Tag Archives: hundred years war

Thursday 22nd September 2022 – HAVING SPENT …

air sea rescue helicopter F-ZBQA Eurocopter EC 145 baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022… all the afternoon writing up my notes from yesterday, I’m now going to spend all the evening writing up the notes from today.

And notes a-plenty there will be too because there was quite a bit of activity going on in and around the headland this afternoon while I was on my afternoon walk.

And of the 20 photos that survived the cut, there will be plenty to say about them too. No time like the present so I shall have to make a start.

air sea rescue helicopter F-ZBQA Eurocopter EC 145 baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022And so while you sitting comfortably admiring plenty of photos of the Air-Sea Rescue helicopter F-ZBQA practising its craft along with its crew this afternoon, I shall begin.

And I’ll begin where I left off, which was coming home last night after midnight, letting it all hang out, the dirty stop-out that I am.

It’s hardly a surprise that once I settled in my chair I couldn’t summon up the energy to go to bed. In the end, it was after 02:00 that I finally called it a night staggered off into bed.

air sea rescue helicopter F-ZBQA Eurocopter EC 145 baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022One thing that I regretted was not checking the fitbit.

While we were on our way back to Granville I noticed that I was on 93% of my daily activity. But walking around while we waited for a table must have clocked up well over 100%

However when I checked after I returned home, it showed just 1%. Of course, it was after midnight wasn’t it, and so it had reset and I’d missed what was the final total.

air sea rescue helicopter F-ZBQA Eurocopter EC 145 baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022There was no alarm last night. I’d switched it off in the hope of having a decent sleep to compensate me for my efforts.

However, it didn’t work out like that. I ended up awakening at 06:30 and at various times thereafter. Had I set my mind to it I could have been out of bed a long time before … errr … 10:30.

Some stuff on the dictaphone too but I didn’t have the time to deal with it right away. It wasn’t until almost bedtime that I managed to find a moment to deal with it..

air sea rescue helicopter F-ZBQA Eurocopter EC 145 baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022I was back home. I’d been out for a very long walk but for some unknown reason I was only half-dressed. I was in one of the upstairs rooms. I could hear everyone downstairs and the clanking of plates as if it was lunchtime. I thought that I’d betther finish dressing so I grabbed the rest of my clothes, went into the bedroom and dressed. I came out and the sofa had gone. I had who had moved the sofa. My mother stuck her head in the door and asked “what do you mean?”. “The sofa – where’s it gone?”. She pointed to it being stood up in a corner out of my view. She must have been past and cleaned the floor. I went to put down the sofa. She said “you can do that afterwards. It’s mealtime. Come down and have something to eat with the rest of us”.

F-ZBQA Eurocopter EC 145 baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022Having dealt with the medication the next task was to sort out the photos from yesterday.

And when I’d finished those, I could make a start on the notes from all of the places that we visited while we were on our trip out.

Another purpose of this blog is to make me much better-acquainted with what is happening around here and in other places that I visit. And I’m certainly learning an awful lot. That’s because taking photographs is one thing, writing notes about what I photograph is something else completely.

fishing baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022So while you admire all of the photos of the water craft that were out there today (and weren’t there a lot?) I was busy researching the photos from yesterday.

It takes a lot of discipline to do it correctly, and I’ve had to learn how to discipline myself. After all, what with the Recession, I can no longer afford that woman in Soho.

And so I settled down with the computer, a couple of ancient guide books, my book on the Hundred Years War and started to work.

fishing kayak baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022Incidentally, while we’re on the subject of the Hundred Years War … “well, one of us is” – ed … for most British people, it’s a story of Crecy, Agincourt, Poitiers and a few other things too, mostly inspired by William Shakespeare.

For the French however, it was something else completely. When there was no major fighting, there were bands of discharged soldiers roaming around the country at will, terrorising the civilians and committing all kinds of bestial acts.

In addition, there were what they called chevauchées, raiding parties led by noblemen who would use terror as a means of enriching themselves and their followers by any means possible.

cabin cruiser baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022All in all, it was a total nightmare for the civilian population in France. Imagine the events that have happened so far in Ukraine lasting for 116 years, from 1337 to 1453.

A few years ago, while I was rummaging around in a junk shop like you do … “like SOME of you do” – ed … I came across an old book written in French that described the Hundred Years War from the French point of view in almost 500 pages.

Obviously, it was far too good a purchase to miss and so I’ve been having a good read of it today as I’ve been working.

yachts baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022That’s because the history of Avranches and Mont St Michel are pretty-much tied up with what was happening during the Hundred Years War.

For example, the dramatic and rapid modifications to the entrance to Mont St Michel, brought about by the rapid and dramatic development of field artillery that rendered obsolete each modification almost as soon as it was completed.

It took ages to do because there were the usual interruptions, like coffee, lunchtime fruit, and all that kind of thing too.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022Not forgetting the afternoon walk around the headland either.

And i’m glad that I went out despite all the work because it was a beautiful day. And there were several people down there on the beach enjoying it, as I discovered when I went over to the wall at the end of the car park.

They weren’t actually sunbathing, although they may well have done because it was that nice today. I’d actually gone out without a sweater today and I’d even had the fan on in the office for a short while.

yellow autogyro baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022We’ve seen plenty of stuff going on out at sea, and also quite a bit in the air too.

But the helicopter wasn’t all that was going on up there. As I set off to tramp around the headland I was overflown.

Having seen one of the powered hang gliders yesterday down at Mont St Michel, it’s the turn of the yellow autogyro to go down there, I suppose, and I caught her on her way back to the airfield.

There were two people on board this afternoon so it looks as if there has been an interested spectator today.

normandy trader baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022While i’d been walking around, I’d seen something larger than the usual trawler heading our way from the direction of St Helier.

It didn’t take a moment to work out that it was in fact Normandy Trader coming in to port, presumably to pick up the freight that we saw being dropped at the quayside the other day.

We can tell that it’s she because of the raised platform at the back of the wheelhouse. Her sister Normandy Warrior has a larger wheelhouse but no raised platform behind it, carrying all her freight in the hold.

people watching air sea rescue helicopter F-ZBQA Eurocopter EC 145 baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022There were crowds of people out there this afternoon in the nice weather.

Plenty milling around up and down the path, but by far the most of them standing around on the lawn or on the car park watching what was going on with F-ZBQA, the air sea rescue helicopter Eurocopter EC 145 that usually lives at Donville les Bains.

She’d been flying around quite a lot while I’d been out for my walk, and so I wasn’t convinced that this was a “real” rescue. I was of the opinion that it was more of a drill or a training rather than anything else.

cabanon vauban person sitting on bench pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022And so all in all, this afternoon there was tons of stuff going on, more than enough to keep anyone entertained.

And so for that reason, I was puzzled by the apparent insouciance of the person sitting on the bench down at the cabanon vauban.

There he was, in a ringside seat with all of this going on. The best seat in the house and he seemed to be casually reading a book instead of watching all the activity unfolding right before his eyes.

There’s no accounting for taste, is there?

normandy trader baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022When I saw Normandy Trader just now I thought to myself that with all of the activity going on just outside the port, she’s going to have something of a surprise when she goes around the headland and finds herself in the middle of whatever is going on.

So around the corner she came, and the first thing that I noticed was that she didn’t have all that much freight on board.

She usually carries the shellfish from the Jersey Fishermen’s Co-operative but since Brexit that’s not been a very easy product to export

As I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … after Brexit you can catch as much fish as you like without any let or hindrance, but it counts for absolutely nothing if you don’t have a market in which to sell it.

normandy trader air sea rescue helicopter F-ZBQA Eurocopter EC 145 baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022So here she comes, right into the thick of the action.

A little later on, I spoke to Nathan, her skipper. He told me that he was impressed by the welcome that he received today.

But anyway, while I watched what was going on, the Eurocopter was lowering down someone to where there was a buoy, and then just hauling him up again, with all of the proceedings being surveyed by the small boat directly underneath.

“Definitely a training exercise” I said to myself.

port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022With all of that going on, it was easy to forget that there was other activity too today.

This is a scene that had it happened on any other day, it would have been headline news. It’s the moment when they are about to open the gates and let all of the fishing boats into the inner harbour.

Consequently they are all queueing up there at the gate and there are plenty of others at the Fish Processing Plant who have already unloaded who are now waiting their turn to go inside and ties up for the day.

This would have made quite a dramatic photograph on its own.

charles marie yachts air sea rescue helicopter F-ZBQA Eurocopter EC 145 baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022With Normandy Trader having gone past on her way into port, next on the scene is Charles Marie.

She’s a charter yacht who takes out private parties or else organised day-trips when she isn’t doing anything else. She has about a dozen people on board and I’m sure that they are all having more than their money’s worth this afternoon.

As well as that, I bet that there isn’t much being taught in the yachts at the sailing school that have gone out this afternoon. They probably have other things on their minds too.

normandy trader entering port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022So as Normandy Trader headed into port and F-ZBQA headed back to base for presumably a change of crew, I headed off back home.

And armed with a mug of hot coffee and a handful of brazil nuts, I carried on with my notes from yesterday.

Tea tonight was a taco roll with left-over stuffing. And with the stuffing having been marinating now since Monday night, it was even more delicious than usual.

But now I have other fish to fry after this evening’s marathon. Work is never finished, is it?

There’s a lot more to do tomorrow as I have some plans festering away in the background. I’m ready to have another day off and I’ve only been back at work for a day.

Wednesday 21st September 2022 – I KNOW THAT …

… this is rather late being posted, but better late than never and if a thing is good it’s worth waiting for. And so is this

mont st michel by night Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022In fact I’ve been out and about today and didn’t return home until after midnight, when I would let it all hang out.

So while you admire a couple of photos of Mont St Michel in the darkness, I shall tell you all about my busy day.

As usual, the alarm went off at 07:30 and after the medication etc I set about tidying up because I was going to have some visitors today. I seem to be in demand just now

And it’s a good job that I’d started early because they came early too and I wasn’t ready. I had a few things that I hadn’t done so I had to to finish off while I was chatting.

That’s rather an uncomfortable situation to be in but at least having visitors around means that I have to keep the place looking something like tidy.

mont st michel by night Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022There was such a lot of things to say so we had a coffee and spent quite a while chatting, but it was such a nice day yesterday that it was a shame to waste it.

When they had been here the other day i’d mentioned about the beautiful views along the coast so I reckoned that that would be quite a nice drive today, and so we hit the road, Jack, or Jacques seeing as we are where we are.

The obvious place to go to in this nice weather is the viewpoint up on the Pointe de Carolles where there is the Cabanon Vauban. We’ve been here several times before but my visitors haven’t so off we went. I couldn’t actually remember where the turning was so we almost drove past it

tombelaine mont st michel from pointe de carolles Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022It was something of a long slow path across the fields once we’d parked the car, but the view from the end was worth it.

It’s one of the best views of Mont St Michel from up here, with the island of Tombelaine over to the left.

The tide is well out as you can see, and in certain conditions it’s possible to walk from the coast at Genets over to Tombelaine and Mont St Michel and it’s quite a popular thing to do. But you need a guide who knows the way because it’s not an easy trip and there’s no marked path.

There was plenty of marine traffic down there in the bay too, including a trawler that was having a go with its nets out to see what it could pull up.

fire on brittany coast Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022But also over on the brittany side there was a fire in one of the small towns.

It’s not possible to say what it was at this distance – whether it was a bonfire or a house fire, but it looked as if it had been burning for a while.

We went for a walk along the clifftop but we couldn’t see very much else – I’m not up for clambering over the rocks these days – so in the end we headed for the car, once I remembered the correct trail. I seem to be forgetting everything.

And then we went back to the main road to carry on southwards.

tombelaine mont st michel viewed from champeaux Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022There’s another viewpoint further along the road at Champeaux and I couldn’t remember where that was for a moment either.

The view from here is even better so when we eventually reached it we stopped here as well

Tombelaine was at one time the site of a monastic cell where in the 11th Century two monks from Mont St Michel came to live the life of hermit. The place was fortified in 1204 after the English had been expelled from Normandy and then by the English during the Hundred Years War.

There were various plans, such as to create a mini-Mont-St Michel here or, to turn it into a tourist destination but in the end it’s become a site for birdwatching (but not the kind of birds that I would be interested in watching) and is owned by the State and classed as a National Treasure.

st jean le thomas viewed from champeaux Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022There’s also a good view from up here down onto the town of St Jean le Thomas.

The town was gifted by “William of the Long Sword” to the monks of Mont St Michel in 917AD but there was some conflict 200 years later between the monks and another “Lord of the Manor” about wood-cutting rights so it seems that the gift wasn’t as complete as it might otherwise have been.

There was a castle there at one time but Philippe-Augustus, King of France 1180-1223 ordered the castle to be surrendered to the monks and destroyed. At the turn of the 20th Century all of the remains of the castle had gone.

The narrow-gauge tacot railway line from Granville ran through here between 1908 and 1935. I’m not sure what there is that remains of the railway network in the town today. I suppose that one of these days I ought to go and have a look.

SAMU service d'aide medicale urgente helicopter airbus H145 T2 avranches Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022By now we were hungry so we headed into Avranches for a snack.

We parked up the car and headed into town on foot. And as we did so we were overflown by a helicopter.

It’s not the Air-Sea Rescue helicopter that we usually see but one that belongs to the SAMU – the Service D’aide Medicale Urgente or “Emergency Medical Services” so I suppose that it’s the local air ambulance.

She’s an Airbus H145 T2 and we’ve seen a few of those flying around here. It’s the later version of the Air-Sea Rescue’s Eurocopter EC 145.

Once again we had to struggle to find something to eat but finally a little café came up trumps with some sandwiches.

castle avranches Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022We could sit outside in the sun where there was a really good view of the castle at Avranches.

Shame as it is to say it, I’d forgotten all about this castle. Its origins date from the middle of the 10th Century and was one of the earlies recorded stone castles. However there is no trace of that construction remaining. What we see dates to the time of William the Conqueror.

It’s actually built by the Dukes of Normandy on a promontory overlooking the baie de Mont St Michel on a site that was known to have been occupied by the Celts and then by the Romans.

From its position it could obstruct the passage of Breton forces in the days before both Brittany and Normandy were part of the Kingdom of France.

The castle was surrendered to the French in 1203 and was fought over on many subsequent occasions, including in 1944 when considerable damage was caused to the fabric of the building.

Back to the car after a very long chat and we headed off for our final destination.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, parking at Mont St Michel costs an arm and a leg and we were only going to be here for a couple of hours.

However a friendly café owner, having served us a couple of coffees, informed us that as we were now customers of hers, we could leave the car on her car park. She told us how to unhitch the barrier later and we expressed our gratitude in monetary terms.

mont st michel Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022There was a 15-minute walk to the shuttle terminus and a 15-minute wait for a bus to arrive, and then we were off.

My friends were quite impressed with the push-me-pull-you nature of the bus and, as they had never been here before, with the view that we had of the Mont as we approached it.

And as I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … it’s all changed considerably since I first came here 40 or so years ago. The causeway was different and there was no official car park either. You drove down here and parked where you could.

In those days I’ve seen more than a few cars have to be winched out from the rapidly-approaching tide.

powered hang glider mont st michel Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022And as we alighted from the bus, we had one of our old friends come to visit us.

When we’ve been wandering around the clifftops back at home we’ve seen the powered hang-gliders dozens of times coming back from the head of the bay and I’ve often speculated that they have been for a look at what’s going on down here.

Sure enough, one of them, the red one, flew past overhead as we walked the rest of the way towards the walls so we all said “hello” and continued on our respective ways.

porte de l'avancée mont st michel Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022bathed in the glorious early evening sunset is the entry, the Porte de L’Avancée.

Although there is, officially at any rate, only one way in, changes in technology over the past have meant that the original entrance, buit shortly after the Fall of Normandy when the inhabitants were massacred by Breton soldiers, was insufficient to defend the mount from invasion.

And this although the Porte de L’Avancée is the first part of the entrance that you encounter, it was actually almost the last part of the fortifications to be built, as far as I can tell, and dates from 1530.

tour gabriel mont st michel Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022Over to the left is the Tour Gabriel or “Gabriel’s Tower”.

This was perhaps the last part of the fortifications to be built and dates from 1534. It was built on the orders of Gabriel du Puy who was in charge of the mount at the time. Because it’s round, it has a really good field of fire that can defend the entrance from attack by sea in this direction.

There was a windmill built on the tower in 1627 and the tower even served as a lighthouse.

The building in front of it is more modern although I’ve not been able to find out the date on which it was built. But it’s outside the walls so it presumably dates from a period when the military funnction of the mount ceased.

ramparts tour du roy tour de la liberté mont st michel Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022Over on the right are the ramparts, the Tour du Roy, the “King’s Tower”, and theTour de la Liberté, “Liberty Tower”.

The Tour du Roy and the little Tour de l’Arcade that you can just about make out to its right date from the improvements of 1417 at the height of the Hundred Years War, presumably after Henry V of England landed in Normandy on 1st August and laid siege to Caen, which he captured on the 17th.

The Tour de la Liberté used to be known until 1789 as the Tour Beatrix and although I found the plans for it, I’ve not been able to find the date of its construction. It was certainly here in 1434 as it was reported as damaged by cannon fire in a siege by the English, and was repaired in 1441 and reconstructed in 1479.

There were important building works to strengthen the fortifications between 1389 and 1410 and it’s likely that it dates from that period.

mont st michel Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022As for the abbey itself, this is what everyone comes to see, although I’m not going to see it as I’d never get up the hill.

The village itself is known to have existed in 709 but before that, as a result of several alleged miracles, it was a site of pilgrimage and the Abbots of the cathedral at Avranches promoted the site in various written tracts. Some kind of church was erected in the village and was gradually expanded.

Some monks came here to seek sanctuary but their church was sacked by the Vikings in 847.

It was re-established later but in 965 the construction of the Abbey began. In 1022 Richard Duke of Normandy gave to the monks the Ile de Chausey who then used rock from the islands to expand the Abbey.

However by the mid-18th Century the place was starting to fall into ruins and the French Revolution finished it off.

It was declared a “national Monument” as early as 1862 and restoration began shortly afterwards.

maison de l'artichaut mont st michel Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022This is the Maison De L’artichaut, so-called because its decorations on the spire are said to resemble artichokes.

It was actually created as part of the Hotellerie de la Licorne – the “Hostel of the Unicorn” which dates from the 15th Century.

It was declared a “Historic Monument” in 1918 and the upper part in 1936, however it’s not stated in the Formal Notice when it was actually built. One can only assume that it was built either at the same time or shortly after the Hotellerie de la Licorne.

On the right just here are the steps that lead up to the ramparts but I wasn’t going for a stroll up there.

porte du roy mont st michel Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022This here is the Porte du Roy – the “King’s Gate”.

This is another addition from the work of 1417. With no ditch here at the time, the mount was easy to attack and difficult to defend so a ditch was dug and the gate was built, with a drawbridge to protect the entrance.

There was also a metal portcullis here to defend the entrance.

Nevertheless all of this was still insufficient so another entrance was built in 1440, part of which you can see through the arch, because of the advances in artillery that rendered the gate obsolete.

The final entrance that we saw earlier in was added in 1530 following further advances in artillery and offensive techniques..

You can see all of the steps up to the ramparts again on the left of the photo.

grande rue mont st michel Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022This is the Grande Rue or “High Street”. I reckon that just about every building in here is a listed National Monument.

And it was here that I abandoned my friends for a while and let them carry on up the hill. It had defeated me so I wandered back outside to wait for them and to have a look around while they carried on trudging up the hill.

And while I was waiting outside I took many of the photos that you saw just now.

When they returned we had a very leisurely walk back to the bus stop, and then an even more leisurely wait for a bus to arrive. There are only two running right now so it was a very long wait.

sunset mont st michel Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022At least, the wait meant that we had a good opportunity to see the sun setting. That was quite beautiful.

Back at the shuttle terminal we walked back to the café, rescued the car and I took the photos of Mont St Michel in the darkness as the lights came on.

We had a good drive back to Granville and I invited them to a restaurant where I treated them to a meal to thank them for a wonderful day out. And as a result it was after midnight when I returned home.

No time to write up my notes so I’ll do that tomorrow. which I did, hence the amended page.

And I also transcribed the dictaphone notes too. There was a trawler whose registration number was something like KVKLNO something or other. We’d been to a football match watching Morton. people were saying about how poor the side was these days. I was thinking that it’s not a case of how poor the side was, it’s a case of the money becoming tight everywhere and they are suffering. A subject came up that involved trawlers. One of the group said that thanks to someone else but I can’t remember who, they were saved from certain events that might have happened invloving this trawler because that particular person made them aware of things but I can’t remember what that was.

There was something going on last night with my beige Cortina. I was at home and talking to my sister. She was cleaning the house really deeply but we didn’t have all that long to wait before we had to go out so I couldn’t understand why she had suddenly started on this plan. One of the topics of conversation was the local councillor when we lived in Shavington. He was my age and had been on a student exchange with me. On one particular coach trip coming back from somewhere there had been a few shenanigans as you would expect with a bunch of teenagers. He’d been a part of all of this yet here he was 30 years later being all “Holier Than Thou”. Of course everyone remembered him and we made our best to make sure that everyone knew exactly what had been happening back in those days.

Wonders will never cease.

Sunday 18th September 2022 – THERE’S A NEW …

br905622 cotes de la manche port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022 … kid in town today. Or new boat in the harbour, something like that. Someone whom we haven’t see before.

Her registration number begins with “BR” so that tells me that she comes from Brest down in Finisterre and that’s a long way away from here. Her name is Cotes De La Manche and was launched in 1997. she arrived in port from Antifer at lunchtime today.

She’s not a fishing vessel but an Oceanic Research Ship and travels out and about into the inner ocean monitoring the environment and has been recently involved in research into the effects of the cable that will connect the proposed offshore wind farm near Paimpol to the mainland.

What I was doing during the night was researching into the effects of a rather strange sleep and I’m still not sure about what happened.

It was rather a late night because having done everything that I intended to do, I watched a few films and the like on the internet until about 01:30 when I finally crawled into bed.

What was strange about that was at 08:38 I awoke. and it wasn’t just a brief roll-over or something like that, I was actually wide-awake. There was even a time when I was debating whether or not to raise myself from the dead.

Nevertheless, wiser counsels prevailed and I stayed put. Eventually I went back to sleep and leaving the bed at 11:25 is a much more valid proposition as far as I’m concerned on a Sunday.

After the medication there wasn’t all that much time do do anything until lunchtime. Porridge, cheese on toast and plenty of coffee went down really well. And there’s still some cheese left for tomorrow too

Back in here, I had a listen to the dictaphone to fins out where I’d been during the night. I was back on board a yacht again last night. I had a certain time during which I could be out by I kept on over-running it and being late. Sam said that they reminded her of a pop group whom she’d seen where they had gone on to warm up for the main act when they’d been asked but they stayed on for so long that the main act only had time for 4 numbers. I recalled seeing a group like that as well. I wondered whether she and I had actually been at the same concert.

And then I’d just been in the filthiest office you could imagine. There was oil everywhere and I do mean everywhere. I don’t know how the women working in it could possibly have managed without running away. It was awful. A whole group of us had gone there. I’d met up with Danny Jackson (a taxi proprietor in Crewe whom I used to know). Someone had repaired a hydraulic jack for him and were proudly showing it off. I thought to myself that this jack isn’t going to work. There’s no pressure in the seals for a start. He was outside doing something on a car so I took this jack outside to try to jack up my van. I had BILL BADGER at the time. It started to lift it up and the seals gave out and slid back down again. When I started to jack it up I noticed that one of the rear wheels of the van was in an awful slanting position. I hoped that it was just an effect of it being off the spring rather than something broken or warped, something like that. There were some stuffed animals there as well. I know that he had one so I brought it out to him. He wasn’t paying any attention to it so by the time that I finished I took it back inside. Then he was asking for it and someone said “Eric had one”. I replied “no, that was yours. I brought it out to you but you didn’t want it so I took it back”. He gave me a little lecture about moving his possessions so I thought that it was good that I hadn’t told him about the jack. I was hoping that this animal thing wasn’t going to be covered in oil. It was at that point that we all started to drift home again. I can’t say that I wasn’t happy to leave.

Later on I’d alighted from a bus or train or something and was walking up a hill to some kind of place. There were some people coming up the hill behind me whom I recognised. When I went round the corner and higher up there was a queue of people. I remembered that I’d been on holiday with them once before. They were all ready waiting to sign in at this place and so was I. I could hear them talking. One of them was asking “who shall we invite to come with us?”. They suggested a few names. If they suggested my name, which was unlikely, I’d refuse and tell them “well you’re all far too noisy for me. I’ve come here for the quiet life”.

At some point even later on there was something going on with a sailing ship. Many people including me were of the opinion that all of her rigging and tackle should be replaced because it’s over a certain number of years old. It doesn’t last for ever but the company was exhibiting the ship regardless. Of course people were climbing about in the tackle and if the tackle broke this would cost everyone a lot of money so we couldn’t understand why they weren’t doing it.

That took me up until it was time for me to go out for my afternoon walk

hang glider place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022And I didn’t even go beyond the threshold of the building before I had to grab hold of the camera.

The cold hand of doom that fell upon me as I left the building was another Nazgul that went flying by. A two-seater Nazgul too, the pilot having picked up a passenger back at the blast-off point in the field by the cemetery.

In fact there were probably a dozen or so Nazguls out there this afternoon having a flutter around. The wind had died down a little from the last couple of days and so it was much safer for them to be up in the air today than it might have been when the gale was blowing.

zodiac baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022And before I even made it right across to the wall, there was a zodiac that I noticed out in the bay.

At first I thought that they might be fishermen but when I enlarged the photo back here later I could see that they were just sitting there, having a concentrated contemplation of the activities that might or might not be going on onshore.

Even more bizarrely, after about 10 minutes they moved off several hundred yards along the coast and stopped again for another contemplation.

No idea what they were up to but it smelt rather fishy to me. However, when you live just a few hundred yards from a Fish Processing Plant, everything seems to smell rather fishy around here.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022And eventually I did actually make it over to the wall where I could look down onto the beach.

Quite few people down there this afternoon, although given how nice the weather was this afternoon I was expecting to see many more down there than I actually did.

Of those who were actually down there, some of them were having a little paddle about in the water and some had even gone for a swim in the sea.

This is presumably the swansong of summer, until everyone dresses up as penguins and goes for a run into the sea on Boxing Day.

belle france baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022Something else was moving around just off the Ile de Chausey and I’d been keeping an eye on it.

It was large and white and after a couple of minutes of reflection I realised that it was heading my way so I took a photograph of it.

No prozes for guessing who it was. When had a closer look at it I could see that it was in fact Belle France, the newest of the Ile de Chausey ferries, surrounded by all other kinds of water craft.

Yesterday, I mentioned that I’d go for a walk around the medieval city walls today to see what was happening there, so I set off through the crowds of people. It seemed that everyone was up here on the path today instead of down there on the beach.

plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022One of the things that I have been saying rather a lot just recently is that with one thing and another, Summer seems to be coming to an end.

Nothing underlines that so much as this photo here. You’ll see that the crown of the diving platform has now been removed from its concrete pillar and the changing cabins on the Plat Gousset have been taken away too.

It’s no surprise that the cabins go into store once the crowds go home and they are no longer required. We’ve seen some terrific storms coming in there in the past and the cabins wouldn’t last long. You’d come back next Summer and find nothing but a pile of matchwood

Nothing else much going on this afternoon down at that end so I pushed on through the wilderness that used to be the Square Maurice Marland on my way home.

philcathane rusa dumper freight quayside port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022There’s a lovely pile of freight down on the quayside this afternoon.

A load of dumpers and other stuff presumably destined for a dealer in the Channel Islands are lined up by the fence waiting to be taken away.

Judging by the colours I first thought that they might have been “Kubota” equipment but they seem to be carrying the name of “Rusa”, which as far as I know, is an Indian control equipment company so that doesn’t sound as if it’s correct.

And this was where I suspected that there was something different in the port because I didn’t recognise the array of antennae just to the right.

powered hang glider baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022After everything that we had seen yesterday flying around, up to this point we hadn’t seen a single aeroplane here in the vicinity, except for something miles out in the Baie de Granville.

However as I wandered away through the Square we heard the familiar droning of one of our old friends. The red powered hang-glider had been having a run out this afternoon and was now on her way home.

From down here it looked as if there was only one person aboard, so presumably it as simply a training flight or a flight to clock up the hours rather than a run out to see the sights.

refrigerated vans port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022There were however some strange sights to be seen elsewhere around the port.

These two refrigerated vans were parked with their rear doors opened back-to-back with each other as if they were exchanging loads. But with the driver of one of them sitting quietly in his cab, I was obviously missing something.

The last time that we saw a van parked on there with some rather bizarre goings-on around it, regular readers of this rubbish will recall that it ended up in the water. Mind you, it had been there much longer than these two.

Several months longer, in fact.

armoury medieval city walls Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022On the way back home I went a new way, across the lawn behind the church.

Previously I’d seen this little gate and room in a bank of earth built right up to the base of the medieval city walls. This is exactly where I would expect the town’s armoury to be built, where there would be no chance of a stray cannonball striking it.

The construction of the walls began by the English in 1440 during the Hundred Years War, and extended and modified considerably over the next couple of centuries, so I can’t say when this room was constructed.

However by the late 14th Century the use of explosives in artillery was well-established. It wasn’t long afterwards that explosive shells of some primitive description took to the air so some protection to the entry to ensure that a shell didn’t hit it, such as might be provided by the church behind me, would be required.

After lunch I took the last lump of dough out of the freezer and it had been defrosting for a few hours.

later on this afternoon when it had defrosted I kneaded it out and rolled it. They I put it in the pizza tray to proof.

vegan pizza place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022When it was ready I assembled it, remembering the olives this week, and put it in the oven to cook

It turned out quite nice again, and with not putting quite so many onions on it this week, seemed to taste better too. It goes quite well with fresh tomatoes, onions, mushrooms and olives.

So now that that’s out of the way and I’ve written my notes I’m going to bed. I have a radio programme to do so I need to be up and about early.

It’ll probably take another long, exhausting session to complete it. Sometime between 4-5 hours seems to be par for the course but I wish that it could be done quicker.

And sometime as well I’ll have to think about doing 2 per week as my stock is slowly exhausting itself as I take a week off here and there.

But that’s not this week. I’ll have to make plans for that another time.

Thursday 3rd September 2020 – YOU CAN TELL …

lights on brittany coast granville manche normandy france eric hall… that the nights are getting longer right now. Summer seems to have left us a long way right now and we are in a slow downward spiral towards winter.

Out on mt stroll tonight, around the city walls tonight, it was quite dark by the time I’d gone around and the street lights across the Baie de Mont St Michel on the Brittany coast were shining quite brightly.

It won’t be long now until i’m out with the tripod, I reckon. It will be the cue to be taking more photos of the night so I’ll have to learn how to use THE NIKON D500 with the delay action shutter.

This morning, much to everyone’s surprise, including my own, I was out of bed before the third alarm went off. Sitting on the edge of the bed in a dazed condition trying to gather my wits together in order to stand up and do something constructive.

I’d been on my travels too. I was out with Nerina again last night. We were looking at a couple of houses that she’d seen on the internet that she was interested in buying. They were round about the £76,000 £78,000 mark in Crewe and were semi-detached but of the smaller type. There was one that was particularly nice and she was looking at it. We found to our surprise that it had three bedrooms which was already something. There was a load of stuff included in the sale, including four kiddies’ bikes and a couple of kiddies’ scooters. She was wondering about those – going to make sure that they were written in the sale. I said “basically if they are there you make sure that they are written in”. She asked “what do you think I’m going to do with a kiddie’s bike?”. There was a pregnant pause as I was trying to work out whether or not I ought to tell her that I knew that she’d had a child or something like that. We had a good look at this house and it looked to be really good value for what it was, one of these 1920s types of small semi-detached houses the type that you would see around Bedford Street, that area, with a drive and a garage. There was a van parked there, like a Ford Escort van only a little bigger parked outside the garage door.
Had I not awoken with a severe attack of cramp at this particular moment, I wonder where this would have gone.
Somewhat later I was teaching some Russian girls gymnastics in the water. It was an established class but it had been allowed to go to rack and ruin, people forgetting to bring their gym clothes with them, forgetting this, forgetting that. I decided that we would have a tidying up of discipline so as soon as the girls came in I made them perform their handstands for me in the water in their uniform, and if they didn’t have their uniform with them they were to go home and fetch it. If they didn’t have a uniform they weren’t to come back until they had one. There were a few other things as well that I wanted cutting out as well. it provoked quite a few sullen disputes but I was insistent on doing this. And I was well on my way to doing it when the first alarm went off.

Once again there was much more to it all than this but as you are probably eating your meal right now, I’ll spare you the miserable details.

working on medieval city walls rue des juifs granville manche normandy france eric hallAfter my shower I went out to go to the shops.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall the other day that we saw part of the Rue Des Juifs fenced off, and I said that I’d go down and see what was going on.

And as luck would have it, there was a notice on the fencing. Basically, there is an archaeological survey going on right now involving the building and grounds in which the museum is situated.

They seem to think that it dates back to the founding of Granville and the building of the fortifications by the English during the Hundred Years War.

Myy walk up to LIDL was pretty uneventful but I spent quite a lot of money in there, even though there wasn’t anything particular extra that I bought, except for a set of compasses thet I need for measuring precise distances.

And not only that, some of the stuff that I wanted wasn’t available either, so it’s on the list for Saturday and LeClerc.

la grande ancre port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallOn the way back, my load was rather heavy and it was a struggle up the hill, that’s for sure.

And as I stopped for breath at the viewpoint overlooking the harbour, La Grande Ancre set sail out of her berth and out of the harbour.

So having recovered my breath I carried on back here. I was too tired to unpack the shopping though. I sat down on my chair and that was that until 13:30. About 2 hours, I reckon that i was right out of it altogether, and it felt like it too.

After lunch there was some more paperwork to do and then I went out for my afternoon walk.

old sailing boat english channel ile de chausey granville manche normandy france eric hallThere were plenty of people out there today but as far as photography went, there was nothing particular going on at all.

What there was though was some kind of yacht out there just off the coast of the Ile de Chausey. That looked interesting to I took a photo of it for future reference.

My walk carried on around the headland rather aimlessly and then I came back here.

At my desk I cropped and enlarged the photo that I had just taken. It looks as if it has the same kind of sails and rigging as a boat like la Granvillaise or her sister across the bay, but there is another yacht with a similar rig that sails around here occasionally and it might be her.

After my slice of banana bread, I had a go at the photos from my trip around Europe. I didn’t do too many of those because much of the time was spent doing some research into some of the items that I had photographed.

At 18:00 I knocked off and had an hour on the guitars. And I do like my new acoustic guitar.

Tea tonight was taco rolls with the leftover stuffing, with rice and vegetables followed by rice pudding

light off the ile de chausey english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallFor my evening walk today, I went for my trip around the walls.

Looking over towards the Ile de Chausey, I could see a light shining just offshore, not too far away from where that strange yacht was moored this afternoon.

Of course I can’t say that it’s the same boat, but whoever it is seems to be bedded down for the night over there.

A strange cat came up to me tonight for a stroke, and then I set off on my run along the footpath.

lights on radio mast jersey english channel islands granville manche normandy france eric hallThis took me to the viewpoint from where there’s a good view over towards Jersey and the Channel Islands.

The view was really good tonight and we can see the light of some kind of boat – probably a fishing boat – working just offshore. What else we can see is a series of red lights just to the right of the white light.

You probably can’t see it in this photo but in an enlarged photo you can see that it’s actually the warning lights on the big radio mast that we have seen in photos of Jersey taken during the day.

Before I went home I did another couple of runs. One across the Square Maurice Marland and the other one down the hill back home. The three runs in total work out at about 850 paces, which equates to about 500 metres.

So now I’m going to have an early night, as much as I can. I’m not going anywhere tomorrow so I’m hoping that I can have a good sleep and then a good day doing a pile of work.

It’s about time too. I’m just falling farther and farther behind.

Saturday 20th October 2018 – HAVE YOU EVER …

… had one of those days when you can’t even summon up the energy to put away the shopping?

That’s the kind of day that I’ve been having today.

It’s not down to tiredness – at least, not THAT kind of tiredness because what with my early night, I was wide awake at 05:28 and raring to go … “of course” – ed.

And after breakfast and a shower I started to attack last night’s photos. But eventually I set off for the shops.

LIDL didn’t come up with anything special today (apart from grapes at just €1:69 per kilo – I DO like this time of year).

bad parking noz granville manche normandy france Next stop was at NOZ and I had a little more luck there.

But out on the car park we had another case of pathetic parking. It’s getting to be quite a regular thing these days.

It’s a sure sign that Society is getting out of control, and that usually happens when a civilisation starts to grind to a halt.

So abandoning yet another good rant for the moment, I went inside the shop. They had some really good atlases of central Europe and also of the Benelux countries.

I still use paper atlases, especially when I’m on the road and I regretted not having any up-to-date atlases with me when I was on the road earlier in the year. So now, for less than €10:00 I’m all set up for if I ever again go beyond the eastern borders of France.

And if I ever go on the road in France, I have the atlas that I bought several weeks ago before I went off to all points North.

LeClerc didn’t come up with anything special but I spent a lot of money in there. I’d run almost completely out of muesli product and so I needed to stock up the supplies.

But there was much better – and surprising – luck in the electrical shop there. Apart from the new hair-trimmer that I bought, they also had some SD cards of – would you believe – 2GB capacity.

The hi-fi in Caliburn and the one back at the farm are still “old technology” stock and can’t read any more than 2GB at a go. So I’ve been struggling when it comes to recording more music to play in Caliburn and on the farm as the supply of 2GB cards has dried up.

They had 3 of these cards for sale and after I left, there weren’t any at all.

Having had a look on the internet, it seems that many of these on-line shopping sites are now offering them. Obviously, retailers and manufacturers have been misled by the amount of old-technology equipment still in circulation and still being used, and they are now having to re-manufacture them in greater numbers.

On the car park we had an exciting moment where some old codger walked in front of Caliburn as I was driving out. He growled at me for not stopping so I had a few words with him about his behaviour.

Well, two words actually. And one of them was “off”.

Back here I made my butties and went outside on the wall in the beautiful sunshine with my new book, as I have finished the Hundred Years War.

The current book is De La Defaite Au Désastre written by Jacques Benoist-Méchin, a member of the French Vichy Government and a rampant Nazi apologist who was sentenced to death in 1947 because of his collaboration with the Nazi authorities during the war and and for calling on Frenchmen to fight on the side of the Nazis.

His book sets out his opinion of the events from the Fall of France until the occupation of Vichy France by the Nazis on 10th November 1942.

And I hadn’t read half a dozen pages before I came across (le pays) a échafaudé le myth de la libération pour se dispenser de réfléchir aux moyens d’être libre. Chaque fois qu’on lui a demandé d’avoir le sursaut d’énergie nécessaire à son redressement, la nation s’est dérobée. Elle a préféré la facilité, l’illusion, le délire n’importe quoi plutôt due de travailler à son propre salut..

Crudely translatd by Yours Truly (because, after all, if you want any crudity anywhere, then in the words of the late, great Bob Doney “I’m your man”) “(the country) developed the myth of liberation in order to abandon the necessity of having to think about the manner in which it was going to be free. Each time that it was asked to have the leap of energy necessary to set itself upright, the country became undone. It preferred the easy path, the illusion, delirium, anything at all, rather than work hard at its own salvation”.

Does this ring any bells with the current situation somewhere in the vicinity?

Back here, I wanted to start to tidy up but shame as it is to say it, I crashed out. And crashed out good and proper too, for an hour and a half or so.

Once I’d gathered up my wits, which takes much longer than it ought to do these days considering the amount of wits that I have left, I headed off to Roncey and chez Liz and Terry.

Terry proudly showed me his new toy.

Due to certain circumstances he had been obliged to crawl underneath his van the other day and what he had seen had given him a great deal of food for thought, what with the controle technique coming up imminently.

And what with the imminent arrival of Brexit and the potential difficulties of dealing with right-hand-drive vehicles, he had sallied forth and treated himself to a new van. One of the mid-sized Cevel van of the Fiat type.

These are really good vans of course – properly built and last for ever in the right hands and Terry should have plenty of use out of it. And with what he can save in fuel he can buy himself a little trailer for moving wood and plasterboard and the like. That’ll be much more convenient that going everywhere in the big van for no good purpose.

Liz cooked a nice tea of stuffed aubergines, followed by an apple cake with ground walnuts and quince purée. And seeing as her nut trees were still producing at a rapid rate of knots, she sent me out with a plastic bag. And now I have enough walnuts to sink a ship too.

Later in the evening there was a Welsh Premier League match on the internet. TNS, the perennial leaders, were having an inconsistent season by their standards, and Connah’s Quay Nomads are currently leading the table. Tonight, it was the Clash of the Titans with all to play for.

And it all went wrong after 15 minutes or so when TNS took the lead with a goal from nowhere.

By this time, I was overwhelmed again so after recovering my strength I headed for home. Back here just in time for the final whistle, with the score 3-0 to TNS. As I have said before … “on many occasions” – ed … the big trouble with the clubs in the Welsh Premier League is their lack of consistency. They can play really well at times, but then it all goes wrong as they lose concentration. And this is what’s happening now as a whole variety of clubs pin together a good run of results and then suddenly it all goes haywire.

It’s Sunday tomorrow and a lie-in. So I had a lounge about on the sofa for a while – and then fell asleep. It was 02:00 when I finally crawled off to bed.

I hope that I do get my lie-in tomorrow.

Tuesday 21st August 2018 – I’VE BEEN OFF …

… on my travels yet again today.

And it started at about 04:00 when I had to leave my stinking pit for a ride on the porcelain horse, and fell AoT over something in the way, rattling the entire building. All in all it was another bad night.

mont st michel manche normandy franceAfter breakfast, I had a shower and then we headed off through the town and through all of the grockles admiring the seagulls.

The destination for today was, as you might expect, the Mont St Michel. Despite its reputation, it’s one of those places that everyone has to visit whenever they come to Brittany or Normandy just to say that they were there.

And it was another day when the visibility wasn’t up to much, unfortunately.

restaurant prices la mere poulard mont st michel manche normandy franceI mentioned the prices of the food in the restaurants on the island. And seeing as many people expressed their surprise I decided to take a photograph of a typical menu.

Vegetable soup is on offer at €16:00, and a basic omelette starts at €34:00. If you want a three-course meal you can have one here at €58:00.

A sandwich from the sandwich bar across the street will cost you at least €8:50. And so it’s no surprise that most of the tourists who visit the island bring their own picnic lunch

walking parties genets mont st michel manche normandy franceWe’d come here in Caliburn of course, prepared to pay the extortionate car-parking prices, but had I been in better health I would have come another way.

Today is another day when the tidal coefficient is so small that it’s possible to walk over the sands from Genets. And there were quite a few parties coming over the sands.

That is something that you can’t do on your own without a guide. Apart from the treacherous watercourses, there’s quite a lot of soft sand out there which yu can sink into if you aren’t careful.

helicopter carrying building materials mont st michel manche normandy franceWe went for a good walk around the walls again, our conversation being continually interrupted by a helicopter flying overhead.

There were building works going on somewhere on the island and they were conveying the material to the site by helicopter, in a basket slung underneath the machine.

We were having all kinds of flights of imagination, picturing the helicopter coming to a dead halt and the momentum of the basket underneath swinging into the walls of the Abbey and demolishing them.

technamm tracked fire engine granville manche normandy franceWhen I was here the other week with Alison I had seen an exciting tracked machine away in the distance. It had excited my curiosity and so today we went down to look at it.

It’s a fire engine apparently, and it’s tracked so that it can climb up and down the steps in the city.

It has a trailer too. That is also tracked, and is also driven, with a prop shaft off the power take-off on the rear of the tractor. All in all, an impressive piece of kit.

mont st michel manche normandy franceMost of the tourists when they arrive enter by the main gate, go in over the drawbridge and past all of the tourist traps.

But there is another way in which misses the queues and congestion and goes up to the pathway that leads up to the walls on the western side of the site.

The way in is underneath that beautiful gated building down there and then up the hill towards where I’m standing. But I do have to say that I wouldn’t object at all to a little apartment in the building down there, despite all of the tourists.

brittany gate mont st michel manche normandy franceAlthough the access to the site today is from the southern, or Normandy side, there’s also a gateway on the western side facing what was Brittany in medieval times prior to the rerouting of the river that passes around here.

I was told an exciting story about how, in 1424 during the Hundred Years War, the English besieged the island from the Normandy side but they were unable to starve the garrison out.

This was because the people on the Breton side would send food and weapons over to the Brittany gate and by the time that the tide had gone out sufficiently to enable the English to attack the gate here, the island had been supplied and the Bretons safely back on their shore.

We left the island early in the afternoon and set off on our way home.

cancale pointe de grouin ile des landes brittany franceWe went again to the Cabane Vauban to see the view now that the weather had cleared slightly, and I took a couple of photos.

One of the ones that I took was right across the Baie de Mont St Michel over to the town of Cancale, the Pointe de Grouin and the Ile des Landes right across the bay and into Brittany.

It’s hard to believe that it’s all about 12 miles away.

cancale pierre de herpin st malo brittany franceThis is the second half of the above photograph, that I had cropped in two.

This one shows another one of the islands off Cancale, which I thought at first might have been a ship, and the lighthouse on the Pierre de Herpin over on the extreme right of the photograph.

Right away in the background is the Brittany coast all the way down almost to St Malo and that’s probably about 25 miles away.

three masted sailing ship manche normandy franceYou might have noticed in the previous photograph that there was something on the horizon between the coast and the lighthouse.

I’d been having a good play with the telephoto lens and doing some photo manipulation, what with having plans for going on a holiday in the near future. And so I cropped, enlarged and enhanced that part of the image.

And I’ve managed to bring out what, in my opinion, is a three-masted sailing ship, something like the Marité. That’s actually quite impressive, seeing as it’s at least 20 miles away in my opinion.

mont st michel manche normandy franceThe view southwards however is much more banal.

Mont St Michel is about 10 miles away as the crow flies, and in contrast to the other day when I was here with Alison and you could hardly see 100 yards, a little bit of “crop and paste” and image enhancement can bring out the abbey at Mont St Michel quite nicely.

To the right of the island are the white buildings of the hotel complex on the mainland. And I’m sure that this is what we have seen on a couple of occasions from Granville.

granville manche normandy franceTalking of Granville, we can actually see that today from here.

There’s the Eglise Notre Dame de Cap Lihou on the far right, and to the left of it are the public rooms and the Foyer des Jeunes Travailleurs. To the left of that is the other block of apartments that they are renovating right now.

My building is out of sight behind there.

autogyro baie de mont st michel manche normandy franceBut that’s not all.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that the other day I mentioned an autogyro, but I wasn’t able to take a photograph of it. Today however, while we were here, the aforementioned went a-flying by overhead.

Luckily I had the camera ready and I was able to shoot off a photograph of it. It’s a modern machine, not one of the early ones from the 1920s and 30s.

baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy franceSo while you admire another photo of Mont St Michel – the one that the copped image above was taken, I can tell you that there are plenty of photos that I took at Mont St Michel that haven’t made it onto this page.

That’s because it’s my intention, one of these days in early course, to put them all up on a web page of their own.

And then you can admire them at your own convenience.

On the way back here we went to LeClerc. I needed some new bootlaces and Hans wanted to look at the recycled bags that they use here instead of plastic bags, and he took a few to analyse with him later.

Tea tonight was some taco wraps with a stuffing made of this couscous powder that I bought, some tomatoes, olives, onions, garlic and kidney beans, all in tomato sauce. With some spice rice it was delicious.

Having seen Inspector Hornleigh on Holiday last night, we watched a few Bulldog Drummond films on the DVD tonight. That took us nicely up to about 23:30 and then we turned in.

Hans is leaving to head off back to Germany tomorrow. I have a pile of tidying up to do and then I can start packing for my voyage, wherever it might be.

Saturday 4th August 2018 – SO HAVING HAD …

… a miserable night’s sleep (which seems to be par for the course these days) tossing and turning for much of it on the sofa, I was up and about without too much effort.

It wasn’t the first time either, having had to leave my stinking pit once during the night.

But I prepared breakfast, and a little later, Alison came to join me and we had a nice cosy chat together.

Alison wanted to know what time we would be leaving, so I replied nonchalantly “about 45 minutes”.
“Gosh! I’d better get a move on!”

I’d forgotten about women, of course. For me, “getting ready” to go out involves putting my shoes on and that’s that. For women though, it’s a full military operation involving all kinds of things and can take anything up to a couple of hours.

While Alison was preparing herself I had a shower, prepared a flask of cold stuff and finally we made some sandwiches.

baie de mont st michel genets manche normandy franceIn the glorious, wonderful but very hazy early morning sunshine and heat, Caliburn took us along the coast road.

Through St Pair, Jullouville, Carolles and Genets, and all points south.

We stopped to take photographs along the way. After all, this is a part of the world that Alison has never visited before, and having left home rather smartish, we weren’t particularly stuck for time.

The motorway westwards was very busy and there were signs for “traffic jams ahead” – not surprising with it being the first Saturday in August, busiest day of the year on the roads.

But we weren’t long on the motorway turning off to head towards our destination for today, Mont St Michel.

baie de mont st michel manche normandy franceAlison has never been here before, and it’s been almost 30 years since the last time that I was here.

And haven’t there been some changes in that time?

When I was here before, you used to just drive down to the water’s edge, park your car on the marshes making sure that you were above the tide line, and then walk across the causeway.

baie de mont st michel manche normandy franceBut not today, though.

There’s a huge parking complex (that costs an arm and a leg of course) a couple of miles away from the Mont, and a series of weird shuttle buses that operate a free service to the island.

There was quite a queue waiting for the buses and we had this horrible feeling that we were going to be there for hours, but these buses are really high-capacity.

The packers (you can’t really call them anything else) pack the buses like the Black Hole Of Calcutta and so within less than 10 minutes we had been whizzed on our way.

baie de mont st michel manche normandy franceWhile you admire the entrance to the complex, I can set the scene by telling you about the visit to the Gentleman’s rest room.

This will give you some idea about what to expect (if you haven’t already guessed from the parking) when I tell you that a visit to the Gentleman’s rest room costs you €0:80.

Yes, over here on the island they have got you by the shorthorns.

baie de mont st michel manche normandy franceAnd if that hasn’t convinced you, then the fact that the first restaurant that we came across was offering a bowl of vegetable soup for €18:00 and an omelette at €28:00 should do the trick.

But then, that’s how I remember it, and as other people have said so too.

Not for nothing did we prepare butties and a flask of cold drink before we set off.

baie de mont st michel manche normandy franceThe history of the place is quite interesting.

It’s always been a place of worship for as long as worship has known to be important.

There was quite some considerable evidence of megalithic tombs on the island where it is believed that the worship of some kind of pagan cult took place;

But Christianity arrived in 709 when a chapel in honour of the Archangel Saint Michael was erected here.

It subsequently became a centre for pilgrimages and it still continues in this role today. In fact, we encountered a group of pilgrims who had come on foot across the sands from Genets.

baie de mont st michel manche normandy franceIn 966 a Benedictine abbey was erected here, and the Dukes of Normandy became important benefactors. They gave a great deal of land to the abbey.

One of the reasons that the Ile de Chausey remains French today and didn’t become English as did the rest of the Channel Islands was that William the Conqueror gave the archipelago to the Abbey before he became King of England in 1066.

Mont St Michel has regularly changed hands between the Dukes of Normandy and the Dukes of Brittany. It’s currently in Normandy and was so during much of the 100 Years War.

porte bretonne baie de mont st michel manche normandy franceBut there’s an interesting little story about the island during that period.

This gateway here to the west overlooks the Breton coast. Normandy was to the south and east.

The English laid siege to the island during the Hundred Years War and hoped to starve it out. But as the tide went out, the island became accessible from the Breton side before the Normandy side.

Consequently the Bretons could nip over to the island with a load of victuals to resupply the island before the tide became low enough for the English army to cross the sands to stop them.

As a result, the island held out for so long that the English lost interest and eventually abandoned the siege.

medieval inclined plane baie de mont st michel manche normandy franceThere are a variety of ways to reach the Abbey.

The first, and probably the most interesting, way would be to be winched up by the medieval inclined ramp.

You can see the sone trackway here and right at the top are the remains of the wooden sledge to which they would attach the goods.

It would then be winched up from above until it reached the opening in the Abbey walls.

Today, there’s an electric winch and steel basket for supplying the abbey, but that doesn’t look half as exciting as the old system.

The more popular way is to climb up the steep street and then all of the stairs, following all of the visitors who take that way to the top.

But we stopped for a breather inside the church that’s half-way up, and noticed a back door out.

So we went that way and found ourselves going up a nice spiral, circular route that wasn’t anything like as steep, and with plenty of shady places to rest.

But at the Abbey, the €10:00 admission charge put me off. I would have liked to have gone in and seen the interior, especially the tombs of the Dukes of Normandy, but not at that price.

It’s good value if you are healthy though, because the admission allows you to climb right to the top of the tower where the views are stunning (or, at least, they would be if there wasn’t so much haze).

avranches baie de mont st michel manche normandy franceNevertheless, the views weren’t all that bad from where we were standing.

There was certainly a good view of Avranches from where we were standing. And with a little bit of digital enhancement you can see the town quite clearly away in the distance.

Hard to think that it’s probably 10 or 12 miles away across the bay from where we are. Such are the benefits of having some decent equipment.

baie de mont st michel manche normandy franceAlison didn’t feel like the climb either so instead we descended and went for a walk around the walls.

It’s a walled city and as far as I could tell the walls are 100% intact, as you might expect. It’s not possible to go out to the north of the island without passing through the Abbey.

The whole lot is in a remarkable state of preservation, which is hardly a surprise when you consider that this was one of the very first places to be listed when they started the Register of Historic Places in France

baie de mont st michel manche normandy franceThere’s another island a little farther out and I don’t remember seeing that from previous visits.

It looks quite inaccessible but when I blew up my photo (you can still do that kind of thing despite modern anti-terrorist legislation) I could see buildings – possibly World War II blockhouses – out there.

There were also people walking around out there, obviously taking advantage of the low tide.

high tide baie de mont st michel manche normandy franceAnd low tide it certainly was.

The tidal coefficient – the gap of the water level between high tide and low tide – was just 59 today. This meant that we weren’t going to be cut off.

The tidal coefficient can be as high as 120 and then the island is isolated from the mainland for a couple of hours. But the next one of these isn’t going to happen for quite a while, unfortunately.

baie de mont st michel manche normandy franceWe stopped on the way round where Alison took out a second mortgage on her house in order that we could have a coffee in one of the cafés here;

And on continuing our walk around the walls some obliging Asiatic guy took a photo of us both.

And Alison’s camera lived to tell the tale, which surprised me more than anything.

baie de mont st michel manche normandy franceFrom there we climbed up again to a small rest area and when a place on the wall underneath the trees became free, we moved in and occupied the spot.

It was quite nice there, overlooking the causeway and the entry gates to the island, and we ate our butties in the shade as we watched the world go by.

By now it was early afternoon and the hordes were still arriving. We decided that we had seen all that we had intended to see and so we returned on the shuttle bus to Caliburn, where we were fleeced by the parking charges machine.

Since this new parking system and charges have been in operation, visitor numbers have plummeted. At one time, over 3.5 million people came here every year and there was even a railway connection to the site.

In 2013 there were just 2.2 million people and apparently numbers are continuing to fall. One of these “alternative” Tourist guides writes of “la mauvaise réputation du Mont-Saint-Michel qui fait payer cher des prestations médiocres”“the bad reputation of Mont St Michel where the mediocre things on offer will cost a fortune”..

Still, it’s one of those places that you have to visit once in your life – preferably out of season – but you wouldn’t ever go back.

We headed off down the motorway, noticing the queues of vehicles heading west on the opposite carriageway, all heading to the Brittany coast.

It was a good idea to go out early in the morning because we missed most of that. I’d hate to be stuck in there right now.

cabane vauban baie de mont st michel manche normandy franceRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that I’ve mentioned a couple of times the “Cabane Vauban” – the stone hut on the headland of the Pointe de Carolles.

It’s another place that has been on my list to visit since I first noticed it. We’d seen a road sign for it on the way down, and so on the way back we went there.

Despite its very isolated location, there was quite a crowd of people there and they wouldn’t move out of the way when I wanted to photograph the building.

And so they are now immortalised for posterity.

cabane vauban baie de mont st michel manche normandy franceThe cabin was built as a lookout point for the excise me to survey whatever cargo was being smuggled into Avranches and Mont St Michel from the Channel islands during the 17th Century;

Some say, presumably because of the name “Vauban” being associated with them, that they are defensive posts to guard the bay. But whatever kind of defence you could launch from this cabin against an 18-pounder cannon on board an English ship would surely not be very effective.

There’s a good view down as far as Mont St Michel – or, at least, there would be on any other day when there wouldn’t be a heat haze shrouding the coastline.

pusher biplane baie de mont st michel manche normandy franceThere was also a lot of aerial activity.

I wasn’t quick enough to take a photo of the gyrocopter that flew over the cabane, but I was certainly quick enough to take a photo of the biplane that stuttered by overhead.

And much to my surprise, when I enlarged the photo I discovered that it was a “pusher”. That’s not the usual configuration these days. Most of the aircraft are “tractors”.

And it was making such a racket that I couldn’t help thinking “Goddam the Pusher“, although it probably wasn’t a biplane that Hoyt Axton had in mind when he wrote the song.

Back at Granville Alison wanted to go for a walk around the town and visited the shops. But it was far too warm for me so I dropped her off, gave her directions back here, and then drove back to my nice cool little hidey-hole on my rock.

When she came back we went for another walk, this time around the walls where we sat in the sun for quite a while and watched the people on the beach.

fete des soudeurs granville manche normandy franceFor tea, I had organised some gluten-free burgers which went down very well, and then once it became dark, we went back out.

it was the Nuit des Souders, when all of the blacksmiths in the area set up little stands all over the town and the port to demonstrate their skills.

There was even one ‘neath the spreading chestnut tree, but I couldn’t tell if “the muscles of his brawny arms are strong as iron bands”.

fete des soudeurs granville manche normandy franceThe music was unfortunately pretty poor, especially after last year’s exciting Russian rock group, even though they didn’t have the dancers from “Hellzapoppin'” with them on stage .

In the end, rather than listen to the music we went for a really long walk around the harbour and fell in with a couple of fishermen … “fisherPERSONS” – ed …fishing by the moonlight.

On the way back we called off at some of the galleries that were still open. But the only thing that caught my eye was, as usual, the most expensive thing on offer.

fete des soudeurs granville manche normandy franceThere were also a few of the soudeurs dotted about here and there along the hill too, so we had a good look at some of them too.

But nothing at all really exciting.

It had been a really long day so I wasn’t disappointed to return to my apartment.

We were both pretty tired – after all, it had been a really long day – so we called it a night.

Sunday morning tomorrow, and so a lie in.

At least, I hope so.

And I have plenty more photos of Mont St Michel so I’ll probably put them all on a separate page one of these days.

pointe de carolles granville manche normandy france
pointe de carolles granville manche normandy france

fishermen zodiac baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france
fishermen zodiac baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france

fete des soudeurs granville manche normandy france
fete des soudeurs granville manche normandy france

Monday 21st May 2018 – I’VE GOT ONE …

… of these special spray-on cream tin things.

The one that tells you that it “contains the equivalent of 800 ml of fresh soya cream” – but doesn’t tell you that it only contains enougb propellant to eject about a quarter of it. That’s not very good and I’m not impressed.

In theory, I could puncture the can to liberate the contents but knowing my luck, there will be just enough propellant trapped inside to whitewash the whole apartment and everything in it.

Something else with which I’m not impressed is that the alarm went off at 06:20 as usual and again at 06:30 and I was out of bed something like. Only to read later on that morning that one of my friends is off on his annual Pentecost walk. Yes, it’s a flaming Bank Holiday here, isn’t it? Another day when I can lie in bed without feeling a pang of guilt. And I missed it.

And so I had a glass of Dandelion and Burdock instead. A bottle left over from Christmas 18 months ago. High time that I had a little treat.

I was going to say that I had done badger all today, but that’s not quite true. I’ve done a little tidying up of the crockery and cooking stuff. I’ve been looking for some glass mixing bowls for ages and as luck would have it, I found some in NOZ at the weekend so I bought two. Cooker, dishwasher, microwave safe too,, and at €1:99 each.

However, I have nowhere to put them, so I needed to have a sot-out of stuff. Didn’t take me long but it’s definitely working and it’s definitely tidying up. I ought to award myself a medal.

A beautiful afternoon so a long sit on the wall with my butties and my book, watching the heaving multitudes go straggling past.

joly france granville manche normandy franceAnd not so “straggling” either on some occasions.

The tide was right for the day trippers (or afternoon trippers in this case) to take the Joly France out to the Ile de Chausey – or were they going just for a lap or two around the bay?

But anyway, there was more than enough of them. The boat was pretty full.

And it’s rather ironic really. There was an article in the local paper about “Are there too many tourists going over there?” And I’ll tell you something else for nothing, and that is that if the tourists stopped going over there would be another article in the local papers about the islanders complaining that their economy has collapsed because there aren’t enough tourists going over.

Like many places, the inhabitants would be quite happy for the tourists to stay at home and just post their money over to the island.

la granvillaise granville manche normandy franceThat wasn’t all of the excitement either.

There’s another boat – the La Granvillaise – that does tours around the bay too. And that was setting off on a jaunt too. She looks quite an elderly boat too but in fact was built in 1990, albeit as a replica of a fishing boat – the Rose Marie – of 1897 that was a typical fishing boat of the bay at that time – a bisquine.

She has 410 square metres of canvas sail – the largest amount of any boat of her class in France – and so that’s much more like my style of voyaging

And I was there for ages sitting on my wall, totally engrossed in the Hundred Years War.

We British people think of the Hundred Years War as just being Crécy and Agincourt and not much else in between. For the French though, it was almost 120 years of complete and utter terror. In the past I’d been hunting high and low for a book that gives a detailed French perspective on the war and I finally found one a couple of years ago.

It’s certainly a right riveting read and it’s easy now for me to understand why the French hated the English so much after reading the stories of the atrocities that were committed by the English and their allies. “l’Albion Perfide” indeed.

With the weather being so nice, I had my two walks too, even though the place is heaving with people. And for tea tonight I had vegetables with a burger and some delicious gravy. It was really nice too.

So tomorrow I must take Caliburn to the menders for his service. And it’s a loooooooonnnnnnnng walk home from there. I’m not too keen on that idea. I’ll probably be ill for a week afterwards.

Monday 7th August 2017 – THESE LATE NIGHTS …

… aren’t doing me much good, you know.

I set the alarm at 07:00 in the morning because when I was going to bed at 21:30 or something I didn’t want to waste the day as well. But just recently I seem to have regained all of my old routine – still awake and fighting fit at 02:00 – working on an animation, would you believe..

Back in those days, regular readers of this rubbish will recall that an 08:30 start was the norm when it was a 02:00 sleep. But no matter what, I’m going to hold out for these 07:00 starts.

All in all, this sea air, this “place of my own” and this new evening walk routine seems to be doing me some good.

So with all if this in mind, it took two goes on the alarm clock (Billy Cotton as well as David Bowie) this morning to get me out of bed and staggering into the bathroom, but there I was all the same.

Baguette on the wall for lunch too in the sunshine. It was a glorious afternoon and I was out there until about 15:00 with my book on The Hundred Years War.

It’s a strange war because most British people know of Agincourt, Crécy, the Black Prince and precious little else. For France though, it was about 115 years of sheer continuous terror with rampaging “Private Armies” devastating the countryside.

I know about it from the English point of view of course, so a year or so ago I bought a huge, thick book of about 1,000 pages going into intimate detail of the war from a French point of view.

Tea was a mega-curry. Should have had lentils in it but I forgot to boil them (they take about 2 hours to boil). However I had tons of stuff left over in the fridge like the rest of the stuffing for the peppers, a few mushrooms and the like.

Add to that the pepper left over from the three from LIDL and a large tin of vegetables, it all went together quite well and was one of the best that I’ve made. And enough for four days too.

Ingrid was on the phone for an hour having a chat. She’s in life-changing mode right now too so we compared notes.

But much of the day was spent doing something quite exciting. With my 3D program I just work with a couple of basic templates for figures and I’ve worked on them myself to develop some characters.

But the easiest one to work with is about 10 years old and is no longer supported so finding accessories is very difficult. Stuff disappears off the markets and the newsgroups and is never replaced. The Usenet discussion groups have a retention time of about 3,000 days so it’s all dropping off the end.

But the stuff that I found the other day included some stuff from a previous generation of templates and in a fit of inspiration I’ve managed to develop a little script to make it fit my template.

It’s far from perfect but I’ll keep working at it.

As well as that, I’ve discovered the secret of adapting morphs from older generations of templates to fit the templates that I use, and these are generally better-crafted than current ones.

Again; it’s far from being perfected bu I have a couple that work and that is indeed progress.

I’ll go for a walk now and see what later this evening brings me.

Wednesday 15th March 2017 – THAT WASN’T A VERY NICE …

… night at all.

Not for any shortcomings of the hotel, I hasten to add. This was in fact one of the better Première Classe hotels (but still not as good as the one at Maubeuge last year of course) but nevertheless it took me an age to go off to sleep and then I tossed and turned a good while during the night.

A hot shower brought me round – sort-of-ish, and a good breakfast followed. I had a rest for a while afterwards, and then edited some music tracks so that I have some custom alarm calls and ringtones on my new telephone.

cora supermarket auxerre yonne franceFirst stop was the Cora supermarket around the corner. And here was a thing.

Those of you with long memories will remember back many years ago about the Morrisons supermarket at Reading where the car park had a height barrier “to stop travellers entering the car park”, but also keeping out anyone with a high vehicle.

Here, they seem to have the same issues, but nevertheless they have managed to make a parking space for high vehicles and here’s a rather dirty Caliburn to prove it.

I’ve hit on a new plan for eating out in hotels, which I’ll explain later. It involves a visit to the shops and the purchase of certain items. But while the supermarket was good and objects at a reasonable price, the woman on the check-outs was useless. Far too busy talking to her friends in the queue to concentrate on what she was doing and as a result she was making mistake after mistake. Not a very good advertisement at all for the store.

railway museum toucy yonne franceHaving given Caliburn a really good wash, I had a slow drive through the countryside towards the south-west and into the watershed of the River Loire.

Destination was the town of Toucy, still in the département of the Yonne. I’d driven through here on several occasions 9 or 10 years ago and I’d noticed the old railway artefacts here in the town. Today was the day that I had decided to come to see what was going on

railway museum toucy yonne franceThe place was all locked up, and looked as if it had been that way for 10 years. Everything was rusting and decayed, including these beautiful diesel multiple-unit panorama cars.

The driver’s cabin is very interesting, isn’t it? But that kind of thing would never work in the UK with the restricted loading gauge on British railways.

The only British railway network with anything resembling a Continental loading gauge, the Great Central, was closed down in the 1960s.

railway museum toucy yonne franceThis was probably the most short-sighted of all of the short-sighted railway “economy” measures of the Beeching era, and replacing it today for the HS2 network is costing the UK billions and billions of Pounds.

That’s the trouble with the UK of course – it’s all down to short-term economies and there isn’t an ounce of long-term vision in anything that the country does.

And they are going to find out that for themselves once Brexit begins to bite.

railway museum toucy yonne franceBut leaving aside yet another good rant for a while, I carried on with my wandering around the railway … errr … museum.

As you can see, the exhibits, such as they are, have clearly seen better days and there doesn’t look as if there is anything going on here. There doesn’t seem to be anything in the way of restoration or renovation taking place on the … errr … exhibits here. They are just parked up and abandoned.

railway museum toucy yonne franceThis is probably one of the saddest exhibits here on the site.

I don’t know anything very much about French railway locomotives and the like, but this looks as if it’s something quite unusual and interesting – far too interesting to be just stuck here in a siding and left to rot away.

It’s all quite depressing, wandering around here and seeing all of this.

yard shunters baudet donon roussel railway museum toucy yonne franceThese little locomotives were quite interesting. Yard shunters, I reckon, and made by Baudet Donon and Roussel in the early 1950s.

It’s a little-known fact that this company is actually the successor of the company founded by Gustave Eiffel, he of the tower fame. The company branched out into the construction of railway locomotives and multiple-units, and quite a lot of the company’s equipment found its way onto the French railway network during the period of modernisation after World War II.

yard shunters baudet donon roussel railway museum toucy yonne franceThese little machines weigh a mere 14 tonnes, are just under 6 metres in length and flat-out, they will travel at all of 16kph.

Mind you, with a Renault 60 horse-power PETROL engine, 8-speed gearbox and chain drive, you aren’t going to get much more out of her.

They were the first locomotives to come of the new SNCF standardisation process after the War and replaced all kinds of assorted yard shunters, including horses and, in at least one case, oxen.

They were essentially a temporary measure and withdrawal of the class started in 1979.

railway tourism bicycles museum toucy yonne franceRailway tourism seems to be the up-and-coming thing these days, and this can be accomplished in many different ways.

You might also remember when we were in New Brunswick, Canada, back in October last year, that we saw that old railway bicycle that I admired so much. Combine the two together, and you’ll end up with something like this.

Mind you, it would be really exciting meeting another similar vehicle coming the other way on a single-track line. “Survival of the fittest” is what springs immediately to mind.

narrow gauge railway museum toucy yonne franceThere’s a pile of narrow-gauge railway equipment here too, and they have laid some kind of track to accommodate it.

It looks very much like mining or quarrying equipment to me, although there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of mining around here and I’ve no idea where there might be a quarry.

But like everything else around here, it’s all lying around abandoned and there’s no signage or anything to indicate what all of it might be

One thing is quite clear though.

In the past, I’ve been totally scathing of what passes for “preservation” of railway and other historical artefacts in North America. Having seen what is (or isn’t) going on here, I’m going to have to keep my mouth closed, or else start eating some rather large helpings of humble pie.

MAN van hool alizée toucy yonne franceI couldn’t leave the site though without taking a photo of this sorry machine.

It’s a Van Hool Alizée of the mid-1980s, lying here abandoned in the yard, and it brings back many happy memories for me. 25-30 years ago, I was earning my living travelling around Europe in one of these with piles of tourists when I worked for Shearings Holidays.

Beautiful machines, especially when built on a Volvo chassis, but this one is rear-engined so at first I thought that it might be a Scania. However,it turns out to be a MAN and I never had the opportunity to drive one of these.

Ohhh happy days!

medieval castle guedelon yonne franceAs you may (or may not) know, I have a degree in Historical Technology and just down the road from Toucy is Guedelon.

Guedelon is an extremely interesting place and very high on my list of places to visit because what they are actually doing is building a Medieval castle from scratch.

Not only that, they are using nothing but construction techniques of the period, including man-powered cranes and the like.

medieval castle guedelon yonne franceYou can imagine therefore that this was a place that was also very high on my list of places to visit, and so I set off chaud-pied, as they might say around here, to see what I could see.

But regular readers of this rubbish will know exactly what I discovered when I arrived here.

That’s right. The place is closed “for the season” and despite all of the people wandering around the site pretending to work, it wasn’t possible for me to gain admittance, even just for the purpose of taking a few photos.

That was something that I found extremely miserable.

fourgon incendie delahaye B163 cosne cours sur loire nievre franceHowever, it’s not all doom and gloom because as I arrived at Cosne-Cours sur Loire, I encountered this magnificent beast, and it’s another sad and sorry machine having been abandoned to the elements, despite its rarity value.

It’s a Delahaye fourgonette – I reckon a type B163 – and it’s the type of chassis preferred by the French fire brigades in the early 1950s for the building of specialist vehicles.

But it’s rather a shame to see it sitting here out in the open in a field like this. As I said – I’ll have to stop criticising the North Americans.

river loire cosne cours sur loire nievre franceBy now, it’s time for (a very late) lunch and so I head into the town. The River Loire passes by here in all its magnificence and there’s a nice park across the river from the town that’s a very suitable place to stop.

And, as you have probably noticed, the clouds have gone, the sun is out and there’s a beautiful blue sky to sit and watch me as I eat. It’s a marvellous afternoon and I intend to make the most of it.

cosne cours sur loire nievre franceThe town itself is another one of these beautiful, cramped Medieval cities that has unfortunately seen better days.

There seems to have been a settlement here in Prehistoric times and there was certainly a … errr .. Gallo-Roman settlement called Condate here.

With its comparatively easy crossing of the Loire here, it was the centre of several confrontations throughout history. As far as the British are concerned, its claim to fame was that during the Hundred Years War, Henry V was marching here to meet the Burgundian Army in 1422 when he caught dysentery and died.

His premature death effectively marked the end of any serious hopes that the English might have had of making a permanent conquest of France.

By the 17th Century there was a thriving metallurgical industry here and this was the basis of the wealth of the town. It manufactured fittings for the French naval industry and these were shipped out down the Loire to the naval shipyards downriver.

rivier loire cosne cours sur loire nievre franceHowever the French railway network caused a decline in navigation on the Loire and the metallurgical industry closed down in the 1870s. Some vestiges of the industry lingered on for a while but it all eventually petered out and led to the slow decline of the town.

Today though, it’s the second-largest town in the département of the Nievre after Nevers and as a result it’s become something of an important regional administrative centre.

suspension bridge river loire cosne cours sur loire nievre franceThere’s a beautiful suspension bridge here across the river and this is what had attracted me to the town. I’d never had the time to stop here before.

Unfortunately it’s not the original bridge here. That dated from 1833 but unfortunately that was destroyed during the Second World War. The bridge that’s here today dates from the 1950s but nevertheless, it’s still a magnificent structure and the setting here is tremendous.

US Army 1944 Dodge lorry hotel des gatines cosne cours sur loire nievre franceHaving had a nice walk and a good relax to read my book, I headed off to my hotel. It’s a little place right out of the way in the countryside about 2 miles from the river.

But I’m not alone here- not at all. There’s a 1944 Dodge Lorry – a veteran of the US Army parked here in the barn by the side of my room. It’s certainly the right hotel for me, isn’t it?

And my room is nice and cosy too. This was a good choice.

Tea tonight was something so simple that I’m really surprised that I have never ever considered it before. It’s so easy too, especially in a hotel bedroom and I shall be doing this kind of thing more often.

Half a tin of potatoes, half a tin of mixed vegetables, half a tin of mushrooms and some lettuce all mixed up in salad dressing. Followed by a soya dessert and a chocolate soya drink, with one of these packets of fruit-and-nut mix.

Simple, effective and healthy. You can’t say fairer than that.

And I’ve had a shower, washed my undies and now I’m settling down for the night. See you in the morning.

Saturday 15th June 2013 – MY PEAR TART …

… was something of a wash-out, I’m afraid, and quite literally too.

It tasted very nice with its layers of pear slices and nutmeg, with powdered chocolate and soya cream all over the top but unfortunately, for reasons that I haven’t yet understood, it ended up swimming in liquid.

The cooking in the oven didn’t dry it out at all, so the base was far too wet. I have a lot to learn about baking, that’s for sure.

Another disappointment was the Charity Shop. It did indeed sell books, all of about 50 of them, and there was only one that might have been of interest to me – Fly for Your Life: The Story of R.R. Stanford Tuck.

But as fortune would have it, and as you might expect, it’s a book that I already own.

vieux chateau fort ile d'yeu franceA third disappointment today was the old castle of the Ile D’Yeu. it’s situated on a large rock about 20 metres off the coast of the island, reached by a sort of suspension bridge.

Not the castle itself, I hasten to add. I’d seen that from a distance the first afternoon that I arrived here and I was quite impressed by it.

I was quite looking forward to seeing it and I certainly wasn’t disappointed on that score.

vieux chateau fort ile d'yeu franceThe walk from here out to it is really beautiful and the setting is stunning.

However, due to the considerable amount of coastal erosion that has taken place over the centuries, there is only one way to approach the castle, and only one direction from which to view it.

And again as fortune would have it, in the early evening the sun streams right into the lens of the camera from that particular viewpoint.

vieux chateau fort ile d'yeu franceIt’s a late medieval fortification dating to the Hundred Years War, Built on the orders of Olivier IV de Clisson.

He was one of the Lieutenants of the King of France during the first half of the 14th Century but fell into disgrace after being captured by the English in December 1342 at the 4th Siege of Vannes.

The manner of his capture and subsequent release (in a prisoner-exchange) led to allegations of treachery which were believed by King Philippe VI and, being tricked into visiting Paris after his release, he was summarily executed on 2nd August 1343

vieux chateau fort ile d'yeu franceThe castle was captured in 1355 by the English under Robert Knolles, born in Cheshire and one of the most able – and probably the most ruthless – of the English commanders of the period in France.

His reputation for devastation of the territories that he captured is still a subject of considerable discussion today, and the burnt-out shells of French stone houses are often referred to as Knolles’ Mitres.

It was recaptured by the French in 1392 under none other than Olivier V de Clisson, son of the Oilvier IV de Clisson who had ordered its building.

vieux chateau fort ile d'yeu franceIt declined in importance in the 16th Century and the dismantling began towards the end of the 17th Century following an edict by Louis XIV – the Roi Soleil.

He was concerned that it might serve as a strategic base for the enemies who might attack France.

But the castle does have a most unexpected claim to fame. The castle in L’Ile Noire, Hergé’s 7th adventure of Tintin, is said to have been based upon the Vieux Chateau de l’Ile d’Yeu

But it isn’t all doom and gloom (or doom and sunlight).

The guard-rail that I’ve built for Cécile’s mother for the steps from her front door down to the street level seems to have worked fine, and has been admired by all of the neighbours.

I dug out a hole at the side of the steps (pulling up mostly rocks, I have to say) and sank a length of downspout into it.

hen I sealed off the bottom end with cement to stop the water getting into it, and them tamped a load of soil and gravel around the downspout to hold it well into the ground.

After that, I fitted a mounting bracket (in fact a flooring joist bracket) to the wall and with two of the lengths of scrap wood that we picked up at the builder’s yard, I made a mortice joint with the primitive tools that are on offer here.

I assembled the joint, stuck the upright in the tube and cemented it in, and the horizontal sloping rail into the wall bracket and screwed it in, and there you have an ad-hoc handrail.

Like I say, I could have done it better but there aren’t really any tools here to work with.

old cars mini traveller ile d'yeu franceYou may remember me saying when I arrived here something along the lines of isolated islands and old cars.

And so when was the last time that you saw a Mini Traveller? I cant even think when it might have been that I last saw one.

So here’s one for you to reminisce over.

But there’s something that doesn’t look quite right about the way this car looks (and I don’t mean the wide wheels either) if you ask me and I can’t think what it might be.

Anyway, tomorrow is Sunday and so it’s a lie-in (I hope). I might even have a day off if I’m lucky.

Sunday 9th June 2013 – HERE’S MY SPEC ….

caliburn autoroute rouen france… from Saturday night’s sleepover.

Leaving Calais I drove for a couple of hours and parked up at about 03:00 just short of Rouen on a motorway rest area.

And probably one of the best nights’ sleeps I have ever had. Totally painless and I’ll stop here again!

From here it was straight down the motorway through the depressing weather all the way to near Nantes and from there down to Fromentine.

Not a hiccup along the way (I hope that I was sticking to the limit when I drove past the Kojak with a Kodak) except at Rouen where I ended up in some kind of mayhem around the old harbour

We had marching bands, tall ships and all that kind of rubbish and it took hours to extract myself from the chaos.

When are they going to build a flaming by-pass around that blasted place?

At Frometine I arrived, would you believe, in the middle of a brocante.

And what a brocante it was – there wasn’t anything for sale under about €100. I really do think that some people have taken leave of their senses when it comes to valuing their possessions.

A bit of good luck, though – the second-hand bookshop was open so I bought a few more history books.

That’s one thing that I’m finding with raiding a few of these bookshops – that there are huge gaps in the British version of European history that can only be filled by a French perspective on things.

So far, I’ve bought a huge volume on the Hundred Years War, a couple of books on The Battle of the Rail – the fight of the French cheminots against the SS during the crucial 10 days after D-Day and today, a book on the Allied invasion of Provence.

These are all events that British historians simply gloss over, and it’s nice to read about these events from another point of view.

There’s a pizza place in Fromentine, run by a woman who comes from Morlaix, a town in Finisterre where I spent a few relaxing weeks back in 1976 or something.

She made me a nice vegan pizza (good job that I was prepared with my vegan cheese) – after all, it is Sunday – and then I went off to my spec from the other week to pass the night.

I’ve an early sail in the morning.

Sunday 4th November 2012 – YOU ARE PROBABLY WONDERING …

… where I was last night when the report of the daily activities never made it to the world.

The answer is that I was crashed out here on the sofa. I dozed off in the middle of the Panthers v Redskins gridiron game and that was that until about 02:00 in the morning.

Having lived for so long in splendid rural isolation, I can’t come to terms with modern urban living. Traffic all through the night, people moving about at 06:00, dogs barking, horns blowing.

No, it’s no good for me. I had almost no sleep in my little room.

clermont ferrand puy de dome france24 hours ago though, I was some where completely different.

I was sitting up on the car park at the panoramic viewpoint just outside Clermont-Ferrand on the D941.

I’d bought a pot of jam and some orange juice yesterday, this morning I’d picked up half a baguette, and here I stopped for breakfast.

clermont ferrand puy de dome franceThis is one of the best places in the whole of the Puy-de-Dome to come and admire the view, even when it’s raining.

It’s certainly a class above almost everywhere else (the St Lawrence River excluded, of course) where I’ve stopped for breakfast when I’ve been on the road

And I wasn’t alone here either because several other people had come to join in the proceedings

cathedral Notre-Dame de l’Assomption clermont ferrand puy de dome franceWe’ve been to the cathedral of Notre-Dame de l’Assomption – Our Lady of the Assumption – in Clermont Ferrand on many occasions as regular readers of this rubbish will recall.

Unfortunately though, we’ve never been able to take a really good photograph of it because it’s all hemmed in by buildings.

No such difficulties from up here though, is there? Especially with a 300mm zoom lens

cathedral Notre-Dame de l’Assomption clermont ferrand puy de dome franceAnd when I crop the photograph and blow it up, because I can do that despite modern terrorism legislation, I can produce something magnificent because the building really is superb

It’s the third cathedral on the site. The original one was built in the 5th Century and was destroyed by Pepin le Bref in 760 and again by the Normans in 915 – this time rather more permanently.

Its replacement wasn’t considered grand enough in the period of the magnificent church-building programmes of the 12th and 13th Centuries, and so construction of the present one was commenced in 1248.

Clearly built by the local council, the final (for now) stone of black pierre de Volvic was laid more than 650 years later, in 1905.

But it’s the second cathedral that is the most famous. There on the steps on 27th November 1095, Pope Urban II made the call for the First Crusade to the Holy Land, and laid the foundations for much of what has gone wrong in the world ever since.

plateau de gergovie puy de dome franceRegular readers of this rubbish – albeit in one of its previous incarnations – will recall the view in that photograph.

That’s the Plateau de Gergovie and Liz and I, on one of our fact-finding missions, went to sit on the top of the hill and have lunch.

That’s said by many, including Napoleon III, to be the site where the Gaullish leader Vercingetorix inflicted upon Julius Caesar the first major defeat that he suffered.

Having breakfasted and … errr … relaxed for a short while, I headed off down the D941 in the direction of the historic village of Miremont.

miremont puy de dome franceThe claim to fame of Miremont is the church of St Bonnet situated on top of an isolated rock on the edge of the village.

This is another one of those places that has been high on my list of places to visit, and following the football club about is certainly enabling me to see the sights

It dates from the middle of the 12th century, although I would have given it perhaps 50 years more.

miremont puy de dome franceBut never mind the church for a moment, jut look at the site that it has.

It’s situated on a pinnacle of rock overlooking the confluence of the rivers Sioulet and Chevalet, – an ideal defensive position for any nobleman bent on increasing his power in the region

And as we know, some of these noblemen were as bent as they come.

miremont puy de dome franceWe’re lucky in that the church was built in such a place.

As peace descended onto the area in the years before the horrors of the Hundred Years War, the inhabitants left the safety of the tops of the inaccessible hills and into the more accessible and more fertile valleys.

Consequently this church escaped the rush of church “modernisations” and “rebuilding” in the 13th Century following the return of the Crusaders with the wealth that they had pillaged from Constantinople and the Holy Land.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I have a pet theory about early churches in rural France.

I’ve said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … that I reckon that they started life as chapels to fortresses built in easily-defensible positions.

As the importance of the fortress declined in the era of peace, the importance of the church increased and gradually took over the site.

miremont puy de dome franceWe are very fortunate here in that with this site being so inaccessible, it was never pillaged as ruthlessly for building stone when it was abandoned, as many other sites have been.

And so a good prowl around in the undergrowth produces very clear evidence that there was some kind of fortification up here.

This looks very much like the remains of one of these four-cornered fortified chateaux to me, the type that the Knights Templar loved to take over for their Commanderies.

fcpsh fc pionsat st hilaire miremont puy de dome franceAs for the football, which is why we are here after all, it was a triumph for the FC Pionsat St Hilaire 2nd XI.

They’ve had some really bad luck in matches since the start of the season and at one time not so long ago they were hopelessly adrift at the foot of the table.

However a good win last Saturday night against the Goatslayers buoyed up their spirits.

fcpsh fc pionsat st hilaire miremont puy de dome franceToday though, for the first time in a couple of years, they played like a team with belief.

This was mainly down to Emeric who played today, being unavailable for the 1st XI last night. He drove the team on relentlessly from midfield.

And special mention must go to Kevin, who volunteered to play in goal and had an excellent game.

Vincent has come into the senior side from the juniors this season.

He has a lot to learn of course, but being coached from the crowd on the touchline, he managed to score his debut goal for the team – the first of many, we hope.

fcpsh fc pionsat st hilaire miremont puy de dome franceThe tean finished by winning convincingly, 3-1, to move up to fourth from bottom.

And despite all of the criticism that I have given to the defence, the back four played magnificently. If only they could play like this in every match they would have no worries at all.

It’s a shame about the driving rain though – it put a dampener on the proceedings though.

And so, having had a nice weekend away from home, which surely does me good, I headed off back for my pizza and garlic bread.

I deserved them.

Wednesday 15th August 2012 – I WITNESSED A CALAMITY TODAY!

I mentioned yesterday that I was technicianing for Marianne this morning.

rick the trailer guy cello bussieres puy de dome franceAnd so I was. We were doing the pot d’acceuil at Bussieres for the tourists this morning.

The weather was fine and so they decided to hold it outside, even though there was a fair wind blowing.

Music was provided by Rick the Belgian trailer guy on the ‘cello and a girl friend of his on accordion. I really enjoy listening to those two playing and indeed they did not disappoint this morning – that is, until the tragedy occurred.

Halfway through the proceedings they stopped for a breather. Rick stood his ‘cello on the tripod and went over to chat to someone he knew.

rick the trailer guy cello bussieres puy de dome franceJust at that very moment a violent gust of wind picked up his ‘cello, hurled it down the street and smashed it into a stone wall.

And “smashed” was the appropriate word too.

35 years he’s had that ‘cello. He was devastated, and so were all of us. It’s an awful thing to happen to someone.

I’ve had my bass guitar for that length of time and I know how I would feel if something were to happen to it.

I felt really sorry for Rick.

rick the trailer guy cello bussieres fete du village  puy de dome franceAll of that put rather a damper on the proceedings.

It’s really hard to focus and have a good time when you’ve been the witness to a personal tragedy such as this.

What made matters worse was that the event was very poorly attended. I’m not sure what had happened to all of the publicity but it certainly didn’t reach the hands of the people whom it was intended to reach

So after that tragedy we went into Pionsat for the kermesse – or more to the point, for the midday meal at the kermesse. Marianne had reserved a table for her and some friends and I took along my butties because of course you won’t find anything there that I might be able to eat.

durat pionsat puy de dome franceIt comes as a huge surprise to most people when you tell them that the site that they know today as Pionsat is not in fact the original site of the town.

I’m standing roughly where the original site of the town might have been, looking back at the present site of Pionsat with the zoom lens on my camera

We are about one kilometre south of the present site, at a lieu-dit or hamlet known as Durat,

durat pionsat puy de dome franceThere was said to be an early medieval fortress here at Durat, but no-one is quite sure where.

they say that the fortress has been completely dismantled and that nothing whatever remains – and that they are surprised by this.

This mound here is my best guess, although there is nothing that has ever been found to prove it.

durat pionsat puy de dome franceRemember that building that we saw just now on what might have been the castle mound?

I went for a little probe around and I noticed this. Of course, there is nothing whatever to suggest that this is any part of the original fortress, even if the fortress had been built of stone, but it is certainly significant.

People have this strange idea about castles being made out of stone – like in the film The Vikings starring Kirk Douglas.

That is clearly an anachronism.

Stone-built castles wouldn’t come onto the scene for another 100 years. Wood would have been the more usual building material round about this time. A wood castle “completely disappearing” wouldn’t be too much of a surprise

durat pionsat puy de dome franceOn our way out to Durat we passed another significant Pionsat landmark.

This concerns a citizen of Pionsat, one Désiré Chaffraix, who left the town to go to seek his fortune in the USA.

And having made his pile (some say in the brothels of New Orleans but no-one has ever dared put that in writing), he returned home round about the turn of the 20th Century.

He fancied himself as a “man of the people” and as there was an agricultural recession in the area at the time, he used his fortune to employ the locals to build three huge mansions.

This was one of the earliest make-work projects for the unemployed, but there seems to be little doubt that he was doing it for a rather sinister purpose.

He had the idea that he would lead some kind of new political movement in the region, and used these projects as a means of “encouraging” the locals to vote for him

Of course the locals took his money and started to work on his project, but at the next round of elections, the perfidious locals voted for his opponent.

In an evident fit of pique, Chaffraix stopped the construction, cut off the funds and moved away. And left behind three magnificent but only half-finished stately mansions.

And here they stand, even today, like the Maison Durat which is one of these three unfinished tributes to the ambitions of Désiré Chaffraix.

chateau de pionsat puy de dome franceOn our way back into town we were treated by Marianne to a guided tour of the Chateau de Pionsat.

It’s not been possible to visit the chateau for a number of years now because it’s been undergoing a programme of major renovation, so we wre quite lucky.

And Marianne was quite pleased too. The chateau is her chou-chou and she delights in having the opportunity to show people around her celebrated pile.

chateau de pionsat puy de dome franceNot that there’s as much to see of it as there would have been 300 years ago, that’s for sure.

You only have to look at the dressed stone used in some of the most banal buildings in Pionsat dating from the 19th Century to know where much of it has gone.

It’s actually in two parts – a Medieval part that dates from the time of the 100 Years War and was built on the instructions of Charles V as a barrier to marauding English troops from the Aquitaine, and the second part is from a couple of centuries later.

After the Revolution it fell into disrepair but was later listed as a Historic Monument and is now slowly being pieced together.

We finished everything by about 19:30 and I came home.

Completely worn out and it’s supposed to be a bank holiday – a day of rest – too.

But at least we had a pile of rain this evening, and the garden didn’t half need it;.

And I really do feel sorry for Rick the Trailer Guy and his cello.