Tag Archives: hotchy

Tuesday 16th January 2024 – WE HAVE REACHED …

… the nadir today.

After my visit to the Centre de Re-education today I couldn’t climb back up the stairs to my apartment and I was stranded on the second step (and I still don’t know how I managed to climb those two). Totally stuck, with no opportunity of moving.

It wasn’t until one of my neighbours turned up 20 minutes later that I was able to make it as far as the lift. And have you ever, ever heard of the absurd situation of two disabled old men, taking it in turns to help each other up the stairs one by one?

Yes, I really plumbed the perigee of despair today and I’m thoroughly sick to death of all of this.

So as you can see, the depths of the dark pit into which I slid last night are nothing whatever to where I am right now.

And do you know what made it worse?

TOTGA came to see me last night. That would be the kind of thing to immediately perk me up and bring me back into the Land of the Living.

But no such luck. And what with Castor (because I’m sure that you are all aware by now that it was she who came to see me a few nights ago, at long last) coming to cheer me up just now to no effect, things are really bad.

All I need now is for Zero to come to see me and I’ll have had my three favourite young ladies. But that’s wishful thinking and even if she were to put in an appearance, it wouldn’t do any good. I’d still be just as miserable

Cue another load of unwelcome immediate relatives tonight then, and my life will be complete.

It was another lousy, pain-ridden night last night where I felt every single jolt or bump, and I do wish that STRAWBERRY MOOSE would behave himself. Whatever will it be like when there’s a cat on there too? That is, if I ever do move down to the apartment below and don’t peg out beforehand.

But there must have been some passages of sleep because you won’t believe how much stuff there is on the dictaphone. And it wasn’t all about sleeping either because the first thing that I said when I opened my eyes in bed in the middle of the night at one moment was “oes rhywun sy’n gadael y llyfr yn y bedd” – “there is someone leaving a book in the grave?” and I didn’t understand that for a minute but that was what I said.

There they were later … "later than what?" – ed …, Jerry, Mike and I can’t remember the name of the third person, a girl whom we knew and I’ve forgotten. They were all there singing. I heard the song about “you being in my bed” which I thought was wonderful

At some later point I awoke and found myself in TOTGA’s bed. A couple of her daughters, which is strange because she only has one, were milling around fetching cups of tea for different people etc but I was being conspicuously left out of it which shows how welcome I was at the moment. Then TOTGA came and got under the covers with me and curled up. I thought to myself “this can’t possibly be right”. Even in a dream I knew that it can’t possibly be right but “hey!”. We were discussing things about a book that I was reading, where people were actually screws and had different characteristics according to what screw they were. She said “you should have said that you were from such and such a place” which was somewhere in the book. “That would confuse everyone”. I replied “I’m quite happy saying that I’m from no-tea town seeing as I’ve been here for half an hour and no-one’s offered me a cup of tea yet”.

And discussing screws in bed? It reminds me of that Excise Inspector whom I mentioned a while back giving evidence in connection with the case of a fraudulent medium. When one member of counsel asked him his occupation he replied "Excise Inspector"
"Testing spirits?" asked counsel
"Yes" replied witness "but not the kind of spirits that we are discussing at the moment"

And I know that if I ever were lucky enough to be in bed with TOTGA talking about screws, it wouldn’t be the kind of screws that came up in the dream

Then there I was in the hospital with TOTGA’s family too. We were still taking this barium meal thing. We were lucky because we were moved away at one point and the whole families left behind were at the mercy of the people who’d captured them. I continued to take this stuff, then they began to deal with all the results. I was swollen up quite badly with all this liquid but they began to take the results. They found that my condition had improved so I didn’t need to take as much of the product. The others could slowly stop it. This was how it continued, me gradually taking less and less and the swelling slowly disappearing etc. But it was still all kinds of nightmare and torture etc and I was really hoping that I didn’t have to do this again, and really hoping that TOTGA’s family didn’t. I wondered how she was getting on but there was then some kind of emotional reunion where we both met up but we were still connected to these kinds of things but it looked as of we were on the winning side of how everything was supposed to be.

And I was back in this dream again. This time we’d had the same preliminaries but I was tied up somehow. They asked if I was still coupled to the perfusion. I said yes so they started up the machine to give me more product. I could feel myself ballooning up like a lamb and at no time at all I was at the 21st stage where there was an old man chatting to one or two people. This was me, where I was going to be for a while. A nurse came to check my pochette and my injection and compared the muscles … fell asleep here … it all seemed to be favouring the woman who was with me at the beginning but everything settling down etc. She seemed to be being taken care of but I seemed to be just shunted around. In the end while I was sitting there singing to myself someone came to take control of me, measured everything and slowly reduced the product bit by bit until in the end it was just a small nominal amount that was going in me. I could see my friends on the other circuits … fell asleep here

All I could remember of this particular one was the blue plastic spines of how we’d been arranged when they had initially taken our measurements. I was one of the one s who had been sorted out for higher doses and the others had not so it was quite obvious that I’d be taken away from these blue plastic spines and started again from another point. I ended up on the north side of the building. That was when they began the treatment. I could see myself slowly ballooning up and could feel the product rising inside of me. I’d be interested to know what the figure was but of course no-one at that stage was going to take it. I’d have to wait a good while before someone would come along to do anything about it. I spend a lot of time thinking about TOTGA and her children, how we’d ended up in this particular situation which wasn’t very nice at all, wondering when everything was going to happen. But I’ve had this dream, it’s been a continual dream, dozens of times tonight and I really don’t know why

I was dropped off in the middle of Ottawa one night by my cousin who lives there. It was in the middle of winter and I was just wearing a shirt and tie, jacket and trousers. I was carrying a big file of paperwork, one of these site-workers’ radios and something else. I wandered around for a while, found a building that was open and went in. I had a wander around and found that it was a Little Chef. I sat down and went through this paperwork and managed to find out something that might have been her address for the moment. She was staying with a friend who was a dentist whom I’d briefly met. I made a note. By this time it was pouring down with rain outside. Luckily I had my winter raincoat so I put it on. I had a small waterproof bag in which I could crumple all these papers so they wouldn’t be wet and I could keep it underneath my raincoat. The old site radio would just have to take its chance. I set off outside into the rain with absolutely no idea whatever of what I was going to do now

Yes, Ottawa in the middle of winter in just a shirt and tie, jacket and trousers and it begins to rain. If that’s ever likely. Ottawa is the second-coldest capital city in the world, beaten only by Ulan Bator in Mongolia and it was freezing cold when I was there in November 2010 on my way back to see Katherine in Windsor.

But that’s not all the stuff n the dictaphone, but you really don’t want to know about the rest, especially if you are eating a meal right now.

when the alarm went off it was a mad scramble to find the phone and I really didn’t feel like getting up, but there I was.

And after the medication and typing the dictaphone notes I tried to do so much but it seemed that the whole wide world and his wife wanted me on the phone. I couldn’t even have a wash in peace.

And as a result I was also late for my Welsh lesson and the lesson itself was a disaster too.

The car came for me on time and it really was a struggle to go to the Centre de Re-education today. The ergotherapist had me cooking food today to see how I managed (and I brought it home too) and then Severine massaged my poorly knee. But you can’t perform miracles with shoddy material

After we’d finished I had this nightmare to come home where I made myself some hot chocolate and then crashed out like a light over my desk.

Tea, the first time that I’ve eaten today, was a taco roll with the pasta and veg from the Centre de Re-education and it was delicious.

So what are the odds on visitors tonight? It’s odds-on that my family will be here, but Zero will be a rank outsider because she’s the only one of the three who’s missing. Castor will probably be even farther out, having made her annual visit the other day.

But we might have a surprise visitor too – I mean, how long is it since the Vanilla Queen came to see me?

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, she’s a girl who once quite literally dogged my footsteps all the way from Montreal across to Edmonton, then to Whitehorse in the North West Territories and then onwards into the High Arctic.

She was someone whom I admired greatly. She was a hairdresser (“hair stylist!”) from Montreal who had a passion for the High Arctic just like me and one day just happened to notice that the lease on a hair salon in Iqualuit on Baffin Island was available.

So "gone! And never called me ‘mother’!". How brave was that?

But that’s even less likely than Castor.

The stage is probably being reached where not only would it be Nerina but I’d be quite happy about it too. But there’s no point in brooding about things like this. As if I don’t have enough to brood about right now.

If I’d stayed in Crewe I’d almost inevitably have ended up in Shrewsbury Nick or something or else driving a bus or taxi somewhere. Of course, all work is honourable, no matter what it is, but how do you keep ’em down on the farm after they’ve seen Paree?

If I’d stayed in Crewe I wouldn’t be where I am now, and I’ll remember that quote next time I’m having to think about spurious quotes to attribute to Boyle Roche.

So "as I write this letter I have a pistol in one hand and a rapier in the other". Good night

Saturday 18th November 2023 – I’VE HAD ONE …

… of those days where I haven’t really accomplished all that much.

Not that I can complain too much though. I accomplished everything that I intended to do, and with plenty of time to spare as well. And that’s not something that happens every day.

For once I was awake a long time before the alarm went off and had I really pushed myself I could have been up and about as well. But let’s not go getting ahead of ourselves.

After the medication and checking the mails I had a very slow start to the day and it wasn’t until I’d had my mid-morning coffee and soup that I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. There was a wedding taking place amongst the family. We were all assembled staying somewhere in a house for the night. Tea was pretty rudimentary so we all had tea in our room, a kind-of bedroom with about 12 beds in it and rubbish and mess everywhere. It really was untidy – much more untidy than anything I could ever come up with. While I was serving out the tea a cat came in. I offered it some of the tea but it promptly threw up everywhere which put a lot of people off their meal. I cleaned it up then we sat down to eat as best as we could amongst the debris and mess. Then I collected up the dishes to take into the kitchen to wash. My brother in law was there. His part of the room was the worst of all. He was saying “just take this for me – just take that for me – go and pick this up – go and pick that up” so I exploded at him and told him “instead of standing there giving orders if he went and did the jobs himself he’d find that it would probably be done a lot quicker” and stormed out of the room into the kitchen where I bumped into my mother. She asked what was going on so I explained that I’d just upset her son in law to which she made a remark to him too. I put the dishes down on the table.

Actually, to give you some idea, that particular member of my family actually tried to provoke me into a fight with him – at a family funeral in 2000, would you believe?

50 years or so ago another member of my family was marrying. I was living in the ground floor apartment of this building at the time. I remember having to look out of the window at something that was going on outside but I really can’t remember what it was. I had things to do to prepare myself for this event. Someone whom I knew but had forgotten now made some kind of derogatory remark about my appearance. I reminded them that I could probably give them 50 years in age and the idea of what is smart is set by convention rather than by just one person’s idea

And that’s nothing new either.

Everyone in the house was asleep. I was doing the accounts for the taxis. Roxanne was awake and came to see what I was doing. We had a chat while we were doing that. When we finished I suggested that we go downstairs and so something. She ran over to her slippers but instead she took her heavy clog-type shoes that were by the door by where her parents were sleeping. I told her to put on her slippers but she said that she might be going out. I told her to pick them up and bring them with her but she said that she wasn’t allowed bare feet in the house. She began to put on her clogs but made a noise so I told her to be quiet or she’d awaken her parents. She said that I’d awaken her parents by making a noise to her and that’s what always happens. I didn’t really explain to her that what was actually awakening them was the noise of her putting on her clogs, not me telling her off about it. She put her clogs on and went dancing off down the corridor and luckily her parents didn’t actually awaken at that moment.

Yes, Roxanne was a lovely, happy child. When she was 9 years old she and I were sitting outside a café in Ixelles while Laurence had gone to the shops. Roxanne was sitting next to me drawing a picture and we were talking about what she was doing. One woman sitting at the next table said to her friend, in one of these stage whispers “you can see whose daughter she is” and I’ll never forget the big beaming smile on Roxanne’s face.

When she was 6 I taught her to ride a bike and to swim and by the time she was 9 she was riding my Honda scooter up and down the street and steering the car (sitting on my knee of course) down the country lanes around Virlet.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed, while I was out walking last night something came along and hacked all my dwarf or gnome followers into bits. When I returned it was like a huge jigsaw puzzle and I had to spend hours slowly matching up the bits to remake the bodies. Eventually I began to make one or two correctly and even one or two of their house animals correctly. It was taking a very long time but I could see that I was going to be able to solve this and end up with all of my dwarves and gnomes reassembled.

My father asked me to drive over to the Shetland islands for a job that he had lined up for me. Full of mystery and suspense I set off. I eventually arrived. It turned out that one of his friends who lived on this particular island had had the opportunity to sponsor a lamp post outside his house and wanted to talk about it to someone. All this sounded extremely vague to me and the directions that my father gave me to the guy’s house weren’t of any help but he produced a couple of photos and that at least gave me some kind of idea where the house might be situated. I set off and eventually found it. It was a house in a dip with a great big street light right by it that was shining over the dip so it was really as if the house was completely floodlit. The old guy had the idea that he would sponsor it as a form of advertising. We had a lengthy discussion about the Shetland Islands, the Faroes, etc and even touched on the islands in the Arctic archipelago – strangely enough, ones of which I’d dreamt, not ones that actually exist. In the end her persuaded me to go to see his neighbour, an elderly Colonel. I went off to see him. He was completely bewildered. I explained that it’s certainly the aim of several counties in the UK to have their street furniture sponsored as a way of raising money and a way for people to advertise themselves or their possessions etc. He thought it rather strange which it probably was. he showed me around his house which was full of all kinds of different things, hardly anywhere spare of clutter on the floor or walls etc but it was all neatly arranged. After this guy left me alone for half an hour I began to sit and wonder that this was probably the strangest thing in which I’ve ever been involved. If this Colonel guy has to start moving around all his things for any particular reason we’ll be here for ever organising it. I just wondered what was going through this old man’s mind.

I went into a pub in Crewe for a drink – something that I haven’t done in years. I found to my surprise that I’d been barred. I had absolutely no idea why. It must be 40 years since I last had a beer. The next day I was at work. There was a kind-of complex confrontation going on about my timesheets. At one stage my manager took my phone and began to scroll through it. I asked him if he had a search warrant which made him immediately drop it so I immediately went onto the offensive and we had the most amazing row. I left and decided that I’d go to another pub to see if I could have a drink there. I asked for half a pint of mild but she served me half a pint of milk. We laughed about that and she gave me a drink. I began to drink it. As I was leaving I overheard a couple of conversations. One was a barman talking to one of the girls sitting at the bar. There was definitely something not correct about that conversation. He was trying to persuade her to do something and I could tell that she wasn’t all that keen at all. The other one was some people discussing councillors. A guy came in and began to talk about the building work taking place next door. Some guy had had several thousand pounds to do some digging there but as soon as he had received the money he dismissed the contractors and had the gipsies in to do it for cash. They were discussing the guy and how crooked he was. It was someone whom I actually knew so I stayed to listen to the conversation. As it happened, the guy was a Conservative Councillor so as I left I asked “what was that you were saying about councillors earlier?”. There was still a few minutes left before my bus so I thought that I’d walk through the shopping precinct off Victoria Street. I’d heard some depressing stories about it. They were right. all of the buildings were flaking, the paint was coming off, many were closed and areas of the precinct were in complete darkness as the street lights weren’t working. It looked like something from Chernobyl. I thought that I’d walk around for a while then go back to the bus station to catch my bus home.

Actually, that’s a slight exaggeration. The last time I had an alcoholic drink was in 1994. We’d been skiing up in the mountains on the border between Bulgaria and Greece and the fog came down. When we finally arrived at the gondola to take us back down to the valley it was all locked up and everyone had gone home.

We had to pick our way down the mountain on skis, completely off-piste and when we eventually reached the valley the only place open to relax was a bar and all that it had was beer.

That was the year that there was an oil embargo on Serbia and a friend (who figures occasionally in these pages although not as much as she did a good while ago and for the benefit of regular readers of this rubbish, didn’t feature in these pages anything as often as she deserved) and I were standing on a railway bridge over the main railway line from Thessaloniki watching oil train after oil train after oil train heading north.

Greece’s imports of oil tripled during that period.

Claire came on line too and we had a chat for a while. She’s been seriously ill for the last three or four weeks with something that has compounded her underlying health problems but she’s slowly feeling better and in a couple of weeks she might be up and about.

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … we’re all pretty much of a similar age and we are all growing old and infirm together.

Something else that I did was to finish off all the notes for the radio programme that I’ve been preparing. I’ll dictate that tonight before I go to bed.

Much of the rest of the time has been spent trying to bring order into chaos and tidying up some of the directories. That’s an ongoing process what with having to merge 30 years-worth of hard drives together and it won’t be finished any time soon either.

There was time to have a good play on the guitars too. A couple of songs that bring back memories of those 3 missing nights in the High Arctic were of course THE FIRST SONG THAT WE SANG TOGETHER.

This was also ANOTHER ONE that we worked on together on board THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR

There were plenty of others too so I’m going to restart my playlist. I even managed to find time to work on the bass lines for WIND UP and, of course, not to mention the track WITH THE GREATEST OPENING 1:20 EVER

Anyway, that’s enough nostalgia for now. I can’t see me ever playing in public again if I can’t ever hold a guitar and I can’t stand up And sitting here with a guitar on my knee means that I can’t sing.

And even if I could sing sitting down with a guitar on my knee, I no longer have the breathing to do it.

What kind of state am I in?

Tea tonight was a breaded quorn fillet with salad and backed potato, delicious as usual. And now I’m going to dictate the radio notes and go to bed.

Tomorrow I have pizza dough to make and I intend to attack the bread and butter pudding to see what damage I can do to that so a good lie-in will do me good.

But we’ll have to see about that. It would be nice if some nice people came to visit me rather than the endless stream of relatives who keep turning up.

Even The Vanilla Queen coming along TO HAUNT ME IN MY DREAMS would be a great improvement. I wonder how things are these days on Baffin Island.

Wednesday 30th August 2023 – AS SEEMS TO BE …

… usual these days when I have to go somewhere important, I was actually awake and up and about (in principle, at least) when the alarm went off at 07:00

That was despite having gone on several travels during the night. There was something about trying to download the course book for my next lot of Welsh lessons and then trying to find and download a mannequin and various poses for when we’ll be taking off a Welsh lesson but I can’t remember too much at all about this and I fell back to sleep afterwards.

And then I was with Rosemary. We’d been staying for a weekend with a couple whom we’d met somewhere who had 2 children, a young girl and a young boy. They were in the middle of rebuilding a house so I went up on the scaffolding to have a good look around. He didn’t really understand what he was supposed to be doing so I gave him a few tips from my experience and we actually did some work together. I told him of a few things that he needed to buy, one or two tips about sanding down the wood and filling gaps etc. He was very impressed. Sooner or later it became time to go so we had to climb down and say goodbye. For some reason this was a really heart-breaking moment. I remember saying to this woman and guy that I wanted to stay. Rosemary said that it’s not quite possible and we’d have to go which was certainly true but for some reason I was truly heartbroken about having to leave. That was what was most disturbing – not so much the dream about having to leave but how I was actually feeling about leaving

Finally I had to take the young girl to the station because she was going to Boarding School. When she’d been before, she’d been taken as far as the barrier and sent through on her own to look for her own school party. She was saying that that was really difficult so she asked me if I’d come through the barrier with her down onto the platform and help her find her group of people. I didn’t see any reason why not so I said that I would. She was talking about being sent away to school, basically to give her mother some free time which I knew but I had somehow to explain to the girl that it was so that she would learn a whole variety of different things that she’d never learn at home, how it would be a big experience for her and how much of a better person she’d be because of it, although I wasn’t convinced myself. On the way to the station we walked down the street past the University Library. She made some comment about how a pile of books had been arranged in a Y shape but we were talking about the library saying how untidy it was. I said that I was surprised that the librarians would let a University Library fall into this state. I was really enjoying my conversation with this little girl. again, it was another thing that I was going to be really sad when it was all over and she’d gone.

First thing was to dive into the shower and clean myself up ready to be poked and probed by a doctor, and then, having grabbed by backpack and crutches, Caliburn and I headed off to the railway station.

Luckily there was a parking space available outside the station so we managed to tuck ourselves in without having to walk miles.

The train was already in the station and, to my surprise, the coffee machine which has been out of order since Covid struck is now working so I could fuel up with a coffee in peace and comfort. I can’t carry a mug while I’m walking as I don’t have my hands free, so I had to drink it leaning up against the wall.

For a change, I was lucky with the train. The earlier train that had set out before this one had encountered a fallen tree across the line but the issue had been resolved by the time that we set out and we arrived in Paris on time.

Being limited to what I could bring with me, I didn’t have the computer but I did have a book.

Ages ago I’d bought a copy of Dashiell Hammett’s famous novel THE MALTESE FALCON but I’d never had the opportunity to read it so I brought it along.

Much as I like THE FILM which is one of my favourites and I can watch time after time, the book goes into the story in much more detail and answers several questions that were left unanswered in the film. Some of the action is quite different too and makes much more sense.

We pulled into the station on time for a change but I had to wait a while for my lift to arrive and then they drove me to the hospital, flashing blue lights through red traffic lights, the whole works.

At the hospital I had to wait around for some time but eventually I was dragged into a room where they gave me the works. It was another one of these electrical shock things that really hurts and I really hate, and it was much more thorough than the ones that I’d had before. It took much longer too.

The doctor spent some time examining the results and then we had a chat. He tells me that there are two reasons why I might be suffering. One is that my underlying illness might be eating its way into my nervous system, or else I might have a serious infection.

However, everything that everyone has seen in all of the examinations that I’ve had, the lumbar puncture included, don’t show any of the classic symptoms that they would expect to see in either of the two situations.

The net result of this is that at the moment they are puzzled. However "we can’t leave things alone and leave you like this".

What they are proposing is that I "would probably benefit from a stay here for a few days while we undergo some more exhaustive tests".

They’ve taken all of the details about the hospital in Leuven too in order to contact them about my case and compare notes.

And so we’ll have to see how the future unfolds, but at least I haven’t been abandoned to face my destiny on my own, and that’s a good thing to know.

There’s a café outside the building where I was being examined so I went and had a coffee before I was picked up again and taken back to the station. Here, to my dismay I found that my train would be departing from Vaugirard, so I had a long walk down the platform, during which I came within an ace of falling over.

There was a very long wait for the train back home and we didn’t pull into the station until 23:10. It was 23:30 when I finally sat down in my little apartment, thoroughly exhausted and wasted. It had been a very long day and, to my complete surprise, I hadn’t crashed out at all.

However I was far too tired to do anything else so I cleared off straight to bed. It’s actually 5 years to the day that I first encountered The Vanilla Queen and 4 years to the night that I’d had the first of a short series of the strangest, most bizarre nights that I’ve ever had

All of these were events that totally changed my perception of various aspects of humanity.

The artist Samuel Gurney Cresswell who had accompanied James Clark Ross on his Arctic voyage of 1848-49 and said of Captain Robert McClure, who had almost come to grief in the ice, that a voyage to the High Arctic “ought to make anyone a wiser and better man”. All that I can say is that it didn’t work for me.

But ask me if I want to change any of it.

That’s something on which I can dwell while I’m deep in the arms of Morpheus.

Friday 26th May 2023 – MY LUNCH TODAY …

… was delicious.

Down at the supermarket in town this morning they had some fresh broccoli on special offer so I bought a chunk, trimmed off the florets, blanched them and then stuck them in the freezer for a later date, now that I have room.

There was a nice, thick, chunky stalk left over so I made a soup. I fried an onion and garlic in olive oil with some cumin and coriander, diced a couple of small potatoes and diced the stalk, added it to the mixture to fry and when it was all soft, added some of the water in which I’d blanched the broccoli.

After about 20 minutes’ worth of simmering, I whizzed it with the whizzer and ate it with some crusty bread.

And I’ll do that again!

But here I am, waxing lyrical about going to the shops and buying some broccoli as if it’s the highlight of my life. One of those memory things popped up on my social network, reminding me that 11 years ago today I was out on an icebreaker as we smashed our way through the pack-ice on our way back to Natashquan after taking relief supplies out to THAT ISOLATED ISLAND off the “forgotten coast” of Québec.

The moral of this story is “whenever an opportunity comes your way, grab it with both hands and go right to the end. You’ll never know if you’ll have another chance, and you never know what the future has in store for you”.

While we’re on the subject of the High Arctic … “well, one of us is” – ed … the first track to come round on the playlist this morning, after what I had said yesterday, was THE VANILLA QUEEN.

It’s been a long time since that “fascinating lady” has been to “haunt me in my dreams” after “the bright, nocturnal Vanilla Queen” and I stood together on the bow of THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR watching the midnight sun in the Davis Strait. I was never the same again.

And while we’re on the subject of the High Arctic … “well, one of us is” – ed … the lovely Dyan Birch, whose voice is up there with Kate Bush, Julianne Regan and Annie Haslam, put in an appearance shortly afterwards.

She was well-know of course for her stint in Kokomo but before that she sang in an obscure Liverpool group called Arrival and their first album was one of the very first albums that I ever bought all those years ago.

The song that featured on the playlist was HEY THAT’S NO WAY TO SAY GOODBYE and I picked that as one of the ones to be broadcast in one of my radio programmes in due course.

It’s the song that came into my head up in the High Arctic as I watched “someone” walk from out on this desolate windswept and icebound airstrip to her aeroplane without waving or looking back and I thought to myself “hey, that’s no way to say goodbye!” but a few years later when I was saying goodbye to someone else on another airport, I suddenly realised the reason why some goodbyes have to be said in that way.

Samuel Gurney Cresswell, the artist and Arctic explorer, was once asked to explain Robert McClure’s loss of nerve after their dreadful experience in the moving pack-ice not too far from the first airport that I first mentioned. He replied that a voyage to the High Arctic “ought to make anyone a wiser and better man”.

However it didn’t work for me. One day I’ll write up the story of those three missing days.

But that’s enough maudlin nostalgia for the moment. We all know that nostalgia ain’t what it used to be.

Let’s turn our attention instead to this morning, and the fact that one more I was up and about (in principle because I was far from awake) before the alarm went off.

But a shower slowly brought me round and I put the washing on the go. Oh! The excitement! It’s almost as riveting as the day that I had when the highlight was taking out the rubbish.

There was plenty of time before I had to go anywhere so I transcribed the dictaphone notes from the night. This was another one of these work dreams again, and I’m having plenty of those. I was working in an office but I wasn’t very productive and I wasn’t doing very much at all. Mostly wasting time. The Germans invaded the country and occupied the town where our office was situated. They ordered most people to leave. Those people gathered their things together and started to set off. At that moment I came back into the building having missed everything that was going on, saw them going, and said something like “goodbye, my colleagues. I don’t know how many of us will meet again after this thing has happened. Wishing everyone the best”. I’d heard some stories that some farmers had been far too friendly with the invaders and denounced a couple of people already. So we sat and started on what was going to be a very long ordeal.

But invaders again? We had them the other night, didn’t we?

Then there was something else on these lines. Someone ended up sending something or other to the office where we were working, as a kind-of sign of discontent but I can’t remember anything about it.

I also spent much of the night in company with a young girl and I wish that I knew who she was. We were talking about the area up at the back of Barrow, places like that. I mentioned a fishing port that was formerly very busy. When the fishing died out they came and moved some of the railway lines that connect the port network to the main line but left a diesel shunter behind that was now stranded on the dock and can’t be moved. We were chatting about all kinds of interesting things. Right at the end there was some kind of problem about her having to pay her rent on her little apartment so I suggested that she comes to live in mine. This was another one of those really nice, warm comfortable dreams that I wished would go on for ever and I don’t have too many of those.

But seriously, who would want a relationship with me?

It was a slow stagger down to the doctor’s and I didn’t have long to wait to see him. But as I thought the other day, he confirmed that with this series of injections, there’s nowhere else to go. He wrote out everything that I needed, wrote out the prescriptions, and that was that.

And that got me thinking.

It’s not the first time that I’ve mentioned it but a few years ago I was standing ON THE CREST OF SOUTH PASS, the gap that the “trails west” emigrants used when crossing the Continental Divide where to the east the waters drain into the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic, and to the west they drain into the Pacific.

It’s the most peaceful place on earth and I want to go back. I’m getting itchy feet again.

At the Carrefour round the corner I bought the broccoli, some mushrooms, some potatoes and a couple more of the small peppers. Now I know that I can freeze them, i might as well put a stock in the freezer now that there’s room.

Have you any idea how much a month’s supply of Aranesp costs? You really don’t want to know. And because it’s not on the list of GP-prescribed medication I have to pay for it up front and claim it back from my health insurance. That will hurt for a while.

So loaded up with a ton of medication (I’m singlehandedly keeping the French pharmaceutical industry afloat and they won’t ‘arf miss me when nature takes its toll) and having to go back tomorrow for some more, I crawled back up the hill onto my rock where I made my soup, had lunch and then … errr … relaxed. This stagger back takes its toll of me.

This afternoon I finished off choosing the music for the next batch of radio programmes but I’ve run aground at the moment. There’s a French musician called Miquette Giraudy who collaborated with Steve Hillside-Village and she wrote and played on several tracks. But you try to find them. None of my usual sources came up with the goods. The best example of her work that I can find so far is the album on which she collaborated with Hillage after he left “Gong”.

Both Alison and Liz were on line later so I ended up chatting to both of them. Alison was telling me more detail relating to our chat yesterday and Liz was showing me photos of her little week away in the Marches.

Tea was chips (now that I have some potatoes) done in the air fryer, with salad and some of the veggie balls. So you might say that part of my meal was a load of balls this evening. But then again, you might not.

Shopping tomorrow, not that I need very much at all but I have to go through the motions. I’ll go to LeClerc of course to see what they have to say for themselves, and I’lll also go for a prowl around at Noz. There’s usually a few surprises there and it’s nice to buy something different. It helps to shake up the diet.

And then after lunch a walk into town to pick up the Aranesp, which means that in the afternoon I’ll be crashing out. Terrible, isn’t it?

Wednesday 24th May 2023 – I AWOKE AT …

… about 05:55 with the idea in my head of some woman who was dressed in some kind of Eighteenth-Century formal Court dress like someone out of the French Empire. It was such a shock but it awoke me bolt-upright and there was a very uncomfortable feeling for a few minutes as to how this had come about for I remember absolutely nothing at all of what happened, just the image of this woman that had appeared in my head so dramatically.

So as a result, when the alarm went off this morning at 07:00 I was already up and about. Not by much, I have to say, because it took me a while to come to my senses (not that I have too many senses to come to these days) after I awoke.

After I’d had my medication and checked my mails and messages the first thing that I did was to check the curry that had been simmering away in the slow cooker over night. It was fairly liquid, more than I expected, so I bunged in a couple of potatoes duly diced and some bulghour and let it carry on simmering.

In case you are wondering what spices I use these days in a carry, there’s cumin (ground as well as seeds) turmeric and coriander of course, and then some hot chili powder, fenugreek and fennel. There was also some garlic salt too, as I always put in if I’m leaving something simmering overnight. I’ve no idea of the proportions of the spices though. I just add the stuff until it tastes right.

Next task was to telephone the doctor. I need some more Aranesp and much more of it too, what with having to take it every week with effect from next week. So on Friday at 10:45 I have to stagger down the hill into town. And, presumably, stagger back too. That’s the bit that finishes me off these days.

Checking the dictaphone next because there was more stuff on there from the night. I’d been left alone in my parents’ house while they’d gone out. I’d been doing a few things like the washing up and tidying up, getting everything ready and then feeding the cats. By now it was sometime really late at night so I thought that I’d just go outside for 5 minutes for a breath of air or something and then go to bed. I went outside and there was plenty of snow around. I was just standing there at the side of the house when almost immediately my parents pulled up. They had one of our cats with them but it was on a lead. Of course it wasn’t my parents in real life. They wanted to know what I was doing and why I was outside. It was very difficult to explain that you’d just go out for some fresh air.

So my family again, and also a few cats. This is becoming rather monotonous.

This afternoon the cleaner has been here tidying up for me. I had a shower before she came so that at least I’ll smell nice, instead of just smelling. And that reminds me – the laundry basket is rather full now so I’ll have to let the washing machine do some washing on Friday while I’m in the town.

While she was doing her stuff I’ve been choosing the music for the next series of radio programmes. Once again we’re back into the obscure artists bit, including a track recorded by someone who was at one time Pete Townshend’s chauffeur.

And I also had a little … errr … relax. The strain of the early morning was rather too much.

By the time that I was ready to make tea, the potato and bulghour had done their stuff and the mixture in the slow cooker was now nice and thick. So I fried a couple of large onions, a few lumps of garlic, the leftovers out of the fridge and then added the pile of stuff out of the slow cooker.

There’s enough for 6 helpings so five of them will be going into the freezer (now that there’s room) when they have cooled and the sixth one went down really nicely with rice and vegetables and one of my naan breads.

Tomorrow I’ll finish off selecting the music and then make a start on writing the notes. But I really need to have a good think about what I’m going to de for my 200th radio programme.

For my 100th, I did an overnight 12-hour rock festival of the various groups and musicians who I’ve encountered on my travels around the Northern Hemisphere but I’m not sure that I’ll be doing the same thing again. Going through the back-up drive I’ve found a few tracks on which I played back in the 70s but the quality isn’t good enough and the there isn’t enough of it anyway.

However, there is always that infamous Colosseum concert. It’s accompanied me on many of my voyages around and about, including the time that I sailed across the Atlantic on THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR when I reckoned that I would have plenty of time to remix and re-edit it.

But it was on those voyages while I was trying to re-edit it that I had my strange encounters, firstly with The Vanilla Queen and then with Castor so it’s a concert that has a … errr … certain significance. If it ever does find its way onto the airwaves it should certainly stir up something.

And that’s the idea, I suppose. Life is quite boring these days without being able to go off and make things happen. It’s high time that I made some excitement happen, although I’ve no idea how I can manage it. Finally getting the Colosseum concert onto the airwaves is a good place to start.

Wednesday 24th August 2022 – WHAT HAPPENED THERE?

cabin cuiser baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022While you’re admiring a few of this afternoon’s photos featuring a variety of water craft, I’m still trying to understand what happened just now.

There I was going through all of the day’s photos editing them when I noticed that the time was 19:45.

That’s 15 minutes later than the usual tea-making time so I downed tools and went off to make tea – a curry from all of the leftovers as usual on a Wednesday.

But when I checked the time as I sat down to eat, it was actually 19:26. Somewhere along the line I’ve gained an hour and I wish that I could do that every day.

But it looks as if I’m cracking up. Even more evidence, in fact.

boats baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022As I suspected, it was another night that was later than I anticipated. And for the usual reason too, that just as I was going to bed something interesting came up on the computer’s playlist.

It was of course another “Paul Temple” episode and these are far too good to miss. So for that reason it was … errr … somewhat later than usual that I went to bed.

Waking up with the alarm was one thing. Leaving the bed was something else completely and I wasn’t too far short of missing the second alarm.

After the medication and checking my mails and messages I came in here to work and once I’d awoken properly and pulled myself together I could listen to the dictaphone to find out where I went last night.

boats baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022I had a job working for NATO in Brussels so I arranged to reserve a little apartment for myself for the night. I packed everything and went off to Brussels to find my little apartment. I ended up staying in a hotel room that night instead. Next morning when I was on my travels walking around I cam across a little apartment that looked really nice and was affordable. I started to rent that. I was settled down in a very short space of time. I also ended up with 3 cars for some reason, a Mini, another vehicle and a Morris 1000. I installed myself and the following night I was going to see a concert of some type. I went and bought some food but for some reason I didn’t eat it. I bought something else which was a raw steak. I had a primus stove and a frying pan so I went to this concert quite early on and started to fry this steak in the foyer while I was waiting for things to happen. The first thing that I did was to telephone my father. It was actually supposed to have been a former friend of mine but I ended up with my father. Someone said said “wait a minute” and they went to fetch my father but I fell asleep. When I awoke, the line was dead. He had gone. I found that friend’s phone number and called him. It took me about 4 or 5 goes to get through. His son answered it but when he saw the ‘phone number on the display he said “it must be for my dad” and passed it through. We had a chat but just then the bouncers appeared. I said that I’d have to go as I’d have to dismantle my frying pan and stove. By now the steak was cooked. One or two people were looking at me wondering what on earth I was doing going to eat a steak. It suddenly appeared to me that I was vegetarian so I walked back to Caliburn and threw this steak away thinking that I’d find a pack of chips somewhere. When I reached Caliburn I didn’t have the frying pan. I thought that I must have left that somewhere so I needed to retrace my steps. I bumped into another woman who said that it was strange that I’m cooking a steak when I’m vegan

boats baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022A little later on I stepped back into that dream and continued where I left of in the same dream. I was actually round at that former friend’s house and we were talking about either music or books or something. The subject of a couple of authors came up or musicians or something. We began to discuss what they were doing

But I can’t believe that I was round there last night and Zero didn’t make an appearance. I’ve not seen her, or Castor or TOTGA for months and I’m beginning to feel that they have deserted me.

As I have asked before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … why is it that my family, who I can quite easily live without, continue to haunt me in my dreams while those whom I would dearly like and give anything to have accompany me on my nocturnal voyages are conspicuous by their absence?

And while we’re on the subject of “haunt me in my dreams”, someone else who hasn’t been around for quite a while is The Vanilla Queen. Her ship seems to have sailed a long time ago.

Fighting off (successfully, for a change) a couple of waves of fatigue, some of the rest of the day has been spent transcribing arrears of dictaphone notes. There are just three days left to do and I suppose that had I pushed on, I could have finished them.

However one thing that I’ve learnt (through many years of bitter experience) is that output tapers off the longer you perform a continuous task as you begin to lose interest, and you become distracted far too easily.

That’s why I always have several tasks on the go at once and when I feel the interest flagging I can pass on to another one.

And so much of the rest of the time has been spent updating the earlier entries with the missing details. I’m not going to publicise them yet otherwise people will be leaping through all kinds of hoops to find them. There are two batches and I’ll publicise each batch as it’s finished individually.

A final thing that I’ve been doing is downloading a couple of photos and publishing them in our Welsh group chat. One of the things about which I was talking to my tutor during our marathon chat was the annual sealift in Arctic Canada.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I’ve talked in the past about the prices in the shops in the Canadian High Arctic. That’s because they have one, just one, sealift every year – a delivery of freight that comes by sea and is offloaded into barges that bring it ashore.

And sometimes, as in 2018, they don’t have any at all if the weather is too bad. And whatever isn’t brought in by sea is obliged to be flown in and that comes at an even more hefty price.

So someone whom I know in Iqaluit on Baffin Island told me that yesterday – actually yesterday – they had the annual sealift and he very kindly let me have some photos. So I posted them in our chat group with a little note – in Welsh.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022We had the usual interruption for me to go on my afternoon walk. And for a change I wasn’t all that late.

Across the car park through the hordes of people over to the wall at the end to see what was happening down on the beach. And not only were there hordes of people up here, there were hordes of people down there too.

And a good proportion of those who were down there were in the water too, so hats off to them. It was a lovely day, but not that nice as far as I was concerned. And not as nice as some others might have thought either because there was definitely at least one kid squealing away.

There was a tent again too, and I was all intent on including it in the photo but it was too far out of shot.

kayak plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022There were in fact people all the way down the beach as far as the Plat Gousset.

The yellow buoy that you can see marks the limit of the patrolled water. There are several of those buoys all in a line connected by a chain. However my interest was centred on the red object just offshore.

Despite having a good look at it, I couldn’t decide whether it was a kayak or an inflatable dinghy. As someone who has been half-way around the Arctic on board an inflatable dinghy, albeit a motorised one, I was hoping that it might have been the latter.

After all, they are very famous and go back to the days long before motor power, when all inflatable dinghies were sail-powered. Classical poems were even written about them. After all, you’ve all heard about Edward FitzGerald and “The Rubber Yacht of Omar Khayyam”

I’ll get my coat.

yellow powered hang glider baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022As I mentioned just now, there were crowds of people out here on the path this afternoon so I had to fight my way down to the end.

And as I was doing so, I was overflown yet again. The little yellow powered hang-glider thing went flying past overhead on its way back to the airfield after a flight down the bay.

As it happens I was out at a different time today than yesterday so I was wondering whether he loiters out of sight around a corner and waits for me to come out before pouncing.

We haven’t seen any of the other little machines for a good few weeks. That’s a surprise considering the fact that we’re in a Summer season.

buoy baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022On my way down the path I was looking out at sea to see what else was happening and you’ve already seen a couple of photos of what I saw.

But what else I saw was a collection of buoys out at sea, presumably indicating where some of the fishermen have dropped off their lobster pots. There were probably half a dozen or so that I saw out there with a variety of flags, suggesting that several fishermen had been out there.

Unfortunately there wasn’t much else to see because we were having another sea fog this afternoon. Only a small part of the Ile de Chausey was actually visible and that was our lot.

And so I carried on over to the lighthouse and across the car park

fishermen pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022From there I went down to the end of the headland to see what was happening there.

There were a couple of the yacht schools out and about as you have seen, but down there on the rocks were several fishermen.

It was like a garden gnome convention with each rock having its own angler. These three were deep in concentration studying their equipment but they didn’t really look as if they were about to catch anything.

After our jackpot a couple of days ago, we have to realise that you can’t win a coconut every time

cabanon vauban people taking photographs bench pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022With all that was going on down on the rocks and out to sea, I was expecting to see plenty of people out here at the end of the headland.

Loads of people on the path, and even a couple down by the cabanon vauban too.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that one theme that runs through these pages is “photos of people taking photos of people”. And so we were lucky this afternoon as someone duly obliged as I was watching, with his subject doing her best to look disinterested.

We’ve not had any more rain since the other day, by the way, and you can see how sad the vegetation is looking.

chausiaise port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022From thee I wandered off down the path on the other side of the headland towards the port to see what was happening there.

There wasn’t anyone playing “Musical Ships” again so I had a look over at the ferry terminal. Chausiaise is over there – there mustn’t be any freight workings while the Festival of Working Sailing Ships is taking place.

None of her sisters were there either. And they weren’t in port anywhere so there must be a lot going on at the Ile de Chausey despite it being obscured by fog and presumably they are all over there right now.

49ade aeroplane pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022While I was here looking at Chausiaise I was overflown yet again.

This time it’s an aeroplane though. From what I can see, her registration number is 49ADE and unfortunately that doesn’t tell us a lot. Her number isn’t in the database to which I can have access so I can’t tell you much about her, except that we haven’t seen her before.

An aeroplane like this won’t have filed a flight plan – it’s certainly not filed at the airfield here – and so I can’t tell you where it’s come from and where it’s going.

cap lihou chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022But right now I’m going to look at the things going on at the chantier naval.

Still the same half a dozen boats – no change there – but the respray on Cap Lihou is proceeding apace. They have done quite a considerable amount of work on her since yesterday and they are well advanced with the new paint job.

There are several people on the sky jack at the rear and judging by the noise that’s coming from down there they are still throwing the paint on.

There’s someone up on the roof of the wheelhouse but it’s not clear to me what he’s doing. It looks as if he’s wearing an aqualung but that can’t be right. For a start, there aren’t any park benches there for him to sit on.

marité festival of working sailing ships port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022Walking further on down the path I reached the point where I could overlook the inner harbour.

Once again, Marité is having a day off and is tied up at the quayside next to the Russian ship Shtandart. But it looks as if the Festival of Working Sailing Ships is now open, judging by the crowds milling around down there.

The marquees are heaving with people this afternoon so there must be some kind of exhibition taking place. I really ought to go down and have a look.

But is that a TV screen of some description over there on the right?

la granvillaise marie fernand graine de sail port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022In the previous photo we couldn’t see La Granvillaise and Marie Fernand. They’ve moved from where they had been tied up.

They are now tied up over there where Spirit of Conrad (currently in Norway) usually moors. La Granvillaise is on the left and in the middle of those three is Marie Fernand.

The boat on the right is much more interesting. She’s a commercial freight-carrying yacht called Graine de Sail and her claim to fame is that she has sailed across the Atlantic with 50 tonnes of freight on a commercial voyage.

It goes without saying that I want to talk to her crew, and for obvious reasons too, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall.

Back here I had a chocolate soya drink and then carried on with my work until a strangely early tea. But nevertheless the curry that I made was one of the best that I have ever made and if I can make more like that I’ll be really happy.

Wednesday 16th March 2022 – AFTER THE OTHER NIGHT’s …

… disaster I remembered to take that pill and decided that I would stay awake and work until I felt really tired.

The wisdom of that idea was quite apparent when it was 02:00 and I was still awake and at the computer.

No-one was more surprised than me to find that at 07:30 when the alarm went off I managed to fall out of bed. Definitely a case of “shaken but not stirred”.

And that became apparent when I came back in here after the medication where, settling down in my comfy chair, I went to sleep again. And that’s how I stayed until 09:00

Part of the morning, once I was properly awake, concerned organising the music again. I had to make a new playlist for one of my batches of music for a start, and then there was some sound files that needed chopping up.

There are dozens of those and the first one proved to be far more difficult than anyone might imagine because after the first 5 tracks, the rest of it doesn’t go in accordance with the running order that I have. In the end after much binding in the marsh, I abandoned that and did three different ones.

That leaves me with about 30 to do. A mere bagatelle.

Something else that I’ve been doing is to run through another pile of photos from th High Arctic in August 2019. And if anyone thinks that they are having problems with prices in the shops these days, then HAVE A LOOK AT THESE in Qikiqtarjuaq, an island in the Davis Strait between the far North of Canada and Greenland.

It’s this kind of thing that makes me glad at times that I don’t live in the High Arctic and I feel sorry for those who do. And my hat goes off to the girl whom I met in Edmonton in 2018 and subsequently on several occasions who threw up her life in Montréal to go and live among the Inuit on Baffin Island

We had the usual interruptions for breakfast (and my coffee machine, while not perfect, is a vast improvement on the old one) and for lunch. I even spent some time having a little sort-out in the kitchen.

But don’t worry – it was only a little one. These new pills aren’t working that well.

As well as that, I sent off an order to Amazon. I need a new course book for the next lot of Welsh lessons, and while I was at it, I ordered a new dictaphone identical to the one that broke down a couple of months ago.

It served me well for a considerable number of years and did exactly what it was supposed to do. Using the ZOOM H1 is too inconvenient when it comes to playing back. Of course I copy it onto the computer to listen to it but it needs a lot of enhancement in order to be able to hear it.

There was also a pause for a shower, and then I wandered off out for my rendezvous with the physiotherapist.

lorry with trailer digger porte st jean Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we have seen quite often one of the main problems that arises when you live in a walled city – big stuff can’t pass through the gateways and has to trns-ship.

We’ve seen on many occasions this lorry (or one very much like it) and its trailer with the digger on board parked up at the Porte St Jean whenever there’s road work to be carried out within the walls

It has to stop here and the driver has to drive the digger off and through into the town under its own steam to get where it’s going and that’s not the work of five minutes either. But there’s no other solution unfortunately – at least, one that’s practical.

fish processing plant port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022You didn’t notice it in the previous photo because I enhanced it but I’ve not enhanced this one, so you’ll notice the rather strange, eerie yellowy-green light.

There’s a dust storm blowing up from the Sahara and it arrived at my friend’s in Munich yesterday late afternoon. But now it’s arrived here and we’re having it. It’s certainly a strange effect.

However, returning to the subject-matter of the photo, the tide is well out at the moment and there are no fishing boats moored up at the Fish Processing Plant.

And there aren’t any ferries at the ferry terminal either. They must be all at sea this afternoon, just like I seem to be these days. But at least they’ll be back sometime soon, which is more that I will.

freight on quayside port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022Meanwhile, down at the loading bay in the port there’s a pile of freight that’s accumulated on the quayside.

That tells us that one of the little Jersey freighters will be coming in within the next day or two to whisk it all away.

And no large masts in the harbour either. That tells us that Marité is still in Cherbourg having her annual check-over ready to start work for the summer season.

By now it was starting to rain – enough to dampen my enthusiasm but not enough to dampen the spirits of the boulonauts who carried on playing. It’ll take more than a torrential downpour to stop them from playing.

renewing road surface abandoned railway line Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022In the town centre we had yet more activity taking place.

That’s the site of the old railway branch (you can still see the rails) that used to go to the cold store where they used to keep the cod that the trawlers brought into port when fishing on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland was still undertaken.

Nowadays it’s a short-cut for pedestrians but at the moment it looks as if they are resurfacing it. I wonder what it will look like when they finish it.

The walk up the hill to the physiotherapists was just as good as it was on Monday. And once more she had me on the couch massaging my patella with her electric machine. And then I had some exercises to do.

But the knee doesn’t seem to be strengthening and the left knee now seems to be hurting. I hope that the doctor can see something on the x-rays about which he can do something.

brick capping rue des juifs Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022With the rain still pouring down, I walked through the completely deserted town centre and back up the hill in the Rue des Juifs towards home.

When I reached the place where they had been repairing the wall, I had a look at the brick capping that they put on top a good few months ago.

There is still no pointing in between the bricks and the moisture that will penetrate will destroy the capping if there’s any frost to freeze it.

Mind you, by the look of things, winter is a thing of the past. As I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … we haven’t had a winter this year, and it doesn’t look as if we’ll have another one ever again at the rate that things are going.

le coelacanthe trawlers port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022By now, the tide is much further in.

A big bunch of the smaller boats with shallow draught is down there at the Fish Processing Plant, all unloading their catch with the various vans and lorries of the owners waiting to take away the harvest.

Behind them, a few of the larger ones are waiting for the gates into the inner harbour to open so that they can go in. We can of course recognise Coelacanthe, the green and white trawler with the gold stripe.

There is even a trawler moored up at the ferry terminal out of everyone else’s way as the rush begins.

beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022With the rain that was falling, I was all ready to rush home. But there was one thing that I needed to do first.

But it didn’t really matter because there was no-one down there on the beach. And that’s no surprise because I wouldn’t have been out there in this weather had I not had to.

Back here I made myself a coffee and then had a listen to the dictaphone.

War had broken out so they were arming the island on which Zero lived with battleships and things like that. My father noticed and made some kind of comment and I replied but I can’t remember what I said but it was basically to do with the fact that we are all in this together. And here’s another voyage in which Zero was involved and I can’t remember how or why. What kind of state is this to be in?

Later on, everyone was getting their stuff out ready to welcome the Ukrainian refugees. One lot that was to come hadn’t come so the people who were waiting to show them their way threw all of their paintwork and the Ukrainian flag into the hedge back on someone else’s land. This caused a lot of problems and they had to prepare the stuff again. It turned out then that someone still had the stuff wrong even though the gates were now open. They were going around in yellow and blue even though they had nothign to do with the situation in the Ukraine.

Finally I was with my brother and someone else. I was supposed to be going outside but it was raining. I took some hot water with me anyway and poured it into the bath but I just lay down and curled up under a blanket or quilt any old how. I wasn’t interested at all in anything. The water was going cold and I was asleep under this quilt. The 2 of them walked past so I gave them a wave and curled up back underneath my blanket again. A little later I was climbing up this hill. There were loads of buses and coaches full of all kinds of children heading down the hill. It looked as if it was like a Sunday School outing or something. I got to where I was supposed to be going. I had some clothes baskets with me. I was going to do someone’s washing. I put down the baskets and the dog moved them so I told it to bring the baskets back. To my surprise, it did. That was quite amusing for both me and the woman who owned the dog when she realised exactly what had happened.

There was much more than this too but you really don’t want to know about it

There was no tea tonight as I had the first of my 5 revision lessons. Instead I grabbed an “unlabelled” frozen pie out of the freezer, defrosted it and warmed it up. To my surprise it turned out to be a vegan lentil pie. There are two more slices of that in the freezer so now that I know what they are I’ll have another tomorrow with potatoes, veg and gravy.

The Welsh lesson was something of a disaster. We were 14 students and the aim was to put us in pairs to chat about topics that the tutor gave us, and then to swap around after 20 minutes. And I’m just dismayed about how much I don’t know and how much I’ve forgotten.

Now i’m off to bed. I have two days with no interruptions so I need to get a move on and hope that no-one interrupts me and I can crack on with work. After last night, I need a good sleep.

If you aren’t tired, you can WATCH THE HIGHLIGHTS of last night’s football. And there was so much that they have cut out half of them, which is a shame.

Thursday 23rd January 2020 – HERE I ALL AM …

… not sitting in a rainbow but sitting in a posh living room in a duplex apartment here in Leuven.

The one thing about being a very regular customer of these apart-hotels is that if there’s a higher-grade accommodation vacant, they give me a free upgrade and I’ve struck lucky this visit.

A lovely big double bed, nice and comfortable. All I need is a nice and sweet young lady to share it with me and I’ll be well away. Ohhh yes – even at my age I can still chase after the women. I just can’t remember why!

The only down side is that I have noisy neighbours who seem to be partying. But I can’t hear a thing because I remembered to bring my really good headphones with me and with Colosseum Live going full-tilt into my ears I can’t hear a thing.

But that album has its downside, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall. Although it’s one of the top five live albums ever recorded, it was the one that was going round and round on an endless loop while I was on The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour in 2018 and 2019.

Of course it immediately brings back all kinds of memories, mostly good but some quite bad and there are people like The Vanilla Queen and Castor and Pollux going through my mind as I listen to it.

Somewhere I read something along the lines of “anyone who spends any time in the High Arctic will come back a different person” and that’s certainly true.

Just for a change, this morning I was up quite smartly and it didn’t take me long to get everything ready for leaving. I’d had a shower last night before going to bed so I didn’t even need to deal with that.

Plenty of time to go a-voyaging too. The first little trip had something to do with the website and about how I’d changed round the radio programmes or something like that so that there was a whole new series of numbers starting on 1st January 2020 on the first January of the year with all kinds of different – there were two different strands of numbering now one of which was the radio concerts and one of which was something else but I can’t remember any more about it now unfortunately
Later on, there was a huge dispute between us over something or other and it led to someone coming storming round to our house going to throw a cup of cold tea over everyone. I had a cup of cold tea ready and he came storming in. I told him to sit down but he said “I’m going to throw this cold tea over you. What are you going to do?” I replied “I’m at my house. I’ll throw a cup of tea over you and you’re the one who is going to have to suffer”. He looked at me for a minute and then said “I can see that you aren’t going to flinch. You are brave enough”. I asked “so how are we going to sort this out?” He said “we need foue elastic bands like this size” and he showed us one of them. Of course I didn’t have any that size so I had to go across the road and ask one of the neighbours. We were in Vine Tree Avenue at the time during all of this.

Back in the Land Of The Living, I finished getting ready. The rubbish went out of course and then I followed it up to town.

bad parking rue lecampion granville manche normandy france eric hallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that bad parking plays a prominent role on these pages.

Hardly a day goes by without me seeing some new depths to which the general public has sunk and here’s another prime example. We’re at the roundabout at the end of the rue Lecampion and this motorist has decided to park his car right across the entry to the new block of flats.

The motorist in the big SUV can’t get his car out of his own car park because of it, and I would have loved to have had the time to hang around and see how this story would unfold.

Alstom Regiolis gare de granville railway station manche normandy france eric hallInstead I headed off to the station and there I was treated to the delight of the train being already at the platform.

No coffee though. Once again the coffee machine is out of order and this is really annoying. How am I expected to go on a journey like this without being armed?

The ticket-stamping machine was having issues too and it took several goes before it would accept my ticket and stamp it.

Bang on time we set off and I fell asleep. A right deep sleep too and it took the ticket collector a good minute or so to awaken me from the dead to check my ticket.

We were 15 minutes late arriving in Paris but it didn’t quite matter so much because, as predicted, out train now arrives in the main station rather than in the vaugirard annex and that saves me a considerable amount of time.

The metro was running too and was quite rapid, so I had a good half-hour to spare before my train to Lille.

That half-hour was spent in a queue at the SNCF office. I’d had an e-mail yesterday telling me that my seat had been changed and I would have to make further enquiries.

inoui tgv reseau 226 gare du nord paris france eric hallEventually I managed to make someone deal with me quickly and, armed with a new seat number, I could take my seat on the train.

It’s one of the older “Reseau” TGV trainsets, number 226 which puts it in the first wave that were delivered between 1995 and 199.

Nice and comfortable they are, and I could sit and eat my butties and fruit in comfort, which is always nice. And have another little doze too. I’m not in any great rush to do anything.

Due to “affluence on the line” our train was 20 minutes late arriving in Lille- Flanders.

With only 15 minutes (and having to cross town to Lille-Europe) between trains, you might think that I would be panicking by now.

But not a bit of it because if there was “affluence on the line” for us, there would be “affluence on the line” for the Marseille – Brussels train that would be folllowing behind us too and that was the one that I was catching.

inoui tgv reseau 38000 gare du midi bruxelles belgique  eric hallSure enough, that one was half an hour late so I had plenty of time to ring up the hospital and check my appointment time. 13:30 it is tomorrow.

The trainset that came for us is a model that we have seen before on a regular basis because it’s this type that does the Paris-Brussels service, The Thalys PBA trainsets, albeit in a different livery.

My place here was quite comfortable too and I even managed to doze off for half an hour or so yet again.

sncb inter city genk gare du midi bruxelles belgique eric hallIn Brussels I only just missed the 15:58 – I had my hand on the door when it pulled away.

But there was another one right behind – the 16:13 to Genk. It’s one of the push me – pull you train sets and coming into the station in reverse so I didn’t get to see the identity of the locomotive pushing it.

So by 16:50 I was in Leuven after a relatively painless, straightforward voyage for once and wasn’t I a happy bunny?.

Having organised my room I went shopping at Delhaize. Tons of stuff for the next few days to keep me out of mischief and I shall have to add “herbs and spices” to the list of things that I bring with me from home. I’ll make up a sachet of oregano, basil, tarragon, garlic, chili powder etc and put it with the coffee.

So tea tonight was a vegan burger with mixed vegetables, spinach and pasta, all tossed in a tomato sauce and it was delicious. Pudding was peach halves with mango sorbet.

The party next door seems to have finished so I can go to bed. Nothing much to do tomorrow morning so I’ll have a lazy day before I head off to the hospital round about 12:30, something like that.

I wonder what they will tell me.

Thursday 31st January 2019 – THE WEATHER …

… was something of a disappointment today.

During the night the skies had clouded over. The temperature had gone up slightly so there was just some surface frost here and there. No snow and no heavy icing.

For a change, I’d had a decent sleep – right out of it all until the alarm went off.

I’d been on my travels too during the night. I’d been in a submarine (which of course is extremely unlikely, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall) and it had been the subject of a depth-charge attack. And all of the loose deck furniture, barrels and cases and chairs and all kinds of things, break free and float to the surface. What surprised me more than anything is that the very thought of all of this makes me break out into a real sweat in real life, yet last night I was quite calm and relaxed about it.
A little later I was joining a crowd of people at the side of a swimming pool, everyone sitting on these white plastic chairs. One of the people sitting there was a girl with whom I would have been pleased to be associated. So I went to sit next to her. She said that she needed to be sitting on the end of the group so that she could go to dance, and were I to sit there I would be preventing her. So I suggested that we swap places but she found another excuse for that.
And so it went on.

The alarm went off as usual, and I was soon out of bed – but not as soon as I would have liked. And after breakfast I had a good shower and clean-up and then hit the streets.

It was cold out there and I found, rather unexpectedly, a patch of solid ice.

cable fibre optique rue des juifs granville manche normandy franceI’ve mentioned the fibre-optic cabling works before.

It seems that now they are digging up the pavement in the rue des Juifs ready to connect up the lower town with our bit up here.

But I had a chat with the guys there and there is still no date announced for when the fibre-optic cabling might become operational.

marite normandy trader port de granville harbour manche normandy franceDown in the harbour Normandy Trader was there next to Marité.

She was loading up ready to leave. A large lorry was down there and I imagine that it had come to deliver a load or two of stuff to take back to Jersey.

One of these days I’ll go down for a chat with them on board.

snow LIDL Avenue Aristide Briand granville manche normandy franceAt the Post Office I posted my letter from the other day and then went off to LIDL.

I’d already slipped on a patch of ice earlier, and here at LIDL there was a load of snow that presumably had fallen off a lorry or a car that had turned into the car park.

At LIDL there was nothing of any interest there so I came home and had a coffee.

And a chat on the internet with someone whom I had met on my little sea voyage in September. That was a pleasant surprise.

After lunch, I did a mega-back-up on the laptop that I’m back to using as a media centre and then started to tidy up in a big way a series of directories that had become all tangled up over the last ever so many years. That was a long and difficult job and it’s another one that will go on for a while.

As well as the session on the bass guitar, I also started the paper-shredding session. Piles of paper here in the European Paper Mountain that is of a sensitive nature, so I’ve promised myself to shred it. I’ll do a few each day until it’s all gone. At least it won’t overfill the paper bin outside.

collapsing sea wall place d'armes granville manche normandy franceIn between all of this, I went for a walk around the headland.

Another part of the path is now closed off due to being unsafe so it’s all becoming quite confused. I’m wondering if my apartment block, over there on the right, will slide into the sea sometime soon.

It wasn’t very pleasant out there though. The wind was howling and the rain was teeming down. it was cold too so when I was walking into the wind it was stinging my face and it was very uncomfortable.

Not having crashed out at all yesterday, I was disappointed to go off with the fairies today. Twice. But only for 10 minutes each time. I suppose that that’s an improvement. Especially following my walk up to LIDL.

Tea was a slice of pie that I found in the freezer, with vegetables and gravy, followed by a rice pudding.

place d'armes rue du nord granville manche normandy franceFor the evening walk, the rain and wind had died down so it wasn’t too bad.

There was a nice ethereal view of the Place d’Armes in the distance, with part of the rue du Nord illuminated by the street light on the corner. The night and the light brings out the best in places like this.

And just for a change, I wasn’t alone tonight. There were a couple of other people out there too.

So I’ll have an early night tonight. Catch up with my beauty sleep and a relaxing day tomorrow.

Tuesday 6th November 2018 – I’M NOT GOING …

… out for my evening walk tonight.

There’s a howling gale blowing outside right now – as strong as any that I’ve experienced since I’ve been living here. Had there been a high tide any time soon I would have gone to inspect the waves hopefully crashing down over the Plat Gousset. But it’s low tide right now so it’s not worth the effort for me to go out.

But never mind. I’ve already had a good couple of walks today.

And during the night too.

I was in the company of some nice young girl on a Saturday night. And taking the girl home she made some kind of remark about how she had to be at the railway station for 07:00 the following morning and how she didn’t know how she was going to do that bearing in mind that I usually refuse to leave my bed at any ungodly hour on a Sunday. I was just on the point of saying that she could stay with me for the night and then I could run her down there, when I realised that that kind of remark could easily be misconstrued. How I meant it was that I’d only have a 5-minute drive straight to the station instead of having to travel across town to pick her up and then back across town to the station, saving me half an hour that I could spend much better in bed. I certainly didn’t mean it in any other way (although I wouldn’t have found the idea unacceptable), but I had to think of a way to express it better so that she wouldn’t misunderstand.
A little later I was back in the Auvergne at Les Guis and I had to go down into St Eloy. The weather was fine up in the hills but down in the town it was snowing quite heavily. I ended up in some kind of meeting room on the first floor of a shop and amongst the people there was a girl who I knew really well. And it was either the Vanilla Queen or another certain girl of my acquaintance who bore a startling resemblance to the former – a startling coincidence of a resemblance about which I have commented to myself on many occasions. She was surprised to see me in view of the weather so I explained that up in the hills things were so much better. And we ended up having a good chat not about anything in particular but more in an effort for me to establish a certain position.

Just for a change just recently I managed to beat the third alarm out of bed and that made me feel a little better. Obviously going to bed at a more respectable (for me, anyway) time is a much better idea.

This morning I had a few things to do and once they were out of the way I had to sit down and fill in a form. I’ve collected most of the information that I need but I’ve no idea how I’m expected to fill in this form. I’ll just sign it, send it back with all of the assorted verifying paperwork to at least show a sign of goodwill and see what happens next.

When I was out at the shops on Saturday I forgot to buy a lettuce, so I nipped into town and the Super-U.

marite normandy trader port de granville harbour manche normandy franceI had a little distraction – or two – down at the harbour.

Marité has now returned to her berth just there, with another smaller sailing ship alongside.

In front of Marité we note the reappearance of Normandy Trader who obviously cam in on the high tide earlier in the morning. There’s a pile of stuff on the quayside and it’s quite probable that will be loaded on board for her homeward journey.

roadstone quarry port de granville harbour manche normandy franceThat’s no all either. As I was looking at the ships, one of the lorries from the quarry turned up with a load of roadstone.

I waited for a while hoping that she would tip but the driver locked up the cab and walked away. It must be his lunchtime or something like that.

But it probably means that very shortly we’ll be having a visit from Neptune or Shetland Trader in early course.

At the Super-U they were rather sad, the lettuces in there I mean, not the people, but better than none. And I took advantage of the situation by buying a couple of packs of the mixed dried fruit that I add to the muesli.

While I was in town I picked up one of the baguette that I like.

bad parking boulevard vaufleury granville manche normandy franceIt was not too warm today but not very windy either. And the sun was out so I took full advantage by going to eat my butties on the wall.

And this would be the kind of thing that I would find very funny, it it wasn’t so pathetic.

One of the themes that I feature quite often here, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, is the sad state of parking round here.

bad parking boulevard vaufleury granville manche normandy franceAnd as for this example of pathetic parking, here in the boulevard Vaufleury right by where I eat my butties, is about as bad as it gets.

I really don’t know what goes through the minds of some people that they can’t be bothered to even make an attempt at parking between the lines on the road.

I mean, it’s not even a BMW or a Volvo is it?

So having been dismayed by the parking, I didn’t stay out there for long. After all, it IS November.

This afternoon I attacked the High Arctic and I’ve made real progress on Day 2. It might even be finished by the weekend if I can keep it up. And then there’s only another 17 days to go. And these will be much more complicated than this one.

fishing boats port de granville harbour manche normandy franceThe afternoon’s walk was around the headland in the beautiful November sunshine.

But there were no ships to admire while I was out there. Only a pile of fishing boats coming in and out of the harbour on the afternoon tide.

Taking advantage of the ideal weather and sunlight conditions, I spent some time taking a pile of photos of the boats as they came in and went out.

omerta port de granville harbour  manche normandy franceThere were quite a few boats tied up at the quayside unloading too.

The name of this particular one took me by surprise. Omerta, which might mean “manhood” in Italian slang, is more generally associated with the name given to the Vow of Silence that is rigorously imposed, with quite often fatal results, on members of the Mafia.

Not the name that you might expect to see on a fishing boat in Granville

bouchots de chausey port de granville harbour manche normandy franceThis particular one, which seems as if it belongs to someone on the Ile de Chausey, was unloading piles of crustaceans and the like onto the trailer attached to the rear of the tractor.

She has quite a massive catch on board. Business must be booming somewhere.

Incidentally, in case you are wondering, which I’m sure that you are, a bouchot mussel is a mussel that has been grown from a string that is attached to a pole submerged in the water. By this method they are more grit-free and barnacle-free than one that has been grown on the sea bed.

Georges-René Le Peley de Pléville granville manche normandy franceAll of the work going on in the harbour was overlooked by our old friend Georges-René Le Peley de Pléville, or Pleville le Pelley.

He was a privateer who sailed initially on a ship, the Françoise du Lac (on which in one engagement he lost a leg), out of Granville, and later rose through the ranks of the French Navy until he became the French Government’s Minister of the Navy

He was appointed a Senator in 1799 and died in 1805 aged 79

Back here, there was a brief moment of repose and then it was tea time. Falafel fried with onions and garlic with pasta and vegetables, with salad dressing and herbs. It was totally delicious too.

With not going out this evening, I can do my outstanding work and then have an early night. If I can keep it up I’ll be in a much better position to keep up with my work.

But I do need to start to take it easy. There’s only so much that I can do.

fishing boats port de granville harbour manche normandy france
Fishing boats entering and leaving the harbour at the Port of Granville

fishing boats port de granville harbour manche normandy france
Fishing boats entering and leaving the harbour at the Port of Granville

fishing boats port de granville harbour manche normandy france
Fishing boats entering and leaving the harbour at the Port of Granville

bouchots de chausey port de granville harbour manche normandy france
Unloading bouchots de Chausey in the harbour at the Port of Granville

<

Saturday 13th October 2018 – WE WENT …

… today to the Ile de Chausey, and if you want to see all of the photos that I took, you need to go to THIS LINK.

josee constant drinking coffee place d'armes granville manche normandy franceBut we started off as we meant to go on, by, just for a change, drinking coffee on the terrace.

Not exactly a terrace, but the footpath that goes along the walls at the end of the car park at the side of the building just here at the Place d’Armes.

It’s certainly a novel way to start off the day and I’ll have to do this more often.

yacht english channel granville manche normandy franceMeanwhile, while I was drinking my coffee I noticed some movement way out to sea in the English Channel.

With my new toy, more of which anon, I took a long-distance photo of it with the intention of cropping and enlarging it in due course.

And sure enough, once I’d done the necessary, I could see that there was a yacht out there next to the marker buoy

But to start with, we are running low on supplies and so our first port of call was the local market. Saturday morning is market day so we toddled off through the wind into town.

Josée bought me a book which was very nice of her. It’s all about making drinks from natural ingredients and I’m sure that once I have time to sit down and read it I’ll have endless hours of fun with it.

And then off to the covered market where we bought some lettuce, tomato, cucumber and the like. And on the way back we went past a place selling vegan biscuits. So a pack of those disappeared into the shopping bag too.

Back here, I had a very pleasant surprise.

Having been totally dismayed by the photos that I took in the High Arctic in Canada and Greenland just now, I’ve bitten the bullet and done what I should have done in the first place and ordered some new lenses for the big Nikon.

When we returned, two of the three had arrived.

There’s a 50mm f1.8 lens, auto-focus of course to replace the old manual focus lens that I had. That’s ideal for low-light work such as for indoor evenings, concerts and sporting events.

But also, in pride of place, a 70-300mm telephoto zoom lns, likewise auto-focus, to replace another elderly and creaking manual-focus telephoto zoom lens that’s been lying around here since the Dawn of Time.

So grabbing the telephoto zoom lens, that disappeared into the camera bag.

While we were making our butties, Liz and Terry turned up. They had decided to accompany us and so we all set out for the ferry terminal.

baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy franceThe sea was quite rough in view of all of the wind but I enjoyed the crossing and I was there playing about with the big new lens. And I do have to say that I’m very impressed, almost as much as with my galvanised steel dustbin.

It does everything that it’s supposed to do, and does it quite well too. Obviously it’s not in the same class as a lens that might cost 10 times the price of course, but it’s good enough for what I want. Have a look at this photo of Mont St Michel, about 15 miles away and judge for yourself.

village les blanvillaises ile de chausey granville manche normandy franceFirst thing that we did was to go and find somewhere to go and have our lunch.

A nice quiet beach seemed to be an ideal place to have our picnic, so we sat down, filled our faces and had a chat.

Although it was quite cool and windy, it was nevertheless very pleasant sitting out there on the sand with a pile of sandwiches.

village les blainvillaises granville manche normandy franceOnce we’d eaten, digested and rested we headed off into the hills, such as they are around here because the highest point on the island is only 31 metres high, to explore the island.

There are two villages here – one round by the landing stage and the other one where we are right now. This is called Les Blainvillaises, and receives its name from the fact that the houses were originally built by people from Blainville on the mainland who came here to explore the local marine resources.

ile de chausey granville manche normandy franceThere are also several other isolated houses, all looking as if they are made of local stone.

The island is well-known for the quality of the local stone and it has been used in the construction of many important buildings on the mainland in the area, including many of the buildings on Mont-St-Michel.

Many of the houses would be empty though at this time of year. There aren’t too many permanent residents, most of the houses here being holiday homes.

ile de chausey granville manche normandy franceIt’s a bit similar to the island of Agistri where I was in October 2013 in that there’s no source of water on the island and it all needs to be shipped in. So conservation of water resources here is quite important.

Naturally, I could solve the problem in a matter of days by installing a rainwater harvesting system there like I had back on my farm in the Auvergne, a system that served me well from the day I arrived until the day I left 9 years later.

ile de chausey granville manche normandy franceApart from the water issues, rubbish and litter are very tightly controlled.

There’s some kind of organisation called the Conservatoire de l’espace littoral et des rivages lacustres – “The Conservation of coastal and lakeside surroundings” – and its aim is to preserve and protect the coast and waterside of France.

It’s taken on the rôle of protecting the southern half of the island and its presence is everywhere, with rubbish bins and notices all over the place.

And quite right too because it’s an area well-worth protecting. There are thousands of tourists who come here every year and the place could quickly deteriorate into a rubbish dump if no-one took any interest in the island.

chateau renault ile de chausey granville manche normandy franceOn the subject of people taking an interest in the island and holiday homes and the like, this building is extremely interesting.

It was originally a fort built round about 1559 to defend the island but subsequently allowed to fall into ruin.

Its potential was however realised by the industrialist Louis Renault, the founder of the Renault car company.

chateau renault granville manche normandy franceHe began to restore the property in the 1920s and subsequently became became his summer residence. And this is how the property remains today, although of course Louis Renault has long-gone.

However his memory linger on on the island. Many people still regard him as one of the main benefactors of the island.

And so does his view, because this is the kind of view that would attract me to a property too. I could pass many a happy holiday here.

fish pool ile de chausey granville manche normandy franceThis construction on the edge of the beach right by the Chateau Renault caught my eye too.

I’m not sure what it is, but I reckon that it’s possibly a tidal swimming pool – one that would fill when the tide came in and would retain its water as the tide went out.

On the other hand it could be a tidal fish pool. These are well-known round here. The tide would fill the pond with water – and hopefully fish – at high tide, and then the owner of the pool could wade in after the tide went out to pull out all the fish.

And the drain at the bottom would lend support to that.

st helier channel islands granville manche normandy franceAlthough these islands here (because there are 365 here at low tide and 52 at high tide) are officially and geographically part of the Channel Islands, they are part of France.

We’re much closer to the Channel Islands than you might think – about 40 kms I reckon at a rough guess – and with the new telephoto zoom lens I could pick out quite easily the town of St Helier.

Although I wish that the weather would have been clearer so as to have given a better contrast.

ile de chausey granville manche normandy franceBut there is some kind of common history between all of the Channel Islands.

They were formerly the personal property of the Dukes of Normandy, hence when William the Conqueror invaded England and became king, he took his islands with him (if you know what I mean).

But his grandfather Richard II had in 1022 made a gift of the Ile de Chausey to the Abbey of Mont St Michel, hence the reason why these islands belong today to France.

cancale brittany franceRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that a good while ago during a period of good light, I was able to photograph a church on the coast right across the bay in Brittany.

Today, with the new lens, I was able to take a photo of the same church from a viewpoint on the island, and was able to take a cross-bearing to verify the position.

And I can say that it is almost certainly the town of Cancale, where I stayed one night in April last year.

ile de chausey granville manche normandy franceWe continued with our tour of the island on foot (as if there was any other way to see the island except on foot), stopping to rest on several occasions to take photos or to admire the beautiful views.

And to enjoy the beautiful weather because considering that it’s the middle of October right now, the weather is really nice for the time of the year. Quite balmy.

And you’ll be surprised just how quickly 3.5 hours disappears when you are having fun and enjoying yourself.

fort plage du port-marie iles de chausey granville manche normandy franceWe’ve seen the old 16th-Century fort that is now incorporated into the Chateau Renault. But there’s also a more modern fort here.

Tensions in Europe were rising and falling during the 19th Century and at one particular moment during the middle of the century, relations between the United Kingdom and France were somewhat tense.

As a result, in the late 1850s a new fort was constructed here at the back of the Plage du Port-Marie on the orders of the Emperor Napoleon III to defend the island and the Baie de Mont St Michel from any incursions by the British.

The fort was completed in 1866 but never saw action, although it was used as a Prisoner-of-War camp in the First World War and was occupied by a German garrison in World War II.

granville manche normandy franceOn the way back, the sea wasn’t quite as rough as on the way out but it was still pleasant all the same.

I took a pile of photos in the fading light and they came out quite well with the new lens. Despite the fact that it’s not as good in low light as a more expensive lens, the results are perfectly satisfactory for what I was expecting.

I really began to regret the fact that I hadn’t gone out and bought this lens before I left for the Arctic

port de granville harbour manche normandy franceGetting back into port was quite the thing though.

We were late returning and that 15 minutes makes all of the difference. The tide was going out rapidly.

The boat had to inch its way in over the sandbar and I was convinced that we were grounding out the bottom of the boat here and there as we tried to get in.

On the way back to the apartment I had a chat with Liz and Terry about something that had been preying on my mind for a few weeks. After explaining the situation to them, their understanding was exactly the same as mine, and exactly the same as Alison’s, with whom I had discussed this a couple of weeks ago.

No-one seems to think that I misunderstood the situation, so that’s comforting to a certain degree. But even so, it doesn’t change the situation one jot because what I (and other people) think about it has nothing to do with the situation at all.

Josée went for a walk around the town in the evening because there was a football match on the internet that I wanted to see.

That might sound terribly chavinistic to some readers of this rubbish, but the bare facts of the story are that I’d done about 130% of my daily activity today, I’d already had a couple of little “health issues” while I’d been out, and I couldn’t go another step. “Feet up on the sofa” was what was called for from my point of view.

So in the Irn Bru Cup we had Connah’s Quay Nomads of the Welsh Premier League v Coleraine of Northern Ireland. Coleraine were by far the more skilful side when it came to moving the ball around but they had no real answer to the uncompromising defence of the Nomads. It seemed to me that the match would be decided from a set piece and so it was – the Nomads centre-half rising highest to a very long throw-in from the right wing.

As Coleraine pushed forward to find an equaliser they were leaving gaps all over the defence and the Nomads were very quick to exploit the breakaway. Twice they burst through the defence with just the keeper to beat, twice they were hauled down from behind with no attempt to reach the ball, and twice the referee reached into his pocket for a red card.

Down to 9 men, Coleraine made three substitutions to freshen up the team but the new players had no more luck. By now though they were becoming rather desperate and some of the tackles and … errr … incidents which they instigated have no place at all on a football pitch.

And towards the end of the game the Nomads brought on their star player, Michael Bakare, who had been rested, and he made the difference – brushing off a couple of weak, tired challenges to set up one of his team-mates for a second goal.

This was a good win for the Nomads – a dour, workmanlike struggle against a superior side and if they can play like that more often they could do much better in European competition than they have done up to now.

So now I’m off to bed. It’s going to be an early start tomorrow as Josée will be back on her travels to wherever her next stop might be.

Monday 8th October 2018 – SO MUCH FOR …

… the alarm this morning!

My telephone decided to do an update during the night and as a result it was waiting for me to restart it this morning. At … errr … 08:15 or thereabouts.

And it also took me until 09:00 to leave the bed either. I was making the most of it.

Just by way of a change though I had ended up with an early night. Flat out at 22:30 and Gone With The Wind in an instant.

And, would you believe, just by way of another change, back in the High Arctic. One might say that it’s all left quite an impression on me, mightn’t one?

Now here’s an exciting thing though. It was the final night of our trip before we were all due to break up in the morning. And just for a change we weren’t on the Good Ship Ve… … errr … Ocean Endeavour but somewhere else completely. And I was sharing a room with someone else, something that regulär readers of this rubbish will recall is highly unlikely indeed. This guy was of the “gung ho, full steam ahead” characteristics and he had changed all of the beds and bedding around in our room. My bed was in a different position, all of this kind of thing, and he had done it all in something of rather a strange way. But anyway, to cut a long story short … "Thank God" – ed … like The Knights Of The Round Table we had all been our separate ways, and we all had to meet up to come back to make our final reports the next morning. We were all sitting down in the lounge relaxing and who should come over to me but The Vanilla Queen. And it WAS her too. Not only did it look like her but she talked exactly in the same way with exactly the same accent that she had. She spoke to me too, which is most unlikely, and I couldn’t quite understand what it was that she was saying. So I arose and went over to her (which I wouldn’t normally have done) and asked her to repeat it. She replied “I don’t think that John Shearing needs to know anything about too much, but I want YOU to do the final debriefing and to tell everyone where we had been and what we were doing and all this kind of thing so that they could bring their notes of their holiday all up to date. I want YOU to do it”.
And to be quite honest, I was so amazed by this discussion that I awoke bolt-upright – 23:58 it was – wide awake, totally astonished. I went and tracked down the dictaphone, even managed to change the batteries in it correctly, and dictated the details so that I wouldn’t forget them.

And that wasn’t all the excitement either.

I’ve no idea who is was with whom I was rambling later on last night but she was certainly female and attractive, and she was driving a small car of the Austin 7 variety. We were having to travel somewhere and in order to do so we had to pass through a mountain range. There were two ways to pass through this range and they bifurcated at a small village. So we stopped in this village to fuel up and she tipped into the tank the contents of a metal can. I thought to myself that there wasn’t enough fuel in the can to take us to our destination and the nearest petrol station was a really good walk away. But to my surprise, where we had parked actually had a fuel pump and some woman there put a couple more gallons into the car. We then set off down the left-hand road at this fork and I thought to myself that this is a far quicker way than trekking though the countryside and little paths that I usually took and I wondered why I didn’t know this road. And we eventually turned up at a mountain pass that we have visited on nocturnal rambles on numerous occasions – usually on skiing trips and the like in the middle of winter.

As an aside, I should perhaps remind my readers (both of you) that I have indeed been asked if I am troubled by my nocturnal voyages and some of the situations in which I find myself.
My response was “definitely not. I actually quite enjoy them.”

After breakfast I loitered around for a while, including a session on the bass (because I’m starting to pic it up again after my voyage) and then set down to do some work.

Tidying up in the living room in fact. I need to make this place look much more like a home and make it clean. After a while I do have to say that it looks a little more like it, although there’s always room for improvement.

Next thing was, having been totally dismayed by the rubbishy photos that came out of my voyage to the High Arctic, I bit the bullet and ordered a couple of new lenses for the big Nikon. How I wish that I had done that a month or so before I had set off, rather than three weeks after I had come home.

And after that, I had a little … errr … relax.

TOTGA was on line later and so we had a little chat and then I went off and made my butties. There I was, sitting on the wall with my butties, my book and a lizard in the sunlight. It wasn’t warm but it was beautiful all the same.

Afterwards, I went off into town. With the possibility of a visitor arriving in early course, I need to know what activities are available. There’s a good Tourist Info place in town so my afternoon walk was down there to collect some leaflets.

Back here, I attacked some more photos but I couldn’t keep going and at about 17:20 I went ant lay down on the bed.

1:20 I was out for. 18:40 I finally came too and was able to carry on with what I had been doing. And that took me up to tea time.

While I had been going through the freezer I came across a pie that was left over from earlier in the year. So that disappeared into my stomach accompanied by some steamed veg cooked in the electric steamer and gravy.

Outside, i went for my evening walk around the headland, totally alone. Not another soul about anywhere although there were a couple of kids with scooters away on the car park.

Later I had another chat with TOTGA, with Liz and with Josée and then a little more work.

Now it’s bedtime and there will be an alarm tomorrow, I hope. Then it’s back to the grind again.

Sunday 7th October 2018 – I’VE BEEN LUCKY …

US St Pairiase ET.S. Du Terregate Et Du Beuvron football stade croissant st pair sur mer manche normandy france… again today with the football.

This afternoon I went to the Stade Croissant at St Pair to watch US St Pairiase play ET.S. Du Terregate Et Du Beuvron in the Manche District League division 2. Cold and windy, but at least it was dry. But there’s a covered stand at the Croissant just in case and it’s as well to be insured.

Despite the poor conditions, this was yet another exciting match. A bit short on skill but plenty of effort and the game rolled from end to end.

The attacks and midfields were about even, but while Terregate’s defence was far better, the St Pairiaise goalkeeper was in inspired form and on one occasion made a superb triple-save from the Terregate attack.

But despite the really good Terregate defending, there was just one occasion when the St Pairaise attack got through and they made it count.

Later on in the final 30 minute the temperature of the match escalated and we had some thumping challenges and a few heated arguments. One St Päiraise defender was dismissed for a late challenge, a decision that I considered to be rather harsh but they still managed to hang on to their lead.

All in all, I’ve had a really exciting weekend at the football.

And on the subject of exciting times, last night wasn’t as good as the previous night or two, which was rather a disappointment. In bed quite late, but awake at 08:00. We aren’t having that – at least on a Sunday, so I turned over and went back to sleep. 09:00 wasn’t much better but that was about me finished for the night so at about 09:45 I arose from the dead.

Despite the brevity of the night’s repose, I’d been on my travels. Back to the High Arctic yet again (this really IS preying on my mind, isn’t it?) and the Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour. We were all on there, saying our goodbyes to each other and slowly dispersing, until in the end I was hovering over the stern of the ship about 50 feet up in the air looking at the last person remaining there. I couldn’t see whether it was or not she who has become famous as The Vanilla Queen, because she kept her head bowed. But the interesting thing about this is not the fact that it might have been The Vanilla Queen, but the fact that even though I was well away in the Arms of Morpheus, the fact that it might have been her was of interest to me.
So tell me why, nocturnal Vanilla Queen
You haunt me, even in my dreams

I’m clearly feeling the strain, aren’t I?
And later, I was away again. In a big Ford SUV type of vehicle, all black except for gold doors, exactly the type of vehicle and the colour scheme that several police forces in North America use. However, although it was me driving it, I wasn’t in it (if that makes sense), my spiritual sense was in another vehicle with my brother (don’t ask me why because I don’t know either) and Darren, Rachel’s husband. They were driving through this North American city that bore more than just a passing resemblance to the Rue de la Loi in Brussels outside the Justus Lipsius building, and I was driving aroud there in the police vehicle. They had tried … well, not to escape, but to plan their route so that it didn’t cross mine, but I managed to intercept them and when they finally saw me from their side window, they did pull up to find out what was going on. I pulled up on the other side of a crossroads, to walk back I suppose, but I didn’t even manage to leave the car before I was wide awake and it had all disappeared.

Having a few things to do today, it was rather late when I sat down to breakfast. And afterwards I had a couple of hours on the laptop sorting out a pile of e-mails from many years ago, looking for e phone number that I was sure that I had been given at one time. It took a while but eventually I came across it.

And then I sorted through a pile of photos that had been accumulating over the past couple of years. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I have started this project on several occasions and run aground each time. But I have to press on.

It’s Sunday, so tea was a vegan pizza.

night port de granville harbour manche normandy franceAnd then I went for a walk around the headland. It’s good to get back into my old habits. Including, I’m sorry to say, a little departure away with the fairies after the football.

There wasn’t anyone else around this evening so I was all on my own.

And so I spent a lot of time overlooking the harbour to see what was going on.

night port de granville harbour manche normandy franceThe answer is “not very much”. The tide isn’t in far enough for the fishing boats.

There’s one of the Ile de Chausey ferries over there on the right, tied up to the illuminated landing stage.

That’s really all there was of note, so after taking a couple of photos I turned round and headed off back home.

It’s Monday tomorrow so back at work and back with an alarm again. So I’m going to have an early night.

Tomorrow I’ll be tidying up because I have heard that on Tuesday I might be having visitors.

Tuesday 2nd October 2018 – AND SO BACK AT CASTLE ANTHRAX …

… and start as you mean to go on.
Our Hero – “I seem to be half an hour early today”
Ann the Receptionist – “no you aren’t. You’re several weeks late!”

As might be expected after all of my sleep yesterday, I found myself wide-awake at 03:15 this morning. And by 03:40 I had given it up as a bad job and was sitting on the bed working.

That had still given me plenty of time to go off on a nocturnal ramble. Back on The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour and back in the High Arctic again, only this time in the company of a couple of my spurious characters and it’s not very often indeed that they ever see the light of … errr … well, you know what I mean. Yes, two people, who shall be known as, say the QC PQ and C, for want of any other name, were out there last night on a voyage and not necessarily doing what they do best either. All in all, it was something of a cosy voyage being out there retracing many of the steps that were traced a couple of weeks ago and in interesting company too.

Yes, I’m feeling all broody again, aren’t I?

I’m not sure whether it’s nostalgia for the voyage, a desire to return to the High Arctic (which is by far and away the most splendid place on earth), an unwillingness to go home or trepidation about my appointment with destiny at Castle Anthrax later this morning tha has got me going like this.

Or maybe I’m just lonely. Mustn’t rule that out either. But as they say in France, it’s better to travel alone than be badly-accompanied. And I wouldn’t have done half of the things that I have done had I had anyone else to think about too.

While there’s a kettle in the hotel room, there isn’t any coffee. And so those little tubes of coffee that I keep in my backpack for emergencies came in very handy here. That was a handy bit of inspiration, that was and no mistake.

It was also a very good job that I was up and about early too, for I would never have been able to sleep through the racket that my neighbour made after he awoke at 04:20.

A shower at 07:00 and a general organisation of myself, and then off to catch the train. Not forgetting that I needed to have my rail ticket for tomorrow printed out. The receptionist here duly obliged.

At the Carrefour in the Gare du Midi I picked up some raisin bread for breakfast and then as there was a Leuven train already in the station I leapt aboard.

And then my leisurely walk to my appointment with doom.

As well as the interaction with the receptionist, I had an interaction with a young nurse.
“Your heartbeat is very fast today” she remarked.
“You lean over me one more time like that” I muttered to myself “and it will beat even faster”.

She had her revenge. She was very rough with the catheter tube.

As a punishment for missing an appointment they kept me waiting for a while before they hooked me up. And once I was hooked up I went off. Out like a light – well, as far as possible as it is to go with people buzzing around me.

And despite what you might think, after all of the good food that I have eaten on my travels, I have LOST 3kgs in weight. I shall have to go back to the Arctic, won’t I?

world war 1 notices leuven belgiumFrom the railway station I trudged my weary way across town towards the hospital.

And ground to a splendid halt in the Grote Markt bu=y the big cathedral.

It’s soon going to be the centenary of the Armistice, and there was a display of notices to the population from the First World War.

world war 1 notices leuven belgiumLeuven was occupied by the Germans in late August 1914 and was a major victim of the German policy of “Frightfulness”.

The town was sacked and then set ablaze. The huge Medieval library and all of its contents dating back to the 6th Century were burnt to ashes.

The population lived under a most repressive Martial Law. Hostages were taken and were shot for the slightest “provocation” by the civilian population.

It was a nightmare time for those who lived here.

At the hospital, they did their tests and gave me the news. As expected, the blood count is down and the protein loss is up. And for the first time, a doctor has admitted that they are concerned about my lack of response to the treatment.

So back in 4 weeks by which time they might have come up with A Cunning Plan.

On the way back I called at Delhaize for some fruit and tomatoes for lunch tomorrow, and then The Loving Hut for more vegan cheese and sausages (and where I was recognised by the cashier). Finally Kruidvat for some gelatine-free sweets.

sncb class 18 locomotive gare de leuven belgiumback at the Leuven railway station, and I didn’t have to wait long for a train back.

It’s one of the Class 18 electric locomotives and is probably about 8 years old, although it doesn’t look it.

She brought me to the Gare Centrale for 18:10. I’d arranged a meal with Alison at The Moon but she was delayed as there was no bus. They are all on strike.

But she arrived soon enough and we had a beautiful vegan and gluten-free meal. And I took the opportunity to discuss with her an incident that had happened to me several weeks ago and had left me feeling totally puzzled. And I wanted a woman’s point of view.

Much to my surprise (because things don’t usually happen like this) she immediately saw my point of view without me even having to prompt her. I was convinced at the time that I had been correct in my understanding, and Alison’s opinion was that, if anything, I had been far more restrained that she would have expected in a similar circumstance.

So I dunno.

tintin rue du midi brussels belgiumWe had a coffee and I showed her my prize photo, and then she took the train back out of town to the railway station near to where she works. During the bus strike, the train is the best solution.

I walked home past the big Tintin mural and had a strange encounter with three guys in the street. I know what they were after but they weren’t quick enough.

Back here I had a chat with Liz on line, and then with Alison who by now had made it safely home. A little crash out and now I’m off to bed.

We had a coffee and I showed her my prize photo, and then she took the train back out of town to the railway station near to where she works. During the bus strike, the train is the best solution.

I walked home and had a strange encounter with three guys in the street. I know what they were after but they weren’t quick enough.

Back here I had a chat with Liz on line, and then with Alison who by now had made it safely home. A little crash out and now I’m off to bed.

It’s been a long day and tomorrow I’m heading home.

I wonder what I’ll find back there.

Tuesday 18th September 2018 – AND SO I WENT …

*************** THE IMAGES ***************

There are over 3,000 of them and due to the deficiencies of the equipment they all need a greater or lesser amount of post-work. And so you won’t get to see them for a while.

You’ll need to wait til I return home and get into my studio and start to go through them. And it will be a long wait. But I’ll keep you informed after I return.
***************

… to bed quite early (and missed all of the excitement too!) and crashed out almost immediately. The record that I was playing Colosseum Live"now THERE’S a surprise" – ed … was still playing when I briefly awoke, so I quickly turned that off and fell back into the Arms of Morpheus.

It didn’t take me long to go off on my travels and a big Hello! to The Vanilla Queen who made her debut. “Vanilla Queen” indeed, living up to her alter ego! The stress is clearly getting to me, that’s for sure.

With having to be up and about so early I was awake at about 04:30. And again at about 05:15. I couldn’t go back to sleep after that and so I Arose from the Dead and started to tidy up and pack.

We’ve now entered Kangerlussuaq, the “Big Fjord” and so I took a few photos. No sunrise today unfortunately and not really all that much else to see. So I toddled off to breakfast where I had a lengthy chat with Dave about Glasgow and GreenocK. Heather came to join us too for a short while.

Afterwards I finished packing my possessions and then I had to wait around for ages to see what was happening.

Before I could check out. We received a USB stick with all of the voyage details thereupon, and I was able to go back upstairs to upload the photos of Strawberry Moose in his kayak.

Eventually we were called down to the zodiacs and were transported to the shore. We passed by Linda, the cruise director, and I’m afraid that I couldn’t resist it. I said to her “I suppose you’ll give me that e-mail address tomorrow”.

I really am wicked! But serve her right.

A fleet of buses was awaiting us – some modern monstrous machines and also a couple of really elderly vehicles, including a Kassböhrer-Setra and, much to my surprise, a DAB-bodied 1984 Leyland bus.

We went past the ruins of Kellyville, an old American radar base and then up the hill to the old American submarine radio base. Long-since dismantled, you could see how tall the antennae must have been by reference to the concrete base and the size of the cable stays. They were massive.

Much to my surprise the diesel generators were still present – a couple of really old straight-eights. I was about to give them a good look-over but before I could do so we were summoned back to the bus.

Back down the hill again and past the cupola for the gun that defended the port installations and the runway for the airstrip at Kangerlussuaq in World War II. In (and out) of the town to look at the Pride and Joy of the urban area – the new bridge that replaced the one that was washed out in an ice-flood in 2012.

We were told of the volume of water that passes through the bridge at the height of the melt-water season and I can’t remember now what our driver said it was but it was certainly impressive. Today we had a floating plaque of ice that was jammed up against the culvert with all of the water passing underneath.

He showed us the site of the old bridge and explained that if we were to dig down in the collapsed morass we would probably be able to recover a digger that was swept away in the confusion.

Up to the top of the mountain on the other side.

There was a beautiful view of Kangerlussuaq from the top, as well as the old radio and radar installations from the Cold War. Some of the equipment is now utilised by the Danes to pick up the data that is transmitted from weather satellites that pass overhead.

And I found some beautiful glacier-polished rock right on top of the mountain. It looked really splendid.

Back down to the airport – the largest in Greenland with the longest runway – another Cold War legacy. Plenty of time to kill before take-off so I went to watch the Air Greenland planes take off. This is the only airport in which the big jets can land so they unload and turn round here and there are endless shuttles of smaller planes that feed the passengers in and out and on and beyond.

I took the opportunity to eat my packed lunch too. Not that it took me all that long. Laszlo and I clearly have different ideas about the size of my appetite.

Still hordes of people congregating around so I spent quite a while chatting to Sherman, Michael, Christopher and Tiffany. They were sharing out the crisps which I thought was quite nice of them.

Eventually we made our way to the departure lounge and I had another stand-off in what laughingly passes as “security”.

“Empty your pockets!” barked a woman with a badge.
“Would you mind saying ‘please’ to me when you address me” I replied.
This led to an extremely warm 5 minutes until she buckled under.

And now our plane is 90 minutes late. isn’t that a surprise? It’s so late that the second plane has in fact arrived first.

I thought that it would be absolutely awful watching the others depart before us, but they sat for half an hour on the tarmac without moving – and then the rood opened, the stairs came out and the pilot descended.

The cynic in me started to work out all kinds of depressing scenarios and in the words of JRR Tolkein “all are dark and unpleasant”.

We were later told a story of what had happened. Apparently some kind of aeroplane had come to some kind of grief on the runway. Our plane couldn’t land and so had flown back to Iqaluit.

But none of this explains why plane 2 had managed to land on the runway, and why another aeroplane from Air Greenland had managed to land. And why they hadn’t grabbed one of the towing dollies that I had seen in action earlier and yanked the plane off the runway.

20-odd years of working in the tourism industry has imbued me with a desperate sense of cynicism that will one day surely be my undoing. However, I am guided by the comment that “a cynic is someone who sees things as they are, not as they are meant to be”.

And seeing the n°2 aeroplane take off before our (earlier) one had landed did nothing to dispel my feelings.

The tour company offered us a meal of sorts. And after much binding in the marsh they managed to rustle up a salad for me. A blind man would have been pleased to see it, I suppose.

But the biggest laugh is yet to come.

After the meal they gave me a bottle of water – unopened and sealed – out or the restaurant so I strode back into the waiting area. And they wouldn’t let me pass with it and we had quite an argument about it.

But behind me were the tour managers with 200 of the identical bottles of water and they passed those into the security area, right enough. And so we had another argument about that too.

In the meantime, the clock in the waiting room had ceased to function. That’s always a handy stand-by when people are feeling the drag of waiting around. They don’t notice the passage of time if the clock isn’t working.

The plane finally arrived at about 20:35 – a good 15 minutes after the “latest update” time and well over 4 hours after its due DEPARTURE time. And in the meantime Sherwin had given us an impromptu concert to pass the time. One suspects that a certain well-filled brown envelope had changed hands at some point. We even had Latonia singing along.

And once the aeroplane had landed, they started up the clock again.

I really must develop a more positive attitude, as I have been saying for quite a while.

Departure time should have been 16:30. We took to the air at 22:15. That was me thoroughly depressed.

What depressed me even more was when I talked to the cabin crew. They told me that there had been a “maintenance issue” and that, together with the associated paperwork, had delayed the take-off

Clearly someone is being … errrr … economical with the truth somewhere.

And I felt really sorry for The Vanilla Queen. She lives in Iqaluit but was having to take the charter flight to Toronto, and then make her way home via Montreal. So where do you think that we stopped for a refuelling break?

Much to my surprise they actually did have a vegan meal on board. And even more surprisingly, it was quite reasonable too, as far as airline meals go.

But that was as good as it got. My good humour that had been slowly disappearing over the last few days – well, the last vestiges have disappeared into the ether now. As Doctor Spooner once famously said, “I feel like a hare with a sore bed”.

I tried to settle down to sleep but no chance of that. I shall have to stay wide-awake with only my good humour to keep me company.

I don’t think.