Tag Archives: demolition

Thursday 14th October 2021 – IT’S BEEN ONE …

…of those days when very little seemed to go right today.

Such things as having yet another bad night’s sleep, awakening bolt-upright for no good reason at 06:00 exactly, that sort of thing.

And despite having turned on the heating in the room last night, it was flaming cold as well.

The way that I leapt out of bed was hardly “with alacrity” this morning. I waited around for a few minutes for the room to stop spinning before I left my stinking pit.

After the medication I checked my mails and messages, had my breakfast and then went for a shower. And despite having turned up the heating to “full”, it was still cold and I didn’t enjoy the shower at all.

There had been a couple of voyages on the dictaphone during the night too. I was out looking at property or trying to find somewhere last night for me and my cars but there was nothing suitable. Nowhere had any land – anything with any land was immediately bought, demolished and built on and you couldn’t find a thing. The Estate Agent wasn’t very helpful either. He was telling me that that was what happens and the only thing to do was to keep on looking, put my name of a few properties and see what happens. He asked me the usual questions – what kind of place did I want? Did it need to be improved? And so on. He asked how many cars I had and he nearly died when I said “12”.

There was also something about our friend in Virlet last night, whoever “our friend in Virlet” might be. It was going dark and I was working round the side of the barn when someone came round and they weren’t expecting to see me. They were totally surprised that I was there. They asked where was the handle – the broken handle out of the fork that I had taken out yesterday that I’d put down somewhere? I replied “I gave the fork and the handle back to you. Where did you put it?”. He couldn’t remember where and that was all that I remember.

Having made my sandwiches I headed off through town towards the hospital, taking a few photos on the way.

balls and glory tiensestraat leuven belgium Eric Hall photo October 2021Some of the photos didn’t turn out, for a reason that I haven’t understood.

But of the ones that did, this is a shop and restaurant in the Tiensestraat that sells hand-crafted meatballs. And I’m not sure exactly how much demand there might be for hand-crafted meatballs but they have been here for a while so they must be doing some good somehow.

The shop is called “Balls and Glory” but if you ask me, there isn’t much glory in making hand-crafted meatballs. To me, it sounds like it’s all … well, quite.

olleke bolleke sweet shop tiensestraat leuven belgium Eric Hall photo October 2021A little further on down the road is another shop with a bizarre name.

Olleke Bolleke is a sweet shop that sells by the 100 grammes these gelatine-laden sweets that are bad for the teeth. I first encountered one of these shops in Brugge in the 1970s and the chain seems to be going from strength to strength.

As it happens, I’ve never actually been in one but I don’t think that there’s very much olleke being sold in there . It’s probably all … well, quite.

There wasn’t all that much happening in the town centre today. The exhibition for the cycle race has been cleared away and there’s nothing much as yet been put in its place.

pavilion sint pieters hospital brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric Hall photo October 2021The exhibition has even gone from the site of the Sint Pieter’s Hospital.

The marquee or pergola or whatever it is is looking very sad right now with nothing going on. Just a pile of benches and a few tables that aren’t serving any useful purpose.

But imagine that in the UK. You would have to chain the furniture down to the floor and even so, it would still go missing. Life is so much calmer here in Europe.

But the palm trees will need to go missing soon because it won’t be long before we start to have the frosts and I can’t see them doing very well over the winter if they are left out there.

building work demolition work sint pieters brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric Hall photo October 2021Further along the Brusselsestraat work is continuing apace.

Not on the old medieval tower though, that’s still covered in scaffolding and roofing sheets to protect it from damage while the demolition continues.

But you can tell by the rest of the machinery that they are still in there demolishing that other building. I’d have shown you how that was proceeding, except that the photo didn’t turn out.

Several others didn’t turn out either, as I discovered later, and I’ve no idea why.

building work kapucijnenvoer leuven belgium Eric Hall photo October 2021usually I leave the photos of the building work in the kapucijnenvoer until on the way home but as I’m not coming straight home this evening, I went that way towards the hospital.

The building that backs onto the Zongang is coming on in leaps and bounds which is quite a surprise for Belgium and it can’t be long now before they think about finding some occupants for it.

It’s rather tough though for the occupants of that nice little house in the Zongang who now have this new building blocking out all their light.

There’s another building site in the Kapucijnenvoer as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, but the photo of that was one that didn’t turn out.

The climb up the hill to the hospital was a little better than it had been last time. I managed to push 50 yards on the distance that I made last time before I needed to stop for breath.

At the hospital I had a CT scan of my chest – and then I had to wait. “I’m sorry that you had to wait so long” said the nurse. “I had to send for a doctor to look at the images”. I don’t like the sound of that very much.

After a wait around I had to go for another test to measure the capacity of my lungs – breathing in and out of a long tube.

Finally I could go round to the Oncology department for my usual treatment. I arrived there at 13:40 for my treatment that was timed for 14:00, and I was finally seen at 14:45. I’ve no idea what was happening today that was making them run so late.

It was 17.30 before the doctor came to see me too but at least this time it was a doctor who was very concerned and very interested – not like the one that I had a couple of times ago.

My blood count has seen a dramatic rise – to 9.7 and I’ve no idea why. He went through my other results too and explained them to me. Apparently there wasn’t much out of order with my breathing and my lungs in the way in which they are functioning.

As a result he’s going to try to make an appointment with a cardiologist for me who will hopefully probe my case a little further. I didn’t tell him that my doctor at home is also on the case. 2 opinions are better than one.

This all finished by me being hours late for everything so I waited at the hospital for Alison to come there and pick me up. We went round to her house, having to go back to the hospital to pick up the medication that I had forgotten.

Alison had bought some vegan sausages so while I cooked them, she went to the fritkot for some chips. And it was a lovely tea too.

Afterwards we had a lengthy chat until I began to go to sleep so she kindly ran me home. Now I’m off to bed for a good lie in. No alarm in the morning – I’m going to sleep until I wake up

Wednesday 22nd September 2021 – JUST FOR A CHANGE …

… I’ve actually had a good day today. Not that I’ve done very much in the way of work, but I didn’t crash out. And any day when I don’t crash out is a good day today.

Not that going to bed early helped much, because, as you might expect, I was awake again at 05:20. It’s rather pointless, isn’t it?

After the medication I came back in here to listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night. It started off with something somewhere about me having a twin VHS recorder and I was trying to copy films from one tape to another, but it was so long since I’d done it that I couldn’t remember and I wasn’t doing very well at this. I’d tried 1 or 2 but it didn’t seem to work so I was having to go away and sit and think about how I used to do it and try to do it again. I can’t remember much more than that.

Later on I was in Brussels and suddenly had a whim to go down to the Auvergne so I climbed into Caliburn and set off. It was rush hour of course so fighting my way around the ring road was something of a nightmare with all kinds of people doing all kinds of crazy things. Eventually I arrived. I don’t remember the journey and I don’t remember arriving but the next thing that I remember was that I was sitting in what I suppose was my living room on some comfy seat on castors that you could move around with your feet. There was a big roaring fire and Rosemary was there who had presumably lit the fire for me. Later on – because I dictated the first part and then afterwards stepped right back into the place where I left off, AGAIN! – there were 2 girls there and I had to show them how to use the bathroom and everything. I looked outside and it was snowing so I went to send a text to say that it was snowing but then I thought to myself that this can’t be real – in a dream as well! – because it was August. It was getting light so Rosemary who had now transformed herself into that woman whom I knew in Stockport wondered if she should make us all a cup of tea. I thought that that was a great idea. As it became light there was a couple of dogs flying around into the area and they met up with each other and started to fight.

This was actually one of the most realistic voyages that I have had and when I awoke I was all for immediately leaping into Caliburn and leaving Brussels for the south.

This morning I had a little relax and took care of a few personal things that needed attention, and then just as I was about to start work, Rosemary rang – by pure coincidence – and we had another one of our marathon chats that went on for ever – well, until lunch time actually.

After lunch I had a shower, set the washing machine off and then headed off to the physiotherapist

chausiaise buddy m port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that yesterday we discussed the two cranes on the quayside and how one of them seems to have developed some nomadic tendencies of late.

It’s been off on its travels too since we last saw it. It’s now found a place on the quayside in between Chausiaise, the Ile de Chausey ferry, and Buddy M, the trawler that came over from Ireland the other day for a reason that I have yet to discover.

There’s plenty of traffic on the quayside too and I wonder why that is. Usually there’s no big issue about parking in the public car parks once the tourists have gone home and I’ve no heard of any big event going on in the town today.

trimming vegetation Boulevard des 2E et 202E de Ligne Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021On my way downhill in the Boulevard des 2E et 202E de Ligne on my way towards the Rue des Juifs, I noticed that at last they have started to trim the vegetation.

Usually, I’m all in favour of letting the vegetation grow as much as it likes without doing too much trimming but regular readers of this rubbish will have noticed from some of the blurrings on some of the photos, that the vegetation has grown so high that it’s been getting in the way of my photos and I’m not tall enough to photograph over it.

So I’m hoping that clearing the vegetation will improve my view and improve the quality of my photos. and they need all of the improvement in quality that they can get.

“And who are the 2E et 202E de Ligne?” I hear you ask. The answer is that the Second and Two Hundred and Second Regiments of the Line were the regiments that were stationed in the barracks here where I now live.

From the town centre I pushed on up the hill towards the physiotherapist, stopping more times than I would like or care to admit, in order to catch my breath.

building due for demolition rue couraye Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021As I came up to near the top, I stopped to have a look at what was happening to this building.

It used to be a hairdresser’s with apartments over the top but one day about a year or so ago an announcement went up in the window Fermé à cause de péril imminent – “closed on account of an immediate danger”.

A short while later I managed to wangle a view of the Order from the Préfet. The building was said to be in a dangerous, insalubrious condition with a list of faults in the apartments as long as your arm. In view of that, it was no surprise that they obtained an Order for eviction and closing of the premises.

notice of impending demolition rue couraye Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021The building went up for sale a while back, but today I observed that there was a sign affixed to the window.

It seems that the building has now been sold and the new owners obtained planning permission 2 weeks ago to demolish the existing building and replace it with a building of 8 apartments with commercial premises on the ground floor.

This will be another worksite that we shall follow and see how things develop, or, in this case, how they redevelop.

At the physiotherapist he put me through my paces and I actually went for 2:08 in the cross trainer thing before I had to stop for breath. That’s about 20 seconds more than my previous best.

But the sad thing is that the cross trainer is not the street on which you walk. That’s an entirely different proposition.

On my way home I called in at the Carrefour to buy an energy drink to propel me up the hill on the way back. It was quite warm and sweaty and the drink was cold so that was even better.

cherry picker crane port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021On the way back, I stopped on several occasions to catch my breath.

One of them was at the viewpoint overlooking the loading bay. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall seeing a cherry picker down there next to the crane that’s up at that end. It’s still there today, although it’s no clear what has been going on or what it has been doing.

The dark blue container by the crane is one that belongs on Mormandy Trader, by the way. She carries a few of them when she roams about, but on her last trip here (which was early Monday morning, by the way), she must have been fully loaded with other stuff.

windsurfers kayakers chateau de la crête baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021Further up, I had another stop for breath and a sit-down to attack my drink and cool off.

Over in the distance I could see that the sailing school was in action again this afternoon but to my surprise, they aren’t yachts out there but windsurfers.

They must do a little of everything there, because there are a couple of kayakers too whom I could see.

Incidentally, they are in the artificial lagoon there. There’s a wall that traps some of the sea when the tide goes out so that the people on the beach don’t have to walk miles to the water when the tide is out.

setting up marquee rue du port Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021Regular readers of this rubbish will also recall that on Saturday I talked about the chicane in the Rue du Port.

As I walked back up the hill towards home I noticed that they now seem to be erecting a marquee down there now, and part of the car park at the Fish Processing Plant is cordoned off too.

So it looks as if maybe this weekend there is going to be an event taking place in the town, so I’ll have to prime myself for another walk.

It must be something to do with the Fish Processing Plant, I reckon, because there must be 100 places where they could set up a large marquee without having to interrupt all of the traffic in the Rue du Port.

The walk back up the final 100 metres of the hill wasn’t as bad as I was fearing although it would have been even better had I not been almost squidged by a car full of Bretons coming the wrong way down a one-way street.

peche a pied beach place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021Before I went back to my apartment I went to see how they were getting on with the peche à pied seeing as by now the tide was miles out

Sure enough, there were quite a few people scavenging around on the rocks down there this afternoon taking advantage of the very low tide and hoping to see what they can find.

One or two people too down at the water’s edge, although I couldn’t tell if they were scavenging for shellfish or paddling in the water. The afternoon was quite nice right now, but it wasn’t that nice. Not for me, anyway.

beach plat gousset Granville donville les bains Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021Of course it goes without saying that I went to have a look down on the beach.

Plenty of beach to be on, but surprisingly apart from the scavengers doing the pêche à pied, there weren’t too many other people there. It’s a Wednesday afternoon and the schools are closed so I would have thought that there would have been many more people down there making the most of our Indian Summer.

And I was correct about the disappearance of the beach cabins on the Plat Gousset. They were taken away yesterday morning, apparently. That probably means that the diving platform out at the Plat Gousset has gone too.

Back here in the apartment I hung out the washing and then made the dough for my next batch of fruit bread because I had the last slice this morning. And almost immediately that I finished, a neighbour came to see me and I had to go to talk to him for about 45 minutes.

After I came back there was just enough time to update a couple of earlier journal entries with the missing dream details before it was time to bake the bread.

While it was at it I stuck some potatoes and the last slice of pie in there, and then blanched the leeks that I’d bought on Monday ready for freezing.

Tea was pie with potatoes, veg, (leeks of course included) and gravy. It was very nice too.

And now that my delicious meal is over and my notes are written, it’s time for bed. Later than I was hoping. I have a whole day at home tomorrow so I’m expecting something to pop up at the last minute to disturb me.

Wednesday 23rd June 2021 – REGULAR READERS …

… of this rubbish will recall that another recurring theme that runs through these pages with monotonous regularity is the shameful state of the medieval city walls here.

As you know, there was an initiate 2 years ago to restore part of them in the Rue des Juifs and they did a good job but while they were doing that, more and more of the city walls were being cordoned off as being unsafe for the general public.

more city walls closed to public place du marche aux chevaux Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallA year or two ago they cordoned off part of the city walls in the Place du Marché Aux Chevaux and as I went past there today, they had closed off yet more of it by order of the mayor.

Much as I despise tourists … “surely not! Perish the thought!” – ed … there’s no doubt that they bring a lot of money into the town and help provide all of the activities and amenities that we have here. One of the things that they come to see is the medieval walled city, but at this rate there won’t be much of a walled city left.

The shame about this is that the Council seems to be showing not the slightest sense of urgency of dealing with this issue and the city walls are crumbling all around them. There’s history going back 600 years and they have a duty to protect it, not to let it rot away like this.

stairs removed to square potel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallRegular readers saw the other day that in the Square Potel we saw a mini-differ that had brought down the condemned staircase that led down from the city walls and I mentioned that it was about time that something was done to make all of this area safe too.

But by the looks of things, the digger has cleared off too. The stairs are down and the ground underneath has been tidied but that looks as if it’s going to be our lot for the near future.

But it really is appalling, all of this. There was a campaign, as I have mentioned previously, when the previous mayor was in office to denounce her for the state that the place was getting into. But now there’s a new mayor, I wonder what the people who ran this campaign are saying now.

Today has been something of a depressing day, in case you haven’t already guessed from my first couple of paragraphs.

As usual, I was out of bed bang on the first alarm at 06:00 even though I didn’t feel like it, not having gone to bed until 00:30 this morning.

First task after my medication was to deal with some outstanding correspondence that has built up just recently. And as the regular readers of this rubbish have stopped writing to me, there wasn’t anything to send to them. But a couple of the mails were really quite important and we’ll see how they develop.

Then for a few hours I’ve been musicking. As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I’ve been digitalising my record collection and today while searching around I came across some more stuff that relates to albums that I own so I was working on that.

Another thing that I did was to record a cassette tape onto the dictaphone to see how that would work. And that, dear reader, was a dismal failure. The sound levels are all over the place and had “clipped” so lowering the recording level after the event was no good. It all ended up filed under CS.

There are a couple of dictaphones around here so I’m going to see if I can find one with a manual recording level rather than an automatic level, and see what good that might do. I’m not beaten yet. Ohhh no!

The rest of the morning was spent dealing with the photos from August 2019 and I’m now back in Montana on my way to Winnipeg. And just as I was about to back up my work and go to lunch we had a power cut and it wiped it all out.

After lunch I started to try to restore everything and by the time that it was walkies I was a long way from finishing it.

fishing boat yacht ile de chausey baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOff I trotted into the wild blue yonder and down to the wall to look out to sea to see what was going on out there today.

Out there in the Bay of Granville there’s some activity going on. Out there today we have a fishing boat that I don’t actually think is fishing right now. It looks as if it’s heading back into harbour.

Behind it is some kind of yacht, right out near the Ile de Chausey. It’s far too far away for me to be able to read its name and head-on to the camera like she is right now, I can’t actually pick up any clues from her hull lay-out either.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhile I was here, I had a look down onto the beach to see if there was anything exciting happening.

Again, there isn’t all that much beach to be on but nevertheless, there are a couple of ^people down there sitting around on a rock. And rather them than me because it’s not exactly what I would call a warm summer day. Far from it in fact.

And you are probably noticing that today’s photo of the beach is taken frol a different perspective from the usual photographs. Instead of going around the headland this afternoon, I’ve gone off for walk around what remains of the city walls that hasn’t crumbled away.

objects swimming in water plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOut there near to the Plat Gousset there was something really strange going on this afternoon.

Whatever they are supposed to be, I really have no idea but they are animate objects swimming against the tide and current. They might be humans, they might be mammals or anything at all but I really can’t identify them well enough.

But here’s something interesting. It’s down this path that I used to go running back in the good old days. And as there was no-one around, I actually did break into a run. I only covered about 100 metres which is nothing like enough or anything like as much as I used to do, but it was a start and it astonished me that I could even run that much after what I’ve been through.

lifeguard watching man entering water by diving platform plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere’s a viewpoint along the path where I can stop and look out over the Plat Gousset to se what’s going on down there.

And despite it being a wintry day, nothing like summer at all, we actually have a lifeguard on duty there this afternoon, presumably with thermal blankets and mugs of hot soup and other artefacts and devices for treating frostbite.

There’s a guy down there who’s going off to test the water, but I imagine that he’s pretty safe. He’s not actually dressed for going swimming.

And in this photo you can see that the diving platform has been erected on top of the concrete pillar.

people swimming in water plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThat guy might not have been dressed for swimming but these two people are, and don’t they know it?

There’s a couple down there in the water cavorting about and they are certainly braver men than I am, Gungha Din because not even Kate Bush and Jenny Agutter in skimpy bikinis would entice me into the water this afternoon in weather like we are having right now.

For a few minutes, I stood there and watched them fooling around and then I wandered off down the path to carry on with the rest of my walk. There were too many people about for me to break into a run. I don’t want to show myself up. I can do that without breaking into a run

seagull chick flapping its wings rue des juifs Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhen I reached the Square Maurice Marland there were still too many people around for me to start running, so I walked over to the edge of the path where I can look at the seagull chicks on the roofs of the houses in the Rue des Juifs.

And it looks as if there are plenty of things happening right now. A few of them were flapping their wings and taking their first steps towards some kind of flight, like this one here and his sibling who were really making a valiant attempt to get off the ground.

It won’t be long until this new generation of seagulls will be flying around the town. And as an aside, any visitor to Granville is advised to bring a hat. The seagulls have an accuracy that puts Bomber Command to shame.

digger and lorry rue lecarpentier Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOut of the Square Maurice Marland I found myself in the Rue Lecarpentier.

There’s some excitement going on there today as well because we have a lorry and a digger. They aren’t actually doing anything except blocking the street, because this is a cul-de-sac for vehicles and those stuck down at the bottom end were I am can’t move away until the lorry clears off.

Incidentally, there’s an interesting story told about one of the houses here. It’s actually facing into the street but it’s been turned round in effect so that the front entrance is through the garden at the back, off the Rue Notre Dame.

The story is that the owner of the house had an argument with the descendants of the person after whom the street is named, so he changed the layout of his house round so that its address was no longer “Rue Lecarpentier” but “Rue Notre Dame”.

thora normandy trader port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that the other day, the swimming pool on the quayside suggested to me that Normandy Trader would be in port pretty soon.

Well, I wasn’t wrong, was I? She seems to have come in on the morning tide and brought her friend Thora with her as well.

What with all of the changes that have been going on as a result of Brexit, and one or two as a result of Covid, we have had weeks when we haven’t even seen one of the little Channel Island freighters, never mind both of them. and so we really are lucky to see both of them in port together like this.

thora port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallThe boat that’s underneath the loading crane is Thora.

She was built in the Faroe islands in 1975 and was the fifth of the ferry boats ordered by the Shetland Islands Council when they began to run the ferries between the mainland of Shetland and the outlying islands.

She was one of the two ships that operated the ferry service across Yell Sound but that was a route that was only really busy in the summer so for much of the time she was either laid up or else operated as the relief vessel for the other runs.

She was laid up in 2006 when a new ship arrived to relieve her.

She first appeared here two or three years ago and looked quite smart at the time but the sea and the sinds that we have around here have given her quite a battering.

She’s used occasionally as a car ferry and regular readers of this rubbish will have seen cars lifted off her deck by the crane.

normandy trader port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallThe ship to the right is the Normandy Trader She’s a converted landing craft – an ex-military machine apparently, designed for transporting tanks and that kind of thing.

And apart from the fact that she’s 27 metres long, I’ve not been able to find out very much else about her.

But you can see the swimming pool. That was what gave the game away. I know that she has the contract with a certain manufacturer for moving the swimming pools to their new clients in the Channel Islands, so when I saw one on the quayside on returning from Leuven, I guessed that the boat will be in port quite soon.

After all, they aren’t going to leave them lying around for too long.

patrol boat baie de mont st michel port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd while I was watching the two little freighters, there was some activity going on close inshore in the Baie de Mont St Michel.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that the other day we saw an official-looking boat passing by the entrance to the harbour towing a little boat behind her. And here she is again, or at least, one very much like her.

There’s no possibility of reading her name from here which is a shame. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we have seen one boat very much like her, Les Epiettes when we were on the Ile de Chausey last year and they are some kind of patrol boat. Bit I’ve no idea what they are supposed to be patrolling.

fishing boats fish processing plant port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallThey won’t be patrolling the fisheries right now because by the looks of things the boats are coming in with their catch.

There are quite a few boats down there today, and if you look at the back of the queue you’ll see the boat that we saw as we set out on our journey. I was right when I said that she seemed to be on her way into port.

You can see the layout of the wharf here. The bigger loads of seafood are lifted up my the little cranes that you can see here and are whisked away by fork-lift truck into the plant for processing.

But you’ll notice the ramp that goes down and underneath where the people are working. Several of the smaller boats are chartered by fish shops, restaurants and the like. Their vehicles can drive down there underneath and the crew of “their” boats can pass the catch to them to be taken away

fishing boats baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallNot all of the fishing boats are in by the look of things.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall the activity that has been taking place in the Baie de Mont St Michel. We have another two boats out there fishing even as we speak I don’t know who they are though unfortunately.

Anyway, I’ve done enough right now so I’m heading off home for a hot coffee and to carry on with recovering some of the stuff from when the power went. I never had this problem with laptops.

By 18:00 I’d done all that I could so I had a play with the bass guitar, writing out the notes for one of the songs that I need to learn. This is going to be a very long series of sessions

Tea was a curry from the freezer followed by more apple pie, which really is good. And now I’m off to bed. Shopping tomorrow and there’s quite a list. I need to organise myself for that. I wonder how I’ll get on up the hill?

Friday 21st May 2021 – THIS IS THE VIEW …

view from window gasthuisberg university hospital Leuven Belgium Eric Hall… from my window this evening.

And I bet that you are wondering where I am and why I’m not in my usual little room in the Dekenstraat. Well, the fact is that I’ve had a ‘phone call at 18:20 this evening “Mr Hall – you need to come back here. And bring your nightie and sponge bag.

So here I am, sitting in a hospital room gazing out of the window. I’ve just had a catheter fitted into my port, they’ve taken a blood sample and I’ve been poked and prodded about by various nurses and doctors, and we shall see what we shall see as the situation unfolds, because I’m going to be here for a few days apparently.

This morning I didn’t have too much of a lie-in because there’s a building site at the back of the building here and at 08:00 they started work with all kinds of machines going off. I gave up after about an hour and went to have my medication.

What I’ve been doing this morning is carrying on choosing the music for the next few radio programmes. Anything that will save time as far as I am concerned .

Nevertheless I knocked off halfway through in order to go to the shops.

triumph tr6 tiensestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallAs regular readers of this rubbish wil recall, I’m a big fan of old cars and I’ll always take a photo of one whenever I can when I see one, and so it’s only natural that when one goes past my nose down a quiet street, I’ll have the camera ready.

This one here in the Tiensestraat is the poor man’s E-type Jaguar, a Triumph TR6. And in British Racing Green, although I could never understand why they chose a colour that isn’t on the Union Flag for the British racing teams.

Made from 1968-1976 and fitted with Triumph’s straight-6 2.5 litre engine, over 90,000 of these were made, mainly for the export market.

Just over 8,300 were sold in the UK and such is their popularity that 4,000 are still on the road and 1,300 are declared as stored. And I bet that there are more than just a few that were stored off the road in sheds and barns before registration of stored vehicles became obligatory.

This one is carrying a Belgian registration, and the “O” in the front of its registration number means that it’s registered as an “old-timer” so it has a less-severe technical inspection but limits are applied as to its use. For example, emission standards and braking distances of modern cars couldn’t be matched by older vehicles even when they came off the factory production line.

market herbert hooverplein Leuven Belgium Eric HallDown in the Herbert Hooverplein my passage was blocked by the weekly market that sets up there.

It occurs once a week here and of course I had completely forgotten about it. Of course, the water fountain had been switched off so that the stall holders wouldn’t be havng a shower as they sold their wares.

One stall that I hadn’t noticed before was that there was a sweet stall there and I don’t have my usual bag of mints with me. There were none on the stall but they did have some of these jellied sweets that I like. They didn’t have any indication of what was in them but I know a place where I can buy gelatine-free jellied sweets.

market monseigneur ladeuzeplein Leuven Belgium Eric HallAnd so on my way to the shop that sells jellied sweets, I passed by the Monseigneur Ladeauzeplein and found a few market stalls set up there.

This is the first time that I’ve been out and about on a Friday at this kind of time so I hadn’t realised that the market stretched around here. But even so, one or two of them were packing up, and I imagine that the others won’t be long in going.

And as for that, I wasn’t long in going either. I went to the Kruidvat and bought myself a nice big bag of gelatine-free jelly sweets. They will last me for a week or so and that’s good. It’ll make a change from mints and eucalyptus sweets.

new building diestsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallAs regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I forgot to bring any spare clothes with me this week. And so I popped off to Wibra. But on the way I stopped off to have a look at this new building going on.

When I was in the Diestsestraat a few months ago they were demolishing a building and, in common with a lot of building work in Belgium, they keep the facade but stick something completely new behind ir, just as they are doing here.

A couple of doors away is Wibra, the shop that sells cheap clothes and I found a couple of cheap tee-shirts, a couple of undies and a couple of pairs of socks, all reasonable quality for the money that I paid.

While I was there I also picked up a tin opener. I have a small tin opener at home and after my exertions here over this last few visits, I’ll pack the small one that’s at home and replace it with this one here. It’s not as if €1:99 is a massive expense.

signs of donors to university library monseigneur ladeuzeplein Leuven Belgium Eric HallOn my way home I walked past the University Library in the Monseigneur Ladeuzeplein when this writing caught my eye.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, the University Library was gratuitously destroyed by the Germans during the Sack of Leuven and all of its contents, including books and papers going back to the earliest days of writing in Europe, were lost to humanity.

After the war many Universities from all over the world sent historic books to restock the library when it was rebuilt and it seems that the names of donors to the library were engraved into the fabric of the building. And I suppose that the donors to the library would have been absolutely mortified when the Germans came back in 1940 and burnt it down again.

Back in my room I had a nice hot shower, had a shave and changed my clothes so that now I look as human as I ever could. And this was followed by a very late lunch.

In the afternoon I sat down to carry on with what I was doing and unfortunately I fell asleep yet again. And that’s how the afternoon went – rotating between working and sleeping.

Some time later I managed to listen to the dictaphone for the previous night and found that there were two entries. I must have had quite a mobile night. It was the last day of our holiday on board THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR and for the last evening I was hoping to invite the girls to come and sit at my table with me for a final dinner. The only trouble was that there were 4 or 5 girls whom I liked and as usual I was caught in this wave of indecision about which one I would invite. In the end I didn’t invite anyone and I was just swept away in the crowd. When I mentioned it, it was to 2 girls who were together, whether one of them would like to but they pretended not to hear and were swept away in this crowd of people coming down this gangplank. I ended up with my meal crammed into this really uncomfortable place surrounded by all kinds of other people. No-one would make any room for me, anything like that so in the end I just threw my napkin down on the table and got up to walk out – something that I have actually been known to do in real life.

Later on, there was a huge pile of us and we’d been camping somewhere. I was on my own as usual, all round the Paris area and someone I was with suggested that I went to London where I could stay with someone for a few days and then come back. They said that I coud get a lift from this festival so I saw everyone off, my friends, and went back to where there was supposed to be a car but there were some people packing their things into it. I went over to them and asked them about “are they going near so-and-so”. They replied “yes” so I asked if I could cadge a lift. The first thing that the guy did was “those 3 packs of peaches for £0:49 – were they yours? Because I’ve eaten them”. I couldn’t remember whether they were or not but it didn’t really bother me too much. We got chatting while his wife went off doing things . He asked me where I was going but actually I didn’t know. I had to ring up in the morning to find the address. But by this time they would be on the road – they were planning to leave and drive through the night. I hoped that whoever it was was going to be expecting me and that I could find the place otherwise I was going to be rather foolish going all that way and getting lost like that. There was more to it than this but I just can’t remember it now. I can remember a bit about talking about going by bike somewhere to visit my friends in (wembley?) (Memling?) and they were saying that it was a bit far and they weren’t that energetic, something along those lines. But there was much more to it than this and I don’t remember it at all now.

All of this came to a halt when I had my phone call. I gathered up as much stuff as I could reasonably carry and headed off to the hospital.

roadworks amerikalaan franz tielemanslaan Leuven Belgium Eric HallIn the Brusselsestraat I walked past the building work that we had noticed yesterday on the corner of the Amerikalaan and the Franz Tielemanslaan.

They seem to have made some progress there, having covered the lump with cobbles and made a path out of bricks. This is starting to resemble a cycle pathway there and I’m wondering why if they could put down a nice brick surface there, why they couldn’t do that in the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan where they put down that horrible asphalt surface.

There is a Carrefour mini-supermarket just beyond where I’m standing and that’s just as well because the big Delhaize was closed and that was a disappointment. No vegan cheese then but I grabbed one of these honey loaf things and a couple of large packets of buildings. The vegan food at the hospital is sometimes quite questionable.

There was no-one at the registration desk when I arrived to I had to enquire at the information desk. I had to follow the light purple arrow to the lift at the far end of the hospital and then ascend to the 6th floor.

One thing about Covid is that now everyone is in a single room. Mine is nice and comfortable with a reasonable view. I’ve no idea how long I’ll be here, and neither does anyone whom I’ve seen. I suppose that things will become much more clear as time goes on.

Thursday 20th May 2021 – FOR THE FIRST TIME …

social distancing cafe tiensestraat Leuven Belgium Eric Hall… since I really can’t remember when, I had a meal in a restaurant.

Not this restaurant here in the Tiensestraat, I have to say, but this is the best example of social distancing in a café that I could find. And when I say “in” a café, I don’t actually mean that, because we aren’t allowed to be “in” a restaurant All we can do is sit on a terrace.

Alison and I went to the Greenway, the vegan restaurant in town. The social distancing wasn’t as thorough as this but it was still very nice to actually have a meal at a restaurant, even if it was out of doors, for the first time since whenever.

And then we went for a coffee on another terrace where there was simply a separation of tables but as the café wasn’t crowded it wasn’t an issue. We could sit quietly by and watch the hordes of policemen arrive and disappear into the Square behind us where there must have been something going on that required their attention.

This morning after having crashed out so spectacularly last night, I awoke, as you might expect, before the alarm was due to go off, so I was up and about quite promptly when the first alarm went off.

After the medication I made a start on the notes for yesterday and it took me much longer than it ought to have done to do it as I wasn’t really all that motivated. There was tons to write as well so it’s no surprise really.

There had been a voyage during the night too, as I discovered when I listened to the dictaphone some time later. My brother had gone to Dresden in Germany for something. I had to travel there so I was looking through the dashcam files and I came across one of when I’d been to Dresden in February one year. I remember getting close to the ton and how beautiful it was and on the outskirts I’d tried to find a place to stop to take a good photograph. I had to drive miles around in like a box to try to get a really good place. At one point I was driving alongside a river and suddenly came to a spot where the bank had collapsed and all these cars were parked in this field. I asked what had happened and they said that they had been driving on the ice when suddenly there had been a flash flood and they had all been transported away in this flash flood and just dropped when the water receded. All of the banks at the side of the river had collapsed under this kind of flash flood so they were all now stranded in these fields. Somewhere alongside were a brother and sister, arty types, and they had been having a big row and dispute about art. They were playing a strange kind of game with a load of magazines, something like “snap”. I was watching them play and they were basically making up 2 piles of these magazines. When they reached a certain point they would stop, shuffle these 2 piles together and start again but I never did understand or get the hang of what it was that they were doing. It looked totally weird to me and I couldn’t see what it was that was going on.

And there was also time to choose the music for another radio programme.

Round about 12:00 I stopped everything and made my sandwiches for lunch, and then headed off on my way to the hospital.

roadworks amerikalaan franz tielemanslaan Leuven Belgium Eric HallInto the town centre and out of the other side and in the Brusselsestraat at the junction of the Amerikalaan and the Franz Tielemanslaan I cam across another set of road works.

There have been plenty of roadworks going on all over the town as regular readers of this rubbish will recall and they have been taking years to do some of them. And so I wonder how long it’s going to take to do this lot on the corner here.

And it’s hard to see exactly what they are going to be doing because there were plenty of places in the town that are in need of much more work than this and I can give them half a dozen leads without even thinking about it.

sint pieters hospital brusselsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallThe Brusselsestraat leads past the site of Sint Pieter’s Hospital, the hospital that they have been demolishing for the last year or so at least, and I was keen to see how the works were going on because they seem to have been taking for ever to do it.

And to my surprise, I found out that the hospital has gone completely after all of this time. I know that it was a big building but they seemed to be really taking their time with it.

They are now actively engaged in clearing up the site ready for redevelopment of this new parkland and housing development. They are even talking about taking out the culvert and exposing the River Dijle to the open air.

sint pieters hospital brusselsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallThere is one thing that can be said about this demolition work in that it has opened up several new vistas that were previously hidden from view.

In this photo we can see the Predikherenkerk in the Oude Lieve Vrouwstraat from a viewpoint that we have never seen before, and then further round to the left is the rear of the ancient Sint-Elizabeth Gasthuis and the Convent of the Augustinian Sisters that we haven’t seen before.

In the previous photograph we could see the rear of the Sint Rafael Hospital which, as far as I am aware, is going to remain.

And all that we are left with here are a couple of large piles of rubble.

sint pieters hospital brusselsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallIt’s not quite everything though.

There’s a big digger here that seems to be fishing rubble out of what was formerly the cellar of the building. And I’m wondering why they would be doing that because if they were going to develop the site they would need to fill in the cellar anyway and what better way to do it than to use the rubble that is present on the site.

But having watched them digging stuff out from the whole I pushed off on my way along the Brusselsestraat on my way towards the hospital on the edge of town for my usual four-weekly appointment with destiny at Castle Anthrax.

cycle racks sint jacobs kerk kruisstraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallRound the corner in the Kruisstraat I intended to look into the Sint Jacob’s Kerk but the door was locked. And in any case I was distracted by some work that was going on here.

They have obliterated a couple of car parking spaces and replaced them with a pile of bicycle racks. At the moment the bicycle racks aren’t concreted into the ground but we can see the workmen on the right busily mixing a load by hand that will concrete them firmly.

That is something that has rather bewildered me as well because there aren’t any residential buildings or any colleges all that close to where they have put the bicycle racks no I’m not sure who it is that is expected to use them.

sint jacobsplein Leuven Belgium Eric HallAnd now finally, something extremely exciting.

It looks as if after all of this time the compound in the Sint Jacobs Plein has been dismantled.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we came home from Canada one year and found that they had dug a huge hole in the square, apparently for an overflow tank for the new drainage system that they were going to install. And when they had finished it, they filled it in and fenced it off to use it as a works compound for the roadworks that were taking place.

But that’s all gone and finished now and the cars are back parked on it. Life is slowly returning to normal.

monseigneur van waeyenberghlaan Leuven Belgium Eric HallThe work that they had been doing was to dig up the Biezenstraat and the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan and sink some really huge culverts in there for drainage.

This is work that we have been following for the last couple of years as they slowly, much too slowly in my opinion, worked their way down the street from top to bottom but now it’s all finished by the looks of things and all of the traffic, including the service buses that run to the hospital, are now in there.

We have to admire the cycle lanes in the main road. There’s no danger of missing those, even if they do restrict the flow of the traffic. Not that I have anything against restricting the flow of traffic, but there needs to be ample parking on the edge of the town with adequate pubic transport to take people to where they want to go.

And I see that the water fountain that they were trying to restore now seems to be completed.

goedsbloemstraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallIt’s not actually the end of the roadworks in this area though.

We pass by the mouth to the Goedsbloemstraat on our way up to the hospital. We noticed a couple of months ago that they had started to dig it up and despite the fact that in the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan the roadworks have no finished, they still haven’t finished off whatever they were doing here.

But whatever it is that they are doing, it doesn’t look as if it involves any large sever pipes. There are just a few small ones there and the rolls of pipework on the edge of the street.

But anyway I left them to it and pushed on to the hospital.

monseigneur van waeyenberghlaan Leuven Belgium Eric HallAnother thing that regular readers of this rubbish will recall is that the last time that we were here they were digging a trench in the grass verge and there were a few heavy pipes at the side of the trench.

All of that has finished, they’ve moved the pipes, filled in the trench and replaced the turf. You wouldn’t really know that they have actually done anything there by now. It’s all finished and the workmen have moved off elsewhere. Maybe to the Brusselsestraat at the junction of the Amerikalaan and the Franz Tielemanslaan

At the hospital I registered in and had my treatment. Nothing much happened about that but then I was sent down to have my heart examined. They found my heart so at least I’m not a Tory, but what the technician discovered led him to call for his professor who examined my results in depth.

From there I was sent back to the Day Centre where the Professor who handles my case came to see me. I go to the hospital every four weeks and have done for over 5 years now, and I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen the professor – and yet today I get to see two.

She examined me, which is a first since March 2016, and when I asked her what was the issue she replied “we’ll be in touch”. Strangely, they didn’t say “see you in 4 weeks” like they usually do.

By the time that they threw me out it was too late to go to the Pharmacy so I headed off back into town.

streamlined cycle gasthuisberg hospital Leuven Belgium Eric HallBut here’s something exciting, shooting down the cycle track at the side of the hospital. It’s another one of these streamlined low-sung bicycle things.

We’ve seen a few of these out and about here and there over the years but we’ve never ever had the opportunity to inspect one at close quarters. But knowing that there’s at least one of them in Leuven gives me hope that I’ll get to have a look at one of them in due course. I’ll have to keep a good eye out.

But one thing that I noticed from this photograph is that this one appears to be a three-wheeler and I don’t recall having seen one of this type before. The heavy construction of the front wheels suggests something more than an ordinary bicycle.

biezenstraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallA little earlier, we saw the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan all nicely fitted out and finished. The other end of the street is called the Biezenstraat and I can safely say that that end is finished too.

People can actually reach the fritkot without having to scramble over a pile of rubble – not that a pile of rubble would ever prevent a Belgian from reaching a fritkot, but that of course is another story. They do say that the reason why there have never been any Belgian astronauts is because there aren’t any fritkots on the moon.

The trees in the Sint Jacobsplein are in full leaf of course and look really nice but I would have expected that, with the country’s commitment to zero emissions and the like, they would have planted a few more to absorb the pollution.

building site kapucijnenvoer Leuven Belgium Eric HallDown at the far end of the Biezenstraat is the Kapucijnenvoer and regular readers of this rubbish will recall having seen the demolition of the building that was here.

They had dug a big hole in the ground where the building was situated and I speculated that they may be making some kind of subterranean car park at the bottom. Now they have some concrete reinforcement matting down there and I imagine that the next step will be the delivery of a few hundred m3 of concrete.

On my way home from the hospital in the future I shall be keeping a close eye on what’s going on here. With this amount of car parking space, it’s obviously going to be a very big building.

building site kapucijnenvoer zongang Leuven Belgium Eric HallSomething else on which I shall be keeping a close eye in the future is the building work that’s taking place between the Kapucijnenvoer and the Zongang.

We’d seen them clearing the site and moving in the building materials last time that we were here, and over the last 4 weeks they seem to have started the construction in earnest. There is some kind of site advertisement telling us about apartments for sale, so that’s what I reckon that we’ll be having here on the site.

In the town centre I treated myself to an ice cream from the stall that sells vegan ice ceam, and it was the quickest ice cream that I have ever seen because as soon as I had it in my sweaty little mitt Alison rang me up to say that she was here, so I wandered off round there to meet her.

medieval city walls handbooghof Leuven Belgium Eric HallAfter our meal and a coffee we went off for a walk around the town. I was dying for a walk down the Handbooghof along by the River Dijle because I was interested in seeing how they were getting on with the renovations of the old medieval city walls.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that in the past they have been sagging and bowing out, looking quite precarious and dangerous and after 7 centuries they were badly in need of some kind of renovation if they were to remain in place. It always reminded me of the castle in “The Carpathian Terror” – “The first Count Romany built it in 1410. That’s given it almost 500 years in which to disintegrate”

They fenced it off a few months ago and moved in some building material.

medieval city walls handbooghof Leuven Belgium Eric HallBut now the renovations are well under way and it won’t be long before they will have finished.

What is depressing about it though is that they have used more modern brick rather than contemporary brick in patching them up. I realise that they can’t always find the correct stone to do the job these days but at least they could have made more of an effort to find something that matches.

Alison had another appointment so she brought me home after our walk. Back here I started to write up my notes from yesterday but I fell asleep again in the middle of it all. It was actually quite late so I went to bed and I’ll finish off my notes in the morning.

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.

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 18th February 2021 – THAT WAS A …

… really nice tea tonight. And I’ve no idea why either.

For a start, it was the same stuffing that I’d used on Tuesday in my pepper (well, not the same, but leftovers from the same batch) lengthened with kidney beans and stuffed into tacos to make taco rolls with rice (which I remembered to put in the pan tonight). All followed by apple crumble with (because I’ve run out of coconut dessert) some soya vanilla cream dessert.

What beats me is that it’s the same stuff that I’ve had on a regular basis over the past ever so many years and yet it tasted far better tonight than it ever has done.

What else beats me is the news that I was up yet again before the third (now fourth) alarm. That’s not like me at all these days, as regular readers of this rubbish will realise. What’s even more surprising was that it was a horribly late night – or, more to the point – early morning. I was half-expecting to be still in bed right now.

So after medication I had a listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night. I’m not sure what was happening here but it was another hot, sweaty dream. There were a few of us on a bus or train and we had to go to the toilet. The conveyance came to a stop so we all had to rush to the public conveniences. We stampeded like mad to go there. It was obvious that some people who were older or more infirm than us and we overtook them. One of our party became a steward and was letting people in in accordance with how they had descended from the coach or even people sitting at these tables. We had to wait our turn. In the end we could enter a cubicle but in the one that I was in you had to use a bottle. I went to use it but a guy knocked on the door asking if he could have his bottle back. I said that I was just about to use it to which he replied “oh no, I need it back”. I said “you find me another bottle and you can have this one back no problem whatsoever”. He produced something tiny like a nail file brush container thing. I said “don’t be silly, a proper-sized bottle”. He replied “I can’t see one”, something like that. “There must be one here – there are all these toilets”. Despite the intervention from a couple of other people who were trying their best to help out, he wouldn’t supply a second bottle and insisted on trying to take his away. I wasn’t having any of this. I couldn’t move because I was sitting on the toilet by now. This became something of a stupid impasse. Each time I looked at him, there was always something more missing off his car. It was becoming a wreck and he wouldn’t be able to go there anyway but he kept on insisting for his bottle back and I kept on insisting that he find me something else to use and he offering me this little nail file brush thing and it was all becoming really stupid.

You can’t say that you aren’t being overwhelmed with excitement by some of this stuff, can you?

Later on, there we were, 3 of us, me, a young girl and a woman and we were dressed in some quite elaborate and decent clothing for the carnival, to be a police officer, constable or police observer, whatever but we had to travel in civilian clothes so you don’t know. Everyone was lined up there taking off their ex-military underwear and swapping it. This is where I joined in and we had exactly the same argument as we had before about the issue of handing over the tokens.
So what I want to know is “what have I missed off here that wasn’t recorded?”. That must have been good too.

Later on, I had a shower and a general clean-up, and I even went one better than David Crosby because while he almost cut his hair, I cut mine. It was starting to become too long for how I like it so I’ve cut it right back with a n°2. That’ll keep it out of mischief for a few weeks.

Grabbing a slice of sourdough fruitcake and a mug of hot chocolate I had my one-on-one with my Welsh teacher. It should have been for 15 minutes but we were finished long before that. I told her about my Teflon brain (nothing sticks to it) but she thinks that I’m doing pretty well. That’s surprising because I’m sure that I can do much better than I am.

Rather later than usual because of my one-on-one, I headed off for the shops.

yachting school baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallDown at the end of the road I had a look over the wall to see what was going on down in the harbour.

Not a lot – no freighters in today so it seems. But the yachting school seems to be in full swing. You can see the little boats with their green sails out there in the bay.

And seeing them there reminds me. That’s one of the things that really needs my attention – to go down there and enquire about taking a course in yachting this Spring. It’s not actually the yachting that interests me but the whole seamanship thing. I know about port and starboard and fore and aft but that’s about it.

However I’m not the worst at this. I know that one of my female friends was most upset when a sailor shouted “avast behind” as she walked past him on the deck.

It had been raining earlier but it had dried up a little so it was quite pleasant walking around the back of the town on the way to the railway station.

When you’ve paid for your tickets on-line you are given a security code and with the code and the bank card that you used to buy your tickets, you obtain your tickets from the machine at the station. But sometimes it’s out of order and the booking office doesn’t open until 09:30 whereas the train leaves at 08:55.

For that reason I always like to go for my tickets a couple of days earlier as I pass on the way to the shops when the ticket office is open. If the machine is out of order the booking office can print them out.

LIDL was expensive today. I spent a lot of money there. But then again I’d forgotten to buy a lot of things at the weekend so I suppose it was about right, I reckon.

demolition of house rue st paul rue victor hugo Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOn the way back home I went to look at the old cafe on the corner of the Rue St Paul and the Rue Victor Hugo to see how they are getting on with the demolition.

And it’s not there now – the ground’s all flat, although I doubt if there is a man with a bowler hat beneath it. What there are though are a couple of large signs fixed to the fence telling us that planning permission has been applied for so that a block of flats might be erected on the spot. But I’d heard all about that a week or two ago.

The town was quite busy this morning as I passed through. It’s school half-term this week so the brats are at liberty running around with stressed-out grandparents in tow.

le pearl gates of port de Granville harbour closing Manche Normandy France Eric HallOn up the hill in the Rue des Juifs I staggered with my heavy load. And I reached the park bench on the pavement at a very propitious moment.

Just as I arrived, the red light at the harbour entrance started to flash and as I watched, the gates slowly started to close. I stood and watched them for a while and I was trying to work out the pressure that the hydraulic rams must have to exert to close the gates against the pressure of water that must be upon them. It’s hardly surprising that they have to replace the gates every now and again.

Many of the trawlers are out at sea by the looks of things, but one that isn’t is our old – or maybe I ought to say “new” – friend Le Pearl moored up over there next to the harbour offices.

Where I was sitting was right by the Rampe du Monte à Regret, the path and stairway that leads down to the lower road at the Place Pelley (in case you haven’t guessed it, Granville is honeycombed with alleys, ramps and stairways due to the steepness of the cliffs around here).

pointing rampe du monte à regret Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThis is where they have been doing the pointing of the retaining wall for the last while, so I was intrigued to see just how they were doing. And the answer is, as you can see for yourself, that they’ve made no progress whatever over the last three weeks at least.

However, I have heard an interesting little story about this wall. Apparently one of the local Employment Project things that they have around here is running a course in stone-pointing starting in March and the only place where they can have some real practical experience is just here on this wall. So I wonder if that’s why work has ground to a halt – they are going to be having the apprentices doing it as the practical part of their course.

And with all of the renovation plans that they announced for the walls the other day, I suppose that they’ll need all of the apprentices they can find.

trawlers unloading fish processing plant port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallSo having recovered my breath I headed on up the hill to the viewpoint overlooking the fish processing plant.

Although the gates to the harbour are closed, there is still plenty of activity down there. Some of the trawlers must have only beaten the gates by a matter of a couple of minutes because as I watched , a couple of them jostled for position at the fish-processing plant so that they could unload their catch.

Back in the apartment it was lunchtime so I grabbed my sandwiches. I found some smoked vegan cheese with a sell-by date of January 2020 when I was cleaning out the fridge so I’ve started on that today until it’s gone.

Rosemary had rung me while I was out so I rang her back. Just a little phone call today – one hour and fifty-two minutes. I don’t know what it is that we find to talk about during all of this time.

That took me all the way up to walkies-time so I went back out to see how things were doing.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere were plenty of people around today too, especially down on the beach by the steps up to the Rue du Nord. Not as many people as the other day when there seemed to be hordes of them, but more than enough to get into a pile of mischief.

Up here on the car park there were dozens of people milling around, including a couple of brats whizzing around on scooters between the parked cars. Mind you, it was quite warm for the time of year. 9°C on the thermometer that I have and isn’t that quite a bit warmer than this time last week?

So having sorted out all of that, I headed off down the path on my way out to see what the rest of the world was up to.

lighthouse cap frehel brittany coast Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallToday was another one of those days where although there was a sea mist, the coast was fairly clear and you could see for miles down that way even if it was hazy out to sea.

The lighthouse at Cap Frehel was quite clearly visible with the naked eye today, long before I reached the headland and that’s always impressive considering that it’s about 70 kilometres away from here. And one of these days, when I’ve finished the photos and the web pages for my summer in Eastern Europe, I’ll do the photos from my boat trip down the coast and you can see the lighthouse for yourselves in glorious technicolour.

But don’t hold your breath. It’s going to be quite a long job.

rainstorm baie de mont st michel brittany Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallEven from down where I was standing I could see a big dirty cloud away in the distance so I was keen to go and have a closer look to see what that was doing.

Plenty of people around on the paths and the lawns and even a broken down car with its bonnet up on the car park so it was rather a slalom course that I had to take in order to reach the end of the headland. And I do have to say that I found that cloud quite impressive to watch.

That must be a really impressive downpour going on over there in the bay, and the coastline over there seems to be taking a real pounding. Luckily the wind is in another quarter so we won’t be getting any of that, which is just as well.

sun on sea brittany coast baie se mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThe kind of weather that we were having was so much better.

It was quite cloudy and dry, with not too much wind. But we did have another hole in the sky that was letting through a rather large amount of sunshine that was lighting up the bay right in front of me. And the town of Cancale on the other side was brought out quite nicely in relief by the light.

But I can’t stay here all day. I headed on down the path on the other side but there was nothing at all of any interest in the port or in the chantier navale I came home instead for my hot coffee.

orange kefir ginger beer place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallHaving drunk the coffee I turned my attention to the kefir that had been brewing for the last few days.

There are still some oranges remaining that need using so it was orange kefir today, and here are three bottles of the aforementioned that I prepared today, with the new kefir mix to the side and the ginger beer from the other day to the left.

Those bottles that I bought the other day don’t look very happy though. I hope that they are reliable enough to work under the kind of pressure that my kefir reaches.

As well as all of this I’ve done a few more photos of our trip to the hot springs in Greenland and also some more work tagging and indexing the photos from Oradour. They are all completed and I’m now doing them for the Chateau de Chalus.

It’s disappointing that they aren’t ready because I was hoping too have had them finished today. But friends come first of course. And tomorrow I have bread to bake, a Course to study and probably half a dozen other things that I’ve forgotten too, so I’ve no idea when they will be finished.

Talking of friends, Terry has had the statement setting out what French Old Age Pension he’s likely to receive on the basis of his own contributions. He’s amassed enough credits for a monthly pension of €25:00. I told him that I’ll chip in my monthly Old-Age Pension from my employment in Belgium – all €30:23 per month – and the two of us can go berserk.

Spend, spend, spend, hey?

Thursday 11th February 2021 – I’VE HAD A …

… really busy day today and accomplished quite a lot.

And when was the last time you heard me say something like that?

Once more I managed to beat the 3rd alarm, although not by much. And that was a surprise because even though I was in bed early, I’d had a really bad night.

Several bad attacks of cramp in my right leg, a couple of which obliged me to stand up to relieve the pressure. They were really painful and I was in agony for a good part of the night, something that I didn’t enjoy one little bit.

After breakfast I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been. because despite the difficulties that I’d had, I had managed to wander off on my travels, cramp and all.

I had some stuff to leave around and I didn’t want to leave it in my car while I was away for a week so i thought that I’d go to the hotel where I’d been staying or where I would stay on my way back on 12th. I drove my beige MkIV Cortina there, parked it in a temporary parking place on the street and walked round to the hotel, leaving my luggage in the car for a moment. When I arrived there was a Shearings coach tour ready to depart. I could hear them calling my name asking whether I’d be going. Instead I carried on and there were hordes of people because it looked as if there was another coach tour actually starting from there. Everyone was hanging around there at the front of the hotel and I thought that I’d be hours trying to get through this queue into reception. Suddenly 2 coaches pulled up for this coach tour so everyone surged forward into the hotel and I surged in as well. People were complaining that I’d pushed in but I arrived at the reception desk. There I was going to buy some sweets but when I saw the prices I changed my mind. I made up some story about me going on a coach tour and didn’t want my possessions to get damp in the car so she agreed to take my suitcase until 12th when I returned. I went out of the hotel and started to go back the way I’d come. She said “no, there’s a quicker way. Go down this street here, turn left and left again”. The was she said it was so confusing so she said “follow me”. She took me down the first bit and there, there was someone with a collection of old military vehicles behind a hedge, a couple of jeeps and a couple of Jeepnis from the Philippines. Round the bend there was someone else. She said “this is always the person of last resort if you need something urgently”. It was a guy who repaired all kinds of things. he had all kinds of old cars and all bits and pieces parked up in his drive. She kept on taking me down all these footpaths and I was getting so confused. I thought that we would end up miles away from my car and I won’t have a clue where my car is. It was only a 15 minute parking space and what happens if I’ve been towed away because I’ve been so long? But I followed her anyway as she seemed to know where she was going

So fighting off huge attacks of cramp that had brought me out of bed on a couple of occasions I carried on walking down here to find the BASF factory and I’ve no idea why. I was told that it was just near the overbridge but it certainly wasn’t around here. I was going to walk some way to find it and no-one seemed to be interested in telling me where it was. And I’ve no idea what that second part was about either.

But talking about Shearings … “well, one of us is” – ed … I’ve had to tell Satan to get well and truly behind me this afternoon. Someone’s offered me a 1997 Volvo B10M coach with a Plaxton Paramount body in good running order but needs tidying – for just £1500.

When I worked for Shearings I had years of fun driving those around Europe when I couldn’t lay my hands on a Van-Hool bodied one and they were really nice to drive. I loved Volvo coaches. And so it’s a good job that there’s a lockdown and we aren’t allowed to travel anywhere, especially to the UK, because it saves me from myself.

But what a bargain that is! The thing is that at the moment with companies (including Shearings) going bankrupt, there’s loads of good second-hand stuff on the market that the liquidators are desperate to move so they are slashing prices. This means that everyone is upgrading and modernising their fleets and so there’s all this good old stuff about that is worthless.

Next task was to make some dough for my loaf. Another 500 grammes of wholemeal bread and having bought a pile of sunflower seeds the other day, I forgot to add them in. But I fed the sourdough and the ginger beer while I was at it.

With half an hour free, I attacked the photos from Greenland and made some good progress and then I went for my shower.

By now, the dough had risen sufficiently so I shaped it and put it in its mould and headed out for the shops, with my two pairs of trousers on because it was absolutely taters again outside and the cold wind didn’t help.

At LIDL I didn’t spend very much. There wasn’t anything special that I needed – just a few bits and pieces.

demolition of house rue st paul rue victor hugo Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOn the way home from LIDL I had to take a diversion from my usual return route.

There had been a few notices knocking around telling us about a new block of flats that they are going to build in the Rue St Paul and I was wondering where that might be. But this here seems to be the answer because the road was closed off while a bunch of workmen were busy knocking down this old cafe on the corner of the Rue Victor Hugo.

For a couple of minutes I watched them in action but it was really far too cold to hang about for long, so I pushed off along the footpath that seems to be the pedestrian diversion at the back of the Community Centre and headed back into town that way.

covidius horriblis place general de gaulle Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall
The town centre is all decorated again, which is very nice to see.

As you might expect and as I have probably said before … “here and there” – ed … there’s no Carnaval this year. That’s hardly surprising given all of what’s going on. But it hasn’t stopped the Carnaval Committee doing their best to decorate the town to make up for it, and here’s a statue of Covidius Horriblis that might otherwise in a good year (does anyone remember those) have been mounted on a decorated lorry.

Of course, it’s a sad and sorry state of affairs but I’m convinced that we really need a lockdown much more severe than we have had to date in order to neutralise this virus. It’s no good just some people taking the utmost precautions if they are at risk of catching it from totally reckless people as soon as they go out

Talking of which, be prepared for a surge in cases being reported from here next week. The Government’s mobile testing unit is here on Saturday and everyone is invited. I’m not going though. I’m not mixing with a load of potentially ill people if I can possibly help it.

pointing rampe du monte a regret Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOn up the Rue des Juifs I went with my shopping, to inspect the work that’s been going on repairing the wall and repointing the wall at the Rampe du Monte a Regret.

And disappointing as it is to say it, they haven’t really made any progress at all since we last looked. The (lack of) speed at which workmen work these days is quite depressing. They should be doing much better than this.

It’s quite true that pointing (and roofing, because the roofers haven’t been on the roof of the College Malraux for the last couple of days) isn’t a job that you can do very well in a snowstorm, but it does beg the question “why on earth did they start the job in the middle of winter in the first place?”.

trawler port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAs I pushed on … “pushed off” – ed … up the Rue des Juifs, I noticed some movement in the inner harbour. One of the trawlers was setting out from her berth at the quayside.

The gates were closed and the lights were on red so I imagined that she was manoeuvring into position ready to leap out of the port like a ferret up a trouser leg as soon as the gates would open. But the tide was well out – no chance of them opening in the very near future.

What she did was to go off and tie up at the quayside behind the fish processing plant where someone was waiting with a van. She must be taking on supplies ready for her next trip out.

trans-shipping product rue st jean Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOne of the disadvantages of living in a medieval walled city is that the roads are narrow and the gateways aren’t very high at all.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we have seen on several occasions all kinds of large vehicles parked up by the gate in the Rue St Jean while the driver has to offload his charge into a car and trailer or an electric wheelbarrow or something similar in order to pass underneath the gateway.

And here’s someone else having a similar issue with his delivery. But there was nothing around onto which he could offload and he actually carried his parcels through the gate and into the town.

Back here in the apartment the bread had risen to perfection in the time that I had been out, so I switched on the oven and bunged it in.

While it was cooking I made myself some hot chocolate and a slice of sourdough fruit-bread and then came in here where I rather unfortunately fell asleep for half an hour.

But later, having recovered my composure, I dismantled two of the laptops here that have failed hard drives. One of the little portable Acers – the one in which I upgraded the memory and the big one with 8GB of memory that gave up 3 days after the guarantee ran out and which prompted me to buy the big desktop machine.

Both the hard drives are easily accessible, which is good news and on browsing the internet I came across a couple of Samsung 1TB Solid-State Drives at just €89:00 each. They are now winging their way in this direction along with a new battery for the little Acer and also a new SATA caddy – you need an external caddy for this job because you have to download the BIOS programs from the machine’s manufacturers into the new disk to make it start to work.

Why I’m interested in doing this is because I’m trying to lighten the load of what I have to carry around with me. The little Acers are quite light and while this one is older than the one that I used from 2014 to 2019 and which handed in its hat in North Dakota, everything in it is accessible so I upgraded the memory in it quite significantly and so it was a quick little machine, even if it was only running Windows 7.

As for the big machine, that actually came with 8GB of memory so it was quite rapid. No point in it sitting around doing nothing when it can (hopefully) be fixed quickly, easily and cheaply.

home baked bread place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBy now the bread was baked so I took it out of the oven.

It looked pretty good considering everything, and it tasted even better, and I know that because I had a slice for lunch with the remains of the bread from last time.

After lunch and having recovered from a post-prandial nap, I carried on with my Oradour notes and I’ve made my way all through the Court cases and onto the final paragraphs. So with a good couple of days on it, it should at long last be finished and I can crack on.

But it won’t be tomorrow morning though. I am required to do some work on a radio programme for someone.

trawlers english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallWe mustn’t forget the afternoon walk of course.

And we were in luck with the fishing vessels coming back towards port because I managed to take a snap of two of them out in the English Channel heading for home.

And later on as I walked around the headland there were half a dozen others hanging around outside the harbour entrance. The tide is still quite far out and there isn’t enough sea at the Fish Processing Plant for them to come in and unload. It can’t be long though because there wouldn’t be so many out there waiting for Godot when they could be spending the time out there increasing their catch.

snow lighthouse semaphore pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut let’s turn our attention back to where we are at the moment, namely the north side of the headland.

This is pretty much in the shade here and so the sun, such as there is, hasn’t had an opportunity to do very much melting right now and so unless the weather warms up, that snow will be here for a little while.

Not many people out there today either and that’s not much of a surprise. I had on two pairs of trousers so my legs weren’t cold, but that’s about all that wasn’t. I shall be going to the Sports Shop on Saturday morning if I remember for a new woolly hat for my woolly head.

And also a decent pair of warm tactile gloves. My last pair are in the pocket of my blue Adventure Canada jacket, which is hanging up on a peg in a hotel room in Calgary.

lys noir chantier navale port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallWith nothing doing out on the Baie de Mont St Michel, I continued on around the other side of the headland to see what is going on in the chantier navale

And we seem to have had a tactical substitution here on one of the sets of blocks. The fishing vessel that was here for a while has now disappeared, presumably back into the water and has been replaced by Lys Noir, one of the charter yachts that plies for hire out of the port.

With no business right now (and now idea when business might restart) they would be quite right in using this dead period to overhaul the boat and make it ready just in case something positive might happen soon.

fixing street lights rue des juifs Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThat was enough for me. I decided to head on home before I froze to death. But not before I had a good look to see what they were doing down in the Rue des Juifs.

Earlier on in the day I’d noticed this cherry-picker out around the town with the guys doing some work. It looks as if they are checking the street lights to see which ones are out and to replace the dud light bulbs if necessary.

But that’s a pretty pointless exercise if you ask me because with no-one out and about at night, why do you need the street lights? And in any case, regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I almost went base over apex in the dark on my way to the railway station because the street lights had been extinguished.

When I finished my notes on Oradour sur Glane I had my hour on the guitar and it was quite enjoyable. And I’ve noticed that my bass playing seems to have moved up to another level which has pleased me immensely. At one stage I was playing a lead guitar solo on the bass to Neil Young’s “Like A Hurricane” and Tom Petty’s “Mary jane’s Last Dance”.

And my singing seems to be improving too – not actually singing in tune because that’s way beyond the realms of possibility but the fact that I can keep on singing while I’m playing more complicated stuff on the bass.

But at the moment, I’m going all of this on the Gibson EB3. I really ought to be playing it on the 5-string fretless that I bought for my birthday last year, but that’s a complicated machine and there are limits to what I can try to do at any one time.

Tea was a Madras Curry out of the freezer followed by rice pudding. And now I’m off to bed. Flat out tired, I am and that isn’t a surprise given everything that has happened today. And I made 100% of my target today according to the fitbit. It’s been a long time since I’ve done that, considering the lockdown.

No wonder I’m exhausted.

Monday 18th February 2019 – AS IS USUALLY …

… the case, going to bed for an early night means that I just awaken even earlier. And to wake up at 01:33 is just ridiculous.

And I couldn’t go back to sleep either. I definitely remember 04:30 coming round. But go to sleep I must have done because I had the usual rather rude awakening at 06:00.

I’d been on my travels during the night though. Last night I was out with someone and their little daughter and as it was close to breakfast time and we needed bread, so I took her off to the bakers to buy a loaf. Walking through the country lanes, we saw a car coming – an old Fiat Panda, so we hid behind a hedge to leap out and scare them. It turned out that in the car was Zero and her father. Zero of course at one time or another accompanied me quite regularly on these nocturnal rambles. They offered to drive us back but as the little car would be quie crowded, I said that I would walk back. Nevertheless, they insisted and budged up to squeeze us in, and we drove back, with me realising that I wouldn’t be having any breakfast because I wouldn’t be buying any bread. Back at his house, I had a look at the plumbing that he was installing. I noticed that he was using a couple of my ideas about vertical pipework that he had ridiculed a few years earlier.

In fact, that was the story of my life in real life. I’d have many ideas which were roundly ridiculed by many people but which came to be adopted in the mainstream. I remember the ridicule to which my idea about low-voltage microwave ovens was put when I first suggested it, and now you find them in almost every long-distance lorry. That was just one of many such.

To everyone’s surprise, especially mine, I was out of bed quickly too. No idea why I can’t do this at home these days, except that my bed at home is far more comfortable than what I have here.

After breakfast, I had a shower and washed my clothes from the weekend, and then headed off to the hospital. Miles early, but I may as wait around there as here.

bad parking windmolenstraat leuven belgiumAnd talking of here, here’s a brilliant bit of parking I don’t think.

For reasons that only this lorry driver knows, he’s decided to park his lorry in the middle of the street blocking the traffic while he unloads.

I know that I harp on about bad parking in these pages on a regular basis, but this really is the limit. I just do not know what goes through the heads of some of these people. I really don’t

ripping out modern flats demolition monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan leuven belgiumThis warm weather is continuing. Halfway up the hill to the hospital and I was melting. I had to stop and take off my coat and stuff it in my rucksack.

I had to stop earlier than that though, in the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan.

Here’s a modern building that looks very 1970s or 1980s to me, and they seem to be stripping it out ready for demolition. No idea why because there is no evidence of any fire damage.

I’ll have to keep my eye on this and see what is going on.

At the hospital I was an hour early. But it didn’t do me any good whatsoever because they were 10 minutes late seeing me.

I had however taken the opportunity to close my eyes and have a little relax. But eventually they coupled me up and sent me to sit on a chair. No comfy seat free either – I had to make do with a standard one.

It’s not just in the hotel that people are recognising me. People are beginning to notice me and to recognise me here, and that’s always bad news. The woman who serves out the soup at lunchtime went to give me a certain drink, and her assistant called out, before I had time to say anything, “ohh no – he always prefers a Sprite!”

The doctor came to see me and we had a chat. I told him that I was breaking up slowly but he didn’t seem to be all that concerned. Mind you, he did admit that my prescription was wrong and amended it, and gave me an extra medication to deal with this irritable skin.

And to my surprise, my blood count has gone up. Only one notch – to 9.8 from 9.7 – and it doesn’t feel like it either. And still a far cry from the heady days of 18 months ago when they managed to drag it up to 13.0. I don’t imagine that I will ever see those heady days again.

Round about 16:00 they told me that I could clear off. And so I did. Just as far as the chemists where I had my prescriptions made up. Except for one, where they didn’t have any stock.

I walked down the hill to the chemists in the Brusselsestraat where I didn’t have much better luck. But at least they could make up my cream and let me have it the following morning. That’s better than nothing.

On my way back home I called in at Delhaize for a few bits and pieces here and there. I’m not going back until Wednesday so I need food for lunch and for tea tomorrow. Baked beans and chips sounds good for tea if you ask me.

digging up the road rector de somerplein leuven belgiumOn my way back up the hill, I passed through the rector de somerplein.

I had noticed a lorry with a digger and a pile of equipment as I went down the hill this morning, and wondered what they were planning.

But here we are this evening, digging out a big hole in the pavement. No idea what is going on in the hole, so I’ll have to keep an eye on this as well for next time that I am here to see what they have done.

Alison texted me at about 18:30. She had arrived in Leuven and was parking her car, so I had to leg it quickly into town. It’s been a considerable time since we’ve seen each other and we had a lot of news to catch up with.

A few weeks ago I had noticed a restaurant called Mykene that was advertising gluten-free and vegan food, and looked quite nice inside. I’d mentioned it to Alison previously and had invited her there so off we toddled. They served me up a most impressive cauliflower steak with sweet potato fries and I’ll go back again for more of that.

We went on from there to pick up a kebab for Brian and then called at the Kloosters Bar for a quiet drink by the fireside and made plans for the future. She also gave me a birthday present and a little surprise from Jenny. Jenny had bought me a little gift for Christmas and of course no-one had been able to give it to me.

On her way back home, Alison dropped me off at my little room and I came in. It’s been a long day, I’ve walked miles and I’m tired. It’s a good job that I’m going to be having a day of rest.

Monday 22nd October 2018 – I’VE BEEN OUT …

baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france… and about with the camera and equipment this evening. And for quite a long time too.

In case you’ve been wondering … “which I’m sure you haven’t” – ed … I have been somewhat inspired by my trip to the High Arctic as well as being totally dismayed by the photos that I was able to produce with what is really substandard equipment.

That’s not really to complain too much about the Nikon 1. As I said at the time, it’s okay for photos under normal conditions but in the kind of conditions in which I was working and with the kind of photos that I was trying to take, it just wasn’t up to the job.

It was simply my mistake in buying it.

baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy franceSo now that I’ve done what I should have done in the first place and bought some decent lenses, I was out tonight having some fun.

And I’ve encountered another slight problem – although it was one that I was suspecting.

I was using the new zoom/telephoto lens with a very long exposure – 10 secs in fact – with the camera mounted on the tripod (which I have rediscovered in the back of Caliburn after all of these years).

baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy franceBut the zoom/telephoto lens is quite heavy, and with the attachment for the tripod being on the camera, it’s all out of balance and has a tendency to topple forward.

And in a high wind like last night, even with the tripod tightened up to the max, the wind was still blowing the lens round.

As a result, with the 10-seconds exposure, the photos have come out quite blurred.

baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy franceYou can see exactly what I mean by comparing one of the photos above with the photo just here.

This photo has come out as well as anyone could possibly expect. It was taken with exactly the same settings for speed and exposure as the previous ones and on the tripod.

The difference is though that it was taken with the new standard lens, not the heavy zoom/telephoto lens.

full moon granville manche normandy franceWhen a very fast shutter speed is used, there is barely a trace of camera shake using the zoom/telephoto lens on the tripod, as you can see in the photo of the almost-full moon that I took last night.

But there’s no problem that can’t be surmounted.

The answer to this is to find a tripod mount that attaches to the lens at the mid-point of balance to that the equipment won’t sway about so much in the wind.

And I’ve been able to track one down on the internet. It’s expensive, but it needs to be correct.

While we’re on the subject of photos, I spent today working on the photos that I took on Saturday and Sunday and adding them as appropriate. I’ve still not done Friday’s yet but I shall get around to that in due course.

With my late night last night, it was a struggle to leave the bed this morning.

Especially as I had been on my travels during the night. On an island somewhere doing some painting and I don’t mean painting some woodwork but actually doing some kind of artistic stuff and that’s not like me at all is it? I was in some kind of higher group where there was some kind of price of £300,000 mentioned. Even during a nocturnal ramble I’m well-aware of my own shortcomings in the artistic world and I couldn’t understand what I was doing in a group that was far beyond my own capabilities.

After breakfast I had some work to do and that kept me out of mischief for a while, and then I spent a while with the 3D program that I use. I had a sudden idea about that that I needed to develop.

As well as that, I had to make my travel arrangements for the weekend. I’m hitting the road on Sunday afternoon for Leuven and Castle Anthrax and I need to sort out somewhere to stay.

And the return railway trip on Wednesday is shockingly expensive. It’s the day before a Bank Holiday so prices are through the roof. I’m having to travel on the 08:13 TGV, which means that I will need to be at Leuven station for about 07:00 and I’m not looking forward to that one little bit.

All of that took me up to lunchtime (I just don’t know where the time goes these days) and I took my sandwiches in here, seeing as it was windy and overcast outside.

This afternoon I started on the photographs, with the usual interruption to go for my afternoon walk.

beach plat gousset granville manche normandy france And I chose the route around the walls because I wanted to go round the headland tonight.

Plenty of people around out there too. It’s school half-term so people were taking the air.

It might be coming towards the end of October and the start of winter but the weather was still warm enough for people to head out onto the beach.

beach breville sur mer donville les bains manche normandy franceBy the afternoon the weather was showing signs of brightening up.

The sun was peeking through the clouds by now and illuminating parts of the beaches round by Donville-les-Bains and Bréville-sur-Mer and making the afternoon look quite tempting.

Had it not been for the fierce wind it would have been a really beautiful afternoon.

donville les bains granville manche normandy franceWhile you admire a section of the previous photo cropped out to show the ruin where I saw a derelict apartment 18 months ago, I can tell you about my little visit.

There’s a photo club here in Granville and they were having an exhibition in one of the public rooms. So I went along to look.

There was nothing on display that particularly excited me and although I wanted to chat to an official, they all seemed to be huddled around in a group chatting about last night’s television programmes.

Not particularly welcoming, unfortunately. So I moved on.

demolition rue du nord granville manche normandy franceBut not too far though.

There have been several changes in the town while I was away in the Frozen North and I’m slowly catching up with them. Like this demolition site in the rue du Nord overlooking the medieval walls and the sea.

I wonder what they are going to build here in its place.

thora port de granville harbour manche normandy franceAnd round by the port I noticed that we aren’t alone today.

Thora has sailed … “dieseled” – ed … into the harbour from Jersey without me noticing.

She must have come in on the morning’s high tide. That was round about 06:30 this morning so that sounds about right to me.

thora port de granville harbour manche normandy franceThere’s no evidence on the quayside to show what, if anything, she brought over from Jersey.

But she’s already taken on a considerable load of supplies for taking out. And a close inspection of the load from this kind of range seems to indicate that it’s stones or rocks of some description.

So I’ve no idea why they would be wanting to export them to Jersey

thora port de granville harbour manche normandy franceWhile you admire yet another photo of Thora, I went back to my apartment, had a coffee and sat down to continue with what I was doing.

That was the plan anyway. Instead I ended up on the bed flat out until well after 18:00. Not even a coffee can keep me going these days.

Tea was a stuffed pepper with spicy rice and it was delicious as usual. And then off around the headland in the moonlight with camera, lenses and tripod.

Now I’m back, much later than usual, I’m off to bed. I’ll have a go at carrying on tomorrow and we’ll see where I can get up to.

Wednesday 20th June 2018 – THE WORLD’S WORST BANK …

… strikes again!

Remember that letter that I had to fax them yesterday? It seems that I had forgotten something off it.

And yes, I freely admit that it was my error. No argument there.

The bank sent me an e-mail and asked me to rectify the omission. No problem there either.

BUT

I had to reply by fax yet again. I couldn’t do it by phone, and I couldn’t reply to their e-mail either. Even though they had referred to my request in the e-mail that they had sent me, that it would be clear that any reply that I sent would have been in reply to their mail, and that the information was information that they had requested.

So that was yet more wasted time.

Like I say, I’m not denying my responsibility. I’m just moaning about the bank’s procedures. Had I still have been in the UK they would have been kicked into touch a good while ago. But then, had I still been in the UK, I would never have had the issues that I’m having now.

Last night, I didn’t get to see my film. I ended up going to bed fairly early instead. I was hoping to have an early night, but waking up at 03:45 was no part of my intentions whatsoever.

So much so that after breakfast I sat down and ended up being … errr … away with the fairies for a good half an hour.

But I pulled myself through, did some more tidying up and even vacuumed the living room, as well as measuring up a few things here and there, because I’m having a day out tomorrow.

hanging cloud port de granville harbour manche normandy franceOr, at least, I’m hoping to, if I can find the road.

On my trip into town this afternoon we were lucky to see the harbour. We’ve been swathed in a hanging cloud all day and it hasn’t lifted for a minute. It’s even worse right now.

If it keeps on like this, I won’t even be able to find my way out of the building, never mind out of town.

Having dealt with the housekeeping issues for today (Friday is to deal with the kitchen and Saturday is to wash the floor to let it dry while I’m out at the shops) I went back to the blog again.

The current whereabouts of my amendments is the day that I left Leuven to travel to Oostende. That page is not quite finished (although it might be by the time you read this) but it’s all now done from there onwards.

I’m determined to bring it all up to date before I’m much older, having left it somewhat … errr … incomplete during my all-too-frequent bouts of illness.

No point in going out for lunch today in the hanging cloud. I stayed in and read my book in the peace and quiet.

And then I had to fiddle about with the printer in order to make it work. It’s an ancient Hewlett-Packard that I inherited from Marianne all those years ago. It had an enormous amount of use while she had it, and it’s done some work here over the five years that I’ve had it. So it’s quite temperamental.

house demolition rue du port granville manche normandy franceAnd so off into town.

We’ve seen the hanging cloud, but I don’t think that you have seen the workmen down in the bottom-right corner who have now started on another house down on the rue du Port.

It’s difficult to tell whether they are knocking holes in the walls to fit new windows, or whether they are trying to knock the walls down completely. I suppose that time will tell.

gravel tipping port de granville harbour manche normandy franceHaving seen my friendly newspaper shop owner and sent off the fax, I came back up the hill.

And over in the port, another gravel lorry had arrived and had tipped its load. And behind it there was a digger driver busily heaping it all up into a tidy pile on the edge of the quayside.

Not in the gravel bins, you’ll notice. So that can really only mean that another gravel boat will shortly be paying us a visit. And I hope that I’m here to see it.

But I learnt some bad news in the newsagents. Madame la Maire has finally published her proposals for the port. She wants to build another casino and another pile of restaurants down there.

That means, quite simply, that all of the empty shops in the town will immediately be transformed into the kind of expensive boutiques that you see in every other seaside town – vastly overpriced for two months of the year and closed, gathering dust for the other 10.

And the port, instead of being a working, industrial zone, will become a haven for luxury yachts for 2 months of the year and deserted for the remainder.

It will totally destroy the character of the town, but such is the price that one has to pay for a bit of egoism.

And it did not go unnoticed that the proposals weren’t published until after the series of meetings with the residents (one of which we attended last week).

So that was my afternoon walk, and I crashed out yet again for a while. A coffee soon revived me though, and I had a good 50-minute session on the bass guitar. I’m cracking on.

After tea, which was a frozen mushroom and pepper curry in coconut milk, I went for my walk. And managed 120 paces at a run (well, a sort-of run). And if there was anyone else out there, I wouldn’t have an idea in this weather.

So now I’ll do a few bits and pieces and then have another early night.

And I hope that it’s more successful than the last one.

Thursday 1st March 2018 – IT WAS A …

… lot warmer this morning.

Yes, the temperature when I awoke this morning was at the giddy heights of all of minus 3°C. It wasn’t as cold in here either this morning, but after less than 4 hours sleep, it certainly felt like it too.

snow pointe du roc granville manche normandy franceWhat didn’t help though was that after breakfast it started to snow. I wondered why it had gone completely silent outside, with no cars or pedestrians passing.

Under normal circumstances that would have put paid to any idea that I might have had about going to the shops. These, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, are not normal times and I need to move about.

And in any case, you wouldn’t exactly call that a snowfall after what we are used to in the Auvergne, regardless of what they might think around here.

So I had a shower and a general clean-up and cut all 20 of my finger and toe nails (and anyone who knew me even a couple of years ago will realise that an achievement that is). And then I hit the streets.

o'toole lorries port de granville harbour manche normandy franceAnd there over across the far side of the harbour where the fairground people had their residential caravans are a couple of lorries owned by the Irish company O’Toole.

Everyone knows of course that the company is owned by Plenty O’Toole, one of the James Bond girls from Diaminds Are Forever and who was, famously, “named after her father”.

But more to the point, what are they doing there? And even more interestingly, how did they get here?

water pimpig into port de granville harbour manche normandy franceThat wasn’t all of the excitement down at the harbour either. As you can see, we have a gusher – a ge flow of water into the basin.

I did wonder what it was doing – whether there had been a leak in the gates or whether they were trying something new, but it seems to be the outlet of a rather large pump and I’ve no idea what it’s supposed to be doing.

Or even where the water is coming from. I mean – I know that it’s coming from the sea, but that’s not what I mean.

We had some excitement in the town too. Someone in a 7.5 tonne lorry was delivering parcels – blocking the narrow streets as he unloaded, even though there was a free space just 20 metres higher up.

And another100 metres further on, he stopped OPPOSITE a free space and blocked the passage for the large queue behind him. So when he came out of th shop I asked him if he needed any help to park it – after all, I now have my HGV licence – but he just gave me a dirty look and drove away.

I made it to LIDL to find that there were no more than 20 people in the sho, and I had a till all to myself – something that deosn’t happen very often in LIDL as you know. Clearly the weather had defeated most people. But there was nothing exciting to buy in there, although the sorbet maker looks exciting – I’ll need Caliburn for that.

demolition rue st gaude granville manche normandy franceMy usual route back home takes me down past the streets in the upper part of town and there was some excitement here too.

It seems that a couple of old houses in the Rue St Gaude are being demolished, with plans afoot to replace them with modern apartments. This is a street with a good view in places over the harbour and in much demand – I saw a ruin here at an exorbitant price – and quite a lot of the old single-occupancy properties have gone.

But I admired them for attacking the job with a digger.

The day warmed up later and we were treated to rain – put the dampers on my two walks later on though, but at least I made well over the 100% daily exercise target which is always good.

And tea tonight was all kinds of vegetables and falafel with a cheese sauce, and that was delicious too.

But despite my short night last night and my exercise today, I’m not at all tired and I don’t know why. It’s going to be yet another late night.