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Thursday 26th December 2019 – I HOPE THAT …

… you all had a very nice, enjoyable and relaxing break from work. I know that I did – I did badger all today!

What with a really late night (or, more like, early morning) last night, I didn’t feel quite like getting up when I awoke at … err … 07:00. That wasn’t part of the plan. 09:45 was much more like it. At least it wasn’t as late as yesterday morning, was it?

Medication first, of course, and once it started to work I could have breakfast, including my fig roll thing without any jam.

After that, it was time to attack the dictaphone notes from my voyages through the night. And a welcome return to Castor, putting in her first appearance for several weeks, so hello to you!

Yes, she was there last night. I was doing some photography of the Civil War and she was helping me out but then of course I was on the Southern side and we were overwhelmed by the Northerners. I told her to make a run for it, to get out while the going was good but she couldn’t run so in the end she ended up staying with me. I had to think up various ways to avoid us being captured or recaptured by the Union Army, but I woke up almost immediately with a streaming head cold.
A little later on I’d been at work and I’d had all sorts of fun trying to go home. Previously I’d gone along and bought a pass for the train, which had cost me so much money, so I went and organised that. Then I gave the woman at the cash desk a ticket for another €50:00. She asked “ohh do you want another one?” I said “no, I want a 10-ride ticket for the … Err … STIB they call it in Brussels but it’s the De Lijn service in Antwerp”. She said “yes I can give you one of those but you know that it’s for all of Flanders”. I said “yes, but I just want it for Antwerp”. She gave me one of those. I took those and went outside, I wanted to go home but I heard a former friend of mine shout me from across the street “isn’t it tonight we’re going to this auto wiring course?” I thought “yes it is actually” but I couldn’t remember whether it was at 18:00 or 19:00 and in any case I was too tired and in no real mood to go. We got to a road junction, I was on foot, and I had to go to the right but it was getting difficult to turn. I couldn’t work out how I was going to turn in front of all this traffic. In the end I just stepped out and walked across the road hoping that the traffic would stop which was something that I wouldn’t normally do, but I did it then. The conversation then moved on to a discussion about the radio programmes. I said something like “my radio programmes …” but a couple of people said “OUR radio programmes …” because of course they were the audience. Anyway I can’t remember where it went after this. It certainly went somewhere but I just don’t remember any more of it.
But somewhere in that dream just then there was something about music as well – I was having to organise some music for a play in the theatre and I’m not quite sure where that fitted in either. But later on I was with TOTGA or Castor someone like that, someone I was very attached to. I’d been talking to my brother earlier in hospital where he was a patient about working hours regulations in Victorian days. When I came back, there was TOTGA or Castor or whoever poring over some kind of document which was talking about working hours and how they were having to work a lot longer hours in those days. I said “yes, funnily enough I was just talking to my brother about this and how they reduced the working hours from 6 days to 5.5” – or 7 days to 6 days, I can’t remember now. She said “yes but this is only 3 days”. I said that that would be a three day shift – Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and then they’d do Thursday Friday Saturday then they would have a day off”. She said “no, it definitely refers to Yo-Yo here”. That was her way of sounding on three days on and three days off. We had a bit of a discussion about that because I could see her point of view and the logic behind her argument but I was convinced that she was wrong. That’s not the way that I understood working hours to have worked in Victorian times.

After that, I have emulated my namesake the mathematician by doing three-fifths of five-eights of … err … nothing whatsoever. I’ve just sat around doing some personal stuff and drinking a couple of cans of alcohol-free beer. I suddenly realised that back i last January I had bought a whole tray of the stuff from NOZ and it needed drinking.

There was however football on the internet. The Welsh Premier League, Caernarfon v Bala Town. Bala have probably two of the top five players in the Welsh Premier League – Henry Jones and Chris Venables – in their team and they can be devastating when they are on form, which unfortunately isn’t as often as it should be.

As I have said before … “and you’ll say again” – ed … the biggest problem in the Welsh Premier League is the lack of consistency.

On the other hand, Caernarfon doesn’t have any star players but their manager Sean Eardley has moulded them into a proper team. They are one of the few sides that actually does play like a team rather than a collection of individuals, and they are urged on by the largest and most partisan crowds by a country mile in Welsh domestic football.

Caernarfon had by far the most of the play and hit the woodwork on a couple of occasions but Tibbetts in the Bala goal didn’t have too much to do. Bala on the other hand had few chances but took those that they had, although had Alex Ramsey not been stuffed full of Christmas pudding he might have prevented them.

2-1 to Bala it finished, and I suppose that it was about right. And Bala’s goalscorer? Chris Venables got them both.

fishing boat english channel granville manche normandy franceBefore the football though, I went out for my afternoon walk, having missed the morning one again today.

Although it wasn’t raining, it was pretty near enough and you can tell from the photo of this fishing boat out there in the English Channel just how miserable the weather was.

In fact I was glad that I didn’t have to go very far.

fishing boat english channel granville manche normandy franceHere’s another fishing boat out there in the English Channel. In fact I counted about half a dozen out there fishing today.

So I carried on with my walk. Crowds of people out there braving the miserable, grey skies, but (for a change no-one whom I knew).

And like yesterday, I went the long way round, down the new pathway that reopened in early summer.

fishing boat not always afloat but safely aground NAABSA port de granville harbour manche normandy franceAll along the watchto … errr .. quayside I went and over to the Fish Processing plant to see what was happening here.

In nautical terms, this is called NAABSA – “Not Always Afloat But Safely Aground” – and you’ll see many harbours described in pilots’ handbooks as “NAABSA” harbours, which means that the ships will sit safely on the bottom when the tides go out and refloat when they come back in.

Some big ships -and big harbours – too.

fishing boat not afloat but safely aground NABSA port de granville harbour manche normandy franceRegular readers of this rubbish will recall the gravel boats of a couple of thousand tonnes that come here occasionally.

Sometimes they unload at Ridham Dock, near Sittingbourne in Kent, and Ridham Dock is a NAABSA harbour.

But none of the foregoing will explain why this fishing boat is sitting here like piffy on a rock with the tide long-since gone out to sea.

With tha harbour gates closed, I walked across the footway over the top and down that side of the harbour, but there was nothing going on there today. For a change, the gates were open which saved me a mountaineering effort like I had on Christmas Eve.

house falling down fenced off rue ernest lefrant granville manche normandy franceFor a change I walked through a few of the back streets of the town centre and came to a section where a couple of side streets have been closed off.

It seems that the reason for this is to do with this house here in the rue Ernest Lefrant. Reading the notices plastered to the door, it seems that this is a wooden-framed house and the wood on two sides is in such bad condition that there is a risk of it all collapsing.

This is the second risque de péril imminente notice that we’ve seen just recently. A house and shop in the rue Couraye was served with a similar notice just before Christmas.

legalise crabe extra rue ernest lefrant granville manche normandy franceAlso in the rue Ernest Lefrant is this strange graffiti on the side wall of a building.

Don’t ask me to what it’s referring because I have no idea. But I do recognise the style and it’s very similar to a lot of other bizarre graffiti around the town.

That’s something else that I shall have to add to my list of things to do – track down the author and ask him what “legalise crabe extra” is all about

fishing boat port de granville harbour manche normandy franceWith nothing else going on in town I headed for home and my football match.

Quite a few people out and about in the rue des Juifs, and there was now a lot going on in the outer tidal harbour too. The fishing boats that had been queueing up outside were now starting to come in to unload.

You jusst need to look at the seagulls hovering around to tell that this boat is fully loaded with a decent catch.

fishing boats port de granville harbour manche normandy franceBut you can see how quickly the tide turns and comes in here in Granville.

There’s just 35 minutes between the photo of the fishing boat aground earlier on and this photo here and the fishing boat is now well in the water.

You can see how many of the smaller fishing boats come in to unload here, and the crowds of people up on top with their vehicles and equipment helping to unload the catch.

After the football I had tea – vegetables and pasta tossed in olive oil, tarragon, black pepper, garlic and vegan cheese. And followed by Christmas cake for pudding.

Only a short walk this evening though. It was raining really heavily and there was what Doctor Spooner would have called a “Sea Pouper” meaning that you couldn’t see very far in front. Soaked to the skin after half a mile so I gave up and came home.

The new strings on the acoustic bass are really good and it now plays like it’s supposed to, for the first time. It was a pleasure to play along to some music on the computer.

So it’s late and I’m tired, so off to bed. Work starts again tomorrow and there’s a lot to do. I need to be on form.

Monday 1st July 2019 – IT WAS SOMETHING …

… of a rather depressing night. I had a shower as soon as I got into my room and gave my clothes a quick wash and then, still dripping rather wet, I crawled into bed.

Bed is one thing. Sleep is something else completely. And so it was that I lay awake tossing and turning as the clock rolled on.

However I must have gone to sleep at some point because I was off on my travels at a certain moment. This was another thing where something went wrong. I was with Percy Penguin – at least, it was her but then again it wasn’t – and it was all about cars and so on. I’d arranged to meet Percy Penguin (who doesn’t feature in my notes half as often as she deserves) and I picked her up and we went for a meal. She was asleep on the sofa in this hotel. Everyone was gradually being served and in the end there was just me, another guy and Percy Penguin asleep on the sofa. A woman from the restaurant came out and said “I suppose that you three are all together”. I replied that we were all on our own, except that I might possible be with that girl there. Percy Penguin sat up so I sat next to her and we had the menus. We agreed on a starter and then we had to choose the wine for the wine list. I asked “what wine do you want?” as if she would know.She didn’t so I ordered a nice bottle of full-bodied red Burgundy. The waitress said “oh I don’t have a Burgundy”. I expressed my astonishment that a restaurant wouldn’t have a Burgundy. So I said “how about a Sancilly?”. I explained to Percy Penguin that that came from the area where I lived. The woman looked at me rather peculiarly so she went off to fetch it. Percy Penguin asked about the main course. We hadn’t ordered a main course.I said that maybe we do that a bit later after we’ve had the starter.She said that all the back of my head was oily. I said that I had been working on a car, lying underneath it. She wondered why I hadn’t had it washed. I said that it was almost time to come and pick her up. I hadn’t had time to wash.

At this point I sat up bolt-upright. 04:45. This isn’t any good at all. But nevertheless I was glad that I was awake because I wasn’t disturbed by the alarm on the Canadian phone that, not having adjusted itself to UK time, rang and awoke the Dead at 05:00

That was the cue for me to write up my blog notes for yesterday, which I hadn’t done, not having gone to bed until late.

Rosemary rang me at about 07:00 or so, so I went down to the hotel lobby to say hello. We had a chat and then she went off to breakfast and I went back upstairs to organise myself.

At about 08:45 we met up again, suitcases in hand, and headed off to the bus stop in the cold, cloudy, overcast weather. We just missed a 727 bus and had to wait 10 minutes for the one behind.When it turned up, I found out that my Pound coins were out of date so Rosemary had to help out with the fare.

We were dropped off at the bus station which is right opposite the docks. Finding the docks is one thing, but finding our berth was somewhere else. The first guy at the spoke to in the harbour was more interested in telling me off about crossing a forbidden line than helping us out.

He sent us to the ferry terminal where they were none-the-wiser. However they did suggest that we try elsewhere, being right back where we started by the bus station.

There was an intercom there so I tried to speak to someone but I couldn’t hear a word. Eventually I picked up the phrase “security lodge” and seeing a security lodge in the distance, we headed that way, apparently crossing yet another forbidden line.

This time we had been picked up on CCTV for a rather irate security guard in a pick-up came to tell us off. But when we explained what we were looking for he told us to follow him (not easy when you are dragging suitcases behind you and he’s in a pick-up).

Eventually we caught up with him and, much to my surprise, he knew where we had to go. But knowing is one thing, walking that distance was something else. After a very weary trudge we eventually found our berth.

Finding it is one thing – getting to it was quite another.Negotiating a security gate and moving a barrier, being stopped and searched by security, we were eventually allowed in and we were ushered on board The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour.

Much to my surprise, there were a few people whom I recognised from last year, such as Ashley and Yulya. And of course they asked the obvious question – “how’s Strawberry Moose?.

And they were delighted to hear that he’s once more managed to stow himself aboard. As I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … he’s far more popular with the ladies than I am ever likely to be.

I found my way to my own cabin – right next door to the one that I had last year. And I dumped my stuff and made my way back to the reception to meet my fellow passengers. On this leg of the journey we are a grand total of just SIX. “One deck each” I quipped.

A delicious lunch was served, and afterwards Rosemary and I headed off into town for a walk. We found a branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland where, at long last, I could activate my bank cards and change the PINS. And also to swap over my bad money for some good stuff.

We then went for a little wander around the Granite City for half an hour or so, and then headed back to the ship where I bumped into my room cleaner from last year.

Back on board, I had a shower, a clean-up and a change of clothes, doing a little washing along the way. I need to keep on top of my washing otherwise I’ll run out of clothes.

With plenty of time to kill before tea, we all had a chat about nothing much, and then came the safety briefing.
“One short blast on the ship’s siren means put on warm clothing”
“Two short blasts on the ship’s siren means come aloft”
“Three short blasts on the ship’s siren means put on lifebelts”
“Four short blasts on the ship’s siren means abandon ship”
“One long blast on the ship’s siren means that the ship’s siren is stuck”

Tea was even more delicious than lunch, and that was saying something. And then we sat around for ages watching all kinds of shipping leave the harbour – except us of course. This 22:00 departure time is turning out to be some kind of Spanish 22:00.

It was just after 23:00 when the tug pulled us away from the quayside, and then we pulled it forward out of the harbour. And as it attempted to disengage, something caught up somewhere and the rope snapped with an incredible force. Had we been a couple of decks lower, we would have been decapitated.

We watched Aberdeen disappear into the dusk and rain, and then called it a night. 128% of my daily effort, 9.4 kms walked. I’m ready for bed.

Sunday 30th June 2019 – SO HERE WE ALL ARE …

… not exactly sitting in a rainbow but sitting in the bedroom of a relatively comfortable hotel in, would you believe, Aberdeen.

And how unhappy am I?

Having made a special enquiry, and had it specially confirmed, that there was a hotel shuttle bus, necessary in view of the amount of luggage that I have and the state of my knee, I telephoned the hotel when I arrived at the airport only to be told “we don’t have a driver on tonight”.

So I had to hobble, dragging my load behind me, for about a mile up the steep hill to the hotel.

On arrival, in quite some distress with my breathing problems and the like, I was given a room on the second floor (despite having asked for a low floor) – and there’s no lift. So I had to drag my load up two flights of stairs.

As you can see, despite the fact that this nice modern hotel could be such good value for money (very rare in the UK)if it were to have staff and management wh actually cared about the customers, here’s one very unhappy bunny.

And the UK? I have said (on many occasions) that I would never ever set foot in this accursed country again, but needs must when the devil drives.

With it being Sunday morning I was hoping to have my usual Sunday lie-in but after last night’s quite dramatic crashing-out, I shouldn’t have been surprised at all by sitting bolt-upright at 06:44. Not what I intended at all.

Plenty of time to go off on a nocturnal ramble.

I was doing a coach tour again last night, down in the South of France and I was picking up passengers all over the place. I couldn’t find the paperwork for the moment telling me who and where I was picking folk up. So I was doing as fast as I can, and ending up at the final stop I was one person short. So I wondered where on earth I’d got this one person short. While I was waiting I was chatting to people and some woman came up to me to ask me what I thought of the passengers – what I thought of this woman, what I thought of that man. Despite my being very non-committal which I always tried my best to be I was shaking my head and pulling a face at some of them. I certainly hadn’t intended to do that. Eventually I found the piece of paper and found that I had left three people behind at Dijon and that was over an hour back. I thought “how am I going to explain this?” because I’d have to ring up the company to say that I didn’t get them and if I had the paperwork I could have done that. But Dijon is this thing and I might have to go all the way back and upset all of the passengers before I’d even started. One woman pulled the voyage list that I had to read it and of course i had to pull it back before she could as passengers aren’t supposed to read the voyage list with everyone’s name and address on it.
Later on I’d been in Crewe last night with Margaret Armstrong’s old Ford Cortina and parked it up in Bedford Street. I’d walked through the alleyway round all the backs of the houses round the back of Chambers Street and Catherine Street and all of those places, walking for a while around there. There were all kinds of exciting things round there, round Gresty Road where My sister used to live it had all been transformed with some kind of building built onto the backs of the houses over the back yards, and a derelict house that I had once looked at, that was all derelict too and the roof and attic too of this “new build” extension. And some weird semi-detached houses, quite modern design all covered in ivy, and some older semi-detached houses derelict and bricked up. Unkempt gardens and all kinds of things like that. There was a girl there, walking in my direction back to the car, on the phone so I passed her once, she passed me and I passed her again. As I got to the car she came over to me “you’ve got the zodiacs, haven’t you?” I said that they are actually on board the ship and that’s off the coast of Scotland at the moment”. “Well I want to make the white cloth to throw over them” So I said that I would get the measurements the next time that I’m up there, which will be in a couple of weeks’ time..

Firstly though, I had to find my medication. But I’ve packed it so well that it remains well and truly packed and I probably shan’t find it until I return home, whenever that might be, because now that I have my French Carte de Sejour I’m not in any hurry to go home.

After breakfast I attacked yesterday’s blog and then went out to the station. Now 09:30 so Subway should be open to buy something for lunch, and to buy my rail ticket. But much to my surprise, Subway was closed. And none of my raisin buns in Carrefour either so instead I had to go back down into the bowels of the station to the Delhaize and that came up trumps with a vegan falafel salad, demi-baguette and a fruit mixture thing. The guy at the till even found me a plastic cutlery set to eat it with.

So on the way back out, Subway was just opening up. That’ll teach them!

Back at the hotel I collected up everything, organised myself, grabbed my stuff and went off to pay for my two breakfasts. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I’ve paid the booking agency in advance for a couple of breakfasts in a couple of places, only for the hotel to have “no trace” of the breakfast payment. So now I pay on-site if I’m breakfasting.

Down to Brussels-Midi station in time to leap aboard a Nederlandse Spoorwegen train to Amsterdam via the airport. It threw me out here. And here I am, in the departure lounge of Brussels Zaventam Airport, waiting for an aeroplane. And I hope that the Big Old Jet Airliner will carry me far away.

I eventually found the flight desk, which was not yet open and so I had a lengthy wait, spent talking to a couple from Australia and a young guy who looked like a Pacific islander from Baltimore.

Check-in was quite straightforward and Security even more straightforward. If only it would be as simple as this in other airports. Now I’m sitting quietly waiting to find out which terminal my flight will dock at, and I’m clearly in Travelling Mode because I’m listening to Colosseum Liveand I’ll probably follow it up by listening to On The Road by Traffic. My two favourite travelling albums.

We we were eventually called to our aeroplane. It was now moored at gate A60 at the far end of the terminal from where I was so I had something of a hike, which will probably do me good anyway.

I didn’t have long to wait and much to my surprise we were very quick in boarding the ‘plane. There were only a handful of empty seats but it was only a small ‘plane. I asked the stewardess if it was a Fokker and she replied “no, it’s quite well-behaved”. But I made a note of its registration – PH-EXT. That tells me that It’s an Embraer 190.

The name of the stewardess was Suske so I asked her what she had done with Schanulleke. But as Kenneth Williams and Alfred Hitchcock once said, and as I have repeated on many occasions, “it’s a waste of time telling jokes to foreigners”.

Once the ‘plane took off I switched on the laptop, put it onto flight mode, and started to listen to “Lost Angeles” once more. But it was quite pointless because no sooner had it all fired up than I had to switch off because we had gone into the arrivals path. In fact, I think that we spent more time manoeuvring on the ground than we spent in the air.

It’s not all that far to Schiphol from Zaventem and I could have gone by TGV from Bruxelles-Midi but believe it or not, it would have worked out more expensive. And that’s something that I don’t understand.

And I’m pretty annoyed because I have to wait 5 hours or so for a connection. There was a flight that went my way that took off 5 minutes before we landed but, would you believe, it was delayed and I could in theory have gone on that had I realised and run for it.

So now I have to wait. I sat and ate my delicious falafel salad and bread.

To reach my flight I had to pass through passport control and for some reason I was grabbed for a security check. I always have bad experiences at Schiphol, as I remember from last time.

I was given the “works” and was preparing myself for the cavity search when they suddenly found what had drawn their attention to me. “No, those aren’t bullets in a magazine. They are AAA batteries in a battery holder”.

It was weird at the terminal. People were actually locked into their departure lounge and if you weren’t on that particular flight you were locked outside. I had to wait for ages until the departure lounge cleared and they tidied it up before I was allowed in.

In the meantime they had changed departure lounges without saying anything and I almost found myself going to Glasgow. I had to hurry along down the corridor.

The place to Aberdeen was packed, and it was a big plane too. PH-BGK, a Boeing 737 called Noordse Stormvogel . They asked for volunteers to send their hand luggage into the hold and I volunteered. Less to have to carry around.

And it seemed that everyone knew each other. Probably Shell oil workers flying back to the platforms after a weekend off.

We had to wait for 20 minutes too. There was a connection that arrived late and some of our passengers were on it. And then when they arrived, we had to wait again for a free slot. However, we arrived in Aberdeen only a few minutes late.

Immigration was relatively painless and our bags were already out when we arrived in the hall.

And then I had my issues with the hotel.

Once installed in my room I had a nice, welcome shower and washed my rather sweaty undies, and now I’m off to bed. I’ve had enough of today. And this might be the last you’ll hear from me for a while, so don’t be disappointed. Check back regularly until normal service will be resumed.

Tuesday 12th June 2018 – I’VE HAD ONE …

… of those days where no matter how hard I’ve tried, I’ve gone one pace forward but two paces backwards. It’s frustrating.

It didn’t help matters by being wide awake yet again at 05:20 this morning. I’m not sure why either because there was no noise about and I hadn’t wet the bed either.

Nevertheless, it was a much more sensible and respectable 06:30 when I crawled out from under the covers and faced the world.

After the usual morning routine and a relax, I started on the clothes ordering. That’s n°1 task.

My choice of clothing is really easy – it’s all black and yellow and comes mostly from a place in St Helens, UK where they embroider my own little logo onto the clothes. Stuff there is reasonably cheap, reliable, reasonable quality and it saves me having to worry about what to wear.

It’s been nearly six years since I last had a clothing order and what I’m wearing now, the polo shirts particularly, are looking their age. A bit baggy and faded. So high time that I had some new stuff. The older stuff will make their way to Canada and stay in Strider

All of that took much more time than it should because there was a continual series of interruptions. I can’t even remember what they are now

Apart from that, having had an unbelievable success the other day in resurrecting an old hard drive I had a go at resurrecting a dead laptop and two old external drives. But unfortunately lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same place and I have been singularly unsuccessful in that respect.

Lunch was taken inside today seeing as it was a miserable overcast morning. But by the time that I went out for my evening walk it had brightened up and was quite pleasant.

art exhibition place maurice marland granville manche normandy franceThere’s a street fair here in the old town at the weekend where loads of artists will be exhibiting their works of art.

This involves quite a bit of preparation and they seem to be prettying up the Place Maurice Marland already with huge photos, although whatever might be impressive about these has totally passed me by, I have to say.

And I wonder what the wooden framework is for. I suppose that I’ll find out in due course.

Minette was waiting for me on her windowsill and let me pick her up for a stroke again this evening. I seem to be quite popular these days.

This afternoon though, as well as tackling the guitar, I’d had another session on that blog entry that I’m trying to update. I thought that I wasn’t making much progress but when I realise that so far I’ve written a world-record 3878 words and there’s still a long way to go, and what I have written has involved a lot of research, then maybe I have made more progress than I realise.

For tea tonight there was a little bit of Bombay potato left over from before I went away. I added a small tin of mushrooms to it and made some rice with vegetables. That made a decent meal.

but it wasn’t until I found myself drifting off just now that I realised that I’d gone all day up to that point without falling asleep. And with such an early start too. But I’m not going to crow. One swallow doesn’t make a summer, as I have said before.

I’ll go to bed shortly anyway and have a good sleep. I need to do some serious thinking tomorrow and concoct a cunning plan because ill as I am, I’m not going to let the grass grow under my feet.

And incidentally – have I had those two quotes from BUT and LeClerc yet?

Friday 28th July 2017 – NOW HERE’S A FIRST!

Yes, I’ve been for a walk in the dark.

In fact, I’d just finished tea when Rosemary telephoned me. And with chatting about this and that, and all things considered, it was about 22:15 when we hung up.

A couple of weeks ago, that would have been broad daylight. But not so tonight. Cold, cloudy, windy – and dark! I can’t wait for it to be dark at a sensible hour so that I can have an hour outside with the new camera and see just how good its much-vaunted “low light” facility might be.

And Rosemary is just as bewildered as I am about what is happening in the UK right now. But don’t get me started on politics. I vowed that I would avoid them in this reincarnation of the blog.

I’d had a really good night’s sleep too. out like a light without a care in the world. And off on a mega-ramble too that was so exciting that I reached for the dictaphone to record it. And by the time that I’d put my hand upon the aforementioned, every single thought about where I’d been had completely evaporated.

Something that’s happening far too often these days.

After breakfast and a nice shower, I went off to the shops. And apart from a pack of button-cell batteries on offer in LIDL (I remember thinking when I had the remote-control issues the other day that I didn’t have any of those) I bought nothing exciting at all.

My trip – just to LIDL and LeClerc, came to a mere €23:00 and I was back here for 11:00.

But I do like the frozen vegetables in LeClerc, and when I come back, I’ll be buying a small freezer. The choice is endless and won’t that improve my diet!

Frozen veg is generally fresher than fresh veg, and you have much more choice – living alone means that you can only buy small quantities, and they don’t do small quantities of leeks, sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, that kind of thing.

And diesel – down to €1:10 at LeClerc – and queues a mile long too.

Lunch was on the wall as usual in the uncertain weather, and the Woman With The Dog came to say hello. As I said, people are noticing me now. I’m not sure whether that is a good or bad thing.

Apart from that, I’ve been on the blog doing the Canada 2012 updating. It’s not easy and I’ve only managed to unravel two pages – this one and this one – so far.

But never mind the slow progress – that’s two more pages than were done yesterday so we’re heading in the right direction.

The big question is though – will I finish this rewriting, or will the rewriting finish me?

Tuesday 18th July 2017 – CRASH! BANG!

No, I’m not doing the washing-up.

There I was at lunchtime sitting on my wall at lunchtime eating my butties and admiring the view (and watching the Grima depart for Jersey with a full load of stuff on board) and thinking to myself “it’s going a bit dark across the bay round by Cancale”.

Back here at about 15:30 the most enormous hurricane sprang up – totally astonishing; I stuck my head out of the window and I could see the wild storm lashing the rocks.

About 5 minutes later it went as black as pitch and I thought “hey up – we’ll get the lot in a minute!” and I hadn’t even finished saying it when there was the most impressive flash of lightning followed by an incredible thunderclap.

And then we had the rain.

Sheets and sheets of it, with the orchestra and light show rumbling on and on.

It all cleared up after about half an hour and we were then back in the sunshine. But that was so impressive. I really enjoyed the show.

What else that was impressive was that I was out like a light last night and slept right though until the alarm went off.

I don’t remember too much abut my little voyage last night though. Except that it was in Luxembourg – or was it Liechtenstein – and a visit to the country’s tax office, only to find that because of the small size of the country there wasn’t enough room for the Government offices there so they were all in the next town in a neighbouring country.

Today, I’ve been pressing on with the blog. And most of the time has been spent on just one particular page. 2300 or so words on there, and it’s hard to believe that there wasn’t even a placeholder there before.

Not only that, I’ve probably done another 9 or 10 too and I’m in April 2011. And I would have done even more had I not … errr … had a little rest.

Won’t be so easy in a bit though because there’s a huge mess of pages to untangle from when I was in the UK. It’s hard to believe that I went from March 2009 to early summer 2011 without setting foot in the Perfidious Albion except for a day trip to pick up the tile cutter.

But then again, apart from a quick day trip for Terry’s slates, I’ve not been there since December 2012. And I can’t say that I miss it any. My future is well and truly here.

And those of you with long memories will remember me moaning a while back about a data cable for my Canadian mobile phone, and Rhys using the medium of the “comments” page to show me on that he had seen?

Well, it arrived in the post today.

So many grateful thanks from me, and you will be receiving a plain brown envelope in the post shortly after I set foot in Montreal.

The comments facility on this blog is a powerful thing. Why don’t you try it some time?

Thursday 13th July 2017 – IF YOU WANT TO KNOW …

… the answer to a question, the most important thing to do is to ask the question.

And I now know all about the Pluto and the Victress.

I was flat-out in my stinking little pit when the alarm went off this morning. Which totally surprised me because I’m lucky to be still here

I was well-away with the fairies last night, starting off on my old Honda Melody looking for an ice cream. And on the way back I was passed by a couple riding horses rather recklessly down a narrow street. 100 yards further on they had been stopped by a plain-clothes policeman in a silver Range Rover who was giving them both a lecture and an on-the-spot fine, so as I rode past, I made a few remarks of … errr … “encouragement”. It was then that I realised that I had no insurance, road tax or MoT and with the number plate I knew that it would be checked immediately. No hope of flight of course so after a minute or two of wracking my brains I decided to leave the bike in the back yard where I lived and clear off. Of course I did that but I hadn’t gone 50 yards when the landlady stuck her head out of the back gate and told me that I was wanted. No hope of escape now.
A little later I was on a push-bike going into Newcastle upon Tyne. But it certainly wasn’t the Newcastle upon Tyne that I ever knew. I’d taken the route twice and so didn’t have my map with me but I was pretty certain of where I was going so it was no problem. So down the hill, turn left and then round this sweeping right-hand bend following the tramlines – a road that would take me very close to the city centre. But here on this corner, people kept stepping off the kerb right in front of me. And for some reason or other, this degenerated into a situation that appears quite regularly in my nocturnal voyages – namely that I have Mark III Ford Cortinas scattered all over the town in various states of MoT and Tax and Insurance, and I need to consolidate them all so that only the 100%-legal ones are on the road and the rest are safely stored otherwise I’ll lose them, including my precious estate car.

marite port de granville manche normandy franceAfter breakfast and a little pause to gather my wits (which doesn’t take too long these days) I hit the streets, direction town. It was a lovely morning, that’s for sure.

Down the hill and down the bank, and then down the ramp to the harbour and there was a superb view of the Marité looking so splendid in the sunlight

I’m determined that one of these days I shall go out aboard her, even if it is only for a lap around the bay. But I bet that I’ll be very disappointed and find that it will be a diesel-powered “sailing” all the way.

That will be sad.

pile of scrap port de granville manche normandy franceThere was another pile of scrap on the quayside, mostly old agricultural stuff and the usual scrap fridges and cookers.

This seemed to bear out my theory from the other day about the Victress and Pluto bringing it in. But then I had another idea.

By this time I was down near the harbour offices so I popped in to ask them about the ships.

And it seems, I’m wrong. Yes, it does happen occasionally, which I know will surprise you all.

There’s a big quarry near Avranches that produces a special kind of stone and every so often Victress and Pluto come in to load up 2400 tonnes per trip to take back to the UK.

But they always come in empty – it’s not they who bring in the scrap.

So who’s bringing in the scrap then?

It didn’t take me long to find out.

grima port de granville manche normandy franceNo prizes whatever for guessing what this is – or, rather, was.

She’s the Grima and her claim to fame is that she was formerly the ferry that operated the Shetland Island Council route between Bressay and Lerwick between 1972 and 1992.

She has a carrying capacity of about 8 or 9 cars or so and was sold when the volume of traffic began to overwhelm her. She eventually became a work-boat for the Lerwick fishing industry

She was still displaying her “Lerwick” lifebelts so I hailed the crew who were relaxing on deck.
“Blimey! You’ve come a long way in that”
“Not really” replied the skipper. “Only from Jersey”.

It appears that she now sails out of Jersey and comes into Granville a couple of times each week bringing in the scrap (there are no scrap-processing facilities on the island) and taking back building supplies, wood and the like.

She’s probably not licensed for passengers, but I have a Cunning Plan. You don’t need a maritime permit or whatever to be a ship’s cook and my cooking has never killed anyone yet – although I have seen a couple of people stagger out of my kitchen.

mending the fishing nets port de granville manche normandy franceThey say that there’s a time for fishing – and a time for mending the nets.

Clearly for today it’s the latter. Here they all are with their needles and thread having a good old sew and sew.

That looks as if it’s the kind of job that might take for ever with a net that size, so good luck to them

buoys mending the fishing nets port de granville manche normandy franceWe all know what these are, but what surprised me was what they are doing out of the water.

And even more importantly, have they put anything back in to replace them? It would be exciting if they hadn’t.

It’s a little-known fact that Michael Jackson applied to join the US Navy. But he withdrew his application after the Recruiting Officer told him
“I don’t care how it’s pronounced. Those things that line the approaches to every harbour are called BUOYS”.

I headed off around town to check my bank accounts (money STILL not received) and where I bumped in to my neighbour again as I had done last week.

Next stop was to see the estate agents to warn them of my absence. And I forgot to check the times of the buses for the station in … GULP … just 30 days time.

ferry ile de chausey port de granville manche normandy franceLunch was once again on the wall overlooking the harbour.

Not much going on today but I did watch the ferry for the Iles de Chausey heading off with quite a crowd on board. Sea as calm as a millpond so they probably all had a good time.

And I had a new lunchtime companion today. Never mind the four lizards who always come to see me – when I dropped my apple core onto the ground for the wildlife, a brown mouse appeared – right at my feet – and dragged it off into the undergrowth to munch at its leisure.

Apart from that, I’ve been bashing away on the blog once more. Not quite the 20-odd (and sometimes more) pages of recent date though.

I ran aground round about 7th January 2013 and that’s when it all went haywire as my concentration and efforts were diverted. So I’ve advanced to June 2013 where there’s a couple of weeks that need to be done.

Then the difficult bits will start.

That wasn’t the only reason that I fell behind. The walk this morning had taken quite a lot out of me and I was totally out of it for two hours and more this afternoon. I clearly can’t last the pace.

But with the final batch of kidney bean and aubergine whatsit having bitten the dust today, and having had a good chat with Liz and Rosemary, I’m ready for bed.

And quite right too. Shopping tomorrow!

Wednesday 12th July 2017 – I WAS DRIVEN …

… off my wall at lunchtime today.

Not by grockles (with or without thermos flasks) and not by the heat either, but by the rain.

The weather has been miserable for a while and it brightened up a little at about 11:00 but round about 14:00 it started again and I came home to finish off my butties and fruit in the dry.

victress port de granville harbour manche normandy franceBut I went for another quick walk before doing so because the storms of last night seem to have washed up yet another Ship of the Day into our little port.

It’s our old friend Victress come back to see us.

She was here at the end of May as you might remember, and here she is again today, washed in on the storm all the way from Cowes on the Isle of Wight.

circus granville manche normandy franceYou may have noticed all of the gaily coloured flamboyant marquees in the background of the above photo.

Yes, the circus is in town, and I’m not talking about the British Brexit Negotiating Committee either, but the real thing.

They did a couple of laps around the town today with the loud-hailer giving us all of the information. But I shan’t be going. I used to live in a country where there are about 17.4 million of them.

Last night, I took a while to drop off, but when I did I was away until the alarm went off. And I had a struggle to rise, I’ll tell you. Leaving my bed was even worse.

I’d been on my travels too, with a group of quasi-intellectulas who were planning to attack the Old City of Granville – with nautical torpedoes. I’m REALLY sure that that would work, aren’t you?

Lunch has been discussed already, so what else?

Well, apart from fighting off the urge to close my eyes (and how difficult was that?) I’ve been on the blog again. And astonishingly, I’m in late December.

That might make you think that I’ve done piles, but my personal life is no business of yours.

I finished off all of October, even doing the 1st of November too, last night before bed so this morning it was a case of carrying on. But after three and a half weeks of November I headed off to the UK for two weeks (my last ever voyage to the UK as it happens except for a quick aller-retour for Terry’s slates from near Folkestone).

those pages aren’t just conjoined – they are well-and-truly intertwined so like the others that are in a similar condition, I’m leaving them until later.

I’ve already done the next few weeks from when I came back, but not to the current standards so I’m working through them as I go.

The period from January 2013 until June 2013 was a very difficult period, as some of you might remember. What I do about those pages, such as they are (because there aren’t all that many), I haven’t decided yet.

I could have done a lot more too, but one page that wasn’t even as much as a placeholder involved a rewrite that ran well into four figures. And I could have added much more too.

But it took me well over an hour to write it up and there’s only so much that I can do at a sitting like this.

But I did something tonight that I haven’t done in quite a while.

With the windows wide-open I heard a deep hooter coming from the docks and a quick glance out of the window, I could see that it was high tide.

Thinking that this might be Victress on her way out of port, I grabbed the camera and made tracks. It’s pretty tight in and out of the harbour gates and I was intrigued to see how she managed it.

beautiful sunset granville manche normandy franceI was too late unfortunately. Whether or not it was the Victress who had sounded her siren, her berth was empty and by the looks of things she had long-gone too.

But it wasn’t a wasted trip out by any means as we were having this most delightful sunset.

Sunsets around here are certainly superb and here’s another one to add to my collection

If the weather clears up tomorrow, which it may well do judging by the sunset, I might go for a walk into town. If not, I’ll sit around here and mooch all day.

There are still some things that I want for my trip – in just exactly a month’s time.

I ought to get weaving.

Sunday 9th July 2017 – GRIBOUILLE …

gribouille place d'armes granville manche normandy france… is one very unhappy moggy this morning. And who can blame him?

He went out at first light for his usual early-morning constitutional, but upon his return home for breakfast, started to scratch. And scratch. And scratch. So cue the flea-powder.

Consequently when I went out for my baguette this morning, there he was sitting sulking on the path outside his home, having abandoned his perch on the windowsill in a fit of pique.

He wasn’t the only one having a fit of pique this morning either. Having made a point of having a late-ish night last night in preparation for a major lie-in for a change, I was up and about at … errr … 06:40. And it wasn’t with fleas either.

But the early start meant an early breakfast, and it also meant an early start on the blog. And with great effect too, because not only have I finished the modernisation to the modernisation, I’ve started on the modernisation to the modernisation to the modernisation.

Yes, it seems that even recently, I’ve not been keeping to the standards that I intended to set.

And the bringing up to date of the pre-July 2013 stuff is proceeding apace. I’d done three entries before I went out for my baguette and all in all today, I’ve done … errrr … 20 or so.

Including a couple of rather lengthy entries. Not as long as the marathon entry that I amended yesterday, but nevertheless, enough to keep me out of mischief for a while. I’m now well into September 2012.

peugeot 403 granville manche normandy franceI enjoyed my trip out for the baguette this morning. It gave me a chance to see who and what was about on the streets.

Such as this gorgeous Peugeot 403. You used to see these by the thousand all over the streets of France and even now there are still plenty about being used as everyday drivers.

Well over a million of these were built between 1955 and 1966, replacing my beloved Peugeot 203, and so well-made were they that they seem to have long-outlived the “Farina” 404 that replaced them.

Back here and pressing onrelentlessly with the blog, I did manage to pause for lunch.

boats in harbour granville manche normandy franceThat was taken once again up on the wall overlooking the harbour. And what a busy harbour it was too today.

Pluto had left on the morning tide and by the time that you read this she will probably be in her next port of call, which will be Whitstable in Kent.

But there were plenty of other ships floating around out there making the most of the beautiful weather. Grockles clearly out in force.

As for me, I came back in here to escape the heat and have a little … errr … relax before cracking on again.

Tonight’s pizza was the best yet. Still took too long to cook, but delicious all the same. It would be nice to have the perfect oven that does exactly what I want but I need to be realistic and admit that that is never going to happen.

And so we’ll have an early night tonight. And a good sleep too, I hope.

Saturday 3rd October 2015 – START AS YOU MEAN TO GO ON.

I decided this morning that I would have a proper breakfast (of sorts) and so I called into the local Tim Hortons for coffee and bagels. And then promptly dropped the whole lot on the floor, followed by the laptop.

Still, at least it amused the patrons of the establishment.

I was up early after my rather late night last night and did a pile of paperwork in something of a vain attempt to catch up and then hit the road for Rimouski and breakfast. At least they gave me some more bagels and coffee. And someone with whom I was chatting confirmed that the serving wench there asked me 7 times if I really didn’t want butter on them.

I’d never had a proper look at Rimouski before and so I had a little drive around. It’s a typical seaside town with beaches, plenty of motels and amusements – just the place to come for a fortnight if only the river were warmer, because the St Lawrence is a really cold river.

onondaga submarine maritime museum rimouski st lawrence river quebec canadaBut I was here at Rimouski for other reasons. As Austin Powers once famously said to Basil Exposition, “what’s long, hard and full of seamen?”.

There’s a small maritime museum here at Rimouski and the pride of place goes to the old Canadian submarine Onondaga. I’ve always said that you would never ever get me into a submarine, and at the price that they wanted for a visit, nothing was ever likely to change.

maritime museum rimouski st lawrence river quebec canadaThere’s quite a little complex of buildings here and the old port facilities when this area was a major port for all of the coast-hopper ferries that started from here.

Much of this traffic has been replaced by road now and what is left departs from the quayside in the town and so this area is redundant. But there are quite a few maritime souvenirs left to visit and it’s a nice place to walk around and to eat your butties

empress of ireland pavilion maritime museum rimouski st lawrence river quebec canadaBut it was the new pavilion that I had come here to see – or, rather, it was the contents of the new pavilion.

On the evening of 28th May 1914 the Canadian Pacific transatlantic liner Empress of Ireland set out from Quebec on her way to Liverpool. She stopped off at Rimouski to drop off her river pilot and then set off full ahead for Liverpool.

buoy sinking empress of ireland st luce st lawrence river quebec canadaJust a couple of kilometres out of Rimouski she sighted the collier Storstad and then each ship became enveloped in a fog bank.

What happened after that has never been adequately explained, but the net result was that the liner took the Storstad full-on in the beam and sank within 14 minutes, taking 1012 passengers with her. And they all lie right underneath where that white buoy lies.

It’s the greatest marine tragedy every to hit Canada and one of the largest losses of life of any marine accident in peacetime. Remember that the Titanic lost 1507 passengers, but she was 4 times as big, and this disaster took place right within sight of shore.

Quite a lot of the ship has been salvaged since her wreck was rediscovered in the early 1960s. Some of it is displayed in the museum (and this was what I came to see). Very much more of it is held in private hands, which is a shame.

But what is even more disgraceful in my opinion, even though I know for a fact that many others, including the museum staff, disagree with me, is that much of it, including one of the massive brass propeller screws, has been sold for scrap. $5,300 the salvors were paid for the propeller and that just goes to show that some people have absolutely no sense of history.

In fact the looting of the wreck became so blatant (there was talk that one team was planning to use dynamite on the hull to make an easier entry into the bowels of the ship) that the authorities “nationalised” the wreck and placed it out of bounds to salvors, although private divers can visit it.

And hence the buoy – to moor your ship and to display the “statutory notice” about looting.

empress of ireland memorial cross st luce st lawrence river quebec canadaThe disaster took place just off the headland of St Luce and there’s a modern Celtic cross on the headland there that clearly relates to the disaster.

In the cemetery however is a concrete and stone cross dated 1920 looking out over the headland to the sea. There’s no plaque to say to what it relates but the date and its position would seem to be significant as being an early memorial to the disaster.

It’s hard to understand how it was that the notion of the earth being flat persisted as long as it did amongst the powerful classes.

superstructure of ship st lawrence river quebec canadaWhile I was sweeping the horizon looking to see what I could see, I noticed a few peculiar shapes and so I photographed them with the telephoto lens at its fullest extent and enlarged the image to see what I could see.

It turns out that it’s the superstructure of a ship, way across the other side of the St Lawrence. The ship is at such a long distance away that the hull has been lost due to the curvature of the earth.

st luce st lawrence river quebec canadaAs for the town of St Luce, it’s another seaside resort but much smaller than Rimouski. It’s quite a quaint little place, another small town where I would be quite happy to pass a week or two relaxing in the peace and quiet.

But the shore of the St Lawrence is really beautiful around here with all of the beaches. It’s a shame though that it’s on the south shore and so it doesn’t catch the sun as much as the north shore. And the north shore is a good 5° colder so it’s not as pleasant for sunbathing.

sunset st lawrence river ste flavie quebec canadaI’ve had a couple of really exciting and involved chats with a couple of people today and we’ve really put the world to rights.

However, it’s made the time pass really quickly and as a result the sun is disappearing rapidly. We’re having a glorious sunset but none of this is helping me find a place to stay.

And while I’m dithering, the temperature has dropped rapidly too and it’s freezing. But I’ve found a type of chalet motel place with cooking facilities and while it’s a little more than I would be happy paying, it’s got absolutely everything and I can cook myself a really hot meal. And so I’m saving there too.

And talking to the proprietor’s wife, she’s a vegan too and gives me a huge bowl of home-made vegan vegetable soup. And that’s the most delicious thing that I’ve eaten for ages.

Saturday 8th June 2013 – IT’S NOT EVERY DAY …

steam locomotive romney hythe dymchurch railway dungeness kent uk;.. that you are woken up by a steam locomotive these days.

But it does happen every now and again if you play your cards right. and so here I am down on the beach at Dungeness and, true to form, rattling past Caliburn in his nice little spec underneath the old lighthouse went one of the locomotives of the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway.

“Romney Marsh” I hear you say. That’s right. He played on the wing for Queens Park Rangers and later for Manchester City.

But anyway that was where I spent the night of Friday and Saturday although it was really Saturday morning when I arrived.

And I also told you a little fib about being awoken by a steam locomotive, because about 10 minutes earlier I had been burnt out of the van by the heat and that’s the first time that that has happened this year.

So Dymchurch and Romney Marsh – I was here for a variety of reasons.

dymchurch abandoned railway station kent uk

  1. it’s by the sea
  2. it’s the furthest south-east point of the UK, closest point to the Real World
  3. it’s something like “home from home” because keen readers of this rubbish will know that I’ve stayed here before
  4. I wanted to look for the remains of the old standard-gauge railway that ran down to here (and indeed I found plenty, including the remains of the platform and the base of the station buildings)
  5. Most importantly, though, it was only a short drive from where these famous roofing tiles were awaiting collection.

  6. On the way to the tiles I made a detour to the old Lydd-Ferryfield airport, the home of the service that used to fly you and your car across the Channel in a fleet of weird converted Bombay bombers to Le Touquet and now the home of a flying school and a few private planes.

    supermarine spitfire lydd ferryfield airport kent ukand once again, if your luck is in it’s really in becuse what should arrive at the same time that I did but a Mark XIX Spitfire, ex photo-reconnaissance, making an emergency landing with an overheating engine, according to one of the mechanics who had been called out.

    Having blagged my way out onto the tarmac for a closer look, even I was able to diagnose the fault – clogged radiators.

    Maybe a bird strike or maybe simple lack of basic maintenance, but there you are. No-one these days seems to be able to understand the principles of basic maintenance unless they have a computer handy.

    The pilot was quite garrulous though, and we spent most of the time chatting about the Lancaster bomber that I’m trying to save from disaster, with me trying to enlist his support.

    Afer picking up the tiles I went to do the rounds of the supermarkets and tool shops, being entertained by a Red Arrows just off the coast of Folkestone on the way. Pretty disappointing, because no-one crashed or landed in the sea, and we didn’t have a mid-air collision either. Not much point in having the Red Arrows if you ask me if they can’t entertain the crowds properly.

    In one of the supermarkets though, passing through the checkouts, I was asked if I had a bag. I replied that I did, but that she was outside in the car. And seeing as how it was Saturday night, while waiting on the ferry terminal I guzzled down the take-away curry that I had bought from an Indian in Folkestone.

    “Pushing the boat out” in many senses of the word.

Friday 7th June 2013 – WELL, I’M OFF.

But then you all knew that already.

The Postie delivered my monster CD order and now I’m free to leave at any time I like for a couple of weeks. Liz found me a cheapo ferry on the site that she uses – it’s at 04:00 so I’ll be leaving in a bit for the UK.

That’s really all that I’ve done today apart from clearing up and dealing with this load of web stuff that I mentioned the other day. The apartment here is still a mess and I’m not really making much progress but I will have a couple of months when I come back to deal with it all and isn’t that famous last words?

I’m not sure when I’ll have internet access again. After the UK I’ll be off to Fromentine and the Ile d’Yeu to do the two weeks’ work that I promised Cécile in exchange for her two weeks here back in April and there won’t be any internet access there, that’s for sure.

after that, it’s back to Pooh Corner, the radio, and two weeks working on the bathroom here as when I return to Brussels at the beginning of July I want to buy all the tiles from that guy who did us so handsomely when we were working on Expo in early 2011.

So, see you soon. Don’t wander away in my absence.

Wednesday 5th June 2013 – HELLO AGAIN.

I thought that I would have a nice interesting introduction this evening, because in all probability it will be more exciting that the rest of the post.

Basically, nothing much has changed since yesterday. I’m still up to my ears in papers. Mind you, the wardrobes and wall unit in the main bedroom have been emptied and most of the stuff has been packed away.

I suppose that that is progress.

There are three large sacks full of clothes and one of shoes (Marianne seemed to like shoes) and they will all be headed for a clothing bank next time I take Caliburn for a joy ride. Someone else may as well have use of it all.

So apart from that, what else?

Ahhh yes – Julie went into St Eloy-les-Mines today which was quite lucky because today was the day that the compost bins that we ordered from the VALTOM were to be collected. So thanks for that, Julie.

And in other news, I’m going to the UK – to Dymchurch in fact – for a day quite soon.

Just as I was wondering where I can get boxes and packing tape from in bulk and regretting that there was no Screwfix nearer than Dover, and how I was feeling like a day out by the seaside, Terry rang me up. He’s just won a job lot of 400 slates on eBay and they are in Dymchurch, down on the edge of Romney March about 10 miles from Dover. Fuel and ferry fare offered, and you can’t say fairer than that.

It’s a region that I know quite well of course, and if you were following my adventures in March 2009 you will know that I spent a pleasant few days just down the road at Dungeness.

Yes, a nice day out this weekend would just suit me fine. I hope that the weather stays fine.

Tuesday 20th November 2012 – I’VE MADE A START …

shower room floor les guis virlet puy de dome france… on fitting the new floor in where the bathroom, or to be more precise, the shower room is going to be, and there’s one very unhappy bunny here.

The tongue-and-grooving is from Brico Depot and it’s a major mistake to buy anything from there.

5 packs of flooring I’ve bought, all of the same brand, all bought at the same time, and the packets are all of different thicknesses.

Not only that, the tongues of one packet don’t correspond to the grooves of the others either so when you firmly nail one lot down, the subsequent packet won’t slide properly underneath and you have to lever it up a little.

All in all, it’s looking quite a mess – nothing like the neat and tidy little job I was hoping for.

I haven’t finished it yet either because I ran out of light so that’s not going to be done until I come back from the UK, and I’m dismayed about that too.

This morning though, I made a start on the Radio Anglais Christmas Special that we do for Radio Arverne.

This is an hour-long programme, mostly speech but with some music as well and it doesn’t half take some writing. Today though, I’ve been researching and gathering material.

I’m not going to tell you the subject matter though – you can wait until it’s on the air.

Tomorrow, though, I’m going to be extremely busy.

In the afternoon Cécile is coming round to work in the garden in exchange for the work that I did for her last Friday.

Of course, I don’t want to frighten her away and so I need to do some tidying up, and that will take me all of the morning, and then some, I suppose.

Steam-cleaning the verandah is priority number one, and then emptying the composting toilet – that’s always a good plan too.

need to empty the verandah as much as possible, because for this winter I want to bring inside the pots of herbs and they are too heavy for me to lift on my own.

I suppose that I’d better go and have an early night then – I need to be fighting fit for tomorrow.

Wednesday 14th November 2012 – I DIDN’T MANAGE …

… to rip up the bathroom floor today.

In fact, I was considerably sidetracked.

This morning though was pretty much more of the same. 11 pages of writing about the French laws of slander and libel for Radio Anglais – important for ex-pats due to a couple of high-profile court cases just recently concerning postings on social network sites;

And you wouldn’t believe just how different is the law over here compared to the UK.

Yesterday however when Rosemary was on the phone, she told me that the swimming baths at St Eloy-les-Mines had reopened after maintenance, and that one of the few times that they are open is Wednesdays at 13:30.

And seeing as it’s been a good while since I’ve had a decent soaking, we agreed to meet up this afternoon and go for a swim.

And so we did. 

Flaming cold in there it was (although not as cold as that swimming baths in Québec last May), but at just €1:88 a ticket, it was value for money and I had a really good scrub in the shower afterwards.

I look almost human now.

We went for a coffee and a chat afterwards, and then for a wander around a couple of the DiY places.

That wasn’t all though.

I’m nice and clean now, but my clothes weren’t. In fact my bedding walks off into the cupboard every morning under its own steam. Consequently, off I went to the laundrette and washed everything that I could lay my hands on.

Yes, a nice clean me, nice clean clothes and nice clean bedding tonight. I won’t know myself, will I?

But we did have a culinary disaster tonight. I made one of my mega-aubergine-and-kidney-bean-chili things tonight, to last me for three days, only to realise that I had forgotten to add the kidney beans.

And then I dropped tonight’s portion on the floor in the verandah. Luckily that I had a few more helpings left over.

But what a waste of food, hey?