Tag Archives: heavy snow

Wednesday 30th January 2019 – IT’S SNOWING!!!!

snow place d'armes granville manche normandy franceAlthough you’ve seen this heading before this winter, you’ve seen it in relation to Canada, the Auvergne and Belgium. But this afternoon, it’s been snowing here!

And I’m not talking about a light dusting for five minutes either. Round about 13:00 the heavens opened up and we had a right pasting for a couple of hours and it looked quite impressive.

I thought that it was going to stick too but it stopped, the weather warmed up a couple of degrees and all of the snow disappeared.

st helier jersey granville manche normandy franceThat’s a shame too. because tonight, there’s a clear sky, millions of stars and you could see for miles.

This photo, albeit rather blurred because it was hand-held on a very slow exposure in a wind, is of St Helier in Jersey.

The lights are, would you believe, about 60 kms – that’s 35 miles – away. And you won’t have this kind of light and this kind of photo in many weather conditions.

night montmartin breville granville manche normandy franceThis photo is a little closer to home.

That’s Montmartin-sur-Mer, Breville-sur-Mer and Bréhal-Plage. Montmartin, on the extreme left, is about 25 kms away.

So, in other words, it is probably going to be really cold tonight and had the snow hung around, it would have been a good base to really start the winter.

Despite my depressing posting of yesterday, I’ve had a better day today. A good sleep of at least 5 hours. There was a vague wave of tiredness round about 17:00 but I managed to fight it off.

And a little ramble or two too during the night. There were four of us, me, my father, the son of the woman whom he married in the 1970s and someone else. And the car was his red Mark III Cortina. We’d all been out for a drive somewhere and ended up in a small town somewhere. We were all hungry so decided to go for food. My father and his friend wanted to go somewhere special but I was just interested in something simple so Paul and I went to a chip shop for a portion of chips. The chip shop owner was a bad-tempered, miserable kind of guy, the chips were over-cooked and the portions were disgracefully small. We took them outside to eat them, and noticed that there were two young girls, one of them an Asian girl, chatting to my father and his friend in the car, and then they climbed in. So Paul and I made a few ribald comments about what was going to be going on. Shortly afterwards Paul and I were with a couple of people and the subject of these girls came up. I made some kind of suggestion about their professional activities, but the other people told my that my opinion was far from being the case and that they were really nice and friendly girls really and certainly not the kind of girls that I was suggesting.
Although I was awake at about 05:30, there was still enough time to go back to sleep before the alarm. And off on another voyage too. Ad I was with either Alison or Jackie – I can’t remember now just who it was. And she was clambering about up the side of a slope and on top of a hill and I was taking photographs. But when I looked at them, they hadn’t come out ptoperly but more like rather jerky poor-quality *.gif moving images. I was disappointed by that because it meant that either the camera was playing up or the computer was playing up. But either way, I was worried that I had lost all of the images.

After breakfast I had a very relaxing morning doing a mega-back-up of the new computer seeing as I hadn’t done one since I’d bought it. That took some time, what with one thing or another.

Another thing that I did was to sort out some more music for the bass guitar. And to print it out too. I need to organise myself so much better than I do.

Lunch was rather later than usual, and I spent the time watching the snowfall. Like I said, a shame that it all petered out.

This afternoon I did some more 3D stuff. I’ve had to go back and rework some objects that I created a while ago because I came across something the other day that made quite a useful add-on.

st helier jersey granville manche normandy franceThere were a few people out a-walking this afternoon. It was damp outside but not really cold and not really windy.

A good day for photography because there some strange effects on the sea as the storm was moving out across the bay.

St Helier and the rest of Jersey were fairly clear, even if they were swathed in storm.

ferry ile de chausey traversier granville manche normandy franceThere had been a ferry service out to the Ile de Chausey too. Or, at least, there was a ferry coming back from the island.

I would have been out there much more often on the ferry had the prices been more reasonable. But €27:50 for a round trip is a bit more than I’m willing to pay for a sail around the bay.

rock ship granville manche normandy franceThis photo was quite interesting too.

There’s a huge rock at the entrance to the bay at St Malo but there seemed to be something else out there too.

Cropping, enhancing and blowing up the photo (because I can do that despite modern anti-terrorist legislation) brought out something to the left of the rock that might possibly (although it’s difficult to tell) be a ship – possibly one of the Brittany Ferries fleet – sailing into St Malo.

Tea was a curry – a pepper, mushroom and coconut cream curry from November 2017. just as delicious as it was the day that I made it.

Later on, as I said, the storm has gone when I went around the walls, but it’s cold out there and I reckon that it’s going to become even colder tonight.

So I’ll be huddled up under the bedclothes gathering up my strength for my trip to the shops tomorrow. I’ll need to warm myself up.

ferry ile de chausey traversier granville manche normandy france
ferry ile de chausey traversier granville manche normandy france

st helier jersey granville manche normandy france
st helier jersey granville manche normandy france

st helier jersey granville manche normandy france
st helier jersey granville manche normandy france

Wednesday 23rd January 2019 – WHAT A HORRIBLE …

… day I had today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday 9th September 2018 – LAST NIGHT …

*************** THE IMAGES ***************

There are over 3,000 of them and due to the deficiencies of the equipment they all need a greater or lesser amount of post-work. And so you won’t get to see them for a while.

You’ll need to wait til I return home and get into my studio and start to go through them. And it will be a long wait. But I’ll keep you informed after I return.

… round about 00:35 I was just gathering up my things ready to go to bed when I caught out of the corner of my eye a strange reflection on one of the windows.

Turning dramatically round, I could see lights really close by on the starboard beam (said he, coming over all nautical-like)

Grabbing the camera I dashed outside and sure enough another ship, very likely a cruise ship, was sailing past not 500 metres from us in the opposite direction.

Forgetting that the camera was on a low-light setting, I blazed way and ended up with a horribly over-exposed shot of it as it sailed past. But by the time I had corrected my settings, it was already some way astern so that came out rather under-exposed. It’s clearly not my night for anything, is it?

But very strangely, I was asleep quite quickly once I finally managed to heave myself into my stinking pit, and that was exactly how I remained until the early-morning cacophony.

We had the usual morning ritual, and then up on deck where I hoped that a hot coffee would bring me round sufficiently to do more than grunt at people.

A thin sliver of land on the horizon away over to our left tells me that we aren’t quite in a sea as open as I would like to be, but nevertheless we are still going north. 74° 58’N on the AIS plot – rapidly approaching the magical 80°N, which is farther north than almost every explorer had reached 200 years ago before Ross and Parry, but it’s almost certain that whalers such as William Scoresby and countless others had pushed on well beyond this.

Their reports of “seas open one year, closed the next” which were dismissed by the Admiralty as total fiction but which proved to be absolutely correct cannot have been mere guesswork.

We had breakfast and this was followed by a series of presentations. And can you imagine how disappointed I was when I discovered that the “10:00 – Dog-Sledding in the Nautilus Lounge” was just a discussion.

But I really wasn’t paying too much attention. We’d run into an ice belt at one time during the morning and there were loads of stuff drifting by.

At one moment there was a beautiful iceberg off the starboard bow so I took up a really good position to take a photo of it. And then the captain altered course and it slid off in the distance to port.

But that wasn’t the best of it either.

There was a discussion on the health and welfare of the Inuit population. The speaker was talking about mental health and how something was “the tip of the iceberg”. And just as she said that, right on cue, a really large iceberg went sailing past. You couldn’t have had the timing any better than that.

I dashed out and took a photo of it, and then dashed back in again.

And this talk was quite interesting too for another reason.

They were talking about Inuit people being encouraged to keep their ethnic identity when they move out of the community and “go south”. That’s the kind of thing that contrasts sharply with the situation where people coming into Canada are expected to integrate into their new environment and leave their ethnic identity behind.

And if that isn’t enough to be going on with, they were discussing the new opportunities that tourism was bringing into the region and how this might help go some way towards resolving the chronic unemployment and poverty issues amongst the Inuit people. And here we are on a cruise ship visiting the High Arctic and being manned … "personned" – ed … by a mainly Filipino and Indonesian crew.

What might help the Inuit community would be if the Canadian Government, these cruise companies and tourists on board stopped treating the local people as nothing but tourist attractions but as people and actually engaged them in the economic regeneration of the region.

Lunch was the usual salad for me and I sat with Dylan, the pianist from last night. I complimented him on the event and we ended up having a good chat about music. He also plays the bass too but hadn’t brought his axe with him.

This afternoon we went off on another excursion. There’s an island in the Davis Strait off the coast of Devon Island called Philpot’s Island and our ship had never visited there.

It’s known to be a haunt of polar bear and, more importantly, musk-oxen, so we decided that we would all go ashore for an exploration. We tried to get into one bay but the wind conspired against us and heaped up the ice across the entrance so we had to find another bay.

The bay that we chose was apparently un-named on any of the charts that we could find, and so Tennyson’s “There is nothing worth living for but to have one’s name inscribed on the Arctic chart ” came straight into my head. Who do I see?

Cold comes in three categories – cold, freezing and Jesus! And this was Jesus! cold. We were wrapped up in all that we could fit on underneath our windproof and rainproof clothes and scrambled for the Zodiacs.

The sea was rough and churning too with a 15-20 knot wind, so we were told. And there was fog and a snowstorm too. But then again, if you can’t cope with any of that, you shouldn’t really be in the High Arctic.

By the time we reached the shore we were totally wet and bedraggled, and that was just the start of things.

We were divided into four groups, Expert, Advanced, Intermediate and Leisurely, with a few people who just stayed for a walk on the beach. The days when I could go off on an Expert hike and then go back and do it again are, unfortunately, long-gone, as regular readers of this rubbish might recall.

Instead I chose the Intermediate walk.

Off into the wilderness we went, in several long crocodiles as each group went its separate way, accompanied by our armed polar bear guards. Our way took us in a crescent-shaped circuit around the south-western quarter of the island.

And while we’re on the subject of crocodiles, I remembered the leader of our expedition telling us at one stage that he wasn’t going to tell us what animals he might see because that would be the Kiss of Death and we would never ever see them. And so the idea that was running around my head was that he should say that we would see crocodiles, lions, camels and the Loch Ness Monster.

And as for the polar bear guards, their guns are loaded with rubber bullets. But they do have live ammunition in their pockets in case the rubber bullets don’t stop the animals.

We picked our way through the snow, through the snowdrifts and the howling wind that blasted along our trail, stopping frequently to pause for breath along the way. I was going to say “and to see the sights” but you couldn’t really see a thing in this weather.

At one point we stopped and did some deep breathing exercises; And then our leader proposed that we lie down in the snow to meditate. Most people immediately refused, but I decided to give it a go. And so I lay there in a snowdrift and let all of the thoughts drift out of my mind – not that there are so many thoughts in there these days that it takes too long.

It was harder than I imagined but after a couple of minutes I could feel myself sliding off somewhere. There was an eerie wind and the patter of snow on my jacket but apart from that I don’t think that I’ve ever felt so peaceful. In fact I was so disappointed when he called us to order again.

We carried on, coming across some lemming tracks on our way but even though the tracks were fairly recent there was no sign of the critters who had made them.

At a certain point the sun looked as if it might start to come out and I took a photo of it. But all that I picked up was a pale yellow disk and a flurry of snow on the lens.

Eventually we arrived at our destination and the more athletic amongst us scrambled up the rocks to the top of the headland that overlooks the sea. And the ship was out there somewhere – we could vaguely make it out in the distance through the fog and driving snow.

Up there in the wind we scanned the horizon for any sign of wildlife but that was something of a failure. There was nothing to be seen. We loitered around for half an hour or so to see what was going on, but in the end we gave it up as a bad job and started back.

Pretty much the same routine on the way back, stopping regularly for breath. And our “long pause” was animated by Lois, an Inuit woman who was accompanying us who told us tales of life on the trail and how easy it is to become disorientated and lose one’s way in weather like this.

Back at the beach, we learned that at least one group had encountered musk-oxen. A shame that it wasn’t ours. We’d seen some musk-ox droppings, and fresh ones too, but no actual beast. Still, you can’t win a coconut every time, as I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed.

There was a long queue to go back on the zodiacs, so I went off and had another meditation session, lying almost buried in a snowdrift. And this time, as well as the feelings that I had had before, I managed to go off. I could see blue sky and smell something completely different, something that I couldn’t name. It was the most extraordinary feeling that I have had for many years, just lying there flat out on my back in a snowdrift in the middle of an Arctic snowstorm.

Hot tea was available before we boarded a zodiac. And you’ve no idea how quickly hot tea goes stone-cold in this kind of environment. These explorers who go off into temperatures of -40°C and try to make tea and other hot food must really be on a hiding to nothing. I don’t envy them for a moment.

I was last on the zodiac and so was put at the front on the side into the wind. And we hadn’t gone far before we were treated to an astonishing spectacle. An ice-floe calved off with a most enormous splash right in front of us.

We did a U-turn to go to look at it but we were far too late to take a photo of anything spectacular. But just then, I heard another “crack” from another ice-floe nearby. I swivelled round and clicked the shutter just as another calving took place and a huge lump of ice cascaded into the sea.

By now the storm had increased and we were in for a really rough ride. There was quite a swell running with waves of a considerable height. And being on the side into the wind, I got the lot. I don’t think that I have ever been so wet in all my life by the time that I was back on board the ship.

I shudder to think what it might have been like had I not been dressed in rain and wind gear, and I was thinking … "which doesn’t happen all that often" – ed … that it was a good job that I hadn’t taken Strawberry Moose for a stroll ashore.

Mind you, several passengers had enquired about his whereabouts. He’s more popular than I am, which is not really a surprise given recent events. In certain quarters I’m about as popular as a rattlesnake in the Lucky Dip right now and I have only myself to blame.

Strangely enough, as I was writing this, I was listening to some Wishbone Ash and we had the “One Hundred Years In The Sunshine Hasn’t Taught Me All I Need To Know”. I’ll “try again to fight another day”, so God help you all.

Back in my cabin I had a surprise. Strawberry Moose has found a friend – an Arctic Hare. One of the cabin staff clearly has the right kind of sense of humour and I appreciate that very much.

So a really nice hot shower and washed some clothes, and then came back upstairs to the lounge.

Now, I’m fed up of saying that it’s a small world and getting smaller all the time. There’s a couple on this boat – and elderly woman and her son – who speak French and I’ve been having the odd chat with the woman.

Today, it ended up as being quite a lengthy chat and much to my surprise, I discovered that she is actually French and comes from near Gueret – which is only an hour or so from where my farm is in the Auvergne.

And if that’s not enough, her son lives in St-Lô, which is just about 45 minutes from Granville.

With this astonishing news, we had an extremely lengthy and involved chat, which came to a sudden halt as two rather large icebergs came drifting past. I dashed out into the fog and mist with the camera.

Back inside, I tried to start work but my heart wasn’t in it and I was constantly drifting off to sleep. In the end I gave it up as a bad job and went and crashed out in my room for half an hour. I can’t get away from this, can I?

We had a briefing about tomorrow’s events, and I just about caught the tail-end of it too. It looks as if we are in for a storm at some time through the night and tomorrow but it’s not the kind of thing that we can do rush to shelter and heave to, because we have icebergs to contend with. We’ll have to ride it out in the open sea and keep going, which is bound to upset some passengers, and upset them in more ways than one.

For tea, I was one of the first in so I sat at an empty table. I was quickly joined by two of the elderly men with whom I sat the other evening. It looks as if we have become a regular feature, something like the Naughty Corner at Lierse SK where I always seemed to end up.

This evening there’s a film but with having crashed out this afternoon I have too much work to do so I need to push on and do it. I’m in one of the comfortable chairs in the posh lounge as the film is taking place in the room where I sit.

When I’ve finished, I’ll go for my half-naked evening walk and see how the storm is developing. I hope that it’s an interesting one.

And it certainly was. It was snowing fairly heavily and the sea was rather wild. But I’ve known it colder than it was too. Upon the bridge I stayed and watched the storms, and then checked the binnacle. 357° – or in other words, ever so slightly west of North.

I walked round to the back of the ship, and found a little group of people huddled there. That’s the smoking quarter and there was Sherman Downey !:the musician, Michael the young go’fer and a couple of girls. I joined them and we had a good chat for half an hour or so, and then everyone slowly drifted away.

I drifted away too eventually. It’s way past my bedtime.

On a totally different note, I’ve just heard that Burt Reynolds has died.

Wednesday 5th September 2018 – THUS ENDS THE WEB

*************** THE IMAGES ***************

There are over 3,000 of them and due to the deficiencies of the equipment they all need a greater or lesser amount of post-work. And so you won’t get to see them for a while.

You’ll need to wait til I return home and get into my studio and start to go through them. And it will be a long wait. But I’ll keep you informed after I return.

Despite it being 00:15 when I finally toddled off to bed, it was yet another miserable night. Not that I didn’t sleep of course – far from it in fact – but I was wide awake again at 04:30.

At 05:30 I gave up the struggle and after the medication routine, came upstairs. Too dark as yet to take any real photographs which is a shame, but I did the best that I could;

It’s also really foggy outside yet again. I hope that this means that our trip ashore isn’t cancelled yet again.

Anyway, in the comfort of the ship’s lounge, with no-one else about at all, I did some more work, catching up on where I’d left off a while back, as well as organising a few photos for His Nibs.

Breakfast as usual and then we had to organise ourselves for our day out.

We’re just off the coast of Devon Island, the world’s largest uninhabited island at 59,000 km². It wasn’t always uninhabited. The Thule people had various settlements here and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police had an outpost here and it was these that we had come to see.

Mind you, it might not be possible to see anything in this kind of weather because not only do we have a fog we have a blinding snowstorm and it’s going to be quite uncomfortable out there today.

We’ve been divided up into three groups – the advanced hikers who are going off to visit the two sites and climb the mountain pass in between, the intermediate group who are going to walk to the two sites but have a boat ride in between, and the easy people who are just going to be dropped off on the beach for a wander around.

Had there been any archaeological ruins up on top or had there been any chance of having a good view, I might possibly have forced my way up to the top. But in this weather I’m not going to even consider it.

Instead, seeing as I want to visit the two sites, I’m going to go the intermediate way.

So we changed into our wet-weather and winter clothing (and I still think that telephone boxes would be appropriate for this kind of thing) and boarded the boat.

I took Strawberry Moose with me so that he could have a good photo opportunity. One of the cleaners very kindly found me a large bin liner in which to carry him out of the rain.

Having organised ourselves on shore eventually at Morrin Point (whoever Morrin was when he was at home if he ever was), we set off. The experts on this trip were scattered around the various sites of interest and we started off by being given a lecture on lichens. Not the kind of thing that would be of much interest to me but nevertheless it’s all included in the deal.

The experts weren’t the only people to be scattered around. Our group perimeter was constantly guarded by trained polar bear observers. We had to stay within the perimeter and not move out. And the bear observers had to keep the bears outside.

Not that we saw any, but that’s a situation that won’t last over the next couple of weeks.

Next stop was much more exciting.

There’s a Thule village with several houses dating from the 14th or 15th Century here on the headland and this is what we had come to see.

Thule people had several criteria that decided where they were going to build their houses. A piece of flat land, some shelter from the winds and a view of the sea were things that were so important to them.

And this is exactly what we have here. All three criteria come in to play.

There’s a walrus haul-out here on an island in the bay, and there were several meat-stores that were clearly (according to the archaeologists) for the storage of walrus meat.

They kept it in here until they needed it, and it was probably well-putrefied by the time that it came to being used, but to disguise the smell the Thule stuffed the cracks of the walrus cache with aromatic herbs.

As for the houses, they were stone and sod, with some kind of support structure such as whale bones that would support a covering made of walrus hide. That’s very thick and, of course, weather-proof.

All visible trace of that is now long-gone but no archaeological excavation has taken place at this site as yet to give any definite opinion of what went on here.

From here back to the zodiacs to go on the next stage of the journey, watching the advanced hikers disappearing off into the distance.

Just down the bay there was another beach and there we alighted and had to trek up a hill. And in the boggy terrain, the wind and the rain, I was feeling the strain I can promise you that. I was glad that I didn’t go on the advanced hike.

From the top there was a good view of the old abandoned Royal Canadian Mounted Police post.

The story behind this post is all to do with the question of Sovereignty in the High Arctic.

Much of this area was explored and claimed by the British until about 1880 and then given to Canada, who chose not to continue the explorations.

As a result, we had other nations such as the Americans and Danes exploring the High Arctic in this region and there was a risk that they would claim the Arctic islands for themselves. As a result, it was necessary to establish some permanent settlements

As part of this process, here at Dundas Harbour in the 1920s the Royal Canadian Mounted Police established a Post here and it remained active until the funding crisis of the Great Depression brought about its closure.

The Mounties were supported by a few Inuit Special constables and their families and hence a small settlement sprang up. Some Inuit were resettled here from Cape Dorset but they didn’t stay long.

The job of the Mounties was to set up cairns on the outlying islands to claim them for Canada and to generally keep an eye out for interlopers.

But it was a lonely life and hard on the inhabitants. One Mountie committed suicide and another one, who had gone off hunting walrus, was later discovered dying with a gunshot wound, although no-one was able to work out what had happened.

They are buried in a small cemetery up on the hillside at the back of the post. This is claimed by some to be one of the most northerly Christian cemeteries in the world

After the end of World War II the Cold War caused the post to be reactivated, but it only lasted a couple of years. By 1951 the post had closed down again, this time for good.

Strawberry Moose arranged to have himself photographed here a couple of times for the record. And quite right too.

After that, we all headed back to the zodiacs and retraced our steps to the ship. And not before time either because in the three hours that we had been ashore, the bay was starting to ice up.

Once I’d divested myself of my wet-weather and winter gear, I came up to my room and had a nice hot shower and washed my undies. They’ll be dry pretty quickly because the cabins are quite hot when they switch on the heating.

Lunch came along too after this. And today they managed to find me some chick peas to go with my salad. That was very nice.

And I had to laugh (even though I know that I shouldn’t) at The Vanilla Queen. She went up there for her food and some woman came up to talk to her. Even as The Vanilla Queen was collecting her food, this woman insisted on continuing the conversation. The Vanilla Queen then started to eat her food with her fingers but the woman went on and on (and on).

Eventually she said “well, I suppose that I’d better let you eat your meal” and then carried on the chat for another 5 minutes. By this time The Vanilla Queen was totally frustrated and I was almost in tears of laughter – which I know that I shouldn’t have been, but there you are.

This afternoon we started a series of lectures but the first one was interrupted when a cry went up from the Bridge “Polar Bear at 11 o’clock”. The lecture room deserted itself in the same fashion as the cry of “Gold Strike at Bear Creek” did in Carry On Cowboy.

Some people, including The Vanilla Queen, saw the bear but Yours Truly didn’t. So it’s one each right now, for those of us keeping the score.

The lectures eventually carried on, with everything running late of course, and with a freezing audience too, because it was cold out there watching the pack ice and the ice floes drift past.

I missed some of it as, overwhelmed by sleep, I went to crash out. Only to find that the feeling had passed by the time that I got onto the bed.

For tea tonight they rustled up some tofu and vegetables, and we had an interesting chat with the team’s historian about all kinds of things.

There’s mixed news about our future plans. The wind is shifting round, which means that the weather will clear a little. Some of the places that we want to visit will be clear of ice, but the changing winds will have blown the ice across Lancaster Sound into the harbours of other places in which we want to visit.

It is, apparently, the worst year for ice for many years and will continue to confound all of our plans.

Later that night we went out on the upper deck in the snowstorm to watch the midnight sun and the ice floes, as we are now back in the ice again. She’s convinced that she saw a seal but it’s no use asking me. I could hardly see a thing out there.

But one thing is for sure. Following the appearance of His Nibs on shore today, his cover as a stowaway has been well and truly blown.

But he’s been accepted as a bona-fide traveller. He’s been given his own name badge and allowed to share my cabin officially. He was even invited to take control of the ship for a while.

Furthermore, it’s been proposed that the official Expedition photographer will take some official photos of him.

And that can’t be bad.

But there’s also been a dramatic change in situation here on board the Ocean Endeavour

I have rather foolishly … “he means “recklessly”” – ed … allowed a certain situation to develop completely out of hand and my emotions have run away with themselves, like they all-too-often have a tendency to do.

if I allow it to escalate any further it will be to my own detriment, as has been the case on many occasions.

I’m not very good at forcing decisions, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall. My usual practice is to roll with the road and follow my star wherever it leads me, but this is neither the time nor the place for vacillation.

As Marillion once famously wrote –
“The time has come to make decisions
The changes have to be made”

And so I need to know precisely where I stand in this particular circumstance.

This evening there was the ideal opportunity – presenting itself in a moment of high tension. And so I grasped the nettle.

The result was not what I had optimistically hoped but it was what I had realistically expected, and it killed the situation stone-dead. Which is not really a bad thing, I suppose, because in all honesty I don’t really have the time for distractions. I have much more important things to be doing.

“Thus Ends The Web”

Tuesday 4th September 2018 – SO THERE I WAS …

fog lancaster sound croker bay ocean endeavour adventure canada north west passage september septembre 2018… leaping out of bed at the first alarm (well, almost) at 06:00 to perform the usual morning ritual with the medication.

And then ten minutes later diving upstairs for the sightseeing in the Lancaster Sound – straight into that curse of all Arctic mariners – a rolling fog.

I couldn’t see my hands in front of my face at first. I had to wait a good two hours before the fog lifted and I could see anything at all.

snowfall ocean endeavour lancaster sound croker bay ocean endeavour adventure canada north west passage september septembre 2018But an Arctic fog wasn’t the only issue that we had to deal with this morning

During the night we had had snowfall too and some members of crew were busily sweeping the decks. Not a very big snowfall, but a snowfall all the same and it’s a sign of things to come.

So much for an exploration today, then. I can’t see us going ashore in a zodiac in this kind of weather if we can’t see what we are going to collide with.

The morning was spent editing all of the photos and I have a feeling that I’m going to be setting a new record on this trip. Day one of our voyage and I’m on 132 photos already. This is going to be a long trip.

Breakfast was acceptable – cereal and fruit salad with water (no soya milk of course) with toast and jam. Orange juice and as much coffee as I could drink and then more.

ice floe lancaster sound croker bay ocean endeavour adventure canada north west passage september septembre 2018We had the usual welcome meeting to give us the day’s itinerary, but it was all interrupted as far as I was concerned because we found ourselves in the ice stream. And that was me, and a German lady, lost to the public as we went outside to take a few photographs.

And it was just as well that we did because by the time that the speech was over we had passed through the ice and gone.

Mind you, it wouldn’t have been much to miss because we will be encountering ice much more formidable than this. Or, at least, we better had because otherwise there is little point in coming on a trip like this in my opinion.

One of the things that has surprised me more than anything was that when they handed out the waterproof boots, mine fitted me perfectly. Usually, it’s a kind of Army thing where they bung you a pair of boots and you either have to cut off your toes or else stuff a few sheets of newspaper inside.

The next thing was a discussion given by different Inuit from different regions of the High Arctic, to make us aware of the different cultures through which we will be passing.

Someone else taught us a couple of works in Inuit, but it’s not going to help much because there are so many different words and so many different dialects that I am bound to use the wrong word at the wrong time in the wrong place.

soapstone oil lamp Qulliq Kudlik croker bay ocean endeavour adventure canada north west passage september septembre 2018We have several Inuit people from the local area on board the ship.

Their role is to explain the local environment and culture to us and to help us understand much better the way of life out here.

Susi had brought with her a soapstone oil lamp – a Qulliq or Kudlik. They have always played quite an important role i life in the High Arctic and I was really glad that I actually managed to see one.

It’s fuelled with seal oil of course and the wick is Arctic Cotton, a-plenty of which we shall apparently be seeing on our voyage.

Lunch was a running buffet and much to my surprise there were things there that I could eat.

There was bad news afterwards. There had been a plan to go to visit the long-abandoned RCMP post on Devon Island, but one look at the fog and snow outside was enough to convince us otherwise.

You wouldn’t be able to spot a polar bear until it was about 50 feet away in this fog, by which time it would be far too late to do anything about it. That kind of thing can’t be helped of course, but it’s just so disappointing that all of our plans are just melting away into nothing.

arctic map croker bay ocean endeavour adventure canada north west passage september septembre 2018Instead, Latonia gave us a very interesting talk on the different peoples of the High Arctic.

She also introduced us to a new cartographic way of looking at the Arctic that was certainly different for me.

Forget your Mercator’s Projection – this shows the Arctic regions in a much more realistic and accurate way and puts everything into the proper perspective.

glacier devon island croker bay ocean endeavour adventure canada north west passage september septembre 2018By now though, the fog, which had been slowly lifting during the course of the day as you have seen, was now sufficiently clear that we can see some of what we might be doing.

Unfortunately it was far too late to go back to the RCMP post on Devon Island. But just a stone’s throw away up an inlet called Croker Bay just round the corner there is a glacier that calves into the sea.

Everyone thought that that might be a good place to visit, as a way of breaking us into the High Arctic.

hotchy bordeleau zodiac orion croker bay ocean endeavour adventure canada north west passage september septembre 2018They proposed a procession of Zodiacs up Croker Bay to see it, and so we donned our winter gear and waterproofs because there was a wind and it was still snowing.

The Vanilla Queen is in a different team to me so she was off in one of the first boats and I was in one of the last so by the time we went out she was back.

And how she had cause to regret it too, as you will find out in early course.

zodiac croker bay ocean endeavour adventure canada north west passage september septembre 2018So we bid a temporary farewell to our ship as we headed off up the inlet on our zodiac, with the Good Ship Ve … errr Ocean Endeavour disappearing into the fog and snow flurries behind us.

This is how I always imagined life in the High Arctic to be, and I pictured to myself the several generations of Sailors in the 19th Century who were obliged to do this with oars.

And then regularly volunteered to come back with a subsequent expedition.

iceberg croker bay ocean endeavour adventure canada north west passage september septembre 2018All of the broken ice at the head of the bay told us that an iceberg had not long calved and fragmented.

And so we weaved our way in and out of the icebergs and growlers, looking at all of the spectacular shapes and forms that they can produce,

I have never been this close to an iceberg and so I was absolutely thrilled to see them.

seal croker bay ocean endeavour adventure canada north west passage september septembre 2018And we weren’t alone here in the inlet either.

As well as our good selves, the zodiacs and the Good Ship Ve … errr Ocean Endeavour were several seals swimming about, fishing in the water at the foot of the glacier.

They are all unfortunately very out-of-focus. You have no idea just how difficult it is to take a photograph of a small moving object from a moving boat riding the swell in a wind..

zodiacs croker bay ocean endeavour adventure canada north west passage september septembre 2018But what happened next was unbelievable.

One of the passengers on our zodiac was scanning the rock face with the binoculars and was convinced that she had seen something moving about.

One of the other zodiacs had spotted it too and called up everyone on the radio so we all headed down that way.

polar bears croker bay ocean endeavour adventure canada north west passage september septembre 2018And sure enough, there WAS something moving.

It was very difficult to see anything clearly so I took a long-range photograph of it so that I could enlarge it at my leisure.

It’s a good job that I had fitted the zoom lens to the camera before we started. It would have been a difficult thing to do in a swaying zodiac.

polar bear devon island croker bay ocean endeavour adventure canada north west passage september septembre 2018And it was as well that I did because I HAVE SEEN A POLAR BEAR. And not just a polar bear too, but a mummy polar bear with a cub in tow!

I suppose that it’s something of a cheat to say that I saw it, because I really didn’t know exactly what it was that I was seeing until I enlarged the photo, but it’s a polar bear nevertheless.

And I’m really hoping that I’ll see a polar bear much closer than this (although not too close of course) in due course but nevertheless it’s a good start.

croker bay ocean endeavour adventure canada north west passage september septembre 2018After this ten minutes of excitement we had to return to the Good Ship Ve … errr Ocean Endeavour.

There wasn’t a moment of silence on board our zodiac. We were all far too interested in discussing the polar bears that we had seen.

The seals on their own would have been exciting enough for one day but the polar bears really were something.

The whole thing was totally magnificent and I was so impressed. So impressed that I was prepared to say that this was one of the highlights of the journey – and we have only just started too!

croker bay ocean endeavour adventure canada north west passage september septembre 2018As we approached the the Good Ship Ve … errr Ocean Endeavour we were lucky enough to witness the hoisting abord of the zodiacs who had returned to the ship before us.

We docked at one of the ramps at the side of the ship and we all clambered out of the zodiacs and on board.

I went straight to my room, had a quick shower, change of clothes and a clothes-wash and then back upstairs.

The Vanilla Queen was there so I showed her my photo of the bears. She was so depressed by it that I invited her to supper and negotiated a glass of wine for her to cheer her up.

zodiacs devon island croker bay ocean endeavour adventure canada north west passage september septembre 2018Later in the evening we all had to dress up again in our winter and waterproof gear.

One we were suitably dressed we all went for a moonlight (or what passes for moonlight here so high up in the Arctic) ride in the zodiacs up the the glacier once more.

And I did make the suggestion that they should equip the boats with telephone boxes so we could all dash in, spin around, and come out fully-changed like Superman … “superPERSON” – ed …” but for some reason that didn’t go down too well.

pirate zodiac devon island croker bay ocean endeavour adventure canada north west passage september septembre 2018No wildlife to speak of this evening. Just a few birds, but not of the kind that I’m ever likely to be interested in watching.

There was however a pirate zodiac manned … “PERSONNED” – ed …by buccaneers handing out hot toddies and hot tea to warm us up.

And you’ve no idea just how quickly hot tea goes cold in the High Arctic.

croker bay ocean endeavour adventure canada north west passage september septembre 2018Most of the ice that we had seen earlier had been swept out of the bay.

But the face of the glacier was really impressive this evening with a couple of enormous bergs almost ready to break off and float away

There were a couple of largish ones over in the far corner creaking ominously as they were on the point of breaking up even further. We listened for a while just in case we might hear the “crack” telling us that we would be lucky enough to see an iceberg calve.

No such luck though.

croker bay ocean endeavour adventure canada north west passage september septembre 2018We couldn’t stay out there all night waiting in hope. We had to return to the Good Ship Ve … errr Ocean Endeavour.

But it wasn’t where we had left it. Rounding an iceberg we discovered that it had moved off to one side of the inlet under the cliffs.

Apparently there was another cruise ship on its way to shelter in the inlet for the night. It’s like the M6 up here in the High Arctic right now.

croker bay ocean endeavour adventure canada north west passage september septembre 2018By the time that we arrived back at our ship, it was going dark. Or, rather, as dark as it gets around here at this time of the year.

But this evening the cloud cover is quite thick so we won’t have very much in the way of midnight sun tonight.

We tied up our zodiac and scrambled aboard. And having disposed of my wet-weather gear I went off to my cabin to change into clean clothes.

croker bay ocean endeavour adventure canada north west passage september septembre 2018Right now I’m writing up my notes and editing the photos of today. And staring out of the window at the other ship riding at anchor on the other side of the inlet.

Later on after everyone else has gone to bed, I’ll go for a walk around with Strawberry Moose and look for more photo opportunities for His Nibs. He deserves to spread his fame around.

And then I’ll be off to bed. It’s another long day tomorrow, with an early start.

Tuesday 24th January 2017 – I’VE HAD ANOTHER …

… day where I nip out for half an hour and don’t come back until late in the evening.

Rather reminiscent in fact of when I was 18 and living at home and had a couple of friends come round on Friday evening. “I’m just nipping out for half an hour” I said to my parents, and came back on Sunday night. I remember it well.

I awoke early this morning, what with the unfortunate 06:30 cacophony from my Eastern European housemates. And I’d been on my travels during the night too. Of course, it all evaporated straight away as soon as I awoke, although I do remember that it did feature a girl who at one time featured three or four times over a period of a couple of weeks. I wish that I could remember what it was all about though.

After breakfast, I sat and watched the snowstorm for a while. It was quite heavy and sticking too, starting to look quite interesting. But unfortunately it all started to melt after a while and the weather cleared up.

Next task was to tidy my room a little, and then at about 11:00 I set off up town. Right the way across town in fact to the ring road by the local nick to meet my friend Hans who was coming up from Munich. He’s passing through on his way to the UK for a week or two, and old age is catching up with him too. He’d drive up from Munich to Zeebrugge all in one go but now he feels that he needs to break his journey. He’s staying in Leuven tonight at the flat-hotel place.

We met up and went for lunch – and then for a coffee – and then to a bar where Hans tried a local beer or four, and then back to the Indian place where I had been the other day. We had a good chat about old times – after all, we’ve been friends for over 50 years.

A walk through the cold evening saw me escort him back to his room so that he wouldn’t miss his way. His place is a tiny little studio that he has rented for the night and I’m quite envious. Ages ago, I’d enquired about a studio at this place but they wouldn’t give me a discount for a long stay so I’d ruled it out. Quite right too in my opinion – I couldn’t afford it – but its basic price is the same as here and had I been able to negotiate it down to a price similar to what I have here, it would have been absolutely perfect.

Ahhh well.

So now I’m back here. Late again. I’ll try to have a good sleep, to see where that takes me. And tomorrow we are going for a coffee before Hans hits the road again.

Wednesday 16th March 2016 – HOW WE LAUGHED …

… when the nurse said something last night about it going to snow today. And so would you have done, given the glorious day we had yesterday.

But coming back from Montlucon, and passing through Villebret where you start to climb up into the Combrailles, I saw a few suspicious-looking white flakes being blown about in the sky. By the time I climbed up over the Font Nanaud and down the other side towards St Gervais, the sky was clear again but about half an hour after arriving back here, we got the lot. There’s now about 10mm of snow outside and it’s still falling.

Yes, and I have to go back (GRRRRR!) to Montlucon and the hospital tomorrow too. I arrived there nice and early but had to wait for almost three quarters of an hour before I was seen properly by the nurse. She examined where I’d been injected and where I’d been patched, and told me that there is some reaction so I need to return for further tests.

You don’t need me to tell you what I think of that.

But anyway, off up to the day hospital and the blood transfusion. My favourite nurse and my second-favourite student were there and once more there was a decent and convivial crowd in the room. We all had quite a laugh and a good time, which made us all feel better and helped the time pass by.

Lunch was the usual disgusting muck but at least it was something, I suppose. And although I was finished by 14:30 I told them that I wasn’t leaving until I had had my mid-afternoon coffee.

On the way back from Montlucon I got myself lost in the back streets trying to find the short cut to LIDL. I needed some of my vitamin B12 juice and some sparkling water, and I also bought a couple of big packets of crisps and some packets of sweets to nibble on while I’m driving to Leuven. And they sell 1-litre bottles of orange juice in there and they are just the thing to drink in the van while I’m driving but as usual, Bane of Britain forgot to buy any.

I was going to go back home for a couple of hours afterwards too but it was rather cold and that made me think for a moment, and then with the white stuff, I decided that being back in the warmth and off the road was a much better plan.

And here I am and there I’ll be in a moment – in bed. I’m not going for a walk tonight as I’ve walked far enough today (as well as going all around the hospital I had to go off to find the Records Department to pick up a copy of my file to take to Leuven).

And while I’m on the subject of files and records, I did ask the doctor there to prepare his file and records ready for me to pick up. And so I went to see his secretary and it will come as no surprise to you all to learn that he hasn’t done so. I told her “Friday at the latest” (well, actually vendredi au plus tard, but you get the idea).

So I hope that I have a more interesting and exciting sleep than I did last night. I was out like a light in a very deep sleep and the only recollection of what happened was what was on the dictaphone. And we were dealing with football issues yet again.

We were talking about the Controle Technique in football (well, exactly!) and one of the issues in this is that the player concerned has to take a penalty kick. Now it doesn’t matter whether the player scores or misses, or whether it’s saved by the keeper – it’s all down to whether the player is capable of kicking the ball in that situation. One player having his Controle Technique came out onto the field. He was wearing a red football shirt with his name on the back – a really long name that ended with Platini. He was preparing to take the kick but we noticed that underneath his shirt he was wearing a Father Christmas outfit complete with hood trimmed in white and with a white bobble – and his hood is up on his head. He runs in to take the penalty as soon as the whistle is blown, but almost immediately the whistle is blown again to stop the kick being taken, in order to order him to put his hood down so that the controller could see his head and face. And so he does, and then he runs in and takes the kick again. However the keeper is really quick off his line and manages to block the ball with his knees. The ball thus ricochets off his knees up into the air. Now the goal that they are using for this is actually an over-bridge, so it’s clearly the correct dimensions for a goal underneath it. The ball balloons up and over the bridge past the people who are crossing the bridge and then back down the other side and goes quite a way away. The man who has taken the penalty now needs another ball to do something different and so he climbs up the side of the cutting which this bridge crosses, and plucks another ball that was in a bush that was growing on the top of the cutting, so they can continue this Controle Technique.

After all of that, I was down here early yet again, breakfasted and off on the road at 07:30 with the coffee in my Tim Hortons thermal mug. The drive was pretty uneventful with no-one in my way and even though I stopped at the bank to add to the fighting fund, I was at the hospital for 08:20.

I spent most of the day dealing with my Canada 2014 voyage for the month of September. I’ve now arrived back on Nova Scotia (travelling backwards of course) but then I had to start from the other end at Montreal and reach as far as the Sorel – St Ignace ferry across the St Lawrence because there’s a gap in my notes. I know that they are there because I remember transcribing them and I’m sure that I’ve seen them, but they are probably out of order so I’ll need to find them – and the easiest way to find them is to start at the other and and file the stuff from there, and eventually I’ll come across them.

That’s a nice job for me tomorrow then, seeing as how I have to spend all blasted day in that perishing mausoleum.

Monday 7th March 2016 – I WENT TO RESCUE …

… Caliburn today. And it’s a good job that I did too.

When I arrived around back at my place during mid-afternoon, it was just another grey, cold day with nothing particular to say about it. And I went inside to look for some stuff that I needed – some clothes, a small rolling suitcase, my missing Paint Shop Pro CD, my passport, the post, all kinds of stuff. And while I was up in the attic I remember thinking “blimmin’ ‘eck – it’s going dark early!”

caliburn ford transit snow les guis virlet puy de dome franceBut looking up, I could see that the skylights were completely snowed over and flakes the size of dinner plates were falling down. No wonder it was dark up there.

This wasn’t the time to be hanging about in my opinion. I grabbed what I could and headed for Caliburn and then headed for the hills before I could be snowed in.Luckily, after about 6 weeks of standing around, Caliburn started up easily so that was no problem.

And I’m glad in some respects that I didn’t have to hang around too much. It was taters in my attic – all of 5.9°C although it did warm up to 6.4°C after I had been there for an hour or so. Such are the advantages of having the place bung-full of insulation. I keep telling people – money spent on good insulation is never wasted.

But never mind that for a moment – let’s go back to this morning and the blasted nurse because he flaming well forgot me YET AGAIN! And it’s blood test day too so that has put the tin hat on it, hasn’t it?

I had made a special effort to get up early too, even though I was well away with the fairies.

It was an evening at weekend and, as was my custom, I’d gone out to a nearby town (and I can’t remember now which one it was) for a good prowl around. It was something that I did every weekend, and it was always to the same town, and I knew by heart everywhere to go here. It suddenly occurred to me that I was bored with it? Why didn’t I go to somewhere different? After all, the Potteries weren’t too far away. There, I had six towns to choose from and there was plenty to do, much of which would be totally new to me. But the downside of that was that where I was visiting, there was a kind of hotel where you could go for just a couple of hours and crash out. That was something that I did every time that I was there and I reckoned that it was quite important to me. There wasn’t anywhere to do that in Stoke on Trent, as far as I was aware. But on one of my walks around the town I was looking in the window of a motorcycle shop. There was a Honda 350cc in there – something totally modern that I had never seen before. It had no seat on it and the engine was missing, and the frame was really low-slung like a racing bike. My brother (him again???) came to stand next to me and we were looking at the bike. I told him that I couldn’t make out whether it was beautiful or totally hideous. There was also an old British 2-stroke twin in the window and that was much more like my kind of motorbike. He asked me about Hondas, and especially the Honda 250. Which was the best – the CB or the CD? I told him that the CB was more highly-tuned so it would respond better when being used under normal circumstances around town and on the road (ironically, whenever I had been asked this question in the 1970s, I had always recommended the CD).
From here, via a long convoluted trail I ended up back at my house with a crowd of people there, including my brother (yet again!) and the debut appearance on these pages of his wife. While we were talking, she suddenly produced a modern single-bore shotgun. This enraged me completely and right on the spur of the moment I started to sing a song that I made up on the spot as I was going along. Sung to the tune of “I don’t want to join the army” from “Oh! What A Lovely War!”, it started off –
“Don’t bring guns into my kitchen”
“Don’t bring guns into my hall”
And it concluded
“I may not want to kill”
“but I’m not so very ill”
“to let myself be shot inside my home”
and the astonishing thing about this is not only do I remember myself singing it, but the fact that I could come up with the lyrics, all of which scanned perfectly, as I was going along – and in a dream as well.
My technique must be improving!

Being fed up of waiting once 09:15 had arrived, I had my breakfast and then carried on with a few little things that I had to do, and seeing as how I was going to see my surgeon, I thought that I would make myself pretty.
“You’d better get a move on” said Terry. “We have to be off in four hours!”

So having done that and come back downstairs to another barrage of abuse – “well?” asked Terry. “When are you starting?” – we eventually had lunch and then off on the road to Montlucon.

Now I don’t know what they are spending the money on at the hospital but it’s not on the archives department, I’ll tell you that. It was like something out of Charles Dickens. Anyway, they can give me a complete copy of my file but not straight away as they need to photocopy it – at … gulp … €0:18 per page. This is going to run out to be very expensive. I can pick it up on Friday.

Back in the hospital, I’ve changed the appointment for the scanner. As you know, it should have been the day after my appointment in Leuven but that’s clearly not going to happen. But down at the secretariat of the X-ray department, they managed to find a little gap for me – they had a cancellation for 10:30 on Friday 18th of March and so I’m fitted in there.

I finally got round to seeing the surgeon, having bumped into my little student nurse on the way up and we had quite a chat. My surgeon didn’t say anything but the look on her face was enough when I told her that my blood count was going down quicker than the lifts in the hospital. Her response was “well, we’ll see what the scanner has to say and then we’ll see what else we can do for you”.

It was those last few words that filled me with foreboding.

But everything that I asked, and all of the problems that I discussed, everything was “we’ll see what the scanner has to say”. I really do believe that they have run out of ideas and are groping a little in the dark. But my stitches have indeed disappeared – they were indeed soluble – and now I can at last have a shower, which I shall be taking tomorrow.

I only had to wait two minutes for Terry, who had been to Brico Depot for an earthing rod – and then we were off back to my place.

And after everything back there, it was nice to be back behind the wheel of Caliburn even if there was a load of snow on the road as far as the Font Nanaud. I’ve missed driving, and I’m now toying with the idea of maybe going by road to Leuven.

That’s not as silly as it sounds, actually. I was in no difficulty at all with the driving, and I have four trips to make to Montlucon before I need to leave for Leuven so that will ease me back into it. And not only that, it will save on having to walk and drag a suitcase around with me while I change from train to train.

But even that might not be an issue because with all of the walking that I needed to do today, as well as all of the stair-climbing, I was moving quite a good deal easier than I was even yesterday, never mind last week when I first started on my exercise.

If only I could do something about this continual loss of blood – but if the nurse doesn’t come to give me the tests, what can I do about controlling it?

Sunday 6th March 2016 – HOW LONG IS IT …

… since I posted a photo on here?

It must be ages and ages – I know for a fact that I didn’t take any photos at all during February and that has to be the first time for about 15 years since I had a photo-free month.

heavy snow fall march le fournial sauret besserve puy de dome franceBut so that you don’t feel deprived, here’s a photo taken with the camera in my mobile phone and it shows the snow that came a-falling down today.

And you’ve no idea how nice it is to be sitting inside here, by the stove, with a mug of hot coffee and a home-made banana muffin, and watching it fall. Unfortunately it didn’t stick around because we had a weird sort of weather day. heavy snowfall and then sunlight which melted the snow, and then snowfall again, and then sunlight, und so weiter.

When I went out for a walk just now, 99% of the snow had gone, but there was a crystak-clear sky with tons of stars and a rapidly-plummeting temperature. It’ll be cold tonight, that’s for sure.

As for my walk, this was the best so far. I’ve progressed to a fair distance now – about 150 yards away, I reckon. And I’m moving easier and quicker without quite so much pain and with less of a breathing difficulty although I still have this egg in my lungs that I can feel when I’m getting out of breath. So apart from that, there might be hope for me yet if only I could overcome this blood-loss thing.

So what else did I do today?

Apart from laughing at Manure, I spent all of the day going through my medical receipts. Now that the Insurance Company has agreed my maladie grave and given me a case number, I can send them all in. That meant putting them in date order, finding the prescriptions that went with them, printing out a dozen or so claim forms and filling them in, and then scanning the documents in order to keep copies. That lot took me from about 09:30 to about 16:00, with a couple of pauses for coffee and home-made banana muffins and a pause for lunch.

And how much do they owe me then? Well, to date, bearing in mind that there are quite a few bills that have yet to arrive, it’s about three months’ pension money. And that’s what I’ve spent out in about two and a half months of illness. So you can see why I’ve been struggling and in all kinds of difficulty.

So why haven’t I made a claim beforehand?

The answer to that is that without having had my claim for a maladie grave approved, I would have had to submit my claim under the normal procedures and only had part of the expenses approved. And then, the relevant claim file for that period would have been closed and you know just as well as I do what it would have been like trying to persuade an Insurance Company to reopen a closed claim.

I also had a haircut today. Liz was busy scalping Terry and so I took my turn in the queue. It needed doing but it wasn’t ‘arf cold outside afterwards.

As for last night, though, I was on my travels yet again.

I was up on the moor somewhere round by Northumberland and the Scottish border with a party of soldiers, maybe 100 of us, but we weren’t troops and in British Army soldiers but more like a throwback to Roman times, that kind of thing. We were in search of a powerful band of orc-like creatures who had been devastating this area. We had travelled so far into the wilderness and it was late in the day so the leaders of the party called for a halt for the night. He sent out two parties for observation. One of these parties had some kind of flying machine – a primitive light aeroplane made with a tubular aluminium frame but with no covering and they would fly over they area to see what was happening and see if any trace could be found of these orc-like people, while the second party, of which I was a member, would go to a watch-tower, something like a Martello tower not too far away, to liaise with whoever was in the aeroplane and receive their signals. So there we were, inside this watchtower but there was no sign of this plane – we waited and waited. Just when we considered that it was time to go back to the main party, we heard the plane flying over so the leader of our party took the lamp, a big black affair with a solar panel for recharging the battery (you have to admit that the Romans were very advanced technologically) and went outside. He didn’t return, so someone else went out, and found the first guy with an orc spear right through his body, thrown with tremendous force to the extent that it had gone halfway through him. At that moment he too was speared by the orcs, and this is how it went on. There were just 5 of us left and then the other party that had been with the aeroplane, they came back (minus the aeroplane). Not being quite aware of what was going on, I went down to meet these four people, who had a girl of about 4 with them. But there were also four other people there, two men and two women, and they were in business attire and the people from our party were looking at them. Suddenly, the penny dropped and I shouted out “run, you fools! Can’t you see that they are orcs!”. This led to something of a struggle and two of our group of four were cut down and the other two made it inside. But the little girl was left cowering by the door. I fought off these orcs and in a short time they had gone. I picked up the girl and went inside but the place was deserted. All that I could see were muddy orc footprints all over the walls and the ceiling. They had somehow managed to enter the building and removed the rest of our two parties while I was outside fighting. This left just me and the little girl, and we had to rejoin our main party a mile or two away, and God knows where these orcs were. Had they gone off with their captives, or had they killed them and were lying in wait for us, or were they attacking our main party. So we just had to grit our teeth and make a run for it, hoping that we would get through.
That was another unpleasant situation to be in and I was glad that a call of nature had aroused me from certain death. And after the usual trip down the corridor I was back with a group of children and there was gambling, people injecting themselves with needles and all of that kind of thing, which (strangely enough – or maybe not, as it happens) relates to a discussion that we were all having here on Saturday afternoon.

So now, having had my walk, I’m off for another early (but not quite so early) night. I have a blood test in the morning so I need to study.

Wednesday 10th February 2016 – IT SNOWED TODAY

Great big flakes, the size of dinner plates too! That’s what we had for about half an hour here round about 15:00 or so. It didn’t stick, unfortunately, otherwise it would have been something really impressive, but at least winter is back. That’s bad news for all of the plants that are growing, because one thing that I noticed on my way back from Montlucon the other day is that we have the blossom on the trees. This weather will have put paid to all of that.

We had another visitor too. Liz and Terry have a friend who lives out the other side of Les Ancizes and she passed by this afternoon to say hello. It’s nice to have company every now and again.

Apart from that, I’ve not done too much. I still have pains in my chest and in my side and it’s uncomfortable to sit for too long. Typing is difficult too as the constant movement of my arms and fingers is putting a strain on the muscles that have been injured.

And I’ve also been having to recover from my night-time voyages too. I’m still racking up the miles here and there as I travel about the world, and last night was no different. We started off with some kind of disturbance involving a group of kids going on a rampage in an underground car park, and I was eager to get away from all of this. I hopped into my car, a late-model Series III Hillman Minx, and headed off out of the exit. As I arrived at the end of the exit ramp I noticed that all of these kids were there, blockading the way out, so I did a smart u-turn and went back down again. These kids immediately drew the attention of a passing police car to me and so they all decided to set up an ambush for me. My car was actually quite conspicuous, because it had one of these exaggerated spoilers fitted to the boot – the type of aerodynamic spoiler that was fitted to the very first of the aerodynamic Formula One racing cars. I came out again at a different exit across the road, but was spotted so I had to go back down again. The third time that I tried to leave, it was at a different exit right across at the opposite end of the car park. It was at the top of a bank, at the far end of a surface-level car park which was totally empty so that you had a really good view of the surrounding area. And there was snow and slush just about everywhere. The entrance and exit to this surface car park were controlled by traffic lights which stopped the traffic on the main road. These worked sequentially so it was quite easy to work out the rhythm. This was important as I would only have one opportunity to make good my escape without being blocked in by the police and everyone else. I timed my run down the bank very, very carefully just so that I arrived there just as the lights turned to green which stopped all of the traffic on the main road, and I could squeeze my way out and nip off. By now, my car had transformed itself into an old PB Cresta … "it was actually a PA Cresta" – ed … and I was driving through this snow and slush and black ice and ended up in Tunstall (nothing like Tunstall of course). At the top end of the town was a roundabout with three roads feeding in, and it didn’t matter which road I took, it always brought me back to this roundabout again. On one occasion approaching this roundabout, a cyclist was following me and as driving a car in this kind of weather in Tunstall only meant for slow progress, I was exchanging conversation with this cyclist every time we caught up with each other. At one particular moment we came to a part, just before this roundabout, where the road narrowed. There was a church encroaching into the carriageway. Someone in a BMC 1300 was coming the other way and ended up on my side of the road, blocking the highway. I had a race to see if I could reach this part of the road before he completely blocked it off but we both arrived at the same time. In the end I had to swerve around him on the wrong side of the road and on the wrong side of these bollards to pass him and return to my side of the road. And then, of course, I ended up yet again back at this roundabout.
From here I went off on a sprawling, amazing ramble. I was involved in an incident with a girl but I can’t remember now who she was and what was going on. I liked this girl quite a lot and I’d spent some time trying to establish some kind of rapport with her. It ended up that she had to leave, and this meant going across this bailey bridge or pontoon bridge that was full of Chinese refugees fleeing some kind of attack. All of these people were struggling across this bridge that had been hastily thrown together and she was in a small car of some description, stuck in the middle of this bridge. Someone had given her a crystal ball and so while she was waiting for the crowd to advance, she was admiring this crystal ball. As the crowd began to advance, she slipped this crystal ball into the back pocket of her dress and started her car. At that moment, the crystal ball exploded, for it was really a booby-trapped bomb. From where I was standing, on the bank of the river I could see this pillar of dark brown smoke going up into the air from about where her car was situated. I went home to change my clothes. I’d been scratching myself and I’d scratched the heads off a couple of scabs on my legs and there were a few trails of blood running down my legs. I was intending to write a letter to this girl and I was writing her address on my knees for some reason or other. At this moment, Nerina put in an appearance. She’d been out since yesterday and was only just coming back. I commented upon her arrival, saying that it was quite a coincidence as I’d only been back long enough to write this address on my knees. Nerina replied that lunch would be ready soon, so I explained to her that I had to go out and deliver this letter, so hold up lunch until I came back. I wouldn’t be long. But as I was writing this letter I noticed that they started to lay the table downstairs. And then the food appeared, and of course that wasn’t in my plans at all. But then I noticed that all of my breakfast things were still on a tray in the corner of my room so I needed to take all of them downstairs. I still hadn’t finished this letter and I was becoming more and more annoyed by all of this. Having asked for lunch to be delayed, I was expecting someone to take notice of what I was saying.

Anyway, life is going to be like this for a good few weeks, I reckon. I’m just going to take it easy, not do too much and slowly recover. I have the nurse starting back tomorrow for my blood tests (and how I hope that the situation will at least have stabilised and that I don’t have to have any more transfusions) and so I’m going for an early night. The days of lying in look as if they are well and truly over for the foreseeable future.

Monday 18th January 2016 – WHAT A NIGHT!

I know that I went to bed early and tried to doze off to sleep but it wasn’t much good. Half an hour later, I was wide awake doing something on the computer again. It was beyond midnight eventually before I settled down and still couldn’t doze off. It’s been months since I’ve felt like this, hasn’t it.

As for my nocturnal rambles, I didn’t have the chance to go very far because it really was a fitful night. Although I only wandered off down the corridor once, I was awake, tossing and turning on several occasions. There’s clearly a great deal on my mind at the moment. And what rambles I did go on were quite disturbing – they certainly disturbed me and I shan’t repeat them on here because you might be eating your tea or something like that. Let’s just say that they were not for the faint-hearted, and anyone suffering from Coulrophobia (12% of the population of the USA apparently) will certainly not appreciate them.

I was up and about at the usual time and had to wait for the nurse – but I didn’t have to wait long for the nurse. I passed the time by making the fire flare up and putting more wood in it – we still had glowing red embers at 08:00. The nurse was unlucky today. He couldn’t make any blood vessel in my left arm work and in the end had to switch over to the right – something that I’ve been trying to avoid since I had my blood clot. But at least there was some blood there – I’d told him that the reason why he couldn’t find anything in the left arm was that it had all gone.

But it hasn’t all gone – in fact my blood count is up to 8.7 at the moment – the highest that it’s been for quite a while. The transfusion that I had last Friday evidently worked. But it will diminish over time and I’ll probably be back in there this coming Friday – they certainly didn’t call up tonight.

heavy snowfall january 2016 sauret besserve puy de dome franceAnd that’s just as well because we’ve had a really heavy snowfall today. Although most of it melted by late afternoon, at 14:00 it was looking quite ominous and I certainly didn’t fancy going anywhere at all. And neither did Liz and Terry. They had a car to rescue from near Menat and when it started snowing at about 09:30 they nipped off quickly before the roads became too bad, leaving me behind to hold the fort and man … "PERSON" – ed … the fire to keep it topped up.

In exchange, I asked Liz to post the letters that I had prepared and to pick up the next load of injections for me from the pharmacy in St Gervais. It’s pointless sending two cars out to the same place, particularly in this kind of weather. I stayed in and did some 3D work and some of my Animation course.

What we are studying this week is an animation technique called pixilation, which is where you use stop-motion photography to film humans so that it seems as if they are very realistic cartoon characters. It’s not what I would call animation and not what I want to learn, although many others on the course disagree. I’m hoping that pretty soon we’ll get onto Computer-generated animation, which is what I really want to do. However, it makes a great deal of sense to study the basics and learn the techniques.

Liz made a beautiful vegan chili for tea. Nice and hot which was just as well because earlier she had cut our hair. Mine is now really short and so the weather will certainly get at me if I have to go out, so loaded up with red-hot chili is a sensible solution.

So that’s it. I’m off for yet another early night. The joys of Swansea City against Watford I will miss tonight.Too much excitement is bad for me.

Friday 15th January 2016 – THE ROAD TO MONTLUCON …

… wasn’t too bad this morning. I was up bright and early … "well, maybe not so bright" – ed … at 07:00 and by 07:25 I was on the road with a nice thermal mug of hot coffee to keep me going.

I took it fairly easy and although Caliburn slipped around in a couple of places we didn’t have any big issues. Even going down the Font Nanaud wasn’t anything like the challenge that I expected it to be, and by the time that I reached whatever the name of the place is in between Marcillat and Villebret, the road was pretty clear. All in all, it only took me 10 or so minutes longer than usual and I was parked up at the hospital by 08:30 as usual.

Mind you, I’d beaten all of the staff of the day hospital into work so had to hang around 10 minutes before the doors opened up. And then, being first in, I could have my comfy spec in the armchair in the corner by the radiator and the power point.

It was the student nurse who came to fit my drain and that filled me full of foreboding. She was the one who had had three tries the other week before abandoning the job and calling for a friend. But today, to my surprise, not only did she do it in one, it was the least painful of all of them.

And here we had the confusion, much to my dismay. It was the young doctor who had telephoned yesterday to summon me to hospital, and although he had probably told the nurses that I was coming, there had been some confusion about the ordering of my blood. Consequently, I had to wait until about 11:15 for the blood to arrive. Then we had the new marvels of modern 21st-Century technology for warming up the blood – to wit – me stuffing it up my jumper.

At about 11:40, someone brought me a nice hot cup of coffee. I’d only been waiting since about 09:00 (the first time that I asked). But in the meantime I’d not been idle. I’d downloaded another whole pile of stuff from www.archive.org and now I reckon that I have a whole decent set of radio programmes to keep me company. I’ll have to check to see if I can find The Men From The Ministry because I forgot about that.

Running so late, I ordered lunch, and ended up with asparagus and tomato for starters, rice and boiled carrots with a bread roll for main course, and then apple purée and an orange for desert. Not the most exciting meal that I’ve ever had, by a long chalk, but it was quite filling and actually tasted quite nice.

It was 14:50 by the time that they had finished with me and I was really disappointed by this. But every cloud has a silver lining, for Ingrid was in the hospital and due to finish what she was doing at 15:00. So go down to the shops or have a coffee with Ingrid? No competition really, is there?

By 16:20 I was on the road and by then, the return journey was a very different story. There had been a flurry of snow in Montlucon at lunchtime and everyone had rushed to the window to see it. But by the time I reached Villebret there was much more than just a flurry and it gradually worsened the higher into the mountains that I climbed. The drag up to the Font Nanaud (height, 934 metres) was exciting, especially as there had been no snowplough or gritter south of Pionsat (I eventually met one, coming towards me from St Gervais) and I was right behind a Mercedes Vito towing a plant trailer with a mini-loader on the back.

He of course had no chance, but he did his best. Rear-wheel drive is useless in this weather when you are pulling something like that and he was sliding everywhere across the road, fighting for grip. He ought to have realised that it was pointless and should have turned round on the old railway track bed to go back down, but he pressed gamely on.

It wasn’t very long before the inevitable happened. He completely lost traction, slewed across the road and came to a shuddering stop. I couldn’t stop to help him because I would have lost traction too so I chugged on over the top and down the bank towards St Gervais.

snow january 2016 centre ornithologique st gervais d'auvergne puy de dome franceThe conditions round by St Gervais weren’t quite so bad as up on the Font, and the farther south that you travelled, the easier the route became.

By the time I got to Phoen … errr … the Centre Ornithologique, things had cleared quite considerably and the roads were much easier to move about, which was good news for me.

snow january 2016 centre ornithologique st gervais d'auvergne puy de dome franceI stopped here to take a few photographs of the snow, to record it for posterity. St Gervais, over there on the hill about 100 feet higher up than where I am, looks particularly covered and you can tell by the sky that there’s more to come.

Pulling away from here wasn’t easy either, with a couple of traction issues to get over the ridges made by the car tyres in the snow. But I was soon off and back down here to dig myself in for the foreseeable future.

I have no plans for going out anywhere else until my next hospital visit. And that’s a thought to depress just about anyone

Just in case you are wondering, we had none of the usual suspects, no family members and only one slight mention of a place of my previous existence during my nocturnal rambles of last night.

I’ve no idea where I was when I started off last night but it was a place that I certainly didn’t recognise, somewhere on the coast of the UK. It was a holiday resort, at a part of the town that was inland a little and high up with a view over the bay. There was quite a group of us and we’d heard that one of our rock heroes or bands was playing in this place at the carnival on the seafront. The word “Jubilee” was mentioned, and it turned out that Jubilee was a suburb of this particular town with access to the sea, so I was making a few enquiries to find out which trams we needed to catch to go there. There was a tram stop just outside the building where we were staying and I was trying to read the timetables and tram routes. But I was there for hours trying to find out which tram it was that went to Jubilee, with trams passing in front of me and all around me. In the end, I went back into the building, which was the hospital where I’d been a few days ago.
We then had an old woman putting in an appearance. I’ve no idea who she was but last night she was living next door to me and I had her doing quite a few of my affairs for me. I’d just turn up out of the blue and she’d do a few things for me and then I’d go off again. When I was there last time, and had her go along and do something for me, and as a reward I had paid for her haircut at the hairdressers. She said that she had only just been, so I told her to go again and have the same cut done, or something else, a second time. And so she ended up with almost no hair. She also said that next day she was going into hospital for an urgent operation but that cut no ice with me. I was supposedly in Crewe by this time, Alton Street or somewhere around there. I had wandered off somewhere and a couple of days later I was back, still looking for this Jubilee. I went into the local hospital and here I came across this woman. she’d had her surgery and I’d forgotten completely about it, so I had to pretend to be interested and to talk to her about it. I’d intended to go to see her later in the day in fact because this was really early in the morning when I arrived. But she was awake this early so we had the chat about her operation
From here I went off to work as a general handyman for some rich old lady. We were somewhere in an urban French environment and she took me with her, beckoned me to follow her around and through these old outbuildings into a large barn-type of place and through into a garage that fronted the street. I had to open the doors to let her friend in with a car. These buildings were full of what I thought were dead insects but she explained that they were immature crabs. She’d bought a huge pile of them but ended up with 100 too many but rather than take them back she’d just dumped them out of the car and they had all died. So we managed to bring the car in and then we went off, her beckoning me to follow once more up to a gallery place with a metal walkway. She’d erected a kind of metal fence around it that went around a kind of headland that she owned or had something to do with. It seemed that the neighbours had objected to the fence (it was merely strands of barbed wire) and so it had to be pulled up, so that was my job. Some guy who worked for some Civil Service body was watching me, telling me what a good job it was in the Civil Service and how I ought to apply to work there. But I was busy pulling up these stakes and coiling up this wire. He wanted to know what I was going to do with this wire so I replied that I was going to keep it – one of the perks of my job. He had quite a moan about that. meantime, I’d noticed that this wire was swinging around all over the road so I had to go down and coil it up properly. I’d also had to consult my telephone to see what was going on because someone else had started this job with me but had gone again, so I wanted to see where he was. However, I somehow managed to connect to a film on this telephone – a black-and-white film of the 30s with some film star appearing in it and I couldn’t stop it – each time that I tried to press “stop” or to switch it off, I had a “buy it now” screen. The volume was set quite loud – I couldn’t lower that and everyone in the area could hear it.

And so despite my trip to Montlucon today, I reckon that I’m still cracking up far more miles during the night. It’s hardly any surprise that I’m so exhausted these days.

But I do wonder what it is that they are putting in my food to make all of this happen.

Friday 6th February 2015 – NOW HERE’S YET ANOTHER THING;

Yes, I curtailed my lunch break today.

And there was a good reason to. It was cold today in my attic and I didn’t feel much like hanging around. I reckoned that I may as well go back to work early and then knock off early, and come up here and light a fire.

But it didn’t quite work out like that.

This morning it was comparatively warm up here compared to what it was on the groud floor – 12.8°C here compared to a mere 0.4°C downstairs. And with 3°C in the bedroom, at least the decorators’ door that I fitted yesterday is doing something. Especially when outside, we’d had heavy snow during the night and it was minus 4°C, and that was how it stayed for the day.

I cracked on with the window surround this morning and I made good progress. One side was done and half of the other was done by lunchtime. and I was impressed by that.

But with the curtailed lunch break I attacked the rest of it and despite a few distractions, such as scavenging around for offcuts of the type that I’m using. And even though it got colder and colder, and now I know why old-time carpenters preferred tools with wooden handles after handling metal tools all day in 4°C, I put in a good shift. And even though I was intending to knock off early, it was 18.30 when I knocked off.

window surround bedroom les guis virlet puy de dome franceMind you, it was worth it, because as you can see, the window is now finished – except for the varnishing and the beading, but that’s not going to be done for quite a while. It’s too cold for varnishing and I don’t have any of the correct-sized beading.

But I am impressed with this. It’s certainly better than the first effort, but then fitting the wooden sill instead if tiling it gave it a much better start.

Up here it was 8.9°C – the lowest that it’s been for a couple of years while I’ve actually been here, but the temperature outside is plummeting alarmingly. A nice roaring fire and a plate of vegan sausages and mash however quickly put some heart in me.

And you can tell who is a Government employee and who is self-employed. I’ve seen neither hide nor hair of the postie for a week, yet the boulangère struggled down here, half a mile here and half a mile back through the snow on foot to bring me the weekend’s bread. Hats off to Sophie!

Thursday 5th February 2015 – 12.8°C IN HERE THIS MORNING.

Hardly surprising, seeing as how downstairs it was all of 1.4°C. And (even at 10:00) it was minus 4.5°C outside.

decorator's door landing les guis virlet puy de dome franceConsequently, I have this morning fitted a decorator’s door to the head of the stairs on the landing.

These are great things, thrown together out of a bit of old plastic sheet and scrap offcuts of wood. Their main purpose is to stop the passage of dust into areas that are being painted, but they also work for keeping in the het and keeping out the cold. IN fact, you can feel the difference either side of the door so it’s clearly working. And as the temperature dropped downstairs, on the first floor we remained at a rather comfortable, if not balmy, 4.5°C

So having done that, and done some more tidying up, what was next?

windowsill bedroom les guis virlet puy de dome franceAhhh yes. We now have a windowsill in the bedroom.

This is from an offcut of pine board and normally it would be having about 3 coats of varnish on it. But that’s a waste of time with the temperature in the bedroom at 4.5°C.

The board took ages to fit as it needed to be carefully cut and shaped, and it’s come out quite well. But one unforeseen problem was that the window wouldn’t open with the sill in position. But that power belt sander that I bought the other day is superb, even if it did break the belt. Ith having something like some sun this afternoon I could use it. It did a really good job of sanding down where necessary and now there’s about 3mm of clearance under the window.

After lunch I tracked down some thin wood offcuts such as scrap tongue and groowing and nailed them to the wall inside the window and then started to clad the inside of the window with tongue and grooving like I did to the window at the head of the stairs. I have some of the t&g left over from when I did the bedroom ceiling and together with the offcuts from other projects, I should have enough to do a decent job there

I’ll post a pic when I’m finished with that.

I knocked off at 18:30 and it was just 9.3°C in here. And it’s snowing heavily outside too. If that’s not enough, the 10-day long-range weather forecast is promising not much let-up in the weather. It’s a good job that I don’t really need anything from the shops, as I won’t be able to go to fetch it.

Sunday 1st February 2015 – WHAT A DAY!

I had a nice little lie-in until about 09:30 and then I was up and about to see what the weather was doing. And we were having the heaviest snowfall that we have had for a couple of years.

That put paid to just about every plan that I had for today.

Instead I stayed by the fire, watched a film and uninstalled all of my 3D programs. You might well wonder why, but I’ve come to realise that I’m doing everything back to front and making far more work for myself. As well as that, some new product that has been released would simply not work at all and as the support for the previous versions has now discontinued, I needed to have it sorted out;

After many vicissitudes, several false starts and some help from a contributor in an on-line forum, which included the classic, if not legendary explanation “Just because you’ve used the program’s automatic installer does not mean that it has installed the files where the program is looking for them” – and I wish that I could have a pint of whatever the software designers were drinking when they thought that a satisfactory manner of progressing.

But much to my surprise, once I’d sorted that out it fired up first time and seems to work perfectly.

I’ll try it again tomorrow to see, but if this is indeed the case, then not only can I completely bin the older version and everything that i’ve done on it, I can bin the last couple of months’ work too.

As a postscript to today’s post, something has happened that I don’t think has ever happened before.

We had absolutely no solar energy – hardly surprising seeing as how much snow fell during the day (the snow in the raingauge melted down to 13.5mm of rain, so that’s about 135mm of snow). That’s happened a couple of times of course, but it was not a totally blank day, because I had about half an hour of wind and thus a small amount of wind energy.

I’m sure that this is the first time that I’ve had more wind energy than I’ve had solar energy.