Tag Archives: freezing outside

Wednesday 22nd December 2021 – ALL OF THE …

repointed wall Rampe du Monte à Regret Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021… scaffolding has gone from the Rampe du Monte à Regret, I noticed today.

It looks as if all of the repointing of the wall has now finished, they’ve dismantled the scaffolding, picked up their tools and, as Longfellow once wrote, “shall fold their tents, like the Arabs and as silently steal away.”.

As for the quality of the work, they’ve mixed the mortar too dry by the looks of things. It won’t percolate into the stone and so will eventually solidify and drop out and they’ll have to do it all over again.

christmas market place pleville le pelley Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021You are probably thinking that that means that I can now take the short cut and go down the steps to the street.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case. The Christmas market is in full swing down there and the whole area is cordoned off. There’s just one entrance and that’s at street level, where there’s a security guard checking Covid passports.

As I type out these notes I’m actually supposed to be down there. A group has been in touch with me about doing a live show for my radio programme and they are playing there tonight.

But if anyone thinks that I’m standing outside in a bitter wind for 2 hours with a temperature of minus 1°C they are mistaken.

And it was freezing this morning too. Winter has come with quite a bang just now. I was freezing when I awoke – at 06:45, about 45 minutes before the alarm went off.

At least I managed to leap out of bed with alacrity (and you all thought that I slept on my own) and dress rather hurriedly before I froze to death.

home made bread place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021After the medication I came in here to check my mails and messages, and then went back into Ice Station Zebra to make the bread for this coming week now that I’ve finished off the bread that I’d brought back from Leuven.

Another 500 grammes of flour, a couple of handfuls of sunflower seeds and this time I remembered the Vitamin C tablet too. It all went together really well and kneaded up quite nicely.

It went into the oven and 75 minutes later I had a beautiful, soft loaf of bread with a nice even texture. One of the best that I’ve made so far. My bread-making technique is improving, so it seems.

While I was at it, I cleaned, diced and blanched the 2kg of carrots that I’d bought on Monday. They are waiting for some room to be made in the freezer so I can file them away for future use.

One thing that I needed to do was to listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night. In fact I’d been invited out again for a meal with some people whom I knew. I went off and turned up at this restaurant. I didn’t know these people all that well. There were 2 of them, a guy and a woman who weren’t a couple. We were having a chat and at that moment another girl came down to join us. She was a young girl and dressed so simply but really well, really beautifully that it took my breath away. I made a few complimentary remarks and she blushed I suppose, and sat down. They asked about when the others would turn up. I had heard that someone I used to know and his wife and daughter (who was actually Zero) were coming but they had to go to the dentist’s first so they may not make it depending on what had happened at the dentists, which was going to be something of a shame. They were asking “should be order?”. I replied “no. We’ll have to wait until everyone else turns up and we’ll have to order together, I suppose. That seems to be the normal way of doing things”. However, I did have another reason for not wanting to start until everyone (well, at least one person) was present.

At some point during the night I was walking around the fish docks at some fishing port in the UK. I was doing something at one end of the port where there were a few fishing boats at anchor but I had to walk round the other side of the port where everyone was and that was where you could really smell the fish. Then I had to walk all the way back again but I can’t remember why and I can’t remember what was happening about it all.

As I was off to the physiotherapist this afternoon I needed a shower so I had to wait until the oven had finished backing as I needed the heater in the bathroom. And as a result of everything I ended up having a very late lunch.

freezing fog port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021By now it was time for me to brave the freezing conditions and head up to the physiotherapist.

And you can see how cold it is by looking out beyond the outer harbour into the bay. You can see a layer of freezing fog that’s obscuring the view of the Pointe de Carolles.

It was the first thing that I noticed when I walked round the corner to the viewpoint at the corner of the Boulevard Vaufleury and the Boulevard des 2E et 202E de Ligne.

And although it’s only 14:45 the sun is pretty low in the sky as well, as you can tell. It’s not the kind of weather to be out unless you have to.

jade 3 port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021But talking of being out, the port was quite empty of fishing vessels.

They all must be out at sea this afternoon, except for Jade III that is doing something exciting, having reversed up to the wharf by the fish processing plant. Unfortunately, I can’t see what she’s up to.

There wasn’t much else of any excitement going on around the town so I had a slow, weary trudge up to the physiotherapist. For some unknown reason I wasn’t feeling myself this afternoon which is just as well because it’s a disgusting habit.

At the physiotherapist she put me on the cross trainer for five minutes and then we did some kinetic exercises, finishing off with 5 minutes on the tilting platform. The exercises that I had to do on there were agonising but I suppose that if it hurts men it’s doing me some good – except that it’s hurting me in places where I have no problems and not where I have the issues.

It was a very weary and painful me who staggered into the street when my half-hour was up. And also a very destitute one because it’s the year-end and I had to pay her.

Outdoor Market Place General De Gaulle Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021On the way back I noticed that we had a little mini-outdoor market going on in the Place General de Gaulle.

It usually takes place on Saturday of course and that’s Christmas Day so it looks to me as if they have brought it (or, at least, part of it because there aren’t all that many stalls there) forward to today.

There weren’t all that many people there this afternoon which is really no surprise in this weather, and I felt really sorry for the stallholders who are obliged to stand outside without any real form of shelter from the cold and the wind.

Spirit Of Conrad Aztec Lady Anakena charles marie port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021My weary trudge continued on up the hill towards home. However I stopped to have a look at the charter boats in the port.

On the left is of course our old friend Spirit of Conrad in which we sailed down the Brittany coast in the summer of 2019. To her right is Aztec Lady who has now been liberated from her stay in the chantier naval.

The large blue boat to her right is Anakena, the big boat that is planning to sail up the Norwegian coast next summer if conditions allow, and alongside her under a tarpaulin is CHarles Marie. She doesn’t look as if she’s going anywhere any time soon.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021It goes without saying that before I can go in, I have to go for a look at the beach.

And to my surprise there was someone taking a long, solitary walk out towards the water’s edge. all alone down there without another soul around him (or her). That was a lonely stroll.

Back here I had a coffee and then I had work to do. Someone at the University of Newfoundland is writing a thesis on Paradise River, a settlement of sorts on the Labrador Coast. I’ve visited it on several occasions and have dozens of photographs of the area.

Anyway, to cut a long story short … “hooray” – ed … he’s written to me and asked me if he may use some of my photos to illustrate his thesis. So we agreed a trade – I’ll send him some photographs and he’ll send me a copy of his thesis to add to my pile of Labrador literature.

Consequently I had to sort back through my photos for September 2014 and September 2017 to dig out some good ones for him.

Tea was taco rolls with the leftover stuffing, lengthened with a small tin of kidney beans. And now, as it’s cold and I’m cold, I’m off to warm myself up in bed.

Tomorrow I have to tidy up in my bedroom as I have someone coming round on Friday to record something or other for the radio so the place needs to look as if it’s habitable.

Tuesday 21st December 2021 – I’VE HAD ANOTHER …

… day when I’ve not accomplished anything like as much as I intended to today and I’m really going to have to snap out of this if I want to make any progress because it’s getting me down.

Going late to bed last night didn’t help matters too much and as usual it was difficult to haul myself out of bed. However, as I had things to do, there wasn’t any question about it.

No medication this morning because I don’t have time to wait for the side-effects to kick in. Instead I took the paper rubbish out to the paper bin, and I hadn’t realised just how much there was and how long it had been hanging around.

But of course, you couldn’t take a pile of paper outside with the winds that we have had just recently.

Back inside I actually tidied up the kitchen and the dining area and even vacuumed the floor and it’s a long time since I’ve done that.

Caliburn’s new brake discs had arrived, having been on order for several weeks, so I had to take him to the mender’s and drop him off so they can fix him. And it was freezing outside, really cold. Minus 0.3°C and that’s the coldest that it’s been so far this winter.

Laurent came to pick me up and bring me home where we had a coffee and then wandered off down the road to speak to Nadia.

She’s a costumier who lives down the road and makes all of the costumes for the Carnival. We’re starting a series pf programmes about the Carnival in February in the hope that it isn’t cancelled again, and she’s an ideal candidate to be interviewed to tell us about her life, her work and how the Carnival affects her.

After we’d finished Laurent went home and I came back here for another coffee and to crash out in front of the computer. Well, not exactly crash out because I was as compos mentis as I can be these days, but I certainly was in no mood to do anything.

After lunch I forced myself into work and began the arrangements for my Christmas programmes. –

Wednesday 22nd December 2021 at 11:00 –
An exclusive interview with Father Christmas and his Elves, direct from his workshop in a secret location

Friday 24th December 2021 and Saturday 25th December 2021 at 21:00
Christmas songs with your favourite rock stars

Friday 31st December 2021 and Saturday 1st January 2022 at 21:00
A New Years Eve live concert from Boston, MA,; USA recorded on 31st December 1975

These can be heard on LE BOUQUET GRANVILLAIS


There’s also a special treat – while I was sorting out all of the old hard drives I came across many of the old radio programmes that we did in the old Radio Anglais days. So what I’ll be doing is on Christmas Eve at midnight I’ll upload it to my website and you can hear it AT THIS LINK – but not yet. You’ll have to wait until Christmas Eve.


And just a reminder …
All times are CET (French time)
For the UK, subtract one hour
For Toronto, subtract six hours
And you’ll have to work out the rest for yourself

peche à pied beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021Despite everything there was still time for me to go out for my afternoon walk and with the aim of catching up with my old habits I went over to the wall at the end of the car park.

What took me by surprise was the number of people down there on the beach this afternoon. As I suspected, all of the holidaymakers and second-home owners have descended on the town and packed it out.

And there were many down there trying their luck at catching fresh oysters for their Christmas treat. Oysters is a big tradition in France on Christmas Day, rather like my Christmas cake is to me.

man in zodiac baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021In fact there were so many people around roday that you had to be inventive if you wanted to have some peace and quiet.

Here’s someone out in the bay in his zodiac having a little relax. At first I thought that he might be fishing but having a closer look at his boat I couldn’t see any fishing equipment.

Just as I was standing here watching him, a neighbour of mine pulled up in her car and we had a chat for a quarter of an hour or so before I wandered off on my travels.

fishing boats baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021Even though it’s coming up to Christmas for most of us, others are still out there working.

While I was looking out to sea I noticed two fishing boats heading slowly for home, presumably with a full catch after a hard day’s work.

And of you look very closely at the photo, to the upper left of the right-hand fishing boat you’ll see what looks like the Loch Ness Monster rearing its ugly head out of the water.

That took me rather by surprise. I’ve enlarged the photo and enhanced it and I still can’t make out what it is.

f-GSBV Robin DR400 180 pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021And how long is it since we’ve seen an aeroplane overflying us?

Today it’s the turn of F-GSBV – a Robin DR400-180 from the flying school here at Granville, flying past on its way home.

At least, I thought that she was on her way home but according to her flight plan, she took off at 16:06 and flew southwards before coming back, did a figure-of-eight over the airport heading northwards before coming home much later than when I saw her.

Someone clearly has a lot of flying hours to catch up.

base of flagpole pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021Regumar readers of this rubbish will recall that the Pointe du Roc was devasted by gusts of 136kph at the height of Storm Arwen.

One of the flagpoles was uprooted and I posted a photo of it leaning drunkenly against its neighbour.

It’s now been removed and the base has been cordoned off. Presumably in the New Year they’ll re-drill it and fit new anchor bolts and then re-erect the flagpole.

You can see the size of the anchor bolts in the concrete base as they seem to have left one behind. You can imagine the force of the wind that tore the others out of their concrete settling.

sunset baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021As I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … what I like about this time of the year are the magnificent sunsets that we have.

With the beautiful blue, clear sky that we had had today we were having another one and this has to be one of the best that we have seen for quite a while.

As I came up the path towards the lighthouse I noticed how nice it was looking, and as I walked across the car park I could see it in all its splendour. And one of the fishing boats that we had seen earlier had caught me up and you can see it silhouetted over on the right.

cabanon vauban woman on bench pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021And, just for a change just recently I wasn’t on my own admiring it.

As well as the crowds that were milling around on the car park and the footpath, there was someone down below on the bench by the cabanon vauban at the end of the headland.

Whatever it was that she was doing, she seemed to be totally engrossed in it, so I left her alone and pushed on … “pushed off, he means” – ed … along the path towards the port to see what was happening there.

joly france ferry terminal port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021At the chantier naval there was no change in the situation this afternoon. Aztec Lady was still there of course but that was about it.

Over at the ferry terminal, we have one of the Joly France ferries in a NAABSA (not always afloat but safely aground) situation. She’s the older one of the two, as we can see because there’s no step in her stern.

There were a couple of people up on the sea wall making the most of the early evening sun sinking slowly down below the horizon, but my attention had also been caught by something in the water in the background, moving quite rapidly.

roofing rue du port Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021Having done all of that I set out back to home, but I didn’t go far before I was distracted by the sound of Pink Floyd.

Further investigation revealed that there were a couple of workmen on a roof down in the Rue du Port, doing a re-roofing job by the looks of things. And I do have to say that I admired their choice of music.

Further along here, while walking on the path just above the port I fell in with another neighbour and we had another chat for a while – so much so that by the time I arrived home the coffee that I’d set in motion before coming out was now cold.

Having finished my radio notes I thought about tea. Stuffed pepper with veg and rice and it was delicious.

And while I was at it, I almost forgot the dictaphone too. We were all by a river somewhere in different positions. I wanted to attract someone’s attention so I built a mine and put it in the river to float it down there so that everyone else would see it. However I didn’t have any means of controlling it or directing it so it wasn’t as good an idea as it sounded. I was wishing, when I was halfway through making it, that I had some kind of radio control apparatus that I could make this thing work.

In actual fact, back in the 1960s my grandparents lived near a canal and it was the start of the pleasure boat cruise network in those days. A big marina had been built at Barbridge and there was a lot of traffic on the canal. My brother and I had the idea to build a replica “mine” complete with horns, like an old German contact-mine, and float it down the canal into the marina and watch the chaos and confusion from a discreet distance. However our parents, in a rare act of parenting, vetoed the idea quite firmly.

Later on we were at the side of a river waiting for something. The guy in charge of this expedition said that he had sent someone down with the sandwiches. They got down to where we were. As they approached the first person he dropped the lot onto the floor. Of course everyone mulled round to see what they could find but the sandwiches were all messed up in the mud and totally unfit to eat

I was also back with the taxis last night. My brother was driving and he had driven all night, all the previous evening until quite late and was back in again early next morning working. My mother mentioned that when he had taken her home at the end of the shift at the evening he’d fallen asleep a couple of times driving and she had to wake him up. That surprised him that he was back in early next morning working away again. There was something about a job going on from Underwood Lane to Audlem so I made sure that whoever it was had our ‘phone number so they could ring up and book it for the next evening

I’d been out somewhere and I had a pile of oranges and one of them was rotten and had leaked everywhere so I had to go upstairs and wash everything out. Some had fallen on my pillow so I’d rinsed everything off. My mother wanted something so I went into her room. She started to laugh about these oranges and I became extremely annoyed so I tipped the contents of the bag, rotten oranges and all, all over her bed and left them there with it all staining into her bedclothes.

There was something else about photocopying. There was a girl doing a pile of photocopying and she was saying something about how the photocopying companies said that it couldn’t be done but she could do it. I asked “is that recto-verso? Because I found the same”. She asked “how do you do your recto-versos?”. I had to think for a moment because it’s one of those automatic things that you do without even thinking about it. I had to think for a minute and then explain it to her but I wasn’t sure if I was doing it right because I’d never really thought about it. She asked “did you write and tell the company?”. I answered “no. They told me that it couldn’t be done when I asked them and I had to work it out for myself so it’s nothing to do with the company. It’s something to do with me that I can do it. The company shouldn’t be profiting from my ideas”. She agreed to that.

And now, later than intended, which is no surprise after transcribing all of that, I’m off to bed. I’m baking bread tomorrow, making more hummus, peeling a pile of carrots and going to the physiotherapist. It’s all go around here and I’m exhausted.

Wednesday 10th February 2020 – I WAS RIGHT …

snow place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall … this morning about the snow.

Actually it’s not as much of a triumph as it sounds. It was a pretty safe guess that it would still be here this morning, judging by the way that it was coming down last night so as soon as it was light I stuck my head and the camera out of the window to take a photograph or two of the beautiful Alpine scenery, such as it is around here on the Normandy coast.

Well, when I say that I stuck my head out of the window etc, that is rather somewhat poetic licence because I did no such thing. I’d checked the temperature earlier this morning when I had my medicine and at that moment it was minus 2°C.

snow place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd if anyone thinks that I’m going to be sticking my head out of a window at minus 2°C they are mistaken. In fact that’s the coldest that I can remember it being since I’ve been here.

It’s a far cry from back in the Auvergne when I’d be out working on a roof or in a garden in two feet of snow and minus 18°C but I’m a lot older now than I was back then. But whatever we have here, it has everyone worried as I expected. They’ve cancelled all school transport for today. How would they have managed in the Auvergne?

But did you like the bit about “I’d checked the temperature earlier this morning”? Yes, I managed to beat the third alarm yet again, and that’s a surprise because I ended up working quite late last night – getting on for 01:00 when I went to bed.

This morning I took it rather easy. The only task of note being to rearrange once more the running order on the database for the radio programmes. It seems that the radio engineer is just as confused as I am about where we are in the running order and so we some confusion and on Monday I had sent him a programme that had already been broadcast.

There was the dictaphone to listen to too. I was around Winsford last night and I’m not sure why but I was walking around carrying a paraffin heater with me that was lit. I can’t remember very much at all about this but I was walking through the Shopping Centre there and the guy in the Fast Food Stall was putting up a sign “Closed – back in 15 minutes”. I looked at him and it was the guy who used to work in the bank there. I remember him saying how unhappy he was so we had told him that if he was unhappy he ought to leave. I was on my way to see a girlfriend – no idea who – who lived in Winsford. I hadn’t seen her for years and I was worried that it was rather late. I had a look on my watch and it was still 18:30 so I thought that there was plenty of time yet. I can’t understand though why it was so early. I hadn’t seen this girl for years yet I was so wrong about a lot of the other times that it might only have been a couple of days. And I can’t remember any more than that.

However, this “meeting up with former girlfriends after so many years as if it’s only a couple of days ago” was a recurring theme from a few years back, as regular readers will recall. Back then I was planning on ringing up former girlfriends for dates thinking that they might be free, even if I hadn’t seen them for over 30 years

Just as it was coming up to hot chocolate and sourdough fruit-bread time, Rosemary rang me up for a chat. We put the world to rights and by the time that we finished there wasn’t any point in going for breakfast as it was almost lunchtime.

Not much bread laft now so if I forget to bake on tomorrow morning, it’s going to be soup from the freezer again with the bit of bread that’s left.

orange and kiwi kefir Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut once I’d eaten my lunch I made another batch of kefir. Now that I have plenty of empty bottles I can make them earlier than I have been doing and give the contents more time to settle.

Today’s ingredients were orangs and kiwi again, with a mandarine thrown in for good measure. I’m not sure how this batch will turn out but I have high hopes. And having set that under way in the flip-top bottles for its second fermentation, I made another batch that can sit and ferment for the next 6 days or so.

And while I was at it, I had a look at my ginger bug – the ginger beer starter. That’s fermenting nicely in its little corner by the radiator and has started to bubble. That means that fermentation has begun and we are now on our way. It needs five days or so of feeding before it’s ready to use.

Basically, it’s rather like sourdough – you just help yourself to some of it to make a second fermentation in a flip-top bottle with more water and ginger, and and a little water back to your starter again so that the volume of the starter remains constant.

Of course, every other day you feed it with ginger and sugar to keep it going.

For the rest of the day I’ve been working on my Oradour sur Glane notes. Right now, the murderers have been convicted (those who were brought to trial, that is) but the fun is just about to begin.

snow place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOff I went on my afternoon walk in the freezing cold weather.

There was still a fair amount of snow about covering the car park. The bright sunlight had melted some of it but not all by any means.

In fact, we’d had a thaw and then a freeze by the looks of things because there were signs that water had run out of the snow and down the slope towards the grid but then frozen again leaving a nice trail of black ice.

And if you like, you can ask me how I know about this.

trawler english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallNow that the fishermen are back out at sea again, we’ve been seeing the trawlers on their way home again from the fishing grounds.

There was another one out there today heading back into port. One whose name I have unfortunately forgotten but she’s the older sister of the new trawler Le Pearl who arrived in port just before Christmas. She’s surrounded by seabirds too, all hoping for a little treat, so she must have a very good catch in her hold.

There were one or two other trawlers way out there too in the distance, heading back for port. It seems that the fishing is now back in full swing after the little pause while the island of Jersey attempted in vain to hold the French fishermen to ransom.

beach cliffs rue du nord plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThe sun was pretty low down in the sky today but where the light could actually reach, it was really beautiful

In this photo we’re looking back down along the northern side of the headland past the Rue du Nord and the beach at the Plat Gousset towards Donville les Bains.

But nice as the weather might look, it really was freezing out there and I was glad that I’d come prepared. I usually wear these shell trousers because they wash and dry easily. But they are rather thin and the wind goes right through them.

However, I did bring with me a pair that are one size bigger than I would normally wear. And I simply slipped these on over the ones that I was already wearing and that was great. Mind you, my ears froze again.

thora port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallNothing much doing anywhere else so I made my way around the headland to look at the activity in the port.

And we aren’t alone there again today. We have a visitor, because Thora is in port right now having come in from the Channel Islands with another load. So she’s keeping busy which is good news.

But that was me just about done. I headed off back home for my afternoon coffee and to carry on with my work. But unfortunately I was out like a light yet again for about half an hour or so, which I don’t suppose is any surprise given the circumstances of last night.

The hour on the guitar passed OK, I suppose. And on the acoustic guitar I was working out the Allan Clark number “Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress” – I’ve no idea why that entered my head this afternoon. And that’s not an easy number to sing because there’s a key change in there somewhere and I end up one scale higher than I ought to be at one point and I can’t think why.

Mind you, it’s the same with “Behind the Mask” that I was playing yesterday. And strangely enough, it’s the same note each time, an “A”.

Tea was taco rolls with the rest of the stuffing from Monday, followed by rice pudding. And having written my notes, I’m not messing about. I’m off to bed for I’m exhausted and a good sleep will do me the world of good, I reckon. And I hope that the photos work properly tonight, Sean. Thanks for the note.

Pleasant dreams, everyone.

Thursday 5th December 2019 – AT LONG LAST …

… I’ve finished all of the dictaphone notes. I dragged the final ones into the “filed” subfolder at about 12:15 today. That was another job well-done and I can start to get on with things now – or, at least, I can when I’ve backed them up and deleted them from the back-up folder on the dictaphone.

If my memory served me correctly, from the time that I left France on 27th June until I’d recovered from my exploits away on or about 26th October, there were something like 286 entries to be transcribed.

Some of them were quite long too. Leaving aside the one of over four hours (which was 3 minutes of me talking and four hours of me sleeping), there were quite a few that ran into double figures too.

And some of the stuff was quite exciting too. It’s amazing the kind of thing that goes on in a nocturnal ramble and about which I am totally unaware until I come to dictate it.

Talking of “exciting” … “well, one of us is” – ed … you should have been with me during the night too, because it’s been a good while since I’ve had such an exciting time.

We started off the evening on board a ship – not sure which one but it could quite easily have been The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour. We sailed at night into this port that was held by the Germans, at night so that while they could see the ship, they could not see its nationality or anything. We sent a big party ashore – almost everyone in fact and made our way peacefully to the supply depot. We overwhelmed the people in the supply depot, one of whom was a 19 year old Danish Freikorps soldier boy by ruse or trick. I was having to speak to the German officer in charge who congratulated me on my German but didn’t much like my accent. I said that I was a Volksdeutsch, not a natural German. Having overwhelmed the supply depot, we collected the supplies and sent our first group off to clear the way back to the ship. However, they ended up being pinned down under fire by a young boy there. Whoever was leading that column said that he wasn’t going to go along and flush out this boy because he was only a kid. This obviously upset our commander because in war everything is important and no individual, regardless of age, merits consideration. He decided to send this young Danish Freikorps boy out there. He told him “he’s your mate – you do and get him out of there” and packed him off with one of our soldiers to try to talk this young kid out of his position so we could get off and go home before the Germans woke up and realised exactly what was happening.
And, dear reader, that was really exciting that was. For some unknown reason it was the most exciting and most realistic voyage that I’ve been on for quite some time.
A little later on – a good while later on in fact – I was away again, on the same ship and we ended up in New York. We saw our ship come into the harbour but I couldn’t find my camera to take photos of it. I was really dismayed by that. But as we docked, a group of people disappeared off onto the shore. I couldn’t find my camera and, even worse, I couldn’t find Strawberry Moose. I thought well, I’m going at least to have a look around on shore even if we can’t stay here long and I can’t get any photos. However, just as I got off the ship two people from the crew came back to the ship again. They were carrying Strawberry Moose in that big shoulder bag that I have and they had my camera. They explained that they had taken him off on a few photo shoots. So Strawberry Moose and I – I should say that I took Strawberry Moose with me. He came for a climb but having been in that bag he was all matted and his fur was a total mess – set off to climb up this hill up a load of steps where there’s a really good view over the docks. But it wasn’t the docks that I particularly remembered though, it’s the kind of New York that we have visited on numerous occasions on one of our nocturnal excursions where there’s the big elevated highway out of the city off to the left. Our ship was moored almost underneath that flyover type of place and all around the docks was greenery. There was another main road at ground level off to the left of the docks. There were steps up to the top and there were some people climbing them in front of me, obviously locals, and going on about the health clinic at the bottom, saying that it can’t have been there before these steps were open. Someone laughed and said “oh yes of course it was, it’s just that we couldn’t get to it”. I got to the top of the steps and the view from the top was stunning as you could imagine. You could see the ship and see all the docks below me and that highway that I mentioned and a couple of other roads and I went to take a photo of it all. As well as that there was something about a couple of other people up there. They were fuming because they had asked someone to take a photo of them and he had turned round and said “so you aren’t really third-party intimates are you?”. Their camera was one of these with different picture settings and “third party intimate” was one of the choices. That was the style of photo that they wanted but he had changed the settings and it ruined their photo. But just as I was about to take a photo of everything spread out before me, that was when I awoke.
And that’s not all either. I had another dream – a political dream this time. Clearly the situation in the UK is getting to me big-time. Again we were on the The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour and again Cook was being broadcast on the TV, again all kind of falsehoods about Jeremy Corbyn, even though he was on the ship and even though we knew that these things were false. Even though they had been disclosed publicly as being false, the BBC was still broadcasting them as if they were the real thing.

All that I can say is that it was a good job that I had had an early night for a change. I would otherwise have never fitted all of that in.

Unfortunately I missed the alarms this morning, but I was up pretty quickly regardless, round about 06:30 or something like that.

It took me an age to transcribe my notes from the night, and that was followed by breakfast and a shower. With some time before I needed to leave the apartment I made a start on the remaining dictaphone notes.

normandy trader port de granville harbour manche normandy franceIt was soon enough time to leave the apartment and I wish that it wasn’t because, once more it was absolutely taters out there again.

We’ve had a visitor during the night. Normandy Trader has made it in and she seems to be pretty well loaded up. I can’t see what with though because of this blasted fog and mist that is shrouding everything.

One of these days I shall have to go for a look.

workmen in cherry picker repairing marite mast port de granville harbour manche normandy franceIt seems that I shall also have to go and have a look to see what’s going on with Marité too.

They have set up a cherry-picker in the quayside and there were some guys up there in the nacelle doing some work on Marité‘s mast.

It seems a shame, but it seems that the days when you would send a small boy up the mast to fix the rigging are long-gone. Times are definitely a-changing.

The railway station was deserted when I arrived. The whole of the French public service is on strike today apparently. But no matter. I went simply to pick up my tickets for next week and I can do that out of the machine there.

There is something of a reliability issue with regard to the machines so I like to go and collect my tickets before the day of travel, just in case there’s a problem.

The main reason for going to LIDL was to buy a lettuce because I had run out, so while I was there I did a quick run round and picked up some other stuff.

crane impasse de la corderie granville manche normandy franceOn the way back to the apartment I passed by the big St Paul’s Church.

At the back of it, in the impasse de la Corderie, they have erected a large crane. And I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s for the church because that is definitely in need of urgent repair, or it might be for one of the houses nearby.

And it was round about here that I realised that while I had indeed bought a few other bits and pieces, I had forgotten to buy the lettuce.

christmas decorations square potel rue des juifs granville manche normandy franceNevertheless, I did remember to call at La Mie Caline for my dejeunette and then I sailed on up the hill towards home.

There’s a little Square – the Square Potel – just off the rue des Juifs and here they seem to be setting up some Christmas decorations too. But what kind of decorations these are going to be I really don’t know.

When I come by here tomorrow I’ll have another look and take a photo of how everything has turned out.

Back at the apartment I made myself a quick coffee and then knuckled down to the dictaphone notes. And as I said earlier, they are now all done and dusted and I can relax somewhat until the next project – like the photos for example.

After lunch I made a start on cutting up some more of the digital music that I have downloaded. I only did about four all day, but one of them was quite complicated. Not because it was difficult (although the mixing that was done in the studio was appalling and I had to redo it here) but because there were plenty of little extras, like loads of applause tracks for example, that I could extract and keep in my sound library for future use.

medieval walled city plat gousset granville manche normandy franceWe had a break in the middle of all of that for my afternoon walk.

it was still really cold outside today and the freezing fog hadn’t really lifted at all. You can see the haze covering the medieval walled town and the Plat Gousset.

And it waas much worse further down the coast and out to sea.

trawler baie de mont st michel port de granville harbour manche normandy franceNo chance of spying any fishing boats out there working today, but there was one leaving the harbour just as I rounded the headland.

Nothing worth photographing in the cjantier navale or, at least, nothing that we haven’t seen just recently, so I took a photo of the trawler instead.

And that didn’t take long to disappear out of sight into the mist either. I was going to take another one of it further out in the Baie de Mont st Michel but I couldn’t see it at all.

joly france chausiais port de granville harbour manche normandy franceBut there are strange goings-on at the passenger terminal for the ferries to the Channel Islands and the Ile de Chausey.

Joly France, one of the boats that runs to the Ile de Chausey, was moore dup there today, but Chausiais, the boat that the company has bought to carry out a freight service, that’s over there too having come out from the inner harbour.

Does this mean that the freight service is about to start? Watch this space.

There was no-one around at all so I tok the opportunity to have a good run. And I managed it all the way to the end of my little track where I cross the road. It might not be all that far – a mere three hundred metres or so – but it’s the principle of the thing.

One thing that I had forgotten to do was to take the rubbish out to the large collection point. So I went and did that too and reflected, on the way back, that this is now three times today that I have run up the stairs. When I first moved here, I couldn’t even walk up them.

Tea was a lentil and carrot burger with pasta, followed by rice pudding. And then off for my evening walk.

street lights rue paul poirier granville manche normandy franceIt’s even colder out there now so I didn’t hang around. Just a bried pause to admire the Christmas lights in the rue Paul Poirier.

And I have to say that they are something of a disappointment. Not because they aren’t very good but they seem to be no different from the previous years.

Ohh for someone with some imagination!

Moving on, I ran (yet again!) on my track but didn’t quite make it up to the top of the ramp. But then again, with all of the running that I’ve done today, I’m reasonably happy with that.

Minette was there so I said hello to her and then came back here in the warmth. An early night is called for, and a quiet day tomorrow. I’ll make a start on the photos and maybe even unpack the final box from the big delivery last week. High time I did that.

Wednesday 4th December 2019 – BRRRRHHHH!

caliburn freezing fog iced windscreen granville manche normandy franceWinter is acumen in. And Caliburn is the first to notice it.

It was absolutely taters in my apartment this morning. And even with one of the radiators going full-tilt overnight in the living room, the temperature was a mere 9°C.

The other radiator won’t be switched on though, because I spend most of my life in the bedroom-cum-office here and even with just one small radiator, it keeps quite warm in here.

But outside this morning, the temperature had descended to just 0°C, with the promise of more frost on the way. Winter is well and truly on its way.

It’s not the only thing that’s on its way either. I was on my way during the night. I had an old beige Cortina mkIV (UOB? YLO? WGS?) that had been involved in an accident and was quite badly damaged at the front so we were taking the seats out of it to put in another one. We were having to do this on the very quiet in the hope that no-one would ever get to see about it because with the floor pans being the same all the seats in the mkIII, mkIV and mkV were quite the same. But the door cards wouldn’t fit and I remember thinking so it was probably a mkIII that we were going to fit these seats in. But apart from that I don’t really remember very much else and awoke shortly after the dream started.

There were further instances too, but the battery in the dictaphone went flat as I began to dictate them and by the time that I had sorted out new batteries, I’d forgotten where I’d been.

An early start meant an early breakfast and I was back at my desk quite early too. And by the time that I knocked off at lunchtime, I’d reduced the dictaphone backlog to just 8 files. I’m hoping to finish those tomorrow if I can get a good whack at it.

Yesterday, I mentioned that I was planning to head off for this outside market on the football club car park. So I took a break from the dictaphone and headed off outside.

bad parking avenue des matignon granville manche normandy franceMy route took me up the hill into the avenue des Matignon and here once again we witnessed one of the eternal banes of this site – the pathetic parking of various selfish motorists.

Here’s one guy who’s parked over not one but two places in a loading bay while he went into the boulangerie, despite the fact that right behind where he parked was an empty public parking place.

It really is unbelievable.

new house building avenue des matignon granville manche normandy franceAnother thing on which we focus is the various house-building activities that are going on all over town.

This site in the avenue des Matignon has featured before, but a long while ago when it was nothing like as completed as it is now.

And judging by the space heaters and moisture extractors in use in the building, it won’t be long before it’s ready for occupation, I reckon.

open air vegetable market avenue des matignon granville manche normandy franceAd I’m glad that I wasn’t expecting too much of this open-air market today, because I wasn’t disappointed at all.

There were a couple of bakers there but none of them had a loaf my size so I eschewed the opportunity. And the price of the fresh veg was, well, out of my range I’m afraid.

But there was someone there selling baking apples and had I not been planning my getaway in a week’s time, I’d have bought a few. Instead, I’ll get a few next week and they will be nice and ready for when I return.

erecting christmas trees place pierre semard granville manche normandy franceOn the way back down into town, the workmen were there once more at the roundabout at the place Pierre Semard, working on the Christmas tree.

Today they have brought another pile of smaller trees and they seem to be erecting their own little forest. And without any obvious Health and Safety issues, although had it been the UK, they all would have had to wear armour-plating to defend themselves against splinters.

Having admired them for a few minutes, I continued on down into town, picked up my dejeunette and came back home.

And much to everyone’s surprise, especially mine, I managed to run about 100 metres up the steep hill. I’ve not done that before.

Still an hour or so to go before lunch so I continued with the dictaphone notes, leaving just 8 to do, as I mentioned when I knocked off for lunch.

After lunch I had another play around with the Fostex mixer desk and I’ve managed to make it work after a fashion. At least, it’s recording tracks and I can upload them to the desktop computer, but the recording level is too low for my liking.

Still, I’ve ordered a few of the correct cables for the external microphones and when they arrive, I’ll be in business (I hope).

Next task was to edit out some soundbites of Louis de Funes and his friends from a few video soundtracks so that I can use them in my projects. I had an 8-minutes soundtrack and I’m halfway through it, having selected out about 15 so far.

At some time during the course of the afternoon I must have dozed off on my nice new comfy chair, because I suddenly sat bolt upright with quite a shock. And it’s been a while since I’ve done that.

freezing fog english channel granville manche normandy france 16:00 – time for my afternoon walk.

There was bright sunlight out there in places, yet it was freezing cold still and the sea was covered in this layer of freezing fog.

All in all, from this point of view it looked like a rather depressing afternoon.

peche a pied plat gousset granville manche normandy franceDespite the cold and the fog, there were some people out there enjoying themselves.

Some guy was out there with his bucket, doing what they call round here the peche à pied – fishing on foot. Scavenging in the rockpools for the cockles and mussels, alive, alive-ohh, hey?

And I hope that he shares them out with his friends. After all, one mustn’t be selfish with one’s shellfish

donville les bains granville manche normandy franceFurther on along the coast the beach out at Donville-les-Bains was swathed in glorious sunshine.

There were quite a few people out there on the beach enjoying the sunshine while they could, and that sad former hotel building that is now apartments and where I went to look at something once, even that was looking quite nice today in the conditions.

But as you can see, the fog isn’t all that far away. You can’t see very much behind the building.

beach plat gousset granville manche normandy franceIt wasn’t just on the beach at Donville-les-Bains that the people were sunning themselves either.

There were quite a few people walking out on the promenade at the Plat Gousset and there were even some intrepid souls who had made their way onto the beach.

As for me, I carried on with my walk and seeing as there was no-one out and about on the Square Maurice Marland where I take my evening run, I leapt into action there too.

All the way along my little track and up the ramp at the end too. It was something of an effort, that final 20 metres and that’s what usually finishes me off, the rise at the end, but I made it up to the top today.

Back at the apartment I started to split into their individual tracks the digital music that I have been downloading just recently. Today, I did two albums and I reckon that along with the photos, this will be my project once the dictaphone notes are finished.

There was some stuffing left over from the pepper the other day so I added a tin of kidney beans and made some taco rolls for tea. And there’s still some stuffing left over now. What I’ll do, probably on Friday, is to make some pasta and eat it with the stuffing and the left-over veg.

christmas lights rue du port granville manche normandy franceFreezin cold and pitch-black outside so I didn’t loiter on my evening walk.

They have installed the Christmas lights on the rue du Port so I stopped to photograph them. And, frankly, if that’s the best that they can do, it’s all rather sad if you ask me. They needn’t have bothered.

No-one about again so I broke into a run and made it all the way down my course here without too much effort.

Even though I say it myself, I’m feeling much better with myself because I’m making the effort to move about more. Who knows? At this rate I might even start looking for a partner. Wouldn’t that be something?

So LIDL tomorrow. I don’t know what they have in the specials but it will be fun finding out. So I’ll catch up with my beauty sleep right now.

After all, with my looks, I need all the beauty sleep I can get.

Wednesday 23rd January 2019 – WHAT A HORRIBLE …

… day I had today.

It finished by being all right on the night, but it not without a great deal of effort.

For a start, I had what they might call a nuit blanche. Despite a reasonably early night, I don’t remember going off to sleep at all.

I suppose that I must have at one point though, because I was off on my travels for a short while. And here’s a blast from the past. I was back playing in a rock group again and we had a booking lined up somewhere in West London. There was a girl from school whom I quite fancied (which I actually did all those years ago, funnily enough) and she was at University down there. She had suggested at one time that I should drop in and look her up. I’d suspected that this was just a little bit of flannel but nevertheless it was worth following up so as I was in the company of her brother (who coincidentally has sent me an e-mail just yesterday) I’d check up. His reply was that “she’s very popular with her fellow-students down there, you know”, which of course told me everything that I needed to know. Even I could read between those kind of lines.

I was definitely awake at 05:20 and when the alarm went at 06:00 I leapt out of bed (well, sort-of) immediately.

With most things already being packed, I just drank the rest of the contents of the drinks bottles and rinsed them out, gave the room a quick once-over, and was then out of the door well before 06:30.

1849 sncb serie 18 electric locomotive heavy snow gare du midi bruxelles belgiqueThere was snow and ice all over the place and it was a difficult walk up town.

But I was on the station in time for the earlier train to Brussels. It was being pulled by one of the Siemens Serie 18 electric locomotives.

The SNCB owns 120 of these and, beleive it or not, despite their looks they are only about 8 years old. They get plenty of use.

heavy snow gare du midi bruxelles belgiqueMy train from Leuven brought me early into Brussels.

This gave me a good opportunity to go for a look around outside the station at the heavy snow was falling. It looked quite impressive this morning, illuminated with the flash on the camera.

And then off to the supermarket, which was now open, for my raisin buns for breakfast.

Thalys PBKA 4302 gare du midi bruxelles belgiqueThe TGV was on time this morning.

It’s our old friend 4302, one of the PBKA (Paris-Brussels-Kôln-Amsterdam) series 43000 units of which there are 19 – built in the mid-90s when the service was launched

I was looking forward to having a good sleep to catch up with what I had missed during the night but it wasn’t to be.

Instead, because of all of the snow (it really was heavy) the train had to slow down because otherwise it might overrun signals. And so we crept along at a slow but steady 180kph instead of a flat-out 300kph.

We were warned that we would be at least 40 minutes late arriving in Paris. That meant that I had to go off and hunt down the train manager to have her sign my ticket. I have a feeling that I’m going to be horribly late in Paris and if I miss my connection, the next train is 3 hours later.

I don’t fancy spending three hours sitting on a freezing cold, draughty platform and I certainly don’t want to have to pay for the privilege if there’s a way of avoiding it.

First off the train and along the platform – a long time since I moved so fast. And just as I arrived on the Metro platform a train pulled in. So I leapt aboard and it rattled off.

Arriving at Montparnasse, I was first off the train and off on the long walk to my platform right at the far end of the station miles away. I even took all of the travelators and even though they were rolling, I walked along them to speed things up.

And I was lucky I did. It’s about a 2km walk from the metro to my train, and I couldn’t afford to hang around.

84565 gec alstom regiolis granville manche normandy franceI turned up at my platform just as the guard was about to signal the departure. No sooner had I put my feet on board than he blew his whistle and the train pulled out.

I was so stressed out with all of this that it took me a while to regain my composure. Totally out of breath I was.

The snow eased off by the time we reached Surdon and we rattled along quite steadily. Somewhere round about Vire or so I fell asleep because I remember nothing whatever from then on until we arrived in Granville. Dead to the world.

marite thora port de granville harbour manche normandy franceIt was another struggle back up to my apartment.

What with all of the effort I stopped to catch my breath half-way up the rue des Juifs and I could admire the harbour.

As well as Marité down there at her mooring too we have Thora tied up at the quayside. I can’t see what her load is today, and there didn’t look as if there was anyone down there

gravel trawler port de granville harbour manche normandy franceIn the previous photo you might have noticed one of the gravel lorries driving onto the quayside.

They have obviously been very busy because there’s quite a pile of gravel accumulating on the quayside now, and that can only mean one thing.

Very soon we might be receiving a visit from Neptune who will come to take it all away back to the UK

It was cold and windy out there, although nothing like as cold as it had been in Belgium. But it was freezing in here and the first thing that I did was to switch on the heating.

There were a few things that I needed to do back here but round about 18:30 I’d had enough. I’d had a very bad night with almost no sleep, I’d been up early, dashed about all over the place and moved like I had never done for years. On top of that, I’d missed most of my siesta.

So that was that. I went to bed. When I awake, I’ll carry on.

Tuesday 22nd January 2019 – IT’S SNOWING!!!

snow condo gardens leuven belgieWell, it was this morning.

it started at about 09:30 and went on until about 11:00. And by that time there was a healthy white covering across the courtyard out here. Not exactly an Alpine vista but it’s the first snow that I’ve seen this winter. We just don’t get it in Normandy like we did in the Auvergne.

You might be excused for thinking that having gone to bed last night and not set the alarms for this morning, I might have missed it. But with it having been an early night, by the time that 05:00 came round I was wide awake.

But wide awake is not the same as being out of bed.On a Day of Rest (to replace my Sunday lie-in) 08:00 was much more like it, although I have known better.

And Nerina put in an appearance last night. She was apparently doing some kind of research into performing dogs and I remembered that I had actually written a document on this during my University studies. So I started to sift through everything that I had written but to my dismay I couldn’t find it. I thought that it was at some time during the last year or so but I’d been all the way back for a few years and it wasn’t there. So I was wondering if I had written it but not yet submitted it. This all went on for quite some considerable time.

While I was watching the snow falling, I attacked some work that needed doing. making all kinds of enquiries about my lost passport. But provided that I can negotiate the TGV back to France tomorrow, the urgency has lessened. I’ve had another message concerning something that I need to do and for which I need my passport, and that’s not going to happen for quite a while.

At lunchtime I nipped outside into the snow to buy a baguette from the supermarket down the road. Tomato and vegan cheese baguette was delicious.

This afternoon, I didn’t do very much at all. I drifted around going through some more paperwork and then made a start on the packing. But I couldn’t keep going for long and ended up having a little … err … repose for an hour or so. This really is getting somewhat out-of-hand and I’m becoming more and more dismayed by the fact that I simply can’t keep it up any longer.

It was about 18:30 when I finally came to, having missed the opportunity to go out and buy the second instalment of my medication. At least there’s enough to keep me going for the next month, and then we’ll have to see how we go.

Tea was my second weinerschnitzel with potatoes and frozen veg. Just as delicious as yesterday. And followed by the rest of the raspberry sorbet. With everything (almost) now finished off, I had a mega-washing-up and cleaning session; followed by the rest of the packing. Leave the place as I would like to find it, which will come as a major surprise to anyone who knows me.

It wasn’t that cold when I went out for my evening walk. A mere minus 2°C. There was some scattered snow about and everywhere was quite icy, and for that reason there weren’t many people about at all. And I didn’t go far either. The walk does me good but there’s no point in going mad.

Before going to bed, I finished the packing and had a good check-around to make sure that I’ve not forgotten anything. I’m fed up of losing stuff and as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, over the years I’ve left a trail of my possessions scattered all over the Northern Hemisphere.

An early start in the morning. I can’t afford to hang about.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

building work brusselsestraat leuven belgie
building work brusselsestraat leuven belgie

Sunday 20th January 2019 – IT’S BEEN BUILDING …

… up for a while so it’s no surprise that I was going to have a bad day sooner or later. But to have one on the day that I’m travelling is not what I was expecting at all.

Possibly it was the late-ish night that didn’t help, or possibly it was the fact that I couldn’t drop off to sleep..Or maybe even the fact that I awoke at about 05:40. But whatever it was, it wasn’t very good.

Still, no point in holding off the inevitable. I crawled out of bed.

No medication, and no breakfast either. Instead, I had a shower, a clean-up and a change of clothes, and then unplugged all of the electrical appliances (although I realised later that I had still left a few plugged in).

Packing the food and making the butties was next. A quick bit of cleaning up and tidying was next and then I hit the streets.

It was a long, lonely, difficult crawl up to the railway station and I really didn’t feel at all like it.

84569 gec alstom regiolis gare de granville manche normandy franceWhen I arrived at the station the garrulous cleaner was there so we had a little chat about things.

Luckily the train was in so I quickly grabbed a coffee and clambered aboard to my seat. I could sit and eat my breakfast in comfort while I waited for things to happen.

The train set off bang on time and that’s always encouraging, but my optimism didn’t last all that long. We’d only travelled a few miles before there was a call over the PA ystem “could any doctor or nurse on board make themselves known to the ticket collector?”.

Is there a doctor in the house? I hadn’t realised that I looked so bad.

But as it happens, it wasn’t for me.

medical emergency gare du folligny manche normandy franceOur train made an unscheduled stop at Folligny and all of a sudden there were a lot of people running around outside. Eventually, an ambulance pulled up on the station forecourt and the emergency personnel started to run around.

Round about this time I dozed off to sleep but by the time that I awoke we had the SAMU here too. And after a good while they evacuated a person on a stretcher. Judging by the heavy covers over the stretcher and the lack of urgency of the emergency personnel, it can’t have been good news for whoever it was.

75 minutes late, we headed off on our route. I made sure that I had the ticket collector sign my ticket to say that the train was delayed. It’s going to be touch-and-go for me to catch my TGV in Paris.

At Villedieu-les-Poeles I was joined by a fellow-passenger – a charming lady. I was looking forward to some convivial company but she just buried her head in her book and that was that.

70 minutes late at Montparnasse-Vaugirard so I had to move fairly rapidly – the last thing that I felt like. I was interrupted too by some African woman who wanted me to tell her the directions to somewhere or other – but what do I know?

We had a long wait for a metro too. This wasn’t looking good. And it was crowded too but I managed to grab a folding seat and make a start on my butties.

Thalys PBKA 4304 gare du nord paris franceMuch to my surprise, when I arrived at Paris Gare du Nord our train was already at the platform. She is our old friend PBKA 4304. We’ve travelled on this one on several occasions

Even more surprisingly I found that I still had half an hour to wait before I could board the train. I hadn’t been delayed as long as I thought. There was even a free seat in the public area for me to sit and finish off my lunch and that was even more surprising.

We were allowed on board the train early and I ended up with another charming and personable companion. But she was busy on her telephone so I curled up and went to sleep – just waking up long enough to have my ticket inspected.

train railway station leuven belgiumThe train arrived in Brussels a few minutes early which was very nice. I actually had plenty of time to buy my ticket for my train to Leuven.

That was on time too so it wasn’t long before I was in Leuven. A nice comfortable ride in a nice comfortable train.

But winter is here in Leuven, that’s for sure. It’s minus 2°C and there’s plenty of frost lying about all over the place.

At my little lodgings there is no trace of my passport unfortunately, but at least my room is warm and comfortable. I unpacked everything and then, shame as it is to admit it, I crashed out. And for two hours too. I was well away with the fairies.

drainage work tiensestraat leuven belgieI was awake later long enough to walk into town to pick up a pizza. After all, it is Sunday.

One thing that I noticed was that the Tiensestraat is closed off and they’ve dug up the road. Judging by the look of things it seems to be something to do with the drainage. But whatever it is, it will keep them out of mischief for a while.

My pizza was absolutely delicious and I really enjoyed it.

But I was soon back in bed. I just can’t last the pace these days, can I?

medical emergency gare du folligny manche normandy france
medical emergency gare du folligny manche normandy france

drainage work tiensestraat leuven belgie
drainage work tiensestraat leuven belgie

drainage work tiensestraat leuven belgie
drainage work tiensestraat leuven belgie

Wednesday 26th December 2018 – STILL NOT HAVING …

… to manage the dreadful mess that the new upgrade that my blog-host has forced upon me, wiped out all of my essential features and added piles of new features that do nothing but add total confusion to my site, and not having found a new, more suitable host that I can bring into my site, I shall press gallantly on regardless.

God help us all!

Luckily I was recording the entries into a text file so I can simply copy/paste, but that’s the least of my worries.

So, on with the Motley.

With it being another Bank Holiday, I had another lie-in. And although after all of my efforts this last few days, it wasn’t all that much of a lie-in either. Something of a disappointment in fact because I was rather hoping for another 10:00 session.

But it was a late breakfast anyway and then I had another day of doing very little. It’s what Bank Holidays are for.

Mind you, there was one thing that I wish that I had done, and that was to go out for my medication. You’ll remember me saying that the chemists were closed on Monday. They (or at least some of them) planned to be open today and I had intended to be out there to stock up as I’m running low.

Instead, I was crashed out on the bed, under the covers, for a good couple of hours. I remember 15:00 coming round but the next thing that I remembered was that it was 17:12. And that’s not to say that I was out of bed by then either. But regardless, I’d forgotten all about the chemists and that was that.

Tea was the rest of yesterday’s meal, including the half of Christmas pudding that I didn’t eat.

night  town hall stadhuis christmas lights leuven louvain belgiumLater on, I went for a good walk around the town again.

Not with any purpose in mind, but simply to see what was going on, and to admire the Christmas lights that were illuminating the Town Hall, or Stadhuis of Leuven.

We’ve seen them before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … but they are still impressive.

night tavern universum Herbert Hooverplein 26, 3000 Leuven louvain belgiumAnd the temperature has dropped outside too this evening.

It was cold enough yesterday but it’s freezing now. Gloves and hat and everything.

But nevertheless I still stopped off to take a photo of the Universum tavern on the corner of the Herbert Hooverplein and the Tiensestraat. That was looking quite impressive in the dark too.

Back in the apartment I started to pack ready to leave. And I seem to be taking home with me more than I came with. It’s going to be a crush to make it fit into my luggage.

And I didn’t eat one of the packs of frozen veg either. I’m going to have to work out how I can get that home too.

But not right now. I have an early start so I’m going for an early night.

night monseigneur ladeuzeplein leuven louvain belgium
night monseigneur ladeuzeplein leuven louvain belgium

night monseigneur ladeuzeplein library leuven louvain belgium
night monseigneur ladeuzeplein leuven louvain belgium

night  town hall stadhuis christmas lights leuven louvain belgium
night town hall stadhuis christmas lights leuven louvain belgium

night  town hall stadhuis christmas lights leuven louvain belgium
night town hall stadhuis christmas lights leuven louvain belgium

night  town hall stadhuis christmas lights leuven louvain belgium
night town hall stadhuis christmas lights leuven louvain belgium

night eikstraat town hall stadhuis leuven louvain belgium
night eikstraat town hall stadhuis leuven louvain belgium

Friday 14th December 2018 – THAT’S ANOTHER …

…. day where I’ve accomplished much less than I intended to.

it started well enough because, having had a reasonably early night, I was awake and up and about before the final alarm went off at 06:19. And that’s a nice change.

Not so much about the weather though. It had been cold during the night and when I looked at the thermometer, it was 0°C outside.

Welcome to winter. It’s here at last.

After breakfast I had a start on the stuff that needed doing such as arranging some of the files and documents from the desktop computer but for some reason or other I didn’t seem to be able to start and I have no idea why. I wasn’t pushing on like I had hoped.

Even so, I made it as far as lunchtime although I hadn’t done very much. And a couple of nice sandwiches with some of my home-made hummus were delicious.

This afternoon I attacked the carrots. 1kg of them topped and tailed, peeled and chopped. And put in a saucepan with some bayleaves to blanch.

It was then that there was a buzz on the door. Liz and Terry had found themselves in the vicinity so they called in for a chat. It was nice to see them too.

We had biscuits and coffee and a good chat, and the fuse in the electrics decided to blow opportunely seeing as there was an electrician in the apartment. Now I don’t need to explain to Terry what’s going on.

After Liz and Terry left, I was deciding on going out, very much late, for my afternoon walk, when the telephone rang.

It was Rosemary who wanted a chat so we were there for almost 90 minutes putting the world to rights.

With all of the excitement, I don’t remember anything after that until just after 19:00. I’d been flat out on the office chair for just about an hour. I’m clearly not doing too well, am I?

Tea was a burger with pasta and tomato sauce. I wasn’t in the mood for anything exotic or anything that would take time to prepare.

For the first time this winter I wore my gloves. It’s going to be another freezing night tonight, I reckon.  But I’m going to be tucked up in my little bed in the warmth in early course. It’s shopping day tomorrow.

Monday 24th September 2018 – WINTER IS ACUMEN IN …

… Lhude sing Rudolph.

I woke up this morning … "der der der der DER" – ed … to a heavy frost and a temperature of -2°C. Yes, we are going to be in for a belting winter and no mistake this year.

Frosts and freezing already. I’m not looking forward to it.

And due to some kind of confusion yesterday in the Great Satan, the phone seems to have gone on to New England time so it was an hour later when it went off, and by this time everyone had already left.

So I turned over and went back to sleep for a while, and had pleasant dreams of the High Arctic yet again.

But once I was awake again, I started work.

But not for long.

Darren and George came back. They had to go to Fredericton to pick up an engine, a big-bore Chevy 505 racing engine for a pulling truck. This meant uncoupling the big trailer so seeing as they were struggling I dressed and went to lend a hand.

Once we’d done that, I took the opportunity to leap aboard and we set off south-east, grabbing a coffee on the way past.

And as we were early, we stopped off for a meal. It was a good job that we were early too because it took half an hour for them to prepare our meal. “Something had gone wrong” with the order and I can guess what it was.

We were visiting a guy called George who is apparently the leading North American expert on gas-flowing cylinder heads and I would die to have a garage like his. He’d rebuilt this engine and we had come to pick it up to deliver it.

And if you think that I could talk, you aint heard nuffink yet. We were there for two hours – half an hour to load up and the remaining 90 minutes while he told us “a little story”.

We drove back via the yard where George (our George) picked up his truck, and then we came back here to find that in view of the weather we had run out of heating oil. What a fine time for that to happen.

And it took an age to locate a supplier who actually had a tanker on standby that had fuel in it ready for delivery.

Another thing that I did was to book my bus back to Montreal on Friday night, and a hotel for Saturday night.

And Brain of Britain has done it again, hasn’t he?

Sitting there wondering why hotels were so expensive and in the end booking a cat house even worse than the usual. And then suddenly realising, far too late of course, that the prices quoted are in Canadian Dollars not Euros and hence the difference!

Tea was potatoes, beans and vegan sausage for me and then I called it aday.

It comes to something when something even as simple is this is laying me out on my back.

Saturday 17th March 2018 – I’M BACK!

marité port de granville harbour manche normandy franceAnd so is Marité.

As I wearily trudged (and it was a weary trudge) up the hill to here I saw her moored at her usual anchorage. She’s been away for the winter and now that Spring is just around the corner she’s come back to resume operations.

And I for one will be checking out just what these operations are.

snow condo gardens leuven belgium mars march 2018But “Spring is just around the corner” did I say? You wouldn’t think so because it was snowing outside this morning in Leuven when I went for my baguette and how about that for this time of the year?

Not what I would call a major snowstorm, but snow nevertheless. The thermometer on my new mobile phone showed “-1°C, feels like -7°C” and I wasn’t going to argue with that after even two minutes outside at the boulangerie – or maybe I ought so say bakker just around the corner.

Just for a change, I slept the Sleep of the Dead last night. And with having had an early night too, I felt so much better this morning.

And the new phone and new alarm did their business too, although switching it off it something of a performance.

I’d been on my travels too, loitering near the edge of the kerb as Terry turned up to pick me up. In an old FX4 and having trouble trying to make the handbrake engage. Liz shouted across that he had the sandwiches down by his side, bit all I could see was something that looked like a cardboard box all wrapped up in newspaper.

We had the usual performance this morning but I drew the line at having a shower. For some reason that I haven’t remembered, I closed the door to the bathroom last night so it was absolutely taters in there. And that was hardly a surprise given the weather.

So armed with a baguette I made my butties for the road and then having tidied up the place a little, hit the streets for the station.

photography session leuven station belgium mars march 2018They weren’t wrong about the temperature either. I was frozen to the marrow by the time that I arrived.And with the ticket machine in the basement I had to retrace my steps to the booking office.

On the platform waiting for the train we were entertained by a photographer across the tracks who was organising a photo shoot with a little girl aged about 6, dressed in clothing that was completely unsuitable for the Arctic conditions.

The poor kid looked as if she was freezing to death over there and I can’t say that I was surprised.

railway station leuven sncb train blankenberge belgium mars march 2018I didn’t have to wait too long though. There was an Intercity train for Blankenberge due in, which was handy, and so I hopped aboard. And it was heaving too.

It looked as if everyone in Belgium was heading off for a day at the seaside regardless of the weather. I ws crammed in rather uncomfortably next to three people who were watching videos on their phones at full volume, and that didn’t half get on my wick.

But it was only for half an hour or so, which was just as well. I wouldn’t have put up with that for a three-hour journey.

No excitement at the Gare du Midi today either. No-one arrested and no train derailed either. In fact nothing to laugh at at all.

tgv bruxelles mid belgium paris gare du nord  mars march 2018And crowded too. You couldn’t even have got a cat on board the TGV, never mind swung one around. It’s getting to be more and more popular this as summer approaches – not that you would ever recognise summer in this weather of couree.

I spent most of the journey with my ears closed to keep out the noisy brats and – shame as it is to day it these days – with my eyes closed too.

I know. I’m in a bad way.

We were minutes late arriving in the Gare du Nord and that’s crucial. I’m tight for time and even more so now that the line metro station is closed here. The deviation that I took on the way out took me about minutes, and that’s all the time that I had available so I took an executive decision (that’s a decision where, if it goes wrong, the person who made it is executed).

I took the line 5 as far as the Gare de l’Est nd then leapt on the line 4 train there and braved the long walk. It ended up being quicker than via the Porte d’Italie which wa good news and I reached my platform with 10 minutes to spare, totally out of breath.

sncf gare de granville manche normandy franceIn the freezing cold we rattled off to Granville, with me yet again sleeping most of the way.

And it was a long weary journey where we crawled at snail’s pace on the stretch between Argentan and Briouze. I was pretty much fed up by the time that we arrive back in Granville.

My OAP railcard expires in April so I took the opportunity to renew it. €50:00 for a year but you’ve no idea how much it saves me in discount. I couldn’t afford to do this trip if I had to pay full fare for it.

And then the long trudge back home into the cold, where I switched on the heating and made a coffee.

Tea was pasta and vegetables tossed in oil, garlic powder and chili. All of that followed by a walk outside. I’m on 111% of my daily activity and it feels like it too.

So tonight it’s back into my warm bed. And aren’t I looking forward to it?

Thursday 1st March 2018 – IT WAS A …

… lot warmer this morning.

Yes, the temperature when I awoke this morning was at the giddy heights of all of minus 3°C. It wasn’t as cold in here either this morning, but after less than 4 hours sleep, it certainly felt like it too.

snow pointe du roc granville manche normandy franceWhat didn’t help though was that after breakfast it started to snow. I wondered why it had gone completely silent outside, with no cars or pedestrians passing.

Under normal circumstances that would have put paid to any idea that I might have had about going to the shops. These, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, are not normal times and I need to move about.

And in any case, you wouldn’t exactly call that a snowfall after what we are used to in the Auvergne, regardless of what they might think around here.

So I had a shower and a general clean-up and cut all 20 of my finger and toe nails (and anyone who knew me even a couple of years ago will realise that an achievement that is). And then I hit the streets.

o'toole lorries port de granville harbour manche normandy franceAnd there over across the far side of the harbour where the fairground people had their residential caravans are a couple of lorries owned by the Irish company O’Toole.

Everyone knows of course that the company is owned by Plenty O’Toole, one of the James Bond girls from Diaminds Are Forever and who was, famously, “named after her father”.

But more to the point, what are they doing there? And even more interestingly, how did they get here?

water pimpig into port de granville harbour manche normandy franceThat wasn’t all of the excitement down at the harbour either. As you can see, we have a gusher – a ge flow of water into the basin.

I did wonder what it was doing – whether there had been a leak in the gates or whether they were trying something new, but it seems to be the outlet of a rather large pump and I’ve no idea what it’s supposed to be doing.

Or even where the water is coming from. I mean – I know that it’s coming from the sea, but that’s not what I mean.

We had some excitement in the town too. Someone in a 7.5 tonne lorry was delivering parcels – blocking the narrow streets as he unloaded, even though there was a free space just 20 metres higher up.

And another100 metres further on, he stopped OPPOSITE a free space and blocked the passage for the large queue behind him. So when he came out of th shop I asked him if he needed any help to park it – after all, I now have my HGV licence – but he just gave me a dirty look and drove away.

I made it to LIDL to find that there were no more than 20 people in the sho, and I had a till all to myself – something that deosn’t happen very often in LIDL as you know. Clearly the weather had defeated most people. But there was nothing exciting to buy in there, although the sorbet maker looks exciting – I’ll need Caliburn for that.

demolition rue st gaude granville manche normandy franceMy usual route back home takes me down past the streets in the upper part of town and there was some excitement here too.

It seems that a couple of old houses in the Rue St Gaude are being demolished, with plans afoot to replace them with modern apartments. This is a street with a good view in places over the harbour and in much demand – I saw a ruin here at an exorbitant price – and quite a lot of the old single-occupancy properties have gone.

But I admired them for attacking the job with a digger.

The day warmed up later and we were treated to rain – put the dampers on my two walks later on though, but at least I made well over the 100% daily exercise target which is always good.

And tea tonight was all kinds of vegetables and falafel with a cheese sauce, and that was delicious too.

But despite my short night last night and my exercise today, I’m not at all tired and I don’t know why. It’s going to be yet another late night.

Wednesday 28th February 2018 – BRRRRR!!!!

It was cool in the bedroom when I awoke this morning, despite the heater being on during the night. But never mind cool, it was taters in the living room. But then, it WAS Minus 5°C outside – the coldest temperature that I have ever recorded here.

That is of course a far cry from the minus 16°C and minus 19°C that we had in thz Auvergne, but theres the fierce wind here to deal with. When I was out for my walk this afternoon the cold wind was blowing straight through my woolly hat and freezing the woolly ears on my woolly head. And that wasn’t anything to be passed over lightly.

It was a slightly more reasonable night last night but what with one thing and another (and once you get started you have no idea how many other things there are) going to bed was nothing like as early as I had hoped.

But when I went I was off on my travels again. Some kind of confusing voyage amongst a group of adolescents, one or two of whom had difficulty understanding the difference between “sleeping with” and “falling asleep with” and couldn’t understand the significance of why a series of doors might be marked as being locked. There was a plate of something like spaghetti involved i it too, although I’m not sure what that was doing in there or what was its significance.

So fist act in here was to switch on both of the heaters in here and put them full-on. Not something that I was ever planning on doing but minus °C here is rather exceptional so I can be excused.

Again, it doesn’t seem that I’ve done very much today but in fact I’ve been rather busy, although there isn’t much to show for it at the moment. Idly surfing the internet like you do, I found a 3D virtual world that acts as some kind of agent for 3D designers to sell their output to the members. I’m far from being at the stage where anything that I ever create is worth selling. However the terms and conditions are not as unreasonable as they otherwise might be, so it gives me some kind of impetus to get myself in order and work on something positive for a change.

Apart from that, not a lot has happened. It’s not been the weather to do to much and it’s not going to get any better tomorrow. I can see my walk out to LIDL being … errr … put on ice.

And I wonder how I’ll sleep tomnight. For some reason I was out like a light for an hour just now and that’s banjaxed all of my plans.