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Friday 15th October 2021 – JUST FOR A CHANGE …

… I actually had a reasonable night’s sleep last night and I can’t say how much I appreciated it.

The night was reasonably early for a change and despite waking up once or twice during the night I slept right the way through to 09:50. And having left the heating on during the night, for once, the place was warm.

And despite everything, there was plenty of activity during that night that I didn’t realise. I must have travelled miles.

I was at a football match. Crewe Alexandra had drawn some team really exotic in the cup so I went there with Xavier. When we went to find a place to park we were right up to the gates and Xavier said that we were with the radio and let us in. We had to fight our way through the crowds to enter the stadium and I was trying to interview people from the away side and so on to find out their story but he wasn’t interested at all at interviewing anyone. he just wanted to watch the game and listen to the music but I thought for the radio that the people there were much more important than the game.

Later on I was watching another game of football last night – TNS v someone else. One of the players passed the ball back to the left-back of TNS but he wasn’t looking at the game. He had his back to it. The ball went out for a throw-in. There was a whole series of throw-ins and corners from that incident into the TNS penalty area. I was intrigued. There was bound to be a goal scored from this but for some unknown reason I switched the computer off. I then realised that there was something I hadn’t done so then I had to switch it back on again. Of course I missed the crucial moment of that game.

Later still I’d been seconded to the Customs and Excise and was going through the suitcases that had arrived on an aeroplane. I picked one out at random and it turned out to be Dominic Raab’s. he came wading over saying “you can’t do this to me. I’m a Government Minister and I shall report you” so I took out my notebook and asked him to repeat those words while I wrote them down. Then I went through his suitcase and found a dozen bottles of wine, everything. He was forced to stand there and try to sell them as passers-by to take through Customs. later on I went into the restaurant. It was someone’s birthday. I looked at all the food that had been laid out by the caterers. There was nothing there that I could eat. I went to find the kitchen supervisor. I asked the Security Guard where she was and he took me back into the meeting to speak to someone else. I said “this isn’t what I wanted. I wanted the kitchen supervisor”. The kitchen supervisor came with someone else who said “I know him. He’s been complaining about this for ages, telling me about this disease that he has and I know that he’s talking nonsense because I know someone else who has it and they don’t have to deprive themselves of anything like he says he has to” so the two of them just walked away and left me sitting there. In the end I was fed up of waiting for some developments so I walked off as well thinking about what my next step would be. All these people suddenly turned up on bicycles, hordes of them. Some were on tandems and some on these things that you sea in Blackpool where you can put 12 onto a bike, something like that.

After the medication I sat down and chose the music for the next batch of radio programmes and by the time that I’d finished later on in the afternoon I’d actually chosen the music for 5 programmes.

This included a pause for breakfast and a pause for lunch as well as a couple of coffee pauses.

Some of the stuff was quite complicated to do because I have several discs of all kinds of assorted music, several tracks that I wanted to use in order to break up the run of groups, and so I had to track down the songs, who recorded them and on which album they appear.

building work tiensestraat leuven belgium Eric Hall photo October 2021This afternoon I went for a good walk around the city centre to stretch my legs and to see what else was going on around the town that I had missed yesterday.

In the Tiensestraat there are several sites currently being redeveloped. On a couple of them there has been no activity since we last looked but at this one next the the chemist’s that I sometimes use, they are pressing on.

They have now added the cladding to the concrete front of the building – some white bricks or tiles which while not in keeping with the rest of the street are not as bad as they might otherwise have been.

herbert hooverplein leuven belgium Eric Hall photo October 2021Down the road in the Herbert Hooverplein they are slowly preparing for winter.

There’s usually a street market here but I’m later than usual going for my walk so they have all cleared off and gone home, leaving me all alone.

The fountain is switched off and the outside tables and chairs from the cafes have been taken back inside to hibernate until next Spring.

But what caught my eye was the spiral tree in the background just left of centre. If must have taken them a while to train that.

festival of the big bang university library monseigneur ladeuzeplein leuven belgium Eric Hall photo October 2021It looks as if we are going to be having another festival pretty soon.

All over town there are signs and advertising publicity like this large balloon outside the University Library advertising “The Town’s Festival Of The Big Bang”, and I’ve no idea what that might be because I’ve yet to discover a description.

All that I do know is that if it goes on for as long as they say, it won’t be much of a festival so I don’t imagine that i’ll be missing all that much.

installing decorations bondgenotenlaan leuven belgium Eric Hall photo October 2021Further on down the Koning Leopold 1 Straat and the Bondgenotenlaan, there’s yet more excitement.

They have a cherry-picker just here and they seem to be installing all kinds of decorations, like the skeletons for example. They must be preparing for Halloween because it’s far too early to be thinking about Christmas decorations.

But then again, I probably give some thought to Christmas decorations usually round about Christmas Eve. In fact, thinking on, I haven’t taken them down from last year yet.

building work bondgenotenlaan leuven belgium Eric Hall photo October 2021In the Bondgenotenlaan there’s some building work going on.

The brick building in the centre of the image has had all of its rear swept away – there’s only the facade still standing and that’s propped up with a big yellow steel framework.

That’s quite a common way of working in Belgium. It keeps the character of the street and of course, no-one can see what’s happening behind the facade.

There was quite a scandal about this in Brussels about 25 years ago. They slapped a preservation order on a building because of a magnificent spiral marble staircase but the developers simply kept the facade and swept away everything else.

Incidentally, that’s a common misconception with the Whitrope Tunnel on the old Waverley Line near Hawick in Scotland. Everyone in the area will tell you that it has a preservation order slapped on it, but the preservation order only applies to the facades or portals.

building work diestsestraat leuven belgium Eric Hall photo October 2021There’s more rebuilding work going on in the Diestsestraat as well.

last time that we were here we saw them making a start on a vacant site and over the past few weeks they seem to have pushed on quite rapidly with the job – not something to which I’m accustomed in Belgium.

This is the street where all of the cheaper shops might be found but there wasn’t anything in there today that interested me. I was looking for a plunger-operated coffee percolator but I was out of luck.

Well, I wasn’t, but I’m not going to pay €39:99 for one.

One of the things that I did was to buy a new rucksack. The big one that I have is starting to fall apart after all of the rough handling that it’s had for the last four years and this one that I bought was on special offer at €50:00. It’s of a reputable make and has a capacity of 65 litres.

All in all, I managed 5.7 kilometres without stopping for a breather. I know that the town centre is comparatively level so walking around isn’t as difficult as it is in some places, but even so it’s an impressive achievement considering the way that I’ve been feeling just recently.

This evening I finished off the last of the veggie balls with pasta and vegetables, and since then I’ve made a start on packing my things ready to leave tomorrow. I have a train leaving Brussels at 08:43 so I need to be up at 06:00 and well on my way down the road by 07:00.

It’s going to be a long day tomorrow.

Friday 13th August 2021 – I WAS WRONG …

35ma pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall… about it being the little yellow autogyro that would cast its shadow upon me from the air this afternoon.

A couple of planes about which I had completely forgotten are the little ones that seem to carry a “special series” number that, to date I have been unable to trace except by the most fortunate of circumstances.

This one, 35MA, has overflown me on several occasions and I’m still none-the-wiser. I’m not even better-informed either and so I’m going to have to wait for a more suitable moment to make further enquiries.

unidentified aeroplane baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallHaving aeroplanes overfly me when I can’t identify their numbers is one thing. Having them overfly me without any number at all on display is somethign else completely.

This machine overflew me at (adjusted) 17:06 going straight up the coast from south to north and as she didn’t make any effort to turn off as if to land at the airfield here at Granville then I’ve no idea who she is.

It’s this kind of thing that gets on my wick. It’s a legal requirement for an aeroplane to display a registration number, but it ought to be a legal requirement to display it where people can see it.

f-gbai ROBIN DR 400-140B baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallWe had much more luck with this aeroplane because we’ve seen her on numerous occasions, and her number is clearly displayed.

She’s F-GBAI from the Granville Aero club, one of the Robin DR400s that they have. This one is the 140B models.

She took off from the airfield at 10:38 and flew off out to sea, and then flying up the Rance estuary beyond St Malo, doing a lap around Mont St Michel and coming home for 11:23

My photo was taken at (adjusted) 11:19 so that’s about right.

f-gbai ROBIN DR 400-140B baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd we were in luck later on too, because we saw her as she went out for a run around later.

This time she was picked up on radar at 17:05, which corresponds with my (adjusted) time of 17:03 when I saw her, and according to my flight radar plot, she’s still airborne even now.

She headed out to sea, did a lap around the ile de Chausey and for the rest of her time has been cruising up and down the coast as someone clocks up the flying hours. I’ll have to check tomorrow to see what time she finally did land.

Breezer B600 D-EQDK baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd here’s an aeroplane that we haven’t seen before.

At first glance I thought that she was an ME-262 fitted with a Junkers Jumo 210 engine as some of the earlier ones were, but in actual fact she’s a Breezer B600, registered D-EQDK and owned by the Aeroclub-Avranches.

She was first picked up on radar at 11:11 and must have done a few laps around before I picked her up at (adjusted) 11:22, and she disappeared off the radar near Avranches at 11:31

There are plenty of small airfields around here and on the basis of no other information I would imagine that they have their origins with the German Luftwaffe

Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner TC-LLA Turkish airlines baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallNow this is much more like it. It’s been a good while since the skies have been clear enough to pick up full-size jets in mid-flight.

No prizes for guessing what this is – its distinctive shape gives the game away straight away. It can only be a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

And according to my radar, only one Dreamliner in the air in this vicinity when I took this photo. And that’s a Type 9, TC-LLA, owned by Turkish Airlines.

She took off last night from Miami and is taking Turkish Airlines Flight THY78C to Istanbul where she’s expected to arrive at 12:31, 26 minutes late.

She passed over me at 39,000 feet at 544 knots ground speed on a bearing of 098.

la grande ancre port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallSo that was what I got wrong today. Why don’t we look at what I got right?

Like the fact that there’s much more activity in the morning at high tide than what I’ve been seeing on my afternoon walk, like La Grande Ancre heading out of port.

What exactly her rôle is, I haven’t quite worked out yet. One of the very first times that I encountered her, she had a tractor strapped to her deck and heading out to the Ile de Chausey. But most of the time she’s running here and there with fishing equipment like this morning.

sailing school baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallSomeone else having an early start today is one of the sailing schools.

Plenty of water in the bay of course, seeing as I’ve gone out round about high tide this morning, and so they are bringing out the little yachts to do a lap around, being towed out into open water.

There are quite a few other boats too, coming and going out there this morning, and even a couple of kayaks having a paddle around. It’s more-than-likely that there will be some fishermen too somewhere.

trawler le coelacanthe speedboat baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOn the subject of fishermen, here is one bunch of fishermen heading for home this morning after a night on the tiles.

It’s our old friend Le Coelacanthe , one of the larger trawlers to sail out of the port, and if she’s on her way home with her hold full of fish then her little sister Le Tiberiade can’t be all that far away somewhere because they keep quite close to each other more often than not.

And the people in that speedboat were in quite a devilish hurry too – with the feu dans les fesses as they say around here. I’ve no idea where she’s off to.

joly france baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallActually, it’s not Le Tiberiade that has come following Le Coelacanthe into the harbour, as it happens.

It’s one of the Joly France ferry boats that goes over to the Ile de Chausey and presumably she’s come back for a second load of passengers.

This boat is the one with the smaller upper deck superstructure and the rectangular windows in “portrait” format so that tells me that she’s the more modern of the two near-identical boats.

And having seen the older one and the very new Belle France yesterday, it means that we have all three running the service right now. Business must be booming.

marité baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallSomeone else who seems to be having a booming business these days as well is the sailing ship Marité.

We’ve seen her out and about for the last few days, usually out in the English Channel or the Baie de Granville but here she is today going for a lap around the Baie de Mont St Michel.

From what I can make out, she has quite a crowd of passengers on board, and I do sometimes wonder what would happen if they had an emergency and had to fit everyone in the little boat that she tows behind her.

But I suppose that there are always enough other boats loitering in the immediate vicinity everywhere she goes to deal with any issues.

yacht ile des rimains cancale brittany France Eric HallBut anyway, while I was out there, I noticed that the air was quite clear this morning and the view was really good.

A clear white sail right over underneath Cancale caught my eye so I took a photo of it. And when I enhanced it on returning home, I could see quite clearly the fort on the Ile de Rimains over there just offshore, to the left of centre.

When I was on board the Spirit of Conrad I took a few close-up photos of the fort and one of these days when I can, I’ll post them on line.

And on the right there’s a very good view of the church at Cancale – one of the best views that we have had from over here.

boats baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallIf you think that all of the action was taking place on the southern side of the headland this morning, you are mistaken. There’s plenty more going on out here on the north side too.

Most of these boats look to me as if they are fishing boats – I did say that there would probably be some fishermen out today. There were several groups of them, some inshore and others farther out in the bay.

But I bet that those just here don’t think all that much of what that rather fast craft just behind them is doing. That’s the kind of activity that will drive away all of the fish and it’s not as if they catch all that many to start with.

joly france la granvillaise ile de chausey baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd even more activity over towards the Ile de Chausey too this morning.

Apart from the dozens of smaller craft out there, bearing down upon us at a rather rapid rate of knots is one of the Ile de Chausey ferries and to my reckoning she is the older of the two Joly France boats likewise returning to this side of the bay.

Also over there, right up against the shore were some strange white objects and while I can’t see for sure what they are, they have the same shape as the sails on La Granvillaise

beach place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhile we’re here, we will of course have to have a look over the wall and see the beach to see what’s happening down there.

And as I expected, there isn’t any beach for anything to be happening upon right now. The tide is well and truly in, and that will account for all of the boats out there at sea.

Maybe I should come out here and look at what happens about 10 minutes before the harbour gates close. I imagine that there will be an almighty stampede for the harbour and the devil take the hindmost.

trans-shipping porte st jean Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallSo that was all of the water craft and aerial activity this morning.

Still afew other things going on that caught my attention this morning, like another lorry stranded at the Porte St Jean being unable to pass under the arch. That’s two now in two days.

No-one in attendance either so it looks as if the driver has gone off to seek further instructions. It’s really pleasant living in an environment like this, but it does have its drawbacks if you don’t happen to have a handcart handy.

mummy and baby seagull foyer des jeunes travailleurs Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd while we are at it, yesterday we saw mummy seagull taking baby seagull for its maiden voyage over the cliffs.

There’s another mother and offspring here this morning siting on the roof of the Foyer des Jeunes Travailleurs, the hostel for young people, and baby is not at all enthusiastic as you can tell by looking at the photo.

It’s squawking at its mother in the most plaintive of tones and mummy, like most exasperated mothers, is taking absolutely no notice whatsoever. I find a lot of pleasure in watching the interaction between the young and their parents, whatever the species.

But like most things, I’m getting way ahead of myself these days. Let’s start with waking up, which I did about 20 minutes before the alarm was due to go off.

There were details of a voyage going round and round my head, details that were so miserable that I couldn’t even say them, let alone dictate them and transcribe them.

It’s very rare, very rare indeed that I have a voyage quite like this. Some have been really gruesome and they haven’t been much of an issue although I’m sure that you wouldn’t want to read them, but this was just unhappy, miserable and depressing. I’m glad in a way that it happened during the night and not during the day.

After the medication I came in here to start work but it took me a good couple of hours drifting in and out of a kind of trance before I was able to get myself going and then shock! Horror! I tidied up the bedroom.

You couldn’t move in here for stuff all over the floor, but now most (not all, just most) of it has been put away. I have plenty more to go at in here but I can only do so much before I wear myself out.

In the past the question of tidying up ( or the lack thereof) used to be because the Spirit was unwilling. But these days I have to contend with the flesh being weak as well.

Another thing that I did this morning was that when I was going through the files that I’d uploaded to this computer I came across three digital soundtracks of albums that I’d found but hadn’t yet split.

Two of those were quite straightforward, even if they are time-consuming, but the third should have had 8 tracks on it but somehow I ended up with at least 12, and one of them definitely didn’t sound like the singer whom it should have been.

All of that took some tracking down and it seems that I have somehow ended up with a master tape that includes several other tracks that were recorded for the sessions but were cut from the album.

These are as rare as hens’ teeth of course, these dropped tracks, and I have amassed quite a few here and there. They are good fun to broadcast on my radio programmes when probably no-one has ever heard of them.

After lunch I came in here and … errr … closed my eyes. And for only about half an hour too. A couple of years ago that would have filled me with dismay but these days it’s a sign of optimism – in that it’s not a couple of hours dead to the world as it has been just now.

Once I’d recovered, I had a coffee and had another go at the Greenland photos from 2019. Right now I’m on board the THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR just about to get into a zodiac to go and visit the Eqi Sermia Glacier in Ataa Fjord, one of the fastest-moving glaciers in the Northern Hemisphere.

At 15:00 I knocked off to have a go at the Spirit of Conrad notes and I’d actually written a cople of words too when the phone rang. It was Rosemary wanting a chat and she had one too – for 105 minutes as well.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAlthough you’ve already seen over the wall and down onto the beach during my morning wanderings, no reason why we can’t go there and have another look.

This time, of course, the tide was way out and there were plenty of people down there this afternoon compared to how there have been in the past.

Dozens of people sunbathing on the beach, and plenty of hardy souls out there in the water too. Mind you, it was really nice out there this afternoon even if there was some wind. But I suppose that down there, they are out of the wind and it could be quite pleasant.

fishermen in zodiac speedboat baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallEarlier on, we saw plenty of what I took to be fishermen out there in the bay.

It looks as if a few of them are staying out until this evening’s tide comes back in because there were several boats still out there.

Those two boats out there look as if they have fishermen on board although they don’t seem to have their rods in the water right now. They are probably just having a sociable chat for a few minutes.

There’s a dark object in the water behind the boat on the left and I wonder if that’s the head of a swimmer maybe.

men fishing in zodiac man fishing from beach place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut these people here much closer inshore have definitely gone out there with the intention of fishing.

However the guy on the rocks doesn’t really look all that enthusiastic about it either, holding his rod at about 45° when the water is that shallow just where he is isn’t going to bring him very much much.

As for the four people in the zodiac, they look even less enthusiastic about the whole idea. Their rods are still perpendicular in their holders while they seem to be just sitting around chatting. I’m sure that they ought to be more eager than that if they hope to catch anything.

sailing boat english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhile I was out there spying out the land I saw a rather large sail out there on the horizon in the English Channel.

Being interested, I took myself off to the high point on top of the bunker at the end of the path for a better view. I took a photograph of it and when I was back at home I had a much closer look.

Rather disappointingly, it turned out to be something of an optical illusion. It’s a smaller boat closer into shore than I thought and it’s the spar of the mast that’s level with the horizon. I don’t think that it’s anything more than a rather large yacht.

men fishing from zodiac pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut on that disappointing note I walked off down the path and across the car park to see what was going on at the end of the headland.

And we have a few more fishermen this afternoon. At first glance I thought that these people on this zodiac were musicians because one of them at least seemed as if he was holding a guitar.

In actual fact it is a fishing rod and he’s holding it with his arms extended. Two other people are fishing too but the fourth one just looks as if he’s passing the time. If I were out there, I’d need a really good book to help do that, along with some good music.

yacht being prepared for painting chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallSo leaving them to it, I pushed off down the path towards the port. And when I arrived at the chantier naval I asked myself “have I seen this before?”.

None of my earlier photos are conclusive but I’m sure that I would have noticed this had I seen it. It’s a medium-sized yacht and it’s been stripped and masked off for painting.

And if it has indeed only come out of the water this morning, then they have been moving at a hell of a pace and it’s a shame that all workmen around here can’t work at this kind of speed.

She’ll look really good when she’s finished, that’s for sure.

trawler on blocks chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that yesterday I mused about what might happen if the have to drop one of the seven trawlers that were here yesterday back into the water when the portable boat lift had a trawler in it.

It looks as if they have actually had to cope with this eventuality because they seem to have rigged up some kind of impromptu kind of blocking so that the trawler can be dropped from the lift.

The workmen have now clambered aboard her making a start and the boat lift has now gone back in its usual position over the drop into the harbour.

trawler charlevy trafalgar chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd this is the reason why there have been the changes.

Today there are only 6 tralwers down there. Charlevy, Trafalgar and four whose names I don’t know and which I’ll have to find out before they all go back into the water. There are plenty of workmen down there so they aren’t hanging around.

It looks as if the next one to be moved might be Charlevy because they seem to be well-advanced with her paint job and there are a couple of vans around her with men who look as if they are working.

marité grandstand port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallOne last thing to do is to check the inner port to see who is there.

We saw the big sail earlier, and even without enlarging the image I can say that it’s not Marité because she’s moored up in her little corner down there.

What has however caught my eye is the temporary grandstand at the loading bay. We had a concert down there a couple of weeks ago and so I wonder if they’ll be having another one this weekend.

Let’s hope that the Jersey freighters don’t want to come and drop off a load of freight.

Nack here there wasn’t time to do much before tea. Veggie balls, seeing as I have an endless supply thereof, followed by apple crumble.

Tomorrow is shopping day and I don’t need much with going to Leuven on Tuesday but I do need some fruit so I’ll see how I go.

And there’s football tomorrow, and about time too.

Monday 21st June 2021 – I’VE BEEN EXTREMELY …

… active today, and that has surprised me as mush as it has probably surprised you.

sanding down of hull yacht rebelle chantier navale port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallIn fact I’ve been down to the chantier navale this afternoon to have a look around the two boats that are in there.

The yacht Rebelle is still in there of course. It looks as if she is going to be having a new paint job. There’s a guy over there busy sanding down her bottom with one of these big industrial sanders and so I imagine that Rebelle is going to be in there for a good while yet.

But what is interesting about her is her port of registration. She’s registered in London so I’m curious to know what she’s actually doing here in Granville. It’s a very long way to come for a refit and a repaint.

gwenn ha ruz chantier navale port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallThe fishing boat that we’ve seen for the last couple of weeks is actually called Gwenn Ha Ruz

And in case you are wondering what Gwenn Ha Ruz is, it’s actually Breton for “White and Red” and presumably relates to the colour of her hull and superstructure.

And whatever you do, you must not confuse it with Gwenn Ha Du, “Black and White”. These are of course the colours of Brittany and it is also the name of one of these organisations like the Free Wales Army or the irish Republican Army who led a very active life fighting for the liberation of Brittany and doing things like blow up statues and burning down Prefectures.

Although the Organisation was dissolved after World War II, it inspired the Talbenn Dieubiñ Breizh or “Liberation Front of Brittany”, a society that gained a lot of publicity in the 1960s and early 1970s during criminal trials against its leaders and led indirectly to a revival of the Breton culture and language.

But be that as it may, let’s start at the very beginning. Once again I was up at the sound of the first alarm and after the medication I cracked on with the radio programme that I was doing.

Despite stopping for a coffee and a little later for breakfast, I had it all finished and ready to go by 11:45, and I’ll go with that any time.

While I was listening to it and to the programme that will be broadcast this weekend (another live concert) I sorted out the music on the computer. There are piles of various albums and I hadn’t a clue who half of the artists were so I did some research and edited the file names of the songs to add in the artists.

Ad there’s another “various artists” album added to the collection now. I’d bought one in Canada a couple of years ago and hadn’t digitalised it yet. But I have now!

After lunch I spent a very pleasant hour or so editing photos of my trip to Wyoming in August 2019. I’m now in Wind River Canyon on my way back to Winnipeg, where I might arrive in a couple of days given a bit of luck, God’s help and a bobby.

But right now I have to go out to the shops.

patrol boat baie de mont st michel port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd I don’t get very far before I’m side-tracked by some activity out at sea. In fact, probably not even 100 yards.

Just gently passing by the harbour entrance is what looks like one of the French Government’s patrol boats. There is one, called Les Epiettes, that loiters around here and we saw that in July 2020 when we were on the Spirit of Conrad out at the Ile de Chausey but of course I’m not able to tell you whether it’s the same boat.

Whoever she is, she’s towing some kind of boat behind her. That’s not her lifeboat of course – it’s rather too big for that so I wonder what that is all about. It might account for her coming up to the pleasure port – to drop it off at a pontoon.

trawlers waiting to enter inner harbour port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallA little further on along the street I was brought to a shuddering halt again.

It looks as if I’ve arrived here just at the right moment. The harbour gates that control the mouth of the harbour are closed but judging by the gaggle of trawlers hanging around down there, the gates are about to open.

Once the gates are open the trawlers will swarm through into the inner harbour and go and unload round the back of the Fish Processing Plant.

Down the hill in the Boulevard des Terreneuviers I went and ended up at the chantier navale where I took the photos that you saw a little earlier.

From the chantier navale I headed off into town.

diver with aqualung port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hallmy little trek was interrupted by this strange sight at the inner harbour.

It looks as if one of the boats needs some work doing below the waterline because we have a diver complete with aqualung walking around on the pontoons. And so I said to him “don’t you start away, uneasy. You poor old sod, you see it’s only me”.

Down the road I went towards the town centre. At the Super U I bought a lettuce because that which I had brought home from Leuven was dead, and also some of that dried and candied fruit that I stick in my fruit bread. I’ve run out of Liz’s cake so I need to make some more fruit bread.

Over the road I went to the pharmacy where I stocked up on medication with the prescription from my GP. And it’s a good job that I didn’t collect that three months’ supply in Leuven because my GP has prescribed me three months’ worth of medication. Now I have enough to sink a ship and that’s exactly what I wanted.

While I was out there I kept on colliding with a couple who must have visited every shop in the town trying to find some “Eskimo” ice cream.

swimming pool port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallLoaded up now with more stuff than I intended to bring home, I climbed up the hill in the Rue Des Juifs on my way home.

Half-way up the hill where the viewpoint is overlooking the loading bay I had a look down there to see what was going on. The swimming pool is there so we can assume that Normandy Trader has yet to put her sooty foot in the harbour.

However there seems to be nothing else lined up on the quayside so maybe she isn’t going to be coming in for a few days yet.

While we’re on the subject, on a few occasions Thora used to come into port with a load of scrap iron – old lorries, tractors, all kinds of metal. But I’ve not seen any of that lined up on the quayside for quite a while. Perhaps the price of scrap has dropped.

demolition of unsafe staircase square potel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallMeanwhile, there’s some kind of activity going on across the road in the Square Potel.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that in early summer 2020 the stairway that led down to the Square from up on the wall was closed off to the public as being unsafe. A while later, the spending plan of the town stated that restoration work on the stairs and the repointing of the wall would take place in 2020.

But looking at the little low wall around the Square, that’s been renovated and repointed, and the stairs have been brought down, presumably by that digger that’s there. So they are getting going with this earlier than planned, by the looks of things.

In a couple of weeks time it will be interesting to see how the square will look as the renovations proceed.

While we’re on the subject of proceeding, I proceeded on up the hill towards home.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhen I arrived at my building I carried on across the car park to look down onto the beach to see what was going on down there this afternoon.

There’s even less beach than there was yesterday but nevertheless there are some people down there on the rocks. They look as if they have been in the sea for a swim and they are braver people than me.

Back in my apartment I made myself a coffee and then went to listen to the dictaphone. There is stuff on there for the last four days which I transcribed and one of these days I’ll add in the detains to the previous three days whenever I can find a moment. I might actually have done it today but I … errr … had a little relax while I was riding the porcelain horse.

As for last night I was playing in a pop group last night, playing bass. I’d gone and bought myself a new cabinet, a 300-watt combo things. I was working out first of all how to make a cover for it out of plywood or something. Then I took it up onto the stage, took the cover off and took the plug out of my little amp and plugged it into the back of this big machine and started to play. The sound was so much better, as you might expect for the money but there was a flat spot where I played two notes but you could hear it waling down the street. Some guy had brought a …. I fell asleep here for 7.5 minutes … so where was I? Anyway, I had this bass cabinet and was playing it. Some Irish guy had this weird mouth harp thing but he was playing it but wasn’t getting any sound out of it. We were all joking about him getting more and more frustrated until suddenly he opened the top of it and found that he should be inserting a battery in there – a big PP9 battery from the 1950s.
But while I was asleep just now I was in Caliburn and I was in a seaside town looking up on a cliff. I was driving back to the town but I lost my way and ended up on a street full of semi-detached bungalows, obviously second holiday homes, all closed up and everything. Then I went back to the main road and back down the hill. There was a big chalk quarry with a couple of huge trees that had been blown down with the explosives and there were probably 1000 hunters there with guns. I had to thread my way through as I was on foot by this time. As I reached the other side I met two people – they might have been two people from work. I said to Lucien “I don’t fancy anyone’s chances here. As someone sees a squirrel there is 1000 people shooting at it. The skin is going to be no use for anything and the meat is going to be riddled with lead. But they were really lucky because they saw something moving and they were just about to shoot and it turned out to be a cat. Some little kids had to go and try to catch the cat or chase it away.

There was the hour on the guitar while I picked my way note by note through the bass lines of one of the tracks that I need to learn, and then for tea it was veggie balls with pasta and veg followed by apple turnover, which was delicious.

Now I’m going to prepare some dough for my fruit bread, and then I’m off to bed. Welsh lesson tomorrow – the last of the Academic year – so I need to be on form.

Saturday 15th May 2021 – WE’VE HAD A

unidentified aeroplane place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall… one of these aerial days today – a day when just about everything in the air flew past me today.

It wasn’t possible for me to count all the ones that went past today because I ran out of fingers. Several of them flew past out of range so I couldn’t photograph them but I did photograph those that I could, like this one here.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to identify it because I couldn’t see its serial number anywhere and it’s not a model that I recognise anywhere. It looks like a pretty lightweight machine so it’s quite possibly one of these kit-built aircraft that care classed as microlights.

unidentified aeroplane place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThis is another one that I didn’t recoognise, but that’s for a completely different reason.

As it flew past overhead, it didn’t present to me a surface that carried the registration number. That will be underneath the port wing of course and it wasn’t going that way round. But whatever it is, it’s not one of the aircraft that regularly flies out of the airport here that we see quite regularly.

There was nothing shown on the flight radar for these aircraft of course. It’s unlikely that they file flight plans and they probably don’t fly high enough to be picked up on the radar anywhere.

powered hang glider place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd it wasn’t just aeroplanes that went flying past overhead either.

As I walked out of the building here to go for my afternoon walk I was overflown by one of these powered hang glider things. That wasn’t shown on my radar set either and that’s no surprise. It’s the kind of thing that struggles to lift itself over my building, especially as it’s carrying two people therein.

As this went past overhead I was thinking that all I needed now was to see Godzilla going past and then I’d have the full set. Either that or the Loch Ness Monster. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen so many aircraft on one particular day.

This morning I hauled myself out of bed fairly early, just after the first alarm, despite my rather late night.

And after the medication I had a listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night. I was really surprised to find that I’d been anywhere because it had been a bad night with several raging attacks of cramp that didn’t ease off even when I went for a walk around.

This was the worst series of attacks that I’d had and they were horrible. Painful and horrible.

aeroplane 55-OJ place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut returning to our moutons as they say around here, while you admire aeroplane 55-OJ, I was somewhere on the outskirts of London last night, living by the side of this big main road that was a 2×2 lane with the carriageway nearest me higher than the other. Crossing over there was quite difficult because it was so busy. One night I’d finished my tea and I had the remains on the plate so I thought that I would take then to the dustbin. I had to walk along the pavement, across the road on a zebra crossing, down a set of steps and across the other road. Luckily there was no traffic and I reached the dustbins to put my stuff away. I’d been counting my steps – so many steps across the road, so many steps across the central reservation and so on. There was a lot of traffic waiting at a junction on the other side of the by-pass and I had to walk my way round. I thought that I recognised one of them. It turned out to be a black boy from the City of London on a bicycle who had been wanted by the police for a murder but released. At that moment a police car pulled up and someone started to talk to the policeman saying something like “it’s happened again but I definitely saw something white which was either something white once 100 times or something white twice 50 times”. I immediately thought of this boy. What had he been up to?

After that I went for a good hot shower which made me feel so much better, and then I stripped the bed and changed the bedding, the first time since I can’t remember when. The bedding, my fleece jacket and a few other bits and pieces went into the washing machine and I set it off on its cycle again.

Meanwhile Caliburn and I went to the shops. At NOZ I found a guide book on Iceland, which will come in handy when I write up my notes and if I ever return to the island. There were also some frozen vegan veggie balls, so I bought three packets of those.

LeClerc’s was an expensive shop this morning, even if I did forget the coffee. They had vegan burgers on special offer, and also some special vegan burgers made of sweet potatoes, a new variety with an introductory offer and I wouldn’t want to miss those. I’m building up rather a large supply of burgers now, more than I can probably tackle so I need to start to make my way into that supply some time soon.

Back here I put the veggie balls in the freezer along with the falafel, the other vegan veggie balls, the vegan sausage rolls and whatever else I have picked up in NOZ over the last while. The freezer is now bursting at the seams.

Having done that I made myself some hot chocolate. And despite now having some more cocoa powder I made it with real chocolate. I even bought a pack of 5 slabs of pure chocolate so that I can do this again for the next while.

And then back in here I sat down and promptly crashed out.

The football had already started when I awoke so I watched the rest of the game. TNS v Bala Town and even though TNS went down to 10 me, with a defender rather harshly sent off, they were always too good for Bala Town.

They won rather comfortably 2-0 but it didn’t do them very much good because Connah’s Quay Nomads beat Penybont and that meant that the Nomads were crowned champions for this season. The 4-1 victory that the Nomads had over TNS a couple of weeks ago proved to be so decisive.

Despite their championship win, the Nomads are rather short on consistency and rather short of strength in depth. If they intend to make progress in European competition and retain their championship, they need to recruit half a dozen good players this close season and move on a few of the fringe players who haven’t contributed enough to the team whenever they have come on to play.

It’s the same with Bala Town. They have a good, solid side but apart from Chris Venables and Henry Jones, they don’t have any players capable of pushing the club up to the next level. And the rest of the League are just also-rans with just the odd star dotted about here and there.

But one thing is quite interesting, and it just goes to show how much the Welsh Premier League has progressed over the last few years is that when an ex-Football League came to play with a Welsh Premier League club it made headline news that reverberated around the pyramid for months.

These days there are ex-Football League players in every club, several players who play International football for their country and a couple of players who were in Wales’ successful Euro 2016 squad. And things can only get better when we see the money that these clubs earn by being successful in Europe.

All of that took me up to the time to go out for my afternoon walk around the headland.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallFirst stop was to go down to the end of the car park and look over the wall down onto the beach to see what was going on down there this afternoon. So dodging the powered hang-glider and other aircraft, I headed in that direction.

There were crowds of people down there this afternoon, which was only to be expected seeing as the holiday season is well under way. The town was heaving with people this morning as I drove out to the supermarket so it was no surprise to see the beach so packed.

We’re at the period of lowest tide too so I imagine that many of them down there are scavenging for seafood. And I hope that they will share their catch with their friends because you mustn’t be selfish with your shellfish.

aeroplane 35-MA place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallA little earlier I posted a photo of an unidentified aeroplane that flew overhead while I was walking across the car park.

As I walked back, I was overflown again by an aeroplane that was pretty much identical to one of the unidentified ones. And this time I could see the registration quite clearly on the port wing.

Not that it did me any good because the number on the wing is 35-MA and that is not a number that I can find in the series of registration numbers that I have. And so I’m not able to tell you anything about it, unfortunately. There’s certainly no flight plan or trace of it on the flight radar.

citroen sm maserati place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut I didn’t make it off the car park and off down the path because I was detained by this absolutely gorgeous machine parked here.

It’s been a while since we’ve featured an old car on these pages and to break our barren spell with a vehicle as rare or extraordinary as this is quite exceptional. In case you don’t know what it it, it’s basically a Citroen DS or ID, with the model designation “SM”.

The “S” of course stands for “Sport” but the “M” stands for “Maserati” because the earlier models of the series were powered by the same engine that was in the Maserati Merak and the later ones were powered by the engine out of the Maserati Biturbo.

citroen sm maserati place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThe model was made between 1970 and 1975, but only about 13,000 models were made.

In 1974 there were just 294 examples sold and in 1975 a mere 115 so with the rationalisation of the French motor industry in the mid-70s, the poor sales resulted in the model being discontinued. What did for the model was the fact that the tax band in which the vehicle fell was so high that few people could afford to run them.

Nevertheless, if I had to choose a French vehicle of this era to keep as my own, there wouldn’t be any question about it. I would have one of these in a heartbeat. One of these would rival the Maserati Quattroporte in my list of top-10 vehicles.

citroen u23 place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere was something else of interest parked up here at the end of the car park.

We’ve seen this vehicle before a few months ago. It’s a Citroen U23 lorry, a type of lorry that was launched in 1936 and was seen everywhere all over France. There are even A FEW EARLY ONES KNOCKING ABOUT ON THE ROADS today. They were also very popular with the French Army in World War II and quite a few were incorporated into the German army after the fall of France.

The earlier models looked very much like a Citroen Traction Avant but the bodywork evolved over the next 30 or so years before the model was abandoned in 1964. This is one of the last redesign of the model, undertaken in the late 1950s.

On that note I finally set off along the path above the cliffs, amongst the madding crowds wearing facemasks to a greater or lesser extent. There was nothing out to sea but as I approached the lighthouse a storm rolled in quite quickly and it began to rain. And so I didn’t wish to hang around for very long outside.

chantier navale port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallOn the other side of the headland in the rain I looked down on the chantier navale from the viewpoint overlooking the port.

It looks quite strange right now with nothing in there up on blocks down there. It’s not very often that we can see the place looking quite like this without any boats of any description in there. It’s restricted by the fact that the portable boat lift only has a rating of about 95 tonnes, and so that rules out some of the boats that are based in the harbour.

There’s a dry dock here, the Cale de Radoub, in which larger boats could be placed and where they could be repaired but even though that was declared an Ancient Monument in 2008, it’s been out of use since 1978 and will cost several millions to put into working order so that it could be used again.

marite port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallOne of the boats that requites an annual inspection is Marité, the old Newfoundland fishing boat that’s based here and which takes passengers out every now and again.

She had to sail to Lorient for her annual overhaul a few days ago as regular readers of this rubbish will recall. She must have come back on the tide last night. I was lucky enough to catch her coming home last year but I missed her this year.

Back here I made myself a mug of hot coffee and sat down to make a start on doing some work. But instead, I crashed out yet again. This is becoming far too much of a habit these days and I’m becoming rather fed up of all of this. I could understand it if I’d done any heavy exercise but even a walk around the block these days is finishing me off.

After I came round and recovered my equilibrium, I spent an hour or so playing the bass. I have to learn the songs on this song list and there’s no time like the present. I ned to exert myself one way or another.

Tea tonight was a burger with pasta and vegetables followed by chocolate sponge and chocolate sauce, which is just as delicious as it was when I made it. And chatting to a few people on the internet later, I posted them my recipe so that they can make it.

Now I’m off to bed, a lot later than usual but it doesn’t matter all that much because I’m having a lie-in tomorrow. And as long as it’s not 13:30 like it was last Saturday, I won’t mind too much.

Wednesday 6th January 2021 – I WON’T EVER SEE …

… my friendly neighbourhood ginger cat again.

Regular readers of this rubbish may recall that I mentioned a while ago that his mum, one of my neighbours, had been offered an apartment in sheltered accommodation due to her age and infirmity. This afternoon as I put my head outside the door of the building I saw a removal van outside the door to her block.

And when I went out later this evening, her apartment was totally empty and cleared out. There she was – she and her cat – gone, and never called me mother (next week, East Lynne).

As for me I was totally gone last night too. When I finally made it into bed, late as usual just recently, I was out like a light and didn’t move a muscle until the alarm went off. And while I didn’t actually beat the third alarm, I wasn’t many minutes behind it.

After the medication I had a few things to do and then I had to ring up the doctor’s and make an appointment. And you can tell that this isn’t the UK.
“Is it urgent?”
“no, not particularly”
“Is 9:30 tomorrow OK?”

Haven’t dealt with that I sat down to start to dictate the notes that I’d written but then almost immediately I was interrupted by a telephone call. Would I like to go for a coffee with the manager of the radio station?

So I managed to dictate all of the notes and then go and have a shower before I headed off across the car park to the Municipal offices at the back. Coffee was served and then we had a lengthy chat about Brexit and Scottish and Welsh independence.

Very little to do with the radio, and it seemed to me that I was being interrogated for something, although I don’t know what it might be. We shall see what transpires of this in due course, if anything.

There was no bass guitar practice tonight. Even though I seem to be a little better today, it’s not that much better and it took me an age to do what it would normally take a couple of hours to do. When it came to 18:00 and knocking-off time, I wasn’t far away from finishing so I pushed on and by 18:35 both of the outstanding radio programmes were now completed up and running.

Of course we had had a couple of interruptions. Lunch was taken of course and unfortunately the bread supplies are quite low. I need to look into this.

There was the afternoon walk and today this was a walk with a difference.

If I’m baking bread tomorrow morning, I may as well make a sourdough fruit loaf so having fed the sourdough and watched it rise like a lift, I headed off into town. I have no jellied fruit and I need to buy some. The Super U in the town is the place for that.

water tower chateau d'eau Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOutside it was cold and cloudy but with the sun poking through the clouds here and there.

But just for a change, instead of the sun lighting up the sea or the Brittany cliffs or whatever, today the sun was streaming down onto the water tower up near the Shopping Centre. It was all particularly impressive.

The Super U came up trumps with the jellied fruit but my new bank card wouldn’t work. having tried a couple of times I paid in cash and went round to the Bank to try it there. Once again, it didn’t work so I went to chat to a cashier.

It seems that Brain of Britain has struck again. Somehow I must have taken the old card out of my wallet, signed the new card and then put the old card back in the wallet.

sunset on water baie de mont st michel brittany coast Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallWith nothing else much going on in the town I headed back for home.

By now, with the sun having moved around on its cycle and with the clouds having been blown around by the wind the sun was now shining in a different direction. It was rather later than usual so we were having a gorgeous orange glow in the sky which was reflecting off the water in the bay.

This is without doubt one of the best sunsets that we’ve seen so far, even though the photo was being photobombed by a seagull flying through the shot and I stayed out there for a while to watch it – the sunset that is, not the seagull.

chantier navale port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhile I was out there I had a look down to see what was going on at the chantier navale

There was nothing special going on there this afternoon. The yacht is still there on its blocks and there are a couple of cars parked around it. It’s not clear though whether they have anything to do with the yacht or its owners. There certainly doesn’t seem to have been much progress on the yacht, whatever they might be doing, over the past few months.

The trawler is still there too, parked up on blocks at the back near the portable boat lift. There’s a van parked right by it so it might well be that there has been some kind of work being undertaken.

But that’s been there for a while too.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallRather than go straight home I went to have a look out to sea from the North side of the headland to see if there was anything exciting going on.

Nothing much at all though this afternoon. No boats out to sea or anything else. There were a few people out walking on the beach, presumably looking for shellfish or something similar lying around on the beach. I’m not sure what they have found.

For a couple of minutes I watched them and then came on back into the apartment for a hot coffee and a slice of Christmas cake. Having digested that I cracked on with the radio work that I had been doing until I finished it.

And I might have finished it earlier too had I not crashed out a couple of times.

gymnasium jean galfione Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAfter the practice with the 6-string guitar, I headed off out for my evening walk.

Seeing as I hadn’t been round the headland this afternoon I went that way this evening in the dark. The gymnasium of the College Malraux was all lit up and so there must have been something going in there. It’s actually called the Gymnase Jean Galfione.

And in case you are wondering who Jean Galfione was when he was at home, if he ever was, he is probably France’s most successful pole vaulter and won the gold medal at the Atlanta Olympic Games as well as winning several other championship events.

woman with laptop pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallIt’s a shame that this photo hasn’t worked out as I wanted, but it was taken in quite a hurry.

You can’t actually see clearly in this photo but there’s a woman there with a large dog, and also a laptop computer. And what she’s doing working on a laptop with a dog outside in the middle of winter I really do not know.

And regular readers of this rubbish will recall that a few months ago we also saw a couple of other people working on a laptop outside in the cold on the city walls. So I’ve no idea what that is all about.

From there, I ran home – my first run for a week or 10 days. I really wasn’t up to it and I was in agony when I finished but I can’t let this thing pass me by.

Tea was pasta with veg and some veggie balls followed by defrosted apple crumble; And then I made my sourdough loaf – or, at least, the first mix of it so that it can do what it might do overnight. It’s crammed full of goodies like

  • a pile of whizzed up brazil nuts
  • several dessert spoons of desiccated coconut
  • ditto sunflower seeds
  • a couple of handfuls of raisins
  • ditto jellied fruits

and I can’t wait to see how it comes out.

And now that I’ve finished my notes I’m going to make some dough for my main loaf and let that rise overnight too. It both loaves have their second kneading first thing tomorrow morning, they’ll be ready to bake as soon a I come back from the shops and I can have fresh bread for lunch.

Saturday 19th March 2016 – JUST FOR A CHANGE …

… I didn’t have to go anywhere today. And do you know what? Well, so I didn’t! The only time that I set foot out of the house was to fetch the bread from the boulangère.

Mind you, I’d been far enough on my travels during the night and so I reckoned that I owed myself day of peace and rest. The first part of last night’s adventure was quite gruesome. It concerns a man, a big businessman who was very rich whose sexual orientation was not restricted to members of the human race. Our attention had been drawn to him by looking through some old declarations that he had made of the income of a cinema that he ran, which had made a profit of just £205 but in actual fact the turnover ran into millions but was paid all out in expenses and there were various anonymous letters sent in alleging that this person was up to no good. As a result, we had this person under surveillance. We’d followed him to a party where he had met a girl who possessed the ability to transform herself into a dog and he found this to be quite interesting, so he went off with her at the end of the night. We talked to another girl at this party – she was a friend of the first girl – she wasn’t quite sure of what was happening. She was waiting for her boyfriend but it seemed as if he had deserted her for someone else. We were sympathising with her. We then picked up some news and so this girl, a small boy of about 6 or 7 and this girl piled into my car which was an E-type Jaguar hard-top with wire wheels to set off and see what was happening. One of the rear tyres on my car was damaged – there was some of the side wall which was breaking away due to the tyre having hit the kerb really hard and I hadn’t had time to change it. We shot off to the other side of this town nevertheless and found it to be under attack by aliens. This man had been parked up with this girl in his car in a quiet corner of this part of town and found himself right in the firing line. She had escaped, disguised as a dog, but he was trapped there. This girl and I had to brave the heavy fire of these aliens and run through the barrage to his car to extricate him and stick him in the back of my car. The girl who had come with me told me that she would stay behind to hold off the aliens to give me an opportunity to take this man away in my car and take him to a clinic. This was urgent because something had happened to him – whether it was to do with this girl or to do with an interaction with these aliens, but he was transforming himself into some kind of ugly monster and I had to throw a blanket over him to hide him from passers-by and from this boy. The girl gave me definite instructions where to take him – I must go to his clinic and only to his clinic because they had his records and probably knew something about his condition. So we shot off, braving the barrage of fire and with this bad tyre that was now becoming urgent and drove through the streets of this place, which bore more than a passing resemblance to Chester. On a corner of a street was another girl whom we knew and who had some connection with this man, and she was talking to the matron of the clinic where this guy usually went for treatment. We took the car round to the clinic, as the matron told us where it was, and we tried to persuade the people at the clinic to send out a stretcher and some men to take our passenger inside discreetly. However they insisted on doing things formally and we ended up being submerged in administration and paperwork while this man’ condition was deteriorating rapidly and the other girl was out on the edge of town under attack from aliens and I needed to get back there to rescue her. But this bureaucracy was stopping me from doing anything.
Later on, I was living in a house with a lot of kids and adolescents.We’d all been to church very early on one Sunday morning (which of course is highly unusual) and then we came back to start to think about breakfast. In the meantime, I’d been playing with one of the small girls, sitting her on my shoulders and giving her a run around. We had a lot of fun doing that and then came back to see the little puppy that these people had, playing around with some huge husky-type dogs and they were all having a really good time. I went of to make some toast for my breakfast but someone had already filled the grill pan with bacon. I simply put my bread on a higher level of the insert in the grill pan (we come across some astonishing items during our nocturnal rambles, don’t we?) and put that underneath the grill (why I didn’t use a toaster is something totally beyond me). I was halfway through writing an essay of some kind but I had to get up and do something, and in the meantime the girls who were involved with this bacon came downstairs and saw their bacon almost cooked so they sat down to eat it, right where I had been sitting writing my essay. I heard the two girls discussing my essay and saying that they had finished it off for me, writing that wherever I had reached in my essay was all down to feminist antagonism. I had to quickly grab hold of my essay and sit down to rewrite it and edit out their ending.

What with all of that, no-one was more surprised than me to be up and about yet again, a long time before the alarm going off. I had a nice leisurely breakfast and after the nurse had been I sat down to catch up on a pile of paperwork, an activity only briefly interrupted by my decision to go for a shower, which I can do now that my trials and tribulations at the allergy clinic are over.

This afternoon, I sat down to do my medical expenses. I need them to be up-to-date before I go off to Leuven tomorrow afternoon. Just a mere 50% of my pension this month, and that’s still with a few outstanding. It goes without saying of course that I haven’t yet had the reimbursement of the last lot that I sent in. After all, it’s only been three weeks!

We had leftovers for tea tonight, and by that I mean the leftover vegan meatballs from the other week that were put in the freezer. and like most spicy food, the longer it’s kept, the better it tastes. With spaghetti and tomato sauce they were delicious, especially washed down with home-made vegan ice cream.

So tomorrow, I’m off. But before I go I have to pack and to check Caliburn’s oil and water, and to wash and clean the camping stove. I have remembered the kettle and water but I’ve just realised that I’ve forgotten the coffee!

There’s always something, isn’t there?

Wednesday 24th February 2016 – HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!

Yes, I’m not going to tell you how old I am but when we lit the candles on my gorgeous vegan chocolate birthday cake, there was an avalanche on the ski slopes at Super-Besse and when I went to blow them out later, I was driven back by the heat.

We had vegan meatballs and tomato sauce with spaghetti as well for a birthday tea and now I’m well-and-truly stuffed. And to make things even better, the nurse forgot to come this morning and give me my injection. What more can any man desire?

I haven’t bought myself a present because firstly, I wasn’t sure that I was still going to be here (either here at Liz and Terry’s, or anywhere else for that matter) and as you all know, I’m not all here anyway. Secondly, I do have my eye on something but whether I’ll now be able to have the use out of it is anyone’s guess.

But I know that I am going to be in for a good time tonight because the birthday present that I do have lined up is something well worth having. I’m a big fan of the 1930s actor Gordon Harker, as regular readers of this rubbish may have realised. Amongst his output were three films in which he starred as Inspector Hornleigh with Alastair Sim as his sidekick, Sergeant Bingham. One of them, Inspector Hornleigh Goes To It, has been discovered and was broadcast, with 20 minutes of it missing, on BBC television years agobut since then it’s been restored in its entirety and is available from archive.org. Of course, I’ve long-since downloaded it.

As for the other two films, “Inspector Hornleigh” and “Inspector Hornleigh on Holiday”, the latter was likewise rediscovered and broadcast on BBC Television but had not only a 20-minute missing section but a 1O-minute piece where the soundtrack was lost. Since then, it has disappeared. The former film has never been aired on TV as far as I can tell, and I’ve always considered it to be lost.

However, there’s a new film archive site that’s sprung up, and would you believe, it’s actually offering those two films. It goes without saying that I’ve downloaded them, and I’ll be watching them in bed tonight as my birthday treat.

I didn’t contact the Medical Insurance people today because other things cropped up. We had another visit so we needed to tidy up, and the visitors stayed until early evening. You can’t do much when you have company. I’ll have to do this on Friday now. But I have cracked on with my dictaphone notes and seem to be making quite good progress.

I wasn’t making much progress during the night however. Anything but, in fact. I started out in an office trying to work out the business affairs of a couple of stockbrokers but I couldn’t receive a reply from them to a simple enquiry. One of these stockbrokers was a magistrate and what I wanted to know was how many penalty points a person received for being convicted for shoplifting (yes, this makes sense, doesn’t it?). I couldn’t obtain a reply to my phone calls or my letters – then suddenly a big illuminated sign went up in our office to announce that the firm of stockbrokers concerned had undergone a heavy internal re-organisation and were far too busy training new stockbrokers than to spend their time helping businesses like us perform our tasks (and the message was delivered in rather a patronising, insulting tone). We were told to contact them after 15th January (it was September at this moment, I recall). This meant that I needed to find someone else who was a magistrate and so I asked around the office. In the end, some of my colleagues gave me a name which was a Mr Hyde-White (Wilfred?) so I had to search the building in order to find him. Everyone with whom I spoke replied that it was in fact Mrs Hyde-White who worked here but even then, no-one could direct me to her office and I seemed to be going around in circles. The simple answer, of looking on the internet or even trying to find the records of the relevant Court case, never ever occurred to me;
But clearly my medical situation is preying on my mind because one of my nocturnal rambles last night was to go off and seek a second opinion about my medical condition. This involved taking the train to a town called “Port” which was somewhere along the railway line between Lyon and Marseille. The train that we needed was one of these old-type of 1960s long-distance expresses (not the TGV) and so we set off for the station, which was a huge station, just like the one at Crewe but many times bigger. We arrived there hours early for our train which was at 11:30, so we settled down to sleep on the benches on the platform – me, my brother (whatever is he doing here again?) and a girl whom I don’t recognise. Suddenly, I sat bolt upright – and it was 11:25 and the train was just pulling into the station. But here I was, half-undressed, I couldn’t find my socks (there was a pair of blue ones but I was sure that they weren’t mine but I tried to put them on anyway) or my jumper, my possessions were strewn about just about everywhere. My two companions were in the same state but they were in no kind of hurry to prepare themselves to board the train – there was only me rushing to get ready – I was trying to encourage one of them to board the train so that we could simply throw our gear on board and leap on straight away afterwards. But bang on 11:30 the train pulled out (this is of course any other country in the world rather than the UK) and we were stranded, totally unprepared. I was now panicking that I’d missed my appointment for wherever I had to go. The woman with whom I was travelling just didn’t seem to have any sense of urgency whatever. My brother and I wandered off to try to find some left-luggage lockers to dump all our superfluous stuff. I had decided that there would be just me and the clothes that I stood up in. He then decided that he would like to have the keys as he was going to wander off and make some other kind of arrangements for something else. “Don’t worry!” he said, “I’ll be back in a day or two”. I replied that I wanted the keys to do this NOW and I want you back in five minutes. This of course led to yet another interminable argument. Afterwards, I ended up back with this woman who was still totally nonchalant about all of this. She said that she couldn’t understand all of the fuss. “We’re taking the train to Porto, aren’t we?”. I replied that we weren’t at all. It was to PORT that we should be going. She couldn’t believe it, but there it was, written on the tickets. She wandered off to find a ticket inspector to see if there would be another train within the next 5 minutes that would take us to our destination in time for my appointment. But we STILL weren’t ready, with our possessions strewn about the place, I still didn’t have any socks on and all of this kind of thing. It was totally absurd, it was.
I can’t remember where I was after that but it was nowhere that I recognised. We (whoever we were) were driving along a road through a town or city that may well have been mainland European (we were certainly driving on the right) alongside a railway line and then up a slip road into the main traffic. There was a song playing, one about “riding in a taxi” and we were changing the words to sing “riding in my A60” which is strange to say the least because much as I like A60s, the cars with which I will always be associated when it comes to talking about taxis will of course be Cortinas. But as we merged into the traffic up ahead, we noticed in front of us a Morris Marina which was clearly a taxi because it was black on the lower part and up to the high waistline on the sides, with white upper body and roof and boot lid.But this was a bizarre vehicle to be using as a taxi in mainland Europe.

But this is twice just recently that I’ve been having issues about trains. This is bizarre. I wonder what it’s all about.

But I can worry about this later because I’m now off to bed to watch my films. I reckon that I’ve earned it.