Tag Archives: jerry kobalenko

Friday 19th November 2021 – JUST A FEW …

… more brief notes because I’m in the middle of watching a football match and when it’s finished I’m off to bed because I have to get up at 05:00.

And I do remember that I said that I was going to update the notes from yesterday but unfortunately things didn’t quite work out like that. Not the least reason being the fact that I had yet another bad night last night and I ended off drifting into sleep a couple of times this afternoon when I should have been working.

It felt as if I didn’t have any sleep at all last night but considering the amount of stuff that was on the dictaphone from last night I must have fallen asleep several times.

I was out in Caliburn last night, going from Winsford to Crewe and it was very late. I couldn’t think of what was wrong. I’d been driving for a few hundred yards and I suddenly realised thet I had no headlights. I looked around and there were no electrics of any kind working in the van. Just then I was going past a farm so I pulled into the farm yard to get off the road before someone ran into the back. Jerry and Mike were there, leading some camels with kids on them. They passed in through Caliburn and out the other side and then came back that way. They asked me what I was doing so I explained. They had a few suggestions but I suggested that it was the main fuse that had gone. Jerry said “hang on. We’ll have a look” and lifted up the bonnet but said “ohh it’s a new Transit and I don’t know these ones”. I had a look and saw that the battery had shifted position so I put it back. Sure enough, there was the main fuse underneath the battery and it had broken. Some woman came by now from the farm and asked what was going on. I explained to her but she replied “we don’t have one of those”. I said that I’d have to order one but in the meantime I was sure that I could rig up something so that I could carry on driving and do whatever I had to do.
Later on there was something about dressing up in fancy dress in the Welsh class. One guy had dressed as a canwyll yr ysbryd but I thought that he should have been more like a ghost with a sheet over him as well while he was doing it. There was quite a lot to this dream but I can’t remember any more than that
Some time later I’d been out with with my friend from Congleton. She lived somewhere out beyond Manchester but I was far too tired to take her home so she arranged for her mother to come and pick her up from my family home which was actually where she lived in Congleton. We stopped somewhere for a quick flirt about, something like that, and then I drove back. She said “don’t park where you normally park. Pull up across the road” because her aunt had parked there once and a policeman had come along and moved her on
Finally someone was making a film about the Great Train Robbery. Of course they were disguising all the names and the names of towns and so on but it was quite clear what it was. I had some kind of rôle to play in it. I was on my way to the garage where everyone was assembling. There was a policewoman directing traffic so I had a chat to her. She was saying how glad she was going to be to get off work at the end of her shift. I thought “you’re going to have a surprise later on in that case”. I arrived at the garage and everyone was trying to organise themselves but there were still a few things that weren’t working. There was this red MkV Cortina and they couldn’t make the flashers work on it. One guy was frustrated and put a great big dent in the boot. The I noticed that a few of the things were going wrong in this organisation. Some of the equipment wasn’t up to much. I immediately thought that this was going to be a catastrophe. Everyone would be caught quite quickly because of all this. I recommended not sharing out the money until much later when the hue and cry had died down a little. Someone there had guns and everything like that. I could see that several tragedies are going to arise in this affair if we weren’t careful.

When the alarm went off I staggered out of bed for my medication and then checked my mails and messages. Liz was on line too so we had a little chat for a while.

Today’s task was to choose the music for the next four radio programmes and that took far longer than it ought to have done as well. Mind you, had I been wide awake and in the mood to work I could have done it a lot quicker than I did

After breakfast I went out for a walk. I needed a bread knife because there isn’t one here,

outdoor market herbert hooverplein leuven Belgium photo November 2021Down at the end of the Tiensestraat I came once more into the Herbert Hooverplein.

Being earlier than usual, the outdoor market here was in full swing.

This is the kind of place like one of these Middle-Eastern or North African street markets – apart from the weather of course. You can buy absolutely everything imaginable here, including bulbs for planting in the garden

Surprisingly, there didn’t seem to be too many customers around right now. It’s not actually that late in the morning. I would have expected the place to be heaving with folk.

outdoor market monseigneur ladeuzeplein leuven Belgium photo November 2021The market stretches on around and into the Monseigneur Ladeuzeplein.

Standing underneath the arches to the entrance to the University Library I have a good view of all of the stalls and what they are selling.

The University Library is the same one that was burnt by the Germans during the Sack of Leuven in 1914 and all of the books, some as old as 1300 years, went up in flames.

Collections were made throughout the World to rebuild the building and to restock it, so the Germans came by in 1940 and burnt it again.

house building diestsestraat leuven Belgium photo November 2021Sown in the Diestsestraat are a couple of cheap shops that sell household equipment so I wen to try my luck there.

First though, I went to have a look at the house-building that’s been going on down there.

They are actually making reasonable progress which is quite a surprise considering that this is Belgium where they seem to be taking their time about most of these building projects.

And you’ve no idea how hard it was to actually find a bread-knife around Leuven. I tried several shops in the Diestsestraat but had no success.

While I was out I went to Delhaize to buy the salad stuff and fruit for lunch today and for my butties tomorrow on my way home. And in Hema, a more-upmarket kitchen shop near Delhaize, I finally found a bread knife at a reasonable price, so I can make my sandwiches in peace,

man filming grote markt leuven Belgium photo November 2021Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that taking photos of people taking photos is a regular occurrence in these pages.

Today I was eben more lucky because there was someone actually filming here with a film-camera. However I couldn’t see what it was that he was actually filming, and he didn’t stay long.

Back at my little room, after lunch I carried on with the music, fighting off wave after wave of sleep, mostly very unsuccessfully. However, at least it was only 10 minutes here and there, not several hours as was the case a couple of months ago.

Tea was falafel and pasta followed by soya dessert, and now I’m settling down to watch the football. TNS v Newtown.

TNS won the match 2-0 but it would have been a totally different story had the referee awarded maybe even one of the stonewall penalties that I would have awarded to Newtown had I been refereeing it.

And this is, shame as it is to say it, the first time that i’ve ever seen TNS set out to kick an opposing player off the park. As I have said before, Lifumpa Mwandwe is far too good for this league but he’s not going to last long in it if in other matches he’s kicked about as much as he was tonight.

Friday 30th October 2020 – OUCH!

gare du nord paris France Eric HallThat was an expensive day today!

So while you admire a few more photos of the outside of the Gare du Nord in Paris before they start on any redevelopment, you’ve probably gathered that I’ve been on the move today.

What with France going into lockdown, and the word on the streets (thanks, Alison) suggesting that Belgium might be following suit imminently, I reckoned that if I don’t go to Belgium right I won’t ever go at all

Hence my frantic rush around yesterday to change all of my tickets and organise all of my paperwork ready to travel this morning while I still can.

gare du nord paris France Eric HallMuch to my surprise this morning, I was very very close to beating the second alarm, never mind the third alarm. That’s progress, and it goes to show that I can do it when I really try.

Pleny of stuff on the dictphone too, as I was to discover when I had a listen to it later. I must have travelled quite far during the night.

I was with Mike and Jerry and all of that lot. We were doing something in he mountains. There was a catalogue that I was thumbing through, trying to get ideas for Christmas presents and I got to this illuminated map of the far north of Canada and the entrance to the North West Passage round by Bellot Strait, that area round there. It was a crystal, cut-glass etching upright on a plinth. I thought that that was wonderful so I said to Jerry “here’s what I’m going to get for you for your Christmas”. They all came over and were all poring over this and having a good look at it, working out where they could go to get one, all this kind of thing; It was powered by an old mobile phone thing that you plugged into it bit it really was something impressive

Later on there was something else going on about a girl and boy. They were staying in my apartment. The girl was asleep in bed and all this time this boy was sitting by her, looking at her, making sure that she didn’t fall out, something like that. When she awoke it developed into a kind-of romantic scene between the 2 of them. I was rather disappointed that she’d decided on him but I thought that they would make a very nice couple anyway so I wasn’t particularly bothered by it. Somawhere along the line we were working out some kind of calculations for something or other. I remember saying that we had to add two on for something, but then thinking that there was a load of other little things, fixtures and fittings, tha kind of thing.They would all need costing into this as well. I didn’t really know how much they were going to be and this was going to confuse the issue a lot

This morning, I finished off the packing, took the rubbish out, washed the bins, did some tidying up vacuuming, and even washed the floor round by where the kitchen is, to make sure that everything is clean and tidy for when I come back.

Having fed the sourdough and put it in the fridge, I bleached all of the drain outlets and then hit the streets.

neptune port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallThis morning proved that I had been right about something.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that a few days ago we saw piles of roadstone gravel being delivered and I predicted that very soon we would be having one of the gravel boats in shortly to take it all away.

And sure enough, as I headed down the Rue des Juifs into town, I glanced over the wall and there moored at the quayside is Neptune, one of the three or four that come in here every now and again.

When I first came here, there was one in the port every month or two, but this is the first since March and before that it was almost exactly 12 months ago. I was beginning to despair of ever seeing one again.

84569 GEC Alstom Regiolis Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallFor a change, I followed the road along the Boulevard Louis Dior and through the car park of the regional offices of the département, that way to the railway station.

The coffee machine was once again out of order and he train wasn’t in either which meant that we had to wait around on a windswept platform until it finally arrived. Another one of our usual GEC Alstom Regiolis multiple unit.

Just a one-unit train today instead of the usual 2-unit ones, and even so, there was still plenty of room for us to spread out. I had a seat all to myself and spent most of the journey copying files from a portable drive onto the little Acer laptop.

Bang on time in Paris. probably a little early in fact as we had to wait for 5 minutes for a slot to get into the station. Not many people in the Metro either – in fact there was only one person in the queue for Metro tickets at the Gare du Nord so I went and bought another pack of 10.

gare du nord paris France Eric HallNot that I need them yet but usually there’s a queue a mile long and I’m always pushed for time when I need to buy some more, so I may as well get ahead while I can.

There was half an hour before my rain was due to depart so I went outside to take a few more photos of the exterior. As there are plans for the redevelopment of the station, I wanted to make some kind of record of how it looks.

It will be a big shame if they do any damage to the main train shed; It’s a wonderful example of 19th Century railway architecture.

TGV Duplex Inoui 207 Paris Gare du Nord France Eric HallBy now it was time for me to go back into the station and see about my own train.

Much to my surprise, they had already started boarding. That’s not like them at all. Usually it’s 15 minutes prior to departure and not a minute before. And so I quickly took a photograph of our train – one of the TGV “Duplex” double-decker train sets.

Then on to the platform through the electronic gates that check your ticket, and how I wish that they would install them at Lille Europe, for reasons that you will soon find out.

TGV Duplex Inoui 215 Paris Gare du Nord France Eric HallThis is a double train-set and of course, my seat is in the second unit. Right down the end of the train too in the wagon just behind he driving unit. At least it means that I don’t have to walk far at the other end of the journey.

And despite it being a double train-set, i was pretty empty too. Lockdown is clearly working in France and potentially in Belgium and very few people seem to be travelling about.

The journey was pretty uneventful and we arrive in Lille Flanders on time as well. I’m not used to this at all. And then there was the usual inconvenient walk down the road to Lille Europe to catch the train from Montpelier to Brussels.

TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt 4512 gare du midi brussels belgium Eric HallThere was only a wait of about 10 minutes before the train came in so we were soon on our way.

And herein lies the problem.

When I went to the railway station at Granville to change my ticket from Saturday to today, the booking clerk typed out the details and handed me the ticket. And like a fool, I didn’t check it.

When the ticket collector checked it, he noticed that instead of 14:45 she had typed 15:54, and so of course it wasn’t valid for the train that I was on. After quite an argument and despite using my best persuasive powers I was still stuck with a penalty fare of €70:00.

And serves me right for my awn stupidity.

multiple unit sncb am80 automotrice gare du midi brussels belgium Eric HallOnce again, there wasn’t long to wait in Brussels for my train to Leuven.

and to my dismay it was one of the ancient, elderly AM80 multiple units. These machines are on their last legs, with old vinyl seats and linoleum floors, and covered in graffiti inside and out. Not a very good advert for the Belgian railway system I imagine that they will be the next batch of machines to be replaced.

Within an hour I’d arrived at Leuven, walked down to the Dekenstraat, picked up my keys and installed myself in my room. Another upgrade this time – business must be quiet.

Later on I went to Delhaize for my shopping where amongst other things I bought a tin of baked beans. That was because the fritkot down the road was open, so tea tonight was chips and beans. Delicious.

Tomorrow I’m having a lie-in. I’ve done enough these last few days so a rest willdo me good. I hope that no-one comes along to spoil it.

Tuesday 22nd September 2020 – I DON’T KNOW …

… what happened today but I’ve felt better and accomplished more today than I have done for quite some considerable time.

And it wasn’t the coffee at midday that fired me up either because I was well on my way long before then.

In fact, I was once more up and – well, not exactly about but up nevertheless – before the third alarm.

Last night I had my cars dotted around in 3 or 4 lock-ups or buildings in this old factory place. I was waiting there because we were all about to go off with Adventure Canada again. People suddenly started leaving, swarming off to the reception area so I followed them. i was chatting to a load of people about the Arctic, saying how much I liked it, listing all the times that I’d been. People were really impressed that I’d been so often. When I got towards the meeting point I could see Jerry there. I asked “what number am I, Jerry? I don’t know and I can’t find a list and I can’t think”. He had a look and replied “Eric, you’re n°71 – you have a long time to wait yet”. I went back to my unit and was sorting through some wheels. There was one that matched THE A60 VAN THAT I HAD YEARS AGO so I went to put that back in the back of the vehicle. There I was thinking that I was short of wellingtons but there were about 5 pairs and various other pairs of shoes, loads of other stuff like that in the back of the van. It was all looking pretty good in there with all the stuff. Then the thought occurred to me that when I’m called I’m going to have to take a Ford Anglia with me – a 100E model but I would never ever get it through the personnel door. It would be absolutely impossible to get it out through the vehicle door because there was so much stuff in the way. How was I going to do that? Would I have to get the vehicle out sideways on its side and slide it through the personnel door? Would it fit? I was busy thinking about all of this and I awoke in a fever.
There was another voyage last night too, this one involving an old sailing ship, something like Marité. I knew that there would be some kids on it but that’s pretty much everything that I can remember now. I can’t remember anything else.

And having done that, I actually excelled myself by dealing with another batch of the arrears and we are now down to single figures.

Having dealt with that I did a little (only a little) tidying up and then had a good look over my Welsh notes ready for my lesson.

There were just three of us at class today so it was pretty intense and fast-paced. And to my surprise, not only did I manage to keep up with it, I found that I could remember much more than I thought that I did.

This afternoon I cracked on with the radio programme and that’s actually finished now. I missed out on one of my guitar sessions but I would rather finish the programme and worry about the guitar rather than the other way round.

fishing boats chantier navale port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallThere was the usual break mid-afternoon for my walk around the headland.

There were quite a few people out there enjoying the walk, and the brats were there orienteering too. There’s also a big change in the chantier navale too. The Ten Green Bottles that were hanging on the wall in there have now reduced themselves to Five.

But strangely, while that was the situation in there, there was nothing much else going on involving boats. The fog of yesterday had lifted somewhat, so at least I could see that there was nothing out there at all.

renault van mobile home looking for companion granville manche normandy france eric hallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that a while ago I posted a photo of a strange van that has been transformed into a mobile home, with an advert on the side seeking a (female) companion to accompany the owner on his travels.

The van is now back and the adverts (slightly differently-worded than before) are still on the side and the rear door. Here’s clearly not had much luck in his quest.

Back here I finished off the radio programme and then had half an hour on the guitar before tea.

Tonight I made falafel with steamed vegetables and vegan cheese sauce followed by some more of the apple crumble. That’s almost all gone now. Tomorrow will see it off and as I’ll be baking more bread on Thursday I’ll make a rice pudding for a couple of days.

This evening I went out for a walk and my usual runs, and ran slap bang into a young-adult orienteering competition, followed by a group of people having a late-night conducted tour of the walls.

All of this rather cramped my style and while I managed my three runs, the photos that I took didn’t come out well enough. The ones that I wanted to take, I couldn’t as there were too many people in the shot.

It’s rather early now and I’ve already finished what I wanted to do. i’ve not had a day like this for quite a while. I know that there will be a downside to all of this but I hope that it won’t be for a while.

There’s a lot of catching up that I need to do.

Tuesday 18th February 2020 – I CAN NOW ADD …

trawlers port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hall… to my list of accomplishments that of “tying up a trawler”.

I arrived at the harbour at exactly the moment that the harbour gates opened, and I actually do mean that because I was walking across the path on top when they started to close and I had to scramble underneath the barrier.

There must have been eight or nine fishing boats of various sizes sitting in the queue outside the gates waiting for the off.

trawlers port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallAnyway, as soon as the gates opened, they shot in like greyhounds out of a trap and headed for their berths.

One of the later arrivals pulled up right by me as I was walking down the quayside. The skipper shouted “tie us up, will you?” and hurled me a rope. I missed the first time but the second time I caught it and looped it over a bollard and wound it round.

he seemed quite satisfied that I’d done it correctly so I cleared off. I had no idea that passers-by – civilians like me – were expected to know how to do things like this and be roped (if you’ll excuse the pun) into participating in the antics of the fishing fleet.

You learn something new every day.

Nothing new though in this morning’s antics. I missed the alarms again and it was about 06:45 when I finally arose.

But I’d been awake a couple of times during the night and on both occasions found myself dictating the account of a nocturnal voyage … into my hand. Dictaphone still on the chest of drawers.

It’s enough to make me wonder how many times I’ve done that in the past and what I might have missed.

After the medication I had a look at the dictaphone and … GULP there’s enough on here to keep me busy for a week or so, enver mind half an hour.

There was a group of kids, 7 or 8 or 9 and it was some kind of adventure quest. They had to travel to France for some reason or other, all dressed up, even two of them dressed as a pantomime horse with a girl dressed as a princess sitting on top, all dashing off down to Dover docks. I was one of the monitors – I had to follow them around and make sure that they weren’t getting up to any good. They had challenges that they had to meet on the way, like one where it was the task of this pantomime horse to actually involve itself in the encounter, this kind of thing. I pile of them made it down to Dover so I said “what happens now? Do you have to get your tickets?”. One said “ohh no. They said we could get our tickets at the other side” which sounded strange to me but they all seemed to agree that that was what was supposed to be happening. They were all jostling around for a place to sit. One of the girls was Helena who was probably a little older, 10 or 11 I dunno so i got talking to her. “What have you been doing?” “Well apart from having to drive my car to the Isle of Man, not a great deal” so I asked her to tell me about her kind of adventure in this particular thing but she didn’t have the chance to before I awoke
And I’ve done it again, haven’t I? Dictating a dream in my sleep without the Dictaphone. Strange. I was up on the Elm Drive estate in what should have been a council house but it was a big private house of mine. I was doing it up but I’d been taken ill as you know and couldn’t work so the work had really slowed down on this place. But Castor and Pollux were there and Jerry Kobalenko (welcome into my nocturnal rambles, Jerry) too. We were preparing for an expedition and it had started and we had lost a lot of equipment and I’d fallen through the ice. We’d had to arrange this kind of thing and ended up with no clothes so we were back at my house again drying off. I started to lend Jerry some clothes and stuff like that and get myself organised. Jerry borrowed my car which was a Mark IV Cortina RHD but with the gear lever on the right up against the door. He went off and did something and then I came back and took the car for a drive. Went down West Avenue and Richard Moon Street and out to Nantwich. Round Nantwich and back again all the way up Middlewich Road. I can’t remember where I ended up then, some town or other and had to do a U-turn. I pulled out of a side road and nearly knocked a lorry off over into the centre of the road. There was a huge power station where I did my U-turn and came back. Castor and Pollux were talking to me. They asked me what I intended to do about the house. I said that I was going to finish it off and live here. They were surprised and asked if I ought to be taking more care of my health. I gave them the usual story about wanting to enjoy what life I had left rather than being afraid and not doing anything. They were a bit surprised by this but I told them that was how it was. They asked what I was going to do for money. I wasn’t going to say anything but yes I’m OK for money, plenty of it. I said “you don’t need a job”. Castor said to Pollux “but everyone needs a job, you know” and Pollux was still wondering how you manage to live, all this kind of thing. I was trying my best to explain to her. I’d forgotten that bit about taxis when I was out in the car. I wasn’t supposed to be taxiing and I had to stop thinking about being a taxi driver. So this discussion went on and then was when I awoke to find myself dictating this dream out loud into my hand not the dictaphone so I’ve no idea what has happened there – and how many other times I might have dictated into my hand during my sleep and never been aware of it.
Interestingly, it proves the point that dreams are connected with memories and not out-of-body experiences – at least this one was. The area of West Street around West Avenue, Richard Moon Street and Middlewich Road has undergone all kinds of changes since the demolition of the railway works after I left the town. But not one of these changes appeared in my voyage around that area.
Somewhat later I was doing exactly the same thing again – dictating my dream into my hand while asleep. It was a cowboy situation – the James Brothers. One of them was an outlaw, fed up of them being on the run and wanted to go straight. He was talking to me about it. I went outside and there was the other brother trying to break in a horse. That was when I awoke to find myself dictating my dream in my sleep again
Later on I was with Nerina and we’d been working on a taxi. We’d had to have some letraset done to make some stickers and Karen Brierley had done it. The job was absolutely perfect and I wouldn’t have had the patience to do this, as I told her, but this was really good. In fact we’d been talking about business cards prior to this. Someone had taken us to a place and the guy had opened up a set of drawers that he rented out, right by the doorway. “You’ll know what’s in here” he said and opened the top drawer but there was nothing in it. he opened the next one and it was full of business cards and that’s how we got talking about stickers. We much preferred stickers for the taxis because you could stick them everywhere. Anyway then people then were going on about this taxi, painted white and letraset it but it was really late. My family were all up and Nerina was really tired, and I needed her to do some more work. In the end I smiled and said “yes, go on Nerina, go to bed”. I said to my mother that I won’t be up very long either. Even though they were planning to be up all night I’d go to bed and do this first thing in the morning. She went off to bed and I went out to work on this car. But I came back because I was in a suit. I took off the jacket and shirt and went to get an old tee-shirt. And as for jeans I’d but on a pair of overalls to protect the trousers.

As you can imagine, it took me much more than half an hour to type out all of that. I had a break for breakfast at some point and then came back to carry on and it was right into mid-morning by the time that I’d finished all of that.

That meant that finally I could start on the notes for the radio project on which I’m working, but I wasn’t at it for long because I needed to go for my bread.

mobile crane port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallFirst task was to leave the house of course. And it was a bright sunny day so i’d planned a nice long walk.

Not that i would get very far though before I had to stop. regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I’m quite interested in the plant life around here – this kind of plant of course, not the other kind. So when I saw this mobile crane pull up on the other side of the harbour I stopped to photograph it.

No idea what it might be doing there. There’s already enough plant and machinery over there as it is.

trawlers port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallAs I walked down the boulevard des Terreneuviers I noticed that the fishing boats were now jostling for position at the entrance to the inner harbour even though the “traffic light” was showing red.

That could only mean one thing – that the harbour gates were closed but would be opening very shortly. I had a brief look at the chantier navale but there was nothing there any different from the last time I looked.

And so I pushed on rather rapidly, not even stopping to take a photo of the shellfish that they were hauling up from a boat at the fish-processing plant.

fishing tackle trawlers port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallJust as I set foot on the footpath across the top of the gates the siren sounded. I moved rapidly but the barrier came down and the gates started to open before I could cross over.

Luckily I was on the far gate so I didn’t have to jump for it, but I still had to scramble under the barrier at the far side. But I’m glad I did because it gave me an opportunity to inspect the fishing tackle on one of the fishing boats.

So now I know where everything goes and what it’s for. I’ll have to get myself out there on a fishing boat one of these days and have a first-hand look at it.

trawlers port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallSo as all of the fishing boats cleared off into the harbour, I cleared off after them. And that was when I had my encounter with the other fishing boat that I had to tie up.

The guys were there with the pontoon and the large mobile crane. Having been rebuffed the other day I decided not to waste my time asking them anything but to wait and use my own eyes to see what was going on.

And I wasn’t to be disappointed at all, as you will see in due course.

food stall carnaval place godal granville manche normandy france eric hallAnother one of the things that I’m doing right now is to go round by where the fête foraine – the funfair – will be for the carnival and see how they are getting on with arranging everything.

In the Place Godal, where some of the caravans of the entertainers are parked, there was this popcorn, toffee apple and ice cream stall.

Not that i reckon that it’s supposed to be set up there (although it wouldn’t come as any surprise) but my thinking was that they are waiting for the funfair to erect itself and then these stalls will fit in around the amusements.

carnaval funfair fete foraine parking herel granville manche normandy france eric hallSo down to the Parking Hérel to see how they were doing.

And the big machinery is going up together quite nicely – and quickly. In fact the apparatus on the left was actually working, swinging back and forth. It made me wonder whether the inspectors were actually there today checking it over.

These machines are impressive but they are quite dangerous and can’t ply for hire until they have been inspected and have a permit to operate.

palais du rire funfair fete foraine parking herel carnaval granville manche normandy france eric hallThe Palais de Rire – the Palace of Laughter – looks impressive and they must have worked impressively to have it done this quickly. They had barely started on it yesterday.

But I learnt something today too, and I’m always in the market for learning new things.

There was a lorry there that was towing a couple of trailers – the typical “showman’s goods” lorry. So I asked someone with it what licence yuo needed to drive with more than one trailer.

The answer was (the Fench equivalent of) “a HGV Class one licence – nothing else”. In other words, any ordinary Heavy Artic licence. And I have one of those, don’t I?

But don’t worry. My days of driving all this heavy stuff are over.

entertainment stage place general de gaulle granville manche normandy france eric hallFrom there I walked into town and La Mie Caline to pick up my dejeunette

And here across the road is something that wasn’t here this time yesterday. Clutching my bread quite tightly, I went for a closer look.

They are pushing along quite rapidly with the features for Carnaval as we can see. This is the stage from which they will make all of the announcements I reckon and where there might be some kind of entertainment during the evening – I dunno.

erecting marquee chapiteau parking cours jonville granville manche normandy france eric hallYesterday I’d been past the car park in the Cours Jonville and seen them laying out the edges of the chapiteau – the big marquee where the Friday night Ball will take place.

And so I went that way today to see how they were getting on with it. And “getting on with it” they certainly are. It’s quite impressive the speed with which they are putting up these things and the marquee is certainly one of the more exciting things

So Friday night we’re going to ba having a Ball. Well, they are. I shall be tucked up in my warm little bed ready for the onslaught the following day.

cranes slinging into place pontoon support rue du port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallThe roadworks in the place des Corsaires have gone now and the street is open. Me though, I pushed on up the rue des Juifs until I was interrupted.

Excuse the dreadful shot but the sun was right in my eyes and in the camera lens. But here’s our mobile crane, now on this side of the harbour in the rue du Port and the big pontoon has sailed over here too.

And between the pair of them they are manoeuvring one of the pontoon supports into place ready for fixing against the harbour wall. I was lucky to catch this photo today.

Back here I had a late lunch and then set about my afternoon project.

home made apple pear coconut puree orange ginger syrup apple pear cinnamon cocnut cordial place d'armes granville manche normandy france eric hallPeel some ginger, dice it into some very tiny squares and then put it in a small amount of water to boil, then leave to simmer.

Meanwhile, peel four good juicy oranges and put them in the whizzer. Whizz them round and then filter out the orange juice which goes in the fridge in a bottle.

The left-over pulp goes into the pan with the ginger and it’s all left to simmer.

While that’s doing, put about 5mm of water in the bottom of your nice new big saucepan and add plenty of lemon juice to it.

hen peel, core and dice seven apples and three pears. When they are finely cut, add them to the water and lemon juice as you go along, swirling them around so that there’s some lemony liquid covering all of them to stop them browning.

Then add desiccated coconut and some cinnamon to the apples and pears, take off the orange and ginger and put the apples and pears etc onto the heat and bring to the boil and leave to simmer.

With the orange pulp and ginger add a couple of dessert spoons of honey and stir well in. Then add to the whizzer and give it a really good whizzing around to liquidise almost everything. Then when it’s cooled down, add to the orange juice and give it all a really good shake.

There’s a nice orange and ginger syrup to add to filtered water.

floating pontoon across rue du port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallThat was the cue to go for my afternoon walk.

There were crowds of people out there today because it was so nice, and I’m glad that I went out when I did because I saw a most unexpected sight. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall seeing the new pontoons stacked up on the quayside the other day, but here’s one in the water heading across to the cranes that we saw earlier.

But how are them moving? They aren’t rowing them so maybe there’s an outboard motor somewhere, I suppose.

rainbow granville manche normandy france eric hallThere had been a heavy rainstorm briefly a short while earlier but it had passed and was gone.

Not too far though because we had this gorgeous rainbow. We’ve certainly seen some impressive rainbows since we’ve been living here but this one is one of the best.

Back here I checked to see that the apples were done, and then strained off the liquid. That’s in a bottle ready to be diluted in early course.

As for the solids, they went into the whizzer and turned into purée for me to bottle. That’ll keep me going for a week or so.

Now I could finish off writing the texts and dictate them, just interrupted by a little 10-minute crash out. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough time to finish editing them before it was tea-time which was a shame.

For tea I had a stuffed pepper with rice followed by apple turnover and Alpro soya almond with chocolate sauce. And I’ll tell you something for nothing, and that is that now that i’m much better-organised my diet is improving 100%

Cutting out these shop-bought sugary drinks and their plastic bottles was really a good New Year resolution.

For my walk I managed my two runs and then headed back here to write up my notes.

And now bed-time. After my marathon adventures during the night last night I’m ready for a good sleep. I just hope that I remember to use the dictaphone if i want to dictate any notes.

Wednesday 21st August 2019 – WE GAIN …

… an hour tonight.

Well, we don’t actually. We really gain two hours tomorrow night but seeing as we are not going near any community tomorrow during the day we will put our clocks back one hour tonight and we’ll do the other hour tomorrow night.

And I can’t say that I’m sorry, because I’m exhausted. And for once I had a decent night’s sleep too. Took me a while to drop off but once I was gone I was gone and I remember nothing at all until the alarms went off. I only just beat the third alarm – and by a matter of seconds – too.

It was a late breakfast but I didn’t take advantage because we are now in another fjord hard by Disko Island with the Eqip Sermia glacier at the end of it. Only a small glacier but a very lively one – one of the fastest glaciers in the world apparently.

Too fast in fact, for just as we were unloading the ship a large piece of ice broke away and calved, causing a tidal wave that crashed one of the kayaks against the rocks and damaged it before the crew had time to secure it..

The resultant chaos took ages to sort out and a 09:00 departure was more like 10:30.

We had a good sail around the face of the glacier watching some calving while they prepared a decent landing for us and eventually they were ready for us at the landing site.

An easy landing, and a beautiful environment but due to the earlier mishap not enough time to visit it properly. By the time that I’d had a geology lesson from Marc and a lengthy history chat with Rachel I was struggling to reach the waterfall.

But when I did – drat and double-drat! I’m not sure how many waterfalls I have visited just recently but I don’t recall visiting even one that didn’t have the sun shining directly over the top spoiling the photos. And this one was no different.

For the money that we are paying for this voyage, you would think that the company would have turned the earth around 90 degrees to give us all a sporting chance.

Back on board The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour we had a barbecue and then I had a shower and washed my expedition clothes. They’ll dry quite quickly. And I … errr … closed my eyes for a second or two (or maybe more.

We had some more lectures (during one of which I fell asleep) and then tea time. I sat with Jerry Kobalenko the explorer and we had a good chat too about all kinds of things, especially diet in the High Arctic.

Another good day for photo editing though. I’m now on 19080785 and just leaving South Pass on my way back to Montana and Winnipeg. So it’s not going as quickly as I would like it. But I’ll get there somehow some day.

Although I’ve a feeling, comparing my screen with a known photo that I took a while ago, that I might have to do all of this editing lark again when I get to a decent screen, whenever that might be.

Only time will tell.

Monday 17th September 2018 – HAVING GONE TO …

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

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

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

… bed early (for me, anyway) and having had a really good sleep (just for a change) I was all set for a lovely long time in bed when I had a severe attack of cramp in my ankle that not only awoke me but had me out of bed.

“Still, start the day as you mean to go on”, say I.

I was up and out of bed at the usual time, watching the sun rise from the east. It really was a glorious morning. Only confounded by the fact that I had forgotten my medication and needed to dash down again before breakfast to rescue it.

Next task was to put Strawberry Moose into his wetsuit. He’s been invited to go kayaking later today by Jill.

For breakfast I sat with three members of staff but true to form they all cleared off after a short while and left me to it. Not unusual for me to be alone, is it? Not these days anyway. So I wandered off to make enquiries about the kayaking. “Not until 12:30” I was informed.

That gave me plenty of time to sort out a few things and then to go to the compulsory briefing on disembarkation tomorrow. Just for a change, I’m on the early and quick flight. So we’ll arrive in Toronto at 20:00.

And we’ve heard all of this before, haven’t we?

Jerry Kobalenko gave a talk on “why we travel” and made reference to William Noyce’s “13 Reasons for Travel”. Very interesting they were, and while we noticed the “escape” as a reason, he failed to mention that most people who travel on adventures in the guise of “escape” are usually doing it to escape from themselves.

And I can tell you all about that too. It’s all very well running, but when you stop, you catch up with yourself so it never ever works.

An early lunch found us tied up at the dock at Sisimiut. No zodiacking today. This is the most northerly ice-free harbour in Greenland and is the second-largest city in the country with a population of 5500. On this site there has been human habitation going as far back as 4500 years.

We were given a guided walk by a local tourist guide, who had the quietest voice that I have ever heard in a tourist guide so we didn’t really pick up too much from him.

I did my usual trick of going around the supermarket at the top of the town to check out the prices. 4 pears for $7CAN and coffee at $11CAN for a 250-gram pack convinced me that you would need more money than I have to live sustainably here. Fuel at $1CAN per litre wasn’t sufficient to entice me, nice though the town was.

But after all of that the biggest drawback to my moving here for good is the gender imbalance. Men are by far in the majority in this town and that wouldn’t suit me at all.

Ohh yes! I can still chase after the women. I just can’t remember why.

Heather was loitering around the streets whipping in the latecomers so I attached myself to her and accompanied her to the ship where I invited her for coffee. We had a long chat before she had to go back to work, but I was starting to feel an attack coming on so I cleared off to my room.

Sure enough, I was out for a good hour or so and felt really groggy when I awoke. It was a struggle to find my feet.

We had the usual self-congratulatory meeting to wind up the proceedings and then off for tea. Once more, I was at the naughty table and we had our usual rowdy time.

This was followed by the bane of all group travel parties – the TALENT COMPETITION – where everyone’s idea of his or her own abilities and talents is completely different from that of the assembled sufferers.

Luckily the arrival of the Aurora Borealis put a stop to it. We had yet another “Gold Strike At Bear Creek” moment so we all trooped up on deck to see them. I could see them but the camera couldn’t so you won’t be able to see them either unfortunately.

They were impressive, right enough, but not like you might have seen on any photograph. And the cynic inside me seemed to think that the person who made the announcement about the Aurora Borealis had the same opinion as I had about shipboard talent contests.

Later I was trying to download the photos of Strawberry Moose kayaking but they haven’t uploaded yet.

And when I asked Linda the cruise director for help, she cut me dead. I’m clearly not Flavour of the Month with her and I can imagine that I shall have to whistle for the e-mail address that she obtained the other day and which I need.

Add to that the case of Latonia who clearly has no intention whatever of talking to me about Newfoundland and Labrador, despite having made me several promises, and you can see what I mean about my own popularity.

But hey ho! Who cares? I’m off back home tomorrow and saying goodbye to this Ship of Fools. Despite the difficulties that we encountered, we could have accomplished so much more had we had an intrepid captain who knew his ice, and a team of experts who might have been more interested in their subjects than their own egos and the warmth and comfort of the ship.

No-one really goes on an expedition like this without being willing to push on the extra mile. And to have had the ship packed out with “trophy tourists” is a huge disappointment. Life in the High Arctic is tough and if all that you want to do is to watch it from a window or simply just put your feet ashore to say that you made it, then this kind of trip isn’t for you.

Or maybe this kind of trip isn’t for me. Perhaps I chose the wrong way and the wrong Organisation to take me to the High Arctic. A couple of dedicated and faithful Inuit guides and a komatik would maybe have been better.

But I made it anyway.

And now I’m sounding like a trophy tourist too.

Maybe I should go to bed before I become even more depressed.

Wednesday 12th September 2018 – WHAT A …

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

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

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

… horrible night!

About 00:45 when I finally settled down to sleep. And something awoke me at 03:30 – no idea what it was – and that was how I stayed, drifting in and out until the alarm went off at 06:00.

A beautiful morning with some lovely streaks of light. Several icebergs and a couple of islands away astern too. Have we reached Greenland already?

As a true measure of my popularity I took breakfast alone this morning. It seems that I’m the rattlesnake in the Lucky Dip again. I wonder who I’ve upset today. And more importantly, how?

At least I managed to have a chat with Jerry Kobalenko about Labrador. Apparently I can find out much more information by looking in his book, “obtainable in the gift shop”. I suppose that my explorations are pretty much small beer compared to the routes that he has travelled.

My morning caught up with me though, and pretty quickly too. By about 08:45 I was flat out on the bed and there I stayed until about 09:45. Dead to the world. The only trouble with this though is that I feel worse now then I did before I crashed out.

At least there was a nice view of Greenland through the fog and that might cheer me up a little. An iceberg went sailing past at one point, hard up against the Greenland coast and so I went out to take a photo or two.

There was a lecture on “the Vikings” – not “the Norse” – and Latonia started completely on the wrong foot, telling everyone that Lindisfarne was on the north-west coast of England.

Another discussion that we had was on the failed Adolphus Greely expedition of the 1880s. And what annoyed me about this was that we were just 30 miles or so from where they came to grief and there was no proposal whatever to take us there.

With all of the disturbances and failures that we have had with our voyage, I would have thought that they would have done what they could in order to make our journey more exciting and instead of this messing about in Lancaster Sound, we could have come up here instead.

I’m dismayed about all of this.

At lunch I sat with Natalie and Deanna and we chatted about last night’s entertainment. And good that it was too – the chat as well as the entertainment. I threw in a few tales from Carry On Matron too while I was at it.

By now we had arrived off the coast of Etah in Greenland. This is the last place on our list – the farthest north at 78°18′, 1300kms (750 miles) from the North Pole and I was half-expecting to be turned away from there too.

But we clambered aboard the zodiacs and off we went up the fjord. It’s long, narrow and also shallow so the ship couldn’t go too far up there. Instead we were treated to a 45-minute zodiac trip. And it’s just as well that we did because we went past three herds of musk-oxen.

We stopped to take photos of them. The best estimate is that there were about 20 of them in total.

Etah was the farthest-north permanent settlement in this part of the Arctic. The first Europeans to visit here were John Ross and William Parry in 1818 and in whose shoes we have been travelling.

Ross called them his “Arctic Highlanders” and attempted to signify his peaceful intentions towards them by holding aloft a drawing of an olive branch. Which considering that there were no trees in this part of Greenland, never mind an olive tree, was a rather strange thing to do.

After several minutes of bewilderment on both sides, the holding aloft of a basket of presents did the trick.

Etah really was right on the limit of what was possible in the way of permanent settlement and even in the late 19th Century the inhabitants were just clinging on in there, declining rapidly in numbers. Two separate expeditions of Isaac Hayes, in 1854 and 1861, noted the rapid decline in numbers of people living there, comparing the latter with the former.

There are the remains and mounds of a considerable number of huts here, and one that I inspected still had the furniture and the cast-iron stove in there. These were apparently from a failed attempt to resettle the area in comparatively modern times.

I found a considerable number of pottery shards scattered about and in the absence of a measure, I recorded the length using the camera zoom lens.

Another thing that we saw were bones. from the odd bone even down to several skeletons – mainly of musk-oxen but of other stuff too. More caribou horns than you could shake a stick at.

Once the beach area had been cleared, we could walk down to the glacier.

It’s called the Brother John Glacier, named by the celebrated and famous (or infamous) American explorer Elisha Kent Kane – he of the Margaret Fox and spirit-rapping fame – in honour of his brother

It looks quite close but it was actually not far short of three kilometres. And on the way down there on the path flanked by the polar bear guards we encountered an Arctic Hare watching us from the rocks.

Strawberry Moose had a really good time there. I took a few photos of him, and several other people insisted on photographing him. It does his ego a great deal of good to be the star in other people’s photographs.

Including aerial photography. There was someone filming the glacier with a drone and His Nibs features on some of the film.

I did some serious photography myself. There’s a couple on board who are making some kind of profile of themselves for some kind of modelling assignment, and I used their cameras to take a few pics of them

On the way back I went the long way around. A lap of the lake and it wasn’t as easy as it seems. Not only was it all “up and down” there were several piles of loose scree everywhere and I had to negotiate them clutching a moose. It wasn’t easy.

Another thing that I had to negotiate was a woman lying prone on the path. Apparently she was smelling the Arctic plants, so I was told.

And then we had the stepping stones over the river. That was exciting clutching His Nibs.

All in all, the walk back around the lake from the glacier was interesting and exhilarating. And probably the first time ever that Golden Earring has been played at Etah.

One thing that I did do – you might think is bizarre – is to take off my boots and socks and go for a paddle in the Arctic Ocean. Well, although I intended to, I went in quicker and deeper than I intended due to a wet slippery rock upon which I was standing.

Absolutely taters it was – far colder than in that river in Labrador this year. I must be out of my mind.

Hot tea was served and I was so busy talking that I almost missed my zodiac back to the ship. And they waited so long for me that it had grounded and it took a while and several people to refloat it.

But that wasn’t as bad as one of the other drivers. He had struck a submerged rock in his zodiac and broken his propellor.

There was a storm brewing in the distance and it was touch and go as to whether we would make it to the ship before we were caught in it. Of course, we were soundly beaten and arrived back at the ship freezing, soaking wet and covered in snow.

In my room I had a shower and a clothes-wash, and then after the resumé meeting I went for tea. With my American friends again. She’s a former gymnast and did in fact judge the gymnastics at the Olympic Games;

Tonight there was a Disco – a Viking-themed one and although I didn’t do all that much, I had spent some time getting His Nibs prepared for the show and he won a prize, which cheered me up greatly.

I had several chats, several dances and the like but, as expected, His Nibs had more success with the ladies than I ever do.

They are still dancing and Disco-ing in there. I’m writing up my notes and ready to go to bed. I’ll go for my midnight walk to check the compass and the twilight, even though we are now ahead one hour seeing as we are officially in Greenland.

There’s a pile of the younger ones in the hot tub where, apparently, they have been for some considerable time, enjoying the water and also the Arctic twilight which is magnificent tonight

Tonight’s binnacle heading is 144°, which is slightly south of south-east. So that’s it then.

We didn’t make 80°N or any of the farthest-north outposts of Arctic exploration, or even Annoatok (the farthest-northerly seasonal settlement which is only 20 miles further north than here and where Frederick Cook set out on his alleged attempt at the North Pole), but having hit John Ross’s farthest north we are on our way home. And I’m so disappointed that we have accomplished so little of what I wanted to do.

I set my foot on Ellesmere island and also at Etah, but the rest has been a big anti-climax.

You can’t win a coconut every time but just once every now and again would do fine for me.

I’m off to bed.