Tag Archives: montreal

Monday 8th April 2024 – MY APARTMENT HAS …

… passed muster by a group of Auvergnats who descended upon the place this afternoon on their way along the coast.

Rosemary, Ingrid and their friend Clotilde have come to spend the week here on the coast to blow away the cobwebs in the corner of their minds. They found a nice house to rent and are intending to make the most of it, despite what the weather can throw at them.

This also means that my 200-watt Genz-Benz bass amp combo has finally made it home after all these years too. These are expensive pieces of kit and I found one languishing in a pawn shop in Ottawa for peanuts in 2019 when I was visiting my cousin Sandra.

It’s been a long tortuous journey for it to come to Europe. Some empty space in a shipping container meant that it could make it as far as Rosemary’s house in 2022 but it didn’t arrive there until after it left there

And aren’t I glad to see it?

It’s been a long time since I’ve had a decent bass amp and speaker close to hand. Probably since I blew the cone out of my 18″ reflex cabinet in the late 1970s, and since then I’ve been making do with whatever I could find.

Just recently – well, for the last 12 years – I’ve been using a Carlsbro 45 watt combo which probably would have continued to do the job for all the playing bass that I do in public these days but this was a deal that was far too good to turn down.

It’s not as if I actually needed it in Canada either because I had a Fender combo amp in the back of Strider through which I could plug the Jaguar bass guitar.

And those are other things that I need to arrange sometime to bring over here now that Strider has gone the Way of the West.

The Jaguar certainly, when I see the prices of those, for that was something else that I picked up for une bouchée de pain as they say around here and also in Montreal, where I found it in another pawn shop. I always seemed to have good luck in Canadian pawn shops.

However much luck it was, it was certainly more than I had last night in trying to go to bed.

By the time that I’d finished doing everything that I had to, it was much later than I intended and I thought “here we go again”. I’d had a miserable day, there was this stabbing pain in the sole of my foot and I was hours late going to bed. I really could do without all of this.

But eventually I fell into bed and that was all that I remember for all of a couple of hours, before I awoke quite dramatically again at some ridiculous hour of the night.

There was the impression that I stayed awake after that but when the alarm went off I was checking a postal delivery, looking at the form where it said “van driver – her signature” and then “client signature ” and one or two other things on it, otherwise making sure that the form complied with all of the relevant legislation before actually putting my signature on it. But I don’t know what parcel I’d received because I thought that I’d received everything. This must have been something completely different and unexpected that had come in the post like this.

It certainly wasn’t the amp – that didn’t arrive until much later.

First thing that I did when the alarm went off was to fall out of bed to look for the blood pressure machine, and then take the measurement. 14.4/11.5 it was this morning, compared to 15.4/7.7, the latter figure of which looks suspiciously incorrect.

After the medication I had to arrange the dining area so that it’s as the nurse likes it, and then make sure that everything is present. It’s his last day today for a week so let’s hope that he’s calmed down by the time that he comes back.

And let’s hope that my right foot has too, because there’s a weeping oedema on the foot that has reared its ugly head overnight.

Anyway, he cleaned it off and applied a plaster before he wound on my puttees. And he doesn’t like this pair. He thinks that the elastic has gone and I should throw them out but I should think so! They are only about four weeks old!

After he’d gone I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. I was watching a football match last night. There were two teams, one playing in all red and the other in all blue. They were amalgamations of a couple of smaller 5-a-side teams and playing in some kind of tournament but there was this one game that I was watching but that was really by accident because it was on in the background at a house that I was visiting a girl for some reason connected to the Air Force but my eye fell upon the game that was being broadcast on the TV. I became less and les concerned about the Air Force and more and more concerned about the game and what was happening on the screen.

And it wouldn’t be the first time that this has happened either. I’m easily distracted by interesting things that are much more interesting than what I’m actually supposed to be doing.

Next task was to do a final round of tidying up in the apartment before having a really good wash and brush up to make myself look pretty.

While I was waiting for them to appear, I had a little snooze (no surprise there) and carried on with the radio notes. I actually managed to finish off the programme that I started so many moons ago.

My visitors turned up with my amp and I made a pot of tea. Clotilde had bought one of her vegan cakes so we all had a little party as we recalled old times and life down there on the margins of civilisation.

It’s strange but, primitive though the life was up there in the mountains, it was a very pleasant place to be with lots of exciting things happening. It’s a place that I miss more and more with each day that passes but there’s no point having regrets. I can’t turn the clock back to more healthy times.

So after my visitors had met my cleaner, who brought around the next load of medication, they all left me to my own devices.

Once more I crashed out yet again and I was off on my travels. I had the start of a dream about an elderly but thin guy rather like Putin in an all-white football kit, but I had no idea what was going on there

And then later on I was planning on digging some trenches with a backhoe but there was some debate as to whether the ground was solid enough. I thought that it worked out at at least 55lb per sq inch but some others disagreed and thought that it was less solid.

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … what goes on in my head while I’m asleep is much more exciting than whatever happens in real life.

Tea tonight was a delicious stuffed pepper with plenty of stuffing left over to see me through the next few days too, and now I’m off to bed.

Tomorrow I have a Welsh lesson, but I must also write out a shopping list for my cleaner if she goes to visit the LeClerc.

It reminds me of the time that I went shopping with Hannah, my niece’s middle daughter, when we were loading up with supplies to go to a tractor pull in New Hampshire (what an exciting life I used to lead).
"How much water do you think we ought to buy?" asked Hannah
"How much beer do we have?" I asked
"Three crates full" she replied
"So why do we need water then?" I asked. I have never felt more like a redneck in my life

Tuesday 25th October 2022 – MY WELSH LESSON …

… this morning was a disaster.

At least though I was there. And in spades too. When the alarm went off at 04:45 I was actually up and about. With having had no sleep the night before, I made sure that I was in bed early last night but even so I didn’t have much sleep. I was awake by 02:30 and had given up trying to go back to sleep round about 04:00 I hauled myself out of bed.

At one point I had been on my travels. There had been some kind of visit. We had a friend staying with us so I wasn’t working on the coaches that night. I was taking him and Nerina around showing him the town. Some girl had driven the coach that I should have been driving and she had STRAWBERRY MOOSE with her. It was late at night and we were on our way home and were discussing going down to the end of Beachey Head to show the guy the view from there night when we met the girl coming the other way in a kind-of Mini Moke machine. She flagged us down so we stopped. She gave Strawberry Moose back and said that she’d see us back home in a minute. After she left Nerina said “if we’re going there it’ll take us longer than a minute”. I replied “she was the one who made the arrangements. She’ll have to wait for us” and something about a song. There was a coach that had a certain song to perform so its registration number needed to be changed. Two of the coaches were identical but Nerina changed the number of the wrong one. I pointed it out to her but instead of changing it back and then changing the second coach’s number she went to change the number of the second coach first. That way she’d end up with two identical numbers and she wouldn’t know which one had been the original one which had been changed back. I could see that this was going to be extremely confusing but wit the woman turning up in this car she’d interrupted our train of thought in mid-action. This was bound now to lead to all kinds of confusion that we didn’t want to have and never be able to sort out.

With steam-driven internet, my loss of voice and all of that I couldn’t concentrate on anything so I just sat there and observed without contributing anything.

When the lesson finally finished I had my leftover slice of cold pizza and with checkout being at 11:00, I set the alarm for 10:00 and went back to bed. I didn’t sleep but just relaxed ready for the corvée that is to follow.

At 11:00 I went down to reception, stored my luggage in the still-incomplete after all these years annexe and went for a walk in the sunshine.

In the Rue St Catherine I stocked up with medication. And then sat for a couple of hours in the glorious weather. In fact I shall be sorry to say goodbye, maybe for ever, to Montreal. Sitting here in the Place Gamelin in short shirt sleeves in Summer temperatures with not a cloud in the sky watching the leaves falling at my feet.

At 14:00 I went back to the hotel, picked up my possessions and began the long, slow crawl to the bus stop The bus was actually there but the driver was having a break so we has to sit around and wait for him to finish.

Driving down the Boulevard René Levesque we hit every traffic light on red and then at our final pick-up we had to retrace our steps somewhat because of the roadworks and deviations.

Apart from the heavy traffic on the highway it was an uneventful drive and we were there by 15:20. By now I was pretty much played out so I staggered off to the check-in. Having checked in on-line last night my aisle seat was already reserved. I handed over my suitcase and drank my last can of energy drink

While finishing my drink I noticed that there was only a handful of people waiting in the queue for Security so I thought “sod it – I may as well go now while it’s not busy. Better sooner than later”.

And I don’t know what has happened here, but I have made many remarks about how the Dorval Airport – called these days the Pierre Trudeau Airport – has the rudest, most uncivil staff in the world but today I was impressed by their politeness and amiability. Times are certainly changing.

There was several hours to wait but a radio thriller of 150 minutes passed the time quite nicely. I’ve downloaded tons of old radio plays and shows to which I wan listen. It help pass the time

The plane had several empty seats but I was on the end of a row of three. And we were crammed in too because I had a lot of stuff with me. There are new rules on aeroplanes that you have to carry on board with you all of the electronic items that you have. And as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I have plenty of that.

Our take-off was about 10 minutes late and everyone settled down to sleep except me because I couldn’t sleep with all this coughing that I’m doing.

We were served our evening meal in the dark – probably a cunning plan so that we don’t get to know what we are eating. I was assured that my meal was vegan but I remain unconvinced.

And then we hurtled off into the night

Monday 24th October 2022 – TODAY WAS ABSOLUTELY …

… awful.

It started with me struggling to fall asleep on board this train and finished with me having yet another spectacular fall, this time on the platform of the “Berri-UQAM” Metro Station. It doesn’t get any worse than this.

Last night I mentioned that the carriage in which I was travelling was more modern and luxurious than the one on which I travelled down to Moncton. That much was true but that was all that could be said for it. The seats didn’t recline at all and I just couldn’t make myself comfortable.

Nevertheless, I did manage to go to sleep for about three hours and there is even something on the dictaphone to prove it. I fell asleep listening to “Murder on the Orient Express”. The train pulled into a station in a big city. I alighted and went through a door, down some stairs and found myself in the cellar of this railway station where there was a ticket booth or similar with 3 clerks sitting in it. I turned round to retrace my steps but couldn’t recognise the route that I’d taken. I was sitting there scratching my head thinking “how am I going to find my train?” when I heard it start up and pull out of the railway station.

Later on we were on the train with a pile of stuff. We weren’t supposed to let it congeal together. I had this cough that was keeping me awake and annoying all the other people too. I must have fallen asleep because I didn’t remember anything after that. Then an alarm went off. I thought that it was mine so I sat bolt upright. My eyes were stuck together with this liquid stuff that is coming out of my eyes. I couldn’t see anything and I didn’t know how to separate them either.

And finally we were going somewhere as a family. I don’t know who was with us but someone was coming to pick us up. It was a long way and we had to be ready by 04:00. I heard that person coming while I was asleep and I awoke to find them coming to the door. Pretending that I was wide awake I said something in a very cheerful voice that we were all ready and raring to go. Then I found that I’d gone back to sleep again and none of the rest of my family had got up yet either

The rest of the journey was spent coughing all the way to Montreal, nibbling on a bit more baguette and eating a banana. No coffee though. There was a tea-trolley service on the train down but not on the way back. Luckily I’d stocked up with liquids. As I’m not eating, I still have to keep myself hydrated.

In the morning I awoke to find us pulling into the railway station at Ste-Foy on the outskirts of Québec. And having done what we wanted to do there, we reversed back out of there and carried on

victoria bridge st lambert lock observation deck st lawrence seaway Montreal Canada Eric Hall photo October 2022So here’s our fist view of Montreal

We’re actually following the sough bank of the St Lawrence River here, coming up to the little office building and observation deck of the St Lambert Lock at the entrance to the St Lawrence Seaway

That’s the canal that by-passes the rapids at Lachine and enables ocean-going ships to sail up the Great Lakes to places like Chicago and Detroit. There’s a rise here of 15 feet and there are other locks further on.

Montreal from victoria bridge Canada Eric Hall photo October 2022The bridge in the background of the previous photo was called the Victoria Bridge, opened in 1859 and rebuilt subsequently on a couple of occasions.

We’re crossing the bridge but actually using the diversion lines built in 1958 and I’ve no idea why that would be. These lines are only usually used when a ship is passing through the canal at this point but I can’t see one.

As for the bridge, it cost $6,600,000 and when it was completed it was, at almost 3 kilometres, the longest bridge in the World

city centre Montreal Canada Eric Hall photo October 2022We’ve crossed over the river now and are coming into the city centre and the railway station.

It’s a bizarre railway station, lost in the middle of a large shopping precinct, the “Place Bonaventure” part of the Underground City and the Halles de la Gare

It’s also quite modern, being built in the 1930s and opened in 1943 to consolidate all of the railway services in one place, and in the past we’ve visited some of the abandoned ones. But they needn’t have bothered because rail services in Canada are “sketchy” to say the least.

The agonising journey (which I would have enjoyed in other circumstances) drew to a halt about 15 minutes late (which was a surprise for everyone, a mere 15 minutes) and I staggered onto the platform.

I could feel that there was something not quite correct but I pressed on. And I was glad that there was an escalator up to the upper floor because I would never have made it up the stairs.

Having collected my suitcase with HIS NIBS I set off on the marathon crawl to the Metro Station.

Any disabled person thinking of wandering around the subterranean labyrinth of the centre of Montreal needs to think again. They have some escalators here and there that take to mezzanine floors where you have steps to take you the rest of the way.

And some of the escalators don’t work and you have to walk down and had not a friendly, helpful youth not carried my suitcase down to the bottom of one of them I’d still be there now.

And then some of the corridors are carpeted which means that your rolling suitcase comes to a dead stop with a velcro-like effect.

The metro ride to “Berri-UQAM” was uneventful but at the station itself I encountered some of the worst of humanity. There I was, collapsed on the platform and I asked some man if her could help me to my feet. He just looked away and walked straight past. A couple of young girls came to my rescue and with a great effort helped me to my feet while several other people just stood around.

In absolute agony I crawled to my hotel. Of course the room wasn’t ready but I know the people here and they soon had it ready which was nice of them. There’s no lift here though and I had to crawl up the steps to the first floor.

Luckily I was able to leave my luggage downstairs. The chambermaid brought up my backpack and the manager brought up my suitcase later.

By this time I was flat-out on the bed asleep. And I managed a couple of hours of, for once, blissful sleep.

A little later I had a nice hot shower and washed my clothes, and then got back into bed. Not that I slept but it was simply to rest my leg and take it easy.

In the early evening I tempted fate and went out again. I think that I’m keeping alive the entire Canadian pharmaceutical industry right now because with the stuff that I bought in Moncton not having any particular effect, I went to the chemist’s down the road and received different advice.

On the way back I went to try a slice of pizza but I could only eat half of it. This complete loss of appetite isn’t a fiction at all. So guess what I’m having for breakfast.

Back here I went straight to bed. I have a Welsh lesson in the morning at … errr … 05:00, not that I’m feeling in the least like it, but I have to push myself on.

But honestly, I’ve never felt as bad as this and I’m worried about the next couple of stages of this journey

Sunday 2nd October 2022 – AS I TYPE …

… these notes I’m sitting in a train that’s rocketing eastwards along the south bank of the St Lawrence River.

For reasons that only they will know and, if the rest of us were to know them, we still wouldn’t understand them, CoachAtlantic has taken off the service that runs between Moncton and Rivière du Loup.

Back in the old days, I would catch the “Orleans Express” bus from Montreal to Gaspé, alight at Rivière du Loup and await 90 minutes for a bus to come in from Moncton and turn round. But that’s no longer possible.

What I’m having to do now is to catch a train that goes to Halifax, alight at Moncton and wait three hours for a bus to take me back north-west. It’s like travelling 270° of a circle and what started off as a journey of about 9 or 10 hours has now become a journey of 26 hours.

Any British person who is complaining about the effects of Dr Beeching on the British railway network would have apoplexy if ever he were to examine the Canadian railway network. There is only one passenger train east of Québec in the whole country and I’m on it. There is absolutely nothing else. And although I paid for four nights in my hotel I only ended up staying for three because this train only runs a couple of days per week.

And that’s the Canadian National Railway. The whole of the Canadian Pacific network east of Québec, freight as well as passengers, has been ruthlessly hacked off, every inch of it. There’s a railway station right at the back of Rachel and Darren’s mill but that hasn’t seen a train since 1982.

And that’s why you’ll see a lot of “misinformation” about “The First Transcontinental Train” going from Montreal to Vancouver. In its embarrassment, Canadian Pacific is trying its best to shove under the carpet the fact that it had at one time a huge network in the Maritime Provinces.

And if anyone is wondering why I’m not flying, I’m refusing flat-out to pay … gulp … $1335 for me and my baggage.

If you don’t have a car in Canada, you are really in some extreme kind of difficulty and for that reason I’m seriously thinking of selling Strider and going back to hiring a vehicle at the airport. I can’t do this kind of journey again under any circumstances.

But retournons à nos moutons as they say around here, I was wide-awake, and in total agony by the way, at 06:30 and I went off to have my medication.

And having dealt with that I could get on with what I had to do. And while I was doing it, I was sitting with my right foot in a bucket of ice-cold water. I have to do something to try to improve my foot.

There was some stuff on the dictaphone from last night. I was going away with a girl but first of all I had to go back to the office to pick up my car, the beige MkIV that we had. When I arrived there, parked outside was the chocolate brown one with Nerina sitting in it. I had to basically chivvy her up out of the car so that I could get in and take it away with me as I had a ferry arranged for later that night. She said that I couldn’t go yet as there was a problem with a couple of the cars. The beige one had just quite suddenly cut out. She did say what was up with the second. The way that she described it, it was simply a wire off the beige one that I could fix in a matter of seconds. Then she said that one of the drivers had all the wages. I asked “which driver?” so she gave me a name but I didn’t recognise that driver. I asked about the rest and she said that it was in our lock-up. I thought that I’d better go and collect that. She said “you’ll need to go quickly before they go and fetch it”. I set off but I had to go back and ask where the lock-up was. She told me then I had to go back to ask which lock-up it was. I could see this lasting for hours, not finding the money, not fixing the car, not going away.

Later on, Mrs Ukraine was asking me why I was so interested in the fate of refugees in France. I explained briefly to her the story of my mother as a child being evacuated with 10 minutes notice to go to live with strangers. I told her all that story. Then I was on patrol with the Ukrainian Army but in France. They had found the coast and were making more of it. A helicopter then flew in. The first thing that it did was to winch out my brother. I imagined that I’d be next but it looked as if someone else was preparing to go, a woman. In the meantime my brother and two people were standing on a cloud playing football. As other people started to be winched in one of the guys came up to me to say that he needed a cannon. They had to make certain what it was that he actually wanted. It turned out to be a self-propelled armoured vehicle with something bigger than an 0.762mm machine gun. I said that I’d try to see what I could find for them and started thinking in my head about people I knew who might actually have that kind of equipment and I’d go along and negotiate it out of them.

As for the story about my mother, regular readers of this rubbish in a previous version will recall having seen a photo of where my mother lived as a child. It’s a small terraced house at the side of the road in Birchington in Kent, about 200 yards away from the end of the runway of Manston Airfield which was a major RAF base. At the fall of France and the first stick of Luftwaffe bombs dropping on the airfield, all of the children in the vicinity, my mother and her younger sister included, were rounded up with 10 minutes notice, put on a train and evacuated. My mother and my aunt ended up living in Somerset with people whom they didn’t know and had never met, with just one small suitcase each. Listening to my mother’s stories, what happened to them must have been an appalling nightmare for little kids like them and as a result I have a great deal of empathy for anyone else fleeing from their homes under a stick of bombs, no matter who they are and where they are.

Another thing that I did was to have a shower and to clean myself up ready to leave, and then to tidy up my room. And in many senses I’m sorry to leave this place. It’s much smaller than the place where I stay in Leuven but it’s much more modern and better-equipped. Had I been more mobile this place would have been pretty high up on my list of places to stay but the stairs killed me off.

My foot had gone down somewhat and it was easier to walk about. Putting on my elastic stocking made it go down a little more and although it was still difficult to put on my shoe, I was able to move around a little better than I did yesterday and that was a relief.

On my way to the station I stopped for a quick snack before getting on the Metro. It’s as well to have some food before leaving because I’m not sure what the arrangements for food will be on the train. There is a restaurant car on board but whether there will be anything that I can eat, or whether I can actually afford it anyway if there is, are interesting questions.

At the station I had to check in my suitcase witn STRAWBERRY MOOSE on board and then wait for boarding. I declared myself as in need of assistance so someone accompanied me down the escalator – It’s a long, steep drop to the bottom if I fall.

interior viarail train Montreal central station Canada Eric Hall photo October 2022We’ve SEEN VIARAIL TRAINS BEFORE when we were in Halifax and they seemed to be are absolutely ancient and in poor state of repair.

These days, nothing much seems to have changed. And that’s not all. The interiors are like something out of the 1960s, all leather and chrome, but it looks to be supremely comfortable.

Having had assistance to board, I was one of the first to find a seat. The train ended up to be crowded although I was one of the lucky few who didn’t have a neighbour. Mind you, someone is sitting right behind me with a couple of toddlers by which time it was too late to change seats. It’s going to be a long, noisy night.

Montreal by night Canada Eric Hall photo October 2022After what seemed like for ever, our train pulled out slowly from the railway station and we eventually found ourselves out in the open air.

It was going dark quite quickly and as the train looped round to the south to cross over the St Lawrence there was a really nice view of the city with all of the buildings illuminated.

We aren’t exactly in a hurry. It’s not what you call high-speed travel. In Europe this kind of pace would be embarrassing. It’s going to be a very long journey, I reckon, but at least I was right about the seats. They are comfortable and I have two to myself so I can spread out.

Something else that I can tell you about Viarail and the Canadian National railway network, such as it is, is that passenger trains have a very low priority. By the time we’d gone an hour out of Montreal, already we’d ground to a halt twice to give precedence to freight trains.

Having now had a coffee, I’m going to settle down while it’s quiet. I’ll probably be awoken a dozen times during the night so I need to take advantage of whatever quiet I can find.

Saturday 1st October 2022 – THAT WAS HORRIBLE

I awoke this morning with my right foot swollen up like a balloon and with pain the like of which I haven’t felt before. I’ve no idea what has happened because despite all of my meanderings yesterday there wasn’t a hint of this happening.

As a result, most of the day has been spent in bed with my foot up, doing not very much at all. It’s a good job that I went to the shops for food supplies when I arrived because at least, I have stuff to eat and drink even if it means staggering around in the room a little

There was some stuff on the dictaphone too from last night. This dream concerned someone who was driving a car and came to an area where there was a strike. He understood that when he reached the strike he had to leave the road and re-join the road where this strike was over. He didn’t realise that he could do things differently. People started to call him names about it being stupid so he went to tell the Police. He met a policeman at the traffic lights where he had been at the start. He got into his car and drove to this policeman while he was telling this policeman his story. The policeman was surprised and asked this guy what he wanted him to do. The guy said that he was annoyed at people calling him names and being stupid. The policeman said that there wasn’t an awful lot about that that could be done but this guy was rather insistent. He’d been driving around for quite a while while this guy was telling the policeman his story.

There had been some kind of kidnapping. A couple of people had been taken. The gang that did it – I managed to track them down. I was about to make some kind of arrest. They had a secret code number which was 2568. How I knew about this I really can’t remember. There was a sudden knock at the door. Someone wrote something down on a pad so I had the burnt tip of a match and rubbed it on the pad and it came up with the number 2568 so I opened the door wide but stepped right back. It revealed a guy whom I knew but I hadn’t quite connected him with this kidnapping affair. He came in but in the confusion I was hit on the head and knocked out. In the meantime these people disappeared and ended up on a deserted World War II airfield hidden between bales of hay in a tent or two. Their plan was to move people out early in the morning. I had the impression from what they were saying although I wasn’t there that “moving them out” meant that some of them would be flown away, the valuable ones, and the others would be quietly liquidated

Later on I was back at home again in a kind of bunk bed with instead of being a bed there was a shelf over the top. On my bed were a load of files all in red filing covers. I started to arrange some o the shelf but very slowly. I thought “this is going to take for ever. What I need is a wild fit of enthusiasm” so I suddenly leapt up and started to grab these files with the aim of filing them all on the shelf quite rapidly but I awoke instead.

Something else that I did was to go through the 40 or so photos that I took yesterday and to carry out a little research on what I’d seen.

gare centrale Montreal Canada Eric Hall photo October 2022Later on in the afternoon, in extreme agony, I hobbled out and on the metro to the Bonaventure railway station. Tomorrow evening I have to be at the Central Railway Station so I needed to work out a plan and to check the route.

The agony was indescribable so I won’t try to describe it and the walk was ridiculous. It’s one thing that I’ve said so many times about the Metro in Montreal is that it goes where it was convenient for the planners to put it, not at all convenient for where the passengers want to go. As I result I had to drag myself through a labyrinth of corridors, making several wrong turns because the signposting is awful.

steps up to escalator gare centrale Montreal Canada Eric Hall photo October 2022It’s not built for disabled people either. There are several escalators in there, that’s true, but for one at least of the escalators you have to walk up half a dozen steps to reach it and that totally defeats the whole purpose of the escalator.

At the station I found a very helpful member of staff who told me everything that I needed to know and gave me a few tips and hints too, so it was well-worth the effort to go there.

The stagger back home was no less painful and I was glad to collapse on the bed again. Rosemary rang and we had another one of our marathon chats. These internet-based telephone services are worth their weight in gold.

Later on I made another coffee, had another bowl of muesli and a bagel with jam and went to bed. I’d done enough today. Let’s hope that there will be an improvement tomorrow

Friday 30th September 2022 – OUCH!

That was painful. I’ve just come back from an afternoon out where despite having a broken kneecap I’ve walked an agonising 116% of my daily total today.

At least last night I’d had a good sleep. This is one of the most comfortable beds in which I’ve ever slept and I really would have enjoyed it even more had I not left the alarm to ring at 07:30 this morning i.e. just 3 or so hours after I went to bed.

However no danger whatsoever of me leaving the bed at that time. Even 11:48, or 05:48 around here when I finally did surface was probably an exaggeration.

shower room cobalt boutique hotel rue st hubert Montreal Canada Eric Hall photo October 2022After the medication I updated the blog so you can now find out where I went yesterday and then I went for a shower and a clothes-washing.

And I forgot all about the phenomenon of “Québec Showers”.

“What are “Québec Showers”?” I hear new readers ask.
Regular readers of this rubbish will know all about “Québec Showers”. That’s where you see C and F on the taps and you think that they mean Chaud and Froid but they actually mean “Cold” and “Freezing”.

Actually, despite the foregoing, the shower is quite nice. It washed me and my clothes a treat.

Another thing that I’d done was to send a few messages to various people and as a result I went out at 11:40.

new building rue st herbert Montreal Canada Eric Hall photo September 2022The last time that we were here in the rue St Herbert there was a big hole in the ground just down the road from the hotel – the brick-built building to the left – where I usually stay.

When we wandered past this morning we noticed that a huge tower block of apartments had mushroomed up to fill the hole and by the looks of things everyone has already moved in. It didn’t take them long to throw it up.

It’s probably a quite popular, and quite expensive place right across the road from the Berri-UQAM metro station.

Down at the Metro station at Berri-UQAM I met Dorothée. She was a young girl whom I met in New Brunswick while she was on a school exchange and we kept in touch. She’s now studying at the University of Montreal and so she nipped out in her lunch break to meet me.

We had a lengthy chat that went on for two hours, chatting all about old times and so on, and then she had to leave for a lecture.

fountain place emilie gamelin Montreal Canada Eric Hall photo September 2022After Dorothée left to go back to University I went to sit outside in the sun for an hour. At least I have some nice weather for it.

The crowds are out today loitering around in the place Emilie Gamelin making the most of the good weather before the leaves turn golden and begin to drop off.

And who was Emilie Gamelin when she was at home, if she ever was?

She was the founder of the Sœurs de la Providence de Montréal, one of the many religious orders that existed in Québec. She contracted cholera during the epidemic of 1851 and died shortly afterwards.

notre dame basilique cathedral place d'armes Montreal Canada Eric Hall photo September 2022Once I’d recovered from my exertions I made my way to the Gare Berri-UQAM and caught the Metro to Place d’Armes for a wander around the square and the cathedral.

The cathedral was built in the 1820s to the design of James O’Donnell but since then has been amended considerably. The two towers, for example, were designed by John Ostell and were erected in the early 1840s.

Since then further alterations have taken place and a programme of restoration began in 1979 following an arson attack the previous year.

Monument à Paul de Chomedey, sieur de Maisonneuve place d'armes Montreal Canada Eric Hall photo September 2022Before the basilique was erected there was an earlier church on the site of what is now the Place d’Armes that was demolished in 1830.

The Place d’Armes is now the home of Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve, one of the founders of Montréal, or Ville-Marie as it was known back in his day.

He comes from the region of Troyes in France and regular readers of this rubbish will recall that on one of our visits to the town we went to have a look AT HIS FAMILY HOME.

The site of VIlle-Marie was established after several confrontations with the First-Nation tribes.

plaque place notre dame Montreal Canada Eric Hall photo September 2022Both Cartier and Champlain encountered settlements of Iroquois in the immediate area and once the first colonists arrived here in 1642 they attempted to push out the Iroquois.

On 30th March 1644 there was a confrontation in the immediate vicinity between a party of settlers and a band of Iroquois that ended inconclusively.

Although the war with the First nations raged on for another 50-odd years this confrontation is considered by some to be the decisive moment in the establishment of the European settlement of Ville-Marie.

plaque place notre dame Montreal Canada Eric Hall photo September 2022Of course, these days times have changed.

European exploitation and mistreatment of autochtone inhabitants is being rightly recognised for what it was and the rights of the autochtones to defend their land, their settlements and their way of life are being rightly recognised as the heroic struggle that it was.

For that reason, the placing of a plaque to acknowledge that is long overdue and I’m surprised to see that we had to wait until 2019 to see it.

composite image Montreal Canada Eric Hall photo September 2022It’s not of course the first time that we’ve seen something similar.

When we were at the Little Big Horn battlefield we encountered memorial stones to the native Americans who “died defending the Lakota way of life” and when I finish editing all of the photos YOU’LL SEE THEM.

As well as that, when we were in Santa Fe we saw a plaque that spoke in extremely dismissive, if not offensive terms of the native Americans, with an explanatory and apologetic plaque attached at its side.

Times indeed are a-changin’

Le vieux séminaire de Saint-Sulpice rue notre dame Montreal Canada Eric Hall photo September 2022Despite all of the times that i’ve come to Montréal I’ve never managed to take a decent photograph of Le Vieux Séminaire De Saint-Sulpice

There has always been scaffolding around it, or lorries parked in front of it, or pedestrians who won’t get out of the way, and today is no exception.

It’s important to take a photo of it because it is said to be the oldest surviving building in Montréal, dating from the 1680s and the members of the Sulpician Order took up occupancy in 1685.

There’s said to be some very historic archives in there with records going back to the 16th Century and how I would love to lose myself inside there for a couple of days.

cruise ship amera port de Montreal harbour Canada Eric Hall photo September 2022From the Place d’Armes I went for a wander through the old town down to the old part of the port to see what’s going on.

There aren’t very many commercial freighters that use the old part of the port these days and the freight facilities are pretty much derelict. Instead they’ve constructed a huge modern cruise ship terminal and we’ve seen plenty of cruise ships in here in the past.

And there’s another cruise ship in there today. I’ll have to go for a wander to see who she is and what she’s doing here.

cruise terminal cruise ship viking star port de Montreal harbour Canada Eric Hall photo September 2022You can see what I mean about the cruise terminal.

It looked quite a tempting sight for me to go to visit but there were quite a few security guards loitering around who wouldn’t let anyone past who didn’t have a boarding card. They didn’t seem to welcome anyone who might be seen as a potential stowaway .

But it does hold a special fascination for me because it was probably somewhere around here that my great grandparents first set foot ashore in Canada when they emigrated from here after my great grandfather’s military service ended.

So it looks as if we have two for the price of one here.

juno marie cruise ship amera port de Montreal harbour Canada Eric Hall photo September 2022Firstly, let’s mention the oil tanker that’s here fuelling up the cruise ship. She’s called Juno Marie.

She was built in 2004 and displaces about 2000 tonnes. That’s not very much but she presumably just runs around the port fuelling up the ships that call in here.

We’ve seen her before, in AUGUST 2018 in fact when we were passing through Montreal on the way to the Arctic, when she was also fuelling up a cruise ship that was calling here.

cruise ship amera juno marie port de Montreal harbour Canada Eric Hall photo September 2022As for the cruise ship herself, she’s called Amera

She was built in 1988, displaces about 35,000 tonnes and carries a total of 835 passengers and 440 crew.

A week ago she was at St Anthony and then St John’s in Newfoundland and since then she’s been sailing up the St Lawrence River, having done a lap around the Saguenay Fjord at one point with a port of call at a small town called Port Alfred.

She arrived here in Montreal earlier this afternoon.

juno marie port de Montreal harbour Canada Eric Hall photo September 2022In the meantime, having seen Juno Marie just now coiling in her pipes and setting sail out of the berth she’s now heading off downriver.

What I imagine that she’s doing is going to the storage tanks at the port to fuel up ready for her next client. She’s the kind of ship that’s being kept busy.

The crane on her deck will probably be for swinging the hose out to the ship that she would be fuelling. Modern fuelling hoses are reinforced these days and would be quite heavy.

cruise ship viking star port de Montreal harbour Canada Eric Hall photo September 2022Amera is not the only cruise ship in port this afternoon.

This one is Viking Star who is basically following in the footsteps, or, more appropriately, the wake of Amera, although she put in at Sydney on Cape Breton Island last week on her way around.

Launched in 2014, she is the flagship of the Viking Line. Displacing 48,000 tonnes, she can carry 902 passengers and 602 crew

Her relatively compact size means that she can fit into some ports into which other cruise ships can’t fit, although the town of Bourne in Massachussetts will certainly have one or two remarks to make about that.

vm/s hercules port de Montreal harbour Canada Eric Hall photo September 2022Another ship that’s in port today is the VM S Hercules

She’s described as a floating crane and is owned by the St Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation. Believe it or not, she was actually built in 1961 by Marine Industries of Sorel, just down the river, and displaces 2100 tonnes

She’s not actually a ship, in the general way of things. She’s more like a large floating pontoon with an enormous crane on top so she’s probably used for maintenance and recovery rather than for unloading freighters that arrive in port.

grain silos entrance to lachine canal port de Montreal harbour Canada Eric Hall photo September 2022If you had come here 50 years ago the waterfront scene would have been completely different.

All along the port would have been grain silos like these, dozens of them. All of the grain from the Great Plains would have arrived here and been stored in the silos ready to be shipped to Europe.

However in 1959 the opening of the St Lawrence Seaway has permitted larger ships to sail further inland via the Great Lakes

As well as that, with there being a railway line between Winnipeg and Churchill on the shore of the Hudson Bay, because of global warming the Bay is ice-free long enough for the grain to be shipped out of Churchill. Because of the curvature of the earth, it’s a much shorter and less-complicated route to Europe.

outdoor photography class port de Montreal harbour Canada Eric Hall photo September 2022One thing that regular readers of this rubbish will recall as a common feature is photographs of people taking photographs.

And, not to be out-done, this afternoon down at the old port we come across not one or two but probably a whole dozen people here down in the port taking photographs of a young lady.

It goes without saying that seeing everyone here, I couldn’t resist taking a photograph of them all myself.

outdoor photography class port de Montreal harbour Canada Eric Hall photo September 2022There’s no doubt and judging by all of the equipment that the photographers have, cameras as well as lighting equipment, it looks very much as if I’ve stumbled upon some kind of outdoor photography class.

That much seems to be evident by all of the photographers standing around exchanging information about settings and apertures and the like.

Usually, most photographers guard their settings quite jealously. They are very persoonal and it’s quite oftten the difference between half an aperture or a tenth of a second that can transform a good photograph into a great one

outdoor photography class port de Montreal harbour Canada Eric Hall photo September 2022As far as I could tell, in my mind that she’s a professional model being moved around as her photographers think fit.

But whoever the model is, she doesn’t look all that comfortable sitting there on the back of that bench. However the model seems to be enjoying herself, being the centre of attention with all of those guys around her. And who can blame her?

Had there been a pause in the session I’d have gone to have a chat with her but as they were all so busy and I was pushed for time I left them to it and wandered away.

canadian national EMD GP9 4135 GP38-2 4904 port de Montreal harbour Canada Eric Hall photo September 2022Pushed for time indeed.

As you might expect with a working port and a very large country to service, there’s a thriving network around here and it’s connected to the railway network at each end of the docks.

And having heard the rhythmic clanking of the bell at the level crossing that told me that there was a train on its way.

canadian national EMD GP9 4135 port de Montreal harbour Canada Eric Hall photo September 2022It’s a double-headed train with two locomotives. That tells us IF OUR OBSERVATIONS IN WYOMING In 2002 are anything to go by, that it’s half a mile long.

The locomotive at the head of the train is painted in Canadian National Railway colours and is numbered 4135

That tells us that she was built by the Electro-Motive Diesel Company or EMD, a subsibuary (at least, in 2022 because the company changes hands often) of the Caterpillar equipment company

canadian national EMD GP9 4135 port de Montreal harbour Canada Eric Hall photo September 2022She’s a GP-9, or the ninth version of their general-purpose locomotives and was built as long ago as December 1957

Her actual designation is that she’s a GP9RM, the RM indicating that at some point in the past she’s been rebuilt and so no longer complies with the manufacturer’s specifications. Not that that’s a surprise for a locomotive that’s almost as old as I am.

As for exactly how she’s been rebuilt, that’s impossible for anyone really to say. Someone who seems to know what he’s talking about tells me that “no two rebuild programs were identical”.

canadian national GP38-2 4904 port de Montreal harbour Canada Eric Hall photo September 2022The one behind is a much more modern locomotive, at least by Canadian standards.

She’s another EMD machine, this time a GP38-2 version, built between 1972 and 1986.

She’s currently wearing the livery of GATX, the General American Transport Company founded in Chicago in 1898 to lease railway wagons to rail shipment companies.

canadian national GP38-2 4904 port de Montreal harbour Canada Eric Hall photo September 2022Since then the company has branched out into the leasing of locomotives and other railway equipment.

Unfortunately I can’t tell you too much about her. The company doesn’t tell us too much about the history of its locomotives.

There doesn’t seem to be too much information about her by reference to the fleet number either. It’s quite possible that she’s been renumbered at some point in her history

caboose port de Montreal harbour Canada Eric Hall photo September 2022At the rear of the train is a caboose in which the guard sits.

In Europe it would be called a guard’s van and a caboose would probably be known as the offspring of a Native American woman.

One of the purposes of the guard’s presence is to keep an eye on the level crossings to make sure that no vehicle or pedestrian tries to force a passage across in front of the oncoming train. Traffic control along here isn’t very efficient.

big wheel port de Montreal harbour Canada Eric Hall photo September 2022Here’s something that we’ve been noticing as we’ve been coming here in the late summer over the years

The big wheel has become something of a major attraction here in the port since its erection in 2017 to celebrate the 375th anniversary of the founding of the city.

It’s 60 metres high, has 24 cabins and cost $28 million, which was apparently financed by a group of private investors. It operates all through the year thanks to its heating system and resistance to strong winds, and can carry a fulll load of 336 people.

tyrolean zip wire port de Montreal harbour Canada Eric Hall photo September 2022Another attraction here in the port of Montreal is the Tyrolean Zip wire.

It’s the longest urban zipline in Canada apparently at 365 metres and is 25 metres from the ground.

Something that is unusual as far as any European in concerned is to see an upper weight limit on equipment such as this. It’s something that wouldn’t usually concern anyone but, I suppose, being situated close to the border with the USA, it’s of some kind of importance.

marché bonsecours Montreal Canada Eric Hall photo September 2022On the way down to the port I came by the Marché Bonsecours.

The site itself was one of the most important in the city and after the fire in 1833 that destroyed the house of brewer John Molson that was situated here the municipality bought it.

From 1844-1847 the present building was erected here as a market to the designs of William Footner to replace the older Marché St Anne.

Following the riots that led to the burning down of the Parliament building in 1849 the delegates met here for a while and once another Parliament building was inaugurated the Municipal council met here until 1878.

notre dame de bonsecours chapel Montreal Canada Eric Hall photo September 2022Today, it’s now a commercial centre with boutique-type shops and cafes.

It’s also used as a space for exhibitions of art and the like, and rooms are available for hire by the public.

It’s really very hard to believe that a building such as this was at one time left derelict and in 1963 there was even a proposal for its demolition. But as we’ve seen so many times in North America, there doesn’t seem to be the same pride in the patrimony as in other parts of the world.

So abandoning another good rant for the moment, I’m going to wander down to the waterfront.

clock tower memorial port de Montreal harbour Canada Eric Hall photo September 2022We’ve seen this building many times in the past. It’s the Memorial Clock Tower, one of the typical symbols of Montreal and is a monument or memorial to the Canadan sailors who lost their lives during World War I

The tower was designed by Paul Leclaire and was built between 1919 and 1922. The mechanism is based on the mechanism that works Big Ben in London.

You wouldn’t have had this view of it in 1922 though. As I mentioned elsewhere, the Port of Montreal was formerly one of the leading grain exporting ports and the area in front of the tower where you can see all the trees was formerly the site of yet more grain sheds.

oceanex connaigra port de Montreal harbour Canada Eric Hall photo September 2022While I was busily admiring the Memorial Clock Tower, I noticed a ship coming upriver so I decided to loiter around to see who she might be.

The ship to the left is hidden by a wharf so I can’t see her name and by the time I’d checked on my maritime radar she had left, but the one heading my way is called Oceanex Connaigra

You can tell by the writing on the hull that she’s owned by the Oceanex company.

oceanex connaigra port de Montreal harbour Canada Eric Hall photo September 2022When I returned to my hotel I had a quick look to see what I could find out about the company.

It’s based in St John’s in Newfoundland and its mission statement is to provide transportation services between the Atlantic coast of North America and Newfoundland and Labrador, from whole shiploads to individual vehicles

It’s been carrying on this business in one form or another since 1909

oceanex connaigra port de Montreal harbour Canada Eric Hall photo September 2022As for the ship herself, she was built in 2013 in Germany

She displaces 26,000 tonnes, is 210 metres long and has a draught of 8.45 metres. She cost the company $108 000 000 to purchase. The company chairman told me that to fuel her up would cost $1 800 000 and that was a long time ago too. God knows what it would cost now.

According to the records of the maritime radar, she seems to operate a shuttle service between St John’s and Montreal.

oceanex connaigra port de Montreal harbour Canada Eric Hall photo September 2022What caught my eye about her was the fact that she can transport “individual vehicles”.

And so as she sailed past I was expecting to see that she had some kind of Ro-Ro configuration, and I was rather interested to see that she does have that capability.

But what I found even more interesting is that she is licenced to carry 27 passengers too. Are you thinking what i’m thinking? I shall have to go and sweep the dust off Strider.

gare dalhousie Montreal Canada  Eric Hall photo September 2022On the way back to my hotel I went past the site of the Gare Dalhousie

It’s a national monument because, as a plaque on the side of the wall proudly proclaims, "the first regular transcontinental train departed from this place 28th June 1886".

However, that’s a complete and absolute fabrication, as several million people who live in Canada will tell you.

The train left here on that date and headed for Port Moody which is on the Pacific coast. There is another 1250 kilometres that separates Montreal from Halifax on the Atlantic coast and this “first regular transcontinental train” didn’t cover a single kilometre of that distance.

But then again, the people of the Maritime Provinces of Canada are quite used to being totally ignored by anyone further west and so this is absolutely no surprise whatsoever. Nevertheless, it is pretty shameful

The train, and the railway station were run by the Canadian Pacific railway so it seems to be absolutely appropriate that it later came to be the home of the National Circus School. Clowns a-plenty, I should imagine.

At one time the Canadian Pacific had quite an extensive network of lines in the Maritimes but practically overnight in the 1980s the company wiped it out entirely. Maybe the statement on the plaque is Canadian Pacific’s way of trying to hide its embarrassment.

gare viger Montreal Canada  Eric Hall photo September 2022Just down the road from the Gare Dalhousie is my favourite building in the whole of Montreal – the Gare Viger.

Gare Dalhousie only lasted as a passenger terminus until 1898. The Gare Viger, designed by Bruce Price was opened as a railway station, railway offices and hotel.

The hotel closed in 1935 and the rooms were taken over by part of the administration of the city who stayed here until 2006, having bought out the rest of the building when the Canadian Pacific ceased operations from here in 1951.

When we first came past here in 2010 it was boarded up and derelict. We’ve been slowly watching the renovations take place and much of it now is let as offices. But there’s still a lot to do with the building if it’s to be restored to its former glory.

A very slow, very agonising (and I do mean “slow and agonising”) walk brought me all the way back to Berri-UQAM – a walk that would usually take me about 15 minutes but today took me about an hour – and I caught a metro train back to Cote-Vertu.

When I’d been there yesterday I’d seen a pizza place that sold pizza by the topping so I chose one that didn’t include cheese. And it really was delicious.

There’s a fruit wholesaler there as well so I stocked up with grapes and bananas

On the way back I was feeling rather better and I moved a little easier. The climb up the stairs was ever so slightly easier but they had changed the code on the front door here and it was quite an effort to persuade someone to open the door for me.

Once inside I had a listen to the dictaphone. We were discussing one of my father’s old vans last night. When we were kids we had a Bedford Utilabrake, CA Bedford and had it for a couple of years. It was as rotten as hell and it went on its way eventually. We were chatting about it last night and much of that which we discussed we talked was actually quite accurate which was a big surprise

So having written up my notes I’ll go to bed. I’ll add in the photos at some other date – there are over 35 photos from today’s walk to edit and sort.

But a good sleep in the comfortable bed will do me good – no alarm until late and sweet dreams (I hope).

So who’s going to disturb me first then.

Thursday 29th September 2022 (cont) – SO HERE I AM

strawberry moose suitcase place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022And here he is too. I’m sure you didn’t need me to tell you who is travelling wiht me, do you?

When the alarm went off this morning I’d already been in and out of the shower. This is usually what happens when I’m setting off to go somewhere, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall. In fact I’d been awake for a lot longer than that. I would have said that I hadn’t actually gone to sleep at all except that there’s something on the dictaphone. And I know that without looking because I remember having to leave my stinking pit to change the batteries in it.

I can’t remember very much about this because of the batteries. It was to do with a person whom I know from University who is in a wheelchair trying to find someone to look after his cat, his old black and white cat before he went off on holiday. There was also a question about a dog as well so we were making jokes about Boudicca, having the dog tied to his wheelchair to pull him along. There was something else in this as well about food. He was looking for someone who had some extra food for some reason that he could take but I don’t really remember all that much about this.

Just by way of a change I’d paid for a breakfast. I don’t normally eat a breakfast but it’s going to be a very long day and the availability of food is not going to be guaranteed. There are supplies in my backpack because I’ve been caught out like this before but nevertheless it’s always best to be as prepared as they can.

They sent a minibus to pick me up and to my embarrassment and shame I couldn’t get into it. I ended up falling into it and I’ve repeated the damage to my right knee. This is certainly not the time and place to be doing that and I shall regret that, I reckon.

At the airport (because of course I’m going by air) it was a long walk down to the check-in and I felt every inch of the way. At the check-in desk there were just four other people. We had been told to be there at least four hours before check-in so we were there on time but the staff didn’t turn up until much later. And one of them, the guy who set out the lanes for the queues, is someone whom I shall remember for a very long time.

automatic passport check paris charles de gaulle airport France Eric Hall photo September 2022After having checked in I then had to go through passport control.

That’s all automated these days. You set into some kind of little cubicle that checks your passport and photographs you. I was thinking that if you and your passport were rejected, the floor would slide open and you’d fall into a pit lined with sharpened sticks.

Mine was okay and I passed through for a physical check. Luckily, my carte de séjour was to hand so they didn’t stamp my passport.

Security was surprisingly painless. They confiscated my little bottle of water. I was half-inclined to ask him about how he felt working right next to a crateful of stuff that he believed to be dangerous or explosive but I decided that gratuitous confrontation was probably not a good idea.

But I sailed through without the slightest problem and that really was quite extraordinary.

air canada c-fnnq Boeing 777-300ER 2013 paris charles de gaulle airport France Eric Hall photo September 2022This is our trusty steed.

She’s C-FNNQ and the fact that her registration begins with C tells us of course that here in Paris she’s likely to be owned by Air-Canada. And when I say that she’s a Boeing 777-300ER, you have probably worked out where I’m going.

Being as early as I was, there was quite a long wait before we could board. I sat quietly and listened to some music on the computer. Many more power points in the airport than ever there used to be. Currently, the “album of the moment” is of a live acoustic concert by Steve Harley and Nick Pynn and if ever you get to hear “Riding The Waves” from this concert, it contains probably one of the best acoustic guitar/dulcimer solos of all time.

air canada c-fnnq Boeing 777-300ER 2013 dorval pierre trudeau airport montreal canada Eric Hall photo September 2022Here’s a better view of my ‘plane, taken at – you guessed it – Pierre L Trudeau Airport at Montreal.

She was built in 2013 and her claim to fame is that on 26th September 2014 she lost all her navigation connections on a flight over the Atlantic. Luckily they were restored soon after and most of the … gulp … 465 people on board knew very little about it.

They would have known much more about it if they hadn’t managed to re-connect the system

We were packed in like sardines and having luckily checked in on line last night I had an aisle seat. I spent the flight either asleep, listening to more music and watching my neighbour playing solitaire – not very well.

The on-board meals were really what you would expect – quite correct as far as airline food goes so my supplies stayed holed up in my backpack.

crowds arrival lounge dorval pierre trudeau airport montreal canada Eric Hall photo September 2022And here we are fighting our way through immigration in Canada.

Queues for miles and most things automated. But when I finally saw the Immigration officers I was waved through with the most minimal enquiries. Obviously the events of a little over three years ago and which have been preying on my mind a little for all this time were really all for nothing. I suppose that I can go ahead and add in those few days that are missing from my blog.

Queueing then for the luggage, queueing to buy a bus ticket, queueing for the bus, and then queueing in the traffic for a demonstration that was taking place in the streets. And a guy who spent much of the bus ride asking me questions ended up missing his coach connection at the bus station because of all of the delays.

cobalt boutique hotel rue st herbert Montreal Canada Eric Hall photo September 2022Finding my hotel was another thing. It’s a new place apparently, so new that they haven’t even put up the signs for it.

Consequently I was wandering up and down the street aimlessly for quite a while trying to track it down.

And once I’d finally found it I had to find the check-in instructions, sent by e-mail that of course I hadn’t received previously with being on the road and there being no public internet connection. Walking down to a Tim Horton’s for a free connection isn’t possible at the moment, the way my health is.

In the end, more by luck than judgement, I found what I needed.. I’d asked for a ground-floor room which they had given me, but they didn’t say that you had to walk up one flight of steps to the front door and then down another one inside to my floor.

kitchen corner cobalt boutique hotel rue st hubert Montreal Canada Eric Hall photo October 2022However, once down here, I found the room to be very nice and comfortable ven if it is a little small.

There’s even a little kitchenette, although I shan’t be using it much with probably the best Indian restaurant in North America just a metro ride away.

Had it not been for the mobility issues I would have been delighted with this place, and I’ll certainly remember it for future visits if my health improves..

outdoor table tennis place emilie gamelin Montreal Canada Eric Hall photo September 2022Having had a little … errr … relax for half an hour or so I wet to the shops for supplies.

On the way I went past the Place Emilie Gamelin where there was an outdoor table tennis game taking place. It wasn’t the game that interested me as much as the antics of the car that’s in the lower left corner. The driver pulled up, dropped someone off, looked around ready to move off, saw me waiting with my camera, put the handbrake on, took a drink and started to eat a snack.

Fed up of waiting, I walked up the hill 5 yards, took the photo from there and as I moved away, she drove away.

My original plan was to walk down to the river but I decided not to push my luck that far as I’m not very steady on my feet right now. So I decided to go and buy some food instead.

Took me 10 minutes in the IGA to choose the stuff for breakfast, and then about an hour to pay in one of the longest supermarket queues I’ve ever seen

outdoor theatre place emilie gamelin montreal canada Eric Hall photo September 2022On the way home again I stopped at the Place Emilie Gamelin again.

This time it was the outdoor theatre that excited my attention. Nothing much happening there but there seems to be much more going on in general than ever there used to be.

Going back up the steps with my shopping was too much and I fell down the stairs. Some poor girl tried to pick me up but failed miserably as I was of no help. In the end I dragged myself over to the steps and sitting on one step after another I managed eventually to pull myself upright.

When I finally made it back to my room I had to wash the shopping bag to get rid of the orange juice stains. What a mess that was!

After a long rest I took my life into my hands and headed for the metro. Luckily there are lifts and escalators here at Berri-UQAM and so getting to the platform wasn’t much of a problem although I didn’t enjoy the walk one bit.

I took the Montreal Metro’s orange line westwards to the terminus at Cote-Vertu where there are also passenger lifts to take me upstairs to the street.

Galeries Norgate shopping mall cote vertu Montreal Canada Eric Hall photo October 2022From there it was yet another slow walk across a dangerous road junction (which is not the place to fall over at all) to the shopping mall, the Galeries Norgate, on the other side of the rue Decarie.

And why is shopping in North America so boring? Well, when you’ve seen one bunch of shops you’ve seen a mall

I’ll get my coat.

raja restaurant Galeries Norgate cote vertu Montreal Canada Eric Hall photo October 2022At the back of the shopping mall is the best Indian restaurant in the whole of North America.

It’s still here, which is good news, and not only that, it’s even better. It’s been enlarged so there’s plenty of room to spread out. The vegetable biryani was excellent although the garlic naan wasn’t as good as it might have been. However, this is North America, not North Staffordshire, and you can’t have everything.

Like most places in North America the portions are definitely man-sized … “PERSON-sized” – ed … and I asked for a doggy-bag on leaving. Guess what I’m having for breakfast tomorrow?

aeroplane coming into land cote vertu Montreal Canada Eric Hall photo October 2022The Galeries Norgate are right underneath the flightpath for aeroplanes coming into land at the Pierre L Trudeau airport down the road.

They pass so low overhead that you can almost reach up and touch them. And there are dozens of them too. I’d be quite happy to stand here for a while and watch them but it’s probably not a good idea. There are one or two other people standing on the street corner around here and they certainly aren’t watching the aeroplanes

Consequently, in the best traditions of a well-known British Sunday newspaper of years gone by, “I made my excuses and left”.

Luckily the metro station has its lift because that was the only way I could make it back. And at Berri-UQAM it was a long, slow crawl home.

Now I’m off to bed even though it’s not quite 22:00. But in real time that’s 04:00 tomorrow and that means my day has been almost 24 hours with just a cat-nap in between.

It just goes to show – I really CAN do it when I try.

Saturday 18th July 2020 – I’M NOT HERE

This morning, although I heard the three alarms, I didn’t get up until about 06:30. Tons of stuff on the dictaphone, as I discovered, so it must have been a very restless night.

We were in a classroom last night having a talk on climate change, this kind of thing. A question that came up interested me, about New Zealand. The lecturer was saying that all of the difficulties about New Zealand – in Iceland the volcanos and glaciers were pushing out the centre of New Zealand – rather, pushing it up, the centre of South Island and changing all of the weather. There were storms and this thing. I asked if this was going to be a permanent thing or a temporary arrangement. One guy in this classroom was making notes, doing it with a kind of hammer-press thing and it was making a racket even louder than a typewriter. I wanted to ask him to shut up if anyone was able to talk to me about my question, to which I never actually had the answer. There were a couple of girls in this class and I was quite keen on one of these. For some reason the question of cycles and motorcycles came up. These two girls rode motorcycles so I was thinking “should I buy a motorcycle too so that I can keep up with them?” and that way I can keep up with them and be close to them I suppose and so on. But it was a case of how long was this going to continue? Is it just a flash-in-the-pan kind of course and we’ll all go our separate ways in a week or is this going to be some kind of long-term situation. As usual, I was full of indeciaion yet again.

Later on I was back in my house in Winsford of all places. There was a lot going on there as if it was in Central London and actually a car. I was sitting there watching all these events going on behind me – a little old woman tottering back to her home and someone I was with running out and shouting after her. But this little old lady didn’t seem to hear. There was another older person with us. The three of us came back and the reason why I hadn’t heard anyone reply was that the 2 old women were talking really slowly. It seemed that they were taking this old lady to show her this Old People’s Home, whether there was a vacancy in it, something like that. Off they went and they were climbing up the steps just as an ambulance pulled up and dropped off a load of elderly ladies all on crutches. I was back in my house and a couple of rooms were really cold and a couple really warm. I had the central heating all confused. This was the first time that I’d been in this house for God knows how long. I got back in there and there was a small cupboard on the wall. That was where the food was. I thought “God I’d left my steps in Belgium”. I don’t know why I said Belgium. I had to open it and everything was all crammed into these shelves and I thought “where am I going to put my freezer now?” There’s no room to put that in the kitchen. I had a pack of drink and for some reason this drink needed to be put in another bottle so I cleaned another bottle with bleach and had to rinse it out. Of course there was all the calcium in the water and it took ages to try to run clean before I could start to use it.

Another thing that came was that I was on a bike cycling home and for some unknown reason I fell asleep when I was cycling and woke up to find that there were some girl cycling alongside me. As I awoke she sped off. I then had to go and retrace my steps. it was through this hilly area and I remember a few things of the route and got on a bit of route that I didn’t recognise at all. It was steep and windy. I thought “God, did i cycle through this in my sleep? I was doing really well!”. Then I came into a town and by the bus station were loads of people with skis and it turned out that this was a … march. This was a big ski resort and you flew into the airport and a bus from the airport brought you into the town. Right at the bus stop was the start of the chair lifts so it was the easiest place to go to if you wanted to ski after work. All these crowds there and I fought my way through. This woman said something about this but I can’t remember what the something was so I replied to her in French and said “it’s not a problem”. She said “I was referring to you” I replied that I have to get home so I have to fight my way through everyone to get home. Everyone laughed at that and that was when I ended up back at my house in Winsford.

Having gone back to sleep at some point I stepped right back into that dream again, right back into Winsford and right back into my house. The house had been built for 2 years but I’d only just moved into it. I’d had it that long that I hadn’t lived there. it was in the middle of some kind of shopping centre where all of these shops were half-built or quarter-built where the money in Winsford ran out. The didn’t have the money to finish off all of the shops to let. a very decaying place indeed it was. I was walking through there and there was another couple in front of me. the guy was telling the girl about how the election in May 2015 2 years ago had changed absolutely everything and the new party decided to stop work on the shops.

Later still we were in a water mill that produced electricity with the water wheel. This mill hadn’t been used for years due to some kind of faults and complications about a diesel fuel blower and all of this and had set the place alight. There wa s no way of getting any modifications for it and they needed to get some kind of money coming from the mill so they decided that they would open it as a water-powered mill and let nature take its course. I was there but everyone else was off looking for things but I was screwing up the sluice gates so that the water instead would pass through the main centre of the mill. I started to open the main mill doors and the water started to rush in there. it suddenly started to go at a hell of a rate, this, as if a huge flood had built up outside for hundreds of years. It was necessary for me to slow down the flow of water otherwise it was going to sweep away the mill.

After all of that I was surprised that I wanted to go away. That sounds like it was more than enough travelling to be going on with.

But the first task was to finish off the packing and start to load up Caliburn. Basically, I just threw the stuff in because the back of the van has a huge pile of old cardboard boxes in it.

When everything was packed and loaded I tidied up and took the rubbish down to the waste disposal, vacuumed the living room and kitchen and then washed the floor with bleach and disinfectant. While the floor was drying I had a shower and a weigh-in. And I’m keeping this weight down, although what I will be like by the time I return will be anyone’s guess.

Cleaning and disinfecting the waste bin was next and then bleaching and disinfecting the WC and sinks.

Once all of that was done We set off.

First stop was the dechetterie where all of the cardboard, the old Caliburn battery and the old electric kettle bit the dust.

Next stop was Noz. But there wasn’t all that much in there, apart from a few small tims of potatoes.

After that wes LeClerc for a full tank of diesel, a couple of memory cards and a few basic items of foodstuffs – nothing much at all.

Off to Roncey to Liz and Terry’s. Terry loaned me a brushcutter which went into the back of Caliburn – while I was there I tidied it up a little too but I’ll be doing some more tidying up in there as well as I go round

Liz made lunch and we all had a very good chat for a couple of hours.

Round about 15:00 I hit the road. 260kms to travel on the first stage of the journey. Via Caen, Liseux and Evreux. Eventually I ended up in St Marcel, on the outskirts of Vernon in between Rouen and Paris on the banks of the Seine.

Here there’s a hotel, the Hotel du Haut Marais, and this is where I’m staying tonight.

old cars 1913 panhard levassor duranville france eric hallOn the way down towards the banks of the River Seine we had a little interruption that delayed me somewhat.

As I drove through Duranville in the département of the Eure I came across a garage that had seven or eight old cars out on display, and that kind of thing is enough for me to stop and have a better look to see what is going on,

And I seem to have found myself at the garage of a dealer of vintage and historical vehicles and almost everything in this yard is available for sale if you have enough money, which I don’t.

strawberry moose old cars 1913 panhard levassor duranville france eric hallThe first car that I saw and which tempted Strawberry Moose out of Caliburn to come for a ride.

The car itself is a Panhard-Levassor of 1913 although what model it might be I really have no idea. Being a 2-door 2-seater it’s not going to be one of the Model 20s that Président Poincaré adored but that’s all that I can say.

The company was a big fan of sleeve-valved engines – ports in the engine casting to vent the gases, protected by a kind of rotating sleeve between the piston and the bore. Very quiet running but very heavy on oil consumption and a technique that faded away when conventional valve seating technique improved.

Some Panhards had sleeve valves and some were conventional, but I don’t know about this one.

old cars strawberry moose cadillac convertible duranville france eric hallThis car is much more like what you would expect to see in a place lke this.

One of the most opulent and ostentatious mass-market vehicles ever to hit the road anywhere, the Cadilac convertibles of the 1950s were the acme of bad taste in the 1950s. Big, powerful V8 engines and wallowing suspension were great on the open roads of the south-west where WE HAD LOADS ON FUN IN THE MUSTANG all those years ago, but in the crowded streets of the major cities they were a nightmare.

Nevertheless it was the kind of vehicle to which everyone aspired back in those days, and everyone had to be seen in one, just like Strawberry Moose and his new friend.

old cars Ford V8 pickup duranville france eric hallThis is a vehicle that will probably appeal more to the traditionalists and the practically-minded amongst us.

It’s a Ford “steppy” – a step-sided Ford V8 pickup of the design that when I first started going to North America 20-odd years ago, were still reasonably common on the roads over there but now you will be very lucky to see one moving about under its own steam on a day-to-day basis.

Possibly from the late 1940s or early 1950s was my first thought. In fact the unofficial Québec number plate that it has on the front (Québec doesn’t require legal plates on the front of its vehicles) suggests that it’s a 1952 model. If so, it’ll have the 239 V8 sidevalve engine in it.

old cars ford model T duranville france eric hallOn the other hand, 30 or so years earlier, just about everyone in the USA would have been seen in one of these.

“Every colour you like, as long as it’s black” said Henry Ford of his Model T “Tin Lizzy”, or “Flivver” as Paul Getty called his, so I’ve absolutely no idea at all what he would have had to say about this one in a bright lime green.

Te one advantage of cars of this era with separate chassis and body is that they could be cut about as much as anyone likes, and so you could buy them in all kinds of shapes and body styles. And if that didn’t suit you, you could customise your own.

This little pick-up is a beautiful example.

old cars ford modet t fire engine duranville france eric hallIt’s not the only Model T here at Duranville either. We have this one here to whet our appetite.

Or, rather, should I say “wet our appetite” because this is the former fire engine of the town of St Laurent in Québec. That’s a town that now no longer exists, having been conjoined to Montréal in 2002. But it’s an area of Montréal that regular readers of this rubbish will know very well because it wasOUR OLD STAMPING GROUND AROUND THE METRO DUCOLLEGE beFore I was taken ill.

As for the vehicle itself, it was new in 1924 and is said to be the first motorised fire engine of the city, serving between 1924 and 1944, and just imagine going out to fight a fire in that in the middle of a Québec winter.

She underwent a complete restoration in 2006/2007.

old cars dodge convertible duranville manche normandy france eric hallYes, as well as the cars outside, there was quite a number inside the building too as you can see and they let me have a wander around inside with the camera.

Right by the door was this Dodge Convertible. It looks beautiful from this distance but that’s because it’s had a full restoration by the looks of things. It wouldn’t have looked like this maybe 20 years ago, I bet.

Unfortunately there’s no indication of what model it might be but it has the styling of a Dodge of the mid-late 1930s

old cars dodge convertible duranville france eric hallIt’s carrying a set of French numberplates issued within the last 3 years or so but there’s no other indication about where it comes from.

It’s not the kind of North American vehicle that I would have expected to have seen being sold in Europe at that particular time – after all, there was a quite a big volume-car marked in Europe at this time churning out all kinds of stuff that was as good as this at probably half the price.

There wouldn’t have been an “exotica” market back in those days, so I suspect that this is a comparatively recent import, like much of the stuff seems to be.

old cars barn find bugatti replica france eric hallThis of course isn’t a recent import, but it’s certainly a lot more recent than it looks.

Had this been a genuine Bugatti “30 plus” you wouldn’t find it in a place like this looking as if someone has dragged it out backwards from a haystack. It would have genuine alloy wheels on it for a start and be locked up in a vault somewhere because it would be worth a fortune.

My guess is that this is a replica, of which there are several examples available and on the road. It has a few quite modern features that you wouldn’t have found on the originals 90-odd years ago.

old cars dodge pickup duranville france eric hallWe saw a Ford stp-side pickup just now parked outside, but here tucked away in a corner is a Dodge pick-up of an earlier vintage, I reckon.

There was a series of lightweight Dodge trucks, the WD series (or DD series if made in Brampton, Ontario) between 1939 and 1947 of various carrying capacities between half a ton and one ton and if I had to guess, I would say that it’s one of these.

The position of the sidelights on the A-pillars suggests that it’s later rather than earlier but the absence of window vents suggests that it’s not one of the final ones made.

old cars buick 8 renault prairie 1952 mgb duranville france eric hallThis is a bit of an eclectic assortment of vehicles stuck away in a corner.

The MGB is of no interest to us of course but the big Buick 8 in the foreground is of course. Again, it’s difficult to say much about it except that because of where the spare wheel it is, it might actually be a Buick 8 Special of the late 1930s

The Renault at the back is a Renault Prairie of 1952 and if you want to see a close-up of one of these I’ll have to dig out my photos from 2007 because regular readers of this rubbish in a previous guise will recall that we found one in a scrapyard in France back in those dats.

Talking to the owners later, it appears that they have an agent in Québec who sources this kind of thing and has it shipped over from there. So much for yet another business opportunity then, unfortunately.

But right now I have other things to think about, like finding a hotel.

hotel du haut marais saint marcel 27950 eure france eric hallThere are several along the river but I need to be careful because one of th bridges is closed for repair. I have to track my way through all kinds of countryside before I arrive at Vernon.

And this is my hotel for this evening, the Hotel du Haut Marais at St Marcel. It looks as if at one stage it’s been one of the Accor group’s places but really these unit hotels all look so alike that there’s no way of telling.

Anyway, it’s a reasonable price without going too far and it’s comfortable. And I’m off to have an early night. It’s been a long day and there is plenty to do. A good night’s sleep will do me the world of good.

Friday 15th May 2020 – I MISSED …

… the alarm again this morning and it was 06:45 when I finally arose.

My own fault, of course. Just when I was thinking of going to bed onto my playlist came THE KNIFE, a vastly, criminally underrated album by a relatively unknown progressive rock group from, of all places, just across the bay here in Jersey

No possibility of my switching off the computer while that is playing. I’ll quite happily give up sleep in exchange for good music, make no mistake about that.

So with a late start, everything else ended up being late too. And there was enough on the dictaphone to keep my busy for a good while typing it out too.

My mother (what the heck is she doing intruding into my night-time voyages? As if I didn’t have enough of this back in those days!) was in this and she was doing the housework, all this kind of thing and a girl whom I knew (and how come she’d suddenly appeared out of nowhere too?) who worked on the sandwich stall on Crewe market and later came to work with me. I was quite keen on her and she was talking about how she wanted to find some more money. My mother was ironing and folding up clothes, putting them away, this kind of thing so I mentioned “does anyone know anyone who wants some help around the house?”. My mother said immediately “well I do” so we talked a little about the girl.
A bit later on I’d been to the swimming baths and they were in Nantwich and freezing cold. I’d never been so cold in the water as I was then. There was a kind of regatta taking place in there but I was all for packing up and turning round and going home
Somewhat later, I’d been for a walk at a market stall type of place (not the one at Crewe). They had home-made bread in it so I went to try to get a loaf of bread. I walked in and it had just opened. The mother and the little girl who ran it were running around handing the keys back to the admin and so on. I went in and who should be sitting at a table right by the bread but a girl whom I used to know. I didn’t really want to see her so I just wandered around the shop and move out. Just then they shouted that the shop was closed so everyone else got up and moved out. She was walking some times in front of me, some times behind me, some times beside me and didn’t say a word but she got out of the building first and I followed. This was quite unsettling but I didn’t know why.

After breakfast I made a start on the rewriting of the website and attacked another page. This took some time to do too because there were a couple of old American cars, an old American bus and a railway locomotive on it and they needed identifying.

In the end I posted the photos into various discussion groups on the internet and while they ended up being the subject of a considerable amount of discussion and interest, everyone was as bewildered as I was.

For once, the collective power of the internet has let me down.

After I’d done that I reviewed the template that I had written (and resolved) for the other web site that I have and then amended a couple of pages from there to reflect the new design.

Well, it’s the old design really but all of the text menus for each individual page are being replaced by a common iframe with a common javascript menu, as well as a couple of other items of not very much importance.

Doing this is saving me about 4.5kb per page (and there are about 500 in total) and also a considerable amount of time and effort for the future when something needs to be changed throughout the site.

While I was having lunch (and the bread that I baked was delicious) Rosemary rang, so we ended up chatting until … errr … 15:00. These marathon discussions go on for ever.

And I also had an on-line chat with Josée. The area where she lives in Montréal has been pretty badly hit so I wanted to speak to her for reassurance and to keep up her morale. It’s strange that there are this little hotspots here and there around the globe like this.

That meant that there was only enough time left to deal with a few of the photos from July 2019 before I went for my walk.

kitesurfing donville les bains brehal plage  granville manche normandy france eric hallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that yesterday we saw a windsurfer practising his art in the sea off one of the beaches between Donville les Bains and Bréhal-Plage.

Today we have no windsurfers but what we do have instead is a kitesurfer enjoying himself out there. The wind has dropped today, but not by all that much so he’s certainly taking his courage, as well as his kite, into both hands.

And once again, we have crowds of people on the beach over there in the sun.

couple on beach plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallAnd that’s not all either.

There was a noise down on the beach here at the Plat Gousset that caught my attention so I had a look down to see what it was. Nothing gave any indication of anything but my eyes did fall upon a couple of people making the most of the tide being somewhat out.

All I can think of is that there must have been a further relaxation of the rules about which I know next-to-nothing.

yacht pleasure cruiser ile de chausey english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallAnd if you think that that was everything, that’s far from the case.

It seems that people have been taking to the waters too. Out there half-way over to the Ile de Chausey are a couple of pleasure craft. That’s a yacht of course, and what is accompanying it seems to be a cabin cruiser.

That’s the life – if you can afford it, of course. You won’t run much risk of catching anything – in a virus sense, that is – out there.

trawler english channel brittany coast granville manche normandy france eric hallAt first glance I thought that this boat out there over towards the Brittany coast might have been Thora. She had a similar silhouette.

But back home I could crop and blow it up (the photo, not the boat) and, peering through the reflected sunlight, I could see that It was a fishing boat – one of the trawler-types.

Thinking on, though, we could do with some new blood in the harbour. We haven’t had a gravel boat in for quite a while and the port really should be trying to attract more commerce.

marker buoy english channel donville les bains granville manche normandy france eric hallBut plenty of fishing of course.

We keep on seeing mysterious buoys sprining up offshore every now and again with no indication of what they might be for or who has left them. And there’s another one here today just offshore over near Donville les Bains

It was pretty busy round by that little corner of the walls, and I carried on and ended up back at the apartment without having noticed anything else of interest at all.

There was the usual hour on the guitars but from 17:00 until 18:00 rather than 18:00 to 19:00.

There was a good reason for that, though.

Yesterday I used the last of the apple pie and so i wanted to make another pie, using pastry that I made myself to make sure that it wasn’t just beginner’s luck.

home made red fruit pie place d'armes granville manche normandy france eric hallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that I had bought a bag of frozen red fruit from LIDL yesterday. I’d left it out to defrost and this morning I put it in a colander to drain off.

350 grammes of flour and 175 grammes of soya margarine all well-mixed together seemed to make it too oily so I added more flour.

At about 400 grammes it seemed to have the correct consistency so I added a few tablespoons of water and mixed it in until it went into a nice elasticky mass, then, having coated it with flour, I rolled it out for the base and the top.

And here’s the finished product – totally delicious is was too.

caravanette mobile home parking rue du roc granville manche normandy france eric hallIt wasn’t ready when I finished my pie and potatoes so I went for an early run.

My run of course took me up to the top of the hill where I stop for breath. And this sight here is becoming ridiculous now. Just look at all these caravanettes parked up here.

There are more and more of them arriving every day and they don’t seem to have grasped the fact that just because detention à domicile is over, it doesn’t mean that it’s safe to go out to play.

groups of people children playing pointe du roc granville manche normandy france eric hallAnd this is even more crazy too.

At least in a caravanette you are isolated of a sort but just look at all of these people. The group over towards the right were having a yoga session here on the lawn and the ones on the left were having a picnic.

As well as that, there was a pile of kids playing “tick”, of all things, over by one of the bunkers of the Atlantic Wall on the extreme right.

What will it take for people to understand what’s happening?

flags flying war memorial pointe du roc granville manche normandy france eric hallAnyway, I left them to it and carried on with my walk.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we saw the other day that the British flag by the war memorial to the Resistance was on the point of being ripped off its pole by the force of the wind.

But it looks as if they have repaired it now. The don’t want it going fluttering off to some obscure corner of the globe. It would be something of a public relations disaster.

pointe de carolles cabanon vauban mont st michel granville manche normandy france eric hallThe weather though was beautiful and the air, at least down the coast to the head of the bay, was perfectly clear.

There was an excellent view of Carolles-Plage, the Pointe de Carolles with the Cabanon Vauban perched on the end, and then down at the head of the bay there are the hotels and other buildings that serve Mont St Michel.

You can’t see the Mont St Michel though because the Pointe de Carolles is in the way, which is a shame. That really would be something to see from here.

marker buoys baie de mont st michel st pair sur mer granville manche normandy france eric hallSomething else that we can see in this photo is a group of more marker buoys.

It would be very surprising if they relate to nets being out because they are really far too close to the harbour entrance. That makes me wonder whether they might be something to do with the sailing school in the port de plaisance

On that note I ran all the way home and had a slice of my home-made red fruit pie with soya coconut dessert.

It’s still fairly early but I don’t care. I’m going to bed. Shopping tomorrow and I’m hoping that NOZ will be open. It will be interesting to see what they have accumulated.

And I have an apple turnover, made from the left-over pastry, to cook. So I’m planning on oven chips for tea if I remember.

With burger and baked beans too. I’m looking forward to that.

Thursday 14th May 2020 – THAT WAS A …

… better day today!

For a start, I actually made it out of bed before the third alarm. And after yesterday’s disaster, that was really some kind of progress.

And I was off on a voyage as well during the night. Not quite as graphic as the previous night’s, which is a good thing, I suppose. There were three of us wandering around central London last night, me and two girls. I know these two girls and I just can’t think who they are. It was the time of a vampire attack on the city and we’d been doing something, fighting off these vampires and a fourth member of our party, an elderly gentleman dressed in Victorian suit and top hat was helping but he was taken ill on one occasion. So I went over to see him although it wasn’t me – but it was me in the dream if you know what I mean – and I undid his shirt. I found that he had a bandage wrapped round his chest so I had to undo the bandage. He snarled and snapped at me and I realised that he was a vampire. Someone had pushed a stake through his heart at one time. I grabbed these two girls and I stuck a cross in his way or his hand or something and we ran off. Somehow we became separated and I ended up with one of these girls and she ended up going home. I escorted her home and we came back out. We were on this street, something like rue St Catherine Est (near the CHUM) in Montreal. Down at the bottom of a hill was a church and that was where I’d arranged to meat this other girl. We were late so I said to this girl who was with me “stay here” and I ran on down to see the other. There she was outside this building and she was curling up, settling down on the floor going to sleep to wait for us on the pavement. I grabbed hold of her “God, don’t do that!”. She asked “where’s the other girl?”. “I’ve left her on a street cornerto come and fetch you. Now we have to go and fetch her back”. We were loaded up with valuables (…like the camera…) but we couldn’t find anywhere to put them. There were all these boxes where you could leave stuff but there was no key. We had to scratch around for a key or a lock or something – we didn’t have one. Time was getting on and in the end I thought “God just put the stuff in there. If someone pinches it, too bad”. The door didn’t close, the camera strap was dangling out right by a fire, everything like that. We ran back up the hill and as we ran back up we were really afraid of what we would see – whether the vampire had hold of this girl again. Should I have left a cross in her hand or wrapped garlic around her neck or something? I started to have all of these weird ideas about what was going to happen and what I should have done.

After breakfast I assembled the radio project as far as I could and checked the timing. Knock off 30 seconds from what was left out of the hour, and that was the length of track for which I was looking.

A shower was next, and a shave and general clean-up. And of that 300 grammes of weight that I had lost at the last weigh-in, I’d put 400 grammes back.

workmen rue st jean medieval city walls granville manche normandy france eric hallIt’s Thursday today, and so that means shopping of course. But once again, I didn’t go very far before I stopped.

One of the penalties of living in a medieval walled city is that quite often the old gates are too low for lorries and the like and regular readers of this rubbish will have seen plenty of examples of trans-shipment

There’s more work taking place within the walls, I imagine, and they can’t pass the lorry and the trailer here through the gateway. They are going to have to unload all of this, I imagine, and take it through as best as they can.

joly france baie de mont st michel ile de chausey granville manche normandy france eric hallWe’ve seen all of the ferries – the two for the Channel Islands and the two for the Ile de Chausey, parked up during the confinement.

But today it looks as if things have eased off. Joly France, one of the passenger ferries that goes out to the Ile de Chausey, was just heading off out of the harbour and by the looks of things, she has a good complement of passengers.

Here’s hoping that none of them are infected because the virus would spread like wildfire out on the island.

First stop was the Post Office to post of Rosemary’s Christmas present. I know that it’s May but she was away from home until the day of the lockdown and as she came home, the Post Office closed.

We had to queue outside and were allowed in three by three.

At the Bank, where I went to pay in a cheque and to change a standing order, it was even worse. Facemasks compulsory (luckily I had taken with me the one that I was given by a neighbour the other week), oOnly one person in at a time and so the queue was down the street.

The counter clerk was very scrupulous about cleaning off the perspex window and all of that, and then handled all of my paperwork and bank card, which made the scrupulous cleaning of the perspex screen rather superfluous.

At LIDL I spent more than intended, but a large part of that was spent on a folding rucksack. It’s a reasonable size but folds up into a large pocket and it’s just the job for when I go on excursions.

The apple pie is on its last slice too but they had on special offer some frozen red fruits – €1:79 for a 750 gramme bag. So I bought a bag and I’ll make a pie with that tomorrow.

floating pontoon out to outer harbour granville manche normandy france eric hallOn the way back I bought a dejeunette from La Mie Caline for lunch, but was once more interrupted walking up the Rue des Juifs.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we have seen them floating the new pontoons across the harbour by pushing them with a motor boat, but this one is actually being pushed out of the inner harbour.

We’ve also seen the mounting brackets that they installed at the ferry terminal. It looks as if, now that Joly France has gone off on her travels, that they are going to install the new pontoons.

Back here I wrote the text for the final track, uploaded it to the computer, edited it and assembled the final track. I was over time by 5 seconds but a quick edit of some speech soon dealt with that.

After lunch, while I listened to my handiwork, I had a look at the template issue for one of my websites – the issue that I mentioned the other day.

And it should be no surprise to anyone that I resolved the issue in less than 10 seconds. In fact, I’d been thinking about this problem here and there and I had a very good idea of what I had done. And I was right.

It will also be no surprise to anyone that I also had a little doze for a few minutes here and there.

Once I’d recovered my composure I set about installing the new hi-fi. And I rather think that I’ve over-egged the pudding somewhat.

It was necessary to drill a couple of holes in the furniture and then perform a complicated rewiring job which meant practically dismantling the computer and a few other things too.

It led to something of a tidy-up too (and putting away a pile of papers) and then I connected everything up. And as I said, I’ve over-egged the pudding somewhat because this system is somewhat overwhelming.

But the quality is phenomenal nevertheless and I’m as impressed with this as I was with my galvanised steel dustbin.

Somewhat later that anticipated, I went out for my afternoon walk.

On the way out with the hi-fi box I bumped into a woman from the Mairie who was handing out the free washable face masks that the commune had ordered for their inhabitants. I asked her for an innuendo so she gave me one.

“Corona virus?” I enquired.
“No” she replied. “The school next door starts back up next week. We don’t want you frightening the kids”.

trawler english channel ile de chausey granville manche normandy france eric hall

The hurricane was still blowing and it was a struggle to walk around the walls. But I wasn’t struggling half as much as some people. The trawler out there in the English Channel near the Ile de Chausey was really making heavy weather of the journey home.

You can tell by the whitecaps on the tops of the waves that far out (that’s probably about 10 kilometres out) just how wild the wind is right now.

windsurfer people on beach donville les bains granville manche normandy france eric hallAnd the trawler wasn’t the only one out there in the wind.

Never mind the story about the beaches being closed and so on, we have a windsurfer out there enjoying the storm. And I suppose that he parachuted in from the air too.

But there must be a good handful of people out there on that beach between Donville les Bains and Bréhal Plage and I have no idea why they are there and what they are doing.

There was still half an hour left to enjoy the music before the hour on the guitar, which was spent mainly playing around with two Dire Straits tracks – “Sultans of Swing” and “Tunnel of Love”. Despite all of the time that I’ve spent working out “Telegraph Road”, i reckon that right now it’s beyond what I’m really capable of doing.

Tea was a nice stuffed pepper followed by the last of that delicious apple pie that I made, so tomorrow is going to be a baking day, I reckon.

car caravan parking rue du roc granville manche normandy france eric hallBack outside in the teeth of the gale and my run up the hill which was agonising tonight.

And at the caravanette park in the rue du Roc we have yet more grockles who haven’t quite grasped what all of this virus thing is about. I’ve seen the local police on their patrols and I reckon that they ought to be doing something about this.

But anyway having recovered my breath I ran on down to the clifftop to see what I could see out to sea.

And the answer to that was “nothing at all”.

sunlight relection beach st pair sur mer granville manche normandy france eric hallAround the corner to the south side of the headland and I noticed something glistening on the beach over across the bay at St Pair Sur Mer.

Being of a curious bent … “errr … quite” – ed … I took a photo of it to crop and blow up back here. And what I can see is that it seems to be the sun’s reflection on the window there reflecting into a tidal pool on the beach.

It’s quite amazing what you can pick up with a good zoom lens.

floating pontoon ferry terminal port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallEarlier on today we noticed that they were pushing a floating pontoon out of the harbour.

At the time I speculated that they might be finally going to fit them to the mounting brackets that they fitted to the harbour wall over at the ferry terminal.

And sure enough, there they are in position. But I’m intrigued to see what is going to happen when the tide goes out because it dries out over there. And what happens to the pontoons then will be interesting.

floating pontoons port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallDespite the howling gale I struggled on with my run down the Boulevard Vaufleury and I was pretty done in when I finally reached my marker.

Back down to the viewpoint over the harbour to see what they had been up to down there. And it looks as if some of the floating pontoons down there (we’d seen three rows yesterday) have gone.

The missing ones are probably those that they installed at the ferry terminal.

My next run took me round to the viewpoint in the rue du Nord but there was nothing going on over there so I turned round and ran back home as best as I could in the wind.

So now I’ve finished this, I’m ready for bed. This was a better day today and I felt a bit more like myself. Here’s hoping for an even better day tomorrow.

Monday 16th March 2020 – I WAS STROKING …

… the big ginger cat Gribouille outside the building this afternoon when a woman approached.

She saw me, wrapped a scarf around her face and gently skirted around me, keeping a good two metres distance all the time.

And the thought going through my head was “couldn’t she have picked a more polite way to remind me that I didn’t have a shower this morning?”.

And indeed I didn’t have a shower this morning. I’ve forgotten that I’m heading to Belgium on Wednesday (Government legislation permitting) so I don’t really need anything. So much for the big rice pudding that I made on Sunday.

But yes, Belgium. That hotbed of disease where everyone is in a panic, yet you have about three times as much chance of becoming a multi-millionaire by winning the lottery than you do of catching this disease.

Of course, the situation could change at any moment but that’s something to worry about when it happens. I’m under no illusions. I’m elderly, I’m in poor health and I have no immune system. And so if I do happen to catch it, I’ll be the first to go under. But there’s no point in worrying about it.

Mind you, I did worry about last night when I crashed out writing out my notes. It’s only half-finished and I did reckon that I’d finish it today but that wasn’t possible. That’s for another time, I reckon.

Just for a change these days, I beat the alarm this morning and I was up and about having my medication long before the third alarm went off. It shows the benefit of an early night.

And back here, I had a look at the dictaphone. And I’m not at all sure what was going on here. There was a building that was probably Hankelow Hall where I squatted for a certain time. There was some kind of football match going to take place between two ad-hoc teams and I was on one of these. We assembled to play our match. It was in the harbour of a town, something like the harbour where this abandoned building was. So we met and again I realised that I didn’t have all of my things. I needed some more before the match would start. I needed to go home and pick them up but would I have time before the kick-off of our match? Yes so the house was plunged into darkness again and we were going to have to have another search around to find ourselves, find our boots and find the people with whom we were supposed to be playing.
later on I was in Montreal last night with someone but I don’t know who. The two of us were on a STM bus and something was happening. The passengers weren’t very happy with the driver and they were having a go at him and he was having a go at them. At a bus stop, “Denbigh” in the rue Denbigh (which doesn’t exist, by the way), the driver stopped the bus at the bus stop, got out from behind his seat and came down the bus to try to attack one of the passengers. The passenger hid amongst the crowd of people so the bus driver couldn’t get him, so the driver took out a bayonet-type of thing, went outside and started to unscrew the window of the bus so that he could get at the passenger. At that moment I called the police and the police started to take all the details ready to send an emergency vehicle I imagine, but the driver just disappeared. So he was gone.

For breakfast, I tried some of that apple-and-apricot purée that I made yesterday, followed by some of the apple and apricot cordial. And it wasn’t at all bad. I’ll remember this because every now and again they do have tins of fruit in at NOZ where the labels are torn, something like that. And this is a good way to use them up.

Having done that, I had a look at the digital sound files that needed splitting. Another four have disappeared today. Much to my surprise, they were all reasonably straightforward and it’s been a long time since that has happened

Today’s project was to send off a radio project for this weekend and then to do another one to replace it. And by the time that I’d finished I’d chosen all of the music (except the last track), written the notes, dictated them and was half-way through editing them.

yacht ile de chausey english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallNo supermarket today of course, but that didn’t stop me from going out for my three walks today.

having chosen the music, I went out for the bread and for a look to see what was around. There wasn’t anyone walking around but there was plenty of excitement out to sea, like this yacht threading its way through the archipelago that is the Ile de Chausey.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that the number of islands out there varies between 365 and 52 depending on the state of the tides at the time.

cabin cruiser baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france eric hallPlenty of other stuff out there too.

Apart from the fishing boats, there’s a cabin cruiser too floating around in the Baie de Mont St Michel and that wouldn’t have been a sight you would have seen a week or so ago when we were having all of those storms and high winds.

But it does go to show you the liberty that exists on the open sea and it’s making me quite envious. I wish that I had a boat right now.

fishermen peche a pied pointe du roc granville manche normandy france eric hallAnd how are you spending your enforced absence away from work?

These two guys have the right approach. They’ve gone fishing. And I can’t blame them because as the virus starts to bite and more and more people become sick, hunting and gathering might be the only solution so you may as well start early.

What I did like was the size of the bucket in which they were intending to store their catch. I was never one to dampen the spirit of optimism at all.

charles marie chantier navale port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallMy wanderings took me down past the chantier navale to see how they were getting on with .

No change there – she’s still sitting up on her blocks with half of her sides torn out. But there was no-one working on her at all. They’ve probably all been struck down by the Bubonic Plague or the Black Death or whatever it is.

And that fishing boat there at her side – that’s a different one to that which was there on Saturday. We seem to have had a tactical substitution of fishing boats.

new pontoon anchoring mounting points port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallThe harbour gates were open so I couldn’t cross. Instead I continued down the rue du Port.

One thing that I have mentioned in the past is the mechanism by which the floating pontoons are attached to the supports, and I promised that one of these days I would have a closer look.

There seems to be two sets of rollers, an outer set and an inner rollar that ride up abd down depending upon the state of the tide. It’s a very clever arrangement and I hope that it works.

The town was deserted today. I counted no more than a dozen people scurrying around, most of whom were carrying bread. Only the bakeries seemed to be open – after all, people have to eat and bread is an important part of life here in France.

La Mie Caline came up with a dejeunette – at least the boulanger hasn’t succumbed to the plague as yet – and I came back home. I was tempted to go and take my butties and sit on the wall outside, so nice was the weather, but as usual I was sidetracked by something else.

cabin cruiser chantier navale port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallMy afternoon was even quieter. I counted two people out walking and another couple waiting at the bus stop.

My aim was to wander around to the chantier navale because on looking at my photos, I appear to have overlooked that there was actually a third boat in there this morning – and it was still there today.

No idea why it’s in there, and even less of an idea why it isn’t next to the other two, but that’s something else to keep my eye on. Although if I do go to Belgium on Wednesday I’ll miss all of the excitement in here.

Back in the apartment I dozed off for ten minutes or so but I still carried on with things until 19:00 and knocking-off time.

First thing was to deal with the carrots. They were peeled, sliced and diced and then par-boiled with bay leaves and left to drain.

While they were draining I made myself some of my patent stuffing and had stuffed pepper with rice. Tomorrow night I’ll finish off the left-over stuffing and whatever else is lying around in an Anything Curry ready for my departure on Wednesday morning.

This rice pudding will be a problem though. What am I going to do with all of that? A man can only eat so much, no matter how delicious it is.

My walk tonight was even more lonely. I was the only one out there except for a couple of people putting something into a car boot I managed my two runs though. The first one, I put about 20-25 metres onto my usual distance and the second one, I actually made it all the way up a couple of metres onto the second ramp. Yes, I seem to be improving in that respect and that’s good news.

Rosemary rang later on for a chat. She’s feeling the pressure and being so far from home, it’s not easy for her. But there’s not much that she can do about it right now.

So I’ve finished this entry and it’s already late. Yesterday’s entry will have to wait for another time while I go to bed.

But these days, imagine going to bed and wondering if you’ll wake up in the morning. It’s like something out of the Dark Ages, isn’t it?

Friday 13th March 2020 – LOOK AT THIS …

seagull dropping shellfish on stone ramp port de granville harbout manche normandy france eric hall… seagull!

“So what’s exciting about a seagull?” I hear you ask. After all, there must be thousands of them loitering around here one way or another.

The answer is that it’s not necessarily the bird, but have a close look underneath it and you’ll see something dropping from it.

No, it’s not that, although it may well be, given the number of gulls around here. The bird has a shellfish and it’s flying over the concrete apron by the fish processing plant and the stone boat ramp, and it’s dropping the shellfish onto the hard surface in order to break the shell and eat the contents.

It’s had a few goes at it already and I imagine that it’ll keep on doing it until the shell breaks. But it’s just amazing to me how quickly the local wildlife adapts to the man-made environment. It’s much more convenient than dropping the shellfish on the rocks.

Just for a change these days, I beat the third alarm to my feet this morning. Not by much, but beat it I did and that was good news. Especially as it was gone 00:30 when I went to bed and so I’d had less than 6 hours sleep.

Following the medication and my nice new orange and ginger cordial, it was time to attack the dictaphone. There was a group of us doing something and it involved being out on a boat. The boat came to grief in some way or other – I can’t remember how – but the guy in charge said that it was due to our own fault, that we hadn’t taken any safety precautions like sending out a boat first to check on the crossing and check on the bit that we were having to cross over before we all leapt on board and sailed off. There would have been more to this as well but I actually had a shocking attack of cramp in my leg and awoke with a hell of a start.

After breakfast I attacked the digital sound-file splitting. Three of them went fine, according to plan, but the fourth – well …

It’s a very rare album so I doubt that I’ll get to find to what the master copy that I have relates. It doesn’t match anything at all that I have found so far. I’ve untangled it as best as I can and I’ll have to see about the rest.

But for some unknown reason, that knocked me right out of my stride and I just couldn’t get going at all today. As far as anything else goes, it’s been a very wasted day today and I’m rather disappointed with myself.

Mind you, I suppose that I have every reason to be disappointed. I’ve had some very disheartening news.

Not that I have said very much to very many people but I actually managed to find a freighter that would take me across the Atlantic from Ijmuiden in the Netherlands to Burns Harbor, one of the outports of Chicago, all the way down the St Lawrence and right through the Great Lakes, at the end of July.

It’s a trip that the ship does every month, so I had booked a passage on it as a way of getting to North America this autumn, and as it happens, on the return journey it refuels in Montreal so I’d made arrangements to be picked up in Montreal at the end of October to sail back to Europe.

But the long and the short of it is that I had a mail today telling me that the journey is cancelled. No surprise there – just a desperate disappointment. I was so looking forward to this.

chausiais fishing boats english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallOn that sad note, I went outside for my morning walk to pick up my dejeunette from La Mie Caline.

There were a few people out there enjoying the pleasant, if windy morning. And there was also quite a considerable amount of shipping out there today. It wasn’t easy to identify them from up here so I took a speculative photo.

When I get back home I can blow up the image and have a look to see who’s out there.

la grande ancre english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallAt first glance, I had thought that one of the boats out there resembled La Grande Ancre.

But that’s not the case. It must be a fishing boat with a similar sikhouette. And how do I know that? Well, because right at that moment La Grande Ancre came sailing … “dieseling” – ed … around the headland on her way out to sea.

Right on cue, I reckon. She couldn’t have timed it any better.

But I do like this photo. Despite the distance at which it was taken, it’s come out rather well and I’m pleased with that.

yacht pointe du roc english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallThey weren’t the only boats out there either.

Close on the heels of La Grande Ancre came this really nice yacht enjoying the windy weather and having a good run out in the sun.

And how I envied him. My own little nautical jaunt having been cancelled, I need to find some other way to take to the water this year, and I’ve no idea how I’m going to do that.

But then, there’s always a plan somewhere

chausiais english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallAnd talking of the answer, here’s the answer – or, at least, part of the answer – to the question of which boats were out there in mid-Channel just now.

Out of the doom and gloom and mist and fog and haze comes Chausiais, heading into port. It looks very much as if she’s been out on the earlu morning tide to take a delivery to the Ile de Chausey and is now on her way home before the tide goes too far out.

It’s not very often that we are lucky enough to see her out at sea. She doesn’t seem to go out very much but I imagine that all of thzt will change pretty soon

la granvillaise port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallThe tide is out at the moment and the harbour gates are shut. That means that I can take the short cut across the path on top of the gates.

Over the last few days we’ve seen La Granvillaise up on blocks in the chantier navale but she was released the other day. She’s now here in the harbour, moored up in the space next to Spirit of Conrad in the space where Charles-Marie would be, were she not up on blocks in the chantier navale.

This harbour is going to become very congested in due course, with all of the pontoons that they are installing.

floating pontoon support pillar port de granville harbour  manche normandy france eric hallAnd talking of the installation of the pontoons, regular readers of this rubbish will recall that yesterday they started installing the second row of pontoon support pillars in the harbour.

This batch is going to be on the south side of the floating harbour, so one of the things that I wanted to do was to see how they are getting on with it.

The answer is that they don’t seem to have made all that much progress over the course of the morning. There’s still just the one pillar in position and there doesn’t seem to be anyone about doing anythign with anything else.

floating pontoon support pillar port de granville harbour  manche normandy france eric hallAnd with there being no-one about, I took the opportunity to have a peek in their compound to see how many more pillars there are to install. I mean – I imagine that all of those here are here to be used.

And what we have left are three large pillars, a smaller one that looks like it’s off the floating pontoon and is calibrated in some way, presumably for depth, and an offcut of about 10 or 12 feet.

What they are going to be doing with the offcut is a mystery that has drawn my attention for now. But basically, it looks as if we are going to be having one row of five pillars and another row of four, although in truth I’ve long-since given up trying to calculate the logic behind what these people are doing.

They were expecting me in La Mie Caline so I didn’t hang around long, and there was nothing to detain me on my climb back home.

After lunch, I had another attack at the sound files that we had recorded during our visit to the Grande Marée but my heart wasn’t in it and I found myself falling asleep – not once but twice – and in the same place in the recording both times too. I really must pull myself together.

low tide baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france eric hallTo break up the monotony and try to find some enthusiasm and motivation from somewhere, I went for my afternoon walk.

There were crowds of people out there on the lawn by the lighthouse enjoying the view but my attention was elsewhere because the tide was quite out and the bay was pretty deserted. Hardly a drop of water anywhere.

Of course, this merits a photo. It doesn’t get like this every day. Probably half a dozen times each year the tide goes this low.

charles marie chantier navale port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallRoud by the chantier navale, I went to see what was happening down there.

Charles-Marie is still there and the guy working on it is still there on the skyjack hacking a few more lumps out of the side of her.

It looks as if it’s going to be a long job and she’ll be there for a while. But she’ll be a whole different ship when she comes out and I can’t wait for the moment when I’ll be able to have a close-up view of her – whenever that might be.

But I’m not holding my breath.

taking photographs boulevard vaufleury granville manche normandy france eric hallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall having seen on many occasions photos of people taking photos and, on one or two occasions, photos of people taking photos of people taking photos.

Today, on the grassy lawn on the boulevard Vaufleury, overlooked by our old friend the Corsair Pleville le Pelley, is another group of people having their photo taken by someone armed with a tripod.

It would probably be a good idea for me to make more use of mine every now and again, if only the wind would subside.

Back here, I ordered a new memory card for the big NIKON D500. As well as taking SD cards, it also takes XQD cards in a different slot.

These are expensive but are much better quality so I’ve ordered one and it should be here in a couple of days. Then I can see whether it’s the SD card aperture that’s faulty or whether it’s something more crucial.

But I was still unable to find the motivation that I needed to do this project and rather than waste the day completely I edited a pile of photos from July 2019 when I was on my way to Iceland on board the The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour.

Tea was another “anything curry” with the leftovers lengthened with some lentils. It was quite delicious too. Apple pie and vegan ice cream for afters, and I remembered the chocolate sauce too.

No-one about for the evening run tonight. I managed three lengths too, having to lengthen my walk due to not having done enough on the morning walk. And I wasn’t as out of breath as I might have been either

No photos either. I was being rather optimistic with my ambitions, and they didn’t work out well enough. But you live and learn.

Anyway, bed-time. And i’m hoping for a good sleep tonight. A nice long voyage too, in pleasant company. I need cheering up and I always seem to have much more fun and excitement in my life during the night than ever I do during the day.

Wednesday 27th November 2019 – WHAT A WASTE …

… of a morning this was!

Although the night wasn’t as late as many nights have been just recently, I still had a few problems this morning.

I heard the 06:00 alarm go off sure enough and I’m not sure what happened next but when I heard the next alarm go off I thought that I’ll give it a couple of minutes and then get up before the third alarm, like I usually do.

After a few minutes I had a quick glance at the time before I arose. 06:25 it was. So for some unknown reason I had completely missed the second alarm.

At that point I decided that seeing as I had already missed my target time, another couple of minutes wouldn’t hurt any.

The next thing that I remembered was that it was 08:47 and I’d been right away with the fairies.

As indeed I had been. And not on my own either for there were three of us again and we were having something to do with the animals. We were looking after the animals in a kind of laboratory place and a couple of guys came past and were talking to us so we were talking back to them. But for some unknown reason the conversation took off into a kind of 1950s type of scene with all pork-pie hats and that kind of thing. I was speaking to them not as I would today but going back 50 years and everyone was wondering why. They didn’t understand the language for a start so I explained that this was how English would have been 50 years ago in the days of the Teddy Boys, all this sort of thing (of course the Teddy Boys were earlier than that) but this was when the period was, back in the teddy Boy days and they found it difficult to understand. From here it kind of drifted off into a wartime scenario and I can’t remember very much about this second bit where it was during the war.

By the time that my feet were on the floor it was almost 09:30 and I decided to forego breakfast again. Just have a coffee and some juice and then crack on with work. There’s an open-air fruit market on a Wednesday morning as I discovered when I was on one of my marathon walks just recently. I’d planned to go out there for a butcher’s but it won’t be today.

The first thing to attack, as far as work goes, was the dictaphone notes. And a mega-one of 12 minutes at that. All in all, from the night of 20th-21st September this year there were over 20 minutes of dictaphone notes and many of them are quite disturbing.

But the 21st was the morning that I set off from Montreal to ottawa so it was bound to be an extremely turbulent night. And had I listened to what had been going on during the night before I set off, I probably wouldn’t have gone.

But I didn’t, so I did, and that was an end to it. But I’ll be thinking long and hard before I put any of the night’s activities into print in the public domain. They will join the others that have yet to see the light of day until I have had an opportunity to consult m’learned friends.

The plan was to work on until about 11:00 and then go into town for a dejeunette (I’ve decided that I’ll do that every day from now on) and the Post Office to post the letters that I didn’t post yesterday.

But when I did glance at the time, it was just coming up to 12:00. This late start killed me off and it was far too late to go to the Post Office. I carried on with work instead.

low tide port de granville harbour manche normandy franceRound about 13:00 I broke off and headed down the steps into town. The tide was out, miles out in fact, and all of the boats in the harbour were high and dry.

With the tide being out, the harbour gates would be closed so I headed off round the back of the fish-processing plant and onto the path across the top of the gates and went into town that way.

Striding along as if I were on my way to invade Poland, I was feeling so good that at a certain moment I even broke into a little run. And that’s not been anything that has been seen this side of this Century – me running for no good purpose in broad daylight.

ski slope place general de gaulle granville manche normandy franceArmed with my dejeunette, I went to inspect the edifice in the Place General de Gaulle.

And I now know what it is, because there was an article about it in the local paper. It seems that Granville has pretentions about being a winter ski resort (don’t ask me how or why because I don’t have a clue either) and they are building an artificial ski-slope.

All that I can say is that the mayor and her cohorts are going downhill fast.

After lunch I carried on with the dictaphone notes. There were some mega-ones in there as you might expect, what with everything that was going on and how I was feeling, but I was determined to break the back of the issue today.

By the time that I knocked off for my afternoon walk, I had reduced the backlog to a mere 69. There are only a handful of really long ones in there, one of which is … errr … over four hours (and that can’t be right) so with a bit of luck I can crack on and whittle them down.

And then I can start on the photos.

storm at sea english channel granville manche normandy franceWhen I had gone out earlier in the day it had been quite windy. But now the wind was simply wicked.

The tide was out so I can’t show you just how wild the seas were, but you can have an idea simply by looking at the whitecaps in this photo.

They would have made rather a mess of the sea wall at the harbour or at the Plat Gousset.

casino beach plat gousset granville manche normandy franceTalking of the Plat Gousset … “well, one of us is” – ed … I stopped to have a look down there and to see what was going on.

Just one solitary soul out there on the beach and no more than half a dozen on the promenade itself. And that’s hardly surprising because it really was a dreadful wind.

In fact, we’ve had nothing but gale-force winds since I’ve been back from North America and I don’t know about anyone else but I’m getting rather fed up of this.

It’s a good job that my apartment is a really solid building. If I had owned a paper shop, it would have blown away a long time ago.

black cat granville manche normandy franceMy route into town took me down the steps to the Place Marechal Foch, but I didn’t get very far at all.

My trip was interrupted by a young black cat that was wandering around in the undergrowth so I stopped and had a little chat with it. They say that stroking a cat is a very good way of relieving stress, and who can argue with that?

The moggy and I were there for a good few minutes until I moved on.

road works place marechal foch granville manche normandy franceNot too far as it happened, because down below me the Plce was cordoned off and there was a pile of machinery down there digging up the road surface.

There were a few guys down there too who looked as if they had something to do with it all so I went down the steps to ask them about it.

But they must have seen me coming because they took off and by the time that I reached their van, they had long-since departed and that was that.

road works place marechal foch granville manche normandy franceI had to content myself with a really good examination of thr work to see what I could see.

Definitely electric trunking and the trace cable for pulling through was there. So I was wondering if this is a bit more of the fibre-optic cabling that’s been going on here for as long as I can remember.

What I’ll do is to come this way tomorrow on my way to the shops and see if the guys are there then, and I can ask them

Down at the Post Office I posted my letters and then I came back here. And with a coffee and a slice of Liz’s cake, I really hit the jackpot.

And big-time too.

A quest that I have been undertaking for almost 43 years has deamatically come to a conclusion.

Let’s turn our clocks back to 22nd january 1977. I was living in Crewe, sharing a flat in Nantwich Road with Allen Marsden. And on the radio came a “Sight and Sound” concert of Santana.

It was the most amazing, most phenomenal live concert that I have ever heard either before or since and, grabbing a tape, I recorded it. I’ve played the tape to death and it’s all worn away now, and over the last 40-odd years I’ve been trying to track down when and where it was recorded. I’ve even been to the BBC to ask them, and they were no help.

But idly surfing the internet looking for something else I suddenly found a Santana live concert from the Hammersmith Odeon on 15th December 1976 and I only had to listen to the first three notes to know that this was exactly the concert for which I had been seeking.

It really is superb! Just listen to “Soul Sacrifice” from about 44:00 onwards.

So listening to Santana on an endless loop I attacked the web page updating. And by the time that I had knocked off for tea, another 30 had bit the dust.

All in all, I call that I good day’s work!

Tea was a burger on a bap, followed by pineapples and blackcurrant sorbet.

brehal plage granville manche normandy franceAnd then the evening walk around the headland.

Despite the high winds yet again, the sky was beautifully clear again and once more there was a beautiful view up the coast. The lights of Bréhal-Plage came out perfectly in this picture, taken with the camera being hand-held.

Of course I could have done a lot better with the tripod, but in this wind? You must be joking!

spirit of conrad omerta aztec lady chantier navale port de granville harbour  manche normandy franceOnwards or upwards then, and round the headland and along the top of the cliffs overlooking the port.

Nothing much has changed in the chantier navale. Spirit of Conrad, Omerta and Aztec Lady are still in there on their blocks, and there’s badger all else for the moment.

So I carried on and broke into a run at my usual spot, much to the amusement of a passer-by and his dog. And tonight I made it all the way over the rise and down the bank as far as the pedestrian crossing.

That’s the farthest that I’ve been

So now it’s bedtime and I’m hoping for a better day tomorrow, with a nice long walk up to LIDL. That should be interesting. I forgot to see what the sale goods are.

Thursday 17th October 2019 – WHEN I WAS LOOKING …

… at my flight and trying to reserve a seat, I remember looking at the rows and rows of seats available and thinking to myself “this must be a flaming big ‘plane with all this room on it”

And much to my surprise, when i was walking down the ramp I noticed on the side of our aeroplane “Boeing 787 Dreamliner”. Boeing’s new flagship aeroplane, and we’ve only flown on one of these before, FROM CHARLES DE GAULLE TO MONTREAL IN AUGUST 2014. My luck seems to be in, for once.

The cabin crew were super-efficient. Although we had had a long wait, we were ushered in, seated and we were off taxiing down the runway in a matter of just a couple of minutes. Quickest loading and departure I’ve ever had.

Just two of us on a row of seats meant for three. My companion was a Francophone Canadian woman in her 40s I reckon, very friendly and with a good sense of humour. We got on quite well although she was a “mobile” passenger, needing to get up and move about on regular occasions, usually just after I had dozed off to sleep.

Mind you, there wasn’t much opportunity for sleep. That was a flight that I will remember for quite a while. I don’t think that I have ever encountered such astonishing turbulence over such a length of time. We were being tossed around like corks and at one time I think even I was praying to Mecca (it’s the first flight that I’ve ever been on where Mecca was shown as a destination on the flight direction screen). My poor travelling companion felt the worst of it too.

Vegan meals on offer too and that was quite pleasant. I’m rather wary of some flights – I’ve had far too many failures in the past. But my ratatouille and rice was quite acceptable. I turned down the coffee though. I’m having enough sleep issues as it is.

I suppose that I must have dozed off here and there because I was awoken by the arrival of breakfast. Bread and jam (with coffee and orange juice) and that filled a nice little hole.

Eventually we touched down – in Casablanca, Morocco!

And I bet that you are all wondering just WHAT I’m doing in North Africa!

The fact is that with having left my booking for the return flight rather late, the “direct” prices are just totally absurd. And with it being merely a “one-way” booking, there’s an opportunity to look around all different companies and sites to see who has the best deal on connections on scheduled flights. There was a whole batch of them too at prices that, while not exactly a bargain, were much less expensive than the direct price. And it’s not as if I’m in any particular hurry.

And so I had a good look around to see whether there was a connection proposed at anywhere exotic or anywhere where I had never been before.

Sure enough, Casablanca looked a good choice to me, so here I am.

We had to pass through Security, and then a four-hour wait. But that time passes quite quickly, especially when you are tired and close your eyes for … errr .. a short while. But close them I did.

Our plane back to Brussels wasn’t particularly full so we could spread out at the back. I had rice and veg for lunch too and that was delicious.

The flight was uneventful and we touched down in Brussels bang on time. And all in all, I’ll fly with Royal Air Maroc any day of the week. I’d had good service all the way from Montreal.

The joys of flying in on a scheduled flight from North Africa is that I was the only passenger in the “European Union” queue so I was straight through. I had a fight with the railway ticket machine and then collected my suitcase. Just as I set foot on the platform a train for Brussels pulled in so I piled on board and headed for the city.

For a change, I’m in a new hotel. I’ve never stayed here before but my regular one is booked up. This one is clean and modern, but cheap with no lift (so the receptionist had to carry my suitcase upstairs – all 19.7 kilos of it). I’ve stayed in many worse hotels than this, and for much more money too, although the internet is rubbish. And the huge damp patch on the wall behind the shower is rather worrying.

Back to the Delhaize at the station for a salad and now I’m ready for bed. Hospital tomorrow. I wonder what they are going to tell me.

Wednesday 16th October 2019 – SO HERE I ALL AM …

… not exactly sitting in a rainbow but sitting in one of the departure lounges of the worst airport in the world, with the rudest staff I have ever met. I hate this place with a passion that cannot be measured on any scale that is known to Mankind but here I am. I’ve decided that it’s time that I was moving on before I put down roots.

And roots indeed. The last time that I slept in my own bed was on 26th June – that’s 16 weeks or so ago and while I’m not going home just yet I ought to be getting a little closer to it.

A lot of water has passed underneath the bridge since 26th June, that’s for sure.

Talking of passing water, I had another bad night last night. A whole succession of cramps in the calves and shins and it kept me awake for an eternity. I took advantage of the wakefulness by going down the corridor, but I would much rather have had a decent sleep instead.

I suppose that I must have dropped off at one point though. Or maybe more because there are several recordings on the dictaphone that I don’t remember making. Anyway, at about 07:15 I was wide-enough awake to push on with things.

No breakfast though. I repacked the suitcase and bunged another pile of stuff into it (and it registered 19.7 kilos at the airport’s weigh-in machine so I’m clearly getting back to normal) so that the backpack is at least manageable.

At 10:30 I set off for a walk, leaving my baggage behind for a moment. All the way up to the top of the town where I met Josee. I had done a little research in the area and discovered a little Lebanese restaurant in the basement of the shopping precinct so I took her there for a meal. And it turned out that she was well-known to the proprietor.

Later on, I had a leisurely stroll around the town and visited a few buildings that I had seen on my travels in the past. The big one near rue Sherbrooke that I had seen on several occasions is in fact the former hostel for the Deaf and Dumb of the city.

Eventually I rescued my suitcase and by 17:00 I was on the 747 bus to the airport. And it was then that I realised that I had left behind my raincoat and my aniseed balls. The objects and items that I have abandoned behind me on my travels could have filled another suitcase.

It was a good idea to go early to the airport because the traffic was horrendous. It’s a working day of course so we had the rush hour to deal with and there were queues everywhere. Our bus even lost a mirror against a lamp-post trying to squeeze past a queue of traffic turning right.

The departure check-in wasn’t open yet so I had a sandwich at Subway and then handed back my card for the USA. I won’t be going there for another while unless something quite dramatic happens.

Security is always extremely stressful here so I don’t propose to talk too much about it, even though I’ve had much worse passes through airport control than this. Now I’m sitting quietly waiting for my flight to be called.

But before I go, let’s talk about music. For no reason at all a track suddenly popped into my head out of nowhere. It’s Green Day’s Boulevard of Broken Dreams and regardless of how apposite the lyrics might be vis-a-vis my own personal circumstances and how I have lived my life, then just as Colosseum Live reminds me of almost every late and lonely night that I have ever spent on board The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour, this particular track reminds me of just one particular night that was later than most and which I didn’t ever want to end.

I wonder if it means anything to anyone else.

That brings me round to the music that I am listening to now. Tom Petty has come round on the playlist and I have Into The Great Wide Open going full-blast.

Not a good idea right now of course. Far From it, in fact.
I heard you singing to no one
I saw you dancing all alone
One day you belonged to me
Next day I just wouldn’t know
One day all the rules will bend
And you and I will meet again

“One day all the rules will bend and you and I will meet again”. Nothing is more certain than that. You just have to believe.

“How could I get so close to you, and still feel so far away?”

Quite!