Tag Archives: quebec

Tuesday 30th May 2023 – HAVING SAID THAT …

… I wouldn’t do any Harry Potter impersonations last night, I ended up in a swimming costume last night. It had taken ages to actually make it fit and to put it on properly. For some reason I began to have a panic attack while I was wearing it. I couldn’t understand why because there was nothing out of the ordinary or unusual at all about it.

That make a change, doesn’t it? Panic attacks when I’m asleep don’t happen all that often. I can only recall a dozen or so in total.

And while we’re on the subject of dreams … “well, one of us is” – ed … while I was going through the back-up disk a week or so ago, I came across all of the notes that I’d made when this project first started. Right back in 2000, as it happens. It’ll be interesting to see who was featuring in the voyages back in those days and what were the interesting topics that came to mind.

This morning was another morning when I was awake and up and about before the alarm went off. Well, maybe I ought to says “awake” in inverted commas because while the spirit was willing, the flesh was somewhat weaker.

Once I’d had the medication and checked the mails and messages I had a listen to the dictaphone because there was some other stuff on there too. I obtained a part-time job working in a library last night. I just turned up on the Monday evening when I was supposed to be there . There was a girl at the counter so I introduced myself. She asked me if I’d be comfortable stamping the books when they were either returned or handed out. I smiled and laughed “I could just about manage that, I reckon”, put my stuff down and went round behind the desk to sit there and start work.

And then later on I stepped back into that dream back in the library. I was extremely busy and having to organise some girl’s research etc. As well as that I was swamped with phone calls of people making other kinds of enquiries.

Most of the rest of the day has been spent sorting through the photos from my journey around North America in 2017. It’s going to take an age to sort them all out, and that’s before I even think about writing the notes.

Today I’ve sailed the Gulf of St Lawrence, been to see my friend in St Johns, driven all the way across Newfoundland and across Labrador, and I’m currently in a motel on the edge of the city of Québec which I still think is THE MOST BEAUTIFUL CITY IN NORTH AMERICA – but that’s probably because it’s the most “European-medieval” city on the continent

And that reminds me. I wrote my magnum opus on the city of Québec in 2012 and I’ve been there several times since then. So I must have tons more notes and photos that need adding in.

The high winds that we had yesterday had dropped this morning so I sorted out the glass and plastic rubbish ready to take out. So evidently, once everything was sorted out and ready to go, the wind got up again. Just gale force today though, not hurricane force like yesterday so I decided to brave it.

It’s not easy because I’m not steady on my feet even with crutches and the bags of rubbish acted as sails that blew me around the front of the building. It was quite a struggle to go there, empty my stuff and then stagger back.

The physiotherapist came round this evening too. He’s beginning to be concerned that the progress that I made over the early part of the year has now ground to a halt and that there are no signs of further improvement

He’s not the only one. I was quite pleased about how things were going and I was optimistic that I could pick up my bed and walk before too long. But it doesn’t seem to be going to end like that at all.

Tea tonight was a taco roll with some of the left-over stuffing from yesterday, accompanied by rice and veg. And as usual, the stuffing improves when left overnight.

There’s still some stuffing left but not a great deal. But last week I made some curry and froze it in half-portions and I’ll add the leftover stuffing into one of those along with anything else that’s lingering in the fridge

And I must remember to put some lentils in the slow cooker when I go to bed tomorrow. I’m going to have a bash at making a lasagne on Thursday and I need some stuff to go with the pasta and cheese sauce.

Yes, a cheese sauce. Now that I can find a reasonable supply of vegan cheese I intend to make the most of it

Tuesday 9th March 2021 – WE’VE BEEN HAVING …

yacht english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall… a nautical afternoon this afternoon. It seems that every man and his dog were out there doing some kind of maritime activity this afternoon.

So while you admire the yacht that went sailing by the headland at the Pointe du Roc this afternoon, I finished writing my notes last night, only to find that I couldn’t go off to sleep. In the end I gave it up as a bad job and carried on working on clearing duplicates out of the back-up drive.

It was after 01:30 when I finally went off to bed, which was not what I was planning on at all with an alarm call at 06:00 and a Welsh lesson on Zoom later in the morning.

trawler english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd while you admire another image of a trawler sailing past the headland towards the harbour in the wake of the yacht that we have just seen, I went to find out where I’d been during the night.

And a very welcome return to Zero who a couple of years ago used to accompany me on my travels on quite a regular basis but hasn’t been around for a while.

Last night I was taking her to a football match but it was the middle of the winter so we were putting on layers of clothes. She was dressed in a big heavy coat. When it was time to go I found that I was dressed in some kind of yellow thermal tights but I’d forgotten to put on my trousers so I had to go back. That was annoying because I’d been urging her to hurry up and now she was ready, I wasn’t. Her father wasn’t all that keen on her going – I don’t know if it was because of me or because of the football but her mother was fine with the idea.

This morning, I wasn’t feeling anything like working. It was all that I could do to keep awake and I was really surprised that I’d even managed to crawl out of bed. As a result I was totally unprepared for my Welsh lesson and it didn’t pass very well at all. Most of the time was spent trying to keep awake.

It was a very late lunch too. Our Welsh lesson overran. I was ready for my sandwiches too by the time that we stopped. And to my dismay, the apples that I’d bought the other day haven’t survived.

After lunch I came in to start work but I fell asleep instead. And I was out for about an hour, comfortable on the chair in the office. That was disappointing but it wasn’t a surprise.

plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallMy afternoon walk wasn’t disturbed by neighbours or shopping too, but by a flat battery in the NIKON D500. As I went to take a photo of the people out on the Plat Gousset it just petered out.

And so I had to dash back into the apartment where I grabbed hold of the old NIKON D3000 and swap over the camera lens and then dash back out again for my photos.

And when I say “old” NIKON D3000 I do mean “old” as well. It was an end-of-series discontinued range that I bought in a hurry in QUEBEC IN MAY 2012 after I dropped the NIKON D5000 on a concrete floor and cracked the casing.

And to my surprise, it’s kept on going after all this and still producing some kind of acceptable results.

men fishing from zodiac english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAs I mentioned earlier, we were having a nautical afternoon today.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that last summer we were seeing here and there a bright yellow zodiac roaring around offshore. We seem to be in luck, or maybe it’s a sign that the summer is here, because the zodiac is back out there offshore.

There are two guys in there fishing – or, at least – one of the two guys is fishing. The second one is fixing his fishing line ready to cast off out to sea.

And I suppose that we’ll be back as we have been every year since I’ve been living here, watching hundreds of people fishing and catching nothing whatever at all.

There was nothing else doing out to sea off the end of the Pointe du Roc, so I walked around the corner to the viewpoint over the port.

fishing boats returning to port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallYou have probably noticed that the tide was quite a way in so the outer harbour is flooded.

We saw earlier one of the trawlers coming back into port and here is another one coming into the port, one of the crustacean boats with the roof over the hold to keep the seagulls from stealing the catch. There’s already one of the boats there at the Fish Processing Plant unloading its catch.

The two fishing boats that have been moored there for the past couple of days here seem to have moved on today, but the same four boats in the chantier navale are still there, and look as if they are going to be there for a while as well.

thora port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallA new arrival in the port today though is Thora, one of the two Jersey freighters.

They seem to be finding plenty of work going on right now and that’s good news for the port. We need all of the business that we can find.

Back here at the apartment I had my coffee and coffee cake and finally settled down to do some work. I’ve managed to edit 20-odd photos this afternoon, some of which involved doing some research and involved the help of a few people in a Group on a Social Networking site who were able to identify a twisting pile of metal as a Bedford JSL.

Such is the power of the internet.

During a few pauses here and there I’ve been going through the duplicate files on the back-up drive and what with last night’s “overtime” and the bits and pieces that I’ve done today, I now have 927GB free. But of course, the farther ahead that I advance, the slower the work becomes.

There was the hour on the guitars of course, and then a hurried tea – stuffed peppers with rice and the last of the jam pie- because there was football on the internet again – Barry Town v Penybont in the JD Cymru League.

It’s easy to see why there seem to be three clubs – TNS, Bala Town and Connah’s Quay Nomads – way out in front of the League because this match was really pretty aimless.

These two teams are fourth and fifth, and Penybont won the match with a deflected shot out of nothing from 20 yards, but apart from that neither team ever looked like doing anything. Long, aimless balls out of defence and plenty of misplaced passes, quite a contrast to the skill that was clearly evident on Saturday when TNS played Bala Town.

There’s a huge gap in skill between the top three and those following on behind at quite a distance.

Right now though I’m off to bed. I won’t have a long sleep tonight, thanks to the football, so I probably won’t be on form tomorrow either. But we’ll see how we go. At least the backlog of photos seems to be shifting and that’s something to appreciate, I suppose.

Friday 5th February 2021 – I’M NOT GOING …

… to tell you about what time I awoke this morning.

Just let me say that I would have been dismayed if I had awoken at this time on a Sunday, never mind a day when I’m supposed to be working.

What was even worse was that I’d made every effort to have an early start, even down to going to bed as early as 22:30. But it just didn’t seem to work. However, it did mean that there was plenty of time to go walkabout during the night. And that I most certainly did.

I was having to go to Court for something or other and a friendly accountant said that he had come to help me so we arranged to meet at 17:30 in a local pub. Some solicitor said that he would help me first as well. I was talking to the solicitor and we arranged that he would come round and photograph all of my cars to prove that I was just driving around in old bangers “as long as you don’t photograph the fact that not a single one is taxed” because things really were tough and all these vehicles that I had weren’t taxed. Nerina and I were doing some cleaning or tidying up and I had sat down for a breather and in walked this accountant. I’d completely forgotten about him. He’d brought a pile of forms from the Musicians Union – apparently to be a musician you needed a licence and it cost £55,000. Of course there was no chance whatever of me paying that. He started to ask me questions all about the group – what songs did we play? Where did we practise? How often did we perform? He gave me a huge list of songs “do you play any of these?”. I made some facetious remark “these must be the only members of the Musicians Union then, the groups in this list”. All the time Nerina was wandering around – we were in the Rockwood in Alton Street by the way at the time and I’m sure that she was totally bewildered as to who this guy was and what I was doing and why I wasn’t helping with the tidying up or anything. This conversation continued more on the lines of filling in these Musicians Union forms than any help that he was going to give me for the issues that I was having.

Later on I’d gone to meet TOTGA – she was working for another taxi company in Crewe but in the old Up The Junction building. I went into her office but she was actually downstairs and I could hear all of the talk that was going on through the radio monitor. They were talking about all the financial affairs of the company going wrong. Basically they had committed to buy a new fleet of taxis right at the time of the Miners Strike when there wasn’t much money circulating around and people in Aberystwyth who had undertaken to buy the previous taxis let them down. I ended up talking to a guy who had been a driver for me, a young guy. He’d written a book and was going through the book with me telling me all the issues that this taxi company was having. The boss of the company came up. he came up with Derek Guyler who had been some kind of office manager. Guyler was arguing for a pay rise for the drivers and a taxi to take the kids to school. The guy running it was extremely angry and laying into Guyler verbally about all kinds of stuff so I thought that this was the moment to leave before he turned on me. I went downstairs but lost my way and ended up in the basement. I had to climb out through a window onto the track. There were 2 boys who were very keen to find out what I’d been doing so I explained and they wandered off in their direction and I wandered off in mine.

Later still we were all off to Blackpool or some seaside resort – it wasn’t Blackpool. I was with an old couple and we rented a room and another small room for me. She cooked a meal which was disgusting but I ate some but not all of it. They went off to buy some tickets for a performance but I stayed behind to try to clean up everywhere because it was really dirty. I was doing fine and I had my 3 cats there. A little girl came in to give me a hand. We were laughing and joking and I had a close look at her – she was a lot older than she ought to be, a bit like a Jimmy Clitheroe kind of character. We were laughing and joking while I was cleaning this up. Then my partner turned up – I can’t remember if it was Cécile or Nerina. A while before this I’d been talking to a guy who was a bit of a singer – we’d been in a club somewhere preparing things for a concert and he was telling me about his stage performances. I thought “yes, well I’ve heard all this before”. When this couple came back they brought piles of people with them, all an extended family. My partner was there. We all had to go outside because this guy was going to give a concert. We all had to wait and we waited for hours. In the end they brought up some vehicles so that we could sit in these vehicles, American-type minibus things. He came out eventually and announced that he didn’t have a licence for the concert to take place on this particular stage so he was only allowed 2 minutes. In this 2 minutes he just told us about his future concerts and his career. I thought “yes, well, I’ve heard all of this before” and I wasn’t particularly impressed.

So welcome back to TOTGA who has been conspicuous by her absence for the last few weeks or so.

As you can imagine, with this really late start and all of this to type out, there wasn’t any time to do anything else before lunch. But there was still something to do – a friend of mine who is the “panicky” type has just learnt that her boyfriend has come down with Covid. She’s panicking about this so it’s been necessary to do something about it.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I had another good friend who went down with Covid along with her husband and son, although her daughter who shares the same facilities didn’t, and the infected ones all made a good recovery. I spent some time putting the two of them in touch with each other so that the one can reassure the other.

After lunch (more of my leek and potato soup with home-made bread) I caught up with a pile of correspondence. I’ve had a pile of e-mails hanging round here that needed answering and it was the plan to deal with them today and I really can’t postpone them any longer. And a couple were extremely lengthy too.

As well as that, two other issues reared their heads.

Firstly, Canada has closed its borders to cruise ships of over 100 passengers until Spring 2022. I’d been offered a place on an expedition for this Summer but I hadn’t said anything much about it because I thought it most unlikely that it will travel this year. And now, of course, I’m proved right – although it really was an odds-on certainty, this. I imagine that the cancelled people from 2020 and now 2021 will be offered first dibs at the voyage for 2022 so I wrote to the organisers to stake my claim for 2023, along with the necessary information. I’ll get to Axel Heiberg Island yet!

Secondly, I’ve sold another one of my photos. I used to sell a lot of them at one time and even had one on the front cover of an issue of “Now Toronto” 20 or so years ago but I’m being pushed further and further down the rankings by the more established agencies. The last one that I sold was of THE MEMORIAL TO GEORGE CARTWRIGHT 6 or so months ago which is used as a still IN A FILM.

This photo that has been bought today is of AN OLD COMMUNITY ON THE “FORGOTTEN COAST” OF QUEBEC.

In case anyone thinks that I’m blowing my own trumpet unnecessarily, I’m under no illusions. It’s not the quality of the images that is the selling point – it’s the fact that I’ve been to places where few other people have been and that my photos are easy to find.

And when they are found, they have my contact details on them. I’m very particular about that.

That all took me up to my afternoon walk

seagulls sitting on rock place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallIt was a really beautiful afternoon – it really was, and you can see from this photo of the rock just offshore here that there were a number of people enjoying it.

Not humans because, surprisingly there were very few taking advantage of the warm, sunny Spring-like day that we had today. I was dressed up for midwinter yet I could quite comfortably have gone round in my shirt sleeves had I so desired.

There was very little wind too and at long last the paths had dried out sufficiently so that in most places you could walk around without too much discomfort and mud.

cabin cruiser baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallJust now I did say that there were no humans out and about in the lovely weather. That’s not particularly accurate because there was someone out there offshore in his cabin cruiser having a little swan around.

He swanned off and so did I, because there wasn’t anything of any importance or note happening anywhere else.

However I did bump into the guy who organises the radio and we had quite a chat about this and that and a couple of little projects, one of which was particularly appealing to me because it involves one of my favourite musicians.

Back here I managed to drink my coffee without falling asleep, and I attacked the photos from Greenland in July 2019. I really must push on with those as much as I can.

Guitar practice was interesting because I found a better way to play the bass line to Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Down on the Corner” and with the acoustic guitar I worked out the chords to Tom Petty’s “Too Good To Be True” that I am keen to add to my little repertoire.

Tea was veggie balls with pasta and veg followed by apple pie and now having written my notes, I’m going to go to bed. “Must do better” is the phrase that comes to mind, although I wish I knew how. It’s all very well having some kind of problem and knowing that you have some kind of problem but when you don’t know what it is, it’s rather difficult to deal with it.

Monday 14th October 2019 – SOMETIMES IT’S VERY HARD …

… to say goodbye to people with whom one has been associated for so long, but today is the day that I hit the road, Jack (or Jacques, seeing that I’ll be heading towards Quebec).

4th September I arrived in New Brunswick and apart from 10 days or so clearing out my storage unit in Montreal and visiting family and friends in Ottawa I’ve been here ever since.

If I’m not careful I’ll be putting down roots next, and that will never do. I was born under a wandering star, as the old song went, and I’m destined to wander for the rest of my life until, making reference to a certain posting 6 or so weeks ago when I was still aboard The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour, Charon ferries me across the River Styx.

With it being Thanksgiving (which reminds me, Happy Thanksgiving to all of my Canadian family and friends and new readers, et Bonne Action de Grace a toute le monde francophone Canadien) we had another lie-in this morning. Nothing like as dramatic as yesterday’s. Not quite so early in bed, a small disturbance during the night, and raising myself from the Dead round about 08:45. But still, I’ll take that over almost any other night that I’ve had for quite some considerable time.

Eventually there was some noise coming from the rest of the house so I went in to join the (af)fray. We had a reasonably heavy brunch, nothing like the legendary Sunday one but a good one nevertheless, and then hung around chatting for ages. Everyone seemed to be in a very sociable mood today.

With me heading for the hills, I managed to make the printer fire up so I could print off all of my travel documents ready for the trip. Another task accomplished.

This afternoon people had tasks to do so I busied myself packing and having another play around on the bass guitar before I put it away in Strider where it will live for the next foreseeable future.

A curry was on the agenda for supper so for a change Hannah and I attacked it. For some reason that I don’t understand, it didn’t taste anything like as good as any previous one that I have made. I hope that I’m not losing my touch!

But as for my carrot soup, well, what more can I say? All of the leftover carrots (because there were tons of them) steamed slowly to warm them up, with bay leaves for added flavour, and then simmered gently for a while in coconut milk with ginger. Finally the bay leaves were removed and the whole lot given a ride around in the whizzer.

Totally delicious.

Finished packing, and leaving a few things behind such as my spare clothes and my deck shoes, because I seem to have acquired a Tupperware microwave fryer and a pile of CDs somewhere on my travels and it won’t all fit in, and then Rachel took me down to Irvings in Florenceville and the Maritime Atlantic bus.

21:15 it was scheduled to arrive, and at 21:15 arrive it did. And remind me never to travel on a Bank Holiday or thereabouts because it was packed and it was a struggle to find a seat. What I did find though was a backpack under the seat, apparently left behind by someone who had alighted earlier, so I took it down to the driver.

We eventually arrived at Riviere du Loup where we all change buses. It was cold, miserable, wet and rainy but nevertheless I had a chat to the driver. He comes up all the way from Moncton, sleeps in the hotel next door, and then drives all the way back the following day. Reminded me of my days with Shearings when I used to do an overnight run every Friday night from Manchester to Glasgow and Edinburgh and return the following day.

And while I was chatting, someone came around “has anyone seen a black backpack?” so I passed him on to the driver.

So now I’m sitting on a seat in a draughty windswept crowded waiting room here waiting for my bus to Montreal to arrive. I’m reaching the end of this phase of my journey and who knows where I’m going to end up next?

As Winston Churchill once said after the British flight from the Germans at Dunkirk, “this is not the beginning of the end. It is merely the end of the beginning”.

Wednesday 18th September 2019 – HATS OFF …

… to Strider!

Here we are, sitting in a dingy room in a dingy motel in rue Sherbrooke Est. Old, tired, dusty, tatty and cheap. But that’s enough about me, let’s talk about the motel room. And you’ve guessed it. Old, tired, dusty, tatty and cheap.

In fact, in all honesty, you have to consider that it’s a motel in Montreal right by a metro station, with ample free parking and all conveniences (even a guitar shop, in which I’ve already made my presence felt) not a cock-stride away. And the fact that my three nights here are costing me less than $CAN 90:00 per night tax in, it’s a deal that I won’t find anywhere else in the city.

Even the local coppers won’t have too far to come to find me. They are in the building next door.

It’s the same landlady who was here last time I stayed. She didn’t remember me (which was a surprise) but I remembered her. The type who would have fought the Iroquois single-handedly out of this plot of land 400 years ago and she’s been here ever since.

Last night though was exciting. A reasonably early night (for a change) and a decent sleep, with no less than 4 dictaphone entries that I might not know anything about as yet.

Or maybe I do, because there is certainly one that is running around in my head and has been ever since I awoke. And I wonder if it’s on the machine. Basically, I was joined on my travels at one point by a person who has featured on my voyages on many occasions. And I’ll spare her blushes by not naming her because I have reason to believe that she reads these notes.

And you are going to ask me if I got the girl. And I shall say that after much perseverence and fighting off distraction, then I reckon. Not as intensely as I have done on some other occasions, as regular readers of this rubbish might recall, but nevertheless. And what wouldn’t I have given to have had another half-hour’s sleep in order to make sure that it was nailed on completely and thoroughly?

But that’s the trouble with these nocturnal rambles. They go off at tangents at all the wrong moments.

One theory that we were working on during this project years ago was whether there was a subconscious trigger somewhere that went off to protect you from harm. And there have been several nocturnal voyages, including a few just recently, where such a phenomenon might be identified.

This led us onto another project – that about the “sixth sense”. Intuition, second sight, call it what you will, it was a vital tool when you were struggling to stay alive in prehistorical times. Those who had it were the great survivors and they bred children who would have an even greater perception. Und so weiter.

It’s fallen out of use now but it’s still there and we worked on developing it – like walking around a room in the dark and thinking about what was where in our way. Or staring at people walking past and watching them suddenly turn around. All of that kind of thing. And, more importantly, trusting your intuition and your instincts.

Strangely enough, a while back I actually had this talk with the heroine of last night’s voyage. Do you rememb

So we had the school run despite the fact that I misplaced the key to the Golf, and then came back and picked up Strider.

Down to the depot to say my goodbyes, and also to change my hospital appointment. The list of tasks is building up rapidly and I still have things to do on and after when I should be having my blood transfusion.

So I’ve put it back another week. Zoe is worried that it might make me more ill than I already am, but ask me if I care.

By 10:04 I was fuelled up to the brim and joining the Trans-Canada Highway at Florenceville. And just before 15:00 my time (14:00 Quebec time) I was pulling into the Irving Truck Stop at Levis at the foot of the big bridge at Quebec.

454 kms non-stop in just under 5 hours. So hats off to Strider who performed excellently. There was well over a quarter of a tank of fuel left too and that is even better.

Fuelling him up, having a pit stop and finding a Subway for a sandwich – all of that took about an hour (never been in such a slow Subway) and then back on the highway.

294 kms non-stop and here I am. And what pleased me more than anything was that I actually recognised the streets of Montreal where I was supposed to be. And that’s not something that happens every day either.

Pizza Pizza has vegan pizzas as I explained last year, and the Metro supermarket next door produced some food stuff and spruce beer (at long last) so here I am and here I’m staying. For a few days at least.

Tomorrow I have the painful task of throwing away the rest of my stuff in my storage locker here. I’ll be a little richer in cash but a lot poorer in spirit. it really is the end of an era.

Thursday 18th July 2019 – I REALLY DO WONDER …

… when I’m actually going to have a really good night’s sleep because last night was yet another depressing night as far as I’m concerned. Once more I was awake at some kind of silly time and had to go to the bathroom. Round about 04:00 I suppose.

After that, I managed to go back to sleep again for an hour and a half or so but that was my lot. Mind you, I wasn’t able to pull myself out of bed at any reasonable time, beating the third alarm call by a mere matter of minutes.

We were entering Prins Christians Sund at the foot of Greenland (which means that we won’t be going round Cape Farewell) so I watched the manoeuvres. It’s nature’s answer to the Corinth Canal and it is magnificent. In places no more than 500 metres wide and bordered by cliffs that could be as much as 2200 feet.

After breakfast every one of us was up on deck in the magnificent weather watching the spectacular scenery. And we didn’t know where to look because everywhere was so wonderful. And when you did see something that you would describe as “the most beautiful view that I have ever seen. I won’t ever see anything this beautiful for as long as I live” then 5 minutes later, you would see something even more so.

We had cliffs, rocks, glaciers, icebergs, waterfalls, a seal, a tiny village and a few men in speedboats checking fishing traps. A kayaker and a yacht too made it quite a day. I even picked up a wi-fi signal so I had to put my phone onto aeroplane mode before I started to rack up a large bill.

But just my luck. There were two tutorials that I wanted to attend – a Greenlandic language class and the photography group. And as fate would have it as usual, they were both at the same time. I ended up with the photographers and we all had a really good time.

Our expedition leader eventually found a place for us to go ashore, but not without help from a local. And it was the fifth one that he had tried.

All the others were completely unsuitable for one reason or other, and as Jane in a zodiac was pondering what to do and where to go, a very vocal local yokel in a fishing boat came by to see what was the problem.

He listened to Jane for a couple of minutes and then pointed over to a rocky shelf in the distance. “Why don’t you go over there?”.

Landing on this rocky ledge was something of a challenge and then there was a hell of a climb up to anywhere that had a pretence of being level.

But it was well worth the effort in the end. Strawberry MooseStrawberry Moose came with me and he enjoyed himself, being photographed in several places. And we had wild flowers, tiny trees and a waterfall.

The waterfall was spectacular. Definitely the highlight of the walk as far as I was concerned. It fell all the way down in a gentle gradient from a hanging valley over various steps. At one point it had carved a deep channel into the granite bedrock but a flood had brought along a huge boulder that had dammed the channel so the water was cascading around it.

By the time that I returned to the ship I was exhausted. So a hot shower and a clothes wash, followed by a mug of tea and a good relax soon warmed me up.

At the evening meal they were looking for volunteers for a Francophone table so Rosemary and I joined up. Poor Rosemary – it’s the first time she’s really heard a Québecois accent and did not find it easy to come to terms with the vocabulary and sentence construction.

This evening I was out on deck for a while and I’ve now made it 152 photos for the day – a new record I reckon. But it was well worth the effort.

We have now left the shelter of the fjord and are now in the open sea on the west coast of Greenland, and the ship is swaying about rather more than somewhat in the waves and wind. So I’m off to bed and I hope that I can finally have a decent night’s sleep.

I need it.

Sunday 12th May 2019 – I REMEMBER …

… saying yesterday that I was hoping for a good night’s sleep for a change;

And so I’m more-than-satisfied with 10:25. That will suit me nicely, thank you.

Plenty of time for going off on a little voyage during the night. Something happened last night that a group of us was out looking for a lorry. We eventually came across it – an old late-1930s British Army 2-tonne lorry that was hidden up an alleyway. We quickly unloaded it and I took it off to hide it. Someone asked me where I’d put it and I replied that I’d put it in my workshop next to my Cortinas. This person wondered how I’d managed it because that was full of all kinds of stuff, but I explained that I’d tidied it up and moved things around (however unlikely that might seem). I was round then at some woman’s house getting my things ready and it had taken me a while and I was running late. I was sorry that I hadn’t had time to go to see a girl who lived in the neighbourhood and on whom I was keen and I didn’t have time. The woman suggested that I ring her and merely say “hello” and I could see how the land lies. She might even slip round for a moment.
But somewhere in all of this a girl had asked me if I fancied a new car. I replied that a Jaguar would suit me nicely so she explained that all I needed to do was to go to a flower shop and place an order for a certain type of flower. There was an extremely long and complicated script to the way in which I had to ask and she endeavoured to coach me, but I couldn’t get the hang of it. In the end I told her that we would both go in together and instead of teaching me the script she could simply say it to the shop owner and save the trouble.

As a result of all of this, any plans that I might (or might not) have had all went gang agley.

What was even worse was that the nearest football match was about 30 kms away and while I might have travelled that far to see a game when I lived in the Auvergne, things are somewhat different now that I live here;

But I’ve not been idle. Not by any means. I’ve spent all of the day working on the photos for the trip to Canada in 2015 and they are now completely up-to-date.

So that’s another project finished and I’m pleased about that.

The next plan is to look at the pages for 2016, and then for 2017. I’m pretty certain that for the earlier years all of them have been done.

Once they are done, I’m going to work on some kind of opus magnus about Montreal – something similar to what I did about Quebec.

However, that’s a long way off, I reckon.

There were the usual interruptions. Lunch, of course, and later on I had my afternoon walk.

yacht baie de mont st michel marker buoy granville manche normandy franceThere was quite a lot of action on the sea this afternoon.

There were all kinds of naval craft out there, including several yachts such as this one here.

And do you notice the marker buoys in the water just ahead of it? It makes me wonder whether all of these marker buoys that we see occasionally in the water aren’t something do do with the yachting school – marking out a route or a limit maybe.

speedboat pleasure boat seagulls granville manche normandy franceAs well as the yachts out there, we had speedboats and cabin cruisers too, such as these here offshore from St Martin de Bréhal in this photo, which I cropped out of a long-distance shot and enlarged.

I’m not sure what the two boats nearest the camera are doing, but if you look closely you can see a horde of seagulls flapping around in between them. So there’s clearly something interesting going on there.

But look at the colours of the sea today. It was beautiful this afternoon.

beach plat gousset casino place marechal foch granville manche normandy franceAnd all of the people were enjoying themselves too.

There were hordes of people down there on the Place Maréchal Foch and heading off to enjoy the sunshine along the Plat Gousset.

Not too many on the beach today though. It might have been a nice day but the wind wasn’t making it so warm as it might have been. We might have to wait a few weeks for that, if it’s going to happen at all, for this year is turning out to be something of a disappointment.

crowds of walkers on stairs granville manche normandy franceI said though, didn’t I, that there were crowds of people out there today.

On my travels over the last couple of days I’d seen strange signs appearing all over town advertising “routes” and I’d been wondering what was going on. But my curiosity was satisfied this afternoon when I saw hordes of people wandering around in organised groups following the signs.

The days when I could tag along behind and follow them are long gone. I don’t move about as quickly as I used to do, and I’ve had it when it comes to stairs of course

microlight granville manche normandy franceSo that’s the land and sea from this afternoon dealt with. We haven’t said anothing about the air yet.

And that was quite busy today too. We didn’t see our autogyro today but there was this little microlight flying around above us, presumably from the airstrip over beyond Donville-les-Bains.

But taking this photo involved something of an athletic feat because this is one occasion where the monopod gets in the way. Taking photos at anything more than about 20° means that I have to bend down underneath the camera. At about 60° I end up like the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

jersey coast close up granville manche normandy franceThe evening though was probably the most magnificent that I have experienced since I’ve been living here.

The wind had dropped and the haze had gone, which meant that I could see for miles. I was seeing things with the naked eye that I struggled to see with the telephoto lens. It was a perfect evening for photography, as this long-distance shot of Jersey will confirm.

As I have said before … “and you will say again” – ed … it’s very hard to imagine that this shot is of objects that are at least 54 kilometres (31 miles) away. And it’s picked up the buoy in mid-channel really well.

brittany coast paimpol franceBut 54 kilometres are nothing at all compared to what I was seeing and what the camera was picking up this evening.

A rather speculative shot in the distance following a compass heading has picked out the hills at the back of the Brittany coast out between St Brieuc and Paimpol, and they are at least 80 kilometres away.

I spent quite a considerable time out there and too plenty of photos. They are appended to this blog entry and I’ve made a couple of notes of where they might be.

It really was beautiful and it’s a shame that there were so few people out there enjoying it.

broken eggshell boulevard vaufleury granville manche normandy franceOn my way back to the apartment, my attention was distracted yet again.

I’ve no idea what drew my attention to it, but at the foot of a tree in the boulevard Vaufleury I saw this broken egg. It’s clearly not a hens-egg shell discarded by a tourist because it’s a completely different shape and size.

A couple of people have mentioned to me that they had seen chicks about this year earlier than usual, and it looks as if they might be right.

birds nest hidden in tree granville manche normandy franceWhere there are broken egg-shells, there would have to be a nest in the immediate vicinity.

And the tree at the base of which the egg was found would seem to be a good place to look. Sure enough, carefully entangled into the branches of this tree is a very discreet nest.

It’s so well camouflaged that it was impossible to take any sort of photograph of it. And so I’ve no idea whose it is or even how many people might be in it.

And I see that I’ve forgotten to mention tea. Vegan pizza of course followed by apple pie and coconut sorbet. Delicious. The sad thing is that tomorrow will see the last slice of pie.

And shame as it is to say it, I was away with the fairies for 20 minutes too, despite my good sleep. I ought to be ashamed of myself.

So now it’s bedtime. Not as early as I would have wanted, but early enough.

Ready for a bit more hard work next week.

east jersey coast granville manche normandy france
east jersey coast granville manche normandy france

close up jersey coast granville manche normandy france
close up jersey coast granville manche normandy france

close up brittany coast paimpol france
close up brittany coast paimpol france

brittany coast cap frehel france
brittany coast cap frehel france

close up brittany coast cap frehel france
close up brittany coast cap frehel france

close-up brittany coast st cast le guildo france
close-up brittany coast st cast le guildo france

brittany coast st malo france
brittany coast st malo france

close up brittany coast st malo france
close up brittany coast st malo france

hauteville sur mer manche normandy france
hauteville sur mer manche normandy france

close-up river mouth marker lighthouse windfarm manche normandy france
close-up river mouth marker lighthouse windfarm manche normandy france

river mouth marker lighthouse windfarm  manche normandy france
river mouth marker lighthouse windfarm manche normandy france

normandy coast barneville carteret manche normandy france
normandy coast barneville carteret manche normandy france

close up normandy coast barneville carteret manche normandy france
close up normandy coast barneville carteret manche normandy france

lighthouse normandy coast manche normandy france
lighthouse normandy coast manche normandy france

baie de mont st michel pointe de carolles cabanon vauban granville manche normandy france
baie de mont st michel pointe de carolles cabanon vauban granville manche normandy france

baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france
baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france

close up baie de mont st michel pointe de carolles cabanon vauban granville manche normandy france
close up baie de mont st michel pointe de carolles cabanon vauban granville manche normandy france

cancale brittany coast france
cancale brittany coast france

close up cancale brittany coast france
close up cancale brittany coast france

close up terrelabouet near cancale brittany coast france
close up terrelabouet near cancale brittany coast france

st pair sur mer baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france
“st pair sur mer baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france

brittany coast baie de mont st michel france
brittany coast baie de mont st michel france

close up brittany coast mont st michel france
close up brittany coast mont st michel france

Friday 26th April 2019 – I’VE HAD …

… another miserable day today.

Not because I’ve been tired – in fact I’ve managed to go the whole day without even the slightest hint of crashing out – but more to the fact that I couldn’t summon up the energy to do anything productive whatever.

I’d had another bad night too, tossing and turning for most of it. And yet I’d managed to go on a few mazy, amazing voyages.

We had been on a ship, a big one, in the South China Sea somewhere and it sank. Three of us were washed overboard and we swam in this sea for quite some time – days, it seemed, – until we were washed ashore on this populated island. We had to climb over a fence and found ourselves in someone’s back garden. The woman had a big sprawly house that had started off as a small cabin and had been enlarged with additional rooms haphazardly as time had gone on. She fed us and said we could stay the night. Next morning I went for a walk around. The guy had this beautiful large yacht and it was clear that he spent a lot of time looking after it. he was talking about going around the Arctic on it and I agreed that this would be the right kind of craft to go up there and he wasn’t the ordinary run-of-the-mill Indonesian or Filipino fisherman, he cares about his boat and done his research etc. We ended up walking through a typical suburban English housing estate but a huge weird animal like a rhinoceros but with a weird head with all kinds of appendages stuck on it. I grabbed my camera and took a photo but the flash didn’t work so it didn’t come out and the animal disappeared before I could try another shot. I went back to the house to ask about staying another night but she said “no, it’s full”. So I asked if there was anywhere else I could stay. She replied that there was bound to be somewhere else in the town. She then cooked me a meal and they asked me questions “do you eat ‘x’, do you eat ‘y’? How long is it since you’ve eaten ‘z’? Did you eat it when you were a kid?” all this kind of thing. But now it was becoming dark and I needed to find a place to stay and, more importantly, a way to get off this island and back to wherever it is that I’m supposed to be
A little later I was with a woman and I can’t remember what it was that I was doing but we’d been detained by someone, a young smallish guy with black hair and a black beard. He said that he had been working for the CIA and should have been an agent but they said that with his perfect memory he ought to be a salesman. He showed a photo of this woman coming out of a department store. This immediately filled her with horror. She looked around and there was this young lad behind her smiling away. He said “do you remember this story?” and produced a newspaper article showing that she had been arrested in it for something or other. By now she was in tears, making some kind of totally incoherent statement. he then produced some kind of small light-blue patterned cushion and said “you always leave your calling card behind in places like this, don’t you?”, waving the cushion around and that put her into even more tears.

I awoke several times during all of this going on, and eventually went back to sleep to step right back into, not the one where I was with that woman, but right back to being on the island again, in exactly where I had stepped out a while before. I don’t recall ever doing quite that before. But anyway I did end up stopping the night at that place on the island and I remember undressing to go to bed. I had my wet-weather overtrousers on so took them off, got into bed and went to sleep. Next morning I was up early and started to dress. Everyone else was getting up and this young girl came in to say hello, and a few other people. The house was busy pretty quickly. I ended up sitting ona bed with a huge collection of cats sitting on me, first a black one and a ginger one, then a white one and all different ones taking it in turns to sit on my knee for a stroke. I heard the buzzer on my phone so I looked and saw a message “your breakfast ready at 09:15”. I thought that I’d better finish dressing. These two women came in and went to a cupboard fetching out little phials of stuff. They game one to me and said “this will do for you”. I worked out that it was shampoo and it hit me that they were “suggesting” that I take a shower. I wanted to finish dressing but I couldn’t find my trousers. the plastic overtrousers were there but not the normal ones.

The alarms went off at 06:00 and so on but I couldn’t care less. 08:25 was when I awoke. But that’s not at all the same as saying that that was the time that I left my stinking pit. Not at all.

So a rather late start to the day, and once I’d composed myself, I attacked a few of the dictaphone notes from just recently that had built up on the dictaphone. And that took me most of the morning too and I don’t know why.

Lunch was inside again, with the start of the last batch of home-made hummus out of the freezer. It’s just as delicious as it was the day that I made it too.

After lunch I made a start on the outstanding mountain of photos that need to be dealt with. And the more I deal with, the more there seems to be to deal with.

foot forward bicycles trailer solar panels granville manche normandy franceThere was a brief stop of my walk around the Pointe du Roc in the wind. On the car park were a couple of people on those weird foot-first bicycles.

One of them was towing a trailer on which were two 110-watt solar panels, so I went to have a chat with the rider. It’s an electrically-assisted bike and the panels charge up the batteries while he’s cycling.

On a good day they can give about one and a half charges to the bank of batteries so that’s probably a range of about 30 miles.

But I don’t get the trailer idea though, unless it’s for the luggage. I would have been tempted to go for a roof over the bike and put the panels on that.

The Quebec flag on the front bike is of no significance. The people on board came from La Rochelle.

Back here I continued with the photos in a very desultory fashion until tea time. That was a really delicious steamed veg and falafel in a really tasty cheese sauce. One of the best that I’ve ever made.

land rover winch rue notre dame granville manche normandy franceMy evening walk was interrupted by a collision with a neighbour. We had a lengthy chat about this and that.

And as I continued on my way I was interrupted yet again. Parked in the rue Notre Dame was one of the commercial lorry-type of Land Rovers but what caught my eye about it was this beautiful 12-volt winch.

I have a 12-volt electric winch that I was going to fit onto the Kubota tractor to winch logs and things like that around the farm, but I never actually managed to get round to fitting it.

In fact, there were a lot of things down there that I never got around to doing.

As a result of all these delays I almost missed the start of tonight’s football.

It’s the final round of matches in the Welsh Premier League tonight and Bala Town were playing Caernarfon Town live on the internet. Caernarfon played for the first 15 minutes as if they were asleep, and during that time Bala had scored a goal and missed two or three total sitters.

It took 33 minutes for Caernarfon to threaten the Bala goal, and then the match livened up.

The second half was a wonderful advert for Welsh Premier football, and for the final 15 minutes Caernarfon were camped in the Bala Town half and although they didn’t manage to equalise, they hit the woodwork and and a couple of other good chances too.

Down south in the manth between Barry and Newtown, Newtown didn’t do enough to overhaul Caernarfon so that gives Caernarfon home advantage in the playoffs for the vacant place in the Europa League next season. That’s not bad for a team that was only promoted to the Welsh Premier League this season, and it’s all down to the fact that while they might not be the most skilful players in the league they have a magnificent team spirit.

It’ll also be interesting to see how Noah Edwards plays next season. I didn’t think of him as anything extra-ordinary at the start of the season, but as the season has gone on, the better he’s become. If he continues this progression next season he might become another Henry Jones or Callum Morris or kayne McLaggon.

It’s shopping tomorrow so I’m off to bed right now. It won’t be an early night so I’ll probably crash out in the afternoon but that’s par for the course these days.

sea on rocks baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france
sea on rocks baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france

waves sea wall baie de mont st michel port de granville harbour manche normandy france
waves sea wall baie de mont st michel port de granville harbour manche normandy france

yacht baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france
yacht baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france

mussel beds donville les bains manche normandy france
mussel beds donville les bains manche normandy france

Thursday 11th October 2018 – I’VE BEEN OUT …

cabourg calvados normandy france… today,

Josée fancied a drive out to sit on a beach and was attracted by the sound of Cabourg, the summer home of Marcel Proust at the turn of the 20th Century.

So boldly going where I don’t ever recall having been before but I bet you any money that I have, because at one time or another either with Shearings or with Nerina I’ve worked my way along the whole coast of Northern France, for as Proust himself once famously said, “remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were”.

Thus Caliburn, Josée and I set off for the seaside.

Much to my amazement, I had a reasonably comfortable sleep last night and if I did go anywhere on my travels I really don’t remember. But whztever, I was up early, medicated and attacking the web pages for my voyage on the Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour long before Josée had even shown a leg.

As a reslt of my new-found energy I now have two amended pages – one web page with lots of stuff on it and another oage which is day two of my blog which although had been published a while back, now has some photos on it..

After breakfast Josée had the idea of going to sample the local products such as cheese, sausage and the like. Of course, she won’t find any of that around here in my apartment so we duly set sail into the town.

A rather large carrier bag and a coffee later, we found ourselves back in the apartment making butties for the route.

noah ark villedieu les poeles manche normandy franceIt’s about a two-hour drive to Cabourg (and more if you go through the centre of Caen, if you stop to do a little shopping and also if you stop for a bathroom)

And at one of the places where we stopped for a comfort break, we found that our biblical friend Noah was also there making a comfort break too.

I couldn’t resist taking a photograph to prove that he had been there.

As a result of all of this it was about 15:30 that we arrived in Cabourg.

trotting horses exercising plage de cabourg beach normandy franceAs the sky clouded over we ate our rather late lunch on the beach watching the horses and carriages exercising.

There’s a race track not too far from here and it seems as if trotting is quite the thing there judging by how they were exercising the horses today.

Wet sand is pretty good for exercise because it builds up the muscles of the horses and when they run on dry sand they have much more physical strength at their disposal.

josée constant plage de cabourg beach franceAfter lunch Josée decided to go for a paddle in the sea.

Of course it’s probably far warmer than where I last put my feet in the sea – at Etah in Greenland about 1300 kms from the North Pole, but nevertheless I stayed on dry land and watched her enjoy herself.

She told me that it was quite warm in there (comparatively speaking but of course she is from Québec) but I’ll take her word for that.

brittany ferries ouistreham caen portsmouth normandy franceI was far more interested in the activities down the coast.

We aren’t all that far from Ouistreham which is the ferry port for Caen and there are some big ships that sail out of there on their way to the UK.

There was one in the port when we arrived but at 16:30 flat it took off and set sail. I took a good photo of it, and also a good photograph of a seagull who decided to come and join in the fun.

cabourg houlgate calvados normandy franceTHere was still time to take one or two more photos of the area.

The towns down along the coast looked as if they might be likely subjects and while Le Havre, although well visible, was too fr away to come out well, the seaside resort of Houlgate didn’t have the same issues.

That has come out quite well despite the weather conditions because by now it was starting to rain.

It rained almost as far as Caen but then we were stuck in a traffic queue. That took a while to clear so we were later than anticipated. And we had the usual issue at the toll on the autoroute where they wanted to charge me for Class 2 instead of Class 1.

Back here it had been a beautiful day with blue sky so Josée went fpr a walk in the evening twilight while I attacked a few more things to do. And then we had tea.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that in 2012 I had been to a place in Québec called Harrington Harbour and I had spoken about a film that had been made there.

Josée actually knew the film so we found it on the internet and we sat down and watched most of it until she retired. And I quite enjoyed it, as well as recognising many places that I remembered.

But there was one thing that struck me about the film.

The “Doctor Lewis” is from Montreal and when he is installed in what is easily the best house on the island, he is heard to complain to his girlfriend about how primitive and shabby it is.

What this is implying is that the 90% of all Canadian citizens, those who live withing 50 miles of the US border, don’t have the least idea about the quality of life out on the Bas Cote-Nord – the “Forgotten Coast” – never mind places like Resolute, Grise fiord and Pond Inlet.

And if that’s the case, they should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves

brittany ferries ouistreham caen portsmouth normandy france
brittany ferries ouistreham caen portsmouth normandy france

josée constant plage de cabourg beach france
josée plage de cabourg beach france

josée constant plage de cabourg beach france
josée plage de cabourg beach france

josée constant plage de cabourg beach france
josée plage de cabourg beach france

josée constant plage de cabourg beach france
josée plage de cabourg beach france

josée constant plage de cabourg beach france
josée plage de cabourg beach france

josée constant plage de cabourg beach france
josée plage de cabourg beach france

naval patrol vessel plage de cabourg beach france
naval patrol vessel plage de cabourg beach france

trotting horses exercising plage de cabourg beach normandy france
trotting horses exercising plage de cabourg beach normandy france

trotting horses exercising plage de cabourg beach normandy france
trotting horses exercising plage de cabourg beach normandy france

Thursday 30th August 2018 – I WISH …

… that banks would stop employing cashiers who wear low-cut tee-shirts. When this one today leant over the counter to give me my US dollars in a fashion so that we could count them together, I was totally distracted and I have no idea how much she gave me.

It’s definitely bad for my health, all of this.

Last night was slightly better. I slept all the way through until the racket from the fridge and the air-conditioning awoke me at about 04:00. But I soon went back to sleep until the alarms went off.

Breakfast for some reason didn’t start to be served until 08:00 so I had plenty of time to attack the notes from yesterday, and I’d even finished by the time that they opened the dining room, which is always encouraging.

Afterwards, I had a shower and washed my clothes from yesterday. I’ll be washing myself away at this rate if it keeps on like this.

A little later, I went out into town, stopping off for a bottle of water and to explore the shopping mall just down the road.

And why is shopping in North America so boring? Well, when you’ve seen one bunch of shops, you’ve seen a mall.

I’ll get my coat.

bibliotheque archives national de quebec montreal canada august aout 2018Down the road at the foot of the hill by the Parc Viger is this beautiful building.

Dating from the early years of the 20th Century, it was formerly the Montreal Technical School but today it’s the BANQ – the Bibiliothèque and Archives National de Québec.

I’ve taken shelter there from the rain once a few years ago, but I’ve never actually visited it. However, it is my destination for this morning.

bibliotheque archives national quebec montreal canada august aout 2018While you admire one of the most beautiful interiors that I have ever seen, let me tell you my story.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that a few years ago I wrote a pile of stuff about the Chemin du Roy, the road that was built by Pierre Robineau de Bécancour and Jean Eustache Lanouiller in he early 18th Century to link Montréal and Québec

I wrote at the time that I would one day have to visit the National Archives to find the original maps of the route, because much has been lost in the subsequent 300 years.

So here I am.

bibliotheque archives national quebec montreal canada august aout 2018But I’m in for a massive disappointment.

There are indeed record of the route, that’s for sure. But they are held at the archives site in Québec, not Montreal. So I need to go there instead.

And where are the BANQ archives in Québec? Why, on the campus at the University of Laval of course.

Ring any bells?

track layout gare viger montreal canada august aout 2018But all is not lost. It wasn’t a total waste of time.

I’ve been wondering for years about the track arrangements at the Gare Viger – how the platforms were actually laid out in relation to the buildings, and here I struck gold.

On the wall was an exhibition of the area, and one of the exhibits was a map of the area 100 years or so ago which showed everything that I wanted to know.

train sheds gare viger montreal canada august aout 2018The station was subsequently modernised and extended, and this meant that the track layout needed to be changed.

And while I wasn’t able to see a plan of how the station layout was configured afterwards, there was a handy aerial photograph hanging on the wall that showed at least some of the train sheds.

So I might not be any the wiser, but I’m certainly better-informed.

gare dalhousie montreal canada august aout 2018The Gare Viger dates from the turn of the 20th Century. But before this, there was an earlier Canadian Pacific railway station in the eastern side of the city – the Gare Dalhousie.

It was from here that the first trans-continental train set out in 1886 (and we’ve all noticed that, once again, the Maritime Provinces have been totally ignored by the official Canadian History. According to them, there’s nothing except eskimoes and indians east of Montreal and they don’t count for anything)

After the opening of the Gare Viger it became a freight depot and then an industrial warehouse. However it’s recently undergone a programme of renovation and they have done a good job here.

It’s now a circus school, and seeing as it was formerly a Canadian Pacific building, that is quite appropriate. Clowns should feel right at home here.

gullwing port de montreal harbour canada august aout 2018Down on the docks Oakglen is still there, as we might expect, but we have another bulk carrier down at the far end.

She’s the Gullwing, a Maltese bulk-carrier of 39000 tonnes and was built in 2011, although you might not think it.

She’s come in from Quebec after an exhausting tour around the Pacific, and were I going to visit my friend Rhys I would hop aboard because according to the port authorities her next stop is Charleston in South Carolina.

msc alyssa port de montreal harbour canada august aout 2018Also in the far end of the harbour was a huge MSC container ship.

No chance of reading its name from here unfortunately but according to the port records, there’s an MSC Alyssa in port and she seems to fit the bill.

She’s of 61500 tonnes and has arrived from Liverpool. And were I to want to go back to Leuven for my next hospital appointment I would immediately leap aboard, because her next port of call is Antwerp.

kids pirate ships port de montreal harbour canada august aout 2018The brats still aren’t back at school yet in Montreal, and so the children’s entertainment is in full swing.

I was impressed by the pirate ships, and even more impressed by the fact that the kids were being allowed to swing on ropes and slide down zip wires and all of that.

Can you imagine that in the stupid nanny-state UK where the ridiculous Health and Safety rules are such that you even need a fire safety certificate to wave a flag at a football match.

But I haven’t come here to waste my time.

seabourn quest port de montreal harbour canada august aout 2018I had it on good authority that there was a cruise ship in town ready to do a voyage down the St Lawrence and the Eastern seaboard of the USA, and so I went for a look.

And here we have the Seabourn Quest, all 32,500 tonnes of her and built as recently as 2011, which is quite modern for a cruise ship. We’ve seen some thoroughly ancient and disreputable ones in our time.

Unfortunately the quay was heavily guarded so if Strawberry Moose and I want to nip aboard, we’d have to buy some tickets.

juno marie port de montreal harbour canada august aout 2018The little tender alongside her is the Juno Marie.

She’s officially described as a tanker, and being small like this, her task is very likely to be to fuel up the larger ships in the docks as they arrive so that they are ready to set sail as quickly as possible.

There are a few of these little tankers in port and we’ve seen at least one of them before.

ursulines place d'youville montreal canada august aout 2018When I was here last October I’d finally managed to make it to the real centre of the city where it all was happening back in the 17th Century but I didn’t have time to go far.

One of the places that I hadn’t seen was the old Ursuline convent, or what remains of it.

This organisation of the “Grey Nuns” was founded here in Montreal in 1737 by Marguerite d’Youville and they ended up over time with quite an impressive range of buildings here.

ursulines pace d'youville montreal canada august aout 2018Their claim to fame is that they were the first female religious organisation to undertake the full range of social and charitable aims.

There had been many people engaged in these tasks before, and we’ve talked in the past about people like Marguerite Bourgeoys.

But they just had their little niche of interest, not the whole range.

ursulines place d'youville montreal canada august aout 2018There was a large hospital on the site too, as well as a very large and impressive church, if the old drawings are anything to go by.

But as the city expanded northwards and eastwards away from the river, and as the port of Montreal expanded along the banks, it was deemed necessary to make a new road network connecting the two.

And so the Ursulines had to go, and so did some of their buildings.

ursulines place d'youville montreal canada august aout 2018Luckily, not all was demolished. There are still some remains of the impressive buildings that are now classed as Historical Monuments.

And if you look very carefully in the roadway, you’ll see lines of granite setts – there are a couple in the photo here.

When they were doing some roadworks a while ago they came across the foundations of the old walls that had been demolished. They have marked them out on the road with the granite setts so that you can see the extent of the former buildings

grand trunk building rue mgcill montreal canada august aout 2018As I was making my way round to the Place d’Youville I noticed this building in the distance.

Whilst the building itself is impressive, the exciting thing about it is that over the door is carved the legend “Grand Trunk”.

This was one of the earliest of the main-line railway companies that was involved in the “railway wars” in Canada at the end of the 19th Century.

This was their magnificent Head Office in the Rue McGill, built 1899-1902.

Unfortunately it didn’t last long. The Grand Trunk was one of the biggest losers in the Railway War and it was coming back from a very unsuccessful fund-raising trip in Europe in 1912 that its president, Charles Hays, was drowned on the Titanic.

The company quickly went bankrupt and was taken over by the Government, forming part of the Canadian National rail network.

place d'youville montreal canada august aout 2018Montreal these days is basically a very large island, but back in the 16th Century it was several small ones.

The original settlement was on a small island bounded by the St Lawrence River and the Riviere St Pierre.

That latter river was eventually built over, and today, it’s the Place d’Youville, named for our friend Marguerite.

place d'youville montreal canada august aout 2018When we were here in October last year, you will remember seeing the excavations that were taking place just here.

This was the site of the city’s first indoor covered market which later became the Parliament Building for the country.

However the building was destroyed in 1849 in the riots that followed the passing of an Act emancipating the rebels of the 1830s and was never rebuilt. The Government of Canada moved elsewhere, much to the chagrin of the Québecois.

fire station place d'youville montreal canada august aout 2018A fire station was erected here in 1903 – 54 years too late to save the Parliament building unfortunately.

Today the fire brigade has moved elsewhere and the building is now a museum. I would have liked to have gone for a look around but I was rather pushed for time.

I still have quite a lot to do today and it’s late.

street washer montreal canada august aout 2018While I was standing by the side of the road taking photographs, I was interrupted by a street washer.

Mind you, he didn’t let me interrupt him, and carried on with whatever he was doing.

As a result, not only did I have a complimentary shoe-wash I had a complimentary ankle wash too and that certainly different. And it wasn’t just me either. Several other passers-by were in the same boat.

diesel locomotive 4707 port de montreal harbour canada august aout 2018Further interruptions were the order of the day too.

While I was a-wandering a little further on (which is rather better than walking by St Paul’s), I heard the familiar wail of a diesel locomotive siren in the distance so I legged it rather rapidly down the street.

Not rapidly enough, as it happens. I was defeated by the pair of locomotives, 4707 and his friend, disappearing into the distance down towards the dock.

And when I return home and have access to myJane’s Train Recognition Guide I’ll tell you all about them.

stele place d'youville montreal canada august aout 2018Instead, I went back to the Place d’Youville and to photograph the stele. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that last year when I was here it was all fenced off and it was impossible to take a proper photo.

So having done that, Bane of Britain wandered away from the site, without actually going over there to read the plaque to discover what it says.

I really don’t know why you lot pay me, honestly I don’t.

You DO pay me, don’t you? All you need to do is to click on one of the links at the side and make your next order from Amazon that way. I receive a small commission on your orders, but it costs you nothing at all.

fire engines montreal canada august aout 2018I’m not sure at all what was going on here.

There I was, standing on the edge of the kerb and three or four fire engines pulled up, one after the other. Their blue and red flashing lights blazing away.

They performed some kind of danse macabre in the street and I’ve no idea why. There was nothing like any emergency that I could see in the vicinity and they didn’t seem to be in too much hurry.

old customs house port de montreal harbour canada august aout 2018I turned my attention to the building that I had come here to see – the old Customs House.

Ideally situated at the exit to the harbour, nothing could come into port without paying the appropriate duty to the Government and this was where they did it.

The Customs people aren’t there now- they’ve moved on down the road into a new modern building that is 10timesasbig, even though trade in the port has declined.

By now, my stomach was thinking that my throat had been cut and I needed to organise some food.

Not round here though as I still had some important things to do.

So onto the Metro at Victoria-OACI and off to Namur (the Metro station, not the town in Belgium) and the big Walmart there. But leaving the metro station was really difficult. The way that the doors are positioned there was a howling gale every time someone opened one of them and it was something of a struggle to pass through.

It all seems to have changed there. New buildings and the like and I couldn’t at first get my bearings. But there’s a Subway at the bottom end of the shopping complex so I installed myself there.

The restaurant next door had a free wifi service so I was able to patch in there and pick up the news.

It was a long hike to Walmart from there – longer than I remember it being – and it was something of a disappointment when I arrived. It seems to me that there are fewer and fewer items on the shelves these days and the place is looking rather untidy.

There weren’t all that many customers there either and I’ve no idea why.

There wasn’t as much choice as I was hoping but I managed eventually to kit myself out with the remainder of the articles that I need. Whether it’s all suitable I really don’t know, but I can’t do any better than this.

bulk barn namur montreal canada august aout 2018But here’s a shop that I hadn’t seen before, even though the staff tell me that they have been here for four years.

It’s called the Bulk Barn and it’s very reminiscent of the old “Weigh and Save” shops that we had in the UK in the late 70s and 80s.

And I’ll make a note of this place because they had everything in there that I could possibly use, including dehydrated vegetables for travelling purposes.

I’ll have to check to see if there are any of these places anywhere else on my route around Canada in the future.

traffic jam decarie montreal canada august aout 2018By now it was rush hour and time for me to be heading off.

I was lucky that I was on the train because had I been in a car I would probably still be there now judging by the amount of traffic on the Boulevard Decarie.

Total gridlock and that’s the kind of thing that makes me glad that I don’t live in a city these days. How would I cope with all of this.

Back at my hotel I organised my suitcase yet again to take into account my recent purchases. This suitcase is becoming rather uncomfortably full.

There was some work that needed to be done, so I caught up with that, and then decided to go out for tea.

mcgill students partying rue st catherine est montreal canada august aout 2018I walked the entire length of the rue St Catherine Est from my hotel almost all the way down to the bridge and I was not alone.

Apparently the students from McGill University are having their induction week this week and it’s party, party, party. Hordes of them freaking out all over the place.

It made me feel quite old to watch them. These days they don’t look anything like 18 year-olds at all and that’s all very confusing.

But the big surprise for me was the pizza place that was advertising vegan pizzas – yes, vegan pizzas! I’ve never ever seen vegan pizzas advertised in a mainstream pizza place before so I went in to give the place some support.

And delicious it was too.

That was me organised (such as I can be) for the day. I retreated to my hotel and decided to have an early night. I need it too after all of this.

Saturday 7th July 2018 – ONE OF THESE DAYS …

… I’ll have a decent night.

But it wasn’t last night, that’s for sure. With all of the excitement following Belgium’s unexpected victory over Brazil there was chaos in the streets and enough noise to awaken the dead.

And so despite everything and all of my best intentions, it was hours before I managed to go off to sleep.

It was another morning too where I was awake long before the alarm went off. When I finally glanced at the time it was 05:47 and I was hoping for something rather better than that.

There had still been time to go on my travels though. Back driving a taxi and I’d been given a list of the regular clients which I was sure that I had memorised, and so I tore it up. And immediately there was a call over the radio “go to Nantwich and pick up so-and-so”. And I couldn’t remember where he or she lived. My notes were too badly torn to be able to be pieced together so I asked on the radio, but I couldn’t understand the reply which was rather garbled.
A little later I was in Eritrea (don’t ask me why) – an Eritrea that looked like nothing that I had ever seen of it. There was a military patrol walking down a road floating up observation balloons, many of which had fallen to earth and were littering the side of the road. Suddenly the patrol withdrew, leaving me isolated right out in front, a rather nervous place to be. Eventually I found a tourist guide who was selling tickets on a steam train ride. he was negotiating with someone and they agreed on a price of $50:00. The only thing that I could see in the brochure for a steam ride was at $130:00 so I asked about it. He replied that I needed to go to the railway station and book it there. He mentioned 13:30 but I didn’t understand if that was the time of departure or the time of return, and it was all so confusing.

So crawling out of bed I had my medication (now that I have some) but I still didn’t feel like any breakfast so I had a shower instead and cracked on with my paperwork.

The cleaner wanted to come in here at 11:00 but I told her to wait for a while as I was expecting a visitor.

And sure enough, just when I reckoned that I ought to go outside, I opened my door to see Alison pulling into the car park. Bang on cue.

welkenraedt july juillet 2018Our first port of call was about 30 kms down the road in Welkenraedt.

Despite only having a population on 9,000 or so, it’s probably one of the most famous small towns in Belgium and it’s one that I’ve been dying to visit ever since I first came to Oostende over 45years ago

And for one of the strangest reasons too, because it’s not your usual run-of-the-mill tourist venue.

Back in the 1970s at the railway station in Oostende there would alwas be a train waiting to meet the ferries, and they would always be going to Welkenraedt.

It aroused my curiosity so I did a little research and found that it was a small town in the north of the Ardennes that didn’t look as if it had any significance at all, so I was puzzled as to why all of these trains would want to come here.

railway station welkenraedt belgium july juillet 2018And when you look at the station, it’s a big, modern station that has plenty of facilities and it is all out of proportion to the size of the town

A little bit of research back in those days soon cleared up the question.

Welkenraedt is the closest railway station to the border between Germany and Belgium – in Germany until 1919 and in Belgium afterwards.

And when the railways were electrified, the German voltage system was different from that in Belgium until comparatively modern times. And until the Schengen agreement, there was a frontier post at the station.

So while the passengers were having their passports controlled, the train would be changing engines and then going on to Aachen or Cologne or maybe further still.

Welkenraedt is officially a German-speaking town but when it was transferred to Belgium by the Treaty of Versailles, the SNCB, the Belgian railway company, opened a locomotive depot here and transferred in a large number of French-speaking railway workers.

They flooded the town to such an extent that you will struggle to find German spoken here today. We saw a couple of signs in German but that was about that.

We went off to find something to eat as Alison was hungry, and I forced down a helping of overcooked chips. I’m clearly feeling better after my crisis of Thursday and Friday.

viaduc de moresnet july juillet 2018But you can’t cometo this region without going down the road to Moresnet.

For several reasons really, not the first of which is this absolutely gorgeous railway viaduct.

It’s not quite on a par with the Tracel de Cap Rouge of course, that’s rather exceptional, but it’s by far the best that you are likely to find around this part of Europe.

viaduc de moresnet july juillet 2018According to the information that I have found, it was built during the period 1915-1916. The pillars are fine examples of reinforced concrete of that period.

It’s just over 1100 metres long and at its highest, it’s about 60 metres above the velley of the River Gueule

That tells us a couple of things

  1. There may well have been something here prior to that period that was demolished at the start of World War I
  2. It escaped demolition during the fighting of World War II

viaduc de moresnet july juillet 2018Knowing my usual luck, we would ordinarily have had to wait for about three weeks to see a train pass over the viaduct, and then we would have missed it because we had gone for a coffee.

But that’s not the case here. This is the main railway line that runs between Aachen and Antwerpen, one of Europe’s busiest ports.

We’d hardly pulled into the village before a freight train went rattling by just above our heads.

moresnet belgium july juillet 2018So while you admire the village of Moresnet and Alison and I have gone for a coffee with the friendly young girl who runs the village café, let me tell you a little story.

At the end of the Napoleonic Wars the Treaty of the Limits in 1816 redefined the border between the Low Countries (because Belgium didn’t exist at that time) and the Kingdom of Prussia.

For various reasons, they couldn’t agree with what to do with the commune of Moresnet and so they planned to divide it between them.

moresnet belgium july juillet 2018Unfortunately, any logical dividing line ran right through a very important and valuable quarry and they couldn’t agree where the line should go so that each country would have half the value.

Eventually, they agreed that the quarry and a surrounding piece of land would be a neutral zone administered jointly by one official from the Low Countries (Belgium after 1830) and the Kingdom of Prussia (the German Empire after 1871).

And so you had Moresnet, Neu-Moresenet (the German bit) and Moresnet Neutre.

In 1914 Germany took all of it, so at the Treaty of Versailles Belgium was awarded all of it, so in 1940 Germany took it all back and in 1945 Belgium regained all of it.

There has been quite a lot of excitement in such a sleepy little Belgian village

But our conversation with the serving wench was quite exciting. being practically right on one of Belgium’s linguistic borders, our conversation drifted between French and German with hardly a pause.

Belgium is a fascinating country.

And if that’s not enough to be going on with, just up the road some time round about 1750 a miracle involving Mary the Mother of Jesus is said to have taken place

franciscan friars moresnet chapelle july juillet 2018Pilgrims came to visit the site so a small chapel was built, followed by all of the usual facilities for the visitors, and the village of Moresnet-Chapelle developed.

A group of Franciscan Friars (and seeing as this is Belgium, they were probably chip monks) were sent from Aachen in 1875 to provide spiritual comfort to the visitors.

As a result, some substantial development took place.

chemin de la croix moresnet chapelle belgium july juillet 2018Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we’ve talked on several occasions about the Chemin de la Croix – 14 stages of Jesus on his way to his crucifixion, death and subsequent resurrection.

We’ve also been to see a a magnificent example of this at Cap de la Madeleine in Quebec.

In 1895 they decided that they would emulate it (the filthy beasts) right here.

chemin de la croix moresnet chapelle belgium july juillet 2018In 1895 German benefactor provided some cash to purchase the land around the chapel and they set to work.

The work was completed in 1904 and today there are 14 grottoes made of puzzolane, each featuring one of the stages of the Chemin de la Croix.

The aim is to visit each one, purchase a candle to light in each (which must bring in a fortune) and say a prayer at each one, in order to be absolved of your sins.

Of course, I don’t need to, for regular readers of this rubbish in one of its previous guises will recall that I was granted absolution by the Pope, having passed through all of the Holy Doors in Rome during the Period of Grace in 2000.

I choose my friends carefully as you know.

chemin de la croix moresnet chapelle belgium july juillet 2018The twelfth station, the Calvaire or Calvary, featuring the crucifiction, is always a good ‘un and there’s no exception here.

In fact, it was so popular at one time that they have installed benches here and occasionally hold open-air church services here.

But clearly not masses, because the place is pretty-much deserted today.

And I shan’t bore you all by repeating the story that a Frenchman delightfully told me, that they asked for a famous sculptor from each country to send in their impressions of how the Calvary should look, and the Belgian sculptor sent in a drawing of John Wayne on his horse.

Final stop (for now, anyway) on our day out was just a couple of miles up the road.

driehoek netherlands germany belgium july juillet 2018Here we have the Driehoek – or “Three Corners” – where the countries of the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany meet.

And when we had Moresnet-Neutre, it was a Vierhoek because that area had a bit of it too.

The girl in red is sitting half in the Netherlands and half in Germany, and the girl on the floor is half in the Netherlands and half in Belgium.

vaalserberg netherlands july juillet 2018Not only that, the highest point in the Netherlands – the Vaalserberg – is only 100 metres or so from the border and so we had to pay that a visit too.

It’s all of 322.4 metres above sea level, or 1,058 feet for those of you still dealing in real money.

And in the background you can see an observation platform. Apart from the fact that it cost real money to go up there to the top, the number of steps that I saw was enough to put me off the idea.

So having been driven up the Vaal(serberg) our next stop was across in our third country of the day – Germany. And those silly Brits who voted to leave the EU just don’t understand the advantages of having Breakfast in Brussels, Lunch in Luxembourg, Tea in Turin, Supper in Sampdoria and Bed in Bari.

Aachen in fact was where we went, where Alison wanted to take me to a café that she had found. And even though we arrived 12 minutes before the advertised closing time of 18:00, they refused to serve us.

Consequently we nipped to Mullers for some of my white coconut chocolate, and then to the cat café that we had visited a while ago.

The cooking smelt delicious so Alison had some thick soup and I had hummus with raw vegetables and bread.

It’s not far back to Liège from Aachen, even though you pass through three countries to get there. and I was in time to see Russia defeated by Croatia. And I could tell by the way that the first Russian limped up to take his penalty, head bowed to the ground, that he was going to miss it.

Tomorrow I am on the move, and so an early night – if my neighbours let me. They are being just a little rowdy, but then you can’t win a coconut every time, can you?

Tuesday 27th March 2018 – AND THERE IT WAS …

crane gone gates port de granville harbour manche normandy france… gone!

Yes, if you compare this photo with one … "of the many" – ed … that we have taken earlier of this view, you’ll notice that the large crane working on the harbour gates has now gone.

I’m not sure if this now means that the work on the harbour gates is now finished, but I shall go down there in the course of time and take a butchers.

hanging cloud pointe du roc granville manche normandy franceI should actually have gone down this morning, what with it being Tuesday and the day when I try for a walk into town, but you wouldn’t even send a dog out in this weather.

As we know from past experience, hanging clouds aren’t only encountered back on my farm in the Auvergne, we have them here too. And they are good ones when they arrive too.

And this one brought with it a pile of rain and so that put paid to any plans that I had of going out.

I’d had a really good sleep last night (for once) and if I had been anywhere during the night I certainly don’t recall it. And when the alarm went off for the first time at 06:20 I was bitterly regretting the fact. So much so that when I felt myself drifting away into a little voyage I didn’t fight the temptation – and was still there when the second alarm went off.

We had the usual morning performance followed by the usual morning relax and then, much to everyone’s surprise, I did some tidying up and started to prepare for my next voyage to Belgium. I’ve decided that the small suitcase is too small for the winter when I’m lumbered up with an overcoat, so I’m taking the next size up.

And then I had plenty to do after that but someone with whom I wanted to speak was on line so we ended up chatting for quite some time. There are always other times for working of course.

After lunch I attacked some of the backlog of photos that I’ve been trying to sort, and then went out for my walk as you have already seen.

united ieland o'toole transport granville manche normandy franceThe weather had by now dramatically improved which was just as well.

And apart from the crane (or absence thereof), one of Plenty’s dad’s lorries (or trailers anyway) was parked up on the fish dock. Refrigerated trailers they are so presumably they come for some kind of shellfish.

Which they share with their friends of course because, after all, you mustn’t be selfish with your shellfish.

And if you notice very carefully, on the map of Europe there is no dividing line between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, is there? It’s another one of these Quebec/ Labrador 1927 border issues.

This declaration from the Republic in 1981 or whenever it was that their dispute with the North was over is only so much lip servioe. And talk is cheap. Unless of course they are in advance of the situation post-Brexit when the North will choose prosperity and Europe instead of a leap backwards into the Dark Ages with the United Kingdom.

We had the usual session on the guitar and I was working on an arrangement of “Locomotive Breath”. It’s quite a simple track if you play it quite simply and so I have a cunning plan – more of which anon.

Tea tonight was the other veganburger and bap with vegetables and it was just as delicious. The strawberries were superb too and that really was a good plan to buy those.

place marechal foch granville manche normandy franceWith the change of hour on Sunday, it was still just about light when I went for my evening walk tonight.

And so here’s a (very grainy) photo of the Place Marechal Foch and the view stretching down to Donville-les-Bains in the dusk. Considering that it was a hand-held shot on long exposure, it’s ome out okay.

I took some others too but I have an idea about them. I have a 50mm f1.8 lens somewhere around here and I’m going to take that with me tomorrow night and see what that shoots like in the dusk. It did okay with my football photos so it might do some good around here.

The least it will do is to tell me whether this standard lens that I have is at fault, or of it’s the camera itself.

Wednesday 11th October 2017 – SO HERE I ALL AM …

… not sitting in a rainbow, but sitting in the Departure Lounge of Dorval – or the Aeroport Pierre-E Trudeau waiting for my flight back to Paris.

And I have a feeling that it’s going to be an uncomfortable flight too. I’ve asked for an aisle seat because I’m still having problems with my right leg, And the girl in the check-in has given me my boarding pass, with the luggage label stuck over one of the places where the seat number is printed, and another sticky label stuck over the other place. So I can’t read it.

And so I bet that it isn’t an aisle seat. That’s just the kind of trick that they play on passengers instead of being honest and up-front about it. And so I’ll be crammed in somewhere extremely uncomfortably in the middle of a row.

Just as well that it’s a decent Air Canada flight and not an Air Transat sardine tin. But I’m still not happy.

I slept the sleep of the dead last night. Flat out all night and didn’t feel a thing until the alarm went off at 05:00. Mind you, it was … errr … somewhat later that I actually crawled out of bed. I wasn’t in much of a rush.

I spent a while doing some stuff on the laptop and then I went for a shower. Once I’d done that, I sorted out all of my affairs and repacked all of my possessions. That took me up until about 09:30 – meaning that I missed out on breakfast. But I didn’t really worry too much about that.

There’s a cupboard here at the hotel where you can dump your suitcase and so I left mine there and went for a walk around the city. First stop was the Dollar Store to pick up some stuff for the aeroplane. A couple of bags of sweets and the like.

Next stop was the Scotia Bank to take out some more money.I like to have a little stock on hand when I’m in Europe. I’ve been caught out with an expired bank card before, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall.

From there I went down to the Old Town. I needed a few things to take home with me and there was a place that had what I needed.

One last thing was to leap aboard the 55 bus with the driver listening to Focus III at full volume, and head off to the north side of the city.

Bang on midday I was at Josée’s place of work. I’d missed her yesterday as you know so we had agreed to meet for lunch. We ended up at a place not too far away where I had a vegan salad. I handed back the telephone, with grateful thanks to her for letting me borrow it.

Back down into town after that, and despite the grey overcast weather I couldn’t resist the opportunity to visit the vegan ice-cream bar in the rue St Catherine. The coconut milk was delicious as usual but I declined the chocolate – you remember from last year that it left something to be desired. Instead they had some kind of Vietnamese fruit.

I had a snooze too, having made sure that it wasn’t an auto-flush toilet. I seem to be making that some kind of habit these days again. But at least for the last couple of days I’ve been doing well over 100% of my daily activity so that’s something. and it will probably be something like that tomorrow too.

Having had my little relax I hobbled back (because I’m feeling the strain now) to the hotel to pick up my suitcase. the owners were there and they recognised me from when I was there before. We had a little chat and I had a little rest before wandering round the corner for the 747 bus to the airport.

We had one of these bus drivers who was a stickler for the rules. Everyone had to put their luggage in the racks and once the racks were full he refused to take on board any more passengers. But the motorway was open at last and it didn’t take too long to drive there.

Interestingly, some of the worst parts of the flyovers seem to have been demolished – they had concrete-cutters busily chopping up all of the rubble as we drove past.

At the airport I remembered to hand in my green card at the Immigration desk, and then went to check in. The automatic check-in didn’t recognise me, which is hardly a surprise – after all, who would want to admit to recognising me? And so we had the performance at the check-in desk.

And my suitcase for the flight back? A mere 16.7kgs. I’m clearly losing my touch.

Food is the next thing. I know that I won’t be having my special meal on the flight, but there’s a “Subway” in the airport, which is a good thing. A 12-inch vegetarian without cheese accompanied me through the security gate.

While we’re on the subject of security … “well, one of us is” – ed … apart from the queues it was relatively painless. They discovered my small bottle of water that I was hoping to keep, and also one of these juice pack things which I had forgotten all about.

They didn’t think much of my laptop either – but then I’m not exactly crazy about it. They spent quite a long time giving it a close-up befoe they were able to agree that it was relatively harmless.

At the boarding gate I had a word with the girls there. They confirmed that I didn’t have an aisle seat and so I explained my problem. They doubted that they could do anything for me seeing as the aeroplane was full.

But much to my surprise, 10 minutes later one of them – a young red-headed girl called Roxanne – came running over to me waving a new ticket. Somehow they had managed to find an aisle seat. It was a left-hand one, not a right-hand one, but that is far better than nothing.

So in a minute we’ll be boarding. Didn’t that 8 weeks go quickly? I managed to pack an enormous amount into it – like 12,000 kilometres in the 5 weeks or so that I was on the road. I don’t want to leave but I don’t really have much choice.

But then I’m always like this when I leave Canada.

Tuesday 10th October 2017 – JUST HOW SILLY …

… can you get?

There I was with an appointment to go out for an evening meal with Josée and we arranged that she would telephone me when she finished work and came outside.

And so she did. She telephoned me at 16:30 and 16:30, sent me a couple of texts, a message or two on my social media page, and then became fed up and went home.

And where was I when all of this was going on?

In case you haven’t guessed, I was flat out on my bed, well away with the fairies and totally inconscient of anything that was going on. And I must have been too, to have slept through the cacophony that was going on.

keolis orleans express montreal quebec canada Octobre october 2017I blame the bus myself.

I can’t sleep on buses (except whrnI’m driving them). At best, I just fitfully doze and let every bump shake me awake.

But that doesn’t apply to everyone. As we pulled into Montreal a girl suddenly stood bolt upright.
“Is this Montreal?” she asked, in a panic
“Yes it is” replied the driver.
“What happened to Sainte-Foy?”
“We stopped there and everyone there got off”
“But I should have got off” she wailed.
“Not much I can do about that” said the driver. “I can’t go around waking everyone up to see if it’s their stop”.

The bus was quite busy too. Everyone going back after Thanksgiving with the family.

We were 10 minutes late getting into the Bus Station. 06:10. Far too early to go to my hotel and so I sat around with a coffee and did some work.

And if you think that our family tree is complicated, you ain’t heard nuffink yet.

Apparently my mother any my aunt were daughters of their mother (my grandmother Ivy)’s SECOND marriage. That’s a new one on me. Ivy had apparently been married before to someone called Cyril Ralphrul Hogg who had been her singing tutor.

He was apparently quite famous and had studied at the Conservatory in Vienna.

They married in July 1918 but he was swept away in the Spanish Influenza outbreak of December 1918.

Now that took me by surprise.

At 09:00 I took my stuff round the corner to the hotel and left it there. Of course my room wasn’t ready so I went round the corner to Tim Hortons for breakfast.

gare viger montreal quebec canada Octobre october 2017From there I decided to go down to the docks to see what was happening.

My route took me close to the Gare Viger, which, asregular readers of this rubbish will recall, is my favourite building in the whole of the city.

We haven’t seen it from this angle before though. It looks quite eerie with the morning sun reflecting off the autumn leaves of the trees.

barnacle port montreal quebec canada Octobre october 2017Our walk continues round to the docks to see who is there.

The Winnipeg is still there of course, but we also have the Barnacle. She’s a bulk carrier of 30,000 tonnes and is on her way to Ghent in Belgium from Hamilton in Ontario.

her cargo is “Agricultural Products” – by which, presumably, they may well mean “wheat”. Montreal is one of the world’s biggest ports for the handling of wheat.

vieux port montreal quebec canada Octobre october 2017. There doesn’t seem to be a great deal of activity around the rest of the commercial part do I wander off down to the old port.

Not too much going on around here either but at least there’s a good view of the city from here. It’s looking quite splendid in the early morning autumn sunlight.

And you can see the twin towers of the cathedral right in the centre of the image.

artania montreal quebec canada Octobre october 2017However, at the cruise terminal we have the Artania of 44,000 tonnes. Operatedby a German cruise company, she set out from Hamburg on 22nd September.

But don’t let appearances fool you.

Despite having just crossed the Atlantic with a load of passengers, had she been simply going back and forth across the English Channel she would have been scrapped long ago because she is actually 33 years old

She was built in 1984 and sailed for many years as the P&O liner Royal Princess.

woman taking dogs for a run montreal quebec canada Octobre october 2017I’d caught a glimpse of a container ship down in the Oceanex container terminal so, with nothing better to do, I headed that way.

However, my perambulations were interrupted by this most bizarre spectacle of a woman taking several dogs for a job.

You might think that it’s hilarious but the poor little dog being dragged behind, clearly unable to keep up wasn’t enjoying it one little bit every time their leader broke into a run.

oceanex avalon montreal quebec canada Octobre october 2017So here in the Oceanex terminal s the Oceanex Avalon.

She’s a small container ship of 14500 tonnes and seems to work a shuttle between St Johns in Newfoundland, Saint John in New Brunswick and here.

I imagine that rather than half-unload a huge container ship at Saint John and have her shuttling around, they will completely unload her for a faster turnaround and have the Oceanex Avalon doing the distribution.

I had a wander around the port to see if there was a better view, but not today.

montreal quebec canada Octobre october 2017On the way back I walked down alongside the Lachine Canal and today for some reason you could clearly see where the former dry docks used to be.

I can’t think why it was never so noticeable as this before.

But like most canal-side enterprises they have long-gone. Montreal has lost a lot of its importance since it started on this monolingual anti-English crusade.

workmen testing concrete flyover montreal quebec canada Octobre october 2017But this was interesting to stand and watch.

We’ve seen … “on several occasions” – ed … the shambolic nature of much of the city’s concrete infrastructure as it weathers and disintegrates.

These men were up on a sky jack tapping the concrete supports of the flyover with a hammer to see whether the concrete was still sound, or whether it was being eroded away from within.

site of ville marie montreal quebec canada Octobre october 2017One thing that I haven’t yet done – and I can’t think why- is to go to visit the site of “Ville-Marie”.

That was the original name of Montreal, but it’s more properly applied to the site where the first European colonists installed their settlement

As far as it’s possible to tell these things, that column just there marks the centre of the original settlement. We can’t go to visit it for a closer look unfortunately.

site of first parliament montreal quebec canada Octobre october 2017That’s because the Place d’Youville, site of St Anne’s Market, is currently undergoing archaeological excavation and everywhere is fenced off.

This is a historically important site because St Anne’s Market became home of the Canadian Parliament in 1844, moving here from Kingston in Ontario.

That was a controversial move and in 1849 during a debate to consider the losses that had been incurred by the population during the rebellion of 1837-38, a mob stormed the building and burnt it to the ground.

From here I went for a butty and then back to the hotel to sign in for my room, followed by all the nonsense that I mentioned earlier.

Later, I went for a walk and something to eat at the little Lebanese restaurant at Sherbrooke. And here, I watched a television debate that rather amused me. Should the captain of the “Montreal Impact” football team be a French-speaker?

You can tell what kind of society you are dealing with in Quebec when a person’s language ability is considered to be more important than his professional qualifications.

Monday 9th October 2017 – HAPPY THANKSGIVING

And everyone around here is celebrating and giving thanks – for tonight I’ll be on the bus back to Montreal – always assuming that it doesn’t forget me like last year.

I’d had a really early night again last night – alone again, as it happens, and I’d been off on my travels again. back in Virlet as it happens, and everyone was poking fun at me, although there didn’t seem to be any reason why. But I approached the Secretary of the Commune and she explained to me that I was wearing odd shoes. I had a look, and it took quite some doing, even on a close inspection, to see that they were different. How anyone else had noticed from a distance away at a casual glance was beyond me. I asked which “pair” she preferred, and she replied that the “dark blue” shoes were preferable. However they looked the same colour to me and while it might have been dark blue in reality, on my travels last night I reckoned that they were black. So off I trotted back home to look for a matching shoe, but instead found a pair that were a real pair, but were black, and nothing like as highly-polished as the ones that I was wearing (because they really were highly polished). And so, do I ignore the catty remarks, do I carry on hunting for “the other shoe” or do I put on the black, dirty shoes and if so how would everyone else in the village react?

When my alarm went off I went off to ride the porcelain horse, and encountered Cujo the Killer Cat on the way back. I went back to bed seeing as no-one else was stirring, and she stayed there with me for a while before disappearing off.

Eventually, the clatter of dishes from the kitchen told me that Rachel was up and about so I went to help her prepare the breakfast brunch. Famous the whole world over, as I have said.

My share of the breakfast was the beans on toast with hash browns and one of my vegan burgers.

In the afternoon, Amber’s boyfriend came round and we all chilled out and did precisely nothing at all. Round about 14:30, Hannah and her friend left to go back to University at Antigonish and the rest of us, having said goodbye, carried on chatting.

Tea for me was the rest of the vegan burgers, the rest of the beans, and some left-over potatoes from the Thanksgiving meal, followed by rice pudding ditto. Then I went for a shower to wake myself up.

At 19:45 I took my leave of everyone and Rachel drove me to Florenceville and the bus stop. We were an hour early which I preferred after the dreadful performance last year that inconvenienced just about everyone except the bus driver.

We weren’t alone either. One of Rachel’s neighbours was there, putting her son on the bus back to Montreal where he’s at University studying aero-engineering.

maritime coach atlantic riviere du loup quebec canada october octobre 2017We were there quite early, as I have said.

And so, as you might expect, the bus was late arriving.

And Coach Atlantic is spending its money too, so it seems, because this was a modern, clean, comfortable coach, which makes a change from one or two that we’ve travelled on.

Not to say that they were ever dirty or uncomfortable – far from it. But they were starting to become rather long in the tooth. This one was brand-spanking new, with wi-fi, but, alas, still with no power points.

And no data tracker too. Most buses and coaches these days have data trackers fitted so that you can go to the website of the company and see where the bus or coach is. Once Coach Atlantic fits these to their coaches, there won’t be any of this “missing the bus” or waiting around for well over an hour in the pouring rain.

Because pouring rain was what we had had all day. I’d never seen anything like this rain. Heavy, yes, but not persistently so all day.

So having dozed all the way to the St Lawrence, I’m now at Riviere du Loup waiting for the bus that’s coming from the Gaspé that will take me on to Montreal.

It’s always a long night on the overnight bus but at least I don’t have far to stagger from the bus terminal to the hotel where i’ll be staying until tomorrow evening.