Tag Archives: helen_p

Monday 4th March 2024 – JUST LIKE OLD …

… times last night.

Yes – while I was in bed last night I was tossing and turning around all through the night, there’s plenty of diverse stuff on the dictaphone and I’ve not crashed out once.

And so I’ve no idea what I’ve done wrong – or right, as the case may be – but it’s certainly working. So make the most of it – carpe diem.

It wasn’t as if last night was an early night either. It was just one of the normal “God help me – I’m running late again” type of nights that I seem to be having right now, but eventually I hauled myself off into bed and to sleep – after a fashion, that is.

When the alarm went off I fell out of bed again and went to check the blood pressure. 15.3/8.5 this morning compared to 15.5/10.0 last night. So not much difference there.

So eventually I managed to crawl off and and go for my medication.

The fruit buns that I had cooked yesterday were sufficiently cooled to go into the freezer. There’s enough in total for three or four weeks. What with that and my home-mode bread, I’m glad that I ordered some flour at the last delivery.

Having tidied up and put away most of the things in the kitchen I came back in here to make a start on the dictaphone notes – and to finish them after breakfast. Erik Dromore, a Norwegian, whoever he is but I don’t know him, who had come to live in Wales. He was very interested in cars when he was young. He had a car when he was only 14 which made all of us jealous. He had a lot of fun trying to insure it etc and was always being involved in Police interactions etc. He developed it so that it would split apart so that if he was stopped the part with him in it could escape leaving the other part behind as a kind of dummy that would be investigated and found to be nothing whatever of any importance. But it made all of us jealous that he had his own vehicle and we didn’t and he was that age.

Later on I also had a message from someone at school; asking me if I’d seen a certain girl. She was at school yesterday and should have been there today but wasn’t. I told them to speak to her brother because he’d known much more about her movements than I would. After all, it wasn’t as if the girl and I were actually being a lot involved or dong anything at this particular moment.

And that was a shame because I would have loved there to have been. She was a girl on whom I had quite a crush when I was at school but like most girls whom I knew, she had far more sense than to become entangled with me.

She went to University in Manchester after school and to my surprise we actually bumped into each other while I was living there. We went out on a couple of dates, much to my delight, but it was clear that h whatever interest she had was going in a different direction than mine and it was pointless trying to pursue it

That was definitely some kind of story, not of “what might have been” but more of “what would never ever be in a month of Sundays”. There I was, a long-haired rocker playing bass and singing in a reasonably successful pub-rock band, driving either an old J4 van or a Ford Transit that wasn’t much newer. Picture me in a three-bed semi in suburbia with a wife, 1.8 cars and 2.4 kids.

And then … being involved … "did you miss the front off this?" – ed … in all of this liquid that we had to collect – I did mention that, didn’t I … "no you didn’t" – ed … where there was a liquid that had been made with porridge and garlic, stuff like that poured into a great big vat and we had to collect it together as a team despite being attacked by balls of this liquid being thrown by other people? We had to collect 5 big bowls of it. That was our prize but the other teams were progressively trying to stop us. This was another occasion where it seemed that every time we made one step forward we ended up taking two steps backwards. We were really struggling until I found a huge bowl of this product that had come into my bedroom during the night. I’d no idea how or why but it actually matched the consistency and colour so I took it in and they counted it.

Now come on. You don’t really expect a dream to make any sense, do you? But it certainly sounds exciting. Maybe someone will invent a TV reality programme about it.

But I liked the bit about making a liquid. It reminds me of 1998 at Nottingham where a group of us from the University at Summer School successfully invented a liquid that dissolved absolutely everything with which it came in contact.

And then at the University Summer School at Norwich in 1999 (where I went with Annette, the young girl from Barbados) where we unsuccessfully tried to invent a container in which to store it.

After that we were on a motorway somewhere. There was someone on a motor bike who had had a joust with someone who had been going on the same carriageway as facing them as they tried to prevent us from going anywhere. In the end, after several attempts we managed to get under way. As we were under way I’d been talking to the boy who had joined us for the first time. he was telling us that his father was involved in this and he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps. Several of us told him that it was a wrong decision because your father would be there continually criticising you and measuring you against things that he did. In the end we talked him into going into our business. He was an extremely good catcher. At the end of the day he finished with cutlery in and none of any other runs of cutlery that the other team was throwing at us. He managed to identify our things correctly, keep them with us and throw away the other things despite how many other things they threw at us and how quickly they did it.

Then some girl was living in a houseboat. She was voted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a singer. She had accepted the nomination and was busy rehearsing things with her father ready to go up and receive the award. She lived in a houseboat, so it appeared, and had ween another community so had sailed up the canal to this other community to make her home. She saw a plot of land with landing stage that hadn’t been occupied by anyone. She asked the land agent about it who confirmed that it was free. She spoke to the estate agents about buying it and was quoted £5002 which was a really good price so she bought it and introduced herself to her new neighbours and said something like she hoped that everything would go according to their plans, to which they replied “they certainly would as long as she was to keep the music down and keep her pets from going in all the adults’ waste materials in the barn

Finally there was some guy loitering around the entrance to one of the caves in LORD OF THE RINGS. He was hoping to see a young elf-girl and sure enough, she appeared. He told her that he was planning on buying a new dress for the ball that was taking place shortly and would she like to come? She agreed. She felt with her fingers and was able to write on him his size so that the girl in the clothes shop would know what size to buy without having to measure him. He rushed off to the dress shop. To his dismay the dress shop was closed for holidays until 16th July and the dance was taking place on the 2nd. Never mind – he went to the elf shop to pick up his elf-weapon but again, the elf shop was also closed until 10th July for holidays so he was really frustrated about this – nothing he wanted was going to be available. One of the elves then sent him off in an unusual direction where he encountered a German clothing specialist who was unable to sort him out but came up with a few suggestions. He also encountered an armourer who likewise gave him a few suggestions. He shot off to the orc workshop and found that that was undergoing some kind of building repair work but nevertheless they agreed to give him something.

In the past I’ve had plenty of people make all kinds of suggestions to me when I’ve been stuck for something or other. But many of them have been physically impossible and the rest have been far from helpful.

However, wouldn’t it be nice if I could find a nice young elf-maiden to take to a dance with me right now? Not that it would do me much good of course, except for my self-esteem, and that’s quite important. As I’ve said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … I may not be able to walk the walk but I can certainly talk the talk.

And that reminds me of when I was going to a dance at the Grand Hotel in Oostende a few years back. I squeezed into a crowded lift and said "ballroom, please"
Another passenger in there said "I’m sorry – I’ll move in further"

There was a pause in the middle of all of that for my fruit bun and coffee. And I do have to say that the fruit buns were the best that I have ever made, especially warmed for 30 seconds in the microwave. I think that I have the hang of those now, and the diced dates make a nice difference too.

But while we’re on the subject of baking … "well, one of us is" – ed … I need to think about my hot cross buns. Check my recipe to make sure that I have everything because my next order from LeClerc might be my last before the cut-off date for baking.

My buns from last year were something of a failure because the dough didn’t rise. But at least they tasted like hot cross buns and that’s important.

For the rest of the day I’ve been dealing with the radio programme that I should have finished yesterday.

There were plenty of interruptions, including time out to have a really good wash and to bandage my ankle where I have this problem

Luckily I have plenty of sanitary dressings which is good news. They should help keep the wounds clean

And my chili hummus? Absolutely wicked. As I’ve said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … no danger of any vampires ever coming around here with the amount of garlic that I use.

Tea tonight was a delicious stuffed pepper and how I enjoy making these. With pasta and vegetables they are delicious.

There’s enough stuffing for a couple of days too. I want stuffing on Wednesday to put in a left-over curry to go with my naan bread. Now that I have divided the flour mix correctly into 6 portions of 90 grams instead of 9 portions of 60 grams, things on the naan front are going better

So having finished my notes, I’m off to bed where I’m hoping for another restless night with plenty of dreams about food.

And about Zero, Castor and TOTGA too. It’s been a little while since they have been around

But then like that character whose name I have forgotten in “An Item Of Cartography” – "Life is all one big huge joke. Nothing matters much except having a sense of humour"

Saturday 27th January 2024 – SITTING IN MY FRIDGE …

… right now, even as we speak, is a bottle full of carrot and broccoli water from when I blanched and froze those carrots and broccoli the other day.

That’s right. Brain of Britain here forgot about it and so didn’t use it for making his broccoli stalk soup today

Mind you, the soup was still really nice and I enjoyed every last drop of it. I thought that I’d made enough for two days but after the first couple of drops soaked up into a lump of bread roll made fresh yesterday, the idea of saving anything for another time went right out of the window.

There have been plenty of broccoli stalk soups that have passed through these pages so if you want to see the recipe, just click on the “broccoli and potato soup” tag at the foot of this entry and it will take you to several pages.

In these pages I talk a lot about my cooking, and for several reasons too.
Firstly, my mother was a hopeless cook so I spent a lot of time later living out of tins. It wasn’t until I met Nerina that I began to eat really well. With an Italian mother, what do you expect? I learnt a lot from Nerina, and from Liz and also from that Italian Restaurant in Wandsworth where I worked one winter
Secondly, I’m proud of what I cook. Although it’s pretty basic stuff, I eat really well considering.
Thirdly, with not going out or anything like that I have plenty of time on my hands and I need a good hobby. I’ve arranged my kitchen so that if I prop myself up in the corner between the sink and the hob, almost everything except the freezer in the bathroom is at arm’s length and I don’t have to move anywhere
Fourthly, if anyone can ever suggest any improvements in my recipes feel free to send me some tips. I’m always grateful to receive them.

But that Italian restaurant was a riot.

It all began with a friend of mine living in Newcastle upon Tyne complaining that he was unemployed and couldn’t find a job. I told him to go to London where there were plenty of jobs. But he found excuse after excuse to everything I said.

In the end I was so fed up that one winter when I had nothing to do I put an ad in one of these local newspapers in London asking for a room. And I had one in Wandsworth arranged within half an hour.

On the train (I was determined not to use the car) I came to London, the Underground to Wandsworth and then a bus to my digs. I was installed.

Before I’d even unpacked I walked down to the High Street past a parade of shops where there was an Employment Agency and an Italian Restaurant. And within 15 minutes I had a day job driving a bus for schoolkids for Merton Borough Council and an evening job delivering food

The Christmas period was chaos though. The schools had closed so I was full-time in the restaurant. There at 06:00 to prepare for opening (as a café) at 07:00. Close at 14:00 and then prepare for the evening.

When you finished, everyone slept underneath the nice warm pizza ovens for three hours or so before getting up at 18:00 ready to open at 19:00. When the restaurant closed, you’d prepare for the next morning.

No question of “that is your job, this is my job”. Everyone did everything – cooking, waiting at table, preparing, driving. My tomato sauce actually passed muster in a professional environment, thanks, Nerina.

It was absolutely insane, but I daren’t tell you how much money I took back to Brussels after three months, all in used fivers in a plain brown envelope.

However, let’s turn our attention to last night. In bed nice and comfortably for once, rather later than I was hoping, I was asleep quite quickly as you might expect after this anti-potassium stuff.

However, it was quite a turbulent night . On the dictaphone there was a ton of stuff, much of which has an important significance so it really must have been quite interesting too.

I started out with my rock group last night. There was something going on, whether it was a rehearsal or something I dunno. I was in the middle of playing one of our numbers when wherever we were was raided by the police. We managed to get the young girl violinist away before anyone said anything but the police wandered around, noticed that she wasn’t there and insisted that she be brought. We said that it was impossible so they threatened us for a blood test etc. They kept on insisting that she turn up. This was going to turn into a rather nasty situation. I was in some kind of school hall or something I dunno. When the guy with me said “have you ever seen the dawn rise in the morning?” he took me outside and we watched the sun slowly rise over the horizon.

And you’ll be surprised about how much truth there is in a short tale like that. One of these days I’ll tell you about it but the World isn’t ready yet to hear the story.

That thing about me and the World War that broke out. The Germans bombed all around Mill Lane and the British denounced them as terrorists yet all around Mill Lane (wherever Mill Lane might be) were all kinds of ammunition factories therefore it was all perfectly legitimate so the UK should not have denounced them at all, particularly when you consider some of the things that they were doing

You’ll be surprised at how much truth there was in this story too. One of my University theses for my degree (I actually wrote two) was ABOUT COVENTRY AND IEPER and reading the howls of indignation about the bombing of Coventry in 1940 despite the fact that it was clearly a legitimate military target, yet three years later when the UK had acquired the technology to do so, they were shamelessly targeting the civilian population of Germany with no restraint whatsoever.

By the way, if you want to read MY SECOND THESIS, all five pages (there was sixth one added to finish off the story) were redacted for the web.

Having had a great deal of trouble completing the practical work for some of my modules (or not even starting it at all) due to the chaos that ensued after September 11th 2001 I was miles behind with my course and I chose two modules with theses and no practical work so that I could write them in the car while sitting on places like deserted airfields in former East Germany day after day after day, all of that kind of lark, in the hope that that would pull my score back up.

However, as we all know, there’s a huge problem with “mature” (I use the term loosely) students.
Firstly, we were too old, too experienced and too worldly-wise to be herded around like 18 year-olds. Many of the tutors who came in from other Universities had no experience of dealing with people like us and their attitudes and attempts at discipline just didn’t wash
Secondly, life tended to get in the way of course work. “This assignment should have been handed in yesterday”. “Yes, but my baby was sick” or “my house burnt down” or “I had to go on a mission for my boss”. These were genuine excuses that many of the tutors didn’t understand. These weren’t “18 year old” problems to which the tutors were accustomed.
Thirdly, and this was my great problem, I wasn’t studying for a career path and desperate for a degree. I had my career all nicely planned out and I was heading where I wanted to go (that’s not to say that it didn’t change dramatically once I graduated, but that’s another story completely). I was studying for my personal interest and if there was a qualification after it, well, that’s nice but it wasn’t the name of the game. I’d find something that interested me and follow that trail for miles and miles, suddenly finding that I’d departed a long way from the core of the course and was totally off-target. But did I care? I was totally absorbed and having fun.

However, as an aside, I can still add “B.Sc.Hons” to my name if ever I feel like it.

In another dream I had to go to Manchester – I’m not sure whether it was work or for the hospital but I awoke rather late and wasn’t sure whether they knew about my trip etc. As I was dressing I turned on the radio and found that I could pick up the channel on which their cars broadcasted so while I was washing i listened to any sign that they might be coming to pick me up. I got as far as my T-shirt and undies off and was washing myself waiting to hear that the taxi company was coming to pick me up but I wasn’t really optimistic that they’d written it down or remembered.

At one point during the night I was turning around over and over trying to be comfortable when I felt that the bed was moving and suddenly stopped with an almighty jolt but it can’t move as its a fixed bed. It did it again later on too. I’ll tell you what – I’d get good money for this anti-potassium stuff on the back streets of Granville if only I could walk out there.

Someone called Ruth was running some kind of garage in the neighbourhood and had become friendly with me. Although I liked her coming around, I wasn’t really interested in a relationship. One day I was hurt and had to go to hospital. I knew that she would be coming round later in the day so I didn’t say anything to her. I had my cleaner help me when the car came to pick me up and take me off. I had a good chat to my cleaner about the situation and a chat with the taxi driver too. It seemed to be the best solution that one of the two of us (Ruth or me) move away. She was probably the most likely to move as the garage wasn’t doing very much. I had my treatment and asked “what time is it?”. It was about an hour to return home and it was 14:00 and she was coming to see me at 15:00 so I thought that we’d make it fine. He set out to drive me home. On the way back he asked me a riddle about the United Kingdom but I can’t remember it now. I could actually work it out, which was quite impressive. We talked again about this woman on the way back. When we arrived it was 15:00. We were just arriving when on the way back we went past her garage and there were just 2 cars on the front, an Austin Maxi at £1745 and another vehicle for about a similar price. I thought “she’s not going to make any money trying to sell those cars at that price. No-one is going to pay that much money for them”.

And considering what I wrote earlier, it’s totally ironic that someone called Ruth should appear in my dreams later on. But the owner of a garage? I really don’t think so.

I was going through another long rambling dream concerning Norman Smith, the recording engineer better known of course as the rock star Hurricane Smith who produced several albums and was going to produce an album for a woman who sang with Abba which was to be filmed on a dusty petrol station near where we lived so we went along to see. But once more I ended up being taken to hospital again where they checked me over and took my blood pressure. I was polite to them but I didn’t see why they needed to take my pressure. The nurse who was rather like Oddjob in GOLDFINGER came along and soon quietened me. This went on for a while with a lot of intervention. Eventually I was let go at about midday so I reckoned to the driver that we could make it back at 13:00 when all of this began. I can’t remember any more about the rest but I know that it was very interesting.

One thing that I did remember about that dream that comes back to me was talking to the taxi driver about death and dying- him saying that if I did decide to take my own life I would probably be disappointed because there weren’t all that many people in the concert hall to watch Hawkwind which I didn’t believe at all. I was polite enough not to say. However my brother-in-law who was a part-time goalkeeper went flying past somehow on some kind of mission for someone – not on an aeroplane etc bust just floating in the air flying along overtaking a car.

A group of us had gone off to climb Mount Everest or something like that. We’d set out early one morning. There were several other people making their way up the mountain. We all trudged in a weary line until it became early evening. There was a kind of café-restaurant there so we all swarmed in. After everyone else was seated there was only one place for me, by a young girl. I went and sat next to her and we slowly began to chat. It turned out that she was from Montréal although she spoke English. We talked a lot about Montréal and when she found out that I’d lived in Chester she talked about her visit to Chester. We were handed a menu. I had a look down it and there was only one vegan dish. She told me what she wanted so I ordered it and ordered my vegan one. She seemed to be quite pleased at that. We carried on chatting and ever so slowly my arm went around her. She slowly cuddled up against me which I thought was unusual. My brother came along, as he would, and talked about going to fetch something from the shops. Someone gave him their order and someone else ordered something else. The two of us ordered something (we were definitely “the two of us” by this time). He wandered off to the shops. Every now and again we saw some people come back. She would ask “is that him?”. I replied “no, he’ll be walking with a limp”. She asked “why is that?”. I replied “because he’ll be shocked having to spend all that money”. Eventually he came back and handed her a receipt for repairs to her car. I found out that she had an old Zephyr 6 which impressed me greatly. He said “you know that your repairs are going to cost you over £1000”. She didn’t say very much to that. We walked outside this restaurant and there were parking places at the back for cars. She asked if they were private places. I replied “yes they are”. She replied “if I leave my car here I won’t have to come back, will I?”. In an automatism I gave a despairing “Awww” – actually a real despairing Awww too. I could see the look on her face slowly change to one of happiness. I thought to myself “whatever is going on here now with this girl?”

Yes, “whatever is going on here now with this girl?”. Here we are, almost on the point of finally Getting The Girl and the dream grinds to a halt. And we can’t have a dream like this without at least one person from my family coming along to try to spike my guns, can we?

Incidentally, we – or rather my father when we were kids – had a Zephyr 6 mark III, a black one, 3816 TD. I remember it well.

And after I sold my MkI Cortina (which features regularly on these pages) I had a MkIV Zephyr 6 for a short while but it caught fire. We’d been to see Jethro Tull at that venue in Ardwick, South-West Manchester … "the Apollo" – ed … and I’d parked on a demolition site around the corner. Coming off after the concert, I grounded out on some rubble, not realising that it had scraped away part of the fuel line and there was a fuel leak that ignited.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errrr … bed I’d forgotten something about the girl. We ended up back in a rented apartment that I’d rented. There was only one bed so naturally I explained to her the situation. She seemed to be quite comfortable with it so that night we slept together, and slept together for a considerable number of nights. After that she came to Granville for a look around to see what the town has to offer. As her visa was about to expire she went back to Canada and I hoped that I’d see her again and that she wished to come back.

And so Our Hero finally Gets The Girl after all of these years of dreaming. And it takes the French Government’s Interior Ministry to intervene this time and put a stop to whatever is going on. Do you ever get the feeling that you are just not going to win?

Back in this dream … "which dream?" – ed … I met a car with 4 boys – I don’t know if they were the four that I mentioned before, if indeed I did mention them … "no, you didn’t" – ed … I had a Ryobi drill and was doing some things with it. In the end I took the mandrel off and fitted a huge mandrel like a bolt thread that you’d use for drawing nuts up long distances. For some unknown reason it wouldn’t go in and I didn’t want to force it. The guy next to me said that he’d done it on his old car and it will fit so I had to squeeze it very tightly to open the internal jaws on the drill and fit this attachment in. Then I couldn’t find the nut so he asked if anyone had a nut. One guy replied that he had one but it was on his A40. We ended up talking about old cars – I had the Cortinas, ha had the A40, someone else had an A50 and the conversation became quite interesting.

So after all of that – well, most of it anyway, the alarm went off and I arose from the Dead.

Once more I’ve no idea what they will make of the blood pressure figure this morning. Not wracked with pain so it was only 18.0/11.6. What did the letter from the hospital say? Ahh yes – “target figure maximum 14.0/9.5”.

After the medication and checking the mails and messages I came in here to begin to transcribe the dictaphone notes. There were that many, as you have seen, that I was nowhere near finishing them when I went off to make my delicious broccoli stalk soup.

Back hereat my desk at 11:15 after all of that and despite two cups of strong black coffee I crashed out immediately. Really, this stuff that they are giving me is ridiculous.

while I was asleep, crashed out in the morning I was waiting for a tram in Haslington. Along came the mother of The Farmer’s Daughter, someone who has figured a few times in my dreams in the past. She said a few encouraging words which quite surprised me – I was half-expecting her to tell me to keep away from her daughter. She said a few other things too that quite surprised me. After she’d gone my mother came along. She said that she’d heard a few stories about the woman, including that she was terrorised by her husband who seemed to control her far too much. I said “you know, you aren’t the first to say that. You aren’t even the second”. “Why?” she asked “Who else has said that kind of thing?”. I replied “what do you think she’s just been saying to me then?”.

It was 12:48 when I awoke and do you know what? I hadn’t felt a thing. It was only the fact of meeting that woman in my dream that made me even realise that I’d been asleep. It was just as if someone had flicked a switch and I’d gone out like a light.

It took an age for me to get my head together after that and continue with the dictaphone notes, stopping and almost dozing off every 5 minutes. It took me almost until hot chocolate time to finish them.

After the hot chocolate I started work but Rosemary rang me later. Only 1 hour and 28 minutes this time. A short ‘phone call then. We spent tons of time chatting about nothing at all, as friends often do. She’s also talking about coming to visit me, which will be nice

Tea tonight was, seeing as I have run out of those lovely quorn fillets that I so like and Leclerc had none in stock, a burger on a bap with air-fried chips and a vegan salad. As I said, my food is quite simple but it isn’t half delicious.

So hallucinating badly every time that I close my eyes and trying hard not to fall asleep I’m going. I might crash out for an hour or so and then I have the radio notes to dictate.

God alone knows what’s on them. This stuff that I’m taking is making me talk – and type – total rubbish in this confused state in which I find myself right now

Not half as confused as the old woman in the Old People’s Home who once hurled a volley of abuse at the old Queen Mother.
"Don’t you know who I am?" asked the Queen Mother indignantly.
"No, dear" said the old woman. "But don’t worry. Ask the Matron. She’ll tell you."

Thursday 22nd June 2023 – I’VE HAD ANOTHER …

… depressing day today. And I bet that you are as fed up of reading about it as I am about living it.

My own fault though. I had a doctor’s appointment at 10:00 this morning so I decided that I’d be brave and walk – or, rather, hobble – down the hill into town on my crutches.

The idea didn’t exactly fill me with confidence but I had to do it. And it passed without any serious incident, which was good news. Just the occasional wobble here and there.

But as you might expect, I was well out of it this afternoon. Totally out of my tree in fact.

And that’s not really much of a surprise because apart from the fact that it seems to be par for the course these days whenever I go anywhere, when the alarm went off this morning at 07:00 I’d been up for ages.

First thing that I did after the medication was to try to resolve a computer issue. I said yesterday that I’d fitted a new hard drive into this machine. A couple of my graphics programs weren’t functioning correctly so I left them in the end and went to bed.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, graphics is one of the reasons why I bought a machine like this big desktop machine. But it’s not a proprietary machine, it’s something of a “bitsa” with a collection of assorted bits and pieces for the best possible performance, and I’ve upgraded it since I’ve had it.

Consequently you’re wasting your time looking for a manufacturer’s upgrade.

After prowling around for a while in the innards of the machine, I found that it was working with the drivers for a Windows-generic video card and I couldn’t remember the make of the video card that we fitted. I had to work through quite a collection of drivers until I found the correct one.

It’s working so much better now, which is nice.

All I need to work out now is why although the operating system recognises the 32GB of RAM that’s fitted, only one bank of 16GB seems to be working.

Even so, with a Solid State Hard Drive powering the machine it’s working a lot quicker and a lot quieter too.

In between all of this I had a shower to make myself look pretty and then struggled down to the doctors for a check-up and for the prescription for the next lot of Aranesp. I mentioned the hospital in Paris and he says that it’s one of the best in the country with a famous nerve-centre, if you’ll excuse the pun.

But the good news, if you can call it that, is that because there is no obvious element that’s affecting my nervous system, he reckons that I’m classed as permanently disabled. He’ll type a report for me to pick up tomorrow and told me to go the the Mairie and tell them.

And so I did, and they gave me half a rain-forest worth of papers to fill in. And if I need any help I can call a Social Services rep to help me. I have to fill it in and send it to the Prefecture at St-Lô, and then prepare for a long wait.

But if I’m lucky, I’ll have a disabled parking pass, free transport on the buses (mind you, buses are free here in Granville anyway) and things like that.

Next stop was the Post Office.

Something else that I’d done this morning was to gather up the papers that I needed and to fill in my Tax Return. That needed to be posted and there was a recorded delivery letter to pick up.

Next week it’s the annual general meeting of the owners of this building and as I own 250/10,000 of it since April I’m invited. So there was another rain-forest worth of papers about that sent to me by recorded delivery.

There’s a new artisanal high-class bakery opened in town so I stopped off for some specialty bread for my cheese on toast. I thought that in view of the effort that I’d made, I deserved to pousser le bateau dehors as they might say around here.

Final stop was to go to the chemists to drop off the prescription. 6 months worth of Aranesp but they can only order it one month at a time. I have to ring her every 4 weeks to reorder it.

It was the nice cheerful girl who served me today. “do you want to pay for it now?” she asked.
“Just this four weeks” I replied. “Not all of it”
“That’s what I meant” she retorted.

It was a struggle to come back up the hill onto my rock and I was exhausted. I had my coffee and cheese on toast but that was really my lot. I was in no fit state to do anything else for quite a while.

Later on I did manage to have a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. And it’s a surprise to me that I was up and about so early because I travelled miles. In fact, I probably got out of bed on my way back home from my travels. I started out in Labrador last night. I’d been to visit a spot where a member of my family used to live. There was some information that I gathered there that I knew would be of interest to someone else who was hunting down family relics. I made a note and brought the information or copies of it with me and met up with this guy back at his place where because of the way that whatever was written on this information that I had, it was all about snow etc which of course would be most unlikely in South Cheshire but it was a very complicated ritual involved in making sure that he had the information. Then I had of course to get the information from him that he had found out about my family so it was all extremely confusing about this Labrador in Cheshire kind of thing.

Then there was a tractor for sale at a rather cheap price. I went to see it but when I returned Nerina asked me about it. I told her that basically it’s been taken in part-exchange and they want rid of it quite quickly so they’ll do a good deal for cash. She was wondering why it wasn’t on the forecourt. I explained that word about this tractor would go around by word of mouth quickly enough. They don’t need to make any effort to sell it etc. There was one guy there who insisted on shouting me down, giving me his own interpretation of what was happening even though I’d just been to talk to the owner about it. he wouldn’t let up no matter how I tried to explain to Nerina. In the end I told her “the vendor knows exactly how much that tractor owes him, exactly how much it’s costing them to keep it on the forecourt”, all the little details like that. They’ll know exactly where the breakeven point will be so if someone comes along with the cash they’d let it go. But this guy was not having any of this at all. It was really strange how he thought he knew absolutely everything without even having been to see it and talk to people about it. He thought that I was totally wrong.

I’d also been out with one of my schoolfriends. On the way back we stopped at his house. I started to chat to his sister who I fancied (and I actually did too in real life). We had something of a flirty exchange as a couple of teenagers would. I happened to mention something about Saturday night. she said that she was doing something that night which was a shame because I was hoping that she might be free and want to come out somewhere. We continued this chat and she asked me “what are you doing Tuesday night?”. I replied “nothing”. She continued “do you want to come with me on Tuesday night instead?”. Of course immediately my ears pricked up. I asked “where are we going?”. She asked “how do you fancy going to church?”. I replied “if it means going with you, I’ll come”. She said “it’s every fortnight”. I replied “that’s not a problem. I can manage that”. We arranged to meet on the Tuesday night. I went outside after that ready to go home. My friend was outside so I said “you’ll never guess what I’m doing on Tuesday night”. He replied “you’re going to church youth club aren’t you?”. I asked “how do you know?”. he didn’t really give me an answer about that but he obviously knew that there was something in the wind. She didn’t really like me all that much in real life when we were at school, which was no real surprise. But she went to University in Manchester while I was living there and we did meet up a few times, but nothing much ever came of it.

I was at work last night. I’d gone into the office which was packed. I went to find the lift to take me up to my floor. There were dozens of people hanging around the lift, people making music and singing Christmas carols, a little choir etc. It looked as if everyone was preparing fo Christmas. I was hoping that I’d see my Irish friend so that I could talk to her about my date on Tuesday night (so I must have gone back into that previous dream) but I can’t remember what happened after that.

She was a nice girl too and I liked her very much. We went on a skiing holiday once together which was really good fun but she had far too much good sense ever to become involved with me

Finally we were in Iceland waiting for a ferry back to the mainland of Europe. There was a storm and the ferry was delayed. It looked as if it wouldn’t sail for ages. Everyone was dashing around trying to find accommodation but I had a cunning plan. I would hire a van and sleep in it for a few nights which I reckoned would work out a lot cheaper. There was a young girl there whom I liked very much. We’d spent a lot of time chatting. We were standing in the queue and I bought her a coffee. I asked her what she intended to do. Obviously if she didn’t have any accommodation i was going to invite her to share the van. She mentioned Tom, another guy on this trip with us. She said “I’ll be spending the night with Tom, my boyfriend. I’ve been spending the last couple of nights with him anyway so another night won’t make any difference”. Of course you’ve absolutely no idea how disappointed I was, or maybe you have, I dunno. It’s quite a regular occurrence during the night – me being confounded like this while I’m engaged in the evil pursuit of nice young ladies. Anyway that was that.

The physiotherapist came round today too and massaged my right knee which is now playing up after my walk. I’m wondering what is going to break next. I’m at the stage where I’m afraid to go to the toilet.

Tea was a big bowl of pasta and veg with the rest of that vegan bolognaise stuff from last week. I livened it up with some chili and garlic salt and that gave it a kick.

Tomorrow I’m off to town again for my Aranesp and a bit of shopping. That means that in the afternoon I’ll be flat out on my chair again. It’s becoming far too much of a habit but there’s nothing that I can do about it regrettable. Onwards and upwards, hey?

Thursday 2nd February 2023 – I’VE BEEN TIDYING …

… out the freezer this morning.

Not that I’ve made any more room in it but I’ve managed to sort out everything and put it where I wanted it to be. I’ve not finished yet either though because I’m convinced that I can do even better than this and I might even have another go tomorrow to see what I can do.

I’m still convinced that a bigger freezer might have been a better idea, but then I would only have filled it even fuller of stuff and I wouldn’t have been any better off afterwards.

There had to be something to do to keep me busy today because the physiotherapist didn’t come this afternoon. He sent me a text message this morning to tell me that something had cropped up and he had to cancel all of his appointments for today. So If I remember, before I go to bed I’ll go for a walk up and down the stairs to see how I cope. I have to do some exercise.

Especially as I spent much of the afternoon curled up asleep on the chair in the bedroom. Coupled with the previous night or two where I didn’t have too much sleep I suppose that things have caught up with me. Last night was rather later than usual, what with one thing and another, and I suppose that that tipped me over the edge. And I’d been doing so well too. I hadn’t crashed out during the day for a while.

Going off on a few travels too during the night might have had something to do with it. I’m not sure what was going on with this particular dream but at one point there was a girl and a cat. The girl was sitting on the edge of something or other. I asked “how would it be if I were to jump over you and land down there in front of you?” to which she made some kind of non-committal comment. I had a look and the drop down wasn’t half as much as I thought it would be although it was still something considerable. I just took 2 or 3 steps, lauched myself and jumped over her and landed below at her feet. Someone said something about some other guy who had tried this somewhere else and had injured whoever it was who was sitting down. It had caused an awful lot of problems. I was lucky to get away with this without doing any damage

There was something else too about going off to see someone in Caliburn. I was told to fetch some chips back with me too, nice and hot. On the way out I noticed that they were putting the fish and chip caravan in place on Place Godal so I thought that I’d stop and pick some up. When I glanced at the time it was only 17:00 so I thought that I’d go to see this other person first and pick up the chips on the way back. I drove out of the car park that I’d just reversed into and carried on driving.

Later on, back in the dream about going to fetch the chips but it was too early as I said, and the chip van had only just arrived so I went off to do whatever else it was that I had to do, to see someone. I was early at his place too and the gates wouldn’t open. He had electric gates. On the way back I had to come straight home but I understood for some reason that I was to alight at Cammell Laird’s and walk through the town. When we arrived at Cammell Laird’s there was a group of people outside the ship company offices there. One of them was wearing a brown suit and a sheep jacket. She saw me knock. It was a quick knock today rather than a long usual one. She saw me knock and came after me to chase me away from the building.

Finally I’d been invited to a meeting on behalf of the employees to a management meeting of all the higher-ups. There had been another meeting a month or so ago that had been quite controversial because there had been a lot of anti-feminist sentiment and debate and discussion so no woman had gone to this particular one. I was there, and someone was using it as a vehicle to complain all about FIFA’s restrictive practice in broadcasting football matches etc. I asked the question “how does FIFA differ from UEFA and the national football associations?”. All I was met with was a pile of bluster so I burst out laughing. That embarrassed the person who was speaking. After the meeting I went back to the office. Someone was climbing up the stairs. He had one of these 3D masks on. He was taking his time trying to climb up so I tried go past him but he wouldn’t let me go past. All he did was to complain about other people trying to push him along. Then he cleared off. I had to go down to a storeroom to fetch something. There was some issue about some chocolate that was in there. Some woman had been let down over this chocolate and needed someone to go. I said that I would. It was a low concrete corridor with Christmas trees down it. I set off, very careful not to bang my head on the concrete beams.

That wasn’t everything either. While I was asleep during the afternoon I was at work in an office. In my desk drawer I had a barbie doll hidden and when I went to add a second I found that my drawer was open and that the doll was on clear view to everyone who cared to look. I grabbed some fruit to lunch and thought that I’d go and sit on a chair outside in the hallway to eat it. When I went outside I found that there was a girl whom I liked sitting at the reception, a girl who has featured in these pages before. I quite liked her but I didn’t want to give herthe impression that I was stalking her so I pretended to do something somewhere else that involved a trip down the corridor and then I went back to my desk inside the other room.

After the medication and checking my messages (and still no reply to my reminder to the solicitor about the documents that I need) I spend a pleasant hour or two with the freezer. Rinsing out the drawers to dispose of the build-up of ice made something of a difference and makes them look cleaner. I can actually see what’s in there now much better than I could before.

So apart from having a good sleep, I’ve also been writing up the notes for the next series of radio programmes. Not that I’ve done very much because there’s always something that crops up to distract me when I’m trying to work.

It’s true that I’m having a very hard time concentrating these days but news about what’s happening in Labrador about the controversial fall-out from the Muskrat Falls hydro-electric project is enough to distract anyone who has an interest in it. In fact, the whole issue of the development of Hydro-electric power going back to the 1950s in Labrador is so controversial that this is just one more raccoon skin on the wall.

But finally the First-Nation Innu of the region have had enough. In the words of Peter Penashue, the chief Innu negotiator, the next stage of the development, “the Gull Island hydroelectric project, is dead on arrival”. The project, that should have realised $5,000,000 per annum for the Innu community in Central Labrador for the loss of their traditional hunting grounds, has been reduced to just a small fraction of that “because of substantial cost overruns”. Had this been anywhere else in Canada, the compensation figures would have been ring-fenced

And it’s crazy cost overruns too. When I first went to Labrador the road was NOTHING MORE THAN A 1800-KILOMETRE FARM TRACK. Over the years that I’ve been travelling north the highway has been metalled, every last inch of it, and for no good purpose either. But that’s typical of what’s going on out there just to appease NALCOR, the contractors, and Valard, the builders of the project.

Tea tonight was veggie balls with pasta and veg in tomato sauce. And it was quite delicious too. But tomorrow I’m going off on the bus to the supermarket in town and amongst the stuff that I’ll buy will be some salad stuff. I’ve become quite accustomed now for salad with my potatoes and burgers.

A nice burger on a bap with salad and chips fried in the air fryer sounds like a nice tea for tomorrow night.

Saturday 13th August 2022 – GUESS WHO …

… dropped a full jar of tomato sauce on the floor and broke it?

It’s just not my day, is it?

But anyway, despite having gone to bed at something like a respectable time yesterday it was still a struggle to fight my way out of bed this morning when the alarm went off. Nevertheless I was still up and, well, almost about when the second alarm went off.

After the medication I organised myself, such as I’m able to, and headed off to LeClerc.

For some reason or other the place was absolutely packed, even if I did arrive just 2 or 3 minutes after opening time. I can’t recall ever having seen it so busy.

Nevertheless I managed to remember to buy everything that I needed there, even if I did have to queue for about a week in order to leave the shop.

On the way back I hit the traffic and there were queues everywhere. It took me quite a while to navigate myself through the town. It really does look like the height of the summer now with the crowds of people coming into the town, and parking is next-to impossible. I’m glad that I have a private parking spot otherwise it would be rather grim.

My entry into the car park though was blocked by a visitor trying to negotiate her way past the informal barricade that we have to stop strangers coming in, seeing as our barrier STILL isn’t working. But eventually I managed to sort her out, only to find that the person whom she’d come to visit wasn’t in.

It was almost time for breakfast when I returned so I made some strong coffee and toast to keep me going until this evening. and then I had a listen to the dictaphone. There was a little girl who had been caught in a strange land, the neighbouring land to where she lived. There had been some conflict between the two lands and the owner of the land to where she had strayed told her to go home and dispose of all of her milk and dairy produce. She went back and tried to break into her parents’ fridge. At first it was difficult but eventually she managed it but she found that it was the freezer and it was full of things like frozen carrots etc. She didn’t know what to do so she decided that she’d have another go. This was where I stepped in because I caught her trying to find the fridge. I asked her what was the matter and she told me everything. I suggested that she went and told her mum about it because no-one unless they are really stupid these days wants a war. Maybe her mum could either co-operate with this guy or else go to see him herself and tell him what kind of deal there is about whatever he is concerned about. It’s certainly not the place for a small child to become involved in this kind of thing.

And then one of the girls on our Welsh course had died and it was going to be another couple of weeks before our Welsh course restarted so her body had been placed outside her room but I didn’t know what to do with it. I didn’t think that it should be left outside her room for a couple of weeks until everyone came back. They told me to take care of the problem so I came along and put her in a room where there was like a coffin-shape already chiselled in the floor. I dropped her in that with the idea of obtaining approval from someone before I covered it in cement. The teacher in our class said “if you don’t mind me saying so, there are some very weird people in our classes”. I asked “what’s the problem?”. She replied “it’s a strange way that you’ve chosen to deal with this girl”. I answered “you can’t leave her body surely outside her room for several weeks while people come back etc”. She said “there’s a camp bed there. You can erect the camp bed and put that on it”. I answered “that’s a strange thing if you ask me, but I came to ask your advice and you’ve given it so there’s no reason why I shouldn’t follow it. I’ll go out there and put the camp bed outside her door and put her body on it and just leave it there like that”.

There had been an explosion in a mine and a lot of people had been killed. CCTV showed an employee taking something out of his haversack immediately prior to the explosion. It’s believed that that was what caused the accident while the men were having an evening sing-song down there. A couple of weeks later some kind of singer was appearing for a benefit concert for this mine disaster. He began to sing this song and while he was doing it he reached into his satchel for something and was immediately pounced upon by 2 security guys. This led to a kind of confrontation between his security guys and the mine’s guys. The mine’s guys explained what had happened a couple of weeks ago and the singers guys were having nothing to do with it at all. It led to quite a confrontation and people were really annoyed that this famous singer was seeming to get away with this breach of the law just because he was famous without any regard to the consequences that might have happened had he actually succeeded.

Later on I was round at someone’s house last night. I had to make tea so I started off with a soup, putting all kinds of things like vegetables, olives, chives and everything into a pot ready to mince down wit the mincer. But I was rather carried away and not only was the pot overflowing but I’d put the chives in complete with the earth in which they were growing instead of clipping them. I thought “that’s a bad start”. Anyway I managed to get the soup under way. Then I had to think about a main course. That involved frying some burgers so I had to fetch some cooking oil for the frying pan. But I had the wrong frying pan. This one had a handle that was three feet long that you would use for a barbecue. I put some oil in that and spilled half of it. Then I had to fetch some water in a saucepan to cook the rice. I’d done that then I thought that I’d better fetch a kettle full of water so I was going back and to all the time. The Farmer’s Daughter was there again as well. She’s been making a few appearances just recently and I don’t know why. She was having problems with her maths homework. My maths homework had been based on the subjects that she’d been doing so I took my folder with my work in it to her so that she could read through it and ask me questions at a more convenient time as I was really busy. By now the soup was boiling so I was having to stir that round and check that it wasn’t sticking to the bottom of the pan and break up some kind of dry noodles into there, some really tough dry noodles that would absorb some of the excess water and thicken the soup. There was another guy there, the husband of this family who was working. He was giving me advice about what needed doing as well. he was careful about spilling stuff because my brother was working somewhere and he might come out and slip on the water, not to mention the oil that I’d just dropped everywhere. This was turning into a real chaotic cooking session instead of something that should have been so simple and so straightforward.

Finally there was a village fête going on. There were crowds of people watching all the events. There was a group of us sitting at a table. One of us was a little girl. She took quite a shine to me and we had quite a chat. This chat went on for quite some time then in the end she got up and said that she had to go which disappointed me as I happened to quite like her. About 10 minutes later she came back. There were 3 little girls. 2 of them were skipping and she was in the middle. As the skipping rope went past over the girls’ heads they would go over her and she would jump too. This was all done in rhythms so they wouldn’t be tangled up in each other’s rope. So there were 3 of them and 2 ropes with the girl that I liked in the middle without a rope who was jumping just the same. It was something that looked quite impressive. They made their way slowly to the centre of the arena. Then the other events carried on. I was doing some work on a kind of Victorian water pump, something about being jammed by logs in Victorian times by careless felling and how the local council was improving some techniques that was going to lead to more of this careless felling which would lead to more problems with the pumps. I looked up and this little girl was watching the events in the arena. For some unknown reason I felt extremely disappointed that she hadn’t come back to sit by me and carry on with our conversation again.

Yes, two small girls again last night. I’m becoming broody again. I ought to have had a daughter of my own at some point in the past. She would have been spoilt rotten Those three years that I had Roxanne as my daughter were amongst the happiest of my life and I’d do it all again given half a chance. But that ship sailed a long time ago.

And choreography in my dreams too. Whatever next?

Having done that the next thing that I did was to pair up the music for Monday’s radio programme. That’s something that I usually do on Sundays but today I thought “let’s push on and get ahead”. Why not? and a couple of the pairs went together really well. A couple of them … well, less so.

Having had a few other things to do as well I ended up once more being late for my afternoon walk.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022As usual, my first pace to visit will be to see what’s happening down on the beach.

And so I wandered over to the wall at the end of the car park to see what was going on there.

Because I was later than usual there was plenty of beach to be on and there were plenty of people taking full advantage of it. Absolute crowds, in fact.

Quie a few of them in the water as well, not that I’m surprised because every day we seem to be setting new records about heat and temperature. I’m at the stage where I wish that I had the strength to go down and join them and that’s not like me at all, is it?

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022But there was something else going on down there this afternoon that caught my attention.

It was a bunch of people shouting that did it and so looking around I noticed a bunch of guys doing stuff with cones and markers.

From up here I had no idea what they might have been doing but my money was on them being one of the local football clubs having a Saturday afternoon training session. After all the season starts here next weekend, if I remember correctly.

And that’s another thing, isn’t it? A couple of years ago I was a regular at the local football matches, all kinds of them. But that’s another ship that has sailed too. I can’t get up the hill to the ground these days.

The path around here was crowded too. Everyone who was anyone was out and about admiring the view out to sea, even if it was too hazy to actually see anything farther out.

car park pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022That much was apparent by looking at the car park.

All of the spaces were taken when I arrived there and there were probably two dozen vehicles parked on the lawn on either side of the entrance.

Not that I’m going to criticise that all that much because, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, going back a couple of years we actually have a photo of a police car doing just that.

So I fought my way across the car park and down to the end of the headland but there was no-one sitting on the bench at the cabanon vauban this afternoon.

peche a pied pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022Plenty of people out on the rocks though.

This weekend is one of the highest tides of the year and it’s well out right now. So with it being a Saturday it’s brought out everyone for the peche à pied when they can go scavenging among the rocks on the public part of the shellfish beds to see what they can find.

Some of the shellfish are attached quite firmly to the rocks, so you’ll have to flex your mussels to pull them off

Yes, I’ll get my coat. Sorry.

zodiac pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022But what are those guys doing down there?

They have a zodiac and it looks from up here as if they are perilously close to the rocks in it. In fact, although I can’t be sure, it looks as if one of the guys is in the water up to his kneess pushing the boat out to sea.

From the way that they are dressed, they aren’t your usual pleasure boaters znd they don’t seem to be wearing any lifesaving equipment so there’s something rather bizarre going on here and I’d love to know what it is.

red powered hang glider pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022On that note I wandered off down the path on the other side of the headland to see what was going on in the port.

However I was overflown by one of our favourite little aircraft, the red powered hang-glider. By the looks of things it had been taking a pilot and passenger down the coast to Mont St Michel and back again.

In the port there was no change at all from yesterday. No-one playing “musical ships” this afternoon at the Fish Processing Plant and no change of occupant in the chantier naval.

And no Chausiaise at the ferry terminal either.

chausiaise ch907879 l'arc en ciel ch338276 massabielle port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022That’s because she was here in the inner harbour tied up at the quayside.

Also in shot are a couple of trawlers, the little Arc en Ciel and behind her the bigger Massabielle whom we saw the other day.

What isn’t in shot is Victor Hugo, the Channel Islands ferry, and there’s good reason for that. When I went to the shops this morning she was actually at the ferry terminal loading up.

She left port at 08:36 this morning and arrived at St Helier at 10:43, and then departed at 18:49 to arrive back at 20:56.

So does this mean that services have finally begun? Watch this space.

Back here I had a glass of iced chocolate milk and put my feet up on the desk ready to watch Pontypridd United in their first game in the Welsh Premier League after their surprise promotion last year against a Fflint side that had, I reckon, 10 new players in their team from last year.

Pontypridd looked a fairly useful side technically but lacked height all over the pitch and had no-one up front to capitalise on the good work that their midfielders were doing.

Y Fflint, apart from having a centre-half who was 6’6″ tall, had some old hands on the pitch who have been around the block a few times and had several spells of a few minutes here and there when they looked pretty unstoppable.

It looks as if it’s going to be a long hard season for Pontypridd but if Fflint can play more often and more regularly as they did in those little cameo flashes they could surprise one or two pundits who have written them off too.

Y Fflint had two players on the field, a winger called Omar Ibrahim who has been playing in Finland and Okera Simmonds who was on the books of Liverpool, Blackburn Rovers and Accrington Stanley and was capped at England under-18 level. And if those two play like they did just now in those little flashes, we’ll be hearing a lot more about them as the season progresses.

After I’d finished I went to make my tea where I had my incident with the pot of tomato sauce. At least the walls and floor are clean now.

Tomorrow I’ve been invited out but I’m not going. An 08:30 start isn’t any good to me on a Sunday especially when I’m feeling out of sorts. I’m going to lie in and have a rest and build up my strength ready to fight the good fight next week.

And I don’t feel much like that either.

Monday 8th August 2022 – EVEN THOUGH I WENT …

… to bed fairly early last night, the 06:00 start didn’t do me much good and round about 12:45 while I was thinking about lunchtime, I ended up going away with the fairies.

And not just for five minutes either. When the alarm went off at 14:45 to remind me about my physiotherapy appointment (that I’m not restarting until next week) I was only just about tucking into my lunchtime fruit.

That was a period that I would like very much to forget.

When the alarm did go off at 06:00 I was out of bed quite quickly for my medication etc and round about 06:30 I was beginning to attack the radio programme.

There were a couple of new groups and artistes making their debuts so I had to carry out some research rather than just extracting information from my notes, and then I had to find about 11 seconds of speech to edit out when it came to adding the final track as it over-run.

As a result, it wasn’t finished until about 11:20 but it does all sound very good and, as usual, I learnt a lot.

That was the cue to go for breakfast, much later than usual, and Rosemary mistimed her ‘phone call because I hadn’t quite finished my toast when she rang up. We ended up chatting for about 45 minutes during which I told her about my vicissitudes at the hospital on Thursday.

It was shortly after the end of my phone call with Rosemary when I crashed out.

After lunch I made a start on transcribing the dictaphone notes but stopped half-way through because it was time for me to go on my afternoon walk around the headland.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022As usual, the first place to go was to go and see what was happening down on the beach.

Consequently I wandered off across the car park to the wall at the end of the car park where I can look over and down onto the beach.

As it was a lovely day, I was expecting to see crowds of people down there this afternoon and I wasn’t disappointed either. There were plenty of people disporting themselves on the rocks and many of them had actually gone into the sea.

It must have been really nice down there this afternoon and what wouldn’t I have given to be down there with them?

marité baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022As usual, while I was looking around down on the beach I was also having a look around out at sea too.

Away out in Granville Bay almost in the English Channel (you can see the channel marker over to the right) was a beautiful set of sails, the topsail of which was bellying out in the wind.

No prizes for guessing who it was, although I had to wait until I returned home to enlarge and enhance the image to make certain.

It is indeed our old friend Marité who has gone out for a sail around the bay with a bunch of passengers. At least, that’s why I imagine that she’s gone out there.

belle france joly france baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022There was even more activity out at sea too.

As I watched the action in the bay we almost ended up with another one of Tom Rolt’s “Greek v Greek” moments. There was a ferry on its way back from the Ile de Chausey and another one going out from the mainland and it looked at first as if they were on a collision course.

The one of the left heading out to the island is the very new Belle France and the one coming in on the right from the island is one of the Joly France boats.

They didn’t stay on the collision course for long though so I was cheated out of some free entertainment. Belle France did a little bit of the old “left hand down a bit” and they passed each other to starboard.

flying a kite pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022From my vantage point at the back of the College Malraux where I’d been observing the nautical goings-on, I headed off down the path towards the end of the headland.

On the lawn half-way down the path there was a father and his little child having endless amounts of fun with a balloon. Unfortunately he couldn’t keep it up for all that long and it soon came crashing down to the ground.

But just look at the vegetation. It really is in a right state, isn’t it? All burnt to a rather delicate shade of light brown with just the odd patch of green weed that still seems to be thriving.

And the path is like an Oklahoma Dust Bowl from the 1930s and with the wind, there’s quite a bit of dust being blown about.

joly france baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022Acros the car park I walked down to the end of the headland to see what was happening out at sea in the bay.

There was plenty of activity out there this afternoon but I was much more interested in the ferry that we had seen a little earlier that was now just sailing around the headland towards the port.

From this position it’s easy to see which one of the ferries she it. With the step taken out of the stern and the windows in “portrait” format, we can tell that she’s the newer one of the two.

Strangely, there was no-one on the bench by the cabanon vauban watching the fun, and no-one fishing off the rocks either, so I pushed on down the path on the other side of the headland towards point.

ch764626 chant des sirenes ch 730708 la soupape I ch898472 cap lihou chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022There has been some activity in the chantier naval while I was away in Leuven.

Chant des Sirenes and her painted mermaid are still in there, but I can’t remember who was there with her before I went away. Anyway, in there today with her is La Soupape I and over on the extreme right by the portable boat lift is Cap Lihou.

There’s a trawler in between Chant des Sirenes and La Soupape I but I can’t identify her from this position.

L’Omerta was still there moored up by the Fish Processing Plant but she was on her own.

men working on crane chausiaise port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022They were having fun with one of the cranes in the inner harbour this afternoon.

That’s the one that they renovated a couple of months ago as you can tell by its new fresh paintwork but now someone is busy presumably checking over the hydraulics.

Chausiaise is over there too moored up close to the crane but the two Channel Island ferries are missing.

Back here I finished off the banana drink that I’d brought back from Leuven and then finished off the dictaphone notes from last night. I started out at school, sitting in a lesson writing notes into a notebook. On the cover of this notebook I had a drawing and the name of The Farmer’s Daughter (who has appeared a few times in the past in my nocturnal rambles but was only there last night in spirit) who went to this school and on whom I had quite a crush. When the lesson finished I put my notebook in the desk. Of course it happened to be hers. We all filed out of the classroom and I didn’t think anything of it. It wasn’t until a couple of lessons later when one of the teachers asked me for a piece of work and I realised that it was in the notebook that was in The Farmer’s Daughter’s desk. He wanted it straight away so I had to go to her classroom. It was being used by another group. My brother was there along with a load of other people whom I knew so I had to interrupt the lesson to ask if I could collect something out of one of the desks. All the desks had been pushed over to the back wall to make a large empty space in the middle. I didn’t have a clue whose desk was whose and what and where. I had a look in them all as best as I could but I couldn’t find this notebook. I wasn’t even sure that I’d looked in them all. I did everything that I possibly could but in the end I had to admit defeat. I thanked the teacher and the class for their time and made my way out to go. They had all piles of magazines etc stacked up ready to be distributed amongst the students etc. Everything was in a real mess. There was no way that I could find this desk with this notebook in it so I was wondering what was going to happen next.

As it happens, I did have quite a crush on her at school although that didn’t go anywhere. However we did meet up in Manchester once or twice when I was living there and we saw each other once or twice.

Later on Nerina and I had separated and I was left with a pile of cars. I had the red MkV estate, the brown MkIII saloon and a couple of other estates. I decided that what I was going to do was to trim down the fleet and dispose of a couple of estates. I was putting a couple of ads in the newspapers. I’d written the ads but I hadn’t sent them off yet and I hadn’t decided which of the estates I was going to sell. I was obviously going to keep the red one but I didn’t know about the others. Then I was thinking that at the moment I don’t have a car on the road. There was no reason why the MkIII can’t be on the road because that’s MoT’d but it’s not taxed and I could afford to pay the road tax for once so I may as well tax it and have that going. While I was debating this my brother came along and asked me what I was doing. I said that I was contemplating the ceiling. He said “besides that”. I said that I was getting ready – I was going to – I was at work. He said “that’s not what I mean at all”. I replied “that’s all that I’m doing at the moment. I’m not doing anything else. It’s not the Spring or Summer so i’m not working on any cars. I’d leave it until then to put something else on the road running”. The chat with my brother turned in to be something rather acrimonious.

For some reason I was looking at fishing rods. I still had my fishing rod from when I was a kid but it was falling to pieces. I was looking in the window at various fishing rods. There was a young boy standing there looking who came over to talk to me. While I was looking at some that were in the region of £70-£80 he was just looking at any old one. I found out that he had never been fishing before and wanted to have a go. In the end he came into one of the shops with me and we had a talk to the woman behind the counter. I introduced her to him and he explained that he wanted to go fishing. She took him off to have a go with a few things while I listened to the radio about a few few fishing programmes. She came back with him picking a fishing rod at £5:95 but it needs some line and a few other bits and pieces. I said “that sounds good to me. Make sure that he has everything”. Then we started talking about what I really wanted. I explained that I wanted something good that would work under ice as well.

Like most kids, I had some fishing tackle that my grandfather gave me but I only went out about three or four times and just like the fishermen around here, I never actually caught anything. It was like watching paint dry.

Finally there was some woman whom I wanted to see, something to do with the radio. When I found out where she lived I went round to see her. She had some kind of security guy on the door who refused to let me in on the grounds that she was working. I suggested that maybe the 2 of us could do our work together and that way I could talk to her while she was working and neither of us would be wasting any time.

Having had a search around in that old-time radio site that I mentioned the other day, I came across some more ITMA, some “Much Binding In The Marsh”, some PG Wodehouse and some more Clitheroe Kid that I’ve not found elsewhere so I’ve been downloading that.

Tea tonight was a stuffed pepper which was delicious and now that I’ve finished my notes, I’m off to bed for an early night. I’m exhausted and a good sleep will do me the world of good. I bet that I’ll still fall asleep at some point tomorrow

Sunday 13th February 2022 – I DON’T EVER …

… want to have to do that again! NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET has got nothing on this!

But anyway, last night I was in bed by 22:00 with the alarm set for 05:00 and hoping to have a good sleep.

But that was some hope because I was off on my travels during the night and I must have gone so far that I really don’t know how I had any sleep at all.

At some point I was with a girl who has featured on several occasions in the past, usually with her brother who was a friend of mine and who both lived on a farm, but tonight she was with another girl – I don’t know who she was but I know that I know her. We were tidying up a pile of stuff, just generally chatting. The farmer’s daughter had to go out for something that just left me and this girl. The conversation turned round to that girl and me. I said that I don’t want anything to happen to her because I’m rather fond of her. This girl was rather surprised so I said “yes but I thought that most people knew that”. She asked if our farmer’s daughter knew that and I replied “of course she did”. “What did she do?”. “Nothing” I replied. “She had her own life to live etc”. I explained that we’d been out once or twice. She asked “what was she doing?” I said “it was just like this”. “Any snogging?” she asked. I replied “no unfortunately”. “Why on earth not?”. “I didn’t want to drive her away”. She wanted to know if she was married with kids. I replied that she was and had 2 kids. The conversation just drifted around like that. I thought that the farmer’s daughter would only be gone for a few minutes but it must have been ages that we were having this chat.

And before anyone grasps the wrong end of the stick, the fact that she is a farmer’s daughter has nothing whatever to do with Deep Purple.

Finally I was in the Army last night, looking through a pile of files and lists. No matter how hard I looked, all I could find were details of an assignment to the Entertainment Unit. They were all put in an envelope ready to be sent off to some kind of competition or show or something. There were all people there, including Jimmy Clitheroe but I couldn’t find anything in these service records and service history at all. This was really annoying. In the end there was a sergeant there who was responsible for the paperwork. I asked him and he pointed to these envelopes and said “but it’s all there”. I shouted that it wasn’t. I said that all it was was these application forms for this concert thing. I picked them up and dropped them in the bin. I told him precisely and in no uncertain terms exactly what I wanted. He started to go through the filing cabinet trying to find all this information.

Wherever did I find the time to go to sleep?

It didn’t take me long to tidy up and I decided not to make any sandwiches because I only get into trouble when I eat them and I’ll be home in time for a late lunch. So at 05:30 I had already handed in the key and was well off down the road.

martelarenplein leuven belgium Eric Hall photo February 2022As I approached the railway station I went to have a look at the Martelarenplein.

We’ve seen this now every month for the last I don’t know how many years and and I have to say that for the last half-dozen or so months there seems to be very little, if any improvement.

Just like every building project in Belgium, they are really taking their time with this and at the rate that they are going, I reckon that I’ll be finished long before they are here.

05:50 when I arrived at the railway station so I had 19 minutes to wait in the freezing cold and wind before my train came in.

class AM96 electric multiple unit gare de leuven railway station belgium Eric Hall photo February 2022The train this morning is the 06:09 from Landen to De Panne via Brussels Airport and the City Centre.

Today it’s one of the AM96 electric multiple units. Fairly modern, quite clean and comfortable and I’m quite happy to be aboard one of these.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I have mentioned their unique features before. When a train is made up of two trainsets, the rubber ring makes an airtight seal around the join and the drivers’ cabs swivel round out of the way so that you can walk from one trainset to the next.

We arrived at Bruxelles-Midi at 06:49, 28 minutes before my train to Lille. And this was when disaster stuck. There on the sign was “07:17 to Strasbourg via Lille cancelled”.

That was certainly a tragedy. With it being a weekend, the 07:47 direct to Paris doesn’t run either so that was that.

At the ticket office they proposed the following itinerary –

  • 08:17 to Lille Europe arriving 08:51
  • 10:42 from Lille Flandre to Paris Gare du Nord arriving 11:48
  • 12:59 Paris St Lazare to Lison arriving 15:31
  • 15:52 Lison to Granville arriving 16:43


Only three hours later than usual.

But if anyone thinks that I’m going to be waiting for almost two hours on a draughty, freezing cold railway station in Lille they are mistaken. I have another plan. But in the meantime I went to buy some food from Carrefour. I have a feeling that I might need it at this rate.

TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt 4525 PBA gare du midi brussels belgium Eric Hall photo February 2022Wherever I go, it has to start with the 08:17 to Montpelier via Lille

It’s one of the PBA (Paris Brussels Amsterdam) TGV Reseau 38000 trainsets and when I boarded it I could see exactly why my train had been cancelled. Two trainloads of people were “squeezed” into this one and it was still empty. I don’t suppose that they considered it worth their while to run the earlier one if it only had half the number on board that this one had.

There are a couple of small seats stuck in a corner by the baggage racks so I grabbed one of those and settled down while the train shot off into the void.

When it reached Lille Europe, I stayed on board. Next stop is Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport and from there is a Reseau Express Regional (RER) D train that goes into the city centre and out to Orly. I can alight at Denfert-Rochereau which is 5 stops and 40 minutes away, and then it’s 3 stops on the traditional metro to Gare Montparnasse.

The chances are that with a good run I could still catch my 10:59 train to Granville.

So at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport I hurtled off the train and up to the RER platforms on the level above to find “No RER Service today to Paris”.

That’s all I needed.

Plan C involved legging it right across Terminal 2 (which is enormous) to the other side and the express buses that go to the Stade de France RER station. That’s on RER line D so I need to change at Chatelet. I would lose 5 minutes but who knows?

Strangely enough, whenever I’m at Terminal 2, I ALWAYS SEEM TO BE REQUIRED TO RUN.

airport express coach stade de france paris france Eric Hall photo February 2022at Gate 2F I leapt on board a waiting coach and we shot off round and round the ragged rock until we finally found the exit that took us out onto the motorway and into northern Paris.

And there we hit a pile of roadworks and a long queue of traffic and I watched the time on my fitbit melt slowly away as we tried to jostle our way into the only lane that was moving.

We eventually made it to the Stade de France railway station. My train was to leave Montparnasse at 10:59 and as I alighted from the bus it was 10:59 precisely.

Never mind, it was a good try. At least, with all of the running around that I had to do I must have lost a good few kilos.

train RER D gare de stade de france paris france Eric Hall photo February 2022Now that I’m here I may as well push on.

Down on the platform I waited for the train to come in. The next stop is the Gare du Nord anyway and that gives me plenty of opportunity to work out something else. There has to be a Plan D somewhere.

At the Gare du Nord I didn’t even come up into the daylight. Here is RER line E and the terminus of that is at Gare St Lazare (well, near enough anyway) so I may as well see what gives there.

printemps department store rue caumartin paris france Eric Hall photo February 2022Where the RER station emerges into the street is right at the back of the Printemps Department Store.

Round at the front is the Boulevard Haussman where you find the headquarters of SPECTRE and several other extremely exclusive premises. But as you might expect, I’m not going that way. I’m going in the opposite direction.

There may be a considerable amount of time to spare but I’m not going to go for a look around in Printemps. It’s the kind of place where people like us need a credit account in order to simply look in the window.

gare st lazare paris france Eric Hall photo February 2022When I was here last I didn’t have too much time to take a photo of the Gare St Lazare so here we are. We can see the clocks that we saw last time outside the building but from a different perspective.

And here, I had my only slice of luck today.

When I arrived I noticed that there was a train to Caen at 11:59, one hour earlier than the one to Cherbourg on which they had booked me. Now if there would be a train from Caen to Rennes that connects with it, I will be à la maison and sec as they say around here.

Sure enough, the train arrives in Caen at 13:58 and at 14:10 there’s a train departing for Rennes so I sallied forth into the ticket office with right and a certificate of cancellation on my side.

Bombardier Regio 2N 56670 caen normandy france Eric Hall photo February 2022Just by way of a change I met a very pleasant and helpful SNCF ticket agent who took one look at all of my paperwork (Government officials on the mainland LOVE paperwork and rubber stamps) and issued me with a ticket for the earlier train.

It’s one of the really comfortable and quick Bombardier Regio 2N electric double-deckers. I was in the front coach upstairs with about 2 other people so I could settle down with my bread rolls and have a crafty nibble.

When the ticket collector came round I showed him my original ticket and gave him all of the rest of the paperwork that I had and he hardly bothered to check them. I went back to eating my bread rolls and listening to Hawkwind again.

And I still think that the violin solo on STEPPENWOLF is one of the best that has ever been recorded.

Bombardier B82650 84555 gec alstom regiolis gare de granville railway station Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022And here I am at Granville. My train is the Bombardier B825 on the left.

When I arrived at Caen it was already in and raring to go. It was quite full too and there are no luggage facilities, seeing as it’s a cross-country train. But I struggled aboard and eventually found somewhere for my suitcase and me.

There is no electricity on board these trains so I didn’t switch on the laptop. All the way to Granville I listened to COLOSSEUM LIVE on the telephone.

As I explained a while ago, I usually encounter interesting young ladies in peculiar situations whenever I listen to this album, such as in the High Arctic in 2018 and again a year later on the same ship in the same seat in the same place when I had two of the strangest encounters that I have ever had in modern times.

Today though, I’ve already had so many strange encounters, one way or another, that I probably wouldn’t have noticed another one by this time.

It’s no surprise that I dozed off for 10 minutes on the way home. And I immediately went off on a little wander. I was with another taxi driver and we were talking to a third. He had had the right to an engine in compensation for something but his wife at the time was now living with yet a fourth taxi driver and he had received this engine. He had fitted it into his car, “the T-reg”. I was surprised that after all of these years he was now back on the road but the reply was yes, it’s called “Creamony Cars” or something like that

Here at Granville on the right is the train that I should have caught. It beat me here (assuming that it was on time) by about 2 hours. And I don’t suppose that that was too bad because there was a moment when I was standing in front of the sign at the RER station at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport that I thought that I would never arrive at all.

The walk through the town was a nightmare. Even going down the hill was agony.

harbour gates closing port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022Climbing back up the hill up to my rock was even worse and it took me an age.

During one of my rather too frequent pauses during my climb I looked down at the harbour to see what was happening and I was lucky enough to see the red warning light flashing and the gates slowly closing.

So whoever might have been in the harbour loading up has now long gone and I won’t know who they are.

It was like Ice Station Zebra in here too when I arrived but ask me if I care. I made a coffee and collapsed into my chair.

No pizza tonight. I was too late to take some dough out of the freezer and it wouldn’t defrost so I had potatoes, veg and vegan sausage with vegan cheese sauce. It was lovely too.

Tomorrow is usually when I set an alarm for 06:00 and spend the day working on the radio but if anyone thinks that I’m doing that then they are mistaken. I’m going to bed and going to sleep until I awaken and hard luck on anyone who expects me to do anything. I’ve had a harrowing day.

Mind you, that could all change if TOTGA, Castor and/or Zero invite me to come with them for a midnight ramble. Imagine my sharing a room with Zero the other night and she not being there!

Sunday 17th October 2021 – I WAS ONLY …

ile de chausey yachts baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021… half-right about last night.

While you admire a couple of photos of maritime activity today, I can tell you all about it

It was almost 03:00 (in fact 02:50) when I finally fell into bed this morning but as for the “sleep through until tomorrow afternoon” bit, I was wide awake at 09:25.

There was no possibility of going back to sleep either and by 10:00 I was up and about and taking my medication.

Plenty of stuff on the dictaphone from overnight. I was with a friend from school and his sister, a girl on whom I had quite a crush at school and who has appeared in my nocturnal rambles on a few memorable occasions in the past. There was something going on about jeans that was happening or had happened in Shavington and she hadn’t seen us. I said that if I’d known that it was going to be in Shavington I’d have been there to see her (but I didn’t add those last three words on when I spoke to her). The conversation rolled on from there and she started to measure me for jeans. She couldn’t understand what was going on with my lower legs so she rolled up my trousers and saw my elasticated stockings and bandages and all the other kinds of paraphernalia and burst into tears. I took her into my arms to console her and said ‘you can understand why it is that I have said that I have had to give up so much of my activities just recently because of all this but don’t worry. I’m still here” – some consoling words like that. But that was a situation that I found extremely touching and I wish that things like that would have happened to me in real life instead of all of the fighting with which I had to contend back in those days. Some emotion expressed to my benefit would have been a wonderful thing for me, but I must stop trying to look backwards because that ship sailed a long, long time ago.

There was a girl called Marie Uriah, whoever she was when she was at home, if she ever was. I thought that something had happened to her as she was being treated by the doctors. When the doctors’ surgery split up her case was retained here for some unknown reason. She was a girl rather similar to Castor by the way. In the meantime we were=we were tidying out the garage. We’d had three cars in there. We’d been using one and then another then instead of the second we decided to use the 3rd and then the 2nd instead of the first. That meant swapping a load of stuff around. We’d been house-decorating and rebuilding it. We had tons of cheap plastic and copper piping so I was sorting that ut and putting it into the eaves of the garage. Nerina came home and asked what we were doing so I explained it to her. At first she couldn’t see why I was keeping all of this stuff but when we explained that we were going to need this for future she seemed to agree with it. We had a chat about things that we were planning to do so she said that she wanted to see this and this and this, and she wanted to see the file on this Marie Uriah and her National Insurance number. Another night sweat.

There was something to do with ice-skating rinks last night and I’d been asked to give evidence. Someone asked me in how many cases I’d given evidence to which I replied “probably 70-odd”. They asked why I considered myself to be an expert so I replied that I didn’t but everyone else did. There was much more to it than this but I just can’t remember now.

boats baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021With it being a Sunday I had a very quiet morning, not doing very much at all except vegetating.

After all, the journey home yesterday takes a lot out of me I had to recover my strength after my exertions, although that new route that I tried wasn’t half as exerting as the regular route.

Later on though, I finally galvanised myself into action and paired off the music for the radio programme that I’ll be preparing tomorrow.

And while I’m on the subject, I need to have a look round and see what Christmas songs I have for my programme that will be broadcast on Christmas Day

After lunch I had a pile of photos to sort through from my trip to Leuven. These are all now edited and when I transcribe the piles of dictaphone notes that accumulated, I’ll go back and edit the relevant entries.

No sooner do I catch up one lot of outstanding stuff, I fall behind with another. What upset everything was of course my having to go to the hospital on Thursday morning.

When I went to take out some dough for this evening’s pizza, I discovered that there wasn’t any. I must have used up the last lot last Sunday. As a consequence I had to prepare another batch and it didn’t turn out too badly.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021It’s been a long time since I’ve been out for a walk around the headland, what with being off on my travels, so I was keen to be out there again.

There wasn’t very much beach out there this afternoon. The tide is well in right now, as I discovered as I peered over the wall.

There were plenty of people down there as well taking advantage of what beach there was, and even some of them brave enough to go out into the water up to their waists. Braver people than I am, I have to say. You wouldn’t catch me in there quite like that.

yachts baie de granville Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021It was a really nice afternoon out there, considering that it’s mid-October.

Quite sunny, not too much wind at all, the kind of weather that brings the people out in their hordes. And even out on the water too, as you have already seen. A couple of yachts, a couple of speedboats, a cabin cruiser or two. The bay was full of them.

And people over there on the beach by the airfield as well enjoying themselves in the sun, although I’m not sure about the tractors out there disturbing the peace.

film camera crew lorries place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021On the car park, the workmen’s compound that was there has long-gone but it seems that we now have other activity there.

Part of the car park has been cordoned off with a couple of rows of cones, and in that section, there are several lorries and trailers that are parked there.

There were the usual “no waiting” notices scattered about, and so I went for a closer look. Apparently that area is reserved for “film crews making a film”. It looks as if once again, the town is going to be the scene of another cinematographic epic.

It’s happening quite regularly these days.

fishermen in zodiac baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021Fighting my way through the masses this afternoon I headed off down the path towards the lighthouse.

As well as all of the other boats that we have seen already, there was a zodiac a way out offshore with a group of people therein.

Enlarging the photo when I returned home, I could see that they were fishermen having a go at whatever they would catch which, while I was watching, wasn’t anything at all.

There was on aerial activity this afternoon. Not even one Birdman of Alcatraz, so I wandered off around the end of the headland.

cabanon vauban people on bench pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021Down the path and across the car park, I came to the very end of the headland.

Down at the bench near the cabanon vauban there was quite a crowd and I thought to myself that if they all intend to sit on the bench, they must be very close friends. But the perch of the guy on the extreme right looked rather precarious to mr.

It was here that I was buttonholed by a passer-by who asked me if it is possible to see the Mont St Michel from here.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, we can see the hotels on the mainland from down by the bench, but not the Mont St Michel itself because the Pointe de Carolles is in the way.

yachts les epiettes chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021It’s been a long time since I’ve had a good look in the chantier naval so I was keen to see how things were developing.

My trip down the path on the south side of the headland brought me to the viewpoint overlooking the yard where I was disappointed to see that there was no change in there from before I went away.

The big yacht is still in there, as is the little Government boat Les Epiettes. Wouldn’t it have been nice to have seen a couple of trawlers in there as well? I’m missing the overcrowding in the yard.

la grande ancre port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021Not very much happening over at the ferry terminal this afternoon, but there was something happening over at the Fish Processing Plant.

Just pulling away from the wharf over there was La Grande Ancre with quite a load of shellfish boxes on board, so it looks as if she’s off to try her hand herself at bringing a pile of shellfish back home.

Talking of “back home”, I wasn’t going to hang about too long. I could do with going back home and having a nice, hot mug of coffee. It might be warm out here this afternoon, but a mug of hot coffee is always welcome.

philcathane port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021Passing the inner harbour, I looked down to see what was happening in the inner harbour.

To my surprise, the dredger St-Gilles Croix-de Vie is no longer in there, and neither are the tubes that were floating about on the water. It’s all been happening while I’ve been away, hasn’t it?

Back here, I made myself a coffee and came in here to sit down for a few minutes. And later on I made a start at unpacking my suitcase from my trip. That was a good idea that was, taking the larger suitcase.

Later on, I went to assemble my pizza.

vegan pizza place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021No fresh mushrooms unfortunately so I had to make do with tinned ones. I’d drained them earlier and while the oven was heating up, I put them in the oven to dry out.

As for the pizza itself, it really was delicious. Not the best that I have ever made but it was certainly pretty good.

Now that I’ve written my notes, I’m going to have a quiet relax for a while and then go to bed. I’m up early in the morning because I have a radio programme to prepare and I need to be on form for that.

And I mustn’t forget – there’s shopping to do tomorrow when I finish or there will be nothing to go on my butties at lunchtime.

Monday 16th August 2021 – WE HAD TO WAIT …

yellow autogyro ponte du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall… for a good few days longer than I expected but nevertheless we got there in the end.

Sure enough, while I was out walking around the headland this afternoon, out of the clouds in the distance with its old familiar rattling came the old yellow autogyro from the direction of Avranches and the Pointe de Carolles.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I had anticipated her arrival a few days ago and as if to make up for her rather late arrival, she did a couple of laps around my head before disappearing off into the sunset and that was that.

grandstand port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnother thing that we have been eagerly anticipating for the last few days is to find out whatever is going to be happening down at the loading bay on the quayside.

The information still hasn’t filtered through but all of the equipment, including the grandstand is still down there.

As well as that, where that kind of rectangle was that we saw yesterday, we now have a couple of tents that have sprung up like little mushrooms. And we have even grown a couple of potted palms over the course of the day, as well a couple of bizarre objects, red and yellow.

tents quayside port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd it isn’t just there that things are happening.

All along the quayside down there and out into the car park at the side, there are yet more tents, marquees and other different things, and a few noticeboards indicating whatever might be going on.

As I’m off to Leuven tomorrow, I’ll probably miss whatever it is, but I shall go that way towards the railway station for a closer look and see what I can discover.

The plot sickens.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. Let us return to our moutons as they say around here, and start at the very beginning.

Once more, going to bed early doesn’t seem to make all that much difference because I still had a very tormented sleep and it didn’t seem to make all that much difference as to how tired I am.

After the medication I checked my mails and then made a start on the radio programme. And by 11:20 I was finished as well, despite having stopped for breakfast – a slice of fruit bread (I’ve given up the hot chocolate as it’s starting to show).

And had I not had to redo some of it and choose another track in the middle to replace one that didn’t work as I would have liked, I could have been finished a long time before that too.

Having dealt with that, I listened to the programme to make sure that it was correct, and while I was doing that I booked the rail ticket for tomorrow from Brussels to Leuven and back again. By the time that it was all finished it was almost time for lunch.

After lunch I had the tidying up to do because the nurse is coming round to give me my injection and the place needs to look as if someone actually lives here.

The rest of the afternoon was spent transcribing the dictaphone notes, and there were tons and tons of them too, and it took me ages.

The stuff for Sunday took ages and ages, but it was all done and it went on-line to update yesterday’s journal entry.

There had been a couple of interruptions while I’d been doing it. Firstly the nurse came round and injected me. I hope that it will propel me up the hill tomorrow to the railway station.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallSecondly, there was the afternoon walk around the headland, which of course always starts with a look down to the beach to see what is happening.

Off across the car park I went and over to the wall at the end of the car park where I could look over the wall. Not many people down there this afternoon but then again there wasn’t all that much beach to be on.

Nobody was quite brave enough to take to the water to any great degree this afternoon which wasn’t a surprise because there was a biting wind this afternoon that was quite really quite cold

Here I met one of my neighbours and we had a good chat, interrupted by a frantic chase back across the car park to rescue my cap that had Gone With The Wind

f-gbai ROBIN DR 400-140B pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hallwhile we were chatting we were overflown a couple of times by various aircraft, but I only managed to detach myself long enough to catch one of them.

She’s our old favourite F-GBAI, one of the Robin DR 400-140B aircraft that belong to the Granville Aero Club. We’ve seen more of her just recently than we have of all of the other aircraft in total.

She took off from the airfield at 14:12 and flew several laps up and down the coast and even inland for some distance before coming back to land at 16:33. My photo was timed at (adjusted) 16:15 so she still had some time to remain in the air before landing.

sparrowhawk bird of prey pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallF-GBAI wasn’t the only flying object that we were able to photograph this afternoon.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, there are some birds of prey that loiter around the edge of the cliffs looking for animals, baby rabbits and anything else that might do for an appetising lunch.

We started off with one but it seems to be a happy hunting ground down there because there are now three or four of them.

Incidentally, I am informed that they are sparrowhawks. Not that I would know, of course. While I am a very keen birdwatcher, it’s not this kind of bird that usually attracts my attention.

fishermen in zodiac pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere was plenty of activity going on out of the wind in the Baie de Mont St Michel so I wandered off in that direction.

There was a zodiac with fishermen aboard coming around the headland and I knew what was likely to happen once they came out of the lee of the headland so I waited.

Sure enough, the wind and the waves that hit them gave them a very nasty moment.

It reminds me of the story of the zodiacs aboard THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR. They all carry names, but prior to that they had numbers.
One day, the captain was bellowing down the loud-hailer “Zodiac number 61 – come back to the ship”.
No response, so he called again. Still no response, so he called a third time.
Suddenly realising that there were only 20 zodiacs aboard, he changed his tune and shouted “zodiac number 19 – do you have a problem?”

cabin cruiser yacht school baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut as I said earlier, there was plenty of activity going on in the bay out of the wind.

The first things that caught my eye were the yachts of one of the sailing school. There were a couple of schools out there this afternoon, taking advantage of the tide and the shelter that was afforded by the headland.

As well as that, there were all kinds of other boats out there – a cabin cruiser goign along at quite a rate and a small motor boat that might be something to do with the yachts of the sailing school – maybe the instrructor with a loud-hailer.

trawler charlevy trafalgar chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAlong the path on the southern side of the headland, I took myself down to the viewpoint overlooking the port and in particular the chantier naval.

And we’ve had another change of occupant down there this afternoon. We’re now back up to our seven boats again and I really ought one of these days go down and enquire about their names. But that won’t be this week as I’m off to Leuven tomorrow as I mentioned earlier.

But I can’t keep up with the speed at which they are coming and going these days. They are wearing me out and I don’t have the energy to keep on nipping down there to check before they clear off back into the water and another lot take their place.

tents car park port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallBefore I go back to the apartment and carry on with the dictaphone notes, we can see the final shot that I took of what’s going on down at the end of the port.

As you can see, the tents and whatever it is that they have erected have continued out into the car park, the area where the fishermen keep their shellfish drags and where the fresh shellfish are sold. It’s clearly going to be something quite important to take up all of that space.

With all of the lorries being there, it looks as if they are only just setting up their equipment. That means that they probably won’t be doing whatever they will be doing until the weekend.

Eventually, I finished off the notes from yesterday and then pounced upon the pile that related to last night. And if anything, there were even more of them.

Last night I started off on a ship, the THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR or something last night in the Antarctic. We were involved with icebergs and so on and there was a very famous poem that had been written about ships and icebergs and somehow I was trying to make the poem match up with those on board the ship but I awoke before I’d gone very far with this.

And later we were discussing the ferries and in particular the ones out to the Ile de Chausey and the trips that they do around the bay and the Ile de Chausey but I can’t remember now how the story went

Later still I was around at the farm of a friend of mine from school and was talking to one of the young girls who worked there – it might even have been Percy Penguin. I’d just been into the farmhouse to use the bathroom and as I was leaving someone came to the door. Whoever I was with asked if I knew who it was and I said “no”. She replied “what a shame. You could have found out and they could have babysat while we went out”. After a couple of minutes I thought that i’d go back and find out and pretend that I needed the bathroom again. Just as I arrived these people were disappearing down the drive. One of them just looked from the rear like the sister of my friend except maybe a little younger. In the house I talked to their mother and she showed me her new Avon purchase which was something for putting tea into for dropping into a cup like a reusable tea bag. We had quite a talk about that. When I returned I explained things to the girl I was with. She asked “didn’t you ask if she would babysit for us anyway?”

But here’s a thing. After making those notes I stepped right back into where I had left off before dictating the previous notes, back on the farm. My friend and his little sister, on whom actually I had quite a crush back 50-odd years ago, were there. They were laughing and joking and she was sitting on him and generally being a pest. He said “why don’t you go and sit somewhere else?”. So me, ever the opportunist, said “come and sit on me instead” and much to my surprise she did. I thought “God, I’m popular”. We sat there, the three of us, talking and I had my arm round her at one point. Then she had to go and clear off and fetch the dinner as there was a big party taking place. She was serving everyone around and still coming over to talk and chat to me occasionally here and there. I couldn’t believe my luck. I thought “how on earth is this going to end?” but it ended up by me sitting bolt upright wide awake with probably the greatest feeling of disappointment I have ever had in my life and I would have given all that I had to have gone back into that dream again at that point and see how it finished. It was just as if 50 years had suddenly vanished from my life.

That was probably the most powerful, realistic and optimistic dream that I have ever had since the famous WORLESTON INCIDENT all those years ago and the fact that I cans till remember that particular voyage so well after all these years shows you just how much of an impression that made on me. And this one will probably be the same. It’s another one of these that has left quite a disturbing effect.

Having dealt with all of that I went and made tea. A fry-up of everything that was left in the kitchen that wouldn’t keep until I return.

And now I’m off to bed. It’s not early but still earlier than it has been here and there. There’s a lot to do in the morning before I head off for the train.

Monday 10th August 2020 – IT’S NOT EVERY …

… day that I have the chance to ride in a rickshaw is it? but today I really did. A 1928 machine made by the Bombay Bicycle Company, as it happens.

Yes, I’m back in Eching in Germany and this is one of the many pieces of unusual equipment that my friend Hans happens to own.

Donauhotel Lettnerhof Au An der Donau austria eric hallLast night’s sleep in my luxury hotel was one of the best that I have had for quite some time – and that’s saying something because there have been some good ones just recently. I was up and about quite early too and had plenty of things to do before I left.

Like listen to the dictaphone

I was with a group of people last night and we were in the old Chemistry building in school, the H block and there was a football match taking place on the playing field. We all trooped off to one of the rooms to watch it. There was probably half a dozen of us – Zero, who has been with me on several nocturnal rambles over the years was there and a few others but we couldn’t see very much at all. The end room was the best one so we picked up all of our stuff, all our cables and leads and walked down to the end room. Surprisingly all these cables actually reached so we could get to the big picture window there and watch the game. The game was down the bottom field, people in green against people in blue and black and a similar team playing on a steep slope on a 5-a-side pitch. There was another couple of games going on and we couldn’t work out which was which. We came to the conclusion or decided that this wasn’t a very good place to be all. Something happened and we were like catapulted out of this room, two of us, me and a guy, and we ended up back down at the bottom so we walked along. By this time the people were sitting there and playing cards. This guy grabbed a seat as if to play cards and I stood there taking to everyone. There was a girl there who was dealing and she had a very heavy indented cleft palate with teeth growing up through the skin of her lips, like outside her lips. People were talking but it wasn’t about this game of football. This game of football had somehow disappeared so I don’t know what has happening about that now.

Later on, I’d had a schoolfriend and someone else in my car during the night and they’d left a pile of shopping behind so I went round to see them. My friend was very pleased to see me and I got loads of stuff out, bags of food that he had left behind. He didn’t really want it, thinking that I needed it but he didn’t want the coconut slices because they had been in contact with the inside of my holdall thing. Then he started to sit down to tell me that his sister had disappeared and how he would give all he owned to know that she was safe and brought back, and this was something that I could help him with.

And too right too. I was a big fan of his sister when we were at school and later, when she was at College in Manchester we had a few dates together. I should be so lucky!

Ironically, when I was musing over people who had been to accompany me on my nocturnal rambles, I’d mentioned this girl and I wondered why she had never come along with me. So here’s your answer. She’s disappeared off that particular ethereal plane.

river danube au an der donau austria eric hall No breakfast though today. I wasn’t hungry.

To start the day I went for a walk along the river bank to stretch my legs before I hit the road and despite it being so warm, there was a lovely early-morning mist rising up off the river but I didn’t think that it would last very long.

My ice cream stall was closed, as you might expect. Not that I was hungry of course, but it would have been nice to have had another one of those banana sorbets

river danube au an der donau austria eric hallThe previous photo was looking east, or downstream, the way that I had come. This way is looking upstream to the west, the way that I was going.

As you can see, the River Danube is nice and wide, free-flowing and not too fast. It goes without saying that there’s a marina close by because it’s just the kind of place where your average weekend sailor can don his navy blue cap and blazer and have a little potter about on whatever passes for ocean waves around here.

But I bet that it’s not always this calm. The levées here would tell you everything about that, looking at the height and width of them. There must be some incredible floods around here in late spring when the snow is melting.

gasthaus marktstrasse au an der dnu austria  eric hallCarefully dodging the squadrons of cyclists out for an early-morning ride I walked some way along the path on top of the levée to see what I could see.

As you might expect with it being a kind of resort town on the river there are quite a few amenities for tourists such as inns, taverns, guest houses and the like. But I was eminently happy with where I stayed last night

For example, the price. I was right about that. I certainly hadn’t imagined it. It was indeed €63:20 for a room that would cost three times that in a hotel in the UK or the USA. I’ll be back here again, that’s for sure.

And then I hit the road. 09:30 and it was already approaching 30°C. This was going to be another long, hot day.

old London Transport Routemaster naderers au an der donau austria eric hallHowever I didn’t get very far at first. There’s a travel company called Naderers here and as I threaded my way through the maze of streets I came across their transport yard. And parked up at the back of it was this interesting old London Transport Routemaster, whatever that was doing here.

Having made subsequent enquiries, I’m told that it’s RML2473 owned by Sabtours apparently and, rarely, it’s fitted with a Cummins engine instead of an AEC or a Leyland engine.

And behind it were some even more interesting items that look as if they might have been old tramcars from some ancient urban network.

And that wasn’t all of the excitement either.

There was quite a traffic queue for ages, cause by a couple of slow-moving vehicles that took ages to pass, but that was because, as I discovered later, we were stuck in roadworks. I missed my turning and had to do a U-turn, go back and do it all again.

abandoned steyr bus gusen austria eric hallEventually we were routed off into a diversion and here I came to another halt because parked up on an industrial estate was another old bus.

An Austrian Steyr this time a stage carriage vehicle I reckon and about which I know nothing at all, except to say that it was appropriate to the place, seeing as Steyr had a small factory here in World War II making rifle barrels.

Doing a U-turn in traffic to go back to see it was not easy either. While I was there looking at it I took a photo, but none of my “usual suspects” were able to identify the bus at all.

Eventually we left the diversion and rejoined the main road. My route followed the Danube for a while and then headed off into the hills.

And up there I found a service station selling diesel at just €0:91 – the cheapest that I’ve seen for years – so I fuelled up, only to find one even cheaper a short distance further on, as regular readers of this rubbish will probably have come to expect by now.

But in the main tt was a really depressing drive today in the heat, with roadworks, more diversions, farm vehicles and, at one stage two heavy lorries for about 35 kilometres and nowhere to pass all conspiring to slow me down.

I’d managed to find some bread for lunch, almost coming to grief at a roundabout, but finding a spot in the shade to park up to eat it was something else.

lunch stop near velden germany eric hallIt seemed to me that I must have driven for hours trying to find a quiet shady spot and I was very quickly becoming fed up of all of this. My humour does not improve in the heat.

In the end I found a little clump of trees with a forester’s path going up between them. The path was very tight but I reversed up there all the same as far as I could go until I was totally surrounded by trees and shade.

And here I sat with my butties and a good book and a closing of my eyes for half an hour while the sun moved slowly away and I could resume my drive in something more like comfortable weather.

My way to Eching came through the Airport at Munich – at least I now know where that is – so I parked up and went to find Hans in his shop. I stayed there until closing time and then had my rickshaw ride to the Beer Garden. Salad and chips and alcohol-free beer for tea. After all, this is the suburbs of Munich.

We had an interesting chat with a couple of people about motor bikes and the girl fell in love with Strawberry Moose. But now it’s late and I’m off to bed. It’s a busy day tomorrow.

Wednesday 23rd January 2019 – WHAT A HORRIBLE …

… day I had today.

It finished by being all right on the night, but it not without a great deal of effort.

For a start, I had what they might call a nuit blanche. Despite a reasonably early night, I don’t remember going off to sleep at all.

I suppose that I must have at one point though, because I was off on my travels for a short while. And here’s a blast from the past. I was back playing in a rock group again and we had a booking lined up somewhere in West London. There was a girl from school whom I quite fancied (which I actually did all those years ago, funnily enough) and she was at University down there. She had suggested at one time that I should drop in and look her up. I’d suspected that this was just a little bit of flannel but nevertheless it was worth following up so as I was in the company of her brother (who coincidentally has sent me an e-mail just yesterday) I’d check up. His reply was that “she’s very popular with her fellow-students down there, you know”, which of course told me everything that I needed to know. Even I could read between those kind of lines.

I was definitely awake at 05:20 and when the alarm went at 06:00 I leapt out of bed (well, sort-of) immediately.

With most things already being packed, I just drank the rest of the contents of the drinks bottles and rinsed them out, gave the room a quick once-over, and was then out of the door well before 06:30.

1849 sncb serie 18 electric locomotive heavy snow gare du midi bruxelles belgiqueThere was snow and ice all over the place and it was a difficult walk up town.

But I was on the station in time for the earlier train to Brussels. It was being pulled by one of the Siemens Serie 18 electric locomotives.

The SNCB owns 120 of these and, beleive it or not, despite their looks they are only about 8 years old. They get plenty of use.

heavy snow gare du midi bruxelles belgiqueMy train from Leuven brought me early into Brussels.

This gave me a good opportunity to go for a look around outside the station at the heavy snow was falling. It looked quite impressive this morning, illuminated with the flash on the camera.

And then off to the supermarket, which was now open, for my raisin buns for breakfast.

Thalys PBKA 4302 gare du midi bruxelles belgiqueThe TGV was on time this morning.

It’s our old friend 4302, one of the PBKA (Paris-Brussels-Kôln-Amsterdam) series 43000 units of which there are 19 – built in the mid-90s when the service was launched

I was looking forward to having a good sleep to catch up with what I had missed during the night but it wasn’t to be.

Instead, because of all of the snow (it really was heavy) the train had to slow down because otherwise it might overrun signals. And so we crept along at a slow but steady 180kph instead of a flat-out 300kph.

We were warned that we would be at least 40 minutes late arriving in Paris. That meant that I had to go off and hunt down the train manager to have her sign my ticket. I have a feeling that I’m going to be horribly late in Paris and if I miss my connection, the next train is 3 hours later.

I don’t fancy spending three hours sitting on a freezing cold, draughty platform and I certainly don’t want to have to pay for the privilege if there’s a way of avoiding it.

First off the train and along the platform – a long time since I moved so fast. And just as I arrived on the Metro platform a train pulled in. So I leapt aboard and it rattled off.

Arriving at Montparnasse, I was first off the train and off on the long walk to my platform right at the far end of the station miles away. I even took all of the travelators and even though they were rolling, I walked along them to speed things up.

And I was lucky I did. It’s about a 2km walk from the metro to my train, and I couldn’t afford to hang around.

84565 gec alstom regiolis granville manche normandy franceI turned up at my platform just as the guard was about to signal the departure. No sooner had I put my feet on board than he blew his whistle and the train pulled out.

I was so stressed out with all of this that it took me a while to regain my composure. Totally out of breath I was.

The snow eased off by the time we reached Surdon and we rattled along quite steadily. Somewhere round about Vire or so I fell asleep because I remember nothing whatever from then on until we arrived in Granville. Dead to the world.

marite thora port de granville harbour manche normandy franceIt was another struggle back up to my apartment.

What with all of the effort I stopped to catch my breath half-way up the rue des Juifs and I could admire the harbour.

As well as Marité down there at her mooring too we have Thora tied up at the quayside. I can’t see what her load is today, and there didn’t look as if there was anyone down there

gravel trawler port de granville harbour manche normandy franceIn the previous photo you might have noticed one of the gravel lorries driving onto the quayside.

They have obviously been very busy because there’s quite a pile of gravel accumulating on the quayside now, and that can only mean one thing.

Very soon we might be receiving a visit from Neptune who will come to take it all away back to the UK

It was cold and windy out there, although nothing like as cold as it had been in Belgium. But it was freezing in here and the first thing that I did was to switch on the heating.

There were a few things that I needed to do back here but round about 18:30 I’d had enough. I’d had a very bad night with almost no sleep, I’d been up early, dashed about all over the place and moved like I had never done for years. On top of that, I’d missed most of my siesta.

So that was that. I went to bed. When I awake, I’ll carry on.

Friday 26th February 2016 – AND THE ANSWERS …

… to last night’s questions are “Nowhere” and “No-one”.

I had my early night last night of course, but didn’t go straight to bed as I had a few things that needed doing. So I attended to them first while I was off on another nostalgia trip listening to my “Simple Minds” concert – the one that I engineered for Radio Anglais.

Eventually though, I was able to settle down and watch “Inspector Hornleigh on Holiday” – with the missing part recovered and the missing soundtrack restored and it was just as good as I remember it being. It’s quite possibly the best of the trilogy of films, I reckon.

And once I had settled down for the night, the next thing that I remember was the alarm clock going off at 07:45. First time for ages that I’ve managed to sleep right through the night, and also the first time for ages that I’ve not been on a nocturnal ramble (or, at east, a nocturnal ramble that I can recall). I’m not sure whether to be really pleased about the good night’s sleep that I’ve had, or sad that I didn’t go off walkabout during the night. As I’ve said before, these nocturnal rambles are the only way that I’m bringing some excitement into my life and relieving the boring existence of what is effectively an imprisonment right now.

It took me a good while to struggle out of bed and make my way downstairs, and much to my surprise, I managed to coax the boiler into life and had a lovely blaze going by the time that everyone else came downstairs. My technique must be improving.

Liz and Terry went off shopping this morning and left me to my own devices. I had a play with some of the new purchases that I made yesterday from the 3D Store that I use and generally took it easy. And I’ve also made great progress with my dictaphone notes for Canada 2014. I’m now on the outskirts of Montreal which means that I have only four days of voyage to transcribe. Who knows? I might even be able to do all of this over the weekend and that will please me greatly.

Now there’s one thing for which I should be grateful now that I am retired. And that is that I can’t possibly be sacked from my employment. Had I still been in employment and sent the mail that I sent out late this afternoon, I would have been in serious danger of being handed my hat.

But my excuse is that I was unnecessarily provoked.

I wrote to the Médecin Conseil of my Health Insurance provider to explain that the operation that I had four weeks ago (God! is it THAT long ago?) had evidently failed and that I reckoned that I ought to go somewhere for a second opinion. This will involve them in added expense and so I needed to consult them beforehand, to make them aware of what was going on and to approve the expenditure, and to see if they could recommend someone well-worth his salt, someone at the top of the profession who could give me the best possible advice.

I received the very helpful (I don’t think) reply of Nous ne pouvons, le médecin conseil, ne peut pas nommer aucun hôpital, vu que chacun a le libre choix de se déplacer à l’ hôpital de son choix _ crudely (and if you want “crudely”, then in the words of the late, great Bob Doney, “I’m your man”) translated by Yours Truly as “we on behalf of the Médecin Conseil cannot give out the name of any hospital, seeing that everyone has the free choice to go to any hospital of his choice”.

That’s all very well of course, but how on earth do you know which hospital to try and which hospital has the best reputation, and which hospital has the most efficient service etc. etc?. And which consultant is the most experienced and has the best connections? The hospital here clearly isn’t even sure about what illness I’m supposed to have so what hope do I have of knowing?

And so I sent them back a reply that would have blistered the paint in their office, and I ended up by asking if vu que chacun a le libre choix de se déplacer à l’ hôpital de son choix wasn’t merely a more-complicated way of saying “we couldn’t care less”?

As you can see, I can rule them out of any active involvement in my future well-being (such as it is) and as the hospital at Montlucon clearly has already run out of ideas (I’m really surprised that they haven’t been in contact with me this week to discuss the dramatic drop in my blood count) then I really am on my own here.

I have sore misgivings, and I don’t even have any ointment to rub on them.

And before I go, I would like to wish a happy birthday today to a girl who once played some kind of role in my life 45 or so years ago. I’m astonished that, with all of these various people making all kinds of cameo appearances in my nocturnal rambles, that she is yet to make her on-stage début. I would have placed her at odds-on to have made an appearance a long time before now.

Sunday 28th August 2011 – It was Sunday today

And so following the principle of “on the seventh day”, I had a nice long lie-in and for most of the day I haven’t done a tap.

This morning I’ve managed to finish a book that I’ve been reading and then I went to track down some more stuff that I need to take with me to Canada. I want to have my packing finished by tomorrow afternoon.

This afternoon I transcribed the rest of my notes from Canada 2010. You might remember that the dictaphone that I had broke down in the USA. That one recorded on either 1.2 or 2.4 ips but I have an ancient one here that records on 1.8 ips and so I’ve managed to transcribe the notes from that, even though I do sound rather like Donald Duck on it.

I’ve recorded a few more CDs to take with me – some Help Yourself, some Lindisfarne and finally (because I won’t be doing any more) Live in the City of Light by Simple Minds.

None of these were difficult choices. Help Yourself I first encountered on Man’s “All Good Clean Fun” Tour and Help Yourself’s subsequent classic
Good Clean Fun has passed our way and gone
But we’re glad that we have met someone
With a little bit of funk and soul
Man we’re glad we know you!

And not only that, if you are fed up of lead guitar solos where the guitarist plays a million notes so quickly that you can’t hear what he’s playing, then have a listen to the lead guitar solo on “Reaffirmation”. THAT‘s how you play a guitar solo.

Lindisfarne were of course the first serious group I ever saw live, Christmas 1971 at “Up the Junction” in Crewe. I was 17, my girlfriend at the time was nearly 15 and as it was a private members’ club, we borrowed the membership cards of my sister and her husband to get in. That was the night that the rest of the band left Jacka on the stage to play the harmonica solo in “We Can Swing Together” while they dashed off to the pub across the road. At 10:30 the club locked its doors as it was required to do by law, and when the band came back 2 minutes later they couldn’t get back in. They had to bang on the door for 15 minutes before someone would let them back in and poor Jacka was exhausted – the longest gobiron solo in the history of the planet.

As for Live in the City of Light, I had to go to Germany for a week and my car was in the garage so I was obliged to borrow one of a colleague. I didn’t have half my stuff with me, and the only music in the car was “Live in the City of Light”. If it had been most albums, it would have bored me to tears after a day, but not that. In fact it’s never been off my playlist ever since.

So that’s about 50 albums recorded. No matter what happens, I’m not going to be short of music in Canada.