Tag Archives: bus

Saturday 15th August 2020 – I’VE DONE SOMETHING …

… today that I haven’t done since 2005. And this time even more so because while back then it cost me nothing, this time it’s cost me a lot of money.

But ask me if I care.

What I’ve done is to walk away from a hotel that I had booked for tonight and went somewhere else (far more expensive).

But more of this later. Last night I had a strange sleep – waking up at about 00:45 to find that the radio was playing. And then sleeping through until about 05:45 without moving. Not a single nocturnal voyage anyqhere to be seen

Plenty of time to do a load of paperwork and then I went down to breakfast. Unfortunately I wasn’t feeling too well so I didn’t eat much which was a shame because there was tons of stuff there. It could have been an outstanding breakfast.

Unfortunately Jackie wasn’t available but Alison was free today as well as tomorrow so we agreed to meet up this afternoon.

Dodging the roadworks and the heavy showers, I set off for Leuven.

Friterie Marsupilami Route de Marche, 6600 Bastogne, Belgium eric hallThe Lady Who Lives In The SatNav brought me all the way through Luxembourg, where I fuelled up before crossing the Belgian border (fuel at €0:97/litre) and the Ardennes, passing through the town of Bastogne where I stopped to take a photo of another abandoned bus

It’s an old “bendy bus”, one of the articulated buses and judging by its number plate it comes from the town of Rotenburg in Lower Saxony but it’s now the Friterie Marsupilami, the FritKot on the Edge of Town.

There’s a fritkot on almost every corner in Belgium and this is certainly one of the more interesting ones. It’s closed though so I couldn’t find out what it was like.

It took me a good while to find Alison’s house – The Lady Who Lives In The SatNav having brought me into town in entirely the wrong direction. It was a nice afternon so we went to the English shop for a supplies such as vegan ice cream.

herons Kasteel van Leefdaal belgium eric hallLater on we went for a walk. We discovered a new footpath that eventually took us past the Kasteel van Leefdaal.

Here we could admire the wildlife swimming on one of the many ponds – mostly man-made ponds – around there

Not that I would want to go swimming on a pond like that. There’s that much algae floating aound on top that you could probably walk on it – or, at least, someone lighter than me could. I must keep on with the battle to keep my weight down.

swans Kasteel van Leefdaal belgium eric hallThe Chateau isn’t open to the public unfortunately and it’s hidden behind a rather large wall so you can’t actually see very much of it.

Currently owned by the Counts of Liedekerke it dates from the Renaissance period and replaced a previous building. There is known to have been a building on the site since at least the 12th Century.

Armed with our vegan ice cream, we then went back to Alison’s house for a chat. We must be both getting old because we ended up crashing out in the garden in the sun, something that we found quite amusing, although in fact it was a rather sad indictment of our states of health these days.

Alison had to go out later so I set off through one of the most wicked rainstorms that I have ever encountered. All of the road round by Braine l’Alleud was flooded and the traffic lights at a road junction had failed. That led to certain complications until we all managed to sort ourselves out.

strawberry moose silly belgium eric hallAs well as having A FAVOURITE TOWN IN AUSTRIA Strawberry Moose also has a favourite town in Belgium.

It goes without saying that as we were passing within a mile or two of the place, we had to go there. His Nibs is never one to pass up on a photo opportunity whenever he gets the chance, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall.

Having done that, we headed off down to peruwelz on the Belgian – French border and my hotel. But one look at it convinced me that this was not where I wanted to stay. Crowds of single men loitering outside, sitting on the steps or leaning against the wall. Crowds of them.

It’s the kind pf place that gave me a most uneasy, eerie feeling that I can’t explain. But always having been one to rely on my own intuition, I decided that it wasn’t the place for me so I went elsewhere.

Tea tonight was a plate of chips and a salad, and watching the people coming into the fritkot, I can see immediately why the infection rate in Belgium is so high. Despite all of the precautions that are supposed to be taken, the wearing of masks is, shall we say, rather casual.

And the roads in Belgium are appalling. They are much worse that I ever remembered them. They are just like in a third-world country and for one of the richest countries in the world, it’s an embarrassment.

Tomorrow I won’t have far to go on Belgian roads because I’m close to the frontier here. About a kilometre away, I reckon.

With any luck I’ll be over the border early tomorrow and then a leisurely drive home. It might take a couple of days to make it but I’ll be back by the middle of the week. It’s been a long time

Sunday 6th May 2018 – THIS ISN’T GOING …

… to work out very well either.

Toddled off in the heat down to the station this evening to enquire about the trains, only to be told “you need to come back tomorrow evening. We’ll only know the night before”
“So why did your colleague tell me to come back this evening then?”
“I dunno”.
And so the discussion went on.

In the end, the guy at the ticket office at the station made me aware that there was a bus from Avranches to Lille every day at lunchtime. He gave me the details and cancelled my outward journey. So that’s at least something.

Sure enough, there’s a bus at 12:04 on Tuesday lunchtime, and to Lille it’s only €39:99. Takes all day of course, but it’s better than nothing.

Now to check up on the local buses. Ahh yes – a bus at 10:05 – gets to Avranches at 10:57. That sounds ideal to me. An hour to have a coffee and to compose myself (rather than Beethoven, who spent 60 years composing and 400 years decomposing).

but wait a minute. “Does not run on school holiday dates” – and Tuesday in France is a Bank Holiday isn’t it?

At the limit I could go to Avranches in Caliburn, but then he would be stranded down there until I could go to fetch him back, whenever that might be.

Yes, this is not turning out too well right now is it?

Last night, I was in bed at a fairly respectable time, where I stayed until about 09:00 this morning.

I’d been on my travels though, being my usual obnoxious annoying self, and so a car came to pick me up – something to do with Hearts Football Club I believe. The driver invited me to go for a drive with him and we ended up at the local prison. The chief warden met me there and gave me a conducted tour of the premises, showing me all of the dark recesses and crooks and nannies of the place. We arrived at the communal area where some women, inmates I reckon, were washing the floor. He showed me where the buckets were, showed me where the hot water was, the soap and a mop, and invited me to help clean the floor. I was concerned about walking over the area where the women had already cleaned, but they told me to clean the chute in the wall where the cats come in. It seems that a pile of cats come in at night to keep the inmates company. “At least there’s some good news” I thought. I had to move a bed to get to this chute – a three-tier bunk bed with cheap, thin horrible mattresses, and with a young woman dressed very poorly in a sweater and yellowy-brown slacks sitting on the top. And behind the bed was the most indescribable filth and less. Clearly these women were only cleaning what they could see, and no-one cared about the rest.

After breakfast I vegetated around for quite a while without doing too much (it IS Sunday after all) and then just for a change I had some lunch. Afterwards, I tidied up a huge pile of the backlog of e-mails and, would you believe, found an e-mail from Plenty’s dad asking for copies of the photographs of his lorries that we saw parked up here back in March.

We then had the Welsh Cup Final where Connah’s Quay Nomads saw off Aberystwyth Town without too much effort, although it could well have been a different story had the far-side linesman’s guide-dog been paying proper attention.

From there, I went for my walk to the station and then back here where I made another pizza. The pizza base that I bought yesterday was a dsiaster by the way. Stuck to the greaseproof paper and wouldn’t come off. And when it did it went just about everywhere except where it was supposed to.

And then another walk this evening. And the camera lens, about which I have moaned on a regular basis, has now completely given up the ghost. I’ll be sending it back when I return from Belgium.

Final word is that I seem to be being attacked by ants. There’s a pile of them that have somehow found their way in here. Now I need to find them a way out.

Tuesday 29th August 2017 – AND SO …

… having had a reasonable night’s sleep last night, it took the alarm to summon me out of my stinking pit this morning.

But I’d been on my travels last night too. There had been a court case and this big gorilla of a man had been found guilty of several violent offences and sent to gaol. He was accompanied from the van by a policeman and a policewoman, neither of whom could be called “powerful” by any means and the inevitable happened – that he broke away from them. We then had this stand-off in that he couldn’t run away but they couldn’t lay hold on him and they were dancing around this car park for quite a while.
A little later I was in my house and I had visitors. Someone knocked something through the window (we were only 6 floors up) and I asked what it was. “A stuffed toy thing” was the answer. When I went down to let them out I picked up the stuffed toy – a stuffed cat as it happens – and began to stroke it, and it transformed into a real kitten. I went for a walk around the town, which was similar to the “old town” of Granville, all the time stroking this animal that I had against my shoulder. Under the archway where people were passing, they suddenly closed it off and a group of schoolchildren led by a teacher came there. He was giving them a talk about the history of the place but they were all distracted by me and my cat.

bay of fundy saint john new brunswick canada aout august 2017As it grew light, I nipped out to Strider to pick up some stuff and there dieseling down the Bay of Fundy in the distance was a nice big ship.

Saint John is quite an important port, not just for bulk carriers and containers, but also for oil tankers due to the presence of the huge Irvings oil refinery on the edge of town.

I was quite optimistic that we might have a good ship-spotting morning here today as I went on my errands.

And I wasn’t wrong either.

msc kim bay of fundy saint john new brunswick canada aout august 2017Heading into town and down the big bank, I noticed a huge MSC container ship in the harbour.

This is the MSC Kim, all 41,000 tonnes of her. Built in 2008, she’s 265 metres long and 32 metres wide. She’s come in from a tour around the Gulf of Mexico, last stop being New York.

Her claim to fame is that when she was unloading in Antwerp a couple of years ago after a trip from Ecuador, Belgian police discovered almost half a tonne of cocaine in her cargo.

bay of fundy london bus double deck saint john new brunswick canada aout august 2017But this was far from being the only excitement here on the docks.

While the Silly Brits are busy selling off their heritage in order to raise cash to pay off the massive debt that the country has, other countries are happily snapping up the bargains.

Here on the quayside recently unloaded is a fleet of AEC double-deck buses to add to the ones that we have seen parading around the streets of Montreal.

Won’t be long before the Brits have nothing left to sell, and then the fun will begin.

bay of fundy railway locomotives saint john new brunswick canada aout august 2017And that’s not all either.

The way that the Canadian government works, railways are a thing of the past in the country. Seeing a Canadian train is a rare event.

And so no-one was happier than I was to catch a train of three locomotives, two power cars and a partridge in a pear tree go clanking through the port pulling a load of oil tankers

From there, I went off to pay the insurance for Strider. And here we had some bad news – and some worse news.

It seems that I’m not entitled to a No-Claims Discount, having a foreign driving licence. That’s pretty miserable.

And secondly, there has been a substantial (and I do mean substantial) hike in insurance premiums over the last 12 months.

I bought Strider because it worked out cheaper than hiring a car for two months – and it still is, but the gap is narrowing rapidly again. I need to think of another plan.

Licking my wounds I went off to Service New Brunswick to join the massive queue for the new licence tags. Luckily they haven’t increased in price – that’s the only consolation that I can offer.

The insurance company offices are close to the Irvings refinery and I’d seen a tanker unloading there.

palanca luanda bay of fundy saint john new brunswick canada aout august 2017And so off i trotted to find a suitable vantage point to take a pic of her.

She’s the Palanca Luanda from the Marshall Islands where they have more ships than people (due to the 3% Corporation Tax rate). 11,000 tonnes and built as recently as 2012.

She’s come in from a trip down to Baltimore and Wilmington.

Having had a dismal morning I wandered off.

I stopped for lunch at a petrol station on the way to Moncton. In the gorgeous sunshine and warm weather I had a little snooze too, and then fuelled up.

Strider’s fuel consumption has improved a little, which is good news, but only to be expected after he’s had his overdrive fixed, but not enough for me to ever recover the money that it cost me.

But then, off to Moncton.

Missing my turning into the Value Village car park so turning round in the Costco car park up the hill and not being able to find the (only) exit, which then decanted me back the wrong way and I had to turn round again.

But at least I had some luck. A tin opener, a knife, fork and spoon, a proper pyrex microwave bowl and a couple of books.

But nothing at the Salvation Army shop, nothing at Home Depot and I didn’t even bother with Princess Autos.

bay of fundy memramcook new brunswick canada aout august 2017I was back on the road – the old road out of town across the Tantramar Marshes.

On the outskirts of Memramcook I found this beautiful girder road bridge, so I stopped for a photograph.

There’s a vestige of the extant Canadian railway network behind it too – the line from Halifax to Montreal which runs passenger trains a couple of times per week.

And here we have a calamity.

The motel where I had chosen to stop – it’s now private flats and apartments. Two others were closed down, one in Sackville wanted me to buy the building, not stay for the night (I didn’t pay that much in Labrador!).

So I moved on to Amherst.

The cheapest place was fully-booked, and the only rooms on the town were, well, even worse than in Sackville.

But then this is what I have a mobile internet connection for.

A room was available at a slightly less ridiculous price at Pictou – only 90 minutesdrive down the Trans-Canada Highway. But at least it’s in the right direction so equipping the ship for silent running, off I set.

90 minutes later, I was there or thereabouts. But the motel wasn’t where the satnav said that it was. And so I spent another half an hour doing some detective work and I eventually arrived there, beaten, bedraggled and bewildered.

And I know now why the room was free. A genuine 1950s design, with furniture, decor and musty smell to match. Had I not been thoroughly exhausted, I would have walked away.

But at least we had a microwave so once I’d figured out how to use it, I could cook some of the pasta meal that Rachel had prepared for me.

And grateful I was too.

Saturday 12th August 2017 – THE LAST TIME …

… that I had to be up and about for a train, I remember saying something about the internal alarm clock. And so itwas this morning.

With the alarm set for 06:00, I was wide awake at … errr … 04:27.

Of course it goes without saying that I … errr … rested until the 06:00 alarm went off. And by 07:00 I was sitting down having had breakfast, cleaned the bathroom and toilet and tipped bleach everywhere (I’d washed the floor last night before going to bed).

Not only that, I’d taken all of the rubbish to the collection point and washed the wastebins too.

The bus was on time more or less and it was all pretty painless. But Brain of Britain has struck again – battery in the camera is flat. So no picture of the train this morning. I wasn’t going to use the phone camera, seeing as we are now in the middle of a torrential downpour. Flaming August, hey?

The train is only as far as Versailles – the Versailles Chantiers railway station. There’s a lot of perturbation on the Paris railway network with the construction of this new metro line so we are having to take the bus.

It took its time too getting to the Vaugirard railway station and then I had to fight my way through the metro.

We started off as we meant to go on, with the new suitcase being jammed in the turnstile and I had to appeal for help from the staff.

But the new suitcase proved its worth – being quite easy to pull along, unlike the previous one. And it’s a much more convenient shape too for passing through the crowds.

But there was a curious incident at Paris Gare du Nord.

Some young guy stopped me to ask me the way to the metro. And a minute or so later, as I was fighting my way through the exit turnstile, my bumbag became disconnected and fell to the floor.

Was someone trying to disconnect it in the crush? I couldn’t see how because they couldn’t have got away, but it was weird all he same.

The TGV was packed to the gunwhales and it shot along at a fair old pace into Brussels. I was soon installed in my hotel – the Midi-Zuid where I stayed with Hannah back in March.

Having fought of waves of sleep on the TGV, I wasn’t so successful here and was out for about an hour. And when I awoke, it was with a severe attack of cramp – so severe that I can still feel the pain in my calf even now.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I suffered terribly from cramps in the leg but apart from a brief one about a week or 10 days ago, I’ve not had one for months and months. But this one was the daddy of them all.

foire du midi belgium aout august 2017I went out a little later for some food, but as luck would have it, I ran straight into the Foire du Midi.

It’s that tile of the year again when the whole of the central reservation of the big boulevard around the city centre in the area by the Gare du Midi is transformed into a giant funfair.

Hordes of people and all kinds of events taking place here.

foire du midi belgium aout august 2017I fought my way through the crowds to find something to eat – and that wasn’t easy because I found myself in the wrong street – I’m definitely losing my touch.

But having satiated my appetite I went back to watch the entertainment for a while. It’s all good fun and you could hear the screams from across town.

It would certainly put me off my chips being up there with them.

So now it’s an early night and prepare myself for the fray tomorrow. I’m meeting Alison and we’re going for a walk around the market. That should be fun.

Sunday 4th June 2017 – IT’S SUNDAY!

And so I had a lie in – until all of 08:05! Will this luxury and indolence ever end?

Mind you, I nearly didn’t because I was on my travels again last night – quite early too, and it was such a nightmare that I sat up bolt-upright and couldn’t go to sleep for ages afterwards.

It concerned a young man who had a harem, if that’s the word, of women aged from about 15 to their 20s. Five of them, there were. And he treated them cruelly – a real sadist who used to do things like connect them up to electric currents and all of that kind of thing. Totally horrendous stuff. I didn’t know why they stuck it but they did, for reasons known only to themselves. But it was decided after a while to raid this place, free these women and do something about the young man in charge. And so we did. We forced our way into the property and managed to secure these five women. But the man was nowhere to be seen. We questioned these women intently about it and eventually the younger one cracked and said that he was in the back room with “the woman he took from the car”. It seemed that a woman aged about 25 had been abducted a few days ago. Now we knew where she was. We had to smash down the door into this back room and when we did, we saw that it was like some kind of gruesome operating theatre. I knew, even in my dream, exactly what I was going to see and I did see it too. And if I were to describe it to you it would put you off your tea for a week.
Ironically, as this dream progressed, it was very much like déjà-vu. I knew in my dream exactly what the next steps were going to be as if my subconscious had dreamt it before and knew in my dream that I had dreamt it before (if that makes any sense).

It shocked me to my senses – such as they are – for a while anyway.

After breakfast I strolled down to the magasin de presse for my baguette and then spent the rest of the morning working on upgrading the blog. That’s coming along nicely now.

At lunchtime I took my butties and my book and went to sit on the wall overlooking the harbour for a while in the sunshine; And beautiful it was too. When I felt the urge I went for a walk around to see if I could find the bus stop for the local bus that passes near here, and sure enough, there it is. It’s not as convenient as it might be, with this block of buildings situated right in between two stops. So either way, I have a 5-minute walk with my big suitcase. Still, it’s much more accessible than the Auvergne where going anywhere involves native bearers, three months supplies and a couple of hunting parties.

This afternoon I didn’t do a lot and ended up speaking for hours on the phone to Ingrid. It’s nice to hear her dulcet tones again.

And as I type this, I can smell the smell of the pizza cooking in the oven and it’s overwhelmingly delicious. It will be a good tea tonight.

And tomorrow I’ll be going on a major expedition myself into town. I’ll have to rest up properly this evening.

Friday 26th May 2017 – HOW LONG IS IT …

… since we featured a proper “Ship of the Day” on these pages?

When I was in Montreal or somewhere down the St Lawrence we could take our pick of dozens each day, but it’s usually pretty thin pickings whenever we are elsewhere.

victress port de granville harbour manche normandy franceBut not today though, because today our ship really has come in.

It’s another really high tide this week and it’s brought in the Victress, who has sailed in from Southampton to pick up a load of gravel. Built in 1992, she flies the flag of Barbados and displaces about 1500 tonnes.

Not the biggest ship we’ve seen, but the biggest that we’ve seen in recent times and the biggest that we are likely to see here in Granville. She’s not there now, though – the ground’s all flat. And she’s somewhere out in the Channel so it seems. And I’ve not been able to find out where she’s heading.

She was formerly known as Uranus but this was changed due to ribald remarks from captains of other ships – something along the line of “with my binoculars I can see Uranus from here”

After breakfast this morning I had a quick shower and shave and change of clothes and hit the streets in search of the bus stop. Of course I have a choice of two, and of course it was “the other one” but just €1:00 and pretty painlessly (and I’ll do this again) I was decanted at the top of town to rescue Caliburn. He’s had his service, and the strange noise seems to have gone, and he’s had his controle technique. That gives me two years motoring without any major worries, which is always a bonus.

And on the way back, I picked up my oven. That’s now installed and working – and I had to change round my kitchen a little to fit it on the shelves and things don’t fit as well as they did before, which is a shame. But tomorrow I’ll be tracking down a pizza tray, some bread-making stuff and some oven chips. THis is going to start to become interesting.

For lunch I headed off to my usual spot – the clifftop overlooking the port – and this was where I made the acquaintance of Victress. But not for too long because once more I was burnt out of my position and head to retreat to here where I promptly crashed out for an hour.

granville manche normandy franceAnd while we’re on the subject of photographs … "well, one of you is" – ed … it occurs to me that you have yet to see the view out of my living room windows.

It’s not very inspiring unfortunately (although I’ve seen much worse) but if I look over to the right-hand side I can in fact see the sea.

It’s not exactly the sea view that I was hoping to have, and I don’t have a terrace which would have been perfect, but here in Granville I can’t do much better than this. Especially as if I just step outside the front door of the building the view is stupendous as you know

Later on, I went out to Roncey. Liz’s grandchildren (whom you have seen many times on these pages) are coming to stay tomorrow and it’s important that Strawberry Moose is there to greet them. So now he’s playing hide-and-seek down the bed.

Back here, I had another dollop of the kidney bean stuff that I made yesterday and it was just as delicious too.

So tomorrow it’s a mega-shop again. So just you watch me forget something important.

Tuesday 16th May 2017 – TONIGHT’S TEA …

… was bangers, beans and baked potatoes. The rest of the sausages and the left-over half-tin of beans from Saturday night, and some potatoes from the pile that I bought the other week. A bit of pepper on the beans and some vegan margarine on the potatoes, and it was a meal fit for a King.

Last night I was tossing and turning again and I really don’t know why, and I was up long before the alarm went off.But I had a busy morning, even if it doesn’t seem that I accomplished much.

It was washday today and by that, I started off with me – a nice, long, hot shower and a shave, followed by some delicate clothing that needed hand-washing and which I’d been putting off for quite some time.

Once that was out of the way, I attacked all of the rest of the crockery and cutlery that I had brought from the Auvergne, which I had taken there from Brussels after I had sold Expo. And there were tons of it too. All of the cutlery I left soaking in boiling water for several hours to kill whatever might have been lurking on them.

As for the saucepans, they were almost new so I brought them with me (and two of them work on the induction hob too) so they were steam-cleaned – by the simple expedient of jamming the lids on and weighting them down while some water boiled away inside. Any germs that might have been loitering within them have certainly had their chips now.

This afternoon I had to go back down to the bank, so I took the final load of paper out to put in the recycling as I passed by. And I encountered the bus driver who was taking a short break at a bus stop.We had a chat and she filled me in about the bus service around the town. It’s about 20 minutes from here to the railway station and it costs €1:00 per trip. That will suit me just fine.

And as I was passing the library, with 10 minutes to spare (yes, there are still libraries in Mainland Europe) I popped in and joined. Cost me €10:00 but it’s an unlimited supply of books, CDs and DVDs as well as all kinds of exhibitions and debates.

The Bank hasn’t made much progress in transferring my accounts. And the girl whom I saw asked me for lots of information that I didn’t have (shame that she hadn’t asked me last time to bring it with me today) so this is going to grind on and on. And the amount of paper (in a paperless office) that she printed off for me to sign must run into a respectable forest.

It was hot on the way back so I treated myself to a sorbet – and nice it was too. And when I arrived, I crashed out for a while, to be awoken by Ingrid who wanted a chat. Always nice to talk to friends of course.

And Hannah and Liz chatted to me on the internet too after tea. That was nice too. Hannah has almost finished her course in Madrid now – hasn’t time flown by? She’ll be hitting the rails for a few weeks before flying back to Canada, and she might pass by here.

So now, it’s an early night again. I’ll need to choose another DVD to take with me.