Tag Archives: Nikon D5000

Thursday 28th October 2021 – NOW HERE’S A THING

man catching fish beach place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021While I was out on my afternoon walk today I saw this guy bending down at the water’s edge with something in his had.

At first I thought that it was a carrier bag of some description but then I asked myself “is that a fish?”. Ohh no, it can’t possibly be a fist at all.

But when I examined the photograph more closely and enlarged and enhanced it somewhat, I could see that right in front of where he’s standing is a fishing net stretching out into the water.

And so the conclusion is that at long last we have actually seen a fisherman catch something out there and I bet that he’ll enjoy that with his cheap for his tea tonight.

Mind you, catching something with a net is one thing – catching it with a rod and line is something else completely and I’m not going to be really satisfied until I see a fisherman pull a fish out using his tackle and equipment.

Another thing about which I’m not satisfied is my sleeping just now. Last night was slightly better than the previous night or two but still not what I would call satisfactory. In fact, far from it.

And one thing that I never understand at all is that I’m lying in bed tossing and turning and not sleeping all the way up to 5 minutes before the alarm goes off – and then I’m out like a light for all of 5 minutes until I’m awoken.

That’s exactly how it was yet again today and once more, i wouldn’t actually call anything like “athletic” the way that I left my stinking pit.

There was still time enough to go off on my travels during the night I was with girl whom I’d met in Brussels for some part of the night. We were gradually working on our friendship and relationship. I was hoping that this time I might be able to make some kind of couple with her but it didn’t quite work out. And it didn’t work out in real life either, much to my dismay. I always seemed to find myself tangled up with these extremely religious people with high principles

Later on there was a game going on, something like “Just A Minute” where they were talking about repairing coaches. The girl sitting next to me used the term “panel beater” to which everyone objected. I told her that you could go into almost any garage in the country and find someone who would be described as a panel beater, painter and sprayer. She used this as the basis for her argument. In the end the presenter put it to the audience but before they could cheer or booh I awoke.

Later on, I’d gone round to see my friend near Munich. I’d bought myself a coffee from a van on the side of the road and gone to see him. We started to chat. I invited to buy him coffee so he ordered two coffees from this van. Then he disappeared. When he came back out of his house I asked him “have you drunk your coffee?”. He replied “yes, but yours is still over there on the van”. I had to go back to the van and pick mine up. There was something to do with a PA system that I’d seen for sale and I was wondering whether to buy it. he was going on about how nice a stack it was. Even though they were different components it all looked quite nice as a stack.

After breakfast I made a start on updating some of the journal entries from earlier in the month. That meant that the first task was the dictaphone. To my surprise several entries were missing. I’d copied them onto the portable laptop while I was away and instead of filing them to store afterwards, I must have deleted them.

There’s always some complication, isn’t there?

So firing up the laptop I found the files and I was in business. While I was at it, I also found another file or two that for some reason or other hadn’t been copied over when I returned home.

So now the first few days are updated, but this is going to be a long job. For example, only 29 other dictaphone files to deal with.

That took me up to lunch and then afterwards I had some post to be doing. I’ve received a few mails about my radio project and they needed answering pretty quickly. It looks as if I’ve been roped in for another event as well.

But turning my attention to more mundane matters, I really do wonder how I’ve managed to get to where I am today with some of the things that I’ve been doing.

Yesterday, the battery in the NIKON D3000 was flat yesterday, as I found out when I went to take a photo. Anyway, that went on charge when I returned home.

Today, just before I went out, I checked the battery in the NIKON D500 to be on the safe side. That was almost flat too and I wished that I’d checked it earlier so it would have had time to charge up.

And then I realised that a few months ago I’d bought two spare batteries for it. Only cheap low-capacity batteries but why they were important was that they came with a free charger that works off a USB port. I’m collecting USB items, like for example the AA/AAA battery charger that I found because they are lighter, easier to carry and just need the one cable.

So with one of the batteries now in the camera, I had another brainwave.

In the drawer is the old NIKON D5000 camera that worked for years until I dropped it, cracked the case and water ingressed and ruined the PCB.

That takes the same battery is the Nikon D3000 and the battery is still in it so I extracted that and put it on charge. We’ll see if it holds a charge and if so we’ll add it to the pile.

people on beach swimmer rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021So somewhat later than intended I went out for my afternoon walk.

And this afternoon the beach was comparatively crowded. It was a really warm, sunny day for the end of October and with it being the school holidays, everyone had gone down to make the most of it.

So much so that on the extreme left-hand edge of the photo you’ll actually see someone swimming in the sea. I don’t envy him one little bit. If the water isn’t at 37°C I’m not going in it.

The path was crowded with people this afternoon as you might expect so I had to fight my way through the crowds towards the lighthouse.

waves on sea wall baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021As I came out of the shelter of the College Malraux I was hit by the wind coming from a very unusual quarter – the south-west.

It was quite strong as well so I was expecting to see some excitement at the sea wall by the harbour as the waves will be picked up by the wind and hurled into the wall.

But this turned out to be something of a damp squib, didn’t it? The waves weren’t anything at all to write home about. Something of a major disappointment in fact. This was the best of a pretty poor lot of waves coming in on the wind

portable boat lift chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021While I was on my way along the path on top of the cliffs I noticed that the portable boat lift had been moved from its habitual resting place.

Thinking that it might be engaged in some kind of activity I hurried along to the viewpoint overlooking the harbour to see what it it was up to.

To my surprise, I saw that it had been driven into the centre of the chantier naval, parked up and left there. There weren’t any boats about here at all.

All of this looks pretty weird to me. I’ve no idea what is happening with this. I certainly wouldn’t want to leave the boat lift here overnight where some motorist might drive into it in the dark.

joly france ferry terminal port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021Over at the ferry terminal, the two Joly France ferries are tied up there.

On the left is the newer one of the two with the smaller upper deck superstructure and the windows in “portrait” format. The older one of the right has the larger upper deck superstructure and windows in “Landscape” format.

And for once, the crane is folded up correctly.

Back at the apartment I made myself a coffee and had more things to do, like splitting a couple of albums into their constituent tracks. And that wasn’t easy for one of them as the tracks ran into each other and I’ll have to think about this carefully.

Tea was the last of the aubergine and kidney bean whatsit, and now that my journal entry is done, I’m off to bed.

But before I go, I’m going to have to try my best not to be so cynical.

Some books that belonged to my grandparents and great grandparents have been discovered and apparently (not that I knew until long after the event) there was a “family meeting” (to which I wasn’t, of course, invited). It was “agreed” that a certain member of the family should take them in and care for them.

My immediate response was “well, that’s the last that anyone will ever see of them”. I really must stop being so cynical.

Wednesday 25th August 2021 – I WENT TO …

… see the rapist this afternoon.

rue cambernon Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallFirst thing that I have to say about it all is that there’s traffic flowing again down the Rue Cambernon again.

It looks as if the braderie was only a one-day thing because everything seems to have been cleared away, all of the streets are now open and the cars are driving along them.

It’s a shame really because for that one day it was quite interesting and quite quiet too. It reminded me of the “car-free Sunday” that we had once a year when I lived in Brussels. All of the public transport was free, all of the parks and museums were open and you could wander everywhere without any interruption at all.

And, at the end of the day, the normal haze that hung over the city had gone and the sky was really clear.

Just for one day.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, one of the things that really gets my goat around here is the pathetic parking.

bad parking rue paul poirier Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallYou’ve seen so much of it that I’ve been trying to avoid showing it, in order not to bore you to death, but sometimes there is something so extreme that I have to feature it. Something like this, for example.

The white car, with a registration number from out of the département so clearly a tourist, has stopped – with a couple of wheels on a zebra crossing, and let his wife out to go and buy a baguette from the bakery here.

And then he sits and waits for her.

This is a bus route for the large service buses that ply up and down the coast, and he’s blocking the road so that this bus can’t go past.

And does he move? Of course he doesn’t. He’s a tourist. The town belongs to him. Who cares about the locals?

But anyway, let’s start at the very beginning.

Despite having a good deal less than 5 hours sleep last night, I was up and about at 06:00 and went to take my medicine.

Back in here again I checked my messages – well, I didn’t – just about half of them. I didn’t actually go to sleep – I was wide awake – but in something like a zombie-like trance for a couple of hours, unable to function at all.

When I finally gathered my wits – which takes far longer these days than it ought, seeing how few wits I have left these days, I made myself a coffee and cut a slice of my gorgeous fruit bread – which really is gorgeous by the way – and then came back in here to finish off checking my messages.

Next task was to prepare a music playlist for the week. It’s the turn of the music in the “BB” folder to be selected and it will be any 11 tracks from about 15 of the 50 artists and groups in the folder.

The playlist will now be running continuously until Sunday night (as long as the computer is switched on) and I’ll be listening to all of the relevant albums, choosing tracks that might be interesting, noting down their running times and the albums from which they come, and whether they are good or faulty.

And whether they are needing editing too. Chopping exciting bits out of “Tubular Bells” or “Thick as a Brick” – stuff like that. Much as I like the complete albums, my listeners would fall asleep if I played all of them non-stop.

There was the dictaphone to check of course and eventually I managed to get around to it. Last night I was living on some kind of island. There was a huge explosion that had destroyed part of the buildings. Everyone had to evacuate this island and move onto another one that was already occupied. Everyone immediately thought that it was me who had blown up this island or whatever it was, so no-one was really my friend and gave me all cold stares when I’d tried to talk to them about anything.

And doesn’t that remind me of an event about two years ago?

Later on, I’d been on a bike and apparently I’d started off walking. It was medieval times. I was loaded up and on my way somewhere or other. The priest of this area was standing there looking over the harbour and everything. As I walked past he made the sign of the cross to me so I made the sign of the cross to him. He said “good evening” and I thought “it’s morning, isn’t it?”. I carried on walking and then I was on a bike cycling down a hill near Lyon. A group of 5 people walked off the pavement straight in front of me. I gave them a tinkle of the bell. They moved slowly out of the way so I swore at them and cursed them in French. They were making all kinds of gestures and insults but I carried on. In the end someone invited me to appear on television. I thought “if they had heard that lot just now they wouldn’t have allowed me on at all.

After that, I know that I did something else, but don’t ask me what it was because I can’t remember.

After lunch I went and had a shower and a general clean and tidy up, and then went off on my travels to see the rapist.

transhipment porte st jean Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut I didn’t go very far before I came to a stop.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, because I’ve said it before … “and on many previous occasions too” – ed … living intra muros in the old walled city does have its drawbacks Like the height of the gateway into the old walled city.

If you are having anything big delivered, you need to have some kind of trans-shipment system in place because the chances are that the delivery lorry might not be able to fit through the arch. We’ve seen all kinds of Heath-Robinson arrangements since I’ve been living here.

port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallMeanwhile, a little farther on along the road I come out to one of the viewpoints on the outer walls – the one that overlooks the fish processing plant.

The first thing that I noticed was that all of the “charter hire” yachts like Aztec Lady, Spirit of Conrad and so on are conspicuous by their absence.

Not that it is a real surprise because I heard on the grapevine that the Channel Islands are relaxing their strict anti-Covid controls on visitors from France, and so everyone who is anyone has headed off in a northward direction.

And had I not had my series of appointments starting this week, I would have been tempted to have joined them as well.

Les Epiettes port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallEvery now and again we’ve been seeing a small red, white and blue boat running around in the bay or just outside the harbour.

It might be this one here. I know that we encountered one, called Les Epiettes once when we were on Spirit of Conrad out at the Ile de Chausey, but unfortunately we can’t see her name from here.

When I was back in the apartment later I checked the port call register and there was no trace of a boat that resembled her so she probably has her AIS switched off.

But I did discover something else and I’ll talk about that tomorrow.

charlevy port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd I’m sure that we all recognise this trawler. It’s been the subject of quite a few photos just recently.

Unless I’m very much mistaken, she’s our old friend Charlevy, anchored at the loading bay with one of the cranes working on her.

What I suspect is that while she’s been in the chantier naval she’s had all of her nets taken out and presumably overhauled and repaired on the quayside as we’ve seen them do before.

Today, it looks as if the crane is reassembling all of her fishing gear, ready for her to go back out to sea.

From there I pushed on through the streets and up the hill to the therapist. And the climb up there was a little better than on Monday.

He had me walking up and down a step, doing some stretching exercises and then standing on some kind of tilting, vibrating plate that reminded me on being on the deck of THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR in a hurricane.

There was a kind of ski-walking machine there but that wasn’t a success. Not because I couldn’t work it but I didn’t have the breath to keep it going.

After half an hour he threw me out and I walked home, feeling actually a little more sprightly in my right leg than I have done for a while. I wonder what it will be like at the end of the sessions.

Passing the shenanigans outside the bakers I carried on towards home and my ice-cold strawberry smoothie. And the climb up the hill in the Rue des Juifs went rather better than the other day.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhile I was out, I thought that I’d go and see how things were down on the beach. It’s much more like my usual time of afternoon.

Plenty of beach to be on or course because the tide is well on its way out now. You could see quite a difference to how it was 90 minutes ago when i set off for my appointment.

But the holiday season is definitely coming to an end. Three days now on the run I’ve made the point that there have been fewer and fewer people down on the beach , and once again I couldn’t see anyone in the water either. It’s a sad end to a rather depressing summer season here.

ile de chausey baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhile I was at it, I was having a good look out to sea.

The NIKON D3000 was my main camera between the demise of the Nikon D5000 and the purchase of the NIKON D500 and while I was happy with it at the time, I’ve had to do a lot of post-work to pull out a photo of the Ile de Chausey from the haze out at sea.

None of the Joly France ferries in sight – they must all be sheltering in the gap between the two islands. Just the odd yacht or two out there this afternoon. Nothing much to be excite myself today. I did see a brown smudge on the horizon which at first I thought was Marité but it turned out to be a mark on the computer screen.

people on beach plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallGoing back to the apartment, there was a view of the beach down at the Plat Gousset – a view that I don’t usually see because I’m going the other way.

Quite a few people going for a paddle around in the water retained by the medieval fish trap, and a few folk on the beach down there too. But seeing as that area is the most popular part of the beach, I was expecting it to be much busier than that.

A few people down on the beach at Donville les Bains though. I can just about make them out in the distance.

So back into the apartment I came and had my strawberry smoothie – and the next thing that I remembered was thatt it was 18:30. I’d been stark out for 90 minutes. The walk out and back had taken it all out of me.

There were carrots that needed peeling and blanching ready for freezing and then it was time for tea. I had the rest of the mushrooms which were going to start to do something rather peculiar if I didn’t do anything with them so I threw in a small tin of lentils and a few other bits and pieces and made a quick curry.

big wheel at night place albert godal Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBack in here I came to write up my notes but while I was checking the radar to see whether it really was Les Epiettes coming into the port, I noticed a rather large boat coming into the port, larger than any that have been in here recently.

Immediately I grabbed the camera and dashed outside to see what it might be, falling over a concrete bollard in the street in the darkness.

Firstly though, the big wheel was working, even though it was quite late. People must be staying up until all hours, being still in the holiday mood even if they don’t want to go down to the beach during the daytime.

big wheel at night place albert godal Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOne of the attractions of the big wheel, especially for the spectator, is that it changes colour as it goes round.

As I watched, it went through all of the colours of the rainbow and made quite an exciting spectacle.

But only for a few more days. It usually closes down round about the end of August so maybe next week will be the last that we shall see of it.

And the tourists too. While I’m always pleased to see them leave, I do feel sorry for them for the miserable summer that they have had.

medical emergency at galeon andalucia port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallYou probably noticed in the two photos of the big wheel a set of lights coming down the hill in the Rue Couraye. What you won’t have heard of course is the sound of the sirens that came with the lights.

There’s something rather large and top-heavy down there and it’s certainly not a gravel boat as I was originally thinking.

And why it’s put into the harbour is presumably due to some kind of medical emergency that needs to be dealt with

medical emergency at galeon andalucia port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut in the meantime I can tell you something about her, because she has her AIS beacon switched on.

Believe it or not, she’s a Spanish galleon. Not a original one, I haste to add, and wouldn’t that be something if it were, but a faithful replica of a Spanish galleon of the 17th Century and at an overall length of almost 48 metres, she’s the largest ship of any description to come in here for quite a while.

How long she’ll be staying is something else, so I’ll be out there first thing in the morning to see her in daylight, because the harbour gates open early.

trawler leaving port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhile I’m out, I’m not going to bed quite yet. I may as well make the most of things

With the harbour gates being open, one of the trawlers here is taking the opportunity to slip out to sea. She doesn’t have her AIS beacon switched on so I can’t tell you who she is. It’s just a purple lozenge on my radar screen with no name attached.

Anyway, that’s enough excitement for this evening. I’m going back to the apartment to carry on with my journal entry for today before I forget any more.

Now, much later than intended, I’m off to bed. A whole day at home with no interruptions. I bet that I’ll fall asleep and miss most of it.

Sunday 11th July 2021 – I’VE NOT HAD …

… a very good day today, and I don’t know why that is.

Well, I do, but it’s something that I don’t care to talk about on here and involves a trip down Memory Lane to places that I’ve been trying to forget.

But I would ordinarily say that I don’t know what’s brought it on, but actually I do – I just don’t know why it’s caught me unawares like this.

It’s one of those things that always seems to hit us when we are at our most vulnerable so I’ll need to have a good night’s sleep and in the words of the boxer Jack Johnson, “Eat jellied eels and think distant thoughts”.

This morning after my walk around the upper town at midnight (and about which I haven’t forgotten the photos, by the way) I was to my surprise awake at 07:00. But badger that for a game of cowboys. 09:30 was too early too but 10:45 is much more respectable for a Sunday.

After the medication I came in here again to listen to the dictaphone. At first there was something going on in a big old rambling house full of kids last night but I can’t remember what it was now. And waking up with an attack of cramp and when was the last time that I did that as well? I thought that some of this medication was supposed to stop that.

So having had some kind of meeting (when did this take place?) with a Greek girl with whom I was very friendly in Brussels who put in an appearance I was off in some medieval city somewhere in medieval times. There was some kind of difficulty that I can’t remember now but a man became involved in it who was a so-called spy and he helped me resolve this difficulty. In the end he stood on this bridge of this canal with his hand behind his back hiding a gun these 6 people road up asking for information. He replied “sorry, I don’t have one”. They replied something like “how is it possible to be in this country without an identity card?”. At that moment, from behind his back he pulled out a gun. He made them all drop their guns. Somehow at this point he became me. I ordered 5 of those people away and the 6th guy I mounted on a camel and told him to set out to such-a-place and I’d follow him. On the way out there was a barge going past on the canal so I stopped to take a photo of it. We had another one of these sessions when the NIKON 1 J5 wouldn’t work. All the time this guy was getting further ahead of me as I was trying to take this photo. In the end I said “sod it” and chased after this guy on the camel. Then I got to thinking “how stupid am I? I made those people drop their guns in the street and walk away. Why didn’t I throw them over into the canal? All they need to do now is to wait until I’m out of sight, pick up their guns and come along and chase after me. At least had I thrown their guns into the canal they might have chased after me but they couldn’t have done very much without any weapons”.

There was also something somewhere about me being with a few people and the subject of dreams came up. I was told to go and see a woman with whom by some lucky chance I’d just been talking because she was very keen on the subject. I wish I knew where she’d gone so I could chase after her. I explained to the people with whom I was talking that I’d been following my dreams for nearly 30 years.

So at least I managed to go off somewhere at some point.

One task that I wanted to do was to to pair off the music for the next radio programme and find a suitable chat line for my guest. That was all done and organised and took me nicely up to lunchtime.

Before I could make my lunch though I needed to make some bread mix. Only for a small loaf though because I’m going to be away for a while next week and there’s not much room right now in the freezer.

Talking of the freezer… “well, one of us is” – ed … I also took out the last pile of dough from the freezer so that it could defrost ready for tonight.

After lunch I came back in here and the first thing that I did was to sort out the camera equipment. I have three cameras on the go – the NIKON D500 which is the main one, the little NIKON 1 J5 that I use when weight and/or privacy and discretion are czlled for, and the old NIKON D3000 that I bought ON QUECEC IN 2012 after I had broken the Nikon D5000 and which keeps on rolling along.

Each camera now has its own bag with all of its own accessories inside it and surprisingly, I bought a brand-new upmarket camera bag last year. The D3000 has found its way into that and the D5000 is in the bag that the D5000 used to occupy and which I’ve had for ages.

The J5 is in an even older camera bag that belonged to one of the older 1st-generation digital cameras that I had and which packed up nearly 20 years ago.

One of these days I’ll have to go through the redundant camera equipment, sell it off and use the money to repair the D5000.

With time to spare I sat down to deal with the photos from last night. They are all uploaded, edited and some of the text was written. But my afternoon walk intervened.

Before I went on my walk though I kneaded the bread mix, added the sunflower seeds and put it in the bread mould.

full car park place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThe crowds outside this afternoon were unbearable. You couldn’t move for people and cars. It was not very pleasant at all.

You can see what I mean from this photo. The public car park just outside this building is bursting at the seams and if you look quite closely at the photo you’ll see the crowds of people milling around there today.

In fact, while you are looking closely, you’ll see a group of several people standing together just to the right of centre on this photo, looking over the wall there. That’s my usual spec for when I’m taking photos of the beach if I’m going off around the headland on my afternoon walk.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut I’m not going round that way this afternoon. I’m going off on a trek around the city walls.

That means I’m having to look down onto the beach from the viewpoint in the Rue du Nord so the view is rather different than usual.

The tide is well out so there is plenty of beach to be on, and there were plenty of people on it this afternoon taking advantage of the space.

And I’m not sure why because while the conditions weren’t Arctic today the sky was quite overcast and it was cool (if not cold) for the time of the year and there was plenty of wind about. It’s not the kind of day in which you’d catch me sunbathing o the beach, that’s for sure.

people fishing in rock pool beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOn the other hand, I might be down on the beach for other reasons, rather like this family here.

The retreating tide has left several large rockpools behind it, so while daddy supervises the operation, mummy and the two kiddiewinks have taken off their socks and shoes and, in one case, trousers, and they are scavenging around in the rock pools for whatever they can find.

Which I hope they will remember to share with their friends because, after all, one shouldn’t be selfish with one’s shellfish.

And as for paddling up to my knees, I’ve done that twice now in water that was much colder than this – AT ETAH IN GREENLAND just 700 miles from the North Pole and the second time in the North West Passage in the Canadian High Arctic, about which I’ll write when I can think of what i’m going to say that will express how I felt on that day with the events that were goign on all around me, without causing too many problems.

But meanwhile, trying to dig myself out of the Black Pit into which i’ve fallen, let’s return to our moutons as they say around here and ask why there are all these people wandering around this afternoon.

people at brocants rue notre dame Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThe answer to that is that it’s the annual brocante or car boot sale in the old town, and that always attracts the crowds, which is not a good thing from my point of view.

Not 50 yards from where those people are, and they must have walked past that spot to be where they are is a sign “face masks mandatory”, and yet there are so many people who just couldn’t care less.

Having brought the figures down from over 20,000 per day to just a thousand or so, it can’t give anyone any pleasure to see the infection rate rising again so rapidly and yet people totally disregarding even the most basic of rules because they just don’t feel like it.

But anyway, that’s enough of me moaning and whining for the moment. Let’s return to my afternoon walk around the walls

medieval city wall crumbling place du marche au cheveaux Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOne of the main reasons that I came around this way was to see what they were up to with that scaffolding the other day, but I wasn’t quick enough with the scaffolding and it’s now gone.

But we can see just so clearly now exactly what is the problem with the city walls at the Place du Marché au Chevaux. You can see the vertical crack in the brickwork right there and it’s not before time that they are going to be dealing with it.

It does in fact remind me of the rather nasty crack that appeared on the outside wall of 10 Downing Street but Carrie called in builders to cement over it before Boris Johnson could read it.

And I still haven’t worked out what that wooden structure is that they have built on top of the wall and what its purpose is supposed to be. I suppose that it will become clear over the next few days, but I remember saying that a few days ago.

cement mixer workmen's cabin place du marché au chevaux Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallSo the obvious question is “what are they going to be doing with the walls?”

Here in the little compound we have what looks like a couple of workmen’s huts but also a cement mixer and tubs full of something or other, so it looks as if they are going to be making a start some time soon on repointing. But I think that it needs a bit more than repointing, if you ask me.

And if you look above the nearest workmen’s hut, you’ll see a map. It tells us of work that they have done in the past in restoring the walls, and what they will be doing this year here in the Place du Marché auc Chevaux.

And I wish that it would tell us what they are going to be doing subsequently because sections of the old medieval walls are being closed off quicker than they can repair them.

It was round here that I fell in with a family – mum, dad, a girl about 12 or so and a grandfather. They were not from round here and were struggling to make out a few of the local landmarks. Jersey was really clear to me today so I pointed it out to them, as well as the Ile de Chausey and even the lighthouse at Cap Fréhel which was perfectly clear with the naked eye today.

bouchot beds donville les bains medieval fish trap plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhile I was talking to them, I noticed that the bouchot beds at Donville les Bains were quite visible today too with the tide being so far out.

The tractors were taking advantage of the low tide this afternoon and were out there doing the harvesting.

The medieval fish trap had some water still in it too although no-one was taking advantage of it. I’d love to see it restored and people in there catching their own supper with their own bare hands just like they did in the Middle Ages.

After all, there were enough people down there to have had a good go and made a good catch this afternoon had the fish trap been working properly.

f-gcum Robin DR 400/180 Regent baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd while I was doing that, I was overflwon by a light aeroplane. I mean – we have to have one of those, don’t we, on a day like that?

She’s another one of our old friends, F-GCUM, the Robin DR 400/180 Regent that’s owned by the Granville Aero Club.

And she’s been out for a nice long flight this afternoon. She took off at 13:38 and did a nice figure-of-8 going gown to Avranches then across to Cap Fréhel, back to Granville, over Coutances, up to Barneville Carteret and then back home.

She disappeared off the radar at 15:58 presumably when she went into her landing approach and I saw her about 15 minutes later so it must have been a long, shallow dive into landing.

crowds avenue de la liberation place marechal foch plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallIf you think, by the way that everyone is here who is coming here and that the crowds will slowly die away, then look again at this lot.

There’s a whole stream of cars coming down the hill nose to tail in the Avenue de la Liberation. And good luck to them if they can find somewhere to park when they finally get to where they are going.

It’s a Sunday of course and the public transport doesn’t run on a Sunday. Perhaps the local council needs to think about that in the summer when there are all of these events and organise a “Park and Ride” on the LeClerc Car Park

Plenty of people too in the Place Marechal Foch and walking along the promenade at the Plat Gousset too. And the ice cream parlour looks as if it’s doing a roaring trade.

seagulls rue des juifs Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOf course, seeing as I’m here now, I have to go and see how my baby seagulls are doing.

So off I took myself into the Square Maurice Marland, past a couple of little girls playing hopscotch, and up to the place where I can see onto the roofs of the Rue des Juifs where their parents have their nests.

Two of my seagull chicks weren’t up to very much, just curled up in the nest having a relaxing afternoon but the third one here was a little more energetic and he was off for a wander around on the roof.

And I hope that he doesn’t fall off like a couple of his friends seem to have done over the last week or two.

seagull rue des juifs Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallActually I was watching this particular energetic one for quite a while.

When I first saw him he was flapping his wings like Billio and I thought that he was going to have a go at taking off, but animals, like children, are very contrary and never do what you want or what you expect. Having got myself into a good position, he did nothing at all.

You can tell by the times of the images. 4 minutes after I took up my position he decided to inspect himself for fleas and that was about the limit of his activity while I was watching.

In the end I became fed up before he did and I cleared off, upon which I imagined him immediately taking off, doing a few loop-the loops and Immelmann turns

people in brocante rue notre dame Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAt the end of the Square I walked through the alleyway into the Rue Notre Dame where it was all happening.

And the first thing that I noticed was the lack of face masks despite the notices plastered everywhere. And I know that I go on about this quite a lot but 4,000,000 dead and God alone knows how many people’s health permanently damaged, endless queues in hospitals, routine work cancelled (remember, I went 9 months without my four-weekly cancer treatment) just because people can’t be bothered to take the most basic precautions.

But anyway, even though I remembered to bring my money, I didn’t even look at what was on offer. I have seen the prices in the past and that’s been enough for me. Not even the chip van could tempt me this year.

people place cambernon Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallCrowds of people in the Place Cambernon too, mainly at the bar down the far end.

However I didn’t go that way, I carried on around the church and at the edge of the walls overlooking the port I fell in with one of my neighbours chatting to a couple at the nice house with the nice round turret.

We had quite a pleasant chat for 10 minutes or so but then I set off for home as I had work to do.

autogyros pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut I hadn’t gone very far before I was brought to yet another halt.

On my way along the street I’d heard a rattling from the air and I’d wondered what it was. But suddenly in a gap between two houses, two of these autogyros came flying past in formation.

Two-seater autogyros too so they were obviously up to something, like a photo shoot or a film shoot. And one of these days I’ll have to get myself up there in one of those things for a photo shoot.

But not right now. Ad I said earlier, I have things to do this afternoon. Like kneading the pizza dough that had now defrosted, rolling it out and putting it on the pizza dish that I had greased.

When everything was ready I switched on the oven and bunged the bread in to bake, and when the pizza dough had proofed sufficiently I assembled my pizza.

vegan pizza home made bread place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhen the bread was baked I put the pizza in and let that bake, and here are the finished products.

Only a small loaf as I mentioned earlier, and I’ll tell you about that in a day or two, but the pizza was delicious as usual.

No pudding because there is still some chocolate sponge left and in any case, I’m pretty full right now.

And now my notes are finished I’m off to bed. I’ll sleep off my depression and have a better day tomorrow. And if I have time, I’ll finish off those photos from last night and post them up.

We’ll see how I get on.

Tuesday 9th March 2021 – WE’VE BEEN HAVING …

yacht english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall… a nautical afternoon this afternoon. It seems that every man and his dog were out there doing some kind of maritime activity this afternoon.

So while you admire the yacht that went sailing by the headland at the Pointe du Roc this afternoon, I finished writing my notes last night, only to find that I couldn’t go off to sleep. In the end I gave it up as a bad job and carried on working on clearing duplicates out of the back-up drive.

It was after 01:30 when I finally went off to bed, which was not what I was planning on at all with an alarm call at 06:00 and a Welsh lesson on Zoom later in the morning.

trawler english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd while you admire another image of a trawler sailing past the headland towards the harbour in the wake of the yacht that we have just seen, I went to find out where I’d been during the night.

And a very welcome return to Zero who a couple of years ago used to accompany me on my travels on quite a regular basis but hasn’t been around for a while.

Last night I was taking her to a football match but it was the middle of the winter so we were putting on layers of clothes. She was dressed in a big heavy coat. When it was time to go I found that I was dressed in some kind of yellow thermal tights but I’d forgotten to put on my trousers so I had to go back. That was annoying because I’d been urging her to hurry up and now she was ready, I wasn’t. Her father wasn’t all that keen on her going – I don’t know if it was because of me or because of the football but her mother was fine with the idea.

This morning, I wasn’t feeling anything like working. It was all that I could do to keep awake and I was really surprised that I’d even managed to crawl out of bed. As a result I was totally unprepared for my Welsh lesson and it didn’t pass very well at all. Most of the time was spent trying to keep awake.

It was a very late lunch too. Our Welsh lesson overran. I was ready for my sandwiches too by the time that we stopped. And to my dismay, the apples that I’d bought the other day haven’t survived.

After lunch I came in to start work but I fell asleep instead. And I was out for about an hour, comfortable on the chair in the office. That was disappointing but it wasn’t a surprise.

plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallMy afternoon walk wasn’t disturbed by neighbours or shopping too, but by a flat battery in the NIKON D500. As I went to take a photo of the people out on the Plat Gousset it just petered out.

And so I had to dash back into the apartment where I grabbed hold of the old NIKON D3000 and swap over the camera lens and then dash back out again for my photos.

And when I say “old” NIKON D3000 I do mean “old” as well. It was an end-of-series discontinued range that I bought in a hurry in QUEBEC IN MAY 2012 after I dropped the NIKON D5000 on a concrete floor and cracked the casing.

And to my surprise, it’s kept on going after all this and still producing some kind of acceptable results.

men fishing from zodiac english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAs I mentioned earlier, we were having a nautical afternoon today.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that last summer we were seeing here and there a bright yellow zodiac roaring around offshore. We seem to be in luck, or maybe it’s a sign that the summer is here, because the zodiac is back out there offshore.

There are two guys in there fishing – or, at least – one of the two guys is fishing. The second one is fixing his fishing line ready to cast off out to sea.

And I suppose that we’ll be back as we have been every year since I’ve been living here, watching hundreds of people fishing and catching nothing whatever at all.

There was nothing else doing out to sea off the end of the Pointe du Roc, so I walked around the corner to the viewpoint over the port.

fishing boats returning to port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallYou have probably noticed that the tide was quite a way in so the outer harbour is flooded.

We saw earlier one of the trawlers coming back into port and here is another one coming into the port, one of the crustacean boats with the roof over the hold to keep the seagulls from stealing the catch. There’s already one of the boats there at the Fish Processing Plant unloading its catch.

The two fishing boats that have been moored there for the past couple of days here seem to have moved on today, but the same four boats in the chantier navale are still there, and look as if they are going to be there for a while as well.

thora port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallA new arrival in the port today though is Thora, one of the two Jersey freighters.

They seem to be finding plenty of work going on right now and that’s good news for the port. We need all of the business that we can find.

Back here at the apartment I had my coffee and coffee cake and finally settled down to do some work. I’ve managed to edit 20-odd photos this afternoon, some of which involved doing some research and involved the help of a few people in a Group on a Social Networking site who were able to identify a twisting pile of metal as a Bedford JSL.

Such is the power of the internet.

During a few pauses here and there I’ve been going through the duplicate files on the back-up drive and what with last night’s “overtime” and the bits and pieces that I’ve done today, I now have 927GB free. But of course, the farther ahead that I advance, the slower the work becomes.

There was the hour on the guitars of course, and then a hurried tea – stuffed peppers with rice and the last of the jam pie- because there was football on the internet again – Barry Town v Penybont in the JD Cymru League.

It’s easy to see why there seem to be three clubs – TNS, Bala Town and Connah’s Quay Nomads – way out in front of the League because this match was really pretty aimless.

These two teams are fourth and fifth, and Penybont won the match with a deflected shot out of nothing from 20 yards, but apart from that neither team ever looked like doing anything. Long, aimless balls out of defence and plenty of misplaced passes, quite a contrast to the skill that was clearly evident on Saturday when TNS played Bala Town.

There’s a huge gap in skill between the top three and those following on behind at quite a distance.

Right now though I’m off to bed. I won’t have a long sleep tonight, thanks to the football, so I probably won’t be on form tomorrow either. But we’ll see how we go. At least the backlog of photos seems to be shifting and that’s something to appreciate, I suppose.

Monday 25th February 2019 – HAVING MADE A …

… special effort to turn of all of the alarms this morning, I managed to sleep though all the way to … errr … 06:00.

But I still ended up going back to sleep and a gorgeous leisurely 09:10 before I finally saw the light of day.

Plenty of time to go on a wander during the night. Last night was rather confusing. I remember Cecile being around and I was somewhere on some housing estate that might have been old military property (going back to a discussion that I’d had a few weeks ago). I knew where a girl lived and the neighbours that she described in some disparaging terms. To where I lived, you had to go past – well past too and into the countryside, turn right and then right again, and I found that I wasn’t living too far away from her and that was a surprise. The garage door of my property had been forced in as if someone had driven into it and I was sure that I would be blamed for this, especially as my brand-new office car was parked in the drive, left there by a colleague. But I knew that I hadn’t driven it, I hadn’t had the keys and hadn’t signed for it, but that wouldn’t ever change anything about the apportionment of blame as I knew only too well. But we had to move on for there was work to do, and another colleague came and took my car away, leaving the garage door unprotected which annoyed me but I had things to do, so I wandered down to where Cecile and her friends were standing, and she indicated “over there” where the rest of the huissiers were assembled (I’m starting to see a few parallels here by the way) so I wandered over. They were all lounging around so I asked what was going on. They replied that they were all “just chilling”. So with nothing better to do, I “just chilled”.
A little later I was working away under a car doing something mechanical, and on finishing, I hauled myself out from underneath. The car was a big Jag V12 XJS and a former friend of mine and his friend were touching up the paintwork – and doing a nice job too, gloss white with black pin stripes all done by hand. They’d paid £200 for this car and were expecting to receive about £500 for it. I asked if there was anything that I could be doing, so they told me to help with the paintwork. Car painting is not my forte at all and I’d probably make it look worse than better, but I was told to help. After a minute or so, my ex-friend told me “you don’t do it like this … ” which I knew, but I said that it takes a while to work up a rhythm, so he gave me one of his customary long lectures which ended with “.. and of course you need to work up a rhythm” which was all more-or-less what I had just been saying. Yes, one of these long and pointless lectures. And the point is that people spend more time supervising someone doing a job poorly than they would spend doing the job perfectly themselves.

After breakfast (a big bowl of porridge), I attacked the blog. That’s up-to-date now as far back as Friday. That took a while.

And then I had run out of photos so I downloaded them off the cameras and started working on them to edit them. And now I’ve noticed another problem with the camera. The light sensor is fading out and over-reading. All of the photos from the weekend is under-exposed.

Seven years, I’ve had this camera. And seven years I had the Nikon D5000 before that started to play up too. Looks to me as if seven years is the life expectancy of a Nikon DSLR.

Just for a change, I was overwhelmed by hunger and ended up having a plate of cheese on toast for lunch. And that made me feel better.

And then to war.

The Bank statements that I had received from the Royal Bank of Scotland had shown that my letter of 2nd January 2019 had not been actioned. So I rang them up.

No point in asking a guy at a help-desk why, so we went through half of it and did it on-line. And then for the rest, having clearly told him that I intended to speak further to someone else higher up the chain, and told him what I thought about his employers in no uncertain terms, especially after he had held me on hold for 15 minutes because the “technology wasn’t working” he … errr … passed me on to another colleague to deal with the rest.

She didn’t have a clue either (although she was nice about it) and put me through to a third person who had even less to do with the matter. But she noticed something outstanding from 1990 which is good news to me, so passed me on to yet a fourth colleague to deal with that.

Well over an hour I was on the phone to them, and I’m still not much further on. But then that’s what happens when you are obliged to bank with the Worst Bank In The World.

crowds on beach plat gousset granville manche normandy franceAfter that marathon I went out for a walk around the walls testing the light – and there’s about three or four shots’ difference of light as what you might expect.

This is one taken with the exposure set by the exposure-metre gauges in the camera.

crowds on beach plat gousset granville manche normandy franceAnd this is one of the same view taken seconds later with the exposure set by eye with all of the other settings remained the same.

I’ll go out tomorrow with another lens and see what that can come up with, just to check.

There were a couple of minutes of fatigue – although not too much to worry about, and I carried on working. But with a stop for tea. lentil and mushroom curry from January last year. First time since Monday I’ve had three meals per day.

And then more football. A delayed match in the Welsh Premier League between Caernarfon and TNS. Caernarfon have gone off the boil this last few weeks and TNS always looked as if they could change up a couple of gears. 0-3 was by no means a false result.

And the mystery as to why TNS only play their star forward in brief cameos just recently looks resolved to me. He looks really ill to me.

So I’m off to bed. Another lie-in tomorrow to gather up my strength and do some work. If I feel as well as this tomorrow evening I’ll go back to the alarm on Wednesday.

And as an aside – I turned off the heating today.

peche à pied beach granville manche normandy france
peche à pied beach granville manche normandy france

peche à pied beach granville manche normandy france
peche à pied beach granville manche normandy france

new house building rue du nord granville manche normandy france
new house building rue du nord granville manche normandy france

new house building rue du nord granville manche normandy france
new house building rue du nord granville manche normandy france

crowds on beach plat gousset granville manche normandy france
crowds on beach plat gousset granville manche normandy france

crowds on beach plat gousset granville manche normandy france
crowds on beach plat gousset granville manche normandy france

Friday 2nd November 2018 – WHAT A BEAUTIFUL …

agon coutainville granville manche normandy france… evening today.

And what first drew my attention to it was the sunlight reflecting off the windows at Agon-Coutainville, about 30 kilometres away across the bay.

And this photo was taken with the 18-105mm lens, and hand-held too. It’s not come out too badly either. And in case you are wondering, the Nikon D3000 camera.

agon coutainville granville manche normandy franceHere’s a similar photo taken at lunchtime with the Nikon D3000 and the 70-300mm zoom\telephoto lens.

After its exertions last night when the storm whipped the set-up off the concrete bunker, I gave it a good going-over this morning to see what the damage might be.

And much to my surprise, not only is there no visible damage, everything seems to work just as it is supposed to. It must be more robust than I was expecting – and certainly more robust than the old Nikon D5000.

agon coutainville granville manche normandy franceSo while you admire a few more cropped and enlarged photos of the coast out past Agon-Coutainville (and if you think that they are blurred, they are cropped and enlarged segments out of a photo taken at a distance of 30kms), I can tell you a little about the morning.

Once again, the body clock works in spades as there I was, wide awake at 05:59 precisely (because I checked). One minute before the alarm was due to go off.

But badger that for a game of soldiers. I’d decided to have an extended break (to reimburse myself for my early Sunday), turned over and went back to sleep.

agon coutainville granville manche normandy france10:25 is a much more respectable time to haul myself out of the stinking pit.

And a breakfast at 11:15 is a very bourgeois way of starting the day in a relaxed and leisurely fashion.

All of this sleep had given me plenty of time to go off on a nocturnal ramble or two. And much to my surprise I could remember quite a lot of it, although I’m sure that there was so much more to be going on with.

First off, I’d been on my holidays again and we had had a delay, just like when we were off to the Arctic. There were 50 of us and we were being taken around to some temporary accommodation that had been found for us. And it ended up that we were being lodged in different log cabin or garden sheds, depending upon the class of accommodation that we had booked on the holiday. I trailed along behind everyone else who was given some higher-class cabins and ended up in a cheap garden shed. Seeing as it was in a warehouse it wasn’t too bad and I wasn’t too disappointed.
This bore quite a resemblance to a conversation that I had the other night with Alison, as well as another reminiscence about my legendary trip to the Far North.
Later on, I was doing my Sherlock Holmes impressions back in Victorian times, with my sidekick and a police inspector. We were trying to work out how someone had been shot and murdered in a house where the only other occupant of the house was visibly not involved with anything. It was a house in some kind of upmarket terrace with front gardens with brick walls and gateposts with ornamental pillars. It suddenly occurred to me how it happened and I went off to rig up a system to prove my point. A shotgun wired to the door with a time delay worked by a set of pulleys would blast anyone coming through the doorway a couple of seconds after opening the front door.
And sometime during the night Nerina put in an appearance. It’s a long time since she’s come to visit me, isn’t it?

donville les bains manche normandy franceAnd while you admire the photo of the beach at Donville-les-Bains and the miserable place where I looked at an apartment, then this morning (or what was left of it) I attacked a few more of the outstanding photographs.

This marathon session, which took me almost right up until tea-time (with a few interruptions) means that I’m now up to date as far back as a week ago.

You can see the efforts by going here and working forward.

ferry ile de chausey granville manche normandy franceWith having had a late start this morning, I ended up having a rather late lunch.

And it was such a beautiful afternoon that I made my butties and went out to sit on my wall overlooking the harbour.

No lizards unfortunately – I think that they have gone into hibernation – but there were lots of other things about.

ferry ile de chausey granville manche normandy franceOne of the Ile de Chausey ferries was leaving harbour and heading off out to sea.

Not to the island by the look of things, but probably a five-bob trip around the bay for sightseers – unless it’s a private charter because it didn’t seem to be going along any route that I recognised.

But this was when I tried out the zoom/telephoto lens to check that it was working. That’s miles out into the bay near Jullouville

boulevard des amiraux granvillais granville manche normandy franceI had a few more goes with the zoom/telephoto lens to make sure that it wasn’t just a one-off success.

Thats the Boulevard des Amiraux Granvillais with the climb up to the Roche Gauthier and the blocks of flats up on the skyline.

There doesn’t seem to be much wrong with this photograph

st helier channel islands granville manche normandy franceAnd to underline everything, round on the other side of the Pointe du Roc, the weather was even clearer.

Jersey stood out clearer than I have ever seen it and so I took a photo of the island with the zoom/telephone lens.

Hand-held again – no tripod. And I cropped out a couple of small sections of the photos and enlarged them to see what kind of results they would give.

st helier channel islands granville manche normandy franceAnd if you remember from the other day when I took a few photographs of St Helier and enlarged them, then if anything these today have come out even better than those previously.

St Helier has certainly come out more clearly and more distinctly than it ever has done before.

And in case you have forgotten, that’s about 54 kilometres away from where I’m standing.

Ingrid rang me up this afternoon and we had quite a lengthy chat. So much so that it was rather late when I went for my afternoon walk.

world war 1 exhibition granville manche normandy franceAt lunchtime someone had asked me the directions to an exhibition on the Granville soldiers in World War I

I didn’t know where it was but I made a few unofficial enquiries and managed to track it down – in the public rooms at the back here.

And one of the things that impressed me – or should I say “depressed” me was the fact while there were those who were honoured as being tué à l’ennemie, those who died of illness or disease in the army were treated less honourably, and those who were taken prisoner were treated little better than deserters.

One prisoner who escaped and made his way back to his unit via the Netherlands and the UK was treated as a spy or collaborator.

sunset granville manche normandy franceBy now, it was quite late, and as I went outside I noticed the crowds gazing out to sea in the direction of the Ile de Chausey.

We were having yet another beautiful sunset this evening. The good day was drawing to a perfect climax. It’s been quite a while since we’ve had such a nice evening.

Apart from that, there wasn’t much else going on and I completed my walk without any further interruption.

Tea was a vegan burger with vegetables, and then I went off for a walk around the headland.

And what a beautiful evening it was too. Not a cloud in the sky, but thousands of stars clearly visible. Just like back in the Auvergne.

So I’ll leave you with a few more photos. I’m off to bed.

ile de chausey ferry granville manche normandy france
One of the ferries for the Ile de Chausey

canoe english channel granville manche normandy france
Canoeing in the sea off the Pointe du Roc

donville les bains granville manche normandy franceA cropped and enlarged section from a previous photo

breville sur mer granville manche normandy franceA cropped and enlarged section from a previous photo showing Breville sur Mer

pointe du roc granville manche normandy franceA bit more of a beautiful sunset

Tuesday 23rd October 2018 – THE BAD NEWS IS …

… that when I went to put on my boots to go out this afternoon, I noticed that the right boot had split all the way down the seam.

That’s really disappointing because although I’ve had them for about 18 months I’ve only worn them for the last three or four months and they cost me a lot of money too. It seems that the whole idea about “quality” has right gone down the tubes just recently.

Despite something of a late-ish night I was up and about before the third alarm went off, and that is certainly progress. I’d been on my travels too, but as soon as I awoke it all disappeared right out of my head and I don’t have a clue where I was … “nothing new there” – ed.

After the medication and breakfast, I had a few errands to do before I can start work. And there were such a few that it was about 10:30 when I finally settled down in front of the laptop.

First task was to deal with the photos from yesterday. There were more than I thought too and now they are all on-line. And well-worth a look too because a couple are really good.

After that, I had a little fun with the old Nikon D5000 that died a death about three years ago. I fitted a new battery in it and eventually it powered up. And I could see the problem – in that the LED screen display is so weak that in the natural daylight outside it looks as if it’s not lit – and hence the camera appears not to work.

So I fitted a lens and an SD card into it and sallied forth for lunch on the wall with butties, book and the aforementioned. I started to take a few photos with the camera but after the first photo, there wasn’t enough in the battery to power up the auto-focus.

I put the battery back in the newer Nikon and it worked perfectly. Back in the old one and there we were again with not enough power.

It looks as if the PCB is corroding and stopping the current from passing through. But then again I’ve had it over 8 years and it’s done some heavy work in that time. And it was second-hand when I bought it too, having been manufactured in 2008 apparently.

So it’s not too bad, I suppose.

kids on roofs of houses granville manche normandy franceAt least the camera in the mobile phone was working, which was just as well.

At a meeting that I had attended a few months ago there were complaints from householders about kids descending the cliffs and clambering over the roofs of the houses.

And while I was eating my butties there was a group of kids doing just that.

This afternoon I carried on with my High Arctic pages for a while.

beach plat gousset granville manche normandy franceBut later I went out for my afternoon walk around the walls.

With it being he school holidays there were quite a few people about, walking on the beach in the sun.

Not as many as you might expect, but there was a wind that was quite strong that would be enough to keep most people away

hang gliders granville manche normandy franceBut there were some people out there who were taking full advantage of the wind.

In the past, we’ve seen plenty of photos of the birdmen soaring up over the cliffs and the Pointe du Roc on the gusts of wind.

And there they were this afternoon too. And I had the zoom/telephoto lens at the ready

hang gliders performing aerobics over cemetery granville manche normandy franceThere were quite a few who seemed to be performing a bizarre kind of aerobatics as their appliances struggled up the cliffs.

I’ve said … “and on many occasions too” – ed … that one day it’s all going to end in tears, and at least, if it happens to this guy here, he won’t have far to go afterwards.

Erma Brombeck once famously said of skiing “I’ve no intention of participating in any sport that has ambulances waiting at the bottom of the hill”, and in the same vein, I wouldn’t want to participate in any sport which involves being up in the air in an unpowered machine performing aerobatics right over a cemetery.

drilling into rock walls granville manche normandy franceRound on the other side of the walls there were a couple of people working on the steep slope.

They had this most impressive drill that was making short work of drilling into the rocky slope and I wouldn’t mind taking this back to the Auvergne with me.

Full of curiosity as to what they were doing, I made the appropriate enquiries. Apparently there had been some rock falls along the slope so they were in the process of erecting a safety net across the face to retain any falling rock.

Back here, I had a little … errr … relax and was the distracted by opening the door of the fridge to find that one of the door shelves had broken, and everything on it came crashing to the floor.

Tea was a burger and bap with baked potatoes and vegetables. Delicious it was too.

But there are no photos this evening. It was reasonably clear outside in the evening but there was a vicious wind going on and it was difficult to keep my feet around the headland, never mind the tripod too.

So it’s another early night. And then I have an important thing to do tomorrow with a serious time limit.

I need to be on form.

hang gliders granville manche normandy franceHang gliders Granville

plat gousset granville manche normandy francePlat Gousset, Granville.

And where have the bathing cabins gone?

hang gliders cimetierre granville manche normandy franceHang gliders over the cemetery in Granville.

Sunday 18th December 2016 – I’VE BEEN …

train railway station leuven aarschot antwerpen centraal antwerp central belgium december decembre 2016… out and about on my travels again this afternoon.

A little saunter up into town took me to the railway station and my train, but I wasn’t going to Aarschot and neither was I going to Antwerp Central railway station either, but seeing that it’s nearly Christmas, I’ve actually just been to Nazaret.

I consider that to be a highly appropriate place to visit at this time of year.

nazaret belgium december decembre 2016You’re probably wondering just where Nazaret might be, and what there might be to see in Nazaret to attract my attention.

The fact is that Nazaret can be reached by train from Leuven and a good brisk half-hour walk at the side of the railway line and then along the road in the direction of Lisp, and I’m sure that you think that I’m joking too.

But I’m not

lierse sk Herman Vanderpoortenstadion lier lisp belgium december decembre 2016What there actually is in Nazaret, or actually in Lisp because it’s apparently across the commune’s border, is the Herman Vanderpoortenstadion, otherwise known as Het Lisp, and that’s the home ground of Lierse SK, the football club of Lier.

That’s my destination for today, because OH Leuven are playing there today. Everyone tells me that I ought to get out more, and so going to watch OH Leuven fits into that plan.

lierse sk Herman Vanderpoortenstadion lier lisp belgium december decembre 2016The stadium is quite a modern stadium and there was a fair crowd in here today. The atmosphere was good – quite noisy, which makes a change from Tubize the other day.

I was sitting in the stand at the back of the goals with a pile of old men (somehow it seemed quite appropriate) and there can’t be anything more Belgian that sitting in a stand at a Second-Division football match clutching a bag of fritjes

It’s another place where there’s no fritkot between the station and the football ground and that’s a rather desperate state of affairs here in Belgium.

cheerleaders lierse sk Herman Vanderpoortenstadion lier lisp belgium december decembre 2016I’m glad that I arrived at the ground in plenty of time because one of the most exciting features of the game is the pre-match entertainment.

We actually had some cheerleaders out there dancing away. Something of a motley crew rather like the ones whom I saw in that diner on the Interstate near Bangor, Maine, a few years ago, but cheerleaders just the same.

It was a shame that their routine was rather sedate, but nevertheless it warmed me up a little.

lierse sk Herman Vanderpoortenstadion lier lisp belgium december decembre 2016We also had a parade and a triumphal arch with enormous flags to welcome out the players to the pitch. It reminded me like something of a Nuremburg Rally in the mid 1930s.

But I did have a little smile about the standard bearers. And I’m sure that you don’t need me to describe them because you can imagine them yourself, but I will do all the same.

They were all probably in their late 20s and 30s, large, overweight and wearing glasses and you’ll see them in every similar organisation carrying buckets and that kind of thing.

lierse sk Herman Vanderpoortenstadion lier lisp belgium december decembre 2016As for the match itself, it started slowly but gradually through the first half OH Leuven began to impose themselves.

The more pressure that OH Leuven applied, the more apparent it became that it was the Keystone Cops playing in the Lierse SK defence. If you thought that Pionsat’s defence was chaotic at times, you haven’t seen anything yet.

But if Lierse SK had the Keystone Cops in defence, OH Leuven had Laurel and Hardy playing up front. To give you just one example of many, Casagolda missed a free header into an empty net from three yards out and his striking partner, the big Macedonian striker Jovan Kostovski following up, shot into the side netting when it was far, far easier to score.

The only surprise was that it took OH Leuven to score. While two Lierse SK defenders dillied and dallied about clearing the ball, Kostovski stuck out a boot in between them and lifted the ball over the keeper into the net.

And as you might expect, we had two different teams out there in the second half. I was expecting OH Leuven to go out there and score three or four more but instead, sat right back and allowed Lierse SK to bring the game to them.

By about 60 minutes, Lierse SK started to play good attacking football and from then, they went on the rampage and it all began to look rather uncomfortable for OH Leuven.

We had a couple of penalty calls and despite some rather weird decisions that the officials had been calling, they had the penalty decisions just right.

The most controversial was a loose bouncing ball in the penalty area that Gillekens dived for and pushed away. There was a collision with a Lierse SK attacker but in my mind, there was no doubt whatever that Gillekens was playing the ball – in fact he had managed to have both hands to the ball in order to push it away – and the collision was after Gillekens had played the ball.

No doubt in my mind whatever that it was not a penalty, but he didn’t half receive some abuse from the crowd for the rest of the match, particularly when on two occasions he was over the goal line (but the ball wasn’t) when he caught the ball.

lierse sk Herman Vanderpoortenstadion lier lisp belgium december decembre 2016But it was inevitable that Lierse SK was going to score, with the amount of pressure that they had been applying.

Right on 90 minutes too and it was a penalty as you might expect. The ball definitely hit the arm of a defender from a cross on the goal line, and it did indeed divert the ball, but it was one of these harsh decisions where the player’s arm was right by his body and there was no intent whatever to play the ball with the arm.

A penalty, yes, but just sheer bad luck.

railway station lier belgium december decembre 2016And so I walked back to the railway station at Lier in order to come back to Leuven.

And as I walked down the side of the railway line I noticed a train leaving the station. “I bet that that’s my train” I mused to myself, and when I arrived at the station, I found that it was too!

Ordinarliy I would have had to wait another 55 minutes for the next train but a friendly neighbourhood guard on another train told me how I could go to Leuven on the Liège train, changing at Aarschot.

christmas decorations leuven belgium december decembre 2016And so what else have I been up to today? While you admire some more photos of the Christmas decorations at Leuven I’ll tell you about it.

Despite a somewhat-disturbed night that involved a trip down the corridor, I was fast-asleep when the alarm went off this morning.

But I’d been on my travels too, to the abandoned communities of Hebron and Okak on the day that they were being abandoned (which, or course, was not the same date but never mind). And I’d entered into a “relationship” with a young Inuit girl, just as many kablunas did when they arrived on the Coasts of Labrador.

And after breakfast, I had to get a wriggle on. Alison was planning to go to the English Shop after lunch and did I want to go?

It meant that I would be in a dreadful rush to catch my train and so I went for a walk uptown to the railway station so that I would have my ticket all ready for what I reckoned would be a dash to the train.

kids in bakfiets leuven belgium december decembre 2016And on the way back, we had another one of these “Only in Belgium” moments.

Here in Belgium and in the Netherlands, we have what is called a bakfiets, a bicycle built to carry goods. And here we have a mother who has decided to go out for a bike ride with the kids on a Sunday morning, and what she has done is to simply chuck the kids into the bakfiets.

barrel organ man leuven belgium december decembre 2016The barrel organ singer from yesterday was there too, but this morning he wasn’t singing – just turning the handle of the organ.

I had a good look at his barrel organ, and it’s one of these sheet music things where the sheets are rather solid and have punched holes so that the pegs that work the notes of the organ that are required to be played are operated by the holes in the sheets. Spring pressure keeps the pegs inoperable, but the holes allow the corresponding pegs to open, and that’s how the music was played.

christmas decorations town square leuven belgium december decembre 2016Alison came round as arranged at 12:45 and by this time I was outside waiting for her – the quicker we get away, the quicker we come back.

It was quite crowded in the English Shop but there was a really good selection of products that had just come in and I was able to stock up with some very useful articles.

They are stored in Caliburn right now, and I’ll show you a photo of them after I’ve been to rescue them.

Shock! Horror!

christmas illuminations leuven city centre belgium december decembre 2016The train was two minutes late, which is most unlike Belgium, and as we unloaded at Aarschot the train from Liège pulled in bang on time so we had to run to the next platform. This train was absolutely packed and I had to fight my way into a seat.

And I crashed out too for 10 minutes on the train. It had been a long walk.

But the train arrived back in Leuven bang on time and we had the usual tidal wave surge up the street into the town and passed the Christmas decorations that by now were all lit up.

christmas illuminations leuven city centre belgium december decembre 2016It’s certainly much nicer here in the city centre with the illuminations, isn’t it? And as it wasn’t all that cold right now, I hung around to take a few photos.

As we’ve seen, the camera on the telephone is nothing like as good as the Nikon D5000 but as you know, we can’t take “professional” cameras into football grounds these days and so the phone is the best that I can do.

christmas illuminations leuven city centre belgium december decembre 2016So having spent a good 20 minutes walking around the city centre and the lights, I came back to my little room in the hostel.

It’s Sunday night, and that means pizza. And with my little trip back home when I was able to pick up some more stuff, I’d come back with my pizza tray and in my new cooking mode, I decided to make my own pizza.

And having bought a packet of these half-baked half-baguettes, I made some garlic bread too.

christmas illuminations leuven city centre belgium december decembre 2016But it didn’t work out too well. The oven here doesn’t seem to work – only the grill – and so my pizza was burnt on top and uncooked on the underside. I’ll have to rule this out.

The small table-top oven works reasonably well and I’ll have to use that the next time, although a pizza won’t fit into it. I’ll have to cook it in two halves.

After pizza, I had plenty of things to do, but I just crashed out.

I’d had a long, hard, busy day.

Sunday 16th October 2016 – OOOH LOOK!

sncb multiple unit antwerp central station belgium october octobre 2016It’s a train! And it’s not in Leuven station either, is it?

Yes, I’ve been out and about today, and on my travels too. Nothing like a nice afternoon out, a change of scenery, a change of ideas and all of that. And to somewhere that I haven’t been for ages and which I quite like too.

Doesn’t this all make a change?

All in all, it was a really good day up to a certain point. Especially as I’d had a really good night’s sleep.

I was in bed reasonably early last night (something like 22:30 if I remember correctly) and more-or-less straight asleep. And the next thing that I remember was that it was 06:45. That was totally painless – I’ll tell you that. I’d been on my travels as well but don’t ask me where I went and what I did because I remember nothing at all.

And by 08:15 I’d breakfasted and even been down the road to the boulanger for my Sunday baguette. That’s what I call “organised”. I spent the rest of the morning working on my blog and by the time that I’d finished, it was completely up-to-date.

That on its own deserved a reward. And it was a beautiful day too, with not a cloud in the sky.

And so I hit the streets.

antwerp central railway station belgium october octobre 2016This is one of the most beautiful buildings in Belgium (yes, I’m still in Belgium) and I bet that you won’t know as what it serves until I tell you. You’ll never guess.

It’s not a palace, a court of an art gallery or a museum, but it is in fact a railway station – one of the most beautiful in the world. Antwerp Central railway station it is, and it’s a monument to everything that is great and good about Belgian architecture.

antwerp central railway station belgium october octobre 2016It took 10 years to build – from 1895 to 1905 – and replaced the original railway station that had been the terminus of one of the very first railway lines in the country.

And although you might not think so, it was hit by a German V2 rocket during World War II. While no significant damage appeared to have been caused, the shock waves from the blast had undermined the stability of the roof, which then in the early 1980s started to sag alarmingly.

glass roof antwerp central railway station belgium october octobre 2016The roof of the train shed is one of the most magnificent parts of a most magnificent building. It covers 12,000m² and was designed by Clément van Bogaert. To have demolished it (or even to have demolished the station, which at one time was being seriously discussed) would have been nothing short of an act of deliberate vandalism.

But wiser heads prevailed.The station was closed for a short while in the late 1980s and the glass was replaced by polycarbonate, which is about half of the weight of the glass and which seems to have resolved the problem.

We have seen on our travels around the Northern hemisphere some totally disgraceful acts of vandalism as classic railway stations have been butchered or even demolished to make way for the 21st Century.

antwerp central railway station belgium october octobre 2016Here in the Antwerp Central Railway station, they have been solving the problem of expansion in a way that is so simple and so straightforward that it’s a wonder that no other railway network or modern architect has tried it.

What they did was simply to expand downwards. The railway station is built on four levels – the newest and most modern level, to accommodate the TGVs, is on the fourth level down. It’s all so simple, isn’t it?

I went outside into the sunshine, because it really was a nice day. Here, I’m in the Meir

meir antwerp central railway station belgium october octobre 2016But we can’t go off down the Meir without looking backwards at this gorgeous building. yes, you’ve guessed – it’s the Antwerp Central Station again, designed by Louis Delacenserie, the city architect of Bruges and who was responsible for the restoration of the magnificent buildings in that city. And you can see why I’ve placed the station so highly on my list of magnificent buildings.

And if you look carefully at the plaque just above the entrance arch, you’ll see (although you can’t see it in this photo) the word Middenstatie – Middle Station in Flemish. That’s the original name of the Railway Station.

And then I had a sudden shock. I’d noticed the time. I’d been so engrossed in what I was doing with the Central Station that I had completely overlooked the real purpose of my visit to the city.

I needed the tram 5, and I had worked out the route that it took, and so I headed off to a nearby tram stop to wait.

And wait

And wait.

And wait.

underground tram network metro antwerp belgium october octobre 2016Suddenly, I had a flash of inspiration. I walked around the corner and there was a flight of stairs leading down. I hadn’t realised this, and how I ground my teeth when I had worked it out, that trams 2,3,5 and 6 are called the “Metro” and they run through the city underground – not on the surface where I had been waiting.

And so about 20 minutes later than I had hoped to be, I finally discovered the underground metro system and then had to wait 10 minutes for my tram.

Damn and blast!

bosuilstadion royal antwerp football club deurne belgium october octobre 2016And here I am in Deurne, on the outskirts of the city. And this is the Bosuilstadion, the home of Royal Antwerp Football Club.

This was my destination for this afternoon and I’ve finally made it, 20 minutes after kick-off. And my odyssey isn’t over yet, because being so late, all of the ticket booths are closed.

A steward directed me to an office where I had to argue my way into the ground (I’m impressed with how much my Flemish is improving) and I ended up having to pay €25:00 for en expensive seat. They wouldn’t let me into the cheap seats.

bosuilstadion royal antwerp football club deurne belgium october octobre 2016And by the time that I finally entered the ground, I’d missed almost all of the first half. and I’d missed two goals too. 1-1 it was when I finally took my seat.

All of that I’d missed, and for €25:00 too. I fancied a cup of coffee after all of my exertions, but the unexpected €10:00 over what admission to the cheap seats would have cost me had cleaned me out.

I was not having a very good day today.

OH Leuven bosuilstadion royal antwerp football club deurne belgium october octobre 2016I didn’t mention that the reason for my coming here was that OH Leuven was playing away against Royal Antwerp. That’s them in the black strip – Royal Antwerp in the white and red.

I’ve been without my football fix for two months now and the easy accessibility of trains, the proximity of Antwerp to Leuven and the glorious weather was more than enough to entice me out of my cocoon to watch the action, such a sit might have been.

bosuilstadion royal antwerp football club fans celebrate second goal OH Leuven Deurne belgium october octobre 2016The Royal Antwerp fans are very happy – letting off a red smoke bomb and waving a huge club flag about.

And so they ought to be, too. They’ve just scored a second goal, a goal that turns out to be the decisive, winning goal.

And at the final whistle, It occurs to me that I have never ever seen OH Leuven do anything else except lose. I must be the Kiss of Death to OH Leuven.

In fact, from what I saw of the game, it was pretty miserable. There wasn’t much in the way of excitement and the goalkeepers didn’t really have to do all that much. The Royal Antwerp keeper was the busier of the two but he wasn’t really under all that much pressure.

Royal Antwerp had a player, the squad n°55, who was an exciting player when he had the ball. He looked the best player on the pitch at certain moments, but he only seemed to work in fits and starts and it didn’t seem to me as if he was all that keen to run and chase around when he didn’t have the ball – not that I would know all that much about it.

magnificent buildings meir antwerp belgium october octobre 2016I caught the tram back into the city and decanted myself out into the Meir. The Meir is the main shopping street of the city and where everything in the city goes on, and it’s also where there are some really magnificent buildings here.

I was lucky in that it hadn’t gone quite dark by this time, so the camera on my mobile phone could cope with the situation, such as taking a photo of the big Inno Department Store here, with the much-more banal Delhaize supermarket in the foreground.

meir antwerp belgium october octobre 2016My idea of a late evening wandering around the city taking some photographs came to a rather dramatic halt as the light disappeared.

Had I had the Nikon D5000 with me, it wouldn’t have been too much of an issue but cameras like that aren’t allowed in football grounds in Belgium so I hadn’t brought it with me – relying instead on the camera on the telephone, which doesn’t work very well in situations like this.

Instead, I went to sort out some cash and then went for something to eat. It’s Sunday, pizza night, I had bought some vegan cheese the other day and I’d seen a very democratic pizza place on my travels. It was run by real Italians too, and I ended up speaking Italian to them – and it’s been a long time … "two years ago last summer when you were in the Alto Adige in fact" – ed … since I’ve done that.

Brought back a few memories, that did. I must go off to Italy again.

multiple unit antwerp central station belgium october octobre 2016Down in the bowels of the station I waited for my train back to Leuven. I’d come on the line via Brussels Airport and Mechelen, so I decided to go back on the line via Lier and Aarschot.

Not that it would make any difference because it was pitch black outside at this time of night and I couldn’t see a thing.

The train was packed when we set off, and as the journey progressed, more and more people crowded in. 99% of the people on board were students, dragging their suitcases behind them. Leuven is world-famous for its University, which is huge, and I imagine that all of these students have been home for the weekend and are now heading back to their kots.

It can’t have been unexpected because the train had been extended from the normal size to accommodate the crowds. So much so that there was an announcement “for those of you alighting from the train at Heverlee, DO NOT travel in the first four carriages. Presumably they don’t fit alongside the platform there.

town hall leuven belgium october octobre 2016The train pulled into the Station and the train disgorged about 99% of its passengers. And like a huge tidal wave, they all swarmed up the main drag into town, dragging their suitcases behind them.

People were dropping off the end of the wave the further towards the town centre we advanced, but there was still quite a crowd as we passed the beautiful Leuven Town Hall, all lit up in the night.

And when I finally reached my hostel and installed myself in my little room, I could still hear the rolling suitcases rattling by.

So here I am now, back at home, tired out and spent up. It’s been an exhausting day and I’m spent up – and not for very much good purpose either as I’d missed almost half of my football match.

But never mind – I’ve had a nice afternoon out, even if the photos don’t do the journey any justice. It’s a shame that I couldn’t take the Nikon and had to rely on the camera on the telephone, but I’ve done the best that I can.

I hope that you all enjoy it.

Saturday 10th September 2016 – NOW THAT WAS MUCH MORE LIKE IT!

In bed at a reasonably early hour and despite the odd trip down the corridor it was totally painless and I didn’t feel a thing until the alarm went off at 06:00. I wouldn’t mind doing that again. I felt much better after that.

And we had a slow start to the day seeing as how not much was likely to happen here. Darren and Amber went off to the tyre depot, and after a somewhat late breakfast Rachel and I spent the morning doing stuff and having a long chat about this, that and the other.

But these insurance problems are never-ending, aren’t they? We went to print off the proposal form – and the printer ran out of ink. It’s almost as if I’m destined not to take out this insurance, isn’t it?

However, as I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … we don’t have problems, we have solutions. So I forwarded the e-mail up to the tyre depot and they printed it out up there and brought it back when the place closed. So what’s going to be the next hitch now?

For lunch I had a couple of wraps filled with vegetables and my vegan cheese, and then we we had a little task to perform. The golf-cart had broken down and so it needed to be looked at. After quite a few complicated manoeuvres and procedures, one of which involved a rather large hammer, we came to the conclusion that the starter solenoid had failed. That’s a mail order job for a later date.

But while I was down there I washed off all of the small plastic storage boxes that I had taken out of Strider the other day and forgotten to clean off. They’ve come up nicely and are sitting there drying out now, ready to go back inside the pickup.

We hadn’t finished yet either. The air-conditioning unit in the living room had packed up a while ago and a new replacement had arrived. We decided to fit it, and that involved cutting a new wooden blocking panel as the new unit is larger than the old one.

We had already made a start when Darren’s brother-in-law turned up. He’s a joiner by profession and had all of the right tools with him in his truck, so he took over the work and the job was done in half an hour. Having the correct tools doesn’t half make a difference to a task like this.

By now it was tea time and we were quite numerous – Amber had a friend round and there was also Darren’s sister and her husband (he who had helped us with the air-conditioning), so tea stretched out for a good couple of hours while we sat around chatting.

garden fire centreville new brunswick canada september septembre 2016It was a beautiful evening and as a rather large pile of rubbish had been gathering all around the place, we decided that we would have a garden bonfire.

This was really quite pleasant, all of us sitting around outside toasting ourselves by the flames in the warmth of a September evening, and it’s a shame that the photo hasn’t done the scene very much justice.

You might remember back from March that the big Nikon D5000 has now officially ceased once more to function, and I’m having to work with a cheap one that I bought in Quebec in 2012 when I had a similar difficulty. I was planning on buying a much better camera but I’m not sure whether there’s much point in spending a shed-load of money on something like that, given my state of health.

I wasn’t out for all that long. It was soon bed-time for me so I came inside, ready for an early night and hoping that I would have just as much of a good sleep as I had had the previous evening.

Thursday 24th March 2016 – BACK IN THE NETHERLANDS

That’s right – I’ve left my comfy little spec at Paul’s Hotel this morning and headed east – in the driving rain.

But while we’re on the subject of the hotel, the breakfast that I had this morning was excellent. The coffee was beautiful for a start, and so was the bread and jam. I even had a comfy hour or so in the lounge while I did some work on the laptop that needed doing. In other words, I thoroughly enjoyed my stay here and although it was expensive, I had my money’s worth.

I’d travelled miles while I’d been asleep. Having been awoken by attack after attack after attack of cramp (which I’m very sad to see has returned after all this time), we started off with a sporting hero – a motorcycle racer or someone. He had an agent and also a manager. He was doing some business with his manager that involved making payments and he always made those payments promptly and always in cash with no problems whatever. One day he was in a rush to go somewhere and so he ordered a sandwich so the manager arranged to buy it. It came to €6:99 so the hero searched through his pockets to try to find something so the agent put down €7:00. The manager said that he would give back the €0:01 next time they would see each other. But the motorcyclist then went out to race, but was killed. This gave rise to the legend about him that his manager gave nothing and took everything, whereas the motorcyclist gave €0:01 and also gave his life.
So valiantly fighting off another attack of cramp, I was out in Labrador City, but it wasn’t Labrador City but a kind of linear village in the High Arctic, all along some kind of track. We’d gone there to take the supplies and the girl with whom I had gone, she had gone in front in an open-topped bulldozer-type vehicle to clear the route and I was in the closed-up vehicle bring the supplies behind because the girl said that it would be warmer. When we arrived, we were besieged by people who were after their stuff. We were talking to a woman there who was telling us about Pingu the Penguin who was some kind of local hero – everyone watched him on television. It turned out that an old girlfriend of mine, Robina, was living out there and I thought that that would be nice – I’ve not seen her for forty years. I hoped that she would come for her supplies. However, she didn’t come. Loads of others did so though – people with children and they were all talking about Pingu the Penguin. There was also a soap opera broadcast twice a day – 06:00 and 18:00, all about young people falling in love and I suddenly remembered something that I had written about this subject – a fictional story. I thought that it might possibly have been a script for this programme. We all had quite a chat about that too. One of the small boys asked me where I lived and I told him about my house – Hankelow Hall, although I called it something else. How we squatted there although I was in one of the outbuildings. We moved on from the town and ended up in the graveyard. Someone had been stealing one of the bulldozers on a regular basis and flattening the graves. One grave was an expensive grave for a person who had founded the Hobey’s (whoever they might be) chain of whatever and this grave was a particular target, having been flattened a few times and graffiti drawn in the soil such as “I used to work at Hobey’s”. Everyone in the town was disturbed by this and they had been unable to catch the culprit and stop them flattening this cemetery again and again.
Having managed to avoid another attack of cramp, I was back in Virlet, but it wasn’t Virlet as I know it. There were lots of ruined, abandoned houses all together. I was there with mine and Liz was there with hers and we were talking about selling and going off somewhere else. We went to an estate agent, who turned out to be Lieneke, to try to sell our properties for us. We had had all kinds of people coming to visit and they had asked all kinds of stupid questions so I reckoned that I ought to open a “stupid questions” file. I had to contact the mayor, who was in fact Rebecca from the OU, and find out all of the answers to these stupid questions. That would save everyone so much time. We were having quite a chat about this on the telephone and Lieneke went away. It was pretty close to Easter at this point and suddenly three or four caravans turned up and parked on some land at an abandoned house. Loads and loads of hippies arrived and installed themselves there, about 100 yards from my house. Lieneke asked me what I thought about all of these hippies. I said that I had nothing against them and they were entitled to their own lifestyle and it was sometimes a good thing because they can bring new ideas and new ways of thinking into a stagnant region, but they can saturate an area. I didn’t want 100 hippies living in an area like this. There was a programme on TV and I had been wanting to see it for quite some weeks, which is not like me. The village café had a bar so I had arranged to meet Liz somewhere so we had agreed on the café and I went there way earlier to watch this programme. I was sitting on a chair with a coffee watching this when I local turned up and sat down by me. He started to discuss this programme with me, which is what I didn’t want to do, and to my surprise, this person had some really intelligent points to make about it. And it was only something boring, like a quiz game.
Once more, after another disturbance, I was back in my house, which resembled something like my old apartment at Reyers, with someone who might have been June. Someone had arrived during the night and was ill and so had been put into one of the spare bedrooms (I didn’t even have one bedroom in Reyers – it was a studio!). This person needed me to help him recover and so I took him a breakfast tray and went to see how he was. It took ages to find the door into the room – I don’t know why – and so I knocked on the window to let him know I was there, and then tried again to find the door. It took a while to do that but eventually there I was. I said to the guy that I hoped that I hadn’t disturbed him too early but he laughed and pointed out that it was now just after 16:00 – I’d slept all that time! I sat down by the man and asked him about himself, but he apologised for wasting my time – it turned out to be only a simple headache and now he was feeling much better and didn’t need my services. At this point, June said that a weekend’s rest would do him good – why didn’t he come down to her place with a group of her people and play in a scrabble tournament? He liked the idea but the stakes (they were gambling – so much per point) were quite elevated and it ruled me out. But something that he said had made my ears prick up. It was quite a disreputable project so June wasn’t at all keen and quite rightly so, but hidden away underneath a fairground carousel was one of the very first Citroen 2CVs and that was the prize. But it was all weighing heavily down on me. I was 60 and I should have retired back in February and it was now the month of May. I needed to get away so I told June that I was going to see Stevie Smith, my old boss from way back, and tell him that I was leaving in three weeks time. She thought that I was being crazy, especially seeing that I was still being paid.

Back on the road, and we’ve started off with a major tragedy too. The battery in the Nikon D5000 seems to have died a death.

It was pretty flaky yesterday, I noticed, even though it had been fully-charged. And today, it just wouldn’t work at all – keeping on telling me that it’s flat. Which it isn’t of course because 2 minutes in the charger and the “fully-charged” light comes on.

The camera itself has never been the same since I dropped it in Quebec in 2012 and so I suspect that half of the problem is not with the battery but with the camera – maybe the contacts are slightly bent out of shape. But anyway, now (or, at least, when I return home) is the moment to upgrade the camera – something that I have been threatening to do for quite a while.

world war two fortifications atlantic wall english channel coast netherlands belgium borderYou’ll have to make do with some photos taken on the camera phone, such as this one.

The area where we are is an open shoreline with miles of flat land behind it, and has easy access to the port of Antwerp. It’s therefore quite heavily-fortified to protect it from invasion from the sea or from the Netherlands border and the fortifications still remain even today, like all over this coastline.

I’d bought a baguette, which was one of the nicest that I have ever eaten, but also one of the most expensive too. And I headed off via Cadzand to Breskens to sit on the estuary to eat my butty.

ship western scheldt estuary netherlandsThis is exactly the same spot where I ate my butty yesterday, but you can see the difference in the weather.

It really is wet, grey and miserable today and the wind is fairly strong. And you still can’t see very much through the fog. I’d love to tell you more about the ship that’s sailing past but I can’t make it out.

There are probably 1000 other ships out there too, but I don’t have a chance of seeing them.

After lunch, I headed off and found the bored tunnel under the Scheldt. It cosy €5:00 to go through, which I don’t suppose is too bad seeing as it’s 6.6kms long, and Strawberry Moose, Caliburn and I sang a few songs and played a game of hide and seek with the tunnel in order to cheer it up.

The weather brightened up on Walcheren and wasn’t too bad at all by the time I arrived at Zoutelande. I quickly found a hotel, the price of which for five days bed and breakfast would have bought a hotel in France. But there’s parking here for Caliburn (it’s expensive to leave it on the street), I was tired and about ready to crash out. And it is Easter weekend anyway and the town is crowded.

After an hour’s sleep I went for a walk – in the rain because it was heaving down. There doesn’t seem to be a fritkot here either but at least there are a couple of pizza places and I have some vegan cheese.

I won’t need much rocking tonight, that’s for sure.

Sunday 20th March 2016 – JUST IN CASE ANYONE IS WONDERING …

… the big patch of oil right by where I park Caliburn is due to the fact that I didn’t notice that there was a hole in the filler neck of my oil container when I was topping him up this morning. I seem to have ended up with more oil on the floor than in Caliburn’s engine. But he’s been topped up with water too, windscreen wiper liquid, all kinds of things.

I also washed and scrubbed all of the camping gear too so that that’s all ready. And apart from the coffee, I also seem to have forgotten the matches too. But at least I can buy them en route somewhere, I suppose.

So after a memorable night, memorable in the sense that I don’t remember anything about it, except for somewhere there was a girl of about 4 or 5 and another one, dressed in red and white, aged about 12 in it somewhere, that’s my lot. I was up yet again before the alarm clock and after breakfast, prepared myself, Caliburn and Strawberry Moose for the departure. All of my paperwork is on board as well, and I’ll let the new doctor sort out what he wants from all of this.

And after lunch, which was more home-made mushroom soup (made of real home-made mushrooms of course), we set off into the mist, rather like the boy who took his girlfriend out into the fog and mist.

chateau de puy guillon vernusse allier france. Letting The Lady Who Lives In The SatNav do her work, we followed a merry, mazy ramble through the Auvergne countryside towards the expressway at Montmarault, passing by the Chateau de Puy Guillon at Vernusse, somewhere that I have certainly never seen before.

Impressive it certainly is and well-worth a photo even if the battery in the Nikon D5000 was flat so that I had to use the camera on the phone.

And you can see what I mean about the mist as well.

Once I joined the expressway, the rest of the route was without a problem and everything went according to plan, although having left the SatNav on “shortest distance” rather than changing it to “quickest route” did show me parts of Fontainebleu that I have certainly never seen before. I fuelled up as usual at the cheap fuel station at Melun and then took the Francilienne as far as the N2 where I headed off in the direction of Soissons.

This was where the fun started because, having determined not to stop until I’d passed the rear of Charles de Gaulle airport, I then couldn’t find a hotel, astonishing as it might seem. That’s not quite correct – I drove three times around Villers-Cotterets following signs to hotels that clearly only existed in the minds of the signwriters, and found a place that was nominally a three-star hotel but looked like a chateau and would have been outside my price range.

Soissons wasn’t much better either. I found all of the post hotels, like the Campanile and so on, but nothing in my price range at all but a few miles outside the town, in a place called Crouy, I found a modern type of hotel, the New Access Hotel, advertising rooms at €35:00 plus breakfast €5:00. Full of foreboding, but tired and fed up and in the dark, I went and signed in.

As I feared, it was an old Formule One, clearly sold off by Accor as it needed renovation and wasn’t worth the money spending on it, and now run by an Indian family, as most of these places all over the western world seem to be. We discussed meals and it seemed that there was a pizza delivery service nearby, so I placed my order (there was a microwave so adding my own cheese would be no problem) and went to my room.

Despite half an hour trying, I couldn’t get the heating to work and it was cold. And then the plug was so tight up against the wall that I couldn’t plug in the laptop or the battery charger for the Nikon D5000. And then I realised that I’d been there an hour and my pizza hadn’t come.

So off I trotted downstairs and saw the daughter of the hotel owners. I told her about the pizza, so she asked me if I wanted to call them to remind them. I had a better idea. “You call them and cancel it. I’ll go and find something else” – having passed a kebab and pizza place just down the road.

I passed the pizza delivery driver on the access road but it was too late by then – my tail was up. And I had the last laugh too because it turned out that where I went to was the same place as where the pizza had been ordered from, and there was a free salad included to all take-away customers, and the salad would have made a meal on its own.

So back at Ice-Station Zebra and I refused a shower in the communal facilities. I ate my pizza and salad and with no electricity to charge up the laptop (I should have done that in Caliburn on the way up) I crawled fully-clothed under the covers, kicked out the bed-bugs and settled down for the night.

Sunday 20th September 2015 – YOU MAY REMEMBER …

… the other day when I told you that I thought that it had rained during the night?

Well, there was absolutely no mistake this morning. There I was, busily taking down the tent, and the heavens opened. I was drenched.

I was intending to leave the tent out to dry out the condensation but I’ve had to forget that. It’ll be soaked even worse and so I just flung it into the back of Strider.

I had almost 200 photographs to edit too, and that wasn’t possible as I had nowhere to sit comfortably. I went off to the shower room and had a really good soak, changed my undies, and had a shave instead. No breakfast though – I heaved everything else into the back of Strider and headed off to Tim Horton’s for coffee and a comfortable seat.

All of these photos took hours to edit. My camera, which has been quite flaky since I dropped it in Quebec in May 2012, is now teetering on the edge of whatever it teeters on and the photos are getting worse and worse. A new camera is in order when I return home if I can’t find anything over here. I can’t go on like this. But I do need a really decent lens – something like a 28-85mm lens that drops down to f2.8 or beyond for this kind of work. I can’t keep going on the equipment that I have.

But the net result of this was that I had to move on. Not that I actually had to, but Tim Horton’s is very good to me when I’m on the road, what with washing facilities in the disabled loos and with the free internet, so I don’t want to abuse the facilities.

I found another Tim Hortons quite a way down the road and so I had another coffee and finished everything off, and that took me to 17:30, there was that much of it to do. And what I hadn’t realised was that when I finished, I was the only person in the place except for the staff who were hanging around waiting. It seems that the place was to close at 17:00 so that renovations could start, and I’d been holding up the work.

I hit the road after that, and Strider and I ended up on the big Irvings truckstop on the outskirts of Moncton. Tonight is the first night that I am to spend sleeping in Strider and so I needed to organise myself.

It took ages to clear everything out and I even cooked some simple food for tea. And that little table that I bought the other day is perfect for that. I did however spill all of my pasta all over the floor and that will need all cleaning out now.

The bed is just the right length and it’s reasonably comfortable too although I want to do better. But the truckstop is the wrong place for me to have spent the night – at least where I was. Lorries were coming and going throughout the night and it took me ages to get off to sleep.

I must do better tomorrow.

Sunday 9th September 2012 – ONE THING …

chateaugay fcpsh fc pionsat st hilaire michelin training track gerzat puy de dome france… about going to watch the footy with FC Pionsat St Hilaire is that you get to go to some really spectacular places.

The 2nd XI were playing at Chateaugay earlier this afternoon and the road up to the football ground has probably the best view that I have ever seen so far.

Way, way, way down there below us is the Michelin tyre testing ground and then over to the right is Gerzat where we record our programmes for Radio Arverne.

And if there had been less haze we could probably have seen right the way across to Roanne. It really was magnificent.
fc pionsat st hilaire fcpsh football chateaugay puy de dome franceAs for the football though, it was a disaster.

FC Pionsat St Hilaire started with just 9 players. A hasty telephone call brought along 3 more, somewhat late, and after 15 minutes there was something of a team out there.

With a smattering of new players this season it looked slightly-better organised.

But not for long.

fc pionsat st hilaire fcpsh football chateaugay puy de dome franceFabien, who seems to have found a little niche playing in the central defence, had to hobble off.

That meant a reorganisation with Xavier, who played up front for the 3rd XI last season, going up front and Bertrand dropping to midfield and Sébastien dropping to central defence.

When the new right-back was injured, Fabien came back on to replace him but was clearly struggling and it was clear that he was just a passenger in the side

fc pionsat st hilaire fcpsh football chateaugay puy de dome franceFabien was pushed up front, which is the correct thing to do with an injured defender and Xavier was put at right-back.

Xavier is a big, awkward, ungainly centre-forward – the type that causes a lower-league defence all kinds of problems in the opposition penalty area, but ball-control and tackling are not, unfortunately his strongpoints.

Shortly after this, someone in the Chateaugay side stood on François’ hand and so that was him off the field.

The willing and good-natured Xavier, who had done his best in goal a couple of times for the 3rd XI, valiantly took over there but the result was really a foregone conclusion.

fcpsh fc pionsat st hilaire football clermont la glaciere puy de dome franceAs for the FC Pionsat St Hilaire 1st XI, it’s clear just how much Jérôme animated the forward line of the team and how much they depended upon him for their results.

With him gone, Michael Bucaud suspended and Matthieu Sikorski injured, they had nothing to offer up front which is totally amazing for a FC Pionsat St Hilaire 1st XI side.

I can’t remember if Cedric, the star centre-forward, actually managed a shot on goal. The service he was receiving was non-existent.

fcpsh fc pionsat st hilaire football clermont la glaciere puy de dome franceTwo controversial decisions decided this match.

The referee overrruled a linesman in an offside decision and allowed play to continue.

So while the Pionsat defenders were waiting for the whistle in response to the flag, the Clermont la Glacière forward popped the ball in the net.

I know the referee (we had quite a chat in the interval) and he has a voice like a foghorn and I certainly didn’t hear him shout for play to continue – and neither did anyone else.

fcpsh fc pionsat st hilaire football clermont la glaciere puy de dome franceFive minutes later an FC Pionsat St Hilaire forward catches the ball brilliantly on his body and then volleys it beautifully from 25 yards right past the keeper into the net.

The other linesman signals for handball – and I was right level with play and if he has his hands there then I’m going back to school to re-learn all my anatomy – and the referee, miles from play, awards a free kick to Clermont la Glacière.

How the ref saw the incident when he was so far away and the player’s body in the way I just do not know, but I’m going to get myself a pair of eyes just like those just as soon as I possibly can.

Back on the way home, I stopped at the fruit stall at Combronde for some grapes and some melon and then I went round to Rosemary’s to drop off some stuff that I had bought for her in Montlucon.

puy de dome franceI had a little pause though because just on one of the bends there was a magnificent view right across the Gorge de la Sioule to St Gervais d’Auvergne perching proudly on its hilltop.

That had to be a moment to reach for the Nikon D5000 and the telephoto lens.

Hard to believe that St Gervais d’Auvergne is a good 15 kilometres further on from here, isn’t it? A good purchase, this lens.

Rosemary and I had quite a chat too – more of a gossip in fact. But that’s not important when you are amongst good friends.

But she had a laugh about me and my grapes – that I can sit and eat through a whole bag of grapes at one sitting.
“You’ll be wanting to go to the bathroom all the time” she said.
“Not me, Rosemary. Once a day, 07:30, every morning, regularly as clockwork!”
That’s very convenient and useful, Eric!”
“Not when I don’t wake up until 07:45, Rosemary, it isn’t.”

Friday 31st August 2012 – WHAT A WAY …

… to start the day!

Yes, a phone call at 08:00 from Terry “I’m off to the quarry – do you want any sand?”

Well, as you know, I am rather low on the stocks and so at 08:30 I was at the end of the lane and we went off together. 2.5 tonnes of that went into Terry’s huge trailer and then we shovelled 12 sacks – about half a tonne – into the back of Caliburn.

I was back home by 09:30, soaking wet because we were having a storm at the time. But at least i now have plenty of sand for Stage Two of my wall and that will keep me out of mischief for a while

few more hours on the web site – I’m currently walking around the walls of Québec right now (and did you know that Québec is the only walled city in the whole of America north of Mexico City?) – and then outside to play.

Pascal came round with the Twingo and a couple of dents that he had acquired. I had a play around to try to take them out out but that wasn’t any use – his car is well bashed up and so that was that.

After lunch I started on the guttering on the lean-to.

guttering glass window collapsed lean to les guis virlet puy de dome franceAnd not just started on the guttering either because there it is in all its glory, all finished.

No downpipe yet of course because I need to know the height of the water butts and all that kind of thing. That will be a later addition.

But what there is on the guttering which you might just be able to see is that there is some of that fine netting to keep out leaves and so on.

I had a few rolls of that lying around and so I’ve fitted it over the guttering. That is where the cold water supply for the house will be coming from and so I need to keep it as clean as possible.

What you might also notice if you look very carefully is the reflection of the sky in the upper right-hand window. That’s where I fitted the glass yesterday.

I was going to fit some perspex in the other one but then I thought that as I’ll be going into St Eloy-les-Mines tomorrow I may as well buy the real thing – waiting until Monday isn’t going to hurt any.

What’s also significant about this photo is that it’s taken with the Nikon D5000.

You remember that it packed up when I was on that icebreaker going out with the relief supplies to that island in the Gulf of St Lawrence in May and I had to send it away to be repaired.

Anyway, it came back this morning, much to my delight.

It seems that there was a crack in the housing, and some water from the driving rainstorm that we were having when I was on that boat found its way inside.

Strangely enough, I do recall when I was out on the Sageunay Fjord that the photos suddenly started to become woefully over-exposed. Maybe it was round about then that the crack occurred and the over-exposure would be due to the extra light finding its way in through the crack, bypassing the light meter.

I knocked off early today – 18:50 because I ran out of things to do that I could do in 10 minutes and anyway it’s POETS day today as you all know.

I’m going to take it easy this weekend and then start the re-pointing of the long wall on Monday.

I’ll finish this lean-to if it kills me.