Tag Archives: bus issues

Friday 2nd September 2022 – I’VE JUST HAD …

yellow powered hang glider baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022… one of the most delicious meals that I’ve had for quite a while.

So while you admire a couple of photos of the little yellow powered hang glider that caught me unawares not once but twice this afternoon, I’ll tell you all about it.

And what I can say is that it was a pretty good move to buy those four tins of baked beans in St Helier the other day, and the vegan sausage that I bought were way beyond excellent, all washed down with chips and the malt vinegar that I’ve had here for a while

It’s been years since I’ve had real baked beans. The European ones are quite insipid and even the “English-recipe” ones that I buy in North America are nothing like these.

And the “proper” American ones are awful – packed so full of sugar that they are disgusting. So the cheap Morrisons ones went down a treat.-

yellow powered hang glider baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022last night wasn’t quite so much of a treat though.

For some reason that I have yet to understand, the computer fired itself up at 03:20 and it goes without saying that that awoke me bolt up right. A while later I had a bad attack of cramp, the first time for years since I’ve been taking these magnesium tablets,

And not only that. There was a problem with the elastic knee support that cut into my leg and the elastic ankle support that cut into my big toe that awoke me each time and in the end I took them both off.

Add to that the fact that I was off on my travels during the night and you can understand why it wasn’t a treat going to bed.

Waking up was even worse and I struggled to take to my feet. I beat the second alarm but not very much.

After the medication I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. No Zero unfortunately, and neither was there any TOTGA or Castor. We’d opened some kind of specialty shop somewhere or other and it had gradually evolved into a whole range of things like a corner shop, café, restaurant etc. There was a great wish to try to keep it ethical but one of the partners ended up having an affair with someone on the quiet. Things were not going right at all. Someone buttonholed the female partner of the business and started to talk about ethics. The complaint of course was that he preached ethics but didn’t practise them because of this, this and this. This set the woman thinking. The next thing we knew was that a couple of people left to go travelling. She’s there in her little house that she built herself at the side of the bus station instead of the company premises that were there. Someone from the company asked “do you have enough small change for 2 tills?”. She replied “yes”. 2 women came over and shook hands and thanked her for giving them the opportunity to take over and run this ethical business. She was walking away from it after her principles had been betrayed.

There were 2 people who were supposed to be busking in the street. One was a girl hitting a piece of scaffolding pipe with a scaffolding joint. The second one was a guy and I’m sure that he had a guitar but I couldn’t see it. They were arguing about things that were going wrong and not performing. I stood there watching them for a couple of minutes until my partner dragged me away. She asked what i was doing. I replied “those 2 look interesting from a music point of view”. I wanted to go to give them my card but she put her foot down about people behaving like that being friends of ours. I had to convince her that the world was full of personal and petty disputes etc. That’s nothing to what I’ve seen in the past. She wasn’t really interested but I still had this strong temptation to back and make myself known to them and see what could be developed between the 3 of us at least.

Later on I was with someone and going through this list of songs that I had that were on my playlist for some reason or other, checking which ones they were and why they were there. We only had three organised before I had this dramatic pain in my big toe that I mentioned earlier so I don’t know what that was going to do. That was a shame because it sounded as if it might have been exciting.

zodiac baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022And while a zodiac goes past out in the bay, I was on a bus or a plane even going somewhere. It was the time when my radio programme was being broadcast. There were 2 guys sitting in front whom I could hear talking. They were talking about a previous broadcast so I couldn’t be sure which one was being broadcast so I had a listen. I could identify it from about 3 seconds of music and thought “this is the correct one being broadcast today”. I put the headphones back and started to ferret around in my briefcase for the green file in which I keep all the information. The girl next to me was rather irritated and asked “you aren’t searching for something else are you?”. I replied “yes but I promise you that this is the last thing”. She said “we can swap places if you like”. I replied “no, I’m quite comfortable where I am. It will be the very last thing I promise you that I’ll be looking for”. Then I was looking through the papers and found that the paper that I wanted wasn’t in the file. Just then the alarm went off.

The rest of the day was spent mainly going through the photos from Jersey. Not that I’ve done very many at all because much of the time was spent researching what it was that I’d photographed. And even though there’s a long, long way to go, I’ve been able to identify many of the features that show up so clearly when I see them from here, and that was the aim of the trip in the first place.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022Regardless of how I’m feeling, I still went outside this afternoon.

And as usual I staggered across the car park to see what was going on down on the beach. And there seemed to be plenty of all of that too with quite a few people down there enjoying themselves today.

They certainly had better weather for it too. The sun was out, there wasn’t very much wind and with everyone else now back at work or at school, there aren’t the crowds of heaving msses with which everyone has to contend.

shtandart baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022What also caught my eye quite early on too were the sails that I could see in the distance.

It’s not Marité of course but the Russian sailing ship Shtandart that came in here for the Festival of Working Sailing Ships. and I don’t know why she’s still here either because the Festival has now finished of course.

Here’s hoping that she’s not going to be moving in here permanently. As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I’m not actually overwhelmed to see her in here. But then it’s not my decision.

buses place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022There seems to be something rather bizarre happening with the buses.

The bus that we saw parked in a strange position yesterday was there again this afternoon. But it’s not the service bus on a layover because as I watched, the service bus pulled in at the usual bus stop, discharged some, picked up others and then cleared off again on its route.

And when I came back from my little crawl around later, she was still there too so there’s something strange happening here with the local buses.

That’s something else that I’ll need to check. It it’s here tomorrow I shall go and engage the driver in conversation

unidentified light aeroplane baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022Right now though there was an aeroplane flying by overhead.

Regrettably I couldn’t quite read its registration number so I’ve no idea who it might be. But it begins with “OO” and that’s a series of numbers assigned to Belgium so it’s strange to see it out here.

She wasn’t picked up on the civilian radar either.

Now that I have access to the records of a few more airfields I could cast my net further around but there’s no aeroplane of any similar registration anywhere and so that would seem to be that.

delta airlines Airbus A330-223 N857NW baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022No such problems with this aeroplane though. I didn’t need much help with this one.

She’s N857NW, an Airbus A330-223 owned by Delta Airlines and took off two and a half hours late at 15:59 from Paris Charles de Gaulle on flight DL 265 to JFK Airport, New York.

The delay incidentally was caused by the late arrival of the outbound flight DL264, although why a 40-minute delay in arriving should put it back by that much is rather strange. But at least it had a nice clear sky in which to fly back.

port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022The way that I’m feeling right now, I’m not going aroind the headland.

Cliniging on to a series of stone walls in case I might fall, I made my way slowly to the viewpoint overlooking the port. And at least we can confirm that Marité isn’t out at sea hidden in the haze. She’s moored up in her usual place at the end of the inner harbour.

Also in there this afternoon are la Grande Ancre ,Chausiaise and Victor Hugo. Obviously the trip out to St Helier with me on Wednesday was far too much for the latter ship.

Plenty of trawlers in there this afternoon too. They must be having a day off today.

le soupape pescadore peccavi trafalgar chant des sirenes ch639133 le poulbot charlevy chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022In the meantime I noticed that there’s a change in occupancy at the chantier naval so I gingerly inched my way in that direction.

All of the usual suspects, le soupape , trafalgar , peccavi , trafalgar , chant des sirenes and charlevy are still in there but there’s another boat come to join them.

Her name isn’t visible from here but I can see her registration number. It’s CH639133 and that tells me that she’s Le Poulbot.

Although her registration number is quite old, built in 1986, we haven’t seen her before. Apparently she seems to spend much of her time in Fécamp.

le roc a la mauve 3 joly france belle france ferry terminal port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022With Victor Hugo and Chausiaise being in the inner harbour I had a quick look over to see who was at the ferry terminal.

All that I could see was the new Belle France and one of the Joly France ferries. Judging by the windows in “portrait” format, it’s the newer one of the two.

In the foreground in Le Roc à La Mauve III and we know all about her because we saw her in the chantier naval for quite a long time.

Back here I had a coffee, finished off what I was doing and then went for tea. My delicious meal of vegan sausage, chips and beans. And I’ll have plenty more of that in due course. I have set plans afoot.

Later on, there was football in the Welsh Premier League – Caernarfon Twon v Airbus UK Broughton. Promoted for this season, Airbus are pretty much up against it already. Yet to take a point after four matches.

And today they didn’t help themselves very much, going down 3-1 in a score that very much flattered Caernarfon. But then experience will always tell.

It wasn’t as if Airbus played badly either.

Their goal really summed up their misfortune. Caernarfon had a bucket-load of corners but as usual these days, the delivery towards the goal was pretty dismal. Airbus won just two or three but the deliveries were peaches and one of them was a free header that led to their goal.

The margin between winning and losing is wafer-thin. We had two identical situations with one-on-ones in front of goal. Josh Tibbetts saved the one on the Caernarfon goal but Mike Jones didn’t.

And then when Caernarfon were awarded a penalty Mike Jones managed to stop it. But he couldn’t cling on and with 20 players to whom the ball could have rolled, it of course had to roll to an unmarked Cofi

Yes, when your luck is out, it’s well and truly out.

Bedtime now, very late, and shopping tomorrow. I’m not looking forward to that either. To be frank, I’m rather nervous about going out in case I have another fall. I know exactly now how a tortoise feels when it ends up upside-down. And it’s not very pleasant.

Thursday 1st September 2022 – THE DECISION …

hermitage donville les bains Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo June 2022… about whether or not I ought to go for a walk this afternoon was taken out of my hands today.

For the first time since I don’t know how long (several months, probably) it was pouring with rain outside this afternoon. You can tell that by simply looking at the photos of “The Hermitage” – the old seafront hotel that is now converted into apartments. You can hardly see it through the drizzle

In the past though, I’ve been out for a walk or two in weather much wetter than this but I had a feeling that today this was nature’s way of telling me to go back inside and rest.

And rest I did. No alarm this morning so I stayed in bed until 09:30 and I needed it too.

Moving about was a little easier. Only a little though. I was still aching in my knee, my hip and now my groin. I know that yesterday I’d performed 180% of my daily activity according to the fitbit but I’ve done far more than that in the past without feeling as bad as I did.

There was no rush to start work today. I had a nice, leisurely morning and in the end I didn’t even sort out any music to which to listen this week. I ended up instead listening to the old-time radio and my favourite radio programmes from the 40s, 50s and 60s.

Eventually though I started on transcribing all of the notes on the dictaphone. There were two days’ worth – yesterday and today, and all told there were tons of them. Having dealt with all of yesterday’s, I made a start on today’s. I was doing something with the taxis again last night. Someone phoned up – it might have been my brother probably, I dunno – and was shouting at the girl who was answering the phone and doing the radio. In the end I took over. It took me a whole while to chisel out the information from him bit by bit. It was basically “Friday 12:50 or earlier if possible, pickup from Glasgow and take him to Northampton”. It took an age to chisel all of that out of him bit by bit. Everyone was short-tempered by the time that I finished this call.

And then I can’t remember much of this bit. There was Nerina and I, once again having our marriage difficulties. She and her friend had once ganged up on me once playing cards, even going as far as to look up the rules about borrowing cards from the pack which I thought was totally unnecessary. anyway they were there working on some other stuff again about that. There was much more to this but I can’t remember it now.

And Zero was back last night. After all this time and how nice it was to see her smiling face, even if it was only for a fleeting second. We were tidying up in her school classroom and she was one of the last to be there. She went home and we said that we’d be round later. There was me and another girl but I can’t remember who she was. We were getting close to finishing. The guy in charge said that he was leaving. We said that the place wasn’t tidied up yet so he replied “you stay and finish it but don’t take too long”. There was just the 2 of us there and we were tidying it up. The girl with me thought that she’d telephoned to Zero to say that we’d be round in a few minutes. I could tell that the conversation was going quite badly. It finished off by her saying “well, we’ll see you tomorrow”. I wondered what was going on. It turned out, so she said, that Zero’s father who was the last person to leave was probably not feeling too well so they’d be spending a lot of time dealing with him. I said “I’m having to go tomorrow so we could I suppose always turn up unexpectedly tomorrow to say goodbye. We did that once before and it went quite well but I’d much rather have gone round on a day when we’d been invited and when people were expecting us. That way there’s no question of having any kind of conflicting interest etc”. I forgot to mention that after the girl with me had hung up on Zero she went and sat down somewhere and put her feet up. I was still wrestling with these 3 enormous boxes. I had to insist that she got back on her feet and came to help me otherwise I would never finish this lot either and I’d be here all night.

Once again I could see that all my best-laid plans here were coming to nought even before we’d gone very far at all, and that’s just typical whenever any of my interests seemed to coincide with those of anyone else back in the old days. No wonder I prefer to live alone. It’s far less complicated.

There I was with a date with Zero and everyone else was deliberately pushing spokes into the wheels. Just as always.

All that remained (for the moment at least) was the blog entry for yesterday. That took a total age to write but at least it’s all nicely on line now. Without the photos though. I couldn’t stomach working my way through 97 of those this afternoon. I wasn’t in the mood.

The proceedings were interrupted by me finally deciding to risk my knee on an adventure outside.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo June 2022And despite the poor weather I went off for a stroll across the car park to the wall.

With the weather being as it was, I wasn’t expecting to see anyone down there on the beach so the half-a-dozen or so people down there took me somewhat by surprise. I don’t know what they were doing down there but at least whatever it was, they had plenty of beach to do it on.

It was a waste of time looking out to sea because the mist was pretty thick out there and you couldn’t see anything.

Going to to St Helier yesterday was a good plan because I had the last of the decent weather. It would have been miserable out there today.

But this took me completely by surprise.

bus place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo June 2022This photo isn’t about Caliburn. You can see the bus stop over there on the left-hand edge of the photograph so why is the bus parking there? And for not the least of the reasons being that any passengers would have to go into the street in order to board the bus.

You can see the rain too. It was pretty miserable but I can’t say that I’m sorry that we’ve finally had some rain.

Before I went back in I was buttonholed by one of my neighbours who attracted my attention from her second-floor window. We had quite an impromptu chat at distance, with me being slowly and inevitable soaked to the skin.

Back in the flat I had a nice strong coffee and then carried on with the blog until it was finished (for now) and then I breathed a sigh of relief.

Tea tonight was a left-over curry with mushrooms, potatoes and the left-over stuffing along with a big handful of peanuts. And I do have to say that it was the best one that I’ve ever made.

A quiet evening now and I’ll probably end up with an early night. It’s still raining and my legs are still hurting and who knows how all of this will pan out.

We’ll all find out tomorrow

Thursday 12th December 2019 – WELL I NEVER …

… ever thought that I would make it to Leuven today. But here I am none-the-less, sitting in my little room in the Dekenstraat waiting for tomorrow and my rendezvous with doom at Castle Anthrax.

It all started so well too this morning, even though I was the first to realise that on a day of “National Action”, the situation can change in the blink of an eye.

Last night I wasn’t in bed as early as I would have liked, what with having a few things to do, but nevertheless I comfortably beat the second alarm call this morning, never mind the third.

During the night I’d been on my travels too. There was something going on about something to do with the radio last night. We were in Granville and it was to do with the copyright. Someone said that I had gone on for an hour doing something yet according to my calculations it was less than 10 minutes. But they insisted that it was an hour. Ann Myatt was there and she was getting involved in this argument about copyright and I wasn’t quite sure what was going on.

No time for breakfast or anything this morning. I made my butties (I’d bought an extra dejeunette yesterday) and generally packed my things for the trip. As well as that, I took all of the recycling down to the bins.

thora normandy trader port de granville harbour manche normandy franceEventually it was time to hit the streets so valiantly braving the rainstorm I set off.

The first thing that I noticed down in the harbour is that there had been a shuffle-round of the ships. Thora had moved place and that Normandy Trader was now in the unloading bay underneath the crane next to Marite. She must have slipped into port under cover of darness too.

And all that I can say is that Normandy Trader must have had a really rapid turn-round.

alstom regiolis gare de granville railway station manche normandy franceAt the station, much to my surprise, my train was in and waiting. Yes, start with some good luck because I didn’t expect it to hold out.

And I was right too.

Firstly, the station coffee machine was out of order. That always puts a dampener on any of my travels, that does.

Secondly, I don’t have much time to traverse Paris, and no Bourvil to carry my suitcase either so when they announced that “the train will be making a few additional stops” my heart sank into my boots.

eiffel tower paris franceThe weather was quite miserable though. There’s a good place to take a photo of the Eiffel Tower from the train and I was in a good place on the train to seeit and photograph it.

But not today though. There was a pile of damp mist and low cloud obscuring it and the photo was a waste of time.

12:05 is the arrival time of my train in the Gare Montparnasse-Vaugirard in Paris. We finally pulled into the station at 12:20. And with my train out from the Gare du Nord at 13:15 I needed to get a wiggle on.

No chance of the metro though. All closed off and boarded up with the strike.

Still, there’s always the Bus 39 so I hurtled off outside to the bus stop to find that everyone in the whole wide world had had the same idea. When the bus eventually came, we all piled in and were crammed in like sardines. I’ve never ever in my life been in such a crowded bus.

It wasn’t to last though. After about 5 or 10 minutes or so the driver announced that he wasn’t going to go to the Gare du Nord but his “colleague behind” will be doing the trip. We all had to alight knowing full well that we had been sold a pup, but there was nothing that we could do about it.

No “colleague behind” either. We were standing there like piffy on a rock for about 15 minutes until a 39 came by. It was already heaving but nevertheless there was a mad scramble and once the lucky first 10 had wedged themselves aboard, he closed the doors and off he shot, leaving the rest of us behind.

After about 10 minutes I realised that any further wait was pointless. I’d been keeping my eye open for a few minutes and then, sure enough, a taxi with his flag up came by. I let out a yell and he pulled up. Grabbing hold of the door to claim it, I shouted to the people at the bus stop “taxi share to the Gare du Nord?” but they all looked at me as if I have two heads – which I probably have. No-one came to join me so I set off alone with the driver and badger that lot!

Finding a taxi was one thing – getting to the station was another. Everything was conspiring to be in our way today and we eventually reached the Gare du Nord at 13:35. It cost me @24:00, which was not, I suppose, too unreasonable for Paris on a day of General Strike.

Next stop was at the Thalys office to negotiate a new train, but it turns out that it’s not them but the SNCF that I need to see (exactly the opposite of the situation last time) so I wandered off to their office.

tgv inoui gare du nord paris franceAnother lengthy wait but it was worth it because there was just one more train out to Lille – at 14:45 – and I managed to blag my way onto it, free, gratis and for nothing.

While I was waiting, I’d done some research. My new train is due to arrive in Lille at 15:48. There was a local train from Lille going across the border to Tournai in Belgium at 16:02 (arriving at 16:34) and an SNCB train from Tournai to Brussels at 16:44 (arriving at 17:48)

Having found my seat, I settled down and dozed off (and who can blame me after my exertions?).

I awoke some time later to find that our train was stationary in the countryside. “Obstruction on the line” was the reason. By the time that it was removed and we had set off again, I could see all of my hopes melting away into the distance. And when we finally arrived at Lille, it was 16:20 and my train had long-gone.

But I’m nothing if not determined. Browbeating an attendant, she sent me off to the SNCF offices to see what they could do. They could find me a Local train to Tournai at 18:08 but from there I would be on my own.

It sounded like a reasonable option to me though – at least I’d be on the right side of the border. But I was convinced that I could do better.

Off down the road to Lille Europe – the big new TGV railway station. It took ages to find my way in, due to all of the reconstruction, but eventually I made it to the SNCF office. After yet another long wait, I was told that they could get me on a TGV direct to Brussels – the next one being at 20:08. And the receptionist wasn’t very pleasant either about that.

Another option is the Eurostar office. I’d seen that there was a Eurostar from London to Brussels, calling at Lille-Europe at 17:30. I tracked down the Eurostar office and went in there with my sob story. The girl there listened, looked at me for a moment, had a little think, and then simply stamped my ticket “bon for voyage 17:30” – free, gratis and for nothing as well! She told me that I would have to make my own seating arrangements.

eurostar gare lille europe railway station franceAnd she was right too. The train was heaving and it took me ages to find a free seat. Probably the last one on the train.

But what was interesting was the ticket control on the station. It wasn’t the railway company as such that did the ticket checking but a couple of security guards. They were wandering up and down the platform checking people’s tickets on a rather ad-hoc basis rather than at a barrier at the head of the stairs, which would have been the most logical place to control the passengers.

They had a brief glance at my ticket, saw the rubber stamp from the girl in the office and that was that.

gare du midi brussels belgium We pulled in to Brussels-Midi at 18:11 and I had to wait until 18:28 for my train to leuven.

But no matter what, I wasn’t going to wait on the platform. There was one of those bitter, biting winds that finds its way through your clothing, your skin, your flesh and your bones. I came down onto the little walkway underneath the platforms where I could admire the station and the crowds of people.

Brussels-Midi is a very old station in the sense that it hasn’t been modernised any time recently, so it has a quaint kind of character all of its own that many main-line stations have lost.

class 18 electric locomotive december leuven railway station louvain belgium Bang on time at 18:28 our train pulled in and I was well on the way towards Welkenraedt.

Today we had one of the Class 18 electric locomotives, one of the workhorse classes of the Belgian SNCB that pull a great many of the long-distance trains around the country, even if their introduction to the railway network was not without its issues. But now you see them all over the place.

We finally pulled in to Leuven at about 19:00. And when you think about this, then despite all of the issues that I’d had, I was only two and a half hours later than normal. And Had I gone via Tournai on the train that I had planned, I would have been just 15 minutes ahead.

Now I’m settled in. Too late for the shops, I’ve had beans and chips for tea and now I’m off to bed. After all of that effort I think that I deserve it too.

How close was I to having my chips today?

fishing boats unloading port de granville harbour manche normandy france
fishing boats unloading port de granville harbour manche normandy france

christmas lights rue lecampion granville manche normandy france
christmas lights rue lecampion granville manche normandy france

Wednesday 16th October 2019 – SO HERE I ALL AM …

… not exactly sitting in a rainbow but sitting in one of the departure lounges of the worst airport in the world, with the rudest staff I have ever met. I hate this place with a passion that cannot be measured on any scale that is known to Mankind but here I am. I’ve decided that it’s time that I was moving on before I put down roots.

And roots indeed. The last time that I slept in my own bed was on 26th June – that’s 16 weeks or so ago and while I’m not going home just yet I ought to be getting a little closer to it.

A lot of water has passed underneath the bridge since 26th June, that’s for sure.

Talking of passing water, I had another bad night last night. A whole succession of cramps in the calves and shins and it kept me awake for an eternity. I took advantage of the wakefulness by going down the corridor, but I would much rather have had a decent sleep instead.

I suppose that I must have dropped off at one point though. Or maybe more because there are several recordings on the dictaphone that I don’t remember making. Anyway, at about 07:15 I was wide-enough awake to push on with things.

No breakfast though. I repacked the suitcase and bunged another pile of stuff into it (and it registered 19.7 kilos at the airport’s weigh-in machine so I’m clearly getting back to normal) so that the backpack is at least manageable.

At 10:30 I set off for a walk, leaving my baggage behind for a moment. All the way up to the top of the town where I met Josee. I had done a little research in the area and discovered a little Lebanese restaurant in the basement of the shopping precinct so I took her there for a meal. And it turned out that she was well-known to the proprietor.

Later on, I had a leisurely stroll around the town and visited a few buildings that I had seen on my travels in the past. The big one near rue Sherbrooke that I had seen on several occasions is in fact the former hostel for the Deaf and Dumb of the city.

Eventually I rescued my suitcase and by 17:00 I was on the 747 bus to the airport. And it was then that I realised that I had left behind my raincoat and my aniseed balls. The objects and items that I have abandoned behind me on my travels could have filled another suitcase.

It was a good idea to go early to the airport because the traffic was horrendous. It’s a working day of course so we had the rush hour to deal with and there were queues everywhere. Our bus even lost a mirror against a lamp-post trying to squeeze past a queue of traffic turning right.

The departure check-in wasn’t open yet so I had a sandwich at Subway and then handed back my card for the USA. I won’t be going there for another while unless something quite dramatic happens.

Security is always extremely stressful here so I don’t propose to talk too much about it, even though I’ve had much worse passes through airport control than this. Now I’m sitting quietly waiting for my flight to be called.

But before I go, let’s talk about music. For no reason at all a track suddenly popped into my head out of nowhere. It’s Green Day’s Boulevard of Broken Dreams and regardless of how apposite the lyrics might be vis-a-vis my own personal circumstances and how I have lived my life, then just as Colosseum Live reminds me of almost every late and lonely night that I have ever spent on board The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour, this particular track reminds me of just one particular night that was later than most and which I didn’t ever want to end.

I wonder if it means anything to anyone else.

That brings me round to the music that I am listening to now. Tom Petty has come round on the playlist and I have Into The Great Wide Open going full-blast.

Not a good idea right now of course. Far From it, in fact.
I heard you singing to no one
I saw you dancing all alone
One day you belonged to me
Next day I just wouldn’t know
One day all the rules will bend
And you and I will meet again

“One day all the rules will bend and you and I will meet again”. Nothing is more certain than that. You just have to believe.

“How could I get so close to you, and still feel so far away?”


Sunday 4th August 2019 – TOTALLY USELESS …

… waste of time miserable pathetic excuse of a coach driver.

First rule when turning round is “drive past, back up, turn round”. But not this guy!

Swings into a country lane forwards (how he hopes that he can see what’s passing behind the bus 40-odd feet back totally beats me) and promptly grounds out the rear end of the bus on the high camber.

90 perishing minutes we were sitting there waiting for a breakdown crew to come and tow him back out and put the exhaust and rear bumper back on.

As a result we lost the light, found a rainstorm, did only half of the visits that we were supposed to visit (and those in record time too) and only got off the bus once – and at the place that I had visited the other day too.

One very unhappy bunny here.

And it all started so well too. Another Sleep Of The Dead and awake sprightly (well, almost) just before the third alarm. Breakfast, tidy up, a quick shower and hit the road to arrive at the Kearney Village Hall in time for the talk to begin.

Three eminent local historians each gave us a talk of life on the Bozeman Trail and some of the characters who used to frequent it. Very interesting too and I learnt a great deal, which is the whole point of these things.

After lunch we set off on the bus to visit th sites of many of the skirmishes that took place between travellers on the Bozeman Trail and the Native Americans through whose land they passed, but as I mentioned before, that fell rather flat with no time to go and visit anything.

I was so disappointed.

But then I hit the road and I’m now in the Rodeway Inn in Sheridan. Just up the road from here is the site of the Battle of Little Big Horn and that’s tomorrow’s destination.

Wednesday 3rd October 2018 – AFTER MY EXCITING …

… day yesterday, I crashed out on the bed at about 22:30 leaving half a mug of coffee behind, the laptop running and everything.

And I was off on my travels too, about a horse race that was taking place.

For no apparently good reason at all I was wide awake at 01:30 and so not being able to go back to sleep I spent an hour catching up on some more work that needed to be done.

Once I’d gone back to sleep I was off on my travels yet again, this time to an office where I used to work. It was office party time and there were quite a few married couples having rather too much fun underneath desks and the like. And when I say “married couples”, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they were married to each other either. I disturbed one couple having fun underneath a desk, and they asked me a question about it. My tart response was that surely they didn’t think that they were the only people at it. There were three different offices in this building, one of which had a connection with Scotland. And at a certain moment a young girl, blonde pony tail and in a white lab coat, talking in a Scots accent (the girl, not the coat), appeared on our floor to bring some work down. I was quite interested in finding out more about her so I started to climb the stairs in the fire escape to see if I could find her office. On the way, I was intercepted by someone who asked if my answer to a certain question on a form was definitive. I couldn’t even remember the question, never mind my answer!

By 04:30 I was wide awake again so I restarted what I had been doing earlier. That took me round to the medication and a nice hot shower with clean clothes for my journey home.

Next stop was the supermarket in the Gare du Midi for bread to make my butties. An enormous queue at the tills which is hardly surprising seeing as it’s morning rush hour and people are picking up their lunch. And I also picked up some or the raisin buns that I like so as to have something for breakfast, along with another coffee.

thalys sncf tgv brussels gare du midi franceOnce the butties had been made, and breakfast eaten and coffee drunk, I staggered (and I DO mean staggered because my luggage seems to have gained the weight that I had lost) down to the station and my train.

The TGV was ontime too, which is always good news because I don’t have time to hang around in Paris.

And it was packed to the gunwhales too. There didn’t seem to be a spare seat on board.

thalys sncf tgv paris gare du nord franceAnd several people seemed to have been late bookings because although they were wedged into individual seats all down the carriage alongside other people, they spent most of the trip standing in the aisle leaning over everyone else to see what was on the laptop of the leader of the pack, blocking the aisle, to the inconvenience of everyone else.

We pulled into Paris Gare du Nord bang-on time and I then had to negotiate my way to Gare Montparnasse dragging my heavy load and wondering just how I had managed to end up with so much stuff.

It was quite a struggle up and down the stairs and onto the train in the metro with all of my stuff but eventually I made it into the concourse at Montparnasse and could withdraw my ticket to Granville from the machine.

With having been an hour earlier on the TGV I had plenty of time to wait at Vaugirard. I sat next to a mother and her daughter who were also travelling to Granville and we had something of a chat while I ate my cheese and tomato butties.

sncf multiple unit paris montparnasse vaugirard franceOn the train I had a very charming travelling companion but the train was quite empty so she moved to the seats on her own in front of me and spread herself out.

I did likewise and spend the journey alternating between sleeping and reading my copy of Arthur Reeves’ “The Finding of Wineland the Good” that I had downloaded off the internet. It’s an interesting book because although it’s very well-researched, he dismisses a great deal of work that had been done previously by people like Carl Rafn on grounds that may well have been logical at the time that Reeves was writing, but have since been found to be erroneous.

There was a 40-minute wait for the bus – I had no intention of walking home today. And we had some excitement on the journey back when the bus driver clipped another vehicle and pulled the rear bumper off the bus.

It’s good to be back home. I’ll tell you that. It smells of dust and so on, but it’s home all the same and I’ll open the windows tomorrow to let some fresh air.

I didn’t do too much – just relaxed for a while and then made myself a plate of pasta, olive oil and vegetables for tea.

Later I tried to start the back-up of files from the travelling laptop onto the home machine, but I gave up after an hour or so. Only 22:00 but I was gone.

And this is how I’m going to stay for a while because I’ve switched off all of the alarms.

Wednesday 29th August 2018 – I’VE NO IDEA …

… why it is that some people can make the easiest job turn out to be the most complicated and consume hours of my time when I have much better things to do.

Take my Canadian car insurance as an example.

It needs to be paid, and had the company sent me their account details, I could have walked into any Scotia Bank anywhere in Canada and done it in a machine in 30 seconds and everyone would have been happy.

Instead, they tell me to “do it by e-mail transfer”

I’ve no idea how to do that but never mind. Just down the road from here and round the corner in the rue St Catherine Est is a Scotia Bank. So I duly take myself down there to enquire.

“We can’t go that here for you” they wailed
“Probably not” I replied. “All I asked you to do is to tell me how to do it”.
So the cashier sent for a supervisor, and I explained again.
“That’s not something we can do” she said. “We don’t have access to your information”
“I know” I replied. “I just want you to tell me how I do it”
“That’s something that you have to do yourself”
“Is there something wrong with my French? Or don’t you understand my accent or something? I’m not asking you to do it – I’m asking you to tell me how I do it”.
“We can’t do it for you”.

After another half an hour like that, I walked out. I really don’t understand why I’m having such a problem with such a load of bankers these days. Every single one seems to be causing me problems.

But all is not lost. There’s another branch up the road towards the town so I set off there to see if they are any better.

black men working rue st catherine est montreal canada august aout 2018And the walk up town is not without excitement.

Here we have a typical Western-World scene of a young thin black guy working a pneumatic chisel breaking up the pavement, with another young thin black guy holding a board to stop the concrete chips flying all over the passers-by.

And a big fat much-older white guy standing around watching the immigrants work. Too lazy to even go to fetch a shovel to lean on.

No wonder the Western world is in such a crisis when it’s only the immigrants who want to work. And these are the people whom the Fascist want to kick out

And not only that – I was almost squidged by a passing car as I stepped carelessly into the roadway.

At the second Scotia Bank, much farther away that I thought, I explained my problem.
“We’re only an express bank here. You need to go to one with full facilities. There’s one two blocks away”
And that was two of the largest blocks in the whole of Montreal, I reckoned.

There were two cashiers on duty there. One, an older lady, clearly knew what she was doing. The second was evidently a new-starter who was stopping her colleague every ten seconds to ask questions that even I could answer;

And the queue in front of me was becoming quite impatient.

Eventually, after a very long wait, I was seen. Luckily it was the efficient one. And she told me “you need to see another colleague about this”.

Another colleague was eventually found and she asked me to switch on my mobile banking application.
“I don’t have one” I replied.
“We can download the app” she said.
And if you have any idea about how long the on-line mobile banking app takes to download on my ‘phone.
“Never mind. I’ll show you on my computer”.
So she switched on her machine and took me step by step through the procedure.
“What we need is an example of a payment”.
“So why don’t we use this real example here?”
“Ohh, what a good idea!”.
Couldn’t make it up, could you?

And so we did. She set me up with a mobile banking account and we eventually managed to make the payment. And that was only by luck because she didn’t really know how to do it and was having to search for loads of answers to questions.

I had started out from here at 10:20 to do a 2-minute job. It was now 12:02 and I had an appointment at 12:00 across town.

Later on, in the Koodo mobile phone office.

I’d found a mobile ‘phone repairer who checked my new phone. As you know, it’s a dual-sim phone and so I wanted to know if it works in North America. He put a couple of different North American sim cards in it and sure enough, it worked fine.

So round to the Koodo network suppliers.
Our Hero – “I live in Europe and I come to North America for a couple of months every year. I need a pay-as-you-go card that will do …….(and I explained what I needed)”
Girl in Shop – “okay, we need to fill out a form”
Our Hero fills out a form
GIS – “where’s this address again?”
OH – “In France”
GIS – “but that’s no good. You need a Canadian address”
OH – “I told you that I come from Europe”
GIS – “you need an address in Canada”
OH fills it out with an address in Canada
GIS – “now which plan would you like?”
OH – “one that does what I told you just now”
GIS – “yes, but which one is that?”
OH – “how do I know? It’s your shop not mine!”
GIS – “so tell me again what you need”
OH repeats his initial enquiry
GIS – “I don’t think we have a plan like that. Is it one of these?”

In the Montreal Public Transport Enquiry Office.
My plans to leave Montreal have changed due to weather issues at my destination so we’re leaving on Saturday at 08:10, which means that I have to be at the airport at 05:10.

So I queued to ask if the 747 bus ran throughout the night.

Some agent was walking down the queue asking people if they had simple questions. So I asked him mine.
“I don’t know” he replied. “You need to ask at a window”.
And so I asked at a window, when it was eventually my turn. And they didn’t know either. After a lengthy chat amongst themselves, they came to the conclusion that it might. But they weren’t sure.

I really don’t know why these days that they employ people like this. They clearly have no pride or interest in their work and couldn’t care less about the effect that their “je m’en foutiste” attitude has on their customers.

But a lot of it is due to the lack of training. That’s because the employers pay such pitiful wages that people don’t stay around long enough, so the companies won’t invest the money in training them.

The long-term vision about recruiting good people and training them to do their jobs efficiently so that the customers want to come and spend their money there to make the place profitable in the long-term has been replaced by this short-term “grab it and run” philosophy that will bring about their own downfall in the long term, as we are seeing with so many formerly blue-chip companies that have gone to the wall just recently.

It was a strange night last night. I was wide -awake at 03:00 (jet-lag again) and working on the laptop. But not for long. I drifted off to sleep again, was awakened by all of the alarms and then finally by the fridge and the air-conditioning working in concert to make sure that I was up and about.

Breakfast here is “basic” to say the least, the kind of thing that is advertised as a “continental breakfast” – and you find that you are expected to eat your quilt. The kind of thing that makes you feel down in the mouth.

But at least it’s here and not half a mile away. And afterwards, yet another shower to look my best.

I finished off the work that I had started and then hit the streets for my appointment with destiny – or, rather the Scotia Bank.

At 12:00 I was supposed to be having lunch with Josée so I had to leg it across town and eventually arrived 20 minutes late. She was ever so pleased to see me (I’m not sure why) and we had a good meal and a chat.

At 13:30 she had to go back to work, so I went with her and she showed me her workshops and introduced me to her pupils. And printed out the directions for where I needed to go next.

I need some special equipment for the next part of my journey so it was to the Montreal Equipment Co-operative.

This involved two buses, the 80 and the 179, and a long walk at the end, almost being squidged a second time by another car.

They weren’t particularly helpful as much as I would like, and they didn’t have some of the stuff that I needed, but we worked around it and I’ve ended up hopefully with stuff that might do.

It better had because I’ve put a lot of effort into the next stage of my voyage and I don’t want to be confounded at the final hurdle.

But here’s another example of total “je m’en foutisme”. I want a hat with a mosquito net for part of my project.
“We don’t have any of those in stock”.
“But you have hats, and here’s a mosquito hat-net. Couldn’t I buy them both and fasten the net to the hat?”
“Yes, that would work”
“So how come you didn’t suggest it?”
It’s frightening, the lack of imagination that some people have these days

We had a moment of panic in there too when I couldn’t find my camera bag, and I had all of the staff searching for it. In the end I found it, in my rucksack where I had put it earlier.

And paying for the stuff was fun. Josée told me to use her name as my spouse so that I would get the member discount. And have you any idea how embarrassing it is when you tell someone about your “spouse” and they ask for her address and you don’t know it?

I went and had a cold drink to recover.

storm damage rue st catherine est montreal canada august aout 2018Outside, there was another one of these five-minute storms raging;

Apart from the torrential downpour there were some devastating winds that looked incredible.

Apparently they caused some considerable damage all over southern Quebec and when I was walking through the city during the evening I could see considerable evidence of that, with the advertising hoardings all blown over.

A long walk back to the bus, and a long wait too. And much to my surprise, everyone else waiting seemed to be an Indian – one of those Indians, not “those” Indians. Except when the bus turned up, and a tiny little elderly white man barged his way to the front of the queue to push in, clearly exercising his role as a white oppressor of the brown-skinned immigrants.

I leapt out of the bus near the Parc metro station, and my walk round the corner took me past the mobile phone places that I described earlier.

On the metro, I had to change at Jean-Talon, and in the confusion found myself going back the way that I had come.

I just don’t know what is the matter with me these days.

wheelchair only sign metro montreal canada august aout 2018But at least the round trip gave me an opportunity to notice this sign on the metro train.

My friend Doug Paulley would be delighted to see this, having single-handedly waged war against selfish transport companies and passengers who deny wheelchair users the benefits of public transport. And the Montreal transport authorities might feel so smug about advertising this kind of thing.

But the facts are totally different.

Anyone who gets onto a Montreal metro train in a wheelchair deserves a Victoria Cross, never mind a place to himself, because the metro network here rivals the Paris metro as being the most wheelchair-inaccessible metro system in the whole world.

Getting a wheelchair onto a platform in a Montreal metro station is impossible in at least 90% of them.

Finally, at Berri-UQAM I went for my fruitless chat with the public transport people and then back here for a rest for a while.

Later on, I went to that new falafel place to try out their offerings. And witnessed the most amazing spectacle at the hotel across the road.

coach confusion rue st hubert montreal canada august aout 2018That coach over there wants to unload his passengers at the hotel but the jeep thing is parked in the bus unloading bay so he can’t pull in.

He’s blocking the road, to the annoyance of the other motorists going up the hill.

While the driver is arguing with the jeep driver and trying t make him move, another car pulls up behind the jeep and blocks him in so that he now can’t move even if he wanted to.

Eventually, the police tell the coach driver to go around the block while they move the cars, but as soon as the coach pulls away, another one pulls up and we start all over again.

And the falafel? I’ve had much better than that.

allergy free foods iga supermarket rue st catherine est montreal canada august aout 2018In the IGA supermarket for some pudding, and my attention is drawn to the allergy-free shelves.

These products should bring relief to almost anyone – free from gluten, milk, eggs, soya, peanuts, sesame, mustard, sulphites, fish and shellfish.

Imagine trying to look for this kind of thing in France. Things in North America are definitely looking up for the allergy-affected consumer.

Back at the hotel I ate my sorbet and had all kinds of things to do, but instead I’m crashing out. I can’t see how far I’ve walked today as it’s 03:00 according to my fitbit and I didn’t notice the mileage before it restarted at 0:00.

But it feels like 100 miles that I’ve walked and I can’t last the pace these days.

Tuesday 19th June 2018 – THE ONE THING THAT I LIKE …

… about my blog, and one of the (many) reasons why I keep it, is so that when I have an altercation with someone, I have it chapter and verse about when and where it took place, and what was said.

So that way, whenever I’m having an argument with a semi-official body, I have the notes to prove my point.

But let’s not get ahead of ouselves.

Last night after having done almost everything that there was to do, I sat down and watched a DVD, something that i haven’t done for quite some time. Last night’s entertainment (if that’s the correct word) was Batman (the Movie). A totally absurd, incredibly camp film that is so bad that it’s good.

And what is probably the funniest part of the film is Adam West trying so hard not to laugh at some of the lines. Brings back many happy memories of the 1960s.

Despite the early night it was a struggle to come up for air this morning and I was a little later than usual leaving the stinking pit. But a breakfast and a hot shower brought me sort-of into the Land of the Living.

First thing was to put the bathroom back together and then to attack the living room. Do it while I’m in the mood. So that’s something like, stuff is sorted out, more stuff has been found (including my missing 32GB memory stick) and more stuff thrown away. And it was quite profitable too, because I found €1:03 too.

Spend, spend, spend!

And I’m glad that I did it too then and there because I didn’t have time after that.

Looking through the e-mails that had come in through the night, there were two that were very important and needed to be dealt with on the spot. And that involved a phone call to my bankers in the UK.

I’d tried a few weeks ago to set up an on-line banking service, but it had spectacularly failed, so I put it out of my mind. That was the first thing.

And despite what they told me, they had indeed been notified of my new telephone number. It’s there in black-and-white in my letter of 19th January, and when I had an argument with the bank’s customer service, they telephoned me back on that number on 6th February.

And since then, they’ve been sending me security codes when I’ve been using my UK credit card.

The second thing though is that I need to make a substantial payment to North America, and make it quickly. And I can’t do it by telephone despite whatever pleading I can use. It needs to be done in writing, although a fax machine is acceptable.

I threw away my old fax machine in 2011 so this meant a good hunting down of a fax machine in Granville.

First thing was to type out a letter, and while I was at it to deal with some more post that needed answering. That took me all the way up to 13:45. And then into town to search for a fax machine.

No go at the library. The Tourist Information Office was closed, the Mairie didn’t have one, and neither did the Post Office. But the Post office sent me across the road to the newspaper offices. They had a fax machine, but it was private.

But the newspaper shop next door advertised photocopies and photo-scanning, so I went in there. And sure enough, a very friendly newspaper shop owner had a public fax machine, so that was that.

I picked up one of my favourite baguettes and came back.

Lunch was exceptionally late and I was joined by no one but two lizards who spent more time fighting over a lump of pear than they did actually eating it. And that was surprising because there was more than enough for two.

school bus place d'armes granville manche normandy franceHaving had a lengthy walk just now, I abandoned the idea of going out this afternoon.

And so I was in my apartment to notice one of the school buses take the wrong turning up to the High School and get stuck in the gateway to the Place d’Armes.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we saw a couple of buses do that earlier this year, but at least there was much less drama associated with this one. With a couple of bits of shunting he managed to get round quite comfortably.

Instead of my walk I sat down on the sofa with a cold drink, and the efforts of earlier were clearly far too much for me because I was out like a light for a good half-hour. This isn’t doing me any good at all.

But I managed to fit in my guitar practice, and then made tea. A burger in a bap with baked potato. And remind me next time that when I go to defrost the burger in the microwave, to take it out of the plastic bag first.

radio mast jersey granville manche normandy franceIt was an absolutely beautiful evening, and the view across to Jersey was one of the clearest that I have ever had.

If you notice the radio mast over there, it’s really hard to believe that that is 34 miles away from here. But it is.

There was no-one about so i had another run. 110 paces tonight. But I was disappointed that the last two runs haven’t shown up on my fitbit. It’s disappointing to say the least. I’m clearly not going fast enough, but you can’t run before you’ve learnt to walk, can you?

sand and gravel port de granville harbour manche normandy franceRound the other side of the headland I could see that we’ve had a whole pile of deliveries to the gravel bins.

There’s gravel all over the place again, and even a couple of hundred tonnes of sand.

Does this mean that we’re going to have another gravel boat some time soon? I shall have to pay much more attention that I’m doing, otherwise I’ll miss it.

Tonight I think that I’ll watch another film. I’m becoming quite bourgeois in my sentiments these days. I’m going to have to snap out of that.

But one thing that I did during the odd period here and there of lucidity was to finally finish the blog entry for one day of my trip to the desert. And never mind finishing it, it almost finished me.

It still needs to be poof-read, have the tpying examined and have a spelchek, but it’s all of 5645 words, a new record and by an enormous margin too. You can read it at your leisure.

I deserve a medal.

Thursday 15th March 2018 – I DIDN’T ENJOY …

… that one little bit. Not at all.

And it all went wrong right from the beginning when I hardly had any sleep at all. I spent most of the night tossing and turning and that clearly didn’t get me off to the best possible start.

But nevertheless, I was up and about just as the first alarm was going off and after the usual medication and breakfast, I had a shower and washed my clothes. I need to look pretty for the hospital.

There were a few tasks that I needed to do before I went and then I wandered around the corner for the bus.

6 minutes late it was too, and we had something of a performance as there wasn’t enough money left on my card. So that involved some negotiations with another card.

At the hospital they checked me in and informed me of the change in tariffs (that doesn’t concern me of course) and then I went to the wrong room, so they had to come to look for me.

The needle went in the tube in my chest totally painlessly – yes, it was the former Belgian ladies’ darts champion who was nursing me today. And then she gave me the treatment.

As well as the saline drip I had four bottles of Multigam 5%. That’s a stimulant made from human plasma and it attacks the viruses that I seem to have and builds up my immunity. Five hours it’s supposed to take.

It was OK for the first couple of hour but then I started to feel the cold in my veins and it sent the shivers right through me. Not as bad as when I had the chemotherapy but horrible none the less. I had to wrap up in all my clothes.

The doctor – a young girl – came to see me and so did a skin specialist – likewise a young girl escorted by two even younger female students. It all ended up like the scene at Castle Anthrax.

And then I went to sleep.

The nurse awoke me to say that it was finished. And so was I. She unplugged me and told me that I could go but I was in no fit state to leave. I had to stay there on the bed for a good 20 minutes.

I made it to reception though. My next appointment is April 12th – likewise a Thursday.

And so I sat downstairs for a while and then came home. It was pouring down with rain outside but I walked back all the same. I bought some potatoes and tinned ratatouille for tea from Delhaize, and some vegan cheese and vegan sausages from The Loving Hut – I fancy some sausages and cauliflower cheese when I return home.

Soaked to the skin, I vegetated here for a while in the warm and then had my tea.

sports centre philipssite leuven belgium mars march 2018And later on in the evening I went out for a walk. The rain had eased off and I wanted to pass the 100%on the fitbit.

There’s the Philipssite complex just down the road from here and I’d never been to see what goes on there so I went for an amble around.

That building there is actually a Sports Centre of some kind and there were hordes of people disgorging themselves into the street as I went past. I was tempted to go in for a look around but I didn’t feel up to staying out.

philipssite leuven belgium mars march 2018There are offices there too because I knew someone once who worked there.

Quite a few, in fact, all nicely illuminated in the evening which probably costs someone a small fortune.

And I found the police station too. There’s quite a big one on the site, And and underground car park too – I didn’t know about that

So I’ll have an early night. Tomorrow I’ll be gathering my strength – what’s left of it.

Monday 5th September 2016 – THEY SAY THAT A YEAR …

… is a period of 365 disappointments, and I’ve been having my fair share just recently. And another one ha reared its ugly head today. The night bus that I was planning to take tomorrow night – well, I can’t. Apparently there’s no room on it, and that’s that.

There is however another bus, but that leaves at 06:00 on Wednesday morning and so faute de mieux, I’m on that. But 06:00 in the morning – does that exist? We shall have to find out.

It also means that I shall have to stay another night in a hotel here, and for no good purpose too which is unfortunate. And “here”, as in the Comfort Inn on the Cote de Liesse, is clearly impossible as there is no way that I could be in the city centre in time for the bus.

However, wandering around in the vicinity of the coach station, I came across a street full of about 20 disreputable cat-houses, a mere 5 minutes stagger away from where I want to be and so tomorrow night I shall be installing myself in one of those.

God help the bed-bugs with me on the way!

Now I can’t remember how many times I left my bed last night. It might have been one, but on the other hand it might have been none. One thing that I do know was that we had the Sleep of the Dead.

I was in bed, as I said last night, by 21:15 and I remember nothing whatever until about 04:40. Totally painless it was.

And I didn’t feel up to doing much for the first hour and a half. I stretched out here on the sofa and took it easy with a glass of cold spruce beer and a coffee. No point in having a decent, comfy sofa if you don’t make full use of it.

Breakfast was from 06:30 and I was there very shortly afterwards (something like 06:31 actually) and here we had a minor panic. Bagels (and a toaster, coffee and orange juice) there were a-plenty. But where was the maple syrup? You can’t come to Canada and not have toasted bagels and maple syrup for breakfast. Anyway, eventually some was found and that was me all set up for the morning.

I had a companion too – a North African who told me that he was from Belgium. He was here on a tourist visa, so he said, but he was looking for work and asked me if I could help him. i gave him a few pointers, such as I know them, which isn’t very much, and then came back up here to attack some paperwork, of which there was more than enough. It didn’t help with me … err … closing my eyes for a little relaxation at some point during the proceedings.

But I can’t stay here for ever. Despite the fact that it’s Labour Day, there are things to do, places to go, people to see and all of that and so I need to sort myself out for the bus.

And I didn’t have long to wait either which was just as well because even though it was only 10:00 it was stifling hot already. The bus to the metro and the metro to the Berri-UQAM station and the coach station round the back. And this is where I had my disappointment.

deserted calm back alley rue ontario montreal canada september septembre 2016But of course you know that we don’t have problems, we have solutions and so we set off to put our principles into practice.

This isn’t a photograph of of my selected cat-house by the way. This is a photo of a very tranquil little alleyway at the back of what used to be a boot and shoe factory, and it’s right in the centre of Montreal. It wasn’t what I was expecting to find in a place like this.

typical montreal houses rue st timothée canada september septembre 2016This isn’t a photo of my selected cat-house either.

If you are a regular reader of this rubbish you will recall that I’ve been posting the odd photo every now and again of houses in Montreal and the surroundings because some of the inner-city housing has a very special charm or beauty.

And these here in the rue Timothée just go to show what can be done with a little imagination – something that seems to be sadly lacking in Europe these days.

Having resolved the issues of the next stage of my journey, the next plan was to resolve the issues of my stomach. It was lunchtime.

rue st catherine montreal canada september septembre 2016The rue St Catherine is what is described as the city’s “Latin Quarter” – something that took me by surprise seeing as how all of the signs were written in French.

It was also Gay Pride day or something in the street apparently. There were loads of same-sex couples strolling hand-in-hand or arm-in-arm. I took my time over eating my Subway sandwich (without spilling it all over the floor this year) – I didn’t want to bugger off yet.

street piano rue st catherine montreal canada september septembre 2016Last year, you may remember, they had street pianos dotted around all over the city so that anyone who fancied a quick tinkle on the ivories could go and have a play around.

They are doing the same thing this year too, and here is a pianist having a right old go on the joanna and he’s recruited a couple of vocalists to give him some accompaniment. I suppose that it’s all part of life’s rich pageant

chess match rue st catherine montreal canada september septembre 2016There’s all kinds of stuff going on in the rue St Catherine and at a certain point there are four or five giant chessboards. People give their names to the organisers and they are called up to play when a previous game is finished.

Here in this game we had a dispute over the rules of “castling” and I learned something that I didn’t know before. And that’s always good news.

We had a few moment of excitement in the rue Sainte Catherine too. A woman, coming out of a building, saw another man, went over to him to say ‘Happy Birthday!” and grabbed him in the most enormous bear-hug that went on for hours.

I was so impressed that I went over to her and told her that if that was the reaction, then I would like to say that it was my birthday too. However, I didn’t have the same treatment – not at all!

I told you that it was not my lucky day, didn’t I?

parc arthur therrien la salle verdun montreal canada september septembre 2016But by mid-afternoon the heat was thoroughly overwhelming and the only protection is flight. I flew to the Metro and took the train out to Verdun and the La Salle metro station.

Just down the road is the Parc Arthur Therrien, whoever he is when he’s at home, if he ever is, and that was my destination. It was great to see the centre of Montreal from this kind of distance rather than being stuck in the middle of it in this heat.

saint joseph oratory parc arthur therrien verdun montreal canada september septembre 2016Over there in the distance at the back of Mount Royal is the Oratory of Saint Joseph which is on the Cote-des-Neiges. You may remember that we visited the Oratory in … errr … 2013 wasn’t it?

But not today, I’m going to enjoy the sun and have a good time, watching all of the people enjoying themselves – and I say “all of the people” because there are hordes here and everyone is having fun – even all of the kids who are splashing around in the swimming pool and the ponds.

st lawrence river verdun montreal canada september septembre 2016As for me though, I headed off into the shade and found myself the first real view of the St Lawrence river for this year. The motorway bridge away in the distance (downstream, fortunately) rather detracts from the scenery, but never mind.

And so, having found a nice shady spot out of the 32°C temperature, I closed my eyes for … errr … 45 minutes and it was totally painless, I’ll tell you that! It did me the world of good too!

st lawrence river blocks of flats verdun montreal canada september septembre 2016Having hunted down the gentleman’s rest room (and had I not needed it I would probably still be asleep there now) I went for a walk along the edge of the river, watching the fishermen, the canoeists and the jet-skiers.

And also admiring the properties on the river front and how I would love to live in an apartment in a building like one of those.

And you can tell by the sky ust what kind of weather we are having today. It’s magnificent.

And so I headed back into the city and changed trains for the Jean Drapeau station on the Ile Sainte Helene in the middle of the river at the other end of the city. That ought to be nice and cool with the breeze coming in off the river as the evening draws on.

But that wasn’t to be either. The island was closed off as there was an “event” taking place there – some kind of music concert that was clearly not my type, so I headed back to town. Just round the corner from the Sherbrooke metro station, seeing as I was in that end of the city, is a little Lebanese restaurant that does an assiette falafel at a very democratic price. That was tea organised.

I headed back here afterwards, part of the way in company with a woman from the North East of England who had lived here for 8 years and couldn’t stand the heat.

And forget your white-knuckle rides in amusement parks. Take the 202 bus from DuCollege Metro Station back to here with the lady driver that I had, and you’ll have the time of your life. I ended up back here, shaken but not stirred, at 20:45 and by 21:15 I was showered and in bed, well on my way to the Land of Nod.