… busy today, for a change.
And it started off quite early too when I was up and about long before the third alarm wet off. Mind you, I’m not quite sure how because when I listened to the dictaphone, I was amazed.
While you admire the photos of the tide coming in onto the Plat Gousset I’d been off on my holidays somewhere around the north-west of England but my holidays were over and it was now time to go back to work. Instead of going back to work I set off for the Welsh coast. People started to talk “well, the THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR is coming in there, isn’t she? It looks like you’re going off on another voyage with her”. Although I hadn’t booked anything, that was indeed my plan to get down there, speak to the people and see where they would end up taking me – hopefully get a flight out from there to the High Arctic. But the closer I got to the coast I began to realise that the question of payment – it’s not cheap and most of my money is in my English bank account and I can’t remember the number or the contact details and I don’t have the little machine with me, so how was I going to pay for all of this? But I was still looking forward to going. I was within a couple of days of my retirement. I was planning on retiring soon in which case the question of getting any extra time off didn’t really matter very much. This latter part is a dream that i’ve had so many times – being at work and being retirement age and for one reason or other I could just get fed up, turn round and walk away.
Some time later I was at work and the question of some kind of qualification came up. We all trooped round to my sister’s house. It was overrun with kittens, totally untidy. everywhere you tried to sit you had a kitten on you, something like that. In the end we hardly dare do anything. We had to take a photo of a particular page in a booklet with this woman’s identity – she had a ring with a special seal on it. We needed this ring in view on top of the image and we could use that as proof that we’d done this course and had this qualification although we hadn’t. When it came to my turn to take the photo I couldn’t get my camera to work. Everyone was becoming quite impatient. In the end someone took the form and took this woman off so they could photograph it for themselves.
At another point we were in the army, a big group of us. We were slowly on the advance through this town. There wasn’t very much pressure – it seems that we’d had quite a clean sweep of this. We were pushing on through and came round a bend. A couple of groups in front of us had disappeared round this bend. We came round this bend and as we did so a couple of soldiers came over a railway bridge or something. Their uniforms didn’t look like ours. Suddenly the commander said “God, these are Russians!”. They saw us as we saw them. They opened fire and we ran, we lost a couple of men. In the end we got back to the little square where there were barricades erected. We got in behind the barricades. I sent two soldiers off down a side street because it was possible that we could be outflanked down this street. I sent these soldiers off with a machine gun and told them to dig themselves in and if anyone came just send them a stream of machine gun fire. They seemed very reluctant to go and I had to shout at them to get them to move. They still didn’t move with any kind of enthusiasm. I ran back to find that our compound had been under attack but we had pushed them back. They’d gone and they hadn’t come back as yet. The commandant was giving orders about this and that. We were talking about being supplied by sea in which case this little post that I’d set up needed some kind fof reinforcement for that was between us and the sea. We started to discuss all of this and I awoke in a fever.
We were all in this compound (this was later, by the way) and there were people milling around downstairs in this kind of open-plan office type of place on a floor below. It turns out that they were selling tickets for something – it might have been a Connah’s Quay football match. I was going to ask if the people at the desk wanted a cup of tea for I was going to make a pot. I had to wait my turn in the queue before I could get to see them as there was a big queueing arrangement. When I got there there were 5 of them working there but I’d only seen 2. They all said “yes we want tea” and how many sugars they wanted. I thought “I don’t have much chance of remembering all of that”. But I asked them again to make sure. There was too much water in my kettle so I tipped some out. That brought some kind of strange look from some of them but I went off to make this pot of tea. There was some kind of headlines on the radio about it but there was a huge discussion about the outpost. they were suggesting that this outpost be pushed further south and they were poring over maps for it. Out technical in command said that we already had one. It was called Preston Central and explained about the Preston railway station, how it had been relocated in the past to allow a junction for a few lines and how it had been reinforced, how lots of industry and so on had started to congregate around it. he seemed to think that this was vitally important for this industry and laid claim to the fact that Preston Central should be our outpost
From there I was somewhere around Knutsford/Manchester Airport with my brother of all people. We’d been to some kind of exhibition or village fete or something like that. We were all in this huge hall. Who should we bump into but Nerina. The 3 of us ended up having quite a lengthy chat and it all came to be quite a friendly situation. We all then had to go and get some breakfast next morning so we went down to this place where all these people were congregating, hordes of them, but somehow we lost Nerina. She must have gone to get some breakfast. We’d seen a stall with all fruit buns and things like that on it but there was a proper breakfast place. In the end I said that I’d stay where we are. He can go off and get breakfast and I’ll wait here and we’ll all meet up here again. Off he went and I was on my own, and waited for hours! We’d been given some complimentary glasses of tea and we’d had a few sips out of them. They were on the table but I got up to stretch my legs. When I came back my tea had gone – someone had cleared it away. I said something pointed about this and a guy at the table next to me was one of the organisers. He didn’t really take much notice so I had a good moan about this, saying “it’s a good job that it’s free or I’d make a fuss about this”. Eventually, after a very long wait, my brother came back with a plate with about half a dozen potato crisps on it. I asked “what’s happening now?”. he replied “they’d run out and I wasn’t going to wait any more. I had to wait long enough as it was”. I asked “have you seen Nerina?” “No!”. I started to mention this stall with all this bread on it but he didn’t seem to be particularly interested. I said “we can get some chips on the way home”. He said” what? Round by the airport?”. I replied “we’re going Knutsford, Holmes Chapel Sandbach, Crewe way home, aren’t we?” so we set off. I found that I had Nerina’s phone number on my phone so I phoned but there was no answer. I left it for a minute and phoned again – still no answer. In the end there was no other solution but we had to go home and hope that she would make it home OK without any problems. We set off, the two of us, on foot. There was much more to it than this but I can’t remember it now. We ended up in some kind of square and there were loads of people milling around. Someone we knew there said something like “let’s have a coffee”. There was a huge urn of tea or something and he went to get the ladle out but we couldn’t find a clean mug – no clean mugs anywhere. Someone said “God, yes. The mugs gave out ages ago”. I thought “I’m not having much luck today!”
It’s surprising that I managed to awake as early as I did. In fact, the more that I think of it, I must have caught myself as I was on my way back home.
Even more so, last night I didn’t go to bed as early as I expected. I wasn’t tired so in order to profit from my lack of fatigue I pushed on and finished off the radio programme before going to bed, so that at least there was something out of the way.
First thing after I’d finished transcribing the dictaphone notes (which took longer that you might think) was to revise my Welsh and then have a quick tidy around ready for my lesson. That’s the problem with these Zoom meetings – when you’re on the screen everyone else can see all about you.
After lunch I decanted the latest batch of Kefir. That’s all that I’m doing for now – simply because I don’t have any more figs. When I’d decanted it I whizzed up a couple of oranges, extracted the juice and then ran everything through a series of sieves and filters.
That’s now having its second fermentation, and the first batch made with the strawberry juice is now in the fridge ready for use.
All of that took me up to the afternoon. Time to go out for my walk.
There was plenty of wind, although not as much as there has been, and it was quite cold too. There were a few things going on out at sea too. Here we have a yacht battling hard against the wind, with a speedboat roaring past showing just how efficient modern technology can be at times.
It’s not the same as sail, that’s for sure, but you don’t run much risk of being becalmed, except if you run out of fuel. At least, with a steam engine, you could burn bits of the boat.
Further along the path, I was pretty much alone. Just the odd person here and there out on the path.
Out on the sea, there were a few more boats dotted around in the English Channel between the Ile de Chausey and the Pointe du Roc. We have one of the trawler-type fishing boats on its way back into the port with today’s catch.
As well as that, there’s a speedboat coming back over from the Ile de Chausey.
There were probably a few others out there too but the low cloud and mist prevented me seeing right out to the horizon.
There were no brats out there this afternoon – looks as if the orienteering classes have now finished. I was enjoying watching them, remembering my own childhood experiences in orienteering.
But round the other side of the headland, I had a good look at what was going on in the chantier navale. From the heady days of as many as eight of the boats in there up on ramps, we’ve now come down to just two.
A couple more seem to have gone back into the water today, including the one that had been on the blocks by the portable lift.
And we have another visitor in port today, someone whose arrival I have been expecting for a couple of days.
Having come in on the high tide today, Normandy Trader is now moored up at the quayside underneath the unloading crane. There is nothing actually going on there right now so it looks as if she’s been unloaded and loaded back up already.
All of this points to a rapid getaway on the evening tide. One thing that I’ve noticed is that these days, with no passenger ferries operating, the two little freighters have plenty of work and they don’t hang around for long.
We can’t go for too long without a photo here or there about the bad parking that goes on round about the College Malraux – the local high school.
Here in the Boulevard Vaufleury we have someone parked up on the pavement right by the pedestrian crossing at the bottom of the road that leads to the college.
The Boulevard Vaufleury is a service-bus route and coming in the other direction is the fleet of school buses that pick up the kids to take them home.
Furthermore, there is a public car park across the road, not even 20 yards further on from where the car is parked.
As well as the kefir, I’d made some bread dough that had been proofing. I shaped them into small buns and left them to proof again while I did some more photos of the Spirit of Conrad.
When they were ready I bunged them into the oven and left them to cook while I cleaned up the mess that I’d made.
When I took them out, I noticed that they had been overcooked. 25 minutes seems to be far too long for them and I shall have to refine my technique for my next batch, whenever that might be.
After the hour on the guitar, I went for tea. A burger with pasta and vegetables with tomato sauce, followed by the strawberry turnover that I had made.
Then it was time to go out and about for my evening walk.
The wind had dropped and the sun had long-since set, but from the viewpoint overlooking the Rue du Nord I could see a beautiful sky right over the Ile de Chausey and it looked absolutely magnificent.
We could see the light of the lighthouse shining quite brightly, and also several lights of boats that are anchored off the island. Whether they are there for the night or whether they are fishing boats out there at work, it’s impossible to tell
From the viewpoint I ran on down the path underneath the city walls. One or two other people were around there so for a part of my travels I wasn’t alone.
The lights of Donville-les-Bains were glittering very brightly and their reflection in the sea looked quite wonderful. And from there I walked on around the corner to the viewpoint over the Place Marechal Foch to have a look at how the tide was doing.
No-one else about now so I ran on down across the Square Maurice Marland. I can get all the way down there and all the way up the first ramp at the end.
Mind you I have to stop and catch my breath at the end, and from there, there’s a nice view over the harbour.
There’s a trawler-type of fishing boat anchored over there on one of the pontoons that the commercial yachts use, and I’ve no idea why it would be tied up over there. It has all of its work-lights on too and that is bizarre too.
And I was right about Normandy Trader too. As you can see, the loading berth is empty. The harbour gates haven’t been open long but nevertheless she has made a smart getaway.
Yesterday, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I mentioned that I hadn’t seen Minette, the old dark tortoiseshell cat, for quite a while.
And so it goes without saying that tonight, here she is sitting on the steps outside her front door. She let me stroke her for a few minutes and then she wandered off.
And me? I wandered off too – ran the final length back home to clock up the metres and the percentages on my fitbit.
Back here, I had a surprise with the kefir. The instructions say that on the second fermentation, the bottles need to be opened regularly to let out the excess gas that’s been created.
Accordingly, I opened the bottle of strawberry kefir, and the fountain that was produced would have put Vesuvius to shame and would have launched the Space Station.
Perhaps I ought to open the bottles more regularly that once every day, or maybe it’s because the first fermentation isn’t complete
Whatever it was, I ended up having to wash down the kitchen and I’ll have to change my clothes in the morning.