Tag Archives: nina wilson

Wednesday 3rd April 2024 – I’VE HAD A …

… “correspondence” day today. Anyone who has been expecting a reply from me over the last couple of days should either have had one (electronic) or will have one within the next few days.

If you are expecting one and don’t receive it at some point, write and let me know because it will mean that I have overlooked it in the confusion.

And as my hero the Irish politician Boyle Roche once said at the bottom of all the correspondence that he initiated, "If you do not receive this, of course it must have been miscarried; therefore I beg you to write and let me know".

That’s how I felt last night actually – like a load of miscarried correspondence. I fell asleep twice (or was it three times?) typing out the notes from yesterday and the fact that I managed to complete them, that shows determination if nothing else.

Even though there was the usual stuff to do, I was actually in bed by 23:00 and that shows what I can do when I really try. And I wasn’t sorry to hit the sack, I can tell you.

It was a really peaceful night but I did have another one of those “false awakenings” that we talked about the other day, where I’m convinced that I’m awake but I’m actually not, and it’s a really strange feeling when the alarm goes off and I’m convinced that I’m already awake.

In the past I’ve been awake when the alarm goes off but that’s a completely different sensation of course.

First thing to do was to check the blood pressure this morning, and I don’t know why because they don’t seem all that interested at hospital. It’s 14.9/92, quite a drop on last night’s 17.7/10.2. Whatever must have been winding me up completely must have disappeared

There was the medication to deal with of course, and that takes a lot longer than it ought. And then I had to arrange the room ready for the nurse.

The blood sample thing was an absolute farce again, and there are now more holes in me than in a hedgehog’s trousers. I’d printed off the form and had it ready for him, and I’d called him last night to say that it was here so that he could bring his stuff, but that didn’t mean that he could find a vein.

It’s obviously because I’m all assembled wrongly. Anyway, according to him, it’s my fault that he can’t find a vein.

Once he’d gone (and left his blood testing kit behind) I could relax and have a listen to find out where I’d been during the night. Only one sound file on the dictaphone, one that I can’t remember at all. There was something going on with regard to stolen cars in Crewe. There was a big investigation. I was out with a girlfriend of mine and we went past one of the side streets on the industrial estate at the back of where we lived as kids. A police car was pulling up behind a tatty old blue Ford Capri so we stayed to watch. 2 policemen left the car followed by a civilian. The policemen began to interrogate this civilian about this Capri and then suddenly they began to push him around. I said in a loud voice “you can’t push him around” but my partner was quite agitated, wanting me to keep quiet. They knocked him onto the floor so I said something then but they still took no notice. My girlfriend was even more agitated. Then they had a second person there and they began to give that person a rough time. I ended up thinking to myself “I wish that I had a video camera. I’d have made a fortune taping this and selling it”.

There’s more than just an element of truth in this one too. My girlfriend from school (who appears on these pages every now and again – she’s the one who still looked exactly the same 40 years later) was rather a naïve girl and had little experience of life. I soon changed all that.

We were coming back from the pub towards her home one night when we encountered a police car and two constables parked on private property. They were watching the crowds but I was much more interested in where they were parked, so I made a caustic comment.

That led to an encounter that can only be described as “confrontational” and it certainly opened up her eyes to what happens in the real World. She was never quite the same again after that.

We once had a debate or discussion about people living on the streets, something that never existed in the early 1970s in South Cheshire when we had real Socialists, and she didn’t believe that they existed at all. So I piled her into my car and we drove to London – 180 miles in the days before motorways – through the night to find some homeless people to prove their existence – and then drove back again as dawn was breaking.

What her parents had to say about the matter of their daughter being out all night is unrecorded.

It’s like the time when I was angling for that job in New York but Laurence told me that a medium had told her once that she’d never leave Europe.

Never?

So a couple of days later, having dropped Roxanne off at a colonie de vacances where she could pet horses and goats for a week, Laurence and I were at Heathrow Airport and the rest is history.

When we came back, Laurence said to Roxanne "You’ll never guess where mummy has been"
"You’ve been to America" said Roxanne, because she was in on the joke. She was always good to take part in a joke was Roxanne, the bigger the better.

So, the correspondence.

Having already printed off the prescription for the nurse, I printed off the bon de transport and wrote out my application for authorisation for a journey to Paris

And while I was at it, I sent off a huge pile of other stuff including letters to the UK, letters to Canada and all that kind of thing in an attempt to bring everything up-to-date.

Some hopes though because there is bound to be stuff that I’ve forgotten to do, or stuff that’s going to overwhelm me in due course.

The cleaner came round today so I kept out of her way for a while but had to go in there to pay her for last month and then to talk about these injections.

They wouldn’t let me have them because of the lack of blood test reports but now that they have started up, we need to organise something so that I can have them.

The nurse said that he would become involved in this and telephone the chemists, so that’s going to be guaranteed chaos for the near future until someone sensible sorts them all out.

But it’s really sad that I’ve arrived in this state.

There was time left for another batch of Welsh homework from a previous unit, interrupted by making a batch of dough for naan breads. Most of that is now freezing, except for one ball that became my naan bread for this evening along with my delicious leftover curry

And that’s the end of the notes as well. Tomorrow there are no interruptions planned and nothing outstanding to do so I might write a batch of radio notes.

But no doubt, someone or something will come along to disrupt me. It’s like “Bomber” Harris who always said, to members of the Air Ministry whom he encountered on the streets "good morning. And what are you doing to disrupt the war effort today then?".

Now HE was someone who emphasised the definition of “unpopular”, just like me in my day. I was about as unpopular as a bank manager in the middle of a recession.

The other day I mentioned that we’d all play hide-and-seek as kids – I’d hide and the other kids wouldn’t come and look for me.

In school I was in fact known as “batteries
"why was that?" – ed
That was because I was never included in anything.

Thursday 21st March 2024 – THE BAD NEWS …

… is that tonight’s part of the footfest i.e. Cymru v Finland isn’t being “streamed to your country” on any service that I can find. And so it looks as if I shall be missing out on that.

Somewhere on my computer is “Tor” – a strange kind of browser and so in theory I could configure an anonymous VPN that would make it look as if my computer is situated in the UK but by the time that I do that the game will be over anyway.

It’s something that I suppose I ought to have considered but never mind. Here’s hoping that tomorrow night’s match is free to air in foreign places like here.

It’s been ages since I last set foot on a Welsh football ground. The last “live” match that I saw in Wales was Bangor v Rhyl in the Welsh Premier League and it was so long ago that Lee Kendall was keeping goal for Rhyl and I was there with Liz (not “this” Liz but “that” Liz) and she shuffled off this mortal coil in 2009.

It’s a far cry since the time I used to have a girlfriend at Bangor University. I’d be up there every weekend and while she was washing her smalls in the University laundry on a Saturday afternoon I’d be on the terraces at Farrar Road.

Those days are long-gone of course, and so in fact has Farrar Road. It’s now a supermarket.

And so, incidentally, have Rhyl and Bangor football clubs. At Rhyl the owner simply threw in the towel at the end of one season and at Bangor, there were the well-documented problems with a couple of characters “known to the forces of Law and Order” who became involved in the club.

However, we do have new clubs in the towns and they had to start afresh from the bottom of the pyramid. Bangor’s new team has fought its way up to the second tier and Rhyl’s new team is just one step behind. However it’ll be a long time before I ever see them again.

Not so long maybe until I see the old girlfriend again though. She’s appeared in these pages a few times – the one who we met in a pub near Oswestry who still looked as if she was 16 or 17 even then – and we still keep in touch occasionally. There’s been some kind of vague and indefinite discussion about her and her partner maybe flexing their muscles on the mainland.

They did once come to see me in Brussels and we all went skiing together once in Eastern Europe, the two of them, me and Percy Penguin.

So anyway, as things go, it took another age to do everything that I needed to do before going to bed last night and as usual it ended up being later than I would have liked, which is the story of my life right now. it brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “the late Mr Hall”.

And if there is a deeper sleep than the one that I had last night I would love to see it. When the alarm went off I was so deep that I needed a ladder to climb out.

It took a while to orientate myself – even more so than usual – and then I wandered off to take my medication, resisting today the temptation to stick my head under the cold tap.

Having done that I prepared everything for the arrival of the nurse who would fit my puttees and take the blood test that he had postponed yesterday and planned to do today.

But I was right about those being “famous last words”. He “didn’t have time” today and will “do it tomorrow”. And we’ll see about that as well. Never put off until tomorrow what you can postpone indefinitely.

Most of the day has been spent having a slow and steady saunter through the radio stuff. I’ve finished writing all the notes for the radio programme that I started yesterday and I’ve been working on two more programmes today.

One of them is rather complicated because a lot has happened on one of those particular days in past years and I need to track down a pile of stuff. And then I have to choose some music from albums that I don’t know too well.

On top of that, there are also a couple of birthdays of some rather obscure artists, like for example Steve Miller’s drummer. Having to trawl through Miller’s albums to find stuff that his drummer wrote and sang took an age.

Another thing in connection with the radio is that I’ve finally made a start (only a very slow one, of course) cataloguing the live concerts that I have, trying to find the dates that they were recorded.

Some are so famous that their dates are well-known, like the Lindisfarne ones or the “Marshall Tucker Christmas Eve” concert. Shrewsbury Folk Festival’s itinerary is on line.

Some are much more obscure but there’s A SITE ON THE INTERNET where people post the setlists of concerts that they have seen and by comparing what’s on the tapes that I have with published playlists, I’m hoping to match the concerts to the dates.

It would of course have been much easier if the dates had been written on the tapes when they were recorded, but we were young, naïve and innocent. And in any case, several of the labels have fallen off with the passage of time anyway

There was some stuff on the dictaphone too. Not much, but with a sleep as deep as the one that I had, it’s no surprise. And by the looks of things I missed some stuff out at the beginning. What I dictated was “I was pushed back by the fog and had to have a native guide or something to help me make my way through the country back to where we were. When that boy asked me what was going on I had to explain it to him how come I was having all these difficulties and why I was so late arriving” – and that’s your lot.

It’s rather like the committee of the Football Association of Wales. They need a few native bearers and guides if they have to go north of the “heads of the valleys”.
"What? To show them the way?"
"No. To carry the drinks cabinet"

But to be fair, the FAW isn’t the only Welsh organisation (and I use that term in its official, not literal, of course, sense) that thinks that there’s nothing much further north of the “heads of the valleys” except sheep and Druids.

Tea tonight was some of those Chinese stuffed pastry things with fried rice. It was lovely of course, but it could have been even nicer. It wasn’t a full bottle of soy sauce that I had on the worktop but an empty dark brown bottle of the aforementioned. Who puts stuff like that in a dark brown bottle where you can’t see how much is left?

So with no football I’m going to bed when I’ve done my tasks. Tomorrow morning I’m bread-making if I remember. I hope that it will rise up like it did last week. That was a much better batch and I can’t think of what I did right.

But thinking about that skiing holiday that I mentioned earlier, that was the time a couple of us ended up being stuck in the mountains in a thick fog when they stopped the ski lifts and everyone went home. We had to pick our way down the mountain, which would have been difficult when you could see where you are going, never mind in a thick fog.
"The first thing that I’m going to do when I get back to the hotel" I said to one of the people with me "is to give Percy Penguin a good seeing-to "
"What’s the second thing that you’ll do?" he asked.
"I dunno" I replied. "Take my skis off, probably."

Sunday 3rd December 2023 – IF MY CHRISTMAS …

… cake tastes as nice as did the bits that bubbled over the top of the cake tin onto the base of the oven, I shall be extremely pleased. It was phenomenal!

And yes, Liz, “bubbled over”.

Trying to bake a cake with no self-raising flour or eggs and just using sodium bicarbonate and red wine vinegar to produce a chemical reaction is very much a hit-and-miss process.

The last time I tried, when I made my bread-and-butter pudding, it exploded in my face, presumably because it was insufficiently cooled and mixed before I added the vinegar, but today it went perfectly and I was so impressed

But I was also so tired too.

Not that a really late night had much to do with it, but the fact that all through the night I had the Return Of The Stabbing Pain.

It defies my understanding, all this that goes on with my body. I’ve mentioned in the past … "and on many occasions too" – ed … the fact that at times during the night there’s a stabbing pain in my right foot as if someone is pushing a hatpin into the sole of my foot, and last night it occurred probably almost every 5 minutes

It went on for ages too and when I finally brought myself into the Land of the Living today at about 11:40, it was still going on.

After I’d had the medication I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. A group of resistance fighters of undercover British soldiers had been parachuted into the Occupied Territories to attack the headquarters of a German General. One of the people who worked in that office was a member of the Allied resistance and had been feeding them information. What they did was to make sure that this person made good her escape. Then they walked in and hauled a hand grenade through the door into the other office where the German General would normally work. The hand grenade exploded and there was a cry of agony from in there so they dashed inside. The General’s secretary was there. She’d been very badly injured by the bomb. She staggered out of the room into the office and saw that the office was empty save for these British soldiers. Her first thought was “where’s Madame So-and-so?”. It quickly became clear to her what had happened but no-one in the party of Allied soldiers had the courage to finish her off. 5 minutes later the German General came back in his car with a load of companions who’d been out somewhere. They stepped right into the middle of this carnage, rounded up the soldiers easily and led them away to be shot. During the whole of this dream the British soldiers made absolutely no effort whatever to resist capture and no effort whatever to try to escape or evade.

Several young children, both boys and girls, who had been dancing had come together under the tutelage of a well-known ballerina and were planning to put on a concert. It was called “The Icepedia of Madame Clifford”. She was busily arranging them into groups and teams etc, choreographing dances etc. These children were due to start any day now having their formal tuition in whatever this Madame Clifford wanted to do but just as they began, I awoke.

Later on, a group of 4 or us, 3 girls and me, had been away for a while on a kind-of touring holiday or road trip. As usual there was one girl whom I particularly liked but she was far too busy being friendly with the other 2 girls than she was spending any time alone with me, which was rather disappointing. When we reached the end of our journey there was some kind of issue or confrontation. The girl whom I liked ended up having lost her clothes so she was there basically with all that she had on. I noticed that she was wandering off to the car of one of the other girls so I went over to ask her if she was going to borrow some clothes from her. She replied “no” so I wondered if there was anything that I could do for her or to help her, give her a lift somewhere as she had no clothes, no money etc but she assured me that she’d be OK. I couldn’t actually see how but she was quite adamant. In the end I could hear the 3 girls making up some other kind of plans to meet somewhere on the way home. I felt rather annoyed that I was being left out of everything but I didn’t say anything. I got into my car, and then realised that I was going to be rather short of money for going home. Someone passing by pointed out that one of my tyres had a slow puncture so I wondered how I’d manage to resolve that too. Then the girl pulled up in her car alongside me so I began to talk to her. I had it in my mind to say that I was jealous of the fact that she spent more time with the others than she had with me etc but for some reason I just could not push the words out of my head and out of my mouth to say them. It ended up really unsatisfactory from my point of view. Then the other 2 girls turned up and talked about meeting somewhere in Munich or wherever. I realised that my timetable was going to be really tight and I couldn’t even make it if I was invited. I wondered how these girls were going to do it too. It turned out that they were going to be flying so where was the one with no clothes and no money going to find the money for that? I set off anyway, disappointedly and came to a road junction where there was a car waiting. I waited behind it but it didn’t move. I suddenly realised thet there was no driver in it so I pulled around it, checked that the road junction was clear and began to drive away.

A disabled boy with whom I used to work appeared in a dream somewhere and we talked about my illness. I told him that I had a lot of appointments unofficially registered on 22nd October and I was going to go to the hospital to talk to a few people about how things were going on. We’d been parked in Shavington outside the small parade of shops talking, then he pulled out of the parade without looking and nearly hit another car that was coming our way. Luckily he managed to stop in time but the car carried on driving. We ended up following it for a while then both it and we turned into Chestnut Avenue and began to go down the hill. He’d completely lost the thread of what he’d been saying and told me that that was a problem when his concentration was disturbed. He lost track of just about everything.

And then I was with Alison, Hans and Jackie. We were in Germany somewhere going for a meal. We all piled into one of the cars and someone drove to this restaurant out in the countryside. We went in and the restaurant was actually up some stairs but I struggled up. We eventually managed to find a place to sit. We had quite a good time talking about all kinds of different things. When the bill came mine was €30:06. While I was sorting out my money everyone disappeared. I heard them downstairs. Someone was saying something to Jackie about “shall I run you to the station now?”. That took me by surprise because I understood that we would all be staying together for the weekend. I went downstairs and to my surprise I walked down the stairs without my crutches. We were all milling around in the cloakroom gathering our clothes together. Hans told a joke that made everyone laugh. he said “that was one of Eric’s”. We collected all our coats and set off outside. It was pouring down with rain. Hans made a remark about how lucky we were that we had hats with us. He would be soaked to death walking to the car.

A group of us from the radio had gone to watch Man play in Brussels. The auditorium was packed but I managed to find a little place at the side of one of the mixing tables to put the ZOOM H1 so that it would record the sounds of the group. I wandered off to do something but when I came back there was a family sitting around this table so I went up to tell them that they needed to be very quiet because there was a live microphone recording taking place. They apologised and said that they hadn’t known that it was my seat. They stood up and left. Taking advantage of the empty seat I sat down. I suddenly realised that I hadn’t brought any spare batteries for the Zoom. it it goes flat I’ll be having a real problem. I switched off the machine while the preliminaries were taking place but just them all of the musicians came onstage. I had to switch it on again hurriedly. I’d done it so quickly that I wasn’t sure whether it was on or off. I had the feeling that this was turning into another complete mess. After the first couple of numbers I was chatting to one of the guys from the radio. I told him that if we have issues about space there are only two numbers that are absolutely essential in the recording. I told him of one but I couldn’t remember the name of the second. At that point the dictaphone began to go flat so I gathered up my things and left. After I’d been walking home after 10 minutes I realised first of all that I still had the elastic strap around my ankles and secondly, I didn’t have my crutches. I walked past the street fair and the place where people left food out for the live slugs and fish. I came to a set of steps but I thought that I better hadn’t push my luck too much with these steps without my crutches. I walked the long way round and headed home. I remember thinking that I hope that everything would be fine from now on because if I lose my crutches that’s really the end of everything. I’ve no idea what I’d do then. That was the thought that was worrying me for the rest of the way home.

Something like that actually did happen to me once while I was recording an outside broadcast. The batteries in the ZOOM H8 went flat and the spare batteries were just as dead.

Of course, I haven’t done any outside broadcasts since last Summer before I went to Canada, and for obvious reasons too.

Another reason why I’m exhausted, and probably the most relevant one, is that I’ve been on my feet all afternoon. So much so that my back, my thighs and the muscles in my calves are aching in places where I didn’t even know that I had places.

Firstly, I prepared the mix for the next batch of biscuits. Fresh ginger, fleur d’orange and ground almonds together with the usual spices

And anyone who has been following these pages for any length of time won’t need to be told about what happened just as I was up to my elbows in flour and vegan margarine. For the benefit of new readers, the telephone rang.

There was no other option but to answer it. It was my neighbour, the President of the Residents’ Committee, wanting to know how I was and what happened on Friday so I cleaned myself up and had a good, lengthy chat with her.

She was the one who tipped me the wink about the apartment downstairs. At one of the residents’ meetings the owner of the apartment just happened to mention quite casually that he was thinking about selling up.

She told me and the owner and I had negotiated a price, agreed a deal and I’d paid the deposit to purchase all before he’d even had time to consult an estate agent.

All I have to do now is to wait for the lease to end and the tenant leaves the property, and then I won’t have all these stairs to climb and I can install a proper kitchen and shower. And, it goes without saying, find a cat to adopt me

Of course, the tenant can always leave before the lease expires. “Negotiations are proceeding”.

Next step was to make my Christmas pudding. That was quite straightforward and it was all placed in the steaming container that I’d greased and lined with baking paper. Three hours of steaming in a bain marie to cook it, and seeing as I didn’t have one, I had to invent something.

But that’s now steamed and it’s currently cooling down before I open it to see how it’s looking. And I hope that it works.

Then there was the Christmas cake. That really took some mixing too but I do have to admit that my soaked fruit looked and smelt delicious. Anyway, it all went together, thanks to everything that I’d bought from LeClerc and fitted quite nicely into my moule à charnière.

You’ve no idea how difficult it is to find proper cake tins here in France so when LeClerc had brought in a pile of stuff for a baking sale a couple of years ago I bought two – a large one and a small one that fits into an air fryer.

Yes, I have a cunning plan about that.

Earlier on I’d taken out of the freezer the last of the pizza dough, and while the cake was baking I was busy defrosting and then assembling my pizza.

When I was satisfied that the cake was baked properly I put the pizza in to bake and while it was baking I rolled out the biscuit dough and cut out the biscuits.

Once the pizza was cooked I put the biscuits in the oven and while they were baking I ate the pizza.

So now I have a Christmas Cake, a Christmas pudding, 40 ginger and orange biscuits and a partridge in a pear tree and I’m totally exhausted. I really am.

What I should have done today is to edit a radio programme but I’ve not had time as yet and right now I don’t have the energy to even move. I’ll have a hot drink and then go to bed.

But while I was making my hot drink the phone rang yet again. For several years in the early 1970s I had a girlfriend whom I knew from school. However we ended up going our separate ways, as you do when you’re that kind of age.

In 2006 Liz (not “this” Liz but “that” Liz”) and I were on our way from a meeting of the Disabled Students Group in Bristol (Liz was in charge of Student Support and I was on the Disability Committee) to a University Region 9 Meeting in Newcastle upon Tyne.

We stopped off at a pub in between Shrewsbury and Oswestry for a meal, and who should walk in?

Quite honestly, you could have put her in her school uniform and she would have been exactly as I remembered her – not a single day older.

Since then, we’ve kept in some kind of desultory touch.

So now that I’ve had my hot drink I’m going to go to bed. A good sleep will do me good, as long as I don’t have the person with the hatpin again.

Sunday 15th October 2023 – CONSIDERING THAT IT’S …

… a Sunday today, and usually a Day of Rest, I’ve been extremely busy. And that’s not a usual phenomenon at all, is it?

What’s even more surprising is that despite not going to bed until about 02:30 this morning, I was actually up and about at 09:30 this morning. And that’s even more unusual.

Mind you, impressive as it might sound, later in in the morning I was totally out of my tree and for at least an hour too. I don’t think that I’ve ever had such a deep sleep and I felt dreadful when I awoke. It took me quite a while to come round to my senses – well, such as they are.

One of the first things that I did was to transcribe the dictaphone notes, because it had been quite a mobile night. I had been preparing a radio programme and including in it various dedications etc for people whose birthday it was on that particular day. I’d arranged a little surprise for everyone because it was my birthday so I’d arranged for singer Art Garfunkel to come to the studio and say hello to everyone and introduce one of his songs. He came in and I explained what I was doing. He played along and began to introduce one of his songs that I could play which also had some kind of anniversary today – whether it was the day that it was written or published etc. There was much more to it than this but all the rest has now disappeared.

And then as the countdown came to my birthday the plane took off to one of these songs and I was walking under the eaves checking various things when suddenly all the equilibrium was lost. It was a 260 engine from the 1940s and 50s that was pulling it and it couldn’t keep in a straight line etc. We had a close look and found that the back of the house had broken where something in the sky had fallen down, landed across the tracks and broken them. We could make no sense of anyone who might have been there or who might have had a car parked there that Thursday morning. We had to appeal to everyone to look to see what they could see on their own security camera footing.

Finally, we’d been for a walk around the city and were on our way back to the castle to meet up. As I was climbing up the steep hill towards the walls I could see down below two of my friends pushing a broken bicycle. I asked them if they too were on their way back and they replied “yes”. We had quite a little chant. They then carried on as they had a long way to go around the zigzags before they caught up with me. I walked slowly up towards the door where I could wait and catch them. For some reason I had a telephone directory in my hand that someone had given me – a redundant one that had been thrown out that they’d saved ready for me. Someone had asked me about it and I said that I’d see later on whether I’ll need it or not. Then my friend from Shropshire and her friend turned up. They were on their way back too. They saw me with the telephone directory and she said “oh that’s handy! I could use that!” and snatched it from my hand. She began to write things down in her diary. She said “I can do this a couple of days afterwards” etc. I thought “the guy who wanted that directory just now has had it. It was rather rude just to have it ripped from my hand like that without even asking a question or asking about it. My friend asked me what my plans were. I was rather peeved so I said that I’d been hoping to finish off my house but I have to spend a week somewhere then a week in hospital, a week somewhere else then probably another week so at the rate that things are being done I don’t think that this house will ever be finished.

Once I’d awoken later on I spent a good while talking for a friend about a few things here and there, and thanks for the message, Grahame. It was appreciated.

Next task was to write all of the notes for my next radio programme. That will be completed tomorrow and then I’ll start on the next batch of programmes.

But what has taken up most of my time this afternoon was baking a huge pile of biscuits.

We started off with the usual basic biscuit recipe of flour, vegan butter and sugar in the ratio of 10/8/4.

To that I added a few handfuls of oats, some chopped almonds, nutmeg, cinnamon, mixed spice, ginger, desiccated coconut, raisins, vanilla essence, orange essence and several tablespoons of honey. There are probably a few other things too that I’ve forgotten.

Everything was all mixed in and some more vegan butter was added because the mixture was too dry. And then after it had been left to cool on the fridge it was rolled out, cut into rounds and eventually baked.

There were a few scraps of pastry left over so I made a wafer and cooked it in the air fryer to see how it would taste. And they really are good, if a little overpowering.

But the tragedy now is that I’ve run out of mixed spice and I doubt that I’ll be able to find any more here. And although I probably could make some, I can’t find all of the individual ingredients.

While all of this was going on I was thawing out a lump of pizza dough for my Sunday evening pizza. With a red-hot oven, it cooked really well too and tasted just as delicious as always.

But right no I’m off to bed. I have plenty of things to do tomorrow, as well as sorting out the forms that I want the doctor to sign for me. And I mustn’t forget to contact the bank. I need a certificate from them too.

And then there’s the radio stuff to do too. I’m going to have my work cut out next week before I head for the hills in Paris in 8 days time.

Sunday 3rd September 2023 – NOW THAT’S WHAT …

… I call a good night’s sleep.

More than that too because although I didn’t go to bed until about 01:30 this morning, I didn’t awaken until … errr … 12:03.

Apart from once or twice tossing and turning around, I didn’t feel a thing either.

Even more surprisingly, I was out of bed quite quickly too. That made me think that if I’m going to awaken as quickly and as well as that, maybe I ought to try a few more days of staying in bed like that.

With it being a Sunday I’ve not done very much at all today. I’ve been doing some more tidying up on the computer although I didn’t create anything like as much free space as I did yesterday.

There was some stuff on the dictaphone too from the night, despite how well I must have slept. My two friends from the Shropshire Marches came to see me last night. There had been some kind of play or performance in a theatre involving a couple of people and how they were being attacked by another group who might have been pirates. They had fallen off and ended up down on the stage again after climbing through the rigging of a ship which was the backdrop of the theatre. There were dead bodies everywhere, all over every vantage point that you could see in the scenery of this play. On the uppermost, the person was only stunned because he began to move again. Gradually he disappeared from where he was lying. I noticed that he’d gone and I’d noticed a fleeting glimpse of someone but that was all. This guy made his way down past all these bodies etc to the ground and then attacked these two people who were in the party that had survived who had attacked everyone earlier and killed everyone. They managed to fight them off after a really desperate battle. As the pirates were regrouping ready for a second attack having brought the pirates from underneath these schoolchildren’s clothes, that was when my friends appeared on the scene for a chat

And later I’d started back to school. We were on the school bus heading into Nantwich. We were basically chatting. School had been going for several weeks but for some reason I hadn’t been. I was away doing something. Now it was my first day back so I was on board this bus. It was quite late. I reckoned that lessons had already started. This group of boys and girls and I were talking about nothing in particular. I was having the idea that I would write some kind of satirical letter and send it to the school every week. I was busy working on a plan to do something like that. We came to the top of a hill and began to go down the other side. I remarked that when I come this way in Caliburn, when I reach this point I’m only 15 minutes from the school. The bus put its foot down. He was driving as fast and as recklessly as I would. It was a good drive from this point of view. Suddenly the bus ground to a halt. Something had broken off. Eventually we limped into school. I was trying to find out which room the music room is because that’s where my first lesson would be. Different people were giving me directions because the school had changed since I was last there. Then I realised that I’m not even sure that my first lesson today is music now. I wish that I could actually lay my hands on a timetable to look at, to give me a much better idea of where Music was. The people who were here milling around would just reverse around to drive off to the appropriate room and drop me off.

Tea tonight was another perfect pizza. I really seem to have found the knack of making these now. The base was absolute perfection too and the topping was cooked just right.

Tomorrow the nurse is coming and then I might have some visitors too. It’s not like me to be sociable but it looks as if I’ll be breaking the habits of a lifetime. I’ll need another good sleep and then a shower in the morning to make myself ready. And then we’ll see what happens.

Thursday 20th October 2022 – JUST IN CASE …

… you’re wondering what is going on, I’ve caught the ‘flu. And this is the ‘flu to end all ‘flus. I’ve never felt as bad as this.

Normal service will be resumed when I’m feeling better.

For a while I was actually not too bad and even managed to run down to Fredericton in Strider to deliver some feed from the mill and to do a little shopping ready for going home, but things just went slowly worse throughout the day.

But in the meantime, I’ve been going off on quite a few voyages. I was moving into my house in Winsford. I was talking to someone on the internet. They were also planning on moving in to a new house so we were just basically chatting about that. My father and his second wife were around. Suddenly a vehicle identical to the one to which I was just talking pulled up in the drive of the house and all these people got out. They began to move suitcases etc about. I could see that they were to people to whom I’d just been talking. It looked as if they were going to be my neighbours just across the road. We began to chat a little then we moved out of their way to give them room to manoeuvre their suitcases.

And later we were going somewhere. I can’t remember who was with me now. We were in Caliburn. We came to a set of road works controlled by traffic lights. We were let through when they changed to green but had to wait a moment while a tarmacking machine went past. Then we had to set out to climb this steep hill to a road junction. They had really freshly tarred it so trying to find a grip on it was pretty much impossible. There was a great danger that we would slide everywhere. By now, instead of being in Caliburn I was on a bike. That made things a hundred times worse. There were people coming from all kinds of directions. I didn’t want to have to swerve around too much in case I’d fall over with there not being any grip on this road as yet with the hot tar.

My friend from near Ellesmere was going to come over so I had to make all kinds of arrangements with her. I had to speak to a pub landlord about making sure that she was welcomed etc so I had to fill in a questionnaire. I was in this pub with someone else while the pub landlord was reviewing the questionnaire. It was also the birthday of one of the daughters of my niece so I found an envelope and had to write a little message to her but I kept on confusing the names and was writing this message to my friend but of course it was to my niece’s daughter to whom I wanted to leave it. On the way out of the pub I had to pick up the questionnaire that I’d filled in. I saw that he’d given me 11 out of 11. He said in some rudimentary and basic French that my friend would be welcomed over there when she passed through so I picked up the paperwork and began to walk out.

At another moment I was with my friend from South Carolina. We’d been in a chemist’s shop and asked if he had a box. A chemist’s shop in a shopping precinct. he thought that he’d thrown out all of his boxes but in the end he found a box that he gave to us for which we were grateful. Then we were wandering around this shopping mall. Next morning we had to leave quite quickly. I was chatting to a Welsh tutor about some kind of problem that had arisen that had had him talking to his students for hours during the night. We were wondering how many other tutors had been disturbed by this and their families upset at ridiculous hours. My friend stopped to have a cup of tea. I didn’t think that we had time but he did anyway. He took the tea and someone asked me if they’d made it properly. I said “as long as the water is poured when it’s absolutely boiling that’s absolutely great”.

Tuesday 11th October 2022 – THE CAT SAT …

… on the mat, as the old saying goes.

But this morning, she didn’t. As I found out when I went to sit on the chair to take part in my Welsh lesson.

Of course, at 05:55 it’s quite dark and you can’t see all that much. And as I’m half asleep anyway and my eyes aren’t focusing properly after another miserable night, seeing a black cat on a dark blue chair is not easy.

However, she soon let me know that she was there. Poor Cujo, the Killer Cat.

The Welsh lesson itself was quite awful. I wasn’t in the mood, I was tired, I was having to juggle computer screens around and at one point my microphone stopped working. I was really glad when the lesson ground to a halt.

cujo the killer cat centreville new brunswick Canada Eric Hall photo 11th October 2022Cujo the Killer Cat had forgiven me for my faux pas earlier because during the first part of the lesson she was on my knee.

She cleared off at some point but as soon as the lesson ended she came back again. For an hour or so while I was dozing after the lesson I didn’t mind but when I wanted to work she just sat on the laptop on my knees and that was that.

No chance whatever of actually doing any work this morning so I relaxed instead.

Later on, I went for a shower and a clothes-washing session, and having rounded up all of the felines, I hung up my clothes in the wind. Then Strider, STRAWBERRY MOOSE and I headed for Woodstock.

And by the time we got … errr … etc. etc.

This sunroof is enormous. It only just fits into the back of Strider. It’s heavy too and sending it back to Europe is going to be astronomical. Buying it hit the limit on my bank card so that’s grounded out right now and I had to use my European card for the balance.

It was a good job that I had some cash on me for my purchases at Sobey’s afterwards.

From there I drove to Florenceville to go to the bank to sort out my card, but I wonder is any of the regular readers of this rubbish would recall which day of the week is the one when the Scotia Bank closes early?

Round to the mill in Centreville to see what was happening there but, falling asleep, I ended up going back home for a coffee and a doze.

There was time before tea to transcribe the dictaphone notes from last night. I had joined some kind of internet chat room but the nickname that I had chosen, I didn’t really want to advertise so I only published it as a form of coded URL so that only a certain few people would be able to know the URL and know that it was me but that’s really all that I remember of this at the moment

I should mention somewhere that Hannah and Jake were involved in this but I can’t remember how or why.

But I remember a bit more about that dream now. We were having a party somewhere in North America. I’d had a friend on the internet, a girl whom I knew. They wee talking about travelling so I said that if ever they were to find themselves in the UK they can come to Crewe and I’d be quite happy to put them up, cook a meal, that sort of thing. She said that that wouldn’t be possible because she and her partner were lesbians. The authorities would look very dimly on the idea of a pair of lesbians travelling with a very young girl and sharing accommodation with her, that kind of thing. They needed to be very careful about it which I thought was ridiculous.

Tea was a burger with baked potatoes and the left-over beans from yesterday’s brunch. I had a long chat with Darren and when Rachel came home we had a good chat too.

But right now I’m off to bed. It’s early but I’m exhausted and I have a long day tomorrow. I need to be on form, and I also need to avoid sitting on any cats. If they want to sit on me, that’s fine. But not the other way round.

Saturday 30th July 2022 – WE’VE HAD A …

wedding place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022… wedding out here at the Public Rooms at the back of my building this afternoon.

It’s something that happens quite often but usually I don’t take very much notice but today, with having a rather late lunch, they poured out of the building as I was going into the living room so I took a few photos.

There’s a church just round the corner, L’Eglise de Notre Dame de Cap Lihouas regular readers of this rubbish will recall, and weddings take place there quite often because of the beautiful setting.

wedding place es Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022However since Laicité – the “Separation of Church and State” that took place in France at the Revolution and subsequently reinforced by a Law of 9th December 1905 there’s a civil ceremony that takes place in the public buildings in front of the mayor.

Thus everyone troops round here after the Church bit to complete the formalities with the mayor, and this is when everyone goes berserk.

Watching them all wildly celebrating reminded me of my lesbian friend from Shropshire who kept her sexual orientation a secret from her elderly relatives.

You’ve no idea how she felt when they all went up to her at every family wedding and said “you’re next! You’re next”.

So in the end she started to exact her revenge at funerals.

And while we’re on the subject of funerals … “well, one of us is” – ed … I felt like I should have been at a funeral today – in a wooden box being lowered into the ground. It has not been a very good day again.

When the alarm went off this morning at 07:30 I was sorting out a pile of medication and papers and things like that in my sleep and I must have leapt about three feet into the air. It took me completely by surprise. It was something to do with bridges over Germany and the heat. One of them had cracked and the asbestos was coming out so it was closed to passengers and pedestrians. People were having to cross by another one but they were limited in the number of times that they could go across and they had to show their ausweis. We were commenting on how Mother Nature is fighting back against the humans and how she’d eventually win, and I was shuffling these papers around.

As seems to be the case these days it took me a few minutes to stagger to my feet but once I was up, I was up. After the medication I set out quickly to Lidl for my shopping.

This was when Brain of Britain found that he’d come all this way without bringing his money with him.

However, years of very bitter experience has taught me better than this, and that’s why there’s €50 hidden in the back of my ‘phone case and another €50 hidden in Caliburn. However I didn’t have a coin for the trolleys so I didn’t buy as much as I would otherwise have liked.

It didn’t take me long in Lidl and I was back home by 09:40. I even managed to put everything away as well.

After a rather late breakfast I attacked the carrots. I was running low on frozen carrots so I’d bought so more fresh ones. I cleaned, diced and blanched them and set them to drain.

Unfortunately, they were only sold in lots of 1.5kg which was more than I was expecting so I was glad that I’d bought that extra-large casserole saucepan a couple of years ago.

And now the freezer really IS bursting at the seams, especially as I fitted the three packs of hot cross buns in there the other day. Nothing else can go in until a lot more stuff goes out.

But what kind of exciting life do I live these days when the highlight of my day is freezing a pile of carrots?

Sitting down here afterwards I drifted off into the land of Nod and that was that. Never mind my lunchtime fruit at 13:00. It was 14:50 when I awoke and round about 15:00 when I staggered into the living room to eat, encountering the wedding party on my way.

hang glider place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022After wards, I went out for my afternoon walk around the headland.

There was a large crowd of British people outside this afternoon looking at the Nazguls that were flying by overhead. Nevr mind the Nine Riders, there was probably about a dozen of them all together in all various stages of flight.

In fact it took them a considerable amount of time to come up and down the coast. They were still on their travels when I was going back into the building half an hour later.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022So having been overflown by a Nazgul or two I headed off across the car park to see what was happening down below on the beach.

We had the crowds again down there today making the most of the beautiful weather, although not as many this weekend as you might expect.

That’s because this is the weekend where everyone who has had their four weeks holiday in July will be heading for home and those who will be having their four weeks in August won’t have quite arrived yet. So there’s just that little quiet pause this weekend.

Mind you, I’m glad that I’m not on the roads or on the rails because that’s where we can expect to find a pile of chaos today.

yachts baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022Not much happening out at sea today either – at least in the immediate vicinity.

All of the fishermen were having the day off and there weren’t any ferries or freighters about. What we did have were a couple of yachts having a go at synchronised sailing around the bay.

We had crowds of people up here on the path creating quite a dust storm as they walked by so it was quite an uncomfortable walk down to the end of the headland.

Loads of brats playing around by the bunkers too. It’s almost as if there was some kind of organised activity taking place this afternoon.

sunlight reflecting off window brittany coast Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that a couple of months ago I talked about the use of heliography by General Crook in his campaign against the native Americans in the late 19th Century.

The illustration that I used was the sunlight reflecting off a window down at the bottom of the bay over in Brittany.

This afternoon we had another example of the same thing. That’s about 20 miles away, I reckon, and reflecting off a glass window in the kind of strange atmospheric conditions that we have around here.

When you see things like this you can understand why Crook’s soldiers could send heliograph messages over 50 miles with a mirror in the crystal-clear weather conditions that prevail in the Arizona Desert.

While I’d been looking on the fleet radar earlier I noticed that the ferries Condor Voyager and Commodore Goodwill would cross each other at some point in the English Channel while I was out.

The former had left St Peter Port at 15:03 and was to arrive at St Malo at 17:00 while the latter departed from St Malo at 15:02.

sailing ship english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022And so when I scanned the horizon and saw a large object away out on the horizon I took a photo in the hope that I’d caught them both crossing each other.

However, enlarging and enhancing the image reveals that I’ve caught something else completely – a rather large 2-masted sailing ship.

Don’t ask me what she is because by the time that I’d worked out what type of ship she was, the rader plots for that area had long-since dispersed and I couldn’t bring up any historical tracks with any accuracy.

Nevertheless, even at this distance she’s a magnificent ship and I really wish that I knew who she was.

With the crowds around on the car park it wasn’t easy to make my way down to the end of the headland.

cabanon vauban people on bench pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022But with all of the people about, the display of heliography and the magnificent sailing ships right out there in the English Channel, it’s no surprise that there was something of an audience watching it all.

Down on the bench by the cabanon vauban this afternoon we had a couple of people enjoying the nice weather and enjoying the view that went with it

Plenty of people walking around the lower path looking as if they might go to join them but I wasn’t going to wait around. Instead, I was going to clear off down the path down the other side of the headland that takes me to the port.

open cockpit aeroplane baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022There had been several aeroplanes flying by out at sea this afternoon but they had all been too far away for me to identify.

This one was also too far away for me to identify but the reason why I photographed it was because, quite rarely, it had an open cockpit.

We don’t see too many of those these days and that makes me think that she’s probably a light aeroplane whose registration number isn’t on the list that I have. I checked the arrivals and departures from the airfield for today and there was no-one whom we didn’t know out and about at the time that I took this photo.

gerlean l'omerta fish processing plant port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022Before I went home I had a look down in the port to see what was happening there.

Marité had gone back out today but back in the port were L’Omerta and Gerlean who are playing “Musical Ships” down at the Fish Processing Plant.

Back here I made a coffee and had a listen to the dictaphone. I was in Security working at an airport. I’d been given a rifle because we suspected that someone was going to cause a problem boarding a particular plane. I ended up right at the back of the boarding place where I could see everyone in front of me. Sure enough, this woman started to protest and mount an objection. In the the end she was clambering through the false roof and fell through, falling to her death on the concrete floor of the terminal so everyone could go and board their planes. I had to put my rifle back which meant putting it in one of the rooms but all the doors had been locked. There was a way in there through one of the other rooms. This means going through a small gap but they had tiled over this gap so I was trying to work out how to enter the other room. Someone came along and began to take up the tiles. There was a metal tray underneath that they began to take up. There was the floor and then something else under that. I thought that this would take ages to do. Putting it back would take even longer and all that wanted to do was to put this rifle in the storeroom that should have taken 30 seconds. I couldn’t understand at all why I had to go through this enormous rigmarole just so that I could put back my rifle. Ther emust be a much quicker, normal way to do it than havinf to do all of this.

And then I was dealing with my medication, as I mentioned earlier.

There was time for me to have a play with the guitar and then I went for tea. They had some of those breaded quorn fillets in Lidl do I bought two packs. One of those with potatoes and veg was delicious.

Later on I downloaded some more radio programmes from that radio site that I mentioned the other day. I’ve finished all of the Paul Temple stuff and I’ve now found a batch of Tommy Handley “It’s That Man Again” programmes from 1943-44-45 so I have those on the go.

But I’ll be off to bed early. There’s an alarm set for tomorrow because I have things to do. That’s not like me, is it? I’m changing my habits so much these days.

Friday 18th March 2022 – AFTER ALL …

filming at civic rooms place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022… the excitement of yesterday, there’s been even more today.

Unfortunately not quite of the same calibre, but nevertheless it beats the monotony. Especially when they lay down a red carpet at the Communal Rooms at the back of my apartment and set up a film camera to film whatever was going to make use of it.

Whatever or whoever it was, though, I’m not able to say. I had to go out to the Post Office before it closed and so I missed it.

If we’re lucky, there will be something in the newspapers tomorrow, but I’m not all that hopeful. There wasn’t a word about what the Dassault Falcon was doing yesterday.

fire brigade rue des juifs burnt out house rue du midi Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022At that wasn’t everything either.

This afternoon it looked as if it was the local Fire Brigade’s annual outing. There they were, complete with vehicles, standing around and chatting, looking up at the ruins of the houses that were devastated in the fire.

While we’re on the subject of “devastated” … “well, one of us is” – ed … I was pretty devastated this morning.

It ended up being a much later night than I was expecting or hoping, and when the alarm went off at 07:30 I switched it off and … err .. went back to sleep. But it wasn’t as bad as yesterday. I managed to make it out of bed a good few minutes before the second alarm.

Not all that much on the dictaphone through the night either. I must have had something of a decent sleep. I was out somewhere last night on the road that runs between Newcastle and Shrewsbury. I don’t know where I’d been but I ended up down some kind of side road somewhere. I stopped and I’d had a piece of cake and a coffee, standing in the middle of this farm track drinking it and eating the cake while the farmer was driving around in his tractor somewhere. Something had gone wrong but I can’t remember what it was. I looked at the time and I thought “God! I only have 20 minutes to get to work!”. I thought that I’d never reach work on time at all from here because I’m on foot. I put down my mug and plate down in the middle of this track and walked down to the main road thinking that I’d hitch a lift. I walked back towards the road junction that would take me to Crewe which was 4 miles away. First of all a bunch of school kids went past, then an old Austin A40 Somerset followed by an old BMC lorry. I then found myself in this village As I walked through this village I thought that I’d never seen such a village. I didn’t know that there was a village like this on this road and I know it so well. By now I was in Caliburn and. There was some road work in the town centre. Everything was being dug up. There were rocks being cut up with a disc cutter. They were even dynamiting small small rocks. I was just driving over everything, machinery, the lot in Caliburn. Some guy was even putting his feet against the glass windows to stop them vibrating when the dynamite went off.. There was this really sharp U-bend by an expensive estate agent’s. I thought that things were becoming really bad. Some woman went past and said “you’re going to be terribly late for work. It’s 2 days running for me that I’ve had to call in with car problems”. I was back in Caliburn again and came across an auto-electrician. I drove into his workshop. I had to straighten a carpet. A guy came over so I asked him to go to listen to the starter while I turned the engine so he could see if there was a problem with the starter.

Later on I was out near Tarporley in a small village … “Tiverton;” – ed. I bumped into a girl whom I knew but I can’t remember who she was. She had curly ginger hair and I don’t know a girl like that in real life. She was telling me about a family whom I knew who lived by the traffic lights at the Rising Sun. She was saying that they’d all cashed in their chips, sold up and moved on. I asked if she knew where they had gone. She told me of a couple of them but there was one whom she didn’t know. She mentioned his name and I knew the name. He’d gone to Toronto. She said “yes, I remember now. He’s bought a racehorse”. I looked surprised and asked “what’s he doing with a racehorse?”. She didn’t actually know. In the end she said something like “if you’re going to take a chance on buying an unknown racehorse for £1:00 or something you’d buy it from a member of your own family rather than from a complete stranger” but she couldn’t see the purpose of this racehorse. I asked her if it was identical to any others that he owned because there’s always the old “run a slower identical horse in a few races to build up a bad reputation then switch the real one in for an important race once the other one has a bad name”. She said “no, it’s not at all like (she mentioned the name of another horse)” so I thought that perhaps it might be an identical horse or something where in this case this one might be slower. I was about to ask her the question when the alarm went off.

After the medication and transcribing the dictaphone notes, I spent most of the rest of the morning working on the photos from the High Arctic in August 2019. We’re now back on board THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR after our little walk around Qikiqtarjuaq.

That was where Dennis Minty and I bumped into a local Royal Canadian Mounted Police “Mountie” who gave us a lift in his pickup up to the top of a mountain on the island where we took some superb photos which you will see in due course.

After lunch I had a letter to write. It’s the reply to one that’s been hanging around here for quite a few months and someone somewhere is probably wondering if I’ve died.

“Snail mail” has all but died out for personal purposes but I still have the odd (and I use the term advisedly) technophobe friend who writes letters. Unfortunately, just like me, she has had a hand injury and so I have a great deal of difficulty reading her writing just like people have difficulty in reading mine, and it’s not easy to decipher it.

But anyway, it was eventually ready and in a mad fit of enthusiasm which has sprung up from heaven alone knows where, I actually set off to post it.

joly france ferry terminal port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022As usual, I stopped at the corner of the Boulevard Vaufleury and the Boulevard des 2E et 202E de Ligne to check the camera and see what was happening down below.

As you can see, the tide is right out at the moment. It’ll be a while before it’s back in today. But there doesn’t seem to be anyone taking advantage of it and going for a bit of the peche à pied.

And if there’s anything going on at the Ile de Chausey this afternoon, they aren’t doing it aboard the Joly France ferries.

There’s one moored up over there at the ferry terminal in the NAABSA (Not Always Afloat But Safely Aground) position, and the other two are moored up in the inner harbour along with Chausiaise

charles marie port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022As well as the Ile de Chausey boats in the inner harbour, there’s plenty of other stuff too.

One of the boats here is Charles Marie. We’ve been keeping an eye on her over the last couple of weeks while she was being serviced in the chantier naval but now she must be ready for the sea.

There was a trawler parked in the chantier naval where she was, but I couldn’t see who she was. I’ll go for a wander out that way tomorrow and find out more about her.

And by the looks of things, La Granvillaise wasn’t there either. She must have gone back into the water but she isn’t around in the harbour so I wonder where she’s gone.

There are tons of the containers in which they stack the sacks of shellfish over there on the quayside. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen so many.

road works abandoned railway line Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022Dodging the pompiers who were having their meeting on the pavement, I carried on down the hill to the viewpoint overlooking the inner harbour.

The freight was still there but what caught my eye was the lorry and the digger over there on the track of the old abandoned railway.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that the other day we saw them working on the far end of that track in the town centre. They seem to have made rapid progress.

Down in the town I made rapid progress to the Post Office to post my letter. And then I went off to the Credit Agricole. I’ve received a cheque in respect of my Belgian State Pension but I dont now why. Anyway it has to be paid in to my account.

Now what can I do with €60:45? Spend! Spend! Spend! I suppose.

road works abandoned railway line Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022Walking back into the town centre on my way home I had a quick peek down where the old abandoned railway ran to see how they were doing.

And by the looks of things, they don’t seem to be doing a great deal. They have a compactor down there (which was more than they had on the 1800 miles of the TRANS LABRADOR HIGHWAY IN 2010 but the road surface doesn’t look much different than it did before they started.

And I’m half-expecting one of those boys to end up like an Austin Powers henchman if he isn’t careful. I suppose that the other boy there would refer to his friend as his “flatmate”.

I’ll get my coat.

So having dome my tasks for the day I set off up the hill for home, feeling rather pleased that I’d actually finished a couple of tasks.

Maybe it is these pills that are giving me energy, I dunno, but sometimes I really think that they could give you absolutely anything, tell you what the imaginary effects will be, and then you psyche yourself up to believe them.

kite surfers people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022Before I went back inside I went to see what was happening down on the beach outside my building.

Today was a really glorious May day today, really warm, but with a strong wind. And so while there were no Nazguls about, there were a couple of people down there kitesurfing. And having a really good time doing it by the looks of things.

Plenty of people walking around on the beach too having a good time. I don’t know where they have all come from.

One of my neighbours was outside the building too, soaking up the rays. he and I had a good chat before I came in for a coffee.

Later on, I had another session on the guitar. I seem to have rekindled my enthusiasm, having done very little since I fell into this depression several months ago. I quite enjoyed it too, although i’m dismayed at how much of my technique I’ve lost.

Tea was a quick falafel from out of the freezer with pasta and veg because there was football on the internet. Y Bala v Penybont in the first of the Welsh Cup Semi-finals.

And for a match then ended 0-0, this was probably one of the best and most exciting that I’ve seen in a long while. Both teams have star players but they managed to checkmate each other at every turn as the game roared from end to end for the whole 90 minutes. It’s a shame that there aren’t more games like this.

So bedtime now. I’m shopping tomorrow and then I’m going to try to do some exciting stuff. What, I’m not quite sure yet.

Who knows? I might do something wild, like take more rubbish out to the bins.

Sunday 26th December 2021 – IT REALLY IS …

people on path pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021 … unbelievable, isn’t it?

Look at all of the crowds here walking along the path between the College Malraux and the Pointe du Roc. Hordes of them, and not even one single face mask to be seen.

Yesterday we had almost 105,000 cases of infection here in France and much of it is heading our way on the holiday trains that I saw at Gare Montparnasse at the weekend.

As well as that, there’s a Prefectorial Arrêt ordering the wearing of facemasks in public in the Manche, and no-one (except me) taking any notice whatsoever of it all.

If they all catch Covid, it will be no surprise, and won’t the World be a much better place when these people are no longer on it? Serve them all right, the lot of them.

But in much more interesting news, while I’m typing out these notes, I’m letting my evening meal cook itself. And in news that will come as a complete surprise to regular readers of this rubbish who will recall that Sunday night is pizza night, I’m not having a pizza.

Yes, as it’s Boxing Day, I’m cooking another Christmas meal.

With it also being Boxing Day, I had a nice lie-in this morning. All the way up to 10:30 which was really pleasant. I could do with a few more of these although I doubt that I will have any more for a while.

After the medication I checked my mails and messages and sent out a few replies to messages that I had received over the last day or so. And then, I had a relaxing morning doing next-to-nothing except sorting out this old hard drive. Another 2.3GB of duplicate data has bitten the dust and there’s still more to go. It’s hard to think that my first home computer back in the 1980s worked on 2x 5.25″ floppy drives of 256kb each and at a push I could make it work on just one.

There was a ‘phone call immediately after 12:00 – someone is well-aware of my habits. A friend of mine is writing a book and needs a letter writing in English to a “witness”. It’s an extremely complicated and crucial letter so he’s asked me if I could write it for him.

Not a problem – after all, he’s helped me out on numerous occasions, so he’s going to come round tomorrow at 17:00 for me to do it.

The work is piling up, isn’t it?

After my Christmas brunch of beans, sausage, potato fritters, toast with mushroom pâté, I sat down to pair off the music for the radio programme that I’ll be preparing tomorrow (yes, I’m still working). And to my surprise, the joints went together perfectly – they couldn’t have been better.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021By now it was time for me to go out for my afternoon walk, especially after yesterday when I didn’t go out at all.

What was disappointing was that there wasn’t anyone down there on the beach at all. I must have missed the mad stampede into the sea down at Donville-les-Bains this afternoon.

No-one down on the beach here either, although over there we can see plenty of people walking around on the path underneath the city wall and over on the promenade at the Plat Gousset.

ile de chausey baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021So with absolutely nothing whatever going on out at sea, I turned my attention to the Ile de Chausey.

There was something of a sea mist over there in the direction of the Ile de Chausey so we couldn’t see it as clearly as we have done just recently. It was all hidden in some kind of light blue haze.

But even more interestingly, there weren’t any boats at all out there at sea this afternoon. I would have expected there to have been quite a few out there right now as people sail off their Christmas pudding. I’ve no idea where they all are.

cap frehel brittany Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021A little earlier I showed you the photo of the crowds of people milling round on the path.

While I was up there on top of the bunker I had a good look around in the other direction down the coast.

The view was much clearer in that direction and even with the naked eye I could just about make out the lighthouse at the Cap Fréhel 70 kilometres away. The camera lens didn’t bring it out very much better than I could see with the naked eye, unfortunately.

sunset cancale brittany coast Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021Another thing that I noticed while I was up there on top of the bunker was the sunset over the Brittany coast.

As I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … one of the things that I like about going out for my walk at this time of afternoon at this time of year is the magnificent sunsets that we can sometimes have.

This afternoon there was another TORA TORA TORA effect with the rays of the sun streaming down through the small gaps in the clouds over there.

The nice round circle in the centre of the bay was most impressive.

cabanon vauban people at bench pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021And as it happens, I wasn’t the only one out there enjoying the sunset.

It’s been a few days since we’ve seen people down by the cabanon vauban at the end of the headland but today with all of the crowds milling around on the paths I was expecting to see some people down there this afternoon.

Sure enough, we have four people down there right now. Not actually admiring the sunset but talking to each other with their backs to the view. But I imagine that they will be turning round in a moment or two to see the beautiful sight behind them.

light aeroplane pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021And while there was nothing whatever going on out at sea, we had a few things going on up above in the sky.

The usual sounds of machines in the air told me that there was something heading my way.

Unfortunately it was too far out for me to see its registration number but it doesn’t resemble any of the larger aeroplanes that loiter around at the airfield.

It’s probably one of the light aircraft there that isn’t registered on the main database and doesn’t file a flight plan.

red autogyro pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021The light aeroplane wasn’t alone either.

Following it very closely was one of our regular visitors – the red autogyro. It was following the aeroplane so closely that I imagined that they had been out together for a lap around the bay.

My lap around the headland was coming to a close as well so I set off down the path towards the viewpoint overlooking the harbour to see what was happening down there.

l'omerta port de granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021L’Ormerta was back in town today.

She was moored over by the fish processing plant, settling down in the silt seeing as the tide has gone out. There is a whole pile of fish baskets just above it on the quayside so it looks as if she is in the course of being made ready to go to sea.

At the chantier naval the portable boat lift was back in its position over the dock. The yard was still fenced off, however and there was no boat in there awaiting repair. I imagine that it will be getting back under way after the New Year.

articulated lorry fish processing plant port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021And talking about the fishing boats being made ready to go out to sea, there was an articulated refrigeration lorry pulling up at the fish processing plant.

It looks as if they will be expecting a decent crop of seafood when the boats come back from their next trip out.

My trip out was drawing to a close so I headed back home. I’d put the coffee machine on the go before I went out and the coffee should now be nice and hot.

Back here I made a couple of ‘phone calls to wish a friend the season’s greetings but she was out which was a shame. I’m not having a great deal of luck just recently.

Tea was delicious as usual. But I have so many vegetables left over – leeks and sprouts – that tomorrow I’m going to have a blanching session followed by a freezing session.

And whatever else happens, I mustn’t forget last night’s voyages. They are really quite important. And there were plenty of them too. It must have been a restless night.

I started off in hospital. It was actually my old Grammar School building but it was a hospital. I was walking there. As I was walking through a ward of a corridor there was someone there who was not a medical staff but opened a door and pushed a rat into the room. Someone inside said “you’re cheating! This isn’t a minute!”. I chased him off and asked matron what was happening. She replied “he’s not a medical staff. He’s a friend of mine. I have a personal pet project that I’m following up”. I said “it doesn’t look very good to me”. There were some other kinds of slithering animals etc that were being introduced into this hospital for one reason or another that made me most uneasy. Outside there were a few kids messing around. Girls probably mid-teens. One of them started to talk about a Beatles song, Savoy Truffle. She asked whether something was in the song and I said that it was. She threw me something like a very small but heavy frisbee. I caught it and threw it back to her. She asked me about something else. I said “yes” so she threw it again. This went on for a couple of minutes. Then a couple of other girls who had been watching came down and it was as if they had put me in the middle, like a kid’s game to catch this thing as they were throwing it between themselves. Of course I caught it. One of the girls had a kind of wrestling match with me to to try to wrestle it from me.

Later on I was driving a lorry up to Scotland last night. I had a box with me that I had to bury, the ashes of one of my cats. I dropped off the cars that were on the back of this lorry, drove out of the yard and stopped at the side of the road to make sure that all of the straps were secure and weren’t going to fall off as I drove home. There, it was a lot of wasteland so I started to look around to find a place to bury this box with this cat’s ashes. A couple of little kids came round to see what I was doing. I explained it to them. In the end we found a few cemeteries where you could bury ashes but there were lots of people round there. I didn’t have a spade. In the end I thought that I would just throw it in a ditch on this wasteland. I thought that I could drop it in my old rucksack and leave that there. I wasn’t very happy but that was the only solution. I Went to the bottom of the rucksack and pulled out a few things that I’d overlooked and put the box in there ready to discard. Then I had another thought. I kept on having all these different thoughts of course but every time I tried something I ended up with some kind of problem so I would think of something else. That would create a problem as well

And then I was back on the taxis last night. After I’d sold it we were going through the paperwork. The boy who lived down Coleridge Way, we found some papers of his. I was back out again driving, sometimes in France, sometimes in the UK, enjoying things much better in France than the UK. Then I had to go to the station in Sandbach so I was driving down the A530 and came to the roundabout at the end of Bradwell Road. The car skidded at the roundabout, mounted the pavement, went through a pile of snow, missed a lorry and ended up facing the correct way down the correct street. Everyone gave a round of applause for that so I got out and bowed to everyone. I got into a different vehicle and started to drive back up there. I can’t remember now what happened after that.

While I was asleep in the middle of one of my voyages someone came past, banged on the door and shouted “alarm call for Madame -” (and said a Russian girl’s name). I wondered what she was doing sleeping in my room

Later on there was some kind of workmen’s or youth hostel where I was staying. There were dozens of people staying there but I always seemed to be pushed out on the margins for everything. I remember we would have our meal and then be in this series of common rooms and I would always end up being on my own. When the meal was finished there was this huge bowl of water that needed to be taken out and emptied and for some reason or other I would always do it. They would probably have to open the door for me while I took it out. There would be people hanging around the sink etc. I’d tip the water in down the sink. Gradually after I’d been there a few days I discovered the snacks, where they kept the fruit salad, where they kept the soya dessert. Gradually, wandering around I came to where they kept the fruit so things weren’t going to be too bad. The people there from all places and all nationalities but it seemed that everyone was speaking English which I thought was a shame. Then I thought that I would have to look for a couple of books, something like “500 Words You Never Knew In France”, that kind of thing and make more of an effort to improve my foreign languages.

There was more than that too but as you are probably eating your meal right now I’ll spare you the gory details.

Having done all of that, which totally exhausted me, now I’m off to bed. I have an early start tomorrow as I’m preparing a radio programme. It’s later than I would like right now so it’ll be a struggle to leave my bed. But we’ll manage somehow, won’t we?.

Thursday 21st October 2021 – NO CAUSE FOR A LLAMA

Laurent feeds the llamas Nicorps Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021Here is Laurent feeding one of the llamas at Nicorps.

We were out late last night radioing. The project that I have on the go at the moment involves interviewing several people and one of my subjects is a llama farmer.

Our radio interview wasn’t about the llamas – that’s for another time – but we did so much talking that we ran out of time and will have to meet again. It’s hard to keep people focused on the matter at hand but it’s their show, not mine.

What i’m wondering about is how I’m going to edit all of this down to about 10 minutes-worth of chat.

But meanwhile, in other news, I had yet another bad night and I’m becoming fed up of these, that’s for sure.

Anyway, after the medication I sat down and attacked the days tasks that I’d written down on my list. And much to my surprise, by the time that Laurent came to call for me at 18:00 with the exception of scanning 3 receipts that I couldn’t find.

And when I say that I couldn’t find them, I knew where they were. It was just a case of putting my hand on them

One task that I hadn’t noted down was to bake today’s bread. I’d completely forgotten about it and it wasn’t until 11:00 that I remembered. As a result, today’s lunch was rather late but the bread, hot from the oven, was delicious with my home-made hummus and salad.

There was of course the afternoon walk, but an afternoon walk with a difference today. One of the tasks on my list was to write a letter that I’d been putting off, for various reasons, for quite some time.

Naturally, there’s no point in writing a letter if I’m not going to post it so I set off into town and the Post Office.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021First stop was the wall at the end of the car park overlooking the beach.

The howling gale that we had had yesterday afternoon and through the night (which was probably why I had had a bad night) had subsided somewhat but you could see the effect that it had had by the ripples in the sand on the beach.

There were still a few vestiges of the storm, such as the whitecaps on the waves as they come in onto the beach out there. And there were a few people who had gone there for the experience and someone who had actually put his feet in the water.

hole in wall place du marché aux chevaux Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021Just for a change I went around the walls on my way into town, in order to check how the work was advancing in the Place du Marché aux Chevaux.

From the top of the steps that go down onto the beach I could see how they were getting on with the hole in the wall. And the answer to that question was that they haven’t been getting on at all. The hole is still there.

However, the leaves have fallen off the trees since WE LAST SAW IT so we can have a better view of the work that needs to be done, and it’s not going to be the work of five minutes.

stones demolished from wall place du marché aux chevaux Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021The reason why they haven’t attempted to fill up the hole in the wall is because they are rather busy right now elsewhere.

In the Place du Marché aux Chevaux they have demolished part of the wall as we can see and are slowly reassmbling it, and that is going to keep them out of mischief for quite a while, as I well know.

There was a workman wandering around there so I tried to engage him in conversation but he wasn’t the talkative tyoe at akk and I couldn’t obtain much information from him, which was a pity.

stones demolished from wall place du marché aux chevaux Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021The outer part of the wall has been finished as far as they can go but viewed from this angle, there is still plenty to do

Peering through the scaffolding we can see the extent of the work that needs to be done. These walls are quite thick so there’s much more work than you might think. When I built my stone walls, I just had an outer and an inner layer of stones and the centre was lightweight concrete, but it looks as if they are going to be doing it properly.

And it’s a good job that that had all of that water weighing down the scaffolding because otherwise, after Storm Aurora had gone past last night, there wouldn’t have been any scaffolding left.

people on beach plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021My route towards the town takes me along the path underneath the city walls and round to the viewpoint overlooking the beach at the Plat Gousset.

There were a few people down there too this afternoon enjoying the sun, but I’ve no idea what the two people on the right of the image were doing and what the one on the extreme right was wearing.

There are some steps at the end of the path that lead down to the Place Marechal Foch and that was the way that I went into town – down there and along the Rue Couraye.

There was no-one else waiting at the postage machines so I didn’t hang around in the post office so that was a quick visit, and the letter is now on its way. I could go home in peace with another task accomplished.

thora port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021The walk back up the hill wasn’t as easy as it had been yesterday and I had to stop a couple of times for breath.

At one of my stops overlooking the port I could see that Thora was still tied up in port. That gave me a couple of ideas, more of which anon.

Back here I was pretty warm so I made myself a cold drink for a change and then carried on with the scanning of my medical receipts. I have a lot of money tied up in those and I need to send them off to my health assurance people before they become timed out.

There was some stuff on the dictaphone too that needed transcribing. There were 4 of us at a concert. A guy, two girls who we’d met and I were chatting about Woodstock and how it had changed our lives when we were adolescents. This chap went on for quite a while. My friend was quite keen on one of these girls which I didn’t mind because I thought the other one was quite nice. She was talking as if she had the air of being older than she looked so I was intrigued to find out how old she was. Right up near the end my friend said “I’ll have to take (the other girl) home”. I thought “we’ll have to go”. The second girl looked at her watch and said “I suppose I’d better be thinking about going as well”. I said “I’ll drive you if you like”. She replied “actually I’ve come in my car”. I said “that’s a silly idea, isn’t it? I can’t run you home if you’ve come in your car”.

There was something else about living in a house, a group of us. We had 4 cats but 2 of them had gone and we were with 2. Someone came back with a pure white kitten. It looked rather young to me to be away from its mother but it seemed to manage OK. We introduced the other 2 cats to it but they weren’t particularly impressed. I had to go outside to do something. A young boy in the house had the cat and was throwing it up in the air and making it land on its feet. I told him not to do that because the cat hadn’t grown or developed and that could damage it. He said in that case you shouldn’t hold it upside down and tickle iit either. I said that that was something completely different because you aren’t putting any strain on the legs but he was chuntering away and grumbling about it so I didn’t say any more.

When Laurent came to pick me up we headed off towards Nicorps but down in the port we saw that Thora was still there, so we took a diversion down there to talk to her skipper.

We had a little chat and he agreed to be interviewed one of these days for my series of radio programmes. He’ll prepare a resumé when he returns to Jersey and e-mail it to me so that I can translate it into French and pass it to an interviewer.

After that we went off to Nicorps where Samantha and Lee were waiting for us. They had cooked a beautiful meal for us, vegan of course, and I presented them with a bottle of wine. Not that I drink it myself of course, but one has to be sociable and grateful for the efforts of others.

And that reminds me – I must stock up my wine cellar, which is looking rather bleak right now.

The interview went well, but there was so much of it that it will need careful editing. Laurent is currently listening to it and making notes about what needs to be cut, what needs to be added in, and then I’ll do the rest.

It was quite late by the time that I returned home and then Liz wanted a chat, so it was extremely late when I finally crawled off to bed. I can’t be doing with too many late nights like this. I’m having enough trouble as it is.

But on the subject of tomorrow, it’s my 100th rock music programme with the radio station so I’m celebrating by having a music festival. Starting at 21:00 CET (20:00 UK time, 15:00 Toronto time) there will be 12 hours of live music, featuring 12 groups and musicians, each one having a one-hour spot.

You’ll find it on LE BOUQUET GRANVILLAIS and because it’s free, it’s not to be missed under any circumstances.

Monday 26th July 2021 – IT’S BEEN ONE …

Pennec Gaz'Aile 2 aeroplane F-PSBJ pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall… of those days when there has been non-stop activity in the air and I could hardly move without being overflown by something or other when I went out for my afternoon walk.

There were several aeroplanes that I was able to photograph and probably many more that I wasn’t able to photograph for one reason or another

Several that we have seen before and a few that are quite new to us, just like this one here that appeared on the scene this afternoon.

And luckily, having blown up the photograph and enhanced it when I returned home I can even tell you something about it.

Pennec Gaz'Aile 2 aeroplane F-PSBJ pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallHer registration number is F-PSBJ, as I found out when I did the necessary, and that tells me that this is something quite unusual.

It’s a Pennec Gaz’Aile 2 and it is a home-built aeroplane designed by someone called Serge Pennec from Finisterre in France. Quite surprisingly, the recommended engine for this is a Peugeot 106 diesel engine. It’s not the first time that he has designed an aeroplane fitted with a diesel engine. He’s previously fitted Opel diesels in some of his aeroplanes.

The empty weight despite the diesel engine is just under 600 pounds and has a wingspan of just over 23 feet, and so qualifies as a microlight aeroplane..

This aeroplane is not one that you see every day, that’s for sure, and it was really interesting for me to pick one up in a photograph.

45ahb Albatros AE 209 80CV pusher aeroplane pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOn the other hand this is one that we have seen a couple of times and despite it having a clearly-identified serial number, I have been unable to identify it up until today.

But a chance observation on a “for sale” site this afternoon came up with the goods, to my surprise.

The registration number she is carrying is 45AHB and that now tells me that she is a Albatros AE 209 80CV chassis number 111 and originally built in Fréjus in the south of France but now in Poland.

Interestingly, the wings on these aeroplanes fold up for ease of storage.

But anyway, let’s leave the question of aeroplanes for the moment and turn our attention to what’s important.

Last night was another bad night as far as sleep went, but nevertheless I did manage to go off on a couple of travels during the night.

A former girlfriend of mine from school was around last night being her usual bombastic self. Anyway my father wanted to know about whether I would be interested in going to Llanymynech to pick up some stuff for him. I said “yes, of course I would” but I wanted to know what stuff it was to make sure that there was room in the van. I didn’t have Caliburn at that time but BILL BADGER and I was wondering how I was going to get on driving it all that way and back again without any road tax. Obviously father wasn’t going to be suaded by any of this. This girl said that she needed something from the shop as well so I thought that she could come with me and I could pick it up on the way. I started doing a few things, time was slipping by and breakfast was rapidly disappearing, getting on towards midday and I thought that I’d better get a move on. I looked at the shop that she wanted to go to and it was only just down the road so maybe we should go and do that first and do we keep her stuff in the van as well while we go and fetch my father’s or else where else could we keep it. It was becoming one of these really complicated things as well. I know that there was certainly one thing about football in it and certainly something about me being in charge of a club as well.

Later on there was some kind of experiment going on between two Army officers about controlling their food and calories intakes and watching to see whether if one of them was on a diet, the other one who was a control would diet too. While this was going on I was wondering around and noticed some guy on a step sweating. He was short, about 5’1 or 5’2 weighing 79 pounds he said, and trying to get weight off. No matter what he did he was putting it on and he wondered if we knew what the secret was. I replied that as far as I was concerned the secret was exercise and it wasn’t working well enough for him and he wasn’t working hard enough … and then I mumbled …. One of these guys suddenly died and it was the fish soup that had killed him. They had invited his former wife because he’d killed someone but had been found not guilty and a newspaper or something had arranged for him to be in the same hotel that she was in so that they would see each other every day and deliberately to film or write a story about this confrontation. But somehow he had ended up poisoned and they reckoned that it was by his wife but I’ll ell some more of a different dream later, whatever that was supposed to mean.

After the medication I sat down and rattled off another radio programme. By 12:15 it was all done and dusted and it would have been done much, much sooner than that had the store file on the dictating machine that I use not corrupted it self and needed unravelling, and had the selection for the last track not been so difficult.

And I have to slow down or something with these programmes because I’ve no overrun the lead that I’ve built up, meaning that I can’t find a final track without causing myself some complications. I’m going to have to think about a cunning plan for all of this.

After lunch I started to put a few things back on the shelves in the kitchen and then telephoned the doctor to arrange an appointment for Friday morning at … gulp 08:30. I need my injection and I have to sort out this issue about Covid certificates.

Most importantly though, I want to talk to him about my knee. After this weekend’s adventures I might be feeling much better as far as my knee goes, but it’ll only give up again when I’m least expecting it and at a most inconvenient time as well.

Then I sat down to work on my Spirit of Conrad notes and I would have done much more than I did had I not … errr … relaxed somewhat.

As a result it was rather later than usual when I went out for my afternoon walk.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallFirst port of call, as you might expect these days, is the beach to see what was happening down there.

Consequently I wandered off over the car park, through the crowds of maskless people and looked down on the wall.

Plenty of people down there right now, and they have plenty of beach to be going at too this afternoon. But from what I understand, some of the beaches are closed and access to some others is limited due to a peak in pollution levels.

They take their beaches quite seriously here, because of the shellfish of course. They don’t want anything to compromise that and damage the livelihood of the town.

hang glider pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhile I was admiring the beach and the people thereupon, a dark shadow fell upon me.

Not a Nazgul of course, although it might have been, but one of the hang-gliders. I’ve no idea what he was doing out here this afternoon because there wasn’t all that much wind.

He was certainly the only hang-glider that I saw throughout the afternoon which, given the amount of other aerial traffic, was somewhat surprising.

They should all have been out there yesterday when there was more than enough wind to keep as many of them going as they might like.

hang glider at pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallHe didn’t come back either, which I thought was quite unusual, so I was interested to see what had become of him.

And here he is, sitting on the grass here by the old bunker at the Pointe du Roc, with his parachute or whatever it was that you call it, wrapped up by the side of him.

It looks as if there wasn’t enough wind to take him back to the cemetery on top of the cliffs (in more senses than one) so I wouldn’t be surprised if he had telephoned a friend to come and rescue him.

He’s the second one that we have seen gone to earth down here but the one that we saw a few weeks ago managed to get back into the air. It looks as if this guy is going to go home in more dignified circumstances.

f-giki Robin DR.400-120 Dauphin 2+2 pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOn the way round the footpath on top of the cliffs, the first of the aeroplanes that buzzed me went by overhead.

This is one of the aeroplanes that we have seen on many occasions. She’s a Robin DR.400-120 Dauphin 2+2, chassis number 1931, registration number F-GIKI.

She’s owned by the Granville Aero club and is used as a training aeroplane for pilots and navigation. This afternoon, she’s just been nipping out of the airfield and back again without doing very much exciting while she was at it.

She carried on doing that long after I’d gone back in for my afternoon drink, so presumably it’s pilot training that she’s been doing.

Piper PA-32-300 Cherokee Six F-GVJC baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnother aeroplane that took off minutes later was this one.

She was much farther out over the bay but her shape was quite a distinctive tricycle undercarriage and from what I would read of her registration number told be that she’s F-GVJC.

She’s the Piper PA-32-300 Cherokee Six that we saw the other day taking off from the airfield. She spent almost 6 hours flying around a whole series of figures-of-eight down the coast and out to sea centred on the airfield.

But I’m surprised that she could stay in the air for that long, and surprised that she should be doing this when I have no earlier record of her being here. I was assuming that she was just a visitor.

men fishing from zodiac peche a pied pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallIt goes without saying that while all of this was going on up in the air, there would bound to be some fishermen out there.

In fact two different lots of fishermen. One of them was patrolling along the foreshore as if he was looking for a place to go and do a bit of peche à pied.

The others were in a zodiac passing by just offshore and with their rods in the upright position and the reaxed posture of some of the people on board, they don’t look as if they are all that interested in having a go.

So really, that’s about everything that was going on out there today. There weren’t any boats or ships or yachts out there this afternoon. Maybe with the tide being right out, that might account for it.

men searching in rock pools peche à pied pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallSeeing some movement out on the rocks out from the Pointe du Roc I decided to head that way.

Through the crowds on the path by the war memorial with cars parked all over the grass and through the car park I went across the car park there and went down to the end of the Pointe du Roc.

Two men were down there on the rocks, and that’s what I had seem from a distance. I’ve no idea what they were doing although my money would be on them looking in the rock pools for stranded seafood like crabs or lobsters.

But it’s nothing to do with me whatever they were doing down there so I wandered off along the path.

le loup baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallFighting my way through the crowds on the path I came down to where the seafarers’ memorial was.

Le Loup, the marker light on the rock at the entrance to the harbour at Granville is looking quite splendid this afternoon, but in the distance over at Kairon-Plage, there’s tons of beach uncovered by the tide and there are what looks like several people out there taking advantage of it.

In the background the water tower on the top of the hills is standing out quite proudly but it’s a shame that the weather isn’t so clear in the distance. There’s far too much haze this afternoon to make the image really clear.

And so I pushed on along the footpath at the top of the cliff towards the port to see what was going on down there.

trawler charlevy yacht rebelle chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd we are in luck today because there have been some major changes in the occupants in the chantier naval.

The yacht Rebelle is still in there of course, and so is the trawler that we went to see yesterday. But today they now have company.

Two more trawlers have come into the yard yesterday. One of them, we can’t identify unfortunately because of the way that she’s chocked up, but we can see the name of the other one quite clearly and you’ll see what I mean about the names on the wind deflector above the windscreen

She’s called Charlevy and I’m sure that we’ve seen her before and photographed her on a couple of occasions. So I wonder how long she and the other new arrival will be in there.

With nothing else going on I came back into the apartment and had my guitar practice.

Tea was a bit of a disaster because my stuffed pepper fell apart in the microwave. But the jam roly-poly was delicious yet again.

Now I’m off to bed. No Welsh tomorrow so I’ll do some more tidying up.

Thursday 28th January 2021 – HAD I PUT …

… my mind to it, I could have beaten the third alarm quite comfortably today. But when I heard the torrential rain cascading down onto the skylight in the roof, I decided that having a lie-in was probably a much better idea.

Even so, I was still up and about before 07:00 too. No point in hanging around in bed – and that’s not like me at all these days, is it?

And it was a good job that I was up early too. Alison had to take a friend to hospital early this morning but found out that she couldn’t stay with her. So she messaged me to see if I fancied a coffee.

Despite the rain, we met up at the car park at the Monseigneur Ladeuzeplein. There wasn’t much choice about where to go for our coffee. But as it was a good idea for me to go and check on the times of trains for tomorrow morning, we headed to the station and had a take-away coffee sitting on one of the benches there while I noted down the train times.

We had a good wander around the town in the rain and then Alison drove me back home where I … errr … had a little rest for a while. In view of the miserable weather there were no photos.

After lunch I had things to do.

While I was at the hospital yesterday I transcribed a ton of notes that had accumulated on the dictaphone from earlier in the week. And so the first task was to amend the entries for MONDAY, TUESDAY and YESTERDAY. And when you read the notes of everywhere where I’ve been, you’ll be just as surprised as I am that I even had time to sleep.

Then of course there were the notes from last night. I’d been out with my family and met up again with a girl who, back in the olden days almost 50 years ago, had been a girlfriend of mine when we were at school. I was trying to persuade her to come home over Christmas and she finally agreed to come back to my house and there was all talk about where she was going to sleep. I had to remind everyone that I was the one who had the bed. The discussion still went on and no-one was getting the message that if she came back, it was me who was going to be interested. One of my younger siblings asked if she had a Father Christmas. She said “no” so they replied “we have a chocolate Father Christmas you can have” and one or two other things. I definitely intended to get her into bed last night but I was a little disappointed that my brother kept on trying to argue his own point of view rather than mine.

The rest of the afternoon was spent choosing the music for the next few radio programmes. I almost finished choosing the music for three programmes but I ran aground on the last one because I need a plug-in for the music-editing program that I have on the laptop but I can’t remember which one it is.

While I was doing all of this, I had a message from the Covid-testing service. Apparently I’m negative, which is what I suspected anyway but I had to go through the process.

For tea I finished off most of the food that was here – there isn’t going to be all that much to take home for a change. And hopefully, if I do have my appointments on Thursday from now on, there will be even less.

Tonight I’m going to have an early night. I need to be up early for my journey back home. It’s going to be a long and tortuous journey home tomorrow, with all kinds of complications.

Wednesday 20th January 2021 – I’M NOT SURE …

… whether today was a good day or a bad day. In fact it was probably a bit of both.

The good bit was that I almost beat the third alarm to my feet. And if you realise that it was after 01:00 when I went to bed, you’ll realise just what a feat that was. Mind you, when I say that I almost beat it, yes I was out of bed a couple of seconds after it rang, but it would be wrong to say that I was leaping about It took a good 10 minutes for the room to stop spinning around enough so that I could get off the bed.

After the meds I had a listen to the dictaphone.

There was some stuff on there from yesterday that I must have forgotten to transcribe. So I did that and added them back into the entry for yesterday where you can see them in all their glory.

And then I turned my attention to last night.

We were setting off on a cruise and it wasn’t an Adventure Canada cruise but another company. We all had to meet up and head back to board the ship. As usual I was last. We were in Nantwich and the ship was at Acton so everyone was streaming back up the road towards Acton. I set out at a run to try to catch everyone up. By the time I reached where the Star was, somewhere like that, I’d actually caught up the other people who were behind. Just in front of me before then was a woman, obviously something to do with the trip counting the people who went past. She said to 1 guy in front of me “you must be the last” but then I ran past and she looked at me “Oh God, not you”. I carried on running and the other guy there saw me and he started to run as well. For some reason I could run really well and really easily and had no trouble in keeping him away. I ran to the church and everyone was in there having a briefing. My father was in there somewhere – he was coming on the trip – but the briefing had finished by the time that I arrived. When I walked in, it wasn’t a church but a shower and they were all having a communal shower in about 4 or 5 different rooms. I had a look but couldn’t see my father in any of the rooms. I said “I’ll be glad to get back on board the ship again and have my familiar old cabin” and I quoted a number. Their response was “not that leaky old hulk” and started to talk about the showers and how the water went everywhere and soaked the beds, that kind of thing. A girl came out and asked “do you have a torch?” I replied “yes”. “Can I borrow it?”. She set off and went downstairs so I followed her. There was a motor garage there, a kind of workshop with benches in a glass-framed room. She sat down and I said “I can’t find my torch”. She replied “that’s a shame as I have some things to do”. “So why don’t you switch on the lights?”. “Am I allowed to?”. “Of course you are. I know the people who work here anyway”. She switched on the lights and she was taking a York diesel engine apart. She had all of the bits out and was busy writing notes about it. I watched her writing these notes and had a little chat with her for a while.

Yes, all of these exciting voyages and not a single person with whom I would really like to travel. I don’t know what the world is coming to.

For much of the day (although by no means all of it) I’ve been quite busy. I’ve had a letter to write to reply to one that I received in the Summer that somehow became lost. And that wasn’t easy.

In fat it led to the start of a major tidy-up in the office which, although it’s only just got under way, has resulted in a pile of outstanding filing being done and a load of paperwork being thrown away. And there’s still plenty more to go at.

Sadly the place doesn’t look much different than it did before I started – but then that’s usually the case when I’m tidying up. The place always seems to be worse and then when I run out of steam and have to sit down I’m in the middle of total chaos and that’s so disheartening too.

After lunch I sat down for 5 minutes to raise the steam for carrying on with the tidying up but I’m afraid that was that. 15:45 when I finally came round again having missed all of the early afternoon and I’m dismayed about that too.

rubble from gas pipe laying Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallIt took a good half-hour to recover my composure after that so it was rather a later walk this afternoon than usual.

Not that I went very far before I took my first photograph. Just outside the front door in fact. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall having seen seen them digging up the road in the Rue St Michel and probably noticed that there wasn’t anywhere to tip the spoil from the excavations.

But now we know the answer to that little problem. They have a little dumper bringing it all over here and tipping it on the car park of the building across the way.

ile de chausey english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallSo off I went on my travels along the footpath. And I didn’t go much further either.

One thing that strikes me is the series of stories about ancient mariners sighting “land” and which turn out to be false sightings. But when you see something like this that I saw this afternoon, it’s not surprising.

Of course a camera can’t produce the same effect that you have with the naked eye but here there’s a curtain of rain approaching across the English Channel and what is presumably the water bouncing off the surface is creating an effect that does look like land out there in front of the Ile de Chausey.

sunset baie de mont st michel brittany coast Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallNot too many people out there this afternoon and that’s no surrpise because the storm has hit and we are having a hurricane right now.

But with being late out for my afternoon walk, the sun is much lower in the sky than it has been of late and once again we are having the reflections of the sunlight of the surface of the Baie de Mont St Michel. And I do have to say that this is one of the better ones of recent date, although we can thank the late hour for that.

And having thanked the late hour for the photo I pushed off along the footpath to see what was going on in the chantier navale. And just the same three boats as yesterday. No-one has left and no-one new has arrived.

rainbow Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBy now the rainstorm that we’d seen out to sea had caught up with me and I was becoming rather wet … “so what’s new?” – ed.

The sun was out over on the other side of the bay as we have seen and with it shining over here, we were being treated to the appearance of a rainbow. Unfortunately the camera can’t bring it out very well but nevertheless it is there, if you look quite hard.

Having photographed it, I came on home for a cup of hot, strong coffee and the discovery that the hot water that i’d put in the water bottle that I had received from Adventure Canada when we were on board The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour was still hot.

That’s good news because for my early star on Monday morning I can take hot coffee with me to keep me going. Must remember to bring the heated mug out of Caliburn.

With hot coffee in hand I tidied away a few more papers and that took me up to guitar time. And surprisingly, it was an enjoyable session and I’ve recovered my voice – something that has just caused the rateable value of this building to hit rock-bottom.

Tea was a burger on a bap with baked potato and veg, followed by jam roly-poly. And while the jam roly-poly is well-overcooked, the general principle is sound and I shall be doing that again … “and again” – ed.

Later on this evening I wa giving Liz some long-distance computer maintenance advice. She’s having problems with her laptop going slower and slower so I spent some time helping her along with it. But there’s much more to do so this is going to be an ongoing task.

And now that I’ve written my notes, later than I hoped, I’m off to bed even if Joni Mitchell and Hejira, her greatest album by a country mile, has come round on the playlist. I need an early night and I deserve it.

Things aren’t getting any better round here and they won’t if I don’t take any decisive action.

Tuesday 29th December 2020 – WHILE YOU ADMIRE …

river dijle groot begijnhof leuven belgium Eric Hall… the images of this afternoon’s walk through the Groot Begijnhof and along the River Dijle, let me tell you about where I went during the night.

I started off with a lady friend of mine from University last night but somehow I mixed her up with a girl with hom I once worked. She was separating from a black guy. He was still living in the family home in Dantzig Street and finding the payments difficult to keep up and was saying that he would have to sell it. That surprised me because I was wondering what she was going to receive from this because it’s bad enough being the mother of a couple of kids but being kicked out of your family home and living in a little dirty flat isn’t very good for the morale or anything like that. She should be doing much better than this. I can’t remember any more about this dream but interestingly I awoke at 06:00 as I would have done had the 1st alarm gone off even though I’d switched off the alarms this morning.

river dijle groot begijnhof leuven belgium Eric HallAnd the fun was only beginning.

Later on I was with a girl who was a real blast from the past from 45 years ago. We’d been on some kind of date kind of thing. One evening round at her house I suggested going for a walk but instead one of her friends (who was in fact keen on me all those years ago) came with me instead. I decided that it wasn’t a good idea for her to come along (back in those days there were a couple of reasons why I didn’t pursue this line) so in the end I let her go back home. I was wandering around Crewe on my own looking at how disgusting and dirty the place was, thinking that I should drive around videoing it and putting it on Social Media to show everyone what kind of dump the place is. Then the principal girl suggested that we go for a drive. We got into her car and she drove, and she wasn’t a bad driver at all, quite good in this little Mini that she had. We drove off out of town and came to a road junction where we had to turn. She said that we’d turn right so I asked where we were going. She said “you’ll find out”. We were heading in the direction of the hospital and I wondered what was going on in there, whether one of her friends was there, for I was hoping to get her up a dark alley and be much more friendly than I had been to date but if we were going to the hospital to see a friend, that ruled that out, didn’t it?

There was something else that I don’t remember very much, about me being in a bathroom somewhere. There were 2 guys who were the handymen for this building and 1 in particular spent some time in the area where I was. When I went out there was just the other guy there so I said that the light was out in the bathroom that I’d just used and perhaps he ought to tell his friend when he returned to do something about it but I can’t remember where this fitted in at all.

river dijle groot begijnhof leuven belgium Eric HallSomewhat later I’d done a big pile of cooking and I had all of these casserole dishes full of stuff all over the place, 2 big ones. I’d been ill and been in bed so they had been sitting in the kitchen for 2 or 3 days. I’d invited Barbara Windsor back, presumably for a right old carry-on. I’d been seeing her a couple of tiles and eventually I plucked up the courage to ask her out. She came back to my place and I started to parcel up these casserole things into individual portions The portions turned out to be a lot smaller than I was thinking and she was saying that maybe I should have done it into fives instead of sixes We were listening to the radio in the background and they announced ‘Top of the Pops” and I’m not going any further along this road because it’s going to spoil a surprise that I have lined up for a few weeks’ time.

But by the time that this voyage ended, it was no longer Barbara Windsor- she had transformed herself into the girl who starred in the previous voyage and this will explain a lot to at least two people who follow these adventures more closely than they like to admit.

river dijle groot begijnhof leuven belgium Eric HallWhat with all of that, that took me up to about 09:30, which isn’t too bad for a lie-in, I suppose.

And by the time that I had finished transcribing all of these and all of the adventures from yesterday, of which there is quite a considerable amount which you will find if you go back to yesterday’s page, it wasn’t all that far off lunch.

And with having no cucumber and no salad cream or equivalent, I set off out to the shops yet again.

house renovation dekenstraat brabanconnestraat leuven belgium Eric HallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that when we were here last time, we saw them busy working on a house on the corner of the Dekenstraat and the Brabanconnestraat.

It goes without saying of course that I was interested in seeing how they were doing with it so I took myself off that way for a closer loon. And they seem to be fitting an outer skin on it, with these new modern bricks that are quite thin and not unattractive.

It’s a long way from being finished, which is no surprise around here when you see just how the builders work, so we’ll get to see plenty more of this work.

school of engineering Pope Leo 13 seminary dekenstraat andreas vesaliusstraat leuven belgium Eric HallWe’ve seen the building across there – the Pope Leo XIII Seminary founded in 1889 and installed in a building that was built between 1889 and 1896.

It’s a magnificent neo-gothic pile designed by Joris Helleputte, one of the finest examples of its type and period in the city, and so whatever was going on in the minds of the city fathers when they granted planning permission for the modern monstrosity opposite it which is the School of Engineering?

It really does destroy the whole effect of the magnificence of the former building, which unfortunately now due to the decline in the number of trainee priests, is now a hostel for devout Catholic students.

It’s enough to make anyone gasp in amazement.

medieval city walls sint donatus park leuven belgium Eric HallAnother thing that regular readers of this rubbish might recall is that there are still vestiges of the old medieval city walls dotted about here and there in the town.

When we were here last time I showed you a photograph of one of the old surviving towers in the Sint Donatus park, so while we’re passing through today, I reckoned that I would show you a remnant of the old city walls here in the park not too far away.

You may well have seen them before but I can’t remember. Anyway, here I am and here they are.

De Kangxi-Verbiest world globe naamsestraat leuven belgium Eric HallOne thing that you will have seen before is the Kangxi-Verbiest globe, although you won’t have seen it from this viewpoint.

Ferdinand Verbiest was a Jesuit priest who in 1659 went as a missionary to China. trying to impress the Chinese with the knowledge that was current in Europe at the time, he showed them a globe. This prompted the Chinese into an outburst of laughter because at the time the Chinese were well ahead of the Europeans in this manner of thinking.

This is not the original globe. That remains behind in China. This is a copy here in Leuven.

site of the proefsstraat gate naamsestraat leuven belgium Eric HallThe door to this yard opens up into the Naamsestraat and so I pushed on down the road.

Those two metal lines across the street – they indicate as far as they can the position of the Proefsstraat Gate which stood here from 1156 until 1755 and was part of the fortifications that we have just seen that encircled the city. It’s on the highest part of the street

Despite its age, it wasn’t the oldest of the gates around the city. It’s known that there were fortifications including a gate built somewhere around here in the 9th Century to protect the city from Norse raids.

And this gate here didn’t survive the defortification orders of the Austrian Empire either.

There’s a calvary built across the road from the stones of the gate, and that reminds me of the story about the time they wanted to built a calvary here in modern times and they sent out requests for a design. Due to a misunderstanding on the telephone, one architect sent in a drawing of John Wayne on his horse.

huis sint niklaas groot begijnhof leuven belgium Eric HallThrough now into the Groot Begijnhof which is a part of leuven that I love.

This is the Huis Sint Niklaas, gifted to the city in 1983. And I’ve probably taken a photo of that before too.

In Carrefour I bought what I needed, also plenty of stuff that I didn’t realise that I needed too. In fact I spent more on this second trip than I did on the first.

And then a long stagger home, where I made my sandwiches and then promptly crashed out for a really good hour.

What awoke me was a phone call from a friend in the UK. We’ve been in desultory touch here and there but she decided to ring me to see how I was. We chatted for well over an hour about all kinds of things.

condo gardens dekenstraat leuven belgium Eric HallLater on, I went out to buy some chips.

You’ve seen a photo of where I stay before but it looked so nice that I couldn’t resist photographing it again. But my favourite chip shop was now closed so I had to find another one. Beans and chips and burger for tea.

Now it’s late and I’m ready for bed. No watching a film like I did last night. It’s too late for that. Especially as I have an alarm set for the morning. I did 2 lots of Welsh homework today but I still need to push on when and where I can. And Thursday is D-Day at the hospital so I need to be on form.