Tag Archives: nina wilson

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.

Tuesday 22nd December 2020 – IF ANYONE THINKS …

… that I’m feeling cocky, firstly I’m not in China and secondly it’s a disgusting habit anyway.

And thirdly, to put a complete dampener on everything, it was 09:40 when I finally arose from the dead, thanking my starts that I didn’t have a Welsh lesson today otherwise I would have been seriously incommoded. Yes, that’ll teach me to crow about how well I’m doing.

But I can’t understand it. I was in bed long before midnight and I should have leapt out of bed with alacrity, even if alacrity wasn’t anywhere near me at the time.

After the medication I had a listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night. And to my surprise, there was some stuff on there from yesterday that I must have forgotten to transcribe. So first off I attended to that and put it all on line.

After that I turned my attention to the voyages of last night. And it is hardly any surprise that I was so exhausted after the distance that I must have travelled during the night

There was one of these tribal dance things going on in Europe. I can’t remember too much now but I’d had a lot of difficulty going off to sleep what with one thing or another and I remember saying “just wait until i do my tribal dance before I go off to sleep and I’ll be fine”. Of course there were so many different foreign words in the English language at that time but they were all to do with this tribal dance stemming from all kinds of different countries where every country had one to celebrate or commemorate going to sleep, something like that

Later on there was something happening about a bunch of girls who were travelling around in medieval times and fighting their way through to success or whatever. On one occasion they were being led to storm this citadel. When they got up the steps to what I suppose you might call a landing where there were windows that looked out of this building they were all there ready with their spears and arrows ready to repel whatever it was that was coming along behind them

Some time later I was back in this big Czech castle again and we were attending an auction of paintings. There was a painter I had my eye on – he had a painting exhibited at this auction that was coming up for sale and I really fancied it. I’d drawn out a couple of hundred Euros for it. The auctioneer was selling at a hell of a speed and I was running after him trying to keep up while he was auctioning everything. He eventually reached the painting that I wanted and the bidding he started at €900 and it went up and up and up. I thought that I was totally wasting my time here. No matter how much I liked these pictures I’m never going to be able to afford them. A few people were making disparaging comments about how the lights are going out in the Czech Republic now that all of the treasures are being sold off. It was a real gothic montrosity kind of night and I awoke in a cold sweat.

After that I’d been to see someone in mid-Wales – it might have been Nina or someone like that and to come back I’d got on the train. The line was old and in bad condition and unfit but the price of the ticket was peanuts. I saw that they were having an offer every Sunday that you could go on the Mid Wales line for almost nothing. So the next Sunday I went down to see Esi in Cardiff. We met and she took me back to the University. She was amazed that I’d come and even more amazed that I’d brought my Welsh stuff with me. She went through my bag and laughed at some of the food that I’d brought and wondered what I was doing with it. Then she started to engage is some Welsh dialogue with me and said later on that we’ll go through a student-teacher exchange and we can ask each other questions all that kind of thing based on the text and I could send my answers to her before Wednesday. It was Sunday afternoon now. All in all it sounded pretty good.

While I was in Cardiff Louise and I went for our driving tests. We both took them simultaneously and ended up back at the Driving Test Centre. She returned a little before me. I sat in the car and waited. I didn’t realise that you had to enter the building and queue. By the time that I realised this and went in the queue was enormous. It took hours and hours to get to the front, people pushing past me and fighting their way to the front. I was really unsure about what I was supposed to be doing but everyone else seemed to know. Eventually I reached the window and someone took my details and typed it into the computer. he told me about a roundabout. They had changed a roundabout and they hadn’t marked the street yet and I’d driven straight through it. I ought to know that it’s a roundabout. But I explained that I didn’t know the town at all. he said that I had all the temperament required so he gave me a kind-of green sticky thing like a shamrock. I asked him what I was supposed to do with it but I didn’t get an answer.

The alarm went off instead and I turned over and went back to sleep. But I didn’t get back in touch with where I had been.

Writing all of that out took up most of what was left of the morning and then I had another job to do. I’d been playing the three concerts that I’d done yesterday and there was a join in one of them that I didn’t like at all. And so before lunch I had a closer look

And in fact, I could see on closer examination that there were three or four that weren’t very good. This is one that I joined together but never used when we were working with Radio Anglais and while I suppose that I was really pleased with it back then it shows just how much I’ve learnt since then. Anyway, I did the broadcast again – at least, I overdubbed a couple of joins and rejoined the other couple, and it’s much better.

So this is basically telling me that the ones that I have on the back burner for later (there’s three more from that period, I reckon) are no good and need to be done again. But strangely enough, editing them together is the bit that I like the most.

This meant a rather late lunch (yet again) and I’d missed my morning break too.

After lunch there wasn’t much time to do very much so based on the theory that “it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you do something – anything” I spent an hour or so editing more photos of the trip in 2019 to Greenland. And there are some pretty good ones in there too and I’m impressed with a few of them.

juvenile seagull windowledge place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere is the usual afternoon walk of course and despite the weather I set off on my route.

For the past I don’t know how many weeks there have been seagulls, either adults or juveniles, sitting on one of the window ledges and on more than one occasion seen them tapping on the window with their beaks. And today, with this juvenile here, I could see exactly why.

It seems that the owners have put on the inside of their window a model of a bird and it might possibly be that that has something to do with why the seagulls seem to like to visit that window ledge.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that in the other building there was a window ledge that the seagulls liked to frequent. The owner cured them of the habit – by buying a cat.

seafarers' memorial rainstorm in baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallSo I pushed on along the path, dodging the puddles because once again it was a grey, miserable and depressing day.

Across the lawn, across the car park and down to the headland to see what was going on out in the Bay. And if there was anything going on in the Bay I wouldn’t have seen it anyway. That, dear reader, is not fog or a low cloud but a good and proper rainstorm.

It was raining where I was standing of course, but out there it was pelters and with the wind blowing my way, I reckoned that it wouldn’t be long before I got the lot. This was not the time to be hanging around admiring the view.

waves on sea wall port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd so I pushed off along the path on top of the cliffs, a path that in places was well under water and I had to scramble up the bank in a couple of places.

We’ve had rain, cloud, and all hat kind of miserable weather but one thing that we weren’t having very much of was wind. But there must have been plenty of it blowing around somewhere out in the Atlantic because we were having some really heavy rollers coming into the Bay and colliding with the sea wall right now.

Eventually I managed to struggle on as far as the viewpoint overlooking the port, and in the chantier navale I could see that the trawler that had moved to a position by the portable boat lift was still there. Obviously, my thinking yesterday that it would soon be back in the water was somewhat optimistic.

marité empty port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut one thing that I wasn’t over-optimistic about is the state of the fishing industry.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that for the last few nights we’ve seen the fishing boats in their hordes out in the cruel sea of the bay of Granville having a swansong. I made sure that I had a good look around the port this afternoon and there is not one single fishing boat of any kind at all in the harbour.

There’s only Marité and Joly France and the commercial sailing boats in there now. As I said yesterday, anything at all connected with the town’s fishing fleet that will float is currently out at sea catching what it can.

The market is even more vibrant right now with the British being excluded from the Continent, their catch rotting away in the back of a lorry on a deserted and abandoned airfield somewhere in Kent, something about which I have no sympathy whatsoever.

Back here I had a coffee, had a long chat with Liz on the internet, did some more Welsh revision and then attended to a few tasks before having an enjoyable hour or so on the guitars. But if only I could ease some of the pressure by finishing off a few of the arrears I’d enjoy myself so much more.

rue du nord place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOn the way out for my evening runs I bumped into a neighbour and we put the world to rights, and then I headed off into the wind and rain for my run.

The fishing fleet was too far out to photograph tonight and in any case there was too much cloud and rain about so I ran on and took a photo of the Rue du Nord and the Place d’Armes. And I’ve taken many better photographs of here too during my time.

With all of this rain I reckoned that there would be far too much water about down on the footpath underneath the walls
so I pushed on along the road at a run and then went down the steps to the bottom.

plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOne of the things with which I’ve been experimenting is, with the delayed timer switch, taking few photos of the same object using different settings to see if there’s much of a difference in the output.

From down on the path underneath the walls, on a dry bit, I set up the camera on yet another handy stone to take a few photos of the Plat Gousset to see how they would come out. This one here came out quite well, I suppose and I was reasonably satisfied with that.

And so I fiddled around with a few settings and set the camera up again to take a few more photos.

plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThis next one came out … errr … differently as you can see, slightly darker but the resolution and sharpness are slightly better.

The others that I took weren’t up to all that much and were thus filed under “CS”. But one day sometime soon when the wind dies down I’ll be out there with a tripod and the 70-300mm LENS and see what damage I can do with that.

From there I had a good run home ready to make tea. It was stuffed pepper last night so with the left-over stuffing it was taco rolls tonight. And delicious they were too, followed by apple crumble yet again. I’m getting to be quite good at that.

Having written out my notes, it’s now time for bed. And I’m hoping for a better day tomorrow. I can’t keep on losing hours like this. I won’t every accomplish anything at this rate.

Wednesday 15th July 2020 – WE HAD ANOTHER …

beautiful sunset ile de chausey english channel granville manche normandy france eric hall
… horrible day again today and I’m becoming rather fed up of this.

And while you all admire the photos of yet another beautiful sunset, I’ll tell you all about it.

In actual fact it all started so well and for a change I was filled with a certain amount of optimism. Despite something of a late night I managed to beat the third alarm to my feet, and that’s an achievement these days, that’s for sure

beautiful sunset ile de chausey english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallAfter the medication I had a listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night. I was out last night with Rosemary and we were walking around a field where there were these old prehistoric statues, things like that. We became separated somehow and I was walking down to the edge of the field and who should I see at the edge of the field but Liz Ayers. “God, Liz, you’re dead!” Anyway she didn’t hear me and she was carrying on. I thought “if she sees me she’s going to start coming over to me and talk to me and that’s going to upset Rosemary. That’s not a very good idea”. But there was nowhere to go znd hide. I just had to brazen it out. Then something happened and it was a call for an assembly and everyone started to go back up the hill so I went back up the hill with everyone else. Someone was reading this text as to how as some kind of Pharaoh or God he was expected to walk 100 miles every day. The first day he had done 38 and the next day he had done 42. He set off and a few people started to follow him. Somehow I was swept up into following him as well. A few people started to dodge off down side streets so I went to dodge off down a side street but someone grabbed me and pulled me back into the main procession. It turned out that we were all expected to climb up the side of this house in our bear feet onto a scaffolding and start to rip the plaster off the front of this house. They gave the word and shouted to go so we all shot off. Slowly the rest of the crowd came to join in. There were a couple of guys who couldn’t make it up the side of this house – they didn’t have the right footwear. They were sobbing that they were going to be killed. As the crowd approached them the crowd started to climb up. There was a scaffolding near the top where people were standing and under the weight of the surging people the scaffolding collapsed. There were just a couple of people standing on the end and they had managed to scrape enough plaster off the front of this house to get in. Now they were passing stuff out from the house to throw down to the floor. I’ve no idea where I was by this time except that in the dream I was observing what was happening from a distance.

beautiful sunset ile de chausey english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallAnd whatever that is all about I really don’t have a clue.

For a change, I’ve been relatively busy today. First task was to deal with some more photos from July 2019. And I reviewed about 50 today which is good going as far as I’m concerned. Right now we are having tea on board The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour before going on a zodiac ride around Kangerluluk fjord – “The Awful Fjord” – in Greenland.

Second task was to write a letter. I’d received a letter the other day from a long-lost friend (I probably mentioned something about it at the time) and I reckoned that I had better reply before I forget completely.

beautiful sunset ile de chausey english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallAfter lunch there was yet more to do. First task this afternoon was to book Caliburn in for his bodywork.

That’s now arranged for late October ready for his control technique at the beginning of November. I need to bite the bullet and have the work done before it gets too bad.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I received – out of the blue a few months ago – a notification that I’m entitled to a works pension from when I worked for that weird American company in Watermael with Alison 15 years ago.

beautiful sunset ile de chausey english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallI’d been sitting on the correspondence for a while but I received a reminder by registered post the other day so I reckoned that I’d better deal with it.

That involved a lot of searching for paperwork, photocopying, scanning, filling in forms and then ending it all off by e-mail. Only to have the e-mail rejected as “too large” so I had to divide it into four parts and send it off again.

That’s not come back yet so it might be good this time. But we shall see. I’ve no idea how much is involved, but it won’t be all that much, that’s for sure.

beautiful sunset ile de chausey english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallFinally there was a very long e-mail to send to a friend – someone I had met on board The Good Ship Ve … errr Ocean Endeavour 2 years ago.

She lived in California but we had somehow lost contact. She replied just as I was about to set off on the Spirit of Conrad to tell me that she had moved to Hawaii and had to stay with friends as her house wasn’t ready.

So that was something urgent that I needed to do before I’m much older. Plenty of things have happened since we last spoke so it’s high time that we updated each other with our news.

swimmer plat gousset english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallOf course there was the afternoon walk around the walls.

The mobile canteen was still there although there were no customers around it. But I was more interested in what was going on out at sea. It wasn’t very warm at all so anyone out there in the water earned my respect, no-one more so than Captain Matthew Webb here.

He must be on his way to pay a call at Dawley Bank, although that doesn’t look much like old canal that carried the bricks to Lawley down there.

hang gliders donville les bains granville manche normandy france eric hallIt goes without saying that there was plenty of aerial activity today with the wind that we were having.

There were dozens of bird-men of Alcatraz in the air today and so I hung around for a while hoping for a mid-air collision to add a little bit of excitement to my otherwise-boring life.

Unfortunately nothing out of the ordinary happened while I was watching. After a couple of minutes I became somewhat bored so I pushed on … “pushed off, he means” – ed … down the path through the crowds of people.

kids jumping from diving platform plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallThere were crowds too, blocking the pavements and paths and so on all the way around my circuit.

Crowds too on the beach and in the water round by the Plat Gousset. And all of the kids were once more on the diving platformm leaping off into the sea.

You saw plenty of photos of them yesterday so I won’t trouble you again. But here’s one for the record just to fill in the gap. I wasn’t going to wait for the others.

big wheel place godal etoile baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france eric hallThe scaffolding was still up with no sign of any workmen at the building in the Place Marechal Foch so I carried on around and into the Square Maurice Marland.

Etoile, the French maritime service’s sail-training ship was out there this afternoon. She looks as if she’s taking a load of passengers out for a day trip around the Baie de Mont St Michel.

The Big Wheel is in operation too with a good load of passengers right now. I can see as many as 6 passengers in there. It’s not as busy as one would think. But apart from that, look at the seagulls all loitering on the roof of the old cold store that was used when the town was an important port for trawlers working the Grand Banks.

baby seagull rue des juifs granville manche normandy france eric hallWhile I was here I went to look at my baby seagull. But the roof was bare so I reckon that baby seagull has had its chips, if you pardon the expression.

On the other roofs, the rest of the colony of babies are stretching their wings. This one was having a load of fun flapping its wings and taking little leaps about.

They seem to have lost their baby plumage from their heads too and no longer look the same colour or pattern as their eggs. It won’t be long now before they all take to the air and then that will be fun.

etoile baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france eric hallOn the way home I came across Etoile again.

By now she’s heading off out to see with an an accompanying yacht riding along in her wake to see her off. I wonder if she’ll be coming back or whether this is goodbye.

On my return to the apartment I sat down to have a go at one of my courses but, shame as it is to admit it, I was out like a light on the chair in here for all of 90 minutes. I’d missed a whole early evening of work.

In fact I felt dreadful – dead to the world and it took a good while to pull myself together again. I reckon that this lack of medication is getting to me.

The next morning when I was reviewing the dictaphone I noticed that there was a note on it from this afternoon.

Apparently I’d been in bed with Nerina while I was away with the fairies. She suddenly realised that she had to go for a doctor’s appointment. so she got herself up and said should she bring back some mushy peas as well. I said “yes, and some chips and some vinegar”. I gave her a voucher that I had been keeping for Addison’s chip shop In Shavington where there was a special deal on in chips. She didn’t know where Addison’s was so I had to draw her a map in the sand on the floor so that she could work out her position and where the chip shop was.

Tea was a falafel and veg with cheese sauce. The falafel and veg were cooked in that microwave grill that Rachel gave me. But it doesn’t seem to work too well in my microwave and the food took ages to cook.

Next time that I try it, I’ll have to do things differently. Maybe slice the potatoes thinner, or use more oil, I dunno. But it still tasted nice with the vegan cheese sauce, now that I have some vegan cheese again after my trip to Belgium.

Dessert was more of that delicious apple crumble. I seem to have excelled myself here what with that and the bread.

Etoile english channel brittany granville manche normandy france eric hallOn my run up and around the headland I saw what at first glance looked as if it might be the lighthouse on Cap Fréhel looking even cleared than normal. Consequently I took a photo of it so that I could enlarge it and check when I returned to the apartment.

Closer inspection revealed instead that it’s a big white sailing ship with some of its sails furled.

At first I thought that it was Marité on her way home – after all, there’s only one big white sailing ship around here that I know of. But I counted the masts and there are only two, not three and so that makes me think that it’s Etoile sailing off into the sunset back home to Brest.

chausias big wheel port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallMarité wasn’t back in her berth in the harbour so she’s not made it back home as of yet.

Chausiais was there, moored up underneath the crane in the unloading bay where the two freighters from Jersey tie up when they arrive. It looks as if she will be taking a load out to the Ile de Chausey on the morning tide.

The Big Wheel was working away too. I like the idea of it being all lit up, something that I have never actually seen because I am usually never here at this time of the year, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall.

picnickers plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallRound at the viewpoint the canteen vehicle was there all closed up. However they had left an electric cable connected to it and plugged into one of the sockets. Imagine how long that would be there in the UK.

The picnickers were back on the beach too, enjoying the sunset. Not as many as we have seen in the past but even so the three of them there seemed to be having a good time,

And who could blame them? There was a terrible wind blowing but nevertheless it was a pleasant evening to be out

beautiful sunset ile de chausey english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallAnd talking of the wind, it had upset my running this evening.

It was impossible to run down to the clifftop because it was straight into a headlong nor’easter that stopped me in my tracks and made me walk.

The itinerant was there. He had built himself a little shelter using his wheeled trolley as a windbreak and I can’t say that he didn’t need it.

beautiful sunset ile de chausey english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallThe rest of the runs passed off without much incident.

The gale that was blowing down the Boulevard des 2E et 202E de Ligne stopped me in my tracks.

But that’s nothing new. Since I came back from my adventure on the high seas I’ve not been able to make it up the hill there anyway. Instead, I have to stop to catch my breath before I can do the next lap.

beautiful sunset ile de chausey english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallThe next lap takes me all the way round to the viewpoint in the Rue du Nord where I could stand and admire the sunset.

As it slowly sank into the sea a small crowd of about two people gathered around me to take some photos. And when it had gone beneath the horizon I turned round and ran home.

Back here I wrote up my notes with something of an air of disappointment. My health isn’t doing very well right now which is no surprise because it’s been exactly 6 months since I’ve had my medical treatment.

beautiful sunset ile de chausey english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallThey aren’t going to treat me until at least October, something that I find very strange.

But they are in charge and presumably they know what they are doing. It just seems to me to be quite funny that when I miss a treatment they go berserk about it, yest they can let me go for 9 months without anything at all.

And on that note, I’m off to bed. It’s shopping tomorrow so I need to be on form for that.

Monday 15th June 2020 – I WAS HARD …

… at it all day today for a change) and by the time I knocked off at 18:15 I’d completed a whole radio project.

It was one of my live concerts which regular readers of this rubbish might think are usually easier than the usual ones – and usually they are. But not this one. Not at all.

Someone had very kindly send me a pile of music (which reminds me – if you are in a group and want your music featured on my shows, get in touch!) for a live concert, which was very nice of them and I never decry the effort, but it was all unusable.

It was a case of scouring the internet to see what I could find, re-manipulating and remixing the rest and then editing it and merging it all together. It’s ended up a bit of a dog’s breakfast, but there wasn’t all that much I could about it.

So in the end I wrote the intro, dictated it, uploaded it to the computer, edited it, and then merged it into the other part, and then had to edit everything to make it fit the on-hour time slot.

And if you think that’s a lot of work, it’s not all that I had to do either. And it didn’t help much that I missed the third alarm as well. Only by a few minutes but missed it all the same.

After the meds I had a listen to the dictaphone to see where I had been during the night. I was actually working with someone for whom I don’t really care all that much in real life. We had a tyre depot or we had taken one over. It wasn’t particularly very busy but we were just doing odd jobs and things just to tide us over while we established ourselves. We’d taken it over from some other people, one of their depots and we noticed that we were getting into Novermber but we hadn’t had any calls to change tyres for winter or anything like that and I would have expected that to have been happening round about now. So I was wondering whether they were keeping all of the good jobs back from us and doing them themselves. I was talking to another friend on line and he was asking about how things were. I explained that I hadn’t had time to devote anything to any project that I particularly wanted to do because earning a living was the priority and as no-one wanted to employ me I’ve been having to create a business for myself and I was telling him about this tyre depot.

There were a few things that needed doing and then for the rest of the morning I dealt with my Welsh homework. And I found that I had forgotten most of what I had learnt last week so I had to revise it again.

There was the break for lunch of course, and also the brak for my afternoon walk.

speedboat zodiac buoy english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallIt was trying its best to rain when I went out there this afternoon, so i didn’t like to hang around too much.

But regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we have seen piles of weird buoys and maritime markers bobbing up and down in the water around the coast. There’s another one here just now, with a couple of boats – a zodiac and a speedboat loitering around it.

It’s difficult to see what they are doing – whether they are fishing with rod and line or whether they are doing something with the buoy.

fisherman cap lihou pointe du roc granville manche normandy france eric hallNo prizes what this guy is doing here.

With not very much (and even fewer people) around on the lawn I wandered off around the headland to see if there was anything happening there. Again, not an awful lot except this guy fishing from the rocks.

It’s quite a scramble to reach that particular point and I bet that it’s even more difficult scrambling back up the hill, especially with a full catch.

rainstorm baie de mont st michel brittany granville manche normandy france eric hallAnd I’m not convinced about his choice of attire either, and I have a feeling that he’ll be regretting it before much longer.

Just look over there at the Brittany coast. That’s a couple of wicked rainstorms and they are heading right this way. I’m not too bothered because I’ll be home in five minutes. It’ll take him at least that to put away his gear and scramble up the rocks.

There are plenty of boats out there too and they’ll know all about it when the rainstorm hits them in mid-ocean or whatever

rainstorm baie de mont st michel pointe de carolles granville manche normandy france eric hallThat’s not the best of it either.

My walk took me further around the headland to the south side and this was the sight that greeted me there. A huge rain cloud has blown in from the bay and enveloped the Pointe de Carolles in its wet and clammy grasp.

It’s slowly heading up the coast and as I watched it advance, it slowly spread its shround all over Jullouville.

“This isn’t the time to be hanging about” I reckoned, and headed back for my apartment

workers van place d'armes granville manche normandy france eric hallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that over the weekend we saw the “no parking” notices on the part of the car park that is on the public part of the Place d’Armes.

Being intrigued to see what was happening there I went round for a good look. It’s not easy to see what they will be doing but we have a builder’s mobile office parked here now.

Not only that, there’s a generator just parked there waiting for just anyone to come along, pick it up and drive away. Imagine that in the UK!

On my way back I saw Gribouille sitting on his windowsill so I went to give him a stroke, only to find Nicole there struggling with her drawers, with her hand still in a plaster.

Gallant me, I went to give her a hand. I glued them back together for her and slid them back into the unit.

Back outside it was now teeming down. The rain had caught me up so I came inside quickly.

After my hour on the guitars I ended up with a stuffed pepper for tea. And the amount of fresh food that I’ve had to throw away due to not eating is appalling. I hate throwing food away.

pile of rubble place d'armes granville manche normandy france eric hallLater on I went for my evening walk and run around the headland.

First stop though was to see what was going on where the builders’ office was. And we seem to have acquired a pile of tarmac and sand from somewhere. They must be digging up somewhere, but I’ve no idea where.

Having examined that, I ran off up the road – a little bit (just a little bit) easier than it was been. And having recovered my breath I ran on down to the clifftop.

couple enjoying sunshine pointe du roc granville manche normandy france eric hallMy itinerant was there again. I reckon that he’s here for the duration.

He wasn’t the only one here either – although he might well have been seeing as how quiet the whole area was. There was just one other couple here – a young couple sitting in the sun quietly watching it sink down into the sea

It’s a really nice way to spend a summer evening.

And talking about nice ways to spend summer evenings, I’ve had an e-mail completely out of the blue from someone who played a large part in my life 45 years ago and who I’ve seen on a few occasions since, but not for about 10 years.

So what’s happening here?

fishing boats english channel brittany coast granville manche normandy france eric hallNo prizes for guessing what’s happening here.

A couple of fishing boats out there, almost stationary. So I imagine that they have their fishing equipment out and are dredging up the sea bed for the shellfish. I’m determined to get out there one day and see how they do it.

Despite it being overcast, there was another excellent view all the way down the Brittany coast towards Cap Fréhel. Not as good as the last time but still impressive enough.

chateau de la crete atlantic wall baie se mont st michel port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallAs I walked across the lawn by the Resistance memorial, the sun suddenly came dramatically out of the clouds and lit up the Chateau de la Crête.

Ordinarily I would wait until I’m down on the other side of the headland where there’s an unrestricted view, but the weather is being rather capricious just now and you can’t rely on there still being the same effect in five minutes time.

But at least you get to see one of the bunkers of the Atlantic Wall. They don’t feature very often in my photos for one reason or another.

picnickers plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallNothing else of any importance happened at all. My run all the way in its several stages) down to the viewpoint at the rue du Nord was pretty uneventful.

There on the beach though I could see that a group of picnickers weas just installing itself down among the rocks. I didn’t think that it was warm enough for that, but they clearly do.

But when you ae young you are pretty much immune to that kind of thing. Yes, since I had that e-mail earlier, I’ve gone all nostalgic and broody.

beautiful sunset ile de chausey english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallInstead of musing on the past, I straightened myself up and admired the sunset.

It’s another one of these wonderful mid-evening lights again and I really like the effect that it gives.

But I couldn’t stay for long. I had a chat with a couple of people admiring the apartment that’s for sale, especially when the woman stood on one of the bollards in the street to have a better view and it sank into the ground under her weight.

Tomorrow I have my Welsh class so I need to revise and prepare for it.

That means an early night, in the hope that I can be out of bed early.

Some hope, hey?

Wednesday 29th April 2020 – I MISSED …

storm high winds port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hall… a few things that I intended to do today.

Perhaps the most important was the first run of the evening, but there’s a good reason for that and if you’ll look at this image just here you’ll understand.

Not only do we have the rainstorm, we have a howling gale blowing outside, right down the road towards me where I do my first run. And it was difficult enough to walk, never mind run up the hill in this

The second thing that I missed was the third alarm. I definitely heard the first two but I must have gone back to sleep again because when the third alarm went off I was still deep down under the covers.

But I wasn’t too far behind myself which was good news.

After the medication it was the dictaphone. For some unknown reason last night I was in my cabin last night on The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour playing acoustic guitar to a Creedence Clearwater song but I can’t remember which one. But when I looked I could see that the doorway was blocked and I realised that someone had put outside the doorway a sack with everything – all my food and everything in it that I needed for the next few days while this virus went round. And that’s all that I can remember of it anyway.
But here’s a thing. Yesterday I was writing something for the radio and the subject of a certain former girlfriend turned up, so I included in my article a little anecdote about her.
So who should turn up in my night-time meanderings but the aforementioned. I’d been somewhere and I’d bumped into her although I hadn’t, because she walked right past me as if I wasn’t there. I hadn’t given the matter a great deal of thought but a couple of days later I was sitting in Woolworth’s in Crewe and she was walking through Woolworths and went out of the door that was about 10 feet away from where I was standing. I waved as she went past but again she totally and utterly ignored me. I went to write her an e-mail to ask if I’d done anything to upset her or whatever. In the end I thought “sod it” and I telephoned her. She answered and she was down the street somewhere in Crewe and we ended up having a chat. It was a friendly-enough chat but you could feel that there was something there and I couldn’t understand what it was. This gradually evolved into one of the daughters of my niece and she said something to her mother on the telephone about she won’t be home for supper so could Eric bring it round in his van? Seeing as I was going to a place that evening that was near there. She had never asked me but seeing as it was near the place where I was going it didn’t really bother me that she was proposing me to do something without even asking me first.

After breakfast I made a start on the file digitalisation. For one album there was only one track that I found, which was a surprise because it’s a quite well-known album.

However I found another two to do and it didn’t take long. They were quite quick in digitalising and there were only one or two that “stuck”. But so quick were they that I only had time to do 20-odd photos from July 2019.

But now I’m just pulling up at the Vatnajokull Glacier in Iceland.

One of the photos was a very good one of Rosemary so I posted it to her. As a result she rang me up for a chat and we were on the phone for ages.

All of the time that I’d saved evaporated just like that, but isn’t that just life? Still, taking time out to talk to friends is very important and shouldn’t be overlooked.

Most of the day after that was spent mainly in finishing off the radio project. I finished editing the speech, chopped it into segments, assembled everything together, worked out the time remaining, knocked off 30 seconds for the final speech and then found a final track to fill in the remaining time.

And much to my surprise, it all went together like clockwork and fitted to within a second or two, and I soon fixed that. I could have fixed it earlier too but I was … errr … away with the fairies for half an hour or so, which was quite disappointing.

There was cooking to do too – well, cooking of sorts. I didn’t do the hummus as there was enough for lunch so I’ll do that tomorrow and it’ll be nice and fresh for lunch. It’ll be roast pepper in one batch and sun-dried tomato and olives in the other

But there were the 2kgs of carrots that I had bought on Saturday.

They are all peeled, diced, blanched and in the freezer. I don’t know what it is about shop-bought frozen carrots but they taste ptetty miserable. Mine, or any other home-frozen ones always seem to taste better.

While I was putting stuff away (yes, putting stuff away!) I came across a 2gb memory stick that I had somehow managed to overlook. I copied a pile of music from the recently-digitalised recordings onto that to play on the hi-fi in the living room, and then merged the sound files into the general fun of music.

Once the new memory sticks come out of quarantine there will be some more being moved out of the temporary diirectory so while I was at it, I made a start on a new collection, labelled FF, with the “new” artists who weren’t in any previous collection.

That’s 6 collections with different groups and musicians in each, which means basically that there’s now 7 or 8 weeks (including the monthly live concert) before we complete the circle so a group is only featured at the most once every 7 or 8 weeks.

For my hour on the guitar I tried a new track. I did the bass first followed by the six-string and that seemed to be a better way round. Before I put them away I can have a run through a couple of numbers that I know well and that lifts my spirits.

Tea was lentil and tofu pie with vegetables and gravy followed by the blackberry pie with almond soya. Really delicious stuff, it was too.

rocks marker buoy english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallAnd then “once more unto the breach, dear friends!”

Just me out there tonight, not another soul about. So I struggled up the hill at a walk and then ran down to the clifftop to see the sea. Not as wild as I was hoping, unfortunately, but the tide is a long way from high – not until almost midnight – so it should be good by then.

And 10.3 metres high too. A long way from the highest of course, but good enough to put the wind up the sailors.

storm high winds port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallYes, if this is what the storm is like now with the tide three hours out, imagine what it’s going to be like later.

It’s a shame that it’s going to be dark at high tide because I won’t be able to see it.

So instead I carried on with my run. There was no change in the situation at the chantier navale. Still the same four boats, including the new black and green one, so I didn’t trouble anyone with a photo.

trawler fishing boat storm high winds baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france eric hallThis was worth a photo though. In the dark and way out in the distance out to sea so it’s come out rather blurred but that can’t be helped.

It’s one of the little fishing boats right out there in the baie de Mont St Michel struggling against the waves as it slowly tries to make its way towards harbour.

And I have said before … “on many, many occasions” – ed … my hat goes off to those out there in weather like this trying to earn a living in boats like that. It’s not easy by any means.

builders material on quayside port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallThis is interesting too.

On the quayside over there by the crane is a pile of builders’ material – wood and these bags that have sand or gravel or stuff like that in them. That can only mean one thing and that is that we are about to have a visit from either Thora or Normandy Trader.

It’s quite likely that I won’t know about it either. What with current developments, their turn-round in the harbour is quite rapid, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall and with me only being allowed out for an hour every day, I’ll almost inevitably miss their visit.

floating pontoon port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallSomething else that I’ll be missing from now on will be the floating pontoon.

It’s not there now – the ground’s all flat – in the water but dismantled into its sections and hoisted out on the quayside over there ready for removal.

The big crane isn’t there either. Gone! And never called me mother! Whatever they will be doing now isn’t going to require too much lifting by the looks of things and all of the supporting pillars are now in.

Or are that? What did they do with that offcut that was around there?

But I’ll find that out another day because right now I’m off to bed. It’s not early but it’s not late either, but I have to go shopping tomorrow. Supplies are getting low. So I need to be on my best behaviour and on good form.

Sunday 18th February 2018 -FOR A REASON …

… that I didn’t understand at first, I slept the Sleep Of The Dead last night.

But I awoke with a start at about 06:40. I realised that I had changed the time of the alarm yesterday so I knew that it wasn’t yet time to awaken, but after about two minutes it hit me that today is Sunday and the alarm was programmed not to ring. And so instead of the usual Sunday morning procedure where I try my best not to awaken, we had the opposite procedure with me trying not to go back to sleep.

And then another thought hit me too.

All throughout the night there had been complete and utter silence from next door. I hadn’t awoken once. Perhaps they weren’t out partying last night at all, but had left the place yesterday morning.

I wondered whether to do a lap of honour.

I’d been on my travels too. Nina, a former girlfriend of mine, was to put in an appearance and so I needed to tidy up Caliburn, especially the back if a little session of indoor alligator wrestling (unlikely) were to take place. I also had to do some more tidying up elsewhere and this involved Dismantling the hi-fi system. Some woman helped me do this because it wasn’t easy, with cables, headphone leads and all of this kind of thing all tangled up into some kind of spaghetti mess that we were desperately endeavouring to sort out.

So with my noisy neighbours apparently having left yesterday, and having had a good night’s sleep as a result (and about time too) I was ready for anything.

Well, almost.

I made a mistake in the boulangerie. To me, a baguette is a baguette, but apparently not in Leuven. Had Jesus ordered five of the ones that were given to me there would have been no miracle about feeding the 5000. I have enough to feed myself for a week.

I took my leave of the guy at the hotel. He asked me if I’d enjoyed my stay. I explained the issues that I’d had with my neighbours and he pulled a face. I told him that I would see him in a few weeks time, and hopefully he would have a quieter room for me…

queue at boulangerie leuven belgium february fevrier 2018Emerging from the alleyway at the back of the hotel (to save walking all the way round the block) I burst out laughing when I saw the boulangerie.

We’ve all seen (and some of us have stood in) the queues outside the bakers’ shops in Poland and Bulgaria, places like that under the Communists. And here in Belgium we have exactly the same situation.

Of course, maybe not for the same reasons, but it’s amusing nevertheless to see it.

My luck was in at Leuven station. The earlier express to Brussels was held up while they endeavoured to negotiate a wheelchair and its occupant aboard, and so I leapt on board too.

There’s no doubt whatever that the guy was disabled, but when I saw him a little later walking around the train I thought that he might have given the porter at the station a little more help. But then, that might have meant that the train would have left earlier and I would have had a cold and miserable wait on the station for the next train.

And I managed to drop my woolly hat – the one that goes on my woolly head – in the train and some woman shouted after me as I was about to alight.

And although it was a cold and miserable wait in the waiting room at Bruxelles-Midi, at least we had some entertainment. For police officers manhandling … "PERSONhandling" – ed … two boys out of the restricted area. “I didn’t steal anything” wailed one of the boys but the police are the same the whole world over and took no notice whatsoever.

tgv thalys bruxelles gare du midi belgium february fevrier 2018The TGV previous to mine had been 10 minutes late but my train actually pulled in early, which made a nice change, and so I was one of the first to clamber aboard which is always helpful.

Old, tired and a little tatty around the edges. And the train wasn’t much better either. These first-generation TGVs have done quite a lot of work.

There were a surprising number of empty seats too – probably 80 or 85% occupancy. My experience of TGVs is that they are usually packed to the gunwhales.

tgv thalys paris gare du nord franceWe arrived at Paris Gare du Nord bang on schedule, which is just as well seeing that my train to Granville has been advanced half an hour because of the engineering works on the line. There’s no time to loiter.

But even more importantly, I arrived totally intact with nothing else missing from my trousseau. That makes a change after the events of the past few weeks.

But this train thing is going to become an issue in early course. They have a rolling programme of modernisation of the stations along Line 4 – the direct line between Paris Gare du Nord and Paris Montparnasse-Vaugirard. And on 17th March the platforms on the line here will be taken out of service.

There’s always an alternative route, like Line 5 to the Place d’Italie and then Line 6, but it’s complicated and takes much longer. And time is tight.

And in case you’re wondering, it is a different train from the one that I photographed in Brussels. Our train was made up of two train sets coupled together and they were of different classes.

I arrived at Paris Montparnasse-Vaugirard and my waiting room with 20 minutes to spare. And found a seat next to a girl from California who spoke French with a remarkably good accent.

You’ll remember last time I was here and the “incident” involving the woman and her mother. Here, we had quite an ugly incident where a couple arrived after boarding for their train had completed but before it had left, and they were refused admission to the platform. The abuse, insults and vitriol that they were giving the staff was outrageous.

Just to make things clear, it states quite definitely on your ticket that you should be present on the platform no later than 2 minutes before the departure time, and I’m sure that people don’t realise just how much of a walk it is to Vaugirard. Apart from the 1.3 kilometres of foot passage from the Metro (I’ve measured it), the platforms at Vaugirard are right down at the end of Montparnasse’s Platform 23, which is a very long platform. It’s a marathon hike and you won’t do it all in a couple of minutes.

eiffel tower paris franceEventually we could board our train so I took my leave of my companion and had another nice travelling companion for some of the way home.

I left my seat though a couple of miles out because at a certain point there’s a really good view of the Eiffel Tower and I wanted to get an eiffel of it.

It’s not come out very clearly because there’s only so much possibility with a swaying train and a camera shot through a dirty double-glazed window.

After my companion left I settled down to my butties and then dozed almost all the way to Granville.

diesel multiple unit sncf gare de granville manche normandy franceWe arrived on time, which is late these days because of the engineering works, and I had to help a woman with her suitcase (what help would I be?) as she struggled with a screaming infant.

And then through the drizzly rain (quite a change from the weather in Paris) I had a weary, dreary walk home. It’s definitely taking a lot out of me. If my health deteriorates further (which it’s bound to do) I’ll have to remember not to come home on a Sunday. The buses don’t run on Sunday.

Back here after I eventually arrived, I crashed out on the sofa with a coffee and was out of it completely until about 20:30. I missed tea of course, but I did have a bag of nuts and raisins.

And with the fitbit telling me that I’ve done 80% of my day’s activity, I crawled out of the apartment for a lap around the old town. When I came back I was on 102% so that’s enough for today.

I’ve done enough. I’m off to bed where I shall sleep for a week.

Thursday 10th September 2015 – THE BEST-LAID SCHEMES …

… o’ mice an’ men gang aft a-gley, as we all know. And none more so that when I’m involved.

I went round today to pick up Plan B – the camper shell that I was having specially built for me, only to find that it wasn’t ready and wouldn’t be for another week. And that is of absolutely no use to me as this time next week I’ll be in Fredericton.

Mind you, I wasn’t that disappointed because first of all, I had suspected something pretty much like this – that it wouldn’t be done. I dunno – I had that kind of funny feeling and I’ve had it ever since. And secondly, I’d been having another thought anyway that maybe I had been too hasty in making a decision.

But as it turned out, the place where I’d been to also spends its time manufacturing aluminium work-type truck caps and that’s much more like it. And not only that, They can go for a taller height (32 inches instead of 29 inches) and you’ve no idea the difference that three inches can make, as the actress once famously said to the Bishop.

Anyway, having made the guy there feel suitably guilty, he’s going to build me on specially for Saturday. At least – he better had or else my long-suffering patience and good humour would disappear on the spot.

And I was in fact lucky that I still had any patience and good humour left. I didn’t have a very good sleep (not being able to fit the bed into the tent didn’t help much – I had to empty the load bed of Strider and that all needed to be under cover) and so I wasn’t in the best of humour to start with. But at least I managed to find the saucepan and the coffee so that I could brew up.

Now yesterday, I told you that there was no railway line to Burlington. In fact, I was being rather economical with the truth.

diesel locomotives railwy goods yard burlington vermont usaFurther enquiry and exploration revealed that there is indeed a railway line here and if you need any proof, here are a few of the locomotives that are stabled in the goods yard.

There’s certainly a freight service here – a lot of kaolin (china clay) by the looks of it so whether they mine it here and ship it out or whether they mine it elsewhere and bring it in here for any kind of pottery industry I have yet to discover.

However, I have found out that Burlington is the headquarters of Ben and Jerry’s, so seeing all of the liquid kaolin slurry here has put me right off ice-cream.

The passenger rail service has long gone (although there’s talk of restarting it some time) and the abandoned railway here in front of me as I type is the old line to Alburgh, that lost its passenger service as long ago as 1948, so I was told.

view lake champlain burlington vermont usaSouth of the town on an industrial estate is a small headland that overlooks Lake Champlain, and so this is where I went for lunch.

It was quite impressive up here and while the weather might not have been the best, it was still a quite pleasant day for idly sitting around for an hour or so and doing not very much.

And then I went off for my disappointing visit.

But as I said, it isn’t all doom and gloom. Round the corner was a charity shop and I bought a rug, almost exactly the right size for Strider’s floor, for just $5:00. And the Walmart down the road came up with a cheap doormat and one or two other bits and pieces. If ever I do get something organised, it will be the prettiest place in the universe.

On the way back, as it was getting dark, I drove past the High School sports stadium just as two teams were taking the field. Thinking it might be something interesting like a football or a gridiron game, I went for a look but it was in fact a girls hockey match between Burlington High School Seahorses and Champlain Valley High School Redhawks.

Well, it wasn’t a “hockey match” – but a “field hockey” match. In North America, if you say “hockey” you mean ice hockey, whereas in Europe when you say “hockey” you mean the stuff played on grass (or in this case, astroturf) and “ice hockey” is the minority sport.

It was quite apparent from the warm-up that the Redhawks were the most disciplined and better-organised team, and they even had the team “hypnotism” session that you often see at the end of a yoga session.

And that was how the match went. The first 15 minutes were spent entirely in the Seahorses semi-circle and I did at one point think that the only time that the ball would end up at the other end would be after the teams had changed ends at half-time. One-way traffic was not the word.

Nevertheless, the Seahorses’ goal led a charmed life and how the score ended up just 2-0 for the Redhawks instead of the cricket score that I was expecting remains one of those little mysteries.

What didn’t help matters, from the Seahorses point of view, was that the only times that they threatened on the attack was down the right wing, with a combined attack of the n°17, playing right midfield and who in my mind was the most impressive Seahorse on the field, and the girl playing right-wing whose number I didn’t notice. When they were working together they usually managed to produce something threatening and interesting, even if the rest of the girls couldn’t quite manage to get on the end of the ball. But in one of the weirdest coaching decisions that I’ve seen for quite a while (and regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we have seen a few in our time at various sports) the Seahorses coach substituted the n°17 after about 40 minutes (there were two 30-minute halves) and the Seahorses attack, such as it was, melted away after that.

As for the Redhawks, they were by far the better team. Quicker, fitter (a couple of times, a Seahorse or two were caught upfield out of position and out of breath), more organised, more disciplined and more powerful. And the best player on the best team was the Redhawks right-back – a little slip of a girl wearing n°17. She was playing sweeper on the right, right on the edge of the Redhawks half-circle, but I’ve never seen anything so small move so quickly. She could run all the way up to the half-way line to intercept a loose ball and play it forward before her opponent, who had 30 yards on her, had even made up her mind what to do.

It’s not my sport of course, field hockey, even though I had a girlfriend (Rohina) who played on the school 1st XI back in those days, but I can recognise a good team and a good player and good tactics whenever I see them.

All in all, a most enjoyable night in quite a large partisan crowd – helped of course by the fact that for the first 20 minutes at least I had some convivial company – a guy from a neighbouring town who had dropped by with his wife and daughter. In fact, he was most interested in life in Europe, energy conservation, all that kind of thing, and we had a really good talk until his daughter started to become cold and wanted to go.

And no photos of the match, unfortunately. As you know, in the USA, cameras are not permitted at many places where children are present. Personally, I’m surprised that they don’t wrap them in Bourhkas myself.

And back here the camp site has been invaded by Roadtrek campers. It seems that they are having some kind of convention here, singing around the campfire and stuff like that (but I’ve no idea what the occupants will be doing of course). That’s going to be another night when I won’t have any sleep.

vehicle towing wheeled water container north beach campground burlington vermont usaAnd talking of campers, look at this. Is this not the epitome of laziness?

For those on pitches that don’t have water taps (and private sewage hook-ups) the public conveniences are in no case more than 50 metres away. But this here is someone who has a wheeled water container so he can drag it along like one does with a shopping trolley, but tows it behind his car – for all of a maximum if 50 metres.

You can’t make up anything like this, which is why I chose to prohotgraph it. But it sums up North America completely (yes, I have noticed that the vehicle has an Ontario number plate).

Monday 20th July 2015 – I HAVE NEVER FELT …

… so bad as I felt this morning.

There was no alarm call in the room this morning so I was quite surprised to be awake and sitting up on the edge of the bed at 07:40. But never mind getting up – the way that I was feeling, I was ready to crawl straight into the grave and I wouldn’t have cared at all. You would never ever have thought that I had had a really early night either.

Mind you, I had been on my travels during the night. Back in Brussels in fact, and I was back working at the EU which had somehow managed to transport its offices to Boulevard Reyers. I had a ground-floor two-bedroom flat somewhere in a traditional built-up area such as that on the bottom end of the Avenue Molière. Two-bedroom, it was, and a typical 1920s “3 pièces en enfilade”, but tidy as it might have been, the two bedrooms were under renovation so I had my double bed in the kitchen. This was rather inconvenient when I invited a young lady from the office back to my apartment to stay the night, but nevertheless, she came and stayed, and I was quite happy. Next morning, who should I bump into but Nina, a girlfriend from way back in the early 1970s. She grabbed me and said something along the lines of “now that I’ve got you, I’m not ever going to let you go again” – rather inconvenient seeing as how I’d invited the other girl to a rock concert that night. So I asked Nina if she fancied going to the rock concert, to which she replied “no”, which took a weight off my mind so that I could carry on with my plans, but Nina then said “but we can do something else instead” – and that threw me back into an even more confusing situation.

So with all of that, it’s no surprise that I was thoroughly out of sorts this morning.

Anyway, to cut a long story short … "hooray" – ed … after having an agonising couple of hours, I made a pot of coffee and drank it. And then I do have to say that I’ve never felt better after that. In fact I attacked a few things that had been built up for a while and dealt with them with gusto.

After lunch, I attacked the ceiling in the shower room, now that I have bought the tongue and grooving. And I was glad that I had had that coffee, because it was a struggle. I had to –

  • cut a few pieces with some fancy, intricate cuts
  • drill a large 60mm hole in one plank for the recessed light up at that end
  • rewire all of the lights
  • fit a batten to the beams under the suspended ceiling to attach (with some very long screws) the light cord switch
  • reroute a great deal of the wiring
  • wire in the 12-volt extension to the circuit that runs to the back of the wardrobe in the bedroom

And then I could start to fit the rest of the planks of tongue and groove.

Two more to fit and the ceiling will be finished, and even so, it was 19:25 by the time that I knocked off.

I’ll have to have a good pot of coffee tomorrow. I need to tidy up here because Rosemary is coming for an inspection, and she phoned me tonight to make sure that I hadn’t forgotten.