Tag Archives: floods

Saturday 26th June 2021 – THE BIGGEST SURPRISE …

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall… today was the fact that when I went out for my afternoon walk today, there were actually a couple of people down there on the beach.

You only have to look at the photo to see what kind of afternoon it was. When I went out for my afternoon walk it was raining quite heavily and there was a rolling, wet, claggy mist everywhere that was engulfing everyone and everything in its path.

There wasn’t any point in asking me to look out to sea because I couldn’t see a thing. It was far worse than yesterday and I think that our brief encounter with Summer is finished.

This morning though, when I awoke, it wasn’t all that bad and it looked as if it might actually be quite a promising day. Certainly, me being out of bed as the first alarm was ringing is quite promising if nothing else is.

After breakfast I went and had a listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night. There was something strange about three of us having to go to some kind of meeting of the army, something like that. I know that I had these khaki battledress things with zips and everything so I had to hide them before I could go to this meeting. We were all meeting up for breakfast at the Chinese Coach Park café. Liz was coming as well but she was saying that she was going to sit somewhere else because she wasn’t into eating meals in polite company, all these affected mannerisms and everything. I told her “well that’s rather crazy because no-one is going to be watching anyway. We’re all going to be doing the same thing”. Something came around about buying a house. I was thinking of moving or buying a house somewhere. The suggestion came up with Terry that perhaps I ought to think about buying a house with them.

There was much more to this but I really can’t remember it now.

Having organised myself a little I went and bashed on with the photos from the USA in August 2019. And by the time that I’d finished, I’d crossed back over the border into Canada and the province of Saskatchewan.

And now I think that I only have British Columbia and the Yukon Territory to visit. It’s only 3,000 kilometres by road from Vancouver to Whitehorse. I can foresee an aeroplane journey in the near future.

After a shower and a change of clothes I headed off to the shops. NOZ came up with very little, except a long queue at the checkouts, and LeClerc had nothing really exciting, although they did have some nice vegan mini-burgers in breadcrumbs. It was expensive though because I needed coffee and also apples which are much more expensive than they have been.

Back here I put the frozen food away and made myself a hot chocolate (with real chocolate) which went down nicely.

The next thing that I remember was that it was 14:00 and I’d been asleep for a couple of hours. There was something on the dictaphone too. One little thing that I had when I would start out was that I was working in an office and I’d been on my lunch break. When it came towards the end of my lunch break I realised that I couldn’t find my fruit so I tried to remember where I had it last. That was down i the basement somewhere so I went all the way down in this basement down all these escalators with these people behind me talking about different things. I reached the bottom where the tunnel went under the road but there was no fruit there. I had to take the escalators back up and I suddenly remembered that i’d put them in the fridge at the back of my desk last night as I was going home. I wondered if they were still there. I came back up and headed off to my office thinking that I’d be horribly late and sure enough everyone was there. There was a girl sitting at my place doing some temporary work so I asked her if I could have my desk back. She said “yes” and “that was nice. We’ll have to do it again sometime” in a kind-of sarcastic manner. The girl who was sitting behind me said “we’ll have to work out hw much of my desk you’ve got so you can pay me some money and I can pay someone else”. I said “I think that there are about 4 things in it” but we opened the drawer and we counted about 8 or 9 so she started to laugh. There were some other things in there. I remembered that someone had given them to me to keep them safe because they related to someone who had just come to work in the office. I’m glad that they were still there but I wasn’t sure how I was going to explain that to this girl because I’d put them in her desk. When we were counting up this stuff I might have to know how to justify it and I thought “why should I have to pay for stuff that belongs to the office anyway?”

After lunch there was football on the internet. Rhyl 1879 were hosting Bangor 1876 in a friendly match and surprisingly, given the history between these two teams, it was quite friendly too. Both these teams have a very long and successful history but due to all kinds of difficulties, now find themselves languishing in Tier 4 of the Welsh pyramid.

Bangor won 1-0 and I’ll tell you something for nothing that if this was a Tier 4 match, then either Tier 1 is going to be fantastic this season or else quite a few Tier 1 clubs are going to be in for a shock.

By now it was time for me to go out for my afternoon walk around the headland so remembering my mask and my cap I set off.

lighthouse semaphore pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd it comes as no surprise to anyone to know that I was all alone out there this afternoon.

There wasn’t another soul … “ahhh soul” – ed … out there on the path at the top of the headland facing the Baie de Granville. I had the path al to myself – just me, the lighthouse and the semaphore station in the distance.

Plenty of that white tape still there though and I think that I’ve found out to what it relates as well. As went out and about this morning I saw lots of signs about pedestrians in the streets tonight. There’s some kind of walk going on. Although if it carries on raining like this, it won’t be a walk, it will be a swim

frogman pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThis is not actually a sneak preview of tonight’s walk, even if it will end up something like this tonight I reckon.

While I’d been on my way down the path and across the car park at the end on my way to the end of the headland, I’d seen something swimming about offshore and I was wondering if it might have been a dolphin or a porpoise or whatever they are. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that in the past we have seen a few of those.

But as it broke surface, I could see that it was actually a diver, complete with rubber ring. And by the look on his face, he was just as surprised to see me as I was surprised to see him. He gave me a really good, long look as if I was doing something that I wasn’t supposed to dp.

frogman pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd he wasn’t alone either, which was even more of a surprise.

There were a couple of other objects that were loitering just underneath the water and which had caught my eye. One of them floated up to the surface and it turned out to be yet another diver. So what’s going on just offshore here that requires the service of three divers, because I reckoned that the other object is probably a diver too

However, I’m not likely to receive very much of an answer from them because they were too far out to shout at and I wouldn’t have heard their reply. And I’m not expecting to see anything in the newspaper tomorrow either. And so I just turned round and cleared off.

mother and child waiting for father peche a pied pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallA little further on I heard a little voice shouting “papa, papa from somewhere down at the back of the chantier navale so I tried to have a look for the source of the sound.

So down there sitting on a rock underneath a large umbrella was a mother and her little child – a daughter by the looks of things. Having a look farther out among the rocks I could see someone who looked very much like papa doing some prospecting down there in the fashion of the peche à pied.

The tide is still quite far out and the public areas are uncovered so he’d gone for a scavenge around. Howevern I imagine that his wife and daughter were not so keen and so had taken shelter under the umbrella. Not that I blame them. Given half a chance, I’d be under an umbrella myself.

flooded footpath pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnother one of my favourite moans, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, is the state of the public footpaths around the headland.

Just there is the viewpoint that overlooks the harbour and you can see that it’s practically inaccessible today. As usual, whenever there is persistent rain, the footpath floods like that and everyone has to go for a very wet and slippery scramble around on the grass.

It’s not by any means the first time that it’s been like that. It was like that when I first came here over 4 years ago and it’s never ever become any better. In fact it’s deteriorating from one day to the next.

Much as it pains me to say it, this is a tourist resort and a great deal of income comes from tourism. And yet the facilities for the tourists are falling into disrepair as the local council, whoever it is who is running the show, is making little effort to improve or even maintain it.

They’ll soon by crying when the tourists stop coming, which they will do if things don’t improve..

yacht rebelle trawler philcathane chantier navale port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallEventually I did manage to find a place where I could look down at what was going on in the harbour.

Of course, the chantier navale is bound to be my first port of call, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall. The yacht Rebelle from London is still in there, as I thought she might be, and so is the trawler who appeared in there yesterday.

And I can tell you her name now too. She’s one of our old favourites Philcathane. As I went off to the shops this morning in Caliburn I drove past the chantier navale and I could read the name on the side of her superstructure.

But nobody seems to be working on her today. Whether it’s because of the weather or because it’s weekend I don’t know. But neither is preventing someone from being aboard Rebelle.

l'omerta port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallMeanwhile, back around towards the Fish Processing Plant, another one of our old favourites is back.

That is L’Omerta which is Italian for silence and also the name of the oath that the Mafia take, so I’m interested to see how come a fishing boat here in Granville carries that name.

Another thing that interests me is to find out why there are quite a few fishing boats being tied up in a NAABSA (Not Always Afloat But Safely Aground. When I first came here it was a very rare thing to see one and when you did, it had been tied up so that maintenance could be carried out on it. But these days, it’s getting to the stage where it’s two or three every week.

But in the unpleasant, wet weather I pushed on towards home.

new fishing boat l'alize 3 port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut here in the inner harbour something else caught my eye.

The white fishing boat there is one that I don’t recall having seen before. Maybe I have, I don’t know, but it doesn’t look very familiar to me. I can see that I’m going to have to go for another wander around down at the quayside some time soon.

But not right now. I’m heading for home and a nice mug of hot coffee.

And then I have some searching to do on the internet. It’s high time I upgraded my big computer and I need quite a few things to do so. They aren’t going to be bought and the computer upgraded if I just sit here and do nothing about it, even if it is going to be expensive.

Guitar practice went well for a change and then I went for tea. A couple of those burger things that I bought, baked potato and veg followed by apple pie and the custard that was left over from yesterday.

Next task that I mustn’t forget is to soak some lentils in the slow cooker and marinade some tofu. I’ve run out of vegan meat pie and I want to make another one tomorrow. Everything needs soaking and marinading to absorb all of the herbs and spices. Left overnight, it will be wonderful tomorrow.

And then I could press on with the journal.

Bed time now and I can’t say that I’m SORRY. I’ve had a tough week all told, much of which is due to ill-health and I’m not going to get any better. But we’ll see how things develop if I can have a good night’s sleep for once.

Saturday 15th August 2020 – I’VE DONE SOMETHING …

… today that I haven’t done since 2005. And this time even more so because while back then it cost me nothing, this time it’s cost me a lot of money.

But ask me if I care.

What I’ve done is to walk away from a hotel that I had booked for tonight and went somewhere else (far more expensive).

But more of this later. Last night I had a strange sleep – waking up at about 00:45 to find that the radio was playing. And then sleeping through until about 05:45 without moving. Not a single nocturnal voyage anyqhere to be seen

Plenty of time to do a load of paperwork and then I went down to breakfast. Unfortunately I wasn’t feeling too well so I didn’t eat much which was a shame because there was tons of stuff there. It could have been an outstanding breakfast.

Unfortunately Jackie wasn’t available but Alison was free today as well as tomorrow so we agreed to meet up this afternoon.

Dodging the roadworks and the heavy showers, I set off for Leuven.

Friterie Marsupilami Route de Marche, 6600 Bastogne, Belgium eric hallThe Lady Who Lives In The SatNav brought me all the way through Luxembourg, where I fuelled up before crossing the Belgian border (fuel at €0:97/litre) and the Ardennes, passing through the town of Bastogne where I stopped to take a photo of another abandoned bus

It’s an old “bendy bus”, one of the articulated buses and judging by its number plate it comes from the town of Rotenburg in Lower Saxony but it’s now the Friterie Marsupilami, the FritKot on the Edge of Town.

There’s a fritkot on almost every corner in Belgium and this is certainly one of the more interesting ones. It’s closed though so I couldn’t find out what it was like.

It took me a good while to find Alison’s house – The Lady Who Lives In The SatNav having brought me into town in entirely the wrong direction. It was a nice afternon so we went to the English shop for a supplies such as vegan ice cream.

herons Kasteel van Leefdaal belgium eric hallLater on we went for a walk. We discovered a new footpath that eventually took us past the Kasteel van Leefdaal.

Here we could admire the wildlife swimming on one of the many ponds – mostly man-made ponds – around there

Not that I would want to go swimming on a pond like that. There’s that much algae floating aound on top that you could probably walk on it – or, at least, someone lighter than me could. I must keep on with the battle to keep my weight down.

swans Kasteel van Leefdaal belgium eric hallThe Chateau isn’t open to the public unfortunately and it’s hidden behind a rather large wall so you can’t actually see very much of it.

Currently owned by the Counts of Liedekerke it dates from the Renaissance period and replaced a previous building. There is known to have been a building on the site since at least the 12th Century.

Armed with our vegan ice cream, we then went back to Alison’s house for a chat. We must be both getting old because we ended up crashing out in the garden in the sun, something that we found quite amusing, although in fact it was a rather sad indictment of our states of health these days.

Alison had to go out later so I set off through one of the most wicked rainstorms that I have ever encountered. All of the road round by Braine l’Alleud was flooded and the traffic lights at a road junction had failed. That led to certain complications until we all managed to sort ourselves out.

strawberry moose silly belgium eric hallAs well as having A FAVOURITE TOWN IN AUSTRIA Strawberry Moose also has a favourite town in Belgium.

It goes without saying that as we were passing within a mile or two of the place, we had to go there. His Nibs is never one to pass up on a photo opportunity whenever he gets the chance, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall.

Having done that, we headed off down to peruwelz on the Belgian – French border and my hotel. But one look at it convinced me that this was not where I wanted to stay. Crowds of single men loitering outside, sitting on the steps or leaning against the wall. Crowds of them.

It’s the kind pf place that gave me a most uneasy, eerie feeling that I can’t explain. But always having been one to rely on my own intuition, I decided that it wasn’t the place for me so I went elsewhere.

Tea tonight was a plate of chips and a salad, and watching the people coming into the fritkot, I can see immediately why the infection rate in Belgium is so high. Despite all of the precautions that are supposed to be taken, the wearing of masks is, shall we say, rather casual.

And the roads in Belgium are appalling. They are much worse that I ever remembered them. They are just like in a third-world country and for one of the richest countries in the world, it’s an embarrassment.

Tomorrow I won’t have far to go on Belgian roads because I’m close to the frontier here. About a kilometre away, I reckon.

With any luck I’ll be over the border early tomorrow and then a leisurely drive home. It might take a couple of days to make it but I’ll be back by the middle of the week. It’s been a long time

Wednesday 12th August 2020 – ANOTHER SWELTERING DAY …

… in the middle of this heatwave in Southern Germany. And I have surrendered to it all by buying a desktop fan to go with the USB fan that I bought for Caliburn yesterday (did I mention that?).

This morning, it was again 28°C early on and the news that there had been a cloudburst and that my home town back in the UK was 12 inches under water and they were all complaining now about too much rain didn’t really abate my humour all that much.

But anyway, I digress.

This morning I was awake quite early yet again and spent some time bringing the paperwork up to date and listening to the dictaphone.

Back in England everyone was worried that the amount of viruses was rising and yet people still weren’t taking things seriously, still not taking their masks seriously. We were walking between a couple of towns on a nice shady road near a river. We could see people disobeying the mask instructions all that kind of thing. We were convinced that they won’t last very long at all if they kep on going like this. There was a lot more to it than this but I don’t remember it now.

Later, it was time to disembark from the ship which was in fact an aeroplane so we all have to get ourselves ready and we all walked off down the gangplank a few of us together laughing and joking a little bit. One of the guys with whom I worked at the EU, he was coming on behind us and about to get into this queue with us. A couple of us said “we really don’t want to be in the queue with him”. Castor and Pollux were there too, and it’s nice to see them back with me again on my travels. They had changed into some nice clothes – I remember Pollux in a nice little top and a dark blue skirt. They just walked through Customs and walked away and didn’t look back, which left me feeling extremely disappointed.

When Hans came in we had a coffee and a good chat and organised a pile of stuff that needed organising.

Going to the bank to pay in his shop takings was next and then we went for breakfast at the bakery across the road. it was crowded with people and we had to sit inside for a change.

natural primeval forest eching germany eric hallGathering up the camera (but forgetting a bottle of water) we walked off out of town towards Garching in the sweltering heat.

A couple of kilometres outside the town on the left-hand side across the motorway is a nature reserve, the Echinger Lohe. It’s actually a piece of primeval woodland that was set aside in 1978 totally unmanaged as a natural forest reserve – some kind of experiment to see how a natural wood would have behaved before human intervention.

And what with all of the urban expansion in the vicinity of Munich that’s a feat in itself

natural primeval forest eching germany eric hallScrambling through the wire fence via a suitable opening we went inside.

It’s totally fascinating to see how it’s turned out. Nature is certainly doing a fine job here in this magnificent example of a climax forest. And all of the rotting tree trunks and branches that are passing through the “interesting shape” stage and disintegrating into powder and slowly regenerating the soil.

This is just as nature would have done several thousand years ago. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

natural primeval forest eching germany eric hallWe pushed our way deeper into the forest. It seemed to be the sensible thing to do in view of the heat.

One thing that impressed me about the place was how silent everywhere was. It was very broody and mysterious in there. Had a pile of Hurons leapt out from behind the trees, bow in hand, to overwhelm us I wouldn’t have been in the least surprised.

And although we didn’t see any large mammals, there is PLENTY OF EVIDENCE OF THEIR PRESENCE.

natural primeval forest eching germany eric hallWhen I say that the forest is totally unmanaged, that’s not to say that there hasn’t been any human intervention.

These stranee, crude constructions are apparently hides for cameras. Some University or something is carrying out some kind of survey on activity that takes place in the forest.

Of course they aren’t going to park themselves up in full view of the wildlife, but all the same I can’t say that I’m very impressed with disturbing nature like this. Surely they couls have brought in some artificial hides that would have done the trick and which they could have taken away later on, leaving very little trace.

tui aeroplane eching munich airport flightpath germany eric hallThere is plenty to see in this particular corner of Eching and so we left the cover and shade of the forest to go to see it.

One of the things to see, which might not appeal to everyone, is what is going on in the air. We are right in the flight path for the descent to Munich Airport which is about 5 or so miles and even with the grounding of many flights due to the effects of the pandemic, there is still the odd one passing overhead.

At first I didn’t recognise the livery of this plane, but having photographed and enlarged it, I can see that it’s one of the planes that fly for the big holiday company TUI.

open natural heathland eching germany eric hallOut here beyond the forest there’s a huge natural, unspoilt heathland, the Garchinger Heide too.

It’s a haven of wildlife that you wouldn’t usually find so close to a major city and large transportation hub. The wooden thing that you can see that looks like the handle of a spade is actually a perch for the various birds of prey and the like that are around here.

218 different varieties of natural plants have been recorded here, of which about 50 are on Germany’s “red list” of plants subject to Conservation rules, type that would be difficult to find anywhere. This is good news because the flowers attract butterflies, of which a couple of visitors are quite rare types, and also bees.

monument to creator of open natural heathland eching germany eric hallAnd we are very lucky to have it too because in the late 19th Century during the grand expansion of Germany’s economy there were proposals to transform the heath into farmland.

However due to the energetic efforts of Franz Vollmann, the “Saviour of the Garchinger Heide“, 23 hectares of unspoilt land were bought by the Bavarian Botanical Society between 1907 and 1904 and in 1942 it became an official nature reserve. A monument was erected on the site in honour of Vollman.

Unfortunately much of the heath was badly damaged in early 1945 when prisoners from the Dachau Concentration were instructed to turn it into an emergency airstrip. Some work was begun and you can still see some of the damage that they did.

celtic burial ground eching germany eric hallEching is apparently an ancient Celtic town and there’s what is, I suppose, a Celtic cemetery here – a part of the heathland where there were plenty of small barrows. We went over there to have a look at them

Some other work that was undertaken here was the excavation of the barrows, so I was told, apparently in the search for various artefacts and grave goods. The excavations were carried out all that well and now there isn’t very much left now, but the outlines of the barrows are still visible.

There are several pools here that were formerly the site of gravel extraction and now abandoned to nature and the surroundings overgrown by vegetation.

Our route to the cemetery took us past a small one that was very quiet and secluded, and here we surprised a bunch of nudists. However I do have to say that if I had a body like any of those, I wouldn’t be exhibiting it anywhere in public like they were.

On our way back home we stopped for a drink at the football ground, and then we picked up Caliburn and went to track down a battery for Hans’s jeep. No-one had one in stock so we ended up having to order one.

But at one place that we visited I bought my desktop fan. this heat really is killing me right now.

mittlerergrabenopen mittlerergraben freising germany eric hallWhile we were in the van we decided to push on for an afternoon out in the nearby town of Freising, the region’s capital.

We found a car park just outside the city centre and Hans led me through a maze of alleyways and narrow streets. This one is called the Mittlerergraben and it’s a typical example of the little streets around the northern part of the town.

In fact, much of Germany looks like this, and while some property is quite clearly modern, it’s very difficult to tell with others which is contemporary and which is new to replace war-damaged property.

, so we went for a walk around while Hans pointed out a few of the local sights. The cathedral was up the top of a huge set of steps so in this heat we ruled that out. We went for a cold drink instead.

sporrergasse cathedral mittlerergraben freising germany eric hallFrom where I was standing to take the previous photo there’s a little Gasse, an alley that leads down into the main shopping street. These alleys are another feature of medieval German cities – in fact most medieval cities. As you know, Granville, where I live is littered with them.

In the background are the towers of the cathedral and to the left just down there is the Bayerische Hof, an upmarket hotel that has rooms at prices that the likes of you and I can only dream about.

That column is actually at the entrance to the hotel car park and I bet that more than just a couple of people have had fun trying to put their car into there.

hummelgasse medieval street freising germany eric hallWe walked down the alleyway into the main shopping street and the first thing that I did was to disappear up another Gasse

The town is littered with these little alleys and this one is certainly one of the prettiest. It’s called the Hummelgasse and leads on down to the river at the bottom of the hill.

We weren’t going that way though. We were heading down the main street and so I had to come back. But not before I became all nostagic about the yellow walls on this house here. It reminds me too much of MY HOME BACK IN THE AUVERGNE.

sparkasse unterer hauptstrasse freising germany eric hallSo back in the centre of Freising, in the Unterer Hauptstrasse.

It’s not very often that a town site changes position throughout history so it’s very likely that where we are walking now is the same street that people were walking down 1500 or so years ago. The first recorded mention of the village of Freising was as long ago as 555AD – it was certainly in existence before that date

And it may well be even much older than that because it’s known that there was a Roman Road in the immediate vicinity along the banks of the River Isar and this would have been a likely situation for some kind of regional settlement.

heiliggeiststrasse freising germany eric hallYou can see what I mean from this photo just here taken in the Heilinggeiststrasse – The Street of the Holy Ghost.

Where that tower is in the background is on an eminence overlooking the river and that would be the ideal situation for some kind of fortified site keeping an eye on the traffic passing up and down the river valley either by the road or the river.

The building on the left is the Church of the Holy Ghost with its associated Hospital complex. The hospital dates back to 1374 when a local dignitary left in his Will his entire estate to the benefit of building some accommodation for the poor, the sick and the needy.

fischergasse freising germany eric hallWe eschewed the possibility of climbing up to the cathedral and the other official buildings on the eminence. I’m not too good, hans has a bad leg and it was far too hot for a scramble.

Instead we threaded our way through the maze of back streets into the Fischergasse. There’s a little stream here that runs eventually into the Isar. The stream has been canalised and the banks reinforced and it makes quite a pleasant walkway back to town.

There was a café down here too and so we took the opportunity to sit down and have a nice cold drink. We needed it in this weather.

replacing underground heating pipes fischergasse freising germany eric hallHeading back into the centre of town we came across some road works that caught our eye.

According to Hans, there’s “District Heating” in the town – a communal heating system of hot water that’s pumped around the town. it looks as if the system is receiving some attention. Here are some of the water pipes, covered in insulation.

It’s interesting to speculate as to why they have put that big U-bend in the pipework I can’t see any logical explanation for that

medieval vaults brennergasse freising germany eric hallOne thing about these early medieval cities is that it doesn’t matter how old a building is, it’s likely that the underground works are even older.

Consequently, when I saw some renovation being undertaken in the groundwork of a building in the main street I dived in there with the camera. Unfortunately this cellar is the exception that proves the rule. It’s nothing like as old as I was expecting.

We walked on through the town for a while and Hans showed me a bar that he had at one stage been thinking about taking on, but city parking regulations scuppered that.

And so we walked back to the car park and Caliburn

schluter tractor freising germany eric hallOut on the edge of the town is the site of a factory, the Schluter Tractor Company, where they made tractors until 1993.

The factory has now been transformed into a shopping centre where there is a display of photos of all of the products that the company manufactured. We went for a look around to see them, and discovered that there was even a restored tractor on display here as a centre-piece.

While we were here we went for a look around at the rest of the shops on the factory site but there was nothing of any interest so we went back to Caliburn and made our way back to Eching.

Back here, we parked up Caliburn and walked back to the football club where I had a delicious Thai curry with rice. And then back to the Bier Keller for a drink and a chat and to listen to some music.

Now I have my fan, and I feel so much better. I’m not going to say that it’s nice and cool of course, but it’s a lot better than it has been and i’m hoping for a comfortable sleep tonight. Tomorrow, I’ll be hitting the road.

Saturday 1st August 2020 – I BIT THE …

… bullet today and finally galvanised myself into action for a change.

But more of that anon.

Despite still being awake at long after 03:00, I was actually sitting on the edge of the bed ready to get up when the third alarm went off at 06:15. But nevertheless it was still a struggle to rise up from that position.

Plenty to do this morning, despite my late night. I might not have been tired enough to sleep last night but I was too tired to do any work. After breakfast (more fruit salad and delicious bread) I finally managed to finish the notes from last night.

There was something on the dictaphone too. It was all about Crewe Alexandra winning promotion. They scored a really good goal. Jordan Bowery scored it – he fought his way through the defence to kick home. The commentators were there congratulating the team. It meant that several others didn’t have the chance to play off as the team coming out straight afterwards for another game were going to be extremely disappointed by the results and so on.

To clean myself off I had a good shower, a shave and a clothes-washing session and then I hit the road.

old car aston martin dbr2 ksv 975 1971 lech austria eric hallYesterday when we’d been down in the town we’d seen a Blower Bentley parked up at the hotel.

Today there’s another old and interesting vehicle parked up in the town and in case you haven’t recognised it, it’s an Aston Martin DBR2.

Well, that’s what you might think but it actually isn’t. According to the UK’s Driver and vehicle Licensing Authority it was first registered in 1971 and a little research reveals that when this vehicle was offered for sale in 2007 by Bonham’s the Auctioneers, it was described as a “1971 Aston Martin DBR2 Recreation”.

old car aston martin dbr2 ksv 975 1971 lech austria eric hallIt wasn’t sold cheaply either by Bonham’s. Including the Buyers’ Premium, it went for almost £78,000.

That price might sound expensive for a replica but an original sold for over £9,000,000 so the price of the replica is pretty small beer. And according to the guy who built a few Aston Martin replicas, even the £78,000 represented “a considerable premium to my build prices” so we’ll all have to go along and order one.

But they aren’t really the same as the original ones unfortunately because with being built to modern standards they have modern engines and a different style of chassis that doesn’t flex as much as the older one did and so takes away much of the excitement of driving it.

der lecher taxi lech austria eric hallIt’s easy to see why this town is the favourite town of Strawberry Moose.

He’s not been here for 48 hours and he has started his own taxi company here. And as you might expect, he’s chosen a most appropriate name for his business. I’m sure that he’ll pick up plenty of work over the period that he’s going to be here.

It’s a shame that he wasn’t here for a photo opportunity but he had plenty of other things to be doing to set his business off on the right foot.

alpine horn lech austria eric hallNot only is it the height of the tourist season it’s also a Saturday and so there are crowds of people around iin the town this morning

To entertain them, there were a few alpine horn players standing on the bridge over the river and I’ve no idea why they were taking such an intense interest in me as I was taking their photograph. I wasn’t making half as much noise as they were and I wasn’t blocking the traffic either.

The lederhosen that they were wearing didn’t impress me all that much either The didn’t look particularly interesting. And they all should be wearing their little felt hats with feathers in.

But it did remind me of the time that I was chatting to Lee Jackson, bassist/vocalist of The Nice, who told me that the only cure for an Alpine Horn was an Alpine maid.

river lech austria eric hallToday, I’m going to be doing what I really wanted to do yesterday had I been on form.

What I had wanted to do was to go for a tramp in the woods, but he got away so I was going to walk up into the mountains along the side of the river to see if I could make it as far as Zug. First I needed some supplies, so I went to the supermarket that I had visited yesterday.

Now that i’d organised food for the journey, I set off up the hill

cable lift lech austria eric hallYesterday we saw at the side of my hotel the cables of a gondola lift going up into the mountains to the east side of the town.

From up here where I’m standing, we can look right across the town and see the cables climbing right up into the mountains, the cable pylons on top of the first crest and then the station at the top way over to the right on the second crest.

One of these days when I’ve saved enough money (because it isn’t cheap by any means) I’ll take the gondola right up to the top because I imagine that the views would be totally spectacular. But knowing my luck, there would be a fog, a low cloud or a heat haze.

upper vorarlberg lech austria eric hallAs you saw in one of the previous photographs, there were two ways to go.

One of the ways was by the ordinary road that climbed its way up through the mountains, or the second way, which was the footpath that wound its way along at the side of the river.

The road looked all hot and bothered and not very inspiring but the path along the river went through a load of shade from the trees that were growing along the banks. And so as far as I was concerned that was the only way to go.

river lech austria eric hallAs you can see from this photo, I wasn’t wrong about the road.

You can see it up there where all of those cars are driving. It’s right out in the open there, in the sun and not the place to be in weather like this.

The town of Zug is out of view behind the crest of the ridge that you can see over to the left of the photo. I imagine that the river will wend its way around there and the path that I’m on will follow the river round to the town.

river lech austria eric hallWhere I took the previous photo was from the bridge just there across the river.

Hidden in the trees back there is a large open-air swimming pool and leisure centre that seemed to be very popular with all kinds of people. It was pretty busy. One of the things that I noticed here was an open-air café where I could conceivably buy a coffee on the way back because I had a feeling that I would be needing it.

But not right now because I was rather hot. I sat on a convenient bench and had a drink of the water that I’d remembered to bring with me.

river lech austria eric hallThe longer that I sit around doing nothing, the longer it will take me to reach Zug so I decided to press on along the trail.

It seemed that it didn’t matter which was I was going to do. Every path or road north-westwards up the valley seemed to lead into the hot sun. There was a really big clearing here round by this cabin and if they didn’t already have enough sunshine there were signs that there was tree-cutting taking place here.

There wasn’t anyone around attending to the timber so I carried on along the path.

mountains upper vorarlberg lech austria eric hallNot too far though because something interesting along the way had caught my eye.

On top of the mountains over there are some buildings and what’s exciting is wondering about how the occupiers get up their with their supplies. But seeing as over there is really the back of Lech I imagine that the buildings are some way connected to the ski lift and gondola system so people might come up that way.

But looking at that slope over there, I imagine that the way down on skis to the main road at the foot of the slope would be quite exciting too.

waterfall river lech austria eric hallIn one of the earlier photos you might have noticed some people at the side of the river and also the start of some rapids.

The elevation into the mountains is a lot steeper than you might think by looking at the photos and the water is running quite fast down the river. And with there being different strata of rocks around here and some rocks wearing quicker than other, the presence of rapids is assured

Not the kind that you can shoot in a raft unfortunately – there isn’t enough water for that at this time of the year.

rapids waterfall river lech austria eric hallNevertheless it’s still quite magnificent and powerful, and I’d love to see it in the spring when there is all of the meltwater flowing down the valley.

There has been so much water in the river at times that there have been some impressive flash floods lower down in the valley. There was a catastrophic flood in June 1910 when the flow of water reached 300 cubic metres per second. A church tower 52 metres high in Lechhausen was badly damaged and 5 million marks worth of damages was caused in Augsburg.

As a result in 1911 they started on building flood defences downriver.

rapids waterfall river lech austria eric hallThe town of Lech hasn’t been spared either. In August 2005 a considerable amount of damage was caused due to a sudden flash flood.

But returning to the river itself, its source is in the Formarinsee, a lake higher up in the mountains, and then flows a distance of about 250 kilometres, draining about 3900 square kilometres before feeding into the River Danube near Donauworth where we visited IN 2015.

It’s not a navigable river, due mainly to the shallow depth and the gravel beds. And also due to the fact that there are 33 power stations along its route.

people in water waterfall rapids river lech austria eric hallBut it’s certainly the place to be in the summer, especially on a hot, stifling day like today.

There was rather a large family group of people sitting on one of the gravel beds having a picnic and a paddle about in the water. And I must admit that I was sorely tempted to go and join them and dangle my feet in the water for 10 minutes or so.

But instead, I pushed on along the path towards Zug. At least there was some shade here amongst the trees as I scrambled up and over some of the undulations in the path

zug mountains upper vorarlberg zug austria eric hallOver there is the town of Zug, a lot farther away than it looks in this photograph, thanks to the wonders of good long-distance ZOOM LENSES. A couple of minutes further on from where I’d seen the people paddling in the pool I burst out into the sunlight and there it was through the trees.

But now it’s lunchtime and having found a handy bench in the shade, I have my book and my lunch – another half of a small melon and another can of that energy drink that had lifted my spirits yesterday, both of which I had purchased from the supermarket earlier.

And here I sat for a good half hour, in the middle of a golf course apparently judging by all of the people passing by with their golfing trolleys and so on. Not that I could see anything of it through the undergrowth and shrubbery from where I was sitting.

After having sat down and relaxed for about half an hour I pushed on towards the town.

ski lift mountains upper vorarlberg zug austria eric hall
Yesterday I mentioned that we are in the middle of one of the most extensive skiing areas in Europe and so, as you might expect, there are gondolas, ski lifts and drags all over the place.

Here at the side of the river is the bottom station of one of the ski lifts – the Zugerbergbahn – that goes up to the top of the mountains to the north. Up there on top at an altitude of 2100 metres is the Balmalp Lech am Arlberg ski lodge. Tha represents a rise of over 600 metres from my current 1488 metres, according to my telephone.

And avid skier as I was in my younger days, I would have to say that it would have been quite exciting skiing back down from there again through all of those trees. It reminds me of Erma Brobeck who once famously said “I’ve no intention of participating in any sport that has ambulances waiting at the bottom of the hill”.

mountains upper vorarlberg zug austria eric hallThe next stage of my route was comparative easy because for about 5 minutes we actually had a path that was flat, level and comparatively smooth.

Over there ahead of us is presumably the car park for the chairlift and also for people going a-walking around in the vicinity too because it really is a nice area to be walking around.

In the background are some of the most splendid mountains that you have ever seen, still with a couple of vestiges of snow upon them. We actually drove past them, but on the other side on our way to Lech from Dornbirn on the Bregenzerwald Bundesstrasse Highway.

mountains upper vorarlberg zug austria eric hallThis is probably one of the finest glaciated valleys that I have ever seen.

You can usually tell a glaciated valley from a river valley because of its shape. A river valley is more likely to have a “V” shape whereas a glaciated valley is more likely to be a “U” shape. And this one speaks for itself, doesn’t it?

The ridge going across from left to right in the photo looks at fist glance as if it might be a moraine – a bank of gravel left behind by a glacier as it retreats. But it’s not possible to say without excavating it, and it looks a little too unnatural to me.

mountains upper vorarlberg zug austria eric hallFrom the bottom of the valley down by the river up to the village was a climb of about 30 metres, but it looked and felt like a darn sight more than that to me.

Halfway up the path I stopped to recapture my breath and had a look around. There’s a complex of about three or four guest houses on the edge of the village somewhere to the east and I imagine that those buildings over there must be it.

Behind them is the valley up which I walked, and the town of Lech is right down at the bottom somewhere near the left-hand edge of the photo where you can see that cleft between the mountains.

Filialkirche St. Sebastian church mountains upper vorarlberg zug austria eric hallEventually I arrived in the centre of the village, such as it is, and found myself standing in a little square outside the church.

The church is the Filialkirche St. Sebastian and it’s an impressive structure for such a small place. There’s quite a story behind it too, in that in the early 17th Century there was an outbreak of the plague here and someone made a vow in connection with the plague.

Unfortunately I’ve not discovered who it was, and what exactly was the nature of the vow, but one of the attributes of Saint Sebastian is that he’s the patron saint of protection from the plague, so I would imagine that it’s due to people praying to Saint Sebastian that if they survive this outbreak they would build a church in his honour in thanks for their safe deliverance – that kind of thing.

musicians upper vorarlberg zug austria eric hallApart from the church, there’s little else here to talk about. A couple of hotels, such as this one and that’s your lot.

At least they had some entertainment for us this afternoon, and that’s always welcome. No alpine horns unfortunately, but we do have a guitar, a double bass and a kind of hurdy-gurdy. I was tempted to buy a coffee in order to stop and listen for half an hour, but then I saw the prices.

There isn’t really anything else to do around here, and I suppose that, being so isolated, they can hardly nip to the shops next door for a pint of milk if they run out.

zugertal panoramabus upper vorarlberg zug austria eric hallOne thing that I was also going to add is that there isn’t really any passing trade, because this road is actually a dead end that comes to a stop in the depths of the mountains.

But just as I was about to say it, around the corner came a tourist bus full of passengers. There isn’t very much to see except the scenery. And I was reminded of Betty Marsden, the English comic actress who when asked what she thought about the Alps, replied “it was terrible. The mountains hid all of the view”.

And I was extremely interested to see that even though it’s advertising an Austrian service, the bus has German number plates.

mountains upper vorarlberg zug austria eric hallOne thing that did catch my eye while I was here was that track down there heading over the mountains to the south.

Had I been 20 years younger and in better health, because it’s much steeper than it looks in this photo, I’d have been tempted to have gone for a walk over there. There’s a waterfall, the Wasserfall Zug a kilometre or so up there, and then a long and difficult walk takes you to a lake, the Spuller See.

From there, you can turn right and head to the Bregenzerwald Bundesstrasse or else turn to the right and follow the valley of the Spreubach down to Dalaas in the Voralberg valley.

mountains upper vorarlberg zug austria eric hallHaving had a good look around, I retraced my steps back to the path that I climbed up to the village

So that was Zug then. I’m sure that I’d been here once with Nerina when we passed through in 1988 but I didn’t remember anything at all about it and nothing that I saw had rung a bell with me. It had that kind of effect on me.

But from here I was able to have a better look at that bank while I was up here, and that looks definitely man-made to me from here. There’s a road that runs across it so maybe that’s the reason for the bank. I imagine that it must be quite wet down there in the snow melt.

lake golf course mountains upper vorarlberg zug austria eric hallOn the way up here I missed this – I can’t have been looking down there in that direction.

This is some kind of leisure facility complete with its own lake, and it had me wondering if it might have been anything to do with the golf course across which I stumbled on the way up because despite seeing the holes, the greens and the golfers, I hadn’t seen a clubhouse.

But that’s something about which I can worry some other time. I’ve had a really good walk up here and now it’s time to go back downhill for a rest. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I’ve been going downhill for years.

On the way back I simply retraced my steps for half of the way.

At that cabin where there was all of this new timber, the lumberjacks were busy cutting down another tree so I stood and waited, filming it on my camera. But just when they reached the crucial moment when I expected the tree to come crashing down, they knocked off for a cuppa and that was that.

For a while, I waited around but they didn’t come back so I wrote it off as a bad job and carried on towards home.

When I reached the bridge that we saw in an earlier photo there was another path going straight on down the southern side of the river and as there were a few people following that path, I followed them to see where I would end up.

river lech austria eric hallOver there is the River Lech down in the bottom of the valley.

After scrambling over a couple of stiles and squeezing my way through a couple of narrow gates, i have now found myself back in civilisation, as you can see. The road along which I walked out of Lech earlier today is just the other side of the river where that car is driving

On the left-hand edge of the photo is the little path down which I walked to reach the river so that I could follow the river up into the hills. There’s a little path down there by the waterside that is out of sight.

river lech austria eric hallHere’s a view looking further down into the town. Over there is the river with the waterfront houses and the road behind up which I walked on my way out

The path down which I had walked, called apparently, the Lechuferweg, has transformed itself into a very chic residential street called the Omesberg at the southern end of the town. This would seem to be the place to be around here, where you would live if you were ever to win the lottery.

But I wasn’t going to hang around and enjoy the view or lap up the atmosphere. I was ready for a good, hot mug of coffee and a little relax back at my digs after walking all of this way.

storm mountains upper vorarlberg lech zug austria eric hallAnd have you noticed how the sky has dramatically changed colour over the last few photos?

All the way down the path I was hotly pursued by a low cloud and thunderstorm. Not only the sky but the weather had changed while I was out, and changed quite quickly too. That was another reason to be back in my room as quickly as possible because that lot looks quite nasty..

I just about made it back to the hotel before the heavens opened and drenched the town in a storm of epic proportions. You can understand how come they have these severe flash floods around here with weather like this.

Back here, looking at the storm, I actually crashed out for a while, which was no surprise given the bad night that I had had and the fact that I’d walked almost 10kms today into the mountains and back in the lovely, fresh alpine air.

Tea was a tin of potatoes, a tin of mixed veg and a tin of lentils with some mustard sauce, and it was delicious.

An early night tonight because it’s my last night here. I’m pushing on tomorrow as I still have plenty of places to go and plenty of people to see. Unfortunately June is not available. Her husband is not too well and she’s afraid that any non-urgent meeting might expose him to risk – something that I quite understand.

But still, I’ll be sorry to leave. Lech is one of my most favourite places in Europe and I struck gold with this hotel – I really did. We’ll have tu see what the next 10 days or so will bring.

Tuesday 23rd January 2018 – AND IN NEWS …

… that will surprise, if not shock, regular readers of this rubbish who have been following my vicissitudes with bated breath, according to the medical examination that I was given this morning by a doctor who works in partnership with the French Government, I am considered fit enough to drive a 44-tonne articulated lorry or a bus with 75 paying passengers on the public highway.

Last night was another miserable night, having gone on yet another lengthy travel, the details of which were immediately wiped from my memory as soon as I awoke. And I staggered off into the living room with no medication and no breakfast this morning, for obvious reasons.

Nevertheless I did manage a shower and a change of clothes though – I need to look my best for my appointment at 09:15.

inondations quetteville sur sienne floods manche normandy franceAt about 08:00 I hit the road for Countances.

And it’s a good job that I allowed myself plenty of time because I needed it. Quetteville sur Sienne isn’t “Quetteville on Sienne” at all – it’s “Quetteville-in-the-Sienne” right now.

You’re all aware of the weather that we’ve been having just recently. While most of Europe has been swaddled in snow these last few weeks, we’ve had nothing but torrential rain

inondations quetteville sur sienne floods manche normandy franceAs a result the Rivier Sienne has burst its banks and the outskirts of the town (the town itself is perched on an eminence) are flooded.

It’s completely cut off to the north and so all of the traffic heading to Coutances and Cherbourg is diverted down a country lane. And by the looks of things, a couple more days of this weather and this won’t be passable either.

It certainly messed up my arrival.

But I was there in good time and, as luck would have it, I found a parking place right outside the doctor’s at the back of the sous-Prefecture. And that’s not something that happens every day either, is it?

Being early, I was first in. And out again after 10 minutes.

And this medical is a total farce. I hadn’t said anything about it because I was convinced that I would fail it, with my well-documented medical history. And I was determined to answer every question honestly, truthfully and completely. Which I did.

The only problem with that though is that he only asked two or three questions – and nothing of any significance.

The scar on my chest from neck to navel and the chemo port in my left shoulder should have given the game away but, unbelievably, he stethoscoped me with my tee-shirt on.

A test of my vision and a few exercises in co-ordination, and that was my lot. I’m fit to drive a 44-tonne artic or a bus on the public highway. And if that’s an example of a medical undergone by every other lorry or bus driver in France, then God help the average motorist.

ruins coutances manche normandy franceBeing out early, I had plenty of time to kill. And so I went for a wander around the town.

Coutances is a Roman town, named for the Emperor Constantine, but was destroyed by the Vikings in 866, the French in the 12th Century (Normandy was an independent Duchy until 1204), the Huguenots in the 16th Century, the town planners in the 18th Century and the Royal Air Force and American Air Force on 6th June 1944 and a couple of days thereafter.

And so there are traces of ruins here and there about the place, and you can’t really identify them or say who it was who destroyed them.

coutances manche normandy franceBut the Allies’ bombardments killed well over 300 civilians and there’s a monument to them at the back of the cathedral.

And I do have to say that I was very disappointed in this monument. I could have done something better and more powerful than this, and I expected to see at least a list of names of those who died.

But apparently not. And I can’t understand why

cathedral coutances manche normandy franceAs for the cathedral itself, it remained surprisingly undamaged during the bombardment. Clearly, the Devil looks after his own.

But then again, it has suffered enough.

The first recorded church on the site (this isn’t of course to say that there weren’t earlier ones) dates from about 430, and the story goes that a heathen temple was cleared away to make the space.

This chirch was destroyed in the Viking raids, and when the town was reoccupied at the beginning of the 11th Century, construction of the cathedral began.

When the French took over from the Normans, they completely redesigned the cathedral and what wasn’t demolished was hidden by their modifications.

interior cathedral coutances manche normandy franceThe interior of the Cathedral is nothing much to write home about.

I was expecting something spectacular give the cathedral’s fame as one of the favourite churches of William the Conqueror and as a pilgrimage venue, but it’s nothing like that at all.

It’s actually quite spartan ad even the stained glass windows are nothing like as flambouyant as you might expect.

interior cathedral coutances manche normandy franceThe cathedral is the “Cathedral Notre Dame” – the Cathedral of Our Lady, and so ypu might be forgiven for expecting to see statues of Mary and Jesus all over the place.

But you’ll be very disappointed, because I couldn’t see any statue of any significance.

And as for the Chemin de la Croix, we’ve seen some exotic symbolisation on our travels, but here, there were just a few notices with numbers written thereupon – no paintings or statues at all.

town hall hotel de ville coutances manche normandy franceThe Twon Hall across the square though is certainly splendid and does the town a great deal of credit.

I’ve no idea when it was built, but a great deal of civic construction took place in the period of the “Second Empire”, so it’s quite possible that it dates from that period – the third quarter of the 19th Century.

The fountai in front of it was rather disappointing though. I was expecting much more than that.

coutances manche normandy franceI’m not sure how much the town hall was damaged by the bombings of June 1944, but you can tell that the surrounding area was pretty badly hit.

You’ll notice the building on the left – the row of shops with flats over the top (this is actually a hotel here). Go to any French town that was badly damaged during the war and you’ll see this style of building in every town centre.

Designed by architects such as Louis Arretche, they were designed to be thrown up in a matter of a couple of days to bring back the life into the town centres as quickly as possible, and they’ve withstood the pressure of time rather well.

At 10:00 I was outside the mobile phone repairer’s, and at least, they decided to have a look at it. And that’s progress. They would call me back.

I went for a coffee and then to do some shopping. Apart from the usual stuff that I need, I found a cheap shop and bought some stationery and also a new dash-cam – for just €11:95. I already have one but I don’t like it much – it’s big and obtrusive but it will do to take to Canada and install in Strider. The new little one, I’ll put in Caliburn.

They called me back bang on midday. They couldn’t get it to work so could I come by and pick it up?

Not until 14:00 after lunch so I grabbed a baguette and some stuff to go on it and had a quiet relax in the rain.

There’s an Orange shop in the town so I went in to see what they had. Strangely, they didn’t want me to browse the stock, but they would give me a “special deal”. They would knock 50% off one of their phones for me and let me have it at … errr … €349.99.

Quite.

Down the hill at the repairer’s, they also tried to fix me up with a deal. And while it might have bee more attractive, it wasn’t that attractive. So they suggested I try a phone laboratory in Saint-Lô who might be able to repair mine.

But when my new UK credit card arrives (I posted off all of my letters this morning too) I have another idea.

Having done all of that I came home, to find that yet another problem has arisen at the Bank. I’m not saying too much now, but I’m going out tomorrow to buy a pick-axe handle and I shall deal with the issues in the traditional manner by impressing my message into the skull of the bank manager in Morse Code with the aforementioned.

Having exerted myself quite a lot today, I crashed out for a couple of hours too. And I’m not surprised. And then it was tea. Microwaved potatoes with home-made burger in a bun from the batch at Liz’s, and vegetables. delicious it was too.

stade louis dior us granville manche normandy franceAnd then it was walkies. Around the headland.

And that was where I should have been had I been able to exert myself the other day. At the football. And Granville won too – 3-2 in extra time. Just 16 clubs left now in the Cup and I wonder who they’ll draw in the next round.

Rest assured – I’ll be camping out at the ground the night before and I’ve asked if, if the match is “away”, whether there will be any buses running.

But now it’s bed-time. I’ve done over 100% of my daily activity target and that’s enough for today. All 1560 words of it.

Friday 24th June 2016 – THAT WAS A BAD NIGHT

And I’m not talking about the thunderstorm either, which was wicked and I do mean “wicked”. There’s a leak around my window as I may have said before, and there was something of a puddle on the floor when I awoke this morning.

But “awoke” is a big word to use because I don’t remember going to sleep for very long at all. I was tossing and turning right through the night and didn’t manage to settle down at all. If I did manage to find any sleep at all last night, it wouldn’t have been much.

river leie leuven belgiumAfter a few hours updating the blog (I’m well into June 2010) I went into town to do today’s shopping. My route took me as usual past the River Leie on the edge of the city centre and so I went for a butcher’s to see what the thunderstorm had done to the depth of the river.

As you can see, we really did have a pelting last night. There’s almost as much water in the river as fell into my little attic room last night.

river leie leuven belgiumYou might not believe it, but that is actually a bridge, and underneath it you can usually paddle your own canoe or whatever you might have. But there’s not much chance of that today.

It wasn’t just the depth that was impressive but also the volume of the water. It was a raging torrent and I wouldn’t have liked to have fallen in there. The crowds of people loitering around and photographing the scene were just as impressed as I was

After lunch I carried on with the blog – rather half-heartedly admittedly as my heart isn’t in it, what with the weather and the uncomfortable surroundings.

And I’m not allowing myself anything to drink either, which is agony for me in this hot and oppressive atmosphere. I’m having serious water retention problems and I’m sitting here all day from morning to night in my shoes because if I don’t put them on first thing in the morning, I can’t put them on at all. My legs are swollen right up into the thighs. And not only that, my left arm is swelling up too. I’m really in a bad way right now.

And as for the other major news of the day, you doubtless already know it. How can a nation be so completely stupid? It seems that the Brexiters were taken completely by surprise by their victory as they started backpedalling within an hour or two of the results being declared. That doesn’t look very comforting, does it?

Even worse, the British economy has collapsed, just as everyone predicted that it would.

And it will become worse too. Just you wait and see.

Friday 13th September 2013 – IT WAS THE DRIVING, POUNDING RAIN …

… that awoke me this morning. Things aren’t looking so good for the Festival. Still, the show must go on I suppose.

And no, this isn’t a misprint with me copying from yesterday or the day before either – it’s just an exact replica of what has happened this morning. The same as yesterday, and the day before.

deer mactaquac provincial parkAfter coffee and breakfast and updating the notes and images etc, I set off through the driving rainstorm for town. We didn’t get far though because there was a deputation at the gate. It seems that Strawberry Moose is in great demand again – not for his charm, wit and eloquence, but the first of this year’s paternity orders has arrived

I told him that this year he will have to take precautions, but he told me that he always checks to see if her parents are asleep, and he puts vaseline on the living room door knob.

flooding Saint John River near Fredericton New BrunswickThis weather though is completely out of hand. One of the ways into town follows the nothern shore of the Saint John River and there are several opportunities to stop and take a look at how things are doing. As you can see, they aren’t doing so well right now.

The river has burst its banks in several places, which is hardly a surprise given all of the rain that we’ve been having and if the rain carries on it can only get worse, and that’s a depressing thought. Luckily I’m quite happy in my Dodge. This is a splendid way to have a holiday, all happily installed in here

Into town and shopping, and running a few errands as I have plenty to do, and then off for the music. Today opened at the Barracks tent and the first artist was one of these rap artists. Not my thing at all of course – in fact I reckon that this is another spelling mistake and there’s a letter missing off the front of that name.

I went off to eat some food instead because I was in a rush. The legendary Canned Heat are playing in an hour or so and guess what?

Our Hero has been granted a photography permit for the show!

Thom Swift Playhouse Theatre harvest jazz and blues festival fredericton september 13 2013First onstage was Thom Swift from Halifax and I’m sure that he was the opening act when I saw Taj Mahal here two years ago. There was him, Geoff Arsenault on drums (and what a magnificent drummer he is) and Brian Bourne playing a weird machine that I later worked out seemed to be the modern equivalent of a double-neck guitar – bass and lead in the same instrument. Anyway he certainly knew how to play it.

Thom Swift was in a different class completely than anyone else that we have seen before – not a rockin’ blues performer like The Record Company but nevertheless extremely competent. No wonder that he was chosen to open up for Canned Heat.

canned heat playhouse theatre harvest jazz and blues festival fredericton september 13 2013However, onto the stage came the legendary Canned Heat – opening act for Woodstock 1969 so we are told although this isn’t strictly true as Richie Havens was first on stage.

Nevertheless, nit-picking apart, their performance was a stunning one. Considering how old they are, they gave it everything they had got and that was plenty. Everyone in the audience was up on their feet by the time the curtain came down.

Canned Heat are definitely the stars of the Festival so far although I was puzzled to see why they only have fourth place on the list of artists. Probably because many people have short memories and can’t recall the good-yime days of the late 60s and early70s

canned heat playhouse theatre harvest jazz and blues festival fredericton september 13 2013But never mind the stars of the Festival. The highlight for me was being awarded a photography permit – one of only 5 issued – to photograph the band and I shall wear the permit to bed every night.

I just hope that, given the primitive equipment that I have compared to many other photographers, my photos have done justice to the performance. The permits were only for the first three songs and so I only have about 50 photos of the band and if you would like to see them, then you need to look at my web page of the event, whichis now on line

garrett mason keith hallett harvest jazz and blues festival fredericton september 13 2013I’d missed most of Garrett Mason and Keith Hallett’s show at the Hoodoo House but they are playing again tomorrow night and so, unless the dam upriver from the city overflows and we are all swept away in a tidal carnage, I’ll be there to see them again.

What I caught of their show was excellent and of the “ordinary” bands here, they have now moved into first place on my preferred list of artists, overtaking The Record Company and Steve Strongman.

Anyway, back to the campsite in the driving rain just like last night, and now I find myself caked in mud just like back home

. This is starting to become depressing. It’s a good job that I have the music.

Wednesday 9th June 2010 – Those of you with long memories …

… will recall the 11th of September 2008 when I had a whopping 48mm of rain in one day.

But that was an exceptional case – most of that fell in a brief half-hour period as the result of an incredible storm. Nothing that we have had since has ever come close.

caliburn parking harstanding flooding les guis virlet puy de dome franceThat is, until today. When it rained and rained and rained for the entire day non-stop. This horrible drenching rain that soaks absolutely everything and I don’t think that it’s ever going to stop.

And when I took the stats at 22:00 as usual I recorded 36.5mm of rain in that 24-hour period. And that’s the most rain that’s fallen here (apart from 11th September 2008) by a country mile.

My hardstanding has a river running down it right now as water cascades from just about everywhere in the neighbourhood. The whole of the ground is like a sponge.

Clearly working outside was impossible so after lunch I did some work in the bedroom but knocked off early as it was far too dark to see anything.

The weather really was that depressing.

fox les guis virlet puy de dome franceBut I did go down the garden to check up on all the plants, and my attention was drawn to some movement in the field.

We get to see plenty of wildlife here, deer and all that kind of thing. But I never normally have the camera with me. But today I did, quite luckily, and I was able to stand and watch, and reel off a pile of shots as a small fox played “pouncy pussy” with an object in the field.

fox les guis virlet puy de dome franceSo absorbed was it with what it was doing that it didn’t notice me there so I watched, getting soaking wet in the process, as it rounded up and then captured its latest meal.   I really don’t know who was the more absorbed, me or the fox. But it was interesting all the same.

I think that foxes are beautiful and I just don’t know why it is that people want to hunt and kill them. And in my book, huntsmen who dress up in ridiculous garments and set a pack of dogs on an animal like this and tear it to bits as a public spectacle are on roughly the same social level as paedophiles if you ask me.

I think that they are all thoroughly sick in the head.