Tag Archives: Marianne

Wednesday 9th February 2022 – HERE I ALL AM …

.. not actually sitting in a rainbow, but sitting in my little room here in Leuven, after one of the most uneventful journeys that I’ve ever had.

man with giant teddy gare du nord paris France Eric Hall photo February 2022One of the only two things of note about this journey took place in the Gare du Nord in Paris.

There, I came across a guy with an enormous teddy-bear strapped to his back, with the bear carrying a backpack.

Of course, it goes without saying that I went over to him and told him how much I admired his choice of travelling companion. And then of course that led to a discussion that involved STRAWBERRY MOOSE.

And that of course served to remind me that it’s been 18 months since His Nibs and I last went on an adventure, when we did our tour of Central Europe, and two and a half years since we last set foot on North American soil.

And like me, he’s getting itchy feet. We need to be on our way somewhere, moving about.

TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt 4520 PBA gare du midi brussels belgium Eric Hall photo February 2022The second incident of note took place on board my train at Lille Europe.

There was a couple sitting in my seat and at first they refused to move, insisting that the numbers on the seat in front related to their seats. It was only when I asked them if that meant that the people in seats 75 and 76 had to sit on the luggage rack that they reluctantly agreed to move.

Ordinarily I wouldn’t have bothered and would have sat somewhere else but there was something about this couple’s attitude that rubbed me up the wrong way and these days my good humour evaporates much more quickly than ever it used to, especially when I’m confronted by intransigent people.

Apart from that, it’s been a very fair day today. When the alarm went off at 06:00 I was (for a change) out of bed quite quickly, made my sandwiches, had a coffee and, to my own surprise never mind yours, steam-cleaned the kitchen, including washing the floor with disinfectant.

l'omerta fish processing plant port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022At 08:00 or thereabouts I left the apartment with my gear and headed off for the station.

First … errr … port of call was the viewpoint overlooking the fish processing plant where I checked the NIKON 1 J5 to make sure that it was working.

The fish-processing plant was this morning’s first subject. It might be early in the morning but there are plenty of people down there working as we can see. All of the lights are on in there and there’s a refrigerated lorry down there waiting to take away the catch.

And L’Omerta is still down there where we saw her yesterday, sitting on the silt.

dawn st pair Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022Although it was still dark, the sun was starting to rise.

The sky in the distance over at the back of St Pair sur Mer is becoming lighter with a beautiful pink tinge.

What they say around here is “Red Sky at Night, Shepherd’s Delight. Red Sky in the Morning, Avranches is On Fire”.

And as I was on the point of taking the photos, most of the streetlights in St Pair sur Mer went out and what would have been a glorious photo suddenly turned into something rather more banal.

On that note I headed off down into town and then out the other side and up the hill to the railway station.

modernisation gare de Granville railway station Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022It only took me 25 minutes to reach the station this morning, with only one stop on the way, which is progress of a sort.

And at the station, I had a surprise. There has in the past been some kind of vague talk about some improvements at the station and today, they had fitted out the entrance hall with a pile of scaffolding.

It looks as if it’s “all systems go” and it will be interesting to see what they’ve been up to when I come back next month.

You can see the yellow boxes there. They are for passengers to use to stamp their tickets before they board the train. All paper tickets have to have a timestamp on them to make them valid.

84571 gec alstom regiolis gare de Granville railway station Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022Despite my being there early, the train was already on the point of pulling in, and that was a welcome sight. I didn’t have to sit outside in the cold.

Today I had a seat all to myself right next to the toilet so I didn’t even have to walk very far.

There was all of my work to back up from the large computer and while I was doing that I listened to my Hawkwind “concert” again. I stomped all my way to Paris, except for the 10 or 15 minutes when I was … errr … resting.

We were bang on time in Paris and the trip on the metro to the Gare du Nord was straightforward, especially my little walk along the street and I can’t understand why I didn’t check this before.

There was a bit of a laugh though. The metro was crowded but I managed to find a seat. A woman grabbed the seat next to me and beckoned to her daughter, who was about 11, to come and sit on her lap instead of standing up hanging onto a strap.

“I think that that’s a bit too baby” I said, which brought a smile from daughter and a sigh from mother, and despite repeated entreaties, daughter steadfastly refused to sit on her mother’s lap all the way to the Gare du Nord.

tgv inoui 225 tgv reseau duplex gare du nord paris France Eric Hall photo February 2022Having exchanged pleasantries with the guy with the teddy-bear, I went to find my train to Lille Flandres.

As usual, it was one of the TGV Reseau Duplex double-deckers, looking as if they are in need of a little paintwork these days. Nevertheless they are quite comfortable, even if there is only one power point per seat.

This afternoon I was lucky because I didn’t have a neighbour so we didn’t have to fight over the power point and I could carry on listening to Hawkwind and reading my story about a Michigan cavalry unit in the American Civil War all the way to Lille.

And for a change, I was on the lower deck. No fighting with the stairs

TGV POS 4404 gare de lille flandres railway station France Eric Hall photo February 2022At Lille I found that we had brought another trainset with us – one of the POS units from eastern France so once more it was something of a hybrid train.

In fact, it actually brought us because it was certainly coupled up at the front of our trainset and there weren’t any passengers at all on it, so I imagine they’ve taken advantage of our trainset to carry out a positioning voyage.

We were 8 minutes late arriving at Lille so we had to push on rather rapidly to Lille Europe for our train from Montpelier to Brussels. Some young woman was looking rather lost so I brought her with me and we had a nice chat. However when we reached the station she disappeared off somewhere else and that was that.

There were a couple of minutes to spare so I used them wisely in eating my butties, and then I had my little … errr … discussion on my train.

The journey to Brussels doesn’t take long so I didn’t mess about with the computer. I listened to an album that I’d stored on my phone.

Colosseum Live, one of the greatest live albums ever, and something bizarre usually happens to me whenever i hear it.

In the Canadian High Arctic in 2018 I had a strange encounter with an interesting young lady whom I met on board THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR while I was listening to it, and in The Canadian High Arctic in 2019 on the same ship sitting in the same seat on the same deck listening to the same album, I had an even more strange encounter with another even more interesting young lady, about which I’ll write one of these days.

However, to my dismay, nothing whatsoever happened this time to ignite my curiosity.

class 27 electric locomotive gare de leuven railway station belgium Eric Hall photo February 2022A train to Leuven was already in the station when I arrived – a push-me-pull-you – so I scrambled aboard, and we set off, at a snail’s pace, down the line.

When I arrived at Leuven I went to see what was pushing us and to my surprise it was one of the old Class 27 locomotives. 60 of them were built in the early 80s and they were the first of the modern generation of electric locomotives.

“Powerful” is not the word to describe these locomotives. One of this class pulled a train of 70 carriages, the longest passenger train ever assembled in the world, so I’ve no idea what was the matter with mine going so slowly.

At the back of the station is the little Match supermarket so I went there to buy the bread and drink for the next couple of days and then headed for my room

cherry pickers martelarenplein leuven belgium Eric Hall photo February 2022In the Martelarenplein they had a couple of cherry-pickers but they were parked up and it wasn’t easy to see what they had been doing.

Back here I didn’t have an upgrade but instead I’m in my usual room up two flights of stairs that kill me having to climb them.

After a coffee I … errr … relaxed for half an hour and then walked down to Delhaize for my shopping. I bought everything that I need and even “won” a trolley token from one that had jammed in an abandoned trolley. A trolley attendant saw me wrestling with it and gave me one from his pocket.

At some point I finally managed to catch up with the dictaphone notes. I was up in the Scottish Borders last night with a couple of young girls whom I met there once upon a time, at the festival indoor. The two girls were dancing. They were carrying bottles of drink around and I’m not sure why because they weren’t drinking them. We’d filmed them dancing, as well as quite a few others. We were watching it, and I can’t remember now, but she was most offended when she saw them dancing with the alcohol and had quite a lot to say about it. There was something about food too, making queues for the food and serving the queue, how if you had your food in one room you couldn’t go into another but eat in that room etc, something to do with the fact that some parts were licensed as a takeaway and some weren’t. It was all quite complicated. We were talking about my flat-bottomed boat festival. The film went on to talk about it and said about how these two girls would be invited to attend as well but of course the older one by this time had been killed so it was totally irrelevant.

It’s surprising, this little voyage, particularly about the death of one of these girls. In real life I’d actually met them a couple of times and then after one of our meetings, the older one was actually killed. She was driving to work early one morning when a German tourist who had driven up from Dover through the night without stopping pulled off the M74 onto the wrong side of the road and hit her head-on.

In her ancient and frail Open Corsa, she didn’t stand a chance.

Regular readers of this rubbish in one of its many previous guises will recall that the after-effects of this accident were quite considerable and are still rumbling on today

Later on we were back at the Scottish Borders again later and there was another girl there in between the age of these two girls, probably about 15 or so. She was dancing as well but I can’t remember where this started or why it was significant.

My friend Marianne was in hospital so I’d been staying in her apartment. I’d been there for five months from September until February. There was some talk that she might come out very soon so I’d had to have a good go round and tidy everything up and make sure that everything was where it was supposed to be, all of her clothes and everything, find her bank cards, find her money and all that. It was extremely complicated. At one point I found her cassette player so I put some music on and was listening to that while I was working. When I’d finished in the bedroom I couldn’t make up my mind whether to leave it on or switch it off. In the end I switched it off but this was something extremely emotional, all of this.

I was with Lise last night (and who is Lise?), on my way home in a car. There was some kind of news report about an Italian who had done something and taken an Israeli person hostage. I was driving home and I came to the road junction which I thought that I needed but for some reason I couldn’t see clearly out of the car. I ended up driving past so I had to find a place to turn round. I came to a place in a village where I could turn round but parked in a field were a couple of steam traction engines, all overgrown and covered in weeds, creepers etc so I went to take a photo of them. No matter how I tried I couldn’t find a decent viewpoint. In the end, after a while, I gave it up as a bad job, went back into the car, turned round. Then I noticed several ruined buildings from the Middle Ages so I stopped to take a photo. All these kids swarmed around me and kept on standing in front of the lens so I didn’t have a clear shot. Then the camera wasn’t recognising the lens. This was proving to be extremely awkward. In the end I was having to push these kids out of the way but the more I pushed, the more they formed back and kids started appearing from everywhere. I never did take that photo.

And that wasn’t all either. But as you are eating your tea right now I’ll spare you the gory details.

Now that I’ve had my tea, I’m off to bed. It’s early but I’m exhausted and I have my hospital appointment tomorrow so I need to be fighting fit. 123% of my daily activity deserves a good rest.


Sunday 13th June 2021 – SUNDAY IS …

vegan pizza place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall… pizza day as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, and so for the first time for several weeks, having been stranded in Leuven a couple of weeks ago and then having had visitors last weekend, I’ve been having pizza withdrawal symptoms.

And so I made myself a nice pizza today, and put on it a bit of everything that I had. And it was delicious too. A really good way to end a weekend in my opinion.

But no dessert tonight though. The pizza was quite filling and there was no more room left. And that’s just as well, for I didn’t fancy the rice pudding that was left anyway. That’s destined for the bin and for the remaining 2 nights that I’m here before I go off to Leuven I’ll drag some apple pie out of the freezer. There’s a ton of that in there.

This morning, the lie-in wasn’t as long as I would have liked. Or maybe it was because I’ve complained about some of these mega-lie-ins in the past. Being up and about by 09:25 is probably realistic.

Mind you there are some who disagree. I remember once when I was staying with a friend that I always liked a lie-in on Sunday. She replied “you can stay in bed until 09:00 if you like”. I remembered that I thought that round about 09:01 some sharp words would be spoken.

After the mountain of medication I came in here and had a listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night. We started off with something going on last night about Liz’s chocolate cake and something or other involving music but I can’t remember what it was. It was another one of those things that when I awoke it disappeared completely from m mind, not that there’s much to hold it in these days.

At another time I was in a pub in Crewe – it might have been the Cheese Hall – talking to the barmaid, someone I knew. It might have been some girl with whom I worked at one time even. A guy (someone who was once a friend of mine and with whom she’d once gone out) came in and said to her “don’t think I’m prying or anything but have you seen anything of do-and-so?” and he mentioned a guy’s name. It turned out to be a guy who I got on well with fairly reasonably. She asked why and he replied “I didn’t want to say anything but he and I became champions of the George’s pools team on Monday night so of course we were all giving him our congratulations and there were the usual “how many people entered? Just two?” that kind of thing. We got talking and he was working on boats. He said how he would love to be working on cruises one day. That gave me an idea and I immediately, well, not signed him up but got him to be interested in a project that I was doing involving cruises and I was thinking of hiring the THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR. I can’t remember where I’d go with it but I’d get all of my friends as stewards and stewardesses and we’d go off and have a really good time like we did at the time of the institution.

I was at my sister’s in Canada. I’ve no idea what I was doing there. She was talking about changing jobs or she had a new job, something like that. As I was tidying things up, on the settee I came across a folder that was talking about her new job. I forgot myself and started to read it. I’s read about 2 pages before I realised that everyone else was in the room so I shut it and moved it. There was a black cat actually sitting in the fire and it was smoking so I had to move it away otherwise it would catch fire. My sister said something about le being on the settee so I had this pair of pliers in my hand so I showed her this pair of pliers that I said I’d pinched my hand with. I was thinking while I was there about getting a MIG-welding set so that I could start to weld up all of the vehicles that I had to repair. Then we were back again hunting for the vehicles that I’d dumped all round Crewe somewhere and wondering where they were and whether I should go and collect a few back.

That bit about having Ford Cortinas dumped all over Crewe was at one time a recurring dream but it’s one that I’ve not had for a little while.

The first mission for today, if I chose to accept it, was to defrost the fridge. The pizza dough is in the freezer compartment and that has all iced up and I can’t even open the little door, never mind get anything out. So I took most things out, put a towel at the bottom, switched it off and let nature do its bit.

Second task was one that I had been putting off for quite a while. as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I’ve been digitalising my record collection for the last 18 months or so. There are a good few cassettes that need recording digitally and I’ve yet to find a successful means to do it.

One thing that I tried was to couple up an old tape deck and run a line out into the Zoom H1 but that didn’t work all that well.

This morning I resurrected an old amp, connected all of that up (which involved no little amount of manipulation and even some tidying up). The net result of that was a set of pierced eardrums from the headphones that I was using.

So having ruled that out, I’m now back to the only other remaining idea that I have, of using one of the old laptops with a lead from the hifi in the other room.

I wish that I’d remembered to bring the old cassette player back from the Auvergne last year. I had such success with that years ago.

Giving the stack of ice in the fridge a prod every now and then, I next split up a few more LPs that I’d recorded a long time ago. Just a few more to go now and that task will be finished. Then there will only be the cassettes to deal with.

That took me up to lunch. And as usual these days I had porridge and a couple of slices of toast, followed by coffee.

Having spent the morning shuffling the music around and dealing with the fridge (all done with and finished now) this afternoon I’ve been attacking photos from August 2019.

And by the time I knocked off, I was actually standing with my feet in between some real waggon ruts from the 1840s and 50s right in the middle of South Pass – the “real” bit of South Pass where I was actually supposed to be.

From here, it’s all downhill to Winnipeg and then to Toronto where my Voyage of Destiny begins.

Right now, though, I’m going on my Voyage of Destiny outside the building.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOf course, we have to go out and have a look at how things are doing on the beach this afternoon.

And sure enough, there were crowds of people down there too because today was the hottest day of the year so far and there was hardly any wind to speak of, which will come as a big surprise to most of you. As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, this has been the windiest year that I can ever remember.

And in case you are wondering about the change in perspective of the photo today, I’m not at my usual spec down at he end of the car park. I’ve gone the other way round and I’m in the Rue du Nord heading off around the walls.

people swimming in medieval fish trap plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallNow here’s a thing that will take many people by surprise.

Where those kids and other folk are swimming is actually in the old medieval fish trap. And that shows you that it’s still reasonably effective at what it does compared to more modern techniques because the concrete tidal swimming pool has drained itself of all of its water. Modern isn’t always best.

All that we can hope for is that some old medieval fishwife with a home-made trident doesn’t actually spear a small boy instead of a fish by mistake, or else another small boy doesn’t have his toe bitten by a crab that is bent on making good its escape before a fishwife can grab it.

people playing football sunbathing on beach plat gouseet Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallMy route continued around the walls until I came to the viewpoint overlooking the Plat Gousset, where I could see what was going on down there.

That spec down there really is protected from the wind and so if the crowds were going to be anywhere today, that was where they would be. And I’m not wrong as we? We have some kind of informal football match going on on an impromptu pitch down by the diving platform (which has now been reinstated for the summer) and a few other private kick-abouts among the dozens of people sunning themselves.

But I have no time to stand and watch them. I’m pushing off around the corner and across the Square Maurice Marland to see what’s happening there.

seagull with chicks rue des juifs Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThe first thing that I do is to have a look to see how the various families of seagulls and their chicks are going.

This little family was quite interesting and I spent quite an amount of time watching them. One seagull chick was being quite well-behaved but the other one was having quite a dispute or something with its mother and I wasn’t sure why. But when I saw them, the mother and chick were taking it in turns to chase each other around the roof here in the Rue Des Juifs.

The baby chick was giving its mother some nasty pecks in what I can only describe as some kind of teenage seagull angst. And I really ought to have stayed around to see how the situation developed.

seagull chicks rue des juifs Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallDown at the other end of the Place Maurice Marland were a few more seagull chicks. And here, there seemed to be no parent in sight. It’s not like a seagull parent to fly off and leave the chicks unattended so this is rather an unusual situation.

What, however, seems to be a usual situation is the state of the place. There was some kind of campaigner campaigning about the previous mayor and how she had let the place become run-down.

But I wonder what our anonymous blogger has to say about the new mayor who not only has let the place deteriorate even more, but many of te kiddies’ amusements are blocked off and many of those that aren’t have been removed.

And at summer time too when the tourists are here.

crafts stalls rue notre dame Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallInto the Rue Notre Dame I went, but I didn’t get very far before I was brought to a standstill by the crowds.

On my way into the old city I noticed that there were diversions everywhere and there were signs telling us that “an event” was taking place. And so there was too. It’s another one of these craft fair things where people sell the the most overpriced in-bad-taste articles at the kind of prices that would make even a Bond Street salesman blush.

For quie a while now I’ve been trying to find a nice seascape original to hang in my living room, but not at the kind of prices that they are asking here, even if I were to find anything half-decent, which is most unlikely.

craft stalls rue cambernon Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThe Place Cambernon and Rue Cambernon were lined with stalls too, but I wasn’t going to push my way down there with all of those people thronging around carrying God-alone-knows-what kind of virus with them.

And that was what appalled me, quite frankly. The Préfet of the département has decreed that face masks are compulsory until 30th June but you only have to look at this photo and the previous one to see that half of the people aren’t wearing them and of the other half, half of those aren’t wearing them properly.

Where are the authorities who are supposed to be enforcing this measure? I headed for home rapidly and my nice cold strawberry smoothie with ginger cake. And I’ve timed this hospital trip quite nicely because I’m right down on cake.

What else can I persuade the hospital to chop off so that Liz will feel sorry for me and bake another cake?

Anyway, having had tea and written my notes, I’m off to bed. I have the radio stuff to do tomorrow, followed by a visit to have a Covid test. It’s non-stop, isn’t it?

Sunday 25th April 2021 – THERE’S BEEN SOME …

zodiac english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall… excitement out at sea this afternoon, as I noticed when I went out for my afternoon walk today.

There I was, gazing out to sea while I was leaning on the wall at the end of the car park and I could see something rather rapid heading my way from somewhere out by the Channel Islands. At first I couldn’t make out what it was. It clearly wasn’t a fishing boat travelling at that speed and so I reckoned that it might have been some kind of speedboat.

But as as came closer and closer, I could see that it was in fact a zodiac. And that was something that bewildered me because I couldn’t see where it had come from. It’s hardly likely to have come all the way over from the Channel islands.

zodiac with small inflatable boat in tow Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallIt performed a few manoeuvres around and about and then it departed in the direction from which it had come, towing behind a small inflatable boat.

That was something rather strange because I couldn’t see where the boat had come from. I didn’t notice it being towed behind the zodiac as it came across the sea. So what was all that about then?

There was another surprise for me this morning. I sat bolt upright at about 08:10 wondering why the alarm hadn’t gone off at 06:00 like it was supposed to, and being rather depressed that I’d missed a couple of hours of the day. It took me all of half an hour to suddenly realised that it’s Sunday and there isn’t an alarm today.

It’s a good job that I hadn’t left my bed. 10:15 is a much more realistic time to leave my bed on a Sunday.

First task today after the medication was to listen to the dictaphone. Tons of stuff on there from yesterday which I’ve now put on line, and then details of last night’s little outings.

We started off doing something about ballet. There was a girl who was a ballerina and I had boughtsome point shoes for her. It was her birthday as well and I’d spent ages working on a card for her and one or two other names on there of people who had wished her a happy birthday but most of the work in there was mine. There was some kind of gangland boss who had something of an interest in her too but only a mere passing but she dashed off to see him with this card. He interrogated her about “who’d done this” and “who’d done that” and “who’d done something else”? From her her of course it was always me. I had the impression that any moment now my number would be up at this rate.

A little later I was doing something in a junk shop. I’d gone into a junk shop and it really was a junk shop with all kinds of stuff piled everywhere. It was impossible to know where to even begin to look for anything. I’d been talking to someone a bit earlier who said that he was going to be looking for a part-time job. There was even a tie swinging over a rail with a hand-written notice on it “looking for work” and his phone number on it. These guys were in here trying to do something and they had to go out. As they went out, the radio suddenly came on with 1 of these really atmospheric stations from miles away playing music. I thought “I’d better leave this. I don’t want to become involved in this” so I went out as well and closed the door behind me. But then I was thinking on “what an absolutely vile apartment this would be. How would I possibly manage to have lived in a place like this when I was a kid, a young adult”? Which was what I had done, I lived in some dreadful places. I look back now and think “I would never ever have done that”. While I was thinking about this I was back in Winsford in my house there and they were building an extension to the housing estate, or there were some plans to, and I was waiting eagerly for the site to be unveiled so that I could go along and reserve a new plot and get myself a better house. I thought “God, how my standards have changed”!

Sometime later I was with Marianne in the USA and we were with a group of people. It was to do with speaking another language and I can’t remember if it was to do with French or Spanish. Most of the people who were there were people who had been on there before – there were only 2 of us who hadn’t. I asked “are we going to be visiting Mexico on this trip”? She replied “the situation in Mexico is extremely difficult. We’ll be only going there if so-and-so (this other new guy) wants to go”. I said “how come I haven’t been asked? I’m a new guy as well. I’ve not been to Mexico and i’d really like to go”. I noticed that where Marianne was standing were these 2 enormous tortoises that were loitering around and they were about to walk over her feet.

Next thing was to check on my sourdough fruit bread. It hadn’t risen very much at all yet again, but I gave it a second
kneading, shaped it and put it in its mould for its second proofing. And for the rst of the morning I didn’t do very much at all.

After my lunchtime porridge and finding that I had run out of pizza dough, I had a major washing-up and cleaning session in the kitchen and made another batch of dough.

later on I went out for my afternoon walk.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallFirst thing that I did of course was to go to the end of the car park and look down over the wall onto the beach.

There were a few people down there this afternoon, not as many as there might have been yesterday and that’s no surprise because the weather has changed dramatically today. The heatwave that we had yesterday has gone and the temperature has dropped.

Not only that, the really strong wind has come back again and I was having to hang onto my cap. It’s probably strong enough to have blown everyone back indoors and that will account for the lack of people.

But isn’t it a surprise that the weather has changed for the worse now that I’ve come back home?

zodiac with small inflatable boat english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd then we were back at the zodiac again.

While it was doing its stuff out there in the English Channel I’d taken a few photos of it, and went to enlarge them when I returned home. And this one particularly caught my eye. It looks as if the little inflatable boat has risen up out of the sea, and there’s a frogman in attendance.

It would seem to have all of the hallmarks of some kind of maritime rescue exercise, but I might be able to find out more by looking at the local press tomorrow morning.

So leaving that for another time I walked off along the path at the top of the cliffs while the zodiac and its entourage disappeared back out to sea.

yacht baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOn the other side of the headland there was yet more activity going on out at sea, this time in the Baie de Mont St Michel.

Someone was having a nice afternoon out in a little yacht, cruising up and down of the Plage d’Hacqueville between Granville and St Pair sur Mer. And you do have to admit that this was the right kind of the weather for it.

There are quite a few people out over there on the beach too. More than there are across here. It’s probably something to do with the fact that the bay over there is probably more in the shelter of the wind than it is over here.

And I have some planning to do about yachting next time I’m out and about, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall.

people fishing on rocks seated on bench pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOver here at the end of the headland there are quite a few signs of life. More than there have been on the footpath on top of the cliffs from where I’ve just come, because I can’t have encountered more than half a dozen people on my walk so far.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that fishing is quite a popular pastime carried on by the local inhabitants. Whether it’s from a fishing boat, on the beach at the very low tide, or from the rocks with rod and line. And it’s that latter that’s being practised today, although, once more, I have yet to see anyone actually catch anything.

And the couple sitting on the bench down at the end of the headland by the watchman’s cabin – I wonder how long they will be sitting there and whether they will have more luck than me in watching someone pull a fish out of the sea.

anakena aztec lady chantier navale port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallThe chantier navale is one of the most important sights that we visit during our post-prandial perambulations around the headland, and I was keen to see what was going on down there.

However, despite my absence over the past three or four days, there have been no changes in the occupants down there. Anakena and Aztec Lady are still in there, but that’s about it. No-one new has come along to join them while I was away.

But look at the crowds of people and vehicles around Aztec Lady this afternoon. Even though it’s a Sunday and therefore a Day of Rest, they are still hard at it down there like there is no tomorrow.

There are a few people working on Anakena too, although not quite at the same rhythm.

boats moored in outer harbour port de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Halland there have been a lot of goings-on in the outer tidal harbour over the last few days while I was away.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that over the past few weeks they have been doing some preparatory work on installing new mooring chains there and just before we came away, we saw them starting to fit them in place.

But now, we have some small boats actually tied up to them, and so that would seem to indicate that the work is finally finished. But they don’t seem to have done too much for the amount of time and money that they have spent.

You can just about make out the little white buoys that bob up to the surface when the tide is in. They mark the position of the chains and give the boatman some kind of indication where to fish around with his boathook when he needs to tie up to them.

Back here I had a coffee and then gave the pizza dough its second kneading.

Then I prepared a large apple crumble. I do have to say that thats my favourite dessert and it should be even better today because I give the crumble mix a really good mixing, and added some fresh ginger to the apple to give it a certain little extra.

When the sourdough and the crumble went into the oven I divided the pizza dough into 3, put two portions in the freezer and the third one I rolled out and put into the pizza tray. And when it had been in there for 45 minutes I assembled it.

vegan pizza sourdough fruit loaf apple crumble place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhen the sourdough and the crumble were cooked the pizza went into the oven. And here are all of the finished products – the sourdough fruit bread which has for once risen impressively, the apple crumble and the pizza.

The pizza was delicious which is always good news, and I’ll tell you about the sourdough and the crumble tomorrow night because I wasn’t hungry after my pizza.

In something of a desultory fashion during a few pauses I’ve been editing photos again from August 2019. Not very many, but nevertheless I’m now on my way from Fort Reno down to Fort Fetterman. Normal service is slowly being resumed and I’ll get back up to speed tomorrow, I hope

But that’s tomorrow. Right now I’m off to bed as I reckon that I’ve done enough for today. I’ll start off with radioing of course and I’ll see where I get to after that.

Wednesday 24th March 2021 – WHAT A HORRIBLE …

… day I’ve had today.

Everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong today and I’m thoroughly fed up. Instead of arriving at my room at round about 16:30 it was 20:45 when I limped miserably through the door.

The day started off OK with me being out of bed just after the first alarm and I even had a shower and fed the ginger and the sourdough. For some reason though I didn’t do any tidying up. I just didn’t feel like it and that was the start of the day going wrong.

But anyway I set off into town and the railway station.

unloading lorry port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that yesterday we saw a lorry at the loading bay in the inner port dropping off a pile of stuff.

This morning there was another one there dropping off another big load of stuff down there, as I noticed as I walked past. It’s almost a certainty that one of the Jersey freighters is on its way in and my money is on it being Normandy Trader.

Having observed it all for a few minutes I headed off down the hill and through the town, going the back way to the railway station again.

84563 gec alstom regiolis gare de Granville railway station Manche Normandy France Eric HallMy train was already in the station when I arrived so I clambered aboard. Today, it was just 6 carriages, not twelve as usual, and it was pretty empty.

And then all our problems began.

We ground to a halt somewhere along the way and sat there for 50 minutes. It seemed that a car had tried to beat the barrier of a level crossing but failed. We had to wait until they had come along to drag the car away before we could proceed.

As a result, we were an hour late arriving in Paris Montparnasse and I had missed my connectons to Belgium.

And here things became even worse. As I was going down an escalator my legs simply gave way underneath me and I fell heavily to the ground. And I didn’t even have the strength in my legs to pick myself up. A couple of passers-by had to help me very shakily to my feet.

The pain in my right leg right now tells me that my right knee has collapsed.

Having missed the 13:15 to Lille, the next train was at 15:42 and that filled me full of despair. This is what happens when you try to travel in the middle of a pandemic.

TGV Reseau 213 gare du nord paris France Eric HallIt was necessary to wait almost 2 hours, two hours that I couldn’t really spare, before we could board our train.

It’s one of the TGV Reseau double-decker units on which we travel quite regularly to Lille. This train wasn’t particularly busy either and everyone had a seat to themselves. It left Paris a few minutes late but pushed on quite rapidly and we made up the time. We arrived in Lille Flanders railway station bang on time.

Now I had to walk across town to the Lille Europe railway station and in my state I wasn’t looking forward to that. It was something of a disreputable stagger down the street for my part.

TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt 4518 gare lille europe France Eric HallThis is the front end of the train that I was going to catch to Brussels. It was two units coupled together and I was in the rear one.

And I was really glad to see it because I discovered to my dismay at Lille Europe that my next train out of Lille Europe to Brussels was at 18:11. A wait of about 80 minutes. That wasn’t at all what I wanted to hear but there was nothing whatever that I could do.

When I was in Paris I’d looked to see if there was a “Thalys” direct to Brussels. Indeed there was but that meant waiting around at Paris even longer and an extra cost of €68:00 to save about 20 minutes.

TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt 4510 France Eric HallAnyway, my train turned up on time.

Like the front end, the rear end is another one of the PBKA Reseau 38000 units. I suppose that they have been decanted onto this route seeing as much of the TGV network has closed down under the new Covid restrictions.

This train was quite empty too. Despite it being the only train for several hours, it was almost empty too. I had a nice little sleep on board for 20 minutes until we arrived in Brussels and I awoke with rather a start as we pulled into the Gare du Midi.

Being now hopelessly late I had a look in the tow supermarkets in the station for some food as I was in no state to walk all the way down to the ones in Luven later and they would probably be closed by the time that I arrive.

But with nothing at all that I could buy so I went up to catch my train the Leuven.

multiple unit am80 automotrice gare du midi brussels belgium Eric HallIt’s another one of these disreputable AM 80 automotrice multiple units that must be the next sets to go for the chop, old, dirty and graffiti-ridden as they are.

But it was on time, such as it was, and brought me on time into Leuven where negotiating the steps in the station was not the easiest thing that I have done.

Luckily the chip shop around the corner was open so I grabbed a bag of chips and headed for my room. And here I had to wrestle with the door of the safe in order to extract my key. It was not easy as the combination did not accord with the one that they sent me.

But in the words of Marshall MacMahon, “j’y suis, j’y reste” – “here I am and here I’m staying”. I’m not up to going anywhere right now as I’m in agony and I’ll have to do better than this tomorrow if I’m going to make it to the hospital

There’s shopping to do to and I’ve no idea how I’m going to manage this. All will come clearer tomorrow after I’ve had a good night’s sleep and I’m going for that right now.

In fact I had to wait until the following morning before i could listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night. I started off with Marianne going to North America. I pulled up on the airport car park like we would do every 4 weeks when we went. The first thing that we noticed was that there were 2 cars, an MGB sports car and another one that were there the last time that we went. Marianne said “ohh look! There they are again”. “Yes, they are probably saying the same thing about us”. We went into the airport, sat down and had to wait. I noticed that there were a couple of other couples whom we knew by sight who had been with us on previous voyages there. Marianne asked for a breakfast so I went to find the cafe kind of place. They made some toast and a couple of other things and some coffee and I had a slice of toast as well. I took them back out and dropped them on the table but she wasn’t there. She was off doing something. I put the stuff on the table and went to the bathroom. In there I met 1 of the guys whom I’d just mentioned who’d been with us before, and we had a little chat. I looked in the mirror. My hair was overgrown, needed cutting and I was dressed so untidily, shirt and tie everywhere. I thought “God I really could have done with tidying myself up before I’d come away but it’s too late to worry about that now. I went back outside and Marianne had this huge fried breakfast, mushrooms, bacon and egg, beans, sausages, everything and I wondered where on earth she’s got that from. But she was there tucking into this breakfast.

Later I was in New York going to pick up THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR. The night before, I’d met a couple of people, I’d been staying in a …. and so on. We all had to bring our baggage around on board ship the next day. The next morning I was up early and I bumped into a young Japanese American boy who had flown in from South Africa. We had had a chat about the flights to South Africa, all kinds of things. There was a third person who was not actually going with us on this trip. The 2 of us, we set out to go somewhere. Off we went and walked around the town a little looking at the sights. We somehow became separated – he wandered off with this other person. I thought that I had better start back to the ship. I couldn’t realise or remember what time I had to be back. I had this feeling that I was going to be horribly late so I started o panic a little. I ended up in Crewe at the top end of Victoria Street thinking to myself that I would have to get to the boat. it was just them that Julie Driscoll started to sing “Wheel’s On Fire”. As I was walking down Victoria Street I could hear that song playing.

Before that there had been something about the Army. A couple of us had been in the Army and we’d been rounded up to go somewhere. We weren’t particularly military and the Sergeant-Major who was with us was a bit of a swine. It was quite obvious that we were rubbing each other up the wrong way with the way that we were behaving because we had no military precision whatsoever and he was extremely annoyed by this. The place was a total tip and we wanted it tidying up but it was one of those places that was so untidy that we didn’t know where to start. When we first got to this place there was a girl there and we helped her with one or two things and then she went. Then it came round to the time ready to go early in the morning so we started to tidy up. There was some kind of hoist or breaker that we had to bring upstairs. We went downstairs to look for it but down there was even worse with tools and machinery everywhere. We couldn’t find what we were looking for. There were a few things that might possibly have been it but he didn’t seem to think that they were. This ended up being rather a hunt for this rather than a tidy-up. This girl came in and asked if anyone could fix a light for her because the plug wouldn’t reach. The Sergeant and I went to do it. We managed to find an extension cable that we had to cut into 2. This place was just not being tidied up and it was now 17:00 and the next group of people would be arriving imminently. We didn’t have this place tidied at all and it was really looking a mess.

Monday 28th December 2020 – HERE I ALL AM …

… not exactly sitting in a rainbow but pretty near enough. I’m curled up around a radiator in my little home from home in Leuven where I’ll be staying until Sunday.

And much as I like Leuven, it’s a pretty dismal state of affairs because firstly Alison is stranded in the UK by the new Covid rules and my appointment has now been pushed back until Thursday as I discovered today. So I could really have spent an extra two days at home, travelled on Wednesday and come home on Saturday thus saving a third day out.

But you live and learn.

What else you learn the longer that you live is that you can do it when you really try and so not only did I beat the third alarm, I was up and out of bed and running around while the 1st alarm was still ringing. And so plenty of time to tidy up, have a shower, take out the rubbish, back up the computer, send off a pile of radio files, make some sandwiches for lunch and cut a large slice of fruit bread to take with me for breakfast – pretty good and nourishing stuff, this fruit bread.

Tons of stuff on the dictaphone too, And what surprised me was that I was able to leave the bed so early with all of this going on. I’m surprised that I’d even made it back home.

I was having to make tea for Marianne last night and the guy she was having to sit with who was ill so I made them a kind of roast dinner as best as I could which didn’t look too bad. But I realised that on his plate I’d forgotten the gravy so I mixed up a white sauce and put it on his plate and went to add the gravy powder to mix in, but first I added chocolate powder. I thought “that will never do” so I scraped it off the plate and put another lot on. The next thing that I tried to put on was coffee powder and hat didn’t work either. It took about 3 or 4 goes for me to actually get his sauce right
Before that, I’d been out for a walk and there were a couple of people loitering around so we had a bit of an ad-hoc game of football and it was quite pleasurable. I came back into the house. Later on that evening when I was writing up my notes I couldn’t settle and I couldn’t make myself comfortable, moving from 1 chair to the next and 1 machine to the next, then trying to find some paper to write it out in longhand. In the end I settled on a shorthand notes reporter’s diary but found out that it was full. All the time my brother was asking me questions about this and that and I was trying to answer him as well, and I was trying to write out this report and I wanted to embellish it, to make it look a lot more than it is but I could never do it. I was getting so confused by the fact that I just couldn’t get comfortable and couldn’t make a start and couldn’t get anywhere with this
Art one time a girl dresses as a ballerina appeared on the scene and you could see according to the effort that she was putting into it and the way that she was walking and holding herself that it was a great big effort. I hoped that she would hold out physically and with the virus because it would be very sad if she were to succumb to it with all of this effort.
Later on I had to go and pick up Alvin from Hampton Close. I had my motorbike, my old CX and I decided that i’d go and pick him up. That went OK for a while until I got to Chester and I thought that I’d better programe the route to Hampton Close on my GPS because it’s years since I’ve been there. I spent ages fiddling around trying to make the GPS work. I had to drop off something at someone’s place and coming back I couldn’t make the GPS work. It took ages with all of this messing about to get it to go. The bracket broke off it and when I made it work I couldn’t programme it. It was all a nightmare, this journey was for some reason. Suddenly it worked and it was 18 minutes to there but I only had 15 minutes left but I thought that that’s not too much of a problem. He’s not going to be that concerned. Then I noticed on the back of the butty box the L plates had all faded off and you couldn’t read that it was an L plate. I was worrying about that for a while but suddenly realised that I didn’t need L plates on it because I had a full licence. Yes, I had to post off Ann’s present, that’s why I’d stopped and had to take it to the post office. Then Alvin came. he was there. I told him the story of my adventures which he thought was hilarious. We mounted the bike ready to move off to wherever we were going to next.

I’d gone out for a walk and I was the other side of Sandbach close to the motorway. I’d taken the wrong route which I’d taken before which was a dead end and I had to retrace all my steps. This time though I thought that I’d push on and climb up this embankment at the side of the motorway into a field and walk along the field at the edge There’s bound to be a bridge that goes over at some point I walked on and by now the motorway had transformed into a canal so I was walking along the towpath of an abandoned canal. It gradually came into a little village. I was really enjoying this walk and thought that this is going to end bu around Middlewich way. It’s a long way home but it will be really nice and i’ll stop for an ice cream. I walked through this little village. There was a shop there with its shutters half down. I thought an ice cream would be nice but i’ll push on to the next village. At this point there was some guy messing around in the road. He couldn’t make up his mind whether to go left or right so I swerved round him, making some kind of remark but banged my hip on a parked car. he didn’t say anything aboutt hat but he was going on and on about what he was doing. So I dropped in that I was working on the radio and things that I was doing that I’d inflated. Then he had to go and sort out a puncture in his car so I took him as a passenger in mine which was strange because I’d been walking up to this point. There were 3 of us in the end in this car. He was still going on about his radio and I was still going on about mine. He was saying “that’s a fine hobby to have”. I said “it’s a bit more than a hobby”. We reached Middlewich in the end and he told me where he wanted me to drop him off. he asked how much he owed me for the ride. I replied “nothing. I hope that someone would do the same for me some day if I ever need it”.

But the walk around Sandbach and Middlewich reminded me of a walk that I’d been on during a nocturnal ramble when I’d set out to walk from Chester to Nantwich via, of all places, Wrexham. Or as the skunk said when the wind changed – “it all comes back to me now”.

christmas lights rue lecampion Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallHaving organised myself as much as I could, I headed out for the railway station.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we haven’t as yet seen the town’s Christmas light in all their glory but this morning they were illuminated. My route took me up the Rue Lecampion and we can see here exactly what they have done as far as this street goes.

In fact, it’s all rather underwhelming, isn’t it? I can recall the decorations from last year being so much better than these. It looks as if the town has been on an economy drive this year.

christmas lights place generale de gaulle Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallA few days ago in the daylight we had a trip around the back of the kiddies’ roundabout in the Place Generale de Gaulle to see what they had been doing there.

This morning, the Christmas lights were illuminated here too and we can see how they are getting on now. On the left illuminated by a pink light is supposed to be a wooden polar bear, and I suppose that a blind man would be pleased to see it. And strangely enough, a couple of Christmas trees further along weren’t lit up at all. That’s a strange decision.

The newspaper offices at the end of the street are all rather garish and somewhat tasteless but I don’t suppose that there is any particular reason for them to bother themselves too much.

christmas lights cours jonville Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallFinally, I walked along the Cours Jonville.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that a few weeks ago we saw the electricians stringing up the light in the trees down here with a cherry picker. With the lights being on, we can see their handiwork today. It’s all nice, bright and airy, but it doesn’t exactly inspire the imagination, does it? The could have done much more than this with the facilities that they have.

But I wasn’t going to hang about and argue. By now the rain had started again so I pushed off towards the railway station. And the farther I went, the more and the harder the rain fell.

gec Alstom Regiolis 84574 gare de Granville railway station Manche Normandy France Eric HallBy the time that I reached the railway station I resembled something like a haggard, drowned rat. But at least my train was already in the platform so once I’d stamped my ticket I was able to clamber aboard and find my seat.

Today I was right by the rest room and right in front of the luggage rack so it was something of a convenient seat. No-one sitting next to me either so I could eat my fruit bread and fruit in comparative quiet and luxury.

To while away the journey I uploaded all of the backup files that I’d done this morning and then started to go through to identify duplicate files and remove the earlier versions

snow near vire Normandy France Eric HallIf you think that the rain that we were having was pretty rough, we weren’t having it as rough as some people were.

By the time that our train reached the region in between Vire and Argentan the heavy rain had turned to snow and thrre was a lovely white colour in the fields all around the train as we sped on to Paris. It didn’t hold my attention for very long though because I dozed off to sleep. And when I awoke again near Versailles we had long-since left it behind.

We reached Paris more or less on time and compared to how it has been just recently, it was quite busy. And we had to wait a while for a Metro which was something of a surprise.

And somewhere along the route a couple of cleaners climbed into the train with a cleaning machine the size of a small zamboni. That disrupted everyone on board.

TGV Reseau Duplex 213 gare du Nord Paris France Eric HallWe arrived at the Gare du Nord in Paris with plenty of time to spare and I was luck enough to find a seat straight away where I could sit in comparative comfort until our train was called. These big French mainline stations are draughty, windswept affairs with very little public seating.

Today’s train is one of the usual TGV Reseau Duplex double-decker trains, old but comfortable and rattle along at a rapid rate of knots towards Lille. it was crowded too, although once again I was lucky enough to have a double seat all to myself so that I could eat my sandwiches in comfort.

And that bread that I made the other day is delicious. And furthermore, there’s half a loaf awaiting me in the freezer for when I return, along with the leftover frozen leeks, broccoli and endives.

TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt 4525 Gare du Midi Brussels Belgium Eric HallWe were a few minutes late arriving in Lille Flandres Railway Station so we had something of a scramble across town to the Lille Europe railway station for the TGV coming from the Midi that was going to take us on to Brussels.

By the time we arrived, the train was already in the station so making sure this time that it was in fact the correct train, I dashed on board to grab my seat. This time I wasn’t quite as lucky. I had a neighbour which meant that unfortunately I wasn’t able to spread myself out very much.

One thing that I forgot to do with this one was to check the times so I couldn’t tell how the journey went. But it passed off without any incident.

multiple unit automotrice AM80 303 Gare du Midi Brussels Belgium Eric HallArriving in Brussels I was in time for the 15:37 to Leuven and Liège. That was late pulling into the station and with a technician scrambling around in the drivers cab, it was very much later pulling out.

It’s one of the old, dirty graffiti-ridden AM80 multiple units and it’s high time that these relics of a bygone age were put out to grass somewhere but it brought us into Leuven and now that the rain had stopped I had a nice walk down to my hotel in the Dekenstraat.

For a change they’ve put me in a different room than usual, but it’s still an upgrade so I’m not complaining. And there was a little Christmas present for me too which was a lovely little touch.

Later on I went to the Carrefour and stocked up with shopping, but I forgot a few things like the vegan mayonnaise so I’ll have to go again. And I failed to notice that the tinned apricots didn’t have a ring-pull so I had to hack my way in as best as I could.

Having fallen asleep already while typing out my notes, I’m off to bed. No alarm – I’m having a lie in tomorrow. And then I have several days of Welsh homework to catch up with. There will be the dictaphone notes too, and another trip to the shops for the stuff that I forgot so it isn’t actually going to be very much of a day of rest

Wednesday 28th October 2020 – IN WHAT MAY COME …

waves on promenade plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall… as a surprise to most of the regular readers of this rubbish who might recall the difficulties that I might be having these days? I actually beat the third alarm yet again!

Well sort-of. I was sitting on the edge of the bed with both feet on the floor when it went off. Not exactly what I would call “lively” – you mustn’t go round expecting too much from me these days – but it was good enough to count.

So while you admire a few more photos of the tremendous waves that we have been having, smashing down on the promenade over by the Plat Gousset and making all of the kids squeal as they are drenched by a downpour as the spray falls to earth, I’ll tell you all about it.

waves on promenade plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallLast night, I didn’t actually find anything additional to do after I’d finished my notes – except to make a start on downloading the data files from the old travelling laptop onto an external drive for safety.

And it can do most of that itself. It doesn’t really need all that much of my help to do that. Mind you, I was surprised to see it fire up without a hitch although it took its usual while to fire up, but that’s only to be expected.

Once I had started it off, I snuggled myself down the bedclothes to get warm in the hope that I could have another interesting night after last night’s lack of excitement. Like I have said … “on many occasions” – ed … my voyages during the night are much more interesting and exciting that what I get up to during the day these days, and I miss it when I don’t go anywhere.

waves on promenade plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut I wasn’t disappointed last night. There were voyages a-plenty.

Last night I started off baking bread and there was something about getting it all ready before the Army came which was in effect me getting it ready before I went off back to sleep again

Later on there was something about we were somewhere or other. I was with Marianne and there was a dog. This big bulldog appeared and it took a big lump out of this dog’s side. The dog yelped and wandered off but didn’t go far, and the bulldog came round and grabbed hold of him again and took another bite out as if he was intending to eat him. This gradually evolved as more and more animals were becoming involved, all up to no good, and then they started to chase after the humans. There was a guy there an I was with Marianne and another young girl as well.

Somewhere in the middle of all of this was something about car windows – the glass inside the windows but where that fitted in I really don’t know

waves on promenade plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallWe were next on the top of the hill looking out across the water. There was a fight going on in the harbour and my country was being overwhelmed quite easily. I remember thinking that I’m lucky that I’m no footballer, that type of thing, because I would hate to participate in the kind of game that I’d been talking about earlier this evening

This building that we started off in tonight, a round building that looked very much like the buildings involved in London’s domestic water supply or something designed by that architect Bazalgette (and I’m surprised that I could remember his name in the middle of a dream) or something who did all of those public works in the London area round about that time

waves on promenade plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThen I awoke and it was back to chasing these people around again back in the original harbour. For once I was in the pack of the hunters rather than the hunted but I fell asleep before I could see where this actually went towards.

There was far more than that too but some of it didn’t seem to be recorded and I’ve no idea why. Is my technique slipping or am I dictating to an empty hand again like I have done a few times just recently?

And then there is other more gruesome stuff that you wouldn’t thank me for repeating, especially if you are having your lunch or something right now. I’m back on the disturbing dreams again, so it seems.

After getting myself organised, I spent much or the morning working on one of the arrears AND THAT IS NOW FINALLY FINISHED although I’ve no idea why it took me so long to do it. Having a little … errr … relax in the middle of the morning didn’t help matters too much. Clearly beating the third alarm was not the advantage that it might seem.

And then the fun began. With all of the data files now copied onto an external disk, I could set about doing a reinstall of the operating system and files onto the old laptop. When I tried that on the Lenovo the other day it took well over a day to do it. On the little Acer it took 4 hours and as a result required my almost constant attention.

Much to my surprise, once everything had been done and installed and registered, it fired up a darn sight quicker than it ever did in all the years that I have owned it. I’ve now uploaded a few programs to it and I’m going to leave it running for a couple of days to see how stable it is before I decide whether to start reusing it.

Surprisingly, that took me most of the early afternoon.

roofing college malraux place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallHaving decided on a break from work, I decided to take myself outside for my afternoon walk.

And I do have to say that I didn’t envy the roofers up there on the roof of the College Malraux. There was what the French call a ciel de plomb – a sky of lead – out there right now, there’s quite a strong wind and it’s threatening rain at any moment.

Yet there they are up there fixing that roof and I wouldn’t like to be up there with them in this kind of weather.

trawlers english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd if there is one group of people for whom I have even greater sympathy than roofers, it’s deep-sea fishermen.

My route today took me round to the viewpoint in the Rue du Nord and in the distance out in the English Channel near the Ile de Chausey I could make out a couple of trawlers heading out to sea for the day’s catch. My hat goes off to them in this weather, as I have said before … “on many, many occasions” – ed.

There were crowds of people about this afternoon so I couldn’t break into a run down the footpath. Instead I had a leisurely stroll that way to the viewpoint overlooking the Plat Gousset to watch the waves smashing down again on the promenade, photos of which you have already seen.

marité thora normandy trader port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd it’s full house in the harbour this afternoon.

Last night I must have been mistaken … “What? You? Perish the thought!” – ed … when I mentioned that Thora had left port yesterday afternoon – either that or else she’s been and done an allez-retour in a remarkably quick time to be back in port right now, because here she is.

But all of the wood that was on the quayside when we had a look yesterday is still there so it’s quite possible that she hasn’t gone anywhere and is waiting for part of her load.

marité thora normandy trader port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut she’s not alone out there today.

Of course Marité is moored there astern of her in her usual corner. Her tourist season, such as it was, is probably over. And there ahead of her is Normandy Trader, the other Jersey Freighter. She’s made a run in to port today and has had to moor somewhere else, which is rather confusing.

All we need now is Godzilla, or maybe the Loch Ness Monster. But ideally for me, I’d like to see one of the gravel boats come into port. And then we really would have a full house, wouldn’t we?

roofing rue st jean Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOn the way back to my apartment I went to have a look at the roofing job on the house in the Rue St Jean to see how they were getting on.

And to my surprise, they seem to have finished, packed up and gone home. Nevertheless, they seem to have done a nice jon on it. It looks quite good from here. But I notice that a seagull is on its way to have a look, and probably to christen it too.

As for me, I didn’t want to hang around too long. I have plenty to do back at the apartment so I came home to carry on with my work.

There was my Welsh to revise, and I made a good start on that, but left off to have my hour on the guitars, which wasn’t helped by me having lost my notes on one of the tracks that I’ve been playing.

Tea was a burger on a bap – the last bap in the freezer. Must buy some more tomorrow. And then I came back in here to listen to the news from Our Glorious Leader that we’re all back in detention à domicile with effect from Friday. So where this leaves me with my trip to Castle Anthrax next week I really don’t know.

Just as I was about to go out for my evening run, Rosemary rang for a chat and by the time we had finished two hours (yes, two hours) later, it was far too late for me to go out.

So instead, I’ll go to bed. Tomorrow is shopping day of course and I’ll need to get some suplies in because I’ve no idea now what’s going to happen next with this virus and our confinement.

Whoever said that we are “living in interesting times” has got it perfectly right, especially after I’ve just gone to all this trouble to fire up the old laptop again.

Saturday 12th September 2020 – HOW LONG IS IT …

old cars jaguar xk140 leclerc granville manche normandy france eric hall… since we’ve had a photograph of an old car on these pages?

It’s not very long, of course, but nevertheless it’s still nice to see them when they are out and about. And, interestingly, the last few old cars that we have featured on these pages have been Jaguars and today, we came across another one.

This one is the cream of the crop, to be sure. It’s one of the classic XK-series of Jaguars and if my memory serves me correctly, it is an XK-140.

old cars jaguar xk140 leclerc granville manche normandy france eric hallIf I could have my choice of cars to come home with me, this one would be pretty close to the top of the list.

When I was a kid, I always dreamed about owning one of these but today it would cost a King’s ransom. This one was parked up on the car park of the LeClerc supermarket when I went to do my shopping this morning.

And, much to my surprise, despite the fact that the supermarket was crowded, there was just me and one other person admiring it. That’s a real shame because it’s worth much more than that.

What else was a real shame was that I missed the third alarm. 07:40 when I finally crawled out of bed.

boats english channel ile de chausey granville manche normandy france eric hallSo while you admire the activity that was taking place in the area this afternoon, I had a listen to the dictaphone.

And it really was a busy night too. No wonder that I couldn’t haul myself out of bed at 06:00. I probably wasn’t even here.

To start off the events we were on board ship last night and playing a real pantomime of pirates, that kind of thing. I was the hero and someone else was my sidekick pirate who was Irish and speaking in an Irish accent and had to go round camping up all of this thing about priates and Irish in it. We decided to do the scene again but this time with me as the Irish pirate thing but there was no time to learn the lines so I just went away and ad-libbed. At the crucial moment I forgot my accent which caused everyone to laugh and was embarrassing to me as I couldn’t recapture the comic accent after that. When this finished they talked about how this would have been presented in the Middle Ages. Someone actually produced a Middle-Ages speech guide from the 15th Century, round about then which basically used speech bubbles and so on. It was a very complicated way of doing it and of course you wouldn’t expect to follow the play by reading the speech bubbles as it was just so complicated. but I was being interrogated in this by someone or other almost as if it was real. I’m sure that there was much more to it than this as well but I’m blowed if I can remember it.

people swimming in sea english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallLater on there was something about a series of magic wands last night but I can’t remember much about that either. There was however one called a Disravu and predicted the future itself, found in the USA in a shipwreck and was supposed to be extremely elderly, something to do with St Paul. Marianne was with me last night and we were getting ready to go out. She said she was going to take her only two jackets with her and save her third for tonight when we went out. I thought that that was presumptuous of her. She went off and the postman appeared. He was obviously sticking stuff in the letter boxes down the end of the lane. As he turned round a black CA Bedford taxi pulled out of the side verge and nearly forced him off the road. There were a couple of other people looking at the horses as well. I went out but I remembered that I didn’t have a mail box so I looked around to see where he might have lodged the letters. It occurred to me that maybe there wasn’t any post for me – whether it was for someone else, a neighbour in the area. The two young kids who were with me and Marianne came down the drive in a sort of fancy dress, chanting and singing. I pretended to be scared. Then Marianne put in an appearance.

people on beach plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallLater still I found myself again last night dictating a dream without the dictaphone in my hand, thinking that I had it in my hand and wrestling with it to switch it on, all that kind of thing to get it to record. But of course it wasn’t in my hand so I couldn’t. It’s not the first time that this has happened either.

But when i finally did get round to switching it on to record I’d forgotten what it was that I was going to talk about. It was something to do with a furniture removal and I can’t remember if it was Hans but we had to go into the East of Europe, sitting outside this row of houses trying to work out which one we had to visit. We were in somewhere like Albania and all the car registration numbers were weird. We were watching them and I was making a particular note of them. We saw these people pull up with a trailer loaded up with stuff on it. We watched them for a couple of minutes getting it into the driveway and starting to unload it. In the end we said “right, that must be them”. We got up and walked down to them. Hans got there first and shook hands. When I got there 30 seconds later Hans had gone. There was just a big cow that came round trying to push everyone around. Of course I don’t like big animals so I was rather uncomfortable about this idea.

crowds on beach plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hall

And we haven’t finished yet either.

Even later on we were all rehearsing for a music competition like we did for the last night on the boat in September last year. At first I thought that I was being excluded by this group of people but then they started to include me and STRAWBERRY MOOSE and sit down and discuss the plans. There was one girl, an Indian girl who they were trying to rope in who wasn’t really sitting down with us. She was wandering off somewhere and we had to go and fetch her back but no-one could remember her name. I’d written her name or someone else had written it down for me on a piece of yellow paper but I couldn’t find it. I could remember the cleaners picking it up. This got me into a panic about “what the hell am going to do about this girl’s name?”. I was searching my room all over for this piece of paper and then we started to sit and go through this list of songs that we were going to play. Luckily I was the only one with a guitar so it looked as if I was going to be the one who would be playing all the music.

Is it any wonder that I couldn’t crawl out of bed with all of that.

Following a shower and a machine-load of washing, I went out to the shops. Nothing much at all on offer in NOZ and nothing much from LeClerc either. Grapes at €0:99 per kilo was a must-have of course, and a pile of other fruit too seeing as it was cheap.

But if it hadn’t been for the Jaguar it would have been a pretty miserable morning.

Back here I hung up the washing and cracked on with a few more dictaphone entries from the backlog from when i was in Central Europe. One of these days I might actually be up to date, but that’s going to be several weeks away yet.

ships at sea english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallThere was the afternoon walk as usual today but I had a change of plan. I went around the city walls instead.

We’ve already seen plenty of activity out there this afternoon but there was even more that merited a special mention, like that rather large wind-powered ship on the horizon right out there in the centre of the photograph.

It certainly looked impressive and I wondered which ship it might be.

marite port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallOne ship that it won’t be is Marité.

She’s still in port tied up at her berth with a couple of people loitering around. It’s actually quite a surprise to see her here because we’re still officially in the tourist season and I would have expected her to have had a full schedule for this time of the year.

No point in going down to ask them because their stock reply will be “it’s all on our web site” and then they’ll go back to chatting amongst themselves and ignore the paying passengers.

We’ve been here before, haven’t we?

microlight ulm granville manche normandy france eric hallThere wasn’t just a question of crowds of people on land and boats in the sea either.

The air was pretty full of aircraft of all different types this afternoon whizzing around above the town and the sea. Just like this microlight in fact. We’ve seen this a couple of times and I really am going to have to talk my way into a little trip around.

The autogyro that we’ve seen quite often wasn’t out there today as far as I could see. It was about the only local aircraft that we didn’t see up there today.

la granvillaise le loup baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france eric hallThere wasn’t the possibility for me to go for my run across the Square Maurice Marland. I didn’t want to embarrass the crowds.

That meant that there was plenty of time to see what was going on, and whatever there was on the north side of the headland in the English Channel there was just as much on the south side, including La Granvillaise having a sail around the bay by Le Loup

You can always tell her when she’s side-on. She has her serial number, G90 (you can tell how old she is) on the sail.

Back home and just as I closed the door, Rosemary rang me so we had a good chat for about an hour.

The football season in Wales has now restarted and there was a live game on the internet. As US Granville were playing away today, I had the football on in here.

Connah’s Quay who won the Championship last year were at home against Bala Town and that was the broadcasted match. And, surprisingly, Connah’s Quay were distinctly second-best and when Bala took the lead, through something of a rather flukey goal, no-one was in the least surprised.

They failed to take advantage of their dominance and a rather shaky Nomads keeper, and they paid the penalty with what was almost the last kick of the game when Nomads winger Sameron Dool scored probably the most unlikely goal you’ll be ever likely to see. You can see it AT ABOUT 2:30:30

brittany coast dinard cap frehel granville manche normandy france eric halllater on, I went for a walk outside.

it was too late for me to go out with the tripod which was a shame because the sky was really clear tonight. You might not think too much of this photo but you can see on the far right of the image the flash of light from the lighthouse at Cap Frehel 70 kms away.

There were all of the street lights from down the Brittany coast too, as far as St Cast le Guildo where we stayed for a night on Spirit of Conrad

chantier navale port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallMy walk continued around the headland and along to the viewpoint over the chantier navale.

There was no change in the occupancy but it did occur to me that I haven’t taken a proper night-time photo of the place just recently so I put that right.

And having done that I carried on home. Complete with 3 runs of 900 paces in total to fit in with my attempts to recover some of this fitness that I had back in May.

It’s now gone 02:00 and I can’t sleep at all which is a surprise seeing as I haven’t crashed out today yet. Luckily tomorrow is Sunday and a lie-in so that I can recover.

Then Monday, back to work again.

Saturday 16th May 2020 – IT’S THAT TIME …

paraglider pointe du roc granville manche normandy france eric hall… of the year again and the paragliders are out in force. So while you admire them in full flight I’ll tell you about my day.

As for this morning I won’t tell you anything because regular readers of this rubbish will recall what has happened. The same on many far-too-similar mornings just recently.

And after the medication I had a listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been and, more interestingly, who had been with me.

Last night started me off on the The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour pulling into a fjord in Iceland. This was going to be the end of our journey. There was all snow and ice everywhere and the sea was frozen and the boat was crashing its way through. I was busy doing something, like washing my clothes whatever when I learnt that we were going to finish the tour here. I thought “all my clothes are going to be wet. This is no good”. Then we had a kind of meeting, a group meeting. I was going through my clothes. Some wee dry and some were still wet. I thought that I would have to take them back and hang them up. I noticed that everyone else was streaming off the ship. I asked what was happening. They replied that we all had to get off and stretch our legs. I thought “I’ve far too much to do. I can’t possibly go off and stretch my legs” but we all had the appearance of being ushered off the ship. I couldn’t find Marianne. I was with her but couldn’t find her. I thought that maybe she had left the ship already or maybe she’s somewhere still on board. I had to go and fetch my camera and all my washing needs to be sorted out and everything and I’m never going to get anything done at this rate messing around like this.

As an aside, it was 7 years ago yesterday that I stood by Marianne’s side and watched her die.

paraglider plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallLater on I was back on The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour again and we were all getting ready to get off. Our trip had come to an end. I’d been co-opted into this committee to go to do something about the ship finishing its trip so I’d missed all of the socialising that had taken place. As we were all sent back to our posts I walked back onto the ship and there in the queue, the first passenger ready to leave was one of the passenger with whom I’d spent a great deal of time back in 2018. I was so pleased to see her because I really liked her and I wanted to see her before we went and I was sorry that our trip was over. She was equally delighted to see me so I suggested that we went for a drink because there was so much that I wanted to tell her. We worked out that while there was five minutes before people started to get ready to go so arm in arm we went off down into the hold to look for the bar while everyone else was streaming up the steps with their suitcases. Just as I went to sit down and the waiter came with the drinks and as I started to tell her all about my problems I awoke. And this was another one of these senses of disappointment.
Even later, we were all on The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour and we were just coming into port. Our cruise was coming to an end. I’d been co-oped onto this committee to do something so i’d been off on a meeting. When it came to getting back on board again who should be standing at the first position ready to get off the ship was the aforementioned woman. I wanted to see her and was really sorry that I was going to miss her. I said “let’s go for a coffee, a drink” so while everyone was staggering up the steps with their suitcases we were going down and ended up in this cafe. Just as I was about to tell her what it was that I wanted to say, I awoke. But yes that was one thing where I wanted to see Inspector Japp because I don’t know what was planned already, and that was so puzzling.

It goes without saying that you’ve noticed a great deal of similarity between all of these voyages. and the final two are more-or-less identical (except for Inspector Japp of course – I was watching a Hercule Poirot adventure while I was eating my tea).

Strangely though, according to the timestamps on the dictaphone, there was about two hours between voyage one and two, and one hour or so between voyages two and three so it’s unlikely (although not impossible) that it’s the same voyage that i’ve dictated three times.

And, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, there have been several occasions now where I’ve had repeat voyages on the same day and even on different days. All I can say is that I hope that MCI isn’t going to charge me for these trips that I am making on their ship during the night.

After breakfast I had a shower and set the washing machine off on its travels, and I went to the shops.

The town was heaving and the market was in full swing. You would never guess that there was a global pandemic. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen anything like it.

NOZ was open and I bought a few things here and there, including a six-pack of that cranberry and rosemary alcohol-free beer that I like (and even as I write, I’m polishing one off).

LeClerc was total mayhem with the whole world and his wife in there. Flour is back on the shelves and tomatoes are a reasonable price again. But no yeast at all still.

What they did have which was interesting was some new pure coconut dessert stuff. It was expensive but a two pack was a special offer with a considerable reduction so I bought a pack. We’ll see what it tastes like in a day or two.

One thing that didn’t impress me though was the surly cashier. They are usually cheerful and happy in LeClerc but this one wasn’t.

And we are on the verge of a tragedy. I went into la Vie Claire, the Health Food shop and there isn’t a gramme of vegan cheese or Manuka honey in the whole town.

This afternoon I’ve been a very busy boy.

This new template seems to work so I set about a few of the pages from that web site and brought them up to the new specifications. And then had to go back and do some more work on them because, for one reason or other that I haven’t quite understood, I didn’t put an index on the pages.

There was also this plan to rewrite a web pager per day for my main site. And the one that I chose took some rewriting too because since I wrote it over 20 years ago, the area has changed out of all recognition.

It took me up to 18:15 to finish it and so I missed out on editing any photos.

kayakers plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallThere were a couple of breakes in between though.

No crashing-out today, but lunch was one and my afternoon walk was another. And outside was a seething mass of humanity. We’ve had the paragliders and we had pedestrians too, but there was an awful lot of nautical activity too and we even had a couple of canoeists.

And you know that you must never light a fire in a canoe, don’t you? After all, you can’t have your kayak and heat it.

speedboat yacht brehal plage granville manche normandy france eric hallIt wasn’t all canoeists and kayakers either.

Right out over there offshore at Bréhal-Plage they had the yachts out. I’m not sure whether it’s a yachting school or similar, but the boats seem to be of an identical type. And then there’s the speedboat roaring past.

Crowds on the beaches over there at Bréhal-Plage too, all enjoying the beautiful weather because even with a wind it was quite nice out there this afternoon.

crowds beach plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallCrowds on the beaches down here on the Plat Gousset too.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that yesterday and the day before I queried the situation with regard to access to the beach during the post-quarantine.

The local newspaper came up with the answer this morning, which was that, with certain restrictions applying to the dunes and to the use of the beaches for picnics and sunbathing, the ban was lifted on Thursday afternoon.

So now we know.

seagull nest roof des juifs granville manche normandy france eric hallWe saw a seagull settling down comfortably on the roof of one of the houses in the rue des Juifs the other day.

The council has been cutting down the weeds around here just recently and you can see that this seagull here has collected some of the freshly-cut weeds in order to make a nest. The weeds are still green, and I suppose that the heat given off during the decomposition will help incubate the eggs.

Not that I’m a birdwatcher of course (well, not this kind of bird anyway) but it’s fascinating to see how their lives evolve over the year.

small fishing boat port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallMy route took me round and through the Square Maurice Marland.

And although I can’t be certain it looks as if the harbour gates have just opened – you can see the algae at the high water mark – and this boat has just come sailing … “dieseling” – ed … through.

At first I wasn’t sure what kind of boat it might be but as it turned towards the quayside along the rue du Port I could see that it’s one of the very small inshore fishery boats. It must have been interesting out there in that boat in those winds and waves earlier in the week.

On the way back, I encountered Minette, the old black cat that I hadn’ts een for ages and whose disappearance perplexed me. Anyway, she’s back and wherever she went, she had a very good grooming. She’s a long-hair and she certainly needed it.

Tea was a huge disappointment. I’d seen the remains of a bag of oven chips in the freezer yesterday and that had fired up my appetite. And so I prepared everything that I needed

And then I found that in the bag were just half a dozen chips, so that was pretty much a waste of time. I ended up with a baked potato with my beans and burger.

The apple turnover that I prepared yesterday with the leftover pastry, I baked that as well and that was pudding.

On my evening walk tonight there were even more caravanettes on the camp site, so I’ve given up moaning about it as it’s clearly doing no good. However I did check the numberplates and while there were one or two “50” plates (that’s a number for round here) most of them were not.

sun reflecting off window onto beach st pair sur mer baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france eric hallHowever, apart from the grockles, there weren’t all that many people around. My run up the hill and then down to the clifftop was a solo effort, although two girls sitting on the old gun emplacement wished me a good evening.

Yesterday, regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we had some sunlight reflecting off a window in St Pair sur Mer across the bay and into a tidal pool on the beach. Tonight we have a very similar phenomenon although even more so

Disturbing a bunch of boys eating a take-away meal, I ran on down to my resting place on the clifftop for a breather and then wandered over to the Boulevard Vaufleury.

sunset ile de chausey english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallDespite the headwind I made it all the way down to my marker and then after a breather, carried on down to my next resting place at the viewpoint in the rue du Nord.

There were several people there already, and I arrived just in time to see the sun sink slowly down behind a cloud. Timed to the second, it was.

For a good few minutes I stood there soaking up the atmosphere because out of the wind it really was a pleasant night – the idea night to be out and about admiring the scenery.

crowd on beach building inukshuk plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallAnd as I said, I wasn’t alone here. There were far more people than I was expecting to see.

The rules for the use of the beaches might be relaxed, but not as relaxed as these people here are suggesting. It’s not what I would call social distancing and they seem to be having a forbidden picnic.

It looks as if they have constructed an inukshuk too, in good old Greenland or Canadian Arctic Inuit tradition. They are going to have to wait for quite a while if they are planning on slaughtering a seal for supper.

sunset ile de chausey english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallSo the sun and I said goodbye and I ran on back to the apartment.

An early night tonight, I hope, and then a decent sleep with no alarm.

where shall I go tonight? And, more importantly, who shall be coming with me? And even more importantly after last night’s antics, how many times will I be going there?

And I have to be on form tomorrow too, because I’m having visitors late in the morning. I told them to ring me before they set out because we’ve seen some silly times of leaving the bed when there’s been no alarm.

And some when we have had an alarm too. We can do without any of that

Thursday 21st March 2019 – AS REGULAR READERS …

… of this rubbish will recall, today has been a difficult day.

It always is the day after I return from hospital, but today was rather different from the others.

Margaret Thatcher (and how we miss her, with this shower in charge) once said “anyone could do a good day’s work when they felt like it, but the key to success is to be able to do a good day’s work when you don’t feel like it”.

And that’s what happened today. I didn’t feel very much like it at all, but I did do a very good day’s work all things considering.

Admittedly, when the alarm went off at 06:00 (and 06:10 and 06:20) I didn’t take much notice. I turned over and went back to sleep. And that’s no surprise either. Despite being tired it took me ages to go to sleep last night and I thought that I would never drop off. But I did, and was awoken by the alarms. No chance of leaving the bed at that time though. I turned over and went back to sleep and that was how I stayed until 07:22

Last night I was in London with some other guy and we were looking for a place to stay on a long-term basis. There were student flats available and we were sent to see one near the Thames on the north bank somewhere Fulham way, in a modern block of flats. It was the tiniest room that you have ever seen, with two beds in it and there was already one person in it, so we didn’t know if this person was to leave or whether we would end up with three sharing this tiny room. I was fitted with some kind of arm bracelet, for a reason that I didn’t know at the time. There was a large ginger cat roaming around the area so I picked it up and stroked it, and took it outside with me, to the horror of everyone else who explained to me that the arm bracelet meant that I wasn’t allowed to hold a cat outside the building. Someone mentioned that my Aunt Mary lived in London so why don’t I telephone her. So I did. She told me that she now had a bike so I asked her why she didn’t cycle down the Embankment to meet me. So off she set and we – by now Cecile was with me – went down to meet her. She came out of the subway in the wrong direction as if she had been riding east, and then we lost sight of her. But there she was, a few levels down at street level so we waved and she came up. By now she had transformed into Marianne, and she came over to give me a great big hug and said how much she had missed me. But strangely she had another guy with her too.

07:50 was when I left the bed. So it was rather a late breakfast this morning.

cement mixer rue st jean granville manche normandy franceNever mind though. Off into town.

I didn’t gte very far though. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that there are some very low gates into the old medieval walled town and the streets are very narrow, so large vehicles are not permitted in there.

Everything has to be off-loaded and trans-shipped, including ready-mixed concrete.

supplies awaiting loading port de granville harbour manche normandy franceWe saw Normandy Trader in port yesterday afternoon, loading up with a cargo.

She’s now gone from the port, but there’s plenty of cargo left on the quayside. This means that we might well be expecting a visit from Thora.

On the other hand, it could be that Normandy Trader was actually unloading, and we are waiting for the cargo to be taken away.

First stop was at the Railway Station. My old fogey’s railcard is on the verge of expiring so I need a new one. And it’s a good job that I went early because the lady in front of me looked as if she wanted to be there for the Duration.

waste recycling collection avenue des matignon granville manche normandy franceSo armed with my new railcard, I headed off (on foot, not on the train) to LIDL.

We’ve talked in the past about recycling and waste here in Granville, and I was lucky enough to see one of the waste lorries emptying one of the town’s waste containers in the avenue des Matignon.

I hope that they will be emptying the paper bin near me so that I can dispose of some more of the European Paper Mountain.

Although I didn’t buy anything special in LIDL, I did treat myself to a bag of brazil nuts. Two people – one of whom is a doctor and the other one is a patient – have told me now that brazil nuts contain plenty of vital vitamins and minerals, one of which is selenium, a deficiency of which is said by some to be one of the possible causes of chronic fatigue syndrome.

Back here, I did a little (only a little) tidying up and then did the filing of all of the mail that had built up while I was away. And there was a lot of it too.

There were four letters that needed my attention and so after lunch I set down to work. One of the letters was unnecessary because over lunch I had received a mail to say that the issue was resolved, but I managed the other three without any problem.

And then, I … errr … crashed out on the chair for 20 minutes.

On recovering, I headed off back into town and the Post office and dispatched the three letters. That’s another task out of the way. We’ll have to see what comes of those.

lorry unloading supplies port de granville harbour manche normandy franceon the way back, I took a little sight-seeing diversion to push my daily fitness target up to 100%.

Round by the harbour now we have a lorry just pulling in. So is he going to be delivering more supplies for the next freighter, or is he going to be taking away the supplies that are already here?

Watch this space.

low tide port de granville harbour manche normandy franceAt the moment we are experiencing one of the lowest tides of the year, and for a town that already has the highest tidal range in Europe, a low tide is pretty exceptional.

With all of the fruits de mer around here, the peche à pied or fishing on foot by scavenging in the rock pools and the sand for oysters and mussels is very popular.

The situation basically (it’s much more complicated than this in fact, but this will give you a basic idea) is that the accessible fishing rights between the high tide and the low tide are leased out to people and companies and are thus private.

But the fishing rights for the beach beyond the low tide limits aren’t leased out because they aren’t usually accessible. They are public access fishing areas.

So when we have exceptionally low tides, about a dozen or so times a year, everyone floods out to the public access areas to try their luck.

la granvillaise charles marie ile de chausey ferry chantier navale port de granville harbour manche normandy franceThey are still quite busy at the Chantier Navale.

It seems that Armor has cleared off, but Charles_Marie and la Granvillaise are still here.

We have a new boat too. I’m not sure if she’s one of the ferries for the Ile de Chausey, or whether in fact she’s something else.

I Shall have to go out and check at some point.

Back here I attacked the mountain of photos that have built up while I was away – fighting hard the temptation to go and lie down for half an hour. But I survived up until teatime. Pasta and a burger, followed by chocolate cake and soya dessert.

night trawler baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy franceThis evening it was dark when I went out for a walk, and spent much of the time out there watching a trawler coming out of the English Channel towards the harbour.

I took a pile of photos of it at different speeds, apertures and ISO settings and you can compare them all by looking at them here and also below.

But I’ve done 118% of my daily activity today, which is good news. I’ve been at or over 100% for almost every day since last Thursday. It’s hardly a surprise that I’m feeling the pressure just now.

So on that note, I’m going to bed. And it’s not even 21:45 yet. I’ve had a hard day.

night trawler baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france
night trawler baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france

night trawler baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france
night trawler baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france

night trawler baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france
night trawler baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france

night trawler baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france
night trawler baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france

night trawler baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france
night trawler baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france

night trawler tying up port de granville harbour manche normandy france
night trawler tying up port de granville harbour manche normandy france

Tuesday 27th November 2018 – WHEN I TOLD …

potatomat everberg belgium eric hall… some friends of mine in Québec about this, they burst out laughing.

And it wasn’t about the crazy idea either, but in total disbelief that this place (and a few others of similar ilk) would exist.

But seeing that Alison and I were out and about in the vicinity this afternoon, we went off to track it down and to photograph it.

potatomat everberg belgium eric hallBecause it’s the kind of thing that you would only ever find in Belgium, and no-where else.

We have automatic machines that dispense drinks, and snacks, and even pizza these days, but only in Belgium would you find an automatic machine that would dispense potatoes.

So say “hello” to a Belgian Potatomat here on the outskirts of Everberg.

potatomat everberg belgium eric hallThe potatomat doesn’t just sell potatoes either.

There were apples and pears on offer, and even chicory too. And it looks as if, with a little bit of simple configuration, it could be programmed to sell a lot more different things too.

It has to be the automatic vending machine to end all other automatic vending machines.

This morning the alarm went off at the usual time but, after having done almost 150% of my daily activity yesterday, there wasn’t much danger of my leaving my stinking pit at that time.

07:15 was a much more respectable time for me to heave myself out.

After medication and breakfast, there were things to do on the laptop and that took me most of the morning.

Alison sent me a message round about 11:30. Did I fancy going out for a couple of hours? And so 15 minutes later I was standing on the corner, watching all the girls go by.

We passed by the Potatomat and then headed into Brussels. Alison took me to show me to a place where she had once lived, and then we went for a look at the offices of that weird American company where we had both worked together 12 years ago.

chateau robinson bois de la cambre brussels belgium eric hallSeeing that we were down in the south end of Brussels, we decided that we would go for a walk in the Bois de la Cambre.

Alison hadn’t been round here particularly but back in the good old days when I lived in Brussels I used to come here for a walk every Sunday with Marianne

And so I decided to show her around.

chateau robinson bois de la cambre brussels belgium eric hallIt was quite a misty afternoon and reasonably cold too, although not as cold as it might have been.

And we were somewhat too late for the leaves. We should really have been here a couple of weeks ago to see it at its best.

By now, the leaves had gone beyond changing colours and were now tumbling rapidly from the leaves and carpeting the forest floor

chateau robinson bois de la cambre brussels belgium eric hallAlison didn’t know about the Chateau Robinson on the island in the middle of the lake.

But despite the time of the year, the restaurant was open and the shuttle boat was running across the lake to the island

There were several people waiting to cross over, and so we decided to join them and go to have a coffee.

chateau robinson bois de la cambre brussels belgium eric hallAlthough they didn’t have soya milk, they did actually have almond milk.

And even more interestingly, they also had gluten-free flour and so they offered to make Alison some lactose-free and gluten-free pancakes.

They tasted differently, apparently, but Alison said that they were very nice. And, for a change, the chef came out to ask her if they were okay. Clearly a new experiment, but it’s certainly progress.

chateau robinson bois de la cambre brussels belgium eric hallAfter the coffee and pancakes we carried on with our walk.

We took the ferry back to the mainland and walked all the way around the lake and back to the car.

It was much more pleasant by now. The sun was doing its best to struggle through the mist and we were even starting to see some blue sky.

chateau robinson bois de la cambre brussels belgium eric hallWhile you continue to admire the photos of the Bois de la Cambre, we had other things to do.

Because we were down this end of the town we decided that we would go to pay our respects to Marianne. The Cimetierre d’Ixelles wasn’t all that far away and I hadn’t been to see her for a while.

It’s quite a poignant thing to do, and hard to believe that it was over five and a half years ago that she went off to meet her Maker

chateau robinson bois de la cambre brussels belgium eric hallWe wandered off from there out in the direction of Leuven, hoping to miss the afternoon traffic rush.

And I missed a photo opportunity as we were driving past a garage on the corner of the Chaussee de Wavre.

There parked up at the back of the parking area was a dark green first-series Triumph Vitesse 6 convertible. These are as rare as hen’s teeth in the UK. the chance of seeing one parked up here at a backstreet garage in Brussels are amazing.

chateau robinson bois de la cambre brussels belgium eric hallWe reached Tervuren and Alison took me to a café where there was an open fire and a good supply of coffee.

We needed it too because the temperature was dropping all the time. It’s going to be really cold.

And while Alison unlocked the cars, I watched in amazement as some woman on a bicycle with a baby on the back pulled out of the cycle track right across the main road in front of a couple of cars without giving a hand signal, without looking over her shoulder and without even slowing down.

I felt really sorry for the driver who almost squidged her

chateau robinson bois de la cambre brussels belgium eric hallWe came back to Leuven and Alison dropped me off on the corner.

I came back here and even though it was early, I made myself some tea. I hadn’t had anything to eat since breakfast.

Microwaved potatoes with a tin of spicy beans. And delicious it all was too.

chateau robinson bois de la cambre brussels belgium eric hallDespite only having walked 60% of my daily target, I was for some reason or other totally exhausted.

So there I was, flat-out on the bed for a good hour or so. I can’t keep on going like I used to.

What I’m going to be doing now is to do the washing up, tidy up and pack my bags. I have a very early start tomorrow so I need to be up and about quite promptly.

I don’t much like this idea of leaping on board the 08:13 out of Brussels but it saves me three hours on my day by the time that I’m back gome, so it has to be a good idea.

Wednesday 20th June 2018 – THE WORLD’S WORST BANK …

… strikes again!

Remember that letter that I had to fax them yesterday? It seems that I had forgotten something off it.

And yes, I freely admit that it was my error. No argument there.

The bank sent me an e-mail and asked me to rectify the omission. No problem there either.

BUT

I had to reply by fax yet again. I couldn’t do it by phone, and I couldn’t reply to their e-mail either. Even though they had referred to my request in the e-mail that they had sent me, that it would be clear that any reply that I sent would have been in reply to their mail, and that the information was information that they had requested.

So that was yet more wasted time.

Like I say, I’m not denying my responsibility. I’m just moaning about the bank’s procedures. Had I still have been in the UK they would have been kicked into touch a good while ago. But then, had I still been in the UK, I would never have had the issues that I’m having now.

Last night, I didn’t get to see my film. I ended up going to bed fairly early instead. I was hoping to have an early night, but waking up at 03:45 was no part of my intentions whatsoever.

So much so that after breakfast I sat down and ended up being … errr … away with the fairies for a good half an hour.

But I pulled myself through, did some more tidying up and even vacuumed the living room, as well as measuring up a few things here and there, because I’m having a day out tomorrow.

hanging cloud port de granville harbour manche normandy franceOr, at least, I’m hoping to, if I can find the road.

On my trip into town this afternoon we were lucky to see the harbour. We’ve been swathed in a hanging cloud all day and it hasn’t lifted for a minute. It’s even worse right now.

If it keeps on like this, I won’t even be able to find my way out of the building, never mind out of town.

Having dealt with the housekeeping issues for today (Friday is to deal with the kitchen and Saturday is to wash the floor to let it dry while I’m out at the shops) I went back to the blog again.

The current whereabouts of my amendments is the day that I left Leuven to travel to Oostende. That page is not quite finished (although it might be by the time you read this) but it’s all now done from there onwards.

I’m determined to bring it all up to date before I’m much older, having left it somewhat … errr … incomplete during my all-too-frequent bouts of illness.

No point in going out for lunch today in the hanging cloud. I stayed in and read my book in the peace and quiet.

And then I had to fiddle about with the printer in order to make it work. It’s an ancient Hewlett-Packard that I inherited from Marianne all those years ago. It had an enormous amount of use while she had it, and it’s done some work here over the five years that I’ve had it. So it’s quite temperamental.

house demolition rue du port granville manche normandy franceAnd so off into town.

We’ve seen the hanging cloud, but I don’t think that you have seen the workmen down in the bottom-right corner who have now started on another house down on the rue du Port.

It’s difficult to tell whether they are knocking holes in the walls to fit new windows, or whether they are trying to knock the walls down completely. I suppose that time will tell.

gravel tipping port de granville harbour manche normandy franceHaving seen my friendly newspaper shop owner and sent off the fax, I came back up the hill.

And over in the port, another gravel lorry had arrived and had tipped its load. And behind it there was a digger driver busily heaping it all up into a tidy pile on the edge of the quayside.

Not in the gravel bins, you’ll notice. So that can really only mean that another gravel boat will shortly be paying us a visit. And I hope that I’m here to see it.

But I learnt some bad news in the newsagents. Madame la Maire has finally published her proposals for the port. She wants to build another casino and another pile of restaurants down there.

That means, quite simply, that all of the empty shops in the town will immediately be transformed into the kind of expensive boutiques that you see in every other seaside town – vastly overpriced for two months of the year and closed, gathering dust for the other 10.

And the port, instead of being a working, industrial zone, will become a haven for luxury yachts for 2 months of the year and deserted for the remainder.

It will totally destroy the character of the town, but such is the price that one has to pay for a bit of egoism.

And it did not go unnoticed that the proposals weren’t published until after the series of meetings with the residents (one of which we attended last week).

So that was my afternoon walk, and I crashed out yet again for a while. A coffee soon revived me though, and I had a good 50-minute session on the bass guitar. I’m cracking on.

After tea, which was a frozen mushroom and pepper curry in coconut milk, I went for my walk. And managed 120 paces at a run (well, a sort-of run). And if there was anyone else out there, I wouldn’t have an idea in this weather.

So now I’ll do a few bits and pieces and then have another early night.

And I hope that it’s more successful than the last one.

Sunday 13th August 2017 – I’VE A FEELING …

… that tomorrow morning I’m going to be regretting today!

According to the Fitbit I’ve done … errr … 230% of my day’s activity and walked all of … errr … 17.4 kilometres.

Funnily enough, apart from the aches in the back of my legs (mainly from the cramp attack yesterday) I wasn’t any more tired than I might have been on occasions when I used to walk these kinds of distance on a regular basis.

What this actually means, I really don’t know but I’ll find out tomorrow afternoon at the hospital I suppose.

Despite the early night there was some kind of interruption in the building last night. I’m not sure what it was, but I ended up having to close the window into the communal airspace to keep the noise out.

06:20 when I awoke but badger that for a game of cowboys on a Sunday. I turned over for a short while – 08:20 was much more like it.

After breakfast I had a shower, washed my undies and prettied myself up ready for Alison. And while I was waiting for her I was accosted by some young African girl asking me if I were “Luke”. I explained that I was waiting for someone else but if she didn’t turn up and Luke didn’t turn up, we’d go off together.

She had quite a laugh at that which was good. It pays to be light-hearted, I reckon. And she was quite pretty too.

Ohhh yes – I can still chase after the women – even if I can’t remember why!

view of bruxelles from palais de justice belgium aout august 2017We’d arranged to meet at the viewpoint by the side of the Palais de Justice where there are some stunning views over the city.

Of course I had brought the camera with me to take some good photos but unfortunately the weather didn’t want to co-operate.

It wasn’t raining, which was quite lucky, but a horrible clammy, misty morning. and that put paid to the photography session.

We took the lift down into the Marolles and went for a prowl around the flea market. It’s been probably 15 years since I last went and there’s nothing like as much stuff – or as many customers – as there used to be.

And the prices – the days when you could find some absolute bargains seem to be long-gone. For one or two things, I had to go for a lie-down in a darkened room.

Mind you, Alison did find some marvellous coffee tables, and one of them disappeared into the back of her car. And had I had Caliburn with me, a second one would have disappeared too.

Something like a semi-globe with an olde-worlde wooden top cut in half and hinged so that you could use the inside of the globe as a storage space. How I would have loved one for my place!

bruxelles belgium aout august 2017We had a couple of coffees and went for a good walk around, passing once more by the viewpoint at the Palais de Justice.

By now the mist was starting to lift and the weather was looking better. To such an extent that Alison was obliged to divest herself of her jacket.

And I could take a couple of photos from up here too.

On her way home Alison dropped me off in Ixelles.

I went for a bag of chips at the fritkot and then down to the cemetery to pay my respects to Marianne.

ermando zizi bruxelles belgium aout august 2017But before I reached her plot I stumbled across this tombstone which I must never have seen before.

You need to be a French-speaker to understand why someone with a small mind like mine would find this rather amusing.

But Marianne’s grave is a little overgrown these days – it looks as if her other visitors have stopped coming. Next time that I pass by I’ll have to bring some gardening tools with me and do some tidying up.

tramline repairs avenue adolphe buyl boulevard general jacques bruxelles belgium aout august 2017From here, I decided to be brave and to see how far I could make it back to my hotel on foot.

And my route took me down the Avenue Buyl where they are once again modernising the tram layout at the junction with the Boulevard General Jacques.

I’ve no idea why they would be doing all of this work though – it was only a couple of years ago that they totally reorganised this junction so they can’t have worn it out already.

bruxelles belgium aout august 2017My walk continued down the hill and round the corner to the Abbaye de la Cambre.

regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we’ve been here a few times in the past and somewhere around I have a few photos that I’ve taken of it.

But I’ve not taken a photo of it from this angle before so I need to put this right.

abbaye de la cambre bruxelles belgium aout august 2017There were hordes of people loitering around sunning themselves on the lawn this afternoon because by now the weather was quite nice

And this gave me an opportunity to go for a good wander around at the abbey and look for some spots that might come out really well on camera.

I hadn’t realised just how little I had actually seen of the abbey in the past.

etangs ixelles place flagey bruxelles belgium aout august 2017My walk then took me along the side of the “etangs d’Ixelles” – the Ixelles lakes that were formerly park of the River Maelbeek.

This runs through the city from south-west to north-east but was filled in centuries ago. But it’s all very unstable and buildings along its course have been known to teeter and totter.

I lived in one once with Laurence and Roxanne and you could see the cracks appearing.

etangs d'ixelles bruxelles belgium aout august 2017If you look on any good map of Brussels you can see the course of the river. There is plenty of parkland along its route and occasionally there are lakes.

in Jette, where I lived for many years, there was a huge parkland with all of the lakes that was very pleasant to walk around

In fact I often mused that 500 years ago I could have gone to see Marianne by canoe rather than by bus.

etangs d'ixelles bruxelles belgium aout august 2017One thing that “foreigners” often say about Belgium is that the Belgians have a weird sense of humour.

My natural response is that the way things are in Belgium you need to have a weird sense of humour to live here, but when you see what the city fathers have done, you can understand why foreigners have this opinion.

It’s not every country where you would deliberately set out to build a set of ruins to liven up your city architecture.

place flagey bruxelles belgium aout august 2017Alison and I had noticed up by the Palais de Justice how they had set up a temporary pie hut and a pile of deckchairs for people to take the sun.

That’s clearly not an isolated incident because here at the Place Flagey we had a similar set-up. And by now we had a really good sun too.

It was turning out to be a nice day after all.

jazz band place flagey bruxelles belgium aout august 2017The casual strollers weren’t the only people to take advantage of the deckchairs either.

I hadn’t been there more than two minutes when an impromptu jazz band appeared and started to entertain the crowd.

They weren’t particularly up to much and the drummer was pretty dire but I’m all in favour of live music and I quite enjoyed it for what it was.

It gave me an opportunity to study the architecture too.

place flagey bruxelles belgium aout august 2017I used to have an apartment out on the Boulevard Reyers right next to the champignon – the mushroom-shaped tower that is the headquarters of one of the Belgian broadcasting companies.

Before they moved out there, they were based in this beautifu art-deco building in the Place Flagey. When I came to live here in 1992 the building was derelict and in a very sorry state.

It’s now been restored and they’ve done quite a good job of it. Plenty of trendy cafés on the ground floor and offices above.

Carrying on with my long walk I climbed up to the Avenue Louise – the posh bit of the city and walked all the way down the street towards the city centre.

bruxelles belgium aout august 2017I ended up back at the viewpoint at the Palais de Justice and by now the weather had cleared sufficiently for me to admire the voew and to try out the telephoto lens.

Of course, you don’t need me to tell you what this load of balls might be, because if anything is symbolic of the city, it has to be the Atomium.

And it does look so much better since they have cleaned it up. At one tile it was looking quite shabby.

molenbeek town hall bruxelles belgium aout august 2017That tower there in centre-shot is the tower of the Town Hall of the commune of Molenbeek.

But never mind that for a moment. If you look to the left of it, there on the skyline you’ll see a large block of flats.

it is in fact four large blocks of flats superimposed one in front of another and it’s in one of those where I lived for a very happy 11 years – the legendary “avenue de l’Exposition”

And now, we can’t have a good stroll around the city without bringing some controversy into it, can we?

plaque to victims of the nazis mont de piete bruxelles belgium aout august 2017This is the Mont de Pieté – the Roman Catholic religious charity in the rue St Ghislain that is charged with making loans to less-fortunate members of society who find themselves temporarily financially-embarrassed.

And on the wall is a plaque listing the names of the inhabitants of the local area who were victims of the Nazis in World War II.

As I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed …it’s all very well these people who criticise the civilians of the occupied countries for what is perceived to be a lack of resolution against the invaders, but they didn’t ever run this kind of risk.

plaques to jewish victims of the nazis bruxelles belgium aout august 2017But wait a minute! What’s this?

Not 50 yards away from the plaque on the wall of the Mont de Pieté are these four plaques embedded into the pavement.

These people are also victims of the “barbarie Nazie” but their names don’t appear on the plaque of the victims who lived in the area.

plaques to jewish victims of the nazis bruxelles belgium aout august 2017And not 50 yards the other side are some more plaques set in the pavement of yet more victims, and their names don’t appear on the plaque either.

But a brief examination of the family names and of their ultimate destiny tells you all that you need to know as to why they don’t appear on the plaque.

The Catholic Church isn’t interested in anyone whose religious beliefs don’t equate to theirs and certainly isn’t interested in “sharing the suffering of the afflicted” – and that’s what I call a disgrace.

I made it back to my hotel without once stepping on public transport, and found that i’d run out of water. So that meant a trip to the supermarket in the Gare du Midi.

And later on, I went out for what was probably the worst ever vegan burger that I have ever eaten and I won’t be going there again.

funfair foire du midi bruxelles belgium aout august 2017But with it being a really beautiful evening by now, I went for a walk along the boulevard to watch the funfair and to try a little “cut and paste” of images taken in the dark.

This image is well-cropped from the original and the results compare favourably with what the old Nikon D5000 would have produced under similar circumstances.

All in all, I’m not too disappointed

foire du midi belgium aout august 2017But if you want to see what the camera can do with its video facility, here’s a little film.

Again, this is edited down quite considerably from the original (as, in fact, are all of the photos that I take) and once again, I’ve had much worse results from this with other cameras

All-in-all, I’m quite satisfied with this camera.

So that was my day out then. 2002 words, 17.4 kilometres and the exciting thing about it was that I didn’t crash out either. It clearly did me some good although I’m now walking like John Wayne after a week on his horse.

I’ll regret this tomorrow!

Thursday 27th July 2017 – AFTER YESTERDAY’S …

… exertions, I slept like a log. And woke up in the fireplace too – but you’ve heard that one before.

I’d been on my travels too – but I’ll spare you all the gory details as you are probably eating your tea just now.

I’m still aching in the shoulders, although it’s eased off a little. The pain will all go away probably the night before Terry rings me up to sand down the plasterboard in the second bedroom. That’s what usually happens.

Just the usual things happened today – a walk down for the baguette – a sit up on the wall in the windy sunlight at lunchtime. But for much of the afternoon I’ve been taking it easy.

This morning I finished off uncombining the blog entries for my trip to Brussels over Christmas and New Year of 2011/2012 to see Marianne and sped through until 24th April when I shuddered to a halt.

The period from then until the end of May 2012 is, to put it bluntly, a total mess and this is going to take some untangling.

The pages that I wrote for my voyage are somewhat hit-and-miss. I hadn’t developed a real technique at that time. I spent much of the afternoon having a basic look at them, having a think, and having a distraction or two (and much to my surprise I didn’t actually crash out today).

But the net result of all of that is that I now think that I know how I’m going to do it – and it will be a lesson for subsequent years (although things have improved a great deal since 2012).

So now I’m going for a long walk. I had a letter in the post that needs a reply, and it’s only from the Estate Agents down the hill, so I reckon that it would be a good idea to take it down there tonight.

It will be exhausting, but it will probably do me some good.

Monday 22nd May 2017 – IT WAS A BEAUTIFUL …

… day today – but not that I would know very much about it because I’ve had one of those days when I’ve not even set toe – never mind foot – outside the apartment.

Last night was another difficult night and just by way of a change – ho hum – I was awake quite early. But there was no danger of me ever leaving my stinking pit at any silly hour. I loitered within bed until the alarm went off and crawled out of bed.

There have been a couple of setbacks here today. Last night just as I was going to bed, the electricity went off with quite a loud click. The only way to start it up again was to unplug everything.

So this morning I went through a process of elimination – plugging everything back in and switching it on until the main fuse went again. Many years ago I had an expensive coffee percolator and when I left Belgium in 2006 I gave it to Marianne. When I emptied her apartment in 2013 I recovered it and it’s been hanging around in the Auvergne since then, just having a very occasional airing when the weather was good enough to run it.

So yesterday was the first time that I had used it, and sure enough, it’s another one of these items that all these years of storage hasn’t done much good.

And that’s not the only thing either. I’ve been telling you about the broken laptop and how I’m running it here with an external screen – something else that I recovered from Marianne’s. The power surge and the blown fuse have done something to that too and it’s not firing up now. It took me quite a while to work on that before I gave it up as a hopeless task. ++–

Apart from that, I’ve dealt with a pile of correspondence today. Changes of address, changes of bank account, all that kind of thing. That’s kept me out of mischief for quite a while. In fact I was late for lunch and late for tea too, and it’s still nothing like finished.

Tomorrow I’m having a day out. Caliburn is going for his annual service and that’s quite a hike away right across on the other side of town. There’s a bus back, but I’m going to have a go to see if I can walk back. It might take my quite a while, but I’ll see how I get on. There are plenty of cafés on the way back anyway.

So that calls for an early night. I need to be on top form tomorrow.

Wednesday 22nd February 2017 – I NEARLY HAD SOMETHING …

… exciting to report today.

There I was, gazing out of the window at he rear of the hostel this afternoon and I noticed a couple of people at the door of the big derelict church at the back here. This seemed like the ideal opportunity to gatecrash yet another official visit – I’ve always wanted to set foot inside there.

And so I nipped off down there hot-foot, or chaud-pied as they say in Wallonie or warme-voet as they say around here, to blag my way into the church.

Instead, there I found these three women trying to work the lock of the door, without very much success at all. In the end, although they agreed that I could join the party, they couldn’t undo the door and in the end gave it up as a bad job and walked away.

So much for that.

I had another bad night again last night. Ages to drop off and waking up a few times during the night, and being definiteively awake by 06:30. So much for that. And I couldn’t eat my breakfast either – most of it ended up in the waste bin, along with all of my food from the fridge yesterday I imagine.

After a brief relax (that spread into a good couple of hours) I wandered off down to the Carrefour by the football ground to but the food that ended up being thrown away (and about which you’ll hear me moaning for the next six months, I imagine). I also treated myself to more ice-cream sorbet and seeing as the pineapple slices are now back to full price, I ended up with a big tin of peach halves instead, just to make a difference.

Lunch was next on the agenda, and then I set to work. I installed the 3-in-1 printer that I had brought with me from home, having first downloaded the drivers and the accessory files from the internet. And once I’d done all of that (which wasn’t simple either) I started off to scan all of my receipts.

That wasn’t a five-minute job either, and it’s really quite ironic. Many years ago I had one of the very first Hewlett-Packard flatbed scanners and the user interface was so easy to use. And not only that, it remembered all of the settings too. This is a modern Hewlett-Packard 3-in-1 printer, an HP deskjet 2180 that I liberated from Marianne and not only is it unbelievably complicated to use, it doesn’t memorise the settings in a batch process so each document has to have its settings set individually, which is the most ridiculous thing that I’ve ever encountered.

But if you think that that is complicated, you ain’t seen nuffink yet because although it’s definitely progress that I can now submit all of my claims on-line, it’s such a time-consuming process. It takes ages just to prepare one form of 5 claims, and I have about 50 or so to do. I’m going to be here for ever.

Tea was vegan burger, beans and oven chips followed by peach halves and vegan lemon sorbet. Now I’m going to have an early night ready for my marathon paperwork session tomorrow.