Tag Archives: wind farm

Monday 14th September 2020 – I’M NOT SURE …

… whether this has been a good day or a bad day.

When the third alarm went off this morning I was still in bed but surprisingly, I actually sprung up out of bed and sat on the edge. I’ve no idea what happened there – the “springing up” bit, I mean.

And neither will you when I tell you that I was still up and about at 01:40 this morning too. Having a lie-in is one thing but not when it adjusts my body clock quite like this.

As usual these days, it took an age for the bed to stop spinning so that I could get off, and once I’d gathered my wits I had a listen to the dictaphone.

We started off with a voyage that went on for ages and ages. I thought at first that it was a dream about football but it’s not. It took me a while to think about what it was actually about because when I tried to dictate it, it had all gone completely out of my head for a while but suddenly it all came back to me, as the skunk said when the wind changed.

It was actually about skiing. We were all going skiing, a huge group of us with a couple of friends of mine from the Wirral. I had some people whom they knew from the past but couldn’t remember very well some of the people. We’d all met up and having a ski around in the mountains. I was explaining to them my favourite ski runs particularly in the summer when there was still snow up in the mountains and skiing was still possible. We were making plans to all go and they were asking me “did my friends like this? Did my friends like to stop for regular breaks?” All this kind of thing. I hadn’t really got round to telling them that there was only me who was interested in going with them to do this. This conversation about my favourite ski runs in this mountain went on – you get to the top and you get the drag lift up here and you take this nice beautiful red run all the way down here. This went on for ages. Then it was time for break and we were sitting around. I was waiting at a table with this particular group. People were asking “do we want to continue? Do we want to go on?” I said “my group hasn’t asked for any food yet” so I said to them “do you have any requests? And make sure that they are physically possible”. Everyone burst out laughing but no-one actually asked for anything.

A little later it was a beautiful afternoon and I was walking around the little park/lawn place by the Boulevard Vaufleury and is this the first time that I’ve dreamt about Granville? Even though it was beautiful there was no-one really taking advantage of it except a group of schoolkids doing physical exercises under the supervision of a teacher who might have been called Taylor. There were people discussing a murder and whether a certain guy had done it and someone else chimed in “well they’ve got the wrong Taylor there haven’t they?” to which everyone wondered what he was meaning. I’m not quite sure where it went after that.

Not only that, I attacked a few of the arrears and I’m slowly whittling them down. As well as that, while I was listening to this week’s radio programme before I sent it off (I did remember), I spent an hour or so on the arrears of photos for July.

Having sent off the broadcast, I extracted the digital record turntable. Not being able to find the software for it, I had to hunt it down on the internet. But once it was all installed and connected up, it seemed to work quite well and I was able to record an album – the one that I wanted to record.

The only downside is that it recorded in mono. That’s not as big a deal because I can convert it into stereo. It was true mono too – not just one track of a stereo recording, so the fault either lies with the album (it might be a mono recording) or with the settings that I’m using. I shall have to check.

But once I’d done it, I was able to use part of it to complete some old stuff that I have from another time in order to recreate a rock concert that I had seen in 1971. That took the rest of the day but now it’s a nice live concert of almost an hour, including the legendary track about which I shall one of these days recount a very long story.

government boat english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallAs usual, I went out for my afternoon walk. And in the heat too. My thermometer at home was showing 29°C and it felt like it too.

The crowds of people who were out there were enjoying it too. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen so many people out there on a working day. Not so many people out a sea today though, which isn’t really all that much of a surprise. But this boat was out there again, towing a dinghy behind it this time.

It’s been a couple of times that I’ve seen it now and I’ve still not been able to work out what it is and who owns it.

government boat lifeboat baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france eric hallBut anyway I carried on around the headland to the other side and there I was treated to an interesting nautical danse macabre.

The lifeboat was coming out of its berth in the port de plaisance and it crossed the mystery boat right outside the harbour. We had a couple of toots on a siren and then a complicated manoeuvre as they avoided each other.

The mystery boat, which has an interesting heavy-duty crane in the bows, then carried on into the Port de Plaisance. And I carried on home.

There was the session of Welsh and the time on the guitars and then I stopped for tea. Stuffed pepper followed by my delicious apple crumble with the left-over ice-cream out of one of the containers in the freezer. I need to make some more room in there.

donville les bains granville manche normandy france eric hallIt was still stifling hot when I went out for my evening walk and runs.

There were quite a few people about this evening here and there which is hardly surprising given the heat. There was a heat haze out to sea so the view wasn’t as clear as it has been just recently.

However the view of the promenade at Donville-les-Bains along the coast was particularly impressive tonight and the photograph that I took came out rather well.

The Rue du Nord on the right of the photo has come out rather well and on the left you can see the red lights on the wind turbines round somewhere near Cerences.

people on beach plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallBut my reverie was disturbed by a noise coming from down below on the beach so I had a look over the wall.

Pitch-black is one thing for most of us but for young people it’s something else. These two down here checking messages on their mobile phones seemed to be having a very enjoyable time. And why not?

As for me I walked up to the old gate in the walls and then ran down the path towards the viewpoint over the Plat Gousset.

helicopter english channel ile de chausey granville manche normandy france eric hallBut I didn’t get very far and actually had to break off my run which disappointed me, because the excitement yet isn’t over.

As I was running down the path I was overtaken by a helicopter that flew along the coast and then went to ground down near the promenade at Donville-les-Bains.

“This is a strange time of the night to be having your chopper out” I mused to myself, and then carried on with my run. On reflection, the helicopter is quite probably the local air-sea rescue machine.

Nothing much else happened so I headed home. I managed my three runs although I do have to say that I never ever felt less like it. Having crashed out for 15 minutes after tea has taken its toll.

Tomorrow it’s Welsh class so I need to do some more revision, and then there’s the concert to finish off, followed by the missing week of my internet course.

Then at last I can turn my attention to other stuff. And not before time either.

Friday 14th August 2020 – THAT WAS A …

… nice break on my journey today.

My route brought me through the city of Luxembourg so I telephoned my friend Malou. We met in the city centre and went for a drink and a chat for an hour or two. It’s a long time since we’ve seen each other so it was good to meet up and have a chat for a while.

And I do have to say that I needed a break because it had been a long, hard day. It all went wrong before I went to bed because having had a little doze during the afternoon, I wasn’t tired at all and it was almost 02:00 before I went to bed.

Nevertheless I staggered out of bed as the alarms went off, tired as I might have been, and did some of the outstanding paperwork.

There was something on the dictaphone too. For some unknown reason we had been discussing tanks during the night. We were in a big one, the idea being to spray several other tanks with machine gun fire to find out how flammable they were and to see what the chances were of setting other tanks ablaze with just simply machine gun fire reaching vital parts or breaking fuel lines kind of thing

Breakfast was interesting because the landlady insisted on talking to me. We had a delightful conversation in a mixture of German and English that went on for almost an hour.

hotel kraichgauidylle 69254 malsch germany eric hallThinking on, I’m not too sure if I’ve mentioned my hotel.

It’s the hotel Kraichgauidylle in Malsch, the correct Malsch of course, and is one of these typical Germanic small village hotels that you encounter all over Central Europe. Somewhat tired, dingy and dark as if it was a throwback to the 1930s but while the price wasn’t a 1930s price, it was pretty good value for the money that I paid.

In fact, being on the Budget Economy plan that I am, the proof of the issue is “whether I would stay here again at the same price” and that emits a rather positive response.

The only issue was the lack of on-site parking. But arriving late and leaving early meant that I could use the parking space of the bank across the road without any problems.

On the road, the lack of sleep caught up with me before I’d gone too far and I ended up asleep in a car park for a couple of hours. It’s a long time that I’ve done that, isn’t it? Just like old times in Canada.

The bridge that I was intending to take across the Rhine was closed and I was obliged to take a detour to another bridge.

castle frankenstein  eric hallFrom there, through yet more roadworks and traffic jams, especially in the town of Kaiserlautern, I pushed on into the Eifel Mountains past the Castle Frankenstein.

One of those places where you have to stop and take a photo, even if you do have to drive around for ages and perform several U-turns in order to find a place to park where there’s a good vies

It’s not unfortunately the castle of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein – that’s out near Darmstadt – but its etymology is the same, to wit, the stone (building) of the Franks, the tribe that occupied western Germany and eastern France in the early Middle Ages

The existence of this particular castle is first recorded in 1146 and is believed to date from some 50 years earlier according to some contemporary reports. Its purpose was to guard the road between Speyer, Dürkheim and Worms, presumably for the security of pilgrims and religious officials, and was owned by Limburg Abbey.

Severely damaged during the various wars of the 15th and 16th Century, it was finished off during the German Peasants War, a revolt that led Martin Luther to state that the peasants “… must be sliced, choked, stabbed, secretly and publicly, by those who can, like one must kill a rabid dog.”.

By 1560 it was reported as being destroyed.

concorde Flugausstellung Peter Junior Hermeskeil Habersberg germany eric hallContinuing onwards deep into the mountains, I came across an air museum with 20 or so aeroplanes on display outside, somewhere near the towns of Hermeskeil and Habersberg.

What actually caught my eye was the Concorde here so I had to do a U-turn and go back for another look. However I didn’t stop for more than a second or two because right at that moment we were having a torrential downpour outside – something akin to what we had on the previous day and I wasn’t getting out of Caliburn in that. A quick photo would have to do.

But it’s another one of these places to which I’ll have to return, even if the Concorde here is only a replica, as I was to find out later. Never mind 20 or so areoplanes, there are in fact well over 100 and not only that, there’s a railway museum nearby with a shed full of steam locomotives.

view river saar valley germany eric hallThe weather started to brighten up very slowly as I pressed on further into the mountains. And as I crested a rise at the back of the town of Vierherrenborn, I stopped in my tracks to admire the beautiful view.

Where I actually am is at the top of a range of hills that form the eastern shore of the Saar River, one of the tributaries of the Moselle which it joins a few miles further north near Trier.

246 kilometres long, it was a vital industrial route of Germany in the late 19th and early 20th Century when this region was one of Europe’s leading iron*producing areas, bringing raw materials in and taking the finished product out.

This was a region that was considered to be so vital to Germany’s industrial progress that for 15 years after World War I and 10 years after World War II it was adminsitered separately from Germany by various occupying powers.

radio mast near vierherrenborn germany eric hallBehind where I’m standing is what at first glance appeared to be similar to the Loran C masts of which we saw more than a few ON OUR TRAVELS AROUND NORTH-EAST CANADA.

However this one probably isn’t. It’s probably nothing more than an ordinary radio antenna – if “ordinary” can be used to describe an object quite like this one. I was rather hoping that it might have been the “Eifel Tower” – in actual fact the Sender Eifel – the tallest structure in the Rhineland-Palatinate at 302 metres, but that’s about 60 miles further north at Kirchweiler

So whatever it is, I shall have to continue to make enquiries

wind turbines saar valley germany eric hallThese objects are much easier to identify, because we have seen plenty of them on our travels around here and there.

Across the river over there – brcause the river is just down there in that velley in the middle distance – is one of the highest points in this particular region, a mere cockstride from the border with Luuxembourg, right in the path of the westerly winds.

Consequently it’s obviously going to be a prime candidate for a wind farm, and quite right too. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I’m all in favour of windfarms, having lived for many years with three wind turbines.

river moselle rehlingen nittel germany eric hallTalking of westward, I’m going west, aren’t I? Continuing along the road towards the border with Luxembourg myself.

It’s a really beautiful drive through this part of the Eifel so I wasn’t in any great rush, but soon enough I arrived at the River Moselle, the “little Meuse”. To the left of this image is Luxembourg and to the right is Germany, for the river forms the boundary between the two.

The town down there is called Rehlingen, a town first recorded some time in the middle of the 12th Century but lost its autonomy in 1974 when its administration was absorbed into that of neighbouring Nittel.

wormeldange luxembourg eric hallOver there is the town of Wormeldange, in Luxembourg and it’sdown by there that we will be crossing over the river into Luxembourg by means of the bridge that links it with the German community of Wincheringen, where I am at this moment.

Lovers of wine would love to come to visit Wormeldange because it’s one of the more important centres of production of Reisling and there are 360 hectares of grapes to have a go at.

But not for me though. Apart from a beer, which was all that there was to drink when we were stranded in a snowdrift half way up a mountain while skiing in Romania one year, I haven’t drunk alcohol for 30 years or so. And in any case, I have an appointment to keep and can’t spare the time to stop.

Into Luxembourg City to find a parking space, and Strawberry Moose received a wave from a friendly pedestrian.

Having found a place to park, I met up with my friend Malou. We had studied together at University all those years ago and still keep in touch. We’ve met up a few times while I’ve been on my travels but not in Luxembourg since about 2001. We went off to have a coffee and a good chat.

Having spent a pleasant hour or so with Malou I headed out of the city northwards in the vague direction of the Belgian border.

hotel kinnen Route d'Echternach, 6550 Berdorf, Luxembourg eric hallDeep in the mountains of the northern part of the country in the town of Berdorf, I ended up at my hotel, the Hotel Kinnen, in keeping up my tradition of spending a night in every country that i’ve visited.

This hotel is another place that has seen much better days in the past when Berdorf was the place to be. And it still has quite a few signs of its former grandeur. In fact, for value for money, it’s one of the best places in which I’ve stayed in Western Europe for quite some considerable time.

Walking around the town later that night, I stumbled upon a pizza place and prevailed upon the chef to make me a special pizza seeing as I hadn’t had one for a few weeks. Now I need some more vegan cheese.

Tomorrow I’m heading to Germany and Belgium. Well on my way home now. Looking at my notes I can see that I’ve already been out for three weeks and it’ll be four weeks by the time that I return home. I wonder if I can remember where it is.

Tuesday 2nd July 2019 – TODAY WAS A DAY …

… of doing nothing at all. We’re actually on what is called a “positioning voyage” between a drop-off point for one group of passengers and a pick-up for the next. But as I know some of the people who lease the ship, and it’s actually travelling in the direction that I want to go, we’ve been allowed to leap on board.

But there’s no entertainment and nothing organised to help pass the time.So luckily I have plenty to do.

And talking of plenty to do, last night I settled down in my comfy cabin to watch a film, but I think that I lasted less than 5 minutes before I switched everything off and went to sleep.

Not for long though. At 04:15 exactly the ship hit a heavy rolling swell and the change in rhythm awoke me immediately. It was difficult for me to go back to sleep but I must have done because I was awoken by the alarms.

And if I went anywhere on a nocturnal ramble, I really have no idea at all.

By 06:15 I was up and about and 06:30 saw me, mug of coffee in hand, on the open deck at the rear. We sailed through a procession of oil rigs a windfarm or two and the odd ship here and there, but nothing of any great excitement. There was no land visible.

During breakfast, some land became visible on the port bow. It seemed that through the night and early morning we had been travelling across the mouth of the Moray Firth and now we had struck shore again somewhere in the vicinity of the town of Wick.

A couple of us stood on the wings of the bridge admiring the view and taking photos. Duncansby Head and John O’Groats were quite interesting, and one of my photos even picked up a couple of people watching us from the cliffs;

Past the lighthouse on the Pentland Skerries and into the Pentland Firth, threading our way through the Orkney Islands. Apart from the numerous lighthouses, we saw plenty of former military installations from when the British Royal Navy was stationed here, a couple of ferries out of Scrabster, a trawler or two and a big gas tanker.

There were plenty of inhabited places too but I’ll need to refer to a good map to identify those, so it will have to wait until I return home.

The weather had started off very misty and hazy and many of the long-distance shots were veiled in a kind of fog. But by now the weather had improved and some of the photos, even taken at full-reach with the big zoom lens.

But it wasn’t to last. We were enveloped in a sudden and dramatic squall that passed our way like a cyclone and disappeared just as rapidly.

We passed the Old Man of Hoy and into the open ocean of the North Atlantic. That was the cue for a heavy swell, and also the cue for lunch.

A couple of my fellow-passengers are cinephiles and they wanted to watch a film, so I repaired to the observation lounge on the top deck to attack a great pile of photos.

There wasn’t all that much to observe out here in the wilds, but I did notice a couple of islands away to port. I’ve no idea what islands they might have been because apart from Rockall, which neither of these islands resembled in the slightest, I’m not aware of any islands out here.

That’s something else that I shall have to check in due course.

Away in the distance was a ship. I couldn’t see it too clearly as it was so far away, but it seemed to have what looked like a crane on the back. if it was indeed a crane, it might well be a supply ship of some nature and might even have some connection with the islands that we had just passed.

At our evening meal I asked if anyone else had seen the islands but apparently not. I managed to track down an atlas but that wasn’t a great deal of help.

Later that evening our cinephiles wanted to watch another film so they pulled all of the curtains. I retreated once more to the quiet of the top deck lounge where I could at least see anything that might be going on and to carry on with the photos.

I did manage to see a ship – away in the distance – and so I’ve no idea what type of ship it might have been. Not even cropping and blowing it up (the copped photo, not the ship) could give me much of a clue.

Later still though, there was a huge ship away to port, and that was easier to identify once I enlarged the photo that I took. That was another cruise ship, but one of the big ones with 10 decks and about 3,000 passengers. I’m glad I’m not on that.

Just before going out of bed I stuck my head out of the door. And I’m glad that I did because I was treated to the most glorious sunset – one of the best that I have ever seen. And there was only me out there to enjoy it so I had it all to myself.

Back in my cabin I settled down to try to watch a film but after about 10 minutes or so I gave that up, turned everything off and went to sleep. And quite right too.It’s amazing just how tired you become when you have been doing nothing all day.

Wednesday 1st August 2018 – TODAY’S TASK …

… was to start to clean up and tidy up.

And having had something like a reasonable sleep last night, I was probably feeling more like it this morning.

But first, there was a little task to perform. Last night I did a duplicate file search on a few of the directories that I had been sorting. But my file eliminator wasn’t able to handle the 3.1gb of files and stalled. And I wasn’t in the mood last night to restart it.

So this morning I set it off again. And it took a good couple of hours to work its way through the files that I had found. As a result it was a rather late breakfast this morning.

When I was eventually ready, the first job was to attack the fridge. I emptied it out and put the contents on the worktop, and then stuck the fridge in the bath for it to defrost.

While we were defrosting, I washed the fridge shelves and containers. Now they are nice and clean.

It was then the turn of the vacuum cleaner, and the living room and kitchen area had a good going-over, followed by a wash of the kitchen floor with a mixture of bleach, disinfectant and detergent.

That all took me up to lunch so it was off to the wall with my book and my butties. And my lizard too. He was there to meet me and have his pear bits.

Back here I cleaned out the fridge and then put it back where it belongs. It’s had a rearrangement of things too and all of this has made a little more room inside.

But all of this was a little too much for me and I was out like a light for an hour or so. These crashings-out seem to be getting longer and longer, don’t they?

Tea wasn’t very much because I wasn’t all that hungry. A few veg and a vegan burger in gravy. And while it was cooking I did some tidying up in the living room. Aren’t I getting all civilised?

wind farm barneville carteret manche normandy franceIt was a beautiful evening to go for a walk. You could see for miles and miles.

Right away in the distance is the wind farm out near Barneville-Carteret and you could see it quite clearly this evening, even though it’s 70-odd kilometres away by my estimation.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to see it so clearly.

baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy franceAnd that wasn’t all either.

The view across the Baie de Mont St Michel was impressive too. You could see right down past St Malo all the way down to Cap Fréhel – about 50 or 60 kms away – this evening too.

What was sad though was that there were so few people out there enjoying it. They really did all miss something splendid.

Tomorrow I shall have to do some shopping. So a shower and a walk up to LIDL is called for. I hope that I’ll be in the mood for it because I’ve been feeling the strain just recently.

But the 1st of August already. I wonder where I’ll be at the end of the month?

wind turbines barneville carteret granville manche normandy france
wind turbines barneville carteret granville manche normandy france

Tuesday 17th April 2018 – SO THERE I WAS …

… bright-eyed and bushy-tailed leaping out of bed as soon as the alarm clock rang, ready to fight the good fight for yet another day.

And then I awoke from the exciting dream that I was having – something to do with a cake of some description and my mother (although I shudder to think what it might have been) – and it took me a good ten minutes and three alarm calls to shake off the feeling of impending doom that I was having.

And i’m not sure why that was either.

We had the usual morning ritual which involved a good 20-minute search for the apple-and-rhubarb purée that I knew that I had (and which came to light about 20 minutes after I had finished breakfast) and then a little pause while I tidied myself up and gathered my wits (which, considering how many wits I have these days, takes much longer than it ought to).

Having finally organised myself, I set out for the shops. First stop was Kruidvat and the gelatine-free sweet counter. i’m heading off tomorrow and I shan’t encounter another Kruidvat after this.

Next stop was Delhaize for the baguetteand the stuff for breakfast and lunch tomorrow. With my early start I won’t have time to track down any fresh bread so I need to organise myself now.

And just for a change, there was no-body doing anything unusual in the supermarket. That incident with the punnet of strawberries has affected me just as much as the other incident in LeClerc did the other day, the one where the woman insisted that they weighed her fruit and veg before they bagged it.

The walk back here was quite uneventful, but I did stop at a café for a morning coffee and a little relax by the sea. And I fell in with one of the workmen digging these holes on the promenade and it seems that my guess is correct. They are indeed digging out for a new underground car park.

As I have always said – if you want to know the answer you have to ask the question.

While I was working on the laptop I found myself going off with the fairies which I found quite surprising. It wasn’t as if I hadn’t had a good sleep during the night, was it?

But it didn’t last long and I soon recovered enough to make my butties and head out to the street.

concrete pumping barge oostende harbour belgiumAnd boarded the ferry down the road just in time to see one of the barges at the cement works flushing out its pipes into the open harbour.

At least, that’s what I assume that it was doing. It certainly wasn’t smoke that was coming out of that pipe over there.

In case you are wondering, which I’m sure you are, there’s not only the offshore works going on for the extension to the wind farm but there’s a huge construction project on dry land just here where the old loading bay for the former RMT ferries from Oostende to Dover is being converted into the new city bus station.

taking a dog for a walk in a trolley oostende belgiumNow, how about this?

I’ve seen people carry dogs around in their arms, in a push-chair (yes, I have), in a bicycle trailer, but this beats just about everything, doesn’t it? Taking your mutt “for a walk” in a box attached to the frame of an old bagging truck.

I just don’t see the point of any of this. I thought that the whole idea of having a dog was so that it would fit in with your lifestyle. So why have a dog that needs to be dragged around like this?

I’m a cat person, not a dog person as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, but even I reckon that if you are going to have a dog, you have a DOG, not something that looks like a drowned rat that can’t run about and have fun.

The wind had changed round today so my little sunny nook from yesterday was ruled out. But farther along the beach I found another sheltered spot to eat my butties. And I had a good hour in the sun with my book. It really was starting to become a very pleasant afternoon.

shipping english channel oostende belgiumAs I have said before … "and you’ll say again" – ed … Oostende is a ship-spotter’s paradise.

There were tons of shipping out there in the English Channel again today as always but unfortunately far too far out to sea to properly identify. I wish we could persuade them to come in closer to the coast line the 18th Century wreckers did.

That would provide a bit of excitement for the holidaymakers around here, wouldn’t it?

One of the reasons why they can’t come in closer is because there are some sandbanks out there.

wind farm english channel oostende belgiumAnd as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, they are building a wind farm out there and we saw in the harbour the other day the masts of some of the turbines.

A few of the turbines have already been erected and although they are quite a good distance out to sea, the telephoto lens will pick them up and with a little bit of “crop and enlarge” and other kinds of enhancement we can at least manage to see them in principle.

It was quite a pleasant walk all the way down to the café where I had stopped yesterday.

And yesterday there were just two or three of us. Today, with the beautiful weather, they were queueing out of the door to be served and it wasn’t all that easy to find a good place to sit.

All in all I was there for a good 45 minutes drinking coffee and reading my book in the sunshine and (as I noticed later this evening) I am even sunburnt a little (no, it ISN’T rust). I certainly wasn’t expecting this.

zeebrugge belgiumThe promenade ends here but I carried on a little way through the dunes because from up here if the weather is good there is an excellent view.

On a good day you can see all the way down the coast as far as Zeebrugge, and probably beyond as well.

We were certainly having that kind of weather today and the view was really excellent. And that doesn’t include the view that I had of the rather solitary gentleman whom I surprised in my assault on the hilltop.

He certainly wasn’t expecting to be disturbed, lurking as he was amongst the dunes.

atlantic wall oostende belgiumBut that’s not all that there is to see up here either.

We’ve talked … "at great length" – ed … about the fortifications of the Atlantic Wall that the Germans had built to protect the north-west European coast from invasion and I even live just a couple of hundred metres from some of the fortifications.

But this part of the coast was certainly the most crucial from the point of view of the Germans. Probably the shortest crossing, the easiest access to the interior and several major ports in the immediate vicinity, most of the effort of the Germans was concentrated in the strip between Boulogne and Antwerp.

Even out here, you can stumble unexpectedly upon parts of the fortifications hidden in the dunes.

My walk back to the harbour was relatively slow under the burning sun and there was nothing whatever of any excitement to break up the journey.

hms vindictive oostende belgium Nothing, that is, except a working party tidying up the bows of HMS Vindictive.

It’s 100 years ago this year since her rather futile attempt to block the harbour mouth here to prevent German submarines heading out into the English Channel and beyond and they are planning on having some kind of celebration. So I suppose they want her to look her best.

The ferry was in when I arrived so I didn’t have to wait too long. And I was soon across on the other side.

By now if anything it was somewhat hotter, but the ice-cream stall came to the rescue. Non-dairy sorbets are much more widespread than they were and the banana sorbet here is delicious. I adjourned to a bench on the promenade overlooking the sea with my ice-cream sorbet and my book and soaked up some more sun.

container ship english channel oostende belgiumIn the distance a huge container ship was heading our way and so I waited patiently for it to arrive. But before it reached me it had a touch of the old right-hand down a little and headed off out further away from shore.

As a result I can’t tell you very much about it, and even the view isn’t all that clear. No matter how good your photo equipment might (or might not) be, it can only do so much.

By 18:00 the temperature was cooling down so I headed off back to my hotel room. And at the entrance to the hotel I encountered yet another specimen of the whining, moaning Brit wbo didn’t like this, didn’t like that, didn’t like something else.

So I reminded him of how much he was paying to stay here, but that had no effect whatsoever.

That really is the one thing that totally annoys me. It’s all very well not having certain facilities if you aren’t actually paying for them. I’m paying €110 for three nights accommodation here (without breakfast, without wifi in the room and so on, of course) but the place is clean and tidy, the staff is helpful, the rooms are comfortable, it’s a quiet hotel and it’s 100 metres from the beach.

Where else are you going to get that here in Oostende?

I have to admit that there really are times when I am ashamed to admit that I’m British when I encounter people like him in mainland Europe.

With all of the effort that I had been through during the day I was feeling a little weary and so I lay down on the bed for a quick 10 minutes.

But 10 minutes. 19:55 when I awoke. More like 110 minutes I reckon. But I’m not complaining. I have a very early start in the morning so I need my sleep.

falafel damas restaurant oostende belgiumRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that last year I discovered a Syrian restaurant run by a couple of refugees. That was my destination for tonight.

And I do have to say that it really was an excellent choice because the meal was just as good as the one that I had had last time.The falafel was cooked to perfection and there were enough chips to feed a small army.

A choice of sauces too, so I chose garlic sauce. And if I could make mine emulsify like theirs I would be an extremely happy bunny.

Back here I packed away the stuff that I don’t need now and then went for an early night. I started to watch a film on the laptop but after about 20 minutes Iswitched it off and settled down to go to sleep.

Like I said – an early start in the morning.

Monday 16th April 2018 – I’M PAYING …

… €110 (well, €118 with taxes) for three nights in this hotel and I do have to say that I’ve not had such a good deal as this in most other places where I’ve stayed.

No breakfast of course at that price but I’ve brought my own, left over from the place in Leuven so that’s no big deal. But the bed was so comfortable for a cheap bed that I was out like a light and stayed out for quite a good while.

That didn’t stop me going on a midnight ramble though. I was in some kind of tower last night – a tower that was some kind of tourist attraction. Right at the top of it I was. But for some reason there was nothing that interested me and I was more interested in seeing how quickly I could descend to the ground. Old women, schoolgirls, families – nothing slowed me down and I was bowling them over like ninepins in my race to the bottom. Outside, I was just leaning on a fence in some kind of depression when I was tapped on the shoulder. Two people – a young man and his girlfriend – from his party were there and they were desperately trying to cheer me up – telling me about all of the machinery that was still in this mill and how there were a couple of big old engines in the cellar that were used to manufacture electricity. But nothing seemed to haul me out of my depression.

Nothing seemed to haul me out of my stinking pit either. After all of the exertions of yesterday I was aching in places that I didn’t even realise that I had, and I thought that my fitbit was really taking the mickey when it told me that “your activity yesterday will really benefit your health”.

After our usual morning performance I had breakfast and then, shame as it is to admit it, I closed my eyes and was away with the fairies for at least half an hour. I definitely did too much yesterday.

But you can’t keep a good man down for long – nor me neither for that matter – and I was out on the streets again.

potted cactus delhaize oostende belgiumOff on a walk down to the Delhaize supermarket for some shopping and a baguette for lunch. I have to eat;

And this is the kind of thing that would bring tears to the eyes of many single women. I’m not quite sure of the purpose of this display but it was certainly interesting from an aesthetic point of view.

And we had yet another delightful scene in here too – of a woman weighing the punnets of strawberries (clearly labelled 500 grammes) to find out which one had the most in it. I thoroughly despair of the human nature that is within some people.

Back here I had a few things to do and then I made my butties for lunch and hit the streets yet again.

early citroen 2cv van oostende belgiumBut not very far – just outside the hotel where the people who run the bar opposite were unloading stuff from their van.

And you only need to look at the corrugated bonnet to tell you that this is one of the earliest generations of 2CV vans. And that makes it something of a rare beast. you don’t see too many of the cars of this generation about these days (although regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we do know someone who has one) never mind the vans.

In fact, thinking about it, with the Healey 3000 on Saturday, the Ponton last night and now the 2CV, I’ve seen more interesting vehicles this last three days than I have over the last three months.

new sea wall piling for new quay oostende belgiumHaving dealt with the 2CV, my route took me along the promenade again in the general direction of the railway station.

And past some very interesting works going on down on the beach with them building a sort-of lego wall there on the right to stop the sand drifting over the new causeway that they had built a couple of years ago.

And there was some piling work going on at the end of the older, previous causeway that was the harbour mouth. So it looks as if the work on the modernisation of the harbour is going to be going on and on.

free ferry oostende harbour belgiumIt’s always a bad idea for me to see a ferry. I get in such a bad mood because, of course, every time I see a ferry it makes me cross.

And of course there is a free ferry from near the aquarium that goes across the harbour to the commercial side of the docks where there are many of the fortifications still remaining from World War II, and also from World War I when Oostende was an important German submarine base.

There was only a short wait until the ferry put in its appearance too.

wind turbine offshore towers oostende belgiumWe saw these towers yesterday and I had been wondering what they were.

And so seeing as I was in the company of Master Bates, Seaman Staines and Roger the Cabin Boy aboard the Good Ship Ven .. err … Roger Raveel, I enquired of one of them what was going on.

It seems that they are the masts of more wind turbines for the offshore wind farm, whose headquarters you may remember we visited last time we were here. And the ships that are dodging in and out of the harbour are supply ships for the construction of the extension to the wind farm.

derelict shipyard oostende belgiumBeing decanted onto the other side of the harbour, I threaded my way through the network of canals and locks that form the entrances to the various little avant-ports and found myself in the shipyard.

The shipyard was built in 1931 apparently but not much ship repairing goes on there these days. It’s pretty derelict.

The increase in size of ships and the decline of the fishing industry, as well as new high standards for pleasure boat construction, have put paid to hundreds of little yards like this.

derelict fishing boat shipyard oostende belgiumBut despite the air of dereliction, the yard wasn’t empty.

There was still this old fishing boat here, up on chocks and fenced off from the public. It’s looking very much the worse for wear these days and like the yacht from Delaware that we saw yesterday, this one won’t be going anywhere any time soon either.

As a fishing boat, you might say that it’s had its chips.

In our quest for yet another Ship of the Day today I wandered around the headland to see what I would see.

piling barge oostende harbour belgiumBut the first thing that I saw was the barge with the piling machine scuttling off presumably for its lunch break.

Subsequent enquiries revealed that they are still working on the harbour with the intention of providing a safe haven for ships of up to 150 metres in length (which will be quite impressive from my point of view) and the work will continue for quite a while.

Not only that, according to the architect’s drawings, there seems to be the intention to put some kind of amenity building over there at the head of the old harbour entrance.

That would be a pleasant addition to the amenities offered to tourists by the town.

supply ship wind farm oostende belgiumThere was a ship sailing … "dieseling" – ed … about in the distance.

Of course I can’t be sure about it but judging by the gear that it had on board it looked as if it might be one of the supply ships for the new wind farm that they are building.

And so with the aid of the zoom telephoto lens I was able to have a good shot of it so that I could inspect it at my leisure.

But I was interrupted by a French couple who enquired about the piece of the bow of HMS Vindictive (which, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, is stuck on a plinth just here, and which, because of the distraction, I forgot to photograph).

Of course it’s the kind of thing that I’ve talked about before … "at great length" – ed … so I was able to tell them everything about it. They may not be any the wiser, but they are certainly better-informed.

beach strand oostende belgiumThere was a biting wind out here and it was quite cold too, but I went down onto the beach and found a corner of the beach that was well-sheltered and in a sun-bowl.

And there I sat on the sand and ate my butties.

And read my book

And … errr … had a little relax in the sun.

And why not? It was the first time this year that I had felt really comfortable outside in the nice weather.

shifting sand beach strand oostende belgiumThere is quite a bit of work going on along the beach here right now.

It seems that the sand has drifted quite considerably during the winter, probably with all of the storms that we have had (and if they had the one like we had at the beginning of January that would certainly be the case), and has buried the protective fences.

There are teams of diggers digging out the sand and passing it over to bulldozers which are spreading it out on other parts of the beach.

And judging by the amount of sand that needs shifting, they are going to be here for quite some considerable time.

beachside cafe oostende belgiumA good way along the promenade in the direction of Zeebrugge is a little cafe and this was my destination today.

I’d had a really good walk so far and so I reckoned that I had earned a cup of coffee and a little relaxation. And apart from anything else, there is a gentleman’s restroom here.

So yet another sit in the sun with a coffee, the book and a little repose for half an hour while I gathered my strength for the return journey. It’s a long way back to civilisation from here.

I took a slightly different route on my way back.

container ship english channel oostende belgiumAfter a mile or so I clambered up over the dunes behind the promenade and was rewarded by yet another candidate for “Ship of the Day”.

Never mind the smaller boat in the foreground – it’s hard to tell at this kind of distance whether the ship in the background on the horizon is a container ship or a cruise liner.

But nevertheless it is certainly an impressive sight and I’m glad that I bought the zoom telephoto lens for the new little camera.

fort napoleon oostende belgiumNow this is what I had been clambering over the dunes to see.

We’ve mentioned the World War II fortifications and also the World War I ditto, but there are fortifications from an earlier date here too and the fact that they are built of brick rather than concrete will tell you that they date from before the mid-19th Century.

In fact, this is the Fort Napoleon, built by the aforementioned as part of his defences to keep out the Perfide Albion from invading the Continent.

fort napoleon oostende belgiqueIt had also been a German command post in both World Wars so for some time it’s been on my list of places to visit

Every time that I’ve been to Oostende something has always cropped up to put a stop to any plan that I have had to come here, but not today. And so, in accordance with the usual procedure, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, it’s closed right now to visitors.

Being obliged to scramble over fences and building roofs is not something that has caused me any great difficulty in the past, but it’s not the kind of thing that you do in Belgium. Belgian police have no sense of humour and are notoriously unpredictable in their reactions.

We have had some … errr … interesting encounters in the past, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall.

harbour basin oostende belgiumOostende was a German submarine base in World War I. A total of 19 were stationed here, of which 15 were lost.

I’ve never been able to find out which was the actual basin that they used, but there is a suggestion that it was apparently behind some kind of harbour gae. If so, this basin could be a very likely candidate.

I don’t think that the sunken boat over there in the corner is one of their victims however.

As an aside, it was announced over the winter that an completely intact and sealed World War I submarine, with just its bows blown off as it it had struck a mine, has been discovered just offshore.

scorpios loodsboot 4 oostende belgiumThis was also in the same basin.

And although she hasn’t sunk, she may as well because she has all the air of being a derelict.

She’s called Scorpios, having at one time been knows as Loodsboot 4 and is described as a “yacht”, although there are a couple of other “Loodsboots” with different suffixes that are described as “pilot tenders”.

Scorpios was actually built here in Oostende, in the Beliard Oostende Scheepwerk, but a long time ago. 1950 to be exact. She has a displacement of 499 tonnes and is registered in Antwerp.

scorpios loodboot 4 oostende belgiumAs for her builders, the company was founded in Antwerp in 1877 but set up here in Oostende in 1923. The company’s main output was fishing boats.

The name of the company changed on many occasions as the smaller shipyards combined in order to remain viable, but the decline of the fishing industry saw the company finally slide into bankruptcy in 1994.

Their yard remained derelict for many years but was finally swept away in the modernisation of the port of Oostende in 2008

harbour gates oostende belgiumHeading back to the ferry I was lucky enough to be standing on top of one of the lock gates when the siren went off to tell me that the gate was about to open. I had to get a move on to avoid falling into the lock.

It’s that time of the day of course when the tide is coming in, up to the level of the water in the smaller docks and harbours and so they are opening the gates to allow traffic to proceed in and out.

And as luck would have it, right at this moment there were two fishing boats, O190 and O191, preparing to leave the harbour.

trawler 0190 0191 harbour oostende belgiumThey were queued up at the inner gate (being a tidal harbour there is a double-set of lock gates here, one opening inwards and the other opening outwards).

Fishing is not something that is as common today as it was 50 years ago. In those days there would have been whole fleets of smaller coastal fishing boats in ports like Oostende but with the amount of over-fishing that took place, the fishing fleets have declined as quickly as the amount of fish that they used to catch.

Nowadays it’s mainly huge deep-sea trawlers that work on a more industrial basis out of the bigger ports.

seafront redevelopment oostende belgiumBack on the western side of the harbour my walk along the promenade took me past yet more redevelopment.

When I first started coming to Oostende 40-odd years ago the whole sea-front area was nothing but nice belle-epoque villas from the lats 19th Century and small, cheap down-market hotels.

But today there’s almost nothing from that period remaining. It’s all been bulldozed away and replaced by modern holiday flats that cost an arm and a leg to buy or to rent. It’s just not the same as it used to be and I personally think that much of the character of the town has gone.

Nevertheless, it’s still one of the places that I enjoy the most for a little break for a couple of days and I’ll keep on coming here for as long as I can find some reasonably-priced accommodation close to the sea front.

acl container ship oostende belgiumIt has some nice beaches, good walks, good, cheap rail connections to just about everywhere and not the least of the reasons being that it’s situated on one of the busiest shipping lanes in the World.

Out there on the horizon miles away but we can see quite well thanks to the telephoto lens is a ship that, i reckon, is almost certainly a container ship.

And although it’s difficult to tell at this distance, it seems to be “outbound” to the North Atlantic. That looks to me like the blunt end to the right of the photograph.

And in any case, traffic is regulated in the English Channel because of the volume of traffic, and westbound traffic is routed on the southern side. “Drive on the left”

Back at the hotel I had a little … errr … relax for half an hour or so and then later went out in search of food for tea.

The Syrian restaurant that I like and which does excellent falafelschotels was open, but so was the good Italian restaurant next door. But that was displaying a “closed on Tuesday” notice on the door so it looks like falafel tomorrow then and Italian meal tonight.

The penne al arrabiata here, zonder kaas of course, is wicked and it does have to be said that had there been a fridge in my hotel room I would have put the toilet paper in it ready for tomorrow. But I enjoyed every mouthful of it and I’ll be back here again next time I come to stay in Oostende.

On the way back to the hotel i was swept up in a party of kids streaming out of the Youth Hostel on their way to the beach for some late-evening amusement but I came back here to wash my clothes, to have a shower and take an early night. No internet up here in the rooms so instead I watched a film on the laptop.

And I made it down to the end too, for the first time in quite a while.

So now to settle down for a good night. The next night won’t be anything like as comfortable as this one. The alarm will be going off at 05:30 for a start and that’s enough to dampen anyone’s enthusiasm.

At least I can sleep on the train on Wednesday morning though.

Wednesday 29th November 2017 – I THOUGHT …

COMBATTANT granville manche normandy france… that we had seen the back of the Combattant today.

This afternoon, after a rather late lunch, I braved the games yet again. And this was probably the strongest of the strong winds that we have been experiencing just recently.

Just three or four of us out and about there were, and that’s no surprise either, even though there was a blue sky and a nice sun. But at least I got to see Combattant steaming … "dieseling" – ed … out of the harbour and off into the afternoon sun.

I missed the seconf alarm today. having had a good night’s sleep it was the first alarm that awoke me at 06:00, and I remember noting that at 06:06 and I ought to be getting up very soon. But instead, I must have dropped off again and I was still in bed when the second alarm went

For breakfast I tried a novel approach. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I bought a coffee machine the other day, but it won’t keep warm. And I bought a thermos flask last week. So I made a pot full of coffee this morning and poured it into the flask to drink during the day.

It sort-of kept warm for much of the day but by 16:30 when I came back from my walk the heat had gone off. But at least it’s some kind of progress for now.

And as for the highlight of the day, I took some of the rubbish to the Container outside. Or was it making a fresh load of muesli? How about that?

Tea tonight was pepper stuffed with bulghour, tomato, olive, onion, garlic and peanuts on a bed of pasta, frozen peas and fresh carrots tossed in a tomato sauce. And delicious it was too.

Later on, I went for a solitary perambulation around the city walls in the hurricane. Clear skies, visible stars, and the lights at Jersey and those on the wind turbines at Barneville Carteret clearly visible again.

No cat, but Commandant was back working again – obviously gone to empty itself of a load of silt earlier.

Back here, no electricity. There’s something tripping the fuse that works the sockets where the coffee machine, the kettle and the cooking hob are plugged in. That’s about 4 or 5 times that that’s happened now.

Tuesday 28th November 2017 – AND JUST FOR A CHANGE …

… I managed to get out and about this evening for my walk.

The weather deteriorated yet again this evening, but the rain stopped round about 20:45 so I set off for my stroll.

The clouds had gone too and despite the howling gale it was another one of these rally clear nights. So much so that not only could you see the lights on Jersey 30-odd miles away, but the red flashing lights on the wind turbines that we saw the other day way out at Barneville-Carteret.

While I was on my way round I saw my feline friend too but he paid little attention to me, being far more interested in stalking a small dog wandering down the street.

JUst by way of yet another change, I awoke early today. At about 04:10. And I thought that I wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep. But I must have been well away because the alarm awoke me at the normal time. And I managed to be out of bed by the time the second alarm went off.

After I take my medication, I usually have to wait about half an hour before I can eat breakfast, and I use that time to see what is happening in the world. Instead, I found two friends of min from the USA on line so we had a chat. And the next thing that I noticed was that it was now 09:45.

Too late for breakfast. I just had a coffee instead.

And in line with my new procedures, I had a shower too. I need to take far more care of myself than I’m doing. And a nice hot soak in a nice warm bathroom (that little halogen heater that I bought all those years ago is really paying dividends) did me the world of good.

After a rather late lunch, I went for my walk around the headland – about three of us there were out there in total. And that’s hardly a surprise given the wind and the overcast sky (it wasn’t yet raining at that point). And I followed up my walk with a coffee and a snooze as usual.

Tea was one of the vegan pies that we made the other Sunday – I need to make some space in the freezer. With mashed potatoes, frozen peas, frozen sprouts and fresh carrots cooked in the steamer, with gravy made from the liquid, it really was delicious, And that was followed by my evening perambulation.

And now it might even be an early night. You never know your luck.

Monday 13th November 2017 – I’VE HAD …

… the worst day that I’ve had for quite some consderable time.

Crawling out of bed at the usual time was the usual performance and after letting my medication work, I had breakfast. And I was fine up to that point.

It was about half an hour later that I crashed out for the first time and that was how it went on for all of the day. Crashing out, sleeping, and whenever I was awake, trying to do things.

I’ve put the washing away and tidied up the shelves in the kitchen to make even more space, abd all of that is quite an achievement considering how bad I’ve been feeling.

jersey channel islands granville manche normandy franceSome time after lunch I reckoned that I would do my best to go outside for a walk, and maybe that might change things around a little.

And I’m glad that I did because it was quite beautiful outside today, and the air was so clear that one could see for miles. Jersey was about the clearest that I’ve ever seen it and so I went back in for the camera.

It’s hard to believe that it’s over 30 miles away from where I’m standing.

And Brigitte was loitering around outside too – lying in wait for me, I reckon.

lighthouse point d'agon wind farm carteret granville manche normandy franceFurther out around the coast I could see as far as the lighthouse at the Pointe d’Agon where I went with Liz and her family. That’s the brownish edifice to the right.

Far out to the left are some rocks that are, I suppose, outlying rocks of the Channel Islands. There’s a lighthouse out there too, and that’s the white building right on the left-hand edge.

There’s a big wind farm out near Barneville-Carteret and you can see that away in the distance behind the lighthouse of the Pointe d’Agon if you look hard enough.

brehal granville manche normandy franceI took a few photos around the coast too.

I’m not sure where that might be over there with the big church. It could well be Brehal, I suppose, although I don’t really know for sure. But it’s certainly an impressive building all the same.

I suppose that I shall have to go for a drive out around there one day to see if I can discover where it is. It shouldn’t be too difficult to find.

wind farm cerences granville manche normandy franceThere’s also a wind farm that you can see from where Liz and Terry live, and scanning the horizon, I managed to see a wind farm that might be the one.

There’s one thing about my new camera and its telephoto lens – that it can pick up views like these abouve, which in some circumstances, like the wind farm near Barneville-Carteret are almost 40 miles away from where I’m standing.

Anyway, I continued with my little walk around the walls and came back home.

I crashed out a couple more times, but summoned up the courage to make a pepper and green bean curry. With plenty left over for freezing.

And I’m going to have an early night. I hope that I feel better tomorrow because I really have been feeling like death today.

Tuesday 28th February 2017 – COLD, GREY, WET, MISERABLE AND WINDY.

sncb oostende railway station belgium february fevrier 2017But that’s enough about me. Let’s talk about Oostende, because that’s where I am right now. And this is the train that brought me here from Leuven – a nice comfortable modern and clean express train. And we didn’t have a derailment either.

Having been liberated from the hospital for the next 6 weeks, and having things to do around Belgium this coming weekend, there’s no point in going home. I may as well go and find the seaside for a few days.

As seems to be the custom these days, one really good night is followed by one that is really bad. And last night was no exception.

By the time that I’d finished everything that I had to do, it was almost midnight, so I didn’t listen to the radio at all but simply switched off the laptop and settled down for the night. I’m not sure whether I dozed off at any time, but I do know that at 05:00 I was up and going for a stroll down the corridor – and hasn’t it been ages since I’ve had to do that?

I must have gone to sleep after that because the alarm awoke me at 07:00 as usual. I just about made it to breakfast where I was joined by my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder friend up to his usual antics, and my Dutch/Russian friend who wanted a long chat – but he must be joking.

This appetite thing is getting to me too because I decided that rather than throw most of my breakfast into the rubbish bin as I seem to have been doing these last few days, I’d just have a slice of toast. And if I’m off my food you know that something is really wrong;

After a relax, I packed up my stuff, said goodbye to the aforementioned Dutch/Russian guy and hit the streets, in the direction of the railway station.

And once there, I had a choice of two trains for me, the 10:19 changing at Gent St Pieters on the stopping train, or else the 10:34 direct to Oostende. Only 15 minutes difference so I chose the latter, which is just as well because at that moment my suitcase fell apart. Rather, the dragging handle broke off and that rather defeats the purpose of bringing it instead of the big shoulder bag that I usually take with me. I knew that there was a reason why this lives in the back of Caliburn – now I remember why, that it’s not up to all that much. I have a couple of others at home but I’m clearly going to have to buy another one before I go much farther.

ancient abandoned diesel multiple unit leuven belgium february fevrier 2017This time I’d come prepared, with the big Nikon handy. On the way out of the station we took the same track as the other day close to the carriage sidings and I could take a much better photograph of the front bit of that ancient multiple unit that’s parked up here.

And it looks even worse at a higher resolution, the poor thing. It really does need a good home

ancient abandoned railway carriage leuven belgium february fevrier 2017That’s not all that there was that was exciting over there.

There’s some kind of ancient carriage parked up there too. With a rear platform like that it looks something like out of the wild west that we encountered in New Mexico when we were on our travels over there in 2002.

I don’t recall seeing photos of anything like this on Belgian rails, but you never know

site of leuven belgium railway derailment 18 february fevrier 2017We took the high ground out of Leuven and passed above where the railway derailment had been on the 18th of February. You can see quite a bit of debris still by the side of the line, and the new ballast where the track has been relaid.

When I passed by here the other day on my way to Lokeren I hadn’t been quick enough to photograph it – but today I was ready with the Nikon and so I could add it in.

strand oostende beach belgium february fevrier 2017The weather was really confusing today. When we arrived at the railway station it was cold and wet, with a gale blowing that threatened to whip off my cap.

But then the clouds blew away, the sun came out and although the wind didn’t drop, it wasn’t too unpleasant. And then the clouds came back, and brought the rain with them again.

And round and round we went.

offshore wind farm oostende belgium february fevrier 2017We were not the only things that were going round and round either. There’s a wind farm just offshore here at Oostende and the weather was such that they were going round and round too – like the clappers in fact.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I’m a big fam of wind turbines and I’m really surprised that, with all of this wind energy freely available, that other countries don’t take advantage of it.

I can count on on hand the number of commercial wind turbines in New Brunswick and Labrador – all of this free energy going completely to waste.

ship oostende belgium february fevrier 2017How long is it since we have had a Ship of the Day? You must have noticed the big one out near the wind farm, and so I cropped a part out of the photograph and blew it up. I can do this kind of thing despite modern terrorism legislation.

I’ve no idea what kind of ship it is, but the flattish front makes me think that it might be some kind of ro-ro freighter, and the load that it’s carrying is suggestive of railway wagons.

However I don’t know of any rail-freighter operating around here since the closure of Dover Western Docks.

fishing boat oostende belgium february fevrier 2017We can have another Ship of the Day while we are at it.

As you know from our previous visits to Oostende, fishing is the big thing here since the ending of the Oostende Ferries. We’ve visited the big fishmarket and seen the outdoor stalls. The fish is mostly fresh out of the sea, due to the fishing fleet that’s based here in the port.

Here’s one of the aforementioned on its way out to sea. It’ll be back here in the small hours and its catch will be on the market shortly afterwards

kursaal casino oostende belgium february fevrier 2017While you admire the rear of the Casino, having seen the front last time I was here, I headed off to my hotel.

It’s the same one as last time, the excellent and impressive Hotel Imperial, and I have the same coach-driver’s room that I had last time, stuck down in the corner. Last time that I was here it was a dark red – today it’s a light blue with yellow and green stripes

strand oostende beach belgium february fevrier 2017It was about 12:30 when I arrived and the receptionist, efficient, polite and as curt as ever, told me that check-in time was 15:00 and if I would like to leave my bags in the luggage store in the basement and come back then, she’d register me in.

And so I went off for a butty and then had a good walk along the seafront in the biting wind and watery sunshine to find a café. A nice hot mug of coffee was definitely on the cards.

villa maritza strand oostende beach belgium february fevrier 2017Having dealt with the food and coffee issues, I went to continue my walk along the promenade. I ended up at the Villa Maritza – one of the last vestiges of the Belle Epoch along the seafront here in Oostende.

Originally known as the Villa rosenda, it dates from 1885 and was the home of the manager of the casino at the turn of the 20th Century.

In the 1980s it was abandoned and threatened with demolition, but was bought by the local council. They used the upper floor as offices while a restaurant occupied the ground floor. Now it’s undergoing a process of renovation.

I made it to the beach too, but didn’t stay out there too long what with the wind. It really was savage. But finally it was time for me to head back to the Imperial and book myself in.

What I didn’t like was the booking clerk looking at me. “You’ve been here before, haven’t you?”. No wonder that there was no silverware on display and there were no young and nubile serving wenches loitering in the vicinity. Anyway, I headed up to my room

First thing that I did was to unpack my stuff.
Second thing that I did was to have a beautiful hot shower and to wash my clothes – and of course I had some clean ones from the launderette on Sunday.
Third thing that I did was to lie down on the bed and to close my eyes for five minutes. My eyelids were terribly heavy.

fishing trawler strand oostende beach belgium february fevrier 2017A couple of hours I was out for, and a good couple of house it was too. It mush have been a good walk that I had had, that’s all I can say.

Both Liz and Alison were on line so I had a good chat with both of them to pass the time of day in pleasant company, and this tookme nicely up to tea time. There’s a nice little fritkot across town and that’s where I decided to aim for.

That wasn’t as easy as it might have been, seeing as by now the rain was absolutely streaming down. I had the usual joke with the night porter about
“How can you tell when it’s summer in Belgium?”
“Well, the rain is usually much warmer”.

strand oostende beach belgium february fevrier 2017Of course, having gone all of that way, I discovered that the place was closed tonight. That was rather odds-on wasn’t it?

Instead, I walked back to the fritkot down the road from here and had a falafel butty for tea instead. Wasn’t quite the same but this really wasn’t the weather to go about exploring.

Instead, I found my way back to my hotel room and called it an early night. I was pretty well exhausted after my long day out and the distances that I had travelled.

And it’s not looking good for the weekend when I need to be on my best behaviour, is it?

Wednesday 21st September 2011 – I’VE BEEN …

… in the USA today. But it was not without difficulty.

At Smugglers Road or whatever it’s called, they don’t issue entry permits, so I had to come all the way back to Centreville – so much for the shortcut.

And at Centreville, a tiny border guard had a real panic attack when I followed him into his office – accusing me on “invading his personal space” which is great coming from someone who earns his living searching people’s luggage. And the credit card machine to pay for my permit, so I had to leave my passport and credit card as hostage until I came back.

wind turbine bridgewater maine usaFirst stop was at the petrol station on the corner of US 1 at Bridgewater, Maine. And this looks quite impressive, doesn’t it? A lovely big wind turbine right by the convenience store here.

And as for fuel, it’s $3:89 per gallon, not all that much cheaper than that place near Fredericton – Keswick or some such name

mars hill windfarm maine usaThis is my next-door neighbour – the Mars Hill Windfarm. There are 28 wind turbines here, built by one of my former employers, and each one has a theoretical capability of producing 1.5 megawatts.

Totally impressive beasts they are, and I am proud to have them as my neighbours. But to find them from the USA side of the border wasn’t all that easy, surprise as it might seem. They had me running around a bit.

From here, I went into Presque Ile and the Lowe’s D-i-Y shop. And this is where I made a sad discovery. Ryobi tools are only sold by Home Depot, and the nearest Home Depot is 3 hours away in Bangor.

cooks florists presque ile maine usaOn the way out of Presque Ile, I noticed this sign outside the local florists, and so I had to stop to take a photograph of it. Sad as it might be to see this sign, I’m relieved that at least it’s not just the UK that is suffering from a lack of basic literacy skills.

Still, I don’t suppose that I should be too catty about their sign should I?

double eagle II transatlantic balloon flight launch site presque ile maine usaThis was one of the things that I had come over to the USA to see. It’s the site of the take-off of Double Eagle II, the balloon that made the first successful transatlantic balloon crossing (the fourteenth official attempt), and the site is only a short drive from Presque Ile.

It left here on August 11 1978 with a crew of 3 and crossed the Irish coast on the evening of 16th August, and finally came to earth in northern France the next day

mg midget bridgewater maine usaFrom here I went back to the border but I ended up being sidetracked once again.

This old MG is sitting on someone’s lawn on the back road to the border and so I was obliged to take a photo of it, poor thing. I can’t think why anyone would leave it here like this, given the value that a car likie this would have either as a restoration project or as parts.

But if it stays here much longer, there won’t be any of it left to do anything with.

Finally back at the border, I picked up my passport and credit card so I could then go back to Rachel’s. But that wasn’t easy either as the guy on the Canadian side of the border was also really grouchy and grumpy.

I just don’t know where they dig these people up.

Saturday 10th September 2011 – I’M OFF ON MY TRAVELS AGAIN

mars hill windfarm maine usa new brunswick canadaAnd not before time either because if I stay too long in one place I put down roots and that would never do, would it?

And that’s the view behind me – the plains of New Brunswick with the wind farm at Mars Hill over to the right of the photo. And my little share of Canada is on the very extreme right-hand edge of the photo, on the down slope of the mountain.

How happy am I?

highway 630 new brunswick canadaThe road beyond Woodstock is fairly uneventful until I turn off onto Highway 630 and then I’m presented with this road. 58 kilometres of it too and isn’t this just like old times on the Trans-Labrador Highway?

It’s so much better going this way than going by the motorway. I’m not in any particular rush and can take my time, and quite right too. But never mind what might be on the other side of the hill – I can’t even tell what might be just around the bend

highway 4 railway line USA new brunswick canadaI arrive at a junction with Highway 4 which is for some reason or other not on the SatNav. The turning to the left is signposted for the USA so I must be very close to the border, so I’m where I want to be;

As for the railway line, this is probably the line that runs from Saint John to Montreal via the USA and was used quite heavily in the winter when Montreal was frozen up in the days before icebreakers and all of the produce was shipped by rail to Saint John.

bayside ferry wharf terminal sant croix river new brunswick canadaThis is the Bayside wharf and ferry terminal judging by the sign. It’s private property but seeing as it’s open, I go for a wander around but there’s no-one about to ask any questions.

The drive down to the gates is quite secluded and so I’ve pencilled in a little place in the back of my mind in case I can’t find anywhere better to park up for the night. That gap in between those two trailers looks quite inviting

ile sainte croix river maine usaOver there is the Ile de Sainte Croix, Saint Croix Island. It’s significant in that as far as I can tell, it was the first coastal colony of the French, being settled in 1604 (all previous colonies were in the St Lawrence).

Of the 79 colonists, 35 died and so many others were close to death that they all moved away to Port Royal across the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia.

Ironically, Champlain described an autopsy that had been performed upon one of the deceased, and when a cemetery was discovered here fairly recently, one of the bodies uncovered had suffered the “injuries” in the post-mortem that were so well-described by Champlain.

And modern scientist, on examining the remains, concluded that most, if not all of the deaths, were due to scurvy

st andrews by night new brunswick canadaNow that I’m within touching distance of St Andrews it won’t do any harm to go for a look around, even if it the sun is setting quite quickly. Still, I can always do my best to take a photo to give you an idea of how it looks.

And I’m pretty disappointed in that there’s a 1920s type of Ford, which is probably an A-type, parked up at the side of the road and it’s too dark to take a photo of it. I hope that it will be there tomorrow.

mysterious red light st andrews new brunswick canadaBut wait a minute – whatever is this?

There’s a red light here up in the sky – in the top right-hand corner of the photo is a steady red light (otherwise it would never have come out in the photo) rather than a flashing red light that you might see from an aeroplane.

I thought that it might be a radio mast – a Loran-C or something like that, but I came back here in the morning and there was nothing that could have been my red light. So it’s a mystery.

And in the absence of a better proposition, I’ve gone back to the wharf and that’s where I’ll be staying the night.

Thursday 8th September 2011 – WATERFALL

mars hill wind farm turbine maine usaI had another excellent night’s sleep and yet another really vivid dream. As a result I wake up fully refreshed at … errr … 08:30, which, after going to bed at 10:00, is something of a record for North America.

We’re still in wet and clammy weather after yesterday of course but slowly the morning brightens up, and not before time either.

I eventually go round to the garage and have a good long chin-wag with everyone there, and even help Darren MoT a car. Once I’ve done that I head off to Woodstock to try my luck at the council again.

mars hill wind farm new brunswick canada maine usaI’m at a place that’s probably 9 kilometres south of a place called Lakeville on the brow of a high ridge. I’ve no idea how far that is away from where the wind turbines are but you can see them for miles.

It’s a magnificent view though isn’t it? You can see exactly why they installed the wind turbines up there. There’s nothing around for miles to interrupt the flow of wind.

By the time I got to Woodstock I was half a … &#34yawn;" – ed … and much to my surprise the council offices are open.

The girl there is very helpful – tells me some of what I can and can’t do.

There’s a good place to eat my butty down on the river bank and then wander off to do some shopping (well, not much because apart from gas there isn’t anything much else that I need right now) and then back home (and isn’t it nice to be able to say that here in Canada?)

jacksons falls new brunswick canadaI’ve taken a little deviation to the North Branch Meduxnekeag River (and I hope that I’ve spelt that correctly).

The reason why I’ve come here is that I saw a sign down the road pointing this way that said “Jackson’s Falls” and the name looked interesting.

As for the falls – well, I have to admit that I’ve seen better but they do look quite attractive.

dominion bridge company lachine bridge jacksons falls new brunswick canadaThe bridge might not look like very much but what caught my eye was that it carried a maker’s plate, and that’s not something that you see every day.

It was built by the Dominion Bridge Company in Lachine, which is where the rapids are, just outside Montreal, in 1928. And so it made me wonder how people crossed the river back before then. Did we have a ramshackle timber bridge, or did people have to ford the river as best as they could?

And on that note, I could go back home.

Wednesday 7th September 2011 – WHAT A DAY!

I thought that I suffered from claustrophobia but having spent almost 24 hours inside the Dodge and only going outside once, it’s clearly not the case.

I didn’t move a muscle – hardly an inch away from the side of the vehicle. Mind you, with the weather that we are having it’s hardly any surprise.

It p155ed down all day long and the most I managed to do was to go out and fit the solar panel on the roof of the car. And that was when I had my only interaction with anyone. The dog from over the road came across the road barking at me.

Eventually the lady owner came out and called it back in. “It’s not a problem” I shouted to her but for all the notice that she took of me I might as well have just held my breath. They are a weird lot around here, that’s for sure.

sunset over mars hill wind farm maine usaThe sun finally made some kind of brief appearance late in the evening, peering out from underneath the cloud right over the wind turbines on Mars Hill.

I suppose that it’s symbolic in a certain sense, but I dunno.

But on the positive side, I’m nice and comfortable in the Dodge and I’ve had a nice relaxing day not doing much. But it was a good decision so far to hire a vehicle like this and kit it out as a camper. How it all pans out of course remains to be seen.

Monday 20th June 2011 – I didn’t get my early night last night.

I had a diversion from my plans.

You might remember that I am now the proud owner of some Transatlantic real estate – an acre and a half at Mars Hill Road in New Brunswick, Canada, right next door to one of the biggest wind farms in the USA. And you might gather that I have plans for this land – to erect a couple of wind turbines and have my own little windfarm on it.

Startling news came in last night, that the Canadian Government has bought the power output of the American windfarm.

Now there’s only one way that they can run a cable from the Mars Hill wind farm over to Canada, and that’s via my land. And if all of the cabling is in place, it will save me a fortune when I build my own wind farm. I might be sitting on a gold mine here.

And so with all of the excitement I didn’t get to sleep until I dunno what time, and so I missed a lot of the morning. There was still enough time to do some tidying up up here though, and after lunch I set about the garden. I can now get down to the vegetable plots in their raised beds without getting myself stung, pricked or thorned, and I’ve started to saw up the tree that has collapsed all across the garden. What a mess that was.

A solar shower followed by a quick shopping expedition to St Eloy-les-Mines seeing as how I was in no fit state to go on Saturday, and then the Anglo-French group meeting and then that was the end of one of the nicest sunny days of the year.

But it’s not all sun though – I seem to have acquired a wasps’ nest right by the bedroom window. That’s inconvenient.