Tag Archives: frozen carrots

Friday 12th July 2024 – ONLY HALF AN …

… hour after my cleaner had my kitchen looking as clean and tidy as a new pin, it’s ended up looking like an absolute tip yet again.

And that’s no surprise because I’ve had a huge delivery of supplies from LeClerc.

More than usual because it’s been three weeks since I last had a delivery, and add to that, they had the olive oil back in so to be on the safe side I ordered two litres rather than just one.

There was also yet another addition to the range of vegan products on offer at the home delivery site – a second type of vegan sausage. I had to order a packet because LeClerc’s vegan range is quite minimalist so they need to be encouraged. And the easiest way too encourage them is to buy the product.

It all comes in brown paper bags which I have to save up and hand back the following time otherwise they charge me for them, so they are strewn about the place at the moment. But that’s because I simply run out of steam after a while and can’t carry on. I’ll have to finish tidying up in the morning.

And hope that I have as good a sleep tonight as I did last night. It was horribly late when I finally made it to bed but I slept the Sleep of the Dead and didn’t feel a thing until the alarm went off. And I could do with a few more nights with a sleep as deep as that.

There was in fact a phantom alarm at some point (we seem to be back with those) but I remember recognising it as such and ignoring it. Not like the time a few weeks ago when I actually arose from the Dead for a phantom alarm.

But when the real alarm sounded I made it to my feet and wandered off for a wash and brush up etc.

Back in here I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night and (more importantly) who had come with me. It was the European Cup matches. All of the teams were busy, there had been lots of changes to styles and formats. The new competitions, new rules and everything that people had to learn. Teams were changing place and changing position . There were a lot of other things to do, rather like instead of just being a football match it became some kind of circus with all kinds of entertainment taking place before and afterwards, and different things at half-time with the aim to get as many people as possible into the ground as early as they could to avoid crushes and squashes , things like that, to make sure that everyone was safe, and something to do at the end of the game so that they didn’t all rush home and clog the streets, and here’s hoping that it works and makes a huge success and the teams can go on to do well in it.

Times are changing rapidly and quite often these football club committees of elderly dinosaurs aren’t changing quickly enough. I’ve been to football matches in Belgium where they’ve had cheerleaders and dancing girls entertaining the crowds before the kick-off and at half time, and seen kids’ football tournaments taking place at half-time. Anything to bring in the crowds and keep the fans amused. But it’s the simple thing at grassroots level that’s important. If I want to watch a football match and it’s raining and one ground has covered accommodation and one doesn’t, where will I go? And if it’s a cold winter night and one ground has a pie hut where you can get a hot coffee and the other one doesn’t, which one will have my custom? The days of fans standing on cinder banks in the open air in a torrential downpour dressed in just an overcoat are long gone. And good riddance. I don’t miss the “good old days” one minute.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … apartment Isabelle the nurse came round, her usual cheerful self. She gave me my injection, changed my plasters on my legs and bandaged up my puttees.

There’s a blood test tomorrow morning, so she reminded me, and I need to give “another sample” for which she gave me a small pot.

But heaven alone knows what this blood sample will be like. I haven’t looked at the last couple. Firstly, they make really depressing reading and secondly, what can I do anyway? If there’s an emergency they’ll let me know. If not, I’d rather not find out.

After she left, we had some Welsh homework to do. We had to write a publicity announcement to attract tourists to the place where we are living. It was easy for me, living in a tourist town. Imagine if I’d still been living in The Land That Time Forgot.

The Welsh lesson passed quite quickly today. We had a different tutor and I’m sure that I have had him before somewhere.

We had a little chat about last night’s football

"My friend’s son plays for Caernarfon" said the tutor
"What’s his name?"
"Morgan" replied the tutor
"Morgan who?"
"I don’t know" said the tutor "but he delivers our fruit and veg. We call him ‘Morgan Tatws’"
and that’s the most Welsh thing that I’ve heard for a long, long time.

And if you want to see “Morgan Tatws” in action HERE ARE THE HIGHLIGHTS of the Cofis’ famous first-leg win. Let’s hope that they can hold out in the second leg next week.

Towards the end of the lesson I slipped out of consciousness and hadn’t noticed that it had ended. I came to and found myself staring at an empty screen. I really have to do better than this.

The cleaner was here too. I’d heard her come in but she must have been very quiet. Actually, she’s cleaned the windows in the living room and you can actually see outside now which is nice.

After she left, the delivery guy from LeClerc turned up with the supplies. Tons of stuff all of which has to be put away.

And then there was 1kg of carrots to wash, peel, dice and blanch. I should have bought 2kg but there’s no room on the freezer.

There were peppers to prepare for freezing, other food for freezing and, as I said, in the end I simply ran aground. I can’t keep on going like I used to

Tea was the leftover curry that I should have had on Wednesday but have been putting off ever since. The naan bread that I was going to eat was looking rather suspect so that went into the bin which was a shame because I’d been looking forward to that.

Tomorrow I have the washing machine to organise and then I’ll finish off tje tidying up. But it’s nice to have full shelves again, and plenty of olive oil

In fact, I’ve plenty to do between now and going to the hospital on Tuesday. And I’m not looking forward to Tuesday one little bit as I’m sure that regular reader readers of this rubbish will recall
The last time I was admitted, the cry went down the ward "there’s a case of cancer just come in"
And someone was heard to comment "well, it’ll make a change from lucozade"

Friday 21st June 2024 – I DON’T THINK …

… that I have worked as hard as I have today for a very long time. I shall be glad to crawl into my nice comfy bed and burrow underneath the covers

However, at least I can say that I have accomplished a lot, which makes a change. What makes no change at all is that I haven’t done all that much of my own “work” though. It’s been all “housekeeping duties”.

What didn’t help was that it was another late night and I really ought to try my best to put a stop to these late hours, said he not finishing work and beginning to wrote his notes at 22:30 instead of about 21:30.

But anyway, once in bed I was soon away with the fairies and remember nothing whatever until about 06:00 when I had another one of these dramatic awakenings.

“Awake” is one thing. “Ready to leave the bed” is something else completely, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall. It was quite a struggle to haul myself out of bed when the alarm went off.

Having to be on an empty stomach for my blood test I took my time this morning – that it, until I suddenly realised that I had bread to make. I made a hurried mix of flour, water, yeast and salt but for some reason it seemed to be rather wet so I had to add more flour to stiffen it up.

But I don’t understand that. I used the same proportions that I always do and I’m totally surprised that it gave me some totally different results.

As usual, the nurse was in a rush. She didn’t want to listen to what I had to say which was a shame. I had hoped to have a little chat to her about one or two things that are going on with this illness and the treatment but I dunno. I shall just have to make the best of it.

She injected me and took a blood sample and when headed for the hills. After she left I had some cornflakes and coffee, gave the bread its second working-over and then came in here to read my mails and messages and so on.

By now the bread was ready to go in the oven. And good grief! It had gone up like a lift! Now that was what I called “bread”. This looked wonderful.

While it was baking I checked through my order for LeClerc and sent it off. With my French bank card being blocked for the moment I had to use my Belgian one. Such are the benefits of having several cards.

That’s as a result of a bitter experience in Flagstaff in Arizona in 2002 when I went to buy some wind turbines from South West Wind Power. I told the bank that I was going, paid the money onto my account before setting off, bought the items, then went to fuel up the Mustang -“credit card blocked – unusual spending patterns”

That night I spent in the World’s worst motel paying cash because it’s all that I had available until next morning when I could grab hold of the bank. So these days we have a French card, a Belgian card, a British card and a Canadian card. We won’t be caught out like that again.

But that’s what I like about Canada – there’s no official identity check. A property tax certificate will open almost every door. Buying that place on Mars Hill was the best thing that I ever did even if the natives on my southern boundary are pretty restless.

By now I was ready for lunch so I made a toasted cheese sandwich with my beautiful, perfect bread. And I’d not finished when the guy from LeClerc came with the order.

And it was a huge order too. Supplies were running quite low here and as well as that a couple of things that I use were on sale on one of these “job lot” special offers so I took the opportunity to stock up. The poor delivery guy had to make a couple of trips up the stairs with the load.

Once it was here I had to put it all away, and that was where the fun began. A lot of it was heavy and there was a lot of rearranging to do in order to fit it in. When my cleaner came round to start on her work I was sitting down taking a desperate breather with tons of stuff still to do.

While she was working, so was I. Chopping up soundtracks in order to finish off the work that I’d started yesterday. We actually finished work at the same time, which was a surprise.

The place was much tidier after she had gone, with most of the stuff put away which was lovely.

Now I had 2 kilos of carrots to scrub,, dice and blanch Followed by a broccoli (broccoli stalk soup for lunch tomorrow, folks!) and four peppers to clean and gut ready for freezing and all of that is a long, exhausting task these days.

The freezer took some sorting out too to make room for the peppers. God help me when I have to put the carrots and broccoli in when they have drained.

But that’s later. I was exhausted with all the heavy lifting and came in here where I crashed out. I was totally whacked, it was un believable. All of this lifting and staggering around has completely done me in.

When I recovered there was time to transcribe the dictaphone notes before going for tea. I was back in Bomber Command last night doing a marvellous talk-through of a ‘plane in a rain going through a mission with one or two of the ‘planes all around it all communicating with base as they come in to bomb, talking about conditions in the hospitals to a Russian so presumably I’d been shot down over the Russian Front. What I’d been doing straying that far East I really don’t know. I had a three-man crew so it was a first-generation bomber, I reckon. I’d lost my way, missed my aim and had to bale out in the end into Russian hands

Quite a few bombing missions took place far to the east of Germany and it was occasionally the case where a badly-shot-up bomber would head east to land amongst the Russians rather than try to struggle home. And then there were the shuttle raids where the USA had an airfield at Poltava in the Soviet Union for a while and ran between the UK and the USSR dropping bombs on the Germans on the way

For tea there was a special treat. In the hospital I’d acquired a taste for beetroot and it was on special offer so I ordered what I thought was one beetroot. Instead, it’s one pack and there’s 8 in the pack. What the hell am I going to do with all of this? I haven’t acquired that much of a taste.

The big issue now is storage. How do I keep it? Where do I keep it? There’s no room in the fridge for a start.

Nevertheless it was a lovely salad with beetroot, chips and some of those nuggets. One of the best teas that I’ve had for a long, long time. Probably since just before I went into hospital in fact.

There was a ton of washing up tonight, all kinds of heavy stuff included, and then I had to wrestle yet again with the freezer to fit the carrots and broccoli in. Now, I can say without fear of contradiction that everywhere is totally full and there’s no room to put anything anywhere else.

Final job was to wash my puttees. The nurse told me that they needed a good scrub so I attended to that and then rolled up the clean pair that had been drying from last time so they are ready to use tomorrow.

And then fall into my chair with a huge sigh of relief. I have never felt as tired as I am right now and I’ll be glad to climb into bed.

So any suggestions about what to do with this beetroot will be much appreciated otherwise my leftover curry on Wednesday is going to be rather strange

But it wouldn’t be the strangest meal that was ever served up. Back in the days of the BBC Home Service and Alvar Liddell, the BBC was forced to make an abject apology to its listeners.
"Due to a typing error there was a mistake in our goulash recipe that we broadcast yesterday. It should have read ‘four tins of tomatoes’ and not ‘four tons of tomatoes’"
and the announcer continued "and ‘enough chili powder to cover a tablespoon’, not ‘enough chili powder to cover a table’."

Thursday 2nd May 2024 – THAT BLASTED LECLERC …

… delivery driver forgot to drop off the box with all of the soya milk in it

He managed to drop off everything else that I’d ordered but somehow overlooked the milk in his van. I telephoned him as soon as I realised but he didn’t answer his ‘phone.

It’s not possible for me to live without my soya milk. I get through quite a lot of it,, especially at weekends so I need a large stock on hand. At the moment I have very little in store on the tiled floor in the bathroom, so I’ve no idea what I’m going to do if he doesn’t drop it off.

Yes, before I went to bed last night I went through the shopping list to make sure that I had everything on there that I needed and then wandered off to bed rather later than intended.

It was another good night as far as I was concerned, and I can’t remember anything at all about it which is good news from the point of view of sleep, but not from the point of view of nocturnal rambling Many people have told me that I need to get out more, but in my sleep at night is the only way that I can do that these days.

When the alarm went off I was having a medical examination for some reason or other. The doctor who was doing it usually examined female patients so it was a rather interesting examination. Right at the end they said that if I were to leave something on the corner of his desk could he pass it to one of the women whom he’ll be examining in due course? He agreed to do so so I put it on the end of his desk. Just them, the alarm rang and awoke me

What was quite amazing about that is that the ‘phone, with the alarm, was situated at the end of my desk where it was being given an overnight cage by the computer, and where I imagined that I’d left whatever it was, that was exactly where my ‘phone was.

Having switched off the alarm I wandered off into the bathroom for a wash etc end then into the dining area for my morning medication. It’s a Thursday so I get to take everything today including the weekly Vitamin D capsule. I’m sure that people can hear me rattling when I approach them with all of this stuff inside me.

The nurse came round and sorted out my foot and my puttees. He tells me that things aren’t going too well with my neighbour whom he also sees and he’s becoming quite worried. However it’s no good trying to involve me. What can I do?

After he left I came back in here, where I promptly crashed out. So much so that I was actually quite late going for my coffee and flapjack

Back in here I finalised my order for LeClerc and sent it off, only to realise that I’d not ordered any potatoes or apples. And that’s a catastrophe too. I’ve really not done very well at all with this order

Having sent the order off I spent the next few hours tracking down tracks for the radio programme that I mentioned earlier. I now have a nice collection of music for what I want to do and so I can start organising it and pairing it off ready to write out the notes

Writing the notes will be difficult because some of the music is quite obscure and I’ve no idea about who the musicians in the groups might be. I shall just have to do my best

The order for LeClerc finally turned up – late – so I went to check it but there’s no receipt. That must be in the box with the milk, which also wasn’t there. As I said earlier, that’s a catastrophe. As far as I’m aware, everything else was there, including the strawberries that were on special offer.

It’s quite funny about the strawberries. On the way to Paris last week there was a lot of discussion about food, both on the car radio and with the taxi driver. Suddenly I had an overwhelming desire for strawberries. I’ve no idea why

And then on LeClerc’s promotion this week, they had strawberries! So I added a punnet.

In the middle of all of this Ingrid rang so I said that I’d call her back. Once I’d settled everything we had a nice chat that went on for about 50 minutes. If she’s not careful she’ll be changing her name to Rosemary at this rate.

So after we’d finished discussing our various health issues I went back into the kitchen where I washed, scrubbed, diced and peeled 2 kilos of carrots which I then blanched, followed by a couple of broccoli. Yes, that was on special offer too, so it’s broccoli stalk soup for lunch tomorrow

While all of that was draining I put everything away and then came in here to transcribe the dictaphone notes from the night. I was in goal for England last night, would you believe. We were playing Italy in some kind of tournament. I’d been selected, I’m not sure why, but I wasn’t having a very good night. My throw-outs weren’t long enough so they were easily intercepted. Indeed the Italian goalkeeper intercepted one of them – he’d come forward for it and pumped it back in past me for a goal. At one stage we were 2-1 down but I caught him out because he kept on coming forward when I had the ball ready to throw out and I finally got to grips with my throws and managed to throw it. It went over his head into the goal. I scored a third goal too a little later on so England were winning 3-2 at one particular point. I wasn’t happy in goal – I was a little uncomfortable but never mind

When I was at school I actually kept goal for my house team but I never was selected for the school team. I thought that it was probably because I was probably rubbish – I had my lack of height against me.

Some time later though I learnt that the guy who was the school’s first-choice goalkeeper for my year went on to play professionally for Wycombe Wanderers and his substitute played for Northwich Victoria in the Conference, I was up against some pretty tough opposition.

Mind you, I might have been rubbish as well, but I kept goal for the office team when I worked for an Insurance Company in Chester after leaving school and also for several local teams on a one-off basis when they needed a goalkeeper urgently.

It wasn’t until later when I found my true niche, and that was when a local cricket team was short of a wicket keeper. I ended up quite happily keeping wicket for several years and enjoying every minute of it, and I wish that I could still do it.

Tea tonight was nothing important. Pasta and veg in a spicy tomato sauce with a vegan burger. One or two of the burgers in the European Burger Mountain are coming up close to their sell-by date and they need to be polished off before they walk out of the fridge themselves to complain.

So that’s it for tonight. I wonder what tomorrow might bring. My milk, I hope. I can’t go another fortnight without my soya milk. If it doesn’t come I’ll be in a few difficulties but it’s no use crying over spilt milk, is it?

It reminds me of the little boy watching the milkman put a milk crate full of empty bottles into his van
"Oh look mum!" he shouted. "A cow’s nest!"

Friday 29th March 2024 – THIS MORNING AT …

… 04:30 I was up and about making bread, would you believe?

And I’m still up and about now. In fact, this is probably one of the very few times that I’ve actually sat down today.

Not that I’m complaining about the early start though. I made the nicest bread that I have ever made. It actually looked and felt (not to mention smelt) like proper bread, and I do have to say that it was a triumph.

If I could make bread like that all the time I would be more than happy. Especially as, being short of money, I would knead the dough.

Earlier this morning, at 04:11 to be precise because I looked at my watch, I awoke. And I couldn’t go back to sleep no matter how much I tried so in the end I abandoned the idea and went into the kitchen.

It didn’t take too long to knead the dough but what I’d done differently was to use a little more water than usual, and warmer water at that. and then rather fighting it, I folded it over and over, just as gently as if I was massaging Zero’s clavicles.

And not just once either but a couple of times to make sure that it was properly kneaded. And off we went. And up it went too. It rose faster than my blood pressure when I realised later in the day that I had forgotten to take it this morning. Last night’s was 18.1/10.4 by the way.

While it was rising I put it carefully aside. I don’t want any nurses poking and prodding it. But I tidied up the kitchen area a little because it’ll be busy in a couple of hours.

When the nurse arrived she put on my puttees, had a chat and then left, pleased that we’d ordered her supplies for her. And then, as LeClerc’s home delivery was now open, I sent off my order. “Delivery between 10:00 and 12:00”.

Next task was to transcribe the dictaphone notes from last night. There was some kind of art school taking place last night with human models being used in the sculpting and painting classes etc for people to practise drawing or working on human figures. When they began to introduce a second model to work as a pair with the first one there were quite a few people who objected and there were obvious reasons too. It caused a great deal of unrest and unease amongst everyone because many people believed that art was pure and could not be corrupted and other people who believed that corruption was everywhere in the world and this was just another part of it. There were two extremes of people who were busy arguing over what the models were supposed to be doing. Everyone else was really quite bewildered that someone could make such an issue about something that was so ordinary, familiar and so straightforward.

And that’s a common occurrence these days. I’m convinced that there are some people who have nothing better to do except trawl the internet or their immediate neighbourhood to find ways in which they might be offended

And when they do find something that offends them they spend all their time and effort actually aggressively trying to upset everyone else by forcing their viewpoints on the World and expecting the 98% majority to suppress their own interests in favour of those of the 2%

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I have every sympathy with minority groups but sometimes consider that some of them go way beyond the bounds of what is reasonable behaviour.

When you see people complaining about what they see as pseudo-eroticism, like girls wearing bikinis and the like, and saying how indecent it is, that tells me far more about what’s going on in their mind than it does about what’s going on in the mind of the pseudo-offender.

And then I went back to sleep and this argument was still continuing. No-one was making any progress at all about either performing the piece of art or about having their points of view agreed. I quite simply didn’t understand the whole issue because there’s no objection to the art being displayed in museums etc and that’s where you’d think that people would be most upset but I dunno. I just didn’t understand it.

Later on I was still in this dream but I was actually dreaming it in Welsh. At one point while I was watching something on the TV there was a big crowd. I took something out of my pockets, some paper and rubbish, and simply threw it on the floor which was greeted by a barrage of heckling from the various people standing nearby. I didn’t just do it once but did it twice as well, I seemed to think, and it may have even been three times but I was having this dream in Welsh at that point.

So there I was, back in the same dream three times all told. And had I stayed in bed there might have been even more. But it was interesting that I was dreaming in Welsh because I’ve been thinking – and talking to myself – mainly in Welsh today which has surprised me. I must really have enjoyed that course.

As for talking to myself, of course I do. I’m reminded of Gandalf in LORD OF THE RINGS when he said "For I was talking aloud to myself. A habit of the old: they choose the wisest person present to speak to".

When the LeClerc delivery arrived I put away the frozen food and then had breakfast. And my hot cross buns are superb. They were a definite success too – well worth waiting for.

After putting away most of the food I set about blanching dicing and blanching the carrots, followed by the broccoli, ready for freezing.

And the cleaner caught me in flagrante delicto. She came in to tell me that I can’t have my injections any more.

The situation is that according to the prescription they can only be given if the blood tests show a result of less that a certain figure for something. But seeing as the prescription for the blood tests has run out and the tests aren’t being done, they can’t check the figure.

That sounds quite logical to me, but it meant that I had to sent an e-mail to the hospital to ask for clarification

So tonnes of carrots and broccoli to freeze, and there’s a broccoli stalk to make a soup tomorrow for midday – dipping my fresh bread into it too. It should be delicious.

There was football this afternoon – Colwyn Bay v Aberystwyth Town. Both teams propping up the table and they played like it too. Having seem the beautiful, flowing football of TNS last weekend, ths game was a disappointment.

Mind you, played on a swamp in a monsoon, that was hardly a surprise. Colwyn Bay have a beautiful ground as far as the grandstands and terracing go, but the pitch is awful.

Aberystwyth took the lead early on with a scrappy goal that was really the only exciting moment of the first half. Things improved for Colwyn Bay after the break and they looked more lively but it was the introduction of a couple of substitutes by each team on 75 minutes that livened up the game.

From then on, each team was throwing the kitchen sink at each other with gaps opening up everywhere in the defence as each side went on the attack, only to be caught out by a quick breakaway

Just as the game was going into stoppage time Colwyn Bay scored a dramatic equaliser, but blow me if Aberystwyth didn’t roar up the other end and score immediately.

So Aberystwyth won and move up above Pontypridd United, but things look dark for Colwyn Bay. And they’ll be even darker as they’ll be without manager Steve Evans next game. I don’t know what he said to the ref after the final whistle but it was worth a yellow card.

And then he must have said it again because he received another yellow card. So that’s him out of the dugout and in the stands for the next game.

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … I’m fed up of these petulant football players having crises all over the place during a game, and when the managers begin to do it, that really is the end.

The cleaner came not long after kick-off to do her stuff, and she left so quietly that I didn’t hear her go. But I now have a clean kitchen again which is nice.

The rest of the afternoon was either spend working on my Canada 2022 stuff or else, regrettably, asleep in my chair. Not that I’m complaining about that either. I’m surprised that I’ve kept on going as long as I have.

Tea was a burger on a bap, one of those burgers that I made from the stuff that my friend in Munich sent me. With chips and salad too, and it wasn’t disagreeable. It was rather gritty but that’s the ingredients I reckon and you can’t like everything absolutely

But it worked, and that was what counts.

Fighting with the freezer to put away the carrots and broccoli I dropped the carrots all over the floor. But picking them up (I’m glad that the floor is clean) I found the clip for the other puttees that I’d lost. Having found yesterday the other one that I lost a long time ago, I now have all four for each set which is just as well.

But I’ve also been busy booking Welsh courses. I’ve booked a week at the start of July with Coleg Cambria (and I hope that my own tutor isn’t tutoring it because doing a course with her two levels down would be embarrassing for both of us) and a two-week Summer School with Coleg Morgannwg at the end of August. So more “gyda” instead of “efo” for when I go back on my main course in September

It beats me though why Coleg Cambria’s courses are so early in the Summer break. I would have thought that they would have run their Summer courses just before the restart to set people off running when they start their next course.

But that’s enough from me for tonight. I’m off to bed. But doing all of these courses reminds me of the famous poem about Crawshay Bailey and his "engine
which was always wanting mending"

"he went to Cardiff College
for to get a bit of knowledge"

With this course at Coleg Morgannwg I’ll have been to most Colleges in the whole of South Wales "for to get a bit of knowledge" and it’s still not working, just like Crawshay Bailey’s engine.

It just reminds me of the small boy at school who had to repeat Year 6 three times. When asked how he felt about it he replied "I’m not bothered"
"Why’s that?" asked his parents
"At least I’m cleverer than my teacher"
"Why’s that?"
"Well" he replied "she was in Year 6 when I started at this school, she’s been in it all the time that I’ve been here and she’ll still be it again next year after I’ve left!"

Tuesday 27th February 2024 – I HAVE JUST …

… been flat-out on the chair for half an hour.

And that’s a shame because I have managed to keep going almost all day without feeling the effects

What’s particularly sad about it is that I’ve been a busy boy this afternoon too. My LeClerc delivery came and now the shelves in here are bursting with goodies. However, at the rate that I eat, the supplies won’t last long

It’s actually amazing how much food you need. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police who controlled the border between British Columbia, the Yukon and Alaska in the Gold Rush days at the turn of the 20th Century wouldn’t let anyone pass into the gold-bearing areas without a ton of supplies for himself during the period when it was possible to work the streams up there.

As an aside, there’s someone in Western Canada who is still using her grandfather’s sourdough starter that was first begun by him as he set out for the goldfields over 100 years ago.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall my adventures with sourdough, when the sourdough would react when I wasn’t using it and then fail to react when I wanted it. I never got the hang of sourdough.

It’s like the ginger beer. For a few weeks that was interesting and then we had the explosion while I was away at hospital, and since then my visits have prevented me from restarting. Ginger beer is not something that you can leave on its own to ferment, as the TV in the lounge will testify.

That was another short-lived experiment – the television and the HDMI cable so that I could watch internet football on the big screen. The glass from the exploding ginger beer bottle saw to that.

That was quite ironic though – of the batch that I was making at the time, two bottles were bottles that I’d re-used after buying them full of lemonade, and the third was a specialist bottle bought from IKEA. And guess which one exploded.

What was even more ironic is that the specialist bottle cost €2:49 whereas the others cost €1:69 and were full of lemonade too.

In the bathroom now is a nice collection of these flip-top stoppered bottles that I’d buy, ready to use for ginger beer or kefir once I’d drunk the lemonade that was in them (and delicious it was too).

Anyway, I digress … "again" – ed

So, nice and early last night, I toddled off to bed and settled down to sleep.

Not for long though because in the middle of the night I sat bolt upright, wide-awake. And that was a surprise. I couldn’t wait to see if there was anything on the dictaphone that might correspond with it.

It didn’t take long to go back to sleep and I was deep in the arms of Morpheus when the alarm went off.

First things first – what was my blood pressure? 14.7/10.5, so it’s slowly going down. Last night it was 14.8/9.4. Looking at the figures from a week ago it’s quite a difference.

After the medication I went and had a really good wash and scrub up, and even washed the shorts that I wear in bed. Having called the cleaner down during the night after my fall a few weeks ago, I have to make myself sort-of presentable in case she has to come again, regardless of how I usually like to sleep.

Then there were the dictaphone notes. I started off with that girl – the youngest daughter of the woman whom I knew in the Scottish Borders and I can’t remember the girl’s name … "it’s “Beth”" – ed … Everyone was living in Caernarfon, somewhere out in the hills at the back. She was going out for the night so her father wrote a cheque for £50 for her so that she could make sure that she had a taxi back etc. He began to discuss the taxi prices. Someone said that it’s only £3:50 to go to the coast so it won’t be that much for going back but I was sure that it would be more. Someone mentioned something about excess charges if she swore at the driver etc. Her father said “perhaps I ought to have written the cheque out for £100 for you in that case”.

But that was quite a rum do, that affair on the Scottish Borders, and a lot of it went over my head because I didn’t understand the half of it, even though it was one of my bolt-holes in those days.

It had a terrible air of tragedy too. One of the young girls (not the one in the dream) who lived there took a year out after school to earn some money before going to University. She found a job in a supermarket that involved a 20-mile drive at some silly hour of the morning to work in her ancient, creaking Opel Corsa.

One night, a German tourist landed at Dover in his big, heavy Mercedes and drove all the way through the night up the M6 and M74, coming off at the very junction that this girl drove over.

Of course, in the small hours of the morning, a minor interchange onto a minor road, being overtired and being accustomed to driving on the right, the inevitable happened and the Opel and its driver never stood a chance.

Who will ever forget the events that followed

And then Zero put in an appearance, so welcome back Zero after all this time. There was a party taking place at Audlem so I went down to visit it with a friend. We’d been invited, and it turned out that Zero had invited me so of course I went. I took a present for her and a present for her mother. It was a big, modern detached house. We had to wait at the door to be formally greeted by Zero’s mother, we had to hand over our present to her and then go in. We were wandering around and someone came round handing out dishes of pasta and vegetable soup. They stuck a big dish of it in my hand. I couldn’t climb up the steps into the next room. I had to hand my dish to someone while I hauled myself up the steps bodily and then the person gave me back the dish. We went and found a place to sit down. There was some issue with his soup so he went off to find a spoon. I found a better place to sit and he came along to join me. There was some milk going round so even though it was 4% milk I had a drink. Then Zero appeared. I handed her present to her and STRAWBERRY MOOSE was just about to say something to her when I suddenly, dramatically awoke – and I mean properly awoke too.

A few weeks ago I mentioned that my subconscious seems to be erecting a barrier between my young lady-friends and me. Here’s another case where one of them makes an appearance and I awaken dramatically before I’ve had time for any interaction.

After that, I revised for my Welsh lesson, and that passed really well, although I have a feeling that I fell asleep at some point – I blinked my eye and they seemed to have moved on from where I’d remembered. Nevertheless, I was pleased with what I accomplished today.

My lunchtime apple was next, and then I sent off my order to LeClerc, which meant arranging the stuff in the kitchen so that there was space to put it.

It was a big order too and I’ve still not put everything away. But there were 2kg of carrots so most of the afternoon was spent washing, cleaning, dicing, blanching and freezing them. Shop-bought frozen carrots seem to be pumped full of water.

There was some time to write some more notes for the radio programme, and also to have a play on the guitar too. It’s been a while since I’ve had a good bash.

Tea tonight was a taco roll with some of the stuffing left over from yesterday. There’s plenty remaining for a leftover curry, and than reminds me that I have to make some more naan bread dough tomorrow as I’ve run out. I can’t have a left-over curry without a garlic naan to go with it.

So what’s planned for tomorrow?

Apart from the cleaner coming round, I don’t think that there’s anything on the agenda. I might be a quiet day for once.

There’s plenty to do though, and the postwoman has brought me more bills to pay. It seems to be all outgoing right now, and I can do with some incoming.

These days, there’s too much month left at the end of the money, rather like in the old days when, instead of being paid weekly, we were paid weakly.

During the Welsh class I told the story of how we were so poor once when I lived in that squat near Audlem that after dark we raided a farmer’s field and made a big potato and mushroom curry. A moth flew into it at a vital moment and we couldn’t extract it, and we were that hungry that we just stirred it in.

That was what being poor used to be like and I don’t want a return to those days. People talk about “the good old days” but to me, that was ice on the inside of the bedroom windows in the morning and grinding poverty. There was nothing good at all about it.

Deborah Oluwaseyi Joshua wrote "one day, you will tell your story of how you overcame what you went through and it will be someone else’s survival guide" and I suppose that to a certain extent, that’s true.

But that supposes that people want to survive. Far too many people are content just to sink further in, and that’s depressing.

For me, I’ll just be like Bhuwan Thapaliya who wrote in his poetry that "the older I get, the more I cherish the company of children. The children have no prejudices. They are what they are."

Wednesday 24th January 2024 – SO THAT’S MY …

… cure at the Centre de Re-education over.

And it went out not with a bang but a whimper or, for those of you of my age who are old enough to remember the film HERE WE GO ROUND THE MULBERRY BUSH, “not with a bang but with a Wimpy”.

And whatever did happen to the Wimpy Bars of our adolescence? We used to Zoom along to Wimpy quite regularly, and sometimes even used to Woom along to Zimpy.

But anyway, my cure at the Centre de Re-education ended as it did because quite simply, I didn’t go.

It beats me how people are totally unable to follow simple instructions. I told them right at the very beginning of all of this that I can’t go in the mornings. and so I hadn’t noticed that today’s final sessions were arranged for this morning.

So where was I this morning at 10:00 when I should have been climbing into a taxi? The answer is that I was curled up on my chair here, totally dead to the world.

If there’s a deeper sleep that the one that I had on my chair this morning, I’d love to have it. There were two unanswered phone calls on my telephone, which must have been the taxi driver trying to contact me I suppose.

But could you imagine anyone, never mind me, sleeping through the strident tones of the late, great Micky Jones, Deke Leonard and the legendary John Cipollina as they bash out 7171-551 which, starting at 01:11, is the ring tone on my phone.

By the way, in case you’re wondering, which I’m sure you are, the song title is actually the old ‘phone number of Monkee Mike Nesmith, someone whose other claim to fame is that his mother invented Tippex (and I’m sure that you think that I’m making that up).

Meanwhile, retournons à nos moutons as they say around here.

There can’t be too many people who, knowing that they can only sleep comfortably in one position during the night because of problems with the right leg, arrange to have a Holter machine fitted in a position that actually prevents them from sleeping in it.

Consequently it was another long, dreary painful night watching my fitbit go on, and on, and on, and on.

At some point though I must have gone to sleep because there was something on the dictaphone. This was another long, rambling dream; but I was with a girl who was rather young. We were together and hanging around with a lot of people on the music scene etc. I was keeping a very close eye on her to make sure that she wasn’t led astray, except by me of course, but that’s another story, one that you’d all have to pay good money to hear. This went on and on and on. One night we all had to go home. I had that much stuff that it was all bagged and crated. When we finally turned up at this girl’s house her mother must have begun to unpack it while I was asleep. Right at the bottom on the floor she found 7 or 8 tablets. Of course they were medicine tablets from the medication that I take but she was quite horrified. She stormed into my room with this chariot thing and shouted my name. She shouted it so loudly that I immediately sat up (for real, not in a dream) and began to look round for her thinking that she was actually real and she had actually come into my room

So I’ve no idea who it was who shouted me, but regular readers of this rubbish will recall that it’s not by any means the first time that that has happened.

And so I was wide awake waiting for the alarm to go off at 06:15.

As soon as it sounded I leapt out of bed and tore off the Holter machine and put it in a bag for the driver who came at 06:30 on the dot. It was someone whom I’ve met before.

Once he’d cleared off I had my medication, including the dreaded anti-potassium stuff and awoke to find the nurse shaking me. He’d knocked on the door, had no answer, come in and shouted and still no reply and in his own words, "I was worried".

What finally awoke me was the front door bell, at 10:38 precisely. And it’s a good job that hadn’t gone to the Centre de Re-education because I’d forgotten that I’d sent off an order to Leclerc. I would have been in a right pickle if I’d gone off while that was on its way.

So after she left I spent a happy hour and a half cleaning, dicing and blanching 2kg of carrots ready for freezing, followed by a broccoli.

Sitting in the fridge, even as we speak, is a bottle of carrot and broccoli water and a set of broccoli stalks, all ready for Saturday morning and another broccoli stalk soup.

My cleaner came by and was surprised to find me at home and not out at the Centre de Re-education so she came back and began to clean it. And not having been done for several weeks, it really needed it too.

However, seeing as my condition is worsening by the minute we agreed that she would come on twice a week starting at the beginning of February, one hour to do as she is doing now, and another hour to start a programme of proper deep cleaning, like the windows and so on..

That will certainly do me some good.. It might even start to look as if someone is living here again.

Tea tonight was a beautiful left-over curry with naan bread, and tomorrow I will be having vegan pie with broccoli – for the simple reason that the freezer is now full to the brim once more and needs emptying of some of the big stuff that takes up space.

With carrots peas, mashed potato and gravy of course. It will, I hope, be simply delicious. Then there will be just two slices left, one for my birthday and a second for some other special occasion, although I’m not sure what that might be.

But right now I’m off to bed, to sleep I hope and if I’m lucky, to dream.

"Never Underestimate the Power of Dreams and the Influence of the Human Spirit" said Wilma Rudolph, who overcame polio to win a bagful of medals at the 1956 and 1960 Olympic Games.

To be honest, I’m not sure what influence my dreams have over my spirit but they keep me rolling along when these days I can’t even walk. I just hope that they keep on coming because as I have said before… "and on many occasions too" – ed … I have far more excitement in them than I am having locked in my little prison right now.

Saturday 23rd December 2023 – A GREAT BIG …

… “hello” to a certain young lady from my past who has featured in these pages, mainly during my nocturnal voyages, on about a dozen occasions over the previous ever so many years.

It’s pretty certain that she won’t want her name blasted all over these pages – after all, who would really want to be associated with me to that extent? – but she’s found her way here, recognised herself from a few of the remarks that I’ve made in passing, and sent me her best wishes.

So best wishes back to you too!

Also a big “hello” to Grahame who did indeed listen to the wrong track the other morning and wrote and told me about it. I hope that you enjoy the correct version while you’re stuffing your Christmas bird.

And not to forget a big “hello” to Robert from the Orkney Islands who sent me a few photos from 45 or so years ago. And when I’ve recovered from the shock, I’ll post them on here and give you all a laugh.

The reason why I’m mentioning the correspondence here is because all three people wrote to me using a Gmail account, to which I can’t reply. Google has blocked access to its e-mail system from all small independent webservers who won’t put Google’s own code into their sites.

So if anyone receives an e-mail in the future from STRAWBERRY MOOSE, you’ll know that he’s writing on my behalf. As far as I’m aware, his account can still access Gmail.

Anyone else who has written to me recently from a different account will have received a reply.

However, I’m not sure how I managed to do that because even though I was up and about at 09:45 this morning, I didn’t go to bed last night … "this morning" – ed … until after 04:00. I wasn’t at all tired and just couldn’t go off to sleep.

But when I finally awoke, first task was to take my blood pressure.

The dratted box was flaming well sealed shut and took some rather aggressive action to open it. And then I had to wrestle the blasted batteries out of the sodding plastic wrapping and that was a real work of art to do that.

Then I couldn’t open the perishing battery flap in the wretched machine for ages.

And how the hell do you wrap the flaming strap around your perishing arm with only one bleeding hand?

At that point I noticed the instructions – "blood pressure should be taken in a calm, relaxed and stress-free situation" and I thought “maybe I ought to start this tomorrow rather than today”.

Instead, I went to deal with the broccoli.

Firstly, I trimmed off the florets and put them in cold water which I slowly brought to the boil.

While it was heating up, I diced the stalk into tiny pieces, diced a small potato ditto, chopped some garlic and a small onion.

When the broccoli reached boiling point I fished out the florets and put them to drain. Then I put the water on one side for reuse.

Into the saucepan went a knob of butter and when it reached cooking temperature, in went the onion with some coriander, chives and marjoram and fried until it started to go brown.

Then I added the diced broccoli stalk, the diced potato and the garlic and spent five minutes or so stirring it all round before adding enough of the broccoli water to cover the veg – not forgetting the stock cube this week as I had the last time.

When I judged that it was ready, I added a pot of soya yoghurt and whizzed it up ready to eat.

While it was cooking I was topping, tailing, scrubbing and slicing 2 kg of carrots into the giant saucepan.

When the soup was ready the carrots went on to blanch while I ate my soup with the nice crusty bread that I’d bought.

Once I’d had my food I came back in here to transcribe the dictaphone entries from the night. Once again I was dictating into my hand and when I awoke most of this dream evaporated. What I do remember is that I was walking down a street and I came across a group of children whom I knew from somewhere else. They were all having a play around with a couple of other kids. It seemed to me as if there was some tension in the air and I couldn’t understand why. One of them, probably the one whom I knew best had on a swimming costume but had a tailored winter coat over the top of it. That looked quite strange. There was some discussion about milk and so on. Because they were busy having their issues they didn’t actually hear it. Later on when the woman was dictating the report, she said “and there was milkshake too, strawberry, but no-one seemed to want any”.

I think that I dictated that dream about me and all of those kids … "yes you did" – ed … At the place where we were, there were a couple of adults too. One of the adults there was a particularly obnoxious character who seemed to detest everyone and didn’t have a good word to say about anything. He had an accident one day and slipped. He had to be somewhere so one of the girls went to fetch some kind of toy-type of thing like a small horse on four wheels with a handle on which a parent would put a child and pull it round the room for fun. She went to fetch this and somehow the old guy managed to mount it, broken arm and all. She set off quite happily pulling him to his meeting like that. It was one of the sweetest things I’d ever seen.

Later on I was on my way to a folk music concert in Abingdon and had the computer open on my lap for how to arrive there. I was flagged down by a policeman who saw me with the computer open. He wondered if I was watching a film. I satisfied him that it was a map. When he turned it round he could see that in the camera was actually me being shown on the screen. He accepted that that was OK and waved me on again. I drove as far as Basingstoke. As I came into the town there were these 3 great big buildings at the side of the road, one after the other, all completely derelict and abandoned. I thought “what a sight to greet visitors this is”. I parked up and went for a walk around. I ended up in the shopping precinct, a miserable place. But then I couldn’t find the exit. I was wandering around that shopping centre for ages. Then I bumped into Zero’s parents (but unfortunately not Zero). We went for a coffee. They were discussing things that they needed to do. I told them that I’d be quite happy to help so they asked me if I’d make a phone call to Penzance on their behalf. I didn’t know where the phone boxes were. She said “there’s one just outside the centre”. I replied “I’ve been wandering around here for ages trying to leave. Where’s the exit?”. She pointed out some kind of tiny spiral staircase thing. Before I left, we began to talk about other plans. A while ago I’d referred them to a guy who built computers. I asked if they’d had much luck with him. They suddenly realised that he’d never contacted them al all. They were all for contacting him on the spot. In the end we worked out some kind of plan about I’d ring them every morning before they left for work at 07:30 to receive my orders for the day. Then I was wondering whether it might be better if they were to ring me before they left for work. That was where I was busy debating with myself

My cleaner turned up round about now and awoke me from a little siesta that I was having. She had brought with her some more medication that had had to be ordered. Now I really am overflowing with medication and I’ve no idea where to begin. I can see that I’ll have to rejig my entire schedule and it’s going to become really complicated.

vegan wellington Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo 23rd December 2023And this, dear reader, is my vegan wellington.

It doesn’t look particularly attractive but then again, it’s not the culinary disaster that I was half-expecting. It actually tastes quite nice too, if the bits that bubbled out of the side are anything to go by.

That was this afternoon’s task – to make the vegan wellington. It took quite a long time too all told and I was hard at it for several hours all told.

Despite only making half a quantity, there’s still a considerable amount here and there will be plenty left over. It’ll probably freeze for another time, if only I were to have some room in the freezer. No matter how much I use out of there, the quantity never seems to go down.

All that remains now, as far as food for Christmas goes, are the hash browns.

And it’s quite appropriate to talk about them seeing as I mentioned culinary disasters just now. No matter how I try to make them, they never go right. My family in Canada can belt these out by the thousand, perfect every time, but somehow the technique always escapes me

Tomorrow I’ll have another go and see where that takes me. I have plenty of potatoes here.

And I had a smile to myself today. Rosemary has taken the first photograph of her cat.

When I was down there in the summer three years ago there were several feral cats roaming around.

When I was down there in the summer last year it was “don’t let that white cat into the house! It keeps on trying to come in”.

A few weeks ago I was talking on the phone to Rosemary and I asked her to read something that she’d received. “Just hang on a minute. I’ll have to stand up to fetch it. Let me take Myrtille off my lap”.

And today we had the first photo.

No-one I ever knew ever won a fight with a cat.

Tomorrow, for one of the very rare occasions on a Sunday, there will be an alarm call – and at 08:20 too.

The injections start up again on Wednesday and the nurse wants to see the prescriptions beforehand so he knows what tubes to bring for the blood samples – blood tubes are colour-coded depending on what they are testing.

He’s in the building administering to my ill neighbour so he says that he’ll pass by – between 08:30 and 08:45

Then there’s just the hash browns to make and I’ll be as ready as I ever will be for Christmas. I’m really not feeling festive one little bit which is a shame but that’s no surprise. It’s been another year when I’ve been through the mill

But I’ll go through the motions all the same. I don’t know what else to do.

"Me, my thoughts are flower strewn
With ocean storm, bayberry moon
I have got to leave to find my way
Watch the road and memorise
This life that passed before my eyes
Nothing is going my way"


Thursday 16th November 2023 – I AM ABSOLUTELY …

… exhausted.

You have no idea just how tiring even putting away the shopping can be. And what didn’t help was having to clean, dice and blanch 2 kilos of carrots for the freezer.

Actually, today was just one long continuation of how the night had been because at one point I’d been lying awake for several hours in the middle of the night trying to go back to sleep after a really bad attack of cramp.

Last night I tried a new approach.

When my legs were functioning properly, I had some tough rubber bands that I used to build up my leg muscles when I was going running. Last night I dragged one out, put it around my two ankles and went to bed like that.

My nights are really quite mobile, as you can imagine, so while my legs are moving around in my sleep they are actually acting on each other and that might do something about the leg muscles. It can’t do any harm

And it actually seemed to work – ay least, judging by the way my legs were moving during the night.

At some point I must have gone off to sleep because I was flat-out when the alarm went off, and I staggered to my feet before the second alarm.

After the medication and checking the mails I ended up having a chat on the internet with one of my neighbours. There are several things around here that need attention and there will be one or two workmen coming into the building. As I’m here for most of the time these days, would I be a point of contact to let people in and out of the building?

In theory, it’s no problem to me but as usual, it’s the kind of thing that will happen just at the moment when I’m likely to be busy.

Next thing was to order a few things off the internet. Usually I would go to the shops for things like this but even if I could travel there on the bus, I wouldn’t have the strength to bring the stuff home.

Then there was the shopping from Leclerc. And such was my surprise when I found out that this week there were only the pears that weren’t available. I ended up having to take some stuff out of my on-line basket.

There’s a minimum order of €50 for delivery so I have my priority list and my “extras” list and I move things around depending on availability. So when almost everything in my priority list is available, I put some of the “extras” back ready for the next time in case the next order falls short

The problem was that there was no delivery window until the afternoon.

And so what I did was to go through some of the drawers in the kitchen, sort things out and … gulp … throw some things away that I no longer need. I’m clearly not feeling very well.

What prompted this was having ordered some ground ginger 2 weeks ago as I had run out, while I was filling up the cumin seeds last night I found three packets of ground ginger at the bottom of the box in which I keep the spare spices. High time that I sorted that out and made a list of what I have – and what I don’t have.

Luckily I have plenty of Indian spices so I’m not going to be short of spices for a while but with not going to Leuven and “Exotic World” – the Asian wholesalers – any more, things might become complicated in the future.

But anyway, I ended up with one kitchen drawer completely empty, and I have much more of an idea about what’s in stock here. Quite a few people have “made remarks” about the amount of food in stock around here, but there have been several times in the recent past when I have been totally unable do do anything about buying in food and the stock has come in useful.

While I was having a drink I had a listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night. There were all kinds of things like food crumbs all over the bed because I’d strapped my legs together and had gone to bed like that so that in the exercise that I’m forced to do during the night, one foot would affect the other and give it a kind of workout. It wasn’t quite as easy as that during the dream because I could hardly move and wasn’t able to tidy up or clean up and the place was deteriorating quite rapidly. I was extremely dismayed but there was nothing much that I could actually do about it.

When I saw my mother gliding across the room I asked her if she was on her way to dictate her first thought of the day, which was a silly thing to do because she replied that it was her second or third. The act of actually asking her made me completely forget what it was that I was going to dictate. But this thing about keeping my legs tied together is working to a certain degree but not to a certain other. I had a terrible attack of cramp in my left leg at that moment but it will ease off after I’ve had a few agonising moments. We’ll see how it goes on.

And later we were building some kind of framework to go in a gap in the bricks, like a window frame. Because I was unable to do anything someone else was helping me. It was so frustrating because he was doing this kind of thing in a very slapdash way trying to cut out lengths of wood with a cheap tooth-saw etc. When it came to trimming 20mm off something or other he did it by eye and it looked as if he was cutting off a whole centimetre. That would have defeated the whole purpose of this framework. In the end I had to stop him. I asked “wouldn’t you be better with a jigsaw doing that?”. He replied “if you have one” so I immediately produced one. Then I produced a battery-powered circular saw and asked “wouldn’t this be any better?”. I sat down and began to measure everything up and put a batten down to follow with the circular saw so that it would cut accurately. I was just so astonished by this guy trying to do this job without measuring properly or without any kind of proper tools – something that was so important.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that my DiY skills are nothing to write home about, particularly right at the beginning when I made a start on rebuilding the farm, but at least I knew how to measure up and cut with guides.

And some of the stuff that I was doing just before I fell ill was really impressive. My bedroom down there was magnificent.

It was really quite funny, actually. When I finished rebuilding the walls and putting the roof on and I began to fit out the attic and I thought that it was really good. But the further on I pressed, the more I wanted to go back to where I started, rip it all out and start again.

That’s one thing that I can say about the farm – I may not have been much good but I certainly learnt a lot.

When the shopping came I was … errr … resting, so it was a rather rapid struggle to my feet to open the door to let him into the building.

After I’d put away the frozen food I attacked the carrots. I hadn’t expected them to be available – the 2kg “econopacks” aren’t there all that often – so I was rather caught unawares. But the big soup tureen thing comes in handy for that.

They also had the econopacks of peppers so one went into the fridge for next Monday and the other was cleaned and trimmed and put in the freezer for another time.

To my surprise, the econopacks of aubergines were availabile too so now that there is some space in the freezer I did something that I haven’t done for ages and made one of my mega aubergine and kidney bean whatsits

There was enough for 5 meals so I had one for tea with pasta and veg, and the other four were packed ready for the freezer.

The freezer is in something of a disreputable state so I took out the vegetable drawer, cleaned it, repaired it and packed everything back in it, including the carrots that I’d blanched. It’s amazing how much room there is in the freezer when you tidy it out.

Here and there, I’ve been editing those radio notes that I dictated before going to bed last night. I was hoping to finish the programme today but I was overwhelmed by events as you can tell.

That should be a task to finish for tomorrow and then I’ll have to start the next one, hopefully to record on Saturday night.

Even though there’s some time before bed though, I’m not going to do it tonight. I’m thoroughly exhausted and after my blackcurrant, honey and lemon I’m off to bed.

While I’m asleep I’ll be trying that trick of the elastic strap around the ankle. Exercising in my sleep seems to be the way to go right now.

Tuesday 31st October 2023 – BANE OF BRITAIN …

… strikes again!

This morning, trying to connect to my Welsh class, nothing was working. My camera didn’t seem to connect to the site and neither did my microphone. Even worse, no-one accepted my request to be connected to the group.

You’ve no idea what I went through to make it work – connecting and reconnecting, even switching off and restarting the computer.

Eventually, the light went on in the back of my head and I worked out what was going on. It’s half-term, isn’t it?

Still, start as you mean to go on. I was asleep when the alarm went off this morning but I struggled to my feet fairly quickly. I went and had my medication, drinking the wrong drink this morning (yes, it definitely wasn’t my day) and then listened to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been.

I was in my Welsh class at first and told my tutor that I’d have to leave at 12:00 to go to the Re-education Clinic. She pulled a face which was a surprise. So i went outside and there was some old World War II equipment lying around outside. I could see various types of scenery relating to different arrangements. For example, Year 1 was a hat and a haversack, Year 2 was a grip bag and something else. I had to put them on the passenger seat in my car in the correct kind of order before I set off. It took some juggling to do. I thought that when I arrive where I’m going I’ll have to leave this stuff in the car while I attend my re-education lesson.

And then I was in hospital and had to go for an operation. They gathered me up but I couldn’t find my head and couldn’t find my thoughts and couldn’t find anything physical either that I needed to take with me. It was just my body that they put on the trolley. They began to discuss a few things. The story of putting things on the seat of the car – Army soldiers’ possessions – reared its ugly head too. That made me wonder because I imagined myself having a car that was comfortably and luxurious up to the operation. I didn’t count on having anything uncomfortable and rustic like a Land Rover.

We were then working in the shed last night, my brother and I. I’d spent hours going through all my tools tidying them up and sorting them out but he’d come along and borrowed them and they were in all kinds of mess and confusion. I couldn’t find half the stuff I wanted. he was building a framework in the shed to put one of his power tools on using big, thick beams of wood that he’d drilled through and nailed using a big sledgehammer to fasten these nails in. Where he was doing this, he was stopping me reaching my benchtop angle grinder, a machine that I used all the time. I could see straight away that we were going to be heading for an enormous row about how things were unfolding because my patience was drifting away considerably at a rapid rate of knots.

Finally we were all back home again and I couldn’t work out what time it was on my watch. In the end I finally managed to send a message to a group on my social network. They all came back that it was 08:11 and I should have been up at 07:00. I staggered to my feet and began to rush to make myself ready. Everyone else left their beds and as usual in the morning when everyone was up and about it was total chaos. My brother was getting in the way as usual as I was trying to dress. I had this lovely white suit that I’d found somewhere and was trying to find some clothes that matched with it. I was trying to make myself look really smart (it must obviously have been a dream) but it wasn’t actually working (nothing new there, then). There was some kind of exchange between the two of us about some money that I’d had on top of my dressing table. In the end he ran off to tell mother what I’d said so I hurled some abuse at him. I went in for my breakfast, hours late, but no-one said anything. It was all just complete chaos from start to finish. I think that I had my tie on outside my shirt rather than under the collar etc.

Next step was to send off my order to LeClerc. And as usual, several items that I would buy were out of stock, even if they were shown as available on the website. That’s actually quite depressing because much of it is important.

Even worse, the grated vegan cheese isn’t even offered, and if I’m not careful I’ll be running out.

Having done that I had a couple of e-mails to send off and then I could finally sit down and revise for my Welsh class. That was interrupted because the shopping arrived and the frozen food had to be put in the freezer.

Back in here at the computer, and having realised that there was no class today, I went back into the kitchen, washed, peeled diced and blanched the carrots that had come with the shopping.

While all of that was going on I put away the rest of the shopping, had a really good wash and then made myself ready to go out.

The car that came to pick me up was early so I had to rush around but in the end we reached the Centre de Re-Education. I was led a merry dance around the building trying to find out where I had to go but in the end was directed to the reception.

There, I was registered as “in” and had to fill in a pile of forms. I was then sent off to see a nurse who filled in some more forms and asked me a pile of questions.

Eventually, I was taken to see the doctor, a young girl, who asked me a load more questions, gave me a good examination (and I felt sorry for her having to run her hands over my feet) and we had a good chat.

Apparently, my sessions of treatment aren’t starting until next week. Today was just the induction and to give them an opportunity to have a think about what to do with me. At the moment it seems that sessions of physiotherapy and sessions of ergotherapy are how they intend to start.

The doctor thinks that I ought to do better with a walkframe than crutches so I asked her if, bearing in mind my generation and my passions, whether anyone had launched the Sony Walkframe for people like me, but the comment went right over her head.

She also talked to me about hand-controlled cars but that’s a job for these APA people, whenever they might get around to it.

Back here, I struggled up the stairs . I can’t raise my left leg high enough now to climb the stairs and that’s the most depressing thing that can happen. If that continues, I’ll be a prisoner here in my apartment.

Armed with a mug of hot chocolate I came back in here where, regrettably, I crashed out for a while. I ended up doing nothing at all for quite a while, but to finish off the evening I’ve been editing and cropping a few very large sound files, just to say that I’ve done something today.

Tea tonight was a taco roll with some of the stuffing left over from last night. There’s still some left so I’ll be making a leftover curry tomorrow. I’d forgotten about the naan bread but when I was organising the freezer earlier I came across all of the naan dough that I made a while ago.

Tomorrow morning I have an important letter to write and then while the cleaner is here I’ll finish off the radio notes. And I might even be brave and start another programme.

While there’s nothing much going in, I may as well push on with some work and see how far I can get. But it’s not quite as easy as that.

Saturday 16th September 2023 – I UPLOADED …

… all of the soundfiles from the dictaphone onto the computer this afternoon. You wouldn’t believe how many there are either that accumulated while I was away. I must have had a few really lively, mobile nights.

It’s going to take an age to transcribe them and there are also quite a few from when I was in hospital from last Autumn that I have yet to transcribe. I suppose that that will make a nice task for me when I’m away in hospital.

Strangely enough, there was only one soundfile from last night. And even more surprisingly, you don’t really want to know about it either, especially if you are eating your tea right now.

But there’s only the one because I had another bad night. Despite all of my efforts during the day I wasn’t in the least bit tired. It was long after 01:00 when I went to bed and I wasn’t in the least bit tired.

It took an absolute age to go to sleep and I was actually awake again at 06:30. I’d changed the alarm to 08:00 following my late night but I was already up and about by then.

The drive to the shops was a horror. My left leg is now giving out and I had some trouble even making it to Caliburn with one crutch and my shopping trolley. And then I had a great deal of difficulty climbing into the cab.

Trying to work the brake was difficult too so it was quite a slow drive to the supermarket. Unless they can work miracles at the hospital and at this physiotherapy place, I can see that it won’t be long before I have to abandon the idea of driving.

For obvious reasons, I didn’t go to Noz. I didn’t feel as if I could manoeuvre around on the car park and then walk around the shop with just one crutch. Instead, I went straight to Leclerc.

Being early, I was lucky enough to find a reasonable parking place. Even so, it was a desperate stagger around the supermarket leaning on a shopping trolley.

There wasn’t anything special on offer today but one or two things in the clearance bin were interesting, like vegan margarine and a pack of hamburger buns.

Another slow drive back home and I couldn’t manage my shopping trolley. I had to leave a few things in Caliburn to pick up another time. And someone going past from the other entrance to the building helped me by carrying my shopping trolley upstairs for me, which was very nice.

Having put everything away I made my coffee and cheese on toast, and then came in here where I crashed out for almost two hours. I suppose that it was the tiredness of the last few days and the effects of going to the shops this morning.

At Leclerc I’d bought 2kg of carrots because they were on offer. I cleaned them, diced them and blanched them. Later on I put them in the freezer – at least, as much as I could because the freezer is full to capacity. One of the two bags of carrots has gone into the ice-box in the fridge until I can make some space.

Tea tonight was strange. I found that I’d forgotten to buy a lettuce so in the end I made a potato salad. That would have been nice had I remembered to buy the salad dressing. Instead I had to make a vinaigrette dressing with olive oil, wine vinegar and herbs.

Now that everything is done, I’m off to bed. I’ve no intention of leaving my bed early tomorrow. I have a lot of sleep that I need to catch up and so I hope that I’ll have a comfortable, relaxing night back in my own bed.

After what has gone on over the last couple of days, I reckon that I’ve earned it.

Thursday 7th September 2023 – BY THE TIME …

… that you read this I probably won’t be here.

Well, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I’m not all here and I haven’t been all here for quite a while but tomorrow I shall be somewhere else.

What I have been doing today is preparing for my journey. And it’s taking some preparation too.

There is however some good news. You might think that the idea that my neighbour isn’t going to work tomorrow morning so can’t drop me off at the station on her way meant that I’d have to make other plans.

Before I phoned to book a taxi (yes, I really am that ill) I checked the bus times. The bus from outside here doesn’t for some reason that only the dispatcher will know, go into town or near the railway station. I have to change buses.

There are three places where it’s possible to do so and in the past, I’d miss a bus to the station by a couple of minutes. However I checked today and found that they seem to have adjusted the timetable, meaning that I have a 20-minute wait at the port for a connecting bus.

There’s only 15 minutes to leave the bus at the station and board the train before it departs, so I shall have to hurry as best as I can. But it seems to be the most logical way to go to the station.

If ever I had anything to say about it, I’d have a major re-route of the bus network. It defies all understanding that here in the walled city, where the population density is heaviest, the bus doesn’t go to the town centre, the railway station and the hospital, and stops a good few hundred metres away from the largest supermarket.

So be that as it may, I’ve been quite busy today.

last night was rather depressing because I went on several little voyages that completely evaporated out of my mind when I tried to dictate them. My brain is really turning to spaghetti right now.

When the alarm went off I was dead to the world and had something of a scramble to rise to my feet.

After the medication and checking the mails and messages I had a chat with Alison and with Liz on the internet and we had a few things to say to each other. Rosemary also sent me an e-mail to say that the internet was down at her place. The Auvergne is definitely “The Land That Time Forgot”.

First thing that I needed to do is to book my train from Brussels to Leuven. I’m not going to have much time in Brussels to buy a ticket when I arrive and, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I’m not as mobile as I used to be.

Once I’d done that, I had to track down all of my paperwork and print it off, and then organise my medical folder. I don’t need the stuff that I took with me to Paris last week.

But it really is a sign of the times that even one unnecessary piece of paper in the backpack makes such a difference in my mobility.

There was the backpack to pack too. And we had a slight catastrophe because I can’t find my box of medical stuff that I take with me. I’ve no idea where that might be. I’ve put it somewhere but I can’t think where.

That’ll teach me a lesson. I’m the world’s worst at organising myself so I have to have a place for everything and everything has to be in its place. And if it isn’t, than I am totally lost.

So now that my bag is packed as much as possible, complete with food to sustain me on my journey, I backed up the computer onto the USB key that I take with me when I travel.

And not having backed up the portable computer since my last trip to Leuven, which was in May, there will be tons of stuff to amend and append when I’m on the train tomorrow morning. A mere 2,338 files, to be precise.

There was even time to finish off sorting out the music for another programme. But I’ve not written any notes for it as yet as I’m going to have several days when I won’t have anything to do so I can catch up with it then.

A little earlier I talked about my nocturnal voyages. We were doing a remake of EL DORADO last night. I was accompanying John Wayne on his travels on his horse. Our version was much better than John Huston’s … "actually Howard Hawks’s" – ed. We did so much more in the film and went into it in much greater depth. It was another one of these that went on for absolutely hours but I ran out of steam while I was in the apartment of the girl who was trying to give him false information. It was nothing like the cabin in which the girl was living – it was an office block in a huge complex and an apartment above the Bank that was there, all modern glass and chrome etc. The person who gave John Wayne his information at the sheriff’s office, which was a huge place with lots of small offices was actually one of his ex-wives. She struck me as being quite a nice woman. But I ran out of steam while we were confronting the woman about the disappearance of the gang that we were trying to hunt down.

There was another long rambling dream, however as I mentioned earlier, I’ve forgotten almost all of it. The interesting thing about it was that we encountered the wife of a friend of mine. Her birthday was 5th September. I had another friend who was also a nurse. Her birthday was also 5th September. I thought that that was the most amazing coincidence.

Later on, there was another dream that I’d forgotten, one in which we encountered the body of a friend of ours in the Stores in a castle. She’d obviously been very unhappy and she’d committed suicide but I can’t remember any more of this.

However a little later I had something of a recollection of a few things relating to that last dream. There was something to do with hire cars. Whole fleets of cars had been hired out by big reputable companies but some were so old – quite a few “G” registration cars there as in the mid-80s. They had been hired out for this event. I was interested to know whether they’d hire them out again but the person concerned with whom I was talking didn’t know. All my colleagues at work were making remarks about the vehicle that I’d hired and about me driving it which I thought was awful but never mind! There was also something involving a bowlful of the dirtiest water you could ever imagine but I don’t now where that fitted in.

Tea tonight was fried rice and vegetables with some of those Chinese whatsits that I bought a while ago. It was a really nice tea too and i’ll have some more of those when I can

Actually I ought to have a think about making them myself. They are basically tofu and vegetables wrapped in some of that brick pastry stuff. I suppose that I could make them like sausage rolls and slice them into smaller lengths.

And that reminds me – I need to think about making my sausage rolls at some point.

Before I finished, I diced the remaining carrots, blanched them and put them in the freezer. There weren’t many of them but it would be a shame to throw them out.

So I’m off to bed, ready for tomorrow. I shall be in a rush so I need to get a move on. And it will be a long, tiring day which won’t end for quite a while. At least I can sleep on the train, if I’m not too busy with those 2,338 files.

Friday 7th July 2023 – I ALMOST SCORED …

… maximum points today.

There I was with Caliburn on our way to the nerve specialists when a bunch of people, adults and kids, too busy going “ooohhh look! A Seagull!” to notice that they had stepped off the kerb right in front of us.

My reactions are quite slow these days, I know, but had they been any slower we would have had an impressive game of ten-pin bowling with a few live skittles.

Yes, it’s tourist time again and the place is swarming, all the way through the night as well.

That might make you think that it’s difficult to go to sleep but actually I had one of the best nights’ sleeps that I’ve had for ages, and that’s quite bizarre.

When the alarm went off I was dead to the world and as usual, it was difficult to summon up the energy to beat the second alarm.

First thing that I did after the medication was to make some bread. I’m not going into town this morning but I still wanted my cheese on toast so I made a nice round bap. It was quite good. The air fryer did me proud although I had to wait for a couple of hours while the dough rose and all of that.

While it was doing that, I had a listen to the dictaphone. There wasn’t much on there from the night so it must have been quite a deep sleep. I was on a bus travelling to somewhere in Yorkshire. There was a new railway station there being built, a big interchange. The bus when it hit the town centre went an unfamiliar way. It looked as if it was taking us to the new railway station. We knew nothing about this. We just thought that it would drop us off here and we’d have to walk to the old one. When we came to outside the station we could see that the station was full of trains. There were all kinds of chalk noticeboards about this train and that train, some trains running 30 minutes late etc. I made a brief note on the back of an envelope to be able to discuss with the girl travelling with me. When I found her she was perplexed because she couldn’t find any of our suitcases. There was all kinds of confusion happening here at this new railway station

After my cheese on toast I carried on with my trip around Canada in 2017. I’m now leaving the Furdustrandir and heading out to the abandoned fishing settlement of Pack’s Harbour, on an island out to sea.

Someone asked me whether STRAWBERRY MOOSE was with me. He was actually with me in Labrador, but didn’t come with me on the boat.

If the truth be known, there was some confusion. It was intended that he should come with me so I told him to go and bring back a couple of oars. He must have misunderstood what I was asking because he wandered off towards the red light district.

In the middle of all of this I went for a shower to make myself look nice for the doctor, and then carried on with my desultory Welsh revision. I really am hopeless at this.

The doctor put me through my paces. It’s agony having all of these mini-electric shocks while he records my reflex reactions. I was there for well over an hour too. But he told me what I knew already, and that was that there is a deterioration in my condition.

One good (if it can be called good) thing that came out of it though is that if they do decide to take me on, he’ll authorise a taxi from the railway station at Montparnasse to the hospital.

And that’s a great weight off my mind. It’s bad enough on Line 4 to the Gare du Nord but if I have to change lines and go up and down stairs it will become impossible.

After the doctor’s I went to Lidl for the weekend shopping. I didn’t buy much but it’s still expensive. To my surprise, 500 grammes of mushrooms were only a few pence dearer than 250 grammes. So I bought the larger size and tomorrow at lunchtime I’ll have mushroom soup. That should be really nice.

Amongst the things that I bought this evening was a kilo of carrots as I’m running out. So after tea – chips, salad and these vegan nugget things, I diced and blanched the carrots. before I go to bed I’ll be freezing them

And I won’t be long going to bed either. I’ve not done the radio notes today and I was going to do them now but I’m exhausted. I had to fight off a wave of sleep earlier and I don’t think I’ll be successful this time. I’ll hurry up and finish my notes, then have an early night before I …

errrr …


Tuesday 20th June 2023 – I’VE HAD A …

… horrible afternoon today. and I really mean that too, in case you think that I’m exaggerating. I’ve spent almost all of it fast asleep on my chair, well out of just about everything.

It’s not as f I hadn’t had a good night’s sleep last night. I was in bed at some kind of realistic time and I can’t remember being awake for all that long.

And when the alarm went off I was on board the THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR. It was the last day of our trip around the High Arctic so we came back on board handing in all of our possessions etc ready to go to our cabins to pack for the next morning before we leave. I was talking to a few people and a girl probably in her late 20s with curly hair began to talk to me. She asked me what my plans were. I said that we were going to fly to Houston from here. I was going to hire a car and drive around for a few days. She didn’t ask but began to plan my voyage with me “we’ll have to do this, we’ll have to do that but you’ll have to drive of course” etc. She was a nice enough girl, pleasant, but I couldn’t get over the fact that she was wanting to come along and hang around with me for a few days. I went back to my room thinking “I hope that I recognise her when we’re having our evening meal tonight”. Back in my cabin, it was an absolute tip. I remember leaving in a hurry but I didn’t remember it being in such a mess as this. I began to tidy up but there was so much stuff, all kinds of it and a huge pile of lace curtains that i’d somehow brought with me. I thought “there’s no way I can take this home” so I began to wrap it up and put it in a sack ready to take to the rubbish. It was at that point that the alarm went off.

After I’d had my medication I did some preparation for my Welsh class but at about 09:50 I headed out for the nerve specialist, having a little chat with a neighbour on my way out.

The news was, as I suspected, not so good. All of the obvious checks were made and came up with nothing. The only thing to think of is that the cancer is spreading into my nervous system.

There’s a hospital in Paris that specialises in nervous disorders and goes deeply into the matter. Would I like to go there? Well, do bears have picnics in the woods?

As well as that, there’s also what they call a Centre de Réeducation here in Granville. That’s a place where people who have had a severe accident or illness go in order to redevelop their life skills ready to go back to their normal life. He thinks that I might benefit from going there and would I like a referral?

One thing that he did tell me is that I mustn’t hold out too much hope. If the cancer is in the nervous system nothing is going to improve but it’s important that I keep my autonomy as long as possible and the treatment that I’ll be receiving will be towards that end.

On leaving, I went to Lidl to do some shopping and then I came back here. Grabbing something to eat and a coffee, I went to my Welsh lesson. But it wasn’t a success. My mind and my heart weren’t in it and I was really glad when it was over.

While I ate my lunchtime fruit afterwards I was chatting to Liz on the internet and then I completely, absolutely and definitively crashed out. and it was the deepest and most desperate that I’ve had.

When I finally awoke I had my hot chocolate and then transcribed the dictaphone notes. Some you have seen, but there were other. I was back at school last night. I couldn’t find any course work for any of my lessons. I’d left my satchel in our form room while I’d gone off somewhere. When I came back there was a class in there so I couldn’t go in. One thing led to another. The following morning I still didn’t have my class work so I decided that I’d go in to the class to enquire. No-one understand what I was talking about for a minute until it suddenly twigged that it was in fact my form classroom too but no-one had seen my satchel. The teacher couldn’t help and neither could any of the pupils in there. In the end I had to leave it and go to find my current class completely without papers. I walked in a few minutes late. The teacher scowled at me and asked where I’d been. I gave some kind of vague excuse and sat down. She had to give me a photocopied sheet for the current lesson that we were supposed to be doing. There was something strange, that the class that I’d interrupted to find my possessions, all the kids were in school uniform except for 2 who were in completely different school uniform of green pink and white that had nothing whatever to do with our school colours that were navy blue and white.

And then I was with a girl from school last night. We had a kind-of fast food stall in the town centre late at night. It was an upmarket thing. We had a stainless steel plate that we heated on electric elements and would fry peppers and stuff like that on it. It was a very complicated way to go about doing things but if you used the correct cooking oil it turned out to be really nice. It was the end of the night about 02:00. Everyone was going home and we were packing up. Lots of people would come over to chat and have something to eat. We ended up having an interesting chat with a couple of guys and girls. They gave my girl a beer to try, a special beer. She politely offered me one but I said no. She offered me some cake so I said no. We had a very interesting chat about nothing at all for a couple of minutes as we were cleaning everything up and putting it away.

Before I had tea I had to clean dice and blanch a kilo of carrots. I’d bought some at Lidl because I was running low. And it was a real fight to fit them in the freezer.

Then I made tea. A taco roll with rice and veg followed by the cinnamon roll and ice crea.

So having had an awful day, I’m going to bed. I’ve had enough of this and I’m going to start afresh tomorrow. There’s something going on right now in my body and I wish that I knew what it was.

Saturday 27th May 2023 – WE ARE NOW BACK …

… in the position where we were a few months ago. The freezer is now full to bursting once more.

It was a good day round at the shops to-day and once again, Noz came up trumps as it does every so often.

But anyway, I didn’t beat the alarm this morning. I was somewhere down in Newcastle under Lyme at the PMT bus garage where I was to pick up a bus to work a local service around Newcastle. They’d given me the information and then given me a route map but the map was a kind-of abstract map. I couldn’t identify anything on this map compared to how it is in real life so I had to find someone to explain the route to me. I was wandering around this depot trying to find someone. I found one or two people but they were of no help whatsoever. I really needed an inspector or something but I just couldn’t find anyone at all. There were all these buses parked up. No-one had actually told me which one was mine. I thought to myself “I can see this being a disaster too if I don’t organise things quite quickly” and that’s something that is a recurring theme too.

It didn’t take too long to organise myself this morning, which is a surprise. and it’s just as well because Alison phoned. She needed to talk about things like kitchens and showers so we were there on the ‘phone for about an hour discussing various things.

As a result I was rather later than usual going out to the shops but who cares? I’d much rather talk to my friends than almost anything. As I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … I don’t have many friends but those whom I have are the best in the World.

So at Noz, the first thing that I discovered was a pile of McVitie’s ginger biscuits, and the vegan version too. I know that I like to bake my own biscuits these days but I’m not going to miss out on several rolls of these.

And in the deep freezer they had carrot burgers from some Italian company and a pile of those breaded quorn fillets that I like, only a Findus variety with the labelling in Danish and Swedish.

My diet can be somewhat monotonous if I’m not feeling adventurous so I’m not going to miss out on the chance to add some extra stuff into it so I grabbed several boxes of each of those to shake things up a little.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, Noz is a chain of shops that buys bankrupt stock, surpluses, short lifespan products and the like and sells them off quite cheaply. I’ve had piles of stuff from there over the past 10 or 12 years since I first encountered one and there’s usually always something in there to add some excitement to my diet.

LeClerc came up with the goods too. Some of that sliced fondue vegan cheese in the clearance range so I liberated a pile of that too. I also bought some lasagne. It’s years since I made myself a lasagne and I had a sudden craving for one. I might have a go at that next week.

But there was something rather surprising in LeClerc today. They have a few assistants who roam around the store to help the elderly and infirm with their shopping, and one of them came over to me to ask if I needed help.

In the past I’ve been told, and on one or two occasions quite bluntly too, that I didn’t look as if I’m dying. But after my adventures last autumn everyone who saw me on my return told me how ill I was looking and how they were worried that I might not pull through – even my doctor. But I reckon that it’s becoming clearer by the minute now and if Regina is reading this, then “I told you so”.

It’s all very reminiscent of when I used to live in Brussels and one of my friends happened to see me
“Eric!” he exclaimed. “We thought that you were dead”
“Not at all. It just smells like it.”

Back here the first thing that I did was to clean and dice the 2kg of carrots that I’d bought and set them off a–blanching. I’m running low on carrots in the freezer so I need to stock up. And then I had breakfast – cheese on toast and some nice, strong coffee.

There was time to transcribe the rest of the dictaphone notes, because I’d been on my travels quite a lot during the night. I was in a group last night with a few other people. There was a keyboard player and a guitarist whom I remember. The guitarist was quite young. We took the stage and began to play. A girl came up and went over to the guy playing the guitar and singing and began to gyrate around him. It was clear that she was putting him completely off his stroke. When it came to the part where he was supposed to sing he turned to the keyboard player and said “you’ll have to sing this”. This led to an argument between the two of them. As soon as the concert finished and it was already undignified with a few spectators and someone was getting an awful amount of mileage out of this, teasing them both about their group, how disorganised and how bad it was.

And isn’t that a shame? I seem to have gone beyond the days when girls would come along and gyrate all around me – even when I’m off on another plane of existence. I’m losing count of the number of times that I’ve snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in this respect during the night, without counting the number of times members of my family have come along to queer my pitch in the middle of something exciting.

Later on I’d been staying in a cabin with a couple of old guys, the type of thing that you’d find on the frontier 150 years ago. Cabin fever was definitely striking and we were arguing about just about anything. One of the guys decided that he would let rip with a full-blown argument point out to me all my faults and defects. I had an answer for everything that he said but it was just one of those things that if you became involved in this argument you’d be there for ever and nothing would ever be resolved.

And that’s something else, isn’t it? Cabin fever is quite a well-known phenomenon in the High Arctic and there were several cases amongst some of us after several months on THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR. My suggestion that we round up the more cantankerous members of our party and send them ashore on the first zodiac to see whether there were any polar bears about did not however meet with universal approval, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall.

Immediately after that little episode I awoke with a terrible pain in my right knee as if I’d over-exerted it yesterday. However it eased off after a while and I went back to sleep.

Once the carrots were draining and drying off I headed into town in the beautiful sunshine. And do you know – it’s taken me about 6 months to realise that if there is a set of steps with the handrail on the right, I can go down much quicker and easier if I go down backwards?

The Aranesp was waiting for me so I picked it up and headed home. Having struggled with my shoulder bag falling off my shoulder and knocking me and my crutches out of balance, I’d found a backpack that I’d bought ages ago to use as a day pack when I go out walkies (not that I’ll be doing much of that these days) and that was much better.

On the way back I fell in with one of my neighbours, Pierre, the one who owned the Spirit of Conrad on which we sailed down the Brittany coast FOR A WEEK a few years ago. We had a good chat about this and that. As I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … I seem to be the flavour of the Month since I now own a share of this building.

From there I came back in a regrettably, at that point I … errr … had a little relax, just as I thought that I might. It’s all becoming rather monotonous, but there’s nothing that I can buy in Noz to alleviate that.

While Alison and I had been chatting earlier I’d told her that I’d sort out a few photos of the kitchen that I’d had installed in Expo so I had a rummage around in various old directories (yes, they are still “directories” – I haven’t recovered after learning DOS 5.0) and sorted out a few to send to her.

The rest of the day has been spent resurrecting an old project. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that when they opened the road over Eagle Plateau in 2010 so that you could drive all the way across from northern Québec to the Labrador coast, I was one of the first TO ATTEMPT IT

At that time I went as a tourist and I had no idea what to expect so after I returned I did a pile of research and went again in 2014 and then in 2015 by which time I’d bought Strider who was a much-more suitable vehicle for going off-roading. The aim on those occasions was write a sequel but from a historical and social point of view.

Unfortunately that project ground to a halt because a few months after returning in 2015 I was swept up in all of this.

And as well as that, I went again in 2017 when I went out in a couple of small boats to visit some of the abandoned settlements that were cleared out under Joey Smallwood’s “bigger is better” policy of the 1950s and for which even 70 years later the people of the Labrador coast are still paying the price.

However, I digress … “yet again” – ed.

The task therefore, if I choose to accept it, is to resurrect what I was doing in 2015 and to add in the stuff from 2017 and start again. So this afternoon I’ve been trying to find all the notes that I made back in those days.

Tea tonight was a couple of small breaded quorn fillets that I’d bought ages ago and were festering in the freezer. Wo while I pulled them out, I stuck the carrots in. I had the fillets along with a salad and some fried potato cubes done in the air fryer. That was really nice.

Tomorrow is a Sunday of course so I’ll be having a lie-in. But I have some radio notes that I’ve written and I’ll dictate them tonight once the street outside is quiet. That’ll give me something to do tomorrow and on Monday, and then I can crack on with this and that.

But before I go, yesterday I was talking about South Pass. There’s one song that I always associate with South Pass and THAT CAME ROUND on the playlist.
“We rolled across the high plains
Deep into the mountains
Felt so good to me
Finally, feelin’ free
Somewhere along a high road
The air began to turn cold
She said she missed her home
I headed on alone, oh, oh”

(and who do those last two lines bring to mind?)

The song is all about “The High Plains” of Wyoming, which WE VISITED IN 2002 when I was on my course at the Solar Energy Institute but the photo in the posted extract is a long, long way from the High Plains of Wyoming. Regular readers of this rubbish in one of its earlier guises will recall having seen that image BEFORE.

“Next time
We’ll get it right”

Friday 21st April 2023 – SO THAT IS …

… that!

Hospital week is over and I can press on with more exciting things, like planning my hospital trip to Leuven next month.

But not this afternoon because while I didn’t actually crash out when I returned home, I wasn’t in much of a state to do anything.

It’s the bad night that I blame for all of that. In bed fairly early, what with one thing and another (and once you start, you’ll be surprised just how many other things there are), and then I couldn’t sleep for ages.

It was at 06:20 when I awoke and it wasn’t all that long before I was up and about. But then it’s not surprise that I couldn’t sleep all that well with the needle in my right hand and the pretty awful pain in my left arm. I was totally fed up.

Last night I couldn’t even undress and this morning I couldn’t wash properly either so all in all I was in a right mess by the time that Caliburn and I hit the road.

The Day Hospital at Avranches was really busy. There were four of us in a room set up for two and it was the same in the other rooms there with people coming and going quite rapidly. Only one bottle for me today so I didn’t have to hang around all that long.

The sad part about it was that thy couldn’t take any blood from the needle that they’d left in me overnight so they had to stick another one in my and now I know how a dartboard must feel.

But I’m totally fed up so I spoke to the head nurse and told her that if I really do have to come back, I want a catheter port putting in. She saw the damage that they have done to my arms over the last few days and agreed.

But I have to have a blood test next Friday and discuss the results with the nerve specialist here in Granville and he’ll tell me what the score will be. I suspect that I’ll be back in Avranches before too long.

From the hospital I headed off into town. I wanted to look around the shops and I ended up going to Noz, Aldi, Lidl and LeClerc. And I’m glad that I did because both Noz and Aldi were having baking days and there were lots of little stuff that were worth picking up for my baking activities.

Aldi also had some of that lemonade in those flip-top bottles that I like for when I make ginger beer. It’s bizarre really. The empty bottles cost €1:95 each and yet if you buy them filled with lemonade the complete outfit, both bottle and pop, comes to €1:60.

That’s something that I’m still trying to work out.

Back here I could only bring up half of the stuff but not to worry. I’d bought 2kg of carrots so I washed, diced and blanched them and when they were cooled down and dried off, I bagged them and put them in the freezer.

It should have been hot chocolate time but instead I had a coffee and went to bring up the rest of the shopping. Then I came in here and transcribed the dictaphone notes. Someone was planning on coming round to see me so I began to tidy up the apartment. I’d nearly finished doing what I wanted to do when I heard a doorbell ring. It wasn’t mine though but somewhere else in the building. They weren’t ringing mine so I made sure that it wasn’t them by waiting for another minute in case the bell on my door rang. When it didn’t I went back into the living room and began to read a book of short stories co-written by Elizabeth Barrett Browning while I waited for my visitor to put in an appearance. And I’m impressed that I could recall her name when I’m alseep

Then there’s an old type of claw-foot bath in this apartment somewhere. Someone goes for his shower by standing in the bath but there are no shower curtains so the water goes everywhere and soaks the OSB wooden floor and begins to make a mess of it. But the floor totally fails to match the rest of the apartment because it’s something very contemporary, modern and clean rather than old-fashioned like the rest of the apartment. The question came up of what happens during the rain. Someone said that they had actually seem people outside in the rain weeding the path. That sounded like something ordinary people wouldn’t do so I wondered if this place was actually some kind of prison or reform school for boys rather than a place where you go to seek help etc.

After that there was a new department store opening in New York something like Bloomingdale’s. Some woman owned it. She’d been bothered by a couple of visitors who were hinting at all kinds of things. It came out that she had a rather disreputable past and they threatened to expose her if she didn’t pay them a lot of money. As well as involving the Police because they could only do certain things legitimately, we could do other things not quite so legitimately. I recruited a couple of friends to come along. We laid a trap. Someone else involved in this was a big friend of this woman refused to step down and wanted to be involved. We had to have a meeting to divide up the roles again. We set the trap to catch the blackmailers and caught them red-handed. It was really like something out of an Eliot Ness story, this dream and was extremely interesting.

Did I dictate this dream … “no you didn’t” – ed … about the guy who was involved in some kind of sport with girls of about 4 and 5 years old?. I can’t remember very much about the dream but he had all kinds of trophies on his wall.

Later on I awoke and found myself making a radio programme pairing off a couple of tracks and splicing them together as I normally would.

Finally I was in Stoke on Trent last night on a council estate something like Abbey Hulton. I was ferreting around in someone’s back garden looking for something when they happened to come out and saw me. He asked me what I was doing so I came out with some lame excuse that he accepted. He invited me in for some food so I went in for a chat. We talked about working hours. He had some neighbours in and we talked about it. I was saying that I went to the University 30 hours per week in the afternoon but worked at B&Q to earn some money and did 40 hours per week there. That was 70 hours per week and they considered that to be a lot. They invited me to stay the night so I did. I waited until everyone else had gone to sleep then I got up to go out of the house to the back garden to carry on with what I’d been doing when they discovered me. I was making far too much noise moving a waste paper bin around. They guy of the house hadn’t actually gone to bed. He was making himself a meal late at night. I was worried in case he’d come out and catch me again at what I was doing.

That’s not all that was going on during the night but you don’t really want to know about the rest, especially if you’re eating your tea. But it’s no surprised that I’m exhausted after all of that. But Stoke on Trent and no Zero? Whatever next?

For what was left of this afternoon I didn’t do very much at all. I was trying to track down a Canadian folk singer from the 1960s called Daisy Debolt who was a big friend of Giorgio Gomelski and Strawberry Studios in Stockport. I did find that unfortunately she died of cancer in 2011 but I did manage to track down a couple of albums that she recorded with her boyfriend at the time, Allan Fraser, who was a big pal of Joni Mitchell and Buffy St Marie.

She was actually quite an amazing person. She spent one summer living in a grass hut in Canada growing all her own food and was quite an inspiration to many people.

Tea tonight was falafel and chips done to perfection in the air fryer with a lovely salad and I enjoyed every morsel of it. Tomorrow I’ll be having a burger on a bap with chips, I reckon.

But that’s tomorrow. I’ll have to nip down the road as well at some point for some mushrooms – the ones in Lidl looked awful and I forgot to buy some from LeClerc. Right now though I’m exhausted and I’m going to bed. I shan’t be doing much this weekend as I need to recover after all of the excitement.

It’s quite true to say that this week has taken a lot out of me and I’m far from being well. I’m not expecting too much to come from this hospital treatment that I’ve had and maybe the effort that I’m putting in is outweighing the effect of the treatment that I’m having. I’m not enjoying these needles one little bit.

But I’m relieved that they are taking it seriously and making an effort, which is more than you can say about some people. Let’s see what the next few weeks will bring me.