Tag Archives: early start

Saturday 5th February 2022 – WE’VE HAD A …

F-ZBQA Eurocopter EC 145 bunker pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022… hive of activity out here today, with tons of stuff going on throughout the day and I’ve no idea why.

It’s a Saturday morning and I’m walking to the shops in the town, so it’s no surprise that I stumbled across the helicopter on my way out this morning.

Regular readers of this rubbish will certainly remember what happened last time I walked into town on a Saturday morning and had a close encounter with the aforementioned. That’s something that I won’t forget in a hurry, and I’m sure that you won’t either.

assembly place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022It wasn’t just the helicopter either.

There was a group of people, some of whom in military dress uniform and carrying flags, congregating by a wall just here.

Something else that regular readers of this rubbish will recall is that I actually live in an old military barracks so seeing soldiers and ex-soldiers loitering around is something to which I’m accustomed.

But anyway, I digress. let’s go back to the very beginning and see if I can last out until the end.

Now here’s a surprise.

When I awoke this morning, it was 07:26 – 4 minutes before the alarm. And so in something of a wild fit of bravado, I hauled myself out of bed just before the alarm went off. And that’s not something that happens every day, is it?

Actually, it was too good an opportunity to miss and it will give me something to crow about until I hit the next disaster.

After the medication I checked the messages etc and then listened to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night. There was an army disputing the succession to the French throne or something. Someone who governed the centre had taken the initiative but had ended up being invaded by an army from somewhere else, a Duke, and they had had a airly inconclusive confrontation somewhere already at the south of Paris but now they were shaping up for a really important fight that would decide the future of the country, with an invasion or whatever it was. On eof the guys was facing them anyway. They were all organising their armies for this conclusive battle in order to square up and have a proper one this time.

A little later last night I was with TOTGA. The two of us were planning on going on holiday. There was a big meeting taking place about various trips going so we went along to listen to them. They asked if there were any questions. Someone asked “how do you go from Manchester to the airport?” – basic questions like that that people either know the answer to or they look on Google or something. In the end these questions were becoming rather simple. It suddenly came out that the guy was travelling from Stoke-on-Trent. I asked him if he lived there to which he replied “yes” so I told him to give me his ‘phone number and I’d ring him and he could ask me what he liked etc and I’d be able to tell him perhaps a lot better than he’d hear it in the middle of this meeting where he was getting on everyone’s nerves. There was a lot more to it than this but I can’t remember now.

And later again I was with Keith Emerson and Brian Davison of The Nice. I can’t remember very much about this except that Keith Emerson was knocked off his motorbike by a lorry at a roundabout. I can’t even remember whether he was hurt or not.

I did finally end up on board a ship last night. There were quite a few of us, but no-one we knew. It started off watched a TV programme about these boats that go down to the Antarctic with people on but there was no cabin accommodation or anything – you slept on deck so when there was a storm it was quite problematic. I remember thinking that I’ll tell Rosemary all about this and see if she wants to go. It wasn’t before long that I was on board one heading south. First, it started off that we were in London somewhere and had gone for a meal. There wasn’t a big choice of vegan or vegetarian restaurants. The one that we found was passable, I thought, nothing particular to write home about. A couple of other people were extremely disappointed about it and made something of a fuss to the waitress about what they considered to be the poor food and quality. She came over to me afterwards and asked if I wanted anything else. I was nice about the situation so she said that she would bring me a bowl of chips. By this time I was on the deck of this ship and after waiting many, many, many minutes a bowl of chips appeared so I ate them then went for a wander off around. I ended up below deck where a guy appeared with a bowl of chips. He said “I’ve been looking for you. Here are your chips” so I wondered whose chips they were that I’d eaten just now. He asked if they were OK. They were cold but I wasn’t really all that bothered so I ended up with a second bowl of cold salty chips while I was on board this ship heading south to the Antarctic in all kinds of weather.

To finish off I had to go to the Post Office to post a package. It was a lump of dough and by the time I reached the Post Office it was all soggy and wet. I was sure that the clerk was going to refuse it but she put it in a plastic bag for me. The address label was all manky and wet but she said “I’ll manage”. I went back off to work on board a ship. Someone asked if I had my work with me – my University stuff so I replied “no” thinking that they would just give me a course book to read. Instead, they gave me the entire unit stuff, videos, everything. They asked if that was OK and I replied “well basically it’s OK but I don’t know how on earth I’ll manage to carry all this back afterwards.

F-ZBQA Eurocopter EC 145 place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022By the time that I’d finished typing out all of that I was ready to go into town.

There had been a racket going on outside for a few minutes but I hadn’t paid too much attention to it, but as soon as I walked out of the front door of this building I was immediately confronted by the air-sea rescue helicopter.

He was hovering around down behind the College Malraux so I decided to head that way into town to see what was going on. You never know …

beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022One of the first things that I did once outside, and I’ve no idea why, was to go and have a look at the beach.

However, I may as well have saved the energy. The tide is all the way in right now so there was no beach for anyone to be on right now.

You can though see what I mean about people being down there when the tide is on its way in. It comes in quite quickly and goes all the way to the foot of the cliffs. That means that there is no-where for anyone to shelter.

Being cut off from the foot of the steps can cause all kinds of problems.

joly france ile de chausey baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022As usual, I’m also having a look around out to sea, one of the reasons being that occasionally we catch a glimpse of one of the massive super-ferries leaving St Malo for the UK.

Today though we couldn’t see one, but we did see a ferry of another type.

On her way out to the Ile de Chausey this morning was one of the Joly France ferries, taking advantage of the nice weather. And we can tell that it’s the older one of the two even at this distance because there is no “step” in the stern.

You can see how nice the weather is this morning too. We can see all of the colours on the island and the while houses stand out quite clearly against the rocks.

F-ZBQA Eurocopter EC 145 emergency services pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … Pointe du Roc, the helicopter is still perched on the big bunker here.

Not only is it surrounded by aircrew and rescue personnel, there’s an ambulance and several police cars in attendance. It looks as if there’s something serious going on.

Everyone seemed to be quite busy so I didn’t go over to interrupt them to find out what was going on. I’ll have to wait until tomorrow and see what’s in the newspaper, or else wait for Sue Grey to finish her report.

yacht baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022So leaving them to their own devices I wandered off down the steps to the path below.

There wasn’t anyone else down here at the cabanon vauban, but if there had been, they would have seen this yacht heading out to sea from the port de plaisance.

He, and the couple of others who were following him out, were having a nice day for it. There was plenty of sunshine, and enough wind to push them along nicely, although not too much to make it unpleasant.

My walk down into town was quite lonely. I went practically all the way without seeing another soul. I’ve no idea where everyone was.

chausiaise belle france joly france port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022They certainly weren’t all out at sea because apart from the one Joly France boat that we saw, everyone else was here at the suayside.

From left to right of course we have Chausiaise, the little freighter that goes out to the Ile de Chausey and, occasionally, to the Channel Islands as we saw the other day. And then the two other ferries.

In the middle is the very new Belle France that first showed her face in the port last year to help out with the summer traffic, and then to her right the newer of the two Joly France boats.

The other Joly France boat is of course on her way out to the Ile de Chausey.

concrete reinforcement matting double glazed windows port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022While I was here I had a look at the freight waiting on the quayside.

As well as those red plastic objects that we saw from a distance, we have some concrete reinforcement matting and a pile of double-glazed windows. They’ll need to be tied down correctly on their way across to Jersey just in case the wind gets up.

At Carrefour I bought my mushrooms, some specialty bread and a few other bits and pieces, and then had a wander back through the town centre on my way home. There wasn’t anything going on down there that caught my attention. In fact, I must have been in something or a daze.

assembly place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022Earlier on I posted a photo of an assembly of people here in the Place d’Armes in the courtyard of one of the other buildings.

Back here I stuck my head and the camera out of the window to take a photo and to see if I could hear what they were talking about.

From what I could gather, it was something to do with a handful of soldiers from one of the regiments based here who somewhere in North Africa held of an attack of several hundred “Arabs” (that was the phrase that the presenter used) over a period of several days.

It was in my mind to go out later this afternoon and see if the plaque on the wall behind him made any reference to the incident but I forgot. I’m not much good as a reporter, am I?

And while we’re on the subject, two things have occurred today in this respect.

  1. A journalist in the Grauniad this morning made a huge deal about going to SEE THE “DISAPPEARING HIGHWAY” IN NORTH CAROLINA. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we have done that trip, THE FIRST IN 2005 and THE SECOND IN 2017 to compare the differences so we beat this “scoop by the Grauniad by four and a half years.
  2. A French railway magazine of some description is to feature a series of articles highlighting the destruction, if not devastation, of the railway network in the Auvergne and their editorial team has found an article THAT I WROTE BACK IN 2008 that is relevant to their series, and has asked if they may include it in their magazine. It goes without saying … shameless self-publicist that I am.

Anyway, back here I had a coffee and something to eat to take me up to lunch while I sorted out a few things that needed doing – like preparing news articles for publication and that kind of thing.

After lunch I came here to carry on work but, regrettably, I couldn’t keep going. It wasn’t the same kind of crashing-out that it has been here and there just recently, but for all the good that I did, it may as well have been.

What’s even more depressing is reading back through all of the stuff that I wrote al those years ago and wishing that somehow, somewhere I could summon up the enthusiasm and energy to do it all again with the tons of stuff that’s built up over the years that hasn’t been touched.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022It was even difficult to summon up the energy and enthusiasm to go out for my afternoon walk. and I’m not sure why I wanted to go, having been out this morning for a good walk around.

Having been over to the beach this morning, only to find that there was no beach to go over to, I went again this afternoon at my usual time to see the lie of the land.

Plenty of beach down there right now of course, and plenty of people down there making the most of it. Several dozen at least.

And that’s not a surprise because it was actually such a nice afternoon. Not much wind, a nice blue sky. What more could any man require?

Except maybe TOTGA, Castor and Zero to share it with me of course. And then I wouldn’t know which way to turn, although I’m sure that I’d soon figure it out.

people on beach bouchots donville les bains Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022It wasn’t just down on the beach at the Rue du Nord where there were crowds either.

Out at Donville les bains they seemed to be just as busy. The bouchot stakes were exposed with the tide being so low so n the distance we could see the harvesting teams out there.

They would have to be careful too as there were crowds of people milling around on the beach, getting under the wheels of the tractors and the like.

For the benefit of our new readers, a serendipitous discovery made years and years ago was that shellfish were found growing on some anchor ropes. When they were sampled they were found to have an excellent taste with none of the grittiness that you associate with shellfish grown in the sand.

And so a business has sprung up here in the bay in various locations where stakes are planted in the sea with ropes slung between them for these shellfish, called bouchots to grow.

repairing medieval city wall place du marché aux chevaux Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022For a change, this afternoon I decided to go for a walk around the walls seeing as it’s been a few weeks since I went that way.

From somewhere I summoned up the energy to go down the steps to look at the hole in the wall to see what they had done with that. And by the looks of things, they are well on their way to finishing it.

It’s taken an enormous pile of stones, that don’t seem to match the rest of the stonework and that’s rather sad. I don’t think much of the concrete lintel either. When I was fitting concrete lintels in stone walls I’d set them back a few inches and find some nice flat stone to face them with to make it all look more traditional.

repairing medieval city wall place du marché aux chevaux Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022Up on top it’s looking something of a mess too.

They actually took that wall down to ground level and rebuilt it but at the moment it doesn’t look anything like it ought to do. Maybe when they repoint it, it’ll look much better but you can’t really see it very well with the scaffolding and the fencing in the way.

From there I followed the crowds (because crowds there were a-plenty) along the path underneath the walls. One of my neighbours was there too so we had a chat for five minutes and put the world to rights.

a href=”https://www.erichall.eu/images/2202/22020044.html”>red autogyro baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022While I was there, I was overflown by another light aeroplane from the airfield.

Today it’s the red powered hang-glider that’s going past. And he has a passenger too by the looks of things. Been for a spin around thr bay to take a few photos probably, and one of these days I’ll have to get out and do the same.

But not right now as I have too much to do. I carried on with my walk around the walls, far too close to the madding crowd for my comfort.

rue st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022On place that I wanted to visit was the Rue St Michel to eat some humble … “you?” – ed … pie.

Having complained bitterly about the state in which they left the surface, they came back a couple of weeks later and put the stone setts down to make it look much more like medieval.

They don’t have the curves sorted though. Medieval stone paving has nice symmetriical curves in it that looks really beautiful but they haven’t been able to recapture that here. It’s probably another one of these medieval skills that’s long-been lost, or else they won’t spend the money and the time in doing it correctly.

red autogyro baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022Walking back along the walls, the red powered hang-glider went past again.

By the looks of things, while I’ve been out he’s been back home, swapped passengers and come back out again. He must be keeping busy and that has to be good for business.

Having forgotten to look at the plaque as I said that I would, I came back home for my coffee and to attack another sound file to select the broadcastable bits. And it’s not easy, for various reasons.

But anyway, there’s just one sound file to select and then I can get off and assemble things for broadcasting.

Tea tonight was a stuffed pepper, seeing as there was a rather sad-looking pepper left and I’m off to Leuven on Wednesday. And now that I’ve finished my notes I’m off to bed.

Having had TOTGA visit me last night, I wonder who’ll pull the short straw tonight. I ought to promote a lottery, oughtn’t I?

Monday 31st January 2022 – WHAT THE H*LL …

sunset baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022… happened to me this morning?

While you admire a few photos that I took of the sunset this afternoon that illuminated the Baie de Mont St Michel, I’ll surprise you all by telling you that not only was my radio programme finished by 09:15, I was actually listening to it running through.

and that includes having to rewrite and redictate about a third of it because I wasn’t satisfied with what I’d done. And then it needed some further editing too because after I’d re-edited the speech parts that i’d redone, I’d forgotten to shunt the rest of it down the line.

sunset baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022And if you are wondering how come I managed to do it so quickly and so comprehensively, you’ll be even more surprised when I tell you that at 04:34 I was sitting at my desk in here starting work.

Whatever happened during the night I really don’t know but I had something like a reasonable sleep for a few hours and that was that. And it was absolutely impossible for me to go back to sleep.

There wasn’t any point in lying in bed trying and failing to sleep and waiting for the alarm to go off at 06:00 so I arose from the dead and started work.

The earlier I start, the earlier I finish.

But as far as the radio programme went, today was the first time that I’ve actually felt that a series of speeches and introductions went well. I must be improving, which I suppose that I ought to seeing as this was programme 148 that I was preparing.

If I’ve not learnt anything in all this time then there’s something seriously wrong.

After breakfast and after having listened to the programme I had a listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been and, more importantly, who had come with me. There was a whole pile of stuff going on last night about someone who walked out of my life last summer, about how someone was trying to make her husband reduce the price of the house that he had for sale and if necessary sell it to them yard by yard so that they could keep under their budget. She asked them to quite honestly prepare some kind of statement about how their personal wealth had increased and so on over the last 12 months. She was walking home with Phil Lynott and saying how much he contributed towards her childhood. There was tonnes of other stuff as well and she finished by saying that as of the end of the month or the end of the week their address would be “The Turfs” but she didn’t actually say where, “presumably for a very good reason” said the cynic inside me. I dunno about this but there was tons of stuff and I missed most of it

And later Nerina was back again last night after our row on Thursday (was it on Thursday? At least, that’s what I said during the night). We were having a chat about things trying to organise ourselves. We came to the conclusion that we’d been using the car far too much. We thought about the idea of trying to do things differently. We were becoming more organised in the kitchen etc but again the question of the car turned up. I said “how about going somewhere on the bikes?”. Nerina had a bike and I had the bike of Marianne’s. They both needed som adjustment but I said that we could do that and spend some days out on our bikes and see where we went from there. She was coming up with a few reasons why we couldn’t do that but none of those seemed to relate to the point that we would try to see what we could do about the bikes. We could have a go at it. I had the impression that she wasn’t all that keen on the idea of cycling but it seemed to me that if we were to stop using the car to go to work or something it was the obvious answer. Spending half a day trying to organise it to see if it would work would be a good plan. Anyway she was off making something with 3 apples and I was washing up in the kitchen and this conversation was going on and on. I was trying to persuade her to at least have a try about doing it.

Following that I went and had a really good shower and clean-up to prepare for my trip to the physiotherapist, and then I … errr … fell asleep.

It was therefore a rather late lunch and then I headed out for my appointment.

le loup baie de mont st michel port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022At the corner of the Boulevard des 2E et 202E de Ligne and the Boulevard Vaufleury I stopped to make sure that the NIKON 1 J5 was working.

The weather today was grey and windy – very windy in fact – and there was more than just a hint of rain in the air as you can tell from the rainstorm that’s out there just offshore from the Pointe de Carolles. We can’t see very much out there in the distance this afternoon.

The tide was well out as you can see. The inner harbour is pretty much dry and Le Loup was slowly rising up out of the waves, just about to be buzzed by a long-distance seagull.

spirit of conrad black mamba charles marie anakena belle france port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022Meanwhile, there is quite a full house down there in the harbour.

From left to right insofar as I can identify them, we have Spirit of Conrad with an unidentified yacht next to her. Then the yacht with “154” on her hull is, I think, Black Mamba moored alongside Charles Marie.

to their right is Anakena, then a couple of unidentified fishing boats and finally the new Belle France. But no Aztec Lady. It looks as if she’s headed off to the Arctic already.

As for Anakena, her owners were talking about Greenland not so long ago so I sent them a message to ask about their trips. However, as you might expect, they never replied.

The next person who complains about a recession with get a smack in the mouth.

loading building material chausiaise port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022While I was walking down the hill towards the port, I could see that the big crane in the loading bay was busy working.

My first thought was that one of the Jersey freighters was in port this afternoon, but in fact it’s Chausiaise, the little freighter that runs out to the Ile de Chausey, that’s receiving attention.

It looks as if she’s preparing for a run out to the island, but I can’t think what they will be doing with all of that building equipment on the island.

But that was enough excitement for now. I have an appointment and I’ll be late if I’m not careful. I need to get a move on.

installing kiddies roundabout Place Général de Gaulle Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022It’s coming up to school half-term, as this photo will tell us.

Carnaval is cancelled yet again this year but we are having the kiddies’ roundabout at least, to keep the brats entertained.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that there was some dispute about the roundabout that usually comes here – it was oversize and obstructing the pavement so there was some talk of revoking its licence or making it go somewhere else.

The owner intended to lodge an appeal against any decision that the council might make, but it looks as if some kind of compromise has been reached because he’s setting up in his usual place, just across the road from the Mairie.

The walk up the hill was agony. I made it up without stopping but I knew all about every inch of the way. And I spent most of my session doing kinetic exercises

My neighbour was there too and he offered me a lift home, but I decided to walk.

street lights trees rue du boscq Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022On the way home I went via the back of the town centre to see what was happening at the Rue du Boscq.

If you look closely, you’ll see that we now have some trees planted all the way down on the right-hand side of the concrete walkway. But it still doesn’t look like it does on the artist’s impression, but then again these things never do. They only produce these drawings to hoodwink the gullible public.

As for the grey columns, they look as if they might be streetlights. And I’ll probably get to find out next week when I wander off to Leuven – unless it’s light at that time of the morning. They days are lengthening rapidly.

new brickwork rue des juifs Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022A few weeks ago I posted a photo of the new bricks that they had put on top of the wall on the Rue des Juifs after they had finished pointing it.

At the time I remember remarking that they’ll be back quite soon to point the brickwork and I’d forgotten all about them until this afternoon.

Well, anyway, they have been back and they have actually repointed one of the gaps. But they haven’t bothered with the rest. It’s true that we don’t have any really cold weather like they might elsewhere, but if they don’t point the bricks quite soon and the frost gets in, then it would have been a waste of time sticking the brickwork on top.

les bouchots de chausey tiberiade coelacanthe marite skyjack port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022In a few weeks time Marité will be going for her annual inspection prior to the start of the tourist season at Easter.

It looks like they are carrying out a few repairs to her masts and rigging, and they’ve even involved a skyjack in the repair procedure.

Over in the background to the left, the boat that I couldn’t identify yesterday is Les Bouchots de Chausey and to the right we have the two big trawlers Coelacanthe and Tiberiade.

In the background on the quayside there are a couple of people working on some fishing nets. As they say, “there’s a time for fishing, and a time for mending the nets”.

chausiaise joly france port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022On our way out to the physiotherapist’s, we saw the big crane loading up Chausiaise with a pile of building material.

The harbour gates are still closed so she won’t be going anywhere right now, but she’s moved away from the loading bay and she’s now moored up alongside one of the Joly France ferries that go to the Ile de Chausey.

She’s the newer one of the two sisters, as we can tell by the fact that she had a much smaller upper-deck superstructure. The older one is presumably moored out at the ferry terminal, where she has been for several days now.

lifeboat helicopter baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022Excuse the blurred photo here but I had to take it in rather a hurry and the NIKON 1 J5 isn’t as reactive as the bigger Nikons.

Out there in the bay I’d noticed the lifeboat, the Notre Dame de Cap Lihou, out there in the bay heading off out to sea. And as I watched, the air-sea rescue helicopter flew by overhead, went out to the lifeboat and did a couple of laps around.

Once they had co-ordinated themselves, off they set out to sea, followed by a couple of seagulls. Whatever is going on out there, doubtless there will be some kind of report in the local paper if it’s anything important.

It’s a shame that the photo didn’t turn out very well.

belle france port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022While I was busy dealing with the helicopter and the lifeboat, another boat roared into life down in the harbour.

It looks as if it’s the turn of Belle France to go for a little wander around. But she can’t be going far because right now the harbour gates are closed so the best that she could do is a quick lap around the inner harbour.

However, I had a quick lap of my own to make so I didn’t want to hang around to see what she was up to. I was tired, cold and fed up and needed a hot coffee to warm me up so I headed on up the hill towards home sweet home.

beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022But not before I’d seen what was going on down on the beach this afternoon.

It wasn’t easy to take this shot either because there was a howling gale blowing out here and I was having trouble trying to keep my feet. So whether or not there was any beach for anyone to be on, I didn’t actually expect to see anyone on it so I wasn’t disappointed.

Back here I made myself a coffee and came in here to carry on with my work. And when I awoke, the coffee was still there, untouched, and stone-cold. It doesn’t stay warm if it’s left for almost two hours.

Tea tonight was a stuffed pepper, and having had a hot chocolate and written my notes I’m off to bed.

Writing my notes was not easy because despite all of the sleep that I’ve had today I’m still quite exhausted. I’ve been struggling to keep awake.

It’s my Welsh lesson tomorrow and I want to be on form, and so I need to have a better night’s sleep tonight than I did last night. I must admit that I’m ready for it, but then again, so I was yesterday and look how that turned out.

Wednesday 12th January 2022 – THAT’S NOT SOMETHING …

… that I want to be doing too often.

When I went to bed last night at about 21:15 I didn’t think that I would ever go off to sleep – tossing and turning around for quite a while.

But when the alarm went off at 04:00 I was fast asleep. However I was up and about quite quickly. There was even something on the dictaphone but all that I remember about last night was that there were 3 or 4 of us waiting to board a bus or something. When it came in, one of the guys stepped aside to let us on. We asked him why he wasn’t going to board. He replied that he was waiting for someone who hadn’t turned up yet.

That was the only thing that I can remember from last night.

By the time that it came to leaving the apartment I was champing at the bit to be off. I’d long-since done everything that needed doing.

fish processing plant port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022When I left the building I went to the viewpoint at the corner of the Boulevard des 2E et 202E de Ligne and the Boulevard Vaufleury.

In order to make sure that the camera was working correctly I took a photo of the fish processing plant. Plenty of light coming from the inside and a couple of refrigerated lorries parked outside so there must be plenty of work going on down there this morning, despite the mist that’s hanging over everywhere.

It’s been said that every “floating” job in the fishing industry creates four or five jobs on land and that’s easy to understand when you find out what happens in places like a fish processing plant.

One of the things that I would like to do is to actually go for a wander around inside but even if it were possible, they wouldn’t allow it in the middle of a pandemic.

The walk up to the station was done in darkness and solitude and to my surprise it wasn’t all that difficult. The Aranesp injections must be working.

Bombardier B82792 gare de Granville railway station Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022At the railway station my train was already in and at the platform waiting.

But I wasn’t interested in that right now. I had to track down the guard of the train. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that yesterday I couldn’t change the ticket for the train to Caen because with the train being cancelled, they had cancelled all of the tickets.

She wasn’t about as yet, but I made myself known to the driver and explained my situation. He’ll tell the guard as soon as she arrives and if it’s an issue she’ll come to see me.

Bombardier B82647 gare de Granville railway station Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022As it happens, the photo that I took just now wasn’t actually “my” train.

Well, it is in the sense that it’s not just a one-unit train but a two-unit train. The one you saw earlier was the rear half but I’m going to sit in the front half. There aren’t any reserved seats on this train and the farther you are from the entrance to the platform, the fewer people there are to bother you.

They give up the long walk and plonk themselves down closer to where they entered the platform.

The guard did come to see me and I explained my situation to her. I showed the guard the receipt for the purchase of the ticket and she waved me on with no issues.

The train was empty when we set off but by the time that it arrived in Caen it was heaving with people whom it had picked up on the way.

Bombardier Regio 2N 56629 gare st lazare paris France Eric Hall photo January 2022There was an hour’s wait at Caen due to having travelled on an earlier train, but the trip to Paris was pretty painless and I really enjoyed it.

It’s a Bombardier Regio 2N trainset and there are 447 of these rolling about on the French railway network. First hitting the rails in 2013, they are clean modern, comfortable and quick and I’d travel on these all day if I could. It’s almost enough to make me think about moving to the Caen area just to have the privilege of travelling regularly on them.

The 2N by the way stands for deux niveau, or “two decks”. These are double-decker units and didn’t the UK miss a trick when it heightened all of its infrastructure to allow the electrification of certain lines, and not heightening it enough for double-deckers.

One thing that was very important was that I snapped out of the deep, black depression in which I’d been for the last week or so. As soon as I boarded the train I made up a playlist of all of my favourite stomping Hawkwind numbers, the ones that I would play if I could lay my hands on a guitarist, a drummer and a violinist, because Simon House’s violin-playing on tracks such as STEPPENWOLF and DAMNATION ALLEY is absolutely phenomenal.

And then you have the full-length version of SPIRIT OF THE AGE and any one of another dozen that I could mention.

Mind you, the bloke in the seat in front didn’t like my singing much, so that was rather a shame for him, wasn’t it?

gare st lazare paris France Eric Hall photo January 2022The train arrived at Gare St Lazare on time and I had another nightmare occurrence trying to make the automatic machine read my ticket before I could leave the platform.

And in the ghostly, eerie, empty atmosphere of the railway station I could take a better photo than the one that I took last time. I’m not sure where everyone is becuase it’s usually packed. Maybe they heard that I was coming.

The trip from Paris St Lazare to Gare du Nord was straightforward – except that the ticket machine didn’t like a couple of my Metro tickets. It’s clearly not my lucky day to be travelling around, with all of these ticket issues that I seem to be having.

Thalys PBKA 4345 gare du nord paris France Eric Hall photo January 2022There wasn’t long to wait at the Gare du Nord for my train to Brussels, and that’s one of the reasons why I came this way today

It’s a horrible station to hang around in, huge, cold, draughty and no shelter anywhere. When I saw the 2-hour wait for a train had I come to Paris on my normal train, I had blanched.

We were quickly ushered on board and once everyone was ready we hurtled off towards Brussels. Non-stop, direct, no messing around in Lille. That’s another good reason to come this way.

To my surprise we pulled into Brussels 2 minutes early. I wandered off to the Carrefour to buy lunch for a change. There’s usually some stuff there that I can eat, like some of their delicious buns.

Once I’d dealt with the question of food I was lucky enough to find a train almost immediately for Brussels Schuman.

Justus lipsius council of ministers of the european union rue de la loi brussels belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022When I arrived at the station I went up to street level and there was the building where I had spent 12 happy years of my life.

Well, not exactly because I was around and about in other buildings at various times, but that’s the Head Office. The very best ever thing that I did with my life was to fight my way into there. I often muse about how had I remained living in Crewe I’d probably still be driving a taxi or a bus.

Although I didn’t have an appointment at the bank, they saw me more-or-less straight away and sorted out my bank card issues. I should receive a new card in the post “within a week”.

Back at Brussels Schuman we had one of those conversations that you can only ever have in Belgium
Our Hero “do the trains still go from here to Leuven?”
Assistant at Information Desk “I don’t know”.

class am 86 multiple unit 931 gare de bruxelles schuman railway station belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022In the end a ticket collector pointed me in the right direction. Why I was having difficulty is that they don’t terminate at Leuven these days but continue on to Landen, so it’s “Landen” on the destination boards.

The train was one of the old AM86 multiple units and it came into ths station. These aren’t particularly comfortable and are rather lightweight compared to some of the SNCB multiple units but they have had plenty of use and they keep on going. Of the 52 that came into service between 1986 and 1991, there are still 51 of them running around, mainly in the centre of the country.

When the train pulled in at Leuven I went to the supermarket at the back to pick up some stuff and walked down here to my room. No upgrade again but I’m not all that bothered.

It’s freezing here in Belgium so I’m glad that I brought my winter woollies. I’m going to need them.

First thing that I did when I arrived in my room was to crash out, and that’s no surprise.

Later on I found the strength from somewhere to struggle down to the supermarket for the rest of the shopping and then back here to make tea.

Now that’s done, I’m off to bed regardless of the fact that its only 21:30. And with the alarm set for 08:30 I’m going to sleep until I wake up. I’m surprised that I’ve kept going as long as I have, with 137% of my daily exercise total done too.

But one thing is for sure, and that is that I’m going to stomp all my way home to Granville on Saturday. Every since back in my early teens when I discovered Radio Luxembourg, music has been my only constant and steadfast companion and immersing myself deeply into it has sometimes been the only thing that has kept me going.

One thing that I need to do is to have a rethink about the direction in which my life is going because things aren’t working out right now. Somehow I need to pay much more attention to the inner me and that almost inevitably involves music.

On THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR I was happy spending most of my time listening to COLOSSEUM LIVE and ON THE ROAD by Traffic and things only changed (for the better or for the worse, depending on how you look at things and I know how I look at them) when I stopped listening and went to do something else.

Perhaps I ought to listen to more music. I dunno.

Saturday 18th December 2021 – THAT WAS A LONG …

… day today.

It wasn’t just the 05:00 start that killed me off, it was the bad night that I’d had to go with it.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I have said that I won’t talk about my bad nights, but this was a bad night with a reason – not a psychological bad night. There were people shouting and screaming in the building, dogs barking, through the night and all of that kind of thing.

When the alarm went off at 05:00 I was actually already awake. But I must have been asleep at some point because there’s yet more stuff on the dictaphone. There was something about a group of us doing things with rocks, wrapping them up, something like that. We were all in individual groups doing that but I can’t remember any more about this. I awoke at the wrong time

Later on, a group of us had gone to live in South America. We were wondering what to do. I came across something about scrap vehicles and ended up with a MkIII P100 pickup and an old scrap MkIII saloon so I said “well, I’m in business” and I used this P100 pickup to tow the MkIII saloon away. Then we were exploring these abandoned villages trying to find a place where we could settle down and live. There was some discussion going on about the group “The Band” in some bar somewhere, about how they had been an acoustic band but at some time in 1971 had gone over to play electric. I thought to myself that that was they listening to them but that was probably due to the fact that they hadn’t had any electricity until that moment and that was when they were connected to the grid.

So there I was, leaving my bed at 05:00 and by 05:30 I’d tidied up, packed, made my lunch and about to set out of the door.

By 05:55 I was on the station at Leuven, to find that the 06:08 that I caught last time was cancelled due to work on the line. However there is a train a few minutes later that goes via the airport so I took that one instead.

There was a few minutes of embarrassment when my telephone wouldn’t pick up an internet signal. However I eventually made it work which was just as well because all of my tickets are on there these days (I’ve gone paperless) and I’d be in all kinds of problems if there’s no internet connection on my phone.

At Brussels I had plenty of time so I had a good wander around the station before heading off to board my train to Paris. And we had phone issues here too.

After I’d sat down and was waiting for the train to depart, a girl struggled onto the station with a small suitcase which was the heaviest that I have ever seen. She couldn’t lift it onto the rack and someone had to help her and I bet that he regretted it.

Once we’d set off I dozed for much of the way to Paris which is no surprise after the night that I’d had. And we arrived on time and I was on a metro train within minutes too.

The walk down the street in Paris from the metro to Gare Montparnasse is definitely much easier than going through the labyrinth – so much so that I hardly realised that I’d done it.

But the station was heaving. Schools have now broken up and everyone is travelling to their holiday home. Our train was packed with Parisians heading for the coast and bringing their virus with them. Watch the figures here shoot up this next few weeks.

Just before the train pulled out, onto the train staggered the girl with the suitcase and that was when I found out that she was to sit next to me – and when I found out how heavy her suitcase was too.

She was going to Granville to stay with her boyfriend so we had a chat for part of the way and for the rest she dozed off while I carried on reading the Flatey Book and the account therein of Leif Ericson’s voyage to North America.

On the way home I popped into Carrefour for some mushrooms for my pizza (which I almost left behind in the shop) and then came home. The climb up the hill was agony and I had to make several stops. But I’m pretty much loaded up with all of the vegan food that I need over the Festive period.

Back here I fell into my chair and couldn’t move for several hours. Luckily there was a football match to keep me occupied – TNS v Penybont. TNS won the game 3-2 but Penybont had plenty of chances to score more than they did. And they might even have done so had the referee awarded after 11 minutes the penalty that I would have awarded them had I been refereeing.

Tea was a couple more of those small vegan burgers in breadcrumbs and then I came back here and fell into my chair again. If I manage to wake up again I might find the strength to stagger into bed at some point but I dunno.

Monday 1st November 2021 – WHAT A DAY!

You might think that when I tell you that I finished my radio programme by 10:35 this morning, that I had set a new record. But unfortunately it wasn’t quite like that.

After yet another miserable night I sat bolt upright at 06:11 wondering why my alarm hadn’t gone off at 06:00. I fell out of bed, had my medication and dashed back to make a start with the radio programme.

And then, 40 minutes later when the alarm finally did go off, I was wondering what on earth was happening until I suddenly twigged. I hadn’t had a shower yesterday so I hadn’t plugged my fitbit into the computer to upload the data and synchronise itself.

Consequently it hadn’t adjusted to the change of the hour and I’d actually left my bed at 05:11

Making a start at such a time like that, I might even have finished a lot earlier too but today I decided that instead of using the ZOOM H1, I used the new ZOOM H8.

It is, as you might expect, much more complicated to set up and takes much longer to regulate but the quality is undoubtedly better. It was a really good experience to use it because it made sure that I understood how it worked and that I could produce some results from it.

However I won’t be using it again for my radio programmes – for the simple reason that to record in stereo I need to use two mikes and two channels otherwise it simply records in mono. The little Zoom records automatically in stereo.

Having done that, I had breakfast and then I had a few other things to do that took me right up to lunchtime – and my bread is absolutely delicious, just as I thought that it would be.

My bad day hasn’t quite finished yet either.

After lunch I put the heater on in the bathroom to warm it up ready for my shower and my general clean-up before going out for my physiotherapy session – and then I realised that today in France is a Bank Holiday and there is no physiotherapy today.

And with it being a Bank Holiday, I could have legitimately had a nice long lie-in instead of being up and about at that ridiculous time this morning.

Instead, I carried on with writing up Saturday’s journal entry, and listening to where I’d been during the night. Percy Penguin, who doesn’t figure in these notes half as often as she deserves, had paid me a flying visit. Instead of seeing her at the usual time I was having to see her at a different time. I came back from work, went to the canteen, had some lunch and went round to dump some stuff in her house. There were some people in there and she came and had cut her hair. It was just down to her shoulder blades and I felt very disappointed with that.

Later on I wanted to buy some shares so I had a cunning plan. To go to the Post Office, open a bank account and buy the shares at the Post Office and start to pay the dividends into that account. In the meantime that would enable me to close down one of my two accounts here in France. I arrived at the Post Office rather late and there was a queue right outside the door but I was seen quite quickly. I had to reduce my documentation which was a bit of a fumble. The guy found out that I already had an account there so the first part was quite easy and straightforward. Then he told me that they didn’t actually purchase shares – the office was somewhere else. It wasn’t in the locality where I had to go for them which was something of a disappointment. I should really have done this at the bank. I was preparing to leave but suddenly realised that he hadn’t asked me for the money to pay into this account, presumably because it was open already. I wondered what I was going to do about that.

Finally, there had been an airship that had crashed in north-west France. We’d gone out to investigate it. As we were investigating it we didn’t think that it looked quite right. We heard that somewhere along the route a pile of bodies and debris and everything had been found on top of a mountain along this airship’s route. Our immediate thought was that it had grounded out on some high point and ripped off the rear cabin. This was soon changed after a while when it seemed that the rear cabin had been in an explosion. A bomb had been planted aboard that had blown the rear cabin out and killed everyone in there whose bodies had fallen onto this mountain-top. Of course this had altered the handling capabilities of the airship and that was what had caused it to crash around where we were. We set off in a car to try to locate the spot where these bodies had been found. We were driving somewhere around the Chester way heading into North Wales. There was an old Ford Zodiac with a pile of aerials on it looking as if it was some kind of radio car that was in the hunt. We were heading into North Wales to carry on our quest for this first lot of human remains and so on into North Wales. There was something about someone had bought the site to erect a monument and the site had changed hands again and the new owner was trying to raise money for a monument.

beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021There was the break this afternoon for my walk, somewhat later than usual.

There wasn’t anyone down on the beach this afternoon, for the rather prosaic reason that there isn’t any beach for anyone to be on. The tide is right in now, up to the foot of the cliffs.

You can see what I meant yesterday about those people down there. It’s easy to be cut off from the steps that bring people up to the Rue du Nord.

There were very few people around on the path this afternoon so I had this part of my circuit at least pretty much to myself.

people pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021Along the path and across the car park I came to the end of the headland.

There were a couple of people down there looking as if they were taking a photograph of themselves standing on the end of the headland.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, photographs of people taking photographs is something that features quite often on these pages.

There weren’t any fishermen out there this afternoon on the rocks, and no boats in the bay either. It was all quite quiet as everyone begins to go into hibernation for the winter, which won’t be long a-coming.

le styx unloading fish processing plant port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021There was no change at all in the chantier naval this afternoon – the portable boat lift was still parked up in the middle of the yard.

Over at the fish processing plant, we had one of the port’s trawlers, Le Styx, unloading over there onto the wharf. You can see one of the many electric cranes that they use to winch the loads up onto the top.

When she finished unloading, she cast off and pulled away from the plant, but I didn’t see where she went because I was moving off down the path towards home.

workmen's compound boulevard des terreneuviers Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021On the way home I walked past the place where I could look down on the workmen’s compound in the Boulevard des Terreneuviers.

That job that they are undertaking in the Rue Cambernon is taking its time. They must be doing a thorough job on it, whatever it is. I shall have to go down that way on Wednesday on my way to the physiotherapist in order to have a closer look.

Back here I made myself a coffee and carried on with my journal entry from Saturday and now that’s on line. There are just a huge pile of photos now to edit, and I’ll make a start on that tomorrow.

Tea tonight was a stuffed pepper with rice, and it was delicious as usual. And now I’m off to bed. I’ve had a long day and I have a Welsh lesson tomorrow so I need to be at my best. But no matter what I do, there’s little hope of that.

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 Jerry 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 Zero, 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 Zero. 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 Zero 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 Zero “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.