Tag Archives: rachel

Tuesday 25th January 2022 – DAY EIGHT …

… of my self-imposed exile and I actually set foot outside the building this afternoon, for the first time in over a week.

My Covid test result has come back and, as I expected (well, as I knew, really) it was negative so tomorrow I’m going to restart my physiotherapy sessions.

My plan is to take Caliburn, and for several reasons too –

  1. with not having been out for exercise for over a week, I’m not sure how I’m going to manage the climb up the hill and back again.
  2. with everything floating around and my still not feeling 100%, I don’t want to pick up something while I’m out and about in town.
  3. with having been stuck inside for 10 days and not having done any shopping for a week before, supplies are running low so a trip to Lidl with Caliburn is in order.

And so I went outside to make sure that Caliburn will start, having been idle for almost three weeks and with the temperatures hovering around zero. And sure enough, he fired up fairly easily.

While we’re on the subject of zero … “well, one of us is” – ed … I spent much of the night in the company of Zero. And several other people too but it was she who figured the most in all of my lengthy travels.

For some of the time, she was with one of my sisters. They had moved into a house and shared a bedroom, with posters and everything like that all over the bedroom door and wall. I’d been working in the area so I popped in to see how they were doing.

Later on, I dropped straight back into the dream at some point near or nearabouts, with the three of us travelling on a train somewhere.

Later still, there was a reality TV programme about a young girl who I reckoned was Zero, who would choose her boyfriend. The choice had narrowed down to 2. 2 guys turned up, 1 of whom looked like the young dynamic type and the other looked like a slightly older, shy person. It goes without saying that she chose the 1st one. The guy who was 2nd was extremely bitter and disappointed about all of this but I explained to his that he had come a darn sight farther in this competition than almost anyone else and what wouldn’t I have given to change places with him and been up there on the stage at that particular moment when Zero was on the point of making a choice? The conversation drifted around to talk about general life and happiness etc and I can’t remember very much about where it went after this. It was certainly one of those things that if you set your goals too high you’ll fail and you’ll always be unhappy. Success is measured by the level of expectation and I have several examples of this that have occurred during my life. I gave him a few examples but I can’t remember what they mean now.

Still plenty to go at yet. There was 1 of these guys again with a baby or very small child who was about to board a tram. He pointed to one of the trams and said “it’s nice to see some Bristol artwork these days” and went off and boarded his tram.

And then we had 2 girls who had been friends for years. There was a huge pile of glass bottles stored in the garage of one of them. They loaded them into the boot of the 2nd one’s car to take to the recycling plant but half an hour later she was back with the bottles. Her friend asked why and she replied saying “(the name of the other girl’s partner) he’s round there with her at the moment and didn’t want to enter up them”. The other girl went somewhat ashen and said “yes, it was the same with Hugh. They don’t stay faithful for two long”. They began to put the bottles back into the space where the woman had been tidying up after they had gone. Just then her boyfriend or husband came back. He saw what was going on and probably got the message straight away. They started to have an argument which on the girl’s part was more sadness than anything else. By this time I was there and I don’t know why. The girl was talking to me saying “this is where all our money goes”. He was saying “don’t you show him that! Don’t you show him that!” but she showed it to me all the same and said “look where the red circles are”. It was all about guitars that he’d bought and music that he’d bought, everything like that with just 2 or 3 gigs where he’d made a bit of money. The conversation turned round to things like people growing up and taking responsibility, being adult, something that of course never ever happened to me, and it gradually petered out on that kind of discussion.

And finally I was visiting the university and a friend had come over from North America and was staying in the University for 10 days or something. I’d gone to see my niece and her husband, so had he actually come over from North America? I dunno. But I’d gone off to see him and he asked me to stay for a few days so I did, and shared his room. He also had another room-mate and 3 of us in there was rather cramped. We had a very bad night’s sleep the 1st night and the 2nd night his room-mate moved out to go to stay with friends. He and I shared the room but I had another bad night waking up every 5 minutes. In the end he awoke and said that he had things to do so I said that I’d catch him up. It turned out that he had to take a bus to the main university building and the refectory there. I told him “leave some kind of indication where you might be and I’ll catch you up”. He went and I gathered my wash things together and went to find a shower but couldn’t find one. I found some urinals but that was about it. I thought “I’m going to have to go back and take my shower in his room”. I remembered that there was somewhere where food could be obtained so I thought that I’d have a quick look. I couldn’t find it but I found a place where half a dozen old cars had been dumped. Someone was taking some spares off one of them. On the way back to his place there was some kind of dispute between some boys and a couple of girls and a couple of older students from the University had involved themselves in it and were arguing with these boys. I broke into a run, to my own amazement, and ran for miles all the way round the University campus and up these side streets thinking to myself that this is really good with me running like this but I’m never going to meet my friend now because I want to organise myself, go to the bathroom, have a shower, find something to eat and this will take me most of the morning. I wonder where he’ll be by the time that I’m ready to go on the bus and go to the main building to meet him. But I was so happy running that I didn’t really want to stop

There was even more too as it happens, but as you are probably eating a meal or something right now, I’ll spare you the gory details. But is it any wonder that I’m so exhausted these days with all of the mileage that I’m putting in during the night instead of sleeping?

When the alarm went off I arose quite quickly and went off to take my medication, and then to check my mails and messages. Having done that, I sat down and revised my Welsh from last week and prepared for today’s lesson.

There was a new pupil this week as well so some time was spent in introductions, and the lesson itself passed quite uneventfully, and quickly too.

There was some soup left – not much – but there were a couple of frozen potatoes in the freezer that needed eating so I tipped them in as well.

After lunch I started to transcribe the dictaphone notes and it’s no surprise that it took me almost all afternoon (apart from going out to play with Caliburn), although I might have had then done sooner had I not … errr … closed my eyes for quite a while. Much longer than I would have expected or would have hoped for.

But there was a pile of mail in my letter box, all of which were for my next series of appointments at the hospital. And instead of being at 13:30 they are for 11:10 which puts paid to my lie-in to recover from my journey.

With something of a start, I noticed the time. 20:05. Tea thus ended up being out of a tin because there was a football match kicking off at 20:45. Cardiff Metro v Barry.

Both teams at the wrong end of the table and it wasn’t difficult to see why because whatever skill there was only occurred in brief flashes. Cardiff Metro have only a small and diminishing pool of players from which to pick, but Barry seem to have gone backwards this season.

Surprisingly, the Met won 2-0. And surprisingly because at one stage they were really lucky to have nil and I reckoned that it would stay like that if they carried on playing until the next matches on Saturday evening. However one goal from a defensive error and a second from a breakaway down the field in the final minutes as Barry were pushing everyone up for an equaliser sums it all up really.

This isn’t Barry’s season, is it?

Right now I’m off to bed, and to see where I’ll end up during the night. If Zero is as tired out as I am after everything that went on during the night, she won’t be joining me, but TOTGA has had a couple of days off and Castor has been away for a week or so so who knows? I might end up with yet more pleasant companions.

But knowing my luck, I’ll get my family again.

Saturday 15th January 2022 – HERE I ALL AM …

… not actually sitting in a rainbow, but sitting in my nice comfortable chair in my office thinking that Barry Hay was absolutely right when he said “there’s one thing that I can tell you, man, and that is that it’s good to be back home”.

And after one of the most uneventful journeys that I have ever had too.

In fact the only thing that went wrong during the trip was that the ticket collector caught me having a crafty bite out of my butties. Since 3rd January 2022 it’s against the law to eat on public transport. So he had a good moan at me about it.

The morning started quite bizarrely because although the alarm was due to go off at 05:00 I had left my bed a long time before hand and was busy drinking a coffee and making my sandwiches when the alarm did go off.

Despite the somewhat reduced sleep, I still managed to go off on several voyages during the night. I’d picked up my daughter (!!!) from Crewe Railway Station and we had to go to Edge Hill in Liverpool to catch a boat so we hired a car and drove there. Everyone else stayed on the train. At Edge Hill we had to board this boat to go across the ocean but I can’t remember where now. It involved stepping onto this beach where there were 3 wild animals, an elephant, a tiger and a third animal. The tiger was extremely playful but nevertheless it unnerved me quite a lot as I was trying to walk around this island. It kept trying to pretend to stalk me by getting behind me and attacking me. I had to turn round to face it and chase it away. Then the elephant joined in and started to push me around with its tusk. This was starting to become really out of hand. I had the feeling that this elephant, if I let it, was going to do far more than just play around with me. I told the person who was with me, whoever it was, that if they didn’t do anything to control these animals the elephant was going to have a bullet through the brain. They insisted that it was just being playful but it wasn’t very playful as far as I was concerned and I was determined to deal with this elephant permanently either by having it taken away or else by the fact that I was going to shoot it and I’d do the same to the tiger as well if they didn’t organise themselves any better and control their animals

This was the dream about the “Hawkwind” group about which I’d been thinking. There were a couple of girls called Aral or Araf, something like that, who had joined as well but that was all it was really, about the two groups and merging together to perform those Hawkwind tracks that I had mentioned and I can’t remember anything else about it (and I’d love to know what I missed recording that made me dictate this in this particular way).

I was in Canada last night. I’d just arrived. I’d been to a car auction and there was someone there trying to sell one of these minivan things. He didn’t want very much money for it – about £700 or £800 – but it was a non-runner and needed a lot of work doing to it. It was really only suitable for using as a shed or something. There was a big argument going on between a woman and the auctioneers and a couple of other people about this. The next lot to be offered was an old panel van, the type from the 1940s or 50s. I was talking to the girl. This had no engine in it or anything like that so I said “well if it’s only for a garden shed this is what I’d use as it has no windows in it for a start. It turned out that she was only looking for $50 for it and that was much more reasonable.

Then I ended up at my niece’s house. She was saying something like they could only have one egg delivered by the ‘phone. She gave me a letter than hadn’t been opened and asked me to deal with it. It was something about some company stopping deliveries to the house. I rang them up to find out what had happened. It turned out that there had been a delivery to the house 2 years ago but no-one had signed for it so they were recommending to courier companies that they no longer delivered here. That would stymie just about everything for what was going on in Canada with her and so on so I rang up the tyre depot to speak to her daughter. I asked if she knew anything about this company. She replied that that was the company she dealt with. I asked her about this parcel. She said that she remembered it so I told her that she had to ring them back straight away and explain the situation to them otherwise we aren’t going to have any more deliveries. That will bring the business to a halt. She sounded drunk on the phone, something like that, and I couldn’t get any sense out of her. I carried on talking to her but it was still extremely difficult. Trying to give her the phone number was extremely complicated because she wasn’t paying any attention to anything that anyone was telling her. I thought “this is going to end in tragedy, isn’t it?”

martelarenplein leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022There’s a reminder alarm that goes off at 05:30 but at that time I was already down the street on my way to the railway station.

Of course I can’t go and look for a train without checking on how the work in the Martelarenplein is progressing. And the answer to that is, unfortunately, “slowly”. They don’t seem to have made very much progress at all since we were here four weeks ago.

It’ll probably be just the same when I come back here in four weeks’ time, if I do. At the rate at which I’m going, I’m not convinced that I’ll still be here in four weeks’ time. I feel as if my battery has gone completely flat.

557 am 96 multiple unit gare de leuven railway station Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022There’s a choice of three trains to take me to Brussels – the 06:08 stopper, the 06:11 that goes via the airport and the 06:31 direct, all of which arrive at roughly the same time so it makes no difference really which one I catch.

However, the airport train was one of the very comfortable AM96 multiple units. It was already in the station too and looked quite warm and inviting – it was absolutely taters outside – so I clambered aboard that one.

Having gone the long way round, it was 06:58 when it pulled into the Gare du Midi and that left me 45 minutes to wait for my train to Paris. I can cope with that, even if I can’t find anywhere warm and comfortable to sit. I hate these huge, draughty stations where you can’t ever keep out of the wind.

TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt 4538 PBA gare du midi brussels Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022Much to my surprise, the train was announced a long time before the usual 15 minutes. And even more surprisingly, we were actually allowed to board it.

It was quite empty this morning so we had plenty of space to spread out. Not the usual “crammed in like sardines” situation. I made myself comfortable and listened to my Hawkwind concert – the one that I had prepared on my way to Brussels on Wednesday.

And during the journey I did some more work on making notes on the Flatey Book and I could have done more than I did but to tell the truth, I had something of a “relax” for part of the journey.

At the Gare du Nord it took me a few minutes to find a metro ticket that worked, and then I was able to board probably the most crowded metro train that I’ve ever seen

place du 18 juin 1940 paris france Eric Hall photo January 2022At the Montparnasse metro station I came up into the Rue du Départ, plumping for the easier walk on level ground rather than up and down the steps in the labyrinth.

Behind where I come out of the bowels of the earth is the Boulevard Montparnasse and the Place du 18 Juin 1940. I wlked from down that way somewhere when I did my TRAVERSEE DE PARIS during the strike of public transport.

The walk in the opposite direction was quite straightforward and it’s quite depressing to think that I hadn’t thought about walking on the surface beforehand.

At the station it was much quieter than when I was here four weeks ago and I even managed to bag a comfortable seat with a power point.

84564 gec alstom regiolis gare montparnasse paris france Eric Hall photo January 2022No prizes for guessing which one was my train to Granville.

And even more so when the red lights came on with about 15 minutes to go before we were due to depart.

When the train was called, we trooped off to find out seats. Mine was right down at the far end of the train near the driver. And once again, the train was empty. 12 carriages and I reckon that the passengers on the train could have had a carriage each.

On the way home I listened to my concert again and read a book about a cavalry unit from Michigan during the American Civil War. And tried rather unsuccessfully to eat my sandwiches.

84559 gec alstom regiolis gare de Granville railway station Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022Our train was made up of two 6-car units and I’d been in the front unit. I hadn’t photographed that in Paris so I took a photo of it on my way out of the station at Granville.

First stop was at the Carrefour down the hill from the station. A pizza isn’t a pizza without mushrooms on it and they sell 250-gramme punnets at €0:99 so if I can’t go to LeClerc for my loose ones, I’ll pick them up here.

And that reminds me. I’ve run out of pizza dough so I need to make some more tomorrow.

The town was fairly quiet this afternoon with no tourists and I took the back way home anyway so I had even less to worry about – except for the ambulance that nearly ran me down in a back street. And then reversed back to have another go seeing as he had missed on the way past.

replacing bricks on wall rue des juifs Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022Going up the hill towards home dragging my suitcase behind me was something of a struggle and I was glad to stop halfway up and eat my butties.

There was also some work on the wall in the Rue des Juifs that I’d missed. Some of the capping bricks had crumbled away and they have now been replaced. I suppose that they will be back on Monday to point them.

Back here I had a coffee and collapsed into my chair without moving for a good couple of hours. All of this travelling is exhausting me and the final climb is killing me off, I reckon. And if they can’t find the problem at the hospital, I suppose that I’m going to be stuck like this.

Tea was some of those small breadcrumbed soya fillets with veg and potatoes. Really quite delicious. I needed that.

And now I’m off to bed. I’m absolutely whacked after my early start and my trek home. A good sleep will do me good, so just watch someone phone me up or something.

Sunday 2nd January 2022 – I DON’T KNOW WHY …

waves breaking on sea wall port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022… but I have had a really bad day today.

And while you admire a few photos of the waves breaking on the sea wall down at the harbour, I’ll tell you all about it.

It probably has something to do with the fact that I didn’t go to bed until about 02:15. And even though it’s a Sunday when I usually have a lie-in, it’s still pretty extreme all the same.

Waking at 07:40 didn’t help matters very much but there was little danger of my leaving the bed at that ridiculous hour. I turned over and tried to go back to sleep, without a great deal of success, and finally arose from my stinking pit at about 10:30.

waves breaking on sea wall port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022There was still plenty of time for me to go off on a voyage during the night too. And having had the pleasure of the company of Castor and TOTGA yesterday, it was the turn of Zero to put in an appearance last night.

She was there last night with a girl whom I knew from Shavington and quite a few girls all playing around by where we were. One of them was becoming a little drunk so all of the others were saying “check the date. Check to see if it’s her birthday”. They were playing around and at one point Zero asked for a beauty spot to be placed on her cheek. I went to fetch a pencil from my car to put it on but someone beat me to it. I was quite jealous and very disappointed about that. They carried on playing around and then all went back to their beds. One of the girls said something about changing the bedding. The woman who was in charge said something like “no, there’s something else. You have to spend another night in that bedding because there’s something else”.

Anyway the story went on from there but you really don’t want to know about it. You are probably eating your meal right now.

But considering how barren the nights have been over the last few weeks and how I’ve been deprived of some really decent company on my nocturnal voyages, having three of my most favourite female figures accompany me around over the last two nights is a very welcome relief.

If only it were for real …

Having raised myself from the dead I had my medication and then came back here and checked my mails and messages. I ended up as well having a chat with my niece in Canada too.

Before lunch I paired off all of the music for the radio programme that I’ll be preparing tomorrow morning, if I awaken in time.

Once lunch was out of the way I came back here to transcribe the dictaphone notes from last night, and then a few others from the arrears. Now there are only four more to do and that’s tomorrow afternoon’s task.

There might have been more done too but unfortunately I fell asleep – not once but twice too. As I said earlier, I’m not feeling to well right now and I don’t know why because nothing had happened that might have caused it.

Going outside for my afternoon walk was painful too considering how things are.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022Nevertheless, outside I staggered and went off to look to see what was happening down on the beach. Although there was more beach than there has been at this time just recently, I wasn’t expecting to see very much activity down there today.

However, there were half a dozen people down there wandering around this afternoon. And just wandering around too – they weren’t really up to very much.

While I was there, I had a good look out to sea to see if there was anything going on. But there were no boats at all of any description in the bay this afternoon, and neither were there any buoys. The sea was totally deserted.

lighthouse semaphone pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022There weren’t too many people walking around on the path on top of the cliffs either.

There was something of a wind but no sunshine, but it wasn’t that cold and unpleasant this afternoon, so there was no reason why they should all be staying at home.

At least though I could have the path pretty much to myself and it didn’t really matter very much whether the people whom I encountered were masked or unmasked. And so I pushed on along the path towards the lighthouse at the end of the headland in the gloom, past the ruined bunker and the old gun emplacement.

colours in water baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022Crossing the car park I went down to the end of the headland to see what was happening there.

No boats, and no-one down at the bench by the cabanon vauban either. However, what caught my eye was the sea.

One of the things that I have mentioned in the past is the strange situation of the different colours of the water in the sea. This afternoon, off the end of the Pointe du Roc and the Baie de Mont St Michel, the difference in colour was startling. I’ve never seen such a remarkable contrast in the past.

But in the meantime I’d been attracted by the nise of the sea breaking on the sea wall round the corner so I went off down there.

bouchots de chausey unloading fish processing plant port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022Having left the sea wall behind me, I headed for home and my hot coffee.

Down at the fish processing plant, the little Bouchots de Chausey was down there, unloading a huge pile of bouchots onto the tractor and trailer. By the looks of things she has a very good catch on board this afternoon

Back at the apartment I had my coffee and then came back in here to carry on with my little desultory activity of transcribing some of the dictaphone notes.

vegan pizza place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022Just after lunch I took out a lump of frozen pizza dough from the freezer and left it to defrost.

When I’d finished all of the transcibing that I was going to do, I went and kneaded out the dough again and then rolled it out and put it on the pizza tray so that it might rise.

Later on I went and assembled it, and then I put it in the oven to bake. And when it was finished, it was absolutely delicious. One of the best that I’ve made.

But now I’m off to bed. I’m not feeling too god, I’m exhausted despite all of the sleep that I had, and I have a 06:00 start in order to prepare my radio programme so I need to be at my best.

Sunday 7th November 2021 – IF YOU THINK …

… that going to bed at 23:40 and staying there until 11:15 means that I’ve had a really good night’s sleep, then a look at the times of the files on the dictaphone will tell you a completely different story.

Until about 04:25 it seemed to be quite a peaceful night, and then it all went wrong from then on. I started off last night somewhere in Asia climbing up into the Himalayas. I came across a tribe or ethnic group high up who were very secretive. I went into their village. They were admitting other people of Asian Burmese or whatever descent from another ethnic tribe. Gradually I managed to slip away and carry on climbing up the mountain. I came into a kind of shop, a bazaar or something or other. They were very interested to see me and kept on telling me to climb higher up. In the end I was climbing up these stairs into some kind of claustrophobic attic with this guy wondering what on earth would happen next because I have a horror of confined spaces and this attic looked quite confined to me. They started to show me all products that they had that they wanted to get a foothold into the French market. They had a house somewhere and a warehouse, and access to a ship. I interviewed them all about their ship to make sure that it fulfilled all the required regulations and so on. From there they showed me all their products and were talking about sheep. He showed me a boat that was no more than a small yacht and asked if he could get 1500 – he said “muttons” – on there. I replied “you probably wouldn’t get more than 100 on that one”. He said that they had 1500 sheep, or “muttons” as he put it, in Canada and could bring them over. I knew someone in a slaughterhouse buying sheep in at £12 or €14 per head and that didn’t include the fleece. We had a lengthy discussion about this. Then they paired me up with this young girl who was going to be my contact with the tribe. We had a pile of things so we went back to my house, this girl and I. There were other people, my brother and so on, in there searching around for something and also the police searching around for something. I beckoned my brother over and told him and his friends that they would have to leave for 10 minutes. One policeman said “you want to be alone with this girl, don’t you?” I replied “I’m not going to be alone am I, because you’re here”. This girl started to become very nervous and wanted to leave as well but I hung on to her and brought her back into the bedroom. I started to unwrap one or two of these parcels that I’d brought back with me from the bazaar in this country high up in the Himalayas.

A little later I’d gone to see Morton play at East Fife, one of the one-sided wonder stadiums. It ended up that I met this girl again who I’d met earlier this evening. We started on about going back to my place again, everything but I can’t remember how this carried on from here. It was pretty similar to the one just now.

Later still, David Lloyd George was there later on with his wife Georgina and I was still there with this Burmese girl. Everyone’s eyebrows were raised about this, the fact that I was with him and also with this pretty young girl

There was also a little later on some documentation that needs certifying from Burma here. I put it with the others.

Later on I was at Rachel’s. Most people were there. We were having a meal and then all sitting around and talking. They were talking about someone who had just come up from Boston for half a day just to bring them a wedding present or present for their honeymoon. I said to Rachel “I’ve always admired you capacity for money-making” and she replied “I got it off you”. We carried on talking. I was still dealing with this thing about this Burmese girl when Hannah came in. She had some pullovers on but they needed washing, she said. I said that I’d do it but it was only the body because she’d rolled up the sleeves so they weren’t dirty. I asked if she had anything else. She replied “no, it’s fine” so I went to wash it. I then sat down on a chair and just out of my eyeshot just around the corner a girl sat down. I knew who she was but I can’t remember now. I was trying desperately hard not to fall asleep and desperately hard to pretend not to notice her because I was hoping that she’d come over and chat to me. There was a woman there talking about what we’d been up to today and a few things that I’d done. I was waiting for it to be dropped into the conversation that I was here but for some unknown reason she didn’t. I was really trying to fight so hard to stop falling asleep.

And how many times now is it that I’ve awoken and gone back to sleep into this dream about being in Burma or with this Burmese girl? I’ve slipped back into dreams where I’ve left off on a couple of occasions but usually only once. But this is five times. So what’s going on here?

We haven’t finished out voyages yet either. I’d gone round to say goodbye to Nerina as I was going back to France. She was living in Wistaston but I missed the turning and ended up somewhere else. I had to find a road map to help me find my way. I didn’t stay long. She expressed surprise that I had French number-plates on Caliburn – thinking that living in France I’d have English number-plates on him. She expressed surprise about the train that I was driving. That had French number-plates on it as well. She asked about it and I told her that it was an HST. As I went to leave, the train set off and left one motor carriage behind. I had to get in the motor carriage and chase after my train. it was going all the way up the hill through this shopping arcade. I eventually caught up with it as it went into the toilets. I remember something about when people see a train going up through a shopping centre there’s obviously something wrong happening somewhere.

There was also something about me being in the swimming baths and a cinema but I can’t remember very much about that except that there were a couple of girls there so i was making sure that I was swimming near them because they looked quite nice and interesting. There was yet more stuff too that slipped my mind as soon as I awoke, as well as some other stuff that you wouldn’t thank me for reading if you are eating your meal.

As it happens, I’ve never been to Burma (in fact I’ve never been further east than a little way beyond Moscow back in the early 80s) but I did once have a strange encounter with a Burmese girl called Warwar Soe about 20 years ago when I had the Opel Omega.

She sent me an e-mail right out of nothing to say “I’ve arrived in Belgium but I have no papers and I’m a clandestine. Can you help me?”

How come she had my information and how she thought that I could help her I really had no idea but naturally my curiosity got the better of me so I arranged to meet her. However her immaculate hair-do and tailored jeans and jacket made me smell a rather oversize rat and so I was intrigued to find out what her game was.

We met a couple of times subsequently because at the very least there might be a possibility of some indoor alligator-wrestling at some point in the proceedings and she was quite an attractive girl, but it gradually petered out and nothing ever came of it.

She did ring me back after about 6 months to say “I actually did have some papers” and that intrigued me even more but I was never able to find out any further information, to my regret.

Anyway, I digress … “as usual” – ed. After I had my medication (and how far is all of that from any indoor alligator-wrestling?) I came and checked my mails and messages and then paired off all of the music for the radio programme that I’ll be preparing (with a bit of luck) tomorrow.

That all took me nicely up to lunch.

After lunch I pressed on with the arrears of the journal from my time at Leuven and there are two further pages, SATURDAY’S and SUNDAY’S.

And Sunday’s was rather an unfortunate one because it touched rather a nerve with me.

Once more I have run out of Pizza dough so I had to make some more as well, and that turned out to be a very good batch. I think that I’ve got the hang of all of this now.

hang glider place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021By the time that I’d finished the dough it was time to go walkies.

And no sooner had I set foot outside the building before the shadow if the cold hand of doom fell upon me.

Actually it was another Nazgul going by overhead. There was some reasonable wind and that seemed to bring them out in force this afternoon. There were plenty of others that I could have photographed.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021Once he’d flown off elsewhere I could go over to the wall at the end of the car park to see what was happening down on the beach.

And this afternoon there was plenty of beach for it all to be happening upon because the tide was well out right now.

The sunny weather today had brought out the crowds and they were thronging down there in their masses, some even brave enough to go for a paddle in the water.

Over here we were in the shade but across the bay near St Martin they were having glorious sunshine.

people on beach place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021It wasn’t just down there on the beach at the Rue du Nord where the crowds had gathered.

There were plenty of people who had walked further along by the Place d’Armes. You don’t usually see many people this far along because there is no way back up the cliffs except by the steps at the Rue du Nord, but they don’t need to worry about the tide just yet.

And neither did I. I could travel along the path up here and only had the crowds of people to worry about.

hang glider brought down to earth pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021Other people had more to worry about than I did, though

Something or other, probably a sudden change in direction of a gust of wind, had brought down a Nazgul and its passengers. Either that or Legolas hiding in the bushes had had another lucky shot with his bow and arrow.

This time I was quick enough to seize the advantage in this situation. I went over to them for a chat and now I know where I need to go and to whom I need to speak in order to go for a lap around the headland on board a Nazgul.

hang glider taking off pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021While I walked away down to the end of the headland our gallant bird-man of Alcatraz and his passenger were busy untangling their Nazgul.

When they were finally ready and the wind was blowing in the correct direction they took to the air, cheered on by a crowds of enthusiastic watchers, and disappeared off into the sky.

My route continued down along the path and across the car park towards the end of the headland.

35ma light aeroplance pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021At this point I was overflown by an aeroplane heading off into the sunset.

It’s our old friend 35MA having taken off from the airfield near Donville les Bains. But there’s no point my trying to tell you where it’s going because it hasn’t filed a flight plan, it’s not picked up on radar and its registration number isn’t in the database to which I have access.

There was nothing whatever going on in the bay this afternoon, presumably because the tide is well out so all of the port gates are closed so nothing can leave or arrive.

portable boat lift chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021From the end of the headland my walk took me down the path along the top of the cliffs towards the port.

Nothing going on in the chantier naval of course because the portable boat lift is out of action. And it does look sad standing there in the middle of the yard without its wheels.

Here’s hoping that they fix whatever is wrong with it quite quickly and the chantier naval is back in action soon.

There wasn’t anything happening at the ferry terminal either. Everything is either out at sea or tied up in the inner harbour.

l'omerta fish processing plant port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021But L’Omerta is there in her habitual place, settled in the silt at the side of the fish processing plant.

She seems to be living there now, when she isn’t in the chantier naval. And that’s a mystery as to why she isn’t tied up in the inner harbour like everyone else.

Back at the apartment the pizza dough had risen nicely so I split it into three portions, oiled a couple and put them in the freezer. The third I left for a moment because the ‘phone started to ring.

Rosemary was on the line wanting a chat so we had a good discussion and then I had to go and deal with the pizza, roll out the dough and put it in the tray to rise ready for tea.

While the pizza was rising I was transcribing dictaphone notes for the next few days. I have to catch up before I go to Leuven in 10 or so days time so I’m going to be pretty rushed.

vegan pizza place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021Later on I assembled the pizza and put it in the oven to bake. And when it was finished it lookd really delicious.

Furthermore, it tasted just as good as it looked as well. One of my more successful efforts although I do with that the underneath would cook as well as the top. I can’t lower the rack in the oven any more than it is.

So now that’s eaten, the washing up is done and the journal entry is written, I’m off to bed. It’s an early start and a long day tomorrow dealing with the radio programme and going to the physiotherapy.

With all of that going on, I need to be at my best.

Sunday 31st October 2021 – JUST LOOK AT …

vegan pizza home made bread place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021… this gorgeous loaf of bread that I have made! I think that I’ve finally after all this time mastered the technique of having the correct shape.

And I hope that it tastes as good as it looks. Why shouldn’t it? The pizza that I made was one of the best that I have ever made so the bread ought to be the same. I can’t wait until tomorrow to try it.

But let’s turn our attention to today instead. And for once in my life in recent times, I actually had a really decent night’s sleep. I fell into bed at about 00:30.

Apart from one or two brief moments I slept all the way through to 10:40 too – or 11:40, because we changed the time today. I hope that you did too. Put the clock back one hour if you live in the real world.

But if you live in the United Kingdom under the Tories, set your clock back 200 years to workhouses and foundlings’ homes, kids working up chimneys and underneath weaving looms, abandoned kids living on the streets and desperate women prostituting themselves in order to be able to earn some money to buy food.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I had promised to eschew politics on my pages, but sometimes it’s just not possible.

Having taken my medication it took me a while to sort myself out as usual. I was living with Nerina last night and we had our house. I’d actually parked a car on the lawn to do something while she was out and then put the car back. She came back and thought that she’d detected the trace of a car. I assured her that there wasn’t and I hadn’t done. The next-door neighbour came round and was talking to Nerina. She went totally berserk afterwards because of the car that the neighbour had mentioned. I had a huge row with the neighbour and Nerina had a huge row with me. The neighbour had a door from my garage that went into her house which she didn’t normally use but she decided that she was going to start to use it so I decided that I would fit a bolt on the door to stop her. This led to Nerina packing her bags. I had a heart-to-heart talk with her. I don’t know whether the situation cooled down. She went through to the kitchen to talk to this woman while I started to make this bolt to assemble to put on the door anyway but everything was hanging in the air.

Later on I was in Canada with my niece and her husband and talking about library books, taking them back. There was a box with some old library books in it that were for sale as no longer used. One was a Haynes manual for Cortinas MkI and MkII made in Canada. of course I was extremely interested in this and went to take it. All I needed now was a car to go with it. He started to tell me about a couple of old cars that he knew of round near where he lived but it was a question of whether they had any Cortinas and whether I could prise any away from their owners.

Having done that I paired off the music for the next radio programme that I’ll be preparing tomorrow. Hopefully I’ll get a good start on it as I’m not going anywhere until later in the afternoon.

Once that was finished I uploaded last night’s photos to the computer and checked them through. Not very many – a mere 163 of them all told. That is going to be a lot of work to edit all of those, but it needs to be done, and soon too

After lunch I made a start on the journal entry from yesterday but I didn’t make much progress. After about an hour or so I had to knock off to go and make the dough for my loaf of bread. I need something for my salad to go on tomorrow lunchtime.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021having finished the dough and leaving it to proof, I wandered off outside for my afternoon walk.

Down to the end of the car park I went for a peer over the wall to see what was happening on the beach. There weren’t very many people down there this afternoon, and a couple of those seemed to be on the point of leaving it.

That was quite probably because there wasn’t all that much beach to be on right now. the tide is well up by now and those who are staying down there will need to get a move on if they want to leave with dry feet.

waves on water baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021It’s not just the tide that is going to be causing them a problem either.

Although the wind is nothing like as bad as it has been, there’s obviously something major going on somewhere out at sea because just look at the height of these waves coming in.

These will roll onto the beach and push up a lot higher than they ordinarily would in calmer weather, and many people don’t seem to take that into account when they go onto the beach with a rough sea like this.

ile de chausey baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021The weather that had created these waves seemed to be so intense that I had a look out to see what was going on over at the Ile de Chausey.

You can see that something is happening there judging by the haze or mist that’s out there obscuring the view. And that white boat out there was playing “peek-a boo” with us. Sometimes you could see it, and other times it was hidden by a big wave.

On the path down to the headland there were plenty of people, and I seem somehow to have lost or misplaced my facemask and I couldn’t remember where I’d put my other one so I was without. I hope that this isn’t going to be a sign of anything.

people near cabanon vauban pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021Across the path and the car park and down to the end of the headland I was catching the full effects of whatever it was that was going on.

And it wasn’t just me who was taking advantage of it either. There were a couple of people who had just come down the steps and they were presumably waiting for someone else to join them.

If they were to sit down on the bench there, they would have a grandstand view of events. Just look at these waves, and I bet that they look even more impressive from even closer to.

waves on sea wall port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021That reminded me that I ought to go to check the sea wall at the outer harbour. It was something of a damp squib last time I looked, so I was hoping for something better today.

Off along the path on top of the headland, I stopped at a suitable place to see how the waves were doing. And I didn’t have long to wait.

This isn’t the best that we have seen – far from it – but it’s still better than what we’ve been seeing just recently. And I bet that those people standing on the sea wall were enjoying every minute of it.

air sea rescue helicopter place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021They say that it’s an ill wind that doesn’t blow anyone any goos, and certainly someone’s not having the best of it.

That’s the air-sea rescue helicopter that has just gone flying by overhead on its way back to base. I wonder it it’s been out on an emergency rescue.

Back here I gave the dough a second kneading and shaping and then started to prepare my pizza. As well as all of that I scrubbed, diced and blanched 2 kilos of carrots that I had bought yesterday, spoke to someone on the internet about the somg “Grasshopper” that I’ve mentioned quite often recently, and spent all of the evening chatting to a friend (I do have one) in the UK.

So now, everything is done, my notes are written and so I’m off to bed. An early start in the morning and I have a lot to do. So I need my sleep.

Tuesday 26th October 2021 – I’VE NOT HAD …

… a very good day today. I mentioned yesterday that I felt that I was feeling as if I was having something of a relapse and today I think that it caught up with me today.

Last night I was in bed fairly early and I had a very sound sleep – for a couple of hours, and then it all went wrong. Once I’d awoken, I found it very difficult to go back to sleep. That is – until about 5 minutes before the alarm went off, as you might expect.

During the night I’d been on my travels too. I’d been out for a meal with my niece, her husband and one or two of her daughters. We got to this Indian restaurant but I had to nip off and do something. There was an engine in the hallway in Vine Tree Avenue and I wanted to take it up to my bedroom to work on it but it was leaking oil everywhere so I had to wash my way behind it, clean up all of the oil and everything, stack it on newspapers and so on. Then I could go back to this meal. They already had their food and were well on their way through it so I apologised. My niece said something like “I don’t think I like you any more Eric”. It really was embarrassing because I didn’t have any meal at all in this restaurant.

Later on I had my brother with me again in a car. We were going somewhere to meet a girl. We went along Bradfield Road and there was a garage on the right-hand side and there was one further on the left over the railway bridge. I asked if the one further on the left was open. Everyone seemed to think that it was so I went there but it was closed so I had to go back to the other one. I put enough fuel in to get us down towards Middlewich and then drove off. For some reason I had to go back and get more fuel. I went back but this time that garage was open. We fought our way in through the crowds to fuel up. There was a girl there who worked in the petrol station handing out 4x£1:00 notes to everyone fuelling up. I put in some fuel and grabbed my money. My brother grabbed some money too and in fact grabbed some more of another girl. We drove out and the subject came round to this girl. I knew who she was but I had to find out where she was. I had to look on this chart and everything. Eventually I found her. She was 56C. Then I thought “I’d better go back and get more petrol”. I asked my brother “are you going to come back with me?”. he said “no”, got off and went into a shop. I turned round ready to go back and get more petrol and hopefully get more money as well.

After the medication, I couldn’t find the energy to start work and ended up sitting here vegetation for several hours while I tried to summon up something. Eventually I ended up wading through a pile of photographs, sorting out the duplicates and deleting the unwanted files.

After lunch, feeling a little (if not very much) better, I scanned all of the documents that I’d received from the cardiologist as well as the receipts that related to my visits yesterday. I don’t want to end up like I did the other day with 18 months worth of receipts, some of them missed and some of them out of time.

Once that was done I made a series of ‘phone calls to Leuven. After being passed from pillar to post, I eventually, after much binding in the marsh, ended up with the secretary of the Cardiology Unit.

She told me to write a mail with all of my details and a resumé of my case, and attach the photocopies of the report that I had received, and that took much longer than it ought to have done as well.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021All of that took me up to the time to go for my afternoon walk.

First port of call is the wall at the end of the car park where I can peer over and down onto the beach to see what was happening.

There were plenty of people wandering around on the path but for some reason or other, the beach was strangely deserted. All I could see was this guy standing on a sandbank at the water’s edge.

There was what looked like a pile of clothes or a bag or something on the rocks nearby, but I couldn’t tell if they belonged to him. I couldn’t see anyone swimming in the water.

trawlers baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021Looking out to sea, I couldn’t see any boats of any description with my naked eye but there was a glint of sunlight on glass somewhere out there.

Consequently I took a speculative photograph with the idea of enlarging it and enhancing it when I returned home so that I could see if there was anything exciting happening out there.

In fact, it turns out that there were half a dozen fishing boats in that sector of the bay. With so many boats having been refused (for the moment) the right to fish in the Jersey sector of the Bay, they are exploring other avenues.

fishing boats ile de chausey baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021Such as just offshore at the Ile de Chausey.

In all of the time that we have been living here, we’ve never seen fishing boats operating that close to the islands.

The issue about fishing permits is that the Jersey authorities are insisting on proof that the boats have previously fished in the bay, but many of the smaller boats are not equipped with radar or AIS equipment and so don’t have print-outs to show where they have been fishing.

Incidentally, this dispute has nothing to do with Brexit. The Channel islands, despite being a British territory, were never part of the European Union and fishing in the bay was regulated by Normandy, Brittany and the Channel Islands under the Treaty of the Bay of Granville 1834.

The Channel Islands have simply leapt on board the Brexit bandwagon to use it as an excuse to unilaterally revoke the Treaty and keep the fishing grounds to themselves.

But as I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed …. the Channel Islanders can catch as much fish as they like but it all counts for nothing if they are prevented by the French fishermen from landing their catch at a French fish market.

Since this situation has escalated, I’ve not seen a single Channel Island trawler permitted to unload here.

35ma aeroplane place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021While I was admiring the maritime activity, an aeroplane came flying by overhead.

It’s another one of these light aeroplanes with a registration number that is out of the run of the normal series.

We’ve seen this one on several occasions in the past. She’s registered as 35MA but apart from that, I’ve never been able to find out any more about her.

Now that all of that is out of the way, I could head off down the path towards the lighthouse.

sunset on water baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021another thing that I mentioned yesterday was that now that the sun is lower in the sky, we’ll be having some interesting effects out in the bay.

And sure enough, this afternoon we have another really good one. It’s not quite up to the TORA TORA TORA standard as far as the rays from the sunshine through gaps in the clouds go, but the reflection of the sun on the water is really impressive.

What was sad about this was that there was no-one else watching it. No-one was sitting on the bench down by the cabanon vauban this afternoon enjoying the view, and no fishermen out on the rocks either.

chausiaise joly france ferry terminal port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021Walking along the path on top of the cliffs, I came to the viewpoint overlooking the tidal harbour.

Over by the ferry terminal we have one of the Joly France ferries, the newer one if I’m not mistaken. Behind her is Chausiaise, the little freighter that runs out to the islands. She was parked at the loading bay under the crane when we last saw her.

The chantier naval was strangely deserted today. Since Yann Frederic went back into the water, no-one has come into take her place. It’s quite rare these days to see the yard looking so empty.

workmen's compound boulevard des terreneuviers Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021Further along on my walk I could have a good look down into the Boulevard des Terreneuviers.

The work must still be proceeding in the Rue Cambernon because the workmen’s compound down there hasn’t yet been dismantled and there seems to be plenty of activity with all of the signage, piles of sand and gravel and all of the machinery.

Back at the apartment I found that the postman had left me some presents so I brought them up here and made myself a coffee.

Having drunk the coffee I made a start on sorting out the paperwork for filing but regrettably I fell asleep. I thought that I’d gone through all of that but Sunday and today have been a big disappointment in that respect.

Tea was taco rolls with the remainder of yesterday’s stuffing lengthened with a small tin of kidney beans and then I came here to type up my notes.

Right now I’m absolutely exhausted and I’ve no idea why. It’s like the bad old days of a couple of months ago that I thought that I’d put behind me. I’m going to go to bed in the hope that I’ll sleep it off and have a better day tomorrow.

Wednesday 21st July 2021 – YOU CAN TELL …

zodiac speedboat baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall… just what kind of day it4s been today? just by looking at a few photos that i took.

While I was out at the Pointe du Roc this afternoon there was the infernal racket once more as a rather large zodiac went roaring past, fully-loaded with passengers.

At least they were all wearing lifejackets, so it seemed, and that’s good news because it’s not every boat that sets out with its passengers properly equipped.

And as to where they are going or where they have come from, I’ve no idea. But wherever is their destination, they are cracking on as if they have le feux dans les fesses as they say around here, and are scorching past that speedboat, which is nothing like as speedy as the zodiac.

trawler l'alize 3 galapagos yacht rebelle chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallMeanwhile, while we are on the subject, it seemed that I arrived at the chantier naval at just about the right time this afternoon.

What with everything going on out at sea, it’s no surprise to see that one of the trawlers that was in there also has itchy feet.

You’ll notice that while there is still the yacht Rebelle, we only have two trawlers, L’Alize 3 and the new one whose name I have yet to discover, up there on blocks.

So where has Galapagos, the other trawler that was up on blocks, gone? Have a look very carefully at the portable boat lift. Can you see it in the cradle being lowered into the water in the harbour?

This morning I couldn’t see anything at all. Never mind STARRY-EYED AND LAUGHING I was bleary-eyed and coughing as I crawled from my stinking pit as the alarm went off at 08:00.

After the pile of meds that I’m obliged to take these days, I had a listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been on my travels during the night. We were out last night again with the family, some of us, and I was with a girl and I can’t remember who she was again. She went off for a little stroll round where we were standing and fell in with someone who was quite a famous singer. He gave her a great big kiss so she was talking to him and sitting on a seat, though my wife didn’t mind. When they were sitting on these seats there was an odd number and someone was being left out. In the end they came back to my place, a caravan or something, and went over to where my niece, her husband and a few others were standing, grabbed hold of my niece and took her over there instead (… I fell asleep here …) anyway these guys and other people came over after us after we had gone back and I wasn’t quite sure why but they ended up picking up my niece she and the person who was her daughter and one or two other people and these two famous stars all set off and wandered off.

Another thing as well was that I was with my and my mother somewhere in a big apartment but it was a cluttered place and you couldn’t get much furniture against the walls and I was going to be moving here so I had to work out which of my stuff I was going to throw away. But I was asleep standing up against the window and you don’t really want to know the rest because you are probably eating your tea right now. And it’s been a while since one of my nocturnal rambles has finished in a mass of blood and gore and stuff like that, although with my family involved, it’s more than likely.

Later on I had a ticket for the Cup Final and Liverpool were playing a lesser team. It was quite an ordinary stadium, not Wembley. I walked towards the stadium and then turned back and sat down at a seat. Terry said “aren’t you going in?” “In a minute” I replied and then I headed off in. I wanted to squeeze my way into the stands behind the goal but it was empty – just 2 or 3 people. I went to take a place right at the top but the fascia board of the stand roof obscured the view so I had to come a few rows down. Some one asked “are Liverpool the ones in red?”. I replied “quite likely” – then I drew the guy’s attention to the fact that the other team weren’t wearing a proper kit but all kinds of multicoloured buttoned shirts, all different.

It’s not really surprising, is it, that sometimes I awaken more tired than I was when I went off to sleep.

So having printed out … gulp … 29 pages of notes for today’s class, I made my hot chocolate and grabbed some fruit bread and attacked the lesson.

We whacked our way through the whole pile of stuff by the time we finished, bleary-eyed yet again. We are going at a frantic pace and it’s no surprise that one of our number seems to have fallen by the wayside.

One of our number comes from Nantwich, he daughter went to my Grammar School and she knows everywhere that I know. She’s a big rock fan too so I sent her a link to my radio shows (shameless self-publicist that I am) and a copy of the “Strife” concert that I featured as my live concert at the end of February.

There really wasn’t much time for anything else – it was walkies time, rather later than usual of course this week.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallNo matter how late I am, I always have to go for a look over the wall at the end of the car park down onto the beach below to see what’s happening there.

So off I toddled across the car park to look down on the beach and today, there was even less beach to look at than there was yesterday.

Plenty of people as well, some stretched out in the sun, others drying off and the rest splashing around in the sea like a bunch of demented dolphins.

A few kids today too – not many but certainly more than yesterday. And that beats me why there aren’t any more of them in weather like this in midsummer during a school holiday.

yacht baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallMeanwhile, as is my custom, while one pf my eyes was roving around the beach, the other one was roving out to sea to see what was going on there.

And we have another yacht today. I say “another” because I’m pretty certain that it isn’t the same one that we saw yesterday. It’s smaller for a start, and there seems to be only one man visible aboard her.

And although it looks as if she’s stationary, she is in fact moving slowly and she followed me all the way arund the headland.

And that reminds me of the man who went into the newsagency and asked the woman behind the counter if she kept stationery.
“Only until the last 10 seconds” she replied “and then I go berserk”.

Or as my doctor friend once told me about a young girl whom he was examining – “are you sexually active?” he asked her discreetly when her mother was out of earshot.
“No” she replied. “I just like there”.

la granvillaise baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that we saw this boat out here in the Baie de Granville yesterday.

Today, there is no doubt as to her identity. If you look very closely, you’ll see that she has her “old” registration number painted in black at the top of one of the sails as you will see if you look closely.

“G90” – so there is no doubt at all that she is in fact La Granvillaise as I thought yesterday. And she’s out again presumably doing a carbon-copy of yesterday’s trip around and about

And as you might expect, there’s another perishing speedboat roaring past her as she leisurely cruises around out at sea.

trawler baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallMeanwhile, while everyone seems to be out in the sea playing around, some other people are still having to work.

As I looked farther out to sea I could see something moving around out there and sure enough, it was indeed a local trawler setting out for the fishing grounds.

By the time that I’d spotted it, it was already way out to sea, sailing past the outlers to the north-east of the Ile de Chausey and going at quite a rate of knots.

From my spec, I cleared off across the car park to the end of the Pointe du Roc to see what was happening there.

And with nothing going on there of any more importance than we have already seen either, I headed off down the path.

charles marie entering port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut hang on a minute! I hadn’t gone very far before I had to stop to take another photograph.

Into the port comes a boat whom we haven’t seen for quite a while. I wasn’t quick enough to photograph it before it began to disappear from my view, but I reckon that even without seeing her name, she’s Charles Marie – another one of the boats that plies for hire in the harbour.

It’s been a while since we’ve seen her. She must have a full summer season booked up and is keeping herself really busy even despite Covid.

And I’m glad that someone is for it’s rather grim for some of the others, such as the Jersey ferry boats Granville and Victor Hugo.

coelacanthe leaving port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd as I watechd Charles Marie disappear out of my sight, something else came the other way. Instead of entering the harbour she was leaving it.

It’s only when Tiberiade and Coelacanthe are side by side that I can tell them apart. But cleverly enlarging the photo when I returned to the apartment later, I could see that the trawler that we have here is Coelacanthe.

She’s heading out for the fishing grounds too, I reckon, and is also in quite a hurry for she’s not hanging around. And also in this image – and the previous one too – is the yellow and white fishing boat who was in the chantier navale for a while and whose name I have forgotten yet again.

yacht school baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallA little further on around the path, we’re back in playtime again.

It looks as if it’s full sail ahead for the yachting schools today. There seem to be a couple of different ones and you can tell them apart by the colours of the sails of their boats.

They are all out there in the bay this afternoon making the most of things and I’m quite jealous. Had I not had this little problem a couple of months ago, who knows? I might even have been out there with them I’m determined to have a go at sailing one of these days and pick up another certificate to add to my collection.

goods on quayside port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallFrom here I can see down into the inner harbour and the loading bay where the little freighters load up.

It’s no surprise to see that Thora who we saw yesterday has gone out of harbour. The turnround of these boats is so quick these days.

Yet there’s another pile of stuff on the quayside. Either it’s stuff that Thora brought in with her or else one of the Jersey freighters will be coming back soon and it’s a load for her.

But one thing that is annoying me is that we haven’t seen a gravel boat here for ages. There’s a special kind of gravel found near Avranches and there’s a big ready-mix concrete and roadstone plant near Sittingbourne.

We used to have big 2,500 tonne bulk carriers in here every few months taking gravel to Sittingbourne but with Brexit and the collapse of the British construction industry, we haven’t seen one in ages.

trawler galapagos leaving chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut here’s something that we saw earlier this afternoon.

The trawler Galapagos was leaving the chantier naval earlier and was being lowered down into the water by the portable boat lift.

Now, she’s back in the water and giving her engines a little trial before presumably heading off into the wild blue yonder.

So what’s all this about “no fresh fish being sold until” …. whenever it was … then? She’s back in the water a long time before she’s due to start selling her produce, so has this overhaul been quicker than expected, or ar the crew all now going to be going off on holiday?

As for me, I’m going off back home because it’s late and I have things to do. And by the time that I had finished I’d missed my bass guitar practice. The acoustic practice I’d done at lunchtime.

Tea tonight was pasta and burger followed by more of my delicious apple turnover.

And now I’m off to bed. All fighting fit and ready for my Welsh lesson tomorrow. I don’t think.

Friday 4th June 2021 – CAN YOU IMAGINE …

… the shame of crashing out and falling asleep while you are talking to someone on the telephone.

And not once, but twice too, and to the same person. And I was definitely away with the fairies too because the second time that I slipped off there was a young schoolgirl in a traditional blue girls’ winter uniform handing me a piece of paper.

Mind you, it was one of my marathon chats that go on for, in this case, almost … errr … three hours, and you know just how well I’m (not) coping with afternoons just now.

Mornings though, I seem to be OK just now with those because once again I was up and about with the first alarm at 06:00. Feeling extremely perky too, which makes a change. Yes, lucky perky. As long as pinky doesn’t become jealous.

So after the medication, which takes much longer than it used to, first task was to see where I’d been on the dictaphone during the night.

And the answer was “nowhere”.

But never mind, that means that I have to edit two day’s worth of arrears of blog rather than one. And you can see where I’ve been, nocturnal voyages included, by going to THIS LINK and then THE FOLLOWING PAGE.

With that out of the way I took the bull by the horns and spent an hour revising my Welsh ready for next Thursday’s exam. Yes, me revising! Whatever next?

Well, next was dealing with a pile of correspondence that had built up. And I hop that Sean received my mail this morning. I had trouble getting it through.

And with that done, I made myself some hot chocolate, grabbed a slice of fruit bread (which is delicious by the way) and attacked the photos, bringing myself all the way to Independence Rock in Wyoming. That’s a very big, prominent rock in the middle of the Upper Wyoming Plain by the side of the Sweetwater River near Avoca.

It’s one of the more important trail markers and the emigrants on the trail and the emigrants on the Trails West reckoned that they needed to be there by Independence Day if they were to pass over the Rockies before the snows.

Edwin Bryant and his party, having broken away from the Donners due to their slowness and pushed on on their own, didn’t reach Independence Rock until 8th July 1846 and travelling much quicker with mules rather than waggons, they were still caught in frost up in the Rockies at the end of August.

The Donners didn’t arrive until 11th July and with no sense of urgency whatsoever, plodded on quite casually meeting disaster after disaster until the end of October when they were trapped in the snow near Truckee Lake at the foot of the Rockies and with no provisions remaining, began to eat each other.

Talking of eating, by the time that I’d done almost 50 photos it was lunchtime so I went to have lunch. That bread that I made is beautiful of course so I had a lovely lunch, and then I set to make a pile of hummus.

Or at least, I would have done had I had enough tahini. I’m certain that I had a couple of jars of it last time that I looked but like several other things that I’ve looked for in that kitchen, they are no longer there. I did what I could with what I had and while it will be a rather strange hummus.

the amount of garlic that I put in it means that it will be thoroughly wicked.

Then I had to ring Rosemary. I have a cunning plan and for that I need a suitable apprentice. And so we had a chat – for about three hours. That’s all. And as a result I was extremely late going out for my afternoon walk. More like an evening walk if you ask me.

fishermen in zodiac baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd of course I didn’t go far from my front door before I was side-tracked yet again by my favourite subject.

Fishing seems to be quite the thing right now, whether it’s men in boats or on rocks trying to catch the fish, or me making trenchant and pithy comments about them. Anyway this afternoon we have a couple of men armed with fishing rods in a zodiac cruising up and down looking for what I have no idea at all.

Eventually they found a suitable spot to park their boat and settle down. I really did think that they were going to cast their lines but another boat came up for a chat.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallSo that was that. I went about my business and strolled across the car park to look over the wall down onto the beach to see how things were going on down there.

There wasn’t very much beach for things to be going on on this afternoon. My rather late walk had meant that the tide was by now well in. But even so, a couple of people were down there enjoying themselves in the sun and, I hope, out of the wind because this afternoon the cold, bitter wind is back.

Not the kind of weather for me to be hanging around either. And not just that – I’ll be missing my guitar practice if I don’t get a wiggle on.

roofing college malraux place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut here’s a photo that I’ve been meaning to take ever since I came back from Leuven but always seemed to be forgetting.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we’ve been following the adventures of the roofers fixing the roof at the College Malraux across the car park from my place for longer than anyone cares to remember.

However, right now it looks as if they might actually have finished. All the tiles are on anyway even if the scaffolding is still there. We’ll have to keep an eye on that to see if it disappears.

Actually, I could do with a couple of bays myself.

yacht baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallIt’s not just zodiacs that are out there on the water enjoying themselves today. I’d seen something moving on the water in the distance so I walked down the footpath and across the car park to the end of the headland for a closer look.

It’s actually a yacht that’s out there today, and there’s a full load of people on board by the looks of things. I bet that they are having a bumpy ride out there in the wind today. As you can tell by the whitecaps on the waves, it’s quite a lively sea this afternoon.

The sea is certainly more lively than I am right now. I feel as if I’ve aged about 20 years while I was in hospital. I staggered off down the path to see what I could see.

unidentified aircraft pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhile I was on my way down the path towards the viewpoint overlooking the port, I was overflown by an aeroplane.

It was quite high up and I couldn’t see it clearly. I thought that it might have been the Ryanair flight from Faro to Newcastle upon Tyne that flies overhead round about this time, but in fact it seems to be a turbo-prop aeroplane, so that rules out Ryanair.

It’s hard to tell anything really at the height that it was flying. I can’t even read the registration number on this kind of resolution so I don’t have a clue as to what it might be, which is a shame. It’s the first decent-sized plane that we’ve seen for a while.br clear=”both”>

aircraft 55-oj pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallIt’s not just large aircraft that we haven’t seen for a while. There’s not been much in the way of light aircraft either. However one of them overflew me while I was looking down at the harbour

From this angle I couldn’t see the registration number, so I carried on with my observation of what was going on down below. And there was nothing new of any importance. The trawler Hera is still in the chantier navale along with that strange hulk, and that was my lot today.

Nothing of any excitement in port either Normandy Trader is of course long-gone and we haven’t seen Thora for quite a while either. I hope that she’s okay.

aeroplane 55-oj pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBy now the small aeroplane that overflew me just now has done a U-turn over the Baie de Mont St Michel and is heading back to the airport at Donville les bains.

And I can see its registration number too – OJ-55 and we’ve seen her before, but I’ve still not found out who or what she actually is. That number isn’t any number of any series that I have ever seen or have access to.

Anyway I came home, grabbed a coffee and came in here because it was guitar time. And so ngrid rang me and we had quite a chat too although I was exhausted and couldn’t concentrate.

And that was the story of my bass guitar practice too. No concentration tonight. This isn’t doing me any good at all, all of this.

For tea I had chips and falafel, fried in Rachel’s microwave cooker. takes a while but does a good job eventually. With the little salad that I had, it was good stuff. Especially when followed down by apple crumble and thick custard. What can be better?

A good sleep would be a start, so I’m not hanging around. Despite the interruptions I had a really busy day today and yesterday. Shopping tomorrow, which will cost me an arm and a leg, and then Sunday is a Day of Rest.

And I can’t wait.

Wednesday 26th May 2021 – IT’S VERY NICE …

… to see how people are rallying round at moments like this. For example, I had a ‘phone call from Canada today to see how I was, I’ve had internet chats with people galore, Alison came to the hospital to visit me and brought me a load of supplies, and even people with whom I’m merely on a nodding acquaintance have said “hello”.

Mind you, that’s probably something due to a posting that I made on my social network today. Despite having two blood transfusions already, my blood count is falling rapidly. It’s now at 7.3 which is lower than it has been for several years and I’ve had another transfusion this evening.

If they can’t bring about a halt to all of this, it’ll mean that my roaming days are over. We’re now back at Square One and they are talking about bone marrow sampling. That means that we are back with the leukemia possibility, which was where we started out all those years ago.

Certainly, a lot of the tests that they have carried out on me in this hospital are the kinds of tests that they would use on a potential leukemia sufferer. I can’t help but have the feeling that we are building up to a climax.

Mantally, I’m quite lively and alert so as long as I have that I’ll be fine for a while.

And certainly after last night. It might not have been particularly early when I went to bed but sleeping right the way through until 08:07 when the nurses awoke me was quite relaxing.

Once I was awake we had an endless stream of visitors like you would normally have – doctors, nurses, health visitors and so on. And in between all of this I managed to fit in a shower and a clothes washing session.

Another thing about which I was pleased is that following my operation on Saturday night/Sunday morning, I have managed to do something that I haven’t done since then. But I’ll spare you all the gory details because it’s probably tea time where you lot are.

But the operation that I had has brought me some bad news, although all of the nurses and the rest of the female staff can now walk around in perfect safety.

Lunch was this beautiful coconut curry thing that I have had before and it really is delicious.

This afternoon there were relatively few interruptions so I could make another start on writing the notes for a radio programme. But it’s pretty slow going with people coming and going and being in a bed it’s not the most comfortable or inspiring environment.

One thing that I did do – for the first time for a week – was to check the dictaphone. And there are 11 audio files on there. I would have had a go at transcribing them but unfortunately I fell asleep – not once but a couple of times. In fact when Alison arrived, I was away in the Land of Nod somewhere.

Some time later I managed to have a listen. It’s another one of these trials where a girl has to go as she has witnessed things that she shouldn’t have but she’s been adopted by the military so another girl has to join the military to be able to look after her so she does join the military. As all of her basic training goes round to see her. There’s a whole group of couples living somewhere that a flood or a fire had forced them to live and they were gradually dying out one by one. They daren’t tell the authorities who they are or the authorities would round them up and herd them away. They would rather die amongst friends. Anyway this girl was going around from place to place … and these people were scared on this island. The keep on dying and there are very few survivors and they don’t know who to contact next in order to keep alive. That other girl, even the big dog of the family is pleased to see her

Later on I was with a girl who I was very keen on at school last night, would you believe? We started off with some kind of casual meeting between a few of us and this meeting went on until there were just the 2 of us. We were there chatting and she was saying “well, Eric, I always liked you. You always have this air of happiness about you and you’re pretty down to earth and frank and so on”. At the end of this long conversation I had my arm around her and things developed. I was about to ask her to go out with me. I’m sure she would but we were driving somewhere while this was going on, up and down some steep hills rather like the road between Tunstall and Hanley although it wasn’t – it was a much nicer place than that. We were talking about sacks. She was saying how she wanted some sacks for her friend’s child’s sack race at school. I said that we had some but they were only plastic. I knew that because earlier we’d been cleaning the house from top to bottom and emptying tons of stuff out. I’d started right at the top, sitting on top of the door cleaning the light fittings and the ceiling, working my way down towards the floor. I’d been working in the kitchen, cleaning out the kitchen, spraying the walls with this stuff ready to wash and I’d come across some sacks that had wood in them that I’d got from Darren. I said “yes, I could let you have a sack.” She said “should we have a sack as well? Should we have a go?” I was not all that keen but in the end I said “OK, I’ll get a sack and we can have a go as well”. By this time we were sitting in the middle of the road in this busy road junction. There was a Standard Pennant behind us. That moved out of the way. Then a bus came and I thought that he would catch us on his cow catcher but he managed to go round us and go off to where he was going. Then her phone rang. It was one of her friends so she said “OK Eric, you get out and go and do something for a minute”. She obviously wanted to speak to this friend on her own so I got out of the car. But this girl, hey? After 50 years.

Anyway, now I’m off to bed – well, actually, I’m already there, but what I mean is that I’m going to settle down for the night. It’s comparatively early so I might watch a film. In the old days that was a guaranteed cure for insomnia but these days it provokes it, and even brings some added complications.

But these days I’m quite safe. There’s not much of me remaining that they can cut off.

Monday 26th April 2021 – AS YOU MIGHT EXPECT …

… I’ve not had a very good day today. It seems to be the case whenever I come back from Leuven after my treatment. It always takes its toll of me.

And despite the early-ish night last night I didn’t have a very good sleep, and in particular for one very good reason that many men my age will understand, and I had hoped that I had passed through that stage a couple of years ago.

There are tons of stuff on the dictaphone too but that will have to wait until later because I forgot about transcribing it today. For a start, I was far too busy radioing this morning after I awoke. I wanted to finish that off while I was still conscious.

And sure enough, having done some of it while I was in Leuven I was able to have it all done and dusted, up and running by 11:30. And while I was listening to it, I extracted some more Louis de Funès soundbites from one of the many soundtracks that I have. My little Funès library is building up quite nicely.

There had been a pause for my hot chocolate and sourdough fruitbread, and I can say without exaggeration that it’s the best sourdough fruitbread that I’ve ever made. It’s still a little too heavy but not as heavy as it has been in the past.

There’s another live concert to send off to the radio station for broadcasting at the coming weekend so after lunch I had a listen to that too to make sure that it was correct. And while that was at it, I edited a few more photos from August 2019. I’ve now arrived in Edgerton, Wyoming, the centre of the Wyoming oil industry.

And such is the enthralling life that I lead, I took some of the rubbish out to the waste bins. Does it get more exciting than this?

As usual, I went out for my afternoon walk around the headland.

bouchots harvesting donville les bains Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallFirst port of call was the wall at the end of the car park, to put my head over the top and look at what was going on down on the beach.

It wasn’t so much the people in the immediate vicinity that caught my eye, but the work that was going on out in the distance by Donville les Bains where the harvesting of the bouchots is in full swing.

The tides right now are among the lowest (and the highest) of the year and so all of the beds are accessible to the tractors and other machinery that they use down there. I can’t recall seeing so many of the beds all uncovered at once, so now is the time to harvest them.

The advantage of bouchots over the more traditional types of mussels is that with being grown on strings instead of in the sand, they don’t taste gritty.

Chasing my cap across the car park, I set off on the path along the cliffs. The wind was quite wicked this afternoon and while my cap found it easy enough to move about, it was rather more difficult to me.

biodiversity pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere’s been an interesting sign erected on the lawn by the lighthouse, as I noticed this afternoon.

Basically, it’s telling us that in the interests of biodiversity and a greener planet, they are going to be delaying the mowing of the lawn here to give the grass, flowers and wildlife a chance to establish itself.

And that’s something that I would take far more seriously had I not seen the council workmen cutting the grass and doing some pruning around here a day or two before I went off to Leuven.

That was something that gave me food for thought as I carried on my way around the headland this afternoon.

fishing boat english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallNot that I progressed very much further because my attention was drawn to something moving out at sea on its way back from the Ile de Chausey.

At first, I was wondering whether it might be Joly France performing a ferry run back from the Ile De Chausey or whether it was Chausiais performing a freight lift from the island. But on second thought I ruled that out because with the tide being so far out right now, they would not be able to get into the harbour when they arrived.

But as it happens, it’s neither of them. It’s actually one of the smaller fishing boats on her way back. Her colour scheme is similar to that of Cherie d’Amour, the yellow fishing boat that was up on blocks in the chantier navale the other day.

fishing boats baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAlthough she won’t be going into the harbour, she might be going to join her friends in the Baie de Mont St Michel.

As regular readers of this rubbish might recall, there has been nothing going on in the bay for quite a while but suddenly a couple of weeks ago the fishing boats began to put in a appearance over there. I wasn’t sure that they would still be there right now but there are still a few of them dredging and trawling away out there this afternoon.

Unfortunately, with the sun shining right into the camera lens and all of the haze that’s out there I’m not able to see exactly who it is out there fishing today.

fishing from rocks pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd it’s not just on the water this afternoon that the fishing is going on.

There are piles of fishermen there with rod and line, each one perched on his own rock like a little garden gnome, casting his line into the water. And, as you might expect, I didn’t see a one of them actually catch anything. I’ve long-since given up all hope of doing that.

For a few minutes I waited, on the off-chance that someone would pull something out, but in the end I lost interest and moved on along the path.

But while we are on the subject of garden gnomes, the Flemish for “garden gnome” is tuinkabouter, which has to be one of the best words in any language.

diggers working on entrance to port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallNow here’s something interesting going on out at the harbour entrance.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that yesterday I commented on the new chains that had been laid in the inner harbour, and I said something along the lines that they don’t seem to have had all that much for their time and money.

And as usual, I’m proved immediately wrong because the work is continuing out there now that we are at the very lowest of tides. They are digging out the silt at the harbour entrance with the aim of presumably deepening the entrance.

Does that mean a return to the port of some of the larger freighters who used to come here in the past? We haven’t seen a gravel boat in here for quite a while and we could do with a few more of those, as well as a couple of other large freighters coming into port.

anakena trawlers chantier navale port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut something that seems to be doing good business right now is the chantier navale.

A thriving ship repairer is always good news for the port because it encourages more ships and boats to operate out of the harbour if they know that they can be maintained and overhauled in the immediate vicinity.

We still have Anakena here, and Aztec Lady is still up on blocks too, but out of shot. But we have also acquired two more small fishing boats this morning, presumably in for an overhaul and maintenance. I can’t see their names unfortunately so I might have to go for a good walk down there one of these days for a closer look to see who they are.

port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut never mind who’s in there today. What’s much more interesting is who isn’t in there.

As we can see, the inner harbour is quite empty today, particularly down there at the bottom left-hand corner. It looks as if Marité has gone walkabout this afternoon. Gone! And never called me mother! I wonder where she went because I didn’t notice her out at sea just now.

On that note I came back to the apartment and made myself a mug of hot coffee, and armed with that I made a start at long last on updating the blog notes of my journey down the Brittany coast last summer. Unfortunately, I fell asleep while I was doing it.

That wasn’t a good start, was it?

The hour on the guitars wasn’t as good as it might have been. I think that I must be rusty after my week away. But it’s no good if I lose my technique after just a few days.

Tea was some veggie balls that I’d brought back from Leuven, with steamed veg and vegan cheese sauce, followed by some of the apple crumble. And wasn’t that delicious too? I really enjoyed that.

Anyway, what was on the dictaphone?

I was in Canada last night and my niece and her husband were getting ready to go out for a meal or something. She was in a gorgeous pink dress and he was dressed up in his bow tie thing. She was driving so I said “why don’t I drive you there and come back, and then come back and pick you up later on at night”? They didn’t seem to be to keen on the idea so I asked them why. They replied that they didn’t want me to have an accident late at night, that kind of thing. He had some photocopies from work. It turned out that he had photocopied the local newspaper from that area with all the classified ads. I started to look through it. He said that the motorbike’s number begins with 505 that you want. So how did they know that I was looking for a motorbike? But someone came up with a number and I looked at it and there was a place up in the hills that has plenty of motorbikes to look at. Just then a big lorry pulled up outside. My niece’s husband looked and said “it’s the cappuccino lorry. He’s left it a bit late hasn’t he”?

Later on I can’t remember now who I was with but we were around the UK somewhere and we were discussing pronunciation, about how people in Eastern Derbyshire should be pronouncing things with a Yorkshire accent. Someone came out with a few examples. We were listening to the radio and a couple of cars went past us, like a 1935 Rolls Royce and a slightly more modern vehicle. They went past at about 80mph and we were astonished because vehicles that age aren’t meant to go that fast on modern roads. For a start the braking distances are rubbish on old vehicles. As we were talking about that a kind of go-cart pulled up. It had no wheels on it, just driving on the brake hubs. It pulled up and a guy got off it, unclipped the engine and walked into the room, warehouse or garage where we were. I tried to take a photo of it but when I went to photograph it someone stood in front of me took one. The person concerned aske me “are you going to finish taking your photos”? I replied “I haven’t taken one yet because of you”. I was talking to this guy. It was a 50cc friction drive engine, he did tell me the name – was it Jawa? He just unclipped it and carried it in, and told everyone that he was thinking of fitting it to his son’s Montesa motorbike that he had just bought because it had a kind of Montesa fitting. I asked if this was a vehicle that he could drive on the road with no tax, no driving licence or anything. He said that he had an American driving licence so rules were different for him. He explained that most people don’t think very much about Wetherby – the council at Wetherby but he always found them pretty good. I explained to him the problems that I was having about having a driving licence and insurance for Strider.

Now having written up my notes, I’m off for an early night. And if you are still here reading this on your own, I’ll leave you with SOME OF THE WORST CENTRAL DEFENDING that you’ll ever see in top-flight football.

Saturday 10th April 2021 – WOO-HOO – I’M VACCINATED!

Yes, I’ve now had both my jabs and I have a Certificate to prove it too! At least I shall be in the forefront of the queue whenever normal service is resumed.

That’s not to say that I’m going to be perfectly safe. I’ve had the Pfizer vaccination so I’m now about 95% safe against current strains of the virus but there are no details about how I’ll be covered against any new strains and in any case I could carry the vaccine around and infect others.

So I still have to be careful whatever I do. I can’t throw caution to the wind.

Mind you, I did throw caution to the wind last night because what with one thing or another it was long after 01:00 when I finally went to bed.

Nevertheless I still managed to crawl out of my stinking pit a 06:00 when the first alarm went off. It just confirms my suspicions that the issues that I’ve been having about leaving my bed have nothing to do with any physical complaint.

First thing was to grab the medication and the second thing was to listen to the dictaphone to see if I’d been anywhere during the night. In fact I was doing something last night and I can’t remember what it was but I ended up in Canada. It was something to do with cars ad I can’t remember at all. I ended up at my niece’s. One of her daughters was there and feeling very happy with herself because she had taken some courses to improve her reading ability. The had studied these courses for 12 months and when I arrived there I found that she had received a Diploma award from the Open University for English speaking and she was absolutely delighted. And of course so was I because she deserves something like that.

There was time to have a whack at some of the photos from North America from August 2019 before going for a shower, and then I made a coffee in my thermal mug, grabbed some crackers and then leapt into Caliburn.

And I did too, because the door opened quite easily this morning which is very good news.

It was pouring with rain this morning so it was a pretty miserable drive up north towards Valognes. There was a lot of things to see on the way but the rain put a complete dampener on everything.

There was something that I stopped to see on my way north, because there was a good view from inside Caliburn.

Calvaire de Le Plessis-Lastelle Manche Normandy France Eric HallThis is the Calvaire de Le Plessis-Lastelle on the outskirts of the town of Le Plessis-Lastelle.

It’s formerly the site of a castle on a nice high ridge and was destroyed during a revolt against Duke William of Normandy in 1047. It was rebuilt later but fell into disrepair, although a traveller in 1835 remarked that it was still in reasonable condition.

In 1911 the locals transformed what remains of the site into a Calvary but during the fighting in Normandy in 1944 it was very badly damaged. A programme of restoration was finished in 1967 and this is how it appears today.

And that reminds me of the story that I heard about the renovation of the Calvary after the war. There was a call for designs for the Calvary but due to a misunderstanding on the telephone, someone sent in a drawing of George Custer on his horse.

hospital simone veil valognes Manche Normandy France Eric HallEventually, 15 minutes early I arrived at the hospital.

As you can see, it looks quite … errr … interesting from the front. It’s actually an old Benedictine Abbey and as it came into the possession of the State in 1803 one can easily imagine that it was a prize of the Revolution. It was registered as an ancient monument in 1937.

When the hospital was inaugurated in 1977 it didn’t have a particular name but it was opened by Simone Veil who was Minister of Health – the fist female to hold the post – at the time. When she died in 2018 the hospital was given her name.

hospital simone veil valognes Manche Normandy France Eric HallRound the back though, it’s totally different, with all kinds of modernisations having been undertaken.

When I came here before, the Vaccination Centre was under there but seeing it all in darkness and it being a Saturday morning, I was full of foreboding.

A sign on the door said “Vaccination Centre now moved to …. (another address in town)” so I had to leap back into Caliburn, type the address into the Satnave and let the Lady Who Lives In The Satnav plot me a course.

Eventually I arrived at the Sports Centre on the other side of town where I had my injection, was given my certificate and left to fester for 15 minutes before they threw me back out into the rain.

My route back was a different one from my way out so there were new things to see on the way home.

chateau de saint saveur le vicomte Manche Normandy France Eric HallAs I came down the hill into Saint Saveur le Vicomte I was confronted by this beautiful building here. I had to do a U-turn and go back up the hill to find a good viewpoint where I could stick the camera out of Caliburn’s window.

This is the Chateau de Saint Saveur le Vicomte and it has a very interesting history because in view of its strategic position on a hill at the side of a river that leads into the interior, the Norse raiders built a fort there, according to one local historian.

Whatever was on there was destroyed during the revolt against Duke William. A subsequent castle here was an English stronghold in the Hundred Years War.

It later became a hospital, an orphanage and later a prison. Badly damaged by Allied Bombing in 1944, it’s now the subject of a restoration project financed by the proceeds of the national lottery.

On the way home I called in at Coutances and fuelled up Caliburn and then went to the LeClerc and LIDL here. They are much bigger than the ones in Granville and even though there’s more stuff in there, there isn’t anything extra that suited me. I did by some sweet potatoes though as they were cheap, and I’ll have to think of something to do with them.

Back here I made a sandwich for lunch and then came in here to carry on work but unfortunately I crashed out. And crashed out good and properly too, for about an hour and a half.

And when I awoke I had a sore arm again and I was also freezing, freezing cold. So much so that having turned off the heating about a week ago, I tuned it on again full-blast.

When I eventually recovered, I went outside for a walk where I bumped into Pierre the skipper of Spirit of Conrad. he told me that the other week the boat was simply in the chantier navale simply for an annual service.

But all of his tours this year are cancelled yet again. He’s thinking about doing trips up the Brittany coast whenever the situation relaxes.

Finding that the battery was yet again flat in the NIKON D500 I came back in for the NIKON D3000 and then I went back outsode again for my afternoon walk in the wind and rain.

beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThe whole of the town around here was totally deserted which was no surprise given the weather. There wasn’t a soul on the beach at all.

That’s something of a surprise of course because we’ve seen people down there in all kinds of weather, even swimming in it. But not today. I suppose that it was just too much for them today.

Instead, I trudged off along the path towards the end of the headland in my lonely solitude, and also in the rainstorm too. It must have been raining quite a lot over the last 18 hours because the path was flooded yet again and I had to pick my way gingerly around the puddles as I wended my weary way.

commodore goodwill english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallFrom the elevated part at the far end I could see something moving right out there in the English Channel so I took a photograph of it, regretting that I didn’t have the big NIKON D500 with me.

Of course it’s much too far out for me to be able to identify it but enhancing the image considerably I could make out some rough idea of its colours. That seems to indicate that its a Condor Ferries boat.

Its silhouette seems to match that of Commodore Goodwill, the Ro-Ro ferry that does the shuttle between St Malo, St Helier in Jersey and St Peter Port in Guernsey.

Ro-Ro stands for “roll on, roll off” and should not be confused with ferries such as Herald of Free Enterprise and Estonia which were Ro-Ro-Ro ferries, which stands for “roll on, roll over, roll off”.

fishing boat english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere was more movement out to sea too, but this time so much closer to home.

This is one of the little shellfish boats that worked the beds off the Ile de Chausey, I reckon. She’s on her way home to port in Granville, even if the tide isn’t far enough in for the harbour gates to be open.

Off the lawn and down the path to car park I went, encountering a family whose members were as surprised to see me as I was to see them.

Across the car park to the end of the headland to see what was going on. And the answer to that was nothing at all. So picking my way through the puddles I walked down the path on the other side of the headland.

port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere was very little going on in the harbour this afternoon.

The tide was still far out so the outer harbour was quite dry. But we can see all of the tyre tracks of the various heavy vehicles that have been working in there over the last month when we had the very low tides. Their work doesn’t seem to be finished so I wonder when, or maybe if, we will ever see them back working here again.

The fishing boat that we saw earlier is now in the harbour, here on the left, and it’s looking rather bewildered as the skipper tries to think of what to do next with it. And unfortunately she’s still too far out for me to be able to read her name on the visor over the cabin.

anakena hermes 1 notre dame de cap lihou aztec lady Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere is still no change in occupancy in the chantier navale today.

We have, from left to right, Anakena, Hermes I and the lifeboat Notre Dame de Cap Lihou. In the background is Aztec Lady, with a pile of small assorted yachts on the other side of the wall.

Unfortunately I couldn’t stay around to count them because I had to rush on home for the football this afternoon. TNS were playing away to Bala Town.

What astonished me about this match was that the two best players in the Welsh Premier League, Greg Draper and Henry Jones, managed just 28 minutes on the field between them.

Even more strangely was that the best player on the field, TNS’s Ben Clark, was substituted after 60 minutes of the game, with no sign of an injury. He’d run the Bala defence ragged and had a hand in TNS’s goal, but after he left the field the spark went out of the TNS side and Bala had several good chances to equalise, although they were unable to convert them.

Tea was out of a tin seeing as it’s Saturday and now that I’ve finished my notes I’m off to make some sourdough dough ready for baking tomorrow. And then I’m off to bed for a nice lie in.

And I deserve it too.

Thursday 18th March 2021 – HERE’S CALIBURN …

caliburn rue des noyers st lo Manche Normandy France Eric Hall… sitting waiting patiently for me in a little car park in the Rue des Noyers at St-Lô this morning.

And he didn’t have to wait very long because I was in and back out again even before the time of my appointment, and it isn’t every day that that kind of thing happens when you are dealing with French administration.

What does seem to be happening every day though (so just watch it not happen tomorrow) is that I’m leaving my stinking pit pretty quickly these days – just after the first alarm. This morning I was actually sitting at the computer working, having already had my medication, when the third alarm went off.

First thing that I did was to listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been. We started off with Doc Holliday, a third person and Yours Truly riding a freight train escaping from a crime that we’d committed. We were happily going on this train doing OK. There was a low branch across the railway lines. The locomotive somehow managed to avoid it but Doc Holliday who was standing up was hit by this branch and knocked off the train. We all had immediately to leap off the train. 2 guys on a horse had seen this incident and gave chase. They followed the train, found in the end that we weren’t on so they came back and found the 3 of us. They held us at gunpoint while we explained some of our story – not everything. The sheriff of the county agreed and told us that we could go. he told us the story of a couple of other outlaws who had been here. Someone showed us the house where they had lived which was now an old metal barn. All very interesting. Something happened that we were unmasked so we had to flee. As it was me and the other guy, not Doc Holliday, we had to scramble our way through this industrial estate climbing over fences, this kind of thing. One place where we had to climb over the fence had some bird netting on it and of course the more you climbed up it the more you pulled it off. It meant that the 2 of us had to climb this bird netting simultaneously moving our hands and legs at the same time so that the net would stay in place and we could scramble up it otherwise we would just pull it out of where it’s tied.

A little later TOTGA came to see me. She was telling me about a problem that she’d had. The people for whom she’d worked had gone bankrupt and they had found loads of drawings and missing assets and so on that had presumably been misappropriated by one of the previous directors. Now they were making enquiries about her and her wealth – an in-depth enquiry and what should she do about it? I made a couple of suggestions. At that moment Nerina shouted me – she was also around doing something in a different room, something like that or whether she came later. So I went to her and happened to mention this story about TOTGA. Nerina said “why don’t you talk to her and see what we can do?”. Just at that moment TOTGA shouted up something from downstairs so I replied, saying “come up here a minute”. She came up and I said “just sit there on the bed a minute”. She said “I’ll need a chaperone”. I replied “ohh no you won’t” to which Nerina and TOTGA burst out laughing. We explained the problem again to Nerina and she came up with a few suggestions that didn’t seem quite right to me but I don’t know what else to expect. Then I awoke with an attack of cramp.

Later still I was at Virlet busy tidying it up and decorating it. It wasn’t Virlet but one of these 2-up, 2-down terraced houses in Crewe. I was getting ready to do one of the living rooms. A friend of mine turned up with a kind-of interior designer. They had all kinds of ideas for everything on the inside so I left them to it as he was going to pay for this. There was a girl here as well and we were talking to her. She was wondering what to do, whether she was getting in the way so we told her to make the coffee. Luckily there was some running water at the place so she started on that. I went to empty the sink but the sink had been blocked and a whole pile of dirt and filth came into the sink before it all evacuated again. I said “thank God for that” then I had another attack of cramp.

This cramp thing is really getting on my wick now and I must remember to speak to my doctor at Castle Anthrax next week.

First job after the dictaphone notes was to attack the Greenland photos. Another pile of them are done and we are just about to get up steam ready to sail off down Kangerlussuatsiaq Fjord on THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR. And considering that we are on a diesel-powered ship, if we can get up steam and sail off, it will be something quite astonishing.

Later on I had a shower and then Caliburn and I hit the streets. And we were half-way to Liz and Terry’s before I remembered that I was actually going to St-Lô so we had something of a sight-seeing trip.

15 minutes early I was when I arrived in St-Lô and having found a parking space at the foot of the city walls underneath the Prefecture, I then found a set of steps up through a sally port – steps that I hadn’t noticed before.

Consequently I was there 10 minutes early. And with no-one in front of me, I was seen straight away and was standing on the steps outside the building, all done and dusted, when the town clock struck 11:00

And I would have been out even earlier had I not signed the form in the place reserved for the chef de service instead of the interessé so she had to start all over again.

One thing about which I wasn’t very happy was that she took my current carte de sejour. So what I did was to make her photocopy it and put on it the Prefecture’s official stamp. One thing that I have learnt with living in Europe is that people like to see lots of paperwork all covered in official stamps and the more you have, the better it is for the various officials whom you encounter on your travels. And I’ll be travelling a lot just now.

rue des noyers city walls st lo  Manche Normandy France Eric HallBack down the steps to Caliburn and at the sally port I took a photo along the walls.

One thing that you notice about St-Lô is that much of the construction is “modern austerity” because after D-Day in 1944 the Germans dug themselves in here and the city was repeatedly bombed, with the deaths of hundreds upon hundreds of French civilians. Not for nothing was it known as “The Capital of the Ruins”.

Because of the devastation, rebuilding had to be quick without any regard for aesthetics and regular readers of this rubbish will recall that the cathedral here is half-built of breeze blocks, such was the state of things.

Caliburn and I drove to the railway station where we awoke a booking clerk who found my name in the database and was able to issue me with my rail tickets for next week as there is no automatic retrieval machine here. It’s important that I have my tickets in my hand before the day of my travel because the train leaves before the booking office in the station opens and if the ticket retrieval machine is out of order then I’ve had it.

Next stop was to the new LIDL on the edge of town and while the range of goods on offer was larger, there wasn’t all that much more in there that would have suited me and my diet.

LeClerc was pretty much the same. Bigger and more choice, but not for me. I did strike lucky in the sense that they had a special offer going on their litre-bottles of traditional lemonade – glass bottles with mechanical tops that I need for my brewing. Two bottles of that stuff worked out at €3:20, which is cheaper than buying two empty bottles from the housewares section.

While I was there I rang up Liz to see if Terry’s hard drive had arrived. No such luck, so I headed on home for a rather late lunch.

Having been rushing around like this all morning, it’s no surprise that I ended up crashing out for a while on the chair in the office. I can’t last the pace.

seagull on window ledge place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut I picked myself up for my afternoon walk and went outside, where I said “hello” to the seagull that seems to have taken residence on the first floor window of the next block.

The weather this morning had not been too unpleasant but it seems to have deteriorated while I was indoors because the wind has increased, the temperature has dropped and while there’s not as much fog around as there has been just recently, there is still more than you would expect given the strength of the wind.

So gritting my teeth and hanging on to my hat I set off along the path around the headland. There were only a couple of other people out there, and that wasn’t a surprise given the way things are right now.

Looking out across the bay towards the Brittany coast there wasn’t all that much going on over there.

seafarers memorial le loup baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd neither was there all that much more going on across towards St Pair and Jullouville.

Well, maybe there was, but if so, I couldn’t see it. We can see the seafarers’ memorial and then Le Loup, the light that sits on the rock at the entrance to the harbour. But the coast across there is nothing more than a misty haze.

From there I walked on down the path at the head of the cliffs. After all of the activity at the chantier navale just recently, it’s quietened down with just the same boats that were there yesterday. Plenty of people working on them, including my neighbour Pierre labouring away on Spirit of Conrad.

But I’ve given up predicting when they might be going back into the water. I’m not having much luck with that right now.

roofing college malraux place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOn the other hand, they seem to be racing away with the roof on the College Malraux right now.

Apart from having almost finished the part of the roof that they stripped off a couple of weeks ago, they have now stripped off a neighbouring bay and they are busy replacing the laths on that part. I wonder what has caused the acceleration.

Back here in the apartment I had my coffee and then made a start on the arrears of Central Europe. And that seemed to be somewhat productive because I managed to research and write some text for about seven or eight photos in the time that I was working. With a bit of luck, I might finish this before the end of the decade.

Guitar practice was enjoyable – on the bass I was messing around with a solo for “Jumping Jack Flash” again and also Neil Young’s “Like A Hurricane”.

Tea was a burger on a bap with veg followed by apple pie again. And then a couple of things came up while I was trying to write up my notes. Firstly, Rachel rang me from Canada with some bad family news. Secondly, I won’t be making orange ginger beer again. I now know what a shrapnel attack looks like and I need another bottle with a mechanical stopper. At least I know that the stoppers on those bottles are stronger than the bottles themselves.

Tomorrow is going to be a day of cleaning up and washing down the walls of the living room and I’ll be doing the next lot of brewing in the bathroom.

Thursday 4th February 2021 – HAVING WAXED SO LYRICALLY …

… at great length about the epicurean delicacies for my meals yesterday, today’s evening meal was a much more plebeian beans and chips with a burger on the side.

For some unknown reason, I had a fancy for baked beans for tea – maybe my subconscious is telling me that I should have a bubble-bath tomorrow – and in the absence of anything else to go with it, I settled on chips, in order to dispose of some really old potatoes, and a burger out of the stock in the fridge.

Making chips here is not too easy because I don’t have – and I don’t want – a deep-fat fryer but my niece Rachel who is a Tupperware senior manager let me have an incredible heavy-duty thing that fries in a microwave. It’s something that I haven’t used much because actually it’s too big to rotate in my microwave oven, but I worked out that if I take out the turntable and put a ramekin dish in there upside-down to cover over the pivot (I’m nothing if not inventive), I can put the Tupperware thing in on top of the ramekin dish and it just about fits in.

It doesn’t rotate but you can’t have everything and while the results are not spectacular, it does what it’s supposed to do.

Talking of things doing what they are supposed to do, I didn’t exactly beat the third alarm clock to my feet today. Mind you, it was a close-run thing, as the Duke of Wellington said after the Battle of Waterloo, because by the time that the alarm stopped ringing, I was actually on my feet.

Only just, it has to be said, and it took the room a good few minutes to stop spinning round so that I could join in, but there I was.

After the medication I did a few bits and pieces and then had a shower ready to hit the streets.

Granville carnaval unesco Manche Normandy France Eric HallAll over town there have been all kinds of things springing up about Carnaval, the event that occurs here OVER THE MARDI GRAS WEEKEND.

No Carnaval this year, for obvious reasons, but there are still a few displays all over the town featuring what might have been on the carnival floats had they been permitted to parade, and we saw THE COW AND PENGUINS when we returned from Leuven the other day.

What is on this sign is a timeline that records the successful application for Carnaval to be registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site. After all of the preparatory work, a formal application was made in January 2014 and approval was given in November 2016.

It’s one of the claims to fame of the town and one of the reasons why I chose this place to come and spend my final years after I was released from hospital in 2017. There’s almost always something interesting and exciting going on here

trawlers ready to leave port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallFurther on down the road I noticed that all of the trawlers were lined up at the harbour gates.

It’s the moment for the harbour gates to open (and indeed, they did open as I was watching) and all of the fishing boats in the harbour streamed out line astern into the open sea. Fishing seems to be back on the agenda for the moment, although for how long I don’t know with the Silly Brits threatening to revoke the agreement if they don’t get what they want, like the bunch of spoilt little brats they are.

But I mustn’t let myself become bogged down in politics, must I? I promised that I wouldn’t do that.

normandy trader unloading port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd we have a visitor in the harbour this morning too. Normandy Trader sneaked in on the evening tide and here she is, loading up in order to leave the harbour on the tide.

And I know now why she goes over to St Malo at times on her voyages over here. It’s to do with the shellfish that she brings from the Jersey Seafood Co-operative. They have to be unloaded at a port where there is a Health Inspector to give them a health check, and there isn’t one here at the moment.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, there’s talk of having a full Customs Post here in Granville for the port and the airport, but as yet, it doesn’t seem to be in place.

At the Post Office I sent off my application for the Securité Sociale and we’ll see how that evolves. I have been more hopeful about other things, but if you don’t apply, you don’t get, do you?

LIDL wasn’t anything to write home about. There wasn’t anything at all of any interest on special offer today so I just bought a few things there and headed back home again.

digging trench in rue lecampion Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThey had been busy while I’d been away.

A trench has been dug right across the road at the corner of the Rue Lecampion and the Rue Paul Poirier and as I watched, and the traffic waited, a digger picked up a huge sheet of metal to use as a bridge for the traffic to cross.

Down at the far end of the Rue Paul Poirier I fell in with the friendly neighbourhood itinerant and we had a nice long chat for about 15 minutes about nothing much at all, and then I hurried on home in case my frozen peas were to thaw out

Clutching a slice of my delicious sourdough fruit bread and a mug of hot chocolate I came in here and sat down, and made a start on transcribing the remaining dictaphone notes. And there was so much to transcribe that it took me right up until afternoon walkies.

Yesterday’s notes ARE NOW ONLINE, all of them. And by that I DO mean “all”, because there were miles and miles of them. I must have had a really bad night.

Then I could turn my attention to today’s notes. A few prisoners had escaped from a prison and they were being pursued across this building site. 1 had been caught but the other 2 had got away, not without a great deal of difficulty. 1 of them, who reminded me of Kenneth Williams, was almost crushed by a railway locomotive as he ran across the shunting track. The locomotive pinned him up against another one and damaged his hip but he still struggled on. 2 of them ran down the east end of London and ended up in an old derelict market hall type of place that was now a café. The healthy 1 was well ahead and ran into this place. The other 1 running behind him was immediately stuck in some kind of ante-room where there were loads of kids hanging around sitting there drinking coffee. It turned out to be some kind of teenagers’ quiet coffee bar where they could go and watch TV and sit, run by the Church. They showed soap operas there on the TV and this was where the 2 men were going to lay low for a day or 2 where they could get coffee and sleep for a while until they worked out their next move.

Later on I was on a walking tour of Eastern Europe with someone and an old Morris MO went past. I went to grab hold of my camera but I suddenly realised that I didn’t have it with me. I thought “where had I left that?”. I had to wrack my brains all the way back to the start of the day at the hotel and I couldn’t remember having it with me at all during any part of the day. Had I left it at the hotel? Had I put it down when we stopped for a breather and not picked it up? Or had I lost it the day before? I didn’t really know so I had to retrace all of my steps. Obviously the other guy wasn’t all that interested in coming back with me. He preferred to sit and wait which I suppose was the correct kind of thing so off I set. I walked through this small town where a boy was kicking a ball up into the air and then getting underneath to head it as it came down. I carried on walking back to the hotel that was miles away, trying to look on the way back to see if my camera was anywhere

And I bet that you are just as intrigued as I am to know why I seem to be having all of these camera issues during my nocturnal voyages just lately. Who is trying to tell me what?

There was a break of course for lunch – more of my delicious leek and potato soup with home-made bread (there were still some epicurean delights during the day) and then when I’d finished my dictaphone notes I went out for my walk.

erecting scaffolding place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that we have been following the progress of the roofing job that’s being undertaken at the College Malraux across the car park from here.

The scaffolding has been slowly advancing ahead of the work, as they take it from a finished part behind them and erect it in front at a place that has yet to receive attention. Today, they have dismantled some more from the side and are now erecting it at the end of the building here.

As we suspected right at the very beginning, this is going to be a very long job and they will be here for a while yet.

The paths had dried out considerably and there wasn’t much water left to block my path. But there wasn’t anything much to see anywhere. All the fishing boats were way out of sight and Normandy Trader had long-since left port.

cale de radoub port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut earlier on in the day I’d seen a photo of the Cale de Radoub – the old dry dock here in the harbour.

Completed in 1888 it was used as a dry dock to repair the old wooden fishing boats that went out to the Grand Banks to bring in the cod and the photo that I saw was actually of a boat being repaired in there, but it’s been out of use since 1978 and has fallen into decay.

It was declared a Historic Monument on 28th March 2008 and every now and again there’s talk of recommissioning it, but the cost of restoring it to full working order has frightened off the town council.

Back here I had a phone call to make. I had a letter from the hospital arranging my next series of appointments … for Wednesdays, despite what the doctor told me. So I had to ring them back and change them all over again to a Thursday.

When I had returned I’d made myself a coffee but by the time I came to drink it, it was cold. Not simply due to the fact that I’d been on the telephone, but also due to the fact that I’d crashed out yet again.

For the rest of the afternoon, such as it was, I made progress on my little report about Oradour sur Glane.

There was guitar practice of course which for some reason I didn’t enjoy, and then tea which I have already mentioned.

Bedtime now, and a full day at home with (hopefully) no interruptions and I can press on.

Ever the optimist, aren’t I?

Friday 22nd January 2021 – JUST TO PROVE …

… that Ireland doesn’t have a monopoly on this sort of thing, I thought that you might be interested in a telephone conversation that I had this morning

“Hello Mr Hall. This is the hospital at Leuven”
“Hello”
“You have your appointment with us on Wednesday afternoon”
“That’s correct”
“Well there has been an important change. Before you come to the hospital on Wednesday you need to have a Covid test on Monday or Tuesday”
“No problem. Where can I go for that?”
“Well I don’t know. I don’t know how the system works in France”.
“But I’ll be in Belgium from Monday afternoon”
“Then you need to be tested in Belgium”
“Where can I go for a test in Belgium?”
“Wait a moment”
lengthy pause
“You can have an appointment here on Tuesday afternoon at 14:30”
“At the hospital?”
“Yes”
“So if I can have an appointment at the hospital on Tuesday afternoon, why can’t I have one on Wednesday prior to my appointment?”
“Because you can’t come to the hospital without having had a test”
“But the test is at the hospital?”
“Yes”
“So I can come to the hospital without a test in order to have the test?”
“Yes”
“So why can’t I do that on Wednesday?”
“Because you can’t come to the hospital without having a test”.

And I promise you – I am not making this up.

Mind you it’s a good thing that the hospital did ring me because that was what awoke me. I’d slept through all of the alarms and it was now 09:45. So that was another morning wasted and I’m becoming quite fed up of this. It serves me right for not going to bed until late.

After the medication I had a listen to the dictaphone.

There had been some kind of issue with the Ranger in Canada. I was working on it but I was making no progress at all and no-one seemed to be giving me very much of a hand. I was pretty much resigned to being without the Ranger for quite some time. I’d been given a rail warrant to go off on the train to fetch some parts but I was in no way ready to do that so I didn’t use the warrant. One of the daughters of my niece came back with a big fire extinguisher thing. Apparently it used to be full of old tar but she had gone and bought some paint for my Ranger. She said that her dad was unhappy about it being put in that container but she’d done it all the same. I was in pyjamas – I’d been in pyjamas all week and it was time for me to go home so I said to my niece “I’ll let you have these pyjamas back”. She replied “no, no, keep wearing them”. I said “I’ll let you have them back on Sunday when I return home” so that was fine. Then her husband turned up. “That railway warrant that you didn’t use – you’ll have to see your sister’s husband about that. It came from him”. I replied “I’ll sort it all out. It’s not a problem”. I noticed in his work bag – he had a huge work bag/holdall kind of thing that there was all kinds of food in it and there was food in other places. I thought that this place was becoming untidy now. I wouldn’t leave food lying around like that, not even me. Things need to be tidied up around here because it’s really in a mess. I asked about the paint – what paint they had bought. He said that it was a dark green but it should have been red. I replied “no, it should have been yellow like Caliburn if it was going to be anything”. He said that he had to go somewhere to see someone about the Sky cards so I asked “may I come with you for the drive?”. So we agreed on that. he took the Sky cards out of the machine to read the passwords and off we set. At a certain point someone came haring down the driveway towards the road in an old green and white Consul Mk II. For some unknown reason I had it in my mind that it was a Cortina. They came down there and just got to the end and stopped so I had a smile. He asked what was the matter. I replied “nothing really. I was just having a smile at that car”.

As well as the phone call from the hospital, I made several other ‘phone calls today, all of which were to do with my potential Covid vaccination.

Having been given a prescription by the doctor and also at the same time a letter of introduction listing my illness and other health issues, I rang up the Covid centre at St-Lô. I explained that with being a foreigner with a private health insurance I’m not registered with the Sécurité Sociale and as it’s they who are dealing with the Covid injections, I’m afraid that I’ll slip through the cracks and be missed.

She replied, after presumably consulting a few colleagues, that if I have a prescription and a doctor’s letter I would be added to the list but at the moment there aren’t too many vaccines here in the département. We aren’t a high-risk area.

The next batch of vaccines is due to arrive on 8th February so if I ring back then, they will add me onto the list.

While I was speaking to them I also had the idea that maybe it might just be a good idea to be registered with the Sécurité Sociale here even if I’m not liable to be covered by anything that they can offer me.

Having made a few false calls (because it’s not clear to whom you need to contact) I eventually managed to speak to someone who seemed to know what he was talking about. And the net result of this that if I send them a pile of information INCLUDING proof of my own private health insurance, they will register me into the system.

So that’s some good news anyway, although I’m not expecting it to be a speedy solution. The straightforward appointment at St-Lô seems to be the best. But I’m not going to the shops tomorrow seeing as I’m off on my travels on Monday, so I’ll deal with this form them and there.

Apart from that, the rest of the day, such as it was, has been spent dealing with the siege of the Chateau de Chalus and the death of Richard the Lionheart. And I’m not making very much progress.

Although there was no pause for breakfast, there was still a pause for lunch and more of my nice bread.

bernie sanders mittens rubble from gas pipe laying Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd there was the pause of course for the afternoon walk around the cliffs.

First stop was just outside the door to see how they were getting on with the relaying of the gas pipes in the Rue St Michel. But I don’t have to worry about that any more these days as there is an eminently qualified inspector on the job as you can see if you enlarge the photo.

So leaving him to carry on with his good work, I cleared off down the path which was now starting to dry out somewhat.

storm at sea english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut it’s not going to remain like that for long, I reckon.

As you can see out there in the distance over the sea there’s a storm cloud and a pile of heavy rainfall and the wind is blowing it in our direction. It won’t be long before we have that lot dropping on our heads.

So not wishing to hang about any and wait for it, I headed off across the lawn and the car park to see what was going on across the bay. And today, there was nothing to see. A few clouds but the sun was quite bright and we weren’t having any special effects on the water.

rue du port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallThe huge puddle in the path on the southern side of the headland had receded somewhat so it wasn’t as awkward as it was to pass by there yesterday. And as there was nothing going on at the chantier navale I turned my attention to the port.

There hadn’t been any fishing boats out at sea this afternoon as far as I could see, so I imagined that they were all in harbour. There were certainly plenty of them in there. It seems that they haven’t resolved this dispute with the Channel Islands yet.

Nothing else of note so I turned my attention to the mug of hot coffee that was waiting for me back at home.

The hour on the guitar passed quickly enough and after all of this time I’ve suddenly found myself able to play the bass again with 2 fingers like I used to back in the early and mid-70s. Having struggled along playing with just one finger (I never ever used a plectrum on the bass) since I started to play again a couple of years ago, it came back just like that.

I need to work on the timing because my synchronisation seems to be out on one or two tracks, but I’m sure that it will come. But I can’t sing and play with two fingers – well, not yet anyway. I’m working on that.

Tea was taco rolls with the rest of the stuffing, and then a ‘phone call from Rosemary to finish off the evening.

Now that my notes are written up, I’m off to bed. Last night was a disaster and I need to do much better than this, especially as as I have a 04:30 alarm call on Monday morning.

What a way to start the week, hey?

Thursday 12th November 2020 – I DIDN’T …

… beat the third alarm this morning either – no surprise there, is there?

Probably something to do with my very long day yesterday and the fact that after I’d finished my notes I was editing some photos from the High Arctic and chatting to a young lady friend of mine – she of the corona virus – until the small hours, giving her my moral support – although whether anything that I can do which involves young ladies can be classed as “moral” is a matter for conjecture.

07:30 it was when I raised my ugly head, and when I listened to what was on the dictaphone I wished that I hadn’t gone to sleep. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that occasionally I don’t publish some stuff that I do during my voyages because, believe me, I can have some pretty gruesome dreams at times, but last night was gruesome for a very different reason.

I was working for a Government department last night and was in Montreal – I’d been seconded to work in the office in Montreal. I was staying at a friend’s, someone who had actually found the position for me. I’d gone over there and she had a beautiful flat, a really nice one about 5 stops away on the Metro from where the tax office was. There were lots of people staying there too including my various nieces. It was a pretty crowded apartment with all these people staying in it. So I arrived there and stayed the night and next morning I had to get ready. I was getting ready but there was all kinds of strange stuff going on outside – a huge stampede of cattle in the streets leaping into the river and swimming across to get to the other side on the island, the side where we were. So we walked out to see what was going on. It was due to a food shortage and they were all going off to another Province to be slaughtered. I went back in and had to get dressed. I put some clothes on and then thought “where are the rest of my clothes?” My friend said that she’s tidied away my suitcase and it was stuck right away in a corner under a huge pile of stuff and I couldn’t get at it. I didn’t have a tie but a guy who was there said “your brother has left a few ties here. You’ll have to fill in a form to pay him and you can have this green tie”. So I bought this green tie and there was a long white scarf with it as well that was dragging on the floor. I rolled it up and put it somewhere. “Do you want that?” I replied “it’ll probably come in use for the winter”. I noticed that everyone else was dressed and said “ohh look we’re all in green this morning”. Zero was there and she burst out laughing and said “yes”. Off I set and turned up at the building which was a crummy kind of building in a run-down area. There were crowds of people willing around outside. A guy came over and there were about 4 of us. He gave us a bit of an introduction chat and said that we have to report through door 13B. At 10:00 prompt the doors opened to this office and it was like a huge stampede as thousands of people swarmed in, obviously trying to get a good ticket so they could be in there first. We were swept in in the rush but couldn’t find this doorway. We had a look and there were loads of doors but none was the door that we wanted. In the end one guy I was with, a very tall, very thin guy found like a slit in the wall. He said “go through here and see”. He slipped through this slit and said something like “this is it”. “How the hell am I supposed to get through there?” I asked. He might get through there but I certainly couldn’t. I didn’t think that anyone of any particular size would either. Where our other two people had gone I really didn’t know. I was now pondering about how I was going to get through this slit. If I started I would be wedged in with so many people around me that I wouldn’t be able to extricate myself. That was when I awoke in a sweat.

A little later there had been another instance of me trying to catch a bus. I was scrambling around at a roundabout with cobbles and it had been raining. All these people on motorbikes kept on colliding with each other and falling off. But this was before this particular bit. The only bus coming in was this red bus that wasn’t a local bus at all. I got on and said “take me to a metro station”. he replied “there isn’t one where we are going. I suppose we could drop you off somewhere where you could get another connection”

So later on we were back again in my friend’s apartment a while later. I’d stepped back into this dream where I’d stepped out. This time things were better-arranged and when I got up this morning I could find my clothes and get dressed. I realised that I had the wrong clothes on so I went to look for my clothes. I found dozens of dirty clothes and thought that I was going to have to do some washing now. I’d only been there a day. I got dressed and there was some good music going on. I said to my friend “you have some really good music here and good books”. She said “I’ll tell my son about that”. Presumably he had chosen them all. I started to put the food out but suddenly realised that I was putting out things like vegetables and gravy. That must have been stuff for the evening meal, not breakfast. In the end we all went out and got on the bus. There were 3 of us, me, Nerina and another guy. She sat next to this other guy and started to talk to him in this really friendly involved conversation about going to football matches and discussing her ex-boyfriends, whatever. All the time I was thinking “she ought to be sitting next to me discussing this kind of thing and I was getting extremely jealous. We pulled up at a roundabout and we all got off the bus. Nerina asked “you know which bus you’re getting on, don’t you?”. “No” I replied. She explained to me about the roundabout and said “as long as you get on a bus there and it goes any distance you’ll be fine”

But in connection with the bit about the motorbikes falling over I was telling my brother about my journey and told him a cock and bull story about how I took a taxi because I’d missed all the buses but the taxi could only take me so far and he threw me out at a roundabout where I could get a bus.

Things were certainly happening last night, and I’m reminded of the doctor in THE CANNONBALL RUN who said “I’d really like to probe his case”.

Having written out the dictaphone notes, I had a shower and a weigh-in. And I’ve now gone back over my higher target weight which is a shame. But one of the side effects that I have is “weight gain” and it seems pretty pointless me battling to keep the weight off if they give me all of this that puts it straight back on.

normandy trader port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallHaving had my shower, I set out for the shops, having forgotten to switch on the washing machine.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we saw Normandy Trader in port the other day, and then she disappeared again. But she’s back now doing another freight lift to and from the Channel Islands. Apparently she is really busy right now and there is “some talk” – although how serious it is, I don’t know – of buying a bigger ship.

There’s also the delivery of a new pleasure boat – the shrink-wrapped thing on the trailer behind the red and yellow lorry. It looks as if things are hotting up in the harbour.

replacing shop front rue paul poirier Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallConsidering that there’s a lockdown on, there are more people about than I would have imagined.

But certain shopkeepers are taking full advantage of the pause well enough. There’s a café there in the Rue Paul Poirier and it looks as if, while it’s closed under the lockdown procedures, that they are ripping out the old front and fitting a new one.

That’s good news if you ask me. It’s nice to see the town slowly being redeveloped as time and funds permit. All we need now are a few more commercial freighters in the port and we’ll be well away. It’s all very well talking about increasing the pleasure boat traffic but what’s the good of the town being packed to the gunwhales 2 months of the year and dead as a dodo for the remaining 10?

One of the reasons why I came here was because of how lively it is throughout the year.

At LIDL I didn’t buy all that I needed, for the simple reason that I couldn’t carry it. I had to buy an extra carrier bag while I was there for what I had already selected.

Pride of place though went to a set of stainless steel mesh sieves. The one that I use for straining my kefir etc is really too big and cumbersome to wield about.

eglise st paul Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOn the way home, I took a little detour.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that quite recently I’ve talked rather a lot about the Eglise St Paul. One of the things that I have mentioned is the sad state of the building and how bits are dropping off it rather too rapidly for comfort.

It seems to me that I did mention that there was a ban on walking around or parking near to it, so here’s a photo of the perimeter of the church all roped off and a warning sign “falling rocks” just to illustrate the point that I was making.

It’s a real shame that the building is crumbling away like this.

war memorial eglise st paul Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThe real reason why I’d come up here is because, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, we’d seen the War Memorial here from across the valley a while ago and I’d mentioned that one of these days we’d come to see it.

And sure enough, here we are. There’s no time like the present. And rather disappointingly, there is no mention of any casualties on the Memorial, just a note “To Our Glorious Dead”. I was hoping to see a list of names of local soldiers who had lost their lives.

But interestingly, it mentions “our matelots”. And that set me thinking because I don’t recall any naval engagement during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, the war to which this monument relates. I can see that I shall have to go off and do some more research.

So after struggling up the hill laden with shopping, I made myself some hot chocolate and a slice of my fruit bread I went to talk to my friend who was now back on line. And we had a lengthy chat that took me up to lunchtime and more of my delicious bread.

This afternoon, I remembered to switch on the washing machine and even with the racket that that was making, waltzing around in the bathroom I managed to fall asleep for half an hour or so. I realise now why I usually set it to go when I’m out at the shops.

Next task was to peel a kilo of carrots – I’d bought two kilos at the shops today because I was right out. So peeled and diced, I blanched them ready for freezing. And while the water was coming to the boil, I fed the sourdough. There’s now 400 grammes of that happily fermenting away (and I do mean fermenting too – it’s bubbling really well) and as I need just 200 grammes of starter for a 500 gramme sourdough loaf, I reckon that my next loaf will be a sourdough one, and see what damage I can do with that.

Somehow I also managed to find the time for amending the two missing journal entries, THURSDAY’S and FRIDAY’S to incorporate the missing bits. I was going to look for the details of that aeroplane that crashed near Leuven in 1944 and I will do that one day, for sure, but there was something else that I needed to do.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I have another friend stricken with Covid too, and I wanted to ask her how she was. And a quick 10-minute ‘phone call turned into a phone call of 1.5 hours.

People reading this will be thinking that maybe I begrudge the time that I spend talking on the ‘phone and on the computer because I’m always on about it, but it’s very far from the truth It interferes with my plans of course, but that’s what plans are for and I think very highly of my friends. I don’t have many friends but those I do have are the best friends in the world that anyone could have and I’ll speak to them any time of the day no matter where I am and what I’m supposed to be doing.

Except of course, to certain people to whom I’ve confided my innermost secrets only to find that they have become a subject of discussion in a certain Land Rover news group. No friendship can withstand that, but I digress.

trawler english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallMeanwhile, back at the ranch, what with one thing and another (and once you get started you’ll be surprised at how many other things there are) it was after 17:00 when I finally set out for my afternoon walk and by now the light has gone. So much for trying to keep a constant time in order to compare lighting situations.

As I stepped out of the apartment building I noticed a movement out to sea so I went to investigate.

And it looks as if we are having yet another trawler heading for home today too. Whatever else is happening, there’s still fishing to be done and they are out there hard at it.

But anyway, I pushed on with my walk around the headland to see what else was going on.

thora port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd the answer to that was “nothing at all”. I had to walk all the way round to the viewpoint overlooking the harbour before I noticed the next object of interest.

Normandy Trader has left port. That was a very brief visit – the turnround times are getting shorter and shorter. But in her place is Thora, the other little Channel Island freighter. She’s come in to do a quick sea lift from and to the Channel Islands.

These two seem to be hard at it without a moment’s rest and so it won’t surprise me if they do end up with a larger boat each before much longer.

Unless, that is, everyone is stocking up prior to Brexit (not that it will have too much of an effect on the Channel Islands) and it will all go very quiet afterwards.

trawlers baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAs I was watching Thora the trawler that I had seen out at sea was coming round the headland towards port.

And at that moment, another one was heading out to sea. So in anticipation of a mid-channel collision, I stayed and watched them for a while. However, there were no shipwrecks and nobody drowndin’, in fact nothing to laugh at at all. So I headed for home as the sun started to sink down towards the horizon.

My hour on the guitar was something of a disappointment because I went to play the Steve Harley song “Riding the Waves”. I’d worked out the chords to the chorus but I couldn’t find my piece of paper with the notes on. And when I finally did find the paper, it sounded all wrong again.

The reason why I like the song, apart from the fact that it reminds me of someone who I’ll talk about at some time in the future, there’s a rapid series of chord changes involving the “F” chord and I need to improve that.

And before anyone says that there’s no “F” chord in it, I play it in a different key to suit my voice. My singing isn’t that good.

Tea tonight was a stuffed pepper. While I was tidying up the food to put everything away, I came across one that was left over from the other week and it still appeared to be in good shape. So followed down by the last of the pineapple rings, it was delicious. Tomorrow I’ll have to take some frozen apple pie out of the freezer.

porte st jean Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallLater on, I went out for my evening walk and runs around the walls.

There was no-one around tonight so I broke into a run almost as soon as I left the building and ran all the way through the Porte St Jean to the viewpoint in the Rue du Nord. But I went back to take a photo of the gate nevertheless because it looked so nice, all illuminated now that they fixed the lights the other week.

Nothing at all going on out at sea – or, if there was, I couldn’t see it – so I ran on down the Rue du Nord to the steep incline that always beats me.

donville les bains Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallHaving recovered my breath, I ran down the footpath underneath the walls, being lured ever onwards by the lights of the promenade at Donville-les-Bains.

With no-one about yet again, I stopped to take a photograph of the night scenery out that way, and then having recovered my breath, ran on down the footpath to the viewpoint overlooking the Place Marechal Foch.

There was no-one about down there or on the Plat Gousset either, and no-one in the Square Marechal Foch either for that matter, so I could run all the way across there to the other side. Tonight I was really enjoying myself. It was a beautiful night – not too windy, fairly cold and rather crisp.

christmas lights rue lecampion Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallFurther on along the walls by the Eglise Notre Dame de Cap Lihou, I looked down to the Rue LeCampion and unless my eyes deceive me, they’ve put up the Christmas lights in the street.

That’s flaming early, I reckon. They must be planning something special right now. I don’t recall the lights being up this early before. Maybe it’s to take advantage of the fewer people wandering around in the streets during lockdown. It wouldn’t surprise me if it’s something to do with that.

Back here, I carried on writing up my notes. There were plenty to go at tonight. I’m hoping for an early start tomorrow because I’ve plenty to do. Carrots to dice and blanch of course, and then I ned to start to organise myself about my trip around Europe earlier this year.

It’s not going to get done by me simply thinking about it.