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Friday 9th September 2022 – REGULAR READERS …

… of this rubbish will recall that yesterday I mentioned that it seemed as if Summer is over now for the rest of the year.

This morning, after I awoke, I went and closed the window in the living room – the first time that it’s been closed since my return from Leuven in August.

And the only reason that I closed it then was because I didn’t want to come back home and find that a family of seagulls had taken up residence.

le coelacanthe la grande ancre ile de chausey baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022And so as Le Coelacanthe and Le Grande Ancre struggle through the storm towards the harbour, I’m struggling to heave myself out of my stinking pit.

And to my surprise it was a little easier today than it has been of late. Not that I wasn’t tired, just that I had rather more resolution than I’ve had in the past and where that came from I’ve really no idea.

Having had the medication this morning, I had a rather slow, desultory session of transcribing the dictaphone notes. And that was quite confusing as it seems that somehow I’ve managed to miss recording a dream somewhere.

I was heading off somewhere and who should come bouncing down the road but Zero? We started to talk and she told me about how things were at home. She was telling me that amongst other things she really wasn’t getting on well with her father. All he was doing was staying at home moaning about the money, the rent, about prices and his wife going out all the time amongst everything else. She was pretty much fed up of it. She started to tell me all kinds of things like that. She was standing really close to me, probably no more than half an inch or so. We set off to walk into Crewe and ended up at Edleston Road near the old NUR club. That was when the dream ended which was a shame and I tried my very very best not to let it finish.

And then I was at the River Neva at Leningrad. It was really, really wide but it was basically some kind of flood plain that had flooded which was so wide and the river itself was fairly narrow. I was waiting there trying to cross but there was no way of crossing so it looked as if I was going to have to swim. A young Russian girl came along and asked me in English if she could come with me. I replied “sure” and I jumped in. I found an old light deal table and was pushing that in front of me. She asked me why so I told her “this river is enormous and I’m going to have to stop for a break halfway through. If my feet can’t hit the floor I need something on which to sit”. In the end we reached the dyke and set off to walk down the dyke across the river into town. She was talking to me about the city and how no-one has any money any more, how it’s sad etc. Of course I’d heard all these stories before. I began to wonder to myself what it is that she’s doing. Why would she want to be with me? Why is she being so nice to me etc?”. There had to be something going on here that is beyond my comprehension for the moment.

To continue my dream about my father (and which dream was that?) the biscuit rolled off itself down South Street past “Up The Junction” and this girl and I were forced to run after it and try to catch it before it hit the main road.

This final part was rather embarrassing last night. I went to stay at a guest house where I usually stay, somewhere round the Wardle/Barbridge area. On my way I popped into a house to see the people and the husband of this guest house was there. We chatted away but in the end I decided that I’d have to leave. But I completely forgot to ask him if he had a room free. It didn’t enter into my mind. I drove round to that house and went in. There was only a young girl there making herself some food. I started to assemble the bed in the spare room as I would normally do. She came in, looked at me and said “I think that you’re going to get yourself in trouble”. I asked why and she replied “you’ve not told anyone that you’re coming, have you?”. It suddenly occurred to me that I hadn’t, and here I was making myself comfortable in someone’s room. I had to wait for the landlady to come back but she didn’t come back. Lunch was served and they even managed to find me some food even though I wasn’t expected. I settled down for a long wait until the landlady came in. It was ever so embarrassing having gone and assumed for myself that I could stay and organised a room in which I wanted to sleep without asking a single person.

So Zero made an appearance last night. And how nice that was to see a familiar face. She should appear more often. And the tales that she was telling me last night were really quite true as well. The times that she had in real life confided in me all kinds of stories of things that happened at home.

By the way, that wasn’t all that went on during the night, the missing dream notwithstanding. But honestly you wouldn’t thank me for posting the rest, especially if you’re eating your meal right now.

le coelacanthe baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022While you are looking at another photo of em>Le Coelacanthe, I was off to finish off the tidying up in the living room.

That was quite a battle too but now it actually looks as if someone lives here. It’s not been as clean or looking as nice as this for quite some considerable time. Just one or two bits to finish off but after all of that effort I ran out of steam and that’s hardly a surprise. I was glad to sit down again.

After the fruit I sat down and bashed away at the trip to Jersey. I’ve still not set foot ashore but I’ve managed now to complete over 20% of the photos that need doing. It’s a slow process but it’ll be good when it’s finished.

At least, I hope that it will.

It does remind me of the story about the destroyer that was having no end of difficulty manoeuvring during a fleet exercise in World War II.
“What on earth do you think you are you doing?” asked the exasperated admiral.
“Learning a lot” was the reply.

And I’m certainly learning a lot.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022Still, there’s a time for fishing and a time for mending the nets. Right now it’s “walkies” … “staggeries, more like” – ed.

As usual I staggered across to the wall at the end of the car park to see what was happening down on the beach. and with it now being autumn in all but name I wasn’t expecting to see much.

There were a few people down there this afternoon but no-one was sunbathing. I was in my shirt sleeves but they were dressed for colder weather. And in a few weeks, if not sooner, I’ll be doing the same thing.

tractor trailer fish processing plant port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022Having satisfied myself with events on this side of the headland I went across the road to the other side.

The first thing that I noticed was the tractor and its trailer on the ramp underneath the fish processing plant. That would seem to indicate that the little Les Bouchots de Chausey is on her way into port.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we’ve seen the trailer loaded up to the sky with crates of shellfish. And one of these days I really will follow it to find out just where it goes when it’s loaded.

le loup baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022The second thing that I noticed was the storm that was raging out at sea.

The spray over the base of Le Loup – the marker light on the rocks at the entrance to the harbour – wasn’t as impressive as we have seen it in the past but you have to remember that the tide is quite far out at the moment.

It’ll be much more impressive in an hour’s time but by them I’m hoping to be tucked up back at home with a glass of warm Wincarnis.

They used to do Phyllosan that fotifies the over-forties. Why can’t they do stuff that will sixtify the over-sixties?.

le coelacanthe baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022A little earlier we saw a couple of photos of Le Coelacanthe out in the Baie de Granville looking as if she’s heading for port

However as she came past the headland she did a marvellous little U-turn and headed back out to sea. A closer look revealed that she had her nets out.

Since the issues about fishing out in the bay in waters that have been unilaterally claimed by the Channel Islands, we’ve seen them fishing in all kinds of strange places but I can’t recall anyone having been fishing just there.

We are living in strange times indeed.

le tibériade baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022So that was the story of Le Coelacanthe.

We saw her the other day moored at the Fish Processing Plant with her sister Le Tibériade. The two are clearly inseparable because a few minutes after she went past, Le Tibériade appeared from behind the headland.

She had her nets out too by the looks of things because she did the same U-turn and headed off back out around the headland into the Baie de Granville. I wonder how long they’ll be keeping it up, or is this just something to fill in the time while they are waiting for the harbour gates to open?

la grande ancre baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022right at the beginning when we saw Le Coelacanthe coming across the bay followed by La Grande Ancre.

Not long after we’d seen the two trawlers in action, La Grande Ancre came around the headland too. But she didn’t perform a U-turn like the others. Instead, she carried on towards the harbour.

She still has the lighter on her deck that she had the other day when we saw her, and there’s a pile of fishing equipment in it.

What caught my eye though was the sailor sitting on the lighter. In the rough weather like we are having just now that can’t be a very secure place to be.

les bouchots de chausey baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022Coming in a couple of minutes behind La Grande Ancre was another one of our old friends, one that I was expecting to arrive.

And sure enough, into port fighting her was through the waves came Les Bouchots de Chausey. You can see how rough it is there with her being tossed around there like a cork.

She must have quite a load on if she’s coming in so early in the tide. They wouldn’t send the tractor and trailer for half a load and in any case, she’d stay out as long as possible to make sure that it was worth her while to come home.

le poulbot pescadore peccavi chant des sirenes massabielle le styx chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022While I was watching the arrivals into port, I also happened to notice yet another change over at the chantier naval.

It was a slow, agonising walk down there to the viewpoint but I went all the same. It was worth the crawl because I now know why Le Poulbot was moved to sit in front of Le Styx yesterday.

That’s because previously she was in front of la Soupape and that latter has now been put back into the water. In fact Le Poulbot has now taken her place.

And where she was, there is now the trawler Massabielle. It’s her turn to have a good working-over.

joly france ferry terminal port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022On my way down to the chantier naval I heard an old couple sitting on the wall talking about the Ile de Chausey.

When I hobbled back I noticed that they now had a brochure in their sweaty little mitts and were making plans. And it looks as if there are still plans to be made because one of the Joly France ferries is already at the quayside ready for an early start tomorrow morning.

One glance at the windows of the boat is sufficient to tell us which one she is. With her windows in “portrait” and not “landscape” format, she’s the newer one of the two.

The other two aren’t around anywhere just now so they must still be out at the island.>br clear=”both”>

la grande ancre les bouchots de chausey port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022On my way home I stopped to look at what was happening now in port.

La Grande Ancre was not only in port now, she was actually tied up and they were beginning to unload her. That was what I called “quick work”.

Alongside her is Les Bouchots de Chausey. She wasn’t loitering around either. She’l be tied up and unloading in a minute too.

No-one interrupted me on my walk back home today. And now that summer is over, it’s coffee time and I’ll finish the ginger beer another time.

The Trip to Jersey will be finished another time too. You’ve no idea how time-consuming it is to do what I want to do and there’s tea to prepare.

Sausage beans and chips with real baked beans and they were really delicious. Those sausages and beans that I bought in St Helier really are the business.

And then I had to send some info to someone before I could start on writing my notes, hence they are rather late tonight.

Tomorrow I’m in a rush so I’ll just nip to LIDL early, I reckon. They open at 08:30 and if I’m lucky I’ll be there at the door when they open. So this means that the phone will probably upgrade tonight and switch itself off.

It wouldn’t be for the first time, would it?

Thursday 13th May 2021 – IT’S AN ILL WIND …

kite surfing beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall… that doesn’t blow anyone any good.

And sure enough, as the weather deteriorated after lunch and we ended up with high gusting winds and a torrential rainstorm, there were people out here who were able to enjoy it, as I noticed when I went to look at the beach on my afternoon walk.

They seemed to be enjoying themselves out there, which was more than I was doing with the rain falling down the back of my neck.

And during the night, I didn’t enjoy it very much either. I had another miserable night of suffering continual attacks of cramp that made me have to get up on several occasions to walk around to ease everything off.

It goes without saying that I knew that I was going to suffer for this during the day, and I wasn’t wrong either.

Nevertheless I managed to be up at the sound of the first alarm and after the medication I came in here to sort myself out.

One thing that I’d planned to do was to to sort out the music on the computer. I have stuff all over the place that needed tidying up and I attended to that first. That led to the rather unfortunate circumstance of renaming 13 files that I didn’t want to rename and not the one that I was trying to do.

Later on I went for a shower and then set the washing machine off on a cycle prior to going out to the shops.

trawler entering port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd I seemed to have picked the right time to go out too because there was quite a lot of activity in the outer harbour right now.

The weather was quite nice and I actually went out without a coat. It was cloudy to the east and looked pretty dismal but with a westerly blowing the good weather towards me, I wasn’t too bothered about the clouds.

There was quite a lot of wind out there too and the yachts in the Baie de Mont St Michel weren’t half being tossed around. The trawler that was coming in to the fish processing plant was rolling about rather wildly as well and I was glad that I wasn’t out there in all of that.

trawler port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallIt was a lot calmer in the inner harbour of course. It’s well-protected from the wind and the waves.

I had the impression that the gates hadn’t been open all that long because there were one or two boats heading in, and a couple of trawlers moored at the Fish Processing Plant were now casting off ready to go out to sea.

But what’s interesting about this photograph is that Aztec Lady isn’t there at the moment. She seems to have slipped out on the tide overnight and headed off elsewhere out of the way. At the moment even as I write, according to my radar she’s just outside the harbour at St Cast le Guildo, one of the places where we slept when we were on board Spirit of Conrad.

swimming pool port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallYesterday I mentioned that the little freighters that come over from Jersey must be keeping a low profile as I haven’t hears of them coming over for a little while.

That looks as if it’s about to change. I know that Normandy Trader has the contract with a swimming pool manufacturer to take their swimming pools over to Jersey, and there are a couple down there on the quayside by the loading crane. That must mean that the arrival of Normandy Trader is expected some time fairly soon.

In town I bumped into Pierre, the owner of Spirit of Conrad, and we had a little chat. And then I headed off to the railway station to pick up my tickets for next week’s trip to Castle Anthrax. At the moment the trains are running normally so I don’t have to worry about an 04:30 start.

At LIDL I spent a little more than usual but they had no cocoa powder or frozen peas. And so I’m not going to get away with not going to LeClerc on Saturday. Mind you, it’s been several weeks since I’ve put my sooty foot in that direction so it won’t do any harm.

Coming back from LIDL was a struggle and it took me a lot longer than it normally would. I’m definitely not feeling myself right now which is just as well, because it’s a disgusting habit. It was so late when I returned that there was no point in having my fruit bread. I just made my hot chocolate and then emptied the washing machine and hung everything up to dry.

Unfortunately I also crashed out on the chair and was well away for quite a while – to such an extent that I ended up with rather a late lunch.

Fighting off another wave of sleep I carried on with sorting out the music. I’ve ended up with about 40 concerts that I can use for the radio shows without having to be inventive or imaginative. That’s quite a useful and will save me a considerable amount of work in the future, I hope.

If I can do three concerts on Monday I’ll be right up to date except for the concert that I’ll be doing for the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival and the “special” programme that I’ll be doing in respect of a CD that I found in a junk shop in Maine, USA a few years ago.

later on, despite the torrential rain, I went out for my afternoon walk around the headland.

peche a pied pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallSurprisingly there were quite a few other people out there too despite the weather.

There’s another very low tide this afternoon when the water level drops below the leased concessions so there were some folk out there with all of their equipment going for a scratch around in the sand and on the rocks to see what they can harvest.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we did an outside broadcast from the peche à pied last year, talking to the people out there scavenging and collecting recipes from them as to how to prepare their catch. There were even a couple of guys having a banquet among the rocks with fresh oysters and the like.

But despite what people say, oysters aren’t all they are cracked up to be. I had a dozen on my wedding night and only 9 of them worked.

jade 3 trawler chausiais ferry terminal port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallWe’re back on the subject of NAABSA – “Not Always Afloat But Safely Aground” – fishing boats again.

Over there is a trawler (who I later identified as Jade 3 tied up to the wharf by the terminal for the ferries to the Channel Islands and the Ile de Chausey and left to sink onto the silt now that the tide is out. It still bewilders me as to why there are so many boats left out in the outer harbour rather than being tied up properly in the inner harbour.

Behind her is moored Chausias, the little freighter that runs supplies out to the Ile de Chausey. She seems to be living there at the moment, which I suppose isn’t too much of an issue seeing as the Channel Islands ferries aren’t sailing right now.

Back here I had a coffee and then started on the photos from Wyoming in August 2019 but unfortunately I crashed out yet again and missed some of my guitar practice. I’m doing no good at all right now.

Tea was a stuffed pepper with rice and vegetables followed by more of my delicious chocolate sponge and chocolate sauce. And fool that I am – I’d had the laptop on all day editing a rather large concert and after tea I forgot myself and switched off the laptop. I lost all of the work that I’d done and had to do it all over again which made me late for everything else.

Rosemary rang me too for a chat while I was doing it so I was rather distracted and it took me longer than it should to set it all up and prepare it ready to do again. But now that I’ve set it up, it can spend all of the night doing its stuff now though while I’m asleep (I hope).

So while that’s doing I’ve written up my notes and I’m off to bed. Much later than I wanted but it can’t be helped. There’s plenty of work to do tomorrow but at least I have all day to do it.

Part of the work was to listen to today’s dictaphone notes that somehow slipped through the net, and find out where I’d been during the night. I’d actually been to rescue Nerina. She’d been out somewhere in the beige Cortina and I finally caught up with her around Nantwich/Acton way. The lights had gone out, the headlights, so I pushed the connectors back in and they came back on but they weren’t very bright but she managed to get back going home. I mentioned to her about the time all the lights had gone out at such and such a time. She replied that she knew that she had gone out before then but “I knew that I could drive because I knew where I was. It wasn’t difficult” but I couldn’t imagine her driving all the way around Warmingham without any lights on. She was laughing about one of her friends saying “driving tests and driving regulations are all important because that’s how you pass your test” and yet her friend had followed all the rules and regulations and failed. We got near to a town that might have been Nantwich and we were talking about Hughie Green and Monica Rose, how Hughie Green used to give specific instructions to Monica so that she knew exactly what was happening, where it was happening and when it was happening and why it was happening so that everything went off really smoothly. We were confusing him with Wilfred Pickles. Just then she noticed that he was around somewhere so we thought that we’d go to see him. We walked down that way and came to one of these food caravans that we knew. I asked her if she wanted a drink. She said that she would have a pineapple, but she said it in French ananas. As she got there she went to a special machine where they had some kind of home-brewed hot drink of some description and she poured herself a big glass. I asked “get one for me as well” which she did and we could get some food in the inside and then go and have a chat with Wilfred Pickles

Friday 30th April 2021 – I’VE HAD A …

… slightly better day today. Not very much, but something of an improvement. Mind you, not that things could have been much worse than they were.

And they probably would have been even better had I not had several attacks of cramp during the night, a couple of which dragged me out of bed.

But anyway, I made it up and out of bed just after the first alarm again. And after the medication I listened to the dictaphone. There was some kind of TV programme during the night featuring me. It was like a festival of all my old vehicles. They had managed to collect a whole pile of old vehicles that I used to own and they were all being filmed arriving at this venue where we were supposed to be having this party. The thing that surprised me was that out of all of these old vehicles turning up, they hadn’t managed to go and get Caliburn. I was really surprised by it. I mentioned something like “it’s a shame that I don’t have a boat, isn’t it?”. They said “you do have a boat and it’s on the canal over there” and they were pointing to the canal on Henhull Bridge. I said “God, do I have a boat as well?”. There was something about me getting a boat for going over the sea. And that was one of the times when I awoke with an attack of cramp.

In between all of the wicked attacks of cramp I was visiting a girl, someone like my friend Sue, and I ended up spending the night there, separate beds. I was really tired so by the time that I got up it was quite late in the morning. I went to ‘phone my boss to tell him that I was not going to be in work that day but first of all she had to move an animal out of the bedroom with its pet snail so that I could use the ‘phone in there. But every time I tried to dial I kept on getting a wrong number. In the end I went to dial up on my mobile ‘phone. There was something about the animals she had, a cat and a mouse and a dog and I was training them to eat bits of chocolate that I used to do with my cats, giving them a bit equal and having them sit and wait until I gave the word and this was surprisingly successful. This girl had never seen anything quite like it at all. I went to ‘phone him and ask for Friday off as well and make a few days of it out here with this girl but every time I went to phone I couldn’t get through. This auto-dialler was dialling the first number that I put in that was wrong.

At that point, I went off back to sleep again, leaving the dictaphone running. And my apologies to Percy Penguin (who doesn’t feature in these pages as often as she deserves) for doubting her word when she complained that I snored in bed when I was asleep (not that I ever did too much sleeping if I was with Percy Penguin).

Transcribing that was about all that I managed to do this morning. Not even a mug of coffee was sufficient to galvanise me into action and after I’d had my hot chocolate and sourdough fruit bread, I actually crashed out again.

Not for as long as on the two previous days, but it may as well have been, for all the good that it did me from a working point of view.

After lunch I made something of a desultory start on editing my photos from August 2019. Doing anything is better than doing nothing, of course.

Not that I did too many but right now I’m emulating thousands of pioneers on the Trails West to Oregon and California during the Gold Rush years of the late 1840s and 1850s by “nooning” at Cottonwood Creek near modern-day Guernsey in Wyoming. It was an eerie feeling sitting there eating my sandwiches on the same spot where the Donner party had once eaten their lunch just four months before they began to eat each other.

There was the usual pause for my afternoon walk around the headland.

people on beach near fish trap rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAs usual I went over to the end of the car park to look over the wall down onto the beach to see who was about down there.

Just a few people walking around down there today and I’ve no idea why because the weather wasn’t unpleasant at all. There are a couple of people walking around on the beach who caught my eye. Not because of their white jackets, but because they were walking past the medieval fish trap.

You can see that it’s doing its job retaining the water that’s come in with the tide. When it was working correctly back in the olden days the water would slowly filter out leaving the fish behind. And then the fishwives would wade in and pull out the fish with their hands.

And they would probably have much more luck than the modern-day fisherman with his rod and line. Who says that modern methods are more efficient?

le loup baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallLe Loup, the marker light on the rock at the entrance to the port, was looking very nice today.

It was the first thing that I noticed when I walked around the corner and onto the path that leads down to the car park. The tide was not yet right out so there was still plenty of water in the bay. We’ve seen HOW EMPTY THE BAY CAN BE when we are at very low tide.

For a change there weren’t too many cars on the car park. Just three, in fact, this afternoon, and none of them were of any interest. It wasn’t very busy at all so I walked off quietly down to the end of the car park and the end of the headland.

people on lower footpath pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere may not have been anyone about on the cliffs where I’d just been walking or on the car park, but the lower footpath today was heaving with people. There was even someone making an attempt to cycle around it on a mountain bike.

Even more surprisingly, there were no fishermen today on the rocks. It’s too much to suppose that they have given it up as a bad job and gone to the fishmonger’s.

And that reminds me of the story about the mermaid who appeared on the rocks down there. Someone asked what her vital statistics were and the reply was “36 – 24 – €3:60 per kilo”.

On that note, I walked off along the path on top of the cliffs on top of the other side of the headland. I forgot to notice if there were any fishing boats out there working this afternoon.

digger with tractors and trailers port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallFrom the viewpoint I could see the digger and the tractors and trailers working away at the end of the harbour wall down in the tidal harbour.

It looks as if they have finished digging away at the mountain of sand that had built up at the harbour entrance and were now digging away at a kind of trench further inside the harbour. It’s going to be interesting in a couple of days time to see what they are doing right now.

Incidentally, digging away at the mountain of sand apparently isn’t anything new. It’s a regular task that they undertake every five or so years to keep the passage free.

You can see that the tide is still a fair way up. The waste pipe that they are laying from the pleasure port is still part-submerged in water and the two white diggers haven’t made it out there as yet.

fishing boat out of water chantier navale port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallFrom this viewpoint I can see down into the chantier navale

There is no change in occupancy there today – Aztec Lady and the smaller trawler are still parked up on blocks down there and that’s your lot. But there’s something else in there too that looks as if it’s just been hauled out of the water. We can tell that by the amount of water down there behind that little fishing boat.

She’s been dropped onto the trailer by the portable boat lift and is about to be whisked away by the pick-up. That’s presumably the driver inside the cabin making the boat secure before they leave. And I was ready to leave too, and have another mug of coffee.

fishing boat grounded out port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallBefore I did, I walked past the quay at the fish processing plant.

And there today we have another fishing boat left to go around on the mud as the tide goes out. That’s becoming quite a habit right now.

Back here I made myself a coffee and then carried on with my photographs, such as I was able, and despite another little relaxation for half an hour, and then I had a play on the guitars. And despite how I was feeling, I enjoyed every minute of it too. And I wished that I felt better than I do.

Tea tonight was nothing special. A burger with rice and vegetables with onion gravy followed by apple crumble with the left-over custard from yesterday.

But now I have the opportunity for an early night. After last night, I’m going to have another one of those pills that they prescribe me to have a good night’s sleep. We’ll see how this one works in the hope that I can have a better night’s sleep than I did.

Saturday 25th July 2020 – I’M WHACKED PART III

We’ve been hard at it again today.

And still suffering the effects of yesterday because no matter what, I still couldn’t rouse myself out for the third alarm. 06:40 it was when I finally crawled out of bed.

There was the usual cup of tea brought to me, and then I carried on with paperwork and the like.

There was a group of us last night in a hotel, a conference or something like that. I ended up sharing a table with someone who resembled a girl from the radio. It seemed that at every meal I was sitting next to her which pleased me enormously of course. This slowly developed over the period that we were there. We were all on our own in a group, a lot of us, talking about spices and herbs. She had a huge collection of spices that she bought and she told us where to go to get them. She said that anyone who would like to could buy her a spice as a memento. I was immediately keen to go along and do this. In the end I found where she indicated the spice shop was but is was a 2nd hand record shop. I was looking in there at the records and found loads of obscure American records of the type that I’ve been recording of my own collection but this isn’t really getting my thing advanced. At some point I’d been talking to a couple of guys. This girl and another girl had said that they had been friends for 22 years and they can’t possibly have been work colleagues for 22 years because they weren’t much older than that so we were wondering if they had been friends or something. I made some kind of remark “it doesn’t matter if they are 22 years old I could still keep up”. I was with her friend at one particular point when a Ford Cortina Estate mark III gold came by, covered in patches of underseal and rust preventer, that kind of thing. I told her that I had a vehicle like that. She expressed surprise but wasn’t very interested. That reminded me that somewhere along the line I was with Nerina at one point talking about getting a new car for the taxis but for our own private vehicle would we be tempted to get something decent that we could use for a taxi if necessary and was that really a good idea. I thought that I’d like my taxi business to be bigger but only in a bigger town where there is room and scope without treading on people’s toes. But back to this story with the girl from the radio – I remember that they went off on an expedition somewhere leaving some of us behind. I was left behind and feeling very disappointed about this.

At another point in the night there was a question about scaffolding – being on scaffolding and what happens if a pole breaks or someone cuts one while you are on it. Terry told me about a system that he had where there was always a couple of wires to attach the scaffolding to various points somewhere so that if it did break the wires would snag somewhere and at least give some kind of temporary support while you scrambled down.

This yacht thing – there was more to it than that, including me buying a yacht for some reason. And I would love to know what “this yacht thing” was all about and what did I forget to record during the night.

After breakfast we collected our wits and the like and then headed off to Ingrid’s with the trailer. I managed to reverse that all the way down the drive at Daniel’s and drop it off there although the socket would benefit from a pile of easing oil.

Ingrid was pleased to see us and we had a long chat – to such an extent that Ingrid made lunch for us. We were there for quite a while.

Later on we went to Les Guis. I found a few things that we needed either for Rosemary’s house or for the barn and did a little more clearing.

One thing that I did was to place the pane of glass in the frame above the door in the bathroom. I bought that just before I was taken ill and I’d never had the chance to fit it. Rodents had been getting into the shower room and I wanted to keep them out.

That was actually the first constructive thing that I’d done down there. The ret of the time I’ve spent either clearing up or weeding. Having inspected the hole in the attic I injected a pile of expanding foam into it to block it up and I’ll see tomorrow if that has done the trick.

With the van all loaded up we went round to say goodbye to my neighbours but they were busy so we didn’t spend any time there.

Back here we crashed out for an hour or so and then I unloaded Caliburn.

After tea I had a look at a chair that needed fixing. I managed some of it with the aid of an electric drill that had a jammed trigger which was something of a complication, but the project failed because the sunken nut that I had found was too large for the hole. That’s a job for a wood file in due course.

Having had a shower and a clothes washing session, I’m now off to bed. Sunday tomorrow so a lie-in. And I’ve earned that too after this week’s efforts.

Thursday 23rd July 2020 – I’M WHACKED!

Yes, it’s been a very hard day today.

Having crashed out so definitively yesterday evening, I slept right through and even missed the third alarm. Only by a few minutes but nevertheless …

First task was to write up my journal from last night, in the middle of which Rosemary brought me a cup of tea. Even so, I managed somehow to crash out again.

Afrer breakfast we organised a few things and then set off.

First port of call was near St Priest les Champs to drop off the door. And as it happens, Rosemary knows the lady of the house so we had a chat for a while.

Second was Ingrid’s at Biollet where she made us a drink. We had a really good chat and then went round to pick up her trailer – a big single-beast trailer much bigger than I was expecting. But the bigger the better. I can fit more stuff in it.

caliburn trailer pouzol puy de dome france eric hallRosemary and I said goodbye to Ingrid and set off to my place.

Tons of stuff lying around there that was of no use to man nor beast and that was something that I was always going to do “tomorrow”. But it was depressing me seeing it all lying there like that so we heaved it all into the trailer regardless.

But as an aside, I need to work on my reversing. I’m somewhat out of practice and I made something of a dog’s breakfast getting the trailer down the track to my house.

les guis virlet puy de dome france eric hallOne thing that I wanted to do while I was there was to check on the pointing of the wall that I had built in 2012.

No cows in the field and no farmer about so we went in to check.

It’s all holding up remarkably well, all things considered, and I’m proud of the job that I did on that considering that it was my first proper effort at building a stone wall. But the joint between the lean-to and the main house wall is separating and if I do ever make it back I’ll need to refill that.

The dechetterie at St Eloy les Mines would be closed for lunch by now so we made our way back home for something to eat. Rosemary indicated some more rubbish that needed heaving into the trailer while she made the food.

This afternoon Rosemary had a bank appointment so I went off to the dechetterie where the old woman in charge directed me to the correct bay to unload it.

Back now to my house where I loaded up the trailer yet again. The concrete parking space is now clear of nonsense, some of the rubbish hanging around outside has gone too, and I’ve even thrown away some stuff in the verandah too. Plenty more to go at too, stuff that’s been hanging around for centuries and which probably will never be used..

bedroom les guis virlet puy de dome france eric hallWhile I was there, I went to check on the bedroom.

It seems to be unaffected by the rodent infestation so I spent some time in there sorting out some stuff in the wardrobes. There were a few bits and pieces that I wanted to collect that I’d stored in there for safe-keeping and so I rescued them.

The rest of the stuff that’s in there can remain for another day or until I move back down whenever

bedroom les guis virlet puy de dome france eric hallBut I do have to say that it was totally depressing to see the bedroom looking like this.

It took me four long years (not continuously, of course) to convert it from A RUBBLE-STREWN WRECK into wnat you see today, complete with fitted wardrobes and everything, and I was so proud of what i’d managed to build with my own fair hands.

And all in all, I reckon that I had no more than about three months’ use out of it before I was taken ill and rushed to hospital. That was the saddest part of all about this.

As for the attic, that’s had it, I reckon. And so has everything in there, I reckon. There’s little hope of salvaging anything from there although I did bring out a set of plastic drawers.

On the ground floor I did some tidying up – just a little. And there’s plenty more to go at in there too.

All in all, I could spend the rest of my life tidying up in there and still not see the end of it all. No matter what I did, I could never make that place look tidy

The dechetterie would be closed by now so I came on back to Rosemary’s, totally exhausted, with a full trailer behind Caliburn.

We had tea and a good chat, following which I had a shower and washed my clothes. And all of that was just as well too.

Plenty more work to do tomorrow- this little visit is far from over – not by any means. A good night’s sleep is called for so that I can be fighting fit. But there’s little hope of that.

Wednesday 12th February 2020 – WHAT A HORRIBLE …

people on beach plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hall… day it was today.

And I’m not talking about the weather either because considering we’re approaching mid-February, it was a nice day from that point of view. The wind had dropped considerably, it was a bright day and there were even people walking on the beach.

What I’m talking about is from a health point of view.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that for the end of November and for most of December I was feeling better than I have been doing for quite a number of years.

But then in the new year I could feel a decline in my health and I’ve been going steadily downhill.

Today I reached rock-bottom. Most of the day was spent flat-out in my chair and had this been a few months ago, I would have taken to my bed without a second thought.

But having had this good spell, I’m not going to let this defeat me and I fought it out. Not very successfully but there we go. And at one time I was really feeling totally and thoroughly dreadful.

But then, that’s what this illness is all about. They say that I’ll start to feel the effects after about five years, and it’s been almost four and a half since it was diagnosed – and that’s no telling how long I’d been carrying this illness before it was diagnosed

What I’ll have to do is to resign myself to it and just take things as they come, and reflect on the fact that I’ve been far worse than this.

and to make things worse, last night I did something that I haven’t done for years, and that is to go for a trip down to corridor. Back in the past it was at least once every night but for several years it’s not happened at all. Sign on the times, I reckon.

And to add insult to injury, I failed to beat any of the alarms and it was almost 07:00 when I arose, and that’s no good either. All in all, it’s pretty depressing.

After the medication I attacked the dictaphone. We started off with a crowd of us in a room and I was drinking coffee and everyone else was drinking beer. There was a guy there from the – the – and he asked me if I’d had the Audi. “Which one?” “The one that was on your front the other day”. “Ohh that’s been and gone, that has. It just passed through my hands, that kind of vehicle”
A litttle later on we had an unexpected visitor. A footballer by the name of Jamie Reed has just signed for Cefn Druids in the Welsh Premier League and has been making something of a good impression. Anyway, don’t ask me why but last night on my travels he was trying to do something phenomenal with a boat out of Normandy but I can’t remember what now but it had become quite popular but on one occasion there was a balloon in a shop with him and someone else holding onto it. This mobile thing was turning around so they were suspended in the air turning around this object or being turned by it, one or the other (… like a ceiling fan…). Plastic models of them, inflatable plastic models (…not the real Jamie Reed …)
Then I was in a music shop and there was a little old lady there. She had a play on a guitar but played with one of the machine heads so the thing went flat. She put the guitar somewhere not quite right but when the guy came back in, the shop assistant, he saw that the guitar had been moved and said “is anybody here?”. This little old lady spoke up. He checked the guitar and it was out of tune so he plugged it into a machine to tune it up. In the meantime I had a bass and I was busy trying to tune that but it wouldn’t tune for some reason or another. I had the tuning gauge that I had set to percentages instead of an analogue meter and of course that’s much more difficult to tune when it’s like that. Then a parcel arrived, a huge, heavy parcel. I wondered what it could be. Then I realised that I’d gone in for a kind of lifesaving course so I could be a monitor in Canada in the Arctic and this was the first part of that and it was my certificate to say that I’d passed together with a huge wooden framed glass panelled door as a prize. Of course I could use that on my house between the kitchen and the hallway in Winsford, which of course never had a doorway between the kitchen and the doorway, but there you go.

That’s not all of it either but seeing as you are probably eating your lunch right now, I’ll spare you the gory details.

That apple and pear puree that I made – the verdict is that it was absolutely perfect and I really do mean that. You couldn’t distinguish it from any shop-bought stuff.

And then I attacked the splitting of the digital tracks. Again not straightforward because nothing actually corresponded to the published track lists. After much of an effort I came to the conclusion that the published lists are wrong, which is a surprise but there you go.

And also, if that’s not enough, some people have a strange idea of what constitutes a track break and I’ve often had to rebuild tracks before I could split them again.

Apart from that, I’m not quite sure what else I did during the morning. I know that I finished off the notes for the current radio project and I brought THE SET LIST WEB PAGE up to date so that people can see what was played when.

The rest of the time was probably spent fighting off a pile of sleep

pontoon port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallFrom somewhere somehow I managed to summon up something to get me to go into town, even though I really didn’t feel like it at all.

Down into the port and across the top of the harbour gates seeing as they were closed, in order to see what they were up to. No sign of any wind turbine, as you might expect, but a very large floating pontoon with workmen and machinery thereupon.

And so the plot thickens here.

old pontoon walkway missing port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallBut I have an idea as to what might be going on because I’ve only just noticed that there’s something missing from the port.

In the space where Spirit of Conrad and Charles-Marie were moored up until very recently, there used to be a pontoon. And I should know because I walked on it once

But it’s not there now and I couldn’t possibly say when it went either. But anyway, I’ve only just noticed.

large crane port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallAnd it makes me wonder what this machine might be doing here.

It’s a proper heavy-duty crane and is carrying a makers plate saying that it’s rated at 60 tonnes. Of course with an outstretched arm it won’t lift anything like that, but nevertheless they wouldn’t have brought something like this down here when they can have a mobile crane like the one that’s here already.

So we are definitely going to be having some strange things going on.

new pontoons port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallBut this might account for a lot of what is happening.

Out of curiosity and the fact that there was no-one around to stop me, I went for a closer look. Nice new rubber and aluminium heavy pontoons I reckon, presumably to replace the ones that they have ripped out and to go where they are installing the new supports.

But whether this brings any more marine traffic into the port remains to be seen. I haven’t seen a gravel boat since before I went on my High Arctic exploits

painting bus shelter cours de jonville granville manche normandy france eric hallAt La Mie Caline I picked up my dejeunette and as the weather was nice I went for a little walk.

Round by the Cours Jonville they were erecting a marquee. At first I thought it might have been something to do with Carnaval but the smell of cellulose soon changed my mind.

It looks as if they are spraying the bus shelter there, to tidy it up.

My walk took me along to the rue Roger Maris to see why the street was closed on Monday but whatever it was, they must have done it as the traffic is flowing freely down the hill.

old well rue des moulins granville manche normandy france eric hallAnd so I turned my attention to heading back to my apartment.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that in the past we’ve seen a few old wells dotted here and there about the town, particularly up near the Centre Agora.

But here’s one that I must have missed. I certainly haven’t seen this one before. It’s something that I shall have to look into sometime, if I could take off the roof.

And that reminds me of somethign out of Frankie Howerd and Up Pompeii
Senna the Soothsayer – “three times have I looked into the bottomless pit”
Frankie Howerd – “well, well, well”.

market hall art deco sculpture facade rue general patton granville manche normandy france eric hallcarrying on along the rue General Patton I came past the rear entrance to the Market Hall.

Although I’ve been out of that door a few times I’d never stopped to give it a good look. And I was impressed with it too – the Art Deco scultures of marine life such as shellfish.

It could do with a bit of a clean, a tidy-up and a repaint. It’s looking rather shabby around the edges, but then so am I and I’m not getting any younger either.

By the time that I returned it was long after lunchtime so I quickly made myself some butties and then attacked the work.

Fighting off wave after wave of fatigue, sometimes not successfully at all, I managed to dictate the notes, edit them, crop them and assemble a complete project, right down to the final track.

And for a change, I was short rather than overrun. Only by 7 seconds so I scanned through a collection of sound files that I’d made, cut out something from a previous project and inserted it in an appropriate place. There’s a lot to be said for building up your own sound library. I even added a cough to it too today.

A littl trimming here and there and off we go.

scaffolding house rue du nord granville manche normandy france eric hallapart from the sleep issues, I went for my afternoon walk too.

The rue du Nord was advertised as closed so I was intrigued to see why. That scaffolding that we saw the other day in the place du Marché aux Chevaux which I thought might have been for repairing the collapsing wall is in fact for repairing a house wall.

And with the street being so narrow, no cars can pass with the scaffolding erected. That will upset quite a few people I imagine.

people on promenade plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallDespite the waterlogged ground I managed to fit in my run along the north side of the walls because there was no-one around up here at all.

And when I made it round to the cliff overlooking the Plat Gousset I could see why. We’ve already seen the crowds on the beach and there were yet more people out there walking along the promenade enjoying the really nice weather.

And I can’t say that I blame them either. Given half a chance I would be down there too.

repairing roof rue des juifs granville manche normandy france eric hallBetter down there than up there with that guy.

There’s been a major house renovation project in the rue des Juifs that’s been proceeding along at snail’s pace – in fact they don’t seem to have advanced much since this time last year. But today, someone is up there fitting a new metal roof to it.

It makes me wonder what the seagulls have to say about it. They have been making nests on the roofs over there and I imagine it won’t be long until they are back.

tractor trailer tipping concrete port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallUnfortunately I didn’t manage to fit in my run along the square Maurice Marland because there were too many people about and I don’t want to show myself up.

But my ear picked up a noise of stones on the quayside so I went for a look to see what it might be. I thought that it might have been the gravel lorries starting to come back but in fact it was a tractor with a big trailer tipping rocks onto the quayside.

And that was interesting too. Tons of stuff going on around the place today.

tractor trailer loading rock ferry port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallkeeping my eyes peeled, I followed the tractor and trailer as they left the quayside to see where they went.

And I was in luck again. Regular readers of this rubbish will have seen the concrete breaker down at the foot of the ferry terminal at low tide breaking off the rocks that are jutting out.

And there is the tractor and trailer, presumably on their way to pick up the rocks and drop them off somewhere where they can be collected. They can’t go and dump those off around the corner like they do with the silt.

Back here and in between the waves of fatigue I pressed on, determined to finish the radio project. And even though it meant a late tea, it was all done and dusted and ready for the road.

Tea was steamed veg with falafel in vegan cheese sauce followed by rice pudding. And absolutely delicious it all was too. My cooking is definitely improving.

trawler unloadind fish port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallOut for my evening walk and I was the only one out there too so I managed another run. I have to keep on pushing on with this.

But with the foul weather having subsided it looks as if the fishermen are back at work. Here’s one of the trawler-type of boats unloading at the fish-processing plant, so it looks as if it’s back to business as usual.

So now all of my notes are written and I’ve listened to the radio programme to make sure that it’s okay, I can go to bed.

Here’s hoping that it’s a good night’s sleep and that I’ll be fighting fit in the morning. But I don’t think so at all. I think that i’m stuck with this.

Monday 16th September 2019 – STRIDER HAS BEEN …

… a busy boy today.

Back at the house after the school run, Zoe gathered up all of the glass, aluminium and plastic that she could find and we loaded it up into the back of Strider.

Then down at the bottom of the field by the lean-to we dragged the trailer out of the undergrowth. That was already loaded with a huge mound of stuff so we coupled it up to Strider’s tow hitch. Not for nothing did we fit a decent tow bar on him last year.

And that wasn’t the work of five minutes either. A trailer that hasn’t moved for a year or so and there’s quite a weight in it too. And, of course, the electric connections needed to be cleaned off so that I would have lights.

On the way down the road we hit a bump and the back door of the trailer opened up. As I have said before, I seem to be leaving a trail of possessions all around the world these days. But this time we were quick off the mark and we had it all back on the trailer and the door closed before anyone noticed.

At the garage we loaded more stuff up and then went on a tour of a few places to collect more. Off then to the recycling centre at Bath to weigh in the whole lot of it.

On the way back (for by now it was almost lunchtime after all of that) we went to Tim Horton’s where Zoe bought me a coffee and where I left my bag behind and had to run back and pick it up. It had taken ages to unload it all and separate it, and I question the wisdom of putting heavy glass into cardboard boxes and leaving it on a trailer for a year in the rain.

And inside the back of Strider now smells like a Babylonian boozer’s bedroom.0

The trailer door came open again on the way back (luckily there was nothing in it) and I stopped to pick up a sandwich. By now I was thoroughly exhausted.

And that’s no surprise either. I’d had another miserable night where I didn’t go to sleep until about 03:00 and then a fitful night of tossing and turning.

I don’t remember much of where I went but I remember three different segments. Segment 1, and then Segment 2 which was completely different and bore no resemblance to the previous, and Segment 3 where I stepped right back into where I was at the end of Segment 1. And if you think that that is confusing, imagine how I’m feeling.

And I do recall at some point the welcome return of a young girl who accompanied me on several voyages three or four years ago, and I wonder what has suddenly brought her back into the picture.

We had the school run of course and then the recycling, and then this afternoon I was hauling animal feed for a while, and then we replaced the rear brake caliper on the big Chevy truck that somehow manages to feature quite regularly on these pages just now.

As well as all of that, I’ve ordered my fuel economy chip and also made enquiries about my jacket at the hotel in Calgary.

Back at home I put back the trailer – and I do have to say that despite being out of practice I was totally impressed with my reversing skills – putting the trailer exactly where I wanted it (and in some tight corners too) every time, right on the button.

Not many of us here tonight so I made my usual vegan standby – stuffed peppers – for the two of us. And then I downloaded some more music. Two albums, both of which are vastly underrated.

Nektar’s album Down To Earth is a very interesting curiosity – am album by a British rock band that was totally ignored in the UK but became something of a phenomenon in Germany and eventually the musicians relocated there.

It’s one of these “take it or leave it” albums that I like to play every now and again but I can really live without it.

On the other hand, House On The Hill is a magnificent album. I’ve heard quite a few albums by Audience and was never particularly inspired but House On The Hill is another one of those that comes out of nowhere and stops you dead in your tracks.

It was one of the “Jackie Marshall cassette recordings” from the mid-70s and I bought a vinyl version in the mid-80s, probably the last vinyl album that I ever bought. And somehow I overlooked to purchase a CD version when I was modernising my collection.

As an aside, I’m only hunting down album tracks for albums that I already own and not for anything that isn’t already in my collection.

Now it’s bed-time and I’m hoping for better luck tonight when it comes to sleeping. I really can’t carry on like this and I’m back on the road on Wednesday.

Saturday 7th October 2017 – STRIDER’S FIRST …

strider towing tralier centreville new brunswick canada september septembre 2017… tow job.

And it very likely was too, because all of the electrics on the trailer plug were totally corroded. It took an hour to clean them off and grease them.

And in the end, we only had direction indicators too, but that was good enough to go.

Here in Canada, recycling is big business. And I do mean “business” too. Most of the glass bottles and plastic containers require a deposit, and there’s cash to be earned from aluminium soft drinks cans too.

But remembering where you bought each article and taking them back to the correct shop is a nightmare, so some enterprising people have set up central collection points where you can take your empties, they redeem them from you, and they handle the returns to the various shops.

Amber is fundraising for a school trip to Washington DC in the Spring so she’s been collecting from friends and neighbours. Today, we loaded everything into the small enclosed trailer, under the careful supervision of one of the mill cats, and took it down to the Centre in Bristol.

And you’d be surprised how much we earned too!

It wasn’t as easy as it sounded too. The trailer was stuck deep in the undergrowth and I had to attach a chain to Strider to pull it out.

And then the tow ball was the wrong size so we had to find a smaller one and swap them over. And then the electrics.

Rachel came with us so Strider also had his first rear-seat passenger. There are a couple of pop-up dickey seats in the half-cab at the back and Amber perched on one of those. She refused to travel in the cage.

Another thing as well was that despite being out of practice, not having done it for years, I reversed the trailer exactly where I needed it to be, and on several occasions too, quite often into very small gaps. I was proud of that.

I wasn’t quite right about last night though. Cujo the Killer Cat didn’t come to bed after me. She was in fact already on the bed and waiting for me, which was quite nice. And she stayed for quite a while too.

But I didn’t though. I was off on various nocturnal rambles during the night.

We started off last night somewhere out on the Outer Banks but I don’t now remember exactly what I was doing out there. But anyway I quickly moved on to driving a coach full of young school kids to some kind of science laboratory where they were having some kind of lessons. I had to clean out the coach and found a huge pile of animal hair in the form of a long grey and white tail. It was many metres long and quite valuable too so I collected it up to put in one of the lockers at the side. Having done that, I went into school to say that I was ready to leave, and gave my journey number, which was one of the 6 that began with a figure “4” but the receptionist had said that all of the “4” journeys had gone -which was definitely not the case, for my next trip to the laboratory was another one of the “4” trips, so that hadn’t even arrived.
A little later I was in a car heading to the north of Manchester – a rough area – so I had a CB radio with me. I was chatting to a few people and they began to ask me questions, about what my car looked like and so on. I knew that soon I would have to stop for fuel so I started to give them all kinds of false details about me and the car so that we wouldn’t be recognised.
The discussion moved on then to another erstwhile taxi owner who had never been particularly successful and had fallen foul of the taxi licensing laws. He had been allowed to start again with just one car but hadn’t been successful and I was trying to buy him out. But the discussion concerned his own ineptitude and incompetence.

After our return from the Recycling Centre, I had to go shopping. And come back and go again because, in the kind of thing that only I can do, I forgot to take any money.

A shower, shave and clean clothes were next, and then we attacked the Thanksgiving meal. 14 of us, there were, and we made tons of food, much of which wasn’t eaten and went into the fridge. And then Rachel and I attacked the mountains of washing up.

Although it’s early, I’m in bed. I’m totally exhausted and I’ve crashed out twice already. I managed just enough effort to put a pile of clothes in the wash, and that’s my lot until the morning

Saturday 23rd August 2014 – IT’S NOT EVERY DAY …

… that I’m up and out of bed at 06:30, but that was the time that Rob rang me up. And consequently, by about 07:30 we were on the road, fuelled up, tyres on the trailer inflated.

It was heavy going on the Autoroute northwards. It’s the last-but-one Saturday of the holiday season so there were piles of traffic heading towards Paris.

At Orleans we came off the autoroute and headed cross-country via Chartres, Dreux and Evreux to Rouen and then northwards towards Amiens and Abbeville. But Rouen dismayed us. There were major roadworks on the way into the city from the north and the queue was enormous, stretching for miles and miles. Travelling northbound, we had no troubles but it didn’t look good for coming back.

caliburn ford transit car transporter trailer rouen franceAbout 30 miles out of Rouen, round about 14:30, we located Rob’s car and loaded it onto the trailer. Strapped down at the back, but I chained it down at the front. Going that kind of distance (over 600kms), I wanted a chain holding the car to the trailer just in case.

We set off on a very scenic trip back. Avoiding Rouen isn’t easy as the River Seine is in the way and so it took several hours to rejoin the main road down near Evreux, but at least we were moving for most of the time.

Heading back towards home we were stopping every 100kms or so to check the strapping on the car – we didn’t want the car falling off the trailer – and we couldn’t go very fast anyway and so it was about midnight when we were finally back at Rob’s and unloading the car.

I was back here by 01:00 but I couldn’t sleep – just like in the old days when I could never sleep after doing a long shift on the taxis – and so I watched a film for ages.

Tomorrow I’ll have to uncouple the trailer and park it up properly.

But the irony of all of this is that we travelled almost 12OOkms without a hiccup and without attracting any kind of attention whatsoever, but at Evaux les Bains, just 10 kms from our destination and at 23:30 at night, we were stopped in a gendarme barrage, looking for drunk drivers and the like. They had a good look around, a good inspection of the trailer and then a length chat, and waved us on our way.

It was just 1km after that that the retaining strap that was holding the rear of the car snapped. I’m glad that I had chained it down as well.

Friday 13th June 2014 – WHAT A WAY TO START THE DAY.

hanging cloud les guis virlet puy de dome franceYes, I woke up this morning at 07:30 and peered out of the window at the top of the stairs to see what the weather was like.

Here we have a good example of one of our typical Auvergnat weather phenomena. Here’s a hanging cloud coming drifting up the valley in this direction.

And in mid-June tpp. The weather is completely bizarre right now.

After breakfast I went off to pick up Rob and we set off to Montlucon to rescue his car. It was at the Renault garage near the centre and it was quite tight to negotiate with the trailer and the narrow streets and the tight turning into the yard of the garage.

chrysler PT cruiser car trailer transporter caliburn puy de dome franceAnd when we had the Chrysler on the trailer I noticed that we had a tyre right down but luckily there was an airline handy so I put some air in all of them. And then we set off.

The drive back to Pionsat was uneventful and we reached our destination with no trouble and dropped the car off. But this trailer tows nicely and I’m quite pleased with it. Then I took Rob home where Julie made coffee and gave me some vegetable plants

This afternoon I caught up with some work and then went out for an hour or so in the garden, weeding the cloche planting Julie’s plants and the tomatoes that I bought the other day.

So tomorrw I’m back in Montlucon buying the cement and some more pillar blocks for the concrete.

Friday 6th June 2014 – WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME …

… I was awake at 06:00 (and I don’t mean as in not gone to bed yet)? Anyway, so I was this morning, despite having been on my travels during the night.

And it was all to no avail as well because when I pulled into Brico Depot at 06:55, 5 minutes before opening time, there was already a packed car park and a queue of about 40 people at the door. And then at 07:00 they wheeled out the 4-wheel 1.5 tonne 4-wheeled close-coupled trailers for sand and gravel, that were on special offer at just €799. There was a total of 4 trailers and so that was that. I, and another 30-odd people, had had a wasted journey.

Not quite wasted though because I filled up Caliburn with everything that I might need for the next stage of the concreting (because there will be one) except for the 100mm breeze blocks, which I forgot. I also did a round of shopping, to save on going out tomorrow and at the Auchan I bumped into the Megemonts – a couple from Virlet. M Megemont is President of the Virlet Historical Society and mme Megemont is on the local council so I took the opportunity to ask her to send me anything that might be interesting for Radio Anglais.

I was back here for 15:00 for my butty and it’s clearly a case that Rosemary has a spy camera here as she phoned up the moment I set my foot in the door.

It was 20:00 when I went back outside to unload Caliburn. We had the hottest day of the year to daye and it was not possible to work outside. The temperature today reached 34.50C today.

So now I have the fan on here – the first time this year – and I’m off to bed in a minute. I hzve to start on the Radio Anglais programmes tomorrow.

Wednesday 3rd August 2011 – Well, I’m exhausted this evening.

I had another early start for a change and then attacked the web site. I’ve almost finished the Halifax pages and it won’t be too long before they are on line.

After that, seeing as the weather was miserable, I attacked the Sankey Trailer. That’s now empty at last, and I’ve fitted the new bracket for the jockey wheel. That meant drilling the chassis, seeing as it’s a heavy duty bracket and doesn’t fit into the holes of the lightweight one, and the huge inverter, a LIDL 300-watt electric drill and sone decent bits (stepping up from 3mm, 5mm, 8mm, 10mm) made short work of that. But the problem isn’t really the bracket – the jockey wheel just isn’t strong enough for it. But never mind – there will be one on one of the old caravan chassis that I can use.

After lunch I set about cleaning out the room that is over the bread oven in the lean-to. Full of tiles, dust, straw, all kinds of stuff in there since God knows when. That took a while and I’m now on the way to building a pile of wooden shelving to go in there. I’m going to store in there everything that won’t be spoiled by rats – such as engine oil, paint, all kinds of things like that. It’s high time I had a go at getting my storage sorted out.

So that took until about 18:30 when I ran out of easily-available wood. What I did then was to move the Sankey trailer into its new home. And I rather wish I hadn’t because you have no idea how heavy it is, and it’s all uphill as well. I finally got it to move and then I realised that I couldn’t let it go as it would roll back down right into Caliburn. A Sankey (these are the old British Army Land-rover trailers in case you are wondering) weighs about half a ton and that is blasted heavy going uphill on your own when you have a pulled muscle in your shoulder, I can tell you. But it’s now in place and I had to go and lie down for an hour afterwards. It’s a long time since I’ve hurt like that.

This evening I’ve been surfing the web. Shopping on IKEA Montreal, Walmart Montreal, a Solar Panel shop in St Laurent, and a few other places besides. I’m having to do all of this on my own of course, the way things have turned out, but it’s still exciting all the same.

With regard to a mobile phone, that scam company never got back to me, as I suspected that they might not. I was looking on eBay for a triband phone for North America but the prices are absurd, and then I saw a battery for the ancient Nokia 6110 that is hanging around here – just £2:49 plus 35p postage. What I’ll do is just pile loads of credit on my French mobile number and use that with the Nokia. It would have been easier with a proper phone and a proper phone number but there are some things that you just can’t do remotely.

One thing that I realised years ago, and I can’t ever remember why I keep on forgetting it, is that at the end of the day I just have to be self-reliant, do what I can do myself, and not lose any sleep about anything else.

Tuesday 2nd August 2011 – The best-laid plans …

… of mice and men oft go gang agley’. And today was no exception.

Dunno what happened last night but at 05:30 I was lying in bed still awake reading a book in the dawn sunlight. That kind of thing can upset your day and as a result it was rather a late start again (nothing like as late as Sunday though).

Working on the website again this morning and then after lunch I started to empty the trailer while I was waiting for the water to reach temperature. But a phone call soon stopped that. Was I free to do a furniture delivery to the other side of Montlucon?

“Caliburn will only work if you know the magic words” I said
“Stop messing around, Eric. You’ll be well-paid”
“Ahhh – you DO know the magic words”

And so two guys came and helped me unload the oil tank and we all went off to do this delivery – and I was indeed well-paid. Thank you, Pascal.

I also discovered a really cheap fruit and veg shop there and now that’s me sorted out with tomatoes and cucumbers.

Mind you, I didn;t get the rest of my washing done and it won’t be done any time soon as the weather has broken, the glorious summer weather has gone and we are back in storms again – just about 30 seconds after I made the point that we have been 4 days without rain and the place is beginning to need watering. You can’t get any better timing than that.

Saturday 18th June 2011 – YOU MAY REMEMBER …

… that I had a working day of 32 hours and 30 minutes yesterday bringing my Brian James Trailer and this Takeuchi mini-digger back from the UK, and it was late when I finally made it home. It goes without saying therefor that Saturday morning didn’t exist and it was 13:00 when I finally woke up. And it will be no surprise to anyone that I have done … errr … almost badger all today.

But I did manage to find the time – and the energy – this afternoon emptying Caliburn and then reloading him with everything that I need for this exhibition that I’m doing tomorrow round at Francois’ place at Barrot.

Meanwhile, here at home we seem to have had something of a disaster. I can’t find anything in the garden as plants and weeds have overgrown everything, and a tree has fallen down and flattened half my crops. That’s not good news at all.

And in other sad news, I learnt today that Caroline’s cat Bigsy has crossed the Rainbow Bridge. Bigsy was 17 and yet had been in excellent health up until quite recently. But she had rapidly deteriorated this last few weeks and when I saw her the other day she was really poorly and it was only a matter of time. But at least she went in her own time and her own place, amongst friends.

Tuesday 14th September 2010 – I haven’t done a tap today.

Well, that’s not strictly true – after breakfast I started on the website for this season’s adventures for Pionsat’s football club. Even though I might not be there as much as I have been in the past that is no reason for ignoring it and I already have match reports for four games.

When the battery went flat in the laptop I went outside to see what the postie had brought me. I was hoping it might be good news, after all it’s been a long time since I’ve had any. And – to my surprise if not total astonishment ……

…. Yes, I’m very quick with the criticism of French public service and beauraucracy (and not without reason in many circumstances) and so I ought to be just as quick with the praise. And so hats off to the lady in the Prefecture at Clermont Ferrand. Not only did my International Driving Licence arrive today, attached to it was a new bright and shiny French Drivers Licence with medical certificate for driving lorries and buses and also for cars and vans pulling heavy trailers. This latter bit is very important as a French driving licence specifically states that a car or light van pulling a heavy trailer (one up to 3.5 tonnes laden weight) is fully authorised. And of course, what is the total laden weight of our new trailer?

A short while later Bill came round. And he stayed here having a really good chat until quite late in the afternoon. I couldn’t download a driver for his old printer – it’s not supported – and in any case he told me the price of the ink cartridges he needed to buy to fire it up. Over €50, he said, so I pointed him in the general direction of these Epson SX115 all-in-one things that we have been buying. Complete with ink cartridges, it costs a mere €49.50 and the replacement inks are €4:00 for the black and €15.99 for the three colour cartridges.

We were also looking at dial-up modems (broadband hasn’t got to him yet) and the cost is unbelievable. They are clearly a breed close to extinction. But we did find that Orange was offering a basic internet connection on “dial-up” for just €10:00 per month so as he is going to Montlucon tomorrow he’ll stop by the Orange shop to see what they can do for him.

We spent a while looking at photos of old cars and so on, and the discussion turned round to next summer. He has an old Peugeot 106 at his place that hasn’t gone anywhere for a while and isn’t worth anything much as it’s right-hand drive. No-one else wants it so we’ve decided that we will bring it round here and strip it, and then prepare it for grass-tracking. Bill was a racing driver of sorts in his youth and I reckon it won’t take too much persuasion to get him behind the wheel again. And in any case we need to find something else to do in the summer when there’s no footy.

He had a good look around the Ebro and reckons that he will help me have a bit of a play with that too when I can make some space (whenever that might be).

But I also got to thinking again as well. Terry and I have a scaffolding and a heavy duty trailer between us. He has this amazing pressure-washer and I have a big diesel generator. Simon has a huge crepi machine. You can see where I’m going with this. We have all the basics of a little plant hire business here. A big petrol cement mixer which you can buy really cheaply round here and which I can fit my single cylinder diesel engine to is something else we can consider. I reckon that there might be some mileage in exploring avenues such as this.

Once Bill had gone the phone rang twice and each time it was someone reading War and Peace to me and it wasn’t worth starting anything after that. But still, things are slowly progressing and that’s a good sign.