Tag Archives: strider

Friday 22nd March 2024 – I’M NOT HAVING …

… much luck with my footfest this weekend. Cymru’s Under-21 match against Lithuania isn’t being streamed on a foreign carrier either tonight.

It’s just my luck, after last night’s stunning victory of the senior team against Finland following on from Cymru’s “C” team against England on Wednesday night. I was really looking forward to some football tonight. Watching Stranraer slump to a controversial 2-1 defeat to Elgin City on the swamp that is Stair Park was hardly any compensation

It’s been a really long time since I was at Stair Park – almost 50 years in fact. I was coming off the ferry from one of my trips to Northern Ireland when I saw crowds (well, perhaps not “crowds”) of people heading all in one direction, all wearing blue and white scarves. So I had to follow them to see what was going on, as if I didn’t know.

It’s so long ago now that I can’t remember who they were playing. Probably someone like Arbroath or Montrose or something. And as I don’t have my photos here from that period, I can’t even tell you the colours. But one thing that I can tell you is that the ground hasn’t changed one iota in that time. It still looks the same as it did back then.

Mind you, that’s a relief. The Taylor Report swept away many traditional football grounds and with football attendances in Scotland being what they are, we were left with far too many of these modern, soulless one-sided wonders with “room to build the other three sides when attendances improve”.

Yes, quite.

The problem in Scottish football can be summed up in two words, “Celtic” and “Rangers”.

Regular readers of this rubbish in one of its previous versions will recall that I stood outside Albion Rovers’ ground in Coatbridge where the average attendance was about 300 watching busload after busload of people wearing green and white or blue and white scarves all heading into Glasgow.

And then I was at Broadwood in Cumbernauld once watching a game between Glasgow Rangers reserves v Celtic reserves, both teams full of players that would have been a boon and an asset to any other club in Scotland. Rangers and Celtic had signed them not because they needed them but because they didn’t want any other club to have them and become a competitive threat.

And absolutely nothing whatever has changed, except that Albion Rovers have been relegated from the Scottish pyramid into the Lowland League. But as former Spurs manager Terry Venables once famously said, "if history repeats itself, I should think we can expect the same thing again"

However, I digress … "again" – ed

Last night was another one of those nights where I couldn’t tear myself out of my chair and into bed. It was something like 01:30 when I finally moved a muscle and set about doing my nightly chores. I’ve absolutely no idea what’s happening to me right now about this.

Anyway it was another really deep sleep like last night where I can’t remember a single thing until the alarm went off

When it awoke me I really was dead to the world and I had quite a battle to raise myself from the dead. They talk about “the quick and the dead” in Biblical terms but there was nothing whatever quick about it.

First thing was to check the blood pressure. 15.9/100, pretty similar to last night’s 16.0/10.1, taken when I was feeling rather stressed out trying to exert myself to go to bed. So what was winding me up during the night?

Anyway I wandered off into the kitchen to sort out the medication. I’m beginning to run low on certain things again – just supplies of a few of the tablets for a couple of weeks. I need to keep an eye on everything to make sure that I don’t run out.

Next task was to make the bread. And I put a lot of thought and effort into this lot and tried my best to knead it correctly, which is not easy.

After that I went for a good wash, scrub up and shave and all of that kind of thing, as well as washing to shorts that I’ve started to wear in bed. But I didn’t get as far as I would have liked because for once in his life the nurse was here early.

When he came in, he saw the bread buns slowly rising, said “oh look, bread!” and poked one, which promptly sank

He eventually managed to find a vein and extract some blood. And I’ve had the results already. The red blood count is slowly rising, which is no surprise given the amount of stuff they are injecting into me every Wednesday, but so is the carcinogenic protein. It should be between 59 and 104 and it’s increased from 267 to 275.

So if the red blood cells are increasing, what is the protein attacking? The answer is that it’s now attacking the platelets. They should be between 140 and 380 and they have decreased from 108 to 92. That would seem to indicate that the cancer is now moving into my bone marrow.

So what’s the next move going to be? Someone will tell me something in due course, I imagine.

Having switched off the heating in the apartment, I checked the bread again and it had risen really well and for once I was impressed, especially as I’m making hot cross buns on Sunday and I need some confidence and encouragement.

The bread baked perfectly too, lovely and soft. It made some really nice cheese on toast and there is bread for the next couple of days too

Later on today I went to pay the Property Taxes on my place in Canada. I tried for an age unsuccessfully to log into my bank account, only to discover that I was trying to access Scotia Bank Trinidad and Tobago rather than Scotia Bank Canada.

Once I’d found the correct bank, everything went really smoothly. I do like how easy it is to make payments and so on in the Canadian banking system

It’s not so easy making payments on-line in France to the French Government.

The French Government has at long last started a system of on-line payments where you can pay your bills via internet rather than sending a cheque. I went to set it up for me this afternoon, but it’s not easy.

The logical way to organise payments is to index everything by reference to a person’s identity card number, so you can log in, see your account, see what’s owing and pay it off all at once with just one payment.

Instead, everything is indexed by invoice number, so if you have more than one bill to pay, as I did, you have to log in more than once, entering all of your details, including card details, more than once, and it takes an age.

What makes life even more complicated is that it asks you to enter certain details from the invoices into certain boxes on the computer screen, and the names don’t correspond. You have to use some intuitive guesswork to figure it all out.

But what am I going to do about my place in Canada?

it was an inspired decision to buy it because all you need when dealing with Canadian administration is a Property Tax Assessment. I could open bank accounts, buy pick-ups, obtain insurance, have mobile phones, all of that, simply on production of a Property Tax Assessment and it eased my passage (if you’ll pardon the expression) around Canada.

But I’m never going to use it now and it’s just going to sit there with the apples falling off the trees year after year until the cows come home unless my niece goes up there to pick them up.

But while we’re talking about Canada … "well, one of us is" – ed … I wonder how Strider is getting on with his new owners. We travelled miles together, him, me and STRAWBERRY MOOSE. I hope that they are looking afer him.

And that reminds me – I told my niece to dispose of most of the stuff that was in there – tools, camping gear, expedition equipment and so on – but there was a Fender bass and amp in there that I used that I wanted her to keep for me. I need to think of a way of bringing them over here.

The cleaner came round this afternoon for her Friday cleaning spot, bringing my mushrooms and tomatoes with her. I retreated into my bedroom while she was here but I actually had a fall while I was in the bathroom. Luckily the chair was in my way and I fell onto that, otherwise it could have been nasty

There was some stuff on the dictaphone too, surprisingly. I had several Ford Corsairs in my drive last night. One of them was driven away and I can’t remember where it went. Someone else borrowed a set of my number-plates but hadn’t brought them back and I was becoming rather concerned about that. Anyway there was some more car-swapping that needed to be done. I had to bring another Ford Cortina into my drive. That was parked in Gainsborough Road so I had to go down there to it, start it and bring it back. That was a Safari Beige colour but I was thinking that if I were to paint it blue I could put on the number-plates that this guy had borrowed because they belonged to a blue estate. I could make a set of plates but what would be the position if someone saw both vehicles, mine and the one on which presumably the guy had put the plates, and noticed that there were two vehicles with the same set of plates? What would my neighbours say if I were to turn up with yet another car after I’d just had one taken away somewhere? I got into the Cortina Estate. The clutch was right down on the floor and it was difficult to start. I thought that I better hadn’t leave vehicles lying around for so long without actually starting them up otherwise I’m just going to make myself a lot of problems

This is something of a recurring dream, isn’t it, having Cortinas scattered all around the town. It’s just like in real life when I actually did, including a beige Cortina estate and a blue one too.

But swapping over number plates from one car to another? And VIN plates too? I look back on those years with amazement and wonder how on earth I managed to keep clear of some serious trouble. Six months at Her Majesty’s Pleasure would have been nothing. I had to stop and leave the country because those years were catching up on me rather rapidly

My excuse was though that when you are up to your neck in alligators, it’s hard to realise that you are really trying to drain the swamp. Taking drastic and rapid steps to solve short-term issues can lead to some really long-term problems further down the line.

It’s a surprise though having Ford Corsairs around the place for a change. I didn’t think that it would be too long though before a Cortina or two appeared.

So this afternoon I’ve chosen some more music for another radio programme and began to pair it off before tea but I ran out of time, mainly due to going away with the fairies for an hour or so. And miles away too, it has to be said.

But tea was lovely – the last Kale and Quinoa burger from Noz, and I’ll have to find a way of making those because they were nice, especially in breadcrumbs.

Last of the home-made mayonnaise too, although it might not have been had I used a more convenient container. Still, you live and learn.

However, the mayonnaise was an unqualified success. It was too thick and I’d used too much garlic, but those are minor problems. The principle was perfect and tomorrow, I’ll make some more, having learned from my first batch.

So what with that and making hot cross buns on Sunday it looks as if I’m going to be in for a busy weekend. And it’ll do me good right now because I seem to be doing too much of nothing right now.

So what else can I make while I’m at it? I shall have to pick Liz’s brains, and I’ll welcome any suggestions from anyone else too

But before I go, the story of my mayonnaise in the wrong bottle reminds me of that aerosol that came onto the market in the 70s. The publicity for it went something like "enough paint to cover 70 square metres of panelling"
And someone wrote underneath the advert "and enough propellant to get just about a quarter of it out of the can"

Thursday 8th February 2024 – WE’RE BACK TO …

… where we were a few months ago with the freezer, and how it’s now jam-packed to the brim with food.

Actually, that’s quite good news because it means that I don’t have to worry too much about from where my next meal is coming.

Having said that though, there are half a loaf, a bread finger and four bread baps in there that are taking up some of the place and if I were to eat those there would me more room in there, but I’m not ready to do that yet. As long as I can continue to make bread, I’ll make it and if there’s any left over, I’ll freeze it for another time with all of the rest that’s in there.

That will give me something about which I can think the next time that I’m lying in bed tossing and turning 1.e.not a night like last night where, despite having a late night I was out like a light and remember nothing at all until I awoke.

First job was to check the blood pressure + 17.4/10.5, a bit of a change from 18.2/11.6 this morning. There were also some note to tape to the dictaphone because when the alarm went off I was on another planet somewhere

After the medication I came back here to start work – or, at least, to try to, but once more it was really difficult to get going this morning

Once I’d come back round into the Land of the Living I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. This time, I had managed to go for a wander. There was a Led Zeppelin song going through my head last night. I was singing it and needed to know whether there was a background music being played with it or not. If the song had background music being played to it, it would be liable to tax. I’d have to pay money but how would I know whether there was any background music being played to it or not at this time of night when I’m asleep?

And I wasn’t surprised that I dictated that last night because I’ve given up being surprised by what goes on during the night

Later on there were two of my assembled pizzas. I had two of them done and they were in the fridge. They’d been in the fridge for several days. What I needed to do was to take them out and put the tomato sauce on. I was in the kitchen but it wasn’t mine. A small girl came along to help but I don’t know why she did that either.

So if I’m dreaming about my pizzas during the night that’s a sign of something, I’m sure. But putting the tomato sauce on top? No thank you very much

When the alarm went off I was dictating the notes for a radio programme. They included a young girl bassist. I was writing all kinds of notes about her and what she’d been doing. She was quite young. I’d made my way down from the start and I think that she was one of the ones who was almost near the end of the programme

All of that reminded me OF MATT MINGLEWOOD’S BASSIST whom I met when I was photographer for the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival in Fredericton. As I believe I said at the time, she could come round and have a strum on my instrument any time she likes.

On the subject of radio programmes, that was today’s task but first I had to deal with a phone call. And it was exactly as I suspected it might be. "Mr Hall, we’ve had the blood test results. You have to stop taking medication X and take medication Y instead. I’ll send you a prescription."

So the prescription duly arrived, and then I had to change all of the print cartridges in the printer which is now printing and missing lines to I had to clean all of the print heads. So you ever have the feeling that it’s just not your day?

While I was printing off the prescription I printed off some paperwork about Strider. He’s now no longer officially mine and I hope that he has found a good home with his new owners.

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … it’s a shame about Strider. We travelled tens of thousands of miles together from the semi-tropical climate of Georgia up to the frozen peri-Arctic wastes of Northern Labrador, as far as it’s possible to go by road northwards.

He’s just the right height for me to slide in and out and using the cruise control, I can drive him with just my left foot. But I’m over here and he’s over there and that’s that.

And Liz has been very helpful too. She sent me a little parcel that arrived today with a knee support in it and also a vegan cookbook, the same one that she used when she was starting out.

It’s all an early birthday present for me and she says that she hopes that I find the cookbook helpful. Secretly though, I think that she’s fed up of me asking her all these silly questions, but I know that you love me really.

Who was next to interrupt me? Ahhh yes – I had to send off my Leclerc order as I’m running low. And so are they with this farmers’ dispute. Quite a few items of the dairy line are not available and there are no substitutes

But that’s not a real problem if I run out of desserts. Strangely enough, as it happens, I have been fancying a rice pudding for ages so when I bake my bread for the weekend tomorrow morning, I might put a rice pudding in with enough to keep me going for several days.

So halfway through writing up my notes for the radio programme the Leclerc delivery came and so I had to sort out everything and put it away, as well as de-coring and de-pithing a couple of peppers to go into the freezer. I have to build my stocks back up.

Earlier on, I’d sent a message to my cleaner about the new prescription and she popped down to pick it up and tell me the latest gossip about the building.

Back at work and I’d almost finished the radio notes when Rosemary rang for a chat. Just a short chat this evening, only 52 minutes. Barely enough time for an exchange of pleasantries

By now it was tea-time and I fancied steamed veg with falafel and cheese sauce. But I found some veggie balls made out of kidney beans that needed eating and they went down with cheese sauce just as well as falafel.

While I’ve been typing up my notes, I’ve been listening to Al Stewart again and SWISS COTTAGE MANOEUVRES came round on the playlist.

Right near the end of the song are the words "and I couldn’t say what I had won or I’d lost, or even just what I had seen. But when I’m alone I just think of her once in a while". Does it remind you of anything?

It certainly reminds me of something. I’m still shaking my head over that three days in the High Arctic. It was the strangest period of the really strange life that I have led, and there’s still no explanation that I can work out about what was going on.

Let’s face it – I’m well aware of my own limits and this was way beyond anything that would have been contained within them. I certainly couldn’t explain whether I’d won or lost, and I certainly couldn’t explain what I had just seen.

But many of Al Stewart’s songs are like that. These are of some kind of vague pining for a lost adolescence that might have been, if only we had been older and wiser, and doesn’t that apply to most of us?

It’s often been said about “how I wish that I’d had all of my adolescence back, but with all the experience (and the money) that I have today. Wouldn’t things be different?”.

Mine certainly would have been, but I don’t think that it would have been better. It wasn’t until I left Crewe and came over here that I really began to encounter real life in a much wider cultural setting. But as Paul Pena wrote and Steve Miller sang in BIG OLD JET AIRLINER"you know you gotta go through hell before you get to heaven"

And while this certainly isn’t heaven, living in Crewe was certainly hell

22nd December 2023 – BYE BYE STRIDER!

strider centreville new brunswick Canada Eric Hall photo October 2022Amongst the fall-out from the developments over the last 15 months is the parting of ways from one of my faithful companions.

Strider will be off to a new home as soon as his log book arrives here and I sign it and send it back to New Brunswick’s Motor Vehicle Bureau.

He’s not going far at all, as it happens, but even half an inch is too far to be separated from someone who has served me well for 9 years and God alone only knows how many thousands of miles.

strider ford ranger centreville canadaHe first appeared on the scene in November 2014.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall the disputes and arguments that I’d had with car hire companies in North America who found it impossible to believe that “unlimited mileage” meant that mileage was unlimited and you could go as far as you like.

After 2010 when I’d taken CASEY, THE CHRYSLER PT CRUISER over the TRANS LABRADOR HIGHWAY one of the first vehicles to travel across 1800 miles of the worst roads in the World when the final 300 miles over the Eagle Plateau and through the Mealy Mountains were finally opened, I was on some kind of blacklist.

labrador city 813 kilometres canada september septembre 2017So when someone turns up with a lightweight 4×4 pick-up with off-road pack, how can you say “no”?

STRAWBERRY MOOSE And I found our soul-mate and we set off on our adventures that took us thousands and thousands of miles all down the Eastern side of the North American continent.

And apart from a gearchange linkage falling apart in Québec in 2019, he never gave a moment’s trouble. And even then we still limped home after a fashion.

We’ve been as far north as it’s possible to go by road or trail in Labrador and Northern Québec … "and on several occasions too" – ed … as far south as Georgia in the USA and as far west as several miles beyond Ottawa

But we aren’t going any further. I can’t travel over to Canada any more and it makes no sense having him sit around when someone else can use him.

The total irony of all of this is that his seat is exactly the right height for me with my disability, his brake pedal can easily be operated by the left foot and the cruise control will move him along without using the accelerator.

There’s no reason at all why, if he were over here or I were over there, I couldn’t continue to drive him.

He drinks petrol like it’s going out of fashion though … "well, it is" – ed … being an old-technology V6 4.0 litre, but down at the bottom of my field I have another scrap Transit with a 2.5 diesel engine that would drop straight in.

However, if I were fit enough to change an engine over these days, I wouldn’t need the vehicle in the first place.

"What do you want us to do with the stuff that’s still in it?"
"The only things of interest to me are the Fender bass and the Fender combo amp. Share the rest out amongst yourselves and bin the rest"
Tons of tools, camping equipment, vehicle maintenance stuff, expedition equipment, all gone just like that that. But what can you do?

Here’s hoping that Strider has a good home.

Luckily, I have a good home, and I’m glad to be back in it.

Last night I finally went to bed at 02:30 and with no alarm, I was still awake at 07:15 and up and about by 07:45. There’s not much point in having a lie-in these days.

As usual, it took an age to wind myself up ready for work and I began by unpacking my backpack and sorting out the washing.

And if anyone tried to listen to “The Mountain Queen” and Hein Mars and Paul Weststrate last night or early this morning, I posted the wrong link. I’ve corrected it now and it’s THIS LINK that you want.

Sorry about that.

Armed with a coffee I had a look at all of the papers that I’d brought back. I couldn’t make head or tail of some of them so my cleaner said that she’d come round later to help me look.

And so I went off to listen to the tons of stuff on the dictaphone. Firstly there was a continuation of a dream that I’d had a couple of nights ago. It concerned some kind of exhibition of ancient vehicles or something or other. I was going through my photographs trying to identify the people, the location, the vehicle that they had with them etc. I came across a photo where I recognised the person. He was a radio presenter. It just so happened that at that very moment he came out of the building towards the car park so I ran after him and caught up with him as he was standing by his car. I showed him the photo. he replied “that’s not me”. I replied “the car’s a Rover 90” – it was a red Rover 90. He suddenly said “ohh yes, 1954, that”. I asked “what? The car, the photograph or you?”. He replied “no, the car. The photograph was probably taken in 1974. It’s the car that’s 1954”.

Later on we were spread out on a desk in a laboratory obviously run by this doctor. A girl was going through, counting off so many. When she arrived at the number that she wanted, the person she was standing next to, she pointed out and that person was taken away. She said that she was preparing a table and discussion for, I think, her brother who was obviously the psychiatric doctor. As it happened, the people with me and I were saved. We attracted his attention when we went into the boudoir to be interrogated

And I’m doing it again – dictating into my hand. We were going to have a practice with our rock group so I went round to pick up our singer. She was a young girl, and wore one of these party/ballroom dresses type of the 18th Century when she came out. I had to practically lift her up to climb into the van because it was so high up. I climbed in afterwards. She asked “what’s new?”. I replied “we have a gig on Tuesday”. She asked where so I told her “Nantwich”. We set out from her house and drove, and ended up at the back of Alvaston Hall going over a bridge that had been built to keep the vehicles off what was a prehistoric settlement on the ground. We were heading for the recording studio where our group practised.

And this is really strange (or maybe it isn’t). Talking about Simon House yesterday, and the times that I’ve played the bass to some of those tracks, something came into my head yesterday about a girl at our school. She was 4 years or so younger than us, quite small, long dark brown hair, brown-rimmed glasses and a round face, but she sang and played the violin and piano, and to a really good standard too. I was actually imagining her weaving her web around me playing her violin as I played the bass lines to Damnation Alley or Steppenwolf.

Bizarrely, this isn’t the first time that she has come up in a discussion. In Munich 18 months ago my German friend, who was in my class at school, and I were discussing her and her violin for some reason, and neither of us could remember her name. And I still can’t.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed I was in the gold 2000E estate that’s in the barn in Virlet. I was driving to Stoke on Trent. I had to be there for 18:00 but was early. There’s a place that I know where you can park where there’s a good view of the city (if ever there’s a good view of Stoke on Trent from anywhere). I parked on there with about 3 or 4 other cars. It was just underneath a pub. By now the gold estate had transformed itself into a service bus. I was sitting in the seat behind the driver. The door opened and a couple of people came in. One was a young girl. She was obviously waiting for someone but she had her phone and was describing the passengers on board this bus to whoever was on the phone presumably for security reasons. She looked at me and said “there’s an old guy with a small face” so I stuck my head up and said “yes, and extremely handsome” which made her laugh. She moved on to another guy there. She said “he’s the guitarist from the pub”. Another couple of people came on and everyone began to chat. It became quite friendly. Someone asked me why I was there. I replied “I have to be here because I have to be at someone’s front door at 18:00 on the dot and not be early”. They thought that that was an extremely strange command which I suppose it was but if that’s what the person wants, that’s what the person is going to have “so I’m just sitting here killing time”. After a couple of minutes I had to make my excuses and leave. It was time for me to be heading off.

Having done that, I set about photocopying all of the paperwork that I’d received from the Hospital. There was a whole rain-forest of it too, and it all has to be distributed amongst the appropriate recipients.

Anyway, the cleaner came round and we sorted out everything that needed to be sorted out. And then she set off for the Chemist’s.

When she came back and gave me the stuff, I arranged it on my shelf. And now I’m well over into a second shelf of medication.

And do you want to know how much a month’s medication is costing? If you do, then I’ll tell you that it’s €7104:00 and I know because I’ve seen the bill. And my contribution to that is nothing whatever (I almost said “Zero” but that could have been misconstrued).

On top of that I’ve been issued with a tensiometer and a heart monitor.

My blood pressure needs to be measured 3 times a day, morning, noon and night, when I’m sitting calm and comfortable without stress. And when is that ever likely to happen?

The aim is for the blood pressure to be below 14.0/9.0. And when has that ever happened?

There’s to be an injection of this Aranesp substitute every Wednesday by the infirmier ambulant and it has to stop if my blood count rises to 12.0.

And how do we know if my blood count rises to 12.0? That’s because the nurse has to take a blood sample every week. He’ll enjoy that because he can never find my veins.

With the heart monitor, I have to send off the readings and the blood pressure figures every day to the hospital for further instructions – keep on doing what I’m doing jusqu’à nouvel ordre in fact.

There’s another couple of IRMs that needs to be arranged – one for the heart and another for something else that I forget now.

And then there’s the medication. When I walk around in future, you’ll hear me coming because I’ll be rattling. Honestly, I have never seen so much anywhere except in a chemist’s, and then not all the time.

At this rate, sorting out all of this paperwork and medication and keeping all these records, I’ll be far too busy to die.

In between all of this I prepared an order for food and sent it off to LeClerc. It was shockingly expensive today but I’ve bought presents for everyone who has helped me this year, to express my gratitude.

Nothing really exciting because LeClerc’s home shopping isn’t blessed with a great deal of choice. Just boxes of chocolates and also a bottle of champagne for my cleaner. Anyone who comes round tidying up after me thoroughly deserves it.

Tea was a salad with burger and chips, some of which were sweet potato chips – LeClerc’s home delivery won’t deliver less than 1kg of sweet potatoes and I only needed a few hundred grammes for the wellington. And it was all delicious too.

So tomorrow I’m going to start on the vegan wellington. I don’t have everything but I’ll do what I can with what I have. It should be delicious anyway, whatever goes in it. I have all kinds of vegetables to go with it – 7 varieties of different veg in fact.

Yes, there was more broccoli on offer so I bought another one. Once more it’s mostly stalk so I’ll be having broccoli stalk soup again tomorrow.

So there is broccoli and 2kg of carrots to blanch in the morning, and the vegan wellington in the afternoon – if I’m still here after taking my first tablet.

This is all beginning to look rather uncomfortable to me.

Saturday 2nd December 2023 – I AWOKE THIS …

… morning at 05:30, even after all of my exertions last night. And I was feeling so awake that by 05:40 I was seriously thinking about leaving the stinking pit.

But I’m glad I didn’t.

Some time later I must have fallen asleep again. And I’m glad that I did because during that little period I had a visitor. Zero came to visit me.

In fact her presence so startled me that I awoke bolt upright. And this time I actually did leave the bed before the alarm went off. Not my much, it has to be said, but any period of time is worth noting.

First port of call was to take my medication. And that was especially important seeing as how I’d abstained yesterday.

Second port of call was to check the temperature. When I lived in the Auvergne the temperature was just one of the several dozen records that I took twice a day so I could make graphs that would hopefully show a correlation between the different types of weather and the different types of energy that was being produced and consumed but I don’t do anything at all like that here.

What was important today was the fact that even though we’re so close to the sea, everything was iced up outside.

And sure enough, at 07:00 this morning the temperature was minus 3.5°C. That’s the lowest temperature that I’ve seen here, but it’s still a far cry from how things were in the Auvergne. Rosemary rang up for a chat later on (as you will find out in due course) and she told me that the temperature in the Combrailles had dropped to minus 7°C and as things had warmed up in the morning they’d had a fall of snow.

But as for my temperature (well, the temperature outside actually) it was enough to put me off going out.

After yesterday’s exertions I was really exhausted but I wondered whether I should force myself to go out but as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, if I fall over I can’t pick myself up again and staggering about on the ice in sub-zero temperatures is a recipe for disaster.

Instead, I came in here and finished off my order for LeClerc. I was going to send it off on Monday but instead I added in everything that I would otherwise buy at the Carrefour and it was on its way even before I’d had my morning coffee.

There were no tomatoes on delivery today but my cleaner usually goes to the market in town on Saturday morning so I sent her a message and she duly obliged.

Next stop was to listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. And, more importantly, who had come with me. I’d been collecting up tools, the kind that you’d find on market stalls in the northern UK. I’d been making a collection of all kinds of stuff. Then I’d been going through it and deciding what I wanted to keep and what I didn’t, and maybe I would advertise the rest for sale or something like that, maybe even visit a market stall to try to sell them or even try to have a market stall myself so much of last night was spent going through this collection of tools and making decisions. There were things like hammers and drifts, taps and dies, files etc that I would have loved to have had at another moment.

And in a certain region of India a man was having an extreme amount of difficulty trying to buy many items that would be considered to be normal, average everyday use in the rest of the World. At a certain moment he won £721 in a lottery for deprived areas so used his winnings to place an internet order to buy stuff on line that he could have sent to him. He went on one of these reality TV programmes to talk about his winnings and his order. Some visiting dignitary from his Province’s Government climbed onto the stage without invitation and immediately began to denounce everything that he’d ordered that had not yet been delivered, claiming that it was all Chinese warmongering equipment, even things like barbecue grills, and had no place in an ordinary decent home in his Province. he was picking up these things and throwing them about on the stage, coming out with all kinds of rhetoric. I tried to calm him down but he wasn’t going to have anything about this so in the end I reluctantly decided that the only way to deal with this matter is to have a huge confrontation with him on the TV and embarrass him by his lack of knowledge and obvious prejudice.

Later on there was a couple of domineering parents who had 4 teenage children. One day they decided that they would assassinate some kind of Russian emigré noblewoman. He knew where this noble emigré woman went to relax so the arranged to be present with rifles. As the woman was leaning against a wall smoking, the father gave a signal and everyone levelled their rifles across the room at this woman relaxing in the doorway. At the very last moment she saw them and swayed to one side as they fired. Instead of being killed outright one hit her in the cheek, another hit her in the shoulder and the other 4 missed. In a fit of anger she stormed over to this table where these 6 people were sitting and tore an absolute strip off the father and demanded that he give her a glass of gin. He was astonished that she was still moving and insisting on a glass of gin, which he poured for her. First he took a mouthful himself before giving it to her. One of this children piped up “just look at that! Now you can see what it is that we as kids have had to suffer for all our lives. He can’t even give someone a drink without having to take a drink of it himself. You’ve just met him for 10 minutes and he’s treated you like this but this is how he’s treated us all out lives”.

This was when I awoke at 05:30 and as I said just now, when I went back to sleep Zero put in an appearance. I was at school and it was the middle of summer. There were loads of kids milling around. I’d been working on a few of the radio programmes. One of the guys who ran the radio asked me if I’d put together a pile of programmes that had been broadcast previously which were my favourites. I had an enormous amount of difficulty trying to find the ones. I was looking for some certain live concerts but every time I opened a folder it was the wrong one. Eventually I put 4 or 5 together onto a memory stick and walked out of my classroom ready to go downstairs. I was wearing a shirt with no sleeves that was completely open, a tie that was actually around my neck and not around the collar of the shirt and a pair of shorts which I never ever wear. You could see the skin imperfections on my legs and you could also a great big scar running down the inside of my right arm. As I walked down the steps there were all these girls sitting down there. One or two made a remark about my sartorial elegance. I explained that if they thought that I would wear full school uniform on the hottest day of the year they are totally mistaken. One of the girls talking to me had a very white pasty face and hair as if she’d been covered in flour. There was another one, a much younger girl, who was flirting around with me as she was talking so naturally I was flirting around with her too as I was replying. Then I set off and ended up in Market Street in Crewe in the period before they demolished it all. Zero came in at some point as I was going through the directories looking for these particular files. Whether she was helping me or whether she was actually involved in one of the programmes I can’t remember now but she was certainly there as I was searching through these directories looking for the specific files.

But what is going on here? I’m flirting around with another girl while Zero is in the immediate vicinity? I really must be losing my touch these days!

By this time the shopping – including my bigarreaux confits – had arrived and I was in time to watch the delivery guy go head over heels on the stairs up to my apartment. No bones broken so he was lucky. Slabs of solid granite are really hard when you fall on them.

Before I’d sent off the order I checked the promotions to see what was on special offer, and they had broccoli heads at 99 cents so I’d ordered one.

It was more stalk than florets so after I’d trimmed it and blanched the florets ready for freezing, I decided to have a broccoli stalk soup for lunch.

  • Cut up an onion and fry it in oil in the base of a heavy saucepan
  • Add in your herbs. I used
    • chervil
    • tarragon
    • coriander
  • add in a sliced lump of garlic
  • dice your broccoli stalk finely and add it in
  • dice a potato ditto
  • fry it all up nicely for a few minutes
  • add back enough of the water in which you blanched the broccoli florets
  • Simmer it until everything in there is extremely soft, and then add in some cream. I used soya yoghurt as I have plenty that needs eating quickly
  • whizz it up with your magic wand
  • eat it with some of the crusty bread that you remembered to add onto your order with LeClerc

Fighting off (sometimes unsuccessfully) a few waves of sleep I carried on writing the notes for Canada 2022. I’m still wandering around the vieux port – I had no idea that I’d taken so many photos there.

Rosemary rang me up too (as I said just now) to find out how things went yesterday so I told her the bad news. She tells me that in the Spring next year she’ll come to visit if her operation passes ok.

If she does, I hope that she remembers to bring with her my big bass combo amp that’s sitting in her shed. That’s the one that I found in a pawn shop around the corner from Sandra’s in Ottawa in 2019.

And while we’re on the subject, sometime in the future I’ll be expecting another parcel delivery from Canada. In the back of Strider were a Fender bass and combo amp that travelled around North America with me. Now that Strider is, apparently, no more, it’ll be in the way at my niece’s house and I need to bring it here.

Apparently my talk about Christmas cake earlier in the week inspired Rosemary and she checked in her cupboard where she found that she had all of the important ingredients for a Christmas Cake.

She’s had all of her fruit soaking since then but now she can’t find her baking tin. And at least I can smile because although I moved to the Auvergne in 2006 and still haven’t unpacked yet, Rosemary moved to France more than 30 years ago and she is far from being unpacked even yet.

Anyway we agreed that cooking and baking is a fine hobby to have if your mobility is restricted. You don’t need to move around much and you can really enjoy the fruits of your labours – in the literal sense of the word.

Tea tonight was a burger on a bap, which I can enjoy now that I’ve found that I can order on-line the special burgers that I like. With a baked potato and salad it was delicious.

So tomorrow I have a lot to do. Before I go to bed I’ll be dictating the radio notes that I prepared the other day (if I get pull my head round in the right direction) so that I can prepare a programme tomorrow.

Then there’s the Christmas Cake and Pudding that need baking too.

Finally too, I have biscuits to bake. I had a couple of store-bought packets lying around but while the first packet was fine, the odour that came from the second one that I opened today convinced me that I didn’t need to taste them.

There’s some freh ginger lying around, some almonds and a few other bits and pieces so that looks as if it will make a really nice biscuit mix. It’s a good job that the vegan butter was on special offer today and I took full advantage by buying an extra packet.

So before I go to bed I’ll have a play about on the guitar and work my way through some more of my playlist. I might have a good run through RECOVERING THE SATELLITES

"We only stay in orbit
For a moment of time
And then you’re everybody’s satellite
I wish that you were mine"

Now who does that remind me of?

Wednesday 15th November 2023 – ALL MY SESSIONS …

… at the Centre de Re-education were cancelled today, and cancelled tomorrow as well. No-one has told me why but I suggest that Severine has been overcome after a couple of sessions of massaging my feet.

She’s not the first, of course. I remember when Nerina wanted us to have one of these Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs.
"What will it eat?" I asked
"The same food as us" she replied
"And where will it live?"
"In the house with us" she answered
"And where will it sleep?" I asked
"On the bed with us and the cats" she answered it
"And what about the smell?" I asked
"The pig will get used to it" she said. "The cats and I had to".

So with no physical training today, I’ve been very busy.

And not just during the day either. I was quite busy during the night too. There was something about a rock group having produced a follow-up album to one that was a great success. There was something to do with 9 minutes in this follow-up which made the disk less attractive to anyone who wanted to buy it. A discussion was going around about how the recording society was really compromising this album in respect of this particular 9 minutes and something needed to be done for the group to reassert itself. But it was like one of these dreams where I walked into the middle of something that was already going on and then walked out again before it finished. I can’t remember any more than that but it was well under way when I first became involved in it

We were back with this group again later, when they had gone to ground over something to do with this 9 minutes. While they were doing it they discovered some music that had been registered by someone who had been there a couple of years earlier and which had been totally overlooked. Now they were saying that this piece of music might make all the difference about how their new album is going to progress.

There was something going on last night about food prices. Prices were starting to go through the roof. People were beginning to stock up. One of the issues was cat food which had begun to be really expensive. Someone in the house where I was living gave me a voucher for 4 tins and asked me to go to the Co-op. As I did, one of the cats ran to the door and ran outside. I had to grab it and bring it back inside the house before I could set off. That had me thinking about walking to the Co-op. I was after all quite ill but was still going along doing all of this, going to the hospital, still doing as much as I could. I remember my father when his wife was ill, how he basically dropped everything and just stayed at home, ostensibly to look after her but I suspected that it was a kind-of fatigue that enters your body once you are old and you just don’t want to do anything any more. I couldn’t understand why it was that so many people seemed to give up hope as soon as they have some kind of severe illness and allow the illness to sweep them away etc instead of standing back up and fighting.

This is pretty much similar to several conversations that I’d had in the past. With most people, if you aren’t feeling too good today you can always leave the task until tomorrow when you’ll be feeling better. Anyone with a terminal illness will tell you that if you aren’t feeling too good today you can’t leave it because you know that tomorrow you’ll be feeling worse. You have to press on regardless.

It’s surprising how an illness like that can change your life for the better, because it keeps on driving you forward.

When I was on the taxis in Crewe I saw dozens of people who had worked all their lives to the sound of the factory hooter and had died a few months after retirement because they didn’t know what to do and so had sunk into a fit of lethargic depression that proved to be terminal.

Mind you, Crewe is rather like that. It’s the kind of place that when the Luftwaffe dropped a stick of bombs across the town during one of the “Baedecker Raids” in 1941, they caused £14,000,000 worth of improvements. It’s the kind of town that sucks your soul out of you and I’d had my fill of it long before I actually left.

There was a competition on the internet a while back for people to submit the most depressing photograph or slogan that they had ever seen. The winner, by a country mile, was a banner seen at a football match that said
“Born in Crewe – Live in Crewe – Die in Crewe”

On the subject of football, during the night I remember something about being at a football ground last night for a football match. It was a windy evening and I was carrying these large pieces of plastic that I’d picked up as littler. I opened my arms and legs in a form of St Andrews’s cross with the plastic as a form of background, just for a bit of fun I suppose, when a gust of wind hit me. It caught the plastic and blew the plastic and me all the way across the ground into a wooden bench seat on the far side which broke into several pieces. I remember thinking to myself that it seems to me that I’m just being dogged around by all kinds of misfortune and bad luck at the moment. Everything that I’m touching seems to be going wrong.

Nothing new there.

I remember thinking, in connection with the last dream, that I’d much rather wait a couple of weeks and have what I want at a price that I could afford rather than going out and buying the first thing that I saw that would do the job but was probably 5 times more expensive than it actually ought to be.

And then I was in Virlet last night down on the farm. In the neighbourhood all running around was a load of little kids, probably 8 or 9, something like that. A few of them were girls and one of them seemed to be pretty much attached to me, which was rather sweet and reminded me of someone who appears occasionally during my nocturnal rambles and makes me go all broody thinking about the daughter whom I always wanted, which I didn’t actually realise until I had a daughter for 3 years. Anyway I took out my bike and decided that I’d cycle to Montlucon to go to the shops. It was night but I reckoned that I’d be there by the time that it was morning and the shops would be open. I set out. The front light was working but the rear wasn’t, but that’s never bothered me before. The father of these kids said something about the rear light but I pretended not to notice. I cycled off and ended up in Longton. I went into a butcher’s shop. Who should also walk in but Zero’s father. I can’t remember now what I ordered. It was something like a meat faggot (it must have been a dream). I asked how much and he told me so I paid it and took it. I could see that Zero’s father was intending on doing something with her, buying something, but I couldn’t make out what was going on in his mind. I got back on the bike and set off. I went to inspect the roadworks along the road out of Stoke on Trent. Just as it was becoming light I was cycling into Stockport which had been one of my planned destinations.

But fancy that – Zero hovering around somewhere on the periphery of my voyages last night and I didn’t manage to see her. Mind you, with one or two things that did unfold during the night and which you really don’t need to know if you are eating your tea, maybe it’s just as well that I didn’t.

So today I’ve finished off the notes for the radio programme on which I’ve been working, and then I’ve tidied up the Radio directory on the big computer.

After that, I carried on with editing the photos from Canada 2022. Right now, STRAWBERRY MOOSE, Strider and I are on our way to Woodstock to do our shopping for our stay.

Before we set out though, we had to give Strider a thorough cleaning because with having stood idle for three years it looked as if someone had been growing potatoes in him.

And it’s a good job that we cleaned him out because we needed the space. As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, by the time we got to Woodstock we were half a million strong.

There were also several interruptions as we went on our way around. The cleaner came, of course, but she brought with her a letter inviting me to a hospital appointment in the cardiac unit in Paris on 24th April next year.

And then an hour later, they rang me up to ask me to go for another consultation, this time with the haematology department. They wanted me to come next Wednesday and interesting as it might be, it’s not really practical to make the arrangements that quickly.

So instead, we agreed on 1at December – 2 weeks or so’s time. That should give me enough time to arrange transport.

This will presumably be when they will let me know whether they will take on my case from Leuven. Much as I love going to Leuven and meeting my friends there, I just can’t cope with the travelling.

Tea was a leftover curry lengthened with supplies from the European Potato Mountain. And I was right about the garlic butter on my naan bread. Every time I breathe out, I burn another 2 layers of paint off the wall.

So having done that, I’ll make myself a drink, dictate the radio notes and then go to bed for an early night. We’ll see how much work I can do tomorrow, but I also have to order food, so blanching and freezing carrots will interrupt my flow.

But the sooner we start, the sooner we finish. We have to make the most of our couple of unexpected days off.

Monday 30th October 2023 – OHHH! THE EMBARRASSMENT!

This morning I fell in my apartment, and I couldn’t pick myself up again. I had to rely on my cleaner to pick me up and put me on a seat.

What I was trying to do was to tidy up the bedroom but my foot slipped on the parquet floor and I ended up on my knee. And it was only a few weeks ago that I could stand up from a kneeling position if I had something to cling on to. But not any longer.

However at least I was able to pull myself up from bed this morning without any assistance – including any assistance of the alarm. I put that down to the change in time that took place on Sunday morning.

After the medication I came in here to type a letter. My cleaner was off into town so I wanted to send her with a letter to the doctor to find out where I have to go for this cardiac examination and to ask for a transport voucher to take me there.

And it was tidying up in here ready for the cleaner to come down for the letter that I had my issues.

After she’d gone I had plenty of phone calls to make. Caliburn is being picked up on Thursday, and I’ve sorted out some banking issues, including requesting documents that I need for this claim for assistance.

There was a load of stuff that I did, and there is probably more to do too.

There was plenty of stuff on the dictaphone from the night but I couldn’t remember much of it. I was in the middle of an enormous, lengthy dream that involved taxi licences. There had been two taxi licences issued for each small town in some kind of area. As the licences were occasionally handed back someone came along to pick them up and develop them. But I can’t remember any more about it than this because I had quite a dramatic awakening in the middle of this lengthy dream.

Then later on there was something about hospitals, military hospitals being used by some Middle-Eastern guerillas who were fighting for their land from a corrupt Government. Just as this dream was setting off I awoke yet again.

At another point there were two of us, me and someone else, driving in one of these big American articulated lorries along an Interstate highway somewhere, checking our maps and making our arrangements. The guy who was driving turned to his radio to announce that we were going to come off here to head down to the border. Once we arrive, maybe we’d stop for food but if he felt like it he might come off and instead, cut across country south-west and head for a different State border that way. We pushed on, left the Interstate and carried on driving. We came to the rest area where we were going to stop. My niece’s daughter was there. She asked about the recording of a concert. I said that I’d managed to record it and had it on CD. She asked if she could have it. I said that I needed it – obviously I’d recorded it because I wanted it but I could copy it for her if she had a spare CD that I could copy it on to. She hadn’t but she said that she could give me a different concert by this group that was shorter but I said that that still wouldn’t solve the problem because I still wouldn’t have the original concert that I wanted.

Looking at that dream, or, should I say, reading it again, it reminds me of the many times that I’ve rolled up and down Interstate 95 stopping off for home fries, beans and toast at Dysart’s Truckstop near Bangor and that famous night when a bus-load of cheerleaders dressed for action dropped in while we were filling our faces.

There was also that legendary trip in 2017 when Strider STRAWBERRY MOOSE and I went to see Rhys, my friend from University, down in South Carolina and then we crossed over into Georgia just to say that we’d been and then came back up the Outer Banks and over Long island Sound, then back up I-95.

Jackson Browne sang about DRIVING DOWN THE 295 OUT OF PORTLAND, MAINE – the “295” being the ring road that takes I-95 around Portland and if you listen very carefully, you’ll hear the tour bus that he was on while he was playing his guitar.

One thing that I missed was that I never ever had the chance to drive an 18-wheel rig down one of the Interstates. The biggest vehicle that I ever drove down I-95 was a 7.5 tonne GMC flatbed taking a big V8 engine from Canada to Weare in New Hampshire for reconditioning.

Still, the way things are, I suppose that that will have to do.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … , bed there had been another dream in which a woman wearing a red jumper was being followed around by a tall, older guy, some kind of down-and-out. It was clear that he had mental health issues but wasn’t a particular danger but it was extremely uncomfortable for this girl. One day he followed her into her office. She decided that she would skip out and wait for the guy to be tackled but he wandered into the room where she worked. He asked if anyone had seem the woman in the red jumper. Someone said “she’s gone down to the canteen for her lunch” to which he replied ‘that’s a shame. I have no money for any lunch” which sent some kind of alarm signal that made the other people in the room begin to think that this was a situation that wasn’t quite correct.

The rest of the day has been spent writing notes for the next radio programme, having paired off the music earlier. I’ve almost finished all of the notes for that one now. There was also time to review and send off the programme that will be broadcast this coming weekend.

Tea was a stuffed pepper – slightly singed but nice enough nevertheless with vegetables and pasta.

So lots to do tomorrow, including a Welsh class, a few forms to fill in, a few phone calls to make and a Re-Education course to begin.

But looking at some of the notes that I’ve been dictating and typing recently, I seem to be spending far more time looking backwards rather than looking forwards. I suppose that it’s normal, what with things being the way they are and that I only have memories to look forward to.

It reminds me of AE Housman
"Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?

That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again."

Thursday 5th October 2023 – I’M HAVING TO …

… go back to the hospital at Paris in a couple of weeks. They rang me up today to tell me.

The original proposal was to give me a series of intravenous antibiotic perfusions that I could take at home over the period of a week. However they’ve had a close look at my medical results from my last visit and decided that my medical state is far too fragile for the perfusion to take place without medical supervision.

Therefore they are calling me in and moving on directly to the next stage of the proceedings, whatever that might be.

It’s nice to see that they aren’t going to let the grass grow under their feet and that they are pressing on regardless. One thing that I’m sure of is that I can’t carry on like this much longer.

The big question is though “how am I going to make it to the hospital?” because I don’t want to have to go through that journey again. As I’ve said before, I can feel things slipping away day by day.

Something that I didn’t actually go through today was the stress of an early start. I was flat out when the alarm went off, miles away in the Land of Nod.

Nevertheless I struggled to my feet and went to take my medication and to check my mails and messages.

Once I’d dragged myself round into the Land of the Living I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. I was a new boy on a way to a class on board an old double-decker bus. I was the only passenger. The bus stopped to pick up a teacher. Apparently something had gone wrong somewhere and he was looking for the culprit. For some reason he fastened on me although it was nothing at all to do with me. I told him what I knew about anything, which wasn’t much, and he grudgingly accepted. In the end he said “drop me off at (such and such) bus stop”. I had no idea where this bus stop was, being new, so I just rang the bell for the next stop. Sure enough the bus stopped. He alighted first and I was about to alight second. The driver had obviously seem the person alighting in his mirror and he put his foot down at that point to move off. I was half on, half off the bus so the back of the bus hit me on the top of the pelvis and spun me off onto the ground on my face. It didn’t half hurt.

Later on I was round at someone’s house having a coffee, chatting to him and his wife. He asked me to tell them a limerick. As usual, I couldn’t think of one on demand like that. It took me ages. In the end I went to the bathroom and came back with a really weak effort. They guy then began to tell me a joke about another man who had come to his house. This joke went on and on and on. When he finally reached the punchline I thought that it wasn’t funny at all. he looked at me and said “you’re a case apart, you are”. This joke that went on for ages just fell completely flat.

And then we’d been camping somewhere. I’d had to leave Nerina and return home for something or other. I drove back all the way. I ended up going a strange way that I didn’t recognise. I suddenly found myself back on the road that I knew and couldn’t work out how I’d reached that particular point. I drove home and ended up talking to a few members of my family. I then emptied my vehicle and prepared to go back to pick her up to bring her home. It was about a 7-hour trip each way so I was effectively going to be driving 21 hours out of 24. Back at home I’d been into the house, which was our old one in Vine Tree Avenue. Someone had been in to feed the cats because the key was still in the lock in the bathroom door. On the way out I had to close the barrier. A little baby girl who was there told me how to close it. I’d seen some shoes that were really caked in mud and it turned out that they were my aunt Doreen’s. My father began to chat to this little girl about her. When we were about to set off the discussion came round to my yellow Cortina estate, about how it needs to go for its MoT etc. I wasn’t very optimistic be he said that he’d take it anyway. I wasn’t looking forward to having the fail certificate for that to tell me everything that needed doing. He was telling me about his own car, another Cortina where he’d had to change a couple of bushes in order for that to pass its MoT. In the meantime I was about to set off to go back to where we’d been camping to pick up Nerina and bring her home ready to go to work next morning. Looking at my watch I was going to be cutting it fine to have her back here in time to go to work.

Once I’d finished the notes from last night I cracked on with another batch of arrears and if I keep on going like this, I’ll have them finished by the end of the weekend. And then I can set out to update all of my notes. It’s high time that I did my best to catch up on various arrears of work that are hanging around.

Over the past few weeks or so there has been quite a large amount of correspondence piling up. I went through all of that this morning and filed away a pile of stuff. A few other letters needed scanning so that I can have copies, and there are one or two forms to fill in that I’ll have to complete quite soon.

And while we’re on the subject, I’ve heard that my disability cards have now been printed and are on their way. They should be here by the middle of next week. Not that the driving permit will do me much good because of course I’m no longer going to drive – unless something rather dramatic crops up out of this hospital treatment.

There have been a couple of very long messages to write too. One of which concerns Strider, my Ford Ranger in Canada. I’ve decided, for obvious reasons, that he’ll have to go the Way of the West.

It’s a shame really because the seat is exactly the right height for me to slide into and it’s an automatic too I could in principle drive him as I am. There would be no issue shipping him to Europe but with an old-technology V6 4.0 litre engine he drinks petrol like it’s going out of fashion, which it is, but that’s not what I mean.

Had I been healthy, it wouldn’t have been a problem because I have a variety of diesel engines down on the farm that would slide right in. But if I were well enough to change an engine, I would be well enough to carry on driving Caliburn.

Next task was to write a letter to my doctor. There are several issues that have cropped up just recently that I feel he ought to know. That includes the question of travel to Paris, and also involves some of the stuff that I scanned today.

We’ve not finished yet. Yesterday I said that I needed to prepare an emergency bag in case I’m whisked off to hospital at a moment’s notice. That took a while but it’s all ready now.

The rest of the day was spent finishing off writing the notes for the second radio programme and then ripping through the third one. They are well over half-way written now.

Tea tonight was interesting and I enjoyed it very much. It was pasta and lots of vegetables, and when it was cooked, fried in vegan butter with vegan cheese and vegan tomato pesto. I’ve had some really nice meals just recently and this was certainly one to match the best of them.

So having written my notes I’m off to bed. I’m going to have a go at going into town tomorrow morning. I’m not too optimistic that it will turn out well but I’ll have to give it a go and see where it takes me.

There’s some food that I need and it will have to be at the local supermarket by the port as I have to drop off the letter at the doctor’s. I can quiz the bus driver to see what the bus stop is like at St Nicholas, if it’s any better for me to climb in and out of the bus.

But before everything I’ll just go through the supermarket’s on-line catalogue to carry on making my list of my favourite products. If I can do that, it’ll make my on-line shopping easier.

Tuesday 18th October 2022 – A FUNNY THING …

… happened this morning. But anyone who knows anything about cats will know that there is nothing whatever strange about it.

The alarm went off as planned at 05:45 ready for my Welsh lesson but immediately (and I DO mean “immediately”) Cujo the Killer Cat jumped on me and trapped me in bed.

She refused to move until she’s had a good 20 minutes of strokes and consequently I was late for my lesson.

Once the lesson began she came and sat on my knee for an hour or so, hogging the camera while the lesson continued.

At last I think that I’ve sorted out the best way to deal with the Zoom meetings on this computer.

A year or so ago I upgraded it by swapping the hard drive for a solid-state drive but the processor is still quite slow. Zoom uses up all of the resources which means that when I open the course book *.pdf the Zoom window stutters. However if I minimise the Zoom window so that it shows “active speaker only” then it doesn’t work too badly.

As for the lesson itself it passed quite quickly and it wasn’t too bad. In fact I did rather well in what I was asked to do. But I really need to work on my vocabulary. Well, more than that actually. I’m feeling that I’m falling way behind.

After the lesson finished I … errr … relaxed for a while and then had a listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night. We were at an archaeological dig last night having to clean some of the artefacts. There were quite a few of us there. I found some kind of switch made from bakelite from the 1950s. It was extremely delicate and took me ages to get into all the nooks and crevices etc to scrape away years years of dust. Then I had to go to work on some kind of miniature man, wrap him in ivy seeds and ivy runners. It was called a “gorseinon” whatever that might be. I didn’t have a clue how to do this but there was some young girl there who was making one who gave me some instruction as to how to do it, hanging part of it around his neck and twisting it round so that the whole length of whatever it is that you had was covering his whole length to varying degrees.

Then I was out with Rachel. We were shopping somewhere. She was telling us about all the chaos there had been over the Christmas shopping. She had a list of shops that she wanted to visit but there was so much chaos on the roundabout and traffic junctions that she never actually managed to make it to one particular shop which was a pretty important one on the list. She was describing to me how people just take so much time doing their shopping because they would want to talk to the counter clerk, inane, banal things. She was imitating some of their conversation in this perfect Canadian accent while everyone in the queue with us was listening and smiling. We’d already had some kind of chaos on the roundabout with telling some stories to my brother who was in the car behind and was so intent on listening that he ended up being in the wrong lane coming into this roundabout and caused an almighty snarl-up of his own while he tried to sort himself out and get him on the right track

There was also something that I vaguely remember about a gold BMC1800 “ADO17” being parked up at a house in Canada. And that’s a surprise because the car was never available in North America as far as I can tell.

After lunch I headed off down to the mill again. It was quite busy there these days especially as they are loading up the feed truck to go on a delivery round. But these days I’m in no condition to help out as I used to.

But at least I think that I’ve worked out why the transmission in Strider might be slipping occasionally. There wasn’t a drop of oil in the gearbox so I topped it up – with about a litre of hypoid.

Strider has been stood for three years, I know, but I didn’t think that the oil would leak out over time. I shall have to put him up on a ramp and see of there’s a leak. Gone are the days when I could crawl underneath.

We were there until quite late this evening and when we came home, we were in no mood to cook. Consequently we ended up with leftovers. I had what I had yesterday except with a baked potato instead of the spaghetti squash.

Rachel and I chatted for a couple of hours and made plans for the future, and now I’m off to bed. Tomorrow I’m going to start to pack as I ought to be thinking about going home.

Not that I want to, but I can’t stay here for ever. Apart from anything else, I have no fewer than 6 hospital appointments in Leuven a week on Thursday. Things are hotting up.

Thursday 13th October 2022 – I WAS NOT …

… alone in bed last night. I’d just curled up and settled down quietly to go to sleep when suddenly there was a thud on the bed and some thing pushed a black and furry head into my chin.

Sure enough, Cujo the Killer Cat had decided to come to join me. She curled up next to me and went to sleep. All in all, she was there for an hour or so, changing position every 15 minutes or so to make herself more comfortable while I of course was becoming even more uncomfortable, but in the end she jumped off, ate a couple of cat biscuits and went off for a prowl around the house.

Anyone who knows anything at all about cats will know that this is simply normal, usual behaviour. When we were married Nerina and I had four cats so you can imagine how that worked out. Here, there are three cats but so far only Culo the Killer Cat has found me on a permanent basis. Oscar, the ginger and white cat, found his way onto the bed at one point but Gilligan, the young long-haired cat not at all.

With Cujo waking me up during the night, I forgot about a dream that I was having. I was having a lovely dream, but with Cujo the Killer Cat coming to join me I awoke and most of it went immediately out of my head. But there was some woman telling me that she’d let me know if something happened again and so on. Unfortunately I can’t remember what that was or anything but it was really nice wonderful comfortable dream.

And later, we were talking about defence in World War I and how the new German heavy machine gun was supposed to be the best. They fortified all of their railway stations and places like that with examples of their heavy machine gun

I stepped back into that dream some time later .Our unit had been badly shot up in World War I and we were being evacuated from the Front with a pile of wounded. One of the wounded was a French private and I spent a lot of time chatting to him. He was in complete agony. Eventually we found some road transport that brought us into the city centre of Verdun. Luckily he was one of the first off the transport into the hospital. I asked the nurse if he’d been shot with a machine gun. She replied “yes”. I asked what were his chances of recovery because he had a seizure. A few of these nurses came rushing round to him but he pulled his way through this seizure. They turned to me and said “he’ll be OK now that he’s gone through that. There will be no worry with him”.

Finally, I’d gone to a mobile phone shop because I wanted to download from my mobile phone an album that had been supplied free with the ‘phone. I couldn’t find which directory it was in despite knowing the name of the musician … "it was Steve Winwood" – ed. The first thing that I noticed was that he typed my phone n° into his computer and immediately had access to the contents of my phone via some kind of remote connection. He could see everything that I had on my phone, what my desktop was, etc. He hadn’t asked me for permission to do that and in any case I didn’t think that he could use his computer to view the contents of my phone from his desk. I was absolutely appalled. I was going to write to as many people as I possibly could to make this kind of thing known to them. I thought that it was awful that they could just type my number into their computer and see on their screen the contents of my phone and what I had visible on my screen at that moment.

When the alarm went off there were still people moving around the house and so I waited until everyone left before I arose from the dead.

The first thing that I did was to transcribe the dictaphone notes, that you have already seen.

Next plan was to book some accommodation for the next couple of stages of my journey. I’m leaving here in 10 days so I have to make sure that I have somewhere to stay.

It’s not easy because I have no Canadian ‘phone these days for the bank to send me some verification instructions for payment, so I have to book into these “pay on arrival” places and there aren’t too many of those

Next step was to try to find some freight companies to ship this sunroof back to Europe. After much research I found a couple of freight forwarding companies in Saint John and I’ve been in touch with them. Whether or not they reply is something else completely.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that receiving replies to e-mails that I send off to try to organise something or other is something that very rarely happens. Everyone complains that there’s a recession and that business is difficult but my own experience is that no-one really wants to do any work.

After lunch I had to go and measure my parcels. Having turned out the cab of Strider I couldn’t find my tape measure. Luckiiy though when I was in IKEA in the summer I’d picked up a measuring tape and it was still in my little bag so I managed to do it after a fashion.

They need to be weighed but I can’t lift them on my own. I shall have to wait for assistance.

One thing that I’d noticed was that it looked as if someone had been growing potatoes in Strider’s cab. I found an old yard brush and swept out as much as I could. He really needs a good vacuuming too as he’s full of dust. I’ll bet that he’ll go 5mph faster when I’ve done all that.

While I was out there, I noticed something quite amusing. Cujo the Killer Cat lived up to her name and brought back a live mouse to the front of the house. She dropped it off in front of Gilligan, the young long-haired cat, and was teaching him how to hunt it.

He performed a few practice pounces on it but after a while he lost interest. Cujo couldn’t incite him to continue so in the end she picked up the mouse and wandered off into a quiet corner to deal with it herself.

However I’m not sure what had happened because back in here I crashed out – and for all of three hours too. I must have been completely exhausted after all of my efforts for the last couple of days.

Tea tonight was more of my Chinese meal from yesterday and then I spent a good while chatting to Rachel. Consequently I’m late going to bed.

There’s plenty to do tomorrow so I need a good night’s sleep. That is, unless Cujo the Killer Cat comes to join me tonight.

Wednesday 12th October 2022 – JUST FOR A CHANGE …

… I had one of the best sleeps that I have had for a long, long time. So much so that there was absolutely nothing at all on the dictaphone. I must have been really deep in the arms of Morpheus.

In fact, I was in bed quite early too. I fell asleep while I was listening to the radio but I must have awoken at some point to switch it off because the laptop was off when the alarm went off.

There was no time to hang around this morning. For a start, I had to clear off a huge pile of ice from Strider’s windscreen. We’re in the grip of autumn here with sub-zero temperature through the night and cloud-free crystalline skies.

But when I could see where I was going, I set off for Woodstock.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that the Saint John River isn’t far from here. It runs in a deep valley and early in the morning at this time of year there’s a hanging cloud in the valley, slowly rising up.

Up here we’re well above the cloud but Woodstock is deep in the valley and I couldn’t even see my hand in front of my face. At one point I drove through a red traffic light that I couldn’t see was there

Having fuelled up, I went to pick up my passenger and we set off for the hospital at Fredericton, about 110 kilometres away.

Following the river valley on the Trans-Canada Highway, we were sometimes in a fogbank, sometimes above it. But by the time that we arrived in Fredericton the fog had cleared away.

My passenger alighted at the hospital and I went to Tim Horton’s for a coffee and bagel – my first visit to a “Timmy’s” for three years – and where the guy at the counter got my order completely wrong.

Next stop was at Bulk Barn. People from Crewe will remember the “Weigh and Save”, where produce was displayed in barrels and you bagged and weighed as much as you wanted of it. It was an excellent shop but Bulk Barn will knock it for 6.

And I had some really good luck there. They had the artificial rum and brandy essence that you can’t buy in France so I bought a few bottles. Now I can make my Christmas cake and Christmas pudding with the proper ingredients

Value Village was next. They don’t have charity shops in Canada as they do in the UK. They all club together and have just one outlet in a town and the price labels are colour-coded so that you know which organisation is which. I bought a couple of books and a couple of CDs to add to the collection and I would have bought more but like most charity shops these days, their prices are somewhat exaggerated.

My passenger wasn’t ready yet so I loitered around in a Sobey’s until she texted that she was ready so I went to pick her up.

We stopped half-way home for coffee and toast and then went back to Woodstock the pretty way where I dropped her at home and she gave me some vegetables for Rachel.

My next port of call was the Scotia Bank at Florenceville to make “certain arrangements” and then went on to the mill.

Just before I left Canada in 2019 I ordered a chip for Strider to curb his enthusiasm and improve the fuel consumption. Darren had fitted it when it finally arrived and I have to say that the fuel consumption has improved slightly and the racing spirit had evaporated somewhat, which is good news for me. Strider has an old-type 6-cylinger long-stroke engine and it’s not made for high revs in low gear. It’s much more comfortable using his torque to pull him along.

After much discussion we all decided on a take-away from the Chinese restaurant in Florenceville so I drove down there to pick it up. I’m not a big fan of Chinese, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, and this was nothing special. But I’m going to have to like it because there’s enough for several days.

So now I’m off to bed. There’s nothing to do tomorrow so I’m going to have to find a shipper for this sunroof and book myself a hotel back in Montreal for when I’m on my way home. It’s only a short stay this time, nothing like the usual three months, so I need to organise myself so much better and so much quicker.

As if I could do something like that.

Tuesday 11th October 2022 – THE CAT SAT …

… on the mat, as the old saying goes.

But this morning, she didn’t. As I found out when I went to sit on the chair to take part in my Welsh lesson.

Of course, at 05:55 it’s quite dark and you can’t see all that much. And as I’m half asleep anyway and my eyes aren’t focusing properly after another miserable night, seeing a black cat on a dark blue chair is not easy.

However, she soon let me know that she was there. Poor Cujo, the Killer Cat.

The Welsh lesson itself was quite awful. I wasn’t in the mood, I was tired, I was having to juggle computer screens around and at one point my microphone stopped working. I was really glad when the lesson ground to a halt.

cujo the killer cat centreville new brunswick Canada Eric Hall photo 11th October 2022Cujo the Killer Cat had forgiven me for my faux pas earlier because during the first part of the lesson she was on my knee.

She cleared off at some point but as soon as the lesson ended she came back again. For an hour or so while I was dozing after the lesson I didn’t mind but when I wanted to work she just sat on the laptop on my knees and that was that.

No chance whatever of actually doing any work this morning so I relaxed instead.

Later on, I went for a shower and a clothes-washing session, and having rounded up all of the felines, I hung up my clothes in the wind. Then Strider, STRAWBERRY MOOSE and I headed for Woodstock.

And by the time we got … errr … etc. etc.

This sunroof is enormous. It only just fits into the back of Strider. It’s heavy too and sending it back to Europe is going to be astronomical. Buying it hit the limit on my bank card so that’s grounded out right now and I had to use my European card for the balance.

It was a good job that I had some cash on me for my purchases at Sobey’s afterwards.

From there I drove to Florenceville to go to the bank to sort out my card, but I wonder is any of the regular readers of this rubbish would recall which day of the week is the one when the Scotia Bank closes early?

Round to the mill in Centreville to see what was happening there but, falling asleep, I ended up going back home for a coffee and a doze.

There was time before tea to transcribe the dictaphone notes from last night. I had joined some kind of internet chat room but the nickname that I had chosen, I didn’t really want to advertise so I only published it as a form of coded URL so that only a certain few people would be able to know the URL and know that it was me but that’s really all that I remember of this at the moment

I should mention somewhere that Hannah and Jake were involved in this but I can’t remember how or why.

But I remember a bit more about that dream now. We were having a party somewhere in North America. I’d had a friend on the internet, a girl whom I knew. They wee talking about travelling so I said that if ever they were to find themselves in the UK they can come to Crewe and I’d be quite happy to put them up, cook a meal, that sort of thing. She said that that wouldn’t be possible because she and her partner were lesbians. The authorities would look very dimly on the idea of a pair of lesbians travelling with a very young girl and sharing accommodation with her, that kind of thing. They needed to be very careful about it which I thought was ridiculous.

Tea was a burger with baked potatoes and the left-over beans from yesterday’s brunch. I had a long chat with Darren and when Rachel came home we had a good chat too.

But right now I’m off to bed. It’s early but I’m exhausted and I have a long day tomorrow. I need to be on form, and I also need to avoid sitting on any cats. If they want to sit on me, that’s fine. But not the other way round.

Thursday 6th October 2022 – IT WASN’T QUITE …

… the Sleep of the Dead that I was expecting last night. According to the dictaphone I’d been on a few travels during the night – a couple of which seemed to go on for ever.

In fact I was awake fairly early too but I waited until Rachel had gone to work before leaving the bed. I don’t want to get in her way while she’s busy sorting herself out.

After the medication I had a listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night. I started out by going to a radio meeting. There had just been one and everyone was saying how the manager and one of the guys on this meeting were really all for Sicily and doing everything they can to promote the idea of Sicily chucking our radio shows. I had to get myself ready to go. The kitchen where we were living was in a real state and I couldn’t find anything. The other guy who was interested in Sicily came in to talk to me. He talked about the radio and said “your programme goes on rain or shine with no problems come what may. You’ll carry on for ever. One day you’ll be taken round by loads of bands, everything whereas ours is a bit of a different proposition. We carried on and then he said something about “I’d better go for my breakfast otherwise I’d be late for this meeting. I turned around to find the bread, then I had to hunt around for the kettle that was hidden behind a pile of broccoli or something like that but there was that much stuff on the kitchen worktop that you would never imagine. Then I started to prepare everything to go to this meeting

Later on I’d been invited to attend a conference. I thought that I’d go along. It involved staying away from home for a week. I went and we all met at an airport somewhere. We’d flown in. It looked rather like Brussels. The first thing that I remember was someone’s daughter who was about 6 or 7 , an extremely rude girl to the point as if she was autistic. She was telling everyone basically the truth with no social niceties or anything, something that many people found unsettling. We all boarded a bus, about a dozen of us. Then it set off. After a while the guy in charge of this bus said that there had been a mistake and he was sorry about it but we’re all going to have to go straight here. I didn’t really understand what was happening. When we came to alight there was a huge scramble for the door. I was separated from my rucksack and had to fight my way to reach it. I thought that this doesn’t sound very nice if this is how these people are behaving. I’m not looking forward to spending any time with them. We all alighted and someone began to ask me questions like “how long do you have to wait after applying before you can join?”, all this sort of thing and I really didn’t have a clue what they were asking. I wondered whether I’d ended up being invited by mistake. It all sounded very much like a religious sect to me. Off we went and they began to tell us what we could and couldn’t do during this convention. Leaving the convention area was one thing. We weren’t allowed to do that. We couldn’t go for walks on our own etc. I was starting to have a really bad feeling about this. Then they served us a meal and all the food tasted funny. It suddenly occurred to me that what they were doing with the food was that they were drugging it so you’d develop some kind of dependency on whatever it was that they were putting in so that you’d be tied to these people for quite some time as they would be the only source of whatever they put into your meal. I had the feeling that this would be one of those high-powered sales and selling team conventions with the aim of selling all the product that they had in stock and pushing, presumably at a high price for something that’s not necessary. Whatever money you made you’d be spending with them to buy the drugs that would keep you going. I immediately started to feel quite uncomfortable about this.

Then we had a kind-of Paul Temple-like episode. I was sitting quietly in an office and two guys walked in. One of them said “Am I your new Lord. I’m Lord so-and-so”. I replied “I’ve no idea what you are talking about”. He dropped a few forms on my desk. One was dated 1905 and the other some other time basically to the effect that he had assumed ownership of the premises. I thought that that was most unlikely. I asked him what made him think that he was the Lord. He shouted and some big guy came in and began to rough me up. The rounded me up and rounded up the woman who was the wife of the owner who was probably something like Paul Temple. They ushered us out, a group of us. We headed down the street. There was a friendly dog that I knew which was friendly to me but quite a vicious animal to a lot of other people. We walked past and I called the dog over in its garden. It saw these other people and started to menace them although it was behind a fence. They all moved off hurriedly. At some point Paul Temple caught up with us. There was a huge fight which ended with the two of us overpowering these other guys. We started to walk them back to our premises. On the way we came past this dog so we simply released the dog. It grabbed hold of one of these guys and dragged him off. There were things like man-eating turtles, thins kind of thing in a mud-bath around the corner. We took the people round there and these turtles began to take an extreme amount of interest in them. You could see that there was going to be some really cruel and wicked retribution going on her on our part as we let all these wierd and wild animals loose on the people who had caused all this trouble.

There was also something on the dictaphone from the previous night too so I dealt with that and then updated yesterday’s entry.

There wasn’t much that i could do for the rest of the day. I was waiting for Rosemary to call me back with the details of the sunroof for this vehicle so that I could drive down to Woodstock to order its replacement but there was no call.

Consequently, when it was too late now to go anywhere I went outside and began to perform an inventory of what there is in Strider and to throw out the rubbish I didn’t go very far though because I couldn’t find the key for the truck cap I did what I could in the cab but even so there is still plenty that needs to be done I can do that tomorrow

But he’ll need more than a good clean inside. He’s full of dirt and gravel so I don’t know where he’s been but he’s filthy.

Tea tonight was vegan meatballs and home fries (thick-cut chips) cooked in Rachel’s air fryer. She has one of them too but regrettably she’s not explored the full range of functions so she couldn’t give me any tips.

So right now I’m going to bed. There’s a lot to do tomorrow. For a start, buying this sunroof might be something but I have to arrange to send it to France by freight and that’s not going to be very easy, is it?

Wednesday 5th October 2022 – STRAWBERRY MOOSE AND I …

strider centreville new brunswick Canada Eric Hall photo October 2022… took Strider out for a run this afternoon.

It’s been three years since we last went out together and it really felt good to be back behind Strider’s wheel. It took a while to remember how everything worked and to stop trying to change gear with the non-existent floor-mounted gear level (Strider is an automatic with column change).

But I’ll tell you something for nothing, and that is driving through the Maritime Canada October sunshine with the window wide open, all of this depression and miserable thoughts simply blew away in the wind and I felt so much better – better in fact than I’ve felt for years.

It’s something that I’ve noticed on previous occasions. There’s something about the air in North America that is different from Europe and makes me feel much more dynamic. Maybe this explains how come the entrepreneurial spirit in North America is so much more developed.

It started at some time during the night. There’s some stuff on the dictaphone (that I have forgotten to transcribe) but from earlier in the night. Once I’d gone into a deep sleep I must have stayed there without moving at all until I awoke with a start at about 08:00.

Once Rachel had gone to work I left the bed and went for a shower and to wash my clothes. That felt so very much better too. And then I had some work to do this morning.

Round about lunchtime I decided to go out for a drive. No fuel in Strider so first port of call was the petrol station down the road. There’s a family of recent British immigrants with exactly the same name as Darren and who live down the road. They have bought the Convenience Store, café and petrol station down the road so I fuelled up there and we had quite a lengthy chat about this and that.

From there we drove off down the road and we’ll need a bigger vehicle because by the time we got to Woodstock we were half a million strong.

At the Ford garage we discussed the question of the sunroof for this Ford Flex in France. Once we’d managed to identify the vehicle from its VIN (not easy when it’s written in the Cyrillic alphabet) we could proceed, only to find out that the vehicle is fitted with more than one sunroof. I had to send a message back to France to make further enquiries.

This is going to take longer than I thought.

Next stop was Sobey’s. Rachel had given me a list of shopping and I added quite a few things onto it. I’ll be here for a while and I have to pay my way. But with no Common Agricultural Policy, food prices here are much more expensive than you might think. For example, here in the breadbasket of the World, the baguette that costs me €0.35 in a French supermarket costs me $2.49

williamstown lake lakeville new brunswick Canada Eric Hall photo 5th October 2022At the little settlement of Lakeville in between Woodstock and Centreville there is, as you might expect, a lake. And it’s quite a beautiful one too.

It was lucky that we had stopped off for groceries just now because I was starving. It was quite late in the afternoon and I”d had nothing whatever to eat since breakfast.

At Sobey’s I’d stocked up with a baguette, some vegan cheese and some bits and pieces of other stuff too and the setting at the lakeside made quite a nice place to stop for a quick meal to keep me going until teatime

strawberry moose river lakeville new brunswick Canada Eric Hall photo 5th October 2022That’s the road bridge down ther,e overwhich I’ve just driven. Woodstock is down there in that direction, towards the south.

As you can see though, I am not alone on my adventures today. Strawberry Moose has decided to accompany me on my way round.

He’s quite a seasoned traveller of course, having been halfway around the world either with me, other people or on one famous occasion, packed inside a cardboard box and carefully sealed in, just in case he decided to make good his escape, seeing as there was no-one to accompany him and to keep an eye on him to make sure that he doesn’t get into any mischief

strawberry moose pirate ship lakeville new brunswick Canada Eric Hall photo 5th October 2022And “getting into mischief” on the High Seas is nothing unusual for him either.

Show him a ship and he’ll go his best to hi-jack it, round up a selected crew from the passers-by on the quayside, and set out to roam the oceans looking for booty from the treasure ships that set out from the Spanish Main to sail back to the Old World.

Piracy is nothing new for Strawberry Moose, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall. Back in 2017 when we were in the Carolinas he also COMMANDEERED A SHIP nad caused mayhem in the Graveyard of the Atlantic.

strawberry moose geodesic framework lakeville new brunswick Canada Eric Hall photo 5th October 2022Actually, he didn’t have all that much luck out on the lake at Lakeville, which is no surprise.

Instead, he went for a wander around to try out all of the other attractions, such as the geodesic climbing fraùe . With nothing at the top of the frame, he wasn’t actually climbing for any good purpose. he was merely doing it for some good, old, honest fun.

That’s probably what would make him something of a social climber, I suppose, except that he was doing it on his own without any companion.

strawberry moose kiddy's slide lakeville new brunswick Canada Eric Hall photo 5th October 2022So what else was there on this kiddies’ playground with which he could amuse himself?

Having climbed up to the top of the geodesic frame then the only way from there is downwards and here at the back of the pirate ship is the emergency exit, which is to be used, I suppose, if you ever run into trouble with a maritime patrol while you are out and about.

It’s time for us to return to my niece’s and I suppose that that counts as an emergency as much as anything else , so here we come!

It was a late tea tonight (so it was just as well that I’d had some bread and cheese earlier) followed by another lengthy chat and now I’m crawling off to bed. No time to transcribe the dictaphone notes so I did that the following day. I’d been extremely busy all day and it hadn’t stopped. It ended up being a meal for some football players. They had all been eating. Someone had ordered a curry but hadn’t actually eaten it. I suggested that I could have the curry. That would do me nicely and save on waste. I’d have something to eat as well. Someone went off and collected a plate etc. I saw them scraping the rice, potatoes and curry onto a plate. Next thing I saw was that they were carrying a mini-baguette with them but I didn’t see them after that. I wondered where on earth they had gone with the meal. Had they actually decided to eat it themselves because I wanted it? I felt extremely disappointed about that.

So right now I intend to sleep the Sleep of the Dead.

Wednesday 14th September 2022 – PECCAVI WASN’T BACK …

peccavi le styx chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022… in the water for very long, was she?

A couple of days ago we sw the portable boat lift hovering around her like a bird of prey, and yesterday she had gone.

But this afternoon as I wandered around the headland on my walk, I noticed that she’s back in the cradle of the portable boat lift, either looking for a berth or else having ha da quick touching up and waiting to be lowered back down again when the tide comes in later this afternoon..

We’ll have to wait until tomorrow to find out what’s happened to her. But whatever is going on, it was rather a short stay in the water.

Just for a change my stay in bed last night wasn’t all that short. I was (for once) actually in bed at something like a reasonable time and it’s been a while since that’s happened.

Quite a few little voyages during the night too. I can’t remember who I was with now but I was at a fishing port somewhere. I had a daughter who lived here. My partner asked me about her so I made a couple of excuses and said that she’s just been sent to bed because she’s misbehaved. Just as I was saying that, round the corner she came along wiht the nurse or nanny who looked after her. I thought “that’s my story blown, isn’t it?”. I said to her “hello. What are you doing?”. She replied that she had indeed been sent to bed but for a different reason to the one that I just gave. I asked her if she wants to see me when I’m here, she obviously has to be on her best behaviour because if she keeps on being sent to bed she won’t be able to see me at all. The two of us, my friend and the child’s nurse or nanny, we had a little chat together about everything.

And later, Marianne and I were in the Metro or Underground on our way to a theatre to watch a play or a cinema. We were passing through different Underground stations talking about groups whom we’d seen performing at concert halls nearby. As we closed to our destination Marianne said suddenly that she didn’t have her handbag with her. She’d left it at one of our stops. She had to leap off the train and go back. I carried on and got off at our stop and took up a place where I could watch the train arrive. It wasn’t many minutes afterwards when she arrived, saying that she didn’t have her bag, didn’t have her purse etc. I looked a bit suspicious about everything. She came up with some small change to leave the Underground etc. We went over there and I bought the tickets to go in, all the drinks, sweets etc. We decided that we’d go somewhere else but I can’t remember now where that somewhere else was.

Finally I was unloading a load of Rowntrees products from Strider when I awoke. I thought that he was saying that that company would haul anything if the price was right. They had a couple of large containers with their food on board that was destined for Taylor’s to share out at Christmas. The rest of it was shop deliveries. Even though it was all mis-sorted all over the place it had to be delivered to individual shops. We were going on about our relationship with the shop, about how sometimes it was very good, sometimes it was very bad depending on the particular issues. Before that I’d been somewhere or other from town. We’d been wandering around and there had been this 6-cylinder Harley Davidson parked up at the side of this building. It had been there for a while. Everyone would come to look at it, Harley Davidson aficionados from all over the place. One day a Harley Davidson club turned up to see it and decided that they would take some of us for a ride so somehow they managed to disconnect the lock on it. Someone else bought a trailer of the type that this Harley Davidson would pull when it was working. I was unlucky enough that I had a lift on a traditional Harley. They went north out of Crewe through the lanes. It was a wild experience. He was playing an LP of A NEIGHBOUR OF MINE like THE TALE OF SIR ROBIN but it was the tale of the guy who was actually driving the motorbike and I can’t remember now his name.

For the benefit of any new reader, anyone who knows anything about LORD OF THE RINGS will know exactly what make and model of vehicle Strider is. He’s on my mind at the moment because he’s just been for his safety inspection in Canada and I’m told that he needs some welding. That’s bad news of course but he is 14 years old and is left outside during the Canadian winters, so it’s not a surprise.

It’s high time that I made up my mind about what to do with him.

Having dealt with all of that then most of the rest of the day has been spent with dealing with my Jersey photos. I’ve not done too many of those because most of the time has been spent researching.

And most of that time was trying to find out when a couple of buildings were erecting. It’s always puzzled me that there’s much more information available about older buildings than there is about newer ones

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022There were several breaks during the day of course, the afternoon walk being one of them.

As usual I went over to the wall at the end of the car park to see what was going on down on the beach. And today, it was a case of playing “spot the human being”. I certainly couldn’t see one in this photo.

Not that that’s really surprising. The weather has turned yet again and the temperature has dropped. It’s quite cool there and pretty much overcast. Winter won’t be long in a-coming, I reckon.

zodiac baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022Looking out to sea was pretty much a waste of time this afternoon as well.

There was quite a sea mist and you couldn’t see the Ile de Chausey this afternoon. I’d almost given up hope of seeing anything out at sea when this zodiac came into view from around the headland. So at least that was something.

There was a guy on board who had in his possession a couple of fishing rods. So there’s no surprise as to where he’ll be going.

However I’m more concerned as to where he’s come from because in the kind of range in which a zodiac travels safely, there’s no port with a ramp into the water right now. It’s only people like us who’ll travel 30 miles in open water on a zodiac trying to find our ship.

But be all that as it may, about 30 seconds after this zodiac came by, another one came around the headland. It looks as if there’s quite a lot going on as far as they are concerned.

lobster pot marker pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022A little further on, I came across another marker buoy with a flag.

Having seen quite a few of these, I’m even more convinced that they mark the position of lobster pots that have been dropped overboard in the hope of making a catch.

And just in case I hadn’t seen enough of them already, there were several all dotted along the coast here.

They were all flying the same colour of flag so that seems to be pretty conclusive that the same flag belongs to the same owner, and a different flag belongs to a different owner.

cabanon vauban man on bench pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022With not too many people out and about this afternoon I wasn’t expecting to see anyone down at the bench at the cabanon vauban.

Nevertheless there were two people down there this afternoon. One of them went and hid out of sight behind the cabin when they saw me coming, such has my fame spread these days. But the other person took no notice so he fitted in quite nicely to my photo.

One or two people down on the lower path too but they didn’t hang around waiting for the bench to clear so that they could take their turn at sitting down.

And neither did I hang around. I cleared off down the path on the other side of the headland towards the port.

pierre de jade chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022And plenty of excitement today in the chantier naval.

We’ve seen Peccavi back in town, but it looked very much as if we had yet another trawler in there that wasn’t in there yesterday.

To be on the safe side I took a photo of it with the aim of examining it back at base but when I did so, it turned out to be Pierre de Jade who was in there yesterday.

They must really be cracking on with that because they have already painted out her name with some undercoating. And with all of the workmen swarming all over her in contrast to how the work is progressing on the other boats, it looks as if they have a pressing engagement for her.

shtandart marite chausiaise port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022Meanwhile down at the far end of the inner harbour it looks as if we have a full house.

Not only is Marité there but it seems that Shtandart is back in town as well, tied up in her usual place. So what’s the story with her then? For how long is she staying?

Chausiaise is down there too in the loading bay underneath the crane. Now that things are quietening down at the end of the summer, maybe she’s thinking about going out with another load to the Channel Islands.

Meanwhile what I am thinking about is going home for a coffee. I’m really struggling, going round my circuit and I certainly can’t do it in 15 minutes as I used to. Fings ain’t looking so good.

For a while I carried on with my photos and later on ended up having a chat with my neighbour. This things isn’t happening this weekend, as I said, but we were talking about a few more opportunities. However, they are increasingly unlikely from my point of view.

Tea tonight was another delicious, magnificent curry and then Rosemary rang so we had another one of our marathon chats. Hence I’m running rather late tonight yet again. There’s no end to it.

Tomorrow I’ll be carrying on with my photos from Jersey. At least I’m ashore now having a coffee – about a quarter of the way through the images. It’s going to take another age to finish it, and then I can restart on all of the other hundreds of outstanding days when there was so much to do that is as yet undone.

It never ends, does it?

Monday 12th September 2022 – I’VE HAD ANOTHER …

boats lighthouse ile de chausey baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022… day where I’ve done rather more than I would otherwise usually do.

So while you admire the small boats coming back from the north end of the Ile de Chausey. I can tell you that I was leaping out of bed with alacrity this morning at 06:00 this morning as soon as the alarm went off.

And that’s not quite like me these days, is it? But there it was, and here I am.

After the medication this morning, I came back in here to check the mails and messages from over the weekend. And to my surprise, there weren’t all that many. I don’t think that anyone loves me any more.

belle france ferry terminal port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022So while Belle france sits quietly in the silt over at the ferry terminal, I’m busy making a start on the radio programme that I’ll be preparing for this week.

This morning it was ready, up and running at 11:10 this morning. And it would have been done much quicker had I not had so much editing to do.

The fact is that this is something special. I’ve had something quite remarkable fall into my possession. A rock group from upstate New York were in the throes of recording an album back in 1971 when they split up. The recoding was never finished and the tapes were lost.

Anyway, to cut a long story short … “hooray” – ed … some kind of copy of the tape has come into my possession.

It seems to me that when this programme hits the airwaves in a few months, it will be the first time ever that a track from this group has been broadcast. And I can’t simply dismiss that in 800 characters.

Furthermore something else has come into my hands where the drummer was the guy who stood in for Keith Moon during a recording session of a Who album. and that’s not something to gloss over lightly either.

While I was listening to it and to the one that I’m sending off for broadcast this week, I was sorting out a few things around here and dealing with a few photos

After the lunchtime fruit I had to organise the payment of my Canadian motor insurance. Although I haven’t driven Strider since 2019 I have to keep the insurance going. It’s no longer possible for foreigners to have an insurance with a non-Canadian or non-USA driving licence but I’m a “legacy” case so I can keep mine up. But if I let it lapse then I’m snookered too.

It’s quite complicated to do it but it has to be done. Mind you, it’s not so complicated as actually having to drive down to the insurance company in Saint John’s to renew it.

It led to quite a chat with my niece as well. We haven’t really spoken for a while so there was a lot to say.

Having done that, I had other things to do. There’s something happening around here at the weekend and if I play my cards correctly I could become involved in it.

It will involve a lot of work and preparation so having sent out an enquiry (to which I have yet to receive a reply) I made a start on organising myself, just in case.

caravanettes mobile homes place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022This took me up to the time that I would usually go out for my afternoon walk.

And I didn’t go far at all before I came to a grinding halt. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that back in the summer I mentioned that once the holidaymakers go back, we’ll be swamped with the old retirees in their mobile homes and caravanettes.

By the looks of things, I’m not wrong either. But then again I knew that. It ws pretty-much odds-on.

That isn’t even a parking spot for mobile homes. There’s a sign to say that they are prohibited. There is a camping ground about 200 metres down the road but it’s probably full right now.

The purpose of the car park is primarily for parking for the locals who live in the walled town where parking is almost impossible. But let’s not go letting rules, regulations and the rights of the local residents stand in the way of a selfish tourist.

So having had my daily moan quite early, I headed off as usual I went over to the wall at the end of the car park to see what was happening there.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022And sure enough, there were crowds of people down there today. It really was a nice day so it’s not a surprise.

You can’t see too many people in this photo because the tide is quite a way out so there was plenty of beach on which they could spread themselves about.

No-one quite brave enough to take to the waters though. I suppose that the temperature of the sea is dropping now after the bad weather that we had last week and that’ll keep anyone out of the water.

Having seen the beach and the people thereupon, I had a look around out at sea to see what was going on there.

trafalgar baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022You’ve seen what was going on right out by the Ile de Chausey but I was also interested in a trawler that I could see out at the entrance to the Baie de Mont St Michel.

At this kind of distance it’s not possible to identify it with any certainly but it’s white with a blue stripe or two and edged in pink. Those are the colours of Trafalgar, as we saw when she was in the chantier naval just now.

This is another unusual place in which to find a trawler but as we have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … since the disruption to the usual fishing arrangements here in the bay we’ve seen the trawler owners trying out all kinds of unusual and different fishing grounds

peche à pied pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022Fighting my way through the crowds I ended up down at the end of the headland.

One thing that I noticed this afternoon was the crowds of people out there at the pèche-à-pied with the tide being so far out right now. This person here was one of several dozens scratching around on the rocks.

And I know the secret of the pèche-à-pied. There’s what they call a “tidal coefficient” – a number that indicates the difference between the high tides and the low tides. The higher the number, the greater the difference between the tides.

And when it’s greater than 100, that’s when the pèche-à-pied is authorised. Today, it’s 101.5

cabanon vauban people on bench pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022And as for whatever was going on out at sea or on the rocks, thee was quite a crowd of people down there watching it.

There were dozens of people milling around down at the end of the headland and on the lower path. Some of those gravitated down to the bench by the cabanon vauban where they could relax and admire the view. They were actually looking quite romantic down there.

A couple of others were standing there presumably awaiting their turn to take a seat. But today, there was no-one hiding in the bushes or sunbathing over the edge as we saw the other day.

From here I set off down the path on the other side of the headland towards the port.

F-GBAI Robin DR 400-140B baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022And just then I was overflown by a light aeroplane on its way north.

It was too far out to identify it but back here I was able to enlarge and enhance the photo. It’s actually an old friend of ours, F-GBAI.

She’s a Robin DR 400-140B that belongs to the local aero club. She appeared on the radar at 16:08 flying out to the Ile de Chausey and having done a lap around, went down to the Mont St Michel and back up again where she disappeared off the radar in the vicinity of the airfield.

My photo was taken at 16:12 (adjusted) so this flight plan doesn’t really correspond with my photo. Usually we coincide pretty much.

le poulbot pescadore peccavi briscard chant des sirenes massabielle le styx chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022And while there is no change to day in occupancy of the chantier naval, there looks as if there is something about to happen.

The portable boat lift has left its usual parking place over the drop into the water and is now hovering around over the top of Peccavi. It looks as if she’s about to go back into the water as soon as the tide comes in.

Over at the ferry terminal, Belle France was quietly sleeping in the silt, as you saw a little earlier. She’s presumably waiting for the tide to come in when she can go back out to rescue the day trippers who might be stranded over there right now.

cranes port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that a couple of months ago they refurbished the crane that lives over on the far side of the harbour.

Right now though they have brought the crane over into the loading bay and the other one has now been pushed over into the back corner.

This could mean one of two things – either they are going to refurbish the other one or else they are going to withdraw it and replace it with one that will handle the freight that the owners of Southern Liner want to transport.

This is something else on which I will have to keep my eye in the future.

Back here I had a nice cold drink and then had a listen to the dictaphone to see what I’d been up to during the night. We had another dream about cars last night. I can’t remember how it started but I remember leaving work and walking outside. My car was the VANDEN PLAS 1300. I went to go into it ans switched on the radio to say that I was going home. There was no tax on it and no MoT on it, one of the many vehicles that I had with no tax and MoT (this is becoming a regular theme, isn’t it?). I remember being annoyed because I never seemed to have the time where I could take one of my vehicles, go right underneath it and do what needed doing and then have it taxed and MoTed. I wondered how long I could go before I was going to be caught. I ended up going back down Gresty Road. This time I was on an electric scooter. I reached the end and turned left. For some reason I had a premonition that something was going to pull out in front of me at Edleston Road top and hit me, or I’d hit it. The police would come along and that’s when I would find out all about having not tax and no MoT.
For the benefit of non-British readers, of whom there are more than just a few, every vehicle on UK roads needs an insurance certificate. It it’s over 3 years old and not a collector’s vehicle it needs a Ministry of Transport safety check every year and on passing the test it’s issued with a Ministry of Transport (MoT) Safety Certificate. Armed with current Insurance and MoT Certificates you can then go to the Post Office and on production of those valid documents you can buy a Road Tax certificate to display in your windscreen. That’s how it used to be anyway when I remember it. It’s all automated these days and done on line.

This was another car dream similar to the first one. I left home and there was no real car for me so I got into a Berkeley 2-wheeler type of thing, again with no insurance, tax or MoT and wishing that we had the time to look at one of my vehicles and have it registered properly. But this is always the thing when you’re spending all this time looking after these kids that you never have time to do anything of your own and everything else falls obviously into arrears.

This story came up with one of my Germany friends about a guy who had joined out chat room group but had been ejected. He said that he had been grouped with 2 particular people. That meant that it was they who had something to do with his ejection but she couldn’t understand why. I replied “no, that’s not correct. he was grouped with me and of course I’m a Moderator. I was the one who ejected him”. She wanted to know why and I replied that it was because of his posts. She said that surely his posts about cups of tea and things weren’t offensive. I replied that that wasn’t what he was writing at all. She was then wondering whether or not we were talking about the same person. I knew exactly whom I was talking about and presumably so did she but she was wondering whether we were talking about the same one

Tea tonight was a stuffed pepper and it was really nice too. I think that I have this off to a … errr … tea now. Plenty of stuffing left so it’s a taco roll tomorrow. That’ll be quite powerful, having marinaded in the spicy sauce for 24 hours.

Tomorrow our Welsh class is starting again so I need to be on form. That calls for an early night and a good sleep. So what’s the betting that something will come along to interrupt me?