Tag Archives: covid

Friday 29th October 2021 – THAT WAS PROBABLY …

… the worst night of them all so far last night. And four files on the dictaphone tells you what kind of restless night it was.

There was a pile of dirty washing-up that needed doing. Some had already been done so my brother and I cracked on and finished it all. After we’d had something to eat there was washing up to be done and I didn’t bother to wash up but he insisted that we wash up. I refused. I only wash up once per day and that was before going to bed. This argument rolled on so I went outside. I frightened one of the seamen sitting on the steps of our ship who was looking at another ship close by. I asked him what was going on and he said “nothing in particular” and wandered off. There were 3 or 4 ships in the immediate vicinity, one a ship owned by Disney that didn’t have any superstructure like a barge. The people on it were speaking Russian so I spoke to them in Russian – “hello, how are you? My name is Eric” in Russian and they were overwhelmed that someone was speaking Russian to them and they actually came over on board our ship to talk to me. And it’s been a long time since I’ve spoken any Russian. I learnt some basic Russian from a local woman in Nantwich before I started taking coaches behind the Iron Curtain and I’ve probably forgotten most of it now.

3 of us, a guy a girl and I had to check out a disturbance on a common somewhere. There was no-one around but interviewing the locals it appeared that foreigners gathered there later on in the evening. The guy with me who was in charge told the girl to stay there on her own and make a report which I thought was strange. I expected one of the others of us to stay as well and pretend to be a courting couple. A single girl on her own would be rather prominent out there. Anyway, that was what we agreed to do and the 2 or us went away. We ended up being stuck in this huge queue of pedestrians at a roundabout. It seemed that it was Derby County’s birthday and there was some kind of celebration. We ended up in this charity shop and they had some Derby County ski suits that were really nice. I was tempted to buy one but I didn’t like the idea of carrying something with “Derby County” on it so I didn’t. We had a good look around but couldn’t see anything else. We went out and decided to go for a meal. I reminded him about this woman and said “when we go to pick her up we’d better take her a cup of coffee”. He replied “yes. hang on here while I go and fetch one”. I said “it won’t be much use now. She’ll need it at 8 o’clock when we finish. She’ll be freezing”. He said “yes” and came out with some other stuff that I can’t remember now.

Later on Liz had bought some furniture for her new house, a bed. The people in IKEA were showing up how it went together to demonstrate what it looked like. She quite liked it and said that she’d take it but it turned out that there was a 6-month delay for delivery. I said “stick it in Caliburn and we’ll take it round in Caliburn”. She said that there was no-one there to assemble it, Terry had gone to work. I replied “I’ll assemble it”. She said “you have other things to do, haven’t you?”. I replied “I can spare an hour or two to do this bed”. They couldn’t find the right nails or screws ro go with this package. I pointed out various piles of screws and nails on the floor by the bed and this was starting to become really complicated. it turned out that she had gone in to buy a bed for one of her grandchildren because the two of them were sharing a bed and it was most uncomfortable for them. She wanted to get them separate beds and saw this while she was there.

Finally, I’d made myself some muesli and was looking for a container to put it in now that I’d come back from being away. I had plenty of flower pots but couldn’t find them all. Eventually I found a large one so I took a bucket of water and washed it out and had it looking fairly clean. Then I don’t know why I did this but I tipped the bucket of water into the flower pot. Of course the water went everywhere, all over the table, all over the carpet so I had to pour the water back into the bucket quickly. My brother said that we ought to find a mop. As we were going through into the back room to fetch a mop the police were in there. They’d been looking for someone for ages who had disappeared and were wondering where he’d got to. It turned out that he was in the next room. He’d killed himself. They were puzzled because the electrode that he had used to earth himself when he gave himself an electric shock wasn’t actually attached to anything metal, just to a wooden chair leg so that wouldn’t in theory have killed him so they began to wonder about his wife’s involvement with this.

But seriously, how come my brother has been playing such a large part in my voyages for the last few days or so? What’s been bringing him into the equation?

As a consequence of all of this it was a weary crawl out from under the covers this morning when the alarm went off. Mind you, I don’t suppose that it helped very much

After the medication and checking my mails I made a start on continuing with the blog entries but I didn’t get very far.

Not long after I’d started I had a message – do I have any Greenlandic music?

Of course, I have a couple of rock albums from Greenlandic rock groups who sing in Inuktitut but that wasn’t what was required. Did I have any Greenlandic music that would do as the background for a radio programme?

“Not to hand at this very moment” was the obvious answer but I do have two Greenlandic friends, one of Danish extraction and the other a young Inuit girl who are musicians so most of the morning was spent talking to them.

Nive told me that I could help myself to anything of hers (of which there is quite a lot) that I could find in the public media and Heidinnguaq, the young girl whom I met in Uummannaq sent me a couple of songs that she wrote which she plays guitar and sings.

And so what was left of the morning was spent chasing down the various files, editing them and remixing them suitably for the radio shows.

While I was on a roll, as the saying goes, I contacted the son of the guy (now unfortunately no longer with us) who wrote “Grasshopper” – the song that I mentioned yesterday – to see whether his father ever left his notes about his song construction. We had quite a chat for a while but to no avail – there were no notes left behind.

And so, there’s no time like the present and I contacted my musical friend who lives in Germany and sent him the link to the song. He’s going to score it for me. I’ve worked out the melody on the bass guitar but many of the chords bear absolutely no resemblance to the root notes, so they must all be derivatives and that’s way beyong my capabilities.

To take me up to lunch, the nurse came round and injected me with my third vaccination for Covid. Now I’m completely up-to-date with my injections and I have a very sore right arm.

After lunch I had a ‘phone call from the guy who co-ordinates the radio. What am I doing on the 12th November?

Apparently there’s a big meeting taking place to formally open the “Greenland Week” here but the girl who has chosen to make up a radio programme of the event can’t make it. Seeing as I know Uummannaq and the people there so well, could I replace her?

Well, of course I will actually, but really I can’t find the time to do my own stuff, never mind anyone else’s.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021After all of that I went out for my afternoon walk.

Quite a few people down on the beach this afternoon, although nobody brave enough to tackle the water.

And that’s not really a surprise because the weather has now turned and there’s a strong with blowing in its usual direction from the North-West. So the fact that it’s reasonably warm for the time of year counts for nothing really in this.

storm baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021As usual while I’m out looking down on the beach, I have one eye roving about offshore to see what I can catch.

And what caught my eye was this storm raging away out in the bay. Somewhere out there is the island of Jersey but you can’t hope to see it because of the intense rainstorm that is falling down right now.

It’s not any surprise that you can’t see any boats out there in that direction. having seen that huge storm approaching, they have presumably run for cover and I for one don’t blame them.

storm baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021A little further along the coast I came to where I could see over the Ile de Chausey.

In actual fact, where I couldn’t see over the Ile de Chausey very much because there was a massive rainstorm over there too.

This one was far more ominous because the wind was blowing it in my direction and I began to regret that I had come out without a jacket because I had a feeling that in a couple of minutes time I would be right underneath all of that.

people in zodiacs baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021as I walked further on along the path, I did eventually come across some maritime activity.

It looks to me as if it’s a couple of zodiacs in which these people are standing, and the marker buoy behind them is not one that would relate to a lobster pot or anything like that.

The conclusion that I drew from this is that they are frogmen – or maybe I should be saying “frogpersons” these days – going for a practice over the side. We’ve seen quite a few of them in the past just offshore.

yacht rainstorm baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021As I walked down across the carpark to the end of the headland the storm arrived and I got the lot, just as I predicted.

And as it happens, I wasn’t the only one who was having a great deal of difficulty with the weather. There was a yacht out here in the bay battling had to overcome the elements and making rather … errr … heavy weather of it.

The rainstorm was absolutely wicked so I had no intention whatever of hanging around in it seeing how things would develop.

waves on sea wall port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021By now, the wind had increased considerably in speed and velocity and I was expecting to see the results of it on the sea wall.

I’d seen a large wave crash into the wall and sent spray high into the air so I prepared for another.

However it’s usually every seventh wave that is the most powerful but by the time that I’d seen the second or third I was drenched to the skin and the camera was soaking wet so I took a photo of whatever I could get and cleared off.

It reminded me of the time that Kenneth Williams appeared in Bamber Gascoigne’s farce “Share My Lettuce”. He came on stage and described how he disguised himself as a tree in order to study more closely the birds that might nest in it. And he finished his description with “and then I unfurl an umbrella and hold it up over my head”
The narrator said “but the birds will see through your disguise, won’t they, and stay away?”
“Maybe they will” replied Kenneth Williams “but I’m not getting wet for a load of bleeding birds!”.

crane unloading port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021Had the weather been any better I would almost certainly have gone for a closer look at this.

There’s a large lorry with something heavy on the trailer, and a very large mobile crane either lifting it off or putting it back on. It’s a shame that right now it’s raining so heavily that I can’t see anything at all. Not even after enhancing the image.

Back at home I made myself a coffee and then dashed through the photographs. I needed a quick, early tea because there’s football on this evening. I ended up with baked potatoes, baked beans and a vegan burger.

You have to feel sorry for Aberystwyth Town though. Second from bottom in the JD Cymru League but against the team that was second in the table, Y Fflint, nothing seemed to go right.

When they remembered to keep the ball on the ground instead of long, aimless punts upfield, they played some really nice, attractive football that kept them going forward despite all of the pressure that they were under.

They did however ahve to misfortune to find Y Flint’s goalkeeper Jon Rushton in excellent form and he made half a dozen top-drawer saves to keep his team out of danger.

Y Fflint scored twice through one of my favourite players, Jack Kenny, who would be a top-class player if he would just learn to control his temper, booked yet again for yet another off-the-ball incident when there was really no need except his own misplaced pride.

Aberystwyth did score a goal – a marvellous goal worthy of any “goal of the month” competition when Rushton punched a ball out upfield and Louis Bradford lobbed it back into goal right over everyone else’s head. have a look at about ABOUT 1:41:25 ONWARDS OF THIS VIDEO

Not long after the football finished and I was writing up my notes, I fell asleep at my desk. I hauled myself off to bed instead, reckoning that I’ll finish my notes tomorrow.

Goodnight.

Friday 30th July 2021 – THE THING THAT …

… surprised me most about this morning was that after so little sleep – much less than 5 hours, I was up and about so early and so … well … maybe not so energetically but at least I wasn’t staggering about incoherently (inasmuch as I am usually incoherent). And I was even back in here to check my mails and my newsfeeds in a reasonably rapid rate of knots.

It wasn’t long though (geologically speaking) until I had to leave the apartment and head off to the doctor’s and my early morning appointment. And I actually made it almost to the surgery before I realised that i’d forgotten to bring my injection with me, by which time it was too late to go back.

skip lorry loading scrap port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallOn the way to the doc’s I walked past the docks as I usually do

My attention had been drawn there a long, long way before I could see them by the racket that was coming from down below. When I reached the viewpoint I could see that there was a skip lorry that was picking up the scrap metal in the skips there.

Bearing in mind my post from several days ago, I mused that it was probably old bicycle wheels and World War 11 munitions that had been dredged up in the shellfish scrapers. Start the day with a bang? Why not!

“This is not the time to be hanging around within pressure-wave distance” I thought.

repairing brick wall Boulevard des 2E et 202E de Ligne Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallA little further on down the hill, this little matter of interest caught my eye.

In actual fact, it was a closed-off car parking space across the road that I noticed at first before I saw the builders’ tape. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall, without any help from me, that the old medieval walls around here are crumbling away quicker than they can repair them.

Thai wall here, in between the Boulevard des 2E et 202E de Ligne and the Boulevard des Terreneuviers has been quietly crumbking away and bits have gone missing, but it looks as if the local builders have been having a go at it.

Whatever next?

Next of course was the doctor’s. Having forgotten the injection, it wasn’t much of an omission because the doctor wrote out a prescription for me to have a nurse come round.

Furthermore, stocks of this injection are available in France and he’ll write out the prescription for me when I run out of the stock that I had from the hospital.

The Covid certificate is easy. Now that I have a Carte Vitale and an account at the French Government’s Health database, he could do all the necessary and I now have a proper Covid Europass. My telephone even reads it too.

The knee isn’t so simple. he thinks that it’s just the menisque, the meniscus muscle, and he’s prescribed an anti-inflammatory medication (which means that my daily dose has now gone up to 10) and a course of physiotherapy.

But prescribing a course is one thing – finding a therapist to do it is something else completely, especially in midsummer when everyone has gone on holiday.

At the chemists I had to wait five minutes before they were opened – first in the queue as well. But clutching my medication I headed back home.

aztec lady charles marie port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnother thing that regular readers of this rubbish might recall that a few days ago we saw Charles Marie come sailing into the harbour.

Not having been this way since then, I hadn’t seen whether or not she was still there but sure enough, she’s the blue and white boat across there.

As for the dark blue boat behind her, I couldn’t make out at first whether she was Anakena, the boat that had set off to go to Scandinavia but had been caught in the pandemic. If it had been she, she probably would have set the record for the boat that’s been the longest in the harbour.

However, a closer examination of the photo shows that she’s Aztec Lady and she’s been in there for quite a long time too.

goods on quayside port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut remember yesterday? When we saw a pile of goods on the quayside as Normandy Trader was busy loading up, and I speculated that they wouldn’t be getting all of that into her with the swimming pool as well?

It looks as if I was right – although it didn’t really take much of an effort to work it out. There’s still a pile of freight on the quayside despite the fact that the ship has long-since sailed off into the sunset.

That means that we shall be expecting another visit, either from her or from Thora, in the near future. Imagine leaving all of that stuff unguarded on a quayside in the UK.

On the way back home I met a neighbour (I seem to be doing this quite a lot just recently) and we had a good chat for a while. Then I came back in here for my hot chocolate and fruit bread, which really is delicious!

Armed with my breakfast I came in here and settled down to work on yesterday’s journal entry and the next thing that I remember, it was 2 hours later. Luckily I’d finished my hot chocolate before it went cold.

While I’d been asleep on the chair I’d gone off on another voyage. I was in my holiday home getting ready to go back to the Auvergne because I decided that I was going to move my holiday home … start again … I was in the hotel where I was staying in some seaside resort somewhere in the south of France or somewhere in the west of France. I was going to get back into Caliburn and drive back to Virlet to get some stuff because I was planning to rent an apartment here. I’d thought about going to contact all of the Agents Immobiliers in the region about seeing who had a flat to let. I just walked out of my hotel room and across the hotel into the lobby just to walk straight out, get into Caliburn and drive straight back. I saw the rain and thought “do I need anything to take with me to leave back there? Do I need to bring anything else. Then I had a horrible thought about the train – how was I going to get to my hospital in Belgium?

There was really only just enough time to sort out the photos before lunch and guitar practice.

After lunch I had to ring around for a nurse, but everyone seems to be unavailable. Better luck at the hospital where I was able to change my appointment to the following week. And then I could at last push on with my notes.

There was the usual break for my afternoon walk so grabbing the NIKON D500 j cleared off outside.

lancia fulviasport 1600 zagato place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd while there was no bus parked outside the building today, I would swap any bus on the road for one of these.

This vehicle is probably one of the fasted production cars that Lancia ever produced, and I didn’t recognise it at first because someone has taken off the distinctive bumpers. But in actual fact it’s one of the Zagato-bodied Lancia Fulvia Sport 1600s.

Made for just two years, 1971 and 1972, there can’t have been many of these made, and there can’t be more than a handful that still survive, especially here in France.

But yes, one of these would do me very nicely, thak you.

man in water beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallSo having dealt with the car, let’s go and deal with the issue of the beach.

It took quite an effort to make it across the car park because there was now a howling gale that had sprung up. I wasn’t expecting to see too many people on the beach, and I was quite right too because everyone was conspicuous by their absence

Apart from a few brave souls wandering around out there, there was this guy leaping up and down as the waves came into shore. He was certainly a braver man than I am.

waves breaking on rocks baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd waves of course, there were plenty because there was quite a storm raging out at sea.

There are some rocks that even when the tide is well in, they aren’t covered over by the sea and the waves were breaking on them with quite considerable force. We aren’t likely to see too many ships out there today.

But there were crowds of people at a loose end wandering what to do and I threaded my way through them along the path, chasing after my headgear that had decided to go off for a stroll all on its own with the aid of the wind.

joly france 1 baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhen I said that we aren’t likely to see many ships out there this afternoon, here’s one that I certainly didn’t expect to see.

It was the clouds of spray being thrown around out there that drew my attention to somethign moving so I went to find a high point on top of one of the old bunkers to have a better view.

Exposed as I was to the wind, it was impossible to take the shot that I wanted for when there was a shower of spray over the ship I was being blown out of position. I had to compromise.

Digital enhancement back home brought out the step in the stern of the ship and this tells us that it’s Joly France I battling its way valiantly out through the gale to the Ile de Chausey and I bet that the people on board were not enjoying the trip.

A few years ago I was on a crossing like that, and everyone was leaning over the railings.
“The trouble with you” I said to one man “is that you have a week stomach”.
“Nonsense” he retorted. “I’m throwing it as far as all the others”.

waves on sea wall baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallWith all of these storms at sea I was expecting to see waves of hurricane proportions dshing over the sea wall and soaking everyone and everything in the inner harbour.

Consequently I dashed down the path, across the car park and around the corner onto the path onto the other side of the headland in eager anticipation.

And this is the best that I can get.

It’s true that the harbour wall is well-sheltered from the nor’westers by the headland around which I have just walked, and you can tell that by the fact that I have now replaced my headgear. But I was expecting much better than this.

If I knew who to complain to, I would lodge a complaint.

l'omerta port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallYesterday (was it only yesterday?) we saw one of the shell-fishing boats moored up and aground at the wharf by the Fish Processing Plant.

Today, it looks as if we have had a tactical substitution because while she has now cleared off, another one his come to take her place.

When I went further round to the front, I could see that it’s our old friend L’Omerta who seems to spend a lot of her time moored over there when she isn’t out at sea.

But anyway, that’s not my affair. With nothing going on any different in the chantier naval I carried on with my walk.

man in hazmat gear le tiberiade port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallFurther on down the road I stopped to have a look at what was going on in the inner harbour.

The trawler Le Tiberiade is in there this afternoon. She has a sister-ship, Le Coelecanthe and the only way that I can tell them apart is when I see them together because the latter is bigger than the former.

But as I looked more closely, there was something else that had caught my eye. In the background is a white van and a large commercial pressure-washer, being operated by someone in full hazmat equipment.

So whatever that is all about, I’d love to find out more. Although there isn’t likely to be anything in the local paper about it, and at the speed at which I move these days, I wouldn’t be able to catch him before he went.

unloading builders equipment port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallInstead, I turn my attention to the rest of the inner harbour.

And remember the pile of builder’s material that we saw there yesterday and this morning, well, like Topsy, it “just growed”.

If you look very closely, you can make out the front of an articulated lorry and there’s also a guy on a fork-lift truck busy manoeuvring stuff around there.

All of this seems to indicate to me that the arrival of one of the Jersey freighters is imminent.

But I shan’t be around to wait for it if it arrives on the evening tide. I’m off back home for my coffee.

Downstairs in my letter box was a letter, from the Welsh Joint Education Council. For my “spoken Welsh exam” I’ve scored … errr … 208 out of 220. The reason for that mark is that I have learnt after many years of bitter experience to “Keep it Simple” and don’t try to complicate things gratuitously. Then you can’t tie yourself in knots of your own making.

Back here I finished off yesterday’s entry, about 7 hours later than I had intended, and then made tea. Falafel and pasta with the most delicious pineapple upside-down cake with coconut soya stuff.

No football tonight so I can go to bed. And about time because I’m wasted after my bad night and early start.

Here’s hoping for a better day tomorrow.

Tuesday 15th June 2021 – SUMER IS ACUMEN IN.

big wheel place albert godal Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallLhude sing cucu and all of that stuff.

You can always tell when summer is about to arrive in Granville because the Big Wheel puts in an appearance. It must have sneaked in under the cover of darkness and there they are on the Place Albert Godal sticking it up. By the time that I come back from Leuven on Saturday afternoon (God willing) it might even be working.

But I’ve been working today – and working quite hard too, would you believe. Although it was a real struggle, I managed to be out of bed by 06:00 all the same although I would have given all that I own to have been back in bed tucked up in the warmth.

And “back in the warmth” would have been appropriate because there was a cold, clammy mist outside this morning when I awoke. It didn’t look very sunny at all and there would be no chance whatever of seeing TITTAN 1 or any of its siblings.

After the medication I sorted out the dictaphone notes for the last couple of days. They are up to date now and I can turn my attention to last night’s activity. I was out behind the Iron Curtain on a coach tour as a passenger. Everyone was getting ready to go off on an excursion. I hadn’t heard about this so I wondered what was happening. I asked one of the organisers who was rather brusque with me. He told me that they were just going to visit a church and maybe going on to a show or something. I knew where this church was so I said that I’d follow them on. We were told that things were strange in this town because of different rules and regulations. For example, we’d find lots of doors open, or I did when I walked through it, but no-one was there answering it. Films that were going, when you went to watch them they would freeze and when you’d turn your back they would move again. It turned out that because of Covid no-one was allowed to stay in anyone else’s house. They were worried that people meeting each other in a night club or a cinema or somewhere like that would end up pairing off for the night. The authorities wanted to prevent that from happening. It sounded strange to me. All round this city was ringed with these forest ridges where you could go. There would be loads of people about. The place was like a ghost town and there was no-one about at all because of this.

Following that I worked on my Welsh revision and I’m glad that I did because there was a lot that I didn’t know..

And then grabbing my slice of cake and a mug of hot chocolate I went for my lesson. And surprisingly it went quite well although, shame as it is to say it, I fell asleep three times. Not flat out but I could feel myself going off and managed to stop myself just in time.

The results of our exam won’t be known for another 6 weeks, so we’ll have to keep our fingers crossed for longer than I was expecting.

And while we’re on the subject of tests, my Covid test came back negative.

After lunch I had a huge pile of correspondence and printing to do, as well as my tax return. I’ve no idea what i’m supposed to be doing with that. I just date it and sign it, attach a load of papers from various people and let them deal with it. If they need any more info, they can write and ask for it.

gardeners sheltering from the heat rue des juifs Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallIt was stifling hot when I set out for the town.

And I wasn’t the only one who was feeling the heat. There are some gardeners around the town dealing with the vegetation and they clearly decided that the only protection is flight. They’ve pulled their lorry up underneath a tree and they were all sitting on the wall in the shade.

Not for me though. I pushed on to the estate agent’s and gave them the certificate of insurance for my apartment. They didn’t think that it was the correct one but they’ll sort it out.

And I cursed my bad luck as well. They had a storage garage to let that would have been ideal for me to rent and dump all of this stuff out of Caliburn but I’d missed it by a whisker. It was now let.

Next stop is the Post Office. I’m just a whisker away from having a Carte Vitale, the card that opens the dorrs to the French Social Security system. I didn’t think I’d qualify but I applied all the same. And surprisingly, I had the paperwork back asking for my photo, a copy of my carte d’identité and a specimen signature.

So who knows?

Third stop was at the bank. They pay my Belgian pension 6-monthly by cheque and I don’t know why, but anyway the cheques came the other day and I need to pay them in. Now where can I go with €230?

unsafe scaffolding rue st paul Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOn my way up to the Tax Office (there are 41 steps up to the Eglise St Paul and I felt every one of them) I came across this interesting arrangement.

The scaffolding legs that are on the floor don’t go all the way up to the top. It’s just a few 2-metre lengths and the rest of the height of the scaffolding is somehow wedged up against the lengths on the floor.

No matter how hard I looked, I couldn’t see how it was rendered safe. That’s the kind of thing that looks totally unsafe to me. But there’s probably a very simple answer to this even if I couldn’t see it so don’t take this insecurity for granted. It probably makes perfect sense to those who go up it.

beach Boulevard des Amiraux Granvillais Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallHaving deposited my papers in the letter box, I headed down to the beach. A different one today – the one by the Boulevard des Amiraux Granvillais with its tidal pool.

And there were quite a few people taking in the sun down there today. And I’m not surprised because it was a really scorching afternoon.

One person down there enjoying the weather was our friend the itinerant who used o hang around up here in the past. He was in an expansive mood and we spent a good 45 minutes chatting before, in the words of the News Of The Screws reporter “I made my excuses and left”. I had plenty of things to do right now and standing there talking wasn’t getting them done.

hang glider pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAs I left I noticed a Bird Man of Alcatraz on his way towards the end of the headland, but rather more likely on a direct collision course with the spire of the Eglise Notre Dame de Cap Lihou.

As I awaited the inevitable calamity, he did a U-turn and steered himself out of the way and headed back from whence he came. And I cursed my bad luck. It’s really not my day, is it?

To console myself, I went off and treated myself to an ice-cream. It was that kind of day. And my favourite ice-cream stall was actually closed, which was a surprise to me. But the one next door wasn’t. And it really did taste delicious. I shall have to go there again.

zero waste shop mademoiselle vrac Rue Georges Clemenceau Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThe old pharmacy in the Rue Georges Clemenceau closed down a while ago and it’s now been reoccupied.

It’s going to be one of those weigh-and-save places, rather like the BULK BARN places that we know from Canada, but I bet that it will be much more upmarket than that and we’ll be hard-pressed to find any bargains.

You would think that with the absence of packaging, the produce would be cheaper but that’s rarely the case.

Back here, my Inuit friend Heidinguaq was on-line so we had a little chat. It’s nice to see her after than nocturnal visit that she paid me the other day. I asked if she would be coming to Europe some time soon. She hoped so so I said that we’d meet up and I’d bring my bass.

STRAWBERRY MOOSE will come too. Those two have a special affinity after their meeting in Uummannaq when we called in there with THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR

The guitar practice was slow but sure, and then I had veggie balls and pasta for tea, followed by apple pie and home made custard.

Now I’m off to bed. I’m going to Leuven tomorrow and I have nothing whatsoever ready. It’s one of those days.

Monday 14th June 2021 – I WAS OUT …

… and about this morning walking around the footpath at the top of the cliffs at 06:30 this morning.

Really!

How it cam to pass was that I was having my medication at about 06:15 when I looked out of the window at the bright blue, cloudless sky and saw an aeroplane fly overhead – well, its contrails anyway. I went to have a look at the flight radar to find out which flight it was (I’ve forgotten now but it was a red-eye from North America).

But what I saw in the distance flying past Finisterre, and at 42,000 feet as well in a direct line for my little rock, was TITAN 1. That’s one of the United States Government’s four “Nightwatch” Boeing 747s that’s fitted out as a National Emergency Airborne Command Post and has presumably come over for the NATO meeting in Brussels this week in case Biden needs to push the red button.

And so, armed with the NIKON D500 I went outside to wait for it.

And I waited. And waited. And waited.

Eventually I went back inside to find that it had performed a dog-leg and gone off out into the English Channel to skirt round the Cotentin Peninsula. She obviously didn’t want anyone to know that she was about. And that’s a shame. Actually being able to see one, even at that distance, would be quite something.

So instead I came back here and started work on the radio programme. having already chosen and paired the music, it was all done and dusted by 11:45, even with a break for hot chocolate and ginger cake.

Yes, I’ve run out of fruit bread so I had to have some of Liz’s ginger cake. And I’ve timed my visit to Leuven just right because I’m running out of that now. I’ll have to see what else the hospital will cut off this time so that Liz will bake me some more cake.

Meanwhile, on the dictaphone we started with something to do with a stately home. The dogs that were pulling the sledge had panicked and roared off and went through the house. The young boy who was standing on the balcony overlooking where the maid was cleaning was pitched over the balcony by the force of the arriving dog team, went straight through a plate glass firescreen and ended up at the feet of a servant who was polishing it. Something else went over the end as well, then a couple more children. Then the guy came in, all apologetic. They were saying that since several weeks this was the only stately home in the bottom 11 to have won any points so it was looking rather good for it. I tried to take some out and just wetting some neat porridge oats and tried to thin it down again or thicken it up again, one or the other, thicken it up, I think and se what it tastes like I fell asleep.

Later on there had been something to do with the Midlands and I was going to talk to a friend about something. He had recommended a school to me, recommended one not to go to so I’d been to the first one, had a look round and liked it. I’d been to the second one which was last on his list and this was where I dropped my sandwiches. I was about to pick them up but some girl picked them up and started to nibble at the filling in between with her fingers. Then she handed them to me and said ‘thank you”. I thought “this isn’t really the kind of school that I want”. I realised afterwards that this is the one that is bottom of the list so I thought that I’d snip that off straight away. I mentioned it to my friend and he gave me all kinds of pointers of what to look for and what to avoid and made 1 or 2 remarks about the school’s accounting and false accounting being put through, that sort of thing.

At some point or other I was in a dismal, dark railway station in a waiting room waiting for my train to be called. Then they announced it and it was right over the far side of the station. I had this huge suitcase and a couple of other things that I needed to carry. I walked out of the waiting room and it was pitch-black. I had to struggle my way through the dark and I lost hold of my suitcase once and couldn’t find it. In the end I made my way up to the top of a walkway and along. I had to enquire again as to my train and it was just coming in. As I was going down the steps it pulled in so I stuck my suitcase with the other stuff in the luggage van and got on this train and made sure that i was in the Glasgow portion. The train was crowded and I was wedged in with a group of men who were going somewhere and doing something together. They had their suitcases and there was no room for anyone to move or do anything. Then I got to Glasgow and ended up on a bus. people were asking me where I was going but I didn’t really have much of an idea and I was telling them any old kind of story. I turned up at this hotel. I explained that I’d come to manage it, that set everyone off in a panic. They were trying to find me a bedroom, a bath and a table to sit and have breakfast. And I mustn’t forget about the couple snogging in this bus and this elderly Scots woman giving them the most fearful disapproving looks.

After a shower and a good clean up, I had lunch. And then Caliburn and I went off to my Covid test in the sweltering heat. It’s a swish new place this, much better than the old one, but it’s too far out of town for me to walk in this weather which is a pain.

So having been all done and dusted, I went to LIDL and stocked up on a few things and then drove back home.

Later on I went out for my afternoon walk around the headland.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallFirst stop was to see what was going on down on the beach this afternoon so I went over to the wall at the end of the car park and stuck my head over the top.

The beach is smaller than it was yesterday of course, with the tide, but despite it being a working day there are still plenty of people out there soaking up the sun. And with the heat that we were having, who can blame them,

But in today’s newspaper there was an interesting article about all of the people down on the beach yesterday. Apparently there were several tonnes of rubbish left behind by the tourists and as the tide comes right in up to the cliffs, the rubbish that the Council’s workforce were unable to recover was swept away into the sea.

So if you are wondering why there is so much plastic and other rubbish in the oceans, now you know why. Bone-idle tourists.

twin engined light aeroplane pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhile I was out there looking at the people on the beach I was overflown by another aeroplane.

Not TITAN 1 or one of her three siblings but a weird light aeroplane the type of which I haven’t seen before. As I mentioned a few days ago, France seems to be quite keen on its weird types of light aeroplanes and here’s another one to add to the collection.

It’s some kind of twin-engined machine and we don’t see too many of those at all around here. And it’s unfortunately too far away and too high up for me to read its registration number, assuming that it has one, so I’m not able to tell you very much about it

aeroplane f-gbrk Piper PA-28-161 Warrior II pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAs for this one though, I can tell you more – a little more – about it.

As it flew past over my head I was able to read its registration number. It’s F-GBRK and my database tells me that it’s a Piper PA-28-161 Warrior II. The Warrior is a derivative of the Piper Cherokee, which is a lightweight, cheaper alternative to the more famous Piper Comanche.

The model was introduced in 1974 replacing the Cherokee 150, and is fitted with a Lycoming O-320 engine.

And as you might expect, it’s not on the list of departures from the airport at Granville and it hasn’t filed a flight plan either.

people fishing in boat baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallSo having sorted out all of that I pushed on along the path at the top of the cliffs, stopping to admire the men in the boat on my way past.

And they seem to be really crowded in there, without enough room to swing a cat, never mind a fishing rod, by the looks of things. And I think that the guy wielding a net to catch the fish off the end of the line is being rather optimistic.

Apart from one or two other small boats out there, there wasn’t all that much else going on out at sea this afternoon. Anyone with any sense would be under an umbrella with a cocktail or in a deckchair with a newspaper over their head in this kind of heat.

yacht rebelle fishing boat chantier navale port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere was plenty of activity going on in the chantier navale this afternoon, as I discovered when I made my way around there.

The yacht Rebelle is still down there in the place where Aztec Lady lived for so long, but the little trawler-type of boat that had been there for a week or so has now disappeared back into the water. Instead, there is one of the shellfish boats – one of the larger ones – down there now on ramps and blocks receiving attention.

And both of the boats must be receiving plenty of attention today because I don’t recall ever seeing so many assorted vans parked up there while their occupants are presumably at work on the two boats. All of this points to a frenzy of activity so there must be something going on.

gerlean port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd one of our little NAABSA (not always afloat but safely aground) shellfish boats is still there settling into the mud and silt at the quayside underneath the Fish Processing plant.

It’s Gerlean who is there today. L’Omerta was the other one that was there for quite a while. She was there on her own at first but then Gerlean came to join her. And now she is there on her own as L’Omerta seems to have cleared off elsewhere.

As I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … the other boats must find it quite inconvenient for these boats to be always moored up here. It means that there is less space for them to tie up and unload and so they have to queue up to find a berth. I’d love to know what the issue is why they can’t tie up in the inner harbour out of the way.

chausiais port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallSomeone who is however tied up in the inner harbour is Chausiais, the little freighter that runs the shuttle out to the Ile de Chausey.

And being tied up underneath the big crane tells me a couple of things.

  1. The holiday season is in full swing so there’s a good load of luggage and food supplies etc to be ferried over to the island right now
  2. With her blocking the loading bay, we can’t be expecting a visit of Thora or Normandy Trader in the immediate future

In fact Normandy Trader seems to be spending much more time running over to St Malo these days than she does to here. That’s rather a disappointment and quite a loss for the port. Ohh! To see a gravel boat or two right now!

aeroplane 55-oj pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOn my way back to the apartment I was overflown yet again. A different one this time.

And this one needs no introduction from me because she’s 55-OJ, one of the little light aeroplanes that we see flying past on a regular basis. As I’ve said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … I’m going to have to get out to the airport one of these days for a nosey around and to make further enquiries.

But instead, back at the apartment after my day’s exertions in the heat I crashed right out. And for a good 90 minutes too. I really did feel awful.

My bass practice was a little depressing and the least said about my session on the acoustic guitar the better

Tea was pasta with veg and a burger, followed by apple pie from the freezer with custard. I enjoyed that.

Now it’s bedtime and I’ll try to remember my medication that I forgot yesterday, so that I hope to have a good night’s sleep.

And then I can get on with my Welsh revision as long as TITAN 1 isn’t anywhere in the area.

Friday 11th June 2021 – I’M NOT SURE …

… what happened today but just for a change I’ve had rather a busy and productive day. And when was the last time that you heard me say that?

As usual I left my stinking pit as the first alarm sounded at 06:00 and headed off for my medication. I spent some time sorting it out too. I have two packs of it – one that stays here and another that’s in my rucksack for when I go off on my travels. I need to make sure that I have everything in both packs otherwise I shall be a bit stranded.

And while I was sorting out the Lyrica I noticed that the doctor’s “couple of boxes” that he gave me yesterday was enough for a six-months supply. It can’t be a very popular medication here.

Afterwards, I came in here and listened to all of the stuff that was on the dictaphone. First of all I started on the notes for last night. We were going somewhere on a coach. I can’t remember now who I was with. For a change I wasn’t driving – I was a passenger. It was an old coach and as we drove to this zebra crossing we had to stop, and a load of vehicles came up on the right-hand lane and pulled up to stop. Then one of these minibus/coach things pulled up. It didn’t pull up quickly enough and slid on the white line and hit a bollard in front of him. He was loaded with schoolchildren. We said “well he probably would have stopped had he not slid on that white line there. When we reached this place we went to a hotel room and the first thing that – it might have been Liz Ayers – said was “shall we have some coffee to forget about the journey?”. I replied “Oh God, yes” (load of incoherent rambling then I fell asleep). Yes this place that we went to was all futuristic and modern and so on. Everything about it was really advanced technology stuff so we couldn’t understand why they had a traditional toaster there.

Next task was to listen to yesterday’s ramblings (in both senses of the word). And did I ramble too because there was tons of stuff from yesterday. That’s all on-line too after much ado about a great deal.

There were several days from my trip to Leuven that weren’t sorted out so I’ve done a few more of those. Everything up to 29th MAY is on line now and I’ll do the final day tomorrow.

And they will be done tomorrow too because I have made an executive decision (that being a decision where, if it all goes wrong, the person making the decision is executed) in that I’m not going to the shops tomorrow.

There are two good reasons for this. Firstly, I’m off to Leuven on Wednesday morning so there’s no real point in buying all that much anyway. And secondly, I’ve made myself an appointment for a Covid test on Monday afternoon ready for my Belgium trip and I have to go there in Caliburn, so if I have forgotten anything, I can buy it while I’m out.

It’s silly to waste two lots of diesel like that.

For much of the rest of the day I’ve been musicking. Splitting a lot of album *.mp3 files down into their original tracks and then uploading lots of CDs that I’ve had lying around. I’ve been working with groups for which I only have one example of their work because I don’t want to confuse things any more than they are.

Some of that could do itself so I used the time to sort out a pile of paperwork and file it away. It’s hard to believe I know, but things are looking a little more organised in here just now.

But it won’t last.

There were of course the usual breaks, for my morning hot chocolate and fruit bread and also for lunch.

Not to mention going out for my afternoon walk … “Your afternoon walk?” – ed … “I told you not to mention that.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd as usual I went out to have a look at the beach to see what was going on there today. Across the car park I walked (yes, not staggered. I’m feeling a little better) over to the wall to stick my head over the top of the wall.

And there is much more beach for people to be on today because the tide is quite far out . So much so that I actually managed to count as many as a dozen or so people down there today.

And that was a surprise in itself. There was hardly anyone down there yesterday when the weather was so nice, but this morning we had a rolling sea mist blowing in and there hadn’t been all that much of an improvement as the day had drawn on.

There was a neighbour on the car park and we had a chat. And he was as fed up of this weather as I am.

bouchot beds donville les bains Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere might not have been all that much going on down on the beach but farther along the coats at Donville les Bains there was all kinds of excitement.

With the tide being so far out the bouchot – the shellfish that grow on strings rather than in the sand – beds were exposed and so the guys with the tractors who harvest them were hard at work pulling in their catch.

And in the background on the shoreline is the little campsite where when I first came to Granville I was all set to buy a touring caravan and park myself up in a corner because I couldn’t find anywhere comfortable to live.

And then I came to this place, and the rest, as they say, is history.

people fishing from boat baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallIt’s not just from the beach that people are harvesting the fruits of the sea – that is, if those in the boat out there are actually harvesting anything.

When I’d finished taking photos down at the car park near my building I walked along the path on top of the cliffs past the hordes of tourists shamelessly not wearing masks despite it being compulsory until 30th June here, and noticed these men in a boat out to sea in the English Channel having a bit of a fish.

And as you might expect, it goes without saying that not one of them seemed to catch anything, other than a cold, while I was there watching. One day someone is going to take me completely by surprise and pull out a whale. And what would I have to say about that?

canoeist baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallMind you, there are other varieties of marine life that our men in a boat could try their hand at catching.

Not too far away from where they were, there was a canoeist paddling his own canoe, presumably from the marina around the other side of the headland. And I take my hat off to someone who can be able to do that. I was strictly a canal canoeist in my youth.

Once upon a time someone once asked me why making love in a canoe is different from beer from the south of the UK. My answer is that there is no difference whatsoever. They are both f***ing close to water if you ask me.

There was nothing at all going on out to sea anywhere. Or, at least, if there was, it was shrouded in sea mist and I couldn’t see it. Standing at the end of the headland looking out to sea was pretty much a waste of time today so I cleared off along the path on the other side.

l'omerta fishing boat port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere were one or two things going on – or not, as the case may be, in the harbour today.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall having seen plenty of fishing boats in a NAABSA – Not Always Afloat But Safely Aground – position in the outer harbour and today we have L’Omerta, one of the regulars, and another one whose name I remembered at the time and subsequently forgot.

As I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … I don’t understand why this is happening. At one time when I first came here we hardly ever saw a one moored like this but these days since they refitted the harbour, we’ve seen plenty.

The cynic inside me wonders how much the harbour fees have increased in order to pay for the redevelopments.

victor hugo port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere are still plenty of boats in the harbour regardless of whether or not the question of fees is an issue and here are two of the local fleet, Victor Hugo in the foreground and behind it, obscured for the most part, is Granville.

These are the two passenger ferries that go out to the Channel Islands from here and one or two other ports up and down the coast. Or, rather, they did. Because apart from a brief foray at the end of June last year, they haven’t been anywhere (except when the harbour has been drained) since March last year and the start of the Covid drame.

And the word on the streets is that they won’t be going out for the rest of the year either. What with the Covid epidemic now surging in the UK (cases having tripled in a fortnight and are now well above France’s levels) and other factors, all ferries are cancelled “until further notice”.

So on that depressing note I left the harbour and returned home.

political posters rue st jean Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallIt’s election time in France – the local elections this time. And what happens is that the local council sticks up notice boards and each party or group of candidates can have one on which to erect their publicity.

We have all kinds of candidates here, even a couple of Fascists unfortunately, and if I were allowed to vote I would be voting for anyone at all who could beat them. The last thing that we need here is the rise of the extreme right.

Back here I made myself a coffee and grabbed a slice of ginger cake, and then decided to attack the photos from August 2019. And now I’m heading towards the Holy Grail, which took a lot of finding over a couple of days but find it I eventually did, and in spades too. Yes, the goal of every emigrant on this side of the Rocky Mountains – South Pass – where they crossed the Continental Divide.

And the reason that it’s so hard to find is that it’s such a gentle slope up and slope down. Edwin Bryant wrote “we have scarcely been conscious of rising to the summit of a high ridge of mountains”.

That took me up to guitar practice, which went a little better than just recently, and then I went for tea. In the absence of any other alternatives I had taco rolls with the leftover stuffing, followed by rice pudding.

Now that I’m all caught up with my notes, I’m off to bed. With a bit of luck I’ll do the last bit of arrears of dictaphone tomorrow morning and then I’ll get down to some serious work.

We can always live in hope, I suppose.

Monday 31st May 2021 – HERE I ALL AM …

… not exactly sitting in a rainbow, but sitting on my seat in the office in the comfort and security of my own home. And am I glad to be back after all of this?

Blasted out of bed at 05:00 by the alarm, I’d made a coffee, filled the flask, made my butties, packed my bags and cleaned the digs by 05:30 and I was ready to roll. But it was far too early because I didn’t want to loiter about on the draughty Brussels Midi station so I relaxed for a while

At about 05:55 I hit the streets and walked off down to the station. And I’m not used to it being so bright so early.

martelarenplein gare de Leuven railway station Belgium Eric HallRegular readers of this rubbish will remember the Martelarenplein – the Martyr’s Square – just outside the railway station.

A lot has been said, mainly by me, of the pedestrian pace at which Belgian (and French) builders seem to work. Much of that is reflected in what’s going on here. It’s been under repair for a good couple of years and by the looks of things they are still a long way from finishing it.

Surprisingly I was on the station for just after 06:10 which meant that I had the choice of a couple of trains that were running earlier than the one that I intended to catch, and that’s always good news.

1904 class 18 electric sncb locomotive gare de Leuven railway station Belgium Eric HallThe train that I caught was the 06:19 to Oostende and that is my favourite choice of train if I’m ever allowed to choose.

It’s a rake of double-deck coaches pulled by one of the top-line electric locomotives of the SNCB stable, and I’m not disappointed. Despite its number, this is one of the Class 18 locomotives built by Siemens between 2009 and 2011. There are 120 of these locomotives in total and they have displaced almost every other type of electric locomotive from front-line duties, although we’ve ridden on a few others just recently.

There was a lady ticket inspector and she seemed to be quite satisfied that I’d correctly installed the SNCB app on my mobile phone and displayed the ticket correctly. I’m making great strides with this technology stuff, aren’t I?

The train pulled into Bruxelles Midi bang on time and to my surprise my train was actually indicated on the departures board. So I went up to the platform and there was a TGV already there. Not mine though. This one was going to Marseilles. Mine would be a-cumen in once this one had cleared off, so an attendant told me.

TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt 4539 gare du midi brussels Belgium Eric HallShe wasn’t wrong either. About 10 minutes later our train did indeed pull in.

It’s one of the TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt trainsets, the PBA (Paris Brussels Amsterdam) sets that we have occasionally, and the fact that it’s pulled up so far down the platform seems to suggest that there will be a train set coming from Amsterdam that will be coupled up at the back.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we saw them coupling up on another occasion that we were here just recently.

The train was actually quite empty and we all had plenty of room to spread out which was nice. I could get on with some work. And once more, the electronic ticket on the SNCF app that I presented to the inspector passed muster too.

And to my surprise, I passed muster at the Paris Gare du Nord Railway station as well. The gendarmette who inspected my Covid declaration from the hospital and my carte de sejour and waved me through without comment can detain me for further questioning any time she likes.

The metro was crowded – it seems as if despite the President’s entreaties, France has gone back to work. The casualty figures show me that this virus is very far from being beaten here and it’s all going to end in tears.

84556 gec alstom regiolis bb7200 507219 nez casse gare montparnasse paris france Eric HallAt the Gare Montparnasse what I reckoned would be my train was already in. It was the only Normandy train in sight.

Parked next to it is one of the BB7200 class of electric locomotives, the nez cassés or “broken noses” of the SNCF railway system. These, and their half-brothers used to be the mainstays of the high-speed long-distance SNCF railway network but now they are used for less glamorous purposes since the arrival of the TGVs.

It’s a long walk from the metro station to the railway station (they moved the railway station so that they could build the Tour Montparnasse on its site) and so I was exhausted. But I found some more seats that I hadn’t noticed before and one of them was vacant so I could sit in peace.

It is indeed my train – the back half of it in fact because it’s 2 trainsets coupled together. And I’m sitting in the rear trainset. The train is busy but I could still have a pair of seats all to myself which pleased me greatly.

And here’s a surprising thing. The ticket collector came up to me and instead of asking to see my ticket he asked “what’s your date of birth?”. So I replied and he said “bon voyage, Monsieur Hall”. This SNCF app clearly does more than it lets on that it does.

In the past that kind of thing would have bothered me greatly but everyone’s privacy has long since been eroded away. 30 years ago I wouldn’t have dreamed of writing like I do but the authorities know where I am and what I’m doing no matter how hard I try to disguise it

84559 gec alstom regiolis Bombardier B82790 gare de Granville railway station Manche Normandy France Eric HallWe pulled into the railway station bang on time too and found ourselves parked up next to one of the Bombardier trainsets that works the Caen-Rennes line. At least I could photograph the front trainset from here

It had been a pleasant journey and to my surprise, despite the 05:00 start I’d only dozed off for about 10 minutes. But I’d only had some hot coffee, not anything cool to drink, with me and so having set out at that time, I now had a thirst that you could photograph.

That was what I would call rather bad planning, but seriously, you’ve no idea how much stuff I usually have to bring back and I simply couldn’t carry any more. I had quite a job carrying this lot.

Going down the steps to the Parc de Val es Fleurs was okay but even on the flat I was struggling. I wasn’t looking forward to the hill up to my place. But I cheered up watching a grockle try to park his motor home in a completely empty car park. I really don’t understand some of these people.

water leak rue des juifs Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAt the foot of the Rue des Juifs there were temporary traffic lights and water all over the place. It looks as if there has been a burst pipe.

But surprisingly, despite the emergency and the big hole and the traffic lights and the vans, there wasn’t a single workmen (and not a married one either) about anywhere. It was about 14:15 so they all should be back at work after lunch.

The hill up the Rue de Juifs was not something to which I was looking forward. It’s pretty steep at the best of times and here I was, loaded up, not in the best of health, and I’d had an emergency operation a week or so ago and the stitches were still in.

But I shan’t get home just standing here looking at it. There’s no other solution but to press on.

people playing bowls bar ephemere place pleville pelley Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallIt’s most unlike me, I know, but I had to make several stops on the way up to catch my breath.

One of these stops was looking over to the Place Pelley where they usually play boules. There’s quite a crowd down there right now, presumably also taking advantage of the bar ephemere, the temporary bar in the shipping container that comes here in the summer and which we saw them unpacking a couple of weeks ago.

If I had had any sense I’d have come home that way and stopped off for a cold drink but I was in a hurry to go home. I took a deep breath, girded up my loins and continued on my weary way back homeward.

builders compound place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd what’s going on here then?

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we have seen over the past few weeks a corner of the car park of one of the other building in the Place d’Armes used as a builders compound but they all cleared off just before I came away and left the place empty.

But it seems that there is some more work going on somewhere presumably in the old walled city and they have set up the compound again. I see that I shall have to go for a walk out that way one of these days and have a good look to see what’s going on, and where.

You’ve no idea the size of the sigh of relief that I emitted when I sat down in my chair in the office, back home. It’s been a long hard slog in the 12 days since I was last here and I don’t want to have to go through all of that again. I transferred the files over and merged everything in – that’s the limit of the work that I did.

And despite the short night, I did actually manage to go off on a couple of nocturnal rambles here and there. And more than just a few too. I’m surprised that I kept going for as long as I did today.

First off was about a boy who lived just up the street from me when I was a kid. Last night he got divorced. I’d forgotten to tell everyone on the day but about a day or so later I remembered it. Anyway we were sitting around the table at lunch ansd he came along with his ex-wife and sat down at our usual table. A couple of other people who were usually there picked up their knives and forks to go away and he sent some kind of scathing comment after them. Of course I didn’t say anything at all. He looked at me and started talking to me about how well I knew Sandbach. I said “yes, I knew it quite well”. He asked “enough to take me somewhere tonight?”. I replied “yes”. So he mentioned a street called Volunteer Avenue (that’s in Nantwich by the way, not in Sandbach). “Do you know where that is?”. I said “yes” so he added “you can take me there and there’s a lot of money in it for you” – something to do with jewellery. He said “we have to leave at 04:00”. That was a bit inconvenient for me but I’d go because I don’t believe this story about money than anyone else. So I leased some sort of dummy office and fitted some kind of dummy recorder because I expected some kind of strange visit. While I was out fetching a coffee and people were talking to me a girl who I’d known and I knew her very well too (and I wish I’d remembered who she was) just walked up to my office as if she was going in. I thought “what on earth is happening here?”. She saw me so I said “what are you doing here?”. She replied “I’ve come to see if such-and-such an office is convenient for me and my boss”. “Really?3 I asked. “Why don’t you go in and have a look?”. “I can’t” she replied. “I don’t have the keys. It says that it’s locked for painting”. So I asked “why did you come here if it was locked for painting?”. She stammered some kind of silly answer at that point and I thought “yes, this is all just so crazy”.

Next up, I was in an office somewhere. I was overhearing a conversation from another desk about a woman who was trying to arrange some kind of exchange visit with a Government department in Germany about tourism. My ears pricked up and I said that I would be extremely interested in that. This woman looked at me with a puzzled look on her face. She had a little chat with me while she was having a chat with this other person. When she’d hung up on this other person she said ‘here’s my number” and it began with 5 zeroes, not 0049 as you would expect, and then a couple of other numbers “and I’m on extension 37 at the moment but this afternoon I’ll be on extension 38. Why don’t you give me a ring?”. So I asked her name and said “yes, OK”. I don’t think that my employers would agree to it but it was still an interesting thing to overhear.

Later on we were a group of impresarios organising musicians and dancers and all that sort of thing for different concerts all over the place. Roxanne was there and I told her a joke about Aunt Mary – Aunt Mary had died and it was actually quite funny but the answer to this was silence, which was one thing that no-one would ever have got. Roxanne delighted in telling it to everyone. We were trying to get this act together with these 3 or 4 dancers and so on. Roxanne told this joke to TOTGA but she didn’t understand it. There was something about ballet in it and I surprised TOTGA and Roxanne by actually being able to do these ballet steps without even thinking about it

Tea was burger and pasta followed by chocolate sponge (to my surprise it’s sill good) and coconut soya dessert.

And now having written my notes, I’m off to bed. And quite right too. I’m absolutely whacked. Tomorrow is Welsh lesson and then I have to look at these hospital appointments and condense the timescale because I have no intention of being away for another 12 days, that’s for sure. I can’t keep on going like this.

Thursday 22nd April 2021 – THE BAD NEWS …

… is that my heart is showing the first signs of giving out.

One of the things that was mentioned to me all those years ago was that the thing that’s keeping me going is the fact that I have a very strong heart. And it needs to be, with having to pump around much faster than normal to keep the oxygen supply going. Once that stops going, that will be that.

And all of that will explain the tiredness and a few other symptoms too. Next time that I go I’ll be having an ECG – they are bringing my next scan forward, and then they are going to come up with a cunning plan. At least, I hope so.

But I’m never one to let it get me down. I sent a message to TOTGA asking her when she’ll be coming over to France. I told her that I might not last very long but I’ll go out with a smile on my face.

This morning I awoke at the first alarm. Not with a smile on my face unfortunately but you can’t win a coconut every time.

After the medication I sat down and went to choose the music for the next batch or radio programmes. And by the time that I knocked off at 11:00 I’d chosen the music for 4 of the programmes.

A mug of coffee and some toast later I went and had a shower, following which I made my sandwiches for lunch.

palm trees grote markt leuven belgium Eric HallAnd what do you think about these glorious palm trees?

On the way out towards the hospital I passed through the Grote Markt in the centre of the town. And it was a case of dodging the workmen because there were all sorts of things going on here in the Grote Markt this afternoon.

And I don’t just mean the glorious potted palm trees either. They were erecting little booths here too with signs and noticeboards. A great many of the restrictions imposed upon the country because of the Corona virus are going to be lifted in the next few days and open-air life is due to resume.

There now seems to be a programme of smartening up the town ready for the summer season.

machines demolishing sint pieters hospital brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric HallFurther down the street in the Brusselsestraat is the Sint Pieters Hospital that they made a start on demolishing about a century a go.

Had I been in charge of the works I would have had it down in a matter of minutes by calling on MY OLD NEIGHBOUR from Crewe all those years ago. What would half a dozen broken windows have been compared to all of this disruption that has continued for all of this time?

They haven’t advanced a great deal over the last four weeks since I have been here last. Even with machines like this prowling around. What they have managed to make is a huge mound of rubble and several hundred tons of dust that were swirling around the place. It’s probably going to take them several more months to shift all of that rubble and I do wonder where they are going to put it all. I wouldn’t like to be here when those lorries are pulling in and out of the compound.

machines demolishing sint pieters hospital brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric HallThe most exciting machines on the demolition site are round at the other side of the building.

There’s one in the background that looks like a huge prehistoric dinosaur with huge hydraulic jaws that are nibbling away at the concrete beams of the building, dragging them out once it has snapped them off and dropping them at the foot of the building where the digger standing next to it can pick them up and move them round to where the breaker is. The breaker can then shatter them into smaller pieces.

It was quite exciting watching them working like this, but I couldn’t hang around for long because I have an appointment at the hospital and I can’t be late for it. There’s plenty of time to see more action at the demolition site because they aren’t going to finish this job any time soon. So I pushed off down the street on my way out of town.

parking sint jacobsplein leuven belgium Eric HallAt the back of the Sint Jacobs Church is the Sint Jacobsplein. That’s been a hotbed of work for the last few years too, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall and it still doesn’t look as if it’s finished.

They dug out a huge hole in there while I was in Canada one year and it seems to be for some kind of storm drain overflow. When they filled it in and resurfaced it they fenced it off with some of this temporary fencing.

Since then it’s being used as a storage depot for the workmen who have dug up all of the roads around here, installed the new drainage system and the last time that I saw them they were still a long way off finishing it. It makes me wonder where they’ve got to with that, but I’ll find that out in a moment.

roadworks sint huberstusstraat leuven belgium Eric HallA few days ago I was musing over the idea that they won’t have made very much progress in the work that they will have done in the Sint Hubertusstraat.

And it looks as if I was right too. There are several vehicles parked in the street but these are contractors’ vehicles by the looks of things. The road is still closed off to vehicular traffic and as you can see from the surface of the street, you can see that they still have one other level of surface at least to put on there before it was finished.

And I bet that the residents of the street are totally fed up of all of the dust and debris that’s been blowing all around here for all of this time that it’s taken to install this new drainage system.

restoring old drinking fountain st hubertusstraat leuven belgium Eric HallAlso in the Sint Hubertuslaan is an old drinking fountain that I’ve seen on all of these occasions that I’ve been walking past here.

From what I’ve seen in the past it’s been dirty and rusty and clearly out of use for a considerable period of time but it looks as if things are about to change.

One good thing that these renovations have brought about is that at long last there’s a team of people now cleaning it all up. And they are doing a very thorough job of it too. I wonder if they are going to restore it into actual working order where people can draw off water.

That would certainly be something novel for the town, although knowing just how many cholera outbreaks were traced to drinking fountains in the 19th Century, I’m not sure if restoring it for the general public to use would be a wise thing to do in the middle of a global pandemic.

monseigneur van waeyenberghlaan leuven belgium Eric HallRegular readers of this rubbish will have seen the mess that they’ve made in the past in the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan, the street that leads to the hospital.

At least they seem to have got to grips with this a little more and if they aren’t careful, it might even be open within the next few months. But I’m not too optimistic though. The “no waiting” signs don’t have any “from” and “to” dates on it, so clearly there isn’t a target.

But what fills me with dismay here is the cycle path that they have laid. For the car parking places they have found some nice old-style cobbles – good old Belgian pavé and there are some nice paving stones for the footpath. But couldn’t they really have done any better than a slab of tarmac for the cycle track?

heron herenstraat leuven belgium Eric HallAt the top of the hill is a big pond and there are always a few birds hanging around there.

This one was extremely interesting. I shan’t bore you with any of my birdwatching stories but I shall just say that I’ve no idea what it is. It might well be a heron, for all I know. I did ask it but I couldn’t hear the reply. I’m probably too hard of heron.

After a Covid test I was given a surgical face mask (they are taking this seriously) and then sent off for my medical treatment. And we all know the results of that. We shall have to see how things unfold after the next visit and the ECG.

They have given me some new medication and told me to up the dose for one or two. And I need to see my own doctor for another blood test in a couple of weeks time.

roadworks monseigneur van waeyenberghlaan leuven belgium Eric HallThe top half of the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan is now actually open to traffic, but you can’t go far as several vehicles have found out.

There were some driving down there too but when they realised that they couldn’t go down as far as they thought, they turned round and came back again. It’s going to be a good while before we have the buses driving back down here again.

But I left them to it and carried on down the street back towards town. And although it was a nice afternoon, I noticed that all of the workmen seemed to have knocked off for the day now. No wonder that they don’t seem to be getting too much done if these are the kinds of hours that they are keeping.

roadworks biezenstraat leuven belgium Eric HallWhen we were looking at the Sint Jacobsplein earlier this afternoon, I’d forgotten to look at the Biezenstraat that runs between the Square and the Kapucijnenvoer.

That’s been dig up for what seems like a century too without there being much progress. It’s still a long way from being finished but there were at least a couple of workmen there brushing up the dust – something that seemed to me like a pretty forlorn occupation.

There was also a large cherry-picker down the street too. They are working on the apex of the roof of one of the Sint Rafael Hospital building in the Kapucijnenvoer. It’s probably something to do with the weatherproofing of a seal thee.

Part of the demolition programme of the Sint Pieters Hospital included the demolition of the building adjoining the Sint Rafael building, and I suspect that that is where the issue might be.

construction site kapicijnenvoer leuven belgium Eric HallBut on the demolition site itself they are progressing with this huge hole that they have dug and that’s turning into something quite enormous.

You can see all of the reinforcements that they are using at the side of the hole – all the concrete columns that are holding back the earth. It may well be that the hole will actually be a car park and the concrete columns will be used as piles on which they will build the actual building.

There are two enormous tower cranes on the site right now so it looks as if it’s going to be something fairly substantial that will be going up on that site. We might be seeing a very tall block of flats at some time in the future, whenever that might be.

construction site zongang kapucijnenvoer leuven belgium Eric HallAnother thing that regular readers of this rubbish will recall seeing is that building there, either a new-build or a well-modernised old one.

It suddenly sprang into view about a year ago as what had been build on the Kapucijnenvoer in front of it must have been demolished. Today though, they had cleared the site of weeds, there were some concrete reinforcing mats piled up, and a surveyor busily measuring up.

It looks as if we are going to see yet more construction in the vicinity, and there was indeed some advertising on the fence suggesting a small apartment block going up on the site. It’s very much all change in the city these days.

From there I walked off back home, having an exchange of messages with TOTGA on the way back.

Later on, I went back out again to meet Alison for a walk around the city.

fountain herbert hooverplein leuven belgium Eric HallDown the street and across the Herbert Hooverlaan where the preparations for the reopening of the country are well under way.

The fountain has now burst back into life again and there were quite a few people gathered around it, and even one or two of them running through it. It was quite amusing to see how they responded when they were half-way through and the fountain suddenly erupted.

For a change I didn’t photograph it. It’s not really the done thing in these circumstances.

But there are loads of tables and chairs piled up outside the cafes on the square. Apparently outdoor cafe activities can restart in the near future and huge areas of the public space are being transformed.

crowds monseigneur ladeuzeplein leuven belgium Eric HallWhile I was waiting for Alison I looked at the crowds of people hanging around in the Monseigneur Ladeuzeplein enjoying the evening sunshine.

Crowds and crowds of them too, and also a few electronic notices to say what is and isn’t permitted in the Square.

When Alison turned up we went off to the Greenway and she bought some fried sweet potatoes. And then we had the famous retort “these sweet potatoes are hard to eat in polite company. It’s a good job that I’m with you!”.

We came back here for a coffee and then Alison went off home. Having had some of her sweet potatoes, I just had a handful of pasta and vegetables before writing up my notes.
.

Now I’m off to bed and with no alarm in the morning I’ll be having a lie-in. And quite right too. It always takes a lot out of me, my day at the hospital and with all of the walking that I’ve done today.

Saturday 10th April 2021 – WOO-HOO – I’M VACCINATED!

Yes, I’ve now had both my jabs and I have a Certificate to prove it too! At least I shall be in the forefront of the queue whenever normal service is resumed.

That’s not to say that I’m going to be perfectly safe. I’ve had the Pfizer vaccination so I’m now about 95% safe against current strains of the virus but there are no details about how I’ll be covered against any new strains and in any case I could carry the vaccine around and infect others.

So I still have to be careful whatever I do. I can’t throw caution to the wind.

Mind you, I did throw caution to the wind last night because what with one thing or another it was long after 01:00 when I finally went to bed.

Nevertheless I still managed to crawl out of my stinking pit a 06:00 when the first alarm went off. It just confirms my suspicions that the issues that I’ve been having about leaving my bed have nothing to do with any physical complaint.

First thing was to grab the medication and the second thing was to listen to the dictaphone to see if I’d been anywhere during the night. In fact I was doing something last night and I can’t remember what it was but I ended up in Canada. It was something to do with cars ad I can’t remember at all. I ended up at my niece’s. One of her daughters was there and feeling very happy with herself because she had taken some courses to improve her reading ability. The had studied these courses for 12 months and when I arrived there I found that she had received a Diploma award from the Open University for English speaking and she was absolutely delighted. And of course so was I because she deserves something like that.

There was time to have a whack at some of the photos from North America from August 2019 before going for a shower, and then I made a coffee in my thermal mug, grabbed some crackers and then leapt into Caliburn.

And I did too, because the door opened quite easily this morning which is very good news.

It was pouring with rain this morning so it was a pretty miserable drive up north towards Valognes. There was a lot of things to see on the way but the rain put a complete dampener on everything.

There was something that I stopped to see on my way north, because there was a good view from inside Caliburn.

Calvaire de Le Plessis-Lastelle Manche Normandy France Eric HallThis is the Calvaire de Le Plessis-Lastelle on the outskirts of the town of Le Plessis-Lastelle.

It’s formerly the site of a castle on a nice high ridge and was destroyed during a revolt against Duke William of Normandy in 1047. It was rebuilt later but fell into disrepair, although a traveller in 1835 remarked that it was still in reasonable condition.

In 1911 the locals transformed what remains of the site into a Calvary but during the fighting in Normandy in 1944 it was very badly damaged. A programme of restoration was finished in 1967 and this is how it appears today.

And that reminds me of the story that I heard about the renovation of the Calvary after the war. There was a call for designs for the Calvary but due to a misunderstanding on the telephone, someone sent in a drawing of George Custer on his horse.

hospital simone veil valognes Manche Normandy France Eric HallEventually, 15 minutes early I arrived at the hospital.

As you can see, it looks quite … errr … interesting from the front. It’s actually an old Benedictine Abbey and as it came into the possession of the State in 1803 one can easily imagine that it was a prize of the Revolution. It was registered as an ancient monument in 1937.

When the hospital was inaugurated in 1977 it didn’t have a particular name but it was opened by Simone Veil who was Minister of Health – the fist female to hold the post – at the time. When she died in 2018 the hospital was given her name.

hospital simone veil valognes Manche Normandy France Eric HallRound the back though, it’s totally different, with all kinds of modernisations having been undertaken.

When I came here before, the Vaccination Centre was under there but seeing it all in darkness and it being a Saturday morning, I was full of foreboding.

A sign on the door said “Vaccination Centre now moved to …. (another address in town)” so I had to leap back into Caliburn, type the address into the Satnave and let the Lady Who Lives In The Satnav plot me a course.

Eventually I arrived at the Sports Centre on the other side of town where I had my injection, was given my certificate and left to fester for 15 minutes before they threw me back out into the rain.

My route back was a different one from my way out so there were new things to see on the way home.

chateau de saint saveur le vicomte Manche Normandy France Eric HallAs I came down the hill into Saint Saveur le Vicomte I was confronted by this beautiful building here. I had to do a U-turn and go back up the hill to find a good viewpoint where I could stick the camera out of Caliburn’s window.

This is the Chateau de Saint Saveur le Vicomte and it has a very interesting history because in view of its strategic position on a hill at the side of a river that leads into the interior, the Norse raiders built a fort there, according to one local historian.

Whatever was on there was destroyed during the revolt against Duke William. A subsequent castle here was an English stronghold in the Hundred Years War.

It later became a hospital, an orphanage and later a prison. Badly damaged by Allied Bombing in 1944, it’s now the subject of a restoration project financed by the proceeds of the national lottery.

On the way home I called in at Coutances and fuelled up Caliburn and then went to the LeClerc and LIDL here. They are much bigger than the ones in Granville and even though there’s more stuff in there, there isn’t anything extra that suited me. I did by some sweet potatoes though as they were cheap, and I’ll have to think of something to do with them.

Back here I made a sandwich for lunch and then came in here to carry on work but unfortunately I crashed out. And crashed out good and properly too, for about an hour and a half.

And when I awoke I had a sore arm again and I was also freezing, freezing cold. So much so that having turned off the heating about a week ago, I tuned it on again full-blast.

When I eventually recovered, I went outside for a walk where I bumped into Pierre the skipper of Spirit of Conrad. he told me that the other week the boat was simply in the chantier navale simply for an annual service.

But all of his tours this year are cancelled yet again. He’s thinking about doing trips up the Brittany coast whenever the situation relaxes.

Finding that the battery was yet again flat in the NIKON D500 I came back in for the NIKON D3000 and then I went back outsode again for my afternoon walk in the wind and rain.

beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThe whole of the town around here was totally deserted which was no surprise given the weather. There wasn’t a soul on the beach at all.

That’s something of a surprise of course because we’ve seen people down there in all kinds of weather, even swimming in it. But not today. I suppose that it was just too much for them today.

Instead, I trudged off along the path towards the end of the headland in my lonely solitude, and also in the rainstorm too. It must have been raining quite a lot over the last 18 hours because the path was flooded yet again and I had to pick my way gingerly around the puddles as I wended my weary way.

commodore goodwill english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallFrom the elevated part at the far end I could see something moving right out there in the English Channel so I took a photograph of it, regretting that I didn’t have the big NIKON D500 with me.

Of course it’s much too far out for me to be able to identify it but enhancing the image considerably I could make out some rough idea of its colours. That seems to indicate that its a Condor Ferries boat.

Its silhouette seems to match that of Commodore Goodwill, the Ro-Ro ferry that does the shuttle between St Malo, St Helier in Jersey and St Peter Port in Guernsey.

Ro-Ro stands for “roll on, roll off” and should not be confused with ferries such as Herald of Free Enterprise and Estonia which were Ro-Ro-Ro ferries, which stands for “roll on, roll over, roll off”.

fishing boat english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere was more movement out to sea too, but this time so much closer to home.

This is one of the little shellfish boats that worked the beds off the Ile de Chausey, I reckon. She’s on her way home to port in Granville, even if the tide isn’t far enough in for the harbour gates to be open.

Off the lawn and down the path to car park I went, encountering a family whose members were as surprised to see me as I was to see them.

Across the car park to the end of the headland to see what was going on. And the answer to that was nothing at all. So picking my way through the puddles I walked down the path on the other side of the headland.

port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere was very little going on in the harbour this afternoon.

The tide was still far out so the outer harbour was quite dry. But we can see all of the tyre tracks of the various heavy vehicles that have been working in there over the last month when we had the very low tides. Their work doesn’t seem to be finished so I wonder when, or maybe if, we will ever see them back working here again.

The fishing boat that we saw earlier is now in the harbour, here on the left, and it’s looking rather bewildered as the skipper tries to think of what to do next with it. And unfortunately she’s still too far out for me to be able to read her name on the visor over the cabin.

anakena hermes 1 notre dame de cap lihou aztec lady Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere is still no change in occupancy in the chantier navale today.

We have, from left to right, Anakena, Hermes I and the lifeboat Notre Dame de Cap Lihou. In the background is Aztec Lady, with a pile of small assorted yachts on the other side of the wall.

Unfortunately I couldn’t stay around to count them because I had to rush on home for the football this afternoon. TNS were playing away to Bala Town.

What astonished me about this match was that the two best players in the Welsh Premier League, Greg Draper and Henry Jones, managed just 28 minutes on the field between them.

Even more strangely was that the best player on the field, TNS’s Ben Clark, was substituted after 60 minutes of the game, with no sign of an injury. He’d run the Bala defence ragged and had a hand in TNS’s goal, but after he left the field the spark went out of the TNS side and Bala had several good chances to equalise, although they were unable to convert them.

Tea was out of a tin seeing as it’s Saturday and now that I’ve finished my notes I’m off to make some sourdough dough ready for baking tomorrow. And then I’m off to bed for a nice lie in.

And I deserve it too.

Thursday 25th March 2021 – WHAT A HORRIBLE …

… night that was!

demolition st pieters hospital brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric Hall… while you admire the photos of the roadworks and demolitions that we have been following over the last few years, I’ll tell you all about it.

And if you want to know more about the photos as you pass by them, click on the image aside and a new window will open up with an enlarged photo and a caption.

But I spent most if not all of the night battling with cramp. I’ve had some bad nights just recently with cramp, and some worse nights too, but none were as bad as last night’s attacks.

demolition st pieters hospital brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric HallIn fact, even when it started to grow light I was still awake in agony having already hopped around the rom to free everything off at least half a dozen times

When the alarm went off I was in no condition to leave the bed and in fact i totally ignored all of the alarms. Instead, I stayed in bed until about 08:20 and it’s been a while since I’ve done that in the week.

But at least I managed to drift off to sleep at some point and I even managed to go off on my travels. And that reminds me – if you missed last night’s voyages they are on-line now too

sint Jacobsplein leuven belgium Eric HallGreenock Morton were playing in a football match last night and were attacking the opponents’ goal. The team that they were playing had a couple of old Morton players in it like Gregor Buchanan. They were attacking the goal and they should have scored three or four in this one particular movement. They were trying to force the ball over the line. One of the Morton players even managed to lift it over the bar from standing on the goal line, there were that many bodies in the way and he had to get the ball over them. Interesting though was that all of the players were just like wraiths, something that made me wonder if the opponents were not in fact Wraith Rovers, just a ghostly outline rather than actual real players whom I could see. I remember shouting encouragement from the terraces but funnily enough I was the only person doing it and it sounded terribly embarrassing

biezenstraat leuven belgium Eric HallLater on there was a roundabout that had been built by Crewe and on this roundabout heading towards the town was my former friend from Stoke on Trent on a motorbike carrying a 5-gallon container of diesel. I was going the other way on a motorbike. Behind him on my old Honda Melody was Zero. She was only about 10 but she was riding this Honda Melody. I pulled up alongside the guy and we started to have a bit of a chat. The girl said “look here!” and she went off on this motor bike, did a couple of sliding turns, came back and slid to a halt. The bike toppled over and she got off and came to sit in between the two of us, telling us all about riding her motor bike. I asked “have you been taking Strawberry Moose out for a ride?”. she replied “yes”. The guy was saying that she’d held him tight while driving. She replied “ohh no! He’s been for a ride with me properly on it”.

And that brought back many happy memories of when I was living with Laurence and 8 year-old Roxanne 20-odd years ago and I taught Roxanne to ride the Melody

Sint-Hubertusstraat Leuven belgium Eric HallComing downstairs was something of a stagger.

My knee was certainly better but it wasn’t that good and I still couldn’t put too much weight on it and I needed to grip onto something to haul myself up into a standing position.

But I did eventually reach the ground floor and I attacked the dictaphone to see where I’d been during last night and the night before. And to my surprise, I had travelled quite far as you have probably noticed if you’ve read all of my notes.

monseigneur vanwaeyenberghlaan leuven belgium Eric HallLater on, I took my courage in both hands and limped off down to the supermarket.

The Delhaize rather than the Carrefour because it was closer and I wasn’t up to going the extra distance. But I did what shopping I needed to do and staggered back.

Despite my injury and despite the load that I was carrying I made it back without too much of a problem, and then made myself some toast for a rather late breakfast.

There was time for a shower and some clothes washing, and then I headed off to the hospital.

It was a depressing walk down to the town because I really wasn’t feeling like it but I did it all the same.

photographer taking photos grote markt leuven belgique Eric HallAs I passed through the Grote Markt I stumbled upon a young photgrapher doing her stuff.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, another one of the regular features on these pages is photographers taking photos. There’s usually one or two appearing every now and again.

Having seen that, I carried on with my walk past all of the building work that has been going on over the last couple of years that is progressing rather too slowly for my liking.

new pipework near the herestraat leuven belgium Eric HallUp at the hospital there was yet more excitement.

It was not easy to see what they were doing but they had a digger out there digging a trench along by the lagoon over there and they have a great long length of large-diameter rubber pipe that I imagine that they will drop into the trench when they have done it.

But as to its purpose, I’ve no idea. And the guys were too far away to ask.

At the hospital I had a Covid-test and then they could treat me for my illness. The wired me up and plugged me in and gave me my intravenous drip.

The doctor came to see me and I told her about my “incident” yesterday and all of the cramps that I’ve been having.

As for the fall, there is no damage and all of the muscles and ligaments are working fine. As for the cramps, she doesn’t think that they are cramps but what her translation from the Flemish was “wandering leg” – she didn’t know its precise English translation and I didn’t understand the Flemish.

Anyway, she’s prescribed me a pill that will ease the cramps and help me have a decent sleep. It takes a while to work so I won’t see the results for a couple of weeks.

Kaatje came to see me too and we had quite a chat. She told me about her holiday plans for a cycling tour with her friends. When she came into my room I was listening to COLOSSEUM LIVE – one of the top five live albums ever and which always brings back memories of the High Arctic and THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR

She asked me about it and I told her that it dated from 1973. “I wasn’t even born then” she replied. I keep on forgetting how old I am, although the events of yesterday and today have aged me by 20 years.

The doctor came back with my test results – blood count down to 8.9 which is no great surprise is it? And then I cleared off to pick up my medication.

herestraat leuven belgium Eric HallOutside the hospital there was a bright blue sky but some really filthy dark black clouds.

This was creating some really strange lighting effects so I took a photo of it. Unfortunately the camera was not able to reproduce the effect which is rather a disappointment so you’ll just have to imagine it.

But at least, the photo from this angle gives you an idea of how far out of town the hospital is and how far I have to walk to come here. As an aside, having gone to the shops this morning as well I’m now on 191% of my daily total according to my fitbit and that’s impressive for someone with a damaged knee.

monseigneur vanwaeyenberghlaan leuven belgium Eric HallOver the last couple of years we’ve been watching the slow rebuilding of the Monseignur Van Waeyenberghlaan and you have already seen the work that they have been doing.

The upper end of the avenue is now complete and the traffic is now able to circulate around there too part of the way down.

People on foot are able to circulate down there too so I continued on my way down the avenue and back towards town. In an hour’s time I would be meeting Alison for a chat and a coffee.

demolition kapucijnenvoer leuven belgium Eric HallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall having seen the demolition of St Pieter’s Hospital, and I posted two new photos earlier.

The demolition work has also been taking place around the back so I went to see how they were doing with that little lot.

Whatever it is that they were demolishing, they have now demolished it and the rebuilding has started. That looks as if it might be a subterranean car park down there and to the left there’s a piledriver that will be sinking the foundations of whatever will be going on top.

Alison and I had a good chat and a little wander around and then we went back to the car park underneath the Ladeuzeplein.

crowds monseigneur ladeuzeplein leuven belgium Eric HallBelgium temporarily relaxed its Covid restrictions a couple of days ago but now they are retightening them again.

There were plenty of people out and about making most of the warm weather and the end of the relaxed restrictions and they were having a little party on the Ladeuzeplein.

Just for a change, it seemed that social distancing was being respected. In fact we saw several stewards who were presumably enforcing them. And as we watched, a police car pulled onto the square and drove around to make its presence felt.

university library monseigneur ladeuzeplein leuven Eric HallThere was a really fine night tonight and I’m not surprised that so many people were out there.

The moon that was shining up above the University Library was particularly splendid. It was just the kind of thing that was crying out for a photograph so I obliged, even if the NIKON 1 J5 is not the most ideal camera for this kind of thing.

We picked up Alison’s car and she drove us back here to my little place. With not having had a coffee while we were out, I made one here and we had a nice long chat. And then I accompanied her to her car.

After she left I wrote up my notes of the day’s activities and now I’m off to bed. I’ll try one of these new pills to see where they gat me. No alarm in the morning – I’m going to have a nice lie-in. I always feel a little groggy after my treatment and the rest does me good.

Friday 12th March 2021 – I’VE HAD MY …

… first anti-virus injection today.

But let’s not go gettign ahead of ourselves here.

Last night was another bad night. Although I was in bed a little before midnight I spent most of the night tossing and turning and trying, not very successfully, to go off to sleep.

But I must have gone to sleep here and there at some point because there were several little trips recorded on the dictaphone.

We were off on the Spirit of Conrad last night going off to the Far North. This dream is all about getting ready, who we were going with, the stuff that we were taking. It was all very confusing. I didn’t really know where I was but at one stage e had to move the boat and I had to find a gallon of petrol from the stores to do that. Then we needed to manoeuvre the boat again. The guy who owned the boat was asking about petrol. I explained that we’d used a gallon so we had to hint for another gallon. They kept on finding things like oil but they weren’t sure whether or not it was petrol. I was dismayed because nothing was labelled, which was going to make life really interesting later on as we got further round. I remembered that one of the girls on board had brought 50 gallons of petrol with her. He said “yes, there was some confusion about that. She wouldn’t give us the petrol until we’d done something else” but I didn’t find out exactly what that something else was, or whether we actually got the petrol. It was just one confused thing whirling around all the time and I can’t remember hardly anything of it now.

There were issues with bus tickets and getting on board, having the passport and all kinds of things that made this trip really complicated. Add to this the fact that I was waking up regularly with attacks of cramp that didn’t help matters very much at all.

Later on we were given a lecture about suitcases and how the airlines would be banning all non-standard sizes. Someone asked for questions so I asked “how are we going to make sure that Strawberry Moose moves. Everyone else shouted the name of a little boy who was in this meeting. He travels with us to North America and he has a wheelchair. They reckon that maybe Strawberry Moose could be taken by him on board the ‘plane as a kind of hand-luggage kind of thing.

Once again I was up just after the first alarm even if I didn’t feel much like it, and after the medication I peeled, diced and blanched the rest of the carrots ready to freeze. And while they were draining off, I attacked a few of the photos from Greenland in 2019.

A little later I prepared myself ready for my day out, and then Caliburn and I set off for Valognes, stopping for fuel on the way. The first fuel since 6th August last year.

The drive out there was interesting. There was bright sunshine and around the next bend it was raining, and then over the next brow of a hill it was windy. And we went on and on like that all the way there.

Finding the Simone Veil hospital at Valognes was straightforward but finding the Vaccination Centre was something else. It was something of a treasure hunt all around the hospital site until I finally came across it.

And they took some persuading to make them give me the vaccine. One of the nurses didn’t think that my Spenectomy was “serious grounds” even though my doctor did, and then because I didn’t have a health card, another one of the nurses had a moan about that as well.

However in the end logic prevailed, especially as I’d just driven 100kms to be there, and I had my injection. They even gave me a date for the second vaccination – 10th April 2021. I can see that I’m going to be very busy travelling about for the next 4 weeks.

On the way home I called at Liz and Terry’s. Liz’s portable computer has been playing up for a while. Terry had had a look and told me that the Hard Drive was easily accessible, so we had ordered a new SSD. I fitted it into Liz’s computer this afternoon and with my little magic tool I was able to configure it and now it’s working fine.

So much so that Terry has now ordered one for his computer (his hard drive is easily accessible too) and I’ll be doing that one next time that I’m out.

Liz cooked tea and then afterwards I came on home, braving the curfew and thoroughly exhausted after my day on the road.

An early night is called for and then I have the shops tomorrow and I need to be on form. I need a really good sleep too, one of these days, and the sooner the better as well.

Thursday 25th February 2021 – YESTERDAY I MENTIONED …

roadworks monseigneur van waeyeberglaan leuven belgium Eric Hall… the slow pace of work at which they bare rebuilding that house in the Dekentraat.

And you won’t be surprised to learn that it’s not just in the Dekenstraat that they are taking their time. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that over the last 18 months or so we’ve been following the trail of several other renovations and repairs that have been undertaken in the town, such as the laying of the new sewer in the Monseigneur Van Waeyeberglaan.

Here, they have been dragging their heels over this work for all this time without the slightest hint of urgency and they are still miles away from finishing it off.

parking sint jacobsplein leuven belgium Eric HallEven before they started over there, they had dug a huge hole in the car park in the Sint Jacobsplein.

That looked as if it was having a storm overflow tank installed there and while they might have installed it and surfaced it over, it’s still fenced off and being used as a builders’ store for all of the materials and machinery for the site.

It’ll remain like that, I reckon, until everything else is done, whenever that might be. I don’t know about you but I’m not holding my breath.

This morning it was rather difficult for me to haul myself out of bed. But then that’s always the case after my journey here. It takes rather a lot out of me, all of this travelling.

After the medicine, I had a listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night.

Last night I had been out in VBH, my yellow Cortina, and I was following someone who might have been in a Volvo. They were doing all kinds of tricks. We came to a junction where a road came in from the left hand side and there was a police car, a Rover SD1 there waiting to pull out. He was going to turn to the right so we were going to go past him. I didn’t realise that I didn’t have my seat belt on and there wasn’t much that I could do about that. As we went past I saw him change his indicator over from the right to the left and he pulled out behind us to follow us so I slid into my seat belt with the idea of clipping it on at a certain moment. While I was distracted the car in front slammed on his brakes for no good purpose whatsoever. I didn’t realise and VBH went straight into the back of this Volvo whatever it was with an almighty thud. Of course the police were there so I told them basically what happened. They had a look and they were certain that VBH was going to be scrapped. They pointed to the left hand side and the sill. The whole sill and inner sill had broken away from the rest of the body and was waving around. i said “I can weld that” but they were quite insistent that this was scrap.

Later on we were doing some building work in an attic somewhere. We were demolishing part of the wall and going to enlarge it because there were two rooms in the attic. I didn’t know where it was going because the alarm went off in the middle and awoke me. There was rotten wood that we were ripping out and someone had built a beam out of bricks would you believe and you could see that that was sagging away from what it was supposed to be supporting. There was about a 3 inch gap and I was convinced that there hadn’t been a gap until we started moving around in the attic. I was wondering if this meant that the attic was unstable and that the work that we were going to be doing was wasted.

This morning I was a very busy boy. What I did was to choose the music for three radio programmes that I’ll be preparing in the future. I might have completed them even quicker except that, once more, one of the plug-ins that I need for certain files isn’t uploaded onto this machine.

That was the case with one of the other laptops but seeing as I shall be keeping this one going for a while, I tracked down the missing plug-in, downloaded it and configured it. And all of that took longer than it might otherwise have done too.

Round about 11:30 I knocked off for a shower and a clothes-washing session and then made my sandwiches. And then off to Castle Anthrax.

demolition sint pieters brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric HallOn the way through the town passed by the site of the old Sint Pieters Hospital that never was.

In the past, I’ve talked … “at great length” – ed … about this building and its history, in particular how it became surplus to requirements before it was even properly commissioned And after many years of standing almost empty, they are now finally demolishing it

They have bulldozers and cranes all over the building dismantling it, but they are really taking their time bringing it down. As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I’d have used dynamite and brought it down accordingly. Just a couple of days’ work and maybe a month of cleaning up the debris rather than spending a couple of years at it and still not getting very far.

roadworks biezenstraat leuven belgium Eric HallSint Jacobs Kerk was locked up so I couldn’t see inside today so I wandered off to check on the laying of the main sewer.

There has been some little progress on the end of the sewer at the Biezenstraat. They’ve battered down the road surface and put in the kerb stones that go down to the Kapicijnenvoer. And you can actually react the Frittoerist now without going through any complicated manoeuvres too. A fritkot in Belgium with restricted access is a Belgian person’s idea of purgatory.

The next stage for the road will be the tipping of gravel, but as to when that may be, that could be anyone’s guess.

roadworks sint hubertusstraat leuven belgium Eric HallFrom here I have to walk along the Sint Hubertusstraat and then up the hill in the Monseigneur van Waeyenberglaan to the hospital.

The St Hubertuslaan hasn’t changed all that much in the last four weeks either. There was no-one working down at this end either but if we look in the distance halfway up the Monseigneur van Waeyenberglaan we can see a pile of diggers and other machinery working away.

And as I went past, I counted a grand total of 8 workmen doing all of this. No wonder it seems to be taking them all so long to make much progress.

At the hospital, I had a stroke of luck. When I first came here 5 years ago, they gave me a car park pass, for which I had to pay a €50:00 deposit. At various times I’d found the card but not the receipt or else the receipt but not the card. But while I was sorting out a few things back at home I’d managed to lay my hands on them both.

So seeing as I arrived early at the hospital I went to the Cashier’s office and handed them back – and recovered my €50:00 deposit. Spend, spend, spend, hey?

Everything ended up running terribly late in the hospital. They wouldn’t treat me until I’d had a Covid test so I ended up having another Q-tip shoved up my nose (which is one of the most horrible things that I could imagine) and then I had to sit around and wait for half an hour while they examined it.

So on finding out that I’m not Covid-positive (and that I’m no pregnant too – it’s amazing what they can find out with a Covid test) they could actually treat me. And eat my lunch too – at 15:00 now that I was plugged in and switched on.

When they threw me out I nipped round to the Chemists and stocked up with medication. Owing to some kind of confusion I’d been given two prescriptions for my monthly supply, and knowing the confusion that arrives when I try to obtain a large supply to take with me on a North American voyage, I took full advantage.

roadworks monseigneur van waeyeberglaan leuven belgium Eric HallOn the way back down into town I could take a photo of the roadworks at the top end of the Monseigneur van Waeyenberglaan.

On the way up, it had been a glorious, hot, sunny day and I had been sweltering as I walked to the hospital. I’d felt rather silly walking up there in my large jacket while some folk were wandering around in shorts and tee-shirts.

But by the time that had thrown me out of the hospital it had clouded over quite dramatically, tte temperature had dropped considerably and the sun was no longer in my eyes at this viewpoint.

demolition sint rafael kapucijnenvoer leuven belgium Eric HallWe’ve seen them knocking down the front end of the Sint Pieter’s Hospital. Down in the Kapicijnenvoer we can see the work that’s going on at the rear of the premises.

The site has been cleared and they’ve now erected a couple of tower cranes in position so it seems that redevelopment of the site is under way. It will be interesting to see what they are going to be building there, with cranes like that. I suppose that in another 100 years we shall find out.

Alison was waiting for me in the town centre so I hurried along there. It’s good to see her again and hear all of her exciting news. There’s quite a lot going on.

crowds sint donatus park leuven belgium Eric HallWith it being a beautiful evening for being out and about, especially for a February night, we went for a nce long walk around the town.

There were crowds of people out there tonight too, taking the air. I’ve no idea what was happening but the Sint Donatus Park just outside the city centre was bursting to the seams with people out there picnicking.

The Sint Donatus park is one that we have visited on several occasions. Apart from all of the water features, it also contains vestiges of the old medieval city walls, but we aren’t going to see them tonight, not in the dark anyway.

crowds sint donatus park leuven belgium Eric HallIn the centre of the park is a kind of bowl or amphitheatre and this was crowded with people. You could hear the noise from a couple of hundred metres away.

There were several policemen patrolling this part of the park and I have to say that they were taking absolutely no notice whatever of the social distancing, or lack thereof, of the people congregating here.

There is one thing that I can say about this is that as long as I can hold out until early April when I (hopefully) will have had my second anti-virus injection, then these people can congregate as much as they like. Darwin will take care of them and we’ll have a much wiser, healthier population remaining when the pandemic has passed, if it ever does.

ramberg leuven belgium Eric HallAlison and I continued our wander around. Down the steep hill in the Ramberg to where it joins up to the Naamsestraat and walked back to her car.

We both came back here and had a coffee (seeing as all of the cafes are closed) and another long chat.

After she went home I sat down to type out today’s notes but I fell asleep halfway through. It’s always pretty exhausting having my medical treatment and walking around doing … errr … 136% of my daily target of exercise contributes quite a lot to that. So when I awoke I simply hauled myself off to bed and I’ll finish the rest in the morning.

Thursday 28th January 2021 – HAD I PUT …

… my mind to it, I could have beaten the third alarm quite comfortably today. But when I heard the torrential rain cascading down onto the skylight in the roof, I decided that having a lie-in was probably a much better idea.

Even so, I was still up and about before 07:00 too. No point in hanging around in bed – and that’s not like me at all these days, is it?

And it was a good job that I was up early too. Alison had to take a friend to hospital early this morning but found out that she couldn’t stay with her. So she messaged me to see if I fancied a coffee.

Despite the rain, we met up at the car park at the Monseigneur Ladeuzeplein. There wasn’t much choice about where to go for our coffee. But as it was a good idea for me to go and check on the times of trains for tomorrow morning, we headed to the station and had a take-away coffee sitting on one of the benches there while I noted down the train times.

We had a good wander around the town in the rain and then Alison drove me back home where I … errr … had a little rest for a while. In view of the miserable weather there were no photos.

After lunch I had things to do.

While I was at the hospital yesterday I transcribed a ton of notes that had accumulated on the dictaphone from earlier in the week. And so the first task was to amend the entries for MONDAY, TUESDAY and YESTERDAY. And when you read the notes of everywhere where I’ve been, you’ll be just as surprised as I am that I even had time to sleep.

Then of course there were the notes from last night. I’d been out with my family and met up again with a girl who, back in the olden days almost 50 years ago, had been a girlfriend of mine when we were at school. I was trying to persuade her to come home over Christmas and she finally agreed to come back to my house and there was all talk about where she was going to sleep. I had to remind everyone that I was the one who had the bed. The discussion still went on and no-one was getting the message that if she came back, it was me who was going to be interested. One of my younger siblings asked if she had a Father Christmas. She said “no” so they replied “we have a chocolate Father Christmas you can have” and one or two other things. I definitely intended to get her into bed last night but I was a little disappointed that my brother kept on trying to argue his own point of view rather than mine.

The rest of the afternoon was spent choosing the music for the next few radio programmes. I almost finished choosing the music for three programmes but I ran aground on the last one because I need a plug-in for the music-editing program that I have on the laptop but I can’t remember which one it is.

While I was doing all of this, I had a message from the Covid-testing service. Apparently I’m negative, which is what I suspected anyway but I had to go through the process.

For tea I finished off most of the food that was here – there isn’t going to be all that much to take home for a change. And hopefully, if I do have my appointments on Thursday from now on, there will be even less.

Tonight I’m going to have an early night. I need to be up early for my journey back home. It’s going to be a long and tortuous journey home tomorrow, with all kinds of complications.

Wednesday 27th January 2021 – MEANWHILE AT CASTLE ANTHRAX …

… my blood count is down yet again. To 9.6 this time – not a dramatic drop so I’m still holding my own (although I’m glad that I’m not holding anyone else’s too).

They aren’t able to help me with the Corona Virus vaccination though – but there again that was something of a forlorn hope. They still haven’t finished injecting all of the staff, and the in-patients are next in the queue. I shall have to continue to persevere with whatever I can find in France.

As well as that, I’ve changed my date of visit to Thursday with effect from the next time. With it being on a Wednesday, I can’t travel up on the Tuesday because that’s my Welsh class. So I have to come up on the train on Monday, missing my radio work and lugging all of my Welsh paperwork with me too.

With the appointment on Wednesday, I can do my radio stuff on Monday and have my Welsh class on Tuesday morning, all in the comfort and privacy of my own home, travel up on the Wednesday and go home on the Saturday, saving the cost of a day’s accommodation and benefiting from a cheap weekend fare on the train on the way home.

That makes much more sense to me.

This morning I was in no rush to leave the bed. 09:30 was good enough for me today.

And having had my medication and then my breakfast (more toast on the hob element) I had a shower and then washed my clothes.

Later on I headed out to the hospital in the rain, rather intrepidly in view of the issues about my virus test for which I hadn’t had the results.

sint pieters brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric HallMy route, as usual, took me through the city centre and out down the Brusselsestraat past the old Sint Pieter’s Hospital.

The demolition there doesn’t look all that different from when I was here 4 weeks ago. They hardly seem to have advanced at all. At this rate it’s going to take them for ever to bring the building to the ground.

But it is a shame to see it like this. Built for the French community in Flanders, it was barely completed when the French community moved out to Louvain-le-Neuve and never had anything like the occupancy that was intended.

An important casualty of the Guerre Linguistic that has raged in the country between the Walloons and the Flemish for well over 100 years.

sint jakobs kerk leuven belgium Eric HallFrom the old hospital I continued on down the Brusselsestraat towards the Sint Jakobs Kerk – Saint Jacob’s Church and stuck my head inside the door.

For 6 months I lived in a room in a building just across the road and I never ever had the opportunity to go in to see it. A couple of times I saw people going to the door and on one occasion I was quick enough to join them, but the door would never open. It had been abandoned for years as it was falling down.

But over this last year or so they’ve started to renovate it and as I went past, I noticed that someone had left the door open. That was an opportunity not to be missed but I couldn’t go too far in, for fear of being observed by the workmen.

monseigneur van waeyenberghlaan leuven belgium Eric HallThe roadworks in the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan are still far deom being completed.

My route led me down there so that I could see the carnage. They have been working on relaying the drains for about 18 months at least, as far as I remember, and while they seem to have filled in all of the holes now, they are still nowhere near putting down the final road surface.

This is inconveniencing everyone in the neighbourhood. Higher up the street is the building that they renovated. And parked there as best as they can is a furniture remover and a furniture lift. And they can’t position themselves close enough to the building to pass the furniture upwards.

sint hubertusstraat leuven belgium Eric HallAnd if you think that the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan is in a mess, you should see the other direction, looking towards town.

This is the Sint Hubertusstraat and that’s even more messed up and muddy. It does make me wonder whether they are being paid by the hour or by the contract because there seems to be no incentive to hurry.

But turning my back on this end of town, I headed up the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan, past the furniture guys struggling with their equipment.

corner ploengang monseigneur van waeyenberghlaan leuven belgium Eric HallAlong the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan there are several small side streets, like this on to the right, which I think is the Ploengang.

They seem to be realigning the road junction here and that’s going to be interesting to see how that turns out, because straight ion down the hill is a service bus route when the road is in good condition. That road is going to make it difficult for the buses to negotiate.

Luckily I had my Covid test serial number with me, because the hospital receptionist presumably checked the national database and my number isn’t on it, which seems to indicate that I’m not a person of interest (at least, from that point of view) and I could have my treatment.

It was a rather indiscreet male nurse who saw me today to connect me up to my treatment. he told me, as I suspected, that there are a few of us undergoing this research as guinea pigs and we’ve all been here for a while. It seems that I applied to the University for treatment just at the right time when they were looking for guinea pigs, although he didn’t say that directly.

While I was at the hospital having the treatment, I attacked the pile of outstanding notes on the dictaphone.

There was an opera being broadcast or filmed or something and being overdubbed in English. We were doing the overdubbing and as it started under way we were still some way ahead but we hadn’t finished. At one point my brother brought me a huge mug of tea while I did some editing on the computer but he dropped the tea or the tea fell and it absolutely soaked that corner of the room in tea. He just stood there looking at this so I had to scuttle off and fetch a flannel and stuff like that to mop up the tea and clean that corner which was in a terrible state. He was still there looking at me and looking stupid so I asked him where was the recording of this certain aria. He didn’t know so I started to prepare to sing it myself in English to do the over-dubbing but I could see that he was in no mood to play the piano and I couldn’t play the piano but I could see that I was going to have to end up playing the piano and singing at the same time because I seemed to be the only person who was doing anything at that point.

Later on, I was on a bike, an old single-speed upright kind of thing. I would cycle everywhere on that but one day I decided that enough was enough and I decided that I would get myself a modern bike with derailleur gears and I could get about 10 times quicker than that. I ended up in Nantwich, out the other side in Henhull Lane (actually Welshman’s Lane) by the old Cottage Hospital there. As I turned into the yard there first of all came a boy whom I knew at school (what was he doing there, seeing as he is someone about whom I haven’t given a moment’s thought for over 50 years?) and another boy from school out jogging and he ran past. I had a good chat to the first boy about a few things and then I foolishly went in and told the guys in this bike shop that was looking for another bike. They only had a choice of about 4 or 5 and there was only 1 that was really my size. I apologised and said that there wasn’t really what I wanted here. He started on a rant about costs and so on. he showed me all of the wholesale prices and everything like that, how he wasn’t making much money on bikes and how he wasn’t here normally because he was off working elsewhere That wasn’t what I wanted to hear from a shopkeeper.

James Bond was on the loose later on driving down an Italian motorway on a motorbike and sidecar and there was someone on a motorbike pursuing him or at least keeping behind him, observing him. We were watching this from another car further behind. They were stuck in traffic working their way through this traffic queue. All of a sudden Bond seizes the opportunity, swerved his motorcycle around and brought it crashing down on the head of this guy who was following him. This guy picked himself up and ran off. Bond ran after him and we could hear sounds of fighting. Bond came back to our car and said “I killed the wrong man there. That was one of Blofeld’s men”. Not the enemy that he was expecting. We thought that if Blofeld’s men are now angry with us and if someone else is still behind us, the real villains, we’re pretty much blocked in here in this street in the mountains. There’s no way out from here. This road just leads to a town in the mountains. We can’t turn round and if we go on, we are going to be stuck. We really have no choice but to go on so off we set. Our car by this time was a dark blue Hillman Hunter.

Finally last night, I was with Liz Ayers. We had a car and caravan. We pulled into Hankelow Hall, or what I thought was Hankelow Hall in the dream. Who should be there but Marianne and a workman. They were going through the house looking at things. There was a huge fire burning with all kinds of stuff going on, stuff all over the place, loaves of bread, all that kind of thing. I was wondering what on earth was going on here. When I went in the builder came over to me and told me about a pile of work that needed doing on the house. he would give me a bill for it, all this kind of thing. In the end I said “no”. I told him to clear off. Marianne had ordered him and made the arrangements so he can clear off. I thought that when Marianne comes back I’ll have something to say about this. I started to tidy up a few things, put things away in rubbish bags. There were a couple of loaves on there, quite green. They had been there for a while. There was a pile of election leaflets from Guy Verhofstadt the MEP, tons of stuff like that. I was trying to sort it out. Liz came over with someone for there were crowds of people there too. She said that they were going to have a sleep on the beach. I said “what? Through the night? We have a caravan on the back of the car”. She said “no, we’ll watch a film about a Maternity Hospital attached to a University and the students took it over to run it”. She described the film and I said “oh I’ve seen that”. Anyway she went off. I kept on having to go back and to between rooms in this place. The quickest way was to go through the fire although the fire was roaring hot and there was tons of ash so the final time I decided that I won’t go that way, I’ll walk round which I did but there were all of these people hanging around there not doing very much at all. It made me wonder what was going on.

The treatment didn’t take long. The longest part was waiting for the doctor afterwards to come to see me. It was quite late when I was let out.

new post office brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric HallBack into town and back down the Brusselsestraat when I was interrupted by this office place here that I hadn’t noticed before.

It seems that while many countries are actively closing their Post Offices, Belgium is reopening them. This seems to be a parcels pick-up point – Belgium is having a lot of issues with handling the volume of mail order parcels at the moment with all of this internet shopping with the Covid issues.

Stopping off at Delhaize for more bread, I nipped home to dump my stuff and then went back out to meet Alison in the town.

We had a walk around and a chat and then she came back for a quick coffee.

Later on I had tea and now having written my notes, I’m off to bed. A leisurely day tomorrow and then on friday I’m off on my marathon journey back home.

Monday 25th January 2021 – ONE TRAIN …

gec alsthom regiolis gare de Granville railway station Manche Normandy France Eric Hall… per day to Paris in a pandemic, that I can understand. But just WHY does it have to be at 05:55?.

And in news that will come as something of a shock to regular readers of this rubbish (because it cane as quite a shock to me), not only did I beat the third alarm this morning, I was actually out of bed and leaping up and down (but not actually waving St Cecilia’s knickers in the air) even before the FIRST alarm went off.

During what there was of the night, I’d even managed to go off on a voyage too.

I hadn’t seen Caliburn for ages and then I realised that he was in the garage being serviced and I hadn’t been to pick him up since I’d been back from holiday so I was debating whether or not to go round – and suddenly I was there as if fate had already decided for me. I backed him out of the garage where he was being serviced and went to pay the bill but they hadn’t finished putting the wheels on. A brake hub had been stuck inside a wheel and they had to prize it out. That meant doing some grinding down and filing. They showed me what they had done. They went to fit the wheel back on but one of the wheel nuts was cross-threaded so they had to go off and find another one and I had to wait. In the meantime it was lunchtime and I’d gone into the waiting room with them. There was a big bag of chips that they were handing out between themselves. Someone opened a packet of pasta but it was so full that he went outside to tip some away into a bin which I thought was a strange thing to do. They were all organising themselves like this while I was waiting for Caliburn to be ready.

What this goes to prove is that many of my usual difficulties in rising from my bed in the morning are not actually connected with anything physical, and this is quite bewildering.

But there I was, up and about and starting on my household chores as the first alarm went off.

:, didn’t take me long to do what I had to do, and to make a flask of coffee in the Adventure Canada water bottle that I was given on The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour.

Having done the necessary, I hit the streets and headed for town, fighting the howling gale all the way.

trawler leaving port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAs it happened, I wasn’t the only one who was up and about that early either.

The harbour gates must have only just opened because there was a whole stream of fishing vessels heading out to sea.

And while I’m on the subject, regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I mentioned on Friday that I was surprised to see all of the fishing boats in port and not out at sea.

There was a very good reason for that, as I subsequently found out and forgot to mention. It seems that on Friday all of the fishermen had a meeting in town to discuss the next steps in the escalation of the fishing dispute with the Channel Islands.

If it comes to a showdown with the British Government and the British Government decides to employ its fleet of … errr … four gunboats to protect its territorial waters, then knowing French fishermen as I do (after all I live in a town full of them), my money will be firmly on the fishermen.

It wasn’t easy to make my way to the station because most of the street lights had been switched off and we were in the pitch-black. I just encountered a couple of council workmen on my way out there.

The train wasn’t in – mainly because I was there by 05:30, but it soon pulled in and we could board it. It was a full-length train of two units coupled together, but we didn’t have reserved seats. I chose a place right at the front – less distance to travel at the other end.

The weather had been very mild in Granville and has been for the last while. But once we headed inland towards Paris it changed quite rapidly.

snow on railway station platform flers Normandy France Eric HallWe started to pick up the snow round about Villedieu-les-Poeles and the further along the route, like here for example, at Flers, the snow was quite heavy and had stuck to the ground.

Much to my surprise, despite the ridiculously early start, I didn’t crash out for a minute but managed to stay awake for the whole of the journey to Paris, reading a report of the discovery of a mass grave on the outskirts of Weymouth containing 52 decapitated Norsemen from the late 10th Century.

And as for my coffee – I tried some at about 07:30, just about three hours after I had made it. And it was far, far too hot to drink. That was quite unexpected.

gec alsthom regiolis paris gare montparnasse France Eric HallBang on time – 09:14 – we pulled into the Gare Montparnasse and I could take a photo of the unit on which I travelled – the one on the left. The photo that I had taken earlier was of the unit at the other end of the train.

Even though the rush hour wasn’t quite over, the Paris Metro was comparatively quiet. It was a quite rapid trip to Paris Gare du Nord and I was surprised about how empty the place was. I could even find a seat.

The effects of the virus and the amount of working from home has calmed down the amount of commuters quite considerably.

TGV Reseau Duplex gare de lille flandres France Eric HallThere wasn’t a great deal of time for my connection to Lille As I walked into the station they were just allowing the passengers to board. I didn’t even have time to photograph it – that had to wait until we arrived at Lille Flandres Railway Station.

The train was another double-decker TGV Reseau Duplex – two units again (ours was the left-hand one) and it wasn’t all that busy either. I could spread out a little and sample my coffee yet again. And after 6 hours in the flask it was still too hot.

Plenty of time for a change in Lille so having had a good clamber about on an overhead walkway to take my photograph, I could have a pleasant if cold walk down the road to Lille Europe Railway Station.

TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt gare du midi brussels belgium Eric HallThe train was actually in the station when I arrived so I had to wait until I arrived at Brussels-Midi until i could photograph it.

But it was a pretty busy train without many spare seats. Luckily I had no neighbour so I could spread out and I even managed to doze off for 10 minutes or so. And the coffee had cooled down enough for me to be able to sip it. Not gulp it – just sip it.

And now I can call myself one of the statistics on the Belgian Government’s list of Covid-testees.

When we arrived at Bruxelles-Midi we had to pass through a checkpoint and show our papers. It’s a good job that I had prepared my Travel request. And I was directed to the Covid-testing point outside the station.

And having a Q-tip shoved up my nose is not a very pleasant sensation at all.

Another task I had to perform was to post off the Certificat de Vie that I had signed by the French police the other day to prove that I’m still alive. The Tour de Midi – the headquarters of the Belgian pension service is just across the road from the station.

sncb class 18 electric locomotive gare de leuven railway station belgium Eric HallBack in the station again I had to run (as best as I could) for my train as it was just coming into the station.

It’s one of the Oostende-Welkenraedt trains and these are quite comfortable so I didn’t want to miss it if I could help it.

By now the coffee was cool enough so I could actually drink it so I had a nice comfortable ride to Leuven and a pleasant walk down to my hotel room.

Here, I sorted myself out and had a little sit down for a while to recover my strength. And having done that, I headed out for the shops.

house renovation dekenstraat leuven belgium Eric HallDown at the end of the road here I went past the house renovation that we have seen before.

It’s now been about three months since they’ve been doing the facade of the building, to my certain knowledge and I really don’t understand why this sort of thing takes so long.

The bill at the Carrefour was quite expensive, but then again food is much more expensive in Belgium than it is in France. And I was glad to be back in my room with my food. I was ready for something to eat

Writing out my notes took longer than it might have done, due to the fact that I … errr … had a little repose. But now I’m off to bed. Welsh lessons in the morning so I need to be my best.

And after the very long day that I’ve had, I’m ready for bed too.

Friday 22nd January 2021 – JUST TO PROVE …

… that Ireland doesn’t have a monopoly on this sort of thing, I thought that you might be interested in a telephone conversation that I had this morning

“Hello Mr Hall. This is the hospital at Leuven”
“Hello”
“You have your appointment with us on Wednesday afternoon”
“That’s correct”
“Well there has been an important change. Before you come to the hospital on Wednesday you need to have a Covid test on Monday or Tuesday”
“No problem. Where can I go for that?”
“Well I don’t know. I don’t know how the system works in France”.
“But I’ll be in Belgium from Monday afternoon”
“Then you need to be tested in Belgium”
“Where can I go for a test in Belgium?”
“Wait a moment”
lengthy pause
“You can have an appointment here on Tuesday afternoon at 14:30”
“At the hospital?”
“Yes”
“So if I can have an appointment at the hospital on Tuesday afternoon, why can’t I have one on Wednesday prior to my appointment?”
“Because you can’t come to the hospital without having had a test”
“But the test is at the hospital?”
“Yes”
“So I can come to the hospital without a test in order to have the test?”
“Yes”
“So why can’t I do that on Wednesday?”
“Because you can’t come to the hospital without having a test”.

And I promise you – I am not making this up.

Mind you it’s a good thing that the hospital did ring me because that was what awoke me. I’d slept through all of the alarms and it was now 09:45. So that was another morning wasted and I’m becoming quite fed up of this. It serves me right for not going to bed until late.

After the medication I had a listen to the dictaphone.

There had been some kind of issue with the Ranger in Canada. I was working on it but I was making no progress at all and no-one seemed to be giving me very much of a hand. I was pretty much resigned to being without the Ranger for quite some time. I’d been given a rail warrant to go off on the train to fetch some parts but I was in no way ready to do that so I didn’t use the warrant. One of the daughters of my niece came back with a big fire extinguisher thing. Apparently it used to be full of old tar but she had gone and bought some paint for my Ranger. She said that her dad was unhappy about it being put in that container but she’d done it all the same. I was in pyjamas – I’d been in pyjamas all week and it was time for me to go home so I said to my niece “I’ll let you have these pyjamas back”. She replied “no, no, keep wearing them”. I said “I’ll let you have them back on Sunday when I return home” so that was fine. Then her husband turned up. “That railway warrant that you didn’t use – you’ll have to see your sister’s husband about that. It came from him”. I replied “I’ll sort it all out. It’s not a problem”. I noticed in his work bag – he had a huge work bag/holdall kind of thing that there was all kinds of food in it and there was food in other places. I thought that this place was becoming untidy now. I wouldn’t leave food lying around like that, not even me. Things need to be tidied up around here because it’s really in a mess. I asked about the paint – what paint they had bought. He said that it was a dark green but it should have been red. I replied “no, it should have been yellow like Caliburn if it was going to be anything”. He said that he had to go somewhere to see someone about the Sky cards so I asked “may I come with you for the drive?”. So we agreed on that. he took the Sky cards out of the machine to read the passwords and off we set. At a certain point someone came haring down the driveway towards the road in an old green and white Consul Mk II. For some unknown reason I had it in my mind that it was a Cortina. They came down there and just got to the end and stopped so I had a smile. He asked what was the matter. I replied “nothing really. I was just having a smile at that car”.

As well as the phone call from the hospital, I made several other ‘phone calls today, all of which were to do with my potential Covid vaccination.

Having been given a prescription by the doctor and also at the same time a letter of introduction listing my illness and other health issues, I rang up the Covid centre at St-Lô. I explained that with being a foreigner with a private health insurance I’m not registered with the Sécurité Sociale and as it’s they who are dealing with the Covid injections, I’m afraid that I’ll slip through the cracks and be missed.

She replied, after presumably consulting a few colleagues, that if I have a prescription and a doctor’s letter I would be added to the list but at the moment there aren’t too many vaccines here in the département. We aren’t a high-risk area.

The next batch of vaccines is due to arrive on 8th February so if I ring back then, they will add me onto the list.

While I was speaking to them I also had the idea that maybe it might just be a good idea to be registered with the Sécurité Sociale here even if I’m not liable to be covered by anything that they can offer me.

Having made a few false calls (because it’s not clear to whom you need to contact) I eventually managed to speak to someone who seemed to know what he was talking about. And the net result of this that if I send them a pile of information INCLUDING proof of my own private health insurance, they will register me into the system.

So that’s some good news anyway, although I’m not expecting it to be a speedy solution. The straightforward appointment at St-Lô seems to be the best. But I’m not going to the shops tomorrow seeing as I’m off on my travels on Monday, so I’ll deal with this form them and there.

Apart from that, the rest of the day, such as it was, has been spent dealing with the siege of the Chateau de Chalus and the death of Richard the Lionheart. And I’m not making very much progress.

Although there was no pause for breakfast, there was still a pause for lunch and more of my nice bread.

bernie sanders mittens rubble from gas pipe laying Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd there was the pause of course for the afternoon walk around the cliffs.

First stop was just outside the door to see how they were getting on with the relaying of the gas pipes in the Rue St Michel. But I don’t have to worry about that any more these days as there is an eminently qualified inspector on the job as you can see if you enlarge the photo.

So leaving him to carry on with his good work, I cleared off down the path which was now starting to dry out somewhat.

storm at sea english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut it’s not going to remain like that for long, I reckon.

As you can see out there in the distance over the sea there’s a storm cloud and a pile of heavy rainfall and the wind is blowing it in our direction. It won’t be long before we have that lot dropping on our heads.

So not wishing to hang about any and wait for it, I headed off across the lawn and the car park to see what was going on across the bay. And today, there was nothing to see. A few clouds but the sun was quite bright and we weren’t having any special effects on the water.

rue du port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallThe huge puddle in the path on the southern side of the headland had receded somewhat so it wasn’t as awkward as it was to pass by there yesterday. And as there was nothing going on at the chantier navale I turned my attention to the port.

There hadn’t been any fishing boats out at sea this afternoon as far as I could see, so I imagined that they were all in harbour. There were certainly plenty of them in there. It seems that they haven’t resolved this dispute with the Channel Islands yet.

Nothing else of note so I turned my attention to the mug of hot coffee that was waiting for me back at home.

The hour on the guitar passed quickly enough and after all of this time I’ve suddenly found myself able to play the bass again with 2 fingers like I used to back in the early and mid-70s. Having struggled along playing with just one finger (I never ever used a plectrum on the bass) since I started to play again a couple of years ago, it came back just like that.

I need to work on the timing because my synchronisation seems to be out on one or two tracks, but I’m sure that it will come. But I can’t sing and play with two fingers – well, not yet anyway. I’m working on that.

Tea was taco rolls with the rest of the stuffing, and then a ‘phone call from Rosemary to finish off the evening.

Now that my notes are written up, I’m off to bed. Last night was a disaster and I need to do much better than this, especially as as I have a 04:30 alarm call on Monday morning.

What a way to start the week, hey?