Tag Archives: brussels sprouts

Saturday 22nd December 2018 – IT’S ALL VERY WELL …

… going to bed really early at something like 21:00 or whenever it was, but it counts for nothing at all if you are wide-awake again at about 23:20.

After that, it took me an absolute age to go back to sleep. And when I finally did manage to drop off, I wasn’t out for long. By 04:30 I was awake again and by 05:00 I was up and about.

None of the aforementioned stopped me going for a little nocturnal ramble though. And wherever I was during the night, I was somewhere that bore a resemblance to the north shore of the Gulf of St Lawrence. And I don’t remember what vehicle I was in either. But there I was in some kind of small town with some kind of rural business park out there but with buildings so well hidden that they would take some tracking down. There was an ice-cream parlour there somewhere and I was on my way. I had to negotiate a few barriers and ended up in a field that was being used as a car park, but then I couldn’t even see the sign for the ice-cream place, never mind find the buildings. And so I found myself back on the road, heading to the end where there was a huge car ferry that would press onwards. The road to the ferry terminal turned a sharp left right by a series of small lakes and ponds. By now I was accompanied by a young girl who was going to an interview. This was taking place at a modern building near the turning. When we arrived there we met someone who was going to take us thereand we noticed a couple wading across the pond to meet us. I remarked that I wouldn’t like to do that in winter, to which the guy replied that in winter they walked on the ice. Even so, just before the ice formed it would still be far too cold for me. This girl went off with these two people and I was obliged to wait for her. I was shown around the ground floor of this building and while this was happening I saw my ferry steaming… “dieseling” – ed … out of the harbour down the road. Something had to be taken to the theatre, which was upstairs, so I volunteered.This place was much bigger than the ground floor, quite modern, clean and tidy. The bar was in a strange place, down at the end, and there was a woman there. She thanked me for what I had brought and invited me to watch the next production. I explained that by then, I would probably be a very long way away from here.

First thing that I did after I joined the Land of the Living (and believe me, this was at a moment not exactly adjacent to 05:00) was to have a shower. There were clothes ti wash, of course, but I wasn’t up to dealing with those right now. They can wait until the next time.

Second thing that needed doing was to write up my notes for yesterday. Going to bed at 21:00 meant that I hadn’t even thought about that last night. What with an interruption for coffee and a couple of others too for various purposes (including a little relax), it took me quite a while to deal with it.

pope leo 13 seminary chapel leuven louvain belgiumBy now it was 10:00 and I have things to do, so I hit the streets.

It wasn’t very cold at all outside – rather disappointing in fact, because I was hoping for some kind of Arctic weather for Christmas.

And so instead I went for a wander for a good view of the Pope Leo XIII Seminary, nicely framed by the new student accommodation blocks off the Tiensestraat.

And the Christmas Market wasn’t open either. They were still setting it up. Instead, I went to FNAC but there was nothing there that caught my eye.

christmas decorations grote markt leuven louvain belgiumMoving on, I went on to the Delhaize to buy what I couldn’t carry home yesterday.

My route took me through the Grote Markt where I walked past all of the strange Christmas cabins that they have erected here. They certainly go to town when they tart up the place.

Delhaize came up with what I need, and I now have almost everything that I need, especially as on the market outside was a stall selling Brussels sprouts.

No Christmas meal of any description is complete without Brussels Sprouts.

wilfried craps leuven louvain belgiumAnd so with nothing else to do and nothing else going on, I headed home for lunch.

But not before I took a little diversion onto a car park in the Windmolenstraat to admire a vehicle parked in one of the spaces. I shall leave Strawberry Moose to sum up the situation perfectly.

By the time that I returned it was almost midday so I had a mince pie with my coffee. That’s the official declaration that the Festive season has arrived. Although I don’t really feel festive at all, with a hospital appointment on Christmas Eve.

And being away from home doesn’t help. I do like Leuven, make no mistake, and if I had to be anywhere away from home them Leuven would receive my vote any time. But all the same, it’s not my home.

christmas market monseigneur ladeuzeplein leuven louvain belgiumAfter lunch, I headed back out again.

This time, the Christmas market was open and I had a good stroll around. But there was nothing that interested me. In fact, it didn’t seem to be anything like as good as last year’s when there was an ice rink and all of that.

First stop was to Kruidvat for some of their gluten-free and gelatine-free sweets. And that place was heaving

Next stop was the Sports Shop. I went in for a look around and saw that they had the trousers that I like on special offer again. As one of my pairs was torn and I seemto have left another behind in Canada, I bought two pairs.

But here’s a shock! Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I went to Africa earlier this year. And I had it in my mind to go to the Travel Agent’s – just across the road – to see if there was anything else coming up in the near future that would be exciting.

But SHOCK! HORROR! It’s closed down! That’s no good to me at all and it’s very disappointing.

Another thing that was very disappointing was that the supply of vegan food in the Loving Hut has dwindled almost to nothing. None of my favourite cheese, none of the spray-on vegan cream. Stocks have been running down in there for quite a while and it doesn’t look as if there’s much more to go.

Instead I wandered off to the Bio shop – the Origin’O – across town in the Vismarkt and they did the business. Well, sort-of. They had pouring cream, not spray-on, but they did have some decent cheese and also a slice of vegan walnut-cake. That’ll do me for Christmas Day.

On the way back, walking up the Muntstraat, I came across a restaurant that I hadn’t noticed before. It was advertising vegetarian and allergy-free meals so I stuck my head in to enqure about vegan and gluten-free. And much to my delight, they could indeed cater for us. So I’ll invite Alison there next time I see her.

Back in my little room, and another mince pie, with vegan cream this time. What they call “pushing the boat out”.

Another little relax, and then 18:15 saw me back on the road again.

Idly scanning through Livescore, I noticed that there was a Belgian Premier League match on in St Truiden this eveninf. STVV v KV Kortrijk. I’d seen STVV play in Oostende earlier this year but I’d never been to St Truiden. It’s only three stops down the line from Leuven and the kick-off time corresponded nicely with the trains.

So there I was, at 18:44 leaping aboard the train to Genk.

At 19:15 I was leaping off it in St truiden and decanted myself into the fritkot right outside the station. Being in Belgium, fritjes are always on the menu and eating them while walking down the road to a football match is always a good plan and typically Belgian.

It really WAS a good plan too, because these were some of the most delicious fritjes that I have ever eaten. And they were quite generous too. It took me all the way to Het Staaien to eat them.

het stayen st truiden stvv kv kortrijk football belgiumBut as for the football though … What can I say?

I’ve seen some rubbish in my time but I would have to search deep and long into my memory to see anything quite like this. Apart from the fact that both teams were too slow to move the ball about and wasted numerous chances by taking one touch too many – something that seems to be a modern trait – the quality was dire.

I don’t know what was up with the STVV keeper but he couldn’t kick to save his life and his antics, especially in the first 10 minutes but here and there throughout the match – as he received back-passes from his team was like watching in slow motion an accident waiting to happen.

Both sets of attackers must have suffered from vertigo or have had lead weights in their boots because I only counted two high balls into the penalty area in the whole match. So clueless were they that from one short corner, the player taking the kick somehow managed to kick it out for a throw-in.

We had dozens of misplaced passes, dozens of players falling over the ball and, even worse, dozens of shots from excellent positions blazed hopelessly over the bar.

STVV were roundly booed off the field at the end of the game (and no surprise either) and had there been more than 100 or so fans from Kortrijk, their team would have been booed off the pitch too. 0-0 was how it finished and you aren’t ever going to win a match playing like these two teams did this evening.

I had to wait for a while for the train back – the last train from Genk as it happened. And it was a little rowdy too with a few Kortrijk supporters who had clearly been just a little too close to the barmaid’s apron.

It was quite late by the time I arrived back, so I wasn’t going to hang around. I had some pineapple and ice cream for pudding and then I went to bed. Although it’s a Sunday there’s an alarm set for 06:00. i’m off out early and I’ll be gone all day.

load of boels schepenenstraat leuven louvain belgium
load of boels schepenenstraat leuven louvain belgium

pope leo 13 seminary chapel leuven louvain belgium
pope leo 13 seminary chapel leuven louvain belgium

wilfried craps leuven louvain belgium
wilfried craps leuven louvain belgium

christmas market herbert hooverplein leuven louvain belgium
christmas market herbert hooverplein leuven louvain belgium

christmas market herbert hooverplein leuven louvain belgium
christmas market herbert hooverplein leuven louvain belgium

christmas market herbert hooverplein leuven louvain belgium
christmas market herbert hooverplein leuven louvain belgium

christmas market herbert hooverplein leuven louvain belgium
christmas market herbert hooverplein leuven louvain belgium

christmas market monseigneur ladeuzeplein leuven louvain belgium
christmas market monseigneur ladeuzeplein leuven louvain belgium

het stayen st truiden stvv kv kortrijk football belgium
het stayen st truiden stvv kv kortrijk football belgium

het stayen st truiden stvv kv kortrijk football belgium
het stayen st truiden stvv kv kortrijk football belgium

het stayen st truiden stvv kv kortrijk football belgium
het stayen st truiden stvv kv kortrijk football belgium

Sunday 25th December 2016 – SMAKELIJK!

Having worked to death the Crewe Bus Station toilets “Merry Christmas to all our readers” thing continuously over the past few years, we’ll talk about something else this year.

roast potatoes boiled carrots chicory leeks brussels sprouts onions seitan gravy christmas dinner leuven belgium december decembre 2016Like my Christmas dinner for example. Roast potatoes, boiled potatoes, carrots, chicory, leeks, seitan slices, onions, gravy and, of course, brussels sprouts. No Christmas meal is complete without them of course – properly cooked and not at all into a mush like most people cook them.

And it was absolutely delicious too, even if I had forgotten to add the garlic.

There was supposed to be Christmas pudding and soya custard for afters, but Alison had bought me a vegan chocolate Santa, and so that went down instead, washed down by a can of that alcohol-free raspberry beer.

Last night, we had the party at 05:00 but with my headphones on, I managed to avoid the worst of it. And it only lasted about half an hour anyway before boyfriend was escorted to the door.

And I was on my travels too. In some kind of Dragnet circumstance with two people, nominally police officers, but chauffeurs at where I worked. We had to go somewhere and we were told that we were to avoid a certain street which had now been converted into a dead end. So we set off, with me driving in an early 1950s Ford-type of sedan coloured a duck-egg blue and pale yellow. And sure enough, I missed the turning and ended up just where I’d been told where not to go. With two of us at the front and one at the rear, we picked up the car (which was now shaped like a canoe) and man-handled it through a tone-lined pond onto the main road. There, I pulled a bunch of weeds out of a garden there and was immediately confronted by the owner of the property who hadn’t wanted me to do that.

christmas lights grote markt leuven belgium december decembre 2016And so while you admire the rest of last night’s photographs, I can tell you that I was alone an breakfast, where there was nothing special arranged for the tenants.

And then down here, I unwrapped my Christmas presents.

Alison’s chocolate Santa I’ve already mentioned. But me, I bought myself a new laptop.

christmas lights grote markt leuven belgium december decembre 2016Actually, I bought it last year but what with one thing and another, I hadn’t opened it.

It’s another Acer, but a larger one with a numeric keypad and DVD player, and twice as much RAM as before.

You know that this one is not very good – it’s the slowest machine that I’ve ever used. It’s very lightweight and very economical, but the lack of speed was really getting on my nerves.

christmas lights grote markt leuven belgium december decembre 2016Transferring the files over is taking ages though. Not because it’s taking so much time (although it is) but I’m taking the opportunity to tidy up all of the directories while I’m about it.

It might be finished by tomorrow – who knows – and then I’ll have to start to clean up the storage issues that I have. I can save tons of space if I organise myself properly.

christmas lights grote markt leuven belgium december decembre 2016While I was making my butties at lunchtime (that’s a nice loaf that I have bought) I made the acquaintance of one of my housemates.

She’s a woman from Montreal, the Henri Bourassa area of the city, and so we had quite a lengthy chat (in French) about this and that. It was nice o remind myself of the city, seeing as how I’n not sure if i’ll ever be making it back there.

christmas lights grote markt leuven belgium december decembre 2016This afternoon I carried on with the new laptop and had a nice chat with Liz and her family on the laptop. Strawberry Moose joined in the discussion too, telling Dylan and Robyn how much he was looking forward to meeting up later next year.

And then, I went off to make my delicious tea.

Before I go off to bed for an early night, let me just tell you a little about something that I discovered last night.

Leuven is a really beautiful medieval Flemish city as you have probably seen, but 103 years ago, it was even more beautiful.

All of that changed in August 1914 when the Germans arrived, and in accordance with their policy of “Frightfulness” they set fire to the city centre, even burning the contents of the library that contained many of the oldest books in Europe.

And then in May 1940, they burnt it down again.

Many people, including, unfortunately, some of my acquaintances, criticise the French and the Belgian civilians for what they consider to be a “lack of resolution” in confronting the German Army

Leaving aside the fact that at least they were here, unlike the British Army that ran away across the Channel at Dunkirk, and the lack of resolution shown in the German occupied British territories such as the Channel Islands, where the civilian population sat it out with a German occupying force for 10 months after the War had passed them by, the British civilians never had to confront the issues that the French and Belgian citizens had to confront.

We’ve seen in the past the gravestones of civilians who died during both wars – gravestones marked “shot” or “executed” or “decapitated”. No British or American civilian ever had to confront that kind of treatment.

memorial plaque grote markt leuven belgium december decembre 2016Here in the Grote Markt in Leuven is this plaque with a list of names carved thereupon. 16 names, all civilians who were deliberately killed by the Germans in August 1914 as they were setting fire to the buildings of the Square.

This is the kind of thing that you find all over Belgium and France. Never mind being casual, haphazard victims of a bombing campaign or artillery duel, these civilians were simply purposefully murdered while going about their normal day-to-day duties and was a risk that every citizen in Occupied Europe had to run.

There was no escape.

Anyway, on that note, I’m off to do my washing up and then I’m off to bed. Will I have a good night tonight?

Friday 25th December 2015 – MERRY CHRISTMAS!

I was going to say “Merry Christmas to all my readers” and to refer you to the old tale about Crewe Bus Station – the one that I have recounted before. Every year, in fact, or so it seems, so I’ll give you a rest this year.

Instead, I’ll simply refer you to my nocturnal rambles, such as they were and, more importantly, such as I remember because one thing that I’ve learnt this last evening was that it doesn’t matter whether I do have anything to drink or not during the evening, I still have to leave the comfort of my stinking pit on several occasions, something that breaks up my rhythm of sleep and, more often than not, causes all memory of my nocturnal rambles to disappear.

What I do remember about last night was struggling up Gresty Road past the football ground, dragging two huge suitcases with me. I was heading for a cheap hotel and I knew that there were rooms available at my price range in a dingy hotel down on the east side of Mill Street (in the days before that whole area was wiped away in the slum clearances) but much nearer to where I was going was the Royal Hotel up on Nantwich Road. And while this was a much more expensive hotel, there were a few rooms available at just £20:00 and I’d stayed in one of them once before. So hoping that there was still something of that nature available, in I went. Struggling through the door was one thing, navigating my way through the dining room and all of the false partition walls was another thing entirely. And when I did finally find the reception desk, people kept on pushing in front of me and there I was, worrying that if there were any rooms at £20:00, they would be all long gone by the time that I was seen to.
Somehow we wandered on past there into Nantwich and there I encountered a girl who had lived close to where we lived as kids in Shavington and who went to the same school as me. In real life she was a “big” girl, and I DO mean big, but last night she was a quarter of the size, with different-coloured hair and a very different personality – a completely different girl in fact. But seeing as how I never ever thought for a moment about her at the time, then how come, over 40 years later, she suddenly appeared last night? That’s probably the most bizarre thing about all of this

There was much more to it than that too, but that’s long since gone out of the window.

Anyway, there I was, crawling out of bed some time (but not much) after 07:45 and having my morning injection. Breakfast consisted of speciality bread (I had fig, nut and raisin bread rolls) and a huge home-made fruit salad that was absolutely delicious.

opening presents sauret besserve puy de dome franceNo need for me to tell you what happened next.

With a couple of young kids in the house we had Christmas-present-opening. Father Christmas had been and left piles of presents around the tree. And even Strawberry Moose entered into the festive spirit of events by supplying presents to all of the people present, such a friendly and generous moose that he is.

Everyone had a great time opening their presents and then we stopped for food

We decided that there would not be a big meal as such, but instead we would eat at intervals throughout the day. 12:30 saw us tucking into the starters, which was a kind of running buffet of all kinds of different nibbles. Raw vegetables in France prepared ready for eating are called crudités which is highly appropriate considering that I am here. After all, if you want crudities, then no-one is more qualified than Yours Truly.

There was a great deal of chatting to friends on the laptop too, although I didn’t have much to say to anyone. Most of my friends have their own family lives and Christmas is, after all, a time for families.

We had our main course at about 16:30. A real Christmas dinner with all of the correct veg including roast potatoes, and brussels sprouts cooked to perfection. I had a big slice of nut roast that went down a treat.

Dessert was at 18:30 and, unfortunately, no Christmas pudding. No-one but me likes it around here. Instead, there was a couple of bûches de Noël and for me, a Black Forest gateau, made of home-made vegan chocolate cake and home-made ice cream in a very large coupe and topped off with soya cream.

christmas day full moon sauret besserve puy de dome franceBut one thing that was astonishing this evening was the moon. It’s full moon today, the first time that it’s been full moon on Christmas Day since 1977. And a huge moon that it was too.

Unfortunately, the camera on my mobile ‘phone isn’t up to as much as I would like it to be and so it can’t reproduce the moon as it was, but it’s the best that I can manage.

And so that was Christmas. Nothing much happened from my point of view but that’s not important. In a house with young kids, the most exciting part of it all is watching the delight on their faces as they see what Santa has brought them. That was certainly very much to the fore today. It’s all about kids and all about families, and I can have my own private Christmas another time.

Tuesday 22nd April 2014 – SO WHAT’S HAPPENING …

fire pionsat 22 april 2014 puy de dome france … over there tben? There’s quite a fire burning for some reason or other and I wonder what’s going on.

I couldn’t hear the pompiers or any amulance or anything and so I don’t know how urgent that might be, but it certainly looks most unwelcome.

However, it’s not likely to burn for very long because we’ve had something of a torrential downpour this evening. There’s been the odd shower or two and we had a thunderstorm pass over at about 15:00 but it really meant business this evening.

Still, the first real rain for a couple of weeks and so we can’t complain too much.

The rain is my fault too, for I’ve been out gardening today. And I noticed that the three surviving strawberry plants have flowers now. But that’s by the way.

First job was to plant the Brussels Sprouts that I bought on Saturday. So I gave that bed a good hoeing over first, and carried on to weed a few more as well while I was at it. Then I planted the sprouts, followed by the 12 lettuce that I bought. 6 of them went in between the sprouts, and the other 6 went in between the cabbage that I planted the other week.

After lunch I sowed the new potatoes, and then I turned my attention to the seeds. Seems that I have some lettuce coming up, and there’s signs of life in the leeks too. But still nothing much coming up anywhere else.

Now though, I have some sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower seeds sown, as well as some organo and basli seeds. Tomorrow, though, i’ll need to push on.

At 17:45 I came to a halt as I had to go round to Cécile’s to show some househunters around – that was what I was on my way back from doing when I noticed the fire.

I made another mega-curry tonight. This one is a mushroom and green pepper one, and that will keep me going for a few days too.

Saturday 19th April 2014 – I’VE JUST SEEN …

… one of the best football matches for ages. No football at Pionsat tonight so I went to Marcillat en Combraille who were playing Mercy-Chapeau. An excellent game that finished 3-3 but Mercy can consider themselves robbed of a victory. 2 of AS Marcillat’s goal came from free kicks, one of which I wouldn’t have awarded and the second I would have awarded, but in the other direction.

And I have at last seen a player in the Allier who I would pick for FC Pionsat St Hilaire. Mercy-Chapeau’s n°5, playing at the heart of the defence, was big, quick, intelligent and commaanding and if Pionsat could find a player like him, they wouldn’t have anything like the issues that they are having now.

Apart from that, after breakfast I tidied up in here. Not much, it has to be said, but just a little but at least the table is clean and tidy and I’ve vacuumed the floor round by where I sit. Not with the new vacuum cleaner – I’ve yet to try that out – but with the 12-volt cylinder vacuum cleaner that I found again the other day.

In St Eloy les Mines, I did the shopping and at Carrefour they had 12 lettuce for €2:60 and the brasica was reduced to €3:95 for 10 so I bought some sprouts to go with the cabbage I planted a few weeks ago. They will be in the garden on Tuesday when I restart work.

I noticed today as well that the lettuce seed that I sowed in a tray – there’s signs of life in there as of this afternoon. That looks quite optimistic as I was beginning to think that I’ve been wasting my time with the gardening effort this year. Only the courgettes (and then only some of those) seemed to have done anything.

Thursday 3rd January 2013 – WHAT A LOUSY …

… day

Grey, wet, miserable, depressing

But that’s enough about me – the weather was even worse.

So with almost no solar energy today I didn’t do all that much. When I opened my eye and saw the weather, I closed it again and went back under the duvet.

And if it hadn’t been absolutely necessary to visit the beichstuhl I’d probably be there now. 

After breakfast and working on the website for a while I started on the floor in the shower room. But I wasn’t there as long as I might have been, and for a very simple reason too.

I will swear blind that I bought 5 packets of tongue-and-grooved flooring planks, but I’ve only been able to manage to find four – there’s one missing somewhere. And the result of that is that I ran out of floor with two planks to go.


So that means a trip to Montlucon and Brico Depot on Saturday, doesn’t it? I’m never going to finish this blasted flooring seeing as how all of the fates are conspiring against me.

To pass the rest of the time I started to sort out the firewood in the lean-to in order to make more space.

I could have cut it up as well but I have to do that outside and with it pouring down with rain it wasn’t much of a good plan. But there’s progress all the same.

This evening I had another meal the same as last night and it worked just as well, if not better.

Having a rip-roaring blaze at the beginning is definitely the key to cooking with the wood stove. It heats the oven up quicker and that cooks the potatoes better.

Basically, 2 hours for the spuds, 60 minutes for the sprouts and 90 minutes for the rest of the veg. The veggie-burger takes about 20 minutes or so.

I had a few phone calls too. Cécile called me twice and spoke to me for hours. She’s giving a dinner party tomorrow night and wants to know if I can help her tomorrow afternoon to prepare.

Seeing as I don’t have the wood to finish the floor, that seems like a good plan.

Marianne also rang up for a long chat and to tell me about her adventures at Riom hunting down old historical documents. One of these days when I’m not busy, whenever that might be, I’ll have to go with her.

As for me, this afternoon I telephoned the hospital at Montlucon to enquire about Bill.

The receptionist wasn’t all that forthcoming. After much verbal fencing, she expressed an interest in knowing who I was, and so I explained that I was neither family nor close friend but just an everyday run-of-the-mill friend of no particular significance.

She then said that she couldn’t give me any more information, but would I care to leave my phone number so that she can pass it on the Bill’s daughter – his next of kin

I don’t like the sound of that one little bit

Wednesday 2nd January 2013 – IT WAS BACK …

… to work today.

First time since I’m not sure when.

However, first task was to start on the web page for my visit to Lévis (that’s pronounced “Layvee”, not “Levi’s”) which is across the St Lawrence from the city of Québec. That was a brief excursion on a ferry across the St Lawrence in the middle of the afternoon during my walk around Québec.

It’s usually a bad sign for me to encounter a ferry and I’m never in a good humour, because every time I see a ferry, it always makes me cross.

Once that was out of the way I had a marathon wood-chopping session. I’ve used up a pile of wood over the last couple of weeks and so it needed to be replaced.

That took quite a while and created a nice pile of sawdust for the composting toilet.

It’s also made a nice little space in the lean-to and I’m hoping that I can crack on with that idea. I’d love to have enough space in there for my little workshop by the end of winter

Finally, I carried on with the floor in the shower room, and I’ve worked out why there’s a problem with the floor levels. It seems that with the wisdom that only Brico Depot can conjure up, the grooves are off-centre.

Now that wouldn’t particularly matter if the off-centre was consistent on each plank but in fact, while a pack might be consistent, the batch isn’t.

And that’s just plain ridiculous because there’s a planed side and a rough side, so you can’t even turn the planks over in order to even out the centres.

For tea this evening I tried a little experiment.

As well as starting off the baked potatoes in the oven, I chopped up a few sprouts and carrots, put them in a pyrex dish with some water and put them in the oven too.

Add a veggie burger and onions and garlic in a baking tray and use some of the veg water to make a gravy and I had a magnificent evening meal. Just like a king, in fact.

A wise move indeed, buying this little stove as I have said so many times before.

And setting up a little kitchen in a corner here, that’s working too.

Tuesday 25th December 2012 – THE FIRST NOEL…

… the Angels did say was at about blasted 07:45 this flaming morning.

That’s because despite it being a Bank Holiday and accordingly a Day of Rest, where nothing ever moves before perishing midday, Brain of Britain here forgot to switch off his sodding alarm clock, didn’t he?

Still, the early start gave me plenty of time to relax and open my presents.

Lots of DVDs, CDs, books and computer stuff. All a man could desire – except for Kate Bush and Jenny Agutter of course, but you can’t have everything.

And once breakfast was out of the way I sat down for the start of my marathon DVD session.

Lunch was the typical Christmas Day lunch – nibbling on bits and pieces, and then having had a suitable repose, I prepared the veg for the evening meal.

Boiled potatoes, roast potatoes, carrots, endives and sprouts – all cooked in the steamer.

Cécile came round in the late afternoon, just in time for Carry on Don’t Lose Your Head.

Not my favourite Carry-On film but one that she would understand, with lots of visual humour. High time, given the state of globalisation in the world today, that I started spreading around the spirit of Carry On humour.

So a few more films, a Christmas meal (the aforementioned plus seitan slices in onion gravy, Christmas pudding and vegan cream followed by coffee and Christmas cake), and a good chat, she went home and I went to bed.

Saturday 22nd December 2012 – I’m still here today too.

Although, given the weather, I wouldn’t have minded in the least if the world had come to an end. I can’t remember if this is the 9th or 10th consecutive day of rain but nevertheless, it’s still been very wet and once more, the four banks of solar panels haven’t received any electricity worth talking about. It’s not just the weather that’s in a depression.

I made it out today – into St Eloy-les-Mines and a quick thrash around the shops. Most importantly, I have my brussels sprouts and endives for Christmas Day now. That’s vitally important of course. They well go nicely with my roast spuds, seitan slices, stuffing and onion gravy for Christmas Dinner. That’s if I get any Christmas Dinner – the fire is playing up right now. It’s not burning, just sitting there smouldering and blowing clouds of smoke back into the room. I’ll have to look at the pipework to see whether a mouse has hibernated in the chimney.

One thing that I did do today though was to go to the launderette. There was a load of washing here and waiting for fine weather and hot water will be like waiting for Godot I imagine. There will be more chance of meeting him here right now. So a huge pile of it went into a machine and now it’s all clean.

That means clean bedding tonight and seeing as how I had a good strip-down wash this afternoon, a clean me too. Yes, a strip-down wash. If anyone thinks that I’m standing outside taking a shower in this weather they are mistaken.

Monday 2nd July 2012 – What do you think …

creeping plant growing up kwikstage scaffolding puy de dome france… about my nice environmentally-friendly scaffolding? I’ve no idea what that plant is that has decided to grow up it, but it has heart-shaped leaves and small green berries and it’s growing like crazy.

Yes, you’ll notice that I’ve lowered the scaffolding. The roof is finished and, seeing as how I finished the rendering off around the front this afternoon, I’ve started to paint the woodwork with the LIDL wood treatment. That means that I have to lower the scaffolding. I’m only doing the outside now – the inside can wait until the weather is bad.

Once the woodwork is painted, then I need to paint the rendering off around the front of the lean-to so that it matches the house. For that, I need to move a pile of stuff that’s around the front, although I’ve not worked out where I’m going to put it yet. Still, It’ll All Work Out in Boomland, so they say.

Once all that is done, then I can start on my secret project, to put Krys out of her misery, or else I can carry on rebuilding the wall that you can see in the photo and then put the guttering on. Probably guttering is a good idea as Thursday I’m hoping to have the water butts for there. That’ll mean that Krys will still be in suspense for another couple of weeks.

So that was this afternoon. This morning I was on the website again, and then I was outside in the garden. Apart from tbe usual weeding, I planted another row of carrots and some more beetroot and then spent a pleasant hour thinning the cabbage and cauliflower. The sprouts need thinning too but I’m not sure where to put the ones that I pull out.

But this is all progress, isn’t it? I’ve never ever reached the thinning stage with the brassica. Usually this time of year I’m hunting for the survivors but there aren’t half some impressive plants – and all grown from seed too. 

Monday 23rd April 2012 – I’m blogging early tonight

And for two reasons too. Firstly, seeing as how this is my last night here for a while, I’m going to have an early one. And secondly, I had tea early. And that was because I was round at Bill’s for a while setting him up as he is going to be doing the communication for the Anglo-Français Group while I’m not here, and by the time I was back from Bill’s it wasn’t worth coming up here to relax for half an hour.

Tea was nice as well – I used up all of the leftovers. So it was two large spuds, an onion, some garlic, some mixed veg and some mushrooms. And while the spuds were boiling, the rest was frying and then it was all fried together and covered with mixed gravy and spices. and I’ll eat that again.

While I’m away, Liz says that she will keep an eye on the garden once or twice in exchange for the thinnings, and so I thought that I had better do a map of the garden so that she will know where everything is, now that it’s all finished.

There’s just one empty bed and that’s for the leeks that are hopefully growing in a seed tray. Mind you, the leeks that I planted in the open soil have taken, and they are coming up now.

In fact some of the stuff is doing really well while the rest is taking its time, although I seem to remember that this is what always happens.

Anyway, I sowed some more carrots, parsnips, sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, spinach and beetroot, and that will be my lot. When I come back, I’ll just have to see what didn’t take and plant some of that. And the chicory in the new potato bed and that will be it apart from weeding.

I raked and hoed the two cloches today and in the small one I planted (in their pots) all of the shrubs and bushes, so that they will be ready for when I come back.

Apart from that I’ve been doing stuff off my list today. As well as the water heater the dump load will be powering 250 watts of light – 5×50 watt bulbs. This is useful because I have the potential to charge up about 700 watts on the dump load circuit and there’s already a 500-watt water heater element there. So the lights will help to complete the load. and 5 bulbs means that if one blows, then it won’t be too much of a problem. Light bulbs and water heater elements are good because the will take a graduated load – it’s not all “on and off” like, say, an electrical appliance might be and so which would not be satisfactory for this.

I’m nothing like ready really – I can’t find the spare camera battery or the charger that I take on voyages with me, and lots of other stuff. But it’s too late now. I have my tickets, passport, money, camera, dictaphone and Moose, and when I’ve recorded my rock music programme tomorrow I shall go with what I’ve got and that will be that.

Friday 13th April 2012 – I can’t remember now …

… what it was that I did this morning. One thing that I do remember however was sleeping through the alarm clocks and waking up at 09:35, and it’s been a long time since that happened.

I did spend some time on my web site again and did some more work, but round about 11:30 I must have been distracted because I’m having one of these mental blanks.

After lunch however, the interesting stuff. I phoned up my travel agents in Belgium and told them of my holiday plans. I was on the phone for about an hour because what I’m trying to do is not easy and neither is it straightforward. The net result of it all is that they have all of the details and they’ll work something out and call me back tomorrow. Or at least I hope that they will.

After that I went outside and dug over one of the beds that I’ll be using for root vegetables. and that wasn’t straightforward either. I put a plank across the beds to stand on while I dig the beds over, but this plank broke one of the sides of the bed. That caused a halt while I went to search for a suitable plank to cut down to size to remake the bed.

But anyway, that bed is dug over and properly hoed, and I’ve put two rows of carrot seeds and one row of beetroot seeds in, in order to see what happens. I don’t have any parsnip seeds, which is a surprise. What is also a surprise is that there seems to be tons of tiny plants in the bed, which look just like seeds that have germinated quite recently. And they look too focused to be weeds. I’m trying to think what they might be. It was brassica that was in there last year – did something run to seed maybe? Anyway, I’ve pulled most of them out but I’ve also left some of them in so that I can work out what it might have been. I’ll probably come home to a bed full of dandelions or something.

I checked over a few other beds too. The new potatoes are stirring now and so are the garlic bulbs. The peas too are looking as if they might be doing things but the beans are as yet quite quiet. Pride of place though must go to the brassica – the sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower. Those seeds were planted about three weeks ago, thoroughly watered and left under a black plastic sheet to keep the moisture in place and to heat up the soil. The result of this is that they seem to have gone berserk and there is brassica everywhere in the rows that I sowed. It obviously suites them under there.

Anyway, Liz will be coming to pick the strawberries while I am away. I’ve told her to help herself to brassica too. The rows will need thinning and so the thinnings may as well go into her garden.

Anyone else want any brassica?

Thursday 29th March 2012 – IT’S "NEW TOY" TIME AGAIN.

akai 12 volt DC DVD player television les guis virlet puy de dome franceI told you the other day that I had ordered a new DVD player – an AKAI 12-volt television, 16″ screen, with built-in DVD player.

Anyway, it turned up this morning.

First thing that I did was to cut off the cigarette lighter plug (I hate these) from the 12-volt connector lead, wired a fuseholder into the lead and then wired it up to an American plug.

Regular readers of thie rubbish will remember, but for the benefit of newer readers, I have a 12-volt electrical circuit running around the house, using American plugs and sockets.

I use them for the simple reason that they take heavier cable and I use 6mm cable for the circuit – the bigger the better to avoid voltage drop.

Anyway, the cable works and so does the DVD player. It even played one of the DVDs that wouldn’t work on the old in-car DVD, and the sound quality is exceptional.

I’m really pleased with it.

Only downside is the remote control. The keys are moulded plastic with the symbols moulded in., the same colour (light grey) as the keys. And so it’s really difficult to tell which key that you need to press, especially in the dim light.

But that’s a minor point.

Apart from that, then besides another couple of hours on the computer, I was outside in the garden for much of the day.

Another bed has been dug over and the remainder of the onion sets were planted and a few lines of leeks were sown.

After that I did a little hoeing and planted the beans that I had soaking, some cabbage, sprouts and cauliflower seeds.

I’ve also planted all of the raspberry plants that Liz kindly gave me in exchange for the lettuce from the other week.

All in all, it’s been another busy day today.

Wednesday 21st March 2012 – I WAS GARDENING …

… this afternoon

High time I had another session in the garden now that spring has sprung and the grass is riz.

And having been meithered by the guy at the football, who chats to me quite a lot about gardening and who has been telling me for about four weeks to plant my peas, I put the first row of them in this afternoon.

That involved digging over one of the plots that had spuds in last year and pulling out the weeds that had grown since I did it a week or 10 days ago, hoeing it to break up the lumps of clay, raking it over, adding some wood ash and hoeing that well in, and then putting in the first row of seeds.

I bought a new packet this year because with all of the seeds from last year being out in the lean-to at -16°C and even colder over the winter, I’m not sure how they might have survived.

Anyway, I put a new seed and a last-year’s seed in the same seed hole to make sure that something might happen. I can always pull up any excess.

I’ve put one of my black bin-liner covers over the raised bed – to keep any frost out and to attract the heat of the sun. When I go for row 2 in a fortnight’s time, I can check on the germination of the peas that I did today.

After that, I dug one of the raised beds that had had the peas and beans in last year. That was pretty much overgrown and it took some clearing. It looks quite good now.

But I’ll do it again tomorrow before I attack the bed next to it. It’s in these two beds that the brassica – cabbage, cauliflower and sprouts – will be planted this year. Some of that can go in now and so I’ll do a couple of rows tomorrow.

Normally I would plant these seeds in small pots and let them grow in there but that’s very time-consuming and I’m struggling for time. I’ll just go for planting right from the beginning in the raised beds and let them take their chance.

I’ve also been clearing up around those raised beds – piles of thistles, brambles and nettles underneath the old grey Ford Cortina and so I raked them out as well as much as I could. Now I’m back with the tingling hands again.

I really must wear gloves when i’m ripping up nettles.

So that was this afternoon. This morning I had a pile of stuff to do on the computer but what with winding down after my efforts of the last few days I didn’t do very much. I really need to get weaving as the stuff is piling up.

And talking about the efforts of the last few days, I had a letter from the Post Office at Pionsat. It was the receipt for the sending of my paperwork yesterday.

And they did indeed manage to send it off in time if the datestamp is anything to go by. But not that it will do much good with some of the important stuff missing.


Sunday 25th December 2011 – A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS …

… to all my readers.

I didn’t get that line from a Christmas Cracker or from an Annual, but from off the back of the door of the Public Lavatory on Crewe Bus Station. That was a good source of reading material for a spotty young teenager and I certainly learned a good deal about anatomy there.

In fact, I reckon that it was thanks to there that I passed my Biology ‘O’ Level with the best result I ever had.

This morning we had a lie-in and so it was about 10:00 when we finally struggled into the kitchen. Breakfast was flapjacks made with flour, soya milk and a little sugar, and then we went to the church at the Abbaye de la Cambre.

I have issues with churches, though.

Someone once tried to drown me in a church, and the next time I went there someone stuck this woman in my hand. I swore that they next time anyone of my acquaintance went to a church it would be over my dead body.

All in all, I’m surprised that I wasn’t struck down by a thunderbolt

I made Christmas dinner as well. We had seitan slices in onions and gravy, boiled and roast potatoes, sprouts (well, we ARE in Brussels) and mixed vegetables, followed by Christmas pudding and custard.

And even though I say it myself, it all tasted very nice.

This afternoon though, we listened to our Christmas Radio Programme on Radio Arverne, watched “Dr No” and that was that really – just chilled out.

But tomorrow we are starting work in earnest. after all, that’s why I’m here.