Tag Archives: father christmas

Wednesday 8th December 2021 – I WAS RIGHT …

replacing cobbles rue st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021… when I said the other day that maybe I was being rather too hasty with my vituperative comments about the surface of the Rue St Michel

Those big bags that we saw on the back of that pick-up yesterday were actually full of cobbles and then are all now dumped on the corner in the Rue de Cambernon. But several have actually made it up to the far end of the street.

If you look carefully at this photograph you’ll see that a pile of them have even been laid and the work is slowly progressing down the hill towards where I’m standing.

Mind you, it’ll take them a good few days to reach this end of the street. And then, I suppose, someone else will come along and dig it up for some other purpose.

After last night’s antics I needed someone to come along and dig me up out of bed when the alarm went off because firstly I was in bed late, not being tired earlier, and then I was awake after just about 4 hours of sleep and couldn’t go back to sleep until, as usual, about 5 minutes before the alarm went off.

Consequently I was staggering around for a good few minutes trying to gather my wits once I finally made it out of bed.

Once I’d had my medication and checked my mails and messages I went and edited the sound-file from Sunday morning. It was a mess as I expected, with pops and bangs everywhere, but I’ve managed to trim well over 40 minutes of sound down to half that – and there’s plenty more to go as well.

However I need to send it off to Laurent for a listen and for him to dictate some supplementary questions.

A propos of absolutely nothing, two of the interviewees started to talk about the Erasmus scheme and the ending of mutual recognition of qualifications and that will make a pretty good interview all on its own so I cut it out and filed it separately.

All of that took me right up to 18:20 this evening, but it was a job well-done.

There were the usual interruptions of course, one of which was for breakfast, and another was for a shower. And having weighed myself again, I’m down to my lowest weight since it piled back on after I stopped running. Those were the days, hey?

With a late lunch as well today, it was almost time to go straight out for my walk to the physiotherapist’s.

repairing medieval city wall place du marché aux chevaux Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021Seeing as I was a few minutes early today, I went to have a look at the repairs to the medieval city wall at the Place du Marché aux Chevaux.

First thing that I noticed was that they hadn’t re-erected the shelter that was blown down by Storm Arwen, the shelter that they have over their heads when they are pointing the wall, to stop objects from above falling on their heads.

But then by the looks of things, the pointing has hardly advanced at all since we saw it last. Mind you, they have had other things to worry about, like gale-force winds and the like. And this afternoon’s wind was nothing to be ashamed of either.

You have already seen the photo of the Rue St Michel so I pushed on and walked over the drawbridge into the Rue des Juifs.

marité chausiaise port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021The other day we saw a photo of all of the Ile de Chausey boats moored up in the inner harbour.

However today, there has been some shuffling around of the fleet. The Joly France ferry that was over on the far side of the harbour has now disappeared completely.

Chausiaise has also moved, but not as far. She’s now in front of Marité in the loading bay underneath the crane but I don’t think that all of that freight just there is for her.

As for the other two boats, they are still tied up here against the quayside right underneath where I’m standing.

site of christmas market place pelley le pleville Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021There’s quite a lot of activity going on down below too on the Place Pleville de Pelley.

That’s where the bar ephemère hangs out during the summer and is used as the boulodrome for the rest of the time, but today they are setting up some little wooden cabins there.

We’re going to be having a Christmas Fair, so I’m told, and that looks as if it’s it. It doesn’t look particularly impressive though.

Given half a chance I’d be in Aachen or Köln next weekend at a real Christmas Fair, but I’m going nowhere unnecessary while there’s all of this going on.

On the way up the hill I stopped at the Carrefour and bought a bunch of bananas. I’m running low on them and I can’t survive at all without bananas.

At the physiotherapist’s, she had me on the cross trainer again for 5 minutes and then more kinetic exercises, including throwing this ball about again. Today though, I don’t know what happened but I wasn’t feeling anything like as well as I have done this last couple of weeks – and that was nothing much to write home about was it?

ambulance rue couraye Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021As I stepped out of the physiotherapist’s, I was overtaken by an ambulance going down the hill at some speed.

There must be some kind of emergency somewhere for him to be driving like that with all of his lights flashing.

Having taken a photo I pushed on down the hill where I bumped into “Father Christmas” coming out of a shop. We had quite a chat about our interview the other day and he was quite impressed with how well it came out.

In the end, they didn’t do a bad job of it but it could have been ohhhh! So much better and I feel that an opportunity has been let slip here.

cherry picker fixing wreath to town hall place general de gaulle Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021There was more excitement going on when I arrived at the town centre.

There’s one of the Council’s cherry-pickers down there in the Place General de Gaulle and the gus in the nacelle are erecting some kind of Christmas wreath on the wall of the Mairie.

Not that I have any idea why they would be wanting to do that because putting it as high up as they seem to be doing, it’s not as if many people are going to notice it up there.

empty port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021By now we were having a really heavy hailstorm so I wrapped my rain jacket tighter around me and carried on through the town and up the hill.

The part of the port where the fishing boats tie up was strangely deserted this afternoon. Almost every boat was out at sea, and in this weather too. They must be expecting a bumper harvest this evening when they all come back on the tide.

When you think about it, it’s quite a heroic endeavour being a fisherman and since the demise of coal-mining in the West, it’s probably one of the most dangerous occupations going. On the other side of the Cotentin Peninsula a trawler with four people on board was lost at sea two nights ago.

beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021Despite the lousy weather right now, I went over to have my customary look at the beach.

As I expected, there was no-one down there at all right now. People have far more sense than to be out and about in all of this.

Back here I made myself a nice hot coffee and then carried on with editing this sound file. I was glad when I finished it too – at least this particular bit. There will be plenty more work to be done on it, and on the other sound files too that relate to this project.

And who knows? Maybe even one of my colleagues might contribute something to this project, but I’m not holding my breath.

Tea was the rest of last night’s curry and left-over curry is even more delicious the next day when all of the spices have marinaded deeper into the food.

So that’s enough for today. I’m off to bed. For the next two days I’m staying at home with no plans anywhere. So that’s the cue for Caliburn’s bits and pieces to be delivered to the parcels centre and for his new tyres to arrive, isn’t it?

Wednesday 1st December 2021 – ONCE AGAIN I HAVEN’T …

… done anything like as much today as I had wanted to.

There have been a variety of reasons for this – not the least being that I had yet another dreadful night, wide-awake at 05:20 and lying there waiting for the alarm to ring at 07:30. I tell you – I’m thoroughly sick of all of this.

As you might expect, it took a good few minutes for me to summon up the energy to leave my bed this morning and then I was pretty much wasted for the rest of the day.

After the medication I had a shower to clean myself up and bang on time Laurent came round for me. We went off to meet Thierry and then the three of us went off to meet Father Christmas and his blasted elves.

As I thought, the interview turned out to fall rather flat. I could understand the logic (whether I agreed with it or not) of submitting the questions in advance, I totally disagreed with the idea of “suggested replies”.

Children have a really fertile imagination and they need to be encouraged to develop it. And sometimes they can come up with some fascinating responses. But having them blindly reading off a script is a pretty dismal activity and it destroys the spontaneity of it all.

Having them all sitting around a table was another bad idea too because it’s always the more powerful ones who are heard. I would have interviewed them one by one where the kids could have responded without any peer pressure and chosen the pick of the answers.

In other words, this affair was micro-managed to an overwhelming degree and Laurent and I were quite disappointed about how it turned out. What had given us the idea for this was that two years ago wandering around the streets one night we had come across Father Christmas and subjected him to an off-the cuff interview. That was a resounding success.

While I was there I took a few photos of Father Christmas and his elves but I can’t publish them of course.

Back here Laurent came in for a coffee and we had a good chat about a few things, and made a few plans for the future.

After he left I went outside to wipe the rust-proofing liquid off the wheels and dry them, but painting them was out of the question. There was a howling gale again and it was sleeting.

Lunch was late again and afterwards I had the morning’s photos to edit and send off. They’ll choose one to illustrate our programme when it’s ready to broadcast.

trawler thora arriving at port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021Once I’d finished that it was time for me to go off for my physiotherapy session.

The wind was if anything rather worse than it had been earlier and it was rather difficult to walk.

And I wasn’t the only one having difficulty moving around either. There was a trawler out at sea battling with the storm to come into port and behind her, Thora was being thrown about by the elements.

When I took this photo she was actually being blown sideways by the wind and was coming into port rather like a crab.

pointing wall Rampe du Monte à Regret Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021Down at the wall at the Rampe du Monte à Regret the pointing of the wall was proceeding apace.

Mind you, I’m not sure what was happening there earlier. On our way back from Father Christmas there was an ambulance and a police car parked up at the side.

The personnel of the vehicles seemed to be quite interested in what was going on down below but as I wasn’t driving and as we had other things to do, I couldn’t go over and have a look.

If it’s anything interesting or important, it’ll be in the local paper in the morning.

Halfway up the hill towards the physiotherapist’s, I had to stop. Not because I was out of breath but because we suddenly had another torrential downpour. I had to nip into a doorway and put on my rain jacket.

It reminded me of how Superman and all of these other superheroes used to dash into telephone boxes and emerge seconds later with their underpants on outside their trousers. Where do they go to change now with the rise of mobile ‘phones and the demise of telephone boxes?

And then of course, there was my brother. He was often seen with his underpants on outside his trousers, but that was less to do with any superhero status and more to do with the fact that he didn’t have both paddles in the water.

No tilting platform today. There was the usual 5 minutes on the cross trainer and then a load of kinetic exercises that somehow took their toll of me.

She had me once more walking along this narrow beam and throwing a ball about. She was impressed with my reflexes co-ordination but as I have said before, my previous life as a goalkeeper and wicket-keeper had a lot to do with that.

father christmas decorations Place Général de Gaulle Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021On the way home I came via the Place General de Gaulle.

On the way up to the physiotherapist’s I’d seen a few council workmen on up on ladders working on the trees and I was interested to see what they had been doing with them.

By the time that I returned, the workmen had gone but I noticed that some of the trees were now festooned with decorations. And if you ask me my opinion, it’s all a load of balls.

christmas decorations rue paul poirier Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that a couple of years ago Strawberry Moose reckoned that the Christmas decorations in the Rue Paul Poirier WERE ALL BALLS too.

THis year though, there’s been a change, and not before time either. This year we have the street lined with artificial “Christmas Trees”.

Now what was I saying a few days ago about them recycling the same old decorations year after year and wishing that they would make a change?

Clearly, a great many people are very interested in the contents of my pages and pay them a great deal of attention.

La Bavolette Ii thora marité belle france joly france port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021A short while ago we saw Thora having a bit of a struggle to make it into port.

Well she finally arrived, as you can see in this photo, moored up at the loading bay in front of Marité, with Belle France and the newer Joly France ferry – the one with the smaller upper-deck superstructure, moored alongside her.

The little trawler in the background is an interesting boat. She’s called La Bavolette II – at least, for the moment. And I mean that too because in the past she’s been known by several different names.

She was built in 1982 out of wood and displaces 40 tonnes

philcathane l'ecume II port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021This trawler is much more interesting though.

Not Philcathane, of course – not that she isn’t interesting in herself but she hasn’t had the adventures that the other one in the photo has had.

You can tell by her registration number – beginning with “J” – that she’s a Boat from Jersey and how long is it since we’ve seen a boat from the Channel Islands here in port with all of the shenanigans that are going on right now?

There’s a great deal of talk about illegal fishing right now and this trawler – she’s called L’Ecume II by the way, can tell you an awful lot about that because on two occasions about which I know, her crew has been in the dock and emerged with their pockets far lighter than they were when they went in.

And not only that, 18 months ago she found herself stuck on a sandbank because her helmsman had fallen asleep at the wheel.

In other words, she’s quite a well-known boat, for one reason or another.

storm baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021However I wasn’t going to hang around and admire her for too long.

As you can see, out in the Baie de Mont St Michel there was quite a storm brewing up and the gale-force wind was blowing it my way.

As a result, I wasn’t going to hang around. I was going to head for home and a hot mug of coffee, and make plans about what I was going to do for the rest of the week. I actually have a day at home without any interruptions at all – but just you watch all that change.

beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021Before I went in I went to have a look at the beach

And that was rather a waste of time because there wasn’t any beach to look at today. The tide was right in now and the water was at the foot of the cliffs. All I had for my pains was a good battering by the wind.

Back here I had my coffee and sat down to try to do some work.

Checking my messages there was a mail from my Welsh course telling me what ingredients I need for the Christmas Cake I’ll be baking on-line on Friday evening. Treacle isn’t available here so I ended up asking Liz for advice on a replacement and chatting to her for quite a while.

For some reason, tea was quite an effort tonight. I’m experiencing brain-fade – not quite as bad as the nonsense I was churning up last night – but I couldn’t think of what to have for tea. I’d really run aground.

In the end I settled for a burger and pasta. That was the best that I could do.

Right now, although I haven’t crashed out today, I’m thoroughly exhausted so I’m off to bed where I hope that I’ll sleep until I awaken.

But not much hope of that, I’m afraid. All of this is really depressing me.

Wednesday 24th November 2021 – YOU HAVE ALL HAD …

… a very lucky escape today. I was in half a mind … “your usual state” – ed … to post a photo of my naked chest today.

For the last 24 hours or so I’ve been having a pain in my chest round about where my catheter port is and when I felt it, it felt about three times the normal size

Of course, where it is on my chest, I can’t see it (not that I would want to look anyway) but on my way back from the physiotherapist I bumped into my neighbour who is a home help for the elderly and knows about these things.

She came round accordingly to have a look on her way home.

The swelling (for it is a swelling) and the “hard spot” is not actually at my catheter port but about half an inch away from it, and it doesn’t seem to be septic or anything like that.

She took a photo of it so that I could forward it to the hospital tomorrow and ask their advice. And if they can’t come up with anything, I’ll go and see my doctor.

A visit to my doctor is on the cards anyway because I’m having some serious difficulty in going off to sleep. Last night was rather later than intended but even so, being wide awake at 04:50 when I’m supposed to be lying in until 07:30 is ridiculous.

Mind you, it’s just as well that I was wide-awake because at least I wasn’t disturbed when the alarm went off at 06:00 as I’d forgotten to switch it off from last week.

After the medication and checking my e-mails I transcribed the dictaphone notes. This was a long rambling dream but I can only remember a few bits. I was living in the Netherlands or Flanders and I had to take my CPC for my coach operator’s licence. I passed and was given a certificate so I took it home. On the way back I bought some more clothes from IKEA because we had two kids. I had some quite nice towels, a bluey green one and a reddy maroon one with their own little covers which would be just the thing. My mother was pleased with the towels. She didn’t understand the certificate at first but when she did she wanted to know if I was going back into business. I said “not really but it was due for renewal so I wanted to make sure that it was up to date just in case”. But there were tons more to this but I can’t remember anything

Later on there was some kind of party and I’d been there and was on my way home. I’d left my alcohol pills there but I was bringing home the church tower with the clock on it. I met these two people down the road but I can’t remember any more yet again about this which is a shame because this was beginning to sound interesting.

While I was lying there awake waiting for the alarm at 07:30 I was off on a very long ramble with my niece to a radio station in “Piedmont”, somewhere in Eastern North America. But as I was awake (at least, I think I was), that doesn’t really count.

Once I’d organised myself I started to edit out the soundfiles of the radio interview that we did a couple of weeks ago. By the time that I stopped for lunch I’d edited about 45% on the first run through.

How I do it is that I have a first run-through and edit out all of the stuttering and stammering and breathing, stuff like that, so that it’s coherent and consistent.

Then I go back through it and cut out the bits that are irrelevant to my programme.

Finally, as with any interview, the interviewee often answers questions that haven’t been asked so we dictate the questions later and edit them in to break up what might be a monologue.

And a quick note to Grahame – recording in mono, running the tracks simultaneously with “hard left” on one track and “hard right” on the other works perfectly and gives the effect that I want. Thanks for the tip.

There was just enough time for a shower before lunch (and I’m now at my lowest weight since I stopped running) and just as I’d finished, Laurent arrived.

We went off across the courtyard to the Council’s annexe where the controller of the radio works, and discussed a forthcoming “event”. And this is going to be yet another World exclusive scoop, but more about that anon.

While we were there, we discussed a few other things here and there because we’ve long-since arrived at the conclusion that leaving things until the last minute doesn’t work. We need to have a few things in stock ready.

By now it was quite late so Laurent drove me up the physiotherapist’s, hence the absence of any photos.

Today I didn’t have a go on the tilting platform. Instead she had me on the cross trainer (where I set a new personal best) and then a pile of kinetic exercises.

When she threw me out, I had shopping to do so for a change, seeing as I hadn’t been to LIDL for ages I pushed on reluctantly up the hill and round the corner.

And for a change I managed to find everything that I needed and to be un the safe side I bought three boxes of yeast. I seem to be getting through yeast and flour at an alarming rate these days. And that reminds me – I have a loaf to bake tomorrow morning.

crane rue victor hugo rue st paul Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021On the way back home I passed the building site that we used to observe when I came this way regularly.

There are some concrete slab walls that have gone up on the ground floor level so they seem to be at last making progress. But it’s rather slow progress, more like what you might expect of Belgian housebuilders, of which regular readers of this rubbish will recall.

Carrying my rather heavy load I carried on down the hill, when I remembered that I hadn’t bought an energy drink to help me back up the hill on the other side towards home.

council workmen installing father christmas place general de gaulle Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021In the town centre the Council workmen were out in force.

Every year there’s a Christmas display of some kind or other and this year the centrepiece seems to be a giant Father Christmas, surrounded by a pile of trees that have been brought in from somewhere.

On the way back up the hill I met my neighbour coming down so we had a chat about my catheter port, and then I came home for a coffee.

No photo of the beach because by now it was going dark quite rapidly.

Tea tonight was taco rolls followed by a soya dessert thing. It’s amazing what one finds in LIDL these days.

But right now I’m off to bed. I’m exhausted. I had a lot of things to do today and hardly did any of them. I really must get a move on.

Wednesday 23d December 2020 – WHILE YOU ADMIRE …

storm high winds sea wall port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall… the storm and the high winds that were blasting us here on the Pointe du Roc all through the day, let me tell you about my miserable day today.

And it isn’t as you might think, because although I didn’t beat the third alarm to my feet, I managed to only … “only, he says” – ed … miss it by 45 minutes and that’s an improvement on yesterday, for sure.

After the medication, I came back here to start on transcribing the notes off the dictaphone. And there were plenty of them today. It’s hardly surprising that I overslept with the distance that I had travelled during the night.

storm high winds sea wall port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere had been something to do with my house in Virlet only it wasn’t my house in Virlet at all. It was about all the brickwork in it, something like that and how untidy the place was. Some people whom I knew had been into it to fetch a couple of things and I hoped that they weren’t too put off by the untidy state of it. It made me wish that the place had burnt down or something or destroyed or demolished and I could start again and build something else on the site. So I walked off and it was a case of I climbed down this cliff and reached the bottom and had to walk off. I suddenly realised that this guy was fetching something so I had to go back and stand at the foot of this cliff while he threw it down to me. I noticed that he had 3 or 4 big packages but he threw 1 down and that seemed to be all that he was going to throw down. I couldn’t work out what this little thing was that he had thrown, what it was and how it worked. I couldn’t remember what he was going to throw me anyway. I was scratching my head all about this.

I’d been out on my usual evening walk and it had been terrible, really wet weather. I was walking around the edge of Espinasse and I had to go to the bathroom so I went to the little village hut place and went in there to the bathroom but found that the bowl of the WC had been broken and was all sellotaped off. In the end I couldn’t go so I gathered up my stuff. I’d heard someone come in in the meantime so I gathered up my stuff and walked out. There were a couple of girls in there so I walked on out and carried on with my walk. I ended up right on the far side of St Gervais down where you drop down towards the Sioule. I started thinking about going home but suddenly realised that I didn’t have my camera. I must have forgotten to pick it up when I was using the bathroom. I had to go from where I was to the other side of St Gervais all across the town and the countryside to return to Espinasse to where the toilet was in the hope that in the meantime no-one like these 2 girls had seen it, taken a fancy to it and disappeared with it. I had to set off and I knew that there was a short-cut through St Gervais right up this path. It was starting to become steeper and steeper and I was having breath problems but I was getting to the top. Then the path petered out and I ended up being right by the armco barrier of a garage selling Minis. A guy had come up the path and was following me up it. We had to inch our way along the brick work up this path. When it stopped I could see that the only solution was to climb over this armco and go into the area of this garage and walk through that way. This guy was as awkward as I was so when I worked out what I was going to do I asked him if he would like a hand. He looked at me totally puzzled as if “what would anyone need a hand for?” so I thought that I’d leave him to it.

storm high winds sea wall port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallSomewhere in this we were discussing recipes and a programme was being recorded for broadcasting on TV. Someone was having difficulty understanding the issue about small weights so I offered to give them a demonstration to show them. But there was much more to this dream that I’ve forgotten that I wish that I had remembered that I was going to be doing it when I dictated it but it all disappeared.

There were other types of bread available to use but I chose that particular one for some unknown reason using this oat and flour yeast thing and I couldn’t get them to go very much at all. (it looks as if I’ve missed something out here).

There was something a little bit about someone driving a car down the Freeway and they had to pull over to the side and stop as a police car with its lights flashing went past. All the vehicles that had pulled over and made room for the police car and stopped were then allowed to proceed but the police were interested in an old pickup with old Ohio number plates towing a trailer. When they looked at the trailer they told the guy that when he got to his destination he had to have it inspected and send the inspection to them which they did. When they received a copy of the inspection they found that it had failed on several things and issued him with a ticket. Someone was telling me that in Illinois they had the most trailers and hence the most oppressive police when it comes to inspecting them.

All of these travels and all of this distance, and no-one I know coming with me either.

And if you think that it took me a long time to type out all of that, it took me longer than you think because I had a computer issue after about 2/3 of it. Everything went “bang” and the computer locked up. At least, that’s what I thought at the time.

It was still there, switched on and apparently working but not doing anything, so after trying just about everything I shrugged my shoulders and hunted around at the back for the power switch, and switched it off.

Leaving it to cool down for about 15 minutes I switched it back on, and there we had a “no keyboard detected” error message, and no mouse either. So at least, the computer was doing something. I unplugged the keyboard and mouse and tried various USB ports and eventually it managed to work. There’s one bank of USB ports on the front and two banks at the back, and it seems that one bank at the back has burnt out.

Getting to it where it is is not an easy proposition so I’ve rigged something up temporarily and hope that it holds out until the New Year. And then I had to start the dictation again, seeing as I’d lost what I’d already typed out when I’d switched off the machine.

So limping along for the rest of the morning, I did some work on some of the arrears from the summer. I don’t think that I’ll ever finish this. But it was far too late to go to the shops for the Christmas veg. I’ll go tomorrow just to LIDL and what they don’t have, I’ll have to do without.

After lunch I’ve been a very busy bee – to such an extent that I even missed guitar practice (although I did find the time to do my Welsh homework).

Yes, although it’s not Pancake Tuesday, Eric’s busy baking.

First task was to take out a roll of flaky pastry from the fridge (I haven’t tried to make it yet) and then spread it out on my baking sheet.

I have one of these silicone 6-hole mini tart moulds so using that, I cut out 6 rings of pastry to fit in. And with my last jar of mincemeat, I filled them”. I then had to re-roll the remainder of the pastry to make 6 smaller rings to go on top. I moistened the edges of the pastry already in the mould with soya milk, put the new pastry rings on top and pressed them down with a fork to seal them.

Finally, brushed the top with milk and sprinkled brown sugar on top. And forgetting to prick them to let out the steam I put them in the oven for 40 minutes.

Then I mixed 10 spoons of icing sugar with 3 spoons of vegan margarine and several squirts of lemon juice and whipped it all up into a nice frothy mix and then spent a rather long, delicate time icing the cake that regular readers of this rubbish will recall me marzipanning at the weekend.

Finally, there was the kefir. some of the kiwis were nicely ripe so they were peeled and whizzed for ages into a very liquidy pulp which was then passed through the filter stack with the juice straining through into the large jug.

And then the kefir that had been brewing for a few days followed it through the stack into the jug too, leaving the obligatory inch or so at the bottom. Into what was left went 40 grammes of sugar, half a lemon sliced, a dried fig cut in 2 and then filled to within about an inch of the top.

kiwi kefir marzipan iced cake home made mince pies place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThe kefir and kiwi in the jug was all stirred in together and then passed through the filer stack into the various bottles which were then sealed. And I mustn’t forget to vent them regularly.

And here’s the finished product. The kefir looks OK, but then I’ve had plenty of practice with that. The mince pies are somewhat “artisanal”, as you might possibly expect, and as for the icing – well, it’s only the second time that I’ve ever done it and I don’t have the correct tools to do it anyway.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating, as they say, so we’ll find out about the mince pies on Christmas Eve and the ad-hoc Christmas cake on Christmas Day. What I can say right now is that I did my best

storm baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallMustn’t forget the afternoon walk, which I fitted in in the middle of everything.

And I rather wished that I hadn’t bothered because the wind was thoroughly wicked this afternoon. I’d heard reports of wind gusting at 40mph (65kph) out in the English Channel and they mustn’t have been joking either because it really was wild out there. Even though the tide was well out, we were having nice crested whitecaps out there.

The bruit du couloir had told me that wile I was wrestling with the computer, Normandy Trader had done a quick aller-retour this morning. I’ll bet that they will know all about the storm out there in that little boat.

storm high winds pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThe few people who were out there would know all about it too because while it was pretty strong out here in the car park, the wind increased in velocity the further along towards the headland I went.

It’s a real sou-wester that’s blowing today so here on the north side of the headland we are in some comparative shade, but even so, the waves are still coming in with quite some force onto the rocks down here by the Coastguard Station on the north side of the headland.

You can see how much of the water that sprays up from the rocks here is being whipped away by the wind. I’m glad that I’m downwind of it all.

sunset brittany coast baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAcross the lawn I went, and across the car park and down to the very end of the headland.

It was almost impossible to stand here with the strength of the wind that was coming in with full force. There was, once more, a beautiful sunset so I took a photo of it while I was here. And that wasn’t easy at all in all of this wind and I almost ended up having to go running off after my hat but I grabbed at it just in time.

Out of the corner of my eye I’d seen the spray from the waves hitting the harbour wall round in the port, even though we’re a good couple of hours from high tide so I wandered off around there for a look – and you’ve seen the results.

cb-303-te citroen u23 old cars father christmas boulevard vaufleury Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut here’s something that I didn’t expect to see while I was on my travels around this afternoon.

It’s quite true that we are almost at Christmas but who would have expected Santa to have come riding past on the back of an old lorry? Down the Boulevard Vaufleury there are only a handful of houses and I haven’t noticed any young kids around there, so it’s something of a wasted journey.

And as for the lorry? It’s not one that I recognise offhand and there was no insignia or anything on it to help me. At first I thought that it might have been an old Willeme LD but having given the matter further thought, I’m now pretty sure that it is in fact a Citroen U23 minus its Citroen logo.

My excuse is that it’s a lot more modern than THE LAST CITROEN U23 THAT WE HAVE SEEN

berliet GBC lorry old cars father christmas boulevard vaufleury Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd Santa wasn’t alone either. he had some of his friends riding along behind him.

They are travelling in an old Berliet GBC lorry, a model first launched in 1956 during the Good Old Days before Renault became involved and badge-engineered everything. Yes, it wasn’t just Leyland who got up to tricks like that in Europe. It was great fun being in France in the early 1970s and seeing real lorries like Berliets, Willemes and Saviems driving around.

So I waved goodbye to Santa and his helpers and wandered off down the road out of the wind as much as I could.

moon Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallJust at that moment, as I rounded the corner, the moon peeped out from behind a cloud.

It didn’t stay very long at all but I was ready for it and as soon as I could see it through the wisps I took a photo of it for the record. It’s just over half-way round so another 10 days might just see us getting to a full moon.

But I came home for a really hot coffee to warm me up and to do my Welsh homework. And having done that, I went and carried on with my baking activities. I was really enjoying myself with all of that this afternoon and I can’t wait to do some more.

st martin de brehal Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut by the time that I’d done everything and done the washing-up it was already time to clear off out for my evening run.

And if you thought that the wind was strong, you should have been out in it just now with me. I ran on down to the Rue du Nord and took a photo of St Martin de Brehal just to say that I’d been out, and then carried on.

Going out was fine but coming back was not so. Both my homeward-bound runs ended up being aborted because it’s not possible to run into a headwind blowing at about 80kph. It was difficult enough to walk in it. I did what I could whenever I could do it, and then made my way home for tea.

There was a falafel burger left over from Belgium years ago so I had that with some veg and a potato followed by apple crumble and custard. And then the notes to write up.

Once more, with all of the distractions, I’m running rather late so heaven alone knows whether I’ll beat the third alarm. But no matter what, I have to make the shops tomorrow. How can anyone miss brussels sprouts, leeks, endives and seitan slices for Christmas dinner?

Sunday 29th December 2019 – I’M NOT SURE …

… whether it was a good idea or not for me to set an alarm this morning. Because I might have needed it, and then again I might not.

Hoping around on my toes at 04:00 trying to ease out a bad attack of cramp (how come these attacks have started up again just recently), awake again at 07:00, and finally and definitely, about 2 minutes before the alarm at 08:30.

No medication this morning. I don’t have time to wait for it to work. Instead I had breakfast and then made a start on the dictaphone notes from during the night.

I was with a group of people last night – we were on board a ship (yet again). I’d gone out once already during the night to see what was happening and there wasn’t very much so I had to go out of my cabin again so I decided that what I would do was to go and have a look outside again to see what the weather was doing while I was on the point of doing this other job. There was a guy standing by the door outside – I thought he was smoking a cigarette or something so I went out to say hello and he said “have you thought about that thing that we can be doing, because if you aren’t going to do it straight away I can get down to start work on my car”. I had the impression that I was supposed to be helping him work on a motorcycle but I don’t remember much about it and of course there isn’t all that much we can do on board a ship in that respect. Anyway I thought “well, yes, I’m willing to help out anyone any time” and I awoke at that point
At another time during the night there was something going on about people having a party. They’d booked a table at a night club, a table for 8 but the table was at the back. They enquired why and were told “some of these big tables have a habit of being a bit rowdy and pushing their way to the front and it disrupts the other people so we like to keep them where they are”. But this guy whose party it was was organising something and the other people were to come and a lot of them were saying that she couldn’t stay very late and he was qute disappointed about this. He said “as long as you come for the first drink that’w what’s really important. Come and have the first drink with me”. Then he said he had to go and there was some issue too about the date. It was the 1st of January and the date ticket that was sat in the date holder think on the table or in the notebook was too long and protruded out of the holder so it needed to be trimmed. But he hadn’t thought about doing that so I asked him where he wanted it on the table. He said that it was upstairs so he’d better go upstairs and get it. And that was when I awoke.
And somewhere along the line there was something about fitting a pinch bolt in the gearbox drive of a vehicle that I owned so I’d gone down to the garage in Centreville to do that. Darren and I dunno maybe Jody were there. They got a pinch bolt out and got the tools and everything then they both climbed under the vehicle and I thought that I was going to do that but they climbed under there anyway. I had to move so that they could get under. They put the pinch bolt in but it was slightly too long and they could get it in with a real bit of difficulty but there was about an inch too much that wasn’t needed on the pinch bolt. So they looked at each other and said “well should we cut this inch off then?” And that’s all that I remember of that bit.
There had been another thing too but when I awoke I had the most awful cramp – so much so that I had to stand up to ease the leg. And by the time that the cramp had gone, so had any memory of the dream

After that I checked over my equipment and then Laurent appeared at the door so we shot off to Donville les Bains.

bain des manchot or penguin or some such donville les bains granville manche normandy franceToday is the Bain des Manchots, the “bathing of the Giant Penguins”.

Every village for miles around loses its fou for the day and they all assembles on the beach ready to take the plunge.

Our task today was to come to the Bain des Manchots in order to interview some of the bathers and the organisers.

There were plenty of manchots around on the beach too and we interviewed a couple of them to find out why they had come all this way for a swim when they could have stayed at home and gone for a swim back there.

bain des manchot or penguin or some such donville les bains granville manche normandy franceAs well as manchots there were dozens of Father Christmases out there too, all taking a break from delivering the presents and recharging their batteries ready for the start of the new year.

And it wouldn’t take much of an effort for them either if they are used to the weather at the North Pole. Although the air temperature is a mere 4°C, someone has measured the water temperature and it’s between 9°C and 10°C.

And that’s positively tropical.

bain des manchot or penguin or some such donville les bains granville manche normandy franceAnd for mainly that reason, the organisers reckoned that they had a record number of entries.

Certificates were awarded to those who “took the plunge” and they reckoned that as far as they could tell, they issued 300 or so certificates.

That’s a far cry from when they started 10 or so years ago and just 20 people made it into the water.

bain des manchot or penguin or some such donville les bains granville manche normandy franceThe secret of going into the water in this weather is really quite simple.

For people who are in any way timid or unsure of themselves, the key is to be at the front, first in line. Once the whistle blows, there’s no turning back and the force of the crowd behind you pushes you into the water.

Being last in, you see all of the others wincing as they enter the water, and that can dampen anyone’s ardour.

People didn’t stay in for long – 15 minutes was, I reckon, the longest.

We interviewed a few of them, including a girl aged about 6 who we reckon was the youngest participant, when they came out.

No-one was really suffering although one or two people were looking really uncomfortable. Each to his own though. Some people are more susceptible to the cold than others.

Laurent brought me home and he came up here for a coffee and a chat for a while. It’s a good job that I’d cleaned up and tidied up everywhere over the last couple of days

sea shells rue du port granville manche normandy franceAfter he had left, it was lunchtime so I walked back into town for my dejeunette.

Down on the rue du Port near to the fish processing plant, my eyes were drawn to this beautiful piece of street art. Someone had clearly taken some time to compose this oeuvre here on the pavement.

It’s far more representative of art than many of the works exhibited in many galleries these days.

victor hugo aztec lady charles marie port de granville harbour manche normandy franceThe tide was out so the harbour gates were closed so I could walk across the pathway on top, over to the other side of the harbour.

Victor Hugo is there this afternoon, as are Aztec Lady and Charles Marie.

But there’s no sign of Granville, the more modern of the two Channel Island ferries. I’m pretty certain that she was here last night, so it looks as if she’s had another early morning run out to St Helier.

market place general de gaulle granville manche normandy franceI picked up my dejeunette from la Mie Caline and then went for a look around the town.

The Christmas market, such as it is, is still going on in the place Générale de Gaulle and will be for another day or two.

Mind you, it’s not what I would call a Christmas market. I’m more used to the ones in Germany where it’s freezing cold and there are hundreds of stalls and thousands of people.

Here today, there were about half a dozen stalls and more stalls than people.

bad parking Boulevard des 2E et 202E de Ligne granville manche normandy franceIt doesn’t seem to be possible these days to go for a day without my making some kind of remark about some of the pathetic parking that we see around the town.

Here’s today’s example. A huge space in the Boulevard des 2E et 202E de Ligne, big enough to park a bus in, and yet the driver (and I use the word loosely) has somehow managed to end up with two wheels on the pavement.

That’s bad enough in itself but what is worse is that he’s simply left the vehicle there and made no attempt whatever to park it correctly.

Back in the apartment I had a very late lunch and then something of a vegetation (after all, it IS Sunday) before going out for my afternoon walk.

taking photographs preteen girl pointe du roc granville manche normandy franceCrowds of people around but not much else going on.

However there was some guy wandering around with a couple of girls aged about 10 and 12 and he was posing them in all kinds of artistic settings on the clifftop and then taking photographs of them.

I enjoy taking photos of people taking photos, but this one hasn’t worked so well as I ended up with the low evening sun right in the camera lens and I didn’t have the time to change the camera settings.

Back here I had a listen to our dictaphone recordings of the morning’s adventures and then sent them off to Laurent. He’s going to listen to them and tel me where and what to cut out, and dictate some more “questions” that I can insert in, to break up some of the “monologues” that we recorded where our interviewees were carried away with themselves.

Tea was a vegan pizza as usual, and it was delicious, as was the Christmas cake that followed it down.

While I was eating it, I was watching a Saint episode on the DVD player. Loads of famous people had bit parts in these series before they became famous and it’s always interesting to see who I can pick out.

One voice stood out a mile and I recognised it as soon a I first heard it. I had to wait unti the end to confirm it, and I was right. None other than Lois Maxwell, who later went on to fame and fortune as Miss Moneypenny in the “James Bond” films.

trawlers port de granville harbour manche normandy franceAfter tea I went for my walk around the walls.

No-one around so I could have my run around my little track and I made it up to the top of the first ramp tonight. While I was pausing for breath I could see some fishing boats unloading at the fish processing plant.

trawler english channel granville manche normandy franceAs I came back to the apartment I noticed that I was on 93% of my daily activity.

And so i continued my walk and went to see what was out at sea. Sure enough, the lights were telling me that another long line of fishing boats were on their way back to the fish processing plant.

A quick rough head-count told me that there were about 7 of them at least. There may well have been more.

trawler english channel granville manche normandy franceAlthough these photos might seem blurred you need to remember that it’s pitch black out here so I’m on a very slow speed, the camera is hand-held in the wind, and the boat is about 5 miles offshore.

In the circumstances I’m not too disappointed.

Back here it’s late, I’ve just finished my journal and now it’s time for bed. I won’t have much sleep tonight but I’m looking forward to what I might have. It’s been a long day today.

And a Sunday too!

bain des manchot or penguin or some such donville les bains granville manche normandy france
bain des manchot or penguin or some such donville les bains granville manche normandy france

bain des manchot or penguin or some such donville les bains granville manche normandy france
bain des manchot or penguin or some such donville les bains granville manche normandy france

bain des manchot or penguin or some such donville les bains granville manche normandy france
bain des manchot or penguin or some such donville les bains granville manche normandy france

Saturday 21st December 2019 – JUST LIKE OLD TIMES!

Yes, eating my evening meal at … errr … 00:15. Brings back many happy (and not-so-happy) memories of times gone by, that does.

And I bet that you’ve been hovering on the edge of your seat wondering why this has been the case ever since you saw the original posting on Saturday night. Well, I can now tell you.

Although I ought to set the stage (if you pardon the expression) first.

Despite having a really late night last night I still had to make an effort to be up early as it was going to be a busy day.I somehow missed the second alarm yet again and the next thing that I remember it was 06:24. And it still took a few more minutes before I could haul myself up out of bed.

With the usual routine of medication and then breakfast once the medication works, I took an early trip to the shops. Just LeClerc where I was waiting at the door with about 50 other people for 10 minutes until opening time.

With being one of the first in, I was one of the first out too. Not that I bought a great deal of stuff but it still came to €33. Endives and leeks included, and Caliburn smelt lovely inside.

After LeClerc I went up the road. A shop that closed down about a year ago has been taken over by a company called Action. It’s rather like Noz but a lot more organised and a lot more stuff that is useful. I came away with some stuff such as a headphone splitter, a jack plug adapter, some photo printing paper and a 4-way USB connector for Strider.

Next door was a shop called Bureau Vallée that sells office supplies. They had some cheap USB memory sticks that had a capacity of 2GB. A lot of my old electrical equipment such as the hi-fi and Caliburn’s stereo is old-generation stuff with a maximum reading capacity of 999 files, so a 2GB memory stick is ideal for those. And I’ve almost run out.

Back at the apartment I put the frozen food in the freezer (having made some room of course because it’s still pretty full in there) and then went back out.

le bouquet granvillais cabaret flottant archipel granville manche normandy franceAs regular readers of this rubbish will probably have gathered, I’ve gone back to work.

Back into the media in fact, working for a local radio station called le Bouquet Granvillais. I’m photographer, English-French (and vice versa, and if there’s any vice going about, then in the words of the late, great Bob Doney “I’m your man”) translator, and check out the programme “A La Pointe Du Rock” and see if you recognise the voice.

It’s a new radio station, started in June this year, and tonight we are doing our first live outside broadcast. At the moment, the guys are stringing up the banner above our sound console while the others are plugging everything in.

le bouquet granvillais cabaret flottant archipel granville manche normandy franceIn order to move about freely inside the venue we are to be issued with badges, so I had to go down to collect mine, although I was rather thinking of Walter Huston and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and “Badges? We don’t need no stinking badges!”, although it will come as a surprise to many to know that they didn’t actually say that in the film

And while I was at the Archipel, I stuck my head in through the door to see what was going on because I’d heard the music.

Nothing to get excited about quite yet, but it gives me an idea of what will be going on there this evening.

Now in the possession of a badge for entry into the Archipel tonight, I set off home. And stumbled immdiately across some more pathetic parking – the bane of these pages as regular raders of this rubbish will recall. And this time it’s a pearler too!

bad parking rue georges clemenceau granville manche normandy franceRemember the other day when we had that motorist parked half-on the pavement and another one a day or two earlier with the motorist stuck any old how across the street – and on a service bus route too?

Well this guy here hasn’t chosen just to park at random half on the pavement and half in the road to block a service bus route, he’s actually parked on the bus stop itself. And you can clearly see the markings on the road right where he’s parked.

Maybe he should have strapped his guide dog to the roof. That would have told him that he isn’t allowed to park there. But it really annoys me, the lack of courtesy and consideration that some of these motorists have for others. As long as he and his passengers don’t have to walk anywhere more then 20 feet, the rest of the world can go hang itself.

joly france ile de chausey port de granville harbour manche normandy franceA little higher up the hill in the rue des Juifs I came to another halt.

The weather is actually pretty windy and miserable today, but that’s not stopped the timetable for the ferries from running as normal. Here’s Joly France battling the elements as she sets out from her berth at the maritime terminal on her way to do her run to the Ile de Chausey.

She’s not exactly overloaded with passengers today as you can see, but she does have a timetable to keep to and that will oblige her to sail.

Back here, I put away some of the shopping (but not all of it by any means) and then made myself some lunch. That was followed by a session sorting my equipment out. I’m officially the photographer and outside-broadcast techie so as well as the usual equipment that I need like the Nikon D500 and so on, there’s also the telephone, the dictaphone, the microphone and some headphones.

It’s pretty basic, my outside broadcasting unit, but the thing is that it’s not complicated to operate and it works. Keep it Simple!

place cambernon la descente de pere noel de granville decembre 2019 manche normandy franceOur first port of call was at the place Cambernon.

Father Christmas was due to arrive here at 16:30, although it was more like 16:45 when his sledge pulled into the square – pulled by a Kubota tractor.
“Where are the reindeer? we asked”
“I’ve given them the night off” said Père Noël. “They are going to be really busy on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning so I don’t want to be working them too hard right now.”

So now you know.

place cambernon la descente de pere noel de granville decembre 2019 manche normandy franceSo at the place Cambernon, we had first of all the arrival of the Fanfare, or local jazz band. Every town or village in France has its own fanfare and we’ve encountered a few of them in the past.

Santa also had a full complement of elves too. They quickly clambered aboard the sleigh and took their places, to the accompaniment of music from the fanfare and once everyone was ready, the sleigh set off for Santa’s grotto in the town, with the crowds of people following on behind.

Having done a quick estmation, I made it something like 150 or so people of all ages up here

rue des juifs la descente de pere noel de granville decembre 2019 manche normandy franceThe route down to Santa’s grotto took us down the rue des Juifs, and the wrong way too.

But it wasn’t a problem because the farces of law and order at the bottom of the hill were blocking off the traffic to give us an opportunity to come down the hill en masse.

That’s what I like about France. It’s all delightfully informal. None of this Health and Safety and road closure notices and the like. People just make up the rules as they go along.

place generale de gaulle la descente de pere noel de granville decembre 2019 manche normandy franceDown the rue Paul Poirier we went; again against the flow of traffic in the one-way street. But once again the local coppers did the business and held up the traffic to allow us to pass.

The cortège turned into the place Générale de Gaulle – once again against the flow of traffic, and then headed over to the famous ski slope where he and his elves alighted.

Laurent and I had been given a voucher for a hot alcoholic drink at the little hut here, so Laurent went off for his while I wandered around.

fanfare place general de gaulle la descente de pere noel de granville decembre 2019 manche normandy franceThe fanfare found themselves a good spec on the edge of the ski slope and entertained us for a while.

As for me, I found Father Christmas sitting around with a bunch of kids being photographed by their parents sitting on his knee, so at a suitable pause in the proceedings Laurent and I grabbed hold of him and interviewed him for our radio show, and took the opportunity to interview a little girl called Océane who was waiting her turn to sit on his knee.

I’m really glad that I had the dictaphone and microphone with me.

Having made sure that the recording had worked fine, I took it over to the Archipel. One or two of the artistes tonight don’t want their shows recording so we have some time to fill in. We’ll be doing some artistes’ interviews with the more obliging ones, broadcasting some music too, but an interview with Father Christmas will go down quite well too.

le bouquet granvillais cabaret flottant archipel granville manche normandy franceBy now though, proceedingsw ere well on their way and things were hotting up.

At a suitable pause in the recording due to the instransigence of a couple of artistes, we began to interview the rest of the performers. Elizabeth and Xavier took on this reponsibility and I was invited to take photos of them for the radio’s own website.

We may as well try to look as professional as we can and a pile of good photos always helps in this respect.

le bouquet granvillais cabaret flottant archipel granville manche normandy franceAnd talking of good photos, photography is an absolute pleasure when you have subjects who co-operate fully and completely with their photographer.

Unfortunately I can’t remember her name – in fact I don’t even know if I knew it – but hopefully someone can help me out in this respect. See the “Contact Me” box in the lower right-hand corner of your screen.

But whoever you are, take a bow.

le bouquet granvillais cabaret flottant archipel granville manche normandy franceWe had an interval at half-time and I tok the opportunity to see what was going on.

Earlier in the day I’d witnessed a sound check between a couple of musicians, a bassist and a pianist, and they had played a performance before the start of the concert while everyone was taking their seats, and again at the half-time interval.

Although their music wasn’t quite my style, I enjoyed listening to it and they were really quite good at what they did.

All in all, we were there recording until the final whistle at 23:00 and then of course it took an age to tidy up and pack everything away. I ended up being back at the apartment just before midnight having gone the long way round to make sure that I arrived at my 100% and then made myself a plate of pasta and vegetables tossed in garlic, olive oil, tarragon and vegan cheese.

Yes, eating my evening meal at 00:15 – brings back many happy memories of a previous life.

But now I’m off to bed. And a good lie-in, I hope, because I’m whacked. See you in the morning.

Saturday 19th December 2015 – MY PEACEFUL CONVALESCENCE …

…may well be over now – and for two reasons too.

Firstly, we have now been invaded by two children – Dylan aged 7 and Robyn aged 4. I suspect that that will be the end of lie-ins (not that 07:45 is a lie-in by my standards but it certainly is for children of that age who are excited by visiting their grandparents and the imminent arrival of Father Christmas) and the start of things like “read me a story” and all of that kind of thing.

Secondly, and much more importantly though, my blood test results came today. And my blood count has gone down – in the space of 72 hours, from 9.1 (which is already a good deal lower than the 13 that is the usually-accepted minimum) to 8.1. If the blood test that I will be having on Monday morning shows a similar decline, I suspect that I will be back in hospital by Tuesday morning.

This was confirmed by the District Nurse who came by this evening to give me my anti-coagulant injection. He took my pulse and the pulse-rate has gone up. With the diminished blood count, my heart is having to pump the blood around faster to keep up the same supply of oxygen, and this can create problems of its own.

Up in the attic last night, it took me ages to go off to sleep. In fact, I was still awake at 02:00 despite my very early night. But once I’d gone off to sleep I was right away with the fairies until the alarm went off at 07:45. Totally painless.

During the morning there were chores to do and while I wasn’t up to doing much in the way of heavy work, I did what I could. And after lunch, while Liz went off to the airport at Limoges to pick up her daughter and family, I went out – the first time for a couple of days.

There was a pile of stuff to take to the recycling, and for that there’s a little recycling point on the outskirts of Les Ancizes where there are a few of these containers. Everything went in there, and then I was off to the supermarket. Surprisingly, considering that it’s the last Saturday before Christmas, there weren’t very many people about. I was expecting the place to be heaving, but apparently not. father Christmas was wandering around looking totally lost, with no children around to entertain him.

I bought most of the things that I was asked to do but despite visiting a couple of supermarkets, one or two things eluded me. But what I did do was to find a nice quiet spec in the sun (because, at 18.3°C at 16:00 in the afternoon, it really was glorious) and read a book for a while.

Back at the ranch, it was pizza for tea. Everyone was to have pre-bought pizzas but Liz had bought me a pizza base so I made my own. Tomato sauce (Bane of Britain forgot the herbs, of course), onions, fresh garlic, mushrooms and grated cheese and it really was beautiful too. I couldn’t manage it all, so guess what I’m going to be having for Sunday lunch?

And after that, Liz returned with her family at 19:15 and all mayhem was let loose. I managed to stay awake until about 22:00 and then I went off to my attic. It’s been a long day, a short night last night and I need to be on top of my form. I’ve no idea what the future holds for me but I don’t think that it’s going to be so good.