Tag Archives: kate bush

Thursday 20th January 2022 – DAY THREE …

… of my enforced confinement was very much like Day Two; with very little of any kind of note happening at all.

And seeing as I’m not going anywhere, doing anything or seeing anyone is hardly any surprise.

Although I just about beat the alarm to my feet this morning, it was a dreadfully slow start. But there was a reason for that. I’m suffering from a lack of football and my thirst was satiated last night instead of going to bed early.

It’s the Scottish Cup at the weekend and Greenock Morton, a team in which I have an interest since I wrote a newspaper article about the club and its controversial chairman 20 years ago, have drawn Premier League opposition.

In the past, Morton have had four major acts of giant-killing and last night someone strung together a video of the highlights of those four matches and broadcast them on the internet. So I stayed up to watch them – videocam recordings of old 405-line transmissions in the good old days of steam-driven television.

And worth is just to watch ANDY RITCHIE’S MARVELLOUS GOAL that dumped Aberdeen, Alex Ferguson and all, out of the Scottish Cup.

Anyway, having struggled out of bed and having taken my medicine, I came back in here to see how things were with the dictaphone. There was something on there from last night – and about 20 things from the previous few nights. And you can tell how lightly I’m sleeping these days with the volume of stuff that’s on there. This is no deep, profound sleep that I’m having.

But never mind the dictaphone for the moment. I had other things that needed my attention.

As it happens, I’m a member of an organisation that is fighting to defend the SNCF from the onslaught of privatisation that the right wing of the political spectrum is fighting to impose on the rest of the country. And I happened to post a couple of messages relating to a couple of things that related directly to me.

Anyway, to cut a long story short … “hooray” – ed … the organiser of the campaign asked me for dates and times. And that meant going through about 18 months’ worth of blog entries. They were relatively unimportant, minor things so I hadn’t tagged them and that explains the time that it took.

Perhaps I ought to mention in passing that my journal is tagged and indexed. I keep it as a diary and as a reminder because my memory is hopeless, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall. I can sing any number of lyrics of songs from the 1960s and 70s totally word-perfect, but ask me what I was wanting when I walked into the kitchen 5 minutes ago …

It also serves other purposes too, as I have probably mentioned in the past.

Then I could turn my attention to where I’d been during the night. As it happened, Nerina and I had another one of our arguments. This time she had a friend with her and it was pretty permanent so she stormed off, leaving me with the business and the dry-cleaner’s to run. All the people wanted assurance that I’d still be open at 09:00 on a Wednesday. I replied “of course”. Then I realised that it was going to be difficult because there was going to be a bus run that I normally did but I didn’t return until 10:00 so I could see that I had about 2 days to organise a pile of changes to make sure that everyone else was happy and that they could have their dry-cleaning when they wanted but it wasn’t going to be easy.

After lunch (I remembered today) I carried on with the entries from yesterday and was actually planning on doing a lot more but I rather sadly fell asleep. And to my surprise, I was off on my travels there too. I was with my brother and someone else. I can’t remember why now but I had some work to do so I set myself up in a room in some kid of village hall place to do it and they wandered off. However I couldn’t settle and when someone came in – a big ugly-looking man rather like Jack Elam, I lost my concentration completely. I went out for a walk to settle myself down. There, I bumped into my brother and the other person. They were angry that I wasn’t working so I invented a story that I was looking for a torch. The third person said that he had one and went to fetch it and they accompanied me back to where I was working while I tried to invent a story as to why I needed the torch. When we arrived back where I was, my brother bumped into this strange man and let out a gasp of surprise and shock which awoke me.

Later on I went for tea. I’m not feeling very hungry right now but I have to go through the motions. There was some stuffing left over from Monday’s pepper so I had a taco roll with some rice.

Rosemary rang me up while I was eating so I called her back and we had a chat. But not for long because my throat gave out.

But the question of food was rather interesting. Last time that I was ill like this was when I was in Minnesota in July 2019 (in the days when we could travel) and I lost 10kg in weight. If I can lose even half of that during this bout of illness I’ll be happy with that and I’ll have gained something.

So now I’m off to bed – at … errr … 02:05. Just as I was thinking of going to bed earlier, Help Yourself came onto the playlist, followed by Quicksilver Messenger Service with the magnificent John Cipollina, Roxy Blue (a vastly underrated band who could have been another Aerosmith or Bon Jovi and whose lead guitarist is now a dentist), followed by Kate Bush. And that’s enough to keep anyone awake, for all kind sof different reasons.

But now that Kansas has come round, I’ll clear off to bed because we’ll end up next with Lone Star (another vastly underrated band featuring Paul “Tonka” Chapman, later of UFO and Jon Sloman, later of Uriah Heep) and I’ll be here all night.

See you in the morning.

Monday 13th July 2020 – WE HAVE A NEW …

etoile port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hall… kid in town today.

Sailing into port earlier today was the sailing ship Etoile. She’s a sail training ship from the National Marine, built in 1932 at Fecamp and normally moored up in the harbour at Brest.

This week however she’s flying the flag at different ports all around the coast and she’ll be here for a couple of days, so it seems.

Interestingly, she fled France in June 1940 and became part of the small Free French Navy based in Portsmouth during the war.

joli france baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france eric hallBut enough of events 80 years ago. Let me tell you about my horrible day today while you admire the two Joly France boats performing a nautical danse macabre around the harbour this evening.

And it’s my own fault yet again. last night someone wanted to chat to me so we endedup chatting for an hour or so and that delayed the finish of the notes from yesterday.

However, Bane of Britain forgot to close the chat window so after a while someone else called in to say “hello”. That chat went on for a while and when I glanced at the time it was … errr … 04:20

joli france baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france eric hallDon’t misunderstand – I really enjoy talking to my friends but the issue with having friends all around the world is that sometimes the idea of different time zones seems to escape everyone’s notice.

So a very weary and haggard me slunk off to bed this morning. I’d switched off the alarms because expecting me to be up at 06:00 was somewhat optimistic.

09:30 was when I awoke, and 09:45 was when I leapt (or, rather, crawled) out of bed. After the medication I had a look at the dictaphone. I’d not been anywhere during the night but there were entries from the previous day so I transcribed them.

joli france port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallBut it’s a waste of time looking for them because I’ve just realised that I’ve forgotten to amend the journal entry for yesterday.

Most of the day has been spent dealing with the next radio project. High time that I fired up the old brain cells.

Having sent off this week’s effort earlier today, so far, I’ve

  • chosen 10 tracks
  • combined them in pairs
  • added the introduction
  • chosen a speech for my guest
  • written the notes
  • dictated same
  • oploaded same onto computer
  • edited about 25% of them

And had I been sufficiently determined I could have done much more than I did. However there were several interruptions.

The first one was for lunch. And the bread that I baked yesterday is absolute perfection, even though I say it myself. And the sunflower seeds give it that certain little je ne sais quoi I was really impressed.

kids in sea plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallThen of course there was the afternoon walk.

It was rather grey and overcast with a little wind, but that didn’t deter the crowds one little bit. The place was packed and there were even kids swimming in the sea, which surprised me quite a lot.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I’m not too keen on going into the water at the best of times, but today would have been one of those days when even Jenny Agutter and Kate Bush couldn’t drag me in.

crowds on beach plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallOn the beach at the Plat Gousset there’s much less wind so I was expecting to see the crowds down there this afternoon.

And it seems that I wasn’t disappointed either. But I didn’t think much of the social distancing on the beach up near the sea wall. Some of those family groups are a lot closer than 2 metres, I reckon.

And once more, the water is pretty packed. In the tidal swimming pool with its suitably-clad lifeguard, and also in the sea. There’s a lifeguard there too – just underneath the centre of the photo.

They seem to be taking it quite seriously.

hang gliders cemetery donville les bains granville manche normandy france eric hallAnd not just on the beach or in the sea were the crowds gathering.

Up on the clifftop the birdmen of Alcatraz were gathering,ready to swoop all over us like a flock of Nazgul. At one time I counted as many as five in the air at one time which is some going.

And as I have said before … “on very many occasions” – ed … I’m impressed by the fact that they take off from a patch of ground right by the cemetery. If they make a mistake when either taking off or landing, they don’t have to be carried very far.

That’s rather thoughtful of them, don’t you think?

roofing place marechal foch granville manche normandy france eric hallIt wasn’t far from there to the viewpoint overlooking the Place Marechal Foch either, so I went to have a look at the roofing job.

The scaffolding is still there. At least, some of it is – the same amount that has been there for a few weeks now. But what is interesting about this photos is that the seagulls have now discovered the roof and have christened it accordingly.

That’s one in the eye for the roofers, isn’t it? I hope that the roofers don’t actually need to go up there again

baby seagull flying rue des juifs granville manche normandy france eric hallTalking of seagulls, I went round to the Square Maurice Marland to check on my baby seagull.

He wasn’t there again today but his mummy was. So I hope that nothing has happened to him. There were plenty of other baby seagulls on other roofs, all of them tentatively taking their first flutters into the air.

It’s fascinating to watch them as they have been growing. Keen birdwatcher that I am, it’s not usually birds like this that hold a fascination for me but somehow the seagulls have managed to attract my attention.

Back here I had yet another interruption as, shame as it is to say it, I crashed out yet again despite having stayed in bed as late as I did.

It’s rather depressing me, this is.

Tea was a potato and veg with a slice of home-made tofu and lentil pie from a while back taken out of the freezer. That was followed by apple crumble from yesterday and I do have to say that that was just as good as the bread. I was well-impressed with that.

Off on my run this evening and I had several interruptions. Gribouille the big ginger cat was waiting at the door for me and he let me pick him up.

I’m highly honoured, aren’t I?

So off I set and I managed to push the boundaries up a little tonight. Still a long way to go though before I reach where I was before I went away.

ford ranger with tent on the back rue du roc granville manche normandy france eric hallBut even had I been fit and running properly, this would have stopped me in my tracks any day of the week.

It’s a modern Ford Ranger of course but what was exciting about that was that in the back someone had pitched a tent.

My thinking was that good idea that it might be, it’s not one that I shall be copying in North America for Strider. Knowing my luck, I would wake up to find that a bear was trying to get into bed with me and I’m sure that that’s not a very good idea at all.

Anyway, I pushed on with my runs, down to the clifftop, the walk across the wall, the run along the clifftop and then down the Boulevard Vaufleury.

As I rounded the corner I ran into Maryline so I stopped and we had a good chat for 10 or 15 minutes or so which was very nice and pleasant.

people on the beach plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallIt didn’t really matter all that much that it made me late for the sunset because of all of the clouds that were there.

When I finally made it to the viewpoint at the Rue du Nord I couldn’t see a thing as far as the sun went. Not too many people on the beach either. No picnickers, just a few people wandering around.

So recovering my breath I ran on back to the apartment to write up my notes.

My last Welsh course for a while tomorrow so despite it being a Bank Holiday here, I’ll have an alarm set and I’ll be up to do my preparation.

Then hopefully I’ll finish off the radio project and then deal wit my TWO courses.

Yes, despite what I said earlier, I’m enrolled in two new courses. The songwriting course of course, but there is also a 6-week course on “Building an Interactive Website”. I’ve been working in *.html for 23 years and I know pretty well the basics but I’m stuck in a time warp from 15 years ago – never progressed after teaching myself *.css.

So it’s high time that I learnt, and this looks like the ideal opportunity.

Thursday 2nd January 2020 – LAST NIGHT …

… was not as early as I hoped it would be.

By the time I’d finished out stripping the applause from that live concert and filing it away, it was long after midnight.

There were still a couple of other things to do too and by the time I made it to bed, it was … errr … 02:40 or thereabouts.

My fitbit tells me that I had 4.20 hours of sleep last night, of which just 3.26 was restful sleep. It’s no real surprise then that although I heard the alarms go off, it was more like 07:00, not 06:00 when I finally struggled out of bed.

After the medication and before breakfast, I attacked the dictaphone notes from last night. Always time to go off on a little ramble.

There are some people whose company I positively welcome to accompany me on my little voyages, and regular readers of this rubbish won’t be unaware of who these people might be.

There are others about whom I have well, I suppose, ambivalent sentiments. I can take them or leave them.

But there’s a third group in respect of whom I would cross over to the other side and turn my back rather than to go anywhere voluntarily with them, even if they were proposing going towards Kate Bush and Jenny Agutter. And it was one of those who I encountered last night.

He was there last night and for a change he was being quite friendly, which was quite a surprise considering how things were before I left the UK and on one legendary subsequent encounter. He was going through all of his diary notes from years and years and years ago, all like little blue paper sheets put in folders. We were talking about a Crewe Alex match and the name of a player came up. I can’t remember who he was playing for when we discussed it but he neded up playing for Bury and we did say his name but I can’t remember it. He got his sheets out and said “yes, I went to see that match. The Alex played them on such and such a date and there was a crowd of 3,000-odd there (… in those days 2,000 would have been a really good gate …) only 35 different from the crowd today (… they are now getting over 4,000 …)” he said. “Things haven’t changed much, have they?”. I talked about the prices, all that sort of thing, that it costs a lot more to go in than it did in those days. Then there was something about going to see a house that we were thinking of buying, in a cul-de-sac somewhere like Franklin Avenue. The house had been empty for years and we really didn’t want people to know that we had bought it but we had to go. He had arranged an appointment with an expert to be there, so we had to be there at about 10:00 which meant that Nerina would be late for work that day. We had to wait around for him to come to pick us up. I was doing stuff in one room of the barn and she was doing stuff on her Wolseley in another back in Virlet. It was the first time that we had been back in Virlet for quite some time. There was a strong wind blowing so I went to see what the wind turbine was doing because there was a little ventilator thing on the desk in the room where I was working and that was going round like the clappers with the current. I went outside to have a look and the wind turbine was actually broken. A couple of the blades were shattered in pieces and the through-rod thing had dismantled and it was looking really really sad. I remember thinking that I should have spent the money on more solar instead. I didn’t want to say anything to Nerina to point out about the wond turbine having failed but anyway I was surprised to see her working on her car so I just said some kind of non-commital thing and didn’t say very much.

After breakfast I made a start on Project 009 but I didn’t get far before I broke off for a shower and a general clean-up.

fishing boat baie de mont st michel port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallAfter all, it is Thursday and that is shopping day at LIDL.

So off I set but I didn’t get very far before I was waylaid. Out there in the bay there was something moving about, and I only had the Nikon 1 with the standard zoom lens. But I took a photo of it to see what it might be, with the aim of blowing it up (the photo, not the object of course) back at home.

And here you are. It’s one of the small fishing boats that goes out for the shellfish, heading off into the English Channel.

fishing boat trawler port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallTalking of fishing boats, there was more action in the inner harbour.

The harbour gates had now opened and so the larger fishing boats were slowly stirring themselves into life. This one here, with a crew of two on the deck and presumably a third at the wheel, was now heading off out to sea.

In the background we have Granville, the newer of the two Channel Island ferry boats. behind it, pretty much obscured, is Victor Hugo, the older one and quite probably the more reliable of the two.

The walk up to LIDL was a little more painful than it has been recently and I’m not sure why. But I reached there without a great deal of effort and did a little shop.

For a change, there was nothing in the weekly sale that interested me so it was a relatively light shop. More than usual because I’m not going to be here on Saturday for my weekly shopping so I need to make sure that I have enough food on hand until I can visit the shops again.

Back here, I unpacked the shopping and put it away and then resumed my work on the project.

There was a break for lunch (I’d remembered to pick up my dejeunette) and then back to the grind. And by the time that I’d finished, it was time for my afternoon walk.

crowds pointe du roc granville manche normandy france eric hallIt wasn’t really cold out there, and it wasn’t as windy as it has been either.

Consequently there were hordes of people milling around outside making the most of what is really unseasonable weather. These were just a few of the people out there today.

No dogs in this shot, which is surprising because there were quite a few round about and at one point we were treated to a little scrap between a couple of them. It certainly livened up the proceedings.

hermitage caravan park donville les bains granville manche normandy france eric hallWay out across the bay I’d noticed something unusual on the beach way past Donville les Bains so I took a photo of it to blow up back home.

My initial impression was that it might have been some oyster beds or something similar, but a closer examination of the photo reveals that it’s a large heap of rocks being used as a reinforcement or storm-breaker in front of the little holiday camp out there near the airfield.

With the winds and the storms that we’ve been having, I reckon that they are going to need it too.

storm at sea english channel brittany coast granville manche normandy france eric hallTalking of storms and the like, you can’t see it clearly on this photo unfortunately but there was quite a storm brewing out over there off the Brittany coast.

There was a patch of sea about 2kms square that was receiving a right pasting from a torrential downpour. I took a photo of it with the hope of being able to digitally enhance it back in the apartment but it didn’t work out.

You’ll just have to take my word for it if you can’t see it.

monument to the resistance pointe du roc granville manche normandy france eric hallSomething else that has appeared at the Pointe du Roc just recently is this stele that resembles the headstone of a grave.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that over the past year they’ve gradually been trasforming the Pointe du Roc into a pilgimage site for the French Resistance and they’ve erected all kinds of monuments and flagpoles and the like.

This seems to have sprung up overnight too – I don’t recall having seen it before. It’s another memorial to the Resistants and I don’t know why they feel the need for another one without explaining why it differs from the big one just around the corner.

spirit of conrad trawler joly france chausiais chantier navale port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallThere seems to be signs of movement at the chantier navale too.

Spirit of Conrad is still there and there are a couple of people, one of whom may well be my neighbour, working on it. The smaller fishing boat is also still there.

Conspicuous by its absence though is the larger trawler-type of fishing boat. It looks as if that may have gone back into the water on the early morning tide.

And in the background Joly France and Chausiais are still over at the ferry terminal. They don’t seem to have moved for a good few days.

Back here, I had a little think. There’s a life-changing event taking place in Europe in four weeks time and it’s something that I ought to be commemorating, even if I’m not allowed under the terms of my contract to discuss it.

But Pete Seeger once famously said “Songs Are Weapons” and I have plenty of weapons, and even a launch pad to fire them off. Consequently I spent some time searching for suitable weapons and after about an hour or so I’d ended up with more than enough.

If I put my mind to it, I can come up with something quite formidable and that will be impressive.

For tea tonight I had the other half of the curry from the other night and then went for my walk.

There were a few people, mostly young kids, loitering around but I still managed my run. However I ended up just 10 feet from the top of the ramp before I ran out of steam.

So back here to write up my notes, and then off to bed.

But the good news relates once again to the fitbit. In December I walked 264.95 kms – almost 9 kms per day, and ran for 1 hour 48 minutes – about 3.5 minutes per day. There were only 9 days when I didn’t make the magical 100% and there was one day where I made 179%.

That’s not bad for an Old-Age Pensioner and I’ll go with that any day of the week. But I’m not going to rest on my laurels. I’m going to push on (or push off as the case may be) and see if I can do even better than that.

It’s never too late to try to achieve a satisfactory level of fitness and I do have to say that it seems to be working because I’m feeling better now than I have done over the last few years.

Onwards and upwards, hey?

Tuesday 3rd July 2018 – WHERE’S THAT CONFOUNDED BRIDGE?

Yes, I’ve been on my travels again through the western Germany countryside, haven’t I?

And finding a certain bridge (or, rather, what remains of a certain bridge) is not easy when you don’t use your head.

ludwigshafener pension ludwigshafen germany july juillet 2018But first, let’s return to the Hotel From Hell. Because it really was a bad night and I regret every moment that I spent there.

Yes, I’ve bombed spectacularly with this place.

Never mind checking the area to see about railway lines – this is the old station building that’s been converted into a guest house. So it’s right by a busy main-line railway.

And the shunting in the yard starts up at 04:00 in the morning, along with the accompanying warning sirens. If you’re a light sleeper like me, you can forget any notion whatever of having a decent sleep.

Closing the window didn’t help matters either because 5 minutes later the room was like an oven. And that was a shame because the room itself wasn’t too bad as budget rooms go.

But I did manage to go off on a few travels regardless.

We started off back at the taxi place where I have the Cortina LND9P. It was Sunday evening and I was awaiting the arrival of the radio operator – none other than our old friend TOTGA. And looking through the books I could see that we hadn’t turned a wheel since the previous Sunday when she was here. So I hoped that things would be better and pick up, or else I may as well close down.
Later, I was off to Stoke on Trent on a Saturday afternoon, with the plan being to visit a scrapyard. Saturday afternoons, as everyone knows, are really busy in scrapyards but this one was empty, no-one was about and all of the cars were overgrown with weeds. Of course, fewer and fewer people repair their own cars these days, and tighter pollution controls means that cars head off to the scrapyards themselves long before they are in need of any major repair.
Later still, we were on a big double-decker coach coming out of a French port, and up a steep hill on a gravel road. Our route took us up past a big camp site and then we disappeared into the rolling hills. At a certain moment we all alighted and the driver disappeared off with the bus. That gave us an opportunity to explore the area on foot. A crowd of us went through into some cave-type of places that were old lime-kilns and were stuffed with old French cars lying around abandoned and derelict. After we’d been talking for a while I drew the attention of someone in our party, a car enthusiast, to one kiln where there was a pale green Peugeot 403. He was so keen that I decided not to disappoint him by telling him of the even better ones he had missed. Two of us ended up walking in the hills and this was tiring me out. But the bus driver came to fetch me as he was having an argument in a garage and the proprietor didn’t understand him. He told me that the proprietor wanted to charge him for a whole ruck of repairs on the steering, but the driver had said that he had greased and oiled it himself and it was only minor adjustments that the garage had done. The proprietor said that the bill related to earlier work, and that rang a bell with me as I remembered the bus having to be suspended-towed in to the garage some time previously. And while we were discussing things, I went out for some fresh air and a walk, and there was another bus and an accident-damaged small lorry being towed into the garage.

Once the alarms went off I had a shower and settled down to write up last night’s note, but for one reason or another the hotel’s internet system wouldn’t accept the *.ftp procedures to upload the photos.

and my heart wasn’t much in it either after the bad night. 10:00 was checking-out time and the cleaner was knocking on the door to “encourage” me to leave.

Outside, not only was Caliburn still there but no-one had stolen his wheels. That’s one thing to be thankful for, I suppose. I was rather worried about that.

river rhine barge ludwigshafen germany july juillet 2018First stop was the river to see what was going on, driving past a B&B Hotel not 500 yards from where I stayed.

And you’ve no idea just how difficult it was to find my way down here too. There were roadworks everywhere and I couldn’t get to where I needed to be.

In the end I had to improvise something, and I ended up eventually on the industrial estate.

 germany july juillet 2018Here, I was treated to a nautical danse macabre by several barges.

You’ve no idea just how busy the Rhine is, and the amount of commercial traffic that’s flowing up and down it.

The UK’s only navigable commercial inland waterway, the Manchester Ship Canal, was closed down and a Shopping Centre built on Pomona Docks, but here in Germany, water transport plays a vital role in the economy.

worms germany july juillet 2018The assemblies of delegates of the Holy Roman Empire were called “Diets” and several of those took place in the town of Worms which is just up the road from here.

The most famous Diet of Worms took place in 1521, when Martin Luther was summoned before the Assembly to defend several of his works that Pope Leo X

The Assembly ended with him being denounced as a dangerous heretic, but his demeanour at the Diet won him some very influential friends.

gatehouse bridge river rhine worms germany july juillet 2018This gorgeous stone building here in the background is actually a gatehouse for the bridge that crosses the Rhine here.

Its style and immense size gives you some idea of the wealth and importance of the city in Medieval times.

It was a Free City of the Holy Roman Empire, its ruling Council being directly subordinate to the Emperor himself.

giant barge lighter river rhine worms germany july juillet 2018And river traffic is quite intense here too, with an endless stream of barges passing up and down the river.

It’s been a while since we’ve had a Ship Of The Day of course, but this would qualify as a Barge of the Day in anyone’s reckoning.

It’s loaded up with scrap and is pushing a lighter down in front of it which is likewise loaded. There can’t be much less than 1,000 tonnes on there – the equivalent of 30-odd lorries.

Regular readers of this rubbish in one of its previous incarnations will recall that we once went for a train ride up through the Ruhr, and noticed how all of the land at the side of the railway was still flattened and overgrown following the devastation of the allied bombing during World War II

Worms was a fortified stronghold of the German Army and as well as suffering from Harris’s indiscriminate bombing, was attacked twice in early 1945 by massive fleets of bombers in an attempt to force out the defenders.

In one attack, on 21st February, 334 bombers dropped an estimated 1100 tonnes of bombs on the city in just a couple of minutes.

bomb damage worms germany july juillet 2018It didn’t work, and the city didn’t fall until it was outflanked after the Crossing of the Rhine.

And just as in the Ruhr, I bet that this area around the cathedral looked totally different prior to the bombing.

The post-war Strategic Bombing Survey suggested that almost 40% of the city had been destroyed in the air attacks of 1945. Nearly 6500 buildings had been damaged or totally destroyed and several hundred civilians killed.

electric multiple unit offenburg germany july juillet 2018I stopped at the kaufland supermarket on the edge of Oppenheim to do some shopping, and back on the road I was held up at a level crossing.

It’s not easy photographing a moving target with the little Nikon as the lapse time is longer than i ought to be, but I managed to photograph some of an electric multiple unit on its way to Mainz.

And when I’m reunited with my Jane’s Train Recognition Guide I can tell you all about it

Now, have you any idea just how difficult it is to drive around Mainz?

Mainz is like three cities merged into one and if you forget in which order they are, you can drive aroundfor ever in an eternal loop.

What doesn’t help of course is The Lady Who Lives In The SatNav who has difficulty in understanding grade-separated junctions, and a new fault that she seems to have developed in that she doesn’t know her Cardinal Points.

Here I was with the river on my right-hand side and the sun behind me, so clearly heading north-ish, and she telling me that I’m going south-west.

After a while, I gave up and finding a little quiet corner down by the river, stopped for lunch.

Back on the road, after she had tried to send me down a public footpath and then three times round the same corner of the city while I tried to work my own way round a grade-separated junction, I did what I should have done first rather than last.

I picked up a road sign for Koblenz, which is on the river north of Mainz, and drove 10 miles down the motorway, making sure that the distance to Koblenz was decreasing, and then pulled off the motorway to find the river.

fortress near bingen am rhein germany july juillet 2018And the interchange was exciting too.

Remember me talking the other day about castle ruins in the middle of Germany? Here’s another not-quite-a-ruin just at the side of the motorway exit.

We’re now in the Rhine valley – the Gateway to Central Europe – and this area was fought over almost as much as Flanders and North-East France

river rhine bacharach germany july juillet 2018Having rejoined the Rhine at Bingen am Rhein, we end up in the quaintly-named town of Bacharach.

We’ve seen all of the vines and grapes growing in the Rhine Valley, and just as in France, there are plenty of Chateaux here and there, just as in Bacharach, which are presumably the domains of the owners;

But I’m not keen on the colours of the parasols, I’ll tell you that.

river rhine bacharach germany july juillet 2018It’s round about Bacharach that we start to meet the typical Rhine scenery too as the river begins to cut its course through the mountains.

This is the kind of view that you’ll see on any picture postcard of the Rhine, despite the fact that probably only 100 kms of its route passes through this sort of terrain.

You won’t ever see a picture postcard view of the docks at Ludwigshafen, that’s for sure.

river rhine fortified island st goar germany july juillet 2018We mentioned fortifications just now, and also the fact that the Rhine is the gateway to Central Europe.

It was consequently heavily-defended during the Middle Ages and castles and the like were erected at every conceivable strategic location to control the passage up the river.

One of the best has to be the castle that was built here on this island in the middle of the river near St Goar. No commercial traffic could pass up here without being within primitive cannon-range of the castle.

river rhine castle st goar germany july juillet 2018And that’s not the only castle here too.

There’s a fortified castle at the same location but in the hills on the western side of the river overlooking one of the meanders.

From this kind of viewpoint you can see for miles any traffic coming up and down the river and have your rowing boat ready to nip out and collect the tolls.

Being a landowner with a castle on the banks of the Rhine was a very profitable occupation, although it did usually attract the ire of the inhabitants of the towns situated up- and down-stream, often with exciting results.

And talking of excitement, we had some excitement in St Goar. A bunch of grockles decided that they would amble across the road at their own pace right in front of Caliburn, doubtless too busy listening for the Loreley than to pay attention tp oncoming traffic, and were most upset when I gave them “Hail Columbia” on Caliburn’s horn.

And during the resultant discussion, I never realised just how good my German actually was. It’s a long time since I’ve had to remind people just who lost the war and they should get out of the way of the victors.

Not that it’s the kind of thing that I usually do, but it’s much more pointed than telling them to **** off.

I blinked and missed Boppard – a horrible nasty place full of even more grockles, and continued northwards.

city walls rhens germany july juillet 2018My journey brought me to the town of Rhens, of which the chief claim to fame is that it’s twinned with Barnsley in Yorkshire, for which I apologise.

It was also a fortified city in the Middle Ages and despite the warfare that has ravaged the area over the centuries, not the least of which was in March 1945, there are still some vestiges remaining.

There was also an old GPO red telephone box here too. everyone wants them except the Brits, it seems.

Koblenz received the same treatment as Boppard, mainly for the same reason but also due to the fact that it was now rush-hour.

Instead, I headed straight for my next destination, Remagen and the remains of its famous bridge.

For some reason, the bridge was quite difficult to find – as if a street called something like the “allee den Alten Rheinbruck” wouldn’t give me a clue.

In the end, I had to park up on the outskirts of the town and do some research.

river rhine ludendorf bridge remagen germany july juillet 2018But eventually I tracked down what remains of the bridge.

In World War II all of the bridges over the Rhine were packed with dynamite to demolish them should the need arise.

But following the premature explosion of another bridge when it was hit by a bomb and the subsequent court-martial of the officers commanding, the dynamite was removed, to be replaced when any enemy advance threatened the bridge.

By the time the Americans threatened the bridge, the only dynamite available was very substandard and not powerful enough to demolish the bridge. And in any case; some of the charges failed to explode.

And so it was still standing when the Americans arrived.

It didn’t fall until many days later, and then only due to the fanatical attacks by Luftwaffe bombing attacks and rocket barrages. But by then a pontoon bridge had been erected across the river.

Until the 1950s the pillars were still standing in the middle of the river but they were hazardous to shipping and were removed.

river rhine ludendorf bridge remagen germany july juillet 2018Its building had been proposed as part of the Schlieffen Plan for a rapid attack on France.

Linking the railways on the eastern bank of the Rhine with those on the western bank could speed up the deployment of troops and supplies.

And if you look very carefully, you can see the tunnel in the rock into which the railway disappeared.

Building took place between 1916 and 1919, too late to be of any real use in World War I

Bonn seemed to be the obvious choice for a place to stay, but I was wary after the budget hotel that I had had in Ludwigshafen.

So looking further afield I found much to my surprise that a hotel that I had seen earlier in Kripp, about 5 miles south of here and right on the banks of the Rhine, had a room with breakfast at just €53:00.

I’d been impressed by the look of that place, and so I reserved a room

container barge river rhine germany july juillet 2018On my way down back south we noticed another “Barge of the Day”

We’ve seen some impressively big container ships in our time, and although you won’t ever get them up the Rhine, this barge is impressive enough and shows you another example of the kind of freight that sails … “diesels” – ed … up here.

Having seen what I have seen of Germany’s economy and industry along the Rhine, long before we get to the Ruhr of course, it really is unstoppable and people living in the UK, where factories are being demolished and replaced by supermarkets selling imported goods, who think that they can compete with this are really totally out of their minds.

So now I’m esconsed in my little room. Small, and probably more at home in the 1970s (but then again, so am I) but there’s everything that I need just here and I even have a side-on view of the Rhine.

What more can any man desire – apart from Kate Bush and Jenny Agutter of course?

car ferry river rhine kripp linz germany july juillet 2018It was such a nice evening that I went for a walk outside later on.

Across the Rhine just here is the town of Linz and if you had been here in late March 1945 you would have had a completely different view than today.

Never mind the bomb and artillery damage – when the US engineers inspected the Ludendorf Bridge and declared it potentially unsafe, they constructed a pontoon bridge across the river at this point.

 germany july juillet 2018What we have today though is a car ferry, and that’s always going to be exciting news.

However, it’s not usually good news for Caliburn, Strawberry Moose and Yours Truly to see a car ferry, though.

We usually all end up in a bad mood, because a car ferry is that kind of thing that always makes us cross.

But we can see about that tomorrow. It’s bed-time right now.

Thursday 20th October 2016 – NOW THAT WAS A NICE TEA!

Start off with a knob of vegan margarine, and when it’s melted, add a pile of sliced garlic. Fry that nicely and then add a tin of lentils. When that’s all stirred around and cooking nicely, add a couple of teaspoons of curry powder.

When that’s all nicely mixed in, empty a tin of macedonian vegetables into it all, followed by a pile of bulghour and leave to simmer.

While that’s simmering away, put some rice on the go.

When the rice is almost ready, add a Carrefour vegetable stock cube to your lentil, veg and bulghour mix – and there you are. And there’s enough lentil curry for a couple of days.

Downright delicious it was, and followed by a pot of the new Alpro coconut flavoured soya dessert, what else could any man desire? Apart from Kate Bush and Jennifer Agutter of course.

I should have been out wining and dining with Alison but she’s come down with the dreaded lurgy and of course my health is rather fragile. She needs a rest and I don’t need to catch anything at all.

But as for the usual activities, it’s a good job that I went for an early night last night. This morning at blasted 06:45 I was awoken by a couple of residents shouting up the stairs at each other. Some people have absolutely no idea of what it means to “live in Community”.

But I had been on my travels during the night too. I don’t remember too much about it, but I was somewhere in Belgium talking to a group of nouveax arrivants. We were discussing income-generating activities and it turned out that four young boys were involved in making jewellery. They were planning on having an exhibition and so I was giving them advice, like holding in on a Sunday when most Belgians liked to have a day out, and where to go to have leaflets and flyers prepared.

Breakfast was crowded this morning. Hordes of people up there, and that makes a change. It was difficult to sit and read my book. And did you know that they had motor vehicles in Middle Earth? There’s a delightful little paragraph – “Legolas and Gimli were to ride again together in the company of Aragorn and Gandalf, who went in the van with the Dúnedain and the sons of Elrond.”. I wonder which van it was.

After breakfast I had plenty of things to do but for some reason or other I closed my eyes fora few minutes. Next thing that I remembered, it was 11:25. I’d been on my travels too during that … errr … three hours that I was away. Good grief!

I was chatting to a friend of mine on the internet until lunchtime, and then went to purchase my baguette for lunch. And after lunch, the bank in Pionsat would be open, so I needed to telephone them to report yesterday’s little accident. I was pushed around from pillar to post, as you might expect, but eventually I could register the accident and receive a file number. So that was all organised.

I attacked the website after that, and I’ve made some progress with that. Slow, to be sure, but progress all the same. It’ll probably be 100 years before it’s finished.

I had tea after that, and now I’m planning for an early night. After my exertions of this morning though, I’m not sure whether or not I’ll be having another difficult night.

Sunday 29th November 2015 – AND SO BACK AGAIN …

… in hospital, and back to the usual hospital routine. An early night, falling asleep watching a film on the laptop, and then waking up at about 02:00, lying awake for a few hours and then dropping off again just in time to be awoken by the continual comings and goings of nurses in and out of my room.

And I wasn’t alone last night either. I was in Vine Tree Avenue in Shavington, where we lived in the 1960s, and I was working on my 2000E saloon, TNY 143 M, sanding down the offside rear wing where I’d just welded on a wheel arch repair panel, and Nerina turned up. We were admiring a tree in the garden next door in Edwards Avenue – a small tree or plant about 2.5 metres high that looked like a very immature weeping willow – and we decided that we would like a cutting to go in our garden here too.

Strangely, when I went back to sleep a few hours later, I stepped right back into the dream where I had left off and was reading a catalogue that was displaying all kinds of kinky Christmas underwear made of tinsel. Nerina didn’t think very much of that and made a few typical disparaging remarks, and I was thinking that it was a good job that she hadn’t noticed what I’d been looking at on the first 10 pages of the catalogue.

So after breakfast, such as it was, we had what can only be described as a perfect example of extreme boredom. I hadn’t brought anything with me because I hadn’t expected to be here, so no laptop and a flat battery in the telephone because I didn’t have the charger. There wasn’t anything around to read either which was even worse.

But I did find a brochure about the terms and conditions of the hospital so I can tell you all about that now. And apparently I have the right to have a person of my choice in my room with me, and a spare bed will be provided. I did wonder what Kate Bush might be doing right now, and they needn’t bother about the spare bed.

At 15:00 Liz came round and brought me some clothes, my wash bag, a phone charger and the laptop. And not just that, but a couple of snacks too. Which is just as well because the food in this hospital is thoroughly disgusting. Part of the hospital’s charter, which I read assiduously this morning, tells me that the hospital will “take into account the tastes and the eating habits … of the patient”. How they do that is simply to remove from the plate anything that one isn’t allowed to eat. and so for lunch I had half a plate of carrots and green beans, and for tea I had half a plate of overcooked courgette. And that was that. It’s a question of whether they find out what’s wrong with me before I die of starvation. I can see me striking up quite an acquaintance with the lady who runs the cafe across the road and having regular wisits from her;

But there’s another thing as well about the hospital at Riom that is even more important. And that is that there is no internet. Luckily, Liz had helped me to set up “tethering” on my mobile phone and so I can stay in some kind of contact with the outside world.

But whether or not the outside world wants to keep in touch with me is another matter. Of my 132 “friends” on my social network, I’ve had just 14 expressions of best wishes. I know that everyone has their social network account for their own particular reasons and that’s not an issue with anyone, but I don’t see the point of being “friends” with anyone if you aren’t going to take an interest in them and their own personal issues. Consequently I’ve had yet another major purge of my “friends” list. and quite right too. it’ll soon be down to just me.

On that note I settled down to watch a film on the laptop because it’s the most sure-fire way that I know of falling asl……

… ZZZZZZZZ

Thursday 18th September 2014 – WHICH FINISHES WITH OUR HERO ALL AT SEA

st lawrence harbour cape breton island nova scotia canada september 2014

I was wide awake at about 06:30 this morning, having had another one of the best night’s sleeps that I’ve had for a while. However, leaving my stinking pit was quite another story and it was probably a good hour or so later that I heaved myself out, to make myself a coffee and to finish off the notes from yesterday.

Now that my notes are up-to-date and having taken a couple of photos of my overnight spec, the harbour at St Lawrence and this is another good find with which I am very impressed, I can head for the hills. Or rather, the coast, for my days in the mountains are over for the moment.

dingwall cape breton island nova scotia canada september 2014Further down ther road there’s a sign here for Dingwall, so Strawberry Moose and Yours Truly decide to go down there to see if Ross County is playing.

In fact the team doesn’t seem to be at home but here’s the view from the end of the road and it’s magnificent as usual. Just like most places along the coast here at the nothern end of Cape Breton Island.

white point cape breton island nova scotia canada september 2014I find the Coastal Loop a little later, and this takes me to White Point.

There’s a camper just gone past me down there that’s from the same company as the one with which I was playing leap-frog along the Trans Canada Highway on Monday. It isn’t the same one though, because when I arrived at the bottom of the hill I had quite a lengthy chat with the couple. They were from the UK and they’ve been on a long exploratory voyage on trains planes and campers all over Canada and were on their way back from Newfoundland.

And the weather, out of the wind, is absolutely gorgeous. The sun is beating down and there’s a perfect blue sky. What more could any man desire? Apart from Jenny Agutter and Kate Bush of course, to sooth my fevered brow.

cape breton island nova scotia canada september 2014That’s the view from Lakies Head whoever Lakie was when he was at home, if he ever was. And at this scenic turn-off (why don’t they ever have scenic turn-ons? It’s much more appropriate) there was a Park Ranger standing behind a sign saying “chat to me”. And so I did. As if I ever need any invitation …

And just a few hundred yards further on from here I was overwhelmed by the smell of damp seaweed. I haven’t smelt it quite as strong as I have just here so I don’t know what’s going on about that.

aspy fault cape breton island nova scotia canada september 2014At Ingonish Harbour, not the harbour at Ingonish, that’s somewhere completely different, we’re back at the mouth of the Aspy Fault, the faultline that links up with the Great Glen in Scotland.

Here’s probably the best view of the fault line, the cleft between the mountains that stretches right into the interior of Cape Breton Island and maybe even far beyond. It’s quite astonishing that this fault line stretches all the way to Scotland and that these two land masses might even have been connected in the dawn of time.


Many years ago I read an ancient travel book which described inter alia someone’s nightmare drive over the desperate road over Cape Smoky. While it’s certainly exciting, I wouldn’t say that it was terrifying, but these days, the road around the Cape is hacked out of the cliff face.

old road over Cape Smoky cape breton island nova scotia canada september 2014Here, where the modern road is about to swing round to the left to descend one of the steepest parts of the trail, a section that has been hacked out of the cliff, we can see what may well have been the old road straight ahead continuing to climb into the mountains.

The descent on the new road is stiff, as I said, and if this is climbing away from here, then the descent on the other side must have been phenomenal, at least twice as steep as the modern road. It’s hardly surprising therefore that people became so worked up whenever the road over Cape Smoky was mentioned

descent modern road cape smoky cape breton island nova scotia canada september 2014If you want to see what the modern descent is like, we can travel maybe half a mile to a pull-in and if we peer through the haze that’s rolling in off the sea, you might be able to see it.

It just goes down and down and down and down and down and down and down and down, all the way to sea level right down there.

From the bottom of the hill I’m caught in a whole series of road works all the way to Sydney. One after the other and it takes hours to arrive in the town. At the shipping company offices I do the necessary and then go for a wander around to stock up with supplies.

abandoned railway station north sydney cape breton island nova scotia canada september 2014But here’s a sad legacy of the railway here at the port. Many years ago there was a rail ferry over to Newfoundland from here but the entire railway system in Newfoundland was demolished in this ruthless Canadian Government anti-rail programme – there’s not an inch of Government track left in the province – and the rilway network here is abandoned too.

Here’s a very sad-looking former railway station at North Sydney and the rails from beyond here down to the port have been lifted.

So now I’ve had a leisurely evening and I’m taking my place in the queue at the port for the next stage of my journey.

Tuesday 31st December 2013 – THE MOST ASTONISHING THING …

… happened today- so much so that it’s well-worth recording.

I have never ever talked about, much less photographed, the ground floor of this house. And for good reason too. When I bought the place back in 1998 I quickly dumped in there a pile of rubbish and since then the rubbish has been accumulating. Add to that a huge piles of damaged tiles, a couple of large piles of rubble from demolished walls and excavated floors, several bags of cement and plaster, and whatever else you can think of, then it really is a total disgrace.

On top of that, anything that doesn’t have a home anywhere else has been stuck in there to such an extent that moving around in there can definitely be a hazard to one’s health. I did once hear a story about someone who hoarded old newspapers and was crushed to death when a pile collapsed on top of her. Well, believe me, it’s not too far away from that on the ground floor.

Anyway, having said that, I was untangling a pile of cables from the equipment of the “Tower of Power” so that I can put that upstairs in the lean-to when, you’ve guessed it, I had an avalanche.

So that was that. I spent a delightful four hours this morning in the living room sorting out all kinds of stuff. New stuff into the lean-to, old good stuff ditto, plumbing fittings into the water room etc etc. That was followed by a couple of bags of paper waste into the old damaged water butt which will now be a paper receptacle, and a couple of bags of genuine rubbish into the back of Caliburn.

It doesn’t look like much of an improvement, for there’s 15 years’ worth of rubbish in there and I will need more than four hours to move all of that, but you would be surprised at the difference that it has made and now I can boldly go where no man has gone before since at least 1999. If that’s not progress then nothing is.

Another thing was that I had a bad night’s sleep. I was still wide awake at 03:00 and I was back awake again long before 07:30 when the alarm went off. Either there’s a lot of people talking about me, or else it’s my guilty conscience again.

And while it didn’t rain today, it was overcast and miserable with only the occasional glimpses of sun. We had high winds too – not like the high winds of the other day but high winds nevertheless.

After all of my exertions I knocked off for lunch at about 15:00 – late, I know, but I was on a roll – and then crashed out for a while and when I get my hands on the bank clerk from Pionsat ho woke me up with the telephone, he’ll be looking for a new set of teeth too. I was well away.

Tea was roast potatoes, broccoli, carrots, boiled potatoes, leeks, seitan slices, onion and garlic gravy with sprouts done to perfection, all cooked on the wood stove, followed by vegan Christmas Cake and “artisanal” mango-flavoured lemonade.

What more can any man desire (apart from Kate Bush and Jenny Agutter to share it with me)?

So now I’m off work for the next couple of days. And then, who knows? I might even carry on with the tidying up.

Tuesday 25th December 2012 – THE FIRST NOEL…

… the Angels did say was at about blasted 07:45 this flaming morning.

That’s because despite it being a Bank Holiday and accordingly a Day of Rest, where nothing ever moves before perishing midday, Brain of Britain here forgot to switch off his sodding alarm clock, didn’t he?

Still, the early start gave me plenty of time to relax and open my presents.

Lots of DVDs, CDs, books and computer stuff. All a man could desire – except for Kate Bush and Jenny Agutter of course, but you can’t have everything.

And once breakfast was out of the way I sat down for the start of my marathon DVD session.

Lunch was the typical Christmas Day lunch – nibbling on bits and pieces, and then having had a suitable repose, I prepared the veg for the evening meal.

Boiled potatoes, roast potatoes, carrots, endives and sprouts – all cooked in the steamer.

Cécile came round in the late afternoon, just in time for Carry on Don’t Lose Your Head.

Not my favourite Carry-On film but one that she would understand, with lots of visual humour. High time, given the state of globalisation in the world today, that I started spreading around the spirit of Carry On humour.

So a few more films, a Christmas meal (the aforementioned plus seitan slices in onion gravy, Christmas pudding and vegan cream followed by coffee and Christmas cake), and a good chat, she went home and I went to bed.

Saturday 9th April 2011 – The weekend is here at last.

And about time too – I thought it would never ever arrive. And seeing as it was Saturday I wasn’t in any particular hurry to raise myself from the dead either.

Once breakfast was over I made a couple of shelves for in here and I now have all of the DVDs nicely lined up. How long they will stay like that though is anyone’s guess. And once that was done and it was midday, I legged it to St Eloy for the shopping. Nothing much of any excitement, except that LIDL was selling soft fruit trees at €1:69 each. I hate goosegogs, and why buy blackberries when I’m overrun with brambles? But there were two blackcurrant bushes and one blueberry bush left, and they have gone now 🙂

fcpsh fc pionsat st hilaire teilhet puy de dome ligue football league franceThis evening Pionsat’s 3rd XI were playing Teilhet and the Goatslayers won 1-0 due to a disputed penalty (I was in no position to see, it has to be said) but there was quite a bit on moaning and groaning from everyone on the field throughout the match.

Pionsat played quite well for the first hour and were unlucky not to have taken something from this game. They need to win games like these to keep their mid-table slot alive

And this evening I’ve been recording all of the CDs that I bought just recently and copying them onto SD cards to play in Caliburn. The SD cards need to be rearranged and so that means an end to the legendary “Help Yourself to Kate Bush” card, which is sad.

Tomorrow I have a double-header. Pionsat’s 1st and 2nd XI are both away, and they are both playing Charbonnieres – Paugnat at Paugnat. The 2nd XI kick off at 13:00 and the 1st XI at 15:00 so I’m going to be out all afternoon even though I have plenty to be getting on with here.

I hope the weather keeps up.

Wednesday 9th September 2009 – IF ANYONE MENTIONS "PADDED CELLS" THEY WILL BE DISQUALIFIED;

counter battens wall space blanket insulation attic les guis virlet puy de dome franceI’ve fitted the insulation and the counter-battens on the far wall, and insulation to half of the two side walls as you can see.

If you look closely you will see that I’ve started to lay the flooring and install the wiring for the power sockets that I’ll be fitting.

But it’s blasted slow going and I’ve no idea why. I was up there working until 19:30 today yet you would never tell. I reckon it’s going to take at least a week longer than planned to get this room finished.

attic space blanket wall insulation counter battens les guis virlet puy de dome franceBut the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

Remember that there is no door or wall to the stairwell and that there is no floor to the room either. Yet the temperature in the attic reached 27.5 degrees – a full degree higher than in my room and a record temperature, whilst even as I speak, at 00:18, the temperature up there is 23.2 degrees.

Tomorrow I’m having another day off – helping Terry with his woodpile. He had a lorry-load (and I mean 35 tonnes or thereabouts) delivered and although he and Liz have moved a good deal of it there’s still plenty of heavy stuff that needs to go. There was some mention of vegan chocolate cake, and as you know, that would entice me away from just about anything else, even Kate Bush.

In other news, I see that Caligula and her horse are actually calling for volunteers to sit on a couple of panels – one to help students with visual impairments and one to look at the role of students under OUSA Sutures. You may well be wondering what on earth Caligula and her horse are doing calling for volunteers – it’s not the norm for anyone on the Executive Committee to be interested in the opinions of the students.

It’s probably due to the right sandbagging that one of the previous committees received over the idea that they wouldn’t be interested in nominating a student voice for a committee to consider … er … student support (you really couldn’t make this up, you know – even the OU’s hierarchy couldn’t believe it – never mind the students).

But don’t be misled into thinking that any opinion voiced by any student is going to be of any interest to Caligula and her horse. There was this very ephemeral discussion group called “OUSA Consultations” where students were encouraged to publish their views on OUSA and the Executive Committee. One student wrote “load of crap” (well, he or she didn’t, but that was the gist of his or her message) and Caligula and her horse were so impressed by this remarkable display of honesty that she banned the poster from the airwaves for a month. Such is the manner in which dissent is dealt with in OUSA. Even Pol Pot would be impressed with that.

But the interesting point about this committee to look at OUSA Sutures is that it is charged to “consider the role that OUSA will play in the future“. You don’t need a committee to sit and consider this. I can tell you the answer right now without leaving my seat – and that is “bugger all”.

As long as OUSA has Caligula and her horse in charge, aided and abetted by your friend and mine Turdi de Hatred, OUSA will do as the OU tells it and likes it. Not a single member of the committee has the b@ll$ to stand up to the University and tell it to p155 off. Someone needs to be reminded that it is the students who are the customers and they are the people in the chair – they are the ones with the dosh.

The University exists to support the students, not the other way round, and it should therefore be the students – not the hide-bound chairborne wonders – who should be calling the shots. When are the students going to elect delegates with courage instead of this rabble?

But even more interesting is that OUSA Sutures has been on the cards now for well over two years, and OUSA has now reached the stage where we are going to have a committee to look at the implications.

And only after two and a bit years. Rip van Winkle, eat your heart out!

Wednesday 2nd September 2009 – 18:50 TODAY …

space blanket insulation attic les guis virlet puy de dome france… when I finished working.

Mind you, I had an idea that it would be something like that. Cassettes are quite regular in length so you can work it out to 10 minutes or so.

But I’m not going to have this insulation finished by Friday. It’s sloooooooooooowwwwwwwwwww. This shiny space-blanket type of stuff works best in a vacuum and in the absence of a suitable vacuum you have to do your best to make your own.

The outside was easy – you remember me using counter-battens to put the hardboard layer 25mm off the insulation. But the inside is not so easy. The chevrons are about 65mm in depth so I tacked in some small nails at 40mm and cut a load of 40mm polystyrene tiles to fit in between the chevrons – pushing them down to the nails so that they are flush with the outside of the chevron and 25mm off the insulation – so I now have my air gap of 25mm.

Well, sort-of. We struggled to get the insulation as tight as we could and it wssn’t easy – in places we didn’t manage it. But it’s the best we could do.

space blanket insulation loft attic les guis virlet puy de dome franceBut every piece of polystyrene has to be cut to size individually – no standardisation of distances between chevrons on this job. And that’s what’s taking the time, especially with the … er … knife that I have.

I’ve done less that half of it and I’vr also got to thread the electric cables throough it – something I’d forgotten all about.

You’ve no idea how much criticism I’ve been getting for using polystyrene as insulation. But

  1. no-one’s given me a substantiated suggestion what else I can use and, more importantly, where I can get it
  2. I’m on a limited budget
  3. any insulation is good insulation and it’ll more than economise on the energy wasted in making it
  4. fourthly – it’s not polystyrene anyway. If you look closely at it, you’ll see it’s recycled Dalmatian

But I was shattered again when I’d finished – but not like yesterday. Yesterday I crashed out for an hour, was too tired to cook anything to eat, and crashed out again before bedtime. Tonight I at least managed to cook some pasta and open a tin. But I’m clearly not well and it’s a little disconcerting.

>Highlight of the music today was Kate Bush. She has a beautiful voice and she can sing to me all night. In fact, it’s a toss-up between her and Karen Peris of Innocence Mission, but seeing as how Karen is a right two-bagger … he means “more admired for her personal qualities than her aesthetic appearance” – ed … then it’s Kate Bush for me every time.

When I recorded all my music onto mp3 and copied it to SD cards I copied it alphabetically by artist and named each card after what was on it – such as “Wishbone Ash to Yes” or “Caravan to Aynsley Dunbar”. And I have a card entitled “Help Yourself to Kate Bush”

Quite!

Her two best albums by a country mile are Lionheart and The Kick Inside.

have been on my playlist for ever and they always will be, and it was a shame that she lost her way when she tried to run the show herself after flying out from under the wing of Dave Gilmour. At the time that she did those two albums she had a boyfriend who was a bassist and if you listen carefully to the tracks you can hear how it would be possible for them to be performed by just a bassist and a keyboard player.

And if I ever were to have a dream that I would wish to come true it would be to be on stage with Kate Bush – just the two of us – and perform Lionheart and The Kick Inside