Tag Archives: OUSA

Monday 20th January 2020 – IT LOOKS AS IF …

carnaval 2020 rue paul poirier couraye granville manche normandy france eric hall… they are getting ready for Carnaval right now.

The one big event of the year here in Granville is the annual Carnaval. We’ve seen THIS TAKE PLACE BEFORE in previous years and this year it’s the period 21-26 February.

And so on my way out up town I noticed that while they were taking down the Christmas lights, they were also putting up the bunting and the location points for this year’s Carnaval in the rue Paul Poirier and the rue Couraye.

This year is passing by quicker than anyone thinks.

Last night, I had a frantic search around for my telephone before going to bed. I couldn’t find it at all and I needed it for the alarm. Eventually, after phoning myself up, I managed to locate it and I could go to bed in peace of mind.

Not that I needed it though. I was wide awake at 05:30 for some reason that I haven’t quite understood, and up and medicating when the alarm went off.

With just a brief pause for breakfast, I bashed on with my editing of the interview that I had had with US Granville’s Chief Coach and I finished it just about. 8:30 of question and answer there was, and it’s not too bad.

There was also time to look at the dictaphone and I had indeed been off on a voyage here and there. There was an OUSA meeting taking place in the USA so off I went. I was in this town looking at all of the food shops and saying to myself “God how I love being in the USA with all of this food on offer here, all of these bakeries and all of these things even though I can’t eat any of it”. The a girl came out – a young girl with glasses and she had a limp, something like that as if she had had polio and I recognised her. She was a student at the Open University … “no she wasn’t” – ed. We ended up having quite a chat and she was saying how she wished she could go to this Conference and so on and for some unknown reason I couldn’t get out of my head the phrase “give me your e-mail address and I’ll add you onto my mailing list”. I could have sent her loads of stuff and could have developed some kind of relationship with her, I suppose.
A little later on there was a group of us in a house and amongst these people was, of all people, someone who has made a dramatic appearance in my life just now … “it didn’t take her long to come a-voyaging with you, did it?” – ed … my brother and a few other people. It was my house in Gainsborough Road and the back part of the back garden was overgrown in weeds and we ended up having a game of cricket. I was the first to go into bat for my team which was my family and the aforementioned person was going along to bowl for her side. I took guard at the entrance to my house and she decided to bowl up the hill Clifton Avenue. She bowled an over that went nowhere near my bat so I couldn’t hit it and score any runs. She went off to get someone else to take over and I was thinking that I hadn’t even asked my family if they wanted to play yet. They would probably tell me to clear off. Anyway that’s how that ended.

Once I’d done that I had a shower and then headed off for my radio meeting, saying “hello” to the builder guy with the cement conveyor as I passed.

It seems that having done the radio programme for MY VERSAILLES TRIP totally alone and unaided from start to finish, I’ve trampled upon an ego here and there because not a single person said anything about it at all – despite the fact that it’s the second most-listened-to podcast that we’ve ever broadcast.

But they can’t be too dismissive because they told me that my interview with Johan Gallon will be broadcast TOMORROW (TUESDAY) AT 17:00 CET (that’s 16:00 UK time, 11:00 Toronto time).

Having worked my feet into the door now, I’ve suggested one or two more things that have been accepted, and there are a couple more that I have simmering away on the back burner.

Bhere was a huge dispute at the meeting about someone’s plan. The idea is to present the “Top 10 of the decade” films, music, TV programme, books etc. The plan is to ask the Literary correspondent, Music correspondent etc to suggest their choices.

A dissenter or two however suggested that everyone on the committee put forward their Top 10 and we have a poll.

No-one was interested in my opinion so I went for a ride on the porcelain horse while they fought it out. But in my humble … “quite!” – ed … opinion they are all wrong. People don’t listen to the radio to hear other people, they listen to hear themselves.

Had it been me organising this, I would have announced that I would be at a Saturday market on one weekend (say the 1st in the month) – then a Brocante the next 1st weekend of the month, a football match at another. anywhere where there is a crowd of people, and then interviewed members of the public to ask them.

Now that’s good radio. You never know what responses you are going to receive and some of them will be absolute gems as my Versailles programme proved. But no-one listens to an idiot, do they?

On the way back I stopped off at LIDL for the shopping where I forgot the bananas and something else that I can’t now remember what it was.

saviem sm6 rue des juifs granville manche normandy france eric hallAnd picking up my dejeunette at la Mie Caline, I came home. Not straight home though because I was sidetracked.

This vehicle is telling us that it’s a Saviem, and on the front wing is a badge telling us that it’s a Saviem SM6. Now as far as I’m aware (and I may be wrong) Saviem was absorbed by Renault and the marque was dropped some time round about the late 80s, and this vehicle is clearly later than that.

Furthermore, the SM6 was a medium-range lorry of about 7.5 tonnes and this certainly isn’t. And so I’ve no idea at all about this.

Having spent so long at this meeting, it was lunchtime already so I grabbed my butties while the grabbing was good.

After lunch, it was time to turn my attention to the radio projects. I’d offered a “live concert spot” to someone but he never came back to me so I resurrected a concert that I’d broadcast in the past.

That took much longer than intended too because you’ve no idea how difficult it is to write 3:07 of text when you only have the sketchiest of information. But at least it’s a foot in the door because I wrote to tell the agents of the artist that the concert was being broadcast and I invited them to send me some more stuff from some more of their artists for broadcast if they like.

Next month’s concert, if this guy still hasn’t got back to me, will involve some German input and I have a cunning plan.

Another reason for the delay was that I was using the new ZOOM H1 dictaphone that I bought. It took an age to configure it and an even greater age to find a memory card that would work in it (one out of five) and an even greater greater age to get it to work, but when I finally did, the quality is miles better than anything that has gone before.

As a result, I’m really impressed with this – almost as impressed as I was with my galvanised steel dustbin.

trawler english channel ile de chausey 	granville manche normandy france eric hallThere was the usual break for my afternoon walk. The high winds are back again and so there weren’t all that many people out there.

There was plenty of activity out there on the ocean waves though. The tide is quite high but nevertheless there were still several trawlers heading towards the harbour.

This one here for example, just sailing … “dieseling” – ed … in past the Ile de Chausey.

trawler english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallThere was another whitish blob right out there in the distance somewhere in the direction of the Channel islands.

Thinking that it might be Thora or Normandy Trader on its way into the harbour, I took a photo of it with the intention of blowing it up, because, despite modern anti-terrorist legislation, I can still do things like that.

But it’s actually another trawler heading into the harbour to unload its catch.

trawler baie de mont st michel entrance light port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallAnd that’s not all either.

There’s another one that’s even closer to home0 It’s rounded the Pointe du Roc and it’s now in the Baie de Mont St Michel on its way into port. Right now it’s just passing by the marker light that indicates the entrance to the port.

Yes, it’s all go out there this afternoon with these trawlers coming home.

customs inspection boat port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallBut there’s clearly been some excitement today somewhere because we have rather an unusual visitor in port.

This is one of the Customs launches and I don’t recall having seen one in here today. And there’s no traffic of any kind in port today – especially not over there by where he is moored – that might warrant the kind of attention that he would bring

So I dunno what’s going on with him, and I wasn’t about to go down there and ask him. I came back home instead.

Once I’d finished the radio programme I made tea. There was one of those vegan galette things left over so I had that with rice and veg and a thick onion gravy.

For my evening walk it was freezing outside and I was alone. So I managed my two runs again. But seriously, I didn’t see a single soul out there tonight.

Rosemary rang up when I returned home and we had a really long chat that went on for almost 2 hours – hence I’m running very late and things that I planned to do won’t be done yet again.

So a very late night tonight. I’m taking one pace forward, and ending up two paces behind.

And the apple pie was delicious.

Sunday 26th August 2018 – HOMER SIMPSON …

homer simpson car volkswagen beetle belgium AUGUST AOUT 2018… is alive and well, and visiting Brussels at the moment.

I saw his car parked up by the Gare du Midi this evening.

Actually, it’s probably not his, but probably the one belonging to Miss Hodge, because it’s a little-known fact that Homer Simpson was not the first to use the catchphrase. It first came to prominence in the 1940s in ITMA – “It’s That Man Again” when Miss Hodge used it all the time to express her exasperation at Tommy Handley’s antics.

For the first time for quite a while, and changing the habits of a lifestyle, I set an alarm for this morning. I’m off on my travels and I have plenty to do.

First thing was to make my butties. That’s the most important thing. I can’t starve when I’m on the road. And when the butties had been made, I could then clean down the worktops and the table.

The sink and the draining board looked pretty insalubrious too so I put everything away that I could, and then spent a good 10 minutes cleaning that.

Next task was to put out the rubbish. That had accumulated for a while and its presence had become quite evident, so that went the Way of the West too. I shall have to put the rubbish out much more often, especially in the summer.

Final task was to scrub the waste bin and then put bleach everywhere that needed disinfecting. Grabbing a packet of crackers for breakfast, I hit the streets.

I’ve made something of a miscalculation. It’s Sunday, and on Sunday there are no local buses. So I had to head off to the station on foot, dragging behing me my huge suitcase with Strawberry Moose in it.

de gallant port de granville harbour manche normandy franceBut at least it meant that I could see a beautiful yacht come sailing … “dieseling” – ed … into the harbour.

she’s called “De Gallant”, and with a name like that I reckoned that she is probably Flemish or Dutch.

And I was right too. Originally called Jannete Margaretha, she was launched in 1916 in the middle of World War I in the neutral Netherlands.

She was originally a herring boat and later as a cargo vessel, but since 1987 she’s been a sail training vessel. Mind you, she was dieseling her way into the harbour today.

brocante granville manche normandy franceIt seemed like a long, slow crawl up the hill with the suitcase and I had to stop a couple of times to catch my breath.

But in fact it was only 08:25 when I arrived. I would almost have had time to have gone to visit the brocante that was setting up in the streets outside.

The train was in so I grabbed a coffee and leapt aboard, settling myself down and having my breakfast. And being interrupted by the girl in front who wanted to borrow my phone charger.

In between reading my book and listening to the radio programmes on my laptop I had a good sleep for half an hour. And that did me some good too.

Barclay James Harvest once famously wrote I have been to a place where chaos rules. I used to think that they had been to an Open University Students Association Executive Committee Meeting but today I realised that they had in fact been alighting from a train on a Sunday lunchtime at Paris Vaugirard, because chaos it certainly was. Whole areas were roped off with hordes of people waiting to reboard the train. We had to fight our way through the queues.

They had even installed a one-way dual carriageway system on the platform down to the main station.

The metro was heaving too but I took up a place right at the front and not only was there plenty of room down there, I even managed to find a seat. But the heat was stifling, especially as I was wearing a fleece.

There seems to have been a change at the Gare du Nord too. Usually there’s a gate at the end of the platform that leads out to the main-line station but today I couldn’t find it and ended up being routed all the way through the bowels of the station.

defense d'uriner gare du nord paris franceI went outside and ate my butties, spending more time though fighting off the pigeons.

But I did notice this sign though on one of the doors outside. Crudely translated (and if there’s anything crude involved anywhere, then in the words of the late, great Bob Doney “I’m your man”) into the vernacular by Yours Truly, it means “p155 off elsewhere”.

So now you know.

The TGV was crowded too. I was lucky enough to be one of the first on so the big suitcase had a place on the luggage rack. I don’t know what would have happened had I been any later because there was only room for about four on there.

And they must have been cleaning the carriage because there was an overwhelming smell of cleanliness in there. So I settled in and plugged in my laptop. It was then that my neighbour arrived so I warned him not to trip over the cable.


So he tripped over it


Just by way of a change, I spent most of the journey asleep. The seats were quite comfortable. And so I can’t tell you anything about the journey. But when we arrived in Brussels it was like winter here. All of the good weather had disappeared.

I’m staying in the Hotel Midi-Zuid. I’ve stayed here a few times in the past. It’s an easy 5-minute walk from the station and although the area around here is depressing, this is a modern, clean hotel where rooms represent really good value for money seeing as you are at a vital traffic hub in Europe’s capital city and I have no complaints.

Esyllt rang me up. It’s been a couple of years since we last saw each other. She’s in Brussels right now so we arranged to meet at the Gare du Midi.

We ended up having a good walk around the city in the rain, even finding an open-air techno music exposition. But even more excitingly we found an Indian Restaurant, the Feux de Bengale.

Esi isn’t a big fan of Indian food, but I am. And there were a few banal foods on offer on the menu. And so we had one of the nicest meals that I have had for quite a while. My potato and cauliflower curry was delicious.

Interestingly, when I was going to look for the conveniences, the manager sidled up to me and whispered “we have rooms for the night or for the hour”. This kind of thing used to be quite common in Brussels but I was under the impression that it had pretty much died out.

But what use would I be, even for an hour? As I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed …I can still chase after the women – I just can’t remember why.

Last time any young lady asked me, when I was in bed, if I needed anything, I replied “a glass of wincarnis and a hot water bottle”.

We carried on with our walk afterwards and ended up in a bar. And one thing that we noticed was that despite there being quite a few people in there, and plenty of couples too, Esi was the only female in the place.

Eventually we arrived at Esi’s metro station so I put her on the train to the friend’s house where she was staying, and I walked back to my hotel.

Lots of changes in the city and the main road through the centre is now a pedestrian walkway. It’s much different from how it was when I first came to live here – 26 years ago now.

My hotel room is on the ground floor, and there’s quite a lot of noise coming from the reception area. I hope that I’ll be able to sleep tonight with all of this going on. But at least the room is well-appointed and I’m quite pleased with it.

I’m at the hospital tomorrow.

Friday 3rd June 2016 – I’M BACK …

… in Soissons again – at the Hotel Premiere Classe of course and I suppose that you are all wondering why I don’t move in here.

But the reasons why I’m back are twofold – firstly, I’ve come to recover my mobile phone (which I now have in my sweaty little mitt until I leave it somewhere else) and secondly, and more importantly, I’ve been let out of hospital today.

The doctor came along this morning and told me that nothing now is likely to be done to me until they receive the results of my samplings back from the laboratory, so if I were to stay in the hospital, I’d be just kicking my heels until then. And so I decided to take my wracked and ragged body off for a change of scenery, and they’ve given me an appointment for Monday 13th (yes, the thirteenth – good job it’s not a Friday!) of June. That’s when we’ll (hopefully) find out where everyone has been going wrong with my diagnosis.

I spoke to the girl at Social Services and after an inordinately long wait, she confirmed that they would have me back at Pellenberg from Monday until the day that I go for my results. That gives me a week to track down a room in a house and now that I have my phone back, I hope that I can do that.

But the result of having to wait around so long was that it was 15:30, instead of 14:00 when I left the hospital. And after another session where I jammed the exit at the car park, I was of course decanted straight into the traffic. Not quite as bad as the last time, but bad enough all the same. I stopped off to pick up some fuel at Mont St Jean, given the excitement that’s going on in France at the moment.

The drive down was uneventful although I did pick a new route – down the péage and then onto the motorway for Reims and Lyon, leaving somewhere short of Coucy. And luckily, there was a guard on duty at the tollbooth who recognised Caliburn as a van and not a lorry and I paid just €4:40 for the tolls and not four times that. I hate these automatic tolls.

The road into Soissons is a road that I know well from the old days, bringing me past the walled city of Coucy-le-Chateau (which readers from way back will recall us doing the touristy visit early one morning in midwinter many years ago on our way back from an Open University Students Association meeting) and straight into the town, and now I’m holed up in the Premiere Classe where I’ll be staying until tomorrow.

And I hope that I have as good a sleep as I had last night. Not the best, it has to be said, but my room-mate didn’t snore at all as far as I could tell and once I’d finally managed to go to sleep, I just had the odd awakening here and there and was dead to the world when the nurse awoke me. I’d been on a voyage too, but don’t ask me where because I’ve no idea now.

Still, tonight I’ve asked for the quietest room in the house and judging by this and that, I might actually have it too. Let’s see how I’m feeling after a good rest and a good breakfast tomorrow, hey?

Monday 30th May 2016 – ONE THING THAT I’VE LEARNT TODAY …

… is that I won’t be having my next chemotherapy session for quite a while.

It seems that in the opinion of the hospital, I’m far to ill right now to go through all of the stresses that chemotherapy will provide and they think that I ought to recover first.

I have to say that I don’t like the sound of that one little bit. As far as I’m concerned, being ill doesn’t make the slightest difference. I don’t see an issue about chemotherapy making me any more ill – I’ll be suffering just the same and the quicker the treatment starts, the quicker it will be over and the quicker I’ll start to recover. Waiting until I’m feeling better and then making me ill again is just in my opinion absurd. I only want to be ill once.

And if I don’t improve, then I won’t ever have the chemotherapy and then I’ll be back where I started all of these months ago and that’s really defeating the purpose of my coming here.

As you can tell, I’ve had a visit from the doctor this afternoon. She didn’t stay long and didn’t even give me a check-over – she just came to give me the news.

I had a really bad night again last night. I took ages to go off to sleep, mainly due to the fact that I had a really bad pain right across the right side of my chest. It just wouldn’t go away and I just couldn’t find a comfortable position. It was so bad that I felt like calling for some emergency help (now that’s not like me, is it?) but I managed to hang on.

And then once I did drop off, I kept on waking up time after time after time. I really can’t sleep properly at all in this place. But drop off I must have done, because I was off on my travels again.

I was in a house that I owned, in Nantwich down by Crewe Road end but it wasn’t a terraced house such as is there but a modern semi-detached property. I’d had the morning off work and was due to go in for the afternoon but all kinds of delays were holding me up. eventually, I’d sorted out my pushbike, found my heavy blue-grey overcoat, decided what cap I was going to wear (because it was teeming down outside) and eventually I set off. But it was freezing cold too and I decided that I needed my gloves so had to turn back. And this made me wonder whether it was worth setting out again as the office would be closed by the time that I arrived. But as I reached back home I noticed my red Ford Cortina estate, XCL 465X, in the drive and it had been driven in instead of reversed in, as I always do without fail when I’m parking. That took me completely by surprise.
And a little later we were at a huge Open University Students Association (OUSA) meeting and there were hundreds of us in attendance. I found my way in, nearly last (not like me) and struggled into a corner where there were several people whom I knew, including a girl called Jane who was in my class at school (what she was doing at an OUSA meeting is anyone’s guess). We were having a chat about old times when the meeting abruptly started. The first speaker, a woman we knew, started to talk but went so quick that we couldn’t make notes and everyone bellowed at her in unison to slow down and start again – which she did, but after a couple of minutes started to roar off again and we found it impossible to keep track of what we were saying.

The doctor wasn’t the only visitor that I had either. I had a hospital visitor come to chat with me for a couple of minutes and that was quite a break from my routine. She didn’t have much to say, which was no surprise, but she tried her best to cheer me up and encourage my morale and you can never criticise someone for that.

But while I was talking to her, I somehow managed to put my back out of joint and that hurt for ages. I’m definitely breaking up, aren’t I?

The rest of the day has been quite quiet. I’ve sat in the day room and, for a change, done some work (I need to keep myself properly organised and properly focused), and that’s really my lot. As you know, there’s not really a lot else that I can be doing right now. I need to exert myself a little but it’s not easy. Even if I were to find the motivation, there ust aren’t the opportunities just now.

Still, maybe I’ll cheer up tomorrow.

Tuesday 8th March 2016 – FIRST EXCITING THING …

… to happen today was that my web-host’s server went down. And was down for about three hours in total and so you were all denied the pleasure of reading about my ramblings in the early part of the afternoon.

But that wasn’t what upset me the most about it. What did annoy me was that I had been actually using part of the blog from October, and when it all went down, my work came to a shuddering halt. As I mentioned the other day, the next part of the magnum opus which is the collating of the photos that I took in Canada last year with the relevant notes that I made on the dictaphone – that’s also coupled with the entries that I made on my blog so I needed to cut and paste the relevant sections out of there to correspond with whatever I dictated on the dictaphone. And of course, with the blog being down, that I could not do, and so that was that.

Second exciting thing was that the nurse remembered to come this morning. And as a result, I had my blood test. I’ve had the results too, which show that my blood count has now gone back up to 9.0. “Good news” you might be thinking, but it should be tempered with the fact that I’ve had a blood transfusion with two pochettes of blood in between this one and the last one. It’s going to be much more interesting to see what happens at the blood test next week and see where we have got to.

Third exciting thing was that Nerina came along to visit me again during the night, which certainly makes a change from members of my family. Regardless of anything that might (or might not) have happened in the early 90s, I would prefer her company any day to three or four of the others whom I’ve met recently while I’ve been out and about in the middle of the night.

But it was not she who made her appearance during the early part of the evening, but some others with whom I can well live without. I can’t remember what was happening here now with this first bit but I had nine somethings – was it nine stitches? Nine rows of stitches? But they had to be taken out and while this was going on I was surrounded by a load of people whom I knew – some of whom worked in the OUSA offices. But I do remember in my dream passing out long before we reached the end of what was going on there.
But after the trip down the corridor, the next part was a lot more coherent even if I couldn’t remember the beginning of it. I’d been out for a drive with Nerina, each of us in our own car. Both of them were markIII Cortinas – mine being a lovely pale-green late-model one but Nerina’s was an old 2.0 bronze-coloured one. But I was ill and having difficulty driving mine, having been told not to go too far in it, but that wasn’t likely to stop me. After a while, we came to a petrol station and I was feeling really uncomfortable by this time. Nerina suggested that we swap cars as hers was fitted with power-steering and so it would be easier for me to drive. And so we swapped. The fuel gauge in Nerina’s car wasn’t working so I reckoned that I had better fill it up to make sure that I had enough fuel to make it back home again. I told the girl in charge of the petrol pumps to “fill ‘er up”. But after a few seconds, the counter on the petrol pumps stopped working so she tried with the next one, and the same thing happened. And so on, and on. But anyway, it seemed that Nerina’s car was almost empty so I was filling it right to the top – as much as would go in it. Not that that annoyed me – what was annoying me was that the fuel read-outs on the pumps weren’t working. As you probably know, ever since I started with my taxis in 1979 I’ve always kept fuel records for the vehicles that I’ve used, and I still do so even today with Caliburn. I was telling the girl at the fuel pumps about this and she replied “don’t worry, sir, it’ll all be okay. We’ll work it out somehow”. I was wondering just how she was going to do this with all of this confusion about changing from pump to pump, how much fuel had gone into Nerina’s car and how much it was going to cost me. And then how was she going to prepare a receipt for me with all of the details that I needed to keep up with my records as I usually do. The delay was now starting to get on Nerina’s nerves, and she mentioned that I had only invited her out for half an hour and now I had her doing all of this (and it wouldn’t have been the first time that I had heard this complaint either). And I hadn’t even checked the water in the car yet.

But then downstairs, wait for the nurse, work on the web pages as much as I could, coffee and vegan banana muffins for break, baked beans on toast for lunch and home-made vegan lasagne for tea. I’ve told you before, … "and you’ll tell us again" – ed … if I ever recover from this illness that I have and am fit enough to go back home, I shall immediately find something else that might be wrong with me.

Much as I love my little house and miss it very much, I shall miss Liz’s home cooking even more.

Monday 17th March 2014 – I HAD AN EARLIER NIGHT …

…than last night. In fact I was in bed by all of 04:00 would you believe? Carried awy again by some work that I was doing.

Even more surprisingly, having set the alarm for 07:30 this morning (we’re back at wrok as of today), I was awake – and wide awake too – before it even went off. I’ll probably pay for that later today but never mind.

I was quite busy during the night too. It was the week of beating the bounds in Wales where everyone has to walk – or run – around the borders of the country to satisfy themselves of the correct location of the markers. You could start at any time of the day that you liked, and I remember always starting at 10:20.

Sometime during the night I ended up in broad daylight in Birmingham (a city that I detest) with Zero. I on’t know why we had gone there but I was carrying a geren folder with all of her mother’s bankruptcy documents in there, as well as two rather large kitchen knives. Zero wanted an ice cream and a cake so we went into a cafe and while I was sorting her out, one of the serving staff picked up the folder and started to read the papers within. She then came over and asked us to leave
“Why on earth should we do that?” I asked
“Well, I’m afraid that you might use our premises to solicit donations from the large number of customers (there were about 4 in the cafe) who use or premises”.
She was surprisingly insistent, and even more surprisingly, made no reference to the two very large knives, and they were certainly large enough to frighten anyone.
I made a remark something along the lines of “the trouble with most people in Britain these days is that they are totally paranoid and immediately see things in a situation that simply aren’t there” but that cut no ice with her.

So now that I’m on summer hours, after breakfast I attacked the computer and restarted work on the website. That went on until midday when I knocked off the computer and ent outside to work.

I’ve promised 2 half-days on the garden each week and so I made a start on one of the raised beds, digging it over and weeding it, but I didn’t get far as I had to go to Cécile’s as there was a man due to come to check the septic tank. Accordingly I had a shower in the verandah (and we are talking about nothing to do with the Open University Students Association by the way) and then rounded up all of the washing from my holiday.

Once he had gone I came back via the Intermarche where I bumped into Jean Lauvergne and his wife and then when I was back here I had a couple more jobs to do on Caliburn. Firstly to change the passenger-side mirror. It was cracked quite a while ago but I caught in on something at Rennes-le-Chateau and that finished it off.

After that, I changed his tyres and he now has his summer tyres on. That took much longer than it should have – one of the wheels was rusted onto the hub and on another wheel the jack couldn’t find a good purchase. But anyway that’s sorted out and now Caliburn is ready for the summer.

buds on trees les guis virlet puy de dome franceI went back into the garden after and promptly broke the handle on the fork. It’s not my day is it.

But I did notice that some of the more sheltered trees and bushes are now budding. That’s early this year. It can only spell doom as I’m not quite convinced that winter is quite over yet, even if we did have over 25°C.

We also had 170 amp-hours of surplus electrical energy today. That might sound a lot but it isn’t as much as yesterday’s 205 amp-hours, which is about a record as far as I can tell. But there’s a reason for this. Now that the days are lengthening dramatically and the sun is much higher in the sky, I’ve started disconnecting the lights of the house in daytime and plugging the fridge in there instead. That way it runs through the day and the current doesn’t pass down the overcharge circuit, which is still running too hot for my liking.

I’ll have to do something about that.

Anyway now I’m off to bed. A nice clean me and nice clean bedding too. Luxury!

Friday 27th December 2013 – AND STARTING AS I MEAN TO GO ON …

… I’ve had another day of rest today. And quite right too. I owe myself several from my exertions early in the year.

So even though it was still not light when I woke up, it was 10:00 when I heaved myself out of the stinking pit and into the land of the living. And while I was breakfasting, I watched an episode of The Saint where he is in Haiti with the zombies and the undead – and didn’t that bring back many happy memories of my time with the Open University Students Association?

It’s not really true to say that I had a day of rest though. In fact I attacked the database that I’ve been making and now that’s finished completely. And I’m astonished at what it’s thrown up. Quite clearly, I’ve not been keeping track of what I’ve been playing, and anyone can tell that Hawkwind has been my most favourite group during this whole series of radio programmes.

I need to shuffle the pack quite a lot, that’s for sure. But at least, doing these twice-weekly rock shows is giving me a good excuse to expand my CD collextion, so I’m not complaining.

And after that, I did the studio show for the next month’s programmes. As for the live concert, that’s tomorrow’s task. And I’m not even quite sure what concet I’m going to pick. Whatever it might be, it won’t be as stunning as the last three concerts that I’ve produced. They have been outstanding.

Tea wasn’t so successful tonight. I didn’t get the fire hot enough and so it took ages to cook the spuds. I consequently put the sprouts in too early and so they were overcooked. Cooking with this woodstove is a bit hit-and-miss, that’s for sure, but it’s doing the business here and saving on the bottled gas. If I can put these three extra solar panels up some time soon, I’ll have enough electricity in the summer to cook electric with the steamer and the slow cooker – won’t that be progress?

Sunday 22nd September 2013 – AND IT WAS AS WELL

Yes, a rough night with howling gales and driving rainstorms and one more night where I don’t seem to have had a decent sleep. I’m getting rather fed up with this.

Anyway, everyone else was up and about early (no surprise) and oo we hit the road. Having telephoned Rachel, we all arranged to meet up at the truckstop at Houlton for breakfast and then while Darren and Hannah went home, Rachel, Amber, Zoe and I went shopping around Marden’s and Walmart. Walmart is having a CD sale at $5:00 a time and so I’m all loaded up with all kinds of goodies to take home with me. Add that to the Ryobi bit driver and Strawberry Moose, and there won’t be any room in there for my clothes, not the first time that this has happened to me. His Nibs did offer to buy his own jet and fly it home, but that was ruled out when I explained to him that it was spelt “L-E-A-R”.

Back home I had a shower (no, the OUSA Executive Committee hasn’t come over to join me) and then did quiet domestic things to finish off the day. After all, it is Sunday

Monday 26th August 2013 – WELL, I MADE IT TO THE AIRPORT

terminal 2 airport charles de gaulle paris franceBut it wasn’t half touch and go, I’ll tell you.

I didn’t manage to get anything in the way of sleep last night either, because I couldn’t find the keys to my storage box and my safety deposit box in Canada.

Desperate times call for desperate measures and so I put a couple of batteries for the Ryobi angle grinder on charge. It’s as well to be prepared, and that will sort out the men from the boys of course. After that, desperate measures were called for and I started going through all of the waste bins.

I’m glad I did because I found my missing personal telephone directory NOYE TO SELF – have a word with Cécile about her method of tidying up. I found lots of other disagreeable objects but no keys and at 08:52 I called it a day and started to pack everything away.

However, I had a thought. I definitely remember putting the keys in a zipped pocket and they ought to be in the zipped pocket of my “Canada Electrical” bag. But I didn’t remember opening the suitcase after I locked up the storage unit. I’d tipped out my sac banane where there are about four zipped pockets, and the keys weren’t there either of course, but there was a zipped pocket on the computer and camera hold-all.

And sure enough, with just a couple of minutes to go, I emptied that out, and there they were! Phew! That was a close shave!

So at Radio Tartasse I recorded two months of rock programmes, then Liz and I did 6 weeks of “Radio Anglais”. I stopped off at the Pionsat Intermarché to buy a pile of bread and salad and I’ve made a mountain of butties – I know all about the closed restaurant round the corner from my hotel and I have my suspicions about Air Transat and their choice of vegan food. It’s as well to be prepared.

caliburn at liz and terry messenger sauret besserve puy de dome franceAfter taking Julie and Clare’s furniture out of Caliburn, I garaged him right round the back of Liz and Terry’s where he can stay quiet for 6 weeks or so out of the way and be good.

Liz kindly prepared lunch, a salad and bread, and I shaved my head with the hair trimmer. There are First Nation Canadians, or Amerindiens, around by where I’m going and I’ve heard all kinds of stories about the Malicete. I’m not leaving them anything to pull off. Anyway, after all of that, we went down to Gerzat in Liz’s car to record 5 weeks of “Radio Anglais” for Radio Arverne.

diesel multiple unit sncf french railways riom puy de dome franceThat was for once quite straightforward and then Liz dropped me off at the station in plenty of time for my train.

I’ve no idea what make or model it is – I shall have to refer to my Jane’s Train Recognition Guide for that, but I can tell you that it wasn’t as rattly or as bangy as the one last time I came here. And as nothing at all exciting happened during the voyage, we arrived in Lyon, and Lyon is much more civilised than trying to go via Paris. I had time to eat some butties and drink a coffee.

double decker TGV Lyon part dieu paris charles de gaulle SNCF French railways franceIn the TGV though we were like sardines. I was lucky in that I boarded early and so I managed to grab a place on the difficult rail halfway down the carriage. Anyone who came after me was struggling for luggage space. It really is ridiculous – why don’t they have a luggage van and a baggagiste on each of the trains? That would make everything so much simpler.

And a good 25 minutes late, due to a tardy connection, we hurtled off into the night with kids screaming and all kinds of things. And not even a place to swing a cat. I hate to think what this would be like on a Saturday evening.

That 25 minutes ended up as being a whopping great 44 minutes by the time that we arrived at the station at Terminal 2, and although that might seem like bad news, it is in fact the first bit of good news that I have had for about a week because it entitles me to a refund of 25% on my ticket – something that I shall be following up with vigour.

paris charles de gaulle airport terminal 2 waiting for hotel shuttle bus franceUp in a crowded lift from the first floor to the fifth floor and into a heaving mass of people waiting for the hotel buses. Last year I stepped out of the station and onto the bus – this year I think that everyone else’s bus must have done 5 or 6 trips before mine came. But at least that had dispersed the masses and we were a mere 12 on the bus.

Having now had a shower (and we aren’t talking about the OUSA Exeecutive Committee here), configured the new laptop for the internet and downloaded a pile of files as well as a FTP program, I can post this load of rubbish and go to bed.

Friday 20th July 2012 – WHAT A SHAMBLES!

And, just for a change, I’m not talking about anything to do with the Open University Students Association.

At 10:00 I needed to be at Radio Tartasse in Marcillat-en-Combraille to record the rock music programme and thanks to a 07:30 start this morning I had everything ready and so I was there on time.

15 minutes it takes to record the programmes – I set up all the music at home and copy them onto a memory stick – but it was blasted flaming well 11:50 before I managed to leave.

It seems that someone has been messing around with the computer there and there’s a file running in a kind of algorithm that is stopping the sound card working correctly.

They had the manager and two technicians trying to fix it and in the end Yours Truly was so fed up that he imposed himself in the office and managed to free off the sound card by disabling the background program via the Task Manager so that we could make a start.

Then, they managed to lose the program that we had recorded and so after they gave up, I searched all of the hard drives for it and it wasn’t there at all, so we went to re-record it, with much GRRRRRRing.

And then the program wouldn’t open as “an instance of this program is already running” – seems that the Manager had entered a file name but had forgotten to save it and had then minimised the window.

No wonder it took so flaming long.

At lunchtime I took Bill to Montaigut-en-Combraille – he had bought a new bed and needed it transporting home and that was not as straightforward as it might have been either, for reasons that I shan’t go into.

But to cut a long story short, it was 15:00 when I finally stopped for lunch and I was dismayed.

lean to repairing stone wall les guis virlet puy de dome franceSo having been driven up the wall all this morning it was only natural that I was back on the scaffolding this afternoon.

If you compare this photo with one of the ones from earlier this week you can see how much progress I’ve been making.

But the real proof of progress is the fact that you’ll notice the new-looking breeze block in the wall by the bottom-right of the photo – when I started to repair the lean-to, that breeze block was the first stone that I had to lay.

Everything from and including that breeze block is what I’ve had to put it.

Anyway, after a few hours on that, it was 18:50 when I finished a load of cement and so I called it a day on the wall.

That gave me 10 minutes to sow a row of endives ready for the winter. You can see how organised I’m becoming these days, can’t you?

So back up here to warm up and dry off because today we were back in winter – cold and wet.

Summer has been and gone, and that was your lot.

Tuesday 5th June 2012 – I’VE MADE FURTHER STRIDES …

… in the garden today.

after another late start and breakfast I carried on with my notes from my recent trip to Canada and the USA and they are now all up-to-date.

Following that I had a huge pile of stuff to pack and prepare for shipping – and it was then that I realised that the UK is closed today.

Bearing in mind the catalogue of disasters that occurred while I was away, after lunch I started the repair programme.

A few batteries needed recharging and replacing and it didn’t take long to do all of that

new fuse 12 volt immersion heater les guis virlet puy de dome franceThe new fuse is now fitted to the overcharge circuit that powers the home-made 12-volt electric immersion heater and so I have hot water again at last.

But the largest strip fuse that I have seems to be 50-amp and that’s nothing like enough, but it’s all that I have for now. It will have to do.

I’ll have to pay a discreet visit to the local car breaker’s, or else buy some … “Buy? Are you feeling alright?” – ed … when i’m next in the UK. The type that I want actually range from 40 amps to 250 amps so I shouldn’t have too many problems getting what I want.

Not so good news in the barn though. As you fix one problem, another problem rears its ugly head. It seems that one of the charge controllers, the oldest one, has ceased to function.

10 years old so I can’t complain too much but it is rather annoying.

It’s something internal that has gone wrong with it. I can tell this because the voltmeter is registering the voltage on the battery so that side is fine, and the hourmeter wired to the input side is working too, so that bit is okay. it’s all of the bits in the middle where we have a problem.

What I’ve done for now is to connect the two terminals together with an old jump lead – not ideal but at least current is reaching the batteries and so they will charge up.

But there’s no cut-off when they are fully-charged so I will just have to keep my eye on them, and disconnect them if I have to go out on a sunny day.

That left me an hour in the garden and I weeded one of the beds. It’s stil not all done but at least I can see what’s in there. Tons of brussels sprouts by the looks of things.

>Meanwhile in other news, since I graduated from University, the whys and wherefores of OUSA – the Open University Students Association, have been sadly lacking from these pages.

I’ve been doing my best to put it all behind me but it won’t go away.

The latest is that what should have been a private mail from an elected officer to a member of the Association but which was “inadvertantly” (as if that ever happens) published to a public forum.

The memo reads – Hi all. My name is Hazel (http://www.facebook.com/hazel.pegg) and my Alter Ego is VP Comms. For various reasons my official ID needs to be an admin of your FB page. please don’t force me to go the heavy route?

What kind of threat is that to make to a member of an organisation of which the writer is an elected member?

My own opinion is that it is thoroughly shameful. It reminds me of the Kray Twins or the legendary “Dinsdale” sketch – “he nailed my head to a coffee table. He didn’t want to do it – I had to insist”.

But whatever you might think – it just goes to show that nothing has changed in OUSA.

Wednesday 14th March 2012 – WHAT A SHOWER!

Even though it is soon to be the annual conference of an … errrrr … organisation (said he, using the term loosely) that featured quite heavily in these pages at one time or another, it is not to that which I am referring.

Neither am I referring to my visitors either.

And I use the term in the plural because I had more than one today.

First off at 09:00 this morning, the phone rang and it was Désirée, the local estate agent.

And 09:00 too, you might be thinking, but to everyone’s surprise, including Yours Truly’s, I’d been up for hours. And I mean hours as well. I’d been trying to speak to Désirée for a while and at last she was free and so she came round here for a chat.

Amongst the things about which we chatted, and probably the most important, was the building that I own in Montaigut. Long-term readers of these pages will know that I own something like a derelict warehouse there and I use it to keep some cars, namely the Traction, the 2000E and the Mark V Cortina estate.

Above it though is a large space that was formerly six large rooms on two levels, but the dividers, both horizontally and vertically, are long gone. I need to do something about this place and converting the upstairs into two apartments is what I have in mind.

And so I had a good pick of Désirée’s brains – after all, she’s the professional.

Another visitor was Bill, who came round with a radio-cassette player out of an old car. There was a tape stuck in it and being an electronic unit you can’t get the tape out without power.

At least, most people can’t get the tape out but with the aid of three long fine-pointed screwdrivers and a pair of fine long-nosed pliers, I can manage to do it.

All these years of a misspent youth, that’s what I put it all down to.

2012 first GARDEN FIRE BONFIRE les guis virlet puy de dome franceIn between the visits I finally managed to light the fire, the first of the year. And that is busy (even as we speak) disposing of much of the waste wood and the weeds that I have been pulling up this last couple of weeks.

You’ll notice though that it isn’t on the site of where the greenhouse will be. There was far too much stuff to burn, and the trees were overhanging far too much.

But I’ve left some over there – I’ll burn that off tomorrow and that should kill off many of the weeds on the site of where the greenhouse will be.

But back to the shower thing. At 18:00 I noticed that the water in the solar water heater was at 31°C today, and that the water in the dump load was off the scale again. So 5 litres of that water into the solar water heater gave me 38.5°C and I had my first home-grown shower of the year.

Just for a change I actually feel properly clean.

And I was right about the wind as well.

Saturday 31st December 2011 – HAPPY NEW YEAR …

… or, at least, it will be in a bit.

This morning I was attacking Marianne’s book yet again. I’ve unearthed several more poems, at least two of which need certain crucial words placed in the right position
and poetry’s not my strong point
I’ll be glad to leave this joint.
Cos poetry is real hard work
And I can’t do it
What a berk!
so how I’m going to do all of that – I am as yet … errr … undecided.

Another anagram has reared its ugly head too (and I think that there are a couple more) with certain words put into a precise order and harry hid is vest.

So you can see – no chance of doing this by Monday evening.

I went out to lunch. It’s been a while since I met Mike – one of my cohorts from the OUSA – Open University Students Association – days here in Brussels. We had a very good chat for a couple of hours and raised a glass to absent friends, Liz Ayers especially. Nearly three years since she left us.

Mike is looking quite well and I wished him all the best. But I couldn’t hang around because Marianne and I had shopping to do. I keep forgetting that these days I’m having to think about the routines of others rather than just my own.

We’ve had tea and Marianne is settling down to watch the Pope and the religious services for the New Year. Me, I’m sitting here idly reading a book (not about poetry) on the internet.

I wish you all well – see you next year.

Monday 11th July 2011 – I really don’t know …

… what happened to today.

For a change I was awake reasonably early and after breakfast I had my nose pressed firmly to the keyboard here by 10:00. I’ve been working this morning on a bit about Canadian Railways and so I was pretty much engrossed, and what with one thing and another it was about 13:20 when I stopped.

I nipped outside after that to carry on with my solar panel frame. First task was to sort out all of the fittings that I bought in the UK. But hereby hangs a tail – half of them are missing – including the important bits for my framework. Sudsequent enquiries reveal that there were two boxes of stuff for me at Benchdollar, but they only gave me one of them. GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

Next task was to cut the scaffolding poles to the right length. And could I find my angle grinder? Could I elephants. In the end I found the old one, rewired that and used it (having to use two drills and a screwdriver to change the disk). And of course, after all of that, as soon as I had finished, I found the proper one as you might expect.

That took me to, would you believe, 16:30, and time to get ready for the Pionsat Patrimoine meeting. Here, I have never known so many people gifted with the capacity for fitting the smallest amount of thought into the largest amount of words. Everyone was jostling for position and you could here the egoes banging together. Absolutely everything became a conflict – it was awful and I was glad to get away. It surely can’t go on like this. It was worse than a meeting of the Open University Students Association

We went off to St Gervais d’Auvergne and the Anglo-French Group afterwards. Terry is talking about adding a dumper to the fleet and I’m thinking seriously about a cherry picker. We’ll have a famous pool of equipment at the end of it all.

Tomorrow, I’m off hunting a Roman spring, so I won’t be finishing this flaming framework either.

Sunday 12th June 2011 – WE’VE DONE IT NOW!

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that Terry and I have been hunting for the last couple of years for a decent mini-digger. We’ve made all kinds of enquiries but the end result always was that we could never find anything that we wanted.

In the end we decided that we would have to pay more than we wanted and buy something newer, but that never worked either.

That is, until today.

I went to Bacup to see a digger, a 2007 Takeuchi and while it was dearer than we were ever expecting to pay, in the end we’ve bitten the bullet and gone for it, faute de mieux – in the absence of anything better.

The cash will be transferred over on Monday and I’m picking it up on Wednesday night after I collect my new trailer.

Did I tell you about that?

caliburn overnight parking bacup burnley lancashire ukAnd so last night after dropping off Caroline I had a pleasant drive around the back of Manchester, Rawtenstall, Rossendale and all of that.

I found a nice quiet lay-by in the pitch-dark somewhere up on the moors between Burnley and Bacup and settled down for a nice, quiet sleep.

And a nice quiet sleep it was too. I didn’t feel a thing.

caliburn overnight parking bacup burnley lancashire uk wind farmPretty windswept it was too up on this hilltop, as I was to discover when I finally awoke.

And that’s hardly surprising, given the glorious view. That was Burnley down there in the valley on the previous photo and on this photo, there’s a wind farm for you to admire.

So a nice drive on into Bacup where I met this digger guy, who took me to see it in Accrington where it was digging out someone’s footings.

Once I’d recovered from the shock of committing myself to spending all of this money, I went to Preston – or rather, the Tickled Trout in Salmesbury – to see Sandra.

We had a really good chat about one thing and another and It’s nice to learn that in OUSA – the Open University Students Association – things are carrying on just as I left them.

Chaos, panic, disorder – it’s all still going on.

This evening I’m on the M1 at Tibshelf Services. I’m moving off in a minute to find somewhere to bed down for the night as I need to be in Ilkeston early in the morning.