Tag Archives: caliburn wheel

Thursday 2nd December 2021 – I’M NOT SURE …

… what happened today. It didn’t feel as if I’d done very much but when I look back on it, I don’t have too much cause for vomplaint.

Mind you, it started off as rotten as it could be because the alarm didn’t go off and I awoke bolt-upright at 07:54. Apparently I hadn’t plugged the phone in correctly at night and the battery had gone flat. I can do without days like that.

Once I’d had my medication and checked my mails and messages the next step was to check the dictaphone for messages. There were a few entries on there that were transcribed. The earlier days have been added to the relevant entries, and then I turned my attention to today’s.

Last night I was on board a small boat heading towards Greenland and this was going to start to become very interesting for the people who were around here with me but I awoke instead.

Later on I was working at the radio. We were going to record a discussion but for some unknown reason I could not get the sound correctly on my recorder. I’d been trying for half an hour and everyone was really fed up of waiting. Just towards the end of the time it began to be more promising so I thought that I’d go for a trip down the corridor while they were waiting for me. They were playing some music while they were waiting. I had my little Acer laptop and the back was off it. And if you want to know the rest of what happened here, you’ll have to wait until you’ve finished your meal.

Later still I was with Nerina last night. I’ve forgotten a lot of this but we ended up being in Germany. We didn’t really have much time but we found ourselves somewhere round by the border where East Germany used to be. We crossed over the border, not that there was a border to cross these days and picked up a road that was signposted “Dresden”. We followed that for a while. Nerina asked “how are we going to find our way back?”. I replied “we’ll drive down here for a bit and then look on the map for villages near the border, turn down to a village near the border and then go back that way”. We drove that way for a while and then came to a whole row of black and yellow posts and a deserted strip of countryside. That looked immediately like the border to us and we followed it for some time. In the meantime, we encountered a convoy of old British cars, Morris 1000s and the like. There was no border where we were but the posts that held the fencing and barbed wire were still there as a kind-of symbolic gesture. Nerina was driving. We went round a bend and came to a ford so I told her to take it easy. She did, and she got through. She reminded me of a time where she’d driven through a ford but had stopped, got out ang got her feet wet as she stepped into the water. I said “you’d done the difficult bit, hadn’t you, but you fell down on the easy part”.

There was something somewhere where I’d had a new starter fitted on the car. I’d ended up in a garage somewhere while I was waiting to load up the car with my stuff but I could walk around underneath the car and could see that a couple of bolts on the starter were loose. I thought that I’d go and find a spanner. I had my tool kit with me but could find an open-ended 15mm spanner but these looked like 16mm bolts to me and I couldn’t find a decent 16mm spanner. I thought “this is typical. Here I am in an ideal situation to put this right. I couldn’t wish for anywhere better. I can walk around and work on the car in perfect comfort but yet here I am and I can’t find the flaming tool that I need”. All this sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Incidentally, when I say that I “awoke”, I don’t actually mean that. I’m still asleep when I’m dictating these notes, as you could tell if you were to listen to them, but I snap out of the deep unconscious into something that is not so deep that enables me to control the dictaphone, that kind of thing. I don’t know how else to explain it.

Once I’d finished that I went downstairs to put the first coat of paint onto Caliburn’s wheels. It was pouring down and howling a gale so I had to do it inside the back of the van and the smell was overpowering.

While I was out there I bumped into a neighbour and we had a lengthy chat about nothing in particular.

Back in the apartment I grabbed a coffee and then I busied myself again. I had a few entries to update from while I was at Leuven the other day. They are now all on line and up-to-date.

After lunch I had to order the bits that I need for Caliburn – a new rear light unit, a door mirror glass and a windscreen wiper. And that wasn’t as easy as it might have been either because my on-line payment system kept on kicking me out. It worked fine on the computer but not on the telephone.

Next stop was to go and put the second coat on the wheels. The rain had stopped by now but there was still the wind so I asphyxiated myself in the back of the van again.

beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021By now it was time for me to go out for my afternoon walk.

First port of call was down at the end of the car park to have a look at the beach to see what was happening there. Today we have a small part of a beach, but there didn’t seem to be anyone on it this afternoon.

But you can see how nice the weather has become by looking at the contrast between the part of the photo that is in the shade and the other part that isn’t. Unfortunately though you can’t see the effect that the wind is having.

trawlers returning to port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021You can do in this photo though.

While I was down there looking at the beach I was also looking out at sea to see what was happening and I noticed that we had two trawlers heading our way, on their way home after a day’s fishing.

And they are making heavy weather of it too which is no surprise. You can see the whitecaps on the waves even that far out to sea so you can imagine that there is plenty of force in the wind this afternoon.

This afternoon I was the only person out there. I could walk in comparative pece along the path without being disturbed. Some of the kids were out there orienteering but they were well off in the distance.

portable boat lift chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021Around the headland I walked and then down the path to where I could overlook the harbour.

And there’s plenty of activity with the portable boat lift this afternoon. For a start they seem to have painted it. It’s no longer a rusty white but a nice light-primer grey.

They’ve also painted the wheels too. They were a rusty dark black before but now they are a nice white. If I’d have known that they were painting the wheels I would have taken Caliburn’s down there and let them get on with job on my behalf.

chausiaise joly france ferry terminal port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021Meanwhile, over at the ferry terminal activity seems to have come to a dead stop.

We saw Chausiaise and, behind her, the older of the two Joly France ferries over there a few days ago and by the looks of things they haven’t moved an inch since then.

But then again, there doesn’t seem to be any custom about. I can’t see anyone at all on the sea wall over there. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen the place looking so deserted. You can tell that it’s winter time already and it’s going to be like this until Carnaval.

That is, if there is going to be a Carnaval this year. i’ve just seen today’s infection figures.

trawlers unloading port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021Having said that activity at the ferry terminal seems to have come to a dead stop, that’s hardly the case at the fish processing plant.

There are quite a few fishing boats over there unloading and as we saw earlier when we set out for our walk, they are still coming in. So despite the lousy weather over the last few days, the work still goes on out at sea.

Having finished my walk I went back home and made a coffee and my work then went on too. I’m off to Leuven in two weeks’ time so I needed to make all my arrangements.

It seems that my cheap 07:13 train has died a death. That’s good news in a sense because I’m not scrambling around so early trying to catch a train to Brussels. The train at 06:33 is plenty early enough.

Tea tonight was a couple of those small burgers in breadcrumbs with baked potatoes and veg. They are delicious of course but now I’m running rather low. I foresee a trip to Noz in the near future, although where I’m going to put them is anyone’s guess because the freezer is full.

Having finished my work, I’m off to bed. I have Caliburn’s new tyres to pick up tomorrow and the Law of Averages states that they’ll decide that the worst tyres are the ones that are on wheels that I haven’t as yet painted.

That’s how things usually work around here of course.

Wednesday 1st December 2021 – ONCE AGAIN I HAVEN’T …

… done anything like as much today as I had wanted to.

There have been a variety of reasons for this – not the least being that I had yet another dreadful night, wide-awake at 05:20 and lying there waiting for the alarm to ring at 07:30. I tell you – I’m thoroughly sick of all of this.

As you might expect, it took a good few minutes for me to summon up the energy to leave my bed this morning and then I was pretty much wasted for the rest of the day.

After the medication I had a shower to clean myself up and bang on time Laurent came round for me. We went off to meet Thierry and then the three of us went off to meet Father Christmas and his blasted elves.

As I thought, the interview turned out to fall rather flat. I could understand the logic (whether I agreed with it or not) of submitting the questions in advance, I totally disagreed with the idea of “suggested replies”.

Children have a really fertile imagination and they need to be encouraged to develop it. And sometimes they can come up with some fascinating responses. But having them blindly reading off a script is a pretty dismal activity and it destroys the spontaneity of it all.

Having them all sitting around a table was another bad idea too because it’s always the more powerful ones who are heard. I would have interviewed them one by one where the kids could have responded without any peer pressure and chosen the pick of the answers.

In other words, this affair was micro-managed to an overwhelming degree and Laurent and I were quite disappointed about how it turned out. What had given us the idea for this was that two years ago wandering around the streets one night we had come across Father Christmas and subjected him to an off-the cuff interview. That was a resounding success.

While I was there I took a few photos of Father Christmas and his elves but I can’t publish them of course.

Back here Laurent came in for a coffee and we had a good chat about a few things, and made a few plans for the future.

After he left I went outside to wipe the rust-proofing liquid off the wheels and dry them, but painting them was out of the question. There was a howling gale again and it was sleeting.

Lunch was late again and afterwards I had the morning’s photos to edit and send off. They’ll choose one to illustrate our programme when it’s ready to broadcast.

trawler thora arriving at port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021Once I’d finished that it was time for me to go off for my physiotherapy session.

The wind was if anything rather worse than it had been earlier and it was rather difficult to walk.

And I wasn’t the only one having difficulty moving around either. There was a trawler out at sea battling with the storm to come into port and behind her, Thora was being thrown about by the elements.

When I took this photo she was actually being blown sideways by the wind and was coming into port rather like a crab.

pointing wall Rampe du Monte à Regret Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021Down at the wall at the Rampe du Monte à Regret the pointing of the wall was proceeding apace.

Mind you, I’m not sure what was happening there earlier. On our way back from Father Christmas there was an ambulance and a police car parked up at the side.

The personnel of the vehicles seemed to be quite interested in what was going on down below but as I wasn’t driving and as we had other things to do, I couldn’t go over and have a look.

If it’s anything interesting or important, it’ll be in the local paper in the morning.

Halfway up the hill towards the physiotherapist’s, I had to stop. Not because I was out of breath but because we suddenly had another torrential downpour. I had to nip into a doorway and put on my rain jacket.

It reminded me of how Superman and all of these other superheroes used to dash into telephone boxes and emerge seconds later with their underpants on outside their trousers. Where do they go to change now with the rise of mobile ‘phones and the demise of telephone boxes?

And then of course, there was my brother. He was often seen with his underpants on outside his trousers, but that was less to do with any superhero status and more to do with the fact that he didn’t have both paddles in the water.

No tilting platform today. There was the usual 5 minutes on the cross trainer and then a load of kinetic exercises that somehow took their toll of me.

She had me once more walking along this narrow beam and throwing a ball about. She was impressed with my reflexes co-ordination but as I have said before, my previous life as a goalkeeper and wicket-keeper had a lot to do with that.

father christmas decorations Place Général de Gaulle Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021On the way home I came via the Place General de Gaulle.

On the way up to the physiotherapist’s I’d seen a few council workmen on up on ladders working on the trees and I was interested to see what they had been doing with them.

By the time that I returned, the workmen had gone but I noticed that some of the trees were now festooned with decorations. And if you ask me my opinion, it’s all a load of balls.

christmas decorations rue paul poirier Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that a couple of years ago Strawberry Moose reckoned that the Christmas decorations in the Rue Paul Poirier WERE ALL BALLS too.

THis year though, there’s been a change, and not before time either. This year we have the street lined with artificial “Christmas Trees”.

Now what was I saying a few days ago about them recycling the same old decorations year after year and wishing that they would make a change?

Clearly, a great many people are very interested in the contents of my pages and pay them a great deal of attention.

La Bavolette Ii thora marité belle france joly france port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021A short while ago we saw Thora having a bit of a struggle to make it into port.

Well she finally arrived, as you can see in this photo, moored up at the loading bay in front of Marité, with Belle France and the newer Joly France ferry – the one with the smaller upper-deck superstructure, moored alongside her.

The little trawler in the background is an interesting boat. She’s called La Bavolette II – at least, for the moment. And I mean that too because in the past she’s been known by several different names.

She was built in 1982 out of wood and displaces 40 tonnes

philcathane l'ecume II port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021This trawler is much more interesting though.

Not Philcathane, of course – not that she isn’t interesting in herself but she hasn’t had the adventures that the other one in the photo has had.

You can tell by her registration number – beginning with “J” – that she’s a Boat from Jersey and how long is it since we’ve seen a boat from the Channel Islands here in port with all of the shenanigans that are going on right now?

There’s a great deal of talk about illegal fishing right now and this trawler – she’s called L’Ecume II by the way, can tell you an awful lot about that because on two occasions about which I know, her crew has been in the dock and emerged with their pockets far lighter than they were when they went in.

And not only that, 18 months ago she found herself stuck on a sandbank because her helmsman had fallen asleep at the wheel.

In other words, she’s quite a well-known boat, for one reason or another.

storm baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021However I wasn’t going to hang around and admire her for too long.

As you can see, out in the Baie de Mont St Michel there was quite a storm brewing up and the gale-force wind was blowing it my way.

As a result, I wasn’t going to hang around. I was going to head for home and a hot mug of coffee, and make plans about what I was going to do for the rest of the week. I actually have a day at home without any interruptions at all – but just you watch all that change.

beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021Before I went in I went to have a look at the beach

And that was rather a waste of time because there wasn’t any beach to look at today. The tide was right in now and the water was at the foot of the cliffs. All I had for my pains was a good battering by the wind.

Back here I had my coffee and sat down to try to do some work.

Checking my messages there was a mail from my Welsh course telling me what ingredients I need for the Christmas Cake I’ll be baking on-line on Friday evening. Treacle isn’t available here so I ended up asking Liz for advice on a replacement and chatting to her for quite a while.

For some reason, tea was quite an effort tonight. I’m experiencing brain-fade – not quite as bad as the nonsense I was churning up last night – but I couldn’t think of what to have for tea. I’d really run aground.

In the end I settled for a burger and pasta. That was the best that I could do.

Right now, although I haven’t crashed out today, I’m thoroughly exhausted so I’m off to bed where I hope that I’ll sleep until I awaken.

But not much hope of that, I’m afraid. All of this is really depressing me.

Tuesday 30th November 2021 – I HAVEN’T DONE …

… anything like as much today as I had wanted to. It’s been a story of continued interruptions.

Well, actually, it hasn’t. There’s only been one unexpected interruption, and that was Rosemary ringing me for one of our marathon chats in the middle of the afternoon. and so where the rest of the time went, I really don’t know but it certainly went somewhere.

For a change I had a reasonable night’s sleep – or, at least I think I did, but I really can’t remember. TI was doing a disco at a party last night. The party was for some local guy and the more I delved into this the more he was an out-and-out crook involved in many activities but he was licensee of the Three Pigeons in Nantwich but had put a tenant in. He was up to all kinds of no good. People had asked me to make sure that some way or another I was able to talk about him and his businesses and I could bring them to everyone’s attention somehow. I thought that that wouldn’t be a problem. I was looking through some photographs of the area and found that the house across the road had two security cameras pointing this way about what was going on at the party. My aim was to have everyone start dancing, making lots of noise, draw their attention to the security cameras and have them do all kinds of silly acts to be picked up on the camera. That would be a really good way to start and I could carry on from there.

Later on I was driving the taxis. There was Nerina and my father, that girl Karen and her boyfriend and a few other people. We were trying to organise some kind of rota for Nerina and I to go away. We had a few people to come in to drive, not very many. We reckoned that it would work if everyone wanted to make it work. My father said that he needed to go and someone else was going but they would be back later so they went off. We reminded them about Peter in Winsford who could drive. There was a taxi job at 09:00. I thought that I’d get the beige Cortina saloon (UOB) ready. I hoped that it would start, everything. I’d get ready to do this job at 09:00 in case no-one turned up. I looked out of the window and the brown Cortina was still there, so was the other one and all the tools were out. had they driven off and left everything behind like that? I went out and there had been some kind of problem with the car that had affected some girl who had been walking past. They were busy talking to her and her boyfriend to make sure that everything was OK. Then I had to find a bed. I knew that a bed was upstairs somewhere so I went with this guy who was staying behind for a while and searched the bedrooms. In the end we found it underneath my mattress that was on the floor. I thought that this is going to be really uncomfortable to sleep when they take away the bed that’s underneath my mattress. I was amazed at just how dirty the place was. There was a big hole in the floor where a floorboard was missing and you could see all the way down into the living room below. I thought that this place was unbelievably dirty and untidy.
There was something else about my youngest sister playing with her dolls but I awoke almost as soon as this started.

First thing this morning after the medication and checking my mails and messages, I cracked on to finish off the journal entry from yesterday. In case you hadn’t noticed, I fell asleep in the middle of writing it up. I’d had a hard day yesterday too.

When I’d finished I sat down to write up my notes from the Welsh lessons from last week and from the weekend, and then to prepare for this weeks. And unfortunately I ran out of time so I went in only half-prepared.

That proved to be my downfall too. Most of the lesson went quite well but I ended up in a Zoom Room with the tutor where I forgot the word for “fifteen” … “it’s undeg pump” – ed.

After a late lunch I went outside and spent an hour or so cleaning, wire-brushing and rustproofing the two wheels that are in the back of Caliburn. When they are dry, I’ll put the first coat on and then the second one on Thursday afternoon ready for the new tyres on Friday.

Back here Rosemary phoned me just as I was sitting down with my coffee and we had a lengthy chat as usual.

beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021Eventually, when I managed to make it outside I went over to have a look at the beach.

And today, there wasn’t any beach at which I could look. The tide is now almost all the way in so that was that as that as far as the beach went. There wasn’t anyone down there at all which is no surprise.

There wasn’t anyone about out at sea either. And that’s despite the tide being well in. That’s the time that you would expect all of the boats to be heading for home in order to be in before the harbour gates close.

workmen's compound place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021While I was out there on the car park I went over to have a look at the workmen’s compound which was blown all the way across the car park in the storm.

By the looks of things they’ve been out collecting the various parts of the compound from around the place and grouped them all together where they used to be. They haven’t reassembled it as yet but I suppose that that’s a job for another time.

There wasn’t anyone else out there except me this afternoon so I could go for a walk in peace and quiet without having to worry about anyone else and whatever infection they might be carrying around with them.

broken concrete posts bunker pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021Round on the lawn at the end of the headland there’s a pile of old concrete pillars that they have collected from somewhere.

No matter how strong the storm was, I don’t think that it’s caused this kind of damage. By the looks of things these pillars haven’t been outside in the weather so I wonder if they have managed to fight their way into another one of the old bunkers and pulled them out.

Across the car park I went, down to the end of the headland. There was nothing going on out at sea today and there was no-one down on the bench at the cabanon vauban either, so I pushed on along the path.

chausiaise joly france ferry terminal port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021There was no change in situation at the chantier naval so I had a look over at the ferry terminal.

Over there right at the front of the queue is Chausiaise, the little freighter that runs out to the Ile de Chausey, and behind her is one of the Joly France ferries. There’s no step in the stern so she must be the older one of the two boats.

That was about everything that was going on out there this afternoon so I came on home for a coffee and to finally make a start on some work – not that I did very much this afternoon. For some reason I was feeling quite exhausted.

Tea tonight was veggie balls with pasta and veg, and then I reorganised the freezer to make room for the curries that I made yesterday. The freezer is pretty much over-full. I should really have bought a larger freezer, but I would have filled it with other stuff instead so it wouldn’t make any difference.

So now I’m off to bed. I’m radioing tomorrow – going to interview a pile of elves. I have all of the exciting jobs, haven’t I?

Friday 20th November 2020 – DOESN’T CALIBURN …

new bodywork caliburn Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall… look smart with his new bodywork all finished off?

Mind you, he ought to at the price that it cost me for the work. Before he gave me the bill, the garage proprietor asked me if he should fetch the defibrillator, and when I saw the cost, I wished that he had.

But there’s a 5-year guarantee on the body repairs and that will see Caliburn and I go out together. No-one has ever lived longer than 11 years with this illness and although it was only 5 years ago that I was diagnosed with it, I reckon that I had it for a good while before then. I remember CLIMBING UP TO THE CHATEAU DE MONTSEGUR in early 2014 and being totally wiped out in a situation that I would have run up without any problem a couple of years previously.

new bodywork caliburn Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere’s no reason to dispose of Caliburn and have something else for whatever time remains. A new vehicle wouldn’t be worth it at all and if I were to buy something second-hand, who knows what I’d end up with?

What I need to do now is to attend to the wheels. He’ll need two tyres on the front sometime soon, and I have two old wheels in the back. I’ll clean those up and paint them and have winter tyres fitted, and then with the two that I take off, I’ll clean and paint them and have new tyres fitted on there too.

But I’m not impressed with the broken mirror though. That’s “disappointing” to say the least.

Something else that’s disappointing is that I missed the third alarm. What makes me feel even worse about that is that after the second one had gone off I remember saying to myself that I’ll beat the third one easily seeing as I’m so wide awake.

Oh Folly! Folly! As the late-lamented Stanley Unwin would have said.

First thing to do was to listen to the dictaphone.

There was a whole group of us looking at a map of the Far North of Russia. One of my friends was there and we were pointing out where we’d been on our famous trip to the North, although she was getting it wrong so I was having to show her on the map a lot better than she was guessing where we’d been. Another friend was there as well having a good look. We were talking about our journey, all this kind of thing very much in the same sense as we did about a dream quite a while ago when we were out in the High Arctic. I went to get my things. I had a tray with coffee and a jug of tomato juice, a few other bits and pieces. As I picked up the tray off the table the jug brushed the kitchen cupboard overhanging it and knocked it over. The tomato juice went everywhere. I just put the tray down in despair because I knew that this had really happened to me before and it’s going to happen to me again. It’s always the case when I’m in a rush – I have to do 3 jobs instead of 1. There was much to it than this but I can’t remember now – something to do with the taxis as well. I was having to go out on the taxis later but it was getting late and no-one had rung me. We were bound to be busy because it was a Saturday night and I’d have to go out. But I thought “who was going to take over on the radio?” This kind of thing. Then I thought that Nerina isn’t here either. She’s still away somewhere but she’ll be coming back and be stuck in the office. Maybe she could do the radio but I don’t know anything more about that.

Some other time during the night I had a computer and I was trying to do something. We were looking at this home video of someone’s bedroom and marvelling at the old selection of electronic and electrical appliances that there were back in the 70s and 80s that we don’t see now. Later on I had my computer coupled up to a reel-to-reel tape recorder. I was recording tracks that I was picking up on the internet radio onto that with the idea of editing them afterwards with Audacity or something. The idea was that once everything was stored onto master tapes it can be copied onto CD and filed away. I was having to work out how this was going to work

After the medication I carried on with a task that I started yesterday and hadn’t mentioned. There were almost 250 unread e-mails in my mailbox, some of which were going back to the early summer, as well as a whole pile of ones that I’d already read and which were now serving no useful purpose except to waste space.

Consequently I’ve been going through them yesterday and today, dealing with a pile of stuff that I should have dealt with a long time ago and there is still some to do. And a few more people will have a surprise over the next few days when they start to receive replies to messages that I sent out months ago.

Something else that required attention was to ring up a certain telephone number in the UK. Between 1972 and 1974 I worked for an Insurance Company in the UK and I was wondering whether I might be entitled to a pension payment in this respect. It took me ages to track down who I should speak to because the company has changed hands a few times since then but I eventually managed to speak to someone who reckoned that he could help me.

In the end it turned out that because I

  • was under 30
  • worked there for less than 5 years

There was nothing for me at all. But still, it was worth the phone call simply to find out.

It’s hardly a surprise that after all of this I crashed out on the chair for half an hour. And a really deep one too, just like the ones that I was having a week or two ago. Just recently, if I have crashed out at all, it’s just been drifting off for 5 or 10 minutes or so.

pearl trawler port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAfter lunch I headed off to pick up Caliburn – yes, I’d telephoned the garage too to see if he was ready.

Down in the harbour there was a trawler that I don’t recall seeing (although I must have done, I suppose) before. She’s registered in Cherbourg and she’s called “Le Pearl”, and proudly displays on her superstructure the fact that she comes from Granville

She’s quite a pretty craft, and by the looks of things she’s fairly new too so maybe she really is new and has replaced an older one that has been put out to grass somewhere. She’s only been mentioned in shipping records since 20th October this year.

We’ll have to see if there’s anything in the papers about it.

material on quayside for loading port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallFurther along in the harbour, there are signs of activity at the loading bay underneath the crane.

A whole pile of builders’ material is now there ready for loading. It looks as if one of the Jersey freighters is going to be coming back into port very shortly to take it all away.

The next question is not “which one will it be?” but “will I get to see it?”. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall having seen just recently a really rapid turnround of the ships and we’ve probably missed more than we have seen since they have begun to extricate their digits

electricians installing christmas lights cours jonville Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallI pushed on … “pushed off” – ed … into town on my way to the garage, but I only got as far as the Cours Jonville before I stopped again.

Regular readers of this rubbish will also recall that we’ve seen the Christmas decorations pushing up like mushrooms all over the town. Here I was lucky enough to stumble upon a couple of Council workmen with a cherry-picker who were busily stringing up a collection of fairy lights around a few of the trees down here.

Leaving them to it, I pushed on along the Boulevard Louis Dior (and forgot to take the photo of the alley yet again) and up the steps at the end, past the railway station and out of town.

chateau d'eau st nicolas Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallIt’s a long, weary trudge all the way out of town but I was determined to do it on foot as a form of good exercise, and I’m glad that it wasn’t very warm.

Past the centre of St Nicolas and into the countryside and here at the roundabout on the edge of town is the water tower that we have seen in the background of so many photos. I quite like this water tower. usually they are simply slabs of dull-grey concrete but with this one they have made an effort to try to make it blend into the environment.

By now, I’m well in the countryside and still a kilometre or two to go.

hen in the road rue des drakkars Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallHowever I wasn’t alone on my travels.

There is a housing estate on the very edge of the town beyond the roundabout and here standing on the corner watching the world go by is a chicken. What he’s doing here I really don’t know but seeing as he near to a pedestrian crossing he might be trying to cross the road.

And as for why he would want to do that, it’s anyone’s guess.

At the garage they clearly have more faith in me than I have because they had left Caliburn parked in the street Had I had a spare pair of keys I could simply have driven away.

And I made rather a fool of myself in here by complaining that they had set the Controle Technique to expire in July, before I realised that I had been looking at the insurance sticker.

Having paid the bill and recovered from the shock, I went down to Leclerc for the weekend shopping, where I spent a fortune.

One thing that I like about the end of the grape season is that it’s the start of the clementine season and I can polish those off just as quickly as I can polish off grapes.

With not having bought any heavy stuff for ages the bill was somewhat elevated but a lot of that can be blamed on the soya milk that was in three-packs on special offer. My mid-morning hot chocolate gets me through a lot of that.

And interestingly, when I arrived at rhe checkout I found that I had a pile of ham in my trolley. Somewhere along the line I had picked up the wrong trolley and had to retrace my steps until I found mine

Ohhh! The exciting times that we lead these days!

Back here I made a start on the arrears, still getting nowhere rather fast. This isn’t doing me any good at all.

The hour on the guitars was successful again – I enjoyed it just as much as yesterday – and for tea I had a burger that needed eating with some pasta followed by apple crumble.

Just as I was about to go out on my run, Rosemary phoned for a chat. And 2 hours and 48 minutes later we stopped. We had a lot to say.

23:15 is far too late to go out for a run so I was glad that I’d had the marathon walk this afternoon.

Tomorrow I’m going to try my hand at baking seeing as I’ve finished off the banana bread. See what damage I can do to a chocolate cake. But that’s for later. I’m off to bed.

Wednesday 14th December 2011 – HAVING SLEPT …

… in the warmth and comfort of a hotel room, I was up and about quite early and fit for almost anything – if this stinking head cold will let me.

So having gathered my wits which, let’s face it, doesn’t take as long as it might these days, I was off to Liverpool.

As you know, I’m spending a lot of time working on my house and even though I own half a scaffolding, I can never seem to be able to use it as it’s always out doing other stuff.

That’s a situation that is really getting me down so I made a decision a while back that I would buy two bays of scaffolding and keep them just for myself at my house, for use when I want to and at no other time.

And, of course, now that I’m no longer sleeping in Caliburn this trip, I can load him up.

But I had a stroke of luck on the way. Passing a Ford breaker’s down some dingy back street in Speke I noticed a Ford Transit being dismantled. Stopping for a look, it still had one wheel and tyre on it, and the tyre wasn’t too bad.

Not a major manufacturer, it has to be said, but not a remould either. But it wasn’t the tyre that I was really interested in anyway.

Regular readers of this rubbish will know that, being fed up of having to swap tyres over every Spring and Autumn, I’m trying to collect a spare set of wheels so that I can have winter tyres fitted permanently.

This wheel and tyre will do nicely for a spare, and the original spare wheel can come and be rotated onto the road. And so after much negotiation, folding stuff changed hands and there we were.

Even more skilled negotiations down at the Scaffolding place. We had a lengthy chat and I bought what I needed. But because I had my SIREN (French trade registration certificate) with me, I could buy it VAT-free for export. So that saved me a bundle.

Yes, having been lucky with my B&Q trade card when I was here earlier in the year, I brought my SIREN with me so that I could capitalise on whatever other opportunities come my way.

Surfing around on the internet a little later, I noticed that Macclesfield were playing Chelmsford City in an FA Cup replay. That’s not too far away and if I can put my skates on, I can make it. Years since I’ve been to Moss Rose.

So, just like Janet in Tam Lin, off I went, as fast as go can me.

I missed the first five minutes which was no real problem (finding a parking place was, however) but found a comfy seat in the stand behind the southern goal, chatting to a local kid.

But what a dreadful match it was. Macclesfield Town could have played with Stevie Wonder in goal and it would have made no difference because the Chelmsford City attack was woeful.

Chelmsford City had two players – Akurang and Modeste – who looked okay (so it goes without saying that they were both substituted) and Macclesfield had a full-back called Carl Tremarco who was easily the best player on the pitch (and he scored the goal).

As an aside, for anyone who might be interested in football trivialities, Macclesfield’s goalkeeper José Veiga is an International for the Cape Verde national side.

On the way back I found a chippy so had a huge helping of chips and beans to keep me going until breakfast.

And I’m glad that I’m not sleeping out in the van tonight. It’s absolute taters and I’m not well.

Tuesday 22nd November 2011 – YOU CAN SEE …

… what I’ve been doing this morning, seeing as I can’t move the scaffolding until the wind turbine is raised up.

STAIRWAY to upstairs lean-to les guis virlet puy de dome franceI’ve been working inside the lean-to and I now have the five verticals in place for the stud walls with the staircase in between.

The gas bottle is in its home where it will be living. The kitchen will be in the house right behind there, so I’m going to have to run a gas pipe through the wall eventually.

The way that the gas bottle will be moved when it needs replacing is between the two uprights to the left in the rear wall. It’ll just about pass through there and then I’ll have to bring it around to the front and then out.

The stud wall nearest the doorway will be covered with tongue-and grooving and heavily varnished. There will be a cupboard there and a worktop, with a small water heater over the top, running off the surplus electrical energy.

The washing machine will be in that little corner and there will also be a sink.

Now I have my diamond core drills for going through the stonework, the world’s my lobster.

And you did hear me correctly. “Morning”. Despite having had a bad night’s sleep I was up with the lark this morning and outside fairly early, just for a change. That enabled me to get cracking.

And not “this afternoon” either.

One of the projects that we have on the go for Radio Anglais is to do a programme about researching the history of your house.

And Marianne rang me to say that she had such a project to do this afternoon and would I like to go with her to the Mairie and look through the records. Do bears have picnics in the woods?

extracts of property records mairie pionsat puy de dome franceI’m glad that I went because it was extremely interesting there and I learnt an awful lot. But then again that is the point of going.

Records in France in the local mairies go back as far as 1833 (in places where the Germans didn’t burn them) and it’s fascinating to see the evolution of a property.

What is even more exciting is to see o the local tax rolls the reason for tax reductions. Just taking one example, a whole list of rate reductions on certain plots of land in 1884 clearly show exactly where and how the “new road” to St Eloy was built.

extracts of property records mairie pionsat puy de dome franceWe were there for hours going through everything, but it’s not always good news that you unearth.

The problem is though that searching through records can show up many surprises, some of which can be extremely unpleasant. And such was the case today. There’s a kind-of diary circulating around Pionsat, in which the author recounts quite freely a host of detail about his private life, including his birth almost 70 years ago.

But quite interestingly the Deed of Gift of this property back in the 1950s shows that the civil status of his mother was “divorced in 1936 and never remarried”.

So who was the fellow she brought back with her from Paris when she came to resettle in the village in the late 1930s?

The plot sickens.

But at least I’ve had my snow tyre fitted on my new wheel so I’m ready for winter.

I’m also ready for bed. Last night’s late finish and this early start this morning had finished me off.

Saturday 5th November 2011 – ONE THING …

fcpsh fc pionsat st hilaire football club de foot puy de dome france… that I will never understand is how tonight Pionsat’s 2nd XI, with a full complement of players, a decent goalkeeper and several players back in the side who have been missing for ages, can totally outplay an opposition so convincingly and STILL lose 4-3.

It simply beggars belief and those who were watching it will still be pinching themselves tomorrow about this. It seems like as if the football team has been and gorn and done it again and it’s driving me to despair.

fcpsh fc pionsat st hilaire football club de foot puy de dome franceMind you, what also had many spectators scratching their heads was why one of the left-backs and who had played sweeper so successfully for the 2nd XI the last time he played, was playing as an attacking midfielder.

And why a guy who had played in central defence for the 1st XI so successfully (to such an extent that he won my “man of the match” awards the other week) was playing in midfield, and why one of the usual centre-forwards was playing at centre-half.

And why this formation was persisted with after the guy who was playing centre-forward this week (and who was quite effective too) was carried off injured after 30 minutes.

It was all totally mystifying.

This morning I was up early and into Montlucon. I picked up the new wheel for Caliburn that I had ordered last week and I also bought some stuff in Brico Depot, including some cheap kitchen worktops that I’ll use in my laundry room.

But pride of place, and the reason why I went to Montlucon today, was to go to Lapeyre to order the window for the downstairs here.

And Terry was perfectly right, as he usually is. A made-to-measure window for the bedroom cost me €650 back in the early part of the year. The window in the living room is larger but rather than go for a made-to-measure window, there’s a standard-size window that’s 1cm narrower and 2cms shorter than the opening.

If I don’t mind filling in around the window opening, then that window will cost me all of €342. Do bears go for picnics in the woods? 

And it will be ready on 25th November as well. That means that it will be installed before the severe winter sets in.

So what I’ll do on the next rainy day or two is to plan the fitting of the front door. It probably won’t be glazed, but I’ll screw a board and some insulated plasterboard over it and that should stop the draughts.

And with the new fire, I might even be warm here this winter at this rate.

Saturday 29th October 2011 – IT TOOK …

fcpsh fc pionsat st hilaire puy de dome france… just 30 seconds of madness for Pionsat to throw away a football match this evening.

4-3 up and in the dying minutes of the game against a team 2 Divisions higher up, one of the attackers elects to take the ball down to the corner flag and sit there to waste a minute or two.

But he loses the ball, it’s played hurriedly upfield into space deep into the Pionsat half. There’s a race on for the loose ball, which is won by a Pionsat defender

fcpsh fc pionsat st hilaire puy de dome franceUnder pressure from two attackers, and after all that I have said and after all that I have written and after all the time that I have been saying and writing, he goes to whack it upfield instead of playing it out into touch to give his fellow defenders time to come back.

His kick is poor as you might expect, and it cannons right into the midriff of one of the attackers, and then bounces out into the path of the other who has only Matthieu in goal to beat and that, dear reader, is that.

So it’s now 4-4, and Pionsat go to kick off.

fcpsh fc pionsat st hilaire puy de dome franceAnd from the restart, Pionsat lose possession and Clermont go on the attack. The forward is brought down and a quickly-taken free kick is fired into the penalty area and headed home while the Pionsat defence is still trying to organise itself. And Pionsat are out of the cup and thats a shame because this was an excellent match played at high speed and in a good temper.

One of the best matches I’ve seen played here since I’ve been following the team, in fact.

Today was shopping in Montlucon and I was off on the wrong foot again as I slept through the alarm and so was 2 hours late going.

And I spent a fortune too. I’ve all the hydrofuge plasterboarding for the shower room seeing as how it was on offer at Brico Depot, and I’ve bought a wheel for Caliburn. That’s because I have two snow tyres that I fit in winter and one of them is on the spare wheel but the other is not on a wheel at all and I have to keep getting it swapped over with one of the summer tyres and that costs me €15 a time.

It makes much more sense to pay €65 for a wheel and keep the tyre on it around here like that, and then I can swap the wheels over whenever it suits me to do so.

But I have also spent €279 on a new woodstove for in here. You may recall that I bought a cheap pot-bellied stove for up here and though while it does what it’s supposed to do it has a very small capacity and it needs to be filled every 15-20 minutes, which is quite difficult when you are chatting for 30 minutes to someone on the telephone.

What I saw in Mr Bricolage a short while ago and which I mentioned at the time was a more conventional woodstove with a glass front. It’s larger and it takes logs of 33cms. It burns horizontally and not vertically, then I can stack it up and it should last for quite a long time without reloading.

But that’s not the exciting bit. This woodstove has a rear exit for the smoke and I recall mentioning that the top of it has a lift-up lid, under which is, I suppose, a small top-loading oven about 6 inches or so deep. I’m immediately thinking “pizza”, “shepherd’s pie”, “oven chips with spicy been taco rolls”, “baked potatoes and baked beans”, “rice pudding” and loads of other things besides.

Yes, when winter bites and I feel the need for hot food and it’s too cold to go downstairs and cook in the verandah at -10°C, and when I want to boil some coffee last thing at night and put it in a flask so I have hot coffee in my room first thing in the morning, I can see a lot of benefit in this new stove and its oven.

I’m hoping to have my money’s worth out of this machine.

The pot-bellied stove isn’t going to be lost, though. I have a cunning plan for that, more of which anon.

I also managed to fit a swim in this afternoon at Neris les Bains. And it was perishing freezing in there again. Even the Polar Bears were complaining. I’m going to have to give the piscine at Neris les Bains a miss for a while if it carries on like this.

Tuesday 7th December 2010 – I HAD A DAY OUT TODAY.

I was quietly drinking a coffee ready to go out and cut wood for this evening when Liz rang me. “Terry and I are on our way to Montlucon. Anything you want?”

Well, as it happens, this very morning I had been making a list of things that I want from Montlucon so I enquired “will you be going to Brico Depot?”
“Of course”
“Well, do you want an extra passenger?”
And so instead of working on my bedroom, I went to Montlucon instead.

I tried a couple of places but no wheel for Caliburn and I also bought a few useful things, including a small coffee pot thingy to fit on my little stove (€25 in the Auchan but only €6 in Gifi) but what was so depressing about the journey was that blasted flaming perishing Brico Depot was blasted flaming well closed for perishing stock taking.

So 30 kms there and 30 kms back for me (and add on another 20 kms each way for Liz and Terry) and the place was closed. So no extra insulation, no bits to finish off the wardrobe.

GRRRRRRRRR at Brico Depot!

But the temperature is crazy right now. It was a grey hazy day with just the odd burst of sun through the clouds but the temperature reached 15°C today. In the heat exchanger it reached 22.3°C. In a space of just about 36 hours the temperature has increased 20°C.

There’s clearly something wrong with this weather right now. But I’m not worrying about it. I didn’t get much sleep last night so I’m having an early night.