Tag Archives: caliburn service

Monday 6th February 2023 – IT’S BEEN ANOTHER …

… totally bizarre Monday today.

And when I tell you that both the radio programmes that I wanted to prepare were all done and dusted by 08:00 or thereabouts, you’ll understand what I mean.

Last night I managed to go to bed at some kind of realistic time, like 22:00, and it didn’t take long to go to sleep either.

However, by 01:30 I was wide awake again and couldn’t go back to sleep. At about 03:00 I gave it up as a bad job and decided that I’d attack the radio programmes, with the idea that that would probably drive me back to sleep again.

However, I kept on going in something of a desultory fashion and finished it all off.

There were a few other things that needed doing this morning too but by 10:30 I was back in bed on my way to sleep again, and that was where I stayed until about 13:40.

Once I’d had some coffee and one of my delicious fruit buns, I sat down to transcribe the dictaphone notes. At some point during the night I was in some kind of prison somewhere. It wasn’t really a prison but was just like one. It was quite late at night and I had to do something about food, tins and fresh fruit etc. I built myself a pyramid of food, picked it up in my 2 arms and walked off down this corridor. When I reached near where there was an empty cell I decided that I wanted to go to the bathroom. I tried to put this load down quietly but it fell and made a noise right by where some young child was sleeping. It didn’t awaken the child so I thought that I was lucky. I nipped in, did what I had to do and came back out again. There was a big shopping bag and I started to put all of the food etc into it with the idea that I could pick it up and carry it off. It would be easier. In actual fact there was much more food than I realised and it wouldn’t go in the shopping bag. Bits and pieces kept on falling out every time I tried to pick it up

Later on I’d received a letter written in English from the Commune at Virlet about vehicles that I’d left there.

Finally, there’s a whole fleet of buses and lorries and cars going to this stately home type of place for some reason or other. It had been raining heavily and the field where everyone was parking was being churned up terribly. When we finally stopped, the person in charge of our bus asked “right, are we all alighting?” to which I replied “not in this weather”. I received a dirty look. I climbed out of the bus, bumped into a couple of my friends who wanted to know where we would go. I suggested that we walk over towards the old stately home place, wade through it, I thought, with all of this water, and see what’s happening there. It was all very suspicious and very peculiar.

A copy of the signed Commitment to Purchase form arrived at some point today too, together with some information that I need from the bank. And so at some point tomorrow I can finish off these forms that need completing for the transfer of the money to buy the apartment downstairs.

It really does look as if it might be going ahead and that will be really good news if it does. I just wish now that I can find a plumber or someone to come and install the shower. I didn’t have a single response to my advert, which just goes to show, as I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … you can’t even give money away to honest tradesmen these days.

While I was at it, I took the opportunity to telephone the garage about Caliburn. He’s certain that it’s the starter and that should be replaced on Tuesday. So it looks as if I have a nice run out on the bus on Wednesday morning to go and rescue him – and do some shopping.

Tea tonight was a stuffed pepper. And for reasons that I can’t understand, everything about it was overcooked. I mean – I used the same temperatures and same times but somehow it all went soft and mushy. Ahh well! You can’t win a coconut every time I suppose.

Despite my sleep over lunchtime, I’m still quite tired. And there’s a Welsh lesson tomorrow so I reckon that i’ll go for an early night in the hope that I can have a decent sleep and have a good session at preparation.

At some point in the near future we have to register for an exam but I think that I’m going to opt out. I know that I’m off the pace and struggling somewhat and while I’m going to carry on with the following year’s course, I think that an exam is beyond me right now. I’ll try to catch a couple of summer schools to refresh everything and then have a try at another time.

Thursday 4th November 2021 – HOW LONG IS IT …

… since I’ve walked 110% of my daily total? It must be quite a while, I reckon.

This morning I took Caliburn for his annual service and controle technique and it’s a long way home – just over 6kms in fact. But apart from the final climb up the Rue des Juifs, what parts of it that aren’t on the level are slightly downhill so I thought “now or never”.

As it happens, just as I was walking past the bus stop about 400 metres from the garage, a bus came along and I could even have had a free ride home, but I persevered. And I’m glad that I did.

Mind you, I shan’t be walking back to pick him up when he’s ready. That’s not part of the plan at all.

Even more surprisingly, I’m surprised that I even thought about it after the night that I had. I promised yesterday that I won’t mention bad nights again so I’ll say nothing more.

It was however something of a very mobile and extremely surreal night. I don’t know why but I had just thrown a load of inflatable lifebuoy rings and toys and things into a swimming pool. Everyone had jumped in afterwards after them but thy were adults and even so they were making like whale things like squirting water out of a jet at the back of their helmets and that kind of thing, not being serious at all.

Later on there were 2 Viking ships doing a shuttle service between Norway and England. One of them was delayed for so long that by the time they prepared to leave the other Viking ship or Norse trading ship had come in to the harbour down the coast so they wanted to slip out to sea before the captain of that ship came to look for them to wonder why they had been so long. They slipped out on the tide at night and were caught in a fog. eventually they made a very rough landfall on some kind of island that might have been the Faroe Islands or something but was totally uninhabited. The ship was damaged so they couldn’t sail away so they had to sit and make the most of what it was that they were going to be doing on this island. There was plenty of driftwood for wood but that was really all about everything.

Some time later I was with a friend of mine in that old black MkV that I had and we were going into Crewe somewhere, just generally talking. This Cortina was running really poorly on about 3.5 cylinders and you had to work the gears pretty hard to get it to move. We went all the way down Mill Street where we nearly ran into the back of a car. I stopped by turning left and let some people cross the street, up past Oak Street into the town centre. The whole of the town centre had changed. There was still the pavement opposite the library but that was now a lawn but where the car park and the ring road used to be was now all buildings. I was having to find a place to park there but I couldn’t see anywhere to park. I was thinking that I would have to drive round for a bit in order to find somewhere.

There were plenty of other things going on too. We were on a coach tour going into Hungary. When it was meal-time the coach pulled up in Budapest, but it was no Budapest that I ever knew, something really modern. We all cascaded out and there was a restaurant there and it had absolutely nothing whatever vegan. We went to look at another couple in the vicinity and there wasn’t anything there either. By the time that we’d met up with a couple more off the coach who were looking for something to eat. We went back to the first place but to get there wasn’t easy. We had to scramble down this slope that looked very insecure. Down at this restaurant you had to make your own pizza, make your own sandwiches, take them to the till. There was nothing there that I could eat so we went into the restaurant to look for the tour guide. He wasn’t there. I was becoming extremely annoyed about this because I wanted something to eat but there was nothing there whatever that I could eat.

Finally there was an awfully interesting chat about camisole dresses and school sports days but I’m not quite sure what that was all about – something about rolling the camisole dress up like girls do when they go to school – roll the waist over to make the skirt shorter.

After the medication I went and assembled Caliburn’s door.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that the door latch keeps sticking and sometimes I can’t open it from the outside. A few weeks ago I dismantled it and oiled all of the parts with WD40 and I left it half-dismantled to make sure that it works. Today I gave it another oiling and then put it back together.

Having dropped Caliburn off at the menders’, I set out for my marathon walk home. It was sunny but there was a cool breeze and I was very grateful for that.

calvary rue de la font jolie Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021On the corner of the street near the garage is a calvary – a shrine in honour of the Virgin Mary i reckon.

The plaque underneath it is very worn but the general message suggests that it’s to do with a pilgrimage to Lourdes in 1959

And this reminds me of a story that I have told before … “and on many occasions too” – ed.

In Québec many years ago they had some kind of competition for the design of a calvary. One designer sent in a drawing of John Wayne on his horse

Avoiding the temptation to take the bus, I carried on walking and I was glad that I did because we now have an Aldi open in the town. I popped in there for some energy drink to fuel me up and took advantage of the opportunity to have a good look around.

The place is bigger and has more choice than Lidl, so I can see myself calling in there every so often to stock up, especially as it’s not too far from Noz and LeClerc.

By the time I reached the bottom of the hill in the Rue Couraye I was beginning to feel the strain but I pushed on regardless.

port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021So much so that I actually made it half-way up the hill in the Rue des Juifs before I had to stop for breath.

Down there in the port, it was all quiet. The quayside was deserted – Normandy Trader and Thora had gone, taking the huge mound of freight with them.

Also gone from the harbour is Marité. Apparently she’s doing some filming somewhere, but I’ve no idea what or where it is.

When I returned home I made some coffee and toast and then came back in here to sink into my comfortable chair. And was I glad to do that! It’s a long time since I’ve been so exhausted and even so, I was really glad that I had accomplished it.

There’s life in the old dog yet!

But that wasn’t the end of my activity for the day either. There’s my appointment with the doctor at 13:30.

When I sat down on returning home I was feeling fine, but when I stood up to go on my way, I knew about it. I felt every inch of the journey down into town, and every bone and muscle in my body as well.

peche a pied baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021As usual I took the NIKON D3000 with me on my walk. and I put it to good use just round the corner.

The tide is well out right now so with it being the school holidays, the crowds are out on the exposed beach having a go at the pèche à pied.

As I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … the foreshore between high and low tides is leased to commercial fishermen who harvest the shellfish. But at the very low tides the water drops right down below the commercial zone and anything found in this exposed zone is fair game for anyone who cares to harvest it.

The doctor gave me a good going-over while I was there. My blood pressure is up which is a surprise because I didn’t think that I had enough even to make a normal reading.

The chemists have to order the injections of Aranesp for me so when I recovered from the shock of the price (you won’t believe how much they cost) I told them I’ll be down tomorrow to pick them up. It’ll be a nice walk into town in the afternoon, to do something different instead of my usual walk.

While I was at the chemist’s I remembered that I have a free voucher for a flu injection. I handed that over as well and I’ll pick that up tomorrow too.

Back here again I had a very late lunch with my delicious bread, musing on the fact that had suddenly hit me that I’d walked all the way from town and right up the hill to here without stopping for breath even once. And if that isn’t progress, I don’t know what is.

beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021But after all of this I was in no fit state to do very much in the afternoon.

I remembered to pop out (later than usual) too look at the beach. The tide is not quite full in but even so there wasn’t anyone down there, so I didn’t hang around much. I came back in to the apartment for another rest.

At some point I managed to go through all of the photos for yesterday and at some point when I have summoned up the energy I’ll write the text for them. But right now, I’m aching in places that I didn’t even know that I had.

Leaving my seat to go and make tea was exciting too. I can see me having a real struggle to leave my stinking pit in the morning if things carry on like this.

But tea was good tonight. There were some leftover bits and pieces lying around so I made a curry with them and that was quite delicious too.

Anyway, shortly I’ll be off to bed and try again for an uninterrupted night’s sleep, if I can. The pace is hotting up in here with the work building up so I’m hoping to have a really good day at it.

Just watch someone come along and spoil it.

Thursday 24th May 2018 – OUCH! THAT HURT!

Yes it did too. Dead to the world for an hour and a half this afternoon, and still a little unsteady on my feet even now.

Something of a late-ish night last night. And dead to the world until the alarm went off. And then it was something of a struggle to leave my stinking pit.

But after the usual morning routine I had a shower and a clean-up and then phoned the garage. Caliburn is ready so I could go to pick him up.

street decoration granville manche normandy franceIt’s a long walk – almost 6kms to the garage and no point in hanging around, so off I set.

There was quite a bit going on in the town today. There’s a cycle race taking place at weekend so the local council was out putting up all of the bunting and other street decorations ready for the (af)fray.

And I’m glad that I went early because the sun didn’t start to heat up for a while. The first half of the journey was quite pleasant.

Not so the second half once the sun was full out, and I had to stop a few times to get my breath.

First stop was at the motorcycle shop just for a nosy around. There wasn’t anything of interest – not that I expected there might be, but worth a look all the same.

Second port of call was a new Bio shop that I hadn’t noticed before. It’s pretty much like the Amaranthe in Montlucon but with only a quarter of the stock. And as for the vegan selection, well, they needn’t have bothered. That was a waste of time too.

Third port of call was the cheap electric shop that had done the business for me before. And yet again, I didn’t leave empty-handed. Tomorrow, I’ll take a photo of what I bought and you can see it for yourselves. But I never expected to see one of these in a shop like this.

Ironically, last year when I was wandering around on foot with Caliburn’s service last year, I stumbled upon an oven. That’s rather a strange coincidence.

Biggest surprise was at the garage. Caliburn has his controle technique on Saturday morning so he needs a service and a check-over before he goes. And for all of that, the bill came to all of €110. That’s the cheapest service and pre-controle technique that Caliburn would ever have.

All they found wrong was a numberplate light bulb not working and nothing else. I asked them to check the steering and front suspension but they found nothing wrong there.

Seeing as I was up at that end of the town I did my mid-week shopping at Leclerc and then came home for a coffee and a chat on line with Liz. After that, it was outside for my butties.

skyjack pressure washer washing walls place d'armes granville manche normandy franceThere was a lot going on there too. Not much in the way of people but they had a guy on a sky jack pressure-washing the building behind me. And every so often the spray would drift over to where I was sitting.

He had to stop every time a car or a pedestrian went past so it took him longer than it might otherwise have done.

Butvery so often the spray would drift over to where I was sitting and it was actually quite pleasant and cooling in the sunshine.

fishing boats port de granville harbour manche normandy franceThere was also quite a lot of activity going on down below in the port.

The tide was on its way in and so were all the fishing boats. They were queueing up several deep at the wharf by the fish processing plant waiting to unload their catch, with a few more on their way in to the harbour as I watched.

Still, it keeps them out of mischief, I suppose.

Now that Caliburn is organised (or he will be on Saturday morning) I had some plans to make, and I spent a while up to no good and chatting to a couple of friends on line. And then that was that.

I missed my afternoon walk yet again, but I still managed to have the session on the guitar.

Tea was a burger in a bap with a potato and veg done in the microwave with some vegan margarine spread.

baie de mont st michel jullouville carolles granville manche normandy franceAnd I managed to make it outside for the evening walk, which was just as well because it really was a beautiful night.

Instead of going around the walls I went around the headland instead and there was a beautiful view across the bay towards Jullouville and Carolles although there was a sea mist that was obscuring the far coast itself.

Nevertheless, the colours came out really well in this photo. You would never imagine that it’s almost 21:00.

And so 108% of my daily total today, and it feels more like 1008%. I feel dreadful but I have to keep going. One thing for sure though – I won’t be doing much tomorrow.

Wednesday 23rd May 2018 – SO CARRYING ON …

… from where I left off last night, I ended up taking out the waste paper to the recycling bin. Such is the exciting life that I lead around here these days.

But at least it brought my day’s efforts to 101% of my target so that I could go to bed quite happily – albeit rather later than I had planned.

And during the night, I was off on yet another mega-ramble. One that was well-worth remembering, but unfortunately I can’t remember anything about it now. But all is not lost, because I recorded it for posterity on the dictaphone.

However, it comes to my mind that I have forgotten to copy it onto the laptop and transcribe it, so you’ll have to wait for another time before you can read all about it.

To be honest, I don’t know what I do with my days. Anyone would think that I was really busy, but that’s not the case. I’m just old, tired and ill.

But not so old, tired and ill that I couldn’t deal with the masses of photos that have built up over the last while. Including the ones that I mentioned yesterday. This one and this one were taken with the current lens on the big Nikon.

On the other hand, keeping to exactly the same settings, this one and this one were taken with the lens that I borrowed from Happy Cash.

I wish now that I had brought the spare lens with me instead of leaving it back in Virlet. I shall have to bite the bullet and buy another. This one is the one that I would really like, but I’m already selling my body on Boots Corner for the next 20 years so it will have to wait for a while. Does that place you know have anything cheaper, Rhys?

normandy trader port de granville harbour manche normandy franceLunch was spent sitting on the wall overlooking the harbour where I could gaze upon the activity.

And Normandy Trader sneaked in during the morning at some time. Here she sits, not yet loaded. Presumably waiting for a delivery.

The lizard that loiters at the foot of tha wall now seems to have become quite tame. He knows that I’m going to eat a pear, and he knows that some of it will fall to the floor. He’s a big fan of pears and at first he’d hide in the long grass and dash out for a quick bite and dash back in.

Now though, he comes out and hangs around waiting, even climbing over my foot to reach the piece that falls.

This afternoon I crashed out again and then carried on with the photos and a session on the guitar.

I went for my walk too, and they must have been flaming quick with Normandy Trader because she had badgered off. Slung her hook, you might say.

But they aren’t being flaming quick with Caliburn. He’s still at the garage and there’s been no phone call. Still, he’s out of mischief there.

Tea was a delicious mixed vegetables steamed in the microwave, vegan sausages and a nice thick creamy vegan cheese sauce. The freezer and the grated vegan cheese from the Loving Hut in Leuven haven’t half improved my diet. But I’ve run out of strawberries now.

Another walk this evening and now I’m ready for bed. And I need it too. I must remember to download my dictaphone notes tomorrow.

Tuesday 22nd May 2018 – I WAS RIGHT …

… about the long walk home at lunchtime. Five and a half kilometres back from where I left Caliburn having his service, in the sun and the heat.

I did it all in one go too, although I did stop for a baguette and also at the place that does iced sorbets – I deserved a treat, I reckon.

But when I returned here, I crashed right out. And for a good while too. A very late lunch therefore, and then I came back – and crashed out yet again. Ruined my day and all of my plans, but that’s just how it’s going to be for the future so I may as well get used to it.

I’d had an early start too – out of bed before the second alarm went off at 06:60, even though I didn’t feel much like it. And then after the usual morning performance I had a good shower and a clean-up. Have to look my best if I’m going out.

First stop was at the second-hand shop where they allowed me to try out the lens that I mentioned, for which I was grateful. I’ll have to examine closely the results and see if there is any difference between the images taken with their lens compared to mine. This will tell me once and for all whether it’s the lens or the camera.

As for the other camera with the useless lens, I’ll have to organise sending that off for examination sometime soon.

Next stop was the car wash where I gave Caliburn his annual bath. And with all of the dirt that fell off him, you wouldn’t think that I’ve only done a mere 1800 kms since last March. There were times, as we all know, when I could do 1800 kms in a weekend, never mind in 15 months or so.

So he’s now at the garage, I walked home and I’ve been pretty useless … "so what’s new?" – ed … for the rest of the day. Even missed my afternoon walk. But I’ve had to get myself into gear because I ended up having two simultaneous conversations on the internet, both of which might involve lengthy journeys on the road and for which a great deal of preparation will be required.

And not only that, I’ve seen a little trip that is tempting me. But for that I’ll have to start selling my body on Boots Corner. It’s a little expensive.

Tea was a frozen curry out of the freezer, and then I managed an evening walk. But I’ll have to go back out again in a minute because I forgot to look at the fitbit when I was out just now. And when I did remember, I was on 97% Being so close, I’ll have to push it over the 100%

And then bed. I’m absolutely whacked, and I have to do it again tomorrow but in reverse when I go to pick up Caliburn.

I’m clearly not as young as I was.

Friday 26th May 2017 – HOW LONG IS IT …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 23rd May 2017 – AS I PREDICTED …

… last night, I am completely and thoroughly exhausted. To such an extent that I had one of these very deep and total crash-outs this afternoon for about an hour or so where a bomb could have gone off in here and it wouldn’t have awakened me.

It was a late night last night after all, and something of a struggle to rise up and leave my stinking pit. But nevertheless, there I was eventually, having breakfast.

After the usual relax, Caliburn and I hit the streets and headed off for the garage. It’s right out on the edge of town, near the by-pass about 1km further on from LeClerc and round the back of the industrial estate. And that’s where Caliburn might be found right now (hopefully) – having his annual health check ready for the controle technique on Friday.

I’ve no idea how far away it might be from here, but as you know from yesterday I resolved to walk back if I could. And so I set out.

And that was something of a mistake because I ended up going past the BUT – a household furnishing shop something like a small downmarket IKEA. They have a good electrical section however and that’s where I went for a mooch around. And there they had one of these table-top ovens – one that works on a 13-amp plug. It’s quite big, and has all of the controls such as a thermostat, timer, and (more importantly) a diffusion fan for spreading the heat around. It’s an ex-display model and reduced for a quick sale to just … errr … €59.

Of course, I couldn’t resist it at that price, especially as it means that I can get back to baking and making pizzas properly, and so there we are. I don’t have it yet because I was on foot. But it’s all paid for now and I can pick it up when I go to recover Caliburn.

You’re probably wondering why I’m buying all of this really cheap electrical rubbish instead of some decent stuff. There are in fact a couple of good reasons for this

  1. Most importantly, I need a lot of stuff (more than I anticipated in fact) so the idea is to buy it as quickly as possible. If it doesn’t last long and breaks down, it’s no big deal and I can replace it with decent stuff. But bit by bit of course, which will spread the expense out better. It won’t all break down at once (remember that I said that).
  2. You’re probably thinking that this cheap stuff won’t last all that long. But the truth is, neither will I. You know my medical prognosis, so there’s no point in me buying expensive stuff that will last 20 years, because the probability is that I won’t

So having spent yet more money, I set off slowly home. And despite my comments yesterday about there being plenty of cafés along the route, I only stopped twice – once to check the train times and the railway station and the second time to buy a baguette. And it was a very weary me that finally crawled up the stairs to crash down on the sofa.

It took me just under 2 hours to make it back (including my time in the BUT) and I knew that I had done it too. IT was a good half-hour before I could summon up the effort to make a coffee.

At lunchtime I went out with my butties to sit on the wall overlooking the harbour in the beautiful sunshine. I had a book and the idea was that I would sit out there for a couple of hours. But it wasn’t to be because I could feel myself dropping off (to sleep, not the wall, although that would naturally have followed). And so I came back here to crash out.

Tonight’s tea was excellent. Not baked of course, but microwaved spuds, microwaved peas and carrots (out of a tin) and a microwaved vegan millet-and-bulghour burger smothered in vegan margarine. That was fit for a King.

Now it’s an early night and I’mm go and watch an episode or two of the Saint in memory of Roger Moore who died today.

And tomorrow? It’s going to be a difficult day. I’ll seize up overnight and that’ll set me back for a couple of days. But at least I now have an over, which is a big sign of progress.

Monday 22nd May 2017 – IT WAS A BEAUTIFUL …

… day today – but not that I would know very much about it because I’ve had one of those days when I’ve not even set toe – never mind foot – outside the apartment.

Last night was another difficult night and just by way of a change – ho hum – I was awake quite early. But there was no danger of me ever leaving my stinking pit at any silly hour. I loitered within bed until the alarm went off and crawled out of bed.

There have been a couple of setbacks here today. Last night just as I was going to bed, the electricity went off with quite a loud click. The only way to start it up again was to unplug everything.

So this morning I went through a process of elimination – plugging everything back in and switching it on until the main fuse went again. Many years ago I had an expensive coffee percolator and when I left Belgium in 2006 I gave it to Marianne. When I emptied her apartment in 2013 I recovered it and it’s been hanging around in the Auvergne since then, just having a very occasional airing when the weather was good enough to run it.

So yesterday was the first time that I had used it, and sure enough, it’s another one of these items that all these years of storage hasn’t done much good.

And that’s not the only thing either. I’ve been telling you about the broken laptop and how I’m running it here with an external screen – something else that I recovered from Marianne’s. The power surge and the blown fuse have done something to that too and it’s not firing up now. It took me quite a while to work on that before I gave it up as a hopeless task. ++–

Apart from that, I’ve dealt with a pile of correspondence today. Changes of address, changes of bank account, all that kind of thing. That’s kept me out of mischief for quite a while. In fact I was late for lunch and late for tea too, and it’s still nothing like finished.

Tomorrow I’m having a day out. Caliburn is going for his annual service and that’s quite a hike away right across on the other side of town. There’s a bus back, but I’m going to have a go to see if I can walk back. It might take my quite a while, but I’ll see how I get on. There are plenty of cafés on the way back anyway.

So that calls for an early night. I need to be on top form tomorrow.

Thursday 19th May 2016 -I WAS OFF …

… on my travels again today.

I started off at the Doctor’s this morning at &0:00, only to find that my doctor is on holiday and it was a locum in attendance. That means that most of what I wanted to discuss was pretty pointless but I handed over a few letters from the hospital and had a form signed, as well as a quick check-up. My heart-beat is high but apart from that, things seem to be quite normal for now.

Montlucon was the next port of call. I had to pay a bill at the laboratory that does my blood tests and then another bill at the tax office for all of the documents that the hospital gave me before I went off to Leuven. There’s nothing else outstanding that I cans ee for the moment, although I have a couple of bills to pay at Leuven when I return.

Once that was out of the way I went back home for an hour, most of which was spent chatting to Nicolette whom I encountered in the lane. She seemed to be quite concerned about my health, which is nice of her.

Caliburn had his controle technique at 15:OO and the garage had forgotten that I was coming. But they squeezed us in and of course Caliburn passed with flying colours. And then we nipped off to the other side of St Gervais d’Auvergne for his service. So he’s all done and dusted now and ready for the road.

Back here, I crashed out for an hour and then made tea. Microwaved potatoes and mushroom and lentil curry was on the menu followed by some of Liz’s home-made vegan ice-cream. And now I’m off to bed. I’m feeling even worse than yesterday and to make matters worse, my “upset stomach” has returned.

I’ll see if I can pick up where I left off last night because I was off on a few travels too. The first part involved my being somewhere on the continent – it may have been in Occupied Europe or a neutral country during the war but it was a big tower-block kind of building. I was talking to a woman there who was expressing her surprise that the top floor was occupied by the British Royal Air Force Bomber Command which was using the premises to direct the bombing attacks against Germany, whereas just a couple of floors down, the German Luftwaffe had offices used to direct fighter control against the British bombers. I replied that that wasn’t the only thing that was unusual – out in the grounds was a military hospital where half the staff was British and half was German and they were dealing with wounded soldiers of both armies.
From there, I found myself in Crewe in a huge traffic queue trying to go over Edleston Road bridge. I was in a driverless car – a while Volkswagen Karmann Ghia – and so I left the car to see how it would do. And it advanced quite nicely in the traffic, except that it was going too fast for me to walk after and with my illness I wasn’t able to run after it – and this really had be worried. I remember that on the bridge was an end-terraced house with the door round the side (which actually fronted onto Edleston Road) and it was actually my house. I was reminiscing about how many of these houses used to be built on the bridges in Crewe.
We haven’t finished yet, because there was a football match taking place between one of Pionsat’s teams and a team that consisted mainly of females and which only had 10 players. Pionsat were however struggling to get on top in this game and on one occasion they broke clean though the defence and the player had a shot but a defender stuck out a foot and diverted it out onto the post and out for a corner. From the corner the ball came in and the keeper missed it but a Pionsat player headed the ball in off the post for a goal. There were three Pionsat players in an offside position but they weren’t interfering with play so there was no reason why the goal should be disallowed but one of the defenders, a young man, argued so much with the referee that in the end he was sent off the field, which tilted the game even further into Pionsat’s favour.

I’ll see if I can pick it up from there.

Tuesday 17th May 2016 – I’VE BEEN OUT AND ABOUT TODAY

So having gone to bed quite early last night, I ended up chatting to Alison and Liz on the internet. And then, having dozed in and out of sleep for hours, it was midnight when I switched off the radio and finally settled down for the night.

I had quite a few trips down the corridor, what with one thing and another, but was wide awake by about 06:30, having been off to Stoke on Trent during the night. I’d bought a Land Rover chassis-cab with a crane or winch on the back. It was in good condition but a little scabby but down in the scrapyard we discovered two perfect doors (although of a slightly different colour) so we bought them and fitted them. The next task, as my friend explained to me, was the rear valance and he sorted out his angle grinder and wire brush to de-rust it so that we could paint it over. Zero came over for a chat too, which was very nice because it’s been a good few weeks since she’s appeared in one of my nocturnal rambles.

After breakfast I started to organise myself. I sorted out all of the washing into piles that will either go back home or come with me to Belgium, and then I sorted out the paperwork. I made an appointment with my doctor as I have some paperwork that she needs to see and I need a form signing. That’s for Thursday morning.

Once I’d organised that, I went off out and about.

first stop was the garage. It’s time for Caliburn’s Controle Technique on Thursday afternoon, so I’ve booked him in for a service and a visual check to make sure that there’s nothing about to drop off on the road.

The bank was next. There’s an important bill to pay and if I don’t pay it soon I’ll be transported for life or something so that was urgent. And then I went to the Intermarché for a bit of shopping.

Finally, I ended up back at my house where I dropped off a pile of stuff, stripped out the back of Caliburn and gave him a good brushing out, and now I’ve installed my temporary bed in there for when I go back to Belgium. I couldn’t find the OSB that I use and ended up having to use a sheet of plywood as a bed base. It’s not very satisfactory, bending and creaking in the middle, but it will have to do for now until I can think of something better.

But I’ll tell you something – and that is that I’m clearly not well. Two hours of working on Caliburn, and it wasn’t very hard labour that I was doing, and I was done for. I’ve no idea how I’m going to cope in the future if I can’t summon up the energy for this.

Instead of hanging out there to do more work, I ended up coming back here where I crashed out for three hours – really gone, I was. I’ll have to catch up back at home some other time.

Now that I’ve been to the shops and bought some garlic, I made one of my mega-curries tonight with mushrooms and lentils. But there’s plenty left for the next few days because I couldn’t summon up the appetite.

Now I’m off to bed again and to listen to the radio programmes for a while. I’m ready for a good sleep, even though I’ve already had a good sleep just now.

I can’t keep it up like I used to.

Wednesday 20th May 2015 – I’VE SOLVED …

… the question of the damaged computer screen on the old laptop – and I’ve solved it in spades too.

This morning I made a start on the radio programmes and in particular the rock programmes for the next edition of the Radio Anglais programmes that we will be doing.

Using a variety of sources (the SD card out of Caliburn, the music stored on a couple of mobile phones and the music on the memory stick in the Canadian travel bag) I’ve recovered more than enough music to have a good go at a few radio programmes to keep me going.

I’ve done the “miscellaneous” programme, but there’s an add-on missing from the program that I use for making up the live concerts and I’ve no idea where that might be.

But needing to use Audacity led me to require a full screen, and that started me thinking, which is always dangerous.

collection of input output sockets AKAI DVD player France may 2015Ages ago, Terry gave me a cable with an HDMI plug on one end and a USB plug on the other. And both the laptop and the 12-volt DVD player with its impressive 18-inch screen have the aforementioned.

But no matter which way round I plugged the cable in, it wouldn’t carry the signal from the laptop to the screen. Even jury-rigging an ad-hoc USB cable didn’t work either.

However, when I was at Montlucon this afternoon, I purchased the correct cable and – wha-hey! Not only do I have a most-impressive computer screen, I have the most astonishing stereo sound coming out of the speakers of the DVD player.

This is an exciting discovery and I’ll be actively pursuing this avenue in the future.

I took Caliburn into the Ford main agents for his annual service, but here’s a thing. They don’t have a rolling road there so they can’t balance out the brakes. That surely must be a first.

I had to walk into town afterwards and it’s been quite a while since I’ve done that journey.

canal du berry montlucon allier France may 2015My route took me past the site of the old Canal du Berry. Montlucon used to have a huge steel industry and in the days before the arrival, everything came in and out by canal.

This last 5 years or so, they’ve built over the bed of the canal and as I keep on saying, I woder how long it will be before they regret doing that.

medieval centre montlucon allier France may 2015Montlucon is a old Medieval walled city, although you might not think so if you have only ever see the outskirts of the place.

Liz was working until 18:30 and so that gave me plenty of opportunity to go for a wander around and see what was going on, as well as grabbing something to eat

medieval centre montlucon allier France may 2015This is believed to be one of the oldest buildings in the town, dating from the 14th Century, and it certainly looks it too.

There are several other old buildings in the immediate vicinity, noe of which is as old as this but well-worth a look all the same.

medieval centre montlucon allier France may 2015This though is my favourite building in Montlucon, but what lets it down is its immediate surroudings. Everything has been “redeveloped” with modern concrete slab construction.

It’s not clear whether it was the Mayor or the RAF that was responsible for the demolition in the immediate vicinity, but it’s far enough away from any major centre of any military importance to have been the RAF.

modern montlucon allier France may 2015At least when they rebuilt the city, they had the good sense to leave a large open space all the way from the railway station to the chateau so that there’s this most impressive view, and the fountain sets it all off nicely.

But I really cannot think what must have gone through the minds of the mayor and the town council to have rebuilt thiese dreadful concrete monstrosities.

memorial to SNCF railway employees died in World War II montlucon allier France may 2015Talking of the railway station, there has been some “talk” about the lack of resolution of the French in resisting the German invaders during World War II.

This part of France was only occupied for two years, and this is a memorial to the railway employees of the Montlucon railway depot who lost their lives due to “war-related incidents” during the war.

I’m not sure how many people worked at the depot, but there are 28 names on the list, all of them civilians. It doesn’t say how each of the people died, but I bet that it wasn’t peacefully in bed.

Wednesday 1st February 2012 – I’M CALIBURN-LESS…

… at the moment.

He’s gone to the mender’s for his annual check-up and I fear it’s going to be another expensive one as apparently he has a warped front disc. And that might explain why the tyres have been wearing unevenly and also why the braking has never been as good as I would have liked ever since he was new.

But something to do with me that is “warped”. That’s no surprise to anyone, is it?

So this morning Caliburn and I dug ourselves out of a snowdrift and headed off to Montlucon. And I found a car wash that was open (despite the cold) next to the LIDL, so Caliburn could have his annual bath.

I was quite tempted myself but mine’s not due for another couple of months or so. But Caliburn is clean, anyway and the salt has been washed from out of his wheel arches.

At the Auchan, where I did some desultory shopping, I came across, at long last, a decent camera bag. The right size, with lots of pockets and so on. It was expensive, but then again so is my camera equipment and leaving it rolling around on the floor of Caliburn is not really a solution.

I also bought some tins of ratatouille for the storeroom, having noticed the label and thinking “that’s just the brand for me!”. But with lesdyxia luring KO, a closer look at the label revealed that it is in fact branded “Pre-vert”, or ‘Green Meadow’.

Ahh well.

Having left Caliburn at the garage on the edge of town, I had to walk into the centre to meet Liz who had been teaching there today and who had offered to bring me home.

And dressed up in layers of coats and jackets with gloves, hat and furry boots to counter the Combrailles weather, while Montlucon was basking in a barmy mere -2°C, it made me feel like Nanook of the North. and I spent a good while looking around, but I couldn’t find him anywhere.

I did however catch a glimpse of myself in a mirrored door, and I reckoned that I looked just like someone whose trawler had just docked in the harbour. Ahhh, the sartorial elegance of it all.

Back home, we are about to experience something of a crisis – we’ve run out of Christmas cake! Whatever am I going to do now?

But the good news is that I’m sitting here in my little room, basking in a balmy 23°C while outside, it’s -6°C. And all done on free fuel as well.

What an excellent buy this woodstove was!

Tuesday 31st January 2012 I DIDN’T LAST LONG …

… outside this morning.

Just enough to cut up an old rotten chevron and then cold damp hands (I forgot to dry my gloves) drove me inside.

First thing that I did was to clear the bedroom of some of the junk that was in there. A pile of cardboard boxes were flattened down, the old woodstove went outside, and they were followed by the old windows. And as an aside, I now have a woodshed with windows 😉

Next task was to dig Caliburn out of the snow. And there was plenty of that to move as well. I eventually put him at the top of the hill and we went for a little drive in the snow – I need to be sure that I can move around tomorrow as he is off to be serviced.

After lunch I made some more space in the bedroom and carried on in there.

Now all of the plasterboarding on the outside walls of the bedroom is finished – something about which I am very pleased. I’m glad that I’ve done that. It looks quite good too. What it needs now is to be all taped down at the edges and then filled.

And when that’s done, I can carry on with the ceiling.

That’s two outside walls that have been plasterboarded. The third wall is the back wall and of course there’s a fitted wardrobe built into that. The fourth wall is of course the stud wall and half of that – against the corridor – is done. The half that is against the bathroom I can’t do yet until I’m able to sort out the plumbing. And then I also need to fit the door.

The window opening needs edging too, and then the floor has to be done.

But thinking about it, I’ll be putting hardboard on the floor and then putting some of that flooring stuff on top.

But it’s nice to see some light down at the far end of the tunnel and if this cold spell continues, I might see even more.

I’m also at the stage where I’m actively thinking about the bathroom too and how that is going to evolve. I reckon that it won’t be long before I have the plasterboard on there as well. But that means replacing the floor first.

But seeing how the weather has suddenly turned nasty, I’m still impressed with that 10 days of warm weather just after New Year when I managed to do the roof on the lean-to.

It really was astonishing and I’ll be talking about that for years.

Wednesday 23rd February 2011 – We are back in Brussels again

Liz, yours truly, and also Caliburn who is much better and thanks everyone for the best wishes he was sent.

So yesterday I went back to my farm in the Ka (which I got to like much more than I did the first day I drove it) in order to hunt down some paperwork. It didn’t take me long to break in and once there I did some chilling out. Quite literally as it happened as the temperature was a mere 5.6°C in my attic. While we were away the temperature there had dropped to as low as -0.6°C which is hardly surprising as the temperature outside had dropped as far as -12.4°C on one occasion.

We then headed off to Riom for shopping and it was there that the garage rang to say that we could pick up Caliburn and so once we had sorted ourselves out we set off for here. On the way home the gorgeous sunny day slowly descended into a grey miserable wet evening and by the time we were climbing into the Ardennes at the back of Chalons sur Marne it was snowing heavily. Crossing over the Ardennes into Belgium was fraught, having to pick our way around abandoned lorries, sliding around roundabouts on the handbrake and so on. Poor Liz went about 50 miles with her eyes closed. It was not a journey that I would particularly like to do again unless I have to.

03:00 when we arrived back in Brussels after all of this, and Terry was waiting by the window for us. He’d heard about the weather and was rather anxious for our well-being which was quite nice of him.

But now, I’m off to bed to make up for what I’ve missed out on. I’m exhausted.