Tag Archives: helen_p

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wherever did I find the time to go to sleep?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At the ticket office they proposed the following itinerary –

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


Only three hours later than usual.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s all I needed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday 17th October 2021 – I WAS ONLY …

ile de chausey yachts baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021… half-right about last night.

While you admire a couple of photos of maritime activity today, I can tell you all about it

It was almost 03:00 (in fact 02:50) when I finally fell into bed this morning but as for the “sleep through until tomorrow afternoon” bit, I was wide awake at 09:25.

There was no possibility of going back to sleep either and by 10:00 I was up and about and taking my medication.

Plenty of stuff on the dictaphone from overnight. I was with a friend from school and his sister, a girl on whom I had quite a crush at school and who has appeared in my nocturnal rambles on a few memorable occasions in the past. There was something going on about jeans that was happening or had happened in Shavington and she hadn’t seen us. I said that if I’d known that it was going to be in Shavington I’d have been there to see her (but I didn’t add those last three words on when I spoke to her). The conversation rolled on from there and she started to measure me for jeans. She couldn’t understand what was going on with my lower legs so she rolled up my trousers and saw my elasticated stockings and bandages and all the other kinds of paraphernalia and burst into tears. I took her into my arms to console her and said ‘you can understand why it is that I have said that I have had to give up so much of my activities just recently because of all this but don’t worry. I’m still here” – some consoling words like that. But that was a situation that I found extremely touching and I wish that things like that would have happened to me in real life instead of all of the fighting with which I had to contend back in those days. Some emotion expressed to my benefit would have been a wonderful thing for me, but I must stop trying to look backwards because that ship sailed a long, long time ago.

There was a girl called Marie Uriah, whoever she was when she was at home, if she ever was. I thought that something had happened to her as she was being treated by the doctors. When the doctors’ surgery split up her case was retained here for some unknown reason. She was a girl rather similar to Castor by the way. In the meantime we were=we were tidying out the garage. We’d had three cars in there. We’d been using one and then another then instead of the second we decided to use the 3rd and then the 2nd instead of the first. That meant swapping a load of stuff around. We’d been house-decorating and rebuilding it. We had tons of cheap plastic and copper piping so I was sorting that ut and putting it into the eaves of the garage. Nerina came home and asked what we were doing so I explained it to her. At first she couldn’t see why I was keeping all of this stuff but when we explained that we were going to need this for future she seemed to agree with it. We had a chat about things that we were planning to do so she said that she wanted to see this and this and this, and she wanted to see the file on this Marie Uriah and her National Insurance number. Another night sweat.

There was something to do with ice-skating rinks last night and I’d been asked to give evidence. Someone asked me in how many cases I’d given evidence to which I replied “probably 70-odd”. They asked why I considered myself to be an expert so I replied that I didn’t but everyone else did. There was much more to it than this but I just can’t remember now.

boats baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021With it being a Sunday I had a very quiet morning, not doing very much at all except vegetating.

After all, the journey home yesterday takes a lot out of me I had to recover my strength after my exertions, although that new route that I tried wasn’t half as exerting as the regular route.

Later on though, I finally galvanised myself into action and paired off the music for the radio programme that I’ll be preparing tomorrow.

And while I’m on the subject, I need to have a look round and see what Christmas songs I have for my programme that will be broadcast on Christmas Day

After lunch I had a pile of photos to sort through from my trip to Leuven. These are all now edited and when I transcribe the piles of dictaphone notes that accumulated, I’ll go back and edit the relevant entries.

No sooner do I catch up one lot of outstanding stuff, I fall behind with another. What upset everything was of course my having to go to the hospital on Thursday morning.

When I went to take out some dough for this evening’s pizza, I discovered that there wasn’t any. I must have used up the last lot last Sunday. As a consequence I had to prepare another batch and it didn’t turn out too badly.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021It’s been a long time since I’ve been out for a walk around the headland, what with being off on my travels, so I was keen to be out there again.

There wasn’t very much beach out there this afternoon. The tide is well in right now, as I discovered as I peered over the wall.

There were plenty of people down there as well taking advantage of what beach there was, and even some of them brave enough to go out into the water up to their waists. Braver people than I am, I have to say. You wouldn’t catch me in there quite like that.

yachts baie de granville Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021It was a really nice afternoon out there, considering that it’s mid-October.

Quite sunny, not too much wind at all, the kind of weather that brings the people out in their hordes. And even out on the water too, as you have already seen. A couple of yachts, a couple of speedboats, a cabin cruiser or two. The bay was full of them.

And people over there on the beach by the airfield as well enjoying themselves in the sun, although I’m not sure about the tractors out there disturbing the peace.

film camera crew lorries place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021On the car park, the workmen’s compound that was there has long-gone but it seems that we now have other activity there.

Part of the car park has been cordoned off with a couple of rows of cones, and in that section, there are several lorries and trailers that are parked there.

There were the usual “no waiting” notices scattered about, and so I went for a closer look. Apparently that area is reserved for “film crews making a film”. It looks as if once again, the town is going to be the scene of another cinematographic epic.

It’s happening quite regularly these days.

fishermen in zodiac baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021Fighting my way through the masses this afternoon I headed off down the path towards the lighthouse.

As well as all of the other boats that we have seen already, there was a zodiac a way out offshore with a group of people therein.

Enlarging the photo when I returned home, I could see that they were fishermen having a go at whatever they would catch which, while I was watching, wasn’t anything at all.

There was on aerial activity this afternoon. Not even one Birdman of Alcatraz, so I wandered off around the end of the headland.

cabanon vauban people on bench pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021Down the path and across the car park, I came to the very end of the headland.

Down at the bench near the cabanon vauban there was quite a crowd and I thought to myself that if they all intend to sit on the bench, they must be very close friends. But the perch of the guy on the extreme right looked rather precarious to mr.

It was here that I was buttonholed by a passer-by who asked me if it is possible to see the Mont St Michel from here.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, we can see the hotels on the mainland from down by the bench, but not the Mont St Michel itself because the Pointe de Carolles is in the way.

yachts les epiettes chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021It’s been a long time since I’ve had a good look in the chantier naval so I was keen to see how things were developing.

My trip down the path on the south side of the headland brought me to the viewpoint overlooking the yard where I was disappointed to see that there was no change in there from before I went away.

The big yacht is still in there, as is the little Government boat Les Epiettes. Wouldn’t it have been nice to have seen a couple of trawlers in there as well? I’m missing the overcrowding in the yard.

la grande ancre port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021Not very much happening over at the ferry terminal this afternoon, but there was something happening over at the Fish Processing Plant.

Just pulling away from the wharf over there was La Grande Ancre with quite a load of shellfish boxes on board, so it looks as if she’s off to try her hand herself at bringing a pile of shellfish back home.

Talking of “back home”, I wasn’t going to hang about too long. I could do with going back home and having a nice, hot mug of coffee. It might be warm out here this afternoon, but a mug of hot coffee is always welcome.

philcathane port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021Passing the inner harbour, I looked down to see what was happening in the inner harbour.

To my surprise, the dredger St-Gilles Croix-de Vie is no longer in there, and neither are the tubes that were floating about on the water. It’s all been happening while I’ve been away, hasn’t it?

Back here, I made myself a coffee and came in here to sit down for a few minutes. And later on I made a start at unpacking my suitcase from my trip. That was a good idea that was, taking the larger suitcase.

Later on, I went to assemble my pizza.

vegan pizza place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021No fresh mushrooms unfortunately so I had to make do with tinned ones. I’d drained them earlier and while the oven was heating up, I put them in the oven to dry out.

As for the pizza itself, it really was delicious. Not the best that I have ever made but it was certainly pretty good.

Now that I’ve written my notes, I’m going to have a quiet relax for a while and then go to bed. I’m up early in the morning because I have a radio programme to prepare and I need to be on form for that.

And I mustn’t forget – there’s shopping to do tomorrow when I finish or there will be nothing to go on my butties at lunchtime.

Monday 16th August 2021 – WE HAD TO WAIT …

yellow autogyro ponte du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall… for a good few days longer than I expected but nevertheless we got there in the end.

Sure enough, while I was out walking around the headland this afternoon, out of the clouds in the distance with its old familiar rattling came the old yellow autogyro from the direction of Avranches and the Pointe de Carolles.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I had anticipated her arrival a few days ago and as if to make up for her rather late arrival, she did a couple of laps around my head before disappearing off into the sunset and that was that.

grandstand port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnother thing that we have been eagerly anticipating for the last few days is to find out whatever is going to be happening down at the loading bay on the quayside.

The information still hasn’t filtered through but all of the equipment, including the grandstand is still down there.

As well as that, where that kind of rectangle was that we saw yesterday, we now have a couple of tents that have sprung up like little mushrooms. And we have even grown a couple of potted palms over the course of the day, as well a couple of bizarre objects, red and yellow.

tents quayside port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd it isn’t just there that things are happening.

All along the quayside down there and out into the car park at the side, there are yet more tents, marquees and other different things, and a few noticeboards indicating whatever might be going on.

As I’m off to Leuven tomorrow, I’ll probably miss whatever it is, but I shall go that way towards the railway station for a closer look and see what I can discover.

The plot sickens.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. Let us return to our moutons as they say around here, and start at the very beginning.

Once more, going to bed early doesn’t seem to make all that much difference because I still had a very tormented sleep and it didn’t seem to make all that much difference as to how tired I am.

After the medication I checked my mails and then made a start on the radio programme. And by 11:20 I was finished as well, despite having stopped for breakfast – a slice of fruit bread (I’ve given up the hot chocolate as it’s starting to show).

And had I not had to redo some of it and choose another track in the middle to replace one that didn’t work as I would have liked, I could have been finished a long time before that too.

Having dealt with that, I listened to the programme to make sure that it was correct, and while I was doing that I booked the rail ticket for tomorrow from Brussels to Leuven and back again. By the time that it was all finished it was almost time for lunch.

After lunch I had the tidying up to do because the nurse is coming round to give me my injection and the place needs to look as if someone actually lives here.

The rest of the afternoon was spent transcribing the dictaphone notes, and there were tons and tons of them too, and it took me ages.

The stuff for Sunday took ages and ages, but it was all done and it went on-line to update yesterday’s journal entry.

There had been a couple of interruptions while I’d been doing it. Firstly the nurse came round and injected me. I hope that it will propel me up the hill tomorrow to the railway station.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallSecondly, there was the afternoon walk around the headland, which of course always starts with a look down to the beach to see what is happening.

Off across the car park I went and over to the wall at the end of the car park where I could look over the wall. Not many people down there this afternoon but then again there wasn’t all that much beach to be on.

Nobody was quite brave enough to take to the water to any great degree this afternoon which wasn’t a surprise because there was a biting wind this afternoon that was quite really quite cold

Here I met one of my neighbours and we had a good chat, interrupted by a frantic chase back across the car park to rescue my cap that had Gone With The Wind

f-gbai ROBIN DR 400-140B pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hallwhile we were chatting we were overflown a couple of times by various aircraft, but I only managed to detach myself long enough to catch one of them.

She’s our old favourite F-GBAI, one of the Robin DR 400-140B aircraft that belong to the Granville Aero Club. We’ve seen more of her just recently than we have of all of the other aircraft in total.

She took off from the airfield at 14:12 and flew several laps up and down the coast and even inland for some distance before coming back to land at 16:33. My photo was timed at (adjusted) 16:15 so she still had some time to remain in the air before landing.

sparrowhawk bird of prey pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallF-GBAI wasn’t the only flying object that we were able to photograph this afternoon.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, there are some birds of prey that loiter around the edge of the cliffs looking for animals, baby rabbits and anything else that might do for an appetising lunch.

We started off with one but it seems to be a happy hunting ground down there because there are now three or four of them.

Incidentally, I am informed that they are sparrowhawks. Not that I would know, of course. While I am a very keen birdwatcher, it’s not this kind of bird that usually attracts my attention.

fishermen in zodiac pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere was plenty of activity going on out of the wind in the Baie de Mont St Michel so I wandered off in that direction.

There was a zodiac with fishermen aboard coming around the headland and I knew what was likely to happen once they came out of the lee of the headland so I waited.

Sure enough, the wind and the waves that hit them gave them a very nasty moment.

It reminds me of the story of the zodiacs aboard THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR. They all carry names, but prior to that they had numbers.
One day, the captain was bellowing down the loud-hailer “Zodiac number 61 – come back to the ship”.
No response, so he called again. Still no response, so he called a third time.
Suddenly realising that there were only 20 zodiacs aboard, he changed his tune and shouted “zodiac number 19 – do you have a problem?”

cabin cruiser yacht school baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut as I said earlier, there was plenty of activity going on in the bay out of the wind.

The first things that caught my eye were the yachts of one of the sailing school. There were a couple of schools out there this afternoon, taking advantage of the tide and the shelter that was afforded by the headland.

As well as that, there were all kinds of other boats out there – a cabin cruiser goign along at quite a rate and a small motor boat that might be something to do with the yachts of the sailing school – maybe the instrructor with a loud-hailer.

trawler charlevy trafalgar chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAlong the path on the southern side of the headland, I took myself down to the viewpoint overlooking the port and in particular the chantier naval.

And we’ve had another change of occupant down there this afternoon. We’re now back up to our seven boats again and I really ought one of these days go down and enquire about their names. But that won’t be this week as I’m off to Leuven tomorrow as I mentioned earlier.

But I can’t keep up with the speed at which they are coming and going these days. They are wearing me out and I don’t have the energy to keep on nipping down there to check before they clear off back into the water and another lot take their place.

tents car park port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallBefore I go back to the apartment and carry on with the dictaphone notes, we can see the final shot that I took of what’s going on down at the end of the port.

As you can see, the tents and whatever it is that they have erected have continued out into the car park, the area where the fishermen keep their shellfish drags and where the fresh shellfish are sold. It’s clearly going to be something quite important to take up all of that space.

With all of the lorries being there, it looks as if they are only just setting up their equipment. That means that they probably won’t be doing whatever they will be doing until the weekend.

Eventually, I finished off the notes from yesterday and then pounced upon the pile that related to last night. And if anything, there were even more of them.

Last night I started off on a ship, the THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR or something last night in the Antarctic. We were involved with icebergs and so on and there was a very famous poem that had been written about ships and icebergs and somehow I was trying to make the poem match up with those on board the ship but I awoke before I’d gone very far with this.

And later we were discussing the ferries and in particular the ones out to the Ile de Chausey and the trips that they do around the bay and the Ile de Chausey but I can’t remember now how the story went

Later still I was around at the farm of a friend of mine from school and was talking to one of the young girls who worked there – it might even have been Percy Penguin. I’d just been into the farmhouse to use the bathroom and as I was leaving someone came to the door. Whoever I was with asked if I knew who it was and I said “no”. She replied “what a shame. You could have found out and they could have babysat while we went out”. After a couple of minutes I thought that i’d go back and find out and pretend that I needed the bathroom again. Just as I arrived these people were disappearing down the drive. One of them just looked from the rear like the sister of my friend except maybe a little younger. In the house I talked to their mother and she showed me her new Avon purchase which was something for putting tea into for dropping into a cup like a reusable tea bag. We had quite a talk about that. When I returned I explained things to the girl I was with. She asked “didn’t you ask if she would babysit for us anyway?”

But here’s a thing. After making those notes I stepped right back into where I had left off before dictating the previous notes, back on the farm. My friend and his little sister, on whom actually I had quite a crush back 50-odd years ago, were there. They were laughing and joking and she was sitting on him and generally being a pest. He said “why don’t you go and sit somewhere else?”. So me, ever the opportunist, said “come and sit on me instead” and much to my surprise she did. I thought “God, I’m popular”. We sat there, the three of us, talking and I had my arm round her at one point. Then she had to go and clear off and fetch the dinner as there was a big party taking place. She was serving everyone around and still coming over to talk and chat to me occasionally here and there. I couldn’t believe my luck. I thought “how on earth is this going to end?” but it ended up by me sitting bolt upright wide awake with probably the greatest feeling of disappointment I have ever had in my life and I would have given all that I had to have gone back into that dream again at that point and see how it finished. It was just as if 50 years had suddenly vanished from my life.

That was probably the most powerful, realistic and optimistic dream that I have ever had since the famous WORLESTON INCIDENT all those years ago and the fact that I cans till remember that particular voyage so well after all these years shows you just how much of an impression that made on me. And this one will probably be the same. It’s another one of these that has left quite a disturbing effect.

Having dealt with all of that I went and made tea. A fry-up of everything that was left in the kitchen that wouldn’t keep until I return.

And now I’m off to bed. It’s not early but still earlier than it has been here and there. There’s a lot to do in the morning before I head off for the train.

Monday 10th August 2020 – IT’S NOT EVERY …

… day that I have the chance to ride in a rickshaw is it? but today I really did. A 1928 machine made by the Bombay Bicycle Company, as it happens.

Yes, I’m back in Eching in Germany and this is one of the many pieces of unusual equipment that my friend Hans happens to own.

Donauhotel Lettnerhof Au An der Donau austria eric hallLast night’s sleep in my luxury hotel was one of the best that I have had for quite some time – and that’s saying something because there have been some good ones just recently. I was up and about quite early too and had plenty of things to do before I left.

Like listen to the dictaphone

I was with a group of people last night and we were in the old Chemistry building in school, the H block and there was a football match taking place on the playing field. We all trooped off to one of the rooms to watch it. There was probably half a dozen of us – Zero, who has been with me on several nocturnal rambles over the years was there and a few others but we couldn’t see very much at all. The end room was the best one so we picked up all of our stuff, all our cables and leads and walked down to the end room. Surprisingly all these cables actually reached so we could get to the big picture window there and watch the game. The game was down the bottom field, people in green against people in blue and black and a similar team playing on a steep slope on a 5-a-side pitch. There was another couple of games going on and we couldn’t work out which was which. We came to the conclusion or decided that this wasn’t a very good place to be all. Something happened and we were like catapulted out of this room, two of us, me and a guy, and we ended up back down at the bottom so we walked along. By this time the people were sitting there and playing cards. This guy grabbed a seat as if to play cards and I stood there taking to everyone. There was a girl there who was dealing and she had a very heavy indented cleft palate with teeth growing up through the skin of her lips, like outside her lips. People were talking but it wasn’t about this game of football. This game of football had somehow disappeared so I don’t know what has happening about that now.

Later on, I’d had a schoolfriend and someone else in my car during the night and they’d left a pile of shopping behind so I went round to see them. My friend was very pleased to see me and I got loads of stuff out, bags of food that he had left behind. He didn’t really want it, thinking that I needed it but he didn’t want the coconut slices because they had been in contact with the inside of my holdall thing. Then he started to sit down to tell me that his sister had disappeared and how he would give all he owned to know that she was safe and brought back, and this was something that I could help him with.

And too right too. I was a big fan of his sister when we were at school and later, when she was at College in Manchester we had a few dates together. I should be so lucky!

Ironically, when I was musing over people who had been to accompany me on my nocturnal rambles, I’d mentioned this girl and I wondered why she had never come along with me. So here’s your answer. She’s disappeared off that particular ethereal plane.

river danube au an der donau austria eric hall No breakfast though today. I wasn’t hungry.

To start the day I went for a walk along the river bank to stretch my legs before I hit the road and despite it being so warm, there was a lovely early-morning mist rising up off the river but I didn’t think that it would last very long.

My ice cream stall was closed, as you might expect. Not that I was hungry of course, but it would have been nice to have had another one of those banana sorbets

river danube au an der donau austria eric hallThe previous photo was looking east, or downstream, the way that I had come. This way is looking upstream to the west, the way that I was going.

As you can see, the River Danube is nice and wide, free-flowing and not too fast. It goes without saying that there’s a marina close by because it’s just the kind of place where your average weekend sailor can don his navy blue cap and blazer and have a little potter about on whatever passes for ocean waves around here.

But I bet that it’s not always this calm. The levées here would tell you everything about that, looking at the height and width of them. There must be some incredible floods around here in late spring when the snow is melting.

gasthaus marktstrasse au an der dnu austria  eric hallCarefully dodging the squadrons of cyclists out for an early-morning ride I walked some way along the path on top of the levée to see what I could see.

As you might expect with it being a kind of resort town on the river there are quite a few amenities for tourists such as inns, taverns, guest houses and the like. But I was eminently happy with where I stayed last night

For example, the price. I was right about that. I certainly hadn’t imagined it. It was indeed €63:20 for a room that would cost three times that in a hotel in the UK or the USA. I’ll be back here again, that’s for sure.

And then I hit the road. 09:30 and it was already approaching 30°C. This was going to be another long, hot day.

old London Transport Routemaster naderers au an der donau austria eric hallHowever I didn’t get very far at first. There’s a travel company called Naderers here and as I threaded my way through the maze of streets I came across their transport yard. And parked up at the back of it was this interesting old London Transport Routemaster, whatever that was doing here.

Having made subsequent enquiries, I’m told that it’s RML2473 owned by Sabtours apparently and, rarely, it’s fitted with a Cummins engine instead of an AEC or a Leyland engine.

And behind it were some even more interesting items that look as if they might have been old tramcars from some ancient urban network.

And that wasn’t all of the excitement either.

There was quite a traffic queue for ages, cause by a couple of slow-moving vehicles that took ages to pass, but that was because, as I discovered later, we were stuck in roadworks. I missed my turning and had to do a U-turn, go back and do it all again.

abandoned steyr bus gusen austria eric hallEventually we were routed off into a diversion and here I came to another halt because parked up on an industrial estate was another old bus.

An Austrian Steyr this time a stage carriage vehicle I reckon and about which I know nothing at all, except to say that it was appropriate to the place, seeing as Steyr had a small factory here in World War II making rifle barrels.

Doing a U-turn in traffic to go back to see it was not easy either. While I was there looking at it I took a photo, but none of my “usual suspects” were able to identify the bus at all.

Eventually we left the diversion and rejoined the main road. My route followed the Danube for a while and then headed off into the hills.

And up there I found a service station selling diesel at just €0:91 – the cheapest that I’ve seen for years – so I fuelled up, only to find one even cheaper a short distance further on, as regular readers of this rubbish will probably have come to expect by now.

But in the main tt was a really depressing drive today in the heat, with roadworks, more diversions, farm vehicles and, at one stage two heavy lorries for about 35 kilometres and nowhere to pass all conspiring to slow me down.

I’d managed to find some bread for lunch, almost coming to grief at a roundabout, but finding a spot in the shade to park up to eat it was something else.

lunch stop near velden germany eric hallIt seemed to me that I must have driven for hours trying to find a quiet shady spot and I was very quickly becoming fed up of all of this. My humour does not improve in the heat.

In the end I found a little clump of trees with a forester’s path going up between them. The path was very tight but I reversed up there all the same as far as I could go until I was totally surrounded by trees and shade.

And here I sat with my butties and a good book and a closing of my eyes for half an hour while the sun moved slowly away and I could resume my drive in something more like comfortable weather.

My way to Eching came through the Airport at Munich – at least I now know where that is – so I parked up and went to find Hans in his shop. I stayed there until closing time and then had my rickshaw ride to the Beer Garden. Salad and chips and alcohol-free beer for tea. After all, this is the suburbs of Munich.

We had an interesting chat with a couple of people about motor bikes and the girl fell in love with Strawberry Moose. But now it’s late and I’m off to bed. It’s a busy day tomorrow.

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.

Friday 26th February 2016 – AND THE ANSWERS …

… to last night’s questions are “Nowhere” and “No-one”.

I had my early night last night of course, but didn’t go straight to bed as I had a few things that needed doing. So I attended to them first while I was off on another nostalgia trip listening to my “Simple Minds” concert – the one that I engineered for Radio Anglais.

Eventually though, I was able to settle down and watch “Inspector Hornleigh on Holiday” – with the missing part recovered and the missing soundtrack restored and it was just as good as I remember it being. It’s quite possibly the best of the trilogy of films, I reckon.

And once I had settled down for the night, the next thing that I remember was the alarm clock going off at 07:45. First time for ages that I’ve managed to sleep right through the night, and also the first time for ages that I’ve not been on a nocturnal ramble (or, at east, a nocturnal ramble that I can recall). I’m not sure whether to be really pleased about the good night’s sleep that I’ve had, or sad that I didn’t go off walkabout during the night. As I’ve said before, these nocturnal rambles are the only way that I’m bringing some excitement into my life and relieving the boring existence of what is effectively an imprisonment right now.

It took me a good while to struggle out of bed and make my way downstairs, and much to my surprise, I managed to coax the boiler into life and had a lovely blaze going by the time that everyone else came downstairs. My technique must be improving.

Liz and Terry went off shopping this morning and left me to my own devices. I had a play with some of the new purchases that I made yesterday from the 3D Store that I use and generally took it easy. And I’ve also made great progress with my dictaphone notes for Canada 2014. I’m now on the outskirts of Montreal which means that I have only four days of voyage to transcribe. Who knows? I might even be able to do all of this over the weekend and that will please me greatly.

Now there’s one thing for which I should be grateful now that I am retired. And that is that I can’t possibly be sacked from my employment. Had I still been in employment and sent the mail that I sent out late this afternoon, I would have been in serious danger of being handed my hat.

But my excuse is that I was unnecessarily provoked.

I wrote to the Médecin Conseil of my Health Insurance provider to explain that the operation that I had four weeks ago (God! is it THAT long ago?) had evidently failed and that I reckoned that I ought to go somewhere for a second opinion. This will involve them in added expense and so I needed to consult them beforehand, to make them aware of what was going on and to approve the expenditure, and to see if they could recommend someone well-worth his salt, someone at the top of the profession who could give me the best possible advice.

I received the very helpful (I don’t think) reply of Nous ne pouvons, le médecin conseil, ne peut pas nommer aucun hôpital, vu que chacun a le libre choix de se déplacer à l’ hôpital de son choix _ crudely (and if you want “crudely”, then in the words of the late, great Bob Doney, “I’m your man”) translated by Yours Truly as “we on behalf of the Médecin Conseil cannot give out the name of any hospital, seeing that everyone has the free choice to go to any hospital of his choice”.

That’s all very well of course, but how on earth do you know which hospital to try and which hospital has the best reputation, and which hospital has the most efficient service etc. etc?. And which consultant is the most experienced and has the best connections? The hospital here clearly isn’t even sure about what illness I’m supposed to have so what hope do I have of knowing?

And so I sent them back a reply that would have blistered the paint in their office, and I ended up by asking if vu que chacun a le libre choix de se déplacer à l’ hôpital de son choix wasn’t merely a more-complicated way of saying “we couldn’t care less”?

As you can see, I can rule them out of any active involvement in my future well-being (such as it is) and as the hospital at Montlucon clearly has already run out of ideas (I’m really surprised that they haven’t been in contact with me this week to discuss the dramatic drop in my blood count) then I really am on my own here.

I have sore misgivings, and I don’t even have any ointment to rub on them.

And before I go, I would like to wish a happy birthday today to a girl who once played some kind of role in my life 45 or so years ago. I’m astonished that, with all of these various people making all kinds of cameo appearances in my nocturnal rambles, that she is yet to make her on-stage début. I would have placed her at odds-on to have made an appearance a long time before now.

Sunday 28th August 2011 – It was Sunday today

And so following the principle of “on the seventh day”, I had a nice long lie-in and for most of the day I haven’t done a tap.

This morning I’ve managed to finish a book that I’ve been reading and then I went to track down some more stuff that I need to take with me to Canada. I want to have my packing finished by tomorrow afternoon.

This afternoon I transcribed the rest of my notes from Canada 2010. You might remember that the dictaphone that I had broke down in the USA. That one recorded on either 1.2 or 2.4 ips but I have an ancient one here that records on 1.8 ips and so I’ve managed to transcribe the notes from that, even though I do sound rather like Donald Duck on it.

I’ve recorded a few more CDs to take with me – some Help Yourself, some Lindisfarne and finally (because I won’t be doing any more) Live in the City of Light by Simple Minds.

None of these were difficult choices. Help Yourself I first encountered on Man’s “All Good Clean Fun” Tour and Help Yourself’s subsequent classic
Good Clean Fun has passed our way and gone
But we’re glad that we have met someone
With a little bit of funk and soul
Man we’re glad we know you!

And not only that, if you are fed up of lead guitar solos where the guitarist plays a million notes so quickly that you can’t hear what he’s playing, then have a listen to the lead guitar solo on “Reaffirmation”. THAT‘s how you play a guitar solo.

Lindisfarne were of course the first serious group I ever saw live, Christmas 1971 at “Up the Junction” in Crewe. I was 17, my girlfriend at the time was nearly 15 and as it was a private members’ club, we borrowed the membership cards of my sister and her husband to get in. That was the night that the rest of the band left Jacka on the stage to play the harmonica solo in “We Can Swing Together” while they dashed off to the pub across the road. At 10:30 the club locked its doors as it was required to do by law, and when the band came back 2 minutes later they couldn’t get back in. They had to bang on the door for 15 minutes before someone would let them back in and poor Jacka was exhausted – the longest gobiron solo in the history of the planet.

As for Live in the City of Light, I had to go to Germany for a week and my car was in the garage so I was obliged to borrow one of a colleague. I didn’t have half my stuff with me, and the only music in the car was “Live in the City of Light”. If it had been most albums, it would have bored me to tears after a day, but not that. In fact it’s never been off my playlist ever since.

So that’s about 50 albums recorded. No matter what happens, I’m not going to be short of music in Canada.