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Tuesday 23rd March 2021 – WE’VE BEEN HAVING …

fisherman english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall… something of a nautical day again today instead of the aviation day that we had at the weekend.

This guy out there in the English Channel in his little cabin cruiser with a couple of fishing roads hanging out over the back is just typical of what was going on out there this afternoon.

It’s quite possible that it has something to do with the arrival of the Parisians fleeing confinement at their main address and heading out to their second homes of whatever accommodation they have been able to hire at short notice, but the sea was absolutely heaving with people this afternoon in all kinds of water craft.

man plankboarding english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd when I say “all kinds of water craft” I really do mean that because this is yet another example of what was going on down below me in the English Channel.

Someone has decided to go out for a paddle on his paddle board and if he has paddled like that all the way around the Pointe du Roc from the port de plaisance, then he’s been doing really well because that’s not going to be an easy paddle, even when the weather is calm and the sea is smooth.

Actually the weather was quite calm this afternoon and it was rather warm, although not that warm that taking off your shirt was ever going to be any kind of option as far as I was concerned.

trawler english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThis on the other hand is more like the kind of maritime activity that we are accustomed to see around here these days.

The tide is well in and the harbour gates are open so every now and again a trawler will set sail and head out to the open sea for another bout of fishing activity.

Regardless of the effects of Brexit to date, fishing is still continuing out there in the English Channel and the Bay of Granville although with relations between the UK and the EU deteriorating rapidly as the UK breaches Law after Law and Agreement after Agreement, how long this situation will continue is anyone’s guess.

This morning, I was up once more just after the first alarm went off and after the medication I had a listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been but to my surprise there was nothing at all on there. I must have slept soundly all the way through until the alarm.

With nothing to transcribe on the dictaphone I attacked the photos from July 2019. Right now I’m just pulling into the Travel Inn Motel in Lamoure, North Dakota, and there’s only about 90 to do now before the end of the month.

That’s only part of the problem though. For the month of August having made an initial run-through of the photos, there are 2091 of those that survived the first run-through so bearing in mind that many of them will produce two or even more images, we are looking at probably 2500 photos that will be done. And about 20 videos too.

There was the Welsh lesson this morning too. Having completed my day’s supply of photos I did some preparation for my course and then armed with a mug of hot chocolate and a slice of my sourdough fruit bread, I went for my lesson.

In contrast to last week it went rather better although it’s sad that I have forgotten more than I seem to be remembering right now.

For the rest of the day I haven’t stopped for a meal as I started a project that is taking more time than ever I anticipated that it would and I can see the computer being left on all the time while I’m away in Leuven. I have a couple of computer drives that failed a while ago and as regular readers of this rubbish will recall I’ve been trying to get them to fire up.

A few weeks ago I managed to make one of them work and so this afternoon I started to access the sectors manually. It’s probably 20 years since I’ve done anything like this and while computers have speeded up dramatically in that time, using pseudo-DOS hasn’t and hard drives are measured in Terabytes these days not Megabytes.

Having started at about 14:30 this afternoon and it’s now 21:50 and it’s done 2.5%. I thought that it would be a slow, laborious process but not quite as slow as this. And that’s not to say that I’ll be able to salvage anything. If any individual item of the data has spread over a defective sector then that will not be recoverable for a start.

While the computer was doing what it could do on its own I nipped out for my afternoon walk.

beach rue du nord plat gousset donville les bains Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAlthough there wasn’t all that much beach to be on right now because of the tide, it was proving to be quite popular this afternoon. The weather was really beautiful this afternoon with bright sunshine, bright blue sky and very few clouds in the sky.

There were plenty of people wandering around there on the paths too. Not much respect for social distancing and not as much respect for mask-wearing either. But I’m sure that you are fed up of me going on about all of this. It will become as obsessive as the pathetic parking that features on here when I’m having one of my moments.

Instead, I pushed off along the path down to the end by the lighthouse and across the lawn at the bottom.

police interaction rue du cap lihou Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd as I reached the end of the lawn by the car park I bounced into an enormous pile of excitement down there by the roundabout.

From this viewpoint I wasn’t able to understand exactly what was going on but there were a couple of police motorcyclists down there and they seem to have pulled over a motorcyclist and his female pillion passenger.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, while I’m not usually averse to going down and asking what is going on, there are moments when it is clearly inappropriate and this is one of them. I’m sure that they didn’t want me going down there intruding at a moment like this so I left them to it.

roofing college malraux place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallInstead, I concentrated on what else was going on all around me.

The most important thing that is happening right now is the reroofing that’s going on down at the College Malraux. As you can see, they seem to be making some reasonable progress since the last time that I had a good moan about it and they now have ripped off yet another bay on the roof.

They have almost finished putting the laths on there now too so it looks as if the fitting of the slates won’t be too far behind. It’ll be interesting to see where they will have reached when I come back from Leuven on Saturday afternoon, assuming that they let me out of Castle Anthrax.

zodiac baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallA little earlier on I mentioned that there was all kinds of activity going on out at sea this afternoon and all types of water craft out there at sea this afternoon.

From my vantage point at the end of the headland I could see this zodiac roaring away into the bay down below. There didn’t seem to be any fishing rods on display but that isn’t to say that they are or aren’t fishermen. But the lifejacket that the passenger was wearing looked to be rather more substantial than you might expect for someone who would have to wield a fishing rod around.

Anyway they soon cleared off round the corner and out of sight towards the port so whatever it is that they were doing, they seems to have finished it and the tide has still a good while to go before the harbour is inaccessible.

While I was admiring the zodiac out in the bay I was overflown by a light aircraft. We’re having some aerial activity to day too.

f-bukk Wassmer WA54 Atlantic pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThis aeroplane is F-BUKK, which tells me that it’s a Wassmer WA54 Atlantic, a design of aeroplane that dates from as far back as 1966. They have a special place in aviation history as they are the first aeroplanes built of composite materials.

They are actually probably the only type of true passenger aeroplanes that we have seen flying out of Granville airport as they have seats for three passengers as well as the pilot.

This one is a WA54 rather that a WA 50-something else because it has the larger 180hp Lycoming “O-360-A1LD” engine rather than the 150 hp Lycoming “O-320-E2A” engine. 55 of this model were built.

She had taken off from Granville and gone for a good flight down the Brittany coast almost as far as lannion where she turned round and came back to Granville again.

spirit of conrad hermes 1 lys noir freddy land aztec lady chantier navale port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallDown at the chantier navale there was a surprise waiting for me.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that yesterday we saw the mobile boat lift hovering away over Hermes 1 and I speculated that it had come to load up the trawler and drop it back into the water at the following high tide.

Anyway, I don’t know what must have happened but Hermes 1 is still there and the mobile boat lift is back in its parking place. All that I can think of is that they needed to reposition her chocks so that she would sit in a different position so that they could work on another part of her hull.

unloading lorry port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere were things going on in the inner harbour this afternoon too. A large lorry seemed to be unloading its charge down by the loading bay.

Presumably this means that we are going to be having a visit from one or other or maybe even both of the two Jersey freighters in the course of the next couple of days.

From there I headed back to home and my hot mug of coffee and to see how my manual analysis of the disk was doing. And, as I said, it was very, very slowly. This is going to be a very long job.

While it was doing bits and pieces that I could leave it alone to do, I did a little more of the arrears of my trip to Central Europe and I’m now IN A HOTEL IN FÛRTH in Central Germany.

After the guitar practice I carried on with the disk analysis and then I wrote out my notes for the day. And now I’m off to bed. I have an early start tomorrow as I’m off to Castle Anthrax and there’s a lot to do before I go.

Monday 22nd March 2021 – I WAS RIGHT …

cabanon de guet tourists pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall… about all of the tourists having arrived here in Granville. The place was crawling with them this afternoon.

There was this couple sitting on the bench at the end of the headland by the watchman’s old cabin and they were just any one of any number of them that I could have photographed today, all lying around disporting themselves in the sun.

It beats me, it really does, what goes through the heads of some people in situations like this. What don’t they understand about a pandemic? How many more people have to die before they get the message?

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I’m one of the last people to advocate the presence of soldiers on the streets but in a situation like this I would have the military out at each boundary checking people’s right to travel. The military might not be good for much, but this is the kind of thing that’s important.

This morning I was out of bed just after the first alarm and after the medication I made a start on the radio programme. I was right that I wouldn’t finish it by 11:15 but starting from scratch as I did and finishing by 12:15, that was pretty good going and I was happy with that, especially as I had my usual break for hot chocolate and sourdough fruit bread.

And once it was finished and I’d heard it, I crashed out on the armchair in the office and as a result I was late for my lunch yet again.

This afternoon I Had a listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night. I was in Crewe last night and going to meet Esi. I’d already met her a couple of times around here and there and this time I walked up Earle Street and turned round the corner into Market Street and had the sun full in my eyes so I couldn’t see a thing. There was someone I knew standing on the left so I said “hi” to her but I couldn’t see who the other people were with her. It wasn’t until I’d gone past that I thought that the possibility might be that one of them was TOTGA. As I walked into the Square I heard someone shout my name. It was a boy’s voice, sounded like one of my classmates from school. I turned round but couldn’t see anything. There were some people loading a lorry and trailer with all kinds of mannequins to put into a new shop that was opening next to where the old cinema used to be. I carried on walking past the Bus Station and came to some waste land. I walked all over this waste land round the back of the bus station and the back end of the houses at the top end of Victoria Street but suddenly realised that I was miles away from where I was going to meet Esi so I set off to walk back. I remember at one point having a conversation but I only got 3 or 4 words out before I realised that I was too tired to say the rest.

Having done that I made another start on the photos from July 2019 and made good progress. I’m now down the james River somewhere near the border between North Dakota and South Dakota. There’s only about another 170 to do before they are all completed for the month of July 2019. Only 3 months or so to go after that. The big question is “will I finish all of this, or will all of this finish me?”.

There was the usual pause to go out for my walk this afternoon.

beach rue du nord plat gousset donville les bains Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhile I’d been working away the sun had been streaming in through the window so I was hoping that the day would be better than yesterday, and I wasn’t to be disappointed.

There was some mist about as you can see in the photo and there was plenty of cloud around too but at least it was an awful lot lighter than it was yesterday. It was cold but not all that windy and that’s the first time for ages that I haven’t been blown away.

No-one down on the beach wandering around, so it seemed but there were plenty of other people up here on the path on top of the cliffs and I had to thread my way through the crowds on the path and reclining on the lawn by the lighthouse.

gorse bushes pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallDown at the headland there wasn’t anything going on except for the tourists of course but the vegetation was looking quite good today.

The trees are starting to sprout their leaves right now and the gorse bushes are in full bloom giving us a lovely carpet of yellow flowers down there by the bottom footpath and on the cliffs lower down.

But there was nothing going on out at sea and the Brittany coast wasn’t all that clear so I pushed on along the path and across the road where I was nearly flattened by someone in a minibus – something that doubtless filled you all with a great deal of dismay.

hermes 1 ready to be put back into water chantier navale port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere was all kinds of excitement going on at the chantier navale this afternoon as you can see. It looks as if we are about to have another change of occupant in there.

The portable boat lift has moved from its parking place and is now hovering about over the trawler Hermes 1. In the absence of any other indication, it looks as if she is preparing to be put back into the water at the next high tide. I waited there for a good few minutes to see if anything was going to develop but nothing seemed to be moving and they weren’t in any rush to do anything.

The other boats are still there – Spirit of Conrad, Lys Noir, Freddy Land and, out of shot, Aztec Lady. But things are starting to become interesting down there right now.

joly france fishing boat ferry port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallSomething else that’s been going on right now is the parking of fishing boats by the Fish Processing Plant and letting them go aground when the tide was out.

The tide wasn’t out far enough today to see whether there would be any there today, but one thing that I noticed is that there now is a fishing boat that seems to be tied up over by the ferry port next to Joly France. Why this is happening is beyond my comprehension but the cynic in me suggests that they must have increased the mooring charged in the inner harbour.

With nothing else going on down there I headed for home and my mug of hot coffee, and continued with the photos until it was guitar time, although a little crash-out yet again didn’t help matters very much.

Tea tonight was a lentil and tofu pie with vegetables followed by apple pie and ice cream. I’m trying to empty the freezer a little as I’m running out of room in there.

Welsh tomorrow so I’m off to bed early. I need to be on form. And then it’s printing out papers and packing ready for the road on Wednesday.

Saturday 20th March 2021 – I’VE HAD SOMETHING …

… of an aviation day today. There was a whole host of activity in the air this afternoon.

Boeing 777-328(ER) F-GSQL english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallIt seems that despite everything the long-haul transatlantic flights are back again and there were quite a few in the air over here. While I was out on my afternoon walk this one flew by over the English Channel at 18,000 feet slowly gaining height.

This is Air France flight AF54 flying from Paris Charles de Gaulle to Washington DC. The aeroplane is a Boeing 777-328(ER) registration F-GSQL. She’s quite an elderly machine by modern standards, having first flown in January 2006.

And her claim to fame is that she has two engines that were manufactured by my former employers, General Electric, although I don’t claim to have anything to do with them.

vans rv-4 f-paur point du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd if that isn’t enough to be going on with, there was plenty more out there too.

This delightful multicoloured aeroplane is a Vans RV-4 registration number F-PAUR. These are kit-built aeroplanes supplied with Lycoming engines and you assemble them yourself. This one was assembled by someone called Joël Benete and took to the air on 9th March 1993, just one of about 1500 assembled since 1979.

She flew from Granville in a south-south-easterly direction and seems at this moment to be somewhere in the foothills of the Alps, not having moved for a couple of hours although there’s no airport around where she is.

When my alarm went off this morning I flew pretty quickly too, out of bed as the first alarm was still ringing. I have plenty to do today.

Not going to the shops though. I’m off to Leuven early Wednesday morning and so I’ll be eating what’s lying around here until I go. I have a hard enough time keeping food fresh here when I’m here to eat it.

I had the medication and then came back to have a listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night.

There was something about a group of British soldiers who had been imprisoned and brutalised, I’m not sure what they were doing or what had been done to them but this involved going on a trip to northern Scotland so we were going to fit in a visit to an ex-friend of mine on our way up. This involved driving all the way over the Pennines to the far north and turning right at Richmond and all that way north. A question of a shopping trip came up while we were away. Someone said that the south of France was the place to go so after we had dealt with this problem to the north we would head to the south od France. I thought to myself “this is a long way to be going in a day from here to the north and then down to the south of France” but I wasn’t too keen. I thought that it would have been better to have gone to the south of France first but I didn’t say anything. I thought to myself that I didn’t really want to do this and the fact that we were running so late would make it impossible anyway so I’ll just do it like they are telling me to do”. The question of a car came up. We decided that it would have to have 4 seats and 4 doors. Someone suggested “if the 2 of you are going why don’t you tale so-and-so’s mother?” I thought “she’s really going to enjoy this long trip sitting for hours in a car while we dash from the far north of England to the south of France but never mind, we’ll do it if that’s what hey want”.

Later on I was with another ex-friend of mine in Stoke on Trent and he was telling me about how he had no money and how even his wife’s sister had stopped paying some of his bills and so on. He said that I could stay there but I have to fend for myself because they can’t provide any food. I said “that’s not a problem”. For lunch I just had some dry bread off a baguette and I’d go out and buy some bread in the afternoon because it was pouring down now and I wasn’t really going anywhere. Later on in the afternoon I went outside for a walk and he and his wife came outside and said “come on, we’re ready”. There were cars parked everywhere, it was a new house that they had but there were cars parked all over the place. We had to manoeuvre one around and drive it from off the kerb inside where another one had been parked and onto the street. Just then a yellow van went past. He was obviously afraid that my friend was going to hit him so he shouted out a pile of abuse. We took no notice and parked this car up. Then the 3 of us walked into town. One of the girls, I can’t remember who she was but she was a small woman, she said that she had to go and fetch something. I said “I’ll come with you if you like” so she replied “OK”. She, someone else and I went into the lift and went downstairs. It was like a street market with all street market vendors selling their stuff. They had cameras marked “Ferrari”, all this kind of thing, in a kind of camouflage design. Trying to drag the kids out of there would have been really difficult. We were going to the theatre apparently and we needed badges to get in but this girl and I, we didn’t have them. She was going on about how all of the others were going to get into the theatre and we’ll end up having to pay again because we don’t have our badges. There had been some talk earlier about badges and I had a badge, a Boy Scouts badge. My friend and his wife were surprised because they knew that I had qualified but they didn’t know that I’d had it yet. I showed them but it was only very small. Another thing that he and I had been discussing was retirement, how we didn’t miss our old job. I said “I still think about it all the time, the horrible people which whom we worked”. He replied that he could do better than that and drew back the curtains. From his living room window you could see the building where we had worked, right across the valley.

What was so disappointing about this was that having had him and his wife accompanying me on a nocturnal ramble, where was Zero who has accompanied me on many a nocturnal ramble over the years – probably my most regular companion even if she hasn’t featured as much in these voyages as she did at one time?

That’s the kind of thing that fills me with dismay.

After all of that I sat down and started on the photos from Greenland. And after a Herculean effort this morning, right the way up to lunchtime, I’m now in a hotel in Toronto. Yes, I’ve finished all of the Greenland photos, all …gulp … 2330 of them.

That was a marathon session and no mistake

All that remains now is for me to finish off the final week when I was in North Dakota and then I can attack the 5000-odd from August 2019. That’s going to be something of a labour of love and no mistake.

After lunch I went out for my afternoon walk. And there was a reason for being out there earier than usual, which you will find out if you read on.

beach rue du nord plat gousset donville les bains Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut retournons à nos moutons as they say around here, you’ve already seen the sky in those earlier aeroplane photos so you know the kind of day that we are having right now.

Despite the fact that it’s fairly cold and there’s something of a wind outside, we are having the best day of the year so far, at least, as far as sunshine goes. It’s gorgeous out here and it really is a surprise that there didn’t seem to be too many people about right now.

The beach is practically empty and that’s unusual in this kind of weather because even though there’s not much beach to be on, it’s a weekend and we are expecting a mass of Parisian second-home owners selfishly fleeing the new curfew in Paris and bringing the virus with them to infect all of us.

joly france english channel ile de chausey Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut that’s probably where all of the tourists and second-home owners are at the moment and why they aren’t on the beach.

While I was looking out to sea I noticed something moving way out in the English Channel on its way to the Ile de Chausey so I took a photo with the aim of cropping and enlarging it when I returned home.

Sure enough, when I did that later I could see that it’s one of the Joly France ferries that plies between the port here and the Ile de Chausey. They’ve been quite quiet of late and haven’t seemed to be doing much work, but the Parisians fleeing the lockdown has probably caused a rise in demand for the service.

There are plenty of holiday homes on the island and those who can afford to rent one will have done so to escape the effects of the virus and the lockdown.

Druine D-5 f-pvqn pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere have already been a few photos of aeroplanes that i’ve posted so far this afternoon, and I haven’t finished yet.

This aeroplane is F-PVQN and that tells me that she’s a Druine D-5. The rather elderly design tells us that she’s something special, and it turns out that it’s yet another kit-built aeroplane with a design from the 1950s. I don’t know how old she is but she’s construction number 09 and I’ve seen photos of her at the Paris Air Show in 1977 so she’s getting on a bit.

She hasn’t filed a flight plan so I can’t say where she’s going, and she doesn’t seem to have a radio beacon as she didn’t show up on my flight radar.

naabsa fishing boats fish processing plant port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallJust recently we’ve been seeing the odd fishing boat or two left high and dry by the tide over at the Fish processing Plant.

There was one there yesterday but they seem to have multiplied overnight, naughty little beasts, because there are three of them there this afternoon and I really have no idea why.

After my little walk around the headland it was time to scurry back to my bolt-hole here and make myself a coffee, and then settle down in front of the computer because the football had an early kick-off this afternoon, and we were treated to Bala Town v Caernarfon.

Bala Town are quite an attractive team to watch and have plenty of skill but while Caernarfon have nothing like the same amount of skill, they are actually the only team that play in the Welsh Premier League that actually play like a team rather than a collection of 11 assorted players.

Today was no exception because while Bala have a couple of dangerous attackers in Chris Venables and Will Evans and had the lion’s share of the first half, Caernarfon’s centre-backs snuffed Venables and Evans right out of the game. At half-time Bala were 1-0 up and that was the result of a deflected shot that Tibbetts in the Caernarfon goal would otherwise have saved.

In the second half Caernarfon played with much more confidence going forward and equalised after 10 minutes or so. The game then swung either way until with about 15 minutes to go Mike Hayes broke through and fired low into the corner of Bala’s goal for the winner. How he must have enjoyed scoring a goal against the club that released him last summer.

So a surprise win for Caernarfon in what was a thoroughly enjoyable match played in what was a really good spirit. A fine example for the League

After that I did some more work on my Central Europe trip last summer and then went for tea. In an effort to deal with some of the backlog of food I made a quick potato and mushroom curry, followed by the last of the apple pie.

Now I’m off to bed because I’m pretty much exhausted after today and I still haven’t given the living room a second go. So i’m hoping that a decent sleep and a good lie-in will see me right. Although I have a suspicion that it will take much more than that to see me right.

Tuesday 20th October 2020 – AFTER ALL …

… of the exertions over the last few days I failed miserably this morning.

Never mind the third alarm – it was 07:20 when I left the bed – more than an hour of the day wasted.

And when I listened to the dictaphone I recoiled somewhat too. All of these notes to transcribe. I was running the taxis and there was Doreen, Nerina and mme running the taxis on Saturday night. A job came in to go somewhere way up north and I Do mean way up north. In the end they decided that I should go, and go on a motorbike and that some other driver should come in. I went on my motorbike all the way up to the far north of Scotland to drop off this package and came all the way back. By now it was starting to get light next morning. I’d arranged to pick up Percy Penguin up after work so I guessed that she would still be asleep in her shop. I tried to ring her but my mobile phone wouldn’t work so I just went on round there anyway and she let me in. By now she had transformed into an old black woman who was going to come home with me to the taxi office. She had a couple of big bags of shopping and it ended up with me having to carry them. I was pretty much weighed down. When I got home Doreen was still there. She said that she was glad that she sent me on the motorbike because they’d been really busy throughout the night and had a really good night working non-stop. I had a quick glance through the sheets and saw that there was some ROF work there. I thought “did we have a contract with ROF these days? We used to”. She said “oh no, that’s some tuition that Nerina and I have been doing. We’ve been teaching some people from there”. Later on I was walking home through the streets of Brussels. There was a motorbike shop. It was pretty late at night/early in the morning type of going home but this place was open so I went in. I had a little sit on a Honda 50, a play-around and it transformed itself into a big motorbike. We ended up a group of us talking about motorbikes. Someone prepared some kind of soup and someone drank it. But someone warned “no, no, don’t drink that soup” but she drank it and transformed into soe kind of evil persona. We had to be very careful about what we’d do. But then a couple there said to another woman “come on, we have to go down to the Isle of Thanet to do something”. So they took her away. When she came back she was about 12 feet tall and her upper part was like a metal rod with a metallic design like a hollow shield for a head and also quite evil. It turned out that almost every one of these people had been transformed into some kind of evil thing through a drink or through a soup. So I started throwing the soup on the floor and drinks on the floor to break the bottles so they wouldn’t have to drink it but these people were laughing saying “Oh God it’s far too late now. You’re all going to be absorbed”. It led to a bit of a chase around this place. There was something too about a cake in an oven. I was eating a cake, the type of fruit loaf bread that I make. Meantime I was putting something else in the oven. People were wondering about that and having a laugh but someone else said “Eric? Ohh yes he really does bake and his baking is really quite good” which shut a few people up. But this battle thing with these weird people carried on until in the end there was only me and I couldn’t find anyone else who was sane. It was going to be a really stressful kind of situation. It’s no wonder that I awoke in a feverish sweat yet again.

But there was much more to it but I can’t remember any more now. And after all of that it’s probably just as well.

It left little time for any revision of my Welsh and as a result the lesson was something of a disaster. And I wasn’t the only one either. We were given part of a sample test paper for our exam and we all made a right mess of it. Mind you, we went 1 hour 50 minutes before we stopped for a break and my head had long-since turned to jelly by then.

Mind you, that’s not a surprise. There’s something – and someone – on my mind today. And it brings back memories of three late night evenings in, of all places, on the deck of a ship in the High Arctic where I changed the habits of a lifetime.

As Kris Kristofferson once wrote, “I’ll give all my tomorrows for a single yesterday”. And I will too!

But enough of my being all maudlin now of all moments. I won’t get anywhere dwelling on the past like this.

At lunch I finished off the last of the bread and the last of the hummus so it looks as it it’s going to be another food-making day too tomorrow morning. One thing that has also finished a long while ago is the ginger and lemon drink. That’ll have to be something else on the list too.

This afternoon I’ve had an exciting task.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I bought a new computer in something of a hurry in North Dakota last August when the little travelling Acer gave up the ghost. It was a sale item from Walmart heavily reduced but it came with Walmart’s splash screen and everything else on it that annoyed me but which I didn’t have the time right them to fix.

As I went along, I patched it here and there but it still wasn’t satisfactory so being fed up and having nothing better to do I did a “system restore” to “factory settings” and that involved deleting everything off the hard drive and starting again to reinstall everything.

And when I say “reinstall”, I say that advisedly because after about 6 hours of work it’s done about 88% of the operating system, never mind anything else.

repairing roof rue st jean Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallIn the middle of all of this, while the computer was festering away, I went out for my afternoon walk.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that a few weeks ago in the Place du parvis Notre Dame we saw them set up a series of scaffolding in order to repair a roof on a house there. Today, they are attacking the side of the house that’s in the Rue St Jean.

And they aren’t using any scaffolding either apparently down the side of the house. All of the material seems to be being lifted up by the big machine there and that’s going to cause a few problems if something big comes down there.

Wednesday and Thursday we’ve been promised storm-force winds here (as seems to be usual these days). I don’t fancy being up there on a roof when they are lashing about. And I don’t fancy walking underneath where the guys are working either when there’s a wind blowing all of their stuff away.

peche a pied Plat Gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere were crowds of people wandering around today taking in the air and I ended up chatting to one of my neighbours at the viewpoint in the Rue du Nord.

After he had gone I had a look down onto the beach to see what was going on. The peche à pied is still in full swing as far as the tourists go. There were several more out there in amongst the rocks scavenging for what they could find.

As well as that, we had people milling around, walking their dogs, playing sports or even just taking in the air. After all, although the weather was cold and windy, it wasn’t unpleasant.

Marité Port de Granville Harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallThe crowd had thinned out by the time that I reached the Square Maurice Marland so I had a good run across to the other side to rack up a bonus run.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that yesterday the harbour was empty – of water and of boats. Today though we have the water back, and also the boats. Marité has returned and is moored in her little corner again.

So I carried on along the walls and as there was no-one in the street I ran on home again. I may as well clock up some extra metres on my way around when I can.

Back here I carried on with the laptop and then had a break when Rosemary rang me up. While I was in the Auvergne in July I had set “certain steps” in motion and, much to my surprise, they had actually come to fruition . That means some more outlay and I have to do it because it involves several other people.

Tea tonight was veggie balls with steamed veg and vegan cheese sauce – thoroughly delicious. And the other half of my apple turnover was even better. It’s the best one that I have ever made and I’m really impressed with that.

Trawler English Channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallMy walk this evening was something of a surprise.

Well, not my walk, but my run. I was feeling much more like it tonight, much looser, and I ran on past my mark on my first leg with some comparative ease. Down to the clifftop and there was a trawler way out to sea with its bright lights blazing. Too good an opportunity to miss even though it won’t come out well.

It’s probably 5 miles out to sea as well so all in ill it’s not bad at all seeing as it was the f1.8 50mm lens. I’ll settle for that.

Fishing Boats Unloading Port de Granville Harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallNo-one around at all, except for a couple of kids on the car park so I could do my third leg in peace.

At the viewpoint over the harbour where I stop to recover my breath, I could see all of the activity going on at the Fish Processing Plant. The fishing boats are starting to come back into harbour and there were already two of them down there unloading, with a couple more on the way.

One had carried on into the harbour but I missed her. Presumably she’s going to unload at the other side. But never mind. This one has come out OK so I’m not disappointed.

Chantier Navale Port de Granville Harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallIf I turn my head to the right I can also see into the Chantier Navale.

And here we have a change of occupant yet again. The new little boat that arrived a couple of days ago has now gone but we have been joined instead by a large yacht that bears a striking similarity at this angle to Spirit of Conrad, the boat on which we went down the coast a few months ago.

Of course in this light, it’s not possible to say with any certainty. I’ll have to wait until it’s light and have another look.

And so I ran on the rest of the way home, doing it in two legs as usual but even did an additional lap of honour round the building to push up the total even more.

Now that my notes are written and I’m off to bed. But before I do, just a quick “hi” to someone who made a dramatic reappearance this morning. I’ll be in touch as soon as I can organise myself, whenever that might be.

Friday 1st November 2019 – I FOUND …

… the fitbit after all that. On the passenger seat in Caliburn where I must have left it when I was fitting the battery yesterday.

And I’d got up nice and early this morning specially to look. Even managed to beat the third alarm – and by a country mile too – and that’s not something that happens too often these days.

It was a reasonably late night too – mainly due to listening to some good music on the computer. And there’s nothing wrong in that as long as I’m working – which I was. In fact I updated some more of the web pages.

And so it was a short night too – but still plenty of time to go off on a ramble or two.

I started off back in the UK last night. I was in Cornwall walking around a headland and it was something (I don’t know what) to do but it was Marc Bolan and camping and he’d written the final verse of his song “Elemental Child” (… which I had been listening to just before going to bed …). They were broadcasting it over the radio and getting everyone to join in so anyone who was walking past or walking in the area they went and asked them if they would join in. This girl – she joined in too and did all of the song and to play it on the guitar or banjo or something. She asked about the lyrics so we pointed to where the lyrics were and she was brilliant. She had a really good go at it, this girl did. It really was a shame that I awoke.
A little later on, we were on The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour again last night and it was time to go home. There were a couple of coaches come to pick us up. They had already been and we’d packed but then we had to go off on a lecture or something so the buses were put back and were to turn at at 12:00. This lecture finished at about 11:55 and it was all about book-keeping, this kind of thing, and the guy who was giving the lesson afterwards went to print off some stuff and I went to help him but he didn’t need me. he was talking to some other guy and the other guy was saying that in Accountancy they were still using BBC Micros but they no longer dominate anything so they don’t actually see anything of what they do. The other guy said that he learnt his Accountancy on a BBC Micro. I said that I did my Finance First Part on pen and paper – but no-one took the slightest bit of notice of me whatsoever which seems to be normal procedure these days on board that ship. Then I had to get to my cabin and it was 11:55 and there was already a bus on board and people getting on so I had to fly throught the crowds and the ship like lightning to my cabin. Luckily I had packed before hand but there were still a few things out that needed putting away. I reached my cabin which was right at the back of my ship and the porthole was open so I could see the second coach pulling up and feel a nice cool breeze blowing through the porthole. The first thing I did was to grab a drink – some of my orange Vitamin B12 drink. There wasn’t much left but I took a swig of it and thought “Gid this is warm, this drink but it will do me until I get to wherever it is that I’m going and then I can think again”. At that moment the alarm went off.

10 minutes later I was up and about and tackling the notes from the night while I was waiting for the medication to work so that I could have breakfast.

Once it started to become light I went outside with the purpose of retracing my steps from my afternoon walk to see if the fitbit was anywhere about. But as I said, I didn’t get any farther than Caliburn.

Back in the apartment I attacked the 20-minute dictaphone entry from 30th July. And miles of it there was too, starting from when I left the motel in Lamoure all the way across North and South Dakota.

By now it was midday so I headed of for my morning walk. Down to the Super U for some garlic and a lettuce. The lettuce is exhausted and I have no garlic at all and I need to deal with that issue. And as I left the apartment and headed off down the street we were hit with a torrential rainstorm. Luckily I went in my rain jacket and so I managed to keep something-like dry. But there were plenty of others who weren’t so fortunate.

For lunch I had half of the carrot soup (which wasn’t so bad after all) and then attacked my little project. What I did the other day, I’ve undone it and started again because I could do better than that. And it’s all turning out rather nicely, although doing it in French is rather challenging.

crowds on beach peche a pied plat gousset granville manche normandy franceThere was an interruption in my activities when I went out for my afternoon walk. And I was not alone for even though the weather was miserable this afternoon there were still plenty of people on the beach.

It’s that time of year when we’e having the highest tidal range – the grand marée – and the lower beaches are uncovered.

These areas are beyond the limits that are leased out as commercial fisheries so anyone can go out there for the peche à pied – fishing on foot – to scavenge what molluscs they can.

rainbow arc en ciel granville manche normandy franceAnd I was right about the miserable weather too. Just look at the storm clouds.

But all of a sudden there was a hint of sun and we had the most magnificent rainbow. I managed to take a really good shot of it too.

It seems to be ending down in the town somewhere and I was tempted to back to my apartment to search for a spade.

There was an interruption after that. I received a text message “are you in?” to which I replied in the affirmative.

A few minutes later Terry and Liz turned up, with Darren, kate and the two kids. It was pouring with rain again so we went for a drink and a good chat. When the rain stopped (which it did for half an hour) we went for a good walk all the way around the walls and the headland and then they went home. I told Robyn to take good care of Strawberry Moose and she gave me a hug.

For tea I had two more taco rolls with the rest of the stuffing from the other night. Not enough though so I added a small tin of lentils so there was too much. No good for me, seeing as I’m supposed to be cutting down.

Football tonight on the internet. Not been too many of those this season. Connah’s Quay Nomads v TNS in the pouring rain in the Welsh Premier League.

In the first half, the nomads were dreadful and I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times they made it into the TNS half. Meanwhile TNS were rampaging upfield at will and could have had a hatful. As it happens, one goal disallowed for offside and a good save from Lewis Brass the Nomads keeper was all that they had to show for it.

Connahs Quay made three substitutions early in the second half and after that we had much more of a match, with the Nomads taking the game much more to TNS.

And so it goes without saying that TNS finally scored with a breakaway goal after all of that.

We then had bizarre incident where the referee gave a penalty to TNS for a handball, spotted the ball, and just as Greg Draper was about to run up to take the kick, he changed his mind and gave a dropped ball which Brass smothered.

From that, the Nomads raced upfield and with Insall (who should have been on from the start) having a shot saved, Michael Wilde running in fastened onto the rebound and scored – his first shot on goal in the whole game.

So 1-1 it finished, and it leaves me shaking my head. I’ve seen many more much batter games than this one, and I’m totally bewildered by that weird first half.

So not having done too much I’m going to bed and I’ll start again tomorrow. I must get myself going.

rainbow arc en ciel granville manche normandy france
rainbow arc en ciel granville manche normandy france

Tuesday 30th July 2019 – THIS PLACE …

… would be a really nice place to stay if I could afford it. But it’s the first motel that I’ve seen in 120 miles and it only had one room left so I didn’t want to take any chances.

Last night was a bad night and this morning I felt like death. I really could have stayed there a second night too but at that rate I’m never going to accomplish anything.

With last night’s protein broth not doing me any good at all (the remainder of the packet went down the sink this morning), I tried the porridge but half of that went into the bin. And as for my grape juice, well, I shan’t bore you with the gory details about that. But that was disappointing.

Eventually I managed to drag myself outside and into the car and staggered off to finish the rest of the James River trail. It didn’t take long and then I was back on my route again.

The first half was boringly flat as you might expect but things gradually started to warm up. I can particularly remember my elation when I saw a proper hill.

The lady Who Lives In The Satnav took me down some interesting roads and through some interesting towns, including one called Ventura which, had it not been for the cars in the backyards, would have been placed quite properly back in the 1880s

As the day drew on I started to hit the hills and that was comforting. A stop for fuel and a chat with the lady who ran the place, and then off again.

At about 16:00 I hit the big city of Pierre where I crossed the Missouri (the photo that I took was rubbish because there was nowhere to get for a good view) and entered Mountain Time, losing an hour.

But while I was stopped trying to find a good photo spec, I was passed by almost every police car in South Dakota (I seem to have crossed into South Dakota somehow without noticing it) with blue and red lights flashing, just like in some of these “bad river” films. They shot off up one road, came back down and shot off up another one. It made me realise that I’m not all that far from Keystone.

Now I’m really in the mountains. The foothills of the Black Hills of Dakota, following the trail (quite literally) of the old Deadwood Stage. It’s well-signposted with quite a few things to see from the 180s and 1890s.

Eventually I arrived at the township of Philip. A place which has two claims to fame, according to the motel owner. One is that the coldest temperature in South Dakota in modern times has been recorded here, and the second is that the warmest ditto.

It’s a one-horse town of course but with a huge cattle market, and smells like it too. I’m glad that it isn’t me, but I took a shower just the same to be sure.

The motel owner is very friendly and spent quite a while chatting to me which was nice, and later I went for a walk around the town – but that didn’t take long.

But now I’m exhausted. I had a huge wave of fatigue during the afternoon that I managed to fight off (just about) until I found my second wind. So even though it’s only 20:00 I’m off to bed on my rather springy mattress.

See you in the morning.

Monday 29th July 2019 – JUST IN CASE …

… you were wondering what has been happening just recently, I didn’t die (although I just smell like I did) I’ve had yet another in a long series of equipment failures.

Yesterday morning it was the turn of the portable ACER laptop that has been my constant companion for 5 years to bite the dust. I mentioned that it seemed to be taking an age to load up. Well the truth of it was that it just never loaded up at all.

But it’s no big deal because it was rubbish when I bought it and it’s gone from bad to worse over the years, creaking and groaning its way along hundreds of voyages into different parts of the world.

The only surprise is that it’s kept going as long as it has.

All that has been lost is about 10 days worth of work and that wouldn’t have been lost had I had the space to back it up so it’s no big deal. And anyway I’m not yet convinced that it’s gone for good … “and it wasn’t either – it was all later reovered, every last bit and byte of it” – ed.

And there is a bright side to it, more of which anon

So having gone off to bed depressingly early last night, I was awake on several occasions right up to the alarm. I had the medication and then some porridge, followed by another sleep.

For a change I awoke in time to pack everything up and hit the road, heading for the Walmart across the State Line in North Dakota.

First though I found a pawn shop so I stuck my head in to see what they might have, but one look at the customers and the staff behind the counter made me change my mind.

At Walmart in Grand Forks they had a laptop that might have done the trick but the staff there was so unhelpful that when they eventually told me what I wanted to know and they they didn’t have one in stock anyway, in the traditions of the best News of the Screws reporter, I made my excuses and left.

Down the flat featureless highway to Fargo, the biggest city in North Dakota. The land here is flat as a pancake for miles around with no feature to break up the relief. Luckily it’s not as monotonous as it sounds with a few trees here and there and different crops, and piles of railway lines exploiting the various produce of the region.

My eye did once rest on a hill, but closer inspection revealed it to be Fargo’s waste disposal facility

At Fargo I put some fuel in and asked the girl at the counter if she could direct me to Walmart. There are a couple here and I’m grateful that she sent me to the one that she did for I struck gold.

After looking for a while at the various items on display my eye fell (don’t ask me why) on q Lenovo Ideapad 330, 1TB hard drive, 4GB RAM and an Intel Core 13 processor, reduced from $349 to $279. Cheap as chips.

I drew the assistant’s attention to it and she said that it was out of stock. And so I asked if she would do a deal on the display model.

It turns out that the box was damaged, all of the accessories except the power cable were missing, and no-one in the shop could work out how to delete the Walmart splash-screen advertising screen-saver.

So after very much debate and discussion, I walked out of Walmart with it under my arm for a mere … wait for it … $125:00. I really can’t believe my luck. It makes losing 10 days work quite palatable.

Leaving Fargo, I went west, like my old computer. Another flat featureless road heading in a straight line, through one of the longest road repair section I have ever seen (we had to wait hours).

Eventually we started to hit the hills. I found Standing Rock, an old native American spiritual site which seems to be a menhir stuck into the ground, and then a scenic byway took me down the valley of the River James, the world’s longest non-navigable river, so they say.

It’s a huge historical site dating back to the early settlers of the 1880, old abandoned farms of the period and everything, and piles of old abandoned cars everywhere.

Eventually, finding an old nuclear rocket and a stern-wheel paddle steamer at the side of the road in Lamoure, I noticed a motel at the side of them. It’s rather early for me but here in the sticks a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush especially as there was a free room.

It’s seen better days, but then again so have I. And I’ve paid much more money to stay in far worse places than this.

In Walmart I found some vegan protein-broth so I heated some up to eat with bread. But although I’m feeling better, my stomach wasn’t quite up to this.

So another early night. I hope that I shall feel better in the morning.

Saturday 27th July 2019 – THAT WAS HORRIBLE!

Probably the worst day that I have had in quite some considerable time.

Remember me talking about that awful meal that I had last night? Well, it well-and-truly wreaked its revenge on me and has been doing so all day.

The surprising thing is that I managed to do as much as I did and drive as far as I did without once soiling my armour, thanks to a judicious series of pit-stops at appropriate moments.

In fact, it was identical in every respect to my stay in Verdun two and a half years ago. But knowing now what to expect, I rode it out and refused to worry myself about it.

To spare your blushes, I shan’t go into any gory details. After all, you are probably eating your lunch right now. I’ll just say that I was awake at about 05:45, 15 minutes or so before the alarm, and I was first taken by surprise about 10 minutes later.

And so the story went on. Trying to pack my suitcase while being interrupted by a dash to the bathroom or to the waste-paper bin which I had conveniently stuffed with tissues.

Eventually I felt up to leaving and took the shuttle bus to the airport to pick up my car – a lime green Kia Soul (or Key Asshole as they are known around here).

It took an age to fathom out how it locked and unlocked and I couldn’t figure out the boot at all so everything went in via the side door.

First stop was a Walmart to buy water and drink and so on, and for a pit-stop. I couldn’t find any caffeine-based energy drinks but there were plenty of vitamin drinks and some grapefruit-flavoured sparking water, as well as 3 litres of plain water. The temperature was soaring and this was 11:00. Heaven alone knows what it’s going to be like later on in the afternoon. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky.

Bulk Barn across the way failed to come up with my mint sweets, so I pushed on to look for the sites that related to my grandmother, Ivy Cooper.

The church where she had married in July 1918 was now a hole in the ground but I had more luck with the house where she lived – or where her parents-in-law lived.

That’s in Lewis Street, next to Clarke Street for the benefit of historians here, and is still standing – a narrow detached house of the period that extends a long way back with what looks like a second house built on behind. It’s in rather poor condition these days but it must have been magnificent 100 years ago.

Elmwood cemetery where her first husband is buried – finding it was one thing and finding the entrance was quite another – I must have done a lap all the way around Winnipeg to reach it. The Red River running right near the back of it didn’t help much.

I had a rough idea where his grave is, but the office was closed and I wasn’t up to walking very far, so I’ll have to come back again when hopefully I’ll be feeling better.

The Allen Theatre where she performed, even after the death of her husband which shows that she was still visiting the town at least, is still there. It’s now the Winnipeg Met. Parking was difficult there so I didn’t stop. I’ll have to come back here too.

So with that done, I headed south on my travels.But I hadn’t gone far before a “medical emergency” forced me to pull up at the side of the road. And then a pit stop.

Regular pit-stops were the order of the day and luckily my route south was lined with appropriate places. Even those in the the border post where I crossed into the Great Satan received a visit from me

On the subject of border crossings, this one here was probably one of the most pleasant that I’ve ever had in crossing into the USA and if they were all like that it would make my life so much easier.

There were plenty of things that I would have liked to have stopped and photographed on my way here but I was in no condition to go running around like that. In the end I crashed out for half an hour (in easy reach of a washroom) and that didn’t make me feel any easier at all.

Eventually I found my motel. The Plaza Inn in East Grand Forks, across the river from North Dakota in Minnesota. Two more states crossed off my list.

It’s blindingly hot so I was glad to call it a day.

The motel itself is cheap and tatty, but then so am I. It’s clean and comfortable which is more than I am and despite it being only 18:00 I’m crashing out.

I’m not well and I know it. But I’ve been here before and I know that it will improve at some point so I’ll have to grin and bear it. The toilet works and there’s a waste bin by the bed and that’s all that I’m interested in for now.