Tag Archives: RER

Sunday 13th February 2022 – I DON’T EVER …

… want to have to do that again! NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET has got nothing on this!

But anyway, last night I was in bed by 22:00 with the alarm set for 05:00 and hoping to have a good sleep.

But that was some hope because I was off on my travels during the night and I must have gone so far that I really don’t know how I had any sleep at all.

At some point I was with a girl who has featured on several occasions in the past, usually with her brother who was a friend of mine and who both lived on a farm, but tonight she was with another girl – I don’t know who she was but I know that I know her. We were tidying up a pile of stuff, just generally chatting. The farmer’s daughter had to go out for something that just left me and this girl. The conversation turned round to that girl and me. I said that I don’t want anything to happen to her because I’m rather fond of her. This girl was rather surprised so I said “yes but I thought that most people knew that”. She asked if our farmer’s daughter knew that and I replied “of course she did”. “What did she do?”. “Nothing” I replied. “She had her own life to live etc”. I explained that we’d been out once or twice. She asked “what was she doing?” I said “it was just like this”. “Any snogging?” she asked. I replied “no unfortunately”. “Why on earth not?”. “I didn’t want to drive her away”. She wanted to know if she was married with kids. I replied that she was and had 2 kids. The conversation just drifted around like that. I thought that the farmer’s daughter would only be gone for a few minutes but it must have been ages that we were having this chat.

And before anyone grasps the wrong end of the stick, the fact that she is a farmer’s daughter has nothing whatever to do with Deep Purple.

Finally I was in the Army last night, looking through a pile of files and lists. No matter how hard I looked, all I could find were details of an assignment to the Entertainment Unit. They were all put in an envelope ready to be sent off to some kind of competition or show or something. There were all people there, including Jimmy Clitheroe but I couldn’t find anything in these service records and service history at all. This was really annoying. In the end there was a sergeant there who was responsible for the paperwork. I asked him and he pointed to these envelopes and said “but it’s all there”. I shouted that it wasn’t. I said that all it was was these application forms for this concert thing. I picked them up and dropped them in the bin. I told him precisely and in no uncertain terms exactly what I wanted. He started to go through the filing cabinet trying to find all this information.

Wherever did I find the time to go to sleep?

It didn’t take me long to tidy up and I decided not to make any sandwiches because I only get into trouble when I eat them and I’ll be home in time for a late lunch. So at 05:30 I had already handed in the key and was well off down the road.

martelarenplein leuven belgium Eric Hall photo February 2022As I approached the railway station I went to have a look at the Martelarenplein.

We’ve seen this now every month for the last I don’t know how many years and and I have to say that for the last half-dozen or so months there seems to be very little, if any improvement.

Just like every building project in Belgium, they are really taking their time with this and at the rate that they are going, I reckon that I’ll be finished long before they are here.

05:50 when I arrived at the railway station so I had 19 minutes to wait in the freezing cold and wind before my train came in.

class AM96 electric multiple unit gare de leuven railway station belgium Eric Hall photo February 2022The train this morning is the 06:09 from Landen to De Panne via Brussels Airport and the City Centre.

Today it’s one of the AM96 electric multiple units. Fairly modern, quite clean and comfortable and I’m quite happy to be aboard one of these.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I have mentioned their unique features before. When a train is made up of two trainsets, the rubber ring makes an airtight seal around the join and the drivers’ cabs swivel round out of the way so that you can walk from one trainset to the next.

We arrived at Bruxelles-Midi at 06:49, 28 minutes before my train to Lille. And this was when disaster stuck. There on the sign was “07:17 to Strasbourg via Lille cancelled”.

That was certainly a tragedy. With it being a weekend, the 07:47 direct to Paris doesn’t run either so that was that.

At the ticket office they proposed the following itinerary –

  • 08:17 to Lille Europe arriving 08:51
  • 10:42 from Lille Flandre to Paris Gare du Nord arriving 11:48
  • 12:59 Paris St Lazare to Lison arriving 15:31
  • 15:52 Lison to Granville arriving 16:43


Only three hours later than usual.

But if anyone thinks that I’m going to be waiting for almost two hours on a draughty, freezing cold railway station in Lille they are mistaken. I have another plan. But in the meantime I went to buy some food from Carrefour. I have a feeling that I might need it at this rate.

TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt 4525 PBA gare du midi brussels belgium Eric Hall photo February 2022Wherever I go, it has to start with the 08:17 to Montpelier via Lille

It’s one of the PBA (Paris Brussels Amsterdam) TGV Reseau 38000 trainsets and when I boarded it I could see exactly why my train had been cancelled. Two trainloads of people were “squeezed” into this one and it was still empty. I don’t suppose that they considered it worth their while to run the earlier one if it only had half the number on board that this one had.

There are a couple of small seats stuck in a corner by the baggage racks so I grabbed one of those and settled down while the train shot off into the void.

When it reached Lille Europe, I stayed on board. Next stop is Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport and from there is a Reseau Express Regional (RER) D train that goes into the city centre and out to Orly. I can alight at Denfert-Rochereau which is 5 stops and 40 minutes away, and then it’s 3 stops on the traditional metro to Gare Montparnasse.

The chances are that with a good run I could still catch my 10:59 train to Granville.

So at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport I hurtled off the train and up to the RER platforms on the level above to find “No RER Service today to Paris”.

That’s all I needed.

Plan C involved legging it right across Terminal 2 (which is enormous) to the other side and the express buses that go to the Stade de France RER station. That’s on RER line D so I need to change at Chatelet. I would lose 5 minutes but who knows?

Strangely enough, whenever I’m at Terminal 2, I ALWAYS SEEM TO BE REQUIRED TO RUN.

airport express coach stade de france paris france Eric Hall photo February 2022at Gate 2F I leapt on board a waiting coach and we shot off round and round the ragged rock until we finally found the exit that took us out onto the motorway and into northern Paris.

And there we hit a pile of roadworks and a long queue of traffic and I watched the time on my fitbit melt slowly away as we tried to jostle our way into the only lane that was moving.

We eventually made it to the Stade de France railway station. My train was to leave Montparnasse at 10:59 and as I alighted from the bus it was 10:59 precisely.

Never mind, it was a good try. At least, with all of the running around that I had to do I must have lost a good few kilos.

train RER D gare de stade de france paris france Eric Hall photo February 2022Now that I’m here I may as well push on.

Down on the platform I waited for the train to come in. The next stop is the Gare du Nord anyway and that gives me plenty of opportunity to work out something else. There has to be a Plan D somewhere.

At the Gare du Nord I didn’t even come up into the daylight. Here is RER line E and the terminus of that is at Gare St Lazare (well, near enough anyway) so I may as well see what gives there.

printemps department store rue caumartin paris france Eric Hall photo February 2022Where the RER station emerges into the street is right at the back of the Printemps Department Store.

Round at the front is the Boulevard Haussman where you find the headquarters of SPECTRE and several other extremely exclusive premises. But as you might expect, I’m not going that way. I’m going in the opposite direction.

There may be a considerable amount of time to spare but I’m not going to go for a look around in Printemps. It’s the kind of place where people like us need a credit account in order to simply look in the window.

gare st lazare paris france Eric Hall photo February 2022When I was here last I didn’t have too much time to take a photo of the Gare St Lazare so here we are. We can see the clocks that we saw last time outside the building but from a different perspective.

And here, I had my only slice of luck today.

When I arrived I noticed that there was a train to Caen at 11:59, one hour earlier than the one to Cherbourg on which they had booked me. Now if there would be a train from Caen to Rennes that connects with it, I will be à la maison and sec as they say around here.

Sure enough, the train arrives in Caen at 13:58 and at 14:10 there’s a train departing for Rennes so I sallied forth into the ticket office with right and a certificate of cancellation on my side.

Bombardier Regio 2N 56670 caen normandy france Eric Hall photo February 2022Just by way of a change I met a very pleasant and helpful SNCF ticket agent who took one look at all of my paperwork (Government officials on the mainland LOVE paperwork and rubber stamps) and issued me with a ticket for the earlier train.

It’s one of the really comfortable and quick Bombardier Regio 2N electric double-deckers. I was in the front coach upstairs with about 2 other people so I could settle down with my bread rolls and have a crafty nibble.

When the ticket collector came round I showed him my original ticket and gave him all of the rest of the paperwork that I had and he hardly bothered to check them. I went back to eating my bread rolls and listening to Hawkwind again.

And I still think that the violin solo on STEPPENWOLF is one of the best that has ever been recorded.

Bombardier B82650 84555 gec alstom regiolis gare de granville railway station Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022And here I am at Granville. My train is the Bombardier B825 on the left.

When I arrived at Caen it was already in and raring to go. It was quite full too and there are no luggage facilities, seeing as it’s a cross-country train. But I struggled aboard and eventually found somewhere for my suitcase and me.

There is no electricity on board these trains so I didn’t switch on the laptop. All the way to Granville I listened to COLOSSEUM LIVE on the telephone.

As I explained a while ago, I usually encounter interesting young ladies in peculiar situations whenever I listen to this album, such as in the High Arctic in 2018 and again a year later on the same ship in the same seat in the same place when I had two of the strangest encounters that I have ever had in modern times.

Today though, I’ve already had so many strange encounters, one way or another, that I probably wouldn’t have noticed another one by this time.

It’s no surprise that I dozed off for 10 minutes on the way home. And I immediately went off on a little wander. I was with another taxi driver and we were talking to a third. He had had the right to an engine in compensation for something but his wife at the time was now living with yet a fourth taxi driver and he had received this engine. He had fitted it into his car, “the T-reg”. I was surprised that after all of these years he was now back on the road but the reply was yes, it’s called “Creamony Cars” or something like that

Here at Granville on the right is the train that I should have caught. It beat me here (assuming that it was on time) by about 2 hours. And I don’t suppose that that was too bad because there was a moment when I was standing in front of the sign at the RER station at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport that I thought that I would never arrive at all.

The walk through the town was a nightmare. Even going down the hill was agony.

harbour gates closing port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022Climbing back up the hill up to my rock was even worse and it took me an age.

During one of my rather too frequent pauses during my climb I looked down at the harbour to see what was happening and I was lucky enough to see the red warning light flashing and the gates slowly closing.

So whoever might have been in the harbour loading up has now long gone and I won’t know who they are.

It was like Ice Station Zebra in here too when I arrived but ask me if I care. I made a coffee and collapsed into my chair.

No pizza tonight. I was too late to take some dough out of the freezer and it wouldn’t defrost so I had potatoes, veg and vegan sausage with vegan cheese sauce. It was lovely too.

Tomorrow is usually when I set an alarm for 06:00 and spend the day working on the radio but if anyone thinks that I’m doing that then they are mistaken. I’m going to bed and going to sleep until I awaken and hard luck on anyone who expects me to do anything. I’ve had a harrowing day.

Mind you, that could all change if TOTGA, Castor and/or Zero invite me to come with them for a midnight ramble. Imagine my sharing a room with Zero the other night and she not being there!

Saturday 16th October 2021 – THIS NEW WAY …

… home actually seemed to work a lot easier than going home the normal way. So if ever my 07:17 from Brussels is cancelled in the future and I can’t have another cheap ticket any other way, I’m going to consider quite seriously going this way home again.

The alarm was set for 06:00 but it was pretty much a waste of time because I didn’t have much sleep at all. The heating made so much racket that in the end I went down and switched it off, and then I ended up with people talking outside my door for what seemed like hours.

Nevertheless I was up and about as soon as the alarm went off and it didn’t take me long to finish packing and to make my sandwiches. There was even time for coffee and toast for breakfast.

During the night despite the lack of sleep I’d been on my travels again. We’d been having a history class at University but the teacher hadn’t turned up so we’d been running it ourselves. He finally turned up and started, going round the class talking to each one of us. He mentioned to me about going round to teach his daughter guitar if I was free at 17:30 that evening. When I left work I went to park up somewhere to wait. After a while I thought that I’d better ring Laurence to tell her where I was, that I’d be late. She had obviously been asleep because she was very slurred with a tired voice. She just muttered something about the management but I didn’t hear a thing after that. Then I realised that I didn’t have my guitar so I thought that I’d better return to the office and fetch it.

We were all in a car somewhere. We turned up at a house where we were supposed to be. I couldn’t get my car into the drive because the cars were parked too far close up. I had my brother move his car but there still wasn’t enough room which I thought was really strange. Then I realised that the one on the left was too far over so I pushed that out of the way so that I could drive in. Parked in there was the red Opel coupé of a girl whom I knew, really rusty and rotten. Whoever it was with me said “no tax again”. I replied “it’s taxed until June”. Then I had a closer look and it was June 1988 in the window. I said “that sounds just like her, doesn’t it?”. We walked round the back of the house to go in ready to see the lighting of the Christmas tree.

07:00 is the latest time for me to leave my digs because there’s an express train to Brussels at 07:33. But I was on my way at about 06:50.

martelarenplein leuven belgium Eric Hall photo October 2021The work that’s taking place in the Martelarenplein outside the station is another one of these tasks that seems to be taking forever. It’s been going on for a couple of years now and progress seems to be very slow.

The fencing is still all around the work so it’s very difficult to take a photo, and the dark early morning doesn’t help very much either, but I did the best that I could in the circumstances.

With having set out so early, I was well in advance of my timetable and luckily, there was an earlier express train, the 07:21, so I didn’t have to wait too long because it was absolutely taters out here and I wish that I’d brought a coat..

class 18 electric locomotive 1903 gare du midi brussels belgium Eric Hall photo October 2021The train that came into Leuven was pulled by, despite its number, a class 18 electric locomotive of the type that we catch quite regularly.

In the darkness I couldn’t see anything of the journey, but we pulled into Brussels with 45 minutes to go before my train to Paris.

And sitting on a draughty station in this weather for that long froze me to the marrow. If there’s a waiting room at the gare du Midi I have yet to find it.

Luckily though, the train came in early and we were allowed to board pretty quickly, which was just as well

Thalys PBKA 4304 gare du nord paris France Eric Hall photo October 2021The train that I’m on is one of the PBKA – Pars, Brussels, Cologne, Amsterdam – trainsets, the one on the left in this image taken at the Gare du Nord in Paris.

having scrambled aboard the crowded train to warm up, I found myself sitting next to a Chinese student who was confused about the application of the Eurorail pass. He didn’t realise that there’s a supplement to pay on the TGV and so he was stuck for an excess charge.

This train is a direct one to Paris. No changing at Lille, which is good news for me because the walk is a painful one in my state of health.

As I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … I don’t know why the train from Lille to Paris goes from a different railway station to the one that the long-distance TGVs use.

Much of the route to Paris was spent catching up with my beauty sleep so I was wide awake when we arrived in Paris. I had to show my vaccine passport on arrival and then go to look for RER track E.

It’s actually quite a walk but it’s on the level with no obstructions and on a really good surface so it didn’t seem like too much effort.

Down in the bowels, I didn’t have long to wait for a train. Much more comfortable than the metro, rather like a cheap mainline multiple-unit in fact, and it was only 15 minutes to the Gare St Lazare.

There was quite a walk from there too but once more, it was all on the level and going up to the station was on an escalator so there wasn’t any struggle with the baggage.

clocks outside gare st lazare paris France Eric Hall photo October 2021According to my notes, I’ve never been to the Gare St Lazare before so I went outside for a look around as I had some time.

This was quite interesting, all of these clocks. It’s a design by someone called Armand Fernandez, known as “Arman” and not “Arman in Havana”, and was commissioned by the French Government in 1985.

The station is pretty cramped in its surroundings by other buildings and nowhere is it possible to take a decent photograph.

gare st lazare France Eric Hall photo October 2021Inside the station though, it’s light and airy, having been modernised and upgraded about 10 years or so ago.

It’s not very easy to navigate though as the destination boards and platforms aren’t very clearly indicated.

And while finding where the platform that I need is one thing, finding my way onto it was something else completely.

There’s a “magic eye” that reads the QR code of your ticket, but the eye isn’t where you expect it to be and it took me 5 minutes and the assistance of a passer-by to enable me to find a way to pass the barrier.

56643 class Z 56600 electric multiple unit gare st lazare paris France Eric Hall photo October 2021My train is a newish double-decker multiple-unit, a class Z 56600 Electric Multiple-Unit “Regio 2N” double-decker built by Bombardier and entered service in 2014.

It has all mod cons and is very comfortable. Furthermore it’s non-stop to Caen and it doesn’t hang about either, with a top speed of 200kph.

It’s certainly worth remembering this route for the future if ever there’s a perturbation on my regular route. And if they do electrify my line, something that is under discussion right now, we might even see these in Granville which would be nice.

gare de caen railway station Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021At Caen there’s a one-hour wait for the train to Granville so I could go for a walk around outside.

No problems with photographing the station here because there is very little to obstruct the view. i’ve actually been here once before, but not on a train. I came this way on the bus once when there was a rail strike and we stopped here for a breather

It’s not the original railway station of course. Like so many others in the battle zone in Northern France, it was heavily bombed during the early summer of 1944 to prevent the rapid deployment of Axis forces by rail.

eglise st michel de vaucelles caen Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021Further down the street in the distance above the tram is a church that I think is the Eglise St Michel De Vaucelles.

There was a church on this site in the days of Charlemagne but there is no trace now of any remains from this period. The church that we see today dates from the early part of the 12th Century although it has been heavily modified since then.

It’s one of the starting points for the pilgrimages to the Mont St Michel.

By now it was lunchtime so I went back inside to eat my sandwiches and I actually treated myself to a mug of hot coffee. I’m really pushing the boat out these days, aren’t I?

bombardier 82792 gare de caen railway station Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021The train that I catch from Caen is one of the Bombardier units that we have seen quite regularly in Granville.

It’s quite bizarre because there are only four power points per carriage and they take some finding. I had to wait for half the journey before a seat at one of them became vacant.

But imagine that! Just four power points, and in the 21st Century too!

These trains are little branch-line rattlers and not as comfortable as the one on which I’ve just been travelling, but at least it does its job and brought me back to Granville.

marité philcathane belle france chausiaise port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021Coming back home was easier than it has been recently. I only had to stop four times coming up the hill to home.

One of my stops was at the viewpoint overlooking the inner harbour. Marité is down there of course, with the trawler Philcathane across the harbour on the other side.

Down here close to me are Belle France, the new ferry for the Ile de Chausey, and Chausiaise, the little Chausey freighter in orange, grey and white.

By the looks of things too, there’s someone having a go at mending his nets on the quayside too.

sailing school baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021Further up the hill at another one of my rest stops I could see that the sailing schools were in full operation today.

There are a couple of the yellw and orange ones having a sail about, but the black ones seem to be having a conference of some kind.

Arriving back at the apartment I made myself a coffee and reflected on how nice it was to be back home. And only four stops coming back up the hill with the load that I had in my suitcase was quite some progress compared to how I’ve been just recently.

Football later on, in the Welsh Cup. Colwyn Bay of the 2nd Division against Cardiff Metro of the 1st. A game rather short on skill and technique, but a proper cup-tie all the same played in front of a big, noisy crowd. Cardiff Metro had most of the play, missed a penalty, had a goal disallowed for offside and missed three or four absolute sitters.

Colwyn Bay, who were on the back foot for most of the game and only had one real shot on goal. And so, as you might expect, Colwyn Bay won the game 1-0 to move into the next round.

Now that I’ve had tea, I ought to be going to bed but I’m not tired right now. I’ll go to bed at about 03:00 I suppose and then sleep through until tomorrow afternoon.

That’s what usually happens.

Saturday 9th June 2018 – THIS IS TURNING INTO A DISASTER

And I’m not quite sure about where to start either.

I could, I suppose, make a start by telling you all about last night’s nocturnal ramble. And that was such a confused, jumbled, rambling voyage too and I’ve probably forgotten most of it.

But I do remember leading a party of other motorists to Granville but it was nothing like the Granville as we know it, and the road to there was even more different. Doing it in the semi-dark was another thing too, especially as there were no signposts. However I had been there once before and I could remember the way – at least everything looked familiar like the roundabout near the yacht harbour where we had to turn left. At a certain moment we left the main road and were driving along a farm track where there was suddenly a terrific drop. I remembered a drop, but nothing as terrific as this one but it had to be here because there was no other way that resembled this. Everyone else looked in a panic but I pressed on down the slope and it wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be.
At some other time during the night I ended up in Bill Badger, my old BMC half-ton van from the 1970s. I’d put it back on the road after more than 20 years and it was running fine. I’d done some work on the engine too and that had me thinking about “why don’t I find a BMC 1622 diesel engine and fit that in the vehicle?”
From there I drifted into YLO, my first Cortina mkIV and I was going round to visit some sportsman. Much to my surprise he was living in very modest circumstances, the only sign of affluence being a small sailing boat in his garden that he was restoring. There was a notice on the gate to the effect that “no matter what, the boat isn’t for sale so don’t waste my time and yours enquiring”. He explained to me that his wife had just given birth and people always though that when you were there with new family commitments that took up much of your time, your hobbies would be the first to go, and go quickly and cheap too. I sympathised, explaining that I had a Transit van and another vehicle up on ramps in my garden right now.
Somewhere in all of this my mother put in an appearance. I’m not sure why. She was being assailed by a couple of women and even though I had no time for her at all, I couldn’t help feeling some sympathy for what she was suffering.

So there I was, at 05:20 sitting on the edge of the bed typing out all of this before I forgot it, despite the fact that with a long and exhausting day ahead of me, I needed all the sleep that I could get.

So an early breakfast etc, and organising myself, packing and the like. Ant at 08:30 I was at the supermarket buying a bottle of drink and a baguette.

Having made my butties I went off to hand in my keys and book the room for my next session, giving a big stroke to the cat on my way past.

It was here that today all started to go wrong, if you don’t consider awakening at 05:20 to be wrong.

My next visit here coincides with the big Werchter Rock festival in mid-Belgium, so there is no room at the inn. Not at any other inn in the region so I have been told. And I can’t change my appointment at Castle Anthrax because it fits in nicely with my other arrangements. And I can’t book a hotel in Brussels because I’m in Caliburn and there’s nowhere reasonable to leave him.

But there’s always a Plan B. It’s been years since I’ve been to Liège and I hardly know the city so I might book a hotel there and that will give me an opportunity to go for a wander around the city. I might even at last get to visit Welkenraedt – something that I’ve been trying to do for 45 years since I first saw it as a train destination at Oostende in the early 70s

Not only that, it’s easy to escape from too – avoids the necessity to struggle through the traffic on the edge of Brussels. There’s a motorway that goes from there to France via Charleroi instead.

But it’s still annoying.

sncb gare de leuven railway station belgium june juin 2018At the station I didn’t have to wait too long for a train. It was another Oostende train and so it was heaving with holidaymakers. I ended up being crammed into a corner with about 20 young German kids, several crates of beer and a music centre playing “oompah” music.

That was certainly not what I wanted at that time of the morning, but at least I had a seat. So I can’t complain too much. Especially as one of the boys actually offered me a beer (which I of course declined).

At the Gare du Midi I didn’t have to wait too long for the TGV to be called and to my surprise it was already in the station so we could take our seats and settle down in comfort.

But that was to no avail because the train didn’t move. After a while we were told to dismount. We were apparently having a “technical problem”. They called for a new trainset and they coupled that up to the next TGV so we were half an hour late leaving Bruxelles-Midi.

I went in search of the train manager and made a fuss about my connection to Granville. We had a lengthy discussion and in the end she endorsed my ticket to Granville to the effect that I would miss my train due to their fault and not mine.

We pulled into Gare du Nord 35 minutes late, not 30 minutes late – and that extra 5 minutes proved to be crucial as we shall see.

There’s an RER “express” that does part of the route of Metro Line 4 missing out several stations, so I gambled on that as far as Les Halles. It was indeed much quicker but whatever time I saved was lost by having a long walk between platforms so it wasn’t any quicker really. But I have timed the journey in the past going on Line 5 and then Line 4 and I know full well that I didn’t have enough time today so it was a gamble to nothing.

At Montparnasse I rushed as quickly as I could but it’s a long way, and I reached my platform just in time to see my train departing. For the first time since 1992 I wished that I was back in the UK where the trains run when they feel like it and only pretend that there’s a timetable.

This meant a trip all the way back to the ticket office. It’s possible to travel to Granville on the TGV to Rennes and then the Caen and Cherbourg train from there, alighting at Folligny where there’s a bus that connects with the train. But that goes at 14:14 and by the time I’d walked all the way back to the ticket office and queued to see a counter clerk, that train had long-gone.

The clerk wasn’t all that helpful and I was in no mood for her light-hearted attempts at laughter. She refused to consider finding me an alternative route (far too much effort of course) and so there was no alternative but to wait three hours for the next train.

Another marathon walk back to my platform where I ate my butties and read my book. And listened to the desperate news that “the train arriving from Granville” … which will be the one that will be taking me back … “has been delayed by 40 minutes due to a signal failure”.

sncf gare de granville railway station manche normandy franceBut to give them their due, as soon as it arrived and the passengers alighted and the crew had checked it for lost property, we were immediately waved on board. They hadn’t had time to clean it so it was something of a mess, but I didn’t want to wait around for another half an hour. 10 minutes late was quite enough.

During the whole route back I was in something of a daze. That 05:20 start had done me no favours whatsoever and the marathon dash and consequent stress had made things even worse. I wasn’t in much of a state to pay much attention to what was going on.

To make things worse, in view of everything that had happened today I was going to treat myself to a bus back home. But the last bus goes at 20:00 and we arrived back at 20:10 so that was that i had to walk.

And to make things even worse, the only bakery open in the town at that time of night had sold out of bread and buns for tomorrow.

It was a very long drag up the hill and I was stopped by a couple of tourists who needed directions.

So back here after all of that and I’m not up to much at all. I couldn’t even face making any tea. I’m going to go to bed and sleep until I awake. After all, tomorrow is another day.

Wednesday 21st June 2017 – TODAY HAS BEEN …

… a day of a few major issues, and for a while here we had a very unhappy bunny.

It didn’t start off too well because I couldn’t sleep because of the heat. And so I fetched the fan in, and then couldn’t sleep because of the noise. So I switched it off – and then couldn’t sleep … well, anyway, you get the picture.

The alarm awoke me and I staggered into the bathroom, and then staggered in to breakfast. At 09:00, I went to fetch the baguette. Things were going well at this point.

Back here, there was a message on my telephone. “Your bank account is overdrawn …”. Well, no it flaming well isn’t – or, at least, it shouldn’t be. After all, I went yesterday to the bank to check that my money had arrived and they assured me that it had.

So I called the bank – no answer.

In the end, I called the bank’s head office. It seems that only SOME of the money has arrived from Pionsat. The rest must be en route (and this of course will be the reason why my bank cards aren’t ready, won’t it?). So when they gave me the €100:00 yesterday, it overdrew the account.

Of course, no point in giving the girl on the end of the phone, as annoyed as I was. It’s not her fault. She’s just in a call centre. And anyway, she came up with an effective solution. But next time I go down to the bank, they will need to redecorate the place because the heat from my tongue will cause the paint to blister.

By now, it was almost lunchtime. I opened the fridge and was promptly drowned in the cascade of water. The thing seems to have stopped, and everything has defrosted (luckily my pie was covered over). GRRRRRRRR!

So I made my butties and went to sit on the wall. I wasn’t out there long either as the heat was far too intense so I came back here. And at 14:00 I was on the phone to the agents about the fridge. “I need to transfer you to someone else” said the girl – and promptly cut me off.

So much for that! My blood pressure went up another couple of notches.

Speaking to the people at the SNCF wasn’t much better either. This baggage service has been “revised” due to “current circumstances”. They will now only pick up and drop off your suitcase at a private address. And so it looks as if I shall have to haul my suitcase around with me all across Paris – something that I was dying to avoid.

And so I booked my train to and from Brussels to the airport for my flight to Montreal. And discovered that there seems to be no return train from Charles de Gaulle to Brussels – I have to go back into Paris. And the itinerary that they have given me (which Bane of Britain didn’t check until he received it) allows me just 7 (yes SEVEN) minutes to go from the RER terminal at Paris-Nord to the departure of my train to Brussels.

As if that is ever likely to be possible with the big suitcase that I have?

And when I went to pay, they declined my Belgian Bank Card (why would they do that?) and I had to use my UK one.

Tonight while I was making my tea, I noticed that the fridge had started up again. So what was happening there? I dunno.

At least my pie and mash (done once more in the steam cooker) were good. I shall have to do that again!

But I’ve not had a very good day today though.

Monday 26th September 2011 – I REMEMBER YESTERDAY …

… saying that I didn’t want to come home.

And had I known what the flight was going to be like, I wouldn’t have done.

I’m not the best air traveller in the world, but I’m much better than some of the people on board who spent almost the entire flight screaming as we were tossed from one patch of turbulence to another all the way across the Atlantic.

The worst part about the flight though was that I didn’t receive my vegan breakfast – and how upset was I about that? That was a huge disappointment, although no complaints about the chick pea curry the night before.

Passing through the Immigration was fairly painless for a change. But the armed soldiers patrolling the airport wasn’t very pleasant to see. We all know about soldiers and their accurate rate of fire. A suicide-bomber pops up his head and 50 civilians are killed in a spray of inaccurate machine-gunning.

And it seems that they can’t spell “AREA” either. We all have to go to the “Baggage AERA” for our luggage.

The airport might have been fairly painless but the journey through Paris to the Gare de Lyon wasn’t. I’m really going to have to find an alternative to this route. Dragging my huge suitcase through the crowds and through the metro and the RER is no pleasure, believe me.

Nothing exciting happened on the train back – which makes quite a change after last year’s adventures and Terry met me at the railway station at Riom.

I fuelled up Terry’s car and then he took me back to his place, where Liz very kindly offered me a bed for the night, for which I was extremely grateful.

Tuesday 28th September 2010 – WOULD YOU BELIEVE …

sncf railway train riom puy de dome paris france… that this is the first time that I’ve been on a French train since all of 1978? That was when I had a brief excursion from Rouen to Paris to escape from a party of schoolkids that I was accompanying.

The trip itself was quite uneventful except that I had to share a table with three other people and a large black dog. Everywhere you put your feet it seemed to be on top of the dog. Probably something to do with me going to Labrador, I reckon.

everything went according to plan at Gerzat and Liz dropped me off at the railway station in really good time for my train. I even managed to have time for a coffee and was on the platform in good time for my train.

The British King Richard I was, as every schoolboy will tell you, nicknamed Richard Gare de Lyon because he was always travelling south with his pal Philip of France. I was here in the Gare de Lyon and I was going west. I didn’t like the analogy.

To seek directions to the RER I enquired of a member of the station security staff. He replied in an English which was absolutely impeccable. When I congratulated him on it he replied
"and so it ought to be. I was born in Atlanta, Georgia".
Ahh well.

So down into the basement, off to Something Halles du Something Else on the RER line A, and then change onto the RER line B for Charles de Gaulle airport Terminal 1. And it wasn’t half a struggle fighting through tides of people with a big heavy suitcase. This was the worst part of the journey without a doubt.

When I finally arrived at the airport I waited outside in the wind and rain in the company of a hundred other people for the Hotel navettes. My hotel was the Comfort Inn and I have no idea why they call it Comfort because the light in my room doesn’t work, the shower is only lukewarm and leaks all over the bathroom floor, the meals and drinks are like the internet service – flaming expensive!

But then it’s the cheapest hotel I could find that had a direct connection to the airport and still had a room vacant. I could have paid a lot more for my room elsewhere. And I’m only going to be sleeping in it anyway. It’s better than a draughty railway station concourse.

And I have my humus butties and a packet of biscuits – what more could any man desire?