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Saturday 25th March 2017 – I’VE JUST SEEN …

… the most extraordinary football match.

Puy-de-Dome League Division 4 and two teams – St Gervais d’Auvergne III at home to Charbonnières II. Charbonnières were streets better than St Gervais – they missed a sitter almost from the kick-off but took the lead after about 5 minutes with a soft goal through the St Gervais keeper’s legs.

All one-way traffic it was with Charbonnières making it look so easy, and only some last-ditch outstretched feet and some astonishing saves by the St Gervais keeper who, I reckoned, knew absolutely nothing about any of them, just being in the right place at the right time and diving the right way, prevented Charbonnières from running riot.

But it was all too easy for Charbonnières and after about half an hour they eased off for some reason or other, and I don’t know why. And then the inevitable happened. A harmless cross into the penalty area, the Charbonnières keeper palmed it away, the loose ball hit one of his own defenders on the back and rolled across the line into the net.

Stunned silence from the crowd.

In the second half, Charbonnières struggled to get going. St Gervais were quite awful but they were slowly growing in confidence, with the opponents becoming more and more frustrated.

And then it happened.

A cross from the wing into the centre of the field, a St Gervais player hitting it on the half volley, and there we were, a most unlikely 2-1 for St Gervais.

Even more unlikely was that St Gervais scored a third just minutes later!

As the game progressed, Charbonnières finally awoke and went back on the rampage, with some more outstretched feet and some very fortunate goalkeeping keeping them out. But they did pull one back from a free kick with just minutes to go.

In the final minute or so Charbonnières threw everything, including the kitchen sink, at the St Gervais defence, and then we had a wild clearance out of the defence. The Charbonnières defenders had the idea of stepping up three paces to catch the St Gervais attacker offside.

But ohhh woe! Woe!

They were in the St Gervais half, and an attacker can’t be offside if he’s in his own half. The attacker picked up the ball, advanced totally unopposed on the Charbonnières goal and slotted the ball underneath the isolated keeper. 4-2.

And that was that. And the crowd are still shaking their heads even now.

The second match was between the St Gervais Second team and the First XI of Charbonnières, and this was much more evenly matched. Charbonnières took the lead with a good header, and as the game wound down towards the end, they slowed down the game. But two dramatic late goals from St Gervais turned the match around and Charbonnières then tried to speed up the game. But they couldn’t come back.

We had a few little niggles but all-in-all it was a good game.

But I’ll tell you something. I complained the other day about the lack of solidarity that I have received from most of my “friends” in the Auvergne. Today, there were several people whom I knew from Pionsat’s football team and while they all said “hello”, not one of them came to sit with me for a little chat, even though it’s been 18 months or so since I was last at a match and they all know about my health issues.

I’m really disappointed about that.

So last night was another bad night for me – awake in the middle of the night and then wide awake definitively at about 05:45. Up here in the attic (with a fire burning) long before the alarm.

After a brief rest I took a pile of boxes downstairs to Caliburn and loaded him up, and also put in some stuff from the verandah. Then I nipped off to the Intermarche at Pionsat for some bread and so on.

I didn’t do much when I returned, and after lunch I crashed out for an hour or so.

But before going to the football I removed almost all of the boxes from the attic and put them in Caliburn. That was heavy work and exhausted me completely. There’s still stuff to pack up here, but that’s Tuesday morning’s job.

And now I’m back from the footy I’m going to be doing the washing-up and then going to bed.

Sunday is a day of rest, but I bet that it won’t be.

Sunday 19th March 2017 -THAT WAS SOMETHING …

… of a disturbed night’s sleep what with the livestock in the roof. And there I was, thinking along the lines of Marshall Matt Dillon from Gunsmoke, and “Sunday is the one day of the week a man can get up at noon and sit around with his boots off without anybody hollering at him about it”. First Sunday for almost 18 months that I hadn’t set an alarm, and there I was, wide awake and up and about at 07:30 in the morning. I’m hoping that this isn’t going to be a regular occurrence.

After breakfast, morning was quite steady – at first – and then round about 10:00 I sprung into action. By 12:00, everything not needed in the back of Caliburn had been taken out, and all of the food, clothing and other items that will be accompanying me on the next stage of my journey – because there is going to be a next stage on my journey – were all arranged neatly inside. It’s amazing, all of the space, once I managed to sort it out. And I counted almost 30 of those black plastic crates that I had systematically looted and pillaged from the rubbish bin at the supermarket in Leuven.

After all of that, I needed a sit-down. And having relaxed, made some butties and set off for the football. None at Pionsat of course, but there was a double-header at Le Quartier. Mind you, their ground was deserted at 13:00 so I went for a drive down to St Gervais d’Auvergne. Nothing going on there either so I had my butties by the lake.

Back at Le Quarter at 15:00 for the second match, but there was sill no-one there so I nipped up to Pionsat to see what was happening. Apart from a new Salle de Fêtes being built on the site of the old Maison Ducros- Maymat there was nothing going on there either.

And so back here, I checked on the internet and it seems that I have the dates incorrect. No matches this weekend – it’s next weekend when it’s all happening. D’ohhhh!

And so I made up my bed in the bedroom. even if it’s colder down there in the bedroom, I’ll snuggle up under the quilt and sleep in the quiet and in the comfort tonight. I deserve that at least. And while I was in there I began to pack away some clothes too. No time like the present.

Tea was a vegetable chili and rice, and now it’s bedtime. I’m hoping for a better night than last night.

Thursday 8th December 2016 – LAST NIGHT, I DIDN’T …

… have such a good night’s sleep. I dozed off quickly enough, even with the radio on, but I was soon awake again when something loud came on the radio. And once I’d sorted that out, I couldn’t go back to sleep again for ages.

However,I must have done because the alarm awoke me. And then it took ages to leave the comfort and warmth of my bed. I’d been on my travels too for some part of it, wandering around somewhere with a young lady.

For the first part of the morning I pottered around and then set off for the garage to leave Caliburn for his wheel bearing.

peugeot 306 courtsey car garage jailot st gervais d'auvergne puy de dome franceThe courtesy car was there too this time. It’s a 1994 Peugeot 306 with 308,000 kilometres on the clock and a rear flasher that didn’t work.

There wasn’t any diesel in it either so I had to put 12 litres in it to get me about, an don my way back home I went via the Intermarché at Pionsat for a little shopping and to visit the bank.

Liz phoned me up too and we had a good chat.

After lunch I carried on with the tidying up in here, slow as it is, and then went down to see how Caliburn was doing. But he wasn’t ready and that’s something of a disappointment as I would have been on the road tomorrow had he been ready. Now, I have no idea when i’m going to leave here.

Tea was mushrooms, green beans, vegetables and pasta in tomato sauce cooked in the oven. And that was nice too.

So let’s have an early night and see what tomorrow will bring us.

Wednesday 7th December 2016 – AND SO …

… as it cooled down here last night I snuggled up underneath my quilt on the sofa. and that was everything that I remember until the alarm went off at 07:00.

By 07:15 and the second alarm, I was taking full advantage of the comporting toilet. And seeing as how it hasn’t been used for over a year and there was some stuff in there from before I left, I had living proof that my comporting toilet really does work.

It took me a while to gather my wits, which takes quite a long time these days as we all know, and then I went off on the attack. There were a few clean clothes hanging around in the bedroom so I put them away. And then I sorted out some work clothes.

Downstairs, I checked over all of the tyres. Two of the winter tyres are really quite good but the other two were border-line and I have been thinking about replacing them. In the end, after much thought, I’ve left them back in the tyre pile and just fitted the two front ones. Caliburn is front-wheel drive of course and so if snow tyres are going anywhere, that’s the best place for them. I’ll buy two new ones next year.

I reckon that the two new Hankooks that I’m having on Friday – they can go on the rear and then Caliburn will really be set up. In the spring I’ll put the work Hankooks on the front and run the rest of the tread off.

Hanging up the spare wheel in its cradle was rather fun. It took me ages to work out how it went, which is quite a surprise. It’s one of those things that once you work it out, it goes up in seconds and you wonder where the difficulty was.

Caliburn has been emptied, everything has been sorted out and piles of stuff discarded. It looks quite good in there now. There’s plenty of food in there to tide me over for much of the time while I’m in Belgium. It’ll keep me out of mischief for a while.

I went down to the garage but … shock!… horror! … the hire care hadn’t come back in. I can’t leave Caliburn because I have no way of getting back home again. And so I’ll have to come back tomorrow morning. This is getting to be quite uncomfortable.

Back here I made a butty and then took downstairs all of the crockery and cutlery that I use regularly, and washed it under the water butt. I feel a little more comfortable about that now.

I had a little tidying session and sorted out a few more things to take back to Belgium, did a little work on the website and then lit the fire to warm me up and make tea. Pasta, ratatouille, vegetables and a bit of boulghour and I was well away this that. And for the first time in I don’t know how long, I watched a film.

Now I’m ready to bed and I hope that I sleep as well as I did last night.

Tuesday 6th December 2016 – SO HERE I AM …

… back home again to stay for a few days if I can last out. The first time that I will have stopped here since November last year.

And I wish that I wasn’t here either. The internet is down, the ‘phone isn’t working, the room is covered in dust, some animal has made it inside and made a mess that I shall have to clear up. It’s all so depressing.

I lit the fire and that immediately awoke a hibernating fly that has been buzzing around my head all night. I can’t find half of the stuff that I need for cooking so it was a very rudimentary meal that I had, cooked in the oven bit of the woodstove so that’s something, I suppose. But I can’t see me being here for long.

On a more positive note, all that I can say about these Ace Hotels is that they live up to their names. I’ve paid twice the price for conditions and facilities that haven’t been as good as this. I had a really good sleep and was off on my travels again during the night, although you are probably eating your breakfast this morning so I’ll spare you the details.

Breakfast was superb too. In fact, everything about it was definitely good value for money from my point of view.

When they threw me out I went to the Tax Office and found that my hospital payments are all up-to-date which is good news. I did a little shopping and then headed out to Evaux-les-Bains. I was early so I tidied up a little (yes, just a little) in Caliburn. The garage where I have to go is a body shop as you might expect, and he had an old Ford Vedette V8 awaiting attention.

These are copies of 1940s American cars sold by Ford France, and when that company was nationalised after World War II, Simca took over the plant and designs and carried on making them. Simca Vedettes are reasonably common, but a Ford is rare.

So we have a plan for the repair, and he’s going to have a look at the rust that’s appearing on the nearside sill while he’s at it. I’m entitled to borrow a car while the repair work is being done, so I may as well have everything done all at once.

From there I had a delightful meander through the countryside. The wheel bearing is by now driving me mad so I went to see the garagiste there and we had a chat. He can fit Caliburn in Wednesday afternoon and Thursday which is good for me – it means that I can hit the road Friday night. He’s going to find me a hire car for a couple of days while Caliburn is receiving attention.

I’ll nip into Montlucon tomorrow morning and take two wheels with me. If the tyres have arrived, i’ll have them fitted. If not, I’ll leave the wheels and go back for them in the hire car. That means that I’ll spend the first part of the morning fitting Caliburn’s winter tyres on the front.

That’s what I should have done in the first place.

Wednesday 29th June 2016 – MY DOCTOR …

… at the hospital this evening came up with the best comment to date about the UK’s referendum result. he reckons that they should find all of the tugboats in Europe to tow the UK out into the middle of the Atlantic and dump it there. And I can’t say that I disagree with him either. We are both of the opinion that the UK’s method of negotiation is to send in a gunboat – tactics that might have worked 150 years ago but are quite simply laughable today. The last time that the UK fought a war on its own, it took them 3 years to defeat a handful of undisciplined and untrained Dutch farmers in South Africa.

So having put the world to rights, I had my body scan. They stuck me on a table, clamped some headphones on my ears and stuck some kind of diving helmet on my head. Claustrophobia wan’t in it. I had to undergo this scan for about half an hour and I spent all of this time in that time-travel portal with my eyes tight shut.

I left here at 19:00 and arrived back at just about 22:00, having grabbed a bag of chips on the way. And I won’t be going to that fritkot again. They weren’t so good and the service was a little chaotic.

This morning I was awake again quite early, 06:30 to be precise, having had one or two trips down the corridor. And I ended up chatting to someone on the internet which meant that I didn’t go down to breakfast until 09:15.

And despite the better day yesterday, we had a rainstorm through the night and a little bit during the day.I went off to do a little shopping at lunchtime – to the Delhaize in town where I bought my baguette, some bananas and a small bag of muesli seeing as how I’ve run out. I won’t buy a big bag until I know what the breakfast in this new place is like.

There’s a bio shop in the Vismarkt in the town centre and so I went for a recce while I was out. There’s a huge selection of vegan stuff in there, including the sliced vegan cheese of the type that I used to buy in Brussels. It’s useful to know that the stuff is quite handy in the neighbourhood.

Updating the blog, I’m now up to the 26th August 2010 – well-ahead of where I want to be. But I don’t expect that I’ll be doing much over the next couple of days while I clean up here and organise my moving to the new pad.

And on this subject, Melanie lent me a needle and thread so that I could sew my bag back together. I have a cheap green bag that I use for going shopping – a bag that I received as a free gift in the pharmacie in St Gervais d’Auvergne – and the stitching had started to come apart. Now it’s a bit more secure and I hope that it will hold out.

Now I’m off to bed to see how I sleep tonight. The long walk to the hospital and back might have done me some good in that respect and I hope that it’s tired me out enough.

Thursday 19th May 2016 -I WAS OFF …

… on my travels again today.

I started off at the Doctor’s this morning at &0:00, only to find that my doctor is on holiday and it was a locum in attendance. That means that most of what I wanted to discuss was pretty pointless but I handed over a few letters from the hospital and had a form signed, as well as a quick check-up. My heart-beat is high but apart from that, things seem to be quite normal for now.

Montlucon was the next port of call. I had to pay a bill at the laboratory that does my blood tests and then another bill at the tax office for all of the documents that the hospital gave me before I went off to Leuven. There’s nothing else outstanding that I cans ee for the moment, although I have a couple of bills to pay at Leuven when I return.

Once that was out of the way I went back home for an hour, most of which was spent chatting to Nicolette whom I encountered in the lane. She seemed to be quite concerned about my health, which is nice of her.

Caliburn had his controle technique at 15:OO and the garage had forgotten that I was coming. But they squeezed us in and of course Caliburn passed with flying colours. And then we nipped off to the other side of St Gervais d’Auvergne for his service. So he’s all done and dusted now and ready for the road.

Back here, I crashed out for an hour and then made tea. Microwaved potatoes and mushroom and lentil curry was on the menu followed by some of Liz’s home-made vegan ice-cream. And now I’m off to bed. I’m feeling even worse than yesterday and to make matters worse, my “upset stomach” has returned.

I’ll see if I can pick up where I left off last night because I was off on a few travels too. The first part involved my being somewhere on the continent – it may have been in Occupied Europe or a neutral country during the war but it was a big tower-block kind of building. I was talking to a woman there who was expressing her surprise that the top floor was occupied by the British Royal Air Force Bomber Command which was using the premises to direct the bombing attacks against Germany, whereas just a couple of floors down, the German Luftwaffe had offices used to direct fighter control against the British bombers. I replied that that wasn’t the only thing that was unusual – out in the grounds was a military hospital where half the staff was British and half was German and they were dealing with wounded soldiers of both armies.
From there, I found myself in Crewe in a huge traffic queue trying to go over Edleston Road bridge. I was in a driverless car – a while Volkswagen Karmann Ghia – and so I left the car to see how it would do. And it advanced quite nicely in the traffic, except that it was going too fast for me to walk after and with my illness I wasn’t able to run after it – and this really had be worried. I remember that on the bridge was an end-terraced house with the door round the side (which actually fronted onto Edleston Road) and it was actually my house. I was reminiscing about how many of these houses used to be built on the bridges in Crewe.
We haven’t finished yet, because there was a football match taking place between one of Pionsat’s teams and a team that consisted mainly of females and which only had 10 players. Pionsat were however struggling to get on top in this game and on one occasion they broke clean though the defence and the player had a shot but a defender stuck out a foot and diverted it out onto the post and out for a corner. From the corner the ball came in and the keeper missed it but a Pionsat player headed the ball in off the post for a goal. There were three Pionsat players in an offside position but they weren’t interfering with play so there was no reason why the goal should be disallowed but one of the defenders, a young man, argued so much with the referee that in the end he was sent off the field, which tilted the game even further into Pionsat’s favour.

I’ll see if I can pick it up from there.

Saturday 14th May – NOW …

… that was much more like it. That was the most comfortable sleep that I have had for weeks. It was a shame though that my room was on the ground floor on the outside of the building at the foot of the stairs because I was kept awake for ages by some family group chatting at the foot of the stairs before they went their separate ways, and badger me if it wasn’t them again in the morning waking me up again.

But when I was gone, I was really gone.

I was away with the fairies during the night too. The first part concerned one of these reality TV shows and in this case it was a group of people who were setting up a garage – how they had to clear out some derelict and abandoned place, sort out the stuff inside, secure some stock-in-trade and set themselves up to do some work. They had three or four front-ends of minis, complete with subframes and engines, up on a ramp leading to the upper floor. All of this seemed to be so familiar and I wondered if I’ve been here before on another one of my nocturnal rambles just recently.
A little later, I was interviewing some woman. She was a single mother who worked as a school bus driver out in the Macclesfield area and had been transferred to a different route which went higher up on the moors on the Derbyshire border and in the snow. I was interested to see how she was doing with the difference in driving conditions, but she said that she hadn’t noticed the difference.

Breakfast cost me €5:00 and I had my money’s worth too. And then afterwards, I had an hour on the blog doing some more updating – I need to keep on at it.

The journey down to here was uneventful, apart from the weather. Yesterday I was having 28.6°C in Leuven and its surroundings. This morning it was a mere 12.6°C at Melun and the weather gradually deteriorated. We had fog, hanging clouds, rain, all kinds of stuff and the temperature dropped as low as 9°C. Definitely not the summer weather we should be having.

I called in at the Carrefour at Moulins to do a pile of shopping – some tins to take back to Belgium next weekend and also some food to eat while I’m down here. I can’t nibble away at Liz and Terry’s supplies.

My house is totally overgrown with weeds and the like and it was a struggle to get in there. I really must do something about that sometime (although I’m not sure when). I had a scrounge around and rescued all of the washing which I’ll do tomorrow and give it time to dry out before I go back. I’m going back to chez moi a couple of times during the week to tidy out Caliburn and get him organised for the next round of visits.

While I was there, I sorted out the post. No bank card yet, but there was a nasty bill that my insurance should have paid but it seems that they haven’t. On Monday, I’ll have to get on the case.

In St Gervais d’Auvergne I bought the last loaf of bread in France and then came back here narrowly avoiding squashing a team of motorcycle scramblers out for a run around, and then crashed out for a couple of hours (no surprise here).

For tea, I’ve had baked potatoes, baked beans and veggie-burgers and it was gorgeous. Now I’m going to crash out again and I hope that I’ll stay in bed until Monday. I need a good, solid uninterrupted sleep.

Wednesday 16th March 2016 – HOW WE LAUGHED …

… when the nurse said something last night about it going to snow today. And so would you have done, given the glorious day we had yesterday.

But coming back from Montlucon, and passing through Villebret where you start to climb up into the Combrailles, I saw a few suspicious-looking white flakes being blown about in the sky. By the time I climbed up over the Font Nanaud and down the other side towards St Gervais, the sky was clear again but about half an hour after arriving back here, we got the lot. There’s now about 10mm of snow outside and it’s still falling.

Yes, and I have to go back (GRRRRR!) to Montlucon and the hospital tomorrow too. I arrived there nice and early but had to wait for almost three quarters of an hour before I was seen properly by the nurse. She examined where I’d been injected and where I’d been patched, and told me that there is some reaction so I need to return for further tests.

You don’t need me to tell you what I think of that.

But anyway, off up to the day hospital and the blood transfusion. My favourite nurse and my second-favourite student were there and once more there was a decent and convivial crowd in the room. We all had quite a laugh and a good time, which made us all feel better and helped the time pass by.

Lunch was the usual disgusting muck but at least it was something, I suppose. And although I was finished by 14:30 I told them that I wasn’t leaving until I had had my mid-afternoon coffee.

On the way back from Montlucon I got myself lost in the back streets trying to find the short cut to LIDL. I needed some of my vitamin B12 juice and some sparkling water, and I also bought a couple of big packets of crisps and some packets of sweets to nibble on while I’m driving to Leuven. And they sell 1-litre bottles of orange juice in there and they are just the thing to drink in the van while I’m driving but as usual, Bane of Britain forgot to buy any.

I was going to go back home for a couple of hours afterwards too but it was rather cold and that made me think for a moment, and then with the white stuff, I decided that being back in the warmth and off the road was a much better plan.

And here I am and there I’ll be in a moment – in bed. I’m not going for a walk tonight as I’ve walked far enough today (as well as going all around the hospital I had to go off to find the Records Department to pick up a copy of my file to take to Leuven).

And while I’m on the subject of files and records, I did ask the doctor there to prepare his file and records ready for me to pick up. And so I went to see his secretary and it will come as no surprise to you all to learn that he hasn’t done so. I told her “Friday at the latest” (well, actually vendredi au plus tard, but you get the idea).

So I hope that I have a more interesting and exciting sleep than I did last night. I was out like a light in a very deep sleep and the only recollection of what happened was what was on the dictaphone. And we were dealing with football issues yet again.

We were talking about the Controle Technique in football (well, exactly!) and one of the issues in this is that the player concerned has to take a penalty kick. Now it doesn’t matter whether the player scores or misses, or whether it’s saved by the keeper – it’s all down to whether the player is capable of kicking the ball in that situation. One player having his Controle Technique came out onto the field. He was wearing a red football shirt with his name on the back – a really long name that ended with Platini. He was preparing to take the kick but we noticed that underneath his shirt he was wearing a Father Christmas outfit complete with hood trimmed in white and with a white bobble – and his hood is up on his head. He runs in to take the penalty as soon as the whistle is blown, but almost immediately the whistle is blown again to stop the kick being taken, in order to order him to put his hood down so that the controller could see his head and face. And so he does, and then he runs in and takes the kick again. However the keeper is really quick off his line and manages to block the ball with his knees. The ball thus ricochets off his knees up into the air. Now the goal that they are using for this is actually an over-bridge, so it’s clearly the correct dimensions for a goal underneath it. The ball balloons up and over the bridge past the people who are crossing the bridge and then back down the other side and goes quite a way away. The man who has taken the penalty now needs another ball to do something different and so he climbs up the side of the cutting which this bridge crosses, and plucks another ball that was in a bush that was growing on the top of the cutting, so they can continue this Controle Technique.

After all of that, I was down here early yet again, breakfasted and off on the road at 07:30 with the coffee in my Tim Hortons thermal mug. The drive was pretty uneventful with no-one in my way and even though I stopped at the bank to add to the fighting fund, I was at the hospital for 08:20.

I spent most of the day dealing with my Canada 2014 voyage for the month of September. I’ve now arrived back on Nova Scotia (travelling backwards of course) but then I had to start from the other end at Montreal and reach as far as the Sorel – St Ignace ferry across the St Lawrence because there’s a gap in my notes. I know that they are there because I remember transcribing them and I’m sure that I’ve seen them, but they are probably out of order so I’ll need to find them – and the easiest way to find them is to start at the other and and file the stuff from there, and eventually I’ll come across them.

That’s a nice job for me tomorrow then, seeing as how I have to spend all blasted day in that perishing mausoleum.

Friday 11th March 2016 – JUST IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING …

… what happened last night with me not posting my blog, the answer was that by the time 20:15 came around, I was already tucked up in bed and out like a light. Crashing out was certainly the word – I had gone completely.

But then again, I’d had a hectic day – and one that had started not long after I had gone to sleep. And furthermore, it all started with yet another appearance by a girl who has been described on these pages as “the one that got away”. But for the second time in succession, she didn’t get away from my evil clutches last night.

Ohh no she didn’t!

I’d been out yet again in Nantwich, having been for a really good wander all around the Crewe Road End – Millstone Lane area of the town, having a good look at all of the houses and so on. And all of the area behind the houses on Millstone Lane, between there and The Crofts, had been cleared away, flattened and rolled out ready for a new housing estate to be built there. Even Flash Meakin’s hovel had gone. I wandered over there to make a brief inspection but the builders tried to chase me away. However, it was common land and so I had every right to be there, and I made sure that they knew it. And there I stayed. Having made my inspection, I wandered off to continue my travels and this is where I bumped into the aforementioned young lady. She was living on The Crescent apparently and so she invited me in for a coffee. We had a really good chat about old times and then she invited me to stay for dinner. So I prepared all of the vegetables and she cooked the food – a risotto it was. I was given a choice about what I wanted for dessert – beans on toast was mentioned (this is why I enjoy so much going on these nocturnal rambles – they are totally surreal) but of course I had some completely different ideas about what I wanted to have for afters. But I settled on a banana, which I suppose is rather symbolic. But then her young daughter came in and was telling us about how she had been threatened by some young boy who had somehow found his way into the house. She had been in the attic and had gone out onto the roof to see what was making a noise, and he had sneaked in behind her. When she came downstairs he surprised her. She was shocked and so the police were called and he was carted off, even though he insisted that he’d only done it for a dare. He ended up with 30 days inside and was ostracised by all of his friends. In the meantime, the two of us were carrying on chatting and the conversation came round to what was happening in the evening. I invited her to the cinema and her daughter thought that this was a really good idea. But her elder boy looked rather worried as if he was afraid of having his mum taken away from him. But there was no doubt that she was really keen to go to the cinema with me and I was of course just as keen to take her.

Yes, it’s a shame that things like this don’t happen to me in real life.

The alarm went off before I’d reached the exciting bit and it left me wondering about what would have happened had I been able to sleep in until the usual time of 07:45 instead of this wretchedly-early time of 07:00. I was feeling as if I’d been cheated out of 45 minutes of wishful thinking, but there we are, I suppose.

I was on the road by 07:40 and at the hospital at 08:35, managing to pinch the next-to-last parking space on the car park. The allergy clinic is weird, with just a half-dozen or so of comfortable seats, and with le being the first arrival, I had the pick of the chairs – right by the door by the power point. I had some kind of pattern drawn in biro on my arm, with initials and numbers, and then injected and some kind of fluid rubbed in. One or two of them flared up quite dramatically and the nurse measured them with some kind of hole gauge.

The nurse then found a sheet of something that resembled an aluminium-backed piece of bubble-wrap, peeled off the sticky front of it, stuck it to my back and then burst the bubbles so that, presumably, the product in each bubble would interact with my skin. I have to leave this on until Monday.

But if I think that I’m hard done-to, what happened to me was nothing to what happened to the young girl next to me. They drew some kind of chess-board on her arm and she had a huge number of injections, a couple of which flared up like nothing that I have ever seen before. One of them was starting to look like something out of Quatermass’s Experiment.

I felt so sorry for her that I let her have my cake that came with our mid-morning coffee. And then I invited her for a game of draughts on her arm.

One thing though that surprised me was that each one of us, on entering the room, had a drain put in our arms. Not that that was surprising, the surprising bit was that they didn’t use it for anything. Rather a waste of effort to me. But at least the nurse who did it had “the touch”. I hardly felt a thing.

But my results were such that I have to come back for a full morning on Monday, and an hour or so on Tuesday. And as for my Monday-morning blood test, the nurse will do it then and there as long as I remember to take my prescription with me.

We were thrown out at 12:00 and I went down to the Amaranthe. I bought some more vegan cheese and some mixed seeds, as well as a couple of hundred grams of muesli biscuits. I think that I deserved a little treat. But the Amaranthe is now selling Mozzarella-like vegan cheese (and this is progress, considering that even 18 months ago they didn’t stock any at all), although I didn’t buy any to try as it looked to be tainted. I’ll pick some up next time maybe.

Lunch was a plate of chips and vegetables at the Flunch, and then I went around the Carrefour and the Auchan for some shopping. There were no loose porridge oats, but the Auchan “own-brand” packaged oats were a reasonable price so I bought a few packets of those. I can’t be without my muesli now, can I?

I went home afterwards for a relax and to look for some more stuff that I forgot the other day. I still can’t find my Paint-Shop Pro disk but I did manage to find my dash-cam. I’ve also copied all of the dictaphone notes onto a rewritable DVD and onto a back-up drive, one thing that I’ve been meaning to do ever since I finished transcribing them.

I went to the pharmacie in St Gervais on the ay back here. I needed to pick up the medication that I ordered. The good news about this is that a month’s supply of the new injections only cost half of the price of the current lot, and then of course it’s only going to be once a day too. So that’s something like progress anyway. I shan’t be struggling quite as much for finances.

But the bad news about it is that the other injection that I need to take with me to the hospital next Friday – it’s more like an injection for a cow or a horse, judging by the size of the box. I don’t like the idea of that.

I also forgot to ask for some more boxes for my empty needles, and then I also realised that I hadn’t been to pick up my paperwork from the Archives at the hospital either. It clearly wasn’t my day. And on leaving the town, someone in a small silver saloon of which the registration number began CZ flashed his lights and waved at me. I wish that I know who it was.

Chips were on the menu back here, so that’s twice today. Not that I am complaining of course, because we have real malt vinegar here. And then I crawled off to bed – I didn’t even go out for my walk, but then that’s no big deal because I’d walked enough (at least, for my present state of health) today.

And with this patch-thing on my back, I’m glad that I had a shower yesterday.

And so are we” said terry.

Wednesday 9th March 2016 – I’VE BEEN OUT TODAY …

… and I didn’t feel much like it because it was taters outside and sleeting down too. But out I had to go.

Most important was to post my claim for medical expenses. As I said the other day, what my expenses to date (as far as has come in – there’s still plenty to go that hasn’t come in) come to is the equivalent of 3 months’ income. As soon as I can receive the reimbursement, the better I’ll be. It was well-worth the … gulp … $14:70 to post it off.

I had to go to the boulangerie too.When I left, the mobile boulangère hadn’t been by and we had run out of bread. You can’t leave bread to chance if you are going out anyway. And so I went to the wrong boulangerie, bought the wrong bread and when I returned home I found that the boulangère had been here anyway. But still, that’s what freezers are for.

Another place that I needed to visit was the pharmacie. The prescription that I was given for my new medication expires on March 16th so I need to order that now. And then I need another injection to take with me to the hospital when I go for the scanner on the 18th. It goes without saying that a remote pharmacie like the one at St Gervais wouldn’t have the stuff in stock and so I’d have to order it.

And so after visiting the Post Office I clambered back into Caliburn and drove round to where the pharmacie is – only to find that it had moved. Upon enquiring of a local yokel, I discovered that it had moved to just behind the Post Office, right by where I’d parked Caliburn.

But now everything ordered and I’ll pick it up on Friday afternoon on my way back from the hospital.

During the night, I don’t remember too much about my little wanderings. I remember having to take a group of kids somewhere – kids aged round about 4 and 5 – and so the first thing to do was to check them all to make sure that they were clean and properly dressed. And having done that, we could set off.Once we’d arrived at our destination, the kids went off to do what they had to do and I went into the hotel bar for a coffee. And who should be in there but a friend of mine. We ended up having a really good chat, and when I went to the bar, he asked me to fetch him a MacKay’s and something (I can’t remember what it was now). But anyway, a MacKay’s was a blend of whisky and the something was like a tonic water or ginger ale in a small bottle like that and the bill for this came to an astonishing £11 and more. I was totally surprised by this and so when I took his drink to him I asked him if that was correct – not that I minded paying for it but that I thought that it was really excessive. He assured me that the bill was probably about right, and I reckoned that I was glad that I don’t drink alcohol. From here, I had to go back and pick up my charges and make sure that that they were all present and correct and had everything that they had supposed to have.

What I’ve done today, now that my web server is back and running, is to finish the collating of the notes of my voyage to Canada for the month of October 2015, and I’ve made a decent attack on the notes for September 2015. We will then have the notes for August 2015, and then all of the notes for 2014. The notes and photos of much of the route that I did in those two years, together with some of my 2013 journey and some of my 2010 journey, can then be superimposed and make more of a travelogue than a blog. That’s what my aim is anyway.

So now that it’s stopped snowing again and the rainstorm has died down, I’m off for a walk and then an early night. But my walk around St Gervais (in the sleet) today has shown, at least to me, that my movements are freeing up.

I just wish that I could do something about this lump in my lungs. But, as my surgeon said the other day “we’ll see what this scan says and then we’ll see what we can do!”


Thursday 3rd March 2016 – WHAT A NIGHTMARE!

The first person to put in an appearance during my nocturnal ramble last night was, would you believe, my mother. I was so surprised, if not shocked, to see her that I sat bolt upright in bed. What on earth was she doing there? I can’t remember what role she was playing last night because the whole memory of whatever I was doing at the time was immediately wiped away.
And if that’s not enough to be going on with, the next person to put in an appearance, once I’d calmed down and gone back to sleep, was my father. I was living back in my house in Gainsborough Road, but in the front room that had been converted into a bedroom. And when my father turned up (he was apparently living somewhere else in the house) at about 6:30am, he brought none other than Percy Penguin with him. She was wearing a pair or pyjamas in a kind of flanellette material, pink with a white waistband, collar and cuffs. She hopped into bed with me for a while and then I left the bed to start to tidy up the room (as if that’s ever likely to happen anywhere where I’m living), totally ignoring her. And then I’d be back in bed again, and then back tidying up and ignoring her and so on it went.
But then I had a sudden flash of realisation about something. Out here in St Gervais there’s a proposal for one of these social cafés for the Alternative Community – not just a café but a “meeting place and social centre with board games, debates and discussions as well as food, including a vegan and vegetarian option” to quote just some of their advertising. While it’s an idea that receives my fullest support, it’s all very utopic and I’ll give it 6 months at the most. But anyway, last night, while I was in my bedroom with Percy Penguin in my house, I suddenly realised that it was the Opening Night of this café and so abandoning Percy Penguin yet again, off I went to St Gervais – a mere 850 miles or so from Crewe but since when has that ever bothered me during a nocturnal ramble? I’ve travelled much greater distances than that. When I arrived, I found that one of the people who was in charge was one of the footballers of FC Pionsat St Hilaire. He was talking about using he venue for boxing matches and training and the like, and so I asked him if he was aware that a boxing venue needed to have a doctor present at all times if there was action of any kind in the ring and who was going to pay for this. he was clearly unaware of this – he just shrugged his shoulders and wandered off into the crowd. I had a wander around, admiring the nice, shiny and polished wooden floor, and ended up at the buffet in an annex at the back. Most of the products were chocolate-based and so I asked the two girls who were serving which ones were the vegan option, but they just looked at me helplessly.
The moral of this story – particularly the latter part of it – is that leaving aside my natural cynicism (and I am the first to admit it) many of these so-called social projects are all very well and good but in 99% of these cases they lack the professionalism, the foresight, the staying power and the finance to be successful, being far too detached from reality to see what is going on. Once the initial enthusiasm wears off, they run out of ideas and can’t keep the momentum going.
Mind you, I would love to be proved wrong.

As for the moral of the first part, I cannot think for the life of me what my parents were doing during the night appearing on my travels like that. One of them is bad enough but both of them – that’s enough to put me off going to sleep for the rest of my life. I still shudder when I think about it even now, and I fled from home almost 45 years ago.

So while I was slowly coming round this morning after the alarm went off, I heard a car pull up outside. Yes, it was the nurse, so I half-ran, half-fell downstairs at something of a rather indecent turn of speed for me these days. But the news – whether this is good or bad, I dunno, is that my stitches aren’t there. I asked him to look and so he did. Either they have fallen out on their own, they have dissolved, the skin has grown over them, or there weren’t any in there to start with. Only time will tell and I’ll have to wait until Monday when I see the surgeon.

Today, I’ve had a day off and done nothing at all. I reckon that I deserve some time for myself. I have plenty to do but a day here and there won’t hurt (I wish that I didn’t). I have however made myself a pizza and in a few minutes I’ll be off for another slow walk to see how I do. I’ll try to push a little farther on.

But here’s a thing – and I forgot to mention it yesterday which is a surprise because it made such an impression upon me.

When I was in the hospital yesterday, I was in the room next to the office – and in the chair underneath the hatch which was open so that I could quite clearly hear everything that was going on in there. And one thing that did happen was that the chief nurse was ringing up people about their blood results.

One call she made to a woman was clearly answered by the woman’s partner and went something along the lines of “we have her blood test results and they show that she has a blood count of 6.8. She must be very tired so she will need to lie down right away and we’ll send an ambulance for her”

Sure enough, when she did arrive here, not only was it an emergency ambulance that brought her in but she was on a stretcher.

When my blood count dropped to 6.8, I didn’t have this treatment. Not a bit of it. I was made to come under my own locomotion over 50kms, park Caliburn up somewhere in the car park and then walk all the way across to the hospital and up into the ward.

I dunno whether it’s whether your face fits, or whether she has some other illness of which I am unaware, but there’s certainly some kind of two-speed hospitalisation procedure going on here. maybe I’m just unlucky, or maybe I’m made of more sterner stuff.

Thursday 25th February 2016 – IN WHICH OUR HERO FINALLY GETS THE GIRL

And we aren’t talking about the Girl from Worleston either, but someone else completely.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall a girl who has featured a few times in my nocturnal rambles. She and I had something of a close encounter (but nothing like as close as I would have liked it to have been) over a period of a couple of years a good while back and ever since then she’s been described as “The One That Got Away”.

But she didn’t get away last night.

I was back in Nantwich, at the top end of Welsh Row right by King’s Lane, which was the back entry into our school. Up Welsh Row, hand in hand with a boy of her acquaintance, came the young lady concerned. They were both wearing the school uniform of my old school (which is surprising because the girl didn’t go there, and I don’t have a clue who the boy was). When they reached where I was standing, we started to have quite a chat, a laugh and a joke. I was teasing them both, particularly this girl, because something had happened in her past that related to a pile of younger children. I was therefore talking about her “15 children”, implying that she was their mother (which would of course have been absolutely impossible) and quite naturally, the subject of her “16th child” drifted into the conversation (well, it’s quite natural in any kind of conversation in which I’m involved). At first, she was not willing to participate in all of this teasing but as the conversation wore on she became more relaxed and joined in the fun. From here, we all ended up heading back into town. As we set off, the boy and girl were still hand-in-hand but by the time that we had crossed the River Weaver Bridge and up towards the Swine Market, the situation between the girl and Yours Truly had become such that the boy had disappeared and it was me walking hand-in-hand with her. We turned into Beam Street towards the bus station and the further down that we walked, the more evident it had become that we were now a “couple”. Turning into Market Street, we passed in front of the Civic Hall and who should come out of there but Mrs Hayes, the school secretary (although of course, it wasn’t her at all) and she gave us a really long, cold, withering stare. And so we continued onwards, down and round the corner into Churchyardside, passing all kinds of other people who knew us and who were noticing what was going on between us. There were crowds and crowds of people milling around outside the church – apparently there was some kind of service going on there and such was the size of the attendance that people had to assemble in the shops opposite the square and were being sent over to the church on batches of 100. By time we realised what was going on, we thought “well, sod it! Enough people have already seen us together so that the word of our new relationship will have already spread like wildfire around the school no matter what we were to do from here on” and so we walked off hand-in-hand into the sunse … errr … shop across the square. All very nice and homely, it was.

But last night, I managed to watch the first of the “Inspector Hornleigh” films. And I must be mistaken when I say that it’s never been broadcast on British television because, sure enough, every 17 minutes or so we have the “revolving checkerboard” in the top right-hand corner that was put in by ITV to indicate that the commercial break would be along in 15 seconds and sure enough, you can tell from watching the film closely that the commercial breaks have been edited out. The quality too is very suggestive of VHS video, so it looks as if it’s been downloaded fom ITV onto a good-quality video recorder and then edited.

The film itself, the first-ever collaboration between Harker and Sim, doesn’t have the rapport that developed between them in the later films and Harker himself hasn’t developed the quick repartee and master of disguise that became his trademark in the later films. But there were certainly some priceless moments in the film –
Chancellor of the Exchequer – “members of the public shouldn’t go around robbing the Chancellor of the Exchequer with impunity like this!”
Harker – “quite right. It’s usually the other way around!”.

What with one thing and another, I had a really good night last night and you have absolutely no idea just how hard it was to pull myself out of my stinking pit this morning. I was well-away in the land of the fairies.

And after breakfast I was once more distracted because the site of the 3D program that I use was having a sale of items at $0:80 a throw so I spent the morning having a really good trawl through it. After all, I haven’t bought myself a birthday present yet.

This afternoon, in a totally new departure from my current existence, I went out and about. To St Gervais in fact. Liz’s new spectacles had arrived but a couple of things about them needed to be sorted out so I had to go with Terry as interpreter. And it was snowing there too. I know that it’s forecast for tonight here, and al of the way through to next Thursday too, but St Gervais, which is 100 metres higher up, is starting early.

This afternoon, I pushed on with the dictaphone notes for Canada 2014. I’ve made a considerable amount of progress too – so much so that I’m almost back to the point where I entered the USA from Canada in early September. If I can keep this up at this rate, I’ll be finished within a week and won’t I be happy?

I’ve made myself a pizza tonight and there’s enough left for lunch tomorrow. These big pizza sheets that Liz prefers to the round ones that I like do have their advantages.

Anyway, I’ve done enough for today. I’m going to have yet another early night and watch the second Inspector Hornleigh film.

And then, I wonder where I’ll end up tonight. And more interestingly, who will be coming with me?

Saturday 20th February 2016 – IT REALLY DOES COME TO SOMETHING…

… when I can’t think of anything to write.

I suppose that it’s all to do with what’s going on here right now. I’m not moving, not going anywhere, not doing anything, and the only excitement that I’m having seems to be going on at night.

Last night was no exception either. And the first part of it all was so interesting is that I didn’t even feature in it – either as a participant or a spectator. It took place back in the USSR – not in the John Lennon/Beatles era, but in World War II. There was a huge cinema there, a typical Soviet-era edifice, and a series of patriotic films was being shown. There was a young girl in charge of distributing water bottles in packs of six. These were given to different girls who acted as distributors during the show. One pack was given to a girl who was there with her friend, an officer in the Red Army, and her younger sister. This girl put the six-pack of water into a dustbin full of water to keep it cool so that she and her friends could sit quietly and watch the film. At the end of the film they prepare to leave but some official comes round to collect the unused water bottles. The girl in charge points out to him the other girl, who is on the point of leaving the cinema, so he shouts over to her. The girl whispers to her two companions to keep on walking and not to acknowledge her otherwise they would be sucked into this discussion. She walks back and the official asks her about these six bottles. She explains that they are a few rows back, stuck in a dustbin full of water, but the dustbin has by now disappeared. He starts to accuse this girl of anti-Soviet behaviour for having stolen these water bottles or else having been careless about their disposal. Suddenly, she makes a flash of recognition and dashes forward to where the first girl is sitting which is a kind of swamp (in a cinema?) and there’s a makeshift quay discreetly hidden amongst the seat bases. It unfolds to this officer that the girl in charge had been craftily going around and collecting all of the unused water, and someone had come along with a boat and taken it all away. Then she had dismantled and hidden the quay. He then turns his attention to the girl in charge rather than the other girl. But then a most extraordinary thing happened about that affair, in that the Soviets started to hush up the affair. It transpired that one of the people involved in this deception about the bottles of water was none other than the Queen Mother of the UK. This would not only cause the Queen Mother some alarm but the British Government some alarm too and if there was any estrangement between the two countries, the British would stop supplying war goods to the Soviet Union. The USSR needs to keep quiet about that.
After that, I ended up personally in a theatre attending what I reckon was a rehearsal for a play involving quite a few children. The producer was someone called Basil Blackwood – someone who really did exist by the way. As well as being a prominent barrister and civil servant, ha was an illustrator of children’s books and was killed at Ypres in World War I. But I digress. Blackwood had all of these children, some wearing the most extravagant costumes, all milling around and dancing. he was calling out all kinds of manoeuvres at a machine-gun pace, confusing them all but at the same time instilling some kind of discipline into them. And suddenly, he called a halt, and someone came in with a plate of sandwiches – little squares with the crusts cut off. Each child was allowed two squares but I was allowed three because, as he said, I had brought in the cheese and meat.

I managed to encourage the woodstove into action this morning, and that was exciting too. There were a few embers still in it so I gave them a really good prod and then opened the air vent. After about half an hour of simmering away, and a few delicate adjustments of the controls, it flared up so I quickly dumped a couple of logs into it and they caught quite nicely, and so we were off.

Liz and Terry left me alone for an hour and a half too while they went into St Gervais for the shopping, and left me to get on with a few things. one of the things that I’ve been doing is to continue where I left off before Christmas and catch up transcribing the notes from the dictaphone. It’s now grown to 146 files and I need to free up some space on there or else I’ll be running out. It’s not simply a case of transcribing them either but saving them to a hard drive and also copying them onto a CD as a back-up. I’ll be here for ever if I don’t put my foot down.

Some more home-made ice cream for tea tonight too and it’s tasting better and better. And now I’m off for yet another early night. I can’t last the pace these days with this hectic life that I’m living.

Friday 12th February 2016 – I’VE BEEN ON MY OWN …

… for much of the day today. Liz and Terry had things to do in St Gervais and Montlucon so they were gone long before 09:00, and I was left to my own devices.

Much of the time was spent trying to encourage the boiler. It’s a solid-fuel boiler burning wood and it’s one of those machines that if you know what you are doing and the thing is set up right, it burns away quite happily to itself. All you have to do is to load it up every hour or so. But if you don’t know what you are doing and the boiler is still a little on the cool side, it needs continual coaxing. And that was what was happening today – I had to be there for a considerable amount of time trying to make it warm up correctly.

Still, it’s all good experience.

Apart from that, I was doing something quite interesting. I’d been reading about one of the earliest “garden village” council estates in London, built at the turn of the 20th Century in Tooting. But doing some more research I came across the court case of the person why built it. He was borrowing money to finance the business (which was normal in those days) but the London County Council, not only “valued” the work four weeks in arrears, but then took another four weeks to pay up (which even the Prosecuting Counsel in the court case admitted was a “difficult way for anyone to do business”). It goes without saying that the builder fell into difficulties and the bank promptly pulled its financial backing, even though a distribution of his assets produced a surplus. He ended up adopting some rather questionable financial tactics to keep his business afloat and ended up with seven months imprisonment which, if you ask me, was quite outrageous. If they had left him alone, and had the Council paid up on time, he would have completed his contracts and made a decent profit for everyone concerned. But it does just go to show that aggressive banking and unsympathetic Official Receivers is far from being a modern phenomenon.

When Liz and Terry came back, they brought half the contents of the local chemist’s with them. It appears that the prescriptions that I had been given by the hospital are … errr … somewhat exaggerated. I’m going to end up with more stuff here than they will have in their stores.

We had a nice tea tonight – I had vegan lasagne with peas and chips – and then watched Chris Morris demolish the English bowling to win single-handedly the one – day cricket international. And now I’m off to bed for an early night.

And I need it too because I was off on my travels again. The first part was back in a hospital somewhere which had been invaded by an Arab fighting force. I’m not going to go into details because you are probably eating your tea or your breakfast or something and I’m trying to keep this site fit for human consumption and fun for all the family. But I was being chased around by a soldier and a nurse wielding a huge hypodermic syringe and I remember thinking to myself “just how am I going to get out of this?” – which I did by the simple expedient of waking up. And I remember saying that I wish that I had thought of that earlier.
From there I ended up back in Crewe, driving around the block formed by Middlewich Street, Badger Avenue, Broad Street and Coppenhull Lane. I needed to park up somewhere near the top of Middlewich Street to go into a shop to pick up something but there was nowhere to park. And so I cruised round and around the block hoping that something would free itself up. But nothing did. And then I noticed that at one certain moment, there was no-one behind me for miles so I would have had plenty of time to double-park to go into the shop, had I thought on. But a car pulled up and that was where my socks were, in the storage box between the front seats over the top of the handbrake. I nipped out of my car, pulled open the passenger door and dived in to retrieve my socks, and fell right over the passenger in the front seat – none other than the girl who has been on my travels with me on a few occasions now.