Tag Archives: fire

Friday 18th March 2022 – AFTER ALL …

filming at civic rooms place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022… the excitement of yesterday, there’s been even more today.

Unfortunately not quite of the same calibre, but nevertheless it beats the monotony. Especially when they lay down a red carpet at the Communal Rooms at the back of my apartment and set up a film camera to film whatever was going to make use of it.

Whatever or whoever it was, though, I’m not able to say. I had to go out to the Post Office before it closed and so I missed it.

If we’re lucky, there will be something in the newspapers tomorrow, but I’m not all that hopeful. There wasn’t a word about what the Dassault Falcon was doing yesterday.

fire brigade rue des juifs burnt out house rue du midi Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022At that wasn’t everything either.

This afternoon it looked as if it was the local Fire Brigade’s annual outing. There they were, complete with vehicles, standing around and chatting, looking up at the ruins of the houses that were devastated in the fire.

While we’re on the subject of “devastated” … “well, one of us is” – ed … I was pretty devastated this morning.

It ended up being a much later night than I was expecting or hoping, and when the alarm went off at 07:30 I switched it off and … err .. went back to sleep. But it wasn’t as bad as yesterday. I managed to make it out of bed a good few minutes before the second alarm.

Not all that much on the dictaphone through the night either. I must have had something of a decent sleep. I was out somewhere last night on the road that runs between Newcastle and Shrewsbury. I don’t know where I’d been but I ended up down some kind of side road somewhere. I stopped and I’d had a piece of cake and a coffee, standing in the middle of this farm track drinking it and eating the cake while the farmer was driving around in his tractor somewhere. Something had gone wrong but I can’t remember what it was. I looked at the time and I thought “God! I only have 20 minutes to get to work!”. I thought that I’d never reach work on time at all from here because I’m on foot. I put down my mug and plate down in the middle of this track and walked down to the main road thinking that I’d hitch a lift. I walked back towards the road junction that would take me to Crewe which was 4 miles away. First of all a bunch of school kids went past, then an old Austin A40 Somerset followed by an old BMC lorry. I then found myself in this village As I walked through this village I thought that I’d never seen such a village. I didn’t know that there was a village like this on this road and I know it so well. By now I was in Caliburn and. There was some road work in the town centre. Everything was being dug up. There were rocks being cut up with a disc cutter. They were even dynamiting small small rocks. I was just driving over everything, machinery, the lot in Caliburn. Some guy was even putting his feet against the glass windows to stop them vibrating when the dynamite went off.. There was this really sharp U-bend by an expensive estate agent’s. I thought that things were becoming really bad. Some woman went past and said “you’re going to be terribly late for work. It’s 2 days running for me that I’ve had to call in with car problems”. I was back in Caliburn again and came across an auto-electrician. I drove into his workshop. I had to straighten a carpet. A guy came over so I asked him to go to listen to the starter while I turned the engine so he could see if there was a problem with the starter.

Later on I was out near Tarporley in a small village … “Tiverton;” – ed. I bumped into a girl whom I knew but I can’t remember who she was. She had curly ginger hair and I don’t know a girl like that in real life. She was telling me about a family whom I knew who lived by the traffic lights at the Rising Sun. She was saying that they’d all cashed in their chips, sold up and moved on. I asked if she knew where they had gone. She told me of a couple of them but there was one whom she didn’t know. She mentioned his name and I knew the name. He’d gone to Toronto. She said “yes, I remember now. He’s bought a racehorse”. I looked surprised and asked “what’s he doing with a racehorse?”. She didn’t actually know. In the end she said something like “if you’re going to take a chance on buying an unknown racehorse for £1:00 or something you’d buy it from a member of your own family rather than from a complete stranger” but she couldn’t see the purpose of this racehorse. I asked her if it was identical to any others that he owned because there’s always the old “run a slower identical horse in a few races to build up a bad reputation then switch the real one in for an important race once the other one has a bad name”. She said “no, it’s not at all like (she mentioned the name of another horse)” so I thought that perhaps it might be an identical horse or something where in this case this one might be slower. I was about to ask her the question when the alarm went off.

After the medication and transcribing the dictaphone notes, I spent most of the rest of the morning working on the photos from the High Arctic in August 2019. We’re now back on board THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR after our little walk around Qikiqtarjuaq.

That was where Dennis Minty and I bumped into a local Royal Canadian Mounted Police “Mountie” who gave us a lift in his pickup up to the top of a mountain on the island where we took some superb photos which you will see in due course.

After lunch I had a letter to write. It’s the reply to one that’s been hanging around here for quite a few months and someone somewhere is probably wondering if I’ve died.

“Snail mail” has all but died out for personal purposes but I still have the odd (and I use the term advisedly) technophobe friend who writes letters. Unfortunately, just like me, she has had a hand injury and so I have a great deal of difficulty reading her writing just like people have difficulty in reading mine, and it’s not easy to decipher it.

But anyway, it was eventually ready and in a mad fit of enthusiasm which has sprung up from heaven alone knows where, I actually set off to post it.

joly france ferry terminal port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022As usual, I stopped at the corner of the Boulevard Vaufleury and the Boulevard des 2E et 202E de Ligne to check the camera and see what was happening down below.

As you can see, the tide is right out at the moment. It’ll be a while before it’s back in today. But there doesn’t seem to be anyone taking advantage of it and going for a bit of the peche à pied.

And if there’s anything going on at the Ile de Chausey this afternoon, they aren’t doing it aboard the Joly France ferries.

There’s one moored up over there at the ferry terminal in the NAABSA (Not Always Afloat But Safely Aground) position, and the other two are moored up in the inner harbour along with Chausiaise

charles marie port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022As well as the Ile de Chausey boats in the inner harbour, there’s plenty of other stuff too.

One of the boats here is Charles Marie. We’ve been keeping an eye on her over the last couple of weeks while she was being serviced in the chantier naval but now she must be ready for the sea.

There was a trawler parked in the chantier naval where she was, but I couldn’t see who she was. I’ll go for a wander out that way tomorrow and find out more about her.

And by the looks of things, La Granvillaise wasn’t there either. She must have gone back into the water but she isn’t around in the harbour so I wonder where she’s gone.

There are tons of the containers in which they stack the sacks of shellfish over there on the quayside. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen so many.

road works abandoned railway line Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022Dodging the pompiers who were having their meeting on the pavement, I carried on down the hill to the viewpoint overlooking the inner harbour.

The freight was still there but what caught my eye was the lorry and the digger over there on the track of the old abandoned railway.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that the other day we saw them working on the far end of that track in the town centre. They seem to have made rapid progress.

Down in the town I made rapid progress to the Post Office to post my letter. And then I went off to the Credit Agricole. I’ve received a cheque in respect of my Belgian State Pension but I dont now why. Anyway it has to be paid in to my account.

Now what can I do with €60:45? Spend! Spend! Spend! I suppose.

road works abandoned railway line Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022Walking back into the town centre on my way home I had a quick peek down where the old abandoned railway ran to see how they were doing.

And by the looks of things, they don’t seem to be doing a great deal. They have a compactor down there (which was more than they had on the 1800 miles of the TRANS LABRADOR HIGHWAY IN 2010 but the road surface doesn’t look much different than it did before they started.

And I’m half-expecting one of those boys to end up like an Austin Powers henchman if he isn’t careful. I suppose that the other boy there would refer to his friend as his “flatmate”.

I’ll get my coat.

So having dome my tasks for the day I set off up the hill for home, feeling rather pleased that I’d actually finished a couple of tasks.

Maybe it is these pills that are giving me energy, I dunno, but sometimes I really think that they could give you absolutely anything, tell you what the imaginary effects will be, and then you psyche yourself up to believe them.

kite surfers people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022Before I went back inside I went to see what was happening down on the beach outside my building.

Today was a really glorious May day today, really warm, but with a strong wind. And so while there were no Nazguls about, there were a couple of people down there kitesurfing. And having a really good time doing it by the looks of things.

Plenty of people walking around on the beach too having a good time. I don’t know where they have all come from.

One of my neighbours was outside the building too, soaking up the rays. he and I had a good chat before I came in for a coffee.

Later on, I had another session on the guitar. I seem to have rekindled my enthusiasm, having done very little since I fell into this depression several months ago. I quite enjoyed it too, although i’m dismayed at how much of my technique I’ve lost.

Tea was a quick falafel from out of the freezer with pasta and veg because there was football on the internet. Y Bala v Penybont in the first of the Welsh Cup Semi-finals.

And for a match then ended 0-0, this was probably one of the best and most exciting that I’ve seen in a long while. Both teams have star players but they managed to checkmate each other at every turn as the game roared from end to end for the whole 90 minutes. It’s a shame that there aren’t more games like this.

So bedtime now. I’m shopping tomorrow and then I’m going to try to do some exciting stuff. What, I’m not quite sure yet.

Who knows? I might do something wild, like take more rubbish out to the bins.

Monday 14th March 2022 – THERE HAS BEEN …

burnt out house rue du midi Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022… some rather bad news about the fire in the house in the Rue du Midi on Saturday evening.

Yesterday evening, the firemen finally worked their way through the rubble to the ground floor where they found the missing person. And as you might expect, they found him far too late to be of any use.

It’s a rather sombre note on which to start today’s journal entry, but I suppose that there are times when sombre notes will creep in to everything at some time or other. There but for the grace of God go we.

Wherever I went on my travels last night is something else completely. For the first time since I don’t know when, one of my young ladies put in an appearance – Zero, as it happens.

And do you know what? I can’t remember why she was there or what we did.

How disappointing is that?

Anyway, I’m sure that you are all dying to know about where I went last night

I started off at a well-known square in Paris – I can’t remember which one – and it had some kind of weird fence and turnstile arrangements to control the flow of pedestrians but that’s all that I remember about this.

And later I was with Zero , for the first time for years, and her father last night and I can’t remember very much of what it actually involved (and isn’t that a disaster?) with them, but it led to me thinking about going to buy a motorbike so maybe I could take Zero around on the back of it. I went into a shop in Hungerford Road Crewe that used to be an old Co-op but was now selling motorbikes. They had a couple of Kawasaki 414 bikes in there for sale but they were more expensive than I was planning to pay although they looked quite nice. I thought that maybe something like that would be quite interesting. I had a good look around their shop but they didn’t really have very much at all. They had a few cars outside of course but it was the motorbikes that were interesting me more because I could go into Stoke on Trent on a motorbike, leave it to be serviced, overhauled and MoT’d while I was at work during the day, that kind of thing and probably Zero would enjoy going for a ride around on the back of a motorbike every now and again but there was nothing there that I liked.

There was something else as well. I was leaving work so I wandered off down the maze of corridors following the yellow arrows and yellow tape as I usually did. At one point I took a turn and found that the yellow arrow didn’t actually go that way which surprised me because I was pretty sure that it was the route that I took all the time I went back and followed the yellow arrow and suddenly found myself in a completely different security room. There was no way out. There were all kinds of security guys in there doing things. In the end I turned round and found another door that took me out. I could see that I was in a completely different place outside than where I would normally be when I was leaving the building. There were a few other people whom I knew around there as well so I went over for a chat and told them about the changes. They couldn’t understand what was happening either. Some girl came along and joined in. She was saying that she was now one of those people whose salary was a secret but she didn’t agree with that because it creates distrust amongst all the other employees. Someone else turned up with 3 daughters. She was talking to 2 daughters about giving their names to someone else and preparing for Christmas but for one daughter it was too late that they didn’t have any of what it was they didn’t have. They didn’t say. Then a couple of others turned up. One of them had had a dramatic cut in the salary that he was receiving as a Life Insurance broker so he was trying to chivvy up all of his friends and contacts to do something about increasing their insurance cover so he could receive a higher commission to offset his decrease in salary.

In fact, all told it was rather a bad night, and for many reasons too. I was tossing and turning around in bed for much of it and that’s guaranteed to set me off on the wrong foot.

When the alarm went off at 06:00 it was a struggle to leave the bed but I did manage – only just – to leave the bed before the second alarm.

The radio programme was the task for this morning and despite a couple of breaks for coffee, breakfast and so on, by 10:45 it was finished. And in a major departure from usual procedure, I’ve reused a song that I first used 18 months ago, simply for the reason that it seemed to fit so well with what I was doing.

“I have been around the world looking for that woman-girl who knows love can endure. And it always will”. And in my case, it endured for all of three days, didn’t it?

There were several phone calls – some of them long-distance – that I had to make and that took me all the way up to lunchtime. And the net result of all of those phone calls was … errr … nothing.

After lunch I had a shower, set the washing machine off on its cycle (a clever washing machine, mine) and then went out for my physiotherapy session.

chant de sirenes joly france belle france port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022Of course, the first port of call when I’m on my way to town is to check the camera at the corner of the Boulevard Vaufleury and the Boulevard des 2E et 202E de Ligne where the viewpoint overlooks the Fish Processing Plant.

The tide is on its way in right now – not far enough for the gates to open to let the larger boats into the inner harbour, but far enough for the boats with a lighter draught to pull up at the quay here to unload.

The Chante des Sirènes is easily identifiable with its mermaid painted on the side in a kind of green stripe.

Moored up at the ferry terminal in the background are Belle France and one of the Joly France boats.

repairing roof rue lecampion Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022Down in the town I walked along the Rue Lecampion towards the centre.

There’s something going on with the roof of one of the houses here. There’s a cherry-picker and a couple of guys doing something with the roof and a scaffolding.

Leaving them to it, I wandered off up the road and to the physiotherapist. And I don’t know why, but I haven’t climbed up the Rue Couraye as easily as I did this afternoon for quite a long time.

The physiotherapist had me on the couch and massaged my knee with her machine, and then had me doing some exercises.

And to my surprise, it was my left knee, not my right knee, that was hurting by the time that I had finished.

On my way home I called in at the Carrefour to buy something to drink. I had a thirst that you could photograph.

cable laying rue lecampion Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022In the town centre we had some more excitement.

There were some guys laying a cable in the duct under the street. The had the manhole cover up and had surrounded the hole with cones. And so an elderly woman in a black car drove over the cover and almost ended up in the hole.

And then she had the nerve to bawl out the crew. Some people really are unbelievable. I shan’t repeat on here what the crew replied to the woman. My journal is intended for all of the family, not just the over-18s.

place general de gaulle Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022Another thing that noticed was that the kiddies’ roundabout has now gone.

The carnival season is now over here and all of the fairground rides have packed up and gone off to their next engagement wherever that might be and we’ll be back with peace and quiet again until Easter when there will be more crowds descending on the town.

Bringing more cases of the virus with them, no doubt. This kind of thing really depresses me, especially as I don’t have the means to fight it.

fire engines rue paul poirier Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022When I was up in the Rue des Juifs on my way into town the fire brigade was still there clearing up.

While I was in the town centre, they came through presumably on their way back to base. And it was extremely interesting watching them trying their best to negotiate the hole in the road.

And once they had gone, it was the turn of the school buses and that was even more interesting. The manhole covers and several cones took a right battering and there was what can best be described as “a frank exchange of views” between the drivers and the cabling crew.

repair facade rue georges clemenceau Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022While all of that was going on, I left them to it and wandered off down the Rue Paul Poirier.

The other day we saw them with a scaffolding outside one of the buildings in the Rue Georges Clemenceau and it had been intriguing me as to what they might be doing.

When I’d seen the carpenter’s van outside, I imagined that it might have been a roofing job but it actually looks as if they are working on the facade of the building. It could do with a good rendering and a new coat of paint.

ch933900 carteret port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022In the earlier photo of the boats in the harbour, I don’t know if you noticed a fishing boat that we haven’t seen before.

She was moored in the inner harbour with her crew working on the nets when I came back, and I could see her registration number from here.

It’s CH933900 – a number from this coast – and it’s so new that it’s not in the register that I have. But I was able to track her down from “other sources” and she’s called Carteret. She sails out of … errr … Barneville-Carteret.

She’s only 9 months old apparently and was built to replace a previous boat that was destroyed in a fire.

burnt out house rue du midi Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022On the way back, I could have a closer look at the burnt-out house now that the fire engines and the crowds have gone.

It’s not just the house and the one to the right of it that have been affected, the one to the left has been badly-affected too. You can see that much of the roof there has been burnt away too.

This is an appalling thing to have happened. Apart from the loss of life which is a tragedy, the loss and damage is considerable and there are many people in these three houses who have been badly affected.

beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022Before I went home, I went to look at the beach to see what was happening.

The tide is now well in and there’s not much beach down there to be on. It’s no surprise that I couldn’t see anyone wandering about.

As I was looking down there, one of my neighbours pulled up in her car. She’s had some bad news from her doctor about her health and she told me all about it. Of course I sympathised, but there isn’t much that I could do.

Back here I made a coffee, hung out the washing and then came here to spend an hour on the photos from the High Arctic in 2019.

Talking about that, it made me all nostalgic and it reminded me of a poem about which Alison and I had chatted the other day

“Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?


That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again. “

Poetry at school was mainly awful with all of these depressing war poets and all of that. The only bright spark amongst all of that which we learnt was A E Housman and “A Shropshire Lad” is one of my favourite works.

Had I been born 5 miles away from my actual place of birth, I would have been a Shropshire Lad myself.

But seriously, when Housman said “The happy highways where I went and cannot come again. “, I don’t think that he had Covid and World War in mind. We won’t be going anywhere for a while yet.

In another mad fit of excitement I took out about half a ton of paper to the waste bin and then spent half an hour playing guitar. The first time that I enjoyed myself with the guitar since the summer. These pills must be working somehow.

Tea was a curry of leftovers and then I had to fight the good fight on the Internet. A discussion group of which I’m a member has become a very contentious place since War broke out and the Moderator was overwhelmed. She called for another volunteer and so I responded.

And tonight I’ve been dealing with a flame war – just like the “Good Old Days” on “First Class” – pulling warring factions apart, sending a couple of people to the naughty corner and … errr … “saying goodbye” to a couple of them. I’m surprised that I had time to write up my notes.

But now that they are done, much later than usual, I’m off to bed. I’ve a Welsh lesson tomorrow and I need to be on form.

Sunday 13th March 2022 – GONE!

la bavolette 2 philcathane chausiaise joly france port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022And never called me “Mother”!

A short while ago I mentioned that I expected Marité to put to sea quite soon to find a port with some heavy lifting tackle that could lift her out of the water so that she could be examined for her passenger-carrying licence.

And so here she isn’t. In actual fact, according to my marine radar, she’s in Cherbourg. And that’s a new departure for her. usually she goes around to somewhere around the southern coast of Brittany

Instead, you’ll have to make do with views of La Bavolette II, Philcathane, Chausiaise and Joly France.

burnt out house rue du midi Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022Something else that has gone, and which is no laughing matter, is one of the houses in the Rue du Midi.

Yesterday evening it caught fire and it has been totally destroyed. There has also been considerable damage to the adjoining houses too and the situation just there isn’t at all healthy.

The smell of burning is appalling and my hat goes off to the fire crews who were still in attendance this afternoon clearing away the debris. All of the roads in the area are blocked off right now.

There is talk that one of the inhabitants of one of the houses is missing and I don’t know how the situation has developed since I last heard anything.

Last night, I was in bed round about midnight and finally staggered out of bed at 10:45. Not that it was a good night’s sleep either because I was off on a considerable amount of travels during the night.

burnt out house rue du midi Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022While you look at a couple more photos of the disaster, I’ll tell you where I went.

I started off picking a team at football for a primary school football match. It turned out to be extremely one-sided with one team winning 6-1. I took some good photos of a couple of the goals and wrote a little piece about it for the local newspaper. The team that had won had a couple of boys in it wo were only 10 as well instead of the usual 11 years old of a primary school football team but even so they were still far too good for the other team that was playing

And then there was a meeting going on at my place discussing photos. It had to take place on the quiet although I don’t know why. I didn’t want anyone to know exactly what was happening about it so everyone was being extremely discreet. In the middle 2 men walked in. They went round to the head of the bed and leant on it. They asked “where’s your car?”. I replied “you’re leaning on it” because it was parked right at the back of the head of the bed. They had a quick look round and there it was. They wanted to know where I’d been, who I’d seen and who I’d met. Of course I could only give them examples of one or two days because I’d been away. I was trying to think who it was that I was supposed to have met and why. I tried to make them give me at least a clue but they wouldn’t at all. I was completely flummoxed. I didn’t want them to know about these photos that we were discussing and I just couldn’t think of what could possibly be of any interest to them with the 3 or 4 people who might have been round at my house over the last week when I’ve been here and not in Leuven.

There were some people wandering around the building, a couple probably in their 50s. They were having a look round and suddenly they stuck their head through my window in my apartment. I walked up to them and said “you don’t look through the window of someone else’s apartment” so they blushed and stammered. They started to ask me a few questions about the apartment. They seemed to be nice people so I invited them in and while I was working at whatever it was that I was doing , just then Tuppence came into the living room and to my surprise she allowed herself to be picked up and stroked. Then Sweep (Tuppence was my cat from years ago and Sweep was one of the kittens that Nerina and I had) came in and the woman did the same to her, picked her up and started to stroke her so I said “it looks as if you are stopping here”. They asked about the empty flat and had another look around mine. I gave them certain information but didn’t mention the price because that’s a personal thing

fire engine rue des juifs Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022I started off interviewing Brian Jones for the radio. He turned out to be someone whom I liked very much. I admired his sense of humour, his wit and his outlook on life after leaving the Stones. Eventually I became his driver and we became a very good team together. Gradually he evolved into Stuart Jones … “do you mean Mick Jones?” – ed … of The Clash – I can’t remember who exactly. he was talking about all of the solo concerts that he was doing etc. he was someone who was very simple and straightforward and would play gigs with just a couple of people at small venues – he didn’t need to make a name for himself. He played at a Clash reunion and burst into tears at the end after playing a couple of solo songs of the Clash. Then there was a story about a song that he had heard. Someone sent him a song to hear. After he went home I went round to a museum where I knew someone who was working who knew about this song. Instead I ended up in an aero engine place and I asked about a certain type of aero engine. When I mentioned a German name they said that I couldn’t see it because it was under development, which surprised me so I went back again and asked for this German guy. They couldn’t find him so I went into the engine secretary. They told me that I was out somewhere in the vicinity but I couldn’t get to see him. I tried to find out where so that I could follow him round but I couldn’t manage to do it.

And then I was in a remake of that British comedy film that had McDonald Hobley in it and there was an Indian or an Arab. It was the one with the magic carpet in it and was out in the British Empire in India or Africa with Spike Milligan and Jim Dale and a few other people. It was a surreal film with the idea of people going back to their regiment to spy on the situation and development in the Middle East somewhere. It was all extremely surreal and someone who was excluded from the meeting tried to sneak in but was set on by people with scimitars and all that kind of thing. In the middle of the meeting they all had to stop for tea and because they were British they had to stop for breakfast because it was now breakfast on British hours, all that kind of total surreal comedy type of stuff that took place.

That film started off with the Americans refusing to deal with the British because the British were using substandard Russian scrap steel in their steel fabrication in the Middle East, simply allowing Russian lorries loaded with scrap onto the plant to go straight into the smelter and tip instead of tipping outside the smelter and sorting the stuff so the Americans had no reliance on the metal that the British were producing because of the substandard quality of the scrap. That film was called something like “A Miracle Called Yes” or “A Miracle Called Vest” dated 1964

So in this film there were several of us. There was me, a major, a couple of woman and a young girl had made it so far somewhere in the Straits of Gibraltar where we were holed up in a cave. The young girl seemed to have fallen for the major and this was bound to create problems because the major was drinking and was most unreliable. I had to radio a report so we had to wait there until just before dawn when we’d be picked up and taken away. They sent a boat to pick up the major to take him to the camp where he would be court-martialled. This led to quite a scene between this young girl and the major. I had to order her to stay put while I took him down to get on this boat. I was told that I had to stand by at 04:00 when there would be a radio call to summon us to a meeting by radio. In the meantime we’d have to stay there and make the best of whatever we could until we were sent for. One of the older women who was there was well-aware of the situation and realised what kind of complication all this is going to do and will jeopardise our whole mission just because this major couldn’t keep his hands off the bottle and the women.

And then we were back in the war again last night, defending Nantwich. For some unknown reason the attack was coming from the North. We’d dug in and we had a pile of old anti-tank weapons and were busy shooting up tanks as they came towards us. At one stage ammunition was running low but we managed to find a couple of captured ones and a box of 50 rockets so we were able to equip ourselves and hold out again for another while, brewing up tanks as they came towards us. We thought that there was no reason why we couldn’t hold out for ever here because the infantry was very reluctant to come and engage us while we were busy knocking out all of their tanks

Finally, my mother was looking after the twins again. We had a look and she was receiving almost £160 per week for looking after the 2 of them. It wasn’t easy because there were 2 enforcement notices on them, one on each one. One had killed a man and I don’t know what the enforcement order was for the other. It was extremely difficult and time-consuming to look after them both. Somewhere in this my brother was working in a shop that was having a lot of trouble because someone was off sick. I’d gone in there, wearing 2 pairs of socks so I took off 1 pair. I’d been helping them out and I asked if they needed me to come in tomorrow but they replied that they would be OK. They did ask if I could help them out by paying my brother’s wages for them until they were straight. That would be a good help so I decided that I would go round the next day. I came out of the Co-op which was where the old Ritz Cinema used to be and worked my way down Market Street, out and around the front into Victoria Street where his shop was but I couldn’t remember which door it was that one went into to enter the shop. Later on, I was working on a trailer. He came over to me and said ‘have you ever wondered what the girls do when they are watching us and we aren’t noticing?”. “No” I replied so he started to tell me some kind of story about our youngest sister but he didn’t get very far into it.

After the medication I came back in here and paired up the music for the next radio programme on which I’ll be working. And I do have to say that some of the joins are excellent. And so they should be, given all the practice that I’ve had.

After lunch, I started to transcribe the dictaphone notes and as you can imagine, that took most of the afternoon. Mind you, I did have a pause for half an hour or so while I mixed up some dough for the bread for next week. And it seemed to mix quite nicely too.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022There was the usual pause for my afternoon walk to stretch my legs.

The different perspective of the photo of the beach this afternoon will tell you that instead of going around the headland, I went for a walk around the medieval city walls

There wasn’t very much beach to be on this afternoon. The tide is well in right now but there was still enough beach for someone to take his dogs for a good play around down there.

And there were other people down there too but they were out of shot.

yachts cabin cruiser baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022And as usual, I was having a good look around out at sea this afternoon too.

No big ships out there right now but instead we had a couple of yachts and a cabin cruiser having some kind of danse macabre out there in the Baie de Granville.

Although it was cloudy and overcast, the view was quite good and although you can’t see it in this shot, the island of Jersey was quite clearly visible, although not clear enough to distinguish the individual buildings.

storm ile de chausey baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022“Cloudy and overcast” I said just now.

And there were several storms brewing out at sea. The Ile de Chausey is quite clear this afternoon, but just to the west of it is quite a menacing black storm building up and heading this way. And in actual fact, while I was out a few minutes later, it arrived.

The little cabin cruiser out there in the bay probably received it first before I did, and I bet that the crew knew all about it as well.

And so I cleared off down the path towards the walls.

repointing medieval city wall place du marché aux chevaux Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022As we wander off along the walls we come to the place where for the last few months they have been carrying out repairs.

What with my state of health being as it is, I didn’t feel up like going down to the lower level of the steps. Instead I stopped at the top of the steps to take a photo of what they had done so far.

We can see a little better today than we did the last time that we were here and we can see that they have a considerable way to go before they are going to be finished at this end of the wall. And the two huge cracks are going to take some repairing if they are going to hold up.

repointing medieval city wall place du marché aux chevaux Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022When we were here a few months ago we noticed that they had actually demolished the wall right down to street level.

They have now built it up to the height that it was before and by the looks of things the job that they have done isn’t too bad although at the moment the pointing is somewhat hit-and-miss.

By the pile of stones here they still have some work to do, so it’s going to be interesting to see how it will look here when they have finally finished it off.

And the five tonnes of water in the containers on the scaffolding have done the job of holding the scaffolding down in all of the storms that we have had.

repointing medieval city wall place du marché aux chevaux Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022Here on the outside of the walls, we can see the join where the rebuilt wall meets the repointed wall lower down.

It might not be aesthetically pleasing how they have done it, but it’s a vast improvement on how it was before they started and it might even hold up.

And so I headed off through the arch and down the path underneath the walls to continue on my walk, dodging the piles of cyclists who were disturbing the peace and upsetting all of the pedestrians and who think that the path belongs to them.

people on beach plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022Down at the end of the path here is a viewpoint that overlooks the beach and the promenade at the Plat Gousset.

Surprisingly there weren’t too many people down there this afternoon. Although it was quite cloudy and threatening rain, it was quite warm again for the time of year and no reason at all why people shouldn’t be going for a stroll.

However, as we saw in an earlier photo, they were all in the Rue des Juifs looking up at the burnt-out house on the walls.

On the way back home I passed the guy who takes his cat for a walk and we had a chat, and then I went to inspect the damage for myself.

bicycle shelter place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022Regular readers of this rubbish will recall yesterday that I said that I would take a photo of the bike shed when I see a bicycle in it.

They also know that pathetic parking is a regular feature of these pages, and here we have two for the price of one – a bicycle parked in the bike shed and a car that has decided that it would like to park there too regardless of the fact that the space is presumably reserved for bicycles.

A little earlier, I mentioned about cyclists thinking that they own the place. Well, car owners can have their moments too, can’t they?

Back here, I gave the bread another kneading and put it in its mould. And then rolled out the lump of dough that i’d taken out of the freezer earlier and had now defrosted.

That went into the pizza tray to proof for a while.

vegan pizza home made bread place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022later on, I put the bread dough into the oven and then assembled my pizza ready to bake it when the bread was finished.

And here are the finished results. The bread is baked to perfection by the looks of things and the pizza was one of the best that I have ever made, even though I forgot to put the olives on, as I discovered later.

After I’d eaten the pizza I tidied up and came back in here to finish my notes. Now that they are finished, I’m going to bed shortly. I have an early start in the morning and a radio programme to make.

The nurse should be coming to inject me too and I have my physiotherapy session in the afternoon too. It doesn’t take long for the cycle of activity to start up again.

Tuesday 19th January 2021 – IT’S BEEN …

… another bad start to the morning today.

As you might expect, I missed the third alarm again. When it went off I thought to myself “I’ll just have another quick 5 minutes” and then it was 07:51. And so with my Welsh class due to start and a pile of homework to do, it was rather a mad scramble.

In the time that was available I did what I could (which wasn’t all of it) and then I grabbed some hot chocolate and a slice of my sourdough bread, and we began.

Surprisingly, it was a better lesson today and I quite enjoyed it. I even managed to bluff my way through the missing homework which was quite something, I suppose. But I need to be more disciplined. I keep on saying that I learn to be more self-disciplined – unless I become a Tory MP and pay one of these women in Soho to do it for me.

No time to stop for lunch. I needed a good clean-up and that took up my spare time.

boules petanque place pleville Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThen it was time for me to go for my doctor’s appointment.

But first I have to take a photo of the guys playing boules or petanque or whatever down on the Place Pléville at the foot of the Rampe du Monte Regret. No social distancing, not a facemask in sight, right next door to the Police Station. No wonder the virus is soaring out of control.

Yes, that’s right. We’ve just had a Christmas holiday with tourists arriving from Paris, haven’t we? And cases of Covid in the département have gone up 250%.

Just what is going through the minds of these people? It’s unbelievable.

At the doctors I had one of my two injections. Now that I have no spleen, and hence nothing to vent, I have to have a series of vaccinations every 5 years and the time is up for the renewal.

Just one today, and the next one in two months’ time.

There’s a problem though wit my Covid injection – I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it. I’m a foreigner with a foreign comprehensive medical insurance and so I’m not registered with the Social Services here in France. In Belgium it’s the GPs who do the vaccination apparently but as I’m not registered with a Belgian GP I can’t have it done there.

In France it’s the Social Services who do it. Everyone agrees that I’m a priority case but if the Service doesn’t know about me, there’s nothing that anyone can do. So my doctor rang them up today for a chat. They didn’t know either but they’ll call him back (so they say) and then he’ll call me.

But what he’ll call me, I can only imagine.

Next stop was the Police Station to have my certificat de vie from the Belgian Pensions Service signed to prove that I’m still alive. Not that I’m convinced that I am, but there you go.

There are two police stations in Granville – the Municipal Police and the National Police (and also the Gendarmes but that’s another story). Of course, given a choice of two, I went to the wrong one and so had to go back to the other.

digging up rue st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOn the way home, instead of walking along the top of the cliffs I cut through the Medieval town to see what they were doing in the Rue St Michel.

They are still digging it up and it looks as if they are going to be there for the Duration. But at least you can see all of the strange hieroglyphics and markings on the roadway. I’ve mentioned them a couple of times.

When I arrived home, very late as you might expect, I stopped and finally had my lunch. And the bread that I made the other day really is good too and I’m proud of this loaf.

trawlers english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallIt was so late that by the time that I’d finished it was time for my afternoon walk.

If it had been windy earlier, it was now even winder and I was being blown around by the storm. The other day we saw a fishing boat out in the English Channel having a bit of a fish. Today, it’s still there – at least, I think that it’s the same one

And she has some friends out there with her today. I can see two others fishing not too far away from her. But it’s rare to see them fishing so close to shore. The fishing ban seems to be having an effect and I’ll be interested to see what happens when Normandy Trader tries to unload the shellfish from the Jersey< Fishermen’s Co-operative.br clear=”both”>

fire donville les bains breville sur mer Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallRegular readers of this rubish will recall the huge firt that took place here last year when we were lost in the billowing clouds of smoke.

There always seems to be the odd fire or two of some sort or another taking place, and we have another one today. That’s out behind the Holiday Camp on the way to Breville sur Mer and round about where the airport is.

At least, I think that it’s round by the airport so I hope that there’s nothing serious going on over there. The last thing that we need is an air accident.

sun on sea cliffs ile des rimains brittany coast Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnyway, I pushed on … “he means ‘pushed off’ ” – ed … along the footpath along the cliffs, which was now drying out somewhat in the wind after the heavy rain.

Just a few people around but no-one got in my way this afternoon although a dog took more of an interest in me than I would have liked. But I made it unscathed to the end of the headland to look out across the bay to the Ile des Rimains that was even clearer than it was yesterday.

Unfortunately, the sun is now so high in the sky that it’s not illuminating the water in the bay. And give it a couple of weeks and it won’t even be illuminating the water at all when I go out.

courrier des iles chantier navale port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallYesterday, we saw Courrier des Lies – or some of her at least – up on blocks in the chantier navale.

Today though, we can see much more of her because Joker who was obscuring our view, now seems to have cleared off and gone back into the water. It’s not clear what is being done to her. And, of course, the big yacht is still there. I think she’s put down roots and become a permanent fixture.

It’s not for me to put down roots either. I cleared off too only back home, where I made myself a nice hot coffee and sat down for 5 minutes quietly.

And the next thing that I remembered was that it was 18:15. About 90 minutes or so I was crashed out, I reckon. This is becoming really bad.

Although I managed an hour on the guitars, I was in no fit state to move – hence I had a very late tea of just pasta and veg in a cheese sauce, and I’m going to have a very late night tonight.

One of these days I’ll break out of this vicious circle – but I’ve no idea when that will be. But in the meantime while I ponder on that, I’ll just append the dictaphone notes of my voyages during the night, which I didn’t have the time to transcribe earlier

I was staying with friends and in the apartment building where we were living there was all talk of the supernatural and everything like that. Everyone was panicking because the demons were going to visit the earth – the graveyard or something. They were all going to come down to look for the humans and kill them all off. I suggested that a couple of us went out to confront the demons taking crosses and holy water, things like that, on the grounds that cowering in our attics and rooms, they are going to find us anyway. We’ll be locked in and we won’t have any room to manoeuvre whereas if we are outside we have a chance of taking them by surprise, taking the initiative and with plenty of room to manoeuvre it will take them by surprise and we might be able to actually achieve something. In the end I convinced one person to come with me so I thought that I’d go upstairs and find Marianne’s cross and holy water etc so I went, and found that the door to my apartment was open so I burst in and there was a family sitting there eating a meal. I’d heard that there was a family who had had some accommodation difficulties and had some problems about their kitchen but here they were borrowing mine. There were a couple of cats and dogs running around my apartment and I was most unhappy to say the least, as you can imagine. I started to look for Marianne’s cross and holy water but I couldn’t find them anywhere. Then I realised that Marianne’s cross had been buried with her. We began to run out of time and we needed to be getting off. I wasn’t in the least bit ready for this but it was a case of having to go as you were.

This is another voyage where I awoke and it immediately evaporated. We ended up walking through a town and I suddenly realised that I didn’t have my camera with me. I remembered putting it on the seat of the car and putting my coat over it so that no-one can see it and we walked away, so I couldn’t take any photos. We went for a meal – there was one place open – and had something to eat. Then we came out and walked back to the car and reached a place where there were a couple of old American vehicles. Someone had sculpted the bodywork of one so that it was like a kettle. I went to take a photo and had this horrible feeling that I’d left the camera in the place where we’d had lunch. Of course that place would be closed now. I realised now that I hadn’t brought it with me so we nipped back to the car and I fetched my camera and nipped back to the place where this old American car was. By now about 30 kids had all piled into it and in it and around it. The engine started up and it started to set off. I went to take a photo but once again I couldn’t take a photo – the shutter just wouldn’t let me photograph it.

Later on last night I was in one of these great big coffee places. I ordered a coffee and had a bunch of grapes but I had to hunt to find a table or a sofa to sit on. I found myself a table and sofa and sprawled out on there and realised that I didn’t have my coffee yet. In the meantime the place was filling up rapidly and a family with 2 kids came to sit at the table next to me. I stood up to go and fetch the coffee and reached the island in the centre of the place where all of the coffee was. I had to walk around it and did two laps round but couldn’t see where the coffee was. There were all kinds of different things, teas, chocolate and so on, desserts, ice creams and everything but I just couldn’t find the jugs with the coffee in it.

Saturday 30th May 2020 – I’VE DONE SOMETHING …

… today that I haven’t done for several years.

And not that, either, Rhys.

A few weeks ago I lost my keys down the lining of a pair of trousers that I was wearing and I had the devil’s own job to fish them out.

Today, that same pair of trousers came out of the chest of drawers to wear and so mindful of the situation, I fetched out my big tin of sewing materials, threaded a needle and sewed up the hole in the pocket.

Years since I’ve done any sewing, and even though I say it myself, it wasn’t a bad job. Not what you’ll call a professional job of course, but what do you expect? It did what it was supposed to do.

People have often called me a little sewer and there was the proof today. And for my next trick, I shall be knitting myself a bonnet and gloves for winter, I reckon.

Only downside was that I broke my needle threader. I shall have to find another one because I can’t thread needles by eye.

That’s not all that I broke either. The door shelves in the fridge have seen better days, and when I opened the door the last good one broke and fell off.

It was only a cheap fridge of course and it was bought with the idea that if I buy everything at once, the cheapest possible options, I can have everything at once and gradually replace them bit by bit with expensive stuff.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that the kettle bit the dust a few months ago and was replaced with something better. It’s no big deal, that kind of thing, but I was hoping for rather more than 32 months out of the fridge.

Last night wasn’t as late as some have been just recently, so I was disappointed not to have beaten the third alarm. I only missed it by seconds, but a miss is as good as a mile.

After the medication I listened to the dictaphone to see where I might have been during the night. In fact I was back in Vine Tree Avenue, one of our old houses in Shavington and we’d been having some kind of lengthy discussion about different things. My brother decided that he wanted to go to the bathroom. I wanted to go to the bathroom as well so I nipped out of the living room and he nipped out from upstairs. He came downstairs, got into the bathroom just a foot ahead of me and closed the door. So I made a couple of remarks. My father came out and asked “has something been going on here?” At that moment I was rather in a bad mood so I just told him that I was sick and tired of him, every little thing that happened he’s got to know about it and he’s got to be involved in it and he’s got to be seen to be dealing with the issues, usually when there aren’t any issues to deal with. But he can’t leave things alone and he can’t leave people alone. He’s got to be in there spreading himself around in all of this.

But what took me by surprise in all of this was the vehemence that I heard in the tone of voice in which I dictated that when I heard it back on the dictaphone the following morning.

I was really quite agitated, and quite rightly so. I had to emigrate in order to leave all of the baggage of my past behind me and make a fresh start in a more friendly environment, and I can’t do with it all coming back to catch me up, even in a virtual situation.

After breakfast I finished off the web page that I had been editing – all 51kbs of it, which is clearly too long. But I had a shower, sewed up my trousers (what a little sew-and sew I am) and went to the shops.

Not straight away though. First port of call was the guy who services Caliburn. The guy who did the Controle Technique in November made a few remarks about some rust on Caliburn, and as he’s now officially a teenager (Happy Birthday, Calibutn) he’s going to have his bodywork seen to.

After all, he still runs perfectly well and i’d rather pay €1,000 for some bodywork than €20,000 for a new replacement. I’d asked the guy at the garage if he knew of a carrosserie and he said that there was someone, so I went today to pick up the ‘phone number.

Things were rather confusing at NOZ today. I’m not sure how they did their pricing but nothing that I bought seemed to be at the price that was indicated. Not that I’m complaining, because it was all in my favour.

They had more of those breaded soya fillets so I bought another box.

LeClerc was absolutely heaving – uncomfortably so. And I spent more than I usually would but there were several reasons, not the least being that in the bulk buying section they had quite a few things that I would ordinarily buy but on special offer too for bulk lots and they were the kind of things that keep without problem.

Furthermore, yeast was back on the shelves. So here’s hoping that I have better luck with my baking with yeast with an expiry date of 10/21 than I have had with yeast with an expiry date of 11/18.

Back here I had a coffee and then had a look at the web page that I’d rewritten.

And by the time I came to knock off, I’d

  • split it into three different pages
  • rekindled the links list that I’d stopped updating in about 2010
  • amended all of the relevant links accordingly in all kinds of different pages
  • started to prepare a generic index for the pages

Yes, I’ve been very busy today.

There were the usual breaks of course.

baie de mont st michel seagull speedboat yacht granville manche normandy france eric hallIt was another really stunningly nice day so I took my butties and my book and went to sit on the wall overlooking the harbour.

No lizards today but there was no question of being alone. Apart from the fact that there was a relentless stream of pedestrians going past, there was plenty of action on the water too.

And not only that. While I was taking a photograph of the scenery, I was photo-bombed by a seagull. Serves me right, I suppose.

sunlight reflecting off window brittany coast granville manche normandy france eric hallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that the other day we were talking about heliographs and sunlight flashes across long distances.

The purpose of this photo, which would otherwise be filed under CS, is to show you another flash of sunlight on a window. That’s round by Hirel in Brittany and is about 20-25 miles away as the crow flies.

Hence the poor quality of the photo. After all, you can’t have everything, can you?

baie de mont st michel st pair sur mer port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallAnd so, in the glorious afternoon sunshine, I was out there for a good 45 minutes, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

There was certainly plenty to see out there today. Including Chausiais, who seems to have put down roots in that rather ad-hoc mooring position over there at right angles to the ferry terminal.

However, there wasn’t much time for me to enjoy it as I had planty of of other things to do, like completing the editing of the (now) three web pages that I had prepared.

Another break was for football. In 2008 the current broadcasting company won the rights to broadcast the live football matches in the Welsh Premier League.

Today they were showing the very first match that they broadcast, Rhyl v Llanelli. Rhyl’s ground has always been an excellent one, but the standard of football was surprisingly good for 2008. Real throbbing end-to-end stuff and I was exhausted just watching it.

Rhyl won the match 5-1 which suggests a right spannering, but although the best team won, Llanelli can feel quite rightly hard done-to by the result. There was never four goals difference between the teams.

Mind you, I did … errr … miss a couple of minutes of the match.

woman on surfboard plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallThe football meant that I was very late going for my afternoon walk.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall seeing yesterday how clear the sea was. And it was just the same today. When I saw from a distance this woman standing on her surfboard, it looked as if the surfboard was hovering above the ground. You couldn’t see the sea at all, it was so clear.

And I know that there’s a name for that sport that she is practising. I just can’t think what it is.

crowds on beach plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallWhile it was fairly quiet at the top end of the beach round by the steps at the Rue du Nord, it was absolutely heaving at the Plat Gousset.

Only a few people “installing themselves” on the beach (in defiance of regulations until Tuesday) but the water is fair game to everyone and there were hordes of people taking full advantage of it.

And who can blame them? Given half a chance I’d be in there too. Only up to my knees of course, but nevertheless …

crowds on beach holiday camp donville les bains breville sur mer granville manche normandy france eric hallIt wasn’t just in the water and on the beach at that Plat Gousset that the madding crowds were congregating.

Down the coast at Donville-les-Bains and round at the camp-site near Breville-sur-Mer they were all out there too.

That’s actually quite a nice beach and I’ve had my butties on there a few tims. But you have to be careful in the dunes. It’s a well-known breeding ground for adders and vipers.

They say that there are even calculator-snakes in there. I asked what they were and I was told that they are very fast adders

There was even a baby viper that went up to its mummy and asked “mummy, are we poisonous snakes?”
“Why do you ask, darling?” asked mummy snake.
“Well”, replied baby snake “I’ve just bitten my tongue”

I’ll get my coat.

The half-hour on the bass was interesting and I was playing along to a couple of tracks that came round on the playlist. One of them was Tom Petty’s “Last Dance With Mary Jane” and so I spent the half-hour on the six-string bashing out the chords to that.

Tea was one of the breaded soya steaks that I had bought today with a baked potaot and vegetables, followed by apple pie and soya coconut whatsit.

crowds picnicking pointe du roc granville manche normandy france eric hallAs usual, I went out for my evening exercise activities.

There was a following wind that pushed me up the hill on the first leg of my run, but nevertheless it was still a painful experience. And recovering my breath I ran on down to the clifftop where a large party of young people were having a picnic in what I now believe to be the base of a radar installation.

Surprisingly, there weren’t too many people out there on the lawn tonight, which is rather unusual for just recently

speedboat english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallOut at sea it was pretty quiet too.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we have been swamped with fishing boats over the last few months but tonight I couldn’t see a single one anywhere. There was just this speedboat coming over from the Ile de Chausey and he wasn’t hanging around at all.

In fact, by the time that I had made it round to the harbour he had joined me there.

fire la sphere recyclage tri de dechets donville les bains granville manche normandy france eric hallAnd regular readers of this rubbish will also recall the fire yesterday in Donville les Bains.

We’ve not had any calamities today as far as I can tell, but the fire over there is still smouldering as you can see. When I was out at the shops this morning it was still going, and at 21:00 today, some 30 hours later, they still haven’t completely sorted it out.

In fact, running down the Boulevard Vaufleury into the strong wind blowing from that direction, the acrid fumes were overpowering.

seagulls mudflats port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallIt was no fun running down the Boulevard Vaufleury in a strong headwind, but I made it to my resting poing.

While I was recovering my breath I went down to look at what was going on in the harbour. With the tide being right out there wasn’t much, except for the flock of seagulls on the mudflats at the entrance to the harbour.

They didn’t seem to be very active either, which surprised me. I’d imagined that they would have been scavenging about in the mud for shellfish to eat

crowds picnicking beach plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallHaving recovered my breath, I ran on up and round to the viewpoint at the Rue du Nord

And this is where everyone is this evening. I could see at least half a dozen groups, a couple of whom were tucked right underneath the cliff so that I could only hear them. But there was one lot down there who were having a barbecue on the beach.

So I left them to it and ran home, where I had to close the windows because of the smoke that was now starting to fill my apartment.

Sunday tomorrow, and lie-in, at long last. About time that I had a proper sleep, I reckon. I’m having a day off for a change.

Friday 29th May 2020 – WHILE YOU ADMIRE …

fire la sphere recyclage tri de dechets donville les bains granville manche normandy france eric hall… the photos of today’s calamity – and before you ask, NO, I haven’t been baking today – I can tell you about my day today.

It was another unsuccessful day in the “getting up before the third alarm” stakes and I’m as sick of doing it as you lot probably are of me telling you about it.

But then, it wasn’t actually an early night last night (although I have had much later nights than this and still been up before 06:20) so it’s my own fault right enough.

fire la sphere recyclage tri de dechets donville les bains granville manche normandy france eric hallAnd according to my dictaphone, I’d been on my travels too.

There was a group of kids playing cricket in the street. There was on particular couple, a boy and a girl, they boy hit the ball and the young girl ran up the hill after it, got it and threw the ball back. It went over beyond the batsman and I caught it. I decided “right, I’ll bowl the ball back to her past the boy”. But the first one I got I dropped it short and it landed right in front of my feet and bounced up so I caught it. The next time my arm went over my head as I went to bowl and was caught up in some wires, telegraph wires or something like that. While this was going on there was some kind of news item going on about the cricket and about a big cricket score but I can’t remember what now.

fire la sphere recyclage tri de dechets donville les bains granville manche normandy france eric hallThat wasn’t all either.

Although there was nothing else on the dictaphone, I had an image going round in my mind of a situation where at some point during the night I was with a girl and i wish that I could remember who she was. We were in a relationship but she was having all kinds of personal problems which were causing her to want to put an end to our relationship, but I was equally determined not to let it end and I was having quite a discussion with her in my car – a British right-hand-drive car too.

so I don’t know about that one.

fire la sphere recyclage tri de dechets donville les bains granville manche normandy france eric hallWith not getting up until … errr … 07:35, which is no good at all, everything was running dreadfully late.

Breakfast wasn’t until about 09:00 which meant that I didn’t start work until about 09:35.

And at first glance, it doesn’t look as if I’ve done very much. I’ve amended one page off one website to bring it up to modern standards.

That took longer than it might have done because it needed a considerable amount of rewriting. Another one that was written in 2008 and which hasn’t been edited at all since.

fire la sphere recyclage tri de dechets donville les bains granville manche normandy france eric hallAnd in connection with rewriting a page a day off the other site, I’m about three quarters of the way through doing that.

That’s a page from 2001 and which has had a little desultory editing over the years since then. However, it’s long been overtaken by all kinds of events of all natures and a total rewrite is long overdue.

Furthermore, it’s now grown to such a size that it’s practically unmanageable. I’m trying to keep my pages down to no more than 30kb (that’s about 18kb of text) but this one is already at 49kb and growing rapidly.

It’s going to have to be split, and that means resurrecting a project that I started in 2007 and stopped some time round about 2010 – a list of web pages and cross-references to other pages.

That’s because if I do split the page, some of the cross-references are going to be wrong.

There were a whole variety of interruptions too during the day.

Lunch was one of them, of course, and I do have to say that even though my bread looks strange, it was absolutely perfect – felt like bread, tasted like bread, everything. Even the correct number of airholes.

The truth though will be whether I can do a second one like it, or whether this one was just a flash in the pan.

fire la sphere recyclage tri de dechets donville les bains granville manche normandy france eric hallRound about 14:30 I went to fetch something from the living room.

And that was when I noticed, with a quick glance out of the window, that things aren’t what they were were supposed to be.

“What’s afoot?” I asked myself.
“About 30 centimetres” – ed

It seemed to me to be a good idea to go and make further enquiries

blue clear sea plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallIt was an absolutely, stunningly beautiful afternoon and I’m glad that I nipped out for a quick walk around.

And I can safely say without any fear of contradiction that I have never in my life seen the sea as clear and as transparent as this. It’s the kind of colour that you always associate with the Mediterranean, and reminds me of the week that I spent WITH TRIXI ON A GREEK ISLAND called Agistri.

We’ve seen a few photos just recently of the Baie de Mont St Michel and how the sand looked a lot more evident than it has been at low tide, but this is something altogether different.

jet skis english channel brehal plage granville manche normandy france eric hallThere weren’t all that many people around this afternoon which is hardly surprising, given the acrid nature of the smoke.

But these people out here on jetskis were enjoying themselves. There were three of them altogether – the third one put in an appearance just after I had clicked the shutter. They looked as if they had come from the beach at Bréhal-Plage, that neck of the woods, but it wasn’t clear where exactly they were going to.

But as long as they were enjoying it, that was all that counts. They had the right kind of weather and I bet that the sea bed looked really good where they were.

tidal swimming pool plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that a couple of weeks ago we saw a digger digging out years of accumulated sand out of the old tidal swimming pool.

And this is the result just here. You can see that it’s holding water – and holding it quite well too. And although there was no-one actually in it, there were several people loitering with intent around it.

As for the column of smoke, it was becoming thicker and thicker and we were being treated to several loud bangs too. “Oxygen cylinders” was my immediate thought.

But it wasn’t possible to see what was causing the smoke or where it was coming from. Too many houses in the way. But the sound of sirens from fire engines dashing to the scene told me that it was something major.

fishing from rocks pointe du roc granville manche normandy france eric hallDespite having had my little walk around to check on the inferno, I still went out for my afternoon walk.

The tide was still well in and the fire was clearly still raging because the plume of smoke was thicker and there were fewer people around. Down on the rocks, though, it wasn’t too bad and this person here was quite unperturbed by all of the commotion going on around him

It did make me wonder whether he was fishing for herring. If so, and the wind veered round a few points to this direction, he’d finish with a lovely batch of kippers.

fishing from rocks pointe du roc granville manche normandy france eric hallHe wasn’t the only one out here getting his rod out.

My hat goes off to those two intrepid fishermen over there because there is no easy way of getting to that position. They must have scrambled over quite a few rocks and I hope that they will be able to scramble back.

And that reminds me. Yesterday’s emergency – nothing in the newspapers apart from a rescue of a couple of canoeists down near Carolles-Plage. I wonder if it was nothing but a training exercise.

But as for their canoeists -I wonder if they had been rescued because they lit a fire in their canoe. You have to know that you can’t have your kayak and heat it.

zodiac towing zodiac baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france eric hallThere wasn’t as much maritime traffic today aswe have seen over the last few days and I’ve no idea why.

The fishing boats I can understand. They don’t want to end up with a hold full of kippers either. And it can’t have been much fun on that zodiac either, or the one being pulled along behind, if they’ve been round the corner in the smoke and fumes.

But we’ve not seen the yellow zodiac for a few days. It looks as if it’s departed as quickly and dramatically as it came here.

cabin cruiser baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france eric hallThis was interesting though.

The little baby cabin cruiser thing drifting around out there just offshore. And drifting too, because if you look very carefully, you’ll see that the propellor of the outboard motor as out of the water and one of the crew looks as if he’s calling on his mobile phone.

Normandy Trader was supposed to be coming over today too, with a pile of stuff that should have gone to St Malo. But I didn’t see her.

Subsequent information told me that she had actually been in, made a dramatically rapid turn-round and gone back out again.

photograph pointe du roc granville manche normandy france eric hallRegular readers of this rubbish will also recall that one of the things that I enjoy doing is taking photos of people taking photos.

There have been a couple of occasions were photographers have brought models up here to pose for the camera and we’ve managed to snap them. And there was another one her today – a heavily-tattooed woman taking a few photos of a young woman.

They were clearly having a good time, although I hoped that the young woman had a good sense of balance. That’s a 100-foot drop to her left.

So back here to make a few enquiries and it turns out that it’s “la Sphère”, the recycling centre in Donville les Bains, that’s gone up like Joan of Arc. And the explosions that we heard were a couple of gas cyliners and several tons of vehicle batteries.

More news follows.

The music course lost me completely in week 2. We were working on major scales, minor scales, Ionian, Doric and Seventh scales. Basically, every note might played in a particular key except a flattened 2 and a flattened 6 which, apparently, are never played at all.

And it’s a tribute to the course that while I might not be technically able to keep up with the proceedings, at least I know what a flattened 2 and a flattened 6 is, which is something that I didn’t know before.

And when I translate it all onto the bass guitar as I did with my hour on the guitar between 18:00 and 19:00, with triads and minor 7ths or major 7ths, it all makes perfect sense. So for things like that, the course is fulfilling its purpose.

Tea was one of the bean burgers on a bap with a baked potato, followed by a slice of apple pie and the last of the soya coconut dessert. My pie really is excellent and I did well with that

buoys baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france eric hallBack out for my evening runs tonight. There was a headwind but I pushed on regardless and made it all the way up to my breathing stop at the end of the hedge, and then down to the clifftop.

Around the corner in the Baie de Mont St Michel there was a huge line of these marker buoys going round almost in a circle. Surprisingly, there wasn’t a single fishing boat anywhere that I could see

There were probably no more than half a dozen people out here too. The smoke was probably keeping them all away from this end of town

yacht riding at anchor chateau de la crete granville manche normandy france eric hallThere wasn’t all that much pleasure traffic out there either.

This beautiful yacht caught my eye though. Just sitting there not doing all that much, out there in the Baie de Mont St Michel underneath the headland where the Chateau de la Crete is.

That’s what I call peaceful and relaxing and it made me quite envious. And I wonder if the person over there near the shore has anything to do with the yacht.

victor hugo port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallMy run took me all the way down the Boulevar Vaufleury and round the corner to my marker. And then i walked back to the harbour to see what was going on.

And the answer to that was “nothing”. There was nothing at all moving about. Victor Hugo and Granville, the two Channel island ferries, are still tied up over there. The local restauranteurs have been telling me that they are allowed to reopen on June 2nd, and so i was wondering if that means that the ferries to the Channel islands will resume on that date.

There was something to say that they had given all of their stocks of snacks and drinks to the local food bank.

cross eglise notre dame de cap lihou granville manche normandy france eric hallBecause of my extra little walk this afternoon, my fitbit was showing 89% of my day’s activities.

Keen to push on to the 100% I ran round and up to the Eglise de Notre Dame de Cap Lihou and did a lap around the church. There’s a square around the back of the church with this cross in it and I wondered if that square was where the medieval market took place.

Crosses in the market place were quite common. They were the local assembly point and where the news was read out and announcements made.

eroded statue eglise notre dame de cap lihou granville manche normandy france eric hallSo back round to the other side of the church.

And I hadn’t noticed this statue before. And you can see that it’s made of some material other than Chausey granite because there’s hardly a trace of erosion on the stone blocks, yet acid rain has really done for this statue.

When I was doing some research into an article that I was writing about CLEOPATRA’S NEEDLE, it was interesting to compare the different rates of erosion of the hieroglyphics on the different needles, due to the different levels of acid rain.

picnickers plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallSo I ran on down to the Rue du Nord and the viewpoint there.

Nothing at all happening out at sea, although my picnickers were there again having a good time – and who can blame tham?

Nothing for me to hang about for so I ran on back to the apartment where I had to close all of the windows because the wind had indeed turned and the acrid smoke was now blowing right into my living room.

So now that I’ve finished my notes I’m off to bed. Shopping tomorrow and there’s a football match on the internet tomorrow after noon which I don’t want to miss

Mind you, if I don’t organise myself properly any time soon, I’ll probably still ba asleep at kick-off.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

building work brusselsestraat leuven belgie
building work brusselsestraat leuven belgie

Thursday 29th March 2018 – RED SKY AT NIGHT …

kairon plage fire manche normandy france… shepherd’s delight.

Red sky in the morning, Kairon Plage is on fire

Well, it was this afternoon actually. But we aren’t going to let a little historical inaccuracy stand in the way of a good poem are we? Politicians do much more than this and yet no-one else seems to mind.

ile de chausey granville manche normandy franceI’d had the big zoom lens fitted to the camera this afternoon for a while because I’d been taking a couple of long-distance photos out towards Jersey.

Because of the mist that was lingering out there, they aren’t very good. But the one of the Ile de Chausey seems to have come out reasonably well all things considered.

It wasn’t really the right kind of day for that kind of thing. YOu can’t do much in a rolling ocean fog.

rainbow donville les bains granville manche normandy franceBut as I stepped out of the building to go for my afternoon stroll, I had the standard lens on it

And although you can’t see it very clearly, you might just notice above that dreadful building in Donville-les-Bains where I visited a ruin last Spring, there are the vestiges of a rainbow.

Half an hour earlier it had been absolutely teeming down with rain, and freezing cold here. I wish that it would warm up so that I could switch off the heating.

Yet another reasonable sleep last night – I can’t think of what’s brought all of this about, and then after the usual performance and routine, I had a shower and a change of clothes.

That’s right – it’s Thursday and LIDL time.

Setting foot outside the building I noticed that while it might have been nice out of my window, it looked grey and depressing out of the front and the wind was puching it my way. So I nipped back in for my rain coat.

And I’m glad that I did because by the time that I’d gone half a mile it was p155ing down. And that’s how it stayed for all of the morning.

roadworks avenue des vendeens granville manche normandy franceThe roadworks have now reached beyond LIDL and today, I was in luck because the workman whom I buttonholed was quite garrulous.

It’s an assainismant project – drainage. But others are also taking advantage of his trench to put the fibre-optic cable down there.

You can tell that we aren’t in the UK, can’t you? Over there, they would each take their turn, usually once the previous set of repairs has finished. But that explains why there are markings on the street in severl different colours and handwritings.

Apart from the usual things, LIDL came up trumps again. Belts for a belt-sander, 4 for e1:99. I don’t have any sandpaper here and it’s something that I might need every now and again. And at €0:30 a sheet, belts at €0:50 each is a positive bargain.

Not only that, they had gas-filled pencil solderers. Best things since sliced bread these and I’ve been trying to get a decent one for hundreds of years. I probably won’t ever use it now, but it was there and on sale, and it’s here now.

new gates port de granville harbour manche normandy franceWalking back through the rain, I noticed the reason why the crane has now gone from the harbour.

Yes, our new dock gates are installed and to be honest, they don’t look much different from the old ones.

The photo isn’t up to much – the zoom on the phone camera isn’t any good, so I’ll go for a wander down there again when we have some decent weather.

The postie came by this afternoon and brought me another pile of stuff. Most excitingly, the plug-in foot pedal tuner for the bass guitar. I don’t have a tuner here and have been doing it by ear, but it seems that my ear is about half a tone sharp. That explains my miserable singing, doesn’t it?

Lots of other stuff too, all of which will be mentioned in due course.

sunset granville manche normandy franceAfter tea – oven chips, beans and the left-over sausage followed by strawberries and vegan cream – I went for my evening ramble.

And at last, the first decent sunset that we have had since I can’t ever remember when. High time we had one of those. The slight rain that we were having didn’t dampen my ardour in the least.

And I’m now at 114% on my fitbit. That’s much more like it. I can go to bed in peace and satisfaction.

If my memory serves me correctly, it’s a Bank Holiday tomorrow. That means a lie-in of course.

I shall take full advantage.

Saturday 25th March 2017 – I’VE JUST SEEN …

… the most extraordinary football match.

Puy-de-Dome League Division 4 and two teams – St Gervais d’Auvergne III at home to Charbonnières II. Charbonnières were streets better than St Gervais – they missed a sitter almost from the kick-off but took the lead after about 5 minutes with a soft goal through the St Gervais keeper’s legs.

All one-way traffic it was with Charbonnières making it look so easy, and only some last-ditch outstretched feet and some astonishing saves by the St Gervais keeper who, I reckoned, knew absolutely nothing about any of them, just being in the right place at the right time and diving the right way, prevented Charbonnières from running riot.

But it was all too easy for Charbonnières and after about half an hour they eased off for some reason or other, and I don’t know why. And then the inevitable happened. A harmless cross into the penalty area, the Charbonnières keeper palmed it away, the loose ball hit one of his own defenders on the back and rolled across the line into the net.

Stunned silence from the crowd.

In the second half, Charbonnières struggled to get going. St Gervais were quite awful but they were slowly growing in confidence, with the opponents becoming more and more frustrated.

And then it happened.

A cross from the wing into the centre of the field, a St Gervais player hitting it on the half volley, and there we were, a most unlikely 2-1 for St Gervais.

Even more unlikely was that St Gervais scored a third just minutes later!

As the game progressed, Charbonnières finally awoke and went back on the rampage, with some more outstretched feet and some very fortunate goalkeeping keeping them out. But they did pull one back from a free kick with just minutes to go.

In the final minute or so Charbonnières threw everything, including the kitchen sink, at the St Gervais defence, and then we had a wild clearance out of the defence. The Charbonnières defenders had the idea of stepping up three paces to catch the St Gervais attacker offside.

But ohhh woe! Woe!

They were in the St Gervais half, and an attacker can’t be offside if he’s in his own half. The attacker picked up the ball, advanced totally unopposed on the Charbonnières goal and slotted the ball underneath the isolated keeper. 4-2.

And that was that. And the crowd are still shaking their heads even now.

The second match was between the St Gervais Second team and the First XI of Charbonnières, and this was much more evenly matched. Charbonnières took the lead with a good header, and as the game wound down towards the end, they slowed down the game. But two dramatic late goals from St Gervais turned the match around and Charbonnières then tried to speed up the game. But they couldn’t come back.

We had a few little niggles but all-in-all it was a good game.

But I’ll tell you something. I complained the other day about the lack of solidarity that I have received from most of my “friends” in the Auvergne. Today, there were several people whom I knew from Pionsat’s football team and while they all said “hello”, not one of them came to sit with me for a little chat, even though it’s been 18 months or so since I was last at a match and they all know about my health issues.

I’m really disappointed about that.

So last night was another bad night for me – awake in the middle of the night and then wide awake definitively at about 05:45. Up here in the attic (with a fire burning) long before the alarm.

After a brief rest I took a pile of boxes downstairs to Caliburn and loaded him up, and also put in some stuff from the verandah. Then I nipped off to the Intermarche at Pionsat for some bread and so on.

I didn’t do much when I returned, and after lunch I crashed out for an hour or so.

But before going to the football I removed almost all of the boxes from the attic and put them in Caliburn. That was heavy work and exhausted me completely. There’s still stuff to pack up here, but that’s Tuesday morning’s job.

And now I’m back from the footy I’m going to be doing the washing-up and then going to bed.

Sunday is a day of rest, but I bet that it won’t be.

Friday 24th March 2017 – CALIBURN HAS RETURNED!

And I should know, because I had to go and fetch him back. Of course that meant that I had to take back the little Skoda hire car but that’s no big deal.

Caliburn has had his rear end fixed (they even repaired the towing light sockets that I broke about 5 years ago but I didn’t say anything) and not only that, the nearside was stripped bare, all of the rust and stone chips ground out, the bare metal treated with anti-oxydiser, everything stopped, filled and sanded down, and a coat of primer then a coat of paint and then some varnish.

All of that came to a mere €283 – well, my bit did anyway – and I was expecting it to be more than twice that.

It’s true to say that you can see the join between the old and the new paintwork, but I’m not bothered about that. Caliburn is 10 years old and showing his age like I am. I just need him to keep on going for as long as I do without dropping to bits – that’s the plan anyway. Spending less than €300 to keep the bodywork together sounds like a good investment to me.

Last night was not so good. I went off to sleep easily enough but was awake by about 04:30 and struggled to go back to sleep again. By 06:30 I was up and about, and drinking my morning coffee when the alarm went off.

It was cold, damp, wet and miserable too, and so I lit a fire. I’ve decided that I need to keep warm no matter what while I’m here. It’s not as if I’m short of wood, as Terry keeps on reminding me.

I didn’t do much though this morning – spending a lot of time thinking about this and that and tidying up a pile of files on the computer that I have here – the old one with the smashed screen that I use as a desktop computer with added mouse, keyboard and external screen (the HDMI socket of the DVD viewer in fact).

Lunch was the rest of Ingrid’s delicious soup and then gathering my wits, I decided on a plan of attack. I fought (and I DO mean “fought”) my way into the verandah and the lean-to.

And there I really did hit the depths of despair because everything that I had set aside all those years ago – everything from Expo, the crockery and cutlery that I had bought specially – well, it’s all in a lamentable state having been stored in the verandah and the lean-to for 6 years. I should really have unpacked it all years ago, but I really didn’t have anywhere to put it.

Anyway, that really depressed me. I started dumping stuff into plastic bags to take to the tip – piles and piles of it – but that was soul-destroying and I lost all enthusiasm. The freezing cold and driving rain didn’t help matters either. I ended up with nowhere to put anything.

Instead , I went and fetched Caliburn, and then came up here for a warm by the fire and some more of Ingrid’s pepper, lentil and tomato sauce to go with my pasta.

Now I shall endeavour to fight off the depression that I’m in and go to bed. And hope that I can sleep too. It’s been a long hard day and the next four days are going to be even worse.

Thursday 23rd March 2017 – COURGETTE LEEK AND POTATO …

… soup for lunch. Tea was lentil, pepper and tomato sauce for my pasta, all followed by a raspberry and banana dessert.

The Lap of Luxury, you might think, and indeed you would be right because I had a Meals on Wheels service today. Ingrid came round with a pile of goodies that she had made this morning, especially for me!

Last night, my bunged-up nose and me were in bed early enough and I was soon asleep curled up under the quilt. I had to leave the bed at one point, but here’s a thing – when I went back to sleep it was until the alarm awoke me. And it’s been a while since that has happened.

Pouring with rain outside and cold, wet and miserable inside. I held off for a couple of hours but there’s no point in killing myself for no good reason – I ended up lighting the fire. And it soon became warm in here too. I meant to do some more packing but I couldn’t find the enthusiasm (no big surprise here). I just sat in the warm.

Ingrid came round at lunchtime with my food parcels and in exchange I gave her the big vegetable steamer that I was intending to use on my woodstove. No point in my keeping that now – it may as well go to a good home.

After Ingrid left, I carried on with a little (just a little) desultory tidying up but not making progress, and at 16:00 I rang up to enquire about Caliburn. Apparently he’s still not ready and won’t be done until tomorrow afternoon. And so I curled up in the warmth again.

I had my tea, with grateful thanks again to Ingrid, and then a little relax before going to bed.

But I need to organise myself much more than this. It’s all very well saying that I have nowhere to put anything until Caliburn comes back, but while this s true, I could be doing other stuff. But the weather is getting me right down. I can’t do anything when it’s cold, damp and wet.

I need a change.

Thursday 2nd April 2015 – I’VE FINISHED …

… work for the next four days. Tomorrow is Good Friday and so I’m having an Easter Break. And I think that I deserve it too after the work that I’ve done so far this year.

I put my back into it today too. The living room is now emptied as far as I can reasonably empty it, and it’s now looking like it did last January and February after I had emptied it for the first time. Making a space in the barn to put everything was really a good move, although I’m not quite sure where i’m going to empty all of the rubbish. I’ll be dropping sacks off at each communal bin all the way to St Eloy.

It was all over by lunchtime too – a good couple of hours ahead of schedule. It’s not like me to be so far in advance, is it?

As a result, I had a couple of hours to spare and so I made a start on the lean-to – the one on the downhill side of the house. I’ve thrown out a good pile of stuff from there too, sorted out some space on the shelves for the gardening stuff and rearranged the gardening tools.

You can see floor in there too, and it’s been a long time since that happened.

I’d rounded up quite a pile of stray wood in there too (there’s still a huge mound of course that needs to be sorted) and that was just as well, for today has been horrible, cold and damp. Consequently, for warming up my tea tonight, I lit a wood fire up here. I may as well profit from the heat if I need it.

Now I’m off to bed. I’m going to have an early night to prepare myself for my nice long weekend off.

Sunday 29th March 2015 – SUNDAY IS A DAY OF REST

But not for me it isn’t – at least, not today.

Mind you, it was the day of a lie-in and it was 11:00 (or 10:00 in real money because we put the clocks forward today) that I crawled out of my stinking pit.

After breakfast, I carried on with the tidying up. And it looks a little more respectable in here (only a little, though) and another pile of stuff was taken out. I’ll crack this place yet, even if it will take me a century to do it.

At the footy this afternoon, FC Pionsat St Hilaire’s 2nd XI were playing Sauret-Besserve. With a full side out, and even a substitute, the team was nevertheless rather imbalanced. Felix, the goalkeeper, was playing in attack and Vincent was in goal. That filled me full of foreboding as his only other match in goal had … well, not been a success.

I was proved right in the first 5 minutes. With a howling gale roaring down the pitch towards Pionsat’s goal, Sauret took the lead with a spectacular 40-yard punt that was picked up by the wind and sailed over the despairing Vincent’s hand into the top corner of the net. And in the first 40 minutes, I don’t think that Pionsat had managed to put the ball in the Sauret half.

Things changed as soon as the wind dropped slightly. FC Pionsat St Hilaire found a lull in the wind and soared upfield into the Sauret penalty area where a rather hopeful cross hit the arm of a Sauret defender. A cruel occurrence, but no-one can really complain about the award of a penalty. It may not have been intentional but it did deprive the attack of an advantage. Anyway, old Eric stepped up and calmly slotted home.

30 seconds later, Anthony did well on the right wing to hold up the play and then he hit another hopeful cross into the area. The Sauret keeper and the central defender both hesitated for a second as each one expected the other to come for the ball, and that gave Christophe just enough of a moment to slide his foot in and push it past the keeper into the net for the lead.

In the second half with the gale at their backs, Vincent (who has a huge kick for such a thin boy) was punting his clearances downfield well in front of his attackers. Nevetheless, Pionsat had three or four golden opportunities to bury the game, including one where Christophe sold a marvellous dummy to the Sauret defence, letting the ball go through his legs for Bertrand, running wide, to shoot across goal when surely it had to be easier to score.

And they might well have regretted that too, had it not been for Vincent in goal who made a couple of excellent saves that his big brother Matthieu would have been proud to make.

But with the game in its dying seconds, Felix (who had a good game up front for a goalkeeper) held up play on the edge of the penalty area, drew the entire defence onto him, and then just at the last minute slid the ball across the empty penalty area for Christophe to sidefoot into the empty net.

Yes, a good game, and a good result too. Pionsat’s team can be very proud of that.

Back here, I had a little fire tonight. Not that I really needed it, but it’s Sunday and pizza night. I may as well be comfortable while I’m cooking.

So tomorrow, back to work. And back to emptying the house.

Thursday 26th March 2015 – ONE MORE COAT …

… of varnish on the floor and the varnishing will be finished. Every vertical surface has already had two coats of varnish, and every horizontal surface three, except of course the floor. And that will be done first thing tomorrow morning.

That new varnish from Mr Bricolage seems to be okay- it needs a really good mixing but then it spreads quite nicely. I’ll have to remember that varnish next time I’ll be varnishing.

That really is all that I’ve done today – as if that isn’t enough. You’ve absolutely no idea of just how much bare wood there was in that bedroom and it took ages to do. But it all looks so nice now and so it was well-worth the effort.

Tomorrow, once the varnish has dried, I’ll be fitting the skirtung board and then trying to install the glass over the door without dropping it. Putting the hanging rails in the wardrobe will be the final job and that bedroom will finally be finished. I can then move all of the clothes and the chests of drawers down there, and my attic will be so much emptier.

That’s not quite true. I need to sort out the lights in there. At the moment there are just some LED lightbulbs dangling from the ceiling and I’m not sure what I can do to make that look pretty. I have one or two ideas and I’ll have to see how they pan out.

I had yet another small fire in here tonight seeing as the temperature was just 14.9°C. That’s 2°C higher than my threshold temperature, but I made a huge pepper and chickpea curry tonight and that cooks nicely in the oven, so why not light the fire and be comfortable while i’m doing it? And it took the leftover wood from yesterday, a floorboard offcut and half a log. Talk about cheap cooking and heating.

Yes, this little wood fire with tiny oven is the best thing that i’ve ever purchased for here.

Wednesday 25th March 2015 – I DID WELL …

… to light a little fire up here last night. I awoke to a relatively balmy 16.2°C and yet outside we had 5cms of snow. So much for Spring, hey?

And I’d been on my travels during the night too. I had aroused the antipathy of the factory bully who ended up chasing me around the factory brandishing an enormous club. He was intercepted by a few of his colleagues who persuaded him to use a slightly smaller club. But it all ended happily ever after as I ended up walking across the park towards some buildings in the distance, hand in hand (and later, arm round the waist) of a girl who, over the past two or three weeks, has appeared out of nowhere to accompany me on several of my nocturnal adventures. I’ve absolutely no idea at all what has prompted the strange inclusion of this unexpected companion, no matter how sweet many of the people in the park described the pair of us last night.

After breakfast I used up the rest of the cheap varnish on the window and the shelves in the wardrobe, and then I varnished the floor with the first coat. After that, I went off to Montlucon as I predicted.

First stop was Pionsat to sort out the boulangère. Sophie, the regular Friday livreuse, is off sick and so they’ve been taking on anyone that they can get. That explains all of the confusion about the delivery of Friday’s bread, and I hope that we’ve managed to sort it out.

At the LIDL I witnessed a very disagreeable incident of a young guy verbally abusing the young female cashier over the price of an article (but he cleared off before I could have a word in his shell-like) and then at the Auchan I stocked up with the next month’s major supply of food.

At Brico-Depot I managed to forget the floor-join and the brush for the bedroom door but I managed to fix myself up with some tackle to make a couple of Heath-Robinson hanging rails for the wardrobe, as well as a couple more 4-watt LED light bulbs. I also bumped into Pete Marsh and his friend, who were stocking up on supplies for their next contract.

I was disappointed though – the cheap but good varnish is no longer carried. It seems that the supplier has closed down. So to be on the safe side, I bought another large tin of the expensive stuff just in case. If I don’t use it, it’ll come in handy for the ground floor.

Problem solved though over the road at mr Bricolage. They had big tins of cheap clear varnish on offer so I bought one,as well as the glass that I need to do the window over the door. I’ve managed to bring that home in one piece – it’ll be interesting to see if I can manage to get it into the doorframe without dropping it.

NOZ came up with nothing so I came home, crashed out for an hour and then made myself a Heath-Robinson meal of a handful of pasta, sone peas, carrots and green beans, and some olive oil and mustard sauce. Cooked on the oven because I’ve had the fire on again tonight. The left-over wood from last night-s fire and a floorboard offcut and that was sufficient. It’s amazing what you can do with a good fire.