But that’s nothing new. Since I came back from my adventure on the high seas I’ve not been able to make it up the hill there anyway. Instead, I have to stop to catch my breath before I can do the next lap.

beautiful sunset ile de chausey english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallThe next lap takes me all the way round to the viewpoint in the Rue du Nord where I could stand and admire the sunset.

As it slowly sank into the sea a small crowd of about two people gathered around me to take some photos. And when it had gone beneath the horizon I turned round and ran home.

Back here I wrote up my notes with something of an air of disappointment. My health isn’t doing very well right now which is no surprise because it’s been exactly 6 months since I’ve had my medical treatment.

beautiful sunset ile de chausey english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallThey aren’t going to treat me until at least October, something that I find very strange.

But they are in charge and presumably they know what they are doing. It just seems to me to be quite funny that when I miss a treatment they go berserk about it, yest they can let me go for 9 months without anything at all.

And on that note, I’m off to bed. It’s shopping tomorrow so I need to be on form for that.

Sunday 5th July 2020 – WITH IT BEING …

… a Sunday and therefore a Day of rest, anyone who thinks that I might have leapt out of bed at 07:30 when I awoke is quite clearly mistaken

09:30 is much more realistic as far as I’m concerned and I’m quite happy with that.

After the meds I had a look at the dictaphone sure enough, I’d been on a few voyages during the night.

There was something going on last night about Space and I’m not sure how or why or where it was but there were three of us – me, a girl and a Welsh guy. Something happened – we’d been in contact with some extra-terrestres (I’m dreaming in French again) and we were all trying to decide what to do. I came up with a few ideas – I couldn’t really remember what they were. This Welsh guy came up with an idea “why don’t I go to deep Space to visit them and talk to them?”. He was a salesman by profession and of vourse being Welsh he knew how to talk so that seemed to be the way forward. We could see if we looked through an inspection hatch that there was a little hole on the side of this planet. That was where he had to aim his spacecraft for. We had to wait until the Americans had a space rocket ready to blast a capsule off into high outer space orbit so that he could contact the extra-terrestres and start selling them things. I thought that this was a really weird thing to be doing.
We were on our boat last night and we came to a place where some of us wanted to get off to go to look at some things. But Strawberry Moose he stayed on board and everyone wondered where he was. I said that he wanted to stay on board and do some things on board. We all got down into our zodiacs but the two girls whom I hoped would come with us stayed on board as well which was disappointing. We finally came ashore in a jungle area where a woman had arranged to meet two people who would be in a bar around the corner. So we went to this bar while everyone else dispersed. There was no sign of these two people at all and we waited for about 10 minutes. In the end we decided to go. Just then this German boy off one of the crossings turned up in the bar and started to talk to us. That was the last thing that we wanted, to end up with him. Before we went in we had to organise our clothes. I had some clothes that wouldn’t go in the washing machine to be washed in the cycle that they had. I was going to do them by hand but the guy in charge of the laundry had this procedure. He had some washing conditioner arranged in a series – a bowl with conditioner, a bowl with clean water, a beaker full of conditioner and another bowl of plain water. He took hold of one of my socks and was pasting this conditioner over it. Normally when I wash my socks I put one over my hand , rub soap into it, put the other sock over the other hand, rub soap into that and rub the two together like I’m washing my hands. He was doing it in a strange way so I thought I’d do it in that way too, watching him and seeing what procedure he was going to use.
There was a group of us in a room in a house later on. The room was really untidy and there was a load of papers and magazines and maps and things. They were all mine and all needed to be tidied up. A couple of girls were helping me, going through the piles and getting them in the right order, unfolding them and laying them flat, merging them together. There were piles of cables, computer and audio cables etc all over the place and they were all arranged in some weird crazy cat’s cradle. While the girls were organising these magazines and I’d done a bit of that I was starting to untangle these cables. One of the girls with black hair and glasses came over and said “I’ve already done that”. I showed here that there was a lot that was still tangled up. She said “just leave it for the moment because we can do that when it’s more convenient”. She started to take down the washing that was hanging up everywhere. We were on a big barge and we had to leave the main waterway to go down some kind of side waterway. It was a very tight turn, almost as if you had to double back on yourself which is no fun when you have a big barge like we had. The girl at the helm up front had to steer this barge round and I knew that she didn’t like doing it here so I said “this is your favourite bend, isn’t it, Judy?”. She didn’t hear me at first so I said it again. She made some kind of grimace. When we got to this waterway it was dry and there were sheep in it. We had to pivot this boat round to get it lined up then get out and drag it up out of the water onto this pathway that was going downhill. The first time we did it the boat ground out. It was in the wrong area and was going to hit the wall so we had to push it back to line it up to start again. I had a feeling that this was not going to be easy having to do this. But somewhere in the middle of all of this was Alan Dean – now when was the last time I ever heard of him? I was at the top of the steps walking down with some swing doors at the bottom. He was down there. It was a case of playing a bass guitar and I was stuck. I wanted to improve and I didn’t know where to go, how to learn, how to change my procedures. I thought that I would look at a few videos on Youtube but that was somewhere stuck in the middle that was.

It was therefore something of a major surprise that I found myself awake so early after that. And even more of a surprise that I kept going all day without a rest.

But let’s not go getting ahead of ourselves here.

It took me long enough to type out all of that, and then there was my Welsh homework. With having missed Tuesday’s lesson I had to do the coursework myself before I could make a start.

So what with one thing and another it was lunchtime by the time it was all done.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I spent a few days a couple of months ago copying all of the files from various hard drives onto the new external drive that I had bought.

The aim was to compare them and delete any duplicate files but for some unknown reason the file duplicate detecting program was having issues.

This afternoon I uninstalled it and reinstalled it but it still wouldn’t work. However eventually I found the reason. Two of the drives are “C” drives out of old computers with the deep BIOS settings on them – the settings that drive the drives. Of course you can’t delete those so when the program detected two identical files in the BIOS settings in two drives it was obliged to pause for thought.

Excluding those files from the compare did the trick, and so the afternoon has been spent mostly dealing with this little project.

bird of prey pointe du roc granville manche normandy france eric hallThere was of course the afternoon walk to deal with, and with it being a Sunday it was the day when I go into town for my weekly ice cream.

But I didn’t go very far before I was interrupted. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I’m quite a keen bird watcher and when I was married I had many a lecture on birdwatching from poor Nerina.

Anyway, this bird here was hovering around over the edge of the cliff where the little rabbit colony seems to be. I imagine that it was looking for any errant rabbit babies.

bird of prey pointe du roc granville manche normandy france eric hallIt’s a bird of prey of some description but whatever it is, I’m none-the-wiser.

My friend Erika thinks that it’s either a white-tailed hawk or a hobby and she certainly has more idea than I do. My bird-identifying is rather like that of a woman identifying a car.

“What kind of car was it, madam?”
“A red one”.

And that’s me with birds too unfortunately

peche a pied port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallAs it’s my long Sunday walk I went down the steps at the end of the path and round the headland on the lower level.

Plenty of people milling around there today. The holidays are well under way now. And there were loads of people out there on the rocks this afternoon too. It’s a low tide today and so those who practise the peche à pied are out there in force.

Here’s hoping that they share their catch out with their friends too. After all, one shouldn’t be selfish with one’s shellfish.

fishing boats chantier navale port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallThe path carries on around the foot of the cliff and then past the Chantier navale.

A big surprise in there today. It seems that they’ve been busy while I was away, for every berth has some kind of vessel in there undergoing repair. No fewer than six fishing boats, I make it, up on blocks today.

Having been quiet for a while, it’s good to see them so busy. It’ll just be someone’s luck to have a breakdown while there’s no berth available to accommodate them

covid warning notice fish processing plant port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallThe tide was right out just now as we have seen so I was able to take the short cut across the top of the harbour gates to the other side.

On the way past the Fish processing plant I observed this notice pasted to the door. Briefly, and crudely (and if you want anything crude, then in the words of the late, great Bob Doney “I’m your man!) translated by Yours Truly, there have been several “incidents” at the Fish processing plant that breach the Corona virus precautions.

This notice informs everyone of these breaches and states that if there are any more, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry will take whatever action they consider necessary.

They don’t mess about here. None of your “driving to Barnard Castle” or “going to Greece via Bulgaria” in these situations.

spirit of conrad victor hugo port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallOur home from last week is still in port.

Spirit of Conrad is quietly moored where we left her on Friday evening, with the big wheel in the background.

The two Channel island ferries, Victor Hugo and Granville are there in port too. We are told that the ferry service is to start very soon – the 11th July is one date that is freely bandied about.

But the regulations for travelling are extremely severe and I don’t imagine that there will be many takers at the moment.

man fallen out of zodiac baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france eric hallHaving observed the shipping in the harbour I walked on round to the end of the wall to see what was going on.

Here was something interesting. There was a zodiac parked up in the water over there and it looked as if there was no-one in it. Enlarging the photo when I returned home, I could see that there was someone in the water right by it.

It was one of those situations where I couldn’t see what he was doing or why he would have been in the water. It’s a shame that I didn’t notice him until it was too late to do any good.

propellor of antwerpen port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallThis propellor here from a ship is propped up against the wall of the harbour offices and I must have walked past here 100 times without really noticing it.

It belonged to a small ship of 265 or so tonnes, the Antwerpen. She was a German coaster built in 1917 by the Germans but abandoned in Oostende at the Armistice.

Taken over by the Belgian Navy, she was repossessed by the Germans in 1940 when Belgium fell, and was one of the boats that plied between Granville and the Channel islands taking supplies out there.

In December 1940 in thick fog she was rammed by another vessel in her convoy and sank in shallow water. Demolished finally in 1963, her propellor was found by divers in 1986 and presented to the port office.

bad parking port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallOne thing that features quite often in these pages, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, is pathetic parking.

And does parking ever get more pathetic than this? All of these cars are parked without any regard whatsoever for the road markings. It’s totally unbelievable, isn’t it?

Continuing on my walk, I went round onto the quayside to see what was happening, but there was nothing whatever going on there this afternoon.

big wheel place godal granville manche normandy france eric hallThat was probably because the gates were closed and the tide was right out. Not much point in anyone being here right now.

Turning on my heel, i went out to have a look at the big wheel. It’s going round and there are people on it too, although it would be wrong to say that it was actually busy. No clues at all.

And so I pushed on into the rue LeCampion to my little ice cream stall and had the weekly ice cream. I need to keep up with my habits while the summer is here.

steps rue lecampion granville manche normandy france eric hallFor a change I walked back along the rue LeCampion, up the steps at the Rampe du Monte Regret and under the drawbridge into the old town.

The aim of going this way was to see how they were getting on with the replacement of the gas pipe in the rue Lecarpentier.

By the looks of things, they seem to have finished the work. And it looks quite a tidy job too. You’ll hardly notice that all of that has been dug up and subsequently replaced.

yacht english channel ile de chausey granville manche normandy france eric hallUp through the Place Cambernon and through the alley down to the rue du Nord and along the walls to the viewpoint.

There was a yacht out there in the English Channel struggling along in the wind. It’s not a boat that I recognise either and I can’t read a name on her anywhere.

Back here I carried on with my work and at 18:00 knocked off for a play on the guitars for an hour or so.

Later on I had tea. Another home-made pizza that was really delicious. But no pudding tonight as I wasn’t that hungry.
In

My run this evening was a dismal failure – and for a couple of reasons too.

  1. When I came back in this afternoon I put the camera battery on charge. And when i went out this evening, I forgot to put the battery back in it – so no photos
  2. There’s a gale blowing out here – 75 kph winds. Several of my runs ended abruptly as I turned a corner and ran into a headwind that blew me backwards. It’s been a long time since I’ve been so depressed. Something of a failure, that was

So I’m packed now and I’ll be off on my travels tomorrow. Back to Castle Anthrax. I wonder what plans they have in store for me there.

Saturday 4th July 2020 – THERE WAS NO …

… possibility that I was ever going to beat the alarms this morning.

In fact, I didn’t even try. Not after going to be quite late last night. I was lucky to be up by 07:30.

After the medication I went for a shower but it seems that Bane of Britain has struck again. Guess who forgot to switch the hot water back on again last night?

Instead I worked my way through the hundreds of e-mails and messages that had built up over the week. Or, at least, some of them, because I went off to the shops.

Espace Auto was a waste of time. They are now on Summer hours which means that they are closed on Saturdays. I shall have to go some other time to pick up the estimate for the repairs to Caliburn’s bodywork.

Noz was likewise a waste of time. Sometimes the shop is excellent with tons of really good stuff, but at other times there’s nothing of interest.

Today was one of the latter. I ended up with another pack of those breaded soya steaks (there were only four left), a tub of vegan chocolate and hazelnut ice-cream and a book about Serbia in World War I. It’s actually quite interesting to see these history books that recount history in quite a different way to to the way that it’s told to kids in the UK. There’s a completely different perspective and point of view.

LeClerc wasn’t all that much better. I don’t need much because I’m off again on Monday morning for three or four days but even so I managed to forget the apples.

The guy and his wife in front of me in the queue bought enough beer and spirits to keep them going for a year but the cashier and I commiserated with each other that whatever they were doing, we hadn’t been invited.

Dodging the raindrops I drove back here stuck behind a flaming grockle in a perishing mobile home stopping every blasted minute to admire a sodding seagull. I can’t see why they don’t just post their money to us and stay at home.

The rest of the day was spent in going through the outstanding mail and then uploading the missing blog entries. They aren’t complete because I’ve not yet transcribed the dictaphone entries or edited the … gulp … 400 or so photos that I took while I was on my travels.

While we’re on the subject of photos … “well, one of us is” – ed … I went out for my afternoon walk as usual.

people picnicking on beach plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallThe weather wasn’t very nice at all. It was cool and damp, trying its best to rain a little.

That didn’t stop the picnickers on the beach though. They were all down there making the most of the first day of the Grandes Vacances that will continue for the next 8 weeks until the end of August.

It’ll take more than just a bit of bad weather to stop a kid with a bucket and spade scrambling over a rock on a beach

fishing from beach plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallIt wasn’t just kids with buckets and spades or adults with picnic hampers either today.

The fishermen were out there in their numbers, up to their knees in the surf casting their lines into the sea.

Having made enquiries with the crew of the Spirit of Conrad, I now know that they are actually fishing for sea bass, or bar. I’m not sure whether they are any of DOCTOR EVIL’S EVIL-NATURED SEA BASS because as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I have yet to see anyone actually catch anything and five days on board a boat in the middle of a fleet of fishing boats didn’t change that situation either.

It was round about here in the Place du Marché aux Chevaus that I was almost knocked over by an old barsteward in a car reversing out of a parking place without looking. We had what can only be described as “a frank exchange of views” but what impressed me more than anything was that he used the adjective “Belgian” in connection with the way that i was speaking.

It’s hard to believe that after 13 years living in France I still speak French with a noticeable Belgian accent, rather than the British accent which is what most people might expect.

roofing place marechal foch granville manche normandy france eric hallMy walk today carried on around the walls and I ended up at the viewpoint overlooking the Place Marechal Foch.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, there have been roofing works going on here for the last couple of months and I was intrigued to see how they had progressed.

They seem to have finished the roof but the scaffolding – or, at least, some of it, is still there. We shall see over the course of the next week or so if that part that remains is finally removed or whether they will be doing something else.

seagull big wheel place godal granville manche normandy france eric hallFrom there I carried on around the walls and ended up in the Square Maurice Marland.

When we arrived in port yesterday, we could see that the Big Wheel had been erected in the Place Godal. It comes every year for July and August but people were wondering if it would come this year due to the fact that last year apparently it was quite poorly patronised.

But here it is and if you look closely at it you’ll see that there are actually people on board right now, as well as the customary seagull giving it an official fly-past.

baby seagull rue des juifs granville manche normandy france eric hallTalking of seagulls, while I was here I had a look to see how my baby seagull on the roof in the rue des Juifs was doing.

Some of the babies here are flapping their wings and trying to fly but my one here is a week or two behind and hasn’t quite reached that stage. But he or she seems to be healthy enough and is certainly looking fairly active.

Next week I’ll pass by for another look and see how it’s getting on. We’re reaching the stage where we’ll soon be seeing a few of them taking to the air.

Back at the apartment I carried on with work and then had just 40 minutes on the guitar tonight – the 6-string. One thing that I realised while I was on board the ship is that I’m not going to have my music with me all the time and so I’ll be far better off practising half a dozen songs really well until I can reach the stage where I can play them without the music and sing them without the lyrics.

Tea tonight was one of the breaded soya fillets with potato and vegetables, followed by a slice of apple pie from the other week. I’d frozen the slices that were left when I went away and so this morning I pulled out two for the weekend.

And that reminds me – don’t forget to take the pizza dough out of the freezer in the morning.

Later on, I was just about to go out for my walk when the phone rang. Rosemary called me and we had another one of ur very lengthy chats about not too much in particular.

By the time we had finished it was gone 23:00 and raining quite heavily so it was no time to go for my evening run. I stayed in and finished my notes instead.

So tomorrow I must organise myself. There’s my Welsh course to review seeing as I missed last week’s lesson and homework to be done of course. Travel tickets need to be printed too and to pack my things.

Another thing is that I’ve started a new course today. Seeing as how I enjoyed the blues piano course (even if I can’t play the piano at all and was more interested in the theory) there was a free one on song-writing.

Not just lyrics either (although I’m sure that they can give me a few tips) but on chord arrangement and structure too, and that’s the interesting part. I’m intrigued to see what it will do.

But that’s for tomorrow. Tonight is bed time with, I hope, a lie-in tomorrow. I deserve one after this week’s efforts.

Wednesday 16th August 2017 – WE HAVEN’T FINISHED …

… with our series of calamities yet.

First thing is that the keyboard on the laptop has now seized. I’m not sure how that has happened – it must have been when I closed the lid in a hurry and trapped a pen in between the keys, and this has somehow triggered off the key-lock combination.

Having tried all kinds of combinations that I (and several gallant friends) could remember, it’s still stuck firmly solid.

I discovered this this morning when I went to type of the results of my travels during the night. I was in charge of two young girls – aged about 9 and 5 – and I had to make a sandwich for them. The 9 year-old was straightforward enough but for the younger one it was the tiniest lump of baguette with next-to-nothing on it. It was clear that this wasn’t going to do her much good but I told her to eat it and if it wasn’t enough she could have a bit more. She was quite clear that she needed more than this. Nevertheless, I told her to eat it “and then we’ll see”.

I was awake at 02:30 this morning but no chance of me staying awake, even had I wanted to. I went back to bed and to sleep. 05:00 was much more like it.

I’d put the Canadian mobile phone on charge in something of a forlorn hope last night. USB data cables clearly don’t work so I’d tried the mains charger and it seemed to have done the business.

But here’s the next problem – in that there’s no credit on it apparently even though I had put $100 on it just before leaving. And so that’s never right. Just one more thing sent to try me, I suppose.

And yet another calamity surrounds the hotel. I’ve stayed here before but that was due to having to leave here at about 05:00 long before breakfast would be ready. This time though, there’s no issues about breakfast so I was quite looking forward to it – only to find that the place doesn’t serve breakfast.

The nearest Tim Horton’s is a fair walk away but nevertheless off I trotted for bagels, coffee and orange juice.

While I was there, and having a think – which I occasionally do – WhatsApp came to mind. using the Tim Horton’s wi-fi service, I downloaded it and configured it on my Europe phone.

My European service provider supplies a service for North America at €29 per fortnight and this doesn’t work out to be much more expensive while I’m here than my Canadian phone supplier would be, and the interesting thing is that I can use that in the USA.

All I need now is for Rhys to tell me the final two digits of the phone number that he’s using so that I can check that I have it and add it in.

Off I trotted down the street to reserve my bus for New Brunswick, and much to my surprise and delight, there are evening buses at the times and on the days that I want them. So I’m off on Friday evening at 21:30 to arrive Saturday morning at 09:00. But there’s a wait at Ste-Foy and … err … 2 hours wait at Riviere-du-Loup.

Next stop was the Dollar Store to organise a North American USB transformer for the phone. It takes about a week to fully-charge off the laptop. And it came up trumps with that and some other stuff too.

childrens crocodile rue st catherine est montreal aout august 2017And outside, we had a strange sight. Loads of nursery-age kids wandering around the streets with guardians and the like. A couple of groups were in multi-pushchairs like the old “knife box” stage buses of the 1870s and I wasn’t quick enough with the camera, but I was for this arrangement that I thought extremely interesting.

At Bell Telephones I found the reason for my difficulties. The contract that I have has been abolished and, not only that, an upgrade to the system has rendered my phone obsolete.

And when I told the people that I wasn’t interested in buying a new phone, they lost interest in me completely. So that’s the end of Bell Telephones, then. I can’t say that I’m sorry.

It did occur to me afterwards that this was the same Bell shop that threw me out a few years ago. Perhaps it’s just an issue with this place and its manager, but I couldn’t care less now.

Not too far away is a computer shop, so I popped in. And popped out again with the cheapest USB keyboard in the place. If this doesn’t work then I’m stuffed (and it clearly does, because that’s how I’m managing to type this).

I’d arranged to see Josée so off I went to her place of work. The street where she works is a strange one – there’s a southern half and a northern half, with a bit missing in the middle.

And so, of course, Brain of Britain walked along a street that passed through the gap in the street so I had gone miles beyond it before I realised. And so I had to retrace my steps.

belvedere mount royal montreal aout august 2017That had given me an opportunity to see a part of the rue Sherbrooke that I had never seen before. You might all recognise what that it up there, because we’ve stood on that point a few times before.

That’s the belvedere up on Mount Royal where there is that stunning view over the city that we’ve photographed on a few occasions. We’ve not seen it from this angle before though.

musee des beaux arts fine arts museum montreal aout august 2017And what we have here is the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. We’ve not seen this building before either.

The First Nation totem pole – yes, I can go along with that, but the purpose of the pile of used vehicle tyres totally defeats me. It’s nothing that I would call Fine Art, but then regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I do have issues with this kind of thing.

parc jeanne mnce montreal aout august 2017Here’s a view that we all might recognise, because we’ve seen this before too. And had I known that Josée worked right here I would have been here in a flash without all of this messing about.

This is the park in the rue du Parc with Mount Royal park on the left and the Parc Jeanne Mance on the right; and Josée’s office backs onto the big skyscraper where I came in 2011 to talk to those guys about wind turbines and the like. It’s an uncomfortably small world these days.

And who was Jeanne Mance when she’s at home – if she ever is? She was the first lay (non-religious) nurse of the infant Montreal community and is the symbol of nursing here in the same way that Florence Nightingale is in the UK.

What with all of my prevarications, Josée had gone to lunch when I arrived and remembering that there was a “Subway” around the corner, I went and grabbed myself a butty too.

After lunch I finally met up with Josée. And being aware of my plight, she had brought in a spare mobile phone that she had lying around. Not only that, she knew a place where they would do a decent contract for a couple of months at a price far less than Bell could offer and with far more functions too.

That was well-worth a coffee so off we went for a drink and a chat and to catch up on everything that had happened since we had last seen each other.

With it being such a nice afternoon we set off to walk down to the river.

marguerite bourgeoys school for girls montreal aout august 2017I was distracted on the way by this notice carved onto the wall of this building just here. Near this spot was where Marguerite Bourgeoys had her school for girls.

We remember her – she was the woman who came out with one of the very earliest groups of colonists to Montreal to look after the welfare of the women and children of the colony.

When we were at Troyes we went to see her birthplace, if you remember.

pedalo vieux fort montreal aout august 2017We didn’t actually make it as far as the river. It was a beautiful, warm afternoon and the pedaloes on the little lake looked so inviting. And besides, I don’t have enough exercise as everyone keeps on telling me.

And so we took to the water and had a really good pedal around the lake for half an hour.

There’s quite a strong current in there too so heading upstream was quite a fight. And we ended up being quite out of breath by the time that we finished.

grande roue vieux port montreal aout august 2017And do I remember this from last year? Or is it new?

Whatever it is, it’s a Big Wheel of course and part of the entertainment that’s provided along the old port of Montreal, although right now it’s not doing very much entertaining because there’s no-one about.

I don’t imagine that the view of the city is up to much though, because we are quite low down here and we are surrounded by tall buildings.

Seeing as by now Josée was exhausted and that I’d paid for the pedalo, she summoned up a taxi to take us to our final port of call – the jazz club in Montreal. There was a live act on and she had booked a table for us.

It has to be said that the live act was, well, not up to the standard that I might have expected given the nature of the venue. Even worse was that despite having ordered a vegan meal, they could offer me … errr … nothing.

I ended up with a salad and that was my lot. And with a bottle of water and the cover charge for the entertainment my bill came to $37!00. I shan’t be going there again, that’s for sure.

We put the world to rights on the way back and I ended up having an early night. My first day in Canada and it was a long one too. I was ready for a good sleep.

Friday 20th December 2013 – DIDN’T WE HAVE A LUVVERLY TIME …

day out coach trip bus ride pionsat clermont ferrand puy de dome france… the day we went to Clermont?

Thanks, Marianne, for ringing me at 06:30 otherwise I would still be in bed now, but anyway off to a garage along the road between Pionsat and St Eloy where Marianne was to leave her car for a service, and then we headed into Pionsat to catch the bus.

33 of us, there were, on board heading for Pionsat’s annual shopping trip to Clermont. Many towns and villages in the rural Puy-de-Dome go there on the same day and the Conseil-General have a little welcoming celebration with coffee, orange juice and croissants – just as well seeing as how I didn’t have any breakfast. And we received a free tram ticket, shopping bag and little Christmas present too.

The queue for the tram was enormous and so we walked to the centre, which was quite nice seeing as we passed by the city’s cemetery. One thing about Marianne is that she’s just as interested in things like this as I am and an invitation for a stroll around the dead centre of any kind of urban settlement will not be sneezed at.

cemetery clermont ferrand monks puy de dome franceThere were formerly many religious establishments in Clermont Ferrand and we stumbled across many communal graves in which various groups of nuns had interred their departed members.

The communal graves of the monks were however much more interesting. Tucked away in a quiet little corner of the cemetery behind a few enormous tombs is their last resting place – one headstone for each establishment and a little plaque for each brother who is interred here. Things like that are quite poignant really.

And I wonder who is involved in the upkeep of this little plot because some of the communal graves of the nuns are, well, very sorry spectacles indeed.

commonwealth war graves cemetery des charmes dechaux clermont ferrand puy de dome franceThere’s also a Commonwealth War Grave here in the cemetery at Clermont Ferrand. 22 British, Canadians and New Zealanders are buried here. 21 are Air Force men and quite clearly three groups of 7. Pilot, Flight Engineer, Navigator, Wireless Operator, Bomb-Aimer and a couple of gunners.

One group died on 5th March 1944, another group on 10th March 1944 and the third group on 27th July 1944. Clearly three Lancasters shot down in the vicinity and with the proximity of the huge Michelin tyre factory – just a couple of hundred yards away from where I was standing taking this photograph, then no prizes for guessing what they were doing – or trying to do.

Or so I wrote at the time. Subsequent research revealed something rather different.

Only one of the aircraft was a Lancaster engaged in bombing the Michelin factory (with an alternative target of the marshalling yards at Aulnat).

These were the crew of Lancaster B III serial ND513 of Squadron 207 RAF, carrying identity EM-R. The crew led by Squadron Leader Dudley Pike had set off from Spilsby in Lincolnshire on 10th March at 19:42.

The aeroplane suffered a direct hit from flak and exploded in mid-air. The wreckage crashed close to the Anne-Marie-Menut roundabout between 23:00 and 23:30.

The earlier crash, on 5th March 1944, was actually a Stirling B III serial EF215 of 75 squadron RAF (although many of the crew were New Zealanders). She carried identity AA-M

She had taken off from Mepal in Cambridgeshire on 4th March 1944 at about 20:51. She had been loaned to SOE (the Special Operations Executive) and was on a training flight parachuting arms to the Resistance in the Auvergne.

Because of the foul weather (blinding, gusting snowstorms were reported) she couldn’t see the torch signals and so aborted the mission, but ran into the side of a Puy in the Le Cros – Douharesse area.

The upper middle machine-gunner luckily survived the crash and was arrested. The others perished and, according to a report issued at the time, the cause of death was as much exposure to the elements as the injuries received in the crash.

The third aeroplane Was another Lancaster B III, serial number ND527 (only 14 machines newer than that lost on 10th March). She carried identity LE-O and belonged to 630 suadron RAF, although some crew were Canadians.

She had taken off from East Kirkby in Lincolnshire at 21:17 on 26th July 1944 to bomb the marshalling yards at Givors, south of Lyon, but at 02:45 the following morning, in the middle of a violent storm, she was involved in a mid-air collision with Lancaster ND856 of 82 squadron.

The pilot of the plane attempted a crash-landing just south of St Ignat, 14kms north-east of Riom, but collided with trees. The plane burst into flames and the crew was immolated.

Incidentally, ND856 exploded in mid-air and its remains fell to earth four or five kilometres away. The crew was originally buried in the local cemetery close tot he crash site but were later exhumed and re-interred in the big military cemetery at Mazargues, near Marseille.

lieutenant W T L Short commonwealth war graves cemetery des charmes dechaux clermont ferrand puy de dome franceThe 22nd grave is that of Lieutenant WTL Short and his is an interesting story.

It doesn’t matter what your perception of the RAF Bomber Command is (mine is that they were a bunch of mass-murdering war criminals, but that is by the way), no-one will dispute that for the expense and effort involved and the number of casualties that they suffered, they were pretty much ineffective and much more could have been achieved at far, far less expense by quite simply parachuting into the target area a bunch of commandos armed to the teeth, with the aim of sabotaging the factories and their output on the ground. The rail campaign of Summer 1944 is a classic example of this, and who remembers the Heroes of Telemark?

But a close look at the headstone of Lieutenant Short will reveal that he was “attached to the FFI” – the Force Français de l’Interieur, which is the politically-correct way of describing the French Resistance. And I can’t help thinking that for what he cost the British Government, his efforts were probably far more cost-effective than those of his 21 neighbours. And what is even more sad about all of this is that if you go to The Commonwealth War Graves Commission website

and carry out a search for the Des Charmes Dechaux cemetery in Clermont Ferrand, you’ll find entries for the 21 airmen but no entry for Lieutenant Short.

basilica notre dame du port clermont ferrand puy de dome franceFrom there we walked on into town, stopping halfway for another coffee of course. Crossing the road we went to the Basilica of Notre Dame du Port.

This church dates from the 6th Century and was founded, so the story goes, by St Avit who, as we all know, comes from down the road here at la Cellette where he had a spring and a hermitage. The church was destroyed by the Normans during one of their invasions of the 10th Century and subsequently rebuilt. Unusually, the crypt is open to the public and so we went down there to see what we could see but the short answer to that was “nothing”. It did not escape our notice, however, that the crypt only stretched so far underneath the church.

town hall clermont ferrand puy de dome franceMarianne then took me to see the Town Hall, which is just around the corner from the cathedral, the famous cathedral where Peter the Hermit summoned the First Crusade back at the end of the 11th Century.

The Town Hall was an interesting place to visit. It was formerly some kind of Abbey, as you can tell from the inner quadrangle and cloisters. But we couldn’t go inside for a nosey – it’s lunch time already.

And what do you notice here? Yes – a blue sky. It was depressing, wet and miserable this morning, just like me. But now it looks as if the sun might be coming out.

clermont ferrand puy de dome franceThe Christmas Market was next on the agenda. That was in the square at the back of the cathedral, the square that is dominated by the Puy de Dome, which you can see all bathed in snow and wun on the skyline in the background.

At the market I bought my final Christmas present, so I’m glad that I came here, and then we headed off to the Tourist Information and the Conseil General where I picked up an enormous pile of stuff for Radio Anglais. We won’t be complaining about lack of events and information now for quite a while with all of this stuff that I’ve collected, and I made a couple of useful contacts too.

big wheel ferris place de jaude clermont ferrand puy de dome franceMy main reason for being here though is to hold Marianne’s hand on the big ferris wheel in the Place de Jaude. In her capacity as hournalist she decided that it would be quite a plan to get to the top and take some decent photos, but she’s not very good at heights. Consequently I was roped in for moral support.

The wheel is quite high as you can see, and the views from the top, such as this one looking north-west, are absolutely splendid. Mind you, I was quite disappointed as it was the smoothest ride that i’ve ever had. It gave no real sensation of movement and it certainly didn’t seem as if we were anything like this high.

cathedral clermont ferrand puy de dome franceMind you, another lifetime’s ambition has been accomplished. Taking a photo of the cathedral at Clermont Ferrand is next-to-impossible as it is hemmed in by all kinds of other buildings and there’s no really good shot.

I’ve been experimenting with extreme-length telephoto lenses from the surrounding summits of the Faille de Limagne but they haven’t really worked out. But sod that for a game of soldiers now. Up here is the nicest view of the cathedral that anyone could hope to see.

So a visit to a bookshop, a quick coffee and then back to the bus and home to 2°C.The temperature has plummetted and we might well be back into winter at last.