Tag Archives: fitbit

Saturday 10th December 2022 – IF I WERE …

… to say that I stayed in bed until 11:00 this morning, you would probably think that I had had a good night’s sleep for a change.

However, when I tell you that I didn’t go to bed until at least 04:00 you might change your mind.

And when I tell you that I had a pretty dreadful night in between, then you might be even more convinced. I had a mad fit of the itching that means that I was having withdrawal symptoms to something that they were giving me at hospital and I had to smother my legs in this type of cold cream that they give me.

There was this extremely depressing and dismal dream as well and what was even more depressing and dismal was that after I’d settled down again I had exactly the same dream again word for word. But don’t worry – it’s one of those where if you are having your tea right at this moment you wouldn’t thank me for typing it out.

When I left the bed at 11:00 it really was more of a case of not having anything better to do. I’d been awake for quite some time without being able to go back to sleep.

It should be no surprise to anyone that making a start this morning was rather difficult. I had to slowly bring myself back into the swing of things. And having spilled a pile of lemonade all over the floor part of the morning involved giving the kitchen floor a good seeing-to.

Steam-cleaning (and I DO mean “steam-cleaning” the microwave oven as well, that was next.

And then the fridge. When I first opened the fridge door, something inside switched off the light and closed it again. So I had to put on a brave face and attack the cartons of overinflated and fermented drink in there. I’ll look at the rest another time.

Add to that the tidying up and putting the washing away from before I went off on my travels, and I was exhausted even before I’d started, and I wasn’t feling very well either.

With a clean microwave and a fresh carton of milk I could make myself some porridge. And together with a strong coffee and a glass of orange it was something like a decent breakfast. And didn’t that make a change from jam butties?

Next step was a shower, and that was hard work in itself. Somehow managing to climb over the edge of the bath into the shower was only half of my problems. The other half of my problems was climbing out afterwards. You’ve no idea how much of an exertion that was altogether and I’ll have to do this for as long as I’m still breathing

The rest of the day has been spent backing up the computer and even as we speak, that’s a task that’s still going on. It seems to be never-ending and is an indication of maybe how much time I had on my hands in the hospital.

But just when I was feeling really down and looking for a lift, there in the bottom of the freezer was a portion of pepper-and-lentil vindaloo and that went down extraordinarily well. I needed that very much.

And if you’ll notice, I haven’t been out of the building at all today. The steps are going to defeat me if I take things too quickly. I’m going to have to spend some time just walking around the apartment, I reckon, building up my muscles on a daily basis.

Yesterday, on my way home I did 21% of my daily target and while that may not sound like much, it’s 10 times the daily rate of what had been happening while I’d been in hospital. Consequently 6% today is slowly stepping up the rate from how things have been in hospital, and clambering in the bath will stretch a few muscles more.

That’s not to say that things were easy today but by the time that tonight came round I was feeling a little more optimistic. I wonder how long this new wave of optimism will last.

Thursday 22nd September 2022 – HAVING SPENT …

air sea rescue helicopter F-ZBQA Eurocopter EC 145 baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022… all the afternoon writing up my notes from yesterday, I’m now going to spend all the evening writing up the notes from today.

And notes a-plenty there will be too because there was quite a bit of activity going on in and around the headland this afternoon while I was on my afternoon walk.

And of the 20 photos that survived the cut, there will be plenty to say about them too. No time like the present so I shall have to make a start.

air sea rescue helicopter F-ZBQA Eurocopter EC 145 baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022And so while you sitting comfortably admiring plenty of photos of the Air-Sea Rescue helicopter F-ZBQA practising its craft along with its crew this afternoon, I shall begin.

And I’ll begin where I left off, which was coming home last night after midnight, letting it all hang out, the dirty stop-out that I am.

It’s hardly a surprise that once I settled in my chair I couldn’t summon up the energy to go to bed. In the end, it was after 02:00 that I finally called it a night staggered off into bed.

air sea rescue helicopter F-ZBQA Eurocopter EC 145 baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022One thing that I regretted was not checking the fitbit.

While we were on our way back to Granville I noticed that I was on 93% of my daily activity. But walking around while we waited for a table must have clocked up well over 100%

However when I checked after I returned home, it showed just 1%. Of course, it was after midnight wasn’t it, and so it had reset and I’d missed what was the final total.

air sea rescue helicopter F-ZBQA Eurocopter EC 145 baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022There was no alarm last night. I’d switched it off in the hope of having a decent sleep to compensate me for my efforts.

However, it didn’t work out like that. I ended up awakening at 06:30 and at various times thereafter. Had I set my mind to it I could have been out of bed a long time before … errr … 10:30.

Some stuff on the dictaphone too but I didn’t have the time to deal with it right away. It wasn’t until almost bedtime that I managed to find a moment to deal with it..

air sea rescue helicopter F-ZBQA Eurocopter EC 145 baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022I was back home. I’d been out for a very long walk but for some unknown reason I was only half-dressed. I was in one of the upstairs rooms. I could hear everyone downstairs and the clanking of plates as if it was lunchtime. I thought that I’d betther finish dressing so I grabbed the rest of my clothes, went into the bedroom and dressed. I came out and the sofa had gone. I had who had moved the sofa. My mother stuck her head in the door and asked “what do you mean?”. “The sofa – where’s it gone?”. She pointed to it being stood up in a corner out of my view. She must have been past and cleaned the floor. I went to put down the sofa. She said “you can do that afterwards. It’s mealtime. Come down and have something to eat with the rest of us”.

F-ZBQA Eurocopter EC 145 baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022Having dealt with the medication the next task was to sort out the photos from yesterday.

And when I’d finished those, I could make a start on the notes from all of the places that we visited while we were on our trip out.

Another purpose of this blog is to make me much better-acquainted with what is happening around here and in other places that I visit. And I’m certainly learning an awful lot. That’s because taking photographs is one thing, writing notes about what I photograph is something else completely.

fishing baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022So while you admire all of the photos of the water craft that were out there today (and weren’t there a lot?) I was busy researching the photos from yesterday.

It takes a lot of discipline to do it correctly, and I’ve had to learn how to discipline myself. After all, what with the Recession, I can no longer afford that woman in Soho.

And so I settled down with the computer, a couple of ancient guide books, my book on the Hundred Years War and started to work.

fishing kayak baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022Incidentally, while we’re on the subject of the Hundred Years War … “well, one of us is” – ed … for most British people, it’s a story of Crecy, Agincourt, Poitiers and a few other things too, mostly inspired by William Shakespeare.

For the French however, it was something else completely. When there was no major fighting, there were bands of discharged soldiers roaming around the country at will, terrorising the civilians and committing all kinds of bestial acts.

In addition, there were what they called chevauchées, raiding parties led by noblemen who would use terror as a means of enriching themselves and their followers by any means possible.

cabin cruiser baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022All in all, it was a total nightmare for the civilian population in France. Imagine the events that have happened so far in Ukraine lasting for 116 years, from 1337 to 1453.

A few years ago, while I was rummaging around in a junk shop like you do … “like SOME of you do” – ed … I came across an old book written in French that described the Hundred Years War from the French point of view in almost 500 pages.

Obviously, it was far too good a purchase to miss and so I’ve been having a good read of it today as I’ve been working.

yachts baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022That’s because the history of Avranches and Mont St Michel are pretty-much tied up with what was happening during the Hundred Years War.

For example, the dramatic and rapid modifications to the entrance to Mont St Michel, brought about by the rapid and dramatic development of field artillery that rendered obsolete each modification almost as soon as it was completed.

It took ages to do because there were the usual interruptions, like coffee, lunchtime fruit, and all that kind of thing too.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022Not forgetting the afternoon walk around the headland either.

And i’m glad that I went out despite all the work because it was a beautiful day. And there were several people down there on the beach enjoying it, as I discovered when I went over to the wall at the end of the car park.

They weren’t actually sunbathing, although they may well have done because it was that nice today. I’d actually gone out without a sweater today and I’d even had the fan on in the office for a short while.

yellow autogyro baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022We’ve seen plenty of stuff going on out at sea, and also quite a bit in the air too.

But the helicopter wasn’t all that was going on up there. As I set off to tramp around the headland I was overflown.

Having seen one of the powered hang gliders yesterday down at Mont St Michel, it’s the turn of the yellow autogyro to go down there, I suppose, and I caught her on her way back to the airfield.

There were two people on board this afternoon so it looks as if there has been an interested spectator today.

normandy trader baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022While i’d been walking around, I’d seen something larger than the usual trawler heading our way from the direction of St Helier.

It didn’t take a moment to work out that it was in fact Normandy Trader coming in to port, presumably to pick up the freight that we saw being dropped at the quayside the other day.

We can tell that it’s she because of the raised platform at the back of the wheelhouse. Her sister Normandy Warrior has a larger wheelhouse but no raised platform behind it, carrying all her freight in the hold.

people watching air sea rescue helicopter F-ZBQA Eurocopter EC 145 baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022There were crowds of people out there this afternoon in the nice weather.

Plenty milling around up and down the path, but by far the most of them standing around on the lawn or on the car park watching what was going on with F-ZBQA, the air sea rescue helicopter Eurocopter EC 145 that usually lives at Donville les Bains.

She’d been flying around quite a lot while I’d been out for my walk, and so I wasn’t convinced that this was a “real” rescue. I was of the opinion that it was more of a drill or a training rather than anything else.

cabanon vauban person sitting on bench pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022And so all in all, this afternoon there was tons of stuff going on, more than enough to keep anyone entertained.

And so for that reason, I was puzzled by the apparent insouciance of the person sitting on the bench down at the cabanon vauban.

There he was, in a ringside seat with all of this going on. The best seat in the house and he seemed to be casually reading a book instead of watching all the activity unfolding right before his eyes.

There’s no accounting for taste, is there?

normandy trader baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022When I saw Normandy Trader just now I thought to myself that with all of the activity going on just outside the port, she’s going to have something of a surprise when she goes around the headland and finds herself in the middle of whatever is going on.

So around the corner she came, and the first thing that I noticed was that she didn’t have all that much freight on board.

She usually carries the shellfish from the Jersey Fishermen’s Co-operative but since Brexit that’s not been a very easy product to export

As I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … after Brexit you can catch as much fish as you like without any let or hindrance, but it counts for absolutely nothing if you don’t have a market in which to sell it.

normandy trader air sea rescue helicopter F-ZBQA Eurocopter EC 145 baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022So here she comes, right into the thick of the action.

A little later on, I spoke to Nathan, her skipper. He told me that he was impressed by the welcome that he received today.

But anyway, while I watched what was going on, the Eurocopter was lowering down someone to where there was a buoy, and then just hauling him up again, with all of the proceedings being surveyed by the small boat directly underneath.

“Definitely a training exercise” I said to myself.

port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022With all of that going on, it was easy to forget that there was other activity too today.

This is a scene that had it happened on any other day, it would have been headline news. It’s the moment when they are about to open the gates and let all of the fishing boats into the inner harbour.

Consequently they are all queueing up there at the gate and there are plenty of others at the Fish Processing Plant who have already unloaded who are now waiting their turn to go inside and ties up for the day.

This would have made quite a dramatic photograph on its own.

charles marie yachts air sea rescue helicopter F-ZBQA Eurocopter EC 145 baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022With Normandy Trader having gone past on her way into port, next on the scene is Charles Marie.

She’s a charter yacht who takes out private parties or else organised day-trips when she isn’t doing anything else. She has about a dozen people on board and I’m sure that they are all having more than their money’s worth this afternoon.

As well as that, I bet that there isn’t much being taught in the yachts at the sailing school that have gone out this afternoon. They probably have other things on their minds too.

normandy trader entering port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022So as Normandy Trader headed into port and F-ZBQA headed back to base for presumably a change of crew, I headed off back home.

And armed with a mug of hot coffee and a handful of brazil nuts, I carried on with my notes from yesterday.

Tea tonight was a taco roll with left-over stuffing. And with the stuffing having been marinating now since Monday night, it was even more delicious than usual.

But now I have other fish to fry after this evening’s marathon. Work is never finished, is it?

There’s a lot more to do tomorrow as I have some plans festering away in the background. I’m ready to have another day off and I’ve only been back at work for a day.

Saturday 10th September 2022 – NOT MY CAT

not my cat place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022Say “hello” to Not My Cat.

There’s a lengthy thread on all forms of Social Media with posts about Not My Cat. Anyone who knows anything about cats will know that they come and go as they please and finding Not My Cat in a house is a regular occurrence.

Finding Not My Cat in a block of flats is even more rare especially when, as far as I know, no-one has a cat and there’s a security door.

But I opened the door to my apartment this morning and there was Not My Cat waiting outside. Quite a young cat by the looks of things. He (or she) ran inside before I could do or say anything, did a tour of the place, found a cosy spot on the sofa, curled up and went to sleep as if he owned it.

When I stroked him he purred quite loudly and I’m sure that he could have settled down here for ever and how I would have liked that. Only the other day I was talking about having a cat around the place. But someone would be missing him somewhere.

A little later I had to go out so I picked him up to carry him out. He ran down the stairs to the front door and as I opened it he skipped off outside like a 5 year-old girl and that was that. He didn’t have any fear or anxiety about going out.

And that was that. What a shame because even though it was only for half an hour or so, I really enjoyed having Not My Cat here.

Maybe it’s a sign from somewhere.

He’s not the first Not My Cat that I’ve had around. Back in the Auvergne there was a FERAL BLACK CAT that roamed around that adopted me during that really bad winter that we had.

Not My Cat wasn’t the only visitor that I had today, and that will explain the mad burst of energy and all of the tidying up just recently. But I’ll tell you more about that in a minute.

When the alarm went off this morning at 07:30 I was straight out of bed which is a surprise by itself and by the time that the 3rd alarm went off at 08:00 I’d had my medication showered and shaved.

When Lidl opened its door at 08:30 I’d already been outside for 5 minutes and by 09:15 I was back here.

It was an expensive shop at Lidl today but I’m not going to miss out on Bags of Brazil nuts at 40% off. And I’m certainly not going to miss out on grapes at €0:99 a kilo. We’re coming to the interesting time of the year.

marité baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022When I pulled up on the car park I noticed that Marité ws out and aboout on her travels again so I went upstairs to fetch the NIKON D500.

Back down here I strolled over to the wall at the end of the headland and took a photo of her.

She was quite far out by the time that I came back down too. It was a windy morning and she had some of her sails unfurled but I bet that the diesel motor was churning away too.

Settling down with a coffee, I had a listen to what was on the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. I can’t remember too much about this particular voyage but we were working on a friend’s boat for some unknown reason, some kind of galleon. We needed to contact someone else about it. That other place asked us for the name of the boat and who owned it. For some unknown reason every time we tried to say his name a different name came out. They couldn’t match it with anything in their database. We must have said it 3 or 4 times and they still didn’t get it right as far as we were concerned.

A little later I was with Liz, wandering around the shops. We came to a newsagent’s where they had some brochures about camping. I had a look at a couple of them. One of them was for a company called Action Canada. The name caught my eye. I noticed that up in Labrador they had a camp site and 3 months there in June, July and August cost something like €3,000. I thought to myself “I could do this”. I picked up a brochure and showed it to Liz. When we had a look, this was a brochure for the British Isles only. I’d picked up the wrong one. I went back to try to find the one for Canada to find that where they had been, the owner had cleared out this particular range. We were scrabbling around looking for this particular brochure in stuff that was piled on the floor but we couldn’t find it. I was thinking to myself “here’s another one that has slipped away isn’t it?”.

Finally I was out with a bus-load of passengers and we were cruising around the back end of Shavington. We ended up on a dirt road. We were making comments about the dirt road etc. All of a sudden we came to a bit where they were tarmacking it. They actually had the whole road blocked off. I reached where these guys were working and asked “which way is past for me?”. He pointed to a steep bank that was probably about 1:2. he said “go down there”. I asked “are you serious?”. He replied “yes”. I thought that at the very least the front end of the coach is going to ground out on the bottom etc. I had the passengers making sure that they were sitting down and strapped in, and ever so slowly went down there and managed to bring the coach down to the bottom. We pulled away and ended up right where we ought to be in this café where we were stopping for lunch. I went in to see the girl. She was telling us that we would have to wait for a bit because we were early. I asked where was the best place to park the coach. She replied “about 1.8 kms away”. I replied “I’m not walking 1.8 kms”. Nerina who was with me said that she’d walk around the local area for a minute and look around. She was telling us about a mine shaft that was here which was why we’d come here for a coffee stop so that the people could see the mineshaft. She started to give the whole rigmarole speech. I thought “if she does this we aren’t going to have the time for the meal” so I had to somehow stop her and organise things properly. It occurred to me sometime during the night that I’d done the whole of the morning’s trip without putting on any music on the PA of the coach. I thought “that’s not like me at all to do that”.

Bang on cue at 11:00 my friends turned up. Someone whom I knew from my time in Manchester and with whom I’d kept in touch ever since, and was even best man when I married. We haven’t seen each other for eight years and so when I heard that he and his wife were passing through the area on their way down south, I invited them to call in.

And this is when Not My Cat appeared.

There was so much to discuss and we were in here for a couple of hours. However the weather improved dramatically and it looked like a nice day so we decided to go for a walk around the headland.

ile de chausey baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022You can see how much the weather had improved by looking at this photo of the Ile de Chausey.

With the sun being behind me the colours on the island came up much better than they notmally do in the afternoon. Perhaps I ought to go out more often in the morning.

There’s a yacht sailing around out there too but that was all the marine traffic that there was just now. Marité must be loitering around somewhere behind the island.

We couldn’t see Jersey today though. Still, I suppose that you can’t have everything.

autogyro pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022We carried on walking along the path towards the port.

There was no-one on the bench at the cabanon vauban but there was something in the iar, for the first time for several days. It’s a different autogyro than the one that we normally see. That one is yellow but this one is white and red.

It seems that this place is becoming much more popular as far as aerial travel goes, with all kinds of different planes putting in an appearance.

We went to la Rafale for a coffee and waited for a while until the crowds down in the town dispersed after the market was over, and then we went to hunt for food.

And just as you might expect, all of the restaurants had closed for the afternoon.

joly france port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022Instead, we went for a walk around the harbour.

As we reached the Ferry terminal where we made a pit stop, we were lucky enough to witness the arrival of one of the Joly France ferries from the Ile de Chausey.

This is the older one of the near-identical pair, as you can tell by her windows. There’s quite a crowd on board and they can’t have appreciated the weather that was out there in the bay this morning.

While we were there on the quayside at the fish-processing plant we saw the tractor and trailer belonging to Les Bouchots de Chausey pull up, as well as another outfit that I didn’t recognise. It looks as if the shell-fishing boats are out there working today.

briscard chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022One place that I wanted to visit seeing as I was out on my travels with people who could pick me up if I fell over was the chantier naval

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, there’s a shell-fishing boat in the chantier naval that I haven’t been able to identify and I wanted to see who she might be.

We headed off that way and that enabled us to identify that it is Briscard who is in there next to Peccavi.

Hhaving ascertained that we wandered back into the town to find food. Our first choice didn’t serve meals on a Saturday evening so we ended up at the pizzeria. They also served Italian food and to my surprise it was no problem at all to rustle up a vegan meal for me.

It was quite delicious too.

bar ephemère chez maguie place pelley Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022On the way home we went up the Rue des Juifs where we would look down on the boulodrome.

The Bar Ephemère, Chez Maguie, is still here and in the twilight it’s looking quite nice with all of the lights that illuminate it.

Whether it will be here there next year though is something else completely. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that the residents of the building opposite have launched a petition to oppose it.

They were successful in obtaining a ban on the Big Wheel that we used to have here and that has probably given them courage. If only we had a maire and a town council who would do their job and respect the wishes of the other residents.

It’s quite true that I moan about the tourists being here, but even I realise that without them this town would be a very poor place.

old cars chevrolet covette stingray rue des juifs Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022Something else that we saw on the way up was a Chevrolet Corvette Stingray.

It’s been quite a while since we featured an old car in these pages. For some reason or other we don’t seem to see so many these days, so it cheered me up to see something like this just parked at the side of the road.

This is one of the third generation of Corvettes, one of the “T-top” versions, and it’s a later rather than earlier model because of the bumpers. The earlier ones had a traditional metal bumper but in 1973 it was replaced with the plastic “collision bumper”.

port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022We stopped a little higher up for me to catch my breath, and to overlook the port.

Now that it’s going dark and all of the lights are on, it’s looking quite dramatic down there tonight. All of the lights reflecting off the water, and the lights at the town of Carolles down there underneath the Pointe de Carolles.

The ferry terminal is still lit up, although it looks as if all of the ferries are now back home. Presumably they are cleaning them out ready for work tomorrow.

Looking at this photo, I really ought to start to go out again at night like I used to.

sunset baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022Back in the car park my friends prepared to leave to go back to their camp site.

We watched the sun go down while we were there but it wasn’t as spectacular as some that we have seen. It actually sunk below the horizon a while back and all that we are seeing is the reflection of the sun in the sky.

We’ve seen some good ones of those in the past. One in particular that I remember was on 21st June one night when I was in Scotland years ago when I drove my coach up to the top of a hill near Stirling in Scotland at celestial midnight and watched the night fail to go dark and the sun to rise a few hours later.

After they had left I went back in. 135% of my daily activity when I’m having major mobility issues is something of an achievement. And so I’m going to bed while I still can. I’ll probably pay for all of this tomorrow but who cares?

Live for today, regardless of what happens tomorrow.

Thursday 1st September 2022 – THE DECISION …

hermitage donville les bains Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo June 2022… about whether or not I ought to go for a walk this afternoon was taken out of my hands today.

For the first time since I don’t know how long (several months, probably) it was pouring with rain outside this afternoon. You can tell that by simply looking at the photos of “The Hermitage” – the old seafront hotel that is now converted into apartments. You can hardly see it through the drizzle

In the past though, I’ve been out for a walk or two in weather much wetter than this but I had a feeling that today this was nature’s way of telling me to go back inside and rest.

And rest I did. No alarm this morning so I stayed in bed until 09:30 and I needed it too.

Moving about was a little easier. Only a little though. I was still aching in my knee, my hip and now my groin. I know that yesterday I’d performed 180% of my daily activity according to the fitbit but I’ve done far more than that in the past without feeling as bad as I did.

There was no rush to start work today. I had a nice, leisurely morning and in the end I didn’t even sort out any music to which to listen this week. I ended up instead listening to the old-time radio and my favourite radio programmes from the 40s, 50s and 60s.

Eventually though I started on transcribing all of the notes on the dictaphone. There were two days’ worth – yesterday and today, and all told there were tons of them. Having dealt with all of yesterday’s, I made a start on today’s. I was doing something with the taxis again last night. Someone phoned up – it might have been my brother probably, I dunno – and was shouting at the girl who was answering the phone and doing the radio. In the end I took over. It took me a whole while to chisel out the information from him bit by bit. It was basically “Friday 12:50 or earlier if possible, pickup from Glasgow and take him to Northampton”. It took an age to chisel all of that out of him bit by bit. Everyone was short-tempered by the time that I finished this call.

And then I can’t remember much of this bit. There was Nerina and I, once again having our marriage difficulties. She and her friend had once ganged up on me once playing cards, even going as far as to look up the rules about borrowing cards from the pack which I thought was totally unnecessary. anyway they were there working on some other stuff again about that. There was much more to this but I can’t remember it now.

And Zero was back last night. After all this time and how nice it was to see her smiling face, even if it was only for a fleeting second. We were tidying up in her school classroom and she was one of the last to be there. She went home and we said that we’d be round later. There was me and another girl but I can’t remember who she was. We were getting close to finishing. The guy in charge said that he was leaving. We said that the place wasn’t tidied up yet so he replied “you stay and finish it but don’t take too long”. There was just the 2 of us there and we were tidying it up. The girl with me thought that she’d telephoned to Zero to say that we’d be round in a few minutes. I could tell that the conversation was going quite badly. It finished off by her saying “well, we’ll see you tomorrow”. I wondered what was going on. It turned out, so she said, that Zero’s father who was the last person to leave was probably not feeling too well so they’d be spending a lot of time dealing with him. I said “I’m having to go tomorrow so we could I suppose always turn up unexpectedly tomorrow to say goodbye. We did that once before and it went quite well but I’d much rather have gone round on a day when we’d been invited and when people were expecting us. That way there’s no question of having any kind of conflicting interest etc”. I forgot to mention that after the girl with me had hung up on Zero she went and sat down somewhere and put her feet up. I was still wrestling with these 3 enormous boxes. I had to insist that she got back on her feet and came to help me otherwise I would never finish this lot either and I’d be here all night.

Once again I could see that all my best-laid plans here were coming to nought even before we’d gone very far at all, and that’s just typical whenever any of my interests seemed to coincide with those of anyone else back in the old days. No wonder I prefer to live alone. It’s far less complicated.

There I was with a date with Zero and everyone else was deliberately pushing spokes into the wheels. Just as always.

All that remained (for the moment at least) was the blog entry for yesterday. That took a total age to write but at least it’s all nicely on line now. Without the photos though. I couldn’t stomach working my way through 97 of those this afternoon. I wasn’t in the mood.

The proceedings were interrupted by me finally deciding to risk my knee on an adventure outside.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo June 2022And despite the poor weather I went off for a stroll across the car park to the wall.

With the weather being as it was, I wasn’t expecting to see anyone down there on the beach so the half-a-dozen or so people down there took me somewhat by surprise. I don’t know what they were doing down there but at least whatever it was, they had plenty of beach to do it on.

It was a waste of time looking out to sea because the mist was pretty thick out there and you couldn’t see anything.

Going to to St Helier yesterday was a good plan because I had the last of the decent weather. It would have been miserable out there today.

But this took me completely by surprise.

bus place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo June 2022This photo isn’t about Caliburn. You can see the bus stop over there on the left-hand edge of the photograph so why is the bus parking there? And for not the least of the reasons being that any passengers would have to go into the street in order to board the bus.

You can see the rain too. It was pretty miserable but I can’t say that I’m sorry that we’ve finally had some rain.

Before I went back in I was buttonholed by one of my neighbours who attracted my attention from her second-floor window. We had quite an impromptu chat at distance, with me being slowly and inevitable soaked to the skin.

Back in the flat I had a nice strong coffee and then carried on with the blog until it was finished (for now) and then I breathed a sigh of relief.

Tea tonight was a left-over curry with mushrooms, potatoes and the left-over stuffing along with a big handful of peanuts. And I do have to say that it was the best one that I’ve ever made.

A quiet evening now and I’ll probably end up with an early night. It’s still raining and my legs are still hurting and who knows how all of this will pan out.

We’ll all find out tomorrow

Friday 5th August 2022 – HAVING HAD SOMETHING …

… of a quiet day today, no-one was more surprised than me to notice that I’ve performed more than 109% of my daily activity today.

That’s a whole lot of nothing.

It was raining when I returned home yesterday evening and it kept on at it for a while during the night. And at 02:50 I was awoken by the most enormous clap of thunder

No alarm this morning, which was probably just as well, and it was 09:40 when I finally struggled to my feet.

Toast for breakfast, and while I was munching thereupon, I was chatting to Liz on the internet, and then I nipped out for a walk.

First stop was at the pharmacy where I picked up some of the medication. Not all of it because they didn’t have it all in stock. I had to return later.

outdoor market herbert hooverplein Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo August 2022There were plenty of other things that I needed to do so I headed off further into town.

It’s Friday morning so the open-air street market in the town will be in full swing. Here on the Herbert Hooverplein though there are quite a few stalls that seem to be missing.

What with it being August I suppose that a lot of stallholders have gone away on holiday. Even market traders are entitled to a few weeks by the seaside on the Costa Stella.

And judging by the size of the crowd here at the market, many of the customers are away at the Costa Stella too

From the Herbert Hooverplein I pushed on down towards the town centre.

rebuilt office building tiensestraat Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo August 2022Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we have been following the fortunes of the renovation of an old office building on the corner of the Tiensestraat and the Rector de Somerplein over the last few months.

In the three months during which I’ve been absent it looks as if the work has now finished and it’s become a Thai restaurant.

Good luck to them in their new venture and all of that but it seems to me that everything in Leuven is becoming a restaurant. It would be nice if once in a while something else would open in the town You can’t move around the town centre without tripping over a table and chair.

Anyway, that’s not my problem, is it?

marquee velodrome brusselsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo August 2022My problem lay at the far end of the Brusselsstraat so I headed off that way, passing by the velodrome to see how things were shaping up there.

Regular Readers of this rubbish will have seen in the past that there was some hardstanding laid down at the back of the velodrome where on the odd occasion they erect a marquee and have some entertainment.

This morning they had a series of large beach parasols erected and there was a crowd of people loitering around there. And so the inquisitive me took a photo and went over to see what was going on.

musicians marquee velodrome brusselsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo August 2022There was quite a crowd gathered around the marquee watching a performance.

There was some kind of youth orchestra playing away underneath and there were more than enough musicians to fill the place. Not that I know all that much about orchestrations but surely there must be a point where one violinist more or less won’t add anything to the sound that’s being created.

And why would they have a conductor conducting the crowd rather than the musicians? The cynic inside me suggested that she might be going to collect the fares at some point, but anyone less than 40 years old wouldn’t understand that.

However, the people there were quite enjoying the entertainment so I left them to it.

crane building site brusselsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo August 2022Not that I went very far, actually.

One of my many eternal gripes (sometimes I think that these notes are nothing more than a whiner’s charter) is the slow speed in which they are redeveloping the site of St Pieter’s Hospital, but it doesn’t look as if it will be a vacant demolition site much longer.

There at the back of the site is the girder structure of what is almost certainly a crane. I suppose that they’ll be erecting that sometime soon and if we are lucky some kind of construction might begin.

But they’ll nedd to do something about the building in the background. No-one is going to pay the kind of money that they’ll be demanding for these luxury flats if that’s the view that they see from their balconies. It’s actually areally nice building but it needs a good clean.

building site brusselsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo August 2022Another thing that regular readers of this rubbish will recall seeing are the enormous piles of builders’ rubble and earth that were just here.

By the looks of things, much of that has now disappeared. Well, it hasn’t actually disappeared – it’s just been flattened down into some kind of raised flat surface. I doubt that they’ll be building on top of that as it doesn’t look very stable so maybe it’s just a landscaping feature.

Further down towards the end of the site, work on the building that they are erecting is proceeding and I’ll wander down that way in due course for a closer look before I go hope.

medieval tower city walls Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo August 2022Just one more thing on which I need to check while I’m here.

After they knocked down the building that was here, an old medieval tower from the days when the city walls ran through here was revealed. While the building work is going on, they’ve practically armour-plated the tower so that nothing untoward happens to it.

This kind of thing cheers me up immensely and I like to keep an eye on it.

The cynic inside me has seen far too many instances of old buildings that are in the way of modern development being blighted by a “suspicious fire” (the property developer’s best friend) or accidently being flattened by a bulldozer “out of control”.

new building kapucijnenvoer Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo August 2022On my way down to the end of the street I went past the Kapucijnenvoer.

There’s one building here that we have seen rise up from a demolition site and at one stage it was going up like a mushroom. However the work slowed down the close it came to completion and the last time that we were here we thought that it couldn’t be far off.

It’s almost done and it does look superficially quite nice, although we have seen a few things that indicate that beauty is only skin deep.

It’s quite dark too, especially down at the lower storeys. And this is midday at the height of summer too. Imagine what it must be like in winter.

blauwe hoek Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo August 2022At the end of the Brusselsestraat is the Blaue Hoek – the “Blue Corner”, and here they’ve been relating the sewers as they have been in the past elsewhere in the vicinity.

They’ve remodelled the roundabout too while they were at it and by the looks of things it’ll all be finished before too long although it doesn’t look too easy for the buses to negotiate it.

On the corner on the left just out of shot is “Exotic World”, the big supermarket that sells a great deal of Asian and Middle-Eastern food. This is where I’ve come for my spices, and where I discovered that I’d forgotten to bring the list with me so I had to invent it out of the back of my memory.

THey also had some tofu in spinach sauce so I bought a box, thinking that this would make a nice base for a giant curry one of these days, whenever I have enough room in the freezer.

building site Goudsbloemstraat Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo August 2022having been on the bus to the hospital I haven’t been keeping an eye on the building work around this end of town.

When we were here last time, they had just cleared an old site in the Goudsbloemstraat, presumably to build more flats in the town, and so I added it to my list of places to visit.

Accompanied by some old geezer who insisted on chatting to me even though I couldn’t understand a word that he was saying, I went down there to find that they’ve not started on anything yet, although they have helpfully put an image of what they would like prospective purchasers to believe that they are going to build.

What? Meefar too cynical for my own good? Perish the thought, hey!

building site hertstraat Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo August 2022There’s another building site not too far away that we stumbled upon by accident.

On the corner of the Hertstraat and Sint Jacobsplein was a large three-storey building with garages behind. They’ve now demolished that but have left the façade standing.

Having sealed off the adjoining party wall they’ll be commencing to build something modern that will be fronted by the older façade. That’s quite a “Belgian” way of modernising the housing stock in areas of historical beauty and there’ evidence of that all over the country.

If you look closely in the distance at a modern building over on the left, then the idea of doing something with this facade has to be more appealing.

building site kapucijnenvoer Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo August 2022Finally, for the moment, we’ll go down into the Kapucijnenvoer. This is another building on which we’ve been keeping an eye over the last year or so.

Three months ago they were just beginning to install the third storey. Today, not only are there four storeys in the front portion, the rear portion is even higher than that and has been clad in brickwork.

That’s what I call “quick work”, especially for Belgium where they are not know for rapidity.

The walk back to my place was something of a struggle. However I did bump into the Centre manager who is on holiday for a week, hence the unsatisfactory room that I have.

Well, it would be satisfactory to anyone who could make it up the stairs quite easily, but that’s not me.

This afternoon I’ve been choosing music for future radio programmes and I’ve not chosen anything like as many as I would normally do. I must be slipping.

At 17:00 I nipped out for the rest of the medication and then came back to carry on with the music later until Alison messaged me to say that she was on her way into town, which was a pleasant surprise.

river dilje oudlievevroustraat Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo August 2022When she arrived I was already waiting on the corner so she picked me up and we went to park the car.

Walking into the town centre via the back streets we walked across the bridge in the Oudlievevroustraat that goes over the River Dijle. This is one area of the city in which I would like to live, as you can see why.

It’s very olde-worlde and rustic and although some of the buildings here are quite modern, they aren’t intrusive. I have to say that I like Leuven and as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, there was a moment when I was contemplating living here.

How I would have coped with Belgian “authoritarianism” is anyone’s guess.

We went to the Greenway Restaurant for food as usual. After all, it is pretty good vegan food, and then into the town cente for a coffee and a chat at one of the cafés in the Grote Markt. We spent some time discussing our future plans. Not that I have too many these days but nevertheless …

festfiets brusselsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo August 2022Walking back to the car we encountered a piece of typical Belgian humour.

Belgians – in fact, most people on the mainland – can handle their consumption of alcohol much better than the Brits so there are al kinds of exciting things that happen here that you would never see over in the Perfidious Albion.

One of them is the Bicycling Bar. The 12 people on the side of the bar are pedalling away like crazy, there are several passengers, one person steering and a bartender.

This is one of the things that is typically Belgian and would be unheard-of in many other countries.

feestfiets minderbroerstraat Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo August 2022We encountered them a little later on the way back to Alison’s car.

Going like the clappers, they came past offering us drinks as they did so. I don’t actually drink but I’m surprised that Alison didn’t run after them.

It’s one of the things that makes you glad that you live over here in the real world where things like this are taken for granted.

Back in the car Alison drove me home and we said “goodnight”.

There were things to do, like listen to the dictaphone and then write up my notes. There was a group of us last night. We were all away at our activities for summer. There was a mix of ages, kids, adults, and all put in various groups for all kinds of different things. One thing I noticed was that you would not find people of the same age and opposite sex in the same groups. As a young boy I wouldn’t have any young girls in my group, older women wouldn’t have any older men in their group. No-one got to think that this was suspicious except me. As time went on I began to raise this subject with one of the girls. She replied “yes, the woman who organises the rota does this deliberately. She’s done it every year. She tries to keep people apart so they don’t form any unwelcome attachments”. Of course as a young boy this was disappointing for me because I was going there with the whole idea of forming unwelcome attachments. This girl was telling me a few more stories about everything. We agreed between us that it was generally a bad thing because people had to learn how to handle this kind of contact and how to deal with it. She said “yes, that’s why so many girls she knew suddenly became pregnant as soon as they were 18 because that was when they were all out in the Big Wide World and there was no-one supervising them and they didn’t know how to behave”. Not just the girls but the girls and the boys. We agreed that it was a pretty miserable state of affairs when kids weren’t allowed to follow their own natural instincts about finding themselves girlfriends etc amongst people they knew where they could form relationships that would be under the eye of the other people who could give them the correct kind of guidance to let these relationships develop.

There had been a heavy snowfall in the Auvergne. I had a real-time satellite photo viewer on my computer where I could zoom in and see the state of places on Earth with photos take at the very minute. Everyone reckoned that I ought to see my roof because of the weight of the snow that was on it. I tried to zoom in on this but for some unknown reason it just wouldn’t zoom in at all on the correct area. It was being unco-operative so I rang up the helpdesk to ask them for the geographical co-ordinates of Virlet so that I could type them in and that could be a better start. They gave them to me but they wanted to know which Virlet it was. “Near Clermont-Ferrand?” so I replied “yes”. They gave them to me and I put them in but it still wouldn’t zoom in correctly at all. I was showing someone how this worked which of course is guaranteed to make it not work so we went to have a look at another area by a railway main line that I knew where there were some interesting cars. Again it just wouldn’t zoom in. It was a shame. It seemed that the wheel on the mouse that zoomed in wasn’t seeming to do anything and the zoom was so slow that for all intents and purposes it was absolutely useless. I was really disappointed with this because I’ve had much better results with this program in the past and I couldn’t understand what it was that I was doing wrong this time that was stopping me having the same results particularly as I had people round to whom I wanted to show it off

My brother had brought some sandwiches for lunch while he was working as a self-employed something-or-other. They had an advert tucked in that the woman who made them was looking for help. He was thinking about applying but didn’t but my mother was nagging him along saying he had only half an hour to do it. In the end he phoned up and had a good chat to her. We could only hear one side of the conversation but it appeared that basically she was looking for pensioners. He had a look round and said “ohh, there’s 3 in here, maybe 4” looking at me. He started to talk to her about the pensioners who lived in this house and what they could or couldn’t do as far as making sandwiches went.

I was with a coach proprietor whom I knew and all that lot and someone turned up in a Ford Cortina estate, a dark blue MkIII. They had a dome roof on it, perspex, and it was elongated. I went to take some photos of it but I couldn’t make my camera work. In the end they drove it into the garage and on the pit so I could go down underneath. I took 1 or 2 photos but I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to take the bodywork. Brian was saying “you took some, didn’t you?”. “Yes” I replied “but I can take photos of Cortina chassis any day of the week as I have enough of my own. It was the upper body that was interesting me with the perspex dome. There were some kids messing around causing problems stopping people photographing things. My photo from underneath turned out OK but it was one of the bodywork and the perspex roof that I wanted to take that weren’t working at all and I felt quite annoyed by that.

There’s a very early start in the morning so right now I’m off to bed, and quite right too. It’s a long way home and I need to be at my best, I suppose. First problem is to make it to the station and that’s not going to be easy.

It’s not something to which I’m looking forward at all.

Sunday 16th January 2022 – NO WONDER …

… that I’m exhausted. I must have travelled miles during the night.

One of these days they’ll invent an ethereal fitbit that will track my travels when I’m off on my nocturnal voyages and I bet that the distances that I travel will be interesting.

Anyway, last night I had a very disturbed night (as you will discover as you read on) and despite being awake on several occasions at some kind of ridiculous hour, there was no danger whatever of my leaving my stinking pit until I was good and ready – which was about 10:15 this morning.

After the medication I had to download a few files off the portable computer that I take with me to Leuven, and then I could pair off the music for the next radio programme that I’ll be preparing on Monday. They went together quite well too, but not as well as they did a couple of weeks ago.

For a few hours afterwards I had a little laze about not doing too much, except for having my brunch. Porridge and thick slices of toast with strong black coffee.

Round about 15:00 I wandered into the kitchen and made a big load of pizza dough, seeing as I’d run out. And I do have to say that for some reason that I can’t understand, it turned out to be one of the nicest doughs that I have made.

Nice and soft and smooth and silky.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022having put the dough on the side in order to rise, I went off for my post-prandial perambulation around the promontory.

First port of call quite obviously was the beach to see what was happening down there today. It’s been a good few days since I stuck my head over the parapet.

Plenty of beach this afternoon but there wasn’t anyone down there on it, although I did notice a couple of people walking down the steps from the Rue du Nord going off for an afternoon ramble.

And while I was at it, I was being photo-bombed by a seagull on its way out to sea.

rainstorm ile de chausey baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022While I was there, I was having a good look around out to sea to see if there was anything happening there.

There wasn’t a single boat that I could see out there this afternoon which was a surprise because it was actually quite a nice afternoon, for a change. And after the last few days of winter, it’s warmed up somewhat and now much more like March again.

But there was a rainstorm brewing out at sea in the bay. You can see it out there just offshore, obscuring the Ile de Chausey. Luckily there wasn’t very much wind to speak of this afternoon so there wasn’t very much danger of me being caught in it.

rainstorm sun on sea baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022This afternoon we were having yet more beautiful lighting effects. It’s one of the things that I like about this time of the year.

We were having another one of these really nice TORA TORA TORA light displays where the sun comes streaming through the gaps in the clouds.

And with the rainstorm that was going on out at sea it was producing some quite interesting effects. It was a shame that there were so few people out there watching it. There can’t have been more than a dozen or so people out there on the path up to the lighthouse this afternoon.

sun baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022And out in the Baie de Mont St Michel things were even nicer.

As well as the TORA TORA TORA effect we had a spotlight or two illuminating the water as the sun shone brightly through a gap in the clouds.

The rainstorm in the distance was obscuring the Brittany coast but the sea was nice and bright there.

Wouldn’t it have been nice to have caught a yacht or a fishing boat sailing through the beams of light? But you can’t have everything of course.

cabanon vauban people on bench pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022There actually were some people down there admiring the view as well.

Sitting down there by the cabanon vauban was someone on the bench watching the sunset. And someone further out sitting on the rocks at the end of the headland. It’s a shame that there weren’t any boats out there for us to see this afternoon.

But on another more depressing note, the way things are these days, we have to keep a lose eye on people sitting like that on the rocks. The events of mid-November are still etched quite firmly in my mind.

container pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022But never mind that for the moment. There were things that were much more interesting going on that require some investigation.

The skip that’s down here on the headland gives us a clue, and my hat goes off to the driver who dropped it off here.

What is going on right now is concerning the group of people who are planning on opening a museum in one of the abandoned World War II bunkers. They have been given permission to go into another one of the closed-up bumkers and clear it out of 75 years-worth of debris and see what they can find.

pivot for cannon bunker pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022and almost straight away, they uncovered something interesting.

This is the pivot of a field gun – either a 105mm or a 128mm quite likely, that would be used as coastal defence to protect the area from either an invasion landing or a commando raid.

Mind you, when the Germans launched a commando raid on Granville on 9th March 1945, whatever artillery was here in the bunker didn’t do much good to repel the attack.

And, I suppose, as they go further into the bunker, the more and more artefacts will be discovered.

interior of bunker pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022But at least they have cleaned the walls of the bunker we can actually see the markings that the Germans painted on the walls.

These are presumably unit identification marks, although I don’t know which units are being indicated.

What I’ll have to do is to have a wander around the area during working hours and hope that I can lay my hands on one of the people clearing out the bunker. The fact that the skip is still here seems to indicate that they will be back here using it at the beginning of next week at least.

And so I’ll make a mental note.

storm waves on sea wall port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022although I said that there was very little wind today, there must be something going on somewhere out at sea.

As I walked around the headland I could hear the sound of the waves smacking into the harbour wall so I was keen to see exactly what was going on. Consequently I pushed on along the path towards the post.

It wasn’t much of a show, unfortunately. The waves were more powerful that I was expecting in view of the weather conditions, but they weren’t producing anything spectacular when they crashed into the wall. There was plenty of noise but none of it to any great effect.

les bouchots de chausey unloading port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022Meanwhile, over at the fish-processing plant, there was plenty of activity going on.

Les Bouchots de Chausey, one of the little inshore shell-fishing boats, was in port this afternoon, working on a Sunday. And she must have had quite a good catch today.

She’s busy unloading her boxes of shellfish onto the trailer at the back of the tractor over there and you can tell from the amount on there that she’s had a profitable day.

A few weeks ago I encountered the tractor hauling the loaded trailer off through the town and out towards Donville les Bains. And one of these days I’ll follow her to find out where she goes.

gerlean chausiaise joly france chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022When I came back from Paris yesterday I could see that there was little change in the chantier naval.

As we can see, Gerlean is still in there. All on her own, too. No-one else has come in to join her while I was away.

Over at the ferry terminal however, we have the usual suspects over there. Chausiaise, the little freighter, is at the head of the queue and behind her is the older of the two Joly France boats – the one without the step in the stern.

ch638749 pescadore ch907879 l'arc en ciel ch898472 cap lihou l'omerta port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022On the way back home I went to look at the boats moored in the inner harbour, not the least of the reasons being that L’Omerta was actually tied up for once at the pier.

We also had Pescadore, L’Arc-en-Ciel, Cap Lihou and a couple of other boats that I didn’t recognise tied up down there too.

And of course there were the two Channel Island Ferries, Victor Hugo and Granville, moored up in the background looking as if they aren’t ever going to move again.

Back here, I made myself a coffee and then sat down to transcribe the dictaphone notes from last night.

In the middle if the night I awoke as I was counting something and trying to write down these numbers with a pen but I couldn’t find a pen that worked. But I can’t remember now what it was that I was counting and I have no idea. It was like a table of numbers or something and this was just one particular row of these numbers but I can’t remember what they were for.

Later on there was a pile of girls, probably about 6 or 7 years of age having to stand in a line and talk about where they came from etc. One girl came from Africa but was a white girl said “Africa, yes, that’s me. That’s where I come from. That’s my home town” etc but I couldn’t help the feeling that this was being transferred over to me as well. I had ti edit the view of this concert because the ratio was wrong – something like 1.5:1 instead of 1.1. If I were to do that I would lose a lot of everything. I had to have the focusing right and the general screen capture size right in order to do it. And I’m impressed with the technical details and terms that I can spout when I’m asleep .

After that there was a girl aged about 10 or 11 or so in a swimsuit and bonnet. Suddenly she was attacked and killed. That cheered me up because it meant that there would be a place for me to go and live on an island so I put myself in the queue but there was someone there in charge, some fellow or person, who said “there are still too many people so the queue needs to be cut down by half” which meant that I wasn’t going to go this time. I would have to wait for something equally dramatic next time before I could go. And isn’t that all a totally gruesome idea?

Last night we were also prisoners of war in something like COLDITZ CASTLE in a high security room with a few of us in it. We tried to escape once but the guy in charge was not very good and not only had we all been recaptured before we’d even done anything he’d had some confidential papers captured too and he’d been shot although not seriously. We were there again and we tried to have another go at escaping. The idea was to lull this commandant person into a false sense of security then when one of his guards would go out to do something, we could overpower the reduced numbers and escape from the castle like Colditz. So one of the guards had to leave. As he pulled up the zip on his ski suit it passed a certain point that someone had indicated with a blue “X”. This meant that the escape was on. He went and someone pulled on the commandant a gun that he had hidden and gathered up quickly everything that they needed. Then it was a case of making the commandant unconscious so someone hit him with the barrel of the gun. It didn’t work so I hit him about 3 or 4 times but that still didn’t knock him unconscious so in the end someone else took over. We then set the room alight. Someone wasn’t happy about leaving the commandant there with this room alight. I replied that every time he flew over Germany he dropped one bomb that killed far more people than just one without any scruples whatsoever

Interestingly, later on we were all in this Prisoner of War camp in this high-security room with the commandant and a couple of the guards. We’d already tried to escape once but had been overpowered by weight of numbers and the guy in charge had been shot, not seriously. They captured all of our confidential papers and I tried to drum it in to the idea thatwe should keep all of the papers like that together so that they could be thrown into the fire early etc. In the end we made ourselves ready. One of the German guards was called away as we hoped leaving the commandant behind. When this guy’s zip was drawn up to a certain spot it was as if a blue “X” appeared on his zip when the two sides were drawn together. That was our signal so we overpowered the commandant and captured his papers etc and prepared to leave. We set fire to the room with some accelerant. Someone was upset about that. We should rescue the captain but I said that each bomb that they had dropped over German territory would kill far more people than just one and that they’d dropped that bomb without any scruples whatsoever. In the end they prepared to scramble down out of this building and this railway cutting on their way off. So what was happening there that I had an almost-identical dream twice I have no idea.

And then I had my house up for sale. There was a group of us round at my other place tidying it up because it was really dirty, building rubble and brick dust everywhere that I was trying to vacuum, not very successfully. My friend from Belfast grabbed hold of me and asked me what was going on about Luxembourg. I replied that they were worried that the whole world was going to be flooded with cheap labour from the Arab states. He asked what I propsed to do about it and I replied “put a tax on foreign workers”. He said that that wouldn’t go down very well with some people. I replied “never mind. It can’t be helped”. We had to keep checking the door to make sure that a girl I know from Luxembourg wasn’t overhearing. We came round to what we were going to do about the apartment that was for sale. Someone told me to be careful and not to accept the first offer I received. I replied “I’m well aware of that” and told them a few stories about apartments that had been sold. “I’m prepared to wait for the right moment” even if it meant leaving it empty or putting it down in ten, but I’d sell it”. Then we were all called together and had to collect our security passes. Helen’s security pass and Steve’s security pass, I’d been involved in the preparation of those and I still had the boxes in which their cards came so I had to be very careful to give the right number to the guy taking the details that whoever he looked at had, he would write down the right number, mine and not one of the other two’s, and that he wouldn’t duplicate the numbers and leave one of the cards out.

Finally there was something about a Land Rover. I was with a friend last night. We’d gone to see a van that I’d just bought – that he’d bought on my behalf. An LDV. We didn’t actually get to see the LDv – we were sidetracked as usual by a Land Rover that he owned. It was a diesel and we were taking about this diesel Land Rover. I mentioned that I owned a Minerva that brought a few smiles from around various people. In the end we ended up back at his wife’s. She was talking about his cars, saying that he had far too many and it was high time that he did a few things with one. Something came up about another Land Rover that he owned, how something had to be done with that so that the Land Rover that we had seen at someone else’s house could be brought home. he said something about going to fetch the van that I’d bought but I asked him “where are you going to park it?”. There was no room in his drive at all. he saw the wisdom in that and said that we can do that another time. By then the wife and I were out somewhere. We had Zero with us. We’d been driving around but I thought that we’d not been going the right way to get back to her house. Instead she took another way. We were waiting to turn right at a road junction but were there for hours, even with people passing on the right to go straight on. Eventually we reached this other house which was in total chaos worse than mine. She was telling these guys about her husband’s new Land Rover. Zero was there with these other kids, all playing with a huge pile of toys and everything. It just seemed to peter out at that particular moment, this story, which was rather a shame.

It’s no surprise that I was exhausted after all of this travelling about. And what a shame that the final voyage petered out just as it was becoming interesting.

vegan pizza place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022But there was so much of it that I had to break off in the middle to go and deal with the dough.

It had risen beautifully so I split it into three batches. Two of them went into the freezer and the third one was rolled out and put in the pizza tray to proof for an hour or so while I carried on with “War and Peace”.

After the dough had risen nicely I assembled the pizza and put it in the oven to bake.

And when it was finished, it looked totally beautiful. And I do have to say that it tasted even better, even if I had forgotten to use the remaining half-pepper that I had brought out of the fridge.

So having written my notes, I’m off to bed. It’s a 06:00 start tomorrow as I have a radio programme to prepare. There’s the physio tomorrow afternoon too, so I need to be at my best.

But we’ll see how tomorrow unfolds, especially if I travel as far during the night as I did last night.

Wednesday 29th December 2021 – THERE’S ONE THING …

… about all of these issues I’m having about trying to have some work done on Caliburn during the Christmas – New Year period. And that is that I’m having plenty of exercise. My fitbit tells me that I’m up to 99% of my daily activity and as soon as I press “send” on this journal entry, I’ll take the rubbish out and push it up to over 100%.

This morning I struggled – really struggled – to leave my bed when the alarm went off at 07:30 (yes, I remembered to set it this morning). Having had a late night last night was probably responsible for that but I was having a chat with someone as well as doing some interesting work.

While I was asleep I was off on my travels again. THere was a big concert in Canterbury with loads of groups on. I was down there and I tracked down one or two but in the end someone pointed me to the direction of the organisers who had a shop there too selling all amplifiers second hand, everything that you need. The tod me who was on and when and where so I made a list of groups whom I wanted to see. I was talking to a couple of boys about this as well and writing a list of what I wanted to see. I happened to mention that I was a bassist and that excited them tremendously. They were very keen so I gave them my phone number. Then I was back in Crewe, making everything ready to leave to go back down to Canterbury again. I set off and I was a good way down the road towards the motorway. It was one of those situations where you had to drive west to pick up the motorway on order to go south-east but I realised that I didn’t have my jacket. I didn’t have the list of acts that I wanted to see or where they were playing. I set off anyway thinking that I can redo all of this when I arrive

There was also something about me being in a shop. The floor was very wet. All of a sudden my knee gave way again and I crashed to the floor. Of course everyone came to help me. I said that it wasn’t the first time that I’d had a similar incident to this – in this shop a couple of years ago. She went off to fetch the accident book to go and look through it to see if I was there and to see what remedy they had done to help me ease the problem that I was having

Later on there was something about some kind of list. It might have been a music list or a shopping list, I can’t remember now. Someone had to take me back home for something because my guitar was playing up. Through a few of the songs you could actually hear my guitar, a really searing Gibson lead guitar playing that wasn’t on the original copies. There was something else too but I can’t remember what that was.

And even later during the night I was back with this big rock concert again, going down to Dover rather than Canterbury) to watch these groups. On Saturday I’d been out with Liz and mentioned it to her but she didn’t know what was happening about the snooker final or anything like that. She said that she could make it if there was nothing preventing her. I had to go to find out which groups they were. I could remember four of them so in order to remember them I wrote them down on my stomach in biro and went back to see Liz to tell her, and wouldn’t my stomach be a gruesome sight for anyone?

After the medication and checking my messages I made a long-awaited start on work – and attacked a pile of dictaphone notes. As well as todays, there are a few previous days that have been transcribed and added in where they belong. There are now only … gulp … 27 entries that need to be transcribed before I’m up-to-date enough to let things slide into arrears once again.

When I’d had enough of that I attacked a sound file of an interview that we did a few weeks ago. The content of this one is far the best of all that we interviewed but the quality isn’t up to much.

And there’s so much that needs to fall by the wayside too. There’s still 4:30 to edit on the first pass but by the time that I knocked off, already over 50% has gone into the bin. There will be much more taken out oo, but I have yet another cunning plan for that.

Brain of Britain forgot to make his hummus this morning so I ended up with vegan grated cheese sandwiches for lunch. It made a nice change, I can tell you.

During the morning I made a couple of phone calls – firstly to my doctor for an appointment to renew my physiotherapy prescription and to obtain the final dose of Aranesp.

The second one was to the garage where Caliburn is currently residing. I should have called them last night but with Rosemary on the phone for as long as she was, they were closed when I called them.

Caliburn wasn’t ready, he told me, which was just as well that I didn’t turn up uninvited yesterday evening, but he should be ready at 17:00. And so accordingly at 15:30 I set off.

beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021Even though it’s a little earlier than normal, I went off to have a look at what was happening on the beach.

Firstly, it has to be said that there wasn’t very much beach for anything to be happening upon right now. The tide was well in and there was hardly enough room to swing a cat down there.

There was however a couple of brave people down there this afternoon on the little piece of beach that was at the foot of the steps. I’ve no idea what they were doing as I couldn’t see that far out and I only had the NIKON 1 J5 with its standard lens.

port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021From there I walked around the back of the building and down to the corner of the Boulevard Vaufleury and the Boulevard des 2E et 202E de Ligne.

There were a few trawlers in the inner harbour, so I noticed, but none of the little shellfish boats that I could see. The outher harbour was quite empty for a change and even the yellow Cherie d’Amour seemed to be out at sea this afternoon.

There was something else out in the bay, right down near to the Pointe de Carolles, as I found out when I examined the photo later. Whoever she is, she has a black sail rather in the style of Black Mamba, but it is not she, according to my shipping database.

place pleville le pelley Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021At long last I could go down the Rampe du Monte à Regret and then the steps to the bottom, because today they have cleared away the huts of the Christmas market.

That was very much a sad affair – just a dozen or so huts without a great deal of patronage. Had they installed them in the centre of town, say, at the Place General de Gaulle, they might have had much more luck with it.

So I trudged along on my weary way out through the town centre and up the long climb all the way to the roundabout right at the top, only stopping once for breath which is a great improvement. And climbing the four steps that I use as the guide to test my knee was much easier too.

Once on the flat I could push on to the garage, stopping at the Aldi for a can of energy drink to keep me going. I seem to be living on tha right now.

christmas market wooden chalets Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021As I came out of the supermarket, a council lorry with a couple of cabins from the Christmas market drove past.

Hence a very hurried (and rather blurred, unfortunately) photo as they roared past the car park.

17:00 I was told to be at the garage, and it was 17:00 bang-on when I arrived. It took me 80 minutes (including the stop at Aldi) to walk there. And there I found that Caliburn was a long way from being finished.

“If you can wait an hour I can lend you a courtesy vehicle” said the proprietor. Well, I need some shopping from LeClerc, which is about 500 metres away …

Back at the garage I had a half-hour wait and then the proprietor lent me the garage’s van – one of thse little Opel vans like a Berlingo. A typical mechanic’s van – nothing works correctly and there are warning lights everywhere, all of which will be repaired “as soon as we have a moment”.

“Give me a ring tomorrow evening” said the proprietor as I left.

And frankly, I’m worried. I can’t understand what are the problems in fitting a set of discs and pads onto the rear of Caliburn. Had I had my health, my tools and a decent place to work, I could have done the job myself in an hour or so. What’s going on?

Back here I made myself a glorious mug of hot chocolate and then arranged tea. And seeing that I now have some potatoes, it was baked potato with burger – a real one – on a bap.

Now I’m off for bed. I’m exhausted after all of my walking – especially now that I’m at 102%. And I still have a lot to do before I can stop for the New Year break.

Monday 1st November 2021 – WHAT A DAY!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My bad day hasn’t quite finished yet either.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday 10th July 2021 – 265 DAYS …

players warming up us Granville en avant guingamp stade louis dior granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall… since we were last in the Stade Louis Dior to watch a football match, so I’m told.

And I nearly missed this one as well because the kick-off was at 16:00 and at 15:00 I was fast asleep, crashed out in my chair slumped over my desk. It was something of a scramble for me to make it to the stadium in time for the kick-off.

Up until that point it had been a reasonably good day as far as I was concerned. Once more I was up as soon as the alarm went off at 06:00 and although it was a struggle to gather my wits (which will be quite a surprise to everyone seeing as I have so few wits left these days) I gradually pulled myself round ready to face the day.

First task after the medication was to listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. Noticing that the newspapers had arrived today we read them and we noticed that the group “White Spirit” was appearing somewhere. They had one of these young female singers so the two girls would have liked to have seen them. I ended up buying 4 tickets and I took a friend of mine and the 2 girls so the 4 of us went. The 2 of us decided that we didn’t really want to go so we’d wait outside the hall in the car. He’d had to paint the doors inside-out so the paint was one colour but I’d had the tin and taken a look inside it and it was the right lot so I thought that … indistinct … Anyway they wandered off. This girl was singing and at the end of the first song she came down the corridor and came out to us saying “I hope that you 2 are going to behave because I’m going to be coming out here afterwards to see you”. She stayed to chat to us for a while. She was sucking on a stick of rock and I thought that seeing as she has a stage performance to do she’s being extremely I couldn’t think of the word. But there was much more to it than this of course but I can’t now remember what it was. And never mind the guy – who were the 2 girls we took to the concert and who was the girl who came to see us? Yes, all these girls appearing during the night and I can’t remember who they are. What kind of state is this to be in?

Later on I had to go to Manchester with a computer or PA or something so I got on the tram. Someone I knew was on there so I said “hello” to him. We set off and were well on our way when suddenly the tram came to a stop. I walked down towards the front past this guy again to see what was happening. There was some big accident in front of us so I got off the tram and started to wave the traffic through. All the traffic including this tram got through this obstruction. It all drove away and left me standing there so I had to hitch-hike. I had a lift with someone in a Mark I Cortina and it was an automatic with a bench seat in the front, or it might have been column change with a bench seat in the front. We were talking about something with these cars. I said something and he denied it but I knew that I was right but he wasn”t having any of this at all. In the end I took the rubber mat out of the front and emptied it out to make the car a bit tidier. He told me that I could drive on the way back. There was lots more to this dream as well but I can’t remember it now.

Having dealt with all of that, what remained was to bring up to date yesterday’s journal entries. Perhaps I should add at this point that although I said that I was going to have an early night last night, but in fact I became engrossed in the acoustic guitar and ended up playing for a couple of hours.

And I can’t do the slip-change from Chord C to Chord F and back again like I used to. I’m far too rusty.

Having organised the notes from yesterday I spent the rest of the morning organising the new laptop bag and making sure that it has everything that I need in it.

And then I packed the little suitcase that I’m taking with me, and sorted out the clothes that had been airing on the clothes airier on my windowsill since I can’t remember when.

While I was sorting things out I came across an old USB drive and a USB SD micro-card reader stuck in the pocket of an old abandoned bag.

And searching further I came across the missing audio cable for which I’ve been searching since I don’t know when. I must have taken it with me to Canada a few years ago so that I could couple up my old *.mp3 player to Strider’s audio input socket, and then forgotten to unpack it.

Here’s hoping that whatever new vehicle I might buy to replace Strider will have a USB socket. Yes, I was having a good look at a Subaru Forester estate car this afternoon while I was out.

After lunch I came in here to do some work on my photos but I soon crashed out on the chair. And then it was a rather desperate struggle up the hill.

moulin childrens roundabout place generale de gaulle Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOn the way out to the football ground I went past the Place Charles de Gaulle and the Saturday market.

Summer is in full swing here in Granville if you are a kid (except in the Square Maurice Marland of course) and the kiddies’ roundabout is in full swing with plenty of potential customers. I stayed to watch the proceedings for a minute while I caught my breath and then pushed on up the hill.

And it was a long, lonely climb up there and I had to stop four or five times to catch my breath. I’ve aged 20 years over this last couple of months and that has filled me full of dismay. But I eventually arrived at the Stadium Louis Dior.

players us Granville en avant guingamp stade louis dior Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallEn Avant Guingamp play in the French Second Division, but this was described as “A Team from EA Guingamp” which probably means that it contained triallists and players on the fringes of the first team rather than the first team itself.

And in an astonishing match, and in a game that Granville pretty much dominated, they somehow managed to lose the game 3-0. Threw it away completely and comprehensively.

Two goals they gave away by defenders going to sleep and there should have been a third as well except that the Guingamp player stood on the ball instead of kicking it. The third goal was a wonder strike of a curling free kick round the blind side of the defensive wall.

Granville had a bew player playing in the centre of defence – an older guy – and he certainly looked as if he had been around the block a few times. He was head and shoulders above anyone else on the pitch. He wasn’t a centre back from what I could see but more of a defensive midfielder distributing the ball out of defence. If he has signed for the club then things are looking up.

But once again, total defensive lapses and a bunch of forwards who couldn’t score in a brothel

2 players with n°33 us Granville en avant guingamp stade louis dior Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut here was something interesting that I have never seen before on a football pitch at this level.

Two players on the same team with the same number. And about 20 seconds after I had noticed, so did a few other people and the “older” n°33 was quickly withdrawn and replaced by another player. And he’d only been on the pitch for a couple of minutes too.

The younger n°33 took some time to warm up but once he got going he had a good game. He almost scored too, getting in on the end of a delicious cross to the far post but his shot was somehow scrambled off the line.

So after all of this I think that it’s going to be a long, hard season, if we manage to complete it.

no parking in town on Sundays Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOn the way up towards the football ground I’d noticed the town centre covered with these signs.

There had been something in the local newspaper about shops opening all day on Sunday during the summer season but I hadn’t realised that parking will be banned in the town centre too. This makes for interesting opportunities if ever we have a summer here.

Actually it was quite warm now – the sun being out made a change from the damp, dreary start of the day, so I went for an ice cream. But my favourite ice cream parlour was surprisingly closed. I had to walk quite a way before I found another one with non-dairy options.

sale of fresh seafood closed port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallBy now I found myself on the quayside at the spot where the fresh fish seller sells his catch from his boat every Friday morning.

However he’s announced that he’s not operating until the middle, missing the entire summer season, which seemed rather strange to me. But then I noticed the photos of his boat, and that explained everything. Do you recognise it?

Anyway, clutching my ice cream I wandered off down the quayside to see what else was going on that I might have missed since I’ve last been on the quaysid.

philcathane port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd here’s an old friend of ours riding the waves at her mooring here in the inner harbour.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that for the past couple of weeks we’d been seeing the trawler Philcathane up on blocks in the chantier naval until she went missing, back into the water, at the end of the week.

By the looks of things she’s all finihsed now with her nice fresh coat of paint and she’ll be ready to go back to the fishing grounds on Monday.

And the interesting question now is “who has gone to replace her in the chantier naval?

tour du roc à la nage no parking at port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut never mind that for a moment. Let’s turn our attnetion to the immediate present and what’s going to be going on in town.

It looks as if they are planning quite a pile of events to welcome the tourists to the town and this one is certainly a new one on me that I haven’t seen before.

It looks as if there is going to be some kind of swimming race from the port and around the Pointe du Roc to somewhere on the other side of the headland. So good luck to those who are attempting it.

And never mind “no parking”. They will probably need a good ambulance of two or three at the finishing line to take away the unlucky ones. Struggling with the tides and the currents in the sea won’t be as easy as some people might think.

helicopter hovering over port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhile I was walking along the edge of the quayside I was overflown by a helicopter. Someone has hed their chopper out this afternoon.

The only camera that I had with me today was the NIKON 1 J5 and the standard lens (I’ve mentioned before that it passes amost unnoticed into sports grounds and the like where a large DSLP won’t) so I wasn’t able to take much of a photograph of it this afternoon.

Without the telephoto lens I can’t see if it’s the yellow and red air-sea rescue helicopter, a drab olive military helicopter or a multi-coloured civilian chopper. But hs didn’t have any of his emergency lights on so whatever he was doing wasn’t anything urgent. I could press on without witnessing anything dramatic.

trawler galapagos chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallSo, did you all guess the significance of the photo to which I drew your attention earlier?

We’ve all … “well, one of us” – ed … been wondering who the big blue trawler is that’s appeared in the chantier naval the other day and now we know.

She’s called Galapagos and she belongs to the people who sell the fresh fish on the quayside. And now we also know why they aren’t going to be selling fish until the middle of September and we also have an indication of she’ll be back in the water.

There were some people with the yacht Rebelle. They weren’t very talkative but at least I know that she’ll be back in the water “shortly”.

joly france 1 ferry terminal port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd while I was chatting to the people working on Rebelle we were disturbed by yet more activity – this time coming from the water.

Of course it’s the weekend, a Saturday evening in Summer zo the tourists are out in their hordes The Ile de Chausey is one of the places to be and so by the looks of things, there have been plenty of people out there.

This is when the two Joly France boats that work the ferry out there come into their own. This is the newer one of the two, Joly France 1 as you can tell by the windows in portrait mode, and she has quite a load of people on board today coming back from the island.

From the chantier naval I wended my weary way up the hill in the Boulevard des Terreneuviers and made it back home. There was time to upload the photos to the computer and then I knocked off for tea.

There’s plenty of stuffing left over and also a pepper that won’t survive until next week so a stuffed pepper it was, followed by chocolate sponge and chocolate sauce. And that reminds me – it’s been a while since I made a jam roly-poly. That will have to be the next dessert.

Back here to write up the journal today when I noticed that I’d performed 95% of my daily activity today. So never one to miss an opportunity, I took the NIKON D500, fitted the f1.8 50mm lens and went for a walk around the block.

midnight sun baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd who said “The Land Of The Midnight Sun” then?

This is the sight that greeted me as I stepped out of my apartment this evening. We’re situated at 48°50′ here and that’s far from being in The Land Of The Midnight Sun so imagine what it must be like somewhere north of the Arctic Circle.

It did remind me of the nights that I was driving coaches on my Friday night run to Central Scotland and on one occasion one June-end it was so light that when I’d dropped off my passengers I drove to Stirling and parked up on a mountain top near there to watch the midnight sun and that’s 8° further North.

donville les bains rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhile I was here at my little spec at the end of the car park I went over to look over the wall.

Not that I was expecting to see anyone on the beach this evening – as a matter of fact I couldn’t even see the beach – but I was more interested in what was going on along the coast, insofar as I could see it.

The Rue du Nord is quite well illuminated right now especially round by the Place du Marché aux Chevaux, and then carrying on to the left we have the lights of the houses on top of the cliffs at the Plat Gousset and then the lights of the waterfront reflecting into the sea down on the promenade at Donville les Bains.

rue du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBack across the car park and along to the road now to see what’s going on here right now.

That is of course the Rue du Roc that leads to the headland where we find the lighthouse, the semaphore and the coastguard station – not that you can actually see any of those right now.

It’s very had to believe that a year ago I could run all the way down there to beyond the end of the street lights and then turn left and keep running all the way down to the top of the cliffs. The way I am these days, even just looking at the images makes me feel totally exhausted.

They were halcyon times, they were.

porte st jean Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThat’s the view in the opposite direction, looking towards the Port St Jean and the entrance to the medieval walled city.

And that shadow down there is the guy on whom I almost stepped in the dark because I hadn’t seen him. I must pay greater attention when I’m out and about in the dark. But at least he gives the photo some animation.

After all is said and done, the Porte St Jean all floodlit at night is one of my favourite photo objects and the shadow gives it something different.

Through the arch we can see the Rue St Jean illuminated by the street lights and in the foreground to the left is the car park for the Foyer des Jeunes Travailleurs

port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallStill 3 or 4% of my daily activity to perform in order to bring me up to my 100% and so I thought that I’d better go for a walk down to the viewpoint overlooking the harbour and see what’s going on there.

And it wasn’t easy to find my way down there either tonight as this economy drive means that all of the streetlamps are switched off and I had to grope my way down there in the dark.

What was even worse was that the harbour was in darkness too. There were just a couple of isolated streetlights and that was really our lot. It was difficult to work out where I was or what I was photograpiong but somewhere down there in the shadows are Granville and Victor Hugo.

They are the two boats that in better times provided the ferry service between Normandy and the Channel Islands but the combined effects of Covid, Brexit and the tight-fistedness of the Channel Islands in refusing to pay a subsidy towards the reopening of the service is making the recommencement of the services more and more unlikely.

port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAt least here at this end of the harbour the presence of a couple more street lights makes it slightly easier to see what’s going on.

Over to the right the ferry terminal is brightly illuminated by several lights but to no good purpose because there won’t be any of the ferries coming into port for quite a while yet.

To the left of the image, illuminated by two street lights are the port offices. They are open when the harbour gates are opened and there is movement in and out of the port.

But with thz harbour being in total darkness like this I don’t think that there will be much movement going on right now.

In the foreground, all wrapped up on the darkness of the night, is the fish processing plant and there isn’t much going on round there right now either.

tower of eglise notre dame de cap lihou Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOne final photo before I toddle off back to the warmth and comfort of my own little apartment.

Just behind where I was standing to take those two photos of the harbour area is the Eglise de Notre Dame de Cap Lihou. part of it is obscured by the medieval city walls but the spire isn’t, and it’s illuminated tonight for a change. I can’t go back home without photographing that now, can I?

So back in my apartment I’ve accomplished 102% of my daily activity and been out for my first night-time walk for about 6 months too and taken some photos.

And I’ll have to go out again and take some more, only this time remembering to adjust the ISO from 800 to 6400 so that I can let in more light without straining the camera unnecessarily.

Brain of Britain has struck again, hasn’t he?

Thursday 11th February 2021 – I’VE HAD A …

… really busy day today and accomplished quite a lot.

And when was the last time you heard me say something like that?

Once more I managed to beat the 3rd alarm, although not by much. And that was a surprise because even though I was in bed early, I’d had a really bad night.

Several bad attacks of cramp in my right leg, a couple of which obliged me to stand up to relieve the pressure. They were really painful and I was in agony for a good part of the night, something that I didn’t enjoy one little bit.

After breakfast I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been. because despite the difficulties that I’d had, I had managed to wander off on my travels, cramp and all.

I had some stuff to leave around and I didn’t want to leave it in my car while I was away for a week so i thought that I’d go to the hotel where I’d been staying or where I would stay on my way back on 12th. I drove my beige MkIV Cortina there, parked it in a temporary parking place on the street and walked round to the hotel, leaving my luggage in the car for a moment. When I arrived there was a Shearings coach tour ready to depart. I could hear them calling my name asking whether I’d be going. Instead I carried on and there were hordes of people because it looked as if there was another coach tour actually starting from there. Everyone was hanging around there at the front of the hotel and I thought that I’d be hours trying to get through this queue into reception. Suddenly 2 coaches pulled up for this coach tour so everyone surged forward into the hotel and I surged in as well. People were complaining that I’d pushed in but I arrived at the reception desk. There I was going to buy some sweets but when I saw the prices I changed my mind. I made up some story about me going on a coach tour and didn’t want my possessions to get damp in the car so she agreed to take my suitcase until 12th when I returned. I went out of the hotel and started to go back the way I’d come. She said “no, there’s a quicker way. Go down this street here, turn left and left again”. The was she said it was so confusing so she said “follow me”. She took me down the first bit and there, there was someone with a collection of old military vehicles behind a hedge, a couple of jeeps and a couple of Jeepnis from the Philippines. Round the bend there was someone else. She said “this is always the person of last resort if you need something urgently”. It was a guy who repaired all kinds of things. he had all kinds of old cars and all bits and pieces parked up in his drive. She kept on taking me down all these footpaths and I was getting so confused. I thought that we would end up miles away from my car and I won’t have a clue where my car is. It was only a 15 minute parking space and what happens if I’ve been towed away because I’ve been so long? But I followed her anyway as she seemed to know where she was going

So fighting off huge attacks of cramp that had brought me out of bed on a couple of occasions I carried on walking down here to find the BASF factory and I’ve no idea why. I was told that it was just near the overbridge but it certainly wasn’t around here. I was going to walk some way to find it and no-one seemed to be interested in telling me where it was. And I’ve no idea what that second part was about either.

But talking about Shearings … “well, one of us is” – ed … I’ve had to tell Satan to get well and truly behind me this afternoon. Someone’s offered me a 1997 Volvo B10M coach with a Plaxton Paramount body in good running order but needs tidying – for just £1500.

When I worked for Shearings I had years of fun driving those around Europe when I couldn’t lay my hands on a Van-Hool bodied one and they were really nice to drive. I loved Volvo coaches. And so it’s a good job that there’s a lockdown and we aren’t allowed to travel anywhere, especially to the UK, because it saves me from myself.

But what a bargain that is! The thing is that at the moment with companies (including Shearings) going bankrupt, there’s loads of good second-hand stuff on the market that the liquidators are desperate to move so they are slashing prices. This means that everyone is upgrading and modernising their fleets and so there’s all this good old stuff about that is worthless.

Next task was to make some dough for my loaf. Another 500 grammes of wholemeal bread and having bought a pile of sunflower seeds the other day, I forgot to add them in. But I fed the sourdough and the ginger beer while I was at it.

With half an hour free, I attacked the photos from Greenland and made some good progress and then I went for my shower.

By now, the dough had risen sufficiently so I shaped it and put it in its mould and headed out for the shops, with my two pairs of trousers on because it was absolutely taters again outside and the cold wind didn’t help.

At LIDL I didn’t spend very much. There wasn’t anything special that I needed – just a few bits and pieces.

demolition of house rue st paul rue victor hugo Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOn the way home from LIDL I had to take a diversion from my usual return route.

There had been a few notices knocking around telling us about a new block of flats that they are going to build in the Rue St Paul and I was wondering where that might be. But this here seems to be the answer because the road was closed off while a bunch of workmen were busy knocking down this old cafe on the corner of the Rue Victor Hugo.

For a couple of minutes I watched them in action but it was really far too cold to hang about for long, so I pushed off along the footpath that seems to be the pedestrian diversion at the back of the Community Centre and headed back into town that way.

covidius horriblis place general de gaulle Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall
The town centre is all decorated again, which is very nice to see.

As you might expect and as I have probably said before … “here and there” – ed … there’s no Carnaval this year. That’s hardly surprising given all of what’s going on. But it hasn’t stopped the Carnaval Committee doing their best to decorate the town to make up for it, and here’s a statue of Covidius Horriblis that might otherwise in a good year (does anyone remember those) have been mounted on a decorated lorry.

Of course, it’s a sad and sorry state of affairs but I’m convinced that we really need a lockdown much more severe than we have had to date in order to neutralise this virus. It’s no good just some people taking the utmost precautions if they are at risk of catching it from totally reckless people as soon as they go out

Talking of which, be prepared for a surge in cases being reported from here next week. The Government’s mobile testing unit is here on Saturday and everyone is invited. I’m not going though. I’m not mixing with a load of potentially ill people if I can possibly help it.

pointing rampe du monte a regret Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOn up the Rue des Juifs I went with my shopping, to inspect the work that’s been going on repairing the wall and repointing the wall at the Rampe du Monte a Regret.

And disappointing as it is to say it, they haven’t really made any progress at all since we last looked. The (lack of) speed at which workmen work these days is quite depressing. They should be doing much better than this.

It’s quite true that pointing (and roofing, because the roofers haven’t been on the roof of the College Malraux for the last couple of days) isn’t a job that you can do very well in a snowstorm, but it does beg the question “why on earth did they start the job in the middle of winter in the first place?”.

trawler port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAs I pushed on … “pushed off” – ed … up the Rue des Juifs, I noticed some movement in the inner harbour. One of the trawlers was setting out from her berth at the quayside.

The gates were closed and the lights were on red so I imagined that she was manoeuvring into position ready to leap out of the port like a ferret up a trouser leg as soon as the gates would open. But the tide was well out – no chance of them opening in the very near future.

What she did was to go off and tie up at the quayside behind the fish processing plant where someone was waiting with a van. She must be taking on supplies ready for her next trip out.

trans-shipping product rue st jean Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOne of the disadvantages of living in a medieval walled city is that the roads are narrow and the gateways aren’t very high at all.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we have seen on several occasions all kinds of large vehicles parked up by the gate in the Rue St Jean while the driver has to offload his charge into a car and trailer or an electric wheelbarrow or something similar in order to pass underneath the gateway.

And here’s someone else having a similar issue with his delivery. But there was nothing around onto which he could offload and he actually carried his parcels through the gate and into the town.

Back here in the apartment the bread had risen to perfection in the time that I had been out, so I switched on the oven and bunged it in.

While it was cooking I made myself some hot chocolate and a slice of sourdough fruit-bread and then came in here where I rather unfortunately fell asleep for half an hour.

But later, having recovered my composure, I dismantled two of the laptops here that have failed hard drives. One of the little portable Acers – the one in which I upgraded the memory and the big one with 8GB of memory that gave up 3 days after the guarantee ran out and which prompted me to buy the big desktop machine.

Both the hard drives are easily accessible, which is good news and on browsing the internet I came across a couple of Samsung 1TB Solid-State Drives at just €89:00 each. They are now winging their way in this direction along with a new battery for the little Acer and also a new SATA caddy – you need an external caddy for this job because you have to download the BIOS programs from the machine’s manufacturers into the new disk to make it start to work.

Why I’m interested in doing this is because I’m trying to lighten the load of what I have to carry around with me. The little Acers are quite light and while this one is older than the one that I used from 2014 to 2019 and which handed in its hat in North Dakota, everything in it is accessible so I upgraded the memory in it quite significantly and so it was a quick little machine, even if it was only running Windows 7.

As for the big machine, that actually came with 8GB of memory so it was quite rapid. No point in it sitting around doing nothing when it can (hopefully) be fixed quickly, easily and cheaply.

home baked bread place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBy now the bread was baked so I took it out of the oven.

It looked pretty good considering everything, and it tasted even better, and I know that because I had a slice for lunch with the remains of the bread from last time.

After lunch and having recovered from a post-prandial nap, I carried on with my Oradour notes and I’ve made my way all through the Court cases and onto the final paragraphs. So with a good couple of days on it, it should at long last be finished and I can crack on.

But it won’t be tomorrow morning though. I am required to do some work on a radio programme for someone.

trawlers english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallWe mustn’t forget the afternoon walk of course.

And we were in luck with the fishing vessels coming back towards port because I managed to take a snap of two of them out in the English Channel heading for home.

And later on as I walked around the headland there were half a dozen others hanging around outside the harbour entrance. The tide is still quite far out and there isn’t enough sea at the Fish Processing Plant for them to come in and unload. It can’t be long though because there wouldn’t be so many out there waiting for Godot when they could be spending the time out there increasing their catch.

snow lighthouse semaphore pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut let’s turn our attention back to where we are at the moment, namely the north side of the headland.

This is pretty much in the shade here and so the sun, such as there is, hasn’t had an opportunity to do very much melting right now and so unless the weather warms up, that snow will be here for a little while.

Not many people out there today either and that’s not much of a surprise. I had on two pairs of trousers so my legs weren’t cold, but that’s about all that wasn’t. I shall be going to the Sports Shop on Saturday morning if I remember for a new woolly hat for my woolly head.

And also a decent pair of warm tactile gloves. My last pair are in the pocket of my blue Adventure Canada jacket, which is hanging up on a peg in a hotel room in Calgary.

lys noir chantier navale port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallWith nothing doing out on the Baie de Mont St Michel, I continued on around the other side of the headland to see what is going on in the chantier navale

And we seem to have had a tactical substitution here on one of the sets of blocks. The fishing vessel that was here for a while has now disappeared, presumably back into the water and has been replaced by Lys Noir, one of the charter yachts that plies for hire out of the port.

With no business right now (and now idea when business might restart) they would be quite right in using this dead period to overhaul the boat and make it ready just in case something positive might happen soon.

fixing street lights rue des juifs Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThat was enough for me. I decided to head on home before I froze to death. But not before I had a good look to see what they were doing down in the Rue des Juifs.

Earlier on in the day I’d noticed this cherry-picker out around the town with the guys doing some work. It looks as if they are checking the street lights to see which ones are out and to replace the dud light bulbs if necessary.

But that’s a pretty pointless exercise if you ask me because with no-one out and about at night, why do you need the street lights? And in any case, regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I almost went base over apex in the dark on my way to the railway station because the street lights had been extinguished.

When I finished my notes on Oradour sur Glane I had my hour on the guitar and it was quite enjoyable. And I’ve noticed that my bass playing seems to have moved up to another level which has pleased me immensely. At one stage I was playing a lead guitar solo on the bass to Neil Young’s “Like A Hurricane” and Tom Petty’s “Mary jane’s Last Dance”.

And my singing seems to be improving too – not actually singing in tune because that’s way beyond the realms of possibility but the fact that I can keep on singing while I’m playing more complicated stuff on the bass.

But at the moment, I’m going all of this on the Gibson EB3. I really ought to be playing it on the 5-string fretless that I bought for my birthday last year, but that’s a complicated machine and there are limits to what I can try to do at any one time.

Tea was a Madras Curry out of the freezer followed by rice pudding. And now I’m off to bed. Flat out tired, I am and that isn’t a surprise given everything that has happened today. And I made 100% of my target today according to the fitbit. It’s been a long time since I’ve done that, considering the lockdown.

No wonder I’m exhausted.

Thursday 29th October 2020 – PHEW!

waves on promenade plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAfter everything that I’ve had to do, I’m thoroughly exhausted. And it isn’t going to be better any time soon.

So while you admire more photos of yet more waves crashing onto the Plat Gousset this afternoon, to the evident delight of the little kids down there, I’ll tell you all about it.

And it all started off so well too. Much to my own surprise, and to yours too, no doubt, I beat the third alarm to my feet yet again. How many days on the run is that now?

waves on promenade plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallFirst task this morning was to listen to the dictaphone. And once again, there was nothing on it. I must have had a really restful night again.

So that gave me some time to have another look at ANOTHER ONE OF THE ARREARS from my trip around Central Europe in the summer.

There was actually time for me to start a second, but I left that half-finished knowing full well that there would be time to finish it off later today … “ha ha ha” – ed … I went off to have a shower instead.

waves on promenade plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallIt was on my way down the street that I discovered that the battery had gone flat once again in the NIKON 1 J5. It looks as if the battery on it is heading for the hills which is a shame.

So while you look at yet more photos of waves, I went to the local Nick.

Here the copper on duty was very polite and friendly, but he didn’t know what was going on either so he wasn’t much help. Despite the ban effective from Friday night on foreign travel, there’s a right to travel to seek medical attention and I didn’t know if the medical attention outweighed the ban.

And neither did he.

waves on promenade plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhile I was going past the Post Office I dropped a letter in there. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I had a “parcel” delivered the other day.

While the sender told me that there was no charge, I couldn’t leave it like this. He may not want any money for what he sent me (more of which anon) but I can still buy him and his mates a drink. Every job of work deserves its rewards.

From there I headed up to the railway station, today going by the Boulevard Louis Dior so we could see the other end of the alleyway that we saw the other day. This was when I discovered that the camera battery was flat.

waves on promenade plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThey were queueing out of the door at the railway station. The quarantine has changed everyone’s plans of course and they are all trying desperately to change their tickets.

The transaction that I needed, when I finally reached the head of the queue after half an hour, seemed to take all day and there ended up being an enormous queue waiting by the time that I finished.

It’s always this way with me – even the most simple transaction goes all wrong when I’m pushed for time, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall. I apologised profusely to everyone waiting behind me. It was the least that I could do.

LIDL was heaving today. Everyone was stocking up with essentials prior to the lockdown. I didn’t want much so I think that I spent more time queueing than I did looking at the shelves.

Back here, I had work to do. A whole pile of packing, a couple of phone calls to make, a few internet purchases to arrange and a pile of paperwork to be printed out. All of that took me up to a rather late lunch.

After lunch I started to load up the data files to the little Acer travelling laptop. I’m going to work with it for a week and see how it goes, in the hope that it will behave itself. It’s been running for over 48 hours non-stop and seems to be quite stable at the moment. I hope that it keeps on going, and there’s only one way to find out.

In the middle of all of this I crashed out – right out good and proper too, for about 45 minutes. A really deep, intense sleep. When I awoke I felt like death

kids going down to beach Rue du Nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallHaving recovered my composure somewhat, but only vaguely, I set off for my afternoon walk under yet more leaden skies.

Surprise, surprise, there weren’t too many people about in this weather. Even the roofers on the College Malraux roof had become fed up and gone home. Probably no more than a handful of people, including two little kids running down the steps from the Rue du Nord onto the beach.

Such beach as there was, because the tide was well in by now and they weren’t going to be going far.

trawler english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut despite the wicked weather, the work must still go on.

From my viewpoint in the Rue du Nord I cast my eyes out to sea and there in the distance I could make out a couple of objects heading in. When I returned home I cropped the photo and enlarged it, and I could see that it was a trawler-type of fishing vessel – a smaller one – heading back into port.

In the absence of any other information, I’m assuming that she has a good catch, as might the one coming on behind that I didn’t photograph. But the usual cortège of seagulls was absent.

You saw the photos of the waves just now, so having watched the entertainment I walked on through the Square Maurice Marland where there was a little 4-year-old having a whale of a time on the roundabout as her dad spun her around.

trawler being pushed by lifeboat notre dame de cap lihou port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that a week or two ago we witnessed the spectacle of a trawler being “helped” across the harbour by one of its friends to a berth where it could be tied up.

Today, I was interested … ” to say the least” – ed … to see that our friendly neighbourhood lifeboat, Notre Dame de cap Lihou was over there attending to her. I was wondering what might be going on that might require her services.

But as I watched, they tied the two boats together and drifted away from the pontoon

trawler being pushed by lifeboat notre dame de cap lihou port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhen she was out into the open, I could read her name on the side of her superstructure.

She’s none other than Cap Lihou – the trawler that’s been parked up on blocks in the chantier navale for the last I don’t know how long and who only went back into the water a short time ago.

It looks to me as if she might have a severe mechanical problem, and hence is unable to move under her own steam … “or diesel” – ed … and that’s what she needs help.

And that reminds me. Where does a ship go to when it’s feeling unwell?
Of course – it goes to the doc(k)s

trawler being pushed by lifeboat notre dame de cap lihou port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhile I was watching her I speculated where she might be going. Of course “out to sea to be scuttled in deep water” was after all hardly likely.

Of course, there’s no real prize for guessing correctly. There can’t be many places that a sick ship (and try saying that with someone else’s teeth in) can go to round here. She’s off to the chantier navalewhere presumably she’ll be winched up onto some blocks.

When I go out for my evening constitutional – if I do get out with all of this work going on – I’ll check on where she is and on what’s happening to her.

joly france port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhile I was watching Cap Lihou limping along out of the inner harbour, there was plenty of other activity going on too.

When I first looked, the two Joly France boats were tied up at the ferry terminal. But as the pantomime in the inner harbour unfolded, I was joined by the newer of the two Ile de Chausey ferries – the one with the smaller upper deck superstructure and deeper windows.

Also in the photo behind her are two of our regulars, Aztec Lady and La Grande Ancre. They don’t seem to have very much going on with all of this virus lockdown going on.

trawler port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd that’s not everything either. Despite all of the quarantine and lockdown, people still have to eat and we’ve seen a trawler out there earlier coming home with its catch.

And as I watched Cap Lihou and her manoeuvres … “PERSONoeuvres” – ed … into the inner harbour behind Joly France came another trawler. And, surprisingly, the seagulls floating on the water were taking not the slightest bit of notice.

Mind you, I must admit that I did admire the nonchalant attitude of some of the members of the crew as she swung round to tie up at the fish processing plant. They don’t look as if they are in any hurry.

Back in the apartment I carried on hastily trying to assemble things, and then broke off for my guitar practice. And I found to my dismay that I’d forgotten the bass line to “Moonage Daydream” that I’d worked so hard on in the past.

Tea was taco rolls with the rest of the stuffing followed by the last of the delicious apple pie. And then I went out for my evening runs. This was when I discovered that the battery in the NIKON D500 was flat too.

It’s really not my day, is it?

And Cap Lihou wasn’t in the chantier navale either. And it was too dark to see where she was. I just did all of my runs and came home. 135% on the fitbit. I’ll go with that.

So what will tomorrow bring me? Who knows? It’s certainly going to be interesting to find out. I don’t think that anything is going to be easy for a while and I’ve taken considerable precautions. Whether they are effective or not is anyone’s guess. But you’ll find out tomorrow assuming that the little Acer has managed to keep up.

And I never did finish amending that blog posting.

Thursday 8th October 2020 – IF EVER I …

… get my hands on whoever it was who telephoned me this morning at 07:02, they’ll be eating soup through a straw for the next three month.

It’s always the case though – you can absolutely rely on it. Whenever I plan on having a lie-in, someone always comes along to disturb it. Regular readers of this rubbish in one of its previous incarnations will recall that my bank, not having contacted me for several years, once rang me up a good few years ago at 05:00 when I was fast asleep in a motel somewhere in North Carolina.

What was worse was that I’d left my phone downstairs and by the time that I was down there, whoever it was rang off.

Nevertheless, I went back to bed where I stayed until about 09:10.

While i was having a coffee, I listened to the dictaphone. I had walked for miles and miles last night but I can’t remember anything about it now hardly. Except that we were out in the countryside somewhere near Barthomley way and the group had had a huge row and I was sulking for some reason or other. Someone was talking about all of this, the past, showing us photos, all kinds of stuff. One of the photos came across what looked like some kind of farm building. There was an old coach there and drawings showing hos they wanted to extend this farm building to make a garage for the coach. It turned out that one of the guys said “oh yes can you imagine – while you lot were doing whatever it was that you were doing in the early 70s I was living in this coach. We all said “wow that’s amazing”. he said “yes my BMW was behind the hedge here”. it turned out that he was a famous rock star from the period when he was living in the Crewe area. We were talking about all the goings-on in that particular area and how there was someone who hired out wedding cars and how the place would be decorated when there was a wedding. Then he mentioned a name and it immediately rang a bell with me . He played in a rock group from Nantwich and they had an LP out. This album bombed spectacularly so I asked “do you have any idea where I can get in touch with this guy?” “Ohh, he’s still around. Why are you interested?”. I said “I want to get my hands on their LP because I want to broadcast it on the radio”. H replied “I have a copy”. I asked “I don’t suppose that I could borrow it so that I could record it and play it?”. He seemed to be quite enthusiastic at the idea and one or two other people started to become interested in it.

Strangely enough, there was a rock group from Nantwich, a group called Strife. They fitted the bill and there was a musician in this group who actually had the same name as the one last night. And even more of a coincidence, I have in fact during my daylight hours, I have been trying to track down a copy of their album – and for years to – for just that reason.

No success as yet, but I live in hope.

This morning I’ve been doing some housework on the laptop. I have several files that have been duplicated and I’ve been going through a few of them and merging them in together. Plenty to do though, and that reminds me that there is a whole raft (like 4TBs worth) of this to do on the backup drive that I created earlier this year.

In fact I was trying to do something with the trip that I had on board Spirit of Conrad but it seems that I don’t have the edited photos with me and I can’t remember the numbering sequence.

Replacing House Roof Dekenstraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallAfter lunch I decided to go for a nice long walk to stretch my legs

While I was out on my travels yesterday I noticed that a house down the end of the street in the neighbourhood was having its roof ripped off. I thought that I may as well go into town that way and see what was going on.

And they are certainly making a really good job of it – going flat out at it and making a completely thorough job of it. Obviously, with the house being in Dekenstraat -Blanket Street – it’s having a new blanket.

There was nothing exciting in FNAC, nor Wibra, nor Kruidvat, nor Zeeman, nor Hema. But in Sports Direct I bought another couple of pairs of the trousers that I like seeing as they were on special offer. The ones that I’ve had for three or four years are starting to look pretty thin and I damaged a pair when I was in the Auvergne the other week.

Sign For Renovation Of City Walls Handbooghof Leuven Belgium Eric HallAfter my little trip to the shops I went for a walk out of town.

In the past, regular readers of this rubbish have seen the sad state of the part of medieval city walls at the Handbooghof right by the River Dijle, and yesterday we saw that some renovation was about to be carried out. My trip around to the Handbooghof was to see what was happening there.

They’ve stuck up a sign to give a little hint as to what is going on. Only a little though because it doesn’t contain very much interesting information.

Renovation of City Walls Handbooghof Leuven Belgium Eric HallIt doesn’t really help matters either that they have shrouded the work in this corrugated iron fence.

Even with the camera held high above my head I couldn’t really see over it to find out hos they were doing. But there were some big bags of rubble lying around so it looks as if they are dismantling them.

But whether they are going to rebuilt them is another matter. It certainly seems to be pointless if they are taking away some of the bricks that were used in its building. It won’t be the same at all with modern bricks.

While we’re on the subject of bricks … “well, one of us is” – ed … I went to look at that building that I mentioned yesterday – the one that has recently been exposed by the demolition of a more modern building in front ot it.

There is no evidence (like a date-carved lintel) to give an idea of the date, and while the bricks certainly look contemporary to the appropriate historical period, they look extremely clean and the pointwork looks to be extremely tidy.

Not at all what you’d expect from a building several hundred years old so you take your choice.

Advert For Project Waeyenberg Leuven Belgium Eric HallRegular readers of this rubbish will also recall that yesterday we went past that building in the Monseigneur Van Waeyenberglaan – the one that was stripped right out.

We’ve been keeping an eye on its renovation over the past while and today, purely by chance, I went past the estate agent’s office where the apartments are advertised for sale.

There seems to me to be little doubt that this is it, and if you have a close look at the asking prices you’ll see why I could never ever afford to come and live in Leuven. Some of the prices here are totally out of anyone’s reach.

St Rafael Hospital Kapucijnenvoer Leuven Belgium Eric HallOne of the things that I intended to do was to go and take a few photos of the old St Rafael Hospital before anything happens to it, so after I’d been and bought my pepper I went round for a look.

The best view of the building is from down the Biezenstraat, and then it isn’t particularly good.

So dodging the school kids coming out of school I took a photo from this corner. At least it had the more modern part visible behind it, and there was a good view of the roof too. It’s green but it’s very unlikely to be copper.

St Rafael Hospital Kapucijnenvoer Leuven Belgium Eric Hall The Kapucinenvoer, the street where the Sint Rafael is situated, is quite narrow and built up on both sides down its whole length so it’s not possible to step back and take a photo of all of it from face-on.

The only way that I could take another photograph is from further down the street on the opposite corner of the building, and it doesn’t look anything like as imposing from this angle.

It’s not really much better inside. I’ve had to go there on a couple of occasions and it’s really just a maze of corridors and tiny consulting rooms. At least – that’s what I saw of it. I didn’t go very far in there.

St Rafael Hospital Kapucijnenvoer Leuven Belgium Eric HallA little further along the street towards the Brusselsestraat by the Cuythoek, there’s a more modern extension.

It won’t be much of a loss to the community if that part of the building were to disappear. It seems to be nothing more than a typical early 20th Century Government building.

The only drawback would be whatever they would build in its place. We’ve seen PLENTY OF EXAMPLES in the past of modern buildings conjoined to older masterpieces, and all it seems to do is to show up the lack of skill and appreciation held by modern rchitects and builders.

Demolition St Pieters Hospital Brusselsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallOn that depressing note I went around to the Brusselsestraat to see how they were getting on with the demolition of Sint Pieters Hospital.

When we were here in July, we saw a couple of large grabs at work, just like dinosaurs, nibbling away at the brickwork. But they don’t seem to be there any more. Instead, what we seem to have is someone inside the building on the top floor throwing material out of the window.

And if there’s any more pointless task than that, I really don’t know what is.

Demolition St Pieters Hospital Brusselsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallAs I (and quite a crowd of other people) watched, more objcts, and then brickwork and the like, followed the first batch of stuff down to the ground.

And I really can’t see what is going on here at all. Surely, if they are demolishing the building, they’ll do it from the outside with machines like the big ones that we saw back in July. Whatever was still inside it would come down automatically with the rest of it.

It seems to be a waste of time and money to send someone up there like that. It’ll take them forever to knock down the building like that.

Spray Stream Demolition St Pieters Hospital Brusselsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallWhile I was there, I noticed that they had taken out a fence panel. That meant that I could approach that machine that I saw yesterday.

On a closer look at it, I could see that it isn’t a water atomiser as I had thought. It’s not powered by compressed air but by electricity (at least, there’s an electric cable attached to it) and the name that’s written on it – “Spray Stream” – seems to indicate that it’s nothing more than a water sprayer.

The huge fan at the back helps to disperse the water all over the rubble. But at least I was right about that – it’s to keep the dust down while they are knocking down the brickwork.

River Dijle Brusselsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallIt was a good job that that fence panel was out, because while I was down there admiring the Spray Stream, my eyes alighted on something else.

The city is honeycombed by branches of the River Dijle, and we’ve seen quite a few of those in the past in all kinds of different places in the city.

But this is one that I haven’t noticed before. It’s been pretty well concealed underneath the Leistraat across the road and it isn’t shown on any maps.

River Dijle Brusselsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallThere’s a medieval religious house here on the site that has been pretty much built over the river.

It’s the Sint Elizabeth Gasthuis, dating from about 1090 and was the city’s hospital from the 13th to the 17th Century. And when I worked out what it was, that rang a bell with me because I recall having read somewhere that it was the fashion to build hospitals over running water during the Medieval period.

It was something to do with hygene, if I remember correctly, and I’ll have to track down what it was that I read and remind myself.

Back here I had a few things to do, and then I had tea. Another falafel burger with the rest of the vegetables and some pasta with tomato sauce.

No possibility of going out for a walk right now because it was teeming down with rain, so I made a start on writing up my notes.

Condo Gardens Dekenstraat Leuven Belgium Eric Hall. The rain did ease up for a little moment so I nipped out to make the most of it.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall having seen a few photos of where I stay taken during the day, but I can’t remember whether I’ve ever photographed it in the night. So here it is. My little room is down the little alleyway to the left just by where the tree is.

So having taken the photo I walked on around the block to run up the time on the fitbit to over 100%. I might have gone farther but I suddenly realised that I didn’t have my facemask with me so I’d better head back. Not for health reasons, but for fear of frightening the locals.

But now I’m off to bed. It’s a 5:30 start in the morning so I need to be on form.

Tuesday 29th September 2020 – I’VE BEEN REALLY …

… busy today, for a change.

And it started off quite early too when I was up and about long before the third alarm wet off. Mind you, I’m not quite sure how because when I listened to the dictaphone, I was amazed.

plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallWhile you admire the photos of the tide coming in onto the Plat Gousset I’d been off on my holidays somewhere around the north-west of England but my holidays were over and it was now time to go back to work. Instead of going back to work I set off for the Welsh coast. People started to talk “well, the THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR is coming in there, isn’t she? It looks like you’re going off on another voyage with her”. Although I hadn’t booked anything, that was indeed my plan to get down there, speak to the people and see where they would end up taking me – hopefully get a flight out from there to the High Arctic. But the closer I got to the coast I began to realise that the question of payment – it’s not cheap and most of my money is in my English bank account and I can’t remember the number or the contact details and I don’t have the little machine with me, so how was I going to pay for all of this? But I was still looking forward to going. I was within a couple of days of my retirement. I was planning on retiring soon in which case the question of getting any extra time off didn’t really matter very much. This latter part is a dream that i’ve had so many times – being at work and being retirement age and for one reason or other I could just get fed up, turn round and walk away.

plat gousset  granville manche normandy france eric hallSome time later I was at work and the question of some kind of qualification came up. We all trooped round to my sister’s house. It was overrun with kittens, totally untidy. everywhere you tried to sit you had a kitten on you, something like that. In the end we hardly dare do anything. We had to take a photo of a particular page in a booklet with this woman’s identity – she had a ring with a special seal on it. We needed this ring in view on top of the image and we could use that as proof that we’d done this course and had this qualification although we hadn’t. When it came to my turn to take the photo I couldn’t get my camera to work. Everyone was becoming quite impatient. In the end someone took the form and took this woman off so they could photograph it for themselves.
At another point we were in the army, a big group of us. We were slowly on the advance through this town. There wasn’t very much pressure – it seems that we’d had quite a clean sweep of this. We were pushing on through and came round a bend. A couple of groups in front of us had disappeared round this bend. We came round this bend and as we did so a couple of soldiers came over a railway bridge or something. Their uniforms didn’t look like ours. Suddenly the commander said “God, these are Russians!”. They saw us as we saw them. They opened fire and we ran, we lost a couple of men. In the end we got back to the little square where there were barricades erected. We got in behind the barricades. I sent two soldiers off down a side street because it was possible that we could be outflanked down this street. I sent these soldiers off with a machine gun and told them to dig themselves in and if anyone came just send them a stream of machine gun fire. They seemed very reluctant to go and I had to shout at them to get them to move. They still didn’t move with any kind of enthusiasm. I ran back to find that our compound had been under attack but we had pushed them back. They’d gone and they hadn’t come back as yet. The commandant was giving orders about this and that. We were talking about being supplied by sea in which case this little post that I’d set up needed some kind fof reinforcement for that was between us and the sea. We started to discuss all of this and I awoke in a fever.

plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallWe were all in this compound (this was later, by the way) and there were people milling around downstairs in this kind of open-plan office type of place on a floor below. It turns out that they were selling tickets for something – it might have been a Connah’s Quay football match. I was going to ask if the people at the desk wanted a cup of tea for I was going to make a pot. I had to wait my turn in the queue before I could get to see them as there was a big queueing arrangement. When I got there there were 5 of them working there but I’d only seen 2. They all said “yes we want tea” and how many sugars they wanted. I thought “I don’t have much chance of remembering all of that”. But I asked them again to make sure. There was too much water in my kettle so I tipped some out. That brought some kind of strange look from some of them but I went off to make this pot of tea. There was some kind of headlines on the radio about it but there was a huge discussion about the outpost. they were suggesting that this outpost be pushed further south and they were poring over maps for it. Out technical in command said that we already had one. It was called Preston Central and explained about the Preston railway station, how it had been relocated in the past to allow a junction for a few lines and how it had been reinforced, how lots of industry and so on had started to congregate around it. he seemed to think that this was vitally important for this industry and laid claim to the fact that Preston Central should be our outpost

From there I was somewhere around Knutsford/Manchester Airport with my brother of all people. We’d been to some kind of exhibition or village fete or something like that. We were all in this huge hall. Who should we bump into but Nerina. The 3 of us ended up having quite a lengthy chat and it all came to be quite a friendly situation. We all then had to go and get some breakfast next morning so we went down to this place where all these people were congregating, hordes of them, but somehow we lost Nerina. She must have gone to get some breakfast. We’d seen a stall with all fruit buns and things like that on it but there was a proper breakfast place. In the end I said that I’d stay where we are. He can go off and get breakfast and I’ll wait here and we’ll all meet up here again. Off he went and I was on my own, and waited for hours! We’d been given some complimentary glasses of tea and we’d had a few sips out of them. They were on the table but I got up to stretch my legs. When I came back my tea had gone – someone had cleared it away. I said something pointed about this and a guy at the table next to me was one of the organisers. He didn’t really take much notice so I had a good moan about this, saying “it’s a good job that it’s free or I’d make a fuss about this”. Eventually, after a very long wait, my brother came back with a plate with about half a dozen potato crisps on it. I asked “what’s happening now?”. he replied “they’d run out and I wasn’t going to wait any more. I had to wait long enough as it was”. I asked “have you seen Nerina?” “No!”. I started to mention this stall with all this bread on it but he didn’t seem to be particularly interested. I said “we can get some chips on the way home”. He said” what? Round by the airport?”. I replied “we’re going Knutsford, Holmes Chapel Sandbach, Crewe way home, aren’t we?” so we set off. I found that I had Nerina’s phone number on my phone so I phoned but there was no answer. I left it for a minute and phoned again – still no answer. In the end there was no other solution but we had to go home and hope that she would make it home OK without any problems. We set off, the two of us, on foot. There was much more to it than this but I can’t remember it now. We ended up in some kind of square and there were loads of people milling around. Someone we knew there said something like “let’s have a coffee”. There was a huge urn of tea or something and he went to get the ladle out but we couldn’t find a clean mug – no clean mugs anywhere. Someone said “God, yes. The mugs gave out ages ago”. I thought “I’m not having much luck today!”

It’s surprising that I managed to awake as early as I did. In fact, the more that I think of it, I must have caught myself as I was on my way back home.

Even more so, last night I didn’t go to bed as early as I expected. I wasn’t tired so in order to profit from my lack of fatigue I pushed on and finished off the radio programme before going to bed, so that at least there was something out of the way.

First thing after I’d finished transcribing the dictaphone notes (which took longer that you might think) was to revise my Welsh and then have a quick tidy around ready for my lesson. That’s the problem with these Zoom meetings – when you’re on the screen everyone else can see all about you.

After lunch I decanted the latest batch of Kefir. That’s all that I’m doing for now – simply because I don’t have any more figs. When I’d decanted it I whizzed up a couple of oranges, extracted the juice and then ran everything through a series of sieves and filters.

That’s now having its second fermentation, and the first batch made with the strawberry juice is now in the fridge ready for use.

yacht speedboat english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallAll of that took me up to the afternoon. Time to go out for my walk.

There was plenty of wind, although not as much as there has been, and it was quite cold too. There were a few things going on out at sea too. Here we have a yacht battling hard against the wind, with a speedboat roaring past showing just how efficient modern technology can be at times.

It’s not the same as sail, that’s for sure, but you don’t run much risk of being becalmed, except if you run out of fuel. At least, with a steam engine, you could burn bits of the boat.

trawler speedboat english channel pointe du roc granville manche normandy france eric hallFurther along the path, I was pretty much alone. Just the odd person here and there out on the path.

Out on the sea, there were a few more boats dotted around in the English Channel between the Ile de Chausey and the Pointe du Roc. We have one of the trawler-type fishing boats on its way back into the port with today’s catch.

As well as that, there’s a speedboat coming back over from the Ile de Chausey.

There were probably a few others out there too but the low cloud and mist prevented me seeing right out to the horizon.

chantier navale port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallThere were no brats out there this afternoon – looks as if the orienteering classes have now finished. I was enjoying watching them, remembering my own childhood experiences in orienteering.

But round the other side of the headland, I had a good look at what was going on in the chantier navale. From the heady days of as many as eight of the boats in there up on ramps, we’ve now come down to just two.

A couple more seem to have gone back into the water today, including the one that had been on the blocks by the portable lift.

normandy trader port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallAnd we have another visitor in port today, someone whose arrival I have been expecting for a couple of days.

Having come in on the high tide today, Normandy Trader is now moored up at the quayside underneath the unloading crane. There is nothing actually going on there right now so it looks as if she’s been unloaded and loaded back up already.

All of this points to a rapid getaway on the evening tide. One thing that I’ve noticed is that these days, with no passenger ferries operating, the two little freighters have plenty of work and they don’t hang around for long.

bad parking boulevard vaufleury granville manche normandy france eric hallWe can’t go for too long without a photo here or there about the bad parking that goes on round about the College Malraux – the local high school.

Here in the Boulevard Vaufleury we have someone parked up on the pavement right by the pedestrian crossing at the bottom of the road that leads to the college.

The Boulevard Vaufleury is a service-bus route and coming in the other direction is the fleet of school buses that pick up the kids to take them home.

Furthermore, there is a public car park across the road, not even 20 yards further on from where the car is parked.

orange kefir strawberry bread rolls place d'armes granville manche normandy france eric hallAs well as the kefir, I’d made some bread dough that had been proofing. I shaped them into small buns and left them to proof again while I did some more photos of the Spirit of Conrad.

When they were ready I bunged them into the oven and left them to cook while I cleaned up the mess that I’d made.

When I took them out, I noticed that they had been overcooked. 25 minutes seems to be far too long for them and I shall have to refine my technique for my next batch, whenever that might be.

After the hour on the guitar, I went for tea. A burger with pasta and vegetables with tomato sauce, followed by the strawberry turnover that I had made.

sunset ile de chausey granville manche normandy france eric hallThen it was time to go out and about for my evening walk.

The wind had dropped and the sun had long-since set, but from the viewpoint overlooking the Rue du Nord I could see a beautiful sky right over the Ile de Chausey and it looked absolutely magnificent.

We could see the light of the lighthouse shining quite brightly, and also several lights of boats that are anchored off the island. Whether they are there for the night or whether they are fishing boats out there at work, it’s impossible to tell

donville les bains granville manche normandy france eric hallFrom the viewpoint I ran on down the path underneath the city walls. One or two other people were around there so for a part of my travels I wasn’t alone.

The lights of Donville-les-Bains were glittering very brightly and their reflection in the sea looked quite wonderful. And from there I walked on around the corner to the viewpoint over the Place Marechal Foch to have a look at how the tide was doing.

No-one else about now so I ran on down across the Square Maurice Marland. I can get all the way down there and all the way up the first ramp at the end.

fishing boat trawler port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallMind you I have to stop and catch my breath at the end, and from there, there’s a nice view over the harbour.

There’s a trawler-type of fishing boat anchored over there on one of the pontoons that the commercial yachts use, and I’ve no idea why it would be tied up over there. It has all of its work-lights on too and that is bizarre too.

And I was right about Normandy Trader too. As you can see, the loading berth is empty. The harbour gates haven’t been open long but nevertheless she has made a smart getaway.

minette rue notre dame granville manche normandy france eric hallYesterday, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I mentioned that I hadn’t seen Minette, the old dark tortoiseshell cat, for quite a while.

And so it goes without saying that tonight, here she is sitting on the steps outside her front door. She let me stroke her for a few minutes and then she wandered off.

And me? I wandered off too – ran the final length back home to clock up the metres and the percentages on my fitbit.

Back here, I had a surprise with the kefir. The instructions say that on the second fermentation, the bottles need to be opened regularly to let out the excess gas that’s been created.

Accordingly, I opened the bottle of strawberry kefir, and the fountain that was produced would have put Vesuvius to shame and would have launched the Space Station.

Perhaps I ought to open the bottles more regularly that once every day, or maybe it’s because the first fermentation isn’t complete

Whatever it was, I ended up having to wash down the kitchen and I’ll have to change my clothes in the morning.

Saturday 26th September 2020 – I WAS WRONG …

… about the weather last night. We didn’t have the rainstorm today. Or the plague of locusts either. But we had just about everything else.

The high winds are still here and still wreaking devastation about the town. I blame the baked beans that I had for tea the other night.

We also had one of the coldest days that I can remember for a good while too.

That’s probably why I didn’t feel like springing into action this morning and leaping joyously out of bed. Consequently I missed the third alarm. Only by 10 minutes or so, but missed it all the same.

And that’s hardly surprising as I must have been exhausted after my travels last night. I was with my aunt and we were doing a lot of stuff on the computer quite happliy working away. There was another guy with us as well. Suddenly my computer hard drive caught fire. This boy was all for dashing off for phoning up the fire brigade. Of coure I wouldn’t let him do that – I put it out myself. The fire brigade would just smother it in foam and ruin everything. In the end I managed to put out the fire. Of course the hard drive was ruined. My aunt and this boy were going into the City – Bishopsgate, although I don’t know why I thought Bishopsgate because it wasn’t there that I meant. There was a huge computer shop there. I felt really annoyed because I’d been to a computer fair that day and I could have bought a new hard drive there for peanuts had I known but it’s too late now. I asked this boy if he knew about this computer shop. Oh yes, he knew it very well. I asked “while you’re up in London with my aunt can you nip in there and pick me up a hard drive?”. I told him the one I wanted. He said “wouldn’t it be better to pick up a differet type for a MAC or something like that?”. He only ever uses MACs. I said that I use PCs and I’ve used them for years and I know them pretty well so I’m going to stick with them. He had a little bit of a chunter about that. Then I thought that I would have to get him some money as well and I probably don’t have enough cash on me so how am I going to do that? Then it came to booking the tickets so I went to look on the railway site. It turned out instead that I was looking at the bus site. It took endless goes for me to log in on it because everyone was meithering me and I kept on typing the wrong word. Eventually I got in to find that it was buses that we were looking at because we were now actually living in Bath. The first thing my aunt said was that they don’t have a direct bus service from Bath to London any more. We have to go on the train. We had to start looking for things like that. In the meantime we managed to find the times of the buses which would at least get them some of the way. Then the phone rang. My aunt talked to whoever it was and so on. When she hung up she said “that was George and that’s strange. He’s after his wages for the taxis. He’s on holiday and he wants it posted to him in York by cheque”. She couldn’t understand why he wanted it. I said “he’s probably going to buy something special while he’s in York”. “Yes but it’s early. he doesn’t get paid until Thursday but anyway …”. She had a chunter about that. Then I had to go and get her ready for this bus so they could get on it and this other guy too and head off into London
A little later on there was a girl and she was a lot older than she ought to be and she still had a dolly that she cuddled. People used to make remarks about it (Wiske and Schanulleke, anyone?). They decided that they would pass a Law about it. Somewhere inside there they inserted a clause that people who cuddled a pet or other object or person for the purpose of comfort would be exempt, which of course wiped out the whole purpose of this Law anyway. So we all had a debate about it.
Just then this other girl turned up. She was in a purple and gold kind of trouser suit kind of thing that looked more at home in a Middle-Eastern harem. She had long dark-brown hair that was cut in the style of an Egpytian, really precise cuts and edges and so on.
There was much more to it too but as you are probably eating your meal right now I’ll spare you any discomfort.
And once again I was dictating without the dictaphone in my hand. Either this is starting to become a habit or else it already is and a whole load of stuff has slipped quite literally through my hands.

After a shower, Caliburn and I hit the streets and headed to the shops.

NOZ is always on my shopping list. That’s a shop that buys job-lots of bankrupt stock, overstocks, that kind of thing from all over Europe.

In the past I’ve found plenty of useful things in there and also a whole variety of different foods to vary my diet somewhat. Today they had stocks of Sharwoods products on offer so I now have some vindaloo and madras sauces as well as some mango chutney. Stocks of curry in the freezer are getting low, an I’m also going to learn to make poppadoms, I reckon.

At LeClerc I didn’t spend very much, and most of what I did went on fruit. The place is now looking like a greengrocer’s, which is good for my health (and that reminds me – my kiwi, lemon and ginger cordial is delicious and I’ll be doing that again – hence more kiwis today).

One good thing is that, after much searching, I finally found the fresh figs. So back here, I finally set my kefir en route. How that will pan out remains to be seen.

This afternoon I had a whizz through some more photos of my adventures with Spirit of Conrad in July and we are now in our anchorage for the final night aboard. I reckon that there are about 50 more to edit before I finish.

Then, there are the 400 or so from my voyage into Eastern Europe and once they are completed I can turn my attention to the 3000 that remain from the High Arctic in 2019 and the 2000-odd from the High Arctic in 2018.

And then, finally, I can write up the notes for all of this.

The burning question of the day is not Rafferty’s motor car but whether I’ll finish all of this before all of this finishes me.

A few more albums bit the dust too, some more work was done on revising the web pages, Rosemary rang me and we had a chat for just over an hour, and I even found time to crash out for 15 minutes.

And as for that latter, with everything else that I’ve been doing today, it’s hardly a surprise. I must have been exhausted by then so I’m not too disappointed, even if for the last couple of days I’ve managed to keep going.

chez maguie bar itinerante closed granville manche normandy france eric hallThe day is far from finished too. There’s football this evening so I headed off into town.

And here’s another sure sign that the summer season has ended. The beach cabins have gone and they’ve taken down the diving platform at the Plat Gousset already, but now the itinerant bar Chez Maguie has folded up its tent and crept silently away in the night.

It’s a very significant sign for some of us, but for others it means that the locals can have their boulodrome back until next summer.

football stade louis dior fc flerien flers us granville manche normandy france eric hallProfessional football started back up a few weeks ago, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall. But this weekend amateur football has had the green light.

Consequently I headed off up to the Stade Louis Dior to watch Granville’s 2nd XI play FC Flerien, the team from Flers, in Normandy Regional 1.

For the first 15 minutes Granville’s control of the ball and their passing and movement was extremely fluent, but by the end of this little period they were already 2-0 down – a corner that the goalkeeper dropped into the path of an onrushing forward (he seemed to have a good pair of teflon gloves) and a misplaced header under pressure back to the goalkeeper that went to another onrushing forward.

After that, a couple of heads dropped, and the Fleriens got into their stride. We had to wait 55 minutes for Granville’s first shot on target (and about 10 minutes before the end for their other one) and 65 minutes for their first corner.

It was literally men against boys because Granville’s team was quite youthful whereas Flers had three or four old hands who had clearly been around the block far more times than the Granville players could handle.

The match ended 2-0 but really Flers could have had half a dozen and no-one in Granville would have complained.

And I’m glad that the match finished when it did because I was absolutely frozen to the marrow. It’s a long time since I’ve been this cold. I’ve been much warmer than this in the Arctic and next time I go to the football I’ll put on the thermal undies that I bought on Thursday.

blue light pedestrian crossing ave matignon granville manche normandy france eric hallOn the way back, here’s something that I haven’t noticed before – mainly because it’s been an age since I went into town in the dark at night.

But now there seems to be blue lights shining down on all of the pedestrian crossings on the main roads. Presumably to give motorists a better chance of spotting civilians trying to cross the road.

It brought back many happy memories of a press release that we wonce received from the Parisian authorities when I worked at Shearings – “The policeman who directs the traffic at the roundabout at the Arc de Triomphe will from now on be floodlit to make sure that motorists don’t miss him in the dark”.

marite port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallMy route home had to be extended tonight for the simple reason that “if I’m out, I’m well out” and there’s no point in going home with just 90% on my fitbit. I may as well push it up to 100%.

For that reason I wandered on down into the port to see what was going on.

“Nothing much” was the answer to that. Marité was there of course, tucked up in her little corner and so were the two Channel Island ferries, Granville and the older Victor Hugo.

As an aside, we haven’t seen a gravel boat in here for almost 6 months. I was hoping that this new mayor would do something about stimulating the freight trade to the port.

restaurants rue du port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallMy route continued along the rue du Port.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall having seen several photos taken of this street in the dark, all of which have been taken from the cliffs up above.

And so tonight, in an effort to do something different, here’s the reverse-angle shot taken from the street looking back towards the cliffs.

Not that you can actually see the cliffs in this (lack of) light. You’ll just have to use your imagination.

moonlight baie de mont st michel port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallOn the climb back up the Boulevard des Terreneuviers I stopped (for breath) to look at the tidal port.

There was a beautiful bright moon tonight, even though it’s only half-full, and there was a wonderful reflection of light down in the Baie de Mont St Michel looking across to Jullouville and the Pointe de Carolles.

Actually, considering that this photo was hand-held and taken with the little NIKON 1 J5 with the standard lens, it’s not come out too badly, even if I did have to stop it down by 8 (in fact by 10 because normally the camera has to be opened up by 2 since the lens was repaired).

Back at the flabberblok there was yet more football so I grabbed a bowl of rice pudding and settled down in a ringside seat in front of the internet.

Y Fflint, newly promoted to the JD Cymru League this season after a 20-year absence were entertaining Barry Town. Barry, usually a strong competitive side but who misfired so spectacularly in European Competition earlier and then against TNS on the opening day of the season, have yet to grace my screen this season and I’ve only ever seen Y Fflint play once, in a cup match a few years ago.

The match was quite entertaining because while Barry were much more powerful and street-wise (which you have to expect), Flint matched them blow for blow and I was quietly impressed.

There were three significant items in this match

  1. Alex Titchiner, Flint’s ace striker, was carried off injured after just 2 minutes.
  2. Mike Lewis, in the Barry goal, played the game of his life and made a couple of stunning reflex saves (and that’s not to say that our old favourite, Jon Danby, formerly of Connah’s Quay Nomads, now next-door in the Flint goal didn’t have his moments too)
  3. and had a Flint defender kept his head when Matt Jarvis burst into the area and not conceded a penalty

then the new boys would have had something from this game. They are no mugs, and certainly not cannon-fodder like some promotees have been.

And if TNS managed to sweep away this Barry side so convincingly, then just HOW good are TNS?

There is also some exciting news from Deeside too. It seems that the idea to build a new football stadium on Deeside to be UEFA-compliant for junior international matches, and European club competition and to be shared by next-door neighbours Connahs Quay Nomads and Y Fflint has taken a giant step forward.

Who knows? It might even become a reality if the two clubs can keep up the momentum they they have established over the last couple of years. The announcement that “certain funds have been made available” is major news but, as expected, BBC Wales, with its hands so deep in the pockets of the Welsh Rugby Union to an indecent depth that it imposes a news blackout on Welsh football, has totally passed it by.

But by now, it’s late. Long after midnight, so I’m off to bed. I’ll write up my notes in the morning – if I’m here. It’s Sunday and a day of rest and I might sleep in long past midday.

Wednesday 5th August 2020 – LATER THIS EVENING …

… I’ll regret having walked into town today.

According to the booking agency, the hotel is just 3700 feet (about 2/3 of a mile) from town. But that’s clearly in a straight line. When you are following a meandering river through the mountains, it’s nothing like a straight line at all.

And when the town is a long, narrow strip of buildings all the way along the valley, by the time that you have reached the end, had a really good look around and then walked all the way back, it’s no surprise to anyone that your fitbit shows 16.8 kilometres – 211% of my daily total.

Last night was rather strange. I went to bed early and crashed out again, waking up to hear the radio still playing at round about 01:00. And so I switched it off and went back to sleep.

All of the three alarms went off of course, but I wasn’t in any rush. 07:30 was when I finally arose.

Breakfast was interesting. Nothing like the one at Lech but that was really something special. This one here, although a long way short of it, was still more than satisfactory. I’m not too keen on powdered orange juice but then again, this is the east.

Sliced banana too, still in its skin. First time that I’ve seen that. But then, 30 years ago, there wouldn’t have been any bananas at all. People have very short memories yet I can tell you hordes of tales about travelling in Eastern Europe back in the 80s.

Last night I was with someone who might even have been a girl whom I used to know of all people. We were certainly on the verge of becoming a couple, holding hands, all that kind of thing, being extremely close to each other. A group of us had gone off somewhere and she was there as well so she came. I had extremely high hopes about this but the more into this trip we got and the more things started to become evident that the kind of life I was living at the time was not the kind of life that other people were living, that my family was living she became more and more distant. By the time I got somewhere to stop for a coffee she just disappeared. We’d seen some really interesting fountains and of course I didn’t have my camera with me so I went to get the one off the phone to take these photos but it turned out hat I had the dashcam. By the time that I’d put that away and got the phone out ready to work everyone was all coming back and we had to go back. She wasn’t there and I wondered where she had gone. I was with my family by this time and we ended up in a hospital. All my family was being treated for cancer and I had to go to have my treatment too. One of my sisters was there being treated and my grandmother was there being treated. My sister having a perfusion had lost an arm or a thumb along the way. They were all talking about they’ll be out by March and I thought “God! March – I’ll just be beginning”. I had to look for them and I ended up going to the wrong house or wrong hut where they were staying but someone put me right. I was talking about a message that we were all going to receive from the Government. Someone called me forward , it was one of these “pat on the back of the head” type of things and I couldn’t wait to read it and have a good laugh. I tracked my family down and they were living in some miserable hovel or wooden hut. As I said, my sister had lost an arm and was there with a perfusion and my grandmother was there with a perfusion and it was all one hell of an untidy mess. I was thinking that if the girl whom I mentioned shows up now if I made it up with her this is going to be the absolute end. She’ll never speak to me again, not that she was speaking to me at that particular moment. As usual it was my family of course who were causing all these problems with me as I tried to get on in life. All that time as this was going on I was singing that Brian Eno song “we are the 801” and that’s stuck in my head now.

There was a baseball match of some description. There was a little boy playing in it and he’d scored some kind of record number of runs in a match. he was very lucky because he’d nearly been out first ball, where the ball had actually hit an obstruction before it had been caught by a fielder. And somewhere in this was a girl to whom I used to be engaged when I was much younger. There was something going on with the coaches and I can’t remember now. She was there and I’d been with her and ended up talking to the woman who owned the coaches in the end. She was asking me about the girl and how well I’d known her. I replied that I’d known her since she was about 13 when she came from Arbroath and we’d gone out with each other at school, all that kind of thing. We’d separated and got back together again, and separated and got back together again. She was pointing out some kind of erratic behaviour of my girl and was under the impression that she was spying on the coach company for some reason or other, which I found very hard to believe. I thought that she was waiting for me while we were having this discussion. All kinds of weird little things like that and I can’t remember them now which is a shame. There was certainly something where I was with someone in a car and she was going to visit someone for work. We were having a quick kiss and cuddle in the car and all her clothes were creased and she had to walk to this house straightening all her clothes as she went. I’ve a vague feeling that TOTGA put in an appearance too at some time during the night although again I don’t remember anything about it particularly

I can’t remember who I was with now but we were driving around and came across what was Tatler’s Garage or what should have been Tatler’s garage. It had “Tatler’s Garage New For 94” and we were wondering what was new. We had a look but it was all deserted and derelict, the doors had been left open and the building was decaying and there were people down there. We were wondering whether we should go down there and have a look and find out what was going to be so new about 94 with the range of Peugeot vehicles that they were selling

old chimney Zahradnictví Mudroch garden centre Mariánsko-Lázenská silnice 897, 360 01 Brezová, Czech republic eric hallRound about 10:30 I set off on my marathon hike into town.

However I didn’t go very far before I was side-tracked. I ended up having a good walk around the little town where I was first – mainly because I noticed this old chimney.

By the looks of things, over there, there’s a huge greenhouse complex over there across the river and so what that chimney might be doing – pure speculation here – is that it might be for a furnace for heating the greenhouses in order to give everything a head start in spring.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that back in days gone by I used to cover my ground with thick black plastic for the same reason.

river tepla  360 01 Brezová, Czech republic eric hallDid someone say “river” just now?

Right across from the hotel behind a row of houses is the River Tepla. If I walk on about 200 yards there are no houses and so I can see the river quite clearly.

I’m told that its name, Tepla, means “warm” in old Slavonic which of course makes perfect sense because Karlovy Vary near to where we are is one of the most important Spa towns of Central Europe with warm springs just about everywhere.

headless statue of soldier 360 01 Brezová, Czech republic eric hallThis was something that I found quite interesting, and if only my Czech were good enough to ask someone about it.

It is of course a soldier and the clothing puts it at about the end of the 19th Century and maybe just about into World War I. But for what particular reason would anyone want to decapitate it?

It’s probably necessary to mention that here, we are in one of the most turbulent regions of Central Europe. This was a part of mainstream German-speaking Bohemia of the Austrian Empire that found itself against its own wishes transferred to an “enemy” country (the Czech Legion fought with the Russians in World War I and continued the fight against the Austrians after the October Revolution) in 1919.

After years of agitation it was absorbed by Germany in 1938 (the Sudeten Crisis) but in 1945 the Czechs recovered the area and all of the Germans were forcibly expelled.

And so this symbolic act of decapitation (if it really is a symbolic act and not something that has been done by accident) could refer to almost anything.

renault thalia 360 01 Brezová, Czech republic eric hallIt’s a very long walk into Karlovy Vary as I mentioned earlier. But there was plenty to see on the way.

Lioke this car, for example. A Renault of course, but not one that you would expect to see on the roads in France. And although it’s described as a Renault Thalia, regular readers of this rubbish will recall HAVING SEEN ONE BEFORE when it was called a Renault Symbol.

It’s basically a Renault Clio destined for markets where hatchbacks aren’t very popular, and they are made in Turkey.

hotel imperial karlovy vary czech republic eric hallIt’s quite a slog into town from Bresova where my hotel is, although it’s a beautiful walk, I have to say, and although it was sunny, it wasn’t too hot.

But sooner or later we eventually begin to see the signs of things to come, like this magnificent building that can only be a hotel situated on top of a ridge.

It is in fact the Hotel Imperial, dating from 1912 and I was proudly told that it was the first building in what is now the Czech Republic to have been built with poured concrete. There’s a road that goes up there of course, but there’s also a cable car, so I was informed.

Just about anyone who is anybody has stayed here in this hotel and I can well understand it because I have seen the prices.

park hotel richmond karlovy vary czech republic eric hallBut before I can reach where the Hotel Imperial might be situated, I start to encounter a few more hotels. I must be reaching the town now, or at least, something connected with it.

This is the Park Hotel Richmond. Although its history goes back to the middle of the 19th Century the present building dates from 1925. And there’s much more of it than you can see in this photo because altogether there are 5 floors and 117 guest rooms, as well as a whole host of other features.

It’s well hidden inside its own little park and you wouldn’t ever know that there’s so much of it here.

statue of beethoven karlovy vary czech republic eric hallOne thing about Karlovy vary with it being the haunt of the rich and famous, is that there have been all kids of people who have come here.

Amongst the visitors here was Ludwig Van Beethoven, who came here on two occasions in 1812.

And if you think that his monument is rather grand, it’s rather a cheat, because it’s not really “his” monument. There used to be a statue of the Emperor Franz Josef I of the Austrian Empire on this spot but once Czechoslovakia was created, then it was only natural that the Emperor received his marching orders.

Beethoven has in fact only been here since 1929

statue freidrich schiller karlovy vary czech republic eric hallSomeone else who had a famous stay in Karlovy Vary was the German playwright and poet Freidrich Schiller.

He came here in 1791 and during his stay he began to write his “Wallenstein Trilogy”, the story of the Bohemian General von Wallenstein who despite being born a Protestant, led Catholic forces against the Protestants in the 30 Years War, just one of the many, many reasons why he was such an unpopular character.

During a programme of Embellishment of the town during the early years of the 20th Century the committee in charge of the programme engaged architects Freidrich Ohmann and Max Hiller to design this memorial to celebrate the 150 years of Schiller’s birth in 1759.

And when I saw it, I couldn’t help but think of a couple of lines of the poem written by Conrad Meyer about the funeral of Schiller –

A waving pall. A vulgar coffin made of pine
With not a wreath, not e’en the poorest, and no train

I wonder what Meyer would have to say about this memorial.

river tepla Art Gallery Karlovy Vary czech republic eric hallIf anyone thinks that I’ve arrived at the town now, they would be mistaken. There’s still a long way to go yet before I reach the end.

Here, I find myself in another gorge and I need to push on from here. I’ll be following the River Tepla again, nicely canalised with proper stone.

On my left is the Art Gallery. I meant to take a photograph of it from a better angle on my way back and to my bitter regret I forgot. But it’s a beautiful building that also dates from the Embellishment programme of the early 20th Century. Prior to this, it is said that this was an important shopping area, although the clients must have had something of a walk to reach here.

strange bicycle karlovy vary czech republic eric hallBut I’m not going that way quite yet. I’ve been side-tracked by this strange machine.

It’s obviously a bicycle of some kind and this little boy is having a whale of a time riding up and down in front of the Art Gallery.

Had my Czech been up to anything I would have asked him about it and even maybe cadged a lift into town. But unfortunately the Czech Republic wasn’t a member of the EU when I working was there so I never had the opportunity to learn much of the language.

hot water manhole cover karlovy vary czech republicç  eric hallBut before I move away from here there is one thing that I ought to be photographing.

Karlovy Vary is, as I have said, famous for its hot springs and there is thus a considerable volume of hot water that is being discharged throughout the town. So even some of the manhole covers have a warning written on them to inform whoever might want to lift off the cover that there’s hot water flowing by underneath.

This kind of place looks like the kind of place where I would like to sit in the middle of a local Czech winter, and I bet that it’s popular with the local animals too.

Kaiserbad Spa karlovy vary czech republic eric hallThis is a rather depressing thing to see, especially for lovers of James Bond.

This is the famous Kaiserbad Spa, designed by Hermann Hellmer and Ferdinand Fellner and built on the sire of a former brewery. It was opened in 1895 and was full of the latest state-of-the-art equipment of its day, even down to the very first electric exercise machines designed by Gustav Zander who exhibited at the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition in 1870.

It was also the venue for a whole series of international chess championships in the early years of the 20th Century.

With the decline in visitors after World War II it lost a great deal of its splendour and in the 1980s became a casino and then a luxury hotel, both projects which failed spectacularly.

Most people will know it from the James Bond film CASINO ROYALE, filmed in Karlovy Vary, where its exterior was featured on several occasions during the various “entry into the Casino” scenes.

But having been left to ruin for the last 30 or so years it’s slowly being restored. And about time too because by all accounts it’s supposed to be magnificent inside with loads of frescoes and the like.

terrace of houses Marianskolazenska Karlovy Vary Czech republic eric hallJust opposite the Kaiserbad Spa are rows of magnificent terraced houses that must have been where the cream of society came to stay in the heyday of Karlovy Vary in the late 19th Century.

The name Karlovy Vary might not be very familiar to you but if I were to mention that until about 1945 the place was known as Karlsbad or Carlsbad, then a few bells might start ringing

It was a town considered by many important dignitaries to be the Jewel in the Crown of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, with its 13 major springs and, in total, well over 300 sources of water bubbling away out of the rocks all over the town. Anyone who was anybody wanted to come here to take the waters”.

horse drawn carriage terrace of houses Marianskolazenska Karlovy Vary Czech republic eric hallIt is said that the city was founded by, and it was certainly named for Charles IV, King of Bohemia after he had bathed in a hot spring that he had found in the forest here while hunting, although there were plenty of settlements here already.

A charter was granted to the town by the Emperor Charles in 1370 but it wasn’t until the arrival of the railway in 1870 that things began to take off. And the rise in visitors was spectacular. By the time of the outbreak of World War I there were well over 70,000 visitors coming each year.

With the incorporation of Bohemia into the Austrian Empire in 1526 a great number of ethnic Germans moved to settle in the area, and political turmoil and unrest amongst the mainly German population of the town after the region was incorporated into Czechoslovakia reduced the flow of visitors, and numbers fell again under Communist rule.

It’s only now that the tourists are returning to the area, now that the facilities are being restored.

grand hotel pupp river tepla karlovy vary karlovy vary czech republic eric hallWe talked about the Jales Bond film CASINO ROYALE just now. This is the Grand Hotel Pupp – one of the buildings that featured considerably in the film.

It’s not the only film to have been made here either. There have been about a dozen that I could trace, mainly Czech films, but the Jackie Chan film SHANGHAI KNIGHTS and the Gerald Dépardieu film LAST HOLIDAY are two others that many people might know.

The original building on this site was called “The Saxon Hall”, so-called because the construction in 1701 was partly financed by Friedrich August, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, and the staff who manned the building came mainly from Leipzig

grand hotel pupp casino Mírove nam Karlovy Vary Czech republic club eric hallIn 1708 the mayor of Karlovy Vary built a competing Hall on an adjacent plot and this became known as the “Czech Hall”. And gradually over the next 70 years or so, various constructions and enlargements continued down the street.

In 1778 the Pupp family, confectioners, bought the Czech Hall and put a lot of effort transforming it into one of the most popular places in the town, which resulted in the owners of the Saxon Hall endeavouring to find ways to out-compete their neighbours and for 100 years a fierce rivalry ensued

This came to an end in 1890 when the Pupp family finally managed to acquire the Saxon Hall and in 1892 the whole site was cleared away and construction of the present building began.

grand hotel pupp river tepla karlovy vary czech republic eric hallSince then it’s been through several stages of reconstruction.

The facade was improved in 1907 thanks to a design by Hermann Hellmer and Ferdinand Fellner whom we met at the Kaiserbad Spa down the road, and in 1923 every room was converted with en-suite facilities. In 1934 the house next door was bought and the hotel expanded. It ended up with a total of 1080 beds at its maximum

Although World War II didn’t affect the town particularly, the hotel became a hospital for wounded German officers. The story goes that a hoard of supplies of coffee and other scarce goods was discovered and was expropriated by the Luftwaffe and the Submarine service.

grand hotel pupp fountain river tepla karlovy vary czech republic  eric hallAfter the War the hotel was nationalised as the Grand Hotel Moskva and became a reward centre for Communist Party officials and exemplary peasants and factory workers. However it was during this period that the hotel became quite run-down.

Several attempts were made to try to restore it but various political upheavals such as the 1968 invasion disrupted everything. The luxury clientele who had begun to be lured back melted away again in all of the turmoil and it wasn’t until after the end of Communism that things began to change for the better.

In 1992 it was privatised. Its original name was reinstated and the Pupp family returned to the helm, and in 1994 the International Film Festival which had taken place here intermittently in the past now became a regular feature, and led to its appearance in a whole variety of films.

river tepla quisisana palace hotel Marianskolazenska Karlovy Vary Czech republic eric hallAcross the road from the Grand Hotel Pupp is the Quisisana Palace Hotel, one of a chain of hotels apparently.

It’s a building that was constructed between 1887 and 1888 in a mixture of the neo-Renaissance, neo-Gothic and neo-Baroque styles.

It has 19 luxury rooms and suites and although I wasn’t able to stick my nose in to see what it was like, looking at the photos of the rooms tells me that I wouldn’t be able to afford anythng there. With its spa and massage parlours and all of that, it will be way out of my budget.

The bridge over the River Tepla is very interesting too with its lovely wrought-iron scrollwork.

fountains river tepla karlovy vary czech republic eric hallJust a little further on from the Grand Hotel Pupp is the corner where the River Tepla turns the corner and heads down into the town.

The fountains here are quite nice but they don’t spring up much higher than that.

There was some nice shade just there under the trees. I went along and sat there for a few minutes to take advantage of it. The heat was really oppressive right now.

And it wasn’t until I returned to my hotel and looked closely at the photograph that I saw the statue of Jesus up there on the rock behind the houses. I’ve no idea what it’s for but it’s something to do with the “Forest Devotion”, whatever that might be.

river tepla karlovy vary czech republic eric hallHaving restored myself in the shade for a few minutes I could wander off now towards the town centre.

Going around the bend … “quite” – ed … in the river I come out towards the most beautiful riverside promenade, as you can see. It follows the river all the way into the town centre.

And I really do mean “all the way to the town centre” because there was still a long way to go. The town of Karlovy Vary is nestled in a very steep valley so the town is very long and thin as it follows the river valley.

fountain river tepla sparkasse karlovy vary czech republic eric hallWe’ve already seen a couple of fountains bursting up out of the river, and here’s another one a little further along. It seems that fountains are the “in” thing around here.

More interesting that the fountains though is the yellowish building in the background. Looking closely at it I could see the word “Sparkasse” on the facade just above the clock.

Why that is interesting is because it’s “Savings bank” in German. As I have probably said before, until 1918 this was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire where German was the main language, and this area was quite Germanic.

After the end of the Second World War the German-speaking population was expelled and the Czech population took over the town. Looking for signs of the pre-1945 Germanic population in these areas is something that I like to do, and here we are with quite a good example.

market colonnade karlovy vary czech republic eric hallFurther along there was a choice of following the river or taking a short cut to cut off a corner by following the Tržište.

This street took me past the Market Colonnade. This was built at the height of the period of glory of the town, between 1882 and 1883. It’s a wooden colonnade and is said to be “in the Swiss Style”. The architects were Ferdinand Fellner and Hermann Hellmer.

The reason for its construction was to cover three natural springs, the Charles IV Spring, the Lower Castle Spring and the Market Spring. After 1945 it fell into decay like most things here but was restored during the early 1990s.

mill colonnade karlovy vary czech republic eric hallFurther along the street I rejoin the river and continue my trek along the promenade and end up at the Mill Colonnade.

This is another construction from the belle epoque of Karlovy Vary, designed in the Pseudo-Renaissance style by the Bohemian architect Josef Zítek and built during the period 1871-1881 and officially opened on 5th June 1881. Zitek by the way was Professor of Civil Engineering at Czech Institute of Technology in Prague.

It’s the largest of the colonnades in Karlovy Vary.

On top of the central part are twelve statues. These are allegorical in that they represent the months of the year, although the significance of the statues beats me.

charles 4 Mill Spring spa karlovy vary czech republic eric hallThere are five springs within the building, the Mill Spring, the Rusalka Spring, the Prince Wenceslas Spring, the Libuše Spring and the Rock Spring.

On the way out of time I called at the Mill Spring for a drink but it wasn’t exactly cooling. This one here is the Mill Spring and the water that comes out of it is at 57.8°C. That’s not exactly cooling in this weather.

It’s one of the oldest captured springs in the town, dating back to the 16th Century. Back in 1705 it was one of the first to be recommended for drinking and since then its water has been bottled and sold all around the world. I’m not sure why though because having had a mouthful of it I can say that it tastes disgusting. I wouldn’t want to try a bottle full.

river tepla Vrídelní Karlovy Vary, Czech republic eric hallWhere I was standing to take the photo of the colonnade was on some kind of plaza built right over the river.

Looking behind me, I can see all the way down the Vrídelní , the street on the right bank of the River Tepla. That’s quite a busy little street with lots of shops, restaurants and hotels all along it and looking at the roofs over there, there’s some kind of street market going on down there too.

On the other side of the river, we’re looking at the back of a block of flats. It’s quite splendid for flats, I have to say, and it’s easy to imagine the people who might have stayed there during the belle epoque at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th Century.

park colonnade windsor spa karlovy vary czech republic eric hallThis building here is the Park Colonnade.

It’s built of cast iron and is actually all that remains of a restaurant and concert hall that was called the Blanenský Pavilion. This was designed by the architects Ferdinand Fellner and Hermann Helmer who we met a little earlier when we were at the Market Colonnade.

This was built prior to the Market Colonnade – between 1880 and 1881 in fact – and assembled from parts that had been cast at the Blansko Iron Works and was opened on 5th June 1881.

After the end of the Belle Epoque the building suffered badly and by 1965 it was in such a poor condition that it was demolished. Just the colonnade remains today.

T. G. Masaryka Karlovy Vary Czech republic eric hallA brisk walk along the river from the Park Colonnade brought me into the modern centre of the town.

This is the T.G. Masaryka and it’s around here where you might find all of the modern shops. And if you are wondering to whom the T.G. Masaryka refers, It refers actually to Tomaš Garrigue Masaryk who was a Bohemian politician born in 1850.

Prior to World War I he was working hard to try to convince people to accept the transformation into a Federal State. At the start of World War I he fled into exile and organised the Czech Legion to fight on the side of the Allied Powers with the aim of liberating the Czechs and Slovaks from Austrian rule.

At the end of the war, with the Czechs and Slovaks freed from Austrian domination and was voted President of Czechoslovakia, a position he held until 1935. He was the father of Jan Masaryk, President of Czechslovakia from 1945 until his mysterious death in 1948 on the eve of the Communist takeover.

There was an interesting encounter in this street with regard to money.

The Czech Republic isn’t a member of the Eurozone and still uses Kronor the local currency. At the bank in the cash machine, I was offered 22:13 Kronor to the Euro.

But in one of these exchange booths scattered about the city I was offered 1290Kronor for 50 Euros, an exchange rate of 25.8 Kronor with no commission. And seeing as neither of us had any small change, I ended up with 1300 Kronor.

Someone asked me what I would do if I ended up with money left over after my travels here are over.

The answer is the same that we used to do back in the 70s and 80s when travelling by road in obscure regions of the world. You simply fuel up the vehicle with what local currency you have left.

But returning to the street in front of us, its pedestrianisation was awarded the title of Construction of the Year 2004.

samec kubicek obelisk fountain Alzbetiny Lazne Smetanovy sady Smetana orchards karlovy vary czech republic eric hallJust to my right in the previous photo is the obelisk that you can see in this photo, the Samec Kubicek Obelisk.

It’s a symbolic feature, so we are told, and it’s supposed to represent the boundary between “the peaceful spa area and the excited rhythm of the business zone”.

And if you think that this is pretentions prose, then how about “The pregnant stern silhouette of the obelisk was permeated and visually softened by the bluish light energy from the translucent glass fields with sandblasted drawing and the rounded lines of water splashes”? I don’t want anyone ever criticising any pretentious prose that I might have written when they have this kind of prose to contend with.

The obelisk is situated in the middle of a fountain, a fountain that I didn’t think was all that impressive.

market stall varsavska karlovy vary czech republic eric hallThrough the shopping area I went, and came out the other side into the Varsavska where there was a street market stall selling fruit.

The fruit looked quite delicious and I was tempted, until I saw the swarms of wasps around them. I didn’t want the wasps transferring their attention to me and so I declined the opportunity.

It was interesting to see the “Slovensko” on the edge of the awning over the fruit. That of course is “Slovakia” in the Czech and Slovak language.

The big building behind it with the nice cupola is the former Municipal Market Building. In a sign of the time these days, it’s a supermarket and pharmacy.

bus station varsavska karlovy vary czech republic eric hallIn front of the Municipal Market Building is the local bus station.

The bus service around the town was something that impressed me considerably. There were quite a few stands at the bus station with a regular stream of vehicles, and also a large crowd of passengers waiting to board them. It seems that public transport is quite a big thing around here.

It seemed to be quite a friendly town for pedestrians. Plenty of streets are closed to motor traffic as we have already seen. I headed off up one of them back towards the quieter part of the town where all of the tourists hang out.

Alzbetiny Lazne Smetanovy sady Karlovy Vary Czech republic eric hallOn the way back from the commercial end of town I passed by this rather gorgeous but very shabby building.

It’s actually a building called the Alžbetiny Lázne, otherwise known as the Elizabeth Spa. And just in case you are wondering who the Elizabeth might be, she was the Empress Elizabeth, more widely known by her nickname “Sissi”.

Born of the Wittelsbach family in Bavaria where we were the other day, she married the Emperor Franz Joseph, seven years her superior, when she was just 16 and was immediately thrown into the limelight to which she was totally unaccustomed. she struggled against her mother in law in an attempt to influence her husband but was particularly unsuccessful.

In the end she fell victim to the Anarchy movement, being assassinated by an Italian anarchist in 1898.

Alzbetiny Lazne Smetanovy sady Karlovy Vary Czech republic eric hallThe building and its Spa were designed in the pseudo-baroque style by the Municipal Architect Franz Drobny. It was built between 1905 and 1906 and formally opened on 18th June 1906.

After the creation of Czechoslovakia, the Spa was renamed as the much more banal “Spa Five”. It was renovated between 1969 and 1973 and again about 20 years ago. While the interior might be the State of the Art, I wish that they had spent some time on the outside because it’s not as good-looking close to as it does from a distance.

In front of it is a fountain featuring the statue of a nude girl, designed in 1963 by Bretislav Benda.

There’s also a very smart little park in front of the building that you might have seen earlier in the photo of the pyramid thing. It’s called the Smetana Park, named after the Bohemian composer Bedrich Smetana.

Having brought a book and a bottle of water with me, I sat down and rested for an hour or so. I can’t say that I didn’t need it.

Now that I was rested, I went off and found something to eat for lunch. There was an Italian guy selling pasta and pizza from a stall and we ended up having quite a little chat in Italian. And then I headed off in the general direction of home, on the other side of the river to which I came.

river tepla Hotel Pavlov Ivana Petrovice Pavlova Karlovy Vary Czech republic eric hallThis buiding over there in the Ivana Petrovice Pavlova is the Hotel Pavlov.

What’s exciting about this building as far as I am concerned is its shape. And when you look at it and compare it to the famous “flat iron” on the corner of Broadway and Fifth Avenue in New York, it just goes to show what you can do with a little imagination, something of which is desperately lacking in almost every single piece of architecture in the USA.

The building behind it to the right in the photograph is interesting too. It was probably an old hotel or something similar at one time but now it’s a kind of shopping centre now with quite a few little boutiques in there. I went in there for a good look around but there was nothing in there that was of any interest to me.

Vyhlídka nad Mlýnskou kolonádou Tawan Nikolina Thai Spa House Mlýnské nábr  Karlovy Vary, Czech republic eric hallComing out of the little shopping centre I had a look across the river to see what I could see.

Over there is some kind of obelisk over there reached by several flights of stairs. Where it’s situated is called the Vyhlídka nad Mlýnskou Kolonádou which, crudely translated by Yours Truly, means “The Viewpoint Above The Mill Colonnade”. I’ve no idea if the colonnade has any significance because I didn’t go up to look.

The building to the right is the Tawan Nikolina, the Villa Nikolina. That’s now a Thai spa and massage centre and right now I could do with paying it a little visit myself after all of my exertions just now.

By now it was time for me to make a start on my walk back home so I began to retrace my steps back to my hotel.

river tepla St Mary Magdalene's Church karlovy vary czech republic eric hallThis is the Church of St Mary Magdalene that I missed on my way into town.

Designed by the Bohemian architect Kilián Ignác Dientzenhofer, it was built in the High Baroque style between 1733 and 1736 to replace a previous church that dated back to the 14th Century but which was in poor condition following a couple of fires.

It’s actually built on top of the crypt of the previous church and you can go down there to have a look at the remains of several people who were interred there during the life of the previous church. Unfortunately it was closed when I went there so I missed out on that and also in seeing the magnificent altar.

Incidentally, in 2010 the church was added to the list of National Historical Monuments.

fountain Stara Louka Karlovy Vary Czech republic eric hallAfter the Church of St Mary Magdalene I found myself back at the Vrídlo – pramen c1, otherwise known as “Hot Spring Number One”.

Because of the pressure of the water in this spring and the amount of carbon dioxide in it, the jet can in some circumstances reach up to 12 metres in height and a temperature of 73°C. Whenever it reaches those extremes, you won’t find all these people loitering around in the vicinity.

On the hill in the background up on the hill is the Diana Observation Tower. That’s probably the place where the view of the town and the surrounding area is the most interesting. It’s been a favourite place with walkers.

They built a funicular lift up to the top of the hill in 1909 and in 1912, to accommodate the increase in visitors, local architect Anton Breinl designed the tower that is now up there. That was opened to the public on 27th May 1914, just in time for the conflict that folllowed.

river tepla Stara Louka Karlovy Vary Czech republic eric hallA few steps further on I can stand on a bridge overlooking the river and admire the fountains that I saw on the way in.

And the esplanade there on the right alongside the river is all terraced out with seats and tables from the cafés in the immediate vicinity. It’s an ideal place to relax even if the shade is rather limited – or, at least it would have been until I saw the prices that they were charging for a coffee. I only wanted a drink – I didn’t want to buy the table and chair.

Instead, I strode off on my way down the street looking for something at a more democratic price. The spring water was out of the question of course. It’s much too warm in this kind of weather, but I was confident that I would find something as I travelled along on my way back to my hotel.

Karlovy Vary City Theatre Divadelní nám Karlovy Vary Czech republis eric hallOne of the most exciting buildings in Karmlovy Vary is the City Theatre.

This was designed by the architechts Fellner and Helmer who designed several other buildings in the town, including the Market Colonnade and the Blanenský Pavilion, of which the Park Colonnade is all that remains. Building began in 1884 and it opened in 15th May 1886 with a performance of “The Marriage of Figaro”.

And that reminds me of the story of the time that someone asled me if I knew about “The Marriage of Figaro” and “Madame Butterfly”. I replied that I didn’t even know that they were engaged.

The interior is just as magnificent as the exterior, with chandeliers, paintings and sculptures designed by a whole host of local painters and sculptors and that’s another building that I would have loved to have visited had it been open to the public at the time when I went past.

river tepla Interhotel Central Divadelní nám Karlovy Vary Czech republic eric hallAcross the river from where I’m walking on my way home is the Interhotel Central, very proud of its “hundred-year history”, something that features prominently in everything that you ever read about the place, although they never seem to go into any details about it.

It’s actually a sanatorium and deals with gastric diseases, and is also a rehabilitiation centre for post-cancer issues. I made a note of the latter for my own purposes, as well as a note of the former if my cooking doesn’t improve.

And I wish that I’d found out more about the building that we can see in the rear to the left in the Lubusina. That’s probably one of the most exciting and interesting buildings that I’ve seen in the town and I could quite happily settle down in a place like that.

As I wandered along the side of the River Tepla on my way back, I came across an Ice-cream stall selling vegan ice cream. In the heat, and having been defied in my attempts to buy a coffee, I stopped and bought one of the aforementioned and took myself off to a quiet place in the shade to eat it.

fountain river tepla karlovy vary czech republic  eric hallSo while I sit here and eat it, I can reflect on my visit to Karlovy Vary before I leave the town.

It’s a beautiful town. Some of it is very much decayed but other parts are well maintained and there is quite a bit of renovation. Plenty of new build too, but unfortunately it doesn’t blend in with the late 19th Century splendour.

And splendour there is a-plenty. It looks really nice today – a fine example of a Bohemian city – but imagine what it must have looked like at the height of its fame in 1913 before World War I destroyed the Austro-Hungarian Empire and we had all of the Sudeten nonsense. It must have been magnificent.

Back home was uphill of course and that wasn’t as easy as going down to town. However using the old British Army marching order of 50 minutes march with 10 minutes rest for every hour I made it back home safe enough.

bridge support river tepla Brezová Czech republic eric hallNot before I’d had a good look at this though – something that caught my eye on my way back to my hotel.

The bridge over the River Tepla here is a reasonably new one but on the right here are some vestiges of a previous construction that might possibly have been of z girder bridge that might have been previously on the site.

It’s interesting, if not amusing, to think about the bridge that might previously have been here and to wonder about its fate. Was it blown up by the Czechs in 1938 during the German invasion? Or was it blown up by the Germans as they retreated north-westwards from the invading Americans?

Or was it simply dismantled when the new bridge was built here? Or is it nothing to do with the bridge at all?

Finally back in my hotel room I crashed out for a while . And waking up, I set tea on route while I had a good shower, shave and clothes wash. And I needed it all too.

Even though it’s early, I’m now off to bed. It’s been a long, tiring day and I’m going to be doing the same tomorrow too. It’s been years since I’ve being this way and I intend to make the most of it.