Tag Archives: vegan cheese

Tuesday 8th March 2022 – EVEN THOUGH …

… I was in bed quite early last night, leaving my bed this morning was something else completely.

Apparently, when the alarm went off at 07:30, I turned straight over and went back to sleep. And when the alarm went off a second time at 08:00 ditto.

It was 08:12 when I awoke with a start and then it was a real struggle to leave the bed.

After the medication I eventually managed to concentrate on revising my Welsh and preparing for today’s lesson. And to my great surprise, it all passed off quite well and I’ve no idea why

Lunch was very enjoyable. In fact, it’s been very enjoyable for the last couple of days because having finished off a container of hummus, I started on the vegan cheese that I’d bought in Aachen a few weeks ago.

It’s a type that I used to buy quite regularly in Montlucon when I lived in the Auvergne and it’s the best vegan cheese that I’ve ever eaten. It really is delicious and I wish that I could find it here in Granville.

Having finished lunch, I had a listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night. There was some kind of dream last night about me in Shavington. It was to do with the war and all of these bungalows, where we’d meet up and who we’d meet up with, and how one or two of these bungalows were going to be blown up and erased from the map but I can’t remember any more about it than this.

Carrying on from where I was earlier, the Russians have now invaded and caught hold of a load of people. They were actually dealing with them and quite a few people, they had just thrown into the sea including some pregnant women. 3 women had had miscarriages and the Russians were trying to work out which 3 women they were so that they could take them out og the water and presumably kill them. But these people were swimming around in there doing their best to confuse the issue, mix with all the others and not say who they were so that the Russians would have an extremely difficult job trying to locate them. Everyone was giving the hints on how to pass a Russian inspection etc.

Later on it was young boys being thrown into the sea. There was something about the Russians had put these boys in the sea but a few of them found a way to keep alive and keep afloat, and even plug themselves into the electrical circuit and succeeding in keeping out of the way of the Russians who were trying to capture them.

They were busy throwing things at these young boys in the water or the other boys were throwing things at them and there were things like food packets but instead of reaching the intended person for whom they were intended they became bogged down in the gravel at the side of this lake. This meant that no-one could capture them and some kind of heroes were cheering on the Russians at this instead of trying to help these boys which I thought was awful

Once again there was a group of us. Someone too k a throw-in with a pie. It came towards me and I was facing it so I did a beautiful overhead bicycle kick with this pie. When I turned round there was a woman with half a pie in her face. Of course I appealed for a catch to give her out. At first the referee wouldn’t give her out. He said that it was impossible for that to have happened but I was convinced that it was a good throw-in with this pie, that I’d done a perfect overhead kick and the evidence was there for everyone to see. They asked where the rest of the pie was. I had a look around and it was in the footwell of the car under where she was sitting, right on the floor right by her. In my mind there was absolutely no dispute or doubt whatsoever that it was my overhead kick of this pie that had hit her in the face. But the umpire and referee and everyone needed an awful lot of convincing before they would actually give her out which I thought was extremely strange because it was so obvious.

The first few of these voyages involving Russians was something of a surprise.

When I dictate these notes, I’m usually in some kind of sleep-mode, not really conscious of dictating them. However when I’m transcribing them, usually some kind of deep subconscious memory stirs and I vaguely remember something about them. But for those few, I have absolutely no recollection whatsoever of anything.

That took me up to walkies time. And on the way out of the building I bumped into one neighbour and then another.

beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022Finally I could extricate myself and wander over to the wall at the end of the car park and see what’s happening down there. and while there was quite a bit of beach this afternoon, there wasn’t anyone down there taking advantage of it.

That’s not really a surprise because apart from the fact that most people have either gone back to work or to school, the weather was a lot more wintry than it has been just recently, and quite windy too.

Not as cold as it might have been though. We’ve still not had a winter this year and I don’t know where this is going to end.

The tide was making some pretty patterns down there in the sand too. It’s one of those things that you have to capture just at the right moment and it looks as if I’ve found it today.

There was just a handful of people out here on the path this afternoon going for a walk so I had the place pretty much to myself, apart from a couple of errant dogs who presumably had owners somewhere in the vicinity.

bunker pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022There wasn’t anyone down on the bench by the cabanon vauban and there was nothing happening out at sea either.

But what caught my eye was the old bunker right out at the end of the headland above the lower path. It’s been a good while since we’ve had a look at that. It’s a shame that (for now, at any rate) it’s sealed off from inspection.

Regular readers of this rubbish will also recall that down there are also some concrete cable anchors. There was probably some kind of German radio mast there during World War II when this was part of the Atlantic Wall and these anchors were for the anchor cables.

chausiaise spirit of conrad charles marie la granvillaise le roc a la mauve 3 chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022This afternoon we seem to have had some kind of change of occupancy in the chantier naval.

Spirit of Conrad, la Granvillaise, Le Roc A La Mauve III and the unidentified yacht are still there, but where is Courrier des Iles?

It looks as if she’s gone back into the water since the last time we were round this way.

Over at the ferry terminal Joly France has now disappeared out on a sailing somewhere, but the little freighter Chausiaise is parked up there as well, presumably waiting for the tide.

Back here I had a coffee and then packed my suitcase for tomorrow’s trip to Leuven. I needed to fill up the coffee container that I take and sort out the mixed herbs. It’s annoying not having anywhere there where I can leave things.

The medication needed sorting out too. There’s plenty that’s redundant now but I still need to check what I have. I need at least three months’ supply on hand in case I’m whisked off on a mission somewhere.

And then of course I can file away the stuff that I don’t need, of which there is more than just a considerable amount.

Tea tonight was the left-over curry from yesterday and it was even more delicious than yesterday.

Now that I’ve finished my notes, I’m off to bed. It’s an 06:00 start tomorrow ready for my trip to Leuven. Not that I’m feeling much like it but I have to show willing.

Wednesday 2nd March 2022 – IN WHAT MUST SURELY …

repairing bicycle shelter place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022… be a new world record even for these days, the new bike shed didn’t last very long.

Not even 15 hours, because when I came home from the doctor’s this morning, the guy who was there yesterday installing it had returned and was now busy dismantling … “disPERSONing” – ed … it again.

Whatever he had done yesterday was clearly not good enough.

It’s not as if building a bike shed is rocket science so there’s no reason why he would need to take it apart again. But all that I can say is that I’m glad that I didn’t take my bike out of the back of Caliburn last night and park it in there.

There has been other news too today, and this news is equally depressing. At 12:00 midday all over France they tested the nuclear alert sirens, not that there’s anywhere these days to hide if there’s a nuclear attack.

We are living in interesting times.

fete foraine place herel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022So while you admire some photos of the fête foraine, the funfair, let me tell you about where I went during the night.

I was out on the Wirral peninsula last night. I’d been there before and I’d seen all of these kids coming out of school. There was a bus stop by three different schools, judging by the uniforms. I’d seen some kinds in another street, a residential suburban street and I wondered where on earth it might have been. I was looking for the house of a girl I know and her brother. I was wandering around and I only had the street name but I didn’t have the number or the ‘phone number and I didn’t even know exactly where it was so I had to find it on the map on my phone or something. I was walking around and suddenly came across a place in a street that went from north-east to south-west where I might have seen these children congregating but on a closer look it wasn’t actually the same place but pretty similar. Then I bumped into a little boy and a little girl. They were extremely talkative. They asked me what I was doing so I said that I was looking for this street that might have been called Allison Avenue, something like that, She said “oh, that lot of streets” as if she knew where it was. She said “why don’t you go to the end of the street here and look left? You can see all the way down the road to Liverpool from here”. I thought “maybe if I had time, I might but I don’t know where I have to go yet”. I started to quiz this girl but just then 2 other people came past and started to ask her something and she was talking to them. I was holding this girl’s arm by this time and I started to stroke it basically to keep her attention focused on me while she was talking to these 2 people.

fete foraine place herel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022And later I was at a football match last night, watching a game sitting in the stand quite quietly. The ground was pretty full and these 2 boys were sitting next to me and started to crowd over onto my seat. They asked me if I was enjoying the game etc. The one in the middle asked “who was the hardest? me or his friend?”. I eplied that I don’t know his friend so I can’t really say. Then a fight erupted between the three of us and it was all extremely depressing kind of thing.

And then I was in my Opel Senator last night, using it as a taxi. I was parked up somewhere in Brussels and some guy who had at one time been a regular passenger in my taxi turned up. He said “we want to borrow your taxi for a moment to have” and about 10 of his friends stormed into it. They wouldn’t leave when I told them to so I went to ‘phone the police but my ‘phone kept on playing up – I couldn’t remember the password or the password was wrong or the ‘phone screen wasn’t working, all kinds of things like this. No matter what I tried I couldn’t make these people leave my car.

fete foraine place herel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022Finally, I’d been out with some of my family again. I’d been out on a motorbike but I had my beige Cortina YLO with me. I was in an awful hurry to leave but they were loitering around. I was sitting there drumming my fingers on the table but my motorbike by now I’d actually coupled it up to the Cortina with a A-frame and so I set off on the motorbike pulling the car from Shavington. When I looked behind, the family was following me so I went quite quickly through the S-bends in Gresty, putting the motorbike well down to go round these bends towing the Cortina. I could hear tham say that I must be crazy or something. I arrived in Crewe and ended up in a subway somewhere. I had to cycle (because it was now a bike, that of Marianne’s that I was on) up the hill to the street-level but the gearing was all wrong on this bike. I couldn’t make it up the slope. No matter how fast I pedalled, it wasn’t advancing any. I had to roll back to the bottom of the slope on this bike pulling this car and then play with the gear arrangements on this bike in order to find the correct gear that would see me, the bike and the car back up the hill again and onto the street level so that we could continue.

But as you can see, it wasn’t a very pleasant night last night and in some respects I was glad when I awoke. That was actually quite early and I was out of bed as soon as the alarm went off at 07:30.

After the medication I went off to have a shower and a good clean-up ready to go to the doctor’s.

loading joly france ferry terminal port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022When I reached the corner of the Boulevard des 2E et 202E de Ligne and the Boulevard Vaufleury, I stopped to check the NIKON 1 J5.

Over at the ferry terminal was one of the Joly France boats, the older one of the two. And they were loading her up with stuff, judging my the crane with its hook dangling down into the forward hold of the boat.

It’s not exactly the best day of the year for a run out to the Ile de Chausey. It’s quite cool and windy and I’m well-wrapped up for a change.

lysandre les bouchots de chausey la grande ancre fish processing plant port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022While I was there at the viewpoint I noticed that there was plenty of activity going on down at the fish processing plant.

No prizes for spotting La Grande Ancre. Her silhouette is quite unique and you’ll be able to spot her anywhere.

Whoever is behind her I don’t know, but in front of her is Les Bouchots de Chausey unloading its catch onto the tractor and trailer that takes it away.

And just puling away from the quayside is Lysandre, the St Malo-registered shell-fishing boat that comes into port here every now and again.

marite thora belle france joly france port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022There’s quite a lot of activity going on at the quayside in the inner harbour too.

Marité is there of course, but in front of her is Thora, one of the little Jersey freighters that run a regular service over here. Before she came to Jersey, she was a car ferry out in the Shetland Islands.

The other Joly France boat is down there in the foreground, tied up to Belle France. And if I’m not mistaken, Chausiaise is moored up on the other side of her. They can’t have much on today.

At the doctors he gave me my prescription for the Aranesp that pumps me up ready for when I go to Leuven, and also a prescription for an X-Ray on my knee. I’m not sure if I mentioned that the physiotherapist is of the opinion that there has been no improvement to my knee despite 6 months of effort.

“That’s not normal” she had told me, and that’s no surprise because neither am I.

Ther does however seem to have been some kind of communication between him and the hospital, because he also mentioned that counselling is a good idea for me. So God help the person who draws the short straw and has to probe the depths of my subconscious mind.

He has however given me some tablets to take before I go to bed. I’ll try them to see how they go but if it interrupts my nocturnal rambles I shall stop. Quite frankly, what goes on with me during the night is about the only excitement that I have these days.

Plenty of excitement at the chemists though when I took the prescription there. Some French woman was complaining about this that wasn’t right in France and that wasn’t right in France, so I asked her if she would like to swap her French nationality for my British nationality.

Some people don’t realise how lucky they are.

tiberiade port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022On the way back up the hill I noticed to my surprise that Tiberiade was not out of the chantier naval.

It doesn’t look though as if she’s had a complete repaint. There are still plenty of patches of wear on her hull. She doesn’t have her nets on board though either, so she’s not completely ready to go back out to sea.

As for me, I was more than completely ready for my morning coffee and slice of coffee cake. I’d made it all the way up the hill without stopping for breath and I was pretty exhausted. None of these health issues are doing me any good, but you knew that anyway.

repairing bicycle shelter place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022Goinf past the bike shed I noticed that the guy had gone and taken all of the innards with him.

All I can say is that that didn’t last very long, did it?

Back here I had a coffee and my cake and then attacked the dictaphone notes. As I said earlier, it wasn’t a very happy night by all accounts

After lunch, I was back out again. This time to the physiotherapist. She’s back from her holiday and it’s her birthday today too.

peche a pied port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022Once more, I stopped at the viewpoint at the corner of the Boulevard des 2E et 202E de Ligne and the Boulevard Vaufleury to check the camera again.

Right out at the entrance to the harbour there were some people out there wandering around as if they were engaged in the peche à pied.

And as I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … with all of the stuff that is probably dropped and churned up by the boats that come in and out of the harbour, that’s the last place that I would look for shellfish.

By the time that I arrived at the physiotherapist’s, I was melting. It had warmed up dramatically and I was in my winter coat. But anyway she used a machine to massage my knee and then to finish off she had me doing a few exercises.

vegan cheese vegan dessert lidl Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022After I left the physio I went round to LIDL to pick up a few bits and pieces. With going to Leuven next week I’m not shopping on Saturday.

And here’s an astonishing thing that I haven’t noticed before. Vegan cheese slices – and “English” (presumably Red Leicester) too.

Of course I’ve no idea what they might be like but the vegan deserts aren’t as good as they might be so I’m not too optimistic. However, if no-one buys the stuff they won’t stock any more vegan food so they need some kind of encouragement.

If it melts, it might be good for cheese on toast and there’s only one way to find that out, isn’t there?

new building rue victor hugo rue st paul Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022On the way back I had a look again at the new building that was going on at the corner of the Rue Victor Hugo and the Rue St Paul.

They don’t seem to have made a great deal of progress since we saw them last, but the road must be closed for some good purpose that isn’t easily apparent.

At the bottom of the hill is the funfair – the fête foraine – so I went for a wander around there for 10 minutes. It’s not as good as it might be when it’s all lit up but I’m already on 105% of my daily activity and I’m not going out again in the dark.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022Back here at the building I can’t go inside until I’ve seen what’s happening down on the beach.

By the time that I came back I was rather later than usual but there was still some beach to be on and there were a few people down there actually on it. They were probably enjoying the warm weather.

Back in here I had a coffee and then I had some work to do. We’re doing a series of programmes on the Ukraine and I spent an hour or so tracking down some Ukrainian rock groups. One of them burst into the limelight thanks to an appearance that they made at a concert in Lviv and I actually managed to track down the concert too

Now I shall have to brush up my Russian because this concert was in pre-independence days and it’s 30 years since my last trip to Eastern Europe.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that years ago I used to work for a coach company that won a contract to take tourists behind the Iron Curtain. As I fancied the job as driver, I found a local woman who spoke Russian and she taught me the basics, most of which I have forgotten.

While I was at it I also came across a friend of a friend of a friend who has a daughter in the Ukraine and I’ve been trying to set up an interview for the radio. But that’s not easy, as you can imagine.

Another thing that I did was to bash out a few more photos from my trip to the High Arctic in 2019. Where has this energy come from?

Tea tonight was a potato and mushroom curry, and then I came back in here to write up my notes – and to make a long ‘phone call to Florida. My network of contacts stretches throughout the world and it’s just as well, with all of this going on.

Saturday 12th February 2022 – HAVING BEEN DEPRIVED …

… of really good company for quite some considerable time, Alison and I had hatched a cunning plan last time I was here. Subsequently we had been in touch with Jackie in Köln and suggested that we meet up for a day and exchange our news. After all, it’s been two years since we last met.

And so, seeing as Aachen is halfway in between the two of us, we set off this morning by car.

Not that I was feeling too much like it because it had been another rotten night.

As I mentioned yesterday I was in bed early and although the party that started at about 00:30 wasn’t anything at all like last night but what did happen was that I had another series of regular voyages that overwhelmed the dictaphone.

We started off in World War I last night. There was something about this arty (do I mean “artillery”?) regiment that I’d encountered that had turned up at Ieper somewhere where there had been some crucial fighting in November 1914 where the Germans had been pushing either side of the British and a British salient had been created. This was one of the crucial moments of the war and of course the area was totally devastated. I was talking to a soldier from this unit. He was saying that they had only been in this particular area for a weekend or so. It wasn’t actually in the thick of the fighting but it was pretty close to it. We were talking about the area and the history because with it being in the cockpit of Europe it was a pretty vital place. Battles had been fought here for years and all kinds of stuff had been uncovered in the past but the war had come and obliterated everything. He said to me that it was all very interesting to me of course. We talked about some of the bodies that had been found here and one in particular that had belonged to a regiment that had had 100% casualties during a charge. A couple of other regiments that had gone to relieve them had also had 100% casualties. One body that had been found subsequently must have been something of a hero to have gone like that. This conversation went on for quite some time.

Later on we were going somewhere last night walking by a canal looking at an old ruined cottage there and some kind of crane with a platform dangling from the grab. This cottage had been burnt to the ground practically. It turned out that it belonged to someone and they had discovered several structural defects in it. They had been trying to repair it but the thng had caught fire and gone up. The crane and platform were there for when they needed to make a bridge to take machinery over there and demolish it. This was in the parish magazine that some woman not my mother had had and as she had a mailbox I couldn’t understand why she had had it every time. There were several other magazines, including one about cars and a foreign boy who lived there sad that he had put it for me. There were a couple of conjunctions so he said that he had written some notes for me. I chucked that away but this parish magazine was very interesting and so was another article about some kind of meeting that everyone had had, some exhibition or something. It seemed to me that for the environmental group that we were running we could have made a really good magazine out of all of this. We could have had some names and e-mails from the people who attended this meeting, made a really good newsletter and hoped to push on and do something like that every month or so.. This was my one big opportunity and it had gone

Meanwhile, up in my room I was sharing a room with Zero. She wasn’t there but the room was in a real mess. She had shoes all over the place so the first thing that I wanted to do was to tidy up her shoes so I said to whoever it was I was with – a woman – that I would have to find one of these plastic boxes to put all her shoes in. She produced one immediately but I came up with some excuse why we couldn’t use that because I wasn’t really ready to do it just then. Yes, imagine this? Me sharing a room with Zero and she isn’t in it!

There was something else about this woman too. Her mother was going into an old people’s home and was looking at one in Union Street. pointed out that the one in Shavington by the Vine pub was being expanded and having new rooms so maybe she could get her in there. I thought that Shavington would be a much nicer place because it was a smaller village, you can’t go far, you can’t get lost, everything that you need is there, shops and everything and with it being quiet there was less risk of being knocked down than an old people’s home in a rundown area on the edge of Crewe Town Centre. Whoever it was put my comments down to some kind of loyalty about Shavington than any kind of practical consideration which was a shame because I really did think that it was so much better.

I was also at Liverpool football ground last night. They were discussing the remodelling of the stadium and all the crowd had to fit into a room that was the size of a normal living room. They were discussing ways to make it more safe and fit more people in. I thought that if they were only going to be havng 50 people at the most then they are wasting their time, aren’ they? This discussion went on for hours about whether they should put this extra level in. I was saying that they could knock a hole through where the kitchen is and have a bar, stuff like that. It was really getting out of hand. And then the subject drifted round to players. There were some people from Crewe there. It seems that they were interested in taking on trial a player from Crewe and they were trying to work out which one it was. In the end they had to aska girl who worked at Crewe – they had to ask her her name and check her writing. In the end they came up with a name. They thought that it woukd be “somebody Thomas” and that immediately meant about three or four different players. In the end end they had an idea whom it might be and asked me to go and fetch him. I said “OK but tell me who it isn’t” so they said it was “something Thomas”, a double-barrelled surname to go and not fetch him. Then the conversation continued about players from Egypt and the Ukraine. Someone took the paper from me and gave me another paper and it was for a guy called Olivier Ochoi and that was now the player that I had to fetch to bring up here. I asked them “are you sure this time?” and the general consensus seemed to be “yes”.

On the subject of football it was also the Welsh Premier League Final between Newtown and Aberystwyth and was taking place somewhere I can’t remember. I was up early at 06:30 and drove all the way out to where it was. The were busy setting out the hall there for spectators to come along and watch the game. It was a big hall shaped like a figure 8 bit wuth 2 squares and a joining piece. In one of these was a TV and someone was busy arranging a TV in front of it so that he and his friends could watch it. I explained that last time there was a play-off final, in the other room they had a big 225″ TV and arranged all the chairs in semi-circles around to watch so I didn’t think that what he was doing was going to work. Having checked out the place I had then to go back home for all my stuff and the radio stuff because I was going to do some radio interviewing for the game. I went outside, it was still dark and the whole car was starting to freeze up. I had some trouble trying to remember what key it was because it wasn’t the usual car. I eventually managed to open the door and I got in. Some young boy opened the window at the back – it was a rear-engined car – and asked me if I needed any help for this, any help for that. I replied “no” so he asked what I was going to do about this, what was I going to do about that and kept asking so persistently. In the end I got out of the car, picked up his bike and threw it over the fence into a field. He had a run off after it but then he came back and tried to get nto the car and tried to steal something out of the car. I had to get out and go to deal with that

Anyway I stepped back into this dream about this football match. I was in this car and we had all arranged to meet at a service station on the A55. That was where everyone met up but no-one still knew where it was going on. I was sitting down there trying to pass the time waiting for a decision to be made. I ended up talking to someone. We had a really good chat and I was sorting through a few boxes of stuff that they had. When I looked at my watch it was 14:20. I looked around and everyone else had gone. I scrambled over to try to find someone now. I went to the reception desk to ask if they knew where everyone had gone. They said that is was something like “Fingland” but of course that meant absolutely nothing to me. There was only 40 minutes to kick-off and I hadn’t a clue where I was going to go. I thought “how on earth am I going to find out now where I’m supposed to be heading now that everyone else has gone and cleared off.

Anyway when the alarm went off I was out of bed fairly quickly and by the time that Alison arrived I was actually ready.

It was freezing outside as we set off, and we had a really good chat all the way to Aachen.

Jackie arrived at the station just as we did. We parked the car and then headed off into the centre.

barbarella cafe aachen germany Eric Hall photo February 2022Our day turned into trip to various coffee houses, restaurants and shops.

Alison knew a good café around the corner from where we had parked the car and so we headed that way. The coffee was really nice there and the cakes that the girls tried were delicious too. There may have been vegan cakes I suppose, but I didn’t ask. Having had toast for breakfast I wasn’t hungry.

It was in an area of the city that I don’t really know so when we left, I was surprised to find that we were only just around the corner from the Rathaus, and isn’t the German name for a Town Hall really appropriate?.

The main shopping centre is on the other side of the city so we headed off that way.

roman remains aachen germany Eric Hall photo February 2022The site is known to have been inhabited for almost 5000 years but perhaps its best-know period was that under the Romans from the beginning of the First Century until its evacuation, which appears to have taken place round about 383AD. No Roman coin has been discovered here later than that date.

There are plenty of Roman remains here in the city, especially those here in the Elisengarten.
We made quite a tour of the shops and the two girls found a load of interesting stuff to take home with them.

And as well as that, I wasn’t left out of the shopping either. I found some of that really nice vegan cheese that I used to buy in Montlucon, and the two girls bought me a pile of that lovely vegan chocolate for my birthday.

spa elisenbrunnen pavilion cathedral st folian church aachen germany Eric Hall photo February 2022From the shopping precinct we can see across the road to the Elisenbrunnen Pavilion.

The Roman name of the town was Aquae Grannae – the waters of Grannus – and the most popular source from where the water can be obtained is from over there. However there’s a big notice by the outlet that says “not for drinking”. I should really have brought something in which I could have taken some water away.

Although it’s often said that the pavilion was built in the 1820s, it was in fact destroyed by bombing during World War II and this replica was built in the early 1950s.

Lunch was nice too, at one of these franchised bio restaurants down at the side of the spa. My salad was delicious. And then we went back to the shops.

As darkness fell we went for another coffee and then dropped Jackie off at the railway station for her train back home. At the station we fell foul of a German police patrol. “That’s why I moved from Germany” said Alison, and I could see her point. It was all extremely unnecessary and I admired her for her calm.

When she dropped me off at home I wandered round to the fritkot but they were overflowing with customers and weren’t taking any more orders before they closed. It was lucky that I had some pasta left.

There’s an 05:00 start in the morning ready for my trip home so right now I’m off to bed. Not that I’m expecting a better night that I’ve had just recently but we have to make an effort and if necessary I can sleep on the train.

Friday 14th January 2022 – AFTER ALL OF YESTERDAY’S …

… efforts, I ended up in bed at some kind of early time of night. With no need for an alarm tomorrow no appointments, and also no phone either), I was going to make the most of it.

Unfortunately, it didn’t quite turn out like that. I don’t sleep as well in the bed here as I do in my bed at home, and then there was the fact that I’d been off on my travels.

There are several different sound files on the dictaphone, and that shows that I had a very disturbed night. At some point I’d just been to fill the kettle that was on the bedside table, put it on its stand and went to switch it on to make a cup of coffee in the middle of the night.

It’s amazing the kind of things that you can do when you are fast asleep, isn’t it?

There was something about submarines last night. It wasn’t a tube as you might expect but it was U-shaped passenger compartment where four people could lie down. It was the only way to be. Two of them were in the higher part in the centre and two were in the lower part, one at each end. The submarine was sent on active service like that. There was no way for any of these people to move once they were on board and it must have been the most uncomfortable and claustrophobic thing ever yet even I had been out in it on active service. On one occasion I was at school watching these kids and the tutor was talking about who’d done what, who’d dome something else, naming these kids. Then on eof the kids mentioned my name. It turned out that one of the kids wanted me to give a talk on these submarines so I gave them a little talk on it. As I say, it’s most surprising because you would never ever get me into a submarine like this, not in a million years. later on when I went to see if I was back again with this submarine there was something to do with lords and ladies, not their names, and some kind of operating manual about this submarine but I can’t remember what this was and what it related to, anything like that

Much as I hate submarines I found myself volunteering for the crew of this to go out and sail in it and that is most unlikely for me. But anyway it looks as if I’ve just stepped back into the story from which I had just stepped out.

There were some of us last night around the West Midlands. We’d been somewhere and had to return home so we were looking for a railway station. We were in a vehicle and had driven underneath a railway line. A little further ahead was another railway line so we imagined that there was a railway junction which might mean that there would be a station. There was a bus coming out of there with schoolkids. We saw a sign that said “Intercity” so we turned down this road underneath the railway bridge and followed the railway line. Instead it took us into a yard where there were all kinds of railway maintenance equipment etc. We thought “this can’t possibly be right” but we carried on. At the end of the yard was a kind of dirt track out so we followed this dirt track, still following the railway and ended up somehow in someone’s house. We thought “we’re in civilisation so we can get out here” but we ended up in some girl’s bedroom. There was no handle on the door on the inside. This guy and I had a look round but I could see that this wasn’t going to work so we’d be better clearing off quickly. I went back into the annexe where we’d appeared. The other two people were standing there. I told them that we had better make ourselves scarce because this isn’t it. The fourth person, the one who had come with me into the main room hadn’t put in an appearance. We thought “we can’t hang around because sooner or later we’ll be caught by someone being in this house.

Finally I was in Shavington last night and there was an Austin 1100 being worked on down the street. A young boy was going it. There was a little girl of about 3 or 4 helping him or watching him. He was talking to her and asked her where something was, like a nursery or a toy room or something. She took him down to where Caliburn was parked. He opened the door of Caliburn and took out a bottle of beer and started to drink it. I went down there and grabbed hold of him and asked him what he was doing. He wouldn’t answer so I asked him for his name. He gave me about 4 or 5 different names. In the end I asked him what was his name in his birth certificate. He replied “none of those. It’s extremely complicated”. I was becoming extremely short-tempered at this particular moment so maybe it was just as well that I awoke.

Being awake is one thing. Being out of bed is something else. It was round about 09:30 when I finally arose from the dead, and then after the medication I spent much of the day choosing the music for the next batch of 5 radio programmes.

All of that is done and dusted, although it took me longer than it might have done. Breakfast was a contributory factor and so was lunch, but there was more than just a small amount of indolence too

folding up market stall herbert hooverplein leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022When I’d finished, I went off into town for my walk.

With it being Friday, it’s market day in the Herbert Hooverplein and the Monseigneur Ladeuzeplein although they have usually all cleared off by 14:00. I caught the very last one, who “shall fold their tents, like the Arabs and as silently steal away”, just like in Longfellow’s “The Day Is Done”.

First stop on my way into town was at the FNAC to check the data cables for my telephone. But if anyone thinks that I’m going to be paying the kind of price that they want for one, then they are mistaken.

demolition of match supermarket bondgenotenlaan leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022So never mind. I have a cunning plan, so I headed off outside the front door into the Bondgenotenlaan.

There’s a “Match” supermarket just up the road from here but by the looks of things it isn’t going to be here all that long. Since I was here last, they have made a start on demolishing it.

That’s a shame because what we’ll have is a modern deluxe building with the kind of rent that a supermarket like Match could never pay and make a profit, and there’s another local amenity gone for good.

However it is quite amusing seeing the 18th Century building still standing after all these years and here they are ripping down something of the 1960s. It just goes to show.

In Kruidvat, as I expected, I struck it lucky. I picked up a 2-metre micro-USB cable for just €2:99. That’s much more like it.

That was a good move because I can use that with the ZOOM H8 and bring the smaller cable with me on my travels to use with the ‘phone and the NIKON 1 J5.

wall plaque sack of leuven louis melsensstraat leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022In my quest for a baking tin, I went down the Louis Melsensstraat towards the cheap shops. And here I noticed a wall plaque of a type that I don’t recall seeing before.

The story of the Sack of Leuven by the Germans in August 1914 has been told often enough and you’ll see many buildings in the town with a wall plaque like the one on the left, indicating that the building was a victim of the German atrocities.

The one on the right though is different. I’ve no idea to what the date of 1922 refers. It might possibly related to the date when the building was restored. I shall have to make certain enquiries when I find someone who might know the answer.

Neither Wibra, Zeeman nor Hema came up with a suitable baking tin so it looks as if I’ll have to buy one of the overpriced ones at LeClerc when I go home. Those there are 18cm ones there but that’s more than enough for me to make a cake for myself in the future. The pyrex dish that I used instead was rather too large for what I want.

There was better luck in Sports Direct, where I bought some new trousers and also in the health-food shop Origin’o where I picked up some more grated vegan cheese for my pizzas and some vegan sausages. I really enjoyed those that I bought last time I was here.

river dijle leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022On the way to Delhaize (for some more banana soya drink) and Hema, I went for a little wander by the River Dijle to see what was happening there.

It’s changed quite a lot since we last stood on this spot. Back in 2016 when I was living here the river was overflowing after that very dramatic rainstorm that we had had, and a few months ago it was pretty full too after a lengthy bout of rain.

At Delhaize I picked up my drink and then went round to Hema. No baking tins here either, which was a surprise. Hema usually has almost everything that you need. What do people in Flanders (and France) use when they are baking cakes? And where do they go to buy it?

christmas trees grote markt leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022Back in the Grote Markt, it’s starting to go dark so they have illuminated the Christmas trees and the other decorations.

The crèche has gone so there isn’t all that much here to illuminate today so we have to do the best that we can with what we’ve got. Lighting up the real tree that’s here is … errr … interesting.

It’s still quite cold so I’m not going to hang around this afternoon. There are plenty of places that I would like to visit, but not in this weather. The possibility of a piping-hot coffee is summoning me home.

Back here I had the coffee that I had promised myself and then went through the photos that I’d taken over the last few days.

But now that I’ve had my tea, I’m off to bed. I have an 05:00 start in the morning ready for my train at 06:26.

Wednesday 5th May 2021 – HAVING READ …

trawler baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall… the Press from yesterday, you’ll probably understand now why we are seeing fishing boats working away in the Baie de Mont St Michel these days.

With the eternal conflict going on around Jersey right now, it’s probably just as well that they take this opportunity to explore new fishing grounds closer to home to see what they are likely to be able to provide by the way of catch.

There were three or four out there this afternoon too. This one out near the Brittany coast is the closest to my point of view. All of the others were too far out for me to be able to photograph them appropriately. And I wonder how long they are going to be out there too. I haven’t seen them this diligent in the bay before now.

trawler leaving port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd as I watched from my vantage point up on the walls, another one went out to join them in the bay. She left the harbour behind and headed off deeper into the bay.

But I have a feeling that this might not be as permanent arrangement as I might at one time have thought. In the Jersey Press today was the usual propaganda and sabre-rattling to placate the natives over there, but tucked away in a corner out of view was a little notice that the Jersey Authorities have approached the British Government and the European Union to seek permission to negotiate directly with the Normandy and Brittany fishermen.

The threat of cutting off the electricity to the islands did the trick. It didn’t take long for the French to bring the Channel Islanders to heel, did it?

And it didn’t take long for my bad habits to resurface did it? After a day yesterday where I went without crashing out, I succumbed this afternoon. Not as badly as I have done in the past just recently but it was still a dismal state of affairs.

Mind you, I blame the fact that I couldn’t sleep last night and it was about 02:30 by the time that I went to bed. No-one is going to feel on form after just 3.5 hours sleep. In fact I’m surprised that I kept going for as long as I did today.

After the medication I didn’t do much and that’s not a surprise. I stirred a few papers around and that’s just about it as far as the morning went. There were so many things that needed to be done but I ended up doing nothing at all.

One of the things that I forgot to do this morning was to make some more hummus. As a result I had to have vegan cheese with my salad on my butties and I don’t have all that much of that left.

This afternoon I finally started work and brought my journal up-to-date by indexing the entries that hadn’t been indexed, and there were quite a few of those. And then I attacked the dictaphone entries. Most of them are done but I’m not going to update the journal until they are all finished. I can however add in today’s to let you know where I went during what there was of the night last night.

But talking of last night, It’s been a good while since I’ve had a night sweat but I had one then. I can’t remember now very much about my voyage now except that there was a horse involved in it somewhere. I was having to meet some people coming home or I was coming home and had to meet some people, something like that, I can’t remember now but I awoke drenched in sweat.

After going back to sleep I was back in County Durham again on the east coast. There were plenty of car scrapyards around one of which was full of lorries and bits of garden hose, all kinds of other stuff as well. There was more to it than this but as you are probably eating your meal right now I’ll spare you the gory details.

In fact there will be a couple of the arrears that won’t make it on line. There have been a few very disturbing ones just recently.

place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall
For a change this afternoon I decided on going for a walk around the medieval city walls. It’s been a long time since I’ve been that way round.

While I was out here I took advantage of the viewpoint that goes across the top of the gate that leads outside the city walls. There’s a nice view along here to the Place d’Armes where I live. If you see just to the right of centre the white building with the sloping roof, my own building is the big stone one immediately behind it.

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) you can’t see my own apartment from there.

The large building further back with the modern extension to the right is the College Malraux, the local High School

trawler english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere’s a good view out to sea from up here on the walls.

In the distance I could see something moving about over by the Ile de Chausey so I took a photograph of it with the aim of blowing it up (something that I can do, despite modern anti-terrorist legislation) so that I can see what it was that I had seen.

At first I thought that it might have been Joly France or Chausiais coming back from the Ile de Chausey, even though it’s off the usual route that they take coming back. But in actual fact she’s one of the trawlers out of the port.

At least she’s managed to get out to sea today despite the current issues with the Channel Islands.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallFinal thing that I must do while I’m on this side of the headland is to look down onto the beach to see if there was anyone about.

But there wasn’t all that much beach to be on as you probably saw on one of the earlier photographs. The tide is quite far in as I was taking these photographs. Mind you, this guy and his little daughter seem to have found a nice corner in which to sit. Anywhere on the beach near the sea is good enough for a small child regardless of the weather and the state of the tide.

On the footpath underneath the walls I might have been tempted to break into a run, but there were far too many people around for me to want to embarrass myself like this. Instead, I had a nice leisurely walk underneath the walls.

plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallEventually I arrived at the viewpoint overlooking the Place Marechal Foch and the Plat Gousset.

There was certainly no shortage of people wandering around there this afternoon. It’s half-day closing at the schools of course so many people here have the afternoon off to look after their kids. So if you ever want to find a crowd of people at some time other than a weekend, Wednesday afternoon is the time to be doing it.

There aren’t any Birdmen of Alcatraz out there today though. And thinking on, we haven’t seen any of them about for quite a while either. So musing on that particular thought, I set off across the square Maurice Marland and headed back for home and my coffee.

road works rue cambernon Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOn my way home, I managed to track down the workmen who have been doing stuff around the Rue Cambernon.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that over the last week or ten days ago we’ve seen signs of them setting up a camp in the Place d’Armes and driving around in dumpers loaded with gravel and I mentioned that I’ll have to go and find out where it was that they are working. And there they are, down there at the corner of the Rue Saint Michel.

And that was exactly the same place where they were working the last time that we were round here, which was before Christmas if I remember rightly when they were doing things all the way up the street.

road works rue st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallIt’s difficult to believe that after all of this time they are still working there and haven’t finished off what they were doing.

It was my intention to take a short cut down the alleyway at the far end of the Rue St Michel but that was ruled out because the workmen haven’t finished at that end either. There was a guy there with a compactor flattening everything down in the street and sweeping up the debris quite diligently with his broom.

In the end I had to go the long way around and leave the workmen to whatever it was that they were doing. And when I reached the walls, I could see the trawlers that I photographed earlier.

And as I write these notes I can add that since I started them I’ve discovered that the British Government has sent two gunboats to the Bay of Granville. Bearing in mind that the entire might of the Royal Navy couldn’t defeat a handful of Icelandic trawlers in the 1960s, I can’t see this doing much good.

And as I have said before, it doesn’t matter how much fish the British fishing boats catch. If they can’t sell any of it, it won’t make the slightest difference.

chevrolet car from connecticut parvis notre dame Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallSomething else that hasn’t changed much is the little Chevrolet car.

It has Connecticut licence plates but the stickers expired a long, long (as in 10 years or so if I remember correctly) time ago and was abandoned here last Summer. Like the car in the Rue St Paul, they don’t seem to be in too much hury removing it.

As it happens I’m keen to find out who the owner might be, for the simple reason that I would like to know how he managed to bring the vehicle over here. It’s not a high-value vehicle so the costs of shipping it would be more than the cost of a replacement vehicle, from what my researches have revealed.

If I could find a way to move Caliburn economically back and to across the Atlantic every year I would do so at the drop of a hat.

Back here I carried on with a little work and then went for guitar practice.

Tea tonight was a burger on a bap followed by jam roly-poly and home-made custard. And While I was making the custard I was thinking that why don’t I make another one of those chocolate sponges that I made once or twice and them instead of vanilla flavouring, put chocolate powder in the mix for the sauce? That would be nice.

So now I’m off to bed. I’ve done enough today. Hopefully I’ll awake early and have a grandstand seat at the naval battle that will take place offshore. I can’t imagine that the French would let British gunboats cruise around just offshore here without bringing in one or two of their own.

Thursday 18th February 2021 – THAT WAS A …

… really nice tea tonight. And I’ve no idea why either.

For a start, it was the same stuffing that I’d used on Tuesday in my pepper (well, not the same, but leftovers from the same batch) lengthened with kidney beans and stuffed into tacos to make taco rolls with rice (which I remembered to put in the pan tonight). All followed by apple crumble with (because I’ve run out of coconut dessert) some soya vanilla cream dessert.

What beats me is that it’s the same stuff that I’ve had on a regular basis over the past ever so many years and yet it tasted far better tonight than it ever has done.

What else beats me is the news that I was up yet again before the third (now fourth) alarm. That’s not like me at all these days, as regular readers of this rubbish will realise. What’s even more surprising was that it was a horribly late night – or, more to the point – early morning. I was half-expecting to be still in bed right now.

So after medication I had a listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night. I’m not sure what was happening here but it was another hot, sweaty dream. There were a few of us on a bus or train and we had to go to the toilet. The conveyance came to a stop so we all had to rush to the public conveniences. We stampeded like mad to go there. It was obvious that some people who were older or more infirm than us and we overtook them. One of our party became a steward and was letting people in in accordance with how they had descended from the coach or even people sitting at these tables. We had to wait our turn. In the end we could enter a cubicle but in the one that I was in you had to use a bottle. I went to use it but a guy knocked on the door asking if he could have his bottle back. I said that I was just about to use it to which he replied “oh no, I need it back”. I said “you find me another bottle and you can have this one back no problem whatsoever”. He produced something tiny like a nail file brush container thing. I said “don’t be silly, a proper-sized bottle”. He replied “I can’t see one”, something like that. “There must be one here – there are all these toilets”. Despite the intervention from a couple of other people who were trying their best to help out, he wouldn’t supply a second bottle and insisted on trying to take his away. I wasn’t having any of this. I couldn’t move because I was sitting on the toilet by now. This became something of a stupid impasse. Each time I looked at him, there was always something more missing off his car. It was becoming a wreck and he wouldn’t be able to go there anyway but he kept on insisting for his bottle back and I kept on insisting that he find me something else to use and he offering me this little nail file brush thing and it was all becoming really stupid.

You can’t say that you aren’t being overwhelmed with excitement by some of this stuff, can you?

Later on, there we were, 3 of us, me, a young girl and a woman and we were dressed in some quite elaborate and decent clothing for the carnival, to be a police officer, constable or police observer, whatever but we had to travel in civilian clothes so you don’t know. Everyone was lined up there taking off their ex-military underwear and swapping it. This is where I joined in and we had exactly the same argument as we had before about the issue of handing over the tokens.
So what I want to know is “what have I missed off here that wasn’t recorded?”. That must have been good too.

Later on, I had a shower and a general clean-up, and I even went one better than David Crosby because while he almost cut his hair, I cut mine. It was starting to become too long for how I like it so I’ve cut it right back with a n°2. That’ll keep it out of mischief for a few weeks.

Grabbing a slice of sourdough fruitcake and a mug of hot chocolate I had my one-on-one with my Welsh teacher. It should have been for 15 minutes but we were finished long before that. I told her about my Teflon brain (nothing sticks to it) but she thinks that I’m doing pretty well. That’s surprising because I’m sure that I can do much better than I am.

Rather later than usual because of my one-on-one, I headed off for the shops.

yachting school baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallDown at the end of the road I had a look over the wall to see what was going on down in the harbour.

Not a lot – no freighters in today so it seems. But the yachting school seems to be in full swing. You can see the little boats with their green sails out there in the bay.

And seeing them there reminds me. That’s one of the things that really needs my attention – to go down there and enquire about taking a course in yachting this Spring. It’s not actually the yachting that interests me but the whole seamanship thing. I know about port and starboard and fore and aft but that’s about it.

However I’m not the worst at this. I know that one of my female friends was most upset when a sailor shouted “avast behind” as she walked past him on the deck.

It had been raining earlier but it had dried up a little so it was quite pleasant walking around the back of the town on the way to the railway station.

When you’ve paid for your tickets on-line you are given a security code and with the code and the bank card that you used to buy your tickets, you obtain your tickets from the machine at the station. But sometimes it’s out of order and the booking office doesn’t open until 09:30 whereas the train leaves at 08:55.

For that reason I always like to go for my tickets a couple of days earlier as I pass on the way to the shops when the ticket office is open. If the machine is out of order the booking office can print them out.

LIDL was expensive today. I spent a lot of money there. But then again I’d forgotten to buy a lot of things at the weekend so I suppose it was about right, I reckon.

demolition of house rue st paul rue victor hugo Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOn the way back home I went to look at the old cafe on the corner of the Rue St Paul and the Rue Victor Hugo to see how they are getting on with the demolition.

And it’s not there now – the ground’s all flat, although I doubt if there is a man with a bowler hat beneath it. What there are though are a couple of large signs fixed to the fence telling us that planning permission has been applied for so that a block of flats might be erected on the spot. But I’d heard all about that a week or two ago.

The town was quite busy this morning as I passed through. It’s school half-term this week so the brats are at liberty running around with stressed-out grandparents in tow.

le pearl gates of port de Granville harbour closing Manche Normandy France Eric HallOn up the hill in the Rue des Juifs I staggered with my heavy load. And I reached the park bench on the pavement at a very propitious moment.

Just as I arrived, the red light at the harbour entrance started to flash and as I watched, the gates slowly started to close. I stood and watched them for a while and I was trying to work out the pressure that the hydraulic rams must have to exert to close the gates against the pressure of water that must be upon them. It’s hardly surprising that they have to replace the gates every now and again.

Many of the trawlers are out at sea by the looks of things, but one that isn’t is our old – or maybe I ought to say “new” – friend Le Pearl moored up over there next to the harbour offices.

Where I was sitting was right by the Rampe du Monte à Regret, the path and stairway that leads down to the lower road at the Place Pelley (in case you haven’t guessed it, Granville is honeycombed with alleys, ramps and stairways due to the steepness of the cliffs around here).

pointing rampe du monte à regret Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThis is where they have been doing the pointing of the retaining wall for the last while, so I was intrigued to see just how they were doing. And the answer is, as you can see for yourself, that they’ve made no progress whatever over the last three weeks at least.

However, I have heard an interesting little story about this wall. Apparently one of the local Employment Project things that they have around here is running a course in stone-pointing starting in March and the only place where they can have some real practical experience is just here on this wall. So I wonder if that’s why work has ground to a halt – they are going to be having the apprentices doing it as the practical part of their course.

And with all of the renovation plans that they announced for the walls the other day, I suppose that they’ll need all of the apprentices they can find.

trawlers unloading fish processing plant port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallSo having recovered my breath I headed on up the hill to the viewpoint overlooking the fish processing plant.

Although the gates to the harbour are closed, there is still plenty of activity down there. Some of the trawlers must have only beaten the gates by a matter of a couple of minutes because as I watched , a couple of them jostled for position at the fish-processing plant so that they could unload their catch.

Back in the apartment it was lunchtime so I grabbed my sandwiches. I found some smoked vegan cheese with a sell-by date of January 2020 when I was cleaning out the fridge so I’ve started on that today until it’s gone.

Rosemary had rung me while I was out so I rang her back. Just a little phone call today – one hour and fifty-two minutes. I don’t know what it is that we find to talk about during all of this time.

That took me all the way up to walkies-time so I went back out to see how things were doing.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere were plenty of people around today too, especially down on the beach by the steps up to the Rue du Nord. Not as many people as the other day when there seemed to be hordes of them, but more than enough to get into a pile of mischief.

Up here on the car park there were dozens of people milling around, including a couple of brats whizzing around on scooters between the parked cars. Mind you, it was quite warm for the time of year. 9°C on the thermometer that I have and isn’t that quite a bit warmer than this time last week?

So having sorted out all of that, I headed off down the path on my way out to see what the rest of the world was up to.

lighthouse cap frehel brittany coast Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallToday was another one of those days where although there was a sea mist, the coast was fairly clear and you could see for miles down that way even if it was hazy out to sea.

The lighthouse at Cap Frehel was quite clearly visible with the naked eye today, long before I reached the headland and that’s always impressive considering that it’s about 70 kilometres away from here. And one of these days, when I’ve finished the photos and the web pages for my summer in Eastern Europe, I’ll do the photos from my boat trip down the coast and you can see the lighthouse for yourselves in glorious technicolour.

But don’t hold your breath. It’s going to be quite a long job.

rainstorm baie de mont st michel brittany Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallEven from down where I was standing I could see a big dirty cloud away in the distance so I was keen to go and have a closer look to see what that was doing.

Plenty of people around on the paths and the lawns and even a broken down car with its bonnet up on the car park so it was rather a slalom course that I had to take in order to reach the end of the headland. And I do have to say that I found that cloud quite impressive to watch.

That must be a really impressive downpour going on over there in the bay, and the coastline over there seems to be taking a real pounding. Luckily the wind is in another quarter so we won’t be getting any of that, which is just as well.

sun on sea brittany coast baie se mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThe kind of weather that we were having was so much better.

It was quite cloudy and dry, with not too much wind. But we did have another hole in the sky that was letting through a rather large amount of sunshine that was lighting up the bay right in front of me. And the town of Cancale on the other side was brought out quite nicely in relief by the light.

But I can’t stay here all day. I headed on down the path on the other side but there was nothing at all of any interest in the port or in the chantier navale I came home instead for my hot coffee.

orange kefir ginger beer place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallHaving drunk the coffee I turned my attention to the kefir that had been brewing for the last few days.

There are still some oranges remaining that need using so it was orange kefir today, and here are three bottles of the aforementioned that I prepared today, with the new kefir mix to the side and the ginger beer from the other day to the left.

Those bottles that I bought the other day don’t look very happy though. I hope that they are reliable enough to work under the kind of pressure that my kefir reaches.

As well as all of this I’ve done a few more photos of our trip to the hot springs in Greenland and also some more work tagging and indexing the photos from Oradour. They are all completed and I’m now doing them for the Chateau de Chalus.

It’s disappointing that they aren’t ready because I was hoping too have had them finished today. But friends come first of course. And tomorrow I have bread to bake, a Course to study and probably half a dozen other things that I’ve forgotten too, so I’ve no idea when they will be finished.

Talking of friends, Terry has had the statement setting out what French Old Age Pension he’s likely to receive on the basis of his own contributions. He’s amassed enough credits for a monthly pension of €25:00. I told him that I’ll chip in my monthly Old-Age Pension from my employment in Belgium – all €30:23 per month – and the two of us can go berserk.

Spend, spend, spend, hey?

Wednesday 7th October 2020 – MEANWHILE, BACK AT …

… Castle Anthrax I had my check-up. Blood count is down to a mere 8.2, just 0.2 above the critical limit. They didn’t keep me in, but they didn’t give me a blood transfusion either. They are trying a new treatment on me again, something called Octagam.

One thing that I did was to check on the side effects and symptoms. And to my surprise, I have many of the symptoms that are flagged, a couple of which have even seen me hospitalised. But I assume that they know what they are doing.

Having said that, I’m not convinced that I do. I couldn’t sleep last night and it was long after 02:30 when I finally went to bed. Quite obviously there was no chance of my leaving the bed at the sound of the alarm. I was surprised that I managed to be out of bed by 07:20.

First job was to have a shower and a clothes wash. I need to make myself pretty. And then to make some sandwiches. I’d no idea how long this session was going to last.

And then I hit the streets.

Demolition Sint Peters Hospital Brusselsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallWhen you have been away for a while from a place that you know, it’s very interesting to see the changes that have taken place since your last visit.

ON OUR TRAVELS AROUND LEUVEN in the past we’ve seen the start of a whole system of changes to the city, starting with the demolition on the Sint Pieter’s Hospital Building where I stayed for a week or two when I first came here in 2016. They are making a considerable advance in dealing with the matter but it looks as if it’s going to take an age.

It’s a shame that A FORMER NEIGHBOUR and customer of my taxis is no longer with us. He would have had that building down in a twinkle of an eye and at much less cost too.

Water Spray Sint Pieters Hospital Brusselsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallWhile I was watching some of the demolition, my interest was caught by this machine and I was wondering what it might be.

It took me a while but I think that I know now what it might be. It looks like some kind of water atomiser powered mainly by compressed air, I suppose, that’s blasting a pile of water over the heap of rubble that has been knocked down from the building. I imagine that its purpose is to keep the dust down.

You would never have had precautions like that 20 years or so ago. It seems that Health and Safety Regulations have even arrived over here.

Sint Jacobsplein Leuven Belgium Eric HallMy route continued along the Brusselsestraat to the corner of the place where I lived for 6 months, and then round the corner into the Sint Jacobsplein.

When we’d been away for a couple of months last year, we came back here to find a great big hole in the middle of the Square. It was all fenced off so we never had the opportunity to look into it, and even though it’s been at least a year since they made a start on it, they still haven’t finished.

This is turning into a really long job and I’m wondering if I’ll still be here to see the finished product. At least, I hope that they will make a better job of it than they did of that deplorable patch of asphalt in Granville.

Replacing Sewer Biezenstraat Leuven Belgium Eric Hallat the side of the Sint Jacobsplein is the Biezenstraat, and when we were last here IN JULY they were busy making a start on digging it up

Since then, they seem to have made a great deal of progress. And now that I can see the big concrete pipes down there, I can tell now that it’s all to do with replacing the sewer pipes in the street. That makes me wonder if they’ve installed something like a subterranean holding tank or something underneath the Sint Jacobsplein.

And as for the Frittourist, the fritkot on the edge of the Square to the left, the roadworks can’t be doing them much good in the way of passing trade. It’s a good fritkot too, one of the best in the City.

Replacing Sewer Sint Hubertusstraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallWhen I turn around to look behind me the other way to face the direction of the Hospital, I’m admiring the Sint Hubertusstraat.

When we came here last time, in early July, there was a huge hole in the middle of the crossroads and we had to walk miles around in order to proceed without falling down a great big hole in the road.

But now, it seems that they’ve filled in that part of the street now and while the surface isn’t finished, and not by a long way either, we can still walk past it on our way up the hill towards the hospital.

Apartment Building Block of Flats Monseigneur van Waeyenberglaan Leuven Belgium Eric HallJust after the corner there’s a big block of flats on the left that we always walk past.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that a while ago all of the residents were turfed out and once they had gone, the building was completely gutted right back to the framework. They have gradually been rebuilding it and it looks as if they are on the point of packing away their tools.

You can see all of the “For Sale” signs on the windows of the apartments. Most of them that I could see are “sold” and that presumably means that the new inhabitants will be moving into their homes very soon. It’s taken them long enough.

Replacing Sewer Monseigneur van Waeyenberglaan Leuven Belgium Eric HallMy struggle up the hill continued, through all of the roadworks that were there last time. The trench has been filled in and they are reworking the pavements and the cycle track right now.

The actual heavy work is now taking place on the way up between the by-pass overbridge and the roundabout at the foot of the car park. And just as I arrived, they obliged me by picking up a large concrete pipe and dropping it into the hole that they have dug.

For a change, I was early and was quickly logged in. And I found the reason why there had been such a delay in my treatment. In the waiting room there are no longer 40 seats but just 10. and in the communal treatment rooms where 20 people can sit and have their treatment, there are just two seats. There are about a dozen or so confidential treatment rooms where you go for your tests on admission, and now patients are left in these rooms throughout the whole of their treatment.

So Instead of about 50 patients at a session, there are now just maybe a dozen. Hardly a surprise given what’s going on right now.

A nice nurse took care of me and I had a nice young trainee doctor. There have to be some benefits of having this illness. Even nicer, Kaatje came to see me and we has a nice chat. She’s nominally a Social Worker but in reality she’s a psychiatrist, although they don’t let on. Every terminally-ill patient has a psychiatrist allocated to them, and Kaatje can come and administer to my needs any time she likes.

While I had her attention, I mentioned the issues – or lack of them – about not having had my compulsory 4-week treatment since January this year. Not that it will do any good but it’s something that one has to do.

While I was sitting there having my perfusion, I attacked the dictaphone. Last night I was a girl, would you believe? And I was living at home. I’d been downstairs for a meal and tried to talk to people and be interesting but no-one was listening or interested in the least with what I had to say. They were always cutting my speech, that kind of thing. In the end I threw something of a tantrum and stormed upstairs to my room. There was a record player in there and a record on and playing but the needle wasn’t advancing. It was just going round and round he edge again. Sooner or later there was a knock and the door opened. It was my father coming in. I thought that he might have come in to talk to me about things. But no. He just handed me a pair of my gloves that I’d left downstairs and said “you’ve forgotten these” and turned round and went out. I was so disappointed.
Later on there was one of these American sleuths – a Philip Marlowe type. He was renowned for helping his clients in all kinds of ways, many of which were illicit, to escape detection. This came at a price of course. One day he was being interviewed by a gangland boss who he didn’t particularly like. The gangland boss said something like “I understand that you can help people out of certain kinds of difficulties. Well I need a little help – that kind of thing. This private detective taunted him a little bit then said “yes, I’ll do that, $5,000”. To which the mafia type guy, the crook erupted into a rage. He grabbed this guy by the lapels and started to shake him like a dog. Just then, two warders came in to try and sort it all out.

Round about 14:00 my treatment was over and I could leave, having picked up next month’s supply of medication.

Statue Roundabout Gasthuisberg UZ Leuven Belgium Eric HallHere’s something that I’ve not noticed before, although that isn’t to say that it wasn’t there.

In the middle of the roundabout at the bottom of this car park is this large concrete pillar. And I’ve no idea why it’s there and what it’s supposed to represent. My opinion of modern art IS VERY WELL KNOWN so I won’t waste your time in repeating it. But seriously, I can’t see any attraction whatever in a concrete cast-off like this.

It reminds me very much of one of Albert Speer’s flak towers in Berlin, or something designed by someone from the Donald Gibson School of Wanton Vandalism, as I once mentioned IN MY UNIVERSITY THESIS

Demolition Sint Rafael Building Site Kapucijnenvoer Leuven Belgium Eric HallWhile we’re on the subject of wanton vandalism … “well, one of us is” – ed … after my hospital wisit I wandered on down the hill to see what was going on on the Kapucijnenstraat.

When we had walked past there the last time that we were here, they had started on the demolition of the annexes to the Sint Rafael. It’ always very interesting to see how they are doing and it seems to me that right now the whole lot have been swept away. They are even starting to build something on the site, but I bet it won’t be anything like as attractive.

At least the magnificent Flemish-style main building is there, but I may well go for a wander around tomorrow with the camera to record it for posterity because the cynic inside me HAS VERY LITTLE FAITH in modern developers. A suspicious fire could break out at any moment.

Interesting Old Bulding Kapucijnenvoer Leuven Belgium Eric HallThere is however a good side to all of this demolition, even if it might not seem like it.

There are loads of old houses from the glory days of the city that have been obscured by new development. There’s a little Close off the Brusselsestraat that I haven’t yet explored but with the demolition of a newer building in the Kapucijnenstraat a couple of the houses down at the bottom end of the Close have been revealed.

When I’m out and about next, I’ll have to go to have a closer look, to see whether it is an original or whether it’s a simple modern reproduction.

Repairing City Walls Handbooghof Leuven Belgium Eric HallAnother thing that regular readers of this rubbish will recall is that last time I was here I made a note about the lamentable state of the city walls in certain places.

It’s quite clear that the good Burghers of the City are keen and regular readers of the rubbish that I write because they now seem to be fenced off and there is scaffolding up in certain places. So maybe they really are going on to do something about it all.

It was round about here that I found a set of keys lying in the road. As it happens, a couple of Municipal Police were walking in the immediate vicinity so I referred the matter to them. I went on to Delhaize for a bit more shopping to take home.

Olleke Bolleke Tiensestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallAfter Delhaize I went to Origin’O for some grated vegan cheese for my next supply of pizza and then headed for home.

In the Tiensestraat I came across my favourite sweet shop. Or at least, it was when I was allowed to eat animal products, because as far as I know, all of their products contain pork gelatine. It’s the kind of place where you put your sweets into a bag and weigh the bag to work out the price.

The first time I encountered one of these shops was when I was in Bruges getting on for 40 years ago. It’s quite a large chain of shops with branches in most of the towns. in fact, some might say that sweets in Belgium are nothing but a load of Bollekes.

Back here, I had a few things to do and that took some time to organise.

Bloemenautomat Brabanconnestrat Leuven Belgium Eric HallLater on, it was time to go out. Alison and I had arranged to meet in the town centre.

And now I have seen everything I reckon. In the past we’ve seen pizzamats, potatomats and, a few weeks ago, a soupomat. Plenty of other mats too. But today is the first time ever that I’ve seen a Bloemenomat – an automatic flower-vending machine – here at the florist’s on the corner of the Brabanconnestraat.

It makes me wonder whether or not it shouts “violet, get your luvverly violets” at passers-by. That remains to be seen.

Photograph Team Rector De Somerplein Leuven Belgium Eric HallHaving inspected the Bloemenautomat, I headed off down the Tiensestraat into the town centre.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that one of my favourite photography subjects is to take photographs of other people taking photographs. Whilst that’s not the case in this photograph, I surprised a group of photographers marching actoss the Rector de Somerplein and it was too good an opportunity to miss.

Alison was waiting for me at our usual meeting place. It was nice to meet up again because it’s been a couple of months since we’ve last seen each other.

There seems to be a new place opened, the Wasbar in the Tiensestraat, and it was advertising vegan food. We decided to go there to see what it was like. It was certainly different and overpriced, but if you don’t go, you won’t know.

St Pieterskerk Leuven Belgium Eric HallAfter we’d eaten out meal we headed off back down into town.

At the bottom of the Tiensestraat is the magnificent St Peter’s Church – the Sint Pieterskerk. It’s least the third church on this site – the first known church being first recorded in 986. Made of wood, it was destryed by fire in 1176 and replaced by a church in the Romanesque period.

This one was in turn replaced by the present one, began round about 1425 and, surprisingly, still to be finished. Probably a British construction company was involved somewhere in the proceedings.

St Pieterskerk Leuven Belgium Eric HallHere at the western end, the twin towers of the Romanesque church were to remain but in 1458 they were destroyed by fire.

There was a design proposed to replace them with some really impressive towers but firstly the foundations were not solid enough, then they ran out of money, and then there were a couple of collapses of whatever of the towers had been built. Had the plans been properly completed, it would have been the tallest building in the world at the time.

During the Sack of Leuven in 1914 the church was set alight and the roof was destroyed. And then in 1944 it suffered a direct him on its northern side from a bomb

lights Mathieu de Layensplein Leuven Belgium Eric HallWhile we’d been walking around on our way to our meal we’d noticed some lights down at the end of one of the streets. On the way back we decided to go and have a look to see what as going on.

Here in the Mathieu de Layensplein where they have the brocantes at weekends, one of the bars here has decided to bring a little gaiety into the area by stringing up some very nice lights.

The whole Square looks quite nice and interesting like this and it would have been nice to see more people try this kind of thing in their neighbourhood. With everything that’s going on right now, we could do with some brightening up.

Tiensestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallOn the way back home, someone stopped me in the Tiensestraat and asked for directions.

While I was talking, I was having a look round and having the subject of lights going round in my head, I noticed just how nice the lower end of the Tiensestraat looked with all of the lights on the buildings. It’s another subject that seems to be crying out for a photograph.

Having done all of that, I headed home and missed my short-cut, so I had to go the long way round.

And now I’ve written up my notes (and that was a labour of love) I’m off to bed. No alarm tomorrow because the medication usually takes a lot out of me and I don’t know what this new stuff will be like.

And, of course, I have a 05:30 start on Friday so I need to be at my best.

Thursday 13th August 2020 – WHAT A HORRIBLE …

… day it was today.

It all started off during the night, seeing as it was something of a turbulent sleep and so it’s hardly surprising that there were tons of stuff on the dictaphone.

There was some kind of big incident going on, a murder or something like that and everyone was having to be questioned. Castor and Pollux were there and it became a case about their grandparents. It was so that their grandparents whatever they must do they must not go on the next leg of this trip because the stress would do them a lot of harm. I had to remind people of what had been said about this and they had a look. Yes, they were going on the next leg of this trip. I was wondering how I could catch up with Castor and rekindle our friendship. So I really don’t know.

Later on there were half a dozen or so of us, one of whom was another girl whom I particularly fancied. She ended up playing golf with another guy, getting right down to the end. Totally ignoring me and the rest of our little group. You’ve no idea just how hard or difficult it was to be there last night watching her there with this other guy. I was really, really down on my luck as far as that was concerned. Whether or not she had any kind of feeling for him, all she was interested in was playing golf and they seemed to be really having a good time enjoying themselves. I awoke absolutely full of grief, would you believe and drenched in sweat. All kinds of emotions about this. It was really strange. I just felt so bitterly, bitterly disappointed.

Later yet we continued our tramp through this countryside towards the sea, a group of four or five of us. We met the girl again. She was being taught how to walk on high heels by a couple of people. She was totally ignoring us so we just carried on walking in this dry countryside towards the sea and we suddenly seemed to take a different way. Whoever was leading the party branched off down this dirt track instead of along the main road. It brought us out somewhere at a T junction. I asked “how long is it going to be before we get there” but no-one replied, basically as if no-one really knew but didn’t actually want to say so which was a bit strange seeing as we were being guided by some kind of fitbit or GPS or something like that.

There was much more to it than this but as you are probably eating your lunch or something like that, I’ll spare you the gory details. What was interesting was that a couple of times, after awakening, I went straight back into a nocturnal voyage exactly where I had left it. And that’s happening more and more frequently these days.

But at least it was a very welcome return for Castor who put in an appearance, although it wasn’t under any sort of circumstances that I would have welcomed.

The upshot of all of this was that I was awake long before the alarm went off and so I had plenty of time to catch up with some paperwork before Hans surfaced.

After a coffee, we went out to breakfast at the cafe across the road and then we went to REWE so that he could do his shopping. And I was impressed by the amount of vegan products – even vegan cheese – available in there now.

Having packed Caliburn I headed off into the sunset – definitely going west.

And all the way this afternoon we had one hiccup after another. Roadworks, diversions – you name it we had it.

road accident traffic lights schwieberdingerstrasse Enzweihingen germany eric hallThe road out of Stuttgart was gridlocked and it took hours to clear, only for us then to run into a serious accident in the Schwieberdingerstrasse Enzweihingen.

And I’ve really no idea what was going on here. We had a motorhome that had ground to a halt in the middle of the traffic lights and a lorry on the other side of the road parked blocking the traffic looking as if it’s had bits knocked off it.

There were crowds of peopel around watching the events and a couple of policemen taking details but no one, and I do mean no one at all, controlling the traffic and it was all total mayhem. We were sitting in this queue for ages trying to make some kind of headway.

road accident traffic lights schwieberdingerstrasse Enzweihingen germany eric hallAs we approached the junction, inching bit by bit over a period of about an hour we could see that there was another actor in our drama.

If you look closely to the right, you’ll see that there’s a car in the hedge too and it’s difficult to see how it’s come to be there in that position.

Eventually, after a great deal of trouble fighting our way through the chaos we managed to reach the open road. And if that wasn’t enough to be going on with, round by Donauworth the heavens opened and we had one of the most astonishing rainstorms that I have ever seen. The temperature plummeted by 13°C in a matter of a couple of minutes and the rain continued for a good few hours.

What made my bad day worse was that I didn’t realise that there are two towns with the same name in Germany and of course I had booked a hotel there. Consequently, when I arrived in the town after a drive off my route of 60 kms, I couldn’t find the hotel. As a result I had to drive 80kms in the other direction past where I started to find the correct Malsch.

By now it was 20:30 and there was no restaurant open anywhere (it was too late to start up the slow cooker) so that was that.

The hotel is a little dated but then again so is the price so I’m not complaining. I’m hoping to have a decent night’s sleep as I want to have a good day on the road tomorrow.

Saturday 16th May 2020 – IT’S THAT TIME …

paraglider pointe du roc granville manche normandy france eric hall… of the year again and the paragliders are out in force. So while you admire them in full flight I’ll tell you about my day.

As for this morning I won’t tell you anything because regular readers of this rubbish will recall what has happened. The same on many far-too-similar mornings just recently.

And after the medication I had a listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been and, more interestingly, who had been with me.

Last night started me off on the The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour pulling into a fjord in Iceland. This was going to be the end of our journey. There was all snow and ice everywhere and the sea was frozen and the boat was crashing its way through. I was busy doing something, like washing my clothes whatever when I learnt that we were going to finish the tour here. I thought “all my clothes are going to be wet. This is no good”. Then we had a kind of meeting, a group meeting. I was going through my clothes. Some wee dry and some were still wet. I thought that I would have to take them back and hang them up. I noticed that everyone else was streaming off the ship. I asked what was happening. They replied that we all had to get off and stretch our legs. I thought “I’ve far too much to do. I can’t possibly go off and stretch my legs” but we all had the appearance of being ushered off the ship. I couldn’t find Marianne. I was with her but couldn’t find her. I thought that maybe she had left the ship already or maybe she’s somewhere still on board. I had to go and fetch my camera and all my washing needs to be sorted out and everything and I’m never going to get anything done at this rate messing around like this.

As an aside, it was 7 years ago yesterday that I stood by Marianne’s side and watched her die.

paraglider plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallLater on I was back on The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour again and we were all getting ready to get off. Our trip had come to an end. I’d been co-opted into this committee to go to do something about the ship finishing its trip so I’d missed all of the socialising that had taken place. As we were all sent back to our posts I walked back onto the ship and there in the queue, the first passenger ready to leave was one of the passenger with whom I’d spent a great deal of time back in 2018. I was so pleased to see her because I really liked her and I wanted to see her before we went and I was sorry that our trip was over. She was equally delighted to see me so I suggested that we went for a drink because there was so much that I wanted to tell her. We worked out that while there was five minutes before people started to get ready to go so arm in arm we went off down into the hold to look for the bar while everyone else was streaming up the steps with their suitcases. Just as I went to sit down and the waiter came with the drinks and as I started to tell her all about my problems I awoke. And this was another one of these senses of disappointment.
Even later, we were all on The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour and we were just coming into port. Our cruise was coming to an end. I’d been co-oped onto this committee to do something so i’d been off on a meeting. When it came to getting back on board again who should be standing at the first position ready to get off the ship was the aforementioned woman. I wanted to see her and was really sorry that I was going to miss her. I said “let’s go for a coffee, a drink” so while everyone was staggering up the steps with their suitcases we were going down and ended up in this cafe. Just as I was about to tell her what it was that I wanted to say, I awoke. But yes that was one thing where I wanted to see Inspector Japp because I don’t know what was planned already, and that was so puzzling.

It goes without saying that you’ve noticed a great deal of similarity between all of these voyages. and the final two are more-or-less identical (except for Inspector Japp of course – I was watching a Hercule Poirot adventure while I was eating my tea).

Strangely though, according to the timestamps on the dictaphone, there was about two hours between voyage one and two, and one hour or so between voyages two and three so it’s unlikely (although not impossible) that it’s the same voyage that i’ve dictated three times.

And, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, there have been several occasions now where I’ve had repeat voyages on the same day and even on different days. All I can say is that I hope that MCI isn’t going to charge me for these trips that I am making on their ship during the night.

After breakfast I had a shower and set the washing machine off on its travels, and I went to the shops.

The town was heaving and the market was in full swing. You would never guess that there was a global pandemic. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen anything like it.

NOZ was open and I bought a few things here and there, including a six-pack of that cranberry and rosemary alcohol-free beer that I like (and even as I write, I’m polishing one off).

LeClerc was total mayhem with the whole world and his wife in there. Flour is back on the shelves and tomatoes are a reasonable price again. But no yeast at all still.

What they did have which was interesting was some new pure coconut dessert stuff. It was expensive but a two pack was a special offer with a considerable reduction so I bought a pack. We’ll see what it tastes like in a day or two.

One thing that didn’t impress me though was the surly cashier. They are usually cheerful and happy in LeClerc but this one wasn’t.

And we are on the verge of a tragedy. I went into la Vie Claire, the Health Food shop and there isn’t a gramme of vegan cheese or Manuka honey in the whole town.

This afternoon I’ve been a very busy boy.

This new template seems to work so I set about a few of the pages from that web site and brought them up to the new specifications. And then had to go back and do some more work on them because, for one reason or other that I haven’t quite understood, I didn’t put an index on the pages.

There was also this plan to rewrite a web pager per day for my main site. And the one that I chose took some rewriting too because since I wrote it over 20 years ago, the area has changed out of all recognition.

It took me up to 18:15 to finish it and so I missed out on editing any photos.

kayakers plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallThere were a couple of breakes in between though.

No crashing-out today, but lunch was one and my afternoon walk was another. And outside was a seething mass of humanity. We’ve had the paragliders and we had pedestrians too, but there was an awful lot of nautical activity too and we even had a couple of canoeists.

And you know that you must never light a fire in a canoe, don’t you? After all, you can’t have your kayak and heat it.

speedboat yacht brehal plage granville manche normandy france eric hallIt wasn’t all canoeists and kayakers either.

Right out over there offshore at Bréhal-Plage they had the yachts out. I’m not sure whether it’s a yachting school or similar, but the boats seem to be of an identical type. And then there’s the speedboat roaring past.

Crowds on the beaches over there at Bréhal-Plage too, all enjoying the beautiful weather because even with a wind it was quite nice out there this afternoon.

crowds beach plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallCrowds on the beaches down here on the Plat Gousset too.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that yesterday and the day before I queried the situation with regard to access to the beach during the post-quarantine.

The local newspaper came up with the answer this morning, which was that, with certain restrictions applying to the dunes and to the use of the beaches for picnics and sunbathing, the ban was lifted on Thursday afternoon.

So now we know.

seagull nest roof des juifs granville manche normandy france eric hallWe saw a seagull settling down comfortably on the roof of one of the houses in the rue des Juifs the other day.

The council has been cutting down the weeds around here just recently and you can see that this seagull here has collected some of the freshly-cut weeds in order to make a nest. The weeds are still green, and I suppose that the heat given off during the decomposition will help incubate the eggs.

Not that I’m a birdwatcher of course (well, not this kind of bird anyway) but it’s fascinating to see how their lives evolve over the year.

small fishing boat port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallMy route took me round and through the Square Maurice Marland.

And although I can’t be certain it looks as if the harbour gates have just opened – you can see the algae at the high water mark – and this boat has just come sailing … “dieseling” – ed … through.

At first I wasn’t sure what kind of boat it might be but as it turned towards the quayside along the rue du Port I could see that it’s one of the very small inshore fishery boats. It must have been interesting out there in that boat in those winds and waves earlier in the week.

On the way back, I encountered Minette, the old black cat that I hadn’ts een for ages and whose disappearance perplexed me. Anyway, she’s back and wherever she went, she had a very good grooming. She’s a long-hair and she certainly needed it.

Tea was a huge disappointment. I’d seen the remains of a bag of oven chips in the freezer yesterday and that had fired up my appetite. And so I prepared everything that I needed

And then I found that in the bag were just half a dozen chips, so that was pretty much a waste of time. I ended up with a baked potato with my beans and burger.

The apple turnover that I prepared yesterday with the leftover pastry, I baked that as well and that was pudding.

On my evening walk tonight there were even more caravanettes on the camp site, so I’ve given up moaning about it as it’s clearly doing no good. However I did check the numberplates and while there were one or two “50” plates (that’s a number for round here) most of them were not.

sun reflecting off window onto beach st pair sur mer baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france eric hallHowever, apart from the grockles, there weren’t all that many people around. My run up the hill and then down to the clifftop was a solo effort, although two girls sitting on the old gun emplacement wished me a good evening.

Yesterday, regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we had some sunlight reflecting off a window in St Pair sur Mer across the bay and into a tidal pool on the beach. Tonight we have a very similar phenomenon although even more so

Disturbing a bunch of boys eating a take-away meal, I ran on down to my resting place on the clifftop for a breather and then wandered over to the Boulevard Vaufleury.

sunset ile de chausey english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallDespite the headwind I made it all the way down to my marker and then after a breather, carried on down to my next resting place at the viewpoint in the rue du Nord.

There were several people there already, and I arrived just in time to see the sun sink slowly down behind a cloud. Timed to the second, it was.

For a good few minutes I stood there soaking up the atmosphere because out of the wind it really was a pleasant night – the idea night to be out and about admiring the scenery.

crowd on beach building inukshuk plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallAnd as I said, I wasn’t alone here. There were far more people than I was expecting to see.

The rules for the use of the beaches might be relaxed, but not as relaxed as these people here are suggesting. It’s not what I would call social distancing and they seem to be having a forbidden picnic.

It looks as if they have constructed an inukshuk too, in good old Greenland or Canadian Arctic Inuit tradition. They are going to have to wait for quite a while if they are planning on slaughtering a seal for supper.

sunset ile de chausey english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallSo the sun and I said goodbye and I ran on back to the apartment.

An early night tonight, I hope, and then a decent sleep with no alarm.

where shall I go tonight? And, more importantly, who shall be coming with me? And even more importantly after last night’s antics, how many times will I be going there?

And I have to be on form tomorrow too, because I’m having visitors late in the morning. I told them to ring me before they set out because we’ve seen some silly times of leaving the bed when there’s been no alarm.

And some when we have had an alarm too. We can do without any of that

Wednesday 5th February 2020 – WHAT A HORRIBLE …

… day I’ve had today. It’s been easily the worst day that I have had for quite some considerable time.

Most of the afternoon was spent curled up on the office chair with me valiantly resisting all temptation to go back to bed. I felt dreadful and it totally ruined my day with everything that I had to do.

Mind you, I’m not blaming anyone but myself for this. I was still up and about working at 02:30 and no matter how heroic I might feel, I’m not ever going to be at my best after just 3.5 hours sleep.

Yes, 3.5 hours because despite the late hour of going to bed, I still beat the third alarm call to get to my feet.

The only consolation that I can offer myself is that I really was working until that late hour so it’s not as if I actually failed to accomplish anything.

After the medication I began to cut up a couple of digital tracks. But that took me much longer than it ought too because the track running order on the digital track was completely different from the running order that I had in my notes and because I didn’t really recognise the album all that well, I couldn’t do it by recognition.

Another thing that I accomplished was that all of the odd “singles” tracks that I’ve accumulated, they are filed into a folder all of their own and out of the way

There’s also a spare hard drive in this big computer so I did a mammoth back-up of absolutely everything onto it from one or two of the external drives. My plan is to go through it, tidy it up and then use it as a copy base for the other laptops that are loitering around here.

There was a break for breakfast of course, and I found that I’d run out of muesli so I had to make some more. And supplies are pretty low – I’ll have to do something about that tomorrow.

Once those issues were resolved I selected some more music to finish off the choice (except the last track of course) for the final one of the three projects that I have on the go right now. And then to clean up because I’d made something of a mess on the floor that needed vacuuming, and I’ll wash the floor before I go to bed

new footbridge 28 boulevard des terreneuviers granville manche normandy france eric hallAll of this took me up almost to lunchtime so I had to head out to La Mie Caline for my bread.

There was no-one around in the boulevard des Terreneuviers so i went to see what they had been doing with the crane the other day. Apparently there’s an apartment here on a building in the rue du Port but access is by a footbridge from the boulevard here.

What they had been doing was taking the old footbridge away, and it looks as if they are going to be installing a new one.

In the meantime, how does the inhabitant reach his apartment?

fishing boats crabs bulots port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallMeanwhile, the tide was still out so I could walk round by the fish-processing plant and across the footpath across the top of the harbour gates.

Any my luck was in today because I arrived here at the same time that the fishing boats did. There were a few of them here unloading so I had a crafty look over the side to see what they had. This one here had dozens of boxes full of crabs

Obviously they must have had a very good day out at sea today.

bulots port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallAs for the others, I didn’t recognise what was in the boxes. A seashell-type of creature … “crustaceans” – ed … that was a spiral of some sort.

As I know nothing about this kind of thing, I enquired of one of the fork-lift truck drivers. He told me that they were bulots, and I’ll have to take his word for that.

The only thing is that I hope that everyone shares their catch out with their friends. After all, you mustn’t be selfish with your shellfish.

pontoon fixings rue du port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that yesterday we talked to the guy from the company working in the port who told me that they were installing a new pontoon.

As you can see, they are making rapid advances in this respect because some of the anchoring mounts have now been installed, and they certainly weren’t in position at this time yesterday but lying on the ground where the old railway track was.

This is turning into something quite exciting. I wonder what they will be doing tomorrow when I go past.

digging trench for cable port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallAt La Mie Caline I picked up my dejeunette and headed back to the apartment.

It was now later than usual and the workmen were now back at it after their lunch break. Over on the other side of the port I’d been past another place where they had been digging another trench.

In my opinion it looks as if they are putting in more electric wiring so things are hotting up now in the port. The mayor’s “modernisation” project might actually be coming to fruition.

crane rue du port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallWe saw them earlier having installed the mounting brackets for the pontoon that they will be installing.

If you look back up the page, you’ll see that I was wondering what it will look like tomorrow and I’m even more intrigued to find out now because there’s a huge crane that has miraculously appeared down there now and he won’t be there for nothing.

Back at the apartment it was lunchtime. And I’d forgotten to take some hummus out of the freezer. However, I do have some lovely vegan smoked cheese that needed eating so I used that instead.

The apple purée that I made the other day has almost run out (I told you that there was too much liquid in it) so I made another batch only this time instead of pears I used a couple of bananas.

With having used much less water, that’s come out really well and I can’t wait to try it tomorrow for breakfast.

trawler english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallAfter the purée I made a start on writing up the notes for the first project but had a break while I went for my afternoon walk.

The first thing that I noticed was that there were still a pile of fishing boats out to sea and heading back to the harbour. I suppose that the tide will be going out so they want to come in to port while there’s still time to get to the unloading quay.

So they will need to get a move on because the tide won’t be staying in for long.

crane rue du port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallThe second thing that I noticed was that the large crane had lowered his jib. It looked as if he is ready to move away.

And so I’ll be definitely down there tomorrow to see what he was doing.

For a change I took my walk around the walls this afternoon. At times there was no-one around so I managed about one and a half of my runs today.

As I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … I have to press on with my fitness even though I don’t feel much like it.

And it was an extended walk too. I’m trying to push it up to 100% every day to keep the pressure on.

And then back at the apartment after my walk I had all of the issues that I mentioned at the start. Mind you, I did manage to pull myself together long enough to finish the notes that I’d started, although I’m not quite sure what gibberish they might be.

Tea was pasta and veg with the left-over stuffing and kidney beans, with the left-over mushrooms added in. And even though I say it myself, it was pretty delicious. One of the better meals that I’ve cooked, especially when followed down by rice pudding. I am eating well these days.

And while that was cooking I had a go at tidying up all of my plastic storage containers, of which I have more than enough

The walk was around the headland tonight. Nothing whatever going on anywhere, but I managed my run. So 2.5 runs today and i’m good with that.

This evening I was going to dictate my notes but instead, as I’m not feeling up to much I’m going to bed. I might have 7 hours sleep tonight and that will be a bonus the way I’ve been going just recently.

Friday 13th December 2019 – THE GOOD NEWS …

… is that my blood count has gone up yet again. It’s now at 9.2 which is pretty astonishing as far as I am concerned. And I made a point to ask exactly what treatment they are giving me for my illness and the answer is “nothing”. The tablets that I take are to counter various side effects and the medication is to boost up my immune system.

But as for the illness, absolutely nothing.

Mind you, it’s pretty disconcerting to see that your doctor needs medical treatment herself. She had problems with her foot. But nevertheless, she can come and soothe my fevered brow any time she likes. This is a University hospital and all of the staff at this level are young University students. There has to be some benefit of my illness and I intend to make the most of it.

But as for bad news, then there’s plenty of that.

Firstly, my train out of Paris has been cancelled on Sunday due to the strike. It’s not the end of the world though because there are other solutions, amongst which “hiring a car” should never be ruled out. But there are options other than that to consider first.

Even so, hiring a car might sound expensive to some, but when you think about the price of a hotel in Paris, it’s not an outrageous proposition at all.

And that’s not all. You’ve all heard about the results of the Uk General Election where 14 million people voted for the Fascists and only 6.5 million voted to revoke the exit from the EU.

That in itself isn’t so important. But what IS important is that I now lose

  • Some of my UK pension rights
  • my health insurance rights
  • my employment rights
  • my rights of free movement and residence in the EU

And when one of my (ex) friends in the UK posted something bewailing her lot and I replied telling her to make the most of what she’ll be getting because I’ll be getting much worse than that, she called me all kinds of names (honestly!) and accused me of all kinds of things for not sympathising with her, even though she didn’t spend a single moment thinking about my lot.

But that’s the true spirit of the British people. Mean, narrow-minded, selfish, self-centred. I’m better off without these people dragging me down. And isn’t that just why I abandoned everyone in the UK in the first place? It can’t be a coincidence that they all end up like that. They all show their true colours eventually.

It’s definitely Friday 13th today!

Last night I wanted an early night so I tried the usual standby – switch on the laptop to watch a film. And sure enough, it works every time. Within 10 minutes I was away.

And right away too. There are a few files on the dictaphone that weren’t there when I went to bed, so it should be interesting to see those when I make it back home.

The alarms went off as usual at 06:00 etc but seeing as my appointment at Castle Anthrax wasn’t until this afternoon I was in no rush to rouse myself. A little lie-in did me good and it was 07:30 when I finally showed a leg.

This morning was spent firstly dealing with last night’s little perambulations.

I vaguely remember something about ships and fuel tankers having to reposition themselves and so on. Some captain had to reposition his ship but he hadn’t brought his money with him so it was rather pointless. i’d ended up at my electronic studio and I was trying to work on something. I managed to produce a really really good electronic music track and while I was at it I produced some vocals and overdubbed them over a piece of music that someone else had written and they were really really good. A few people came round to my house to do something with the computer so I had these tracks playing in the background and they looked really impressed. Although after a few minutes they asked “are we going to get on with some work or are we going to listen to this all day?” and I thought that maybe I had played a little too much and that was a shame because I was so impressed with what I’d done.
Sometime later we were back with the songs again and someone was going to bring some music over and we were going to do all of the singing. It meant getting out of this crowded tram. Someone was fighting their way to the door but the doors closed and there was a cry of “jam the door”. Someone stuck their foot in it so that it wouldn’t close, and it rebounded open. This person had to fight their way out through the crowds and out of the door. We ended up talking about fishing again and the situation of the British having sold all their permits and are now getting upset because the permits that they sold are now making money and the ones that they still have aren’t, and as usual.

Then we had the issue of dealing with the egocentric and selfish Brits in the UK but I did tear myself away to go to the Delhaize for shopping. Pasta, burgers and frozen veg will be on the menu or the next few days.

Back here, I had a shower and a clothes wash, made my butties and then headed for the hospital, calling at the Delhaize in town on the way because I had forgotten the vegan cheese and vegan mayonnaise.

sint pieters hospital  leuven louvain belgium december 2019Pouring down with rain now but I pushed on regardless.

My route today took me, as usual, down the Brusselsestraat and past St Pieter’s Hospital. An early and significant casualty of the linguistic war, this huge modern hospital was constructed to serve the French community, apparently (so I was told) who, once it was built, created a new town called Louvain-le-Neuve and moved all of their infrastructure out there instead.

The memory that I will always retain of this place as they make a serious start on demolishing it is that there were still the makers’ labels on the double-glazed windows on some of the floors because the rooms on those floors had never even been occupied.

By the time that I reached the hospital I was looking something like a drowned rat. 13:30 was my appointment but I was treated at 13:45 and then I was sat in a chair for a while as the medication was pumped into me.

Rosemary rang and we had a good chat while it was all going on, and eventually I was thrown out. A call at the pharmacy for medication and then down into town.

december hole in the ground parking sint jacob leuven louvain belgium Last time that we were here they were excavating a giant hole in the middle of the car park on the Jacobsplein, and I was interested to see how they were getting on and, more importantly, what they were going to be doign with it.

So here I am, and all that I can say is that in the last 4 weeks or so there hasn’t been very much change in the situation. The hole is still there and there doesn’t seem to be anythign to indicate why they have actually gone and dug it out.

It’s probably one of those things where time wil ltell and I should come back in four weeks time where I shall be equally confounded.

december christmas lights vismarkt leuven louvain belgium A visit to the Origin’O Health Food shop was also on the cards The Delhaize doesn’t sell all the vegan product that I need.

Before I went in though, I took the opportunity to take a photo of the Christmas lights in the Vismarkt. You can do quite a lot with modern LED lighting and this looked particularly good to me.

That was the cue to go into the shop and see what was on offer. They had some of that nice smoked vegan cheese that I had before so I bought some more of that, as well as some more grated cheese for the pizzas and the cheese sauces.

december christmas lights bondgenotenlaan leuven louvain belgium Though the rainstorm had died down by now, it was still wet and miserable going back to my little room.

For that reason, and also for the fact that I had the little Nikon 1 with me and not the big D500 with me, I didn’t hang around too long looking at Leuven’s Christmas lights, beautiful as they might be like these ones in the Bondgenotenlaan.

What I’ll have to do is that if it’s not raining tomorrow evening, I’ll bring the big Nikon out for a walk and go on a prowl around the city to see what I can see.

By the time that I arrived back at my room it wasn’t far off tea time so I made myself some food. And it wasn’t too bad either. It’ll keep the wolf from the door for a while.

There was football on the internet later. While Connah’s Quay Nomads were being turned over by Cefn Druids, we were being treated to Barry Town v TNS.

And it was easy to see why TNS have been Champions of the Welsh Premier League for the last couple of hundred years. Barry Town had been leading the league at one point this season but TNS dealt with them in summary fashion, winning 4-1 away from home without even breaking sweat.

First to the ball on almost every occasion they never looked in trouble at all and had Ratcliffe in the Barry goal not played a blinder, TNS could easily have doubled their tally.

As far as I’m concerned, they may as well give the title to TNS right now because no-one is ever going to stop them. They could even afford the luxury of leaving Greg Draper their leading scorer on the bench until about the 80th minute.

On that note, I’m off to bed. I’ve had enough for now. Nothing planned for tomorrow except to recover from today so if the weather has improved I’ll just go for a long walk.

See you tomorrow.

Incidentally, I did take some photos of the Christmas lights of the city. Too many to put on this page so if you want to see them you need to go to this page

Friday 15th November 2019 – I DON’T CARE …

hobbit knackers origin o Craenendonck Leuven Belgium… whether they are vegan or not, you won’t catch me ever eating any Hobbit Knackers.

Yes, I’ve been to the Health Food shop today. I’ve abandoned the Loving Hut for the Origin’O because not only does the latter have a better choice of vegan products, it’s cheaper too.

And so I’ve stocked up with vegan cheese today – the sliced kind as well as the grated variety – seeing that I’ve run out back at home.

vismarkt leuven belgiumThe Origin’O is situated in a small street – the craenendonck – which leads off a little square called the Vismarkt – the Fish market.

That probably at one time was a beautiful little square before the developers laid their hands upon it because part of it has been modernised out of all recognition.

Some of it however does retain some of its original character even if it might be looking a little tired these days. It does however still have quite a bit of charm about it.

mechelsestraat leuven belgiumThe streets that lead to the Vismarkt from the centre of the city make up part of the most beautiful area of the place. Narrow little pedestrianised streets lined by quaint old buildings which somehow seem to have survived the Rape of Leuven in August 1914.

Every now and again I’ve been posting photographs of the area as more and more things down there catch my eye, and so I can’t understand why it is that this building here in the Mechelsestraat has escaped my gaze until now.

It even has the date – 1691 – set into the walls of the building which makes it all even more impressive.

It’s built in the typical elaborate Flemish “Golden Age” style from the period when the Spanish Empire (which ruled the United Netherlands at that time) was in its apogee. And I would like to come back to this planet in 300 years time to see what buildings of our current epoch are still standing and still looking as beautiful as this one.

Another place that I visited today was “Exotic World” – the shop on the corner of the Brusselsestraat near to where I stayed when I lived here. That place is full of exotic herbs and spices so I bought some peppercorns, some fenugreek and some fennel seeds. I’m determined to spics up my cooking when I return home and this will do the stuff.

Last night after all of my exertions I was in bed quite early. Plenty of time to go on a few travels

And I can’t have been in bed more than 2 minutes before I was off to sleep and immediately (and the timestamp bears this out) off on a ramble where I was doing something like someone had died and there were four men who had inherited the money or who were inheriting. There were four individual sums, already calculated and divided so that they would have one each, and then a lump sum that needed to be calculated and divided between them. I had to pass a paper round to get them to sign it which they did. And then we started to talk about a few things like the division of the money. And at that point I suddenly woke up.
However at some time prior to that I was making a meal. It was deep fried wedge potatoes and onions in soya cream with all different kinds of things and plenty of carrots, whatever. I had to do it in two batches because there were two different groups of people. The first batch came out which was either for three or four people but it didn’t look enough so I was taking vegetables out of the second batch to put in it. I remember saying that while this doesn’t seem to be enough for them all they can always go back into the kitchen and get some more out of the other batch for the other people and hope that there will be enough to go round for them.
And it sounded so delicious with some black pepper that I’ll be making some when I return
And later there was something about going to a pub, a group of us. This pub used to organise a tournament against its groups of visitors and had actually made it through to the semi-finals of the competition. There was something about a shipment of liquor that was being sent somewhere. While I was in the airport I heard a call over the tannoy “Mr so-and-so, this is just to let you know that your shipment number so-and-so has been taken away by Customs to examine it and see what it was to make sure that it conformed to the waybill”
And later on still I was doing something with someone from the internet. I’m not sure why but I ended up with him at his house showing him my Audacity program and all of this, how everything worked and how you could record and crop tracks to make sound bytes all this kind of thing. He was quite impressed. When he went, my mother said ‘he’s a nice boy”. “Yes” I said, and I said that he lived on Alton Street but of course where I meant to say was on the Sunnybank Estate although it isn’t the Sunnybank Estate at all but on the one round the back of the park – Wistaston Green Estate.

When the alarms went off I was quickly out of bed and I’d soon medicated and breakfasted. Next stop was a shower and a clothes wash, and to my dismay I noticed that the drainage was blocked and the water wouldn’t evacuate. I made a note for the administration.

market place herbert hooverplein leuven belgiumBy now it was time to leave the place for the hospital at Castle Anthrax.

Off into the cold and dark morning, down the street into town and past the early morning market on the Herbert Hooverplein.

Not much going on there right now because it’s too early, but there will be much more activity there a little later when everyone else starts to emerge from their houses.

demolition st pieter hospital leuven belgiumRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that I stayed for a while at the St Pieter Annexe of the hospital. But no-one will be staying there now.

Because of a change of policy involving the Francophone community, the hospital was never ever used to anything like full capacity. And with the decision to regroup all of the services at the Gasthuisberg, it’s been practically empty for the past few years.

But there’s been a proposal to redevelop the site and build something more useful, and now the demolition crew has moved in.

excavation parking st jacobsplein leuven belgiumMy route across town took me past the St Jacobsplein car park at the back of the church just there.

And that seems to be the subject of a great deal of work right now. I’ve no idea what it is that they are intending to do there but they have dug a great big hole in the place.

It’s probably one of those things that I’m going to have to investigate in due course as the months and the work unfold.

rebuilding apartment block Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan Leuven BelgiumAnother piece of work that we have been following is the apartment on the corner of the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan and the Tervuursestraat.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that earlier in the year we noticed that the building had been emptied, and then we watched it being gutted over a couple of months.

Now, they seem to have made good progress in rebuilding it and I don’t imagine that it will be too long before it’s ready for reoccupation.

My appointment at the hospital was for 09:30 and I was there well in advance.

With no identity card I made myself known to the reception staff and was quickly signed in by a receptionist with whom I had a delightful trilingual conversation.

And I do have to say it – it’s now about 4 times in a couple of days that I’ve been able to identify myself with my new carte de sejour. I do know of people who are intending not to apply for one, and they are going to find things extremely difficult as time evolves.

09:30 was my appointment and by that time I was already being tended to by a nurse called Laura. And she can soothe my fevered brow any day of the week.

This new treatment is extremely rapid and by 11:45 it was all done and I was ready for home. I’d seen the doctor and had my run-down of the last medical visit.

He asked me if I knew that I didn’t have a spleen. I replied that I did because I knew that I had nothing to vent when people (like those on The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour) got my goat.

There are a few gallstones too and a little thing with the liver and kidneys but apart from that, there’s no problem. The blood count has improved slightly yet again – to 9.0 but I still can’t do anything about having more of a gap between appointments.

At the pharmacy I picked up enough medication to last a year and then headed back via the Spar supermarket where a small demi-baguette was bought to go with my vegan cheese for lunch.

With plenty of time to spare, I did some more website amending and dictaphone transcribing, as well as having a little … errr … relax, the first one for quite a while.

Later on in the evening I went back out again and met Alison. We ended up once more in Green Way, the vegan restaurant, where my taco rolls were excellent, although not like mine at all

A chat in Kloosters, the hotel bar where we had a coffee and a good warm by the fire, and Alison brought me back to my little room here.

But now I’m exhausted, and it’s no surprise why, because I’ve done almost 150% of my (increased) daily activity. And even I’m impressed with this.

However over the past month I’ve only lost 100 grams in weight. That’s no good at all with this new improved fitness regime. I need to be losing much more than this.

At 100 grams per month, I’m going to be around for ever.

Wednesday 23rd October 2019 – I’VE BEEN …

… a very busy boy today and no mistake!

And that’s hardly a surprise seeing how I leapt out of bed at something like the right kind of time this morning too. I reckon that there wasn’t anyone as surprised as me.

As a result we had an early breakfast and then I was able to start work.

First thing that I did was to attack yet more of the updating of the site, but I came to a shuddering halt when I received a reply to a communication that I had sent out earlier.

And as a result of that, you might notice a slight change in the functionality of the websites, because I’ve now changed server. Both my sites are now running on a pair of quicker more streamlined servers and that should improve things around here quite substantially.

However, this led to a puzzled bewilderment as to why some of the functions of my site weren’t working on the new Secured *https* Site.

It’s really my first foray into the realm of secured sites so it had me stumped for a while. So I left it and went for a walk instead.

Down into town for a pizza base, a baguette (on special offer), some potatoes and some quinoa and red lentils, seeing as to my surprise, the Carrefour supermarket is now selling them loose on a self-weigh thingy.

Just as I was about to reach home, Rosemary rang me up, so we had a chat for an hour or so about this and that.

This meant a late lunch, which I took indoors seeing as it was grey and miserable outside today.

So grey and miserable in fact that I’ve turned on the heating today. First of the winter, that is. And it’s no surprise.

This afternoon, I did some research and found out why some of the functions weren’t working on an *https* site.

These are facilities that rely on a coding function called *iframes* where you can put a “hole” in your website, filled in with a piece of code that enables a third party such as an advertiser to insert his own text into the *hole*.

The whole idea of secured sites is inter alia that no-one outside can have a free ride on your website, so the *iframes* function is disabled.

As a result I’ve had to dredge up what I can vaguely remember from working in Javascript 12 years ago, and I was surprised how much I can remember.

So firstly, you’ll notice a little “contact me” button in yellow in the bottom right corner of your screen. If you want to report a coding issue with the site, a broken link or else merely say “hello”, click o the button and you’ll see a message box pop up.

And much to my surprise, it even works too!

From then on, I’ve redesigned the sidebar on the secured http://www.erichall.eu website. If you compare the left-hand sidebar on, say, THIS PAGE with the left-hand sidebar on, say THIS ONE, you should notice something of a difference.

Now I’m slowly working up from the bottom of the list, and that’s going to take me an age, I’ll promise you that.

Extracting more files off the new travel laptop was another project that needed doing. Piles of them, there were, including all of the music that I had downloaded. That’s going to need converting to *.mp3 format one of these days too, although I’m not quite sure when.

In between all of that, I’ve had a few extended sessions on the guitars. I’m now working on 7 songs on the acoustic guitar right now and that will keep me going for a while.

As well as that, I’ve had my two afternoon walks and made my tea – a delicious pizza and ohh me miseram“well, puer amat mensam!” – ed … I’m running out of vegan cheese. It’s not that I forgot to buy any in Leuven, it’s just that I didn’t have the means to carry it.

So now I’m off to bed. And I reckon that I deserve it too. I’ve had a long, hard day today as you can tell and tomorrow, I’ll be having a good long walk out to LIDL and all points east.

I’d better hurry up with my beauty sleep.

Monday 30th September 2019 – IT’S BEEN …

… a pretty rough day for me today.

What didn’t help matters was that I couldn’t sleep last night. 01:30 and I was still struggling away trying my best to drop off.

At some point I must have done, I suppose, because the alarm awoke me at 06:00. Just in time to catch the vestige of a nocturnal voyage disappearing out of my head, so I grabbed the dictaphone and dictated it before I forgot. The only one from last night, apparently.

For a change, I remembered the medication and then I grabbed a quick breakfast so that I could take the kids to school. And then down to Hartland to take Hannah the lunch pail that she had forgotten.

Back at the tyre depot there wasn’t a great deal to do today. In fact, I just mauled around a few sacks of feed when customers came a-calling. My new gearchange cable is a Ford main agent part and won’t be in Woodstock until early tomorrow morning.

At lunch-time I went off to buy a sandwich from the Irving garage by the Trans-Canada Highway and then went back to the garage. Where I fell asleep not once but twice.

That was the cue for Rachel to send me home as I was clearly in no fit state to do anything.

Once I’d regained my second wind I made a start on adding the blog entries for the second leg of my voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. To see how far I’ve advanced, you can go to THIS LINK and work your way forward.

There were just Hannah, our visitor and me here for evening meal so I made thin-fried potatoes with carrots, onions, garlic and chili with herbs, and vegan burgers on baps with cheese. And it was all so delicious, especially when followed by one of my chocolate soya desserts left over from Montreal.

Talking of Montreal, I have (rather regrettably) booked my bus back to Montreal, Much as I dislike the idea, I suppose that I ought to think about going home some time soon.

As well as the bus, I booked a room in Montreal for the night that I’ll be staying there before I fly out. I saw the ideal place – and for $20 CAN too. A bed in an 8-bed dormitory in a hostel for women. But they wouldn’t let me reserve the place.

Instead, I’ve booked a room at one of my previous haunts in the rue St Hubert at the back of the bus station, seeing as there was a place on special offer. But then I remembered that that’s the place that doesn’t offer breakfast, by which time it was far too late.

So that’s that. My route from here as far as Brussels is now arranged, for better or for worse. And I’m going to be having a hard time leaving, I reckon. One thing that I’ve always been wary about is putting down roots, especially in places where it’s clearly impractical, if not impossible.

And emotional attachments are the worst of them all.

But onwards and upwards, hey?

Tuesday 2nd October 2018 – AND SO BACK AT CASTLE ANTHRAX …

… and start as you mean to go on.
Our Hero – “I seem to be half an hour early today”
Ann the Receptionist – “no you aren’t. You’re several weeks late!”

As might be expected after all of my sleep yesterday, I found myself wide-awake at 03:15 this morning. And by 03:40 I had given it up as a bad job and was sitting on the bed working.

That had still given me plenty of time to go off on a nocturnal ramble. Back on The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour and back in the High Arctic again, only this time in the company of a couple of my spurious characters and it’s not very often indeed that they ever see the light of … errr … well, you know what I mean. Yes, two people, who shall be known as, say the QC PQ and C, for want of any other name, were out there last night on a voyage and not necessarily doing what they do best either. All in all, it was something of a cosy voyage being out there retracing many of the steps that were traced a couple of weeks ago and in interesting company too.

Yes, I’m feeling all broody again, aren’t I?

I’m not sure whether it’s nostalgia for the voyage, a desire to return to the High Arctic (which is by far and away the most splendid place on earth), an unwillingness to go home or trepidation about my appointment with destiny at Castle Anthrax later this morning tha has got me going like this.

Or maybe I’m just lonely. Mustn’t rule that out either. But as they say in France, it’s better to travel alone than be badly-accompanied. And I wouldn’t have done half of the things that I have done had I had anyone else to think about too.

While there’s a kettle in the hotel room, there isn’t any coffee. And so those little tubes of coffee that I keep in my backpack for emergencies came in very handy here. That was a handy bit of inspiration, that was and no mistake.

It was also a very good job that I was up and about early too, for I would never have been able to sleep through the racket that my neighbour made after he awoke at 04:20.

A shower at 07:00 and a general organisation of myself, and then off to catch the train. Not forgetting that I needed to have my rail ticket for tomorrow printed out. The receptionist here duly obliged.

At the Carrefour in the Gare du Midi I picked up some raisin bread for breakfast and then as there was a Leuven train already in the station I leapt aboard.

And then my leisurely walk to my appointment with doom.

As well as the interaction with the receptionist, I had an interaction with a young nurse.
“Your heartbeat is very fast today” she remarked.
“You lean over me one more time like that” I muttered to myself “and it will beat even faster”.

She had her revenge. She was very rough with the catheter tube.

As a punishment for missing an appointment they kept me waiting for a while before they hooked me up. And once I was hooked up I went off. Out like a light – well, as far as possible as it is to go with people buzzing around me.

And despite what you might think, after all of the good food that I have eaten on my travels, I have LOST 3kgs in weight. I shall have to go back to the Arctic, won’t I?

world war 1 notices leuven belgiumFrom the railway station I trudged my weary way across town towards the hospital.

And ground to a splendid halt in the Grote Markt bu=y the big cathedral.

It’s soon going to be the centenary of the Armistice, and there was a display of notices to the population from the First World War.

world war 1 notices leuven belgiumLeuven was occupied by the Germans in late August 1914 and was a major victim of the German policy of “Frightfulness”.

The town was sacked and then set ablaze. The huge Medieval library and all of its contents dating back to the 6th Century were burnt to ashes.

The population lived under a most repressive Martial Law. Hostages were taken and were shot for the slightest “provocation” by the civilian population.

It was a nightmare time for those who lived here.

At the hospital, they did their tests and gave me the news. As expected, the blood count is down and the protein loss is up. And for the first time, a doctor has admitted that they are concerned about my lack of response to the treatment.

So back in 4 weeks by which time they might have come up with A Cunning Plan.

On the way back I called at Delhaize for some fruit and tomatoes for lunch tomorrow, and then The Loving Hut for more vegan cheese and sausages (and where I was recognised by the cashier). Finally Kruidvat for some gelatine-free sweets.

sncb class 18 locomotive gare de leuven belgiumback at the Leuven railway station, and I didn’t have to wait long for a train back.

It’s one of the Class 18 electric locomotives and is probably about 8 years old, although it doesn’t look it.

She brought me to the Gare Centrale for 18:10. I’d arranged a meal with Alison at The Moon but she was delayed as there was no bus. They are all on strike.

But she arrived soon enough and we had a beautiful vegan and gluten-free meal. And I took the opportunity to discuss with her an incident that had happened to me several weeks ago and had left me feeling totally puzzled. And I wanted a woman’s point of view.

Much to my surprise (because things don’t usually happen like this) she immediately saw my point of view without me even having to prompt her. I was convinced at the time that I had been correct in my understanding, and Alison’s opinion was that, if anything, I had been far more restrained that she would have expected in a similar circumstance.

So I dunno.

tintin rue du midi brussels belgiumWe had a coffee and I showed her my prize photo, and then she took the train back out of town to the railway station near to where she works. During the bus strike, the train is the best solution.

I walked home past the big Tintin mural and had a strange encounter with three guys in the street. I know what they were after but they weren’t quick enough.

Back here I had a chat with Liz on line, and then with Alison who by now had made it safely home. A little crash out and now I’m off to bed.

We had a coffee and I showed her my prize photo, and then she took the train back out of town to the railway station near to where she works. During the bus strike, the train is the best solution.

I walked home and had a strange encounter with three guys in the street. I know what they were after but they weren’t quick enough.

Back here I had a chat with Liz on line, and then with Alison who by now had made it safely home. A little crash out and now I’m off to bed.

It’s been a long day and tomorrow I’m heading home.

I wonder what I’ll find back there.