Tag Archives: canada

Friday 29th March 2024 – THIS MORNING AT …

… 04:30 I was up and about making bread, would you believe?

And I’m still up and about now. In fact, this is probably one of the very few times that I’ve actually sat down today.

Not that I’m complaining about the early start though. I made the nicest bread that I have ever made. It actually looked and felt (not to mention smelt) like proper bread, and I do have to say that it was a triumph.

If I could make bread like that all the time I would be more than happy. Especially as, being short of money, I would knead the dough.

Earlier this morning, at 04:11 to be precise because I looked at my watch, I awoke. And I couldn’t go back to sleep no matter how much I tried so in the end I abandoned the idea and went into the kitchen.

It didn’t take too long to knead the dough but what I’d done differently was to use a little more water than usual, and warmer water at that. and then rather fighting it, I folded it over and over, just as gently as if I was massaging Zero’s clavicles.

And not just once either but a couple of times to make sure that it was properly kneaded. And off we went. And up it went too. It rose faster than my blood pressure when I realised later in the day that I had forgotten to take it this morning. Last night’s was 18.1/10.4 by the way.

While it was rising I put it carefully aside. I don’t want any nurses poking and prodding it. But I tidied up the kitchen area a little because it’ll be busy in a couple of hours.

When the nurse arrived she put on my puttees, had a chat and then left, pleased that we’d ordered her supplies for her. And then, as LeClerc’s home delivery was now open, I sent off my order. “Delivery between 10:00 and 12:00”.

Next task was to transcribe the dictaphone notes from last night. There was some kind of art school taking place last night with human models being used in the sculpting and painting classes etc for people to practise drawing or working on human figures. When they began to introduce a second model to work as a pair with the first one there were quite a few people who objected and there were obvious reasons too. It caused a great deal of unrest and unease amongst everyone because many people believed that art was pure and could not be corrupted and other people who believed that corruption was everywhere in the world and this was just another part of it. There were two extremes of people who were busy arguing over what the models were supposed to be doing. Everyone else was really quite bewildered that someone could make such an issue about something that was so ordinary, familiar and so straightforward.

And that’s a common occurrence these days. I’m convinced that there are some people who have nothing better to do except trawl the internet or their immediate neighbourhood to find ways in which they might be offended

And when they do find something that offends them they spend all their time and effort actually aggressively trying to upset everyone else by forcing their viewpoints on the World and expecting the 98% majority to suppress their own interests in favour of those of the 2%

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I have every sympathy with minority groups but sometimes consider that some of them go way beyond the bounds of what is reasonable behaviour.

When you see people complaining about what they see as pseudo-eroticism, like girls wearing bikinis and the like, and saying how indecent it is, that tells me far more about what’s going on in their mind than it does about what’s going on in the mind of the pseudo-offender.

And then I went back to sleep and this argument was still continuing. No-one was making any progress at all about either performing the piece of art or about having their points of view agreed. I quite simply didn’t understand the whole issue because there’s no objection to the art being displayed in museums etc and that’s where you’d think that people would be most upset but I dunno. I just didn’t understand it.

Later on I was still in this dream but I was actually dreaming it in Welsh. At one point while I was watching something on the TV there was a big crowd. I took something out of my pockets, some paper and rubbish, and simply threw it on the floor which was greeted by a barrage of heckling from the various people standing nearby. I didn’t just do it once but did it twice as well, I seemed to think, and it may have even been three times but I was having this dream in Welsh at that point.

So there I was, back in the same dream three times all told. And had I stayed in bed there might have been even more. But it was interesting that I was dreaming in Welsh because I’ve been thinking – and talking to myself – mainly in Welsh today which has surprised me. I must really have enjoyed that course.

As for talking to myself, of course I do. I’m reminded of Gandalf in LORD OF THE RINGS when he said "For I was talking aloud to myself. A habit of the old: they choose the wisest person present to speak to".

When the LeClerc delivery arrived I put away the frozen food and then had breakfast. And my hot cross buns are superb. They were a definite success too – well worth waiting for.

After putting away most of the food I set about blanching dicing and blanching the carrots, followed by the broccoli, ready for freezing.

And the cleaner caught me in flagrante delicto. She came in to tell me that I can’t have my injections any more.

The situation is that according to the prescription they can only be given if the blood tests show a result of less that a certain figure for something. But seeing as the prescription for the blood tests has run out and the tests aren’t being done, they can’t check the figure.

That sounds quite logical to me, but it meant that I had to sent an e-mail to the hospital to ask for clarification

So tonnes of carrots and broccoli to freeze, and there’s a broccoli stalk to make a soup tomorrow for midday – dipping my fresh bread into it too. It should be delicious.

There was football this afternoon – Colwyn Bay v Aberystwyth Town. Both teams propping up the table and they played like it too. Having seem the beautiful, flowing football of TNS last weekend, ths game was a disappointment.

Mind you, played on a swamp in a monsoon, that was hardly a surprise. Colwyn Bay have a beautiful ground as far as the grandstands and terracing go, but the pitch is awful.

Aberystwyth took the lead early on with a scrappy goal that was really the only exciting moment of the first half. Things improved for Colwyn Bay after the break and they looked more lively but it was the introduction of a couple of substitutes by each team on 75 minutes that livened up the game.

From then on, each team was throwing the kitchen sink at each other with gaps opening up everywhere in the defence as each side went on the attack, only to be caught out by a quick breakaway

Just as the game was going into stoppage time Colwyn Bay scored a dramatic equaliser, but blow me if Aberystwyth didn’t roar up the other end and score immediately.

So Aberystwyth won and move up above Pontypridd United, but things look dark for Colwyn Bay. And they’ll be even darker as they’ll be without manager Steve Evans next game. I don’t know what he said to the ref after the final whistle but it was worth a yellow card.

And then he must have said it again because he received another yellow card. So that’s him out of the dugout and in the stands for the next game.

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … I’m fed up of these petulant football players having crises all over the place during a game, and when the managers begin to do it, that really is the end.

The cleaner came not long after kick-off to do her stuff, and she left so quietly that I didn’t hear her go. But I now have a clean kitchen again which is nice.

The rest of the afternoon was either spend working on my Canada 2022 stuff or else, regrettably, asleep in my chair. Not that I’m complaining about that either. I’m surprised that I’ve kept on going as long as I have.

Tea was a burger on a bap, one of those burgers that I made from the stuff that my friend in Munich sent me. With chips and salad too, and it wasn’t disagreeable. It was rather gritty but that’s the ingredients I reckon and you can’t like everything absolutely

But it worked, and that was what counts.

Fighting with the freezer to put away the carrots and broccoli I dropped the carrots all over the floor. But picking them up (I’m glad that the floor is clean) I found the clip for the other puttees that I’d lost. Having found yesterday the other one that I lost a long time ago, I now have all four for each set which is just as well.

But I’ve also been busy booking Welsh courses. I’ve booked a week at the start of July with Coleg Cambria (and I hope that my own tutor isn’t tutoring it because doing a course with her two levels down would be embarrassing for both of us) and a two-week Summer School with Coleg Morgannwg at the end of August. So more “gyda” instead of “efo” for when I go back on my main course in September

It beats me though why Coleg Cambria’s courses are so early in the Summer break. I would have thought that they would have run their Summer courses just before the restart to set people off running when they start their next course.

But that’s enough from me for tonight. I’m off to bed. But doing all of these courses reminds me of the famous poem about Crawshay Bailey and his "engine
which was always wanting mending"

"he went to Cardiff College
for to get a bit of knowledge"

With this course at Coleg Morgannwg I’ll have been to most Colleges in the whole of South Wales "for to get a bit of knowledge" and it’s still not working, just like Crawshay Bailey’s engine.

It just reminds me of the small boy at school who had to repeat Year 6 three times. When asked how he felt about it he replied "I’m not bothered"
"Why’s that?" asked his parents
"At least I’m cleverer than my teacher"
"Why’s that?"
"Well" he replied "she was in Year 6 when I started at this school, she’s been in it all the time that I’ve been here and she’ll still be it again next year after I’ve left!"

Saturday 16th March 2024 – AFTER I’D FINISHED …

… doing what I have to do in the evening I didn’t hang about and was in bed quite shortly thereafter. I don’t seem to be able to last the pace like I used to, especially if I didn’t have any sleep the previous evening.

But of course I have to admit that my bed is extremely comfortable. Seeing as I spend about a third of my life in it it went through some pretty rigorous tests, as in me lying down on every combination of bed and mattress that was on display in the IKEA in Caen.

The sofa too is extremely comfortable. That underwent the same series of tests and has been put to good use on several occasions when I have company, but that’s another story.

So last night I climbed into bed and that was that until the alarm went off at 07:00.

At that point I fell out of bed and went off in search of medication – the usual morning round of things designed to keep me going until we have the night-time’s helpings. 10 different types, and each one presumably treating the side-effects of the one that was prescribed immediately before.

In fact, as I take all of this medicine I’m singing to myself THERE’S A HOLE IN MY BUCKET because that’s exactly how I feel.

Having dealt with the medication I made the bread rolls for today and tomorrow and left them there to fester while I went and took down the puttees and rolled them up ready for the nurse. They are still wet but that can’t be helped.

When she came round she burst the blisters on my feet, put all the cream on everywhere and wrapped the puttees around my feet and legs. She’s told me that there’s no need to wash them tonight as they don’t seem to be soiling any, which is good news.

After she had left I checked the bread rolls. And for once in my life they had actually risen as I hoped that they might. I’m not sure what I did correctly today – I can’t recall doing anything any more different than I usually do and which up to now has proved to be singularly ineffective.

But anyway I had a lovely cheese on toast for breakfast which was really nice.

Back in here I checked the dictaphone and to my surprise there was actually some stuff on there. “Surprise” because for the first two dreams I remember nothing at all, which quite possibly explains why they seem to be a pile of gibberish. Anyway, There was something about being in a rock group in North Wales called Achmarchnad – “Supermarket”. We all spoke to each other in Welsh and I introduced the songs in Welsh too. We climbed up onto the stage and there was applause but when I began to announce what we were about to play plenty of people dashed off as though they were heading for the bathroom. I made some kind of comment about everyone going to the bathroom. They also turned off all of the microphones so I had to wait for someone to restart everything again before I could actually carry on. But I was dreaming in Welsh as I had to wait for these people to go as we all sit around here, phrases like that to the other members of the group.

Yes, there I was, dreaming in Welsh and presenting the music of a rock band. I’d give all that I own, and more besides, to be able to do that in real life. But as I have mentioned before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … dreaming in a foreign language is nothing new. Besides Welsh (which isn’t a foreign language of course) we’ve had dreams in French, Flemish and Spanish in the past.

It’s actually quite ironic really. Here I am, learning a language that I probably won’t ever speak, in practical terms, and yet during the night I’m speaking it quite fluently and can’t even remember a word of what I’ve said and could certainly never repeat what I said when I’m awake.

There was a story once about this – about some guy who had had a knock on the head and came back to consciousness speaking a language fluently that he had never learned or even heard before. I wonder if it’s some kind of similar phenomenon.

It’s a shame though that I’m no longer going to Leuven though. I enjoyed revitalising the Flemish that I learned when I lived in Brussels and was glad that I was able to put it to some use after all these years. I just speak it now sometimes with Ingrid.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed – when we had fully loaded our ambulance we were ready to leave and go back to current times but the ambulance hit a stone causing injury to Orly and someone in the back and we haul up and treat our injuries etc before we could head back and try to cross the border. Rooms were booked for us in a hotel a a place on the Welsh side of the river just before you cross the river into the English part …fell asleep here

The above two dreams I have absolutely no recollection whatever of them. As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … although I’m asleep when I’m dictating my notes, when I’m transcribing them I usually have some kind of very vague recollection of them.

But not those two. They mean absolutely nothing to me

Finally, I was doing something about the radio last night, recording all my programmes. I needed a tenth track. After much messing about I actually chose the track but when it came to using it to join up the rest of the music I couldn’t find it. I was searching everywhere but it just wasn’t there. The last time that I remember, it was still attached to a set of stereo headphones with the wires dangling everywhere but I couldn’t find it at all. When I awoke I was actually searching the bed for it.

But can you imagine it – searching for a digitalised audio file in the bed last night. Sometimes I really do shake my head.

This afternoon I’ve been a busy boy. Firstly, Rosemary rang me and we had a chat. Just a short one today – only one hour and three minutes. We’re losing our touch, that’s for sure. Whatever happened to the ones that used to go on for several weeks?

Then I’ve been working on my photos from Canada 2022, writing the notes for another big pile of stuff. I hadn’t yet fallen ill so I was still getting about and doing things, like ordering the sunroof for the only Ford Flex ever imported into Europe, and having fun with STRAWBERRY MOOSE.

The dramatic collapse in health is yet to come, and it will be interesting to see how the events of that period unfolded and led to a two-months stay in hospital and totally wrecked my health.

The stuff for a couple more days was completed and I could have done so much more except for a major crashing-out – another one of these total black-outs that last for several hours where it’s as if I just switch off without any warning.

Finally there was the football – Pontypridd United v Barry Town. Both teams are languishing near the foot of the table – Pontypridd due more to administrative errors than standard of play – but they will basically safe from relegation as heaps more woe and misery pile on Colwyn Bay and Aberystwyth below them in the table.

The league position of the teams was reflected in the play – scrappy and at times rather agricultural – but playing football in a tropical monsoon as they had this afternoon down in Pontypridd can’t have been easy.

The game seemed to go in spells. Firstly, Pontypridd would have a good five minutes and then Barry, and then Pontypridd again and so on. The result, a 1-1 draw, was probably about right.

If you want to see the rather one-sided highlights of the match, they ARE HERE

You don’t need me to tell you what I had for tea tonight.

That’s right – breaded quorn fillet with baked potato and salad. Those fillets really are nice and I’m glad that, at the moment at least, they are available in LeClerc’s on-line shop

“At the moment” because even over the short time that I’ve been using the service, I’ve noticed a few things that I would buy that have been withdrawn from the range and that is more than just a pity. It’s a tragedy

So now I’m off to bed, ready for my … gulp … 08:00 start so that i’m ready for when the nurse comes. Can you imagine that too – me having an alarm call at 08:00 on a Sunday? But I need to show willing

It reminds me of the time when a girl who I knew once said to me "will you awaken me at 08:00?"
To which I replied "What should I do? Knock on your door or give you a nudge?"
There were times when I wasn’t very popular.

But as yet an alarm call might be unnecessary. Where the nurse burst my blisters, every now and again (more “again” than “now”, as it happens) there’s a stabbing pain that goes right through me and if it doesn’t subside I can’t see me sleeping tonight.

However, I’m away to finish off what I need to do before going to bed. The last task for today will be to cover myself in boot polish and eat several packets of yeast. That way I’ll rise and shine in the morning

Thursday 14th March 2024 – IT’S BEEN ALL …

… go in here today.

It doesn’t seem like it but it’s been an extremely busy day today. I didn’t even find the time to crash out until 18:00, and that’s quite late.

What was surprising was that for the first time for an absolute age, not only did I sleep right through the night, there was nothing on the dictaphone either.

Last night after I finished my notes I took my blood pressure and then wandered off to take my medicine for the night. There’s enough of that as well to keep me going for a while.

Strangely, I didn’t feel tired and so I watched the start of a Sherlock Holmes film, an old black-and-white one from the 1940s

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that that always does the trick. On the portable computer is a pile of old black-and-white films and when I used to travel I’d switch one on at night to watch – and I’d always fall asleep straight away.

There have been countless times when I have awoken to find the computer still whirring on or, on one or two occasions, with a flat battery, as in times on the road in the wilds of Northern Québec and Labrador when I used to camp out in the Dodges that I used.

So I staggered off to bed and that was the last thing that I remember until the alarm went off this morning.

That was the cue to fall out of bed and the first thing was, as usual, to check the blood pressure. 16.1/10.1. Compared to last night’s 15.0/7.8, you wouldn’t have thought that last night would have been so relaxing.

As I have said before… "and on many occasions too" – ed … I really don’t understand how this blood pressure works. The figures are not at all as I would have expected them to be, from an amateur’s point of view.

Second thing was to give my feet and lower legs a really good wash. I didn’t cover them in vaseline cream though because the nurse is coming round today to do that for me.

Third thing was to have a chat on the internet to Liz. We haven’t chatted for a while, which is a shame. She sent me a recipe that she’ll be using for her hot cross buns, in the hope that it might work for me rather better than the one that I have.

However, it’s not the recipe, as we now. My issue is making the dough rise, and I’d give all that I own, and much more besides, to be able to make it rise properly like it ought.

The nurse came round at 08:45.
"Will you be coming round at this time every day?" I asked
"Yes, if that’s OK for you" she replied
"What choice do I have?"
"Well, none really"

So 08:45 it is every day including Sunday. Bang goes my usual lie-in. Still, I suppose that I ought to be keeping some kind of normal hours somehow – come and live in the civilised World.

When I lived with Laurence I didn’t have much of a Sunday lie in. After a while I’d hear from the kitchen "go and wake up Eric" and then a few seconds later several stone of child would leap on top of me, and that would be that. I loved it really.

So the nurse has rubbed ointment on my feet, put plasters on the worst places, and then wound these elasticated puttee things around my lover legs.

My legs now look like Bibendum, the Michelin Man and I can’t put on my shoes over the top. That means no going out for a while, as long as this prescription lasts.

So instead of sending off my LeClerc order on Monday, I’ll send it off tomorrow and order my mushrooms on line. That was something else that I needed to do – to bring my order up-to-date and make sure that I’ve missed nothing. I probably have, but it’s too late once I’ve sent it off.

After my coffee and flapjack (which was an absolute and total success) I sat down with a radio programme.

There are several where I’ve dictated the text but not edited it so I did one of those today. It’s all finished now and mostly assembled. The last track has been chosen and remixed and the text written I just need a quite hour or so to dictate it and everything else that needs dictating.

However, quiet hours are practically unknown around here anywhere near where I am.

The cleaner came round during the afternoon. The nurse had written out a prescription for stuff that she needs so my cleaner will sally forth tomorrow and arrange everything.

While she was here we went through the medicines, pills and tablets that I have, made a note of where I’m likely to run out in the very near future, and she’ll organise that tomorrow too while she’s down there in town

After my hot chocolate I even found time to carry on with a project that was side-lined a few weeks ago – namely, to review my blog entries for the period when I was in Canada in October 2022.

The details of my mega train trip ARE NOW ON-LINE. It’s not actually the definitive version as it needs poof-reading, spel-checking, the tpying reviewed and the all-round plan
ning verifying.

Had I not had an unexpected … errr … relax, it might have been finished, but as it is, it’ll give you an idea of what I had to suffer.

There’s no doubt at all that Canada’s rail network, such as is still left, is nothing but a shambolic mess. And “shambolic” meaning that half of it is a sham and the rest of it is … errr … everything else.

Tea was a nice lot of steamed veg with these vegan meatballs in a cheese sauce. And it was delicious as usual. This cheese sauce that I make, a simple bechamel with a handful of grated vegan cheese, tarragon, chives and freshly ground black pepper in it, is really nice.

So am I going to watch a film now and crash out, or shall I just go to bed? I’m at the stage where my body is telling me one thing but my mind is telling me something else.

The end result will inevitably be the same – that I’ll fall asleep while I’m doing it.

So here’s hoping that my dreams come back. These days, they are the only excitement that I have. Like the time that I dreamed that I was eating a giant marshmallow, and then next morning had to buy a new pillow.

But thinking about all of these quotes from LORD OF THE RINGS that appear in these notes, I’ll probably end up Tolkein in my sleep.

Friday 2nd June 2023 – MY LUNCH TODAY …

… was just as good as last Friday’s.

And for the same reason too. I’d been for a walk down into the supermarket in town and they had more of the fresh broccoli on special offer.

So once again I chose the head with the thickest stalk and made a broccoli stalk soup.

Not that it did me much good though because we had something of s struggle throughout the day

Once again, I wasn’t up before the alarm went off. Its raucous rattle awoke me at 07:00 while I was deep in the arms of Morpheus and it was a struggle to leave my stinking pit.

But leave it I did, and before the second alarm too.

After the medication and checking the mails and messages I carried on with Canada 2017.

At the moment I’m on Day Three – happily wandering around my favourite building in Montreal, the abandoned Gare Viger GARE VIGER of the Canadian Pacific Railway which I think is the most beautiful building in the city.

It was a lovely day out and I certainly put the miles on Montreal’s public transport system and then a wander around the docks on my way to my hotel for an evening meal and bed.

But by the looks of things, during my time in Montréal I didn’t go to my favourite Indian café out at the Cote Vertu. I really must be slipping.

So with Day Three not yet finished – out of a total of 60 that I spent in North America that year, you can see that this is going to be a very loooooooooooong project.

But there is one thing, and that is that I’m beginning to understand why I wasn’t in a rush to finish things off once I became ill. And that’s because right now I’m having huge pangs of nostalgia and I can’t wait to be on a plane again for Montreal

However, although I know that being in Montreal on crutches is totally impractical, it doesn’t make much of a difference.

There was a break in the proceedings for my trip into town this morning. And walking down the hill I fell in with one of my neighbours and we had a good chinwag for quite some considerable time.

However, a little further on my right leg gave way again. Luckily I was leaning on a crutch at the time otherwise I would have ended up in an undignified heap, and I’ve ended up in more than a few of those in the old days with some of the cars that I owned.

At the Carrefour I bought the broccoli, some mushrooms, some more peppers for freezing (making sure that they weren’t too big for the air fryer) some peaches that were on special offer and another crusty bit of bread. I’ve I’m going to have broccoli stalk soup, I’m going to have it in unashamed luxury.

The walk back up the hill onto my rock from town finished me off as it usually does, but I blanched the broccoli and set it to drain while I made the soup.

Half an onion cut into small pieces and fried on a very hot heat with cumin and coriander, and then garlic, diced broccoli and a couple of diced small potatoes and left to simmer in the water in which I had blanched the broccoli.

After 20 minutes I went and whizzed it up, realising as I type these notes that I had forgotten to add a stock cube. Nevertheless, it was extremely nice with my crusty bread.

There was some stuff on the dictaphone from the night too. I’d been out somewhere in Caliburn. There was a bad tyre on him. I had some wheels in the back of the van so I bought a new tyre and had it fitted on the wheel. I drove to where I was going and then took out my tools to change the wheel. Everyone looked at my enormous power bar. You could see that they were impressed and about to say something about it but I changed the tyre anyway. Then I noticed that Caliburn’s Controle technique was about to expire. I phoned the garage but they said that there was nothing at all that they could do for 6 weeks. I thought “well, I’ll have to take that, won’t I? And trust to luck for a few weeks driving around without one. Then he said that he could fit it in on Saturday morning. However I wasn’t going to be here on Saturday morning. I’d still be in Leuven. I wasn’t sure at all what I could do. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity having made a fuss, otherwise I’d have to wait 6 weeks and it wouldn’t show me in any good light having made such a fuss and then turning down the appointment

Later on I was at a football match and we were in the dying seconds of the game. The ball went out for a throw-in. The team wanted to restart it really quickly. A few players including their goalkeeper ran to take it. Someone else from the other team took the throw-in and threw it really quickly while the goalkeeper was out of position so one of the other players tried to stop him advancing. He threw a punch. There was a huge melee after that. The referee had to pull everyone apart and had to find a megaphone to announce to the crowd what had happened, what he’d seen and what he would do.

Finally, a plane had gone down in the sea. While they reached the plane and were able to rescue it they couldn’t find any of the people who had been in it when it had hit the water. I don’t know where it went after that

So no Harry Potter, no family, no cats and no Castor, TOTGA or Zero.

What there was though was that I crashed out for some of the afternoon. It seems that walking down into town and back again is too much for me in my state of health.

But is it going to stop me? It reminds me of that sticker that I saw on the back of an old Renault a few years ago – “Nothing is going to stop me! Not even my brakes!”

Tea was the last of those small breaded quornburgers that had been in the freezer since the Dawn of Time. They went down well with another vegan salad and the remaining small potatoes cubed and fried in the air fryer.

Tomorrow I’ll be shopping and there’s quite a list of things that are running low again. I had to use my cherry tomatoes on the salad this evening and the cucumber had gone the Way of the West.

And then there’s some radio work to be done of course. I have to push on with that of course.

No football though. There’s a match here but I haven’t been at all this season to watch any game, never mind one in the French Fourth Division at the Stade Louis Dior. I’m having to content myself with internet highlights. I watched Partick Thistle v Ross County just now.

Nnot because I really wanted to but, as the old saying goes, “it’s the only game in town right now”.

Thursday 1st June 2023 – MY LASAGNE …

… for tea tonight was actually quite good.

There’s room for improvement of course but bearing in mind that this is the first one that I’ve made since I was living in Reyers more than 25 years ago, it was by no means disappointing.

There wasn’t enough filling, but that’s a minor problem. There’s enough food left nevertheless to make two more meals so it’s just as well that it worked.

What I did was to put some lentils in the slow cooker and slowly bring them to the boil. Then they were rinsed and put back in with clean water and some basil, oregano and tarragon. Mind you, I almost forgot to rinse them and had to leave my comfortable bed to do that.

Later on this afternoon I added some bulghour and later still, because there was still plenty of water, I added some porridge oats to soak it up and stiffen the mix.

At teatime I fried an onion and garlic with more of the herbs, added my mix from the slow cooker and some tomato concentrate, then layered alternate layers of pasta sheet and my cooked mix, topped it off with a thick cheese sauce and baked it in the oven, and away we went.

During the night I went away too. So much so that for a change just recently I wasn’t up before the alarm. It awoke me with a start when it went off but I didn’t hang around at all in bed.

After the medication and checking the mails and messages I had a listen to the dictaphone notes. And I really Had been away. Back at Hogwarts at one point too during the night with HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE seeing the kids at their dance. Ron had split up from Lavender Brown. There was another girl there who was sulking for some reason or other. Ron went to ask her to dance but she replied “they aren’t playing our tune”. All her friends told him to leave her alone. Just then the music started to play it so a couple of people went to dance her and missed. She moved away. I don’t know what happened to Ron and this girl then but Hermione was there dancing with someone whom I didn’t know when the dance floor collapsed. They carried on dancing and it looked as if they would dance into the ladies’ lavatory. Someone just coming out of the door said to hermione “do you want some paper as well?”. It all was very strange.

Back in Harry Potter again later and there was something about spying on someone’s house. It was very difficult to do. There was a fallen tree with its branches and we had to hide ourselves in the fallen tree’s branches to do it. We piled into a car and set out to drive. There was a lot of traffic and I was weaving in and out of it and almost had a collision with someone. They went in front of me and put their brakes on to slow down so I did too. We had a slow drive with all the traffic on the road. We came to Barbridge where there was a fallen tree in the middle of the road. I said to the others “lock your doors and hang on because this is a trap” thinking that someone had cut down the tree for it to fall across the road to stop us and ambush us when we left the vehicle to see what was happening.

Later still I’d seen an AC Cobra for sale in the local newspaper so Laurence and I went round to see it with Roxanne. It was somewhere off nantwich Road in Crewe so we eventually managed to find the house. We walked straight into the house without knocking. We found the car in a downstairs room covered by a blanket. First of all my taxi detector wouldn’t work. Then I realised that an AC Cobra wouldn’t have been a taxi anyway. Found the guy and his wife sitting in a room next door, not in the least perturbed by the fact that we were in their house. We went back into the room and began to look around at this vehicle. He told me that he wanted £30,000 for it, which I thought was cheap. But that turned out to be the deposit to take it for a test drive – it was really £250,000. There was no way that I could afford that. I pretended that I was interested and got down to look underneath it. It was quite badly rotten around the edges. I thought to myself “he’s asking for a lot of money for something in this kind of condition. Even if I were to buy it, I didn’t have the mobility to crawl around underneath it with welding tackle etc these days. There’s no way that I could consider this vehicle” but I wasn’t going to tell him that until I’d had a good look around to find out what else was wrong.

I was back in this dream again later on and we were leaving. Down at the bus station was a bus going to Mold. We were saying our goodbyes but the driver prepared to close the doors. This woman and I ran to the door and scrambled aboard. We had a look for the guy who was with us but he wasn’t on board. By now the bus had set off. I thought “never mind. We’re on here and Roxanne is on here”. I asked for two and a half to Mold. he smiled and said “I’m not going to Mold”. “Well, take us to wherever you’re going”. He gave me two and a half tickets which came to 11/-. The first thing that I did was seeing as I had some money ready I said that I’d give him the shilling but it was a £10 note. Then I had a 10/- note for him. He looked at me and asked “is that correct?”. I suddenly realised that I’d done, took the £10 note back and gave him 1/-. I went to sit down and to worry about contacting the other guy later. There were 2 boys on the bus who made some kind fo remark about me handing over a £10 note and how did I spot it from that distance? I replied “when you reach a certain age you don’t look at the money, you can smell the difference between the notes.

Much of the rest of the day has been spent on Day Two of my 2017 trip to North America and the page is practically finished. However, we did hit an obstruction.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that one thing always leads to another, and once you start, you’ll be surprised just how many other things there are.

The subject of Marguerite de Bourgeoys cropped up on that web page.

She was a big friend of Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve, the founder of Montreal and she was on one of the very first emigrant voyages to Nouvelle France where she occupied herself with spiritual works and the welfare of the filles du roi, the young girls from orphanages who were sent out to become brides for the soldiers who remained there to settle after having been discharged from the army.

They both came from Troyes which was on my shuttle route between Virlet and Brussels so on the very last time that I drove the route, instead of doing it overnight as I usually did, I took a whole week and visited every place of interest that I could find along the way.

One of the places that I visited was the family home of the Chomedeys and I found all of my photos. But seeing as Troyes is such a beautiful old town I took dozens of photos of many old house and I couldn’t remember which one was his.

No trace of the notes that I made, which was a surprise – especially as they were written up from the following day all the way back to Virlet.

In the end, I had to dive back into the bowels of the back-up disk and find the dictaphone recordings from the journey and re-transcribe the notes for the relevant day and mate them to the photos.

That’s another project that I’ll have to do one of these days. The road between the Belgian border at Rocroi and down to Nevers is one of the most beautiful and historic in all of France. I had a plan that when I was stuck for something to do (whenever that might be) I’d pick a long road like that, explore it thoroughly and write a book about it.

The TRANS LABRADOR HIGHWAY was done in 2010, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall and I’m doing Version 2.0 even as we speak.

After that, I wrote a pile of stuff about Lanouiller and de Bécancour’s CHEMIN DU ROY between Montreal and the city of Québec and all the way down the “Forgotten Coast” as far as it’s possible to go.

The road between Rocroi and Nevers was to be the third of the trilogy but ill-health and feeling sorry for myself somehow conspired to get in the way of all of my plans.

Someone else for whom I was feeling sorry for was the physiotherapist. He came by at 17:00 to tell me that he’s busy and will be back at 19:30. That was a major inconvenience, disrupting my evening like that and I made sure that he knew.

Rosemary phoned me at lunchtime and we had another one of our marathon chats that go on for ever. She’s being swept up by the turn of events and it’s not easy for “a stranger in a strange land” to deal with some of the things that go on. It’s not something that bothers me too much because I couldn’t care less, but Rosemary is much more sensible and focused than I ever am.

After she hung up, I went for a shower to clean myself up ready for His Nibs to come round and put me through my paces

As I mentioned earlier, tea was delicious. And now that I’ve finished my notes I’m off to bed.

Tomorrow I have to nip into town which will do me good. And then I have to carry on with Canada 2017 and sort out the mess that will be Trans-Labrador Highway Version 2.0

So once I finish that I’ll have to do Rocroi-Nevers next, then carry on with the Arctic stuff, go back and carry on with the Emigrant Trails stuff, organise the Grand Banks trips and probably 1000 other things too.

Never mind anything else – I’m far too busy to die right now.

Thursday 22nd December 2022 – WHAT CAN BE EASIER …

… than buying something, arranging for it to be picked up and shipped to a different address?

Absolutely everything, by the looks of things.

This blasted sunroof that I ordered, paid for and collected (one of my reasons for going to Canada just now) and then arranged to be taken away and delivered to France by a freighting company has now turned up back at the point of collection.

The box has been opened too and all of the special packaging that kept it safe from damage all the way from the manufacturer is “missing”.

It already took 6 weeks for it to be collected by the freighter and then it was away for just about a week or so before it ended up back.

The story (for what it’s worth) is that Customs had to inspect it before it went on board the aeroplane (I’m not quite sure why) and as a result it missed its flight. The freighter will “arrange for it to be picked up again” but we shall see about that.

What is quite upsetting is that it’s no longer in its secure factory packaging, and sending a glass sunroof by air mail without the proper packaging is going to be somewhat problematic.

This shoud have been something sooooooo easy to arrange but that’s not the case. I keep on saying that I ought to stop doing things for other people as I find it so stressful but I always manage to find myself “suckered in” because it’s “so easy”. But for reasons that I don’t understand, it never is.

At least I’d had a decent sleep for a change. I remembered being awake for two or three moments here and there but not for any significant time. Once again I didn’t manage to beat the second alarm but there wasn’t all that much in it. I suppose that that’s optimistic for the way things have been just recently.

Once I’d come round into the Land of the Living I made a start on the radio programme that I wanted to prepare for today. There were several interruptions though so I didn’t set any records today.

Firstly, I have joined the rank of the Old Biddies. My shopping trolley has arrived so I had to go downstairs to collect it, and then assemble it. But although it makes me feel as if I’m about 100, it’s safe to lean on when I’m walking and gives me a little support here and there.

It’s quite large too so doing some shopping in the town may well prove to be a little more easy in the future. We’ll have to see after Christmas when I’ll make another foray down to the Carrefour.

Liz was on line too so we had another long chat, and then I prepared the onions and garlic and mixed up all the filling for my pie. It needs to be cooled before I can put it in the pie shell so I thought that if I were to do it early, it would have time to cool down.

And then, rather regrettably, I dozed off for half an hour at some point too.

This afternoon I’ve had a baking fit, but not, I have to say, with a great deal of success.

My pastry wasn’t up to all that much. I’m out of practice, I reckon, and it wouldn’t roll out properly. It ended up as something of a bit og a bodge but it worked.

Next was to make a chocolate sponge cake. That rose quite nicely in the oven but then it collapsed again in the centre. However it’s better than nothing and I’ll cut it in half, join the two halves together with a layer of jam and then ice it. That’s going to be my Christmas cake for this year. It’s the best that I can do.

Next stop was a pile of fruit buns, and I forgot that I had no bananas. Nevertheless, that lot looked as if it might have worked.

Finally, I had a go at making potato cakes for breakfast over the Christmas period. These aren’t a great success but then I’ve never had very much luck with these. But making them in little silicone muffin cases in the air fryer was a good idea.

It was while all of this was going on that I had to deal with the fall-out from this parcels delivery and it’s all very confusing.

For tea tonight, I had something different. While I was searching through the stores I came across a couple of packets of instant chick-pea curry. I tried one with some rice and veg. It was different and I’ve tasted better, but things like this need to be used. I tried to make myself an ad-hoc naan bread to try with it. And while that wasn’t a success either, it wasn’t disagreeable.

There were a couple of things on the dictaphone too from last night. I was on board a ship serving as a crew and the telephone rang. Someone answered it although it was my job to do so so I took it to interrupt him. In the end he said the name of the ship and he said my name and then passed the ‘phone over to me. It was the Institute of Diabetics inviting me to a meeting. Basically I had no interest whatever going to see the Institute of Diabetics. It turned out that these were taking place on board a submarine and I had absolutely no interest whatever in going on board a submarine either but this other sailor had. He was having to work out his plans etc to see how he could possibly fit it all in etc in order to negotiate an invitation for himself. I couldn’t imagine anything worse than going on board a submarine for something like this.

Later on there was a girl called Dianne, a Ukrainian girl with black hair who wanted a portfolio of photos taking. I’d looked on a website and she’d done plenty of portfolios before but I couldn’t actually see what it was that she needed. I was wondering whether it was a case of her redoing some of the earlier ones. I had a sort-around and tried to get a few things together but we had an appointment at 20:00 that was quite important, a contentious one. I had a few things to finish and round about 19:40 I’d done that so I said to Nerina “we have 20 minutes before this appointment so while I make a few sandwiches, can we talk about our plan”. She was puzzled about the sandwiches so I asked what we were going to eat. It seemed that she hadn’t thought anything about sandwiches at all or any food. She could think vaguely about where she could find a sandwich but not anyone else. I could see that this whole situation was going to turn into a nightmare. I knew that the night before I’d been out somewhere. It was really late when I was coming home, in the small hours of the morning. As I walked past Warner’s shop in Shavington there were some lights on and some people in the shop. I stuck my head in and opened the door to ask if they were open. They replied “not really” but what did I want? I just had a bar of chocolate just to get me home. They sold me a Mars bar. This was when I first started thinking about thse photos, when I was on my way home with my Mars bar after that. The rest took place the following day. But I was amazed that no-one else was prepared or had a plan or had anything organised – all down to me again and I only had 20 minutes. It was plenty of time for what I wanted to do but for what everyone else wanted it was nothing at all and it was going to be chaos.

Later on I got back into that dream about Dianne with the two “n”s. That flared up again from the very beginning and we went through that again.

Strangely enough I once met a girl, many years ago, called Dianne (with two “n”s and long black hair) but she was from South Asia somewhere like the Philippines or Indonesia, somewhere like that. Whatever would she be doing suddenly making an appearance in my travels?

So now I’m going to try to have another early night. I’m pretty much ready for this too and see if I can manage another decent sleep. Tomorrow I’m going to have a shower and change my bedding, and then I have a neighbour to see. I have to pay her for the stuff that she bought for me the other day. I’d better have a really good clean-up.

Tuesday 25th October 2022 – MY WELSH LESSON …

… this morning was a disaster.

At least though I was there. And in spades too. When the alarm went off at 04:45 I was actually up and about. With having had no sleep the night before, I made sure that I was in bed early last night but even so I didn’t have much sleep. I was awake by 02:30 and had given up trying to go back to sleep round about 04:00 I hauled myself out of bed.

At one point I had been on my travels. There had been some kind of visit. We had a friend staying with us so I wasn’t working on the coaches that night. I was taking him and Nerina around showing him the town. Some girl had driven the coach that I should have been driving and she had STRAWBERRY MOOSE with her. It was late at night and we were on our way home and were discussing going down to the end of Beachey Head to show the guy the view from there night when we met the girl coming the other way in a kind-of Mini Moke machine. She flagged us down so we stopped. She gave Strawberry Moose back and said that she’d see us back home in a minute. After she left Nerina said “if we’re going there it’ll take us longer than a minute”. I replied “she was the one who made the arrangements. She’ll have to wait for us” and something about a song. There was a coach that had a certain song to perform so its registration number needed to be changed. Two of the coaches were identical but Nerina changed the number of the wrong one. I pointed it out to her but instead of changing it back and then changing the second coach’s number she went to change the number of the second coach first. That way she’d end up with two identical numbers and she wouldn’t know which one had been the original one which had been changed back. I could see that this was going to be extremely confusing but wit the woman turning up in this car she’d interrupted our train of thought in mid-action. This was bound now to lead to all kinds of confusion that we didn’t want to have and never be able to sort out.

With steam-driven internet, my loss of voice and all of that I couldn’t concentrate on anything so I just sat there and observed without contributing anything.

When the lesson finally finished I had my leftover slice of cold pizza and with checkout being at 11:00, I set the alarm for 10:00 and went back to bed. I didn’t sleep but just relaxed ready for the corvée that is to follow.

At 11:00 I went down to reception, stored my luggage in the still-incomplete after all these years annexe and went for a walk in the sunshine.

In the Rue St Catherine I stocked up with medication. And then sat for a couple of hours in the glorious weather. In fact I shall be sorry to say goodbye, maybe for ever, to Montreal. Sitting here in the Place Gamelin in short shirt sleeves in Summer temperatures with not a cloud in the sky watching the leaves falling at my feet.

At 14:00 I went back to the hotel, picked up my possessions and began the long, slow crawl to the bus stop The bus was actually there but the driver was having a break so we has to sit around and wait for him to finish.

Driving down the Boulevard René Levesque we hit every traffic light on red and then at our final pick-up we had to retrace our steps somewhat because of the roadworks and deviations.

Apart from the heavy traffic on the highway it was an uneventful drive and we were there by 15:20. By now I was pretty much played out so I staggered off to the check-in. Having checked in on-line last night my aisle seat was already reserved. I handed over my suitcase and drank my last can of energy drink

While finishing my drink I noticed that there was only a handful of people waiting in the queue for Security so I thought “sod it – I may as well go now while it’s not busy. Better sooner than later”.

And I don’t know what has happened here, but I have made many remarks about how the Dorval Airport – called these days the Pierre Trudeau Airport – has the rudest, most uncivil staff in the world but today I was impressed by their politeness and amiability. Times are certainly changing.

There was several hours to wait but a radio thriller of 150 minutes passed the time quite nicely. I’ve downloaded tons of old radio plays and shows to which I wan listen. It help pass the time

The plane had several empty seats but I was on the end of a row of three. And we were crammed in too because I had a lot of stuff with me. There are new rules on aeroplanes that you have to carry on board with you all of the electronic items that you have. And as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I have plenty of that.

Our take-off was about 10 minutes late and everyone settled down to sleep except me because I couldn’t sleep with all this coughing that I’m doing.

We were served our evening meal in the dark – probably a cunning plan so that we don’t get to know what we are eating. I was assured that my meal was vegan but I remain unconvinced.

And then we hurtled off into the night

Monday 24th October 2022 – TODAY WAS ABSOLUTELY …

… awful.

It started with me struggling to fall asleep on board this train and finished with me having yet another spectacular fall, this time on the platform of the “Berri-UQAM” Metro Station. It doesn’t get any worse than this.

Last night I mentioned that the carriage in which I was travelling was more modern and luxurious than the one on which I travelled down to Moncton. That much was true but that was all that could be said for it. The seats didn’t recline at all and I just couldn’t make myself comfortable.

Nevertheless, I did manage to go to sleep for about three hours and there is even something on the dictaphone to prove it. I fell asleep listening to “Murder on the Orient Express”. The train pulled into a station in a big city. I alighted and went through a door, down some stairs and found myself in the cellar of this railway station where there was a ticket booth or similar with 3 clerks sitting in it. I turned round to retrace my steps but couldn’t recognise the route that I’d taken. I was sitting there scratching my head thinking “how am I going to find my train?” when I heard it start up and pull out of the railway station.

Later on we were on the train with a pile of stuff. We weren’t supposed to let it congeal together. I had this cough that was keeping me awake and annoying all the other people too. I must have fallen asleep because I didn’t remember anything after that. Then an alarm went off. I thought that it was mine so I sat bolt upright. My eyes were stuck together with this liquid stuff that is coming out of my eyes. I couldn’t see anything and I didn’t know how to separate them either.

And finally we were going somewhere as a family. I don’t know who was with us but someone was coming to pick us up. It was a long way and we had to be ready by 04:00. I heard that person coming while I was asleep and I awoke to find them coming to the door. Pretending that I was wide awake I said something in a very cheerful voice that we were all ready and raring to go. Then I found that I’d gone back to sleep again and none of the rest of my family had got up yet either

The rest of the journey was spent coughing all the way to Montreal, nibbling on a bit more baguette and eating a banana. No coffee though. There was a tea-trolley service on the train down but not on the way back. Luckily I’d stocked up with liquids. As I’m not eating, I still have to keep myself hydrated.

The agonising journey (which I would have enjoyed in other circumstances) drew to a halt about 15 minutes late (which was a surprise for everyone, a mere 15 minutes) and I staggered onto the platform.

I could feel that there was something not quite correct but I pressed on. And I was glad that there was an escalator up to the upper floor because I would never have made it up the stairs.

Having collected my suitcase with HIS NIBS I set off on the marathon crawl to the Metro Station.

Any disabled person thinking of wandering around the subterranean labyrinth of the centre of Montreal needs to think again. They have some escalators here and there that take to mezzanine floors where you have steps to take you the rest of the way.

And some of the escalators don’t work and you have to walk down and had not a friendly, helpful youth not carried my suitcase down to the bottom of one of them I’d still be there now.

And then some of the corridors are carpeted which means that your rolling suitcase comes to a dead stop with a velcro-like effect.

The metro ride to “Berri-UQAM” was uneventful but at the station itself I encountered some of the worst of humanity. There I was, collapsed on the platform and I asked some man if her could help me to my feet. He just looked away and walked straight past. A couple of young girls came to my rescue and with a great effort helped me to my feet while several other people just stood around.

In absolute agony I crawled to my hotel. Of course the room wasn’t ready but I know the people here and they soon had it ready which was nice of them. There’s no lift here though and I had to crawl up the steps to the first floor.

Luckily I was able to leave my luggage downstairs. The chambermaid brought up my backpack and the manager brought up my suitcase later.

By this time I was flat-out on the bed asleep. And I managed a couple of hours of, for once, blissful sleep.

A little later I had a nice hot shower and washed my clothes, and then got back into bed. Not that I slept but it was simply to rest my leg and take it easy.

In the early evening I tempted fate and went out again. I think that I’m keeping alive the entire Canadian pharmaceutical industry right now because with the stuff that I bought in Moncton not having any particular effect, I went to the chemist’s down the road and received different advice.

On the way back I went to try a slice of pizza but I could only eat half of it. This complete loss of appetite isn’t a fiction at all. So guess what I’m having for breakfast.

Back here I went straight to bed. I have a Welsh lesson in the morning at … errr … 05:00, not that I’m feeling in the least like it, but I have to push myself on.

But honestly, I’ve never felt as bad as this and I’m worried about the next couple of stages of this journey

Sunday 23rd October 2022 – DAY FOUR …

… of my enforced hibernation and I’ve actually made it out of the house.

And even as we speak, I am hurtling through the night and the Canadian Maritime Forest somewhere in between Miramichi and Bathurst. Well, not exactly “hurtling” because the speed of this train is, shall we say, “disappointing”.

Last night I went to bed early with the idea of having a decent 10-hour sleep but in actual fact I didn’t sleep at all. Not for a minute. I saw every minute of that ten hours and probably much more besides.

When the alarm went off I arose from the bed, did some paperwork and then packed everything ready to go. We had a hot drink and then headed to the bus stop in Florenceville. We arrived early for the bus too – regular readers of this rubbish will recall that on one occasion it came early and left me behind.

The drive down to Moncton in the frost was quite uneventful and we weren’t actually all that late, which makes a change. Then I had a four-hour wait.

When they opened the check-in, I deposited my suitcase and staggered over to the chemist’s for some medication, and then across the road to Sobey’s for some supplies for the journey. I suppose that I’m going to start eating and I want to have some food when I’m ready.

The train was only 20 minutes late, which is something of a record, And, for a change, I’m in the modern part of the train. It might be much better fitted out but it’s not as comfortable which is rather bizarre.

So off we went with me coughing all the way, and I’ve eaten a banana and a lump of baguette, the first food that I’ve had for 72 hours. So now I’m going to settle down and try to sleep. Surely I can’t go 48 hours without any sleep at all?

Saturday 22nd October 2022 – DAY THREE …

… of my enforced isolation saw me have very little sleep as this ‘flu raged away, and even Cujo the Killer Cat could do little to comfort me.

Before going to work Rachel made me a mug of hot lemon and honey and then I went and had a shower and a clothes-washing session.

There were three trips outside today too – the first to hang up the washing, the second to rescue some possessions from Strider and the third to rescue the washing later.

The first trip out was the most exiting. As I went outside Gilligan, the young long-haired cat came scampering down the bank to show me the mouse that he had caught. Very proud of himself, he was. And after I’d congratulated him he took it off to play with it.

When Rachel came back she plied me with medication and we had a long chat about our plans for tomorrow before I went off to bed, ready for my 27-hour marathon.

Well, I’m not actually ready for it. This has been one trip too many.

Friday 21st October 2022 – DAY TWO …

… of my enforced isolation while I try to shake off this ‘flu. I’ve probably been out of my room half a dozen times at most, mainly for the bathroom and to find water.

So far I’ve been 36 hours without food because the whole back of my throat seems as if it’s on fire.

None of the foregoing has prevented me from wandering off during the night. There was something like an old abandoned gas terminal on the border somewhere in Jersey that was being offered for sale as a private mooring and was being offered for sale for £30,000 but I can’t remember anything more about it.

And later we were at a National Express turn-round spot. A coach had just come up from Abingdon with the southern part. Someone had come down from the northern part and swapped over ready to go back. We talked about a white coach that the company down south had bought. Then it came round to being in the hospital. I was in hospital and one woman asked the doctor “does it really matter what I wear if I come to visit him?”. The doctor said “to me, no but other people might find it quite disturbing if you were to wear something that would display more than it ought etc”.

Let’s see how Day Three unfolds

Thursday 20th October 2022 – JUST IN CASE …

… you’re wondering what is going on, I’ve caught the ‘flu. And this is the ‘flu to end all ‘flus. I’ve never felt as bad as this.

Normal service will be resumed when I’m feeling better.

For a while I was actually not too bad and even managed to run down to Fredericton in Strider to deliver some feed from the mill and to do a little shopping ready for going home, but things just went slowly worse throughout the day.

But in the meantime, I’ve been going off on quite a few voyages. I was moving into my house in Winsford. I was talking to someone on the internet. They were also planning on moving in to a new house so we were just basically chatting about that. My father and his second wife were around. Suddenly a vehicle identical to the one to which I was just talking pulled up in the drive of the house and all these people got out. They began to move suitcases etc about. I could see that they were to people to whom I’d just been talking. It looked as if they were going to be my neighbours just across the road. We began to chat a little then we moved out of their way to give them room to manoeuvre their suitcases.

And later we were going somewhere. I can’t remember who was with me now. We were in Caliburn. We came to a set of road works controlled by traffic lights. We were let through when they changed to green but had to wait a moment while a tarmacking machine went past. Then we had to set out to climb this steep hill to a road junction. They had really freshly tarred it so trying to find a grip on it was pretty much impossible. There was a great danger that we would slide everywhere. By now, instead of being in Caliburn I was on a bike. That made things a hundred times worse. There were people coming from all kinds of directions. I didn’t want to have to swerve around too much in case I’d fall over with there not being any grip on this road as yet with the hot tar.

My friend from near Ellesmere was going to come over so I had to make all kinds of arrangements with her. I had to speak to a pub landlord about making sure that she was welcomed etc so I had to fill in a questionnaire. I was in this pub with someone else while the pub landlord was reviewing the questionnaire. It was also the birthday of one of the daughters of my niece so I found an envelope and had to write a little message to her but I kept on confusing the names and was writing this message to my friend but of course it was to my niece’s daughter to whom I wanted to leave it. On the way out of the pub I had to pick up the questionnaire that I’d filled in. I saw that he’d given me 11 out of 11. He said in some rudimentary and basic French that my friend would be welcomed over there when she passed through so I picked up the paperwork and began to walk out.

At another moment I was with my friend from South Carolina. We’d been in a chemist’s shop and asked if he had a box. A chemist’s shop in a shopping precinct. he thought that he’d thrown out all of his boxes but in the end he found a box that he gave to us for which we were grateful. Then we were wandering around this shopping mall. Next morning we had to leave quite quickly. I was chatting to a Welsh tutor about some kind of problem that had arisen that had had him talking to his students for hours during the night. We were wondering how many other tutors had been disturbed by this and their families upset at ridiculous hours. My friend stopped to have a cup of tea. I didn’t think that we had time but he did anyway. He took the tea and someone asked me if they’d made it properly. I said “as long as the water is poured when it’s absolutely boiling that’s absolutely great”.

Wednesday 19th October 2022 – I’VE BEEN DISPLAYING …

… my culinary prowess today. And considering that I have been doing it in the house of someone who is a fully-qualified chef with years of commercial experience and who actually ate what I prepared, then that’s something of a feather in my cap and no mistake.

This morning Rachel sent me a message from work to the effect of “why don’t we have a curry for tea?” and I took that as a hint.

There was plenty of time to make one too because there wasn’t a great deal on the dictaphone and I’ll attend to that in due course.

So once I’d raised myself from the dead, had my medication and checked my mails and messages I set to work.

Yesterday I’d been thinking that I ought to stir my stumps and head out earlier, but when I saw the rain cascading down in sheets, I was glad that there was something to do.

It’s difficult cooking in someone else’s house because you don’t know where everything is, and Rachel doesn’t have the types of spices that I use but I managed to make something quite respectable in the end.

Not too spicy though because Darren’s palette isn’t the same as ours. It reminds me of another time and place when we used to have these communal meals. I’d take a lentil and pepper “curry”. All of the French people would be gasping for breath and fanning their mouths while the British people would be going “what’s this insipid nonsense?”.

When it was ready I heaved the cats out, much to their disappointment, and then headed for the mill.

First task there was to find enough cardboard to wrap an amplifier. Three years ago in Ottawa I’d bought one of the best bass amps ever made but I hadn’t sent it to Europe, planning to do it the next year. But Covid had put paid to that idea. So hopefully, this year it’s going back with the sunroof that I have ordered for that Ford.

Eventually we headed for home where everyone enjoyed my curry. And then I transcribed the dictaphone notes. I had to catch a train so I ran. We were on a railway station. It said that there was an additional train running and would be in the station in a couple of minutes. I had to run down the platform, run across the bridge, run down the other side and jump aboard. Whoever I was with, I remember saying that I couldn’t have done that a year ago. The train was one of these multiple units, the type that plied between Stoke on Trent and Manchester in the 70s. It was pretty crowded but I found a place to sit by the door so that I could say goodbye to whoever I was with and the train pulled off. Somewhere along the line there was a girl who had some kind of connection with me, whether she was an adopted daughter or cousin or something I dunno but she was big for her age. We’d left her somewhere; When we returned on this train she’d dyed her hair. We made a few comments about her hair, that kind of thing. She was wearing these jeans with holes in the legs. I was talking to some Indian guy. He was wondering why I seemed to have had preferential treatment about seats and so on on this aeroplane. I showed him a voucher that I had which showed that I was a member of some kind of flight plan with this airline. He rummaged through his papers and found that he had one as well. I asked him why he never said anything. He replied that it was all too late by now to do anything.

And now I’m off to bed. Early as it may be, I’m busy tomorrow. The feed truck missed a customer today so they need several sacks of grain delivering to somewhere around Fredericton. it’ll be a good run-out again.

However there’s been a heavy cold going round the mill and the tyre depot and it’s my turn to come down with it. I hope that it’s just a 24-hour thing and I can shake it off tonight. But having no immune system, it’s not so easy.

We’ll see how things develop.

Tuesday 18th October 2022 – A FUNNY THING …

… happened this morning. But anyone who knows anything about cats will know that there is nothing whatever strange about it.

The alarm went off as planned at 05:45 ready for my Welsh lesson but immediately (and I DO mean “immediately”) Cujo the Killer Cat jumped on me and trapped me in bed.

She refused to move until she’s had a good 20 minutes of strokes and consequently I was late for my lesson.

Once the lesson began she came and sat on my knee for an hour or so, hogging the camera while the lesson continued.

At last I think that I’ve sorted out the best way to deal with the Zoom meetings on this computer.

A year or so ago I upgraded it by swapping the hard drive for a solid-state drive but the processor is still quite slow. Zoom uses up all of the resources which means that when I open the course book *.pdf the Zoom window stutters. However if I minimise the Zoom window so that it shows “active speaker only” then it doesn’t work too badly.

As for the lesson itself it passed quite quickly and it wasn’t too bad. In fact I did rather well in what I was asked to do. But I really need to work on my vocabulary. Well, more than that actually. I’m feeling that I’m falling way behind.

After the lesson finished I … errr … relaxed for a while and then had a listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night. We were at an archaeological dig last night having to clean some of the artefacts. There were quite a few of us there. I found some kind of switch made from bakelite from the 1950s. It was extremely delicate and took me ages to get into all the nooks and crevices etc to scrape away years years of dust. Then I had to go to work on some kind of miniature man, wrap him in ivy seeds and ivy runners. It was called a “gorseinon” whatever that might be. I didn’t have a clue how to do this but there was some young girl there who was making one who gave me some instruction as to how to do it, hanging part of it around his neck and twisting it round so that the whole length of whatever it is that you had was covering his whole length to varying degrees.

Then I was out with Rachel. We were shopping somewhere. She was telling us about all the chaos there had been over the Christmas shopping. She had a list of shops that she wanted to visit but there was so much chaos on the roundabout and traffic junctions that she never actually managed to make it to one particular shop which was a pretty important one on the list. She was describing to me how people just take so much time doing their shopping because they would want to talk to the counter clerk, inane, banal things. She was imitating some of their conversation in this perfect Canadian accent while everyone in the queue with us was listening and smiling. We’d already had some kind of chaos on the roundabout with telling some stories to my brother who was in the car behind and was so intent on listening that he ended up being in the wrong lane coming into this roundabout and caused an almighty snarl-up of his own while he tried to sort himself out and get him on the right track

There was also something that I vaguely remember about a gold BMC1800 “ADO17” being parked up at a house in Canada. And that’s a surprise because the car was never available in North America as far as I can tell.

After lunch I headed off down to the mill again. It was quite busy there these days especially as they are loading up the feed truck to go on a delivery round. But these days I’m in no condition to help out as I used to.

But at least I think that I’ve worked out why the transmission in Strider might be slipping occasionally. There wasn’t a drop of oil in the gearbox so I topped it up – with about a litre of hypoid.

Strider has been stood for three years, I know, but I didn’t think that the oil would leak out over time. I shall have to put him up on a ramp and see of there’s a leak. Gone are the days when I could crawl underneath.

We were there until quite late this evening and when we came home, we were in no mood to cook. Consequently we ended up with leftovers. I had what I had yesterday except with a baked potato instead of the spaghetti squash.

Rachel and I chatted for a couple of hours and made plans for the future, and now I’m off to bed. Tomorrow I’m going to start to pack as I ought to be thinking about going home.

Not that I want to, but I can’t stay here for ever. Apart from anything else, I have no fewer than 6 hospital appointments in Leuven a week on Thursday. Things are hotting up.

Monday 17th October 2022 – HAVING GONE TO ..

… bed quite early last night, I ended up not going to sleep for quite a while. In fact, it was almost midnight when I finally went to sleep – at least as far as I can remember.

With no-one coming to see me during the night, there was plenty of time for me to go off for a wander or two. I went to Spain last night, a small town just over the border. what had happened was that again I was having loads of problems and issues etc in work (and isn’t this a regular occurrence?). As I was well-past retirement age I didn’t really care much so one morning I just didn’t go in. I had a piece of music from a rock group on an old LP that was actually the National Anthem of a group of revolutionaries somewhere. They had borrowed my LP because at 07:00 every morning they played the National Anthem on their radio station and had a little speech. They asked me if I wanted to join them so with nothing better to do I decided that maybe I would. I turned up there at 07:00 and they kitted me out with some equipment but no arms and they sent me off on a foot patrol around Shavington. That’s how I ended up on this foot patrol in Spain. I walked around the outskirts of this town a little, and then I found the town centre. It was full of all dubious characters and old British cars as well, and old cars that I didn’t know what they were. I was in a real paradise looking at these Reliants and Ford Anglias, all sorts of stuff. As I was walking down this alleyway I went past a house where a woman looked at me, noticed that I was British. She tidied up her cat out of the way and asked me if I wanted some Coca-Cola. I said “no” but we started to chat.

Later in I was back in Spain again, back in this dream and wandering around the town trying to find a place to hang my towel rail. In the end I found some kind of shop where there were crowds of people who might have had some screws but he told me that there was some kind of communal field on the edge of town where everyone took their clothes to hang up and dry. He pointed it out to me and said that that was where I had to go.

Finally I was in the Welsh Premier League headquarters. There had been a complaint than a Welsh club had entered the English FA Cup and was therefore ineligible to enter the Welsh Cup. It seemed that the Welsh FA had missed it so I went down to Premier League headquarters to lodge a complaint on behalf of the fans. I met someone there, some woman, and we had the same acquaintances in Welsh football. We were discussing things but she wouldn’t keep to the point. She kept on going off on a tangent and it was very difficult to haul her back into the matter that we were discussing. She sent all of her colleagues out for a tea break for half an hour while she talked to me as well. I’d no idea what her intention was at that particular moment. As I’d set out, I’d left the apartment with my partner and her child. I had to go back for something but found that she hadn’t locked the apartment door. I sent her a message but because I didn’t have anything to write I used my thumbnail to make an impression of the letters on some obje0ct or other and left it so that she could see it.

Interestingly, back in 2006 when there was talk in the Welsh FA headquarters about reorganising the league competitions, I was chosen by a group of fans to be their representative to go down to headquarters to meet the Competitions Secretary to discuss the concerns that the fans had.

Once everyone had gone off to work I dragged myself out of my bed and had my medication. And then I sat down to transcribe the notes from the dictaphone.

In the middle of all of it, Cujo the Killer Cat came to sit on my knee. In fact she didn’t sit but turned round and round, climbed up and over me and then once she had attracted my full attention she ran to the front door and asked to be let out. She knows the score well enough.

When I’d finished the dictaphone notes I went and had a shower and a clothes-washing session to pretty myself up, and then had lunch. Toasted cheese with tomato.

Once I was ready I went up to the mill to chat to Rachel and Zoe until throwing-out time. And that was rather later than usual too. Back here I had to wait for everyone else to turn up and to talk to a couple of guys who needed roadside assistance.

Tea was a vegan burger with onion, garlic and tomato and, totally new for me, spaghetti squash. Not my favourite but it’s nice to try something new.

Back in here I had to write out the dictaphone notes again because for some unknown reason I seemed to have wiped out the file but I really don’t know how or why, and then I wrote out the notes for today.

And early though it might be, I’m off to bed. I have a Welsh lesson in the morning so it’s another 05:45 start. But I’m more interested in what time it will finish.