Tag Archives: train issues

Saturday 15th January 2022 – HERE I ALL AM …

… not actually sitting in a rainbow, but sitting in my nice comfortable chair in my office thinking that Barry Hay was absolutely right when he said “there’s one thing that I can tell you, man, and that is that it’s good to be back home”.

And after one of the most uneventful journeys that I have ever had too.

In fact the only thing that went wrong during the trip was that the ticket collector caught me having a crafty bite out of my butties. Since 3rd January 2022 it’s against the law to eat on public transport. So he had a good moan at me about it.

The morning started quite bizarrely because although the alarm was due to go off at 05:00 I had left my bed a long time before hand and was busy drinking a coffee and making my sandwiches when the alarm did go off.

Despite the somewhat reduced sleep, I still managed to go off on several voyages during the night. I’d picked up my daughter (!!!) from Crewe Railway Station and we had to go to Edge Hill in Liverpool to catch a boat so we hired a car and drove there. Everyone else stayed on the train. At Edge Hill we had to board this boat to go across the ocean but I can’t remember where now. It involved stepping onto this beach where there were 3 wild animals, an elephant, a tiger and a third animal. The tiger was extremely playful but nevertheless it unnerved me quite a lot as I was trying to walk around this island. It kept trying to pretend to stalk me by getting behind me and attacking me. I had to turn round to face it and chase it away. Then the elephant joined in and started to push me around with its tusk. This was starting to become really out of hand. I had the feeling that this elephant, if I let it, was going to do far more than just play around with me. I told the person who was with me, whoever it was, that if they didn’t do anything to control these animals the elephant was going to have a bullet through the brain. They insisted that it was just being playful but it wasn’t very playful as far as I was concerned and I was determined to deal with this elephant permanently either by having it taken away or else by the fact that I was going to shoot it and I’d do the same to the tiger as well if they didn’t organise themselves any better and control their animals

This was the dream about the “Hawkwind” group about which I’d been thinking. There were a couple of girls called Aral or Araf, something like that, who had joined as well but that was all it was really, about the two groups and merging together to perform those Hawkwind tracks that I had mentioned and I can’t remember anything else about it (and I’d love to know what I missed recording that made me dictate this in this particular way).

I was in Canada last night. I’d just arrived. I’d been to a car auction and there was someone there trying to sell one of these minivan things. He didn’t want very much money for it – about £700 or £800 – but it was a non-runner and needed a lot of work doing to it. It was really only suitable for using as a shed or something. There was a big argument going on between a woman and the auctioneers and a couple of other people about this. The next lot to be offered was an old panel van, the type from the 1940s or 50s. I was talking to the girl. This had no engine in it or anything like that so I said “well if it’s only for a garden shed this is what I’d use as it has no windows in it for a start. It turned out that she was only looking for $50 for it and that was much more reasonable.

Then I ended up at my niece’s house. She was saying something like they could only have one egg delivered by the ‘phone. She gave me a letter than hadn’t been opened and asked me to deal with it. It was something about some company stopping deliveries to the house. I rang them up to find out what had happened. It turned out that there had been a delivery to the house 2 years ago but no-one had signed for it so they were recommending to courier companies that they no longer delivered here. That would stymie just about everything for what was going on in Canada with her and so on so I rang up the tyre depot to speak to her daughter. I asked if she knew anything about this company. She replied that that was the company she dealt with. I asked her about this parcel. She said that she remembered it so I told her that she had to ring them back straight away and explain the situation to them otherwise we aren’t going to have any more deliveries. That will bring the business to a halt. She sounded drunk on the phone, something like that, and I couldn’t get any sense out of her. I carried on talking to her but it was still extremely difficult. Trying to give her the phone number was extremely complicated because she wasn’t paying any attention to anything that anyone was telling her. I thought “this is going to end in tragedy, isn’t it?”

martelarenplein leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022There’s a reminder alarm that goes off at 05:30 but at that time I was already down the street on my way to the railway station.

Of course I can’t go and look for a train without checking on how the work in the Martelarenplein is progressing. And the answer to that is, unfortunately, “slowly”. They don’t seem to have made very much progress at all since we were here four weeks ago.

It’ll probably be just the same when I come back here in four weeks’ time, if I do. At the rate at which I’m going, I’m not convinced that I’ll still be here in four weeks’ time. I feel as if my battery has gone completely flat.

557 am 96 multiple unit gare de leuven railway station Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022There’s a choice of three trains to take me to Brussels – the 06:08 stopper, the 06:11 that goes via the airport and the 06:31 direct, all of which arrive at roughly the same time so it makes no difference really which one I catch.

However, the airport train was one of the very comfortable AM96 multiple units. It was already in the station too and looked quite warm and inviting – it was absolutely taters outside – so I clambered aboard that one.

Having gone the long way round, it was 06:58 when it pulled into the Gare du Midi and that left me 45 minutes to wait for my train to Paris. I can cope with that, even if I can’t find anywhere warm and comfortable to sit. I hate these huge, draughty stations where you can’t ever keep out of the wind.

TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt 4538 PBA gare du midi brussels Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022Much to my surprise, the train was announced a long time before the usual 15 minutes. And even more surprisingly, we were actually allowed to board it.

It was quite empty this morning so we had plenty of space to spread out. Not the usual “crammed in like sardines” situation. I made myself comfortable and listened to my Hawkwind concert – the one that I had prepared on my way to Brussels on Wednesday.

And during the journey I did some more work on making notes on the Flatey Book and I could have done more than I did but to tell the truth, I had something of a “relax” for part of the journey.

At the Gare du Nord it took me a few minutes to find a metro ticket that worked, and then I was able to board probably the most crowded metro train that I’ve ever seen

place du 18 juin 1940 paris france Eric Hall photo January 2022At the Montparnasse metro station I came up into the Rue du Départ, plumping for the easier walk on level ground rather than up and down the steps in the labyrinth.

Behind where I come out of the bowels of the earth is the Boulevard Montparnasse and the Place du 18 Juin 1940. I wlked from down that way somewhere when I did my TRAVERSEE DE PARIS during the strike of public transport.

The walk in the opposite direction was quite straightforward and it’s quite depressing to think that I hadn’t thought about walking on the surface beforehand.

At the station it was much quieter than when I was here four weeks ago and I even managed to bag a comfortable seat with a power point.

84564 gec alstom regiolis gare montparnasse paris france Eric Hall photo January 2022No prizes for guessing which one was my train to Granville.

And even more so when the red lights came on with about 15 minutes to go before we were due to depart.

When the train was called, we trooped off to find out seats. Mine was right down at the far end of the train near the driver. And once again, the train was empty. 12 carriages and I reckon that the passengers on the train could have had a carriage each.

On the way home I listened to my concert again and read a book about a cavalry unit from Michigan during the American Civil War. And tried rather unsuccessfully to eat my sandwiches.

84559 gec alstom regiolis gare de Granville railway station Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022Our train was made up of two 6-car units and I’d been in the front unit. I hadn’t photographed that in Paris so I took a photo of it on my way out of the station at Granville.

First stop was at the Carrefour down the hill from the station. A pizza isn’t a pizza without mushrooms on it and they sell 250-gramme punnets at €0:99 so if I can’t go to LeClerc for my loose ones, I’ll pick them up here.

And that reminds me. I’ve run out of pizza dough so I need to make some more tomorrow.

The town was fairly quiet this afternoon with no tourists and I took the back way home anyway so I had even less to worry about – except for the ambulance that nearly ran me down in a back street. And then reversed back to have another go seeing as he had missed on the way past.

replacing bricks on wall rue des juifs Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022Going up the hill towards home dragging my suitcase behind me was something of a struggle and I was glad to stop halfway up and eat my butties.

There was also some work on the wall in the Rue des Juifs that I’d missed. Some of the capping bricks had crumbled away and they have now been replaced. I suppose that they will be back on Monday to point them.

Back here I had a coffee and collapsed into my chair without moving for a good couple of hours. All of this travelling is exhausting me and the final climb is killing me off, I reckon. And if they can’t find the problem at the hospital, I suppose that I’m going to be stuck like this.

Tea was some of those small breadcrumbed soya fillets with veg and potatoes. Really quite delicious. I needed that.

And now I’m off to bed. I’m absolutely whacked after my early start and my trek home. A good sleep will do me good, so just watch someone phone me up or something.

Saturday 20th November 2021 – IT SEEMS TO ME …

… that you’ either getting photos or dictaphone entries right now – one or the other and not both.

But over the course of the next few days things will be brought up to date. But then that’s the story of my life these days, isn’t it?

gare montparnasse rue du départ paris France Eric Hall photo November 2021And while we’re on the subject of photos and stories of my life, look at this photograph.

For four and a half years I’ve been struggling through the underground labyrinth from the Gare Montparnasse to the metro station, going up and down flights of stairs like there’s no tomorrow, struggling with suitcases and all kinds of luggage.

Today, I walked up two half-flights of stairs and then up an escalator, and then you can see what I have to overcome in order to reach the Gare Montparnasse. Down at the end of the Rue du Départ in the distance you can see the station, one street that’s straight and level, with the only issue being to wait for the traffic lights so I can cross the road.

How easy is this compared to how I used to travel?

It might have been even easier had I had a good night’s sleep last night. But I don’t sleep very well at all in the beds at this place in Leuven and last night was no exception.

martelarenplein leuven Belgium photo November 2021It didn’t take me long to tidy everything up, make my sandwiches and pack, and I was on the road by 05:35

When I arrived in Leuven on Wednesday I had intended to take a photograph of the Martelarenplein in the daylight but I forgot and so I took a photo on my way into the station.

Of course, you can’t see the work very well because there is a fence and a covering all around it and I have to poke the camera through whatever gap I can find.

martelarenplein leuven Belgium photo November 2021And the work has now spread pout right onto the front of the station building.

They are uprooting all of that now and it looks as if they are about to replace it with a different kind of paving block, and as for why they would want to do that I don’t know.

In the foreground we can see some more tactile pavement of the type that we saw on Monday, and in the background you can see the fence with the covering over it to stop nosy people like me poking cameras in to photograph the work.

08187 class 08 electric multiple unit gare de leuven railway station Belgium photo November 2021It was 05:55 when I set foot on the station platform.

Having completely forgotten that it was early on Saturday, I found that the next express to Brussels was at 06:33 and it was freezing. However there was a local stopper, an 08 class multiple unit, leaving at 06:08.

Although it arrives at Brussels-Midi at the same time as the express, it’s a lot warmer and more comfortable inside the train than sitting on the platform so I clambered aboard. And so I did, and we set off bang on time.

Thalys PBKA 4306 gare du midi brussels Belgium photo November 2021Our train pulled in at 07:00 and my train to Paris doesn’t leave at 07:43 so I had to loiter around in the cold for a while because like most railway stations, Brussels-Midi is a freezing, draughty station with nowhere to sit out of the wind and the cold.

The train was one of the PBKA – Paris Brussels Cologne Amsterdam – units and although these are quite old now, the are quite comfortable and I was glad to be able to be allowed on board early.

It was packed too, with hardly and empty seat. It seems that the 07:13 that I used to catch is no longer running so everyone piles on board this one. I had a young lady sitting next to me but she didn’t say a word throughout the whole journey.

Well, not that I would know too much about the whole journey because I was … errr … resting for about half of it.

As I mentioned earlier, the trip from the Gare du Nord to Gare Montparnasse was the easiest that I have had to date, but when I reached Gare Montparnasse, the wheels came off.

There’s already a 75-minute wait on the freezing, draughty concourse of the railway station but I did notice that the train that I should be catching hadn’t yet arrived from Granville. We were supposed to leave at 10:54 but it hadn’t even come in by then.

By now I was frozen to the marrow so I went of to buy a coffee and as usual, exactly as you might expect, while I was distracted the train pulled in so I had to struggle on board with a suitcase, a laptop bag, a bag with my lunch in it and a full mug of coffee and just two hands to hold it all.

84569 gec alstom regiolis gare de Granville railway station Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021As a result I couldn’t take a photo of my train – I’m not an octopus – and of course it had to be the rear of a two-trainset unit so I had to do the best that I could at Granville.

It was 11:36 when we eventually set off and for a change I was feeling rather dynamic and I’m not sure why, but I actually did some work on the train back home which makes a change.

Another thing that I did was to finish off reading a book that I had started to read a long time ago, the account of Parry’s voyage in Hecla and Fury which resulted in the latter being left behind on a beach on Somerset Island in 1829.

Her anchors were recovered and regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we went TO SEE THEM IN 2014

84567 84565 gec alstom regiolis gare de Granville railway station Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021Having left Paris 40-odd minutes laten we were just over an hour late arriving in Granville and that filled me full of despair. I really could have done without that.

First thing that I did was to take a photo of the front bit of the unit on which I travelled. And then I took one of the front of the unit that was pulling me along. That’s the one on the left.

Being so late they had hauled another unit, the one on the right, out of the sheds to do the return trip back to Paris.

On the way down into town I called in at the Carrefour. Whatever else that might or might not happen, I can’t do without my mushrooms for my Sunday pizza. Not at any price.

For a change I took a new route through the town centre to avoid the crowds and thus it was maybe a little easier to walk.

It was still necessary for me to stop a few times on the way up the hill towards here, one stop of which was at the viewpoint overlooking the inner harbour.

marite belle france joly france philcathane port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021We have Belle France and one of the Joly France boats, the newer one of the two with the step in the back, moored together just down below.

Marité is down there too of course and over on the far side is the trawler Philcathane, moored where the gravel boats used to tie up. It looks as if we’ve seen the last of them.

And on the quayside is another shrink-wrapped boat. This kind of work is proving to be quite lucrative for the little Jersey Freighters.

boulevard des terreneuviers Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021On the way up the hill I noticed that the diversion signs had gone and the Rue Cambernon was open to traffic.

Accordingly I glanced down the Boulevard des Terreneuviers to see what was happening to the workmen’s compound. And there it was! Gone! And never called me mother!

What I shall have to do on Monday on my way to my physiotherapy is to go and see how they have finished off the work there.

Back at the apartment I struggled up the stairs into the apartment and crashed down in my chair for a good while to recover. I’d had a long hard journey.

Having backed up my computer with the files off the laptop I then went for tea. I had some falafel left over from Leuven so I finished them off with some pasta.

No washing-up tonight as the water is cold. And it won’t be warm until tomorrow. Anyway I’m too tired to do it so I’m going to vegetate for a while and then go off to bed. A good sleep will do me good but that remains to be seen.

And next morning (well, afternoon actually) I was able to bring up to date the journal with details of my voyages. On Friday night I was in my Welsh class. There was a teacher and a girl and then I turned up. That made two of us. At first I couldn’t understand what was happening because my screen was just so different from how it normally was but I eventually settled down. The girl had to leave nut another guy turned up. We were talking about going to the restaurant but he asked me “have you eaten anything yet? Are you going for a meal afterwards?” I replied “I don’t have any plans as such”. Then the girl came back by which time we had a man teacher, a change from a woman and we had to go back to read this article that we had just read a couple of minutes ago.

Later on I was with Shearings and a meal that we were having as though we’d all been away for a weekend somewhere, all the employees. I worked out where the girls were sitting so I picked a seat that was behind there so I could see them. I put down my stuff and went to find some bread to toast. Someone turned up and sat at my seat. I made myself some toast and went back and had them clear off and I sat down. I wanted some more but couldn’t find any bread. In the end, in the kitchen I found a pile of fruit bread and made myself some toast from that. Someone else came and sat down on my seat again. I thought that I would move them again in a minute. Then there was no coffee left, no orange juice left. In any case these girls hadn’t come down. I thought “this is turning into a right old mess, this is”.

Wednesday 8th September 2021 – I HAVE HAD …

… a nightmare this afternoon after I came home from the physiotherapist – a real nightmare

new fishing boat port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021But more about that anon. Let’s first say “hello” to the New Kid On The Block.

If that boat had been in and around the harbour previously, I would have been sure to have noticed it with its pretty distinctive, if not garish colour scheme.

She seems to be fitted out as an inshore fishing boat, the kind that fishes for shellfish, and she’s local to some extent in that her registration number begins with “CH” indicating that she’s registered in Cherbourg, so she obviously belongs somewhere up the coast here.

She’s not easy to miss so I’ll have to keep my eye open to see if she hangs around for a bit.

Anyway, this morning I didn’t hang around at all. As soon as the alarm went off I fell out of bed and went to take my medication.

Once that was out of the way I finished off the computer that I’d been repairing. While I was writing up my notes last night I was thinking of a way round accessing the files on the old hard drive that was locked in “administrator only” mode and because it was in a caddy, there was no way of entering the admin password.

Well there is, actually, if you think about it and it’s not for nothing that I have 32GB of RAM these days in the big desktop machine. Mind you, I was there until almost 01:00 doing it this morning fighting my way in but by the time that I’d finished everything was now on an external drive.

So this morning it was a case of loading it back up and performing a compare with the directory names. These days Windows writes its own and is no respecter of case so I had to make sure that the names on the external drive corresponded with the names that Windows created, otherwise that would have caused more problems.

Once that was all finally done, I could turn my attention to last night’s voyages. One of our number was due home at about 19:00 from her work in Stockport so about 18:30 mother started to fill the oven and warm it up ready to start cooking and baking the bread. The oven was on and everything was in there but she didn’t show up. We wondered where she’d got to – she’d left no messages or rung any of us to say that she was going to be late. We were puzzled as to where she was. It was getting close to Christmas and we had all of out Christmas shopping to do, all that kind of thing and we couldn’t really afford to be wasting several hours here and there while someone goes off gallivanting and we have work to do. One of the people in this house was a little girl probably about 8 or 9 or something. There was a game on the market, like a multilingual game about being in charge of a fire engine. Part of the publicity was about a house that was burning down. I’d already seen this game once in English but the publicity that we saw just now was being displayed in Welsh. Then she said that she was going to be visiting Aberhonddu and I was impressed that I said that in my sleep rather than the English “Brecon”. I thought that it was strange that I’d heard nothing about that so I asked how she was going. She said that they were going by aeroplane which I thought was a really weird way for a school trip to be setting off like that with schools so strapped for cash.

Another large pile of arrears disappeared too and now there are only 5 of them.

The rest of the morning was spent looking through my collection of photos from 2006-07-08 for 9 or 10 significant ones that currently have a very important meaning. I eventually found them too, after a great deal of difficulty too

After lunch I had a quick shower and then headed out for my physiotherapy.

delivery van transshipping porte st jean Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021Just out at the back here we have yet another delivery that can’t make it through the Porte St Jean into the old walled town.

It’s not for me to say anything … “not that that’s ever stopped you in the past” – ed … but this is a local delivery from a local company, and so I thought that they might be aware of the difficulties of delivering to the old town.

They don’t really need a vehicle of that size to deliver their domestic appliances ao surely a smaller one that can pass underneath the walls would have been a better bet.

peche a pied port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021Out in the Baie de Mont St Michel the tide is well out this afternoon, so we have some people out there at the pêche à pied.

Not that the pêche à pied is anything that interests me over-much but were it to do so, I wouldn’t be doing it just there right at the entrance to the harbour where the boats pass by directly overhead.

What is interesting about this photo is that back in the early part of the year we saw the big earth-moving machines down there digging out the sandbank that forms to the right in the harbour mouth. It didn’t take too long for it to come back again, did it?

thora unloading port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021While I was walking on down the Rue des Juifs I could see a familiar antenna sticking up and visible from above the walls, so I went to the viewpoint overlooking the port for a good look.

Sure enough, our old friend Thora is back in town this afternoon. And a very clean and spruced-up Thora too. When she first came into port a few years ago she was looking beautiful but the weather and the sea had taken a dreadful toll of her.

But now at least on the superstructure above the waterline, she’s looking really tidy with a fresh coat of paint. I wonder if they’ll take her out of the water at some point and paint below the waterline.

unloading vehicles from thora port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021By the time that I arrived at the viewpoint, it looked as if I’d missed the exciting bit.

The big crane was just lifting its jib up and away from the lorry down there, so it looks as if Thora has brought into port that motorhome and trailer that are on the back of the lorry.

It’s quite possible that this has been the repatriation of a broken-down motorhome and the freight and transport charges via St Malo have made them think about another way of bringing it home to France from the Channel Islands.

roadworks diversion rue couraye Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021From the port I headed off up the Rue Couraye toward the physiotherapist.

Near the top I stumbled across another diversion in the street. Roadworks in the Rue du Boscq by the looks of things so I shall go that way and check them out on my way home.

At the physiotherapist’s I was put through my paces with a different collection of exercises today. He’s certainly making me work in there and I hope that it’s going to be doing me some good. I need to be much better than this if I want to do any good in the future.

roadworks uprooting railway line rue du boscq Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021On the way back, I went down to the Rue du Boscq to see what was happening.

To the immediate left where these concrete pipes have been dropped, that was where the old railway line down to the port used to run. They’ve ripped that out as far as down here now by the looks of things.

Then there’s the street itself. The surface has been ripped out and is probably going to be resurfaced in the near future, with new drains (hence the concrete pipes).

Somewhere underneath all of this is a little river that flows down to the port. Wouldn’t it be nice if they were to remove the culverting and open it up. But there’s little chance of that.

uprooting railway line boulevard louis dior Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021That photo was taken to the left at the bottom of the hill. This is the photo taken looking to the right.

You can see the railway lines embedded in the road but further on, they’ve been ripped up. This was the part of the line that we saw them dismantling from the other end when we were off on our way to leuven one morning.

It’s really a shame to see the railway pulled out like this. It really marks the end of an era, signifying that the port is no longer important enough to warrant a railway connection. All of the seafood goes by road now, and we’ve seen the refrigerated lorries at the Fish Processing Plant.

It’s not really encouraging when you consider the drive for carbon neutrality.

On the way back to home I dropped into an estate agent’s. There’s a project to convert an old bank building into apartments and the sign has been on there for as long as I’ve been living here. I went to ask what was the latest state of play and, basically, we’re no further on that we were 4.5 years ago at all.

bouchot beds donville les bains people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021The climb back up the hill was a little easier so while I was here I went to look at the beach to see what was happening.

There had been a terrific thunderstorm and rainstorm this morning that had soaked everything in sight so even though the storm had long gone, I was surprised to see so many people on the beach as there were.

With the tide being way out right now, the bouchot beds out at Donville are well out of the water. And they stretch for miles too. You can see the tractors and trailers out there harvesting the crop while they are clear of the water.

Back here my problems really began when I returned. I had my banana smoothie and came in here to drink it. Instead I fell asleep for another 90-minute marathon and I could have well-done without this afternoon.

And then disaster struck. All of the cheap seats on the train to Leuven and back have gone – in fact my favourite train, the 7:17 back, is fully booked up and there’s no seat at all. There’s no room at my favourite bolt-hole either so I’ve had to shack up at an Ibis Budget.

That’s not the worst of it either. My credit card isn’t recognised by my card reader – it will only recognise the previous card. But that is blocked of course because the more recent one has replaced it. And then my Belgian Visa Debit card won’t work for some reason either.

In the end I had to pay with my French Mastercard and I’m not at all happy about that. All in all, I’ve had a disaster today as far as all of that goes.

Tea was pasta and a vegan burger and still no dessert (I’ve lost 100 grammes since Monday) so I’ve come back in here to write up my notes and then have an early night. My appointment at the doctor’s is … gulp … 08:30 and I’m not looking forward at all to that. Not at all.

Saturday 17th July 2021 – AS BARRY HAY ONCE …

… famously said – “one thing that I gotta tell you, and that it’s good to be back home”.

And having spent a couple of hours collapsed on my chair in my office, I can’t do any more than agree with him

This morning was a dreadfully early start – 04:25 when the alarm went off and I crawled out of bed feeling pretty awful, as you might expect.

There were my sandwiches to make and my packing to do and then a pile of cleaning up, and to my surprise it was all of 05:15 when I’d finished so I reckoned that I might as well head off for the railway station.

martelarenplein gare de Leuven railway station Belgium Eric HallOne thing about the camera on my telephone is that it’s not very good in the dark.

One of the construction projects in the town that has been going on for far too long with little signs of finishing is the rebuilding of the Martelarenplein, “Martyr’s Square”, outside the railway station. This is something that has been dragging on for years and it looks as if it will be going on for a long time yet.

It’s difficult to understand why these projects take so long to complete. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that there have been endless projects of all sorts going on here and which have dragged on and on and on.

class 18 electric locomotive 1812 gare de Leuven railway station 	Belgium Eric HallIt was 05:35 when I made it onto the station, to find that the train to Oostende was running late.

As I arrived on the platform so did the train and here’s a rather blurred photo of it, because the ‘phone isn’t up to very much in this kind of light.

The locomotive is one of the Class 18 electrics, the workhorses of the Belgian railway system, pulling a rake of double-deck coaches. I found a quiet spec in the front compartment over the bogie, and settled down for my trip into Brussels.

And no-one came to bother me, not even a ticket inspector. He was probably asleep in his compartment somewhere near the rear of the train.

sign about train cancellations gare du midi brussels Belgium Eric HallWe pulled into Brussels-Midi just after 06:00 and while I was here I had a look at the indicator board to see where my train might be.

But this notice caught my eye and it was worth photographing. The railway network in the east of the country has been badly hit by the flood and there are piles of trains that have been cancelled as a result.

“If you are implicated in this notice, please don’t come to the station. Postpone your journey” – in other words, there are no alternative means of transport to connect up these towns. That tells you all that you need to know about the damage to the transport infrastructure.

The trains to Germany were cancelled too. With Liège 6 feet under water and the Rhine and its tributaries overflowing, all of that has taken a knock as well and it will be a while before these services are reinstated.

TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt 4513 PBA gare du midi brussels Belgium Eric HallLook at the time now!

It’s 06:37, I’ve been here for half an hour already, and my train has now come in. It’s one of the PBA – Paris-Brussels-Amsterdam TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt trains that is running the 07:17 to Strasbourg. I take it as far as Lille Europe where I change trains.

We weren’t allowed on the train for 10 minutes while they cleaned it, and then we could all pile aboard.

And those of us on the platform side of the train were treated to the sight of a bag-snatcher snatching a bag from the train on the other side, the 07:00 to Marseille. The security staff managed to recover the bag but not the thief. The police turned up a couple of minutes later, presumably to make further enquiries.

We set off bang on time and I tried to work but there was no electricity on the train and the battery flattened itself quite quickly and that held me up.

At Lille Europe we all piled out and then there was the stagger across the town to Lille Flandres railway station.

TGV Reseau Duplex 225 gare du lille flandres france Eric HallThere isn’t much time to cross town before my train is due to leave. It was already in the station and the platform when I arrived.

It’s one of the TGV Réseau Duplex trainsets – at least, this end of it is, and I don’t know what’s on the front of it. I eventually found my carriage but these are quite cramped and there isn’t much room in the overhead luggage racks for all the stuff that I was carrying, so I dug myself in in the little phone lounge at the top of the stairs and there I sat.

It’s not possible to work there though so I spent most of the journey asleep. But at least the laptop and the telephone could recharge themselves while we were on the move to Paris.

TGV POS 4406 gare du nord paris france Eric HallAt the Gare du Nord in Paris I could have a look and see what the front trainset of my train to Paris was.

It’s one of the TGV POS units that used to work the eastern part of France and into Southern Germany until they were replaced by the next-generation machines.

Wandering off under my heavy load, because you won’t believe just how much this medication weighs, I made it to the platform of the Metro just as a train pulled up and to my surprise there was an empty seat right by the door.

It whizzed me off to the Gare Montparnasse where I wandered about aimlessly in the ill-signposted station until I found the correct escalator to take me up to the fourth floor from where the mainline trains depart

84572 gec alstom regiolis gare montparnasse paris france Eric HallMy train always departs from the platforms at the far end of the station so I wandered off that way.

There was one of the Normandy trains in at the platform and I assumed that it was mine. And there was an empty seat in that little corner that I discovered a few weeks ago from where I could keep an eye on things.

15 minutes to go, the platform number flashed up on the display screen and it was indeed my train that I had seen, so we all piled on board.

And I do mean “all piled” too because there wasn’t even one empty seat on the train. Travelling to Granville on a Saturday morning in summer with everyone going on holiday is not a very good idea. Of course I’m not usually here at this time of year – I’m usually wandering around Canada somewhere at this time of the year.

We were so crammed in that it wasn’t easy to work this afternoon on the train, but what I dd manage to do for yesterday’s journal entry is now on line and I’ll finish off the rest of it tomorrow maybe.

84567 gec alstom regiolis bombardier 82648 gare de granville railway station france Eric HallIt was quite a transformation when we arrived in Granville – bang on time with no obstructions or delays. Cold, damp and cloudy weather had given way to brilliant sunshine.

So while I stopped to organise my luggage I took a photo of the trains in the station. My train was a combination of two trainsets – I’d been in the rear one and here on the right is the front one.

To the left is one of the Bombardier units that works the service between Rennes and Caen and on which I’ve travelled a couple of times going to Coutances and St-Lô.

So into the heat I set off. Not down through the Parc de Val es Fleurs because I couldn’t manage the suitcase down the steps. Instead I went down the Rue Couraye into town.

old cars renault 8 rue couraye granville france Eric HallAnd I’m glad that I did because once more I came across another old car.

And this one is a real old car as well – A Renault R8. This was the car that was launched in 1962 with the aim of replacing the famous Dauphine and stayed in production until 1973 in France, although the model continued to be built in other countries until as late as 1976.

One of my teachers, Mr Firth, at Primary School had one of these and that one must have been one of the very first right-hand drive ones to roll off the production line. He took me to play in a football match for our school, my only representative honour, in early 1965.

old cars renault 8 rue couraye granville france Eric HallAs I was taking a photo of the car, some tourist walked right in front of me and spoiled my photo. I had to retake it.

But the whole town was heaving with tourists, getting in everyone’s way. At one point I ran my suitcase over the foot of someone who was obstructing the pavement. They really get on my nerves.

The crawl up the hill in the Rue des Juifs was appalling and I had to stop several times to catch my breath. I felt every step of the way in this heat and I don’t want to be doing this again if it keeps on like this.

Taking the bus is a sign of defeat, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, but one of these days pretty soon I’m going to have to throw in the towel. All of this medication is killing me

marite victor hugo port de granville harbour france  Eric HallOne of the places where I stopped to catch my breath was at the viewpoint overlooking Marité‘s place in the harbour.

People were streaming on board so it looked as if she was about to go out for an evening sail as soon as the harbour gates opened. I wasn’t going to wait around. Once I’d recovered my breath I carried on up the hill.

Here at the apartment I collapsed in my chair and here I stayed for a couple of hours. And then I managed to find the energy to put away the cold food and to drink the coffee that was in my “Adventure Canada” thermos flask. Still quite warm despite having been made over 12 hours.

Tea tonight was out of a tin, and then I came in here to write up my notes. And now I’m off to bed. I’m exhausted, I really am, and it’s just as well that I’m having a lie-in tomorrow. I need it.

Wednesday 24th March 2021 – WHAT A HORRIBLE …

… day I’ve had today.

Everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong today and I’m thoroughly fed up. Instead of arriving at my room at round about 16:30 it was 20:45 when I limped miserably through the door.

The day started off OK with me being out of bed just after the first alarm and I even had a shower and fed the ginger and the sourdough. For some reason though I didn’t do any tidying up. I just didn’t feel like it and that was the start of the day going wrong.

But anyway I set off into town and the railway station.

unloading lorry port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that yesterday we saw a lorry at the loading bay in the inner port dropping off a pile of stuff.

This morning there was another one there dropping off another big load of stuff down there, as I noticed as I walked past. It’s almost a certainty that one of the Jersey freighters is on its way in and my money is on it being Normandy Trader.

Having observed it all for a few minutes I headed off down the hill and through the town, going the back way to the railway station again.

84563 gec alstom regiolis gare de Granville railway station Manche Normandy France Eric HallMy train was already in the station when I arrived so I clambered aboard. Today, it was just 6 carriages, not twelve as usual, and it was pretty empty.

And then all our problems began.

We ground to a halt somewhere along the way and sat there for 50 minutes. It seemed that a car had tried to beat the barrier of a level crossing but failed. We had to wait until they had come along to drag the car away before we could proceed.

As a result, we were an hour late arriving in Paris Montparnasse and I had missed my connectons to Belgium.

And here things became even worse. As I was going down an escalator my legs simply gave way underneath me and I fell heavily to the ground. And I didn’t even have the strength in my legs to pick myself up. A couple of passers-by had to help me very shakily to my feet.

The pain in my right leg right now tells me that my right knee has collapsed.

Having missed the 13:15 to Lille, the next train was at 15:42 and that filled me full of despair. This is what happens when you try to travel in the middle of a pandemic.

TGV Reseau 213 gare du nord paris France Eric HallIt was necessary to wait almost 2 hours, two hours that I couldn’t really spare, before we could board our train.

It’s one of the TGV Reseau double-decker units on which we travel quite regularly to Lille. This train wasn’t particularly busy either and everyone had a seat to themselves. It left Paris a few minutes late but pushed on quite rapidly and we made up the time. We arrived in Lille Flanders railway station bang on time.

Now I had to walk across town to the Lille Europe railway station and in my state I wasn’t looking forward to that. It was something of a disreputable stagger down the street for my part.

TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt 4518 gare lille europe France Eric HallThis is the front end of the train that I was going to catch to Brussels. It was two units coupled together and I was in the rear one.

And I was really glad to see it because I discovered to my dismay at Lille Europe that my next train out of Lille Europe to Brussels was at 18:11. A wait of about 80 minutes. That wasn’t at all what I wanted to hear but there was nothing whatever that I could do.

When I was in Paris I’d looked to see if there was a “Thalys” direct to Brussels. Indeed there was but that meant waiting around at Paris even longer and an extra cost of €68:00 to save about 20 minutes.

TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt 4510 France Eric HallAnyway, my train turned up on time.

Like the front end, the rear end is another one of the PBKA Reseau 38000 units. I suppose that they have been decanted onto this route seeing as much of the TGV network has closed down under the new Covid restrictions.

This train was quite empty too. Despite it being the only train for several hours, it was almost empty too. I had a nice little sleep on board for 20 minutes until we arrived in Brussels and I awoke with rather a start as we pulled into the Gare du Midi.

Being now hopelessly late I had a look in the tow supermarkets in the station for some food as I was in no state to walk all the way down to the ones in Luven later and they would probably be closed by the time that I arrive.

But with nothing at all that I could buy so I went up to catch my train the Leuven.

multiple unit am80 automotrice gare du midi brussels belgium Eric HallIt’s another one of these disreputable AM 80 automotrice multiple units that must be the next sets to go for the chop, old, dirty and graffiti-ridden as they are.

But it was on time, such as it was, and brought me on time into Leuven where negotiating the steps in the station was not the easiest thing that I have done.

Luckily the chip shop around the corner was open so I grabbed a bag of chips and headed for my room. And here I had to wrestle with the door of the safe in order to extract my key. It was not easy as the combination did not accord with the one that they sent me.

But in the words of Marshall MacMahon, “j’y suis, j’y reste” – “here I am and here I’m staying”. I’m not up to going anywhere right now as I’m in agony and I’ll have to do better than this tomorrow if I’m going to make it to the hospital

There’s shopping to do to and I’ve no idea how I’m going to manage this. All will come clearer tomorrow after I’ve had a good night’s sleep and I’m going for that right now.

In fact I had to wait until the following morning before i could listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night. I started off with Marianne going to North America. I pulled up on the airport car park like we would do every 4 weeks when we went. The first thing that we noticed was that there were 2 cars, an MGB sports car and another one that were there the last time that we went. Marianne said “ohh look! There they are again”. “Yes, they are probably saying the same thing about us”. We went into the airport, sat down and had to wait. I noticed that there were a couple of other couples whom we knew by sight who had been with us on previous voyages there. Marianne asked for a breakfast so I went to find the cafe kind of place. They made some toast and a couple of other things and some coffee and I had a slice of toast as well. I took them back out and dropped them on the table but she wasn’t there. She was off doing something. I put the stuff on the table and went to the bathroom. In there I met 1 of the guys whom I’d just mentioned who’d been with us before, and we had a little chat. I looked in the mirror. My hair was overgrown, needed cutting and I was dressed so untidily, shirt and tie everywhere. I thought “God I really could have done with tidying myself up before I’d come away but it’s too late to worry about that now. I went back outside and Marianne had this huge fried breakfast, mushrooms, bacon and egg, beans, sausages, everything and I wondered where on earth she’s got that from. But she was there tucking into this breakfast.

Later I was in New York going to pick up THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR. The night before, I’d met a couple of people, I’d been staying in a …. and so on. We all had to bring our baggage around on board ship the next day. The next morning I was up early and I bumped into a young Japanese American boy who had flown in from South Africa. We had had a chat about the flights to South Africa, all kinds of things. There was a third person who was not actually going with us on this trip. The 2 of us, we set out to go somewhere. Off we went and walked around the town a little looking at the sights. We somehow became separated – he wandered off with this other person. I thought that I had better start back to the ship. I couldn’t realise or remember what time I had to be back. I had this feeling that I was going to be horribly late so I started o panic a little. I ended up in Crewe at the top end of Victoria Street thinking to myself that I would have to get to the boat. it was just them that Julie Driscoll started to sing “Wheel’s On Fire”. As I was walking down Victoria Street I could hear that song playing.

Before that there had been something about the Army. A couple of us had been in the Army and we’d been rounded up to go somewhere. We weren’t particularly military and the Sergeant-Major who was with us was a bit of a swine. It was quite obvious that we were rubbing each other up the wrong way with the way that we were behaving because we had no military precision whatsoever and he was extremely annoyed by this. The place was a total tip and we wanted it tidying up but it was one of those places that was so untidy that we didn’t know where to start. When we first got to this place there was a girl there and we helped her with one or two things and then she went. Then it came round to the time ready to go early in the morning so we started to tidy up. There was some kind of hoist or breaker that we had to bring upstairs. We went downstairs to look for it but down there was even worse with tools and machinery everywhere. We couldn’t find what we were looking for. There were a few things that might possibly have been it but he didn’t seem to think that they were. This ended up being rather a hunt for this rather than a tidy-up. This girl came in and asked if anyone could fix a light for her because the plug wouldn’t reach. The Sergeant and I went to do it. We managed to find an extension cable that we had to cut into 2. This place was just not being tidied up and it was now 17:00 and the next group of people would be arriving imminently. We didn’t have this place tidied at all and it was really looking a mess.

Saturday 27th February 2021 – THAT WAS A …

sncb class AM08 multiple unit gare de leuven railway station belgium Eric Hall… long, long day!

And to give you some kind of clue about it, if you have a look at this image here you’ll see the time that this train is leaving the railway station at Leuven to make its way out to Halle.

It wasn’t even my train either. It was advertised as “Brussels” but it went along the city-centre avoiding lines past Merode, Schuman and that way. I had to wait another 20 minutes for my train to pull into the station.

Having gone to bed at some kind of relatively early hour (like 23:10) I staggered out of bed a couple of minutes after the alarm went off at 05:00. There were my sandwiches to make for lunch (and I’m glad that I did – read on), the packing, some tidying up, and then I could head off to the railway station.

sncb class AM96 multiple unit gare du midi bruxelles belgium  Eric HallIt was at 06:16 when a train to Brussels Midi came into the station. With it being Saturday morning, a lot of the early commuter trains aren’t running.

It’s one of the AM 96 multiple units, te ones with the doughnut ring around the front that make them airtight when two or more are coupled together. And an added novelty, when they are joined in tandem, the driving cabs at the join pivot out of the way so that passengers can pass from one unit to the next.

They are actually quite comfortable for multiple-units and they are quite often used on long-distance routes where passenger numbers don’t warrant a locomotive with carriages.

TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt 4524 gare du midi bruxelles belgium Eric HallWe pulled into Brussels bang on time and I noticed that my train, the 07:17 to Strasbourg, was already in the station. It’s one of the TGV Reseau 38000 units that we travel on quite regularly.

Strangely, and rather uneasily, there were several other TGVs there too. The 06:06 to Marseilles hadn’t left yet and the one after that to Bordeaux was still at the platform. That didn’t seem at all normal to me and I suspected that there was something afoot.

As we waited for them to open the doors so that we could climb in, a hostess came by. She told us that someone had trespassed onto the railway at Ruisbroek and been struck by a passing train. Nothing was heading south towards Lille until the mess had been cleared up.

With nothing else to do, we boarded the train – and waited. And waited.

After about an hour or so they announced that the 06:06 TGV would be leaving “imminently” so we all piled out of our train onto that one. I’d probably missed my train from Paris to Granville by now so it really didn’t make much difference but moving anywhere was better than not moving at all.

We’d been on that one for about an hour or so when they announced that this one wasn’t going to go out either. They would be laying on a fleet of buses to take us to Lille.

But no chance of that. We’ll be there for ever. One thing about train apps on mobile phones is that you can check for other alternatives. And in 5 minutes time there would be a train leaving Brussels for De Panne (coincidentally, the same train that I’d come into Brussels on, but 2 hours later) and 5 minutes after that train were to pull into Gent St Pieters, there’s a local stopping train via Kortrijk to Lille-Flandres.

And then 10 minutes later, there’s an express train from Lille-Flandres to Paris Gare du Nord.

That was enough information for me. I grabbed my things and ran.

sncb class AM96 multiple unit gare de lille flandres railway station France Eric HallAnd here’s my train from Gent to Lille, here in a platform at the Lille-Flanders railway station.

It was one of those mornings when I was fated to travel on a whole fleet of AM96 multiple units. The one that took me to Gent was an AM96 but I wasn’t able to take a photo of that because it was already on the platform when I arrived there and it pulled out almost as soon as I climbed aboard.

And then this one is an AM96 too, but a rather special one, for a few of the fleet are dual-voltage machines designed to run on the French and on the Luxembourg railway networks as well as the Belgian network so that they can operate some cross-border services like this one.

No-one controlled the passengers on either of these two trains – no ticket inspector or anything so I didn’t need to argue or negotiate, which is always good news.

TGV reseau duplex INOUI 210 gare du nord paris France Eric HallThere were ticket inspectors on the turnstiles to the platform where the train to Paris was waiting but they didn’t need much persuading to let me on board.

The train was one of the Reseau Duplex double-decker trains, nice, fast and comfortable. Up on the top deck there’s a kind of small sofa at the top of the steps intended for people to make and receive phone calls instead of doing so in the main seating area disturbing everyone.

They aren’t booked out to passengers so I made a beeline for the sofa and that was where I stayed for the entire journey in relative comfort. A ticket collector came by so I told her my story and she didn’t seem to be bothered at all.

All in all it was quite a painless journey from that point of view.

From Paris Gare du Nord I took the metro to Paris Montparnasse and then went to the station offices to tell them my tale of woe. They weren’t too bothered either particularly. It goes without saying that I’d missed my train but they gave me a ticket for the next one. It meant a wait of about 1 hour and 50 minutes but there wasn’t really any alternative.

84565 gec alstom regiolis gare de Granville railway station Manche Normandy France Eric HallThis train was pretty busy. Luckily they had given me a seat so I was fairly comfortable on the way home.

While I’d been waiting I’d eaten my sandwiches so I spent most of the journey home editing my Greenland photos. It’s nice to have a laptop that is powerful enough to do all of that kind of thing. I managed to shift quite a few by the time that we pulled into the railway station at Granville.

It was 17:45 when I returned home – 3.5 hours later than I was intending. And more than 12 hours after I’d set out from my digs in Leuven. No wonder that I was pretty fed up. It meant that I hadn’t had my couple of hours chilling out before I had to start to do things.

Tea was out of a tin and then I listened to a repeat of my “Strife” concert. If you missed it, it’s available AS A PODCAST.

And now I’m off to bed. I’ve had a very long day and I’m exhausted. And no day off tomorrow as I’m having visitors.

Wednesday 25th November 2020 – THIS IS NO …

… good at all.

Never mind the three alarms this morning. I didn’t wake up until about 10:00.

This is a really sad situation to be in. But then, it’s probably my own fault. I was distracted after finishing off my notes and didn’t go to bed until 01:30. And so I was thinking that I would be lucky to be up at 06:15. Even so, I didn’t think that it would be this late and waste half a day.

Plenty of time to go on a walkabout during the night too.

By now things were advancing with TOTGA and we were definitely a couple. She was definitely living in Gainsborough Road with me. She had brought her animals with her, a couple of cats and a couple of dogs. The cats were very stand-offish as far as I was concerned. One night she went to bed and I had a few things to do so I stayed up. I was wondering about going to bed, and I thought “no, I have a few things to do and I can make the most of it doing them while it’s quiet”. We’d done a furniture removal and we could have removed all of the stuff out of my house with this van but it didn’t quite work out like that with people not being able to keep to a timetable and likely to run off or something like that. I ended up having to take the van back without moving my stuff but I’d removed the other person’s. It was 01:00 or 02:00 and I didn’t feel particularly like going to sleep so I’d done some some more stuff. But I’d made a mistake. I went to press the button on something but ended up pressing the doorbell and thought “God, I’ve awoken everyone in the apartment building now”. I carried on doing what I was doing. For some unknown reason a heavy lorry started up and drove away. I thought “I’m glad that’s not me waking the neighbourhood even more”. Then TOTGA came down and asked “are you going to come to bed or what?”. I had a little laugh and smile to myself and off I went upstairs. She’d changed all of the bedding in the bedroom so I made a remark about it. There was no room for me in the bed because of all these dogs and cats fighting their way around. Suddenly the alarm went off. I looked and it was only 05:00 instead of 07:00. I couldn’t remember how to switch off the alarm. In the end she had to come and do it for me and it was all. That was all very well – I’d lived in this place and she’d only been here half an hour, something like that. I went to get into bed and some of her cats were all curled up with my cats and it all looked like one big happy family until I got into bed when hers started to move. I thought “that’s just typical, isn’t it? It’ll take them a while to get used to me”.

So it wasn’t all bad then during the night. Not ‘arf it wasn’t.

First thing this morning (or what was left of the morning, should I say) was to make the booking for my trip to Leuven. And that’s not going to happen now either. All of the train across the border are cancelled and there’s just the repatriation trains. The one out is on Sunday and costs €155, which costs more than I usually pay for a return ticket. The one back is on Friday but I didn’t even check that.

In theory I suppose that I could drive there in Caliburn but it’s a long way and a lot of organisation so in the end I decided not to go.

They weren’t impressed when I rang them up to tell them but the way I see it, it was fine for them to annul my 4-weekly appointments for 9 months when it suited them so there’s no reason why I can’t annul a 4-weekly appointment for 4 weeks.

Time for hot chocolate and chocolate cake and then I could press on with work. And I’ve been doing another load of stuff of the arrears for my trip to Central Europe in the summer.

There were the usual interruptions during the day. Firstly of course there was lunch. And I do like my sourdough bread. I’m pleased with how it’s turned out although the shape leaves something to be desired. I need it to be taller and not as wide. But it’s no big worry – it’s all about learning as you go along and I’m doing plenty of that.

bunker pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere was also the pause this afternoon to go for my walk around the headland

It’s Wednesday of course so no brats out playing or orienteering this afternoon on the field at the back of the sports ground of the school. I can therefore take a photograph of the lawn and also of one of the bunkers of the old Atlantic Wall that are dotted about here.

That’s the one that they opened up about 18 months ago and about which there is some talk of transforming into a museum of the Atlantic Wall and, presumably, of the Resistance Fighters here.

Whether it will ever be a project that gets off the ground remains to be seen of course

ceres 2 new boat arriving in chantier navale port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallWith nothing else of very great importance going on I walked on around the headland and then ran all the way down the path (seeing as there was no-one about) to the viewpoint overlooking the harbour.

And it looks as if there is going to be a change of occupant in the chantier navale today. We have one of the little inshore seafood harvesting boats being winched up out of the sea by the portable boat lift.

You can see that it’s only just come up out of the sea, with all of the water that’s dripping off it. And yet there’s a van parked by it and workmen who look as if they are inspecting something on the port side. So maybe it’s been in a collision with a rock or a mermaid or something.

And that reminds me. A short while ago I asked one of the local fishermen if he knew the ideal vital statistics of a mermaid. He replied “36 – 24 – €9:99 per kilo”

thora port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd that’s not all of the excitement going on down there this afternoon either.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I mentioned the other day that there was a pile of equipment down on the quayside in the loading bay for the Channel Island freighters and so I expected one of them to be putting in an appearance some time soon.

And so it looks as if today is the day because Thora is down there this afternoon and by the looks of things she’s not long come into port. And I’m glad that I got to see her because with the rapid turnover that we’ve been having just recently I might otherwise have missed her.

And then you lot would be moaning on at me to improve my aim.

trawler cap lihou port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhile I was there looking at Thora into port came another one of our old favourites.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that the trawler Cap Lihou was up on blocks i the chantier navale for what seemed like eternity this summer. But here she is today, just having unloaded at the fish processing plant and now heading into the inner harbour.

But I headed off back home for a hot coffee and to carry on with some work. But my friend with Covid (or who had Covid, should I say) was on line so we had quite a chat again.

Anything to keep up her morale. It’s very important that she keeps a positive outlook. And in any case, I happen to like her.

My hour on the guitar was another one that was very enjoyable – playing along on the bass and singing to a few Hendrix numbers that I used to play in a group in which I played all those years ago, and then later playing lead guitar solos to “Riding The Waves” and “Whisky In The Jar”. I’m still rubbish at bar chords though.

Tea was an aubergine and kidney bean whatsit out of the freezer followed by more raspberry and custard tart. And this worked so well that it’s going to be added tot the menu for future reference.

Just as I was about to go out for my evening runs Rosemary rang up and we ended up chatting for 2 hours and more yet again. By now it was far too late to go out, what with the curfew and all of that, so I’ll have to write that off tonight. I can’t rely on the coppers turning a blind eye too often.

So I’l lgo to bed, still later than I intended. Shopping tomorrow and there’s quite a list so I need to make an early start. But late as it is, I’m not relying on a 6:15 start. I really need to do better than this.

Thursday 5th November 2020 – THIS COMPUTER UPGRADE …

… is taking its time yet again.

When I finally crawled out of bed this morning at about 08:00 it was still on 70%. I’ve no idea why it takes so long to upgrade – and why it should want to upgrade so often after I’d done a clean install.

Tons more stuff on the dictaphone which I transcribed when I returned home.

I was with a girl last night who might have been Ann, something like that. Previously i’d been out with another girl who was very similar to Ann and we hadn’t been on very good terms when we broke up. We were all in this kind of big classroom with long tables and benches doing our work. This other girl had got up to go to the bench for something or other, to fetch a drink of water or food or something. I was already up, wandering around doing something and seen this girl wandering around and thought that it was Ann so I went to wait by the door for her to come. But she didn’t come. Instead it was the other girl walking back to her seat for something and she gave me a bit of a glare as she went back to sit at her seat. I went back to see where Ann was, if it was Ann. She had a boy sitting next to her and the two of them were working on something together. I was waiting for one of them to budge up so that I could sit in the middle of them but she said something like “you aren’t going to need me after this, are you?” I asked “after what? Because after this illness I shan’t be needing anyone”. I was wondering what she was driving at.

Later on last night we were living out on the North Circular Road in London. I don’t remember who I was with now but we certainly had a Ford Cortina Estate. To reach our apartment was rather a complicated affair because there was a road bridge over a big dual carriageway road and the bridge had 3 lanes, the left hand lane of which was to turn left and the other 2 lanes turned right. Nevertheless we had to be in the left lane for turning right otherwise we couldn’t get into the parking area in front of our apartment. That always made for a few things to be extremely complicated. There was much more to it than this but I can’t remember now.

Even later still I was with an Indian politician and 1 or 2 people treated him with a bit of respect and a few others were very patronising, calling him “so and so’s shadow”, that kind of thing. I mentioned to him that I thought that it was pretty awful as far as I was concerned. It turned out that he had actually been someone quite well-known in Government circles and had had a career mapped out for him but somehow it had all gone wrong and he’d been punted back into the wilderness again. We spent a lot of time talking and I realised after a while that what I was actually doing was trying to motivate him to start up again. This led to thoughts in my head that if he does fire up again and I’m there encouraging him, what’s that going to do for my own particular career? That was pretty much an afterthought really. I didn’t think about that at the time until I was well on the way towards doing this.

First thing that I did after my morning coffee was to sort out my rail tickets for going home. There’s just one train to Granville tomorrow – at 16:13 and which is taking almost 40 minutes longer than the usual one so I imagine that it’s “all stations” instead of a “limited stop”. But I don’t have any other choice. I’m not looking forward to not getting home until about 20:30.

From Brussels to Paris there are three trains. But the one that corresponds best with my timetable is at 13:13. There’s a wait of about 1:40 in Paris while I change trains but it’s the best that I can do.

At least I don’t have to have a ridiculously early start in the morning

There was an added complication to booking my ticket. Having to perform the operation on the mobile phone, I couldn’t see the part of the screen where I have to tap in the security number that I received to authorise the transaction. It took about 6 goes before I finally managed to enter it correctly.

And it’s not cheap either – not as cheap as the ticket that I can’t use. But there really is no other choice.

It was a beautiful day today despite being cold and frosty so I went for a nice long walk.

memorial to the dead in the Congo cemetery leuven belgium Eric HallAlison had told me where the big cemetery was so I took a walk out to there this morning. And the first thing that I noticed was this extraordinary relic of a very unwelcome pasts.

The “Belgian Congo” wasn’t Belgian until 1908. Prior to that it was the personal property of the Royal House of Belgium, and it was during this period of the Congo’s history that the inhabitants were the victims of some of the worst atrocities committed by the colonisers.

This plaque on the wall of the cemetery here commemorates the names of Belgians (obviously white ones) who died in the Congo during the period of fhe private ownership of the Kings of the Belgians.

mass grave of cholera victims cemetery leuven belgium Eric HallHaving seen the plaque on the wall, I went for a walk around to see what else I could see of interest.

There were several mounds like this one with wrought-iron crosses set in them – each cross bearing the name of a street in Leuven apparently, from what I could tell. These appear, from what I could tell, to be the mass graves of people who died during the various cholera epidemics on the second third of the 19th Century.

A stark reminder of what awaits the Western World if they can’t bring this current virus under control. Here is clear evidence of the waves in which infectious diseases like this sweep around the World in the days before good sanitation.

commonwealth war graves cemetery leuven bekgium Eric HallBut this is what I had come here to see – or one of the things to say the least.

It’s the Commonwealth Military Cemetery for British and Commonwealth Farces personnel who lost their lives during the two World Wars.

There are a handful of graves from World War I and about a dozen or so from World War II, including what looks like a crew of a multi-engine bomber who lost their lives on 12th May 1944. When I find a reliable internet connection and a reliable computer to take advantage of it, I’ll track down the aeroplane that was involved.

cemetery to the executed civilians leuven belgium Eric HallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that WE FOUND CIVILIAN GRAVES from the wars in the Cemetery at ixelles a few years ago.

Accordingly, I was expecting to find a similar layout here in the cemetery in Leuven and sure enough, I tumbled on it. The wall in the background lists the names of people who were executed by the Germans during the war and who presumably have no known grave.

It would seem that the graves in front with the white headstones are for civilians whose identity was known.

war memorial to the civilian dead cemetery leuven belgium Eric HallBehind it are yet more civilian graves and other wall plaques.

The plaques seem to list the names of the victims who were deported to Greater Germany and who never returned – hundreds of them. There’s also a casket there that is said to contain the ashes of one of the victims from the extermination camp at Buchenwald.

The graves that surround it are also civilian graves but it isn’t clear as to the significance of their burial in that particular location. The headstones here are not as helpful as they are in Ixelles.

war memorial cemetery leuven belgium Eric HallOf course, there’s a war memorial here in the cemetery.

Belgium was very quickly overrun in World War II but in World War I the Belgians hung on right the way through the war and fought to the bitter end. There were several major battles between the Belgians and the Germans in the vicinity of Leuven in the first couple of weeks of August 1914 as well as around Antwerp later and then for the rest of the war in West Flanders

The casualty list was enormous for such a small country and a great many Belgian soldiers were killed, many of whom have no known grave.

watering cans cemetery leuven belgium Eric HallOne of these days when I have time again,I want to make enquiries to find out what became of the civilians who died in the Sack of Leuven but there was no-one around right now.

And so I set out to continue my walk, but not without having a little smile at this arrangement.

There are taps scattered around the cemetery and watering cans lying around for people to use. But it’s like shopping trolleys here, where you have to put your Euro into the slot in order to withdraw the can.

Do they really have people who would want to take a watering can home?

From here I walked through the Phillips complex and then down the street to the railway line, and then followed the path alongside the tracks all the way to the railway station at Heverlee.

sint lambertuskerk heverlee leuven belgium Eric HallThen I threadedmy way through the maze of streets in a north-western direction and ended up at the Sint Lambertusplein where there was this beautiful church.

It’s actually the church of Sint-Jozef and Sint Lambertus and dates from between 1878 and 1880. There have been several previous churches on or near this site, one of which was said to be a wooden chapel dating back to the 8th Century.

The coming of the railway here led to a rapid increase in population so in 1876 plans for a new church were commissioned from the architect L.A.F. van Arenberg

There was a little park at the back of the church so I walked through there and along the street, eventually finding myself at the Stadion den Dreef, the home of OH Leuven.

river dijle leuven belgium Eric HallJust recently we’ve seen several views of the River Dilje that had previously escaped our attention.

Here around the back of the football ground is another view that we haven’t seen before and it’s a really nice rural setting on the edge of town.

I followed the path along the river for a while to see what else I could see down there but there was no bridge to cross over to the other side, so I ended up having to retrace my steps back to the football ground.

stadion den dreef leuven belgium Eric HallStrangely enough, it was not possible to walk all the way around the football stadium either as a couple of the walkway gates were closed.

However I pointed the camera through the fence to take a photograph of the ground again and then wandered off to Carrefour in order to buy a few bits and pieces to make sandwiches for the journey home tomorrow.

No special offers today unfortunately so I came back to my apartment, to find out tha the computer upgrade was complete and, to my surprise, it actually worked.

After lunch I updated the journal entry for yesterday and that took most of the afternoon. This computer is crawling along slowly when the internet is working, so I’ll have to finish it all again once I’m at home.
Tea was burger and pasta followed by fruit salad and sorbet. And then the journal entry for today.

having crashed out a couple of times this afternoon, I’m off to bed right now. It’s going to be a long and stressful journey home tomorrow and I’m not looking forward to it, particularly the arrival back home at some ridiculous hour.

But there’s no choice so I shall have to grin and bear it.

At least it will be good to be back home.

Tuesday 3rd November 2020 – I DIDN’T …

… accomplish very much of my plans today.

The plans all started to misfire last night when I listened to the radio for hours instead of going to sleep. And then I couldn’t doze off once the programme stopped.

Eventually I suppose it must have dropped off, and once I did, I went off on a little voyage.

I was in a psychological thriller again last night, on a couple of occasions too. There were five groups of us, all different colours and we were combining somewhere in some way in which to go off on a voyage but a few people were unstable and led to a few incidents. Everyone was watching closely everyone else until I became alone with someone who then exploded and hot me with a bottle, this kind of thing. Eventually he was overwhelmed and tranquilised. Then we drifted on again but it turned out that it wasn’t this person. He was someone who was suffering from the stress and I ended up alone with the other person who was manifesting allthe signs of everything, and I was hit on the head with a bottle again. This guy escaped through a window to run around the roof. They left him to it. I had to go to the top of the stairs and shout for someone and they came up. They all seemed to occcupy themselves with this guy, not me. I was in a bit of a state. In the end the guy came back in and basically admitted everything. he said “well I suppose that Igoing to be hanged now?” or something. They said “no. We’ll take you away and get you all patched up and cut a few bits out here and a few bits out there and you’ll be fine. All the tlme I was sitting on this sofa. I’d been hit over the head twice with a bottle but no-one was paying the slightest bit of attention to me and my wounds.

Although the alarm went off at 06:00 etc it was about 07:40 when I finally left the bed and after typing out the dictaphone notes, I prepared for today’s Welsh course;

That involved trying to make Zoom work on my mobile phone and for some unknown reason that wasn’t as easy as it might have been. But apart from the fact that it was difficult to see what the tutor was writing or displaying, it worked very satisfactorily on the phone. It’s a good idea that I obtained a digital copy of the course book and uploaded it to the laptop.

The course went quickly today too and I actually felt a lot more confident about it than I have done just recently.

But the bad news came during the course work. The ‘phone was pinging all the way through the lesson and when I looked at the end of the course, I found that my train from Lille to Paris and from Paris to Granville are cancelled. This is going to take some planning, I reckon, if I want to get home.

For lunch, I had finished off the last of the bread so I decided to go off and buy some more.

house with new roof dekenstraat leuven belgium Eric HallSeeing as it was daylight and quite a pleasant afternoon to boot, I decided to retrace my steps of last night, only this time being able to see where I’m going.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that a month or so ago we say them ripping off the roof of one of the houses in the Dekenstraat and so I was interested to see how they had progressed with it.

And by the looks of things, it’s actually completed, the scaffolding has been dismantled and everyone has gone back home. And by the looks of it, they’ve done a pretty good job too.

Onze Lieve Vrouw Ter Koorts vlamingenstraat leuven belgium Eric HallCarrying on along the labyrinth I came to the corner of the Vlamingenstraat. As I said yesterday, I’ve not been down here during the day so I wasn’t aware of what there is to see here;

And here is one of the interesting buildings that I must have missed last night. It’s the Onze Lieve Vrouw Ter Koorts, the Chapel of Our Lady of the Sorrows. It’s another one of these places where originally there was a tree and then there was a statue in the tree, and then people came on pilgrimages to see the statue and so they started to build a chapel for the pilgrims and so on.

It was purchased by the University in 1986 and is now part of the research and archive centre of the university.

tower old city walls sint donatuspark leuven belgium Eric HallAcross the road, the Sint Donatus Park was now opened so that I could go for a walk around there today.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we’ve taken a couple of photos in here before in the distant past. There are quite a few relics of the city’s glorious past in here and the medieval defences are quite prominent here;

Leuven is much more lucky than many cities in Belgium where the medieval defences have been totally swept away. Here, we still have a few walls and towers and as we saw last month round by the River Dijle, they actually are taking some kind of care of them.

scene stage sint donatuspark leuven belgium Eric HallIt’s not just the medieval remains in the park that are worthy of attention;

There’s this stage in here, down at the southern end of the park. I would imagine, not that I have any evidence to support it, that it’s the kind of place where they would have open-air concerts in the summer. That’s the kind of thing that goes on in mist parks.

The painting od the whale is particularly interesting and in fact, the rear of the building seems to resemble the scales of a fish.

Centrum Agrarische Geschiedenis Atrechtcollege Naamsestraat 63 3000 Leuven belgium Eric HallSome of the gates in the park were locked so I found my way out into the Naamsestraat by way of the grounds of the Centrum Agrarische Geschiedenis Atrechtcollege.

This is the Centre for Agricultural History and the students here are studying the heritage and history of rural life, food and agriculture since the 1750s to the present day and have created a knowledge bank of more than 12,000 photos and documents relating to the last couple of centuries;

There’s also a large collection of artefacts but these are housed elsewhere in West Flanders which is a shame because that would have been somewhere that I would have liked to visit.

De Kangxi-Verbiest hemelglobe Centrum Agrarische Geschiedenis Atrechtcollege Naamsestraat 63 3000 Leuven belgium Eric HallIn the courtyard of the Centrum Agrarische Geschiedenis is this really beautiful bronze globe:

It’s a replica of the globe that was used by the Flemish missionary and astronomer Ferdinand Verbeist at the Chinese court in 1763 (the original is still in Imperial Observatory in Beijing) to try to demonstrate that western science was superior to that of the Chinese, something that apparently provoked a great deal of merriment.

Apart from that, Verbiest has a claim to fame in that some suggest that a design of a self-propelled steam-powered vehicle that he drew and about which he wrote in 1672 was actually a working model and this would have been the first “automobile”.

sint michielskerk naamestraat leuven belgium Eric HallDown the road from the College is the Sint Michielskerk.

It’s considered by some to be one of the “Seven Wonders of Leuven” and was declared a National Monument in 1940. It dates from the third quarter of the 17th Century and designed by Father Willem Hesius for the Jesuit Order, who took his inspiration from Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola’s Il Gesu in Rome.

Many people have said that it strongly resembles an altar, an effect that Hesius managed to continue on the outside as well as on the inside.

After the Austrian occupiers dissolved the Jesuit Order, the church then became a Parish Church.

old city walls Redingenstraat Leuven belgium Eric HallRound again through towards the Groot Begijnhof I had to take a little detour from my normal route due to roadworks.

Down the Redingenstraat, another street down which I have never previously set my sooty foot, I came across yet more historical relics, to wit – another length of the old city wall.

It seems that there is a great deal of this wall still standing and one of these days I shall have to make an inventory of what there is. But whatever there is left, it’s a real shame that more effort wasn’t made to retain more of it.

groot begijnhof leuven belgium Eric HallFinally finding my way through into the Groot Begijnhof I could have a little wander around to pass the time,

As I said the other day, this is a place where I would really love to live. Nice and peaceful in some wonderful medieval buildings.

From here I found my way to the Carrefour where I bought my bread and some stuff for pudding. And a few more vegan articles that were reduced for special offer. There was also a 2-kg sack of bread flour “just add water” for just €1:00. Not that I’m expecting it to be much good but at that price I’ll give it a try.

Tea was burger and pasta in tomato sauce followed by peaches and sorbet. And then my notes;

Bed-time now, and then Castle Anthrax tomorrow. They haven’t cancelled my appointment yet but there is plenty of time to go. And then I have to worry about getting home. That’s a job for after my appointment is finished. No need to do anything quite yet as they too are likely to change.

Tuesday 17th March 2020 – BLIMEY! WHAT A CHOICE!

The trains to Belgium are cancelled, as you might expect. And there are no trains from Granville tomorrow anyway.

So do I stay here and die of lack of my cancer treatment, or do I go by some other means and die of the virus?

But more about that later. Firstly, I managed to beat the third alarm again and had a decent start to the morning. I can’t wait to get to Leuven though because my stocks of medication are dwindling and I’ve already run out of one item.

The dictaphone came next of course. We had one of my sisters again in this dream and she was dressed up like some 1920s New Orleans dancer. I had to pick her up from school and she was all upset because they wouldn’t let her slide as in sliding up and down the ground on the ice. There was me, my sister and someone else, another person and we were in the car and we came to get out of the car when we were back home. I can’t remember now what she was saying but she was certainly acting very grown up for her age.
Somewhat later I was in a cruise ship that was coming in to dock somewhere. There were crowds of people on the railings. It was the end of the voyage apparently and we were all having to get ott. It was a quayside landing so everyone gathered their carry-on possessions and were milling around waiting for the order to disembark. There was a girl of about 10 there and I was having a chat to her, a little dark-haired girl. The order then came basically to leave so they started to leave. Then this girl came back so I don’t know what she was trying to do but she disappeared into the crowd so I didn’t get the chance to speak to her at that moment. I had my rucksack and my little camera so I was going to go off the ship to take a photograph and probably come back on as well and wait until later when it was the time to disembark. In the meantime there was something going on about the storage locker on board ship. They had a car and they were driving it into the storage locker. At first the owners of the vessel were very disappointed with this and very upset. But by the time that it came to the third time to drive the car in, they had come round to the fact that it was a good idea to have this storeroom opened. The third time they succeeded in bursting the lock but I’ve no idea now why it was that they wanted it open themselves.
There was another one of thsee nights where there was more going on too but if you are having your tea or something you won’t want to know about it.

After breakfast I had a look at some more digital files to split. I seem to have drawn the short straw with this today though because firstly, they were all very long and complicated ones to break up, and secondly, one of them just wouldn’t work at all and I’ve no idea why. Half of it was missing and / or unavailable and I’ll end up having to record this directly from the album one of these days.

As a result I was late going for my bread. We aren’t officially allowed out of our homes except for certain specified reasons, but “shopping for essential supplies” and “taking exercise in the vicinity of your own home” seems to cover that. We have to download a form off the internet each time we need to go out, fill it in and carry it with us

trawler english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallSo having printed out and filled in a form, I could go outside for a stroll.

There was no-one else out there at all walking around the headland, but that wasn’t the story out at sea. Regardless of the situation, people still have to eat and fish will be quite high up n the menu over the foreseeable future. As a result, we had a few trawlers out there doing their stuff.

Trawlers, maybe. But I bet that we won’t see Thora and Normandy Trader for quite a while. They’ll be keeping a respectable distance while all of this will be going on

yacht english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallSo no Channel Island boats and probably no gravel boats either. But there’s always other stuff.

If you’re out at sea you can neither give this virus to anyone else nor receive it and so taking to the water in your yacht seems to be a very sensible option. It’s times like this that I wish that I had a boat in which to sail.

All the time that I was out there, I reckon that all in all, there weren’t even half a dozen people out in the streets. But I learnt some tragic news at La Mie Caline. All non-essential businesses are to close for the duration of this outbreak. And despite being a bakery, their business has been classed as non-essential. Today is their last day of operation.

It beats me how anyone can consider a bakery to be non-essential, but I suppose that it’s do do with them having a café on the premises that they fall foul of this “public gathering” rule.

Back here I mused on the fact that having had to print out all of this paperwork et cetera, I hadn’t seen anyone official, never mind been asked to produce anything. But a friend who lives in Macon reassured me. She had had to take her cat to the vet’s but she had been stopped and asked for her papers.

There was a phone call too – and this has thrown my plans into disarray. Due to “other considerations” which are completely understandable, my appointment on Thursday with the nephrologist has been cancelled. I rang up the oncology department to confirm my appointment just in case but despite trying for an age, I couldn’t get through. Instead, I had a little … errr … relax and then finished off the radio project.

To back up the computer was next and then to load up all of the files that I need onto the portable hard drive that I take with me. No afternoon walk of course, much as I would like to go. The cynic inside me doesn’t take this as seriously as everyone else. I’ve lived through all kinds of things that we were told were going to wipe out the human race and I’m just wondering what’s going to wipe us all out after this.

Tea was an anything curry, everything left over in the fridge, followed by rice pudding, and then I had a shower.

Grabbing my stuff, I’m now ready to leave. I’ve decided that I’m going to go in Caliburn too even though I’ve nowhere to park him. But I’ll worry about that later, I suppose.

What I’ll do is to do the drive in two (or maybe more) stages, because it’s a long way. If I can get a couple of hours on the road tonight, park up in a lay-by and then continue tomorrow.

That is, if I get that far because movement is strictly controlled. While “travelling for medical purposes” is one of the exemptions, I reckon that they might raise an eyebrow or two at almost 700kms

But I set off, fuelled up at LeClerc and then headed for the motorway. No-one about at all and I had one of the quietest runs that I have ever had.

pont de normandie le havre france eric hallMy route took me to Caen and then in the direction of Rouen and Paris

But I turned off in the direction of Le Havre and skirted the outside of the city. At one point I had to drive over the magnificent Pont de Normandie over the estuary of the River Seine. It the time that it was built, in the early 1990s it was the longest cable-stayed bridge in the world and also had the longest span (856 metres) between the pillars of any other cable-stayed bridge in the world.

Although it no longer holds these records, it’s still an impressive structure and I would loved to have had a better photo of this but unfortunately Strawberry Moose wasn’t with me to take the photo. He’s stayed at home, for I don’t want him to catch this virus

le havre france eric hallFrom the top there’s quite an impressive view of the town of Le Havre and its port. Everywhere was lit up and it looked like something out of Space 1999 but I couldn’t take a decent photo of it which was disappointing.

I picked up the motorway again at the north side of Rouen (it’s bizarre that there’s no ring road around Rouen) and headed in the direction of Calais, turning off for Amiens and then Lille.

In between Amiens and Lille I found a Motorway Sevice Area and settled down for a couple of hours on the front seats of Caliburn. I’d remembered to bring my bedding with me. It’s about 01:30 and I’ve driven about 350 kms in 4 hours, which is good going. It’s important to pass beyond the Paris-Le Havre-Rouen-Amiens area in the dead of night because if there’s ever going to be heavy traffic, it will be in that sector.

But that was one of the quietest runs I’ve ever had.

Tuesday 3rd March 2020 – THERE ARE MANY THINGS …

… in this life that I don’t understand.

And one of the most bizarre things that I don’t understand is why the SNCF (the French national railway network) has suddenly decided that it can no longer book me through to Brussels using a (French) TGV train, but an independent ticketing agency can do so, at a price that is cheaper than that which I normally pay – and even more so when you consider that I don’t receive my Senior Citizens’ discount or my Fidelity Bonus.

Yes, I tried again this morning to book my trip with the SNCF for the 18th but it didn’t work out at all, just as yesterday. I had intended, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, to go up to the railway station and book it there, but I reckoned that I’d try the booking agency that I sometimes use.

And sure enough, here we are.

This morning was something of a disaster – quite in keeping with modern times. I missed the alarms and ended up in bed until 07:30. This is starting to become extremely depressing as far as I am concerned.

What is even worse is that round about 17:00 I crashed out again. Yes, right good and proper too. Dead to the world in a deep sleep for about 20 minutes and I remember thinking just how bad that is. I’m not doing at all as well as I would like in this respect.

But anyway, back to this morning.

After the medication I had a look at the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night. Anyway, last night we were out recording the Carnival procession and there were lots of things happening there. We were having to make some edited highlights. One bit that sticks in my mind out of many many others was where something came along to join the procession out of a car park so we filmed the approach to the car park which was clear, then filmed this object adjoining to car park and superimposed the two to make it look as if the object was emerging from the car park. That was what we filmed and people weren’t very happy about how we did that but we really couldn’t see any other way of doing what we were trying to do.
Later on during the night I was back with the football, just as I was a couple of nights ago. This was pretty much relegation form for Crewe Alexandra who hadn’t won a game for weeks and were struggling. They had been gripped by this lack of confidence and loss of points and gone downhill. They weren’t playing too well and weren’t keeping possession and other teams were rapidly getting good results against them. Someone left Crewe Alexandra and became the manager of Rochdale, someone called Hogg, Graeme Hogg, I dunno. We were all musing – what of Crewe for a forward because while Crewe were bad, now they had even less idea and out of the transfer window you couldn’t bring anyone in at the moment. It was just generally bad news for lower-league football with all of this going on and blocked this and blocked that and players wanting to be somewhere else and didn’t want to have to work and so on.

And I’ve absolutely no idea where all of this football stuff just recently has come from. Something’s going on somewhere and I wish I knew what it was.

After breakfast I had a crack at splitting up a few more digital sound files and that seemed to go pretty smoothly although there were several distractions of one sort or another – such as a few mails to write, rail tickets to book, that kind of thing.

fishing boat trawler english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallThat took me up to about midday – time to go and fetch my dejeunette from La Mie Caline.

Armed with the NIKON D3000 for a change, I set off to see what I can see. And straight away I realised that I had forgotten how to work it. Still, I managed to pick out an image of a fishing boat out in the English Channel

And straight away, I noticed a difference in the quality of the image compared with that of the big NIKON D500. I hope that it gets well soon.

new pontoon pillars rue du port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallFor my walk, I went the long way around, all the way round the headland and down into town along the rue du Port.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall me mentioning yesterday the piling that was going on in the harbour with the piledriver ramming another pillar into the sea bed inside the harbour.

That was one of the things that I wanted to see and sure enough, here they are, having had a really good go at it over the last day or so.

What’s worrying me is that now that I know what they are, I recall having seen four or five of this objects over on the far side of the port. If they are going to install all of those, it’s going to restrict the movement around the port quite considerably for the larger boats.

men working on scaffolding port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallRegular readers of this rubbish will also have seen with me a pile of scaffolding being erected on the quayside by a crane.

This was then lowered into the harbour itself and anchored to the quayside.

So today, we can see a couple of workmen on there having a good play around with something or other. I’ve no idea what but I suspect that they are drilling the quayside just there in order to mount another one of these pontoon supports.

This is another thing that I’ll need to check in the future.

rocavi 2 shellfish port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallBut not today though, because the harbour gates were open and so I couldn’t cross over the top.

Instead, I wandered around to the other side of the fish processing plant to watch the new fishing boat, Rocavi II come into port.

What interested me the most was the catch. The plastic boxes in the stern were full of shellfish of some kind or other and it looked to be a very impressive catch.

Mind you, they wouldn’t have spent the money on a new boat had they not been confident about the profits that they would bring in.

men working concrete strip parking rue du port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallHaving been frustrated in my attempts to cross to the other side of the port, I walked instead along the rue du Port and into town that way.

That took me past where they are refurbishing the old car park here, and they seem to be making some kind of rapid progress.

What they are doing is laying some kind of concrete channel which can’t be for drainage looking at how irregular it is. It must be for some other purpose and I suppose that the secret will unfold as time goes on.

Having picked up my bread I set off back for home but on the way back fell in with one of my colleagues from the radio who had also been a victim of that debâcle the other Sunday.

She told me her story, which paralleled mine pretty much but which ended up in a completely different and much more unpleasant way and I can understand why she was so upset about the whole affair.

Still, our chat went on for ages and was very interesting. I’d already had a few plans of my own for the future and she was quite keen on leaping aboard.

After a rather late lunch I made a start on the notes of the radio project on which I’m working.

storm high winds port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallThere was the usual interruption while I went for my afternoon walk around the headland.

Although the wind has died down considerably from how it has been just recently over the last couple of days, there is still plenty of force remaining in the sea.

Even though the tide was now well out, the waves were crashing into the sea wall and sending a pile of spray everywhere. Just imagine what this must be like at high tide.

storm high winds port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallI had the NIKON D3000 with me again, and as you can see, the quality is nothing like as good as the quality of the big NIKON D500.

That is of course hardly surprising, seeing as it only cost me a quarter of the price but it’s the best that I have right now. And it’s still able to pull in a pic of the waves, even though I can’t manage to produce the same speed without compromising the ISO settings.

Still, I managed with this camera for about 5 years so a couple of weeks won’t make very much difference one way or another.

digger loading metal piles into skip lorry ferry terminal port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallWhile I was out there walking along the clifftop, I was distracted by a load of noise coming from across the harbour.

Right away on the far side was a skip lorry with a pile of skips. And the digger that seems to spend a lot of time over there was messing about with something or other but I couldn’t quite see what it was.

And so accordingly I resolved to loiter in the vicinity for a while in the hope that something might develop, while I admired the lifting cab on the digger. I’d not noticed that before.

digger loading metal piles into skip lorry ferry terminal port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallSure enough, it didn’t take long for something to happen over there.

Now, regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we went over there a couple of weeks ago when we saw a pile of cast iron pillars that they had ripped out of the harbour.

The digger seems to be fitted with a grabber and what it’s doing is picking up the pillars and dropping them into a skip on the back of the lorry, presumably to take away for melting down and recasting.

So now we know.

men working concrete strip parking rue du port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallFrom up here on the clifftop there’s a good view down into the old car park that they are refurbishing.

With the zoom lens I can take a good pic of it from up here and have a better idea of what they are doing, although I do have to admit that i’m still none-the-wiser.

On that note I came home, where I had a phone call. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that on 14th February (one of the many reasons why I keep this blog is so that I can keep a note of what I do and when i do it) I went into the Credit Agricole to have a form signed, and the issues that arose out of that simple request.

The form still hasn’t been returned so I sent them a mail this morning to express my displeasure. They rang me back later this afternoon to tell me that they had no trace of my form

As I suspected, signing a form and putting a stamp on it is far too difficult for them. Remember that I went there on 14th June last year and it took three employees to deal with that simple request.

Anyway, they’ve gone off to have a think about the issue and, one hopes, contact me sometime in the not-too-distant future to tell me that they have somehow managed to lose the form completely.

It’s hardly surprising that after all of that, I had a good old crash-out as deeply as I did. So deeply in fact that I was well away with the fairies for quite some time. I had a dream about a Mark X Jag like the green one that I used to have, which was in some lock-up garages at the back of Catherine Street although it wasn’t really Catherine Street. I’d bought the vehicle from a guy who had had it in a garage there. I was trying to get in touch with him to find if I could take over the garage but no-one knew. In the end I spoke to a woman whose house backed onto the garage who knew him. I was asking her the questions and she said “oh he brought it here in a caravan-type of thing, this was where he kept it” and so on. When I said about keeping on the garage she ummed and ahhed and didn’t really know the answer

Tea tonight was a burger on a bap with potatoes and veg, followed by the last of the apple crumble. I know that I should have been baking but the freezer is full to the brim and there’s no room for anything at all in there until I empty some stuff out.

And even so, that’s going to be problematic because I’m running low on peas and I’ll have to buy a packet of those. So where i’m going to put them is anyone’s guess.

place d'armes granville manche normandy france eric hallOut on my walk this evening I took the NIKON D3000 with men but fitted with the low-light 50mm f1.8 lens.

As a test pic, I took a photo of the Place d’Armes right outside here to see how it would turn out. And having been used to working with ISO as low down as ISO6400 without the slightest hiccup, ISO 3200 on the old Nikon is a real battle.

The lens works well enough in the poor street lighting put the image is far too grainy for my liking. One of these days I’ll try a decent graphics editor and see whether or not I can digitally improve these images.

donville les bains rue du nord granville manche normandy france eric hallAnd the camera doesn’t have anything like the control that the big NIKON D500 has.

Try as I might, I couldn’t achieve a decent well-balanced image of the lights out at Donville-les-Bains and that was rather disappointing.

Instead, I went for my two runs and managed them comparatively comfortably. On the second one, I even made it right to the top of the ramp and it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to do that.

place marechal foch granville manche normandy france eric hallBut in between the two runs I had a pause at the top of the cliff overlooking the Place Marechal Foch.

With a reasonable amount of light I could wind back the ISO to a more reasonable level and the photo didn’t come out too badly at all.

To such an extent that I’m wondering why I haven’t made much more use of the 50mm lens on the big Nikon during the nights when I’ve been out on a stroll. I shall have to look into that.

On that note, I’m off to bed. I’m disappointed in my performance over the last couple of days and I have to do better. I can start by trying to catch up with my beauty sleep. I need as much of that as I can get.


I am having a desperately bad day today.

Nothing is working, nothing is going to plan and everything that I touch seems to be breaking. I’m now at the stage where I’m too scared to go to the bathroom!

And it all started off so well too! I’d had a good sleep for what it was worth and even managed to beat the alarms out of bed.

A nice breakfast, nothing on the dictaphone to copy out, and a good crack on at the splitting of the digital files.

But that was as good as it got. The rest of the day descended into chaos.

First task was to book my accommodation in Leuven for the period 18th – 23rd March. And, surprisingly, all of the cheap accommodation had been sold out already. I’m having to go up-market into a higher class of accommodation – at an additional price of course.

The rail trip was next. And, surprisingly, there were no trains available at all on that day, or the day before. I used the SNCF chatline and whoever was on there confirmed that the trains were running, and that I should call the helpline.

At that point I went for a shower and then headed off into town.

railway station granville manche normandy france eric hallFirst stop was the railway station. But I didn’t get as far as i would have liked because I was bewildered by the lack of funfair.

It’s not there now – the ground’s all flat. They’ve folded up their tents like Bedouins and crept off silently into the night by the looks of things. I’m sure that they were here for longer than this in previous years.

At the station, the person at the counter told me that the trains were indeed running and there’s no reason whatever to think otherwise. She told me to book on the ‘phone if the internet still isn’t working.

And if I’m stil unsuccessful, to come back and see her.

clearing confetti carnaval avenue marechal leclerc granville manche normandy france eric hallOutside in the avenue Marechal Leclerc they were tidying up now that the fete foraine has gone.

The guys with the pressure-washers were out again washing the confetti into the drains for it to be discharged into the sea, which is a pretty thankless task, i suppose. It’s a good job that it’s made of paper.

At LIDL I bought a few things – some button batteries which always come in useful of course, and some new vinegar and olive oil dispensers.

The reason why I bought those was because they looked as if they were spray-on containers but when I unwrapped them at home, I found that they weren’t. And that disappointed me greatly.

But they did have leeks in – a bundle at €0:99 and I was thinking only the other day that I really fancied some leek and potato soup. So I bought a bundle and I’ll make some of that too.

crane impasse de la corderie granville manche normandy france eric hallOn the way back, I had a look at the building work going on at the impasse de la Corderie.

They don’t seem to be making much progress so it’s difficult to see what it is that they are going. What I’ll have to do next time that I’m over there is to go to have a closer look and see what’s going on.

Had I not been running quite late and had a lot to do, I would have gone over then and there. But I had to press on regardless

fairground dismantling rue st sauveur granville manche normandy france eric hallInstead, today I went on down into town and La Mie Caline to pick up my dejeunette.

On the way though, I stopped to see what was going on with the big funfair because if the small one had gone, it was quite likely that the big one would follow it quite quickly.

And I was right about that too because they have broken camp and are in the process of clearing off too. But at least it gives me an opportunity to admire the balcony and French windows of that showman’s caravan just there.

piledriver pier rue du port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallAs I’d been walking through the town I’d heard a pile of banging coming from down in the port so I was wondering what was going on there.

By the looks of things, they are installing a second one of those big grey pillars that we’ve been seeing. There’s a piledriver attached to the big crane and it’s that which has been making the noise as it drops down and drives the pillar into the silt.

And this is starting to cause me more than a little concern. Are they going to ba having some of these pontoons going out perpendicularly into the harbour basin?

And if so, how are the big gravel boats going to be able to turn round if the width of the harbour is thus restricted? I don’t like the way that this is shaping up one little bit.

Back here, I telephoned the rail booking point. They confirmed that the trains were running normally, They could book me tickets on the phone, no problem, so I gave them all of the details.

And then we had the “ohh dear!”
“What’s the matter?”
“I’ve no idea. The system will let me take you as far as Lille but no further. And on teh way back, it won’t let me book you from Brussels to Paris”.
“Why not”?
“I’ve no idea. It looks as if the TGV isn’t accepting our bookinss”

Well, that’s a badger and no mistake. But at least it’s solved the problem of my morning walk tomorrow. It looks as if it will be a walk up tp the railway station and see if I can book it from there.

Next stop was to order a new glass for the mirror on Caliburn. And having specified a “right-hand” one, when I had the “confirmation of order” in my mailbox, it quite clearly states “left-hand”.

So what the heck happened there? I had to send them an e-mail and hope that they read it before they post the glass.

Next was a phone call from the people at the radio trying to make me reconsider my decision to withdraw from Group activities. Despite their pleading, I stood firm. Not necessarily because I want to withdraw, but simply that if I change my mind, then that won’t change theirs and things need to change – and change drastically – at their end of we are to progress as a team and do things correctly.

With all of this going on, it was lunchtime by now so I made my butties. And then I started work on the radio project that I have to do.

There was an interruption for my walk, and this was where the calamity of calamities hit me. For some reason or other, the BIG NIKON has stopped working!

It’s refusing to read the memory card that’s in it.

So back here, I tried almost every single memory card in the apartment (and there are more than enough of them around here!) and no luck whatsoever. This really IS a calamity!

With something of a bitter taste in my mouth, I carried on with the radio project and, clearly being unable to think straight, I’ve made something of a dog’s breakfast of it and some of it has to be done again.

Tea was some of the leftovers from yesterday – the lentil curry with rice and veg, followed by apple crumble and some of that Alpro soya dessert stuff.

For my evening walk I fired up the old Nikon D3000 but didn’t get very far with that. As for my runs though, I managed to go quite far with them and imrpved my distances more than somewhat.

It just goes to show what having a good diet can do for you.

And not crashing out today either. That’s good news too.

But in view of my dreadful day today i’m going to have an early night and a good sleep – write off today as a total loss and start again afresh tomorrow.

It’s the least that I can do.

Sunday 12th January 2020 – THAT GUY HAD …

helicopter place d'armes pointe du roc granville manche normandy france eric hall… his chopper out again today.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that he flew past me at a height of about 10 feet a few weeks ago and I snapped a good shot of him as he went by.

Today, wherever he went to back then, he’s on his way back now. It’s not as good a photo as the last one as the camera wasn’t set up properly and I had to take the shot on the … errr … fly … “ohh well done!” – ed … but nevertheless, here we are.

And here I am too, on a Sunday, having to work. This blasted translation thing, for which I know about half of it at least will go straight into the bin and I’m not very impressed.

And they day got off to a miserable start too. I awoke at about 09:30 but no intention of leaving the bed at that time. 10:45 was when I finally arose and that was the morning effectively done.

First thing was the medication of course, and then I had a look at the dictaphone

I was with a group of soldiers who had been captured in World War II and we’d been herded off into a prison camp by the Germans. It was in a barn, this camp, and had been converted very roughly with wire beds, that kind of thing in it, very dirty, very horrible place to be, no toilets in each of the rooms and so on. The commandant of one of the rooms decided that he was going to escape so he arranged to be sent into solitary confinement, a tiny little box room stuck at the back of a shower from which it was possible for him to get out. Someone smuggled in a key to him that he used as a lever to cut the electricity in order to escape under cover of darkness. We had our meal there that morning and I’d met one or two people and talked to one person, found out that he was in my cell thing so we went back to the cell. Then someone else came into the cell, another British guy, to complain that one of the guards wants the commandant to stop this person singing “he must be a night-time guard” he said. We said “the CO’s not here now – he’s in the shower room so the guy went off into the shower room and started to shout the CO’s name. In the end the CO replied, obviously really upset at being shouted at mid-escape like this. In the end we went back to our cell. It was evening meal time and this guy friend of mine I noticed was already in the queue with his plate. It looked like old roast potatoes and meat of some description so I went to ge tmy plate to join them although I wasn’t very happy about having the meat of course. Yes, there were no toilets in each of the cells and in one all of the ill people were there and a load of people with dysentery and it must have been hell for the people in there, I thought but that was when I awoke, when I was going to get my meal.

Breakfast next, and I tried the surviving glass bowl (the one that didn’t go in the microwave) and that seemed to be much better. I’ll pick up a couple more of those – they are much more like the things that I want for cereal and desserts and so on.

There were a few things that I wanted to do this morning. First thing was to update the Radio Anglais “A La Pointe Du Rock” playlist. After all, you never know. Someone might want to buy an album and that will be an extra €0:16 in my coffers, which will go a long way towards paying for my web-hosting fees, wont it?

Which reminds me – if you appreciate the efforts that I’m making, don’t forget to make your next Amazon purchases via one of the links aside. It doesn’t cost you any extra but I receive a small commission on the sale.

After that, I had a couple of web pages to update. They have suddenly become quite topical, for a variety of reasons, and they were still in the “old” format that I have been changing (or, at least, I was changing until I became overwhelmed with work).

Anyway, they are now in the current format and quite right too.

joly france port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallAfter that it was almost lunchtime. They will be back at work at the railway station in half an hour so now it’s time to be moving.

The tide was out so the harbour gates were closed so the path over the top was accessible so I went to see what was happening. And there was Joly France, moored in the position where I would expect to see Granville and Victor Hugo.

It looks therefore if they are going to be away for some time.

chausiais joly france port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallHowever, something that is not going to be away for quite a while is our new friend Chausiais.

She’s been missing from the port for a few days as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, but now she’s back, tied up over there to the other Chausey Ferry, Joly France II. So that’s all the full complement back in place.

It’s still something that’s intriguing me, wondering why she’s here and where she goes.

chantier port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallA little further on along the docks I was interrupted in my thoughts by something else that caught my eye.

There’s a chantier – a work site – being created here with this little compound, a storage skip and some machinery. That’s something else for me to keep an eye on as I go past here – to find out what they are going to be doing.

Off now up the hill to the station. It was open (which was a surprise after yesterday) and it was the same woman with whom I had that big dispute the other day.

However, this time she was quite amenable and it was a shame that she couldn’t have been this pleasant the other day.

No real problem changing my tickets for Monday 27th, except for one issue.
“I can’t put you on the 08:13” she said. “That’s more expensive and you’ll have to pay a supplement. The train at 07:33 however is the same price as yours …”

Now, regular readers of this rubbish will recall that at moments like this, I might begin to lose my self-composure. The terms and conditions laid out in the documentation that I have clearly state “you can change your ticket … at no extra cost”.

However, regular readers of this rubbish will also recall that when I did my famous TRAVERSEE DE PARIS (without Bourvil to carry my suitcase) IT TOOK ME 90 MINUTES on foot in no particular hurry to do the 7 kilometres.

I might be faced with the same issues again – i.e. the lack of Metro, and the earlier train gives me 1 hour 50 minutes to cross the city.

Admittedly I’m not in the same good health that I was back then, but if I put my mind to it, I should be able to make it on foot in time if the trains run to the timetable.

Of course, it might be that the train to Granville is cancelled, but that’s a bridge that I’ll cross when I come to it.

erection d'un chapiteau parc de val es fleurs boulevard louis dior granville manche normandy france eric hallJust for a change I came back a different way – around the office blocks and down the steps at the back to the Parc De Val Es Fleurs.

And it looks as if there is going to be something exciting going on here to in due course. There are “no waiting” signs aound all over the place and a few notices talking about the “erection of a chapiteau” – a marquee.

That’s something else to investigate in due course.

collapsing wall boulevard louis dior granville manche normandy france eric hallIt’s amazing, when I take a walk along a road that I’ve not walked for a while, what else I noticed.

Here in the Boulevard Louis Dior right by the abandoned dockyard railway line, there’s this huge stone reinforcing wall that looks in a very precarious, dangerous condition.

One of the props has snapped too, as you can see in the photo. I don’t reckon that that wall will be there for long unless they do something about it quite quickly

marking on road rue des moulins granville manche normandy france eric hallStrange goings-on in the rue des Moulins too.

For some reason or other they have been painting a series of numbers in pink paint along the road. There are three rows of numbers, in consecutive order, all along the street and they don’t seem to bear any relation to anything else.

That’s yet another thing to investigate in due course.

Anyway, having picked up my bread at la Mie Caline, I headed back to the apartment for lunch, bumping into a neighbour on the way.

It was such a nice day that I was really tempted to go and sit outside but I had far too much work to do. I just had a quick butty and started on the translation.

We had the afternoon walk of course, where I met the helicopter, but that was about it really. The walk was good but I pushed on rapidly and came back for some more work.

At least, that was the plan but rather regrettably I … err .. closed my eyes for a while. A proper full-blown crash-out too. I awoke half-way through and I remember thinking to myself that this just isn’t any good at all

Tea was a vegan pizza of course, cooked to perfection, I have to say and it was delicious. There was a rice pudding a-doing too, because the Christmas Cake is almost gone.

All alone on my evening walk tonight too. No-one else around. And I had my run, such as it was.

Now I’m going to have another half-hour on this blasted translation and then go to bed. Another session tomorrow morning after breakfast and I might have done about half of it. Whether it’s the half that ends up in the bin or not, I really don’t know.

Saturday 11th January 2020 – YOU LUCKY PEOPLE!

You aren’t just getting one example of pathetic parking today. You’re getting two!

bad parking noz granville manche normandy france eric hallThe first one is outside NOZ. The road here is very narrow so the Police are rigorously enforcing the rules here. There’s a Stationnement Génante and a Stationnement Très Génante in French Law, and here this counts as the latter with a much more expensive fine.

There are notices all over the place about this, and also a sign to say that there’s “A Large Car Park At The Rear”.

But even with all of that and the fact that the little car park at the front is totally empty without a soul parked upon it (it was just at opening time), this clever motorist has decided to block the street and the pavement

bad parking hypermarche leclerc granville manche normandy france eric hallThe second one is even more ridiculous.

This minibus is far too big for a single parking spot so rather than go to the end of a double-row and straddle two places as I usually do, he’s chosen to park en bille, or “on the diagoonal”.

It’s Saturday morning when everyone comes to do the shopping, there are four electric car-charging spots at LeClerc, and our hero here decides to block off 25% of them just so that he doesn’t have to walk very far.

This is bringing selfishness down to a totally new level and it’s absolutely shameful.

What else is absolutely shameful is that once again I missed the third alarm. That’s despite a relatively early night when I fell asleep half-way through writing up my notes and crawled off to bed early.

A late start meant that everything else was late too. After the medication the first task was to finish off the blog entry for yesterday. And the second task, after breakfast, was to deal with the notes that had found their way onto the dictaphone during the night.

Norma Edwards was going through all of my paperwork and had transcribed all of my dictaphone notes. She’s examined every file in detail and built up quite a file on me and was now coming into avenge herself and do her best to get me out of the office and put pressure on me about the work that I hadn’t been doing, all that kind of thing. One thing that was going through their minds too was about my injury where I was saying that I wasn’t able to move around very well so they were following me around this afternoon and I was pushing this trolley around. We ended up going through something like a kids’ library where there were loads of kids sitting around with a stamp collection. I had to go past them and Norma Edwards and this guy were following me, watching how I walked, all of this kind of thing. At one stage they asked to see the photos that I had taken that particular day so I told her to clear off. She asked for my dictaphone notes so I told her to clear off as well. I was half anticipating her to ask for the photos that I had taken when we had got back to the office after this walk and I was ready to tell her to clear off as well. But there was something specific she had asked for and I can’t remember what it was. My intention was to get her to ask it in writing because employers aren’t allowed to ask for that from their employees but she had asked in the past so I wanted her to ask again and put it in writing so that I could take it to the Employment Tribunal and have them look at it for me. This thing with Norma Edwards though – there was a little baby microphone inside my portable radio so that every time you switched it on you could hear exactly what I was saying. She’d asked me a few times to upgrade it so I could get a bigger microphone to put in it and she thought that each time that I refused the opportunity was to spite her.

So I’ve no idea what that was all about.

After that I grabbed a shower, took the glass, metal and plastic out to the recycling, and then Caliburn and I headed for the hills.

First stop was NOZ as I mentioned earlier. Nothing of any great excitement there except a pack of alcohol-free raspberry beer. And it’s delicious too so I hope they have more in next week.

After that, I went to Action up the road. I wanted some small pyrex bowls for the microwave and some glass bottles for my drinks. No luck, of course, but they did have some really cheap luggage labels which I need, and some really cheap memory sticks. I wanted one for the radio stuff and strange as it is to say it, I can’t seem to lay my hand on any of the ones that I have lying around here.

Final stop was LeClerc and here I really did spend up. In my new year resolution to move away from bottled water I went and purchased myself a sodastream.

As well as that, apart from the usual shopping I bought a couple of glass bottles, a proper liquid sieve and a proper purée squidger. They had some cheap glass bowls in too which I thought might be microwavable and they were at the right price to try (and they aren’t and it took me 20 minutes to clean up the debris).

After lunch I put a few things away and then sorted out the cordial that I’d brewed. Filtered it all out with the series of sieves and then squidged the solids to obtain some more strong liquid and added that back into the mixture, and then dropped half of it onto the floor so I had to wash the floor.

At 17:00 I set out up town, firstly to the railway station to change my ticket. I arrived at 17:25 knowing full well that the ticket office is open until 17:30 but it was closed up and abandoned.

It looks as if we haven’t had the last laugh yet.

And so I carried on up the road.

la vie claire avenue des matignon granville manche normandy france eric hallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall the new building that’s been taking place in the avenue des Matignon just now. It’s now finished and a tenant has moved in.

La Vie Claire is a bio food shop and the town needs one to combat the complacency of the Bio-Coop.

With 10 minutes to kill, I went in for a nosey. The vegan cheese section is very limited and shockingly expensive, but the rest of the stuff is quite competitively priced and I shall be making further enquiries in due course. I was specially impressed with the price of the tahini and the vegan sausages.

football stade louis dior as vitre us granville manche normandy france eric hallAnd now up the road for the football.

At the Stade Louis Dior US Granvillais were entertaining AS Vitré, a couple of places below them in the table

AS Vitré didn’t really threaten all that much, although they did hit the post early on.

On the other hand, US Granvillais were pretty rampant. They soaked up the pressure and then broke away quite quickly, going down the centre as well as both flanks

And when I say “US Granvillais”, I really mean William Sea at centre-forward.

I’ve probably mentioned at some time or other that he’s a former professional but has been out of the game for a while with an serious injury. I didn’t think all that much of him at first as he didn’t seem all that interested, but now I put that down to lack of match fitness.

This last few weeks I’ve been much more impressed with him. You can see when he’s on the field that he moves about in a different way, much more like a professional, in sharp contrast to most of the others.

He’s quite powerful too and quite prepared to get in and mix it with the defenders, something that the remaining players in the side, all lightweights, aren’t able to do. Any defender who comes up against William Sea will certainly know about it.

He throws himself around and fights for everything, and tonight we were treated to a masterclass performance of exactly how a centre-forward should play.

We had a delicious overhead kick in a crowded penalty area, a header that went just wide, a rounding of the keeper that was desperately scrambled off the goal-line by a defender, all kinds of things. The only thing that we didn’t get from William Sea was a goal, but I’m sure that it will come.

And then with 15 minutes to play, we had another one of these really bizarre substitutions that we see so often. Having attacked the defence in spades for 75 minutes and had them under all kinds of pressure and stress, William Sea was withdrawn from the game.

And I just don’t understand that at all.

But it didn’t matter as Granville won 2-0. The first goal was a scramble on the goal-line with the keeper eventually grabbing the ball, but the linesman reckoned that it had crossed the line.

The second was from a breakaway through the defence and a delightful pull-back to flat-foot the keeper with the player running in behind side-footing into the empty net.

At full-time I walked back home and had tea, out of a tin.

Now I’m off to bed and having a lie-in. And then I’ll try to have another go at changing this ticket. It’s quite a fight, isn’t it?

Friday 10th January 2020 – HE WHO LAUGHS LAST …

… usually lasts longest and loudest too. And that’s certainly the case with me and my rail ticket.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall my adventures at the railway station at Granville yesterday and how they wouldn’t exchange the return ticket because the return train was running – regardless of the fact that as the outward train was cancelled, I couldn’t get out to catch the one back.

Anyway, to cut a long story short … “hooray” – ed … I had an e-mail informing me that the return train has now been cancelled. So, off to the station tomorrow to have another go at sorting them out.

But talking of sorting out, I still haven’t sorted out this sleep thing. I heard the first two alarms go off and while I was trying to find the energy and courage to get out of bed, the third one rang too, so I missed that.

But anyway, that was the signal to leave the bed. I went and had my medication.

With a brief pause for breakfast I carried on with the radio project about the football. And by 09:45 it was all done and dusted. And even if I say it myself, it was pretty good and I’m pleased with it. It’s all been sent off now and it’s in the hands of the Admin who will decide whether or not to broadcast it.

And now to turn to important things. After their victory against FC Versailles 78, Granville have drawn none other than Olympique Marseille in the French Cup.

The Stade Louis Dior is deemed to be unsuitable so the match is to be played at Caen. And even so, I’m expecting a healthy demand for tickets. Terry wants to come too so I did some searching about on the internet, found the website of the stadium and Lo! And Behold! There are two tickets for the football now sitting on my desk.

No intention of missing this.

spirit of conrad trawler chantier navale port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallThat was the cue for me to go off into town to La Mie Caline for my bread.

On the way down there I passed by the Chantier navale to look and see what was happening. Spirit of Conrad is still there of course – I think that she’s moved in for the duration – but there’s a new addition today. The trawler at the back.

She must have slipped in on the morning tide, I reckon.

joly france ferry terminal port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallWe’ve mentioned just recently, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, the ships that are disappearing one by one from the port.

Granville went a few days ago, followed by Victor Hugo. Today though, it’s the turn of Chausiais to put in a disappearing act. Joly France is over there at the ferry terminal but she isn’t.

So I wonder where all of these ships are going. It’s a mystery to me.

old cars traction avant citroen light 15 rue du port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallBut here’s a thing.

Walking along the rue du Port after my little inspection of the Chantier navale my perambulations were interrupted by this car going past. a Citroen traction avant of course and a later model one at that. It’s been quite a while since I’ve seen one of those on the road.

They are usually all black but I’ve seen the odd grey one and a white one, but I don’t recall seeing a blue one before. The one in my barn is black, by the way.

abandoned railway network rue du port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallPushing on (or pushing off, as the case may be) I eschewed the passage over the harbour gates and instead wandered on down to see what was going on at the old abandoned railway network.

We’d seen them yesterday digging up around the railway lines so I had promised myself a closer look. And sure enough, not only are they digging up around the lines, they seem to be pulling them up too.

It looks like the … errrr … end of the line for the railway network in the port

abandoned railway network rue du port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallAnd so it is too.

There was a workman wandering around the site so I buttonholed him and enquired about the project. It seems that they are going to be working on the car park and making it more attractive to visitors. This means that the rails have to go and they won’t be coming back.

Time for me to have to go too. I went off for my bread.

Back at the apartment I started to address the mountain of correspondence that had built up during my work-in. Pile of stuff needed answering and that is going to be today’s task, I reckon.

Mind you it might take longer than today, that’s for sure. Especially as I had another crash-out. This one a really good one too, just like the old days. Not a brief eye-closing affair but a proper deep disappearance into the void, curled up on my chair with no intention whatever of moving.

After lunch, there were the carrots. I’d bought 2 kilos the other day and they were lying about on the worktop so I attacked them too. They are all now peeled, diced, parboiled, drained, dried and and the freezer on the way to being frozen.

And how I wish that I had a bigger freezer because there is now absolutely no room for anything more and I need a bag of peas tomorrow.

la grande ancre english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallOut on my rounds this afternoon, there wasn’t a great deal of anything at all happening.

A few people out there taking the air of course, and the usual fishing boats heading towards the harbour. La Grande Ancre was out there looking as if she’s heading back from Chausey.

She had a tractor on her decks a few days ago and was loading the other day or two at the crane. So maybe she’s been doing deliveries.

Back at the apartment again I could finally get on with the correspondence and sent out about 6 long e-mails to wish people a Merry Christmas (I was that far behind!). Still tons to do and it will have to be done another time as I’m in a rush.

While I was putting away the stuff in the freezer I found a slice of vegan leek and tofu pie from 3rd February 2019. So in the oven went that and a couple of potatoes while I boiled up some veg and gravy on the stove.

And what a delicious tea that all made.

One thing that I would like to do is to make a couple more pies but there isn’t the room in the freezer to store them which is a pity.

Off on my walk around the walls tonight.

venelle st michel granville manche normandy france eric hallThe waves were quite impressive but it was too dark to see them properly so I went off for my run. I made 6 paces up the ramp before I ground to a halt – I’m not doing very well with this, am I?

No-one about at all so I carried on alone and passed this little street – the Venelle St Michel. I hadn’t really seen it before but it’s a good example of the streets here in the Old Town.

Three or four main streets, a couple of squares and the rest are all little alleys like these

By the time that I returned, it was the football. TNS v Newtown, and I don’t ever think that I have seen such a one-sided match as this ever before.

Newton were lucky, very lucky indeed to get NIL abut how on earth TNS only managed to score 2 goals with all of the dominance and possession that they had, we’ll never know.

Newton’s “attack” consisted of desperate long aimless punts upfield to no-one in particular and their two forwards hardly had a touch of the ball. They were substituted after about 70 minutes which was totally unfair in my opinion. It doesn’t matter how good you might be, you can’t play football if no-one gives you the ball.

And the man of the match? The commentators chose Ryan Brobbel but for me, it was Adrian Cieslewicz all night long. He had an astounding game down the right flank tonight.

On that note I’m off to bed. I’m so tired it’s unbelievable. I wanted to finish this before I went to bed but I’m afraid that there’s no chance of …