Tag Archives: dennis minty

Friday 18th March 2022 – AFTER ALL …

filming at civic rooms place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022… the excitement of yesterday, there’s been even more today.

Unfortunately not quite of the same calibre, but nevertheless it beats the monotony. Especially when they lay down a red carpet at the Communal Rooms at the back of my apartment and set up a film camera to film whatever was going to make use of it.

Whatever or whoever it was, though, I’m not able to say. I had to go out to the Post Office before it closed and so I missed it.

If we’re lucky, there will be something in the newspapers tomorrow, but I’m not all that hopeful. There wasn’t a word about what the Dassault Falcon was doing yesterday.

fire brigade rue des juifs burnt out house rue du midi Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022At that wasn’t everything either.

This afternoon it looked as if it was the local Fire Brigade’s annual outing. There they were, complete with vehicles, standing around and chatting, looking up at the ruins of the houses that were devastated in the fire.

While we’re on the subject of “devastated” … “well, one of us is” – ed … I was pretty devastated this morning.

It ended up being a much later night than I was expecting or hoping, and when the alarm went off at 07:30 I switched it off and … err .. went back to sleep. But it wasn’t as bad as yesterday. I managed to make it out of bed a good few minutes before the second alarm.

Not all that much on the dictaphone through the night either. I must have had something of a decent sleep. I was out somewhere last night on the road that runs between Newcastle and Shrewsbury. I don’t know where I’d been but I ended up down some kind of side road somewhere. I stopped and I’d had a piece of cake and a coffee, standing in the middle of this farm track drinking it and eating the cake while the farmer was driving around in his tractor somewhere. Something had gone wrong but I can’t remember what it was. I looked at the time and I thought “God! I only have 20 minutes to get to work!”. I thought that I’d never reach work on time at all from here because I’m on foot. I put down my mug and plate down in the middle of this track and walked down to the main road thinking that I’d hitch a lift. I walked back towards the road junction that would take me to Crewe which was 4 miles away. First of all a bunch of school kids went past, then an old Austin A40 Somerset followed by an old BMC lorry. I then found myself in this village As I walked through this village I thought that I’d never seen such a village. I didn’t know that there was a village like this on this road and I know it so well. By now I was in Caliburn and. There was some road work in the town centre. Everything was being dug up. There were rocks being cut up with a disc cutter. They were even dynamiting small small rocks. I was just driving over everything, machinery, the lot in Caliburn. Some guy was even putting his feet against the glass windows to stop them vibrating when the dynamite went off.. There was this really sharp U-bend by an expensive estate agent’s. I thought that things were becoming really bad. Some woman went past and said “you’re going to be terribly late for work. It’s 2 days running for me that I’ve had to call in with car problems”. I was back in Caliburn again and came across an auto-electrician. I drove into his workshop. I had to straighten a carpet. A guy came over so I asked him to go to listen to the starter while I turned the engine so he could see if there was a problem with the starter.

Later on I was out near Tarporley in a small village … “Tiverton;” – ed. I bumped into a girl whom I knew but I can’t remember who she was. She had curly ginger hair and I don’t know a girl like that in real life. She was telling me about a family whom I knew who lived by the traffic lights at the Rising Sun. She was saying that they’d all cashed in their chips, sold up and moved on. I asked if she knew where they had gone. She told me of a couple of them but there was one whom she didn’t know. She mentioned his name and I knew the name. He’d gone to Toronto. She said “yes, I remember now. He’s bought a racehorse”. I looked surprised and asked “what’s he doing with a racehorse?”. She didn’t actually know. In the end she said something like “if you’re going to take a chance on buying an unknown racehorse for £1:00 or something you’d buy it from a member of your own family rather than from a complete stranger” but she couldn’t see the purpose of this racehorse. I asked her if it was identical to any others that he owned because there’s always the old “run a slower identical horse in a few races to build up a bad reputation then switch the real one in for an important race once the other one has a bad name”. She said “no, it’s not at all like (she mentioned the name of another horse)” so I thought that perhaps it might be an identical horse or something where in this case this one might be slower. I was about to ask her the question when the alarm went off.

After the medication and transcribing the dictaphone notes, I spent most of the rest of the morning working on the photos from the High Arctic in August 2019. We’re now back on board THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR after our little walk around Qikiqtarjuaq.

That was where Dennis Minty and I bumped into a local Royal Canadian Mounted Police “Mountie” who gave us a lift in his pickup up to the top of a mountain on the island where we took some superb photos which you will see in due course.

After lunch I had a letter to write. It’s the reply to one that’s been hanging around here for quite a few months and someone somewhere is probably wondering if I’ve died.

“Snail mail” has all but died out for personal purposes but I still have the odd (and I use the term advisedly) technophobe friend who writes letters. Unfortunately, just like me, she has had a hand injury and so I have a great deal of difficulty reading her writing just like people have difficulty in reading mine, and it’s not easy to decipher it.

But anyway, it was eventually ready and in a mad fit of enthusiasm which has sprung up from heaven alone knows where, I actually set off to post it.

joly france ferry terminal port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022As usual, I stopped at the corner of the Boulevard Vaufleury and the Boulevard des 2E et 202E de Ligne to check the camera and see what was happening down below.

As you can see, the tide is right out at the moment. It’ll be a while before it’s back in today. But there doesn’t seem to be anyone taking advantage of it and going for a bit of the peche à pied.

And if there’s anything going on at the Ile de Chausey this afternoon, they aren’t doing it aboard the Joly France ferries.

There’s one moored up over there at the ferry terminal in the NAABSA (Not Always Afloat But Safely Aground) position, and the other two are moored up in the inner harbour along with Chausiaise

charles marie port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022As well as the Ile de Chausey boats in the inner harbour, there’s plenty of other stuff too.

One of the boats here is Charles Marie. We’ve been keeping an eye on her over the last couple of weeks while she was being serviced in the chantier naval but now she must be ready for the sea.

There was a trawler parked in the chantier naval where she was, but I couldn’t see who she was. I’ll go for a wander out that way tomorrow and find out more about her.

And by the looks of things, La Granvillaise wasn’t there either. She must have gone back into the water but she isn’t around in the harbour so I wonder where she’s gone.

There are tons of the containers in which they stack the sacks of shellfish over there on the quayside. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen so many.

road works abandoned railway line Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022Dodging the pompiers who were having their meeting on the pavement, I carried on down the hill to the viewpoint overlooking the inner harbour.

The freight was still there but what caught my eye was the lorry and the digger over there on the track of the old abandoned railway.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that the other day we saw them working on the far end of that track in the town centre. They seem to have made rapid progress.

Down in the town I made rapid progress to the Post Office to post my letter. And then I went off to the Credit Agricole. I’ve received a cheque in respect of my Belgian State Pension but I dont now why. Anyway it has to be paid in to my account.

Now what can I do with €60:45? Spend! Spend! Spend! I suppose.

road works abandoned railway line Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022Walking back into the town centre on my way home I had a quick peek down where the old abandoned railway ran to see how they were doing.

And by the looks of things, they don’t seem to be doing a great deal. They have a compactor down there (which was more than they had on the 1800 miles of the TRANS LABRADOR HIGHWAY IN 2010 but the road surface doesn’t look much different than it did before they started.

And I’m half-expecting one of those boys to end up like an Austin Powers henchman if he isn’t careful. I suppose that the other boy there would refer to his friend as his “flatmate”.

I’ll get my coat.

So having dome my tasks for the day I set off up the hill for home, feeling rather pleased that I’d actually finished a couple of tasks.

Maybe it is these pills that are giving me energy, I dunno, but sometimes I really think that they could give you absolutely anything, tell you what the imaginary effects will be, and then you psyche yourself up to believe them.

kite surfers people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022Before I went back inside I went to see what was happening down on the beach outside my building.

Today was a really glorious May day today, really warm, but with a strong wind. And so while there were no Nazguls about, there were a couple of people down there kitesurfing. And having a really good time doing it by the looks of things.

Plenty of people walking around on the beach too having a good time. I don’t know where they have all come from.

One of my neighbours was outside the building too, soaking up the rays. he and I had a good chat before I came in for a coffee.

Later on, I had another session on the guitar. I seem to have rekindled my enthusiasm, having done very little since I fell into this depression several months ago. I quite enjoyed it too, although i’m dismayed at how much of my technique I’ve lost.

Tea was a quick falafel from out of the freezer with pasta and veg because there was football on the internet. Y Bala v Penybont in the first of the Welsh Cup Semi-finals.

And for a match then ended 0-0, this was probably one of the best and most exciting that I’ve seen in a long while. Both teams have star players but they managed to checkmate each other at every turn as the game roared from end to end for the whole 90 minutes. It’s a shame that there aren’t more games like this.

So bedtime now. I’m shopping tomorrow and then I’m going to try to do some exciting stuff. What, I’m not quite sure yet.

Who knows? I might do something wild, like take more rubbish out to the bins.

Friday 4th September 2020 – IT’S BEEN A …

… rather better day today than yesterday. For a start, I beat the third alarm again. Not by very much, and I was sitting quite groggily on the edge of the bed when it went off, but I beat it nevertheless.

After the usual morning ablutions I had a go at the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night.

We were staying in the city, something like that, last night. It was winter and I was on this hospital car park for some reason. Someone pointed out to me a dog that had two pairs of shoes on and a man running behind with some kind of paper wrapped round his feet. Apparently he’d been getting the dog out of his car in the snow and the dog had taken his shoes and gone off, leaving him behind. It was some kind of hospital and I had to walk across this car park to do something. Then I realised that I had my own appointment so I carried on. I was carrying a ladder and something else that I’d borrowed from the hospital. I got into the sheltered walkway and came to the door where there was a row of steps going up. When I got there, there was someone I recognised. It might have been someone whom I know from Newfoundland who was the caretaker. I had to give my things back to him. There was another guy on the door. It occurred to me walking across the car park that I didn’t have any form of identity with me, any kind of money. I didn’t have my hospital paper so I don’t know how I was going to talk my way into having my appointment. It was too late to run back to the car now. Anyway when I got there I thought that my Newfoundlander friend would vouch for me and who I am. There was a receptionist guy on the counter and I was about to go up and tell my story to him when I awoke again with yet another bad attack of cramp. I don’t know how many attacks of cramp I’d had during the night but that part of it was quite awful..
At somewhere else during the night I’d been with a guy who I know from a Greenock Morton Football Club internet site. We’d been to watch the game. Morton had started the season very unprepared with quite a few players short. They had been talking about players who the club was signing so I went to the ground. We were all standing around the field watching. the first action was a clearance from one of the defenders that hit a Morton player and the refereee blew for handball. Under the new procedures it wouldn’t have been given so we all had a moan at the referee. The we suddenly realised that we were all encroaching on the pitch so we had to walk back a couple of yards and found a chain link around the ground so we walked further back and put the chain link back up. There was some kind of fence that stopped us seeing much of the game so the two of us walked round behind Morton’s goal to watch the action from down there. There was talk of someone signing from a non-league club. he was supposed to be very thin and very tall. There was a discussion about players initials, some kind of gambling thing where you gambled on who the club would sign based on initials. We were talking about the game and the score was 2-0. I couldn’t find out who is was who had the 2. It looked like Morton as they were doing all of the attacking but I couldn’t be sure.

While I was at it, I transcribed a few more from the backlog from when I was on my travels. It was really hard to do anything while I was away because the computer was just not quick enough to respond and I wasn’t well enough

Another thing that I’ve done this morning is to do some tidying up of the things that I’ve bought. There was more stuff than I thought that I had, including some round rice that I thought that I didn’t have.

One day i’m going to have a major rearrangement of the things on the shelves and make some more space. There’s no need for half of the plastic containers that I have, for a start.

With some time that was left I attacked the photos from my voyage. I didn’t edit anything like as many as I wanted because I ended up with two photos having to track down where I was when I took them.

In the end, one I managed to trace but the second (and one or two that come later) will require much more of a detective effort to work out where I was when I took them.

Another reason why I took so long was that I … errr … closed my eyes for a moment or two.

After lunch, I did some of my Welsh revision and then attacked the new internet course. It took most of the afternoon but I managed to do a whole week’s course today.

It’s true to say that I knew a great deal about the basics of the course and that helped a lot, but I still learnt quite a lot from it.

tractors trailers mussels nets bouchots donville les bains granville manche normandy france eric hallThere was the usual break in the working afternoon while I went out for my afternoon walk.

Not that I went very far before I was distracted. The tide was quite far out this afternoon and out across the bay at Donville-les-Bains the mussels posts were uncovered.

What I think they are are the posts and strings for the bouchots – the mussels that grow on strings. The tractors and trailers are out there harvesting them.

The advantage that bouchots have over ordinary mussels is that with not being on the ground, they aren’t full of grainy sand so they taste much more natural and don’t break your teeth.

zodiac fishermen pointe du roc english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallIt’s not just down on the seafood beds that the ocean is rendering up its harvest – at least, in principle.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that over the last few das we have seen several fishermen out there casting their lot into the water. Today, we have a couple of guys on a zodiac coming round the headland.

They have their rods at the ready and it looks as if they will be taking up their positions just off the Pointe du Roc. I wonder if they will have any more luck than anyone else whom I’ve seen.

kids games pointe du roc granville manche normandy france eric hallThere was something extremely curious going on this afternoon on the lawn by the old bunkers at the Pointe du Roc.

The kids, presumably from a local school, where playing a game there. But what caught my eye more than anything else was the absence of masks and the absence of any social distancing.

It’s apparently true to say that kids aren’t as susceptible to the virus than adults (so they say) and don’t suffer as much, but then they all go home and see their siblings, parents, grandparents and neighbours over the weekend.

It seems to me to be pretty short-sighted to exempt kids from the requirements that everyone else is obliged to take. But then, looking at the horrendous casualty figures and the lack of decisive action to prevent or enforce the regulations, it looks as if Western Governments have given up the fight and prepare to sacrifice the population to the God Mammon.

chantier navale port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallWhile we’re on the subject of social distancing … “well, one of us is” – ed … there isn’t much social distancing going on down in the Chantier navale right now.

My walk continued round the headland to the viewpoint there and I could see the latest developments in there. It’s been pretty full with seven boats in there but just the other day we went down to six. However today, we’ve gone back up to seven as another boat has come to join the collection.

Plenty of people down there working on them too. It’s all go in there right now, so it seems. I’m particularly interested with the one on its own on the left in the front of the row of five. They have been spending the last week or so stripping all the paint off it.

bad parking rue st pierre granville manche normandy france eric hallFrom there I walked along the path and down past the the end of the Rue Saint Pierre, the little street that leads up to the College Malraux.

It’s close to school chucking-out time and you can tell that by the vehicles that are parked half-on, half-off the pavement blocking the path to anyone who would like to walk along the pavement on that side.

When you consider that there’s a huge free car park just 50 metres away from where they are parked, it’s really a shameful situation to see them parked like that.

Anyway, you’re all probably quite fed up of me talking about pathetic parking so I’ll move on back home where I finished the internet course for the week and had my hour on the guitars.

Tea tonight was vegetable balls with steamed vegetables and vegan cheese sauce followed by the last of the rice pudding.

Later on, I went out for my evening walk. There were only two other people out there which is no surprise because it was quite dark.

Nothing was going on round by the rue du Nord so I carried on to the footpath and then ran along there, pushing on 20-odd metres past my limit.

illuminated trees square Maurice Marland granville manche normandy france eric hallThere was nothing happening at the viewpoint overlooking the Place Marechal Foch so I went over to the Square Maurice Marland and ran all the way along it and up the ramp at the end.

A couple of days ago we saw the lights in there come on and illuminate the trees. They were already on by the time that I reached there, and everything was so much brighter so the photo is better tonight.

With nothing else going on at all, I ran on back home to write up my notes and then have an early night.

Tomorrow it’s shopping day so I need to be on form. I don’t need very much, for once, but I’ll need to remember exactly what I do need.

Sunday 25th August 2019 – WE HAD OUR …

… first engagement with the ukelele today. During the evening’s recap different groups had to give a discussion about what they had learnt the other day, so we gave a rousing performance of “You Are My Sunshine”.

Unfortunately no-one passed around the hat, but then again that wasn’t a surprise because we are a long way from meriting it, but the Icey Arm 6 are on the road!

This was another night where I didn’t sleep as well as I would have liked, but then no-one is complaining because we had the “everyone up on the starboard bow” call. Sure enough, there on the bank at the side of Buchan Gulf was Mummy Polar Bear with baby. Too far away to be spectacular but we could see them quite clearly and take photographs.

The downside of all of this is that the bear and her cub were wandering about right where our landing site was to be in Icey Arm. She was there first so we had to leave and look for someone else. My suggestion that we make a list of passengers without whom this cruise would operate more smoothly and send them ashore on the first zodiac as bait was met with disdain

While we were turning round to look for another site I checked my photos. And to say that I was disappointed was an understatement. I resolved to speak to the photography guy but we were interrupted by the most magnificent set of cliffs that you could ever wish to see. Called “Executioner’s Cliffs”, they were over 1000 feet high and vertical. Marc the geologist and I spent a very happy hour or so examining the rocks and we even identified a volcanic cone.

That session too was interrupted. A pod of narwhals decided to join in the fun and while we couldn’t see their tusks we could see them cavorting about – after a fashion because once more I wasn’t up to the task with the photos.

After lunch, I button-holed the photographer. We adjusted one or two settings on the camera to improve the quality of the colour of the photo, but there wasn’t much that we could do about the lack of sharpness. Shaking about happens to everyone of a certain age and it’s nothing to do with the camera either.

He suggested that I ramp up the ISO to about 6400 – to let in plenty of light. Then, go for the widest aperture possible when taking telephoto shots – and then go for speed on the shutter. My camera had a capability of 1/8000 and that is what I should be aiming for, if you excuse the pun.

So I tried it, and for the first time in an age I managed to take a really good photo of a bird in flight from a distance. Some of the images are still not as good as I would like, but a rolling ship is not a very good photography platform. I can’t wait to get onto dry land and give it a go.

But one thing that I suppose that I ought to mention is that it’s not a case that the quality of my work is deteriorating. Far from it. it’s that being around other people, many of whom are professional photographers, I’m realising that my work has been rubbish all along and I’ve never felt the urge to work on my technique and improve it.

This evening at the recap we had our performance, and I’ve taken a ukelele to bed with me. I’m determined to have a good crack at it over the next week.

But not tonight. I’m off to bed. It’s a busy day tomorrow as we are heading to Dundas Harbour and the abandoned RCMP post there. But the bad news is that Rachel the Archaeologist tells us that we have a representative of the Canadian Parks Archaeological Service on board the vessel so everything is being done “by the book’.

No informality with the rules and that’s going to cramp my style an awful lot.

And we didn’t step ashore today at all.

Saturday 24th August 2019 – TODAY I HAVE BEEN …

… learning to play the ukelele. And furthermore, I now know four chords (C, G, F and Am) and can play two songs. And if Status Quo can tour the world for 50 years with just 3 chords, I can do far better than that.

Last night I was wide awake again just before 04:00 and it took an age to go back to sleep again. Mind you, I comfortably beat the third alarm out of bed.

As I intimated yesterday, all events are cancelled for today. There had been talk of going into a couple of fjords in order to spot wildlife and the like, but there’s a howling gale raging on Baffin Island right now and while it’s not enough to cause us many problems out here 25 kilometres offshore, it could be devastating in a narrow and uncharted fjord. We are going to stand to offshore until it all subsides and head on north as soon as it’s safe to do so.

Consequently we had a series of on-board workshops. This morning I attended the photo-editing workshop during which I came to the conclusion that not only is my technique rubbish but the program that I use is even worse, and both must be improved when (ever) I return home, if not sooner.

After lunch we had a lecture on polar bears, during which I fell asleep and then made a fool of myself by asking a question that had been covered during the time that I was away with the fairies, and then the ukelele session that I mentioned just now.

I also took advantage of the computer technician who has now managed to stop (but not remove) the Walmart splash screen that has been annoying me, and I also went to see the expedition leader about a project that I have in mind.

Tea was with the photographer and I had a curry that had been specially made for me by the chef. Later, I finished (hooray) editing the photos and now I’m up-to-date for the month of August. But they are all going to have to be done again as I’m far from satisfied with the output.

But not tonight though. I’m off for an early night. Everything starts back up tomorrow if the storm subsides.

Friday 23rd August 2019 – I’VE BEEN FOR A RIDE …

… in a police car today.

No surprise there, of course, as many of my friends will suggest. In fact I should have been a policeman given the number of times that I have had to help them with their enquiries.

Having adjusted the clocks by two hours over the last couple of days, it will come as no surprise to anyone to learn that I was wide-awake at 04:15 this morning. I did manage to go off back to sleep at one point, only to be rudely awakened by the alarm at 06:00.

With the medication and breakfast, this was followed by a lesson in Inuktitut, the language of the Inuit people. It’s not easy because isolation and geographical displacement has caused there to be several distinct dialects and of course we have Inuit on board who come from four different regions. But we did our best.

Canadian Immigration people came on board to check our passports. I was shocked, if not horrified, to learn that two immigration officers had been flown out here from Ottawa on a specially-chartered plane simply to check our passports and then fly back. The cost – no less than $50,000 – is charged to the company transporting us and, eventually of course, to us.

Why they couldn’t have come on a scheduled flight, or why the Immigration Service couldn’t simply have chartered a Canadian Air Force plane, totally escapes me. It sounds something like a “make-work” scheme to me, arranged to screw some money out of a captive audience.

Having done that, we could board the zodiacs to take us to the shore. And to our surprise, there was a guy sitting on a beach chair at the landing point checking us off as we stepped ashore.

We’re finally in Canada after all of our exertions, at the settlement of Qikiqtarjuaq, spelt “Kekertukdjuak” on my Admiralty chart of March 1908 and known to generations of Arctic explorers as Broughton island, here just offshore from Baffin Island.

Strawberry Moose and I went for a long walk around the place to see what we could see, eschewing the touristy attractions. There’s a viewpoint up in the hills overlooking the straits so we went there to see the view and present His Nibs with a few photo opportunities.

On the way back I encountered a father teaching his son, aged about four, how to use a sling properly in order to bring down a flying bird when they go out hunting in the future. Naturally, I stayed around to watch and to learn and also to have a good chat. Modern materials certainly, but I was very impressed with the fact that ancient tribal knowledge is being passed on. Father told me too about the effects of climate change on his village and how the snowfall has dramatically reduced and temperatures dramatically increased.

Walking around the edge of the harbour I fell in with Dennis, our expedition photographer. We were having a good chat when a copper pulled up.
“Are you photographers?” he asked.
When we answered in the affirmative he invited us into his vehicle. He was off to check something out in the hills at the back of town where the views are spectacular, and he would take us along for the ride.

It goes without saying that we accepted with alacrity. And I was so distracted that I forgot about the church that I was trying to photograph when the copper pulled up.

Back at the beach we had to present ourselves again to the guy in the beach chair. And I couldn’t help thinking about Brian Hanrahan and the famous “I cannot tell you how many there were, but I counted them all out and I counted them all back”.

Back on board The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour after lunch I had a shower and a clothes-wash, and then we had a talk on kayak-building and then on the history of survival in the High Arctic.

After tea one of the Inuit guys played guitar and sang for an hour or so, and then I came back to my cabin. I’m having an early night. And I need it too. I’ve been at the photos again and I’m now up to almost 1200.

But I did find a really good photo of the young girl about whom I talked yesterday, which I had taken of her while she was standing perched on a rock, so I gave it to her as a little gift to cheer her up.

I told her that I admired how she had climbed up onto that rock.
“That was easy” she laughed. “Coming down was something else though”
I admired her spirit and sense of humour.

A lie-in tomorrow as we aren’t going far. There’s a storm blowing up down the road and we are going to loiter until it’s passed us by.