Tag Archives: early start

Saturday 28th August 2021 – I’VE HAD A …

… miserable day today. And much of that is my own fault too.

Despite having, for what has been just recently an early night – so early in fact that I was nowhere near finished yesterday’s journal entry – it was a real struggle to force myself out of bed this morning when the alarm went off.

It was a crawl into the bathroom and even after a cold-water wash I didn’t feel any different. I had the medication and then came back in here to start work.

After an hour or so and ot having done very much at all, I reckoned that I may as well go for a coffee.

A quick check of the time told me that it was in fact just 05:25 – it seemed that I had forgotten to switch off the alarm from last Saturday. No wonder I was feeling so dreadful.

What I did was to switch off all of the following alarms except that for 06:20 and then went back to bed.

When the alarm went off, I couldn’t move out of bed at all so I went back so sleep and the next thing that I remembered was rhat it was 08:40. That wasn’t the start of the day that I wanted.

Having organised myself I went out to the shops. First port of call was Lidl where I bought some stuff that I couldn’t carry home when I was there on Wednesday.

Next stop was at Centrakor where I wanted to see if they had anything to cover my fruit but that was a disappointment.

At Noz I spent half my time going around the shop buying a couple of things and the other half of the time dismantling Caliburn’s door handle and freeing it off so that it would work.

At LeClerc, that was a disappointment too. No decent keyboard and no decent printer either. Some other stuff that I needed, like food and so on, and then I came home.

Carrying the stuff up here (only some of it too) was quite a struggle and I was glad to sit down for a pause with a coffee. And while I was seated, I organised myself a new keyboard and printer. The keyboard can’t be here soon enough because this one is driving me berserk.

After lunch I came back in here to start work but unfortunately I fell asleep again – as if this morning hasn’t been enough. It meant that I was rather late for my afternoon walk.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallNevertheless, out I went and as usual, my first port of call when I go out for my afternoon walk is to stick my head over the wall at the end of the car park to see what’s going on down there.

Despite the weather, which is quite windy today, there are a few people making the most of the last weekend of the summer season. No-one actually in the water this afternoon which is hardly a surprise because I imagine that it will be quite cold in there this afternoon.

By the looks of things the beaches further along the coast look as if there is no-one on them and that’s a surprise. They are less susceptible to the wind, the views are good and they are good for walking

zodiac baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhile one eye was roving around on the beach, the other eye was having a good look out to sea.

There wasn’t anything going on just offshore but way out in the bay there was a zodiac travelling offshore at quite a rapid rate of knots. I’ve no idea from where it’s come and to where it’s going. There’s no evidence of anything out there that might be of interest.

But you can see how rough the sea is this afternoon. It’s due to the effect of the wind that is whipping up the waves. You can tell that from the whitecaps out there in the bay.

joly france ile de chausey baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallDespite everything else, the sky was quite clear this afternoon and the view was really good.

In the past regular readers of this rubbish will recall having seen plenty of photos of the Ile de Chausey but it’s been very rare that we’ve been able to see it quite as clearly as this.

The colours have been enhanced a little, of course, and we can see the houses along the shore quite clearly . And that’s the lighthouse on the left of the image on the hill, and on the hill on the right is the semaphore station.

lighthouse semaphore crowds on footpath pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallSo that’s the lighthouse and semaphore station station on the Ile de Chausey. Here are the lighthouse and the semaphore station at the Pointe du Roc.

The semaphore is of course the smaller post on the far right. The taller post in the centre seems to be some kind of transmission aerial, maybe for the coastguard post right out on the end of the headland behind the building up there.

And is that one of the Joly France boats out there to the right?

Crowds of people taking a walk this afternoon around the headland too. The last weekend of the summer season and they’ll all be heading home tomorrow (I hope) and we can all return to some peace and tranquility far from the madding crowds.

fishing pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallMeanwhile, in other news, a little further on along the path we have the presence of a fisherman.

Not a very optimistic fisherman either because he doesn’t have a net with which to haul in his catch or a bucket in which to keep it, and that seems rather a strange idea to me.

In fact, I’m slowly coming round to the conclusion that the fishing off the rocks is sport fishing, not subsistence fishing, and the aim isn’t actually to keep and eat any fish that they catch but to release it back into the water afterwards.

As a vegan I should be applauding this gesture but it’s still something of a mystery

sparrowhawk pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallHaving had our attention distracted by the sea and by the land, it’s now time to turn out attention to the air.

Even if the fisherman isn’t necessarily hunting for food, other people are, like the sparrowhawk whom we have seen on several occasions.

He’s out there again hunting for his food in the rough grass down the bank on the clifftop and he’s probably having better luck than the fisherman below him.

That’s my lot really. Nothing else of any other great excitement happening around here and nothing else going on out to sea, I headed off around the path and across the car park.

carolles plage Manche Normandy France Eric HallJust at that moment, as I was crossing the car park, a ray of sun fell onto the beach at Carolles-Plage and illuminated it as if with a spotlight on a stage.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I have walked the length of that beach on several occasions not long after I first came here, when I was staying at that cheap hotel in Jullouville while I was looking for an apartment.

It’s a beautiful beach and quite quiet too as much of it is not easily accessible. It peters out up against the Pointe de Carolles, under the watchful eye of the Cabanon Vauban that is out of shot to the right.

Around the end of the headland and along the path I came to the viewpoint overlooking the outer harbour.

marite les epiettes port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallNothing much going on there of any note so I carried on along to where I could see the boats in the inner harbour.

First of all, the small red white and blue boat that’s there in the loading bay – when I was down there yesterday I was able to have a good look at her and she is indeed Les Epiettes, the boat that we saw out at the Ile de Chausey when we were aboard Spirit of Conrad last year.

Marité of course needs no introduction at all. she’s quite happily sitting at her berth waiting for her next trip out.

But as for me, I was waiting for my trip back home.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that “bad parking” is a feature that used to figure quite often on these pages, but fear of boring you all to death has made me abandon it, except in certain clearly outrageous circumstances.

bad parking boulevard vaufleury Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallJust like this one here in fact.

This is a van that is fitted out as a mobile home and because there is no room to park just here (obviously the public car park just up the road at the Boulevard Vaufleury is too far to travel, they have decided to park just here.

Two wheels up on the kerb on the grass verge and the rest of the vehicle parked in the street, on a bus route and right opposite a relatively busy road junction.

But of course, who cares about the day-to-day life of the residents here? Being a tourist is much more important and who cares if it inconveniences the locals? Tough luck!

It’s no wonder that many people are glad to see the backs of the tourists when the holiday season is finally over.

By the way, it was one of those little concrete bollards just there that I tripped over on my nocturnal excursion the other evening.

Back here later there was the dictaphone that needed attention. And despite the rather short night, there had been plenty of time to go off for a mega-ramble or three.

There was another ship very like a Spanish galleon. I was on it and someone said to me “you won’t be going back on board the ship for a while because it had been raided by the local police. I was still out there trying to make a living by getting her food by carving on fish paste sandwiches and making sure that she does actually want to do it herself. I’ve no idea at all what was going on here, but once again I awoke covered in sweat from this.

And who is “she”? The cat’s mother?

Later on I was watching a football match and the opposition goalkeeper had been sent off just like someone yesterday. Someone else had to go in goal. His team won a corner so he went up to the penalty area for it. The corner came in but the other team’s keeper caught it quite cleanly but the other guy bundled him straight into the net, ball and all, and did a lap of honour around the goal at the back. Of course, the referee, talking to his linesman, ruled it out. That caused all kinds of problems but I could certainly see why it had been ruled out and wasn’t going to argue about it. It seemed a fair decision to me

And somewhere along the line I had another one of these work dreams where everything that I was doing was in total chaos yet again, and when I was on the point of retiring and could have just walked out.

There was football too on the internet – Penybont v Connah’s Quay Nomads. An exciting, free-flowing end-to-end game but most of it went to naught because the final touch was just not good enough.

The score finished 1-1 which was a surprise because there was a point in the game when I was thinking that they could be playing until next weekend and the score would still be 0-0. The central defensive pairing of Penybont was one of the best that I have ever seen.

But up front, both teams will have to be doing much better than this.

Just as I was about to go for a late meal, Rosemary rang me and we had a chat for … errr … 2 hours and 37 minutes. Hence I’ve had no food, and I’m too tired to write this out properly.

It’s just not my day, is it?

Saturday 17th July 2021 – AS BARRY HAY ONCE …

… famously said – “one thing that I gotta tell you, and that it’s good to be back home”.

And having spent a couple of hours collapsed on my chair in my office, I can’t do any more than agree with him

This morning was a dreadfully early start – 04:25 when the alarm went off and I crawled out of bed feeling pretty awful, as you might expect.

There were my sandwiches to make and my packing to do and then a pile of cleaning up, and to my surprise it was all of 05:15 when I’d finished so I reckoned that I might as well head off for the railway station.

martelarenplein gare de Leuven railway station Belgium Eric HallOne thing about the camera on my telephone is that it’s not very good in the dark.

One of the construction projects in the town that has been going on for far too long with little signs of finishing is the rebuilding of the Martelarenplein, “Martyr’s Square”, outside the railway station. This is something that has been dragging on for years and it looks as if it will be going on for a long time yet.

It’s difficult to understand why these projects take so long to complete. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that there have been endless projects of all sorts going on here and which have dragged on and on and on.

class 18 electric locomotive 1812 gare de Leuven railway station 	Belgium Eric HallIt was 05:35 when I made it onto the station, to find that the train to Oostende was running late.

As I arrived on the platform so did the train and here’s a rather blurred photo of it, because the ‘phone isn’t up to very much in this kind of light.

The locomotive is one of the Class 18 electrics, the workhorses of the Belgian railway system, pulling a rake of double-deck coaches. I found a quiet spec in the front compartment over the bogie, and settled down for my trip into Brussels.

And no-one came to bother me, not even a ticket inspector. He was probably asleep in his compartment somewhere near the rear of the train.

sign about train cancellations gare du midi brussels Belgium Eric HallWe pulled into Brussels-Midi just after 06:00 and while I was here I had a look at the indicator board to see where my train might be.

But this notice caught my eye and it was worth photographing. The railway network in the east of the country has been badly hit by the flood and there are piles of trains that have been cancelled as a result.

“If you are implicated in this notice, please don’t come to the station. Postpone your journey” – in other words, there are no alternative means of transport to connect up these towns. That tells you all that you need to know about the damage to the transport infrastructure.

The trains to Germany were cancelled too. With Liège 6 feet under water and the Rhine and its tributaries overflowing, all of that has taken a knock as well and it will be a while before these services are reinstated.

TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt 4513 PBA gare du midi brussels Belgium Eric HallLook at the time now!

It’s 06:37, I’ve been here for half an hour already, and my train has now come in. It’s one of the PBA – Paris-Brussels-Amsterdam TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt trains that is running the 07:17 to Strasbourg. I take it as far as Lille Europe where I change trains.

We weren’t allowed on the train for 10 minutes while they cleaned it, and then we could all pile aboard.

And those of us on the platform side of the train were treated to the sight of a bag-snatcher snatching a bag from the train on the other side, the 07:00 to Marseille. The security staff managed to recover the bag but not the thief. The police turned up a couple of minutes later, presumably to make further enquiries.

We set off bang on time and I tried to work but there was no electricity on the train and the battery flattened itself quite quickly and that held me up.

At Lille Europe we all piled out and then there was the stagger across the town to Lille Flandres railway station.

TGV Reseau Duplex 225 gare du lille flandres france Eric HallThere isn’t much time to cross town before my train is due to leave. It was already in the station and the platform when I arrived.

It’s one of the TGV Réseau Duplex trainsets – at least, this end of it is, and I don’t know what’s on the front of it. I eventually found my carriage but these are quite cramped and there isn’t much room in the overhead luggage racks for all the stuff that I was carrying, so I dug myself in in the little phone lounge at the top of the stairs and there I sat.

It’s not possible to work there though so I spent most of the journey asleep. But at least the laptop and the telephone could recharge themselves while we were on the move to Paris.

TGV POS 4406 gare du nord paris france Eric HallAt the Gare du Nord in Paris I could have a look and see what the front trainset of my train to Paris was.

It’s one of the TGV POS units that used to work the eastern part of France and into Southern Germany until they were replaced by the next-generation machines.

Wandering off under my heavy load, because you won’t believe just how much this medication weighs, I made it to the platform of the Metro just as a train pulled up and to my surprise there was an empty seat right by the door.

It whizzed me off to the Gare Montparnasse where I wandered about aimlessly in the ill-signposted station until I found the correct escalator to take me up to the fourth floor from where the mainline trains depart

84572 gec alstom regiolis gare montparnasse paris france Eric HallMy train always departs from the platforms at the far end of the station so I wandered off that way.

There was one of the Normandy trains in at the platform and I assumed that it was mine. And there was an empty seat in that little corner that I discovered a few weeks ago from where I could keep an eye on things.

15 minutes to go, the platform number flashed up on the display screen and it was indeed my train that I had seen, so we all piled on board.

And I do mean “all piled” too because there wasn’t even one empty seat on the train. Travelling to Granville on a Saturday morning in summer with everyone going on holiday is not a very good idea. Of course I’m not usually here at this time of year – I’m usually wandering around Canada somewhere at this time of the year.

We were so crammed in that it wasn’t easy to work this afternoon on the train, but what I dd manage to do for yesterday’s journal entry is now on line and I’ll finish off the rest of it tomorrow maybe.

84567 gec alstom regiolis bombardier 82648 gare de granville railway station france Eric HallIt was quite a transformation when we arrived in Granville – bang on time with no obstructions or delays. Cold, damp and cloudy weather had given way to brilliant sunshine.

So while I stopped to organise my luggage I took a photo of the trains in the station. My train was a combination of two trainsets – I’d been in the rear one and here on the right is the front one.

To the left is one of the Bombardier units that works the service between Rennes and Caen and on which I’ve travelled a couple of times going to Coutances and St-Lô.

So into the heat I set off. Not down through the Parc de Val es Fleurs because I couldn’t manage the suitcase down the steps. Instead I went down the Rue Couraye into town.

old cars renault 8 rue couraye granville france Eric HallAnd I’m glad that I did because once more I came across another old car.

And this one is a real old car as well – A Renault R8. This was the car that was launched in 1962 with the aim of replacing the famous Dauphine and stayed in production until 1973 in France, although the model continued to be built in other countries until as late as 1976.

One of my teachers, Mr Firth, at Primary School had one of these and that one must have been one of the very first right-hand drive ones to roll off the production line. He took me to play in a football match for our school, my only representative honour, in early 1965.

old cars renault 8 rue couraye granville france Eric HallAs I was taking a photo of the car, some tourist walked right in front of me and spoiled my photo. I had to retake it.

But the whole town was heaving with tourists, getting in everyone’s way. At one point I ran my suitcase over the foot of someone who was obstructing the pavement. They really get on my nerves.

The crawl up the hill in the Rue des Juifs was appalling and I had to stop several times to catch my breath. I felt every step of the way in this heat and I don’t want to be doing this again if it keeps on like this.

Taking the bus is a sign of defeat, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, but one of these days pretty soon I’m going to have to throw in the towel. All of this medication is killing me

marite victor hugo port de granville harbour france  Eric HallOne of the places where I stopped to catch my breath was at the viewpoint overlooking Marité‘s place in the harbour.

People were streaming on board so it looked as if she was about to go out for an evening sail as soon as the harbour gates opened. I wasn’t going to wait around. Once I’d recovered my breath I carried on up the hill.

Here at the apartment I collapsed in my chair and here I stayed for a couple of hours. And then I managed to find the energy to put away the cold food and to drink the coffee that was in my “Adventure Canada” thermos flask. Still quite warm despite having been made over 12 hours.

Tea tonight was out of a tin, and then I came in here to write up my notes. And now I’m off to bed. I’m exhausted, I really am, and it’s just as well that I’m having a lie-in tomorrow. I need it.

Monday 31st May 2021 – HERE I ALL AM …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday 1st May 2021 – GRRRRRR!

This morning Caliburn and I nipped out to the shops as is usual on a Saturday morning, only to find that they were all closed.

Of course it’s a Bank Holiday here today, but I’m not used to the idea of shops being closed on days like this. And had I known, I could have had a nice long lie-in and you’ve no idea how dismayed I am about that.

Instead, something strange happened this morning. I was away on a voyage and suddenly I awoke, sat bolt upright and got out of bed in something of a panic as if I was hours late. Looking at my watch, it showed 05:59 – one minute before the alarm was due to go off.

So what happened there then, I have no idea at all. It was all extremely weird.

After the medication, I had a listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night. I was up to my eyes in some kind of project that involved cowboys and indians. There was work everywhere that I was trying to do. I had a pencil but it was so blunt that it wasn’t writing and every time that I went to sharpen it I just broke the lead off it again. I wasn’t making very much progress. While I was there a girl came up and said that she had finished what she was doing and was planning on starting the next step. That was something that I particularly wanted to do myself and I’d organised someone else to help me but she was there ready so I basically told her to make a start on it and gave her my notes. She asked how much I would pay her, to which of course I made some kind of ribald comment and decided that I’d go back to my desk and sort out this information, get another pencil, try sharpening that and see if it will sharpen any better that I could use to write what I’m doing while I’m doing now.

Later on, I don’t remember very much about this but I’d captured a large German battleship like the Scharnhorst and I had it in a dry dock behind me. Some girl in whom I had some kind of interest came up to talk to me and totally failed to notice this battleship behind me which I found really surprising and I had to draw her attention to it. And this was when I suddenly awoke.

Once I’d finished the dictaphone I did some more work on the photos from August 2019. I’ve now moved on from my lunch stop ON COTTONWOOD CREEK and I’m on my way to one of the most exciting and important sites on the whole Oregon And California Trail

A little later I went for a good shower and a change of clothes and then went out for my abortive attempt at shopping. And with no bread in the house right now, I bought a baguette from a boulangerie on the way home.

The rest of the day back here I’ve spent a good deal of time scrolling through the 1911 census that has been put on line for free this weekend, trying to find some traces of my family.

That’s not easy because apart from the fact that some of my family was in Canada at this time, my family was somewhat disjointed. On my mother’s side, my grandmother was widowed from her first husband, married a second time, was in a hospital for 25 years after the birth of my aunt which meant that my mother and her sister were fostered out in various families before going to live with an aunt and uncle in Somerset.

And that’s just my mother’s side. On my father’s side it’s even more complicated than that.

That took up most of the rest of the day, what with having yet another hour crashed out on the chair. That was disappointing too because for the first time since I’ve been back from Leuven I was remarkably sprightly this morning and I thought that I was in for a really good day for a change.

There was the usual break for lunch of course, and the walk around the headland this afternoon too.

buoys people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAs seems to be becoming quite a habit these days, the first thing that I did once I was outside was to go to the end of the car park and look over the wall down onto the beach to see what was going on today.

Surprisingly there wee very few people down there on the beach this afternoon. There was one person in my field of view down there, but he seemed to be very interested in what look like buoys down there at the water’s edge. There’s a blue one close by the person and a white one a little further out but I can’t see what they are attached to.

But apart from him – or her – that was that really. And that was a surprise. It was quite a nice afternoon, with the wind having dropped and for the first time since I don’t know when, I wasn’t freezing either.

yachts donville les bains baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhile I was there at the end of the car park I had a look out to sea to see what was goign on.

And I noticed that the yachting school at Bréhal sur Mer was out there this afternoon. Not too many of their boats but they are having a good sail around in the nice weather and I wish that I was with them.

Instead I set off on my trudge around the headland. Not quite the weary trudge of the last couple of days but I’m still not back to my sprightly self. It’s really hard to imagine that it was less than a year ago that I was running all the way round my circuit.

Not that I would be running today either because although there were very few people on the beach, there were crowds of people walking around the footpath and I wouldn’t want to show myself up.

people standing on rock pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAt the end of the headland I had a good look around to see whether we had any fishermen out there on the rocks today.

No fishermen today, but there were several people out there just standing about and chatting, including this group of three young people standing on a rock down there having a good chat. In fact, there were quite a few people around there on the lower path this afternoon going the long way round.

While I was there I had a look out to sea to see if there were any fishing boats in the bay but I couldn’t see any at all. But that’s not to say that there weren’t any. I can’t see all of the bay from here.

aztec lady port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallRound the corner at the viewpoint overlooking the harbour, I could see that there are many more boats anchored in there than there have been over the past couple of weeks.

I’m not quite sure if this is telling us that the dredging work is over now or whether it’s just a weekend thing and they’ll all be gone by Monday to give the digger driver the opportunity to carry on with his work throughout the next week.

Meanwhile, in the chantier navale things are as they were yesterday. the little fishing boat is still there and so is Aztec Lady. But no-one else has come to join them as yet.

digger port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallA little further on there was ample evidence that the digging work in the harbour hasn’t finished.

If the digging were over they would have taken away the digger that’s been doing it but the fact that it’s still here would indicate that they will be carrying in next week.

But I carried on home to have a coffee and try to do some more work on this flaming census.

At 18:00 I knocked off as there was football. This social media blackout this weekend meant that I couldn’t access my usual source of entertainment. Instead I had to set un an account with the broadcast subcontractor so that I could access it from their website. And surprisingly, it was a much more stable platform.

Last Saturday we saw Connah’s Quay Nomads turn on the aerial performance to devastate TNS. Today in the return match TNS came out with three centre-backs and flooded their penalty area with defenders.

As a result we were treated to a dreadful match with aimless hopeful passes upfield going astray. TNS were a much more skilful and technical side as anyone would guess, but that counted for nothing as their attack was completely snuffed out by the Nomads defence and presented no threat whatsoever.

This was one of those matches that is best forgotten.

Then it was tea time. Rice and a curry out of a tin, followed by apple crumble and my home-made custard. Cornflour, sugar and vanilla essence. While it would be wrong to say that it was real custard, it was certainly acceptable.

Anyway now I’m off to bed. I’m exhausted but I’ll be having a nice lazy day tomorrow I hope. So I hope that no-one spoils it.

Wednesday 21st April 2021 – HERE I ALL AM …

… not stting in a rainbow but sitting in my little room in the back end of Leuven, comfortably installed as usual.

When the alarm went off at 04:25 I fell out of bed, fully-dressed because I was taking no chances last night and set about organising myself, making sandwiches, a flask of coffee, checking the packing and steam-cleaning the toilet which was in something of a deplorable condition (I’m letting the housework fall behind again unfortunately while I battle with other things).

Bang on 05:10 I it the streets and headed off to the station. In the pitch-black too as most of the street-lighting was out and I had one or two narrow scrapes, putting my feet on steps that weren’t there, that kind of thing.

82645 82790 Bombardier B82500 gare de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhen I arrived at the railway station, I was early and my train hadn’t yet arrived but there were some others in.

There were a couple of other trains there at the platform waiting for what I really don’t know. These are Bombardier B82500 multiple units and part of the huge modernisation plan of the SNCF over the last 10 or so years. From Granville they usually work the route between Caen and Rennes

When you hear people complaining about the filthy, unreliable trains of the SNCF you can tell that they haven’t set foot on a train in France for the last 15 years at least. There has been much more investment in French railways than in the UK for a start.

84565 GEC Alstom Regiolis gare de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAbout 5 minutes after I arrived, my train pulled into the station. It’s one of the usual GEC Alstom Regiolis trains introduced over the last 5 years or so, just in time for me.

This one is 84565 and it must be based here in Granville because I’ve travelled on it on several occasions. There was only 1 unit of 6 carriages and despite it being the only train of the day to Paris it was quite empty.

On the way into Paris I spent the time of the journey going through the computer and sorting out the music, and then going through and attacking a few of the duplicate files that have accumulated on various hard drives.

We arrived in Paris bang on time. The station wasn’t all that busy and I managed not to fall over today. I was quickly onto the Metro and reached the Gare du Nord with plenty of time to spare before my train left. So much so that they hadn’t even affixed the platform number and I had to wait for that.

213 TGV Reseau Duplex gare du nord paris France Eric HallOnce they posted up the platform details I could go off and look for my train.

Once again, it’s one of the “Reseau Duplex” trains that work the like from Paris to Lille Flandres. A double-decker, which shows just how far ahead Continental thinking is of British thinking, and I’m on the upstairs deck in corridor seat.

The train was pretty full this afternoon too. There’s a neighbour too in the adjacent seat but he had nothing to say for himself. And neither did I because, unsurprisingly, I fell asleep for part of the journey and the ticket collector had to awaken me.

The ticket collector gave me some good news too. The validity of my Senior Citizens’ Railcard has been extended by three months to make up for the disruption to travel.

But bang on time yet again we arrived at Lille Flandres railway station and I had to set off for my trek to Lille Europe and the TGV to Brussels.

sculpture place francois mitterand outside gare de lille europe France Eric HallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that we’ve seen plenty of weird and wonderful things on our travels.

In front of the Lille Europe railway station is the Place Francois Mitterand, named after the Socialist politician who, despite anything that General de Gaulle’s partisan supporters will tell you, was the longest-serving President in French history.

It’s a dreary, desolate, windswept place with little to relieve the monotony. For that reason they sometimes decorate the Square with all kinds of weird and wonderful artefacts, and today it’s the turn of these rather interesting artificial flowers to relieve the monotony.

But I didn’t hang around long to admire them. I had other fish to fry.

4515 TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt gare de lille europe France Eric HallWhen I arrived at the railway station at Lille Europe, I found that my train was already in at the platform even though there was 25 minutes before it was due to leave.

There’s no time like the present, so I wandered down to the front of the train to take a photo. It’s a rather weather-beaten and weary TGV Reseau 38000, the same models as the Thalys PBA (Paris Brussels Amsterdam) trainsets on which we travel occasionally from Brussels back to Paris.

Having taken my photograph I went and found my seat. The train is again a “short” one, just one unit of 8 coaches instead of the usual 2-unit trains. And although it was busy, there was enough room for most people to sit by themselves.

Arriving once more on time, I went to look for my train to Leuven.

nederlandse spoorwegen class e186 locomotive 9184 1186 003 gare du midi brussels belgium Eric HallThere was a few minutes to wait so I could have a look around and see what was going on at the adjacent platforms. Just across the way was this Nederlandse Spoorwegen trainset doing the run from Brussels to Amsterdam.

These are some comparatively old-style carriages with a modern class E186 electric locomotive at each end in a kind of push-me pull you arrangement. The locomotives are built by Bombardier and are based on the TRAXX designs that were developed for the Deutsche Bahn 20 years ago.

Even though the Nederlandse Spoorwegen units are quite modern, they may not be around for much longer. Word on the streets suggests that the Dutch are working on some high-speed multiple-unit train sets. These will be sold back to the leasing company who will redistribute them around other railway networks that use this type.

320 am 80 multiple unit gare du midi brusseks belgium Eric HallThere was just enough time to photograph the Dutch train before my train to Leuven pulled in.

It’s another one of the rather disreputable AM80 multiple unit sets – 40 years old and covered in graffiti. Old vinyl seats and lino on the floor.

But considering their age and what appears to be their general lack of care and attention they still rack up the miles on a lot of long-distance work that would have seen off many a more modern unit

The train was pretty busy too but again I was lucky to to have a seat to myself. And we arrived in Leuven without any inconvenience at all.

To my delight, my key was already in the safe so by 13:30 I was sitting down in comfort on the sofa eating my butties. And then I dozed off for half an hour. And I didn’t regret it at all after my exertions today.

fire damaged house dekenstraat leuven belgium Eric Halllater on I nipped out to the shops, but I didn’t get too far – in fact a house next-door but one to the complex where I stay.

There’s been a fire here, as you can see, and the building is boarded up. Nevertheless you can see the scorching on the brickwork above the door and the windows. It must have been quite a serious blaze.

The sign affixed to the wall next to the door states “declared uninhabitable since 26th March 2021” an I wonder if that’s because of the fire, or whether the fire is as a result of the property being declared uninhabitable.

So musing on that, I carried on my way towards the shops.

house rebuilding dekenstraat leuven belgium Eric HallOf course I had to pause to take a look at the house at the end of the street here.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I have passed a considerable amount of comment on the slow rate of the various projects that are being undertaken here and there around the city. And despite the time that this building has taken to be renovated, it’s still not finished.

It beats me what takes the time with all of this work. They used to build railway lines in far less time than this with just picks and shovels. I shudder to think of how they are proceeding with the demolition of Sint Pieters or the refurbishment of the Monseigneur Vanwaeyenberghlaan.

crowds st donatuspark leuven belgium Eric HallMy route took me past the St Donatus Park, one of my favourite places in the city.

One of the things that I like to do is to go in there for a wander around but this evening wasn’t quite so pleasant because I could hear the noise from a couple of streets away. I knew that it was going to be busy, and not just with inflatable figures either.

And sure enough, there were hordes of people making the most of the warn evening weather. Not much social distancing and even fewer masks too. It looks as if Belgium has suspended many of the health rules relating to the Corona virus. I wonder if they will end up regretting that.

medieval city walls crowds st donatuspark leuven belgium Eric HallWhile I was here, I took a photo of the crowds from this angle.

One of the things that I like about this park is the fact that there are several remains of the old city walls here. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we’ve seen quite a few photos of them, but we haven’t ever seen a photo of them from this angle.

The gate at the far end was closed so I had to retrace my steps to leave the park. My route to the supermarket thus took me down the street and the short cut through the old Beguingage.

My luck was in when I was there. There were several vegan burgers and the like reduced by 50% for a quick sale so I bought a couple of packs to eat while I’m here. IN fact, I ended up spending rather a lot of money today.

road junction naamsestraat naamsevest under repair leuven belgium Eric HallOn the way back I went to look at the roadworks taking place at the junction of the Naamsestraat and the ring road.

When I was here last month they were already attacking it, and I suppose I was being rather optimistic to think that they might possibly have finished. The place is in quite a mess with all kinds of confusion with various side streets and pedestrian crossings closed off.

It took me a good while to find out where to cross. And then I had to fight my way through the hordes of pedestrians, cyclists and moped riders battling for the same amount of restricted space and I was nearly run down a couple of times. But lugging my heavy load on my shoulders I finally made it across.

ambulance Erasme Ruelensvest leuven belgium Eric HallWhile I was on my way home from the Carrefour I’d seen fleets of ambulances with their blue lights flashing, roaring down the road.

And a few minutes later they cam roaring back, still with their blue lights flashing. But where they are going on the return journey I really don’t know because the hospital is in the other direction.

Back here I made tea. Burger with pasta and veg in tomato sauce, followed by apricots (once I’d fought my way into the tin). And having written out my notes, I’m now off to bed. I’ve had a very long day and I’m exhausted. There’s plenty to do tomorrow before I go to the hospital too so I need my beauty sleep.

Need it more than most people in fact, and for the obvious reason too.

So much so in fact that it was a couple of days before I managed to listen to the dictaphone to see if I’d been anywhere during the night. Someone had died in a log cabin and I was investigating this with someone. We found a group of people and it was quite obvious that the story that they were telling us was false so we urged one of these guys, telling him that telling a false story was likely to be very dangerous because if we could prove that it was false it would discredit the rest of his story and he would end up being hanged. In the end he agreed that he had fired the shot as he had entered the room but fired into the darkness and gave a few other indications that admitted that he was perfectly correct in what he’d said, and whoever had killed him had been in there beforehand and they were making their escape when he and his party pulled up.

Monday 8th February 2021 – I GIVE UP!

Never mind the third alarm. When the first alarm went off at 06:00 I was already at my desk working. And by the time that the 3rd alarm went off I was already working on the radio programme for this morning.

It wasn’t as if I’d gone to bed particularly early either. But judging by how much I was tossing and turning during the night, I didn’t have much sleep at all and by the time that 05:40 came round I gave up trying to sleep and decided that I may as well take advantage and make a really early start.

And by the time that lunchtime came round I had finished the programme, from start to finish too.

There had been the usual interruption for hot chocolate and sourdough fruitcake, and not only that, I had to deal with a couple of outstanding issues involving the radio. So in effect, I could have been finished earlier than I did.

After lunch I had some more radio work that needed attention. A radio programme was missed 2 weeks ago because the transmitter was down and they rebroadcast the programme 2 weeks later. That meant I had to shuffle the next set of programmes around, re-index them and move one or two so hat the sequence is maintained and I don’t end up out of order.

That took longer than it ought to have done, and it wasn’t helped by the fact that I … errr … dozed off twice during the afternoon. And that’s not a surprise, considering how the night had gone.

There was, of course the afternoon walk and I didn’t go very far before I took the first photograph.

roofing college malraux place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that we’ve been watching them replacing the tiles on the roof of the College Malrauxx over the last few months, and then last week we saw then moving the scaffolding round to the side.

Now, we can see that the roofers have made it round to that side and are busy stripping off the tiles from there and replacing the waterproof membrane and the laths.

And the guys up there on the roof – I don’t envy them one little minute. There’s quite a gale blowing outside and threatening rain too. It’s quite rough down here on the ground – up there it must be very much worse.

trawler english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThe only people whom I saw out there was just one jogger struggling against the gale. There was a trawler out there too, coming back into port from a day out at sea.

The trawlers are back out there working, as we saw the other day as we watched them going out of port. It seems that an agreement has been reached with Jersey about fishing rights in the Bay of Granville.

And that’s no surprise. Not just me but I think that everyone else was of the opinion that once the ports started to turn away the Channel Island boats, it wouldn’t take long for Jersey to surrender and to issue the permits. It’s just a shame that naked greed and self-interest has led us to a situation like this.

yachts chantier navale port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallThe footpath was mostly dry so I had a comfortable walk around the headland to the viewpoint overlooking the chantier navale.

There’s some excitement down there this afternoon. There’s some kind of canvas cover over part of the hull of the yacht that’s been there since the dawn of time and there were a few people on the deck looking as if they were doing some work.

I’ve no idea what work it is that they are doing but the cover is quite suggestive of painting, although it’s not really the weather in which I would like to be doing any painting.

l'arc en ciel trawler port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallWe’d seen a trawler out there at sea heading into port, and there were already a couple of them that had arrived earlier and were unloading at the fish processing plant.

As I watched, one of them, L’Arc En Ciel – “Rainbow” – pulled away from the quayside and headed off to moor in the inner harbour.

By now it was raining fairly heavily so I headed off back home to my apartment. A nice hot coffee would be just the thing to warm me up, and having drunk that I spent the rest of the afternoon with the Greenland photos from 1907. One of them needed identifying so I asked one of my friends from THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR and Adventure Canada who helped me out with the identification.

It was a strange session on the guitars this evening. The bass-playing part of it was really enjoyable and it’s definitely improving. I was adding in a lot more intricate stuff at the same time as I was singing, so my co-ordination is improving, I reckon.

But for some unknown reason I couldn’t get to grips with the acoustic guitar and seemed to have a couple of handfuls of thumbs this evening and my voice was off as well.

Tea was a stuffed pepper followed by rice pudding and it was all quite nice. Tomorrow I’m going to have a burger in a bap, I reckon seeing as there’s just one bap left. I can buy some more on Thursday and if I’m lucky, there might even be room in the freezer.

Before I go to bed now I’m going to have another half-hour on the photos. I’m just about to set foot on dry land on Cape Farewell in Greenland. Not much further to go on this leg of the voyage before I head off to Western North America.

Saturday 6th February 2021 – HAVING MOANED …

… incessantly with all of this “woe is me” nonsense about how I can’t get out of bed any more in the mornings, I have to say that when the first alarm went off this morning I’d been out of bed already for a good 8 minutes. And by the time that the third alarm went off 15 minutes later I was already sitting at the computer doing some work.

All of which goes to prove that the problem such as it is isn’t a medical issue but more a personal issue because I can clearly do it when I have to.

What the issue was this morning was that I was dictating the account of a voyage and the batteries went flat in the dictaphone. And for some unknown reason the spare batteries that I keep by the bed were flat too. And so I had to go off and track some others down in the living room.

And by the time that I’d done that, there wasn’t much point in going back to bed just for a couple of minutes otherwise we might have had another wasted morning.

So as for where I’d been during the night, there wasn’t really all that much that was exciting. I had to go somewhere and so for no reason at all I leapt on board a ferry which was the Staten Island ferry but wasn’t and sailed across the bay or river to the other side. There were about 3 or 4 people on there and I stayed on there ready to come back without even bothering to get off the boat. Gradually a few people came on to join me. There was a guy there who was in charge and there was some kind of display stand with newspapers on there and things. I was casually reading a newspaper that was on there. This guy came past and he was talking about me to someone else. My ears pricked up. It turned out that I’d been given a guide with my mobile phone. I’d filled it in but I knew all of the stuff because I’d had mobile phones for years so I hadn’t really bothered much with the guide. It was there so he gave it back to me. Then they started to serve the tea on board this boat so we all stood in a queue. I was with a Flemish guy, next to him. He heard some English people talking – apparently one of the English people had said that now that we are in Flanders we’ll have to learn to speak Flemish. The Flemish guy turned to me and said “that’s a bit crazy, isn’t it? Everyone here in Flanders speaks English”. What was strange about this was that I could actually smell the tea and coffee while this dream was taking place and I’ve no idea who might have been brewing up by the air went to my apartment.

Later on there was me, a guy and a couple of other women. I can’t remember the beginning about this but we had to go and take some things round to see from school (who incidentally is making his debut appearance in my voyages even if he didn’t actually make an appearance), why we would do that I don’t know. I’d made tea and my brother was late coming in. he was carrying a gun – he’d been to fetch a rifle and I was annoyed by this. I didn’t want to have firearms in the house. I told my old standby about when I was working with that boss and I was supposed to carry a firearm and he asked why I wasn’t. I explained and he asked “what would you do if we were held up somewhere”? I replied that I would rely on the force of my own personality. But no-one seemed to think that that was funny. I explained to my brother “the tea’s here, the tea’s there, there’s something here, there’s something there. Make your own tea”. He pulled a face and started to complain. I said “it won’t take long. Even if you put a potato in the microwave it only takes 5 minutes”. I collected what I had to take and I had to take the dog for a walk with me. There were 2 or 3 dogs and I kept on getting the wrong dog. I knew which dog it should be that I should be taking but I kept on being confused. Eventually I sorted it out with the help of someone and a little girl said that she would come with me for the walk. We set out and walked down the street straight into a police barrage. Of course I’d forgotten to fill in my form – it was after 18:00. Luckily I had the dog with me so I said to this policeman “I’m taking the dog for a walk but I’ve forgotten all about the curfew” so he smiled and let me go. This was where I met up with this guy and these 2 women. We talked about places where we had worked, the humour and the acronyms that we had made up, like Work Experience on Employers Premises which made WEEP which is of course what people did who were on the scheme when they received their pay. I said that there were 3 places where I’d worked which had been the most humorous and had the most sense of humour, Crewe, Stockport and Stoke on Trent, and then only half of Crewe.

By now it was shower time, following which it was time to make an early start for the shops.

Nothing of any interest in NOZ but they had a pile of different varieties of canned drinks so I bought a selection. I like to vary my diet as often as I can, and NOZ is the place to do that because they sell all kinds of end-of-range stuff and bankrupt stock from all over Europe and even North Africa at times and quite often there’s some interesting stuff that I don’t normally see.

LeClerc had another pile of fresh veg on offer. 2kg of potatoes at €1:16, 2 heads of broccoli at €0:99 and two bell peppers at €0:99 will do me nicely. Some of the broccoli I’ll blanch and freeze tomorrow as I won’t be able to eat it all at one go.

3kg of carrots at €1:60 was quite tempting too but there simply isn’t enough room in the freezer for that.

Back here I made my hot chocolate and cut a slice of sourdough fruit loaf then I came in here to wade through a pile of e-mails and I managed to file quite a few in the great waste-paper bin in the sky before I was … obliged to close my eyes for a while. 90 minutes actually, and I could have done without that.

The potato and leek soup didn’t look up to much and so that went the way of the west. I had to have sandwiches instead. Next time I’ll leave the eyes in the potatoes so it’ll see me through the week.

After lunch and my little rest, for some reason I was feeling quite productive so I bashed out another 1,0000 words about the massacre at Oradour-sur-Glane as well as updating a previous blog entry from several years ago with more stuff that I had found while researching.

Another thing that I did was in connection with something that I found while sorting through the e-mails. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I’m having issues about the Covid vaccination, or lack thereof. There was a newspaper article that I had somehow missed about “how to apply for a vaccine” which although not being of much use to me, it nevertheless gave details of a website run by the Health Authorities.

It took me about an hour of surfing through it until I found what I was looking for – “if you have any more questions not covered by our FAQ please complete this form …” and so I did, setting out my case as fully as I could.

Not that it will do any more good than what I’ve been doing so far, but any straw is good enough to clutch at because you never know what might happen. And it reminds me of the story that I heard about Fish, after he had left Marillion, made contact with Rick Wakeman and the ghost of Sandy Denny to produce an album that would be entitled “Clutching at Strawbs”.

yachts english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallIn between all of this, I broke off for my afternoon perambulation.

Earlier on, on the way back from the shops I noticed the trailer from the Nautical School parked up in the car park, and sure enough, there were several yachts sailing about offshore in the bay and in the English Channel.

The morning had been miserable, grey and overcast but it must have warmed up and cleared up quite quickly later in the morning after I had returned from the shops because it was another nice and pleasant afternoon, even if the wind has risen up yet again.

wind turbines hauteville sur mer Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThe views outside were really magnificent today and in the fine weather conditions you could see for miles.

All the way down the coast way past Hauteville sur Mer and the Sienne estuary. In fact the wind turbines at the back of Coutances are clearly visible with the naked eye.

For a change this afternoon, I went for my wander around the footpath underneath the walls instead of my usual route around the headland. It’s been ages since I’ve walked this way … “and anyone who mentions “talcum powder” is disqualified” – ed … and I was keen to see what changes (if any) there had been.

And despite the dry, sunny windy weather of the last couple of days, the path was still muddy and depressing.

people on plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere were hordes of people milling around outside today, both on the footpath and down on the beach and promenade at the Plat Gousset, all taking advantage of the unseasonal sunny weather.

In fact, thinking on, coming back from the shops this morning the roads were packed coming into town and once I’d wrestled my way out of the shopping zone I came home via the back streets to avoid the jams in the town centre.

It makes me wonder whether it’s school holiday time and all of the tourists from the Paris region have come here to their second homes and holiday bolt-holes. And that’s bad news for me because the past has shown that they bring the Covid with them and the infection rate here soars upwards.

And here I am, not able to have a vaccination.

relaying gas pipes rue st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOn the way back I went to see how they are progressing with laying the new gas pipe in the Rue St Michel.

And the answer to that question, as we expected, is “very slowly”. There doesn’t seem to be a great deal of urgency amongst the Belgian and French workforce.

Back here I had a coffee and carried on with my tasks until guitar-playing time, which was spent completely with the acoustic guitar. I have an idea of an hour’s worth of music that I can play comfortably and sing with the acoustic guitar, including, surprisingly, Fleetwood Mac’s “Behind the Mask”.

That song is not as complicated as it sounds when you first hear it. What sounds like a complicated chord arrangement can be played by just moving your fingers around the derivatives of the “A” chord. But I can’t make the lyrics fit the beats at the moment.

Anyway, I wanted to have a work through it and see how it would come out and what I can say is that it has potential. Give it a couple of years.

Tea was a burger with pasta followed by apple pie. The remainder of the apple pie will go in the freezer now until later in the week because tomorrow I’m going to make a rice pudding. If I have the oven on for the pizza I may as well make the most of it.

But I must remember to put the pudding on a tray in the oven as it has a tendency to boil over.

Monday 1st February 2021 – THERE’S ONE GOOD …

… thing about being in bed by 21:40. And that is that I can, if I play my cards right, be wide awake, standing up and looking for my clothes at 06:00 when the first alarm goes off.

Yes, never mind beating the third alarm, I actually managed to beat the first one today and that’s something of a red-letter day, isn’t it?

So there I was, wide awake, fighting fit and ready to go and by the time the third alarm went off I had had my medication and was sitting at the computer working.

By the time lunchtime came round, I had completed an entire radio programme from scratch – up and running, a whole hour of it. And I’d had my break for breakfast (the last of my Christmas cake) and drink of hot chocolate too. That was quite impressive too.

This afternoon I sat down and carried on with the siege of Chateau Chalus but later on in the afternoon I had the misfortune to crash out for half an hour and that was disappointed. I might have finished it otherwise.

crowds on beach place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThat was probably due to the fact that I went out this afternoon for my usual walk around the headland.

There were a few other people around out there too, walking around, but the surprise was actually down on the beach. There were about 20 people down there playing some kind of sport and even though I watched them for a good few minutes, I couldn’t work out what it was they were actually doing.

There were a few other people around down there too but they were just doing normal things like walking around at the water’s edge.

fog in baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd when I say that I was surprised to see them, that was for two reasons too.

Not just because it was strange to see so many people, but also due to the fact that there were some incredible rolling banks of fog moving in off the sea and it was at times quite difficult to see very far.

Despite all of the wind that we have had just recently, there was hardly a breath of it today so while it might have been rolling in off the sea, it was just banking up at the head of the bay and becoming thicker and thicker down there. That’s not the kind of day to be out at sea.

le loup jullouville baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallLe Loup, the marker light on the rock at the entrance to the harbour, was barely visible and you couldn’t see very much beyond there along the coast.

But one thing that you will notice is that it really is a sea mist or fog and not driving rain. And it’s not very thick either. You can see the blue sky overhead above the mist here at the edge of the fog.

At the end of the headland, I looked out to sea to see what was happening but as you might expect, I couldn’t see anything going on there at all. But most of that was down to the fog. I couldn’t even see the Brittany coast so I gave it up as a bad job and carried on with my walk along the headland.

aztec lady chantier navale port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere’s another change of occupier at the chantier navale.

We still have a total of four boats, but one of the fishing boats that was there seems to have gone back into the water and instead, we seem to have acquired Aztec Lady, one of the tourist charter boats. It makes me wonder what’s the matter with her, but seeing where she’s been positioned, it can’t be anything that’s likely to detain her for long.

Talking of being detained for long, I cleared off home for my hot afternoon coffee but when I went to drink it, it was freezing cold. That’s what happens when you crash out for half an hour.

The hour on the guitar passed really well and I quite enjoyed it, and then I went for tea. Taco rolls with the remains of the stuffing but, most unlike me, half of it went in the bin. For some reason, I wasn’t at all hungry tonight.

You are all probably wondering where I got to (and, more importantly, who came with me) during the night. But just as I was about to start to transcribe my dictaphone notes, Rosemary rang up for a chat – a chat that went on for just over one hour and forty minutes.

It took me a couple of days before I could find the time to transcribe them, but I was playing bass with The Doors or The Grateful Dead or someone last night. We were on our way to a gig, the first that they had done for 25 years. I’d bought some new equipment. While we had stopped for a coffee and an afternoon break I started to wire up the PA but noticed that the microphones had on/off switches that had to be held down. I thought “this is wrong. We have the wrong equipment here. What are we going to do about this because you can’t hold down a mike switch in the middle of a concert when you have both hands on a guitar”. I carried on wiring them up anyway. A couple of boys appeared and spoke to Gerry Garcia or whoever it was. He had them play a little song, all very countrified rock, arpeggio chord-playing guitar, that sort of thing. The guy playing a really weird guitar with the tuning pegs in the body of the guitar and nothing on the neck, which was a very small neck anyway. I went back over to the pile of equipment and sat there suddenly scratching my head. Someone else came along and said “what are you doing?”. I replied “I don’t know. I just walked over here for something and I can’t remember what it was that I came back for”. He asked “was it your guitar strap?”. I said “no but I need to check that anyway so while I’m here I’ll do that”.

Later on I was with a couple and I’m not sure who they were. They may well have been one of my sisters and her husband. Also with me was a girl who at one time was a very, very regular companion of mine on my voyages who hasn’t been around much of late, so a big “hello” to you in Stoke on Trent. The 4 of us had been to British Salt having my Cortina fixed. It had been a question of having it serviced of course and one of the bolts on the bottom pulley which was held on by two bolts needed replacing. Rather than buy one, they turned one on the lathe. There were all kinds of things going on there with old lorry cabs, an old Dodge lorry cab lying around. Someone had been sent home from work not once but twice. The garage there was absolutely spotless and I’d never seen it looking like that in al my life. They went in to get the paperwork ready. I went in with them but was told that I couldn’t stay. I had to go back into the waiting room. Then they all came out and the four of us walked down the drive. The woman was very slow and her partner was very fast and I was there with the girl. When we went round a bend the guy was suddenly no longer in front of us so we had to wait until the woman caught us up to find out where he had gone. There was something going on in Northwich and it was a lovely afternoon so the girl and I were wondering whether we were going to walk to Northwich or whether we were to go on the bus. We didn’t mind walking and we were sure that the guy would want to walk but she said that her mother (who was this woman) wouldn’t want to as she wasn’t very good at walking. So we waited, and the guy turned up. He’d been reading a notice and that’s why we missed him, a notice about a football competition. Then off we set on foot. We still hadn’t decided whether we would go on the bus or walk but there were loads of things to carry. One of them was a pack of margarine and I ended up with traces of margarine all down the front of my jumper. As we set off the woman said to the girl “you’d better come and sit next to us 2 adults so that you can have a better view” and I wasn’t quite sure what she meant by that.

But interestingly, as seems to be a regular feature in my nocturnal voyages, the moment that I find a pleasant and interesting character to come along with me, someone from my family always pops up to intervene. That really was the story of my life when I lived back in Crewe all those years ago.

Having written my notes now I’m off to bed. Welsh lesson tomorrow so I have to be on form for that, and then I have the rest of the week to do plenty of things that have been building up. Far too many of them just now and there seems to be more and more.

Wednesday 19th August 2020 – TODAY …

… I actually made it outside the building. And if that isn’t progress I don’t know what is.

And that’s not all

Another thing that will take everyone completely by surprise is that when the alarm went off at 06:00 this morning I was already up and about sitting at the computer doing some work.

And not only that – I’d been on a few little rambles during the night too.

Crewe Alex were playing someone in the FA Cup at a stadium in Wistaston Road and we were going to the match. We were out by Audlem at 18:00 so we drove, the 4 of us, my father, my brother and someone else, 1 of his friends, in my car. We got to Shavington then I cut through the back into Wistaston and down to Wistaston Road that area going that way. We found a place to park but as I went to park the car I broke the key. The fob bit stayed on the key ring but the blade came out of the fob and stuck in the door. I had to lock the car with that. My father was in a Mercedes so I checked his doors as well and someone had left all his doors open so I locked them as well. Then we got into someone else’s car to drive to the ground. I thought for a minute that if we are in someone else’s car, maybe my father’s car, who on earth was it whose car I had locked? It turned out that we were in a FIAT, another person’s car. We drove down to where the park was then along Wistaston Road that way, trying to find a place to park. Then I had a sudden revelation that while I had the key fob I couldn’t find the key blade. Where the hell had I put that? Without that, how was I going to get home? I started to panic and go through my pockets to find this key blade and I couldn’t find it anywhere. I awoke in one of these cold, miserable sweats again.

About an hour later we were stealing a couple of trains to go and do some excursions that we had done one night per week for I don’t know how long. We got to where the carriages were stabled. One row of carriages already had a locomotive attached but the one that I was going to take didn’t so I had to go and hunt down an engine afetr I had the carriages cleaned and it wasn’t in the normal place. I had to hunt down a few sidings until I came across 4 of them but the sidings looked a bit damaged and it wouldn’t be possible to get the locomotives out. The points then had to be set in the right place so I had to walk back and on walking back I came across more that I’d walked past and not noticed, these locomotives that were parked up as spares. The other two people manning the other train they were there as well, arguing about the uniform that they were going to wear. I thought that this is ridiculous because there were other things a darn sight more important than worrying about than the uniforms they were going to wear but they were insisting on organising some kind of uniform even if it mean cutting a jacket out with plywood which was what they were doing. I was trying to work out how I was going to get my locomotive to my row of carriages because of course all of the points were being controlled from the signal box and I couldn’t get to change them over at all so this was going to become rather complicated for getting my train ready for going on this illicit excursion.

Unsurprisingly, I ended up back in bed shortly afterwards after all of this activity and it was round about 08:00 when I finally crawled out of bed.

However, I did manage to stay out of bed for the rest of the day and not even crash out for a minute. Add to that the fact that I’ve managed two meals today – muesli at lunch and then mashed potato and vegan burger for tea – and you can see that I’m slowly on the road to recovery.

This afternoon I went outside and brought some stuff in from Caliburn. The NIKON 1 was one of the things that I rescued. The new acoustic guitar was another.

And I managed to climb back up the steps with the stuff too, although I had to sit down straight away and rest. I’ve not recovered that much.

All of the photos that I took on my voyage – whether on the NIKON 1, the NIKON D500 or the mobile phone are now uploaded to the computer and I’ve actually made a start on editing them.

Only a start though. I think that I’ve done three of them.

As well as that, I’ve had a good play with the new guitar. And I like it more and more. The neck is reasonably narrow which means that I’m struggling somewhat to find the correct position for the strings but it makes playing bar chords so much easier.

So if I feel better tomorrow I might try to go for a little walk and see if I can manage some kind of distance. But one thing is certain – it’ll be a while before I’m back running again at this rate.

Friday 19th June 2020 – GUESS WHO …

thora marite port de granville harbour  manche normandy france eric hall… is back in town today?

And if you guessed Marité you get one point. Guessing Thora brings you another point. And if you guessed them both, you earn three gold stars, five merit marks and a night at the opera with your favourite film star

We’ve had what can only be described as a “busy” day in port today.

thora normandy trader baie de mont st michel port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallAnd if you had added Normandy Trader to your list, you would have won the entire internet.

She came into port on the morning tide by the looks of things because I noticed her in the harbour when I went out for lunch. Her turn-round wasn’t as quick as just recently as she didn’t leave until the afternoon tide by which time, as she was leaving, Thora was on her way in and they waved at each other as they passed.

Like I said, it’s been a busy day in port today. All we need now is a gravel boat and the Loch Ness Monster and we’ll hit the jackpot

marite port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallSo while you admire the photos of Marité manoeuvring … “PERSONoeuvring” – ed … her way into harbour this afternoon in the rainstorm, let me tell you about my day today.

Last night, as regular readers of this rubbish might have noticed, I crashed out well and truly long before I finished writing my notes. No sense in fighting to stay awake. i called it an early night.

But as what usually happens in cases like this, it didn’t do me any good at all because in news that will shock just about everyone, I was up and about long before even the first alarm went off.

When did that happen last?

marite port de granville harbour  manche normandy france eric hallSo in the absence of any beauty sleep (and I need all that I can get of course) I had my medication and then had a listen to the dictaphone.

Unfortunately what went on during the night is not the kind of thing that I would like to recount so close to mealtime so I’m afraid that you’ll all have to do without it today. I accept no responsibility for your appetite.

However, a very warm welcome to Jem who made his debut appearance last night in my nocturnal meanderings. The list of visitors is growing and growing. We might even have a gravel boat and the Loch Ness Monster tonight.

marite port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallOnce I’d dealt with that, I mixed some dough.

Fresh proper bread flour now that I can get and with fresh yeast. I was impressed with the yeast that bubbled up just like it was supposed to and which I had never seen before. That was impressive.

The mix came out really well too – just as it should be. There’s a certain moment when the mix is just right where it starts to take the sticky dough off your hands and feels like a rubber or elastic ball.

That’s what you should be aiming for, and today’s was really good. So I left it and went to carry on with the notes from yesterday.

marite port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallIt took me about two hours to finish everything, what with one or two interruptions along the way.

One of them was from a school along the Lower North Shore of Québec. They wanted to use a couple of my photos OF ST PAUL’S RIVER on the “Forgotten Coast”.

Unfortunately she didn’t tell me which ones so they took some finding. And when I sent them to her, the mail was too big for her mailbox so I had to do a “wetransfer”.

marite port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallBy the time that the notes were finished, I went to look at the dough to see how it was doing.

And much to surprise it had risen – well over double the size that it was supposed to. So I quickly shaped it and put it in dish that I used to bake my bread, having greased it first.

Onto the side under a damp cloth where it stayed for half an hour or so. I went back into “the office” and made a start on this week’s music course. Have to try to catch up.

marite port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallHalf an hour later, I went back to look at the bread dough underneath the cloth to see how it was doing.

And to my surprise it had gone up like a lift and the cloth had lifted up right off the dish, so much had the bread risen.

This was obviously going to be a really good loaf, I reckoned. I put the oven on and when it was stinking hot, I stuck the bread in. 10 minutes on 230°C and 60 minutes on 210°C (I’ve decided not too cook it for so long this time) and we’ll see what happens.

home made bread place d'armes granville manche normandy france eric hallAnd here’s the finished product.

Just look at this! It’s the first real loaf that I’ve ever made. It looked like bread, sounded like bread, felt like bread, sliced like bread and tasted like bread. I was so impressed.

So that’s the secret then. Decent flour, decent yeast, a decent mix, and not to cook it so long. I’ll have to see what the next one will turn out like, to make sure that it’s not “beginner’s luck”.

Another thing that I’m going to have a go at is fruit bread, like sultanas, dried fruit, walnut, fig, bananas and so on. Something for an afternoon snack.

normandy trader port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallFor lunch I made my sandwiches with some of that lovely bread, and then went outside to sit on my wall in the sun.

This was when I noticed that Normandy Trader had come into the harbour earlier in the morning. They weren’t working on her, which probably means that she’s fully loaded ready to go as soon as the gates open.

But what’s she doing with a forest on board? I thought that Birnam Wood went to Dunsinane, not to Jersey.

By the time that I was ready to go for my afternoon walk, I’d finished my week’s music course. And now I can (in theory at least, because I’m useless on the piano) improvise the blues in diminished scales using the “motivic elements”.

And I’m actually noticing an improvement in my bass playing on the guitar – and not before time too, I reckon.

There was a telephone call this afternoon too. Ingrid rang me up for a chat and that was really nice. It’s been a while since we spoke.

She had lots of news to tell me and we chatted for ages catching up with our news. Despite her ongoing health issues she’s kept out of danger which was very nice to hear

cap frehel brittany coast granville manche normandy france eric hallWhen I went out for my afternoon walk the weather was still quite nice.

There were quite a few people about out there too enjoying the weather. And it was another one of those days where the views out to distance were really good.

We’ve seen Cap Fréhel away down the Brittany coast a few times just recently but today was certainly one of the better days in my memory. I reckon that the cape is about 70 kms from where I’m standing.

cap frehel brittany coast granville manche normandy france eric hallThe above photo came out so well that you could actually see the fort and the lighthouse with the naked eye.

Or, at least, what I assume to be the fort and the lighthouse. Because they were so clear, I cropped the image and enlarged it to see if i could have a clearer indication of what those objects are on the horizon.

And I’m afraid to say that after all of that, I’m still none-the-wiser. I’m not even any better-informed either. The only solution I reckon is for me to go off for a wander with Caliburn one of these days.

It’s been a while since we’ve had an adventure.

boats ile de chausey english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallThe view out to the Ile de Chausey was quite interesting too.

To enhance the image I tried a little artistic effect but it didn’t seem to come out as I wanted it to. Still, it makes a change from a boring flat image.

From there, I threaded my way through the masses and walked on up to the lighthouse to see what was happening there.

fishing from zodiac english channel pointe du roc granville manche normandy france eric hallThe answer to that question was, as usual “not very much”. No aeroplanes, no bird-men of Alcatraz or anything.

What we did have though was a bunch of fishermen. We’ve seen dozens of these just recently, all taking advantage of the suspension of the detention à domicile to fit three months’ fishing into three weeks, even if it means, like these guys, doing it offshore in a zodiac.

But something that surprises me, and that is that in all the time that I’ve seen fishermen out here, and the numbers of fishermen that i’ve seen, I have never yet seen anyone actually catch anything.

fishing from rocks pointe du roc granville manche normandy france eric hallAnd that goes for the fishermen on the rocks too.

We’ve seen dozens of those who have somehow scrambled down (never mind how they expect to scramble up again) the cliffs to the rocks at the water’s edge with their equipment. But today it was somewhat exaggerated. Every rock seemed to have its fisherman perched upon it casting his line into the water.

Te=he tide is on its way in too, and it comes in quite quickly. If they aren’t careful they will end up by being cut off from the shore.

zodiac preparing for launch rue du port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallNo change in the chantier navale today. Still the same couple of boats, so I didn’t hang around there.

Instead I took a photo of a couple wrestling with a zodiac that they had dragged down with a van. It must be getting close to the time when the water will be deep enough to launch a boat from one of the ramps.

Back at the apartment, having finished the week’s work, I could make a start on the arrears.

A few (just a few) more photos from July 2019 edited, and I attacked one of the pages for the website that I’m in the process of rewriting. I need to push on with those.

But at 17:00 I broke it off and went outside.

By now it was teeming down with rain but I’d heard on the bush telegraph that Marité had been seen coming around the headland

chausias thora fishing boat port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallFirst, though, we had Thora coming in.

She made her way down to her usual little corner underneath the crane where she can be unloaded. But how many times is it this week that she’s come into port?

Once she’d installed herself, Marité came in, as we have seen.

Apparently she needed some work doing which required her to be lifted out of the water. The boat lifts that we have seen here in the port de plaisance and the chantier navale have a lifting capacity of just 100 tonnes and as she weighs more than that, she had to go to Lorient where there was a bigger one that could lift her.

normandy trader english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallOn my way back to the apartment I went to the other side of the headland to see if there was any sign of Normandy Trader

She was too far out at sea to take a decent photo, disappearing as she did into a rain squall.

How the weather had deteriorated in just the last two hours.

Back here there was the hour on the guitars and i’m feeling much more comfortable with them now, as I should be after all of the practice that I’ve been having just recently.

Tea was a burger with pasta and veg, followed by some more delicious apple crumble

It was then time for me to Go for my evening stroll.

fishing boat english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallIt had stopped raining by now but still very wet underfoot. Nevertheless I set off up the hill on my run and instead of pausing for breath as I would normally do, turned the corner and ran down to the clifftop, bidding a cheery greeting to the itinerant as I passed.

And once again, we have fishermen just off the shore. A different group too than earlier, but by the looks of things, still having thr same amount of luck.

So with those people not accomplishing anything, I carried on with my walk around the headland once more.

refrigerated lorries fish processing plant rue du port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallNothing much doing along there either so I ran on along the clifftop down to where I usually pause for breath.

Plenty of activity at the fish processing plant tonight. There was a lot of traffic out at sea fishing this afternoon and we saw some of it while we were out on our walk.

Tonight there are four articulated lorries with refrigerated trailers at the Fish processing plant tonight ready to take everything away tonight so that it will be in the seafood shops in the big cities tomorrow morning.

kids playing on the rocks beach plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallFrom there I ran on all the way down the Boulevard Vaufleury and round the corner at the end. And then I pushed on all the way down the rue St Jean, down the alley and back round to the viewpoint at the Rue du Nord.

No picnickers on the beach tonight but we did have a pile of kids scrambling around on the rocks down there tonight.

They don’t look as if they are fishing – at least, the couple nearest the camera, and I’m at a loss to understand what there is about this fascination with the rocks just recently

beautiful sunset ile de chausey english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallThere was far too much cloud for a really decent sunset this evening which is a shame. We can’t win a coconut every time.

One photo came out really well though. It showed up the heavy cloud really well and made a strange reflection in the sea.

From there I ran on back to the apartment to write up my notes.

Tomorrow is Saturday and shopping. I don’t really need all that much, seeing as I haven’t been eating all that much just recently.

But I’ll go just for form’s sake. You never know what I might find at Noz.

Saturday 6th June 2020 – IT’S BEEN A …

mother seagull chicks rue des juifs granville manche normandy france eric hall… somewhat better day today again.

And while you admire the photos of roofs full of seagull chicks staggering around taking their first steps, let me tell you about it.

And in what will probably come as much of a surprise to you as it did to me, then despite my not going to bed until about 00:40 last night, when the first alarm went off at 06:00 this morning I was actually up and about and in the kitchen.

And when was the last time that that ever happened?

seagull chicks rue des juifs granville manche normandy france eric hallIn fact, I was wide awake at 04:45 and couldn’t go back to sleep at all.

Mind you, I know what had caused it. When I awoke I was holding the dictaphone and scratching my head in bewilderment in the middle of dictating a dream

I was back in Gainsborough Road but it was the family house then and it was full of rubbish, all this kind of thing and the garage was half falling down. I’d spent a lot of time trying to work out getting a concreting plan going so I could concrete it over and make a nice base, demolish the garage, make a nice base to start with and get everything tidied up. I’d asked at work and they had put me in touch with a few people. Then we were having a family meal and I mentioned it to my fater “when are we going to do this?” He said “ohh we have a concrete mixer at home. We could do it ourselves”. The discussion became a little heated, all this kind of thing. In the end I just said “as far as my sisters are concerned and my brother is concerned and I’m concerned we’re all fed up of living in a dump. It’s always going to be ‘yes, we’ll do it nexr week – we’ll do it again – we’ll do it some other time – yes, we’ll do it ourselves'”. He turned round and said “it’s all your fault anyway. You can’t bear to get rid of that white Cortina of yours. He started listing all of my junk that was lying around and it was quite true – there was plenty of mine there and I didn’t really have an answer to that and the conversation started to become extremely heated.

mother seagull chicks rue des juifs granville manche normandy france eric hallWhat was bewildering me was the fact that I couldn’t think of an appropriate answer to the story about the white Cortina.

The rest of the story I recognise only too clearly.

But what’s annoying me at the moment is the fact that for the last few weeks I’ve had all kinds of unpleasant companions with me when I’ve been a-wandering during the night – people whom I’d normally go well out of my way to avoid during my waking hours.

Whatever happened to TOTGA? To Castor? To all kinds of pleasant companions who used to come with me on my travels? What has stopped then coming round? We’ve not even had a nocturnal group ramble around Crewe for months.

No breakfast again but I had a shower, and succeeded in smashing my porcelain soap pumper thing. I’ve had that for over two years without breaking it and that’s an amazing feat I suppose.

Today’s shopping was a rather miserable affair. I didn’t buy all that much at all. But then not eating for four days means that I still have plenty of supplies in.

NOZ had some more of the alcohol-free beer that I like and some decent hole-cutters as well as another pack of these breaded soya fillets. LeClerc had nothing of interest in the cheap range but a pack of vegan burgers (as if I don’t have enough) in the expiry-date range.

Mind you, while I was in there I suddenly developed a raging thirst so I bought – and promptly consumed – a litre of orange juice. Past experience tells me that this means that whatever I’m suffering from has now started to move on.

Back here I tidied up a few things and then edited a few (just a few – I’m still not on form) photos from July 2019.

Another surprising thing is that I stopped for food. If the thirst is a sign that my appetite will return I may as well make a start. So I made a sandwich and had some of the apricots that I bought.

This morning I had used the last of my home-made orange and ginger cordial so after lunch I made some lemon and ginger cordial. Four lemons but they didn’t produce anything like enough pulp and juice that they would normally do, so this batch isn’t going to last that long.

While that was doing, I came back in here to carry on with the photos but shame as it is to admit it, I crashed out. With only 4 hours sleep, that’s probably not a surprise but it was still disappointing.

Nevertheless, there was football on the internet this afternoon – the Welsh Cup Final of 2013 between Bangor City and Prestatyn Town. This was Bangor City at their best against a very-mid-table side and everyone would have been expecting a Bangor City walkover – even though Prestatyn scored a surprisingly lucky goal after just a couple of minutes.

However we had on the field a most unlikely hero in the name of John Hill-Dunt. He was Prestatyn’s goalkeeper all the way through their rise up the Welsh pyramid and a most unlikely goalkeeper you will ever meet.

At first glance, he looks as if he’s several stone overweight and that’s probably not far off being correct, but we were treated to what could only be described as a goalkeeping master-class as he single-handedly kept Bangor City at bay.

His performance in this match would have graced any Cup Final, never mind this one. He was beaten once, but, would you believe, by one of his own players.

On the other hand, Prestatyn had an old experienced campaigner up front in Andy Parkinson who could teach any young defender a thing or two about professionalism, and a young livewire called Jason Price who didn’t know when to stop running.

You can SEE THE HIGHLIGHTS HERE but you aren’t going to see the half of the excitement in this match.

waves plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallAfter that I went for my walk around the walls, considerably later than usual.

And it was not very pleasant at all out there this afternoon. We were in the middle of a howling, swirling gale and I didn’t enjoy it for a minute.

The tide was some way out but you would never have guessed, seeing how the wind was rolling the waves right up to the promenade at the Plat Gousset

There weren’t too many people about out there today, which is hardly any surprise in all of this.

builders material on quayside port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hall
My walk took me on round past the Square Maurice Marland to check on the seagulls and their chicks.

And to check on what else is going on too. And it looks as if we are going to be having a visit from Thora or Normandy Trader sometime very soon. There’s a whole load of building material and timber now neatly stacked on the quayside.

Mind you, I wouldn’t like to be out there in one of those flat-bottomed boats in this kind of weather right now. But then that’s what they are paid for.

ecluse tidal gates opening port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallAs I stood there watching, I could hear the bell go off across the harbour there.

It’s that time of day. The harbour gates open at 105 minutes before High Tide and sure enough, bang on time, here they were opening up.

There have been a couple of occasions now where we have seen them open and, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, even one occasion when I was standing on top of them.

Not astride the opening, luckily.

la grande ancre enters port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallAnd a couple of minutes after they opened borne in on a bouyant tide of silt, cane La Grande Ancre

No idea where she’s been, of course, but she’s not much of a shape to withstand a good old Nor’Easter either.

So having seen her safely into harbour, I headed on for home.

And for a change, I decided to try some tea tonight. A small potato, a handful of mixed veg and a breaded soya steak followed by a small slice of strawberry tart and coconut dessert.

waves storm baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france eric hallMuch to my surprise, it all managed to stay down although there were times when I wasn’t quite so sure about it.

And then I went out for my evening walk – and I DO mean walk because it was totally impossible to run in this wind. I felt really sorry for the itinerant who is back huddled up under his hedge but I don’t for the life of me understand why he hasn’t gone to ground in one of the old bunkers.

There’s the old watchman’s cabin and the old stone shellfish-drying building, which are out of the wind and have roofs where he’d be far more comfortable.

waves storm chateau de la crete granville manche normandy france eric hallApart from him and someone taking a video cam of the wind, I was the only other person out there.

There wasn’t anyone at all so I had a very lonely walk – although I did manage something of a run down along the clifftop above the chantier navale.

No change in there – still the two boats from yesterday – but I could see the waves thundering into the headland down underneath the Chateau de la Crête.

waves storm chateau de la crete granville manche normandy france eric hallThe sea was coming in there with an incredible amount of power so I stood and watched it for a while.

Not for long though because no-one could stay out there very long in that. I ended up coming home – walking and not running. No-one could run out there in that.

But now I’m home and I’m thoroughly exhausted. I’m still not as well as I ought to be but I’ve fetched some frozen pizza dough out of the freezer in case I want my usual pizza tomorrow evening.

waves storm chateau de la crete granville manche normandy france eric hallThere’s no bread in the house now either except what’s in the freezer so I reckon tomorrow when I wake up I’ll make a mix and see where that takes me through the day.

if the oven is going on for a pizza at some point in the evening it may as well go on for a loaf of bread a couple of hours earlier.

But not tonight. I’ve had a long day despite the little pause in early afternoon and I’m off to bed.

waves storm chateau de la crete granville manche normandy france eric hallSunday tomorrow, so no alarm. And I’m hoping that it’s not going to be another 04:45 start.

So I’ll leave you with the final pic from this evening and go to bed

See you tomorrow

Thursday 20th February 2020 – NOW HERE’S A THING!

When the first alarm went off this morning at 06:00 I was actually sitting at my computer working.

And yes! I had been to bed – not a case of staying up all night, as has happened on several occasions, eben though it was something of a rather late – in fact very late night (a huge pile of my favourite tracks came onto my playlist while I was thinking of going to bed so I stayed up and listened to them).

It all happened this morning quite by accident too. I awoke at about 05:20 to find myself dictating into the dictaphone that wasn’t switched on. The reason – a flat battery.

None around by the bed (I forgot to look in the camera bag) so I had to leave the bed to find one. In the radio bag there was only one so I had to search the apartment to find some more.

By the time that I found them, I was wide awake so there wasn’t much point in going to bed. I may as well start work. And I wish I knew where that battery disappeared to. It was one of my new ones too.

So I had my medication and was checking the dictaphone when the alarms went off.

I was back in Hankelow Hall again There was a huge crowd of us having a party or something and Clare Channing was there and I can’t remember who else and her husband. They had the electric on for some reason or other and were having a party. I was upstairs trying to do something and had to go to the bathroom so I went in and it was overwhelmed with cobwebs and things but there were still things hanging everywhere and so on. But there was toilet paper which was great. I switched on the light but the light wouldn’t work. I tried putting the bulb in various positions to see if that was something wrong but no. But I thought it was still light so I could go anyway. But I was called down at that point. A lot of people had gone and there were just a few around. Someone brought a big plate of sandwiches and gestured towards them “there’s some here that you can eat”, some kind of paste or something on really dark brown bread like German. I said I hope that I’m going to get more than this for my tea because there was really only two triangles and I can eat a lot more than that when I’m going. But no this seemed to be my entire teatime and I felt a sense of dismay at that.
I was In Hankelow Hall last night and there was a lot of us there doing something downstairs. I went upstairs to use the bathroom and it was all covered in dust and there were decorations everywhere all over the wall and everything, cobwebs, but I went in al the same. I found some toilet paper which was just as well but I couldn’t get the light switch to work which was odd. It wouldn’t come on. I messed around with the cable for a bit trying to get that into a better position but that didn’t work either. I realised that I was going to be more embarrassed by getting further, deeper into this than I intended to. And someone shouted out, it was a cry of “Maths” so I had to go downstairs and eat my maths. We were in a building like St Joseph’s so I went downstairs and changed my money and got some maths, changed some more money and got some motorbike company and had my evening meal. Although I was sitting at a table with a few people I had my thoughts practically about me and I stayed like that until the alarm went off at 07:15 when I was the first out of the door and got a boat ready to sail off to see the animals to see how they had survived the winter.
I’m not sure if the second part of the above is the same as the first part and dictated a second time in a different fashion, or whether it really is a different voyage that, by simple coincidence, is related to the first one.
A little later I was doing something but I can’t remember quite what that involved a couple of old cars and I had to swap these old cars around. I ended up in a black Citroen traction avant. I had to drive it up the road and down a slip road onto the motorway and off again somewhere. I got up to the set of traffic lights where you turn left for the motorway and turned onto the sliproad. Round about there, there was a boy and a girl weaving about in the road on pushbikes talking to each other and I clipped the heel of the boy on the bike. Of course that was all I needed! he insisted on filling in an accident form, all this kind of thing. Of course this traction hadn’t moved for years and there was no paperwork with it. he was quite insistent about this so I had a root around in the vehicle, found some kind of paper about something and he seemed to be quite satisfied with this, saying that the controle technique was OK and so on. In the meantime I was talking to this girl about the car. She said “if this was 30 years older it would be a real veteran”. I said “I know. It came out of a barn down on the French border somewhere (… I was in Belgium …) and we were having a friendly chat about this car and he was getting a bit up in the air about all kinds of things which he was right to do but anyway …

After breakfast I sat down and split up a few digital music files into their component tracks. And while it might have been more straightforward that on previous occasions, it was not without its complications.

One of the albums ended up with 19 minutes of extra music and of those, I only recognised one. I ad to search all the way through a pile of catalogues until I could find which version of the album it was and, more importantly, the timings because not every catalogue entry has the timings.

And then I had to listen to samples of the extended tracks to make sure that it really was what I was expecting to hear and that it was all in the correct order – because I’ve been caught out with out-of-order recordings before, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall.

“But why are the recordings out of order?” I hear you ask

The answer is that with studio master tapes, they are recorded, quite simply, in the order that they are recorded. However, unless it’s a concept album or something where the running order is crucial, the producer will then try to sort out the tracks so that there’s as near as possible an equal length of recording on each side of an LP or a cassette. And quite often, that’s nothing like the order in which they were recorded on the studio master tapes.

stage me vie dans la manche place general de gaulle granville manche normandy france eric hallThat was the cue for me to head into town and LIDL so I had a quick shower and put the washing machine on the go before leaving the apartment.

There was nothing whatever of any relevance on the way down into town so I didn’t loiter around. But my route took me onto the Place General de Gaulle where they have assembled the stage, to see what else was happening.

And there was certainly plenty of excitement there this morning.

ma vie dans le manche place general de gaulle granville manche normandy france eric hallThere was a bunch of guys manhandling a trailer around on the square, so thinking that they might be trying to steal it, I went to see if they needed a hand.

Actually there were delivering it, not taking it away. And I’ve no idea what it might be except that it makes reference to ma vie dans la Manche – “my life in the Manche” (the département here).

And so my thought is that it might well be some kind of sales pitch, tourism or advertisement thing ready to try to seduce the crowds at Carnaval.

chapiteau marquee parking cours jonville granville manche normandy france eric hallInstead of going up the rue Couraye I went along the Cours Jonville to see how they were getting on with the chapiteaux, the marquees that we saw yesterday.

And by the looks of things they might well be almost finished over there now. And that’s a really impressive task that they’ve undertaken to do it so quickly.

Mind you, they’ve r^probably had plenty of practice doing it. I imagine that the marquees are hired in and that the fitters and installers come from the hirers and do this every week.

stage cours jonville granville manche normandy france eric hallBut this is a new thing and I’d forgotten all about this, even though I stood on it last year to have a good view.

There’s a Princess of Carnaval and on Sunday she’ll be standing on this stage to address her loyal supporters.

And I’m amazed at just how quickly they’ve set up this stage too. There wasn’t even a hint of this here yesterday lunchtime when I came for my bread so it looks as if they must have dashed through the installation yesterday afternoon.

funfair fete foraine place pierre semard gare de granville manche normandy france eric hallUp past the cinema and onto the rue Couraye that way up towards LIDL.

At the roundabout at the Place Pierre Semard by the railway station, I came to another halt. On Monday as I came by there were just a couple of lorries here but today the fête foraine, the funfair is practically all installed ready for the opening on Friday evening.

These people don’t ‘arf crack on with this kind of work when they have a timetable to which they have to adhere

renovating old car spares shop avenue du marechal leclerc granville manche normandy france eric hallWhen I first moved here there was a car spares shop and rally centre in the avenue du Marechal Leclerc but it closed down not long after I arrived.

A few months ago the windows were pained over on the inside as if something was going on there but there were o visible signs of anything at all. Today though, they’ve ripped out the shop window.

And so with this work going on, it looks as if there’s going to be a new occupier in there. I wonder who it might be and, more importantly, what they might be selling.

gluten free products lidl avenue aristide briand granville manche normandy france eric hallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that over the last few weeks we’ve been examining LIDL here for vegan and vegetarian products on sale as their range slowly expands.

What we’re featuring today is another discovery that has taken me by surprise, namely a range of gluten-free products. This is a major Leap into the Unknown by a shop like LIDL but it’s a sign of the times, I suppose.

But it’s not all good news though. It’s a good job that I bought those vegan burgers when I did because there are none in the freezer today. Whether it’s a temporary rupture of stock or something more permanent remains to be seen.

And LIDL felt the benefit of my largesse rather more than usual today. They were selling bathroom stuff in there and one of the things that they had was a magnifying tabletop mirror, something that I don’t have and which I can certainly put to good use.

building work impasse de la corderie granville manche normandy france eric hallbeing rather later than usual today I didn’t loiter around too much but headed for home.

And regular readers of this rubbish will recall a while ago that we saw them erecting a crane outside a house in the Impasse de la Corderie, but not a great deal happened subsequently. Today though, there’s some shuttering gone in and a pile of breeze blocks have been delivered.

Clearly things are going to start happening there sometime soon. I wonder what that will be.

fairground kiddies corner fete foraine parking rue saint sauveur granville manche normandy france eric hallOver the last few days we’ve seen them erecting the fairground attractions on the Parking Hérel.

That’s all the heavy stuff going in there but there’s a smaller car park next to it in the rue Saint-Sauveur and they are setting up a few attractions there today.

So that looks as if it’s going to be Kiddies’ Corner for all of the tiny tots to have their round of fun. As you can see, in one fashion or another the Carnaval and the fête foraine are taking over the town.

compactor parking rue du port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallAt la Mie Caline I picked up my bread and headed back up the hill towards home.

And my progress was erected in dramatic fashion by the sight down on the parking area that they’ve been renovating where they ripped out the old railway lines.

We have a compactor down there now flattening down the surface. So I imagine that they are going to be putting the top layer on there any day now.

That’s going to be exciting to see what they are doing – I hope.

Back here at the apartment I reflected on the fact that I hadn’t made any observation whatever about the climbs up the hills today. That alone tells me tjat I must be feeling somewhat better than of late.

And so I made a coffee and returned to the digital sound files.

As well as the ones that I’d previously downloaded, I actually managed to track down a couple more and they were summarily dealt with too.

The next task was to make myself a decent badge with my name on it for the weekend. We have badges for the radio but with our given names scrawled on the back in felt-tipped marker pen. I wanted something much more official so I scanned my badge, inserted text with my name in bold font, and then printed out two copies on stiff paper and glued them back-to-back

And it’s moments like this that I wished that I had my laminator here.

This was another job that took an hour to do. 5 minutes to scan the badge, 5 minutes to insert the ext and 5 minutes to print it out and stick it together, and blasted 45 perishing minutes to find that flaming thing that I sodding well had in dratted hands 10 damned minutes earlier.

By now it was lunchtime so I made my butties.

nw-700 neweer microphone holder place d'armes granville manche normandy france eric hallThis afternoon I had plenty to do.

Not the least of which was to contact the company who made the desktop mike stand that I ordered and which came the other day. The mike mounting is about 2.5cms and yet the diameter of the microphone is actually 4.5cms.

It looks as if the wrong mounting bracket was put in the box so I had to photograph the set-up to send off to the suppliers.

Of course I don’t have my coloured ruler – that’s in the pocket of my jacket that’s hanging up in a hotel bedroom in Calgary – so I had to invent one.

Coloured rulers – where each inch or centimetre is coloured differently are really useful because when you are photographing objects like this you can lay the ruler alongside it then take your photo, and the presence of the coloured ruler in the shot shows at a glance the effective size of the object.

Tidying up was next. I’ve found that the plastic containers in which I’ve been buying my carrots fit nicely in the small drawer of my desk – suspended from the top of the sides leaving a space underneath.

And so I tidied the drawer out and found a few things about which I had completely forgotten

Final task for today was to start the photos from the summer. All of June is now finished and I’ve now started on July.

But so much for my shipboard idea about placeholders. By the time that I’d reached just number 7 I’d already overtaken the placeholder numbers.

And the fault in the images on the portable computers doesn’t seem to be the photos but the screens, as I suspected. On this screen, which is quite expensive and good quality, as well as being more modern technology, they look so much better.

A couple of interruptions though. The afternoon walk was one of them but I didn’t go far as we were having a torrential downpour and hurricane-force winds. I did about half a lap in an ad-hoc direction that kept me out of the wind, and then came back.

The second interruption was … errr … a little relax. And no susprise given my night. The only surprise was that it was only for about 10 minutes and wasn’t all that deep.

Tea was all of the leftovers with spicy tomato sauce and pasta with vegetables, followed by apple pie and raspberry sorbet with chocolate sauce and it was magnificent.

And then the evening walk. The weather had subsided but it was still quite damp outside.

Nevertheless that didn’t stop me going for my evening runs. And for two days on the run … “groan!!” – ed … I ran on for a good few metres on my first run and on my second run ended up halfway up the ramp instead of flaking out at the foot.

Yes, I’m definitely feeling better.

And for two days on the run, Minette was there on her windowsill waiting for her stroke. It’s very relaxing, stroking a cat. Good for easing the stress.

new pizza van place cambernon granville manche normandy france eric hallThe pizza van was there again, parked bang outside Le Contremarche, the new posh restaurant in the Place Cambernon.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I pointed out the other week that she had a new van. And now it seems to have been painted. Business must be good.

So now I’m home, finished my notes and ready for bed. And with new batteries in the dictaphone I’m hoping for a decent night’s sleep.

Whether or not I have one is another matter.

And no water craft today either. What is happening to me?

Monday 27th January 2020 – IT WAS HARD THIS MORNING …

… to get out of bed at 05:30 but I managed it – only just.

And by the time the third alarm went off at 05:45 I was already on my way down the road having rinsed my empty bottles, packed my rucksack and put the key to my room in the key disposal box.

sncb am 80 multiple unit gare du midi brussels belgium eric hallWhen the first of the normal series of alarms went off at 06:00 I was sitting in a train at the station in Leuven.

It’s an elderly AM80 electric multiple-unit. Covered in graffiti and not very clean at all. But the fact is that it’s here, it’s leaving at 06:04 and it’s travelling non-stop into Brussels.

That’s good enough for me.

At the Gare du Midi I went into the Carrefour, bought myself some raisin bread for breakfast and then went to sit down to wait until my train is called.

sncf tgv reseau 38000 gare du midi brussels belgium eric hallWith half an hour to go before departure, I took the initiative and went myself to look for the train on the off-chance that it might be ready.

And sure enough, here it is sitting on the platform ready to go. It’s one of the “Reseau 38000” PBA (Paris Bruxelles Amsterdam) trainsets built for the start of thatservice in 1996.

To my surprise the door was open and I was able to go in and find my seat – a good 25 minutes to go before departure.

A ticket inspector came by and I thought that he was going to heave me out but he simply checked my ticket and that was that.

As for the journey itself, I have no idea at all about it because I slept for most of the route. This early start caught me up good and proper.

We arrived about 10 minutes late but that didn’t inconvenience me at all. The Metro was quite rapid even though it was crowded and I had to stand all the way, and I arrived at Montparnasse a good hour before my train was due to leave.

With the new timetable, it now arrives and departs from a platform in the main station complex rather than the Vaugirard annexe. In some ways that’s a good thing because it saves me a 10-minute walk, but in other ways it’s not so good.

That’s because Montparnasse is a huge, windswept desolate, cold station whereas the Vaugirard annexe had a nice draught-free glass waiting room where it’s reasonably comfortable to sit.

But hunting around, like you do … “like YOU do” – ed … I found an ideal hidey-hole where I could even see an electronic departure board.

With 15 minutes to go, my train still hadn’t been posted so i went to look for it. And I found it sitting at one of the platforms. Meantime, the PA announcer was telling us that “the departure details are currently unavailable” – which was the craziest thing that I’ve ever heard seeing as at the time she was making the announcement I was actually looking at it.

GEC Alstom Regiolis gare de granville railway station manche normandy france eric hallEventually we were called to the train – exactly where I said it was – and we could board it.

For part of the way, as far as L’Aigle, I had a very charming young female companion but after she left, I dozed off and there I stayed, fast asleep again, almost until we reached Granville.

Bang on time into the station we were, although it took me a few minutes to get my things together. And then I headed off into the rain.

circus marquee chapiteau cirque parc de val es fleurs granville manche normandy france eric hallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that a couple of weeks ago a notice had appeared in the car park of the Parc de Val es Fleurs to the effect that a chapiteau – a marquee – was to be erected there.

Just for a change I came back home that way to see if there was anything exciting happening. And sure enough, we did have our chapiteau in all of its glory, surrounded by a load of caravans.

It’s a circus, apparently, and even as I watched a huge pile of schoolkids filed their way into the chapiteau. They were obviously going to be treated to a matinée performance all to themselves.

joly france spirit of conrad charles marie port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallNow here’s a thing!

For the last I don’t know how many weeks we’ve seen Spirit of Conrad up on blocks in the chantier navale. But no longer, by the looks of things.

Here she is, in the inner harbour with Joly France on one side of her and Charles-Marie on the other side. But no Aztec Lady. It must have been her that we saw heading out into the English Channel in the wake of Normandy Trader the other day.

Barry Hay once famously told us “one thing that I gotta tell you man – that it’s good to be back home!” and he’s absolutely right. A year or two ago, for the first time ever in my life I felt the pangs of homesickness after I’d been away from here for a couple of months.

This place really is my home and I was glad to be back here, even if it was absolutely freezing cold with no heating having been on. And to my delight a parcel for which I had been waiting since the end of November has finally arrived, at long last.

Nevertheless I sat down in my nce comfy chair and did nothing until tea time. I’m entitled to a relax after my efforts of today.

For tea, in the absence of any special willpower just now, I grabbed a frozen curry out of the freezer – the left-over leftovers from a few weeks ago. With rice and veg, including sprouts and spinach, it was delicious. And followed down by fruit salad and lemon sorbet.

trawler english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallThe rain held off tonight for about 5 minutes after I set out for my evening walk – and then I caught the lot. All of it!

The tide was well-in and there were several trawlers out there heading in to harbour with their catches so I took a pick of one.

The lights of St Malo were looking quite good tonight too but the wind was far too strong for me to take a steady shot with the camera. The tripod wouldn’t have fared any better either – the wind would have had that over in a matter of seconds.

fishing boats chantier navale port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallBut round by the chantier navale I could take a photo of the inmates there.

No Spirit of Conrad of course – just a couple of fishing boats and another one right at the back. But the photo is no good because of the wind and rain. I wasn’t going to stay out long.

Getting back into the rhythm, I managed my little run just to keep up with my progress. Whatever else I do, I have to concentrate on getting fit no matter how much it hurts me. I do actually feel much better with having less weight to carry around these days.

So having written up my notes for the day, I’m going off to bed. Tomorrow I’ll be getting back into the routine. There are two and a half radio programmes that need finishing and that’s the priority task for this week.

So I need to be on form.

Monday 20th January 2020 – IT LOOKS AS IF …

carnaval 2020 rue paul poirier couraye granville manche normandy france eric hall… they are getting ready for Carnaval right now.

The one big event of the year here in Granville is the annual Carnaval. We’ve seen THIS TAKE PLACE BEFORE in previous years and this year it’s the period 21-26 February.

And so on my way out up town I noticed that while they were taking down the Christmas lights, they were also putting up the bunting and the location points for this year’s Carnaval in the rue Paul Poirier and the rue Couraye.

This year is passing by quicker than anyone thinks.

Last night, I had a frantic search around for my telephone before going to bed. I couldn’t find it at all and I needed it for the alarm. Eventually, after phoning myself up, I managed to locate it and I could go to bed in peace of mind.

Not that I needed it though. I was wide awake at 05:30 for some reason that I haven’t quite understood, and up and medicating when the alarm went off.

With just a brief pause for breakfast, I bashed on with my editing of the interview that I had had with US Granville’s Chief Coach and I finished it just about. 8:30 of question and answer there was, and it’s not too bad.

There was also time to look at the dictaphone and I had indeed been off on a voyage here and there. There was an OUSA meeting taking place in the USA so off I went. I was in this town looking at all of the food shops and saying to myself “God how I love being in the USA with all of this food on offer here, all of these bakeries and all of these things even though I can’t eat any of it”. The a girl came out – a young girl with glasses and she had a limp, something like that as if she had had polio and I recognised her. She was a student at the Open University … “no she wasn’t” – ed. We ended up having quite a chat and she was saying how she wished she could go to this Conference and so on and for some unknown reason I couldn’t get out of my head the phrase “give me your e-mail address and I’ll add you onto my mailing list”. I could have sent her loads of stuff and could have developed some kind of relationship with her, I suppose.
A little later on there was a group of us in a house and amongst these people was, of all people, someone who has made a dramatic appearance in my life just now … “it didn’t take her long to come a-voyaging with you, did it?” – ed … my brother and a few other people. It was my house in Gainsborough Road and the back part of the back garden was overgrown in weeds and we ended up having a game of cricket. I was the first to go into bat for my team which was my family and the aforementioned person was going along to bowl for her side. I took guard at the entrance to my house and she decided to bowl up the hill Clifton Avenue. She bowled an over that went nowhere near my bat so I couldn’t hit it and score any runs. She went off to get someone else to take over and I was thinking that I hadn’t even asked my family if they wanted to play yet. They would probably tell me to clear off. Anyway that’s how that ended.

Once I’d done that I had a shower and then headed off for my radio meeting, saying “hello” to the builder guy with the cement conveyor as I passed.

It seems that having done the radio programme for MY VERSAILLES TRIP totally alone and unaided from start to finish, I’ve trampled upon an ego here and there because not a single person said anything about it at all – despite the fact that it’s the second most-listened-to podcast that we’ve ever broadcast.

But they can’t be too dismissive because they told me that my interview with Johan Gallon will be broadcast TOMORROW (TUESDAY) AT 17:00 CET (that’s 16:00 UK time, 11:00 Toronto time).

Having worked my feet into the door now, I’ve suggested one or two more things that have been accepted, and there are a couple more that I have simmering away on the back burner.

Bhere was a huge dispute at the meeting about someone’s plan. The idea is to present the “Top 10 of the decade” films, music, TV programme, books etc. The plan is to ask the Literary correspondent, Music correspondent etc to suggest their choices.

A dissenter or two however suggested that everyone on the committee put forward their Top 10 and we have a poll.

No-one was interested in my opinion so I went for a ride on the porcelain horse while they fought it out. But in my humble … “quite!” – ed … opinion they are all wrong. People don’t listen to the radio to hear other people, they listen to hear themselves.

Had it been me organising this, I would have announced that I would be at a Saturday market on one weekend (say the 1st in the month) – then a Brocante the next 1st weekend of the month, a football match at another. anywhere where there is a crowd of people, and then interviewed members of the public to ask them.

Now that’s good radio. You never know what responses you are going to receive and some of them will be absolute gems as my Versailles programme proved. But no-one listens to an idiot, do they?

On the way back I stopped off at LIDL for the shopping where I forgot the bananas and something else that I can’t now remember what it was.

saviem sm6 rue des juifs granville manche normandy france eric hallAnd picking up my dejeunette at la Mie Caline, I came home. Not straight home though because I was sidetracked.

This vehicle is telling us that it’s a Saviem, and on the front wing is a badge telling us that it’s a Saviem SM6. Now as far as I’m aware (and I may be wrong) Saviem was absorbed by Renault and the marque was dropped some time round about the late 80s, and this vehicle is clearly later than that.

Furthermore, the SM6 was a medium-range lorry of about 7.5 tonnes and this certainly isn’t. And so I’ve no idea at all about this.

Having spent so long at this meeting, it was lunchtime already so I grabbed my butties while the grabbing was good.

After lunch, it was time to turn my attention to the radio projects. I’d offered a “live concert spot” to someone but he never came back to me so I resurrected a concert that I’d broadcast in the past.

That took much longer than intended too because you’ve no idea how difficult it is to write 3:07 of text when you only have the sketchiest of information. But at least it’s a foot in the door because I wrote to tell the agents of the artist that the concert was being broadcast and I invited them to send me some more stuff from some more of their artists for broadcast if they like.

Next month’s concert, if this guy still hasn’t got back to me, will involve some German input and I have a cunning plan.

Another reason for the delay was that I was using the new ZOOM H1 dictaphone that I bought. It took an age to configure it and an even greater age to find a memory card that would work in it (one out of five) and an even greater greater age to get it to work, but when I finally did, the quality is miles better than anything that has gone before.

As a result, I’m really impressed with this – almost as impressed as I was with my galvanised steel dustbin.

trawler english channel ile de chausey 	granville manche normandy france eric hallThere was the usual break for my afternoon walk. The high winds are back again and so there weren’t all that many people out there.

There was plenty of activity out there on the ocean waves though. The tide is quite high but nevertheless there were still several trawlers heading towards the harbour.

This one here for example, just sailing … “dieseling” – ed … in past the Ile de Chausey.

trawler english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallThere was another whitish blob right out there in the distance somewhere in the direction of the Channel islands.

Thinking that it might be Thora or Normandy Trader on its way into the harbour, I took a photo of it with the intention of blowing it up, because, despite modern anti-terrorist legislation, I can still do things like that.

But it’s actually another trawler heading into the harbour to unload its catch.

trawler baie de mont st michel entrance light port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallAnd that’s not all either.

There’s another one that’s even closer to home0 It’s rounded the Pointe du Roc and it’s now in the Baie de Mont St Michel on its way into port. Right now it’s just passing by the marker light that indicates the entrance to the port.

Yes, it’s all go out there this afternoon with these trawlers coming home.

customs inspection boat port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallBut there’s clearly been some excitement today somewhere because we have rather an unusual visitor in port.

This is one of the Customs launches and I don’t recall having seen one in here today. And there’s no traffic of any kind in port today – especially not over there by where he is moored – that might warrant the kind of attention that he would bring

So I dunno what’s going on with him, and I wasn’t about to go down there and ask him. I came back home instead.

Once I’d finished the radio programme I made tea. There was one of those vegan galette things left over so I had that with rice and veg and a thick onion gravy.

For my evening walk it was freezing outside and I was alone. So I managed my two runs again. But seriously, I didn’t see a single soul out there tonight.

Rosemary rang up when I returned home and we had a really long chat that went on for almost 2 hours – hence I’m running very late and things that I planned to do won’t be done yet again.

So a very late night tonight. I’m taking one pace forward, and ending up two paces behind.

And the apple pie was delicious.

Saturday 4th January 2020 – HERE I AM …

… back home again after my mega-day out on yet another coach outing.

And mega-day out it was too. With a somewhat late night, I was in no mood to leave the bed at … errr … 05:30 this morning, but needs must when the devil drives, although it took me a while to come to terms with the time.

No time for breakfast. Just enough time to throw something in a rucksack to nibble on, to make some butties from lunch, grab my equipment and head out of the door.

us granvillaise football supporters stade louis dior granville manche normandy france eric hallWe had to present ourselves at the Stade Louis Dior at 07:00. I surprised myself by being there at 06:50

There were only a couple of the “Neva” buses – the buses that provide the public transport around the town – at the stadium so I was anticipating a hard ride all the way to Versailles.

But while I was waiting, I buttonholed the guy who beats the big plastic oil drum at the football matches and asked him a few questions about things.

autocars lemare coaches donville les bains us granvillaise football supporters  granville manche normandy fc versailles 78 Stade de Montbauron, Versailles  france eric hallIt seems that my fears about the transport were unnecessary.

About 5 minutes after I arrived, so did the real transport. Autocars Lemare from down the road at Donville-les-Bains had been engaged and sent along three of their Van Hool executive coaches.

For a change, I drew a good number. A seat on the upper deck of an almost-new double decker. It’s been quite a while since I’ve travelled in such luxury, I’ll tell you that.

Even more surprisingly, we set off bang on 07:30 as advertised. It’s the first time that that’s ever happened.

The first part of the journey was in the dark and it wasn’t safe to move about, so I caught up with my beauty sleep for an hour or so. But once the light came up and I could see what I was doing, I set to work.

Having made an executive decision (that is, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, a decision that if it goes wrong, the person doing it is executed) to lead from the front, I took the microphone and dictaphone with me and interviewed the passengers about their support for the club and their reasons for going to the match.

The dictaphone and the mike work passably in “outside broadcast” situations at the budget end of the scale in which we work, and I can make quite presentable “outside broadcast” radio programmes with the computer. So I’m going to make one – not about the match itself because by the time I will have finished it, it will be old news, but about the supporters.

My own personal opinion is that the club ought to do more to encourage supporters to travel to “away” matches and so having a captive audience to work with, I might make something that will knock on a few doors.

us granvillaise football supporters  granville manche normandy fc versailles 78 Stade de Montbauron, Versailles france eric hallHaving stopped on the way up for a coffee, we arrived at the Stade de Montbauron in Versailles at just after 11:30, for a 13:00 kick-off.

We had to loiter around for a while. They were only letting us into the ground a handful at a tme so as not to cause congestion. That gave me an opportunity to chat to a few more passengers off the other buses.

But the real reason for loitering soon became apparent. Where we were to be standing was actually outside the perimeter of the ground and they wanted to have the opportunity of checking our tickets and our baggage without being overwhelmed in a flood of people.

us granvillaise football supporters  granville manche normandy fc versailles 78 Stade de Montbauron, Versailles  france eric hallStill an hour or so before kick-off and that gave me an opportunity to have a walk around and a look at what was going on.

First thing to do was to eye up the “opposition”. There were about four TV cameras (and maybe more) in the ground and they had a Mercedes Vito van that was kitted out as a mobile control centre.

What wouldn’t I give for something like this? Perhaps I ought to convert Caliburn.

As a treat, I found a bag of chips for myself and eventually managed to track down the stadium’s announcer who let me have a minute of his valuable time by telling me something of his club.

us granvillaise football supporters  granville manche normandy fc versailles 78 Stade de Montbauron, Versailles  france eric hallThe Stade de Montbauron is another one of these one-sided wonders.

There’s a large concrete stand that could accommodate several thousand people and a large standing area in front of it. The “town end” and the far side are effectively inaccessible and the fourth end is a row of concrete steps that are quite uncomfortable to sit on, and in the open air.

My instincts were telling me that this wouldn’t be a nice place to be in the middle of January in a freezing cold rainstorm.

us granvillaise football supporters  granville manche normandy fc versailles 78 Stade de Montbauron, Versailles  france eric hallBefore the kick-off, I’d spoken to one of the crowd control people from FC Versailles 78.

He told me that they were expecting a crowd of maybe just over a thousand, of which 300 were from Granville. I’d heard this “300” figure from elsewhere but I suspected this to be somewhat optimistic.

But no matter how many there were, they were making far more noise than the home side and that’s what counts.

us granvillaise football supporters  granville manche normandy fc versailles 78 Stade de Montbauron, Versailles  france eric hallAs for the match itself, I’m left shaking my head about this one.

For the first 25 minutes or so FC Versailles 78 were like a runaway train as they smashed their way into the Granville defence. I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times in that period when Granville had the ball in the Versailles half.

In fact, I was fearing the worst.

And that’s no surprise because after 14 minutes, they were 1-0 ahead.

Yet another break into the Granville penalty area. A Versailles player in a marvellous position to shoot when a desperate last-ditch sliding tackle robs him of the ball.

The ball bobbles up, hits the Versailles player and bounces back into the Granville defender and hits him – on the arm.

No doubt about it – definitely a penalty within the Laws of the Game. But how unlucky can you be?

For the penalty, the Granville goalkeeper dived to the right, only to be outdone by a beautiful “Panenka” penalty right down the middle.

After 25 minutes, a most astonishing thing happened.

Granville, who up to that moment had been totally anonymous and had barely troubled the linesman down at that end, suddenly came to life.

Lambarette picked up a loose ball in his own area and set off at a hell of a pace down the field on one of the mazy runs that he does and which usually lead nowhere.

But this time, he had half a yard on everyone else and was clear down the field. As the Versailles keeper came out to challenge him, he simply tried a delightful lob right over the keeper and the ball went into the Versailles net for the equaliser.

By my reckoning, that was Granville’s first shot on goal.

The second half started as the first half, with Versailles throwing everything including the kitchen sink at Granville’s defence but Granville stood firm.

Granville’s response was just a whole series of aimless hoofs upfield in the general direction of Ibaye but usually going nowhere near him.

One of Granville’s midfielders I had particularly noticed because up until that moment he had done nothing at all and as a substitute was warming up on the touchline, my money was on him coming off.

But right at that moment as I was musing on the subject, one of these aimless hoofs suddenly landed at his feet. A little bit of trickery found him free of two defenders and one-on-one with the keeper. The keeper went down far too early so the Granville midfielder simply rounded him and tapped the ball in the empty net.

Granville in front? I don’t think that anyone could believe it from the way that the match had been going to that point.

Late in the game Ibaye was replaced and William Sea came on to go upfront. He’s an ex-professional from the Premier League but had a lot of time out with injury and came to Granville to try to rehabilitate himself.

He’s not done much to date, which is probably not a surprise given how long he’s been out, but he’s big and strong and knows the game. Within about 30 seconds of his entry onto the field he had left his mark on both the Versailles centre-halves, and I do actually mean that.

Granville’s forward line definitely became much more lively and purposeful with him up front. It’s one thing that the club has been lacking – a big bruiser up front, and if ever he recovers even half his form he’ll be a handful for any defence at this level.

us granvillaise football supporters  granville manche normandy fc versailles 78 Stade de Montbauron, Versailles  france eric hallSo the final whistle went and Granville had surprisingly won it. No-one would have given any sort of odds whatever on that result after 20 minutes.

The players came down to see the supporters afterwards to thank them for turning up. There’s no doubt about it – the noise that the fans had made throughout the game had been impressive.

The FC Versailles 78 fans left the ground shaking their heads in disbelief, and who can blame them?

us granvillaise football supporters  granville manche normandy fc versailles 78 Stade de Montbauron, Versailles  france eric hallMy work was not over though.

With microphone and dictaphone in hand, I went amongst the crowd and asked several of them their thoughts.

One thing that is important is that I like to engage the youth in any activity like this because youth are the future. So I talked to several kids as well as adults. There were three girls aged about 12 or 13 who I’d seen at every Granville match and who usually chatted away to everyone about anyone and anything.

And they were great, until I produced the microphone. They suddenly dried up and you couldn’t get a word out of them. We saw that phenomenon with one of the girls from Uummannaq the other week.

On the other hand, a boy and a girl aged about 9 could have talked all night to me without the slightest air of self-consciousness and that will be some really good radio if it works.

Having had a bad night, I had a sleep for an hour or so on the way back, but a coffee at a motorway service area awoke me.

So now I’m back home. Tea was out of a tin and seeing as I made almost 110% of my daily activity I didn’t go for a walk tonight.

What I’ll do is have a lie in tomorrow and then try my best to finish the Bain des Manchots. I want that out of the way so that I can do this football supporters’ programme.

There’s this feelign in the back of my mind that for the next foreseeable future i’m going to be up against it.