It actually rained today. And I missed most of it.
When I (eventually) awoke this morning (yes it was morning) the bright blue sky that we had had for the last I don’t know how long had changed into a woolly grey mass of cloud and the temperature was probably 10°C cooler too. Not that you’d know it in here because being a stone building with walls 1.20m thick it managed to avoid the extremes of temperature that we have outside.
Mind you, it wasn’t far off midnight. That’s because come 03:00 this morning I was still up and about. I’ve no idea what time I eventually went to bed but I was glad that I wasn’t going out at 08:30 this morning.
In actual fact I was awake at 10:20 but there wasn’t all that much likelihood of me showing a leg at that time. It was much more like 11:00 when I finally staggered into the daylight and went for my medication, feeling quite grateful that I’d prepared the music for the radio yesterday instead of trying to do it today.
Back in here, in a mad fit of enthusiasm and I’ve no idea where that came from, I listened to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. There was a house somewhere down Minshull New Road or somewhere like that, a council house. I don’t know what I was doing in it but it was filthy, dirty, dusty, overfull of furniture etc. The only way out was to climb through a window, one of the smaller fanlight windows at the top. I’d been doing that for a while here and there. One day a girl in there got hold of me, told me her name and told me that she lived in this house and that she was fed up of people coming in and going out again through the window. I made a facetious remark about going out of the door which didn’t go down very well. I said “never mind. I’ll write you an apology. It’s no problem to me” so we agreed that I would write her an apology and she would accept it. We had a chat and she was saying how she hated this house and how she was hoping to move etc, quite a long discussion. In the end I decided that I had to go. Of course the only way out was through the window. I went to open the window which for some unknown reason wasn’t easy today. While I was at it two dogs, a big one and a small one came up and started gnawing at my leg. Then some old man came in and asked what I was doing. I explained to him and explained that I’d seen the girl. He didn’t seem to be all that pleased and was making up all kinds of reasons for it to be extremely difficult for me to climb out of that window. I was determined that I was going anyway. We were talking about travelling around the world. I said that I’d met some interesting people. He asked if I’d been to Moscow so I replied “yes”. He asked if I’d ever been to New York so I replied “yes”. He said that the World Trade Centre has only been down a few years so I replied that I’d been to New York a lot longer than those had been down. We had quite an acrimonious discussion, polite but bad-tempered. All the time I was trying to go out through this window so that I could leave but everything seemed to be conspiring against me to stop me going and to keep me in this flaming filthy, dusty, dirty house.
Later on I was at work. I’d been promoted and was working with the inspectors. We received certain information about different things and I suggested ways of dealing with it that were unorthodox but were bound to bring in results and weren’t illegal. Everyone looked at me strangely and as we didn’t have the staff we put it on the back burner for the moment. In the afternoon we were invited to a beach party so we went down there. A lot of the people were playing beach volleyball but I was peering through some papers that I’d brought with me sitting in the sun. I thought “when I’ve finished these papers I can go and join in the volleyball”. But everyone suddenly packed up and started to move. Someone asked where they were going and the response was “guess”. It turned out that they were all heading to the local night club because even though it wasn’t night time it was probably open by now. I had no intention whatever of going there but one has to be sociable. Just then some woman from the office came by with a huge folder and said “guess what I have in here”. I know that I was trying to lay my hands on a folder for work so I said the name. She said “no. It’s a list of all second-homes and country cottages in the UK”. I suggested that these be compared with the owners. If necessary we could make enquiries about them and tie them up to their owners and see what comes of it. Someone was there, a Prophet of Doom, saying that it would never work, that’s totally illegal” which of course it was nonsense. I was trying to argue my particular corner. For some reason these people seemed to be totally devoid of any imagination and were totally unlikely to make anything work with the kind of imagination that they had.
That’s one thing that I’ve noticed since I left the UK in 1992. These days British people seem to fall at the first fence when they are trying to do something. When a problem arises or a technical hitch develops or something goes wrong or a machine breaks or a plan needs developing, the first setback is enough to make them throw in the towel.
We were always taught to use our imagination, to think, and work out a workaround and I used to have loads of fun doing that. But I seem to be one of a very small breed of people today. It reminds me of the saying “99% of the population has problems, but the rest of us have solutions”.
After lunch I came back in here but strangely, I can’t remember now what I did. I know that I didn’t fall asleep, that is a surprise in itself these days. I managed to keep on going until it was time to go walkies but just as I was about to step out of the door Ingrid rang.
We ended up having a marathon session on the telephone too seeing as it’s been a while since we last spoke, and the result of all of this was that I was considerably late going for my afternoon walk.
As usual the first thing that I did was to go over to the wall at the end of the car park to look down on the beach.
There were hordes of people down there this afternoon but they weren’t there for the sunbathing.
That was because
1) there was no sun
2) It’s the time for the pèche à pied and they were all mainly down there at the water’s edge having a scratch around to see what they could pull up
And with the tide being quite well out, it was all systems go further down the coast.
At Donville les Bains there’s a bouchot farm and you can see all of the stakes planted in the sand. Someone made an accidental discovery that if you leave ropes and things in the water the shellfish will actually grow on them in preference to the sand.
And that’s quite a delicacy too because the shellfish aren’t full of sandy grit and taste so much better.
Why that works so well here, apart from the fact that we have so much shellfish, is that with the high tides, the ropes and stakes can be well-submerged for growing the shellfish but at low tide they are out of the water and can be harvested and the equipment maintained quite easily.
But here’s an example of an earlier generation of fish traps.
This is the kind of thing that would have been common in medieval times. They would build a wall of loose-fitting stones across a bay or estuary so that at high tide, water and the fish therein would over flow behind the wall. And as the tide went out, the water would exfiltrate through the gaps in the stones leaving the fish behind.
And then all of your medieval fishwives would wade in and catch the fish with their bare hands ready for supper.
It’s the kind of thing that would still work today if it were properly maintained.
There’s a sort-of modern version of it here.
That’s the tidal swimming pool at the Plat Gousset and the principle is the same. And today it seems to have caught quite a few fish of the two-legged variety in its trap.
The person in the fluorescent yellow jacket is the lifeguard. There is a handful of them scattered around at various places on the beach keeping an eye on the activities and making sure that no-one is swept away.
Not that they are likely to be swept away in the tidal swimming pool but you never know your luck, I suppose.
From there I wandered off to the viewpoint overlooking the Plat Gousset.
Whenever we’ve seen that just recently it’s been heaving with people on the beach taking the sun but not today. There aren’t too many people down there in this weather. They are all wandering around the Place Marechal Foch.
But what caught my eye in this photo was the long queue of traffic coming down the hill into town. I can’t remember ever having seen a traffic jam quite like that in all the time that I’ve been living here
The reason for that might be something not unconnected with what’s going on in this photo.
These days it seems that you can’t go anywhere without attracting the attention of the local farces of Law and Order. And a couple of Granville’s finest seem to be rather more than interested in what this biker is up to with his machine.
In actual fact there were four policemen altogether and maybe they were performing a spot check of vehicles entering the town.
Nevertheless it’s good to see them going for the same old stereotyped victims. Nothing much changes, despite the passage of time.
another reason might be that the town centre is all closed off to through traffic today.
No vehicles are allowed in there right now and so they are having to go around the outside. That means that gordes of pedestrians can roam around the streets in perfect safety to their hearts’ content.
Rather bad luck if you live in the town centre and need your car, but never mind.
When I lived in Brussels we had a car-free day one Sunday every year. All of the public transport was free and there were all kinds of entertainments in the street.
Where I lived was on a hill on the edge of the city centre and you could see the dramatic improvement in air quality down below by the end of the day.
My route from here took me through the Place Maurice Marland.
My seagull chick wasn’t there today so maybe it had gone off for a fly around with its mum. I hope that it wasn’t the one that I saw dead by the side of the street on Friday.
There was plenty of activity in the harbour this afternoon. It doesn’t look as if anyone had gone out working. Over there on the back wall we had Le Coelacanthe and little sister le Tiberiade. You can tell them apart in this photo as the gormer has the wings to its bridge.
In the foreground from left to right we have the new Suzanga, the blue Massabielle and on the right, the little white Nais.with red and yellow stripes.
Plenty of others too that didn’t make it into the photograph which was a shame.
Over there in the bay where the gravel boats used to tie up is the trawler Philcathane
The other two boats that are there, I didn’t expect to see them here today. Marité for example, the wooden sailing ship. With it being a Sunday in the middle of the tourist season I would have thought that she would have gone out and about into the bay with a crowd of passengers to earn a few bob while the going was good.
As for Chausiaise, a friend of mine in St Helier sent me a photo this morning of her over there in jersey. The freight situation is definitely hotting up here if she’s being pressed into service.
Victor Hugo, the Channel Islands ferry isn’t here though. She spent yesterday and today running around the Channel Islands but she’s back in port by the time that I’m writing this.
From here I headed for home through the old town.
It’s book fair today and everyone had set out their stall to sell their surplus books. But by the time that I arrived here it was quite late and most people had packed up and had gone home.
And regular readers of this rubbish will recall me talking about the Monegasque Royal Family and their connections here when one of the Grimaldis married a local girl. The browny-grey granite house on the street corner on the left is where she lived.
Carrying on homewards I had a look over the wall and out into the bay.
A little earlier I mentioned the pèche à pied. Over there you can still see a few people out there but they are now heading for safety as the tide is coming in. And it comes in here quite rapidly too so they don’t want to be caught hanging about.
It was raining ever so slightly as I reached home and that’s a good thing as this are has been declared in a State of Emergency because of the drought. But we’ll need much more rain than this to do any good. Probably about a week’s torrential downpour.
And now I remember what it was that I did after lunch.
Last weekend I used up the last of the pizza dough so I had to make some more. That was how I spent the early afternoon and it had been proofing while I was otherwise occupied.
When I came back from my walk two lumps went into the freezer and I rolled out the third one and put it on the tray for its second proofing.
Later on this evening I assembled my pizza and put it in the oven to cook. And it was delicious too.
But here’s something that I rarely do. In fact, I can’t think when I last did it.
Usually I know exactly what my appetite will be and I make my food accordingly. My pizza is always a standard, regular size.
But tonight, about a third of it went into the bin. I quite simply couldn’t finish it and that’s something that has rarely, if ever happened to me before. It’s not like me at all to be off my food and not even want to save it for breakfast.
What’s happening here?
Anyway that’s for another day as I’m off to bed right now. Radioing early in the morning so I need to be at my best. But not much chance of that.