Tag Archives: new brunswick

Thursday 16th July 2020 – TODAY WAS …

beautiful sunset ile de chausey english channel granville manche normandy france eric hall… not much better than the last couple of days. In fact in some respects it was worse because I missed the third alarm yet again.

So while you admire the photos of tonigh’s sunset, I’ll tell you that I only missed the alarm by 5 or so minutes, but a miss is as good as a mile, as we all know. What didn’t help was that all through the night I was awoken by some wicked attacks of cramp that really had me in pain. I could have done without those, right enough.

After the medication I checked the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night.

beautiful sunset ile de chausey english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallYes I’m not too sure about very much of last night’s dream at all except that I was in Belgium and I’d been out somewhere. I’d ended up on the frontier with France right on the point of a headland by the sea. There was a river that divided the two countries and you could see everything that was happening in France and I took a few photos. Then I went back to tell everyone where I’s been but people weren’t all that concerned or interested in what I was doing.

beautiful sunset ile de chausey english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallA little later on I was playing football, playing central defence. I’d gone into a kind of forward attacking role to play the ball but I’d made a bit of a mess of it and the ball had got behind me with three attackers so I was running back after it but I just blew up – ran out of steam completely and could hardly move while I was chasing the ball and chasing these players
After another attack of cramp I went back to sleep and found myself on the playing field at the back of where we used to live in Shavington. There was the upper football pitch and the lower football pitch and I was on the upper one. everyone else was on the lower one and no-one was coming along to play with me so in the end I went down to join the others. But there were many more than 11-a-side there so I reckoned that one team ought to wear chasubles (I’m dreaming in French again) so that we would know who is on which team.

beautiful sunset ile de chausey english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallHaving disposed of all of that I turned my attention to the photos from July 2019. Another 50 or so bit the dust today which is good news, although I haven’t advanced very far. Right now we are in a fleet of zodiacs zooming around Kangerluluk Fjord on the east coast of Greenland. At this rate I’m never going to get to the North-West Passage, never mind New Brunswick.

It was shopping today too so I had a shower and a weigh-in. And my weight is still under my first target weight which is good news, I suppose.

And nice and clean, I changed the bedding and did a machine-load of washing. It’s all clean and nice-smelling right now which is good. I like the conditioner that I bought the other week.

film crew foyer des jeunes travailleurs place d'armes granville manche normandy france eric hallSo off into town I set, having a quick chat with a neighbour as I left.

But I didn’t get very far. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that there’s a film being made here just now. The seem to have transformed the Foyer des Jeunes Travailleurs into some kind of Government office and it was all floodlit this morning.

They must be filming something right at this moment, I reckon. And for that reason we are not allowed to approach the site.

normandy trader port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallMy route into town continued. And as I looked over the wall here I could see that down in the harbour “Old Faithful” is nack.

Chausiais must have moved pretty smartly this morning from the mooring underneath the crane because Normandy Traders, one of the little freighters from Jersey, is now in port.

The gates havent long been open so I imagine she sneaked in on the morning tide to drop off a load of shellfish from the Jersey Seafood Co-operative and pick up a load of material.

moving house place godal granville  manche normandy france eric hallOn I pushed to the Rampe du Monte Regret where I pictured a bizarre kind of house removal.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that in Brussels we had portable lifts for all of this, but here apparently not. They were hauling up the stuff by hand with a couple of ropes.

That must have been hard work but it’s not a new experience for me. When I was younger I did all kinds of furniture removals like this, but that was in the days before Health and Safety regulations were in force.

Making my way into town, I called at the Post Office and sent off my letter – the one that I had written yesterday. Then I walked on to LIDL.

It beats me really why I went because I didn’t want to buy very much at all – and for a good reason too as regular readers of this rubbish will find out in a couple of days.

weedkillling with hot water rue de la houle granville manche normandy france eric hallIn the end, the grand total of €6:12 or something like that was what I spent.

On the way back down the Rue de la House I encountered this trange phenomenon – some people spraying the streets. That intrigued me greatly so I went to make further enquiries.

On the side of their little vehicle was a little sticker “weedkiller with boiling water”. So that’s what they are doing them. Pouring boiling water on the weeds.

How effective is that? I asked myself. It’s better for the environment than Agent Orange, that’s for sure. But does it really work that well?

On the way back I called at the vegetable shop and bought two (yes, two) carrots. For tea tonight and tomorrow. I won’t be needing any more for a while after that.

loading normandy trader port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallAnd so I headed on home up the Rue des Juifs.

Normandy Trader was still there being worked on. They were loading her up quite rapidly so it looks as if they are pushing to have her out of the harbour and on her way as soon as the gates open this afternoon

Back here I carried on with the photos for a while and then I had something else to do. There are a couple of cunning plans running round my head right now, one or two of which I have put in motion already.

One of the people approached actually replied (and another one did later this evening too) so I decided to push my luck and see if fortune would carry me onwards. That meant replying to the mail with a certain amount of jen ne sais quoi and seeing where we go with this.

But it’s not for right now, although it makes sense to push along while it’s fresh in people’s minds.

After lunch I started on my two courses. Firstly the song-writing course. And by the time that I knocked off I’d done the first week.
It didn’t teach me anything new but that’s not a problem. There is plenty of time and I have great hopes for this.

joly france baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france eric hallAfter I’d finished I went for my afternoon walk around the walls.

The tourist season is well under way as we can imagine right now. Joly France is keeping quite busy, taking day-trippers on a couple of laps around the bay as she waits for the tides to turn so she can go back to the Ile de Chausey and pick up those whom she dumped on there earlier.

They do a lot of work in the tourist season, do the two Joly France boats. This is the older one, with the smaller windows, the larger upper deck and without the step in the stern.

boats people fishing baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france eric hallThis is the kind of thing that makes me wish that I’d been out here 10 minutes earlier.

There is a huge load of small boats moored just off the headland as if there is a shoal of sea-bass in the vicinity. It seems to me that anyone who can hold a rod in his hand is out there trying his luck at catching supper.

I learnt the following day that it was in fact a shoal of mackerel that had appeared off the headland

And what confusion it must have caused to everyone when Joly France came round the corner at a rapid rate of knots. Scattered them like ninepins, I reckon.

crowds on beach plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallCarrying on my walk around the walls, I came to the viewpoint overlooking the Plat Gousset.

The tide is rushing in right at this moment and the massed crowds of grockles have now retreated up to the sea wall to keep their feet out of the sea.

The tide isn’t a particularly high tide today – a coefficient in the 40s – so they might be lucky and stay dry. But it would be interesting to see the outcome of all of this if the tide does comme in higher than they are expecting.

hang glider bombed by seagull plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallAnd not just on land or in the sea was it busy.

It goes without saying that there was plenty going on in the air this afternoon too. The Birdmen of Alcatraz are out there in force swooping around like a bunch of vultures.

The seagull here is taking a great deal of exception to this particular birdman. It spent a good 10 minutes or so buzzing him, presumably to get him to clear off. Unfortunately I didn’t have tile to stay and see how it ended but my money was on the seagull.

kids jumping from diving platform plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallAnd not just boats out on the sea either. There were plenty of swimmers there too.

The diving platform was crowded with people too and others in the sea swimming out that way to take part in the sports. This young boy here showed us quuite an acrobatic somersault into the water.

He received a good 4.9 for artistic impression from the bystanders but he lost a few points on the technical merit. His entry into the water could have been better.

kids jumping from diving platform granville manche normandy france eric hallBut at least he entered the water quite rapidly. This young boy here was not quite so keen.

The onlookers on the cliff were urging him on, chanting “sautez, sautez” but he didn’t budge. A couple of the people on the platform were also counting him down to enter the water too.

Eventually the young boy in the previous photo pushed his way to the front and leapt in. This seemed to galvanise the other one here into action and he leapt in immediately afterwards, to a loud cheer and round of applause from the onlookers.

loading boats onto thora port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallRound I went to the Square Maurice Marland I went to check on my baby seagull but he seems to have definitively gone now.

Something else that has gone is Normandy Trader. She must have cleared off the moment that the harbour gates opened because there at the loading bay in her place in Thora, the other Jersey freighter.

You might recall seeing in an earlier photo some shrink-wrapped boats on the back of a lorry at the side of the quay. They are now being loaded into Thora ready to go to the Channel Islands.

And Marité is back in port too after her adventures just recently.

market place cambernon granville manche normandy france eric hallHaving spent a few minutes looking at the loading, I carried on with my walk.

And there are changes in the Place Cambernon too today. It looks as if a little market of sorts has sprung up in the square. Only a couple of stalls but it’s a start, I suppose. We could do with more like this in the neighbourhood

There is the pizza van of course. That’s here on Thursdays too so it looks like that’s the day for everyone to come to the old town just here. I wonder if the market will expand over time. I hope so.

film crew foyer des jeunes travailleurs place d'armes granville manche normandy france eric hallOn the way back I was walking along the elevated section of the walls when I noticed that the filming at the Foyer des Jeunes Travailleurs had finished.

They were packing up the equipment so I took a photo to show you what was going on.

Back here I started the other course – “building an interactive website”. And unfortunately and depressingly, i crashed out yet again. Another good hour or so on the chair, well away with the fairies.

As a result I didn’t do half as much as I liked, so I’ll have to push on tomorrow as it’s going to be rather a busy day for me

There was the hour on the guitars, followed by tea. A lentil and potato curry out of the freezer followed by apple crumble.

joly france lifeboat port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallAfterwards I went out for my run. And I don’t know why because my heart isn’t in it right now.

It’s knowing that I had a collapse in health a couple of weeks ago on the Spirit of Conrad that’s done it. I can feel the difference right now and it isn’t very nice.

But anyway I made it a good way up the hill before I shuddered to a halt, and then walked the remaining 100 metres to the corner. From there I ran on down past the itinerant to the clifftop.

There were a few people around but nothing at all happening so I walked across the lawn to the other side and then ran on down the next leg of my run.

From that rest point I could see that there was something going on at the ferry terminal. Joly France is there of course but the lifeboat is tied up next to it.

It beats me why it would be there. The only thing that I can think of is that it’s been out on a job and missed the tide for going back into the port de plaisance where it lives.

crowds on beach plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallThe next stage to the viewpoint in the rue du Nord I have to do in two legs these days. The strain is definitely getting to me these days, that’s for sure.

At the viewpoint I watched the sun go down, and you have already seen the photos of that. But once more there were the crowds on the beach enjoying the good weather (it was a really nice evening).

Having seen the sun go down, I ran on back to the apartment to write up my notes. And now they are done I’m going to put away last week’s washing that I took off the clothes airer and then go to bed.

It will be a long day tomorrow so I want to be on form for it. I hope that I don’t have another attack of the cramps like last night.

Thursday 4th June 2020 – THAT WAS PROBABLY …

… the worst day that I have had today for a couple of years.

It didn’t get off to a very good start either. I eard the three alarms go off but I was in no real mood to make a hurried exit from the bed seeing as I was going out for the day.

07:35 was rather later than intended, but nevertheless …

During the night I’d been on my travels too. I was in some kind of Institution and the virus was taking a grip. I was interested in learning how to do different stuff from different people like bread making, that kind of thing. And this continued on and on and you don’t really want to read the rest of it because you probably are eating your meal right now.

For a change I had some breakfast and then a shower, and headed off to LIDL for the mid-week shopping.

Despite being in Caliburn, there wasn’t any heavy stuff that needed buying or anything really exciting in the special offers either. Mind you, there was quite a queue to go into the shop – just 20 people at a time being allowed in.

Having done the necessary I drove off to Laurent’s place at Bréhal Plage and we went off together for a drive.

Not as many photos as I would have liked to have taken. But that’s because, quite simply, when someone else is doing the driving you’re pretty-much dependent upon them and their time more than anything else.

commodore clipper ship leaving channel islands flamanville manche normandy france eric hallOur first stop was at Flamanville right up the coast near Cherbourg.

But before I say anything about it, I was distracted … “as usual” – ed … by something offshore. It’s been an absolute age since we’ve had a “ship of the day” on these pages and so the presence of a large one sailing by about 10 miles or so offshore immediately caught my eye.

Of course at this kind of distance it was impossible to see its name, but its silhouette bears a great reemeblance to that of Commodore Clipper, the shuttle ferry that runs between the Channel islands anf the Uk mainland and ideed she did leave St Peter Port in Guernsey about 20 minutes before I took this photo.

guernsey flamanville manche normandy france eric hallAs for where Guernsey might be, the answer to that is that it’s right there. The island of Sark is there too, but that’s lost in the background of the larger island.

Where we are is at the head of a peninsula right up near the top of the Cotentin Peninsula, very close to the port of Dielette and it’s from here in the summer that there’s a ferry service over to the Channel islands.

Not right now, of course, because everything is postponed while we all recover from the virus.

jersey flamanville manche normandy france eric hallIt’s usually Granville that provides the summer service over there, because judging by the look of the port at Dielette, Victor Hugo is too large to go a-manoeuvring around in there.

The ferries run a shuttle service from here to the various Channel Islands. That’s Jersey over there, a mere 40 or so kilometres away, much closer of course than it is to the port of Granville.

So it looks as if Dielette is the place for me to come in the summer to go on a nautical excursion if I can’t hitch a lift on Normandy Trader or Thora

brittany coast flamanville manche normandy france eric hallThe weather was pretty grey and miserable today, which was a shame. Not the ideal day for photography.

Nevertheless, down there on the horizon in a faint grey wisp is the coast of Brittany, which according to my calculations is a very improbable 90 kms away. But there’s no other land anywhere else out there in that vicinity so I can’t even begin to think what else it might be.

It could, I suppose be wishful thinking, the same kind of thinking that led the sailors of Christopher Columbus to believe on a couple of occasions that they had seen land before they finally espied San Salvador, but it looks pretty realistic to me

buoy english channel flamanville manche normandy france eric hallThere was a floating buoy just offshore, but I reckon that I know the reason for this.

Where we are (although you can’t see it) is at the side of the big nuclear reactor at Flamanville. This is France’s equivalent of New Brunswick’s Lepreau Reactor, in that no matter how much money they throw at it and how many technicians then send in to wotk at it, they still can’t make it fire up correctly.

To be fair, the original two reactors from the 1980s seem to work fine and at one stage they were producing as much as 4% of the total amount of France’s electricity without any major problem. A third reactor was commissioned in 2007, with an on-line date of 2012 and a cost of €3.3 billion.

However one catastrophe after another has pushed the start date further and futther back, with a latest date being 2022 and with costs now rising to €12.4 billion. And none of that is certain to be the final position either.

It makes people wonder at just what stage will these people finally throw in the towel and stop throwing good money in after bad money.

harbour goury la hague manche normandy france eric hallWe drove from there all the way along the coast on the “Route des Caps” as far as it was possible to go by car – to the harbour at Goury La Hague at the Cap de la Hague.

This is another place that I will add onto my list of places to come another time when I have visitors because even in the most miserable weather it was really nice. This little harbour here would look beautiful when the tide is in and all the boats ar bobbing about on the waves.

But I couldn’t help thinking that that is a massive wall to protect such a small harbour.

woman painter lifeboat station goury la hague manche normandy france eric hallRegardless of the despressing weather, this woman here seemed to be njoying herself.

She had her notebook out and was busy painting a scene of the local landscape while her dog sat patiently close by.

This is a beautiful building just here on the quayside and Laurent asked me if I could guess its purpose. After a few moments thought I had to donner ma langue au chat as they say around here

lifeboat station goury la hague  manche normandy france eric hall
Apparently it’s the local lifeboat station.

And what is interesting about it is that it’s a roundhouse. There are two slipways, one behind the harbour wall and the other one straight down into the sea.

The lifeboat is on a turntable on the inside and depending on what the weather is doing and where the tide is, the turntable is moved round so that the lifeboat is launched down the most appropriate slipway

lifeboat slipway goury la hague manche normandy france eric hallAnd it’s hardly surprising that you need a lifeboat in a location like this.

This is the view down the slipway that goes directly into the sea. There are enough rocks just offshore to put the wind up anyone. And talking of wind there was plenty of that today too.

The green and red posts in the water tothe left are, I reckon, to mark the entrance to the little harbour there. “Green” has five letters so that means “right” – you keep that to your right as you are coming in. “Red” is the same colour as “port”, which has the same number of letters as “left”, so you keep that to your left.

la falaise de jobourg la roche cap de la hague manche normandy france eric hallHad the weather been better, the view from here would probably have been better as well.

Nevertheless we could see a long way down the coast all the way past “La Roche” down to the Falaise – or cliff – de Jobourg. And looking at that cliff answered a question of mine – namely, why would there have been the signs of the école d’escalade – the School of Climbing – that I had noticed as we had driven throught the town of Jobourg to reach here.

Well, now we know, of course. One look at that rock face right down there tells us everything.

la roche cap de la hague manche normandy france eric hallThat’s the Cap de La Roche and behind it to the left is another industrial complex of eerie significance.

It’s the site of France’s answer to Sellafield, and where all of the country’s nuclear waste – altogether more than half of the World’s capacity – is stored ready for whenever they discover a method of disposing of it.

Laurent had always wondered why they had chosen that particular site, and of course I was able to tell him. The prevailing winds in this area come up the English Channel from the south-west, and there is no French land whatever anywhere in the direction to which they will be blowing.

Any leak of radioactive material whatsoever will be blown out to sea by the prevailing winds and make landfall somewhere over the south-east coast of the UK.

alderney marker light cap de la hague manche normandy france eric hallThere are some more rocks out there in that direction too, with that beautiful marker light perched on top of them to warn shipping.

The island behind it is the island of Alderney, the most northerly of the Channel Islands. These of course are British possessions which remained in English hands after the English were expelled from Normandy in 1204 for the simple reason is that the French King at the time didn’t have a fleet handy at the time to go along and invade them.

By the time that subsequent French Kings had arranged a Navy, the opportunity had been passed by and the islands had been reinforced ready to repel any invader.

The French Kings might have been forestalled, but others were not. In one of the most shameful incidents of World War II the British Government surrendered the Islands and their population to the Germans in 1940 without even firing a bullet in their defence.

Furthermore, even though the fighting had long-since passed them by, the British did not go along and claim them back from the Germans until after the end of the war. Hundreds of British citizens had died in the Concentration Camp on Guernsey or had been deported to places like TITTMONING, WHICH WE HAVE VISITED, Buchenwald or even Auschwitz, and the starvation of the citizens during the winter of 1944-1945 when the island was blockaded by the British caused hundreds of deaths.

Anyone who talks about hos “The British Won The War” needs to be reminded that without the help of the Americans they didn’t even dare to fight the Germans on their own soil until any danger of the German fighting back had been removed.

lighthouse cap de la hague manche normandy france eric hallThis here is a symbolic photograph.

It’s basically the final point of French territory around here – the lighthouse at the end of the Cap de la Hague. And a lighthouse is needed here too because of all the rocks that we have seen littering the area that will catch many a mariner totally unawares.

And shipwrecks just here are legion too – even big ships like the 10,000 tonne Button-Gwinnett that ran aground on the rocks on 19th December 1947 as well as any number of smaller vessels and pleasure boats that round the headland straight into a contrary current.

cross vendemiaire shipwreck cap de la hague manche normandy france eric hallAs well as shipwrecks on the shore, there have been innumerable accidents just off the coast too with collisions in the narrow navigable seaway.

This cross commemorates the crew of the French submarine Vendemiaire. She was built in 1910 when sumarines were in their infancy and submarine tactics were relatively unknown and untried.

On the 8th of June 1912 the three submarines of the Cherbourg flotilla were sent out to practise an interception on a few ships of the French navy that were steaming up the Channel. For some unknown reason the ships failed to co-ordinate their manoeuvre and the warship Saint Louis struck Vendemiaire amidships, sending her straight to the bottom taking all of hercrew with her.

Her wreckags was discovered in 2016 about 70 or so metres down, off the north-east coast of Alderney and the gash in her side was clearly visible, exposing her interior.

pointless stile goury cap de la hague manche normandy france eric hallThis photo was one that I took for my friend Louise.

She has a “thing” about useless gates, and while this isn’t a uselass gate it’s one of the next best things – a useless stile. I’m not sure at all why this would be there.

By now I was feeling really ill and the drive back to laurent’s was extremely uncomfortable for me. When we reached his house, I simply said my goodbye and drove home

Back here, I crashed out on the chair, and was gone for several hours. When I awoke, I was feeling even worse so I did something that I haven’t done for a couple of years and which I vowed that I would never do again, and that was to go and crash out on the bed.

And off I went on a long, confusing voyage. I was on The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour again. I was friendly with a couple who had come on board ship – a young couple. They had been on all of the yoages and were making a season of it but what had happened was that after the first couple of voyages they’d moved to the other side of the ship. When I encountered them later on they had had to move back. I asked them why and they told me “well the steward on the first side of the ship they were on was not very friendly so they wanted a nicer steward so they had moved across but they had no idea why it was they they had had to move back. We were chatting and by this time I was in Montreal and there I was wandering around in this shop like a big restaurant place. They had all these foods and sweets laid out where you could help yourself. I was wandering around trying to find something there to eat but there was nothing to eat for me. I was having a look at the sweets as well but there were no mint sweets of any kind that I could eat. I felt really bad about that. Then I was off again wandering around Montreal looking at an apartment. When I saw the rent, which was about 24,000 per year I thought that maybe I wouldn’t do that. But it was a nice lovely place down by the river. I was wandering around through the town and there was this abandoned car. The rear end was missing off it and the front end had been smashed and the engine was missing – a red one. I was wondering about the logistics of how I was going to stay – whether I could get a car, whether I could get a drivers’ licence, how much it would cost to get a driver’s licence on the Black Market, all kinds of stupid things like that
There was one instance where something was involved with firearms. I had a firearm which was not like me. Someone else had one and an issue came about that. I showed my firearm and this guy asked me all kids of weird and wonderful questions about it so I took the bullet and showed him the bullets. I quickly grabbed his and pulled his bullets out of his gun. They were a different type so I said something like “you have no room to talk about bullets” but this guy then turned to start talking about hunting which was not what I was trying to do at all.

Someone called me at sometime – I’ve no idea who because I didn’t answer. I was dead to the world and that was that.

No danger of me ever moving again.

Monday 1st June 2020 – WHAT STARTED OFF …

… as a really good day disintegrated pretty quickly into the usual chaotic mess and there’s now yet more stuff piled up in the queue of arrears to be dealt with.

boys jumping into sea plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallSo while you admire the photos of the young boys taking a giant step for mankind into the English Channel off the ramp at the Plat Gousset, I shall enlarge.

And I might even tell you about it too.

In fact, there was a hint if it all starting to go wrong last night when at about 23:15, halfway through writing up my notes, I was suddenly overwhelmed by fatigue.

That was the cue for me to call it a night and stagger off to bed. It wasn’t a worry because it’s happened before … “and it will happen again” – ed … and I’ll catch up with it soon enough.

boys jumping into sea plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallHowever, in what will come as a totaly surprise to just about everyone, I reckon, including me, I awoke with the first alarm and didn’t go back to sleep as I normally do.

As a matter of fact, when the third alarm went off I was in the kitchen mixing my morning cordial with which to take my medication.

And that’s not something that happens every day either, especially just recently.

boys jumping into the sea plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallNothing on the dictaphone either – I don’t seem to have gone anywhere during the night so it must have been a really solid sleep.

That meant that I could have a good half-hour or so on adding to my notes from yesterday before the medication worked and I could go to breakfast.

After breakfast I had tidying up to do because I was having visitors. It’s one good thing about having them, in that it does prompt me to clean up the place.

Sure enough, at 10:00, Laurent came round and we had a really good chat about all kinds of things and made a plan for a day out on Thursday. He knows of a few places that might interest me, like France’s answer to New Brunswick’s LePreau nuclear reactor, which is having a similar amount of success.

And if we take some potatoes with us, we can have fission chips for lunch.

After Laurent left there was a radio project to prepare.

Luckily I’d already done half a dozen live concerts in the past for another project when Liz and I ran “Radio Anglais” so I pinched one of those, wrote an introduction, dictated and edited it and merged it in to make an hour-long concert for this radio station.

Just like that!

yachts boat baie de mont st michel cancale brittany granville manche normandy france eric hallThat meant a very late lunch, unfortunately. And I was good and ready for it too by now.

It was a really beautiful afternoon, right enough, so I went outside and sat on my wall with my butties and my book. With the air being so clear these days we could wee right across to Cancale over there on the Brittany coast.

That’s about 18 miles away as the crow flies, yet you would never ever think so by looking at the photo.

fishing boats trawler baie de mont st michel port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallThe tide was coming in quite rapidly as I sat there. I could actually see it rising before my very eyes.

As a result one lot of fishing boats was heading out of the harbour to go to work while an earlier wave of boats was on its way back in to unload the morning’s catch.

There was the usual pile of pleasure boats too. Perhaps I ought to mention that it’s a Bank Holiday today and many people are off work.

Back here I made a start on the second week of my Accountancy course – but not for very long because it was time to go for my afternoon walk.

cabin cruiser marker buoy english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallWith it being such a beautiful day, there were the usual crowds out there.

This cabin cruiser was sitting in the sea quite a long way out and if I possessed a boat I would be out there too in this kind of weather.

There’s another one of those marker buoys there too, over there to the right of the boat. It’s hard to see because it’s black, and that’s not the best colour to have in the sea because it’s pretty difficult to see.

What’s wrong with yellow or orange?

people on beach plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallIt goes without saying that in this weather and a Bank Holiday too there are the usual crowds on the beach.

That means that in order to escape the madding crowds, people have to go further and further into the crooks and nannies in order to find some peace and quiet. And it doesn’t get much more isolated than the spot that they have chosen.

As an aside … “here we go!” – ed … I once told a friend that I had gone into the country to get a little piece and quiet.
“Don’t you mean ‘peace’?” he asked.
“No” I replied. “I mean ‘piece’, and I got one too, but she just wouldn’t keep quiet”

swimmer english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallStanding on the clifftop overlooking the sea I fell in with a neighbour of mine who was busy admiring the scenery

We spent quite a long time admiring the scenery and putting the world to rights, like you do. And our discussion was interrupted by the arrival of Captain Matthew Webb. Not exactly “swimming along the old canal”
“That carried the bricks to Lawley” though.

He was probably “paying a call at Dawley Bank on the way to his destination” but somehow missed his turning along the route.

crowds on beach plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallWe mantioned earlier something about the crowds on the beach and the necessity to find a quiet corner.

But there aren’t any crowds on the beach right now, and for the simple reason is that there isn’t much of a beach for them to be crowding on.

The tide is still well in and in a few minutes even that little bit of beach will be awash with water. Not that it’s stopping all of those people from taking to the waters. It was the right kind of day for it.

roofing place marechal foch granville manche normandy france eric hallRound at the lookout over the Place Marechal Foch I went to see how they were progressing with the re-roofing.

And the answer is “not as quickly as I was expecting”. They have done about two thirds of it and they have put some fancy galvanised covering over the dormer windows. But there is still plenty to do.

However it’s looking like a very neat job and it will be somethign to admire when it’s finished, sure enough.

yacht keeling over baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france eric hallThis was interesting too. I wasn’t sure what was going on with this particular yacht but, sensing that there was a catastrophe in the making, I stood there with bated breath and the camera at the ready.

But I was to be confounded yet again because the crew on board the yacht managed to straighten out the boat after making their very tight turn and sailed off into the sunset.

Or, at least, they would have done had this event taken place a couple of hours later.

But I was impressed with how they managed to get their boat upright again.

yacht boat towing dinghy baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france eric hallThere was plenty of other maritime activity out there this afternoon too.

There were the usual yachts of course, several of which we have seen already, but this boat that was slowly chugging past looked to be very interesting. I wasn’t sure whether it was a yacht with its mast down or a streamlined cabin cruiser, but it was making comfortable progress even if it was towing its dinghy behind it.

As for me, I had to make comfortable progress and came back to make myself a coffee.

There was also my Accountancy course to attack, but shame as it is to say it, I crashed out on the chair. Not just for five or ten minutes either but a really deep 45 minutes the like of which I used to have when this illness first took hold and which I thought that I had shaken off.

That’s a tragedy because I have so much to do and I’m just getting farther and farther behind.

When it came round to 18:00 I was still somewhere else in my head but I managed to get myself together and spend the usual hour on the guitars.

Tea was a stuffed pepper and rice, followed by apple pie and soya coconut cream.

cap frehel brittany coast granville manche normandy france eric hallAnd then it was time to go out for my evening runs.

With not feeling too goo, every step was agony but I made it all the way round on my normal route. But at the clifftop I had to stop and take a photo of the spectacular view.

And just why it’s spectacular is that over there is, I reckon, Cap Fréhel on the Brittany coast and that’s just a little over 70 kms away. It’s not every day that you can see that far down the coast from up here, and I had to perch up on top of one of the old Atlantic Wall bunkers to make the shot work.

joly france ferry terminal port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallRound by the ferry terminal was my next port of call.

Both of the Joly France boats are moored up at the ferry terminal this evening. I did hear that there had been excursions over to the Ile de Chausey today.

But Chausiais has at long last moved from her ad-hoc temporary mooring against the harbour wall. And not before time either, as far as I’m concerned. We’ve seen how quickly the tide rises and falls here and where she was, she risked being dashed against the wall, and that wouldn’t have done her much good.

chausiais port de granville habour manche normandy france eric hallSo I ran on down the Boulevard Vaufleury, ignoring a ribald remark that was directed in my direction, and when I’d recovered my breath at my resting place, I went down to overlook the harbour to see what was going on.

As usual, nothing very much, but at least we know where Chausiais has got to. She’s back on her mooring spot in the inner harbour where she’s out of the way of other traffic and the rising tide.

So having recovered my breath I ran on back all the way up the hill to the viewpoint at the rue du Nord to see what was happening there.

picnickers plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallAnd the answer to that is “not very much”.

But my picnickers are still out there having fun. And I’m sure that they must be multiplying because there are more and more of them.

Having made sure that there was nothing else happing I ran on home to write out my notes.

Having done that, I’m off to bed. I have more visitors tomorrow morning and there’s my Welsh class. And then one of these days I really do need to do somethign about all of these arrears.

This backlog is just getting out of hand. Its ridiculous.

Monday 14th October 2019 – SOMETIMES IT’S VERY HARD …

… to say goodbye to people with whom one has been associated for so long, but today is the day that I hit the road, Jack (or Jacques, seeing that I’ll be heading towards Quebec).

4th September I arrived in New Brunswick and apart from 10 days or so clearing out my storage unit in Montreal and visiting family and friends in Ottawa I’ve been here ever since.

If I’m not careful I’ll be putting down roots next, and that will never do. I was born under a wandering star, as the old song went, and I’m destined to wander for the rest of my life until, making reference to a certain posting 6 or so weeks ago when I was still aboard The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour, Charon ferries me across the River Styx.

With it being Thanksgiving (which reminds me, Happy Thanksgiving to all of my Canadian family and friends and new readers, et Bonne Action de Grace a toute le monde francophone Canadien) we had another lie-in this morning. Nothing like as dramatic as yesterday’s. Not quite so early in bed, a small disturbance during the night, and raising myself from the Dead round about 08:45. But still, I’ll take that over almost any other night that I’ve had for quite some considerable time.

Eventually there was some noise coming from the rest of the house so I went in to join the (af)fray. We had a reasonably heavy brunch, nothing like the legendary Sunday one but a good one nevertheless, and then hung around chatting for ages. Everyone seemed to be in a very sociable mood today.

With me heading for the hills, I managed to make the printer fire up so I could print off all of my travel documents ready for the trip. Another task accomplished.

This afternoon people had tasks to do so I busied myself packing and having another play around on the bass guitar before I put it away in Strider where it will live for the next foreseeable future.

A curry was on the agenda for supper so for a change Hannah and I attacked it. For some reason that I don’t understand, it didn’t taste anything like as good as any previous one that I have made. I hope that I’m not losing my touch!

But as for my carrot soup, well, what more can I say? All of the leftover carrots (because there were tons of them) steamed slowly to warm them up, with bay leaves for added flavour, and then simmered gently for a while in coconut milk with ginger. Finally the bay leaves were removed and the whole lot given a ride around in the whizzer.

Totally delicious.

Finished packing, and leaving a few things behind such as my spare clothes and my deck shoes, because I seem to have acquired a Tupperware microwave fryer and a pile of CDs somewhere on my travels and it won’t all fit in, and then Rachel took me down to Irvings in Florenceville and the Maritime Atlantic bus.

21:15 it was scheduled to arrive, and at 21:15 arrive it did. And remind me never to travel on a Bank Holiday or thereabouts because it was packed and it was a struggle to find a seat. What I did find though was a backpack under the seat, apparently left behind by someone who had alighted earlier, so I took it down to the driver.

We eventually arrived at Riviere du Loup where we all change buses. It was cold, miserable, wet and rainy but nevertheless I had a chat to the driver. He comes up all the way from Moncton, sleeps in the hotel next door, and then drives all the way back the following day. Reminded me of my days with Shearings when I used to do an overnight run every Friday night from Manchester to Glasgow and Edinburgh and return the following day.

And while I was chatting, someone came around “has anyone seen a black backpack?” so I passed him on to the driver.

So now I’m sitting on a seat in a draughty windswept crowded waiting room here waiting for my bus to Montreal to arrive. I’m reaching the end of this phase of my journey and who knows where I’m going to end up next?

As Winston Churchill once said after the British flight from the Germans at Dunkirk, “this is not the beginning of the end. It is merely the end of the beginning”.

Friday 4th October 2019 – TODAY WAS A …

… little more optimistic and hopeful than yesterday. Helped quite considerably by the fact that someone who had annoyed us intensely yesterday and who was the cause of everything going wrong kept well away from the premises and we could all concentrate on what we do best.

For my own part, I had a much better sleep last night. Awake once or twice during the night to dictate stuff onto the dictaphone, not that I remember too much about anything. But what I do recall is that judging by recent conversations that I’ve been having with myself during the night, it seems that I’ve managed to lay a couple of demons that have been haunting me for a while.

And having read that final phrase back to myself, I realise that I could have expressed that much better too and in a different way, otherwise my readers in Kugluktuk, Celbridge and Cahors will have completely the wrong idea of what I’m trying to say and that might lead to complications.

This morning the two kids managed to have a lift to school with the neighbour’s boy (he remembered to turn up today) and Rachel was in a hurry, so I had a leisurely start to the day.

A hot breakfast followed by a little relax and then I edited and uploaded another blog entry from my voyage on The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour. This concerned my visit to Hvalsey, one of the three important places in Greenland that I had really wanted to visit.

Up at the tyre depot I found everyone submerged in work. It’s the middle of the potato harvest but the torrential rain overnight had made digging impossible. Consequently every farmer and farm labourer in the whole of New Brunswick had sorted out all of the jobs that they had put off doing and dashed down to have them done right now.

Added to that, one of the printers, the one that we use most often, ran out of ink. And as the Accountancy program and the inventory are old Dos-shell based programs, the print manager wouldn’t change over the default printer in these programs to the reserve printer. I had to go through and change every single page by hand, and when the new ink arrives next week, I shall have to go back and change them all back again.

Mind you, it could be worse. They could have been GEM (Graphics Environment manager)-based programs and I haven’t worked in GEM since 1998.

And that reminds me – I have a computer that runs on GEM somewhere around.

After we finished work I went to the Irvings to fuel up Strider. Just on a quarter of a tank left and he’s done 479 kms. That’s a dramatic improvement on what has gone before, and I hope that when his new chip arrives, it’ll improve even more.

With everyone being out this evening I finished off the pasta from the other night and then watched the football. Cefn Druids v Bala Town in the Welsh Premier League. Bala were the better team in the first half and the Druids were somewhat aimless, but the score of 0-3 to Bala, and having two other goals disallowed for offside, was rather flattering. But a couple of substitutions for the Druids at half-time brought a much more stable team out for the second half and they actually played with a shape and with a purpose. But no more goals were scored, even though the match was quite entertaining.

That left me with a short time of not much going on, so I added another page to my voyage. I’m now at Brattahlid, home of Eric the Red and a second one of the three places that I desperately wanted to visit.

But unfortunately we didn’t make the third. Gardar, home of the Norse Catholic cathedral, was not accessible to us on this trip. I shall have to go back, but not tonight because I’m off to bed.

Friday 20th September 2019 – I’VE HAD A …

… bad day today.

Back here in mid-afternoon with nothing accomplished of what I had hoped to do, crashed out on the bed where I stayed for about three hours.

My exertions of the drive up from New Brunswick and the day spent walking around the city yesterday took their toll on me today.

And it all started off so good too. Four sound files dictated on the dictaphone during the night. And one of them – the last one – is of particular interest because it steps me back right into the exact spot where I left an earlier nocturnal voyage. And not the previous one, or even another one of last night’s journeys, but one from a couple of nights ago which I had briefly mentioned at the time.

And did I get the girl? Not ‘arf I did! Not quite with the same intensity of that which occurred to the well-known inmate of a certain religious establishment situated in a province of the modern-day Czech Republic but it was pretty damned near. What wouldn’t I have given for another 15 minutes of sleep on that occasion?

As I have said before, and on many previous occasions too, the life that I lead when I’m off on one of my nocturnal voyages is much more interesting and exciting than any kind of life that I have led in the real world and I wish that I could stay in that state rather permanently. In fact, several of my friends would certainly offer to help me in this respect.

Despite the alarms it was a struggle to leave the bed as I desperately tried to go back to sleep to carry on where I had left off, but to no avail unfortunately. So I left the bed and did a few things around here that needed doing.

At 10:00 I went off to find an adapter for the camera charger. And the price of carelessness and thoughtlessness worked out at just over $20:00 at Walmart. As I have said, I don’t ever make mistakes. I just learn some very expensive lessons.

The housekeeper chased me out of my room at midday which was just as well as the camera battery was now properly charged, and I took the metro to the Andrignon Metro terminus – the last terminus I had to visit on my tour around the Montreal Metro.

With it being a beautiful day I had a good walk around and eventually found a supermarket where a couple of bread rolls, a couple of tomatoes and a tub of hummus (on special offer) fell into my sweaty little mitt for lunch.

I took my supplies down to the Parc Andrignon and sat on the grass by the lake watching the ducks and feeding my face. A little walk afterwards and that was when I crashed. Not an ordinary tiredness but one of these deep intense ones that I have every now and again and which I haven’t had for a while.

These days I can recognise the symptoms so I fought them off as best as I could (which wasn’t very efficient) and caught the metro back here. And here I crashed out for three hours. Totally and completely. And I haven’t done anything of what I really intended to do.

Later on I took the Metro back to town. I wasn’t all that hungry – just a little snack would see me right. I alighted at the Baudry Metro station and walked along the rue St Catherine Est to see what was going on. There seems to be a new Mexican restaurant, the Tacos Frida, open and it served snacks too so I went in to have a try. I’ve had better food than this, but I’ve also had worse, and the price was quite realistic, which is important.

Mind you, their idea of piquant and mine are quite remarkably different.

The journey back was not without its moments, due mainly that the Papineau Metro Station does not have an entrance in the rue Papineau but in another one and that confused me for a while.

No Epinette in the supermarket next door now. I had the last bottle.

Now I’m making plans to move on. Fate awaits me tomorrow as I shall head off further west to Ottawa. “Travelling Eternity Road – what shall I find there?”, as the Moody Blues once sang. It’s been a while since I was in Ottawa but this time it’s not for tourism. I have other reasons to be there and I need to be on my best behaviour.

But let’s go to sleep first. Who knows where I’ll end up tonight? I imagine that my phantom reader from Celbridge in Ireland is gripping the edge of his seat in eager anticipation.

Saturday 7th September 2019 – I HAVE THROWN AWAY …

… a whole lifetime today.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I travel around the world in some kind of peripatetic idyll, all of my possessions either on my back or in one of my trucks (Caliburn in Europe, Strider in North America).

But today, up at the mill, I heaved almost all of my North American possessions into a skip (dumpster to you North Americans) and put an end to my nomadic lifestyle.

It’s simply that I can’t do it any more and it’s no point pretending that I can continue. Watching the blood count slowly decline over the last two years down to the critical level (which it must surely have reached by now seeing as I haven’t had it checked for almost 3 months) and knowing that my days are numbered, it’s just useless weight that I’m dragging around with me.

In a couple of weeks I’ll be up in Montreal and I’ll be emptying out my storage locker. The only thing that I’ll be salvaging from there will be the amplifier and speaker for the bass and the remainder will be joining the rest of the travelling gear in that great camp site in the sky.

That’ll be the first time in Montreal this year. It’s not like me, is it?

But I’ll tell you something. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall my mentioning the rather lively back end of Strider, how we travelled mainly sideways down a variety of gravel roads in Labrador. “Lively” back in those days had absolutely nothing on “lively” today, with almost nothing on the pick-up bed.

If I ever make it back to Labrador, we shall certainly be living in interesting times.

Having crowed about my really good nights just recently, it’s almost inevitable that they should catch up on me sooner or later.

And so it was last night.

For a start, we were still awake, the bass guitar and me, at well past midnight as I was picking away at various bass lines, unable to sleep. One thing about life on The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour is that it has pumped music back into my soul.

But when I finally did manage to drop off, the dictaphone tell its own story. There’s a record on average about every 20 minutes over a three-hour period, and what I do remember from the various nocturnal rambles is that every single one of them concerned Castor pursuing me around the ship.

Not that I’m complaining of course. Usually, anyone pursuing me anywhere would be almost certainly brandishing the kind of offensive weapon that would paralyse a polar bear, so it makes a nice change to be pursued by pleasant company. What I don’t understand is why I thought it necessary to run away. I’m definitely losing my grip.

Once all of that was over I was up and about, only to find that we had run out of bread for breakfast. With Zoe not coming back last night, we hadn’t been to the shops had we?

Instead Rachel and I went straight up to the garage and made coffee, and slowly woke up.

Then it was that I attacked the emptying of Strider and that took me almost up to lunchtime. But lunchtime was late – there was a queue of trucks needing attention in the workshop and we couldn’t move one out until almost 12:45.

Zoe, who had by now put in an appearance, and I shot back to the house, picked up all of her belongings and, now that Strider was almost empty, whipped them down to her new house. And I’m glad that we had emptied Strider because by the time we got to Woodstock we were half a million strong and there wasn’t much room inside the truck.

Atlantic Superstore was next for a week or two’s load of vegan food so that I can eat properly, and also due to the fact that we are having another vegan messing with us for a while.

There’s a hurricane threatening here and out in the sticks a back-up generator is necessary. But believe it or not, in a household with 6 cars, three trucks, two heavy trucks and assorted 4-wheelers, snowmobiles, golf carts and Amber’s motor scooter, there wasn’t a drop of spare fuel.

Consequently Hannah had thrown a pile of empty fuel cans into the back of Strider and I came back from Irvings at Woodstock with 157.6 litres of petrol in the back of Strider. The rear end of Strider wasn’t bouncing around at all then!

Next stop was back at the garage. Darren had a rear wheel bearing, driveshaft oil seal, brake disk and caliper to change on the rear of a Chevrolet D5500 heavy truck – the one that I drove down to New Hampshire a couple of years ago to take that racing engine for repair.

It’s not difficult task but it’s heavy, dirty and complex, and four hands are always better than two working down a cramped inspection pit.

The task involved a judicious amount of heat and with an oxy-acetylene welding torch it brought back many happy memories. The last time that I did any welding on a car was the old Passat back in 1997 but that was with the mig-welder. With oxy-acetylene, the last time that I did any welding was stitching Nerina’s Ford Fiasco back together back in something like 1991. When I had my taxi company I was probably welding up one car or other almost every day.

We’d finished by about 18:00 and staggered off back home.

And I couldn’t resist a smile. Driving 20 miles with 157 litres of petrol floating around in the back of the truck and having to invent a makeshift stopper for one of the cans – getting out the oxy-acetylene welding bottles – crawling around an inspection pit in a garage taking driveshafts out of lorries and showering myself in Hypoid 90 – I thought that I had left all of that behind me more than 30 years ago.

You can take the boy out of Crewe right enough, but you can’t ever take Crewe out of the boy.

But then that’s why I like New Brunswick. It’s about 50 years behind the times and suits me perfectly.

Rachel came to awaken me later. It seems that I had crashed out for a while (hardly a surprise) and it was now tea-time. A chick pea curry which was delicious, and then we were descended upon by hordes of people. Amber is having a party and despite the rain and the winds, there are dozens of teenagers all attired in a variety of swimwear and heading for the hot tub outside.

I’ve locked myself in my room with the bass guitar and I am refusing to come out until the coast is clear. It’s a good job that it’s Sunday tomorrow and a lie-in is on the cards. I think that I’m going to need it.

Friday 21st June 2019 – YET ANOTHER …

… day where I’ve not been able to do anything like as much as I would have liked.

I had an exciting night though. And what a night it was! I started off in the Free French infantry or Resistance or something, trying to track down something that had gone on at a certain crossroads. I’d been out there in Caliburn a few times but I’d never managed to see the mayor or never managed to find out very much about any of this. So there I was on a Saturday morning, there was a train at 08:58. It was 08:48 and I was just getting to the station. I had all these plans to go to see whatever it was at these crossroads. I had to walk on foot from the station at the other end, hope that the mayor would be in on a Saturday morning and I could get some answers and have a physical visit of the spot. I felt that it was going to be a really long walk for me at all.

Later on, I was on the Ocean Endeavour talking to some people about the possibility of hiring it. We discussed the ship – that it was old and not luxurious and needed one or two little things to make it better like a coat of paint and de-rusting, things like that. They were saying that it was free on December and January and how to get in touch. Here’s the number – it’s this company here on the internet that you need to contact. They asked what I had in mind for it, but I didn’t want to tell them because what I had in mind was something that they might not like – it’s up to the people who wanted to hire it to negotiate. This company who owned it looked extremely interesting because they owned all kinds of car ferries, with routes going across the South Atlantic and South Pacific, car ferries. And if that’s the case I was hoping to get down there with Caliburn and see where we could all go.

And later on yet, I was out with a patrol of cowboys kind of people and we were hunting down some Indians. We came across where these were and they threatened to attack us. So we dug ourselves into firepits or trenches. There was one guy there who wouldn’t dig himself in. he was the officer of the troop we had come out to relieve. His excuse was that he had no shovel so someone gave him one, a short blue one, but he wouldn’t dig, coming out with something else, clearly not interested in digging, wanting someone else to dig it for him I imagine. We were quickly in these firepits and disporting ourselves around, a case of who was going to defend what, who would fire at what? What happened if they got in behind us? But that wasn’t too much of a problem because there was a little cave facing behind us and in there they had secreted a guy with a Maxim gun so if they came behind us he could take care of them and the noise of the Maxim would alert us.

There was much more too, including a trip to the library somewhere along the line.

All of this led to a rather late start. I’d heard the alarms go off but it was more like 06:45 when I crawled out of bed.

After breakfast I had a go at transcribing the dictaphone notes – the stuff from last night and then some stuff out of the backlog. And the backlog is now down to just 34. Doing 7 per day will give me just enough time before I leave, although I’ll be pushed to do that, as I will explain in due course.

Some of these files were quite large and what with various interruptions that took me right up until lunchtime, which was taken indoors because as I was making my sandwiches, they all fell apart and I ended up with a mixed salad.

This afternoon was a paper-chase looking for all of the bits and pieces relating to my medical examinations, and then I set out.

Firstly to the estate agent’s to give them a copy of my insurance certificate and to check that I was up-to-date with everything before I leave (I am).

Next was the railway station to check train times because I’ve had some good news, to wit that I need to present myself at the Préfecture at St-Lô on Tuesday morning between 08:30 and 12:00.

That means a train at … gulp … 06:57, something to which I am not looking forward at all.

Then to the laboratory for all of my test results. I’ve no idea what they might mean, so I telephoned the doctor and arranged an appointment for Monday at 08:45 to have them interpreted.

I’ve no idea what the outcome would be, but if it requires any action after Wednesday it will be rather a shame, won’t it?

Back into town and the library book sale. No books that interested me unfortunately, but there was a copy of Humble Pie’s “Live at the Whisky a-Go-Go” for just €2:50. A magnificent live album including a 21:25 version of “I Walk On Gilded Splinters”.

Seeing as how beautiful it was today, I treated myself to a sorbet while I was out – a coconut and mint one. I felt that I deserved it.

Rosemary rang me up when I returned and we had a lengthy chat that took me right up to tea-time. A vegan burger on a bap with oven chips and the rest of the baked beans from the other day.

Later on, when it was going dark, I went out for a walk.

It’s the musical evening tonight with groups set up all over the town in various corners.

I made a few interesting discoveries – a bassist playing with a very rare acoustic dobro bass, and another bassist playing with a Rickenbacker 4003.

In the darkening evening I had a good wander round, experimenting with the low ISO settings on the new camera.

It’s not too bad down to about ISO51200 but beyond there the quality drops off quite rapidly. At H2.0 it’s unusable.

But it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to take photos at 1/640 in the dark with a 18/300 zoom lens. I’m itching to get out and about with the 50mm f1.8 lens in the dark.

When I went back to see the group with the Rickenbacker, they were just finishing, which was rather a disappointment because I was intending to stick out and hear the rest of the set.

But I did manage to have a chat with the guy with the Rickenbacker. He was quite sociable, unlike the last Rickenbacker player who I had met at the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival in Fredericton, New Brunswick.

They are still making them apparently, but I don’t imagine that they would be as good as those of the 1960s.

So despite wanting a early night, I was editing the photos until i don’t know what time. That’s going to set me up for a good day tomorrow, isn’t it?

Monday 11th March 2019 – FOR THE FIRST …

… time since the football over two weeks ago, I had a mug of coffee – when I was at Liz and Terry’s. In fact I had two.

And that probably explains why I was still wide awake working on the computer this morning at 02:30, unable to sleep.

Eventually, I did manage to go to bed. And a short while later I did actually go to sleep.

When the alarms went off at 06:00,06:10 and 06:20 there was absolutely no danger of my leaving my little bed. 09:05 was mush more of a respectable time given the circumstances.

As a result, we can almost dismiss the morning as a write-off. by the time I settled down to do some work it was 12:20.

One thing that I had done was to get on the phone to my web hosts. My domain names need renewal and for some reason the direct debiting wasn’t working.

After several attempts I was connected to the French helpline where the formalities were completed. And I was struck by the accent of the girl to whom I was speaking. it turns out that not only was she a French speaker from Acadie in New Brunswick, she was actually there, and my call had been diverted to Canada.

a little later I nipped out to Caliburn. the memory card in the dashcam in Caliburn had filled up yesterday so I’d brought it in with me. This morning I uploaded all of the media onto the hard drive and then took the empty card back down to keep as a spare.

One of my neighbours was out there so we had a chat. But freezing in the howling wind, I came in quickly.

Lunch was as usual, and then I set to work with the shredder. Another huge mound of paper has gone to meet its maker and another day or two will see the rest of it on its way. And then there’s more to attack, to keep me out of mischief for the next 6 months.

armor charles marie la granvillaise chantier navale port de granville harbour manche normandy franceThis afternoon I braved the hurricane and went outside, bumping into another neighbour on the way.

Nothing much happening out there, except at the chantier navale where Armor, Charles-Marie and La Granvillaise were receiving attention.

But the funfair seems to have gone, and so does Neptune. She set off at 06:08 on her way to Whitstable.

chocolate birthday cake liz terry messenger granville manche normandy franceBack here, I opened my birthday present from Liz and Terry. A gorgeous chocolate cake.

It won’t keep for too long and seeing as I’m off to Belgium on Thursday half of it went straight into the fridge.

But I also cut myself off a slice to taste. And it’s delicious, as you might expect. As I have now run out of apple pie, I’ll be having a slice here and there for pudding with my coconut-flavoured soya cream.

Rosemary rang me up later and we had quite a chat – 1:33 of it, to be precise. She’s back now in France and here she intends to stay.

Tea was the pizza that I should have had yesterday, followed by the last slice of apple pie.

moonlight night ile de chausey granville manche normandy franceAnd then the walk around the walls.

There was only a thin sliver of moon but with the clear sky there was a beautiful reflection on the sea.

The wind had dropped and it was cold, but there was no-one around at all, apart from a new black cat that came for a stroke.

So now I’m going to bed. Nice and early. I want to have an early start tomorrow as I have a lot to do.

But before I go, spare a thought for my niece’s eldest daughter. Her boyfriend was seriously ill and his chances of survival were slight. He had proposed marriage to her and they tied the knot on Christmas Eve.

Unfortunately their time together was short. He passed away on Saturday morning.

Poor Zoe.

Friday 31st August 2018 – THIS EVENING JOSEE ASKED ME …

… what I had done during the course of the day and, do you know what? I was hard-pressed to remember.

I’m definitely cracking up, aren’t I?

One thing that I do remember was being awoken by the fridge and the air-conditioning, which seem to be programmed to come on together at about 04:30 or something like that.

However I was quickly back to sleep again until the alarm went off at 05:20.

For some reason or other the morning went really quickly. I had just the usual amount of work to do but there just wasn’t enough time to do it, even with only a short pause for breakfast, and in the end I ran out of time to do it.

Instead, I went off down to the Jean Coutu chemists in rue St Catherine Est. And this is another place where the staff are so unhelpful.

It’s a huge chemist’s with all kinds of stuff on sale – just the kind of place where you need some professional advice – but there was no-one on the floor. In the end I buttonholed a shelf-filler and she told me “aisle 6” – but there was nothing in aisle 6 that I could see that was of any use to me.

As I have said … “and on many occasions too” – ed … I just don’t know what has happened to North American customer service.

Having dropped off my purchases (such as they were) at my hotel room, my next stop was the bus station. I need to book a ticket from Florenceville-Bristol to Montreal.

But even here I didn’t have any luck.

Montreal is serviced by the Orleans Express coach company, and New Brunswick by Coach Atlantic. And as my trip starts in New Brunswick it has to be made with Coach Atlantic and not Orleans Express. So that was rather a waste of time.

Still, you live and learn.

The next stage of my walk took me down to the port.

Having had to go into the Berri-UQAM metro station to renew my transport ticket and being confused about the exit, I found myself a-wandering down through the CHUM (Centre Hospitalier de L’Université de Montreal) campus, where I had never been before…

champ de mars montreal canada august aout 2018Bursting out into the sunlight at the back of the hospital it took me a second or two to get my bearings.

And then I realised that I had come out at the back of the Champ de Mars.

I walked along the Avenue Viger for a moment to admire the buildings across the Boulevard Ville-Marie. These are some of the Government and the City’s administration buildings

From there I wandered down to the harbour for a good stroll. MSC Alyssa had gone, but Oakglen and Gullwing were still there.

chestnut port de montreal harbour canada august aout 2018We also had a new arrival.

Moored up at one of the inner berths near the entrance to the Lachine Canal was a ship called the Chestnut. There was a good view of her from up on one of the upper piers

Although she might not look it, she was built as recently as 2010 and has a gross tonnage of about 20,000 tonnes. She had called in on her way from Bayuquan in China to Hamilton, Ontario.

promenade port de montreal harbour canada august aout 2018There were quite a few good views from up here too.

One of them was of the promenade and the park down on the quayside. I’d not seen it from this perspective before.

I also saw in the distance two railway locomotives heading down towards the port. So I waited for them to arrive. But just before they got into range they stopped, reversed and never came back.

amphi tours montreal canada august aout 2018We’ve seen one of these before, haven’t we?

Back in Halifax when we were there in 2010 of course, wandering around the town with fare-paying passengers on a sightseeing tour.

And so there’s another one here in Montreal doing a similar job. And if I’m not mistaken, I might have seen if before.

site of marguerite bourgeoys school montreal canada august aout 2018I’m not sure if I’ve seen this building before though.

It’s not the building that interests me – nice though it is – but it’s the fact that on the spot where it’s situated is said to have been the site of the first school run by Marguerite Bourgeoys

We are told that her school was created in 1658 and was in an old stone stable given to her for the purpose

citroen 2cv montreal canada august aout 2018This is even more exciting.

Of course, 2CV citroens are two-a-penny (figuratively speaking) back home in France and so hardly noteworthy. But here in Canada, this one is only the second that I have ever seen

and if the registration number on it is correct, it comes from the Ile-de-France – Paris-Banlieux district of Val-de-Marne.

By now it was long-after lunchtime so I stopped off at a Subway for a sandwich and a drink. And something of a rest because it seemed as if I’d been on my feet for quite a while.

Another thing was that I needed a few bits and pieces to make my sandwiches for the flight. Not that I might need them because, after all, we were only going to be a couple of hours in the air, but I’ve been caught out like this before, as regular readers of this rubbish will remember.

gare montreal metro st michel canada august aout 2018One thing that I’ve been doing while I’ve been on my perambulations around Montreal is to go to the terminus of each of the metro lines to see what happens there.

I didn’t recall having been to Saint-Michel before so now seemed to be as good a time as any.

But I was in a sense disappointed because I recognised it from some time ago. Once when I’d been out to the Galeries d’Anjou and I had walked back.

But never mind that now. I took a photo of it and walked back in the oppressive heat to the metro Jean Talon, making a few stops in the shade on the way back for a rest.

Josée was awaiting me at the Metro Place d’Arts. Apparently she had been able to leave work early.

four drummers free concert centre desjardins montreal canada august aout 2018Hearing some kind of noise from within the Centre Desjardins, we went in for a look around to see what was going on.

It turned out to be a group of no fewer than four drummers giving a free concert.

Not the kind of thing that you might have expected, but it was certainly interesting. I actually enjoyed it.

We went to watch the pavement chess for a while and then headed off for food and drink.

First stop was Josée’s favourite bar – the one that we visited on a previous occasion where they have the rather artistic toilets.

Next stop was the food, and having had a late lunch, I wasn’t all that hungry so settled for a bag of chips. Josee had a hamburger

Now here’s a thing.

Anyone who has ever known anything at all about will know that due to certain events in my childhood I have a horror of musicals. I shan’t dwell on it here, except to say that when Josée invited me to the Opera I was perturbed.

But as I have said before, it’s not where you are or what you are doing, but who you are with that counts so I tagged along.

Whether or not I like opera, I can always recognise good music and good singing when I hear it and there’s no doubt that even given the weaknesses of the story in Madame Butterfly, the performance was excellent. Josée wasn’t a big fan of the direction but I thought that it was particularly good.

All in all, it was a far better night that I was expecting it to be.

Josée wandered off home again and I went to my hotel. First job is to make my butties.

Second job was to make sure that everything was packed.

Third job was to do my best to crash out. I’ve an early start in the morning.

Saturday 16th December 2017 – AND AS BARRY HAY …

… once famously said – “there’s one thing that I want to tell you, man, and that it’s goof to be back home”.

Mind you, I nearly didn’t make it, because I didn’t have a very good day.

Sherlock Holmes – or rather Arthur Wontner – did the trick last night. I managed about 2 minutes of the film before I was away with the fairies. All of my walking – 155% of my daily exercise – had seen to that.

Mind you – if I do lay my hands on the person who decided that it would be fun to slam all of the doors in the building at 04:18 this morning he would be someone else who will be drinking soup through a straw for the foreseeable future.

None of that prevented me from going off on my travels though. I was in some kind of warehouse plece with a few other people chasing after a long-haired cat – a black mangy type of animal – with the intention of stroking it. But it disappeared from my view and I couldn’t remember what it was that I was supposed to be chasing and found myself chasing after a large wasp. Just imagine trying to give that a stroke!

This morning I wasn’t feeling so good. I had a bad attack of nausea that made me quite unsteady on my feet. But I managed to calm myself down intime to go searching for a bakkerei. I trawled the streets for 15 minutes before I found a supermarket, and only realised on the way back that had I turned right out of the alley instead of left, the first door in that direction would have sold me a baguette.

I made my butties for the journey but had run out of time so no shower – I can wait until I return home for that.

The train to Brussels was pretty uneventful but the bad news there was that to catch the earlier train would have cost me an extra €46:00. That’s not part of the plan at all so I sat down quietly in a very cold, draughty waiting area and read my book for a while.

The Thalys was one of the older generation of trains with everything manual and I couldn’t make the wi-fi work. But that’s not the end of the world at all really. I have plenty of other things to do.

Apart from visiting the bathroom I slept almost all of the way to Paris, and then I managed to cross Paris on the metro without any incident – and isn’t that a change for just recently?

The walk down the platform to Vaugirard was pretty uneventful, except that some woman was urging her mother on, in the most ungracious terms, to hurry for the train. Mummy was about 80 and so this situation brought back some memories from a previous existence.

They missed their train but there was another one in half an hour so they had to run all the way back to the ticket office to swap tickets and then run all the way back.

The look of despair on this old woman’s face was something that I shan’t ever forget.

But Vaugirard was packed out completely. I’ve never seen it so busy. Apparently it’s school holidays starting today. I grabbed a seat in the waiting room next to a nice girl who was going to Granville from Martinique for Christmas – the last seat available. We had quite a chat and I had to fight people out of her seat when she nipped to the bathroom.

The train was packed to the gunwhales with people and once again, I slept most of the way back. But on the station I bumped into my girl from the waiting room and I wished her a Merry .

Then began the long trudge back here.

It was cold in here, which is no surprise, but I had the heating on full blast while I watched Bangor City beat Cefn Druids on the laptop. The little laptop because the big one decided that it would do an upgrade as soon as I switched it on, and that took hours.

Tea was once more out of a tin, and then I went for a walk – for no good reason other than the fact that I was at 89% of my daily activity. I might as well wind it up to 100% – as it has been for every day this week.

Now it’s an early night. i’ll watch a film too. That seems to be working well right now.

Tuesday 10th October 2017 – JUST HOW SILLY …

… can you get?

There I was with an appointment to go out for an evening meal with Josée and we arranged that she would telephone me when she finished work and came outside.

And so she did. She telephoned me at 16:30 and 16:30, sent me a couple of texts, a message or two on my social media page, and then became fed up and went home.

And where was I when all of this was going on?

In case you haven’t guessed, I was flat out on my bed, well away with the fairies and totally inconscient of anything that was going on. And I must have been too, to have slept through the cacophony that was going on.

keolis orleans express montreal quebec canada september septembre 2017I blame the bus myself.

I can’t sleep on buses (except whrnI’m driving them). At best, I just fitfully doze and let every bump shake me awake.

But that doesn’t apply to everyone. As we pulled into Montreal a girl suddenly stood bolt upright.
“Is this Montreal?” she asked, in a panic
“Yes it is” replied the driver.
“What happened to Sainte-Foy?”
“We stopped there and everyone there got off”
“But I should have got off” she wailed.
“Not much I can do about that” said the driver. “I can’t go around waking everyone up to see if it’s their stop”.

The bus was quite busy too. Everyone going back after Thanksgiving with the family.

We were 10 minutes late getting into the Bus Station. 06:10. Far too early to go to my hotel and so I sat around with a coffee and did some work.

And if you think that our family tree is complicated, you ain’t heard nuffink yet.

Apparently my mother any my aunt were daughters of their mother (my grandmother Ivy)’s SECOND marriage. That’s a new one on me. Ivy had apparently been married before to someone called Cyril Ralphrul Hogg who had been her singing tutor.

He was apparently quite famous and had studied at the Conservatory in Vienna.

They married in July 1918 but he was swept away in the Spanish Influenza outbreak of December 1918.

Now that took me by surprise.

At 09:00 I took my stuff round the corner to the hotel and left it there. Of course my room wasn’t ready so I went round the corner to Tim Hortons for breakfast.

gare viger montreal quebec canada september septembre 2017From there I decided to go down to the docks to see what was happening.

My route took me close to the Gare Viger, which, asregular readers of this rubbish will recall, is my favourite building in the whole of the city.

We haven’t seen it from this angle before though. It looks quite eerie with the morning sun reflecting off the autumn leaves of the trees.

barnacle port montreal quebec canada september septembre 2017Our walk continues round to the docks to see who is there.

The Winnipeg is still there of course, but we also have the Barnacle. She’s a bulk carrier of 30,000 tonnes and is on her way to Ghent in Belgium from Hamilton in Ontario.

her cargo is “Agricultural Products” – by which, presumably, they may well mean “wheat”. Montreal is one of the world’s biggest ports for the handling of wheat.

vieux port montreal quebec canada september septembre 2017. There doesn’t seem to be a great deal of activity around the rest of the commercial part do I wander off down to the old port.

Not too much going on around here either but at least there’s a good view of the city from here. It’s looking quite splendid in the early morning autumn sunlight.

And you can see the twin towers of the cathedral right in the centre of the image.

artania montreal quebec canada september septembre 2017However, at the cruise terminal we have the Artania of 44,000 tonnes. Operatedby a German cruise company, she set out from Hamburg on 22nd September.

But don’t let appearances fool you.

Despite having just crossed the Atlantic with a load of passengers, had she been simply going back and forth across the English Channel she would have been scrapped long ago because she is actually 33 years old

She was built in 1984 and sailed for many years as the P&O liner Royal Princess.

woman taking dogs for a run montreal quebec canada september septembre 2017I’d caught a glimpse of a container ship down in the Oceanex container terminal so, with nothing better to do, I headed that way.

However, my perambulations were interrupted by this most bizarre spectacle of a woman taking several dogs for a job.

You might think that it’s hilarious but the poor little dog being dragged behind, clearly unable to keep up wasn’t enjoying it one little bit every time their leader broke into a run.

oceanex avalon montreal quebec canada september septembre 2017So here in the Oceanex terminal s the Oceanex Avalon.

She’s a small container ship of 14500 tonnes and seems to work a shuttle between St Johns in Newfoundland, Saint John in New Brunswick and here.

I imagine that rather than half-unload a huge container ship at Saint John and have her shuttling around, they will completely unload her for a faster turnaround and have the Oceanex Avalon doing the distribution.

I had a wander around the port to see if there was a better view, but not today.

montreal quebec canada september septembre 2017On the way back I walked down alongside the Lachine Canal and today for some reason you could clearly see where the former dry docks used to be.

I can’t think why it was never so noticeable as this before.

But like most canal-side enterprises they have long-gone. Montreal has lost a lot of its importance since it started on this monolingual anti-English crusade.

workmen testing concrete flyover montreal quebec canada september septembre 2017But this was interesting to stand and watch.

We’ve seen … "on several occasions" – ed … the shambolic nature of much of the city’s concrete infrastructure as it weathers and disintegrates.

These men were up on a sky jack tapping the concrete supports of the flyover with a hammer to see whether the concrete was still sound, or whether it was being eroded away from within.

site of ville marie montreal quebec canada september septembre 2017One thing that I haven’t yet done – and I can’t think why- is to go to visit the site of “Ville-Marie”.

That was the original name of Montreal, but it’s more properly applied to the site where the first European colonists installed their settlement

As far as it’s possible to tell these things, that column just there marks the centre of the original settlement. We can’t go to visit it for a closer look unfortunately.

site of first parliament montreal quebec canada september septembre 2017That’s because the Place d’Youville, site of St Anne’s Market, is currently undergoing archaeological excavation and everywhere is fenced off.

This is a historically important site because St Anne’s Market became home of the Canadian Parliament in 1844, moving here from Kingston in Ontario.

That was a controversial move and in 1849 during a debate to consider the losses that had been incurred by the population during the rebellion of 1837-38, a mob stormed the building and burnt it to the ground.

From here I went for a butty and then back to the hotel to sign in for my room, followed by all the nonsense that I mentioned earlier.

Later, I went for a walk and something to eat at the little Lebanese restaurant at Sherbrooke. And here, I watched a television debate that rather amused me. Should the captain of the “Montreal Impact” football team be a French-speaker?

You can tell what kind of society you are dealing with in Quebec when a person’s language ability is considered to be more important than his professional qualifications.

Monday 9th October 2017 – HAPPY THANKSGIVING

And everyone around here is celebrating and giving thanks – for tonight I’ll be on the bus back to Montreal – always assuming that it doesn’t forget me like last year.

I’d had a really early night again last night – alone again, as it happens, and I’d been off on my travels again. back in Virlet as it happens, and everyone was poking fun at me, although there didn’t seem to be any reason why. But I approached the Secretary of the Commune and she explained to me that I was wearing odd shoes. I had a look, and it took quite some doing, even on a close inspection, to see that they were different. How anyone else had noticed from a distance away at a casual glance was beyond me. I asked which “pair” she preferred, and she replied that the “dark blue” shoes were preferable. However they looked the same colour to me and while it might have been dark blue in reality, on my travels last night I reckoned that they were black. So off I trotted back home to look for a matching shoe, but instead found a pair that were a real pair, but were black, and nothing like as highly-polished as the ones that I was wearing (because they really were highly polished). And so, do I ignore the catty remarks, do I carry on hunting for “the other shoe” or do I put on the black, dirty shoes and if so how would everyone else in the village react?

When my alarm went off I went off to ride the porcelain horse, and encountered Cujo the Killer Cat on the way back. I went back to bed seeing as no-one else was stirring, and she stayed there with me for a while before disappearing off.

Eventually, the clatter of dishes from the kitchen told me that Rachel was up and about so I went to help her prepare the breakfast brunch. Famous the whole world over, as I have said.

My share of the breakfast was the beans on toast with hash browns and one of my vegan burgers.

In the afternoon, Amber’s boyfriend came round and we all chilled out and did precisely nothing at all. Round about 14:30, Hannah and her friend left to go back to University at Antigonish and the rest of us, having said goodbye, carried on chatting.

Tea for me was the rest of the vegan burgers, the rest of the beans, and some left-over potatoes from the Thanksgiving meal, followed by rice pudding ditto. Then I went for a shower to wake myself up.

At 19:45 I took my leave of everyone and Rachel drove me to Florenceville and the bus stop. We were an hour early which I preferred after the dreadful performance last year that inconvenienced just about everyone except the bus driver.

We weren’t alone either. One of Rachel’s neighbours was there, putting her son on the bus back to Montreal where he’s at University studying aero-engineering.

maritime coach atlantic riviere du loup quebec canada september septembre 2017We were there quite early, as I have said.

And so, as you might expect, the bus was late arriving.

And Coach Atlantic is spending its money too, so it seems, because this was a modern, clean, comfortable coach, which makes a change from one or two that we’ve travelled on.

Not to say that they were ever dirty or uncomfortable – far from it. But they were starting to become rather long in the tooth. This one was brand-spanking new, with wi-fi, but, alas, still with no power points.

And no data tracker too. Most buses and coaches these days have data trackers fitted so that you can go to the website of the company and see where the bus or coach is. Once Coach Atlantic fits these to their coaches, there won’t be any of this “missing the bus” or waiting around for well over an hour in the pouring rain.

Because pouring rain was what we had had all day. I’d never seen anything like this rain. Heavy, yes, but not persistently so all day.

So having dozed all the way to the St Lawrence, I’m now at Riviere du Loup waiting for the bus that’s coming from the Gaspé that will take me on to Montreal.

It’s always a long night on the overnight bus but at least I don’t have far to stagger from the bus terminal to the hotel where i’ll be staying until tomorrow evening.

8th October 2017 – CUJO THE KILLER CAT …

… didn’t come to visit me last night.

And that’s just as well, because I wasn’t there.

I’m not sure where we started off last night, or even who I was with, but I can tell you exactly where we finished – and that was where we have finished quite a few times just recently, with Ford Cortinas scattered across various lock-ups in various parts of Crewe. It’s a few times that we’ve been in this situation, and I’m not sure why.
We moved on from here. I was an undercover policeman working in a partnership with a female policewoman. We had booked into a hotel undercover as man and wife in order to have a close look at the hotel’s security arrangements. But it all went wrong when I caught a young guy trying to steal a car – a Hillman Minx V or VI, and left-hand-drive too, from the hotel car park. He had a “health crisis” when we was caught, and it became obvious from my response to it all that I was a policeman and not who I was pretending to be.
And if that isn’t enough, I was in digs in a dingy seaside town when I heard that Michael, a boy from my school, was also in digs there. I went round to see him and his landlady knocked on his door to say that he had a visitor. He came out and, not recognising me, walked right past me. From there I ended up sitting in a church. It was a multi-denominational one and I was getting married, at the same time as someone else.They were catholic so they were on the right side, and I was a protestant so I took up my position on the front row to the left of the aisle.But there was only me, and more and more of the others so I was gradually crowded off my bench. I ended up outside with a fold-up chair with another few people, chatting to a young girl, and we watched a girl of about 5 go past in a full-length burqa. I made some remark about the “photographer” to this girl. Just then my bride arrived. It was Nerina. I offered her my fold-up chair but she went to sit on an empty bench nearby, near this girl who was sitting in a sand heap. I introduced them and much to my surprise Nerina was being sociable, chatting and playing cards with her. Not like Nerina at all.

But the second reason was that I was in bed by 20:00, curled up with the door closed, fast asleep. Even if Cujo the Killer Cat had wanted to come into my room, she wouldn’t have been able to.

I had to go off a few times during the night as well – down the corridor to ride the porcelain horse. And that’s just as well because I would probably still be in bed right now.

Everyone else had a lie-in this morning – there wasn’t much movement around until about 11:00 – not that that is unusual for a Sunday around here of course, as well you all know.

No Sunday brunch though. The Taylor breakfast brunches are famous the whole world over and people travel miles to participate. But today we are going out for lunch. Tonight will be my last night here (and isn’t that a shame? Hasn’t that gone quickly?) and so I’ve invited everyone out for lunch.

We crossed over into the USA and fighting the rainstorms, headed off for Presque Isle, Maine. There’s a Chinese restaurant there, the Oriental Pearl, that everyone likes that does a Sunday buffet lunch, and they do a vegetable and tofu stir-fry for me.

That took us several hours, and then Darren had a surprise for me. They have been expanding the shopping mall down the road, and one of the new businesses that has installed itself in there is Harbor Freight. Huge auto and tool suppliers they are, and I’ve visited their stores on many occasions. But it’s nice to see one in this particular neck of the woods.

Our exit coincided almost exactly with the exit of the girls from JC Penney’s – that couldn’t have been timed better – and we went across the road to Marden’s.

Marden’s is one of those chains of shops that buys up bankrupt stock, fire-damaged stock, all that kind of thing, and they are veritable Aladdin’s Caves of all kinds of things. Most of the tools and accessories in Strider come from there.

We had the usual complications at the border coming back, and then we all launched into something exciting.

A while ago, Hannah and Darren sent their DNA away to be analysed, and the results came back today. Their roots are clearly identified with Darren having Irish/Scandinavian ancestry (which ties in with the Viking settlements over there) and Hannah, as well as that, having British ancestry with a bit of Mediterranean thrown in for good measure (which ties in with what we know about her mother’s side).

That’s led of to a massive ancestry search and there have been all sorts of exciting things being thrown up the research. Mostly on her father’s side and some on ours too, which is interesting.

Anyway, I’m off to bed and I’ll leave them to it. Doubtless there will be more surprises being thrown up during the night.

Saturday 7th October 2017 – STRIDER’S FIRST …

strider towing tralier centreville new brunswick canada september septembre 2017… tow job.

And it very likely was too, because all of the electrics on the trailer plug were totally corroded. It took an hour to clean them off and grease them.

And in the end, we only had direction indicators too, but that was good enough to go.

Here in Canada, recycling is big business. And I do mean “business” too. Most of the glass bottles and plastic containers require a deposit, and there’s cash to be earned from aluminium soft drinks cans too.

But remembering where you bought each article and taking them back to the correct shop is a nightmare, so some enterprising people have set up central collection points where you can take your empties, they redeem them from you, and they handle the returns to the various shops.

Amber is fundraising for a school trip to Washington DC in the Spring so she’s been collecting from friends and neighbours. Today, we loaded everything into the small enclosed trailer, under the careful supervision of one of the mill cats, and took it down to the Centre in Bristol.

And you’d be surprised how much we earned too!

It wasn’t as easy as it sounded too. The trailer was stuck deep in the undergrowth and I had to attach a chain to Strider to pull it out.

And then the tow ball was the wrong size so we had to find a smaller one and swap them over. And then the electrics.

Rachel came with us so Strider also had his first rear-seat passenger. There are a couple of pop-up dickey seats in the half-cab at the back and Amber perched on one of those. She refused to travel in the cage.

Another thing as well was that despite being out of practice, not having done it for years, I reversed the trailer exactly where I needed it to be, and on several occasions too, quite often into very small gaps. I was proud of that.

I wasn’t quite right about last night though. Cujo the Killer Cat didn’t come to bed after me. She was in fact already on the bed and waiting for me, which was quite nice. And she stayed for quite a while too.

But I didn’t though. I was off on various nocturnal rambles during the night.

We started off last night somewhere out on the Outer Banks but I don’t now remember exactly what I was doing out there. But anyway I quickly moved on to driving a coach full of young school kids to some kind of science laboratory where they were having some kind of lessons. I had to clean out the coach and found a huge pile of animal hair in the form of a long grey and white tail. It was many metres long and quite valuable too so I collected it up to put in one of the lockers at the side. Having done that, I went into school to say that I was ready to leave, and gave my journey number, which was one of the 6 that began with a figure “4” but the receptionist had said that all of the “4” journeys had gone -which was definitely not the case, for my next trip to the laboratory was another one of the “4” trips, so that hadn’t even arrived.
A little later I was in a car heading to the north of Manchester – a rough area – so I had a CB radio with me. I was chatting to a few people and they began to ask me questions, about what my car looked like and so on. I knew that soon I would have to stop for fuel so I started to give them all kinds of false details about me and the car so that we wouldn’t be recognised.
The discussion moved on then to another erstwhile taxi owner who had never been particularly successful and had fallen foul of the taxi licensing laws. He had been allowed to start again with just one car but hadn’t been successful and I was trying to buy him out. But the discussion concerned his own ineptitude and incompetence.

After our return from the Recycling Centre, I had to go shopping. And come back and go again because, in the kind of thing that only I can do, I forgot to take any money.

A shower, shave and clean clothes were next, and then we attacked the Thanksgiving meal. 14 of us, there were, and we made tons of food, much of which wasn’t eaten and went into the fridge. And then Rachel and I attacked the mountains of washing up.

Although it’s early, I’m in bed. I’m totally exhausted and I’ve crashed out twice already. I managed just enough effort to put a pile of clothes in the wash, and that’s my lot until the morning