Tag Archives: caliburn

Wednesday 13th April 2022 – GUESS WHO …

… has a broken kneecap? And for a fourth time too.

The first time was when I went head-over-handlebars on a motorbike when I was 16. The second time was when I slid a motorbike on a greasy road when I was 19 and the weight of two people and the bike itself (a 350cc Triumph) fell on it. The third time was skiing in Scotland when I was in my 20s – and I drove BILL BADGER, my old A60 van, home again.

As for when I did it in the fourth time, all that I can think of is that it was when I had that fall and broke my hand just before I went off on my transatlantic trip across to the High Arctic on THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR in the summer of 2019.

But taking a couple of years to manifest itself (it collapsed last spring, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall) is some going.

Anyway, retournons à nos moutons as they say around here, I had a lie-in this morning. Not that I intended to but at 07:30 – and at 08:00 – I couldn’t summon up the enthusiasm to leave my stinking pit. 09:25 was much more like it.

Having had my medication, sorted out the mails and messages and organised this week’s musical playlist on the computer, I had a listen to the dictaphone. And there was tons of stuff on there too. I’d had a busy night. No wonder I was in no hurry to leave my stinking pit.

The night started off with a huge long rambling dream about refugees. Again I had them with me and I arrived at a railway station. There were rooms above so we took a room above there. We had to carry all of their possessions up into the room above. That meant 4 or 5 trips in the lift to do it. There were all kinds of things happening – there was some objects still stuck in a lift from someone, I kept on bumping into all kinds of old schoolfriends while I was doing it, there was interaction with authority, one of those things that just went on and on and on while we were trying to move these refugees into this room. I’ve missed out most of it I think but the interesting part was of course all these people from school who kept appearing every time the lift either went up or went down and the doors opened. There would always be someone whom I knew waiting there. One person in particular was there once and also other people

So I had these refugees trying to get them into the upstairs room at this station passing by loads of people whom we knew. Some wanted arguments, some wanted help. I had papers from the Red Cross and had to show them. We were going up and down in this lift moving their stuff into this little room. The dream went on like this for ages. We met so many kinds of people and friends and one or two other people who helped us on our way but the farther we could get away from Vienna or Germany or wherever it was the better

My brother had bought a car, a Ford Cortina estate over the internet. A Mark IV model but he said that it was grey so we imagined that it would be the colour of my father’s old one. He was sitting down trying to work out how to get out and get it because his timetable was so full, he was going here and going there, he was having to work something else. In the end it was going to be several weeks before he could get it so I said that I would go for it. It turned out that it was near Foinavon that’s not the name but it’s on the railway line over Slochd Summit so that rules out Forsinard so of course the Inverness train is the place to go. I checked on the timetables, found the correct train and set off. I had to change at a big station to catch one of the stopping trains that went up the Highland line. The train pulled in and I checked with the guard that there was a local service coming up behind. All the doors closed and I thought that I’d missed the opportunity to leave the train but the door was opened from outside so I had to fight my way out. I found myself on some kind of temporary wooden platform which was just framework and no flats. There were people balancing awkwardly on there trying to enter the train and I was trying to alight. Other people who had already alighted were trying to work out how to go down to the main platform. I had to point them the way. This was a scene of total chaos as everyone who alighted from this train onto this wooden framework or whatever was trying to fight their way down to where everyone else was down on the main platform. I was thinking about all the things that needed doing, that I hoped that the car had enough fuel as it was getting late and I imagined that most places for fuel would be closed round here. I’d have to go to Inverness or Stirling or somewhere to fuel up and I hoped that everything else would be OK. I could imagine 1001 things that could go wrong between me picking up the car and brining it back home again.

I don’t know how this one started but I was working in the American embassy doing something, running errands. There was some kind of issue with the Russian desk in this large building and the Russians suddenly started firing loaves of bread over to the Americans. I caught a few and stored them up but they were coming over more and more and more. Eventually there was a pause so I walked across the hall to the Russian desk, found their senior officer, thanked him very much for sending all the bread to me but I told him that I now had enough fresh bread that I needed so if he wanted to send me any more could he make sure that it was frozen so that I could keep it in store. This was greeted by stunned silence throughout the building. After I had said my little piece I walked back to where the American desk was. I was beckoned over to the desk of the Ambassador’s personal secretary. She said “don’t you ever do anything like that ever again” but she was laughing and so was everyone else. I imagined that although i’d been told off, that everyone else was really quite sympathetic and really quite pleased that I’d gone out there and confronted them over it.

We were a big group of teenagers last night wandering around the streets of Crewe. I can’t remember how this worked out but we ended up at the house of a girl to do something. Her mother came to the door and in the end she fetched this girl. We were all around the back having something of a laugh etc. This girl was being quite chatty and quite friendly. Then it became time for us to leave so I asked her for her ‘phone number. She was possibly playing a game and in the end ended up trying to give me her father’s ‘phone number. She said that she could always remember it because it was 8 over 6, the 6 numbers at the end. Of course I immediately told them what it was, which was 675000 (which of course it isn’t). She gradually warmed a bit and in the end asked me for my ‘phone number. I didn’t have a card on me so I had to borrow a card off someone else, try to write my number but we didn’t have a pen that worked. In the end she decided that she would ‘phone me so that I’d have her ‘phone number and she’d have mine. That was what she did. But all of this took ages and there was much more to it than this but I can’t remember now. It was another one of these dreams that slowly developed into something extremely warm and pleasant and the type that I would want to carry on for ever. I awoke in a night sweat, which I haven’t had for a good few months. “I wish that this could have gone on for ever, this particular dream” I said into the dictaphone, so being able to talk like that while I’m asleep shows you exactly what kind of effect it had on me.

But low-flying loaves of bread as well? As I have said before… “and on many occasions too” – ed … what goes on during the night is much more exciting than anything that happens to me during the day these days.

To take me up to shower time I had a play with a few more photos of the High Arctic 2019 and I wish I could remember the name of the hill on which the flagpole is erected at Dundas Harbour on Devon Island. All that I can think of, and I know that it’s not correct, is the painter Samuel Gurney Cresswell who sailed to the High Arctic as Lieutenant with James Clark Ross and then with Robert McClure.

If I had to pick one of my favourite Arctic explorers he would be up there somewhere, not the least for his quote “a voyage to the High Arctic ought to make anyone a wiser and better man”. Well, it didn’t work for me, as the events of the last few days of my 2019 trip bear witness.

After a shower and a weigh-in (and I’ve lost 600g) I had lunch and then cleared off with Caliburn to the physiotherapist. It’s my last session with her today as she moves on to pastures new. She’s fixed me up with a colleague, but I bet that the new girl won’t be anything like as nice as Sonia. She can massage my clavicles any time she likes.

The trip to Avranches was complicated today because of all the roadworks and road closures. I ended up having to meander through the countryside and then it took me a while to find the centre. And when I found the centre, to find the building where I needed to be.

The scanning machine was made by General Electric, one of my former employers, so I knew that it would be good. And eventually they shoved me through it.

The doctor came to see me afterwards and told me about my kneecap, and also the fact there’s some cartiledge damage too. She’ll send a report to my GP who I’ll have to go to see in due course, but I have to be aware that surgery is not ruled out

There was an Intermarché next to the clinic so seeing as it’s been a few years since I’ve had a good look around inside one, I popped in. But there wasn’t anything there much that interested me. I bought one or two bits and pieces and some frozen peas and beans, and that was my lot.

Then I had to fight my way back through the roadworks. And it was good to give Caliburn a decent run-out this afternoon.

Tea was a taco roll (seeing as I had bought some this afternoon) with the left-over stuffing from yesterday, with rice and veg and it really was nice. But I have plenty of mushrooms left so it looks as if it will be a potato and mushroom curry for tea tomorrow.

So a broken kneecap now. Whatever next? At the rate that bits are dropping off me these days I’m at the stage where I’m afraid to go to the toilet.

In fact I haven’t felt so nervous since I was standing in a toilet next to Shakin’ Stevens but that’s another story for another time.

Wednesday 26th January 2022 – I HAD A …

… lovely tea tonight, I really did.

Steamed vegetables with vegan veggie balls all tossed in a really nice thick vegan cheese sauce. And for a change the vegetables were cooked to perfection and it really was delicious. I loved every mouthful of it.

fruit buns place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022Breakfast was pretty wonderful too.

Yesterday I forgot to mention that I’d finished the last of the Christmas cake, and what a success that was! Even the icing hardened off after a week or so.

Unfortunately the banana and molasses cake had gone the Way of the West over the last four weeks that it had been standing idle, and so I made another batch of fruit buns first thing this morning after the medication and these have worked really well yet again

It’s just a simple 250-gramme bread recipe but with only 2/3rd water and a very ripe banana mixed in, along with sunflower seeds, dried fruit of all kinds and varieties, desiccated coconut and about 100 grammes of brazil nuts ground into rather a coarse flour.

Of coarse … “he means “of course”” – ed … there will have to be some coarseness involved if I’m doing something, won’t there?

Not much last night though. After the heady and turbulent nights that I’ve had in the recent past with Zero, Castor, TOTGA and a few other of my favourite young ladies coming to join me in my nocturnal rambles for hours and hours on end, last night brought me down to earth with a bump. A guy a know from way back when and I were rewiring a car somewhere using bits of wire but there was a whole wiring harness from another scrap car and I was cutting a whole length of wire out of it (and the times that I’ve done that too in real life!). Someone asked me what I was doing so I explained. They were a bit upset thinking that I’d been doing it in a different way but it seemed pretty reasonable to me. Then I could remember that my father could get hold of wire as well so I told my friend that we were using wire with a blue and grey trace but we could get from my father some yellow and grey trace for it and maybe we should go down there. He asked what time my father was working so I could explained. he said that if I get down there to Church Lawton I could take the car because there’s a misfire that needs sorting out and we can pick up some wire while we’re there. Of course I wondered if he was actually going to be out there and be the one to bring me back. We had a discussion about that but I can’t really remember where we went to after that.

Added to this was that some girl was involved in this but I can’t remember why. There was also something about why were we using this black wire with different-coloured tracing in it when we could have had any-coloured wire from anywhere to do the job and the more wire with higher contrast in it the better.

And what was he doing putting in an appearance in my nocturnal rambles? He was one of these people who had a very volatile character and while we had something of a working relationship back in the 70s and early 80s it fell apart dramatically on 2 occasions, the second time for good.

And if you think that that’s interesting, you ain’t seen nuffink yet. I was taxi-driving last night, going down Market Street and then up the bank in Middlewich Street. There was some excitement when a couple of boys on bikes were blocking my path. I got rid of them. Just then I heard a voice cry “Eric!”. I turned round and it was someone on a moped. The name “Frank” came into my head so I said “hello Frank”. Then I realised that it wasn’t so I said “it’s not Frank, it’s Pete”. He used to be the landlord of a couple of pubs in Crewe but had had some severe mental health issues. I asked him what he was doing now and he replied that he was working as a family counsellor. He was off the drink and had himself properly organised, all this kind of thing. We had quite a chat. I asked where he was living. He said he was living with his aunt, or his mother, or someone else who had a motorbike but they were constantly rowing about things but staying together. Then he said “you’ll remember (a girl’s name) “. I looked and there was a girl there. “Last time you saw her, she was a tiny baby” so I looked and asked “how old are you now?”. “11” she replied but she was quite big for 11 so we had a chat and I had a hug which was very nice and we all started to chat about the old days.

And why did he become involved in my travels too? He was someone who lost his town-centre pub due to a redevelopment project and they transferred him to a different kind of pub on a decaying housing estate and his character didn’t suit the locals at all. The last I heard of him, 40 years ago, he was having some really serious and tragic problems and I haven’t heard a word or even thought about him since.

The reason why there wasn’t as much going on during the night as there has been just recently is probably because I didn’t go to bed until almost 02:00. After crashing out so dramatically yesterday I wasn’t in the least bit tired. But when you have an 07:30 start in the morning, there isn’t much time for voyaging.

There had also been my first nocturnal challenge too – and that was changing the batteries in the ZOOM H1 while I’m asleep and the net result of my experiences is that I’m going to replace my ancient Sony with like-for-like. I can change those batteries in my sleep with no problem.

After the meds I made my fruit buns and then after breakfast I carried on going backwards through the journal to update it to include the missing journeys and photos.

At 12:30 I ground to a halt and went for a shower, followed by lunch. And the pain in my jaw has eased considerably over the last couple of days so I tried some sandwiches instead of soup. And that worked fine today.

Later on I went off and parked Caliburn on the street outside Lidl and walked down for my physiotherapy session. And the exercises that she’s had me doing, I can feel the difference between my left knee and the bad right one. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I’ve broken both my knees once and the right one a second time in motorcycle accidents in my teenage years.

And then the right one a third time in a skiing accident in the 1970s – and next day drove my old BMC HALF-TON VAN all the way back to Winsford from Inverness and it’s not an automatic.

That van, known as “Bill Badger”, could tell a few stories, and you’ve heard a few of them, Alison.

It’s a good job that I went in Caliburn to the physiotherapist because I had a funny turn in Lidl – a week of inactivity hasn’t been kind to me by the looks of things.

The bill in Lidl was enormous, but seeing as I haven’t been shopping for almost 3 weeks it’s not a surprise. But they did have these tactile glove on offer again and they are great for photography in the winter, if I ever get back to the High Arctic, which these days is looking more and more unlikely until I learn to sail.

On the steps I bumped into my neighbour from up above and we had a chat, then I came in here to put away the frozen food, make a coffee and collapse into a chair. That was hard work.

Now that tea is over and the washing up done, I’m off to bed. Despite my bad night I’ve kept going all day which is good news but I still can’t motivate myself. maybe a good sleep might recharge the batteries, but I dunno.

And in any case, as I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … what goes on during the night is much more exciting than anything that happens to me during the day and I wouldn’t exchange any of that for anything else – except if it were to happen in real life.

But fat chance of that.

Saturday 22nd January 2022 – I’VE DONE SOMETHING …

… else today that I don’t normally do and haven’t done for years, and that it to take a couple of painkillers.

Usually pain doesn’t bother me all that much but the pain in my jaw today has been agony and if I were a football coach I’d seriously be contemplating taking out all my teeth and fitting seats instead.

Things weren’t so bad this morning if I remember correctly – and I can’t remember very much because it was something of a mad scramble to leave the bed. I’d switched off the alarm at 07:30 and thought “I’ll just give it 5 minutes” and the next thing I remember was that it was 07:59 and I hadn’t make it out of bed when the 08:00 alarm went off.

So after the medication it was a slow start to the day but eventually I managed to transcribe the dictaphone notes. And there were piles of them too. I was making myself something with chips last night and I wanted more chips so I went to find another potato. But the only potatoes that I could find were far too big for what I wanted. While I was doing that I was at the back of the shop. We were having problems with all sorts of people who were coming in and out of the shop and trying to come through to the back which of course was off limits. Then one of the younger girls shouted and said “an educated while man has just gone out of the back door” so I dashed out to see. The back door had been left wide open and there was a car on the back with a broken wheel which I think I must have heard pull up because I heard a strange noise a few minutes earlier. Then I was on my way home. It was North America. There were kids playing around. One kid jumped up to grab hold of a balcony or something on a first floor and worked him or herself along to where there was a wall where they could lower themselves down and walk away. Another kid did the same thing and became tangled up with the first kid and they couldn’t move. Someone shouted for help so someone came out of a nearby house. The 1st kid took it upon himself to leap off so he swung off with his hands. He fell on the pavement really awkwardly near where I was so I started to go over to see him

We’d been skiing, a party of us, but the weather wasn’t really good enough. There wasn’t really all that much snow. I’d started out by being in Montreal and was telling a few people about my trip somewhere. I mentioned that the snow was about a metre deep which took them by surprise. They thought that the snow was more like here, basically an iced-over covering. Then we were preparing to go skiing. There were several girls in our party but one in particular I was quite fond of. As it happened when she came to rent her ski equipment I was already in the queue so I fetched her equipment for her. We chatted a little but she didn’t seem to be very enthusiastic but she didn’t seem keen to wander away either. Skiing was extremely difficult because you were OK on the flats and on the edges but it was the transition from the flats to the edges that caught out a lot of people. It wasn’t really enjoyable. When it went dark we came back and I collected up the equipment. I didn’t want to be away too long because there was some kind of dance or disco that night and I had my eyes set on persuading this girl to come with me. I was busy trying to fire myself up to some kind of positive mood because when you feel positive things seem to go much easier. When I went to hand in this ski equipment there were loads of people in suits, businessmen, hogging all the way round the bar and you couldn’t get to the bar at all to hand over your things, never mind order a drink or anything with all of these businessmen types in the way and they didn’t want to move. Even when the Chancellor of the Exchequer turned up no-one would make room for him. All the time I felt that it I don’t organise myself very soon I’ll miss my opportunity such as it is with this girl, aren’t I? And we’ve been here before, haven’t we?

I’d had to go to the hospital in Granville so off I went. It wasn’t situated where it is but beyond LeClerc on the road to Villedieu. I’d been there doing a few things, talking to a few people whom I’d met on holiday with Adventure Canada. By the time I’d finished, I’d written a letter so I said goodbye to a few of these people but one of these people just totally ignored me which I thought was strange. I looked in at the reception desk but the people I’d been talking to had said about the hospital that was somewhere else in the town is closed after 11:00 so we’d been making jokes about “what happens at 11:30 if you cut your finger off?” etc. I went to the reception but there was no-one there so I took their sellotape and sealed up my letter. The receptionist came and I asked her about the hospital. Where do you go?. She told me of a hospital somewhere to the north 25 kilometres away which was a different on to the one that someone else thought was the nearest. So I left and went down to the car park. I had three vehicles on the car park, Caliburn, my red Cortina estate and another one that I’d bought. When I arrived, the other vehicle had gone, the red Cortina estate had been set on fire and had been put out and the back doors of Caliburn were open and everything that was in the back except for one or two little bits and pieces had been taken. I thought “I know what’s going to happen next. They are going to turn up having taken away one vehicle and take away the red Cortina estate” so I started it up ready to move it. I had a look at it and with the paintwork really blistered, even though i starts and runs the police are going to be quite interested in the state of the vehicle. I’m going to have to spend a weekend just preparing it and giving it a quick spray-over just so I can continue to use it without being unduly bothered by the police. And then what was I going to do with Caliburn because if they came back and I’d removed the red Cortina and that had gone, they’d take Caliburn away

So there I was on my way back, having stepped back more-or-less into the previous dream where I’d stepped out, driving past a house and a woman I know from here was tending her garden. I waved to her. A little further on she had some kind of cockerel that I didn’t recognise so I stopped to ask her the breed of the bird. She pointed to a heap of rubbish on the other side of the road. She said “there’s a letter for you over there in that heap of rubbish about an appointment. I went over to have a look and it was all the stuff out of the back of Caliburn, the false floor, the mattress and several other things. A little further on there was Caliburn. He’d been hit in the side so there was a huge dent down the side, a window was broken so they had obviously hit it with another car to move it. Everything had gone out of the back except a few bits and pieces. Strawberry Moose was there so I rescued him. There was no real point in doing anything with Caliburn because just hitting him with that car had damaged him irreparably. There was absolutely nothing to be done. It wasn’t even worth taking away the stuff that was still in the back of it.

And all of that news about Caliburn and my red Cortina estate was enough to put anyone off.

By the time that I finished all of that it was lunchtime so I went to make my sandwiches. And they ended in the bin too because by now with my aching jaw I couldn’t eat them. It was soup with pasta, and aren’t I glad that I bought that job lot of vegan soup from Noz when I did?

This afternoon I finished off the dictaphone entries and started to edit and re-upload some of the previous journal entries that were incomplete. I’ll finish the others in due course

Tea was an overcooked pasta with overcooked veg in a vegan cheese sauce. And it was still difficult to eat. I’m hoping that whatever it is that is causing this pain will go away pretty soon so that I can have some nice things to eat. If I carry on like this much longer it will be soup and ice cream and nothing else.

But not tomorrow. It will be toast and porridge, with pizza for tea, unless something dramatic happens.

Friday 31st December 2021 – CALIBURN IS BACK …

… at long last. And I’m lying down in a darkened room with a damp towel over my head recovering from the shock of seeing the bill. It was not pleasant.

And having broken the whizzer yesterday, my tale of woe and misfortune continued this morning when my little dictaphone – my constant travelling and bedside companion for the last seven or so years, went tits-up, much to my great dismay.

And having gone to LeClerc for some lemon syrup to make my hot lemon drinks and having walked away from the shop with just about everything except the lemon syrup, it’s really not my day today.

At least there was some stuff on the dictaphone from sometime during the night, as I discovered some time this morning. I’d been in hospital having all these tests done to me. Finally they took me to some kind of operating theatre or something where there were all these grotesque people waiting for some kind of surgery or lying on a bed. I was just so uncomfortable there. I couldn’t look at anything, just focus on the wall, all this kind of thing, not look around anywhere. At one stage I felt my oxygen cable being tugged so I had to walk to follow it so they could disconnect me from the other peron who was attached to the end. Then they said something like “right, Mr Hall, you can go”. But I didn’t know what they were doing or trying on me, or anything. They hadn’t even started. There was a bowl of something or other and I was looking for some medication in it, some kind of bean, trying to sort my way through. The taxi driver who transported me turned up. He asked “how much did we charge you for the Isle of Man the other day?”. I replied “I don’t know. Didn’t they pay you?” “No” he replied. “All the trips for this week haven’t been paid yet. You really ought to get yourself organised”. I replied “how the bl** he** can I get organised when I’m in here having all these tests? I have no vehicle and I don’t know what the he** I’m doing or what they are doing to me?”. I was having a really good moan and complain about this because I was totally fed up

Later on we were in Italy running the taxis and I had to go to the bank on my way to work to take the money. There was a bike handy, a really expensive type of posh bike so I got on it and cycled off towards the bank. People were noticing it because of the type that it was. I suddenly realised that it didn’t have any brakes. I had to drag my foot along the floor to slow it down or stop it. I reached the bank and had to leave the bike outside. I thought “I hope that i’m not going to be long”. I went into the bank just as they opened and put the cheques on the counter. She pointed out that one cheque hadn’t been signed and the amount hadn’t been entered in the box so I went to do it. Then I noticed that it was an odd amount of money so I thought that I would have to make this up out of my own pocket and this is going to take a while. The bike was outside and I wondered how long would the bike stay outside while I’m in here doing this before someone runs off with it.

Leaving the bed at 07:30 – well, the least said the better about that. I’m having a bad time right now, yet again.

Nevertheless, I managed to make my bread this morning – another delicious loaf of bread that I forgot to photograph before I got stuck into it at lunchtime.

After lunch I telephoned the garage. The repairs were complete but now they can’t find the log-book which they need for the controle technique. He turned out his garage while I turned out the apartment and neither of us could find it. “Ring m back in half an hour” he said.

Half an hour later I rang him back. He had found it, right where it ought to be, in the glove compartment of Caliburn. “Come round in half an hour”.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021On leaving the building, I went down to the end of the car park to have a look down onto the beach.

The tide is well in right now so there isn’t a lot of beach at the moment, but a dozen or so people have managed to find enough so that they can have a little fun before the beach is swamped.

And not like the other group of people yesterday. These are actually at the foot of the steps that lead up to the Rue du Nord so there isn’t all that much likelihood of them being cut off by the tide, which is just as well. A helicopter rescue isn’t cheap.

yacht baie de granville Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021While I was looking down onto the beach my eye was roving around out at sea too, as it usually does.

Today there was actually some maritime activity out there in the bay. A little yacht was buzzing around out there, not doing very much, it has to be said, but there it was.

Having taken a photo I leapt into the little Opel van and set off. Half an hour later the little Opel van and I were back there at the garage and having to wait yet another half an hour before they attended to me, Caliburn and I could finally leave.

And wasn’t my pocket lighter?

At Leclerc I did some last-minute shopping, including another cheap whizzer set. They didn’t have any decent ones and the delivery time on Amazon was unbelievable. No next-day delivery with the Christmas and New Year rush on. And as I said, I forgot my lemon syrup.

But they had some breaded quornburgers in the “end of range” stuff and they are now in my freezer. I do like those, with baked potatoes and steamed veg tossed in vegan butter.

Throughout the day when I’ve not been doing anything else I’ve been editing that sound file that I started the other day. That’s now done and ready for a second run-through.

There are just two more to do and I’ll start those tomorrow. I was going to make a start on them when I returned but for some unknown reason I seem to have fallen into the pit again and I can’t climb out.

Nevertheless, I managed to make tea – taco rolls with the rest of the stuffing left over from yesterday, and then I came back in here to listen to MY NEW YEAR’S EVE ROCK CONCERT.

And if you missed it, you can hear it again tomorrow at 21:00 CET, 20:00 UK Time and 15:00 Toronto time.

Here’s hoping that I’m in a better humour tomorrow than I am right now.

But before I go, may I wish you all a very Happy New Year, with everything that you wished for other people in 2021. It was a dreadful year last year and it shows no sign of improvement. But let’s all hope that we’ll see many other much happier years in the days to come and that we can all go off and do things.

Thank you all again for your support over the last year. I love you all.

Thursday 30th December 2021 – I’M STILL HERE …

… and so is the little Opel van.

Caliburn is not and I finally know why. Apparently they were struggling to remove the rear disks and in doing so, sheared off a wheel bearing. It took them several hours to extract the pieces and then they had to order a new bearing as well as a new set of rear disks and pads

“Ring us tomorrow early afternoon and we’ll tell you where we are”. As it happens, I’m not interested in knowing where they are. I’m far more interested in knowing where Caliburn is.

The big issue with jobs like this is that oxy-acetylene welding is a thing of the past. No-one has the equipment these days. When I was car-dismantling in the 70s and 80s some heat from my oxy-acetylene bottles never failed me. That welding course I went on in the 1970s was worth its weight in gold and I still have my equipment down at the farm.

But to be honest, it just wasn’t my day today. In the middle of making my hummus and the motor burnt out on my little whizzer.

That’s not really a surprise though. When I moved here I bought everything new, but the cheapest possible so that I could have everything at once. And then, when things break down one after the other, buy something expensive and decent quality that will last longer than I will.

It’s a shame that Caliburn wasn’t ready because I had intended to pick up a new whizzer on my way to fetch him. But that looks as if it will have to wait.

And don’t get me started on this morning. I heard the alarm go off but I couldn’t force myself out of bed. It was 08:55 when I finally crawled from my stinking pit.

Mind you, when you see where I’d been during the night, you’ll understand why I was so tired. I started off with my brother and someone else. There was something about DVDs, “get your free DVD here if you join up” so I thought that I’d join up. Everyone laughed saying that i’d been hooked, that kind of thing but I thought that while I’m already buying a reasonable amount of DVDs as it is, so if there’s a way to do things better then I’m all in favour. I had this big hook and my prize if you like was that I had to go and hook this statue thing with this stick with a hook on the end. I managed to do it. I hooked this statue and much to my surprise it came alive. It was actually my little Inuit friend from Uummannaq. I explained “it looks like I’ve won you. Aren’t I the lucky one?”. We had all of us a bit of a laugh and a joke. I had to think about how our sleeping arrangements would be because everyone back at my place was just sleeping in one room. I thought that if I had a beautiful girl to keep hold of, there’s no way that I was going to sleep with anyone else other than her. We were chatting and joking as well as pondering over these questions. As we came closer to home things started to become a little more serious and the question of looking after her came up. I said “don’t worry, I’m really going to look after you and I promise that for ever”, those kinds of words. The biggest issue that I had was that my wife was actually pregnant at the time and I wasn’t quite sure about how I was going to manage to fit everything around how it was supposed to be and how I would like it to be without there being all kinds of complications cropping up. But here I am, getting the girl yet again, and a girl I actually wouldn’t mind getting too.

Not ‘arf, hey?

There was something about a baking programme on TV. I was showing how to bake cakes in a barbecue. I had this beautiful old cake tin that I was using. I thought “it’s a shame about this beautiful old cake tin but it’s going to have to go in a good cause”. The producer said something to me “do you know how many co-stars you have used in this series of programmes?”. I replied “not really”. He answered “you’ve used well over 100”. I replied “rubbish! I’ve used about 12 because many of them have come back for a second and third time”. There was something similar with something else but I can’t remember what that was. Again he quoted a number and I mentioned that it must be much less because I’m reusing this object quite regularly during this series of programmes

By now I had stepped back round again with my Inuit friend and we were getting married. There was a priest arranged and everything. I can’t remember how this developed from here or reality in the case of a barbecue like this in the middle of the street. How this fitted in somewhere I really don’t know.

Later on I was back in one of my previous dreams but I can’t remember which one now. I had a loaf of bread that had a cheese flavour in it. I thought that this was really good when you are making sandwiches. It brings everything out and makes the sandwich nicer

Here I am back in one of these previous dreams again, trying to hook up a trailer to a spaceship. It was extremely complicated, especially when the spaceship is only for a 9 year-old girl and we’ll be travelling the galaxy visiting all these far-off places with this contraption.

The girl was dressed in a bright blue long dress and leather boots and so on. The marriage ceremony between us was about to take place now and I couldn’t see a way to hope to get out of it, and where that came from and what that was all about, I really don’t know at all..

There was a family living near us, a man, his wife and two daughters. I was very fond of one of the daughters and wished that I could know her better. We were preparing to go on holiday to North Africa (as if that would ever happen). Just as we were about to leave we had a notice that Eva, the daughter whom I liked, had died. By this time it was too late to do anything. We were about to go on our way so we headed off and reached North Africa. We were sitting in our car in a car park and for some reason I couldn’t make the windows go down. Then a council pickup pulled up alongside us. The guy tapped on the door on the other side of the car and coupled up his mobile phone to, I dunno, one of my sisters or someone. It turned out that Corinne, the mother, had died of a brain tumour. Of course that was devastating. So we discussed illnesses, who’d had what and how it had been announced and so on

I’d been on my travels around Kettering inspecting a couple of offices and staying in a B&B. I’d seen a photo of ships that had sailed up the river to Kettering back in the Middle Ages and we’d had a good talk about that. When it came for me to go I had an enormous amount of difficulty packing and I couldn’t fit together everything I wanted. I had so much and it wouldn’t go in my suitcase. 2 small boys who lived in this house came to help but they didn’t seem to do very much. Eventually I arrived back in the main office. I was told that the General Manager wanted to meet me at 09:00. It completely went out of my head and at 09:15 someone else came to see me, asked me what I thought about the area around Kettering and asked me if I wanted to take charge of the office there. I basically said yes but on provision that Nerina’s transfer to an office in East London was cancelled because we were living in Huntingdon and she was working locally. I was travelling down to London every day and it seemed to make no sense whatsoever for me to end up back working locally for her then to travel all that way. The idea of her having a transfer down to London was so that we could move house together and not have very far to travel. Suddenly I remembered this appointment so I dashed over to see the boss. He had cerebral palsy or something and was in a real state of ill-health. As he was talking to me he was having health crises and I had to apologise because I didn’t know how to help him with his health issues. In the end it was settled that I would go and work in the Northampton area. So the first day, Nerina and I decided that we would take the train to the new office. We were waiting at the railway station and there were all kinds of people there including several guys with huge, enormous boxes of stuff. It was more like a tram stop. The tram eventually pulled up and it was crowded. There were no seats so we fought our way on. Nerina who by now had transformed herself into some other girl but I don’t know who ended up talking to a woman about her hairstyle and her hair colouring.

So you can see that it was a very busy and … errr … mobile night. I didn’t half do some travelling around.

What was even worse was that it took me all the morning to type out those notes – with a break for breakfast and to try to make my hummus too.

This afternoon I attacked a few of the arrears on the dictaphone again to try to bring them down to some kind of manageable number. And that took longer than it ought to have done too.

F-GIKI place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021Of course, I have to go out for my afternoon walk to stretch my legs.

And almost immediately as I stepped out of the front door of the building I was overflown by an aeroplane. She’s one of our regulars – F-GIKI a Robin DR.400-120 Dauphin 2+2, chassis number 1931 from the aero club.

She took off at 14:47 and landed back there at 15:20, which seems quite strange to me because my photo was taken at 15:56. It looks as if the clock on the internet database is set to the wrong time zone today. It usually matches up pretty well with my own recorded times.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021Having dealt with the issue of the aeroplane, my next stop was to see what was happening on the beach.

Firstly, there wasn’t all that much beach for anything to be happening on. But that half-dozen or so people down there were managing to conjure something up on what little bit of beach there was.

And if they don’t get a move on and sort themselves out, they may well find that they will cut themselves off from the steps back up to the top. They are a good 100 yards or so away and the tide comes in really rapidly down there.

people on path pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021With nothing happening out in the bay here I set off down the path towards the lighthouse.

Yesterday here in France we had a whopping, massive total of 208,099 cases of Covid, all brought out to the rural areas by the crowds quitting Paris for the holidays. And as you can see in this photo, the only person with a mask was wearing it underneath his chin.

It really makes me wonder what has to happen to make people realise that this virus is going to be out of control very quickly and then there will really be some tragedy. Not just for those dying, but for those with permanent damage.

And then the thousands of people who can’t go to hospital for any other kind of treatment because there’s no room at the inn.

person sitting on rocks pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021It’s not just me who feels the need to escape the company of other human beings with all of this going on right now.

Never mind the bench down at the end of the headland, some people want to be even farther away from what is called “civilisation” these days. This guy is perched on a rock right at the end of the headland and the only way on from her eis downwards.

And that’s why I’m taking something of an interest in people perched on rocks – it’s all to do with the events of mid-November, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall. I still haven’t fully recovered from that just yet.

yacht boats pointe de carolles baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021While I was walking across the car park at the far end, I noticed that there was indeed some activity out there in the bay.

As well as what looked like three kayakers down there, we also had a yacht having a sail around, enjoying herself in the last of the winter sunlight for today

The sky was quite clear too. The view down to the foot of the bay was quite impressive, without any enhancement of the image. And the houses along the coast at Jullouville and Carolles stood out quite well.

In fact, on the other side of the headland Jersey was quite clear, although I couldn’t make out Cap Fréhel down the Brittany coast.

ch681985 gerlean chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021There has been some activity down at the chantier naval over the last day or so.

We have one of the shell-fishing boats in there under repair just now, and as I have finally tracked down the French Governmen'(s register of fishing boats I can tell you that she’s called Gerlean.

She’s built of aluminium and is 9 metres long and is one of the 403 boats that hold a “sustainable fishing” licence that limits them to a catch of 900kg per day and bulots – a type of shellfish – of a minimum size of 47mm.

Back here I had a coffee and carried in transcribing the dictaphone notes in something of a desultory fashion. There are still plenty to go at but I’ll have another go tomorrow – and see if I can’t finish editing this sound file that I started yesterday.

There’s bread to bake too.

Tea was a stuffed pepper, thanks to my visit to LeClerc yesterday. So tomorrow, it will be taco rolls. And here’s hoping that Caliburn will be back home tomorrow as well. Although I’m not optimistic. I have a feeling that Caliburn might be there for a while yet.

But at least I have his van here as hostage.

Wednesday 29th December 2021 – THERE’S ONE THING …

… about all of these issues I’m having about trying to have some work done on Caliburn during the Christmas – New Year period. And that is that I’m having plenty of exercise. My fitbit tells me that I’m up to 99% of my daily activity and as soon as I press “send” on this journal entry, I’ll take the rubbish out and push it up to over 100%.

This morning I struggled – really struggled – to leave my bed when the alarm went off at 07:30 (yes, I remembered to set it this morning). Having had a late night last night was probably responsible for that but I was having a chat with someone as well as doing some interesting work.

While I was asleep I was off on my travels again. THere was a big concert in Canterbury with loads of groups on. I was down there and I tracked down one or two but in the end someone pointed me to the direction of the organisers who had a shop there too selling all amplifiers second hand, everything that you need. The tod me who was on and when and where so I made a list of groups whom I wanted to see. I was talking to a couple of boys about this as well and writing a list of what I wanted to see. I happened to mention that I was a bassist and that excited them tremendously. They were very keen so I gave them my phone number. Then I was back in Crewe, making everything ready to leave to go back down to Canterbury again. I set off and I was a good way down the road towards the motorway. It was one of those situations where you had to drive west to pick up the motorway on order to go south-east but I realised that I didn’t have my jacket. I didn’t have the list of acts that I wanted to see or where they were playing. I set off anyway thinking that I can redo all of this when I arrive

There was also something about me being in a shop. The floor was very wet. All of a sudden my knee gave way again and I crashed to the floor. Of course everyone came to help me. I said that it wasn’t the first time that I’d had a similar incident to this – in this shop a couple of years ago. She went off to fetch the accident book to go and look through it to see if I was there and to see what remedy they had done to help me ease the problem that I was having

Later on there was something about some kind of list. It might have been a music list or a shopping list, I can’t remember now. Someone had to take me back home for something because my guitar was playing up. Through a few of the songs you could actually hear my guitar, a really searing Gibson lead guitar playing that wasn’t on the original copies. There was something else too but I can’t remember what that was.

And even later during the night I was back with this big rock concert again, going down to Dover rather than Canterbury) to watch these groups. On Saturday I’d been out with Liz and mentioned it to her but she didn’t know what was happening about the snooker final or anything like that. She said that she could make it if there was nothing preventing her. I had to go to find out which groups they were. I could remember four of them so in order to remember them I wrote them down on my stomach in biro and went back to see Liz to tell her, and wouldn’t my stomach be a gruesome sight for anyone?

After the medication and checking my messages I made a long-awaited start on work – and attacked a pile of dictaphone notes. As well as todays, there are a few previous days that have been transcribed and added in where they belong. There are now only … gulp … 27 entries that need to be transcribed before I’m up-to-date enough to let things slide into arrears once again.

When I’d had enough of that I attacked a sound file of an interview that we did a few weeks ago. The content of this one is far the best of all that we interviewed but the quality isn’t up to much.

And there’s so much that needs to fall by the wayside too. There’s still 4:30 to edit on the first pass but by the time that I knocked off, already over 50% has gone into the bin. There will be much more taken out oo, but I have yet another cunning plan for that.

Brain of Britain forgot to make his hummus this morning so I ended up with vegan grated cheese sandwiches for lunch. It made a nice change, I can tell you.

During the morning I made a couple of phone calls – firstly to my doctor for an appointment to renew my physiotherapy prescription and to obtain the final dose of Aranesp.

The second one was to the garage where Caliburn is currently residing. I should have called them last night but with Rosemary on the phone for as long as she was, they were closed when I called them.

Caliburn wasn’t ready, he told me, which was just as well that I didn’t turn up uninvited yesterday evening, but he should be ready at 17:00. And so accordingly at 15:30 I set off.

beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021Even though it’s a little earlier than normal, I went off to have a look at what was happening on the beach.

Firstly, it has to be said that there wasn’t very much beach for anything to be happening upon right now. The tide was well in and there was hardly enough room to swing a cat down there.

There was however a couple of brave people down there this afternoon on the little piece of beach that was at the foot of the steps. I’ve no idea what they were doing as I couldn’t see that far out and I only had the NIKON 1 J5 with its standard lens.

port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021From there I walked around the back of the building and down to the corner of the Boulevard Vaufleury and the Boulevard des 2E et 202E de Ligne.

There were a few trawlers in the inner harbour, so I noticed, but none of the little shellfish boats that I could see. The outher harbour was quite empty for a change and even the yellow Cherie d’Amour seemed to be out at sea this afternoon.

There was something else out in the bay, right down near to the Pointe de Carolles, as I found out when I examined the photo later. Whoever she is, she has a black sail rather in the style of Black Mamba, but it is not she, according to my shipping database.

place pleville le pelley Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021At long last I could go down the Rampe du Monte à Regret and then the steps to the bottom, because today they have cleared away the huts of the Christmas market.

That was very much a sad affair – just a dozen or so huts without a great deal of patronage. Had they installed them in the centre of town, say, at the Place General de Gaulle, they might have had much more luck with it.

So I trudged along on my weary way out through the town centre and up the long climb all the way to the roundabout right at the top, only stopping once for breath which is a great improvement. And climbing the four steps that I use as the guide to test my knee was much easier too.

Once on the flat I could push on to the garage, stopping at the Aldi for a can of energy drink to keep me going. I seem to be living on tha right now.

christmas market wooden chalets Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021As I came out of the supermarket, a council lorry with a couple of cabins from the Christmas market drove past.

Hence a very hurried (and rather blurred, unfortunately) photo as they roared past the car park.

17:00 I was told to be at the garage, and it was 17:00 bang-on when I arrived. It took me 80 minutes (including the stop at Aldi) to walk there. And there I found that Caliburn was a long way from being finished.

“If you can wait an hour I can lend you a courtesy vehicle” said the proprietor. Well, I need some shopping from LeClerc, which is about 500 metres away …

Back at the garage I had a half-hour wait and then the proprietor lent me the garage’s van – one of thse little Opel vans like a Berlingo. A typical mechanic’s van – nothing works correctly and there are warning lights everywhere, all of which will be repaired “as soon as we have a moment”.

“Give me a ring tomorrow evening” said the proprietor as I left.

And frankly, I’m worried. I can’t understand what are the problems in fitting a set of discs and pads onto the rear of Caliburn. Had I had my health, my tools and a decent place to work, I could have done the job myself in an hour or so. What’s going on?

Back here I made myself a glorious mug of hot chocolate and then arranged tea. And seeing that I now have some potatoes, it was baked potato with burger – a real one – on a bap.

Now I’m off for bed. I’m exhausted after all of my walking – especially now that I’m at 102%. And I still have a lot to do before I can stop for the New Year break.

Friday 24th December 2021 – MERRY CHRISTMAS …

… to all of my readers.

It’ll be Christmas Day probably by the time that you read this, and I’ll refrain from posting anything about the Public Conveniences on Crewe Bus Station because, regrettably, the whole Queensway Shopping Centre and Bus Station complex has been swept away in an orgy of demolition.

It just about managed 60 years of life before it was declared surplus to requirements and that tells you everything you need to know about modern construction.

But anyway, I digress … “once more” – ed.

After yet another turbulent night, I was once more wide awake at some ridiculous hour waiting for the alarm to go off although when it did, it still took me a good few minutes to force myself out of bed.

After the medication and checking my mails and messages, I had a cooking session. I’ve made a load of potato cakes.

There are some vegan sausages left from Leuven and a couple of tins of baked beans, so I’m going to have fried potato cakes, beans and sausage as a brunch over the festive period, with toast and mushroom paté. What’s the point of having Christmas if you can’t pig out?

After all, I haven’t bought any presents for myself this year so I’ll make up for it with food.

And then I had a cleaning session which was, as usual, 10 minutes cleaning followed by 20 minutes recovering, all the way up to lunchtime.

During the night I’d racked up yet another impressive amount of miles. I was in an apartment that I was renting somewhere and there was a problem with the water supply. It turned out that the cold water tank needed replacing. But to replace it was an exceedingly complicated procedure. It had to come out through the cellar wall into the public area down in the cellar and then lifted up which meant that you had to demolish the wall, which meant you had to fence it off to stop people coming through and helping themselves to other people’s possessions. Of course they were all blaming me in the first place for having done something to damage it. Someone described the action like something to do with eating a banana but this was going to be an extremely complicated procedure to take this water tank out and replace it with another more modern one that wasn’t broken.

Nerina and I were in Brussels visiting somewhere in the centre, looking up by the European Community. We were looking for a place to park the car. I found a corner to park on but a policeman came along to ask me to move so I went to move the car but couldn’t find a place and ended up back. The policeman was still there boxed in by someone else and he was giving them a lecture to move. In the end, with no place to park, Nerina gave me a pound and told me to park the car at a meter. Of course there were plenty of meters in the area so I went to look at them. It was something like £1:00 for 17 minutes and I thought that we would be here for at least an hour so I carried on until I came to the multi-storey car park at the European Commission. I went inside the building and asked where the entrance was. One person pointed across the road but that was like a little slot down which you posted your books so I asked someone else. He replied “yes, post your books down there and the guy at the bottom will deal with them”. I asked how you would receive them back and he had to think for a minute. After a while he admitted that he didn’t know. Incidentally he had a couple of motorbikes under tarpaulins on trailers there that were interesting me. I suddenly realised that we were only going to be there for an hour and I’d been away for half an hour already trying to find this place to park. This was getting rather ridiculous. I couldn’t find the entrance to this multi-storey car park no matter how hard I looked.

A little later I stepped back into that dream about trying to find a place to park the car. I was in the European Communities by now. I had this bag and I wanted to leave it somewhere where I could go off and look at a few things. But they wanted £5:00 to leave a bag so I replied “no, I’ll take it with me”. Anyway I went off to look at what I wanted to see and then ended up at a metro station that was called “metro” on a big, wide dual carriageway, an enormous place. One of the group told me off, told me that Michelle, whoever she was, was not feeling too well. I spoke to her on the phone and asked her if she was going home, was there anything I can do?. She replied that she wasn’t going to go home straight away but sit and relax. I said “I’ll come down and see you. Where are you?”. She replied “we’re in Brussels”. “Yes, but whereabouts?”. “I don’t know” she answered. “Can you see the European Community buildings?”. “I don’t know”. I said “well go outside and find something that looks significant and come back and tell me what it is so I’ll know where you are and where we can meet”. It took quite a while to persuade her what to do before she agreed to do it. That was one thing about this dream, that I hadn’t left my bag with these people because of this fiver issue but I realised that I didn’t have my camera with me to take any photos of what I was looking at.

During the rest periods I sent a Christmas greeting to all of the regular readers who have declared themselves to me over the last year or so. I don’t know why some of you are so shy as to not introduce yourselves, but I can’t send you my individual greetings, but rest assured that I am grateful for your support and I wish you all a very merry Christmas.

No lunch at lunchtime – instead, I hit the streets.

First port of call was at the Railway Station. My Old Fogey’s railcard expires imminently so that needed renewing. And with the odd money-off voucher for compensation for delayed trains, it wasn’t as expensive as it might have been.

Next stop was Aldi for a can of energy drink. It used to be once every few weeks a while back but these days it’s almost every time that I go out that I need an energy refuel.

Third stop was the Biocoop. They have nice vegan sesame-seed biscuits so I grabbed 150 grammes for my lunch. Biscuits and energy drink for lunch sitting on a bench in the street is somehow quite relaxing.

Finally I arrived at Espace Auto to rescue Caliburn. And here I hit a snag because he wasn’t ready. They had delivered the wrong parts.

No courtesy car available so I had them reassemble Caliburn and I drove him home – to take him back on Monday.

A quick tidying up and then Laurent came round. he had a listen to what I wanted him to do and then he dictated a pile of “supplementary questions” to edit into the monologues that we have been recording.

There were five interviews to do but we only managed 2. We’ll attack the others tomorrow.

Very kindly, Laurent invited me round to his house where he cooked a meal. I took the drink, the dessert (some of my delicious Christmas cake) and a vegan burger.

We had a good chat and he showed me a video of his trip up the Amazon from a few years ago, which was extremely interesting.

Back here now, I’m off to bed. Christmas Day in the morning so I’m having a nice lie-in, I hope. No alarm at all.

So if you are up before me, I hope that you have lots of nice gifts to unwrap.

Thanks for your support.

Thursday 11th November 2021 – I THOUGHT THAT I’D …

crack in Caliburn's windscreen place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021… I’d show you the crack in Caliburn’s windscreen.

According to the examiner at the controle technique this crack is in the field of view of the driver. It certainly is from where I’m standing taking this photo, but remember in Caliburn I’m sitting about a foot higher up from here so it’s nothing like in my field of view from the driver’s seat.

And that’s probably why, for every year since 2016 up until this one, nothing has ever been said about it.

There have been issues like this before. I’ve owned several Transits in the past and on one occasion I was stopped by a policeman for “overtaking on a blind bend”. It was certainly a blind bend for him low down in a Rover 2.6 but up in the driving seat of my Transit you could clearly see the road over the top of the hedge.

Still, not much I can do about it. It does really need replacing so I may as well do it to keep him happy

It does however remind me of the time that a nasty crack appeared on the wall of 10 Downing Street. But the police painted it over before Boris Johnson could read it.

This morning I had quite a fight to leave my bed. And when you see the notes that I transcribed off the dictaphone you’ll understand why.

We were at a holiday camp, a group of us, last night. There had been something going on about some kind of play or something like that and we were all going to have a meeting. We’d booked the place for a couple of days but the previous day while we were there the guy in charge went missing. Next morning there were all kinds of rumours flying around. Some girl came over to our chalet and just walked straight in – she didn’t knock or wait at the door or anything. She said “did you hear the news? So-and-so has been to see the authors of the play and started work already”. I replied “I knew that he had gone yesterday to do this but I want to stress that I knew that he had gone yesterday, but no that I knew yesterday that he had gone”. She replied “all the party is breaking up now and people are going home”. I said “we’re here for another day yet”. It was pouring down with rain, a real wet day. She said something like “you’ll be on your own here. You know that, don’t you?”. I answered “it probably suits me fine to be on my own like that”.

Later on I was with some young girl of mixed race with curly hair. I’d bumped into her 4 or 5 times in one day in London once and since then I’d been bumping into her every now and again. I’d actually started to chat to her because I thought she was nice. She was working in an office somewhere. One morning she’s gone in late to the office and gone to hang up her coat. Seeing as there were 4 or 5 coats in there already she decided not to and to hang it somewhere else. Then she went to see her supervisor to say that she had to leave in the afternoon. The Supervisor said that she couldn’t. The manager said that she had an exam to take in connection with her qualifications so that was going to be OK. Later on that afternoon I was with someone else when this girl walked past me and went down a side street that was quite steep. When she was halfway down she beckoned to me and made a gesture something like “when I’m at the bottom, tell him” – and I couldn’t see to whom she was pointing – “to come down”. I thought to myself “perhaps I ought to go down and have some interpretation of this. Wouldn’t it be a good idea,”. So I asked my friend “do you think that I ought to go down and see what she wants?”. My friend said “no, I don’t think she wants us and you’ll be very lucky if you see her again”. I replied “I’ve seen her so often just recently that I’m sure that there will be more to it”. I had a feeling that there was something nefarious going on, that she was either going to do a robbery or a hold-up or something. Everything about this seemed really suspicious, even not hanging up her coat with the other people looked suspicious to me.

There was something else about this girl as well, something to do with old-time radio. There was an old machine that was available. I’d gone to check the plugs in my room but the centre-piece of the plug where you plugged in the appliance was loose. I told my father and showed it to him. My idea was persuade him to let me have this radio so that I could listen to this girl. We found a few grub-screws but they weren’t the correct ones. They were all screws with broken heads that we’d used in carpentry or something. he said that he’d get round to it. Then he said to one of my sisters “isn’t one of you girls going to start putting a bolt across on your room now?”. One of them replied “there’s this thing, this machine that they say we can travel all around the world from our bedroom in 24 hours. Why would anyone want to do that?”. My immediate response was “why wouldn’t anyone want to do that?”. This started to lead to a discussion between my father and my sister. In the meantime I thought to myself “I’m trying to get hold of him to get him on his own so that I can ask about this radio so that I can get on and listen to this girl but at this rate I’m never ever going to do this. There were just so many distractions again”.

There was another thing about entertainment on board a ship and this girl was in charge of it. I was keen to sign up for the entertainment and everyone was surprised but it was a chance to talk to this girl. Someone said “she won’t be interested in you. She’s a professional hostess and has thousands of people every week whom she sees”. I replied “yes, but you live for the moment and you never know what the future holds.

So that’s three times that this girl put in an appearance last night – with me stepping back not exactly into the same place where I left it but pretty close to it with the same people showing up. There’s definitely something going on right now that I can’t explain.

A little later there was a group of us walking somewhere. We were discussing my dreams and the teacher said that that’s a fascinating subject and wished that she could have a copy. I said “I’ll give you a copy if you like. I write them down”. She seemed to be quite keen at first and then she started to make excuses “I don’t have my computer here” and a few other things like that. I replied “if you really want them you can have them. It’s not a big problem for me”. We went past a house and there was a woman outside. Someone pointed to some footsteps on the floor. The woman said “that’s my son and his football boots”. She had a look in the car and said “you can see where he’s sat when he’s come home and where he’s been looking for his stuff – first turning his head that way and then another way”. This woman rang a bell with me as she had some old cars. I asked where her old cars were. She replied “the woman who lived here has moved away”. I said “I know that she’s gone and taken some cars with her but I’m sure that you had a few old ones”. She pointed to an Austin A35 up by the hedge against the road and there was another one further down in the garden at the bottom. There was something else that I couldn’t recognise. She was talking about these cars and I said “I’m sure you had much more than this at one time”.

So is it any wonder that leaving the bed was rather problematic.

Having put the spare battery on charge last night, it goes without saying that Caliburn started fine this morning. We went to Aldi and while they had plenty of stuff in and plenty of choice, they didn’t have much of what I wanted. And watching girls probably not yet in their 20s dragging four tiny kids around the shop made me realise that this really is rock-bottom shopping.

Not that I’m elitist or anything like that but I’ll probably end up back shopping in Lidl.

Back here I had a coffee and a fruit bun and then attacked the dictaphone notes. And I don’t know what happened today but I had a really good shift and actually finished all of them and updated every one of the journal entries with the missing entries.

And apart from the family and Nerina, I had loads of exciting visitors. Miss Stoke on Trent was there a few time as was Percy Penguin, who doesn’t feature in these pages half as often as she deserves.

TOTGA showed her face too as well as some other people who flit in and out but one surprising omission was Castor. She didn’t turn up at all and I’d swap any appearance of anyone else in my nocturnal voyages for a visit from her.

Something really strange happened on that boat that night and I wish that I knew what it was.

Meanwhile back at the ra … errr … apartment I went for lunch with my nice new bread and then went outside for half an hour to tidy Caliburn a little and to find the screws to reassemble the door panel. I eventually tracked them down and now he’s looking so much better.

However, I wish that I knew where the spring clip that secures the window winder onto the axis sprung off to that day when I levered it off.

man with paddleboard people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021Another interruption, if there hadn’t been enough already, was my afternoon walk.

Down at the wall at the end of the car park I peered down onto the beach and was astonished to see all of the crowds down there.

There was even someone negotiating the currents with a paddleboard and I bet that he would have known all about it had he fallen off into the water.

And have you noticed the length of the shadows these days? The sun is sinking lower and lower in the sky.

yachts baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021It wasn’t just seeing all the people on the beach that was surprising either.

Out there in the bay one of the sailing schools from somewhere was being quite adventurous. Four of their boats had gone way out from shore and were busy parading up and down.

And that reminded me – I want to see what the heart specialist has to say about my heart next week so that I can plan about going sailing and going for a flight underneath a Nazgul. Things are building up here.

fishermen peche a pied beach place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021Further along on the beach there was plenty more activity too.

Out on the rocks at the water’s edge there was a guy casting his rod and line into the ocean, more in hope than in expectation I imagine. Remember that we have yet to see a fisherman with rod and line actually catch something.

There were a couple of other people down there too. I’m not sure what they were doing. At first I thought that they might have been doing some peche à pied among the rocks but it’s not very easy to see from this angle.

red microlight pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021As I left the building to come out I was immediately overflown by one of the little light aircraft from the airfield but I wasn’t quick enough to photograph it.

But never mind. As I was walking along the path an old familiar rattle from the distance told me that one of the powered hang-gliders was heading my way.

Today, we’re having the red one come to overfly us. The yellow one must be having a day off today.

And that reminds me that we haven’t seen the yellow autogyro for a while either. I wonder where he’s got to.

people on path pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021We’ve seen crowds on the beach, crowds out at see and even a couple of things up in the air so far.

There are crowds on land too and when I saw “crowds” I really DO mean “crowds”. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen so many people walking around on the path down to the headland before at this time of year.

Mind you, it’s nothing at all like mid-November today. It’s much more like the balmy early evenings on a mid-September day and I don’t recall there being anything like any wind to speak of either.

fishermen people on bench cabanon vauban pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021Walking down the path and across the car park I came down to the end of the headland.

There were crowds down there as well. usually, we might manage just a couple of people by the little stone cabin there if we are lucky but today there were what looked like a couple of families that were admiring the beautiful sun that was blinding me and the camera.

Further out on the end of the rocks at the water’s edge were a couple more fishermen having a go with rod and line. But I didn’t really pay much attention to them.

joly france ferry terminal port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021Instead I cleared off down the path on the other side of the headland.

Over at the ferry terminal this afternoon in a foot or so of water was one of the Joly France ferries to the Ile de Chausey. The older one I reckon because, as you see, there’s no step in the stern.

And for once, they’ve folded up the crane correctly.

Nothing else happening out there. L’Omerta is still settled in the silt and the portable boat lift is still in the middle of the chantier naval with its wheels lying by the side.

Back here I made a coffee and then waded through another pile of photos from that rock concert a couple of weeks ago.

That took me up to tea time and steamed veg with falafel and vegan cheese sauce which was delicious.

Tomorrow I’m busy. There’s a public meeting about the twinning arrangements between Granville and Uummannaq and as I know Uummannaq and some of its inhabitants very well, I’ve been asked by the radio to go and record it and interview a couple of people there.

There’s also a rock concert in town to which I’ve been invited but I don’t know how I’m going to find the time to go.

First task though will be to find the spare battery and the two battery chargers for the NIKON 1 J5. Before I posted the camera off, I put them somewhere safe so I wouldn’t misplace them, so that means that it will be another 5 years before they next see the light of day.

Wednesday 10th November 2021 – MARITÉ IS BACK …

marité port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021… in port after her little adventure filming whatever it was that she had been filming during the week.

She crept back in on the morning tide and is now happily moored back in her habitual berth and the trawler Saint Gaud has cleared off elsewhere.

Caliburn is back too, but not for very long. The examiner at the Controle Technique didn’t like the crack in the windscreen that’s been there for five years and through four previous controles technique without so much as a mention.

He also needs his headlights polishing too so I’ll go out there with some toothpaste and an old toothbrush to deal with that one day later in the week.

And if I don’t have a decent sleep some time soon I won’t be here for very long either. You can tell just how disturbed it was by the entries on the dictaphone. I started out on my way to Court last night to defend myself against a VAT assessment. I’ve no idea why except that it was something quite old and I hadn’t a clue what it was so I’d just taken a pile of pens and notepaper to write down notes. I found an empty bench and went to sit down and started to rehearse my case. The judge who was sitting at his desk told me not to rehearse my case at all so that confused me even more.

Later on I’d been tidying up a huge pile of papers that were all over the floor, books and everything. It was getting worse and worse the more that I tried to tidy up, everything like that. No matter how much I tried, there was more and more stuff to unpack. Then there was something to do with a couple of friends who came round. We ended up driving back towards Manchester. We were talking about music but the guy wasn’t really listening to what I was saying so I didn’t say very much. When we returned we measured my wall out and found that there were a couple of plssterboards that were too low and needed building up. I took one off the wall to give to him. The we started talking about do he and his wife want to come round for tea or maybe a meal or something and put back the plasterboard but they had to have a look at all the food supplies they had lying around, put it away and see what went into the fridge and let me know

Some time later there was a netball match being played last night. I was on one team. It was strange that everyone except one player was packed into the defensive circle of his own team so there was only me and one girl from the other team playing upfield. We were playing with balloons and I had the upper hand but every time I passed the ball over to the pack to try to get it into the hoop the balloon burst and they had to produce another one. Some balloons were better than others and we never seemed to be making any headway with this. It was all just playing this netball in this one particular area trying to get into the attacking semi-circle

Finally there had been a new road built from Nantwich so although Chester was posted straight on down Welsh Row, Tarporley was for some reason posted off to the right on this new road. A little later on there was a girl driving an Austin A40 in nantwich who was heading towards Tarporley. She decided to take this new road to find out why it didn’t go on down Welsh Row towards Tarporley. At some point she’d parked up her car and was having a huge row with someone. She said something like “my car’s far too new to abandon just like that and walked back to get in her car to carry on down this road. I was there because I was interested in taking photos of the signposts to find out exactly what was happening.

After the medication and checking my mails and messages I cracked on with a pile of dictaphone notes from the backlog.

A few more days have been added to the updating and there’s another pile of notes ready to follow that lot tomorrow morning too. It kept me busy for for most of the morning and there’s only four days left to transcribe now.

They aren’t going to be done as quickly as I would like either because by now my turbulent phase was in full swing are there are mounds and mounds of stuff.

There were a couple of breaks in the middle of all of this.

home made bread place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021Firstly, I’d almost run out of bread here. And I’d almost run out of yeast too so I had to go with what I had.

For a change I spent quite some time kneading and rolling my dough and it’s come out quite well again. I must remember this technique for the future.

It actually tasted quite nice too and it would have been even better had it had more yeast in it. But I think that the mixture could have benefited from a little more water in it.

The second interruption was the nurse. He couldn’t come on Monday so he came today instead and gave me my Aranesp injection and also my ‘flu injection.

Now i’m injected to the hilt and safe against every known disease, so i’ll probably be run down by a bus as well.

While I was waiting for the bread to cool down I went to take a shower. And my weight is slowly going down. I could make it go down even quicker but experience has shown me that the quicker it comes off, the quicker it goes back on.

omerta port de granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021Having finished lunch I set the washing machine off and then set out for the physiotherapist, taking the NIKON 1 J5 with me.

L’Omerta was still moored up at the wharf underneath the fish processing plant, something that seems to be becoming a regular occurrence these days.

Strangely enough, I’d forgotten how to use the little camera and it took me a while to remember. It’s only been four months as well.

These days, my memory is becoming terrible. I keep on telling people that two things happen to you you when you reach my age.

  1. You forget absolutely everything that there is to forget
  2. I can’t remember what the second thing is


fishing boats victor hugo port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021While I was still finding my feet with the camera (I don’t ‘arf do some strange things) I noticed that the inner harbour was strangely deserted.

It seems as if all of the big trawlers and most of the little inshore fishing boats were out at sea this afternoon. There were just a few of the smaller inshore boats left behind – and L’Omerta of course.

But Victor Huge and Granville are still there too. A sad casualty of the Channel Islanders’ willingness to leap aboard the Brexit bandwagon despite the fact that, never having been in the EU, Brexit is nothing to do with them, has been the ferries that for a couple of centuries have been running between here and there.

One of the reasons why I came here was for the ferries – a good chance to exercise my sea-legs – but it’s turned out not to be.

pointing Rampe du Monte à Regret Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021Last time that we came down the hill in the Rue des Juifs we saw them erecting a scaffolding to enable them to continue the repointing on the wall at the Rampe du Monte à Regret that they abandoned a while back.

By now it’s all up and they have actually started work. And it doesn’t look to me as if they are apprentices or work experience trainees either but proper time-served employees.

That’s a shame really because there are so many traditional crafts that are rapidly dying out with no-one to carry them on.

To promote this kind of thing amongst the young and the jobless is a really good way of building up a reservoir of skilled workmen and women with a trade that is a meaningful and valuable occupation.

woman speaking into microphone rue couraye Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021Down the hill, through the town centre and back up the hill on the other side to the physiotherapist..

It would have given me great pleasure (well, a lot of things would, actually) to have said that I went all the way without stopping but I did actually stop once in the Rue Couraye – just to take a photograph though, not to catch my breath.

The woman was standing on the side of the road with a professional microphone into which she was talking and which seemed to be connected to something in the rear of that car.

Whatever that was about, I have no idea.

The physiotherapist had me doing kinetic exercises again because someone else was using the tilting platform. And right at the end she had me staning on something just 10cms wide, one foot behind the other while she threw balls at me to catch.
“your reflexes are really good” she said. Well, she didn’t. She actually said “vos reflèxes sont vachement bien”

It wasn’t for me to disillusion her by telling her that I spent much of my spare time in my teens and 20s as a goalkeeper and later as a wicket-keeper.

After she threw me out, then biting the bullet I headed off on foot to rescue Caliburn, stopping at Aldi on the way for a can of energy drink.

It’s all uphill to the garage – not very steep but long, long, long and it took it out of me but I made it there in the end.

Having paid the bill I went to collect Caliburn only to find that the battery was flat. One of the guys at the garage gave me a jump-start and so I went for a good long drive to put some juice back into the battery.

It was my intention to go to the shops for food but I didn’t fancy the idea of trying to have a jump start on a supermarket car park.

Back here I put the spare battery on charge just in case he won’t start tomorrow and then went to make a coffee. It was at that point that I realised that tomorrow is a Bank Holiday. I hope that one of the supermarkets in town will be open tomorrow morning.

There were some mushrooms lying around looking sorry for themselves in the fridge so I made another delicious curry with them. These ad-hoc curries with whatever is lying around are turning out to be quite nice.

So now I’m off to bed, to see where else I might be going tonight. And, more to the point, and more importantly too, who’s going with me. I’ve been having a few interesting partners on my travels just now and it’s a shame that they aren’t here in real life.

Monday 18th October 2021 – I ALMOST SET …

… a new record for my radio programme today. Bang on 10:50 and I was just about to save the final copy of the broadcast that I’d prepared when all the power went off in the building.

It took about 15 minutes for the power to come back on and then I had to add back in the very final segment of the programme. After all of that it was 11:15 when I finally finished, and that was something of a disappointment.

But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

It was yet another night where I was tossing and turning about for much of it, and that defeats the whole point of going to bed early.

When the alarm went off at 06:00 I fell out of bed after something of a struggle and crawled into the kitchen for my medication.

Back in here I checked my mails and messages and then set down to attack the radio programme. And I made good progress, even though I had a break for a coffee and later for breakfast.

When I had finally finished I leapt into Caliburn and shot off to Lidl. There’s no food in the house – at least, not fruit and salad for lunch – so I needed to stock up.

And as I was in Caliburn I stocked up with a few other bits and pieces too, including a fresh cauliflower. I fancy some real cauliflower cheese for tea one of these nights, and I can freeze the leftover cauliflower.

There was some stuff on the dictaphone from the night’s voyages too. I’d been helping my father put some hydraulic oil into someone’s crane. They had a tanker lorry with hydraulic fluid in the tank and the lorry had to be manoeuvred into position and the jib passed over to the filling hole on the crane. I had to help him do that and make sure that the oil didn’t overflow because they couldn’t get the tanker into position where the driver could do both things. Then it was time for me to go but I was covered in oil so I had a wash. I asked this girl how I was. She replied “your face is awful” so I washed that. Then she said that I needed to wash my hair so I washed it under the tap. All this time I was thinking that the bus timetables have changed. Someone gave me a bus timetable but the times weren’t for the bus stop in the immediate vicinity so I wasn’t sure how I would manage to catch the bus. I don’t know what happened next but later on I was walking through a forest trying to get to the station to catch the train. I noticed that there were 4 trains in the first half of the hour and none in the second. I had a feeling that I was going to miss everything. Going back to the bus by the way, at that time of night there was only 1 every hour and I didn’t have a clue what would happen if I missed the last one. We were walking through the forest. Someone met a woman and said “what’s happening about our pay rise?”. She said “I’m going through to make the dairies based on what’s been discussed so far”. The guy said “that means we are all going to receive 10%, does it?”. She burst out laughing and didn’t say anything.

After lunch I went for a shower (and had the first heat of the winter while I was doing it), set the washing machine off on a cycle (a clever washing machine, mine) and then headed off for town in the rain.

children's roundabout place Général de Gaulle Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021Down in the town I noticed that there was something going on.

In the Place Général De Gaulle there was a lorry there being unloaded and it looks as if they are erecting another children’s roundabout. Maybe they are plannign already for the Toussaint school holiday at the end of the month.

The walk up the hill to the physiotherapist was a lot easier than it has been of late. I only had to stop once for breath and I reckon that I might have pushed on further than I did before I ground to a halt.

Today I had a new physiotherapist and she put me through a severe examination. She’s worked out that there is a lot less force in my right knee than in my left knee and judging by the fact that the muscles in each leg were aching in different places after performing the same exercise, there’s a muscle or tendon issue as well.

At least that gives her an idea of how she is to deal with the issue.

mushrooms place semard Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021By the time that I left the physiotherapist, it was raining quite heavily. Luckily I had my raincoat with me.

There’s a tree that has been cut down in the Place Semard and when I had a close look at the stump, it had grown some magnificent fungi.

And you know how to tell the difference between an edible fungus and an inedible one?

The answer is quite simple. Before you go to bed, take one and eat it. If you wake up next morning, then it’s perfectly safe.

lorry and digger abandoned railway line parc du val ès fleurs Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021Down the hill in the rain, I came to where they are working on what used to be the railway line.

There’s a digger here digging a trench and tipping the excavated soil into the bed of the lorry. A little further down we can see some pipes so it looks as if they will be laying some drainage in the ditch.

You can’t see from here but a little further down they have cemented the right-hand side of the track and on part of it they have put some kerbstones in. It won’t be long before they will have finished this part of the track.

concrete hardstanding parc du val ès fleurs Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021Down the steps I went into the Parc Du Val Ès Fleurs.

At the bottom, we have in the past seen a weird collection of road signs but if you peer through the raindrops you’ll see that what we have here today is the base of a concrete hardstanding.

It beats me, whet they are going to be erecting here. The park is some kind of local showplace and I wouldn’t have thought that they would have permitted the erection of just any old building. It must be something important.

place docteurs lanos Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021From here I carried on down the road towards the square opposite the Ecole des Docteurs Lanos.

This is in quite a mess at the moment and looks even worse than it did last time that we were here. They don’t seem to have made very much progress with this part of the work.

If anything the piles of sand and gravel have grown considerably and there’s now a pile of pipework. I suppose that they will be putting a spurt on in due course when they have finished whatever it is that they are doing elsewhere with this task.

rue du boscq Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021Talking of which, looking behind me, there’s a lot been going on in the Rue du Boscq.

On the north side of the road – the right-hand side – they have installed the kerbstones now. You can see the drop in the kerb just behind the little yellow compacter and that would seem to indicate how high they are going to be building up the road surface.

All of the stakes on the other side seem to indicate where they will be installing the kerb on that side of the road. You can see the piles of kerbstones stacked up on pallets at the side.

concrete shuttering rue du boscq Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021Down at the other end they’ve already installed some of the kerbing, and there was some interesting carpentry going on.

At first glance it wasn’t easy to see what they were doing but a closer inspection revealed that it’s some kind of shuttering. That usually implies that a pile of concrete is going to be poured there. And I hope not because that will be ppretty awful.

By now the rain was coming down quite heavily so I headed off back home. I didn’t want to stay out too long in this weather.

trawlers returning to port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021And it wasn’t just me heading for home either.

As I peered through the mist I could see that all of the trawlers were on their way home after a day out at sea. They were coming home rather early too because the tide wasn’t all that far in and I imagine that it would be a while before the gates into the inner harbour would open.

But that’s not something that I was going to wait around to see because by now I was soaking wet and I had other fish to fry.

beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021When I reached the top of the hill I didn’t go straight home.

By now it was the time when I usually go out for my afternoon walk so I wandered off to see what was happening on the beach.

About the same amount of beach as there was yesterday but considerably fewer people as you might expect in weather like this.

And if you want to see what the weather was really doing, have a look on the extreme right-hand edge of the photo. You can see all of the water cascading out of the drain and down onto the beach to roll down into the sea.

yacht baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021One final thing to do was to look out to sea and to see what was happening there.

Of course, in this weather, you can’t see all that much. There was a yacht out there battling against the weather trying to find its way towards harbour.

Back here I had a nice hot coffee, took the washing out of the machine and then listened to the radio programme that I am sending off to be broadcast.

And it’s a good job that I did listen to it because the final segment had been missed off. I’ve no idea why. And so that was the task for this afternoon – to repair this programme and send it off.

Tea was a stuffed pepper and now I’m going off to bed. I have my Welsh lesson in the morning and need to be on form. I’m hoping that I’d have a good night’s sleep.

Saturday 3rd July 2021 – WHAT A HORRIBLE …

… afternoon I’ve had.

After my lunch I came in here with my coffee to do some work, and the next thing that I remember it was 16:55 and my coffee was cold by the side of my desk.

The confusing thing about this is that I don’t remember falling asleep. It was another one of those occasions where I seems to have switched myself off into a stupor or a cataleptic spasm or something, without any memory of being tired or anything.

What’s bothering me about this is the issue of driving. If I switch off while I’m driving without realising that I’m falling asleep, this could lead to a catastrophe that cold have unpleasant consequences.

But talking of driving, Caliburn and I were out this morning going to the shops as usual on a Saturday morning.

When the alarm went off at 06:00, I was up and about quite quickly even though I’d had a late night. After the medication I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out if I’d been anywhere during the night. There was something involving a huge serpent that had been slithering around somewhere and had been causing people to be trapped in their buildings and houses and so on. I had the idea at a certain moment that I was going to trap it and take it to the Government and let it terrorise the Government for a change. So I had everything arranged in my mind about what I would do but actually when I went to do it the serpent wasn’t there. The thing had disappeared. That was a big disappointment so I had to abandon my plans. The moment that I abandoned my plans the serpent came back and started to terrorise everyone else again.

After a shower, a shave and a general clean-up we set off for the shops.

new building at rear of noz Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallLast week at the back of the NOZ car park they had started building a new shop unit.

Although I had the camera with me then, I forgot to photograph it but I remembered to do so this morning. I wonder what they are going to be selling from that shop. I suppose that I’ll have to wait for a few months before I discover that. It’s not going to be a big shop that’s for sure.

At NOZ there wasn’t anything very much of any excitement – just some more vegan soup and a couple more small things and then I went off down the road to LeClerc for the rest of the shopping.

LeClerc had alcohol-free beer on special offer so I stocked up with some bottles. They had some more of those small vegan burgers so I bought another pack. I need to encourage them to stock more vegan products. Oven chips were on offer too so I bought a pack of those as well, although I’m not sure why I did that.

On the way back home we had one of these two-minute torrential downpours that soaked about everyone and everything in its path as it moved down the coast. But I was lucky to be able to make my way back home because there had been an accident or something right outside the entrance to the car park and there was total chaos.

And if that wasn’t enough, all the tourists have arrived now and the roads were jammed with people trying to find a parking space. I was glad to return home, where I had a chat with a neighbour who had arrived at the same time as me.

Armed with my toast and hot chocolate, I came in here and had a few things that I needed to organise for the next month or so and that took me up to a rather late lunch

After lunch I wanted to book my trip to Leuven and my hotel but the less said about the afternoon the better. i’m so dismayed and fed up about it all.

people swimming in sea rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd so it was rather late when I went out for my walk and to see what was going on down on the beach this afternoon.

But never mind the beach for a moment. Look at these two people. That had been previously on the beach of course but now they were having a load of fun splashing and swimming around in the water. Perhaps I ought to try that. It would certainly wake me up a little

But then on the other hand I remember when Castor and Pollux asked me if I was going to take part in the Arctic Dip when we were on board THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR in the North West Passage.
“I can’t” I replied. “I have this catheter in and I can’t go into salt water with t”.
Castor asked me later “would you have gone in the water if you didn’t have the catheter?”
“No” I thought to myself. “I’d have found another excuse.

And that reminds me – whatever happened to Castor and Pollux? They haven’t been on a nocturnal voyage with me for ages. But then, there are many people who are conspicuous by their absence these days. Even my life during my sleeping hours is becoming very mundane these days.

Where did all the excitement go?

yachts boats baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallIt’s probably all going on out at sea right now judging by all of tha boats that are sailing around in the Bay of Granville this afternoon.

The weather might be warm but it’s still misty and the visibility isn’t all that much good with the mist that’s hovering around out at sea. We have quite a few yachts sailing around, but everyone seems to be heading back to the harbour right now. It’s close to high tide and if they miss this high tide, the next one will be in the early morning tomorrow so they’ll have to spend the night out at sea.

But that’s not a problem that’s going to affect me right now. I headed off down the path on top of the cliffs, trying to avoid the madding crowds. But I’ve no idea what prompted a group of young people decide to have a game of boules in the middle of the path so everyone had to walk in the grass around them or risk a broken ankle.

f-giki ROBIN DR 400-120 pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAs I was walking long the top of the cliffs I was overflown by a light aeroplane to I took a photo of it to see who it might be.

And it’s our old friend F-GIKI who we have seen on many occasions in the past. She’s a small Robin DR 400-120 that belongs to the Granville Aero Club and is used for flight training or refresher courses for pilots who need to keep up their licences.

She had taken off at 17:06, which looks about right to me, and according to her radar plot, went for a flight along the coast towards Avranches, did a lap around the block and came back home, where she landed at 18:11.

f-gdkm robin DR 400 140 B pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOnce F-GIKI had flow off on her little adventure I was overflown yet agaon almost immediately.

This time it’s F-GDKM who has taken to the air. She’s a Robin DR 400-140B, powered by a Lyvoming 160HP engine and she’s a new aeroplane to us. It’s not one that I’ve noticed before. She’s owned by the Manche Aero Club and is available to hire for instruction at €131 per hour for a solo flight and €151 per hour for dual instruction.

She actually took off from the airport at 16:42, her second flight of the day, and did pretty much the same circuit as F-GIKI, returning at 17:31.

And while I was looking at the flight radar, there was something else that caught my eye. At 14:08 a plane had landed at the airport here, N65MJ which is a British registration and had set off from Turweston Airfield near Brackley in the UK at 11:48.

Si what’s a ‘plane from the UK doing landing at an airport where there is no international clearance in the middle of a pandemic when the UK is on France’s red list? I smell something fishy, and I’m not talking about the content’s of Baldrick’s apple crumble either.

joly france baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhile all of this was going on, there was plenty more activity going on out at sea.

More and more boats started to appear out of the gloom and mist and one of them was one of the Joly France boats that provide the ferry service to the Ile de Chausey. They will be quite busy right now with all of the tourists that we have around here and she certainly looks crowded.

There were a couple of yachts and other light craft out there too, but what caught my eye was what was going on out on the horizon. Just left of centres is a large mast that might belog to one of the larger yachts that plies for hire in the harbour.

However out towards the left edge of the photo there are some pretty big masts and I wonder if it’s Marité on her way home from wherever she’s been for the last few days. It’s certainly big enough.

trawlers l'alize 3 philcathane yacht rebelle chantier navale port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd I’ve identified the white trawler that’s in the chantier navale at the moment.

As I went past this morning I was able to read a couple of letters of her name, and that was enough to tell me that she’s L’Alize 3, the trawler that we saw in the inner harbour last week. She’s up there on blocks next to Philcathane with the yacht Rebelle over to the right.

As for the black and white trawler, I still can’t remember her name and there was far too much traffic about today for me to stop and look. I’ll go that way for a look around tomorrow afternoon if I’m not asleep but I’m sure that she’s related to le Pearl. Her owners have a distinctive car and that car was parked underneath this trawler this morning.

joly france entering port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallBy now many of the boats that had been out at sea were coming into port, including Joly France

From this angle we can tell that she’s the newer one of the two because her windows are rectangular in “portrait” format rather than the “landscape” format of the older boats.

Now that Joly France is back home, I can go back home too. And I can’t say that I wasn’t sorry. It had been a tough afternoon.

Back home I put the coffee from lunchtime into the microwave to heat it up and then I came in here to push on with some work. I have plenty of work to do from Friday that I haven’t done yet and it won’t ever be done at this rate.

But whatever I did, it took me up tp teatime. A couple of the burgers from today with baked potatoes and veg followed by chocolate sponge and chocolate sauce.

Now that I’ve finished my journal I’m off to make some bread mix. I need new bread for Monday so I can cook it while the oven heats up for the pizza. That sounds like a good plan.

Monday 14th June 2021 – I WAS OUT …

… and about this morning walking around the footpath at the top of the cliffs at 06:30 this morning.

Really!

How it cam to pass was that I was having my medication at about 06:15 when I looked out of the window at the bright blue, cloudless sky and saw an aeroplane fly overhead – well, its contrails anyway. I went to have a look at the flight radar to find out which flight it was (I’ve forgotten now but it was a red-eye from North America).

But what I saw in the distance flying past Finisterre, and at 42,000 feet as well in a direct line for my little rock, was TITAN 1. That’s one of the United States Government’s four “Nightwatch” Boeing 747s that’s fitted out as a National Emergency Airborne Command Post and has presumably come over for the NATO meeting in Brussels this week in case Biden needs to push the red button.

And so, armed with the NIKON D500 I went outside to wait for it.

And I waited. And waited. And waited.

Eventually I went back inside to find that it had performed a dog-leg and gone off out into the English Channel to skirt round the Cotentin Peninsula. She obviously didn’t want anyone to know that she was about. And that’s a shame. Actually being able to see one, even at that distance, would be quite something.

So instead I came back here and started work on the radio programme. having already chosen and paired the music, it was all done and dusted by 11:45, even with a break for hot chocolate and ginger cake.

Yes, I’ve run out of fruit bread so I had to have some of Liz’s ginger cake. And I’ve timed my visit to Leuven just right because I’m running out of that now. I’ll have to see what else the hospital will cut off this time so that Liz will bake me some more cake.

Meanwhile, on the dictaphone we started with something to do with a stately home. The dogs that were pulling the sledge had panicked and roared off and went through the house. The young boy who was standing on the balcony overlooking where the maid was cleaning was pitched over the balcony by the force of the arriving dog team, went straight through a plate glass firescreen and ended up at the feet of a servant who was polishing it. Something else went over the end as well, then a couple more children. Then the guy came in, all apologetic. They were saying that since several weeks this was the only stately home in the bottom 11 to have won any points so it was looking rather good for it. I tried to take some out and just wetting some neat porridge oats and tried to thin it down again or thicken it up again, one or the other, thicken it up, I think and se what it tastes like I fell asleep.

Later on there had been something to do with the Midlands and I was going to talk to a friend about something. He had recommended a school to me, recommended one not to go to so I’d been to the first one, had a look round and liked it. I’d been to the second one which was last on his list and this was where I dropped my sandwiches. I was about to pick them up but some girl picked them up and started to nibble at the filling in between with her fingers. Then she handed them to me and said ‘thank you”. I thought “this isn’t really the kind of school that I want”. I realised afterwards that this is the one that is bottom of the list so I thought that I’d snip that off straight away. I mentioned it to my friend and he gave me all kinds of pointers of what to look for and what to avoid and made 1 or 2 remarks about the school’s accounting and false accounting being put through, that sort of thing.

At some point or other I was in a dismal, dark railway station in a waiting room waiting for my train to be called. Then they announced it and it was right over the far side of the station. I had this huge suitcase and a couple of other things that I needed to carry. I walked out of the waiting room and it was pitch-black. I had to struggle my way through the dark and I lost hold of my suitcase once and couldn’t find it. In the end I made my way up to the top of a walkway and along. I had to enquire again as to my train and it was just coming in. As I was going down the steps it pulled in so I stuck my suitcase with the other stuff in the luggage van and got on this train and made sure that i was in the Glasgow portion. The train was crowded and I was wedged in with a group of men who were going somewhere and doing something together. They had their suitcases and there was no room for anyone to move or do anything. Then I got to Glasgow and ended up on a bus. people were asking me where I was going but I didn’t really have much of an idea and I was telling them any old kind of story. I turned up at this hotel. I explained that I’d come to manage it, that set everyone off in a panic. They were trying to find me a bedroom, a bath and a table to sit and have breakfast. And I mustn’t forget about the couple snogging in this bus and this elderly Scots woman giving them the most fearful disapproving looks.

After a shower and a good clean up, I had lunch. And then Caliburn and I went off to my Covid test in the sweltering heat. It’s a swish new place this, much better than the old one, but it’s too far out of town for me to walk in this weather which is a pain.

So having been all done and dusted, I went to LIDL and stocked up on a few things and then drove back home.

Later on I went out for my afternoon walk around the headland.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallFirst stop was to see what was going on down on the beach this afternoon so I went over to the wall at the end of the car park and stuck my head over the top.

The beach is smaller than it was yesterday of course, with the tide, but despite it being a working day there are still plenty of people out there soaking up the sun. And with the heat that we were having, who can blame them,

But in today’s newspaper there was an interesting article about all of the people down on the beach yesterday. Apparently there were several tonnes of rubbish left behind by the tourists and as the tide comes right in up to the cliffs, the rubbish that the Council’s workforce were unable to recover was swept away into the sea.

So if you are wondering why there is so much plastic and other rubbish in the oceans, now you know why. Bone-idle tourists.

twin engined light aeroplane pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhile I was out there looking at the people on the beach I was overflown by another aeroplane.

Not TITAN 1 or one of her three siblings but a weird light aeroplane the type of which I haven’t seen before. As I mentioned a few days ago, France seems to be quite keen on its weird types of light aeroplanes and here’s another one to add to the collection.

It’s some kind of twin-engined machine and we don’t see too many of those at all around here. And it’s unfortunately too far away and too high up for me to read its registration number, assuming that it has one, so I’m not able to tell you very much about it

aeroplane f-gbrk Piper PA-28-161 Warrior II pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAs for this one though, I can tell you more – a little more – about it.

As it flew past over my head I was able to read its registration number. It’s F-GBRK and my database tells me that it’s a Piper PA-28-161 Warrior II. The Warrior is a derivative of the Piper Cherokee, which is a lightweight, cheaper alternative to the more famous Piper Comanche.

The model was introduced in 1974 replacing the Cherokee 150, and is fitted with a Lycoming O-320 engine.

And as you might expect, it’s not on the list of departures from the airport at Granville and it hasn’t filed a flight plan either.

people fishing in boat baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallSo having sorted out all of that I pushed on along the path at the top of the cliffs, stopping to admire the men in the boat on my way past.

And they seem to be really crowded in there, without enough room to swing a cat, never mind a fishing rod, by the looks of things. And I think that the guy wielding a net to catch the fish off the end of the line is being rather optimistic.

Apart from one or two other small boats out there, there wasn’t all that much else going on out at sea this afternoon. Anyone with any sense would be under an umbrella with a cocktail or in a deckchair with a newspaper over their head in this kind of heat.

yacht rebelle fishing boat chantier navale port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere was plenty of activity going on in the chantier navale this afternoon, as I discovered when I made my way around there.

The yacht Rebelle is still down there in the place where Aztec Lady lived for so long, but the little trawler-type of boat that had been there for a week or so has now disappeared back into the water. Instead, there is one of the shellfish boats – one of the larger ones – down there now on ramps and blocks receiving attention.

And both of the boats must be receiving plenty of attention today because I don’t recall ever seeing so many assorted vans parked up there while their occupants are presumably at work on the two boats. All of this points to a frenzy of activity so there must be something going on.

gerlean port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd one of our little NAABSA (not always afloat but safely aground) shellfish boats is still there settling into the mud and silt at the quayside underneath the Fish Processing plant.

It’s Gerlean who is there today. L’Omerta was the other one that was there for quite a while. She was there on her own at first but then Gerlean came to join her. And now she is there on her own as L’Omerta seems to have cleared off elsewhere.

As I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … the other boats must find it quite inconvenient for these boats to be always moored up here. It means that there is less space for them to tie up and unload and so they have to queue up to find a berth. I’d love to know what the issue is why they can’t tie up in the inner harbour out of the way.

chausiais port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallSomeone who is however tied up in the inner harbour is Chausiais, the little freighter that runs the shuttle out to the Ile de Chausey.

And being tied up underneath the big crane tells me a couple of things.

  1. The holiday season is in full swing so there’s a good load of luggage and food supplies etc to be ferried over to the island right now
  2. With her blocking the loading bay, we can’t be expecting a visit of Thora or Normandy Trader in the immediate future

In fact Normandy Trader seems to be spending much more time running over to St Malo these days than she does to here. That’s rather a disappointment and quite a loss for the port. Ohh! To see a gravel boat or two right now!

aeroplane 55-oj pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOn my way back to the apartment I was overflown yet again. A different one this time.

And this one needs no introduction from me because she’s 55-OJ, one of the little light aeroplanes that we see flying past on a regular basis. As I’ve said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … I’m going to have to get out to the airport one of these days for a nosey around and to make further enquiries.

But instead, back at the apartment after my day’s exertions in the heat I crashed right out. And for a good 90 minutes too. I really did feel awful.

My bass practice was a little depressing and the least said about my session on the acoustic guitar the better

Tea was pasta with veg and a burger, followed by apple pie from the freezer with custard. I enjoyed that.

Now it’s bedtime and I’ll try to remember my medication that I forgot yesterday, so that I hope to have a good night’s sleep.

And then I can get on with my Welsh revision as long as TITAN 1 isn’t anywhere in the area.

Saturday 15th May 2021 – WE’VE HAD A

unidentified aeroplane place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall… one of these aerial days today – a day when just about everything in the air flew past me today.

It wasn’t possible for me to count all the ones that went past today because I ran out of fingers. Several of them flew past out of range so I couldn’t photograph them but I did photograph those that I could, like this one here.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to identify it because I couldn’t see its serial number anywhere and it’s not a model that I recognise anywhere. It looks like a pretty lightweight machine so it’s quite possibly one of these kit-built aircraft that care classed as microlights.

unidentified aeroplane place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThis is another one that I didn’t recoognise, but that’s for a completely different reason.

As it flew past overhead, it didn’t present to me a surface that carried the registration number. That will be underneath the port wing of course and it wasn’t going that way round. But whatever it is, it’s not one of the aircraft that regularly flies out of the airport here that we see quite regularly.

There was nothing shown on the flight radar for these aircraft of course. It’s unlikely that they file flight plans and they probably don’t fly high enough to be picked up on the radar anywhere.

powered hang glider place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd it wasn’t just aeroplanes that went flying past overhead either.

As I walked out of the building here to go for my afternoon walk I was overflown by one of these powered hang glider things. That wasn’t shown on my radar set either and that’s no surprise. It’s the kind of thing that struggles to lift itself over my building, especially as it’s carrying two people therein.

As this went past overhead I was thinking that all I needed now was to see Godzilla going past and then I’d have the full set. Either that or the Loch Ness Monster. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen so many aircraft on one particular day.

This morning I hauled myself out of bed fairly early, just after the first alarm, despite my rather late night.

And after the medication I had a listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night. I was really surprised to find that I’d been anywhere because it had been a bad night with several raging attacks of cramp that didn’t ease off even when I went for a walk around.

This was the worst series of attacks that I’d had and they were horrible. Painful and horrible.

aeroplane 55-OJ place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut returning to our moutons as they say around here, while you admire aeroplane 55-OJ, I was somewhere on the outskirts of London last night, living by the side of this big main road that was a 2×2 lane with the carriageway nearest me higher than the other. Crossing over there was quite difficult because it was so busy. One night I’d finished my tea and I had the remains on the plate so I thought that I would take then to the dustbin. I had to walk along the pavement, across the road on a zebra crossing, down a set of steps and across the other road. Luckily there was no traffic and I reached the dustbins to put my stuff away. I’d been counting my steps – so many steps across the road, so many steps across the central reservation and so on. There was a lot of traffic waiting at a junction on the other side of the by-pass and I had to walk my way round. I thought that I recognised one of them. It turned out to be a black boy from the City of London on a bicycle who had been wanted by the police for a murder but released. At that moment a police car pulled up and someone started to talk to the policeman saying something like “it’s happened again but I definitely saw something white which was either something white once 100 times or something white twice 50 times”. I immediately thought of this boy. What had he been up to?

After that I went for a good hot shower which made me feel so much better, and then I stripped the bed and changed the bedding, the first time since I can’t remember when. The bedding, my fleece jacket and a few other bits and pieces went into the washing machine and I set it off on its cycle again.

Meanwhile Caliburn and I went to the shops. At NOZ I found a guide book on Iceland, which will come in handy when I write up my notes and if I ever return to the island. There were also some frozen vegan veggie balls, so I bought three packets of those.

LeClerc’s was an expensive shop this morning, even if I did forget the coffee. They had vegan burgers on special offer, and also some special vegan burgers made of sweet potatoes, a new variety with an introductory offer and I wouldn’t want to miss those. I’m building up rather a large supply of burgers now, more than I can probably tackle so I need to start to make my way into that supply some time soon.

Back here I put the veggie balls in the freezer along with the falafel, the other vegan veggie balls, the vegan sausage rolls and whatever else I have picked up in NOZ over the last while. The freezer is now bursting at the seams.

Having done that I made myself some hot chocolate. And despite now having some more cocoa powder I made it with real chocolate. I even bought a pack of 5 slabs of pure chocolate so that I can do this again for the next while.

And then back in here I sat down and promptly crashed out.

The football had already started when I awoke so I watched the rest of the game. TNS v Bala Town and even though TNS went down to 10 me, with a defender rather harshly sent off, they were always too good for Bala Town.

They won rather comfortably 2-0 but it didn’t do them very much good because Connah’s Quay Nomads beat Penybont and that meant that the Nomads were crowned champions for this season. The 4-1 victory that the Nomads had over TNS a couple of weeks ago proved to be so decisive.

Despite their championship win, the Nomads are rather short on consistency and rather short of strength in depth. If they intend to make progress in European competition and retain their championship, they need to recruit half a dozen good players this close season and move on a few of the fringe players who haven’t contributed enough to the team whenever they have come on to play.

It’s the same with Bala Town. They have a good, solid side but apart from Chris Venables and Henry Jones, they don’t have any players capable of pushing the club up to the next level. And the rest of the League are just also-rans with just the odd star dotted about here and there.

But one thing is quite interesting, and it just goes to show how much the Welsh Premier League has progressed over the last few years is that when an ex-Football League came to play with a Welsh Premier League club it made headline news that reverberated around the pyramid for months.

These days there are ex-Football League players in every club, several players who play International football for their country and a couple of players who were in Wales’ successful Euro 2016 squad. And things can only get better when we see the money that these clubs earn by being successful in Europe.

All of that took me up to the time to go out for my afternoon walk around the headland.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallFirst stop was to go down to the end of the car park and look over the wall down onto the beach to see what was going on down there this afternoon. So dodging the powered hang-glider and other aircraft, I headed in that direction.

There were crowds of people down there this afternoon, which was only to be expected seeing as the holiday season is well under way. The town was heaving with people this morning as I drove out to the supermarket so it was no surprise to see the beach so packed.

We’re at the period of lowest tide too so I imagine that many of them down there are scavenging for seafood. And I hope that they will share their catch with their friends because you mustn’t be selfish with your shellfish.

aeroplane 35-MA place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallA little earlier I posted a photo of an unidentified aeroplane that flew overhead while I was walking across the car park.

As I walked back, I was overflown again by an aeroplane that was pretty much identical to one of the unidentified ones. And this time I could see the registration quite clearly on the port wing.

Not that it did me any good because the number on the wing is 35-MA and that is not a number that I can find in the series of registration numbers that I have. And so I’m not able to tell you anything about it, unfortunately. There’s certainly no flight plan or trace of it on the flight radar.

citroen sm maserati place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut I didn’t make it off the car park and off down the path because I was detained by this absolutely gorgeous machine parked here.

It’s been a while since we’ve featured an old car on these pages and to break our barren spell with a vehicle as rare or extraordinary as this is quite exceptional. In case you don’t know what it it, it’s basically a Citroen DS or ID, with the model designation “SM”.

The “S” of course stands for “Sport” but the “M” stands for “Maserati” because the earlier models of the series were powered by the same engine that was in the Maserati Merak and the later ones were powered by the engine out of the Maserati Biturbo.

citroen sm maserati place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThe model was made between 1970 and 1975, but only about 13,000 models were made.

In 1974 there were just 294 examples sold and in 1975 a mere 115 so with the rationalisation of the French motor industry in the mid-70s, the poor sales resulted in the model being discontinued. What did for the model was the fact that the tax band in which the vehicle fell was so high that few people could afford to run them.

Nevertheless, if I had to choose a French vehicle of this era to keep as my own, there wouldn’t be any question about it. I would have one of these in a heartbeat. One of these would rival the Maserati Quattroporte in my list of top-10 vehicles.

citroen u23 place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere was something else of interest parked up here at the end of the car park.

We’ve seen this vehicle before a few months ago. It’s a Citroen U23 lorry, a type of lorry that was launched in 1936 and was seen everywhere all over France. There are even A FEW EARLY ONES KNOCKING ABOUT ON THE ROADS today. They were also very popular with the French Army in World War II and quite a few were incorporated into the German army after the fall of France.

The earlier models looked very much like a Citroen Traction Avant but the bodywork evolved over the next 30 or so years before the model was abandoned in 1964. This is one of the last redesign of the model, undertaken in the late 1950s.

On that note I finally set off along the path above the cliffs, amongst the madding crowds wearing facemasks to a greater or lesser extent. There was nothing out to sea but as I approached the lighthouse a storm rolled in quite quickly and it began to rain. And so I didn’t wish to hang around for very long outside.

chantier navale port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallOn the other side of the headland in the rain I looked down on the chantier navale from the viewpoint overlooking the port.

It looks quite strange right now with nothing in there up on blocks down there. It’s not very often that we can see the place looking quite like this without any boats of any description in there. It’s restricted by the fact that the portable boat lift only has a rating of about 95 tonnes, and so that rules out some of the boats that are based in the harbour.

There’s a dry dock here, the Cale de Radoub, in which larger boats could be placed and where they could be repaired but even though that was declared an Ancient Monument in 2008, it’s been out of use since 1978 and will cost several millions to put into working order so that it could be used again.

marite port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallOne of the boats that requites an annual inspection is Marité, the old Newfoundland fishing boat that’s based here and which takes passengers out every now and again.

She had to sail to Lorient for her annual overhaul a few days ago as regular readers of this rubbish will recall. She must have come back on the tide last night. I was lucky enough to catch her coming home last year but I missed her this year.

Back here I made myself a mug of hot coffee and sat down to make a start on doing some work. But instead, I crashed out yet again. This is becoming far too much of a habit these days and I’m becoming rather fed up of all of this. I could understand it if I’d done any heavy exercise but even a walk around the block these days is finishing me off.

After I came round and recovered my equilibrium, I spent an hour or so playing the bass. I have to learn the songs on this song list and there’s no time like the present. I ned to exert myself one way or another.

Tea tonight was a burger with pasta and vegetables followed by chocolate sponge and chocolate sauce, which is just as delicious as it was when I made it. And chatting to a few people on the internet later, I posted them my recipe so that they can make it.

Now I’m off to bed, a lot later than usual but it doesn’t matter all that much because I’m having a lie-in tomorrow. And as long as it’s not 13:30 like it was last Saturday, I won’t mind too much.

Saturday 10th April 2021 – WOO-HOO – I’M VACCINATED!

Yes, I’ve now had both my jabs and I have a Certificate to prove it too! At least I shall be in the forefront of the queue whenever normal service is resumed.

That’s not to say that I’m going to be perfectly safe. I’ve had the Pfizer vaccination so I’m now about 95% safe against current strains of the virus but there are no details about how I’ll be covered against any new strains and in any case I could carry the vaccine around and infect others.

So I still have to be careful whatever I do. I can’t throw caution to the wind.

Mind you, I did throw caution to the wind last night because what with one thing or another it was long after 01:00 when I finally went to bed.

Nevertheless I still managed to crawl out of my stinking pit a 06:00 when the first alarm went off. It just confirms my suspicions that the issues that I’ve been having about leaving my bed have nothing to do with any physical complaint.

First thing was to grab the medication and the second thing was to listen to the dictaphone to see if I’d been anywhere during the night. In fact I was doing something last night and I can’t remember what it was but I ended up in Canada. It was something to do with cars ad I can’t remember at all. I ended up at my niece’s. One of her daughters was there and feeling very happy with herself because she had taken some courses to improve her reading ability. The had studied these courses for 12 months and when I arrived there I found that she had received a Diploma award from the Open University for English speaking and she was absolutely delighted. And of course so was I because she deserves something like that.

There was time to have a whack at some of the photos from North America from August 2019 before going for a shower, and then I made a coffee in my thermal mug, grabbed some crackers and then leapt into Caliburn.

And I did too, because the door opened quite easily this morning which is very good news.

It was pouring with rain this morning so it was a pretty miserable drive up north towards Valognes. There was a lot of things to see on the way but the rain put a complete dampener on everything.

There was something that I stopped to see on my way north, because there was a good view from inside Caliburn.

Calvaire de Le Plessis-Lastelle Manche Normandy France Eric HallThis is the Calvaire de Le Plessis-Lastelle on the outskirts of the town of Le Plessis-Lastelle.

It’s formerly the site of a castle on a nice high ridge and was destroyed during a revolt against Duke William of Normandy in 1047. It was rebuilt later but fell into disrepair, although a traveller in 1835 remarked that it was still in reasonable condition.

In 1911 the locals transformed what remains of the site into a Calvary but during the fighting in Normandy in 1944 it was very badly damaged. A programme of restoration was finished in 1967 and this is how it appears today.

And that reminds me of the story that I heard about the renovation of the Calvary after the war. There was a call for designs for the Calvary but due to a misunderstanding on the telephone, someone sent in a drawing of George Custer on his horse.

hospital simone veil valognes Manche Normandy France Eric HallEventually, 15 minutes early I arrived at the hospital.

As you can see, it looks quite … errr … interesting from the front. It’s actually an old Benedictine Abbey and as it came into the possession of the State in 1803 one can easily imagine that it was a prize of the Revolution. It was registered as an ancient monument in 1937.

When the hospital was inaugurated in 1977 it didn’t have a particular name but it was opened by Simone Veil who was Minister of Health – the fist female to hold the post – at the time. When she died in 2018 the hospital was given her name.

hospital simone veil valognes Manche Normandy France Eric HallRound the back though, it’s totally different, with all kinds of modernisations having been undertaken.

When I came here before, the Vaccination Centre was under there but seeing it all in darkness and it being a Saturday morning, I was full of foreboding.

A sign on the door said “Vaccination Centre now moved to …. (another address in town)” so I had to leap back into Caliburn, type the address into the Satnave and let the Lady Who Lives In The Satnav plot me a course.

Eventually I arrived at the Sports Centre on the other side of town where I had my injection, was given my certificate and left to fester for 15 minutes before they threw me back out into the rain.

My route back was a different one from my way out so there were new things to see on the way home.

chateau de saint saveur le vicomte Manche Normandy France Eric HallAs I came down the hill into Saint Saveur le Vicomte I was confronted by this beautiful building here. I had to do a U-turn and go back up the hill to find a good viewpoint where I could stick the camera out of Caliburn’s window.

This is the Chateau de Saint Saveur le Vicomte and it has a very interesting history because in view of its strategic position on a hill at the side of a river that leads into the interior, the Norse raiders built a fort there, according to one local historian.

Whatever was on there was destroyed during the revolt against Duke William. A subsequent castle here was an English stronghold in the Hundred Years War.

It later became a hospital, an orphanage and later a prison. Badly damaged by Allied Bombing in 1944, it’s now the subject of a restoration project financed by the proceeds of the national lottery.

On the way home I called in at Coutances and fuelled up Caliburn and then went to the LeClerc and LIDL here. They are much bigger than the ones in Granville and even though there’s more stuff in there, there isn’t anything extra that suited me. I did by some sweet potatoes though as they were cheap, and I’ll have to think of something to do with them.

Back here I made a sandwich for lunch and then came in here to carry on work but unfortunately I crashed out. And crashed out good and properly too, for about an hour and a half.

And when I awoke I had a sore arm again and I was also freezing, freezing cold. So much so that having turned off the heating about a week ago, I tuned it on again full-blast.

When I eventually recovered, I went outside for a walk where I bumped into Pierre the skipper of Spirit of Conrad. he told me that the other week the boat was simply in the chantier navale simply for an annual service.

But all of his tours this year are cancelled yet again. He’s thinking about doing trips up the Brittany coast whenever the situation relaxes.

Finding that the battery was yet again flat in the NIKON D500 I came back in for the NIKON D3000 and then I went back outsode again for my afternoon walk in the wind and rain.

beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThe whole of the town around here was totally deserted which was no surprise given the weather. There wasn’t a soul on the beach at all.

That’s something of a surprise of course because we’ve seen people down there in all kinds of weather, even swimming in it. But not today. I suppose that it was just too much for them today.

Instead, I trudged off along the path towards the end of the headland in my lonely solitude, and also in the rainstorm too. It must have been raining quite a lot over the last 18 hours because the path was flooded yet again and I had to pick my way gingerly around the puddles as I wended my weary way.

commodore goodwill english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallFrom the elevated part at the far end I could see something moving right out there in the English Channel so I took a photograph of it, regretting that I didn’t have the big NIKON D500 with me.

Of course it’s much too far out for me to be able to identify it but enhancing the image considerably I could make out some rough idea of its colours. That seems to indicate that its a Condor Ferries boat.

Its silhouette seems to match that of Commodore Goodwill, the Ro-Ro ferry that does the shuttle between St Malo, St Helier in Jersey and St Peter Port in Guernsey.

Ro-Ro stands for “roll on, roll off” and should not be confused with ferries such as Herald of Free Enterprise and Estonia which were Ro-Ro-Ro ferries, which stands for “roll on, roll over, roll off”.

fishing boat english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere was more movement out to sea too, but this time so much closer to home.

This is one of the little shellfish boats that worked the beds off the Ile de Chausey, I reckon. She’s on her way home to port in Granville, even if the tide isn’t far enough in for the harbour gates to be open.

Off the lawn and down the path to car park I went, encountering a family whose members were as surprised to see me as I was to see them.

Across the car park to the end of the headland to see what was going on. And the answer to that was nothing at all. So picking my way through the puddles I walked down the path on the other side of the headland.

port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere was very little going on in the harbour this afternoon.

The tide was still far out so the outer harbour was quite dry. But we can see all of the tyre tracks of the various heavy vehicles that have been working in there over the last month when we had the very low tides. Their work doesn’t seem to be finished so I wonder when, or maybe if, we will ever see them back working here again.

The fishing boat that we saw earlier is now in the harbour, here on the left, and it’s looking rather bewildered as the skipper tries to think of what to do next with it. And unfortunately she’s still too far out for me to be able to read her name on the visor over the cabin.

anakena hermes 1 notre dame de cap lihou aztec lady Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere is still no change in occupancy in the chantier navale today.

We have, from left to right, Anakena, Hermes I and the lifeboat Notre Dame de Cap Lihou. In the background is Aztec Lady, with a pile of small assorted yachts on the other side of the wall.

Unfortunately I couldn’t stay around to count them because I had to rush on home for the football this afternoon. TNS were playing away to Bala Town.

What astonished me about this match was that the two best players in the Welsh Premier League, Greg Draper and Henry Jones, managed just 28 minutes on the field between them.

Even more strangely was that the best player on the field, TNS’s Ben Clark, was substituted after 60 minutes of the game, with no sign of an injury. He’d run the Bala defence ragged and had a hand in TNS’s goal, but after he left the field the spark went out of the TNS side and Bala had several good chances to equalise, although they were unable to convert them.

Tea was out of a tin seeing as it’s Saturday and now that I’ve finished my notes I’m off to make some sourdough dough ready for baking tomorrow. And then I’m off to bed for a nice lie in.

And I deserve it too.

Thursday 18th March 2021 – HERE’S CALIBURN …

caliburn rue des noyers st lo Manche Normandy France Eric Hall… sitting waiting patiently for me in a little car park in the Rue des Noyers at St-Lô this morning.

And he didn’t have to wait very long because I was in and back out again even before the time of my appointment, and it isn’t every day that that kind of thing happens when you are dealing with French administration.

What does seem to be happening every day though (so just watch it not happen tomorrow) is that I’m leaving my stinking pit pretty quickly these days – just after the first alarm. This morning I was actually sitting at the computer working, having already had my medication, when the third alarm went off.

First thing that I did was to listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been. We started off with Doc Holliday, a third person and Yours Truly riding a freight train escaping from a crime that we’d committed. We were happily going on this train doing OK. There was a low branch across the railway lines. The locomotive somehow managed to avoid it but Doc Holliday who was standing up was hit by this branch and knocked off the train. We all had immediately to leap off the train. 2 guys on a horse had seen this incident and gave chase. They followed the train, found in the end that we weren’t on so they came back and found the 3 of us. They held us at gunpoint while we explained some of our story – not everything. The sheriff of the county agreed and told us that we could go. he told us the story of a couple of other outlaws who had been here. Someone showed us the house where they had lived which was now an old metal barn. All very interesting. Something happened that we were unmasked so we had to flee. As it was me and the other guy, not Doc Holliday, we had to scramble our way through this industrial estate climbing over fences, this kind of thing. One place where we had to climb over the fence had some bird netting on it and of course the more you climbed up it the more you pulled it off. It meant that the 2 of us had to climb this bird netting simultaneously moving our hands and legs at the same time so that the net would stay in place and we could scramble up it otherwise we would just pull it out of where it’s tied.

A little later TOTGA came to see me. She was telling me about a problem that she’d had. The people for whom she’d worked had gone bankrupt and they had found loads of drawings and missing assets and so on that had presumably been misappropriated by one of the previous directors. Now they were making enquiries about her and her wealth – an in-depth enquiry and what should she do about it? I made a couple of suggestions. At that moment Nerina shouted me – she was also around doing something in a different room, something like that or whether she came later. So I went to her and happened to mention this story about TOTGA. Nerina said “why don’t you talk to her and see what we can do?”. Just at that moment TOTGA shouted up something from downstairs so I replied, saying “come up here a minute”. She came up and I said “just sit there on the bed a minute”. She said “I’ll need a chaperone”. I replied “ohh no you won’t” to which Nerina and TOTGA burst out laughing. We explained the problem again to Nerina and she came up with a few suggestions that didn’t seem quite right to me but I don’t know what else to expect. Then I awoke with an attack of cramp.

Later still I was at Virlet busy tidying it up and decorating it. It wasn’t Virlet but one of these 2-up, 2-down terraced houses in Crewe. I was getting ready to do one of the living rooms. A friend of mine turned up with a kind-of interior designer. They had all kinds of ideas for everything on the inside so I left them to it as he was going to pay for this. There was a girl here as well and we were talking to her. She was wondering what to do, whether she was getting in the way so we told her to make the coffee. Luckily there was some running water at the place so she started on that. I went to empty the sink but the sink had been blocked and a whole pile of dirt and filth came into the sink before it all evacuated again. I said “thank God for that” then I had another attack of cramp.

This cramp thing is really getting on my wick now and I must remember to speak to my doctor at Castle Anthrax next week.

First job after the dictaphone notes was to attack the Greenland photos. Another pile of them are done and we are just about to get up steam ready to sail off down Kangerlussuatsiaq Fjord on THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR. And considering that we are on a diesel-powered ship, if we can get up steam and sail off, it will be something quite astonishing.

Later on I had a shower and then Caliburn and I hit the streets. And we were half-way to Liz and Terry’s before I remembered that I was actually going to St-Lô so we had something of a sight-seeing trip.

15 minutes early I was when I arrived in St-Lô and having found a parking space at the foot of the city walls underneath the Prefecture, I then found a set of steps up through a sally port – steps that I hadn’t noticed before.

Consequently I was there 10 minutes early. And with no-one in front of me, I was seen straight away and was standing on the steps outside the building, all done and dusted, when the town clock struck 11:00

And I would have been out even earlier had I not signed the form in the place reserved for the chef de service instead of the interessé so she had to start all over again.

One thing about which I wasn’t very happy was that she took my current carte de sejour. So what I did was to make her photocopy it and put on it the Prefecture’s official stamp. One thing that I have learnt with living in Europe is that people like to see lots of paperwork all covered in official stamps and the more you have, the better it is for the various officials whom you encounter on your travels. And I’ll be travelling a lot just now.

rue des noyers city walls st lo  Manche Normandy France Eric HallBack down the steps to Caliburn and at the sally port I took a photo along the walls.

One thing that you notice about St-Lô is that much of the construction is “modern austerity” because after D-Day in 1944 the Germans dug themselves in here and the city was repeatedly bombed, with the deaths of hundreds upon hundreds of French civilians. Not for nothing was it known as “The Capital of the Ruins”.

Because of the devastation, rebuilding had to be quick without any regard for aesthetics and regular readers of this rubbish will recall that the cathedral here is half-built of breeze blocks, such was the state of things.

Caliburn and I drove to the railway station where we awoke a booking clerk who found my name in the database and was able to issue me with my rail tickets for next week as there is no automatic retrieval machine here. It’s important that I have my tickets in my hand before the day of my travel because the train leaves before the booking office in the station opens and if the ticket retrieval machine is out of order then I’ve had it.

Next stop was to the new LIDL on the edge of town and while the range of goods on offer was larger, there wasn’t all that much more in there that would have suited me and my diet.

LeClerc was pretty much the same. Bigger and more choice, but not for me. I did strike lucky in the sense that they had a special offer going on their litre-bottles of traditional lemonade – glass bottles with mechanical tops that I need for my brewing. Two bottles of that stuff worked out at €3:20, which is cheaper than buying two empty bottles from the housewares section.

While I was there I rang up Liz to see if Terry’s hard drive had arrived. No such luck, so I headed on home for a rather late lunch.

Having been rushing around like this all morning, it’s no surprise that I ended up crashing out for a while on the chair in the office. I can’t last the pace.

seagull on window ledge place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut I picked myself up for my afternoon walk and went outside, where I said “hello” to the seagull that seems to have taken residence on the first floor window of the next block.

The weather this morning had not been too unpleasant but it seems to have deteriorated while I was indoors because the wind has increased, the temperature has dropped and while there’s not as much fog around as there has been just recently, there is still more than you would expect given the strength of the wind.

So gritting my teeth and hanging on to my hat I set off along the path around the headland. There were only a couple of other people out there, and that wasn’t a surprise given the way things are right now.

Looking out across the bay towards the Brittany coast there wasn’t all that much going on over there.

seafarers memorial le loup baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd neither was there all that much more going on across towards St Pair and Jullouville.

Well, maybe there was, but if so, I couldn’t see it. We can see the seafarers’ memorial and then Le Loup, the light that sits on the rock at the entrance to the harbour. But the coast across there is nothing more than a misty haze.

From there I walked on down the path at the head of the cliffs. After all of the activity at the chantier navale just recently, it’s quietened down with just the same boats that were there yesterday. Plenty of people working on them, including my neighbour Pierre labouring away on Spirit of Conrad.

But I’ve given up predicting when they might be going back into the water. I’m not having much luck with that right now.

roofing college malraux place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOn the other hand, they seem to be racing away with the roof on the College Malraux right now.

Apart from having almost finished the part of the roof that they stripped off a couple of weeks ago, they have now stripped off a neighbouring bay and they are busy replacing the laths on that part. I wonder what has caused the acceleration.

Back here in the apartment I had my coffee and then made a start on the arrears of Central Europe. And that seemed to be somewhat productive because I managed to research and write some text for about seven or eight photos in the time that I was working. With a bit of luck, I might finish this before the end of the decade.

Guitar practice was enjoyable – on the bass I was messing around with a solo for “Jumping Jack Flash” again and also Neil Young’s “Like A Hurricane”.

Tea was a burger on a bap with veg followed by apple pie again. And then a couple of things came up while I was trying to write up my notes. Firstly, Rachel rang me from Canada with some bad family news. Secondly, I won’t be making orange ginger beer again. I now know what a shrapnel attack looks like and I need another bottle with a mechanical stopper. At least I know that the stoppers on those bottles are stronger than the bottles themselves.

Tomorrow is going to be a day of cleaning up and washing down the walls of the living room and I’ll be doing the next lot of brewing in the bathroom.