Tag Archives: hawkwind

Wednesday 20th July 2022 – SUNDAY NIGHT’S PIZZA …

… may not have been as good as others might have been in the past but tonight’s curry was a belter. One of the best that i’ve ever made.

Basically it was the left-overs out of the fridge with a potato added thereto and cooked to perfection with lots of lovely spices and some soya cream.

And if I can make curry like that again on a regular basis, I’ll be in business.

boats baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022Quite a lot more pleasure boats out there at sea today so while you admire them all in the next few photos (becase these are all that there were), I’li start at the very beginning.

And at least last night was somewhat better than the previous one. Even with the bedroom window closed and the fan switched off it was a lot cooler in the bedroom and I actually managed to go to sleep.

So much so that when the alarm went off at 07:30 it was a struggle to leave the bed.

Nevertheless I beat the second alarm to my feet (which is always good news) and staggered off into the kitchen to take my medicine.

fishermen speedboat baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022Back in here I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night.

We started off with a neighbour just like that guy in Virlet who was bad-tempered and miserable, always finding fault, always being picky. We’d all been somewhere on board a bus, a pile of us. He had 2 young girls with him. When the bus stopped and everyone alighted he disappeared for a moment. I was going through my things and found some small bottles of water so I gave one each to these 2 girls and also a sweet. When he came back I gave him one as well, a bottle of water and a sweet. He was going on about how I was trying to buy friends, this kind of thing. I said “no, not at all. It was just something that I wanted to do because I’m that kind of person” or something like that. While they were all sitting there talking I took out my laptop and my headphones and was going to sit down to transcribe some notes.

yachts baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022And then someone had heard of a photographer so he went to see him about doing some photographs. When the photos were done they were so good that he was wondering who it was who recommended him, whether he was a relation or simply just a friend of that person

Finally I was with a group of friends and we had gone to a meeting or something. There was a lunch laid on so we started to help ourselves to lunch. This meeting had cost us £8:00 each to go. We went but the meeting wasn’t particularly inspiring but the lunch was quite nice. This carried on for a short while afterwards and then they started to lay out the table with all these curries etc so I asked if we were going to stay for this as well. They replied “well we’d better start moving around or else we’ll be stuck in one place”. We started to wander around and they started to bring all of the things that they were going to serve. In the meantime where was this nice curry. I thought “never mind anything else. I’m going to have some of the curry”. We started to help ourselves to the meals. One of the things that was happening was a display of firearms with the children. The firearms discipline was hopeless. All the kids were turning their backs on each other while they were carrying loaded firearms. I said to one of the girls with us that that was terrible. If they had done that anywhere else they would have been thrown out immediately. Some fellow turned round and made some kind of remark to me. I replied “don’t worry. I’m a foreigner”. He asked “why is it that you are telling her then?”. I said that’s OK because she’s a foreigner too” so he turned round and walked away at that point.

The Welsh class continued with its usual chaotic structure but I’m not complaining. After all, it is free and it’s the best offer that I’ve had for a Summer School. And once again we didn’t stop for lunch but crashed on right through.

One of the tasks that we had to do was to read a couple of chapters of a book. The book was able to be downloaded as an *.epub but no program that I have on any of my computers would read it.

Eventually I tracked down a program – CALIBRE – that would read it but the field of view is so small that I can’t read the text and after spending about an hour at it I’ve still not found a way to zoom the page up to a realistic size.

It really beats me why people can’t stick to a good old-fashioned *.pdf format for on-line books.

When the course finished I had my lunchtime fruit and then a play about on the guitar for a while. That took me up to the walkies time.

people on beach rue do nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022And as usual I went out across the car park over to the wall at the end so that I can look down onto the beach.

Less and less beach down there today, and fewer and fewer people too. It was really warm out there this afternoon but I think tht what must have put people off was the fact that it was nothing like as warm as Monday. That really was exceptional.

And while we’re on the subject of the beach … “well, one of us is” – ed … someone trying to negotiate the steps that lead to the beach missed their footing and fell from the cliffs onto the beach yesterday evening.

That was the reason why the Air-Sea rescue helicopter was hovering around here while I was on the ‘phone.

hang gliders Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022You’ve seen all of the photos of what was going on out at sea this afternoon, so I had a look elsewhere to see if there was anything else going on.

And as I watched, a couple of Nazgul reared up from the field at the side of the cemetery and began to head my way.

“Your Only Protection is Flight” as Hawkwind sang in SONIC ATTACK, especially as I’m over 10 years old and don’t have a cocoon, but whereas a couple of years ago I could quite happily run all the way around the headland, these days I can’t even run for a bus.

There were quite a few people out and about on the path today and so we had the dust-clouds to deal with. I shudder to think what it will be like if the wind gets up with all of this dust about. It won’t be pleasant.

fisherman pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022Down at the end of the headland there was no-one sitting on the bench by the cabanon vauban.

However we did have a fisherman out there on the rocks. What with the ones that you might have seen earlier in one of the boat it seemed to be quite busy from that point of view.

There were even a few people having a go at the pèche à pied although I’m not quite sure, for the tide is nowhere near far enough out.

But that’s their problem, not mine. I left them to it, in the hope that a Nazgul would get them, and headed off down the path towards the port.

les bouchots de chausey la confiance 2 chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022And yet another change in occupancy in the chantier naval.

We still have Les Bouchots de Chausey if it is indeed she, and La Confiance II but Monaco du Nord II has disappeared. back into the water, I suppose.

And while L’Omerta is still tied up – on her own – at the Fish Processing Plant, there wasn’t anyone this afternoon over at the ferry terminal. All of the ferries to the Ile of Chausey are presumably out.

But a friend of a friend tells me that Granville, the newer of the two Channel Islands ferries, has turned up this evening in St Helier and is planning on staying the night over there. So some kind of skeleton service is being run at the moment.

marité chausiaise port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022And if you are wondering where Chausiaise is, the little freighter is over there at the quayside underneath the crane, presumably being loaded with supplies for the island.

Marité is over there too. She’s not going anywhere right now by the looks of things. It doesn’t seem to be much of a summer so far for the town’s water craft.

Back at the apartment I had a good clean-up and a shower to make myself look pretty and then, bang on cure, Rosemary rang me. She MUST have installed a camera here somewhere.

It ended up being another one of our long chats, mainly about her Ukrainian guests. By the sound of things they have settled in the Auvergne and seem to be at home.

Their issue is first of all to learn to speak French, and secondly, to sort out some kind of employment. This involves contacting all kinds of Government agencies and finding out what facilities are available for Ukrainian refugees to integrate into French society, and so we spent the time of our ‘phone call making lists

Hopefully, progress can be made. But I can see myself being recruited into going for another trip into Central France some time in the near future for a hands-on task.

Tea was my delicious curry and then I came in here to write up my notes.

And now I’m off to bed. Another day at Summer School tomorrow and I’ll see how I get on. I’m not expecting too much but it’s all that’s on offer right now.

And considering that all of these supplementary courses are free, I’m just grateful that the Welsh Government is taking the trouble to educate us.

Sunday 13th February 2022 – I DON’T EVER …

… want to have to do that again! NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET has got nothing on this!

But anyway, last night I was in bed by 22:00 with the alarm set for 05:00 and hoping to have a good sleep.

But that was some hope because I was off on my travels during the night and I must have gone so far that I really don’t know how I had any sleep at all.

At some point I was with a girl who has featured on several occasions in the past, usually with her brother who was a friend of mine and who both lived on a farm, but tonight she was with another girl – I don’t know who she was but I know that I know her. We were tidying up a pile of stuff, just generally chatting. The farmer’s daughter had to go out for something that just left me and this girl. The conversation turned round to that girl and me. I said that I don’t want anything to happen to her because I’m rather fond of her. This girl was rather surprised so I said “yes but I thought that most people knew that”. She asked if our farmer’s daughter knew that and I replied “of course she did”. “What did she do?”. “Nothing” I replied. “She had her own life to live etc”. I explained that we’d been out once or twice. She asked “what was she doing?” I said “it was just like this”. “Any snogging?” she asked. I replied “no unfortunately”. “Why on earth not?”. “I didn’t want to drive her away”. She wanted to know if she was married with kids. I replied that she was and had 2 kids. The conversation just drifted around like that. I thought that the farmer’s daughter would only be gone for a few minutes but it must have been ages that we were having this chat.

And before anyone grasps the wrong end of the stick, the fact that she is a farmer’s daughter has nothing whatever to do with Deep Purple.

Finally I was in the Army last night, looking through a pile of files and lists. No matter how hard I looked, all I could find were details of an assignment to the Entertainment Unit. They were all put in an envelope ready to be sent off to some kind of competition or show or something. There were all people there, including Jimmy Clitheroe but I couldn’t find anything in these service records and service history at all. This was really annoying. In the end there was a sergeant there who was responsible for the paperwork. I asked him and he pointed to these envelopes and said “but it’s all there”. I shouted that it wasn’t. I said that all it was was these application forms for this concert thing. I picked them up and dropped them in the bin. I told him precisely and in no uncertain terms exactly what I wanted. He started to go through the filing cabinet trying to find all this information.

Wherever did I find the time to go to sleep?

It didn’t take me long to tidy up and I decided not to make any sandwiches because I only get into trouble when I eat them and I’ll be home in time for a late lunch. So at 05:30 I had already handed in the key and was well off down the road.

martelarenplein leuven belgium Eric Hall photo February 2022As I approached the railway station I went to have a look at the Martelarenplein.

We’ve seen this now every month for the last I don’t know how many years and and I have to say that for the last half-dozen or so months there seems to be very little, if any improvement.

Just like every building project in Belgium, they are really taking their time with this and at the rate that they are going, I reckon that I’ll be finished long before they are here.

05:50 when I arrived at the railway station so I had 19 minutes to wait in the freezing cold and wind before my train came in.

class AM96 electric multiple unit gare de leuven railway station belgium Eric Hall photo February 2022The train this morning is the 06:09 from Landen to De Panne via Brussels Airport and the City Centre.

Today it’s one of the AM96 electric multiple units. Fairly modern, quite clean and comfortable and I’m quite happy to be aboard one of these.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I have mentioned their unique features before. When a train is made up of two trainsets, the rubber ring makes an airtight seal around the join and the drivers’ cabs swivel round out of the way so that you can walk from one trainset to the next.

We arrived at Bruxelles-Midi at 06:49, 28 minutes before my train to Lille. And this was when disaster stuck. There on the sign was “07:17 to Strasbourg via Lille cancelled”.

That was certainly a tragedy. With it being a weekend, the 07:47 direct to Paris doesn’t run either so that was that.

At the ticket office they proposed the following itinerary –

  • 08:17 to Lille Europe arriving 08:51
  • 10:42 from Lille Flandre to Paris Gare du Nord arriving 11:48
  • 12:59 Paris St Lazare to Lison arriving 15:31
  • 15:52 Lison to Granville arriving 16:43


Only three hours later than usual.

But if anyone thinks that I’m going to be waiting for almost two hours on a draughty, freezing cold railway station in Lille they are mistaken. I have another plan. But in the meantime I went to buy some food from Carrefour. I have a feeling that I might need it at this rate.

TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt 4525 PBA gare du midi brussels belgium Eric Hall photo February 2022Wherever I go, it has to start with the 08:17 to Montpelier via Lille

It’s one of the PBA (Paris Brussels Amsterdam) TGV Reseau 38000 trainsets and when I boarded it I could see exactly why my train had been cancelled. Two trainloads of people were “squeezed” into this one and it was still empty. I don’t suppose that they considered it worth their while to run the earlier one if it only had half the number on board that this one had.

There are a couple of small seats stuck in a corner by the baggage racks so I grabbed one of those and settled down while the train shot off into the void.

When it reached Lille Europe, I stayed on board. Next stop is Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport and from there is a Reseau Express Regional (RER) D train that goes into the city centre and out to Orly. I can alight at Denfert-Rochereau which is 5 stops and 40 minutes away, and then it’s 3 stops on the traditional metro to Gare Montparnasse.

The chances are that with a good run I could still catch my 10:59 train to Granville.

So at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport I hurtled off the train and up to the RER platforms on the level above to find “No RER Service today to Paris”.

That’s all I needed.

Plan C involved legging it right across Terminal 2 (which is enormous) to the other side and the express buses that go to the Stade de France RER station. That’s on RER line D so I need to change at Chatelet. I would lose 5 minutes but who knows?

Strangely enough, whenever I’m at Terminal 2, I ALWAYS SEEM TO BE REQUIRED TO RUN.

airport express coach stade de france paris france Eric Hall photo February 2022at Gate 2F I leapt on board a waiting coach and we shot off round and round the ragged rock until we finally found the exit that took us out onto the motorway and into northern Paris.

And there we hit a pile of roadworks and a long queue of traffic and I watched the time on my fitbit melt slowly away as we tried to jostle our way into the only lane that was moving.

We eventually made it to the Stade de France railway station. My train was to leave Montparnasse at 10:59 and as I alighted from the bus it was 10:59 precisely.

Never mind, it was a good try. At least, with all of the running around that I had to do I must have lost a good few kilos.

train RER D gare de stade de france paris france Eric Hall photo February 2022Now that I’m here I may as well push on.

Down on the platform I waited for the train to come in. The next stop is the Gare du Nord anyway and that gives me plenty of opportunity to work out something else. There has to be a Plan D somewhere.

At the Gare du Nord I didn’t even come up into the daylight. Here is RER line E and the terminus of that is at Gare St Lazare (well, near enough anyway) so I may as well see what gives there.

printemps department store rue caumartin paris france Eric Hall photo February 2022Where the RER station emerges into the street is right at the back of the Printemps Department Store.

Round at the front is the Boulevard Haussman where you find the headquarters of SPECTRE and several other extremely exclusive premises. But as you might expect, I’m not going that way. I’m going in the opposite direction.

There may be a considerable amount of time to spare but I’m not going to go for a look around in Printemps. It’s the kind of place where people like us need a credit account in order to simply look in the window.

gare st lazare paris france Eric Hall photo February 2022When I was here last I didn’t have too much time to take a photo of the Gare St Lazare so here we are. We can see the clocks that we saw last time outside the building but from a different perspective.

And here, I had my only slice of luck today.

When I arrived I noticed that there was a train to Caen at 11:59, one hour earlier than the one to Cherbourg on which they had booked me. Now if there would be a train from Caen to Rennes that connects with it, I will be à la maison and sec as they say around here.

Sure enough, the train arrives in Caen at 13:58 and at 14:10 there’s a train departing for Rennes so I sallied forth into the ticket office with right and a certificate of cancellation on my side.

Bombardier Regio 2N 56670 caen normandy france Eric Hall photo February 2022Just by way of a change I met a very pleasant and helpful SNCF ticket agent who took one look at all of my paperwork (Government officials on the mainland LOVE paperwork and rubber stamps) and issued me with a ticket for the earlier train.

It’s one of the really comfortable and quick Bombardier Regio 2N electric double-deckers. I was in the front coach upstairs with about 2 other people so I could settle down with my bread rolls and have a crafty nibble.

When the ticket collector came round I showed him my original ticket and gave him all of the rest of the paperwork that I had and he hardly bothered to check them. I went back to eating my bread rolls and listening to Hawkwind again.

And I still think that the violin solo on STEPPENWOLF is one of the best that has ever been recorded.

Bombardier B82650 84555 gec alstom regiolis gare de granville railway station Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022And here I am at Granville. My train is the Bombardier B825 on the left.

When I arrived at Caen it was already in and raring to go. It was quite full too and there are no luggage facilities, seeing as it’s a cross-country train. But I struggled aboard and eventually found somewhere for my suitcase and me.

There is no electricity on board these trains so I didn’t switch on the laptop. All the way to Granville I listened to COLOSSEUM LIVE on the telephone.

As I explained a while ago, I usually encounter interesting young ladies in peculiar situations whenever I listen to this album, such as in the High Arctic in 2018 and again a year later on the same ship in the same seat in the same place when I had two of the strangest encounters that I have ever had in modern times.

Today though, I’ve already had so many strange encounters, one way or another, that I probably wouldn’t have noticed another one by this time.

It’s no surprise that I dozed off for 10 minutes on the way home. And I immediately went off on a little wander. I was with another taxi driver and we were talking to a third. He had had the right to an engine in compensation for something but his wife at the time was now living with yet a fourth taxi driver and he had received this engine. He had fitted it into his car, “the T-reg”. I was surprised that after all of these years he was now back on the road but the reply was yes, it’s called “Creamony Cars” or something like that

Here at Granville on the right is the train that I should have caught. It beat me here (assuming that it was on time) by about 2 hours. And I don’t suppose that that was too bad because there was a moment when I was standing in front of the sign at the RER station at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport that I thought that I would never arrive at all.

The walk through the town was a nightmare. Even going down the hill was agony.

harbour gates closing port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022Climbing back up the hill up to my rock was even worse and it took me an age.

During one of my rather too frequent pauses during my climb I looked down at the harbour to see what was happening and I was lucky enough to see the red warning light flashing and the gates slowly closing.

So whoever might have been in the harbour loading up has now long gone and I won’t know who they are.

It was like Ice Station Zebra in here too when I arrived but ask me if I care. I made a coffee and collapsed into my chair.

No pizza tonight. I was too late to take some dough out of the freezer and it wouldn’t defrost so I had potatoes, veg and vegan sausage with vegan cheese sauce. It was lovely too.

Tomorrow is usually when I set an alarm for 06:00 and spend the day working on the radio but if anyone thinks that I’m doing that then they are mistaken. I’m going to bed and going to sleep until I awaken and hard luck on anyone who expects me to do anything. I’ve had a harrowing day.

Mind you, that could all change if TOTGA, Castor and/or Zero invite me to come with them for a midnight ramble. Imagine my sharing a room with Zero the other night and she not being there!

Saturday 15th January 2022 – HERE I ALL AM …

… not actually sitting in a rainbow, but sitting in my nice comfortable chair in my office thinking that Barry Hay was absolutely right when he said “there’s one thing that I can tell you, man, and that is that it’s good to be back home”.

And after one of the most uneventful journeys that I have ever had too.

In fact the only thing that went wrong during the trip was that the ticket collector caught me having a crafty bite out of my butties. Since 3rd January 2022 it’s against the law to eat on public transport. So he had a good moan at me about it.

The morning started quite bizarrely because although the alarm was due to go off at 05:00 I had left my bed a long time before hand and was busy drinking a coffee and making my sandwiches when the alarm did go off.

Despite the somewhat reduced sleep, I still managed to go off on several voyages during the night. I’d picked up my daughter (!!!) from Crewe Railway Station and we had to go to Edge Hill in Liverpool to catch a boat so we hired a car and drove there. Everyone else stayed on the train. At Edge Hill we had to board this boat to go across the ocean but I can’t remember where now. It involved stepping onto this beach where there were 3 wild animals, an elephant, a tiger and a third animal. The tiger was extremely playful but nevertheless it unnerved me quite a lot as I was trying to walk around this island. It kept trying to pretend to stalk me by getting behind me and attacking me. I had to turn round to face it and chase it away. Then the elephant joined in and started to push me around with its tusk. This was starting to become really out of hand. I had the feeling that this elephant, if I let it, was going to do far more than just play around with me. I told the person who was with me, whoever it was, that if they didn’t do anything to control these animals the elephant was going to have a bullet through the brain. They insisted that it was just being playful but it wasn’t very playful as far as I was concerned and I was determined to deal with this elephant permanently either by having it taken away or else by the fact that I was going to shoot it and I’d do the same to the tiger as well if they didn’t organise themselves any better and control their animals

This was the dream about the “Hawkwind” group about which I’d been thinking. There were a couple of girls called Aral or Araf, something like that, who had joined as well but that was all it was really, about the two groups and merging together to perform those Hawkwind tracks that I had mentioned and I can’t remember anything else about it (and I’d love to know what I missed recording that made me dictate this in this particular way).

I was in Canada last night. I’d just arrived. I’d been to a car auction and there was someone there trying to sell one of these minivan things. He didn’t want very much money for it – about £700 or £800 – but it was a non-runner and needed a lot of work doing to it. It was really only suitable for using as a shed or something. There was a big argument going on between a woman and the auctioneers and a couple of other people about this. The next lot to be offered was an old panel van, the type from the 1940s or 50s. I was talking to the girl. This had no engine in it or anything like that so I said “well if it’s only for a garden shed this is what I’d use as it has no windows in it for a start. It turned out that she was only looking for $50 for it and that was much more reasonable.

Then I ended up at my niece’s house. She was saying something like they could only have one egg delivered by the ‘phone. She gave me a letter than hadn’t been opened and asked me to deal with it. It was something about some company stopping deliveries to the house. I rang them up to find out what had happened. It turned out that there had been a delivery to the house 2 years ago but no-one had signed for it so they were recommending to courier companies that they no longer delivered here. That would stymie just about everything for what was going on in Canada with her and so on so I rang up the tyre depot to speak to her daughter. I asked if she knew anything about this company. She replied that that was the company she dealt with. I asked her about this parcel. She said that she remembered it so I told her that she had to ring them back straight away and explain the situation to them otherwise we aren’t going to have any more deliveries. That will bring the business to a halt. She sounded drunk on the phone, something like that, and I couldn’t get any sense out of her. I carried on talking to her but it was still extremely difficult. Trying to give her the phone number was extremely complicated because she wasn’t paying any attention to anything that anyone was telling her. I thought “this is going to end in tragedy, isn’t it?”

martelarenplein leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022There’s a reminder alarm that goes off at 05:30 but at that time I was already down the street on my way to the railway station.

Of course I can’t go and look for a train without checking on how the work in the Martelarenplein is progressing. And the answer to that is, unfortunately, “slowly”. They don’t seem to have made very much progress at all since we were here four weeks ago.

It’ll probably be just the same when I come back here in four weeks’ time, if I do. At the rate at which I’m going, I’m not convinced that I’ll still be here in four weeks’ time. I feel as if my battery has gone completely flat.

557 am 96 multiple unit gare de leuven railway station Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022There’s a choice of three trains to take me to Brussels – the 06:08 stopper, the 06:11 that goes via the airport and the 06:31 direct, all of which arrive at roughly the same time so it makes no difference really which one I catch.

However, the airport train was one of the very comfortable AM96 multiple units. It was already in the station too and looked quite warm and inviting – it was absolutely taters outside – so I clambered aboard that one.

Having gone the long way round, it was 06:58 when it pulled into the Gare du Midi and that left me 45 minutes to wait for my train to Paris. I can cope with that, even if I can’t find anywhere warm and comfortable to sit. I hate these huge, draughty stations where you can’t ever keep out of the wind.

TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt 4538 PBA gare du midi brussels Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022Much to my surprise, the train was announced a long time before the usual 15 minutes. And even more surprisingly, we were actually allowed to board it.

It was quite empty this morning so we had plenty of space to spread out. Not the usual “crammed in like sardines” situation. I made myself comfortable and listened to my Hawkwind concert – the one that I had prepared on my way to Brussels on Wednesday.

And during the journey I did some more work on making notes on the Flatey Book and I could have done more than I did but to tell the truth, I had something of a “relax” for part of the journey.

At the Gare du Nord it took me a few minutes to find a metro ticket that worked, and then I was able to board probably the most crowded metro train that I’ve ever seen

place du 18 juin 1940 paris france Eric Hall photo January 2022At the Montparnasse metro station I came up into the Rue du Départ, plumping for the easier walk on level ground rather than up and down the steps in the labyrinth.

Behind where I come out of the bowels of the earth is the Boulevard Montparnasse and the Place du 18 Juin 1940. I wlked from down that way somewhere when I did my TRAVERSEE DE PARIS during the strike of public transport.

The walk in the opposite direction was quite straightforward and it’s quite depressing to think that I hadn’t thought about walking on the surface beforehand.

At the station it was much quieter than when I was here four weeks ago and I even managed to bag a comfortable seat with a power point.

84564 gec alstom regiolis gare montparnasse paris france Eric Hall photo January 2022No prizes for guessing which one was my train to Granville.

And even more so when the red lights came on with about 15 minutes to go before we were due to depart.

When the train was called, we trooped off to find out seats. Mine was right down at the far end of the train near the driver. And once again, the train was empty. 12 carriages and I reckon that the passengers on the train could have had a carriage each.

On the way home I listened to my concert again and read a book about a cavalry unit from Michigan during the American Civil War. And tried rather unsuccessfully to eat my sandwiches.

84559 gec alstom regiolis gare de Granville railway station Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022Our train was made up of two 6-car units and I’d been in the front unit. I hadn’t photographed that in Paris so I took a photo of it on my way out of the station at Granville.

First stop was at the Carrefour down the hill from the station. A pizza isn’t a pizza without mushrooms on it and they sell 250-gramme punnets at €0:99 so if I can’t go to LeClerc for my loose ones, I’ll pick them up here.

And that reminds me. I’ve run out of pizza dough so I need to make some more tomorrow.

The town was fairly quiet this afternoon with no tourists and I took the back way home anyway so I had even less to worry about – except for the ambulance that nearly ran me down in a back street. And then reversed back to have another go seeing as he had missed on the way past.

replacing bricks on wall rue des juifs Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022Going up the hill towards home dragging my suitcase behind me was something of a struggle and I was glad to stop halfway up and eat my butties.

There was also some work on the wall in the Rue des Juifs that I’d missed. Some of the capping bricks had crumbled away and they have now been replaced. I suppose that they will be back on Monday to point them.

Back here I had a coffee and collapsed into my chair without moving for a good couple of hours. All of this travelling is exhausting me and the final climb is killing me off, I reckon. And if they can’t find the problem at the hospital, I suppose that I’m going to be stuck like this.

Tea was some of those small breadcrumbed soya fillets with veg and potatoes. Really quite delicious. I needed that.

And now I’m off to bed. I’m absolutely whacked after my early start and my trek home. A good sleep will do me good, so just watch someone phone me up or something.

Wednesday 12th January 2022 – THAT’S NOT SOMETHING …

… that I want to be doing too often.

When I went to bed last night at about 21:15 I didn’t think that I would ever go off to sleep – tossing and turning around for quite a while.

But when the alarm went off at 04:00 I was fast asleep. However I was up and about quite quickly. There was even something on the dictaphone but all that I remember about last night was that there were 3 or 4 of us waiting to board a bus or something. When it came in, one of the guys stepped aside to let us on. We asked him why he wasn’t going to board. He replied that he was waiting for someone who hadn’t turned up yet.

That was the only thing that I can remember from last night.

By the time that it came to leaving the apartment I was champing at the bit to be off. I’d long-since done everything that needed doing.

fish processing plant port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022When I left the building I went to the viewpoint at the corner of the Boulevard des 2E et 202E de Ligne and the Boulevard Vaufleury.

In order to make sure that the camera was working correctly I took a photo of the fish processing plant. Plenty of light coming from the inside and a couple of refrigerated lorries parked outside so there must be plenty of work going on down there this morning, despite the mist that’s hanging over everywhere.

It’s been said that every “floating” job in the fishing industry creates four or five jobs on land and that’s easy to understand when you find out what happens in places like a fish processing plant.

One of the things that I would like to do is to actually go for a wander around inside but even if it were possible, they wouldn’t allow it in the middle of a pandemic.

The walk up to the station was done in darkness and solitude and to my surprise it wasn’t all that difficult. The Aranesp injections must be working.

Bombardier B82792 gare de Granville railway station Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022At the railway station my train was already in and at the platform waiting.

But I wasn’t interested in that right now. I had to track down the guard of the train. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that yesterday I couldn’t change the ticket for the train to Caen because with the train being cancelled, they had cancelled all of the tickets.

She wasn’t about as yet, but I made myself known to the driver and explained my situation. He’ll tell the guard as soon as she arrives and if it’s an issue she’ll come to see me.

Bombardier B82647 gare de Granville railway station Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022As it happens, the photo that I took just now wasn’t actually “my” train.

Well, it is in the sense that it’s not just a one-unit train but a two-unit train. The one you saw earlier was the rear half but I’m going to sit in the front half. There aren’t any reserved seats on this train and the farther you are from the entrance to the platform, the fewer people there are to bother you.

They give up the long walk and plonk themselves down closer to where they entered the platform.

The guard did come to see me and I explained my situation to her. I showed the guard the receipt for the purchase of the ticket and she waved me on with no issues.

The train was empty when we set off but by the time that it arrived in Caen it was heaving with people whom it had picked up on the way.

Bombardier Regio 2N 56629 gare st lazare paris France Eric Hall photo January 2022There was an hour’s wait at Caen due to having travelled on an earlier train, but the trip to Paris was pretty painless and I really enjoyed it.

It’s a Bombardier Regio 2N trainset and there are 447 of these rolling about on the French railway network. First hitting the rails in 2013, they are clean modern, comfortable and quick and I’d travel on these all day if I could. It’s almost enough to make me think about moving to the Caen area just to have the privilege of travelling regularly on them.

The 2N by the way stands for deux niveau, or “two decks”. These are double-decker units and didn’t the UK miss a trick when it heightened all of its infrastructure to allow the electrification of certain lines, and not heightening it enough for double-deckers.

One thing that was very important was that I snapped out of the deep, black depression in which I’d been for the last week or so. As soon as I boarded the train I made up a playlist of all of my favourite stomping Hawkwind numbers, the ones that I would play if I could lay my hands on a guitarist, a drummer and a violinist, because Simon House’s violin-playing on tracks such as STEPPENWOLF and DAMNATION ALLEY is absolutely phenomenal.

And then you have the full-length version of SPIRIT OF THE AGE and any one of another dozen that I could mention.

Mind you, the bloke in the seat in front didn’t like my singing much, so that was rather a shame for him, wasn’t it?

gare st lazare paris France Eric Hall photo January 2022The train arrived at Gare St Lazare on time and I had another nightmare occurrence trying to make the automatic machine read my ticket before I could leave the platform.

And in the ghostly, eerie, empty atmosphere of the railway station I could take a better photo than the one that I took last time. I’m not sure where everyone is becuase it’s usually packed. Maybe they heard that I was coming.

The trip from Paris St Lazare to Gare du Nord was straightforward – except that the ticket machine didn’t like a couple of my Metro tickets. It’s clearly not my lucky day to be travelling around, with all of these ticket issues that I seem to be having.

Thalys PBKA 4345 gare du nord paris France Eric Hall photo January 2022There wasn’t long to wait at the Gare du Nord for my train to Brussels, and that’s one of the reasons why I came this way today

It’s a horrible station to hang around in, huge, cold, draughty and no shelter anywhere. When I saw the 2-hour wait for a train had I come to Paris on my normal train, I had blanched.

We were quickly ushered on board and once everyone was ready we hurtled off towards Brussels. Non-stop, direct, no messing around in Lille. That’s another good reason to come this way.

To my surprise we pulled into Brussels 2 minutes early. I wandered off to the Carrefour to buy lunch for a change. There’s usually some stuff there that I can eat, like some of their delicious buns.

Once I’d dealt with the question of food I was lucky enough to find a train almost immediately for Brussels Schuman.

Justus lipsius council of ministers of the european union rue de la loi brussels belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022When I arrived at the station I went up to street level and there was the building where I had spent 12 happy years of my life.

Well, not exactly because I was around and about in other buildings at various times, but that’s the Head Office. The very best ever thing that I did with my life was to fight my way into there. I often muse about how had I remained living in Crewe I’d probably still be driving a taxi or a bus.

Although I didn’t have an appointment at the bank, they saw me more-or-less straight away and sorted out my bank card issues. I should receive a new card in the post “within a week”.

Back at Brussels Schuman we had one of those conversations that you can only ever have in Belgium
Our Hero “do the trains still go from here to Leuven?”
Assistant at Information Desk “I don’t know”.

class am 86 multiple unit 931 gare de bruxelles schuman railway station belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022In the end a ticket collector pointed me in the right direction. Why I was having difficulty is that they don’t terminate at Leuven these days but continue on to Landen, so it’s “Landen” on the destination boards.

The train was one of the old AM86 multiple units and it came into ths station. These aren’t particularly comfortable and are rather lightweight compared to some of the SNCB multiple units but they have had plenty of use and they keep on going. Of the 52 that came into service between 1986 and 1991, there are still 51 of them running around, mainly in the centre of the country.

When the train pulled in at Leuven I went to the supermarket at the back to pick up some stuff and walked down here to my room. No upgrade again but I’m not all that bothered.

It’s freezing here in Belgium so I’m glad that I brought my winter woollies. I’m going to need them.

First thing that I did when I arrived in my room was to crash out, and that’s no surprise.

Later on I found the strength from somewhere to struggle down to the supermarket for the rest of the shopping and then back here to make tea.

Now that’s done, I’m off to bed regardless of the fact that its only 21:30. And with the alarm set for 08:30 I’m going to sleep until I wake up. I’m surprised that I’ve kept going as long as I have, with 137% of my daily exercise total done too.

But one thing is for sure, and that is that I’m going to stomp all my way home to Granville on Saturday. Every since back in my early teens when I discovered Radio Luxembourg, music has been my only constant and steadfast companion and immersing myself deeply into it has sometimes been the only thing that has kept me going.

One thing that I need to do is to have a rethink about the direction in which my life is going because things aren’t working out right now. Somehow I need to pay much more attention to the inner me and that almost inevitably involves music.

On THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR I was happy spending most of my time listening to COLOSSEUM LIVE and ON THE ROAD by Traffic and things only changed (for the better or for the worse, depending on how you look at things and I know how I look at them) when I stopped listening and went to do something else.

Perhaps I ought to listen to more music. I dunno.

Thursday 31st October 2019 – I DIDN’T …

… manage to get out for my evening walk/run tonight.

Just for a change I’d managed to be ready quite early so that I could make the most of it, when Rosemary rang. One hour and 35 minutes we were on the phone and so that was really that. I can’t go for a walk at 22:00

And so, all in all, it was a good job that I’d had my long walk up to LIDL today.

Not this morning though because I was doing other things this morning. Like sleeping. I didn’t leave the bed until about 09:30 this morning.

And it wasn’t my fault either. There I was planning to go to bed and have a nice early night last night, and just as I was about to switch off the computer, then Hawkwind Live Chronicles came onto the playlist.

The best album I’ve heard for a long time too so I stayed awake to listen to it. All 1 hour and 25 minutes of it.

And as that ended, then Ocean by Eloy came on. The second-best album I’ve heard in a while. So I stayed up and listened to that.

What with one thing and another, it was eventually 03:05 when I switched off the computer and went to bed.

Mind you, it wasn’t completely wasted time because I’d done some work updating the web pages during that time.

A late start meant that everything else, like my shower, was late too. And before I hit the streets I had to organise the rail tickets for Belgium and print them all off so that I had them to hand.

First stop in town was at the bank. I needed to pay for what I purchased yesterday and as the money is going abroad it needed to be done quickly and, more importantly, correctly. Hence the bank.

Second stop was at the railway station. I know that I’m trying to go paperless these days but I would feel a lot better with the tickets actually in my hand, so I printed them off at the machine there.

Finally I made it t LIDL but I didn’t buy all that much. However they did have a range of vegan blackcurrant sorbet so in a gesture of solidarity I bought one. What I didn’t buy though was garlic! Sold out! And that’s a shock for me because a kitchen without any garlic isn’t a kitchen at all.

On the way back to the apartment I took a diversion via the docks to see the new boat. And she’s not a new boat at all but our old friend Aztec Lady back from her summer season at Svalbard I must remember one of these days to find out more about her voyages.

After lunch I tackled a job that I have been putting off for a week or so – and that was to freeze the carrots. Only just in time too because they were on the turn. But they are all peeled, diced, blanched and in the freezer.

And what was left (there were too many for the saucepan) I made a carrot and coconut soup, I was rather too extravagant with the powdered ginger and it’s rather overwhelmed it. Still, it’s in now and you can’t take it out.

While that was going on, I had a go at tidying the freezer. And there is tons of stuff in there. Enough pies to sink a ship for a start, and a second set of four frozen aubergine and kidney bean whatsits that I had forgotten that I had made. So for the next two months it’s pie one night and kidney bean and aubergine whatsit on another before I even start thinking about the rest of the meals.

Last night before going to bed I’d checked Caliburn’s battery. 14.0 volts and the “fully charged” light was on, so I had unplugged it. This morning when I checked it, it was showing 12.9 volts (which is good) and this afternoon, 6 hours later, it was still showing 12.9, so it’s not losing any significant charge. I coupled it up to Caliburn and he fired up immediately into life, so at least I can take him for his controle technique on Tuesday and be back on four wheels by the end of the week.

Having done that, I went for my afternoon walk. And on returning I found that somehow I have contrived to manage to lose my fitbit. And that’s before the new bracelet has arrived too, for which I pad a shed-load of money. No idea where I lost it either. It’s probably fallen out of my pocket while I was walking around, in which case it’s probably gone for good.

These days I seem to be making far too much of a habit of losing all my possessions. I’m not sure what’s going on but I definitely seem to be breaking up.

Back at the apartment I had a little doze for 10 minutes and regular readers of this rubbish will be the first to remark that this is the first time in about a week that I’ve crashed out. That’s definitely progress of some kind.

But once back on my feet I tackled a few of these marathon dictaphone entries. Five of them in fact and that might sound reasonable, but the mega 20-minute one is next on the list and I need to be on form for that. So that’s a job for tomorrow morning, I reckon.

Tea, was as promised, the burger on a bap. delicious it was too, even though it was interrupted by two young girls trick-or-treating. Luckily I have a sweetie-jar here so I was able to hand out some goodies. They aren’t getting their hands on my grapes though. That’s the one good thing that I’ve found about going out for small amounts of shopping several times per week – tha it means that I can buy several loads of grapes.

As I’d used the last of the coconut soya cream in the carrot soup, I went for the blackcurrant sorbet to go on my fruit salad, only to find that I’d forgotten to put it in the freezer. “That was an expensive way to get a storage container” I mused, but it hadn’t actually defrosted too far.

So Rosemary on the phone, and now bed-time. No guitar today, and no web-site amendment either. I’m falling behind again and I need to get on top of things. It’s too late for an early night too.

I really must get myself organised.

Sunday 27th October 2019 – DID YOU REMEMBER …

… to put your clocks back last night?

Back one hour for those of us living in the Real World and back 200 years for those of you living on that insignificant offshore island out there somewhere.

That isn’t anything that would bother me too much because most of what I have is automatic. So when I awoke this morning at … errr … 08:50 to find that it really was 08:50 and the automatic adjusters had done their stuff, I was immensely happy.

For once, I’d had a really good sleep.

It was … errr … somewhat later when I stuck my sooty foot out of bed and had the medication. And later still by the time that I had had my breakfast. But isn’t that what Sunday is all about? The one day each week where you can do nothing and not regret it.

It reminds me of a famous quote from “Gunsmoke” which went something along the lines of “Sunday is the one day of the week a man can get up at noon and sit around with his boots off without anybody hollering at him about it “. Sentiments with which I concur wholeheartedly.

First thing that I did this morning (or what was left of it) was SHOCK! HORROR! some tidying up. The bedroom was looking rather cluttered so i actually put some stuff away for a change.

A friend was on the internet too so we had a little chat for a while seeing as it was Sunday.

Just as I was about to go to lunch, someone else came on line. She’s a techy, savvy person who works as a professional web designer and investigator, and had been referred to me by a friend.

She had a look at my site with various tools and although there might be one or two little issues here and there, the coding that I did the other day works fine and is visible as it is supposed to be all (the odd issue about Adobe Flashplayer here and there) across every browser and operating system, even Safari and MAC.

That is something that has pleased me greatly.

So after lunch I had a couple of things to do and then went for a walk outside. I took the longer route around the headland seeing as I had missed my promised morning walk. It’s somewhat tough clambering up and down the steep path and stairs but I need to push myself onwards and, of course, upwards.

Tea was another pizza – just as delicious as earlier in the week, and followed by the rest of the rice pudding. That was good too and I enjoyed it very much.

And for the evening walk, I pushed myself along into a run again and did a couple of hundred metres before I had to slow down. But that is only positive because, as I said before, there were times with this illness when I could barely walk.

And I’ll keep at it too. I’ll see if I can’t get up something like I did when I was running every night for miles 25 years ago, although there aren’t the facilities here. In any case, I intend to grow old disgracefully.

As for work though, I’ve made a start on transcribing the dictaphone entries. But you can all calm down for I am a long way from anything interesting, controversial or salacious. At a rate of 7 entries per day (which is what I did today although judging by the size of a few of them, the rate will end up at much less than that) it will take me a good few months to catch up with everything. You will all have died of boredom long before then.

So now I’m listening to Hawkwind Live Chronicles, magnificent album that it is, and about to continue the work on updating my website, now that I know that it’s working properly.

Not that I’m going to be here long though. I have a meeting tomorrow so I need my beauty sleep.

Tuesday 17th September 2019 – I’M HARD-PRESSED …

… to remember what it was that I did today. I must have done something or other I suppose, so I’ll have to dig deep.

One thing that I do know is that it should have been an early night, but totally destroyed by a wicked attack of cramp just as I was going to bed. And that was really my lot unfortunately as far as that was concerned.

But I did end up going to sleep eventually – at least until about 05:30 when I was awakened by yet another bad attack of cramp.

Somewhere during the night though I must have been in some kind of consciousness because there’s an entry on the dictaphone – 00:02:05 of it too and I would ordinarily listen to it to see where I was and who I was with, but I’m listening to some Hawkwind right now.

What is exciting about this album – or, rather, the original digital track – is that due to “contractual difficulties”, the tracks featuring lyrics and vocals by sci-fi writer Michael Moorcock (who I particularly enjoyed whenever he fronted Hawkwind) were omitted from the original vinyl album. But on the digital master tapes they are all there in all their glory.

On a rare night off from work, I saw this concert at the Free Trade Hall in Hanley. This was live Hawkwind at its finest and I remember being totally overwhelmed by it all.

As usual, I took the girls to school and then went shopping for a few things. And to my mailbox out on the River du Chute road to see if Strider’s licence tags had arrived. And I was in luck too. So they are on his licence plate and we are all legal. Insurance, safety and licence. What more could any vehicle require?

Up at the shop I hung around for a while, handling a few of the customers (I’m funny that way) then at lunchtime I came back home. A few things to do, some packing to organise, a shower to clean myself up, some lunch, and then I made a curry.

Par-boiled some potatoes and carrots and while they were doing, I fried some onions in olive oil with cumin, coriander and turmeric. When they had browned I added the garlic and mixed it all round.

Once that was looking nice, I added some mushrooms and peppers and had them thoroughly fried. And then tipped in the par-boiled potatoes and carrots. Add some coconut milk and a vegan stock cube, and leave it to simmer for 15 minutes. Finally some bulghour to thicken it out.

Up at the shop I loitered around again.

But here’s a thing. The car fairy has been to visit.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall the ancient 1-tonne Ford with the big aluminium body that has been laid up at the garage since 2000 without turning a wheel since.

Well, today it mysteriously disappeared as if by magic and it’s miraculously turned up here back at the house. I wonder how that happened.

My curry went down really well tonight. Our little visitor left the table with a wiped-clean plate and told me that it was the best meal that she had eaten here.

Mind you, I’m not sure whether that says more about the curry or more about the rest of the meals that I have cooked while she’s been here.

This evening I’ve been downloading again. First off is Every Which Way. That’s an album by a group of musicians put together by Brian Davison, the former drummer in The Nice. Rare as hen’s teeth and my album is totally worn out after a frenetic spell in the late 1970s and early 1980s. A couple of tracks on there are really good.

The second download though breaks a habit of a recent lifetime in that I don’t actually own the album. But it appeared on the list right after the previous one above and I heard it by accident. And it so impressed me that I downloaded it and I’ll find a CD or a vinyl in early course.

I’m sure that very few – if any – people reading this post will have heard of Gay and Terry Woods. They were a couple of Irish folk singers who were invited into the first incarnation of Steeleye Span by Ashley Hutchings. Although they performed on the album “Hark The Village Wait” they didn’t stick around and for a brief period performed as a duo with various eclectic musicians.

It’s all just a faint glimmer in the back of my mind from 1971 and I hadn’t really any idea that they had released an album. But here it is, in all its glory.

This evening I finished off the lemon swirl vegan mousse, performed a computer back-up and I’m ready to hit the road tomorrow.

But part of the back-up involved the dictaphone files and I had a listen to the famous recording – all 00:08:02 of it – of the nightmare that I had the other night. And I’m astonished by the depth of emotion that I spat out. Like I said at the time, I thought that I had put all of that behind me a long time ago.

But apparently not. And that fills me with dismay. Who knows what other demons are lurking in the shadows waiting to be unleashed? That’s the bit that’s filling me full of dread for the future.

But then, as Alfred Whitehead once famously wrote, “It is the business of the future to be dangerous”.

Sunday 15th September 2019 – I MISSED …

… an exciting day today up in Grand Falls. Apparently they were having a drag racing afternoon.

Nothing more exciting than watching a bunch of men dash round a town while dressed in women’s clothes, but I had other fish to fry unfortunately and I was quite disappointed to have let the opportunity pass me by.

In fact I was out near Meductic moving furniture. Zoe has, as I mentioned earlier, bought herself a little house and she doesn’t have much furniture, but someone was disposing of a clean two-seater bed settee that transforms into a double bed and that will be just the thing.

And so having emptied out Strider, we set off for Zoe’s where she and a friend clambered aboard and then we all shot off southwards towards Fredericton.

Putting the bed in the back of Strider was the work of a moment and it was soon strapped in place. Back at Zoe’s, we unloaded the sofa and then I came home. Totally whacked. I just can’t do things like this any more.

Mind you, I don’t know why, because it’s not as if I had much of a difficult night. In bed comparatively early and apart from a brief foray down the corridor to ride the porcelain horse, disturbing our overnighters on the way, and a few interruptions to record things on the dictaphone (and I wonder what they are?) I had the kind of lie-in about which I have only been able to dream just recently.

09:00 when I finally surfaced, and just loitered around until it was time to go and deal with Zoe.

This afternoon, I’ve had a shower and, would you believe, a haircut, and I look almost human. As well as that, Rachel was having a marathon clothes-washing session and I’m now up to date with all clean clothes ready to leave here Wednesday morning for Montreal to clean out my storage locker and hopefully to go for a meal with Josee.

But having seen the fuel in Strider evaporate before my very eyes, I’ve been searching on the internet with Darren and we have finally found a performance chip which claims inter alia to offer an 8mpg fuel improvement.

And I tell you what – that if I could get an extra 8mpg out of Strider I will really be impressed. So tomorrow I shall be on the case.

For tea tonight we had baked potato – the carnivores with salmon and we vegans with a bean medley. Quite delicious and prepared with my own fair hands. And if I can find the time tomorrow, I’m going to make a curry.

But I’ve been a busy boy this evening. I’ve tracked down the complete digital tracks to two more albums that I own. The first one is Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy by Brian Eno. That was his second solo album after Roxy Music and was such a surprising album that it left me speechless when I first heard it, and that’s not something that happens every day, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall.

But it’s one of those albums that grow on you quite quickly and it’s always been in my top 100 albums out of the couple of thousand that I own.

The second one though is an album that means a great deal to me and for many reasons too.Warrior On The Edge Of Time features work that probably represents Michael Moorcock’s apogee as a science fiction writer, and several of the lyrics, adapted from works by Shelley and Wordsworth and set to Hawkwind’s space-rock music will penetrate deep into your bones.
“The golden void will speak to me
“Denying my reality
“lose my body, lose my mind
“blow like wind, I flow like wine
“Down a corridor of flame
“Will I fly so high again?”
Yes, what wouldn’t I give to be able to write meaningful lyrics like that after some of the things that I have done?

The album was thoroughly panned by the critics in the same was that A Passion Play was, and for the same reason too – that the critics didn’t understand what the musicians were trying to achieve.

The Melody maker wrote that Moorcroft’s poetry was delivered “with all the emotion of Davros being exterminated by renegade Daleks”, totally overlooking the fact that this was precisely the effect that Moorcroft and Brock wanted.

And when Lemmy wrote that ” ‘Opa-Loka’ was a lot of f***ing rubbish”, what he really meant to say that he didn’t play the bass line on it. It transpired much later that with Lemmy off on one of his little jaunts playing Hell’s Angels, Dave Brock refused to hang around and wait but played the bass line himself.

It’s quite true that Hawkwind has never ever recorded an album on which I have liked every track from start to finish, but “Warrior On The Edge Of Time” will be up there with the best of them.

But it has much more of a personal significance to me too. When the album was released I was dating Jackie Marshall. She worked at the Nantwich Library on Saturdays and used to scan the new rock albums that arrived, secrete them in a drawer, smuggle them out for me to record and then take them back next week. This particular album, she bought me for my birthday and inscribed a beautiful little message on the album cover which meant quite a lot to me – and still does.

But her parents hated me with a passion (like I said, I was a different person in those days) and so our fate was destined to unwind.

Strangely enough, I was driving a coach around North Shropshire a few years later and needed some cash, so on my lunch break I called in at Barclay’s Bank in Whitchurch. Who should be working there behind the counter as cashier but the aforementioned?

I had the briefest of moments to exchange pleasantries like you do, but not enough time to chat, so I determined that at the next opportunity I would go back.

And so I did – and on a couple of occasions too – but I never saw her again. We’ve often talked about TOTGA – The One That Got Away – but that particular girl was from a very different time and a very different era. Jackie was TOTGA from quite another epoch in my life and is probably the original one from which all standards are made.

Sometimes I wonder whatever happened to her.

Having had a play around on the bass, I’m ready for bed. The house is as quiet as the grave with everyone having retired and I suppose that I should really badger off to. But I’ve found the digital track to another album and I’ve made a start to re-record it.

But I’ll tell you all about that in the morning.

Saturday 30th June 2018 – WE HAD ANOTHER …

… early start today.

But this one meant business. Ulli was taking Hans off on a raft ride for his birthday and they had a long way to go. So we barely had time to exchange pleasantries before we all went our separate ways.

But I’d already been on my travels. Back on a job where I should have been retired but was still there. And instead of dealing with the post that was coming in, I was just filing it away un-dealt-with. And regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we’ve had several very similar travels to this one over the years.

For my part, I went off to the big shopping centre down the road. The big DiY place opens early so I went there to look for a German plug for the slow cooker.

A German plug will fit into e French socket but not the other way round, so to solve my cooking issues I’ll fit a German plug for mow. What I’ll do in the long term is to get a three-hole French extension and fit a German plug to that

I was in luck too. They had just the plug that I wanted, and for all of €1:89 too. So I changed the plug in the car park and now we are back in business.

There’s an IKEA just around the corner too so I went in there for breakfast.

But not breakfast in bed, like some lucky people.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that the other day Liz and I went to the IKEA at Caen. But they didn’t have enough of some stuff and they had sold out of some others. And so I went round and stocked up with what I had missed.

And it was cheaper than in Caen too.

I had to try a couple of supermarkets before I found a baguette, and then I headed off for the motorway. And we had an element of confusion yet again as The Lady Who Lives In The Satnav failed to recognise a grade-separated route.

having stopped for half an hour to eat my butties, I arrived at June and Dave’s at about 14:30. They live at Memmingen and June has just had a very major operation, so I was looking forward to seeing her and seeing how she was.

Catherine, her daughter, lives nearby so I went to pick her up and the four of us had a vegan pasta and a really good chat for hours.

June’s son had been a sound engineer for several rock bands, including Hawkwind and had played bass in several bands. All of his equipment was at June’s house and she had never heard his bass, a Fender Jaguar, played. And so I duly obliged.

Later that evening I took Catherine home and came back to June’s where I bedded down for the night in their guest room.

And the bed here is beautifully comfortable. I’m looking forward to this.

Monday 7th May 2018 – EVEN AS WE SPEAK …

… there’s a pot of lentils, carrots and peas simmering away in the slow cooker. That’s for tea tomorrow night with some onions, garlic and tinned potatoes because, believe me, tomorrow is going to be a very long day.

And just for a change, there’s some good news. And regular readers of this rubbish will know that it’s a long time since I’ve had any. I was checking the route of the 712 bus – like you do … "like one of you does" – ed … to find that its final stopping point is … errr … Brussels North Station.

So why get out at Lille, struggle up the road to Lille Europe TGV station, buy a ticket, wait for a train etc when I can be half-way there in what I hope will be a comfortable seat? So first thing this morning I had another attack at the website and now I’m booked all the way through.

The bus arrives in Brussels at 21:00 (in principle) and I’ve still 20 or so miles to go. So heaven alone knows what time I’ll be arriving. But at least I’ll be sitting down all the way and not having to struggle across Paris with my suitcase.

Even better, talking to Liz and discussing my trip and bewailing the bus issue to Avreanches from here, and she has volunteered to drive me. Isn’t it nice to have some really good friends? As I have said … "on many occasions" – ed … I don’t have many friends, but it’s quality that counts not quantity, and I have the best friends in the world.

Getting out of bed was difficult this morning at 06:30 but I did manage it. And after a leisurely start to the day I had a little relax and then set to work.

I’m having some kind of fridge issues right now. It seems that somewhere on my travels I had left the freezer compartment door open and it had frosted up so I couldn’t open it. No more ice cubes. So it’s high time that I defrosted it.

And here’s my patent method for defrosting the fridge –

  1. Unplug the fridge
  2. empty the aforementioned
  3. put aforementioned in bath
  4. make a coffee

For a change I walked down into town at lunchtime to buy one of the baguettes that I like. And having made my butties I went back outside to sit on the wall. It’s been a good while since I’ve done that, but it really was a beautiful day today, although the sea mist meant that vision was somewhat restricted.

This afternoon I had a little … errr … relax followed by a session on the guitar and a good chat with Ingrid. She’s feeling a little better at the moment and that is certainly good news.

beautiful sunset granville manche normandy franceTea was a stuffed pepper seeing as I had a pepper left, and then my walk around the walls.

Just at the right time too, because I was able to watch yet another glorious sunset. So glorious in fact that I have set up this photo as my desktop wallpaper for the next while or so

We’ve been having quite a few of these just recently as regular readers of this rubbish will recall. Makes a change from the miserable, gloomy winter and spring that we’ve had to date.br clear=”both”>

beautiful sunset granville manche normandy franceNot being in a very great hurry, I stayed out there for quite a while and was rewarded for my patience by catching the final glimmer of the sun as it slowly sank into the sea.

And this turned out nicely too, didn’t it?

There’s no doubt whatever that I’ve picked an absolutely beautiful spot to come for my retirement, here on this rock overlooking the sea.

crowds on the beach granville manche normandy franceBut sounds of raucous laughter away in the distance told me that I wasn’t the only one out enjoying the sunset.

There was some movement on one of the small beaches away in the distance and as I still had the big zoom lens fitted, I could take a photo and see what was going on.

A huge, heavy telephoto lens that’s difficult to hold steady and in the low light of the evening on a long exposure means that it’s slightly blurred, but even so, you can still see the crowds of people down there.

I was half-expecting a blast of “Hurry On Sundown” to come filtering up to me.

I’m back in the apartment now, and once my lentils are cooked (and they take a while) I’ll be making my tea for tomorrow night and then going to bed.

As I said, it’s going to be a long day tomorrow.

Wednesday 21st March 2018 – SPRING IS SPRUNG

The grass is riz
I wonder where de boidies is
De boid is on de wing
But dat’s absoid
I taut de wing was on de boid!

In fact it was such a nice morning this morning that I went for a walk.

Mind you, I had had something of a walk during the night. I was in one of my 3D worlds as a character and it was all totally weird and surreal. So much so that I was rather disappointed when the alarm went off.

Dawn was breaking as I stuck my head over the parapet – the nights are getting shorter. We’ll be putting the clocks forward soon if I remember correctly.

And after the usual morning performance and with it looking so nice, I put the bread that should have been today’s back in the freezer and went out for a baguette.

And instead of going straight down the hill into town I went the very long way round, out past the headland and down the footpath.

napoleon fortifications pointe du roc granville manche normandy franceWe’ve seen lots of evidence of World War II fortifications around here but the area was heavily fortified in the days of Napoleon and there are plenty of remains of 19th Century defences.

I’m not quite sure what this might have been but it’s certainly something to do with it all.

And the footpath that we are on is presumably the old road before the new one just above was built. I need to find out so much more about local history.

joly france granville manche normandy franceThat wasn’t the only excitement either.

The passenger ferry to the Iles de Chausey still runs in the winter for the inhabitants, and as I went round the bend there she was, the Joly France, just setting off.

I can’t understand why it goes out to the islands in the morning and comes back in the evening. For the benefit of the islanders it ought to be the other way round.

And if you want to know the definition of bone-idleness and couldn’t care less (or je m’en foutisme as they say around here) I went as I said I would round to the Marité to see what was the programme for the season.

“It’s all on the website. Look there” said the guy in charge. No wonder there’s a recession on when people come armed with a pile of folding stuff and they are told effectively to clear off.

So armed with a baguette from the boulangerie I came back from my walk and made myself a coffee I had earned it.

After lunch, with the home-made mayonnaise that seems now to have emulsified, I did a few things such as worked on a few photos and a session on the guitar where I seem finally to have mastered the Paul Rudolph/Adrian Shaw composite bass line to “Damnation Alley” from the album Quark, Strangeness and Charm.

medieval walled city granville donville les bains manche normandy franceBack out this afternoon for my usual walk. I have to keep up the pressure and anyway, as I said, it was a glorious day.

There was a nice view along the cliff past the walled town out to Donville les Bains and another one of the many miserable ruins that I visited while looking for a place to live.

Sunlight was just a little bright though – bright enough to bring out the hordes of walkers who don’t have anything better to do than get in my way.

digger working on lock gates port de granville harbour manche normandy franceRound at the quayside the big crane that we saw yesterday has now gone. And I couldn’t see what it had done.

But the digger was back digging away at the foot of the wall at the harbour entrance where the new gate is going to be. It’s supposed to be installed by now but they aren’t half taking their time about it.

They need to hurry up and get some ships in

Tea was more vegetables, vegan cheese sauce and vegan sausages, followed by rice pudding. And delicious it all was too. It’s certainly working well. And then we had the evening walk where my mate the black cat was waiting for his evening stroke.

But here’s a thing. My evening route takes about 27% of my day’s activity, so leaving here at 77% I expected it to be at 104% when I returned. But no it wasn’t – it was on 96%. So I don’t know what is happening here. I had to go for another lap around the block.

But next time that I’m out with someone so equipped, we’ll synchronise our fitbits and see what’s happening.

Thursday 8th March 2018 – YOU MISSED …

… all of the excitement this morning.

coach place d'armes granville manche normandy franceMuch of the Pointe de la Roc is out of bounds to heavy vehicles, and coaches are only authorised to use a short stretch of the road that leads to the big car park.

But that didn’t stop this driver, and his mate in the coach behind thinking that the rules don’t apply to them. And they duly came up here and then tried to negotiated the corner into the Place d’Armes.

You have probably noticed that the registration number of the bus is “75” – a Paris number. And that explains everything. Rules in the Provinces don’t apply to Parisians as we know. They are far superior to be bothered by that sort of thing

coach pointe du roc granville manche normandy franceAnd it was quite amusing to watch the drivers as they were suddenly confronted by the roadworks here.

One coach managed just about to negotiate the tight corner after many vicissitudes, but the other was well and truly wedged and it took the driver about 20 minutes to extract himself.

I did at one stage go over to the driver to ask him if he would like me to manoeuvre the coach for him, but I was met with the kind of greeting that would have been considered out-of-place in the fo’c’sle of an Australian whaler.

But he eventually extracted himself, turned round (narrowly avoiding missing a couple of parked cars) and then disappeared the wrong way down the one-way street.

I had my early night, but I didn’t have much of a relax though because I was tossing and turning throughout most of it. But that didn’t stop me goign on one or two of my voyages.

We started off with one of our 3D characters (and when you have your own 3D characters coming with you on a nocturnal ramble you know that you have problems) having to choose a new ski suit for a holiday and ended up after many more vicissitudes choosing a lemon – coloured one. And simple as that sounds, you have no idea just how long that took.
And from there we moved into the realm of realism (such as it might be) with my father telling me about one of his former colleagues (who actually drove my schoolkids about when I had my taxis) who was selling a Ford Cortina 2000E at the local auctions – for a reserve of £4800. Of course that was way out of my price and so I wasn’t planning to go, but a series of events conspired to have me in Whitchurch at the time of the auction and so I ended up there just in time to see him list the vehicle at a reserve price of £4080. But turning into the car park I had run over a glass bottle in Caliburn, and the tyre was punctured and a ball joint damaged. This man told me that he’d look at it after the auction as he was now running a small tyre business. So the bidding started on his car and was very sluggish round the £2000 mark, when suddenly it took off and went well over the reserve. And at the end of the auction the man told me that he now had to go to a funeral – but I shouldn’t go to Garage X because they weren’t as good as Garage Y – which coincidentally was the one to which I went anyway. He went off to look for his hearse, which he couldn’t find, and his wife told me what a marvellous person he was, to which I replied that I knew all about him. I ended up (I’m not sure how) with Caliburn at Garage Y (which bore a surprising resemblance to my father’s workshop) where the puncture was repaired. But I wanted to fit the wheel, to which he hummed and haa’d because he was planning to close up and didn’t have the time. But eventually I wa son my way and it was now really late. I was obliged to crash out in Caliburn at the side of the road, thinking to myself that seeing as how I’d just got back together with Nerina (it was all happening last night, wasn’t it?) what would she think about me having promised to live a more regular lifestyle, and being out at night like this. So being crashed out like this, I was rudely awakened by a police patrol (reminiscences of Switzerland a few years ago) for a “control” and I could in my befuddled state only find half of the papers that I needed. I had to admit that while I had the insurance certificate, I didn’t have the insurance policy and that led to some harsh words and difficult moments.

No wonder that I was thoroughly exhausted this morning after all of that during the night.

After the usual start to the morning and the Thursday shower, I postponed my trip to the shops seeing as it was totally pouring down. But by about 10:00 I could see some blue sky in the distance heading this way so I took to the streets, having my encounter with the coach drivers on the way.

LIDL was the port of call, and there was nothing special to tempt me. But the place was heaving – a vast contrast to last Thursday in the snow. Four of the tills were open but we still had to queue for ages to be served. That’s why I like to go early.

grima port de granville harbour manche normandy franceOn the way out I’d noticed a load of stuff piled up at the quayside and so I reckoned that Grima was due in.

And I was right too. There she was on the way back, having the sacks of gravel or whatever they were hoisted aboard, giving her something of a list to starboard.

I hope that they had corrected that before she sailed.

Back here I had my coffee and then a little … errr … relax, before another session on the bass. ANd I ws working out a couple of Groundhogs and Hawkwind numbers – so intently tht I was surprised by how quickly the time passed.

After lunch, I was once more … errr … away with the fairies (I really don’t knwo what’s the matter with me these days) but pulled myself out of it and went for a walk instead.

large boat on the move granville manche normandy franceThere was quite a number of people out there this afternoon, even though the weather wasn’t the nicest. School holidays, apparently.

But I was distracted by movement down on the quayside just here. It seems that one of the large boats is being moved – and moved by road too. It’s a huge thing and they were having to take all kinds of special precautions.

Still, it all adds to the excitement of living here.

For tea tonight I had a frozen potato and lentil curry out of the freezer. And delicious it was too.

port de granville harbour manche normandy franceAnd that took me nicely round to my evening walk.

Cool and a little windy, with another marvellous view of Jersey, and also a marvellous view of the harbour here under the lights. You can see in this pic that when the gates are up and the water isn’t high enough to admit boats, there’s a couple of chequered poles visible, presumably to warn ships not to enter.

And there were crowds of people at the bar tonight. I wonder what’s going on there.

So if I’m lucky, I’ll have another early night. I’ll leave you to digest this … errr …. 1246 words.

Wednesday 7th March 2018 – AND IN KEEPING …

… with my previous efforts just recently, I have emulated my namesake the mathematician and done three fifth of five eights of … errr … nothing.

So after finally managing to have an early (that is – before midnight) night last night, I went off with the fairies to what seemed to be a Virtual Reality word somewhere. Clearly the events of the past few days have been getting to me. And the highlight (if you can call it that) of this world was being arrested by the police and being on the end of some customary police interrogation that made me unable to walk for the next three days. I’ll have to stop reading this book about Canada in the 1930s, won’t I?

We had the usual performance this morning and then I was sidetracked as I ended up speaking to someone in the USA for 90 minutes or so on the internet. It was about work so I don’t begrudge the time of course, especially if there might be some folding stuff in the offing, but it always happens at the wrong time, doesn’t it?

I was sufficiently distracted after that that I had a change of practice and had a practice on the bass guitar. Something that I usually do late in the afternoon but today it was here and now. And for some reason or another not only did the bass line to Led Zeppelin’s “Communications Breakdown” come back into my head after an absence of 40-odd years, I found myself playing the bass line to Hawkwind’s “Damnation Alley” and that goes back even farther in time.

And not only that, I seem to have regained the flexibility in my left little finger and I can now hold down the string with that. And that’s progress.

But I’ve now worked out why five-string bass guitars have come into fashion. I’m sure that I played the bass line to several tracks in the past – “Born To Be Wild” and “Locomotive Breath” spring immediately to mind – in the same key as I do now, but I find that I run out of notes at the bottom end. It’s maybe because my hearing has changed as I’ve become older and I’m playing it an octave lower than I did in the 70s. And if that’s true, it probably explains why all the bassists of my age and older are now using five-string basses, so they have an extra range of notes.

After lunch I did my best to fight off the temptation to close my eyes for a short while, but I wasn’t successful. But I dragged myself out after 10 minutes and went for a walk. It was nice weather outside and quite a few people were about, but there was nothing exciting going on.

Tea was, as promised, the falafel and vegetables with a vegan cheese sauce. And it was rather … errr … disappointing. In my haste I forgot to test the vegetables before I put them on the plate and to my dismay I found that they weren’t cooked enough. But you can’t recook them after you have smothered them in cheese sauce so I had to make the best of it.

It was another beautiful evening out there with the lights of Jersey glowing in the distance again. Visibility has been impressive at night this last couple of days.

So an early night again tonight – it’s my walk to the shops tomorrow.

Thursday 18th January 2018 – IT WASN’T …

… such a good, exciting day today as it was yesterday.

It started to go wrong when I went to bed last night and found that, once more, I couldn’t sleep. Tossing and turning for much of the night and waking up bolt-upright part-way through.

Mind you, I had been on my travels during the night but you don’t want me to tell you about them. You’re probably eating your tea or something. It’s what probably awoke me too.

When the alarm went off I managed to crawl out of bed at a reasonable time thereafter, and after the medication and breakfast I had a shower. And SHOCK! HORROR! I did a machine-load of washing, including the bedclothes. Tonight I’ll have brand-sparkling-clean covers on the bed and won’t that be luxury?

But no chance of going out. The rain was back, and in spades too. I really didn’t fancy the walk up to LIDL in this kind of weather.

I’m not really sure where the morning went, because I don’t recall doing anything much. It wasn’t as if the washing took all that much time. It was actually 14:00 when I noticed that it was lunchtime.

After lunch, checking my e-mails, I found that I had had a reply from the French Agence Nationale des Titres Sécurisés. I had sent them an e-mail to ask them where I could find the two documents that I need for Tuesday. They sent me a link, but that wasn’t the answer and I had to spend a good hour or so exploring the site before I found them.

They are not at all called what the Doctor told me that they were called at all, but they correspond to the description. And so I downloaded them.

And then they needed to be printed.

It took a while to sort out this mains connection but it seems to work now, which is good news. But the next issue is trying to make the thing function. The drivers aren’t loaded onto this laptop and I don’t seem to have brought the disk with me.

And so I had to track down an installation disk image on-line and download it – only 255mb of it and that took an age. And then set it up.

And much to my surprise it actually worked and I was able to print off the documents.

While it was doing all of that I did some more sorting out of papers and all of those are ready for a good examination in due course.

digger working in tidal port de granville manche normandy franceThe weather had cleared up by now so I went for my little walk around the headland again.

And there’s yet more excitement in the port today. Part of the port area is tidal and this is where some of the yachts and smaller fishing boats tie up, and ground out at low tide.

But there’s a digger out there just now working away. On what, I have no idea but it’s interesting to say the least. I shall have to go back tomorrow for another look.

Back here, i made myself a coffee. But I didn’t drink it though. I crashed right out and was gone for over an hour. A really deep sleep too and I felt quite feeble when I awoke.

Not too feeble though to have a session on the bass guitar again. And this time, one of the things that I was working on was “Orgone Accumulator” – the Hawkwind track that I played when I was with Mike Allen and one or two others whose names I forget. After all, it is over 40 years ago.

For tea I tried some pasta and managed to eat it all although it took some time.

But the walk was a bit of a disaster. I hadn’t gone 400 yards before the heavens opened and I was drenched to the skin. NO point in risking double-pneumonia so I came back home.

So here’s hoping for a better night, and a better day tomorrow. But at the moment I don’t feel like it at all.

Tuesday 27th January 2015 – I’M POSSIBLY BEING A LITTLE OPTIMISTIC …

… about finishing the landing by the weekend. It’s been slow going today.

Mind you, it hasn’t helped in that I had a lot of housekeeping to do here this morning. I ran out of both kindling and logs, and the compost bucket needed emptying too. Doing that latter task, I found that the tie that’s holding up the collapsed apple tree had come apart and so that needed sorting out.

Eventually, I managed to start to attack the landing and Shock! Horror! all of the plasterboard is on the wall now. And not only that, the wiring is all tidied up and the light switches are in place.

I’m not going to post a photo of it though, because it’s a mess. What didn’t help the artistic impression was that I had spent an hour carefully carving a piece of plasterboard to fit perfectly and to take the pattress for the light switches, and then I dropped it from a height right onto the edge of the steps upon which I was standing, and knocked a huge lump out. Never mind, I can fill it but it isn’t pretty.

I had to put loads of battens in place too for the plasterboard, and some of the wood took a while to find. My aim to have it all done by lunchtime was thus totally missed. It was 17:00 by the time I had done all of the plasterboarding.

I’ve fitted the rails for the suspended ceiling – and that wasn’t easy either. And even though it was after 18:00 and knocking-off time, I fitted the symbolic first piece of ceiling. It was 18:35 when I finally made it up here. What helps about working late is having really good music to listen to. I’ve made it round to Hawkwind’s Astounding Sounds; Amazing Music, which features, inter alia, two of the most magnificent rock music tracks ever recorded – “Reefer Madness” and “Steppenwolf”.

As well as that, as I have said before … "and you’ll say again" – ed … that Ryobi Plus One percussion screwdriver is immense – it pushes 6×100 screws in like nobody’s business.

Tomorrow I’ll be fitting the rest of the ceiling and putting the first coat of varnish on. And if I have some sun (which isn’t likely, I have to say) I’ll be cutting the end pieces for the plasterboard runs and seeing if I’ll have the time to fit them.

It does however occur to me that in order to fit the end pieces on the stud wall between the landing and the bedroom I’ll need to have the bedroom door in position and the hinge lets cut out. That’s going to take a while and will be the big reason why I’ll miss my target of this weekend for the landing to be completed.