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Sunday 16th January 2022 – NO WONDER …

… that I’m exhausted. I must have travelled miles during the night.

One of these days they’ll invent an ethereal fitbit that will track my travels when I’m off on my nocturnal voyages and I bet that the distances that I travel will be interesting.

Anyway, last night I had a very disturbed night (as you will discover as you read on) and despite being awake on several occasions at some kind of ridiculous hour, there was no danger whatever of my leaving my stinking pit until I was good and ready – which was about 10:15 this morning.

After the medication I had to download a few files off the portable computer that I take with me to Leuven, and then I could pair off the music for the next radio programme that I’ll be preparing on Monday. They went together quite well too, but not as well as they did a couple of weeks ago.

For a few hours afterwards I had a little laze about not doing too much, except for having my brunch. Porridge and thick slices of toast with strong black coffee.

Round about 15:00 I wandered into the kitchen and made a big load of pizza dough, seeing as I’d run out. And I do have to say that for some reason that I can’t understand, it turned out to be one of the nicest doughs that I have made.

Nice and soft and smooth and silky.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022having put the dough on the side in order to rise, I went off for my post-prandial perambulation around the promontory.

First port of call quite obviously was the beach to see what was happening down there today. It’s been a good few days since I stuck my head over the parapet.

Plenty of beach this afternoon but there wasn’t anyone down there on it, although I did notice a couple of people walking down the steps from the Rue du Nord going off for an afternoon ramble.

And while I was at it, I was being photo-bombed by a seagull on its way out to sea.

rainstorm ile de chausey baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022While I was there, I was having a good look around out to sea to see if there was anything happening there.

There wasn’t a single boat that I could see out there this afternoon which was a surprise because it was actually quite a nice afternoon, for a change. And after the last few days of winter, it’s warmed up somewhat and now much more like March again.

But there was a rainstorm brewing out at sea in the bay. You can see it out there just offshore, obscuring the Ile de Chausey. Luckily there wasn’t very much wind to speak of this afternoon so there wasn’t very much danger of me being caught in it.

rainstorm sun on sea baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022This afternoon we were having yet more beautiful lighting effects. It’s one of the things that I like about this time of the year.

We were having another one of these really nice TORA TORA TORA light displays where the sun comes streaming through the gaps in the clouds.

And with the rainstorm that was going on out at sea it was producing some quite interesting effects. It was a shame that there were so few people out there watching it. There can’t have been more than a dozen or so people out there on the path up to the lighthouse this afternoon.

sun baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022And out in the Baie de Mont St Michel things were even nicer.

As well as the TORA TORA TORA effect we had a spotlight or two illuminating the water as the sun shone brightly through a gap in the clouds.

The rainstorm in the distance was obscuring the Brittany coast but the sea was nice and bright there.

Wouldn’t it have been nice to have caught a yacht or a fishing boat sailing through the beams of light? But you can’t have everything of course.

cabanon vauban people on bench pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022There actually were some people down there admiring the view as well.

Sitting down there by the cabanon vauban was someone on the bench watching the sunset. And someone further out sitting on the rocks at the end of the headland. It’s a shame that there weren’t any boats out there for us to see this afternoon.

But on another more depressing note, the way things are these days, we have to keep a lose eye on people sitting like that on the rocks. The events of mid-November are still etched quite firmly in my mind.

container pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022But never mind that for the moment. There were things that were much more interesting going on that require some investigation.

The skip that’s down here on the headland gives us a clue, and my hat goes off to the driver who dropped it off here.

What is going on right now is concerning the group of people who are planning on opening a museum in one of the abandoned World War II bunkers. They have been given permission to go into another one of the closed-up bumkers and clear it out of 75 years-worth of debris and see what they can find.

pivot for cannon bunker pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022and almost straight away, they uncovered something interesting.

This is the pivot of a field gun – either a 105mm or a 128mm quite likely, that would be used as coastal defence to protect the area from either an invasion landing or a commando raid.

Mind you, when the Germans launched a commando raid on Granville on 9th March 1945, whatever artillery was here in the bunker didn’t do much good to repel the attack.

And, I suppose, as they go further into the bunker, the more and more artefacts will be discovered.

interior of bunker pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022But at least they have cleaned the walls of the bunker we can actually see the markings that the Germans painted on the walls.

These are presumably unit identification marks, although I don’t know which units are being indicated.

What I’ll have to do is to have a wander around the area during working hours and hope that I can lay my hands on one of the people clearing out the bunker. The fact that the skip is still here seems to indicate that they will be back here using it at the beginning of next week at least.

And so I’ll make a mental note.

storm waves on sea wall port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022although I said that there was very little wind today, there must be something going on somewhere out at sea.

As I walked around the headland I could hear the sound of the waves smacking into the harbour wall so I was keen to see exactly what was going on. Consequently I pushed on along the path towards the post.

It wasn’t much of a show, unfortunately. The waves were more powerful that I was expecting in view of the weather conditions, but they weren’t producing anything spectacular when they crashed into the wall. There was plenty of noise but none of it to any great effect.

les bouchots de chausey unloading port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022Meanwhile, over at the fish-processing plant, there was plenty of activity going on.

Les Bouchots de Chausey, one of the little inshore shell-fishing boats, was in port this afternoon, working on a Sunday. And she must have had quite a good catch today.

She’s busy unloading her boxes of shellfish onto the trailer at the back of the tractor over there and you can tell from the amount on there that she’s had a profitable day.

A few weeks ago I encountered the tractor hauling the loaded trailer off through the town and out towards Donville les Bains. And one of these days I’ll follow her to find out where she goes.

gerlean chausiaise joly france chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022When I came back from Paris yesterday I could see that there was little change in the chantier naval.

As we can see, Gerlean is still in there. All on her own, too. No-one else has come in to join her while I was away.

Over at the ferry terminal however, we have the usual suspects over there. Chausiaise, the little freighter, is at the head of the queue and behind her is the older of the two Joly France boats – the one without the step in the stern.

ch638749 pescadore ch907879 l'arc en ciel ch898472 cap lihou l'omerta port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022On the way back home I went to look at the boats moored in the inner harbour, not the least of the reasons being that L’Omerta was actually tied up for once at the pier.

We also had Pescadore, L’Arc-en-Ciel, Cap Lihou and a couple of other boats that I didn’t recognise tied up down there too.

And of course there were the two Channel Island Ferries, Victor Hugo and Granville, moored up in the background looking as if they aren’t ever going to move again.

Back here, I made myself a coffee and then sat down to transcribe the dictaphone notes from last night.

In the middle if the night I awoke as I was counting something and trying to write down these numbers with a pen but I couldn’t find a pen that worked. But I can’t remember now what it was that I was counting and I have no idea. It was like a table of numbers or something and this was just one particular row of these numbers but I can’t remember what they were for.

Later on there was a pile of girls, probably about 6 or 7 years of age having to stand in a line and talk about where they came from etc. One girl came from Africa but was a white girl said “Africa, yes, that’s me. That’s where I come from. That’s my home town” etc but I couldn’t help the feeling that this was being transferred over to me as well. I had ti edit the view of this concert because the ratio was wrong – something like 1.5:1 instead of 1.1. If I were to do that I would lose a lot of everything. I had to have the focusing right and the general screen capture size right in order to do it. And I’m impressed with the technical details and terms that I can spout when I’m asleep .

After that there was a girl aged about 10 or 11 or so in a swimsuit and bonnet. Suddenly she was attacked and killed. That cheered me up because it meant that there would be a place for me to go and live on an island so I put myself in the queue but there was someone there in charge, some fellow or person, who said “there are still too many people so the queue needs to be cut down by half” which meant that I wasn’t going to go this time. I would have to wait for something equally dramatic next time before I could go. And isn’t that all a totally gruesome idea?

Last night we were also prisoners of war in something like COLDITZ CASTLE in a high security room with a few of us in it. We tried to escape once but the guy in charge was not very good and not only had we all been recaptured before we’d even done anything he’d had some confidential papers captured too and he’d been shot although not seriously. We were there again and we tried to have another go at escaping. The idea was to lull this commandant person into a false sense of security then when one of his guards would go out to do something, we could overpower the reduced numbers and escape from the castle like Colditz. So one of the guards had to leave. As he pulled up the zip on his ski suit it passed a certain point that someone had indicated with a blue “X”. This meant that the escape was on. He went and someone pulled on the commandant a gun that he had hidden and gathered up quickly everything that they needed. Then it was a case of making the commandant unconscious so someone hit him with the barrel of the gun. It didn’t work so I hit him about 3 or 4 times but that still didn’t knock him unconscious so in the end someone else took over. We then set the room alight. Someone wasn’t happy about leaving the commandant there with this room alight. I replied that every time he flew over Germany he dropped one bomb that killed far more people than just one without any scruples whatsoever

Interestingly, later on we were all in this Prisoner of War camp in this high-security room with the commandant and a couple of the guards. We’d already tried to escape once but had been overpowered by weight of numbers and the guy in charge had been shot, not seriously. They captured all of our confidential papers and I tried to drum it in to the idea thatwe should keep all of the papers like that together so that they could be thrown into the fire early etc. In the end we made ourselves ready. One of the German guards was called away as we hoped leaving the commandant behind. When this guy’s zip was drawn up to a certain spot it was as if a blue “X” appeared on his zip when the two sides were drawn together. That was our signal so we overpowered the commandant and captured his papers etc and prepared to leave. We set fire to the room with some accelerant. Someone was upset about that. We should rescue the captain but I said that each bomb that they had dropped over German territory would kill far more people than just one and that they’d dropped that bomb without any scruples whatsoever. In the end they prepared to scramble down out of this building and this railway cutting on their way off. So what was happening there that I had an almost-identical dream twice I have no idea.

And then I had my house up for sale. There was a group of us round at my other place tidying it up because it was really dirty, building rubble and brick dust everywhere that I was trying to vacuum, not very successfully. My friend from Belfast grabbed hold of me and asked me what was going on about Luxembourg. I replied that they were worried that the whole world was going to be flooded with cheap labour from the Arab states. He asked what I propsed to do about it and I replied “put a tax on foreign workers”. He said that that wouldn’t go down very well with some people. I replied “never mind. It can’t be helped”. We had to keep checking the door to make sure that a girl I know from Luxembourg wasn’t overhearing. We came round to what we were going to do about the apartment that was for sale. Someone told me to be careful and not to accept the first offer I received. I replied “I’m well aware of that” and told them a few stories about apartments that had been sold. “I’m prepared to wait for the right moment” even if it meant leaving it empty or putting it down in ten, but I’d sell it”. Then we were all called together and had to collect our security passes. Helen’s security pass and Steve’s security pass, I’d been involved in the preparation of those and I still had the boxes in which their cards came so I had to be very careful to give the right number to the guy taking the details that whoever he looked at had, he would write down the right number, mine and not one of the other two’s, and that he wouldn’t duplicate the numbers and leave one of the cards out.

Finally there was something about a Land Rover. I was with a friend last night. We’d gone to see a van that I’d just bought – that he’d bought on my behalf. An LDV. We didn’t actually get to see the LDv – we were sidetracked as usual by a Land Rover that he owned. It was a diesel and we were taking about this diesel Land Rover. I mentioned that I owned a Minerva that brought a few smiles from around various people. In the end we ended up back at his wife’s. She was talking about his cars, saying that he had far too many and it was high time that he did a few things with one. Something came up about another Land Rover that he owned, how something had to be done with that so that the Land Rover that we had seen at someone else’s house could be brought home. he said something about going to fetch the van that I’d bought but I asked him “where are you going to park it?”. There was no room in his drive at all. he saw the wisdom in that and said that we can do that another time. By then the wife and I were out somewhere. We had Zero with us. We’d been driving around but I thought that we’d not been going the right way to get back to her house. Instead she took another way. We were waiting to turn right at a road junction but were there for hours, even with people passing on the right to go straight on. Eventually we reached this other house which was in total chaos worse than mine. She was telling these guys about her husband’s new Land Rover. Zero was there with these other kids, all playing with a huge pile of toys and everything. It just seemed to peter out at that particular moment, this story, which was rather a shame.

It’s no surprise that I was exhausted after all of this travelling about. And what a shame that the final voyage petered out just as it was becoming interesting.

vegan pizza place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022But there was so much of it that I had to break off in the middle to go and deal with the dough.

It had risen beautifully so I split it into three batches. Two of them went into the freezer and the third one was rolled out and put in the pizza tray to proof for an hour or so while I carried on with “War and Peace”.

After the dough had risen nicely I assembled the pizza and put it in the oven to bake.

And when it was finished, it looked totally beautiful. And I do have to say that it tasted even better, even if I had forgotten to use the remaining half-pepper that I had brought out of the fridge.

So having written my notes, I’m off to bed. It’s a 06:00 start tomorrow as I have a radio programme to prepare. There’s the physio tomorrow afternoon too, so I need to be at my best.

But we’ll see how tomorrow unfolds, especially if I travel as far during the night as I did last night.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday 14th August 2020 – THAT WAS A …

… nice break on my journey today.

My route brought me through the city of Luxembourg so I telephoned my friend Malou. We met in the city centre and went for a drink and a chat for an hour or two. It’s a long time since we’ve seen each other so it was good to meet up and have a chat for a while.

And I do have to say that I needed a break because it had been a long, hard day. It all went wrong before I went to bed because having had a little doze during the afternoon, I wasn’t tired at all and it was almost 02:00 before I went to bed.

Nevertheless I staggered out of bed as the alarms went off, tired as I might have been, and did some of the outstanding paperwork.

There was something on the dictaphone too. For some unknown reason we had been discussing tanks during the night. We were in a big one, the idea being to spray several other tanks with machine gun fire to find out how flammable they were and to see what the chances were of setting other tanks ablaze with just simply machine gun fire reaching vital parts or breaking fuel lines kind of thing

Breakfast was interesting because the landlady insisted on talking to me. We had a delightful conversation in a mixture of German and English that went on for almost an hour.

hotel kraichgauidylle 69254 malsch germany eric hallThinking on, I’m not too sure if I’ve mentioned my hotel.

It’s the hotel Kraichgauidylle in Malsch, the correct Malsch of course, and is one of these typical Germanic small village hotels that you encounter all over Central Europe. Somewhat tired, dingy and dark as if it was a throwback to the 1930s but while the price wasn’t a 1930s price, it was pretty good value for the money that I paid.

In fact, being on the Budget Economy plan that I am, the proof of the issue is “whether I would stay here again at the same price” and that emits a rather positive response.

The only issue was the lack of on-site parking. But arriving late and leaving early meant that I could use the parking space of the bank across the road without any problems.

On the road, the lack of sleep caught up with me before I’d gone too far and I ended up asleep in a car park for a couple of hours. It’s a long time that I’ve done that, isn’t it? Just like old times in Canada.

The bridge that I was intending to take across the Rhine was closed and I was obliged to take a detour to another bridge.

castle frankenstein  eric hallFrom there, through yet more roadworks and traffic jams, especially in the town of Kaiserlautern, I pushed on into the Eifel Mountains past the Castle Frankenstein.

One of those places where you have to stop and take a photo, even if you do have to drive around for ages and perform several U-turns in order to find a place to park where there’s a good vies

It’s not unfortunately the castle of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein – that’s out near Darmstadt – but its etymology is the same, to wit, the stone (building) of the Franks, the tribe that occupied western Germany and eastern France in the early Middle Ages

The existence of this particular castle is first recorded in 1146 and is believed to date from some 50 years earlier according to some contemporary reports. Its purpose was to guard the road between Speyer, Dürkheim and Worms, presumably for the security of pilgrims and religious officials, and was owned by Limburg Abbey.

Severely damaged during the various wars of the 15th and 16th Century, it was finished off during the German Peasants War, a revolt that led Martin Luther to state that the peasants “… must be sliced, choked, stabbed, secretly and publicly, by those who can, like one must kill a rabid dog.”.

By 1560 it was reported as being destroyed.

concorde Flugausstellung Peter Junior Hermeskeil Habersberg germany eric hallContinuing onwards deep into the mountains, I came across an air museum with 20 or so aeroplanes on display outside, somewhere near the towns of Hermeskeil and Habersberg.

What actually caught my eye was the Concorde here so I had to do a U-turn and go back for another look. However I didn’t stop for more than a second or two because right at that moment we were having a torrential downpour outside – something akin to what we had on the previous day and I wasn’t getting out of Caliburn in that. A quick photo would have to do.

But it’s another one of these places to which I’ll have to return, even if the Concorde here is only a replica, as I was to find out later. Never mind 20 or so areoplanes, there are in fact well over 100 and not only that, there’s a railway museum nearby with a shed full of steam locomotives.

view river saar valley germany eric hallThe weather started to brighten up very slowly as I pressed on further into the mountains. And as I crested a rise at the back of the town of Vierherrenborn, I stopped in my tracks to admire the beautiful view.

Where I actually am is at the top of a range of hills that form the eastern shore of the Saar River, one of the tributaries of the Moselle which it joins a few miles further north near Trier.

246 kilometres long, it was a vital industrial route of Germany in the late 19th and early 20th Century when this region was one of Europe’s leading iron*producing areas, bringing raw materials in and taking the finished product out.

This was a region that was considered to be so vital to Germany’s industrial progress that for 15 years after World War I and 10 years after World War II it was adminsitered separately from Germany by various occupying powers.

radio mast near vierherrenborn germany eric hallBehind where I’m standing is what at first glance appeared to be similar to the Loran C masts of which we saw more than a few ON OUR TRAVELS AROUND NORTH-EAST CANADA.

However this one probably isn’t. It’s probably nothing more than an ordinary radio antenna – if “ordinary” can be used to describe an object quite like this one. I was rather hoping that it might have been the “Eifel Tower” – in actual fact the Sender Eifel – the tallest structure in the Rhineland-Palatinate at 302 metres, but that’s about 60 miles further north at Kirchweiler

So whatever it is, I shall have to continue to make enquiries

wind turbines saar valley germany eric hallThese objects are much easier to identify, because we have seen plenty of them on our travels around here and there.

Across the river over there – brcause the river is just down there in that velley in the middle distance – is one of the highest points in this particular region, a mere cockstride from the border with Luuxembourg, right in the path of the westerly winds.

Consequently it’s obviously going to be a prime candidate for a wind farm, and quite right too. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I’m all in favour of windfarms, having lived for many years with three wind turbines.

river moselle rehlingen nittel germany eric hallTalking of westward, I’m going west, aren’t I? Continuing along the road towards the border with Luxembourg myself.

It’s a really beautiful drive through this part of the Eifel so I wasn’t in any great rush, but soon enough I arrived at the River Moselle, the “little Meuse”. To the left of this image is Luxembourg and to the right is Germany, for the river forms the boundary between the two.

The town down there is called Rehlingen, a town first recorded some time in the middle of the 12th Century but lost its autonomy in 1974 when its administration was absorbed into that of neighbouring Nittel.

wormeldange luxembourg eric hallOver there is the town of Wormeldange, in Luxembourg and it’sdown by there that we will be crossing over the river into Luxembourg by means of the bridge that links it with the German community of Wincheringen, where I am at this moment.

Lovers of wine would love to come to visit Wormeldange because it’s one of the more important centres of production of Reisling and there are 360 hectares of grapes to have a go at.

But not for me though. Apart from a beer, which was all that there was to drink when we were stranded in a snowdrift half way up a mountain while skiing in Romania one year, I haven’t drunk alcohol for 30 years or so. And in any case, I have an appointment to keep and can’t spare the time to stop.

Into Luxembourg City to find a parking space, and Strawberry Moose received a wave from a friendly pedestrian.

Having found a place to park, I met up with my friend Malou. We had studied together at University all those years ago and still keep in touch. We’ve met up a few times while I’ve been on my travels but not in Luxembourg since about 2001. We went off to have a coffee and a good chat.

Having spent a pleasant hour or so with Malou I headed out of the city northwards in the vague direction of the Belgian border.

hotel kinnen Route d'Echternach, 6550 Berdorf, Luxembourg eric hallDeep in the mountains of the northern part of the country in the town of Berdorf, I ended up at my hotel, the Hotel Kinnen, in keeping up my tradition of spending a night in every country that i’ve visited.

This hotel is another place that has seen much better days in the past when Berdorf was the place to be. And it still has quite a few signs of its former grandeur. In fact, for value for money, it’s one of the best places in which I’ve stayed in Western Europe for quite some considerable time.

Walking around the town later that night, I stumbled upon a pizza place and prevailed upon the chef to make me a special pizza seeing as I hadn’t had one for a few weeks. Now I need some more vegan cheese.

Tomorrow I’m heading to Germany and Belgium. Well on my way home now. Looking at my notes I can see that I’ve already been out for three weeks and it’ll be four weeks by the time that I return home. I wonder if I can remember where it is.

Friday 16th February 2018 – MY NEIGHBOURS …

… are getting on my wick.

I dunno what they are doing in their room but involves noise – noise that goes on until 04:00 in the morning.

It’s not as if it’s a very loud noise but the walls are paper-thin here and as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I’m a very light sleeper.

And so with my noisy neighbours next door, I had no qualms whatever about my very noisy alarm going off at 06:20 this morning. Or the noisy repeat at 06:30.

But despite everything I was off on my travels during the night.In a shed where a group of young kids had barricaded themselves in to protect themselves against some kind of monster. But they had left their pony outside in its stable in the field and someone was wondering if they should protect that too. But another kid piped up that if you spread out your forces too thinly to try to protect everything you end up protecting nothing. So they didn’t. And the monster’s attack on this shed was very half-hearted and the pony was unscathed.
A little later, these kids were looking for their black kitten that had escaped. The search involved wading up to their knees in some very muddy water much to the amusement of some nearby workmen, and this became even more amusing when one of the kids had made it into the water and the kitten was spotted running across the top of a brick wall nearby.

After breakfast and the usual pause to let the medication do its stuff (yes, I obtained another prescription when I was at the hospital) I went off to the railway station.

intercity train railway station leuven belgium february février 2018There was an Intercity to Brussels that was running late, and it pulled into the station just as I arrived so I leapt on board and settled down in a comfortable corner with my book.

And as a result of the late arrival of the train, I for one arrived in Brussels at the Gare Central before time, which is always very nice.

The metro was quite painless too – took me all the way to Merode in minutes.

Consequently I was early at my health insurance people, even though we had another distraction.

bad parking avenue tervuren brussels belgium february février 2018Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I have a thing about “parking”, and there are no finer examples of bad parking to be had than in Brussels.

Here we have a delivery van stopped to unload a couple of parcels and so he’s blocking the street as he double-parks.

But hed he not been so lazy, he could have advanced not even 10 metres and parked his van for two minutes in front of the dark blue Peugeot.

But obviously walking that extra 10 metres is far too difficult for the poor dear.

So back to the plot.

I presented myself at the reception.
“You’ll have to wait – it’s not 09:30 yet”
“But …”
“You’ll have to wait”.
And so I waited
At 09:29 “it’ll be open in a minute. Can you show me your badge?”
“I don’t have a badge – I’m a foreign visitor”
“Then you’ll need to go to reception to fill in a form”.
“I know. That’s what I was trying to do when you stopped me”

Eventually I was allowed in and, to be frank, I needn’t have bothered. When I’ve been there before, they’ve been most kind and considerate in that office.

But not today. I dunno what’s the matter with them but they just seemed to be more keen to see the back of me. I didn’t accomplish half of the things that I intended to do.

parc de la cinquantenaire brussels belgium february février 2018But instead, I went for awalk across the park and down to the Rond-Point Schuman. It was a beautiful morning.

The park is the Parc de la Cinquantenaire – the 50th Anniversary Park, and was established by King Leopold II in 1880 (although the huge arch wasn’t built until 1905) on the site of a military parade ground for the nearby barracks, to host an exhibition to celebrate 50 years of Belgian independence.

Several subsequent exhibitions were held here until the new site out by the Atomium was developed.

parrots parc de la cinquantenaire brussels belgium february février 2018Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I have mentioned parrots in Belgium before.

There was an aviary in the city that was bombed during the war and all of the exotic birds escaped. Surprisingly, many of them survived the cold winters and went on to establish breeding colonies in the wild.

There are considerable flocks of these exotic birds all over the city these days, and here are two of the aforementioned sitting in a tree in the park. It’s hard to believe that this is a city in north-west Europe with a continental climate.

At the bank I picked up two of my cards (for some reason the third hadn’t been prepared and I’ll have to go back) and even more surprisingly, they work. That’s all of my financial issues resolved right now – for the time being. I can actually access my money now.

Back down on the metro to the Gare Centrale and Malou turned up on time.She’d been out on the Belgian coast for a holiday and was returning to Luxembourg. We’d agreed to meet up for coffee seeing as it’s been years since we last met.

We put the world to rights for a couple of hours and then we both went our separate ways. She on to Luxembourg and me back to Leuven.

There were still a few things that I had wanted to do here in Brussels like visit the railway museum, and this was what I had planned for this afternoon. But having had a bad night, I came home instead.

Via the Vegan shop in Leuven where I picked up some more vegan cheese. I came back here, made myself a cheese and tomato butty or two, and then … errr … relaxed for a while. I’d had a bad night.

18:00 saw me head off to the railway station for my train at 18:36. And because it was departing before 19:00 I had to pay full price and not a weekend saver ticket.

And the train was 20 minutes late coming in and – would you believe – 23 minutes later still in leaving (just missing the 45 minutes-late threshold for compensation) Which meant that I could have bought a weekend saver anyway.

We arrived in Lier 45 minutes late which meant that I had to scramble over the road for my big bag of chips for tea, and then scramble off in a hurry down the road to Het Lisp.

het lisp stadion lier belgium february février 2018No prizes for guessing why I had come to Lier, of course.

There’s one game in the Belgian Second Division on a Friday night every week, and this week it’s the turn of Lierse SK against KSV Roeselare.

Lier is easily accessible from Leuven even late at night (or early in the morning) so it’s always a good choice of ground to visit.

cheerleaders het lisp stadion lier belgium february février 2018With KSV Roeselare being the visitors, I was hoping that we might have the Battle of the Cheerleaders.

Both teams have cheerleaders, which is always very good for the morale, but I do have to say that the young ones of Roeselare can knock spots off the home team. Much better organised and much better choreographed.

But no such luck. It was just the Lierse SK cheerleaders here tonight. It’s better than nothing of course.

het lisp stadion lier belgium february février 2018Cheerleaders we might have, but fans we didn’t seem to.

I’ve been to Lier and the Het Lisp Stadion on several occasions to see the football, but I don’t think that I’ve seen the ground as empty as this.

It’s not quite the “announcing the fan changes to the teams” that you have at Tubize, but it was disappointing all the same. And there wasn’t much in the way of atmosphere to compensate. It was all very subdued.

het lisp stadion lier belgium february février 2018The supporters weren’t the only thing that was subdued either. The Lierse SK team played like they were half asleep. They had little enthusiasm, little attacking spirit and, so it seemed, little interest.

Strangely enough, Roeselare didn’t seem to be in all that much of an attackign mood either, content to move the ball around ahead of the defence.

It wasn’t until about the 25th minute when they first tried the ball over the top. And a player running in shot, the keeper could only parry it, and a Roeselare attacker followed up.

Roeselare still kept on pouring forward, and much to everyone’s surprise Lierse SK scored against the run of play.

Well into the second hald, the first time they tried one over the top and won a corner. From the corner we had a carbon copy of Roeselare’s goal.

The match still went on at a pedestrian pace from Lierse SK’s point of view and with about 10 minutes to go, Roeselare were awarded a penatly – which was saved.

This had the effect of switching on the current to the Lierse SK side and they started to attack. The final 10 or so minutes of the game were quite exciting.

In stoppage time, Lierse won a series of corners and had two (dubious) appeals for a penalty turned down. And so as you might expect, Roeselare roared upfield and scored the winner with almost the final kick of the game.

I was back on the station just in time to catch the earlier direct train to Leuven, which cheered me up no end. So I was back here before midnight.

But my neighbours are partying again. I think that it’s going to be another long night.

Thursday 23rd January 2014 – I FINALLY MANAGED …

… to pick up Cécile’s letter this morning, after all these weeks.

And so seeing as how I was going to have a morning out, I decided to make the most of it, especially as it was once again p155ing down.

First stop was the Mairie. I need a form to say that I’m still alive (and judging by the smell around here, you would be excused for wondering) and the best person to do that is the Mayor of the village. They have a nice big and official-looking stamp that gives a really impressive look to any kind of document.

Then off to Cécile’s. I need to put an accompanying letter with this form and so I typed one out last night and saved it onto a memory stick. Also, Cécile sent me an authorisation to collect her mail, and so both of these needed printing. I have three printers here – one stopped working when it fell off the desk, the second only prints in blue and only when it feels like it, and the third one, that I rescued from Marianne’s, that ran out of ink on me.

So round to Cécile’s and her printer and – guess what?

Quite right. Hers ran out of ink too but there’s an override button on it and so we ended up with documants in light grey ink.

Nevertheless, the authorisation was accepted at the Post Office and I collected the letter. And then off to Pionsat and the Post Office there. That’s a real Post Office and so I posted my letter and form, and also a packet for Malou. When I was stuck in Brussels with no ‘phone charger for the old Nokia, she very kindly sent me one. And she’s a big fan of Edith Piaf and Marianne had a German version of the film La Vie En Rose. Malou speaks German fluently, and so that’s now on its way to Luxembourg.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, that was the morning gone. And so I’ve spent all of the afternoon firstly, picking up the bits of wood from the construction project to use as firelighters, and then sweeping up the sawdust for the composting toilet. It’s impressive that I can actually do that.

Secondly, I started to load up the new shelves. The little cheap lightweight shelf unit that I put in the downstairs room as a temporary measure, that’s now completely empty. There’s a pile of stuff gone out of the barn onto the new shelves, and a pile of stuff out of the verandah has followed it. And, much to my surprise, the shelves aren’t even half-full. There’s tons of room for more stuff.

This evening, seeing as I was in a contemplative frame of mind, I watched The Wild Bunch. Peckinpah rather prolongs the violence unnecessarily, I reckon, but apart from that, it is one of the most magnificent films that has ever been made and the performances of William Holden and Ernest Borgnine have no parallel in anything that I have seen elsewhere. It’s a film that is in my Top 5 Films of All Time and quite rightly so.

So what’s the plan for tomorrow then?

When I dug out the flooring to put in a large battery box, I made the box the size to suit the Hawker batteries that I use. However, one or two of them are starting to creak a little and I can no longer obtain the replacements, and so I bought a while ago some massive 200 amp-hour batteries.

The battery box isn’t big enough to take them and so I’m going to be making a start on digging out some more flooring and enlarging the box.

And why 200 amp-hour batteries? Why not go for anything bigger? The answer to that is a simple question of logistics. I can just about manage to pick up a 200 amp-hour battery on my own. Anything bigger and it will be beyond the realms of possibility, and I have long-since given up the idea of doing anything that I’m not able to do on my own.