Tuesday 5th December 2023 – IN ANSWER TO …

ginger and orange biscuits christmas cake christmas pudding Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2023 … the thousands … "well, maybe not thousands" – ed … of requests, here’s a photo of my weekend’s efforts.

On the left is the figgy pudding and on the right is the Christmas cake. You can see where the edges of the cake were stuck to the baking tin but once the cake is covered with marzipan and icing no-one will notice.

Marzipanning and icing are planned for this coming weekend so now is the time to send me a few handy hints. After the debâcle last time, I’ll remember to put the cake in the fridge before I ice it. Icing a warm cake produces some rather interesting and artistic results.

In the background is my box of ginger and orange biscuits. And believe me – they do taste as nice as they look.

Thinking on, I should have stuck a couple of fruit buns in the photo too. There are a couple floating around in one of the biscuit tins.

Anyway, I ended up going to bed reasonably early last night and awoke again at some kind of ridiculous time. But at least the person with the hatpin didn’t come back.

Although I did drift off back to sleep, Zero didn’t come to visit me. And neither did Castor nor TOTGA. But the sleep did me some kind of good.

When the alarm went off I staggered into the kitchen for my medication and my half-litre of flat water flavoured with a dash of orange juice. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve run out of C02

Back in here I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. I had a photo and was trying to identify the subject and the folder in which it belonged. I was strolling through the directory that seemed to me to be the correct one looking at all the photos but just couldn’t identify the subject at all by doing that. I began to wonder whether it might have been from another folder but at the moment there was still some stuff in the first folder to wade through so I just ploughed on regardless but still couldn’t find it

Later on I was back in the same dream looking again through a pile of photos when just at that moment the alarm went off. We all had to leave. There was a girl missing. When I looked up I could see the small girl way up somehow on a pile of tubing that had been arranged like a scaffolding. She’d somehow climbed up there but was unable to descend. One of the boys in the room took it upon himself to climb up there and rescue her. At first I didn’t understand what he was trying to do so I tried to stop him but then it suddenly occurred to me what he was doing so I let him on his way and helped him as much as I could.

And then I was working for an express bus company last night. I was given a job to go from London to Swansea Docks and Carmarthen. When I was going through the paperwork there was a woman there talking about Swansea Docks. I found out that she was going on the same route as me with a bus but to Swansea Docks and Llanelli. We were due to leave at about the same time so we decided to travel together as far as Swansea Docks because I didn’t know where the pick-up point there was. We talked about Gloucester Services – what time we’d arrive, how long we should stop. I made the remark that I’d have to let Zero down again. She asked “what do you mean?”. I replied “this is the 13th consecutive time that I’ve promised to pick Zero up and my working schedule has been changed so I’m not going to be able to do it”. The woman asked “what did she say?”. I replied “she doesn’t know yet. We’ve only just had the work schedule. Someone else will have to pick her up”. We set out to pick up our vehicles, across a very busy main road. She was nattering away about her husband and tyres etc. We reached the place to pick up our vehicles. They were 2 mark I Cortina estates. I thought “this can’t possibly be correct, this”.

After I’d slipped back into oblivion later on I had exactly the same dream again, word for word.

Finally I went to look at the new shopping complex near Goodall’s Corner in Shavington. It was dark and I’d had the lights on the car but couldn’t see anything at all so I’d had to increase the brightness of the dashboard lights which increased the brightness outside. I reached where I thought it would be, climbed out of my car and went in. It looked like the door to someone’s house. I wandered round and there was a yellow French pillar box just inside the door so I thought that it must be somewhere around here. I went round and round all these corners until I came to an enormous Post Office with about 2 dozen clerks sitting around. It looked as if there were 1 or 2 members of the public in so I asked if they were closed. She replied that they were. I said “that’s a pity. Could anyone sell me a stamp?”. Someone had a rummage round on the top of a desk and came up with a 1st class stamp

There was some more stuff too but you don’t really want to know about that, especially if you are having your tea.

Once I’d finished that I had a couple of chats on line with a couple of different people and then sat down to revise my Welsh, stopping for a good wash in between seeing as I’m going out.

Armed with a fruit bun and a full pot of black coffee I sat down for the lesson and to my surprise it went quite well.

We were discussing extreme weather today, so I told the class about the time when we were on the trail of Sir John Ross and a group of us walked across Philpot’s Island about 800 miles of so from the North Pole to map the far side in a temperature of minus something ridiculous and we were caught in a blizzard.

My friend Mike who was leading our group decided that this would be a good time to have a yoga session so there we were in a white-out lying on our backs in a snow bank.

What worried me most about that was that you really had to struggle to see your hand in front of your face. We could have come face-to-face with a polar bear and it would have been too late to have done anything about it.

We did have an armed guard with us but his job, so he told us, was that if he saw a polar bear in a confrontation with a human, his job was to shoot the human. "It’s far less paperwork" he said.

Actually, it’s a fallacy to suggest that the best way to survive a polar bear attack is to run faster than the bear. You just have to run faster than one other person in your group. Since my mobility has been … errr … restricted, I’ve been asked on several occasions by Mike and Jerry if I would like to return to the High Arctic and go exploring with them again.

After the lesson the car came to pick me up and take me to the Centre de Re-education.

My ergotherapy session was cancelled again so there were just the two sessions. And Severine told me that she is noticing an improvement in my muscles in my legs. So she must be doing some good somewhere.

In the musculation sessions there was just an old man and me and the therapist had us using our strength (or what we have of strength) against each other with whatever aids they had lying around – things like giant rubber balls, elastic straps and so on.

My upper body strength was better than his but he had more power in his legs.

Severine is probably right about the improvement. Coming back up the stairs later, I could actually lift my left leg high enough without any difficulty and it was the easiest climb back up the stairs that I’ve had for a good while.

Nevertheless, I was still exhausted and crashed out for a while once I sat down.

The radio notes are now finished off ready for dictating and I went for tea- a taco roll with rice and veg.

Before I go to bed tonight I’ll dictate the radio notes and I’ll prepare the programme tomorrow morning. The car will come for me at about 14:30 or so if I’m lucky so it should be finished by then.

And then I want to press on with these photos that I’m supposed to be annotating. It’s taking for ever and it shouldn’t be this complicated.

Right now I’m short of things to fire my enthusiasm which is hardly a surprise given everything that’s going on right now but whatever the answer is, feeling sorry for myself isn’t it. It’s not going to be finished if I just sit here and look at it.

There is the rest of my Christmas cooking too. I need stuffing, of course, but that’s not available over here. I suppose that I could invent something with breadcrumbs, onions, garlic and herbs so I’ll have to find a decent recipe. I have some gram flour somewhere in the kitchen.

And then there are the hash browns. When I’ve made them before, they have been a dismal failure so I need to work on those too ready for Christmas.

Something else that I need to think about is to restart the ginger beer factory that I had running here at one time. I still have the bits missing out of the wall to remind me about how powerful it was.

It actually worked very well until I had to restart Leuven on a monthly basis a couple of years ago. Brewing ginger beer requires constant attention and you can’t leave it fermenting for four days while you are away, as my walls will testify.

A powerful batch, that. Shame I never got to drink any of it.

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