Tag Archives: carl rafn

Wednesday 15th December 2021 – HERE I ALL AM …

… not sitting in a rainbow but sitting in my little room in the Dekenstraat in Leuven. And to my dismay, I haven’t had an upgrade this time.

Still, not that I’ worried too much because apart from the steps up to the second floor here, this little room is much more convenient for me even if it’s smaller.

And there’s still a double bed in here so that if one of the usual suspects from my nocturnal rambles, such as TOTGA, Castor or Zero, puts in an appearance then there will be plenty of room for us to move about

And it won’t be very long before I’m actually in it because I’ve had another difficult day I try my best to have an early night the day before I travel but last night I was chatting to someone on line in what became a very lengthy and involved conversation so i was quite late when I finally crawled into bed

And then, the usual difficulty about going off to sleep meant that whe the alarm went off at 06:00 I was … errr … far from ready.

Preparing to leave was something of a rush as well and I didn’t accomplish anything like as much as I usually do. But I did find out that my icing hasn’t set. Butter (well, vegan margarine) produces a soft icing so I seem to be stuck with that.

What I’ll have to do in the future is to work out how to make hard icing. Like I said, I have a lot to learn aout baking cakes.

Although it was cold and damp this morning, it was better weather than when I was out photographing the Christmas lights and so as it was still dark this morning I re-photographed them. And they do look better in the lighting conditions that we had, as you will find out in due course.

For a change, I didn’t have anyone sitting next to me all the way to Leuven which makes a change.

The train to Paris was on-time and I spent much of the journey sorting out the back-up from the big office computer onto the portable laptop. Having shuffled the music around to shake up the pack, I have to do this on the laptop too.

Having done that, and having had a little doze, I set about doing some work.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I’ve sent in my CV in the hope that it will be picked up by a certain travel company. And in this respect I was collating all of the documents that I’ve collected during my research into the Norse in North America and also the Labrador coast.

Having done that, I’ve started to review the stuff that I have on the Norse and prepare to write a thesis on the subject (as if I don’t have enough to do as it is). I started off by reading the “Flatey Book” and “Hauksbook” – two books from Iceland in the 14th Century that include the earliest written copies of the sagas that recount the Norse voyages to North America.

Following that, I’ll make a start on Carl Rafn’s “Antiquities Americanae”. Written in 1848, it’s the earliest book that takes seriously the Norse Sagas.

Rafn though makes two mistakes in his calculation though.

He puts the Norse settlements in Massachusetts or thereabouts because firstly he works out the sailing distances based on the speed of a Norse longboat. However Leif Ericson didn’t use a longboat. According to the sagas he “bought a boat from a trader” who was freighting goods to Greenland. And it wasn’t until a silted-up river was excavated in Roskilde in 1961 that a Norse freighter, called a knarr was discovered and its sailing characteristics were found to be completely different to a longboat.

Secondly, he calculated the distances based on a day of 24 hours. It seems to me to be totally improbable that the Norse would have been continuing to sail during the hours of darkness in strange waters near an uncharted coast where they wouldn’t know what shoals and other hazards they might encounter.

Another thing that needs to be considered is “what happened when they reached the Gulf of St Lawrence”? With about 200 miles of open sea to cross, they would have been more likely to sail down the St Lawrence keeping the coast to their right where they could see it. In fact, there’s a precedent to this with all of the Basque and Portuguese whalers at the end of the 15th Century who set up their camps along the Labrador coast and then down the Gulf of St Lawrence.

We pulled into Montparnasse 2 minutes early and then I had my delightful stroll down the street to the entrance to the Metro station – much nicer than struggling through the labyrinth down below.

As a result I was early yet again arriving at the Gare du Nord. I reckon that I’m about two metro trains in front of where I would have been.

We left Paris Gare du Nord bang on time but were held up on the way and as a result we were a couple of minutes late arriving at Lille Flandres. Then we had the walk across town to Lille Europe where my train was already in.

At Brussels I had another push-me-pull-you, pushed by an old Class 27 locomotive that took me to Leuven. And I had loads of fun trying to make my phone work to show the nice conductor my e-ticket.

When I alighted at Leuven I nipped to the supermarket at the back of the station for the drink and the bread before making my way down here to my room.

Later on I went down to Delhaize for the shopping and the walk back loaded up was a little easier than it has been of late.

Now that I’ve had my tea I’m off to bed even though it’s early. It’s a tough day travelling all this way and doing all this walking, all 130% of it. And there’s more to do tomorrow with my trip up to the hospital.

Tuesday 12th November 2019 – I USED TO BE A WEREWOLF

full moon granville manche normandy franceBut I’m all right noooooooooooooooooooow!

What a beautiful full moon we are having tonight. And to be on the safe side, when I had my morning shower today, I shaved the palms of my hands just in case.

And there was plenty of garlic in my evening meal too – ready for when I go to Castle Anthrax on Thursday

Last night wasn’t as late as it might have been. I was actually in bed at some time round about 01:30. Furthermore, much to my own surprise as well as doubtless to yours, I was up and about long before the third alarm went off, sometime between 06:07 and 06:19.

There was time enough to go on a nocturnal ramble, but I’ll spare you the gory details. After all, you’re probably eating your evening meal or something. Needless to say, a member of my family put in an appearance during the night. And that’s enough to put the willies up anyone, especially me.

An early start and early breakfast meant plenty of time to deal with the dictaphone notes and by about 08:30 I’d done 6 or 7. And I’m glad that I stopped where I did because I’ve reached what might be called a turbulent period in my life when I fell into the pit.

A shower next and a general clean-up and then I was off up to the Centre Agora for a meeting. And the net result is that tomorrow I’m off to interview a rock musician. And on the way home, I was buttonholed by someone else and invited to do another chat to some different people about Uummaannaaq.

weird garage residence le manege granville manche normandy franceThe walk up to the Centre Agora was very pleasant and interesting, especially as I stormed once more up the bank as if I was on my way to invade Poland.

But I came to a dead stop when I was this garage or car port or whatever just here. I wonder what the architect had in mind when he designed this. It certainly can’t have been anything that any normal person might have been imagining.

Probably some Cossack’s daughter. After all she must know the Steppes.

On the way back from the Centre Agora I called in at LIDL for some shopping. Not too much because I’ll be away for a few days starting Thursday and there’s no point in stocking up with supplies that won’t be eaten.

But there were grapes on special offer again and I love grapes, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall. Which reminds me – just excuse me a moment …

After lunch I bashed on with the web site amendments and I have run aground there. I’ve reached the L’Anse aux Meadows pages now and I’m having a serious think about them.

When I wrote them back in 2010 I didn’t know anything like half as much about the Norse voyages to North America as I do now since I’ve been able to lay my hands on books by people like Carl Rafn, Arthur Middleton Reeves and William Hovgaard.

Rafn is a very interesting author because his Antiquities Americanae, written in 1837, was the first book to take seriously the Norse voyages to North America and the first to actually give scientific study to the Norse Sagas.

It was dismissed, even ridiculed, by many subsequent historians, even such reputable people as Nansen who described the sagas as nothing more than “works of romantic fiction”, but nevertheless inspired a great many people to take his work forward.

It led ultimately to William Nunn’s epic “Wineland voyages;: Location of Helluland, Markland, and Vinland” from 1914. Munn was the first person to pinpoint L’Anse aux Meadows as a Norse site (and as far as I am aware, the first person to pick up on Climate Change too) and which led 50 years ago to the excavations of the Ingstads and their discovery on the Norse ruins.

There was another phone call to be made too. I still haven’t received the paperwork for Caliburn’s insurance despite my conversation of 22nd October, so I rang them again. They told me that they hadn’t received my e-mail with my attachment, something that I find totally bizarre.

So I’ve sent them again. In the meantime they’ve sent me an attestation.

Then I started to pack up all of the rubbish in the living room. Cardboard boxes everywhere that needed moving out and an object that needs packing up ready for returning, as well as taking all of the rubbish out to the bins.

So much involved in the tidying up was I that I missed my afternoon walk. But seeing that I was already at 103% of my daily activity, I shan’t worry too much right now.

But tidying up, hey? What about that?

Tea was a burger on a bap with baked potatoes and veg., followed by fruit salad and blackcurrant sorbet. And it was all absolutely delicious.

trawler night granville manche normandy franceThis evening Iwent out for my evening walk. And straight away I was blasted by a wind the like of which I haven’t felt while I’ve been living here.

Out at sea was a trawler on its way back into harbour and the poor thing was struggling through the waves.

Even at this distance I could see that it wasn’t having a very easy time of it. Like I said, my hat goes off to whoever it is out there in weather like this.

full moon granville manche normandy franceOn and round the corner and into the shelter from the winds.

And here I could eve the spectacular beauty of one of the most perfect full moons that I have ever seen.

The one that I saw at the Phare des Monts on the North Shore of the St Lawrence in Québec in 2012 was certainly spectacular, but for completely different reasons and at a completely different time.

chantier navale port de granville harbour manche normandy franceThe moonlight was bright enough for me to be able to pick up some detail down at the chantier navale and in the outer harbour.

It’s not as clear as the photos that I took last winter, but that’s because this is a hand-held shot and the other one was on a tripod with a very long exposure.

However, I’m not going to be taking a tripod out in a wind like this. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that it didn’t do the Nikon D3000 very much good at all.

trawler night granville manche normandy franceBy now, the trawler that I had seen out at sea was now close to home. And I bet that the crew members were relieved. And so was I too.

And having seen it safely home I headed for home too. At something of a run too and I managed about 300 or 400 metres before I had to stop for breath.

But I soon found my second wind because I was able to run up the top flight of stairs to my apartment. And that reminded me that coming back from my morning out, despite having come up the hill without stopping, I had run up both flights of stairs with no problem.

Rosemary rang me when I returned and we had a good chat for an hour. And now I’m ready for bed. The fitbit, or what’s left of it, tells me that I’ve walked (or ran) 11.2 kilometres today, or 132% of my daily total.

I really don’t know where all of this energy has come from though. I hope that I’m not going to en up paying for it.

Wednesday 17th April 2019 – REGULAR READERS …

musical instruments pointe du roc granville manche normandy france… of this rubbish will recall that back in 2010 in the wilds of Labrador I encountered a musician who sat in isolated scenic spots around Canada and played the accordion.

This evening out on the Pointe deu Roc there was a bassist, keyboardist and drummer doing the same thing.

Well, they weren’t actually doing it, but they had their instruments set out and I found out, as they came running down towards me to stop me giving them a solo on the double bass, that they were only pretending to and that they were filming it with a drone.

Not a sign up anywhere to tell me – or anyone else – what was going on. So serve them right. Having ruined their film set, I wandered off.

Last night though, I didn’t wander far. An early night, but yet another one where I couldn’t go to sleep. By 04:45 I had given up, and I was even up and about before the alarms went off.

It didn’t take me long to finish tidying and packing, and I was actually on the road before the third alarm went off.

The 06:36 to Oostende arrived at the station at the same time that I did. So benefiting from the advantages of my pre-purchased ticket I could leap aboard.

This meant that I was in the station at Brussels-Midi quite early. Plenty of time to go to Carrefour to grab my raisin buns for breakfast, and I took them into a quite corner for a little relax.

The train was in early so we were allowed up. And there I encountered a jobsworth who insisted that I take my ticket out of its plastic jacket so that he could see it.

Sitting next to me on the TGV was an elderly lady, but I didn’t pay much attention to her. I was either attacking my Antiquities Americanae again or else I was having a little … errr … relax.

We were bang on time in Paris Gare du Nord and the metro was good too – just the odd hiccup here and there. But the two metro stations underneath Notre Dame seem to be closed for now.

With no hold-ups along the way I was soon at Vaugirard, and while I was waiting to board the train, I had a chat with a couple of other people too. It’s not like me to be sociable, is it?

The train was quite empty so my neighbour went off to find a seat on her own. I carried on with my book and had a doze for about half an hour too.

But one thing that happened on the train rather offended me.

There was a large North African family in the train and they all alighted at Alençon, bags, baggage, kids and all. And after they had left, one woman sitting in our carriage went down to the luggage rack to make sure that they hadn’t taken her case with them.

It was very conspicuous that she didn’t do that whenever a European family alighted from the train.

It was a nice walk back to here in the warm sunshine, and on arrival I simply sat and vegetated for a while to gather my strength. And I wasn’t as tired as I thought I might have been.

chantier navale port de granville harbour manche normandy franceTea was a plate of pasta and veg tossed in garlic, pepper and olive oil, and then my walk around the Pointe du Roc.

My little walk took me around to see what has been going on at the chantier navale while I was away.

There’s what seems to be an old small trawler that has been converted into living accommodation, and there’s also some kind of pleasure boat or passenger tender in there undergoing repair. There must be plenty of work here for the company there.

trawlers baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy franceThe fishing industry is keeping on going too.

There were a couple of trawlers out there tonight and the one on the left looks as if it is doing a circuit with its net out taking a catch.

But now it’s after midnight, and I don’t feel at all tired, which is a surprise. I can see me heading for a little crisis tomorrow when the lack of sleep catches up with me.

Sunday 14th April – LUCKY ME!

I’ve had a free upgrade at the place where I stay when I’m in Leuven. Usually I’m in a small single room (with kitchenette and all facilities of course) but for some reason that I don’t understand, I’ve been given a comfortable duplex apartment and it’s very nice.

I shall have to come here more often.

Last night was a pretty bad night for some reason. I was very late going to bed and once more, I spent most of my night tossing and turning. This isn’t a very good sign for my day tomorrow.

Nevertheless I was out of bed very smartly and attacked the tasks necessary for my trip today to Leuven. Making sandwiches, packing, all these kinds of things. Even a little cleaning. There was still 20 minutes to go before I needed to leave to I took my shower – the one that I missed yesterday.

08:10, I left the apartment and a brisk stroll saw me at the station by 08:35. And I do have to say that “brisk” was the word. Despite having had a really short, bad night, I was feeling quite sprightly for a change.

repairing medieval city wall Boulevard des 2eme et 202eme de Ligne granville manche normandy franceAnd even in sprightly mode I made several stops along the way.

The first stop was in the Boulevard des 2ème et 202ème de Ligne to see how the repairs to the old medieval walls are getting on.

And they seem to be making really good progress and the new stone blocks that they are blending into the existing walls really look quite the part.

They have several sections to go at and it will all be looking quite good when it’s done.

street sweeper rue couraye granville manche normandy franceAnd despite it being early, I wasn’t alone in the street either.

I was being stalked all the way up the rue Couraye by the Sunday morning street cleaner. He was heading on quite nicely, making U-turns and going the wrong way down the one-way street to brush the other side, whether there was another car coming or not.

At least he was useful as some kind of pacemaker to help me on my way.

My cleaner was there at the station so I said “hello”, and then purchased a coffee from the machine. And then waited for the train because it wasn’t in the platform.

gec alsthom regiolis gare de granville manche normandy franceAnd fortune smiled on me too on the train. I had a very charming young companion next to me and although she didn’t have too much to say for herself, it’s the kind of thing that does my ego a great deal of good.

Surprisingly, I stayed awake for most of the trip. I ate my breakfast (crackers and mandarins) and settled down to read Carl Rafn’s Antiquities Americanae.

Written in 1837, its claim to fame is that Rafn was the very first person to take seriously the prospect that the Norse Sagas about the voyages to “Vinland” were actually based on fact and not mere fireside fiction, and he actually set in motion some kind of technical research and calculations to back up his theories.

His theories and calculations were dismissed by later hisotians, most notably by Arthur Reeves who wrote in 1914 “… If less effort had been applied to the dissemination and defence of fantastic speculations, and more to the determination of the exact nature of the facts …” and then proceeded on after 200 or so pages in his book “The Finding of Wineland the Good” to reach almost the same conclusions as those of Rafn.

But today, as we all know because we’ve been there and seen it, tangible evidence of Norse occupation has been discovered in the New World and although it’s not where Rafn expected it to be, my opinion is that the site at L’Anse aux Meadows isn’t Vinland at all but another unrecorded Norse settlement, and Vinland remains to be discovered.

We pulled into Paris Montparnasse-Vaugirard more-or-less bang on time and I strode off through the massed ranks of travellers down to the heaving metro station. There’s a change on the metro there too, because they have now put up crowd control gates on the platform.

The train was crammed to capacity and I had to wait a while before I could find a seat. I sat next to an African woman and her little daughter Adela who proudly told me that she was two years and three months old.

The two of them sang all the way to where I alighted, and I had the pleasure of telling mummy that it made my day to see a little kid so happy.

gare du nord paris franceAlthough it was cold and windy, it was so nice outside that I went for a good walk around outside for a look at what goes on in the vicinity of the station.

And now I know that if ever I forget my butties I won’t be short of something to eat because there were plenty of fast-food shops right in the immediate vicinity.

But seeing as I hadn’t forgotten them, I sat on a bench in the station, surrounded by a group of schoolkids and ate them (the butties, not the kids) and then went for my train.

thalys tgv PBKA series 4300 4322 gare du nord paris franceMy train was another one of the Paris-Brussels-Koln-Amsterdam “PBKA” trainsets.

And as I boarded it, fatigue caught up with me and I travelled all the way to Brussels in a state of blissful subconsciousness, to the strains of Traffic’s On The Road” – one of the top-ten best live albums ever.

My neighbour had boarded the train carrying, of all things a rolled-up carpet. I asked him whether it had run out of fuel, or else why he didn’t just unroll it and travel to Brussels on that.

However, as Kenneth Williams and Alfred Hitchcock once famously remarked, “it’s a waste of time trying to tell jokes to foreigners”.

sncb class 18 electric locomotive gare de leuven belgiumAt Brussels my train to Leuven was already in the station so I was able to reap the benefits of having pre-purchased my ticket on the internet. No waiting in a queue for a ticket or finding that the machines are out of order. I just leapt on board.

It was our old friend 1861, and that was crowded too for some reason. There seems to be an awful lot of people travelling today.

I suppose it’s with it being Easter weekend next weekend and everyone is off for their holidays.

I’ve already explained about my change of room, and once I was settled in I had a lengthy talk with Rosemary on the telephone.

toren oude stadsomwalling sint donatuspark leuven belgiumThat took me up to the time to go out and meet Alison. We went off for a vegan burger at the Greenway

Our route there took us through the St Donatus Park where we could admire the Toren Oude Stadsomwalling – the Tower of the Old City Wall.

This wall was started to be built in 1160. It had 31 towers, 11 street gates and 3 water gates. 2740 metres long, it enclosed 40 hectares.

It was superseded in 1360 by another wall roughly where the ring-road is now, and demolition began towards the end of the 18th Century.

There’s still a fair bit remaining, and on our travels we’ve seen quite a bit of it.

mural Jozef Vounckplein leuven belgiumAfter our burger we went for our usual coffee at Kloosters Hotel.

And on our way back to the car, weaving our weary way through the side streets, we came across this really beautiful mural in what I think is the Jozef Vounckplein.

I don’t recall having seen this before.

And good old Alison. While she was at the English Shop yesterday she found some vegan hot cross buns. So now I’m properly prepared for my Good Friday anyway.

On that note, I’ll go upstairs and try out my new bed. I hope that it’s as comfortable as it looks.

gare du nord paris france
gare du nord paris france

gare du nord paris france
gare du nord paris france

Wednesday 3rd October 2018 – AFTER MY EXCITING …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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