Tag Archives: clermont ferrand

Monday 27th July 2020 – THAT WAS ANOTHER …

river allier vichy 03200 france eric hall… horrible day today. At one point during mid-afternoon the temperature inside the cab of Caliburn was 42°C and I had to stop and get out of the cab.

Luckily I was able to find a nice place to do so. To my surprise I found a parking place in the street in the centre of Vichy down by the River Allier so I could park up and go for a walk to cool off a little.

But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

This morning I was awake and about of bed before the first alarm, something that is always a healthy ambition as far as I am concerned. Plenty of time to attack the notes on the dictaphone because by the sound of things I’d trvalled for miles during the night.

I’d been with Ingrid on board a ship obviously going somewhere and it’s quite clear that we are a couple. We were watching a few other things happening. A notice that we saw said something like “COVID 19 flights to Egyot suspended at the end of April”. As we were roaming about at the end of the stairwell which was cut into the rock evidently we came across another couple and we chatted to them. We ended up down in the basement of the ship trying to find out which were the doors to our particular deck but we were fooling around and quite clearly a couple, the two of us.

Later on we ended up back at my house but my house had been sold, although my possessions were still there. As we walked in through the door there were all these cats there. 3 small cats in waste paper bins and so on. I said “this is typical. Look at these cats. My cats are still in possession and they have sorted the other ones out”. We walked around the kitchen but heard a noise from the living room. I said “hello, anyone there?”. Eventually a Dutch guy came out, youngish, very tall. he came round and shook my hand, said “welcome back from your holidays” and had a really good chat to me, most of which wa in Dutch which I didn’t quite understand. I was with Rosemary and Lieneke. Of course Lieneke was very much in demand for this conversation too.

By now we were all on board THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR but it was a coach. it was time for us to get off so I walked down to the front of the coach saying goodbye to everyone. Castor and Pollux were there so I said goodbye to Pollux but Castor, I smiled at her, put my head very close to her and said “thanks for everything”. She looked extremely uncomfortable when I said that. That was when I walked down the coach and got off. This was somewhere about Scholar Green and we were looking at a map to work out our way across to Alsager, that way. It was a bit difficult to work out exactly where we were because there were two roads, both of which went across and we could have been stuck by either of them. We were certainly out beyond the confines of Stoke on Trent in that particular area. But it was the look on Castor’s face that got me – a look of real fear. That was what awoke me.

Rosemary had brought me a cup of tea at about 07:30 and by 08:30 we were having breakfast. Afterwards, I packed and loaded up Caliburn, even rescuing my pushbike from Rosemary’s barn where it had been hiding for the last 6 or 7 years or so.

Before I left I fixed Rosemary’s settee and also finished off connecting up her television to her livebox – a task that involved telephoning the helpline.

Off on the road I went, as far as Clermont Ferrand. First stop was the Auchan where I encountered a most unhelpful Secury Guard, bought some more supplies and then I fuelled up Caliburn ready for the long haul east.

Second stop was at IKEA where I bought the rest of the storage jars that I needed, as well as a few other bits and pieces. But I didn’t buy a temporary mattress for Caliburn due to the absurd price that they wanted for one – €79:00 for a folding foam-rubber chair that opens out.

Ad as for the food, that was a major disappointment. I ended up with just a plate of chips and a lump of bread. No salad or anything.

The heat was stifiling when I went outside and it was really uncomfortable and the drive wasn’t very comfortable. Leaving Clermont Ferrand, I went north-east through the countryside and arrived at Vichy

home made raft river allier vichy 03200 france eric hallBut here I had to stop. It was impossible to go any further in this weather. I was melting.

There was a parking place at the side of the road near Parc Kennedy so this was where I stopped. It was a pleasant if not sweltering walk down to the banks of the river but once I was in the shade it was very nice indeed. I was quite envious of the people who were out there on their little home-made rafts going up and down the river.

Being a Pisces I would quite happily have been out there with them.

plage des celestins parc kennedy river allier vichy 03200 france eric hallThere’s a beach there too, the Plage des Celestins, and that was quite a popular place, as you can see in the photograph here.

There’s an ice cream stall, a place to hire deckchairs and also a place where you can hire little boats and so on. And then the row of yellow buoys out there mark the limits to which people can swim in the river. You can see that the boats going out into the river from the slipway at the far end of the swimming area.

A really nice walk along the river in the shade for half an hour cooled me down and I resisted the temptation to see if they had any vegan ice cream on sale. I didn’t fancy standing in the queue.

parc kennedy pont aristide briand pont bellerive river allier vichy 03200 france eric hallAt the end of the Parc Kennedy there’s a bridge across the River Allier.

It’s know, locally as the Pont de Bellerive because it connects Vichy to the town of Bellerive sur Allier on the other side of the river, but as the legendary French politician Aristide Briand had died just a couple of months before its official opening, it was named the Pont Aristide Briand in his honour.

Until the eary 1960s it was the only bridge across the Allier at Vichy but it’s by no means the first bridge. There was even a bridge across the river here recorded by Julius Caesar in 54BC although it might have been built by his soldiers on their way to the Battle of Gergovie.

There have been several subsequent bridges here and this one dates from 1932.

having cooled down a little I headed off eastwards through the mountains towards the Rhone valley, but I didn’t get very far. Tonight I’m in a modern unit hotel in Paray-le-Monial. Because of the heat I had the air conditioning on full blast for an hour and then a shower and a clothes wash.

Tomorrow I’m not going far but I’m still having an early night. I’ve already crashed out once this evening and I’ll be gone again if I don’t get a move on.

Monday 28th October 2019 – FOR PUDDING TONIGHT …

… I had some tinned fruit salad with some of that coconut cream stuff that I like.

And that can only mean one thing – and that is that today I went to the LeClerc supermarket.

And how did I do that seeing as Caliburn isn’t as yet mobile? The answer is rather simple. I walked.

But let’s not go getting ahead of ourselves here. Let’s put things in their correct order.

We started off with the three alarms as usual and I fell out of bed about 20 minutes after the final call. That’s not bad going these days, although I really would like to be out of bed maybe 20 minutes before the last call rather than 20 minutes after.

Even though the night hadn’t been as early as I would have liked, there was still plenty of time to go on a little ramble or two during the night.

I can’t remember now exactly where I was when I started off but it certainly was somewhere, and I needed to get home. I had to buy a lot of things and I was wondering how I was going to spread my money out to do this sort of thing. One of the things that I could do would be to leave my monthly ticket on the tram until the very last thing. So I was walking over to somewhere to do something or other and I saw a tram that went halfway around the ring road. I thought “God I need to get on that”. But then I thought “never mind. I can always get on the next one”. I ended up back in the office again and went down into the administration area to check on something, and noticed that the map on the wall was no longer there. Where has the map of the city gone? How am I supposed to know my way around without any reference to the map of the city? Someone else came in so I asked them “where has the map of the city gone?”. This person replied that it hadn’t been there for a while. I said that it was here earlier this morning. They replied that it wasn’t, so we had a “yes – no interlude” until I awoke.
Back asleep two minutes later I was getting ready to go on holiday and I got one of my cars ready. First of all I had to go and pick up Alison from her market stall. So off I went. She was selling cloth and was ready to pack up so I started to pack up for her, got everything ready and drover her back home. I went home again and started to get all my stuff ready and had to pick her up at about 22:00 when she finished her next market stall that night. So round about 21:45 although hadn’t finished packing, but it was only a 5 or 10 minute job that needed doing. So I said to the person with me that I’d go and pick up Alison and then come back and have 5 hours sleep, then I can get up and arrange everything and we can get off. This girl was astonished that I had got ready so quickly and I was quite pleased as well. She asked if five hours sleep would be enough, and what about the heavy stuff? I replied that I could get that into the car myself. She asked if anything needed working, to which I replied that I could do that when we are on the road – it’s no big deal. She was pleased and would tell Hans that we were ready. From there I went to work and parked my car somewhere and what I had to do – I went in a different car to pick up Alison as I probably needed the space and I could come back to the office afterwards, park this car and take mine home, and take the third car away in the morning. But when I got to the market stall Alison wasn’t there, and there were four women in her place selling tea and biscuits. Without thinking, I went to clamber over the stall, but it suddenly occurred to me, by the way that they were shouting and waving, that it wasn’t very strong and I might break it. So I had to climb back again. But they asked this boy a really weird question, and he actually got it right. That made me think about Champollion (…I’d been reading about him during the day as it happens …) the 11 year old genius. Everyone was pleased that this boy had got it right and he was beaming. Suddenly Alsion appeared again, so I told her that I was nearly ready but she said that she had a lot to do so we started to pack up her stall and that was when the alarms dragged me into the daylight.

First port of call was the medication of course and then it was breakfast time. And once I’d dealt with that and doe a few things that needed doing, I went off for a shower, a change of clothes and a clean-up.

At 09:00 I hit the streets in the rainstorm (and luckily I haven’t managed to lose my yellow rainjacket quite yet) and headed off all the way across town to the Centre Agora in the Quartier St Nicolas. That’s the building where people go when they don’t have access to the internet, so they can use the computers and internet there, and it’s a kind of social centre and advice bureau.

Quite a few years ago now, I was involved in a project in the Auvergne and it was one of the things that was abandoned when I became ill. But the world is far too small for my liking, as I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … and when someone formerly from Clermont-Ferrand and now living in Granville came across my name and the fact that I too am now living in Granville and may be able to help him out, a meeting was inevitable, I suppose.

But as for what it might be, one must jamais vendre le peau d’ours avant de l’avoir tué as they say around here, and there will be more of this subject anon.

Seeing as I was about halfway there, I decided to trudge on in the rainstorm and make my way to LeClerc. I had a good lap around the supermarket and bought some stuff to make more meals. They had the burgers that I like and also some of that thin brick pastry. I’d seen Rachel using that to make some vegetable samosas which were pretty good, so no reason why I can’t have a go.

Back in the rain all the way home where I made myself a coffee and my and sat down to relax for a good while.

This afternoon I made more inroads into the dictaphone notes and that’s another 7 transcribed, including the two during the dictation of which I went back to sleep – in mid-dictate.

Tea tonight was a stuffed pepper with spicy rice and I do have to say that it was the best stuffed pepper that I have ever made. And I’m not sure why it’s different from any other stuffed pepper that I have made because it was made in exactly the same way.

And then the walk around the headland in the cold and wind. And another run too, although I didn’t manage as far as last night but that was because I was running up hill, I reckon. I need to learn to walk before I run, don’t I?

But the fitbit tells an interesting story (it’s still working despite the strap, lodged firmly in my trouser pocket). I’ve done … errr … 194% of my daily activity today and walked a total of 16.4 kilometres. That’s not bad for someone who is at death’s door with but a short time to live, is it?

What shall I do to follow that, I wonder.

Thursday 9th May 2019 – BANE OF BRITAIN …

… strikes yet again.

All the way to LIDL and all the way back this morning, and I forgot my fitbit, didn’t I?

And I can’t blame being tired either, because I’d been to bed early and had a reasonably decent sleep.

Off on my travels too. I’d been staying in a hotel somewhere in a small town near Commentry with a couple of people and we’d been out looking for food. Eventually we came across a place that did couscous take-aways so we went and bought something from there. A while later I was back living in Les Guis so I had the idea of going back there to ask if they ever might need a delivery driver on occasions. I had to go home and print off a CV and I thought that while I was at it I’d print off a few extra copies and hand them out at similar places on the way. But the area was nothing like where I lived. It reminded me of the downhill slope of the road out of Clermont Ferrand past Vulcania and out to St Ours.

Unfortunately, I didn’t quite beat the final alarm, but it wasn’t far away. And after breakfast and a shower and general clean-up I headed for the shops.

council erecting election notice boards rue st jean granville manche normandy franceYou can tell that it’s election time very shortly.

The council has special poster boards that it erects at strategic places just before any election, and competing parties can paste their posters up on there instead of defacing the walls and doors of buildings.

It seems to work quite well, and helps to keep the place tidy.

LIDL didn’t come up with anything special at all, but at least the walk did me good and that’s the whole point of doing it.

conference of driving schools foyer des jeunes travailleurs granville manche normandy franceBack here, I started to put everything away but my attention was distracted by some goings-on on the car park at the back.

It looks as if there’s some kind of meeting of driving schools going on in the public rooms. There are about a dozen driving school cars parked out there.

No idea what is going on though.

Back at work, I had a busy morning. Back in December 2013 I’d been to Clermont-Ferrand and ended up in the war cemetery there where I’d seen a few war graves.

Something about it had piqued my interest today so I spent a couple of hours doing some research into the incidents that led to the deaths;

Surprisingly there’s a lot of information available on the internet, including contemporary press cuttings and photos, and so I was able to edit the page to include an enormous amount of factual information.

We were interrupted by lunch, of course, taken indoors yet again due to the high winds. I’ve spoken to a couple of neighbours today and we’ve all been saying that the Spring this year is much colder than usual.

Having updated the page from Clermont-Ferrand, I attacked the photos from my 2015 trip to Canada. All of October 2015, all of September 2015 and half of August 2015 are now collated to the dictaphone notes by the time I stopped for tea. It’ll probably be finished tomorrow with a bit of luck.

whitecaps waves granville manche normandy franceThere was the usual interruption for the afternoon walk in the wind.

And you can see just how windy it was by looking at the whitecaps on the waves down there

There was even someone out here wrestling with a kite, trying to make it stay aloft in the gale. He was having endless fun but I can’t say that he was particularly successful.

helicopter pointe du roc granville manche normandy franceAnd I was shaken out of my complacent reverie by a rattle from overhead.

Someone in the area has had his chopper out this afternoon, because the helicopter went flying by overhead. It’s painted yellow with a red stripe and that makes me think that it’s the air-sea rescue helicopter.

It’s impossible to say whether or not it’s been out on a mission, or whether it was just a training flight.

workmen shuttering monument resistance pointe du roc granville manche normandy franceHaving had a day off yesterday for the Bank Holiday, the workmen were back today at the site of the new war memorial to the Heroes of the Resistance.

By the looks of things, they were installing shuttering along the edges of where that had dug out and laid gravels.

I hope that this doesn’t mean that they are going to concrete it over. I’ll use concrete because I’m no good at paving, but I’m sure the Council can do better than that. The paved path that they just dug up was quite well-done.

coastguard post pointe du roc granville manche normandy franceSo I continued on my walk around the headland at the Pointe du Roc and had a quick glance at the Coastguard station to see if there was anything exciting going on.

There was someone out there on a ladder cleaning a piece of equipment. I’m not sure what it was though, whether it’s a CCTV camera or a siren or something.

But the concrete bunker underneath, that is roughly in the position which would correspond to where a mast anchored by that concrete cable-stay would be positioned.

pontoon grand beau temps port de granville harbour manche normandy franceRound now at the chantier navale to see what’s going on.

We seem to have acquired a different yacht today, the little one with the pale blue superstructure to the right of Grand Beau Temps.

The big pontoon dredger from the Vendee, St Gilles Croix de Vie is still down there and there seems to be someone working on her right now.

thora port de granville harbour manche normandy franceFurther on around the footpath we can see down over into the harbour, and tied up to its quayside is our old friend Thora

She wasn’t down there in the harbour this morning when I went past on my way to LIDL, so she must have come in on the lunch-time tide.

And given the rather sharp turn-rounds these days, I wonder how long she’ll be staying

I came back here for my mug of hot chocolate and my brazil nuts and then continued on attacking the photos, with an interruption to wish Rosemary a “happy birthday”.

Tea was steamed veg and falafel with vegan cheese sauce. And I do have to say that it was the most delicious that I have ever made. I could eat that again – probably next week too for the second helping of falafel.

The apple pie and coconut sorbet that washed it down was delicious too.

donville les bains beach plat gousset granville manche normandy franceBack outside for my evening walk again, and despite the wind it was another pleasant evening.

And another evening where the colours were totally beautiful too and they have come out really well in this photo of the beach at Plat Gousset at Donville-les-Bains.

You can see how strong the wind is by looking at the waves. Tons of white caps and the waves are quite strong. Just imagine the power in those waves there, waiting to be harvested.

people on beach party plat gouset granville manche normandy franceAnd I wasn’t the only one out there enjoying the weather either.

There was a group of young people down there having a beach party and watching the sun slowly sink down to the horizon. It’s the kind of thing that takes me back 50 years.

As long as they were out of the wind they would be fine down there. It wasn’t quite so pleasant up here though on the walls.

seagull in nest granville manche normandy franceA few days ago, I noticed a pair of seagulls up to no good in broad daylight on the roof of a house across the road.

And even more recently the gulls have been diving down to pick up the grass offcuts that the council had been cutting.

And now we know what is going on, don’t we? It’s nesting time and it won’t be long before we start seeing the baby seagulls staggering around on the roofs of the houses.

thora port de granville harbour manche normandy franceJust a final check in the harbour on the way home.

And Thora is still in the harbour, complete with her shipping container on board. Obviously the turn-round today isn’t that quick;

And round the corner I met the old lady who is Minette’s “mother”. We had quite a lengthy chat about cats, and even Minette came out to join in, although she remained rather aloof.

So back here and I don’t really feel like all that much. I’m going to have an early night and I’ll do the rest of this tomorrow morning.

helicopter pointe du roc granville manche normandy france
helicopter pointe du roc granville manche normandy france

Sunday 12th August 2018 – HAVING LAST NIGHT …

… been tucked up nicely in a spare bed at Liz and Terry’s, tonight I’m tucked up nicely in a spare bed at Ingrid’s in Biollet, just 15 miles away from my place at Virlet.

With it being Sunday there was no alarm but we had to rise early and organise ourselves. After breakfast we loaded up Terry’s van with some bits and pieces, including the plastic boxes that I had brought with me, and then hit the road.

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this, but when I was at my house a few weeks ago I noticed that my tractor had been moved. And subsequently I had a message from Desirée and Simon to say that it had been further moved.

It’s an expensive piece of kit, as regular readers of this rubbish might recall, so it needed to be rescued. There’s a little bit of room on Terry and Liz’s car park and so we had agreed that it should go there out of the way and Terry can use it if he needs to.

And with Terry suddenly having a very rare free day from work on Monday, we went off to fetch it.

terry messenger les guis virlet franceRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that when I was there just now, I couldn’t get to the house because of all of the weeds.

But Terry had brought his heavy-duty brushcutter and it made pretty short work of the undergrowth. It didn’t take him long to cut a path through to the house and the barn.

And then I could enter the house, rescue the keys and then load up the tractor into Terry’s van. Terry had worked out the dimensions and there was plenty of room in his van for it to fit.

I have new neighbours too, Lisette and Berry, as Lieneke and Guus have sold their house. I went round to introduce myself and have a chat, and then we went off.

Ingrid had been to Clermont-Ferrand and we had arranged to meet up at the campsite at Les Ancizes. That serves snacks and is guaranteed to be open on a Sunday evening in the summer, so we had a meal there. Much to my surprise, they had a vegan dish on offer, Thai rice with mixed vegetables.

Back at Ingrid’s, we all had a good chat and I had a shower, managing to walk on a thorn that was stuck to my trousers. And that didn’t half hurt.

So here I am now, tucked up in bed. I’m going to have a really emotional day tomorrow so I need to be on top form.

Monday 20th March 2017 – NOW I KNOW …

… why I spent all that money two years ago buying that new bed and expensive mattress and all of that nice bedding. For I was out like a light last night and had one of the most comfortable sleeps that I have had in years. So much so that in fact I was rather reluctant to leave it.

Even more so when I saw what the weather was doing outside. Cold wet and grey, just like I was feeling in fact, so no change there.

But anyway, I managed a decent breakfast – muesli with soya milk, an apple puree thing and grapefruit juice all washed down with coffee of course. And then gathering my wits as well as a few things here and there, Caliburn, Strawberry Moose and I hit the streets.

We ended up at Evaux-les-Bains where I took Caliburn to the menders. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that back in October in Brussels, Caliburn was the victim of a Belgian driver who didn’t know where the brakes were on his car. Anyway, today he goes to be mended.

And not only that, there’s some rust creeping through that’s making him look a little untidy, and so he’s having that attended to. He’ll be 10 in a couple of weeks time and, unfortunately, he’s starting to show his age. But then, aren’t we all?

They had a little Skoda Fabia for me to borrow while he’s being fixed (that’s why I’m having his body done right now – while I have free access to a hire car). It’s not a bad little car but it’s very plasticky and I can’t see anyone having 10 years out of one of these. But it’s free for five days so good luck to me.

Once I was properly organised I went round to Ingrid’s at Biollet. Ingrid was the only one of my Auvergnat friends who came to see me while I was really ill (of course, never forgetting Jean-Marc who drove all the way from Macon to see me, for which I will always be grateful) and it’s only right that I go to thank her. Generally-speaking, my Auvergnat friends turned out to be one big disappointment. When the going got tough, they certainly got going – but in the opposite direction.

And after all that I’ve done for them too.

Ingrid and I had coffee and a good chat which was very nice, and then I had to go to Montlucon to change my Livebox – that seems to be the reason why I’m not connecting to the internet. And Ingrid offered to come too for the ride and the company which was nice.

Changing the Livebox was a matter of minutes and then it was lunchtime. We repaired to a cafe across the street which fixed us a couple of salads and the dressing was superb.

By now, the sun was out and it was a glorious day – far too nice to go back home, and so I proposed a trip to Clermont Ferrand. Something that I needed to do there and now seemed like as good a time as any. We had an exciting time trying to find the Prefecture, and an even more exciting time trying to find the car afterwards. But it was only 5 minutes at the Prefecture and we spent the remainder of the two hours sitting in the sunshine at a cafe on the Place de Jaude. And very nice it was too.

I stopped for a coffee back at Ingrid’s and then headed for home. The Skoda is a nice little car but it’s not for me – I’ll tell you that for nothing. And back here I crashed out. It had been a long tiring day and I’m not as young as I was.

And the new Livebox?

That’s not perishing working either!

Tuesday 21st June 2016 – YOU WOULDN’T BELIEVE …

… that it’s the Summer Solstice today. It’s been a cold, miserable, grey wet day today from start to finish, just like a grim February day.

Well, that’s not quite true. The rain did ease off for an hour or so round about midday – just the right time for me to nip out and buy my baguette and a few other bits and pieces for lunch. I wasn’t back all that long before the heavens opened again and that’s how it stayed. Many people have asked why I don’t get out and about and go for much more of an exploration, but in this weather, who can blame me?

I had a bad night again. It was well after midnight before I managed to doze off, despite how tired I must have been after walking to and from the hospital. And I had the odd trip down the corridor too but I was wide-awake by 05:40. I did manage to stay in bed until about 07:00 before I made my start to the day, and I’ve had a little crash-out this afternoon.

So what have I been doing today then.

The short (and the long) answer to this is that I’ve spent most of the day working on my blog, doing a lot of the updating. I’m well into the month of May 2010 and I’m finding that the weather back then was just the same as it is right now – to wit cold and wet. We even had a snowstorm on 5th May 2010 when we were all on our way home from Clermont Ferrand.

For tea tonight I’ve been finishing off the mixture of stuff that I had left over from Friday night.It tasted just as peculiar tonight as it did then, but it wasn’t unpleasant.

The Vietnamese girl was in the kitchen too so I had a good chat to her. Unfortunately, she didn’t seem to be too interested in talking about life in Vietnam and that was what I really wanted to know. People of my generation were brought up with all kinds of tales about life there either in the Communist North or the corrupt American-backed South,and the unification of the country stopped our habitual flow of news. I was keen to have an up-to-date opinion, but it looks as if it won’t be any time soon.

And so tomorrow, I’m off gallivanting again. June and her husband are passing by on their way back to Germany and I’ve invited them to the fritkot for lunch. You can’t pass by Belgium and not visit a fritkot, can you?

Tuesday 22nd December 2015 – WELL, I HAD THE CALL!

Yes, at about 09:30.

“Mr Hall, we’ve had your blood test results. You need to come in this morning for a transfusion”
“I’m still waiting for the District Nurse to come, and it’s over an hour’s drive to Montlucon, you know.”
“Well you really need to be here before midday”.

And so that was that. With no District Nurse by 10:30, I was off and gone – on my way to Montlucon.

Mind you, I was off and gone long before that. Despite having once to leave my bed (for the usual reasons), I had a really good night to make up for the dreadful one that I had had the night before. And I was running the Formula One racing network too. My youngest sister was driving one of the cars and my niece in Canada was doing the voice-over television commentaries. However, we were under attack in our house (which bore a strange resemblance to Hankelow Hall, the abandoned stately home where we squatted back in the 1970s, except that there was a more modern extension built onto the back) by people who wanted to take over the running of the organisation. We were trying to defend it resolutely but looking out of the back, I noticed that a load of gear, including skis (for some reason), was being passed from the new extension into our house on the floor below through a window that should have been guarded by my elder sister. The door into our room was then battered down and into the room surged a crowd of people, TV cameras, everything, and my sister saying that we had all agreed to pass on our rights to this new company. I however made it quite clear that she was not speaking for me.
From there via several removes, I ended up back at my house in Gainsborough Road Crewe where I was living with a woman who was about 20 years older than me, and we had a daughter of about 11. The behaviour of this woman was extremely bizarre, which puzzled the girl and me a great deal.

strawberry moose violet sock sloth camping story time sauret besserve puy de dome franceSo after breakfast, we had to play Hunt The Moose again. Today, Strawberry Moose was in the sun-lounge camping. And also reading a story to his new best friend Violet the sock-sloth.

Robyn was keen to join in of course. She loves having stories read to her and no-one reads stories like Strawberry Moose. And in exchange, she drew a beautiful picture of him.

At the hospital car park, there was hardly anyone about so I had a good spec right by the entrance just 200 metres from the front door of the hospital. And they were waiting for me when I arrived, which made a nice change.

“Only one go” I said to the nurse trying to inject the drain into me. “They had four goes last time that I was here”
And so she did it in one, and a more painful injection I have never had. Total agony.

Lunch wasn’t up to much unfortunately, but you can’t expect much in the way of special diet when you turn up a l’improviste. However, I had foreseen this, having been caught out last time, and I had packed a packet of crisps, a handful of Liz’s home-made vegan biscuits and a banana. They didn’t ‘arf go down well. What was not so acceptable was the inexcusable, unpardonable sin of forgetting me when it came to bringing round the afternoon coffee. The fact that I MAY just have closed my eyelids to give my tired eyes a rest is neither here nor there. What you can be sure of is that harsh words were exchanged – and I did get my coffee.

I also got something else quite important too. The internet speed at the hospital is quite respectable for a public place, and so I profited by downloading a huge pile of radio programmes and a Mr Wong film from archive.org. That should boost up my supply of listening and watching matter if I’m going to be incarcerated elsewhere.

And talking of that, I was also speaking to my friend Alison, with whom I used to work at The Conference Board – that weird American company in Brussels. She had a very serious operation in Belgium and was full of praise over the treatment and care that she received. I’ve always said that Belgian health-care is the best in the world and that is where I would go if I were ever seriously ill, and so I asked her which hospital it was that she used.

It’s the one at Leuven, and having made enquiries, Alison told me that there is in fact a dedicated lymphoma department there. Furthermore, she rang them and it transpires that they would be glad to talk to me, and they passed their number onto her to give to me.

Why I’m doing this is that they have already told me that they don’t have the facilities to treat me in Montlucon. If I need treatment I have to go elsewhere. Clermont-Ferrand is, at the limit, acceptable because I’m still within some kind of travelling distance of possible visitors and facilities, but anywhere else is uncharted territory with no possibility of visits. Smuggling supplies into the hospital will therefore be extremely difficult and I’m not going to survive on what food a hospital can offer me.

Not only that, I’m dismayed at how much Flemish I have forgotten since I’ve left Brussels. I reckon therefore that a spell of immersion in a Flemish-speaking environment will do me the world of good.

An added advantage of Leuven is that there’s a Belgian 2nd-Division football club – OH Leuven, in the immediate vicinity and public transport in Belgium is very good. I’m sure that I can smuggle myself out of hospital occasionally on a Saturday night. If so, I can track down a fritkot too, and Alison has already promised to be my conduit for illicit food parcels.

I was thrown out of the hospital by 16:00 and I was wondering whether to go home for an hour or so but I wasn’t feeling up to much so I came back here. As a surprise, Liz and Kate have made me some vegan ice cream – strawberry and also choco-mint. It wasn’t ready for tea though but it will be fine for tomorrow. I hope that I’m still here to eat it, and not detained elsewhere.

I met up with the District Nurse too. He’s concerned about the continued use of this anti-coagulant and reckons that I ought to speak to the doctor about it tomorrow. he can understand why I needed it but it seems to him that the crisis has passed. He reckons that it’s now at the stage where it can be doing more harm than good, especially if I keep going for the total of three months for which it has been prescribed.

I’m all in favour of that. It’s costing me an arm and a leg for a start, and it will also mean that I can go back to having my Sunday morning lie-in. These continued 07:45 starts are killing me off.

Thursday 17th December 2015 – ANYONE WOULD THINK …

… that it was me doing the tiling today, not Terry. Half an hour after lunch I was well out of it – two trips to Terry’s van and back with some stuff for here had finished me off. And back here, I was crashed out on the sofa at 18:00 and in bed by 19:15.

I’ve clearly seen better days – that’s for sure.

But a lot of this could be put down to the efforts that I had made during my nocturnal ramblings. I’d started off with something like a huge contemporary discussion about the qualities of different Roman emperors – and I can’t remember now with whom I was having this discussion. But from there I drove back (it’s good, this time-travel lark) to Stoke on Trent. None of the usual Clayhead characters out in an appearance unfortunately, but I do remember at a roundabout (it might have been one of the newish ones at Longton) I was confused by the exits, took the wrong one, and ended up on the road to Tunstall (a fictitious road of course but one that has featured on my travels before). It then occurred to me that there was one of these old-time sweet shops (just like there is in Longton) somewhere on this road and so I kept my eyes open for it. I ended up walking through this decrepit shopping centre-type of place to try to find it, to the accompaniment of jeers from several people lounging around – and what was that all about?
But back home I ended up chaperoning a young Shirley Temple-type of girl (as if I’d ever be asked to chaperone anyone of the female sex?) who was taking part in a singing competition that was to last all of the weekend. I asked her what would happen if she had to wait right at the end of the competition before it was her turn to sing, to which she replied that there were tons of things that we could do while we were waiting – have a party, go to the zoo, read stories.

No wonder I was exhausted!

So after my blood sample and a painful breakfast, we went off to Pionsat and the bank. I need to build up the fighting fund with all of this going on. Shopping at Intermarche was next, and there we met Clare, Julie and Anne who were off to Clermont-Ferrand for a fun day out. I fuelled up Terry’s van, seeing as how I had some money for once, bought my stuff for lunch and then shot off to the house for the tiling

When we arrived, the batteries were fully-charged already and the water temperature in the home-made 12-volt immersion heater that I use as a dump load for the surplus charge was slowly rising. That tells you everything that you need to know about the weather that we have been having just recently.

We had a visitor too! In the jungle that is Lieneke’s field opposite my front door we had a sanglier – a wild boar. We couldn’t actually see it but we could hear it grunting away and see all of the shrubs and bushes moving around as it prowled its way around. Magnificent beasts, these sangliers – I remember being up on my scaffolding when I was pointing the eastern wall and watching those two herds approaching each other and the eventual confrontation.

And while Terry carried on with the tiling, I did some desultory tidying-up. But my heart wasn’t in it and I couldn’t even cut straight today. In some respects I was glad when Terry decided to call it a day.

We’re a long way from finishing (I like the “we” bit, don’t you?) but the most difficult bits have been done. And I know that I promised you all a photo but Terry closed up the house while I was outside washing off the tools, so you’ll have to wait until next time.

And now back here, I’m in bed having an early night but I dozed off for an hour, woke up, and now I can’t go back to sleep again.

This looks as if it’s going to become a regular feature. I wish it didn’t, though, and I could have a decent 8-hours sleep.

Monday 3rd August 2015 – I HATE PEOPLE …

… who post on the internet photos of what they have been eating.

vegan meal clermont ferrand puy de dome franceHowever, just very occasionally, there are rare occasions where a meal merits being photographed, and this is one of them.

Right in the centre of Clermont-Ferrand this lunchtime, not one of the restaurants had a vegan meal on offer, but there was one where the chef was busy plying his art (and art it was) in the corner of the dining area and so I went over for a chat.

And this is the result. And no complaints whatever from me. I had a struggle to finish it.

So after a telephone call at a time where quite often I hadn’t even been to bed, I was down at Sauret Besserve and picked up Liz, and off we went to Riom for Liz’s hospital appointment.

I had a wait of about 50 minutes for a groggy-looking Liz to emerge, and then we went off for a coffee so that she could recover.

Next stop was the Auchan but there weren’t any of the Nikon D7000 cameras there – it’s an end-of-range deal and the prices had been slashed so I wasn’t expecting much, but nevertheless, we were nearby so it was worth a try.

tram clermont ferrand puy de dome franceAnd then a first for Liz.

We decided to go into the centre of Clermont Ferrand and the tram lines pass at the rear of the Auchan so, leaving Caliburn on the car park, we hopped on a tram that whisked us silently and effortlessly into the city.

€1:50 a ticket and there can’t be much better value than that. Anyone who has driven into the centre of Clermont Ferrand and tried to find a parking place will tell you all about that.

We went for a walk, went to the Tourist Information office and down to the Conseil-General – and I had a brainwave. I need to insure Strider, the Ranger, in Canada and I wondered if I could obtain a printout of my licence showing my motoring history.

We queued for a good while and, at the counter, “yes, we can do that. Do you have your driving licence?”
So I duly produced it
“And do you have your identoty papers?”
“Ohh blast! I’ve left them in Caliburn, haven’t I?”
“We are really supposed to see some identity papers in order to do this over the counter, but I’ll tell you what – let’s do it anyway”

So there we were!

pope urban II crusade cathedral clermont ferrand puy de dome franceBack to the city square and in the shadow of Pope Urban II preaching the First Crusade to the pigeons fluttering around the Cathedral, we had our lunch.

Back on the tram and off to Gerzat to record the Radio Anglais programmes for the next few weeks, giving Samantha Fish her first run-out, and then back home.

All in all a quite profitable day.

And hats off to the reception staff at the hospital at Riom, hats off to the chef in Clermont Ferrand and hats off also to the lady at the driving licence desk at the Prefecture in Clermont Ferrand. Things are definitely looking up!

Thursday 13th November 2014 – I HAD A DAY OFF TODAY

Rosemary had been talking about going to the new IKEA down at Clermont Ferrand and so we had decided to go there together. Today was the day, so I was up and about quite early and went to pick her up.

We arrived there at about 10:20 and while IKEA is easy to see, it’s nothing like as easy to find the entrance to the car park. Nevertheless, after a mystery tour around the Michelin factory there we managed it.

I was hoping to be there much earlier but it would have been a waste of effort as the place doesn’t open until 10:00. I’ll have to bear that in mind. And who should we bump into there but another Eric whom we know. He’s the presenter of the chanson francaise programmes on Radio Arverne and they are recorded after our sessions there. Radio work doesn’t pay, of course, and so he’s working there at IKEA to pay the bills.

Rosemary vowed before we went in that she wasn’t going to buy anything. Of course I have heard this a thousand times before and this time was no different that any other. I spent about €40,about half of which went on a new dinner service. It was part of the reduced goods on offer and it certainly looks the business. I’m quite impressed with it as it is exactly what I was seeking.

We had lunch and then went to the Auchan to swap a defective temperature gauge and to do a pile of shopping, as well as buying some diesel as it was only €1:21 per litre. The Auchan doesn’t sell the light green bottles of gas so we had to go to the Carrefour at Menetrol. I think I mentioned that the gas that powers the cooker in the verandah is getting low and with the temperature still quite reasonable and with no fire up here yet, I’m still cooking down there.

I rescued my roofing ladder from Rosemary and we had a coffee and spent a good couple of hours putting the world to rights.

There won’t be much done tomorrow either as I have several errands to run and a new toy to pick up. I wish I could have a good few weeks non-stop on this perishing house.

Monday 27th October 2014 – RED SKY AT NIGHT …

sunset auzances creuse birdwatching ornithological centre st gervais d'auvergne puy de dome france… means that Auzances is on fire.

Yes, on the way back home this evening as the sun was setting, I stopped off at my favourite haunt, the St Gervais Ornithological Centre to take one or two photos. The sun setting below the horizon in the clouds in the general direction of Auzances was particularly impressive.

birdwatching ornithological centre st gervais d'auvergne puy de dome franceThe view in the opposite direction, while not being quite as spectacular, was nevertheless quite impressive in its own right.

Here, with the evening drawing on and the damp mist slowly rising out of the fields, the Puy de Dome looks as if it is slowly disappearing from view behind a kind of diaphanous veil. It gives a completely different aspect to this view, of which you have seen dozens of examples over the years.

This morning we went to record the Radio Anglais programmes at Marcillat-en-Cembraille for Radio Tartasse. We had a few technical issues but they were resolved by simply returning to the very first version of the studio’s computer program. This new upgrade has caused nothing but problems.

We went from there to Clermont-Ferrand and the Auchan where I did a big pile of shopping. I’d run out of oats for my muesli and lentils for my curries, and so I needed to stock up. I also took advantage of the proximity of the Auchan to the recording studios at Gerzat to do a mega-shop.

The radio session at Gerzat went surprisigly well – in fact four programmes of 15 minutes each took just 1 hour and 5 minutes to record in total. It’s never happened like this before and I wish that it had happened like this that time just before I went to Canada.

Afterwards, we celebrated by going for coffee at Menetrol and doing a lap around the Carrefour there to buy the things that I had forgotten.

And after dropping Liz off, I came home via the birdwatching site at St Gervais d’Auvergne.

Tonihgt, I’ve enrolled in another Higher Education course. The University of Birmingham, in its Future Learn Programme is offering a course in the Development of Aviation in World War I and there was a free place even though the course started a week ago. This kind of thing is right up my Alley as you know and I couldn’t resist the opportunity.

Friday 28th March 2014 – WHAT A BEAUTIFUL DAY!

Yes, and I missed it. Liz was having Battle part 39 with the French Social Security agencies and needed a minder. And as I was in need of a rest after my marathon sessions this week in the gaeden, I volunteered.

The drive down to Clermont and the URSSAF offices was really nice and while the lady whom we spoke to wasn’t all that helpful, we did find out some useful information that, later that afternoon, helped me write a very long letter on Liz’s behalf which might resolve the problem. Failing that, a trip to Paris for a day might be in the offing.

From there, next stop was the Auchan at the north end of the city, but that was an adventure in itself. A moment of inattention and I missed my turning and we ended up having quite a sightseeing trip around the city. It took me a good few minutes to pick up a reference point and then straight away I took the wrong turning again. I was definitely having a bad day.

We each did our shopping in the Auchan – and I bought one of those small three-tier greenhouses. Just the job for my seeds, I reckon, and only €15 too. Cheap at half the price.

Lunch was taken at the KFC across the road, and then we returned to Liz’s to write this letter. I then returned home, where I found inter alia tht I had had 195 amps of surplus solar power in the house (so the water in the home-made 12-volt immersion heater that I use as a dump load was off the scale) and in the barn each of the two banks of 260 watts of solar power had given me 63 amps. This has got me thinking about fridges again.

But it was a day of accidents too. Coming over the Font Nanaud near La Batisse this morning, a car had come out of a side road and hit a luton-bodied van on the main road- and hit it with such force that the body had been torn off.

And on the way back in Loubeyrat, a lorry had somehow managed to smash into a car – right by the cemetery too.

Friday 31st January 2014 – I DIDN’T GET …

… what I wanted to buy today. But there was a reason for that.

We had the coldest night of the winter so far so this morning and with Caliburn under about a foot of frost, the battery finally gave out and he wouldn’t start. Regular readers of this rubbish will remember that the battery has been a little flaky for a while and I’ve been meaning to replace it but of course it’s one of those things that I’ve always been putting off and putting off.

Liz came round to rescue me but there wasn’t even enough in the battery to jump-start the van so we ended up going in Liz’s car and, of course, that’s not adapted to carry rolls of insulation and packs of tongue-and-grooving.

We had an exciting day out anyway and while Liz did not manage to resolve her problems, at least we now know why she has been having them and the people concerned have given her an undertaking that things will be put in motion to deal satisfactorily with the issues.

We shall see.

And even though Caliburn’s battery type is not listed in the catalogue of any of the chains of car accessory dealers, as I found out today, one of the employees at the Norauto near to the Auchan at Clermont Ferrand did take it upon himself to make detailed enquiries and as a result, supplied a battery that he promised would fit. I had the choice of an unnamed make, a Norauto make or a high-quality Varta battery and as you know with Caliburn he only ever receives the best, so much do I depend on him.

And so I daren’t tell you how much I paid for it because I’ve only just now recovered from the shock, but as I said, 100% reliavbility is the key to all of this, even if it does come at a hell of a price.

And much to my surprise (and probably yours too) it was actually the correct one. Fitting it was a nightmare though – trying to access the nuts to the battery retaining bar took me about half an hour, but anyway now it’s fitted and Caliburn is mobile once more.

I suppose that I’ll have to nip into Montlucon fora couple of hours tomorrow morning now. After all, I don’t want to be without anything the absence of which will hold up my work. It doen’t normally tale much to stop me.

Friday 20th December 2013 – DIDN’T WE HAVE A LUVVERLY TIME …

day out coach trip bus ride pionsat clermont ferrand puy de dome france… the day we went to Clermont?

Thanks, Marianne, for ringing me at 06:30 otherwise I would still be in bed now, but anyway off to a garage along the road between Pionsat and St Eloy where Marianne was to leave her car for a service, and then we headed into Pionsat to catch the bus.

33 of us, there were, on board heading for Pionsat’s annual shopping trip to Clermont. Many towns and villages in the rural Puy-de-Dome go there on the same day and the Conseil-General have a little welcoming celebration with coffee, orange juice and croissants – just as well seeing as how I didn’t have any breakfast. And we received a free tram ticket, shopping bag and little Christmas present too.

The queue for the tram was enormous and so we walked to the centre, which was quite nice seeing as we passed by the city’s cemetery. One thing about Marianne is that she’s just as interested in things like this as I am and an invitation for a stroll around the dead centre of any kind of urban settlement will not be sneezed at.

cemetery clermont ferrand monks puy de dome franceThere were formerly many religious establishments in Clermont Ferrand and we stumbled across many communal graves in which various groups of nuns had interred their departed members.

The communal graves of the monks were however much more interesting. Tucked away in a quiet little corner of the cemetery behind a few enormous tombs is their last resting place – one headstone for each establishment and a little plaque for each brother who is interred here. Things like that are quite poignant really.

And I wonder who is involved in the upkeep of this little plot because some of the communal graves of the nuns are, well, very sorry spectacles indeed.

commonwealth war graves cemetery des charmes dechaux clermont ferrand puy de dome franceThere’s also a Commonwealth War Grave here in the cemetery at Clermont Ferrand. 22 British, Canadians and New Zealanders are buried here. 21 are Air Force men and quite clearly three groups of 7. Pilot, Flight Engineer, Navigator, Wireless Operator, Bomb-Aimer and a couple of gunners.

One group died on 5th March 1944, another group on 10th March 1944 and the third group on 27th July 1944. Clearly three Lancasters shot down in the vicinity and with the proximity of the huge Michelin tyre factory – just a couple of hundred yards away from where I was standing taking this photograph, then no prizes for guessing what they were doing – or trying to do.

Or so I wrote at the time. Subsequent research revealed something rather different.

Only one of the aircraft was a Lancaster engaged in bombing the Michelin factory (with an alternative target of the marshalling yards at Aulnat).

These were the crew of Lancaster B III serial ND513 of Squadron 207 RAF, carrying identity EM-R. The crew led by Squadron Leader Dudley Pike had set off from Spilsby in Lincolnshire on 10th March at 19:42.

The aeroplane suffered a direct hit from flak and exploded in mid-air. The wreckage crashed close to the Anne-Marie-Menut roundabout between 23:00 and 23:30.

The earlier crash, on 5th March 1944, was actually a Stirling B III serial EF215 of 75 squadron RAF (although many of the crew were New Zealanders). She carried identity AA-M

She had taken off from Mepal in Cambridgeshire on 4th March 1944 at about 20:51. She had been loaned to SOE (the Special Operations Executive) and was on a training flight parachuting arms to the Resistance in the Auvergne.

Because of the foul weather (blinding, gusting snowstorms were reported) she couldn’t see the torch signals and so aborted the mission, but ran into the side of a Puy in the Le Cros – Douharesse area.

The upper middle machine-gunner luckily survived the crash and was arrested. The others perished and, according to a report issued at the time, the cause of death was as much exposure to the elements as the injuries received in the crash.

The third aeroplane Was another Lancaster B III, serial number ND527 (only 14 machines newer than that lost on 10th March). She carried identity LE-O and belonged to 630 suadron RAF, although some crew were Canadians.

She had taken off from East Kirkby in Lincolnshire at 21:17 on 26th July 1944 to bomb the marshalling yards at Givors, south of Lyon, but at 02:45 the following morning, in the middle of a violent storm, she was involved in a mid-air collision with Lancaster ND856 of 82 squadron.

The pilot of the plane attempted a crash-landing just south of St Ignat, 14kms north-east of Riom, but collided with trees. The plane burst into flames and the crew was immolated.

Incidentally, ND856 exploded in mid-air and its remains fell to earth four or five kilometres away. The crew was originally buried in the local cemetery close tot he crash site but were later exhumed and re-interred in the big military cemetery at Mazargues, near Marseille.

lieutenant W T L Short commonwealth war graves cemetery des charmes dechaux clermont ferrand puy de dome franceThe 22nd grave is that of Lieutenant WTL Short and his is an interesting story.

It doesn’t matter what your perception of the RAF Bomber Command is (mine is that they were a bunch of mass-murdering war criminals, but that is by the way), no-one will dispute that for the expense and effort involved and the number of casualties that they suffered, they were pretty much ineffective and much more could have been achieved at far, far less expense by quite simply parachuting into the target area a bunch of commandos armed to the teeth, with the aim of sabotaging the factories and their output on the ground. The rail campaign of Summer 1944 is a classic example of this, and who remembers the Heroes of Telemark?

But a close look at the headstone of Lieutenant Short will reveal that he was “attached to the FFI” – the Force Français de l’Interieur, which is the politically-correct way of describing the French Resistance. And I can’t help thinking that for what he cost the British Government, his efforts were probably far more cost-effective than those of his 21 neighbours. And what is even more sad about all of this is that if you go to The Commonwealth War Graves Commission website

and carry out a search for the Des Charmes Dechaux cemetery in Clermont Ferrand, you’ll find entries for the 21 airmen but no entry for Lieutenant Short.

basilica notre dame du port clermont ferrand puy de dome franceFrom there we walked on into town, stopping halfway for another coffee of course. Crossing the road we went to the Basilica of Notre Dame du Port.

This church dates from the 6th Century and was founded, so the story goes, by St Avit who, as we all know, comes from down the road here at la Cellette where he had a spring and a hermitage. The church was destroyed by the Normans during one of their invasions of the 10th Century and subsequently rebuilt. Unusually, the crypt is open to the public and so we went down there to see what we could see but the short answer to that was “nothing”. It did not escape our notice, however, that the crypt only stretched so far underneath the church.

town hall clermont ferrand puy de dome franceMarianne then took me to see the Town Hall, which is just around the corner from the cathedral, the famous cathedral where Peter the Hermit summoned the First Crusade back at the end of the 11th Century.

The Town Hall was an interesting place to visit. It was formerly some kind of Abbey, as you can tell from the inner quadrangle and cloisters. But we couldn’t go inside for a nosey – it’s lunch time already.

And what do you notice here? Yes – a blue sky. It was depressing, wet and miserable this morning, just like me. But now it looks as if the sun might be coming out.

clermont ferrand puy de dome franceThe Christmas Market was next on the agenda. That was in the square at the back of the cathedral, the square that is dominated by the Puy de Dome, which you can see all bathed in snow and wun on the skyline in the background.

At the market I bought my final Christmas present, so I’m glad that I came here, and then we headed off to the Tourist Information and the Conseil General where I picked up an enormous pile of stuff for Radio Anglais. We won’t be complaining about lack of events and information now for quite a while with all of this stuff that I’ve collected, and I made a couple of useful contacts too.

big wheel ferris place de jaude clermont ferrand puy de dome franceMy main reason for being here though is to hold Marianne’s hand on the big ferris wheel in the Place de Jaude. In her capacity as hournalist she decided that it would be quite a plan to get to the top and take some decent photos, but she’s not very good at heights. Consequently I was roped in for moral support.

The wheel is quite high as you can see, and the views from the top, such as this one looking north-west, are absolutely splendid. Mind you, I was quite disappointed as it was the smoothest ride that i’ve ever had. It gave no real sensation of movement and it certainly didn’t seem as if we were anything like this high.

cathedral clermont ferrand puy de dome franceMind you, another lifetime’s ambition has been accomplished. Taking a photo of the cathedral at Clermont Ferrand is next-to-impossible as it is hemmed in by all kinds of other buildings and there’s no really good shot.

I’ve been experimenting with extreme-length telephoto lenses from the surrounding summits of the Faille de Limagne but they haven’t really worked out. But sod that for a game of soldiers now. Up here is the nicest view of the cathedral that anyone could hope to see.

So a visit to a bookshop, a quick coffee and then back to the bus and home to 2°C.The temperature has plummetted and we might well be back into winter at last.

Friday 21st December 2012 – All around the house …

… is shrouded in mist at the moment.

So either the world did come to an end, or else we have a hanging cloud over the mountain. I know which one I suspect. Hanging clouds are a well-known phenomenon around here, as you know, and I reckon that all this talk about the end of the world was a load of nonsense. The Mayans simply ran out of room on the parchment and that was that.

But it may well have been the end of the world for all I care. Another wet, miserable, dreary day like the 8 previous ones. It’s enough to make anyone feel depressed. But a little silver lining to the cloud is that I now know when our Christmas Special is being broadcast. It’s on Christmas Eve at 18:00 and Christmas Day at 13:00. Central European Time of course so you need to make your own adjustments if you live elsewhere of course.

If you don’t live around Clermont Ferrand you won’t be able to hear it on the radio, but you will be able to hear it streamed on the Radio Arverne website. I think that this is the link, but I’ll have to check up on it later.