Tag Archives: early night

Sunday 15th August 2021 – THE OTHER DAY …

belle france baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall… when discussing all of the boats that were out there on the water, I believe that I mentioned how I would love to be out there when the harbour gates are near closing, in order to witness the stampede as the boats all headed back for port.

And sure enough, this afternoon I had my wish, and a lot sooner than I was expecting as well. The tide is advancing quite rapidly and even though this is my usual time to be out, you can see the mad dash for home already.

Belle France is well up there in second place to that cabin cruiser in front, but on the outside there’s a speedboat coming incredibly quickly, making quite a wave as he does so.

boats heading for harbour port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallRound on the pther side of the headland, things are much more advanced.

There are at least five and maybe even more small boats in the photo just here, all dashing for the port de plaisance while they still are able to do so.

Nobody would want to be stranded out in the bay during the night, especially if they have work to go to in the morning.

Not too many people out on the sea wall watching them though. I would have expected this to have been one of the best free entertainments going.

Last night I did without any kind of entertainment – free or otherwise – after the football. At the final whistle I staggered off to bed and that was that.

At 06:19 I was awake but if anyone thinks that I’ll be leaving my bed at that time of day on a Sunday they are mistaken. Even 09:10 is a bit optimistic. 10:40 is much more like it.

Ordinarily I would have said that that was a good sleep but there is tons of stuff on the dictaphone so I must have been quite disturbed (as if I’m not disturbed enough as it it).

I started off at the home of a couple of friends last night, doing a load of moving for them or something like that. I’d gone to her office room to talk to her but she was busy on the phone so I went into his office room kind of thing and he wasn’t there. I thought that I would wait for him to come back and I started listening to music and I thought “He has loads of LPs so I’m sure that he has loads of live cast-offs that would do for a live concert”. There was a box of strawberries and cream by the side of his computer and I was busy eating my way through those and scrolling through his Facebook screen. Suddenly I saw a message that he had sent me about Welsh Premier League football and I could see my reply under there. I thought that I’d better not be confused in this subject comes up again because I’ll be replying as someone else instead of me and reading my own replies. When they did come down they looked so young and it was very hard for me to believe that it was them. I couldn’t believe it. They were talking about everything, about how we don’t need to go out for a meal tonight but we can go for breakfast tomorrow somewhere. I said that my partner (and I couldn’t think of her name) was having to teach this afternoon but I’d been watching “Alfie” and this started off with some guys going to rob the home of a policewoman or something but the robbery had all gone wrong and several policemen in there and there had ended up being a gunfight and all these guys had gone to prison and been sent down for an enormous length of time. The Michael Caine character had to flee the country with his girlfriend and she was telling him all this bad news about everything else that was connected with this but still going wrong. He was pretty powerless where he was to actually do anything about it

This flat (and I wish that I knew which flat is was that I was discussing) is ideal for the kind of thing for a weekend retreat where you can come away from Paris on Friday and be here Friday night, and not have to go back until Sunday night and spend every weekend down by the sea.

A little later I was on my way to a football match and I arrived in Chester and was running late so I had to take a taxi. I went to the local rank but there were only little electric telephone box-type cars so I said to a guy standing near it “is that yours?”. Another guy immediately leapt out of a vehicle and asked “taxi?”. I replied “yes but just give me a minute to make a phone call. Is there a phone handy?”. I had a discount card that I needed to ring up to book. he showed me over to a phone but said “there’s still 12 minutes left on the meter. Where do you want to go? I said “Deva Road” so he replied “come on. We’ll get there before this runs out”. He ushered me into a red Rover V8 and drove me there. We had a bit of a laugh in the snow about how uneconomical his car was, everything. He said that it wasn’t that bad. As I got up the steps to the football ground, I did a bit of shopping and started to walk back. I didn’t go to the game at all if there had been one.

A group of travellers turned up in Palestine, amongst them a three year old boy that was donated by some parent in some emergency but when they got to Palestine they didn’t have a clue as to what they were going to do so they built some kind of meeting centre or something like that to show at least that they weren’t going to waste any time.

Somewhere as well there was a story of two 9-year-old girls who used to go around all these rock festivals and blues festivals filming the events. Their mother would form them into some kind or promotional video. I was there somewhere with a girl and I introduced her to people like John Hite and someone who wrote a lot of songs, Creedence Clearwater Revival (do I mean Bob Hite of Canned Heat?). I said “there you are, you have to meet John Hite and a few others and that’s something to tell your friends, isn’t it?”. She replied “most of my friends wouldn’t even know who people like that are”.

Later I woke up in a panic thinking that it was 16:00 and I had a flight back to Europe in an hour and I had so much to do. I grabbed all of my things and shot off to the airport and then spent quite a lot of time trying to find a place to sit down and sort myself out and pack everything. A couple of people came to join me and we were talking about the lack of seats in this place. The discussion drifted on to airports in North Carolina and the rudimentary facilities there, some experience that I could share with these two people as well.

As well as all of this, someone had asked me to do some tiling for him. I’m not very good at tiling but I went along to have a look. At my place I’d tiled on top of a piece of lino so I found a piece of lino and cut to size and cleaned up but instead of using soap I’d used fat and it made a right mess of everywhere so I had to take it out. There was fat all over the floor so I prepared to mop it up. Then he came in. He hadn’t really twigged on what was going on but he was inspecting it as much as he could and how I knew what was going to be done to the right size so that I’d cut off a piece of lino as a template. He went to look at it. I told him that it was wet so he said “we’d better open it out to dry” so he opened it out on his balcony. He asked me “your insurance liability is up to date, isn’t it?” Unfortunately I didn’t have any and I was beginning to regret having said that I would do this job for him the way that he was going on like this.

After the medication I came back in here to check my mail and then I went off to have a look at the view now that the tide is on its way out.

boats baie de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd that’s the view that greeted me looking out across the Baie de Granville and the English Channel this morning.

After the really wonderful few days that we have had, summer is now apparently over and we are back in winter again.

It’s pretty pointless trying to look for car ferries and sailing ships in that lot just there. It was raining too, the first time for about a week, and that didn’t help matters at all. We could have had Godzilla and the Loch Ness Monster out there this morning and I wouldn’t have seen them.

rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThe view down the coast was, if anything, even worse.

We can just about make out the white beach huts on the promenade at the Plat Gousset but our view doesn’t go very much beyond there right now. The Rue du Nord is swathed in raincloud too.

Hopefully the view will be better on the other side of the headland in the lee of the wind. The rain might not have reached there yet.

spirit of conrad aztec lady port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd while we might not have any rain, the view isn’t all that much better, which is a shame.

However Aztec Lady is back in town. She’s the blue boat over there that goes on a few exciting voyages every so often, although the current travel regulations have curtailed much of the more interesting sailings.

To her left, bow-end on to the camera is Spirit of Conrad, the boat on which we went down the Brittany coast last year. The last time that I’d heard of her, she was over at the Ile de Chausey but I met her skipper yesterday so I assumed that she had come home.

suzanga baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnother boat that was on her way home this morning in all of the bad weather is the trawler Suzanga.

She’s the new boat in town, having only recently arrived from the shipbuilders in Turkey, and she’s already out there earning her keep.

That’s several new trawlers that have joined the local fleet since I’ve been living here. It shows that contrary to all expectations, the local ship owners are rather optimistic about the future of the fishing industry here, and that’s always quite a good sign.

Positive thinking seems to be in rather short supply these days among some people.

zodiac port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallDespite the miserable weather, there’s plenty of activity in port this morning which is nice to see.

There were several zodiacs loitering aroind in the neighbourhood, almost as if there was a cruise ship like THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR anchored somewhere offshore.

But the girl who was driving this one came in, went up to the harbour wall, said something to a few people and then turned round and sailed back out again. So what was that all about then?

passengers boarding zodiac port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallMeanwhile I could see the heads of some other people down there and they looked as if they were sitting in a zodiac, but I couldn’t really see because the house roofs were in the way.

It took about 20 minutes for them to decide what they were going to do and I had to wait around all that time because there wasn’t anything else going on that I could see that would occupy my mind.

Eventually they threw a rope to someone on the quayside and they moved away, so that I could see what was going on.

people on board zodiac leaving port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallThey set off in the tracks of the one that had left earlier.

And I know that my expedition friends would be having heart failure seeing a moving zodiac with people standing up in it as it travels, even if they are hanging on to something.

The way that they pitch and roll and sway in the sea means that they aren’t as stable as they might be with a high centre of gravity when people are standing up. Everyone should be sitting down and luggage goes at their feet to keep the centre of gravity lower still.

By now I was becoming rather wet (as if I wasn’t wet enough before I started) so I headed for home and a nice hot coffee, and then start work on yesterday’s journal entry.

dropping off passengers blocking rue st jean Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAt some point or other during the day I was interrupted by noise from out at the back.

The streets around the old town are closed today as it’s the book fair, and there was a breakdown lorry trying to gain access . The driver had gone off to seek assistance but in the meantime, another car had come past him and then inexplicably stopped, rather selfishly, to let out his passengers while he goes to park the car.

Never mind that the road is narrow enough so that no-one else behind him could go past. That’s clearly unimportant as long as he’s OK.

The selfishness of some people never ceases to amaze me.

Writing my notes was a long and arduous task today, and took much longer than I expected. I even had a rather quick lunch to try to make more time but as you probably realise, something like that seldom seems to work.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThis afternoon I went out to have a look at the beach to see what was happening down there.

No afternoon walk seems to be complete without that these days.

The tide has come in quite quickly but there are still plenty of brave souls down there trying out the beach, sitting around and sunbathing.

There didn’t seem to be anyone actually in the water this afternoon but that’s not to say that there weren’t any.

kayaker baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere were other people in the water though, but in a different fashion entirely.

Like this kayaker for instance. He must have paddled his canoe quite a long way to end up here, and now he’s going to have to turn round and paddle himself all the way back, and pretty quickly too if he wants to find a slipway or launching pad still in the water.

And is that a fishing rod that he has poking up behind him? It can’t be all that comfortable fishing in a kayak. And where would be put his catch?

great cormorant baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallSomething else that was out here like piffy on a rock was this strange creature.

It’s actually a Great Cormorant and he’s a long way from home. His breeding colony is probably the one across the bay on one of the small islands facing Cancale. Several of those islands – the uninhabited ones – are know to be breeding grounds.

They were much more widespread than that at one time but predators like foxes and rats have seen off several colonies. In fact there’s a plan for the Ile de Chausey for a mass eradication of non-indigenous predators.

hang glider cemetery Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd when you compare this photo of the one that I took down the coast earlier today, you’ll see a great difference.

Of course, the rain cloud has now passed on to better things and the weather is so much nicer. In addition to that, the Bird-Men of Alcatraz have awoken and they have come here with their Nazgul to have an afternoon’s adventuring.

One of them has just taken off from the field by the cemetery and at the moment he’s fighting to gain control of his Nazgul, after which he’ll be heading this way.

yacht ile de chausey Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere didn’t seem to be all that much going on farther out at sea this afternoon but I did scan the horizon.

At one point I picked up something large and dark out by the Ile de Chausey and although I couldn’t imagine it being anything else other than the sail of a yacht I took a photo to check when I returned home.

Sure enough, it is a yacht although it’s too far out to see if it’s anyone we know. Black Mamba isn’t in port right now but she’s apparently in Cherbourg right now so I doubt that it might be her.

belem english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallHere is someone else who we might have seen over the last few days out there in the English Channel.

Unfortunately the weather is nothing like as clear as it was yesterday morning for us to give a positive identification but thinking that it might again be the training ship Belem, I made a note of her position.

Sure enough, when I returned, I could check on the historical radar plot and Belem was indeed at that spot round about that time of the afternoon.

hang glider pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere was nothing else going on out there of any importance (apart from the mad stampede that you saw earlier) so I pushed on around the headland.

As I crossed over the road, one of the errant Nazgul went swooping by over the top of the old bunker so I stopped to take a photograph of it.

And then I ended up in a mad stampede of my own down the hill chasing after my camera’s lens cap that I had unfortunately dropped.

Luckily I managed to avoid being run down by a car coming up the hill towards me. We both would have had a surprise.

f-gbai ROBIN DR 400-140B pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAt this point I was overflown yet again, this time by a mechanical device and I wondered why it had taken them so long to find me.

This is one that we recognise, having seen her many times just recently. She’s the Granville Aero Club’s Robin DR 400-140B F-GBAI going out on an afternoon flight.

She was first picked up on radar at 16:01 (my photo is (adjusted) 16:14) and she did a few laps around the Ile de Chausey and then up and down the coast before disappearing off the radar again near the airfield at 17:50

chausiaise joly france port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere was no change in occupant at the chantier naval today so I turned my attention elsewhere.

The ferry that we saw coming over from the Ile de Chausey, I wasn’t sure who she was. But I can tell you who she wasn’t because the older one of the two Joly France boats is sitting there at the quayside already with a load of people on the path just above her as if they have just gone ashore.

And here on the other side is the little freighter Chausiaise. So it can’t be any one of those two. But we’ll find out in a couple of minutes.

belle france entering port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd it didn’t even take that long before we were to find out.

Around the bend, alongside the sea wall and into the harbour came the brand-new Belle France, crammed to the gunwhales with people from the Ile de Chausey.

There were quite a few people on the sea wall by now admiring her as she appeared, and quite rightly too because not only is she a beautiful machine, she’s a sign of faith and optimism that there’s plenty of life left in the port.

And with the uncertain future surrounding the Channel Island ferries and the gravel boats, then this is good news.

man taking photograph car park boulevard vaufleury Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOne thing that I have to do before I finish.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that my pages are littered with inter alia photos of people taking photos. Today we had a large family group with a photographer who was taking pictures of them, with tripod and all.

This was far too good an opportunity to miss and I had to add a discreet shot of the event to my little collection.

Back here at the apartment I finally finished my notes from yesterday and then I joined up the tracks for the radio programme for tomorrow.

When that was done I attacked my pizza which was delicious. I haven’t made anything else though because I’m off on Tuesday to Leuven.

And now seeing as I’m exhausted, I’m off for an early night ready to start work tomorrow. Radio first of course, and I also have the injection man coming as well. I wonder if that will kickstart me into life for my trip to Leuven.

Thursday 18th June 2020 – LOOK WHO’S BACK!

thora port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hall.She’s not been gone for five minutes either!

Well, she has, actually. But certainly not 24 hours, in one of the quickest turn-rounds that I have ever witnessed.

As I went out for my meeting this evening with the radio people, who should be tied up in the port but Thora, one of the two small freighters that plies between here and Jersey in the Channel islands.

Things must be heating up over there if they are now doing runs as frequently as this.

thora unloading car port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallAnd as I watched, the crew put a pair of skids underneath the wheels of the car that was on deck and the crane driver lifted it off and onto the quayside.

There was quite a crowd watching it as well. It’s not every day that there’s a spectacle like this on the quayside. Free entertainment of any kind is well-worth having at the moment.

While all of this was going on, she was being refuelled too. I hope that none of the spectators was thinking about having a cigarette to pass the time.

But enough of this. Let’s return to our moutons. Just for a change I’m not going to mention anything about my early morning, except to say that it was another dismal failure – one of far too many right now.

And after the medication I had a listen to the dictaphone. And no wonder that it had been a long night. I HAD BEEN walking around a headland somewhere similar to here. There was a race going on and we had a yacht that was entered in it – a big streamlined thing. It was all about this yacht and preparing it and getting it ready.
Later on I was out buying cars. I already had two red Ford Consul II things parked in my drive that I had recently bought, and I saw this absolutely beautiful Zodiac III something like that so I went out and bought it. I thought to myself “well where am I going to keep this without everyone getting upset because my father is really annoyed about me having these two”? I thought that I could move those two on and sell them if I want and keep the black one and in the meantime park the black one down the street and hope that no-one realises that it’s mine. This led to a discussion about the radio. We were having a radio meeting and I remember looking at the interior of the boot of this Zodiac during this time and the boot was absolutely spotless, really nice. It led in the end to me having to apologise to someone at the radio for doing something but I can’t remember what that was either.
A bit later on I needed my driving licence changing over to a new one. I had to have a medical but who should be there giving me a medical but my doctor friend from school which of course took me by surprise. he gave me a medical and told me that I was fit to go and gave me all of the forms so off I went. But I suddenly realised that I hadn’t thanked him or even offered to pay. So I went to retrace my steps around this building but I couldn’t find where it was where he was staying, which office he was in. I was wandering around this building for ages trying to find his office
Later I was off waling down the street trying to walk for miles. One of the places that I had been to was that old BP garage that has figured in my dreams before on the edge of London. This time it had been demolished only this time there was a huge pile of sand there. I was thinking that I had better get back.

There was even more to it than this but as you are probably eating your meal I’ll save it until later.

Having written my notes I then went and had a shower – and afterwards I remembered to put the clothes back in the washing machine with some perfumed fabric conditioner, for I was off to the shops.

roadworks drawbridge rue cambernon granville manche normandy france eric hallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that there are roadworks or something going on somewhere in the vicinity.

So walking down the street I had a quick glance underneath the arch where the drawbridge is, and sure enough, they have a little mini-digger down there doing something and the road is closed off.

No time to go for a look now. I made a mental note to look again sometime today when I would be passing and see if I could find out exactly what is going on.

electric wiring rue lecampion granville manche normandy france eric hallDown into town I went, and along the Rue Lecampion.

There was a cherry-picker here from one of the local electricity companies. It looks as if they are restringing a cable between two of the buildings. Whether someone passing by underneath has snagged it, I couldn’t really say.

First stop for me was at the railway station. My old fogeys railcard has expired and I need to renew it.

But no I don’t. having waited for about half an hour in the queue behind some woman booking a load of railway journeys for all of her family, I was informed that all season tickets and cards are automatically extended by three months due to the virus.

Some good news at last and, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, it’s been a long time since I’ve had any.

At LIDL I just bought the basic essentials. There was nothing there that caught my eye particularly, especially as I’m not eating all that much these days. But on the way back I called at La Mie Caline for a dejeunette

bad parking rue des juifs granville manche normandy france eric hallAnd how long is it since I’ve featured some bad parking on these pages?

It used to be a regular feature but things seemed to have quietened down with the virus, but now they are kicking off again. This guy here is parked half on the pavement and half across a pedestrian crossing, making life difficult for all of the pedestrians.

This is a service bus route too and the road is already narrow enough as it is. The selfishness of some people beggars belief.

back home I remembered to tae out the washing from the machine. And now the place smells RATHER LIKE THAT TART’S BOUDOIR ON NEWFOUNDLAND where we stayed back in 2010.

For a good part of the rest of the day I’ve been dealing with my studies. At long last I’ve finished week three of my accountancy course and although I’m well aware of the principles it’s still quite taking.

As well as that, I’m deep into week 4 of my music course. We’re doing diminished scales and chords this week and I do have to say that the practical aspect of this course is now way beyond me.

However I never ever pretended that I could play the piano. I’m here for the theory and for whatever crumbs that I can pick up that have fallen off the table.

Lunch was taken, for a change, on the wall overlooking the harbour. It was a lovely day, even if there was a bit of a wind. And I wasn’t alone either. A lizard came to join me and he enjoyed the bits of my pear that fell to the ground

78 aqj aeroplane pointe du roc granville manche normandy france eric hallLater on I went for my afternoon walk around the headland.

And it wasn’t just on the sea or on land that there were crowds of people. As I walked along the footpath I was buzzed by a low-flying aircraft. I couldn’t really read its number and one of the problems that I have now that I’ve been working with 3-D images is that I kept on trying to rotate the image to see it clearer.

Anyway, I’ll do some research into this plane at some point and see what I can find out about it.

fishing boats heading for home baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france eric hallMy perabulation continued around the headland to the Point by the coastguard station.

And it looks to me as if the harbour gates are now opening and there’s enough water by the fish processing plant because the fishing boats, large and small, all now seem to be making their way back towards the harbour to unload.

At least, I assume that they are heading back to unload. There isn’t the usual crowd – or cloud – of seagulls accompanying them as we have seen in the past when a loaded fishing boat comes into port.

fishing boats fish processing plant port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallBut if those two aren’t loaded, then it seems that everyone else is.

By the time that I had arrived at the fish processing plant everyone else had arrived and there was quite a queue at the quayside waiting to unload.

Quite a large collection of vehicles on the car park too. They are obviously expecting a bumper harvest today. And that is always good news for the port of course. We could do with all of the business that we could get.

heavy equipment leaving on lorry rue du granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallAnd here’s a thing.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that last week we saw some more plant and machinery being delivered to the boat ramp down on the rue du Port.

It looks as if I shall never know now why they were there and what is going to become of them. A lorry has turned up and is now taking them away again.

That’s a mystery to me.

lorry tipping rubble place d'armes granville manche normandy france eric hallBack here I carried on with my work and then headed off to this meeting.

On the way out I met a small lorry that was tipping a pile of rubble into the area that has been reserved for the workmen. It looks as if they are cracking on with whatever they are doing.

At the Grand Café I met the guy who wants to see me.

On the radio we run a series “Evenements et rencontres” where they interview people who visit the town or where there’s an important event taking place. And I’ve done a few of those, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall.

As it’s getting near to summer they need to build up a bank of programmes and as there has been no-one interesting or any important event taking place just recently they are scratching round for likely candidates. And they’ve decided that they want to interview me.

No idea why. I can think of 1000 people who have many more exciting things to say that I ever have. It rather reminds me of the legendary “Desert island Discs” programme where Roy Plombley learnt that Alistair MacLean was in tow so he dashed off to interview him.
After 20 minutes of dismal interrogation, the producer shouted down to Plombley “for God’s sake ask him about his books” only to receive the reply
“he hasn’t written any”.
It seems that the Alistair MacLean whom they had in front of them was the Alistair MacLean, President of a Canadian Tourist office and not the famous author at all.

A classic case of Omelette sur le Visage and the programme was never broadcast.

The meeting that we had tonight at the Centre Agora didn’t really accomplish a great deal, but we made a few plans for the future. Nothing that particularly effects me very much.

excavating steps rue lecarpentier granville manche normandy france eric hallSome of us went back for a drink afterwards at la Rafake. I stayed for about an hour or so – I have to do my best to be sociable even if I don’t feel much like it.

And on the way back I went to check on the excavations at the rue Lecarpentier. I only had the small camera with me so the photo isn’t the best.

I shall have to go back tomorrow with one of the good ones and take a proper photo, and undertake a proper inspection of the works while I’m at it. Whatever it is that they are doing, it seems to be quite a serious undertaking.

trawler with nets out english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallAs I passed the viewpoint in the Rue du Nord I noticed some activity taking place out to sea.

With only the small camera, I couldn’t do a really good job, but it seems that not only do we have one of the larger fishing boats out there, he had all of his tackle out there too.

A good close-up of his net dragging behind him would have made a really good photo and it’s always the case that I seem to be in the right place at the right time with the wrong gear.

Back here I was a baked potato with baked beans for tea even though it was late. Something quick and easy.

Following that I started to write up my notes but being overwhelmed with fatigue I left off and went to bed.

Tomorrow is another day and I can finish my notes off tomorrow.

Tuesday 7th January 2020 – I WAS RIGHT …

… last night when I doubted that I would be able to stay awake long enough to finish my notes for the day.

About half-way through I felt myself going off and although I managed something of a recovery, it wasn’t for very long and 5 minutes later I was in bed under the cover and away with the fairies with the notes unfinished.

At least – I think that I was away with the fairies because when I checked the dictaphone this morning it was bearing a rather strong resemblance to my bank account, or to the cupboard of Old Mother Hubbard.

One thing about crashing out early was that I was awake early too – 05:35 in fact. But I still managed to have to fight to beat the third alarm call out of bed.

After the medication, I made a start on today’s project. And that is to do another radio programme for my weekly rock show. I’m actually working now on the first programme after Brexit and while I’m not allowed under the terms of my contract to “engage in polemic”, nevertheless I have a cunning plan.

As Pete Seeger once famously said, “songs are weapons” and I haven’t given up the fight.

fork lift truck shellfish port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallThere was a break for breakfast of course, and having worked all the way through the morning afterwards, it was 13:20 when I went into town for my dejeunette.

Down at the fish-processing plant I was treated to some excitement. The first fishing boat in was unloading and it look as if they had a big pile of crabs.

It wasn’t appropriate to go for a closer look because they were working quickly, so I had to content myself from here.

victor hugo port de granville harbour  manche normandy france eric hallThe harbour gates were closed so I went that way round over the path on top.

Here’s a photo of Victor Hugo and what’s interesting is not what’s there in the photo but what’s not there. Yes, Granville seems to have gone out for another trip somewhere.

And I shouldn’t be surprised if Victor Hugo will be joining her at some point because her bridge was busy. There were three our four officers having a discussion on board her

thora port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallWhile you admire the photo of Thora here, I’ll tell you about my encounter with a guy from the Port Authority.

He’d come out of the Port Authority office and was clearly looking very official, so as he strolled around the harbour I fell in with him.

Having asked the right questions, I can tell you that the gates open 105 minutes before High Tide and close 105 minutes afterwards.

And furthermore, he told me that there has been no gravel boat in port for over two months and he has no idea when the next one will be arriving

thora port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallThora was there and all loaded up. Those big builders’ bags had been all loaded on board.

One thing I’ve been meaning to do is to chat to the skipper but once more the ship was deserted and no-one was about. So that was that.

Instead, I went and picked up my dejeunette from La Mie Caline and came back home for lunch.

trawler baie de mont st michel brittany coast granville manche normandy france eric hallThe afternoon walk was taken in the cold and the wind (although not as windy as it has been).

Once more, there was a light out in the Baie de Mont St Michel over by Cancale on the Brittany coast, and I’ve seen enough of these now to be able to make an educated guess that it’s a trawler-type of fishing boat.

And here you are. I cropped the image and enlarged it when i returned home and sure enough, I was right about that too.

yacht baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france eric hallAnd that wasn’t all of the excitement either.

There was another yacht today out there in the Baie de Mont St Michel. Not as extravagant as the one out there yesterday with the bright red sail but still nice enough.

But what wasn’t there though was Thora. She must have cleared off quite rapidly as soon as the harbour gates were open.

Back here, I had another little … errr … relax – something that is annoying me because I was doing so well just now – and then pressed on with my project.

There was another brief pause because our “outside broadcast” from the Bain des Manchots – the Swim of the Giant Penguins – at Donville les Bains was being broadcast. And for those of you who missed it, you can HEAR THE PODCAST at your convenience, provided that you take your phone there with you.

It was 19:20 when I finally finished my radio programme – it had taken me far longer than I expected seeing as I’d made really good progress this morning.

What with being late I had another helping of the curry – lengthening it with some frozen spinach and one of the remaining endives.

Alone again on my evening walk, and my run was agony. I was ready to give up long before I hit the ramp although I pushed on nevertheless.

That good spell of health that I’ve had this last couple of months is coming to an end unfortunately . All the signs are there.

shellfish containers port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallAlthough Thora is no longer with us, there’s more activity down at that end of the port.

They look like the shellfish cages and so that can only mean one thing, and that is that Normandy Trader must be on her way into port. Those are part of the load that she fetches and carries for this Jersey Co-operative thing.

So I headed home, all alone in the wind and light rain that had now sprung up.

So having done the radio programme that needed doing, tomorrow I’m going to freeze the carrots that I bought, deal with the orange and ginger drink and then start on the programme of the football supporters. I want that finished by the time that I come back from Leuven on Sunday.

That is – if I ever get there, because I’ve just heard that my train from Lille to Brussels is cancelled.

Saturday 14th December 2019 – I’VE HAD A …

… very quiet day today – hardly a surprise bearing in mind my medical treatment yesterday. It does actually take it out of me.

And so I was in bed quite early and I relied on my usual fall-back – watching a film on the laptop – and that sent me off to sleep within minutes.

Plenty of time to go off on my travels too. We started off with this musician giving a concert. It was all about him singing a song. One minute he was on the stage and next minute he wasn’t. It wasn’t until we analysed some kind of sound analysis kind of thing that we realised that he was actually underneath the stage and he’d been digging an escape tunnel out. And it could follow because of the sound the way the escape tunnel bent down towards the centre of the earth to give him a little extra height over his head to get further away and how there had been microphones in there that broadcast the sound to give everyone a false sense of something or other and allowed him to be able to sing his songs while he was busy burrowing his way through. But there were a few joins in what he was doing quite obviously like getting into the hole, all this kind of thing and I couldn’t work out exactly where these joins had taken place. Obviously the tape had been cut to allow him to get into this tunnelway and even though all the microphones were still there he couldn’t actually work out at what point he’d actually got into the tunnel and where he was when he’d said or done certain things and it was all so confusing. I remember waking up in a cold clammy sweat because of course the whole idea of me going into a tunnel like that would be impossible, claustrophobia and all of that.
Some time later on there was something about some small children. I’d been doing something that involved having to look after them and take them somewhere. I remember saying to someone that she was right about them in the car because they were travelling in the car having to go to somewhere. Of course it was a special treat so they never said anything to anyone, to keep it secret so they wouldn’t get told off about it. I’d been doing something around Crewe so someone asked “which pub did you go to?”. I said that I didn’t go to any pub. I had the kids with me. They said “you should always go to a pub”. I said “no, not with the kids with me” and we had a discussion about that.

At that point the alarm went off as usual and I was up and about long before the third alarm went off. There was the medication and breakfast of course, and then for a few hours I didn’t do all that much at all.

college de valk tiensestraat  leuven louvain belgium december 2019Round about 10:30 I went out for a walk and ended up going right the way around town.

But before I’d gone too far, I took a little diversion. At the end of the Tiensestraat near the junction with Muntstraat is the College de Valk. I’ve walked past there on dozens of occasions but somehow I’ve never gone into the grounds for a nosy around.

That kind of thing is something that I ought to be doing, so I took myself in there today.

december college de valk tiensestraat leuven louvain belgium There’s a path around the side of the building that seems to lead onto the back of the Monseigneur Ladeuzeplein and so I went for a look to see what I could see.

What actually came to my attention however were these four busts of who I imagine were at one tim quite important people. And important people of recent date too judging by the clothes that they were wearing.

The names didn’t hold a great deal of significance for me. In fact, although I did look at the notices, I can’t even remember their names now. That’s how much notice I took of them.

december creche grote markt leuven louvain belgium Instead of continuing on down the path I turned round and headed for the direction of the Grote Markt.

That’s where everything happens in Leuven, especially at weekends and especially at Christmas too. They set up a creche here and all kinds of christmassy objects and people come from miles around to admire the handiwork of the people who prepare it all.

Even I was there admiring it for a while and then I went off to Flying Tiger and Delhaize for a little shopping

december origin'o vismarkt leuven louvain belgium In fact I went on quite an exploration this morning.

Yesterday I was in the Vismarkt doing some shopping in Origin’O – the Health Food and vegan shop – but I hadn’t ever been for a good walk around the square to see what goes on there. The answer is “not a lot” but at least I can now say that with confidence

And you can see the Origin’O in this photo. It’s down in the bottom right of this photo.

december schrijnmakersstraat leuven louvain belgium There are several little streets that lead off the Vismarkt and while I may have been down one or two of them I certainly hadn’t been down all of them.

This is the Schrijnmakersstraat – the Street of the Carpenters – and if there had been carpenters living in some of these houses in the 16th and 17th Century then carpenters must have been on a good salary, that’s all I can say. I thought that this little photograph take through an archway came out quite well and shows off some of the character of the street.

Mind you, it’s enough to make me wonder how much a room in a place like this might cost to rent.

december in den boule cafe augustijnenstraat leuven louvain belgium At least the carpenters who lived in the street wouldn’t have too far to go to wet their whistles.

Around the corner, on the corner of the Augustijnenstraat and the Vaartstraat is the local public house, the “In Den Boule”. It looks very typically Flemish is style and character and I might have eveb neeb tempted to stick my head in the door for a butcher’s had it been open.

That will have to be something for another time I reckon. I’ll be back in four weeks’ time I imagine.

After a while I ended up back in the Diestsestraat, the pedestrianised shopping street.

december french writing on shop diestsestraat leuven louvain belgium One thing of which I haven’t done very much is to talk about the linguistic battles in Belgium. That’s a whole exciting topic that I could spin out for weeks … “not with a bayonet through your neck you couldn’t” – ed … but basically after the expulsion of the Dutch in 1830, the French language and culture took the ascendency for quite some considerable time in Flanders.

You can still see signs of this if you look. A jeweller’s shop would be expecting to have as its patrons the upper-class, wealthy citizens rather than the peasants. And so the old carving on the wall above the window of this shop advertising its former occupants is written in French.

But after World War II the writing was on the wall for the French language in Flanders. In fact, given a choice between speaking English or French as a second choice, the Flemish will almost always opt for the English language today.

All in all, I was out for a couple of hours on my little perambulation. I’m quite a big fan of Leuven.

Round about 12:45 I made my way back to my little room, calling in at the Spar supermarket for some bread seeing as I had forgotten. And back here I made myself some butties for lunch.

During the morning I’d had a little shut-eye and this afternoon I was away with the fairies yet again. And I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s inactivity that’s causing me to crash out like this. It doesn’t seem to bother me when I’m being busy.

christmas market herbert hooverplein leuven louvain belgium december 2019Once it went dark I went outside again for another walk.

All of the Christmas lights were illuminated and the Christmas market in the Herbert Hooverplein and the Monseigneur Ladeuzeplein looked quite good too. There were an enormous number of stalls and an even greater number of people milling around admiring what was going on.

The University library was looking a little bit sad though. I thought that they might have made a greater effort to do something to show it off.

christmas lights oud markt leuven louvain belgium december 2019There was plenty of time for me to have a good walk round the town this evening to inspect the Christmas lights and I made the most of it.

The Oud Markt was looking particularly beautiful this evening. One thing that it shows us here is that there’s no need to go to extravagant lengths with lights in order to make a place look magnificent. This is exactly how a place should be, in my opinion.

My little walk around took me up to about 19:00 when I came back for tea. What with one thing and another, I have walked miles today into almost every crook and nanny of the town and the fitbit is showing over 10 kms and 136% of my daily activity.

My burger, pasta and veg with tomato sauce for tea went down a treat after that little lot.

But talking about walking, up to now there’s a train for Granville going out in the afternoon (although the situation might change at any moment of course), about three hours after my train from Brussels arrives (if it runs and is on time, of course – anything might happen tomorrow!)

Now, if there is no Metro, I was looking for other alternative ways of crossing Paris. With about two and a half hours to play with, I’ve been thinking about walking.

It’s 7kms in pretty much a straight line so seeing as I have the time I’m going to try it on foot. The route is quite level with no climbs and goes past some interesting places so it should be quite exciting if it comes off.

But as I’ve said, anything can happen about the public transport in France while this strike is on, so nothing is taken for granted. You’ll probably find me sleeping underneath the arch of a bridge over the River Seine at this rate.

So on that point, I’m going to bed. I’ll watch a film until I fall asleep, all ready for my exertions tomorrow. And exertions there will be.

And one final word. While I was out on my travels I took about 50 photos of Leuven and its Christmas lights, and I didn’t have much of a clue how to fit them all onto the blog. In the end I created a web page to display them and you’re quite welcome to go and have a look.

december creche grote markt leuven louvain belgium
december creche grote markt leuven louvain belgium

december rijksarchief vaartstraat leuven louvain belgium
december rijksarchief vaartstraat leuven louvain belgium

Thursday 5th September 2019 – I WAS RIGHT …

… about the bed in here.

It took me a while to settle myself down but once I’d gone, I’d gone for good and I had the best sleep that I have had for at least two weeks.

Off on a few voyages too, for the first time for a week, and I’ll tell you all about them once I’ve organised the dictaphone.

During one of my voyages, I heard one of the participants call my name, so I sat up bolt-upright. I’ve not had a moment like that for several years and when I did it was usually a plea for help or for me to get in touch.

For a fact, I know that Castor was in one of my voyages, and so, when I heard the call, I wondered if it was she. But who knows, and this is not the moment for me to find out, I reckon, even if, to paraphrase the words of Adolphus Greely whose expedition came to grief on Cape Sabine, “I know of no law, human or divine, that was broken …”.

If Castor wants to get in touch with me then she can. She has the means or if not, she can find them. But it’s not the moment for me to be taking any initiative.

For once I slept right through the alarms and it was 10:30, when the telephone rang, that I awoke. I wasn’t quick enough to answer the telephone though.

Instead I carried on with a few tasks that needed attention – I still wasn’t in work mode – then round about 14:30 went for a shower and a clean-up.

Back in bed afterwards until Hannah came home and we had one of our lengthy chats. I’m glad to see her doing so well after her spell at University.

She’s been offered a chance to study for her CPA but she’s not sure. I was explaining to her the benefits, particularly if someone else is paying for the course.

Darren came back later and we had a chat while Amber made tea. And even though it’s only 21:45 I’m off to bed.

I have a lot of sleep to catch up on.

Thursday 1st August 2019 – HERE I AM …

… holed up in a dusty motel at a dusty crossroads in a dusty town in Montana called Broadus. Yes, I’m in another State that I had yet to visit although I did cross over a corner of Wyoming (which I visited in 2002, whenever that was.

All this dust explains very well why this area is called the “Powder River” country. Because of all the dust in it, the river is said to be “too thick to drink, but too thin to plough”.

Last night was a beautiful night’s sleep. I went to bed, thoroughly exhausted, before even 20:00 and despite awakening on several occasions during the night, I didn’t finally show a leg until the alarms went off.

There was plenty of time to do everything, including a shower and general spruce-up. Make myself look nice. I even managed breakfast too.

So then packed and off into the sunset looking for the Walmart that I glimpsed yesterday evening. And that took some finding too.

‘Twas a good idea for a good clean-up because the lady at the check-out told me “ohhh do talk some more. I just LOVE your accent”. She didn’t knock anything off the bill though.

At a suitable petrol station in the vicinity I fuelled up the Kia. And it’s not as economical as you might think – 11 US gallons (about 40 litres) to travel about 610 kms.

It had been cloudy and overcast earlier but as I headed into the Black Hills it started to rain. Not enough to dampen my spirits (I was in surprisingly good form today and I’ve no idea why) but rain nevertheless. It didn’t detract from the journey and the beauty and I even wired up the dashcam so that you can see it later.

Round about midday I arrived at Deadwood and headed for Mount Moriah cemetery up in the hills. There I found, lying side by side, the graves of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane. And listened excruciatingly as a Septic tourist guide explained to his tourists slowly, in words of one syllable (and they were Septics too) that he is NOT the same person as Buffalo Bill.

I despair.

After a while looking around the cemetery and the scenic viewpoint there I headed into town where I was waylaid. This time by a motorcycle restorer who allowed me to catalogue his exhibits.

Pride of place without any doubt at all must go to the Indian 4-cylinder in-line from 1939. Rare as hen’s teeth, which is hardly a surprise as the torque on that motor rotating in the same direction and the heat at the rear cylinder would have made for a very brief riding experience.

Nevertheless I would have taken it home in a heartbeat.

Main Street was nothing to write home about. The parking fee was horrendous so I didn’t stop. I filmed it instead for posterity. Nothing of the original seems to remain. The place has been swept by fire on several occasions since the Gold Rush.

For the first time since Toronto (whenever that was) I had lunch. A butty with hummus and bread followed by a banana. And then I pushed on for almost 140 miles in the now-glorious sunshine across the corner of Wyoming and into Montana.

Reaching Broadus I found a motel. And I’m glad that I did because it’s here that I need to be. It’s in the Powder River Valley and all long here for 50 miles north and south are the sites of skirmishes and fully-fledged battles between the Native Americans and the US Military farces.

Everything about this motel is very 50s, except the landlady who looks old enough and stern enough to have fought the Indians out of this plot of land single-handedly back in the 1880s and, of course, the prices, which are very 21st-Century.

But there’s no other motel for at least 60 miles and it’s right slap-bang where I want to be so it’s not all bad news.

My neighbour is friendly too. Another motorcyclist on his way to the Sturgis motorcycle rally. We had a good long chat about bikes and all sorts of things.

The filter on the air conditioner hasn’t been cleaned in donkey’s yonks though, and having let it run for a couple of hours, my room now smells just like my socks did before I washed them earlier. Yes, I’ve done the laundry, and washed myself at the same time.

Two showers in a day! Whatever next?

The landlady lent me a soup bowl so I’ve had tomato soup (with some pasta) and bread for tea. Three meals today. I hope that it’ll stay in today. And plenty of vitamin drink to keep up the health even though I’m not eating much.

Tomorrow I’m off on the war path so now I’m off to bed. Another night like last night will do me the world of good.

Sunday 5th May 2019 – TODAY HAS BEEN …

vegan hummus granville manche normandy france… a baking day. Or, rather, a food making day.

We started off by making another batch of vegan hummus. You can see all of the ingredients here, plus some coarse-ground black pepper of course.

I started off by cutting the pepper into tiny cubes and then roasting it.

While that was doing, I took my whizzer, added a pile of chick peas, half the weight of tahini (sesame seed paste), chick pea juice, olive oil, garlic, sea salt, black pepper and tarragon, and whizzed it all up into a nice creamy paste.

It doesn’t need to be too liquidy so I usually don’t add much liquid and oil at first, but keep on adding it during the mix to make it right. Remember that you can always add more liquid, but you can’t take it out.

Once it was done and mixed how I wanted it, I added the pepper and olives, and gave them a little whizz, just enough to distribute them throughout the mix and not disintegrate them.

Some of the mixture went into the freezer and some in the fridge for lunch for the next week or so.

making an apple pie granville manche normandy franceLater on, I made an apple pie.

Having an affinity with Belgium, I used boskoop apples, brown sugar, desiccated coconut, raisins, cinnamon, nutmeg and a couple of vegan pastry rolls

Some lemon juice too, of course.

So first you spread out one of the pastry rolls onto your cutting board, and using the baking tin as a template, cut the pastry round the tin to make the top of your pie, allowing for a 1cm overlap.

Then, grease your baking tin, unroll the second pastry roll and put it in the tin, pressing down VERY LIGHTLY the roll to fit the base properly

Cut the apples into quarters, decore them and cut them into very thin slices. Then add them into the baking tine.

Add them in layers, and on top of each later add some lemon juice (to keep the apples white) some brown sugar, raisins, desiccated coconut, nutmeg and cinnamon.

By the time you’ve built up the layers of filling, the base of the pastry should be completely covered.

Moisten the edge of the pastry in the pie where it overlaps the lip of the pie tin, and then put the pastry top that you cut out earlier on top.

apple pie granville manche normandy franceWith a fork, press down the edges onto the lip of the pie dish so that the pie top and the pie bottom are completely sealed. Then trim off the excess pastry that’s overhanging the pie dish.

Brush the top of your pie with milk, and then prick holes into it with a fork to let out any steam that might build up.

Bung it into the oven at 200°C until it looks like this.Probably 40-45 minutes, something like that.

So what do you do with the excess pastry and apple that you have left over?

apple turnover granville manche normandy franceRoll out your patry with your rolling pin until it’s flat. Keep on cutting off the irregular edges and adding it back to be rolled in, so that the pastry resembles a square as best as you can.

Add your apple, coconut, spices, raisins, lemon juice etc into the centre, and then fold the pastry over the top and, dampening the edges, squeeze them together like a cornish pasty so it’s all sealed togather.

Brush with milk, poke holes to let the steam out, and then bung that in the oven too until it looks like this.

Yesterday I remember saying that knowing my luck, with Sunday being a Day of Rest and no alarm, I’d be wide-awake pretty early on.

And I reckon that 03:50 corresponds pretty closely to this definition. But there was no chance of me rising from my stinking pit at anything like that time. 08:50 was much more like it.

Plenty of time of course to go a-rambling. I was with Liz Ayers last night in Crewe round by the Wistaston area. I’d been taxiing and we had quite a few jobs going on including taking Mrs Urion home for lunch and pick her back up at 13:45. But she was already booked in at 13:45 for a trip to the bank, so I wondered if I was expected to combine the two trips or were they separate. In between jobs I was socialising with Liz then nipping out to do jobs. Liz was talking to a load of other taxi drivers – not me because I didn’t get on with them. She was chatting to him who lived in Ruskin Road. I went past twice, shook (or rather touched, because that was all he was willing to do) his hand and went off to do a job. She said that she was going to stay behind and have a drink. She was chatting to this guy and said they were going to have a drink together. I went back home, and Roxanne was there. I told Roxanne what Liz was doing and she commented that she bet that she was flirting with this guy and she wanted to see. So I put her in the car and we went to this pub at Wells Green and sure enough that’s what she was doing. The dirty look on Roxanne’s face was priceless.
Later on I was out around Nantwich last night with someone or other and we bumped into this friend of mine. I’d been searching the internet about something and had discovered something about Burt Reynolds – his real surname was Diamond because his father had been a diamond cutter. He played bass, including a weird 2-string bass. I happened to mention to this friend of mine that I’d seen this. He said “yes, but he just happened to have been in the right geographical position. I played bass one day and never had the recognition”. “One day!” I retorted. “I’d played bass for years and never had any”. To which he replied “yes, but I played in the daytime”. This conversation went on and he headed off towards London Road – he was probably staying there with his work. We discussed food and he had been to a Chinese restaurant somewhere for his tea. I ended up back home staying in some kind of strange apartment with two bedrooms à l’enfilade living with a woman who had two kids. They had the other bedroom. She said they should both be in year 2 or 3 but one was much smaller than the other. She’d had serious health problems, including incontinence. We talked quite a lot about these kids. She’d had severe medical treatment but was so much better. I was wondering why this friend of mine never said that he had come to stay down here. I’m sure we could have put him up somehow – there’s a comfy sofa for a start, he would have loved that. The conversation drifted away from there and I ended up in the kitchen. My mother was in there doing the washing up, with a length of green garden hose coupled up to the tap and a high-pressure “squirter”. Every question I asked her was answered with “I’ll tell you tomorrow”. I tried to find out what was going on and in the end she said “do you know my neck cancer specialist? Steven? He’s actually died of cancer and I’m going to his funeral tomorrow”. I said that it happens to all of us. We’re all going to get it some time or other and let’s face it – by the time that we get to our age if we haven’t had a serious health crisis already we are doing really well. She didn’t understand for a minute what I meant. I went outside, to find myself at les Guis. there was a load of my friends out there. They had moved Caliburn but there was a pile of smoke everywhere. Piles of wood had been cut. They said that while I had been in the house they had cut all of this wood for me and put it in stacks and cleared the drive that was all overgrown and got the van down there. I thought that this was really nice. All this wood was nicely stacked up. It just needed cutting to length and then I could burn it. I thought that this was marvellous.

After a leisurely start to the day I attacked the dictaphone notes and by the time I was ready to stop to make my hummus for lunch, I was down to just 129 entries.

pointe d'agon lighthouse manche normandy franceThe hummus was delicious as I expected, and once I’d dined I went out into the gorgeous weather.

It really was nice out there today, and I took quite a few long-distance photos of things miles away, to see how the new lens performs.

This is a photo of the lighthouse that is just offshore from the Pointe-D’Agon

mouth of the river sienne manche normandy franceThere’s a really interesting point along the coast where the River Sienne enters the sea.

Because of tidal drift of sedimant, the mouth of the river now faces south rather than east.

And we can see in the background, if we look carefully, the wind-farm near Barneville-Carteret

st helier jerseyJersey was standing out quite clearly on the horizon today too.

The houses of St Helier and that area, 54 kms away, stood out quite clearly in the distance and have cme up quite well in this photo once I enhanced it.

And while I was at at, I was photo-bombed by a seagull. It reminded be very much of that famous World War II photo that a German photo unit took of the UK radar masts at Dover from Cap Griz Nez and managed to pick up a beautiful image of a Supermarine Spitfire that buzzed into the image.

metal detector beach plat gousset granville manche normandy franceThe tide was on its way out and the crowds hadn’t yet flocked to the beach.

There was one early bird out there already though, and I couldn’t at first make out what it was that he was doing. But cropping the photo and blowing it up (which I can do these days despite modern anti-terrorist legislation) I noticed that he seemed to have a metal detector with him.

He didn’t look as if he was doing all that much good with it though

Back here, I regrettably crashed out on my chair for 20 minutes, but I managed to wake up in time for the football. It’s the Welsh Cup Final between (predictably) TNS and Connah’s Quay Nomads. And just as predictably, TNS won it at something of a canter, 3-0.

Mind you, it’s probably fairer to say that the Nomads lost it. The first goal was the Nomads central defence being half-asleep. Greg Draper is probably the best striker the Welsh Premier League has ever seen and you can’t give him even half-an-inch of room, even when he looks as unwell as he does just recently.

The second goal was the fault of the keeper losing his sense of position, and the third goal was the classic keeper’s dilemma from a set-piece of “do you cover the onrushing forwards in case they make contact with the ball, or do you cover the shot in case the onrushing forwards miss it” and in the end being caught in no-man’s-land between the two.

And the match might have had a totally different outcome has the referee awarded to the Nomads at least one of the three penalties that I would have awarded had I been refereeing.

After the match I made my apple pie and then cooked a vegan pizza, which was just as delicious as normal.

trawler english channel jersey channel islands granville manche normandy franceLater on I went out for my evening walk around the Pointe du Roc.

The harbour gates must have just opened because the sea was alive with trawlers.

Here’s one of them heading off into the sunset, with the coast of Jersey away in the distance. How long they will be continuing to go off that way depends upon the outcome of Brexit.

objects offshore brittany coast granville manche normandy franceBut my attention was drawn by some kind of object on the horizon.

I couldn’t see at that distance what it was so back here I used my “crop – enhance – enlarge” technique to see if I could identify it. And I have to say that I’m still none-the-wiser about what it might be, over there on the extreme right of the image.

What I’ll have to do is to take a similar photo in a day or two’s time to see if it’s still there. If it is, it’s a lighthouse. If not, it’s a ship.

Back home, it’s only 21:30 and despite my little repos earlier this afternoon, I’m exhausted.

So badger the writing of the blog. I intend to take full advantage of my fatigue by going to bed for an early night.

hauteville sur mer manche normandy france
hauteville sur mer manche normandy france

buoy jersey channel islands
buoy jersey channel islands

yachts english channel islands
yachts english channel islands

trawler ile de chausey granville manche normandy france
trawler ile de chausey granville manche normandy france

trawler english channel granville manche normandy france
trawler english channel granville manche normandy france

trawlers english channel granville manche normandy france
trawlers english channel granville manche normandy france

trawler baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france
trawler baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france

Thursday 2nd May 2019 – I’VE HAD A …

… pretty quiet day today.

What probably helped was the fact that I was actually in bed before 22:00 and asleep pretty quickly. And with just one or two tossings and turnings during the night I was wide awake and raring to go (after a fashion) at 05:30.

Not much chance of that happening though. But nevertheless I beat the third alarm, and by a good distance too.

Plenty of time to go on a nocturnal ramble too. I was back working for would you believe the Conference Board and Barbara the boss was there. I’d been filing papers, doing the usual Clerical Assistant work and she came to see me. We had quite a lengthy chat and she asked if there was anything else that maybe I ought to be telling her. I couldn’t think of anything at all – I thought that work was going reasonably well and I was coping reasonably well and this was how things kept on for a while but she kept on trying to push me into coming out with some admission that I was struggling. “Well, if you have anything else to say, don’t forget to say it out loud and I know that you might be pushing the envelope here – we all try to do that at times but there’s really no need to” and she was coming out with all these comments and I was trying to work out what it was that she was trying to get me to say because to me everything was going reasonably well. The subject drifted round to Ged, one of our employees. I mentioned something and she said “you know Ged left a few months ago” and I didn’t know at all. “I made him breakfast the other morning” she said “yes, he came in and told me that you have made him a couple of slices of toast for his breakfasr” I was surprised that he left and she replied “you know that Olivier left, and you wouldn’t have expected Ged to remain after he had gone”. He had told her about the toast and a memo or something like that. He’d only come here twice to say hello to people and I must have misunderstood a memo that I had seen talking about his employment and that he was still here. But she was pushing me to make some kind of admission tha I wasn’t coping with the work and I couldn’t think what the hell it was that she wanted me to admit to.

repairing medieval city wall skip loader lorry boulevard des 2eme et 202eme de ligne granville manche normandy franceAfter breakfast I had a shower and then wandered off to the shops.

There was a brief stop at the building site in the boulevard des 2eme et 202eme de Ligne where they are repairing the medieval city walls. They are going quite a good job here, and getting on quite quickly.

There was also a lorry there loading up a skip full of rock that they had removed from the foot of the walls, so I took a photo of it loading up.

thora port de granville harbour manche normandy franceAnd further on down the hill, I had a quick look over the wall into the harbour to see what was going on down there

I noticed that Thora was still there tied up to her little quayside. I was expecting that with the rather rapid turn-rounds of recent dates she would have been gone by now, but The turn-rounds can’t be all THAT quick.

And in parentheses she was still there when I came back too.

fibre optic cable Avenue du Maréchal Leclerc granville manche normandy franceCarrying on along the rue couraye and up into the Avenue du Maréchal Leclerc past the railway station, I noticed that they are digging up the pavement over there too.

We saw them the other day in the rue des Juifs digging up the pavement, and subsequent enquiry revealed that it was the Fibre-Optic cable-laying team.

And so I’ve no reason to suppose that it’s anyone else except the fibre-optic team digging up the work that they had done here a few months ago as well.

LIDL was something of a disappointment. It was swamped out with people and I don’t know why because there was nothing of any importance on offer. And not only that, they didn’t have my preferred bread and I had to make do with a different one.

Back here, I dealt with the photos for the last day and a half and added them to the blog entries. I’d gone to bed early last night before I had time to do it, remember.

That took me up to lunch which was once again indoors because although it was quite sunny outside, there was a terrific wind.

After lunch I got onto the Belgian Pension people. They promised me a form to fill in, but it never arrived. I need them to send me another one.

After that I unfortunately crashed out for half an hour or so, sitting on my chair.

barrel 105mm gun atlantic wall pointe du roc granville manche normandy franceOnce I’d come back to my senses (such as they are) I went out for my afternoon walk.

No hang-gliders today, and no-one working on the bunkers either. But as the guy yesterday told me about the 105mm gun that was in the bunker, I went off to track down the barrel which I was told was still somewhere on the site.

And this looks pretty much like it to me.

breech 105mm gun atlantic wall pointe du roc granville manche normandy franceThe breech was also said to be here, and so I went to look for that too.

And this is what I reckon might be the breech of the gun. This is the bit that would mount on the deck of the submarine and the barrel would slot into it.

You can read more about the 105mm gun here.

There were crowds of people out there today despite the wind. And someone offered me his wife, but I demurred. I said that I had had one once before.

trawlers baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy franceAlthough the tide was on its way in, the harbour gates were closed.

They mustn’t have been far off opening though because there was another queue of fishing boats and trawlers queueing up outside, waiting for them to open.

But I didn’t wait for them, I went back home, pausing on the way to admire Thora still moored in the harbour.

And back here, I did another bunch of blog entries. And I’ve done these before, but I can’t find where the notes might be. It would save me a lot of work if I knew where it was.

This was interrupted my a message from the Préfecture. They wanted sight of my bank statements so I downloaded them and sent them off. And then they couldn’t read *.xls format so I had to reformat them as *.html files.

Tea was a burger on a bap with potato and veg, followed by fruit salad and soya cream, and this new mustard is wicked!

insulation house renovation rue du nord granville manche normandy franceHaving done the washing up, I went for my walk around the walls.

First stop was at the house renovation in the rue du Nord to see if the concrete had come. But instead, they are laying insulation on the floor of the garage.

I’m not quite sure as to why they would want to do that. The insulation would be better-employed under the floor of the living accommodation above. There isn’t likely to be any heat in the garage, so it’s not likely to escape. It’ll stop the heat of the ground coming up into the garage.

lle vivier sur mer brittany franceIt was a beautiful sunny evening too and the sun was reflecting off the towns along the coast.

I took a few photos tonight, one of the Brittany coast and cropped this section out of that one because it had come out so well.

Those buildings over there, in what I think is the town of Vivier-sur-Mer are 16 miles away would you believe.

Back here now and I’m going to to bed. I’ll try for another early night and see if I feel any better tomorrow. I need to keep it up.

thora port de granville harbour manche normandy france
thora port de granville harbour manche normandy france

hauteville sur mer manche normandy france
hauteville sur mer manche normandy france

brittany coast granville manche normandy france
brittany coast granville manche normandy france

st benoit des ondes brittany france
st benoit des ondes brittany france

Monday 15th April 2018 – THE BAD NEWS …

…is that my blood count has gone down, and rather dramatically too. 9.7 last month, and this month it’s 9.3.

That’s rather depressing as far as I am concerned, especially as this last couple of days I’ve been feeling rather more sprightly and a little (just a little) of the old me has come back.

The worse news is that this medication that they are giving me – it’s not available in North America. That means that any plans that I had for an extended voyage into the unknown will now have to be shelved and that’s a dreadful disappointment.

Now I shall have to think of a Plan B now. I’m sure that I can rustle up something from somewhere.

Last night was a rather bad night. I didn’t end up going to bed until late, and then I couldn’t settle. What made things worse was that I awoke at 04:15 and couldn’t go back to sleep. In fact I was up and about working before the alarm went off and that’s something quite rare for these days, isn’t it?

It was an early day at the hospital so after the medication, the breakfast, a shower and a clothes-wash I hit the streets.

television film crew grote markt leuven belgiumRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that I’m frequently stumbling across camera teams taking photos of people, places and objects in the streets, and I delight in taking photos of them taking photos of other people.

Today, though, I’m really in luck.

It’s not a camera crew in the traditional manner of things, but it’s actually a film crew. I’m not sure what it was they were doing though, or why they were doing it.

statue father damiaan brusselsestraat leuven belgiumIt was an extremely pleasant walk through the early morning sunshine too up to the hospital.

Walking down the Brusselsestraat I noticed that the sun was shining brightly on the statue of Father Damiaan at the back of the Sint Jakobs Kapelle.

Father Damiaan is something of a religious icon in Belgium. He was a Belgian priest who devoted his life to treating leprosy sufferers in Hawaii ane eventually died of the disease.

renovating apartment building Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan leuven belgiumAnd do you remember the block of flats in the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan that we saw them stripping out a couple of months ago?

As I was somewhat in advance, I stopped to take a photo of it today.

They are cracking on with the stripping, and it looks ro me as if they are going to be refitting it. I’ll have to look more closely at it in a couple of months to see where they are at.

At the hospital it didn’t take them long to couple me up to the pipes, tubes and bottles but it took longer than expected all told because for some reasons the nurses wouldn’t come when I summoned them to increase the dose, and also when I summoned them to disconnect me when it had finished later on in the afternoon.

They obviously know about me right now.

A couple of people have mentioned to me the possibility of a selenium deficiency. I had it checked last month and they gave me the results. It should be in a range between 5.0 and 15.0 and I was registering 5.7. Pretty low, but not low enough for them to worry about.

Most of the afternoon in my comfortable chair was spent in a semi-conscious doze as the effects of the last couple of days caught up with me.

building work hospital sint pieter brusselsestraat leuven belgiumAfter they threw me out I headed for home, passing by the Hospital Sint Pieters.

While they might be planning to knock down the main building (the one on the left), they have been renovating one or two of the older ones on the site and in the past we’ve seen a few pics of the work.

It’s definitely all taking shape right now and I don’t suppose that it will be long before the protective fence is taken away.

While I was out on my travels I called by the Delhaize for a pile of shopping for the next couple of days.

Back here I couldn’t summon up the force to do anything. I crashed out on the sofa for a while. Struggling up the hill with a bag of heavy shopping takes it out of me, that’s for sure.

Tea tonight was a vegan burger with potatoes and vegetables, followed by a banana and soya ice cream. That was extremely delicious. And then I had a good walk around outside for a while.

It’s still quite early but nevertheless I’m off to bed. I’ll watch a film I suppose, which means that I’ll drop off to sleep in the middle of it as usual. It works every time.

And then tomorrow I’ll have to think of a Plan B.

Friday 15th March 2019 – WHAT A HORRIBLE …

… night that was!

Even though I went to bed early, I was almost immediately stricken by a bad attack of cramp.And this went on for several hours and I was in total agony. What was even worse was that some of the attacks occurred spontaneously without even moving. I have never hurt so much in all my life.

At some point during the night I did manage to go off to sleep. And to go on a voyage too. To some kind of touristy island in the Mediterranean where there was a typical British family trying to run a bar. They were making a lot of money at it too catering for all of the Brits who went there, but there was clearly something else going on because although one side of the cashing-up briefcase was full of cash, the other side was empty and there was a very neat slit in the bottom of the case that someone had made to get into the case and take the money. In the end, they decided to move to an island just offshore where there was a vacant bar. There was some kind of festival that had taken place on there, where four people charged a bull, and then the five of them turned round and charged the rest of the people sitting at the table. They decided to revive the festival, but the first day there it was pouring down with rain and they were so dispirited that they didn’t want to open. In the end, I volunteered to go because even though there wouldn’t be any custom,the place still needed to be open. So I went upstairs to the cafe but two policemen followed me up and they fixed two white triangles in the window to indicate that the place was closed by the authorities. Apparently the new owners hadn’t applied for a licenceand they were fed up of Brits coming over and flouting all of the regulations just because they didn’t suit. All of this ended by the youngest son going off to an island off the coast of Madagascar to open something but he had been to the authorities to sort out all of the licensing issues first.

We had the usual medication and breakfast – and my porridge took longer than at home – probably due to the lesser power of the microwave here. and then I spent most of the morning catching up with some work.

street market herbert hooverplein belgiumAt lunchtime I went off down the Tiensestraat to the Delhaize in the centre of town.

My route took me round by the Herbert Hooverplein and despite all of the time that I lived here in Leuven I didn’t know about the existence of this market.

It stretches right round into the Ladeuzeplein too. It was closing down now that it’s lunch time so I’ll have to come here earlier the next time.

gilets jaunes bondgenotenlaan leuven belgiumFNAC came up with nothing either which was a shame, so I headed off down the Bondgenotenlaan.

On the other side of the road there seemed to be a gilets jaunes demonstration, but closer examination revealed that it was in fact nothing more than a group of nursery school on their way for an afternoon out.

So I left them there and went on to the Loving Hut.

And the Loving Hut was a wash-out yet again. But at Delhaize I found stuff for lunch as well as some vegan burgers, tinned vegetables and pasta sauce for tea for the next few days.

With having had a really bad night I spent most of the afternoon drifting off into a state of semi-consciousness broken only by a shower and a clothes washing session.

And then tea – and I overcooked my burger which was a shame but the rest of it was nice, especially the sorbet and pineapple.

demolition of fritkot tiensesteenweg leuven belgiumLater on, I went for a walk around the Tiensesteenweg.

The fritkot there, where I used to go for my chips when I first started living at this end of the town had closed down a while ago. Tonight, I noticed that they were in the process of flattening it.

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

While I was here, I peered in at the window of the motorbike shop – but I couldn’t see much in here.

But now it’s an early night. I’ve an early start tomorrow and off to Koln. And the weather forecast is exactly as I expected. Pouring down with rain.

street market monseigneur ladeuzeplein leuven belgium
street market monseigneur ladeuzeplein leuven belgium

roadworks paving grote markt leuven belgium
roadworks paving grote markt leuven belgium

railway bridge leuven belgium
railway bridge leuven belgium

Thursday 14th March 2019 – HERE I AM …

… back in a little room in my hostel place here in Leuven. All settled down nicely and ready for bed even though it’s only 20:30. I’ve had a very busy day today.

With having had a reasonable day yesterday and a reasonably early night, I was awake again at about 04:30. However I must have wandered off back to sleep at some point because the alarms awoke me at 06:00.

I’d managed to go off on a voyage during the night too. I was driving a coach taking the nurses to and from the nurses’ home to the various hospitals in the Crewe area (just like I used to do with the taxis). There was one particular nurse on a particular run that I was told
finished an hour earlier than the others so she needed picking up
separately. And so I started to make enquiries. I was examining the route and discovered quite by chance that had I not had my “thinking head” on, I would have missed out a section of the route and missed a couple of nurses. But I was still at school and still in my school uniform and this girl, someone out of my class, came over to me and asked about the nurses’ bus. It turned out that she was the nurse concerned. In fact she finished at 13:30 and at the old cottage hospital at the back of the school so I could pick her up in my lunch break. When she found out that I was to drive the coach, school uniform and all, she looked at me with total surprise. But nevertheless she agreed to wait in the main hospital building (the “house”) for me to pick her up.

Just for a change, I was out of bed quite smartly, long before the third alarm went off. First task was to make my butties, and then to do the washing up.

The rubbish went outside too and then I came back to finish off the packing and to tidy up.

I’d finished much earlier than anticipated too so I could have a look at events around the world before I set out. And there’s the usual chaos in the UK too as they flounder around helplessly in the mire of their own making, the laughing stock of the whole of the world.

Braving the wind and the rain I headed off to the station. And there was a long wait for the train because I was early. So I treated myself to a very rare coffee.

gec Alstom regiolis 84565 granville manche normandy francePlenty of time to read the notices too. And it looks as if there’s a project to electrify the railway line and put high-speed trains on the line, cutting up to 30 minutes off the journey time to Paris.

And as well as that, there’s talk of restarting the railway service to St Malo, and that will be exciting too.

We only had a six-carriage train this morning so we were all hemmed in like sardines. But at least the voyage was uneventful and we were just three minutes late arriving at Vaugirard.

All of the excitement was reserved for the metro at Montparnasse. There was an abandoned suitcase in the long passageway down to Metro line 4 so we couldn’t travel that way.

At a quick glance (and I could maybe have done better with more time) the best way seemed to be Line 6 to Etoile and then Line 2 to La Chapelle, right past the Eiffel Tower.

There was far less walking at the Montparnasse end, but so much more at the other end. And with the longer journey time, it took me just about 55 minutes for the journey. Luckily there was plenty of time.

4534 Thalys TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt gare du nord paris franceWhile I was waiting for my train to be called I ate my butties, and then joined the queue.

It’s one of the old Reseau 38000 PBA trainsets, number 4534, and we’ve travelled on this one before – and quite often too. It seems to be regularly rostered onto this journey.

The train was crowded too. I had the misfortune to have some kind of group of people in my carriage and they took ages to sort themselves out.

sncb class 18 electric locomotive gare du midi bruxelles belgiumBut that journey was pretty much uneventful and on time too – plenty of time to catch the 15:56 to Leuven.

I’m glad that I had purchased my rail ticket on line before I came because it’s much less stressful than rushing around trying to do it at the last minute.

Up the road to my little accommodation. There’s a nice room here for me, so I had a relax for a while and then went out to Delhaize for the shopping for breakfast tomorrow.

And much to my surprise I was feeling quite sprightly too – not like I have been feeling for a while

On the way back I sorted out some chips from the fritkot down the hill and then fight my way into the tin of beans because there’s no tin opener here.

Mango sorbet and pineapple for pudding, and now even though it’s only 20:30 I’m off to bed.

It’s all very well feeling sprightly, but it wears me out in the end.

Tuesday 12th March 2019 – WHO’S BEEN A …

… busy boy then today?

But first, let me say that over the whole of the day I’ve put my feet outside the door for just about 10 metres today. There’s a howling gale going on outside with torrential rain to boot, and I’ve no intention whatever of suffering outt here unless I absolutely have to;

But back to events in here.

The alarms went off at usual and much to my surprise, I was up and about at 06:45.

Plenty of time to go on a little wander during the night too. I was wandering around somewhere that could easily have been Altrincham. There was some kind of walled yard with a creaky wooden gate, so I glanced in and I saw what I thought was an old twin-cylinder Honda motorbike. So I went in. It was in fact a small single-cylinder Honda with a large chain sprocket. I spoke to the owner and joked that I thought that it might have been an old CB450 “black bomber”. There were several old mtorbikes in this yard, so we had quite a chat about them, so he took me inside to the shed where there was a 200c Triumph single, a BSA250cc single and a couple of other old British motorbikes. And I was wondering which one of these I could fit into the back of Caliburn

The medication and breakfast were thus quite early, and then I settled down to work.

The first job was to attack the photos. I did an hour or so, and then carried on after tea. So that’s another couple of hundred dome for the month of September.

But in between, I attacked the European Paper Mountain and all of that is now done. The shredder didn’t make it right to the end though. It gave up with about a dozen papers to go and not even dismantling it to clean it seems to have worked. In the end I had to tear up the rest of the papers by hand.

Next step was to go through all of the loose papers that I had brought with me. I’ve sorted right the way through those, added a lot to the next load of shredding, sorted and filed those for 2016,17,18 and 19, and put the earlier years ready for filing in a spare binder in due course.

Finally, I went through all of the unopened post that had accumulated down on the farm when I wasn’t there. That’s all opened, sorted, some of it binned and the rest of it filed away.

And then we had a giant clean-up of the floor with a brush to sweep up all of the paper bits.

As well as all of that, I also had to make a telephone call to the Isle of man to sort something out, and that involve writing a couple of e-mails. All in all, about an hour was spent on that.

And I’ve rearranged things in the kitchen too, to make more space and to be better-organised. I shan’t know myself at this rate.

This all took me up to tea time, when I made myself a vegan burger with potatoes and veg, followed by chocolate cake and coconut-flavoured chocolate cake. And as I expected, it was delicious.

If that isn’t enough, after tea I fried some onios and garlic, added the remaining packet of tofu and herbs, fried it for a while and then bunged it all in the slow cooker. Even as we speak, it’s simmering away.

That’s for the shepherd’s pie that I will make tomorrow.

So even though it’s not yet 22:00, I’m going to go to bed. I’ve had a very busy day as you can see and I’m exhausted.

A good sleep will do me good, I reckon.

Sunday 17th February 2019 – WHAT A BEAUTIFUL …

… day today.

Shame that I had to spend much of it sitting about on the Gare du Nord in Paris.

The mystery of why my train was cancelled was revealed today, and I really ought to stop myself from being so cynical. Apparently some workmen digging a hole by the side of the railway line during the week had come across an unexploded bomb from World War II.

It was still viable and so it needed to be defused. This had been programmed for Sunday morning and the entire neighbourhood had been evacuated and all of the trains stopped while the bomb squad defused it.

My suggesting that they run a Eurostar full of Brits past the bomb to make it explode was greeted with a great deal of support by the railway staff, but was not (unfortunately) put into practice.

For once in my life I had leapt out of bed with alacrity (and you all thought that I slept alone!) when the alarm went off.

And without my breakfast and without my medication, I attacked the packing, making sandwiches and the tidying up. As well as doing a back-up on the big computer. I also copied a pile of updated files onto the USB key that I take with me when I travel.

brocante place charles de gaulle granville manche normandy franceOff into town with my heavy load – I don’t know why I need so much stuff just for a couple of days, and past the Place General de Gaulle.

Here, they were setting up a brocante for the day. They always seem to have them when I’m either not here or on my way out.

And when I have been here to attend, there’s never been anything actually worth buying.

aux dames de france rue couraye granville manche normandy franceMy route to the railway station takes me from the Place General de Gaulle up the rue Couraye.

I’ve seen this building before but I’ve never really taken much notice of the facade above the shop window.

It seems that this has been a ladies’ outfitters since it was built, judging by the inscription in the concrete work above the first-floor windows.

gec alstom regiolis gare de granville manche normandy franceThe train wasn’t in when I arrived so I had a coffee and a sit-down outside. It was a pleasant morning for the time of the year. No-one would ever have said the middle of February

Once the train pulled in, we all piled aboard, me clutching the coffee that I had bought from the machine.

Drinking the coffee and nibbling away on the biscuits that I had bought for breakfast, off we set. And for a couple of hours I had a comfortable sleep on board – just a little tossing and turning here and there.

eiffel tower paris franceDuring all of the time that I’ve been travelling this line, I’ve never really managed a good photograph of the Eiffel Tower.

Today, thought, the conditions were perfect and I finally managed to take a good photo of it.

And in thz background to the right on the crest of the hill you can see the Eglise Sacré Coeur away on Montmartre.

The metro though Paris was crowded today, but it was a strangely deserted Gare du Nord to which I arrived. Just a few people about and only two people in the queue for metro tickets. So seeing that I’m running out, I took the opportunity to buy another packet of 10 tickets.

In the Thalys office they wouldn’t put me on an earlier train – for the simple reason that there wasn’t one.

There was another Thalys on charter to a private group and the girl telephoned to see if I could go on it. The reply on the phone was “yes” – but at the gate it was “no”. So we had a big discussion about that.

4343 Thalys TGV PBKA gare du nord paris franceAnd as it happens, it didn’t make any difference anyway because nothing was moving until 15:00.

Eventually I was ushered onto the TGV anyway, and at 15:01 we hit the rails. What surprised me about that was that the train was half-empty. It seems that everyone had been turned away or decided not to travel.

Another thing that surprised me was that we didn’t seem to take the usual route either. It looked completely different until after Charles de Gaulle Airport.

push me pull you gare de bruxelles midi leuven belgiumAt Brussels I had a wait for my train, so I went to the shop for something for pudding and a bottle of water. I always seem to develop quite a thirst when I’m in Leuven.

The train that brought me from Brussels to Leuven was heaving. It was one of the “push-me-pull-u” express trains from Oostende and there were kids all over it brandishing sand-encrusted buckets and spades.

They had clearly been enjoying themselves in the fine weather – and who could blame them?

I took the lift up to the gallery to walk across the railway lines, only to find that the lift on the other side was out of order. So I had to go back down again and brave the subterranean passage.

Here at my little hotel complex I had rather a surprising conversation with the manager.
“There’s something that I’ve always been meaning to ask you. Didn’t you used to play in a rock band years ago? Your name looks quite familiar”.

Now I can’t remember what I was doing even half an hour ago. So I’m bewildered how come some Flemish guy might remember my name from the only time my name ever appeared in the Music press – when I played bass for a well-known drummer from Wales in an ad-hoc band that played for just one night at Crewe Teachers’ Training College in 1976 or 77.

Having had a good sleep on the train I wasn’t really all that tired so much to my own surprise I didn’t crash out on the bed. Instead, I had a few things to do.

university library herbert hooverplein leuven belgiumA little later I went for a walk into town for my pizza. After all, it IS Sunday.

Walking past the Herbert Hooverplein, the University library looked splendid, all illuminated in the dark. And with no-one around to spoil my view.

It was just inviting to be photographed and so I duly obliged.

Having had tea now, it might only be 22:00 but this is probably the cue for an early night. I need to catch upon my sleep and save my strength for the battle ahead tomorrow.

Friday 8th February 2019 – I HAD A MESSAGE …

… today on the telephone. “Your parcel will be delivered on 11th February”.

Now I don’t have a delivery planned or an order outstanding so I didn’t have a clue what it might be. I suspected that it might be some kind of scam.

But then I had another idea.

I had a look at the British Government’s Public Service website. And sure enough – there on my private page is a little note “Passport Application status – ‘issued'”.

That was quick – a lot less than the 6-week time limit that is advertised. That can only be good news. So after Monday, I can push on with a project that has been sitting on the back burner for several weeks.

In view of my recent difficulties I decided last night to go to bed somewhat earlier than of late and even not set an alarm for the morning to give me an opportunity to sort myself out. And so waking up at 06:35 wasn’t really quite what I had in mind.

That’s not the best of it either. I was awake at least three times during the night – once as early as 01:20. So you can see that I’m becoming rather fed up of this.

Three different travels during the night too. The first one involved some woman who had been charged to make a meal – possibly a pie – for some kind of meeting. But as time passed on, it became clearer and clearer to everyone that she was an alcoholic and as time passed on she became less and less coherent until she ended up sitting there in an alcoholic stupor.
The second part of the night’s activities involve me being in Macon, where I spent a summer once back in my youth. I was travelling somewhere which involved passing by the big airport at Lyon and so it involved taking the TGV but although we were certainly on the rails (which will come as a mjor surprise to regular readers of this rubbish) we were actually on board a coach.
Thirdly, I don’t remember very much about this but it involved some woman and there was some passing reference to her connection with Shirley Temple – people were comparing her with that actress for some reason, although presumably not with Graham Green’s review.

After breakfast I pushed on with the photo text database. What with one thing or another that took me right up until midday. And I’m now well back into December’s photos. It’ll keep me out of mischief for quite some time.

There was an interruption at Midday though. Rosemary rang me up for a chat and we were on the phone putting the world to rights for a good hour and a half. Not that our ideas will ever be accepted by anyone – they are far too serious and sensible.

After lunch, I cracked on with updating some of the blog entries. I’m now back as far as 23rd January and there will be more done over the weekend if I’m not interrupted by other events.

lifeboat statue baie de mont st michel st pair sur mer granville manche normandy franceTalking of interruptions, I went out for my afternoon walk.

You can see what the weather was like simply by comparing this photo here with the photo taken from the same spot yesterday.

There was a howling gale, a spattering of rain and it was freezing cold. Not the right kind of day to be out at all but I have to keep on keeping on, as Bob Dylan famously said.

lighthouse atlantic wall bunker pointe du roc granville manche normandy franceOne thing that occurred to me was that while I’ve been on my travels I haven’t taken a photograph of the lighthouse down the road just recently.

You can also see one of the bunkers of the Atlantic Wall to the right of the lighthouse, and in the foreground is one of the emplacements for the large naval guns that were positioned here.

You might also be able to see a cannon of some description immediately to the right of the lighthouse. there are several all dotted about, all of them damaged

chantier navale tidal harbour port de granville harbour manche normandy franceA little further around the Pointe du Roc there was a good vies of the tidal harbour.

The tide was right out and all of the boats were aground on the mud bank.

St Pair-sur-Mer is in the background shrouded in the mist, and on the right is the ship repairer’s.

As for the objects in the foreground, I’m not sure what they might be. I reckon that they are lobster traps whereas others think that they might be dredging buckets.

Back here I carried on with my work – until about 17:30 when, overwhelmed with fatigue, I crawled into bed for an hour or so.

And then I was off on my travels. I was doing something and Rosemary was there. I had a cat, a black one but one that had the same shape as my grey one, and Rosemary was trying to pick it up. I ended up on a rafter going across the ceiling and the cat could only climb so far after me, so she took a flying leap – and missed, falling to the floor. But she found something else – a piece of wood – to climb up and come to join me on my rafter.

There were a couple of sorry-looking potatoes left over in the kitchen so for tea I made a potato and lentil curry. Totally delicious it was too.

storm high seas plat gousset granville manche normandy franceOutside later this evening, the wind wasn’t all that strong but the sea was probably the best that I have ever seen.

The waves were totally astonishing – roaring up over the sea wall at the Plat Gousset and soaking just about everyone and everything down there.

It seemed like hours, but it was only about five minutes that I was standing there watching them. It was quite hypnotic.

On the way back, I bumped into someone who actually said “bonsoir”, and also Minette who had a little stroke.

But now I’m going to go to bed. have a nice early night. Shopping tomorrow and I need to be on form. Not that I feel much like it.

storm high seas plat gousset granville manche normandy france
storm high seas plat gousset granville manche normandy france

storm high seas plat gousset granville manche normandy france
storm high seas plat gousset granville manche normandy france

storm high seas plat gousset granville manche normandy france
storm high seas plat gousset granville manche normandy france

storm high seas plat gousset granville manche normandy france
storm high seas plat gousset granville manche normandy france

storm high seas plat gousset granville manche normandy france
storm high seas plat gousset granville manche normandy france

storm high seas plat gousset granville manche normandy france
storm high seas plat gousset granville manche normandy france

storm high seas plat gousset granville manche normandy france
storm high seas plat gousset granville manche normandy france

storm high seas plat gousset granville manche normandy france
storm high seas plat gousset granville manche normandy france

storm high seas plat gousset granville manche normandy france
storm high seas plat gousset granville manche normandy france

storm high seas plat gousset granville manche normandy france
storm high seas plat gousset granville manche normandy france

storm high seas plat gousset granville manche normandy france
storm high seas plat gousset granville manche normandy france

Monday 21st January 2019 – AS I HAVE SAID BEFORE …

… “and on many occasions too” – ed … the big problem about going to bed early is that there is a tendency to awaken early.

But waking up at 03:50 is a bit on the ridiculous side.

And waking up with a thirst that you could photograph too, without very much in the way of drink to assuage my thirst either. Half a litre of drink and I could quite easily have polished that off.

But regardless of that, I couldn’t get back to sleep and just lay awake, reminiscing on the nocturnal ramble that I was having and which has now gone completely out of my mind, until 06:00 when the alarm went off.

I heard the other two alarms too, but the next thing that I remember was someone banging a door in the building – at 07:18. I’d gone right back to sleep again. I’d been on a nocturnal ramble too – pushing a shopping trolley around a supermarket in Stoke on Trent stocking up with food and toilet paper – things like that-until the trolley was overloaded. People were looking at me and so I said that I was stocking up now before prices went through the roof, and the strange thing about that, as I even recognised at the time which is surprising, was that I said it in French. In Stoke on Trent they struggle to even speak intelligible English.

Having had a bad day yesterday, I wasn’t feeling much better today. For two pins I would have turned over and gone back to sleep.

drainage work tiensestraat leuven belgieBut I went through the morning ritual and then hit the streets. Glorious sunshine and a temperature of minus 4°C. Not the day for loitering.

But loiter I did for at least part of the journey.

In the daylight I stopped to take a photo of the drainage work that I had seen in the Tiensestraat last night. They were all out there, the workmen, working on it. I hadn’t noticed the pipes last night so they may have been anly just delivered

21 january 2019 fire herbert hooverplein leuven belgieA little further on down the Tiensestraat I was distracted yet again.

Fire engines and ambulances and barriers in the Herbert Hooverplein told us the story. There had been what I assumed to be a fire in one of the blocks of flats just there as you can see, and the emergency services had been called out.

They didn’t look to be in all that much of a hurry so I imagine that there wasn’t anything serious going on and that the crisis had passed.

building work brusselsestraat leuven belgieMy perambulations took me down the hill into the Brusselsestraat where there was more of interest going on.

There’s a huge plan to knock down the big modern hospital that is now surplus to requirements and also to refurbish a couple of the derelict 19th Century buildings in the vicinity.

They are water-washing the brickwork of one of these buildings, so that have shrouded it all off to avoid inconveniencing the passers-by.

I was early at the hospital and it was just as well because the reception area was heaving. It must have taken 15 minutes to be seen. And it was even worse downstairs. My appointment was for 09:50 and it wasn’t until 10:35 that I was taken off by a nurse to be fitted out.

She didn’t speak English so we had my insertion interview in Flemish. Things are definitely improving from that point of view.

There wasn’t a comfy seat for me either so I had to make do with a normal one. It definitely wasn’t my day.

But there s some good news. The protein loss has stabilised and the blood count has increased. And I’ll tell you for nothing that it certainly doesn’t feel like it

And that’s not all either. You never know what you are entitled to until you ask, and I asked a speculative question. The answer was quite surprising and it’s opened up a whole new vista of opportunities that I thought might have been closed.

It was long after 16:00 by the time that I was kicked out. And then I had the rounds of the chemists to do. There seems to be issues of supply of certain of my medications. I had to try three chemists before I could find what I needed – and then a lot of it was substitutes.

The Delhaize was next, to buy the food for the next couple of days. And as well as vegan sorbets and vegan margarine, I picked up some Vegan wienerschnitzels which I hadn’t seen before and … “SHOCK” … “HORROR” … some vegan cheese, which seems now to be on sale there. I forgot to buy some drink though, so I had to call up at the big SPAR near my accommodation.

Back here, I had a shower and washed my clothes. There’s a curtain rail right over the heater here so they won’t take long to dry. And that was the cue for a coffee.

The vegan schnitzels were delicious, with potatoes and frozen peas and carrots. and followed down by raspberry sorbet.

But having had a day where I wasn’t able to have a good sleep, I decided on an early night. I didn’t even do the washing up. Tomorrow is a Day of Rest while I gather up my resources and gird up my loins ready for the journey back home.

21 January 2019 fire herbert hooverplein leuven belgie
21 January 2019 fire herbert hooverplein leuven belgie

building work brusselsestraat leuven belgie
building work brusselsestraat leuven belgie