Tag Archives: satnav

Saturday 17th April 2021 – REGULAR READERS …

fisherman throwing fish back into sea beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall… of this rubbish will recall that we have watched fisherman after fisherman standing on the rocks, or in boats, or on the beach, day after day after week after week and never ever catching anything at all.

And here we are today, watching a fisherman with a fish in his hand, and what is he doing except throwing it back into the sea. The first one that we’ve ever seen caught around here.

Mind you, this is a bit of a cheat. It looks as if he’s had a fishing net out on the beach while the tide has been in and while it’s on its way out, he’s gone out there to retrieve his catch. But as for why he would want to thrown one of his catch back into the sea is totally beyond me. I don’t understand this at all.

helicopter pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThat’s not the only thing that’s been puzzling me this afternoon. We’ve had another one of these aerial afternoons today, with an endless stream of aircraft going by overhead.

Not any big stuff unfortunately – that is to say, nothing that I could see, and that is no surprise given the thick 10/10ths clouds that we’ve had today. We probably couldn’t see a thing about two or three thousand feet. Instead we’ve had a procession of all kinds of light aircraft going past me while I was on my afternoon walk.

This is just one of the machines that flew by me. It’s a helicopter of course but it’s of a type that I don’t immediately recognise with its twin outriggers at the rear. The make will probably occur to me once I’ve pressed “send” and published these notes, as this sort of thing usually does.

This morning I was up with the lark and the first alarm yet again, and then after my medication I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. I had actually been in Vienna. It was something to do with the cathedral. It was a huge place and there were all kinds of things happening to it so they had set up a team to keep watch on there. Some of the watching was discreet and some of the watching was public. There was a theatre there and a couple of people who were involved in this, at the end of the night when everyone had gone would audition acts who would act out in the theatre. There would be actors, dancers, that kind of thing and I’m often stay up at night and watch. I really couldn’t tell the difference between a good actor and a bad actor from the standard at which they were dealing because they weren’t dealing with the ordinary run-of-the-mill stuff and some of the acerbic comments that they were making about some people I didn’t understand at all because it was way over my head. But it was extremely interesting. The cathedral authorities were receiving notes or finding notes such as “what about the damage to such-and-such cathedral over 11 years that went un-noticed and they were spending all of their time examining what was happening here?” These were generally dismissed as being to work of ineffective or weak people whereas some notes they were taking far more seriously because of the style in which they had been written. This dream went on for ages and ages and there was much more to it than this. I just wish that I could remember it all.

First task this morning after the dictaphone was to deal with the photos from August 2019. And I’ve found to my dismay that I’ve made a rather serious error. While I was in North America I visited the site of Fort CF Smith in Montana and although the remains have been described as “difficult to see”, I couldn’t see them at all.

With everything that I’ve been through, I would have thought that I would have been able to discern something so I was disappointed.

But examining a few aerial and satellite photographs I’ve discovered that the Lady Who Lives In The Satellite has some how made an error of about 200 metres because while the GPS co-ordinates on the Satnav gave me one reading, the same co-ordinates typed into a satellite viewer come up with a place on the other side of the road.

And to make things even worse, from the satellite, the outline of the fort is clearer than anything similar that I have ever seen.

Ahh well. You can’t win a coconut every time. I shall just have to go back there again.

There was a break in the middle of all of this for a shower, and then later on I went for my hot chocolate and sourdough fruit bread. No shopping today as I’m off on my travels on Wednesday at … gulp … 05:55.

There have been a few things that I needed to do this morning too. Like emptying out the mailbox, claiming a refund for my delayed train the other week before the time period runs out, and then trying to make a recalcitrant shipping company reply to a message that I’ve sent them four times now.

After lunch I came back in here to carry on with some work but unfortunately I crashed out yet again. I was away for over an hour as well and I’m not very happy about that. But at least I’ve managed to catch up with some outstanding work that I’ve been meaning to do, and that’s another task completed.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere was a break for my afternoon walk of course and so I went out with the NIKON D500 and peered over the wall at the end of the car park to see what was going on down on the beach.

This afternoon I wasn’t expecting to see very much because the weather was totally depressing. Dark, overcast and miserable. There were a few people walking around down there but not too many actually making themselves comfortable.

The members of the little group in this photograph were just about the only people standing around, although I suspect that they were more interested in the little kiddy that was running around

And of course, there was the fisherman with his net …

Nothing else was going on around here and I had the footpath on the top of the cliffs to myself

boat le loup baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallLe Loup, the light on the rock at the entrance to the harbour, was swathed in darkness today in the miserable weather.

So much so that in fact I was surprised to note that it wasn’t illuminated, especially as the tide was well out today and the rock was exposed. There was a fisherman around there too, in his rubber boat, having a go at the sea bass and being singularly unsuccessful.

There wasn’t anything else going on out there this afternoon. For a change, there were no fishing boats in the Baie de Mont St Michel either. They must be having the weekend off.

So in the absence of anything else exciting, I carried on along the path and across the main road where a Mercedes actually stopped to let me cross. Wonders will never cease.

cherie d'amour chantier navale port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallThe yellow fishing boat was down there in the chantier navale and once again the ladder was propped up against the hull so I couldn’t see the name on it.

With nothing better to do, I went for a walk down there for a closer look and I can now tell you that she’s called Cherie d’Amour. She’s up there on her chocks and blocks, but I couldn’t actually see any signs of work that was being undertaken on her.

They aren’t very big, these fishing boats. But all they do is to go back and to to the shellfish beds and lay the odd lobster pot. And as I’ve said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … they have a cover over the boat to stop the seabirds diving down to steal the catch.

aztec lady chantier navale port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhile I was down there, I took the opportunity to have a look at the other more longer-term occupants of the Chantier Navale, like Aztec Lady over there.

She’s actually the longest inhabitant of the Chantier Navale and she’s been there longer than I can remember, and longer than I ever thought she would when she first arrived here all that time ago.

And despite all of the time that she’s been in here, she looks as if she has a long way to go yet. Her hull is looking rather shabby and in need of a coat of paint. I would have thought that they would have given the paintwork a good going over to freshen her up while she’s been here.

anakena chantier navale port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallThe other boat that has been in here for a good length of time is this one, Anakena.

And seen from this angle, out of the water and up on blocks, you can see that she’s a very serious piece of kit, well beyond what you’d expect to see in a port like this. The carrying capacity of the portable boat lift is 95 tonnes and I bet that she’s pretty near the maximum.

What I do know is that she’s 23 metres long and 5 metres wide and she would have been the kind of boat that I would have considered for a trip up to the far North except that she’s only single-hulled.

Nothing else of any note in the Chantier Navale so I wandered off back towards the apartment.

f-brnq Piper PA-28R-200 pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallHalfway home, I started to encounter the aerial flotilla that I mentioned earlier.

This particular one is a Piper PA-28R-200, serial number F-BRNQ. I’ve no idea where she had come from but she was picked up on the radar just to the west of Chartres. She then disappeared off the radar somewhere to the south-west of St Hilaire du Harcouet about 15 minutes before I saw her.

Apparently she had taken off from Lognes at the south-east of Paris at 14:47 and landed at Granville at 16:22. And at 17:18 the took off again and flew back to Lognes. She spends a lot of time at Lognes, so it seems, so it’s a fair bet that Lognes is her home airfield.

light aeroplane pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallWe saw the helicopter earlier on. That was the next thing to fly past, but then it was followed by this machine.

This is a type of machine that I’ve seen before. I recognise the shape, but it’s another thing to which I cannot put a name. It’s something else that I’ll probably discover quite soon after I’ve posted this on-line.

But I really don’t understand why it is that there would be so many aircraft, one after the other, flying past over my head this afternoon as I was walking home for my hot coffee. It did make me wonder what I’d be encountering next before I reached my own front door.

modern morgan v twin rue des juifs Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd it goes without saying that after all of this I was going to encounter something unusual before my journey finished.

This machine roared past me as I crossed over the Rue des Juifs and at first glance I thought that it might have been the Holy Grail of road vehicles – a V-twin three-wheeler Morgan. That’s probably what it might be, although it’s not what I was hoping for. A lose look at the engine and the front of the chassis shows that it’s a modern reproduction.

What I was hoping to see was a 3-wheeler Morgan from the 1920s and 30s fitted with the old V-twin JAP engine, something that I would sell my soul to own if ever one became available. But I doubt whether one will ever come up for sale in the near future.

Back here there was football. TNS v Penybont on the internet. As expected, TNS ran out winners 1-0, but they were made to work hard for it.

Penybont defended really well but like most Welsh Premier League clubs, were devoid of very much firepower. Sam Snaith is the one player whom they have who can pull something out of nothing but taking him off the field after an hour because he hasn’t doe anything much as yet and replacing him with a player who doesn’t have the same flashes of inspiration and who needs much more service was a tactic that was never going to pay off.

And that’s a surprise considering that Penybont’s manager Rhys Griffiths was one of the greatest strikers that the WPL has ever produced.

While I was doing that I was copying the CDs that I had received from the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival. I’m going to be doing a radio programme in the near future that features music from the Festivals.

Tea was out of a tin tonight, followed by one of the desserts that I made the other day. And now I’ve done my notes, I’m off to bed and hopefully having a lie-in tomorrow. And about time too. I’m ready for this.

Saturday 15th August 2020 – I’VE DONE SOMETHING …

… today that I haven’t done since 2005. And this time even more so because while back then it cost me nothing, this time it’s cost me a lot of money.

But ask me if I care.

What I’ve done is to walk away from a hotel that I had booked for tonight and went somewhere else (far more expensive).

But more of this later. Last night I had a strange sleep – waking up at about 00:45 to find that the radio was playing. And then sleeping through until about 05:45 without moving. Not a single nocturnal voyage anyqhere to be seen

Plenty of time to do a load of paperwork and then I went down to breakfast. Unfortunately I wasn’t feeling too well so I didn’t eat much which was a shame because there was tons of stuff there. It could have been an outstanding breakfast.

Unfortunately Jackie wasn’t available but Alison was free today as well as tomorrow so we agreed to meet up this afternoon.

Dodging the roadworks and the heavy showers, I set off for Leuven.

Friterie Marsupilami Route de Marche, 6600 Bastogne, Belgium eric hallThe Lady Who Lives In The SatNav brought me all the way through Luxembourg, where I fuelled up before crossing the Belgian border (fuel at €0:97/litre) and the Ardennes, passing through the town of Bastogne where I stopped to take a photo of another abandoned bus

It’s an old “bendy bus”, one of the articulated buses and judging by its number plate it comes from the town of Rotenburg in Lower Saxony but it’s now the Friterie Marsupilami, the FritKot on the Edge of Town.

There’s a fritkot on almost every corner in Belgium and this is certainly one of the more interesting ones. It’s closed though so I couldn’t find out what it was like.

It took me a good while to find Alison’s house – The Lady Who Lives In The SatNav having brought me into town in entirely the wrong direction. It was a nice afternon so we went to the English shop for a supplies such as vegan ice cream.

herons Kasteel van Leefdaal belgium eric hallLater on we went for a walk. We discovered a new footpath that eventually took us past the Kasteel van Leefdaal.

Here we could admire the wildlife swimming on one of the many ponds – mostly man-made ponds – around there

Not that I would want to go swimming on a pond like that. There’s that much algae floating aound on top that you could probably walk on it – or, at least, someone lighter than me could. I must keep on with the battle to keep my weight down.

swans Kasteel van Leefdaal belgium eric hallThe Chateau isn’t open to the public unfortunately and it’s hidden behind a rather large wall so you can’t actually see very much of it.

Currently owned by the Counts of Liedekerke it dates from the Renaissance period and replaced a previous building. There is known to have been a building on the site since at least the 12th Century.

Armed with our vegan ice cream, we then went back to Alison’s house for a chat. We must be both getting old because we ended up crashing out in the garden in the sun, something that we found quite amusing, although in fact it was a rather sad indictment of our states of health these days.

Alison had to go out later so I set off through one of the most wicked rainstorms that I have ever encountered. All of the road round by Braine l’Alleud was flooded and the traffic lights at a road junction had failed. That led to certain complications until we all managed to sort ourselves out.

strawberry moose silly belgium eric hallAs well as having A FAVOURITE TOWN IN AUSTRIA Strawberry Moose also has a favourite town in Belgium.

It goes without saying that as we were passing within a mile or two of the place, we had to go there. His Nibs is never one to pass up on a photo opportunity whenever he gets the chance, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall.

Having done that, we headed off down to peruwelz on the Belgian – French border and my hotel. But one look at it convinced me that this was not where I wanted to stay. Crowds of single men loitering outside, sitting on the steps or leaning against the wall. Crowds of them.

It’s the kind pf place that gave me a most uneasy, eerie feeling that I can’t explain. But always having been one to rely on my own intuition, I decided that it wasn’t the place for me so I went elsewhere.

Tea tonight was a plate of chips and a salad, and watching the people coming into the fritkot, I can see immediately why the infection rate in Belgium is so high. Despite all of the precautions that are supposed to be taken, the wearing of masks is, shall we say, rather casual.

And the roads in Belgium are appalling. They are much worse that I ever remembered them. They are just like in a third-world country and for one of the richest countries in the world, it’s an embarrassment.

Tomorrow I won’t have far to go on Belgian roads because I’m close to the frontier here. About a kilometre away, I reckon.

With any luck I’ll be over the border early tomorrow and then a leisurely drive home. It might take a couple of days to make it but I’ll be back by the middle of the week. It’s been a long time

Sunday 2nd August 2020 – TONIGHT, I’M IN …

… Munich in Germany.

It’s Sunday today but even so, I set an alarm. Only for 08:00 though as I need to be up and about, breakfasted and gone by 10:00 today.

And despite the later alarm time and the fact that it’s Sunday, I still awoke bolt upright at 06:03. No chance of gtting up at that stupid time. I turned over and went back to sleep until a more reasonable and respectable time.

All of this meant that there was plenty of time for me to go off on my travels again last night and I started off at Rosemary’s. We were discussing kitchen arrangements, cooking, that kind of thing. I ended up swapping slow cookers and letting her have mine in exchange for one of hers because one was a bigger size than the other and I can’t remember now which way round was which. But it suited me to have the one she had and it suited her to have the one that I had so I proposed a swap

Later on I was with Nerina and we were on our travels. We came to a freighter that was going to take us on to somewhere but we suddenly realised that we didn’t have any insurance and there was no security patrol or anything on board this ship so I had to set off leaving Nerina with the car in this queue to run down the road and came to some kind of insurance place. I went in and it really was a dive. The people there were dirty and certainly weren’t clerical types at all but I explained what i wanted. They went away and came back with a green form. I gave them a £20 note and they gave me £12-something back and a box of chocolates. I had to run back to the car because they would be loading by this time. I’d told them in the insurance what was happening about this and what I wanted. So I ran back and came to these steps and had to run all the way up these steps, stone narrow steps and i was counting them as I went up. I got to 60 but I was still running up these steps and still going and I came round the corner and a couple of kids were playing right by the edge of this cliff drop which I thought was a bit strange. There were still more steps and I had to keep on running up here to try to get back to where Nerina was with the car, carrying the change in my hand, this green card, this box of chocolates

Finally, I was a bit loaded up last night. I had all of my holiday gear with me including the camera. I ended up with a guitar and I had a long way to walk. I was hoping that I would find somewhere where I could leave the guitar and come back for it later. My first idea was the church so I went there but it was all locked up. I was wondering what to do and someone else told me that there was another church further on downtown. I walked down there and came across some kind of building and the church was built on the back of that. I went round the back there just as the policeman was locking up the door ready to go away. I thought “forget that” and continued walking. I suddenly had this thought “what have I done wiht my camera?” I had a search among the stuff that I was carrying and in the end found that the camerz was slung around my neck but for some unknown reason it was underneath my jumper. At least I had it. I had to carry on walking towards where I was going to go and that was where this voyage broke off.

After breakfast it didn’t take too long to pack and tidy everything up, and by 10:00 I was on the road heading northwards.

The weather had started off as a gloomy morning and that didn’t help my mood. And neither did all of the grockles driving around at about 20mph admiring the scenery. They might have had nothing better to do, but I did.

There were several roadworks and diversions too. Because of the winter weather there’s only a short timescale in which to do road-mending so of course it has to be in summer.

The closer I came to Munich the greyer the weather became and by the time I came out of a tunnel on the Munich ring road I was in the middle of a torrential downpour.

One thing that I have noticed is that this Satnav is not using the same program as the previous one. Despite setting the preferences to exactly the same as the previous one, it brought me into Eching in a completely different way and I drove past Hans’s apartment building before I had realised where I was.

It’s nice to see Hans again. We had a coffee and then despite the showery weather we climbed into Hans’s jeep and headed off to the nearest metro station to catch a train into Munich.

Hans knew of a little vegan restaurant so we headed there for a drink and some banana cakeand then wandered off in search of excitement.

Wittelsbacher Brunnen Maxvorstadt, Munich, Bavaria, Germany.eric hallOur first port of call was the Wittelsbacher Brunnen, or fountains.

The Wittelsbachs were the royal family of the Kingdom of Bavaria until the political upheaval at the end of World War I. Munich was their capital and the eplendour that survived the bombing of World War II gives some kind of indication of their wealth.

The fountain was designed by Adolf von Hildebrand, a famous German designer of fountains, and sculptor Erwin Kunz and was built between 1893 and 1895.

Wittelsbacher Brunnen Maxvorstadt, Munich, Bavaria, Germany eric hallIts purpose, bizzarely enough, was to celebrate the arrival in the city of the new high-pressure water pipeline from the Mangfall, a river in Upper Bavaria that is a tributary of the river Inn.

A site was chosen at the junction of the Karlsplatz and Lenbachplatz where the old city walls had been, and it was unveiled on 12th June 1895. We are told that the design consists of all kinds of allegories connected to the power of water

The fountain suffered damage during the bombing raids but was restored by one of Hildebrand’s pupils and reopened on 3rd October 1952.

From there we pushed off down the road to continue our little exploration of the north-west corner of the inner city.

karolinenplatz munich bavaria germany eric hallOur little stoll brought us to the Karolinenplatz. This is named for Princess Caroline of Baden who married Maximilian Joseph, Duke of Palatine-Zweibrucken and became Queen Caroline II of Bavaria when her husband became King in 1806.

When Napoleon set off for his disastrous invasion of Russia in 1812, he took 36,000 Bavarian troops with him, but only 6,000 returned home. The column, designed by Leo von Klenze, is a monument to those 30,000 Bavarian soldiers who disappeared.

The Square was designed by Karl von Fischer (who died in 1820) who based his design upon that of the Place de l’Etoile, where the Arc de Triomphe is, in Paris.

The big building to the left of the column is the Palace of Prince George and you might have expected it to have been easy for me to tell you all about Prince George, but instead I’ll merely mention that so far I’ve been able to trace about a dozen Prince Georges so you can take your pick.

Our next stop is going to be the the Konigsplatz so we walked down the Briennerstrasse, another part of von Fisher’s great design.

On the corner of the Arcisstrasse are two very large and heavy plinths that I didn’t photograph, because there are the bases of a couple of temples erected to the memory of thse supporters of Hitler who were killed in the Munich Putsch of 1923.

konigsplatz munich bavaria germany eric hallThere was no summer festival in Munich this year because of the virus, which was a shame although it was quite understandable, but what we had instead were little festival sites scattered around the city, like the one here at the Konigsplatz.

This is another part of Karl von Fischer’s masterpiece. He had been charged with organising an orderly expansion of the city beyond the old city walls at this point.

The Propylaea Gate that we can see in this image though isn’t by him but by Leo von Klienze and dates from 1862. It was originally intended to be a commemoration of the accession of King Ludwig’s son Otto to the throne of Greece in 1832 but it took so long to build that in effect it became a monument to the overthrow of King Otto from his throne by the Greek people after 30 years of rule.

roundabout summer in the city konigsplatz munich bavaria germany eric hallThe whole area is bedecked with “Summerin the City” banners as people make the most of whatever entertainments there are in the area.

Everyone seemed to be enjoying the fun, even if there wasn’t all that much of it. It’s a far cry from the traditional Munich summer festivals but we are living right now in extraordinary times.

Having wandered around loking at the sites and being unable to go to either of the two museums here, we went off for a wander around to look for a metro station because we were going to be heading from here into the town centre. We eventually found something in the Louisenstrasse and from there we ended up in the Marienplatz.

One thing that I like about the German language is the name that is given to the local town hall and civic administration offices in the towns – the Rathaus. I can’t think of anything more appropriate.

old town hall Altes Rathaus Spielzeugmuseum marienplatz munich bavaria germany eric hall
This is the Altes Rathaus, or Old Town Hall. The building was known to be in existence in 1310 and underwent a reconstruction, the first recorded of very many, between 1392 and 1394.

The spire beside it is actually the old Talburgtor gate in the eary city walls. As you can see, the gate is quite narrow and so in the 1870s they actually tunneled through the ground floor, with a second tunnel being put through in 1935. And in 1938 in the Great Hall Josef Goebbels made the speech that launched the Kristallnacht – the destruction of Jewish property in Germany in 1938.

It was badly damaged by bombing in World War II and not restored until the early 1970s. Somewhere in my ancient collection of photos I have a photo taken of it in 1988 when I was here with Nerina and when I get back to the farm, whenever that might be, I’ll dig it out.

town hall rathaus marienplatz munich bavaria germany eric hallThis building here looks absolutely magnificent so it’s very easy t lose sight of the fact that this is a much more modern “Gothic Revival” building.

In the second half of the 19th Century it became apparent that the old town hall was becoming too small for modern needs so in 1867 construction of a new building, designed by Georg Hauberrisser, began.

The Town Council offices moved here in 1874 but as the building was still too small, further enlargements took place. The building was not finally finished until 1906. It has 400 rooms and covers an area of over 9,000m²

Somewhat surprisingly, it escaped severe destruction during the bombing attacks of World War II and was very quickly, if simply, restored

musicians marienplatz munich bavaria germany eric hallOne thing that was nice to see here was a group of musiciens entertaining the crowd of people.

Although masks are not compulsory in the open air, it’s pretty much a waste of tie to just wear one over your mouth and not over your nose. And I would have loved to have seen the flautist play the flute wearing a mask. That would have been interesting.

Having finished our wandering around we ended up in the Munchener Freiheit at a little Indian café that I know, rather like the one in Montreal. A bowl of curry was delicious – it’s been a long time since I’ve had a decent one of those.

By now the heavens had really opened and we were being pasted in a torrential downpour. Walking from the metro to the car, we were drenched.

A couple of films and a good chat finished off the evening and then we all went our separate ways.

The sofa here is really comfortable so I’m settled down for the night. We’ll see what tomorrow will bring me.

Tuesday 28th July 2020 – I’VE BEEN RELIVING …

… a photo that was taken 50 years ago, almost to the very day.

view butte de suin 71220 saone et loire france eric hallBut as you admire a few photos of the glorious views from today’s lunch stop, I’ll start off by putting things in their proper order.

To start with – or, more to the point, not to start with – I missed the alarms this morning as usual and it was more like 07:30 that I finally ended up crawling out of bed.

No breakfast this morning either. In view of the virus situation it’s a bag already made up and deposited outside your door and that’s not really very much good to new as there is nothing really in it that I could eat.

Instead I carried on with some paperwork for a while.

view of alps butte de suin 71220 saone et loire france eric hallNerina had been off doing something or other during the night and the first person to come back was Hans complaining that the collection had been absolutely nothing. I carried on waiting but as I walked away I had Nerina’s coffee with me and her white tag so I had to go and put her coffee back at the foot of the stairs into the cellar. Someone made the remark that that coffee was ruined. I said “it was only made 10 minutes ago” but they said that it had all skin and everything all over the top of it as if it had been made a day or two. I brought it down to show them but Nerina came down. I told her what hans had said about the collection and she replied that it was pretty miserable. There weren’t all that many people there. We carried on walking and she asked “is there any possibility that you can do something about your language courses, especially July and August as it’s going to clash with something here with the choir?” She told me all about it. I wasn’t sure that the language courses ran through July and August – they only do through the school term time. I said “that’s so far ahead that we don’t really need to see about that right now”. We went for tea and tea was porridge. People were making their porridge up and burning it. Mine was quite reasonably good and I was eating it. This Chinese waiter came past and saw one of the porridges on someone’s table which was burnt. he said “you’re just ruining that porridge here”. I asked “how would you go about doing it?” He said “you start off by making a tower of cereal and then you and then he started rambling and I couldn’t follow or understand so I asked him to repeat it. I couldn’t understand it again so he said it a second time.

view to south wast butte de suin 71220 saone et loire france eric hallAnd there was far more to it than this but as you are probably eating your tea right now i’ll spare you the details.

Having finished my notes I packed my things, I headed off out to the van with my luggage. On the way past the reception desk in the hotel I did pick up a coffee on the way out of the hotel. At least it was free and I had a free hand to carry it.

Having forgotten once more to take a photo of my night’s lodging I found my way around the industrial estate to the LeClerc where I picked up a few more travel essentials to ease me along on my journey to wherever it is that I’m going (which I still haven’t decided yet).

view to north butte de suin 71220 saone et loire france eric hallIncluding a new SatNav.

The one in my van is a cheap thing, about 7 or 8 years old, well out of date now and apart from that, the connection is loose. So you’re driving along and you suddenly notice that it’s switched off and you missed a turning or two a long way back. It takes a while to make another connection and then it drops again and we repeat the process.

In Leclerc though, they had a decent mainstream one with free updates and because it was the last one – the display item, they knocked me something off it.

There was some excitement there too. Someone wandering around without a facemask was being given a PV – a Procès verbale or on-the-spot fine by a Gendarme.

view to north east butte de suin 71220 saone et loire france eric hallBack on the road again I headed on eastwards along the big dual carriageway towards the Rhone valley.

A little later on during the morning I stopped again in a suitable lay-by near Charolles. We had arranged to have a Welsh lesson this morning.

Determined not to miss it, I’d configured Zoom on my telephone and I attended that lesson accordingly. It wasn’t very convenient but at least it worked, which goes to show just how useful modern technology can be. This opens up all kinds of possibilities for the future.

view of church butte de suin 71220 saone et loire france eric hallFor lunch I found a beautiful spot on a butte overlooking a village called Suin.

The N79 is a road that i’ve travelled on several occasions and each time I’ve been along it, I’ve seen a sign for a scenic viewpoint, the Butte de Suin. That seemed to be a suitable place to stop for lunch

It took quite a bit of finding too, for although it’s only a couple of miles as the crow flies from the N79, it’s a long and tortuous route to arrive at the summit and I was starving by the time that I reached the top of the butte

view in direction of cluny tournus autun butte de suin 71220 saone et loire france eric hallMy butty with its assorted fillings was all the more delicious because of the wait and the view was even more delicious. It enticed me to spend a good hour or so having a wander around.

If the altimeter on my telephone is correct, I’m an 592 metres right now, on a bluff overlooking a couple of river valleys right on the watershed between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean river system. You’ve seen in several of the previous photographs the kind of view that there is from up here on top, but I’m not sure what that is on the horizon over there.

It could be a broadcasting aerial I suppose, or else it could be a water tower. But it’s far too far away for me to identify it clearly.

view of alps butte de suin 71220 saone et loire france eric hallWe are so high up here that away in the distance when the weather is clear you can see all the way to Mont Blanc in the Alps.

It’s over there in that direction towards the right but unfortunately you can’t see it today which is a shame. If you peer through the gloom and the haze you can just about see the outline of the Alps on the far side of the Saone Valley.

That’s probably 100 or so kilometres away and Mont Blanc is a long way further off beyond there on the border between France and Italy. And that reminds me – it’s been years since I’ve put my sooty foot in Italy. It’s high time I went over there again but I don’t have time right now.

butte de suin 71220 saone et loire france eric hallOn top of the Butte de Suin is a statue of the Madonna.

The design of this statue is said to be inspired by the statue of the Golden Madonna that can be found in the Basilique Notre Dame on the top of the Fourvières Hill, the eminence that overlooks the city of Lyon.

That statue was designed by Joseph-Hugues Fabisch and erected in 1852. The one here at Suin dates from 1884 and from what I’ve seen, the two do look pretty similar.

statue of madonna butte de suin 71220 saone et loire france eric hallThere’s quite an interesting story that’s often told around here about the positioning of the Madonna on top of the hill here.

Elderly people talk of how many pairs of oxen and the hordes of men who were required to drag the statue to the top of the hill, even though it’s many years before their time. And each time you talk to someone, it’s always a different number of oxen and people involved in the work. It’s just like some of these Chinese whispers

And don’t ask me why she has what looks like a radio aerial stuck behind her because I don’t know that either. I suppose that it might be a lighning conductor.

butte de suin 71220 saone et loire france eric hallApart from the statue of the Madonna that we have already seen, ther ehave been a considerable number of curiosités built here on this summit in the past but unfortunately there are little if any visible remains.

The first recorded object up here was a temple that the Romans built to honour the dod Mercury, one of the 12 major Roman gods and was said to be the god of commerce and also of travellers, and it’s for this latter reason that I imagine that his temple was erected in such a prominent spot because from here he would have had a really impressive view of all of the traffic travelling up and down the valleys at the foot of the rock.

That might also explain why in medieval times there was a castle built up here. In the lawless days of the 13th and 14th Century any nobleman bent on on improving his financial situation could see the travellers too from miles away and send out a war party to exact a toll from them.

view of church butte de suin 71220 saone et loire france eric hallAnd the existence of the medieval castle might also explain the presence of the village here.

There had been a settlement of sorts here for a good many years and known to have been in existence in the 11th Century but the castle would have required all kinds of ancillary staff – farmers, millers and the like – who would not live in the castle but would want to live close by for protection and their presence would attract other tradesmen.

There was a church known to be here in the 10th Century but the present church has been altered and modernised so much that it’s impossible to say whether there are any vestiges of the original church

butte de suin 71220 saone et loire france eric hallThe castle was demolished as a consequence of the Wars of Religion

What we’re seeing here is not part of the medieval castle but the site of an orientation table. That was installed here in 1963 and renovated in 2008.

Something else that we can’t see either is a rather large medieval cross on the summit that was known to be here in the 10th Century and which I imagine (but I don’t know) would have been swept away when they built the castle up here.

What we can see, apparently, are 52 church towers. But I didn’t stay to count them all. I have things to do, places to go and people to see.

col des enceints 71520 Bourgvilain saone et loire france eric hallBack in Caliburn I set off to drive to Leynes and the house of my friend Jean-Marc and his wife.

My route through the back lanes of Burgundy took me over the Col des Enceints on the D212 between Bourgvilain and Pierreclos. it’s 529 metres high, but a climb up of 242 metres. Plenty of hairpin bends and at one point there’s a climb of 12%. That’ll warm up Caliburn ready for his visit to the Alps in a couple of days time.

20 minutes later I turned up the house of Jean-Marc. He was a boy with whom I had a school exchange back in 1970. We had lost touch after that but a casual meeting with a relative of his 6 or so years ago had enabled us to re-establish contact.

We’ve seen each other a few times since then and it’s nice to be in touch and exchange news.

We had a good chat and then we went round to see his mother. She’ll be 90 very shortly but I’ve seen 70 year old people much older than she is. She’s in the peak of health both physically and mentally which is astonishing.

50 years ago it was the birthday of Jean-Marc’s sister and we had taken a photo of the party. Today the three of us (without Isabelle) arranged ourselves as we had done back then and re-took the photo.

Back at Jean-Marc’s, Jacqueline had already prepared a meal. Stuffed courgettes, which brought back many happy memories of living in the Auvergne when courgettes would be on everyone’s menu at this time of year.

Our conversation continued, as we had a lot to say, for quite some considerable time until bed time. They had very kindly offered me a bed for the night which was very nice of them, and I took myself off there and that was that.

Tomorrow I’ll be moving on because there is still plenty to see and to do that must be done while I’m still able to do so and, more importantly, before we have this second lockdown which I am anticipating once the holiday season has finished.

Saturday 10th August 2019 – I WAS RIGHT …

… about the latitude and longitude co-ordinates! And, much to my surprise, so was the American Geographic Survey of (1869?). We both came up with the correct answer TO THE FOOT and that was impressive.

Another mystery that I solved this morning too is why there’s a difference of several dozen feet in the altitude for South Pass commonly cited by those who have access to the trail documents and the US Government Survey and those who rely on modern measuring techniques.

And that is that they are measuring the altitude of the Pass at different places. Where the modern highway crosses South Pass (and where the modern figure is given) is about 2 miles away from where the emigrants crossed over the Pass.

Bryant noted “The ascent to the Pass is so gradual that … we should not have been conscious that we had ascended to and were standing upon the summit of the Rocky Mountains” and he was right too, because I walked over the crest (such as it is) without noticing it at first.

So in my expensive Palace last night I had a reasonable night’s sleep with a couple of interruptions, including an attack of cramp in the left calf this time.

Breakfast was provided so I stuffed myself with free food and then collected my frozen water bottles and packed everything away.

Much to my own surprise more than anyone else’s I was on the road by 08:30 and that’s not something that happens every day.

The Lady Who Lives In the Satnav directed me to almost where I had ended up yesterday but about 200 or so metres from the modern summit she directed me off down a track to the left.

After about 2 miles down this track she announced “make your way 300 metres to your right” but I couldn’t see anything at all that would give me a clue so I drove on to a fence about 300 metres further on where I parked.

I walked back to where she had indicated, but couldn’t see anything at first. But closer inspection revealed that the sides of the track had been grubbed out and drainage ditches dug.

And so I crossed the ditches and there we were. Unmistakable signs of wagon tracks in each direction. Right by where I had expected them to be.

I walked several hundred yards along the tracks in each direction and they were certainly heading to and from where they were supposed to be, in the footsteps of emigrants from 170 years ago.

And the provenance of these tracks can be authenticated to a certain degree by the fact that they continue in a straightish line right across where the road and the drainage ditches are, broken only by these more modern constructions.

I was tempted to walk on to Pacific Springs, just a couple of miles further on. Its waters are known to be cool and invigorating, and I could have done with some of that, but I’m not as young as I used to be and I didn’t have much time.

Back on the road and back to Lander where I fuelled up the Kia and bought myself one of those ice-slush drinks. The day wasn’t hot as yet but I had a feeling that it might be.

The road north from Lander has its moments. Some of it is quite sterile but other parts are magnificent and I don’t have the words to describe the Wind River Pass. It’s one of the most phenomenal places that I have ever visited.

This afternoon we had a tremendous thunderstorm – just like the arrival of the Demon King – and it accompanied me for miles well beyond Billings. But round about 40 miles north I started to flag and a motel loomed up in the little town of Roundup.

Much more like my kind of motel this. Old, tired and cheap. But then again so am I. As for “value for money” which is always the most important consideration for me, it’s spot-on and just what I wanted.

The air conditioner blows right past the clothes rail so I had a shower and washed my clothes. They’ll dry pretty quickly now.

Lentil soup with pasta for tea and now I’m off to bed. It’s been a long tiring day and I’ve done 600 kms, all but about 20 of those being done on normal roads.

Tomorrow should see me back in Canada but I still have a long way to go.

Tuesday 30th July 2019 – THIS PLACE …

… would be a really nice place to stay if I could afford it. But it’s the first motel that I’ve seen in 120 miles and it only had one room left so I didn’t want to take any chances.

Last night was a bad night and this morning I felt like death. I really could have stayed there a second night too but at that rate I’m never going to accomplish anything.

With last night’s protein broth not doing me any good at all (the remainder of the packet went down the sink this morning), I tried the porridge but half of that went into the bin. And as for my grape juice, well, I shan’t bore you with the gory details about that. But that was disappointing.

Eventually I managed to drag myself outside and into the car and staggered off to finish the rest of the James River trail. It didn’t take long and then I was back on my route again.

The first half was boringly flat as you might expect but things gradually started to warm up. I can particularly remember my elation when I saw a proper hill.

The lady Who Lives In The Satnav took me down some interesting roads and through some interesting towns, including one called Ventura which, had it not been for the cars in the backyards, would have been placed quite properly back in the 1880s

As the day drew on I started to hit the hills and that was comforting. A stop for fuel and a chat with the lady who ran the place, and then off again.

At about 16:00 I hit the big city of Pierre where I crossed the Missouri (the photo that I took was rubbish because there was nowhere to get for a good view) and entered Mountain Time, losing an hour.

But while I was stopped trying to find a good photo spec, I was passed by almost every police car in South Dakota (I seem to have crossed into South Dakota somehow without noticing it) with blue and red lights flashing, just like in some of these “bad river” films. They shot off up one road, came back down and shot off up another one. It made me realise that I’m not all that far from Keystone.

Now I’m really in the mountains. The foothills of the Black Hills of Dakota, following the trail (quite literally) of the old Deadwood Stage. It’s well-signposted with quite a few things to see from the 180s and 1890s.

Eventually I arrived at the township of Philip. A place which has two claims to fame, according to the motel owner. One is that the coldest temperature in South Dakota in modern times has been recorded here, and the second is that the warmest ditto.

It’s a one-horse town of course but with a huge cattle market, and smells like it too. I’m glad that it isn’t me, but I took a shower just the same to be sure.

The motel owner is very friendly and spent quite a while chatting to me which was nice, and later I went for a walk around the town – but that didn’t take long.

But now I’m exhausted. I had a huge wave of fatigue during the afternoon that I managed to fight off (just about) until I found my second wind. So even though it’s only 20:00 I’m off to bed on my rather springy mattress.

See you in the morning.

Monday 13th May 2019 – I DON’T KNOW …

Yesterday, I’d seen my neighbours doing some cleaning up of the concrete platform at the side of the building. And so I went to see what was going on.

I’m not quite sure what this is that they have erected, and I’ve no idea as to its purpose. But I’m sure that I’ll find out in early course.

trawler english channel granville manche normandy franceThere weren’t all that many people out on land, but the seas were pretty crowded today.

There were all kind sof things out there this afternoon, including this beautiful trawler heading in towards the harbour.

The sea was absolutely beautiful this afternoon.

zodiac fishing rod and line granville manche normandy franceIt wasn’t just trawlers out there either;

There were a few smaller boats out there with two or three people in them, fishing with rod and line. Just like these two here in this zodiac.

I spent some time out there watching them, but they didn’t seem to be catching anything. It’s clearly not everyone’s lucky day.

yacht english channel granville manche normandy franceWhile I was looking at a couple of boats out to sea off the Brittany coast near St Malo, I could see something moving on the horizon.

Thinking that it might be a ship heading into port at St Malo I photographed it and back here, I cropped and enlarged it.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t a ship at all. It was just a boat with a rather large sail. The sail doesn’t look very yacht-like, so it might nevertheless be something interesting.

yachts baie de mont st michel st pair sur mer granville manche normandy franceWhile I was out admiring the shipping in the Baie de Mont St Michel, I fell in with a couple of tourists.

Having established that I was from the area, they asked me several questions about the town and the fishing industry here. And luckily, I was able to help them out.

It all brings back many happy memories of a previous existence when I did this for a living.

Back here? i decided to start on the notes for 2016 and, as it happens, I can’t find them anywhere.

I know that I must have copied them out somewhere because I have already written several web pages about events on that voyage.

But where they might be, I don’t have the least clue.

Tea was the falafel with steamed vegetables and cheese sauce followed by the last of the apple pie.

cherry picker evening beach plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallOf course, I went for my evening walk as usual, and there was no-one about at all except for a solitary girl smoking a cigarette and a couple of people carrying spotlights out of the theatre.

A couple of people were enjoying the late evening sun on the beach at Plat Gousset and I don’t blame them because it really was a nice evening.

There were a few youngsters too hanging around by the cherry-picker. I must really make an effort to see what that is being used for.

But that’s for another time, I reckon. Tonight I’m going to try to have an early night and a decent sleep.

fishing rod and linegranville manche normandy france eric hall
fishing rod and line granville manche normandy france

fishing rod and line granville manche normandy france
fishing rod and line granville manche normandy france

fishing boats english channel granville manche normandy france
fishing boats english channel granville manche normandy france

fishing boats baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france
fishing boats baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france

Monday 2nd July – I’VE BOMBED AGAIN …

… with tonight’s hotel – and spectacularly too.

But not so with the hotel from last night and where I am this morning. Not that I was there for much of the time of course because I was elsewhere for much of it.

I was at some kind of airport waiting for a flight, but someone needed me to take a bicycle across to somewhere else on the site. I had this huge suitcase with me and I was wondering how I could manage to take it with me on the bike, otherwise I’d have to come back for it and that wouldn’t be very easy.
And somewhere mixed up in all of this I was on a road halfway up a mountain. It was summer and I was enjoying the scenery and the weather. But then news came out that I had to take a coach with holidaymakers to a village nearby. And by now it was winter and they wanted to go to ski. No big deal, until I learnt that the hotel where they would be staying was several miles away and this involved some tricky driving in some dreadful weather conditions, and twice a day too.

And having had a decent sleep, I wasup and about quite early, showered, breakfasted and having done all that needs to be done.

First stop was of course the town itself. It’s a very pretty city on the edge of the Schwartzwald – the Black Forest – with lots of nice things to see.

And this was one of the reasons why I wanted to come here. Whenever I’ve been in the area I’ve always driven around the ring road and never actually had the time to come in and admire the view.

So today I went to put that right.

But the major claim to fame is that Donaueschingen is said to be the source of the River Danube, the longest river in Europe at something like 2850 kilometres.

And that’s where it’s said to begin, down there in that spring. This is probably the biggest tourist attraction in the city and this is why I’m here.

On my way out of town I stumbled across a LIDL so I stocked up the supplies. And a big difference between a German one and a French one is that here they sell hummus, and vegan hummus at that too.

Somewhere along the route I came across a village that had its war memorial on prominent display. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we have talked about German war memorials before.

In the UK he situation seems to be that there were about three times the casualties in World War I than in World War II. In Germany, while the World War I losses were comparable with those of the UK, the situation is reversed in that there are three times as many deaths in the latter war.

And most of the deaths – by far the most – took place in the final two years of the War. From the fall of Stalingrad onwards, these must have been cataclysmic times for the German soldier.

Another surprise awaited me further along the road.

Ruined castles and the like are things that are quite common to find in many parts of Western Europe, but in Germany they are quite rare.

And so I was impressed to see what looked like medieval stone ruins here at the side of the road.

But not even that could surprise me as much as this.

And I bet that many people won’t ever remember having seen one of these in their lifetime, and I’m certainly surprised to see one even now, especially with a green “pollution control” sticker in the windscreen.

This is an IFA-Wartburg 353, made in East Germany from the 1960s up until the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Sold in the UK as the “Wartburg Knight”, they had three-cylinder two-stroke engines and the pollution was legendary.

Only 9 moving parts in the engine, all of which used to go wrong and you could never find the spares to repair them.

Seeing one still alive, and with a pollution control sticker, is extraordinary.

For lunch I found a nice quiet corner to sit and relax in the heat, and then headed off out of the mountains.

This is where the traffic queues began and it was a nightmare to fight my way through the roadworks and the accidents.

At last I hit the Rhine where I could relax by the water for a while.

Having safely negotiated Karlsruhe I found the Rhine again, and it’s always a bad idea for me to see a ferry. It always makes me cross, as you know.

So more traffic queues, arguing with German drivers, all that sort of thing. And I eventually tracked down my hotel.

That wasn’t made easy by the fact that the street has been cut in two by a new by-pass and The Lady Who Lives In The Sat-Nav couldn’t work it out.

Now you know that bitter experience has taught me to check out the area before booking into a hotel. Well, this is the old railway station and it’s on a busy line.

The whole area is derelict and while the room itself is reasonable, it’s stifling hot and the noise from the railway right outside the window is deafening.

But at least the new plug on the slow cooker works okay. That’s one thing.

Saturday 30th June 2018 – WE HAD ANOTHER …

… early start today.

But this one meant business. Ulli was taking Hans off on a raft ride for his birthday and they had a long way to go. So we barely had time to exchange pleasantries before we all went our separate ways.

But I’d already been on my travels. Back on a job where I should have been retired but was still there. And instead of dealing with the post that was coming in, I was just filing it away un-dealt-with. And regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we’ve had several very similar travels to this one over the years.

For my part, I went off to the big shopping centre down the road. The big DiY place opens early so I went there to look for a German plug for the slow cooker.

A German plug will fit into e French socket but not the other way round, so to solve my cooking issues I’ll fit a German plug for mow. What I’ll do in the long term is to get a three-hole French extension and fit a German plug to that

I was in luck too. They had just the plug that I wanted, and for all of €1:89 too. So I changed the plug in the car park and now we are back in business.

There’s an IKEA just around the corner too so I went in there for breakfast.

But not breakfast in bed, like some lucky people.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that the other day Liz and I went to the IKEA at Caen. But they didn’t have enough of some stuff and they had sold out of some others. And so I went round and stocked up with what I had missed.

And it was cheaper than in Caen too.

I had to try a couple of supermarkets before I found a baguette, and then I headed off for the motorway. And we had an element of confusion yet again as The Lady Who Lives In The Satnav failed to recognise a grade-separated route.

having stopped for half an hour to eat my butties, I arrived at June and Dave’s at about 14:30. They live at Memmingen and June has just had a very major operation, so I was looking forward to seeing her and seeing how she was.

Catherine, her daughter, lives nearby so I went to pick her up and the four of us had a vegan pasta and a really good chat for hours.

June’s son had been a sound engineer for several rock bands, including Hawkwind and had played bass in several bands. All of his equipment was at June’s house and she had never heard his bass, a Fender Jaguar, played. And so I duly obliged.

Later that evening I took Catherine home and came back to June’s where I bedded down for the night in their guest room.

And the bed here is beautifully comfortable. I’m looking forward to this.

Thursday 28th June 2018 – HAVING BOMBED …

lech austria june juin 2018… on Tuesday night with my choice of sleeping accommodation, I can say without any fear of contradiction that I more than made up for it last night.

The issue of the plug for the slow cooker not working is a minor inconvenience really. The rest of it scored a good 11 out of 10 and I’ll be back here again.

I’m not sure who or what awoke me at 04:30 but it was nothing to do with the hotel.

At one moment or another I’d been off on my travels. With a friend of mine (who shall remain nameless) where I was invited to a meal given by a friend of hers. Not long after I’d ordered my meal, the person whose party it was started passing round some literature and seeking orders. It turned out that they were all “Biffers” and this was all about freeing their friends who had been imprisoned. Of course, I had no wish to associate myself with them, so I was all for walking out. But as I’d ordered my meal already, I was wondering if I should go and sit on a separate table. But I didn’t want to embarrass my friend.

lech austria june juin 2018After a shower I did some work on the laptop until breakfast time when I went downstairs to try out the delicious bread.

My landlady’s story was quite interesting. She’d come from Australian a back-packing holiday, run out of money and so had found a job as a chambermaid in Lech. Here, she had met a local boy and the rest is history.

She’d never seen snow before she came here, and neither had her family when they arrived for the wedding. And so, in June, they had a snowstorm on her wedding day.

“A real white wedding”, I told her.

lech austria june juin 2018After I’d finished my work, I went for a walk around the town to see what was going on.

I didn’t manage to make it out there last night and I was keen to take a few photographs to show you what you are missing.

It really is one of the most beautiful places on the planet, and I’d be happy to come to live here permanently.

old car lech austria june juin 2018And not for nothing am I here in Lech this morning. Today is the start of a vintage vehicle rally here in Lech and there are all types of old cars on parade in the town.

Ordinarily, every one of the 50 or so that I saw would have made it onto this page but I really was spoilt for choice. But you’ll have to make do with seeing a select few until I have more time to sit down and expand my notes.

After all, it’s not very easy doing this kind of thing when you are limited to irregular hotel internet connections and timed-out motorway service providers.

strawberry moose lech austria june juin 2018One thing that we do have to do is to give Strawberry Moose a suitable photo opportunity.

It’s not every day that he visits his favourite town in Europe and so it deserves to be recorded for posterity.

No camping allowed here in Lech, but that’s not a problem for him, although it might explain why Kenneth Williams and Hugh Paddick never visited the area.

strawberry moose der lecher lech austria june juin 2018His Nibs has only been here for 12 hours or so, but he’s already opened his own taxi business as you can see. It didn’t take him long to get his feet firmly planted under the table here.

Set up for life with a vehicle like this.

Lech, by the way, is twinned with the town of Beaver Creek in the USA, and you can make of that what you like.

Despite having come here on a few previous occasions, I’d never been right through and out of the other side of the town.

And with the urging of the Lady Who Lives In The SatNav, I set off northwards.

hochtannberg pass tyrol austria june juin 2018A little diversion was called for though.

There’s a back road that goes out to Bregenz (and had I known how this story was to unfold I’d have gone out that way) where there’s a mountain pass, the Hochtannberg Pass at 1675 metres, that I hadn’t climbed before.

There are dozens of photos going back to the 70s of all kinds of various vehicles photographed on the top of various mountain passes, and we are putting together a little collection of Caliburn there too.

But there wasn’t any parking here to make a really good photograph of Caliburn. A quick flash at the side of the road in between the traffic had to suffice.

hochtannberg pass tyrol austria june juin 2018But the view westwards was quite impressive too. And you can see what a magnificent area this is and why I was so happy to come here, even though the clouds were closing in rapidly.

It was round about here that I started to have the feeling that it wasn’t going to be my day.

And as I retraced my steps in the general direction of Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Oberammergau, a few drops of rain started to fall on the windscreen.

By the time I reached the German border the torrential rain was lashing down on everything in sight.

Considering the tropical weather that we had been having up to that point on this journey, this was quite a surprise. It put paid to any plans that I had to go sightseeing.

kloster ettal abbey germany june juin 2018There was however a small town along the route that was crammed full of tourists and it was here that I stopped to pick up some bread.

But do you know – I forgot to make a note of where I was so I can’t tell you anything about it.

I shall have to do some more research in due course when I update this page.

For lunch, I pulled over onto a layby at the side of the road. And here, shame as it is to say it, I fell asleep for a while. I’m not doing too well am I, these days?

This made me run quite late and what with all of the roadworks on the A95 (I decided to fahr’n fahr’n fahr’n down the autobahn after all in an attempt to make up the time) I hit Munich just in time for the start of the rush hour.

And having come from the south, I ended up straight in the city centre too. It was this point that I’d wished that I had come in from Bregenz on the south-west and hit the ring road instead.

As a result, the last 19kms of my journey took me 90 minutes and had I not performed a marvellous “taxi-driver’s creep” on a bright red Audi estate, much to my pleasure and his chagrin (he had a beautiful set of motor horns), I would probably be still stuck in Munich right now.

But it seems that The lady Who Lives In The Satnav doesn’t understand grade-separated junctions. A couple of times now she’s wanted me to turn right onto a road that’s 300 feet below the viaduct over which I’m driving. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

With me being so late, I’d missed the vegan shop around the corner from Hans so tea ended up being chips and salad from the beer garden next door.

Later that evening, Hans (who runs a whisky importing business) was having a tasting evening with 10 invited guests.

Everyone seemed to be having a really good time which was just as well. For me, I don’t drink alcohol and even when I did I couldn’t abide the smell, never mind the taste, of the stuff.

But good luck to those who do.

And so with the place smelling like a Babylonian boozer’s bedroom, I settled down for the night on one of the most comfortable sofas in the world.

And here I intend to sleep right through until I awaken.

Wednesday 27th June 2018 – WHAT A DREADFUL …

… night that was!

It was stifling hot in that bedroom so I had opened all of the windows. And not long after going to be I was joined by a moth and a mosquito. That put paid to any hope that I might have had about a decent night’s sleep.

No breakfast at the hotel either, so I had another shower and then my laptop decided to crash. It was clearly not going to be my day.

Having sorted myself out I took my stuff downstairs and handed in the key, to find the proprietor and her friend tucking into a hearty meal. “Kein frühstuck” indeed.

All in all, what with one thing and another, I wasn’t very impressed. But you can’t win a coconut every time and I’ve had some pretty good deals in the past.

police in streets koppigen switzerland june juin 2018Outside, all of the streets were full of policemen. I’m not sure why, unless they had heard that I was in the vicinity.

Apparently it is something to do with the roadworks and they are directing the traffic.

But all of Switzerland’s roads seem to be undergoing repair right now. It’s like one huge building site and there’s no end to it.

The road to Zurich was fairly rapid for a change and it didn’t take long for me to arrive there. But driving around it took me much longer than it might have done. It’s changed considerably over the last 30 years and the last time that I was here it was dark.

Another thing that they have a habit of doing is putting the main destinations on the “motorway” road signs and only the small villages on the ordinary road signs. And when you only have a small-scale atlas, it doesn’t help.

No point in asking The Lady Who Lives In The Satnav. She doesn’t recognise Swiss Motorways as being toll roads and doesn’t understand the concept of “avoid all motorways”.

Winterthur was easy to negotiate, although people there don’t understand the idea of roundabouts, and I had not one, not two but three close encounters at various times.

At St Gallen, I gave up. No idea of the village on the Swiss side of the border and “Bregenz” was only advertised by the motorway, so I bit the bullet and went that way.

I dodged off at the exit before the border, and luckily there were no police patrols checking for motorway toll stickers, and crossed into Austria at Lustenau.

Diesel was only €1:21 at Lustenau so I fuelled up Caliburn. I also fuelled up myself – Austrian bread is nothing like as good as German bread but a couple of bread rolls with my salad and that was me organised.

Through Feldkirch and onto the S16 eastwards, and I took a little diversion.

The Arlberg Pass has always been my preferred destination over the Alps but there’s another pass over the mountains between Partenen and Tschafein that I had never taken. So boldly going where the hand of man had never set foot, Caliburn and I set off.

silbertal austria june juin 2018But somewhere stuck up a blind allet is the little village of Silbertal.

Somewhere else that I had never visited before today, and it’s one of those villages that in a country that had 99 out of the 100 prettiest villages in the world, Silbertal is well in the Top 10.

Unfortunately parking was an issue here, as was time, so I didn’t have the opportunity for a good look around.

schruns tyrol austria june juin 2018At Schruns, where I was trying to find a place to stop to take a couple of photographs, I nearly squidged a pedestrian who couldn’t make up her mind whether to cross the street or not.

Having both dillied and dallied, we decided to advance at exactly the same moment.

But eventually I found a parking space and could whip out the Nikon and show you some of the beautiful South Tyrolean scenery.

fc schruns austria football june juin 2018I’d parked up on the car park of the local football club, FC Schruns, and seeing as the ground was open, I went for a wander inside to see what was happening.

Certainly an improvement on many French football grounds that I had visited, although when I saw the prices for a season ticket for the forthcoming season’s matches, I’m surprised that they weren’t playing at Wembley Stadium.

“Somewhat elevated” would have been an understatement.

tschagguns austria june juin 2018Over there, that’s not Schruns but those houses on the side of the hill are in the town of Tschagguns.

I’m not sure how the name of the town should be pronounced, and so I’ll leave you to pronounce that as you see fit.

All I can say is the name sounds very appropriate if you have to carry your heavy shopping up there. You can rule me out of that, no matter how idyllic the view might be.

ski jumping tschagguns austria june juin 2018Tschagguns has a very good claim to fame in the realm of Winter Sports, in that it’s a ski-jumping centre.

Not that you would, of course, expect me to be up there. For me, I’m all in favour of terra firma when it comes to skiing. The more firma, the less terra.

And even so, they can’t be much good up there because even Eddie the Eagle once beat an Austrian ski-jumper.

silvretta pass toll Mautstelle Partenen austria june juin 2018And now I realise why I’ve never come this way before.

Just up there shortly before the head of the Pass is a toll booth. And they expect me to pay €21:50 to pass the next 40 kilometres to Landeck.

Even having negotiated the price down to €15:00 that was still €15:00 more than I was ever intending to pay, so I turned round and retraced my steps.

Maybe it might cost me more in fuel, but it’s the principle of the thing.

arlberg pass st anton austria june juin 2018Now, this is much more like it. I’ve made my way all the way round and this is St Anton at the foot of the Arlberg Pass.

When you see the road up there, that’s been improved considerably since the late 1970s when we used to struggle up there with 47 passengers in lightweight Ford R1114 coaches in the good old days of Salopia.

Caliburn leaps up there of course, as you might expect and one of these days I’ll post a video of the climb.

lech austria june juin 2018Only one town in the whole wide world where Strawberry Moose and I would be right at home, and that’s the town of Lech.

The name is quite appropriate.

Nerina and I first came here on our honeymoon in 1988 in a beat-up old, rusting Ford Cortina estate OCC 883S (which, by the way, was younger than Caliburn is now, although you wouldn’t ever think so).

snow alps lech austria june juin 2018And we so liked the place that we vowed that one day we would come back.This is the second time that I’ve been here since then.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I came here in June 2014 in the snow, although this year, the snow is way up the mountain.

I do wonder sometimes if Nerina ever made it back. Knowing how things pan out, I’ll probably bump into her walking through the streets here tomorrow morning.

lech austria june juin 2018And in case you are thinking that I’m joking, it did once happen in Brussels like that in 1991. Truth is indeed stranger than fiction.

I went to the little guest house where I stayed before but that was closed up and deserted.

Several other places were fully booked but one hotel, although totally deserted like the Marie Celeste, had left its doors open and the internet switched on.

pension kilian lech austria june juin 2018Consequently an on-line booking agency quickly found me a room that was well within my price range only 390 metres from where I was standing, and the Lady WHo Lives In The Satnav did the rest.

So here I am. A nice comfy single room run by an Australian landlady (yes, Australian, not Austrian) but the plugs won’t fit my slow cooker so it’s a scratch tea tonight.

Apart from that, no complaints whatsoever and I’m going to be very comfy here.

I hope.

Tuesday 26th June 2018 – I DON’T KNOW …

… what happened today, but at about 16:30 this afternoon despite having been on the road for about 5 hours, I’d covered just 190 kilometres.

I’d started bright and early too, being up long before the alarm went off, thanks to whoever it was who decided to make a loud noise at 05:00.

When Jacqueline awoke, she baked some bread which was delicious and we had breakfast – home-made bread with home-made cherry jam. And chatted for a while too, but at 10:30 I hit the road. There’s a lot to do.

chateau de chasselas macon franceFirst stop was the Chateau de Chasselas, well-known to all Monty Python fans of course.

Last time that I was here I’d bought a dozen bottles of wine to give as gifts. There are still plenty left but as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I can’t get at them. So I need some more.

And it was quite a hike to get there too as they were resurfacing the driveway and we had to go the long way round.

But this was just one more unnecessary expense. This “relying on friends to return favours” is costing me an arm and a leg. Far cheaper to pay for everything professionally than to go through what I’m going through right now.

milamant café chasselas franceThat building there on the corner used to be the village café of Chasselas.

Jean-Marc’s grandmother was the owner of the place back in 1970 and this is where I stayed for part of the time that I was here back then.

Of course, it didn’t look like that then. It had much more charm back in those days.

I headed into Macon because I had noticed diesel at €1:39 a litre last night, and Caliburn could do with a drink. And from there I headed off through the centre of the town and across the Saone.

And I don’t recognise a thing about Macon these days. I’d be totally lost wandering around there today, it’s changed that much.

The road out was uneventful, but quite slow behind all of these grockles in their mobile homes. And also due to the multitude of roadworks and diversions that interrupted everything. Not to mention The Lady Who Lives In The SatNav who took me on the scenic route through Bourg-en-Bresse.

But at Lons-le-Saunier it all went horribly wrong. Too busy trying to beat a long line of lorries across a roundabout I must have missed my turning and ended up on a road that I’ve never travelled before.

It took me deep into the Jura Mountains and right over the top of a series of mountain passes, at one of which I stopped to make lunch.

lake geneva noyon switzerland june juin 2018We crossed into Switzerland at a frontier post that I never knew existed and round another mountain pass that presented me with this beautiful view of Lake Geneva and what I was expecting to be Lausanne.

And I would certainly have known if I had seen this view before because this really was so stunning. I joined another pile of grockles busily photographing the scene.

But it wasn’t Lausanne at all as I found out as I dropped down to the lake, but Noyon, home of UEFA.

And I couldn’t remember exactly where Noyon was, so I guessed, guessed wrong, and ended up going about half an hour in the wrong direction before I realised.

lake geneva lausanne switzerland june juin 2018So back into Noyon and back out the other side, in plenty of time to hit the 17:00 rush-hour queue at Lausanne, where I could leisurely take photos out of Caliburn’s window while we waited in traffic jams.

I’d been feeling quite ill for the last couple of hours and had been wishing that I could stop. But once I got beyond Lausanne I found my second wind.

Here I could put my foot down and I began to eat up the miles. And it was amazing just how quickly and how far we managed to move.

gasthof sternen koppigen switzerland june juin 2018But another major road-works and diversion meant that there was no time to reach my favourite motel opposite IKEA on the outskirts of Zurich so I pulled up at a guesthouse in a small town off the beaten track.

Switzerland is frightfully expensive so having negotiated a price of €60 cash (I didn’t have any Swiss money – that’s something else stuck back in Virlet) I wasn’t expecting much.

And it’s just as well, because I didn’t get it. This place would have been fine 50 years ago, but they might have changed the carpets and the electrical wiring.

For tea tonight I have a tin of potatoes, a tin of mixed veg, a tin of lentils, some gravy browning and a slow cooker. and furthermore I managed to make it plug in (I forgot about Swiss plugs, didn’t I?) And it was all very delicious too.

I ended the night with a shower, and now I’m having another early night.

It’s been another long day.

Saturday 14th April 2018 – I HAD A REALLY …

… nice day out today, and when I finish editing the photos (because there are more than just a few) I’ll be posting them up on here so that you can see what I mean.

We started off by having had a really good sleep for once, although there wasn’t that much of it with having not gone to bed until about 01:30. And that rather set the scene for the day, I’m afraid.

But I was still up early enough, had the usual morning ritual and followed all of that with a shower and a scrub of the undies. The heater in this room has a coat-hanger above it and so anything that I wash will dry in half a day and I need to take full advantage while I’m on the road.

There was plenty to do (like catch up with last night’s blog entry and go in search of some toilet paper) until Alison came on line and told me that she was leaving home, and at the appropriate moment I wandered down to the end of the street to meet her.

Just for a change it was the E40 that we fahrn’d fahrn’d farn’d down nd crossed into Germany there, leaving the autobahn at the next exit and heading, not north to Aachen, but southwards.

Despite having issues with the SatNav, that had different ideas that I had about where we needed to go, we eventually found our destination – Auf Aderich 33, 52156 Monschau. And hereby hangs a tail.

The Dukes of Brabant controlled several small German-speaking Provinces around Eupen and Malmédy which had been incorporated into the Austrian Netherlands. But after the territorial reorganisations following the Napoleonic Wars, their Germanic heritage meant that they were incorporated into the Kingdom of Prussia.

Following the end of World War I at the Treaty of Versailles these small territories were given to Belgium as part of the War reparations.

But there was a slight problem. Due to the mountainous relief of the country here, the only rail connection that these provinces had with the rest of Belgium was via Germany. And the solution was found – that the railway line itself, known as the Vennbahn – would be ceded to Belgium too.

This produced several anomalies, in that several parts of Germany were now isolated from Germany proper by the now-Belgian railway line and despite several subsequent territorial reorganisations, this left five “enclaves” (and, historically, one “counter-enclave”) still isolated from Germany and surrounded completely by Belgium.

The railway line is no longer in existence (it’s a cycle path) but the enclaves are. And these range from town-sized enclaves down in size to just one house and garden. And here we are at the smallest enclave of them all – Auf Aderich.

And this is what we came to see – the smallest of the German enclaves into Belgian territory.

From here we headed on down the hill into Monschau.

This is a very pretty old town situated along the banks of the River Rur as it flows through a cleft in the rocks. Being situated on a fast-flowing river near to a plateau noted for its sheep, the town was famous for its many mills and cloth-weaving.

Not unnaturally, it became quite a rich town and there are dozens, if not hundreds of magnificent buildings here, built of local stone or wattle-and-daub that leave no(one in any doubt about how rich the town was in those days.

In fact, it was so rich that it was regularly looted and pillaged by all kinds of different invading armies during the turbulent years of the second millennium.

We had a coffee and went for a good wander around. Alison, who had been here on many occasions, showed me the sights.

But none of these sights was as exciting as the second-hand shop in the town that had a “dobro” guitar – the acoustic guitar with a built-in resonance speaker that was very popular with blues musicians in the 1920s and still makes an appearance today (we’ve seen many at the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival).

I would have bought it at a heartbeat, until I noticed “made in China” stamped on the neck. So it’s not an original 1920s guitar at all but a cheap Chinese import, of no interest really to me.

We ended up back in Aachen and our favourite restaurant for a meal and a wander around – not to mention a visit to the Muller supermarket where they sell that beautiful white vegan chocolate with coconut flakes.

By the time we returned home it was too late to go to the football, which was probably just as well because I was exhausted. I sat here and vegetated for a while and then went for a walk around the block.

And then, an early night. A good sleep will do me good as I’m moving on tomorrow. Man In A Suitcase is hitting the road.

Thursday 31st August 2017 – AND IF YOU THOUGHT …

… that Tuesday night’s sleep was bad, you ain’t seen nuffink yet.

Because last night’s sleep beat just about everything. Wide awake at 01:30, tossing and turning and all of that. I really was having it all.

Nevertheless I did still manage to go off on my travels, but you won’t be interested in them, because such was the nature of my bad night that it will put you off your supper.

The torrential rainstorm that we had didn’t help matters much either. And it was so humid that the washing that I had hung up under the verandah seemed to be wetter than when I hung it out.

I wasn’t in the mood for breakfast, having had a good meal before going to bed (and don’t large packets of crisps go off with an enormous bang when you kneel on them by mistake in the dark?) and so I did some stuff on the internet;

Despite the pouring rain, I emptied out Strider and tried to sort out everything – but that was quite a maul and wasn’t the work of 5 minutes either, so I was quite exhausted afterwards.

bras d'or lake camp ground baddeck nova scotia canada aout august 2017Pausing only to take a shot of my cabin and the lake (which, due to the weather I was not able to enjoy) I went up to the office to hand in the key.

Free coffee was on offer there and seeing the expense that I had had to incur, I took full advantage. And quite rightly so.

And then I headed off into the doom and gloom.

The drive to North Sydney, beautiful though it is, is one that we have taken on many previous occasions so I didn’t stop to take any photographs.

And at the ferry terminal, my luck was in. There were still spaces free on Friday’s overnight long-distance sailing to Argentia. And so we are now booked aboard.

It might sound expensive to some (and it certainly did to me) but you need to look at it in perspective.

  • I would have to pay a ferry fee for the short (ie 9 hour) crossing anyway, and that’s not cheap
  • I would then have a drive 900 kms instead of 130 kms – and imagine how much extra fuel I would have to buy for a rather thirsty Strider.
  • I’d be looking for at least one, if not two nights in motels and you’ve seen what motel rates are right now.
  • I’d be whittling into the victuals along the way
  • I’d be quite worn out at the end of it all
  • And not least – this is a ferry crossing that i’ve been wanting to make for quite a while

All in all, it makes good financial and personal sense to travel this way.

Next thing to do was to organise accommodation for tonight.

I like the privacy of motels, but not at the price that they want to charge right now. So I phoned up the cheapest B&B in the book that I had picked up yesterday.
“Sorry, we’re full”
“That’s a shame. Do you know anyone else with a spare room?”
“No I don’t … ohh – wait a minute – if you just want a basic room with just a bed in it I can fix you up. Is $55 for cash with breakfast okay?”
Do bears have picnics in the woods?

Off I went to the shops.

As you all may remember from previous excursions, food in northern Newfoundland and Labrador is shockingly expensive, and if I’m going to be spending a week or two out there, I need to stock up.

The Atlantic Superstore, the Dollar Store and Walmart all did the business and for about $100 Strider is now full of tinned and packet goods to last a couple of weeks.

Bread will be an issue of course, but we have packets of crisps if we can’t find anything on the road.

But I made a startling discovery at the Atlantic Superstore. Their “own brand” od wine gums don’t have gelatine in them. There’s a few packets missing from their stocks right now.

I had a very late lunch on the car park by the ferry terminal, and then went for a coffee at Tim Hortons where, shame as it is to admit it, I fell asleep.

Rousing myself from a dangerous slumber I decided to head out for my digs. The address wasn’t on the SatNav but Josee’s mobile phone picked it up (that was a good move on her part to lend me that).

The street signs were confusing though and I ended up going three times round a roundabout before I fathomed it out.

The cheapest digs so far, and seem to be the nicest too. It seems that I have the room of a student who isn’t due back until tomorrow. So I’m not complaining.

I settled myself in and promptly crashed out again, only to be awoken by the aforementioned student who has returned unannounced a day early.

I would gladly have shared half my bed with her, but the landlady rather unfortunately rose to the situation by ushering her off to a spare bed put up hastily in the office, which rather disappointed me – but you can’t win a coconut every time.

So I’m going to have an early night and try to sleep the Sleep Of The Dead.

Heaven knows I need it.

Wednesday 29th March 2017 – THE LADY WHO LIVES IN THE SAT-NAV …

… has her head screwed on properly, that’s for sure. Because she’s brought me to another place that was high on my list of places to visit. And so that’s another one crossed off my list.

But first of all, I had a reasonable sleep in a nice comfortable bed even though I was tossing and turning a little for some time during the night. And then after a leisurely breakfast and some work on the laptop, I hit the road.

First stop was for fuel. I found a place selling diesel at €1:17 a litre, which is the cheapest that I have been able to find for a while, and then back on the road I picked up the signs for “Fontevraud”

What’s at Fontevraud is the Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud, and this is quite an interesting building because the Abbey was heavily patronised by the Plantagenet Royal House of England. Aliénor (Eleanor) of Aquitaine, who was the wife firstly of the King of France and later of Henry II of England was a major benefactor of the Abbey.

In fact, she, her husband Henry II, their son the famous Richard the Lionheart, and Isabella, wife of King John, were buried here. While their tombs are still here though, their bodies are not. The Abbey was pillaged during the French Revolution and the remains were despoiled.

nevertheless, it led to a fine interchange with the guy at the cashier’s desk –
Our Hero – “with the Brexit, will the British be asking for the repatriation of the remains of King Henry and King Richard?”
Cashier – “anything still here is the property of the Abbey and nothing can be moved by anyone”
As Alfred Hitchcock once famously said to Kenneth Williams – “it’s a waste of time trying to tell jokes to foreigners”.

I took thousands of photographs, and when I have more time (because I’m rather busy right now) I’ll come back to edit this page and put them on line so you can see just how beautiful it is here.

And so in the beautiful hot sun, I hit the road and headed north to the Loire. And there, having crossed the river on a beautiful girder bridge, I found a place to settle down for an hour or so to eat my butty and contemplate the state of the nation.

Having gathered my wits, I headed off still northwards towards the coast. If I’m going to be anywhere, it’s going to be by the sea and near the beach. I know a little walled town on the coast with a beautiful beach and with an important ferry service out so some of the offshore islands. I mean – you know me. Whenever I see a ferry it always makes me cross.

And so eventually, after surviving two attacks of cramp in Caliburn, we arrived in Granville, in Normandy. I’ve bagged myself a hotel for tonight and tomorrow I’m going to find a holiday flat for 10 days or so while I plan my next move.