Tag Archives: jackie schueller

Saturday 12th February 2022 – HAVING BEEN DEPRIVED …

… of really good company for quite some considerable time, Alison and I had hatched a cunning plan last time I was here. Subsequently we had been in touch with Jackie in Köln and suggested that we meet up for a day and exchange our news. After all, it’s been two years since we last met.

And so, seeing as Aachen is halfway in between the two of us, we set off this morning by car.

Not that I was feeling too much like it because it had been another rotten night.

As I mentioned yesterday I was in bed early and although the party that started at about 00:30 wasn’t anything at all like last night but what did happen was that I had another series of regular voyages that overwhelmed the dictaphone.

We started off in World War I last night. There was something about this arty (do I mean “artillery”?) regiment that I’d encountered that had turned up at Ieper somewhere where there had been some crucial fighting in November 1914 where the Germans had been pushing either side of the British and a British salient had been created. This was one of the crucial moments of the war and of course the area was totally devastated. I was talking to a soldier from this unit. He was saying that they had only been in this particular area for a weekend or so. It wasn’t actually in the thick of the fighting but it was pretty close to it. We were talking about the area and the history because with it being in the cockpit of Europe it was a pretty vital place. Battles had been fought here for years and all kinds of stuff had been uncovered in the past but the war had come and obliterated everything. He said to me that it was all very interesting to me of course. We talked about some of the bodies that had been found here and one in particular that had belonged to a regiment that had had 100% casualties during a charge. A couple of other regiments that had gone to relieve them had also had 100% casualties. One body that had been found subsequently must have been something of a hero to have gone like that. This conversation went on for quite some time.

Later on we were going somewhere last night walking by a canal looking at an old ruined cottage there and some kind of crane with a platform dangling from the grab. This cottage had been burnt to the ground practically. It turned out that it belonged to someone and they had discovered several structural defects in it. They had been trying to repair it but the thng had caught fire and gone up. The crane and platform were there for when they needed to make a bridge to take machinery over there and demolish it. This was in the parish magazine that some woman not my mother had had and as she had a mailbox I couldn’t understand why she had had it every time. There were several other magazines, including one about cars and a foreign boy who lived there sad that he had put it for me. There were a couple of conjunctions so he said that he had written some notes for me. I chucked that away but this parish magazine was very interesting and so was another article about some kind of meeting that everyone had had, some exhibition or something. It seemed to me that for the environmental group that we were running we could have made a really good magazine out of all of this. We could have had some names and e-mails from the people who attended this meeting, made a really good newsletter and hoped to push on and do something like that every month or so.. This was my one big opportunity and it had gone

Meanwhile, up in my room I was sharing a room with Zero. She wasn’t there but the room was in a real mess. She had shoes all over the place so the first thing that I wanted to do was to tidy up her shoes so I said to whoever it was I was with – a woman – that I would have to find one of these plastic boxes to put all her shoes in. She produced one immediately but I came up with some excuse why we couldn’t use that because I wasn’t really ready to do it just then. Yes, imagine this? Me sharing a room with Zero and she isn’t in it!

There was something else about this woman too. Her mother was going into an old people’s home and was looking at one in Union Street. pointed out that the one in Shavington by the Vine pub was being expanded and having new rooms so maybe she could get her in there. I thought that Shavington would be a much nicer place because it was a smaller village, you can’t go far, you can’t get lost, everything that you need is there, shops and everything and with it being quiet there was less risk of being knocked down than an old people’s home in a rundown area on the edge of Crewe Town Centre. Whoever it was put my comments down to some kind of loyalty about Shavington than any kind of practical consideration which was a shame because I really did think that it was so much better.

I was also at Liverpool football ground last night. They were discussing the remodelling of the stadium and all the crowd had to fit into a room that was the size of a normal living room. They were discussing ways to make it more safe and fit more people in. I thought that if they were only going to be havng 50 people at the most then they are wasting their time, aren’ they? This discussion went on for hours about whether they should put this extra level in. I was saying that they could knock a hole through where the kitchen is and have a bar, stuff like that. It was really getting out of hand. And then the subject drifted round to players. There were some people from Crewe there. It seems that they were interested in taking on trial a player from Crewe and they were trying to work out which one it was. In the end they had to aska girl who worked at Crewe – they had to ask her her name and check her writing. In the end they came up with a name. They thought that it woukd be “somebody Thomas” and that immediately meant about three or four different players. In the end end they had an idea whom it might be and asked me to go and fetch him. I said “OK but tell me who it isn’t” so they said it was “something Thomas”, a double-barrelled surname to go and not fetch him. Then the conversation continued about players from Egypt and the Ukraine. Someone took the paper from me and gave me another paper and it was for a guy called Olivier Ochoi and that was now the player that I had to fetch to bring up here. I asked them “are you sure this time?” and the general consensus seemed to be “yes”.

On the subject of football it was also the Welsh Premier League Final between Newtown and Aberystwyth and was taking place somewhere I can’t remember. I was up early at 06:30 and drove all the way out to where it was. The were busy setting out the hall there for spectators to come along and watch the game. It was a big hall shaped like a figure 8 bit wuth 2 squares and a joining piece. In one of these was a TV and someone was busy arranging a TV in front of it so that he and his friends could watch it. I explained that last time there was a play-off final, in the other room they had a big 225″ TV and arranged all the chairs in semi-circles around to watch so I didn’t think that what he was doing was going to work. Having checked out the place I had then to go back home for all my stuff and the radio stuff because I was going to do some radio interviewing for the game. I went outside, it was still dark and the whole car was starting to freeze up. I had some trouble trying to remember what key it was because it wasn’t the usual car. I eventually managed to open the door and I got in. Some young boy opened the window at the back – it was a rear-engined car – and asked me if I needed any help for this, any help for that. I replied “no” so he asked what I was going to do about this, what was I going to do about that and kept asking so persistently. In the end I got out of the car, picked up his bike and threw it over the fence into a field. He had a run off after it but then he came back and tried to get nto the car and tried to steal something out of the car. I had to get out and go to deal with that

Anyway I stepped back into this dream about this football match. I was in this car and we had all arranged to meet at a service station on the A55. That was where everyone met up but no-one still knew where it was going on. I was sitting down there trying to pass the time waiting for a decision to be made. I ended up talking to someone. We had a really good chat and I was sorting through a few boxes of stuff that they had. When I looked at my watch it was 14:20. I looked around and everyone else had gone. I scrambled over to try to find someone now. I went to the reception desk to ask if they knew where everyone had gone. They said that is was something like “Fingland” but of course that meant absolutely nothing to me. There was only 40 minutes to kick-off and I hadn’t a clue where I was going to go. I thought “how on earth am I going to find out now where I’m supposed to be heading now that everyone else has gone and cleared off.

Anyway when the alarm went off I was out of bed fairly quickly and by the time that Alison arrived I was actually ready.

It was freezing outside as we set off, and we had a really good chat all the way to Aachen.

Jackie arrived at the station just as we did. We parked the car and then headed off into the centre.

barbarella cafe aachen germany Eric Hall photo February 2022Our day turned into trip to various coffee houses, restaurants and shops.

Alison knew a good café around the corner from where we had parked the car and so we headed that way. The coffee was really nice there and the cakes that the girls tried were delicious too. There may have been vegan cakes I suppose, but I didn’t ask. Having had toast for breakfast I wasn’t hungry.

It was in an area of the city that I don’t really know so when we left, I was surprised to find that we were only just around the corner from the Rathaus, and isn’t the German name for a Town Hall really appropriate?.

The main shopping centre is on the other side of the city so we headed off that way.

roman remains aachen germany Eric Hall photo February 2022The site is known to have been inhabited for almost 5000 years but perhaps its best-know period was that under the Romans from the beginning of the First Century until its evacuation, which appears to have taken place round about 383AD. No Roman coin has been discovered here later than that date.

There are plenty of Roman remains here in the city, especially those here in the Elisengarten.
We made quite a tour of the shops and the two girls found a load of interesting stuff to take home with them.

And as well as that, I wasn’t left out of the shopping either. I found some of that really nice vegan cheese that I used to buy in Montlucon, and the two girls bought me a pile of that lovely vegan chocolate for my birthday.

spa elisenbrunnen pavilion cathedral st folian church aachen germany Eric Hall photo February 2022From the shopping precinct we can see across the road to the Elisenbrunnen Pavilion.

The Roman name of the town was Aquae Grannae – the waters of Grannus – and the most popular source from where the water can be obtained is from over there. However there’s a big notice by the outlet that says “not for drinking”. I should really have brought something in which I could have taken some water away.

Although it’s often said that the pavilion was built in the 1820s, it was in fact destroyed by bombing during World War II and this replica was built in the early 1950s.

Lunch was nice too, at one of these franchised bio restaurants down at the side of the spa. My salad was delicious. And then we went back to the shops.

As darkness fell we went for another coffee and then dropped Jackie off at the railway station for her train back home. At the station we fell foul of a German police patrol. “That’s why I moved from Germany” said Alison, and I could see her point. It was all extremely unnecessary and I admired her for her calm.

When she dropped me off at home I wandered round to the fritkot but they were overflowing with customers and weren’t taking any more orders before they closed. It was lucky that I had some pasta left.

There’s an 05:00 start in the morning ready for my trip home so right now I’m off to bed. Not that I’m expecting a better night that I’ve had just recently but we have to make an effort and if necessary I can sleep on the train.

Wednesday 3rd February 2021 – I REALLY AM …

… eating quite well these days. I really am.

This afternoon I have had one of the nicest lunches that I have ever had.

For a start, I fried two rather large onions in a very large saucepan. To that, I added several cloves of garlic and an assortment of herbs. When they were browning nicely I added the four leeks that I had bought and which I had peeled and sliced, and stirred them in, along with a variety of herbs and ground black pepper.

home made cream of leek and potato soup place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallFour small potatoes followed them into the pan, washed and cubed. They were stirred into the mix too.

Once everything was all mixed in, I added a couple of stock cubes, just enough water to cover the contents, and then a box of soya cooking cream. When it was all in the pot, I stirred it well in and left it to simmer for 45 minutes.

Once it was all well-cooked, it was all whizzed up and I ended with probably the finest vegan cream of leek and potato soup that I have ever eaten. I was really pleased with this.

sourdough fruit loaf home made wholemeal bread place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd that wasn’t all of it either, not by a long way. I have made this morning the most perfect loaf that I have ever made after all of these attempts and with my leek and potato soup it was absolutely delicious.

It goes without saying that I was pleased about all of this because my day didn’t start off like that.

Never mind the first alarm, or the third alarm for that matter, it was 08:30 when I finally found the strength to leave the bed and that filled me full of dismay because it made me run so late for everything that I had to do during the day.

First task was to give the sourdough dough a second kneading, and then I shaped it and put it in the smaller of the two silicone moulds and left it for its second proofing.

Second task was to make a 500-gramme wholemeal loaf using traditional years. And I do have to say that for some unknown reason for which I really have no answer, the dough turned out to be absolutely perfect – exactly as it ought to have been – nice and rubbery and elastic and smooth.

It was then left for an hour or so to proof in a mixing bowl and I came in here to make a start on transcribing the dictaphone notes that have been building up over the last few days.

After a break for my hot chocolate and cake for breakfast I gave the dough its second kneading, shaped it and put it into the larger silicone mould and while it was proofing again, carried on with the dictaphone notes.

When the bread went into the oven I made my soup so that it was all ready for eating. It was a rather later lunch than usual but it was well-worth waiting for because everything was exactly as it would have been – especially as I finally seem to have managed to have made a loaf that came out exactly as it should have done after all these attempts.

Once lunch was over, I attacked the form for my registration with the Securité Sociale. Filling in the form was reasonably straightforward but finding the accompanying documents took rather more time than it ought to have done. And when the scanner function on the printer didn’t work and I had to photocopy some of them instead, that took longer still.

By the time that I’d completed everything I was ready for my afternoon walk.

It was quite cloudy outside and windy too and things hadn’t dried up that much. But I pushed on around my little circuit.

chausiais joly france port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere was nothing whatever happening out there this afternoon. The only thing of any interest whatever was the fact that Chausiais and Joly France were moored up in the mud over by the ferry terminal and don’t look anything like moving within the foreseeable future.

And the only reason that I took the photos, I suppose, was for the sake of having taken a photo while I was out.

Back here, just as I sat down with my coffee, the telephone rang. Ingrid phoned me and we had another one of these very long chats that took me right up to guitar-playing time.

Tea was pie and veg with gravy followed by apple pie. Like I said right at the very beginning, I am really eating rather well these days. I have never in my life had such good food as I’ve been having since I’ve been living here.

The net result of all of this is that the blog entries for SUNDAY, MONDAY and TUESDAY have been amended to include the dictaphone notes, if you have the patience to read them because during those three nights I travelled miles, as well as taking a couple of old and welcome regulars with me.

Last night though I was with one of the Welsh rock bands and the story gradually evolved as we were trying to work our way between several concerts last night – I hadn’t actually got up on stage but I’d been jamming away in the background while they were there and one of the Man offshoots picked me up and we went off to perform a few gigs. There was a photo that they had passed around of Strawberry Moose playing the drums at some resort in North West England. They’d made some kind of remarks about the Vikings who had come along to conquer that country and were busy beating it up with rock and roll songs because Strawberry Moose still had on his helmet from our voyage with Adventure Canada on board The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour. One of the couples had a daughter who was about 4. She was a very precocious kid and was actually playing and singing on one of the numbers on stage. Surprisingly she wasn’t doing a bad job at all and everyone seemed to be enjoying it. When we got off the stage at the end she stayed on the stage to do something and her mother had to go and fetch her back. Everyone was making a joke about her being 4 and doing all of this, and I thought that that was most unfair because what she was doing was nothing to laugh at at all. It was quite serious stuff and quite good and enjoyable. I thought that she was getting the rough end of this.

A little later on our coach pulled in to Audlem although it was nothing like Audlem. As we climbed up the hill which doesn’t exist of course we had to stop to let some people out. I asked about the toilets and they replied that they were in the Market Hall. They showed me where it was and I ran off. It was miles, absolutely miles, and on the way back running past this guy I came to a set of stairs and there was an archway over the top every 4th or 5th stair or something. rather than running through the archway I ended up on top of it running from one top of an arch to another down these stairs. I eventually reached the bottom and went outside, and the coach was there. One of the guys who had a toilet cistern said “it’s ok, there’s no hurry. This toilet cistern is no use to me – I’ve just found out that it’s made in Spain, not the UK. We’re just making 1 or 2 phone calls about how to deal with a certain thing” and the coach doesn’t seem much like moving at the moment so I just loitered around outside. This was a hot sweaty dream again.

Later still, we were coming into Shavington via Dodd’s Bank, Nerina and me. I asked if it was OK if we go to a pub – I mentioned the name of a pub – it was one in Crewe somewhere to go and see Jon Dean because he had my bank credit card and one or two other things that I needed for my journey. I could see as she answered back that she wasn’t very happy. As we got into Shavington there was someone (I couldn’t decipher who) who could see the 2 of us together and he smiled a bit because he probably heard that our relationship was just a little rocky but we were still together I suppose which cheered him up.

Somewhat later Jackie and Alison were round at my house revising. I’d been out the previous day to go to Manchester to fetch some car parts and had to go again today because some were missing. I went round to the wholesaler’s first to check and he said it wasn’t there and i’d have to go myself to Manchester to fetch it. I think that I’ve dictated (which I apparently haven’t, so I wonder what it is that I’ve missed out) a lot of this about going with Percy Penguin and having to go and pick her up from her home where she was living. There were loads of other people living in this home as well which which was overrun with cats. I had to find her – she was busy doing something and I couldn’t work my way back downstairs again. A woman told me where to go and I had to climb down a load of pipework which was very awkward as there were no stairs. She was at the bottom and was pleased to see me so I had to get ready to go. I wanted to go to the toilet but a cat kept on getting in the way. And then I realised that I wasn’t going to the toilet in the right place so I found that. Percy Penguin took so long messing around that it was now about 11:30 znd we’d never get to Manchester before the place closed for lunch. I wanted to be back for lunch as I was going to take Jackie and Alison somewhere. We got in the car ready to go and she was talking about driving lessons and how she’d taken a few but Covid had closed it down and when they reopened they had forgotten all about her. I wanted to put “Traffic” on the car radio but for some unknown reason their live album wasn’t on my playlist and I had to select some tracks which was pretty awkward while I was trying to drive. It turned out that they were tracks from some kind of play or something. There was an advert of some kind or other and the music of “Traffic” was used as the background so while I had that on there was some other music coming from somewhere and I couldn’t hear it properly. That was starting to annoy me and all in all I was becoming quite annoyed about everything that was going on.

And so the obvious question is “where am I going to be travelling tonight”.

Tuesday 2nd February 2020 – HERE’S AN INTERESTING …

… little story for you.

A while ago, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I rang up the Corona Virus Vaccination Centre to tell them my tale about the problems that I have about joining the queue for the vaccination. They told me, as you might recall, to ‘phone back 2 weeks later.

Admittedly, it’s not quite two weeks since I rang, but nevertheless I rang up today to find out the latest position. And I wonder if you can guess what I was told.

Only naturally, you will be replying “‘phone back 2 weeks later”. And you will be totally wrong. The actual reply was “‘phone back 4 weeks later”.

As you can imagine, I’m not holding out much hope of having my vaccination by this method. Not if I’m going to be pushed back farther and farther away. But I have now had my monthly rental statement for my apartment and that means that I can now apply for registration with the Sécurité Sociale.

That’s tomorrow’s task so that I can post off my application on Thursday morning on my way to the shops. It’s very doubtful that that’s going to be all that quick either but at the moment it seems to be the most likely way forward.

But never mind tomorrow, let us turn our attention to today, or, rather, this morning. You don’t need me to tell you that I missed the third alarm and didn’t leave the bed until about 07:10.

After the medication I worked on my Welsh until it was time to grab my hot chocolate and a slice of cake, and then I went for my lesson. It was quite successful, surprisingly, and at the end we had a little comprehension test of the type that we would have during our exam in the Summer. And to my surprise, I had 100%.

Of course it’s a long way from the exam, and only a small part of it too. But nevertheless it’s still a good sign.

As a result it ended up being quite a late lunch – later than usual in fact for a Tuesday too. And then I had my telephone call to make to enquire about my vaccine.

heavy cloud blowing over donville les bains Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThat took me up to the time to go out for my afternoon walk.

Outside it was quite sunny looking out towards the west but when I glanced behind me I could see a rather large dark cloud that the wind had blown right over the town of Donville les Bains and that was looking quite miserable. I was glad that I wasn’t out in that down there.

Last night quite late on, there had been a heavy rainstorm and the paths were sodden and flooded in places. It wasn’t pleasant picking my way around the puddles.

But it will probably dry out fairly quickly this afternoon with the sun and the wind. But it wasn’t like that this morning. When I awoke there was a thick fog and you couldn’t see a thing. But by about 10:00 the wind must have picked up and blown it all away.

waves in baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd it was still blowing even now as I walked down the other side of the headland. You can tell by the waves out there in the bay that they are quite churned up.

No change in occupancy in the chantier navale. Still the four boats that we saw yesterday. Maybe Aztec Lady is going to be in there for longer than I reckoned.

With nothing else happening, I headed on home for my mug of hot coffee which I actually managed to drink while it was still warm, for a change just recently.

There’s no fruit bread here of course so I made some sourdough mix with some of the wholemeal bread flour that I’ve bought. A pile of ground brazil nuts, desiccated coconut, raisins and dried fruit went in there as well, along with a banana.

It’s all nicely mixed together now and it’s in the basin under a damp tea towel busily proofing. Tomorrow morning I’ll give it the second kneading and then I can make some real bread because I’ve run out of that.

As well as that, they had leeks on special offer at LeClerc on Saturday so I’m going to make some leek and potato soup for lunch for the next few days. I fancy something different instead of salad sandwiches.

Tea was pasta and vegetables with bulghour all tossed in a nice creamy cheese sauce followed by my jam turnover and the remains of the raspberry sorbet.

Tomorrow I have plenty to do as I mentioned earlier. And that includes transcribing the mass of dictaphone notes that have been building up. But I managed to catch up a little with that and I can now add in the details of the voyages on which I travelled. And it’s hardly a surprise that it took me so long to transcribe them when you sread how many there are and the distance that I travelled.

I have vague memories of being at work in another office last night. I’d just been transferred there and was going through the opened post and I saw that they had been issuing demands for the year 91/92 which I thought was very quick seeing as it was only October 92. I thought that I was nowhere near this far ahead when I was working in my previous place. I was going through the outstanding post and there was a novel there, one of these Victorian hardback book things with a submission in it from the person who had previously done my job “is it true that this is referring to (and he quoted some kind of oblique formula about feeding people?” and the reply was “yes, it’s how things were in those days”. I had a look but I couldn’t see exactly where it was mentioned in the page concerned.
But then I was having my customary dream about building up arrears of work and not being able to face the consequences of it, something that seems to be a recurring dream just recently.

Later on we were at a seaport and a big strange ship was being manoeuvred and I DO mean “big” too, a huge thing. People were scampering about everywhere and there were guys working the rudder so that it would enter and about 3 or 4 others hanging on to it to make it swing round. Our departure was for the following morning early and it was late afternoon early eveningish and I had to help bring our ship, a big tanker, into the port. I was picking a load of things along while the tanker was manoeuvring in and thinking to myself “people are going to start to come back ready to sail out in surely but I have to do this job, go home, have a bit of a sleep, get my things together and come back ready to sail at a ridiculously early part of the morning so I’m going to be busy”. Someone said “we all know what we are going to get and we’ll all be getting different things” so I said to her – it might even have been Liz “I knpw what you are going to get in a minute”. I took my two golf clubs out of the sleeves in which they had been carried and threw them towards her but I missed my aim. The bounced off on deck but with it being so cold they slid on the ice. I carried on pushing whatever it was that I was pushing and said to Liz “we’ll get them on the way back”. Someone else was walking on the deck and she went over to them. I shouted “don’t worry. I know that they are there. I’ll fetch them in a minute” as I was pushing this heavy load off towards the bow of the ship.

Later I was back on this big tanker thinking that anyone could go and take one of these big tankers and sail it as I am doing. All you need to do is to type out a permit and an unsophisticated dock worker wouldn’t know at all that it’s for the wrong person. When you get in, all you have to do is to type out the details onto the sheets, not that that much would be known about it, a Russian doctor anyway (and at this point I fell asleep) it doesn’t take much skill to do that (I continued when I awoke briefly).

Even later on we were finally getting ready to go on our trip. Down by the industrial estate at Crewe I said goodbye for the moment to Alison or I dunno whoever it was whom I was with and headed off back home which was in an office somewhere. I had to go to my desk and start to assemble all of my stuff and prepare to pack. I had a look at my overtrousers. They were huge – about 3 times too big for me and thought that I could really do with getting another pair. On the way back I’d been to pick up some food for supplies. I had a bag of buns but the bag burst and I dropped half of them on the lavatory floor somewhere. I was making a list in my head of the things that I had to do while I was going around including dismantling my chair and taking the seat of it with me to sit on on the cold grass. I was busy packing all my stuff like that and making a list of what I didn’t have but needed. I thought “I hope Jackie – or Alison – has some waterproof trousers and so on”. I was thinking “I hope that the beige Cortina starts as I have to take that down to the industrial estate with my stuff in it and leave it there while i’m away all this time”.

And later on I was back on the ship – yet again – or rather back in the hotel waiting to board the ship. I’d had something to eat. There was a little old man there with whom I’d become quite friendly. It turned out that he hadn’t actually arranged to travel but he was hoping to so I thought “we’ll get him on board somehow”. I collected up all my plates, crockery and cutlery and took it over to the sink, threw it all in the sink and got one of these washing hose arrangement things and with very high pressure I washed all my cutlery, everything. Just then the girl in charge came in and as I turned round I gave her a full blast of washing up water out of the jet wash thing there that she wasn’t very pleased about. She said that the draw was being made tonight on board ship. “What time are we all actually getting under way?”. She replied “not for a bit yet. We’re still waiting for some more people to come and they have all the forms to fill in but the boss is quite adamant that you can’t do anything unless we have your photograph”. I thought “the photograph is the least of my worries at the moment. I can soon arrange that”.

I did manage to find time though to finish off the story of the siege of the Chateau de Chalus and made a little start on the burning of Oradour sur Glane.

That’s going to be another long-drawn-out procedure I reckon. There are over 50 photographs that I took while I was there.

Friday 8th January 2021 – TODAY WAS …

… the worst day so far of this little bout of ill-health that I’m having.

The alarms went off as usual and even though they awoke me and I was wide awake, I didn’t have the physical strength to leave the bed. It took me until about 09:15 before I could find the energy to leave the bed and for the next hour or two I was right out of everything.

When I finally pulled myself together I sat down and had a play with the dictaphone. And it seemed that I’d travelled miles during the night. Including one trip with one of my sisters, although I shan’t elaborate as you are probably eating a meal right now and I don’t want to spoil your appetite.

Somewhere along the line my wife and I had got back together and were living together. Things weren’t going too well and I had to be very careful about checking my post to make sure that no unexpected letters were being slipped in somewhere that I might have missed. I had to regularly keep an eye on the pile of paperwork for filing that nothing had been slipped in there. This caused one or two raised eyebrows when people started to work out what it was that I was actually doing. I had plenty of things to do the following morning but my brother was around living there I think talking about what we were going to do. He said that he needed some help to put some silencer paste on an exhaust and change a wheel over on his car. He showed me a wheel and the tyre had split. I had plenty of things to do myself that were pretty important but I would give him a hand for 10 minutes. One of the things that I needed was a new tyre for my car. I had a look at one that I had just taken off. It was completely perished and there was a huge split right across the canvas. I showed it to my brother and said “I wet down to London on this on Monday.

In the middle of all of this there was a story about me being in a lorry, a lorry driver and we were filming or rather watching a film of a route that someone had driven and I was trying to have some kind of indication or hints from this video about driving, a Youtube camera shot thing.

The third part of this was when I’d been working with something like Shearings or Adventure Canada and we were going on our Christmas Holidays. We’d each been given a place to go to. I’d been given a place that was only about 3 or 4 miles away from where we were which I thought was a bit miserable. I wasn’t very happy. I was sitting at a table with 3 or 4 old people and they were making jokes about Russian spies. One of them asked me a question “was I a Russian spy?”. I made some kind of sarcastic remark so he started to make a real issue out of this kind of thing. An old guy, Admiral of the Fleet or something. In the end I’d had enough of this. I stood up, threw down my napkin onto the table and said “I’ll tell you what. When I go from here I’m going to become a Russian spy and what I’m going to do will make you look a total and utter fool, and that’s not going to be difficult”. He went apoplectic. I stormed out. One thing that I’d noticed over the last few days that no-one was really speaking to me or giving me anything to do. Even a couple of girls whom I knew walked past. I said “hello girls” but they didn’t respond so I shouted “hello girls” and then they waved to me. 1 of the girls was coming with me. We were in the room where we were working and there was such a racket going on and suddenly one of the chairs caught fire. It had been right up against the heater and the heat had set it off. She switched a few switches and the noise immediately died down to just a noise. It was still annoying but a lot less than it had been. I realised that it had been the air conditioning or the heater fan or something that was blowing and making all of this noise. She was talking about the trip that we were going to go on, asking how long it was going to take us to get there and when would we be ready. I said that I’d be ready in half an hour because I’m not taking very much and if I’ve forgotten anything I can always come back here because we’re only round the corner anyway. I remember saying that the first thing that I’d be doing when I come back before I do anything else is to weld a sill on the red Cortina. That has its MoT very shortly.

As you can imagine, it took me an age to transcribe all of this and I haven’t really done all that much else. I did make the telephone call that I needed to make, only to find that with the Covid situation their office is only open Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

The only other thing that I’ve done that can be classed in any way productive was something on the principle that if you can’t think of anything to do, or don’t have the energy to do anything, then just do something – anything – so I edited another pile of photos from Greenland in 2019. That’s not a productive day by any means, but I’m struggling with ill-health right now and I have to do what I can.

There were the usual interruptions today. Lunch of course with my delicious bread – and I forgot to mention that the fruit bread that I had with my hot chocolate this morning was delicious.

Another thing that I did was to peel, dice and blanch another kilo or so of carrots. They are in the freezer now freezing away to themselves.

bird of prey pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere was the afternoon walk too, in the freezing weather. The temperature had dropped to 1°C overnight and had risen to about 3°C by this afternoon.

Not too many people out there today but one person who was there who I hadn’t seen for a while was our bird of prey – hovering around over the rocks at the headland looking for a tasty snack. He didn’t catch anything while I was there watching – perhaps I had disturbed the prey, I dunno.

So after a while, I cleared off and left him to it. I walked down along the path overlooking the chantier navale as usual but there was nothing going on there at all that hasn’t been going on before.

new door public conveniences pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that a few days I talked about the new door on the public conveniences here.

Previously it was a kind-of roller shutter door, quite lightweight and it looked as if someone had kicked it in. And so they other day they came out and fitted a really heavy-duty sliding door instead. I’d love to see someone try to kick that one in.

However, as I mentioned earlier, there’s a design fault in it and they’ll be out to fix it again, sooner than you might think actually because there are already signs that it wont last long.

What they have done is put the staple for the padlock when the door is closed (on the right-hand side of the door itno the wall and cemented it. That means that any reasonably-sized iron bar can prize it off and there are signs that someone has already had a try. It needs to be in an L-shaped backing plate and screwed to the frame on the inner profile, so that no-one can get behind the screws to prize them out.

Back here I had a coffee and then carried on with some photos in rather a half-hearted fashion. I stopped for guitar practice of course, and that went somewhat better than last night.

plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOutside again in the freezing weather I set off for my walk – and four runs tonight. I’m slowly pulling myself up again.

It was too cold ro loiter around outside so I just took one photo of the Plat Gousset to say that I was out, and then I came back home – at a run again.

But to tell you the truth, there wasn’t anything else much to photograph tonight. It was singularly quiet, as it has been all day.

While I’d been out I’d turned on the oven again and was cooking a potato. When I came back I put a slice of pie in there and while I was at it, a frozen apple turnover. I cooked some veg and gravy too, and had pie with baked potato and veg and gravy, followed by apple turnover for tea. I’ll finish the apple crumble tomorrow.

Now that I’ve written my notes, I’m off to bed. Which is more than … gulp … 68,000 British people will be doing tonight. One person in every thousand in the UK has been diagnosed with Covid today. And apart from the 1325 who won’t be waking up tomorrow – a disgraceful record for a developed nation, my friend Erika from Atlanta and I were working out that in the USA the Death Rate from Covid is 1/59, yet in the UK, with its much-vaunted and magnificent NHS, the death rate is 1/37.

There’s something dreadfully wrong in the UK.

Sunday 13th December 2020 – JUST FOR A …

… change just recently, I was up and about at something resembling more a respectable time of day on a Sunday – like 10:30 for example, which is a world of a difference away from 12:00 and 12:30, isn’t it?

So having taken my medicine, I went to have a listen to the dictaphone. And phew! Was I busy during the night?

I can’t remember much about the next bit that happened (I can’t even remember any first bit) at night but there was a young girl in it something like my youngest sister. I don’t know what she was doing but later I was out and they were controlling the stuff that was going out of this shop. I had a TV computer screen and took a felt-tip pen and wrote on the screen surround today’s date to make it look as if I’d actually brought this in with me rather than just buying it so that I could take it out of the store without actually paying for it but my big felt-tip pen was all discoloured and the ink didn’t show up very well on the brown surround so I had to take a felt-tip pen off them.

Later, it was my mother’s birthday and I wanted to wish her a happy birthday (don’t ask me why). I was living in Chester at the time so I had to go to Crewe. I had this idea of going with the aid of a stick where I leant all my weight on this stick and pivoted forward like that. I could work up a good rhythm with that and actually go at 7 miles per hour doing that all the way back to Crewe. But then I thought that I would have to turn round and do it all the way back again. There were all kinds of stories about how they were going to use paper boarding but this kind of thing was extremely dangerous after all they had said. There were countless people who had set out with things like this and thought that they could do really well.

Next, we had another one of my “wandering around London” dreams last night. I’d been to see my aunt with a pile of things – I think that I’d been on holiday and I’d called back there just to drop off some stuff. Then I wandered off around and met up with a friend – we were planning on having a night in. But she turned out to me a mixture of herself and my cousin in Canada and we were actually in Canada. I had to go back to her house so I got off this bus with all these people with whom I’d been chatting, and noticed that her street was under more development. They were building another restaurant so I went to talk to her about it and she explained that it was always being modernised and so on. I said that these other people had talked about this restaurant and how good it was going to be and she agreed. Then we got into her car to drive these presents round to Mary’s. But when we arrived it was after the time that their building had been locked up. I said that we ring on the bell and wait 5 minutes and she’ll let us in, then we can get ourselves organised. But she seemed to be reluctant to get out of the car to go to see her and said something about her mother who was in her 90s, the same age as my aunt. In the end I decided that I would go out as well and she would go out and maybe we would just put the presents in the letter box and come back or perhaps maybe just find the time to say a quick hello but we didn’t get to the point of making a quick decision

I was with this same friend yet again subsequently and we had been all around south-west London. She was talking about her relationships and how her husband was moving out at the end of January. I asked her if she knew for sure. Had he given her a date? She said not but reckoned that that was what it was going to be. I asked about her plans and she said that she was going to move to a place called “Sea Breezes” so if he came to look for her he wouldn’t find her. I asked her about this place and she was a bit vague about it. She said that things were going to change – the air, you would feel the sea in it and the ozone. I thought that it would have to be pretty close to the sea but she said “no, it’s in south-west London”. So we set off to go and have a look at it but we ended up being sidetracked miles off our course and we had to come back to retrace our steps. she had been on a bike and in the end she picked up another one and I picked up hers and we both cycled back and came to a place where the hill was really steep. We had to cycle down this hill at an enormous speed. I said “I hope that your brakes work on this bike that I’m riding”. She said “yes so do I”. That unnerved me a little. I had to use my foot to slow down but we reached the bottom and ended up in part of the big urban environment there. I’d lost my friend for a minute and ended up talking to a couple of women. One of them was speaking in a French accent so I started to reply in French. We had a bit of a chat. She noticed the dry ski slope and said “oh, skiers. It’s like Mont Blanc here”. I had a look and I could see someone who resembled my friend going down the slope. I thought “she’s been quick to get there” so I set off. Instead I found her standing in the middle of the road on a traffic island chatting to Jackie. There was a group of about 6 of them. I went over but kept on bumping into this guy and kept on excusing myself. He kept replying “it’s no problem” but I could see that he was starting to become irritated about this but it was a natural reaction that I couldn’t stop. Then I noticed that STRAWBERRY MOOSE wasn’t there so I asked my friend what she had done with him. She pointed “he’s over there” so Jackie went to pick him up. They were all talking to this guy who looked like someone from the OU warning him about the clothes that he was wearing – he shouldn’t go to a certain place wearing those clothes. But his clothes weren’t OU at all – they had some other logo on them that I didn’t recognise so this chat continued

It’s hardly any surprise after all of that that I didn’t have time to do very much today. Transcribing that took a lot of time

But I did find the time to make my fruit bread. Much as I enjoyed my chocolate cake, it was very fatty and probably responsible for the weight that I’m gaining. Not an ounce of fat in the fruit bread, except maybe in the oil from the ground Brazil nuts.

So that was stuck on one side again while I joined up the music tracks for my next radio programme. That’s all done too. And our journey around the World moves on into yet more uncharted territory.

helicopter english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBy now I was ready to go out for my afternoon walk around the headland. First thing though was to exchange pleasantries with a neighbour outside who was taking the air.

It was a good job that I was wrapped up in my rain gear as it was raining outside. And as I stepped out of the car park I noticed that our local air-sea rescue helicopter went flying by, right out there in the English Channel. Someone with his chopper out this afternoon

At first I wasn’t sure what it was because it was so far out at sea. It was only when I returned when I could enlarge the photo to see what it was.

Anyway, I set off down the track to the lawn and across and through the car park to the headland to see what was going on.

fishing boats chausiais port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd the answer to that conundrum was “nothing at all”. Not even a boat anywhere out at sea. So I walked down to cross over the road and I ran off down the path on top of the cliffs seeing as there was no-one about.

There wasn’t all that much going on in the harbour either. There were no fishing boats at the fish processing plant but there was one moving around in the harbour looking as if it was going out to the fishing grounds.

There were several others moored in the harbour but they didn’t look as if they are going anywhere right now. I suppose that they are all having the day off.

jean claude rabec furniture removals chausiais port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut there was certainly something quite strange going on in the background.

The company that owns that lorry is one of the country’s leading furniture removers and you can see that from the lorry they are unloading some very large wooden crates. These are the kind of crates that you would expect to see in a long-distance furniture removal such as a removal by sea.

But why unload them at the ferry port? They can only be for Chausiais but surely it’s easier to drop them in with the crane at the loading bay in inner harbour.

chantier navale port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhile I was here at the viewpoint on top of the cliffs, I had a look over at the chantier navale to see if there was anything new happening.

We’re still stuck at just the yacht right now. Nothing else has come in over the last couple of days since Ceres II went back into the water. Instead we can just admire the weather.

We’re having something of a rainstorm as you can see. The Pointe de Carolles over there in the background is shrouded in thick cloud and the rain is quite heavy out in the centre of the bay and it looks as if it’s settled in for the night.

sunset baie de mont st michel brittany coast Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut out in the Baie de Mont St Michel the weather conditions aren’t quite as dismal.

We’re having another one of these “sunshine streaming through the heavy cloud” moments across near the Brittany coast, with the rain coming down to the North (on the right) and the South (on the left). In the centre of the image the corner of the cliffs by Cancale and the sea off the coast are really nicely illuminated by the rays of the sun.

But I wasn’t going to hang around to admire it for too long. I was becoming rather wet what with all of this rain. I turned on my heel and headed for home and my coffee, which I forgot to drink.

Instead I kneaded the bread a second time and shaped it, then dropped it into a greased tin to rise again. And having taken a lump of frozen dough out of the freezer earlier, I added some more flour to what was a wet mix, and then kneaded, rolled and shaped it, and stuck it in a pizza tray.

vegan pizza fruit bread rice pudding Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallLiz was on line so we had a chat and I did some more work, but later on I put on the oven and when it was warm, stuck the bread in the oven, and then added a rice pudding to the oven as well.

While it was cooking, I prepared the pizza. I had no peppers and, unfortunately, I forgot the olives. But when the bread and rice were cooked, the pizza went into the oven.

The pizza was soon cooked and it was absolutely delicious – one of the best that I’ve made. The bread was left to cool and then stuck in a tin and the rice pudding ended up back into the oven to finish off as it wasn’t quite cooked.

I wasn’t hungry so I didn’t try it. That will be for tomorrow.

casino plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallLater on I went for my perambulations around the medieval city walls – not that I was feeling much like it and which I won’t be able to do when the 20:00 curfew comes into force on Tuesday.

As seems to be the case these days I kept to the dry land up on top of the walls and the view from up there is different from what I usually see, as is the case with the view over the Plat Gousset.

Down on the path I ran all the way round and after having a pause, ran off around and through the Square Maurice Marland towards home.

christmas lights rue lecampion Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hallback on the walls again, I had to remind myself that there’s a little point where you can see the Christmas lights of the Rue Lecampion and I haven’t photographed those yet.

You can see right down the street into the Place Generale de Gaulle and the blue lights on the Mairie that we saw a couple of days ago from up on top. And in the distance in the top right-hand corner you’ll see the lights at the top of the Rue Couraye.

So back here I wrote up my notes ready to go to bed. I’ve already started writing the notes for the radio programme so I’m hoping that I can finish them and have time to go to the shops before lunch. But that remains to be seen. It’s more important to have a decent sleep and a good start in the morning.

But we’ll see about that tomorrow too.

Monday 16th November 2020 – PHEW! THAT WAS HOT!

With having a pile of left-over mushrooms from the weekend, this evening I made a curry with some lentils, a pepper and the leftover mushrooms.

And into it I tipped a jar of the Vindaloo sauce that I’d bought from NOZ.

All I can say that tonight I’ll be putting the toilet roll in the fridge and I shall be doing so again and again etc., as there are four more helpings for the freezer. I hope that they will actually freeze and not defrost the rest of the stuff in the freezer instead.

storm waves plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallSo while you admire the photos of a much calmer sea tonight, this morning I missed the third alarm – but only by five minutes. I was up and about pretty promptly.

After the medication I attacked the Radio programme that I had promised to do. And by 14:20 I’d finished – all done and dusted. And I could have finished earlier too had I made up my mind much quicker to save 11 seconds rather than to add in an additional 3 seconds. And there was even a pause for lunch too with some of my beautiful new bread.

Next task was to listen to the dictaphone. And it’s no surprise that I overslept this morning. It just amazes me that I returned home from my travels as quickly as I did.

storm waves plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallI was at home again last night. It was about 04:00 in the morning and I had to go to the bathroom. When I went in there our bath had been transformed into a bed and someone had set up a little camp table with computer on it working away in the bathroom as if we had visitors for the night. So I did what I had to do and later I had to go for a walk uptown to do something, so off we set, me and some other guy. He was some high official of the European Union, something like that. We had a chat and he gradually eased out of his shell, I eased out of mine and we did what we had to do. On the way back we had problems crossing the road. I had to stick my head round a corner, tell him when it was clear then we’d both run for it, which was what we did. We walked on a little further and there was this beautiful view over what looked as if it might be Stoke on Trent right across the city centre. I said to him “I wish I’d brought my camera with me”. We walked on back towards the office and by now this guy had changed into a girl a bit like Malou only it wasn’t Malou but that type of girl. We were having a chat and she came out with a quote while we were chatting that I immediately recognised. I said something like “it’s not every day that I get to go walking around with another Emerson Lake and Palmer fan”. She smiled and we started talking about music and life when we were probably both the same teenagers in the early 70s. Then it drifted on to I was about to get on stage and perform with my group. I awoke in a feverish sweat again.

The room that we were in was very bare and spartan and my friend made a comment about it so I replied with something or other and he or she replied again (and what that was all about I really have no idea)

I was reading a book talking about new all kinds of different things, a transport book and there was a photo of a bus going through through the streets of Dublin. When I looked it was a peculiar pink colour with grey writing and I thought “I’ve seen that livery before” – in fact I have some AAA batteries like it. I suddenly realised that I’d done some work for someone in Conwy once. He ran a night club and there was a rumour going around that he’d bought a coach and it was that colour and we’d seen coaches in two other places on the North Wales coast like in Saltney and somewhere else that might have been Rhyl. I showed it to a couple of people and we had a chat about it. We thought “well, maybe he’s going to start some kind of big bus service. I thought “he might have told me when I was working there. I might have been interested in staying to deal with that

I had to go out and I took this girl with me. We were in a MkV Cortina estate. We reached the sub-post office and I parked in the street. She went to do her task but came out and said that she had to wait hours for this so I had to loiter around. I suddenly realised that I was parked right outside the door of someone whom I wanted to see and the door was opening. Some guy walked out and walked off. Then another guy walked out, the one whom I didn’t want to see but I was hiding in the car so he wouldn’t see me so I didn’t see where he went. I realised that the car was parked about 3 feet from the kerb so I put it into the kerb nicely, which meant that the car behind me was now sitting 3 feet out in the road. I waited, and the next thing that I remembered, I was right down the far end of the street about a mile away. I thought “she’ll be wanting to go home soon so I set out to walk. At the traffic lights at the top of Broad Street there were some kids playing around on like a shop from there. 3 kids in heavily-laden pickups squealing the tyres and doing handbrake turns much to the annoyance of a couple of neighbours. Then an old BAS motorbike went past with a boy and girl on it. He did a wheelie then flipped it as if he was going to perform a somersault but the wheel came off it and flew off down the street. They landed in a heap in the road and I couldn’t help bursting out laughing. “Serve them right”. I reached the car but there was no sign of this girl now. 1 thing that I had noticed was that in this street there was about a dozen MkIII Cortinas. “This is strange”. There was no sign of this girl so I went to telephone her but I couldn’t make my telephone work. There was a pile of soup in it. Every time I pressed the switch to wake up the battery nothing happened. I wondered how I was going to contact this girl now.

We’d been all over Crewe, a group of us and it’s been a long time since we’ve done this during the night. There was me, and certainly Jackie and Alison. We’d been checking out all of these student houses on Underwood Lane. Jackie decided that she needed to go home for something so we’d all meet up in some kind of café. I went with her. She had this bright yellow van pretty similar to Caliburn. They’d all asked me if they could view where Caliburn was, and I was trying to think of it, apart from leaving a telephone active in the van I couldn’t think. A variety of suggestions came up but this telephone was the best but I didn’t have a modern up-to-date 3G telephone spare. So we set off and pulled in on this car park. Hans was there at a table with a girl from school. I said her name but it wasn’t her and I couldn’t think of her real name. The girl I was with – it could have been either Jackie or Alison said something like “she used to live with a guy” and mumbled his name “but now she’s back with her parents”. I asked “who was the guy” so she mumbled the name again but I still didn’t get it. Then she said that she had to visit the bathroom so off she went. I was thinking that I ought to have a word with Hans for if that girl is free I wouldn’t mind a date with her. Just then he came past so I said “hi”. He said “ahh, I have a couple of friends in here today then have I?”. In the meantime I was waiting for this girl to come back from the bathroom in this café place. There was a woman rattling on the door – she’d obviously been quite a long time and I wondered “had she fallen in?”. It was all becoming rather confused. I could hear voices but they weren’t hers. I was wondering “what on earth is happening now?”

In between all of this I went for a walk around the headland

peche à pied pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallJust for a change there wasn’t anything at all going on this afternoon, either on the sea or on the land.

The only thing of any note was these people out on the rocks at the Pointe du Roc for the peche à pied. And it’s a surprise that they are there because with the confinement there’s a ban on the peche à pied right now.

And that was that, really. Not even anyone parking illegally in the vicinity of the College Malraux. In fact I even managed to fit in a run along the path on top of the cliffs overlooking the port.

And then I came on home to carry on with the dictaphone notes.

Throughout the day I’ve been talking to my friend with Covid. She’s now out of her time but still having to isolate as other members of her family are still affected. And that’s probably the hardest part of her life right now. It’s enough to make anyone depressed.

And Liz too. She and Terry are in Lanzarote right now, trying to work out whether they ought to come home or to stick out the virus where they are. I know exactly what I would do if it were me.

What with one thing and another I only had half an hour on the guitars and then I went to make my vindaloo, followed by some lovely apple crumble and vegan ice cream.

donville les bains Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hallrather later than usual, I went out for my evening runs and walks around the walls.

There was no-one about at all so I could carry out my runs in relative comfort. I stopped off at the viewpoint halfway along the walls to take a photo of the lights of Donville les Bains in the distance, and then ran on all the way to the viewpoint overlooking the Place Marechal Foch to see how the sea was doing now that the storm had died down. I’m definitely doing my best to keep fit.

Having dealt with that, I ran off across the Square Maurice Marland and then walked along the walls towards home.

port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere was a really nice view across to the fish processing plant tonight, and we had a trawler down there unloading.

There’s a refrigerated lorry parked there in the loading bay too. He’ll be buzzing off to Paris tonight in time to be on the wholesale market for the restaurants in the small hours of tomorrow morning. Round to the other side, the door to the plant was wide open and the lights were reflecting quite brightly from the water down there.

From there I ran on home to write up my notes for the day and then go to bed ready for my Welsh course tomorrow.

And I have to make some more cordial because I’ve just this evening finished off the last of the lemon and ginger. I’ve plenty of oranges lying around so I’ll make an orange and ginger one for a change.

So now, later than I would like, I’m off to bed. I wonder where I’ll end up tonight.

Saturday 15th August 2020 – I’VE DONE SOMETHING …

… today that I haven’t done since 2005. And this time even more so because while back then it cost me nothing, this time it’s cost me a lot of money.

But ask me if I care.

What I’ve done is to walk away from a hotel that I had booked for tonight and went somewhere else (far more expensive).

But more of this later. Last night I had a strange sleep – waking up at about 00:45 to find that the radio was playing. And then sleeping through until about 05:45 without moving. Not a single nocturnal voyage anyqhere to be seen

Plenty of time to do a load of paperwork and then I went down to breakfast. Unfortunately I wasn’t feeling too well so I didn’t eat much which was a shame because there was tons of stuff there. It could have been an outstanding breakfast.

Unfortunately Jackie wasn’t available but Alison was free today as well as tomorrow so we agreed to meet up this afternoon.

Dodging the roadworks and the heavy showers, I set off for Leuven.

Friterie Marsupilami Route de Marche, 6600 Bastogne, Belgium eric hallThe Lady Who Lives In The SatNav brought me all the way through Luxembourg, where I fuelled up before crossing the Belgian border (fuel at €0:97/litre) and the Ardennes, passing through the town of Bastogne where I stopped to take a photo of another abandoned bus

It’s an old “bendy bus”, one of the articulated buses and judging by its number plate it comes from the town of Rotenburg in Lower Saxony but it’s now the Friterie Marsupilami, the FritKot on the Edge of Town.

There’s a fritkot on almost every corner in Belgium and this is certainly one of the more interesting ones. It’s closed though so I couldn’t find out what it was like.

It took me a good while to find Alison’s house – The Lady Who Lives In The SatNav having brought me into town in entirely the wrong direction. It was a nice afternon so we went to the English shop for a supplies such as vegan ice cream.

herons Kasteel van Leefdaal belgium eric hallLater on we went for a walk. We discovered a new footpath that eventually took us past the Kasteel van Leefdaal.

Here we could admire the wildlife swimming on one of the many ponds – mostly man-made ponds – around there

Not that I would want to go swimming on a pond like that. There’s that much algae floating aound on top that you could probably walk on it – or, at least, someone lighter than me could. I must keep on with the battle to keep my weight down.

swans Kasteel van Leefdaal belgium eric hallThe Chateau isn’t open to the public unfortunately and it’s hidden behind a rather large wall so you can’t actually see very much of it.

Currently owned by the Counts of Liedekerke it dates from the Renaissance period and replaced a previous building. There is known to have been a building on the site since at least the 12th Century.

Armed with our vegan ice cream, we then went back to Alison’s house for a chat. We must be both getting old because we ended up crashing out in the garden in the sun, something that we found quite amusing, although in fact it was a rather sad indictment of our states of health these days.

Alison had to go out later so I set off through one of the most wicked rainstorms that I have ever encountered. All of the road round by Braine l’Alleud was flooded and the traffic lights at a road junction had failed. That led to certain complications until we all managed to sort ourselves out.

strawberry moose silly belgium eric hallAs well as having A FAVOURITE TOWN IN AUSTRIA Strawberry Moose also has a favourite town in Belgium.

It goes without saying that as we were passing within a mile or two of the place, we had to go there. His Nibs is never one to pass up on a photo opportunity whenever he gets the chance, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall.

Having done that, we headed off down to peruwelz on the Belgian – French border and my hotel. But one look at it convinced me that this was not where I wanted to stay. Crowds of single men loitering outside, sitting on the steps or leaning against the wall. Crowds of them.

It’s the kind pf place that gave me a most uneasy, eerie feeling that I can’t explain. But always having been one to rely on my own intuition, I decided that it wasn’t the place for me so I went elsewhere.

Tea tonight was a plate of chips and a salad, and watching the people coming into the fritkot, I can see immediately why the infection rate in Belgium is so high. Despite all of the precautions that are supposed to be taken, the wearing of masks is, shall we say, rather casual.

And the roads in Belgium are appalling. They are much worse that I ever remembered them. They are just like in a third-world country and for one of the richest countries in the world, it’s an embarrassment.

Tomorrow I won’t have far to go on Belgian roads because I’m close to the frontier here. About a kilometre away, I reckon.

With any luck I’ll be over the border early tomorrow and then a leisurely drive home. It might take a couple of days to make it but I’ll be back by the middle of the week. It’s been a long time

Tuesday 10th March 2020 – I WAS RIGHT!

neptune port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallIt WAS a good idea to go out early this morning to have a look at the gravel boat that had arrived during the night to make sure that it was indeed Neptune that had honoured us with her presence.

As you can see, here she is all fully loaded and deep in the wtaer and all of the hatches are battened down. It’s round about 16:00 and she’s not even been in the harbour 24 hours.

This could well be one of the quickest turn-rounds that we have seen.

neptune port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallAt something like 10:40 this morning when I was out and about to see what was going on, she was nothing at all like in the previous photo.

Loading hadn’t been on the go for long, as you can see. They’ve started loading from the stern and working down towards the bow, she’s well-down at the stern and the bow is quite high out of the water.

That’s a clear indication that they haven’t been going long and they have about 2200 tonnes of gravel to put in her.

This morning, to my surprise, i was awake at about 05:20. But not for long, though. I was soon back to sleep.

Even more surprisingly, I managed to beat the third alarm yet again. That shows a kind of courage and determination that I thought that I’d lost.

After the medication I had a look at the dictaphone. And there was plenty to go at on there. I’d been a busy boy during the night.

At some point during the night I’d awoken to find myself telling a story about some kind of radio programme that I’d been doing that involved travelling on a ship. I was recounting this story and when I reached the end I suddenly found that the day was wrong. It wasn’t in fact going out on the day that I thought it was. The ship was going out some other day so I ended up having to retrace my steps and come back again. It was all extremely weird because it was all so lifelike while I was recounting this story.
Later on I was in some town in between Cologne and Frankfurt and had to go to meet either Jackie or Alison – I can’t remember who. The idea was that I would catch the TGV – there would be one quite regularly between the two, or was it Vienna? Might have been Vienna even I dunno. There would be some kind of TGV regularly between them. I had to start making enquiries but I found that the town where I was staying, there was no TGV. It didn’t stop. I had to go all the way back to Cologne or Stuttgart or somewhere to get onto the train. I thought “this can’t be right”. There must be some kind of local train between here and wherever the other person was. So I started to make enquiries. I found a little station where I could conceivably get a train back to Stuttgart and then get the TGV down there. So I started t think about doing this. Then I suddenly looked at my watch and it was 13:54 and I had to be down there for 17:00. I’d let all this time lapse so I thought that the only way that I was going to get down there is to drive down there. But then I had the problem of leaving my car ad that’s going to be extremely awkward. I was in a library while all this was going on and of course there were some books on display that I wanted to sit and read. In the meantime all kinds of things were going through my head about what would happen if I left my vehicle unattended wherever I was supposed to be and would it be painless about the parking, all that kind of thing. In the end I was totally overwhelmed by all this kind of thing
And at another stage of the proceedings I’d been with another friend of mine again, one who featured a short while ago. We’d been wandering around all the clubs. There was a snooker club place that we went to, a sports club and we went in there again and there was a TV. We thought about watching the football so he was flicking through the channels on the TV trying to find the football but we couldn’t seem to find it. There was some guy, a young guy, sitting there trying to watch something as well but he wasn’t finding anything so we ended up talking to him. He was a down-and-out kind of person. Again it was a case of time running out and we needed to be somewhere else.

There was more to it than that, but as you are probably eating your tea or something right now, I’ll spare you the gruesome details.

After breakfast I attacked the digital sound-file splitting. Two of them were straightforward – quite easy in fact. The third was more complicated as it contained more than it should have done. That involved tracking down through about 20 studio reference files until I found the reference to the version that I had.

But as for the fourth, it was a very obscure album to start with, from 1966 from a record company that has long-since disappeared featuring a couple of artists who have disowned their work from this period.

Reference to the album itself helped me unravel some of it but the rest was … well … not easy. I’ve managed to find a discography of the work of the artists and looking in the tracks for the phrases that represent the titles (it’s a good job that it wasn’t an instrumental) I reckon that I’ve managed to do it justice.

There’s still no clue as to what this master tape relates to, but I’ve now ended up with a very rare, and very special version of Julie Driscoll singing “This Wheel’s On Fire” long before Bob Dylan actually recorded it himself. That must be something.

fishing boats ile de chausey english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallThis was the cue for me to go out and see what was going on down in the harbour.

The weather was, once again, completely miserable outside. It wasn’t actually raining but it wasn’t far off and there was haze out everywhere. The harbour gates can’t have long closed because the fleets of fishing boats were out ther eheading to their stations.

At least, I think they were fishing boats. I couldn’t see a thing in this claggy mist.

yacht english cnahhel ile de chausey granville manche normandy france eric hallA little closer towards the shore the view was slightly better. Not much, but at least I could see what I was supposed to be looking at.

That’s actually a yacht, heading out in the wind towards the Ile de Chausey in the wind, and good luck to him too. I must admit that it did make me feel rather envious seeing him out there.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I’m on a fitness thing right now. I’ve upped my daily walks from two to three, I’m doing two lengths of running, and my morning stroll into town for my dejeunette for lunch is the longest way possible

yachts english channel ile de chausey granville manche normandy france eric hallThat means walking right down to the lighthouse and instead of cutting across the lawn, going down the steps and right round the headland where I came to grief last summer.

And as I tuened the corner right at the bottom, I was treated to the sight of three more yachts coming round in squadron formation.

It’s not very often that you see yachts out there in the middle of the week when it isn’t a school holiday, so I’ve no idea what is happening. There must be something special going on to attract them like this.

la granvillaise charles marie trawler chantier navale port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric halland there’s more excitement round by the chantier navale

We saw the number of boats under repair dwindle down to none at the end of last week, and then yesterday we had a couple in there. But today, joining La Granvillaise and a fishing boat is another fishing boat and the yacht Charles-Marie.

So it’s All Systems Go down there right now, and that’s good news for the port. A thriving and successful chantier navale will encourage boat owners to keep their boats here and assure the success of the port.

digger crane loading gravel neptune port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallWith the tide being now on its way out, the harbour gates were closed so I could walk across the top to the other side of the harbour to see what was happening with Neptune.

But first, that row of pontoons that I mentioned yesterday that looked as if it might be new. Unfortunately it isn’t. They must have been cleaning them, that’s all because it’s still the same old pontoons – just looking nicer.

So I went to see what was happening down at the other end of the harbour.

digger crane loading gravel neptune port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallFor some unknown reason, they aren’t actually using the conveyors to load up the ship.

There’s a digger bringing the stuff out of the gravel bins and dumping it in a heap at the foot of one of the big cranes, and the crane is picking it up with a grab and dropping it into the hold of Neptune.

I”m not sure if I’ve mentioned it before but there’s a quarry near Avranches that produces a very high-grade fine stone that is eminently suitable for mixing with asphalt.

digger crane loading gravel neptune port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallThere are two asphalt plants in the south of the UK, one near Shoreham and the other near Whitstable and they buy their stone from the quarry here at Avranches, and the gravel boats ferry it across.

And that, of course is a country that thinks that it’s all-powerful and can rule the world, yet it can’t even produce any gravel of its own from the rocks that exist on its own shores. It’s when you think about things like this that you realise just how much of a joke this Brexit really is.

As for Neptune herself, she was built in 1992 in Rosslau on the Elbe in Germany and, rarely these days, flies the British flag. And, surprisingly, she has ice-breaking capabilities.

pointing harbour wall port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallWhile I was down here I went to see if there was anythign going on with that scaffolding that they had installed at Marité’s berth.

There were two men working on it and from what I could see, which wasn’t very much I have to admit, it looked as if they might just be repointing the wall.

So on that note, I went to La Mie Caline to pick up my dejeunette and then wandered back slowly to my apartment.

First thing that I did back here was a little bit of tidying up to try to make the place a little more respectable, and then to sort out another pile of albums that need digitalising.

That was the cue then to finish off finding the rest of the music for Project 031 and organise all of that. That took me nicely up to lunchtime.

After lunch I started to write out the notes for the radio project, but had an interruption to go for my usual afternoon walk.

peche a pied grand maree harbour entrance light port de light granville manche normandy france eric hallNo pathetic parking to report – just one of the lowest tides of the year (the real lowest one is tomorrow).

We’ve seen plenty of photos of the marker light for the harbour entrance being submerged up beyond the top of the highest red band, but we very rarely get to see it completely out of the water and surrounded by sand and rocks as it is today.

It’s the time for the peche à pied too. Low water is below the level that is reserved for the commercial exploiters so the general public can go out to the unallocated parts below the traditional low water mark and help themselves.

And there are plenty of people out there too having a go, and there will be even more tomorrow with it being school half-day.

One of my neighbours was out there too so we had a little chat.

On the way back, I had something of a shock.

A gaggle of schoolkids and a couple of teachers went past me on a classe découverte and one of them was the absolute spitting image – and I really do mean that – of someone who has figured in our adventures, in one form or another, on numerous occasions.

It made me look twice to make sure that I wasn’t hallucinating about this. It really was quite unsettling.

Back here I finished off my notes and then dictated them. But I didn’t finish editing them because I … errrr … closed my eyes for a little while. That’s the kind of thing that’s depressing me considerably.

Tea tonight was the leftover stuffing from yesterday mixed with a can of kidney beans and rolled into a couple of taco rolls, with rice and vegetables. Plenty of stuffing left over, so that’s a job for Friday night I recon and my “leftover curry”.

Pudding was apple pie and that coconut soya dessert stuff. And even though I say it myself, my apple pie is delicious and I’ll make some more like that. But I’ll remember to put the nutmeg and cinnamon in it too.

night brehal plage granville manche normandy france eric hallAnd then I went out for my evening walk, with my little NIKON 1 J5 and the f1.8 18.5mm lens for company.

There was sole wid and low cloud, but apart from that, there was an impressive view and I could see for miles. That encouraged me to have a play around with the camera and the lens to see what it could do.

It was set on shutter priority at varying shutter speeds and I took several photos of the view across to Brehal-Plage from different points with diferent settings.

night brehal plage granville manche normandy france eric hallWhat with one thing and another, I wasn’t expecting it to do very much and a couple of examples were filed under CS as you might expect.

But given the limitations of what I’m doing and the equipment that I’m using, the results of those that survived the cull are not unacceptable. A blind man would be pleased to see them.

In between all of this, I managed to fit in a couple of runs down my normal track. The first along the north side of the walls and the second across the place Maurice Marland

night brehal plage granville manche normandy france eric hallAnd to my surprise, I managed to run on for a fair distance too, well past my usual finishing post. even part-way up the ramp on run number two.

But at the top of the ramp I had a look across to the port to see if I could see neptune. But no. In probably one of the quickest turn-round times ever, the harbour gates are open and she’s been and gone already. She’s not there now, the ground’s all flat. And she’s on her way to Whitstable.

It really WAS a good job that I went to see her this morning and didn’t leave it until later.

night brehal plage granville manche normandy france eric hallWhile you admire the best photo of the bunch, taken at 1/20 second at f1.74 on ISO3200, I was feeling so enthusiastic (which is not like me at all) that I continued my walk a little and actually managed a third run down another one of my running tracks.

Yes, I’m keeping the pressure on and I’m determined to improve my basic health even if I can’t do much about my illness. Running 800-900 metres might be no big deal for some, but for someone my age who is slowly dying of a debilitating illness, it’s pretty good.

Back here, I’ve been writing up my notes and listening to music. But now I’m off to bed. I have important things to do tomorrow so I need to be on form.

Sunday 26th January 2020 – WHAT A NICE …

monschau germany eric hall… day out that was today!

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall having seen a photo similar to this a while ago. It’s the town square in Monschau in Germany, just across the border from Belgium and about half an hour’s drive south from Aachen.

And that’s where I’ve been today.

We’ve been celebrating – if that’s the correct word – the last day that we can do an outing like this free of any control whatsoever, thanks to 17.4 xenophobes and racists in the UK who have voted to stop me living where I like, working where I like, travelling where I like, receiving medical treatment where I like, and receiving the full amount of retirement pension to which I am entitled after all of my years of paying into the system.

What’s worse is that these racists and xenophobes loudly trumpet the “democratic will of the people”, but they refused to allow me the right to vote on an issue that affects me more than any of them.

What’s “democratic” about that?

So this morning the alarm went off at 06:00 and I was up pretty quickly after that. I had the medication and then looked at the dictaphone.

And hello to Esi, who I don’t think has joined me in a nocturnal ramble before. I’d met her somewhere and we were heading for a train. We were talking about the trains and she was going to one place and I was going to another and we were walking around the outside of this car park. We suddenly came to an area which was fenced off and they were doing some brick rebuilding. I suddenly realised that I’d walked this way before and I couldn’t get out this way so we had to retrace our steps and go across this car park rather than around it. We ended up somewhere, she went and I ended up in a rom somewhere with my things. I was thinking “should I take my big camera? Should I take my small camera?”. In the end I decided on the big camera. My train was at a quarter past the hour. For some unknown reason I had in my mind all things like when I used to walk all the way across London to go to my hospital appointment which of course I don’t do, and all memories about other nocturnal voyages on which I have travelled before like that petrol station out in the countryside in London (… the BP one to the north-west …) that kind of thing. I was reminiscing on all of this and suddenly I looked at my watch and I had 15 minutes to get to the station. I thought “God I’d better get a run for my train won’t hang about long’. It took me a minute or two to get all of my things together and I wasn’t sure that I had everything. I had to climb out of this train because I realised that I was in a train. I had to climb out of this train and there were lots of people in my way dropping things off and someone had lost their suitcase locks and there were a couple about where I was and they picked up their locks. I was already to go and these guys were talking to me about all kinds of different things and I was getting ready to run back across this car park to the station but the train started to move but had to stop to give way to something. It was in my way and wouldn’t move and I couldn’t go behind it and I couldn’t go in front of it or behind it or underneath it and time as ticking away while I was waiting there to get on my way to move and it was all very very strange. It was like heading towards one of these panic attacks again
later I was back in the Brusselsestraat looking at that mannequin that I like, being used as a model for various childrens’ clothes, adjusting and cutting them. And if that makes any sense to anyone, please let me know.

martelarenplein station leuven belgium eric hallBreakfast next and then time to head for the hills

Around the ring road towards the station, and wasn’t it looking magnificent in the dark, all illuminated with the war memorial in the Martelarplein standing out so well?

It’s all fenced off now as they are constructing an underground bicycle park just there. Yes, bicycles are big business here in Leuven. The way the road system is and the issues about parking, it’s pretty pointless owning a car in the city.

train eupen station leuven belgium eric hallMy train was at 08:2 and I was in plenty of time for it

It pulled in bang on time too, but I couldn’t see which engine was propelling it because it was another one of the “pushme-pullyou” sets and it was running engine-last, something that always surprises me on a high-speed train.

These trains start out at Oostende and you would have expected there to be a run-round facility at an important station like that so that the locomotive could take its proper place at the head of the train.

tour des finances liege belgium eric hall“Never mind” I thought. I can photograph it when I alight at Liege Guillemins station. I have 12 minutes to wait for my express there. I don’t even have to move because the Frankfurt train comes in at the same platform as the Eupen train goes out.

But for once the Tour de Finances building in Liege is pretty much unobstructed and looking quite nice so while I was awaiting the Eupen train moving out, I went over and took a photo of the Tour de Finances.

So if you live in Liege and want to know where all of your money went, then there it is. I admit that it looks fantastic but it’s not exactly the best way of spending public money on an extravagant building like that.

ice deutsche bahn inter city liege guillemins belgium eric hallWhile I was waiting for the Eupen train to move, there was an announcement on the tannoy “passengers for the Deutsche Bahn ICE train to Frankfurt am Main, please note that your train will be departing from …” a different platform.

So we all had to scramble up the steps, across the walkway and down another set of steps and I never did get to take a photo of my train from Leuven as it was still in the station – somewhat delayed – as we pulled out.

So I’ve no idea what was the matter with that but whatever it was, I’m glad that it happened after I had alighted from it. It can do what it likes then. We were on our way.

Alison was waiting for me at the station but Jackie’s train wasn’t due to arrive for another half hour so we went for a coffee and a chat to catch up on the latest news.

citykirche st nikolaus aachen germany eric hallWhen Jackie turned up we went into the city centre to look for a coffee.

There’s a beautiful church there, the city church of St Nikolaus and just for a rare change today, it actually was open so we stuck our heads inside.

It’s nothing like how it was supposed to be in the interior, but subsequent investigation revealed that it had been the victim of a fire and a considerable amount of damage had been caused.

So that might explain everything then.

city burghers rathaus aachen germany eric hallWe eventually found a cafe that would serve us just a coffee – Sunday morning is a pretty sacred “brunch” day in Germany.

We had a good view over the square where there was something clearly going to be happening. People dressed in historical costume, sword fights, people walking around with falcons on their arms.

But as the crowds started to gather we decided that we would move on. It looked as if it was going to be a really lovely day so we planned to move on the Monschau in the hills.

monschau germany eric hallWe made it to Monschau but the good weather didn’t. It was overcast, misty and foggy here and that was a disappointment.

We found a place to park the car and then walked down the hill into town. Considering that it was mid-winter there were crowds of people about and roadworks that blocked the main street.

It wasn’t easy to navigate ourselves around and see what was going on down there today.

monschau germany eric hallThere’s a handbag shop in the town with a name that will delight almost any one with a warped sense of humour.

We went inside for a look around and Jackie struck lucky. The prices had been slashed to a figure that even I thought was a good deal and she found a handbag of a decent size that exactly matched a jacket that she owned. So that found its way out of the shop.

What caught my eye was a really nice leather-look backpack, small with plenty of pockets that would have been ideal for a lightweight camera bag, and at 9:99 too. And had it had a shoulder strap as well as the backpack straps I would have brought that home with me too.

Just what I needed.

hotel stern monschau germany eric hallBy now it was pretty well past lunchtime so we retraced our steps back through town to a place that we had seen earlier.

They had these flammenkucke pancake things on offer so the girls had one of those each. As for me, there was a beautiful fresh vegetable soup with bread and that was delicious. The vegetables were actually in proper chunks and it was really well done.

There was fresh hot ginger tea on offer too and a mug of that went down really well in the cold weather that we were having.

old cars trabant monschau germany eric hallBut my eye was diverted to what was outside the restaurant.

It’s a long time since we’ve seen a Trabant – one of the East German fibreboard cars that came flooding into the West after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and which vanished without trace almost as quickly as they appeared.

The ones that I see these days are mostly used for publicity purposes and this one here is no exception. It’s so full of knick-knacks that you couldn’t drive it anywhere even if you wanted to.

We dropped Jackie off back at the railway station in Aachen, and after another coffee, Alison and I headed home. We had another one of our really long chats on the way back and made some further plans.

But what will happen about them I really don’t know. It depends on the hospital visits and the radio commitments before I can actually decide on anything.

For tea I used up the rest of the food that was lying about and having written up my notes, I’m off to bed.

Tomorrow starts at 05:30, something to which I am not looking forward, so I need to be at my best.

Here’s hoping that all of the trains are running.

Monday 16th December 2019 – IT’S BEEN ANOTHER …

… one of those meetings up at the Centre Agora this morning. I’m not going to waste any of my time telling you about it because one of my former neighbours when I lived in Crewe had been to exactly the same kind of meeing once upon a time and he can tell the story far better than I ever could.

Mind you, I’m lucky that I actually got there at all. last night, unable to sleep it was well after 01:30 when I finally crawled into bed. And when the alarm went off at 06:00 (and again at 06:09 and 06:18) I wasn’t really in any kind of mood whatsoever to heave myself out of my stinking pit.

In fact I was all for turning over and going back to sleep but with the kind of willpower that I didn’t even realise that I had, I finally hauled myself out of bed at about 06:40.

After the medication, I sat down and extracted the files off the portable laptop and copied them onto the big desktop machine. And by now, as the medication had worked, I went for breakfast.

Once breakfast was done and dusted I sat down and began to transcribe the dictaphone notes for the period while I was away. There was even a dictaphone file from through the night. I was doing some stuff for the radio, doing all kinds of soundbites and sound clips and doing over a text – the whole idea of this sound thing was that I could cut bits out and paste them in over other bits so I could use the same bit of vocal recording for week after week after week but somehow it just wasn’t working out for some particular reason, but that’s hardly a surprise, is is?

Anyway, despite my eagerness to deal with the dictaphone notes, I broke off for a shower and noticing that my hair was starting to look as rough as I was feeling, I gave it a going-over with the sheep-shearer.

Back at my desk I carried on, only to notice that the time was suddenly 09:45. Where did the morning go? And I have to be at the Centre Agora in 15 minutes and it’s a 4 kilometre walk.

Even though it was raining fairly heavily I refused to go in Caliburn because now that I’m managing to hold off my illness and even fight back to some extent, I want to keep on fighting the good fight as long as I can.

dismantling installations repairing city walls Boulevard des 2E et 202E de Ligne granville manche normandy franceAnd so I walked.

And I’m glad that I did because there was quite a lot going on here and there today. For a start, it looks as if they might be pretty close to finishing the repairs to the medieval city walls at the Boulevard des 2E et 202E de Ligne. They have dismantled all of the scaffolding and are removing the material.

It’s been a long job and while I can’t remember how long exactly, it certainly seems to be well over time.

cherry picker Rue du Commandant Yvon rue couraye granville manche normandy franceDown into town and into the rue Couraye, where I noticed that the Rue du Commandant Yvon was blocked off and there was a cherry picker in the way.

In the nacelle of the cherry picker was a guy wielding a huge SDS-type power drill busy bashing his way into the side wall of the building here. No idea what he was doing, so I’ll have to go down there in a day or so and see what he’s been up to.

But wielding an electric power tool in the rain like this is not something that I would do too often.

polar bear rue st nicolas granville manche normandy franceIt was 10:30 when I arrived at the Centre Agora but before I went in to the building I stopped in the rue St Nicolas outside the shops there too look at the Christmas decorations.

We’d seen a couple of inflatable polar bears in Paris yesterday but here’s a wooden one outside the shops. Or maybe it’s supposed to be three, I dunno. But whatever it is, it’s having a good nibble at the Christmas Tree here, which is of course highly unlikely.

At that point I went into the meeting and we had the performance about which Mr Bates told you just now.

Once it was done, I walked off (the rain had eased somewhat) to LIDL and did some shopping. Supplies are running quite low here with me not having been to the shops neither on Thursday nor Saturday.

Quite an expensive shop it was too, seeing as supplies were quite low. But some of the money was spent on a new pair of tactile gloves which they had on offer and which I need for photography purposes seeing that mine are in the pocket of my jacket that’s hanging up on a hanger in a hotel room in Calgary.

Some more money was spent on a new pack of 4 rechargeable AAA batteries. I have dozens here of course but many are over 10 years old and are starting to become rather flaky. The new ones ( I have three sets now all told) will come with me on my travels and the older ones will be used for powering up the equipment in here where they can be changed over rapidly and easily.

On the way back down the hill I called at La Mie Caline for my dejeunette and then came back up the hill to home.

bad parking rue des juifs granville manche normandy franceNot quite at a gallop because I was loaded up with stuff like carrots and pears and 3kg of apples that were on special offer.

And I do admit to taking a little break on my climb as I stopped, mouth wide open in astonishment, as I watched what can best be described as the worst piece of bad parking that I have ever seen. And, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, we’ve seen some pretty bad ones on our travels

Yes, this one beats the lot to date.

rue des juifs granville manche normandy franceHere’s some woman in a car unloading her shopping. There’s an empty car parking place right outside her house, and two other empty places 20 metres higher up the street. So what does our heroine do?

She parks across the road right outside her hose, blocking the pavement off to pedestrians, even though there’s an empty parking place less than 5 metres away from where she’s stopped.

What makes it even worse is that this is a bus route and service buses come up here. But don’t let that trouble madam here. She’ll far rather inconvenience the whole world given half a chance rather than walk 15 feet with a shopping bag.

fishing boat towing pontoon baie de mont st michel port de granville harbour manche normandy franceThe bad weather wasn’t preventing the fishermen from going out about their business.

Here’s one of the fishing boats heading out into the rough seas of the Baie de Mont St Michel. And the seas will be rougher where he’ll be going too, so he’ll have his work cut out with towing a pontoon or lighter out there behind him. I hope that the cable is strong enough.

Outside the building I fell in with Brigitte and we had a very lengthy chat. She was impressed with my Traversée de Paris yesterday (was it only yesterday?) but we had to break off our chat as the rain came hammering down again. But she did say that she will be requiring Terry’s services again in the New Year. She has more work that needs doing.

After lunch, I had some work to do. Jackie is going for her Official Translator’s exam very shortly and needed her trial pieces proof-reading. Of course, if anyone wants any poof-reading, tpying or speling checked, then in the words of the late, great Bob Doney, “I’m your man”.

Once that was out of the way I had other work to do. We’d been told today that the radio programme that we recorded with Heidinnguaq Jensen and her friends was being broadcast on Tuesday evening (that’s a lot of notice, isn’t it?) and we will be fitting in some of the Nive Nielsen stuff too if there’s time.

That meant telling Heidinnguaq of course, and also everyone else who knew her and Nive. And so I had to extract about 400 names and e-mail addresses from a spreadsheet and prepare a text file address list. I know that I should have done this ages ago but you’ve seen how much work I have on hand and that’s not the half of it.

Copy-pasting one by one is clearly impractical and there HAS to be a way of doing it in bulk. It’s one thing that I’ve not done before so it took quite a bit of trial – and more than a little error – to get it to work.

And eventually I was able to make a start sending out the invitations. And as you might expect, the e-mail server crashed in mid-send and so I had to do some of them again. So if anyone had the same e-mail twice then I’m sorry about that but I had to guess where the break-off point was and I’d rather over-estimate than under-estimate.

In mid-afternoon I broke off for my usual perambulation around the promontory only to find that there was no battery in the camera. The warning light had started to flash earlier so I had put it on charge – and then forgotten. Like I’ve said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … Two things happen when you get to my age

  • Firstly, you forget absolutely everything
  • Secondly, I can’t remember what the second thing is

But I do remember that the rain started up yet again while I was out so I didn’t hang about for long.

Tea was a burger with pasta and veg and then my evening walk. It was teeming down outside so I wasn’t intending to be out long but by the time I’d turned for home on a dramatically shortened route I was so wet … “nothing new here” – ed … that I may as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb and went for a longer walk which included a couple of hundred metres of running. Must get back into shape.

trawler entering port de granville harbour manche normandy franceDespite the rain, I stayed out long enough to watch this trawler come into harbour.

The photo came out really nicely given the conditions, except for the lamp-post that somehow managed to fit itsself into the image. It was so dark out there that I hadn’t seen it

A few other things happened today that I ought to mention.

Firstly, there’s a “live broadcast” on Saturday night, the first that the radio station has attempted. Last Monday I mentioned that I was free on that evening but no-one took me up on the offer. Anyway, I mentioned it again and ditto.

So this afternoon I received a circular mail to the effect that “we’re having a meeting on Friday evening to discuss what we’re doing on Saturday”.
I wrote back “I assume that you won’t be needing me to attend seeing as I mentioned twice that I was free but no-one took up the offer of my availability”
Only to receive a hasty reply “of course we need you to help out and we’re looking forward to seeing you …”
But, we shall see.

Secondly, this “interview” that we are going to do with this musician on Wednesday. Apparently everyone can bring his wife, we’ll eat, we’ll sit round a table and talk, we’ll have music …. ”

What the heck is this all about?

  1. 20 questions typed out in French
  2. I ask them in English (not recorded, of course)
  3. The guy replies (in English)
  4. I overdub them in French with a nice British accent
  5. Then someone asks the questions in French, to no-one in particular but we record them
  6. We splice it all together

All done and dusted in half an hour and we all go home. I don’t have many hours left and I have so much to do and I won’t ever get these hours back that are being wasted.

Three times I’ve been dragged out halfway across Normandy to prepare for this blasted interview and nothing has been accomplished! Some people might have nothing better to do but I certainly have!

And that reminds me

That’s the last of my obligations dealt with now with this proof-reading. Tomorrow I can start with my own list of arrears.

  1. finish transcribing the dictaphone notes
  2. finish the blog entry for Saturday 10 days ago
  3. deal with the photos from Sunday last week onwards
  4. do another radio project (now I’m 3 weeks ahead I’m going to stay 3 weeks ahead)
  5. deal with all of the photos from when I was all at sea … “quite” – ed … for four months this year and from my nautical adventures last year too
  6. start to play the guitars again (which I haven’t touched for two weeks
  7. carry on searching for digital files for the vinyl and tapes that I have collected over the last 50 years

And that’s just the urgent stuff. There’s tons more going back to 2007 that needs to be dealt with although when I’m likely ever to get round to dealing with any of that given the rate that I’m currently dealing with things I don’t really have a clue.

So to start with, I’m going to try for an early night. There is nothing arranged for tomorrow so with luck I can sit down and have a really good crack at things here.

“Nothing arranged for tomorrow”. Yes, you just watch some basket come along and spoil that!

Saturday 30th November 2019 – THINGS ARE …

industrial vegan bread rolls leclerc hypermarket granville manche normandy france… looking up here in Granville. And not before time either, I have to say.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that the other day I posted a photo of a vegan meal on offer at the local take-out bakery. Admittedly that’s a specialty local baker who cooks on the premised, but today I can post a photo of some industrial vegan bread on sale in the LeClerc hypermarket.

How about that for progress?

We’ve had a little progress here today too. I heard both the first and second alarms go off and then began to drift off into the arms of Morpheus again (hardly a surprise seeing as it was 01:30 when I went to bed and it was now about 06:10)

Anyway, I snatched myself out of it in a desperate attempt to beat the third alarm, only to find that it was in fact just 06:14 – still 6 minutes to go. In fact, by the time the alarm went off I was having my medication.

At about 09:10 I hit the streets today but before that I’d had breakfast, had a shower and done some dictaphone notes.

But outside I headed for LIDL. And although I didn’t spend too much, I did pick up a clothes airer, the type that hangs over a radiator. It’s not very big and doesn’t take too many clothes, but at least it’s an improvement on hanging it all in the bedroom window in this weather.

And that reminds me – I did a machine-load of washing while I was out.

Noz was next, and there was nothing of any great interest there. I only spent 4-odd Euros. But they did have some rubbish knitwear in a bin at €0:99 and I found a woolly hat … “to go on your woolly head” – ed … that was just about my size. And that’s important seeing as mine is in the pocket of the jacket that is hanging up in a hotel in Calgary.

Dodging the gilets jaunes who were out if force today – about a dozen of them – I headed for LeClerc.

industrial vegan brioche leclerc hypermarket granville manche normandy franceWe’ve seen one lot of vegan industrial bakery and here’s a second. It’s actually a brioche – that which Marie-Antoinette told the peasants to eat when they said that they had no bread.

It’s perfectly true by the way that this isn’t the first lot of vegan industrial bread at LeClerc. A year or so ago we had vegan croissants and vegan pains au chocolat but all of that was somewhat ephemeral. I hope that they stick around this time.

Once more, I didn’t spend much money here although I did buy some fresh ginger. Jackie has given me her recipe for a cold lemon and ginger drink and I’m determined to try it.

bad parking leclerc hypermarket granville manche normandy franceOne thing that features quite often in these pages is the subject of pathetic parking, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall.

And it doesn’t get more pathetic than this. A huge car park that can probably accommodate a couple of thousand vehicles, and this guy parks in the access road right outside the front door.

The access road is pretty narrow there and it’s right by one of the three doors out of the hypermarket, so it’s obstructing the pedestrian access too.

That wasn’t all either. Final stop was at BUT. I’d had a voucher for €50 off for this weekend in view of the purchases I made there a while ago. And as my office chair has now officially collapsed, I went to see what they had.

So now in the back of Caliburn is a replacement chair which will be installed in here tomorrow. I hope that it’s as comfortable as the demonstration one was.

wedding public rooms granville manche normandy franceWhile I was having lunch I heard a commotion out at the back.

My living room overlooks the Public Rooms and they are quite often hired out for activities. Today it looks as if we are having a wedding out there.

So here we are then, complete with confetti. And I hope that they will be very happy together.

After lunch I did a few more dictaphone entries and by the time that I had lost interest, I’d reduced the number to just 38. A good week on those should hopefully see them off and then I’ll start on my photos for the four months that I was away this summer.

But having lost interest, I remembered that I had some washing to put out and also some food to put away. And now the freezer is officially full again. Nothing else will go in there at all.

Some tidying up too, and a play around on the new guitar. And I’ve decided that it’s really good. I’m quite enjoying it.

christmas lights house illuminated route de villedieu granville manche normandy franceA quick glance at the clock showed me that it was 17:10. I shouldn’t be here because US Granville are at home against FC Lorient.

Back out on foot and I stormed through the crowds and right across town to the ground. On the way though I stopped to photograph this house in the Route de Villedieu.

It seems that Christmas is coming early for some people.

At the ground, some more exciting news. US Granville are away at some team in Brittany next Saturday night and the club has laid on a free bus for the supporters.

There was a free place too, but there isn’t now! I’m going to have a day out!

us granvillais fc lorient stade louis dior granville manche normandy franceAs for the match itself, it was another one of those rather aimless games where Granville had no shape and no plan either, relying on breakaways out of a congested midfield.

It almost worked too, but they had an early goal disallowed for offside and also a very dubious offside give against a forward who was nowhere near interfering with play.

Lorient took the lead late in the game and never really looked like conceding it. Top of the table they are, and they deserved the win.

But there were some bizarre substitutions out there. Most of Lorient’s good work was coming down the left wing from a combination of left-back and left midfielder. So both of them were substituted, and I’m still wondering why.

Granville were no better than this. They have a forward who doesn’t look as if he does much but he always sticks a foot out and score a goal at a crucial moment. But they took him off and replaced him with someone who hasn’t done very much at all.

And they have a forward whose energy and keenness is unmatched. He was kept on the bench until it was far too late for him to be doing any good.

By the time we left it was raining heavily so I didn’t hang about on the way home – even running up part of the steep hill to reach the apartment.

And tea was out of a tin too, as is usual on a Saturday when i’ve been footballing.

But now I’m off to bed. i’m really tired (no surprise) and looking forward to my lie-in. And I wonder if those two people who buttonholed me in the street did manage to fond an open pizzeria.

Sunday 17th November 2019 – REMEMBER LAST NIGHT …

christmas lights town hall grote markt leuven belgium… when I said that I had planned to go out and take a photo of the Grote Markt and all of the buildings lit up for Christmas, and how I forgot to take my camera with me when I went out?

Tonight, I didn’t forget. And in fact I made a special journey to go out and look at the town hall in the dark and show you how it was looking.

And unfortunately it’s not as spectacular as it has been in previous years. There’s no creche and the lights that illuminate the windows are not changing colour.

fourth hotel restaurant grote markt leuven belgiumThe Fourth Hotel or Restaurant or whatever it is, while always looking spectacular at night, hasn’t been dressed up at all for Christmas.

Still, I suppose that it it early days as yet and there’s plenty of time to organise things ready for Christmas.

And in any case I would only be complaining if it were done too early so I can’t have everything my way. I’ll see what has happened by the time I come back here in four weeks time.

A late night last night but I wasn’t unduly worried. I set the alarm for 0:00 and beat it easily, being up and about by 07:30. Plenty of time to go for a ramble too during the night and when I’ve transcribed the dictaphone notes I’ll tell you all about it – where I went and with whom I was.

Seeing as I had plenty of time I had a quick shower and organised things ready for when jackie came down for brekfast. I’d explained her the Belgian tradition about couques on Sunday morning, so she had been to the boulangerie around the corner and come back armed with a pain au chocolat and a chocolate eclair.

“Well, I am on holiday” she explained.

We breakfasted together and had a good chat, mainly about her job, and then went round the corner to meet Alison. She took us to the mini-Carrefour where the girls stocked up with more chocolate and then into Tervueren.

man woman dog sitting by brazier tervueren belgiumOur destination was to meet her friend Theresa and go for a walk around the park, but we were somewhat waylaid by the sight of this couple here and their dog.

Sitting around at the bottom of the bicycle ramp with a lit brazier to keep them warm in the winter wind.

It was certainly novel, and quite ironic seeing as we had just been explaining to Jackie not two minutes beforehand about the somewhat strange behaviour of some of the Belgians and their profound sense of the absurd.

ducks geese parc de tervuerense park tervueren belgiumWaiting for Theresa, we sat on a park bench and the girls opened one of the bars of chocolate that they had bought.

Of course, that brought the crowds rushing in towards us. Not humans, although of course there were plenty of them about, but also the wildlife, to see what titbits were on offer.

We had nothing for them, as you might expect, but it didn’t stop them coming over to investigate us.

scouts parc de tervuerense park tervueren belgium“Crowds of people” I said. And I wasn’t wrong either.

As well as the civilians, of which there were more than enough, there were whole troops and packs of Hitler Yout … errrr … Boy Scouts and Girl Guides out there – presumably rubbing each other together to try to start a fire or something.

It’s the usual thing, Scouts on Sunday morning all over Belgium, tying each other in knots and playing with each other’s woggles.

autumn colours parc de tervuerense park tervueren belgiumAnd who can blame the crowds for being out there today?

Despite being windy and cold, it really was a glorious morning out there in the sunshine.

And the autumn colours were glorious too. Not a patch on the colours that you see in Canada of course – nothing whatever can equal that – but nevertheless for Europe it was pretty spectacular.

Koninklijk Museum voor Midden-Afrika Royal museum for central africa parc de tervuerense park tervueren belgiumThe Tervuerense Park is actually the gardens of the Koninklijk Museum voor Midden-Afrika – The Royal Museum for Central Africa.

Formerly the symbol of Belgian colonialism and exploitation of the natives of the Congo, it had been closed for a good number of years while it underwent a make-over.

It’s supposed now to “have a different focus” but whatever that might be remains to be seen. One day I might be lucky and find it open when I’m at a loose end.

cafe parc de tervuerense park tervueren belgiumThere is an old mill on the far side of the Vossemvijfer, the lake at the far end of the park.

That’s now been turned into a cafe so now that Theresa had caught us up we headed that way for a coffee.

There was a handy table free in a quiet corner of the upstairs room so we grabbed that and had a chat and drank our coffee while the girls finished off the chocolate.

All very convivial.

qatar airlines plane coming in to land zaventem belbiumBut soon enough we had to leave so that Jackie could catch her train back to Cologne.

On the way back to Leuven we drove down the side of the flight path for planes coming in to land at Brussels National Airport at Zaventem, and I was rewarded by the sight of this Qatar Airlines plane disappearing into the trees.

Jackie organised herself a sandwich and boarded her train back, and Alison brought me back here where we had a really good chat for an hour or so about different things.

pope leo 13 seminary chapel leuven belgiumIt suddenly occurred to me that I hadn’t had lunch so I headed off to find a bakery.

My route took me past the Pope Leo XIII Seminary Chapel, and I noticed the Flemish lion on the roof – something that had escaped my attention befofe.

So equipping myself with a demi-baguette and a tomato I came back here and made myself a tomato and vegan cheese butty.

Shame as it is to admit it, I had a little crash out and then caught up with a few other things.

For tea, even though it’s Sunday and I had some vegan cheese, I eschewed my pizza and finished off the burger and potatoes with some of the frozen vegetables, followed by the last of the fruit salad and raspberry sorbet.

That was my cue for my evening’s perambulation, and I’m being a bit of a wuss today. Having managed 194% of my daily activity and 16.8 kilometres yesterday, today I’ve done a mere 137% – or 11.1 kms. Clerly slipping, aren’t I?

An early night now because I’m up early tomorrow and going home. I wonder what delights are awaiting me there.

house parc de tervuerense park tervueren belgium
house parc de tervuerense park tervueren belgium

view from house vossemvijfer parc de tervuerense park tervueren belgium
view from house vossemvijfer parc de tervuerense park tervueren belgium

vossemvijfer parc de tervuerense park tervueren belgium
vossemvijfer parc de tervuerense park tervueren belgium

vossemvijfer parc de tervuerense park tervueren belgium
vossemvijfer parc de tervuerense park tervueren belgium

vossemvijfer parc de tervuerense park tervueren belgium
vossemvijfer parc de tervuerense park tervueren belgium

Saturday 16th November 2019 – I’VE HAD A …

… nice day today in the company of some very pleasant people. As I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … I don’t have too many friends, but those I have are the best in the world.

Last night was something of a late night. But with having set the alarm to a much more realistic 08:30 I wasn’t all that concerned.

Plenty of time to go on a little voyage or two and having been joined on a few nocturnal rambles over the past few nights by some pretty bizarre characters from my distant past, last night was probably the most bizarre of all to date. Mandy Crane was there last night, and that was a surprise wasn’t it, after something like 45 years since I last wasted a moment thinking about her, and we were talking about something – I dunno. It occurred to me that she had been round to see me quite a lot and I was wondering whether she was waiting for me to make some kind of advances to her. But on one occasion when I turned my back to her she put her arms around me and we started to chat. But it became pretty weird and even in my dream I was thinking that I couldn’t imagine why she would come around at this stage
And later on I was back in my pawn shop last night. There were three people, two brothers and a woman, who ran it. Each had their own special area of management control of the situation and I was going through who did what (the woman was the admin person and I can’t now remember what the speciality of each brother was) and all the files of the people had different coloured tags (like Government “BF tags”) to tell them what the arrangements were, about people, why people were involved in this particular pawn shop – one colour of tag for this, one colour of tag for that – but before I got too far into this dream I awoke.

That was at about 06:09 but no danger of my leaving my stinking pit at that time. I turned over and went back to sleep until about 0:30. That’s more like it so I left the bed just in time to beat the alarm.

After medication I had a few things to do to keep me out of mischief so just for a change I applied myself to them.

town tourist train leuven belgiumAt about 11:15 I left my room and headed up to the railway station, thinking to myself that I remembered that I had somehow managed to forget to have breakfast this morning.

So engrossed was I in this thought that I was nearly squidged by the town’s little tourist train as I crossed the road. And I do have to say that I don’t remember having seen this before.

That’s another job for me then – to sift through my photos to see whether it’s featured before.

Jackie’s train was bang on time and it was nice to see her after all this time. Alison hadn’t made it to the station so I sent here a message to say where we were and we went to the cafe over the road to wait.

With no reply from her, I rang her up, to find that she hadn’t received it (she received it about an hour later) so we headed off into town to meet up.

First stop was the wool shop. Alison is a knitter and so is Jackie, so they spent a good while browsing through the products on offer there. Nerina was a knitter to so I’m quite used to this sort of behaviour. It’s nothing new to me at all.

Lunch was next and, seeing as we are in Belgium, a fritkot was an obvious choice. We headed to the Ali Baba around the corner and while they tucked into a meal I had a plate of fritjes with looksaus.

We were in there for hours chatting about all sorts of things and then we headed off for some fresh air.

It was for about a year or so that I lived in Leuven and I’d walked for miles around the city, so I thought that I knew it pretty well.

hollands college pater damiaanplein leuven belgiumBut that’s not the case at all because Alison took us around some areas that I didn’t know at all, like past the Father Damiaanplein (he of the lepers whom we have encountered before) with the Hollands College down at the bottom.

That’s an interesting building, dating from the 17th Century for theology students from the diocese of Haarlem in the Netherlands.

Long-since abandoned, the University took it over in 2008 and since 2011 there has been some kind of project of restoration with the aim of returning the building to its former glory.

bridge river dijle dijlepark leuven belgiumThere’s a little park – the Diljepark – just past there. Something else that I didn’t know.

It follows, as you might expect with a name like that, the River Dilje out of town. And one of the attractions was this little Japanese-style bridge over the river just here.

Unfortunately it didn’t look as if it’s in use. Or maybe fortunately because as far as anger management issues go, they have the same effect on me as do ferries. Whenever I see one it always makes me cross.

beguinage begijnhof leuven belgiumOne thing for which Leuven is very well-known is its Begijnhof – the Beguinage.

The great issue with Medieval life was the number of widows and single women. While childbirth affected quite dramatically the number of women, the incessant warfare of the period and industrial accidents had an even greater effect on the male population.

A great many women were thus left for one reason or another without a protector and the church was mainly responsible for this role.

beguinage begijnhof leuven belgiumIn Medieval Flanders I can’t thing of a single important religious city that didn’t have its Beguinage and Leuven is certainly no exception.

And so magnificent is the Begijnhof here in the city
that in 1998 it was recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage site.

Mind you, it wasn’t always like this. For a long while it was occupied as a sort-of social housing complex and there was never the money available to do anything with it.

river dilje beguinage begijnhof leuven belgiumBy the 1960s it was in a deplorable condition and so it was sold off.

The University bought it and spent a great deal of time, effort and money restoring it to its present glory. It’s now occupied as student and academic staff accommodation which is a waste because I’m certain that I wouldn’t mind a little apartment there.

It’s another place that I had never visited during my stay here.

We walked back into town and to another modern square that I had never visited. There’s a second-hand clothes shop there that the girls visited (nd Jackie bought a handbag) and a decent cafe where we went for a drink.

christmas lights mechelsestraat leuven belgiumLater on we walked back across the centre of town so that Jackie could catch her bus.

As we were passing by the end of the Mechelsestraat where I was yesterday, I happened to notice in the dark that they now seem to have switched on the Christmas lights.

“Surely it’s a bit early for that” I mused to myself. Christmas is still about 6 weeks away.

brass band the fourth grotemarkt leuven belgiumBut apparently not because in the Grote Markt we had a brass band going on, playing all kinds of Christmas music.

And the Town Hall was all lit up too. I would have taken a photo of that but the night wasn’t yet as dark as I would like it to be.

I made a mental note that when I come back later I will bring the big Nikon back with me. After all, I’d bought it with the express purpose of using it for night photography.

Back at the apartment building Jackie checked herself into her room and then we had a coffee and a chat. At 19:15 we headed back into town to meet up again with Alison.

And it was then that I realised that I had forgotten the camera.

The girls fancied an ice-cream, but all of the ice-cream parlours were closed.

Never mind. Seeing as we are in Belgium, a Belgian waffle would do them just as well. But as we got to the Belgian waffle stall, he closed up his equipment.

In the end we found a cafe that did crepes and waffles and they contented themselves with that. I had yet another portion of fritjes. Extravagant, you might think, but those two portions of chips are all that I have eaten today.

The coffee bar at Kloosters Hotel was next, but someone had pinched our usual spec by the fire so we had to sit elsewhere. We set out to solve all of the problems of the world as we normally do, but suddenly Alison noticed that it was gone 23:00 and she was in danger of turning into a pumpkin.

That was the cue for us to head back to our various destinations. Alison walked off to her car and Jackie and I came back here. Not an early night – not by any means – but quite an enjoyable one in good company.

I hope we have such a good time tomorrow.

Tuesday 22nd October 2019 – HATS OFF …

… to Caliburn. Stood outside on the car park for four months without turning a wheel while I was on my travels. So I gave his ignition key a turn this morning and admittedly after something of a struggle, his engine did fire up.

So I left him ticking over for 10 minutes to warm his engine up. I’m impressed.

The bad news though is that the garage can’t fit him in until the 5th of November and that’s filled me with dismay.

But hats off too to Grahame, one of the regular readers of this rubbish, who has just passed his citizenship test for Austria and is well on the way to having an Austrian passport.

So that’s Alison in Belgium, Jackie and Hanzi in Germany, Rhys in the USA, Rachel in Canada, and I of course have my permanent residency status for France and will be organising my French nationality once I get myself straight. Now we have Grahame in Austria.

What we are actually witnessing is a new 21st Century diaspora, an “involuntary mass dispersion of a population from its indigenous territories” as those of us from the UK who are capable of doing so are renouncing our heritage and moving forward to the Brave New World.

Usually, diasporas are associated with an unwanted element of the population, such as Scottish Highlanders, Acadians, Jews and the like being expelled from their home. But this new phenomenon consists of a different kind of person, something like the inverse where it’s the more mobile, more resourceful, more energetic person who is taking the initiative.

And these people are spreading out all over the world, as you can see from just my very small circle of friends. They are taking their considerable skills away from the UK, to the detriment of that country, and into their adopted country. The UK’s loss, the rest of the world’s gain.

And I couldn’t care less for the UK.

Yesterday I was going on … “and on and on” – ed … about my fourteen hours asleep yesterday. And so it goes without saying that I would be paying for it in early course.

Like last night.

I was in bed “something like” and dozed off for a short while but awoke pretty quickly. Lying in bed tossing and turning, this wasn’t doing me any good at all so round by 01:30 I gave it up as a bad job and hauled myself out of bed to carry on working.

It was a good idea too, because I was able to push on quite rapidly with the updating of the one of the websites that I had mentioned yesterday.

As well as that, I uploaded all of the photos – all 4,000 or so of them, up to the computer where I’ll begin to edit them in early course.

One of my friends was on line too, unable to sleep, so we had something of a chat.

Round about 06:30 I was overcome by fatigue so I took to my bed. I was out like a light and remained so until about 09:30.

Feeling like the Wreck of the Hesperus (although I have no idea where I might find it, except at Norman’s Woe of course) I staggered out of bed and it took me a while to organise myself.

Medication and then breakfast of course, followed by (at long last) a shower and a good tidy up of myself, for which I was extremely grateful because I needed it, and then I set the washing machine on the go with a load of clothes.

And I worked out that I spent FOUR MONTHS away from home with just

  • three tee-shirts
  • three sets of underwear
  • two pairs of trousers
  • two fleeces
  • one set of Arctic underlayers

Travellig light, you might say, except for Strawberry Moose, who took up far more space for himself and his affairs than I ever took for me.

As promised, I took my morning walk. Just down to the Super-U supermarket for some tomatoes, lettuce, fruit, onions and garlic. It was necessary because I didn’t have anything in the apartment, and it gave my morning walk some point.

It was a beautiful day today so I went and had lunch sitting on my wall overlooking the cliffs. The sunshine was delicious and there was a lizard out there enjoying itself.

This afternoon, I paid for my next year’s web hosting
which reminds me – if you enjoy what I write, please make your next Amazon purchase by using the links aside. It costs you no extra but earns me a small commission that helps defray my webhosting expenses
and then ordered a new bracelet for my fitbit. And that wasn’t as easy as it might have been either.

Another thing that I did was to contact three music shops about something that I need. And, once again, as yet there is no response from any of them. As I have said before, people complain about there being a recession and yet they don’t have too much interest in replying to genuine business enquiries.

All this money that I want to spend and no-one seems to want me to spend it with them.

The afternoon walk was beautiful. The weather was gorgeous and there were crowds of people milling around outside in the sun. Even a few kids running in and out of the sea, clearly having loads of fun. After all, we are in the school holidays.

Back here, I carried on upgrading the site that I’m working on, as well as negotiating with my web host about an upgrade to the server that he uses. It looks as if we might be moving into the 21st Century, something that will please me greatly too.

And in between all of that I’ve also spent an hour or so playing on the guitar – the bass of course but mainly the acoustic six-string. And I’m working on three numbers that I want to play competently on a six-string within a week or so.

But these are beautiful lyrics.
She’s got a smile that it seems to me
Reminds me of childhood memories
Where everything
Was as fresh as the bright blue sky

Now and then when I see her face
It takes me away to that special place
And if I stared too long
I’d probably break down and cry

Sweet child o’ mine

She’s got eyes of the bluest skies
As if they thought of rain
I’d hate to look into those eyes
And see an ounce of pain

Her hair reminds me of a warm safe place
Where as a child I’d hide
And pray for the thunder and the rain
To quietly pass me by

Sweet child o’ mine
I wonder if they remind anyone of anything in particular?

Tea was pasta and vegetables tossed in olive oil, garlic and black pepper (and I forgot the sea salt) and delicious it was indeed. Followed by a very lonely walk around the headland in the calm bright night.

Bedtime now, and I hope that I might be able to sleep for a while tonight. There is so much to do and there I was looking for a break after my exertions.

Saturday 4th May 2019 – WONDERS WILL NEVER CEASE!

stade briochin us granvillaise stade louis dior granville manche normandy franceUS Granvillaise have not been playing so well just recently, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall. And tonight, they were playing Stade Briochin, the league leaders, who were in yellow.

And I could see all of this ending in tears.

But to the surprise of everyone in the ground, and probably the players too, Granville actually won. 2-1 it was too.

They scored first with a penalty – a carbon copy of the goal the other week. The little n°10 wiggled his way into the penalty area, going nowhere and inviting a foul challenge.

And the opposition defence duly obliged.

Mind you, Stade Briochin equalised 2 minutes later – another penalty from a rather soft and accidental handball in the area.

Granville scored a second goal about 5 minutes into the second half with a beautiful flowing goal, and then hung on for the rest of the match.

We had no less than 6 minutes of injury time at the end of the match and I’ve no idea at all where all of that came from.

supporters stade briochin us granvillaise stade louis dior granville manche normandy franceStade Briochin, whose supporters turned out in numbers, complete with flags and drums, can count themselves unlucky in this game because they were the better team, but we were treated to a goalkeeping masterclass by the Granville keeper Florian Verplanck.

He’s a player who has impressed me right from the start of the season, and what he’s doing keeping goal at this level I really don’t know, and today he played the best that I have ever seen.

He made several brilliant saves at crucial moments, and even managed to get his hands to the penalty. The only time that Stade Briochin got past him, there was a defender present to clear off the line.

And Granville had their moments too. They had a couple of excellent chances too. One that will stay in my mind for a long time was the quick, long throw-in from the n°2, a back-header from the n°9 and a beautiful shot on the half-volley from about twenty-five yards out that screamed into the area, grazing the crossbar on its way out for a goal kick.

Last night was another depressing night. I had my early night and went off to sleep, but I kept on waking up throughout the night.

Plenty of time to go on a ramble though. And more than one too.

I’m not sure about what happened first though. It was something to do with 3D modelling or something like that. I’d found a modelling site that I had wanted to use but I couldn’t get access to it. There was something about the minimum order being £10:00 or something like this or whether this was the minimum payment sent to someone. It ended up with me meeting a guy who didn’t really correspond to what I had in mind to do. I wanted something more aggressive than he had. He tried then to provoke me into a fight so in the end I hit him. he went down and I thought “that’s not what I want, is it?”. I don’t know where it went after that.
A little later on I was with a group of young girls. They had already had a telling-off about overplaying to the customers and there they were again on another occasion. One of the girls came round to see me again – it was A and we were talking, saying that they had to calm down their act now and can’t go any further with it and be very careful not to go inciting the customers. I made a joke that “you can incite me any time you like. It’s nice to have that week in every two where it’s nice to have something going it – it makes like much more interesting”. I thought about the time where I’d found that bag or file with about 12 different identities in it and how I had to apply for them. I found that pretty boring but at east this idea with the girls doing their dancing etc makes it extremely interesting for those who have to wait. Like the houses in Chestnut Avenue in Shavington where house sales were such that it was taking 11 months to sell a house and move away and I’m sure that in that particular time these girls would entertain people waiting, one week in every two like they might be doing if we were lucky.
Later still I was with an old school-friend (but it wasn’t him, it was a former friend from another time) and a lady of my acquaintance last night and we’d been going for a good walk around somewhere that gave me the impression that it was somewhere in Germany but she had to wander off somewhere. She got on the bus and we carried on walking. We walked down this suburban road past a big pub and took a turning off to the left onto some kind of new industrial estate. There was a Social Club called the 5MM there so we had a look inside. Then my phone rang and the ring tone distubed everyone so they threw us out. It was our ladyfriend, saying she’d finished and where should we meet? I described where we were – the Social Club, a Hotel also with 5MM in white and blue on it, shops and things and a café and this lady (and I called her another name at the time, no idea why) knew it, but said that it was miles out. I asked this old school-friend/former friend character what we should do, where should we meet up? He replied something along the lines of “well she can get here, can’t she? It won’t take her all that long”. I suggested that to the lady and she replied “that’s miles!” I asked the old school-friend if there was anywhere in between where we could meet. He was rather offhand about it so I passed him the phone and told him to arrange a meeting place with her. He basically told her to come here in rather a brusque tone. She turned up (quicker than I would have expected) and she was really annoyed, shouting at my friend “don’t you know any North German people you could be nice to?”

Just for a change I was up before the final alarm, and organised fairly quickly too. And in the shower as well having a really good scrub ready for the weekend.

All of this led to an early start. I was out in the rainstorm before 09:00 and in LIDL early. There was nothing of any excitement there although I did spend some money there – Supplies are running rather low.

Next stop was, surprisingly, At Espace Auto in the rue de la Fontaine Jolie. Calburn’s Controle Technique is up at the end of the month so I needed to make an appointment for him to have a service and a check-over.

vegan coconut sorbet noz granville manche normandy franceLeclerc had nothing exciting, and neither did NOZ, except for some vegan coconut sorbet – half a litre for €0:99!

I’m not expecting very much from this, but at that price I’m quite willing to risk it to see how it turns out.

Anyway, at least it will be different. I’ll be making an apple pie tomorrow so when I’ve finished the soya cream that’s open I’ll give it a try and see what it’s like.

Back here I put everything away and then, quite an important task -I made some more muesli. I’m running out and I can’t be doing without that.

Into the bedroom afterwards and there I made a start on the dictaphone notes. Another huge pile disappeared and there are only 150 left. But it might be slow for a few days – there was a gap in my blog entries while I was underneath the knife, but it didn’t stop me making notes on the dictaphone.

After lunch I carried on with the dictaphone notes but unfortunately I couldn’t keep going and ended up asleep on the chair for a short while.

At 17:15 I went off to the football now that the weather had cleared up.

writing on pavement granville manche normandy franceThere had been some talk around the town that the Council had been on the prowl around painting helpful notices on the street in strategic places, and this must be one of them.

You can tell that it’s the holiday season, with all of these elferly people with their little toutous messing up the streets and refusing to clean it up, despite the best efforts of the council to place plastic bags all around the town.

It’s hardly a surprise that everyone is so fed up of certain types of tourists who behave like this.

boats la grande ancre port de granville harbour manche normandy franceAfter the football I wandered back home through the crowds of people and the group of young girls who followed me almost to home.

They left me behind at the look-out over the harbour where I stopped to take a photo. You can tell that it’s weekend and the harbour gates are open because all of the fishing boats have come in and are tied up at the quayside.

Our old friend La Grande Ancre is over there on the far side.

Looking at it now, it’s hard to imagine how the port might have been 120 years ago when it was crammed with sail-powered fishing boats who would make the voyage out to the Grand Banks off the coast of Canada.

How times have changed.

Back here it was tea out of a tin seeing as I’ve been out late.
Tomorrow is Sunday – lie-in time. No alarm so just you watch me be wide awake at 05:00.