Tag Archives: Hannah

Thursday 28th July 2022 – THIS WAS ANOTHER …

hang gliders place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022… candidate for one of the worst days that I’ve had for quite a while.

Most of it has been spent asleep on my chair in the bedroom and that is extremely depressing.

So while you admire a few photos of the aerial activity that was taking place this afternoon while I was out and about on my travels I’ll tell you all about it, not that you want to hear it.

Anyway, last night I went to bed rather later than I intended, although not as late as it might have been.

55qj aeroplane pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022But it was quite a lively night yet again and I was travelling about for quite a distance.

There was something happening last night. Someone had copy/pasted his signature into a document but the copy/paste had included a lot of inappropriate stuff. This had caused all kinds of problems for him with him copy/pasting instead of cropping what he had copy/pasted

And I was asking my self if I had I dictated about one daughter of my niece being upset about something? I dunno … “no you hadn’t” – ed. I was trying to talk to her and she went off to sit somewhere on a bench so I went over there to sit not too close to her to give her some room but not too far away. She said something but I can’t remember what it was, an ambiguous comment that could have meant “move up closer” or “move further away” and I couldn’t work out which was the meaning of this comment that she had said to me. I was at a loss to understand it.

yellow powered hang glider pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022A little later I was in a Welsh class. We’d come back after the holidays. We were a full class and I was sitting next to the boy next to whom I usually sit. We talked about what we’d done. The guy behind us talked about what he had done too so I rang up one or two other people who were in the class and was talking to them about their holidays. The teacher started to walk down the aisle handing out papers so I cut off the conversations. Some boy sitting in the aisle next to me started to play some Santana and put his music player on my desk. He asked “how do you fancy a bit of Santana?”. Much as I would have a bit of Santana any time, that wasn’t the time or place so I told him “not now” but he wouldn’t listen. He kept turning this Santana music. He was clearly irritating the prof, it was irritating me and irritating most of the other people around us too. We didn’t want that at that particular moment.

We’d been on the office outing somewhere. We’d been to a town somewhere in Europe. We’d arrived and we were all on board the bus. It was raining quite heavily so they decided that they would abandon the walking tour. Some woman was there with a young daughter and I was quite interested in the daughter. Everyone was asking what they were going to do etc so I said to this woman “when they drop us off we can go for a coffee” as an excuse to talk to the daughter. That seemed to be like a very good idea. She seemed to like that idea. We had to fetch our things and meet back on the bus in a couple of minutes. I wandered off back to my room to get my things together and walk back to where I thought that we’d pick up the bus but it wasn’t there. I was wondering what on earth had happened to it so I had a wander around. I overheard these 2 people talking, talking about the group. One of them had been on “Eric’s group and I’m sure that we’d had more goes than we were supposed to”. That rang a bell with me about something that we’d done. I walked round the corner and it was 2 people from our party. I asked them if they knew where we were meeting the bus. They thought that it was here but I thought that it was somewhere else. I thought that it might be a good idea to go down to this other place to have a look as it wasn’t far away but they didn’t seem to be interested in leaving so I thought that maybe I’d go on my own and leave them there because if they were there they would hold the bus for me if it were to come for me and I wasn’t there and give me chance to return to catch it.

A little later Percy Penguin made a brief appearance in a German class that I was teaching. I was trying to have my students say the diphthong “HK” correctly. She was there in this class having a practice and not getting it right.

Once more it was a struggle to leave the bed before the second alarm went off but I managed it nevertheless (only just) and then I came in here to transcribe my dictaphone notes.

Round about 10:00 I fell asleep and apart from a few moments of wakefulness here and there, that was that until about 15:30. Somehow I’d managed to fit in my breakfast and my lunchtime fruit but I’m not sure how.

Before going out for my afternoon walk I had a shower to clean myself up. I weighmed myself too and the weight that I’d been slowly losing over the last couple of weeks has gone back on. That has probably depressed me more than falling asleep.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022Anyway, after the shower I went out for my afternoon walk around the headland.

And dodging the Nazguls that were flying by overhead I went over to the wall at the end of the headland to look down on the beach to see what was happening.

There ween’t all that many people down there this afternoon but of those who were there, there were quite a few of them in the water.

Further on down the coast a little way there were plenty of people in the water down there, but access to the beach down there at the Plat Gousset is so much easier.

fishing boat baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022As well as the aeroplanes and so on, there were one or two boats out at sea this afternoon.

There was one of the shell-fishing boats on its way back to port from out at the Ile de Chausey. It’s far too far away for me to identify it from here but her colours and the dinghy that she is towing reminds me very much of Les Bouchots de Chausey.

With the wind that was blowing there was quite a bit of dust about this afternoon. This drought is starting to become serious. It’ s making the place look like 1930s Oklahoma right now and it’s not going to improve until we have some rain.

Although when that might be I have no idea.

fisherman pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022Down at the end of the headland I crossed the car park and went down to see what was happening on the rocks.

We had a couple of fishermen out there with rod and line this afternoon. They seemed to be enjoyng themselves except, of course, that they weren’t actually catching anything.

Not that I expected that they would.

No-one sitting on the bench down by the cabanon vauban either. They seem to be having a day off today. So I wandered off around the corner and down the path on the other side of the headland.

fishing boat la confiance 2 chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022Down at the port we have a change in occupancy in the chantier naval.

La Confiance II is still in there, and there was someone doing some arc-welding on it as I went past this afternoon. And she’s now been joined by one of the little shell-fishing boats.

Unfortunately I can’t see her registration number so I’m not able to tell you who she might be.

No-one over at the ferry terminal either. They must all be out at work today as well. There was even La Cancalaise, the sister ship to La Granvillaise, out at the Ile de Chausey with a party from Cancale.

ch922344 le roc a la mauve 3 ch640361 nais fish processing plant port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022We didn’t have any ships at the Fish Processing Plant playing “Musical Ships” but we did have some fishing boats over there unloading.

Two of them are regulars of ours and we have seen them many times. At the front of the queue is CH922344 who is of course Le Roc A La Mauve III who we saw in the chantier naval for quite a while earlier in the year, and behind her is CH640361 who is Nais.

The third one is a mystery though. Her registration number begins with “M” and that’s the registration code for Milford Haven in Wales, so I’m not likely to find her in my database of French fishing vessels. Nevertheless it’s quite a puzzle as to what she’s doing coming all the way here.

chausiaise baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022Just now I mentioned that there was no-one at the ferry terminal.

As I walked back to the apartment, around the corner behind me came Chausiaise. She’s rather early and I don’t think that there’s enough water for her to moor at the ferry terminal quite yet.

Back here I had a coffee and then spent a while having a play on the acoustic guitar. I’m enjoying myself much more on the acoustic than I have done for a while and I can actually play an F chord that sounds like an F chord.

In fact, I’m tending much more to play songs in the original key regardless of the chords rather than playing them in keys in which the chords are easier to play. Gone are the days were I’m stuck in A C D E and G and their derivatives.

Tea was steamed veg with veggie balls with vegan cheese sauce and it really was delicious.

So bedtime now. if I’m lucky I’ll be in bed early and have a good night’s sleep. Here’s hoping for a better day tomorrow. I can’t go on like this.

Thursday 3rd February 2022 – SOMETHING HAPPENED …

… last night that hasn’t happened for weeks and weeks, if not months and months.

and that was that I went to bed at something like a reasonable time, fell asleep quite quickly, and slept all the way through until the alarm went off without awakening once.

The sleep was so deep that I made an executive decision (and for the benefit of new readers, an executive decision is one that, if it’s the wrong decision, the person making it is executed) to switch off the alarms and go back to sleep.

It was just after 10:00 when I finally arose from the dead, hours later than intended, and it remains to be seen whether it’s done me any good. But I don’t care.

home made bread place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022Immediately after the medication, before I’d even checked my mails and messages, I set about making the bread.

500 grammes of wholewheat flour, some salt, several handfuls of sunflower seeds, yeast and water (I forgot the Vitamin C tablet), and it all went together perfectly. In fact, the dough felt like the best that I’ve ever made.

It rose quite well too and it was cooked to perfection after 75 minutes. It tasted quite good too, as I was to find out later. I’m quite happy with this;

Half of the loaf has gone into the freezer to keep it fresh for later.

While it was doing its stuff I was checking my mails and messages, and writing a message to someone. It was a very difficult message to write, for all kinds of reasons, but she did ask …

After lunch I worked on the missing radio interview, and that’s all done and dusted now. In fact they are all done because I re-edited a couple of previous ones that needed improving, and tomorrow I’m going to start assembling my programme.

It’s going to be a major “cut and paste” job with plenty of music in between. Hans in Germany wrote a song especially for the occasion, someone else sent me two of his songs, and I’ll be cutting bits out of them to use as appropriate. I’ve no idea how it’ll turn out but I’ll just be glad to have it finished and on its way.

Let’s see if I can do that before I go to Leuven next Wednesday.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022As you might expect, there was the usual afternoon break for my walk around the headland.

First stop though has to be the wall at the end of the car park to see what was going on down on the beach this afternoon.

Plenty of beach this afternoon, and quite a few people down there for a walk too. There are four people in this photo but altogether I counted at least a dozen or so and there were probably more too.

Not so many up here on the path though. I was pretty much on my own.

boat ile de chausey baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022As usual, I was casting my other eye out to sea at the same time as I was looking down on the beach.

Surprisingly, after yesterday, there weren’t any fishing boats out at sea that I could see, but there was something out just off the Ile de Chausey on the right-hand edge of this rather murky photo.

Out of interest, I took a photo of it and tried to enhance it to see whom it might be, but to no avail. She has a similar kind of silhouette to La Grande Ancre but I don’t think that it’s she.

sunset baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022Out at the end of the headland we were having yet another glorious sunset.

This time of the year is well-known for these, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall because I have said so in the past … “and on many occasions too” – ed.

While the Brittany coast was shrouded in a rainstorm that was stretching all the way down the bay, there was a touch of blue sky here.

And that was all there was of it. The rest of the sky was quite grey and miserable.

peche a pied pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022There wasn’t anyone sitting down on the bench by the cabanon vauban this afternoon.

No surprise because the whole of the town was out on the beach this afternoon engaged in the peche à pied – “fishing on foot”.

For the benefit of the recent readers of this rubbish, the area of the shore between high and low tide is let out to commercial fishermen who exploit the shellfish that might be found.

However, we have probably the widest tidal range in Europe here and several times per year, the water level drops below the level that is commercially exploited. On those days, subject to a few conditions, the area below the low water line, when it’s exposed by a very low tide, is a free-for-all where anyone at all might harvest whatever they might find.

Including human feet and unexploded munitions too, of which there have been more than just a few.

sparrowhawk pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022There might not have been many people wandering around on the path or sitting down on the bench below but I did have some company up here this afternoon.

We haven’t seen our friendly neighbourhood bird of prey for quite a while but here he is this afternoon.

He’s usually to be found on the other side of the headland where there’s a colony of rabbits, but I don’t know what there is that might be of interest to him down here.

In fact he didn’t swoop down to investigate anything in all of the time that I was watching him so it must have been rather slim pickings today. He’ll probably be back on the other side tomorrow if he has no luck here.

le tiberiade chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022A little farther on along the path I noticed some more activity in the chantier naval this afternoon.

Yesterday we saw Coelacanthe in an unusual position at the quayside, moored stern-on, but today all of the excitement centres around her little sister Tiberiade.

She’s made her way into the chantier naval for some kind of attention, to join up with Le Roc A La Mauve III who is sill over out of shot on her blocks near the portable boat lift.

And if you want to tell Coelacanthe and Tiberiade apart when they aren’t side by side (the latter is smaller), then Coelacanthe has wings on the railings at the side of the bridge whereas Tiberiade has open railings.

pollarding crew rue des juifs Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022Yesterday we saw the pollarding crews out in the town by the Place Pelley working on the trees down there.

By the looks of things this afternoon they are working their way up the Rue des Juifs. They are at one of the viewpoints overlooking the inner harbour where there’s a good view, a comfy bench (which, inexplicably, faces the street and not the port) and more importantly, a handful of trees.

It looks as if it’s their turn to have having the treatment this afternoon. Tomorrow, I suppose, they’ll be finishing off down there. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that they did the trees in the Boulevard Vaufleury a few weeks ago.

freight on quayside port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022While I was here I had a quick look down into the inner harbour to see how things are developing.

There’s another pile of freight that’s appeared on the quayside since we last looked. And that reminds me – we haven’t seen Thora, one of the three little Jersey freighters, in port for a while. I know that the two others were in St Malo this morning but they have gone back to Jersey.

Perhaps we’re going to be having a flying visit sometime soon, or else Chausiaise, currently tied up with her sisters in the inner harbour, might fancy another run out to stretch her legs. It will be interesting indeed if she has decided to pick up the cudgel.

cherry picker place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … apartment, it looks as if we are in for interesting times too.

Right underneath my dining-room window someone has parked a cherry-picker. It looks as if there is going to be some work done around here somewhere at some time in the near future.

They used something like this when they patched up the flashing around the skylights at the front a while back. I wonder if they are going to be starting work on the skylights at the rear, or is it for something else?

Back here I had a coffee and finished off the radio stuff that I’d been doing. Then I had a listen to the dictaphone.

Last night there was a group of us with a couple of American tanks that we’d disguised and painted to be like German small tanks. We were in German uniforms, behind German lines during the German retreat across Europe. We’d been continually held up, which was not part of our plan because it wouldn’t be long before someone recognised what we had. At one point we had to wait around for a while and then we were waved on and ended up in a queue to cross a large river. One of our party wandered off and found a place where he could have some ice-cream. he was sitting there eating it when a large party of Germans turned up. he immediately suspected that these Germans would recognise the tank and arrest everyone who was with it. He decided that he would keep a very low profile with his ice-cream while the events unfolded between these 2 groups of people

And later there was me and my brother (again!) and several other kids. We were playing around at some kind of thing and we ended up, 4 of us, me, my brother and 2 girls, one younger than the other, spending most of our time playing badminton. The other kids weren’t interested at all in it. It was all taking place in some kind of garage. The 4 of us were reasonably clean although we had a few marks on us where we had touched oily things. We gradually split up into 2 camps, the 4 of us badminton players and the others. We wrote a kind-of poem about what we were doing and that was when we discovered the names of these 2 girls (I can’t remember them now). I was sitting down somewhere in this room and I made a gesture to the older of these 2 girls if she wanted to go to play badminton. One of the other kids saw me make this gesture and pulled a face and didn’t seem very keen at all, but it wasn’t anything to do with them. The other girl said “yes, ok” so I picked up my racket, she picked up hers. I asked “where’s your sister?” – I imagined that they were sisters. She replied “she’s gone off to play with your brother somewhere”.

Tea tonight was a handful of those small breaded quorn fillets with veg and potatoes, and that made enough room to put the half of a loaf into the freezer. It’s really cramped in there with no more room to put anything at all.

At the moment I’m resisting the temptation to sort through it all because it’s so well-packed that if I disturb it, I won’t be able to fit everything back in and then I’ll have some real problems. But I’m sure that there are tons of stuff that need eating that have been in there for ages.

Having had my hot chocolate, I’m off to bed, hoping for as good a sleep as I had last night. Not much chance of that, I know, but we can all live in hope.

And then to see what happens tomorrow about this series of radio programmes. Won’t I be glad to see it gone?

Sunday 7th November 2021 – IF YOU THINK …

… that going to bed at 23:40 and staying there until 11:15 means that I’ve had a really good night’s sleep, then a look at the times of the files on the dictaphone will tell you a completely different story.

Until about 04:25 it seemed to be quite a peaceful night, and then it all went wrong from then on. I started off last night somewhere in Asia climbing up into the Himalayas. I came across a tribe or ethnic group high up who were very secretive. I went into their village. They were admitting other people of Asian Burmese or whatever descent from another ethnic tribe. Gradually I managed to slip away and carry on climbing up the mountain. I came into a kind of shop, a bazaar or something or other. They were very interested to see me and kept on telling me to climb higher up. In the end I was climbing up these stairs into some kind of claustrophobic attic with this guy wondering what on earth would happen next because I have a horror of confined spaces and this attic looked quite confined to me. They started to show me all products that they had that they wanted to get a foothold into the French market. They had a house somewhere and a warehouse, and access to a ship. I interviewed them all about their ship to make sure that it fulfilled all the required regulations and so on. From there they showed me all their products and were talking about sheep. He showed me a boat that was no more than a small yacht and asked if he could get 1500 – he said “muttons” – on there. I replied “you probably wouldn’t get more than 100 on that one”. He said that they had 1500 sheep, or “muttons” as he put it, in Canada and could bring them over. I knew someone in a slaughterhouse buying sheep in at £12 or €14 per head and that didn’t include the fleece. We had a lengthy discussion about this. Then they paired me up with this young girl who was going to be my contact with the tribe. We had a pile of things so we went back to my house, this girl and I. There were other people, my brother and so on, in there searching around for something and also the police searching around for something. I beckoned my brother over and told him and his friends that they would have to leave for 10 minutes. One policeman said “you want to be alone with this girl, don’t you?” I replied “I’m not going to be alone am I, because you’re here”. This girl started to become very nervous and wanted to leave as well but I hung on to her and brought her back into the bedroom. I started to unwrap one or two of these parcels that I’d brought back with me from the bazaar in this country high up in the Himalayas.

A little later I’d gone to see Morton play at East Fife, one of the one-sided wonder stadiums. It ended up that I met this girl again who I’d met earlier this evening. We started on about going back to my place again, everything but I can’t remember how this carried on from here. It was pretty similar to the one just now.

Later still, David Lloyd George was there later on with his wife Georgina and I was still there with this Burmese girl. Everyone’s eyebrows were raised about this, the fact that I was with him and also with this pretty young girl

There was also a little later on some documentation that needs certifying from Burma here. I put it with the others.

Later on I was at Rachel’s. Most people were there. We were having a meal and then all sitting around and talking. They were talking about someone who had just come up from Boston for half a day just to bring them a wedding present or present for their honeymoon. I said to Rachel “I’ve always admired you capacity for money-making” and she replied “I got it off you”. We carried on talking. I was still dealing with this thing about this Burmese girl when Hannah came in. She had some pullovers on but they needed washing, she said. I said that I’d do it but it was only the body because she’d rolled up the sleeves so they weren’t dirty. I asked if she had anything else. She replied “no, it’s fine” so I went to wash it. I then sat down on a chair and just out of my eyeshot just around the corner a girl sat down. I knew who she was but I can’t remember now. I was trying desperately hard not to fall asleep and desperately hard to pretend not to notice her because I was hoping that she’d come over and chat to me. There was a woman there talking about what we’d been up to today and a few things that I’d done. I was waiting for it to be dropped into the conversation that I was here but for some unknown reason she didn’t. I was really trying to fight so hard to stop falling asleep.

And how many times now is it that I’ve awoken and gone back to sleep into this dream about being in Burma or with this Burmese girl? I’ve slipped back into dreams where I’ve left off on a couple of occasions but usually only once. But this is five times. So what’s going on here?

We haven’t finished out voyages yet either. I’d gone round to say goodbye to Nerina as I was going back to France. She was living in Wistaston but I missed the turning and ended up somewhere else. I had to find a road map to help me find my way. I didn’t stay long. She expressed surprise that I had French number-plates on Caliburn – thinking that living in France I’d have English number-plates on him. She expressed surprise about the train that I was driving. That had French number-plates on it as well. She asked about it and I told her that it was an HST. As I went to leave, the train set off and left one motor carriage behind. I had to get in the motor carriage and chase after my train. it was going all the way up the hill through this shopping arcade. I eventually caught up with it as it went into the toilets. I remember something about when people see a train going up through a shopping centre there’s obviously something wrong happening somewhere.

There was also something about me being in the swimming baths and a cinema but I can’t remember very much about that except that there were a couple of girls there so i was making sure that I was swimming near them because they looked quite nice and interesting. There was yet more stuff too that slipped my mind as soon as I awoke, as well as some other stuff that you wouldn’t thank me for reading if you are eating your meal.

As it happens, I’ve never been to Burma (in fact I’ve never been further east than a little way beyond Moscow back in the early 80s) but I did once have a strange encounter with a Burmese girl called Warwar Soe about 20 years ago when I had the Opel Omega.

She sent me an e-mail right out of nothing to say “I’ve arrived in Belgium but I have no papers and I’m a clandestine. Can you help me?”

How come she had my information and how she thought that I could help her I really had no idea but naturally my curiosity got the better of me so I arranged to meet her. However her immaculate hair-do and tailored jeans and jacket made me smell a rather oversize rat and so I was intrigued to find out what her game was.

We met a couple of times subsequently because at the very least there might be a possibility of some indoor alligator-wrestling at some point in the proceedings and she was quite an attractive girl, but it gradually petered out and nothing ever came of it.

She did ring me back after about 6 months to say “I actually did have some papers” and that intrigued me even more but I was never able to find out any further information, to my regret.

Anyway, I digress … “as usual” – ed. After I had my medication (and how far is all of that from any indoor alligator-wrestling?) I came and checked my mails and messages and then paired off all of the music for the radio programme that I’ll be preparing (with a bit of luck) tomorrow.

That all took me nicely up to lunch.

After lunch I pressed on with the arrears of the journal from my time at Leuven and there are two further pages, SATURDAY’S and SUNDAY’S.

And Sunday’s was rather an unfortunate one because it touched rather a nerve with me.

Once more I have run out of Pizza dough so I had to make some more as well, and that turned out to be a very good batch. I think that I’ve got the hang of all of this now.

hang glider place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021By the time that I’d finished the dough it was time to go walkies.

And no sooner had I set foot outside the building before the shadow if the cold hand of doom fell upon me.

Actually it was another Nazgul going by overhead. There was some reasonable wind and that seemed to bring them out in force this afternoon. There were plenty of others that I could have photographed.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021Once he’d flown off elsewhere I could go over to the wall at the end of the car park to see what was happening down on the beach.

And this afternoon there was plenty of beach for it all to be happening upon because the tide was well out right now.

The sunny weather today had brought out the crowds and they were thronging down there in their masses, some even brave enough to go for a paddle in the water.

Over here we were in the shade but across the bay near St Martin they were having glorious sunshine.

people on beach place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021It wasn’t just down there on the beach at the Rue du Nord where the crowds had gathered.

There were plenty of people who had walked further along by the Place d’Armes. You don’t usually see many people this far along because there is no way back up the cliffs except by the steps at the Rue du Nord, but they don’t need to worry about the tide just yet.

And neither did I. I could travel along the path up here and only had the crowds of people to worry about.

hang glider brought down to earth pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021Other people had more to worry about than I did, though

Something or other, probably a sudden change in direction of a gust of wind, had brought down a Nazgul and its passengers. Either that or Legolas hiding in the bushes had had another lucky shot with his bow and arrow.

This time I was quick enough to seize the advantage in this situation. I went over to them for a chat and now I know where I need to go and to whom I need to speak in order to go for a lap around the headland on board a Nazgul.

hang glider taking off pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021While I walked away down to the end of the headland our gallant bird-man of Alcatraz and his passenger were busy untangling their Nazgul.

When they were finally ready and the wind was blowing in the correct direction they took to the air, cheered on by a crowds of enthusiastic watchers, and disappeared off into the sky.

My route continued down along the path and across the car park towards the end of the headland.

35ma light aeroplance pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021At this point I was overflown by an aeroplane heading off into the sunset.

It’s our old friend 35MA having taken off from the airfield near Donville les Bains. But there’s no point my trying to tell you where it’s going because it hasn’t filed a flight plan, it’s not picked up on radar and its registration number isn’t in the database to which I have access.

There was nothing whatever going on in the bay this afternoon, presumably because the tide is well out so all of the port gates are closed so nothing can leave or arrive.

portable boat lift chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021From the end of the headland my walk took me down the path along the top of the cliffs towards the port.

Nothing going on in the chantier naval of course because the portable boat lift is out of action. And it does look sad standing there in the middle of the yard without its wheels.

Here’s hoping that they fix whatever is wrong with it quite quickly and the chantier naval is back in action soon.

There wasn’t anything happening at the ferry terminal either. Everything is either out at sea or tied up in the inner harbour.

l'omerta fish processing plant port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021But L’Omerta is there in her habitual place, settled in the silt at the side of the fish processing plant.

She seems to be living there now, when she isn’t in the chantier naval. And that’s a mystery as to why she isn’t tied up in the inner harbour like everyone else.

Back at the apartment the pizza dough had risen nicely so I split it into three portions, oiled a couple and put them in the freezer. The third I left for a moment because the ‘phone started to ring.

Rosemary was on the line wanting a chat so we had a good discussion and then I had to go and deal with the pizza, roll out the dough and put it in the tray to rise ready for tea.

While the pizza was rising I was transcribing dictaphone notes for the next few days. I have to catch up before I go to Leuven in 10 or so days time so I’m going to be pretty rushed.

vegan pizza place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021Later on I assembled the pizza and put it in the oven to bake. And when it was finished it lookd really delicious.

Furthermore, it tasted just as good as it looked as well. One of my more successful efforts although I do with that the underneath would cook as well as the top. I can’t lower the rack in the oven any more than it is.

So now that’s eaten, the washing up is done and the journal entry is written, I’m off to bed. It’s an early start and a long day tomorrow dealing with the radio programme and going to the physiotherapy.

With all of that going on, I need to be at my best.

Monday 9th August 2021 – THERE HAS BEEN …

trawler charlevy chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall… yet more excitement in the chantier naval today.

When I walked past there this afternoon I discovered that the yacht Rebelle has once more gone back into the water today. But for how long, who knows? We might be seeing it back again quite soon if past history is anything to go by.

Also missing today is the trawler Monaco du Nord II. Her repaint and renovation job seems to be finished.

All that remains today is the trawler Charlevy and the two others whose names I have yet to discover.

joly france ferry terminal port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallMeanwhile, over at the ferry terminal is one of the Joly France boats – the older one without the step in the stern and with the windows in landscape format.

It may well be that she’ll be going out to the Ile de Chausey when the tide comes back in, even if the tide doesn’t come back in until later this evening, unless she’s there in preparation for an early start tomorrow.

Despite the weather not being exactly summer-like, there are still holidaymakers who need to be ferried out to the island and back. And it’s really sad that the weather isn’t what they would have been wanting after all of the events of the last 18 months.

And the sleep that I had last night wasn’t quite what I was wanting. Despite my early night and feeling as tired as I was, I couldn’t get off to sleep for ages and when I finally did, it was one of those sleeps that was rather intermittent.

And one thing that I noticed that I had to leave my bed in the middle of the night, something that I’ve now done for a few times just recently after going without for a couple of years.

There’s a pile of stuff on the dictaphone too. It was 21st birthday party of one of my niece’s daughters and a late 16th birthday party for another. They had waited until Covid was over and were having this celebration. There were some kids next door who were having a party and the parties somehow intermingled. At some point there was a fire and the fire brigade were called. The police came and arrested me and took me off. Some woman policewoman started to question me about the party – what was I doing allowing this and that to happen? I replied “hang on – what’s this got to do with me? I’ve only just turned up from Europe. I have no idea of what was happening at this do. I wasn’t in charge of it or anything like that. Why isn’t my sister here? Why isn’t her husband here? If anyone was in charge of it, they were more than anyone else because they live there and they were their kids”. After this went on for a couple of minutes I said “I’ll tell you exactly whose party it was. It was my niece’s daughter’s party. She’s 21, she’s an adult. Why isn’t she here?”. The policewoman looked at me, thought for a minute and said “get out of here”.

I was having camera issues and things weren’t going very well. Suddenly a box turned up and I opened it. It was 3 cameras, one of which I’d ordered but the other 2 were 2 that I’d looked at and decided that I didn’t want. It seemed that Amazon had sent me the 3. Liz then asked “is that the one that I got you?”. It turned out that Liz had bought me one as well and someone else had bought me one. I thought “that’s really nice of my friends, isn’t it?”. They were all going out and I was having to stay behind. They were getting ready to go but there were all kinds of things – it was like being in an office. Instead of closing at 17:00 it was open until all times of hours. There were people coming and going, all that kind of thing. A friend of mine (and I’ve no idea who she was) with 2 daughters, she’d gone of to take her kids to ballet class but she didn’t have time to come back. She came back with the older daughter who was about 8. We’d had a chat and a hug. We were just about to go off and get the other car when the other girl appeared from her ballet class and asked “where are the others going?”. I replied “they are going away home and leaving you behind”. “No they aren’t” she retorted “No” I said “they are going to get the car and bring it round here so you can go”.

There was more than this too but as you are probably eating your meal right now I’ll spare you the gory details.

What had occupied my time this morning was the radio programme that needed to be prepared. Yesterday I’d paired the music so I had to do the rest this morning.

And much to my surprise it was all done and dusted by 11:20, which is a new record, and I could even have finished earlier than that had I not forgotten to deduct the 35 seconds of speech from the time left over at the end of the programme.

As a result the final track was 35 seconds too long and I had to spend some time editing out a pile of speech to make the final track fit.

There was the usual break for breakfast, and my fruit loaf, the one that I made yesterday, is delicious.

When the radio programme was finished and while I was listening to it to make sure that it’s OK, I wrote up the notes from yesterday and posted them on line

After lunch I sat down to work on the journal entry from 31st JULY from when I went out socialising, and the excitement that I had on the way home. Unfortunately I … err … closed my eyes for a while, even though I had a full mug of hot coffee by my side.

Cold coffee doesn’t really taste the same.

Coming round from my reverie took longer than usual and it led to rather a late afternoon walk.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallDown to the wall at the end of the car park to look at what was happening down on the beach.

And today, not only were there people sunbathing, there were a few actually in the water enjoying themselves, although I can’t see how anyone could possibly be enjoying themselves in any kind of water at a temperature less than 37°C.

Mind you, today there was hardly a breath of wind and it was fairly warm. I’d even gone out without a jacket or pullover, for the first time since I can’t remember when.

man fishing place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOne thing that we haven’t seen for quite a while has been any fishermen.

Today, there was one of them standing on the rocks down at the end of the beach at the Place d’Armes. Of course, as you might expect, he never actually caught anything while I was watching, but then that’s par for the course.

And for a change, there wasn’t anyone in a boat fishing just offshore. Usually you don’t have the one without the other but we haven’t seen any seaborne fishermen with rod and line for quite a while.

fishing boats ile de chausey baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOn the other hand, there is plenty of evidence of seaborne commercial fisherman.

My roving eye out at sea had picked up some kind of activity going on round by where we spent the night in the Spirit of Conrad last year. It looks as if it’s one of the inshore shell-fishing boats.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that there are some shellfish beds out there and I suppose that the boat is engaged in harvesting the fruits of the sea.

There are some bouchot beds out there too and I suppose that the quality of the harvest from there would be beautiful seeing as there’s almost no human interaction over there.

condor voyager boat english channel ile de chausey Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut there was something else going on even further out behind the Ile de Chausey in the English Channel, something that looked rather like a large boat.

Although I couldn’t see it clearly, I took a photo of it with the aim of blowing it up (the image, not the object) and enhancing it to see if I can find a clue as to her identity.

Having done that and enhanced the image sufficiently, I noticed that her silhouette resembles one of the Condor high-speed ferries that works the round trip between Poole, the Channel Islands and St Malo.

This photo was taken at 16:33 (remember, the camera is set to standard, not Summer time) and I noticed from the radar that at 16:53 the high-speed ferry Condor Voyager pulled into the harbour at St Malo

yacht fishing boat rainstorm brittany Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOver the fast few days we’ve seen storm and rain clouds gathering across the bay along the Brittany coast.

Today, there’s yet another rainstorm descending onto the sea just offshore over there. There ware a couple of boats, one a yacht and the other one that looks as if it might be a small fishing boat, that look as if they are about to be engulfed.

There are several small beaches over there that are quite popular with holidaymakers and they must be having something of a torrid time with the weather over the last few days.

chausiaise ferry terminal port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAround the path on top of the cliffs to the viewpoint overlooking the port where I could look down onto the chantier naval and the ferry terminal.

Earlier on in this journal I posted a photo of Joly France settled down in the silt over by the ferry terminal, and here in front of here is Chausiaise, the freight barge who has moved from her mooring in the inner harbour where we saw her yesterday.

That would seem to indicate that she too is either about to go or has just been out on a run with freight over to the Ile de Chausey. The service is still continuing despite the depressing summer so far.

boat building material port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallYesterday, we saw a shrink-wrapped boat on the quayside waiting for transport out to the Channel Islands.

The boat has now been joined by a pile of building material so we can assume that there will be a freighter coming into the harbour imminently.

And if we look to the side, we’ll see that Marité has gone off for a sail today. We’ve not seen her out there at sea but I can tell you that she left port this morning at 08:06 and apparently she came back on the evening tide.

police interviewing motorcyclist car park boulevard vaufleury Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThat isn’t everything either.

There’s an issue, just as there is everywhere, of kids on motorbikes running around with little respect to the rule of law (and just in case anyone wonders, I was a young tearaway on a motorbike too in my youth) but here in the car park at the Boulevard Vaufleury, a couple of the local police force are giving one of the motorcyclists the third degree.

They are checking his papers, under the scrutiny of that woman over there who seems to be expressing a keen interest in whatever is going on.

apple crumble place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBack at the apartment I finished off the outstanding journal entry and then went off to prepare a dessert for this week.

The choice fell on an apple crumble, and this is one of the best that I have ever made. You can see that I’ve already taken a helping out of it. That went down really well after my vegan pie and vegetables for tea.

But now that everything is done, i’m off to bed. Another early night and I hope that I have a better one that I did last night. I’ve been feeling a little better today and I hope that it keeps up. Tomorrow I have a Welsh lesson and I need to be on form.

Sunday 9th May 2021 – IT REALLY SEEMS …

yachts kayaks baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall… as if the warm weather has arrived this weekend, and it brought out the people in their hordes.

You can see a fleet of kayaks at the bottom of the photo and the flotillas of yachts out there by the Ile de Chausey. That was just a small part of what was going on this afternoon.

What has happened is that, as you can see, there’s a really heavy, grey overcast sky with 10/10ths cloud and a reasonable amount of wind, but it wasn’t cold at all. In fact, it was rather warm, and that was what made me think that perhaps, at long last, we might be moving into summer after the coldest and windiest winter that I’ve ever had in Normandy.

waves on sea wall port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd although, as I said, there wasn’t as much wind today as there has been in the past, we are still having these heavy rolling seas sending the waves smashing into the sea wall.

But anyway, we’ll leave that for the moment. After my ridiculous lie-in yesterday, today’s lie-in was a much more reasonable and realistic 10:30. and after the medication, first thing that I did was to give the sourdough dough its second kneading and shaped it to put into its mould.

The second task was to make a load of normal dough made with regular yeast, 500 grammes-worth of flour with a pile of sunflower seeds and a vitamin C and magnesium tablet, mixed it all up and left it on one side to rise for a couple of hours.

After I’d had my porridge and toast for brunch, I started to knead the dough that I’d taken out earlier from the freezer, and put that on one side. I came back in here to start to listen to the dictaphone but I didn’t get very far before it was time for me to go out for my afternoon walk.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd as usual, the first thing to do was to go down to the wall at the end of the car park and look over the top down onto the beach below.

A little earlier I already mentioned the fact that the weather seems to be slowly improving. And that accounts for the fact that despite the high tide and the reduced amount of beach available, there were quite a few people wandering around down there making the most of the first really warm May Day.

And while I was watching, one of my neighbours turned up and parked her car, almost squidging me in the process. We had a little chat and then I pushed off on my travels along the footpath.

kayaks baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallWe’ve already seen a photo of the fleet of kayaks just offshore in the Baie de Granville.

Here they all are, having paddled all the way around from the Navigational and Sailing School round on the other side of the headland, so hats off to them. It can’t have been an easy trip in this sea.

It must have been really cold in there too because the water can’t have warmed up yet, but I hope that they haven’t lit any fires in their canoes. Because, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, you can’t have your kayak and heat it.

By now the hordes of people milling around, many without masks despite the Prefectorial Order for masks to be worn until the end of the month, were making life uncomfortable on the path.

yachts cabin cruiser baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd if you think that things were quite busy today out in the Baie de Granville on the north side of the headland, then it wasn’t any less hectic on the southern side of the headland in the Baie de Mont St Michel.

There were more kayakers out there, out of shot closer to the shore, but there were also plenty of yachts sailing around, accompanied by a cabin cruiser or two and the odd pleasure boat or so. I’d seen them at a distance as I was walking along the footpath so I crossed the car park down to the end of the headland for a closer look.

And talking of a closer look, you can see if you look closely down at the bottom left of the photo the nappe of silt that’s coming out of the harbour. We’ve seen a few good ones of those just recently, but usually going into the harbour as soon as the harbour gate is open.

waves on sea wall port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnother thing that I had seen while I was walking across the car park was the waves breaking on the sea wall of the outer harbour. So having watched the boats for a while out there in the bay, I walked down the path towards the harbour for a closer look.

There wasn’t a great deal of wind this afternoon but as I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … there can be a storm anywhere out there between the American mainland and here and it will roll in to the sea wall down there because there is no land mass or anything else in between to stop them.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we have seen much more powerful waves than this on occasion but this isn’t too bad at all considering how calm it is here for the moment.

kids climbing waves on sea wall port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallHaving taken a photo or two from my usual viewpoint I carried on walking down the path but stopped again because my eye had caught something going on down there that I hadn’t seen before.

There were some kids walking along the harbour wall and suddenly they started to climb down the ladder that leads down to the beach below. And I’ve no idea why they would choose to go down there. We’ve seen that ladder used by kids before but usually when they were climbing up them after having jumped into the sea at high tide from the sea wall.

With them not doing very much, with the ladder I carried on. There was no change of occupancy in the chantier navale today – just the little fishing boat in there now.

aeroplane 35ma pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhile I was walking around the top of the cliffs I was overflown yet again by another aeroplane that had probably taken off from the airport at Donville les Bains.

Once more, it’s an aeroplane that doesn’t carry a registration number within the series of numbers to which I have access so I can’t tell you too much about it. It’s not recorded at the airport at Donville les Bains as having filed a flight plan either.

So with nothing else going on I headed for home and my hot coffee, and then I had plenty of work to do because I was having a cook-in this afternoon. I’ve already mentioned the bread but there were other things that I had to do too.

On of the things that I was going to make as an extra for dessert for the coming week is some chocolate brownie cake. The idea is that I’ll have a try at making some chocolate sauce to go with it.

I made a nice vegan brownie mix and spread it out in a large tray and then stuck it in the oven. While it was baking, I kneaded the pizza dough again, rolled it out and put it in the pizza tray to rise again.

Before I’d started on the brownie mix I’d kneaded the bread dough that I had made earlier, shaped it and put it into the mould. And when the brownie mix was cooked (which took a lot longer than I expected) the normal bread and the sourdough loaf went into the oven.

While that lot was cooking I assembled the pizza and when the bread was cooked the pizza went into the oven to cook.

vegan pizza home made bread sourdough fruit bread chocolate brownie place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallHere are the finished products, all looking beautiful except the brownie mix. It was difficult to take out of the tray and when I cut it in half, spread the halves with jam and stuck them together in a sandwich, the top layer crumbled into about 6 pieces.

That was a disappointment but it’s happened every time I’ve made one. I wish I knew how to avoid it, but it won’t make a great deal of difference because it’s all going to be eaten anyway. It will taste delicious too, and I ought to know because there were plenty of bits left clinging to the baking dish and I had to sample them before I did the washing up.

The pizza was delicious too, and as for the bread and the sourdough fruit bread, I’ll tell you all about them tomorrow.

Eventually I caught up with the dictaphone note of my voyage during the night. I’ve already forgotten a load of this dream but there was a huge group of us and we were all kinds of ages. One of the girls was aged 8. It ended up with all of us being at some kind of museum and I ended up in a room with this girl, with her looking at all of the desks and seeing where they had come from because it was an office museum with some from Barclays Bank in Middlewich and one or two other places. I noticed that the floors had all been brought from various places too and had names inscribed on it “so-and-so from Crewe”, all of this. I looked around and couldn’t see this girl so I shouted her. She was in the adjacent storeroom washing her hands or something. I went in to see her and the floor was just the same there so I asked her about the floor in the other room – had she seen it? She said “yes” but we went back in the other room.

There were a few girls who were hanging around together and they used to come over to me for a chat and I knew them all quite well. One of them was going up to University. She’d bought herself a car, or her parents had bought her a car. They’d paid $3200 for it and she was really pleased with it. Then some issue came up with her best friend and we never really knew what they were. I’d heard a few rumours about this and that but I’d decided not to say anything because I didn’t want to be accused of stirring the pot any. One day this girl came up to me. We had a lengthy discussion with a couple of other people about bank accounts, how when you have money you have to be very careful how you spend it. Some people go mad when they have credit cards and buy loads of stuff that they don’t really need. She mentioned the name of the older sister of this friend who had this huge credit card debt and doesn’t know how to cope with it. As the conversation developed she started to talk about her best friend who had been up to 1 or 2 little tricks and “do you know what?” she said. “She’s written off my car and she’s had the nerve to offer her own car to my former boyfriend for $800 so she can get some money”. She was going on and on about this so I let her carry on and I had a little laugh because her mother was all prim and proper and “how is mother going to cope now with 2 daughters, 1 of whom is deep in debt and the other who has all these problems about this car?”. One thing led to another and I ended up round at this girl’s house. She was talking to her mother and turned to her mother to say “you’ll never guess who this is” and mentioned my name but it wasn’t my name – whatever name she used and she introduced me. She asked “what are you doing around here with my daughter?”. The daughter put her arm around me and said “actually mum, I don’t want to annoy you or anything but we are actually going out with each other”. Her mother had a little laugh and a smile about it and I don’t think … I dunno

Later still I was at work and I had the car and did the jobs that came up first in the morning then nipped out to see my niece’s daughter who was in Brussels. I spent a lot of time talking to her to such a point that I was worried about being late and they’d notice my absence at work so I went back. This went on for a period of a couple of weeks while she was here and it started to get later and later. One one occasion I was lying on a bed talking to a couple of girls and I actually started to fall asleep. I thought “this isn’t any good at all” so I had to get dressed. For some unknown reason I had my t-shirt off. It took me a while to work out which way round my t-shirt would go and I had to find my socks. I was talking to her about the insurance on Strider, how it has to be paid although I hadn’t driven it for so long and I still had to pay for it. I eventually got into my car and drove off, and had to go and fetch fuel. I stopped at the Jet petrol station. I had a machine in the back of my car that was from another garage where the petrol was so much cheaper. I could swap them over and have the fuel cheap. I was busy taking this out of the boot and programming it and one of my former colleagues turned up. he mumbled something about they needed something back at the office and he had to repeat it 3 or 4 times before I could get the message. It was some long planks that were being used to weigh down a pile of bricks. I said “ohh they want half a dozen of these back at the office”. he replied “God, yes, that would be a good idea” so I didn’t really have much of a clue about what we were talking about.

Somewhere in all of this, this mountain pass that figures quite frequently came up in that I was walking somewhere with someone and we had to go a reasonably long way. I pointed to the mountain and said “it’s the other side of that mountain”. She said “God it looks miles away”. I replied “no it’s not at all”. I explained to her the route that we would take and told her about the mountain pass and it’s fairly difficult but it’s OK if you keep your head and so on. But that’s appearing quite regularly in my voyages, this mountain pass, and I wonder why.

There was much more to all of this too but as you are probably eating your meal I’ll spare you the gory details.

So right now I’m off to bed ready for tomorrow. And a big “hello” to Geoff, someone from one of my other lives who has found his way here just recently. It’s good to catch up with old friends.

Thursday 12th November 2020 – I DIDN’T …

… beat the third alarm this morning either – no surprise there, is there?

Probably something to do with my very long day yesterday and the fact that after I’d finished my notes I was editing some photos from the High Arctic and chatting to a young lady friend of mine – she of the corona virus – until the small hours, giving her my moral support – although whether anything that I can do which involves young ladies can be classed as “moral” is a matter for conjecture.

07:30 it was when I raised my ugly head, and when I listened to what was on the dictaphone I wished that I hadn’t gone to sleep. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that occasionally I don’t publish some stuff that I do during my voyages because, believe me, I can have some pretty gruesome dreams at times, but last night was gruesome for a very different reason.

I was working for a Government department last night and was in Montreal – I’d been seconded to work in the office in Montreal. I was staying at a friend’s, someone who had actually found the position for me. I’d gone over there and she had a beautiful flat, a really nice one about 5 stops away on the Metro from where the tax office was. There were lots of people staying there too including my various nieces. It was a pretty crowded apartment with all these people staying in it. So I arrived there and stayed the night and next morning I had to get ready. I was getting ready but there was all kinds of strange stuff going on outside – a huge stampede of cattle in the streets leaping into the river and swimming across to get to the other side on the island, the side where we were. So we walked out to see what was going on. It was due to a food shortage and they were all going off to another Province to be slaughtered. I went back in and had to get dressed. I put some clothes on and then thought “where are the rest of my clothes?” My friend said that she’s tidied away my suitcase and it was stuck right away in a corner under a huge pile of stuff and I couldn’t get at it. I didn’t have a tie but a guy who was there said “your brother has left a few ties here. You’ll have to fill in a form to pay him and you can have this green tie”. So I bought this green tie and there was a long white scarf with it as well that was dragging on the floor. I rolled it up and put it somewhere. “Do you want that?” I replied “it’ll probably come in use for the winter”. I noticed that everyone else was dressed and said “ohh look we’re all in green this morning”. Zero was there and she burst out laughing and said “yes”. Off I set and turned up at the building which was a crummy kind of building in a run-down area. There were crowds of people willing around outside. A guy came over and there were about 4 of us. He gave us a bit of an introduction chat and said that we have to report through door 13B. At 10:00 prompt the doors opened to this office and it was like a huge stampede as thousands of people swarmed in, obviously trying to get a good ticket so they could be in there first. We were swept in in the rush but couldn’t find this doorway. We had a look and there were loads of doors but none was the door that we wanted. In the end one guy I was with, a very tall, very thin guy found like a slit in the wall. He said “go through here and see”. He slipped through this slit and said something like “this is it”. “How the hell am I supposed to get through there?” I asked. He might get through there but I certainly couldn’t. I didn’t think that anyone of any particular size would either. Where our other two people had gone I really didn’t know. I was now pondering about how I was going to get through this slit. If I started I would be wedged in with so many people around me that I wouldn’t be able to extricate myself. That was when I awoke in a sweat.

A little later there had been another instance of me trying to catch a bus. I was scrambling around at a roundabout with cobbles and it had been raining. All these people on motorbikes kept on colliding with each other and falling off. But this was before this particular bit. The only bus coming in was this red bus that wasn’t a local bus at all. I got on and said “take me to a metro station”. he replied “there isn’t one where we are going. I suppose we could drop you off somewhere where you could get another connection”

So later on we were back again in my friend’s apartment a while later. I’d stepped back into this dream where I’d stepped out. This time things were better-arranged and when I got up this morning I could find my clothes and get dressed. I realised that I had the wrong clothes on so I went to look for my clothes. I found dozens of dirty clothes and thought that I was going to have to do some washing now. I’d only been there a day. I got dressed and there was some good music going on. I said to my friend “you have some really good music here and good books”. She said “I’ll tell my son about that”. Presumably he had chosen them all. I started to put the food out but suddenly realised that I was putting out things like vegetables and gravy. That must have been stuff for the evening meal, not breakfast. In the end we all went out and got on the bus. There were 3 of us, me, Nerina and another guy. She sat next to this other guy and started to talk to him in this really friendly involved conversation about going to football matches and discussing her ex-boyfriends, whatever. All the time I was thinking “she ought to be sitting next to me discussing this kind of thing and I was getting extremely jealous. We pulled up at a roundabout and we all got off the bus. Nerina asked “you know which bus you’re getting on, don’t you?”. “No” I replied. She explained to me about the roundabout and said “as long as you get on a bus there and it goes any distance you’ll be fine”

But in connection with the bit about the motorbikes falling over I was telling my brother about my journey and told him a cock and bull story about how I took a taxi because I’d missed all the buses but the taxi could only take me so far and he threw me out at a roundabout where I could get a bus.

Things were certainly happening last night, and I’m reminded of the doctor in THE CANNONBALL RUN who said “I’d really like to probe his case”.

Having written out the dictaphone notes, I had a shower and a weigh-in. And I’ve now gone back over my higher target weight which is a shame. But one of the side effects that I have is “weight gain” and it seems pretty pointless me battling to keep the weight off if they give me all of this that puts it straight back on.

normandy trader port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallHaving had my shower, I set out for the shops, having forgotten to switch on the washing machine.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we saw Normandy Trader in port the other day, and then she disappeared again. But she’s back now doing another freight lift to and from the Channel Islands. Apparently she is really busy right now and there is “some talk” – although how serious it is, I don’t know – of buying a bigger ship.

There’s also the delivery of a new pleasure boat – the shrink-wrapped thing on the trailer behind the red and yellow lorry. It looks as if things are hotting up in the harbour.

replacing shop front rue paul poirier Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallConsidering that there’s a lockdown on, there are more people about than I would have imagined.

But certain shopkeepers are taking full advantage of the pause well enough. There’s a café there in the Rue Paul Poirier and it looks as if, while it’s closed under the lockdown procedures, that they are ripping out the old front and fitting a new one.

That’s good news if you ask me. It’s nice to see the town slowly being redeveloped as time and funds permit. All we need now are a few more commercial freighters in the port and we’ll be well away. It’s all very well talking about increasing the pleasure boat traffic but what’s the good of the town being packed to the gunwhales 2 months of the year and dead as a dodo for the remaining 10?

One of the reasons why I came here was because of how lively it is throughout the year.

At LIDL I didn’t buy all that I needed, for the simple reason that I couldn’t carry it. I had to buy an extra carrier bag while I was there for what I had already selected.

Pride of place though went to a set of stainless steel mesh sieves. The one that I use for straining my kefir etc is really too big and cumbersome to wield about.

eglise st paul Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOn the way home, I took a little detour.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that quite recently I’ve talked rather a lot about the Eglise St Paul. One of the things that I have mentioned is the sad state of the building and how bits are dropping off it rather too rapidly for comfort.

It seems to me that I did mention that there was a ban on walking around or parking near to it, so here’s a photo of the perimeter of the church all roped off and a warning sign “falling rocks” just to illustrate the point that I was making.

It’s a real shame that the building is crumbling away like this.

war memorial eglise st paul Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThe real reason why I’d come up here is because, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, we’d seen the War Memorial here from across the valley a while ago and I’d mentioned that one of these days we’d come to see it.

And sure enough, here we are. There’s no time like the present. And rather disappointingly, there is no mention of any casualties on the Memorial, just a note “To Our Glorious Dead”. I was hoping to see a list of names of local soldiers who had lost their lives.

But interestingly, it mentions “our matelots”. And that set me thinking because I don’t recall any naval engagement during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, the war to which this monument relates. I can see that I shall have to go off and do some more research.

So after struggling up the hill laden with shopping, I made myself some hot chocolate and a slice of my fruit bread I went to talk to my friend who was now back on line. And we had a lengthy chat that took me up to lunchtime and more of my delicious bread.

This afternoon, I remembered to switch on the washing machine and even with the racket that that was making, waltzing around in the bathroom I managed to fall asleep for half an hour or so. I realise now why I usually set it to go when I’m out at the shops.

Next task was to peel a kilo of carrots – I’d bought two kilos at the shops today because I was right out. So peeled and diced, I blanched them ready for freezing. And while the water was coming to the boil, I fed the sourdough. There’s now 400 grammes of that happily fermenting away (and I do mean fermenting too – it’s bubbling really well) and as I need just 200 grammes of starter for a 500 gramme sourdough loaf, I reckon that my next loaf will be a sourdough one, and see what damage I can do with that.

Somehow I also managed to find the time for amending the two missing journal entries, THURSDAY’S and FRIDAY’S to incorporate the missing bits. I was going to look for the details of that aeroplane that crashed near Leuven in 1944 and I will do that one day, for sure, but there was something else that I needed to do.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I have another friend stricken with Covid too, and I wanted to ask her how she was. And a quick 10-minute ‘phone call turned into a phone call of 1.5 hours.

People reading this will be thinking that maybe I begrudge the time that I spend talking on the ‘phone and on the computer because I’m always on about it, but it’s very far from the truth It interferes with my plans of course, but that’s what plans are for and I think very highly of my friends. I don’t have many friends but those I do have are the best friends in the world that anyone could have and I’ll speak to them any time of the day no matter where I am and what I’m supposed to be doing.

Except of course, to certain people to whom I’ve confided my innermost secrets only to find that they have become a subject of discussion in a certain Land Rover news group. No friendship can withstand that, but I digress.

trawler english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallMeanwhile, back at the ranch, what with one thing and another (and once you get started you’ll be surprised at how many other things there are) it was after 17:00 when I finally set out for my afternoon walk and by now the light has gone. So much for trying to keep a constant time in order to compare lighting situations.

As I stepped out of the apartment building I noticed a movement out to sea so I went to investigate.

And it looks as if we are having yet another trawler heading for home today too. Whatever else is happening, there’s still fishing to be done and they are out there hard at it.

But anyway, I pushed on with my walk around the headland to see what else was going on.

thora port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd the answer to that was “nothing at all”. I had to walk all the way round to the viewpoint overlooking the harbour before I noticed the next object of interest.

Normandy Trader has left port. That was a very brief visit – the turnround times are getting shorter and shorter. But in her place is Thora, the other little Channel Island freighter. She’s come in to do a quick sea lift from and to the Channel Islands.

These two seem to be hard at it without a moment’s rest and so it won’t surprise me if they do end up with a larger boat each before much longer.

Unless, that is, everyone is stocking up prior to Brexit (not that it will have too much of an effect on the Channel Islands) and it will all go very quiet afterwards.

trawlers baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAs I was watching Thora the trawler that I had seen out at sea was coming round the headland towards port.

And at that moment, another one was heading out to sea. So in anticipation of a mid-channel collision, I stayed and watched them for a while. However, there were no shipwrecks and nobody drowndin’, in fact nothing to laugh at at all. So I headed for home as the sun started to sink down towards the horizon.

My hour on the guitar was something of a disappointment because I went to play the Steve Harley song “Riding the Waves”. I’d worked out the chords to the chorus but I couldn’t find my piece of paper with the notes on. And when I finally did find the paper, it sounded all wrong again.

The reason why I like the song, apart from the fact that it reminds me of someone who I’ll talk about at some time in the future, there’s a rapid series of chord changes involving the “F” chord and I need to improve that.

And before anyone says that there’s no “F” chord in it, I play it in a different key to suit my voice. My singing isn’t that good.

Tea tonight was a stuffed pepper. While I was tidying up the food to put everything away, I came across one that was left over from the other week and it still appeared to be in good shape. So followed down by the last of the pineapple rings, it was delicious. Tomorrow I’ll have to take some frozen apple pie out of the freezer.

porte st jean Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallLater on, I went out for my evening walk and runs around the walls.

There was no-one around tonight so I broke into a run almost as soon as I left the building and ran all the way through the Porte St Jean to the viewpoint in the Rue du Nord. But I went back to take a photo of the gate nevertheless because it looked so nice, all illuminated now that they fixed the lights the other week.

Nothing at all going on out at sea – or, if there was, I couldn’t see it – so I ran on down the Rue du Nord to the steep incline that always beats me.

donville les bains Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallHaving recovered my breath, I ran down the footpath underneath the walls, being lured ever onwards by the lights of the promenade at Donville-les-Bains.

With no-one about yet again, I stopped to take a photograph of the night scenery out that way, and then having recovered my breath, ran on down the footpath to the viewpoint overlooking the Place Marechal Foch.

There was no-one about down there or on the Plat Gousset either, and no-one in the Square Marechal Foch either for that matter, so I could run all the way across there to the other side. Tonight I was really enjoying myself. It was a beautiful night – not too windy, fairly cold and rather crisp.

christmas lights rue lecampion Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallFurther on along the walls by the Eglise Notre Dame de Cap Lihou, I looked down to the Rue LeCampion and unless my eyes deceive me, they’ve put up the Christmas lights in the street.

That’s flaming early, I reckon. They must be planning something special right now. I don’t recall the lights being up this early before. Maybe it’s to take advantage of the fewer people wandering around in the streets during lockdown. It wouldn’t surprise me if it’s something to do with that.

Back here, I carried on writing up my notes. There were plenty to go at tonight. I’m hoping for an early start tomorrow because I’ve plenty to do. Carrots to dice and blanch of course, and then I ned to start to organise myself about my trip around Europe earlier this year.

It’s not going to get done by me simply thinking about it.

Monday 14th October 2019 – SOMETIMES IT’S VERY HARD …

… to say goodbye to people with whom one has been associated for so long, but today is the day that I hit the road, Jack (or Jacques, seeing that I’ll be heading towards Quebec).

4th September I arrived in New Brunswick and apart from 10 days or so clearing out my storage unit in Montreal and visiting family and friends in Ottawa I’ve been here ever since.

If I’m not careful I’ll be putting down roots next, and that will never do. I was born under a wandering star, as the old song went, and I’m destined to wander for the rest of my life until, making reference to a certain posting 6 or so weeks ago when I was still aboard The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour, Charon ferries me across the River Styx.

With it being Thanksgiving (which reminds me, Happy Thanksgiving to all of my Canadian family and friends and new readers, et Bonne Action de Grace a toute le monde francophone Canadien) we had another lie-in this morning. Nothing like as dramatic as yesterday’s. Not quite so early in bed, a small disturbance during the night, and raising myself from the Dead round about 08:45. But still, I’ll take that over almost any other night that I’ve had for quite some considerable time.

Eventually there was some noise coming from the rest of the house so I went in to join the (af)fray. We had a reasonably heavy brunch, nothing like the legendary Sunday one but a good one nevertheless, and then hung around chatting for ages. Everyone seemed to be in a very sociable mood today.

With me heading for the hills, I managed to make the printer fire up so I could print off all of my travel documents ready for the trip. Another task accomplished.

This afternoon people had tasks to do so I busied myself packing and having another play around on the bass guitar before I put it away in Strider where it will live for the next foreseeable future.

A curry was on the agenda for supper so for a change Hannah and I attacked it. For some reason that I don’t understand, it didn’t taste anything like as good as any previous one that I have made. I hope that I’m not losing my touch!

But as for my carrot soup, well, what more can I say? All of the leftover carrots (because there were tons of them) steamed slowly to warm them up, with bay leaves for added flavour, and then simmered gently for a while in coconut milk with ginger. Finally the bay leaves were removed and the whole lot given a ride around in the whizzer.

Totally delicious.

Finished packing, and leaving a few things behind such as my spare clothes and my deck shoes, because I seem to have acquired a Tupperware microwave fryer and a pile of CDs somewhere on my travels and it won’t all fit in, and then Rachel took me down to Irvings in Florenceville and the Maritime Atlantic bus.

21:15 it was scheduled to arrive, and at 21:15 arrive it did. And remind me never to travel on a Bank Holiday or thereabouts because it was packed and it was a struggle to find a seat. What I did find though was a backpack under the seat, apparently left behind by someone who had alighted earlier, so I took it down to the driver.

We eventually arrived at Riviere du Loup where we all change buses. It was cold, miserable, wet and rainy but nevertheless I had a chat to the driver. He comes up all the way from Moncton, sleeps in the hotel next door, and then drives all the way back the following day. Reminded me of my days with Shearings when I used to do an overnight run every Friday night from Manchester to Glasgow and Edinburgh and return the following day.

And while I was chatting, someone came around “has anyone seen a black backpack?” so I passed him on to the driver.

So now I’m sitting on a seat in a draughty windswept crowded waiting room here waiting for my bus to Montreal to arrive. I’m reaching the end of this phase of my journey and who knows where I’m going to end up next?

As Winston Churchill once said after the British flight from the Germans at Dunkirk, “this is not the beginning of the end. It is merely the end of the beginning”.

Friday 11th October 2019 – REMEMBER YESTERDAY …

… when I wrote about the evil (because there is no other word to describe it) humour in which I found myself?

Today I was rather hoping that I might have been over it, put it all behind me and moved on. But looking back over some of the stuff that I had written in an internet debate this morning, that’s clearly not the case because much of what I wrote, even though it reflected my true feelings, can best be described as “incendiary”.

It’s no surprise either because there was that much turmoil going on in my head that even at 01:30 the thought of going to bed hadn’t even occurred to me. I spent most of the night wide-awake.

There was some sleep of some kind though, because there are one or two items on the dictaphone. And when I get round to listening to them, it should be extremely interesting to say the least.

The alarms went off at the usual time but I didn’t. 07:15 again for me and this is getting monotonous. The school run too this morning and for a change I had Hannah’s Golf diesel.

So that’s now everything around here that I have driven at one time or another, and my favourite is still Rachel’s Golf estate, although the VWs are far too low for me and difficult to get out of.

Rushed off our feet again today. The place is closed for the weekend and on Monday so everyone wanted their supplies and work done today. I ended up shunting cars around, hauling bags of feed about and going to the bank.

And I’m right about tiredness too. Despite my dreadful night I kept on going all day with only a brief pause, not like yesterday when I was stark out. I was expecting to be much more exhausted today.

Excitement up on the railway line at the back of the depot. The old station was formerly a tractor-pulling venue but it’s up for sale. It seems that the fixtures and fittings have been sold and there were people up there dismantling the grandstand in order to move it to Grand Falls.

This evening there was just Darren and me. He had an omelette and I found some leftover vegan meatloaf in the fridge, followed by apple crumble.

later, I was reviewing some postings from my Arctic voyage. A few (well, one particular) memory came flooding back to me and so I decided to listen to some music to distract me and to soothe my fevered brow. It wasn’t a particularly good choice though. I played Colosseum Live, which will forever be associated in my brain with late, dark, cold nights on board The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour in the High Arctic, and that is exactly what I’m trying to put out of my mind.

Yes, events in the High Arctic have scarred me somewhat and I can’t chase them out of my mind. It’s all very well listening to Joachim du Bellay and that I should be “Heureux qui comme Ulysse a fait un beau voyage”, I’m more inclined right now to the words of the Duke of Marlborough who, on his way to fight at (thinks) Malplaquet, said “God knows I go with a heavy heart, for I have no hope of doing anything considerable”. Or even John Major’s legendary “When your back’s against the wall it’s time to turn round and fight”.

On that note, I’ll go to bed, I reckon. I’ve had a hard couple of days now that demons whom I thought that I had laid have now come back to haunt me. I have to remember, I suppose, that today I really should have been in hospital having a blood transfusion – having already missed three. Bit I’m missing this one too.

Who knows what state I’ll be in when I finally return home?

Perhaps I need some more music
All of the sudden she disappears
just yesterday she was here
somebody tell me if I am sleeping
someone should be with me here
I wanna be the last thing you hear when you’re falling asleep….

Saturday 5th October 2019 – I’VE BEEN …

… a very busy boy today.

And that’s hardly a surprise because I had, for the first time since I don’t know when, had a really good sleep last night and I’ve not yet set foot outside the house.

A few items on the dictaphone, although what there is I really don’t know. And I was up and about by 06:40 too.

Rachel and Amber went to work this morning so I decided on a day off. A leisurely breakfast and a long chat with Hannah and our visitor and then I cracked on to work, with just a brief interruption for lunch.

During the course of the day, people were coming and going but I paid no attention whatever and by the time supper was served, I’d finished all of the blog entries for July (including the missing one when I was ill) and most of them for August too. There are only three or four that need to be added, I reckon.

And those that are there make interesting reading. As Kenneth Williams once famously said, “I’m often taken aback by my own brilliance”.

Or, as the Duke of Wellington once remarked about the Battle of Waterloo and which sums up my voyage completely – “By God! I don’t think it would have been done if I had not been there”.

But now Amber is down with the dreaded lurgy. It’s doing the rounds here so I’ll probably catch it the evening that I’m due to catch my bus back to Montreal.

A brief interruption though. US Granville’s match against C Chartres Football was televised this evening and I managed to catch the second half.

Hannah and her friend Journee made tea tonight. For we vegans, she made a stir-fry tofu in a creamy vegan sauce with pasta, and it was absolutely delicious. She followed that up with some vegan muffins that she had found in the Atlantic Superstore and which I will be visiting again.

So it’s bedtime now. No alarm and a day of rest. I’m going to be attacking the rear of Strider and empty out some of the stuff that I fetched back from Montreal. Some is for Darren, some is for Zoe and the rest is for filing under CS.

See you in the morning.

Monday 30th September 2019 – IT’S BEEN …

… a pretty rough day for me today.

What didn’t help matters was that I couldn’t sleep last night. 01:30 and I was still struggling away trying my best to drop off.

At some point I must have done, I suppose, because the alarm awoke me at 06:00. Just in time to catch the vestige of a nocturnal voyage disappearing out of my head, so I grabbed the dictaphone and dictated it before I forgot. The only one from last night, apparently.

For a change, I remembered the medication and then I grabbed a quick breakfast so that I could take the kids to school. And then down to Hartland to take Hannah the lunch pail that she had forgotten.

Back at the tyre depot there wasn’t a great deal to do today. In fact, I just mauled around a few sacks of feed when customers came a-calling. My new gearchange cable is a Ford main agent part and won’t be in Woodstock until early tomorrow morning.

At lunch-time I went off to buy a sandwich from the Irving garage by the Trans-Canada Highway and then went back to the garage. Where I fell asleep not once but twice.

That was the cue for Rachel to send me home as I was clearly in no fit state to do anything.

Once I’d regained my second wind I made a start on adding the blog entries for the second leg of my voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. To see how far I’ve advanced, you can go to THIS LINK and work your way forward.

There were just Hannah, our visitor and me here for evening meal so I made thin-fried potatoes with carrots, onions, garlic and chili with herbs, and vegan burgers on baps with cheese. And it was all so delicious, especially when followed by one of my chocolate soya desserts left over from Montreal.

Talking of Montreal, I have (rather regrettably) booked my bus back to Montreal, Much as I dislike the idea, I suppose that I ought to think about going home some time soon.

As well as the bus, I booked a room in Montreal for the night that I’ll be staying there before I fly out. I saw the ideal place – and for $20 CAN too. A bed in an 8-bed dormitory in a hostel for women. But they wouldn’t let me reserve the place.

Instead, I’ve booked a room at one of my previous haunts in the rue St Hubert at the back of the bus station, seeing as there was a place on special offer. But then I remembered that that’s the place that doesn’t offer breakfast, by which time it was far too late.

So that’s that. My route from here as far as Brussels is now arranged, for better or for worse. And I’m going to be having a hard time leaving, I reckon. One thing that I’ve always been wary about is putting down roots, especially in places where it’s clearly impractical, if not impossible.

And emotional attachments are the worst of them all.

But onwards and upwards, hey?

Saturday 28th September 2019 – IT’S REALLY EASY …

… to see what’s going on when you have a lead-light, the correct facilities and the correct tools.

We managed to move Strider this morning by climbing underneath with a light and a spanner and manually putting him in neutral. Then I started him up and Darren (who is braver than I ever imagined) climbed back underneath while my foot was on the brake of course, and with the spanner knocked him back into second gear.

Like that, I could drive him into the workshop and straight over the inspection pit where we had a closer look from a much more comfortable position with a proper inspection light.

And sure enough, everything seems to work exactly fine as it should, except that we could see that the plastic clip that (in theory) holds the cable onto the pivot is no longer there.

In principle, we could quite simply wedge the cable in place with some kind of Heath-Robinson invention, but there’s nothing as permanent as a temporary solution, I’ll forget about it, and it will let go when I’m somewhere in the depths of darkest Labrador 300 miles from any kind of help, in the middle of a snowstorm.

May as well do the job properly first as last, and I’m not so desperate for transport right now, so there will be a new gearchange cable and clip coming on Monday.

Last night despite an evening rather later than I had hoped, I had a decent night’s sleep. But still tons of stuff has mysteriously found its way onto the dictaphone during the night. So I wonder what that’s all about.

I didn’t have much time to lounge about though because I had to hitch a lift up to the tyre depot with Rachel who starts work at 08:00.

Just settling down with my morning coffee and my bagel for breakfast when Rosemary rang me up. She’s in the UK right now watching the chaos as the UK sinks beneath the waves. It seems to be quite exciting there right now, but I’m not in a hurry to find out.

We were quite busy today and it wasn’t until about 11:45, 15 minutes to closing time, that we could deal with Strider.

For a change I came home with Darren in the big Chevy lorry, bringing my bass with me. High time I had another run up and down the scales.

The girls all left to go shopping so I made myself some sandwiches and then knuckled down to work.

What I’ve been doing today is to start to add into the blog the missing entries from when I was on board The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour. I had hoped to wait until I was back home when I could deal with the photos as well, but my fans are clamouring to know what I got up to while I was away and I can no longer resist the pressure.

At the moment I’ve just come back from visiting the Dynjandi waterfall in Iceland and by the skin of my teeth I’ve managed so far to avoid too many faux-pas like treading on the bombe surprise, whistling on board ship or knocking someone base over apex out of a zodiac.

But it’s early days yet and there is plenty of time for me to get into mischief. If you start here and work your way forward, you’ll see how far I’ve come to date.

Another thing that I’ve done is to book my flight in the general direction of homeward. And, sad as it is to say it, my regular hotel in Brussels is booked up so I’m having to go to another disreputable cat-house somewhere.

God help me!

Tea tonight should have been a flatbread pizza but could I ‘eck as like find them. That is, until I was halfway through cooking something else when I put my hand straight on them. They will have to do for another time now.

So now it’s late. Darren is asleep, Hannah is back but the others are still gallivanting about somewhere. And why not? Tomorrow is Sunday, a Day of Rest with the wonderful Taylor Breakfast Brunch that brings visitors from miles around.

High time we had a few luxuries around here.

Wednesday 11th September 2019 – EVEN THOUGH …

… I promised myself an early night last night, it didn’t quite work out like that. Just after I had finished writing up my notes, the heavens opened and we were soaked in a torrential downpour.

There are many advantages of tin roofs over the old-fashioned shingle roofs, but soundproofing qualities is not one of them, especially when there is a metal trailer roof parked right underneath my window.

As a result it was long after 23:00 when I finally nodded off.

we had what seemed to be the usual wake-up round about 04:00 and we must have been on a voyage at one point or another because there are some files registered on the dictaphone. No idea what’s in them yet but, as usual, I’m keen to find out.

The alarms went off as usual but I hid down the bed until Amber banged on the door. It seems that I’m doing the school run again today. Not that I mind of course – I have to make myself useful here and earn my corn.

The last time that I took the girls to school we had a thick fog and mist. Today we were having a torrential rainstorm. The next time I take them it will probably be a plague of locusts.

At the shop there were errands to run. I ended up having to go back to the house, rescuing a couple of pushbikes, bringing them back to the garage and overhauling them. It’s a long time since I’ve had to do that – I’ve not had any real involvement with pushbikes for almost half a century I reckon.

Once they were done I had to wait until lunchtime and then go back to Amber’s school to take her some money for the cinema tonight and to deliver the bikes (good job that I have a truck).

While I was at Amber’s school we had a delightful conversation –
Amber – “some boy called me a dumbass in class this morning”
Our Hero – “really? When’s his funeral?”

This afternoon we were having printer issues. The accounting program wouldn’t permit any printing so Yours Truly was required to look into the situation.

Eventually, after much binding in the marsh, I worked out that it seems that the program had performed an automatic upgrade at midday and for some reason that I have yet to understand it had created a clone of the accounts printer and was sending instructions to the clone, not the veritable one.

When I tried to transfer printers over, it still refused to accept the change – it simply stopped sending out any printfile instructions.

Finally, after about an hour, by going way back in my mind as far as 1998 and what I could remember about BIOS settings, I managed to make the program recognise the letter printer on another port and it’s now printing really satisfactorily from there.

But there have been so many printers connected up to that setup over the years that if it were me, I’d go through and delete every printer and device that is no longer active and go for a leaner, fitter machine. But it’s not my business, not my company, not my set-up etc.

This afternoon I was hit with another wave of fatigue. I’d been on the ropes once or twice during the morning but this was serious.

But what I couldn’t understand is that I had been swinging myself in and out of the back of Strider like I might have done before 2014 with no pain or effort whatsoever. Past experience tells me though that whenever I feel really well and really energetic, it usually means that I’ve had a substantial drop in blood count and that there has been a release of adrenalin ( as if there hasn’t been enough adrenalin released just recently). And still at least 30 days (and maybe more) until my next blood transfusion.

We were away from here fairly early tonight and back here Darren and I fixed the door (it has become unhinged since I’ve been here and who can blame it?) while Rachel fixed tea. Another one of her delicious herb-laden vegetable stir-fries in olive oil. Hannah lent a big hand to the mixture so there was plenty of garlic.

And I’m well-impressed (as always) with Hannah. She’s just had her annual appraisal at work – the end of her first year’s employment. “Above and beyond expectations” was the result.

Now I’m in my room with the bass guitar, hoping for another early night. Rachel is cooking chicken soup so the whole house smells of food, Zoe is doing Hannah’s fingernails (she’s off to Wisconsin in the morning) and the other two are out at the cinema.

But searching around on the internet I came across one of the albums of the days of my youth, featuring a bassist who I admired greatly.

Long out of print now, my album is scratched and damaged beyond all recognition these days (two years of living in vans and various squats in my youth didn’t help matters) so I hunted down a file ripper and downloaded the tracks.

That took an age but converting them to *.mp3 was quite quick. Now I’m up and running, over an hour later than I had intended.

So I’m off to bed. I’m not sure what the plan is tomorrow but I’ll work it out as I go along.

Saturday 7th September 2019 – I HAVE THROWN AWAY …

… a whole lifetime today.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I travel around the world in some kind of peripatetic idyll, all of my possessions either on my back or in one of my trucks (Caliburn in Europe, Strider in North America).

But today, up at the mill, I heaved almost all of my North American possessions into a skip (dumpster to you North Americans) and put an end to my nomadic lifestyle.

It’s simply that I can’t do it any more and it’s no point pretending that I can continue. Watching the blood count slowly decline over the last two years down to the critical level (which it must surely have reached by now seeing as I haven’t had it checked for almost 3 months) and knowing that my days are numbered, it’s just useless weight that I’m dragging around with me.

In a couple of weeks I’ll be up in Montreal and I’ll be emptying out my storage locker. The only thing that I’ll be salvaging from there will be the amplifier and speaker for the bass and the remainder will be joining the rest of the travelling gear in that great camp site in the sky.

That’ll be the first time in Montreal this year. It’s not like me, is it?

But I’ll tell you something. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall my mentioning the rather lively back end of Strider, how we travelled mainly sideways down a variety of gravel roads in Labrador. “Lively” back in those days had absolutely nothing on “lively” today, with almost nothing on the pick-up bed.

If I ever make it back to Labrador, we shall certainly be living in interesting times.

Having crowed about my really good nights just recently, it’s almost inevitable that they should catch up on me sooner or later.

And so it was last night.

For a start, we were still awake, the bass guitar and me, at well past midnight as I was picking away at various bass lines, unable to sleep. One thing about life on The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour is that it has pumped music back into my soul.

But when I finally did manage to drop off, the dictaphone tell its own story. There’s a record on average about every 20 minutes over a three-hour period, and what I do remember from the various nocturnal rambles is that every single one of them concerned Castor pursuing me around the ship.

Not that I’m complaining of course. Usually, anyone pursuing me anywhere would be almost certainly brandishing the kind of offensive weapon that would paralyse a polar bear, so it makes a nice change to be pursued by pleasant company. What I don’t understand is why I thought it necessary to run away. I’m definitely losing my grip.

Once all of that was over I was up and about, only to find that we had run out of bread for breakfast. With Zoe not coming back last night, we hadn’t been to the shops had we?

Instead Rachel and I went straight up to the garage and made coffee, and slowly woke up.

Then it was that I attacked the emptying of Strider and that took me almost up to lunchtime. But lunchtime was late – there was a queue of trucks needing attention in the workshop and we couldn’t move one out until almost 12:45.

Zoe, who had by now put in an appearance, and I shot back to the house, picked up all of her belongings and, now that Strider was almost empty, whipped them down to her new house. And I’m glad that we had emptied Strider because by the time we got to Woodstock we were half a million strong and there wasn’t much room inside the truck.

Atlantic Superstore was next for a week or two’s load of vegan food so that I can eat properly, and also due to the fact that we are having another vegan messing with us for a while.

There’s a hurricane threatening here and out in the sticks a back-up generator is necessary. But believe it or not, in a household with 6 cars, three trucks, two heavy trucks and assorted 4-wheelers, snowmobiles, golf carts and Amber’s motor scooter, there wasn’t a drop of spare fuel.

Consequently Hannah had thrown a pile of empty fuel cans into the back of Strider and I came back from Irvings at Woodstock with 157.6 litres of petrol in the back of Strider. The rear end of Strider wasn’t bouncing around at all then!

Next stop was back at the garage. Darren had a rear wheel bearing, driveshaft oil seal, brake disk and caliper to change on the rear of a Chevrolet D5500 heavy truck – the one that I drove down to New Hampshire a couple of years ago to take that racing engine for repair.

It’s not difficult task but it’s heavy, dirty and complex, and four hands are always better than two working down a cramped inspection pit.

The task involved a judicious amount of heat and with an oxy-acetylene welding torch it brought back many happy memories. The last time that I did any welding on a car was the old Passat back in 1997 but that was with the mig-welder. With oxy-acetylene, the last time that I did any welding was stitching Nerina’s Ford Fiasco back together back in something like 1991. When I had my taxi company I was probably welding up one car or other almost every day.

We’d finished by about 18:00 and staggered off back home.

And I couldn’t resist a smile. Driving 20 miles with 157 litres of petrol floating around in the back of the truck and having to invent a makeshift stopper for one of the cans – getting out the oxy-acetylene welding bottles – crawling around an inspection pit in a garage taking driveshafts out of lorries and showering myself in Hypoid 90 – I thought that I had left all of that behind me more than 30 years ago.

You can take the boy out of Crewe right enough, but you can’t ever take Crewe out of the boy.

But then that’s why I like New Brunswick. It’s about 50 years behind the times and suits me perfectly.

Rachel came to awaken me later. It seems that I had crashed out for a while (hardly a surprise) and it was now tea-time. A chick pea curry which was delicious, and then we were descended upon by hordes of people. Amber is having a party and despite the rain and the winds, there are dozens of teenagers all attired in a variety of swimwear and heading for the hot tub outside.

I’ve locked myself in my room with the bass guitar and I am refusing to come out until the coast is clear. It’s a good job that it’s Sunday tomorrow and a lie-in is on the cards. I think that I’m going to need it.

Friday 6th September 2019 – HATS OFF …

… to whoever has had the patience (or maybe it’s the motivation LOL) to sit and read their way through 29 pages of my website followed by no less than 55 pages of my blog.

I know that what I write is right riveting stuff but with 15 blog entries on a page, that’s 825 days’ worth of entries – not far short of 2.5 years and that calls for a lot of persistence and determination.

Either someone has nothing better to do with his or her time, or it’s someone else collecting evidence for my incarceration LOL. But just remember the Hispano-Roman rhetorican Quintilian who once famously said (with paraphrased lines much-later quoted by people such as Richelieu and Laubardemont) something along the lines of “If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him”.

But no matter what – I admire your persistence. Hats off to you.

Last night was another excellent sleep and I was off on a voyage or two during the night. High time I started attacking the dictaphone notes so that I can see where I’ve been.

Slept right through the alarms yet again and finally managed to crawl out of my stinking pit at about 10:30.

It took a while to come round but when I did, I made a start on going through the suitcase.

But, as usual, I was sidetracked. Since I had awoken, I had had a couple of lines of a poem going around in my head – something that I must have had going on during the night on a voyage somewhere.

These things usually escape me but for some reason or other, seeing as it was something rather emotional that related to something intense that happened on one of my voyages, I determined to write it down before I forgot.

By the time that I had finished, I’d ended up with a poem of seven verses and I’m working on an eighth) and a chorus, and by the time I’d read through it a few times I had a beat and a rhythm going on in my head.

There are a couple of 6-string guitars around here but could I find them? Could I ‘eck as, so I turned to the piano. The piano is not my forte so I dashed outside to Strider and rescued the perishing bass.

Two years since it’s been out and about and much to my surprise it was still in tune (these mobile phone apps are quite good) so I picked out a bass line, a rhythm and a lead break.

It needs more work of course, but I’m impressed about how it worked out.

By now Amber was back from school so we had a chat. And it looks as if I’m going to resume my duties as a driving monitor at some point. She’s spent her summer shop wages on a car – a VW Jetta diesel – and now she needs to put the hours in. She shouldn’t have any trouble though – she’s been throwing around a 3,500hp tractor for the last two years so a Jetta should be child’s play.

And I’m still wondering who it was who took Strider down to the garage that day just over two years ago when it needed the gearbox linkage adjusting. Amber was the only one here but she was only days past her 14th birthday. She wouldn’t have done it.

Rachel came in and went out again, then Hannah came in later. We exchanged a few words and then she and Amber went off to do girly things down in Woodstock.

I waited for Zoe but she never turned up, so I went to make myself some beans on toast – only for the tin opener to hold onto the lid and drop the can and all of the beans all over the floor. Last tin of beans too.

It’s not my day, is it?

Darren and I had a chat about trucks and his plan for the new tractor-pulling season and then I went off to my room.

There’s a lot to do tomorrow. I’ve made a conscious decision that I’m not ever going out roughing it in Strider (or anything else) again so I’m going to throw away all of my gear – stuff that I won’t need any longer.

There’s a skip at the mill right now so I’m going to take full advantage of it.

So I need to gird up my loins and gather my strength.

And if my phantom follower is still out there, then good night to you, sir! Identify yourself and I’ll buy you a beer.

Thursday 5th September 2019 – I WAS RIGHT …

… about the bed in here.

It took me a while to settle myself down but once I’d gone, I’d gone for good and I had the best sleep that I have had for at least two weeks.

Off on a few voyages too, for the first time for a week, and I’ll tell you all about them once I’ve organised the dictaphone.

During one of my voyages, I heard one of the participants call my name, so I sat up bolt-upright. I’ve not had a moment like that for several years and when I did it was usually a plea for help or for me to get in touch.

For a fact, I know that Castor was in one of my voyages, and so, when I heard the call, I wondered if it was she. But who knows, and this is not the moment for me to find out, I reckon, even if, to paraphrase the words of Adolphus Greely whose expedition came to grief on Cape Sabine, “I know of no law, human or divine, that was broken …”.

If Castor wants to get in touch with me then she can. She has the means or if not, she can find them. But it’s not the moment for me to be taking any initiative.

For once I slept right through the alarms and it was 10:30, when the telephone rang, that I awoke. I wasn’t quick enough to answer the telephone though.

Instead I carried on with a few tasks that needed attention – I still wasn’t in work mode – then round about 14:30 went for a shower and a clean-up.

Back in bed afterwards until Hannah came home and we had one of our lengthy chats. I’m glad to see her doing so well after her spell at University.

She’s been offered a chance to study for her CPA but she’s not sure. I was explaining to her the benefits, particularly if someone else is paying for the course.

Darren came back later and we had a chat while Amber made tea. And even though it’s only 21:45 I’m off to bed.

I have a lot of sleep to catch up on.