Tag Archives: electric car

Wednesday 9th March 2022 – I HAD A STROKE …

… of luck this morning.

There I was going down the stairs towards the front door when out of the lift came one of my neighbours.

“Are you off to Belgium?” she asked
“Yes I am” I replied
“Come with me” she said.

She was on her way to work so she took me and threw me out about 200 metres from the station and you’ve no idea how much I appreciated it.

That’s because I’d had a really bad night. I hadn’t taken one of those pills before I went to bed and I don’t know whether that’s anything to do with it, but it took an age to go off to sleep and then I awoke again at 04:30 and that was that.

Despite trying my best, I couldn’t go back to sleep and so when the alarm went off at 06:00 I was up and about quite easily.

By 07:30 I was ready to leave so I loitered around until 08:00 and then went off out where I bumped into my neighbour.

concrete pad gare de Granville railway station Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022Just or a change, I was at the station at 08:10.

That gave me plenty of time to have a look around to see what has been going on here. And this concrete pad is certainly new

It’s taken over two or three spaces of the railway station car park and unless I’m mistaken, it’s the area where electric cars could be charged too. So if they have been removed, where will the electric cars be charged now?

That’s something that is causing me a little concern. There’s a commitment to phase out new fossil-fuelled cars over the next 15 years or so and so they need to think long and hard about the necessary infrastructure and to have it in place long before the cut-off date – not leave it until the last minute.

And to install a whole new system of wind and tidal power generation. The wind doesn’t stop blowing and the tides don’t stop changing at night when everyone is asleep in bed and not using power. There will be tons of energy available to charge up vehicles if they organise themselves.

mural gare de Granville railway station Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that when we were here last at the railway station they had a pile of scaffolding up inside the building.

Now that they have removed it, we can see what they were doing. We now have a lovely mural of Granville as it was in the days when we had wind-powered “Newfoundlanders” sailing out of the port to the Grand banks of Newfoundland for the cod.

“The cod were in largeness and quantitie … that they stayed our ships” wrote Richard Hakluyt in the 16th Century when he was discussing voyages to “The New World” that went via Newfoundland.

But that was a long time ago.

84567 gec alstom regiolis gare de Granville railway station Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022For even more of a change, the train was already in the platform so I took my seat quite quickly.

You might be thinking that that means that the train started off bang on time, but in actual fact we were 5 minutes late leaving.

The train was packed and I had a rather irritable neighbour so while I was able to update the laptop, I wasn’t able to do any work. I read a few theses about medieval castles in Cheshire instead.

By the time that we arrived in Paris we had made up a couple of minutes so I had time to pop into the ticket office at the Metro to buy another set of 10 tickets. I’m running rather low right now

225 TGV Reseau Duplex Gare du Nord Paris France Eric Hall photo March 2022Travelling to the Gare du Nord on the Metro was quite painless – especially since I’ve found my short-cut in the open air.

My train to Lille – Flandres was already in. It is, as you might expect, one of the TGV “Reseau Duplex” double-deckers. Old and showing its age but quick and reasonably comfortable.

As usual we weren’t allowed to board it. There’s an 8-car trainset that comes in later and couples up to the rear of this trainset and then all 16 cars go back to Lille. We have to wait until it’s all coupled up and ready to go before we can board it.

210 TGV Reseau Duplex gare de lille flandres lille France Eric Hall photo March 2022This is the power car of the second trainset, photographed at Lille Flandres as I was leaving the station.

Our train was a few minutes late leaving, like the one from Granville, but that didn’t matter so much as there was plenty of time to walk across the city from Lille-Flandres to the Lille-Europe railway station.

There was even time to find a quiet corner at Lille-Europe and eat my lunchtime sandwiches before boarding my train. But I had to keep an eye out for the railway police who were cautioning people for not wearing a mask. And it’s difficult to eat your butties whilst wearing a mask.

TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt 4525 PBA gare du midi bruxelles belgium Eric Hall photo March 2022When I descended to the platform, the train was already in. It’s one of the PBA – Paris-Brussels-Amsterdam trainsets on which we travel quite frequently.

For reasons that I don’t quite understand, it waits here for about 20 minutes before departing. It’s more-than-likely due to the timing of the various connections that it makes with trains along its route.

And it was packed too and someone had taken my seat which was a shame, for I had rather looked forward to being out of my brain on the 5/15. I ended up sitting elsewhere, hemmed in and once more unable to do any work. I listened to “Colosseum Live” on the phone instead.

2730 class 27 electric locomotive gare de Leuven railway station Belgium Eric Hall photo March 2022At Brussels-Midi there was a train to Leuven already so I didn’t have to hang around waiting.

Running (as best as I could) down the concourse I leapt aboard with no problems and settled down for the journey to Leuven.

When we arrived, I nipped down to the head of the train to see what was pulling us along. It’s one of the old Class 27 electric locomotives and we’ve had a few of these just recently.

Considering that they must be getting on for 40 years old, they are still clocking up the miles on mainline services with little sign of slowing down.

At the back of the station is the little supermarket so I went there and bought the bread, vegan margarine and stuff to drink. It saves on the weight that I have to carry back from the big supermarket later this evening.

martelarenplein Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo March 2022Now here’s a thing!

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that for the last however-many years we’ve seen (or not seen, as they case may be) the Martelarenplein, the Square of the Martyrs, all fenced off and covered while they have been renovating it.

Today though, apart from just one small area, all of the fencing has been removed and we can actually walk across the square if we choose to do so.

Not for me right now though. I’m tired and exhausted and and I can’t wait to find my way to my little room.

And once more I’m up a couple of flights of stairs and that’s killing me. Luckily the manager saw me struggling up the stairs so that might hopefully mean a change of room in the future.

Despite a nice hot coffee, I crashed out definitively, and for a good half-hour too.

electric three wheeled vehicle Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo March 2022You’ve no idea just how much difficulty I had trying to rouse myself to go to the shops for food.

Nevertheless, I’m glad that I did because I encountered this strange machine. It’s a three-wheeler and it’s probably electric because it was quite silent. But whatever it is, it was quite interesting to say the least.

At the supermarket I don’t know what happened there but the shopping bill was much less than it usually is. I don’t reckon that I bought any less than I usually do.

At some point I managed to find the time to transcribe the dictaphone notes. Last night started with a family thing again with my sister and her first husband. It was probably 01:00 and they were thinking about going to bed and I had all of my paperwork to do which involved those two. I had to set the time on Big Ben and a few other things too but I kept on having trouble seeing because the lights on this big tower clock were so dim that I couldn’t actually see how I was setting it. Occasionally it would all light up bright and I’d see that I’d done in incorrectly and had to go back but to be very careful not to wipe off everything that I had done so far – just go back 1 or 2 steps and start on. By now of course it was daylight. I could easily see what was happening and there were all kinds of things going on on this clock face – people laughing and cheering at it. In the end I had to set it by some kind of analogue means moving the hands because I couldn’t make it go correctly by doing it digitally. In the end I managed it but by now it was 06:40 and broad daylight. I had to be up at 10:00 and they had to be up earlier than that. In the end I said that I was going to bed. My sister’s husband said that he was going to lie in in the morning because he was exhausted. I thought “how does he think that I feel?”. On the way back they were rationing out some things for issue and showing me some kind of drink made by a well-known pop manufacturer in a very distinctive bottle. They said that last tie they had issued this it was 17 shillings and so many pence but now it’s just 4.5 pence and they can’t understand what has happened. I asked if it was generic stuff. They replied that it was so I replied that maybe the patent has expired so now it’s being cloned or something but they couldn’t seem to understand. Neither could I but I didn’t really want to because I was so tired

Later, I was in backwoods Canada or backwoods USA sometime in the 50s or 60s judging by the cars that were driving around. I was writing up someone’s memoirs from a set of old war letters, something like that. I’d gone to this house ad he’d let me have all of this communication and I was going through it making notes etc. Gradually one of two other people had let me have their stuff as well. The first guy was concerned that this was going to slow me down doing other people’s stuff as well but I explained that it was all part of the same thing. They gave me a time and said that I had to be finished by something like 18:15. He thought that time was dragging on but I said that I’d be back tomorrow and that seemed to be OK. Various people came to see me and talk to me about everything while I was there making all of these notes and what had happened in the past. It gradually worked out that I was writing stuff about current events as well for a more immediate publication. This was something that concerned all of the people in this area. But all of the cars were fantastic. Someone was driving a pickup where instead of having the pickup bed behind him it was something like an enormous American saloon convertible thing with just 1 seat for the person driving it and the pickup bed was at the side where the passenger would sit. There were all these kind of weird machines that looked like something out of the 50s and 60s

And then I was with Claude and Françoise last night in the Auvergne. They owed me some money and I had a few IOUs and we were settling up. While I was there I showed them how many US dollars I had. I explained about the time that I had to use the toilet in a cafe and I didn’t have any money to go in so I had to write out an IOU. I told them about a trip that I’d made to the USA with 2 girls. We’d roamed around the Midwest in a big American car which was a small Opel saloon from the late 60s, a type 1. On one occasion I’m not quite sure what had happened but these girls must have been in their night clothes in this diner. They had gone to the toilet to have a wash and brush-up but they came out in their night clothes as well. I asked what was going on so they said that they were going back to the car to change. I asked why they hadn’t taken their clothes into the ladies toilets and changed in there instead of doing it on the car park of this diner

Now that I’ve had tea I’m off to bed. I know that it’s early but I’m exhausted and I’ve almost fallen asleep twice. Hospital tomorrow so I’m lying in with no alarm.

After last night’s disaster, I need all the beauty sleep that I can get.

Monday 30th December 2019 – I BET …

tesla electric vehicle charging station gare de granville railway station manche normandy france… that when you first saw the photo of this car in this parking place, you thought to yourself “he’s off on this pathetic parking lark yet again!”

But not a bit of it. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall my perambulations around Paris two weeks or so ago and I featured one of the new electric vehicle charging points that are springing up like mushrooms all over the developed world (except of course in the UK, for obvious reasons).

Well, here’s another one. Or two, to be precise, right outside the railway station in Granville. As I said a couple of weeks ago, the world is racing ahead.

And quite right too. The EU is to phase out the production of the internal combustion engine by 2040. The biggest obstacle to electric vehicles is the lack of charging points, but this is changing quite rapidly.

Other things that I wish would change quite rapidly are my sleeping habits. What with one thing and another (and once you start, you’ll be surprised how many other things there are) it was about 01:45 when I eventually went to bed last night. 4:33 of sleep last night, of which 3:42 were classed as “restful”.

This is getting beyond a joke.

Even so, there was still plenty of time for me to go off a-voyaging. I had to get up early next morning and there was a bit of an issue. There were two girls at my house. One of them was part of my family but I can’t remember who she was and the other one was her friend who was staying with us. Round about 11:00 they got up and about 11:15 or 11:45 something like that they went out. That was the last we’d seen of them. We knew that they were going to a dance. There we were, sitting there, a big group of us, drumming our fingers on the table wondering where they hall they had got to. I thought that this is no good – I need the car. I have to get up in the morning and everything like that. Round about 02:30 they suddenly appeared back again. They’d been on a dance, off to a night club all this kind of thing and we were all making disparaging remarks about “WHAT time was it you went out this morning?” All of that kind of thing. These girls weren’t giving a straight answer because they were a bit embarrassed something like that about it. But the situation concerned one of my Cortinas. I’d been driving around in it and the MoT had expired a while ago. I remember thinking to myself that I ought to have this vehicle on two number plates so I can get two different MoTs which would overlap so that if one expired I’d just put the plates on it for the other MoT and run that for another few months and so on. I can’t remember what on earth that was all about but that was when I awoke for the first time – round about 04:00.
But later on there was something going on to do with the radio. Some young boy had been at the radio who was doing his stuff with very primitive equipment (something like I’m doing at the moment I suppose) and tired of being pushed to the bottom of the pile because of that he went out and bought some decent stuff which improved his quality and improved his output and annoyed all of his colleagues because he’d now got some superior kind of stuff.

It was something of a struggle for me to leave my stinking pit this morning, which should not be a surprise after the night that I had, but I did make it up before the 3rd alarm.

Having taken the medication I transcribed the dictaphone notes and then went for breakfast once the medication had worked.

After breakfast I checked my communications and found that Alison had replied to me with her plans for the weekend when I’ll be at Castle Anthrax. And so I could go ahead with making my travel arrangements.

Thursday 9th January
09:00 – Granville to Paris Montparnasse, arriving 12:05 – and in the main arrivals hall too if my reading is correct.
13:15 – Paris Gare du Nord – Lille Flanders arriving 14:18
14:41 – Lille Europe – Bruxelles-Midi arriving 15:17
and then a local train to Leuven
Sunday 12th January
08:43 – Bruxelles-Midi – Paris Gare du Nord arriving 10:05
10:57 – Paris St Lazare – Caen arriving 12:58
14:10 – Caen – Granville arriving 15:44.

Of course, all of this is somewhat … errr … facultative. It’s all very dependent upon the availability of transport in the middle of a General Strike and I can see myself as having as many exciting adventures as did the Knights of King Arthur as they went to visit Castle Anthrax.

With booking my accommodation too, and my local train between Brussels and Leuven, it was quite late when I went for my shower.

And SHOCK! HORROR! – I’ve gained 2kgs since my last shower. That can’t possibly be right and seems to indicate that my bathroom scales are about as reliable as the blood count readings from Castle Anthrax.

Off I went into town and up to the railway station (and the electric vehicle charging point) to pick up my tickets. And there was quite a pantomime about getting them from the machine.

That’s why I always like to pick them up before I travel. There’s no-one in the ticket office at the time my train leaves so if the machine has a seizure on the morning of my travel then I really am cooked.

At LIDL I spent more money than I was expecting.

One thing that I said that I would do is to take more care of my living arrangements, and forgetting to change my bedding for weeks isn’t helping things. Today though at LIDL they had some flannelette sheets on offer so I bought a couple. A dark blue one to go with one bedding set and a light blue one to go with the other.

They weren’t very expensive for what they are and the quality isn’t brilliant but alternating them around more regularly means that they will last somewhat.

On the way back home I picked up my dejeunette from La Mie Caline and then headed for home.

lorry emptying waste paper recycling place d'armes granville manche normandy franceAt the recycling centre across the road from my building the lorry had come to empty one of the containers.

Not being in any particular rush, I watched it for a while as it emptied the plastics bin. And then watched for a couple more minutes while the crew of the lorry went scampering around trying to catch the pieces of plastic that where Blowing In The Wind.

The moral of this story is – don’t empty the lightweight plastics containers in a gale-force wind.

Back at the apartment I had a few things to do that took me up to lunch, and once lunch was out of the way I had a little project to attend to.

My “recording sessions” take place at the moment using an external microphone with the dictaphone, and then plugging the dictaphone into the computer to download the files and then to enhance them etc with my sound editing program.

But there’s no reason whatever why I can’t plug the mike into the computer and then record directly and edit “on the fly”, which will save me a couple of steps in the process.

And so I had the computer out of its cubby hole and plugged the mike in, and then had a play.

The result was awful. The sound level was abysmal, even on max input, and there was a persistent hissing on the recording. It needed so much “enhancing” to remove the hissing that it sounded as if i was speaking with my head in a bucket.

And so it’s back to the dictaphone while I think of Plan B. I hadn’t really realised just what good quality I was getting from the dictaphone with an external mike.

But all was not lost. It gave me an opportunity to reroute a few cables that needed rerouting, even if I did plug the HDMI cable into the incorrect socket and spent 10 minutes wandering why I wasn’t receiving a signal at the screen.

crowds on beach plat gousset granville manche normandy franceThat was the signal for me to go for my afternoon walk.

And what a beautiful afternoon it was. We had glorious sunshine even if it was quite low down in the sky. There were plenty of people out, even walking along the beach today seeing as the tide was out.

And the wind had dropped dramatically from how it was earlier too. And that was very welcome news.

crowds pointe du roc boulevard vaufleury eglise notre dame de cap lihou granville manche normandy franceIt wasn’t just around on the grassy field on the north side of the headland and on the beach that the crowds were massing.

Although they are the most popular places to be, they aren’t the only places. There were the hordes of people on the southern side by the big car park on the boulevard Vaufleury too.

They seemed to be admiring the harbour and the view across the Baie de Mont St Michel towards the Pointe de Carolles, as well as soaking up the best of the late afternoon sun.

joly france ferry port de granville harbour ile de chausey manche normandy franceWith the tide being right out, there wasn’t much action down in the outer tidal harbour. But there were a few things of interest though.

The other day we talked about NAABSA harbours – the “Not Always Afloat But Safely Aground” situation where ships are allowed to settle on the silt in tiday harbours where there isn’t enough water to keep them afloat.

Over there at the ferry terminal, Joly France is there, and as there is no water underneath her, she’s in a NAABSA state and it doesn’t seem to concern her owners at all.

chausiais port de granville harbour manche normandy franceShe wasn’t the only one either.

In front of her, likewise in a NAABSA state, is Chausiais, the new freighter that the owners of the Ile de Chausey have bought, presumably to provide a freight service over to the island, even if I can’t see what would be going over that couldn’t be carried in the hold of one of the ferries.

Still, we shall see in due course, won’t we? I sense a Cunning Plan.

That was my cue to come home where, shame as it is to say it, I crashed out, leaving my coffee undrunk.

And if ever there was a moment where I really did feel like hauling myself off to bed to crash out definitively, then that was it. But I fought off the feeling, even if I did feel like death.

As a result, my plan to attack the dialogue for my next radio project fell flat without very much progress having been made. I need to finish that one off as well as do another one by the end of the week, although I’m not sure quite when I’ll fit it all in.

But whatever happens, I mustn’t fall behind otherwise I’ll never get back in front again.

Tea tonight was a stuffed pepper with the stuffing left over from late last week. And I don’t know why, but it was the best one that I’ve ever made.

If anyone is interested in my stuffing mix, it’s as follows –
Start by boiling up some quinoa or bulghour with a little water and some really spicy chili powder, and leave it to simmer.
Meanwhile, dice up some onion, garlic (have to have garlic of course!), a tomato, mushrooms, olives and whatever else you might have lying around that is suitable, a handful or two of salted peanuts, and then some herbs. I use oregano, basil and tarragon, as well as ground black pepper.
Then, add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and a couple more of tomato sauce (not ketchup, of course!)
Mix it all up together and then add the bulghour or quinoa, which should by now be ready, and mix that well in too. You need your stuffing to be very moist, but not runny.
Cut round the stalk of the pepper and scoop out the core, the seeds and the pith. Then stuff it with your stuffing mix.
Into the microwave at medium-full (that’s 640 watts on mine) for 7 minutes 30 seconds while the rice and veg are cooking.
The when the rice is cooked and you’re rinsing it out with boiling water, give the pepper 90 seconds on max (that’s 800 watts on mine)

If you try it, let me know how it turns out, and let me know if you have any suggestions to make it differently. There’s a “contact me” link down at the bottom right corner of the screen.

channel islands ferries victor hugo port de granville harbour manche normandy franceAfter that I went out for my evening walk in the freezing cold, because the temperature has dropped dramatically. I was the only one out there, which was no surprise.

But while I was out there, I checked and sure enough, Granville really is back in the harbour, tied up alongside Victor Hugo.

It looks like her a-roaming is over for a few days.

And so was mine. For tonight anyway, I headed for home. I managed to fit in my run, although I was dead by the time that I reached the ramp and only made four or five paces up it.

It’s really disappointing that I can’t seem to push on and run for longer. I remember when I went back running in the mid-90s, when after a few weeks I suddenly found my second wind and could run for miles. I can’t seem to break this barrier these days.

Mind you, I’m not sure what I’m expecting at my age. It’s not every OAP who goes out running late at night every night, especially one who is supposed to be on his death bed. I should be grateful for what I can do.

This evening I didn’t see Minette the old black cat but I saw her mum who was on the doorstep chatting to a couple of people. So I had a little chat, wished them the compliments of the season and came home.

Now I’ve written up my journal, I’m off to bed. 6.5 hours of sleep if I’m lucky. That’s a luxury these days so I need to make the most of it.

But not quite yet. I’ve been listening to No Smoke Without Fire by Wishbone Ash. It’s an album that I’ve owned for probably 30 years but I haven’t heard it for probably 29 years. And while it won’t ever be anything like as good as the first couple of albums, I’m astonished that I haven’t played it more often because some of it is really excellent.

And as that finished, onto the playlist came Fur by Jane Wiedlin. Not an album that you would normally associate with me but Janet Marsden played it to me late one night and there are a couple of tracks on it that are totally unexpected in their brilliance. They bring back a couple of memories of one particular night in Crewe, and how things could have been different had I been in a better place in my head back then.

Sunday 15th December 2019 – AND FINALLY …

… I made it back home.

And the journey was exciting, but nothing like as exciting as the outward trip.

Once again last night I was in bed early with every intention of watching a film. But before I went to do so, I carried on listening to the radio programme to which I had been listening before I slipped beneath the sheets.

And that’s how I found myself a couple of hours later. Out like a light of course. So I switched off the laptop and went back to sleep.

During the night there had been a few voyages. And strange ones they were too.

There was a fancy dress party taking place and I had decided to go as a woman, don’t ask me why because I don’t have a clue either. I had the dress and tights everything like that and I went out all dressed up and people were looking at me rather strangely as you could imagine. But I ran out of time and didn’t have the make-up so I had to do without the make-up which spoiled the whole effect as you can imagine. But I went outside and there were all these people outside, cheering me on, men were pretending to chat me up, so on. There was Malcolm Madeley (!) and he clearly didn’t recognise me, something like that and he made some kind of offensive remark. I said “you want to get a grip, Malcolm” to which he suddenly stopped and disappeared. He realised that it was me. I had to walk round to Aunt Mary’s. I knocked on her door and the guy who was with her who was a guy a lot younger than she was but was something to do with our family from somewhere or other and these two little kids about 3 or 4 came out. We were talking about some kind of court case involving these kids. Aunt Mary was saying “well now they are here it’s only 5 weeks to go before this case”. But as these kids walked out of the step there was this pram coming the other way. It hit them and they flew through the air and actually landed on top of the pram. I thought “these kids are going to get hurt. They are always doing these kinds of thing, always getting hurt, all kinds of stupid accidents, breaking their arms, breaking their legs, something. But this time they were all right which was quite a surprise. Then we had to hobble off – me hobbling on my high-heeled shoes back towards picking up my car to go to this do again but it was this thing with the kids that was so surprising. And I’ve no idea what that was all about at all.
Later that night I was with someone last night and it might have been Nerina but it might not and we were in Northern Wyoming, somewhere like that. On our way to visit some battleground, somewhere like that of the Native Americans. The road was a really difficult road. It started off being a decent road but was all gravelly, a dirt road as you might expect. We were behind this lorry and there was a car coming the other way, a big jeep-type thing swerving in and out of the traffic and he nearly hit us going past this lorry. We were wide-eyed about that. The GPS was talking to us about this road, giving us a talk. We suddenly breated the brow of this hill and came to where all these dressed stones were, in a pile like some kind of wall. It was telling us that this was where the fort was this was the barbecue was, all this kind of thing .We dropped down the hill into the village by the river and there were ancient railway locomotives on display there. We went inside the museum and there were all beds there with people sleeping in them like they might have done 100 years ago, 2 or 3 to a bed, babies in the bed, all this kind of thing and newspaper reports about “how my parents are going back to the UK after visiting us”. It turned out that we were now in Newfoundland and Labrador for some unknown reason and we were giving a tour of this museum with all of these toys and artefacts going back 100 years or something and life must have been really primitive for people living there in those days. So we had a tour of this museum with these old toys and old dirty beds and dirty people sleeping in them and I remember saying to whoever I was with that we ought to be going as we have a lot to do and in any case I wanted to see these old steam locomotives but she was busy engaged there talking to people and she didn’t really want to come away.

But despite all of this, I was soon up and about when the alarm went off at 06:00. Beat the second alarm by a country mile.

First task was to make my butties because I had a feeling that this was going to be a long day. Tidying up everything and packing my bags and collecting up my shopping, I headed out for the station.

am96 multiple unit gare de louvain leuven railway station belgium december 2019I arrived at the railway station about 06:50 and didn’t have long to wait for a train.

There was a direct train at about 07:20 direct to Brussels but there was an earlier one from Genk at 07:08 that goes via the airport and on the basis that a bird in the hand is worth any number in the bush I leapt aboard that one.

It’s one of the AM96 multiple units built by Bombardier and delivery to the SNCB started in 1996. They have a peculiar characteristic in that the driver’s cab pivots round 90° so that when two or more of these multiple units are coupled together, the passengers can go through from one unit to the next.

My train to Paris was at 08:43 so I had about an hour to kill. I drew some cash out of the bank and then bought my raisin buns for breakfast from Carrefour.

Thalys PBKA 4302 gare du midi brussels belgium december 2019 I didn’t have to wait long because the train came in quite early and we were ushered up to the platform.

It’s one of the Belgian SNCB PBKA (Paris Brussels Cologne Amsterdam) train sets, number 4302 upon which we have travelled on previous occasions. These PBKA train sets are becoming somewhat long in the tooth these days, being first delivered in 1995, but they still rattle along at an impressive 300 kilometres per hour when there’s nothing in the way to slow them down.

While we were waiting to move off, I had a quick look on the internet. The 13:54 to Granville was still down as running so I hoped that it would still be listed by the time I reached Montparnasse.

Bang on time we were, pulling into the Gare du Nord. I wandered over to the SNCF offices where they checked the trains. The 13:54 is still listed as running for the moment, but there’s nothing else going anywhere near Granville now for the rest of the day so it’s that one or nothing.

The girl stamped my ticket to Caen to effectively prove that I’d been to the SNCF offices (one thing that I’ve learnt since living in Europe is that European officials love paperwork and rubber stamps so you should never ever miss out on an opportunity to have a rubber stamp put on a document whenever there’s a crisis looming).

hotel terminus nord rue de dunkerque paris franceWell over three hours to go before my train, and the day wasn’t too bad out there so I decided to walk.

Unleashing the big Nikon D500 I took a test shot of the big hotel, the Hotel Terminus Nord, just across the road from the station.

There is also this rather bizarre statue here too, just outside the station and I’ve absolutely no idea what it’s supposed to represent. I imagine that it’s some kind of winged beast, but that’s about it.

river seine paris franceAccording to the route map that I consulted prior to setting off it was something like 5.5 kilometres as the crow flies between the Gare du Nord and the Gare Montparnasse.

But the way that I was planning to go, it worked out (I checked later on the fitbit) at 7.5 kilometres because I wasn’t going to miss out on a few of the sights while I was in the vicinity. Paris isn’t my favourite city – far from it in fact – but there are still places to see that ought not to be missed.

notre dame paris franceLike Notre Dame for example.

It’s been years since I’ve seen it and it doesn’t half look different now. On 15th April 2019 it caught fire and was very badly damaged. The roof has gone and it took the spire with it. It’s really in a sad condition like now and so here’s hoping that like a phoenix it will rise again from the ashes.

The estimates are that it will cost billions of Euros to restore it, although a considerable part of that money will be to restore parts of the cathedral that were in poor condition prior to the fire.

motor bike sidecar rue de buci paris franceAcross the Pont Neuf or “Bridge number 9” we’re in the Latin Quarter, so puer amat mensam to you, hey?

My intention was to go for a wander around for half an hour but I completely forgot, being sidetracked by this beautiful outfit here. A horizontal twin motorbike, which might have been an elderly BMW or a more modern Urals or Cossack, with a very period sidecar attached.

It’s not the kind of thing that you see on the streets every day and it took me completely by surprise.

inflatable polar bears boulevard st germain paris franceSomething else that took me by surprise was on the corner of the Boulevard St Germain.

It goes without saying that on my travels I’ve seen plenty of polar bears, but never one on a street corner in Paris. We’ve seen actresses standing over the air grids of the Paris Metro and seen their skirts disappear in the updraught, but an inflatable polar bear family is something else.

It made me quite nostalgic for the High Arctic and I wonder how I’m going to get there next year, having had a little disagreement with some people

tour de montparnasse rue de rennes paris franceBy now I was starting to flag a little, so it was with an enormous sigh of relief that I caught sight of the Tour de Montparnasse at the end of the street as I rounded the corner into the rue de Rennes.

It seems to have slipped my mind to mention that I was not actually travelling light today. I had my rucksack which was quite heavy anyway with this and that, and a carrier bag with with a pile of heavy shopping in it.

And even though I can see the Tour de Montparnasse, my walk is far from over. The railway station is a good few hundred yards behind the tower and then I have this enormously long hike all the way down the station to reach the Vaugirard annexe.

electric vehicle charging points rue de rennes paris franceWalking down the rue de Rennes I came across this wonderful sight.

Definitely a sign of the times, this is. With the European Union promising to phase out the manufacture of the internal combustion engine by 2040, there needs to be more electric vehicles on the streets. But there won’t be unless the authorities provide places where the owners can recharge them.

And so this charging station here shows how far along that road the French authorities are in this respect – in great contrast to how they are in several other countries, including the UK.

gare montparnasse boulevard de vaugirard paris franceOn that shocking note I went past the Tour de Montparnasse and there in the distance behind it is the Gare Montparnasse.

The original station, the one where the Granville train failed to stop all those years ago and went hurling across the concourse and out of the end wall into the street, was actually on the site of the tower. And that explains why when the metro from the Gare du Nord throws me out at the “Montparnasse” metro station, I still have this very long underground walk to the Montparnasse railway station.

Yes, they moved the railway station but they didn’t move the metro station with it

Looking at my watch, it was 12:00 or thereabouts when I reached the Gare Montparnasse. 90 minutes or so it had taken me, and that was really impressive considering that I’m not at all well and I had my heavy load to lug around with me.

Mind you, it’s not something that I want to do too often because I was pretty nigh exhausted after that. I was pretty much at it non-stop, without a rest. Next time I do it, if there is a next time there will have to be a pause-café somewhere along the route.

There was a long wait for the train but we were allowed on board earlier then usual. And so we had a longer wait for the train to leave, seeing as its start was delayed by 15 minutes.

Without a ticket I had to sit anywhere in a vacant seat. And so of course it goes without saying that it was reserved to someone else so I had to move.

The ticket collector came by so we had a chat about my ticket, in a delightful conversation where I spoke in French and he replied in English.

alstom regiolis gare de granville railway station manche normandy franceAnd that was one thing.

It hasn’t escaped my notice that having gone for time after time after time in the past without having my ticket checked, it was checked on every train today. Probably a grève de zèle or “work to rule” going on too. So it was just as well that I’d been to the SNCF office to declare myself a “stranded traveller” and have my ticket rubber-stamped by an official.

After all of that I fell asleep and didn’t wake up until we reached Vire. And we pulled into Granville bang-on time despite the extra stops that we had and the 15-minute delay.

thora port de granville harbour manche normandy franceHaving left the station and feeling surprisingly fit considering my long walk today, I walked back through the town to the apartment.

While I was going up the rue des Juifs I looked over the wall and there tied up at the unloading quay is our old friend Thora. She’s come in on another trip from the Channel Islands.

This evening I’ve not done much. Finished off the falafel with some veg and cheese sause, and I declined the opportunity to go for a walk. I reckon that with 162% of my daily activity carried out, I’ve done enough. No wonder I was exhausted.

But now I can’t sleep. So I’ll probably be awake for ages but we’ll see how it hangs out. I have a busy day tomorrow.

And as an aside, there were plenty more photos from where these came from that haven’t made it onto this page. If you want to see them, which I hope you do, you need to go to THIS PAGE.

Monday 25th November 2019 – I MISSED …

… my evening walk this evening.

There I was, sitting at the dining table (I’m all posh these days) round about 20:00 eating my rice pudding when the phone went.

Fetching it back again, I discovered that Rosemary was on the end of the line and she wanted to chat.

And chat we did. I had a lot of news to tell her, all about my weekend and people whom we both knew, and she had a lot of news to tell me. Really good, maybe even stunning news too, but there’s this old medieval saying about “never be sure of the bird on your plate until you have your fork stuck in it” so I’ll wait for a few weeks and see how things develop before I say anything.

And while I was chatting on the phone to Rosemary, I was also having an internet discussion with TOTGA. Yes, two conversations, eating a bowl of rice pudding, ohh yes, I can do multi-tasking!

By the time that Rosemary and I hung up it was well after 22:00. I did say that we had a lot to talk about!

And indeed, there was a lot to say about today. It wasn’t a late night particularly and so being up and about before the last alarm wasn’t too much of a problem.

No nocturnal ramble either which makes a change. So nothing much to do. While I was waiting for the medication to work I attacked some of the outstanding dictaphone notes.

In fact I’ve been whittling away at those throughout the day and now there are just 83 left. They won’t be finished for the end of the month though, which was my target. That’s a disappointment but I’ve had so much going on just recently.

After breakfast I had a shower and some clean clothes and then headed out up town in the rain.

neva old diesel bus new electric bus granville manche normandy franceThere had been a report in the local newspaper that the town was taking a electric bus on trial to see how it would function on the bus routes here, bearing in mind how hilly the place is.

And sure enough, as I was up the avenue LeClerc here was the new electric bus, being overtaken by one of the old diesels.

Excuse the blurred photo but it was a fleeting glimpse in between two passing vehicles and I didn’t have time to focus properly.

At the Centre Agora we had our weekly meeting. And I do have to say that I have never met so many people with a capacity for fitting the least amount of thought into the greatest amount of words.

These are the kind of meetings that should be held outside – standing up – in the rain. They would be over in seconds with just as much decided.

It also seems that the people are very jealous of their “babies” and guard their empires carefully. We were discussing the port and the subject of Thora, Normandy Trader and Chausiais came up.

As I know the crew of the two British ships, I suggested that I could interview the skippers and see how the new rules and regulations affecting the commerce of the port post-Brexit is going to affect them.

“Ohhh” piped up one of the guys. “I’ve been thinking about doing something about the port and the maritime commerce, but I’m not sure how to go about it”.

So I sat on the edge of my chair waiting for him to ask for suggestions (of which I have more than a few, as regular readers of this rubbish might realise) but instead he moved on to another topic. It’s his baby, and he won’t let anyone else share it with him.

Shame as it is to say it, I can see this project not lasting all that long with this kind of ego that seems to preclude teamwork and co-operation.

And I was told that the transmitting quality of my broadcasts needs to be improved, and I was given some technical guidelines in this respect.

Yes, after I’ve recorded four of them! Obviously no possibility of giving me the technical guidelines 4 or 5 weeks ago, before I recorded any at all, is there?

So everything that I’ve spent the last few weeks downloading at 96kbs – all about 70 hours of it – now needs to be re-recorded at 192 kbs! That was a waste of my time and effort, wasn’t it?

One thing that always gets my goat is a lack of professionalism.

old well allee des sycomores granville manche normandy franceRemember the other day when I was coming back from the Centre Agora and I saw what looked like an old well in the middle of the street in the Allee des Sycomores?

On my way back I went for a butchers to see what it was. And I was right. It is a well.

Not an old well though. Although it might be old, it’s still in use as you can see and a lady in a house nearby chatted to me about it for a while.

old well rue des ecoles granville manche normandy franceAnd that’s not all the excitement either.

Walking down the main street – the rue des Ecoles – I happened to notice another similar object in someone else’s garden.

Just think! Ther emight be a third one somewhere else in the vicinity. Well, well, well!

On the way back home I called in at LIDL. There wasn’t much that I needed but seeing as I was there I went in regardless. A couple of bananas, some soya milk and sparkling water.

And I stopped at the boulangerie for another dejeunette – that last one in the shop.

I’d also been stopped by a man in one of these microcar-based van things. He wanted to know where a certain street was, but how would I know that?

After lunch I made a start on the web page for the weekend’s events. And it was only meant to be a brief thing with photographs but, like Topsy, it “just growed” and at one point I found myself in mid-rant.

I really do need to calm myself down sometimes.

fishing boat yacht english channel granville manche normandy franceThis afternoon I went for my usual walk around the headland again in the wind and the rain.

And it seems that I wasn’t the only one out there enjoying the weather either. There was a fishing boat coming back from the English Channel and also a yacht out there have an enormous amount of fun.

And quite right too.

helicopter english channel granville manche normandy franceThere was something else going on out there too.

Whatever it was, it looked important because someone had had his chopper out again. The Air-Sea rescue one in fact and judging by the way that it was flying – quite slowly about 50 feet above the water, it was looking for something.

Maybe there will be something in the news about it tomorrow.

spirit of conrad aztec lady omerta chantier navale port de granville harbour manche normandy franceMy walk took me around past the chantier navale so as usual I had a peek down there to see who was about.

Three of our boats from the other day – Spirit of Conrad, Aztec Lady and Omerta – are still in there up on blocks, as is the fishing boat over on the far side.

And Omerta looks as if she’s receiving some serious attention out there too. They seem to be stripping off all of the paint, presumably to give her a respray.

pecheur de lys chantier navale port de granville harbour manche normandy franceAll of that is all very well, but there was no sign of the old Pecheur de Lys who was with them the other day.

She wasn’t back in the water either so I had a good look around, and there she is up on blocks right round at the back of the sheds.

Her stay in the water didn’t last all that long and it looks as if she might be out for good. And that’s a shame.

fishing boat english channel granville manche normandy franceWhile I was standing there looking for Pecheur de Lys, I was interrupted in my reverie by a diesel engine coming from around the headland.

And a matter of just a couple of seconds later, the fishing boat that we had seen earlier out in the English Channel came a-sailing … “a-dieseling” – ed … into view.

She must have made some really good time to arrive here so qickly. Perhaps someone in the port has put the kettle on.

fishing boat joly france ile de chausey granville ferry manche normandy franceIt was all go in the harbour too with the tide being in.

Plenty of fishing boats unloading, and some must already have unloaded their catch because this one here has turned round and is on its way back out to sea.

And Joly France, one of the ferries for the Ile De Chausey, must have been out on a crossing today because she’s tied up at the passenger terminal rather than in the inner harbour

fishing boat unloading shellfish port de granville harbour manche normandy france“Plenty of fishing boats unloading” I said. And “it was all go in the harbour today”.

As you can see, I wasn’t wrong either. Here’s one of the fishing boats unloading its catch. And I don’t think that I have ever seen so many crates of mussels or whatever they are piled up on the quayside.

There’s enough on that trailer at the back of the tractor to keep anyone going for several days, I reckon.

Back in the apartment I carried on with what I was doing until tea time. And seeing as there was some stuffing left I had another stuffed pepper. And then my rice pudding as I mentioned earlier.

But now it’s about 01:30 and I’m off to bed. But not for long. Up at 06:00 and I have the tax Office to visit tomorrow.

That will probably be very taxing.

Friday 27th June 2014 – IT DIDN’T TAKE ME LONG, DID IT?

overnight parking place bodensee meersburg germanyThere I was this morning after another excellent night’s sleep in this comfy little spec at Meersburg (and I’ll stop here again, no problem), having breakfast of coffee and half a baguette smeared with strawberry jam, when I began to notice a regular stream of small ships sailing back and to across the lake.

That can only mean one thing – that there’s a ferry connection from somewhere over here to somewhere over there and so Yours Truly set out to investigate.

But did I say a good night’s sleep? I certainly did. And not only that I was on my travels again. I was watching some British World War I cavalry charge up this steep hill to attack a German post there and while they were all almost swept away and almost everyone was unhorsed, they carried the position whilst a few of their number tried to round up the loose horses. I remember saying to myself is that had the cavalry been followed up by a regiment of infantry they could have swept on right behind the lines and caused chaos.

Nothing new in this though – at the Battle of the Somme a detachment of infantry did succeed in breaking the lines in one place on the first day and had the cavalry, standing by in the vicinity, been sent in to exploit the breakthrough, they could have cleared up too. But that was a lost opportunity.

From there, Cecile and I went off to look at the animals at the shelter and an old black-and-white collie fell for me and so I took it home and we lived happily ever after. And there is nothing more unlikely than this, as you all know.

bodensee ferry meersburg konstanz germanyI found the ferry terminal, just a couple of kms down the road and €11:50 later, Strawberry Moose, Caliburn and I were sailing to Konstanz on the other side of the lake. Never a good idea, as you know, for me to find a ferry . After all, it makes me cross.

Getting to Knostanz was one thing – finding the correct border crossing into Switzerland (well, I am here!) was quite something else entirely and I actually crossed the frontier three times before I could find the correct road out of the town. A leisurely amble then took me along the southern shore of the Bodensee and eventually across into Austria at Bregenz.

Bregenz had the first (of many) traffic jams and so I didn’t get to see too much of the town but then a drive over the mountains, into southern Germany and a stop for lunch did the business.

On the way over the mountains between Austria and Germany, I encountered these two vehicles. Single-seater machines and equipped like proper little cars, with steering wheels and pedals. But judging by the wiring that I could see inside the vehicles, they may well be electric cars. However there was no-one around to ask.

Mind you, judging by the names of the vehicles – the red one being a City-El and the white one being a Mini-El-City, electricity is a good guess.

Onto the Autoroute after that, and wasn’t that a big mistake? Say what you like about Germans, when they organise something, they organise it in spades and the traffic jam on the autoroute was a belter. We must have sat for 2 hours without turning a wheel at one point. Stop-start all of the 113 kms to Munich and then fighting the rush hour traffic out of the city to Hans’ place.

So now I’m here, eventually, and after a decent meal and some live music in a pub nearby, I’m off to bed. A shakedown on the sofa. I wonder if it will be as comfortable as my last couple of nights in Caliburn?