Tag Archives: traversee de paris

Monday 14th February 2022 – HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY …

… to everyone who has not been wished a Happy Valentine’s Day by anyone else today. I didn’t even have a Valentine’s wish from any of my virtual travelling companions either which was rather depressing. You can rest assured that I wished all of them a Happy Valentine.

It’s the only available female company that I can find these days. Times are definitely hard.

What a state to be in, hey?

Last night although I was tired, I couldn’t go to sleep and it wasn’t until about midnight or thereabouts that I finally crawled into bed.

And there I stayed until about 09:30. I’d been awake for an hour or so before that and I couldn’t go back to sleep so in the end I crawled back out again. So much for my idea of staying in bed until I awoke.

Well, I suppose that I actually did really, but that wasn’t quite what I meant.

After the medication I spent much of the morning slowly working through the notes of where I’d been during the night. I was giving a language course last night on board a ship. One person was going to come along and join in. He hadn’t taken part in any of the others. I knew that someone had put a few notes about pronouns into the mailbox of the class so when the class assembled I rummaged through the mails, folders and files, everything that was there. I found this paper and gave it to him. I said that he needed to give it back to me after the class because I had to write it out properly, photocopy it and give it to everyone. Someone said “you are a one, aren’t you? Giving him a note that’s going to have to make him work down it sideways”. I rounded on them and said “I don’t really know if you understand how much I have to do for you and I’m busy co-ordinating all of this, busy writing a play for the office, busy with 4 or 5 other different things that I had on the go. And of course I have my normal work to do as well. If anyone would like to do any of this for me I’d be more than grateful for whatever assistance I could get”.

And later on we were in the USA heading north into Mexico, don’t ask me how, scrambling over the fields etc. We were saying that with the USA at war we would find the countryside so much emptier when we cross the border. We set off and scrambled through these rocks in these fields and when we came to a main road we had to hide behind a fence or wall until a car went past. Then another came past, travelling quite quickly through these bends but on its correct side of the road. Another car came the other way doing the same thing but this one was slightly over on the other side of the road. It hit the first car and spun it round. The driver of the second car tried to drive away but the one in the first car rammed him so that he couldn’t go. We ran over there to see what was happening and the driver of the car was someone we knew. I challenged him about trying to drive off. He said “you did the same thing once didn’t you?”. I replied that I hadn’t but what did that have to do with anything anyway. A big argument developed between the two of us. He finally calmed down so I went over to the Spanish guy in the other car to see what he was going to do now

There was a dance taking place in the town. A whole group of us went, mainly people like the friends of a girl whom I once knew in the Auvergne, dressed in a hippy-type of trendy clothes etc. I was just in my usual outfit but that brought a fit of derision from some people but I didn’t care – I was comfortable. Someone else turned up in a suit but he was mocked and told to go home and change. There was a big discussion about labels being worn on your clothes etc. Gradually the crowd built up and more and more strange people were coming. There was a girl tied to a post in the town centre. I asked her what was going on. She replied that it was some kind of joke. I asked if she saw the funny side of it and she replied “yes” so I left her to it. It was a really, really strange gathering, all kinds of old hippy-type vehicles, vans and so on around there. Whilst I didn’t mind everything like that and it’s a really good idea to go out once in a while it wasn’t my usual way of enjoying myself but I thought that I’d give it a go, see what happens and see who I met.

There was some French village and the Germans had been. They had set up a machine gun post and killed quite a few of the villagers. There was no doubt that they would come back again so we were busy making sure that there was nothing with which they could set up their post and generally disrupt what we could so that they wouldn’t have an easy time of it. Sure enough they came, engaged in a looting party keen to grab hold of what they could. Someone took a fancy to a kind-of desktop lathe. He was wrenching at it, trying to pull it off its stand, everything like that so in the end I went over there and showed him how to dismantle it, making sure that I drained out all of the oil so that it wouldn’t work. Then I gave him a huge mouthful about how incompetent he was, going to wreck everything and he had no idea. His commandant was standing by so I made a few remarks to the commandant about his methods as well. I just made life extremely unpleasant for this particular German soldier.

So none of my special visitors last night to wish me a Happy Valentine.

There was time for a shower and a weigh-in before lunch. My TRAVERSÉE DE PARIS, even without Bourvil to carry my suitcase, didn’t result in any loss of weight.

Now it seems that I have grounded out. 9 kilos over the weight that I was when I was swanning around the States of North-West USA and how I wish that I could be at that weight again. But I wouldn’t see that again even if someone were to lend me a telescope.

After lunch it was time to go tot he physiotherapist and see what she was going to do to me today.

trawler naabsa port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022

So as usual I stopped at the viewpoint on the corner of the Boulevard Vaufleury and the Boulevard des 2E et 202E de Ligne to test the camera, and there was an ideal subkect over there against the far wall.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall having seen this trawler on several occasions but woe is me! Her name has slipped right off the tip of my tongue.

But there she is in a NAABSA (Not Always Afloat But Safely Aground) position – or, at least, she must have been earlier – by the steps where the crew can go up and come down again. I suppose that she was late in earlier and missed the opening time for the harbour gates.

freight on quayside port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022Further on down the hill in the Rue des Juifs I stopped to see what was happening in the inner harbour.

Down there on the quayside is a pile of freight. There’s a load of freight that I can’t recognise, stacked up on racks over there, and there’s also a swimming pool.

That would seem to tell me that Normandy Trader is coming in quite soon to pick it up. I know that they have the contract for delivering the swimming pools.

It won’t be the Normandy Warrior, her sister ship, because she’s currently aground in the Channel Islands, having something of a refit.

chausiaise belle france joly france port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022Not long before I went away I posted a photo of Chausiaise, Belle France and the newer of the two Joly France boats tied up together at the quayside.

By the looks of things, they haven’t moved since we saw them last. They are still down there. Presumably the older Joly France boat is out somewhere at sea because she wasn’t tied up at the ferry terminal as far as I could see.

Just by here is a ramp of four steps and that’s where I test my knee to see how it’s doing, trying to climb up these steps. And there’s been a deterioration over the last 12 days or so. Not enough power in my right knee to lift myself up even one of the steps.

Climbing up the hill to the physiotherapist’s by the railway station without my luggage was much easier and I did it in one go. And most of the time she spent massaging my patella and she found a spot that hurt when she touched it – something that I hadn’t felt before.

Well, when I say that, after I broke my knee as a teenager it hurt really badly whenever anyone touched it anywhere and that lasted for a couple of years and I had to give up playing football for a while. But it slowly eased off and after a few years it stopped hurting.

Anyway, she’s asked me to take in my medical reports on Wednesday so she can see. She can’t prescribe any medication or anything but she can make recommendations and I have to see my doctor in a week or two’s time to have some more Aranesp.

That’s another thing that gets on my wick as well. Having to have a booster injection so I have the strength to go to the hospital.

On the way home I called in at the Carrefour and picked up some mushrooms and a pepper. I fancy a stuffed pepper for tea and the rest of the mushrooms will come in handy for a curry in midweek.

kiddies roundabout Place Général de Gaulle Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022You can tell that it’s still half-term somewhere in France right now.

The kiddies’ roundabout is still in place in the town centre. having had a closer look at it, I’m sure that it’s a lot smaller than it used to be when the Mairie became so excited about it.

The argument was that it was blocking the pavement and forcing pedestrians to walk in the road around it where they were at risk of being squidged by a passing bus or something.

With the cancellation of Carnaval this year, this is really the only vestige of anything that can be called “entertainment” right now in the town and that’s depressing in itself.

chant de sirenes port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022And so I trudged my weary way up the hill towards home and a nice hot coffee.

The tide had come in a lot further than it had earlier when I was on my way out and the first of the fishing boats has now come in and is waiting for the harbour gates to open.

You can tell which one this is because of the mermaid painted on her bow. She’s Chante de Sirenes – “Song of the Mermaids”.

Over to the left is another one but I can’t tell which one she is from here. And the one that we saw earlier is still over there against the wall and is now well afloat.

There were one or two more further out but I wasn’t going to wait for them. I wanted to go home.

beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022On the way back I went to have a look at the beach to see what was happening down there.

Not very much beach and I couldn’t see anyone down there making use of it. Hardly surprising because it was trying its best to rain while I was out there and I think that most people had more sense than being out there.

Back here I had a nice hot coffee and then regrettably I dozed off and that was that

Later on I went and made tea. Stuffed pepper with rice. And it was delicious as usual. I seem to have the knack pretty well these days about making those.

The plan was to go to bed early and have a decent sleep before my Welsh lesson tomorrow but I ended up repairing someone’s computer over the internet and that was certainly interesting.

But now that the “client” has entered into the BIOS and knows what to do, I’m going to bed. It always takes me a couple of days to recover from my journey and yesterday’s trip was more fraught than usual.

And then I have a radio programme to prepare. I can see it being really busy this week. So nothing new there then.

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 27th March 2021 – THAT WAS PROBABLY …

… the most uneventful journey that I have ever had since I’ve been going back and to to Leuven.

It might have been all so different though. It’s a good job that I checked the telephone before I went to bed because I found that I had forgotten to set the alarms for this morning. And there would be very little chance of me awakening from the dead at 05:00.

So with the alarms switched on and me fully dressed and not having had one of these new knock-out pill things that they have prescribed for me, I went to bed and slept right through, just awakening once and not having had an attack of cramp either.

As for whether there is anything on the dictaphone, you’ll have to wait for another day to find out about that.

When the alarm went off at 05:00 I leapt out of bed with alacrity and by 05:30 I’d packed, made my sandwiches, washed up, tidied up, handed back my keys and was halfway down the road to the railway station.

multiple unit am96 automotrice 569 gare de leuven railway station belgium Eric HallBang on 06:14 my train pulled into the station.

It’s one of the AM96 class of multiple units running the train to one of the smaller towns on the Belgian “Costa Stella”. We’ve travelled on quite a few of these and I happen to quite like them. They are quite clean, tidy and comfortable considering that they are over 20 years old now.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall, because I’ve said it before … “and you’ll say it again” – ed … when two of these sets are coupled together, the two driving cabs that are next to each other can pivot out of the way so that passengers can walk from one set to the next

Despite having to go round by the airport, we pulled up in the Gare du Midi with plenty of time to spare.

TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt 4523 gare du midi railway station brussels belgium Eric HallThe train for the next part of my journey – the trip to Lille Europe – was already in the station.

It’s one of the Reseau 38000 tri-volt units on which we’ve travelled quite regularly. The train is the 07:17 to Strasbourg that goes via Lille, Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport and then cross country.

Although the doors were open, there was a sign saying “do not embark” but after waiting around for 10 minutes freezing we all had a minor revolt and boarded the train regardless. It set off on time and roared off down the line towards Lille Europe Railway station where it arrived on time.

Then I had my 10-minute walk across the city to the Lille Flandres railway station. My leg was still giving me cause for concern but it was certainly better than it was on the way out after my fall. I made it quite comfortably with plenty of time to spare.

TGV Reseau Duplex 218 gare de lille flandres France Eric HallAt Lille-Flandres, my train was already in at the platform. It’s another one of the TGV Reseau Duplex sets that work the route from Paris to Lille.

My seat is, as usual, upstairs on the top deck and, just like the previous train, there was plenty of room to spread out, due to the low numbers of passengers riding right now with the Covid restrictions.

On the way into Paris I ended up having a little doze and awoke with a start as we were creeping into the suburbs. Bang on time yet again. I headed off for the metro and just as I set foot on the platform a train pulled in so I didn’t have to wait at all for my TRAVERSEE DE PARIS, with or without Bourvil to carry my suitcase.

84574 gec alstom regiolis gare montparnasse paris France Eric HallAt the Gare Montparnasse I went up the stairs down which I had fallen the other day, and say a train that looked like mine sitting at the platform.

It wasn’t indicated though so we had to wait around for about an hour or so. That’s the annoying thing about Paris main-line railway stations though. They are huge, draughty and there is nowhere for anyone to sit. I had to stand up leaning against a notice board, watching the police interrogate foreigners and the like and check their papers.

With about 20 minutes to go before our train was due to depart, the platform number came up on the station display board and e could make our way to the train. And it was indeed the train that I had seen at the platform.

84561 gec alstom regiolis gare de Granville railway station Manche Normandy France Eric HallIt was a 12-car train made of two 6-car units and quite naturally I was in the second unit right down the far end.

Once we set off I spent some time working on the photos from my trip in 2019. I’m now on the Deadwood Trail in South Dakota, waiting for the Deadwood Stage to be heading on over the hills, where the Indian arrows are thicker than porcupine quills. I covered a darn sight more than 23 miles on that day.

To my surprise we pulled into Granville 2 minutes early. I gathered up my stuff and headed off down the steps to the Parc de Val es Fleurs into town.

On the way past, I called into Super U to pick up some mushrooms for my pizza tomorrow and then headed for home where I collapsed into a chair.

The football came on later – Caernarfon Town v Cardiff Metro. Caernarfon aren’t a particularly skilful team but they are an efficient team. Cardiff Metro, technically pretty good as you might expect, lack the skill to go with it and are extremely lightweight up front.

The Met’s central defenders are skilful and brave but they are probably the slowest, most ponderous pair that I have ever seen. Caernarfon won the match 3-2, a score that flattered the Met, having taken advantage of the Met’s central defenders by catching them too far upfield on two occasions and beating them to a couple of long balls over the top.

Mind you, Noah Edwards’ long-ball pass for the first goal is about as good as you’ll ever get at this level of football. It was an absolutely inch-perfect curving long-ball pass with the outside of the right foot. Just look at AT ABOUT 25 MINUTES INTO THE VIDEO (ABOUT 11 MINUTES OF THE GAME) and you’ll see what I mean.

For a couple of hours I did some tidying up on the computer and then went for tea. A burger that I had brought back from Leuven with a couple of the mountain of potatoes that are were still waiting for me here.

Now that that’s done, I’m off to bed. No alarm in the morning so I’m hoping for a good lie-in. I reckon that I need it after my day. Not that I had a stressful journey back. There won’t be another one as calm as that.

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.

Thursday 19th December 2019 – JUST FOR A CHANGE …

… no-one and nothing came along to disrupt my work today so I was able to have a fair crack of the whip, news which should please sadists and masochists everywhere.

Mind you, had something come along to disrupt me today I don’t know how I would have fitted it in. I didn’t get off to the best of starts.

With having had a very late night last night, I didn’t respond very well to the first two of the three alarms that go off here in the morning. The third one prompted me to sit upright with shock at still being in bed, but nevertheless it was a good 10 minutes before I was able to haul myself out.

Even though it was a short night, there was plenty of time to go a-voyaging. We were recording again for the radio last night, a series of programes of a programme, something like that and we all had to set out and go somewhere and do something. I ended up walking all the way through the countryside and I kept on finding abandoned canal courses, falling in them and so on. I came all the way across these places and ended up back in Diffusion to find that the diffusion of documents was being moved from the building where it was to another building close by, something like if Shavington Infants were moving to the old Junior School, something along those lines. It was moving on the Monday but the Friday prior was going to be my last day as Monday I was going to move to another department. I asked why they were moving and they said that the official reason was that there was something to do with security – Diffusion had become famous for something or other and they wanted some privacy, but no-one knows what the real reason is. Of course “security” was nonsense and we all knew this and it seemed a totally illogical decision because or course all the paperwork had to br brought from the old office to the new one, sorted around and all taken back again which was going to take a lot longer and a lot more staff. We started talking and I expressed my dismay and they ask why? About leaving? About moving? I replied “not really but the new building is nearer my home and of course they waited until I changed department before they moved so I don’t get the benefit of having a shorter distance to go to work” something like that. They started to talk about the routes we had taken to get there. I said that I had found this old abandoned canal race and fell in it. They asked if I had plenty of photos then and I replied “Ohh God yes, hundreds of photos”. We were talking about showing them when the alarm went off and awoke me.

After the medication I transcribed the dictaphone notes and then went off for breakfast.

With that out of the way, I came back and started on Project 007. And it’s a good job that I’ve been systematically backing up as I go along because Audacity, the program that I used, crashed twice in the middle of what I was doing and had I not backed up, I would have had to start again.

But now that one is completed, 60 minutes to the second, and I do have to say that it sounds pretty good to me. But you lot will have to wait until 10th January to hear it.

cement mixer unloading rue st jean medieval city walls granville manche normandy franceIn the middle of everything I downed tools and went off to do my shopping in LIDL.

And here’s a classic example of why living within the walls of a medieval walled city is not always a good idea. Having everything delivered, like a lorry-load of furniture or a lorry-load of cement, creates quite a logistical challenge.

They aren’t always easy to solve either.

cement mixer unloading rue st jean medieval city walls granville manche normandy franceWhat they were having to do is to have a fleet of some kind of machines fitted with hoppers, and discharge the cement into the hoppers for onward transport into wherever they might be going.

And I don’t know if you have noticed, that underneath the cement chute there’s a large plastic sheet – presumably to stop the overflow of cement fouling the roadway.

So round the corner and right into the teeth of the gale, one of the strongest winds that we’ve had to date.

At LIDL I didn’t want very much. I don’t these days, going there three times each week, but I do it for the exercise more than anything else as regular readers of this rubbish will recall.

crane unloading breeze blocks impasse de la corderie granville manche normandy franceOn the way back I went via the big Eglise St Paul to see what was going on.

Last time that I was here they had just finished erecting a crane in the Impasse de la Corderie so I was keen to see what was going on today.

It looks as if they are having a load of breeze blocks delivered and they are about to be craned into position, so someone is having a house extension of some kind.

chausiais port de granville harbour manche normandy francehaving picked up my dejeunette I headed on back up the rue des Juifs towards home, nearly stepping on someone’s dalmatian.

But I had a little stop when I got to the place that overlooks the harbour, because there was a weird danse macabre going on in the tidal harbour.

Yes, it looks as if, for once, I’ve caught Chausiais on the move.

chausiais port de granville harbour manche normandy franceShe carried on with her little dance for a good 10 minutes as I watched, and then took herself off into the corner where the pier is for the ferries that go over to the Ile de Chausey.

It’s intriguing me because what freight that has had to go over to the island in the past has gone over quite comfortably on the ferries.

So why a freighter? My opinion is that the owner has a cunning plan, and it might have something to do with the fact that Brexit isn’t all that far away.

But we shall see.

mini digger clearing building site medieval city walls Boulevard des 2E et 202E de Ligne granville manche normandy franceEarlier on, we saw workmen with the concrete mixer up by the Porte de St Jean.

But here we have another load of workmen with a mini-digger and a pile of these one-ton reusable sacks. It finally does look as if they are cleaning up here ready to close down the chantier

That will be a job well-done.

fishing boat disappearing into storm high winds baie de mont st michel port de granville harbour manche normandy franceNow that Chausiais has finished her dance and is moored up at her post, the rest of the boats here can move around.

Here is one of the little fishing boats heading out to sea. And just look at the waves, almost swamping the poor thing. And that’s only a hundred yards outside the harbour in the shelter of the sea wall.

Imagine what it’s going to be like out in the open sea. It gives you an idea of how the rough weather is right now.

Back here, I carried on with my project and that took me until well past lunchtime, but I didn’t want to stop until it was completed. And as I said earlier, it sounds pretty good to me.

After lunch I pushed on with the arrears. There were 50 photos of Leuven’s Christmas lights – clearly far too many to go on a blog page.

And so I sat down and quickly wrote a web page that features all of them, and you can see them at your leisure.

At that point I rather regrettably dozed off, and sat blot upright 10 minutes later at 15:50. late for my walk again.

fishing boat english channel granville manche normandy franceNevertheless I took myself out into the wicked wind to see what was going on.

Out at sea in the English Channel there was something moving around. I couldn’t see what it was so I took a random photo, hoping to be able to blow it up (the photo, not the object) back home to see what it might be.

It’s probably one of these small fishing boats that ply their trade out of the harbour, or else it’s Chausiais and she’s farther out at sea that I think she is.

spirit of conrad trawler chantier navale port de granville harbour manche normandy franceRound the headland where the wind was even more fierce, I passed by the Chantier Navale and had a look to see what was going on.

Spirit of Conrad is still there up on her blocks, and the trawler that they winched out of the water yesterday is now up on blocks too and there are a couple of people working on her.

It doesn’t look as if she is going to be in there long either, I reckon, so we might be having another change of resident in early course.

mini digger clearing building site medieval city walls Boulevard des 2E et 202E de Ligne granville manche normandy franceEarlier this morning I mentioned that they were clearing up the site where they had been repairing the city walls.

Right now they are making rapid progress and they have a small lorry there, with the digger dumping loads of rubbish into the back.

And I don’t know what happened to the photo there, because it’s not one of my best. Not by a long way either.

After a coffee, I changed a light bulb (I’ve no idea why these IKEA LED lights aren’t lasting as long as I was expecting) and then cracked on amending Sunday’s blog.

Not all of the photos of the Traversee de Paris are in there because, as I explained yesterday, there were far too many, and I told you where to go if you want to see them.

Half-way through, I broke off because it was tea time. Stuffed pepper, it was, and it was delicious. Followed by rice pudding too that made it even better.

night fishing boats english channel granville manche normandy franceAnd then my evening walk.

And I cans afely say without fear of contradiction that I have never seen as many fishing boats out there in the English Channel as I did tonight.

In fact I counted a dozen in easy view, and there may even have been more if the white lights on the horizon weren’t St Helier.

It puzzles me because I’m sure that i’ve never seen as many right out there in earlier years.

christmas lights place cambernon granville manche normandy franceBut talking of easy views, there was a lovely easy view down one of the little alleys that leads into the Place Cambernon.

The Christmas lights give it quite a lovely effect, especially when they are constrained by the walls of the alleyway.

So having admired the lights I went on with my walk and had a little run over my usual little stretch of level ground. And I made it right to the top of the first ramp too although it really did take it out of me.

So now I’m home, Sunday’s blog is finished and so is this one. And I’m off to bed.

There’s a meeting tomorrow evening so I’m hoping to have a good day cracking on with things and getting myself up to date.

Some hope there!

Wednesday 18th December 2019 – I WAS RIGHT …

… about this meeting this evening.

To avoid offending your delicate sensibilities I shan’t say too much about it, except that I was picked up here at 18:45 and I was dropped back off at about 23:15. And they are already talking about a “part II too”.

There is however a silver lining to this. Chatting to the guy’s partner, it turns out that they have a pile of live music that the guy’s group recorded over various occasions and she’s going to send it to me. I sense another live concert in the making.

Last night, I remember that I was feeling quite tired quite early. I managed to fight off the sleep long enough to finish dictating the notes of the day but there was one thing that I needed to do before going to sleep.

christmas tree place d'armes granville manche normandy franceAnd that was to go into the living room and light up the Christmas tree.

It was still up since last year – I hadn’t taken it down, for the simple reason that I hadn’t taken advantage of it. My medical appointment was on New Year’s Eve last year and I had no way of getting home afterwards so I stayed on in Leuven or a few days including Christmas Day.

For that reason, I decided to illuminate it early this year and take full advantage of it

And that reminds me. I had a look over my notes for the Christmas period to see how things were. Here I am today rejoicing that my blood count has crawled up to 9.2 from as low as 8.4 back at the end of June. And yet this time last year I was dismayed that it had dropped from 9.9 to 9.8.

How times have changed.

This morning I heard the first alarm and probably the second too, but instead of getting up I must have gone back to sleep because the third alarm awoke me. Drat and double-drat!

No nocturnal voyage either. I must have been dead to the world.

After the medication I sat down and cracked on with the photos. Now, the keywords are all done and saved to file. All 146, and by lunchtime too.

And that includes a couple of interruptions – firstly for breakfast and secondly to go into town for my dejeunette

cherry picker city walls Boulevard des 2E et 202E de Ligne place du parvis notre dame granville manche normandy franceThere was some excitement too in the street around the corner.

Don’t ask me what was going on because I was about a minute too late to see it, but there was a cherry-picker there with its nacelle being retracted, and some people leaning out of the window of the nice house built into the walls.

It must have been something to do with them, I reckon, but I don’t know what.

fishing boat chantier navale port de granville harbour manche normandy franceThere was some action down at the chantier navale too.

We’d seen the other day Aztec Lady being carried off my the mobile cradle and lowered into the water but as one boat goes another one arrives to take its place, like this fishing boat here.

There’s also a small yacht that has appeared in there too since I last had a good look. I’ll keep my eye on that one.

When I came back from town, I still had half an hour or so before lunch so I rewrote Monday’s blog and included the photographs of Monday and the dictaphone notes into it.

After lunch, I decided to carry on with the blog entries, but it set me wondering what to do about the …gulp … 22 photos from my walk around Paris on Sunday.

The answer was simple – “write a web page”. And so I set about doing it.

It wasn’t easy because I’d forgotten that Javascript doesn’t pass internet boundaries. I had to rewrite all of the Javascript files that I wrote back in October to make sure that all of the root directories are included in the file links.

So that’s now done and it’s now on line. Let me know if you spot any broken links – there’s a “contact me” box at the bottom right corner of your screen.

While I was out this morning, the postie had been by and left me a letter. Apparently I’d forgotten to pay a bill for my refuse collection so I decided to use my afternoon walk to go down to the estate agent and rectify the situation.

light aeroplane granville manche normandy franceNot five minutes was I out of the building before I was buzzed by another low-flying light aeroplane.

It’s one of those lightweight things that I believe you can fly on some kind of basic restricted licence, although whether you can fly one so close to residential properties I really don’t know.

And I couldn’t see the registration either so I’ve no idea exactly what it is.

fishing boat trawler english channel granville manche normandy franceWe’ve seen quite a few fishing boats just recently in the English Channel off the coast of Brehal-Plage. And there was another one out there today.

This one looks as if he has his net out too, so they are clearly giving it a go out there.

We’ve seen plenty of buoys out there too and we still haven’t worked out what they do and why they are there. If you look closely at the bottom right corner of the photo, you’ll see another one out there floating away to itself.

At the estate Agent’s I paid the bill and that was that. But something else too. With the events that are going on on the other side of the Channel right now, it won’t be too long before people start wondering whether I have the right to be in the country – the Estate Agents first of all as they have a statutory duty to check the bona fides of every resident.

A few months ago, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I managed to blag for myself a “residence permanent” identity card from the French Government. So while I was there I whipped it out and told them to photocopy it and put the copy in my file.

As I said the other day, the French love official documents and rubber stamps and all that kind of thing. Now that I have an official document – my identity card – I’m going to make sure that they all know about it.

Back at the apartment, having fought my way past my neighbours having a good chinwag at the door, there was another urgent task to perform. That was to dictate the notes for Project 007. There was enough time to do that and then take a shower before going off to this meeting at Brehal-Plage.

And now that that’s done and I’ve grabbed a bite to eat, I’m off to bed. It’s quite late and I have an early start tomorrow too. I hope that I can sleep well.

Monday 16th December 2019 – IT’S BEEN ANOTHER …

… one of those meetings up at the Centre Agora this morning. I’m not going to waste any of my time telling you about it because one of my former neighbours when I lived in Crewe had been to exactly the same kind of meeing once upon a time and he can tell the story far better than I ever could.

Mind you, I’m lucky that I actually got there at all. last night, unable to sleep it was well after 01:30 when I finally crawled into bed. And when the alarm went off at 06:00 (and again at 06:09 and 06:18) I wasn’t really in any kind of mood whatsoever to heave myself out of my stinking pit.

In fact I was all for turning over and going back to sleep but with the kind of willpower that I didn’t even realise that I had, I finally hauled myself out of bed at about 06:40.

After the medication, I sat down and extracted the files off the portable laptop and copied them onto the big desktop machine. And by now, as the medication had worked, I went for breakfast.

Once breakfast was done and dusted I sat down and began to transcribe the dictaphone notes for the period while I was away. There was even a dictaphone file from through the night. I was doing some stuff for the radio, doing all kinds of soundbites and sound clips and doing over a text – the whole idea of this sound thing was that I could cut bits out and paste them in over other bits so I could use the same bit of vocal recording for week after week after week but somehow it just wasn’t working out for some particular reason, but that’s hardly a surprise, is is?

Anyway, despite my eagerness to deal with the dictaphone notes, I broke off for a shower and noticing that my hair was starting to look as rough as I was feeling, I gave it a going-over with the sheep-shearer.

Back at my desk I carried on, only to notice that the time was suddenly 09:45. Where did the morning go? And I have to be at the Centre Agora in 15 minutes and it’s a 4 kilometre walk.

Even though it was raining fairly heavily I refused to go in Caliburn because now that I’m managing to hold off my illness and even fight back to some extent, I want to keep on fighting the good fight as long as I can.

dismantling installations repairing city walls Boulevard des 2E et 202E de Ligne granville manche normandy franceAnd so I walked.

And I’m glad that I did because there was quite a lot going on here and there today. For a start, it looks as if they might be pretty close to finishing the repairs to the medieval city walls at the Boulevard des 2E et 202E de Ligne. They have dismantled all of the scaffolding and are removing the material.

It’s been a long job and while I can’t remember how long exactly, it certainly seems to be well over time.

cherry picker Rue du Commandant Yvon rue couraye granville manche normandy franceDown into town and into the rue Couraye, where I noticed that the Rue du Commandant Yvon was blocked off and there was a cherry picker in the way.

In the nacelle of the cherry picker was a guy wielding a huge SDS-type power drill busy bashing his way into the side wall of the building here. No idea what he was doing, so I’ll have to go down there in a day or so and see what he’s been up to.

But wielding an electric power tool in the rain like this is not something that I would do too often.

polar bear rue st nicolas granville manche normandy franceIt was 10:30 when I arrived at the Centre Agora but before I went in to the building I stopped in the rue St Nicolas outside the shops there too look at the Christmas decorations.

We’d seen a couple of inflatable polar bears in Paris yesterday but here’s a wooden one outside the shops. Or maybe it’s supposed to be three, I dunno. But whatever it is, it’s having a good nibble at the Christmas Tree here, which is of course highly unlikely.

At that point I went into the meeting and we had the performance about which Mr Bates told you just now.

Once it was done, I walked off (the rain had eased somewhat) to LIDL and did some shopping. Supplies are running quite low here with me not having been to the shops neither on Thursday nor Saturday.

Quite an expensive shop it was too, seeing as supplies were quite low. But some of the money was spent on a new pair of tactile gloves which they had on offer and which I need for photography purposes seeing that mine are in the pocket of my jacket that’s hanging up on a hanger in a hotel room in Calgary.

Some more money was spent on a new pack of 4 rechargeable AAA batteries. I have dozens here of course but many are over 10 years old and are starting to become rather flaky. The new ones ( I have three sets now all told) will come with me on my travels and the older ones will be used for powering up the equipment in here where they can be changed over rapidly and easily.

On the way back down the hill I called at La Mie Caline for my dejeunette and then came back up the hill to home.

bad parking rue des juifs granville manche normandy franceNot quite at a gallop because I was loaded up with stuff like carrots and pears and 3kg of apples that were on special offer.

And I do admit to taking a little break on my climb as I stopped, mouth wide open in astonishment, as I watched what can best be described as the worst piece of bad parking that I have ever seen. And, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, we’ve seen some pretty bad ones on our travels

Yes, this one beats the lot to date.

rue des juifs granville manche normandy franceHere’s some woman in a car unloading her shopping. There’s an empty car parking place right outside her house, and two other empty places 20 metres higher up the street. So what does our heroine do?

She parks across the road right outside her hose, blocking the pavement off to pedestrians, even though there’s an empty parking place less than 5 metres away from where she’s stopped.

What makes it even worse is that this is a bus route and service buses come up here. But don’t let that trouble madam here. She’ll far rather inconvenience the whole world given half a chance rather than walk 15 feet with a shopping bag.

fishing boat towing pontoon baie de mont st michel port de granville harbour manche normandy franceThe bad weather wasn’t preventing the fishermen from going out about their business.

Here’s one of the fishing boats heading out into the rough seas of the Baie de Mont St Michel. And the seas will be rougher where he’ll be going too, so he’ll have his work cut out with towing a pontoon or lighter out there behind him. I hope that the cable is strong enough.

Outside the building I fell in with Brigitte and we had a very lengthy chat. She was impressed with my Traversée de Paris yesterday (was it only yesterday?) but we had to break off our chat as the rain came hammering down again. But she did say that she will be requiring Terry’s services again in the New Year. She has more work that needs doing.

After lunch, I had some work to do. Jackie is going for her Official Translator’s exam very shortly and needed her trial pieces proof-reading. Of course, if anyone wants any poof-reading, tpying or speling checked, then in the words of the late, great Bob Doney, “I’m your man”.

Once that was out of the way I had other work to do. We’d been told today that the radio programme that we recorded with Heidinnguaq Jensen and her friends was being broadcast on Tuesday evening (that’s a lot of notice, isn’t it?) and we will be fitting in some of the Nive Nielsen stuff too if there’s time.

That meant telling Heidinnguaq of course, and also everyone else who knew her and Nive. And so I had to extract about 400 names and e-mail addresses from a spreadsheet and prepare a text file address list. I know that I should have done this ages ago but you’ve seen how much work I have on hand and that’s not the half of it.

Copy-pasting one by one is clearly impractical and there HAS to be a way of doing it in bulk. It’s one thing that I’ve not done before so it took quite a bit of trial – and more than a little error – to get it to work.

And eventually I was able to make a start sending out the invitations. And as you might expect, the e-mail server crashed in mid-send and so I had to do some of them again. So if anyone had the same e-mail twice then I’m sorry about that but I had to guess where the break-off point was and I’d rather over-estimate than under-estimate.

In mid-afternoon I broke off for my usual perambulation around the promontory only to find that there was no battery in the camera. The warning light had started to flash earlier so I had put it on charge – and then forgotten. Like I’ve said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … Two things happen when you get to my age

  • Firstly, you forget absolutely everything
  • Secondly, I can’t remember what the second thing is

But I do remember that the rain started up yet again while I was out so I didn’t hang about for long.

Tea was a burger with pasta and veg and then my evening walk. It was teeming down outside so I wasn’t intending to be out long but by the time I’d turned for home on a dramatically shortened route I was so wet … “nothing new here” – ed … that I may as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb and went for a longer walk which included a couple of hundred metres of running. Must get back into shape.

trawler entering port de granville harbour manche normandy franceDespite the rain, I stayed out long enough to watch this trawler come into harbour.

The photo came out really nicely given the conditions, except for the lamp-post that somehow managed to fit itsself into the image. It was so dark out there that I hadn’t seen it

A few other things happened today that I ought to mention.

Firstly, there’s a “live broadcast” on Saturday night, the first that the radio station has attempted. Last Monday I mentioned that I was free on that evening but no-one took me up on the offer. Anyway, I mentioned it again and ditto.

So this afternoon I received a circular mail to the effect that “we’re having a meeting on Friday evening to discuss what we’re doing on Saturday”.
I wrote back “I assume that you won’t be needing me to attend seeing as I mentioned twice that I was free but no-one took up the offer of my availability”
Only to receive a hasty reply “of course we need you to help out and we’re looking forward to seeing you …”
But, we shall see.

Secondly, this “interview” that we are going to do with this musician on Wednesday. Apparently everyone can bring his wife, we’ll eat, we’ll sit round a table and talk, we’ll have music …. ”

What the heck is this all about?

  1. 20 questions typed out in French
  2. I ask them in English (not recorded, of course)
  3. The guy replies (in English)
  4. I overdub them in French with a nice British accent
  5. Then someone asks the questions in French, to no-one in particular but we record them
  6. We splice it all together

All done and dusted in half an hour and we all go home. I don’t have many hours left and I have so much to do and I won’t ever get these hours back that are being wasted.

Three times I’ve been dragged out halfway across Normandy to prepare for this blasted interview and nothing has been accomplished! Some people might have nothing better to do but I certainly have!

And that reminds me

That’s the last of my obligations dealt with now with this proof-reading. Tomorrow I can start with my own list of arrears.

  1. finish transcribing the dictaphone notes
  2. finish the blog entry for Saturday 10 days ago
  3. deal with the photos from Sunday last week onwards
  4. do another radio project (now I’m 3 weeks ahead I’m going to stay 3 weeks ahead)
  5. deal with all of the photos from when I was all at sea … “quite” – ed … for four months this year and from my nautical adventures last year too
  6. start to play the guitars again (which I haven’t touched for two weeks
  7. carry on searching for digital files for the vinyl and tapes that I have collected over the last 50 years

And that’s just the urgent stuff. There’s tons more going back to 2007 that needs to be dealt with although when I’m likely ever to get round to dealing with any of that given the rate that I’m currently dealing with things I don’t really have a clue.

So to start with, I’m going to try for an early night. There is nothing arranged for tomorrow so with luck I can sit down and have a really good crack at things here.

“Nothing arranged for tomorrow”. Yes, you just watch some basket come along and spoil that!

Thursday 12th December 2019 – WELL I NEVER …

… ever thought that I would make it to Leuven today. But here I am none-the-less, sitting in my little room in the Dekenstraat waiting for tomorrow and my rendezvous with doom at Castle Anthrax.

It all started so well too this morning, even though I was the first to realise that on a day of “National Action”, the situation can change in the blink of an eye.

Last night I wasn’t in bed as early as I would have liked, what with having a few things to do, but nevertheless I comfortably beat the second alarm call this morning, never mind the third.

During the night I’d been on my travels too. There was something going on about something to do with the radio last night. We were in Granville and it was to do with the copyright. Someone said that I had gone on for an hour doing something yet according to my calculations it was less than 10 minutes. But they insisted that it was an hour. Ann Myatt was there and she was getting involved in this argument about copyright and I wasn’t quite sure what was going on.

No time for breakfast or anything this morning. I made my butties (I’d bought an extra dejeunette yesterday) and generally packed my things for the trip. As well as that, I took all of the recycling down to the bins.

thora normandy trader port de granville harbour manche normandy franceEventually it was time to hit the streets so valiantly braving the rainstorm I set off.

The first thing that I noticed down in the harbour is that there had been a shuffle-round of the ships. Thora had moved place and that Normandy Trader was now in the unloading bay underneath the crane next to Marite. She must have slipped into port under cover of darness too.

And all that I can say is that Normandy Trader must have had a really rapid turn-round.

alstom regiolis gare de granville railway station manche normandy franceAt the station, much to my surprise, my train was in and waiting. Yes, start with some good luck because I didn’t expect it to hold out.

And I was right too.

Firstly, the station coffee machine was out of order. That always puts a dampener on any of my travels, that does.

Secondly, I don’t have much time to traverse Paris, and no Bourvil to carry my suitcase either so when they announced that “the train will be making a few additional stops” my heart sank into my boots.

eiffel tower paris franceThe weather was quite miserable though. There’s a good place to take a photo of the Eiffel Tower from the train and I was in a good place on the train to seeit and photograph it.

But not today though. There was a pile of damp mist and low cloud obscuring it and the photo was a waste of time.

12:05 is the arrival time of my train in the Gare Montparnasse-Vaugirard in Paris. We finally pulled into the station at 12:20. And with my train out from the Gare du Nord at 13:15 I needed to get a wiggle on.

No chance of the metro though. All closed off and boarded up with the strike.

Still, there’s always the Bus 39 so I hurtled off outside to the bus stop to find that everyone in the whole wide world had had the same idea. When the bus eventually came, we all piled in and were crammed in like sardines. I’ve never ever in my life been in such a crowded bus.

It wasn’t to last though. After about 5 or 10 minutes or so the driver announced that he wasn’t going to go to the Gare du Nord but his “colleague behind” will be doing the trip. We all had to alight knowing full well that we had been sold a pup, but there was nothing that we could do about it.

No “colleague behind” either. We were standing there like piffy on a rock for about 15 minutes until a 39 came by. It was already heaving but nevertheless there was a mad scramble and once the lucky first 10 had wedged themselves aboard, he closed the doors and off he shot, leaving the rest of us behind.

After about 10 minutes I realised that any further wait was pointless. I’d been keeping my eye open for a few minutes and then, sure enough, a taxi with his flag up came by. I let out a yell and he pulled up. Grabbing hold of the door to claim it, I shouted to the people at the bus stop “taxi share to the Gare du Nord?” but they all looked at me as if I have two heads – which I probably have. No-one came to join me so I set off alone with the driver and badger that lot!

Finding a taxi was one thing – getting to the station was another. Everything was conspiring to be in our way today and we eventually reached the Gare du Nord at 13:35. It cost me @24:00, which was not, I suppose, too unreasonable for Paris on a day of General Strike.

Next stop was at the Thalys office to negotiate a new train, but it turns out that it’s not them but the SNCF that I need to see (exactly the opposite of the situation last time) so I wandered off to their office.

tgv inoui gare du nord paris franceAnother lengthy wait but it was worth it because there was just one more train out to Lille – at 14:45 – and I managed to blag my way onto it, free, gratis and for nothing.

While I was waiting, I’d done some research. My new train is due to arrive in Lille at 15:48. There was a local train from Lille going across the border to Tournai in Belgium at 16:02 (arriving at 16:34) and an SNCB train from Tournai to Brussels at 16:44 (arriving at 17:48)

Having found my seat, I settled down and dozed off (and who can blame me after my exertions?).

I awoke some time later to find that our train was stationary in the countryside. “Obstruction on the line” was the reason. By the time that it was removed and we had set off again, I could see all of my hopes melting away into the distance. And when we finally arrived at Lille, it was 16:20 and my train had long-gone.

But I’m nothing if not determined. Browbeating an attendant, she sent me off to the SNCF offices to see what they could do. They could find me a Local train to Tournai at 18:08 but from there I would be on my own.

It sounded like a reasonable option to me though – at least I’d be on the right side of the border. But I was convinced that I could do better.

Off down the road to Lille Europe – the big new TGV railway station. It took ages to find my way in, due to all of the reconstruction, but eventually I made it to the SNCF office. After yet another long wait, I was told that they could get me on a TGV direct to Brussels – the next one being at 20:08. And the receptionist wasn’t very pleasant either about that.

Another option is the Eurostar office. I’d seen that there was a Eurostar from London to Brussels, calling at Lille-Europe at 17:30. I tracked down the Eurostar office and went in there with my sob story. The girl there listened, looked at me for a moment, had a little think, and then simply stamped my ticket “bon for voyage 17:30” – free, gratis and for nothing as well! She told me that I would have to make my own seating arrangements.

eurostar gare lille europe railway station franceAnd she was right too. The train was heaving and it took me ages to find a free seat. Probably the last one on the train.

But what was interesting was the ticket control on the station. It wasn’t the railway company as such that did the ticket checking but a couple of security guards. They were wandering up and down the platform checking people’s tickets on a rather ad-hoc basis rather than at a barrier at the head of the stairs, which would have been the most logical place to control the passengers.

They had a brief glance at my ticket, saw the rubber stamp from the girl in the office and that was that.

gare du midi brussels belgium We pulled in to Brussels-Midi at 18:11 and I had to wait until 18:28 for my train to leuven.

But no matter what, I wasn’t going to wait on the platform. There was one of those bitter, biting winds that finds its way through your clothing, your skin, your flesh and your bones. I came down onto the little walkway underneath the platforms where I could admire the station and the crowds of people.

Brussels-Midi is a very old station in the sense that it hasn’t been modernised any time recently, so it has a quaint kind of character all of its own that many main-line stations have lost.

class 18 electric locomotive december leuven railway station louvain belgium Bang on time at 18:28 our train pulled in and I was well on the way towards Welkenraedt.

Today we had one of the Class 18 electric locomotives, one of the workhorse classes of the Belgian SNCB that pull a great many of the long-distance trains around the country, even if their introduction to the railway network was not without its issues. But now you see them all over the place.

We finally pulled in to Leuven at about 19:00. And when you think about this, then despite all of the issues that I’d had, I was only two and a half hours later than normal. And Had I gone via Tournai on the train that I had planned, I would have been just 15 minutes ahead.

Now I’m settled in. Too late for the shops, I’ve had beans and chips for tea and now I’m off to bed. After all of that effort I think that I deserve it too.

How close was I to having my chips today?

fishing boats unloading port de granville harbour manche normandy france
fishing boats unloading port de granville harbour manche normandy france

christmas lights rue lecampion granville manche normandy france
christmas lights rue lecampion granville manche normandy france

Wednesday 11th Aoril 2018 – SO HERE I AM ONCE MORE …

… not in the playground of my broken dreams but in a little studio in the Dekenstraat in Leuven. Didn’t that four weeks go quickly?

But at least my body clock seems to be working okay still. Despite a night that was … errr … somewhat later than I intended, I was wide-awake at 05:40 and waiting for the alarm;

Despite not having breakfast and not having a shower, I still didn’t have time to do everything that I wanted to doso the floor will have to remain unwashed until I return. But I emptied the rubbish, bleached everything that needed bleaching, cut my fingernails and changed the bedding so that I’ll have nice clean comfortable bedding when I return.

Yes, I lead such an exciting life, don’t I? At least I remembered yesterday to turn off the electricity for the heating and the hot water, even if I did forget to unplug the machinery in the kitchen. And I also forgot the opened jar of jam that I was planning to bring with me.

For some reason or other the walk to the station didn’t take as long as it usually does and I was there in less than 20 minutes. Plenty of time for a coffee and a relax as despite what happened four weeks ago, the train wasn’t in the station.

When it did come in, it was a six-carriage train instead of the usual 12-carriage train, and the seats were not reserved. We could sit anywhere we liked. I chose a seat right at the front – less distance to walk at my destination. As we know, time is pretty important when on the Traversée de Paris without Bourvil to carry your suitcase.

We were late arriving at Paris Vaugirard due to track repairs and the subsequent congestion but there was no queue at the Metro ticket window so I was through there very quickly. And even better-I convinced them to sell me a carnet of 10 tickets which means that I don’t have to queue at all for the next few weeks. And a carnet comes at a substantial discount.

The metro was reasonably painless -line 4 to the Gare de l’Est and then line 5 to the Gare du Nord and that’ll be the route for the next while until the repairs to the Gare du Nord station on line 4 are completed. It’s all getting to be quite complicated.

For the first time so far this year I was able to sit outside and eat my butties. How long this weather will last, though is anyone’s guess. We’ll be back in the snow before long.

The TGV was packed yet again but I had a good spec. And much to my disappointment we arrived 10 minutes late in Brussels.

That meant that I had missed the train that I like and had to catch the older less-comfortable one instead.

And at the place here I had to wait around for the office guy to come with the keys.

So now having been shopping at Delhaize and had my tea, I really am going for an early night. I’ve been fighting off the sleep all day and I’m about done.

I’ll be up early tomorrow though. A shower and a clothes wash and then the hospital.

Tuesday 13th June 2017 – SO HAVING SLEPT …

… the Sleep Of The Dead until all of about 05:00, I was quickly up and about and under the shower for a good soaking. And having finally attacked the half-baguette and the jam that I had bought the other day, I was ready for anything.

Yes, quite!

Packing was exciting. I’m sure that I’m taking back more than I went out with, not including the two pairs of trousers. And so ramming it into the rucksack and the shopping bag was … errr … exciting. I wish that I had brought a larger bag with me now.

I was out early to the station because there’s a supermarket at the back where I was going to buy some lunch stuff (no tomatoes unfortunately because Bane of Britain seems to have forgotten to bring the sharp knife that lives in his rucksack pocket) but the presence of an express direct to Brussels-Midi on the platform prompted me to change my mind, and I legged it up the stairs mucho-el-rapido.

Early in Brussels, I went to see if I could change my TGV ticket for one on the earlier train. For some reason, the SNCF on-line booking doesn’t recognise the 10:13 TGV and instead books me on the 11:13. That just gives me an hour or so to perform the Traversée de Paris and that’s pretty tight, especially when I don’t have Bourvil to carry my suitcases for me.

Luckily there was a place on the earlier train. One day there won’t be, and that will be the day that there will be perturbations on the Metro or the TGV will run late.

There was still a few minutes to spare so I popped to the Carrefour on the station and bought a baguette, a couple of pears and a bottle of water. It’s going to be a long, hot day.

TGV Brussels mdid paris gare du nord franceThe train pulled in a couple of minutes early and much to my surprise the door to my carriage was exactly where I was standing, so I was second on board.

And heaving – there wasn’t room to swing a cat, and the poor moggy that was in the carry-basket of the person in front of me had to stay cooped up.

We did have a moment of excitement though, when my baguette slid off the overhead rail and almost fell down the cleavage of the woman in front. She stuck it back on the rack, and bent it too for good measure.

But what’s all this about cleavages just now?

It didn’t take long to cross Paris on the metro, which it never does when you allow plenty of time, and it gave me a good opportunity to go for a little exploration.

There’s a bus from Paris-Montparnasse directly to Charles de Gaulle airport, so I tracked that down and made “certain enquiries”, and the SNCF also has a suitcase collection and delivery service, and that can be extremely advantageous as my health declines. I made “certain enquiries” about that, too.

BB class 15000 507235 SNCF gare paris montparnasse vaugirard franceMy luck was in over at our side of the railway station. Here parked up at of the terminus platforms was a nez cassé, or “broken nose”.

These are the typical French SNCF electric locomotives built in the 1970s as part of the modernisation plans of the SNCF. They took the French railways to a new level, tanking along at a good 100 miles per hour without even drawing breath and despite being supplanted by the TGVs and being over 40 years old, most of them are still in service.

But it’s rare to find them over here. Their usual stamping ground is in the North-East of the country. That’s why I was so surprised to see one.

multiple unit paris montparnasse vaugirard railway station granville manche normandy franceNothing over 40 years old about our conveyance to Granville though. Not even 40 months old, these things.

It was totally heaving too, at least as far as Avranches, and for some reason I couldn’t make myself comfortable which is a change. And I was drifting in and out of sleep all the way up here. I’m not as young as I was. I didn’t do any work of any description, which is not like me as you all know.

But I was glad for the bottle of water because it really was a hot afternoon in the crowded train.

Bang on time we arrived, and so nice was the afternoon that instead of waiting for the bus, I set off to walk home.

sailing ship schooner in harbour granville manche normandy franceClimbing the hill out of town was a struggle so I stopped for five minutes or so to admire the view. And this gorgeous sailing boat is in here today.

No idea of her name, but she seems to be registered in Granville so I shall have to make some further enquiries. But what wouldn’t I give for a lap around the bay in her?

And this reminds me of the story of the sea captain who bought the land at the bottom of a shallow bay in order to create a colony. But while only a mere handful of people expressed an interest, no-one would board his ship.

They all thought that his barque was worse than his bight.

Back here, I crashed out for a while and then made a quick tea out of tins. I wasn’t going to hang about because I really was tired. It took a lot out of me, these three days.

But at least on the train I can do it in three days. Not a chance of that if I were to drive. And it cost me just €195 for the trip. Diesel would have cost me €160, and then we have the autoroute tolls, a hotel each way at the mid-point and all of the stress.

No, going on the train is the way to go without a doubt.

Sunday 16th April – I’M GLAD …

… that I was up and about something lively-like, because I had all kinds of issues on my journey today.

But to put things in their proper order, let’s start right back at the beginning.

My sleeping habits aren’t improving any just now – we were back with the early-morning interruptions again, bu nevertheless I did manage to drop back off to sleep again and stay like that until the alarm went off.

But my nocturnal ramblings of the night were quite disturbing. I was trying to do something with my living accommodation – decorating it or something – and every single (and even the married) member of my family was there – standing in the way and generally obstructing me from proceeding with what I was trying to achieve. That really is the story of my life, I suppose, as you well-know.

Breakfast was quickly over and then I set to in the studio, tidying it up and packing things away. Making sandwiches was the plan too, but I noticed that the bread had “turned” and so all of that went in the bin instead. Luckily, and I had forgotten to mention it and I don’t know why, the other day Alison and Jenny had brought me some vegan snacks (which was very nice of them) and so I stuffed a few in my back-pack. They will do fine for the journey.

And so having left my hotel early, I arrived at the railway station early. This meant that instead of taking the 09:29, I could leap aboard the 09:09.

Old, dirty and smelly. But that’s enough about me – let’s talk about the train instead. and even though it went via the airport, it arrived at Bruxelles-Midi well ahead of the one that I should have taken. And I’m glad that I wasn’t going to the Costa Stella today because the stations were heaving with holidaymakers.

All of the foregoing meant that when I arrived at Bruxelles-Midi the TGV to Paris at 10:13 hadn’t arrived yet. I’d planned to be on the 11:13 and I wasn’t looking forward to the mad scramble across Paris with the perturbations on the Metro and so, seizing the initiative, I went to blag my way on board the earlier train.

tgv paris nord bruxelles midi belgium april avril 2017The negotiations took probably longer than the journey would have done, but nevertheless they found a seat for me and we were away. The train was packed too – I probably had the last free seat on board.

Ordinarily the crowd would have bothered me (as you know, I don’t “do” crowds). There were a few things that I had wanted to do in Brussels too and that bothered me too, but I was far more bothered about La Traversée de Paris, and I didn’t have Jean Gabin, Bourvil and Louis de Funès to help me out.

And I’m glad that I caught the earlier train too. Because I took the signposted deviation to Paris Montparnasse thinking that it would be quicker than the route that I had picked out.

And wasn’t that a mistake?

Line 6 came to a shuddering halt half-way down the route and we ended up being decanted into a bus to take us the rest of the way to the Porte d’Italie and the connection to Montparnasse.

I’ll tell you something for nothing – and that is that had I caught the train that I should have caught, I would have been struggling to be on time. As it was, I had enough time to sit and catch my breath and eat a packet of vegan crisps. Struggling on the Paris Metro is not for the faint-hearted and I can imagine that if you are disabled, it would be totally impossible.

That’s not the best of it either, because the line out of Montparnasse is under repair and we ended up being bussed to Dreux. I had a pleasant companion next to me, but I spent the journey with my eyes closed catching up on my beauty sleep.

At Dreux, there isn’t a toilet at the railway station, would you believe. You have to use the publics down the road, and these are pay toilets too. I declined and decided to hold out until I was on the train.

train sncf dreux granville manche normandy franceSo here’s my train, in the station at Granville. And just look at the beautiful weather that greeted me when I arrived.

The journey had been completely uneventful – the guard didn’t even want to check the tickets – and I had a nice, relaxing journey back here.

I’d been a bit nervous about where I’d had to park Caliburn for the time that I was in Leuven, but he was unscathed and that cheered me up. We all headed out to Jullouville and my hotel for the next two nights.

As for tonight’s hotel, the Hotel des Pins in Jullouville, I’ve stayed in many worse places than this too. The town is a bit miserable too – a holiday resort and not much at all in the way of food. I made myself a pile of vegetables from the tins out of Caliburn – that will keep me going for a bit anyway.

And now it’s an early night. I’ve had a hectic day and it’s taken a lot out of me.