Tag Archives: counting crows

Monday 9th November 2020 – I DIDN’T …

… manage to beat the third alarm this morning. But nevertheless I managed to tear myself out of my stinking pit fairly quickly so it wasn’t too much of a problem.

helicopter air sea rescue notre dame de cap lihou baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallSo while you look at some photos of the rather dramatic air-sea rescue that took place this afternoon out in the Baie de Mont St Michel I’ll tell you something about my day today.

First thing after the medication was to listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night. And, more importantly, who had come with me.

And there was actually something there, so I must have been away at some point. And what I heard about my voyage took me quite by surprise because it’s quite a rare event, what happened during the hours of darkness.

helicopter air sea rescue notre dame de cap lihou baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall Last night I dreamt that I had gone to the local Council offices to talk about getting a French nationality. The woman had sent me into a room which was where I would have to wait but my appointment would be something like 09:30. After a while I noticed that they had been calling through people who had come into the room after me and I was starting to become a little concerned about this. I went back to the reception and told them. The woman there said that there were a lot of people to see of course but she could absolutely guarantee that I would be seen before 11:30 that morning. I thought to myself “OK, I’ll have to wait” so I went back. But then I awoke in this dream and found that I was actually inside an old van with a load of other people. I had a look at my watch and it was 10:45. I thought that I have to go and make this appointment. How long have I been away and what have I been doing in the meantime? So I shook myself out, climbed out the van which was something like a CA Bedford or J4 with sliding doors. Someone else wanted to come out behind me so I had to help them out, then the curtain in the doorway was getting in the way. Then I thought “should I take a book with me or something? But them I thought that I don’t really have time. I have to get all the way back to the Council offices and hope that I haven’t been called in the meantime and that I’ll be there before 11:30.

It was really weird, this waking up in a dream and finding myself still in a dream.

helicopter air sea rescue notre dame de cap lihou baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOnce I’d organised myself with the dictaphone I had a radio prgramme to prepare.

It’s the 69th issue of my programmes and now I’m deep into the obscure tracks, which was always the plan. Groups like Amazing Blondel, Brian Auger’s Trinity, Eyes of Blue and the Swedish musician Bo Hansson will be making their debuts when this programme is broadcast and there are plenty more of the same to follow.

And so round about 07:30 or so I sat down to make a good start.

helicopter air sea rescue notre dame de cap lihou baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall It took me less than 90 minutes to choose the first 10 tracks, remix them, combine them in pairs and add on the introduction.

Then I had to research the groups because with so many new groups, I didn’t have much in the way of prepared notes, and then I had to write out the texts and then dictated them.

Once I’d dictated them I had to edit them, split them into segments and then link all of the pairs of songs together with the segments of text in between.

That left 4:20 so knocking 45 seconds off for a closing speech, that meant a final track of 3:35. Having chosen one of the right length and remixed it, I then had to dictate a closing speech which I unfortunately overran and ended up having to trim down the programme by 19 seconds.

Nevertheless, buy 14:20 it was all done and dusted, despite having a break for hot chocolate at 10:30 (and my fruit bread buns were perfect) and for lunch (and my hone-made bread was pretty good too).

First task when I finished was to ring up to enquire about Caliburn. And, as I expected, the time limit that I was given was … errr … somewhat optimistic. They’ll ring me up when he’s ready, but I can see that it’s not going to be any time soon.

Second task was to sort out the rest of the radio programme that I’d started. I even started to type out the notes but I’m afraid that my early start proved somewhat too much for me and I ended up asleep on the chair for a while.

cormorants on rock Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallConsequently my walk outside this afternoon was rather later than planned, but I went out just the same.

For a change I forgot myself and ended up going off around the headland instead of around the walls. The tide was well in and out there sitting on a rock was a colony of what looks like cormorants.

They were just sitting there not doing very much, except one of them that was flapping its wings as if it was going out of fashion. The birds posed quite nicely for a good few minutes and then I pushed off to find out what the racket was all about out to sea in the Baie de Mont St Michel.

helicopter air sea rescue notre dame de cap lihou baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd out there, hidden in the spray kicked up by the rotor blades of a helicopter, was our local lifeboat Notre Dame de Cap Lihou.

As I watched, the helicopter made two or three practice runs towards her and then on the next one, she hovered quite close and as I watched, she lowered a person down on a winch.

By the looks of things it may well have been nothing more than a practice exercise but it was still exciting just the same.

With nothing else going on out there this afternoon, I wandered off back home again to do a bit more work.

Later on, I had a really enjoyable hour on the guitars. One of the things that I did with the bass guitar was to work out the bass line to David Bowie’s “Heroes” and I found, to my immense satisfaction, that I could sing it at the same time.

Back 40 years ago I could sing and play the bass but it wasn’t all that easy. Despite the fact that I still haven’t manage to recapture whatever skill I might have had, I’m finding singing to be so much easier and I don’t understand that at all.

With the acoustic guitar, I selected half a dozen songs and then had a little concert. As I’ve said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … I need to spend more time concentrating on maybe just a dozen songs and knowing them very well rather than dissipating my efforts over a hundred or so.

But one track that I’ve found that I can play and sing quite easily is Counting Crows’ “Recovering the Satellites”, although that song and “Heroes” that I mentioned just now remind me rather too much of a certain night back at the beginning of September last year and one day I might even write about it.

There wa san old burger in the fridge that needed eating so I had that for tea. And being fed up of pasta, I had a baked potato with tinned veg seeing as I have run out of carrots. And the veg was peas, peppers and sweetcorn from a tin that I had bought ages ago at NOZ. As I’ve said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … rummaging around in the food mountain at NOZ does provide me with a varied diet.

Both Rosemary and TOTGA wanted a chat on the internet so I was rather late going out for my evening walk and run.

And to my surprise, not only did I manage 6 runs, I ran them without any effort too and I reckon that I could have pushed on even further had I wanted.

escalier du moulin a vent Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallIn between a couple of the legs I stopped for a breather at the viewpoint overlooking the Place Marechal Foch.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall having seen plenty of photos of the Place Marechal Foch during the night, but it occurs to me that you may not have seen the view looking behind me

There’s the nice little flat level ground which is disfigured by a small bunker or two of the Atlantic Wall, and then the stairs – the Escalier du Moulin a Vent that leads up to the Place de l’Isthme. And while there is indeed a “Windmill Staircase”, there’s no windmill. although there used to be and I have seen an old postcard that shows a view of it.

trees lit up square maurice marland Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallNo-one about so I had a good run across the Square Maurice Marland.

It was all looking quite nice, the trees all illuminated by the lights and with no leaves to hide the effect.

And from there I continued around the walls and then ran on home to write up my notes.

Tomorrow I have my Welsh lesson so I need to do some revision in the morning, and then in the afternoon I hope that I’ll be able to finish off the radio programme that I started in Leuven.

Then there are plenty of other things to be doing and who knows? One of these days I might be able to see some light at the end of the tunnel. Just don’t hold your breath.

Saturday 12th October 2019 – IT’S THE FIRST …

… day of the Bank Holiday today and I have celebrated it by doing absolutely nothing at all.

And that is just as well because I had a horrible night last night. Lying in bed watching the clock go round and round as I tried – not very successfully – to go to sleep.

Yet sleep I must have done at one point as I awoke at 05:45 without the benefit of an alarm. Raining again, and there’s the metal roof of a trailer right underneath my bedroom window.

The alarms went off as usual but quite frankly I couldn’t have cared less about them. I went back down the bed. But Rosemary rand me up at about 08:00 and I spent a pleasant hour or so talking to her. That fired me up to take my medication and to go and make myself a coffee.

Liz was on line too so we had a chat on the internet too – a chat that went on in a kind of desultory fashion all throughout the day. And that included the news that Strawberry Moose will be going on another journey not long after he returns home.

Having had my coffee I was in no real mood for breakfast so I did without. And my fast, such as it was, went on until about 15:00 when I made myself some toast.

In between the coffee and toast I had been sorting out all of my stuff, throwing some stuff away, sticking some more in Strider and taking some stuff out of Strider to take home with me. I found a lot of stuff that was missing but to my great dismay, I can’t find my notebook now.

I’ve already lost one in my jacket in Calgary and to lose a second will be a disaster. So if you gave me your e-mail address on The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour, then send it to me again using the comments link on the blog.

I shan’t publish the information, but at least I’ll have it for when I return home and can sort out the photos that I’ve promised you.

Once I’d tidied up and had my toast I spent a few hours playing on the bass. Working out a few more bass lines, in particular to a few tracks by Counting Crows off their Recovering The Satellites album. That, by the way, is another album that is guaranteed to reduce me into a state of depression.

A couple of the lyrics are quite meaningful (well, they all are, but in different ways). One in particular reminds me of an incredibly lengthy chat that I had with someone five or six weeks ago, quite late one night
Gonna get back to basics
Guess I’ll start it up again
I’m fallin’ from the ceiling
You’re falling from the sky now and then
Maybe you were shot down in pieces
Maybe I slipped in between
But we were gonna be the wildest
The Wildest
The Wildest
People they ever hoped to see
Just you and me

But as Peter Townsend would tell us, it’s all about Time and Chance, isn’t it?

Very similar to when I used to be repairing my old farmhouse, I reckon. When I had the time I didn’t have the money. And when I had the money I didn’t have the time.

Zoe came into my room later, wondering why I wasn’t coming out to be sociable. I suppose that I ought to be more sociable than I am, so I told her that if she made me a coffee I would come out and drink it. So she did, and I did.

Rachel and I cooked tea tonight, stir-fry vegetables and rice in soy sauce with vegan spring rolls. Delicious it was too. There was some apple crumble left over from last weekend, but there isn’t now.

We all chatted for a while and then like The Knights Of The Round Table we all went our separate ways.

Now I’m back in my room, wondering what tonight is going to bring me. Sleep, I hope, if I’m lucky. I could do with a pile of that. But something extra would be nice too. And right now, I’m listening to Jackson Heights and their album King’s Progress, and in particular the track “Insomnia” where Lee Jackson sings
The whole world’s still sleeping
Kept warm by their dreams
Wrapped up in their loved ones
How peaceful it seems
Lay your head on the pillow
How weary it seems
You would give a small fortune
To get back in your dreams

Those are sentiments with which I concur whole-heartedly.

Friday 11th October 2019 – REMEMBER YESTERDAY …

… when I wrote about the evil (because there is no other word to describe it) humour in which I found myself?

Today I was rather hoping that I might have been over it, put it all behind me and moved on. But looking back over some of the stuff that I had written in an internet debate this morning, that’s clearly not the case because much of what I wrote, even though it reflected my true feelings, can best be described as “incendiary”.

It’s no surprise either because there was that much turmoil going on in my head that even at 01:30 the thought of going to bed hadn’t even occurred to me. I spent most of the night wide-awake.

There was some sleep of some kind though, because there are one or two items on the dictaphone. And when I get round to listening to them, it should be extremely interesting to say the least.

The alarms went off at the usual time but I didn’t. 07:15 again for me and this is getting monotonous. The school run too this morning and for a change I had Hannah’s Golf diesel.

So that’s now everything around here that I have driven at one time or another, and my favourite is still Rachel’s Golf estate, although the VWs are far too low for me and difficult to get out of.

Rushed off our feet again today. The place is closed for the weekend and on Monday so everyone wanted their supplies and work done today. I ended up shunting cars around, hauling bags of feed about and going to the bank.

And I’m right about tiredness too. Despite my dreadful night I kept on going all day with only a brief pause, not like yesterday when I was stark out. I was expecting to be much more exhausted today.

Excitement up on the railway line at the back of the depot. The old station was formerly a tractor-pulling venue but it’s up for sale. It seems that the fixtures and fittings have been sold and there were people up there dismantling the grandstand in order to move it to Grand Falls.

This evening there was just Darren and me. He had an omelette and I found some leftover vegan meatloaf in the fridge, followed by apple crumble.

later, I was reviewing some postings from my Arctic voyage. A few (well, one particular) memory came flooding back to me and so I decided to listen to some music to distract me and to soothe my fevered brow. It wasn’t a particularly good choice though. I played Colosseum Live, which will forever be associated in my brain with late, dark, cold nights on board The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour in the High Arctic, and that is exactly what I’m trying to put out of my mind.

Yes, events in the High Arctic have scarred me somewhat and I can’t chase them out of my mind. It’s all very well listening to Joachim du Bellay and that I should be “Heureux qui comme Ulysse a fait un beau voyage”, I’m more inclined right now to the words of the Duke of Marlborough who, on his way to fight at (thinks) Malplaquet, said “God knows I go with a heavy heart, for I have no hope of doing anything considerable”. Or even John Major’s legendary “When your back’s against the wall it’s time to turn round and fight”.

On that note, I’ll go to bed, I reckon. I’ve had a hard couple of days now that demons whom I thought that I had laid have now come back to haunt me. I have to remember, I suppose, that today I really should have been in hospital having a blood transfusion – having already missed three. Bit I’m missing this one too.

Who knows what state I’ll be in when I finally return home?

Perhaps I need some more music
All of the sudden she disappears
just yesterday she was here
somebody tell me if I am sleeping
someone should be with me here
I wanna be the last thing you hear when you’re falling asleep….

Saturday 26th September 2015 – BRRRRR – THAT WAS COLD!

interior labrador coastal drive sleeping in strider early morning canadaHere I am at 06:30, just before dawn. The alarm went off at 06:00 and again at 06:15 and it was so cold that I wasn’t going to hang about.You can see the ice all over the truck cap and the pile of snow that is on the side of the road that fell off the insulation when I moved it. I froze in the 5 minutes that I was outside.

Mind you, inside the truck cap there was no condensation or ice on the roof, and only a little on the sides. That insulation and the sun visor seem to have done their job and I’m pleased with that.

In fact, I had a good night’s sleep all in all and the lorry that pulled up alongside me at 03:00 didn’t really disturb me too much at all.

sunrise labrador coastal drive canadaNow I can see why it is that ancient man worshipped the sun. I’d been on the road for half an hour in the freezing cold when suddenly the sun put in an appearance over the horizon.

This sunrise was one of the most magnificent sights that I have ever seen and you’ve no idea how warm this made me feel and just how welcome it was. It made me feel so much better.

major highway improvements labrador coastal drive canadaAnd so we pushed on – or, rather, pushed off – through old familiar territory that you have seen many times before and so I’m not going to bore you with photos.

Nevertheless, I will show you some which might be of significance here, such as the amount of roadworks going on up here. If you read my earlier notes, you’ll recall me saying how bad the road was back in those days. Now, while it’s not quite a black-top highway,it soon will be, given all of this work.

compactor major highway improvements labrador coastal drive canadaThis view is reinforced by the amount of construction equipment up here.

In 2010 we drove 1800kms of some of the worst roads in the world and I counted just a handful of compactors. Here, in this two-mile length of roadworks, there were two of them. You can see that they really mean business out here.

And while that’s bad news for me and any other adventurer, it has to be good news for the inhabitants.

sub-arctic vegetation labrador coastal drive canadaAnd while I once famously said that the only time that you would ever see a photo of a flower on my pages would be if there were to be an old car parked upon it, I couldn’t resist a photo of these plants.

I don’t know what they are – add the names into the comments if you do know the answer – but they are very symbolic of the sub-arctic vegetation that you encounter up here because this is really a part of the tundra out here.

strider ford ranger labrador 813 kilometres coastal drive canadaWe always stop and take a photo at this spot whenever we are in the area. It’s far from being the most isolated spot along the trail, but it’s quite symbolic as being the first place where Labrador City appears on the road signs.

Before 2010, the road turned right just behind me and went down to Cartwright (well, it still does of course) but this road that we are taking didn’t exist. If you wanted to go west from here, you would have to go east down to Cartwright and wait for one of the weekly coastal boats that went up to Goose Bay, and then drive from there over to Labrador City.

abandoned car labrador coastal drive canadaThis is one of the things against which you have to guard yourself along the trail.

You can see that he has a flat tyre and by the look of things, he’s driven quite a way on it, because the tyre is off the rim. Why he hasn’t put the spare on, I really don’t know (and it’s none of my business anyway) but if you do have to abandon your vehicle to go and seek help, you should take your tyre with you. It won’t be fixed while it’s still on the vehicle.

And about 100kms further on, I found a loaded trailer with the same issues

lunch stop labrador coastal drive canadaThere’s a photo of me and a Dodge Grand Caravan stopped here for lunch last year in brilliant sunshine and I remember saying how I would love to stay here and settle down.

Today, though, we have lunch in a snowstorm, although you can’t see the snow very clearly. It’s not looking too good out there along the Eagle Plateau but at least this year I have the right kind of vehicle to make the trip.

gravel road labrador coastal drive canadaFurthermore, further along the Labrador Coastal Drive they are gravelling the road – and doing it seriously too. There’s tons of stuff being spread out here.

With the compactors that I’ve seen, I wonder if they are preparing this for tarmac? They were building an asphalt plant when I was here last year and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if we are going to end up with a black-top highway.

gravel road labrador coastal drive canadaBut this gravel is impossible. everywhere there are clouds of dust and stones being thrown up and Strider’s windscreen has taken a few heavy knocks.

And not only that, Strider is rear-wheel drive when he’s not in 4×4 mode, and the rear end is quite light. I don’t have much grip on the gravel and when I try to swerve to avoid a pot-hole, Strider goes everywhere across the road and we’ll be doing pirouettes soon.

But Strider is definitely the right vehicle to do this trip. Even in rear-wheel drive, his high ground clearance, larger non-standard wheels and heavy off-road tyres has meant that I’ve done all of this road with the cruise control set at 70kph and we haven’t missed a beat. Whenever the road has been rough, Strider has taken it all in his … errr … Stride.

Contrast that with the Dodge Grand Caravan and its rubbish tyres, and Casey, the PT Cruiser with his town tyres and low ground clearance. We really struggled on parts of this road.

I just wish that Strider had a tank that was 20 litres bigger, or that I could do something about his miserable fuel consumption.

paved highway rest area labrador coastal drive canadaYes, and here we are, folks.

I’m listening to Counting Crows and “Pave Paradise, Put Up A Parking Lot” – and right at that very moment, look what we have here. The highway is paved at this point and there is a parking lot by the side.

How depressing is that? The end of my adventures along this road are in site and in about 5 years time, the whole of the route will be just another black-top highway.

But anyway, this is where I’m stopping for the night. It’s not as cold as last night anyway and I do have to say that it’s a comfortable spec. I even cook a meal inside Strider’s truck cap and the condensation is minimal with the insulation on the roof, even though the windows aren’t open that much.

But it’s cramped in here and this truck cap is not going to work in the long term – that I have realised.

I really do have to think of a Plan B.