Tag Archives: roadworks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wherever did I find the time to go to sleep?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At the ticket office they proposed the following itinerary –

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


Only three hours later than usual.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s all I needed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday 7th February 2022 – REGULAR READERS …

… of this rubbish will recall what usually happens when I have something important or urgent to do, and so it goes without saying that today, with so much going on that I need to do I have been on the receiving end of a load of rubbish.

roadworks place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022Monday is of course the day when I work on my rock music programmes for the radio and I had three live concerts to remix, edit, and then to write and dictate the text that I intend to use, and then edit it.

So having left my stinking pit at 06:00 and written all of the notes, at 08:00 precisely they started working on the road underneath my window, using a pneumatic drill.

And that, dear reader, was that.

Mind you, I did have a dash through while they were going for their 2-hour lunch and after when they had finished, and I thought that I’d managed to produce something that was adequate for all three concerts – only to find that one of them has a hole in it.

The irony of that is that I recorded this concert myself on 22nd April 1977 (I wrote it on the tape) but the quality was not as good as I would have liked it to be so rather than spend ages editing it and ending up with something that would still be of somewhat dubious quality, I trawled across all kinds of sources to which I have access to see if I could find a better copy.

And sure enough, I eventually did but firstly, a lot of the audience interaction, some of which was quite important, was edited out and I had to edit it back in from my copy, and secondly, it has a hole in at at 45:20:00 that I didn’t notice when I played it through at first.

It’s not been my day, has it?

The day started off well enough. I was out of bed almost as soon as the alarm went off at 06:00 and after the medication and checking my mails and messages I made a start on writing the notes for the three radio concerts that I was hoping to do.

As I mentioned, the pneumatic drill interrupted my work quite considerably but I picked my way through the quiet gaps in the work as best as I could. I adjusted the one that I mentioned yesterday and that sounds quite nice.

But the second one is perfect, despite all of the work that I had to do on it and I’m really impressed with how it’s come out.

As for the third one, we’ll have to see about that when I’ve filled in the hole, and found something that will take up the time. I’ll probably have to lengthen some applause or something.

There were several interruptions, apart from the pneumatic drill. First of course was for lunch and second was the nurse, about whom I had forgotten, who came to give me my injection.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022And then of course there was the afternoon walk around the headland.

First call was, as usual, the walk across the car park to the wall at the end where I can look down upon the beach to see who’s around.

And there were plenty of people down there today. It’s school half-term right now so there are families coming here to their second homes and holiday lets to take in the sea air, and to bring their viruses with them.

The figures have calmed down this last couple of days from the ridiculous levels of the last few weeks, so just watch them soar upwards again now that everyone is on the move.

trawlers baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022Plenty of other stuff on the move as well this afternoon.

As usual I had a good look round out at sea while I was watching the beach. My eyes fell upon a couple of fishing boats way out in the bay.

Judging by the direction in which they were pointing, they must have been working. They were neither heading back to port or out to sea in the direction of the Channel Islands

Fishing boats with their nets out are obliged to shine a couple of white lights, but I’m not likely to see them at this distance.

f-gcum, robin dr 400/180 regent, baie de granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022That wasn’t all that was going on out in the bay this afternoon either.

Not actually in it, as it happens, but over it. We had a light aeroplane flying by way out in the distance.

Of course, from here I have no chance of seeing who she might be but she’s red and white and that seems to suggest that she’s F-GCUM, a Robin Dr 400-180 Regent.

My photo is timed at 15:49 and while no-one took off from the airfield round about then, F-GCUM took off at 15:07, flew up to Utah Beach and then back down in a figure-of-eight to Avranches and then back again where she landed at 16:16.

She must have been on the second part of her flight when I photographed her.

brittany coast in sea mist Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022Although the view out to sea was reasonably clear, it wasn’t like that everywhere else.

The way things were, I was hoping that I might possibly be able to see all the way down to Cap Fréhel this afternoon but it wasn’t to be, unfortunately.

There was quite a heavy sea-mist hanging around just offshore and obscuring the coast. It was extremely difficult to make out anything further than the Baie de St Malo and anything coming out of the harbour over there would be immediately lost in the mist.

It wasn’t the day for any kind of long-distance photography in that direction.

sunset baie de mont st michel brittany coast Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022However, around the corner in the Baie de Mont St Michel, things were quite dramatically different.

Not a trace of mist just over there and so we have another one of these magnificent sunsets. The Brittany coast, the town of Cancale and the sea just offshore are illuminated by the sun just as if they have been floodlit on a stage.

But we need to make the most of this because the sun is now quite high in the sky and I don’t imagine that we’ll be seeing many more of these beautiful late afternoons now until late autumn. I shall have to find something else to extol.

people watching sunset pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022And just for a change, I wasn’t the only one out there enjoying it.

Several people had made their way down to the bench by the cabanon vauban at the end of the headland and they were admiring the sunset, complete with improvised visors.

Nothing much seems to have happened in the bunker behind me over the weekend. Everything was as I remember it being when I last looked.

And so I carried on down the path towards the port to see what was happening there since Saturday morning.

le roc a la mauve 3 chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022As far as inhabitants of the chantier naval go, there hasn’t been any change. Tiberiade is still in there, and so it Le Roc A La Mauve III.

However, there’s been a considerable change to Le Roc A La Mauve III. It doesn’t look as if she’s going to be mauve any more, because they are down there busily sanding off all of the paint from the hull of the boat.

She’s going to have a new coat of paint, by the looks of things. I shall have to make a note of her new colour when she’s done so that I can identify her at a distance when she’s out at sea.

When I find the time, whenever that might be, I’ll make up a list of boats that operate out of here and append some photos to help me identify them.

l'omerta port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022No difficuly in identifying this boat though.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we will probably be able to identify her simply by where she’s moored. She’s L’Omerta of course, and we’ve seen plenty of photos of her moored up at the quayside underneath the Fish Processing Plant.

It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve seen her moored here but like a homing pigeon she’s found her way back again to her nest, sitting on the silt now that the tide is out.

She’s on her own down there today. Everyone else is either in the inner harbour or out working at sea.

harbour port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022What is interesting about what’s happening in the harbour is the case of what isn’t here today.

What have gone from the harbour today are the two Channel Island ferries, Granville and Victor Hugo. Gone! And never called me “mother”!

They are probably on their way to Cherbourg or somewhere like that. As I mentioned a few days ago, there are rumours going around that the sailings to Jersey are to restart at the end of April.

Having been standing idle for so long, it’s likely that they have gone for an overhaul and a service ready to restart work. And I’ll have to make a few enquiries myself because as I have mentioned before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … I’m determined to get out there somehow and see what’s going on.

light aeroplane 50SA pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022While I was brroding on the infinite, I was overflown by another light aeroplane.

And “overflown” was probably the correct word because she really was right overhead. We can clearly see that she’s 50SA, one of the light aeroplanes that fly out of the airfield.

As I have said before … “and on many occasiosn too” – ed … I’ll have to go out there to the airfield at some point to make enquiries about these aeroplanes that I can’t identify. The registration numbers that they carry aren’t in the series contained in the database to which I have access.

lorry negotiating porte st jean Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022Another thing that regular readers of this rubbish will recall is the difficulty of large vehicles faced with the medieval city walls.

On the way back I noticed that not all of the large vehicles trans-ship whatever it is that they carry. Some of them press on regardless.

And this one certainly did – with a clearance of no more than an inch or two either side the driver bravely nosed his vehicle out of the walled city as I watched.

It would have been much more interesting to have actually watched him fight his way in, but I wasn’t here at the time.

Back here I had a coffee and carried on with my work until I had to stop for tea.

Eventually I managed to find the time to transcribe the dictaphone notes. I was with 2 girls at school last night. They were a few years younger than me but they weren’t particular friends of mine and this was a good few years later at a kind-of party. I’d gone to wash my hands and it was dark so I was having an explore and a look around. I was in some of the classrooms wondering why there was no-one else in here. Suddenly these 2 girls walked in. I shouted “booh!” and they jumped. They put the lights on but it took a while for them to come on then I could see who they were. I said “God it’s only you. I thought that it was someone else” and mentioned the name of a girl in their year who I actually happened to quite like. They said “yes, we noticed that you liked her”. I replied, “yes, she and her friends are really quite nice”. By this time a whole crowd of people had come in. They were all sitting down making coffee and everything. I asked “could someone lend me some coffee?”. These girls said “so and so (her friend) and I have some coffee. You can share ours” and gave me a drink of coffee. They gave me some chocolate cake too, that they put on the saucer of the cup, but it was hot from the coffee so the cake stuck to the saucer. We were talking about something or other and I thought that that reminded me of a man, a distraction for about 30 seconds. Then one of the girls turned to me and asked “who did that remmind you of?”. I replied “do you know, it’s gone clean out of my mind”. We were talking about all kinds of things. The question of coffee came up and she said “my husband never makes me a coffee”. I replied “he ought to” and I told the story of my friend in the USA who even though he didn’t like coffee would quite happily make one for his wife”. She said “yes, come on” in a dismissive tone. We were having quite an interesting chat that I wouldn’t have had with these 2 girls in real life. It was really quite interesting and it was a shame when it petered out

There was also some kind of ceremony going on at a war memorial and we were there. There was talk that they had given some of France’s post-war allocation to people like the Basques and the Greeks to ensure some kind of post-war stability. We then walked back out with Liz and as we were passing a shop she asked if I fancied a coffee. I replied “no, we’re nearly back so I’ll have one when we arrive back home”. She went in anyway and I noticed that she was buying an alcoholic drink. I didn’t say anything, I just watched as the shopkeeper collected all the ingredients to mix it.

Tonight was to empty the fridge of everything loitering in there, especially the stuffing left over from Saturday’s pepper. So I made a really nice curry of all kinds of bits and pieces, and forgot to put the stuffing in it.

Definitely not my day, is it?

Welsh lesson tomorrow so I need to be at my best, not that that is ever likely to happen. Piles of radio stuff and only one day to do it all before I leave.

The fact that I just can’t get myself up to date is another one of these mysteries that I don’t understand.

Wednesday 8th September 2021 – I HAVE HAD …

… a nightmare this afternoon after I came home from the physiotherapist – a real nightmare

new fishing boat port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021But more about that anon. Let’s first say “hello” to the New Kid On The Block.

If that boat had been in and around the harbour previously, I would have been sure to have noticed it with its pretty distinctive, if not garish colour scheme.

She seems to be fitted out as an inshore fishing boat, the kind that fishes for shellfish, and she’s local to some extent in that her registration number begins with “CH” indicating that she’s registered in Cherbourg, so she obviously belongs somewhere up the coast here.

She’s not easy to miss so I’ll have to keep my eye open to see if she hangs around for a bit.

Anyway, this morning I didn’t hang around at all. As soon as the alarm went off I fell out of bed and went to take my medication.

Once that was out of the way I finished off the computer that I’d been repairing. While I was writing up my notes last night I was thinking of a way round accessing the files on the old hard drive that was locked in “administrator only” mode and because it was in a caddy, there was no way of entering the admin password.

Well there is, actually, if you think about it and it’s not for nothing that I have 32GB of RAM these days in the big desktop machine. Mind you, I was there until almost 01:00 doing it this morning fighting my way in but by the time that I’d finished everything was now on an external drive.

So this morning it was a case of loading it back up and performing a compare with the directory names. These days Windows writes its own and is no respecter of case so I had to make sure that the names on the external drive corresponded with the names that Windows created, otherwise that would have caused more problems.

Once that was all finally done, I could turn my attention to last night’s voyages. One of our number was due home at about 19:00 from her work in Stockport so about 18:30 mother started to fill the oven and warm it up ready to start cooking and baking the bread. The oven was on and everything was in there but she didn’t show up. We wondered where she’d got to – she’d left no messages or rung any of us to say that she was going to be late. We were puzzled as to where she was. It was getting close to Christmas and we had all of out Christmas shopping to do, all that kind of thing and we couldn’t really afford to be wasting several hours here and there while someone goes off gallivanting and we have work to do. One of the people in this house was a little girl probably about 8 or 9 or something. There was a game on the market, like a multilingual game about being in charge of a fire engine. Part of the publicity was about a house that was burning down. I’d already seen this game once in English but the publicity that we saw just now was being displayed in Welsh. Then she said that she was going to be visiting Aberhonddu and I was impressed that I said that in my sleep rather than the English “Brecon”. I thought that it was strange that I’d heard nothing about that so I asked how she was going. She said that they were going by aeroplane which I thought was a really weird way for a school trip to be setting off like that with schools so strapped for cash.

Another large pile of arrears disappeared too and now there are only 5 of them.

The rest of the morning was spent looking through my collection of photos from 2006-07-08 for 9 or 10 significant ones that currently have a very important meaning. I eventually found them too, after a great deal of difficulty too

After lunch I had a quick shower and then headed out for my physiotherapy.

delivery van transshipping porte st jean Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021Just out at the back here we have yet another delivery that can’t make it through the Porte St Jean into the old walled town.

It’s not for me to say anything … “not that that’s ever stopped you in the past” – ed … but this is a local delivery from a local company, and so I thought that they might be aware of the difficulties of delivering to the old town.

They don’t really need a vehicle of that size to deliver their domestic appliances ao surely a smaller one that can pass underneath the walls would have been a better bet.

peche a pied port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021Out in the Baie de Mont St Michel the tide is well out this afternoon, so we have some people out there at the pêche à pied.

Not that the pêche à pied is anything that interests me over-much but were it to do so, I wouldn’t be doing it just there right at the entrance to the harbour where the boats pass by directly overhead.

What is interesting about this photo is that back in the early part of the year we saw the big earth-moving machines down there digging out the sandbank that forms to the right in the harbour mouth. It didn’t take too long for it to come back again, did it?

thora unloading port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021While I was walking on down the Rue des Juifs I could see a familiar antenna sticking up and visible from above the walls, so I went to the viewpoint overlooking the port for a good look.

Sure enough, our old friend Thora is back in town this afternoon. And a very clean and spruced-up Thora too. When she first came into port a few years ago she was looking beautiful but the weather and the sea had taken a dreadful toll of her.

But now at least on the superstructure above the waterline, she’s looking really tidy with a fresh coat of paint. I wonder if they’ll take her out of the water at some point and paint below the waterline.

unloading vehicles from thora port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021By the time that I arrived at the viewpoint, it looked as if I’d missed the exciting bit.

The big crane was just lifting its jib up and away from the lorry down there, so it looks as if Thora has brought into port that motorhome and trailer that are on the back of the lorry.

It’s quite possible that this has been the repatriation of a broken-down motorhome and the freight and transport charges via St Malo have made them think about another way of bringing it home to France from the Channel Islands.

roadworks diversion rue couraye Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021From the port I headed off up the Rue Couraye toward the physiotherapist.

Near the top I stumbled across another diversion in the street. Roadworks in the Rue du Boscq by the looks of things so I shall go that way and check them out on my way home.

At the physiotherapist’s I was put through my paces with a different collection of exercises today. He’s certainly making me work in there and I hope that it’s going to be doing me some good. I need to be much better than this if I want to do any good in the future.

roadworks uprooting railway line rue du boscq Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021On the way back, I went down to the Rue du Boscq to see what was happening.

To the immediate left where these concrete pipes have been dropped, that was where the old railway line down to the port used to run. They’ve ripped that out as far as down here now by the looks of things.

Then there’s the street itself. The surface has been ripped out and is probably going to be resurfaced in the near future, with new drains (hence the concrete pipes).

Somewhere underneath all of this is a little river that flows down to the port. Wouldn’t it be nice if they were to remove the culverting and open it up. But there’s little chance of that.

uprooting railway line boulevard louis dior Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021That photo was taken to the left at the bottom of the hill. This is the photo taken looking to the right.

You can see the railway lines embedded in the road but further on, they’ve been ripped up. This was the part of the line that we saw them dismantling from the other end when we were off on our way to leuven one morning.

It’s really a shame to see the railway pulled out like this. It really marks the end of an era, signifying that the port is no longer important enough to warrant a railway connection. All of the seafood goes by road now, and we’ve seen the refrigerated lorries at the Fish Processing Plant.

It’s not really encouraging when you consider the drive for carbon neutrality.

On the way back to home I dropped into an estate agent’s. There’s a project to convert an old bank building into apartments and the sign has been on there for as long as I’ve been living here. I went to ask what was the latest state of play and, basically, we’re no further on that we were 4.5 years ago at all.

bouchot beds donville les bains people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021The climb back up the hill was a little easier so while I was here I went to look at the beach to see what was happening.

There had been a terrific thunderstorm and rainstorm this morning that had soaked everything in sight so even though the storm had long gone, I was surprised to see so many people on the beach as there were.

With the tide being way out right now, the bouchot beds out at Donville are well out of the water. And they stretch for miles too. You can see the tractors and trailers out there harvesting the crop while they are clear of the water.

Back here my problems really began when I returned. I had my banana smoothie and came in here to drink it. Instead I fell asleep for another 90-minute marathon and I could have well-done without this afternoon.

And then disaster struck. All of the cheap seats on the train to Leuven and back have gone – in fact my favourite train, the 7:17 back, is fully booked up and there’s no seat at all. There’s no room at my favourite bolt-hole either so I’ve had to shack up at an Ibis Budget.

That’s not the worst of it either. My credit card isn’t recognised by my card reader – it will only recognise the previous card. But that is blocked of course because the more recent one has replaced it. And then my Belgian Visa Debit card won’t work for some reason either.

In the end I had to pay with my French Mastercard and I’m not at all happy about that. All in all, I’ve had a disaster today as far as all of that goes.

Tea was pasta and a vegan burger and still no dessert (I’ve lost 100 grammes since Monday) so I’ve come back in here to write up my notes and then have an early night. My appointment at the doctor’s is … gulp … 08:30 and I’m not looking forward at all to that. Not at all.

Thursday 17th June 2021 – THEY DIDN’T KEEP …

… me in the hospital. They soon kicked me out of the hospital yesterday and I’m back in my comfy little digs now where I started out this morning.

When the alarm went off this morning I awoke in a really damp sweat again. I staggered out of bed at 06:00 and the first thng that I did after that was to listen to the dictaphone. there were a couple of files on there – one from two nights ago that I had yet to transcribe, and the one for last night.

This was something like I’d joined the Army and I had a whole list of things that I wanted to do. One of the things was to go for a whole series of medical examinations but the map was so confusing and the details so confusing that I wasn’t sure when or where to go. In the end I set off to try to find the place. It was a staggering set of old buildings, old ruined medieval towers propped up with wood, old burnt-out houses, two cars that had collided outside a house all entangled in a big heap of metal. Just totally strange. Luckily I met one of the professors whom I knew and I asked her where I was supposed to go. She pointed me to the place, just opposite the shop. She showed me a side street as well and said “down there is the French educational building” or French school or whatever. So I set off for my medical.

So having dealt with that, I made a start on writing up the blog but the next thing that I remember was at it was 08:00. I’d crashed out for about an hour or so sitting on my sofa. But once I pulled myself round, made myself a coffee and carried on with the notes.

Once they were published I made some toast for breakfast and then chose the music for the next radio programme.

A shower and a clothes-washing session was next, followed by making my sandwiches ready for the hospital, and then I hit the streets.

people at tables in street tienestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallAnd it was nice to see so many people taking advantage of the easing of the Corona Virus situations.

In the beautiful sunny weather and at lunchtime too there were crowds of people sitting at tables at the various restaurants in the town, like here in the Tienesestraat. And beautiful weather it was too. Summer has arrived at long last and the restrictions have been eased in time for people to enjoy it.

But I can’t help the feeling in the back of my mind that all of this is happening far too soon. We’ve already seen that the ease in restrictions in the UK has led to a rise in cases from less than 2,000 per day to the figure today of 11,007.

But as REACT – the body that surveys the spread of the virus in the UK – has said, the UK’s policy of just a single vaccination has been a failure. At least, in Europe, they’ve concentrated on double vaccinations.

road works amerikalaan, Franz Tielemanslaan brusselsestraat Leuven belgium Eric HallCarrying on down the hill through the town centre and out the other side, I came to the road junction of the Brusselsestraat, the Amerikalaan and the Franz Tielemanslaan

When we were here last month we had seen them working on the pavement there doing some remodelling. They seem to have advanced quite nicely with that and I do have to say that while I’m not too keen on the brickwork for the cycle path, it’s a vast improvement on the slabs of asphalt that they used in the Monseigneur Van Waeyenbeghlaan.

They seem to have moved on now and are doing some kind of work on the little square that is build over the River Dijle at the back. It’s going to be interesting to see what they are going to do there and how it’s going to look when it’s all finished.

velodrome brusselsestrat Leuven belgium Eric HallWhile we’re on the subject of how things are going to look in the future, I went along the Brusselsestraat to see how things were developing at the site of St Pieter’s hospital that they have spent the last year or so demolishing.

Part of the site has been cleared and they were erecting a huge wooden structure in the place of part of it.

There was a guy standing underneath a parasol nearby who came over to chat with me.He told me that they were building a velodrome on the site. Apparently it’s going to take 6 years for the whole of the site to be cleared and redeveloped, so as a temporary measure, they are erecting this velodrome.

The velodrome is expected to be there for three years before they will be starting to redevelop this part of the site.

clearing site of sint pieter's hospital brusselsestraat Leuven Eric HallAs for the rest of the site, they are clearing the site fairly rapidly as you can see.

They seem to have ground up the rubble into a fine powder and now they are loading it up onto a series of lorries which will presumably take it off to another site to use as infill or as part of a mix for some new concrete somewhere.

But it’s going to be a long time, I reckon, before they uncover the river that runs underneath the site. That’s certainly the plan, but we shall have to see how things develop.

Right now though, I’m continuing down the street on my way towards the hospital There is still plenty to see.

bicycle racks kruisstraat leuven Belgium Eric HallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that last time that we were here we saw them erecting some bicycle racks in the Kruisstraat. I mentioned at the time that I couldn’t see why they were erecting them there as there weren’t the clients there to use them.

Now that they have been here for four weeks we can see how things are developing here. And it looks as if my assumptions were correct because there can’t be more than half a dozen bikes and scooters there. Not like the bike racks elsewhere that are bursting to overflow.

At the hospital they gave me a Covid test, which was negative, of course. Then they took a blood sample and coupled me up to the stuff that they pump into me. And I had an interesting trilingual chat with the nurse who was dealing with me.

The doctor who came to see me told me that my blood count had increased to 8.9 and so I can go home. There’s no reason for the increase that I can see, and it certainly doesn’t seem like it. All that I can say is that Liz Messenger’s cake contains many secret ingredients and has magic properties.

But the doctor didn’t really have too many answers for the other points that I raised – the night sweats, the increase in weight and all of that. But next time that I come, I have four appointments at different units of the hospital, and we shall see how things develop at that point.

vegetarian menu frittoerist sint jacobsplein leuven belgium Eric HallOn the way home I walked down the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan towards the Sint jacobsplein when the menu at the Frittoerist, the Fritkot in the Sint Jacobsplein.

It shows you how much things have evolved these days when even a fritkot can offer a vegetarian menu to the public. Mind you, this is Leuven, a town full of students where I’m sure that they outnumber the locals, as anyone who remembers my desperate search for accommodation here 5 years ago will recall.

At least the fritkot is open and accessible. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that the street here in front of the fritkot and the square behind it were dug up for well over a year and access to the place was rather difficult. Clambering over a pile of bricks and mud was not the easiest way to go about buying a cornet de fritjes.

building site kapucijnenvoer leuven belgium Eric HallDown at the end of the street is the street known as the Kapucijnenvoer where there is more building work being undertaken.

They are progressing with the development of this site, pourig ton after ton of concrete into the place. The base is now concreted over and they are building some kind of rooms down there. These might be private cellars for the residents or they might be machinery rooms for lifts, air conditioning, power plants and the like.

The rest of the subterranean labyrinth is quite possibly going to be used as a car park, but there is no ramp installed there right now.

And you can see the red-capped metal strengthening bars. It looks as if they are going to be building concrete pillars to support the building that’s going to be erected here. And by the diameter of the pillars, it’s going to be some substantial building.

building site kapucijnenvoer zongang leuven belgium Eric HallThere’s another building site in the Kapucijnenvoer on which we are keeping an eye. It’s the one in between the Kapicijnenvoer and the Zongang.

They seem to be making some rather rapid progress on this particular site and that makes quite a change here in Belgium. It’s going to be some kind of block of flats by the looks of things, but on a restrictive site like that, the apartments are going to be rather restricted in size. It’s another one of these “we shall have to see” situations.

All that I can say is that it’s a shame that the nice building behind it that was revealed by the demolition of whatever was on this site previously is going to be obscured by the building that they are erecting. And I can bet my bottom dollar that whatever they are going to erect here won’t be anything half as attractive as the building behind it.

digger being taken away from building site sint pieters hospital brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric HallBack now in the Brusselsestraat on the way into the city centre I went past the site of the demolition of St Pieters hospital.

And to my surprise there’s a big lorry here that seems to be taking away one of the big machines that has been working on the site for the past ever so many months.

What is so surprising about this is that even though the building has been brought down, they are still a long way from clearing the site. And with them in the near future having to lift the culvert off the river here, they are going to need all of the heavy equipment that they can get.

Maybe they are taking it off to work elsewhere and they’ll be bringing it back in due course when it’s needed back here.

crowds of people watching football zeelstraat leuven belgium Eric HallOne of the things that I have to do today is to go along to the bank and withdraw some money as I’m rather short of ready cash.

Going into the town wentre the crowds of people were all sitting on seats in the public areas watching the football, just like here in the Zeelstraat. Belgium are playing Denmark in the European Championships and it seems to be the thing here that rather than sit lone in the comfort and privacy of your own home, you go out and sit in the square with the crowds.

Having arranged some cash I set off to meet Alison and while I was on my way through one of the back squares stumbled across a new ice cream parlour. They had two varieties of vegan ice-cream – chocolate and moka – so despite the dreadful service in the place I eventually walked away with my prize.

Alison and I went for a meal at the Greenway Vegan Restaurant. I had a red pepper burger and Alison had a Thai wrap. And then we went off for a coffee and a chat.

Aliso had to leave early so I came back home – totally hot and sweaty, drained of blood and having walked 124% of my daily activity. No wonder I was exhausted. And so I hauled myself off to bed thinking that I will write up my notes tomorrow.

Wednesday 16th June 2021 – NOW HOW ABOUT …

hellmans vegan garlic mayonnaise leuven belgium Eric Hall… this to go on my lunchtime butties?

This is something quite new in the shops. I’ve never seen it before. And I shan’t have to worry about visits from vampires during the night because I tried some of it with my pasta and vegetables and believe me – it took the varnish off the door when I breathed out. This was definitely a good buy and no mistake. It’s the kind of thing that will put hair on places I don’t even have places.

But be that as it may, let us return to our moutons as they say around here.

That is, around France, because Im not in France right now. I’m actually in Leuven because it’s time to visit Castle Anthrax again.

At 06:00 when the alarm went off, I leapt out of bed – sort of, something like – and the first task of the morning after the medication was to peel, dice and then blanch a kilo of carrots that I’d bought on Monday. And then I put them to drain in the sink.

Secind thing was to make a coffee and then make some sandwiches etc for my lunch. Packing my stuff and then giving the kitchen a good clean and disinfecting and, of course, taking out the rubbish before it walked out on its own.

At 08:05 when I went out this morning it was already scorching hot. Heaven alone knows what it’s going to be like at 15:00. But heaving my pack up onto my back I set off down the hill in the Rue des Juifs.

street repairs rue des moulins Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallDown in the town there was already some excitement going on in the Rue des Moulins.

They had a concrete cutter and a digger down there, sticking a pile of earth in the back of the lorry down there, and the workmen are busy admiring the hole that they have dug. For a moment I was wondering if I should go over and fall in with them but instead I pushed on.

At the railway station, my train wasn’t in yet so I had a nice relaxing sit on a bench on the platform while I waited for the train to come in.

GEC Alstom Regiolis 84581 gare de Granville railway station Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere wasn’t all that long to wait. The train pulled in round about 08:45. Just one six-car unit instead of two six-car units coupled together.

Climbing aboard, I went off to find my seat. For some reason or other that I don’t understand, they had me sharing a 4-seat combination with a couple of other people. No chance of my supporting that idea so I grabbed an empty seat where I could sit all on my own.

Having had a very late night last night, I wasn’t up to doing all that much but I did managed to copy onto the laptop all of the files that I’d backed up onto my memory stick. And the music ones took some sorting out. I’ll have to research the albums that I cropped the other day and work out which song goes where.

Our train was delayed at Argentan and so we arrived 10 minutes late at Paris Montparnasse. But there was no delay on the Metro and I arrived at Gare du Nord with plenty of time to spare.

TGV INOUI 206 TGV Reseau Duplex gare du nord paris France Eric HallJust as I arrived at the station concourse the train from Lille Flandres was just pulling in.

It’s one of the TGV Inoui Reseaux Duplex trains that we travel on regularly – one of the double deckers, but we aren’t allowed to board it yet. There is going to be a delay because these days they give the train a deep clean before we’re allowed on.

As soon as the cleaners had finished they announced the train, and there was a mad scramble of passengers towards the gate. And there as a slight delay from my part because it took me a minute or two to work out how the rail ticket on my phone works.

TGV INOUI 206 211 TGV Reseau Duplex gare du nord paris France Eric HallThe train is actually two eight-car units coupled together and so it goes without saying that I was in the second half down at the far end of the platform.

And you’ve no idea of the confusion that I caused trying to find my seat, because it didn’t exist. Even the ticket collector couldn’t find it.

On close examination however, we discovered that I’d gone into the wrong carriage. I’d gone in through the correct door but at the top of the stairs I turned right instead of left and hadn’t noticed that I’d walked over the bellows into the next carriage.

But once I was sorted out, I had a good sleep all the way to Lille Flandres.

We had a curious incident after we left the station. Some woman was asking some passers-by “which is the way to Lille-Europe?”. I told her “follow me, I’m going that way” and she did – for the first 100 yards and then she shot off ahead.

She must have known the way after all for she was standing outside the station smoking a cigarette when I caught up with her.

The train wasn’t in yet so I was able to sit down and eat my sandwiches in comfort

TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt 4523 PBA gare du midi brussels belgium Eric HallWhen the train pulled into the platform we all swarmed down the steps.

It’s one of the tri-volt TGV Réseau 38000 train sets, known colloquially as the PBA, or “Paris Brussels Amsterdam” sets. This time there was no problem finding my seat and I spent most of the journey reading an e-book while my neighbour spent most of the journey speaking to someone on the telephone.

At some point I must have dozed off because the rattling over the points as we came into Brussels awoke me. And so I packed my things.

Having gone through all of the procedure about Covid tests, Passenger Location Forms and the like, there was no control at all at the railway station and I felt quite disappointed.

There was a train to Leuven and Liège on its way into the station so I ran off to platform 15.

am80 automotrice 390 gare du midi brussels belgium Eric HallThe train was another one of these disreputable Am 80 automotrices or multiple units.

Old, tired, dirty and graffiti-ridden, they should have been put out to grass a long time ago from that point of view. But they are quick and reliable, and perform a lot of long-distance work like Brussels to Luxembourg and the one on which I’m riding – the Belgian Coast to Liège.

If these trains were cleaned, the graffiti was removed and they were given modern interiors with a modern seating configuration, they could keep going for another 40 years.

When the ticket collector came down, I couldn’t find my ticket on the SNCB app on my phone. Luckily the ticket collector could. We learn something new every day.

martelarenplein leuven belgium Eric HallThe heat at Leuven was searing and I burnt myself on the metal handrail on the steps down from the passenger walkway

But from up there, there was a good view down onto the Martelarenplein. I’ve taken a few photos of that just recently but usually from ground level. This is the first opportunity that I’ve had of taking an aerial view and so I wasn’t going to miss it.

The heat was really oppressive as I struggled around the ring road to the Dekenstraat. I had to stop a few times to catch my breath. At one point I was overtaken by some weird kind of solar bicycle but he cleared off quickly before I could photograph it.

At the Dekenstraat I found my room – another one of the upmarket duplexes. They are very good to me here, giving me a free upgrade whenever there’s one vacant.

Having sorted myself out I sat down to do some work. There was something on the dictaphone from the night but the only thing that I remember about it was being on a bus coming out of Hanley down the Etruria Road. Suddenly it had to manoeuvre into the outside lane, round in front of a couple of cars then off to the left down a slip road onto the “D road”. The slip road had all kinds of houses alongside it and it was cold and foggy and it hav been snowing heavily. I asked the driver what was happening. He said that the police had told him to go that way so that he didn’t have any other choice. I asked him “what about the people who live in Longport and places like that?” He replied “that’s rather a shame but the police have told me to do this and this is what I have to do”. Then I awoke in a really cold sweat again. There was much more to it in this dream and I think that my ex-friend from Stoke on Trent appeared in it somewhere

Having finished that I had more things to do but instead I crashed out on the sofa. I awoke with a start at 18:45 and there was shopping to do so I had to nip out smartish because they close at 20:00.

road works naamsestraat naamsevest leuven belgium Eric HallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that we’ve been watching the roadworks down at the junction of the Naamsestraat and the Naamsevest.

They are now at the stage of resurfacing the road so I reckon that in another three or four years they might actually have it finished. We all know how quickly they work here in Belgium.

Normally I would be going to the Carrefour but I didn’t have the strength tonight so I ended up at Delhaize. And I was only just in time too because as I was queueing up to pay, they switched off the lights in the shop.

In order to get back up the hill and return to my digs I had to have an energy drink. But I made it back and made myself tea – falafel burger with pasta and veg – with the latter all mixed up with that garlic dressing. Pudding was pineapple slices with sorbet.

There was the intention to write the journal entry for today but instead I fell asleep again. When I finally awoke I just went to bed to sleep it off. I can write up my journal tomorrow.

Wednesday 2nd June 2021 – I’VE HAD ANOTHER …

… bad day today and I don’t seem to be able to do anything about it.

As I mentioned last night, I was going to have a good lie-in this morning. However 07:15 is not what I call a good lie in at all. And leaving my bed at 07:30 because I couldn’t go back to sleep was extremely disappointing.

These days it takes me ages to sort out the medication. There’s just so much of it right now. I mentioned earlier that if I move too fast I’ll rattle. But moving fast is not something about which I’ll have to worry these days.

Anyway, once the medication was done, I came in here and started work. I dictated all three sets of notes. Not very well – a couple of them were a right mess. But by the time that it was lunchtime I’d edited one of them, chopped it about and assembled it all together. I’d even worked out the length of the final track and selected one that would do the job.

There’s no bread in the house so I had a couple of wraps with my salad in. They were nice. But while I’m on the subject of bread, I think that the sourdough has died while I was away. The flour and water is separating out. No chance of making a sourdough fruit loaf right now. But tomorrow I might make a loaf and make some fruit bread with yeast.

After lunch I came back in here to carry on with the other 2 radio programmes but, as you might expect, I crashed out completely. I was well away with the fairies too and didn’t come back round again until about 15:45. As a result I was quite late in going out for my afternoon walk.

trawler baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOutside I went to have a look out to sea to see what was going on. And I wasn’t disappointed, as there was a trawler coming home.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that fishing has been a very topical point of discussion this last few months with the problems that have arisen with the British Government unilaterally revoking the Treat of the Bay of Granville of 1843.

But some kind of agreement has been reached because the local boats are still going out there. Here is one on its way back from the fishing grounds out there. It’s too far out for me to see if it has the usual crowd of seagulls hovering around it. That is usually a sign that there has been a good catch.

beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOne thig that I usually do when I go out is to look down onto the beach at the Rue du Nord to see what’s happening down there.

And I had a really good look down there but I couldn’t see a soul this afternoon. And that’s not a surprise because the weather today has changed dramatically. The wind that has been conspicuous by its absence since I came back from Leuven has now come back as well, the sky was overcast and cloudy, and the temperature has dropped about 6 degrees from yesterday.

In the circumstances it’s hardly a surprise that there was no-one about this afternoon down on the beach. I wouldn’t really want to be down there in this weather either.

gate in medieval city walls Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThis is a view that I can’t remember featuring in any previous posting, so I’m including it in here.

You probably noticed that we had a different viewpoint of the beach today. That’s because, as I mentioned yesterday, I’m going the other way today – around the path underneath the city walls. In the Rue du Nord there’s an old gateway that leads to the footpath down there and this is where I used to go a-running.

It was probably an old sally-port where the defenders can make a counter-attack against anyone besieging the walls. There’s no actual gate there now though.

You can see what would happen to any attackers trying to batter down the door. Because the door is at right-angles to the walls, anyone trying to batter down the door would be right underneath the wall where the defenders could drop objects and boiling oil and that kind of thing on them.

diving platform tidal swimming pool beach cabins plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallA little further along is the viewpoint overlooking the Plat Gousset where we can look down on the beach and see how the preparations for the summer season are advancing

In the foreground, we can see that the crown has been put back on top of the pillar to make the diving platform where the kids can jump off or dive off. In the middle distance, the tidal swimming pool is looking really good too. They cleared that out last year, and earlier this year they carried out some more work on it.

In the background on the promenade of the Plat Gousset are the changing cabins. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we saw them arriving on the back of a Council lorry the other day while we were on our way to the railway station.

people on beach plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallA little further on is a better viewpoint overlooking the Plat Gousset where we can have a better view down there.

There were a few people down there on the beach, huddled up against the sea wall out of the wind. They don’t actually look very comfortable down there. There are even a few people drying themselves off with towels as if they have just come out of the sea after a swim. And they are certainly braver than I am. There is no chance of me going in the water in this kind of weather.

You’ll also notice someone in a wheelchair on the Plat Gousset. There’s a big white building on the seafront just down there that at one time was a hotel but is now a Rehabilitation Centre for people to go who have had a serious illness and injury.

mother seagull with chicks rue des juifs Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAwwwwww. Now look at this!

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that last year we spent a very pleasant early summer watching seagull eggs hatch and the chicks growing up and learning to fly. So after I’d been to look down at the Plat Gousset I came across the Square Maurice Marland to go and have a look on the roofs in the Rue des Juifs to see what we have this year.

And sure enough, here’s a mummy seagull perched upon her nest down there on that roof, and she has at least two little baby chicks in her care. They look so cute, don’t they, with their lovely camouflage colouring.

mother seagull with chicks rue des juifs Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhile I was here I had a look at the other roofs in the area to see what was going on on there, and I could see plenty of activity.

Here’s another very proud seagull mummy, and she has a couple of little chicks in her care. In fact I lost count of how many seagull babies I could see all over the roofs of the Rue des Juifs.

But I had other things to do rather than study baby seagulls. I’d come this way round today on an errand and I’d not had much luck yet. So dodging the people around here who weren’t wearing their masks as they are legally obliged to until the 9th of June, I carried on along the Square and then out into the street.

harbour crane loading normandy trader port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere’s a viewpoint just a little farther on where we can look down onto the port to see what was going on down there, so I headed off that way for a peek.

And we can see here that one of our old friends is down there in the port. Normandy Trader, one of the little freighters that runs the shuttle between here and Granville, is moored up in the loading bay and we can see the big crane loading the empty crates into the ship.

Those crates usually contain the shellfish from the Jersey Seafarers Co-operative but I didn’t think that she was bringing any shellfish over from Jersey due to the issues about which I spoke a little earlier. Unless of course they are empty crates that have been hanging around here since before the troubles started.

chez maguie bar ephemere place pleville le pelley Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallFrom that viewpoint there is a view all along the Rue du Port and down into the Place Pleville le Pelley.

The other day I mentioned the bar ephemere Chez Maguie. It’s stored in a shipping container that is delivered here at the end of May and set up here ready for the tourist season. Despite the unfortunate weather today, there were still plenty of people down there having a drink. And good luck to them too.

From there I threaded my way through the alleyways into the Rue Notre Dame. No sign of Minette, the old long-haired black cat who hangs around here on occasion and lets me stroke her, or any other cat either. Since Gribouille the big ginger cat moved away, there is definitely a shortage of cats in my life.

roadworks rue cambernon Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhat I was actually looking for by coming this way was where they were carrying out all of the roadworks for which they have set up the builders’ compound across the road from me.

And no prizes for guessing where it might be. I’m not sure how long they have been working on the Rue St Michel but they seem to be still far from finishing it. Part of the road is still fenced off and dug up.

But the huge pile of gravel there , which is what they must have been shifting in the dumper the other day, seems to indicate that they might be starting to fill the hole in some time soon. But then, judging by all the painted marks that were on the road surface before they dug it up, someone else will come along and take it all out again.

roadworks allee saint michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere’s a short cut down to the walls. It’s called the Allee de Saint Michel and goes across the bottom of the Rue St Michel.

That was the way that I was planning to go but I ruled that out of the equation. As you can see, they’ve made even more of a mess of that alley than they have of the Rue Cambernon and the Rue St Michel.

But with nothing else going on out there I headed off around the walls and back to the apartment for a nice hot coffee. No cold drink this afternoon.

By the time that I knocked off work I’d finished the second week of radio programmes as far as I could. All ten tracks and the speech all coupled up together and the final 11th track chosen. It’s just a shame that I fell asleep today and couldn’t manage to do the third.

The guitar practice went okay although I’ve discovered that I’ve lost my voice and some of my co-ordination. I suppose being away for 2 weeks has had something to do with that. I’ll have to work out a way to take a guitar with me.

For tea, I had a burger on a bap with baked potatoes and veg, followed by the last of the chocolate cake. I shall have to do some baking tomorrow, I reckon.

But now I’m off to bed. It’s late and I’m going to have an alarm call in the morning. It seems that having a lie-in makes no difference at all, except to make the day even shorter than it already is.

Monday 31st May 2021 – HERE I ALL AM …

… not exactly sitting in a rainbow, but sitting on my seat in the office in the comfort and security of my own home. And am I glad to be back after all of this?

Blasted out of bed at 05:00 by the alarm, I’d made a coffee, filled the flask, made my butties, packed my bags and cleaned the digs by 05:30 and I was ready to roll. But it was far too early because I didn’t want to loiter about on the draughty Brussels Midi station so I relaxed for a while

At about 05:55 I hit the streets and walked off down to the station. And I’m not used to it being so bright so early.

martelarenplein gare de Leuven railway station Belgium Eric HallRegular readers of this rubbish will remember the Martelarenplein – the Martyr’s Square – just outside the railway station.

A lot has been said, mainly by me, of the pedestrian pace at which Belgian (and French) builders seem to work. Much of that is reflected in what’s going on here. It’s been under repair for a good couple of years and by the looks of things they are still a long way from finishing it.

Surprisingly I was on the station for just after 06:10 which meant that I had the choice of a couple of trains that were running earlier than the one that I intended to catch, and that’s always good news.

1904 class 18 electric sncb locomotive gare de Leuven railway station Belgium Eric HallThe train that I caught was the 06:19 to Oostende and that is my favourite choice of train if I’m ever allowed to choose.

It’s a rake of double-deck coaches pulled by one of the top-line electric locomotives of the SNCB stable, and I’m not disappointed. Despite its number, this is one of the Class 18 locomotives built by Siemens between 2009 and 2011. There are 120 of these locomotives in total and they have displaced almost every other type of electric locomotive from front-line duties, although we’ve ridden on a few others just recently.

There was a lady ticket inspector and she seemed to be quite satisfied that I’d correctly installed the SNCB app on my mobile phone and displayed the ticket correctly. I’m making great strides with this technology stuff, aren’t I?

The train pulled into Bruxelles Midi bang on time and to my surprise my train was actually indicated on the departures board. So I went up to the platform and there was a TGV already there. Not mine though. This one was going to Marseilles. Mine would be a-cumen in once this one had cleared off, so an attendant told me.

TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt 4539 gare du midi brussels Belgium Eric HallShe wasn’t wrong either. About 10 minutes later our train did indeed pull in.

It’s one of the TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt trainsets, the PBA (Paris Brussels Amsterdam) sets that we have occasionally, and the fact that it’s pulled up so far down the platform seems to suggest that there will be a train set coming from Amsterdam that will be coupled up at the back.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we saw them coupling up on another occasion that we were here just recently.

The train was actually quite empty and we all had plenty of room to spread out which was nice. I could get on with some work. And once more, the electronic ticket on the SNCF app that I presented to the inspector passed muster too.

And to my surprise, I passed muster at the Paris Gare du Nord Railway station as well. The gendarmette who inspected my Covid declaration from the hospital and my carte de sejour and waved me through without comment can detain me for further questioning any time she likes.

The metro was crowded – it seems as if despite the President’s entreaties, France has gone back to work. The casualty figures show me that this virus is very far from being beaten here and it’s all going to end in tears.

84556 gec alstom regiolis bb7200 507219 nez casse gare montparnasse paris france Eric HallAt the Gare Montparnasse what I reckoned would be my train was already in. It was the only Normandy train in sight.

Parked next to it is one of the BB7200 class of electric locomotives, the nez cassés or “broken noses” of the SNCF railway system. These, and their half-brothers used to be the mainstays of the high-speed long-distance SNCF railway network but now they are used for less glamorous purposes since the arrival of the TGVs.

It’s a long walk from the metro station to the railway station (they moved the railway station so that they could build the Tour Montparnasse on its site) and so I was exhausted. But I found some more seats that I hadn’t noticed before and one of them was vacant so I could sit in peace.

It is indeed my train – the back half of it in fact because it’s 2 trainsets coupled together. And I’m sitting in the rear trainset. The train is busy but I could still have a pair of seats all to myself which pleased me greatly.

And here’s a surprising thing. The ticket collector came up to me and instead of asking to see my ticket he asked “what’s your date of birth?”. So I replied and he said “bon voyage, Monsieur Hall”. This SNCF app clearly does more than it lets on that it does.

In the past that kind of thing would have bothered me greatly but everyone’s privacy has long since been eroded away. 30 years ago I wouldn’t have dreamed of writing like I do but the authorities know where I am and what I’m doing no matter how hard I try to disguise it

84559 gec alstom regiolis Bombardier B82790 gare de Granville railway station Manche Normandy France Eric HallWe pulled into the railway station bang on time too and found ourselves parked up next to one of the Bombardier trainsets that works the Caen-Rennes line. At least I could photograph the front trainset from here

It had been a pleasant journey and to my surprise, despite the 05:00 start I’d only dozed off for about 10 minutes. But I’d only had some hot coffee, not anything cool to drink, with me and so having set out at that time, I now had a thirst that you could photograph.

That was what I would call rather bad planning, but seriously, you’ve no idea how much stuff I usually have to bring back and I simply couldn’t carry any more. I had quite a job carrying this lot.

Going down the steps to the Parc de Val es Fleurs was okay but even on the flat I was struggling. I wasn’t looking forward to the hill up to my place. But I cheered up watching a grockle try to park his motor home in a completely empty car park. I really don’t understand some of these people.

water leak rue des juifs Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAt the foot of the Rue des Juifs there were temporary traffic lights and water all over the place. It looks as if there has been a burst pipe.

But surprisingly, despite the emergency and the big hole and the traffic lights and the vans, there wasn’t a single workmen (and not a married one either) about anywhere. It was about 14:15 so they all should be back at work after lunch.

The hill up the Rue de Juifs was not something to which I was looking forward. It’s pretty steep at the best of times and here I was, loaded up, not in the best of health, and I’d had an emergency operation a week or so ago and the stitches were still in.

But I shan’t get home just standing here looking at it. There’s no other solution but to press on.

people playing bowls bar ephemere place pleville pelley Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallIt’s most unlike me, I know, but I had to make several stops on the way up to catch my breath.

One of these stops was looking over to the Place Pelley where they usually play boules. There’s quite a crowd down there right now, presumably also taking advantage of the bar ephemere, the temporary bar in the shipping container that comes here in the summer and which we saw them unpacking a couple of weeks ago.

If I had had any sense I’d have come home that way and stopped off for a cold drink but I was in a hurry to go home. I took a deep breath, girded up my loins and continued on my weary way back homeward.

builders compound place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd what’s going on here then?

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we have seen over the past few weeks a corner of the car park of one of the other building in the Place d’Armes used as a builders compound but they all cleared off just before I came away and left the place empty.

But it seems that there is some more work going on somewhere presumably in the old walled city and they have set up the compound again. I see that I shall have to go for a walk out that way one of these days and have a good look to see what’s going on, and where.

You’ve no idea the size of the sigh of relief that I emitted when I sat down in my chair in the office, back home. It’s been a long hard slog in the 12 days since I was last here and I don’t want to have to go through all of that again. I transferred the files over and merged everything in – that’s the limit of the work that I did.

And despite the short night, I did actually manage to go off on a couple of nocturnal rambles here and there. And more than just a few too. I’m surprised that I kept going for as long as I did today.

First off was about a boy who lived just up the street from me when I was a kid. Last night he got divorced. I’d forgotten to tell everyone on the day but about a day or so later I remembered it. Anyway we were sitting around the table at lunch ansd he came along with his ex-wife and sat down at our usual table. A couple of other people who were usually there picked up their knives and forks to go away and he sent some kind of scathing comment after them. Of course I didn’t say anything at all. He looked at me and started talking to me about how well I knew Sandbach. I said “yes, I knew it quite well”. He asked “enough to take me somewhere tonight?”. I replied “yes”. So he mentioned a street called Volunteer Avenue (that’s in Nantwich by the way, not in Sandbach). “Do you know where that is?”. I said “yes” so he added “you can take me there and there’s a lot of money in it for you” – something to do with jewellery. He said “we have to leave at 04:00”. That was a bit inconvenient for me but I’d go because I don’t believe this story about money than anyone else. So I leased some sort of dummy office and fitted some kind of dummy recorder because I expected some kind of strange visit. While I was out fetching a coffee and people were talking to me a girl who I’d known and I knew her very well too (and I wish I’d remembered who she was) just walked up to my office as if she was going in. I thought “what on earth is happening here?”. She saw me so I said “what are you doing here?”. She replied “I’ve come to see if such-and-such an office is convenient for me and my boss”. “Really?3 I asked. “Why don’t you go in and have a look?”. “I can’t” she replied. “I don’t have the keys. It says that it’s locked for painting”. So I asked “why did you come here if it was locked for painting?”. She stammered some kind of silly answer at that point and I thought “yes, this is all just so crazy”.

Next up, I was in an office somewhere. I was overhearing a conversation from another desk about a woman who was trying to arrange some kind of exchange visit with a Government department in Germany about tourism. My ears pricked up and I said that I would be extremely interested in that. This woman looked at me with a puzzled look on her face. She had a little chat with me while she was having a chat with this other person. When she’d hung up on this other person she said ‘here’s my number” and it began with 5 zeroes, not 0049 as you would expect, and then a couple of other numbers “and I’m on extension 37 at the moment but this afternoon I’ll be on extension 38. Why don’t you give me a ring?”. So I asked her name and said “yes, OK”. I don’t think that my employers would agree to it but it was still an interesting thing to overhear.

Later on we were a group of impresarios organising musicians and dancers and all that sort of thing for different concerts all over the place. Roxanne was there and I told her a joke about Aunt Mary – Aunt Mary had died and it was actually quite funny but the answer to this was silence, which was one thing that no-one would ever have got. Roxanne delighted in telling it to everyone. We were trying to get this act together with these 3 or 4 dancers and so on. Roxanne told this joke to TOTGA but she didn’t understand it. There was something about ballet in it and I surprised TOTGA and Roxanne by actually being able to do these ballet steps without even thinking about it

Tea was burger and pasta followed by chocolate sponge (to my surprise it’s sill good) and coconut soya dessert.

And now having written my notes, I’m off to bed. And quite right too. I’m absolutely whacked. Tomorrow is Welsh lesson and then I have to look at these hospital appointments and condense the timescale because I have no intention of being away for another 12 days, that’s for sure. I can’t keep on going like this.

Friday 21st May 2021 – THIS IS THE VIEW …

view from window gasthuisberg university hospital Leuven Belgium Eric Hall… from my window this evening.

And I bet that you are wondering where I am and why I’m not in my usual little room in the Dekenstraat. Well, the fact is that I’ve had a ‘phone call at 18:20 this evening “Mr Hall – you need to come back here. And bring your nightie and sponge bag.

So here I am, sitting in a hospital room gazing out of the window. I’ve just had a catheter fitted into my port, they’ve taken a blood sample and I’ve been poked and prodded about by various nurses and doctors, and we shall see what we shall see as the situation unfolds, because I’m going to be here for a few days apparently.

This morning I didn’t have too much of a lie-in because there’s a building site at the back of the building here and at 08:00 they started work with all kinds of machines going off. I gave up after about an hour and went to have my medication.

What I’ve been doing this morning is carrying on choosing the music for the next few radio programmes. Anything that will save time as far as I am concerned .

Nevertheless I knocked off halfway through in order to go to the shops.

triumph tr6 tiensestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallAs regular readers of this rubbish wil recall, I’m a big fan of old cars and I’ll always take a photo of one whenever I can when I see one, and so it’s only natural that when one goes past my nose down a quiet street, I’ll have the camera ready.

This one here in the Tiensestraat is the poor man’s E-type Jaguar, a Triumph TR6. And in British Racing Green, although I could never understand why they chose a colour that isn’t on the Union Flag for the British racing teams.

Made from 1968-1976 and fitted with Triumph’s straight-6 2.5 litre engine, over 90,000 of these were made, mainly for the export market.

Just over 8,300 were sold in the UK and such is their popularity that 4,000 are still on the road and 1,300 are declared as stored. And I bet that there are more than just a few that were stored off the road in sheds and barns before registration of stored vehicles became obligatory.

This one is carrying a Belgian registration, and the “O” in the front of its registration number means that it’s registered as an “old-timer” so it has a less-severe technical inspection but limits are applied as to its use. For example, emission standards and braking distances of modern cars couldn’t be matched by older vehicles even when they came off the factory production line.

market herbert hooverplein Leuven Belgium Eric HallDown in the Herbert Hooverplein my passage was blocked by the weekly market that sets up there.

It occurs once a week here and of course I had completely forgotten about it. Of course, the water fountain had been switched off so that the stall holders wouldn’t be havng a shower as they sold their wares.

One stall that I hadn’t noticed before was that there was a sweet stall there and I don’t have my usual bag of mints with me. There were none on the stall but they did have some of these jellied sweets that I like. They didn’t have any indication of what was in them but I know a place where I can buy gelatine-free jellied sweets.

market monseigneur ladeuzeplein Leuven Belgium Eric HallAnd so on my way to the shop that sells jellied sweets, I passed by the Monseigneur Ladeauzeplein and found a few market stalls set up there.

This is the first time that I’ve been out and about on a Friday at this kind of time so I hadn’t realised that the market stretched around here. But even so, one or two of them were packing up, and I imagine that the others won’t be long in going.

And as for that, I wasn’t long in going either. I went to the Kruidvat and bought myself a nice big bag of gelatine-free jelly sweets. They will last me for a week or so and that’s good. It’ll make a change from mints and eucalyptus sweets.

new building diestsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallAs regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I forgot to bring any spare clothes with me this week. And so I popped off to Wibra. But on the way I stopped off to have a look at this new building going on.

When I was in the Diestsestraat a few months ago they were demolishing a building and, in common with a lot of building work in Belgium, they keep the facade but stick something completely new behind ir, just as they are doing here.

A couple of doors away is Wibra, the shop that sells cheap clothes and I found a couple of cheap tee-shirts, a couple of undies and a couple of pairs of socks, all reasonable quality for the money that I paid.

While I was there I also picked up a tin opener. I have a small tin opener at home and after my exertions here over this last few visits, I’ll pack the small one that’s at home and replace it with this one here. It’s not as if €1:99 is a massive expense.

signs of donors to university library monseigneur ladeuzeplein Leuven Belgium Eric HallOn my way home I walked past the University Library in the Monseigneur Ladeuzeplein when this writing caught my eye.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, the University Library was gratuitously destroyed by the Germans during the Sack of Leuven and all of its contents, including books and papers going back to the earliest days of writing in Europe, were lost to humanity.

After the war many Universities from all over the world sent historic books to restock the library when it was rebuilt and it seems that the names of donors to the library were engraved into the fabric of the building. And I suppose that the donors to the library would have been absolutely mortified when the Germans came back in 1940 and burnt it down again.

Back in my room I had a nice hot shower, had a shave and changed my clothes so that now I look as human as I ever could. And this was followed by a very late lunch.

In the afternoon I sat down to carry on with what I was doing and unfortunately I fell asleep yet again. And that’s how the afternoon went – rotating between working and sleeping.

Some time later I managed to listen to the dictaphone for the previous night and found that there were two entries. I must have had quite a mobile night. It was the last day of our holiday on board THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR and for the last evening I was hoping to invite the girls to come and sit at my table with me for a final dinner. The only trouble was that there were 4 or 5 girls whom I liked and as usual I was caught in this wave of indecision about which one I would invite. In the end I didn’t invite anyone and I was just swept away in the crowd. When I mentioned it, it was to 2 girls who were together, whether one of them would like to but they pretended not to hear and were swept away in this crowd of people coming down this gangplank. I ended up with my meal crammed into this really uncomfortable place surrounded by all kinds of other people. No-one would make any room for me, anything like that so in the end I just threw my napkin down on the table and got up to walk out – something that I have actually been known to do in real life.

Later on, there was a huge pile of us and we’d been camping somewhere. I was on my own as usual, all round the Paris area and someone I was with suggested that I went to London where I could stay with someone for a few days and then come back. They said that I coud get a lift from this festival so I saw everyone off, my friends, and went back to where there was supposed to be a car but there were some people packing their things into it. I went over to them and asked them about “are they going near so-and-so”. They replied “yes” so I asked if I could cadge a lift. The first thing that the guy did was “those 3 packs of peaches for £0:49 – were they yours? Because I’ve eaten them”. I couldn’t remember whether they were or not but it didn’t really bother me too much. We got chatting while his wife went off doing things . He asked me where I was going but actually I didn’t know. I had to ring up in the morning to find the address. But by this time they would be on the road – they were planning to leave and drive through the night. I hoped that whoever it was was going to be expecting me and that I could find the place otherwise I was going to be rather foolish going all that way and getting lost like that. There was more to it than this but I just can’t remember it now. I can remember a bit about talking about going by bike somewhere to visit my friends in (wembley?) (Memling?) and they were saying that it was a bit far and they weren’t that energetic, something along those lines. But there was much more to it than this and I don’t remember it at all now.

All of this came to a halt when I had my phone call. I gathered up as much stuff as I could reasonably carry and headed off to the hospital.

roadworks amerikalaan franz tielemanslaan Leuven Belgium Eric HallIn the Brusselsestraat I walked past the building work that we had noticed yesterday on the corner of the Amerikalaan and the Franz Tielemanslaan.

They seem to have made some progress there, having covered the lump with cobbles and made a path out of bricks. This is starting to resemble a cycle pathway there and I’m wondering why if they could put down a nice brick surface there, why they couldn’t do that in the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan where they put down that horrible asphalt surface.

There is a Carrefour mini-supermarket just beyond where I’m standing and that’s just as well because the big Delhaize was closed and that was a disappointment. No vegan cheese then but I grabbed one of these honey loaf things and a couple of large packets of buildings. The vegan food at the hospital is sometimes quite questionable.

There was no-one at the registration desk when I arrived to I had to enquire at the information desk. I had to follow the light purple arrow to the lift at the far end of the hospital and then ascend to the 6th floor.

One thing about Covid is that now everyone is in a single room. Mine is nice and comfortable with a reasonable view. I’ve no idea how long I’ll be here, and neither does anyone whom I’ve seen. I suppose that things will become much more clear as time goes on.

Thursday 20th May 2021 – FOR THE FIRST TIME …

social distancing cafe tiensestraat Leuven Belgium Eric Hall… since I really can’t remember when, I had a meal in a restaurant.

Not this restaurant here in the Tiensestraat, I have to say, but this is the best example of social distancing in a café that I could find. And when I say “in” a café, I don’t actually mean that, because we aren’t allowed to be “in” a restaurant All we can do is sit on a terrace.

Alison and I went to the Greenway, the vegan restaurant in town. The social distancing wasn’t as thorough as this but it was still very nice to actually have a meal at a restaurant, even if it was out of doors, for the first time since whenever.

And then we went for a coffee on another terrace where there was simply a separation of tables but as the café wasn’t crowded it wasn’t an issue. We could sit quietly by and watch the hordes of policemen arrive and disappear into the Square behind us where there must have been something going on that required their attention.

This morning after having crashed out so spectacularly last night, I awoke, as you might expect, before the alarm was due to go off, so I was up and about quite promptly when the first alarm went off.

After the medication I made a start on the notes for yesterday and it took me much longer than it ought to have done to do it as I wasn’t really all that motivated. There was tons to write as well so it’s no surprise really.

There had been a voyage during the night too, as I discovered when I listened to the dictaphone some time later. My brother had gone to Dresden in Germany for something. I had to travel there so I was looking through the dashcam files and I came across one of when I’d been to Dresden in February one year. I remember getting close to the ton and how beautiful it was and on the outskirts I’d tried to find a place to stop to take a good photograph. I had to drive miles around in like a box to try to get a really good place. At one point I was driving alongside a river and suddenly came to a spot where the bank had collapsed and all these cars were parked in this field. I asked what had happened and they said that they had been driving on the ice when suddenly there had been a flash flood and they had all been transported away in this flash flood and just dropped when the water receded. All of the banks at the side of the river had collapsed under this kind of flash flood so they were all now stranded in these fields. Somewhere alongside were a brother and sister, arty types, and they had been having a big row and dispute about art. They were playing a strange kind of game with a load of magazines, something like “snap”. I was watching them play and they were basically making up 2 piles of these magazines. When they reached a certain point they would stop, shuffle these 2 piles together and start again but I never did understand or get the hang of what it was that they were doing. It looked totally weird to me and I couldn’t see what it was that was going on.

And there was also time to choose the music for another radio programme.

Round about 12:00 I stopped everything and made my sandwiches for lunch, and then headed off on my way to the hospital.

roadworks amerikalaan franz tielemanslaan Leuven Belgium Eric HallInto the town centre and out of the other side and in the Brusselsestraat at the junction of the Amerikalaan and the Franz Tielemanslaan I cam across another set of road works.

There have been plenty of roadworks going on all over the town as regular readers of this rubbish will recall and they have been taking years to do some of them. And so I wonder how long it’s going to take to do this lot on the corner here.

And it’s hard to see exactly what they are going to be doing because there were plenty of places in the town that are in need of much more work than this and I can give them half a dozen leads without even thinking about it.

sint pieters hospital brusselsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallThe Brusselsestraat leads past the site of Sint Pieter’s Hospital, the hospital that they have been demolishing for the last year or so at least, and I was keen to see how the works were going on because they seem to have been taking for ever to do it.

And to my surprise, I found out that the hospital has gone completely after all of this time. I know that it was a big building but they seemed to be really taking their time with it.

They are now actively engaged in clearing up the site ready for redevelopment of this new parkland and housing development. They are even talking about taking out the culvert and exposing the River Dijle to the open air.

sint pieters hospital brusselsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallThere is one thing that can be said about this demolition work in that it has opened up several new vistas that were previously hidden from view.

In this photo we can see the Predikherenkerk in the Oude Lieve Vrouwstraat from a viewpoint that we have never seen before, and then further round to the left is the rear of the ancient Sint-Elizabeth Gasthuis and the Convent of the Augustinian Sisters that we haven’t seen before.

In the previous photograph we could see the rear of the Sint Rafael Hospital which, as far as I am aware, is going to remain.

And all that we are left with here are a couple of large piles of rubble.

sint pieters hospital brusselsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallIt’s not quite everything though.

There’s a big digger here that seems to be fishing rubble out of what was formerly the cellar of the building. And I’m wondering why they would be doing that because if they were going to develop the site they would need to fill in the cellar anyway and what better way to do it than to use the rubble that is present on the site.

But having watched them digging stuff out from the whole I pushed off on my way along the Brusselsestraat on my way towards the hospital on the edge of town for my usual four-weekly appointment with destiny at Castle Anthrax.

cycle racks sint jacobs kerk kruisstraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallRound the corner in the Kruisstraat I intended to look into the Sint Jacob’s Kerk but the door was locked. And in any case I was distracted by some work that was going on here.

They have obliterated a couple of car parking spaces and replaced them with a pile of bicycle racks. At the moment the bicycle racks aren’t concreted into the ground but we can see the workmen on the right busily mixing a load by hand that will concrete them firmly.

That is something that has rather bewildered me as well because there aren’t any residential buildings or any colleges all that close to where they have put the bicycle racks no I’m not sure who it is that is expected to use them.

sint jacobsplein Leuven Belgium Eric HallAnd now finally, something extremely exciting.

It looks as if after all of this time the compound in the Sint Jacobs Plein has been dismantled.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we came home from Canada one year and found that they had dug a huge hole in the square, apparently for an overflow tank for the new drainage system that they were going to install. And when they had finished it, they filled it in and fenced it off to use it as a works compound for the roadworks that were taking place.

But that’s all gone and finished now and the cars are back parked on it. Life is slowly returning to normal.

monseigneur van waeyenberghlaan Leuven Belgium Eric HallThe work that they had been doing was to dig up the Biezenstraat and the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan and sink some really huge culverts in there for drainage.

This is work that we have been following for the last couple of years as they slowly, much too slowly in my opinion, worked their way down the street from top to bottom but now it’s all finished by the looks of things and all of the traffic, including the service buses that run to the hospital, are now in there.

We have to admire the cycle lanes in the main road. There’s no danger of missing those, even if they do restrict the flow of the traffic. Not that I have anything against restricting the flow of traffic, but there needs to be ample parking on the edge of the town with adequate pubic transport to take people to where they want to go.

And I see that the water fountain that they were trying to restore now seems to be completed.

goedsbloemstraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallIt’s not actually the end of the roadworks in this area though.

We pass by the mouth to the Goedsbloemstraat on our way up to the hospital. We noticed a couple of months ago that they had started to dig it up and despite the fact that in the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan the roadworks have no finished, they still haven’t finished off whatever they were doing here.

But whatever it is that they are doing, it doesn’t look as if it involves any large sever pipes. There are just a few small ones there and the rolls of pipework on the edge of the street.

But anyway I left them to it and pushed on to the hospital.

monseigneur van waeyenberghlaan Leuven Belgium Eric HallAnother thing that regular readers of this rubbish will recall is that the last time that we were here they were digging a trench in the grass verge and there were a few heavy pipes at the side of the trench.

All of that has finished, they’ve moved the pipes, filled in the trench and replaced the turf. You wouldn’t really know that they have actually done anything there by now. It’s all finished and the workmen have moved off elsewhere. Maybe to the Brusselsestraat at the junction of the Amerikalaan and the Franz Tielemanslaan

At the hospital I registered in and had my treatment. Nothing much happened about that but then I was sent down to have my heart examined. They found my heart so at least I’m not a Tory, but what the technician discovered led him to call for his professor who examined my results in depth.

From there I was sent back to the Day Centre where the Professor who handles my case came to see me. I go to the hospital every four weeks and have done for over 5 years now, and I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen the professor – and yet today I get to see two.

She examined me, which is a first since March 2016, and when I asked her what was the issue she replied “we’ll be in touch”. Strangely, they didn’t say “see you in 4 weeks” like they usually do.

By the time that they threw me out it was too late to go to the Pharmacy so I headed off back into town.

streamlined cycle gasthuisberg hospital Leuven Belgium Eric HallBut here’s something exciting, shooting down the cycle track at the side of the hospital. It’s another one of these streamlined low-sung bicycle things.

We’ve seen a few of these out and about here and there over the years but we’ve never ever had the opportunity to inspect one at close quarters. But knowing that there’s at least one of them in Leuven gives me hope that I’ll get to have a look at one of them in due course. I’ll have to keep a good eye out.

But one thing that I noticed from this photograph is that this one appears to be a three-wheeler and I don’t recall having seen one of this type before. The heavy construction of the front wheels suggests something more than an ordinary bicycle.

biezenstraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallA little earlier, we saw the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan all nicely fitted out and finished. The other end of the street is called the Biezenstraat and I can safely say that that end is finished too.

People can actually reach the fritkot without having to scramble over a pile of rubble – not that a pile of rubble would ever prevent a Belgian from reaching a fritkot, but that of course is another story. They do say that the reason why there have never been any Belgian astronauts is because there aren’t any fritkots on the moon.

The trees in the Sint Jacobsplein are in full leaf of course and look really nice but I would have expected that, with the country’s commitment to zero emissions and the like, they would have planted a few more to absorb the pollution.

building site kapucijnenvoer Leuven Belgium Eric HallDown at the far end of the Biezenstraat is the Kapucijnenvoer and regular readers of this rubbish will recall having seen the demolition of the building that was here.

They had dug a big hole in the ground where the building was situated and I speculated that they may be making some kind of subterranean car park at the bottom. Now they have some concrete reinforcement matting down there and I imagine that the next step will be the delivery of a few hundred m3 of concrete.

On my way home from the hospital in the future I shall be keeping a close eye on what’s going on here. With this amount of car parking space, it’s obviously going to be a very big building.

building site kapucijnenvoer zongang Leuven Belgium Eric HallSomething else on which I shall be keeping a close eye in the future is the building work that’s taking place between the Kapucijnenvoer and the Zongang.

We’d seen them clearing the site and moving in the building materials last time that we were here, and over the last 4 weeks they seem to have started the construction in earnest. There is some kind of site advertisement telling us about apartments for sale, so that’s what I reckon that we’ll be having here on the site.

In the town centre I treated myself to an ice cream from the stall that sells vegan ice ceam, and it was the quickest ice cream that I have ever seen because as soon as I had it in my sweaty little mitt Alison rang me up to say that she was here, so I wandered off round there to meet her.

medieval city walls handbooghof Leuven Belgium Eric HallAfter our meal and a coffee we went off for a walk around the town. I was dying for a walk down the Handbooghof along by the River Dijle because I was interested in seeing how they were getting on with the renovations of the old medieval city walls.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that in the past they have been sagging and bowing out, looking quite precarious and dangerous and after 7 centuries they were badly in need of some kind of renovation if they were to remain in place. It always reminded me of the castle in “The Carpathian Terror” – “The first Count Romany built it in 1410. That’s given it almost 500 years in which to disintegrate”

They fenced it off a few months ago and moved in some building material.

medieval city walls handbooghof Leuven Belgium Eric HallBut now the renovations are well under way and it won’t be long before they will have finished.

What is depressing about it though is that they have used more modern brick rather than contemporary brick in patching them up. I realise that they can’t always find the correct stone to do the job these days but at least they could have made more of an effort to find something that matches.

Alison had another appointment so she brought me home after our walk. Back here I started to write up my notes from yesterday but I fell asleep again in the middle of it all. It was actually quite late so I went to bed and I’ll finish off my notes in the morning.

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.

Wednesday 5th May 2021 – HAVING READ …

trawler baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall… the Press from yesterday, you’ll probably understand now why we are seeing fishing boats working away in the Baie de Mont St Michel these days.

With the eternal conflict going on around Jersey right now, it’s probably just as well that they take this opportunity to explore new fishing grounds closer to home to see what they are likely to be able to provide by the way of catch.

There were three or four out there this afternoon too. This one out near the Brittany coast is the closest to my point of view. All of the others were too far out for me to be able to photograph them appropriately. And I wonder how long they are going to be out there too. I haven’t seen them this diligent in the bay before now.

trawler leaving port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd as I watched from my vantage point up on the walls, another one went out to join them in the bay. She left the harbour behind and headed off deeper into the bay.

But I have a feeling that this might not be as permanent arrangement as I might at one time have thought. In the Jersey Press today was the usual propaganda and sabre-rattling to placate the natives over there, but tucked away in a corner out of view was a little notice that the Jersey Authorities have approached the British Government and the European Union to seek permission to negotiate directly with the Normandy and Brittany fishermen.

The threat of cutting off the electricity to the islands did the trick. It didn’t take long for the French to bring the Channel Islanders to heel, did it?

And it didn’t take long for my bad habits to resurface did it? After a day yesterday where I went without crashing out, I succumbed this afternoon. Not as badly as I have done in the past just recently but it was still a dismal state of affairs.

Mind you, I blame the fact that I couldn’t sleep last night and it was about 02:30 by the time that I went to bed. No-one is going to feel on form after just 3.5 hours sleep. In fact I’m surprised that I kept going for as long as I did today.

After the medication I didn’t do much and that’s not a surprise. I stirred a few papers around and that’s just about it as far as the morning went. There were so many things that needed to be done but I ended up doing nothing at all.

One of the things that I forgot to do this morning was to make some more hummus. As a result I had to have vegan cheese with my salad on my butties and I don’t have all that much of that left.

This afternoon I finally started work and brought my journal up-to-date by indexing the entries that hadn’t been indexed, and there were quite a few of those. And then I attacked the dictaphone entries. Most of them are done but I’m not going to update the journal until they are all finished. I can however add in today’s to let you know where I went during what there was of the night last night.

But talking of last night, It’s been a good while since I’ve had a night sweat but I had one then. I can’t remember now very much about my voyage now except that there was a horse involved in it somewhere. I was having to meet some people coming home or I was coming home and had to meet some people, something like that, I can’t remember now but I awoke drenched in sweat.

After going back to sleep I was back in County Durham again on the east coast. There were plenty of car scrapyards around one of which was full of lorries and bits of garden hose, all kinds of other stuff as well. There was more to it than this but as you are probably eating your meal right now I’ll spare you the gory details.

In fact there will be a couple of the arrears that won’t make it on line. There have been a few very disturbing ones just recently.

place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall
For a change this afternoon I decided on going for a walk around the medieval city walls. It’s been a long time since I’ve been that way round.

While I was out here I took advantage of the viewpoint that goes across the top of the gate that leads outside the city walls. There’s a nice view along here to the Place d’Armes where I live. If you see just to the right of centre the white building with the sloping roof, my own building is the big stone one immediately behind it.

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) you can’t see my own apartment from there.

The large building further back with the modern extension to the right is the College Malraux, the local High School

trawler english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere’s a good view out to sea from up here on the walls.

In the distance I could see something moving about over by the Ile de Chausey so I took a photograph of it with the aim of blowing it up (something that I can do, despite modern anti-terrorist legislation) so that I can see what it was that I had seen.

At first I thought that it might have been Joly France or Chausiais coming back from the Ile de Chausey, even though it’s off the usual route that they take coming back. But in actual fact she’s one of the trawlers out of the port.

At least she’s managed to get out to sea today despite the current issues with the Channel Islands.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallFinal thing that I must do while I’m on this side of the headland is to look down onto the beach to see if there was anyone about.

But there wasn’t all that much beach to be on as you probably saw on one of the earlier photographs. The tide is quite far in as I was taking these photographs. Mind you, this guy and his little daughter seem to have found a nice corner in which to sit. Anywhere on the beach near the sea is good enough for a small child regardless of the weather and the state of the tide.

On the footpath underneath the walls I might have been tempted to break into a run, but there were far too many people around for me to want to embarrass myself like this. Instead, I had a nice leisurely walk underneath the walls.

plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallEventually I arrived at the viewpoint overlooking the Place Marechal Foch and the Plat Gousset.

There was certainly no shortage of people wandering around there this afternoon. It’s half-day closing at the schools of course so many people here have the afternoon off to look after their kids. So if you ever want to find a crowd of people at some time other than a weekend, Wednesday afternoon is the time to be doing it.

There aren’t any Birdmen of Alcatraz out there today though. And thinking on, we haven’t seen any of them about for quite a while either. So musing on that particular thought, I set off across the square Maurice Marland and headed back for home and my coffee.

road works rue cambernon Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOn my way home, I managed to track down the workmen who have been doing stuff around the Rue Cambernon.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that over the last week or ten days ago we’ve seen signs of them setting up a camp in the Place d’Armes and driving around in dumpers loaded with gravel and I mentioned that I’ll have to go and find out where it was that they are working. And there they are, down there at the corner of the Rue Saint Michel.

And that was exactly the same place where they were working the last time that we were round here, which was before Christmas if I remember rightly when they were doing things all the way up the street.

road works rue st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallIt’s difficult to believe that after all of this time they are still working there and haven’t finished off what they were doing.

It was my intention to take a short cut down the alleyway at the far end of the Rue St Michel but that was ruled out because the workmen haven’t finished at that end either. There was a guy there with a compactor flattening everything down in the street and sweeping up the debris quite diligently with his broom.

In the end I had to go the long way around and leave the workmen to whatever it was that they were doing. And when I reached the walls, I could see the trawlers that I photographed earlier.

And as I write these notes I can add that since I started them I’ve discovered that the British Government has sent two gunboats to the Bay of Granville. Bearing in mind that the entire might of the Royal Navy couldn’t defeat a handful of Icelandic trawlers in the 1960s, I can’t see this doing much good.

And as I have said before, it doesn’t matter how much fish the British fishing boats catch. If they can’t sell any of it, it won’t make the slightest difference.

chevrolet car from connecticut parvis notre dame Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallSomething else that hasn’t changed much is the little Chevrolet car.

It has Connecticut licence plates but the stickers expired a long, long (as in 10 years or so if I remember correctly) time ago and was abandoned here last Summer. Like the car in the Rue St Paul, they don’t seem to be in too much hury removing it.

As it happens I’m keen to find out who the owner might be, for the simple reason that I would like to know how he managed to bring the vehicle over here. It’s not a high-value vehicle so the costs of shipping it would be more than the cost of a replacement vehicle, from what my researches have revealed.

If I could find a way to move Caliburn economically back and to across the Atlantic every year I would do so at the drop of a hat.

Back here I carried on with a little work and then went for guitar practice.

Tea tonight was a burger on a bap followed by jam roly-poly and home-made custard. And While I was making the custard I was thinking that why don’t I make another one of those chocolate sponges that I made once or twice and them instead of vanilla flavouring, put chocolate powder in the mix for the sauce? That would be nice.

So now I’m off to bed. I’ve done enough today. Hopefully I’ll awake early and have a grandstand seat at the naval battle that will take place offshore. I can’t imagine that the French would let British gunboats cruise around just offshore here without bringing in one or two of their own.

Thursday 8th April 2021 – TODAY, I’VE HAD …

trawler yacht english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall… another one of those nautical days that we have every so often.

There has been so much traffic on the waters today that I’ve really been spoilt for choice when it came to taking photos because I could have taken 100 and still not done justice to everything that was going on out there at sea this afternoon.

When I went out there this afternoon for my little walk around the headland I was overwhelmed by the amount of nautical traffic that was bobbing up and down on the high seas, from the smallest plank-boarders to some of the larger trawlers and freighters that hang around the port.

marite unloading normandy trader port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd it wasn’t just out at sea that we were having all of this excitement.

It was pretty busy in the harbour this morning too. One of or favourite boats, the little Jersey Freighter Normandy Trader has come into port on the overnight tide. She’s now tied up underneath the crane at the loading bay while the personnel of the Chamber of Commerce make ready to unload her.

You can see all of the material on the quayside already. I reckon that this is the load that she has to take back with her to St Helier. And you can see how busy she is with all of that load. No wonder her owners are talking about buying a larger boat

vna pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd it’s not just at sea and in the port that we are extremely busy. Thee was quite a lot going on in the air today too.

The bright sunny weather has certainly brought out the aeroplanes this afternoon, like this one that overflew me as I walked my weary way around the headland. I’ve no idea what it is because I couldn’t see the registration properly. I can see the last three letters – VNA – of its registration.

Although I checked, there was nothing of that registration that had taken off from or landed at Granville Airport this afternoon. It’s probably frustrating me deliberately by not filing a flight plan so people like me can’t identify it.

fishing boats port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallSo while you admire the picture of the busy port this afternoon with the crowds of boats queueing up and the portable boat lift now tackling Lys Noir, I’ll tell you about my busy morning.

It was rather a late night, although not as late as it has been once or twice, so I was able to leap out of bed with alacrity when the alarm went off.

After the medication I attacked the dictaphone notes for the last couple of days seeing as I missed out on doing it yesterday. And if you now look at yesterday’s entry, you’ll see that that is now up-to-date with the entries for yesterday now incorporated. Now that those were out of the way I could turn my attention to last night’s travel.

normandy trader port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallSome people came round to my house, including an old friend of mine so I invited a girl to come along as well. I made all of the arrangements but just at the last moment when I was getting ready to receive my visitors I had a ‘phone call to say that this girl was having to go into work so she wouldn’t be able to come. I had a little morning’s entertainment with these people and just strode out and the followed me. They went their separate ways. I just happened to be walking past their house when a car pulled up and these 3 girls got out. 1 of them said “so-and-so will run you home” referring to her youngest sister. “She knows the trick about the car”. They parked up but then they saw me walking past and asked “Eric, are you coming in?”. I walked up the path towards the door to join them.

having dome that I turned my attention to the photos from August 2019 on my North American Adventure and managed a few of those before it was time for me to go off for my shower.

And having done that, I wandered off out on my way to the shops for my mid-week shopping trip.

pointing rampe de monte à regret Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallMy route took me past the top of the Rampe du Monte à Regret where they are using the poor state of the medieval wall as a training ground for young apprentices.

And sure enough, there were about half a dozen there, a few of whom were females, something that is always nice to see. All of them with their trowels and mortar boards doing a nice rightward lead along all of the cracks. It brought back many happy memories of when I was POINTING THE WALLS AT MY HOUSE all those years ago.

having watched them for a while I pushed on … “pushed off” – ed … down the steps and on into the town.

roundabout place charles de gaulle Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd it looks as if they are getting ready for the summer season, such as it might be this year, in the town.

The other day when we were around the town we saw the candyfloss and sweet stand that had arrived in the town and was now parked up hear the harbour. Today I noticed that the kiddies’ roundabout has arrived and has now been set up in the Place Charles de Gaulle ready to entertain them for the next few months.

My next port of call was LIDL for the midweek session of my weekly shopping. I didn’t want all that much from there so I ended up with quite a light load. So not to waste the trip I stocked up with some soya milk and some tomato sauce because I can always use that sort of thing and I never seem to have enough.

roadworks road closed rue paul poirier Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOn the way back home I had to go along the Rue Paul Poirier, and that wasn’t as easy as it might have been.

There were roadworks in the street today and it was closed to all traffic. Not for pedestrians though so I could make my way along there and while I was it it, I could see what they were trying to do.

They had half of the road dug up near the junction with the Rue Etoupefour but as for why, I didn’t have any idea. They were digging a small trench and one of the guys was relaying the cobbles where there is the 5-minute waiting spot, cutting a few of them with his stone cutter to make them fit into their spaces. I suppose we’ll have to wait for a few days after they have cleared off in order to see what they have been doing.

roadworks rue etoupefour Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAt the other end of the street, having pushed my way through the roadworks, I crossed over the road and started to go up the Rue des Juifs where I glanced down at the junction of the Place des Corsaires and the Rue Etoupefour.

There was a man down there with some of the cobbles pulled up, chipping away at them. I’m sure that it can’t be a coincidence with people working like this at both ends of the street . They must be doing some kind of work in common so I suppose we’ll find our about that in due course too.

Anyway I carried on up the Rue des Juifs with my light load hardly impeding me at all. I wasn’t going to say that I ran up the street but it was a good climb up there with hardly a pause for breath.

unloading normandy trader port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere was an occasion to call for a pause halfway up the hill because there was something of interest going on at the docks.

One thing that I’ve noticed is that each of the Jersey freighters, Thora and Normandy Trader has started to carry a couple of small sealed containers, presumably with private freight, and this morning they were unloading one of them from the deck of Normandy Trader and putting it on the quayside ready to be taken away.

That was all of the excitement for the morning. I wandered off home for my hot chocolate and sourdough fruit bread and to continue with my photo editing.

Unfortunately I didn’t manage to do too many because I crashed out on my chair. And crashed out completely too. I must have been out for about an hour and a half altogether. As a result I had a very late lunch.

After lunch, seeing as it was a nice sunny day with very little wind I went and attacked Caliburn’s door.

Trying to take off the door card was a contortionist’s delight and it took me an absolute age to free it off just so far that I could put my hand inside the door skin. And as for where the spring clip that holds on the window winder went, I have absolutely no idea.

Being able to put my hand inside the door skin was one thing. To actually open the door was something else and my hands ended up black and blue with cuts and bruises but with a great amount of force and inconvenience I finally managed spring the catch and open the door.

With the door open I could re-attach the bits that had fallen off and do the necessary adjustments and now the door will open from the outside as well as the inside. But I’m not putting the door card back on until I’m sure that it works.

seagull place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhile I was out there working, I was not alone.

Yesterday we saw the seagull on the windowsill of one of the apartments on the other side of the building. And this time the bird is waiting at the correct window – the one where there is the plastic bird model on the inside. And you only have to look at the state of the window to see how often it is that the bird calls there.

But anyway, I went off inside to put away my tools and then came back outside to go for my afternoon walk in the sunshine.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThe first thing to do was to go to the wall at the end of the car park to look over the wall to see what was going on down on the beach today.

The tide is quite well in this afternoon so thee wasn’t all that much beach to be on today but even so, there was still enough room for a few people to wander about. These two people were having a pile of fun leaping about from rock to rock down there and they will probably keep on doing it until the tide comes in and cuts off their only means of retreat.

There was no retreat for me today. I was continuing my walk along the path on top of the cliffs. And despite the really nice weather there was hardly anyone else about so I had the place pretty much to myself

autogyro pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallA little earlier I mentioned that there was quite a lot going on in the air and I mentioned the light aeroplane that flew by overhead.

We also had another regular visitor going past me overhead this afternoon someone whom we haven’t seen for quite some time. It’s the old yellow autogyro that we’ve seen in the past on several occasions. We saw a different one, a reddy-orange one, fly past us the other day and it made me wonder when we would be seeing this one again.

She was flying quite high over my head too, much higher than normal and he had a passenger too so they presumably are on one of these sightseeing trips that she does every now and again

The French have a saying jamais deux sans trois – “never two without a third”, and that applied to the aircraft that I saw today.

EC-MVE Airbus A320-232 pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallIn fact they may well have said “thirty-third” because there were so many in the sky this afternoon. Today’s choice of aircraft is an Airbus A320-232 that’s operated by Vueling Airlines, a Spanish low-cost airline and is operating their flight VY7826 /VLG7826 which is the 15:00 from Barcelona heading to Gatwick Airport.

Her registration number is EC-MVE and airframe number 8130 which means that she was built about three or so years ago and supplied new to the airline which means that she was supplied new to the airline in February 2018.

She wet past me over head at about 25,000 feet and 388 knots and had already started her descent down to the Gatwick flight path as I was watching her

chausiais yacht baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that we have spent a great deal of time discussing Chausiais, the little freighter or barge that runs the freight between the Ile de Chausey and the mainland.

She’s usually been tied up at the ferry port or in the inner harbour but today I’ve actually been lucky enough to catch her on her travels, coming back from the ile de Chausey.

She’s down there now manoeuvring her way between a couple of yachts as she returns to the port after her little run out. I suppose that with all of the tourists and second-home owners being here fleeing the lockdown in Paris, she has plenty of work to do, ferrying the supplies out there to the island.

fishing boats waiting for port de Granville harbour to open Manche Normandy France Eric HallFrom the end of the headland I followed the rail of yachts Chausiais and all of the fishing boats towards the harbour.

The harbour gates into the inner harbour aren’t open as yet but the time can’t be that far off because the queue of trawlers around them waiting to go in was quite oppressive. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen so many loitering around the harbour gates. Chausiais had quite a struggle to fight her way into her berth.

Earlier on we saw the portable boat lift wrapping her slings around lys noir but I didn’t hang around long enough to see what they were going to be doing with her. Instead, I carried on along the path.

spirit of conrad charles marie port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhile I was walking around on the path above the harbour I’d noticed a sail being erected in the inner harbour. And earlier while I’d been fixing Caliburn’s door, I’d seen my neighbour Pierre who owns Spirit of Conrad in his working clothes leap into his car and drive off.

Putting 2 and 2 together, I assumed that it must be Spirit of Conrad that was having her sail hoisted, and it seems that I was quite right. It looks as if she’s being prepared for the sea again so I wonder where she might be going this time. We had fun on her when we were down the Brittany coast last summer.

Back at the apartment I had a coffee and then finished off the day’s photos from August 2019. I’m now on the Bozeman Trail at the site of the worst humiliation of the US Army at the hands of the native Americans prior to the battle of Little Big Horn where Colonel Fetterman and his entire troop of 79 soldiers and four civilian scouts were cut down by Red Cloud and his Sioux warriors.

Before guitar practice there was time for a little bit of the Central Europe trip and then I absorbed myself in music. And I didn’t really enjoy it al that much tonight. My heart wasn’t in it for some reason and I couldn’t really get going.

Tea was taco rolls and rice and veg, followed by some of my jam roly-poly and coconut dessert.

Tomorrow is going to be a Welsh revision day, I reckon, ready for the restart of my courses. I’m becoming far too rusty. I could do with an early night but I’m not going to get it today, that’s for sure. It’s late so I’m going straight to be. And I’m hoping to have pleasant dreams despite my new evening medicine which somehow has the effect of tranquilising me.

Friday 26th March 2021 – THE LAST THING …

… that i was expecting to be doing today s going back to the hospital.

moving house with furniture lift monseigneur van waeyenberghlaan leuven belgium Eric HallSo while you are admiring the photo of a furniture removal with a Belgian furniture lift the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan, I was busy answering a telephone call.

And at 08:30 too – nothing like the early bird catching the worm, hey?

Believe it or not, they actually awoke me too because with no alarm this morning I was flat out in bed fast asleep. A really deep sleep too – that thing that they gave me for my cramps seemed to have worked because I didn’t awaken once during the night, not even for 10 seconds.

Nothing on the dictaphone to say if I had been anywhere during the night. However I did have this weird feeling that TOTGA came to visit me during the night. She told me that she had changed her address and was living somewhere else. That took me completely by surprise because I couldn’t imagine her going to live anywhere else without taking her daughter with her.

While I’ve been here today I’ve selected the music for four radio programmes for the future and I’ve paired the music for three of them.

One thing that’s important though is that I must remember to keep a free week in the middle of September.

That’s the weekend of the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival and while I was back home last July I found all of the promotion disks for the three years that I did the photography for the festival.

Those disks contain samples of the music of the groups who played there for those years so I am planning on making my own Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival on the radio for that week.

After lunch I went out and hit the streets, in the direction of the hospital. But not the hospital itself but the pharmacy at the side. They had made a mistake with the dispensing yesterday and given me the wrong medicine. I had to take back what they had given me and collect the correct medicine.

road works brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric HallJust for a change I went a different way towards the hospital, right down the Brusselsestraat.

There had been a sign saying “road closed -diversion” that I’d noticed yesterday so I was interested to see what was going on there. And sure enough, they have the road all dug up around here too.

These road works all around the town are causing chaos and I remembered Alison telling me yesterday that she had been held up by roadworks on her way into town to meet me.

roadworks goudsbloemstraat leuven belgium Eric HallFrom the roundabout in the Brusselsestraat I cut down the Goudsbloemstraat towards the junction between the St Hubertusstraat and the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan.

This is where the roadworks have been going on for as long as I can remember. We’ve seen plenty of photographs of these roadworks including a couple from yesterday, but we have never seen them from this angle before.

The cyclists had a bit of a struggle to pass through the roadworks, and the clouds of dust being generated by the guy with the concrete cutter cutting the kerbstones didn’t help matters much. I’m glad that I was wearing my facemask.

moving house with furniture lift monseigneur van waeyenberghlaan leuven belgium Eric HallA little earlier we’d seen a photo of a furniture removal being undertaken in the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan.

Because of all of the apartments in Belgium, every furniture removal company has a furniture removal lift and they always excite the attention of people from other countries who probably haven’t seen them before.

You can also see how they are advancing with the street repairs here. The people on the pavement to the left, and the cycle track that they are building at the side. The cobbles are where people will be permitted to park their cars and then of course the roadway in the centre of the photograph – whenever it will be completed.

new pipework herestraat leuven belgium Eric HallThey were cracking on with that pipe that they had started yesterday.

There was a big pile of pipes around where they were working yesterday and they have now laid a line almost as far as the ring road. Maybe the digger is for digging the trench into which they will eventually drop the pipework.

At the pharmacy I handed back the medication that they had given me yesterday and took the correct medicines and walked back down to the centre of the town.

The ice cream stall was open so I treated myself to the first one of the year. It wasn’t all that warm outside today but I had certainly felt the strain of the walk. My knee isn’t hurting as badly as it did on Wednesday but occasionally there is a twinge just to remind me that it isn’t all that happy.

girls in tree sint donatuspark leuven belgium Eric HallIn the past I have spent a lot of time talking about birds and birdwatching.

The usual place to sit and carry out some birdwatching is close to a tree and to watch them as they start to build their nest. And here today in the Sint Donatuspark we find half a dozen birds busily making a nest in a tree.

And these are much more like the species of bird that I am interested in watching. And I’m very knowledgeable on this subject, having had many lectures on the subject of birdwatching in the past, mainly from Nerina.

sint donatuspark leuven belgium Eric HallThe Sint Donatuspark is one of my favourite spots in Leuven.

It’s roughly the site of part of the old medieval walls and the vacant space in front of and behind. We can see one of the towers here that formed part of the city defences back in those days.

The park is very popular as a place to hang out and there us always a crowd of students relaxing in here. Regular readers of this rubbish will in fact recall that Alison and I came for a walk through here late in the evening last time I was here and there was quite a crowd of people in here partying

In the background over on the right is the stage where they have occasional outdoor performances. And I particularly like the whale painted on the wall on the back.

house building dekenstraat leuven belgium Eric HallOn the way back I went past the house that they have been rebuilding in the Dekenstraat for the last however long.

It seems that they are almost on the point of completion after all this time and it won’t be long before they move away the security fencing.

Back here I carried on with my radio work until it was time to stop for tea. Pasta and veg with a nut burger, and it was all delicious.

Having finished now my notes I’m going to do my packing and then I’ll do the washing up and then I’m off to bed. I have a very early start in the morning and I do hope that all of the trains will be running on time. There’s a football match on the internet at 15:30 and I don’t want to miss it.

Saturday 6th February 2021 – HAVING MOANED …

… incessantly with all of this “woe is me” nonsense about how I can’t get out of bed any more in the mornings, I have to say that when the first alarm went off this morning I’d been out of bed already for a good 8 minutes. And by the time that the third alarm went off 15 minutes later I was already sitting at the computer doing some work.

All of which goes to prove that the problem such as it is isn’t a medical issue but more a personal issue because I can clearly do it when I have to.

What the issue was this morning was that I was dictating the account of a voyage and the batteries went flat in the dictaphone. And for some unknown reason the spare batteries that I keep by the bed were flat too. And so I had to go off and track some others down in the living room.

And by the time that I’d done that, there wasn’t much point in going back to bed just for a couple of minutes otherwise we might have had another wasted morning.

So as for where I’d been during the night, there wasn’t really all that much that was exciting. I had to go somewhere and so for no reason at all I leapt on board a ferry which was the Staten Island ferry but wasn’t and sailed across the bay or river to the other side. There were about 3 or 4 people on there and I stayed on there ready to come back without even bothering to get off the boat. Gradually a few people came on to join me. There was a guy there who was in charge and there was some kind of display stand with newspapers on there and things. I was casually reading a newspaper that was on there. This guy came past and he was talking about me to someone else. My ears pricked up. It turned out that I’d been given a guide with my mobile phone. I’d filled it in but I knew all of the stuff because I’d had mobile phones for years so I hadn’t really bothered much with the guide. It was there so he gave it back to me. Then they started to serve the tea on board this boat so we all stood in a queue. I was with a Flemish guy, next to him. He heard some English people talking – apparently one of the English people had said that now that we are in Flanders we’ll have to learn to speak Flemish. The Flemish guy turned to me and said “that’s a bit crazy, isn’t it? Everyone here in Flanders speaks English”. What was strange about this was that I could actually smell the tea and coffee while this dream was taking place and I’ve no idea who might have been brewing up by the air went to my apartment.

Later on there was me, a guy and a couple of other women. I can’t remember the beginning about this but we had to go and take some things round to see from school (who incidentally is making his debut appearance in my voyages even if he didn’t actually make an appearance), why we would do that I don’t know. I’d made tea and my brother was late coming in. he was carrying a gun – he’d been to fetch a rifle and I was annoyed by this. I didn’t want to have firearms in the house. I told my old standby about when I was working with that boss and I was supposed to carry a firearm and he asked why I wasn’t. I explained and he asked “what would you do if we were held up somewhere”? I replied that I would rely on the force of my own personality. But no-one seemed to think that that was funny. I explained to my brother “the tea’s here, the tea’s there, there’s something here, there’s something there. Make your own tea”. He pulled a face and started to complain. I said “it won’t take long. Even if you put a potato in the microwave it only takes 5 minutes”. I collected what I had to take and I had to take the dog for a walk with me. There were 2 or 3 dogs and I kept on getting the wrong dog. I knew which dog it should be that I should be taking but I kept on being confused. Eventually I sorted it out with the help of someone and a little girl said that she would come with me for the walk. We set out and walked down the street straight into a police barrage. Of course I’d forgotten to fill in my form – it was after 18:00. Luckily I had the dog with me so I said to this policeman “I’m taking the dog for a walk but I’ve forgotten all about the curfew” so he smiled and let me go. This was where I met up with this guy and these 2 women. We talked about places where we had worked, the humour and the acronyms that we had made up, like Work Experience on Employers Premises which made WEEP which is of course what people did who were on the scheme when they received their pay. I said that there were 3 places where I’d worked which had been the most humorous and had the most sense of humour, Crewe, Stockport and Stoke on Trent, and then only half of Crewe.

By now it was shower time, following which it was time to make an early start for the shops.

Nothing of any interest in NOZ but they had a pile of different varieties of canned drinks so I bought a selection. I like to vary my diet as often as I can, and NOZ is the place to do that because they sell all kinds of end-of-range stuff and bankrupt stock from all over Europe and even North Africa at times and quite often there’s some interesting stuff that I don’t normally see.

LeClerc had another pile of fresh veg on offer. 2kg of potatoes at €1:16, 2 heads of broccoli at €0:99 and two bell peppers at €0:99 will do me nicely. Some of the broccoli I’ll blanch and freeze tomorrow as I won’t be able to eat it all at one go.

3kg of carrots at €1:60 was quite tempting too but there simply isn’t enough room in the freezer for that.

Back here I made my hot chocolate and cut a slice of sourdough fruit loaf then I came in here to wade through a pile of e-mails and I managed to file quite a few in the great waste-paper bin in the sky before I was … obliged to close my eyes for a while. 90 minutes actually, and I could have done without that.

The potato and leek soup didn’t look up to much and so that went the way of the west. I had to have sandwiches instead. Next time I’ll leave the eyes in the potatoes so it’ll see me through the week.

After lunch and my little rest, for some reason I was feeling quite productive so I bashed out another 1,0000 words about the massacre at Oradour-sur-Glane as well as updating a previous blog entry from several years ago with more stuff that I had found while researching.

Another thing that I did was in connection with something that I found while sorting through the e-mails. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I’m having issues about the Covid vaccination, or lack thereof. There was a newspaper article that I had somehow missed about “how to apply for a vaccine” which although not being of much use to me, it nevertheless gave details of a website run by the Health Authorities.

It took me about an hour of surfing through it until I found what I was looking for – “if you have any more questions not covered by our FAQ please complete this form …” and so I did, setting out my case as fully as I could.

Not that it will do any more good than what I’ve been doing so far, but any straw is good enough to clutch at because you never know what might happen. And it reminds me of the story that I heard about Fish, after he had left Marillion, made contact with Rick Wakeman and the ghost of Sandy Denny to produce an album that would be entitled “Clutching at Strawbs”.

yachts english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallIn between all of this, I broke off for my afternoon perambulation.

Earlier on, on the way back from the shops I noticed the trailer from the Nautical School parked up in the car park, and sure enough, there were several yachts sailing about offshore in the bay and in the English Channel.

The morning had been miserable, grey and overcast but it must have warmed up and cleared up quite quickly later in the morning after I had returned from the shops because it was another nice and pleasant afternoon, even if the wind has risen up yet again.

wind turbines hauteville sur mer Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThe views outside were really magnificent today and in the fine weather conditions you could see for miles.

All the way down the coast way past Hauteville sur Mer and the Sienne estuary. In fact the wind turbines at the back of Coutances are clearly visible with the naked eye.

For a change this afternoon, I went for my wander around the footpath underneath the walls instead of my usual route around the headland. It’s been ages since I’ve walked this way … “and anyone who mentions “talcum powder” is disqualified” – ed … and I was keen to see what changes (if any) there had been.

And despite the dry, sunny windy weather of the last couple of days, the path was still muddy and depressing.

people on plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere were hordes of people milling around outside today, both on the footpath and down on the beach and promenade at the Plat Gousset, all taking advantage of the unseasonal sunny weather.

In fact, thinking on, coming back from the shops this morning the roads were packed coming into town and once I’d wrestled my way out of the shopping zone I came home via the back streets to avoid the jams in the town centre.

It makes me wonder whether it’s school holiday time and all of the tourists from the Paris region have come here to their second homes and holiday bolt-holes. And that’s bad news for me because the past has shown that they bring the Covid with them and the infection rate here soars upwards.

And here I am, not able to have a vaccination.

relaying gas pipes rue st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOn the way back I went to see how they are progressing with laying the new gas pipe in the Rue St Michel.

And the answer to that question, as we expected, is “very slowly”. There doesn’t seem to be a great deal of urgency amongst the Belgian and French workforce.

Back here I had a coffee and carried on with my tasks until guitar-playing time, which was spent completely with the acoustic guitar. I have an idea of an hour’s worth of music that I can play comfortably and sing with the acoustic guitar, including, surprisingly, Fleetwood Mac’s “Behind the Mask”.

That song is not as complicated as it sounds when you first hear it. What sounds like a complicated chord arrangement can be played by just moving your fingers around the derivatives of the “A” chord. But I can’t make the lyrics fit the beats at the moment.

Anyway, I wanted to have a work through it and see how it would come out and what I can say is that it has potential. Give it a couple of years.

Tea was a burger with pasta followed by apple pie. The remainder of the apple pie will go in the freezer now until later in the week because tomorrow I’m going to make a rice pudding. If I have the oven on for the pizza I may as well make the most of it.

But I must remember to put the pudding on a tray in the oven as it has a tendency to boil over.

Thursday 14th January 2021 – JUST FOR A …

storm waves plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall… change, I managed to beat the third alarm again this morning.

Well, to be honest, I didn’t. When it started up I was still in bed but I was on the point of hauling myself out of my stinking pit at that moment, and I was out of bed like a ferret up a trouser leg.

Mind you, to be perfectly honest I would have given all that I had to have been able to go back to bed and back to sleep because I didn’t feel like it at all today. It wasn’t a good start to the day at all.

storm waves plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThe orange kefir has calmed down enough to drink now, so I took my medication with that this morning. And it is delicious, I do have to say that. It’s a good batch.

And then I came back in here to check the dictaphone. That was one of the things that I promised yesterday that I would do first thing. And indeed there were several files recorded on there so I sat down to have a listen and to transcribe them.

There was one for yesterday and one for the day before and they are now on-line where they ought to be. But don’t worry – there was nothing exciting which is a shame. And no interesting companions, which is even worse.

storm waves plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall The ones from today weren’t any more exciting either.

We started off on a ferry – one of these boats with cabins. I’d designed a pile of furniture and fitted it into these rooms – cabins the previous year. Some kind of incident had taken place between me and a girl. This year I had to design the same cabins and a similar kind of furniture but the measurements were completely different. When everything was laid out in the room it looked fine, OK, but the measurements were different. People crowded in to see what was happening. The guy in charge asked me what I thought about it so I told him. He told me what he thought, that it was very good, that sort of thing but when I mentioned “of course the measurements aren’t the same, are they? I’d like to know why there is the difference. He made a remark about “all the youngsters of today, they aren’t the same as in the past”. I could see that that was some kind of barbed comment. We were making all kinds of barbed comments about this and he even had some kind of winch thing to compress the furniture to see if it would fit any better.

storm waves plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallHe then asked if I would be interested in taking the cabin. Of course I was going to hold out for the old measurements, the stuff that I had designed for last year but my partner said something about “we’ll take the bed It’s a lovely diesel-powered bed”, all of this but I was trying to get whoever it was to keep quiet about this because I wanted to solve this problem first but this was knowingly aiding this other guy in dealing with this year’s issues and not the issues that I wanted dealing with last year about this girl – that was it (what was? Which girl?). There had been a disco on board and he was posting all the photos of the New Year’s disco. For some reason I hadn’t gone – whether I hadn’t been invited I don’t know but I’d been scanning these photos to see whether this girl was on there but I couldn’t see her on there so I was wondering whether she had gone or not.

And I wish that I knew who she was.

storm waves plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallLater on, there was a question of winning an Audi car in a competition but I had undone the wrong tin and got the wrong food in this so I’d put the stuff somewhere like under the bed or under the pillow in the hope that no-one would notice it and we’d carry on that I might qualify to win this car. I’m not sure if anyone had noticed but a TV presenter had started to make all kinds of cracks about Covid as if he knew that I had some kind of guilty secret about it and he was grinding the axe in me, making me suffer instead of minding these Series 19 Brush locomotives which was what I wanted to do in the first place.

And I don’t know what all that was about either, to be honest.

trawler baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallLater on, I had a shower and a general clean-up, then grabbing my shopping bag, I headed out into the street for my Thursday shop at LIDL.

And if you thought that the weather had been bad just recently, it had absolutely nothing on what was going on this morning. One glance at the rough seas engulfing that trawler out there would give you a clue as to what the weather was doing.

We’ve had winds, and we’ve had more winds, but this morning’s winds were more than we have had for quite a while.

trawler port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAt first, I wasn’t sure what the ship was that I had seen, so I waited for it to pull into the harbour.

Now that I can see it closer up, I can recognise it as one that’s been in the harbour before, but I can’t think of her name right now. And in the background is the new trawler Le Pearl.

You’ll notice the red light illuminated at the harbour gate too. It started to flash just as our trawler came in and once it was safely in, the gates closed right behind it. Perfect timing, I would say.

Calling at the Post Office to post a letter, I pushed on along my way out of town.

There were a few things of interest that I bought in LIDL but I’m not going to say too much about them right now as it’s something for the future. But I bought my fruit and so on and then headed for home.

On the way back, I stopped off to try out their new cheque paying-in machine. All straightforward and easy once you know what to do.

bad parking rue des juifs Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that pathetic parking takes up a lot of room o these pages – so much so that you are probably as fed up of reading about it as I am of writing about it.

But sometimes, something happens that leaps out at you and you can’t pass it by – like this little incident here. On the left of where this delivery van is parked is a special parking bay reserved for deliveries and it happens to be empty right now. But our hero has parked alongside the loading bay, in the street, right next to a bollard, something that prevents anyone behind him from driving past

You really can’t make up things like this.

heavy industrial equipment place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnyway, I pushed on up the road, not feeling anything like it at all, until I reached my building.

And here, I had something of a surprise. We have visitors in the square. A few huge earth-moving machines are parked up in the car park of the building across the road. It looks as if we are going to be having some major work done somewhere in the vicinity in the very near future.

No doubt we shall find out more about this in the near future.

Back here, I didn’t even have time to unload the shopping before I sat down and promptly dozed off. These walks, loaded up with shopping, are killing me at the moment but I need to do it. But eventually I recovered and was able to drink my cold chocolate and eat my slice of fruit sourdough.

At lunch I used the last of my bread so I need to make another loaf pretty soon, and then I came in here to carry on with the arrears of work. I’m still at the Chateau Gaillard but we’ve reached the period of the Religious Wars right now, so not very much to do.

person in water in wet suit place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere was of course the afternoon walk. And even though by now it was raining, I was determined to go out and stretch my legs even more.

But not quite like this person is doing right now. In this wind you are not going to get me anywhere near the water’s edge, not even dressed in what appears to be a wetsuit. He’s a braver man than I am, Gunga Din.

Instead, I wandered off along the footpath on top of the cliffs, battling against the raging storm and the rain.

sunset baie de mont st michel brittany coast Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAcross the lawn and across the car park by the lighthouse and then down to the headland to catch the full force of the gale.

The weather was comparatively clear today, and for once you could see the Brittany coast and just about make out the church of Cancale on the cliffs across the bay. There was another nice sunset – although it’s not really a sunset right now – out there in the middle of the bay with the rays of sun shining through the gaps in the clouds and illuminating the water.

It’s a shame that the weather was so bad, but then again we wouldn’t have had the effect if the weather had been different.

peche a pied pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThe weather might indeed have been bad, but it wasn’t bad enough to put off these two people here down below where I’m standing.

As usual, there is always someone somewhere doing the peche à pied – the scavenging amongst the rocks for the shellfish. This are is quite famous for its shellfish, as you have probably gathered from the number of boats that go out from here and the number of people that we see on occasion when there’s a huge tidal coefficient.

There are always people going around armed with their gratter and bucket.

joker fishing boat trawler chantier navale port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallFrom there I wandered off along the path on top of the cliffs on the other side of the headland.

This path takes me to the viewpoint overlooking the chantier navale and I always like to look down to see what’s going on there. And we have a change of occupant as well today. The yacht that has been there for ever is still there, as are the trawler and Joker, the blue and white shellfish boat.

But there’s a nw visitor in there today – the little silver and grey shellfish boat that has come to join in the fun.

unloading heavy equipment place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallHaving admired the boats back at the chantier navale I headed off for home, to find myself confronted by yet more machinery.

This low-loader has just dropped off a little mini-digger. And seeing that there were a few guys hanging around I went to ask them what was going on.

There’s a street near here called the Rue St Michel and for the last 2 weeks it’s been covered with all kinds of multi-coloured hieroglyphics. It seems that some of those markings indicate a gas pipe, and these guys have come to dig it up and replace it.

Back here I carried on with my arrears and then broke off for my hour on the guitars, which I didn’t enjoy because I discovered that I seem to have lost my voice today, something that will please my neighbours mightily.

storm waves plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBy the time that I went out for my evening walk the rain had stopped and we were treated to just the hurricane-force winds that made it difficult to run.

But at least the sea was enjoying the weather. You’ve already seen several photos that I’ve taken showing the waves coming crashing over the sea wall at the Plat Gousset with such incredible force. And I have to admit that I enjoyed the view as well – in fact I stayed there for a good few minutes watching them.

But I can’t stay there for ever. I ran off across the Square Maurice Marland in the direction of home.

gas pipe fitting repairing rue st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOn my way home, I go past a little alley that leads down to the Rue t Michel, a dead-end street of old stone houses in the old Medieval town.

In the past I’ve wandered down it a couple of times but I’ve never taken a photo of what’s going on because it’s usually too dark. But tonight, taking my time, I managed to take a rather respectable photo of the end of the street. You can see all of the fencing that they are presumably going to put around the hole that they dig.

You can also see the crazy markings on the surface too but unfortunately, you can’t see the mini-digger, because that’s right behind where I’m standing.

trawler fish processing plant port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallThe little alleyway continues on to the old Medieval walls and so I went that way for a change.

From there I walked along the walls to the viewpoint overlooking the harbour where there is the really good view over the Fish Processing Plant. Quite a few of the fishing boats are still out fishing so the plant is open with people working there, a refrigerated lorry in the loading bay and a couple of vans on the car park.

And there’s a trawler moored up there too unloading even as we speak

trawler fishing boats port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut some of the trawlers are already in, moored up at the quayside. And I’m not really sure if they are parking up or preparing to go out, with their lights ablaze like that.

Braving the wind and rain, I ran on home for my tea. With the leftover stuffing from Tuesday, I added a small tin of kidney beans and made myself taco rolls with rice, followed by another wedge of jam pie with soya coconut sauce.

Tons of stuff to write out again today so t’s going to be another late night by the looks of things. And what with an early start, I’ll end up looking and feeling like death. At least I don’t have to go anywhere tomorrow.