Tag Archives: kenneth williams

Friday 29th October 2021 – THAT WAS PROBABLY …

… the worst night of them all so far last night. And four files on the dictaphone tells you what kind of restless night it was.

There was a pile of dirty washing-up that needed doing. Some had already been done so my brother and I cracked on and finished it all. After we’d had something to eat there was washing up to be done and I didn’t bother to wash up but he insisted that we wash up. I refused. I only wash up once per day and that was before going to bed. This argument rolled on so I went outside. I frightened one of the seamen sitting on the steps of our ship who was looking at another ship close by. I asked him what was going on and he said “nothing in particular” and wandered off. There were 3 or 4 ships in the immediate vicinity, one a ship owned by Disney that didn’t have any superstructure like a barge. The people on it were speaking Russian so I spoke to them in Russian – “hello, how are you? My name is Eric” in Russian and they were overwhelmed that someone was speaking Russian to them and they actually came over on board our ship to talk to me. And it’s been a long time since I’ve spoken any Russian. I learnt some basic Russian from a local woman in Nantwich before I started taking coaches behind the Iron Curtain and I’ve probably forgotten most of it now.

3 of us, a guy a girl and I had to check out a disturbance on a common somewhere. There was no-one around but interviewing the locals it appeared that foreigners gathered there later on in the evening. The guy with me who was in charge told the girl to stay there on her own and make a report which I thought was strange. I expected one of the others of us to stay as well and pretend to be a courting couple. A single girl on her own would be rather prominent out there. Anyway, that was what we agreed to do and the 2 or us went away. We ended up being stuck in this huge queue of pedestrians at a roundabout. It seemed that it was Derby County’s birthday and there was some kind of celebration. We ended up in this charity shop and they had some Derby County ski suits that were really nice. I was tempted to buy one but I didn’t like the idea of carrying something with “Derby County” on it so I didn’t. We had a good look around but couldn’t see anything else. We went out and decided to go for a meal. I reminded him about this woman and said “when we go to pick her up we’d better take her a cup of coffee”. He replied “yes. hang on here while I go and fetch one”. I said “it won’t be much use now. She’ll need it at 8 o’clock when we finish. She’ll be freezing”. He said “yes” and came out with some other stuff that I can’t remember now.

Later on Liz had bought some furniture for her new house, a bed. The people in IKEA were showing up how it went together to demonstrate what it looked like. She quite liked it and said that she’d take it but it turned out that there was a 6-month delay for delivery. I said “stick it in Caliburn and we’ll take it round in Caliburn”. She said that there was no-one there to assemble it, Terry had gone to work. I replied “I’ll assemble it”. She said “you have other things to do, haven’t you?”. I replied “I can spare an hour or two to do this bed”. They couldn’t find the right nails or screws ro go with this package. I pointed out various piles of screws and nails on the floor by the bed and this was starting to become really complicated. it turned out that she had gone in to buy a bed for one of her grandchildren because the two of them were sharing a bed and it was most uncomfortable for them. She wanted to get them separate beds and saw this while she was there.

Finally, I’d made myself some muesli and was looking for a container to put it in now that I’d come back from being away. I had plenty of flower pots but couldn’t find them all. Eventually I found a large one so I took a bucket of water and washed it out and had it looking fairly clean. Then I don’t know why I did this but I tipped the bucket of water into the flower pot. Of course the water went everywhere, all over the table, all over the carpet so I had to pour the water back into the bucket quickly. My brother said that we ought to find a mop. As we were going through into the back room to fetch a mop the police were in there. They’d been looking for someone for ages who had disappeared and were wondering where he’d got to. It turned out that he was in the next room. He’d killed himself. They were puzzled because the electrode that he had used to earth himself when he gave himself an electric shock wasn’t actually attached to anything metal, just to a wooden chair leg so that wouldn’t in theory have killed him so they began to wonder about his wife’s involvement with this.

But seriously, how come my brother has been playing such a large part in my voyages for the last few days or so? What’s been bringing him into the equation?

As a consequence of all of this it was a weary crawl out from under the covers this morning when the alarm went off. Mind you, I don’t suppose that it helped very much

After the medication and checking my mails I made a start on continuing with the blog entries but I didn’t get very far.

Not long after I’d started I had a message – do I have any Greenlandic music?

Of course, I have a couple of rock albums from Greenlandic rock groups who sing in Inuktitut but that wasn’t what was required. Did I have any Greenlandic music that would do as the background for a radio programme?

“Not to hand at this very moment” was the obvious answer but I do have two Greenlandic friends, one of Danish extraction and the other a young Inuit girl who are musicians so most of the morning was spent talking to them.

Nive told me that I could help myself to anything of hers (of which there is quite a lot) that I could find in the public media and Heidinnguaq, the young girl whom I met in Uummannaq sent me a couple of songs that she wrote which she plays guitar and sings.

And so what was left of the morning was spent chasing down the various files, editing them and remixing them suitably for the radio shows.

While I was on a roll, as the saying goes, I contacted the son of the guy (now unfortunately no longer with us) who wrote “Grasshopper” – the song that I mentioned yesterday – to see whether his father ever left his notes about his song construction. We had quite a chat for a while but to no avail – there were no notes left behind.

And so, there’s no time like the present and I contacted my musical friend who lives in Germany and sent him the link to the song. He’s going to score it for me. I’ve worked out the melody on the bass guitar but many of the chords bear absolutely no resemblance to the root notes, so they must all be derivatives and that’s way beyong my capabilities.

To take me up to lunch, the nurse came round and injected me with my third vaccination for Covid. Now I’m completely up-to-date with my injections and I have a very sore right arm.

After lunch I had a ‘phone call from the guy who co-ordinates the radio. What am I doing on the 12th November?

Apparently there’s a big meeting taking place to formally open the “Greenland Week” here but the girl who has chosen to make up a radio programme of the event can’t make it. Seeing as I know Uummannaq and the people there so well, could I replace her?

Well, of course I will actually, but really I can’t find the time to do my own stuff, never mind anyone else’s.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021After all of that I went out for my afternoon walk.

Quite a few people down on the beach this afternoon, although nobody brave enough to tackle the water.

And that’s not really a surprise because the weather has now turned and there’s a strong with blowing in its usual direction from the North-West. So the fact that it’s reasonably warm for the time of year counts for nothing really in this.

storm baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021As usual while I’m out looking down on the beach, I have one eye roving about offshore to see what I can catch.

And what caught my eye was this storm raging away out in the bay. Somewhere out there is the island of Jersey but you can’t hope to see it because of the intense rainstorm that is falling down right now.

It’s not any surprise that you can’t see any boats out there in that direction. having seen that huge storm approaching, they have presumably run for cover and I for one don’t blame them.

storm baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021A little further along the coast I came to where I could see over the Ile de Chausey.

In actual fact, where I couldn’t see over the Ile de Chausey very much because there was a massive rainstorm over there too.

This one was far more ominous because the wind was blowing it in my direction and I began to regret that I had come out without a jacket because I had a feeling that in a couple of minutes time I would be right underneath all of that.

people in zodiacs baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021as I walked further on along the path, I did eventually come across some maritime activity.

It looks to me as if it’s a couple of zodiacs in which these people are standing, and the marker buoy behind them is not one that would relate to a lobster pot or anything like that.

The conclusion that I drew from this is that they are frogmen – or maybe I should be saying “frogpersons” these days – going for a practice over the side. We’ve seen quite a few of them in the past just offshore.

yacht rainstorm baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021As I walked down across the carpark to the end of the headland the storm arrived and I got the lot, just as I predicted.

And as it happens, I wasn’t the only one who was having a great deal of difficulty with the weather. There was a yacht out here in the bay battling had to overcome the elements and making rather … errr … heavy weather of it.

The rainstorm was absolutely wicked so I had no intention whatever of hanging around in it seeing how things would develop.

waves on sea wall port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021By now, the wind had increased considerably in speed and velocity and I was expecting to see the results of it on the sea wall.

I’d seen a large wave crash into the wall and sent spray high into the air so I prepared for another.

However it’s usually every seventh wave that is the most powerful but by the time that I’d seen the second or third I was drenched to the skin and the camera was soaking wet so I took a photo of whatever I could get and cleared off.

It reminded me of the time that Kenneth Williams appeared in Bamber Gascoigne’s farce “Share My Lettuce”. He came on stage and described how he disguised himself as a tree in order to study more closely the birds that might nest in it. And he finished his description with “and then I unfurl an umbrella and hold it up over my head”
The narrator said “but the birds will see through your disguise, won’t they, and stay away?”
“Maybe they will” replied Kenneth Williams “but I’m not getting wet for a load of bleeding birds!”.

crane unloading port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021Had the weather been any better I would almost certainly have gone for a closer look at this.

There’s a large lorry with something heavy on the trailer, and a very large mobile crane either lifting it off or putting it back on. It’s a shame that right now it’s raining so heavily that I can’t see anything at all. Not even after enhancing the image.

Back at home I made myself a coffee and then dashed through the photographs. I needed a quick, early tea because there’s football on this evening. I ended up with baked potatoes, baked beans and a vegan burger.

You have to feel sorry for Aberystwyth Town though. Second from bottom in the JD Cymru League but against the team that was second in the table, Y Fflint, nothing seemed to go right.

When they remembered to keep the ball on the ground instead of long, aimless punts upfield, they played some really nice, attractive football that kept them going forward despite all of the pressure that they were under.

They did however ahve to misfortune to find Y Flint’s goalkeeper Jon Rushton in excellent form and he made half a dozen top-drawer saves to keep his team out of danger.

Y Fflint scored twice through one of my favourite players, Jack Kenny, who would be a top-class player if he would just learn to control his temper, booked yet again for yet another off-the-ball incident when there was really no need except his own misplaced pride.

Aberystwyth did score a goal – a marvellous goal worthy of any “goal of the month” competition when Rushton punched a ball out upfield and Louis Bradford lobbed it back into goal right over everyone else’s head. have a look at about ABOUT 1:41:25 ONWARDS OF THIS VIDEO

Not long after the football finished and I was writing up my notes, I fell asleep at my desk. I hauled myself off to bed instead, reckoning that I’ll finish my notes tomorrow.


Saturday 4th September 2021 I KNOW THAT I PROMISED …

dehydrated black fungus noz Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021… never to laugh or take the micky out of foreign translations into English (after all, my writing in French and Flemish isn’t all that much to write home about) but there are some occasions that just leap to the eye.

Here in Noz this morning, I was presented with the opportunity to buy some “dehydrated black fungus”.

The literal translation is of course “dehydrated black mushrooms” and I might ordinarily have been tempted – a handful of those sprinkled on my Sunday pizza would have soon absolrbed any excess liquid, but I couldn’t get past the “black fungus” bit.

So in the end I passed up the opportunity

Having gone to bed reasonably early last night, it was still a struggle to leave the bed at 06:00 when the alarm went off.

After breakfast I had a little session listening to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night. I was staying with someone who was a cross between my Aunt Mary and Rosemary, in a room that was underneath one of the rooms in the attic where there were peopel staying. I wasn’t particularly clean because I’d been working all the time. I didn’t have many clothes with me and it wasn’t possible to wash them so I was rather struggling. We had a big house and there was a huge garden with it, completely overgrown and an absolute mess and we’d started work on tidying that up. Some guy had come along to help us and move the heavy stuff. We’d sorted out all of the washing, all the clothes and stuff in the barn and there was a pile of stuff. By the time that he was ready to leave the place looked brilliant. he said that there was a load of washing and clothes still in the barn but he’d had to take the washing line down. If someone wanted to refix it, he’d come along later and put the clothes back up. I said that I’d do that, although I didn’t feel much like it with my health because I didn’t want him rummaging through those clothes. There was a huge bank at the back of the house and we were manoeuvring stuff up there, putting it into skips and everything. There was an issue with horse hair for some reason. This woman asked me if I’d stayed in that room before. I replied “yes, I was in that same room last year”. She said “ahh well, a horse hair has got out and this was something of a tragedy to her that this horse hair had escaped from this room.

While I was at it, I did a few of the arrears too and just as I was on the point of finishing, there was a power cut and I had to start again, right from the very beginning, having forgotten to save my post as I worked.

And do you know – I’ve been using this text editor – NOTE-TAB – for over 20 years and it wasn’t until just after the power cut that I realised that there’s an autosave facility buried deep in the bowels of this program. It’s now set to “save every 2 minutes”.

But then this is how I’ve learnt most of the details about the programs that I use – thinking about “surely this particular function would be quite useful in this program” and searching my way through the program’s functions until I find it.

Off to the shops I set, and the first port of call was Noz of course. I eschewed the dehydrated black fungus but instead bought a couple of “orange and strawberry” drinks with which to take my medicine.

As well as that, having thought long and hard about what webcam to buy for the big computer (for more than two years in fact) they had some cheap ones at €3:50 so I’ll have a bit of a play with that and see what happens.

At LeClerc they had grapes at, would you believe, €1:49 per kilo so I bought a huge pile of those. The autumn is the time of year that I love, because we have grapes in abundance followed by clementines and satsumas, all the way up to the New Year.

A rather unusual purchase was a tin of WD40. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I’ve been having problems with Caliburn’s door latch mechanism and having dismantled it a few weeks ago I could see the problem.

So on the car park of LeClerc it’s all had a really good oiling and it will be having a few more before I reassemble the door panelling.

peugeot car up on blocks rue de la crete Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021Now here’s something that you very rarely, if ever, see here in France.

By the side of the road in a parking area outside a row of houses is a damaged car, parked up on blocks with its wheels missing. And judging by the amount of rust on the front discs, it’s been like that for quite a while too.

Usually, the council is pretty quick on identifying abandoned vehicles and tagging the wheels to check whether the vehicles are in use (we’ve seen a couple of these) and then if there’s no evidence of movement they take them away.

They don’t need to tag this one to see that it’s not in use.

Back here I put my frozen peas in the freezer, made myself a coffee, sat down to drink it and the next thing that I knew, it was almost 14:00. And it’s been a good couple of weeks since I’ve crashed out se deeply, so definitively and so long as this.

While I was away, I was off on my travels. I was working for Gill Leese again, just as I had been one night a couple of weeks ago, presumably before I had been unceremoniously fired. A few drivers had taken a couple of coaches and gone somewhere. While I was there one of the drivers suddenly asked me “could you ‘phone Gill now?”. I went to fetch my ‘phone but I couldn’t remember the password. When I did, I was entering it in all wrong and it was all totally crazy. It took me ages to actually get into it. I ‘phoned her and she said that there had been a customer who had come in and wanted to take a coach-load of people on a lion hunt somewhere out in Leicestershire way that evening. Would I do it?”. I thought that this was an extremely strange pantomime way of asking me to go about doing something. I said that I would do it but I was still puzzled as to why it had taken her all of this effort instead of someone just asking me outright at some other time during the day.

It took me quite a while to gather my wits (which is a surprise, seeing how few I have left these days) and so I ended up with a very late lunch, yet again.

This afternoon I had a few things to do, including catching up with completing yesterday’s entry (which is still unfinished) but there wasn’t much of an afternoon left before it was time for me to head out to the football.

boats in baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that a few weeks ago I mused about the situation that would surely arise when the gates of the port would be due to arise and there would be a mass stampede back to the harbour.

It seems that my afternoon trip out today has coincided with the closure of the gates of the port this afternoon because that’s precisely what I was witnessing as I walked on down the hill

However, there is one boat that seems to be heading off in the opposite direction. He’s quite possibly off for a trip around and either come back on the morning tide or to go off and find another harbour elsewhere.

boats in baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021The sunout in the west was creating a haze on the water and out of the haze, boats were coming from all directions.

It wasn’t just yachts and cabin cruisers either. There were a few kayakers too, paddling like fury to reach the shore. They’ll want to be home before the evening goes cold because,being so close to the water, it’s very cold in there and you can’t have your kayak and heat it.

There are a couple of boats with multiple oars too. I once knew someone who fell out of one of those. And everyone said that he was out of his schull.

boats entrance to port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021Outside the entrance to the tidal harbour, there was what almost amounted to a traffic jam.

We have yachts, zodiacs, speedboats and kayakers all jostling for position and fighting for their way into harbour.

So I left them all to it – I didn’t have too much time to waste – and headed off down the hill down the Rue des Juifs on my way down to the centre of the town in the sun on my way to the football.

place general de gaulle Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021You can tell that the summer season has come to an end. All of the attractions that were here for the summer are disappearing one by one.

The kiddies’ roundabout that was here in the Place Charles de Gaulle throughout the summer has been dismantled and taken away. I wouldn’t have thought that a Saturday would have been a good day to remove it with the market and all of the families with children wandering around the shops.

The walk up the hill towards the football ground was tough again, although it seems that it’s a little easier than it has been just recently. Perhaps the physiotherapy is doing its job.

football us granville sologne olympique romorantinais stade louis dior Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021At the Stade Louis Dior US Granville were plaving Sologne Olympique Romorantinais.

The two teams are quite low down the table having had a poor start to the season and it didn’t go any better for Granville as they lost 1-2.

In fact Granville played quite well but they just couldn’t find the final shot on goal no matter how much of the attack that they had.

And when they did have a decent attempt on goal, a beatiful cross that split the defence, it was the attacker at the far post who ended up in the net and the ball whistled past the post. The goal that they did score was a clearance out of defence that the Granville midfield fired straight back.

Romorantan just had two shots on goal and scored tham both, which shows you just how cruel a game of football could be.

What was quite amusing was that after Granville missed their sitter at the far post, Romorantin went upfield and scored their second, and it was immediately from the kickoff that Granville scored their goal. That was a phrenetic two minutes.

birds flying over stade louis dior Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021Apart from the seagulls around here, there are quite a few colonies of songbirds in the town and one of them nestles in the row of trees behind the football ground.

As we were watching the game, the colony came home to roost in the trees, circling around above our heads as they came in to land.

It was like watching a scene from Daphne du Maurier’s THE BIRDS and Jessica Tandy ran from the flock, clutching her skirt between her legs and Alfred Hitchcock explaining to Kenneth Williams “a bird in the hand is worth two in the …”

Being stood up for a couple of hours was more exahusting than I could imagine and I’m seriosly considering taking a seat in the grandstand in future, which shows you how ill I’m feeling these days, and so even the long walk down the hill was exhausting.

marite chausiaise galeon andalucia granville victor hugo port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021The sun was going down as I staggered back up the Rue des Juifs and I was glad to get to the viewpoint overlooking the harbour where I could stop and sit on a seat and catch my breath.

The harbour gates were closed by now and everyone who was coming in home is home and tied up.

From left to right, we have Chausiaise, Marité nearest the camera, Galeon Andalucia behind her, still in port, and then Granville and Victor Hugo, the two Channel Island ferries.

repaired wall Boulevard des 2E et 202E de Ligne Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021A couple of weeks ago we witnessed them starting to repair one of the brick walls that form the capping of the retaining wall that separates the Boulevard des 2E et 202E de Ligne from the Boulevard des Terreneuviers.

The top row of capping had diappeared a while back and they had stuck some bricks on top of it. But now they have infilled and pointed the brickwork and they have done quite a decent job of it too.

The walk up to the top of the hill from here went rather easier than I was expecting and not as much of a struggle as I was fearing. To my surprise, I found that I even had some force in my right knee too.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021While I was here, a good few hours later than usual, I went to look at the beach to see what was happening.

Surprisingly there were a few people down there too, despite the lateness of the hour and the fact that it was growing dark. Trying to squeeze every last moment of what is left of the summer.

And I’m convinced that when Rosemary came to visit me a couple of years ago she hid a spy camera in this apartment.

She rang me up last weekend just as the final whistle blew on the football that I was watching on the internet, and tonight it was just as I walked through the door after the football up the road.

We had a lengthy chat as usual and as a result I’ve had no tea and I’ve done nothing at all to finish off my day.

It makes me wonder just WHEN I’m ever going to get myself up-to-date.

Sunday 29th August 2021 – I’VE HAD ANOTHER …

… big fall today. Something along the lines of when I fell a couple of years ago when I dislocated my knee and broke my hand. This time, I landed on my knee and on my elbow and I have gravel rash just about everywhere.

Whatever else I have done remains to be seen, of course but at the moment I’ve cleaned my knee and I have an antiseptic pad on my elbow.

One gets the impression that it’s not safe for me to be allowed out without a keeper.

This morning I finally had a lie-in – until all of about 09:30. It was actually rather earlier than that because someone sent me a text message round about 08:30 but if anyone thinks that I’m going to respond at that time of morning on a Sunday they are mistaken.

After the medication I came back in here to do some work but after a short while I was disturbed by a phone call. I have a appointment to see a neighbour at 14:00 but could I come now?

We had a very lengthy chat for several hours about a project that I have in mind and she gave me a load of informatio which I could put to a great deal of use.

That took me all the way up to lunch and then for the first part of this afternoon I’ve been teaching myself how to write, synchronise and add subtitles to video files. It’s rather time-consuming and took me a while to figure it out, but now everything is working exactly as it should and I’m quite pleased with what I did.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThat took me all the way up to my afternoon walk outside.

It goes without saying that the first port of call is the beach to see what is happening, so I wandered off across the car park to have a look over the wall.

There were quite a few people down there on the beach today which is no surprise as it’s about the last day of the holiday season. And chapeau to those who are going into the water because there is quite a lot of wind today and it’s really cold in all of that heavy cloud shadow.

zodiac speedboat baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhile I had one eye out on the beach, the other eye was, as usual, looking out to sea to see what I could see.

Unfortunately, there was nothing big sailing around the bay this afternoon, even though the tide was in and the harbour gates were open. All that I could see was a speedboat out at sea, and a zodiac full of fishermen hidden in the shadow of the cloud.

No sign whatsoever of Marité and La Granvillaise which is strange seeing as this is really their last opportunity to rake in the cash.

So off I set along the path, where I met my Waterloo. Face-down in the gravel and I could only just about manage to find the strength to drag myself to my feet.

It reminds me of the time that Hugh Paddick and Kenneth Williams fell overbaord from a lifeboat.
“Did you drag yourselves up?” asked Kenneth Horne
“Oh no” they replied. “We were dressed quite casually”.

belle france speedboat brittany coast baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallStaggering off down the path, covered from head to foot in dust, I went down to the end of the headland.

As I reached the end of the path by the lighthouse, aroud the headland came one of the Joly France ferries. This one is Belle France, the newest of the fleet that came in to port earlier in the summer.

The lunchtime train from Paris came in at 14:10 or thereabouts and will have brought in passengers who will be going over to the island for a out-of-season holiday. Belle France will be bringing back the people who are going to be taking the evening train to the metropolis.

Managing to keep on my feet, I tottered across the car park and down to the end of the headland. Surprisingly, there was nothing going on out in the bay around there so I headed off towards the port.

chausiase joly france ferry terminal port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere wasn’t any change in occupancy in the chantier naval today. Still the same seven boats as before.

Instead, I had a good look around the port to see what else was happening in the port. I could see Chausiaise, the Ile de Chausey freighter over there at the ferry terminal waiting for things to happen.

Behind her up against the other side of the ferry terminal is another one of the Joly France ferries. This is the more recent of the older two ferries, with the rectangular windows in “portrait” format.

galeon andalucia port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere wasn’t anything else of note happening over there so I pushed off further along the path.

The Galeon Adalucia is still there moored in the harbour. I wanted to take a photo of it today because this is possibly the last time that we shall be seeing it. Someone was telling me that she’s hitting the road tomorrow for St Brieuc.

She’s still pulling in the crowds as you can see. There are masses of people over there on the quayside taking a last look at her before she goes.

And talking of going, I’m going too, back to my apartment.

red microlight ulm place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOn the way back home I was interrupted by a familiar noise going past overhead.

Luckily I had the camera ready so I was able to snap it as it went by overhead. It’s the red microlight, or powered hang-glider or whatever she calls herself. We haven’t seen her for a good couple of days.

Back here, I paired off the tracks for the radio programme that I’ll be preparing on Monday, and the unfortunately I fell asleep for half a hour.

Plenty of stuff on the dictaphone to attract my attention today

I started off on board a ship like the THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR only this time I was someone else – a female. I had Zero with me and I wanted to see how she would respond to certain stimuli. I asked on the internet if anyone had any marijuana or cannabis to smoke and if so would they like to bring it round and share it with the 3 of us and see what happened as the drug unfolded. And I have no idea whatever about what was going on here.

There had been a few Hollywood films made with a low budget or even no budget as a strike had hit hard but all of a sudden it cleared up. This meant that this thing with Zero was back on the agenda. How it cleared up was that I was treating a girl not much older than that who had broken her hand. I was a real guessing game and I had to work it out in the end which I did, and the question of how she was going to get back to hospital. I didn’t want to run her because I was waiting to catch up my beauty sleep. It turned out that the traffic was all flowing again so she’ll get something or other (I must stop mumbling) from down the south coast for which I was grateful. She was talking about she’d rung up her brother and gave me her brother’s phone number. Luckily he answered me and said that he would come and fetch her for which I was grateful.

Later, I wanted to go and look at a car somewhere or other and asked my father to come with me. In the end he said that he would come with me one morning which meant that I’d be late for work. I took my car in to the garage and left it there. I asked them where there were any decent cars because I was retiring. He pointed to a garage about a mile down the road which I said that I knew but which occasionally had some old bangers in and a few other cars but I didn’t think that that was the kind of place that was of any interest. I went back to the office at 09:00 and my father was standing outside. We set off and somehow we ended up in this museum having a look round. We became separated and were having a look. It was pretty crowded. Then I thought “this isn’t getting anything done, is it? I’ll be without a car, I’ll be late for work, all this kind of thing”.

Now here’s a thing!

Here I am, at home on a Sunday with nothing much going on today, and I HAVEN’T had pizza for tea. So what happened there?

Yesterday, I’d taken a frozen burger in breadcrumbs out of the freezer in order to have it for tea but with Rosemary phoning me, I’d ended up missing my meal.

Meanwhile, the burger had defrosted so it needed to be eaten. There were a couple of older small potatoes hanging around so I finished off all of that with some vegetables.

So now, an early night. I need to be on form tomorrow so I don’t intend to hang around.

And any case, I’m sick to death of this keyboard.

Sunday 1st March 2020 – I’VE HAD ANOTHER …

… day without a single photograph. And, eve, worse, the first day for a month that I’ve done less than my 100% daily effort.

And one of the main reasons for that was that there wasn’t much of a day today to have a go at.

What with one thing and another, I ended up not going to bed until 03:30 this morning. I had things to do, I was on something of a roll and there was good music on my playlist. No alarm on a Sunday either.

And so consequently when I awoke at 07:50, and was even out of bed at one stage, there was no chance of that ever continuing. A much more reasonable time after a late night like that was …errr … 11:50.

Consequently, breakfast was … errr … somewhat late and then I had a look at the dictaphone. And I rather wished that I hadn’t.

Because what a nightmare that was! I was in West London and I’d fallen in with a family a bit like one that I knew once in Scotland, pretty undisciplined and wild with loads of kids. When we got to their house there were dogs overrunning the house – 20 or 30 dogs. Absolutely terrible. You coudn’t do anything for dogs barking and jumping up at you, all this kind of thing. In the middle Keith Emerson came in for a piano lesson as the guy who was running the house was teaching him to play the piano. That just made the whole thing wilder. I don’t think that i’ve ever been in a house so dirty and disgusting, especially when I’ve been in a dream, something like that. An old school friend was there. There was a TV going in the background and the woman came down and told Liz off about turning on the TV, quite bossy about it and switched off the TV. And on and on went this dream
A little later last night I was walking with one of my nieces through London. She was having a row with her mother about doing something about estate agents. There were a lot of properties that needed some kind of descriptive sheet drawn up. She was saying that some kind of things were not needed but her mother was saying that she did and there was this talk about it. The girl came out with this “well I don’t care what Northern people have to say. It’s not how it’s done”. We were walking over this huge railway arch overbridge type of place. We could see railway lines that kind of thing below us heading towards London docks. We were walking through the streets and somehow she and I became separated, I was on my own. Someone touched me on the shoulder, a young guy. He said “you know all about this agency thing don’t you?” I said yes so he said “do you know what it is that the mother wants?” “yes, it’s like ‘this apartment is in a sunny situation, one bedroom, fitted kitchen’ that kind of thing of descriptive”. So he handed me a couple of forms and said “could you write them out for these places?” I noticed that there were three or four other people near me who were doing the same thing so I had to write out a descriptive for these flats. The first one was at the address where my aunt lived, a flat in her building. I said “God, how strange” but no-one seemed to pick up on that so I said it again and again but no-one seemed to pick up on it so I made a start. Someone else was writing something and saying “I wonder if she’s going to get much work done on her place?” I replied that I knew the apartment because my Aunt lives in the building there. They are allowed to work on the interior but not on the exterior. A guy said “yes, that’s right. That’s how I had my place – it was like that as well”.
One of the people in the previous dream came out with the old Kenneth Williams “I’m Alan Watermain and I’m bursting with indignation at having to do this”
I was in Granville again later on and it was the Carnival parade and everyone had to interview the owners of the floats. I’d interviewed a few and one or two other people but someone was having no luck at all. In the end he just stopped broadcasting so he had to fill in all of the events. One of the questions that we asked was “what brought you to Canada?” and they recited a bit of their history and that sort of thing. Anyway this drifted on into the night. Next minute I was up early and started to ring people again. They were looking for me on the radio – they had a TV monitor that they used to zoom into the crowds. Eventually they picked me up and used various hand gestures as I was having to take things easy myself otherwise I’ll be creating these people with all their health issues. They asked me what I was doing, so I told them that I was still hunting for people to talk to the radio.
I fell asleep again while I was dictating a dream, this one about the circus procession thing. I probably mentioned about how the French were no good at building up the tension – they were good at reporting on the actual events but didn’t have very much idea about setting the scene or building up the tension, anything like that.

So I don’t have a clue about any of that.

There was still time for me to attack one of the digital files to split that into its components, and that’s one that will have to be done because the tape seems to have been damaged – there’s a frequent blip that appears at regular intervals right through it as if the tape has been pierced at one point.

Caliburn and I hit the streets and headed for Brehal-Plage. One of the guys from the radio lives there and we had some things to talk about – making plans and all of that. Just because things aren’t going our way right now, that’s no reason to down our tools. I have plenty of ideas and if the loud-mouth in the “team” (a phrase which I use very carefully) doesn’t like our ideas then we quite simply won’t seek his approval and by-pass this selection “committee” upon which he sits. We’ll just plough our own lonely furrow.

From there, I went to Roncey. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that last Sunday it was my birthday and I had been invited for a birthday tea to Liz and Terry’s. However, I had to skip it because of this debâcle in which I was involved and so I was invited today instead.

We had a really good chat and I discussed one of my projects, which will (hopefully) involve Liz and STRAWBERRY MOOSE – but that’s not going to happen any time soon unfortunately, due to various things getting in the way.

Tea was delicious. We had a dahl – a lentil curry with garlic naam bread followed by apple crumble and custard. Even better, there was plenty left for a doggy bag to bring home.

And best of all, Liz produced a chocolate and orange cake as a special birthday treat and I shall be trying that as soon as I can.

On the way home, the heavens opened and Caliburn was drenched. And if that wasn’t enough, I went over a speed bump and the passenger-side mirror glass fell out of its surround and broke.

So bed-time now, and tomorrow I shall be back at work. I have my travel arrangements to make and a few other bits and pieces to do too, as well as organising the music for the next series of music programmes.

It’s all go here, isn’t it? But at least there is cake.

Friday 25th October 2019 – I’M ALL …

… alone here tonight. And I will be for the next couple of weeks too.

Strawberry Moose has gone off on his travels again to see some more of his fans.

No-one is quite sure when he’ll be back again but I bet that he will have a few stories to tell me when he returns. It’s all right for some, isn’t it though? Some of us have to stay behind and work for a living.

Not that you would notice, though, around here. Despite the three alarms going off this morning, it was still 07:40 when I finally hauled myself out of bed.

But then I’d had another late night (albeit not as late as the other night) scratching my head over this blasted Javascript menu. I told you last night when I wrote my blog that I was a just a couple of inches away from a breakthrough. And so by the time that I went to bed I must have advanced about half a millimetre.

It wasn’t all work though. TOTGA was on-line so we had a good chat for an hour or so too. It’s been ages since we had a really good chin-wag and it was nice to hear her dulcet tones again.

The purpose of my chat was to try to persuade her to come and join in the fun in Leuven. But without success. “A Prior engagement” she said. Not like Kenneth Williams who once turned down an invitation on the grounds of “a subsequent engagement”, so I suppose that I ought to be thankful for that at least.

So this morning after the medication and breakfast, I had a stinking hot shower and then dashed round to tidy everywhere up. I was expecting visitors and the place was something of a tip with my having unpacked a l’improviste.

By the time that Liz and Terry turned up, the place was looking something like, and they could at least sit down.

We had a coffee and a good chat about this and that – not about the other because that is of course sub judice right now – and I told them of my (mis)adventures on my voyage just now.

I’d mentioned it to TOTGA last night and she told me that she had never heard me talk like I did at that moment (which is not really true because she remembers me when I was someone else, although she was only a kid at the time) so I made an effort to restrain myself (something that doesn’t come easily to me, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall) when talking to Liz.

Nevertheless Liz was rather aghast. Not that this means that she was surprised. She used to be a primary school teacher in a deprived area of the UK so she’s seen human nature at its worst, but I suppose that with the voyage being as expensive as it was, we both expected a better class of person with a better standard of behaviour.

So they wandered off and I sat down to crack on with my Javascript menu. I forgot about my additional walk.

By 16:00 I had made a breakthrough – of sorts. I can now make Javascript tags pick up web pages on my own site but not on an external site. Still, it’s progress of a sort and it means that I can go onwards.

To celebrate, I made lunch. Yes – at 16:00 because I had forgotten earlier, being engrossed. And it was something of a disappointment because the bread that I had left in the ice compartment of the fridge and which I had taken out to defrost – well, it wasn’t very good at all and it all ended up in the bin.

But it’s Saturday tomorrow and I’m going for a walk to LIDL where I can buy some more.

Not wishing to forget another walk, I nipped out straight afterwards for a lap around the headland and then back to carry on with my menu.

And, as is quite often the case, the simplest solutions are usually the correct one. I was struggling away for quite a while trying to work out how to display a vertical line. ASCII codes, ALT codes and all of that didn’t work, so in a moment of despair, I tried
document.write( ‘|’);
and much to my surprise, it actually worked. And I’d wasted an hour or so on it too.

Another thing that I tried to do was to figure out how to make a space in Javascript. Once again, after much binding in the marsh, I tried the simple
document.write( ‘ ‘);
and that worked too.

After that, passing onto a new line was easy. Yes. I tried
document.write(‘br /’);
and that just printed out the br /. So I tried
putting the br / bit in the “greater than” and “less that” brackets, and that worked just fine.

There’s probably a far easier method to do it all, but at least I know that what I’ve programmed seems to work well enough for now. And having it all saved in an external file, I only need to update it once for it to update on every page on my site.

Just two tasks to work out now.

The simplest one is how to access an external page via a Javascript link. I’m hoping that that won’t be too difficult, but knowing me, it probably will.

More difficult will be the task of nesting Javascript files. I want to make a sidebar file with the menu, the hit counter, the stats analyser and the Amazon blocks in it. Then I can just import the main Javascript file into every page on my site with all of the subsidiary blocks in it, and an amendment to the main Javascript file will make the amendment on every page.

Iframes or *.php would ordinarily be the answer, but Secured sites won’t display iframes and I know nothing about *.php, and at my age I’m too old to learn this kind of thing.

Talking of being too old, I went for my evening walk around the city walls and at one stage broke into a run. I kept it up for a couple of hundred metres too.

That surprised me immensely, because regular readers of this rubbish will recall that after my operation in January 2016 when they ripped out half of my insides, I couldn’t even walk and had to have re-education.

It really impressed me, that little bit of running did. Maybe it’s something to do with losing all of this weight. I dunno.

This evening I carried on with the Javascript menu, listening to a couple of really belting albums. Elegy by the Nice was the first one. No relation to Grey’s “Allergy to a Country Churchyard”, it’s one of the all-time classic albums that will always be on my playlist.

The second is much more exciting. One of the ones that I picked up in Ottawa.

After Arthur Brown disappeared from “The Crazy World of …”, Vincent Crane and Carl Palmer recruited a couple of new musicians and carried on as “Atomic Rooster”. Palmer left to join ELP, but Crane struggled on for quite a while, with a revolving door of new members and mental health breakdowns until he committed suicide in 1989.

In 1980, during one of their more active periods, they played at the Marquee Club in London. No bassist – and no vocalist either, so the guitarist John Du Cann sang on the vocal tracks. And while he will be the first to admit that he’s no vocalist, he gave it a really good go and the energy and enthusiasm that roared off the stage on Live at The Marquee 1980 is absolutely phenomenal.

But now it’s bed-time. And I have a lot to do tomorrow. All on foot too!

And I almost forgot to say “hello” to Pollux who put in an appearance during the night. First time for a while too.

Saturday 5th October 2019 – I’VE BEEN …

… a very busy boy today.

And that’s hardly a surprise because I had, for the first time since I don’t know when, had a really good sleep last night and I’ve not yet set foot outside the house.

A few items on the dictaphone, although what there is I really don’t know. And I was up and about by 06:40 too.

Rachel and Amber went to work this morning so I decided on a day off. A leisurely breakfast and a long chat with Hannah and our visitor and then I cracked on to work, with just a brief interruption for lunch.

During the course of the day, people were coming and going but I paid no attention whatever and by the time supper was served, I’d finished all of the blog entries for July (including the missing one when I was ill) and most of them for August too. There are only three or four that need to be added, I reckon.

And those that are there make interesting reading. As Kenneth Williams once famously said, “I’m often taken aback by my own brilliance”.

Or, as the Duke of Wellington once remarked about the Battle of Waterloo and which sums up my voyage completely – “By God! I don’t think it would have been done if I had not been there”.

But now Amber is down with the dreaded lurgy. It’s doing the rounds here so I’ll probably catch it the evening that I’m due to catch my bus back to Montreal.

A brief interruption though. US Granville’s match against C Chartres Football was televised this evening and I managed to catch the second half.

Hannah and her friend Journee made tea tonight. For we vegans, she made a stir-fry tofu in a creamy vegan sauce with pasta, and it was absolutely delicious. She followed that up with some vegan muffins that she had found in the Atlantic Superstore and which I will be visiting again.

So it’s bedtime now. No alarm and a day of rest. I’m going to be attacking the rear of Strider and empty out some of the stuff that I fetched back from Montreal. Some is for Darren, some is for Zoe and the rest is for filing under CS.

See you in the morning.

Sunday 18th November 2018 – AS KENNETH WILLIAMS …

brocante cours jonville granville manche normandy france… and Alfred Hitchcock once famously said, “it’s a waste of time telling jokes to foreigners”.

There I was, down at the brocante this afternoon admiring the head of a wild boar affixed to the side of a van. So I went up to the stallholder and asked him “don’t you find it rather inconvenient when you are loading up your van?”
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“Having the body of that wild boar going crossways across the van. Doesn’t it interfere with the loading?”
So he looked at me with a rather bewildered look in his eye.

As for other matters however, waking up at 03:45 didn’t help me very much last night.

And neither did 04:40. Or 05:40. Or 06:45. but 07:45 I’d had enough though and couldn’t go back to sleep, so at 08:20 I was up and about.

I’d been away during the night though – to see a former friend of mine in Stoke on Trent (and it’s a long time since he’s appeared in one of my voyages, isn’t it?). I was walking down a street that bore more than just a passing resemblance to Coleridge Way in Crewe. I arrived at his house and had to walk in the street as the pavement was blocked by two huge Jaguar Mark X cars of the like that we saw the other day. One of these two was silver and the other one was red like the Daimler that I owned. Up his drive I walked and couldn’t quite get into his garage because there was a third Mark X Jag blocking the entrance. He was inside the garage, sweeping the floor and fixing something. I noticed that his inspection pit had been filled in and the floor of the garage had been painted red. He told me that I shouldn’t have come down to the garage without letting him know I was coming, but I go the impression that he was implying that I shouldn’t come down to his house at all.
A little later, I was thinking about buying a new coach. I needed to think about what I wanted and to see a few examples, so I asked a (female) friend who lived near a coach sales place to see what they had for sale. She was thinking that she would have to buy it for me but I explained that all that she needed to do was to look at it, see if the body had any rust on it or something like that.

With a rather late, leisurely breakfast, I didn’t do all that much this morning. However, that didn’t prevent me from changing the habits of a lifetime and actually doing some tidying up in the bedroom. Putting away a pile of papers that have been loitering around here for a while.

Another thing that I have done too was to change the plug over on the record deck. There was a British plug on it but if I’m going to use it here, which I shall do in early course, it needs a French plug on it. And looking for something else yesterday, I came across a couple doing nothing very much.

Once that was working, I had a play around with Audacity – the audio program that I used to use to edit my live tracks for the radio program. I’ll be using this to record all of my LPs and I need to make sure that I can remember what to do.

After lunch (and wasn’t my home-made hummus delicious?), I went for a walk down into town. No football today. It’s Cup week and all of the local clubs have been eliminated.

new dock gates port de granville harbour manche normandy franceI retraced my steps from yesterday and went down the steps to the Rue du Port. And then across the road and onto the docks again right by the fish-processing plant.

However the tide was in so the harbour gates were open. I couldn’t come across to the other side but instead it gave me an opportunity to photograph then.

You’ll remember that I took a photograph of them while they were closed yesterday.

gravel port de granville harbour manche normandy franceWhile I was down there in the beautiful sunny afternoon I took the opportunity to have a good mooch around the fish docks for a while and take a few photos

The pile of gravel down at the edge of the quayside is now growing rather quickly. It looks as if we will be having a visit of the gravel boat quite soon.

She’s not been here for a while.

railway tracks port de granville harbour manche normandy franceOn my way down into the town centre I had a good look at the old railway track embedded on the quayside.

In an early photograph that I had seen, there had been something that looked as if it might have been a broad-gauge rail-mounted crane.

And on closer inspection, what this looks like to me is not, as I had originally thought, a double-track line, but a single-track railway in the centre. The two outer rails are raised slightly higher than the two rails in the centre, so I reckon that they might well be rails for a crane.

I’ll have to find an imperial tape measure and go down to measure the gauge. That will tell me what I need to know.

The stupid, ignorant racists from Britain First are launching a campaign to boycott the Subway chain of sandwich restaurants because they are offering halal food in certain outlets.

It’s all quite reminiscent of the Nazi boycott of Jewish shops in the 1930s – and they say that they aren’t racists!

shaun the sheep subway granville manche normandy franceBut here, our local Subway is offering a promotion involving that famous cartoon character Shaun the Sheep.

I wonder if it is he who is rotating on the skewer. And whether he has been killed humanely.

It does rather remind me of the story of Larry the Lamb and when the BBC abandoned the series.

When they came to sell off the assets of the programme, someone asked how much they had received for Larry the Lamb.
“Three and six a pound” was the reply.

Something similar happened when they stopped “Children’s Playtime” on the BBC.
Someone asked “what did they get for Muffin the Mule?”
“Eighteen months” was the reply.

Back here later, I organised a few photos on the internet and then did some more work on Day Three of the High Arctic. As well as a little … errr … repose.

Tea was a vegan pizza of course, and it all worked out rather well. One of the better ones that I’ve done.

Back out tonight for my walk around the headland and I was the only one there. Hardly surprising because it’s freezing outside. Well, 6°C actually, but that’s still the coldest that it’s been so far this half of the year.

Winter has definitely arrived.

marite port de granville harbour manche normandy france
The sailing ship Marité in the harbour in the Port of Granville

port de granville harbour manche normandy france
The harbour and port and the walled town of Granville

eglise notre dame de cap lihou granville manche normandy france
Eglise Notre Dame de Cap Lihou in the walled town of Granville.

marite la granvillaise port de granville harbour manche normandy france
The sailing ships Marité and the little La Granvillaise mooored here in the harbour of the port of Granville.

Sunday 2nd September 2018 – HAVING GONE WEST …

… yesterday, I was hoping that we would be emulating Richard Barnes today and, getting rather tired of Southern Comfort we would “Go North”.

early morning plane landing edmonton airport canadaAnd it must be my really bad conscience telling me something, or else the tension has totally swept me away, Or else it was the early night. But I was wide-awake at 02:25 this morning, looking at the aircraft coming into land at the airport.

By 04:00 I was out of bed working, having given up the idea of sleep a long time previously. I really need to do something about this otherwise I’m going to have a catastrophe.

After all of the alarms had rung, I went and had a good shower. And gathered up all my things.

Luckily, at the check-out I managed to locate a coffee machine so I was able to fuel up. Maybe I’ll feel a little more like it when it starts to work. Who knows?

At the baggage check-in at the airport I noticed that I’m definitely losing my touch. My suitcase weighed a mere 16.6 kgs and that included Strawberry Moose. It’s not like me at all. I could have taken a couple of extra children in my baggage allowance.

Security was another total farce. We had probably the surliest member of the Canadian Government Service that I have ever encountered (and I’ve encountered a few, believe me, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall).

And then my boots rang the alarm bells at the barrier so I was told (not asked, told) to take them off. And so I made an acerbic remark about the fact that I’d rather take my chances with the freedom fighters than the Security Services, which led to my being “selected for special screening”.

The guy then couldn’t make the explosives detector work so I sat down on his table to rest, to which he took a great deal of exception. My response was that I wasn’t going to hang around like this while he messed around with all of his useless equipment, and we had something of a stand-off as I dug my heels in.

In the end, I was waved through, but not before they confiscated my bottle of water. For some reason or another they took exception to my book too and we had a little argument about that as well.

I really don’t know what’s the matter with these people. It’s almost as if they go around looking for a fight. So the best that I can do is to make their day and oblige them.

While I was sitting down, I started to make a list of the things that I don’t remember packing. I can see it being another one of THOSE voyages. And I must remember to find a large bin-liner in which to wrap His Nibs, otherwise he’ll be rather wet.

bae 146 avro rj85 rj100 canada september septembre 2018Our aeroplane is one of the old British Aerospace BAe146 voriants, either an Avro RJ85 or an RJ100, and the only way to tell them apart withour a tape measure is to have one standing alongside another.

You can tell from the registration number too, but I can’t see it on my photo. It’s a charter flight operated by a company based in Yellowknife and there weren’t all that many people on it, which makes me think that it might be an RR100.

I ended up sharing a row of seats with an elderly British lady who has lived in Canada for 75 years, and a rather garrulous British guy who had clearly had more than just a whiff of the barmaid’s apron.

A meal was supplied on the flight and I was rather dubious about whether it was really as vegan as it was supposed to be.

After a nice relaxing flight we came in to land at Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories for a refuelling stop.

That’s a decision that seemed to me at the time to be a rather strange decision, knowing the likely range of a BAe 146. And the cynic inside me was not assuaged by the news that we received here.

It seems that, once more, we had been confounded by the weather. Instead of blowing stuff away from us, is blowing stuff towards us and blocking our passage, which can be very painful if you have forgotten to bring your ointment.

The bad weather conditions mean that we can’t go on yet again, and we are now stranded here in Yellowknife for a while. Looking at the positives, because I need to adopt a more positive outlook, at least, I can say that at 62°27N this is the farthest north point that I have ever reached, beating Finland 1981 by a good 100 or so miles.

But will we make it any farther north?

That positive outlook didn’t last very long, did it?

While things are being organised, I went for a walk outside the airport.

Straight away, I stumbled across a paid of really old Douglas DC3 “Dakotas” parked up at the end of the runway. I knew that there were some that had been abandoned here but I didn’t think that I would be lucky enough to find them.

douglas dakota dc3 c-gpnr buffalo air yellowknife canada september septembre 2018This one here is registration number C-GPNR and it was apparently built in 1942, construction number 13333 and ex-USAAF serial 42-93423.

It’s a DC3-S1C3G variant, which seems to indicate to me that it’s fitted with two 895-kW Pratt and Whitney R-1830-S1C3G Twin Wasp radials rated at at 1200hp, so it’s much more powerful than the versions fitted with Wright Cyclone engines.

But it doesn’t look as if it will be going very far in the near future as from what I can see, its last airworthiness certificate that I could find expired on 23rd May 1996

douglas dakota dc3 cf-cue buffalo air yellowknife canada september septembre 2018This one is a Douglas C47 version – the Skytrain – of the DC3 Dakota.

Her registration number is C-FCUE, built in 1942 as construction number 12983 and fitted with two Pratt & Whitney R-1830-92 Twin Wasp radial engines. It’s claimed to be the first aeroplane to have landed in Yellowknife and can count among its celebrated passengers the Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.

It’s also been suggested and one very vocal local yokel told me that one of these two aircraft was involved in the D-Day landings in Normandy in June 1944

But it’s a shame to see them here slowly disappearing into the landscape like this. Someone ought to do something about saving them.

There’s another aeroplane here too, away in the distance. This one is on display on a plinth. Yet another obliging local told me that this was the first aeroplane to have landed on the North Pole and so I went to see that too.

arctic fox bristol mk31 freighter north pole yellowknife airport canada september septembre 2018And, lo and behold, it’s Arctic Fox, registration CF-TFX.

She’s a Bristol Mk31 freighter and you will have to look long and hard to find another one of these aeroplanes anywhere in the world because there can’t be more than a dozen remaining.

She was built in 1953 to a wartime design as a freighter as you can tell from the clamshell front doors for transporting machinery and vehcles.

arctic fox bristol mk31 freighter north pole yellowknife airport canada september septembre 2018She was bought by Wardair in 1958 and used for the transportation of freight around the North-West Territories.

But her claim to fame is much more important and personal than that, because she was the first ever wheeled aeroplane to land at the North Pole, a feat that she accomplished on 5th May 1967 under the control of a pilot called Don Braun.

It was purchased from Wardair in 1968 and installed here as a monument on 22nd June 1968

I went back to the airport afterwards to see what was going on, and eventually we were picked up by a shuttle bus and driven to our hotel. We’re staying in the Days Inn in the centre of the new town, up on the hill.

And much to my surprise, I don’t seem to be alone.

The Vanilla Queen, whom I mentioned yesterday and who is named for all those of you who know your Dutch rock music from the early 1970s – is the Québecoise who was on my plane from Montreal to Edmonton yesterday. She was then in the hotel last night, again on the ‘plane this morning, now on my shuttle bus and she’s staying in my hotel.

We had a lengthy chat and what she told me caused me to give her all of my adulation. She comes from Montreal, south of the river, and had the urge to go to live in the Arctic. So one day, she just upped sticks and moved to Iqaluit, the principal town on Baffin Island, beyond the Arctic Circle.

And how I admire people like that who have that kind of courage.

She’s a hair stylist (NOT a hairdresser) by profession, so I joked that she would have loads of fun trying to do something with what remains of the hair that I still have.

For lunch I wandered off into town and came across a Subway. That’ll do me nicely.

demolition of old wooden building yellowknife north west territories canada september septembre 2018But not before I’d witnessed the total demolition of an old wooden building here.

Half of the town was out watching it, and I thought that it was the highlight of the year, but it turns out that it was a silent protest as almost everyone in the community was up in arms about the whole affair.

Mind you, someone whom I met later said that in her opinion it was a derelict wreck and about time that it went.

On the way back I noticed a sign saying that the town had been built on the oldest rocks yet known in the world,, so I recounted to one of the officials on our voyage the story of the rocks being 4,000,004 years and three months old.

But as Alfred Hitchcock and Kenneth Williams once so famously remarked “it’s a waste of time telling jokes to foreigners”.

great slave lake yellowknife north west territory canada september septembre 2018A little later, there was a guided tour of the town organised so I leapt on board. And so did The Vanilla Queen, and we had quite another chat.

I was expecting to see the sewage farm, the rubbish dump and the brand-new bicycle rack but instead we ended up on the rock at the Bush Pilots’ Memorial where there’s a magnificent view over Yellowknife Bay on the Great Slave Lake.

It was well-worth the climb because You could see for miles from up here over some really beautiful views.

modern town yellowknife north west territories canada september septembre 2018Yellowknife is actually two towns in one.

The original settlement that was founded in the 1930s is down by the lake but when the North West Territories were incorporated in 1967 and the region’s administrative offices were located here, these buildings were constructed up on the hill away from the water.

A modern town, complete with all facilities, to house the staff who came here with the Government grew up around the buildings. Today, about 20,000 people live here.

hotchy yellowknife northwest territories canada september septembre 2018We walked back down the hill towards town in the company of another couple of people who had spent some time in the town and who knew their way around.

There were several exciting things to see on the way down, including this little photo prop at the side of the road.

It’s the kind of thing that is always worth a good photo opportunity

ad hoc sculptures yellowknife north west territories canada september septembre 2018On our way again, we hadn’t gone all that far when we were sidetracked by some of the most extraordinary people you would ever wish to meet.

Down at the edge of the lake we ended up at the old original settlement of the town. Here we met a guy who makes sculptures by collecting all kinds of abandoned objects and balancing them on top of each other.

Having lived here for a considerable number of years, he told us a whole host of interesting and exciting stories about life down here.

houseboats great slave lake yellowknife north west territories canada september septembre 2018He also pointed out a route along the lake shore where we could see many interesting things, such as house boats that float on large iron pontoons.

Rents in the town are quite expensive, but the lake is actually outside the city boundary so people can live here on a houseboat without paying rent or any local authority charges.

This can on occasion lead to quite a considerable amount of controversy. There are of course no services available to those who live in the houseboats and so they take advantage of those available in the town – without usually paying for them of course.

jolliffe island houseboats great slave lake yellowknife great slave lake canada september septembre 2018Many of the local residents and indeed the town council are none-too-happy about this situation and on quite a few occasions the farces of law and order have been involved.

Access to the houseboats is of course by boat during the summer but in the winter the lake freezes over and access is on foot.

And the ice on the lake is so solid that residents can even bring their vehicles right up to the front door.

ragged ass road yellowknife north west territories canada september septembre 2018One of the most famous roads in the town is called Ragged Ass Road.

When the access to the waterfront properties was by water, what is now known as Ragged Ass Road was the rear limit of the properties and at was against this line that all of the outside toilets of the residents were situated.

However there are some people who reckon that this story is at best apocryphal.

Another famous street in the town is Lois Lane. In case you haven’t guessed, one of the houses in the street was for a number of years the home of the actress Margaret (Margot) Kidder.

While we were down in Ragged Ass Road we met a woman who told us that she was a computer programmer and that she had developed the computer program that Sue was using on her tablet.

international harvester r150 yellowknife northwest territories canada september septembre 2018In the garden of a house right by where we were talking, there were a couple of abandoned lorries.

I thought that this one was exciting. It’s an International Harvester R150 that was gradually being overwhelmed by Arctic Willow.

This is quite a rare vehicle because as far as I could discover, they were only made from 1953 to 1955. The whole range totalled about 250,000 of which well over half related to just one model, the R110.

air compressor tools and drills yellowknife northwest territories canada september septembre 2018That wasn’t all that was exciting around here either.

This is an old mining area and as well as the old Ingersoll Rand air compressor that was lying around, there were loads of old air tools and machinery lying around too.

Someone had taken full advantage of all of these to create a very interesting art-deco sculpture that spanned several gardens in the street.

gold miners cabin yellowknife northwest territories canada september septembre 2018I mentioned that the original site of the town was down here on the waterfront.

It consisted of loads of of old ad-hoc wooden cabins assembled by the miners who came here in the late 1930s in search of the gold that had been discovered in the area in 1934.

There are still a few of the original cabins remaining and this was pointed out to us as being one of them.

Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre yellowknife northwest territories canada september septembre 2018By now our little group of people had whittled itself down to just two of us and so we wandered off to the museum of local life, the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre.

This was certainly quite an interesting place and there were lots to see. We certainly learnt a great deal about local life amongst the indigenous people.

I was very keen on the Polar Bears while The Vanilla Queen fell in love with a stuffed Muskox.

parliament building council offices yellowknife northwest territories canada september septembre 2018The Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre is situated in a very beautiful location on the edge of the city in a small park, in the same area where the Parliament of the Northwest Territories is situated.

We still had plenty of time after the museum closed and so we were able to admire the Government Offices in all their glory in the evening sunshine.

This isn’t the kind of traditional view that you would associate with life on the tundra so close to the Arctic Circle.

Our evening meal at the hotel across the road had been put back by half an hour and so we had plenty of time left on our hands. But there was a beautiful lake at the back of that hotel which looked very inviting so we went for a walk.

And I must have been very distracted because I don’t seem to have taken any photos of it. I’m sure that that can’t be right.

inuit throat singing yellowknife northwest territories canada september septembre 2018We had a nice buffet tea, with plenty of choice even for me which makes a nice change.

And after tea, we were entertained by some Inuit throat musicians giving a fine demonstration of their art. It was certainly different.

But the procedure was interrupted by an announcement from the admin of our trip that with a change in the direction of the wind we are going to try to go on tomorrow. But to where, we really don’t have much of an idea

So off we traipsed to our hotel and bed. Alarm calls at 04:00 and on the bus at 05:00

And where will we be stranded tomorrow?

Thursday 28th June 2018 – HAVING BOMBED …

lech austria june juin 2018… on Tuesday night with my choice of sleeping accommodation, I can say without any fear of contradiction that I more than made up for it last night.

The issue of the plug for the slow cooker not working is a minor inconvenience really. The rest of it scored a good 11 out of 10 and I’ll be back here again.

I’m not sure who or what awoke me at 04:30 but it was nothing to do with the hotel.

At one moment or another I’d been off on my travels. With a friend of mine (who shall remain nameless) where I was invited to a meal given by a friend of hers. Not long after I’d ordered my meal, the person whose party it was started passing round some literature and seeking orders. It turned out that they were all “Biffers” and this was all about freeing their friends who had been imprisoned. Of course, I had no wish to associate myself with them, so I was all for walking out. But as I’d ordered my meal already, I was wondering if I should go and sit on a separate table. But I didn’t want to embarrass my friend.

lech austria june juin 2018After a shower I did some work on the laptop until breakfast time when I went downstairs to try out the delicious bread.

My landlady’s story was quite interesting. She’d come from Australian a back-packing holiday, run out of money and so had found a job as a chambermaid in Lech. Here, she had met a local boy and the rest is history.

She’d never seen snow before she came here, and neither had her family when they arrived for the wedding. And so, in June, they had a snowstorm on her wedding day.

“A real white wedding”, I told her.

lech austria june juin 2018After I’d finished my work, I went for a walk around the town to see what was going on.

I didn’t manage to make it out there last night and I was keen to take a few photographs to show you what you are missing.

It really is one of the most beautiful places on the planet, and I’d be happy to come to live here permanently.

old car lech austria june juin 2018And not for nothing am I here in Lech this morning. Today is the start of a vintage vehicle rally here in Lech and there are all types of old cars on parade in the town.

Ordinarily, every one of the 50 or so that I saw would have made it onto this page but I really was spoilt for choice. But you’ll have to make do with seeing a select few until I have more time to sit down and expand my notes.

After all, it’s not very easy doing this kind of thing when you are limited to irregular hotel internet connections and timed-out motorway service providers.

strawberry moose lech austria june juin 2018One thing that we do have to do is to give Strawberry Moose a suitable photo opportunity.

It’s not every day that he visits his favourite town in Europe and so it deserves to be recorded for posterity.

No camping allowed here in Lech, but that’s not a problem for him, although it might explain why Kenneth Williams and Hugh Paddick never visited the area.

strawberry moose der lecher lech austria june juin 2018His Nibs has only been here for 12 hours or so, but he’s already opened his own taxi business as you can see. It didn’t take him long to get his feet firmly planted under the table here.

Set up for life with a vehicle like this.

Lech, by the way, is twinned with the town of Beaver Creek in the USA, and you can make of that what you like.

Despite having come here on a few previous occasions, I’d never been right through and out of the other side of the town.

And with the urging of the Lady Who Lives In The SatNav, I set off northwards.

hochtannberg pass tyrol austria june juin 2018A little diversion was called for though.

There’s a back road that goes out to Bregenz (and had I known how this story was to unfold I’d have gone out that way) where there’s a mountain pass, the Hochtannberg Pass at 1675 metres, that I hadn’t climbed before.

There are dozens of photos going back to the 70s of all kinds of various vehicles photographed on the top of various mountain passes, and we are putting together a little collection of Caliburn there too.

But there wasn’t any parking here to make a really good photograph of Caliburn. A quick flash at the side of the road in between the traffic had to suffice.

hochtannberg pass tyrol austria june juin 2018But the view westwards was quite impressive too. And you can see what a magnificent area this is and why I was so happy to come here, even though the clouds were closing in rapidly.

It was round about here that I started to have the feeling that it wasn’t going to be my day.

And as I retraced my steps in the general direction of Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Oberammergau, a few drops of rain started to fall on the windscreen.

By the time I reached the German border the torrential rain was lashing down on everything in sight.

Considering the tropical weather that we had been having up to that point on this journey, this was quite a surprise. It put paid to any plans that I had to go sightseeing.

kloster ettal abbey germany june juin 2018There was however a small town along the route that was crammed full of tourists and it was here that I stopped to pick up some bread.

But do you know – I forgot to make a note of where I was so I can’t tell you anything about it.

I shall have to do some more research in due course when I update this page.

For lunch, I pulled over onto a layby at the side of the road. And here, shame as it is to say it, I fell asleep for a while. I’m not doing too well am I, these days?

This made me run quite late and what with all of the roadworks on the A95 (I decided to fahr’n fahr’n fahr’n down the autobahn after all in an attempt to make up the time) I hit Munich just in time for the start of the rush hour.

And having come from the south, I ended up straight in the city centre too. It was this point that I’d wished that I had come in from Bregenz on the south-west and hit the ring road instead.

As a result, the last 19kms of my journey took me 90 minutes and had I not performed a marvellous “taxi-driver’s creep” on a bright red Audi estate, much to my pleasure and his chagrin (he had a beautiful set of motor horns), I would probably be still stuck in Munich right now.

But it seems that The lady Who Lives In The Satnav doesn’t understand grade-separated junctions. A couple of times now she’s wanted me to turn right onto a road that’s 300 feet below the viaduct over which I’m driving. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

With me being so late, I’d missed the vegan shop around the corner from Hans so tea ended up being chips and salad from the beer garden next door.

Later that evening, Hans (who runs a whisky importing business) was having a tasting evening with 10 invited guests.

Everyone seemed to be having a really good time which was just as well. For me, I don’t drink alcohol and even when I did I couldn’t abide the smell, never mind the taste, of the stuff.

But good luck to those who do.

And so with the place smelling like a Babylonian boozer’s bedroom, I settled down for the night on one of the most comfortable sofas in the world.

And here I intend to sleep right through until I awaken.

Friday 9th June 2017 – HOPPED OUT OF BED …

… nice and early, long before the alarm.

“Up (one, two) Down (one, two)”. Right, and now the other sock.

Yes, have to keep myself fit and active.

An early breakfast followed by some work on the computer, and then at 09:00 precisely, off to the LeClerc. I didn’t need much but still, it’s nice to get out and about.

On the way there we had an exciting moment when a Belgian motorist, seeing me coming, simply pulled out to pass a parked lorry. We aren’t having any of that so I blocked him off and made him reverse backwards. As he finally retreated and I ended up alongside him, I wound down my window and gave him a volley of verbal abuse, in Flemish.

Not for nothing did I spend a year living in Leuven.

You may or may not know this, but there were no driving tests in Belgium until 1973. You simply applied for a driving licence and you were given it. The driver was certainly old enough not to have taken a test. There’s the old French joke about Belgian driving licences being given away in packets of crisps and that’s certainly the case here.

At the LeClerc, we had another one of those “moments”. A woman was loading a pile of bread into her trolley.
“All you need now are two loaves and a pot of tea for 5,000” said our hero gallantly
The woman replied “What?”.
As Alfred Hitchcock once famously said to Kenneth Williams “it’s a waste of time trying to tell jokes to foreigners”.

LUnchtime was on the wall on the clifftop overlooking the harbour. It was really warm and beautiful out there. So much so that back here, for the first time, I felt hot in my apartment. I had to open all of the windows to make a current of air circulate through. If the sun can heat up solid granite walls one metre thick, then it must have been warm.

But it cooled down rapidly in the evening and I had to go round and close everything a little later.

An early night now after my beans, sausage and chips. And I’ll see you all in the morning … "not if we see you first" – ed.

Wednesday 29th March 2017 – THE LADY WHO LIVES IN THE SAT-NAV …

… has her head screwed on properly, that’s for sure. Because she’s brought me to another place that was high on my list of places to visit. And so that’s another one crossed off my list.

But first of all, I had a reasonable sleep in a nice comfortable bed even though I was tossing and turning a little for some time during the night. And then after a leisurely breakfast and some work on the laptop, I hit the road.

First stop was for fuel. I found a place selling diesel at €1:17 a litre, which is the cheapest that I have been able to find for a while, and then back on the road I picked up the signs for “Fontevraud”

What’s at Fontevraud is the Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud, and this is quite an interesting building because the Abbey was heavily patronised by the Plantagenet Royal House of England. Aliénor (Eleanor) of Aquitaine, who was the wife firstly of the King of France and later of Henry II of England was a major benefactor of the Abbey.

In fact, she, her husband Henry II, their son the famous Richard the Lionheart, and Isabella, wife of King John, were buried here. While their tombs are still here though, their bodies are not. The Abbey was pillaged during the French Revolution and the remains were despoiled.

nevertheless, it led to a fine interchange with the guy at the cashier’s desk –
Our Hero – “with the Brexit, will the British be asking for the repatriation of the remains of King Henry and King Richard?”
Cashier – “anything still here is the property of the Abbey and nothing can be moved by anyone”
As Alfred Hitchcock once famously said to Kenneth Williams – “it’s a waste of time trying to tell jokes to foreigners”.

I took thousands of photographs, and when I have more time (because I’m rather busy right now) I’ll come back to edit this page and put them on line so you can see just how beautiful it is here.

And so in the beautiful hot sun, I hit the road and headed north to the Loire. And there, having crossed the river on a beautiful girder bridge, I found a place to settle down for an hour or so to eat my butty and contemplate the state of the nation.

Having gathered my wits, I headed off still northwards towards the coast. If I’m going to be anywhere, it’s going to be by the sea and near the beach. I know a little walled town on the coast with a beautiful beach and with an important ferry service out so some of the offshore islands. I mean – you know me. Whenever I see a ferry it always makes me cross.

And so eventually, after surviving two attacks of cramp in Caliburn, we arrived in Granville, in Normandy. I’ve bagged myself a hotel for tonight and tomorrow I’m going to find a holiday flat for 10 days or so while I plan my next move.

Tuesday 20th December 2016 – I MADE SURE …

… that I dropped off early to sleep last night.

What I did was to do something that I hadn’t done for quite a while, and that was that I got into bed and started to watch a film on the laptop. Sure enough, after only about 10 minutes or so, I was off.

But if I ever lay my hands on whoever it was who left the building at 02:40 this morning, slamming the door behind them, they they will know about it. Because I didn’t go back to sleep afterwards.

And it was just as well because the girl in the room next door was up and about at 06:00 and she wasn’t exactly quiet either. But then you can’t pick your housemates, can you?

Anyway, I was in at breakfast at 07:00 and out by 07:30 and back down here at work.

Meanwhile, I forgot to tell you about a couple of things that happened to me at the hospital yesterday.

parking uz gasthuisberg leuven belgium december decembre 2016For the benefit of those who don’t speak French, the sign on the back of the Fiat van says “Please don’t park within 3 metres …” of the rear doors, to allow the rear doors to open to admit a wheelchair.

And so the car behind is parked within 1 metre of it – right outside the entrance to a hospital.

I went up to the driver and asked him if a sign has to be written in both official languages (French and Flemish) to be legal, but as you might expect, my comment went clear over his head.

As Alfred Hitchcock once said to Kenneth Williams “it’s a waste of time telling jokes to foreigners”, and reminds me of the spoof Open University course on “Understanding Irony”, which actually received several applicants.

But it’s a sad reflection of the selfish attitude of many Belgians, isn’t it?

But the second thing was even more unnerving.

I walked up to the reception desk and the woman looked at me and said “ahh, Mr Hall …” Yes, I’m even being recognised by the clerical staff in the hospital now. This is uncomfortable, isn’t it?

ginger beer dandelion and burdock vegan mince pies custard pies bombay mix, linda mccartney vegan pies bisto gravy browning english shop kortenberg bertem belgium december decembre 2016Another thing that I have forgotten to do is to post the photo of the stuff that I bought on Sunday at the English shop.

Working clockwise around, we have Linda McCartney vegan pies, a vegan Christmas pudding, Bisto vegan gravy browning, a bottle of ginger beer, a bottle of dandelion and burdock, a bag of Bombay mix, some custard powder and, pride of place, two boxes of vegan mince pies.

Now I’m all set up for Christmas.

Later this morning I went down to Caliburn to sort out some stuff to bring up here and then went down to the Carrefour. I came back with a baguette and some tomatoes, some seitan slices (for Christmas dinner), some potatoes, some carrots and some leeks as well as a couple of pots of fresh spices.

That was because, for tea, I had boiled potatoes with fresh mint, carrots with fresh rosemary, leeks and Linda McCartney vegan pie covered in thick Bisto gravy. It made such a change from my usual fare and it was absolutely delicious. It all worked out fine too, much better than my pizza did. I shall be doing more of this, as well as looking at the possibility of baked potatoes in the microwave here.

High time that I was organised.

This afternoon I crashed out for a while and also did some work on my web pages.

Another thing that I did was to walk into the (unlocked) bathroom just as my nubile next-door neighbour was wrapping herself in a towel after her shower. Serves her right for not closing the door!

So now we’ll have another go at an early night. And I’ll hope for better luck too.

Monday 9th May 2016 – WA-HEYYYYYYY!

Yes, folks, I’m free!

I’ve been expelled from the hospital this evening, and I definitely heard at least one nurse say “if he comes back, I’m leaving!”.

Apparently everything is as it should be (but I forgot to ask about the blood count)and there’s no reason now for me to stay. I promptly gathered up my things and cleared off. You’ve no idea just how pleased Caliburn and Strawberry Moose were to see me, and we all quickly headed off into the sunset (well, it wasn’t THAT late, but it’s a nice piece of prose).

Earlier on in the day when I’d gone down to make my cheese butty, I went to the reception desk. Seeing that I was trailing a perfusion drip machine behind me, these seemed like a good time to go and negotiate the car-park situation – no-one could doubt my bona fides with all of that – and sure enough, I was given a free pass.

But when our Three Mustgetbeers went to use it at the exit barrier we succeeded in jamming up the machine completely. And by the time that someone came to unjam it (I had beaten a hasty retreat by this time) there was a queue a mile long at the barrier. Ahh well!

I nipped to Sint Pieters for the stuff that I had left behind and ended up having something of a “discussion” with the woman in reception. I’d parked Caliburn on the ramp outside the door of the hospital and my intention was to mention it to the receptionist in case she was wondering whose it was, and to say that I would be back in two minutes.

As simple as that, hey? But as you know, in anything in which I am involved, the facts are quite often different and the explanations that I was forced to give (all in Flemish too) took a darn sight longer than two minutes. It would have been quicker to have said nothing at all.

And it was all a waste of time too because they had cleared out my part of the fridge and everything had long-since been binned, including about €20-worth of sliced vegan cheese! I’m furious about all of this!

I did however stop at a huge supermarket on the edge of Leuven for a pile of shopping, including at long last, a decent pair of headphones instead of these rubbishy in-ear ones that are falling to pieces already, and then I made my way out (and I do mean “out”) of town into the countryside to the campus at Pellenberg where I’m staying until Friday.

But let’s return to the events since the last time I spoke to you all. I’ll tell you all about Pellenberg tomorrow after I’ve had a good prowl around.

When I went back into my romm last night it was absolutely stifling in there. So much so that I came back out here and watched a film on the laptop until about 22:30. And by then, it was much better back in the bedroom.
Memo to self – close sunblind first thing in the morning to keep out the heat

I slept a little better too, although the night was full of awakenings. Nothing like the previous one though, thank heavens, and I don’t recall the night-nurse (except for one occasion but I was awake anyway so that doesn’t really count).

I’d had some mega-rambles too and some of these (the bits that I remember anyway) are quite impressive.
Further memo to self – remember to charge up the dictaphone

I started off with a Sherlock Holmes adventure and it really was an adventure too. Nothing at all like Conan Doyle’s books but a huge Gothic horror ramble too that took us through the by-wys and alleyways of London, haunted houses in the countryside, graveyards and the like. Something very much akin to”Sherlock Holmes meets the Son of Dracula”. It was loosely based on a Sherlock Holmes story something like “The Engineer’s Thumb” but I don’t now recall exactly which one it was.
From here, we went on to have another cameo appearance from my Greek friend Maria. I was in Northampton, in a fourth-floor apartment looking out over a T-junction and one of the roads, the road to the right, was labelled something like “take this road to a better future”. This inspired me somewhat so off I set. But when I arrived down at the junction, the traffic lights changed to red. “This is an auspicious start” I thought to myself. But eventually I could continue along my way and I did notice that the road looked no different than any other street heading out of town. We did however come to a kind of sales room where there was an auction taking place. I arrived just as the last lot was being sold off – a 1940s-type of motorcycle and there were only two bidders. The price wasn’t all that high either but as usual, I had come totally unprepared, with no money or anything and so I had to pass up the opportunity. I did make a mental note, though, that I’d be back with plenty of cash if this is the kind of thing that goes on around here. And it was here that Maria put in an appearance too. It’s been … ohhh … 14 years since I’ve seen her in real life (but only about 2 weeks on here, I reckon) so we had plenty to discuss and tons of news to exchange.
But by now I was back home (wherever that might have been) in a rural environment with Nerina. We had an appointment in half an hour and I’d been working so I was dirty, and this is when I discovered that the hot water had been turned off, so no bath. I had to light the boiler and hope that 15 minutes would be enough to at least heat it up so that I could have a quick plunge. But that didn’t work out as it should so we cancelled that, and I missed the appointment in the end. But then I started to tidy up outside the house – trimming the edges of the driveway and in the end the place looked beautiful out there (I wish that I could do this at my house) so I carried on inside. There were all kinds of weeds and the like growing on the floor of the bedroom so I attacked those too and by the time that I had finished, the bedroom floor was so clean and shiny with nice brown parquet floor. It looked so beautiful. Even Nerina and a third person (I can’t remember who he was now) who was with us passed a comment and I felt so proud.

That took me up until 06:00, and by 06:45 I’d polished off the orange left over from yesterday, drunk some water and performed my toilet. And at 07:00 I was in the comfy chair in the day room, beating the sun by a good 10 minutes. Now that I’ve worked out how to make the comfy chairs recline, it was my intention to stay there until either the laptop battery or the coffee machine ran dry, whichever was the first, but I had failed to take into account the persistence of the nurses who did everything in their power to disturb me, such as giving me medication, changing my perfusion, taking my temperature and blood pressure, taking my weight (I’ve gained 1kg, by the way).

That’s not all either.

The doctor and the professor came in for a lengthy chat with me and this was followed by the girl from the Social Services department to discuss accommodation for me. It seems that a place has been found for me at Pellenberg until Friday morning for when I leave here, which (as you have seen already, I did today).

Later on, I was told that I had to go for an ear examination. The appointment had been arranged at 13:30 but was at Sint Rafaël across town so I needed to go there. This meant being picked up by the shuttle at 12:30. So at 13:00 I boarded the shuttle, having been pushed in a wheelchair about 20 miles around the campus here, had my appointment at 14:00 (and I have a hearing loss in the treble ranges of my left ear and telling jokes to foreigners, as Kenneth Williams and Alfred Hitchcock once said, is indeed “a total waste of time” because the doctor sat there pasty-faced when I explained that that was probably why I play bass guitar) and then had to wait for the shuttle at … errr … 15:00.

All in all, it was 15:45 by the time that I arrived and had they been more organised, told me earlier that I could leave, and disconnected me from the pipes and tubes, I could have waked there and back in half the time.

But the examination itself was horrible. I had all kinds of stuff including, at one stage, a camera, stuffed up my nose and in my ear and I felt dreadful.

And upon my return, I found that I had a new room-mate too. So it’s a good job that I was leaving, wasn’t it?

It was on this note, starving to death and totally fed up, that I went off to make myself a cheese butty. And you know the rest of the story.

Thursday 30th August 2012 – I DIDN’T DO …

… anything like as much as I was going to do today.

I was up early and spent a few hours on the computer as usual, but it was after that that it all started to go wrong

Finding a fully-charged battery for the Hitachi SDS drill was the first issue that I had, and once I’d managed that, then drilling the brick pillars has caused some of the bricks to split. That’s annoying to say the least.

But anyway the window frames are fitted and that’s something. Next plan was to fit the fascia boards to the end of the chevrons on the lean-to,

However, in an astounding achievement the type of which surely only I can be capable, it seems that having cut the wood to the right length, I somehow have managed to discard the piece that I want and I’ve painted the off-cut instead.

As Kenneth Williams once famously said, “I’m often taken aback by my own brilliance”

I didn’t get much done after lunch as the phone rang. The handbrake on Marianne’s son’s car has ceased to function and so could I look at it.

He brought it round and I dismantled the rear end (brake drums held on by the wheel bearings, how I hate that!) to find that the auto adjusters aren’t working. So no surprise as the handbrake needs 12 clicks to work.

I reset the adjusters but that didn’t do much so crawling underneath the car, it turns out that the cable adjuster (there’s one of them too) has slipped out of position. I reset that and now the brakes will stop that little Twingo on a sixpence.

But that cable is totally weird. Most cars have one single cable and there’s a slider at the centre of tha cable that’s attached to the handbrake arm so that the brakes pull evenly, and when you work the manual adjuster, the adjuster works on both brakes.

But not the Twingo.

There’s no slider at all but just a single fitting on the end of the handbrake arm, and two cables, one for each rear brake on each side.

Consequently although moving the manual adjuster will tighten up the cable, it doesn’t equalise the brakes. If one side is lack, then tightening up the cable adjuster will over-tighten the good side.

It took us ages therefore to adjust the brakes correctly, setting up the automatic adjusters individually by trial and error until they were equal, and then tightening up the cable adjuster.

And then of course we had the issue of refitting the hubs and bearings, and torquing up the nuts. That’s something I really hate doing.

Back on the lean-to afterwards (just as well I finished the car as we had a torrential storm straight afterwards), I’ve fitted one window pane (one of them survived having a ladder thrown on it) and the second one is ready to cut.

But by this time, it was 19:00 and I was well fed up, so I called it a day.

And tea tonight? Courgette and lentil curry. You can see that things are going berserk in the garden right now.

Tuesday 6th March 2012 – I’VE FINISHED …

home made compost bin les guis virlet puy de dome france… the compost bin as you can see.

Well, when I say “finished”, I don’t really mean “finished”, because as you can see, it’s a modular structure. I have aboout 10 of these square modules and I can stack them one on top of another, increasing the height as I build up the heap and decreasing the height as the contents compost down.

As you will note, there are air gaps to aerate the heap. This helps the composting process.

The base of the heap is an old air bed that has given up the ghost. I did have some special stuff to use but like anything else around here I can’t find anything when I really want it. The air bed will have to do.

The purpose of that is to suppress whatever weeds might want to push their way up through the heap.

There are currently two other active compost bins. One has rotted down nicely and when I empty it (by adding the contents to the raised beds) I can take it apart and use the modules to build up the bin here.

They will fit of course because the modules are all the same size – namely 875mm long.

“And why 875mm long?” I hear you ask.

That’s because they were made from a job lot of 3500mm planks that were cut into fours.

The other bin won’t be emptied for another year. That bin was only started a year ago and so it still needs time to settle down. The routine is that you spend a year filling a bin, and then leave it to stand for a year.

The contents of that particular bin will go into the raised beds next winter and then I can move it to behind the one there – where the spade is standing up.

gardening raised beds les guis virlet puy de dome franceOnce that was organised I started to dig over the ground to the right of it – where the garden fork is lying down.

I have a raised bed from the first attempt at gardening, one of 3500mm x 1000mm, left over from those days and the plan is to run it across there, behind the last row of raised beds, and plant the soft fruit bushes in it. This year though, I’ll use it for the new potatoes.

Preparing that patch is not easy. It’s part of the primeval forest and there is a ton of ground alder in it as well as huge masses of thick tree roots. All of these have to come out and it’s taking ages. It won’t be finished for a bit.

In other news, regular readers of this rubbish will recall me talking … "on numerous occasions" – ed … about Yakima Canutt.

He was a stunt man from the late 1920s who was picked up by a very young John Wayne and co-starred with him in many of his earliest films of the 1930s. When acting became much more sophisticated, Canutt was one of the thousands of actors who were clearly not up to it and disappeared from the silver screen.

Wayne didn’t abandon him, however, and on the later (as in 1934/35/36) batch of Wayne’s B-feature movies, the second-unit director is none other than one Yakima Canutt.

So what’s the interest in him tonight? Well, this evening I was relaxing with a DVD, Breakheart Pass, starring Charles Bronson.

Based on a story by Alastair Maclean, it’s easily one of the best of the “non-western westerns”, even if the directing is totally awful and we have to put up with Bronson’s appalling floozie Jill Ireland, without whom he won’t go anywhere even if she can’t act to save her life and who hasn’t recovered from co-starring as the outrageous Kenneth Williams’ grilfriend in Carry On Nurse [DVD].  

But anyway, before I bore you all to death with my own polemic, I happened to notice the credits of Breakheart Pass as the rolled by. And who was the second-unit director and stunt co-ordinator? Yes, none other than one Yakima Canutt. He kept on going until he was 90.

And the snow that I mentioned yesterday? Well, you can see all about that in the photo above.

Not a flake.