Tag Archives: nantwich grammar school

Wednesday 21st July 2021 – YOU CAN TELL …

zodiac speedboat baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall… just what kind of day it4s been today? just by looking at a few photos that i took.

While I was out at the Pointe du Roc this afternoon there was the infernal racket once more as a rather large zodiac went roaring past, fully-loaded with passengers.

At least they were all wearing lifejackets, so it seemed, and that’s good news because it’s not every boat that sets out with its passengers properly equipped.

And as to where they are going or where they have come from, I’ve no idea. But wherever is their destination, they are cracking on as if they have le feux dans les fesses as they say around here, and are scorching past that speedboat, which is nothing like as speedy as the zodiac.

trawler l'alize 3 galapagos yacht rebelle chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallMeanwhile, while we are on the subject, it seemed that I arrived at the chantier naval at just about the right time this afternoon.

What with everything going on out at sea, it’s no surprise to see that one of the trawlers that was in there also has itchy feet.

You’ll notice that while there is still the yacht Rebelle, we only have two trawlers, L’Alize 3 and the new one whose name I have yet to discover, up there on blocks.

So where has Galapagos, the other trawler that was up on blocks, gone? Have a look very carefully at the portable boat lift. Can you see it in the cradle being lowered into the water in the harbour?

This morning I couldn’t see anything at all. Never mind STARRY-EYED AND LAUGHING I was bleary-eyed and coughing as I crawled from my stinking pit as the alarm went off at 08:00.

After the pile of meds that I’m obliged to take these days, I had a listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been on my travels during the night. We were out last night again with the family, some of us, and I was with a girl and I can’t remember who she was again. She went off for a little stroll round where we were standing and fell in with someone who was quite a famous singer. He gave her a great big kiss so she was talking to him and sitting on a seat, though my wife didn’t mind. When they were sitting on these seats there was an odd number and someone was being left out. In the end they came back to my place, a caravan or something, and went over to where my niece, her husband and a few others were standing, grabbed hold of my niece and took her over there instead (… I fell asleep here …) anyway these guys and other people came over after us after we had gone back and I wasn’t quite sure why but they ended up picking up my niece she and the person who was her daughter and one or two other people and these two famous stars all set off and wandered off.

Another thing as well was that I was with my and my mother somewhere in a big apartment but it was a cluttered place and you couldn’t get much furniture against the walls and I was going to be moving here so I had to work out which of my stuff I was going to throw away. But I was asleep standing up against the window and you don’t really want to know the rest because you are probably eating your tea right now. And it’s been a while since one of my nocturnal rambles has finished in a mass of blood and gore and stuff like that, although with my family involved, it’s more than likely.

Later on I had a ticket for the Cup Final and Liverpool were playing a lesser team. It was quite an ordinary stadium, not Wembley. I walked towards the stadium and then turned back and sat down at a seat. Terry said “aren’t you going in?” “In a minute” I replied and then I headed off in. I wanted to squeeze my way into the stands behind the goal but it was empty – just 2 or 3 people. I went to take a place right at the top but the fascia board of the stand roof obscured the view so I had to come a few rows down. Some one asked “are Liverpool the ones in red?”. I replied “quite likely” – then I drew the guy’s attention to the fact that the other team weren’t wearing a proper kit but all kinds of multicoloured buttoned shirts, all different.

It’s not really surprising, is it, that sometimes I awaken more tired than I was when I went off to sleep.

So having printed out … gulp … 29 pages of notes for today’s class, I made my hot chocolate and grabbed some fruit bread and attacked the lesson.

We whacked our way through the whole pile of stuff by the time we finished, bleary-eyed yet again. We are going at a frantic pace and it’s no surprise that one of our number seems to have fallen by the wayside.

One of our number comes from Nantwich, he daughter went to my Grammar School and she knows everywhere that I know. She’s a big rock fan too so I sent her a link to my radio shows (shameless self-publicist that I am) and a copy of the “Strife” concert that I featured as my live concert at the end of February.

There really wasn’t much time for anything else – it was walkies time, rather later than usual of course this week.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallNo matter how late I am, I always have to go for a look over the wall at the end of the car park down onto the beach below to see what’s happening there.

So off I toddled across the car park to look down on the beach and today, there was even less beach to look at than there was yesterday.

Plenty of people as well, some stretched out in the sun, others drying off and the rest splashing around in the sea like a bunch of demented dolphins.

A few kids today too – not many but certainly more than yesterday. And that beats me why there aren’t any more of them in weather like this in midsummer during a school holiday.

yacht baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallMeanwhile, as is my custom, while one pf my eyes was roving around the beach, the other one was roving out to sea to see what was going on there.

And we have another yacht today. I say “another” because I’m pretty certain that it isn’t the same one that we saw yesterday. It’s smaller for a start, and there seems to be only one man visible aboard her.

And although it looks as if she’s stationary, she is in fact moving slowly and she followed me all the way arund the headland.

And that reminds me of the man who went into the newsagency and asked the woman behind the counter if she kept stationery.
“Only until the last 10 seconds” she replied “and then I go berserk”.

Or as my doctor friend once told me about a young girl whom he was examining – “are you sexually active?” he asked her discreetly when her mother was out of earshot.
“No” she replied. “I just like there”.

la granvillaise baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that we saw this boat out here in the Baie de Granville yesterday.

Today, there is no doubt as to her identity. If you look very closely, you’ll see that she has her “old” registration number painted in black at the top of one of the sails as you will see if you look closely.

“G90” – so there is no doubt at all that she is in fact La Granvillaise as I thought yesterday. And she’s out again presumably doing a carbon-copy of yesterday’s trip around and about

And as you might expect, there’s another perishing speedboat roaring past her as she leisurely cruises around out at sea.

trawler baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallMeanwhile, while everyone seems to be out in the sea playing around, some other people are still having to work.

As I looked farther out to sea I could see something moving around out there and sure enough, it was indeed a local trawler setting out for the fishing grounds.

By the time that I’d spotted it, it was already way out to sea, sailing past the outlers to the north-east of the Ile de Chausey and going at quite a rate of knots.

From my spec, I cleared off across the car park to the end of the Pointe du Roc to see what was happening there.

And with nothing going on there of any more importance than we have already seen either, I headed off down the path.

charles marie entering port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut hang on a minute! I hadn’t gone very far before I had to stop to take another photograph.

Into the port comes a boat whom we haven’t seen for quite a while. I wasn’t quick enough to photograph it before it began to disappear from my view, but I reckon that even without seeing her name, she’s Charles Marie – another one of the boats that plies for hire in the harbour.

It’s been a while since we’ve seen her. She must have a full summer season booked up and is keeping herself really busy even despite Covid.

And I’m glad that someone is for it’s rather grim for some of the others, such as the Jersey ferry boats Granville and Victor Hugo.

coelacanthe leaving port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd as I watechd Charles Marie disappear out of my sight, something else came the other way. Instead of entering the harbour she was leaving it.

It’s only when Tiberiade and Coelacanthe are side by side that I can tell them apart. But cleverly enlarging the photo when I returned to the apartment later, I could see that the trawler that we have here is Coelacanthe.

She’s heading out for the fishing grounds too, I reckon, and is also in quite a hurry for she’s not hanging around. And also in this image – and the previous one too – is the yellow and white fishing boat who was in the chantier navale for a while and whose name I have forgotten yet again.

yacht school baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallA little further on around the path, we’re back in playtime again.

It looks as if it’s full sail ahead for the yachting schools today. There seem to be a couple of different ones and you can tell them apart by the colours of the sails of their boats.

They are all out there in the bay this afternoon making the most of things and I’m quite jealous. Had I not had this little problem a couple of months ago, who knows? I might even have been out there with them I’m determined to have a go at sailing one of these days and pick up another certificate to add to my collection.

goods on quayside port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallFrom here I can see down into the inner harbour and the loading bay where the little freighters load up.

It’s no surprise to see that Thora who we saw yesterday has gone out of harbour. The turnround of these boats is so quick these days.

Yet there’s another pile of stuff on the quayside. Either it’s stuff that Thora brought in with her or else one of the Jersey freighters will be coming back soon and it’s a load for her.

But one thing that is annoying me is that we haven’t seen a gravel boat here for ages. There’s a special kind of gravel found near Avranches and there’s a big ready-mix concrete and roadstone plant near Sittingbourne.

We used to have big 2,500 tonne bulk carriers in here every few months taking gravel to Sittingbourne but with Brexit and the collapse of the British construction industry, we haven’t seen one in ages.

trawler galapagos leaving chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut here’s something that we saw earlier this afternoon.

The trawler Galapagos was leaving the chantier naval earlier and was being lowered down into the water by the portable boat lift.

Now, she’s back in the water and giving her engines a little trial before presumably heading off into the wild blue yonder.

So what’s all this about “no fresh fish being sold until” …. whenever it was … then? She’s back in the water a long time before she’s due to start selling her produce, so has this overhaul been quicker than expected, or ar the crew all now going to be going off on holiday?

As for me, I’m going off back home because it’s late and I have things to do. And by the time that I had finished I’d missed my bass guitar practice. The acoustic practice I’d done at lunchtime.

Tea tonight was pasta and burger followed by more of my delicious apple turnover.

And now I’m off to bed. All fighting fit and ready for my Welsh lesson tomorrow. I don’t think.

Tuesday 4th February 2020 – I DIDN’T QUITE …

digging cable trench rue du port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hall… get that one right yesterday.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall the mini-digger that was operating with a hydraulic concrete breaker yesterday and I speculated that it was excavating some more old railway lines.

In fact that wasn’t what it was doing at all. I went over there this morning on my way to La Mie Caline for my dejeunette to see what it had been doing, and it seems that it had been digging out a trench for some kind of cabling.

So now we know.

This morning, just for once, I was actually up and out of bed before the third alarm went off – despite the fact that I didn’t go to bed until about 01:30.

And after the medication I spent a very pleasant hour or so cutting up a couple of digital tracks into their component parts. You might think that this project is advancing nicely but the fact is that it isn’t. Having disposed of two digital tracks, I came across another three that I needed that somehow I had missed before.

So instead of getting shorter the list is getting longer.

Today’s task was to do a radio project, and by the time that I knocked off I was about half-way through one of them. But in fact I’d actually done two others – at least, selected the music (except the final track) and edited the tracks together in their running order.

What had happened was that while trying to choose the music for the first one, I kept on coming across some tracks that made really good opening tracks for the projects. And so not to lose them I had a play with those too.

Eventually the first one wad done but there was sufficient music for half of the second, so I finished that and I’m no into the third.

The final track is always the last to be done because with having just exactly one hour to play with, I need to know how long the other tracks are and how long the speech is, and then the final track takes up the time that is left, whether it’s one minute or eleven minutes.

new pontoon rue du port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallThere were several breaks in the working cycle today.

The first was, of course, to go down to pick up the bread for lunch. I went to see how they were getting on with the car park in the rue du Port that they are kitting out, and was surprised to see these objects that have appeared here over the last day or so.

They certainly weren’t here the last time that I looked, and it aroused my interest. I went off to make further enquiries.

new pontoon rue du port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallBut not before my reverie was interrupted by the arrival of an articulated lorry and trailer.

He had another pile of metal or aluminium objects on his trailer and as I watched, they attached some chains to them and began to lift them off with the digger.

It wasn’t long before a workman came walking my way (obviously uses the talcum powder) around the edge of the harbour so I fell in with him.

He told me that they are installing a pontoon down that side of the harbour for more boats to tie up to. And that explains what those guys were doing a while back taking test-drilling samples out of the bottom of the harbour. The question of “pontoons” was raised then, as I’m sure that regular readers of this rubbish will recall.

kids roundabout place Général de Gaulle granville manche normandy france eric hallhaving picked up my bread, I went to see what was going on in the Place General de Gaulle.

It looks very much as if they are starting the serious preparations for Carnaval. I’ve no idea what that tractor and so on were doing yesterday, but now we have a lorry here unloading a kiddies’ roundabout thing.

From there I went for another long wander around on the way home in order to clock up the miles but there wasn’t really much of any interest, apart from the usual of course.

broken window college malraaux place d'armes granville manche normandy france eric hallThere was also the break for lunch, evidently, and also a break for our afternoon walk around the headland.

And I hadn’t gone far when I noticed the window in one of the classrooms in the College Malraux across the Place from here. Whether it’s the high winds that have caused that I really don’t know, but had that been something at my old school I would have put it down to Jack Clifford hurling a blackboard duster at me during a German class.

He was single-handedly responsible for giving me this mental block that I have about being able to absorb anything in the German language. I love languages but he destroyed any kind of enthusiasm that I had.

storms high winds port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallDespite the lovely sunshine that we were having today, there were more gale-force winds to contend with too.

You can see that in this photo and in the next one too. The tide is still a good way from its highest point but the waves are still coming crashing in with an incredible force.

Of course, there’s nothing between that sea wall there and the North American coast when the wind and tides are in the correct alignment and so a storm just about anywhere could be causing this.

storms high winds port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallAs there was nothing happening right at that moment, I loitered for a couple of minutes and was rewarded when this huge roller came roaring in from out in the Atlantic somewhere.

It’s a long time since I’ve seen something as impressive as this.

And seeing as I wasn’t far off my fitness total I went for an extended walk and I’m glad I did because I had a little bit of luck, and regular readers of this rubbish will recall that it’s been a long time since I’ve had any.

But I’ll tell you more about this in a few weeks time.

For a change, I manage to avoid crashing out (but only just) and Rosemary rang up for a good, lengthy chat too. We had a lot to talk about as well.

For tea I had the remains of the stuffing from yesterday and added a tin of kidney beans, and made taco rolls with spicy rice, followed by rice pudding.

There’s still some stuffing left, which now has kidney beans in it, bit I’ll add the rest of the mushrooms and make an everything curry for tea tomorrow night.

fibre optic cable laying place cambernon granville manche normandy france eric hallDespite the wind I managed to go out for a walk, and two runs as well, and now I’m up to 105% of my daily activity which is good news as far as I am concerned.

But there was a no-waiting sign in the Place Cambernon so I went to have a good look to see what was happening. And it’s more good news as far as I can see because it seems that they will be digging up the street to install the fibre-optic cable.

It might be a good idea tomorrow for me to call in at my internet suppliers and see what the plan is about connecting us up. It will be great if it all works.

By rights I should be going for an early night but there’s some good music on the playlist right now.

Nothing like music for soothing the savage beast, is there?

I WANT TO …

… tell you all a little story. And it’s really down to the insistence of one of the regular readers of this rubbish.

It’s something that I wrote to myself late one night about a week or so before my final voyage across the Atlantic Ocean came to an end.
—-

Wind the clock back to 1969/70 when I was studying Latin … “well, puer amat mensam” – ed … at Grammar School and having to translate – either from the English to the Latin or vice versa (and if there’s any vice involved, you can bet your life that I’m in there somewhere!) – a Roman myth or legend.

For reasons that I no longer remember, I chose the story of Castor and Pollux, and I can recall the story quite clearly even to this day.

Leaving aside all other kinds of myths and legends concerning Castor and Pollux that people might think are quite apposite, and other names by which they might have been known, which may be even more apposite to some, I’m referring to the fact that one of them (Castor) was a mortal being and his twin Pollux was the creation of the Gods, fathered by Zeus who having disguised himself as a swan, came down to earth and seduced Leda, wife of Tyndareus King of the Spartans and who were the mortal parents of Castor.

Therefore Castor and Pollux were in fact half-brothers.

Cutting a long story short … “for which we are all grateful” – ed … and missing out quite a few very relevant thoughts, including the phenomenon of St Elmo’s Fire (canwyll yr ysbryd or “candles of the spirit” as it is known in Welsh) and which has more of a bearing on this story than anyone might imagine, Castor the mortal died, and Pollux, the immortal, was heart-broken.

Pollux pleaded with the Gods and eventually Zeus changed things around so that half of the immortality of Pollux was given to Castor.

This meant that they took it in turns to be immortal, so that whoever was the mortal on any particular day was in Hades and whoever was immortal on that day was on Mount Olympus, and they changed over on a regular basis.

To whichever bank of the River Styx Charon the boatman had taken you, whether to Hades or Mount Olympus, you would only ever see the one and not the other until they alternated. For the casual observer, whether you were in Hell or in the Paradise of the Gods, it was really exactly the same situation and the same circumstance as in the other place but on different days depending upon who was the immortal God and who was the mortal being on that particular day.

A schizophrenic’s delight or dilemma, you might say. And I should know all about that of course.

So there are things going on right now that I don’t quite understand. And maybe I ought to understand them, I dunno. But right now I have a couple of quotes going round in my head, and seeing as we are on board a ship in difficult seas a nautical metaphor is appropriate. It’s an exchange between Peter Ustinov and Mia Farrow in Agatha Christie’s “Death On The Nile”
Ustinov – “You are embarking on a hazardous journey in troubled waters. You face who knows what currents of misfortune”.
Farrow – “One must follow one’s star wherever it leads, even unto hell itself”.
Such is the price of loneliness, boredom, inaction and, most importantly, curiosity.

—-
I hope that you enjoyed that little story.

Wednesday 25th January 2017 – PARKING …

… is a relentless subject on this blog – especially now that I’m in Belgium where the standard of parking, never mind driving, is totally abysmal.

bad parking kruisstraat leuven belgium january janvier 2017And so here we are again – a small crowd of people and a police van with its blue lights flashing.

Of the men down there, a couple of them belong to that yellow van parked down there. They want to move off about their business but they can’t because the dark blue Volkswagen is blocking them in.

The police were called and eventually turned up, but they had no luck in resolving the issue.

But it managed to resolve itself because the two cars double-parked, one of which is the silver BMW, belong to the employees of a shop here. The driver of the BMW came down from the shop, backed his car out, the van could then manoeuvre itself out of the mess (and it took quite a while because it really was tight) and then the BMW driver put his car back.

But it’s really miserable, this Belgium parking. You ain’t seen nuffink like it.

I had a reasonable sleep last night. It took me ages to drop off thoroughly, but once I’d gone, I was gone until the workmen started to move about. I’d been on my travels too but once more, it all evaporated just as soon as I awoke and I don’t remember a thing.

There were bread and juice issues yet again this morning, but for some reason I wasn’t all that hungry and ended up pouring half of my breakfast away.

selfie ted strawberry moose leuven belgium january janvier 2017And then Hans came round to say goodbye. He’s hitting the road back to the UK for a fortnight or so.

He brought his travelling companion Selfie Ted around with him to say goodbye to Strawberry Moose, and then we went out for a coffee, a walk and another chat.

There’s so much to say when you have known someone for more than half a century. Almost 51 years since our first day at Nantwich Grammar School.

After lunch I crashed out for quite a while. I’m definitely feeling the strain and I’ve had a really busy few days just now. I can’t last the pace these days.

I was told on Monday that today would be the day that they would do my room. And so I’d done a little cleaning around but you know just as well as I do what was likely to happen. That’s right – no-one turned up. No big surprise, that, is it?

But I did manage a lengthy chat with Liz on the internet, and then I went for tea. Croquettes, vegan sausages and baked beans followed by pineapple rings and citron sorbet. It was all really delicious.

So let’s try for another early night again. I need as many as I can get and one day I’ll be able to fall straight asleep and not awaken until the alarm goes off.

But I’m not too optimistic about that.

Thursday 12th May 2016 – HA HA HA!

Who was it who said something about “an early night” last night then?

For not only having stayed awake to watch a Mr Moto film (starring Peter Lorre in the title role), I stayed awake and awake and awake, and I was still tossing and turning at 03:45 this morning. So much for my predictions.

But I did manage to drop off to sleep at some point, and I was back at my old school, with a pile of girls, climbing up (not down) a rope of sheets trying to get in through a window or onto a balcony. And as for why I might be doing this, I’m afraid that I don’t have the foggiest. It’s gone clean out of my mind.

For the first time in ages I slept right through until the alarm went off and, resisting the temptation to turn over and go back to sleep, I went off for breakfast. Mind you, I paid for it later on in the day, crashing out at about 17:00 for an hour or so.

bio planet tiensesteenweg bierbeek kessel lo belgiumAfter breakfast, I went off on a prowl with the intention of exploring this famous bio shop in the Tiensestraat in Bierbeek about which I had heard so much. I’d driven past it the other evening but I didn’t have time to stop.

It’s certainly good at what it does, that’s for sure, but for me it was a little disappointing because there was none of the vegan cheese that I like. There was some – a kind of spreading mozzarella substitute – so I bought a couple of packs to see how it goes

knacker diabolique vegan sausages bio planet tiensesteenweg bierbeek kessel lo belgiumI also bought a beautiful seeded baguette for lunch (which tasted delicious) and a couple of raisin buns, but I’ll be passing on the Knacker diabolique vegan sausages though. No matter how nice they looked, I couldn’t cope with the name.

But here’s another example of me having to change my national stereotypes. This shop, the Bio Planet, is another establishment that offers free coffee to customers, and there are a few broken biscuits to sample too, so I’ve added it to my ever-increasing list.

Things are definitely looking up here in Belgium.

low energy consumption fridges krefel tiensesteenweg bierbeek kessel-lo belgiumAnd that’s not all either.

Just across the road is a Krefel electrical appliance shop so I went over there for a butcher’s. And I was astonished – really astonished. When have you EVER seen a standard-size domestic fridge that has a rated annual consumption of just 64 kilowatts per year? That is amazing.

And if you think that the fridge next to it, the one with freezer compartment, is equally astonishing at 98 kilowatts per year, there was one further down the row that had a rated consumption of just 93 kilowatts per year

low energy consumption freezer krefel tiensesteenweg bierbeek kessel lo belgiumAnd if that isn’t enough, the best is yet to come. Here in the shop was a standard-size freezer with an annual consumption of 101 kilowatts per annum.

This figure, and the one of 64 kw/A for the fridge, are figures that I have never ever seen for these appliances and had I been in a better place in my life right now, the fridge and freeze would be coming back home with me.

The fridge actually uses much less energy than the little 12-volt fridge that I have, and the freezer would go nicely in the barn running off the solar panels and wind turbine in there. I’d be set up for life with this lot.

vegan cheese carrefour tiensesteenweg bierbeek kessel lo belgiumYou may remember the other day that I was moaning that my vegan cheese had been “tidied away” from the fridge at Sint Pieters. I knew that I wouldn’t have time to go back to Brussels for more and how I’d be stuck for my next series of travels.

But no longer, because here in the Carrefour – a mainstream supermarket – they are now selling vegan cheese slices too, and at about two-thirds the price of anywhere else over here. I was equally as astonished by this.

Yes, things are definitely looking up in Belgium right now.

Back here, I’ve pushed on with updating the older bits of the blog. In a mad fit of enthusiasm I’ve done all of January 2011 and I’m stuck well into February. But I won’t be going much further than this for now because I’m leaving here tomorrow as you know. I’m going to have a check-up and then I’m hitting the road.

I did mention that I crashed out this afternoon, and I had a strange occurrence when I awoke. I had a dizzy spell and was staggering around in here for five minutes until I sat down and gathered my wits (it doesn’t take me very long these days).

And for tea, I had pasta and ratatouille followed by spicy loaf and soya cream for pudding. Now I’m off to bed and I shan’t say anything more because I don’t want to tempt fate.

Saturday 7th May 2016 – I DIDN’T FORGET …

… my spicy loaf thing after all that. It was actually in my rucksack where I hadn’t thought to look. It was about midnight when I suddenly remembered where it was, so I ended up with a midnight snack, and didn’t it go down well!

But a midnight snack will tell you something about yet another night here. Here I am all on my own in my room and once more I’m wide awake at silly o’clock not being able to go to sleep. We even had – and who in their right mind would ever engage – a night-nurse with a deep booming voice? He can’t whisper to the patients – you can hear him all down the corridor. I ended up closing my bedroom door, which is something that I hate to do here.

It seems to be that it’s the noise of the air-conditioning that’s making the racket that keeps me awake, so I made a few investigations this morning and I think I know how I can switch it off. I’ll try that tonight, which will mean that it will then be too hot to sleep.

Just wait and see.

But I did drop off to sleep at some point because although I do remember 01:00, the next thing that I remember was 06:30 and it seemed to be continuous too as far as I know, with not even a trip down the corridor this time. That’s progress, I reckon.

And while I was out, I was off back to Nantwich and my old school, and to something of a sex scandal, where someone was accused of sending indecent messages to a young girl pupil there. All of this was splashed over the BBC and questions were being asked everywhere. However, I happened to be watching a Polish sports programme on TV and they had a news broadcast at half-time, and this featured this particular story. It went into much more detail, saying that the girl was Polish and the messages consisted of words such as “Katya (or whatever her name was), go 20 paces forward” and “Katya (or whatever …) go ten paces left”, all like the instructions in The Musgrave Ritual and nothing like the innuendo that the BBC was implying at all. All it showed was how short of news the BBC was that it was blowing up out of all proportions a harmless media nothingness.

In fact, this bears a startling parallel to something that had actually occurred to me 30 years or so ago. In those days, the BBC finished broadcasting its radio programmes at 02:00, ending with a news broadcast, and when I was driving taxis through the night, I always listened to it. But a quick turn of the dial at 02:00 brought into reception Radio Free Bulgaria , the Communist-supported English-language radio broadcasts,and they always started at 02:00 with a news broadcast. It would have the same broadcasts using the same vocabulary, but by changing the stresses of the words and by changing the punctuation, it could make it sound totally different and, in many cases, mean exactly the opposite.

That was my first encounter with “propaganda” because even back in those days I was never so naïve as to believe that whatever the BBC was telling us was the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth and hearing the same news being told from a completely opposite viewpoint made that news sound just as credible as the BBC reports. So who was right?

Like I said, I was never so naïve enough to entirely believe the BBC and my cynicism has just gone worse over the intervening years.

So today we have made outstanding progress.

I was up and about and in my window for 08:00, basking in the sun for a couple of hours, and I scavenged a pile of fruit, a few bottles of lemonade, the rest of the biscuits and some spicy loaf too throughout the day. That kept me out of mischief.

But the highlight was definitely my permission. Being given leave to wander around the hospital for an hour, I went for a slow walk this afternoon. I ended up with a big hunk of bread and some of my cheese slices from Caliburn ending up with a huge cheese butty in the sunshine. It was the most delicious thing that I have eaten for ages.

A long chat on the internet with Liz followed and we discussed a cunning plan, more of which anon.

So now I’m winding down for the evening and I’ll have an early night hoping to catch up with my sleep. If it’s true that I’m being ejected on Monday, then there are just two more nights to go so I want to make the most of whatever time I have left here to catch up on my sleep.

But Alison is coming to see me tomorrow, so that will be nice. Especially as she will be bringing some vegan ice cream with her. I do hope that she remembers to bring a spoon with her.

Monday 22nd February 2016 – I CRASHED OUT …

… for a couple of hours this afternoon. And I’ve absolutely no idea why. It’s not as if I’ve been up to very much, is it, just sitting here waiting for Godot or whatever.

Mind you, I have had a day that’s been hectic in certain respects. For a start, in this urge to clean out the dictaphone and bring this up to date, I’ve not only finished the notes for the voyage to Canada in 2015 (which I think that I might have finished off yesterday) I’ve also dealt with the trip to central France in August last year, the one to Germany and the Czech Republic in June, and I’ve cracked on pretty well with the trip to Canada in 2014, the notes of which were lost when the previous laptop crashed.

You can see that it’s been a pretty hectic day all in all, at least from that point of view.

Having a blood test thins morning didn’t help matters either. That takes it out of me too, in more ways than one. Quite frankly, I don’t see the point of them giving me all of this blood if they are simply going to take it out bit by bit.

But it was during the night that, as usual, everything happened. and I do have to say that it’s rather sad right now that I have to have any excitement in my life by vicarious means.

We started off last night on the most amazing nostalgia trip. Memory Land had nothing on this. It was back in my school days and I’d started to go to school in a really scruffy, oily pair of green shorts (I actually had a pair of these too) and and equally scruffy light grey tee-shirt. It all makes a change from the school uniform that we had to wear back in those days. After school, we set off home and it was raining. I had an old, short kind of raincoat thing that I was wearing to keep the rain off. A group of us decided for some reason or other to go home a different way and we ended up wherever we were intending to be a good five minutes before the others arrived. We didn’t know this at the time but it soon became clear. There was a rather large stationary Ford Pinto engine there that performed some task or other at the place where we were, and I was having a look at it. I noticed that some of the spark plug leads had been caught up underneath it and trapped. This told me that the other kids hadn’t arrived yet otherwise they would have noticed it and sorted out the leads. Another thing that I noticed was that the cam belt adjuster had become slackened off and the belt was twisted. Someone had evidently tried to turn over the motor and that had upset the valve timing as the belt was sliding around over the top pulley on the end of the camshaft on the cylinder head. I needed my tools to adjust it and set it correctly but before I could go to fetch them, the other kids turned up. I told them not to touch the engine under any circumstances until I’d adjusted it (ohh! The nostalgic delights of changing cam belts on Ford Pinto engines! If I ever had a quid for every one of those I’d done in the 70s and 80s I would be dictating this to a couple of floozies sitting on my knee in the Caribbean somewhere). While I was adjusting and setting the cam belt and the valve timing, a couple of girls from the “latecomers” came over for a chat. One of them was very, very young (not even in school uniform – she was blond-haired, wearing a blue and white checked summer dress with a very pale blue blouse) and I had a little chat with her. The other girl then came over to join in. She was probably in year 3 or 4 of the Grammar School where I went, and I would be in year 6 or 7 (7 was the final year at out school). She lived in Worleston, so she said, and had shoulder-length dark red (almost brown) hair and a lovely smile, and I’m sure that I know who she is but I just can’t think who. We had a chat that started off just being something general and then slowly developed into something more personal. She asked me what “A” levels I was doing and so I told her that I was studying Geography, History and English (I actually studied Geography, History and Economics, as well as both parts of the “General Paper” which was an option). She told me that she was very interested in journalism because that was what her father did. She collected photographs and autographs, and started going through her collection of photographs with me. There were many photographs of lifeguards at the beach and also older ones of old Victorian women, so we started to make a few jokes that today would be considered in rather poor taste (not that that ever would bother me of course – I can’t remember now who it was who said it but I’m a fervent subscriber to the comment that “nothing is ever in bad taste if it is funny”) such as “I bet that she’s felt the cold hand of death on her shoulder by now”. We ended up having quite a laugh about this.
The bizarre thing about this – or maybe it isn’t so bizarre – is that while I was on this little voyage, I was feeling quite warm and comfortable. Chatting to this girl was very pleasant and it made me realise that during my school days -and later on – what I had missed out on was a nice comfortable companion with whom I could relax like this. None of my girlfriends at school would ever have fitted into this little scenario, and much as I liked Nerina, it’s fair to say that we weren’t ever “accomplices” in this sense. I’ve been noticing that we do occasionally have little nostalgic nights like this and I was all for turning the clock back 45 years and going off to track down this girl with the dark red hair. It’s not as if Worleston is a big place, after all and with a farmer who is a journalist, they aren’t likely to be part of the dispersed farming community out there. The “Royal Oak” would be the place to start, or maybe the church, where the Reverend Lillicrap (and I am not making this up) used to hold sway.
After the usual semi-somnambulistic stroll down the corridor, I was back at school again. This time though, it wasn’t anything like as pleasant. I’d been charged with an offence that was rather disreputable and as a result I’d withdrawn from my usual social circle (not that I ever had much of one) and was living in my car on a cliff-top somewhere. I would merely change into my school uniform to go to school and then change back into civvies as soon as I could afterwards. I only kept in some kind of social contact with one friend (someone with whom I am still in touch these days), and that was because I could rely on him and he believed in my innocence. As a result, any indiscretion that I might (or might not) have committed had not reached the ears of anyone else and I was defending the court case entirely on my own. But this all was about to change when he told me that his wife (and he mentioned her name – and she is in fact his sister in real life) had somehow heard about the events, and forbidden him to keep in touch with me. I asked him if he intended to take any notice, to which he replied that he had to. He admitted that, although no-one else knew this, she controlled him quite closely, even weighing him every day to make sure that he wasn’t eating any sweets or anything else to which he wasn’t entitled. I found this all hard to believe and when I saw her bright yellow vehicle right across the headland, heading slowly towards where I was parked up, I waved at her and that caused a major eruption amongst all people concerned.

So after all of that, it was back into the land of the living. And I had to make my own bed and open my own curtains because we were having visitors today and Liz had a day of teaching. Perhaps it was that which wore me out so much.

But counting through the boxes of injections, there is about half of them left. I wish that they would hurry up and get it over with.

And I’d like to have my blood test results too. They STILL haven’t come. And I want to go off for an early night and a decent sleep. It’s a long way to Worleston in the dark.

Tuesday 29th December 2015 – AND IF YOU THOUGHT …

… that last night’s voyage was something impressive, you ain’t seen nuffink yet! No wonder I’m exhausted. I can see me having another 20:45 bedtime at this rate.

Last night, after going to bed at such a ridiculously early night, I was straight out – like a light in fact. And then we were off on a nocturnal ramble that, even though I can’t remember all of it, has to be the farthest that I’ve gone for quite a while.

Last night I was talking on the internet to the wife of a friend of mine. She’d been for a walk around Nantwich and ended up going past my old Grammar School and so it goes without saying that I went out on my travels to inspect it. I spent a couple of happy hours patrolling the corridors and apart from the fact that there were many more pupils there than I remembered it, it looked completely the same as it did back then, despite all the changes that have taken place since I was there. I didn’t see anyone I that I recognised – until I saw Joanna walking down the corridor. I had quite a crush on her at one time at school and we did become friends for a short while (although nothing like as friendly as I would have liked) but anyway I digress. Back at the ranch, Joanna walked down the corridor past me and I noticed a double-take as she briefly paused, looked at me with a puzzled expression on her face, and then walked on again. I ended up outside in the school farm looking at the animals.

At this point in the evening I had to leave the comfort and safety of my stinking pit for the usual reasons that anyone of my age would understand, and then I was back at school again. Not my old school this time though, but a High School in the USA. A big old Gothic building too, very tall and compact. I was here, having sneaked in for a wander around and to use the showers, and that had worked out fine. Next day, I was there for much longer, having a much fuller exploration. I’d found the bathroom – full of individual bathtubs where you had to put a token or a coin into a machine to have the hot water to fill your tub, and also the refectory where I was intending to have a meal. However, while I was on the stairs, I received two messages on my phone – one from the Director of the High School asking me to report to her immediately, and the second from a friend of mine asking me to phone her and then to go to see the Director. I was wondering how come everyone had been able to obtain the number of my mobile phone. I know that it was written on the side of Caliburn, which was parked up in the school car park, but how had they been able to tie up Caliburn with me? Was it merely a speculative phone call? I’m sure that I hadn’t been recognised as an “outsider”.

I never had the chance to answer these questions because I was off again down the corridor (it makes a total nonsense of this idea of having nothing to drink in the evening and I was a long way yet from finishing). And back in the comfort and safety of my stinking pit I was off yet again, this time to Brussels (or, at least, I think that it was Brussels). Here I met a family with a girl of 7 or so (but she looked older than that) and her favourite pastime was boxing – in fact she boxed at a gym there in her spare time. I remembered that Dylan, who is the same age, also enjoyed boxing so I arranged a boxing match between the two kids. I didn’t actually see the match but I remember being there at the end of Round 1 with Dylan’s mother saying that the girl (whose name I can’t remember) would not be doing a lap of honour if she won, so Dylan replied that he would have to concentrate on his jab. And the net result was that Dylan won the match by one point, which I thought was rather unfair.

Down the corridor yet again, and then I was off somewhere else. This time it might have been back to the USA, but a completely different USA than earlier in the evening, more like the Wild West. And there were two big houses close together and the occupants of these houses were at war with each other rather like the situation in A Fistful of Dollars. The house where I was had been attacked twice by fire-raisers and we were definitely on the defensive, and when the third attack came, we found ourselves out of ammunition. The person in charge told us to hold the fort while he rode off to fetch the sheriff and a posse, but I wondered how that would work bearing in mind that we were probably just as guilty as the others, and how we could hold out in the meantime with just wooden stakes with embedded nails, and pointing empty guns and shouting “bang”. We did our best to dislodge the people who were surrounding our house but we were soon overwhelmed and with no sign of relief we came to realise that this story about “fetching the sheriff” was just a ruse for the leader of our party to make good his getaway. And so here we were, all prisoners, and it all started to become rather ugly. It was just as well that I awoke (for yet another trip down the corridor) at this point.

As I say, I wish that my real life was as exciting as all of this that goes on in the evening. I Don’t know what it is that Liz is putting in the cooking that is causing all of this – or maybe it’s something in the injections that I have to have.

Having survived the morning round of injections and having had breakfast, this was another day where I did precisely nothing. The morning was spent with Terry watching the cricket but then round about midday everyone cleared off to Montlucon and the swimming baths. I stayed behind and carried on with my 3D program and made myself some toasted cheese for lunch.

Everyone was back as it went dark. No shipwrecks and no-body drownding, in fact nothing to laugh at at all in the Centre Aqualudique although Dylan loved the big water slide. I was regaled with a blow-by-blow account of this afternoon’s activities.

strawberry moose wallace and gromit collection sauret besserve puy de dome franceWe had time before tea to watch the video. Tonight’s film – or films, should I say – were the Wallace & Gromit – The Complete Collection, a particular favourite of Robyn’s.

And it goes without saying that Strawberry Moose enjoyed the film too, as did mummy and daddy.

And so that was that for today. Falafel and chips for tea followed by vegan Black Forest Gateau. There’s no more room for anything else. I’ll watch a bit of the football tonight and then I’ll be off to bed.

I wonder where I’ll end up during the night?

But here’s a thing. Do you remember a few weeks ago back at my house when one morning I discovered a trail of blood leading to the beichstuhl, and on inspecting my appendages, it seemed that I’d banged my little toe on my left foot really hard against the door frame and not noticed? This morning when I was dressing, I noticed that the nail on that toe has become detached, hanging on in there by a thread.

I must have banged it much harder than I thought – and somehow never felt a thing.