Tag Archives: Zoe

Saturday 15th January 2022 – HERE I ALL AM …

… not actually sitting in a rainbow, but sitting in my nice comfortable chair in my office thinking that Barry Hay was absolutely right when he said “there’s one thing that I can tell you, man, and that is that it’s good to be back home”.

And after one of the most uneventful journeys that I have ever had too.

In fact the only thing that went wrong during the trip was that the ticket collector caught me having a crafty bite out of my butties. Since 3rd January 2022 it’s against the law to eat on public transport. So he had a good moan at me about it.

The morning started quite bizarrely because although the alarm was due to go off at 05:00 I had left my bed a long time before hand and was busy drinking a coffee and making my sandwiches when the alarm did go off.

Despite the somewhat reduced sleep, I still managed to go off on several voyages during the night. I’d picked up my daughter (!!!) from Crewe Railway Station and we had to go to Edge Hill in Liverpool to catch a boat so we hired a car and drove there. Everyone else stayed on the train. At Edge Hill we had to board this boat to go across the ocean but I can’t remember where now. It involved stepping onto this beach where there were 3 wild animals, an elephant, a tiger and a third animal. The tiger was extremely playful but nevertheless it unnerved me quite a lot as I was trying to walk around this island. It kept trying to pretend to stalk me by getting behind me and attacking me. I had to turn round to face it and chase it away. Then the elephant joined in and started to push me around with its tusk. This was starting to become really out of hand. I had the feeling that this elephant, if I let it, was going to do far more than just play around with me. I told the person who was with me, whoever it was, that if they didn’t do anything to control these animals the elephant was going to have a bullet through the brain. They insisted that it was just being playful but it wasn’t very playful as far as I was concerned and I was determined to deal with this elephant permanently either by having it taken away or else by the fact that I was going to shoot it and I’d do the same to the tiger as well if they didn’t organise themselves any better and control their animals

This was the dream about the “Hawkwind” group about which I’d been thinking. There were a couple of girls called Aral or Araf, something like that, who had joined as well but that was all it was really, about the two groups and merging together to perform those Hawkwind tracks that I had mentioned and I can’t remember anything else about it (and I’d love to know what I missed recording that made me dictate this in this particular way).

I was in Canada last night. I’d just arrived. I’d been to a car auction and there was someone there trying to sell one of these minivan things. He didn’t want very much money for it – about £700 or £800 – but it was a non-runner and needed a lot of work doing to it. It was really only suitable for using as a shed or something. There was a big argument going on between a woman and the auctioneers and a couple of other people about this. The next lot to be offered was an old panel van, the type from the 1940s or 50s. I was talking to the girl. This had no engine in it or anything like that so I said “well if it’s only for a garden shed this is what I’d use as it has no windows in it for a start. It turned out that she was only looking for $50 for it and that was much more reasonable.

Then I ended up at my niece’s house. She was saying something like they could only have one egg delivered by the ‘phone. She gave me a letter than hadn’t been opened and asked me to deal with it. It was something about some company stopping deliveries to the house. I rang them up to find out what had happened. It turned out that there had been a delivery to the house 2 years ago but no-one had signed for it so they were recommending to courier companies that they no longer delivered here. That would stymie just about everything for what was going on in Canada with her and so on so I rang up the tyre depot to speak to her daughter. I asked if she knew anything about this company. She replied that that was the company she dealt with. I asked her about this parcel. She said that she remembered it so I told her that she had to ring them back straight away and explain the situation to them otherwise we aren’t going to have any more deliveries. That will bring the business to a halt. She sounded drunk on the phone, something like that, and I couldn’t get any sense out of her. I carried on talking to her but it was still extremely difficult. Trying to give her the phone number was extremely complicated because she wasn’t paying any attention to anything that anyone was telling her. I thought “this is going to end in tragedy, isn’t it?”

martelarenplein leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022There’s a reminder alarm that goes off at 05:30 but at that time I was already down the street on my way to the railway station.

Of course I can’t go and look for a train without checking on how the work in the Martelarenplein is progressing. And the answer to that is, unfortunately, “slowly”. They don’t seem to have made very much progress at all since we were here four weeks ago.

It’ll probably be just the same when I come back here in four weeks’ time, if I do. At the rate at which I’m going, I’m not convinced that I’ll still be here in four weeks’ time. I feel as if my battery has gone completely flat.

557 am 96 multiple unit gare de leuven railway station Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022There’s a choice of three trains to take me to Brussels – the 06:08 stopper, the 06:11 that goes via the airport and the 06:31 direct, all of which arrive at roughly the same time so it makes no difference really which one I catch.

However, the airport train was one of the very comfortable AM96 multiple units. It was already in the station too and looked quite warm and inviting – it was absolutely taters outside – so I clambered aboard that one.

Having gone the long way round, it was 06:58 when it pulled into the Gare du Midi and that left me 45 minutes to wait for my train to Paris. I can cope with that, even if I can’t find anywhere warm and comfortable to sit. I hate these huge, draughty stations where you can’t ever keep out of the wind.

TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt 4538 PBA gare du midi brussels Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022Much to my surprise, the train was announced a long time before the usual 15 minutes. And even more surprisingly, we were actually allowed to board it.

It was quite empty this morning so we had plenty of space to spread out. Not the usual “crammed in like sardines” situation. I made myself comfortable and listened to my Hawkwind concert – the one that I had prepared on my way to Brussels on Wednesday.

And during the journey I did some more work on making notes on the Flatey Book and I could have done more than I did but to tell the truth, I had something of a “relax” for part of the journey.

At the Gare du Nord it took me a few minutes to find a metro ticket that worked, and then I was able to board probably the most crowded metro train that I’ve ever seen

place du 18 juin 1940 paris france Eric Hall photo January 2022At the Montparnasse metro station I came up into the Rue du Départ, plumping for the easier walk on level ground rather than up and down the steps in the labyrinth.

Behind where I come out of the bowels of the earth is the Boulevard Montparnasse and the Place du 18 Juin 1940. I wlked from down that way somewhere when I did my TRAVERSEE DE PARIS during the strike of public transport.

The walk in the opposite direction was quite straightforward and it’s quite depressing to think that I hadn’t thought about walking on the surface beforehand.

At the station it was much quieter than when I was here four weeks ago and I even managed to bag a comfortable seat with a power point.

84564 gec alstom regiolis gare montparnasse paris france Eric Hall photo January 2022No prizes for guessing which one was my train to Granville.

And even more so when the red lights came on with about 15 minutes to go before we were due to depart.

When the train was called, we trooped off to find out seats. Mine was right down at the far end of the train near the driver. And once again, the train was empty. 12 carriages and I reckon that the passengers on the train could have had a carriage each.

On the way home I listened to my concert again and read a book about a cavalry unit from Michigan during the American Civil War. And tried rather unsuccessfully to eat my sandwiches.

84559 gec alstom regiolis gare de Granville railway station Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022Our train was made up of two 6-car units and I’d been in the front unit. I hadn’t photographed that in Paris so I took a photo of it on my way out of the station at Granville.

First stop was at the Carrefour down the hill from the station. A pizza isn’t a pizza without mushrooms on it and they sell 250-gramme punnets at €0:99 so if I can’t go to LeClerc for my loose ones, I’ll pick them up here.

And that reminds me. I’ve run out of pizza dough so I need to make some more tomorrow.

The town was fairly quiet this afternoon with no tourists and I took the back way home anyway so I had even less to worry about – except for the ambulance that nearly ran me down in a back street. And then reversed back to have another go seeing as he had missed on the way past.

replacing bricks on wall rue des juifs Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022Going up the hill towards home dragging my suitcase behind me was something of a struggle and I was glad to stop halfway up and eat my butties.

There was also some work on the wall in the Rue des Juifs that I’d missed. Some of the capping bricks had crumbled away and they have now been replaced. I suppose that they will be back on Monday to point them.

Back here I had a coffee and collapsed into my chair without moving for a good couple of hours. All of this travelling is exhausting me and the final climb is killing me off, I reckon. And if they can’t find the problem at the hospital, I suppose that I’m going to be stuck like this.

Tea was some of those small breadcrumbed soya fillets with veg and potatoes. Really quite delicious. I needed that.

And now I’m off to bed. I’m absolutely whacked after my early start and my trek home. A good sleep will do me good, so just watch someone phone me up or something.

Saturday 10th April 2021 – WOO-HOO – I’M VACCINATED!

Yes, I’ve now had both my jabs and I have a Certificate to prove it too! At least I shall be in the forefront of the queue whenever normal service is resumed.

That’s not to say that I’m going to be perfectly safe. I’ve had the Pfizer vaccination so I’m now about 95% safe against current strains of the virus but there are no details about how I’ll be covered against any new strains and in any case I could carry the vaccine around and infect others.

So I still have to be careful whatever I do. I can’t throw caution to the wind.

Mind you, I did throw caution to the wind last night because what with one thing or another it was long after 01:00 when I finally went to bed.

Nevertheless I still managed to crawl out of my stinking pit a 06:00 when the first alarm went off. It just confirms my suspicions that the issues that I’ve been having about leaving my bed have nothing to do with any physical complaint.

First thing was to grab the medication and the second thing was to listen to the dictaphone to see if I’d been anywhere during the night. In fact I was doing something last night and I can’t remember what it was but I ended up in Canada. It was something to do with cars ad I can’t remember at all. I ended up at my niece’s. One of her daughters was there and feeling very happy with herself because she had taken some courses to improve her reading ability. The had studied these courses for 12 months and when I arrived there I found that she had received a Diploma award from the Open University for English speaking and she was absolutely delighted. And of course so was I because she deserves something like that.

There was time to have a whack at some of the photos from North America from August 2019 before going for a shower, and then I made a coffee in my thermal mug, grabbed some crackers and then leapt into Caliburn.

And I did too, because the door opened quite easily this morning which is very good news.

It was pouring with rain this morning so it was a pretty miserable drive up north towards Valognes. There was a lot of things to see on the way but the rain put a complete dampener on everything.

There was something that I stopped to see on my way north, because there was a good view from inside Caliburn.

Calvaire de Le Plessis-Lastelle Manche Normandy France Eric HallThis is the Calvaire de Le Plessis-Lastelle on the outskirts of the town of Le Plessis-Lastelle.

It’s formerly the site of a castle on a nice high ridge and was destroyed during a revolt against Duke William of Normandy in 1047. It was rebuilt later but fell into disrepair, although a traveller in 1835 remarked that it was still in reasonable condition.

In 1911 the locals transformed what remains of the site into a Calvary but during the fighting in Normandy in 1944 it was very badly damaged. A programme of restoration was finished in 1967 and this is how it appears today.

And that reminds me of the story that I heard about the renovation of the Calvary after the war. There was a call for designs for the Calvary but due to a misunderstanding on the telephone, someone sent in a drawing of George Custer on his horse.

hospital simone veil valognes Manche Normandy France Eric HallEventually, 15 minutes early I arrived at the hospital.

As you can see, it looks quite … errr … interesting from the front. It’s actually an old Benedictine Abbey and as it came into the possession of the State in 1803 one can easily imagine that it was a prize of the Revolution. It was registered as an ancient monument in 1937.

When the hospital was inaugurated in 1977 it didn’t have a particular name but it was opened by Simone Veil who was Minister of Health – the fist female to hold the post – at the time. When she died in 2018 the hospital was given her name.

hospital simone veil valognes Manche Normandy France Eric HallRound the back though, it’s totally different, with all kinds of modernisations having been undertaken.

When I came here before, the Vaccination Centre was under there but seeing it all in darkness and it being a Saturday morning, I was full of foreboding.

A sign on the door said “Vaccination Centre now moved to …. (another address in town)” so I had to leap back into Caliburn, type the address into the Satnave and let the Lady Who Lives In The Satnav plot me a course.

Eventually I arrived at the Sports Centre on the other side of town where I had my injection, was given my certificate and left to fester for 15 minutes before they threw me back out into the rain.

My route back was a different one from my way out so there were new things to see on the way home.

chateau de saint saveur le vicomte Manche Normandy France Eric HallAs I came down the hill into Saint Saveur le Vicomte I was confronted by this beautiful building here. I had to do a U-turn and go back up the hill to find a good viewpoint where I could stick the camera out of Caliburn’s window.

This is the Chateau de Saint Saveur le Vicomte and it has a very interesting history because in view of its strategic position on a hill at the side of a river that leads into the interior, the Norse raiders built a fort there, according to one local historian.

Whatever was on there was destroyed during the revolt against Duke William. A subsequent castle here was an English stronghold in the Hundred Years War.

It later became a hospital, an orphanage and later a prison. Badly damaged by Allied Bombing in 1944, it’s now the subject of a restoration project financed by the proceeds of the national lottery.

On the way home I called in at Coutances and fuelled up Caliburn and then went to the LeClerc and LIDL here. They are much bigger than the ones in Granville and even though there’s more stuff in there, there isn’t anything extra that suited me. I did by some sweet potatoes though as they were cheap, and I’ll have to think of something to do with them.

Back here I made a sandwich for lunch and then came in here to carry on work but unfortunately I crashed out. And crashed out good and properly too, for about an hour and a half.

And when I awoke I had a sore arm again and I was also freezing, freezing cold. So much so that having turned off the heating about a week ago, I tuned it on again full-blast.

When I eventually recovered, I went outside for a walk where I bumped into Pierre the skipper of Spirit of Conrad. he told me that the other week the boat was simply in the chantier navale simply for an annual service.

But all of his tours this year are cancelled yet again. He’s thinking about doing trips up the Brittany coast whenever the situation relaxes.

Finding that the battery was yet again flat in the NIKON D500 I came back in for the NIKON D3000 and then I went back outsode again for my afternoon walk in the wind and rain.

beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThe whole of the town around here was totally deserted which was no surprise given the weather. There wasn’t a soul on the beach at all.

That’s something of a surprise of course because we’ve seen people down there in all kinds of weather, even swimming in it. But not today. I suppose that it was just too much for them today.

Instead, I trudged off along the path towards the end of the headland in my lonely solitude, and also in the rainstorm too. It must have been raining quite a lot over the last 18 hours because the path was flooded yet again and I had to pick my way gingerly around the puddles as I wended my weary way.

commodore goodwill english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallFrom the elevated part at the far end I could see something moving right out there in the English Channel so I took a photograph of it, regretting that I didn’t have the big NIKON D500 with me.

Of course it’s much too far out for me to be able to identify it but enhancing the image considerably I could make out some rough idea of its colours. That seems to indicate that its a Condor Ferries boat.

Its silhouette seems to match that of Commodore Goodwill, the Ro-Ro ferry that does the shuttle between St Malo, St Helier in Jersey and St Peter Port in Guernsey.

Ro-Ro stands for “roll on, roll off” and should not be confused with ferries such as Herald of Free Enterprise and Estonia which were Ro-Ro-Ro ferries, which stands for “roll on, roll over, roll off”.

fishing boat english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere was more movement out to sea too, but this time so much closer to home.

This is one of the little shellfish boats that worked the beds off the Ile de Chausey, I reckon. She’s on her way home to port in Granville, even if the tide isn’t far enough in for the harbour gates to be open.

Off the lawn and down the path to car park I went, encountering a family whose members were as surprised to see me as I was to see them.

Across the car park to the end of the headland to see what was going on. And the answer to that was nothing at all. So picking my way through the puddles I walked down the path on the other side of the headland.

port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere was very little going on in the harbour this afternoon.

The tide was still far out so the outer harbour was quite dry. But we can see all of the tyre tracks of the various heavy vehicles that have been working in there over the last month when we had the very low tides. Their work doesn’t seem to be finished so I wonder when, or maybe if, we will ever see them back working here again.

The fishing boat that we saw earlier is now in the harbour, here on the left, and it’s looking rather bewildered as the skipper tries to think of what to do next with it. And unfortunately she’s still too far out for me to be able to read her name on the visor over the cabin.

anakena hermes 1 notre dame de cap lihou aztec lady Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere is still no change in occupancy in the chantier navale today.

We have, from left to right, Anakena, Hermes I and the lifeboat Notre Dame de Cap Lihou. In the background is Aztec Lady, with a pile of small assorted yachts on the other side of the wall.

Unfortunately I couldn’t stay around to count them because I had to rush on home for the football this afternoon. TNS were playing away to Bala Town.

What astonished me about this match was that the two best players in the Welsh Premier League, Greg Draper and Henry Jones, managed just 28 minutes on the field between them.

Even more strangely was that the best player on the field, TNS’s Ben Clark, was substituted after 60 minutes of the game, with no sign of an injury. He’d run the Bala defence ragged and had a hand in TNS’s goal, but after he left the field the spark went out of the TNS side and Bala had several good chances to equalise, although they were unable to convert them.

Tea was out of a tin seeing as it’s Saturday and now that I’ve finished my notes I’m off to make some sourdough dough ready for baking tomorrow. And then I’m off to bed for a nice lie in.

And I deserve it too.

Friday 22nd January 2021 – JUST TO PROVE …

… that Ireland doesn’t have a monopoly on this sort of thing, I thought that you might be interested in a telephone conversation that I had this morning

“Hello Mr Hall. This is the hospital at Leuven”
“Hello”
“You have your appointment with us on Wednesday afternoon”
“That’s correct”
“Well there has been an important change. Before you come to the hospital on Wednesday you need to have a Covid test on Monday or Tuesday”
“No problem. Where can I go for that?”
“Well I don’t know. I don’t know how the system works in France”.
“But I’ll be in Belgium from Monday afternoon”
“Then you need to be tested in Belgium”
“Where can I go for a test in Belgium?”
“Wait a moment”
lengthy pause
“You can have an appointment here on Tuesday afternoon at 14:30”
“At the hospital?”
“Yes”
“So if I can have an appointment at the hospital on Tuesday afternoon, why can’t I have one on Wednesday prior to my appointment?”
“Because you can’t come to the hospital without having had a test”
“But the test is at the hospital?”
“Yes”
“So I can come to the hospital without a test in order to have the test?”
“Yes”
“So why can’t I do that on Wednesday?”
“Because you can’t come to the hospital without having a test”.

And I promise you – I am not making this up.

Mind you it’s a good thing that the hospital did ring me because that was what awoke me. I’d slept through all of the alarms and it was now 09:45. So that was another morning wasted and I’m becoming quite fed up of this. It serves me right for not going to bed until late.

After the medication I had a listen to the dictaphone.

There had been some kind of issue with the Ranger in Canada. I was working on it but I was making no progress at all and no-one seemed to be giving me very much of a hand. I was pretty much resigned to being without the Ranger for quite some time. I’d been given a rail warrant to go off on the train to fetch some parts but I was in no way ready to do that so I didn’t use the warrant. One of the daughters of my niece came back with a big fire extinguisher thing. Apparently it used to be full of old tar but she had gone and bought some paint for my Ranger. She said that her dad was unhappy about it being put in that container but she’d done it all the same. I was in pyjamas – I’d been in pyjamas all week and it was time for me to go home so I said to my niece “I’ll let you have these pyjamas back”. She replied “no, no, keep wearing them”. I said “I’ll let you have them back on Sunday when I return home” so that was fine. Then her husband turned up. “That railway warrant that you didn’t use – you’ll have to see your sister’s husband about that. It came from him”. I replied “I’ll sort it all out. It’s not a problem”. I noticed in his work bag – he had a huge work bag/holdall kind of thing that there was all kinds of food in it and there was food in other places. I thought that this place was becoming untidy now. I wouldn’t leave food lying around like that, not even me. Things need to be tidied up around here because it’s really in a mess. I asked about the paint – what paint they had bought. He said that it was a dark green but it should have been red. I replied “no, it should have been yellow like Caliburn if it was going to be anything”. He said that he had to go somewhere to see someone about the Sky cards so I asked “may I come with you for the drive?”. So we agreed on that. he took the Sky cards out of the machine to read the passwords and off we set. At a certain point someone came haring down the driveway towards the road in an old green and white Consul Mk II. For some unknown reason I had it in my mind that it was a Cortina. They came down there and just got to the end and stopped so I had a smile. He asked what was the matter. I replied “nothing really. I was just having a smile at that car”.

As well as the phone call from the hospital, I made several other ‘phone calls today, all of which were to do with my potential Covid vaccination.

Having been given a prescription by the doctor and also at the same time a letter of introduction listing my illness and other health issues, I rang up the Covid centre at St-Lô. I explained that with being a foreigner with a private health insurance I’m not registered with the Sécurité Sociale and as it’s they who are dealing with the Covid injections, I’m afraid that I’ll slip through the cracks and be missed.

She replied, after presumably consulting a few colleagues, that if I have a prescription and a doctor’s letter I would be added to the list but at the moment there aren’t too many vaccines here in the département. We aren’t a high-risk area.

The next batch of vaccines is due to arrive on 8th February so if I ring back then, they will add me onto the list.

While I was speaking to them I also had the idea that maybe it might just be a good idea to be registered with the Sécurité Sociale here even if I’m not liable to be covered by anything that they can offer me.

Having made a few false calls (because it’s not clear to whom you need to contact) I eventually managed to speak to someone who seemed to know what he was talking about. And the net result of this that if I send them a pile of information INCLUDING proof of my own private health insurance, they will register me into the system.

So that’s some good news anyway, although I’m not expecting it to be a speedy solution. The straightforward appointment at St-Lô seems to be the best. But I’m not going to the shops tomorrow seeing as I’m off on my travels on Monday, so I’ll deal with this form them and there.

Apart from that, the rest of the day, such as it was, has been spent dealing with the siege of the Chateau de Chalus and the death of Richard the Lionheart. And I’m not making very much progress.

Although there was no pause for breakfast, there was still a pause for lunch and more of my nice bread.

bernie sanders mittens rubble from gas pipe laying Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd there was the pause of course for the afternoon walk around the cliffs.

First stop was just outside the door to see how they were getting on with the relaying of the gas pipes in the Rue St Michel. But I don’t have to worry about that any more these days as there is an eminently qualified inspector on the job as you can see if you enlarge the photo.

So leaving him to carry on with his good work, I cleared off down the path which was now starting to dry out somewhat.

storm at sea english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut it’s not going to remain like that for long, I reckon.

As you can see out there in the distance over the sea there’s a storm cloud and a pile of heavy rainfall and the wind is blowing it in our direction. It won’t be long before we have that lot dropping on our heads.

So not wishing to hang about any and wait for it, I headed off across the lawn and the car park to see what was going on across the bay. And today, there was nothing to see. A few clouds but the sun was quite bright and we weren’t having any special effects on the water.

rue du port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallThe huge puddle in the path on the southern side of the headland had receded somewhat so it wasn’t as awkward as it was to pass by there yesterday. And as there was nothing going on at the chantier navale I turned my attention to the port.

There hadn’t been any fishing boats out at sea this afternoon as far as I could see, so I imagined that they were all in harbour. There were certainly plenty of them in there. It seems that they haven’t resolved this dispute with the Channel Islands yet.

Nothing else of note so I turned my attention to the mug of hot coffee that was waiting for me back at home.

The hour on the guitar passed quickly enough and after all of this time I’ve suddenly found myself able to play the bass again with 2 fingers like I used to back in the early and mid-70s. Having struggled along playing with just one finger (I never ever used a plectrum on the bass) since I started to play again a couple of years ago, it came back just like that.

I need to work on the timing because my synchronisation seems to be out on one or two tracks, but I’m sure that it will come. But I can’t sing and play with two fingers – well, not yet anyway. I’m working on that.

Tea was taco rolls with the rest of the stuffing, and then a ‘phone call from Rosemary to finish off the evening.

Now that my notes are written up, I’m off to bed. Last night was a disaster and I need to do much better than this, especially as as I have a 04:30 alarm call on Monday morning.

What a way to start the week, hey?

Sunday 13th October 2019 – I SAID YESTERDAY …

… that I was hoping to have a really good sleep last night. And to be honest, I said it without too much conviction.

So consequently, having closed my eyes at some time rather like 22:45 or thereabouts last night, no-one was more surprised than me to notice that when I reopened them, it was … errr … 09:45.

Out like a light, totally painless, didn’t feel a thing.

Even more surprisingly, all of my old good humour, positive thought and optimism had reappeared too. That led me to the conclusion that the deep depression in which I have found myself over the last … I dunno … seven or eight weeks and which affected my sea voyage around the High Arctic so much was caused by nothing more than good old plain and simple fatigue and exhaustion.

That’s certainly borne out by the facts, where in the latter stages of that journey I was existing on about three hours of sleep each night and being kept running by nothing more than adrenalin.

So this morning, with it being a Sunday, everyone else was having a lie-in too and no-one surfaced much before 11:00. The breakfast brunch ended up being much later than it usually is but it was delicious all the same.

After lunch I took Zoe down to her house in Woodstock. And by the time we got … “ohhh not again!” – ed. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that when I used to hire a Dodge Caravan I had a mattress that I used for sleeping. Almost new, it didn’t have much use and so when I emptied my storage locker I brought it back and gave it to Zoe for when she has visitors round at her house.

We went back up to Bob and Ellen’s afterwards to drop her off for a Thanksgiving Dinner. On the way we called at the tyre depot and a mammoth search around the premises turned up my missing notebook for which I shall be eternally grateful.

Ellen made me a coffee and we had a little chat, and then I wished them all goodbye. They wished me a pleasant voyage back to Europe, which was nice of them.

When I returned, everyone was out tidying up the yard. I was put on fire duty, in charge of the rubbish burning. We ended up with fire everywhere except where it was supposed to be, but armed with a big metal snow shovel I was able to deal with the matter before the house burned down.

I ended up smelling like a fire myself, so a shower and change of clothes was called for.

Some more stuff disappeared out of Strider too – into the garage downstairs.

Thanksgiving dinner here tonight. Rachel was cooking lamb for everyone so I made stuffed peppers for our little visitor and me. They were quite delicious. As a special treat I had saved two of the vegan muffins and the two of us ate them to celebrate our own Thanksgiving.

Plenty of carrots left over so the plan for tomorrow is to make a carrot soup using coconut milk, ginger and bay leaves. Meanwhile, I put the lamb bones in some water with some sage, thyme, rosemary and olive oil and I’m boiling them down to make some lamb stock. Not for me, I hasten to add, but for the basis of the weekly work soup for the carnivores.

But it did remind me of the story about when the BBC closed down the children’s programmes on radio and went to sell off all of the assets
“How much did we get for Larry the Lamb?” asked the BBC’s accountant.
“Three and six a pound” was the reply.

Rachel and I are chatting right now as I’m typing, and I’ll be off to bed in a short while. Desperate for another long sleep tonight (without the alarms because it’s a Bank Holiday tomorrow) but who knows?

And I need it too. Tomorrow is going to be a very long and painful night and I won’t be having much sleep at all.

Saturday 12th October 2019 – IT’S THE FIRST …

… day of the Bank Holiday today and I have celebrated it by doing absolutely nothing at all.

And that is just as well because I had a horrible night last night. Lying in bed watching the clock go round and round as I tried – not very successfully – to go to sleep.

Yet sleep I must have done at one point as I awoke at 05:45 without the benefit of an alarm. Raining again, and there’s the metal roof of a trailer right underneath my bedroom window.

The alarms went off as usual but quite frankly I couldn’t have cared less about them. I went back down the bed. But Rosemary rand me up at about 08:00 and I spent a pleasant hour or so talking to her. That fired me up to take my medication and to go and make myself a coffee.

Liz was on line too so we had a chat on the internet too – a chat that went on in a kind of desultory fashion all throughout the day. And that included the news that Strawberry Moose will be going on another journey not long after he returns home.

Having had my coffee I was in no real mood for breakfast so I did without. And my fast, such as it was, went on until about 15:00 when I made myself some toast.

In between the coffee and toast I had been sorting out all of my stuff, throwing some stuff away, sticking some more in Strider and taking some stuff out of Strider to take home with me. I found a lot of stuff that was missing but to my great dismay, I can’t find my notebook now.

I’ve already lost one in my jacket in Calgary and to lose a second will be a disaster. So if you gave me your e-mail address on The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour, then send it to me again using the comments link on the blog.

I shan’t publish the information, but at least I’ll have it for when I return home and can sort out the photos that I’ve promised you.

Once I’d tidied up and had my toast I spent a few hours playing on the bass. Working out a few more bass lines, in particular to a few tracks by Counting Crows off their Recovering The Satellites album. That, by the way, is another album that is guaranteed to reduce me into a state of depression.

A couple of the lyrics are quite meaningful (well, they all are, but in different ways). One in particular reminds me of an incredibly lengthy chat that I had with someone five or six weeks ago, quite late one night
Gonna get back to basics
Guess I’ll start it up again
I’m fallin’ from the ceiling
You’re falling from the sky now and then
Maybe you were shot down in pieces
Maybe I slipped in between
But we were gonna be the wildest
The Wildest
The Wildest
People they ever hoped to see
Just you and me

But as Peter Townsend would tell us, it’s all about Time and Chance, isn’t it?

Very similar to when I used to be repairing my old farmhouse, I reckon. When I had the time I didn’t have the money. And when I had the money I didn’t have the time.

Zoe came into my room later, wondering why I wasn’t coming out to be sociable. I suppose that I ought to be more sociable than I am, so I told her that if she made me a coffee I would come out and drink it. So she did, and I did.

Rachel and I cooked tea tonight, stir-fry vegetables and rice in soy sauce with vegan spring rolls. Delicious it was too. There was some apple crumble left over from last weekend, but there isn’t now.

We all chatted for a while and then like The Knights Of The Round Table we all went our separate ways.

Now I’m back in my room, wondering what tonight is going to bring me. Sleep, I hope, if I’m lucky. I could do with a pile of that. But something extra would be nice too. And right now, I’m listening to Jackson Heights and their album King’s Progress, and in particular the track “Insomnia” where Lee Jackson sings
The whole world’s still sleeping
Kept warm by their dreams
Wrapped up in their loved ones
How peaceful it seems
Lay your head on the pillow
How weary it seems
You would give a small fortune
To get back in your dreams

Those are sentiments with which I concur whole-heartedly.

Thursday 10th October 2019 – I DON’T UNDERSTAND …

… why, but I am just totally stressed out right now to an extent that I didn’t know was possible.

There has been an “incident” (which I’m not going to relate) that not only is nothing to do with me, but doesn’t even relate to me at all and doesn’t even affect me in the slightest, but for some reason it has got deep under my skin.

One thing that the doctors told me is that in order to prolong my life as much as possible I have to avoid all kinds of stresses and strains and any kind of emotional impact.

With having such a low blood count as I do, my heart is having to beat twice as fast and i have to breathe twice as fast to provide enough oxygen to my vital organs. It’s only because I have a coeur de champion that I have kept going for so long, but if I keep on going like today my days are definitely numbered.

I need to get a grip.

And that doesn’t apply just to this particular incident either. Despite an early night, and despite sleeping right through the alarms this morning, it was still 07:20 before I surfaced.

All of the rubbish needed taking down to the street for the dustmen so I took it down before breakfast.

Another leisurely morning and then I went up to the tire depot. Things weren’t quite so busy today and rather like my namesake the mathematician, I did three fifths of five eights of … errr … absolutely nothing. I ended up sleeping for most of the day and that is worrying me intently.

Well, I didn;t actually do absolutely nothing. I taught Zoe to use the new tyre comparison program that I uploaded, and even found a few new features on it too.

Another thing that I did, which ought to have made my blood boil but didn’t, much to my surprise, was to give someone a piece of my mind down the telephone.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I ordered a chip for Strider to deal with his excessive fuel consumption. It was sent back to the supplier because “insufficient address”. A week or so ago I telephoned the supplier, amended the address slightly and so they posted it again.

Only to have it returned a second time.

I telephoned the maildrop place in Mars Hill, just across the border in the USA to ask why they keep on returning it.
“But you don’t have an account with us”
“What do you mean ‘an account’? We’ve been having stuff sent to you for as long as I can remember (which is at least 18 years) and we’ve never needed an account”.
“Well, you do now since we’ve taken it over”
“So if that’s the case, why didn’t you ring up and tell all of your customers that the procedures have changed? And why did you refuse my parcel when my phone number is on the address label and you could have invited me to come over and open an account?”

No answer.

But the suppliers are very understanding and they are sending it now by post direct to Canada (which is what I should have done in the fist place), and it’ll arrive after I’ve returned home of course.

Trying to save pennies here and there is ending up costing me a fortune. It’s false economy.

And people complain about a recession and how things are tight. That guy in Mars Hill has just lost $7:00 because he’s too lazy to pick up the phone and make a phone call.

Later on I gave Darren a hand with the one-tonne Dually which he drove home while I took the post to the Post Office, and then I drove him back to the garage to pick up the three-tonner.

And if you are wondering whether that means that we finally have all of the cars and trucks (except the two twenty-tonners and the artic tractor of course) back at home (first time since I don’t know when) then Rachel’s Golf has had to go to have an exchange driveshaft exchanged once more. Nothing seems to last like it did, but even so, 18 months for a driveshaft is rather extreme).

Rachel cooked a lovely meal for tea and then I helped with the washing and drying. Now I’m sitting in my bedroom not doing all that much right now.

Except to listen to the music. It has a very calming influence on me, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, and Tinsley Ellis’ “Mystery To Me” is about as good as gets. I’ve been teaching myself to play the lead guitar break (the one from 03:10) on the bass as a way of organising myself.

Here’s hoping for a better day tomorrow. The only thing wrong with today though was my attitude and I need to do something about that.

Monday 7th October 2019 – JUST LIKE OLD TIMES!

Just pulling into the yard this evening with Amber after picking her up after cheerleading practice when Rachel stuck her head out of the door
“Could you go down to the tyre depot and pick up Darren?”

So I dropped off my passenger and headed off to my next job, musing that I ought to fit a meter under Strider’s dashboard and a taxi sign on the roof. When I sold my taxi business in 1989 I thought that I had put this kind of thing well-and-truly to bed.

But no. It was just like old times.

However, if anyone thinks that I’m complaining or that I’m unhappy about it, then that’s far from the truth. I was actually enjoying myself being out and about, especially with some decent music churning away on Strider’s hi-fi.

Actually, one of my old Mancunian acquaintances had made an appearance on my playlist. And as I listened to the words, I realised that they are really quite appropriate to the situation in which I have found myself these days as I struggle with my illness and events associated with it all.

The killer lives inside me: yes, I can feel him move
Sometimes he’s lightly sleeping in the quiet of his room
But then his eyes will rise and stare through mine;
He’ll speak my words and slice my mind inside
Yes the killer lives

Angels live inside me: I can feel them smile…
Their presence strokes and soothes the tempest in my mind
And their love can heal the wounds that I have wrought
They watch me as I go to fall – well, I know I shall be caught
While the angels live

And I too, live inside me and very often don’t know who I am
I know I’m not a hero, but I hope that I’m not damned:
I’m just a man, and killers, angels, all are me:
Dictators, saviours, refugees in war and peace
As long as Man lives…

Because, make no mistake, I am starting to struggle now. I had a really miserable afternoon yesterday and even though I was in bed early and had (for once) a really decent night’s sleep, I wasn’t feeling much better.

Luckily the girls had a lift into school so that I could take things easy this morning. I was in no hurry to surface. I had some food for breakfast, and a coffee, and then a play around on the laptop doing some stuff.

Zoe had told me when she left that she hadn’t been able to find Cujo the Killer Cat, so before I left I tried to hunt her down so that I could put her in one of the rooms where there’s no alarm sensor.

45 minutes I spent trying to find that blasted cat and when I went to the front door to accept a huge parcel delivery, there she was sitting on the bonnet of Strider. Outside all the time!

For most of the day I’ve been running around western New Brunswick fetching parts. It’s been really busy at work today. What added to the confusion was that just as everyone had something important to do, we had a delivery of 72 winter tyres and they all needed sorting and stacking.

Not only that, I’ve been doing my salemanship efforts today. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I’m something of an expert in Ford Cortina Mk III, Mk IV and Mk V, having made my fortune with them when I ran my taxi company. There are one or two in North America and someone posted on a forum that he couldn’t find any tyres anywhere to fit them

This place where I’m working right now is like an Aladdin’s Cave of treasures dating back years so I had a good look around. And sure enough, there are a handful just the correct size stuck down the back of the depot. And so I put an advert on the appropriate forum.

Back here, still in the driving rainstorm, i went to the Post Office on the way home to post the letters and then came back for tea. Plenty of pasta left over from the weekend, and rice pudding left over from last week. A meal fit for a king.

And then out taxiing until late. Just like old times.

But that’s enough for tonight, I reckon. I’m going to bed and I’m hoping to sleep. I need to pull myself round if I can but then again it’s been almost four months since my last blood transfusion, which I’m supposed to have every four weeks.

But do I care? Of course not. I’ve had a good time. And who wants to lie in bed at home to sit and stare at the bedroom ceiling anyway?

Sunday 6th October 2019 – IT’S BEEN …

… another day that has been somewhat … errr … less-lively than the others.

Sunday is a Day of Rest as we all know, and resting until about 08:30 flat-out with hardly an interruption during the night is as restful as it gets.

I did manage to leave the bed though round about 09:15 for a trip down the corridor and on returning I found that the place in my nice warm bed had been taken by Cujo the Killer Cat, so I had company for a while.

The Taylor Breakfast Brunch was of the usual high standard, although it was rather later than usual because Strider and I had to run to the shops for some milk as we had run out.

I was summoned to the telephone too, and that took about 20 minutes to deal with.

After breakfast we chilled for a while and then I ran Darren back to the tyre depot where he was going to spend the afternoon working on the one-ton truck. He needs to have that running because we are going to take off the dump body from the old one-ton Ford that we brought down here the other week to fit on the new one so that we can haul grain sacks around with it.

Back here, I emptied out Strider and tidied him up some more. I gave a pile of stuff to Zoe and there’s some more for Darren too.

The pace though had rather overwhelmed me and back in my little room I had a doze for an hour or two – despite my lie-in this morning. But I livened myself up with a shower and a change of clothes. I look almost human now!

Rachel made a lovely tea, a kind of hamburger mash with baked potatoes followed by apple crumble. And I loitered around to chat to her and Zoe for ages.

But now I’m off to bed. Worn out too and I don’t understand it because I’ve had a quiet relaxing day. I always seem to be more tired when I’ve not done anything.

Saturday 5th October 2019 – I’VE BEEN …

… a very busy boy today.

And that’s hardly a surprise because I had, for the first time since I don’t know when, had a really good sleep last night and I’ve not yet set foot outside the house.

A few items on the dictaphone, although what there is I really don’t know. And I was up and about by 06:40 too.

Rachel and Amber went to work this morning so I decided on a day off. A leisurely breakfast and a long chat with Hannah and our visitor and then I cracked on to work, with just a brief interruption for lunch.

During the course of the day, people were coming and going but I paid no attention whatever and by the time supper was served, I’d finished all of the blog entries for July (including the missing one when I was ill) and most of them for August too. There are only three or four that need to be added, I reckon.

And those that are there make interesting reading. As Kenneth Williams once famously said, “I’m often taken aback by my own brilliance”.

Or, as the Duke of Wellington once remarked about the Battle of Waterloo and which sums up my voyage completely – “By God! I don’t think it would have been done if I had not been there”.

But now Amber is down with the dreaded lurgy. It’s doing the rounds here so I’ll probably catch it the evening that I’m due to catch my bus back to Montreal.

A brief interruption though. US Granville’s match against C Chartres Football was televised this evening and I managed to catch the second half.

Hannah and her friend Journee made tea tonight. For we vegans, she made a stir-fry tofu in a creamy vegan sauce with pasta, and it was absolutely delicious. She followed that up with some vegan muffins that she had found in the Atlantic Superstore and which I will be visiting again.

So it’s bedtime now. No alarm and a day of rest. I’m going to be attacking the rear of Strider and empty out some of the stuff that I fetched back from Montreal. Some is for Darren, some is for Zoe and the rest is for filing under CS.

See you in the morning.

Thursday 3rd October 2019 – I HAVE HAD …

… one of the best Indian meals that I have had for quite a while in North America. Outside Montreal, of course, because nothing can improve upon the Indian cafe that I discovered at Cote Vertu in Montreal.

It seems that a family of Indians – “those” Indians, not “those Indians” = have recently taken over a motel in Woodstock (a phenomenon that I first observed about 15 years or so ago) and converted the restaurant into an Indian restaurant.

I had a vegetable biryani and it was excellent, as indeed was everyone else’s meal. The service unfortunately did not match the food, but I’m sure that it will improve.

And I felt like a good meal tonight too because I’ve had a harrowing day. It all went wrong during the night where I reckoned that I had hardly slept at all. Three dictated files on the dictaphone told a different story but nevertheless that was how I felt.

There was no school run either so I hitched a lift up to the office with Rachel so that I could pick up Strider. But then we had an urgent phone call. The boy who was taking Amber to school failed to turn up so I had to dash home. Amber isn’t a fan of Strider but she had no choice in the matter this morning.

Quite a few stresses and strains at the tyre depot today. It seems that everyone is having weekend blues a few days early. But at least the cashing up was no problem tonight – we were $0:90 over so we decided to Spend Spend Spend!

At lunchtime though I’d come home for a shower and a change of clothes, and also to salvage the Note-Tab clipboard libraries from the old computer – a task that I had forgotten. But that’s now accomplished. And I do have to say that the old computer now that it’s “fixed” seems to be working better than it ever did.

We all went down for an Indian meal tonight, all seven of us. And on the way back Rachel, Zoe and I went to visit one of Rachel’s friends who is on the point of leaving for the winter.

But now I’m set up in my room on my way to bed. Let’s hope that tomorrow will bring us some happiness. As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, it’s been a long time since I’ve had any.

Wednesday 2nd October 2019 – REGULAR READERS …

… of this rubbish will recall that my writings ground out round about the 16th July for a short while after my elderly Acer laptop expired before I could upload to it the entries that I had made on board The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour.

However, the more astute, cunning reader will have noticed that there is now an entry for 17th July 2019.

And if you aren’t careful, or aren’t quick, you might even find some subsequent ones.

Last night I had a very late, disturbed night because I was working. And working quite hard too. Not only have I finally succeeded in firing up the old Acer, I’ve even managed to salvage all of the data that was on it.

Those two years that I spent studying for my Diploma in Computing back in 1998/99 have proved their worth and I’m surprised that I could remember as much as I did. But then again, having one’s back to the wall is a very good way of concentrating the mind.

So the result of all of this is that we might be completely back in business sometime soon.

So with having had a very disturbed night, with one or two nocturnal voyages thrown in for good measure, I wasn’t in very much of a mood this morning.

There was also the school run too, but only for Amber because our little visitor is feeling under the weather. I think that the strain of life in New Brunswick is proving too much for her.

After dropping off Amber, I headed on down to Woodstock for my gearchange arm, and by the time we got … “you said that yesterday” – ed

They hadn’t unpacked the deliveries when I arrived so I had to loiter around for a while. There’s a huge Amish community in the region so I spent some time watching their horse grazing on the grass verge while they went to the shops. I went to the shops too – for a few bits and pieces here and there

Eventually I returned to the garage and compared the old arm with the new one. The old arm had rusted and worn away to just a fraction of the thickness to I reckon that it was about time that it was replaced.

Mind you, it’s not made the gearchange any more precise, so there must be plenty of wear elsewhere. But I’m not going to strip down the column change mechanism. I’ll go with what I have.

Having said that though, regular readers of this rubbish will recall a few years ago the overdrive unit was taken out and repaired. I’m disappointed that the people who did it didn’t replace the mechanism – it must have been pretty bad even then.

Back at the tyre depot I’ve been labouring in the workshop, answering the phone, dealing with customers, all this kind of thing, and then I went to pick up Amber from school. She’s been staying late because they have a cheerleading competition coming up and they are rehearsing.

Later this evening I went out with Zoe. She’s recently bought a little house in Woodstock so I bought her a housewarming present – a water cooler for her kitchen. And then we spent an hour or so doing some tidying up in her house to make some room.

On the way back we had a moment or two of excitement as I screeched to a halt to let a family of raccoons stranded in the middle of the road escape to the verge out of my way.

So now I’m off to bed. I had a rough night last night and I need to catch up with my beauty sleep. And looking at myself in the mirror, I need quite a lot of that.

Wednesday 18th September 2019 – HATS OFF …

… to Strider!

Here we are, sitting in a dingy room in a dingy motel in rue Sherbrooke Est. Old, tired, dusty, tatty and cheap. But that’s enough about me, let’s talk about the motel room. And you’ve guessed it. Old, tired, dusty, tatty and cheap.

In fact, in all honesty, you have to consider that it’s a motel in Montreal right by a metro station, with ample free parking and all conveniences (even a guitar shop, in which I’ve already made my presence felt) not a cock-stride away. And the fact that my three nights here are costing me less than $CAN 90:00 per night tax in, it’s a deal that I won’t find anywhere else in the city.

Even the local coppers won’t have too far to come to find me. They are in the building next door.

It’s the same landlady who was here last time I stayed. She didn’t remember me (which was a surprise) but I remembered her. The type who would have fought the Iroquois single-handedly out of this plot of land 400 years ago and she’s been here ever since.

Last night though was exciting. A reasonably early night (for a change) and a decent sleep, with no less than 4 dictaphone entries that I might not know anything about as yet.

Or maybe I do, because there is certainly one that is running around in my head and has been ever since I awoke. And I wonder if it’s on the machine. Basically, I was joined on my travels at one point by a person who has featured on my voyages on many occasions. And I’ll spare her blushes by not naming her because I have reason to believe that she reads these notes.

And you are going to ask me if I got the girl. And I shall say that after much perseverence and fighting off distraction, then I reckon. Not as intensely as I have done on some other occasions, as regular readers of this rubbish might recall, but nevertheless. And what wouldn’t I have given to have had another half-hour’s sleep in order to make sure that it was nailed on completely and thoroughly?

But that’s the trouble with these nocturnal rambles. They go off at tangents at all the wrong moments.

One theory that we were working on during this project years ago was whether there was a subconscious trigger somewhere that went off to protect you from harm. And there have been several nocturnal voyages, including a few just recently, where such a phenomenon might be identified.

This led us onto another project – that about the “sixth sense”. Intuition, second sight, call it what you will, it was a vital tool when you were struggling to stay alive in prehistorical times. Those who had it were the great survivors and they bred children who would have an even greater perception. Und so weiter.

It’s fallen out of use now but it’s still there and we worked on developing it – like walking around a room in the dark and thinking about what was where in our way. Or staring at people walking past and watching them suddenly turn around. All of that kind of thing. And, more importantly, trusting your intuition and your instincts.

Strangely enough, a while back I actually had this talk with the heroine of last night’s voyage. Do you rememb

So we had the school run despite the fact that I misplaced the key to the Golf, and then came back and picked up Strider.

Down to the depot to say my goodbyes, and also to change my hospital appointment. The list of tasks is building up rapidly and I still have things to do on and after when I should be having my blood transfusion.

So I’ve put it back another week. Zoe is worried that it might make me more ill than I already am, but ask me if I care.

By 10:04 I was fuelled up to the brim and joining the Trans-Canada Highway at Florenceville. And just before 15:00 my time (14:00 Quebec time) I was pulling into the Irving Truck Stop at Levis at the foot of the big bridge at Quebec.

454 kms non-stop in just under 5 hours. So hats off to Strider who performed excellently. There was well over a quarter of a tank of fuel left too and that is even better.

Fuelling him up, having a pit stop and finding a Subway for a sandwich – all of that took about an hour (never been in such a slow Subway) and then back on the highway.

294 kms non-stop and here I am. And what pleased me more than anything was that I actually recognised the streets of Montreal where I was supposed to be. And that’s not something that happens every day either.

Pizza Pizza has vegan pizzas as I explained last year, and the Metro supermarket next door produced some food stuff and spruce beer (at long last) so here I am and here I’m staying. For a few days at least.

Tomorrow I have the painful task of throwing away the rest of my stuff in my storage locker here. I’ll be a little richer in cash but a lot poorer in spirit. it really is the end of an era.

Monday 16th September 2019 – STRIDER HAS BEEN …

… a busy boy today.

Back at the house after the school run, Zoe gathered up all of the glass, aluminium and plastic that she could find and we loaded it up into the back of Strider.

Then down at the bottom of the field by the lean-to we dragged the trailer out of the undergrowth. That was already loaded with a huge mound of stuff so we coupled it up to Strider’s tow hitch. Not for nothing did we fit a decent tow bar on him last year.

And that wasn’t the work of five minutes either. A trailer that hasn’t moved for a year or so and there’s quite a weight in it too. And, of course, the electric connections needed to be cleaned off so that I would have lights.

On the way down the road we hit a bump and the back door of the trailer opened up. As I have said before, I seem to be leaving a trail of possessions all around the world these days. But this time we were quick off the mark and we had it all back on the trailer and the door closed before anyone noticed.

At the garage we loaded more stuff up and then went on a tour of a few places to collect more. Off then to the recycling centre at Bath to weigh in the whole lot of it.

On the way back (for by now it was almost lunchtime after all of that) we went to Tim Horton’s where Zoe bought me a coffee and where I left my bag behind and had to run back and pick it up. It had taken ages to unload it all and separate it, and I question the wisdom of putting heavy glass into cardboard boxes and leaving it on a trailer for a year in the rain.

And inside the back of Strider now smells like a Babylonian boozer’s bedroom.0

The trailer door came open again on the way back (luckily there was nothing in it) and I stopped to pick up a sandwich. By now I was thoroughly exhausted.

And that’s no surprise either. I’d had another miserable night where I didn’t go to sleep until about 03:00 and then a fitful night of tossing and turning.

I don’t remember much of where I went but I remember three different segments. Segment 1, and then Segment 2 which was completely different and bore no resemblance to the previous, and Segment 3 where I stepped right back into where I was at the end of Segment 1. And if you think that that is confusing, imagine how I’m feeling.

And I do recall at some point the welcome return of a young girl who accompanied me on several voyages three or four years ago, and I wonder what has suddenly brought her back into the picture.

We had the school run of course and then the recycling, and then this afternoon I was hauling animal feed for a while, and then we replaced the rear brake caliper on the big Chevy truck that somehow manages to feature quite regularly on these pages just now.

As well as all of that, I’ve ordered my fuel economy chip and also made enquiries about my jacket at the hotel in Calgary.

Back at home I put back the trailer – and I do have to say that despite being out of practice I was totally impressed with my reversing skills – putting the trailer exactly where I wanted it (and in some tight corners too) every time, right on the button.

Not many of us here tonight so I made my usual vegan standby – stuffed peppers – for the two of us. And then I downloaded some more music. Two albums, both of which are vastly underrated.

Nektar’s album Down To Earth is a very interesting curiosity – am album by a British rock band that was totally ignored in the UK but became something of a phenomenon in Germany and eventually the musicians relocated there.

It’s one of these “take it or leave it” albums that I like to play every now and again but I can really live without it.

On the other hand, House On The Hill is a magnificent album. I’ve heard quite a few albums by Audience and was never particularly inspired but House On The Hill is another one of those that comes out of nowhere and stops you dead in your tracks.

It was one of the “Jackie Marshall cassette recordings” from the mid-70s and I bought a vinyl version in the mid-80s, probably the last vinyl album that I ever bought. And somehow I overlooked to purchase a CD version when I was modernising my collection.

As an aside, I’m only hunting down album tracks for albums that I already own and not for anything that isn’t already in my collection.

Now it’s bed-time and I’m hoping for better luck tonight when it comes to sleeping. I really can’t carry on like this and I’m back on the road on Wednesday.

Sunday 15th September 2019 – I MISSED …

… an exciting day today up in Grand Falls. Apparently they were having a drag racing afternoon.

Nothing more exciting than watching a bunch of men dash round a town while dressed in women’s clothes, but I had other fish to fry unfortunately and I was quite disappointed to have let the opportunity pass me by.

In fact I was out near Meductic moving furniture. Zoe has, as I mentioned earlier, bought herself a little house and she doesn’t have much furniture, but someone was disposing of a clean two-seater bed settee that transforms into a double bed and that will be just the thing.

And so having emptied out Strider, we set off for Zoe’s where she and a friend clambered aboard and then we all shot off southwards towards Fredericton.

Putting the bed in the back of Strider was the work of a moment and it was soon strapped in place. Back at Zoe’s, we unloaded the sofa and then I came home. Totally whacked. I just can’t do things like this any more.

Mind you, I don’t know why, because it’s not as if I had much of a difficult night. In bed comparatively early and apart from a brief foray down the corridor to ride the porcelain horse, disturbing our overnighters on the way, and a few interruptions to record things on the dictaphone (and I wonder what they are?) I had the kind of lie-in about which I have only been able to dream just recently.

09:00 when I finally surfaced, and just loitered around until it was time to go and deal with Zoe.

This afternoon, I’ve had a shower and, would you believe, a haircut, and I look almost human. As well as that, Rachel was having a marathon clothes-washing session and I’m now up to date with all clean clothes ready to leave here Wednesday morning for Montreal to clean out my storage locker and hopefully to go for a meal with Josee.

But having seen the fuel in Strider evaporate before my very eyes, I’ve been searching on the internet with Darren and we have finally found a performance chip which claims inter alia to offer an 8mpg fuel improvement.

And I tell you what – that if I could get an extra 8mpg out of Strider I will really be impressed. So tomorrow I shall be on the case.

For tea tonight we had baked potato – the carnivores with salmon and we vegans with a bean medley. Quite delicious and prepared with my own fair hands. And if I can find the time tomorrow, I’m going to make a curry.

But I’ve been a busy boy this evening. I’ve tracked down the complete digital tracks to two more albums that I own. The first one is Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy by Brian Eno. That was his second solo album after Roxy Music and was such a surprising album that it left me speechless when I first heard it, and that’s not something that happens every day, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall.

But it’s one of those albums that grow on you quite quickly and it’s always been in my top 100 albums out of the couple of thousand that I own.

The second one though is an album that means a great deal to me and for many reasons too.Warrior On The Edge Of Time features work that probably represents Michael Moorcock’s apogee as a science fiction writer, and several of the lyrics, adapted from works by Shelley and Wordsworth and set to Hawkwind’s space-rock music will penetrate deep into your bones.
“The golden void will speak to me
“Denying my reality
“lose my body, lose my mind
“blow like wind, I flow like wine
“Down a corridor of flame
“Will I fly so high again?”
Yes, what wouldn’t I give to be able to write meaningful lyrics like that after some of the things that I have done?

The album was thoroughly panned by the critics in the same was that A Passion Play was, and for the same reason too – that the critics didn’t understand what the musicians were trying to achieve.

The Melody maker wrote that Moorcroft’s poetry was delivered “with all the emotion of Davros being exterminated by renegade Daleks”, totally overlooking the fact that this was precisely the effect that Moorcroft and Brock wanted.

And when Lemmy wrote that ” ‘Opa-Loka’ was a lot of f***ing rubbish”, what he really meant to say that he didn’t play the bass line on it. It transpired much later that with Lemmy off on one of his little jaunts playing Hell’s Angels, Dave Brock refused to hang around and wait but played the bass line himself.

It’s quite true that Hawkwind has never ever recorded an album on which I have liked every track from start to finish, but “Warrior On The Edge Of Time” will be up there with the best of them.

But it has much more of a personal significance to me too. When the album was released I was dating Jackie Marshall. She worked at the Nantwich Library on Saturdays and used to scan the new rock albums that arrived, secrete them in a drawer, smuggle them out for me to record and then take them back next week. This particular album, she bought me for my birthday and inscribed a beautiful little message on the album cover which meant quite a lot to me – and still does.

But her parents hated me with a passion (like I said, I was a different person in those days) and so our fate was destined to unwind.

Strangely enough, I was driving a coach around North Shropshire a few years later and needed some cash, so on my lunch break I called in at Barclay’s Bank in Whitchurch. Who should be working there behind the counter as cashier but the aforementioned?

I had the briefest of moments to exchange pleasantries like you do, but not enough time to chat, so I determined that at the next opportunity I would go back.

And so I did – and on a couple of occasions too – but I never saw her again. We’ve often talked about TOTGA – The One That Got Away – but that particular girl was from a very different time and a very different era. Jackie was TOTGA from quite another epoch in my life and is probably the original one from which all standards are made.

Sometimes I wonder whatever happened to her.

Having had a play around on the bass, I’m ready for bed. The house is as quiet as the grave with everyone having retired and I suppose that I should really badger off to. But I’ve found the digital track to another album and I’ve made a start to re-record it.

But I’ll tell you all about that in the morning.

Saturday 14th September 2019 – FOR THE FIRST …

… time in I don’t know how long (you can scroll back for yourself to see) I actually had a decent night’s sleep last night.

In bed by about 22:30, on the internet for a short while, and then away with the fairies.

A brief awakening and a trip down to corridor at some point during the night (I’ll have to cut out these evening tea-drinking sessions with Rachel) and that was that until the alarm went.

A look on the dictaphone showed me that there are two tracks on there that weren’t on there when I went to bed so clearly I had been on my travels during the night. But as for when and where and who with, you’ll have to wait until I find the time to transcribe them.

For a change I was up and about quite early which was just as well because I had work to do. Rachel had a stall at a craft fair at the ice rink so I went along to carry her stuff and mind the stall.

And among the interesting things to take place there was a woman from the Netherlands so I spent a good few minutes talking in Dutch (well, Flemish in my case) to her. I’m back in Leuven shortly for a blood transfusion so I need to keep up with my Flemish and practise it when I can.

We were hit by a torrential rainstorm, as I discovered when we went to reload the cars afterwards. A really miserable day in fact.

Strider and I went on down to Woodstock afterwards to Sobeys for some more shopping. By the time we got to Woodstock we were half a million strong so it was rather crowded in his cab but we managed. And now we have enough food to make vegan pies and pizza as well as piles of other stuff – including some mixed fruit vegan sorbet.

Back home I crashed out for an hour or so and then made a lentil, pepper and mushroom spaghetti for the two of us vegans here. I made some home-made vegan garlic bread too, so our little visitor can’t complain that we are starving her.

Later that evening the two young girls went off to a friend’s for a sleepover, and Darren and Rachel had visitors over. Consequently I’m in my room working and playing guitar.

And I’m in luck! Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that when I bought this laptop it had the stupid Walmart IPOS splash screen on it that I was unable to move and Walmart was of no help.

You might recall that I was in BIOS mode the other day, so this evening I had another look deep into the bowels of the computer and, sure enough, the password that controls it is only recognised and functioning on the Windows interface.

Consequently, in BIOS mode, I could simply delete it without needing to know the password. Well, delete a few of the more important files such as the password files and then go back into Windows and use the “uninstall” function to remove the rest.

And it seems to have done the trick too, which is a big surprise to everyone, not just me. Anyone care to guess why the “techies” at Walmart couldn’t tell me that?

Tomorrow Strider and I have a settee to move for Zoe so, for a Sunday, it will be an early start. I’m hoping for a good sleep so that I’ll be on form.

But two good nights in a row is being rather optimistic, especially as Rachel and I have just had another cup of tea. Tomorrow, if I were a Native American, you would probably find me drowned in my own teepee.