Tag Archives: Rhys Sage

Friday 13th May 2022 – THIS WAS PROBABLY …

boats baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo May 2022… the worst day that I have had for quite a while.

And as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I’ve had a few of those just recently.

So while you admire a few photos of everything that was going on out at sea this afternoon, when the alarm went off at 07:30 I couldn’t move an inch and it was just the same at 07:45 and again at 08:00. In fact it was, would you believe, 10:20 when I finally put my feet on the floor this morning

speedboat baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo May 2022It wasn’t that that was the worrying part about it. What worried me more than anything was that I was feeling as if I had a hangover. I don’t know what there are in these pills but they are certainly kicking in with a vengeance

But seriously, if this is how I’m going to end up, I’m going to try to work out which one of these new medications it is that’s causing this and simply stop taking them.

As I’ve said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … the only excitement that I seem to have these days is what goes on during the night. The last thing that I want to do is to cut all of that out of my life.

In fact I can understand why (although that’s not the same as saying that I agree with) the taking of hallucinatory drugs is so habit-forming. There is certainly something to be said for being taken out of yourself and going off on a series of voyages into the ether.

yacht ile de chausey baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo May 2022So while we’re on the subject of my nocturnal voyages … “well, one of us is” – ed … I’ve actually managed to pull myself together at some point during the day and dealt with the stuff on the dictaphone.

I was going to do a coach job which meant taking a coach to a race track by a big army camp in Yorkshire. I set off in Nerina’s Ford Escort to go to find the coach. When I reached the army camp I parked the Escort and got out but I must have knocked the gear lever by mistake for all of a sudden it revved up and roared off across the car park on its own with no-one at the wheel. It was late at night and there weren’t all that many vehicles on the car park but I had a feeling that this was going to be a recipe for disaster. I had to run after it but I didn’t have a hope of catching it. I could see it driving erratically around this car park. There was no way that I would catch it. Gradually the car park filled up, ordinary people, whole families of Gypsies hauling scrap and rags, soldiers etc. Of course I lost sight of the car and had to climb up onto a bank in the middle of the race course and that wore me out so I had to climb up a smaller one but I couldn’t see as far. Then they came in with the coach. I thought to myself that if I’d made such a mess of driving this Escort what am I going to be like driving this coach? This is going to be an absolute nightmare to me and how am I going to explain to Nerina what’s happened about her car? She’s not going to believe this story for a minute.

yachts speedboat baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo May 2022And then there was a big group of us on an aeroplane. I somehow ended up with a girl whom I’d sat newt to on numerous occasions. We were discussing an aeroplane incident in the Atlantic similar to the Titanic and we were looking for the location of the yellow parachute of the plane. We were poring over maps documentation etc but we couldn’t actually see it. As well as that we were having a big lengthy chat. This girl was married but was in bad company and they spent a lot of money gambling. I’d been trying to tell her to cut down on it. She told me that last weekend she’d refused to go out even though everyone else in her family had wanted to. They’d wanted to go out on a big gambling spree but she’d dug her heels in and ended uo not going out at all. I was immediately pleased with her. Our hunt went on with quite a few documents but we couldn’t relate anything in them to anything on the ground. In the end she asked me quite pointedly what I was going to do now. I interpreted this as being that she wanted me to go. I gave her a great big kiss but she fought me off saying that people were looking so I prepared to leave on my own

That actually took me until rather late in the afternoon to type all of that out. For the first part of the day I couldn’t actually bring myself to do anything. It was all far too reminiscent of 2003/2004/2005 when I was going through another phase like this and I remember how difficult it was to climb out of the pit back then.

It was only Rhys’s wedding that rekindled my spirit of adventure back then. I’ll have to persuade him to marry again.

A lot of the morning was spent trying to recover and then the rest of the day was spent tidying up in the kitchen. There were piles of stuff everywhere and all of the washing-up that I hadn’t done yesterday after my rather busy day.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo May 2022There is of course the afternoon walk around the headland so I had to drag myself out of the apartment and off on my way.

First port of call was the wall at the end of the car park where I can look down on the beach to see what’s happening down there today.

It was a really nice day and there were plenty of people down there making the most of it. No-one brave enough though to take to the water which was a surprise. I’d have expected to have seen the crowds in there today with the nice weather that we are having but they semmed to have all chickened out.

f-pdyt Turquetil DYT-01 baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo May 2022While I was looking around out at sea at all of the maritime traffic, I was overflown by a light aeroplane on its way to the airfield.

It’s a new one on us. We’ve not seen her before. She’s F-PDYT, a Turquetil DYT-01 and that’s a machine about which I can tell you nothing at all.

Firstly, she hasn’t filed a flight plan and secondly, she wasn’t picked up on any radar anywhere so I can’t tell you anything about where she’s been and where she’s going.

And then I can’t even tell you anything about the manufacturer either because I can’t find any information about that either. It’s really not my day, is it?

As I walked down the path I came across a large group of people trying to take a selfie so I took their phones and duly obliged them. We had a little chat and then I carried on my way.

fishermen in speedboat baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo May 2022Nown at the end of the path I walked across the car park and down to the end of the headland.

For a change there wasn’t anyone sitting down on the bench by the cabanon vauban, which was a surprise because there was enough going on out there this afternoon to keep everyone entertained for hours.

We’ve already seen plenty of marine traffic going by this afternoon, but this speedboat was stationary out in the bay. There were several fishermen on board but in all the time that I was watching, no-one actually pulled anything out of the water.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that in all the time that we’ve been here, we’ve never ever seen anyone catch anything with a rod and line.

l'ecume 2 valeque sagone d'angawelys chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo May 2022From there I wandered off down the path on the other side of the headland to see what was happening in the port.

There was quite a racket coming from the chantier naval this afternoon. It looked as if they had the air sander working full tilt on L’Ecume II grinding off the old paintwork.

In actual fact they are making quite rapid progress on her, which you can see when you compare her to how she was ON SUNDAY.

It’s not like them at all to be this rapid, is it?

St-Gilles Croix-de Vie chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo May 2022Yesterday I mentioned that the dredger St-Gilles Croix-de Vie had finished its work in the harbour and had been towed across the harbour to the portable boat lift and had been lifted out of the water.

She’s now out there on a couple of blocks while they start to dismantle her ready to be taken away.

She doesn’t actually sail into port, as you might expect. She comes into port in a dismantled form on the back of a low loader and they assemble her on the hard-standing before they drop her into the water.

And then they dismantle her ready for her to be taken away again on the lorry that will come to pick her up in due course and take her off somewhere else.

fishing boats unloading fish processing plant port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo May 2022This afternoon there was quite a crowd over at the fish processing plant.

All of the boats are coming in to unload, swarming around L’Omerta that is still there after all this time. And there are a couple of large refrigerated lorries over there ready to whisk away the catch.

Back here I carried on tidying the kitchen and putting away the shopping from Thursday. The place looks a little more respectable now which makes a change. It had got into quite amess over the last few days.

Tea tonight was a stuffed pepper now that I have some and it tasted quite delicious. But I’m using a different rice right now and it’s not as nice as the usual stuff.

So later tha usual, I’m off to bed. I have a weekend school for my Welsh course so I’m hoping for a better start to the day tomorrow that today’s start. That was appalling and I don’t want to do that again.

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.

Sunday 23rd January 2022 – DAY SIX …

… of my self-imposed confinement to quartes began as you might expect on a Sunday with me not leaving the warmth and comfort of my stinking pit until about 11:00.

Mind you, that wasn’t when I awoke. The painkiller that I took last night to ease the pain in my jaw wore off round about 09:00 and that was about that. I’s a good job that I didn’t go to bed until about … errr … 03:00. Had it been any earlier, it would have worn off earlier.

Anyway 11:00 is a good time to be up on a Sunday even if I did spend a couple of hours huddled up underneath the quilt in the warmth. Nothing ever happens on a Sunday anyway, and even less does when I’m stuck in the house.

After the medication and checking my messages (well, some of them anyway) a friend of mine came on line so we had a little chat for a while, which cheered me up somewhat. And then I sat down to pair off the music for the next radio programme – the one that I’ll do tomorrow and which is programmed to go out on … gulp … 18th November.

As you can see, I like to be well ahead.

After lunch (toast and porridge with lots of coffee) I had a listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night. We were on a sailing ship returning home from the Caribbean or somewhere. There had been shortages of crew for the return, for one reason or another. We noticed something strange happening to a cable. It turned out that there was a saboteur on board. He was arrested and he revealed under pressure the name of a friend so those two were cast overboard. I was still of the opinion that there was a 3rd one. One or two people kept on dying here and there as you would expect. There were a couple of women and an elderly nurse. One of the women was exploring around the ship with me one night, being careful not to awaken anyone, and looking at what we could find. We came across something that was even more confusing, that someone had signed their nickname to an order but they weren’t actually known to be about. This led to an enquiry and in the end some young boy admitted that it was he who had signed the order in this nickname, but this left the question of this other person who at the moment was asleep. We started to have all kinds of grave suspicions about him. The old woman who had been awoken by the noise came in and offered to tell us all recipes so we prepared to hear them and write them down. The man appeared but we hadn’t made up our mind what to do about it. It was a very uncomfortable few minutes while he was here and he was bound to notice the uncomfortableness. I had this foreboding that this whole trip was going to end in disaster somewhere. If he didn’t start a mutiny on his own and kill half the officers, then something else would happen to this ship and he would probably be involved in it and it would all end up turning out like Treasure Island.

Later on I’d flown into the USA for some reason and I’d gone to meet a friend. We ended up having loads of trouble meeting up. eventually it took place in a hotel. He came in but there was no room so he had to crush up on a table with some other people. One thing that I noticed was how easily everyone there broke into conversation with whoever it was they were sitting next to whether they had known them before or not. I hardly talked to anyone there. The question of New Year came up. They were talking about how someone had played a concert on one side of the timeline to celebrate New Year and then dashed over the frontier to do the same on another time zone. I said that people between Spain and Portugal can do that. Someone came up with the name of Dundee and asked whereabouts was such-and-such a Firth which I didn’t recognise at all. She said “yes, where Dundee is”. I said “that’s the Tay”. It didn’t strike with her at all but I had to convince her that it was the Tay. She was saying something about how someone did the same thing there but they had quite a drive afterwards to cross the time zone. I was trying to think where you would cross a time zone by car near Dundee. Someone asked what time it was so I had a look at my watch. It was 09:10, without thinking. Someone else said “yes, 09:10”. It suddenly dawned on me that it must be 03:10 where I come from. They said “you must be tired”.

The conversation petered out after that.

By now I was ready to go and prepare my dough for the loaf that I was going to make today. 500 grammes of flour, several handfuls of sunflower seed, a crushed vitamin C tablet, 8 grammes of salt and 2 packets of yeast. And it actually all went together quite nicely.

While I was waiting for it to rise I came back here and rewrote another page of my stay in Leuven, adding in the photos and the details of the nocturnal rambles too. And it’s no surprise that I’m so exhausted with the distances that I’m covering during the night.

Back in the kitchen I switched on the oven to warm up and while it was heating I rolled out the pizza dough that I’d taken out of the freezer at lunchtime and put it in the greased tray.

When that was done I put it on one side to proof and stuck the bread in the oven to bake seeing as the oven was now hot enough. And while all that was going on I made myself a mug of instant hot chocolate and came to sit down for a rest.

vegan pizza home made bread place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022After about an hour or so I went and assembled my pizza and I finished that just as the bread was done. Perfect timing, that was! And so the pizza went into the oven to bake.

Here are the finished products too. Don’t they look nice? And the pizza tasted nice too, even though I had to make do with tinned mushrooms. They aren’t the same as fresh mushrooms, not by a long way.

Now that it’s eaten and all washed up, I can finish my journal entry and go to bed. There’s an early start in the morning for me to attack my radio programme so I need to be at my best.

Not that that’s ever likely to happen these days, of course. But only 2 more days of my house arrest and then on Wednesday I can hit the streets. That will remind me to ring up to cancel the nurse and the physiotherapy. I’m sure that they don’t want whatever it is that I have.

And I hope that the little improvement with my teeth continues too. As the old saying goes, “the teeth in the top are fine but the ones in my bottom are hurting terribly”

Wednesday 19th May 2021 – YOU’RE PROBABLY WONDERING …

… about why it’s taken me so long to put my notes of today’s travel on line.

The truth is that last night with 164% of my daily total of effort recorded on my fitbit, I crashed out completely at about 21:15 and crashed out properly too – in bed under the bedclothes and out like a light. I vaguely remember waking up again at about 23:20 but that was my lot until 05:20 the following morning.

And that’s another mystery, isn’t it? Whenever I do go to to bed really early I can’t seem to make the most of it and end up waking early, except on a Saturday a couple of weeks ago.

But returning to our moutons, as they say around here, Wednesday is the day that I travel to Leuven. I was up and about at 06:00 as usual as the first alarm went off.

First task was to make myself a coffee, and then make a thermos flask of coffee for the journey. Those water bottles that we received for our expeditions on board THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR really are the business.

Making my sandwiches and so on for breakfast and lunch was next, the sourdough and the ginger beer needed feeding too so I attended to that. It will be interesting to see if there’s another eruption of the sourdough while I’m away. To be on the safe side, I’ve put the jar in a bowl to stop it going everywhere.

Having done a few more bits and pieces I headed off down the road towards the railway station, realising after about 200 yards that I’ve forgotten to pack any clean clothes. Too late now to do anything about it now.

people on terrace rue lecampion Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallDown in the town I noticed a few changes hat have taken place since I was last here. Cafés can now open their terraces to the general public.

Many of the city centre cafés don’t have terraces of course but the local council has given them authorisation to set up ad-hoc terraces on the street in front of their premises. And even though it’s a cold, damp 08:15 or thereabouts on a midweek morning, there are a few clients who couldn’t wait to sample the delights of which they have been deprived for so long.

Draymen too delivering beer barrels and crates too. That’s a welcome sign too.

But I still think that it’s far too early to be opening up like this with casualties the way that they are. I can’t help having the feeling that it’s as if the Government has given up the fight against containing the virus and relying on the vaccination programme. This is all going to end in tears.

beach cabins on lorry cours jonville Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut there are other more positive signs of summer too, as I noticed further along at the junction in the Cours Jonville.

As I waited to cross the street one of the Council lorries pulled up in front of my. It was pulling a trailer and was loaded up with the beach cabins off the Plat Gousset.

At the end of the season the cabins are taken off the promenade to keep them safe in a compound in the Council’s maintenance depot. They don’t leave them on the promenade through the winter

Regular readers of this rubbish who will recall having seen the winter storms smashing their way onto the promenade at high tide will not be surprised by this. Coming back at the start of the season and finding a pile of matchwood waiting for you isn’t the way to run a seaside resort.

gec alsthom regiolis 84555 gare de Granville railway station Manche Normandy France Eric HallAt the railway station my train was already in and waiting for me so I could go and find my seat and sit down. And that was just as well because with not feeling very well, the walk up there had thoroughly exhausted me.

It was only a 6-car unit too – just one of the GEC Alsthom Regiolis sets that we usually have – so it was pretty crowded this morning. I had a companion sitting next to me, but that didn’t stop me sleeping for the first part of the journey.

The rest of the journey was spent updating the laptop. This morning before setting out I copied onto a memory stick the files that had been updated on the big computer since my last trip to Leuven. I have one of these tiny 64GB memory sticks attached to my keyring which I use as I travel about to copy files from one computer to another.

The Gare de Montparnasse was still quite empty – full life hasn’t yet returned to Paris (and quite right too) – and it was easy to find a seat on the Metro train to the Gare du Nord. I always walk down to the end of the platform at railway stations because I’ve noticed that the crowds seem to congregate at the middle so the ends of the trains are usually much more empty.

At the Gare du Nord there were very few people around yet again so I took full advantage by buying another carnet of 10 tickets. I seem to be going through them quite quickly these days.

TGV Reseau Duplex 216 gare du nord paris France Eric HallAs I arrived upstairs at the terminus where I catch my train, a train from Lille pulled in and I reckoned that this will be mine going back out again.

We won’t be allowed on it for quite a while because they have to clean it thoroughly these days before we can get back on, so I spent the time looking around. I can tell you a little about my train while we are waiting.

It’s one of the old TGV “Reseau Duplex” double-deckers that they use on high-volume routes. The first time that I had travelled on one was a few years ago when I went from Lyon to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport on my way to Montreal, and doesn’t that seem like a lifetime ago, the way things have been this last year or so?

sncf locomotive 522228 class bb 22200 gare du nord paris France Eric HallWhile I was looking around I came across this beautiful machine.

Anyone who has travelled on an express train in France before the days of high-speed high-capacity multiple-units will have been on a train pulled by one of these. It’s locomotive 522228, one of the class of BB22200 locomotives that flooded the SNCF network back in the old days and are the epitome of French long-distance travel.

The Nez Cassées or “Broken Noses” began to be introduced in 1975 and a total of 205 were introduced. Some of them have even been timed at travelling in excess of 200 kph. But in 2012 they began to be withdrawn for breaking and that marks the end of this era of traditional travel. And that’s a tragedy

TGV Reseau Duplex 215 gare du nord paris France Eric HallEventually the details of our train were posted up on the board so we could all swarm down to platform towards our seats.

As you might expect, mine is down at the far end of the train, which I suppose isn’t too bad because it means that I don’t have so far to walk at Lille Flandres. It’s a train of two-units coupled together and, surprisingly, we have two units of consecutive numbers.

This wasn’t quite as full as the rain on which I’d come from Granville so I had no neighbour. I could eat my lunch in comparative comfort and read my E-book.

It’s a book written in 1918 and talks about the early history of flight, AIRCRAFT AND SUBMARINES: THE STORY OF THE INVENTION, DEVELOPMENT, AND PRESENT-DAY USES OF WAR’S NEWEST WEAPONS by Willis J Abbot and makes several claims about powered flight taking place before the Wright Brothers but by people other than the usual suspects Gustave Whitehead and Richard Pearse.

It’s a fascinating read about submarines because there is little research that has been done into the German U-boat campaign of 1914-18 compared to what was done in the Second World War and the massive tomes of CLAY BLAIR

Interestingly, there’s an obscure reference in Abbot’s book to the fate of the Hunley – the world’s first killer submarine. He says that divers a couple of years after the end of the American Civil War found it still embedded in wreck of the Housatonic, although no mention of that was made when Itzé and I WENT TO VISIT THE HUNLEY after it had been recovered.

Our train pulled into Lille Flandres railway station bang on time and so I set off in the damp atmosphere down the road towards Lille Europe Railway Station.

TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt 4518 SNCF TGV POS 4403 gare du lille europe France Eric HallOur train was already in the station but there was 20 minutes before our train was due to depart so I had plenty of time to take a photo of it.

Once again it’s a train consisting of two train sets. Mine is 4518, one of the TGV Reseau 38000 tri-volt trains, the same type as the Thalys PBA trains that work between Paris, Brussels and occasionally Amsterdam. It’s coupled up to 4403, one of the POS units tat formerly worked the eastern TGV network.

its neighbour 4402 is the train that holds the world speed record for conventional train travel, having reached 574.8 kilometres per hour on 3rd April 2007.

push me pull you sncb locomotive gare du midi brussels belgium  Eric HallThe train that took me on to Leuven from Brussels Gare du Midi was one of the SNCB “push me pull you” units with the locomotive pushing it from the far end.

And I was lucky to catch it too because there was another barrage at the station with the police checking the travel papers of people getting off the train. I was paperless, as you might expect, so I had to bluff pretty hard to be allowed officially to enter the country.

But I know what to do for the next time that I arrive in the country, and I can see that I shall be having to change my travel habits.

But anyway, they let me in and I could head off for my train.

sncb series 55 locomotive 5503 haren brussels belgium Eric HallFor a change, our train took the older route that passes by the huge railway rolling stock depot at Haren, and alongside the area where they park the redundant locomotives prior to scrapping.

Amongst the locomotives in there today is 5503, one of the Class 55 diesels of the SNCB. This was a generic design used by many railway companies in Europe, and this particular model was built by BN, a Belgian company now part of Bombardier, and powered by General Motors EMD engines.

It’s a testament to the efficiency and reliability of the GM engines that 60 years after their introduction there are still plenty of them still in existence. The British version of these, powered by the unreliable and inefficient and, for all intents and purposes, irreparable North British engines that were cheap licensed copies of a MAN diesel engine, never even made 20 years.

To give you some idea, because of the narrow British loading gauge, the engines had to be mounted upside-down so that to even do a simple job like draining the oil and changing the filter, you had to take the engine out.

sncb automotrice am75 haren brussels belgium Eric HallAlso ready to go to the breaker’s yard were a few of the AM75 multiple units.

When I was working for that American company 15 years ago I would have been pleased if one of these had arrived at Jette railway station to take me off to work instead of one of the ancient units that usually took me, but these days they are long obsolete.

Introduced in 1975, there were 44 of these train sets introduced. There are one or two of them still circulating around on the network round by Antwerp and Charleroi and are the oldest multiple units left in action on the SNCB railway network, but I suspect that they won’t be around for much longer.

But I’m interested to see what the next generation of multiple units will be like.

sncb class 18 locomotive 1886 gare de Leuven railway station Belgium Eric HallAt Leuven I could see which locomotive had been pushing us towards Eupen.

It’s 1886, one of the Class 18 electric locomotives. There are 120 of these locomotives, built by Siemens between 2008 and 2011 and replaced a variety of different locomotives from previous generations built in the 1950s and early 1960s.

From the railway station I staggered off to my accommodation. And it really was a stagger too because I didn’t enjoy the walk at all. And I didn’t have an upgrade today. The place is busy so I’m in a single unit, although bigger and with a double bed, something that you don’t have in a basic single unit.

My trip to the shops was later than usual, and for 2 reasons too. Firstly we had a torrential rainstorm and I wasn’t going out in that. And secondly, I needed all of this time to gather my strength.

roadworks naamsestraat naamsevest Leuven Belgium Eric HallBecause I wasn’t feeling very energetic, I took the shorter route along the ring-road to the supermarket, and ended up at the junction of the Naamsestraat and the Naamsevest.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we’ve seen the roadworks at this junction for the last couple of times that we’ve been here, and there still appears to be no change. They aren’t making much progress here, which seems typical these days with building work, and I wonder how they are progressing with the other work we’ve been watching.

Anyway, at the Carrefour I did my shopping. They had burgers on special offer and also some reduced vegan sausages so I bought them for the next few teas But I forgot the vegan mayonnaise for my sandwiches which was a shame.

roadworks naamsestraat naamsevest Leuven Belgium Eric HallOn the way back I passed by the roadworks again, which we can see now from a different angle, and then headed on for home

The walk back with the shopping exhausted me and the climb up the stairs to the 2nd floor finished me off. I made myself some food, a burger with pasta and veg, and that was that. I’d had enough for today and so I was going to go bed straight away. I can finish my notes tomorrow.

it’ll also give me a chance to listen to the dictaphone to see where I went during the night because there was a file on the dictaphone to indicate that something had happened during the night.

Nerina was actually involved in this although I didn’t have the chance to see her. I had to go to see someone who had built some kind of magnificent motorbike and was busy building – I dunno, circus or fairground attractions out of old cars and so on so I thought that I go and talk to him about perhaps getting a bike or doing some work or something. He lived on Stoneley Road – no, not Stoneley Road – near where the Hunters Lodge is. So I went down past Nerina’s but she wasn’t there, and I got to this house. I knocked on the door but no-one came. It was a bungalow and the front door was at the side of it. I put my head into the garage but there was nothing in there but I was tempted to go for a really good look around, which I did. When I came out I bumped into a couple who were most surprised to see me. I was most surprised to see them – it didn’t half look suspicious. I explained what I was doing. The guy started to be really aggressive in a light-hearted, funny way saying things like “when they said this kind of thing to Clement Freud on 20 Questions he became most upset, things like that. This went on for a couple of minutes. I ended up being cornered by this man and woman. She was telling me all about the stuff that he was building but e guy was being all aggresssive. Suddenly they ushered me into the house. There in the living room was a load of people all wearing black, motorbike types in black t-shirts, black leather waistcoats and so on and they had all kinds of things in there like cars that were turning into circus attractions, that kind of thing, all together. Someone I knew who was a friend of mine, either my former friend from Stoke on Trent or Rhys (yes, you have a mention, Rhys), said something about having to go and tax his motorbike. I made some kind of comment about my motorbike needing taxing as well, even though it wasn’t MoT’d. That’s where it ended.

The hospital tomorrow, and they are going to be checking my heart. At least I have one, which shows that I’m not a Tory. And I’m thankful for that.

Friday 2nd April 2021 – IT’S BANK HOLIDAY …

… today. Good Friday – the day that follows Maundy Thursday, which presumably follows Sheffield Wednesday. And so I had a lie-in and didn’t surface until about 10:30.

Mind you, I didn’t go to bed until 02:30 this morning. And that wasn’t a wasted time either because I spent the couple of hours when I couldn’t sleep working on today’s batch of photograph and probably did about 20 of them too before I went to bed.

Plenty of time for me to go off on one of my travels. Abd hello, Rhys. It’s been a while since you’ve been on a nocturnal voyage with me. I was on a holiday with a group of people and part of this holiday involved a train trip across the USA. There was the opportunity to step out from this train ride for 24 hours and catch the train the following day so I made arrangements to meet Rhys. The train pulled into the station and I climbed out. A couple of other people climbed out as well and went their separate ways. I was waiting because I couldn’t see Rhys’s car. In the meantime I had my rucksack and everything so I took a photograph of the train. Then I noticed Rhys sitting in the bar with a pint of beer in front of him. We said “hello” and he got up to go. I said “no, we don’t have to go – get your drink, drink your beer”. he replied that it wasn’t his beer but the beer of a friend of his. He’d bought it though. Anyway so we came out and started to get my stuff. I had the idea that I would follow him in Caliburn because for some reason Caliburn was there. Then I thought that I didn’t have the insurance on Caliburn so it probably wasn’t a very good idea. We got my stuff and threw it into Rhys’s car. He asked “are you staying the night with us?”. I replied “I don’t have any plans at all” which was quite true. The train was a steamer and had a huge load of freight, oil tankers, that kind of thing on the front of it before you reached the passenger accommodation which was at the rear of the train.

After I’d had my medication I came in here and transcribed the dictaphone notes and then finished off today’s photographs. There was a break for breakfast of course.

With it being Easter I’d dragged out a pack of frozen Hot Cross Buns from the freezer. They’ll keep me going for the Easter period. After all, Easter isn’t Easter without Hot Cross Buns. A big thank you to Liz and Terry for bringing them to me from the UK at Christmas.

When I’d finished the photos I had to go back again and amend some of them. For some reason that I have yet to understand, I never synchronised the times on the two cameras that I was using.

With being in the car now, I’m using the NIKON 1 J5 much more than I did before while I was in the Arctic and there’s a one-hour difference between the time on that camera and on the big NIKON D500.

What’s happening is that I’m editing a batch of photos on one camera and suddenly discovering that I’ve missed a batch off the other, so I have to go back and do some renumbering in order to keep everything in sequence.

But anyway, now they are in proper order to date, I’m now heading down a dirt-track road near the border between Montana and Wyoming looking for the site of the Battle (if you can call it that) of Powder River in 1876.

After that I started again on the arrears of my Central European trip last year. By the time that I knocked off there are just another 12 photos for which I need to write the text, and then it’s all done and I can turn my attention to the trip on Spirit of Conrad down the Brittany coast.

There was a break of course while I went off on my afternoon walk around the headland.

man on beach place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThis particular guy down there on the beach is very well camouflaged and it’s difficult to pick him out amongst the rocks down there.

But I don’t blame him at all for being wrapped up like that because while the sun was bright and there were very few clouds, we were back with the wicked wind again and the temperature must have dropped 15 degrees since yesterday. There weren’t any people out there sunning themselves on the beach and I wasn’t surprised at all about that.

It might be a Bank Holiday in the UK but it isn’t in France so the schools are still in and there weren’t all that many people wandering around. I had the path on top of the cliffs pretty much to myself this afternoon as I wandered along.

autogyro pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut while there weren’t so many people walking around on the ground, there was a lot of activity going on in the air.

As I was walking along the path I heard a very familiar noise in the air and, sure enough, a minute or two later an autogyro flew past overhead. I was expecting it to be our old friend the yellow one but in fact it’s one that I’ve never seen before – a bright red one. A different one, unless it’s the yellow one that’s been repainted.

She’s probably on her way to the airport at the back of Donville les Bains, although I’ve no idea where it is that she will have come from. She never seems to file a flight plan and flies so low that she’s underneath the radar.

concrete reinforcement bunker atlantic wall pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAcross the lawn I went, via a different route today that took me across the ruins of a bunker that housed 15 German soldiers during World War II.

What caught my eye was the wire meshing in the roof that reinforced the concrete that they had poured for the roof. It’s a good heavy duty stuff probably about 10mm in diameter and would withstand most things when set in concrete.

The construction of the Atlantic Wall was supposed to be Hitler’s great secret but what he didn’t realise was that he was betrayed by this even right at the very beginning. The company that had the contract for supplying the concrete was a Belgian company that was run by a guy who was actually a Secret Agent for the Russians, so he told the Russians and they told the British.

Of course the British never let on that they knew, because to admit that the Communists had helped them would have been a terrible thing to do, and it wasn’t until the British wartime papers were released in 1994 that the world knew about it.

f-hgsm Robin DR400 160 pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAs if the autogyro wasn’t enough, while I was there standing on the roof of the bunker an aeroplane flew past overhead.

This one is F-HGSM, Robin Dr400-160. She is owned by the Aero Club Des Grèves de Mont St Michel and took off from Rennes Airport at 11:49 this morning. She disappeared off the flight radar when she was half-way along the route to Granville so I imagine that she’s been doing a little bit of low-flying exercises as well.

Having photographed the plane I walked down to the end of the headland to see what was going on out in the bay. But the answer to that was “nothing at all” so I headed off along the path on top of the cliffs down towards the viewpoint overlooking the port.

lorry load of chains unloaded by pallet lifter rue du port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallHere was something extremely interesting.

There was a lorry parked down there with a pile of chains in the back. And there was this pallet-lifter nearby, and another small pile of chains on the ground at the back of the lorry. It looks as if the new mooring chains for the harbour have arrived at last and the pallet-lifter is taking them out of the back of the lorry.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that yesterday we saw at least one of the diggers being taken away by a lorry. Today, it seems that both of them have gone now. I wonder if they will be back after the Easter Holiday.

joly france victor hugo fishing boats port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallThe diggers might have gone from the harbour but most of the fishing boats are still here, tied up at the pontoons.

Now idea why they weren’t out working today. There was plenty of wind but the seas weren’t all that rugh so I would have expected them to have been out working.

The two Channel Island ferries, Victor Hugo and Granville are still in there tied up. They won’t be going anywhere for a good while yet, and not at all if the Channel Islanders refuse to put their hands in their pockets and contribute towards the subsidy to keep the ferries running.

And one of the Joly France boats is over there too. There must be nothing going on at the Ile de Chausey either.

Back here there was football on the internet. A really important match in the Welsh Premier League between Penybont and Haverfordwest County. This is the last weekend in the first half of the season. The League splits into 2 after this weekend – the top 6 compete for the four European places and the bottom 6 compete to avoid the two relegation places.

These two clubs were 6th and 7th in the league and whoever won would go into the top half and whoever lost would be in the bottom 6. From the kick-off it was quite clear that Penybont would win this – barring accidents of course. They were fitter, keener, much more organised and played the ball around between themselves with much more skill and confidence.

And I was right too. The final score of 2-0 to Penybont was exactly what I would have expected from the play. The only surprise was that Penybont were as low in the table as 6th because they looked much better than that today.

While I was eating my tea – more of those soya nuggets – I was at a party. My friend Esi was having a Zoom party and I’d been invited. It was nice to see her, even if it was via the computer, because we haven’t met since Christmas.

And while I was washing up, I dropped and broke a storage jar. I’m not having much luck with that.

So now I’m off to bed. Shopping tomorrow at Noz and Leclerc so I need to be on form. I won’t be having another lie in until Sunday and Monday. Can I survive until then?

Monday 25th May 2020 – A FEW MORE …

… things to add to the pile of things that haven’t been done today. I’m not having a good start to the week.

It all went wrong right at the very beginning when the third alarm found me somewhere in Wyoming, and a very dry, dusty Wyoming at that too. I’d been in my old Opel Senator and had an accident in which it was written off and I’d had to wait around for a taxi. Eventually the one that the insurance company sent fo me tuned up – an old blue Volvo 244. On the way back (and the name Irmo – which Rhys might know – was mentioned) I mentioned how I’d be happy to settle in a place like this and I asked what taxi-driving was like around here. The driver told me with alarm “ohh don’t go settling around here” but didn’t elaborate. He told me that he might have a buyer for my car so we were talking about buying old cars and dismantling them like I used to from the abandoned car auctions in Brussels but at that point the alarm went off.

After the medication (I was up and about by 06:30) I had a listen to the dictaphone. And there was something very enigmatic on there from round about 02:30. “Yes sometime during the night I dreamt that I was actually writing up my blog. Yes, it’s getting to me, isn’t it?” was what I heard when I played it back. But what it was all about I really didn’t have a clue.

Between breakfast and lunch there was a variety of things to do. First off was to send off the radio project for the forthcoming weekend. And seeing as it’s the end of the month we’re having a live concert again.

Then it was time to choose the music for the next radio project.

It’s a friend’s birthday so I had to prepare a special birthday card for her. That was quite important.

My Welsh homework needed doing too, and that involved some research and more than a little tidying up of my notes. And the questions had come in *.docx format which Open Office doesn’t read correctly – so I had to reformat that by copying the text and paginating it which took an age.

Then back to the radio project and by the time that I knocked off for lunch the tracks had been joined in pairs, I’d chosen a speech for my guest and I’d started to write the notes.

home made apple pear purée cordial granville manche normandy france eric hallAfter lunch there was cookery to be done.

This morning I’d used the last of the purée so I made some more. It hadn’t kept as well as previously so I’ve decided to make smaller amounts more regularly. Today’s effort was apple and pear, and I remembered the cinnamon and nutmeg.

With the juice that was left over, I added some syrup to make a cordial, and we’ll see how that goes.

As well as that, there was the remaining kilo of carrots to be peeled, diced, blanched and frozen. They are in the freezer right now too.

yacht english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallThere was a break while I went out for my afternoon walk in the glorious sun.

There were a few people staring down at the foot of the cliff so I went along to see what there was going on. I’m not sure what it was that they were seeing, but I saw this beautiful little yacht go scudding by right under my nose.

One of my neighbours was there too – Gribouille’s mum – with her arm in plaster. She’d had a fall in the market on Saturday and broken her wrist.

She started to tell me all about it but no thanks – I don’t want to know things like that.

st helier jersey trawler english channel islands granville manche normandy france eric hallThe next couple of photos look as if the quality is quite dismal too.

In several respects that’s true, but it was necessary to enhance them to bring our exactly what it was that I wanted to see. These are two fishing boats – in this photo and the next one, but it is what is in the background that is more interesting.

In all the time that I’ve been living here I don’t think that we have ever had such perfect weather out that way

st helier jersey trawler english channel islands granville manche normandy france eric hallAs regular readers of this rubbish will recall, on a good day we can see the island of Jersey from here even though it’s at least 54 kilometres away.

Today, not only could we see the island quite clearly but we could even see the buildings and the radio masts on the island. I’ve seen them before, but only with the zoom lens at full-extent and with some severe cropping and enhancing. But today, it didn’t take much to bring them out.

In places you could even see them with the naked eye, and that was impressive.

peche a pied beach plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallHaving chatted to another neighbour who was in the vicinity I went off for my afternoon walk.

There were crowds of people out there today – picnicking on the lawn, walking around the headland and even down on the beach. Some corners of the beach are not easy to get to but the seafood pickings must be really good. Here was someone having a go at the peche à pied by the looks of things

It would be really interesting to find out how much he actually was able to catch and, more importantly, how he was going to prepare it for eating.

seagulls scavengig in rock pools pointe du roc granville manche normandy france eric hallTalking of good seafood pickings, regular readers of this rubbish will recall a few days ago that we saw a whole sock of fleagulls perched on the rocks, looking as if they were Waiting for Godot.

At the time I speculated that they were waiting for the tide to recede from the mudflats so that they could get stuck in to supper. The tide is out right now and here they are, having a feast.

There must have been several hundred here and it shows the capacity of the shellfish to regenerate themselves every day to be be able to produce enough food to satisfy this lot.

pointe de carolles plage cabanon vauban mont st michel granville manche normandy france eric hallA little earlier I mentioned the beautiful weather.

Over towards the Brittany coast the weather was rather misty and hazy but down at the end of the baie de Mont St Michel we could see quite clearly.

The large white buildings are all of the hotels and the like that service Mont St Michel. Having seen the prices that they charge for even the most basic services down there, I shudder to think how much they would want for a night in a hotel down there.

Over to the left we have the Pointe de Carolles with the Cabanon Vauban – the customs lookout post – perched on the edge.

And notice how far out the tide is? You can clearly see the orange sand down at the head of the bay.

boats trawler chantier navale port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallThere was the usual pause to admire the scenery down below the cliff on the south side of the Pointe du Roc.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we always keep an eye on the chantier navale to see what goes on there. Just ecently we’ve seen them whittle themselves down from five to four to three to two. But today, they have gone back up to four with the arrival of two more.

Only small ones, but then I suppose that everything helps. Someone was sanding down one of them. I couldn’t see which one it was but I could certainly hear the sound.

trawler beached port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallUp on blocks in the chantier navale is not the only way that boats receive attention around here.

Careening is a regular feature when there’s a high tidal range, although I’ve yet to see that applied in any seriousness. Being strapped tightly to a knuckle on the harbour wall so that the boat grounds out safely when the tide goes out is on the other hand something that we’ve seen on a regular basis and there’s another one over there receiving similar treatment.

There was quite a crowd up on the wall by it too, so something exciting must have happened to it.

giant crane rue du port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallOver the last few days regular readers of this rubbish will recall seeing the giant crane that appeared on the docks at the end of last week.

Whatever it’s come here to do, it’s doing it right now. Its width with its safety feet is such that it’s blocked off half of the road and there afe traffic light sontrolling the traffic.

It’s not possible at all to see what it’s doing from here. One of these days I’ll have to go for a walk down there and take a closer look. It has to be something worthwhile to have attracted machinery like that.

There was the usual hour on the guitars, somewhat later than usual, and then tea. Tonight was a stuffed pepper and the last of the apple crumble. I’ll have to make another pudding tomorrow and I have a cunning plan for that.

port de granville harbour entrance marker light manche normandy france eric hallThere was the usual run out tonight – an agonising crawl up the hill in the teeth of a gale. But I recovered my breath, ran down to the clifftop and then walked round the corner.

The other day, regular readers of this rubbish saw the marker light for the harbour entrance standing well clear of the water on its rock. By my estimation it’s still half an hour or so before high tide, and if you compare the two photos you’ll see how high the tide comes in.

And look how clear the air is this evening. You can see for miles down there.

people fishing from wall port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallAs I ran on down on top of the cliff I noticed hordes of people standing on top of the harbour wall.

For quite a while I stood and watched them, thinking that they might be going to jump in. We’ve seen them do that before. But as long as I looked, no-one moved and I came to the conclusion that they were fishermen or something.

There were a couple of parties of girls as well loitering around where I was standing, presumably likewise waiting for things over there to happen.

fishing boat seagulls baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france eric hallAs I stood there watching them, something came a put-putting around the headland.

At first I wasn’t sure what it was, but I suppose that it’s another one of these very small fishing boats. It’s a working boat, judging by the radio aerial.

And those things in the foreground. I wasn’t sure whether they were marker buoys or seagulls. And having had a closer look I have to say that i’m still none-the-wiser.

And that reminds me of a story I heard about a barrister, FE Smith, giving a lengthy explanation of something to a crowded courtroom.
“I’ve listened to you for half an hour” said the judge “and I’m still none-the-wiser”
“Maybe not, My Lord” replied Smith. “But you’re certainly better-informed”.

fish processing plant sucking shellfish out of trawler hold granville manche normandy france eric hallMy run took me all the way down the Boulevard Vaufleury and as there was a lot going on at the fish processing plant I went to see.

This equipment that they were using was quite interesting and it took me a minute or two to work out what it was. And I came to the conclusion that it’s a kind of vacuum-cleaner that was being used to suck the shellfish out of the hold of the trawler and into the fish processing plant.

And if that’s what it is (and that was what it sounded like) it’s a pretty ingenious device.

sunset english chennel ile de chausey granville manche normandy france eric hallMy run tok me round to the viewpoint at the Rue du Nord.

Nothing exciting going on there and still a while before sunset so I took a quick photo and ran on home to write up my notes..

Tomorrow is a busy day. I have my Welsh class so I need to prepare, I have my book-keeping class that has now started, I have my music course.

Then there are the photos from Sunday to deal with, the current radio project and another live concert for the end of next month too.

That’s before I even think about the ongoing projects like the websites and the July 2019 photos, and then all of the other stuff that’s built up from projects before that were never finished.

It’s a mystery to me how I’m ever going to find the time to do it all.

Tuesday 22nd October 2019 – HATS OFF …

… to Caliburn. Stood outside on the car park for four months without turning a wheel while I was on my travels. So I gave his ignition key a turn this morning and admittedly after something of a struggle, his engine did fire up.

So I left him ticking over for 10 minutes to warm his engine up. I’m impressed.

The bad news though is that the garage can’t fit him in until the 5th of November and that’s filled me with dismay.

But hats off too to Grahame, one of the regular readers of this rubbish, who has just passed his citizenship test for Austria and is well on the way to having an Austrian passport.

So that’s Alison in Belgium, Jackie and Hanzi in Germany, Rhys in the USA, Rachel in Canada, and I of course have my permanent residency status for France and will be organising my French nationality once I get myself straight. Now we have Grahame in Austria.

What we are actually witnessing is a new 21st Century diaspora, an “involuntary mass dispersion of a population from its indigenous territories” as those of us from the UK who are capable of doing so are renouncing our heritage and moving forward to the Brave New World.

Usually, diasporas are associated with an unwanted element of the population, such as Scottish Highlanders, Acadians, Jews and the like being expelled from their home. But this new phenomenon consists of a different kind of person, something like the inverse where it’s the more mobile, more resourceful, more energetic person who is taking the initiative.

And these people are spreading out all over the world, as you can see from just my very small circle of friends. They are taking their considerable skills away from the UK, to the detriment of that country, and into their adopted country. The UK’s loss, the rest of the world’s gain.

And I couldn’t care less for the UK.

Yesterday I was going on … “and on and on” – ed … about my fourteen hours asleep yesterday. And so it goes without saying that I would be paying for it in early course.

Like last night.

I was in bed “something like” and dozed off for a short while but awoke pretty quickly. Lying in bed tossing and turning, this wasn’t doing me any good at all so round by 01:30 I gave it up as a bad job and hauled myself out of bed to carry on working.

It was a good idea too, because I was able to push on quite rapidly with the updating of the one of the websites that I had mentioned yesterday.

As well as that, I uploaded all of the photos – all 4,000 or so of them, up to the computer where I’ll begin to edit them in early course.

One of my friends was on line too, unable to sleep, so we had something of a chat.

Round about 06:30 I was overcome by fatigue so I took to my bed. I was out like a light and remained so until about 09:30.

Feeling like the Wreck of the Hesperus (although I have no idea where I might find it, except at Norman’s Woe of course) I staggered out of bed and it took me a while to organise myself.

Medication and then breakfast of course, followed by (at long last) a shower and a good tidy up of myself, for which I was extremely grateful because I needed it, and then I set the washing machine on the go with a load of clothes.

And I worked out that I spent FOUR MONTHS away from home with just

  • three tee-shirts
  • three sets of underwear
  • two pairs of trousers
  • two fleeces
  • one set of Arctic underlayers

Travellig light, you might say, except for Strawberry Moose, who took up far more space for himself and his affairs than I ever took for me.

As promised, I took my morning walk. Just down to the Super-U supermarket for some tomatoes, lettuce, fruit, onions and garlic. It was necessary because I didn’t have anything in the apartment, and it gave my morning walk some point.

It was a beautiful day today so I went and had lunch sitting on my wall overlooking the cliffs. The sunshine was delicious and there was a lizard out there enjoying itself.

This afternoon, I paid for my next year’s web hosting
which reminds me – if you enjoy what I write, please make your next Amazon purchase by using the links aside. It costs you no extra but earns me a small commission that helps defray my webhosting expenses
and then ordered a new bracelet for my fitbit. And that wasn’t as easy as it might have been either.

Another thing that I did was to contact three music shops about something that I need. And, once again, as yet there is no response from any of them. As I have said before, people complain about there being a recession and yet they don’t have too much interest in replying to genuine business enquiries.

All this money that I want to spend and no-one seems to want me to spend it with them.

The afternoon walk was beautiful. The weather was gorgeous and there were crowds of people milling around outside in the sun. Even a few kids running in and out of the sea, clearly having loads of fun. After all, we are in the school holidays.

Back here, I carried on upgrading the site that I’m working on, as well as negotiating with my web host about an upgrade to the server that he uses. It looks as if we might be moving into the 21st Century, something that will please me greatly too.

And in between all of that I’ve also spent an hour or so playing on the guitar – the bass of course but mainly the acoustic six-string. And I’m working on three numbers that I want to play competently on a six-string within a week or so.

But these are beautiful lyrics.
She’s got a smile that it seems to me
Reminds me of childhood memories
Where everything
Was as fresh as the bright blue sky

Now and then when I see her face
It takes me away to that special place
And if I stared too long
I’d probably break down and cry

Sweet child o’ mine

She’s got eyes of the bluest skies
As if they thought of rain
I’d hate to look into those eyes
And see an ounce of pain

Her hair reminds me of a warm safe place
Where as a child I’d hide
And pray for the thunder and the rain
To quietly pass me by

Sweet child o’ mine
I wonder if they remind anyone of anything in particular?

Tea was pasta and vegetables tossed in olive oil, garlic and black pepper (and I forgot the sea salt) and delicious it was indeed. Followed by a very lonely walk around the headland in the calm bright night.

Bedtime now, and I hope that I might be able to sleep for a while tonight. There is so much to do and there I was looking for a break after my exertions.

Monday 21st October 2019 – YOU CAN SAY …

… that again!!!!

Certainly glad to be back in my own bed last night. So much so that I was in it for a grand total of FOURTEEN HOURS!

12:10 when my eyes first saw the light of day, but it was more like 13:10 when i crawled out of ye olde stinkinge pitte and looked around the room.

Nothing much seems to have changed except that the language settings on the laptop in the dining room have been changed and some of the clothes in the drawer seem to have been rearranged. I wish that people would leave things as they find them when they look around. I have a hard-enough time trying to find things that I’ve moved, never mind things that others have moved.

And if you don’t know how to disable the logging-on timer on a computer, you shouldn’t be logging on. I tell you – I learnt an awful lot when I studied for my Diploma in Computing.

Mind you, none of the foregoing is to give the impression that I was stark out for all of that time. One glance at the dictaphone is enough to convince anyone. 5 entries there are, and a total of 13 minutes of recording.

That must have been some eventful night and I can’t wait to find out where I was and where I went.

So, the medication and a very late lunch – never mind breakfast. And then to work.

With being away for as long as I had, there was a huge pile of stuff on the back-up drive and all of it needed copying over to the desktop machine. And then with it having been installed on at least three other machines over a short space of time, it all needed verifying to make sure that I had everything in one place – and in the right place too.

There was a short break while I went for a walk. And having missed the morning walk that I promised myself, I went on an extended circuit – the one that goes over the new bit of path that they rebuilt.

And I can safely say that after my four months away from home, I’m leaner and fitter. As well as meaner, but that’s a completely different story.

Flak at the bat, I carried on with the updating of everything, and then started on another little project.

granville manche normandy franceRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that I now have a new web-stats analyser on my blog.

And who could fail to fall in love with it when not only does it give me accurate information for a change, it gives me facilities like this aside?

Yes, it’s all out there and freely available. You won’t get any better (or worse, depending on your point of view) information from anywhere. And so I’m going to add this analyser to all of my other sites. I’ve long-suspected that the stats that I’ve been receiving from them are pretty much rubbish too

And I’ve found out why the stats on another of my sites has plummeted so much just recently. It seems that when there was a server upgrade a while ago, I was given a free secure site upgrade, and that’s running as a mirror site. And while I’ve had 2353 hits so far this month on the “standard” unsecured site, the secured (https) site has received 1669 in October to date.

When I add those two together, it gives a figure much more in line with what I would ordinarily expect to see.

As a result, I’ve started a project that will see a different hit counter added to both these sites. Mind you, just like all of the projects that I have on the go right now, heaven alone knows when this one will be completed.

And that reminds me – for the dozens of users still using Windows version 7 – you do know that Microsoft is discontinuing support for it in the New Year? You need to upgrade your version of Windows or else make sure that you have a good anti-virus.

Another thing that I did today was to install a new internet chat facility on the desktop machine. The old-established ones are dying like flies so I need something more modern. Rhys and I were having a play around with it today to find its strengths and weaknesses.

For tea I had to chisel the drawers out of the freezer to find a curry and vegetables. The door being closed for four months without any air circulation has led to a build-up of ice inside and I had some kind of difficulty opening it all.

But a lovely potato and vegetable curry went down really well and for dessert, I found some chocolate. That will do me just fine until I can get round to organising myself again.

And I need to too. You’ve no idea how long it took me to figure out how to use the microwave oven again.

There’s an acoustic guitar in here so as well as the bass I’ve been plucking away at Kris Kristofferson’s “Bobby McGee”. I’m determined to master that, and master it pretty soon.

And talking of music, for most of the day I’ve had the music going on on the computer – Traffic’s “On The Road” on a continuous loop. One of those albums that I never tire of hearing. And I’ll be listening to it for most of the night because I’m not in the least tired. 14 hours of sleep means a lot of awakening.

Perhaps I should watch a film?

Friday 4th January 2019 – WHAT WITH ME …

… not feeling so good yesterday, I heard all of the alarms but I took absolutely no notice whatsoever. It was more of about 09:15 when I awoke, and 09:45 when I left the bed and believe it or not, because it’s not usually the case, I felt rather better.

During the first part of the night I’d been on my travels, but I’ll spare you the gory details as you are probably eating a meal right now.

But having gone back to sleep later, I’d been off to see my friend Rhys in South Carolina. Not out in the wilds but actually an urban setting somewhere. It was election time and I’d seen a few people heading into the Town Hall to vote and so I tagged onto the end. In the mayor’s office some woman there asked me for my name, which I gave. I suddenly remembered that I didn’t know his address (and doesn’t this remind me of an incident not so long ago?) but luckily she didn’t ask me that. She named a few names that corresponded in some degree to mine but I said that it wasn’t me and I could see this dragging on so I suggested that I go down to my truck ostensibly to fetch my ID but in reality to make good my escape, but she said that she wouldn’t put me to that kind of trouble to go all that way to the car park. At this point I began to have a feeling of unease, and I was glad when I awoke.

As a result of all of this, breakfast was rather late. And most of the morning had gone by then. And so I spent much of the rest of it tidying up. I’m expecting visitors tomorrow.

There was a brief interruption though when the doorbell went. Running after it, I found that the postie was there. She brought me a parcel that could only be my new computer screen.

After lunch – just a couple of slices of toast with hummus – I attacked my little project again and did some more research. And it’s not going to be easy as my lifestyle up until recently will cause me a few problems. But I’ll keep on keeping on.

tidal swimming pool plat gousset granville manche normandy franceThere was a small hiatus in the work while I went out for my afternoon walk.

My route this afternoon took me on my route around the city walls where I could admire the view out to sea.

And despite the miserable weather, which you can tell by looking at the mist in the distance on the photo, there were still quite a few people taking the air on the Plat Gousset

tidal swimming pool plat gousset granville manche normandy franceMy attention was drawn however to the tidal swimming pool.

It looked as if the tide was on its way in and the swimming pool was in the course of being filled, with a couple of spectators enjoying the proceedings.

It’s a shame though that the pool has a leak somewhere. It doesn’t retain the water like it ought to and empties pretty quickly.

As the tide goes quite a way out, a swimming pool just here close to the promenade could be quite an attraction.

speedboat ile de chausey granville manche normandy franceThere was a new boat out there that I hadn’t seen before. It’s a speedboat of some description and you don’t see too many of those out here on this side of the headland.

They are usually to be found, if at all, on the other side in the Baie de Mont St Michel where the sea is calmer.

The sea can be quite rough out here, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall. Not the kind of sea in which to go flat-out.

With an hour or so to spare, I unpacked the parcel that I received and it is my computer screen. I assembled it and plugged it into the laptop. it took an age to work out how it works as there was no instruction book, but it seems to work fine. The screen is the wrong resolution for the laptop but eventually I managed to figure that out and now it seems to be fine, if not confusing as I type in one direction and use the mouse in another.

After tea – a small stuffed pepper – there was a football match on the internet – Aberystwyth Town v Connah’s Quay Nomads in the Welsh Premier League.

You might think that the final score – 6-1 to the Nomads – indicates a right spannering but that was far from the truth. The Nomads’ first goal – a penalty – didn’t look anything like it and a slow-motion enlarged replay showed that the player caught his foot in the ground.

But the big difference included the fact that the Nomads took their chances when Aberystwyth didn’t, and that Michael Bakare was still going like a runaway truck long after the Aberystwyth defence had tired.

So now I’ll have a little play with my new screen for a while and then go to bed. Shopping day tomorrow.

Friday 23rd November 2018 – FOR THE FIRST TIME …

… for quite some considerable time, we’ve had rain today.

Not enough to prevent me from going for my series of perambulations but enough to make me put on the raincoat and do up the hood. And it’s not a long knee-length raincoat, Rhys.

With having had a reasonably early night, I had a good sleep too.

During the night last night there was something of a family reunion. I’m no longer sure of the beginning or even the middle but right at the end I can remember going to bed – in Vine Tree Avenue of all places. But when I went to get into bed with Nerina, my younger sister was asleep in there too. When I awoke her to find out what was going on, she told me that there was someone else asleep in her bed so she had to find somewhere else to sleep. I went to look in her bed and found that one of my friends had actually gone to sleep in there.
As an aside, in real life whoever was asleep in her bed later became her husband. But that’s another story.

It wasn’t a particularly early start this morning either. I had a bit of a lie-in, and then I attacked the breakfast.

This morning I’ve been a busy little B. The blog for the last week or two is up to date and you can see where I updated starting from this page and working forward.

When I’m more organised, I’ll be starting from the end of October and working backwards, doing three or four a day until it’s all done. It might take me several years to do it but if I don’t start, I won’t finish.

Another task that I’ve done this morning that took me far longer than it ought was to merge the clipbook libraries.

The program that I use the most is a text editor called Notetab. I do evrything with it, from making brief notes right up to hand-coding my own web pages.

The main advantages that it has are that

  1. you can have several *.txt or *.html files open at any one time
  2. you can build up a whole series of clipbook libraries, so that you can save a regular block of text or coding that you use on a regular basis, and just one click inserts it into your document, as regular readers of this rubbish might recall

There are enough old computers here to sink a ship, and there are backups that date to about 1999, so this morning I started to extract the libraries from the various machines and merge them together.

having done a couple this morning, I then did a big back-up of the laptop and I’ll be backing up my data a couple of times a day from now on, always assuming that I remember.

While I was searching for something else, I came across a rare book going back to AD731 that has now been uploaded to the internet and available for free download. And so I’ve now added a copy of Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People to my virtual library.

This is one of the very earliest histories of England and, along with the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, was the basis of much of what was known about English history in the Dark Ages.

And that reminds me. I brought my Domesday Book with me from the farm, but did I bring my Anglo-Saxon Chronicle?

This muesli that I made really is wicked. It went down a treat on my butties at lunchtime and there is still plenty left. And after lunch I came back into my little office and carried on with Day Four of the High Arctic.

trawler aztec lady ship repair yard port de granville harbour manche normandy franceThere was a break for a walk around the headland. Although it was raining, it wasn’t all that bad-certainly not bad enough to stop me.

At the ship repairers, Aztec Lady was still there, up on blocks. There was a ladder up to her deck but I couldn’t see any sign of any work being done.

The trawlers are still up there too receiving attention. I’m not sure what they are doing to the pink and white one that we saw being lifted out of the water.

fishing boats quay port de granville harbour manche normandy franceRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that back when they were dredging out the harbour, they had a digger in the tidal basin here at low tide.

It was digging out a deep channel at the outside of the fishing quay by the fish processing plant.

This was done presumably with the aim of making a cut there that would provide access to the quay for a greater part of the day

fishing boats quay port de granville harbour manche normandy france There’s a whole line of smaller boats that have been queueing up outside the harbour now on their way in to tie up and unload.

If you look at the surrounding tidal harbour, you can see that it’s a long way from being submerged right now.

It certainly seems that the little channel that they dug out is working, and in spades too, which is good news for the port and the town.

More time available to unload means that more fishing boats can use the facilities

Just by way of a change I’d been chatting to a couple of neighbours too – one as I left the building and the second as I arrived back. It’s all go here, isn’t it?

In the mail today I’ve had the bill for the taxe d’habitation – the Council Tax – for next year for my house in the Auvergne. Eat your hearts out, you UK dwellers. My council tax for next year is all of €24:00.

Ingrid phoned me up after I came back. And we had a lengthy chat for a good hour or so about all kinds of things. She’s not too well right now, so I told her that some nice, relaxing sea air would do her the world of good.

There was a pepper left over so tea tonight was a stuffed pepper. I need to rid myself of the perishable stuff before I go away on Sunday.

Then, back into the rain. There was just one other person out there this evening but Minette, the black cat, was there on her windowsill. She had a good stroke and even allowed me to pick her up for 30 seconds.

But for some reason or another, I’m feeling quite tired. No idea why – it’s not as if I had a bad night. But I do seem to think that I’ve not had my usual afternoon doze so that might account for it.

It’s a good enough reason to go to bed.

Wednesday 7th November 2018 – WHILE I WAS …

… cooking my evening meal, I was suddenly taken by surprise by an album that appeared on the playlist on the hi-fi.

Another one of the huge pile of underrated groups of the early 70s I saw the O Band supporting Man sometime in the early 70s in Liverpool and they stuck in my mind. And when I came across their album The Knife in a second-hand shop in Stoke on Trent it was added to my collection. And subsequently it became one of the first LPs to be upgraded to CD.

The second half of the album – several track which, combined together make one long rock opera – is totally phenomenal. It brought back a very bizarre memory of my playing it on a continuous loop along the I95 near Bangor, Maine, USA while I was looking for a motel for the night, coming back in Strider from seeing Rhys in South Carolina last year.

Yes, nostalgia ain’t what it used to be.

With having had a reasonably early night last night, leaving the bed at the appropriate hour wasn’t too difficult. And the howling gale from last night was still blowing too. All very wild outside.

After breakfast I did a few bits and pieces of tidying up and then attacked the second day of the High Arctic trip, when I was in Yellowknife.

And by the time that it came round to lunchtime, I’d finished the pages and was working on the meta tags. It might even be on line by the end of the day tomorrow if I have a good afternoon at it.

Lunchtime was taken indoors today. It might have been nice and sunny outside but with the wicked wind outside it would have been impossible to sit down in comfort.

This afternoon I was hunting for documents to go with this form that I need to send off tomorrow. That took a while and I’m still one or two missing.

storm english channel granville manche normandy franceThat took me up to walk-time and so I headed off into the wind, which by now had abated a little.

But that was merely a hint of things to come. Away in the distance out in the English Channel there was a major storm raging.

I hope that it isn’t heading my way because I don’t fancy the idea of being out in that when it arrives here.

college malraux gates damaged granville manche normandy franceMy walk carried on around the back of the College Malraux, but I didn’t get very far.

Lying on the floor by the entrance to the sports hall is the gate and the gateposts. And it looks as if someone with a great big jemmy has been there trying to open it.

Whoever it was who did that did it with an incredible amount of force and I wouldn’t like to meet him down a dark alley late at night.

storm port de granville harbour manche normandy franceEven though the wind had died down somewhat compared to yesterday, there was still a considerable amount blowing around.

As I rounded the Pointe du Roc I got the lot of it and I could see it all crashing down against the harbour wall.

You can see that the tide isn’t right in either, but there was still enough force in the wind and the waves to make a imressive scene.

secours boat tidal harbour port de granville manche normandy franceBut what’s going on here?

There ars the Pompiers and the SAMU out there, and they have brought their inflatable dinghy with them too.

It looks as if there’s something going on out there on that yacht. All of the medical people seem to be out there having a good look inside the yacht’s cabin.

yacht SAMU pompiers port de granville harbour manche normandy franceWhile I was being harassed by a dog that was not attached to a lead and while I was booting it up the rear end and telling its owner what I thought of him and his mutt, I took a photo of the scene with the zoom/telephoto lens.

Back here, I cropped out a section and blew it up (which I can do these days, despite modern anti-terrorist legislation) to see if I could see any better.

It seems that they are manhandling a piece of equipment – a generator or a pump or something similar – either into or out of the cabin. So I’m still none-the-wiser.

Back home, I sorted out some more things for the form that I’ve been completing and then had to write a covering letter to go with it.

Tomorrow morning, if I can make the printer work, I’ll print out the paperwork and take it with me to posy off on my way to the shops.

Tea was a burger with rice, vegetables and mushroom gravy. And delicious it was too. But I’m running out of frozen carrots so I must remember tomorrow to buy some more for freezing. This lot that I blanched and froze came out rather well.

storm waves cliffs granville manche normandy franceLater on, I braved the wind and went outside for my evening walk around the walls. And took a few photos of the waves in the dark.

The waves were making quite a noise as they crashed down on the cliffs at the foot of the medieval city walls. And much to my surprise, the 50mm lens actually managed to pick up the waves despite the poor lighting conditions.

I was very impressed with this. A similar photo with the 18-105mm lens didn’t pick up anything at all.

waves sea plat gousset granville manche normandy franceFurther on around the walls, I came to the cliffs overlooking the Plat Gousset.

The tide iswell on its way out now and we’re a little sheltered in the bay, but it was still an impressive sight to see the sea storming in onto the beach.

I suppose that I should have been round here an hour or two earlier for the best effect.

rue du roc place d'armes granville manche normandy franceWhile I had the 50mm lens on the camera, I decided that I would take advantage of it by taking a photograph of the old gateway that leads into the Place d’Armes.

This has come out rather well too, and you can see all the way down the rue du Roc to the bottom where the lighthouse is situated.

I do have to say that i’m very impressed with this new 50mm lens.

So after all of this, I’m really quite exhausted. An early night might do me the world of good.

storm port de granville harbour manche normandy france
Waves crashing down on Granville harbour sea wall in storm

storm port de granville harbour manche normandy france
Waves crashing down on Granville harbour sea wall in storm

storm port de granville harbour manche normandy france
Waves crashing down on Granville harbour sea wall in storm

SAMU pompiers yacht port de granville harbour manche normandy france
SAMU and pompiers examining yacht in Granville harbour

waves storm plat gousset granville manche normandy france
Waves in the storm at the Plat Gousset, Granville

waves storm plat gousset granville manche normandy france
Waves in the storm at the Plat Gousset, Granville

waves storm plat gousset granville manche normandy france
Waves in the storm at the Plat Gousset, Granville

Friday 14th September 2018 – WELL, WHAT A NIGHT!

*************** THE IMAGES ***************

There are over 3,000 of them and due to the deficiencies of the equipment they all need a greater or lesser amount of post-work. And so you won’t get to see them for a while.

You’ll need to wait til I return home and get into my studio and start to go through them. And it will be a long wait. But I’ll keep you informed after I return.
***************

I was off on my travels yet again, and on a couple of occasions too. Up in the High Arctic with a couple of my fellow-passengers. And I wish that I could recall what was going on in there because it was certainly exciting and also very important. I remember thinking that I need to be able to recall this when I awake

But fat chance of that!

Up on the deck there were a few icebergs floating around. Flat top and sheer sides, just as they had calved off from the glacier. The ones with more extravagant shapes have been at sea for quite a while and have had the time to erode, either by sun, rain or wave action.

And while I was admiring everything, I suddenly realised that I had yet to take my medication. So I went back down to do it.

Back up here, I was just in time to see the light as the sun came up behind the mainland of Greenland. Nothing special unfortunately – we can thank the low cloud for that.

My bad night had caught up with me yet again. We had two lectures this morning – one of the Power of Observation which was really nothing more than an egocentric (of which there are more than enough on this trip) photo exhibition, followed by a talk on tectonic plate theory and the Movement of Continents. And I fell off to sleep on a couple of occasions.

But by now we had entered the Tasiussaq Fjord. This is our destination for today. Our rather timid captain managed to find his way in up to a certain point, despite how narrow it was, and we all enjoyed the manoeuvring.

I went for my lunch and ended up chatting to three people whom I didn’t know. And they didn’t stick around very long either. I have this affect on people, don’t I?

They ran out of zodiacs to take us ashore. There was an extreme hiking party out and also a kayaking group. That latter sounded exciting but it’s been 50 years since I was last in a kayak and that was on a canal. Sea-kayaking at my time of life with my (lack of) recent experience is maybe not the way forward.

We had to wait until the first load came back and meantime, I fell asleep. And I could feel myself rising out of my body and floating upwards, and it’s been years since I’ve last had an out-of-body experience.

However we were soon off and into a really impressive fjord. It’s been a long time since I’ve ever seen anything so beautiful.

On shore, we had a little climb up to the raised beach, and then it was something of a hike across the isthmus to the other side of the headland.

Over there, there was a Thule village of sod houses – some from about 600 or 700 years ago, one reasonably modern-ish Inuit sod-house and a couple of indeterminate age in-between.

The archaeologist with our party delighted us all by recounting a lovely little story about how she went on an exploration of a village of sod huts, going from one to another to examine them, and walked into one to find that it was still occupied! And the occupant offered her a mug of tea.

There were several caches for keeping meat – one cache for each kind of meat apparently including moose, and we also discovered what might have been some kayak stands or may even have been umiak stands.

Inuit and Thule houses, and even Dorset houses depend upon flat land and a sea view. And this sea view here couldn’t be better. There was even a little beach at the foot of it, but not the kind of place where you would be in your bikini or your cozzy.

There was an alternative way back, around on the far side of the lake so Strawberry Moose and I came back that way.

I’d forgotten to say that he was with me, and indeed he had had some really good photo opportunities. At least he had a good time.

And so did I. I bet that it was the first time that Everyone Is Everybody Else has ever been played in Tasiussaq Fjord. And the timing was perfection itself.

We managed the trip back to the ship without encountering a storm today, and I came up to my room to have a shower and a clothes-washing session. And at the de-briefing, I fell asleep yet again.

It’s been a long day.

For the evening meal I was once more at the Naughty Table and we all disgraced ourselves thoroughly, much to the chagrin of a woman who had come along quite by accident. And here I am, not fit to be seen out without a keeper and even I can’t keep up with the rest of them.

We have a very early start tomorrow so the little music concert that we had with Sherman Downey didn’t last too long, and Strawberry Moose was unlucky in that he didn’t get a dance. Mind you, no-one else did. it was one of those evenings.

Back down to the cabin to put His Nibs away, only to find that for some reason or another I’d managed to lose my room key. I was also ambushed by our Entertainments Manager about my ETA for when we cross back over into Canada, whenever that might be. It’s lucky that Rhys printed out a copy for me last year. I was able to brandish that.

A few days ago, Ashley, one of the Inuit girls on board, told us all an Inuit legend about a woman who could change herself into a fox in order to taunt her lover. Of course, Liege And Lief, and in particular, Crazy Man Michael sprung immediately to mind so I invited her to listen to it. And she enjoyed it tremendously.

Now, I have work to do in order to catch up with stuff that’s dragging. And I’m in a rush because it needs to be done fairly quickly for, as I said just now, we have a very early start tomorrow.

I’ll have to get a wiggle on.

And in other news, I’ve now gone well over the 1,000 photos for this voyage. I did that the other day and forgot to mention it.

Thursday 30th August 2018 – I WISH …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’ll get my coat.

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

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

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

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

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

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

So here I am.

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

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

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

Ring any bells?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And delicious it was too.

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

Thursday 7th December 2017 – WE HAVE …

… a new visitor in the harbour today.

Thrashing her way into harbour today came Normandy Trader. She’s not a sister ship to Shetland Trader and Islay Trader but she is in fact a converted landing craft of the type that we have seen on several occasions in different places around the world.

She’s not by any means new to Granville – in fact she works a shuttle to here from Jersey on a regular basis just like Grima, and so I’m surprised that I’ve never seen here here before.

But here you can see her smashing her way through the storm into the harbour. It really is wicked outside and the spray is flying everywhere as the waves crash into the concrete sea walls.

The wind has turned round and is now blowing from the north-west, and that’s right into the harbour mouth. No wonder that Normandy Trader is making heavy weather of it. Landing craft aren’t designed for conditions like this, especially with a gross tonnage of just 73 tonnes. She was being tossed around like a cork out there.

Last night was a reasonable night for me. Although it took me a while to go off to sleep, I was well away. I somehow missed the first alarm, although I must have responded as the phone was in my hand when I awoke, not under the pillow where it usually is.

But anyway, the second alarm of Billy Cotton and his “Wakey waaaaaaa ….KEYYYYYY” took me completely by surprise.

After breakfast and a little rest, I had a shower and then braved the wind and rain up to LIDL.

Had I still been living on the farm, I would have bought quite a bit of stuff from their special offers this week. But with having changed my lifestyle considerably, there’s nothing that I really need.

But had I been Rhys, I would have been spending my money there. He’s trying to organise some interior lighting for his bus, and they had the rows of 12-volt LED striplights that I like so much. 212 lumens, which is the equivalent of about 18 watts of incandescent power, but drawing 0.1 watt. And you can link them together to give you a running strip light.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I bought a pile back down on the farm and use them as work lights over the work benches. And they are great.

I walked back here in the rain and was almost trampled to death in the rush of a pile of little kids descending from a school bus. And back here, I had a coffee and a … errr … relax.

After lunch I braved the wind and gales and went for a walk around the headland. And I was the only person out there. And that’s no surprise given the weather.

Tonight I went out for my other walk around the walls – and I’ve done 105% of my day’s target according to the fitbit.

The wind has changed further round now and so I stood for hours on the headland watching the waves down below crash over the sea wall and onto the promenade. It’s an amazing spectacle, the power of nature out there.

Rosemary rang up and we put the world to rights for an hour, and I booked my trip to Leuven for next week too. I’ll be staying at the flathotel at the back of the prison.

Tea was steaeed vegetables and vegan sausages in vegan cheese sauce – and delicious it was too.

So seeing that I have no plans for tomorrow, I’m going to have a nice quiet day of relaxing and organising myself for Leuven

Wednesday 4th October 2017 – SO HAVING …

… forgotten to take a photo of my comfortable motel this morning, we can move on quickly.

I was up and about quite early as usual and cracking on with some stuff that I needed to do. But not so “cracking on” as I might otherwise have been, because I’m starting to feel the aches and pains.

And a good go under the shower didn’t do much to revive me either. I think that the late night last night, and the whole total of the journey is starting to catch up with me now.

Breakfast was quite quiet (and I remembered at the second attempt to take in my soya milk) although the couple from Virginia did their best to liven things up.
“How far is it to Canada?” they asked.
“About three and a half hours” replied our Hero. I’m even beginning to think and talk like a North American now!

I tip the rest of the fuel in the petrol cans into Strider (the cans are empty now) and set off on the road. I head due north – I want to cut out Bangor (another bottleneck) before rejoining Interstate 95.

But my best-laid plans go all awry when I misread “Hartland” for “Howland”. Howland is on the I-95 north of Bangor but Hartland is south of it. So here I am, with the I-95 at my feet and still a long way to go. But never mind – in for a penny, in for a pound.

Surprisingly, there’s no traffic on the Interstate and even Bangor seems deserted. I’ve never known it like this before. I hardly notice the city as I drive my way around.

But I’m fighting off the fatigue. It’s all catching up on me now but only a couple of hours before I can stop.

Island Falls has a population of 837, and every one of them came out to see what I was doing while I was stopped to eat my butty on the car park at the side of the town hall. One of “those” places, isn’t it?

But I was soon on my way back to Houlton where I did some shopping – Rachel had sent me a list of things to buy for her.

At the Border Crossing I had that miserable girl again but at least she didn’t make my life difficult. And the printed-out Visa (thanks, Rhys) avoided the complications that we had on our initial entry to Canada almost 7 weeks ago.

Everyone was pleased to see that I had made it safely back (I must owe them money or something) but right now, I’m going to lie down for an hour or so before tea.

A little lie-down will do me the world of good. See you in an hour.