Tag Archives: Roxanne

Sunday 6th March 2022 – REGULAR READERS OF …

… this rubbish will recall that over the last God-knows-how-many months, they have been repairing the medieval city walls at the Place du Marché aux Chevaux.

repairing medieval city walls place du marché aux chevaux Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022It’s been a while since I’ve been round that way to see how they have been doing and so I reckoned that I’d go that way this afternoon for a closer look

The big hole that was there in the wall has now been filled and it’s been quite an effort to do it. Mid you, I can’t say that I’m impressed with the lintel made of old stone blocks that they have fitted. It’s not really in keeping with the rest of the wall.

And there’s still plenty to do just there as well. There are plenty of gaps where either stone or mortar has fallen out as you can see and it all needs to be replaced. That will take them quite some time to do it properly.

parvis notre dame de cap lihou Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022What is interesting in this photo of the Parvis Notre Dame is what ISN’T there.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that for the last two and a half years there has been a small American car with American number-plates parked just there.

But it’s not there now. The ground’s all flat. It looks as if the Council has lost patience and has towed it away.

It was an interesting curiosity though. There must have been a good story behind the car being parked there and I would have loved to have known what it was.

Talking of good stories … “well, one of us is” – ed … there were plenty of good stories on the dictaphone from last night, as I found out when I listened to them this afternoon.

When I awoke the first time in the morning I was having some kind of wrestling match with that Jacqueline “cuddly doll” thing that I have on my friends list whatever, you know what I mean. And if you really do know what I mean, please tell me for I don’t have a faintest idea.

And then there was something about a Siamese cat but I can’t remember what that was.

There was also something about being in Shavington. There was the parish newspaper advertising things. The latest thing was about two new businesses in Wistaston and two in Shavington wo we decided that we’d go to Wistaston to see them. When we reached Wistaston there was something going on about a poacher on someone’s land. This led to the owner of the petrol station literally dragging in a boy about 9 or 10 and accusing him of poaching. Of course the young lad denied it but the garage proprietor took a sawn-off shotgun and stuck the barrels under his chin and told him to confess or else he’d regret it. This led to a struggle just as a girl of a similar age was walking in. She got both barrels in the face and of course she was dead. The garage proprietor was trying to argue that the shotgun was nothing to do with him and that the others had brought it. This was extremely distressing.

There was a King of England in medieval times who had 2 daughters. One was a healthy, normal child and the other one was weak and sickly. They had tried several things to build up this weak, sickly child into a normal one but nothing had worked. In the end they marginalised her at court. she was somehow involved in a torture chamber. She wasn’t the one being tortured but was kept there. They had to think of things to do with her that could bring about her death without actually bringing it about. Suddenly she had this idea that maybe she ought to eat butter. Of course she pretended that she didn’t like it and that it was going to kill her so they brought it to her but it actually built up her strength. The other daughter and one of her friends were playing around and the other had somehow come to join them in the garden and was playing around too, running around and looking quite healthy etc. When the Queen came out she knighted or whatever the girl and her friend and seeing the other girl who had been sick she knighted her as well because she was so pleased to see her running around. When she became 14 they found her a husband in France and packed her off over there. everyone knew including the girl herself that because of her illness, her body was riddled with illness she wouldn’t live very long but she put a brave face on it and went to live away from her family for the rest of her life, which would be very short.

There was a King and Queen. The King reminded me very much of my niece’s husband. They had had a huge, blazing row and the Queen was leaving. My Opel Senator was in the garage and she insisted that we leave on that. The King had wandered off somewhere so I had to put the car back together again. I could only find one of the spark plugs and I knew that not only did I have another handful of new ones there was a load of old ones in the boot. I emptied the boot out to try to find these missing spark plugs but I couldn’t find them anywhere. Someone wondered whether the king had taken them away to stop his wife leaving. I carried on searching in all kinds of nooks and crannies. Just then an old merceded van pulled up. It was someone from down the road and he asked what was going on. I explained that I wanted to have this car runnign but I’d lost a load of parts. he was someone who actually worked for the RAC or AA on call-out. He said that he was bound to have all of the bits so he would call back after he’d finished this breakdown he was on and come and do the job for us. That seemed like the best alternative but in the meantime I carried on searching. Someone said something about the King had filed away the threads on a couple of plug holes so you had to put the plugs in anti-clockwise. Another car pulled up. i was a couple of people who lived in the neighbourhood who asked if we had a problem so I explained. I forgot to say that the guy had looked in the car at the luggage and said “you’re going a long way, aren’t you?”. Anyway these people in the other car stopped and were chatting away, all of them, and someone called me over so I went to see. She asked “do we have such-and-such a track?”. I replied “no” so she said “you ought to listen to it because it’s all about cars”.

I was also with Nerina last night, and Roxanne who was our daughter. We’d gone to Montréal but it wasn’t any particular Montréal that I knew. We were wandering around and were due to come home so we’d hired a car to go for a drive around and to collect all of our luggage etc. We’d stopped off at this little street café to have breakfast and we went inside. The woman was very friendly and kept on plying us with different foods to try. In the end she gave us a huge bag of Québecaois hot-cross buns. She asked Roxanne a few questions and she replied in Flemish which confused the woman so I told Roxanne that the woman doesn’t speak Flemish but French. The woman was surprised at all of the languages we were speaking. While I was finishing my breakfast Nerina had to go to buy something to do with putting air in the tyres. She asked the lady and again there was some confusion about the language so Nerina turned to me and asked me to translate. She was speaking Welsh so I translated into English and Nerina was able to have some directions about where to go while I finished my coffee and hot cross buns. We’d planned our final meal. Nerina was wondering where we’d go to eat so I suggested that little Indian restaurant at the Côtes des Neige … “he means “Côte Vertu” – ed …, that tiny place. She said “that would be a wonderful idea”. I’d told her that it was a tiny place and how good it was and I’d been there before in Montréal.

Finally I was at home and wanted to go out for some lunch so my brother asked why not go round to his place for some satsumas but not tell anyone. Round I went but he was serving a customer so he introduced me. I picked up a few things and went outside. I had BILL BADGERr, my old A60 van there so I got into him and started to drive home. At one point I had to turn round but the road was very busy so I had to go down into a side street, turn round at the bottom and come back up. I was reflecting about although Bill Badger was driving slowly which he always did it was a very good reliable van and how I ought to think about using it more as a regular runabout seeing as I’d owned it for over 30 years (actually, if I’d still had it today I would have owned it for 45 years and the only reason that I sold it when I did was that a rear spring broke and they were no longer available). I was talking about it must be kept MoT’d and insured otherwise the police would repossess it etc.

It was 11:10 when I awoke this morning and once I’d finished with my medication I attacked the music for the radio programme that I’ll be preparing tomorrow, pairing it off. And some of the joins are excellent. My technique seems to be improving.

After lunch I transcribed the dictaphone notes and as you can tell, it took quite a while for me to do that. And several voyages last night were extremely realistic and very hard to distinguish from a real life adventure, not that I have too many of them these days.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022By now it was time for me to go out for my afternoon walk.

As I intimated earlier, just for a change I went for a walk around the medieval city walls to see what was going on. That’s why the view of the beach at the Rue du Nord is from a different perspective today.

Despite the high wind, it was a really nice day so it was no surprise that there were crowds of people wandering around there on the sand. Not quite sunbathing, but not far off.

And that reminds me that several years ago when I was living in the Auvergne it was actually snowing quite heavily on this day.

repairing medieval city walls place du marché aux chevaux Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022A little earlier we also saw some of the repair work being undertaken on the medieval city walls.

Dodging the crowds that were coming up and down the steps between the Rue du Nord and the beach I went half-way down to the little garden place to have a closer look at what was happening.

The covering to the scaffolding means that we can’t actually see what they have been up to but one thing is sure and that is that they have plenty of work still to do before they have finished.

Back up the steps, I carried on along the path underneath the walls

people on plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022When I reached the viewpoint overlooking the Plat Gousset I took a photo of all of the people down there.

It’s relatively sheltered from the wind down there and in the sunlight it must have been quite an agreeable walk.

It would be nice for me one of these days to go down there for a walk, but the way that I am these days I would struggle to come back. Especially today. I was having a rather bad time this afternoon.

In the upper left of the photo is what looks like a gate with a stone wall around it. It is actually the entrance to the garden of the Museum Christian Dior and there is a set of steps that lead up to there from the Plat Gousset.

roadworks rue cambernon Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022Another thing that regular readers of this rubbish will recall seeing was the lorry with its trailer parked up a few days ago at the Porte st Jean.

I had a good wander around the old town but I couldn’t find out where the crew might have been working. However, the electricity installations that we have seen them doing in the Rue Cambernon are STILL going on – and on – and on.

And I suppose that one day when they have finally finished the work, someone else will come along and dig them up again.

Walking around the walls back towards home, I passed the spot where the American car used to be parked, and I couldn’t find the energy to climb up over the top of the walls to the viewpoint there.

Instead I staggered home for a coffee and then edited a few photos of my trip to the High Arctic in 2019.

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

Later on I kneaded it and rolled it out and then put it on the pizza tray to proof. And then later on when it had risen I assembled it and bunged it into the oven.

When it was cooked I sat down and ate it and it was one of the most delicious that I have made. Slightly overcooked, otherwise it would have been perfect.

So now I’m off to bed. I have a 06:00 alarm tomorrow seeing as I have a radio programme to prepare so I need to be on form. I have the physiotherapist too, the nurse coming to inject me with the Aranesp to kickstart me for my trip to Leuven, and I also must ring up to book an X-ray on my knee. I can’t leave that too long.

It’s going to be a long day.

Thursday 24th February 2022 – WHILE YOU ADMIRE …

storm waves port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022… a few photos of the storm that we had today pushing the waves up and over the sea wall in the harbour, let me tell you of a most astonishing coincidence.

My brother’s birthday is the 3rd of September, and that’s the date that World War II broke out. And it looks very much as if my birthday is the day that World War III broke out.

What fills me full of dismay is just how stupid the human race can be, seeing the damage that several World Wars have caused to the whole of the World, that it departs on another orgy of massacre and destruction.

It makes me wonder why I’m bothering having my hospital treatment. Who would want to live in a World as stupid as this one?

storm waves port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022Last night I was feeling in such a depressing mood that when I finished writing up my notes I started to listen to QUADROPHENIA by The Who.

It’s one of the best albums ever recorded and brings back many happy memories of a drive down to South London one weekend in mid-May 1974 to see The Who in concert at Charlton Athletic’s football ground.

We had my old MkI Cortina, PMB270D, a battery-powered tape player and just one cassette tape – “Quadrophenia” – and when we returned to Chester where I was living at the time the guy whose tape it was gave it to me to keep.

And I still have it too, even though I’ve long-since replaced it with a CD.

It’s an album that brings back many happy memories of that Summer and every time I hear it, it brings back a bad attack of nostalgia.

storm waves port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022And hence, having listened to it round and round, it was almost 02:00 when I fell into bed to go to sleep.

Once I dozed off I went off on a series of probably the most extraordinary journeys that I have had for quite some considerable time.

The start was a long, rambling dream that I had but I can only remember when we were on board ship. I was making breakfast for these two girls – it was muesli and two teacakes. For some unknown reason the teacakes just wouldn’t toast. They were taking all day. In between I was doing a couple of other things. For some reason, one of those things took far longer than it ought to be done. I suddenly remembered the teacakes just as someone else said something about them so I dashed back to the galley and they were there under the grill but they were on fire. Everyone was really surprised and concerned by this but bread catching fire under a grill when you are toasting it is no big deal. J simply pulled them out with a pair of scissors and put some new ones under. But for some unknown reason this seemed to develop into some kind of major situation and there was no need for it at all

storm waves port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022But there was someone else. I can’t remember now where I was but I was with someone else. There were lots of pets around. For some unknown reason they had a lion as a pet. It was in a room with me and someone else . It was being rather playful, trying to nip me. Then I could see that it was starting to lose its playfulness and the nips started to become more serious. I kept on pushing the animal away but it kept on coming back. In the end I had to insist to someone that they came along and removed it because I could see that this was going to end in tears if we weren’t careful.

And then we had something involving trams. There was some question that I was coming home from work, something like that, and I’d met these 3 girls. 2 of them I knew and the other one I didn’t. I found the 3rd one quite attractive so I wanted to get to know her better. As it happened they reached the tram stop at more-or-less the same time that I was walking back from work so we started to chat as a group of 4, these 3 girls and me. I suppose that it must have become pretty obvious to the other 2 exactly what I was up to. The thing that surprised me most though was that I was coming back from work and I’d been working on cars. I was in oily clothes and had oily hands. I was hardly the kind of boy that would be respectable but it didn’t bother these 3 girls at all. On one occasion I reached the tram stop just as they were alighting but the girl whom I liked and one of the others alighted so I waved “hello” but they disappeared off. I wondered what on earth was happening here. The 2nd girl came over and said “don’t worry about those 2. They’ve just nipped back to (I think her name was Jane, this 3rd girl) they’ve just nipped back to Jane’s house so that she can fetch her cloak and they’ll be back. Something came up about the address. It was “Toxteth Road” and I was trying to think why I knew about Toxteth Road and why it seemed to be so significant about this particular moment.

storm waves port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022I’m trying to think where I reached with this because it might be that I stepped back into the same dream or else I’ve remembered something different. There was one occasion when I was on my way back home. I was coming in a different way past this tram stop so I went to sit somewhere below it where I could see them alight. I couldn’t find a good spec to sit where I could survey the tram stop. I ended up in the square sitting on a plastic chair where I could see the tram stop about 22 metres away. At that moment someone else whom I vaguely knew turned up. We started chatting and I basically explained that I was waiting here for someone and we carried on talking for a while. Suddenly I realised that the girls hadn’t turned up. I happened to mention it to him and he said “to be honest, they know other people and there’s someone who hangs around that girl who is 55 and they go round there some times. You’ll probably find it extremely difficult to move him out of this girl’s orbit”. I burst out laughing and said “I can’t even get a girl in a bloody dream, can I?”. His ears pricked up and asked “what’s all this about dreams?”. I explained that this was a dream, that I was very interested in dreams and I’d been keeping records of my dreams since that University course 25 years ago when I volunteered to be a guinea pig for the experiment. He was most interested and we had quite a chat about that. But imagine being in a dream and knowing that it’s a dream and talking to someone about it being a dream when one is actually in a dream oneself and being able to recall so much factual information out of one’s subconscious when one is in a subconscious state.

Unbelievably, I stepped back into this dream yet again later on, and how many times have I ever done this before – the same circumstances and characters three times?. Not very many at all, if any. This time we were all in a house, this girl included. She was sorting through some things and on her rubber dinghy she had some paddles. She needed some stuff to clean them. She’d seen across the road in the distance a marine supplier’s so I suggested that we went. We collected our things together but as it was rather cold I went to find my leather jacket. I couldn’t find it, and the cats weren’t sleeping on it so “never mind, I’ll go without”. The 2 of us set off outside and I took hold of her hand and she took hold of mine. We skipped off down the street and across the main road to the other side. She was saying something about if her friends saw her like this with me, what would they think?. I burst out laughing and said “oh just tell them that I’m a dirty old man but I have plenty of money”. She said “dirty? You do wash, do you?” and I replied “ohh yes, on special occasions” and we skipped across the road and skipped up the steps and we saw the sign that said “marine market” and skipped off that way.

And do you know what? That was the happiest that I have ever been for an extremely considerable period of time, probably about for ever in fact, and it was a shame that it actually happened in a dream and not in real life. I should be so lucky. There’s definitely something missing in my life, something that I will never ever recapture – except maybe once a couple of years ago, but the World is not ready to hear that story quite yet.

Finally, I was with Laurence and Roxanne. We were in some country like the Soviet Union, somewhere like that, and we had to go north to a town called Brest (not, presumably the Brest-Litovsk that’s on the border with Poland). We ended up at a railway station quite late at night. There was a large queue so Laurence told Roxanne to stand in the queue until it reached the front. When it did, she went to take over and came back with a pile of tickets. She siad that there was a return ticket for Roxanne but we only have two single tickets. We ended up in a hotel somewhere, a cheap hotel that wasn’t too bad. The next morning we had to pack but there was tons of stuff to pack so it was good that we had some expanding rucksacks but even so there was still quite a struggle. I couldn’t find Laurence. I heard some noise outside the room so I went and found her scrubbing the floor of the corridor. I asked why and she said “you have to make the place tidy when you go”. I replied “yes, tidy is one thing but it looks as if you are working here”. We were arranging all our things. I remembered that when we had set out on this journey there had been quite a few of us and I was ready to go but everyone else wasn’t. It took until really late at night for them to prepare themselves to leave and half of them weren’t ready even then and had to go next morning to buy some stuff while we were away. All in all it was a thing of total chaos, this particular trip. If we had all been properly organised when we set out, none of this would have happened.

When Rosemary had telephoned me yesterday, she said that she would phone me today to wish me a happy birthday. “Not too early” I said and so, sure enough, at 09:15 she phoned me up.

Anyone who rings me up at that time of morning when I’m having a lie-in will hear nothing but a series of grunts and so I’m afraid that the conversation didn’t last very long.

However there was no possibility of my going back to sleep after that no matter how hard I tried. And I did try too – all the way up to 10:50 when I finally abandoned the idea and crawled out of bed.

After the medication the rest of the morning (and a little of the afternoon too) was spent transcribing the dictaphone notes. I’m not sure that there has ever been a night when I’ve travelled so far and with so much emotion.

No breakfast this morning so I had a brunch this afternoon, porridge and toast with plenty of coffee. And then much of the rest of the afternoon was spent acknowledging messages and speaking to Ingrid on the phone who rang me back to send me some birthday greetings

storm beach rue du nord baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022And then I went off for my afternoon walk.

Yesterday I made the point that the gale-force wind that we have been having for the last while seemed to have died down. And how I wish that I’d kept my moth closed as the wind was back today, and with a vengeance as well.

You can tell that just by looking at the sea out here in the Baie de Granville. We didn’t even see waves like that at the height of Storm Useless. It was no surprise that there was no-one down there this afternoon, despite the sun.

trawler ile de chausey baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022However, having a look around out at sea, I was surprised to see that there was a trawler out there just off the Ile de Chausey.

When Storm Useless was blowing, all of the fishing boats remained in harbour, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, but today the winds were stronger and the waves were rougher than they were back then but nevertheless here we are.

We’ve seen a trawler out there for the last few days and although I couldn’t identify it, this one is certainly a different one than whoever was out there before.

And to take this photo, I had to find a suitable wall on which to prop the NIKON D500 because the wind was wobbling it around in my hands.

waves rocks marker light pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022Yesterday, I posted a photo of the marker light on the rock just offshore here.

Today, I’m rather earlier than I was yesterday and so you can see the difference in the height of the water even over such a short space of time. As I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … we have some of the highest tides in Europe.

There wasn’t anyone else out there this afternoon and that’s no surprise because the wind was wicked out here. At one point I was having to walk crab-like along the path in order to advance, and when the wind suddenly dropped for a moment I almost ended up over the cliff.

storm le loup baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022As I reached the lighthouse I had a look over the car park to see what was happening in the Baie de Mont St Michel.

Sometimes the bay over there is in the wind shadow where the waves are quite calm, but not today. Le Loup, the light on the rock at the entrance to the harbour is being battered by the wind and waves this afternoon.

Round the corner actually in the bay the situation was even worse as you have already seen, with the waves slamming into the sea wall. I wasn’t going to hang around spending too long watching and so I headed home in the wind.

Back here, no coffee. I’ve already had too much of that today. But my coffee cake really was delicious. I can’t believe that I’ve actually made a cake that has come out as well as this – a vegan cake with no eggs in it either.

Tea tonight was a slice of pie with potatoes, vegetables and gravy. And that was really delicious. I cut it into 8 slices and the other 7 are in the freezer – for once there was actually some room in there. The filling wasn’t up to much because it was a rather ad-hoc mixture but I’ll do better than this when I prepare one properly instead of dragging something unknown out of the freezer.

So that’s that. I’m going to bed very soon ready to restart tomorrow. If there is a tomorrow. We are living in very worrying times, for all kinds of reasons. But another journey tonight like that one last night and I’ll feel so much better. I wish I knew who she was.

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.

Thursday 25th March 2021 – WHAT A HORRIBLE …

… night that was!

demolition st pieters hospital brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric Hall… while you admire the photos of the roadworks and demolitions that we have been following over the last few years, I’ll tell you all about it.

And if you want to know more about the photos as you pass by them, click on the image aside and a new window will open up with an enlarged photo and a caption.

But I spent most if not all of the night battling with cramp. I’ve had some bad nights just recently with cramp, and some worse nights too, but none were as bad as last night’s attacks.

demolition st pieters hospital brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric HallIn fact, even when it started to grow light I was still awake in agony having already hopped around the rom to free everything off at least half a dozen times

When the alarm went off I was in no condition to leave the bed and in fact i totally ignored all of the alarms. Instead, I stayed in bed until about 08:20 and it’s been a while since I’ve done that in the week.

But at least I managed to drift off to sleep at some point and I even managed to go off on my travels. And that reminds me – if you missed last night’s voyages they are on-line now too

sint Jacobsplein leuven belgium Eric HallGreenock Morton were playing in a football match last night and were attacking the opponents’ goal. The team that they were playing had a couple of old Morton players in it like Gregor Buchanan. They were attacking the goal and they should have scored three or four in this one particular movement. They were trying to force the ball over the line. One of the Morton players even managed to lift it over the bar from standing on the goal line, there were that many bodies in the way and he had to get the ball over them. Interesting though was that all of the players were just like wraiths, something that made me wonder if the opponents were not in fact Wraith Rovers, just a ghostly outline rather than actual real players whom I could see. I remember shouting encouragement from the terraces but funnily enough I was the only person doing it and it sounded terribly embarrassing

biezenstraat leuven belgium Eric HallLater on there was a roundabout that had been built by Crewe and on this roundabout heading towards the town was my former friend from Stoke on Trent on a motorbike carrying a 5-gallon container of diesel. I was going the other way on a motorbike. Behind him on my old Honda Melody was Zero. She was only about 10 but she was riding this Honda Melody. I pulled up alongside the guy and we started to have a bit of a chat. The girl said “look here!” and she went off on this motor bike, did a couple of sliding turns, came back and slid to a halt. The bike toppled over and she got off and came to sit in between the two of us, telling us all about riding her motor bike. I asked “have you been taking Strawberry Moose out for a ride?”. she replied “yes”. The guy was saying that she’d held him tight while driving. She replied “ohh no! He’s been for a ride with me properly on it”.

And that brought back many happy memories of when I was living with Laurence and 8 year-old Roxanne 20-odd years ago and I taught Roxanne to ride the Melody

Sint-Hubertusstraat Leuven belgium Eric HallComing downstairs was something of a stagger.

My knee was certainly better but it wasn’t that good and I still couldn’t put too much weight on it and I needed to grip onto something to haul myself up into a standing position.

But I did eventually reach the ground floor and I attacked the dictaphone to see where I’d been during last night and the night before. And to my surprise, I had travelled quite far as you have probably noticed if you’ve read all of my notes.

monseigneur vanwaeyenberghlaan leuven belgium Eric HallLater on, I took my courage in both hands and limped off down to the supermarket.

The Delhaize rather than the Carrefour because it was closer and I wasn’t up to going the extra distance. But I did what shopping I needed to do and staggered back.

Despite my injury and despite the load that I was carrying I made it back without too much of a problem, and then made myself some toast for a rather late breakfast.

There was time for a shower and some clothes washing, and then I headed off to the hospital.

It was a depressing walk down to the town because I really wasn’t feeling like it but I did it all the same.

photographer taking photos grote markt leuven belgique Eric HallAs I passed through the Grote Markt I stumbled upon a young photgrapher doing her stuff.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, another one of the regular features on these pages is photographers taking photos. There’s usually one or two appearing every now and again.

Having seen that, I carried on with my walk past all of the building work that has been going on over the last couple of years that is progressing rather too slowly for my liking.

new pipework near the herestraat leuven belgium Eric HallUp at the hospital there was yet more excitement.

It was not easy to see what they were doing but they had a digger out there digging a trench along by the lagoon over there and they have a great long length of large-diameter rubber pipe that I imagine that they will drop into the trench when they have done it.

But as to its purpose, I’ve no idea. And the guys were too far away to ask.

At the hospital I had a Covid-test and then they could treat me for my illness. The wired me up and plugged me in and gave me my intravenous drip.

The doctor came to see me and I told her about my “incident” yesterday and all of the cramps that I’ve been having.

As for the fall, there is no damage and all of the muscles and ligaments are working fine. As for the cramps, she doesn’t think that they are cramps but what her translation from the Flemish was “wandering leg” – she didn’t know its precise English translation and I didn’t understand the Flemish.

Anyway, she’s prescribed me a pill that will ease the cramps and help me have a decent sleep. It takes a while to work so I won’t see the results for a couple of weeks.

Kaatje came to see me too and we had quite a chat. She told me about her holiday plans for a cycling tour with her friends. When she came into my room I was listening to COLOSSEUM LIVE – one of the top five live albums ever and which always brings back memories of the High Arctic and THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR

She asked me about it and I told her that it dated from 1973. “I wasn’t even born then” she replied. I keep on forgetting how old I am, although the events of yesterday and today have aged me by 20 years.

The doctor came back with my test results – blood count down to 8.9 which is no great surprise is it? And then I cleared off to pick up my medication.

herestraat leuven belgium Eric HallOutside the hospital there was a bright blue sky but some really filthy dark black clouds.

This was creating some really strange lighting effects so I took a photo of it. Unfortunately the camera was not able to reproduce the effect which is rather a disappointment so you’ll just have to imagine it.

But at least, the photo from this angle gives you an idea of how far out of town the hospital is and how far I have to walk to come here. As an aside, having gone to the shops this morning as well I’m now on 191% of my daily total according to my fitbit and that’s impressive for someone with a damaged knee.

monseigneur vanwaeyenberghlaan leuven belgium Eric HallOver the last couple of years we’ve been watching the slow rebuilding of the Monseignur Van Waeyenberghlaan and you have already seen the work that they have been doing.

The upper end of the avenue is now complete and the traffic is now able to circulate around there too part of the way down.

People on foot are able to circulate down there too so I continued on my way down the avenue and back towards town. In an hour’s time I would be meeting Alison for a chat and a coffee.

demolition kapucijnenvoer leuven belgium Eric HallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall having seen the demolition of St Pieter’s Hospital, and I posted two new photos earlier.

The demolition work has also been taking place around the back so I went to see how they were doing with that little lot.

Whatever it is that they were demolishing, they have now demolished it and the rebuilding has started. That looks as if it might be a subterranean car park down there and to the left there’s a piledriver that will be sinking the foundations of whatever will be going on top.

Alison and I had a good chat and a little wander around and then we went back to the car park underneath the Ladeuzeplein.

crowds monseigneur ladeuzeplein leuven belgium Eric HallBelgium temporarily relaxed its Covid restrictions a couple of days ago but now they are retightening them again.

There were plenty of people out and about making most of the warm weather and the end of the relaxed restrictions and they were having a little party on the Ladeuzeplein.

Just for a change, it seemed that social distancing was being respected. In fact we saw several stewards who were presumably enforcing them. And as we watched, a police car pulled onto the square and drove around to make its presence felt.

university library monseigneur ladeuzeplein leuven Eric HallThere was a really fine night tonight and I’m not surprised that so many people were out there.

The moon that was shining up above the University Library was particularly splendid. It was just the kind of thing that was crying out for a photograph so I obliged, even if the NIKON 1 J5 is not the most ideal camera for this kind of thing.

We picked up Alison’s car and she drove us back here to my little place. With not having had a coffee while we were out, I made one here and we had a nice long chat. And then I accompanied her to her car.

After she left I wrote up my notes of the day’s activities and now I’m off to bed. I’ll try one of these new pills to see where they gat me. No alarm in the morning – I’m going to have a nice lie-in. I always feel a little groggy after my treatment and the rest does me good.

Sunday 21st February 2021 – THAT GINGER BEER …

… that i made the other day isn’t ‘arf fiery stuff! I tried half a glass of i this evening while I was making my pizza and it almost blew off my head. It tastes just like shop-bought stuff and I’ll be making more of this when I return from Leuven, that’s for sure.

Definitely a success, that it!

What else was a success today? We can start by talking about the 8GB Acer laptop that I bought about 3 years ago and which the hard-drive failed 2 days after the guarantee expired. I’d had a look at this a while back and found that the hard drive is relatively accessible.

Consequently this afternoon, I fitted the second of the Solid State Drives into that. And not only is it working fine except for the touchpad (so I’m using an external mouse for now) I’m actually using that machine to type out my notes for today.

In fact, it was such a straightforward operation that I have made an executive decision. And an executive decision is, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, one where if it goes wrong, the person who made the decision is executed.

The third little Acer laptop, the one that accompanied me on my travels everywhere for five years until it died on me in North Dakota in 2019, is basically a functioning unit. Everything works fine on it except the hard drive. Unfortunately, it’s like most modern laptops, assembled upside-down with the motherboard on the bottom so you can’t access the hard drive (or the memory) from underneath.

So when I’ve finished my radio work, I’m going to take off the bottom and have a go at taking out the motherboard. If it’ll come out, I’m going to take the Solid State Drive that I installed in the second little Acer laptop and if I can, fit it into the third one. And if the memory that I upgraded is compatible too, I’ll fit that in as well.

If I make a dog’s breakfast out of it, I can salvage the keyboard at least and fit it into the second.

Last night I had one of the best sleeps that I’ve had for ages. I awoke at round about 08:00 having been flat out for almost 9 hours. But that’s not good enough for me. I turned over and went back to sleep. 11:05 when I finally surfaced and that’s good enough for me.

After the medication, I had a listen of the dictaphone.

I was living with Laurence and Roxanne and working at the Auchan supermarket in Lille last night. Roxanne and Laurence were goign somewhere and one of the neighbours asked if he could use the car to go into work and back. He said that he would pay so much per week for it. She asked if that was a good deal and I replied that it was. The first day came and he took it – it was a Sinclair C5. Later he phoned up and said that he had a problem so I walked into town to see it. He said that 1 or 2 of the lights were out, a side light and a brake light. I asked him what he was going to do. he said that there was someone coming to fix it. He had this thing about wanting it to be fixed so he could use it. I couldn’t understand the problem because I’ve driven cars for months without half the lights working, that kind of thing. In the end I had a look. I had a bulb with me and I tried it but that didn’t work. he had this Sinclair C5 on one side and basically wasn’t going to move until it was fixed. I walked back home and got two small 5-watt bulbs. As I started to go back I suddenly realised that one of them was a stoplight and needed a bigger bulb. I asked Laurence to get one but she started to look in all the wrong places for it. I thought that i’d better go and find it. Somewhere along the line while I was there I was talking to a girl. She came from France apparently, the Dordogne, but she was a refugee in Belgium and I have no idea where this fitted into the story.

Later on we were all in a coach. I was driving and we were talking about travel abroad, the cars on the road and how the cars on the road multiplied due to the effect of the war and European travel and so on. We were actually waiting to go to Waterloo Station with a coach load of passengers. Boris Johnson (what on earth is HE doing here?) was on the coach holding everything up so I shouted at him “Johnson, can we go yet?”. I suddenly realised that I didn’t know the way but I thought that I would do what I would usually do which was to follow the road signs into the centre of London and then follow the ones out again that I needed.

Even later on I was back working in General Accident in Manchester, and it’s been a long, long time since I’ve thought about them, isn’t it. Nerina was working in Manchester too so we used to walk to work and walk home afterwards. It didn’t take us all that long. It certainly didn’t seem like 30 miles. One particular day, I don’t know what happened but I ended up walking well ahead of her, a lot quicker than she was. I got to the office and Dave Herring was larking around a bit, I’m not quite sure why. And then his was telling disgusting jokes with Brian Horton about this and that, and probably the other too and I wasn’t really all that amused. Our office was actually a portacabin in the middle of the street and thinking on, there was no toilet or anything. I arrived early-ish and there was a whole day ahead of me and I had to think about what I was going to do if I wanted to go to the toilet, which was going to be more-than-likely during the course of the day.

And there was much more to it than this but you’re probably eating a meal right now so I’ll spare you the gory details.

The rest of the day I’ve spent dealing with the rebuilding of the laptop. It’s working fine and all of the programs that I need for travelling are now installed.

As for the data, that’s on its way. The back-up disk that I keep was in such a mess that I’ve been through, sorted out the most important files, copied it all ono a portable hard-drive and it’s currently undergoing a duplicate file deleting process.

That’s why there are no photos of my afternoon walk as yet. The USB 3.0 port on the front of the big desktop machine, whch I would ordinarily use for uploading the photos from the camera, has a portable hard drive plugged into it. How long does it take to delete 79,907 files at about 130 per minute?

But I did manage to go out and stretch my legs as usual, along with about half a million other people.

Tea was, as usual on a Sunday, a vegan pizza. One of the best that I’ve ever made, and you’ll get to see a photo of that too in due course.

So now, back to the grind and see what other damage I can do while I’m at it. I have a feeling that this is going to be a long, long night.

Saturday 13th June 2020 – I SPENT A …

baby seagull rue des juifs granville manche normandy france eric hall… fortune today in the shops.

And for a couple of good reasons too, so while you admire today’s photos of the baby seagulls, let me tell you about it.

The spending spree started in NOZ, as you might expect. But what you won’t expect is the fact that food (and drink) played only a minor part the expenditure. Some of the alcohol-free beer that I like and the last of the breaded soya fillets, together with a tiny tub of vegan ice cream.

baby seagull rue des juifs granville manche normandy france eric hallSome of the rest went on a platform on wheels.

The way things are at the moment I’m not as young as I was and heavy lifting is a problem. I have a collection of wheeled platforms and indeed at one time I made my own, but everything is, of course back in the Auvergne and it’s not much use there.

However the crowing glory was a huge pile of history books. Occasionally NOZ has a book sale and I’ve bought a few from there (I’m currently reading a book that I bought there a while back on the history of Normandy in the Middle Ages) but today was a whole pile of interesting stuff .

Right now one of my bookshelves is groaning under the weight of 7 big new volumes of French and European history, all written from a French perspective.

That lot will keep me out of mischief for a while.

baby seagull rue des juifs granville manche normandy france eric hallRound at LeClerc it was also an expensive day

But, once more, there was a very good reason for that. There’s a well-known UK frozen food manufacturer that has a large range of vegetarian products, one or two of which are vegan

It now seems that LeClerc has started to stock them and they had their products on an opening special offer of 34% off.

It’s rare to find high-quality vegan food at a reasonable price but right now there’s some room in the freezer so now there’s a pile of deep-frozen falafel and deep frozen vege-balls in there.

It wasn’t an offer that I could pass up.

Talking of passing up on thisgs, I managed to pass myself up into the kitchen before the third alarm went off this morning – something that doesn’t happen very often these days..

And no-one was more surprised than me.

So after I had my medication I came back in here to listen to the dictaphone

What a nightmare that I had last night too! I had a house on Osbourne Grove in Shavington. It had either caught alight or someone had planted a bomb in it and everything was due to happen at midnight. I was runing back there – it was nearly 3 minutes to. I got inside the house, I had to rip electrical appliances off the wall, thrown them out of the window, pick up my belongings, pick up Strawberry Moose. I could feel the time really really advancing . I was doing this faster and faster. Then I lost the way a bit and ended up in a telephone box thing – interview booth

Somewhat later on I was driving taxis last night and we were in Earle Street in Crewe where there was a taxi rank. I dunno whether there was something going on but one of the drivers whom I knew came over to me and in a kind of forceful way said “just you go and get me a packet of crisps – a packet of chips and wait for me on tha corner and give them to me when I come past. he was obviously going to do something to upset the other drivers but anyway I set off towards the chip shop round into Market Terrace. Walking down there I met Roxanne. We started talking and she was telling me about how when she was young she’d drawn a picture of her mother and made a remark about it. I said that I disagreed, so she told me about a drawing she had made of me. We had a chat about that, and she added “I had a really good imagination as a child”. Anyway I came round and I got to the fish and chip shop by this time and I was just about to walk in when the alarm went off.

It always does just as things are becoming interesting.

There was more to last night’s voyages too, but as you are all probably having your lunch or something I’l spare you the gory details.

Having dealt with the dictaphone notes I went and had a shower and a weigh-in. And while one swallow doesn’t make a summer, and it’s too early to start crowing, for a whole week now I’ve been below my target weight.

Whether I can keep it up is another thing. We’ll have to see about that but it’s encouraging.

That means that in 11 months since I had my major health scare in the USA I’ve lost 13kgs. Not a pleasant way to lose the weight but the ends justify the means.

It reminds me of the story about my wife, who proudly announced “this last two weeks I’ve lost 5kgs”
“Keep it up, dearest” I urged (I used to call her “dearest” because she was the most expensive thing I’ve ever had) “in another 26 weeks you’ll be gone completely”.

Off to the shops which I’ve already mentioned, swamped in the crowds and the traffic. The port was heaving today with the sailing school having a busy morning. Cars parked everywhere.

Back here I actually managed to unpack everything and even put some of it away without having to go and sit down. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to do that.

For lunch I had some of the baguette that I buy every Saturday and then came back in here to do some work.

And I really don’t know what happened after that. There was some work that needed doing which I started but the next thing that I remember was that it was 15:28. I must have been out like a light for 90 minutes or so and I don’t understand that at all.

Mind you, I awoke just in time for the kick-off of today’s football match – the Welsh Cup Final between Bangor City and Port Talbot Town from 2010.

Bangor City were expected to win this match at a canter and at 2-0 up after 15 minutes, it looked all over. But the Spuds stiffened up and began slowly to come into the game.

Bangor spurned a couple of good chances as the match progressed and when the Spuds pulled a goal back out of nothing after an hour, it was game on.

Astonishingly, in a frenetic end to the match, the Spuds scored an equaliser with just two minutes to go, only for Bangor to go back into the lead in injury time, to lift the Cup for the third year in succession.

But what a difference a decade makes. Bangor City were acquired by a couple of crooks (which I can safely say, having in my possession a list of their criminal convictions) whose financial manoeuvres saw the club lose its professional licence and expelled from the Premier League, and the Spuds who now play in the third tier of Welsh football

crowds on beach plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallThis was the time – about 90 minutes later than usual, for me to go for my afternoon walk.

From the viewpoint in the Rue du Nord I could see that down on the rocks and on the beach just there that the people were gathering in their masses.

When I came out of LeClerc earlier there was a torrential downpour going on and it had been pretty miserable. But now the sun had some out and brought with it the Saturday afternoon crowds

plank surfers plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallIt wasn’t just on the beaches either.

The water was pretty busy too. We had a pile of plank surfers or whatever you call that sport out there two round by the buoys that seem to be marking the end of the swimming zone for the beach at Plat Gousset.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we’ve seen them out there before. What the attraction is in that sport I really don’t know. But as long as they enjoy it, it keeps them out of mischief.

brehal plage granville manche normandy france eric hallYou probably noticed from the previous photos how beautiful the weather was looking right now. A real contrast from a few hours ago.

Over across the bay towards Bréhal Plage the colours really were magnificent and while the view into the distance wasn’t as clear as that which we saw the other day whe we saw the wind farm at the back of Coutances, it was certainly a nice sharp view over there.

It’s a shame that I can’t have a sharp view like this when the coast in the distance is clear.

crowds rue du nord granville manche normandy france eric hallBut you can see what I mean about the crowds out here this afternoon.

That’s the way that I go when I’m walking around the wall – underneath the arch and onto the path behind the outer curtain walls. That was my first running track too when I started running back in the winter, but as you can see, there’s no hope of running down there today.

You’ll notice the puddles on the path too. There was that much rain that the water hasn’t drained off. You’ll also notice that the grass is still quite brown despite the rain of the last couple of days.

crowds beach plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallSurprisingly, the beach wasn’t all that busy. I was expecting to see many more people than that down there.

No-one swimming around in the water either this afternoon either, which was another surprise. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we’ve seen swimmers in that water in all kinds of temperatures.

No-one in the tidal swimming pool which is a shame after all of the effort that they went to when they cleared it out a month ago. It’s still holding water.

crowds beach plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallSo where were all of the people then who should have been on the beach?

This is where most of them seem to be. I’m not sure what the attraction is of the rocks and the stone ramp when there’s some nice sand to sit on.

But do you notice the boy on the left-hand edge of the photo? He’s having a space-hopper ride on one of the yellow buoys that’s broken away from its mooring point.

You can see its chain behind it lying in the sand.

maserati roadworks rue notre dame granville manche normandy france eric hallMy route now took me round through the crowds in the Place Maurice Marland where I could check on my seagulls, and then towards home.

But here in the rue Notre Dame I noticed that the roadworks that they taped off yesterday have not been respected. Someone has driven through the tapes (not this car) and broken them – and now a whole stream of vehicles is passing along the road.

No wonder they have to keep on redoing them if people will drive on the cobbles before the concrete has set.

gribouille seagull place d'armes granville manche normandy france eric hallOn the way back to the apartment this view made me lauch.

Here’s Gribouille, the big ginger cat, sitting quite comfortably on his wndowsill admiring the view, taking absolutely no notice whatsoever of the seagull that’s on the windowledge just above his head.

What kind of cat is this? But then again when I was married we had four cats but there was once a mouse in the kitchen that they completely ignored.

Back here it was guitar time already so I had an hour or so on those, followed by tea again. One of my breaded soya fillets with a baked potato and vegetables. I do quite like them but they aren’t on sale in France officially.

However NOZ sells anything and everything that comes its way. I stocked up when I could and it’ll be a shame when the supplies run out.

Out for my run afterwards but I had to abort the first part of the first run.

There was a major gale blowing – a proper sou’wester. And the tall buildings on either side of the rue du Roc were funneling it straight into my face. It was hard enough to walk, and impossible to run in it.

Once I’d gone beyond the buildings on the north side I could break into a run but it was still agony.

storm at sea english channel islands jersey granville manche normandy france eric hallThe itinerant was still there, calmly reading a newspaper as I ran past him down to the clifftop.

And I could see what was going on from the top of the cliff. The strong winds that we had had had blown the storm out to sea and the eastern side of Jersey was now taking a right pasting, presumably from the same storm that we had had earlier.

Whoever might be out there in a boat right now is probably not enjoying that one little bit, I’m sure of that. It’s hardly a surprise that there’s no fishing boat in view.

jersey english channel islands granville manche normandy france eric hallHowever, one thing that can be said is that I’ve never seen Jersey looking so clear and visible so late in the evening.

With the big70-300mm LENS at full stretch I took a photo, and it’s amazing just how clear it is. We can see the tower at the entrance to the harbour which I reckon is St Helier, and on the right we can even see what looks like a church spire.

That’s not bad for 58 kilometres or so, I reckon.

fishermen resting cap lihou pointe du roc granville manche normandy france eric hallFrom there I walked off across the lawn and round to the viewpoint near the coastguard station.

Down by the Sailors’ memorial I looked down onto the rocks and noticed a cuple of guys lounging around here. Nominally fishing, as you can tell by the rods, but the lines aren’t in the water and hey don’t seem to be too interested right now.

And I don’t know why they are there because it can’t be pleasant down there in that wind.

couple resting cap lihou pointe du roc granville manche normandy france eric hallAnd they weren’t the only ones out there either.

This couple were here sitting on a bench by the old guard cabin, taking the full brunt of this sou’wester that was roaring up the bay.

Anyway, it’s none of my business, so I walked round, crossed over the road and ran on down to my first resting place, despite the crosswind.

heavy machinery fish processing plant rue du port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallThe next stage of my route takes me all the way down the Boulevard Vaufleury and round the corner at the end

While I was catching my breath I walked back to the harbour to see what was going on there. Nothing much, but our heavy equipment is still there. I’ll go for a closer look tomorrow if it’s still there.

From there I ran on round to the viewpoint at the rue du Nord, but there wasn’t anything at all of any interest happening there either so I came on home again.

Sunday tomorrow, and a lie-in too. I suppose that i’d better do some work too, seeing as I have done almost nothing today. But I’m going to make myself an apple crumble for tea, I reckon. We’ve not had one of those for ages.

Tuesday 12th May 2020 – HAVE YOU EVER …

… had one of those days when you’ve been trying to do something straightforward and simple and it just doesn’t work?

Right now I’m having one of those. I’m making a new template for one of my websites – a task that I’ve done on countless occasions – and for some unknown reason it just won’t work out.

For three hours now I’ve been at it, and I’ve spent a similar amout of time on this template too, but I’m getting nowhere fast. I’ve even gone right back to basics and started from the beginning but that’s not working either.

What has happened, I reckon, is that I’ve made a spelling mistake with one of the *.div boxes, or forgotten a quotation mark or something, but I’m badgered if I can see where.

After all this time I’ve abandoned the quest for the evening because my eyes have turned to mush and I can’t see straight.

The day started off so well too. I actually beat the third alarm to my feet, which is something to celebrate these days. And I’d been off on my travels, as I discovered when I listened to the dictaphone later after the medication.

Last night I was coming back from Shavington into Crewe and down by Gresty Brook was a row of lock-up garages. Something had happened and there was a black Lamborghini-type of sports car with all of its front end stoved in and some of these garages were open and there were motorbikes everywhere. It looked as if this Lamborghini had lost control and smashed into these garages. As I walked past I could see that there had been some work doing but there was more to do. Anyway, all of the traffic coming out of Crewe had stopped so I was able to negotiate my way through. Then it came to updating my website so I moved some information around and wrote in a bit about this accident to fit in with a few of the images. Roxanne came to talk to me about something and we ended up talking about hot air balloons that she had seen as a very small child and where they fitted in to the story of Montgolfière, these balloons
We were all on The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour, a huge mob of us. I was interested in a woman or girl or somebody. I was doing what I could to become friendly with her. At the same time there was another guy trying to do something to be friendly with another girl and everyone kept on butting in on him like they usually do with me. So one one occasion someone said something about this girl – that Stephen from Brooklyn, so I explained to him that the other guy had first dibs and he was quite put out by that. One evening we were having a meal and it was a huge refectory kind of place, not like the dining room. I grabbed my evening meal and went to sit down and I couldn’t see this girl whom I wanted to sit next to. I thought “she can’t be here yet” so I chose a place a bit away from everyone else but there was no cutlery or anything for anyone else so i started to assemble some cutlery to make a place for her. Just then I was overwhelmed by half a dozen people who appeared at once and all sat down at this table all around me and left no space for this girl. One of them was this Stephen and he explained to me that ‘I was having a nice friendly chat with so-and-so and this girl and thank you for putting me right to the situation”, things like that, and i was thinking “God I wish that someone would put these people right about my situation”,
A hot, sweaty, sticky night again, which I have to note, and I ended up somewhere in all of this in a big 1960s American estate car, a beige one, right-hand drive. For some unknown reason whenever I left a standing start I had to push it to make the car roll forward and then leap in. It was really heavy too but one in started to roll it was fine. I remember having to do this at a certain traffic light where opposite, the road narrowed and made it an interesting procedure. So I bought a different, smaller and lighter American estate car and at the same junction I had to do the same thing and that was for some reason even heavier to push.

After breakfast I had a good go at cleaning up the kitchen and dining area. And then configure a laptop so that it would work “Zoom” – this on-line meeting thing. It had to be done on the laptop because there’s no microphone or webcam on this big machine here.

Promptly at 11:00 we had our first lesson. There was the initial teething trouble with the programme as you might expect as no-one (not even the tutor) knew how to do it, but we were soon organised and the two hours passed quite quickly.

One of the attendees had her daughter of about 6 with her, and she had brought a dolly with her. So it goes without saying that at some point Strawberry Moose joined in the Welsh lesson.

Apparently the Welsh Government body that is sponsoring these courses expected about 100 attendees and made the appropriate provision. However there are a total of 1039 people who enrolled. It seems that the events of the last four years are swinging the pendulum over towards the side of Nationalism.

It did not escape my notice that one of the choices for “reasons for studying this course” was “to establish my national identity” or something very similar.

That took me right up to lunch where I finished off the last of the bread that I had made 10 days ago. I’m surprised that it had lasted so well.

home baked bread apple apricot puree cordial place d'armes granville manche normandy france eric hallThis afternoon, as I said yesterday, has been a cookery afternoon. And you cans ee the finished products here.

We have a loaf of bread, one and a half jars of apple and apricot purée for breakfast, and some apple and apricot cordial. And once again, I forgot the cinnamon and nutmeg.

The loaf was made with 400 grammes of flour.

We started off with 250 ml of water had a teaspoon of sugar and a sachet of yeast added to it. It was all stirred together and put in the microwave until it was lukewarm.

Meanwhile, 400 grammes of flour had a dessert spoon of salt added to it, and it was all mixed togather.
The lukewarm water was slowly added, every so often stopping to give the mixture a really good mix. make sure that your hands are well-floured so that the bread mix doesn’t stick to them so badly.

Eventually, you’ll end up with something rather like plasticene, nice and elastic. Then, you have to really knead it with your hands to make sure that the water and yeast are really well circulated throughout the mix. This can take 10 minutes or so and it’s quite an art.

Then put a towel over the bowl and put the bowl in a warm place for 45 minutes or so, to give the yeast a good start.

Meanwhile, peel, slice, core and dice 10 apples and but them in a saucepan with just a dash of water and plenty of lemon juice, stirring them well round as you add them to make sure that the lemon juice and water soaks the outside to stop them browning.

Then bring them to the boil and once it’s boiling, turn the heat right down to simmer gently until the apples are really soft (this could take 45 minutes even), giving it all a really good stir around every ten minutes or so.

Once the apples are simmering away, go back to the bread. It should already have started to rise now. So turn your oven on and while it is warming up, you need to knead the bread again for a while to make sure that the nitrogen being released by the yeast it distributed evenly through the bread.

Then put the mix in your bread mould and put in a hot oven 230°C for 10 minutes and then 210°C until it’s done.

When the apples are cooked, open a cheap tin of time-expired apricots from NOZ, drain off the syrup into a sterilised jar and add the fruit to the apples.

After about 5 minutes when the fruit is all thoroughly heated through, strain off all of the liquid into the jar with the syrup and whizz the fruit up in your whizzer.

Sterilise a couple of large jars (I put a small amount of water in them and run them for a minute in the microwave on medium-high and use boiling water on the caps) and put the purée in the jars and seal the lids.

Then check the bread by poking a large skewer into it. When it’s ready, it should sound good and the skewer should be clean when it comes out

tidal swimming pool plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallRather later than usual, I went out for my afternoon walk with the madding crowds – although nothing like as many people as I was expecting.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we saw them yesterday digging out the sand from the old tidal swimming pool. They’re not there now … “the ground’s all flat” – ed … but whether it’s because they have finished or simply knocked off for the day I really couldn’t say.

What i’ll have to do is to go that way tomorrow too but somewhat earlier so that I can see how they are doing.

floating pontoon across port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallI carried on walking around the walls, past more people than I have seen for quite a while, until I came to the Square Maurice Marland.

Between the chimneys I noticed some movement in the harbour so I took a speculative photo to see what it might be.

It’s beautifully focused on the chimneys, which means that it’s out of focus deeper in the image, but I could see that it’s one of our floating pontoons for the new walkway being pushed across the harbour by a motor boat.

marite floating pontoon across port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallA little further on there was a better view of what it was doing. It looks quite impressive too.

But we can see that whatever was keeping Marité out of her berth seems to have been resolved because she’s now back in her little corner.

The two Channel Islands ferries, Granville and Victor Hugo, are moored up over there, and today there’s just one Joly France boat, the ferries that go over to the Ile de Chausey, moored up. The other must be out on a run.

Back here I had another bash at this web site problem and then had my usual hour on the guitars.

Tea was steamed veg in vegan cheese sauce with falafel, followed by some of my apple pie and soya coconut dessert stuff.

trawlers port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallThere were a few people out there this evening but that didn’t prevent me from going running.

It was yet another struggle up the hill in the wind but I made it all the way up there. There was nothign much going on offshore tonight so I wandered around the corner to watch the fishing boats unloading at the fish processing plant.

It was really busy there tonight. There was a queue of boats there waiting for a berth to unload their catch.

trawlers chantier navale port de granville granville manche normandy france eric hallBut there seems to be plenty of activity down in the chantier navale

We’ve had five boats in there for the last couple of days but today it seems that one of them has gone back into the water. I wonder if we are going to be having another visitor any day soon.

Despite the strong headwind I ran on down the Boulevard Vaufleury and was almost bursting by the time that I reached my marker.

floating pontoons port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallhaving seen them pushing the pontoons over this afternoon I went down to the viewpoint overlooking the harbour to see if I could see what they had been doing.

It’s not evident at all but I think that they might be adding a third layer to the bit that’s perpendicular to the harbour wall. That’s all that I can think of that might be different.

My next run took me up to the viewpoint at the rue do Nord but there was nothing at all happening out there so I ran on back home.

Bed now, not as early as I had hoped. But there’s a lot to be done tomorrow. I want to finish off this radio project, sort out this perishing web template and do the chores like photos and rewriting other web pages

And I need to find time for another play around as my new hi-fi has finally arrived today. I’m looking forward to that.

Sunday 29th March 2020 – AND IF YOU …

… were wondering whether today was any better than yesterday, the answer is “I don’t know. I missed half of it”.

And that’s no exaggeration either. It might only … “only, he said” – ed … have been 11:00 when I awoke, but it was 12:05 when I finally heaved myself out of bed this mor … errr … afternoon.

So that was basically the day ruined.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I have said … “on many occasions” – ed … that everyone should have one day each week when they can do nothing and not be ashamed of the fact, but as far as I’m concerned that was yesterday. I was hoping to be much more focused today.

After the medication I had a look at the dictaphone. And I’d certainly been much more focused during the night, that’s for sure.

Last night I had started off with Laurence and Roxanne when Nerina put in an appearance and wasn’t very happy to see me. It was an evening when I was on my own. The next morning along came Laurence and Roxanne and they had come to see me too. Nerina had turned up by accident by the way. As it happened there was some kind of swimming regatta so we got Roxanne to take part in this. It was like a swimming obstacle race. Of course she leapt in the water and went right round this obstacle race but something happened on the very last section and she had to be lifted out and whatever happened was put right and she had to jump back in. But they wouldn’t let her do the underwater somersault but we were urging her on to go back and do it. In the end she turned round and swam back but they wouldn’t let her do it so she swam away. Laurence went to fetch her. As we were walking back to our little spec of seats and Nerina walked past us with a scowl on her face and said “we met yesterday” and just walked off. Laurence came back and Roxanne was crying, really disappointed and we put her on a shelf. In the end she got off this shelf and went to stand up where we were sitting. These two girls who were using this shelf were having a bit of, well, not a moan but going on about how Roxanne had got their shelf wet but Roxanne said “I was sitting on the one above where there were just things” and not where they were sitting.
Some time later I was doing one of these extraordinary exploration things that come on the TV every now and again about phenomena. There had been a helicopter crash in a small village and it had been one of these normal things but suddenly a white stain had appeared on the parapet of a bridge and people wanted to know what it was. They were all so suspicious about it being the sign of the Gods or something. We went to track it down, a woman and I, and I had a look round and I could see that there was some kind of watercourse where rain water had been flowing out of a field discreety onto the road. This had changed its course since the accident. You could see that there was some discolouring in the earth of this little watarcourse that had made the earth go a lot whiter than the earth of the soil. Se we suspected that the crash had changed this watercourse slightly and it was just a natural phenomenon that the water was now flowing through where it never flowed before and was percolating up some kind of hidden fissure in the bridge. Then we were prowling around a churchyard. Someone else in Cheshire had observed a fire in the sky that went on for weeks in the direction of the Gobi Desert and the Sahara Desert about 150 years before any explorer had actually been there. We were walking around this churchyard and there was someone’s visitor book there and a page had blown off it that was a report about “St Anne’s Day” or a diary page for St Anne’s Day. It had blown onto the floor so I picked it up and put it back on the lectern and put a kind of embossed stone on top to hold it on. The woman with me said something like “we haven’t come here to change things around, have we?” all this kind of thing. I said “no, I’m just putting things back where they had blown from”. She was going on about changing things round and taking things away. Of course we weren’t doing that at all.

Breakfast at 13:15 is a much more reasonable way to go about things on a Sunday, and then I attacked the music.

Another four albums split up and filed without two many problems – just one album where a couple of tracks wouldn’t work and I had to hunt them down elsewhere which took some time.

While they were doing, I was catching up by working on the photos for July 2019. I’m now in Rif setting out on my walk to the Svodufoss waterfall and I remember that walk very well. The waterfall looked as if it was just a couple of fields away and it was too, but no-one said that there was a big river in the way so we had to walk in large figure “Z” shape to reach it. My fitbit at the end of the day showed 12.4 kms and I felt every step of the way.

Another thing that I did was to join up all of the speech files for the Grande Marée broadcast and intersperse the joins with beach ambience soundfiles. As for the speech, I’ve asked Laurent if he will do an introduction and a conclusion and he’ll get back to me. When he replies, I’ll see what he has to say and I’ll do a brief text for the other intervals.

Then of course, there was the hour on the guitar. Mustn’t forget that.

apple pie apple turnover place d'armes granville manche normandy france eric hallFor tea tonight I had something of a bake-in.

With needing the oven for the pizza I’ve been baking desserts in there every Sunday evening and tonight, having remembered the cooking apples yesterday, I made an apple pie.

And with the left-over pastry and left-over apple, I rolled out the pastry and squared it off, added the apple and desiccated coconut, cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar, and made an apple turnover.

The pizza was delicious of course, and so was the apple turnover with the soya coconut. I shall be attacking the pie as from tomorrow evening and I have high hopes.

rue notre dame granville manche normandy france eric hallWith being distracted by the time and all that, it was very late when I went outside for my exercise.

And my first run was a dismal failure. There was a gale blowing out there that was the equal of some of the best that we have had and trying to walk around in many places was impossible. If you wonder why this image was so blurred, the fact is that I was being blown around in a Force 10 gale at the moment that I pressed the shutter.

Liz had told me earlier that the wind was coming from Greenland and that I ought to complain to Heidinnguaq. Well, I dunno about where it was coming from but I know exactly where it was going and it wasn’t exactly pleasant.

rue des degres granville manche normandy france eric hallFinding a spot that was out of the wind I managed a run in the end.

And that led me down a new alley that I hadn’t walked before. The rue des Degres. So at least all of this stuff is broadening my horizons.

Back here, I wrote up my journal as I listened to some music. It didn’t take me long because of course there wasn’t much to write.

It’s still late though so I’m heading to bed. It’s a busy week next week because I have two rock music projects to do, an audio diary to write and then to finish off this Grande Marée thing when Laurent lets me have his notes.

No matter what I do, the work still keeps on piling up, doesn’t it?

Sunday 5th May 2019 – TODAY HAS BEEN …

vegan hummus granville manche normandy france… a baking day. Or, rather, a food making day.

We started off by making another batch of vegan hummus. You can see all of the ingredients here, plus some coarse-ground black pepper of course.

I started off by cutting the pepper into tiny cubes and then roasting it.

While that was doing, I took my whizzer, added a pile of chick peas, half the weight of tahini (sesame seed paste), chick pea juice, olive oil, garlic, sea salt, black pepper and tarragon, and whizzed it all up into a nice creamy paste.

It doesn’t need to be too liquidy so I usually don’t add much liquid and oil at first, but keep on adding it during the mix to make it right. Remember that you can always add more liquid, but you can’t take it out.

Once it was done and mixed how I wanted it, I added the pepper and olives, and gave them a little whizz, just enough to distribute them throughout the mix and not disintegrate them.

Some of the mixture went into the freezer and some in the fridge for lunch for the next week or so.

making an apple pie granville manche normandy franceLater on, I made an apple pie.

Having an affinity with Belgium, I used boskoop apples, brown sugar, desiccated coconut, raisins, cinnamon, nutmeg and a couple of vegan pastry rolls

Some lemon juice too, of course.

So first you spread out one of the pastry rolls onto your cutting board, and using the baking tin as a template, cut the pastry round the tin to make the top of your pie, allowing for a 1cm overlap.

Then, grease your baking tin, unroll the second pastry roll and put it in the tin, pressing down VERY LIGHTLY the roll to fit the base properly

Cut the apples into quarters, decore them and cut them into very thin slices. Then add them into the baking tine.

Add them in layers, and on top of each later add some lemon juice (to keep the apples white) some brown sugar, raisins, desiccated coconut, nutmeg and cinnamon.

By the time you’ve built up the layers of filling, the base of the pastry should be completely covered.

Moisten the edge of the pastry in the pie where it overlaps the lip of the pie tin, and then put the pastry top that you cut out earlier on top.

apple pie granville manche normandy franceWith a fork, press down the edges onto the lip of the pie dish so that the pie top and the pie bottom are completely sealed. Then trim off the excess pastry that’s overhanging the pie dish.

Brush the top of your pie with milk, and then prick holes into it with a fork to let out any steam that might build up.

Bung it into the oven at 200°C until it looks like this.Probably 40-45 minutes, something like that.

So what do you do with the excess pastry and apple that you have left over?

apple turnover granville manche normandy franceRoll out your patry with your rolling pin until it’s flat. Keep on cutting off the irregular edges and adding it back to be rolled in, so that the pastry resembles a square as best as you can.

Add your apple, coconut, spices, raisins, lemon juice etc into the centre, and then fold the pastry over the top and, dampening the edges, squeeze them together like a cornish pasty so it’s all sealed togather.

Brush with milk, poke holes to let the steam out, and then bung that in the oven too until it looks like this.

Yesterday I remember saying that knowing my luck, with Sunday being a Day of Rest and no alarm, I’d be wide-awake pretty early on.

And I reckon that 03:50 corresponds pretty closely to this definition. But there was no chance of me rising from my stinking pit at anything like that time. 08:50 was much more like it.

Plenty of time of course to go a-rambling. I was with Liz Ayers last night in Crewe round by the Wistaston area. I’d been taxiing and we had quite a few jobs going on including taking Mrs Urion home for lunch and pick her back up at 13:45. But she was already booked in at 13:45 for a trip to the bank, so I wondered if I was expected to combine the two trips or were they separate. In between jobs I was socialising with Liz then nipping out to do jobs. Liz was talking to a load of other taxi drivers – not me because I didn’t get on with them. She was chatting to him who lived in Ruskin Road. I went past twice, shook (or rather touched, because that was all he was willing to do) his hand and went off to do a job. She said that she was going to stay behind and have a drink. She was chatting to this guy and said they were going to have a drink together. I went back home, and Roxanne was there. I told Roxanne what Liz was doing and she commented that she bet that she was flirting with this guy and she wanted to see. So I put her in the car and we went to this pub at Wells Green and sure enough that’s what she was doing. The dirty look on Roxanne’s face was priceless.
Later on I was out around Nantwich last night with someone or other and we bumped into this friend of mine. I’d been searching the internet about something and had discovered something about Burt Reynolds – his real surname was Diamond because his father had been a diamond cutter. He played bass, including a weird 2-string bass. I happened to mention to this friend of mine that I’d seen this. He said “yes, but he just happened to have been in the right geographical position. I played bass one day and never had the recognition”. “One day!” I retorted. “I’d played bass for years and never had any”. To which he replied “yes, but I played in the daytime”. This conversation went on and he headed off towards London Road – he was probably staying there with his work. We discussed food and he had been to a Chinese restaurant somewhere for his tea. I ended up back home staying in some kind of strange apartment with two bedrooms à l’enfilade living with a woman who had two kids. They had the other bedroom. She said they should both be in year 2 or 3 but one was much smaller than the other. She’d had serious health problems, including incontinence. We talked quite a lot about these kids. She’d had severe medical treatment but was so much better. I was wondering why this friend of mine never said that he had come to stay down here. I’m sure we could have put him up somehow – there’s a comfy sofa for a start, he would have loved that. The conversation drifted away from there and I ended up in the kitchen. My mother was in there doing the washing up, with a length of green garden hose coupled up to the tap and a high-pressure “squirter”. Every question I asked her was answered with “I’ll tell you tomorrow”. I tried to find out what was going on and in the end she said “do you know my neck cancer specialist? Steven? He’s actually died of cancer and I’m going to his funeral tomorrow”. I said that it happens to all of us. We’re all going to get it some time or other and let’s face it – by the time that we get to our age if we haven’t had a serious health crisis already we are doing really well. She didn’t understand for a minute what I meant. I went outside, to find myself at les Guis. there was a load of my friends out there. They had moved Caliburn but there was a pile of smoke everywhere. Piles of wood had been cut. They said that while I had been in the house they had cut all of this wood for me and put it in stacks and cleared the drive that was all overgrown and got the van down there. I thought that this was really nice. All this wood was nicely stacked up. It just needed cutting to length and then I could burn it. I thought that this was marvellous.

After a leisurely start to the day I attacked the dictaphone notes and by the time I was ready to stop to make my hummus for lunch, I was down to just 129 entries.

pointe d'agon lighthouse manche normandy franceThe hummus was delicious as I expected, and once I’d dined I went out into the gorgeous weather.

It really was nice out there today, and I took quite a few long-distance photos of things miles away, to see how the new lens performs.

This is a photo of the lighthouse that is just offshore from the Pointe-D’Agon

mouth of the river sienne manche normandy franceThere’s a really interesting point along the coast where the River Sienne enters the sea.

Because of tidal drift of sedimant, the mouth of the river now faces south rather than east.

And we can see in the background, if we look carefully, the wind-farm near Barneville-Carteret

st helier jerseyJersey was standing out quite clearly on the horizon today too.

The houses of St Helier and that area, 54 kms away, stood out quite clearly in the distance and have cme up quite well in this photo once I enhanced it.

And while I was at at, I was photo-bombed by a seagull. It reminded be very much of that famous World War II photo that a German photo unit took of the UK radar masts at Dover from Cap Griz Nez and managed to pick up a beautiful image of a Supermarine Spitfire that buzzed into the image.

metal detector beach plat gousset granville manche normandy franceThe tide was on its way out and the crowds hadn’t yet flocked to the beach.

There was one early bird out there already though, and I couldn’t at first make out what it was that he was doing. But cropping the photo and blowing it up (which I can do these days despite modern anti-terrorist legislation) I noticed that he seemed to have a metal detector with him.

He didn’t look as if he was doing all that much good with it though

Back here, I regrettably crashed out on my chair for 20 minutes, but I managed to wake up in time for the football. It’s the Welsh Cup Final between (predictably) TNS and Connah’s Quay Nomads. And just as predictably, TNS won it at something of a canter, 3-0.

Mind you, it’s probably fairer to say that the Nomads lost it. The first goal was the Nomads central defence being half-asleep. Greg Draper is probably the best striker the Welsh Premier League has ever seen and you can’t give him even half-an-inch of room, even when he looks as unwell as he does just recently.

The second goal was the fault of the keeper losing his sense of position, and the third goal was the classic keeper’s dilemma from a set-piece of “do you cover the onrushing forwards in case they make contact with the ball, or do you cover the shot in case the onrushing forwards miss it” and in the end being caught in no-man’s-land between the two.

And the match might have had a totally different outcome has the referee awarded to the Nomads at least one of the three penalties that I would have awarded had I been refereeing.

After the match I made my apple pie and then cooked a vegan pizza, which was just as delicious as normal.

trawler english channel jersey channel islands granville manche normandy franceLater on I went out for my evening walk around the Pointe du Roc.

The harbour gates must have just opened because the sea was alive with trawlers.

Here’s one of them heading off into the sunset, with the coast of Jersey away in the distance. How long they will be continuing to go off that way depends upon the outcome of Brexit.

objects offshore brittany coast granville manche normandy franceBut my attention was drawn by some kind of object on the horizon.

I couldn’t see at that distance what it was so back here I used my “crop – enhance – enlarge” technique to see if I could identify it. And I have to say that I’m still none-the-wiser about what it might be, over there on the extreme right of the image.

What I’ll have to do is to take a similar photo in a day or two’s time to see if it’s still there. If it is, it’s a lighthouse. If not, it’s a ship.

Back home, it’s only 21:30 and despite my little repos earlier this afternoon, I’m exhausted.

So badger the writing of the blog. I intend to take full advantage of my fatigue by going to bed for an early night.

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

buoy jersey channel islands
buoy jersey channel islands

yachts english channel islands
yachts english channel islands

trawler ile de chausey granville manche normandy france
trawler ile de chausey granville manche normandy france

trawler english channel granville manche normandy france
trawler english channel granville manche normandy france

trawlers english channel granville manche normandy france
trawlers english channel granville manche normandy france

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

Sunday 13th August 2017 – I’VE A FEELING …

… that tomorrow morning I’m going to be regretting today!

According to the Fitbit I’ve done … errr … 230% of my day’s activity and walked all of … errr … 17.4 kilometres.

Funnily enough, apart from the aches in the back of my legs (mainly from the cramp attack yesterday) I wasn’t any more tired than I might have been on occasions when I used to walk these kinds of distance on a regular basis.

What this actually means, I really don’t know but I’ll find out tomorrow afternoon at the hospital I suppose.

Despite the early night there was some kind of interruption in the building last night. I’m not sure what it was, but I ended up having to close the window into the communal airspace to keep the noise out.

06:20 when I awoke but badger that for a game of cowboys on a Sunday. I turned over for a short while – 08:20 was much more like it.

After breakfast I had a shower, washed my undies and prettied myself up ready for Alison. And while I was waiting for her I was accosted by some young African girl asking me if I were “Luke”. I explained that I was waiting for someone else but if she didn’t turn up and Luke didn’t turn up, we’d go off together.

She had quite a laugh at that which was good. It pays to be light-hearted, I reckon. And she was quite pretty too.

Ohhh yes – I can still chase after the women – even if I can’t remember why!

view of bruxelles from palais de justice belgium aout august 2017We’d arranged to meet at the viewpoint by the side of the Palais de Justice where there are some stunning views over the city.

Of course I had brought the camera with me to take some good photos but unfortunately the weather didn’t want to co-operate.

It wasn’t raining, which was quite lucky, but a horrible clammy, misty morning. and that put paid to the photography session.

We took the lift down into the Marolles and went for a prowl around the flea market. It’s been probably 15 years since I last went and there’s nothing like as much stuff – or as many customers – as there used to be.

And the prices – the days when you could find some absolute bargains seem to be long-gone. For one or two things, I had to go for a lie-down in a darkened room.

Mind you, Alison did find some marvellous coffee tables, and one of them disappeared into the back of her car. And had I had Caliburn with me, a second one would have disappeared too.

Something like a semi-globe with an olde-worlde wooden top cut in half and hinged so that you could use the inside of the globe as a storage space. How I would have loved one for my place!

bruxelles belgium aout august 2017We had a couple of coffees and went for a good walk around, passing once more by the viewpoint at the Palais de Justice.

By now the mist was starting to lift and the weather was looking better. To such an extent that Alison was obliged to divest herself of her jacket.

And I could take a couple of photos from up here too.

On her way home Alison dropped me off in Ixelles.

I went for a bag of chips at the fritkot and then down to the cemetery to pay my respects to Marianne.

ermando zizi bruxelles belgium aout august 2017But before I reached her plot I stumbled across this tombstone which I must never have seen before.

You need to be a French-speaker to understand why someone with a small mind like mine would find this rather amusing.

But Marianne’s grave is a little overgrown these days – it looks as if her other visitors have stopped coming. Next time that I pass by I’ll have to bring some gardening tools with me and do some tidying up.

tramline repairs avenue adolphe buyl boulevard general jacques bruxelles belgium aout august 2017From here, I decided to be brave and to see how far I could make it back to my hotel on foot.

And my route took me down the Avenue Buyl where they are once again modernising the tram layout at the junction with the Boulevard General Jacques.

I’ve no idea why they would be doing all of this work though – it was only a couple of years ago that they totally reorganised this junction so they can’t have worn it out already.

bruxelles belgium aout august 2017My walk continued down the hill and round the corner to the Abbaye de la Cambre.

regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we’ve been here a few times in the past and somewhere around I have a few photos that I’ve taken of it.

But I’ve not taken a photo of it from this angle before so I need to put this right.

abbaye de la cambre bruxelles belgium aout august 2017There were hordes of people loitering around sunning themselves on the lawn this afternoon because by now the weather was quite nice

And this gave me an opportunity to go for a good wander around at the abbey and look for some spots that might come out really well on camera.

I hadn’t realised just how little I had actually seen of the abbey in the past.

etangs ixelles place flagey bruxelles belgium aout august 2017My walk then took me along the side of the “etangs d’Ixelles” – the Ixelles lakes that were formerly park of the River Maelbeek.

This runs through the city from south-west to north-east but was filled in centuries ago. But it’s all very unstable and buildings along its course have been known to teeter and totter.

I lived in one once with Laurence and Roxanne and you could see the cracks appearing.

etangs d'ixelles bruxelles belgium aout august 2017If you look on any good map of Brussels you can see the course of the river. There is plenty of parkland along its route and occasionally there are lakes.

in Jette, where I lived for many years, there was a huge parkland with all of the lakes that was very pleasant to walk around

In fact I often mused that 500 years ago I could have gone to see Marianne by canoe rather than by bus.

etangs d'ixelles bruxelles belgium aout august 2017One thing that “foreigners” often say about Belgium is that the Belgians have a weird sense of humour.

My natural response is that the way things are in Belgium you need to have a weird sense of humour to live here, but when you see what the city fathers have done, you can understand why foreigners have this opinion.

It’s not every country where you would deliberately set out to build a set of ruins to liven up your city architecture.

place flagey bruxelles belgium aout august 2017Alison and I had noticed up by the Palais de Justice how they had set up a temporary pie hut and a pile of deckchairs for people to take the sun.

That’s clearly not an isolated incident because here at the Place Flagey we had a similar set-up. And by now we had a really good sun too.

It was turning out to be a nice day after all.

jazz band place flagey bruxelles belgium aout august 2017The casual strollers weren’t the only people to take advantage of the deckchairs either.

I hadn’t been there more than two minutes when an impromptu jazz band appeared and started to entertain the crowd.

They weren’t particularly up to much and the drummer was pretty dire but I’m all in favour of live music and I quite enjoyed it for what it was.

It gave me an opportunity to study the architecture too.

place flagey bruxelles belgium aout august 2017I used to have an apartment out on the Boulevard Reyers right next to the champignon – the mushroom-shaped tower that is the headquarters of one of the Belgian broadcasting companies.

Before they moved out there, they were based in this beautifu art-deco building in the Place Flagey. When I came to live here in 1992 the building was derelict and in a very sorry state.

It’s now been restored and they’ve done quite a good job of it. Plenty of trendy cafés on the ground floor and offices above.

Carrying on with my long walk I climbed up to the Avenue Louise – the posh bit of the city and walked all the way down the street towards the city centre.

bruxelles belgium aout august 2017I ended up back at the viewpoint at the Palais de Justice and by now the weather had cleared sufficiently for me to admire the voew and to try out the telephoto lens.

Of course, you don’t need me to tell you what this load of balls might be, because if anything is symbolic of the city, it has to be the Atomium.

And it does look so much better since they have cleaned it up. At one tile it was looking quite shabby.

molenbeek town hall bruxelles belgium aout august 2017That tower there in centre-shot is the tower of the Town Hall of the commune of Molenbeek.

But never mind that for a moment. If you look to the left of it, there on the skyline you’ll see a large block of flats.

it is in fact four large blocks of flats superimposed one in front of another and it’s in one of those where I lived for a very happy 11 years – the legendary “avenue de l’Exposition”

And now, we can’t have a good stroll around the city without bringing some controversy into it, can we?

plaque to victims of the nazis mont de piete bruxelles belgium aout august 2017This is the Mont de Pieté – the Roman Catholic religious charity in the rue St Ghislain that is charged with making loans to less-fortunate members of society who find themselves temporarily financially-embarrassed.

And on the wall is a plaque listing the names of the inhabitants of the local area who were victims of the Nazis in World War II.

As I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed …it’s all very well these people who criticise the civilians of the occupied countries for what is perceived to be a lack of resolution against the invaders, but they didn’t ever run this kind of risk.

plaques to jewish victims of the nazis bruxelles belgium aout august 2017But wait a minute! What’s this?

Not 50 yards away from the plaque on the wall of the Mont de Pieté are these four plaques embedded into the pavement.

These people are also victims of the “barbarie Nazie” but their names don’t appear on the plaque of the victims who lived in the area.

plaques to jewish victims of the nazis bruxelles belgium aout august 2017And not 50 yards the other side are some more plaques set in the pavement of yet more victims, and their names don’t appear on the plaque either.

But a brief examination of the family names and of their ultimate destiny tells you all that you need to know as to why they don’t appear on the plaque.

The Catholic Church isn’t interested in anyone whose religious beliefs don’t equate to theirs and certainly isn’t interested in “sharing the suffering of the afflicted” – and that’s what I call a disgrace.

I made it back to my hotel without once stepping on public transport, and found that i’d run out of water. So that meant a trip to the supermarket in the Gare du Midi.

And later on, I went out for what was probably the worst ever vegan burger that I have ever eaten and I won’t be going there again.

funfair foire du midi bruxelles belgium aout august 2017But with it being a really beautiful evening by now, I went for a walk along the boulevard to watch the funfair and to try a little “cut and paste” of images taken in the dark.

This image is well-cropped from the original and the results compare favourably with what the old Nikon D5000 would have produced under similar circumstances.

All in all, I’m not too disappointed

foire du midi belgium aout august 2017But if you want to see what the camera can do with its video facility, here’s a little film.

Again, this is edited down quite considerably from the original (as, in fact, are all of the photos that I take) and once again, I’ve had much worse results from this with other cameras

All-in-all, I’m quite satisfied with this camera.

So that was my day out then. 2002 words, 17.4 kilometres and the exciting thing about it was that I didn’t crash out either. It clearly did me some good although I’m now walking like John Wayne after a week on his horse.

I’ll regret this tomorrow!

Sunday 30th April 2017 – WHAT A HORRIBLE …

… night that was!

I went to bed early and fell asleep after just about 10 minutes of a film that I’ve tried to watch on several occasions. But it didn’t do me much good because I was awake again at about 01:30, really uncomfortably, and I couldn’t go back to sleep again.

Not only that, there was some kind of incident early in the morning. I thought at first that the cat had caught a seagull or something, but apparently the landlady’s dog had had a fit – and I bet that it was a tight one too.

Mind you, I must have gone to sleep at some time or other during the night because I had been on my travels. I was with Roxanne and Laurence, trying to negotiate Roxanne’s entry into a different school. But the negotiations were extremely complex and I discovered that you had to pay for the lessons – including the basic ones like English (which surprised me – by the way, it was English as a first language too). In the end I turned to Laurence and suggested that Roxanne stay at home and Laurence teach her – after all, Laurence is a qualified teacher (which she wasn’t, but never mind).
We ended up being on a coach going down a steep hill – I wasn’t driving but the man who was driving it was having a few difficulties. trying to negotiate his way between a couple of parked lorries he ripped the right-hand side mirror out of its housing. No amount of fiddling about could get it to go back into position.

After breakfast I had a shower and a good clean-up, tidied up my room, packed up everything and then spent an hour or so catching up with some stuff on the internet. Once I’d finished organising myself I got my motor running and headed out on the highway.

There’s no electricity in my new place until Friday morning and so Liz and Terry had told me that if I didn’t mind sleeping in the middle of a building site, I could stay at their new place for a few nights. Of course, it’s not where you are and what you are doing, it’s who you are with that counts and so I headed off through the rainstorm (the first real rain that we have had since I’ve been up here) to Roncey.

Liz had cooked a gorgeous soup for lunch, and then I had a little surprise. Liz and Terry had bought two really nice sofas for the living room at their house in the Auvergne but there wasn’t room for both of them in the living room in the place that they have just bought. And so in thanks for a service that I had rendered to them a few months ago, we heaved the redundant sofa into the back of Caliburn and drove off to Granville.

Once we had dropped off the sofa, we went for a walk around the area where my new place is. It’s an old town full of beautiful stone buildings, narrow alleyways and city walls. And we found a café that looked like something out of the 19th Century, with live music too.

Back through the rainstorm and the roadworks for another one of Liz’s special meals followed by home-made vegan cake and a nice wood fire. Here I can sit and watch the rain falling outside while I am in the warmth.

And I have some furniture now. I’ve slept on that sofa before and I’ll be sleeping on it again until I can organise myself a bed. It’s only a sofa, but it’s a start.

Wednesday 12th October 2016 – AT 03:45 …

… I was still awake, tossing and turning around, but I don’t remember too much about anything after that.

However, I do remember the alarm clock going off at 07:00 and again at 07:15. and when they started using a percussion drill at 08:30, I remembered waking up then – just for a brief moment. It was 10:15 when I finally rose from my stinking pit.

I’d been on my travels too – rambled for miles and miles, but I don’t remember too much about it. All that I can remember was that I was in the trenches in the front line in World War I. I went to put my suitcase in the store, which caused my colonel to burst out laughing and he told me to take my rifle out of it – I’ll need it. He was right too because later on, there was a huge attack by the enemy – dressed in early 19th-Century uniforms. They came in several parallel point formations, really powerful, deep and strong. We were told initially to retreat but then to regroup and fight off the enemy. The point that was attacking where I was stationed was led by a soldier in his 20s with big round spectacles. We fired into the group but it had little effect and the leader, who had bayoneted several of my colleagues, ended up bayoneting me too.I wasn’t seriously wounded at all, and the attack line swept over me. Then it went calm and I was wondering whether to surrender or to try to creep back to wherever my lines might be, once it had gone dark.

First thing I did was to go to the supermarket downstairs and buy some stuff for breakfast. But surprisingly, I didn’t feel all that hungry so I didn’t eat it. And back here I carried on with some work that I needed to do. I even managed to miss out on lunch.

Round about 14:00 I started to sort out my belongings and packed everything into my suitcase that I won’t be needing tomorrow in the hospital. Once this was organised I set off for a long walk. All the way out to Caliburn in fact.

As I was passing by the Hema, I popped in. I’d seen a really decent wok in there, much better and heavier than the old one that I had been using back at home. I’d decided while I was in Canada that I would treat myself to that, but I also picked up a new small frying pan of the same model, and as well as that a new saucepan – a nice small heavy-duty one.

The Bank was the next port of call and I checked my bank accounts. Everything seemed to be in order there, especially as two payments had been made in without anything being withdrawn. That’s always nice to see.

school crocodile leuven belgium october octobre 2016And I also encountered something about which I had completely forgotten, and it didn’t half bring back many memories of when I was Roxanne’s stepfather for those three years.

That’s right, Rhys. Forget all about your school buses. In Belgium they have the school crocodile. Three or four parents and groups of the kids of the school, each group with its own route and dropping off the kids at their house or apartment. How environmentally-friendly is this?

Caliburn was a little sluggish to start – no surprise after being laid upf or almost seven weeks. And it was good to be behind the wheel with a proper steering wheel, a clutch and a real manual gearbox. We all enjoyed ourselves – just like old times. There was a parking place just opposite the hotel, which is a real surprise as you know. And so I picked up my suitcase, heaved it into the back of Caliburn and then drove him back to his parking. Strawberry Moose quickly installed himself in his habitual place and then I set off back to my room.

On the way back, I noticed a shoe sale in a really good-quality sports shop. My shoes are falling to bits and the boots that I have back home aren’t much better. And so I nipped in. And nipped out again with a really good pair of all-weather mud and snow leather walking boots at just €60:00 and a pair of high-quality trainers reduced to a final reduction price of €20:00. And these are the most comfortable shoes that I have worn for years.

taart with slagroom leuven belgium october octobre 2016There’s a glorious art-deco building in the pedestrian street. It’s a library and community centre with a café-restaurant in the basement. I felt that after my exertions today I deserved a coffee.

But you just have to love Flanders and the Flemish language. I don’t know about you, but I’m always up for a bit of a taart, especially if there’s a slagroom available. And at €4:00 a go – well, it makes me wish that I was a few years younger.

After the coffee, I headed back to the hotel and went for a shower. Now, where are my clean clothes? Where’s my razor?

Ohh I know – I don’t need them in hospital. They are … errr … in my suitcase that I had just taken right across town to Caliburn.

I just about made it to Zeeman in time before closing. Now I have some razors and undies and the like and I could have my shower and shave. And having showered and shaved I headed off into town to meet Alison, because we had agreed to meet up for a chat and a meal.

loving hut vegan restaurant shop leuven belgium october octobre 2016There’s a new vegan restaurant opened in the city and so we headed off there. The food was rather expensive (or, rather, there wasn’t a lot of it for your money) but it was delicious.

And that wasn’t all either because there’s a shop there. And that sold vegan cheese at the cheapest price that I have seen in Belgium, and some spray-on vegan cream. That is now in a paper bag by my bed ready to be taken up to the hospital (the cheese that is, not the cream) in case I am detained.

That’s right – I’m back at the hospital tomorrow.

We went to a couple of cafés for some stuff to drink and to continue our chat, and then Alison dropped me off back here. Now, I’m organising myself ready for tomorrow and my appointment with destiny. How did I do after six weeks without medical treatment?

Did I survive?

I suppose that I don’t really want to know.

Sunday 27th March 2016 – MY POSTILION HAS BEEN STRUCK BY LIGHTNING

Well, not quite, but round about 16:30 this afternoon, in the middle of a thunderstorm and hailstone fusillade, there was a dull thud, the building shook a little and all of the power went off.

heavy storm clouds north sea zouteland netherlandsI went for a walk a little later and this was what I saw in the distance. Huge massing storm clouds over there, hanging over the North Sea.

In fact, we had heavy storm clouds all over the place and in the distance to the south (remember that Zoutelande is on the north-west coast of the Schelde estuary were some very clear thunder flashes. It is therefore very tempting to suggest that the hotel had been struck by lightning.

ship sailing up schelde estuary zoutelande netherlandsThat wasn’t all that was going on either. I’d been for a walk earlier while the housemaid made up my room, and was lucky enough to see a ship sailing up towards Antwerp, just offshore.

And excuse the lack of focus on the image – the wind was terrific and blowing me around like nobody’s business. This was the best of the images that I took, and that doesn’t say much for the others.

But talking of the housemaid, we had a little chat this morning. And the only language that we had in common was Italian. Imagine that in the Netherlands!

But those storm clouds that we saw gathering off the coast yesterday early evening finally arrived during the night. They hit my little room with such a force that I was immediately woken up, and when I went back to sleep, then half an hour later I was awoken once more.

This accounts for the dreadful night’s sleep that I had last night, and also for the number and variety of my nocturnal rambles. And believe me, there were dozens, quite a few of which didn’t make it to the dictaphone because either I fell straight back to sleep or else by the time that I found the dictaphone, I’d forgotten where I’d been.

Anyway, from what I do remember, I was in XCL, my red Cortina, and back at school (or, rather, a school in France, not my old one). I was an adult by this time and I only went back to school very occasionally, because I was studying Geography and History in my own time, but I would call in to the lessons if ever I was going past the school because I wanted to take the school exams and I needed to make sure that I was in touch with the course. As a result, I didn’t really know any of the children there. One afternoon, I’d bought something – some new seat covers or something for XCL so they needed wrapping. I had my yellow rucksack with me, which had now transformed itself into a school satchel. I’d turned up at the school and I can’t remember now how I had arrived but as I arrived, I remembered that there was something that I wanted. I had to walk all the way back to the car in order to get what it was that I wanted. As I walked out of the class there were all of these kids hanging around the door like you find at a school. It was the afternoon so there was a triple-period, but it was only the final two lessons, a double-period, that were history lessons but I had plans to do something in the period immediately after lunch. As I walked out of the school towards my car, I was singing “Daydream Believer” or, at least, trying to because I couldn’t hit the notes. I was devastated because I was hoping to sing it really well and show these kids a thing or two, but I just couldn’t get the notes.
A little later, I was back playing cricket and our team had unfortunately been skittled out. I was the last batsman remaining and I had to survive the last over so that our team would win. But it was now pitch-black and you couldn’t see a thing, and the bowler was bowling from around the corner behind the wall. All that I could do was to put my bat in the way and hope that that would block the wicket. For the final over, we started to have some friendly banter and the bowler said that he was going to bowl underarm at me. He took up a position about a foot from my wicket ready to bowl. I had to explain to him that he couldn’t do that – it was a no-ball. He could bowl underarm at me as much as he likes and no-one will say a thing, least of all me, but you have to bowl from back at the other crease, 22 yards away, just as you would do for bowling any other kind of ball in a cricket match. But it took me ages to get this to sink into this flaming bowler’s head.
A little later, I was back at work driving my car about and I’d been summoned into the office – it was a Sunday morning – but there had been some war that had gone on and it had been won by we westerners. However, there had been a few bits and pieces of unpleasantness that had come out of it. I needed to go to use the bathroom but for some unknown reason I had forgotten all of the vocabulary so I said what I could remember. This didn’t, for some reason, go down very well so I thought “sod them! I’m doing the best that I can and no-one can do more than that and it’s their look-out if it doesn’t suit”. But it was a bright sunny day and so I went on my motor-bike from the north-west of the city and there had been a heavy rainstorm earlier that day and now everything was flooded out. Now I couldn’t come my usual way into work because of this and at one stage I was riding through a park and on a pavement and then down the wrong way in a one-way street with water up to the axles on the motorbike, following some kind of lorry that was tearing up the roadway in this park. I’d finally arrived at work, and found that my boss had been searching through my drawers for something. He found some of Roxanne’s clothing that I was keeping there and he was proudly displaying it all around. I asked him “is this all yours?” to which he replied with a ribald joke. I said to him that it was Roxanne’s and I would like to have it back so he eventually gave it back to me and I stuck it back in my drawer.
After the next bout of thunderstorms I was back at another place of former employment with someone who was formerly a very good friend of mine. We were visiting the richest farm in the UK, run by the richest UK farmer and his wife. There were some tunnels that had been discovered on this farm and having inspected them, we noticed that they had been lined and that there was electricity going right down there. I immediately thought of a tourist attraction and so I button-holed the woman when I saw her and asked her about them. She replied that the intention was indeed to make them into a tourist attraction and so I wanted to know more? Was it World War II? Was it the Vietnam War? She replied that from what she had been able to find out, they went back to the 5th Century, which immediately suggested the collapse of Roman Britain to me. I was immediately aroused by this and so I intended to be the first person to go down there. I asked her if she knew to where these tunnels led, but she didn’t. However, it was her intention to explore them one of these days, so I immediately pencilled myself in to go and explore these tunnels with her. We would travel miles and I would invite someone from the University – I’m not sure now if I mentioned the OU – to accompany us. To me, it was absolutely marvellous and exciting.
After a very brief return to the arms of Morpheus, I was awake again thanks to the storm. And I can recount that I had been to see the Queen. I’d taken this puppy, which was really the star of it all, although I’m not sure quite why and so we were going to do a stage show with it when the puppy would be presented to the Queen. We were hoping that this puppy would be house-trained and behave itself in view of all of the excitement and not let itself down. This led on to a debate about cleaning. Tourism was still in its infancy and no-one really seemed to know how to clean up a place properly (as if I’m any expert) except for a dustpan and brush. Everyone was hoping that everyone else would prove to be the expert on cleaning up the building.
But the final part of my night-time voyage was easily the most exciting and astonishing. You remember yesterday that I mentioned the navigator whose body is in the Commonwealth War Graves part of the local cemetery? Well, last night, whilst deep in the arms of Morpheus, I set out to find his pilot. The voyage, which started out to be simple enough, took me, and two Ministerial cars and assorted Government officials to a small urban cemetery in the East End of London (where, incidentally, the pilot was not buried and I knew this, yet my journey still took me there) despite the obstruction of a well-known London solicitor who had instructed the two members of his staff who were assisting me not to give me too much help in my enquiries because, as I was later to discover, he was interested in the case from a personal point of view. In fact, being early for a 13:00 appointment, I suddenly made a decision to divert to this small cemetery one more time as I had suddenly made a dramatic realisation. I ended up inspecting the paperwork of an old woman who had just been laid to rest there, and was just about to make an Executive decision (and executive decision is one where if it’s the wrong decision, the person making it is executed) when the alarm went off. And how frustrated was I?

But none of it was wasted because this morning while waiting for the weather to brighten up, I did manage to track down some further information. Flying Officer Angus Peter MacLeod (for it is he), service number 63376, was flying as navigator in Mosquito Night-Fighter II serial HJ935 for pilot, Flight Lieutenant Basil John Brachi when they were lost over the North Sea on 29th January 1944.

And now that I have found out the serial number of the aeroplane, I can tell you even more. The plane took off at 01:15, one of seven from West Raynham in Norfolk on a “Serrate” mission, which was to pick up the radar emissions of the German night-fighters’ “Lichtenstein” equipment, and then follow the emissions to the source (ie the night-fighter) and shoot it down. However, the starboard engine of the Mosquito failed and so Brachi turned for home. A short while later, the port engine failed and so Brachi and MacLeod bailed out. No trace was ever found of Brachi or of the aeroplane, but the body of MacLeod was washed ashore near here on 5th May 1944. And here he lies.

I’ve not done too much today – not even been for my mid-morning (or mid-afternoon) coffee. I didn’t have the courage to go outside very much. Mind you, this weather didn’t encourage me too much.

but I did go out this evening and one of the little restaurants here directed me to the fritkot which is now open. And I had fritjes for tea, just for a change. And tomorrow, the ice-cream parlour in the town opens up. Of course, I shall have to go to give it an official visit.

apart from that, I’ve had a shower today and washed my clothes. And depressingly, I find that I’ve only bought two polo shirts with me, not three. So I’m going to have to stay in this one while the other one dries. Let’s hope that that will be tomorrow.

And I know know why next-door neighbour’s 06:30 alarm didn’t wake me up this morning. The hour has changed, hasn’t it. I didn’t realise until this evening when I thought that it was quite light for 20:00 when i went out for my fritjes. My telephone is automatic, and so is my laptop, so they got on with the job of changing the hour without me knowing anything about it. No wonder I was rather tired this morning.

But now I’m off for an early night because I can’t keep up the pace. Only a few more days now before my second hospital appointment so I hope that they will have some news for me.

30th April 2015 – NOT ONLY DID I …

… finish the plasterboarding around where the beichstuhl will be, I have made further great progress today.

First though, I had a rummage around in the barn looking for plasterboard. I can see me being short of decent plasterboard for the shower room if I’m not careful, and around the beichstuhl will be a good place to use a few offcuts.

So once that had been done, I attacked the major task that needed to be done, and one which I am never happy when I have to do it.

tiling beichstuhl shower room les guis virlet puy de dome franceWallpapering is a job that I detest, as you know, but one that I am never happy tackling, much as I enjoy it, because I’m rubbish at it, is tiling.

However, supposing that it all sticks to shere it’s supposed to, it hasn’t come out too badly. Thats mainly because I managed to make the consistency of the paste just about right, but also to the Rawlplug electric tile-cutter that I bought for peanuts from a car boot sale years ago. It’s cheap and basic, and the design could be improved in a million ways, but it cuts tiles a thousand times better and a thousand tiles quicker that I could ever do and it was well worth every penny that I paid for it.

I had fun cutting the hole for the breather pipe, but luckily it’s near the edge of a tile so I cheated with a deft little technique with the tile cutter

Now I know that I have said on a million occasions that I hate white, so why the white tiles? The answer is that when I lived with Laurence and her daughter Roxanne, and Roxanne’s school was making mosaics, a friend of a friend gave me “some” waste tiles – “some” being enough to fill a Ford Escort estate. And there were plenty in there that were certainly serviceable, so I put them on one side for jobs such as this.

So that’s a nice job to finish off the week, as it’s Bank Holiday and so a day off tomorrow. No alarm, and no working either. I could do with a few more days like that.

Saturday 28th May 2011 – The first thing …

… that I remembered this morning was the usual cacophony of bells and whistles and the like. Second thing was the boulangère outside. And I hadn’t left her any money and I wanted to see her to cancel the bread while I’m away. Ahhh well.

And so after a leisurely morning of not doing much it was off to Commentry. And no OSB in the DiY place either. That’s a blow. I’ll have to use one piece of anything that I’ve got around here and then get the rest in the UK. But they did have a bundle of coving stuff there – end of series and the like – all for €3:00 and so that ended up in the back of Caliburn.

At the Bonnes Affaires I bought another one of the huge casseroles with lids, and that will be the beichstuhl for outside, when I come back.

And at the swimming baths at Neris something quite unusual happened. I was there before it opened and in the queue in front of me was a young kid. When she got to the ticket office to pay, the attendant asked her how old she was.

She was 11, so she said, and the age limit for an unaccompanied child is 12, so the attendant turfed her out. The kid burst into tears and so, feeling quite sorry for her, I found myself saying to the attendant “that’s ok – I’ll keep an eye on her”

When I was the stepfather to Roxanne we used to go to the swimming baths every week. I taught her to swim and to do lots of other aquatic things too and we used to have a great time there. It was something that I really missed after I split up with her mother – I was such a good dad to her, I reckon – and so with this girl we had the same kind of fun in the swimming baths. I taught her to do somersaults underwater, to swim on her back, and then we did a quick 12 lengths of the pool, and it’s quite a long one too and I was shattered. I have to say that I haven’t had so much fun for ages. It’s what I really miss, doing something useful and productive.

But just imagine that in the UK!

simca aronde commentry allier franceAnd while I was at Neris-les-Bains I encoutered another old car from the early 1960s parked up outside the swimming baths. The Simca Aronde was one of the most popular cars of its size in France during the 50s and early 60s, selling almost one and a half million examples, and there are still quite a few about here and there.

This is a P60 model, launched in 1959 and manufactured up until 1964. This one here is in surprisingly good condition for its age and looked really nice.

Tomorrow it’s the final matches of the season. We have Pionsat’s 1st XI, having blown their season last week, playing against Manzat who are already relegated. That’s at 15:00. That clashes with Marcillat’s 1st XI playing Commentry, but Marcillat’s 2nd XI are playing at 13:00, also at home, and so I reckon I’ll go there first and make a good day of it.