Tag Archives: jackie schueller

Friday 1st March 2024 – DYDD GWYL DEWI HAPUS …

… to everyone who can understand that.

And a happy St David’s Day to those of you who can’t.

It didn’t occur to me until this morning that I ought to be making a leek and potato soup, or maybe some bara brith or lava bread. It completely slipped my mind until it was far too late to do anything about it.

However, I did remember to prepare a “St David’s Day Special” for the radio featuring nothing but Welsh rock musicians. People like Man and Deke Leonard pumping out the stuff, but also stuff like Kim Simmonds from his heyday with Savoy Brown.

And also The Neutrons, desperate for a female voice for one of their songs on TALES FROM THE BLUES COCOONS, and someone drags in this young dancer who they found in ballet school down the road, Caromay Dixon, who was only 15 at the time but whose voice hypnotised all of us there.

They even WROTE A SONG for her to sing on the album.

But anyway, I digress … "again" – ed

Last night was another late night and I didn’t have much sleep yet again. No football match to keep me awake – I was busy doing other things.

However for a change, it was good night’s sleep and I felt much better for it when the alarm went off. I still didn’t want to drag myself out of bed when the alarm went off, but it couldn’t be helped.

First stop was the blood pressure, and after all this time it seems that this part of the medication is working. Last night’s was 16.3/13.5 but this morning’s was 13.5/7.8, well within the parameters that they sent me at the start.

In the living room I had to track down some medication and then I could fuel myself up.

This morning’s task was to make bread for the weekend – three bread rolls. And even though I did exactly the same as I did last week, the dough didn’t rise today like it had done then.

The only difference was the yeast. Is this cheap yeast no good then? And ought I to be using the more expensive yeast that seemed to work last week? That’s an interesting idea.

My cheese on toast was still nice though so I’m not complaining too much.

While I was at it, I made a large rice pudding again to last me for the next couple of days. I’m becoming quite a fan of those too.

Having had my breakfast I came in here to listen to the dictaphone notes to find out where I’d been during the night and, more importantly, who had come with me. There was a group of us at some kind of athletics meeting last night. We were the ones putting out all of the hurdles etc for the athletes to jump etc. This went on for quite a while and then they announced the winner. I wasn’t paying that much attention but they also said that he’d won the student games and the National Indoor games in the summer. I was very keen to find out who he was so I decided to use the internet so I could look it up. We drifted on from there and were on our way home. Liz – the “other Liz” was with us and I was with Percy Penguin. We came out of High Street in Crewe and walked up Market Street in the pedestrian area. Percy Penguin and I had a very happy air about us as if something important had happened.

we were actually turning into Victoria Street at that moment from Market Street.

Next weekend it will be 15 years since the “other Liz” shuffled off this mortal coil. We served on the same University committees so we often found ourselves travelling together from one end of the country to the other – from Milton Keynes up to Newcastle upon Tyne and then down to Bristol for meetings of the Disabled Students group.

On one occasion, stopping off at Shrewsbury for a meal on our way from Bristol to Newcastle upon Tyne we encountered an old girlfriend of mine from school. On another occasion we came across a Wishbone Ash concert so we hung around for a while until it started.

She came to Brussels as a guest of the Belgian Association and attended a couple of meetings of the North European Students in Cologne with Jackie and me.

After she died I took her daughter to Canada to install her at University there and, leaving STRAWBERRY MOOSE to take care of her, I went off on my EPIC JOURNEY ON THE TRANS LABRADOR HIGHWAY

But anyway, all that was a long time ago.

After breakfast I made a start on finishing off the radio notes but I had another one of those cataleptic-like trances again – sitting for a couple of hours totally unable to function. It was just as if I had switched off. It was really strange.

But at some point I must have gone off to sleep because at some point in the proceedings I was changing the clutch cable in a Ford Sierra – and what a messy job that was having to route it through the bodywork. We ended up with most of the front panelling out of the car to fit it.

Being miles away like this, it took an age to come back into the present world but when I did I hauled myself off into the kitchen to make it look a little more respectable for the cleaner

While she was here I finished off the notes and then began to convert a pile of the music in the queue into an appropriate format to use on the radio. There’s tons of that in the waiting list and it will take an age to convert.

But at least I’ve managed to salvage a couple of albums that had become lost in the technological piles of spaghetti and I’m sure that there will be others hidden in there too.

Tea tonight was salad and chips with some of these nuggets. The air fryer came to the rescue again. I’m nevertheless going to have to look to see if I can make better use of it.

There must be dozens of things that I can be doing with it that I’ve not even explored yet. Cake-making, for example. I have a small cake tin that will fit.

And what else?

But as long as I can remain awake long enough to make them. I’m completely fed up of falling asleep at the drop of a hat. It’s really getting on my nerves.

Our old friend Gotthold Lessing said about some other subject "A man who does not lose his reason over certain things has none to lose" and I’m certainly going to lose my reason over this.

If I had a spleen I would vent it, that’s for sure.

And that reminds me of the doctor in that hospital in Verdun in 2017 who said that he wanted to check my spleen and began to undo my shirt
"I hope that you have good eyesight" I said
"Why’s That?" he asked
"Because my spleen’s in a glass jar on a shelf in a hospital in Montlucon 300 miles away from here"

Friday 8th December 2023 – AFTER THIS MORNING’S …

… efforts I’m totally exhausted. I really don’t know how long I can keep this up .

At least last night when I went to bed I fell asleep quite quickly, judging by the timestamp on the first of the sound-files on the dictaphone.

It was another restless night though and once more I was up and about long before the alarm went off.

After the medication I came back in here and had things to do.

Firstly, there was a bill to pay. That involved writing out a cheque, finding a pre-paid envelope, etc – and that involved some tidying up of my stationery drawers.

Secondly, there was everything that I needed to print off for my demand for intervention from these Autonomy people. Having had the Social Services help me complete it the other week at the Centre de Re-education I now had everything that I needed.

Even down to the A4 manila envelopes. Fed up of trying to squeeze a whole rain-forest of papers into a standard-size envelope, I went berserk on the internet earlier in the week and ordered a packet of 50 envelopes into which I could fit every tree on the planet.

Thirdly, there was another letter that needed writing. This one was rather complicated because rather a lot depends on it, it has to be worded precisely and accurately, and in French too.

After a quick wash I headed out for the bus where I was swamped by a load of young teenagers heading from the High School across the square to the Ecole d’Hotellerie out at the Pointe de la Crête between Granville and St Pair sur Mer.

At St Nicolas I alighted from the bus and first port of call was the Post Office to send off all of my letters.

And there was some good news there too. They see no reason why I can’ open an account there, pay in some money from my Credit Agricole card, have a bank card and then draw cash out of their cash point outside whenever I need it.

Having been stranded for a day or two in Flagstaff in Arizona 20-odd years ago when my bank card was paused for “unusual expenditure” even though I’d told the bank where I was going and what I was doing, I’ve always had a couple of accounts and bank cards on the go “just in case”.

But with not being able to go any more to my bank in the town centre because of the lack of access to the bus back home, I need some way of laying my hands on some cash every now and again, even if it’s only to pay my cleaner for whatever she buys for me at the shops.

At Carrefour I had some luck. I was sure that I’d seen some gas cylinders tucked away somewhere on one of the shelves so I’d taken the empty one with me. Sure enough, they did have them on exchange, although they did cost les yeux de la tête as they say around here.

Imagine that – the highlight of my day is finding a gas cylinder in a shop.

As well as the usual stuff I bought another packet of icing sugar too. I’d had a quick look in my baking box and wasn’t sure if I had enough in stock.

But the cylinder was heavy and walking back for the bus after my coffee I was thoroughly exhausted even before I reached the bus stop.

The climb back up the stairs was another difficult problem that I found it had to solve but once in here and with everything put away I made my coffee and cheese on toast and came back in here.

Fighting off waves of sleep (quite unsuccessfully at times) I transcribed the notes from the dictaphone from last night. And “hello” to Nerina who put in an appearance last night. We I had been living together and for the first time for a considerable period I went through and carried out an inventory of the food that was on hand. I discovered to my surprise that we had almost next-to-nothing. When she came home from work I told her about the situation and that we’d have to be very careful about what we would do and what we would eat over the next few weeks but she went down to the kitchen and pulled out a box that was full of vegetables that I hadn’t seen before. I don’t know how I’d come to miss it. I was busy there examining the contents thinking about exciting things to make with it when she pushed two straws into a navet"turnip" – ed. I thought “why has she done this? What is this going to be used for now?”.

I was in Scotland last night as well. I came across a family who had a couple of girls aged probably just in double figures, I suppose. They’d moved into a big new house and invited me to see it. It really was lovely, a quite modern 1960s-type split-level house, all square with flat roofs. The younger girl told me that they’d been living with the Scots in Glasgow prior to this. She was telling me all about her house and that didn’t seem to be quite bad afterwards. The subject of preparing the older girl for boarding school came up. She had to go to pack her things. I asked her if she needed help because I wasn’t actually doing anything at this time. She said “yes” so I answered “first of all, is there anything that you DON’T want me to touch?”. She replied “yes, my sister’s notebook”. That sounded like a strange request to me, why that would be the most important thing not to touch. I went down a corridor and through a maze of rooms, including the younger girl’s bedroom into the older one’s. It was huge. There was a lot of stuff lying around. She picked up an object and asked me what I thought it was. I replied that it was a bed cover. She began to fold it up so I found some similar ones lying around and folded them up too. She had some kind of plant like bamboo or something. It had obviously seen much better days. She said that it was 3 years old but she kept it because it was very nice and made an interesting shape. We carried on tidying up her room and putting aside the things that she was taking to boarding school.

These two girls actually had a history. The family reminded me very much of a woman and two girls whom I met at that Folk Festival in Scotland where I used to be the camp site Night Security Guard for a couple of years. That was where Louise, with whom I’m still in contact, had her first encounter with STRAWBERRY MOOSE

I was in that freight yard again, on the lowest level when the girls came past on the highest levels on a railway locomotive pulling a couple of lime-green coaches piped with yellow. And then we had exactly the same conversation that we’d had in the previous version of it. And if you’re wondering why that seems to make no sense whatsoever, don’t worry. You aren’t alone because I don’t understand it either

There was something about several files relating to a Paul Temple mystery that I had on my laptop or whatever that I’d transferred onto my watch. One of them was something to do with him him being in a cloak like a superhero so I had ideas about renaming all of them. However that was when I awoke with a severe attack of cramp so I can’t remember now where it went after that

And then I was with a girl from school last night. I can’t remember who she was but she lived out Audlem way, Buerton somewhere on the way to Newcastle under Lyme. I was wearing old clothes because I’d been doing some work. I’d ended up in that village where I met her, and we were chatting. We’d encountered a couple of yokels who had an old recoil-starter type of electric generator that you could carry around in one hand and would power a radio. They’d rigged up some kind of 1930s-type of valve radio and were trying to start this generator to power it. After they’d been playing with it for about 10 minutes I went to look as they wandered off. I could smell straight away that the petrol was probably 20 years old. I drained out the petrol, cleaned the carburettor, put fresh petrol in and fired it up. It ran, and we had the radio playing so I took it over to them. We carried on chatting. We were pointing out a Tudor house in this village that had been left to ruin, how the roof had sagged etc. Then the girl came back. We went into her house to continue to chat, just the 2 of us. All of her family was there except her mother and father. I was just sitting there, quietly listening to them talking, feeling very uncomfortable being in working clothes. When her mother came back they began to talk about knitting. The girl had been spending a lot of tie knitting just recently and just had one line to finish off on a cardigan that she’d made. One of the others in the house said that they’d finish it off in exchange for her doing something else which seemed to be a good idea for her. But time was dragging on and I was wondering how I was going to be able to leave but of course I was quite interested in this girl too. After a couple of minutes she looked at me and said “should we go?”. I thought “yes, we’ll go if she wants” but then I was going to have to think about what would happen. Obviously I would want to spend the evening with her, doing something exciting, going for a meal, going to the pub, going for a walk, but not in the clothes that I was wearing. I was stuck in a quandary yet again – how was I going to organise going home, changing my clothes and generally tidying myself up etc while I had the girl with me. But a bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush, she was there, she wanted to go so why would I argue with that?

Not that that would ever have stopped me in the past. No-one has had more experience than me for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

There was also a dream at one point about I’d been walking and had come to a set of stairs, up which I just walked normally without having to cling on. I was so surprised that I went to find another set of stairs and walked up there normally too without hanging on to the handrail. I thought “if only I’d realised yesterday that I could do that”. That was of course quite obviously a dream and I wish that that had happened when I encountered the stairs on the way back to the apartment here after my shopping trip.

After I’d transcribed all of that I attacked the radio programme and finished off the notes for that ready for typing tomorrow night.

With the time left I carried on with the Canada 2022 photos. We’ve climbed out of the St Lawrence valley, over the Appalachians via the Matapedia Pass and we’ve now just rattled into Campbelltown Railway Station on the banks of the Baie des Chaleurs.

Jackie and I had a chat on the internet too. She’s actually quite worried about me, as are many people, so it seems. But there’s really no need to worry. I know what my fate is and I’m quite resigned to it and comfortable with the idea. I’m not worrying about it and there’ no reason for anyone else to either

Right at the beginning I was told that this illness has a lifespan of between 5 and 11 years and how long I keep going depends on how long my heart can keep on going, which is why there’s now all this concern about my cardiac issues. It’s now over 8 years so I’m “well in” and one day it will catch up with me.

Tea tonight was a burger on a bap with chips and salad – really delicious too.

For the rest of the evening I won’t be doing too much. Everything seems to be wearing me out so I’ll sit with my feet up.

Tomorrow I’ll be marzipanning my cake. Liz reckons that I should leave the marzipan to set for a while so that it doesn’t bleed through the icing and I seem to remember that I had that problem last time I made a Christmas cake.

Something else that I’ll be doing is to track down some recipes for vegan stuffing. I can’t have Christmas dinner without sprouts, roast potatoes and stuffing now, can I? I shall have to throw something together.

With not being able to buy my Seitan slices these days (I used to buy them at the Asian wholesalers in Leuven) I’m not sure what I’m going to have for a main course. I’ll probably have to throw something together there too.

Sunday 3rd December 2023 – IF MY CHRISTMAS …

… cake tastes as nice as did the bits that bubbled over the top of the cake tin onto the base of the oven, I shall be extremely pleased. It was phenomenal!

And yes, Liz, “bubbled over”.

Trying to bake a cake with no self-raising flour or eggs and just using sodium bicarbonate and red wine vinegar to produce a chemical reaction is very much a hit-and-miss process.

The last time I tried, when I made my bread-and-butter pudding, it exploded in my face, presumably because it was insufficiently cooled and mixed before I added the vinegar, but today it went perfectly and I was so impressed

But I was also so tired too.

Not that a really late night had much to do with it, but the fact that all through the night I had the Return Of The Stabbing Pain.

It defies my understanding, all this that goes on with my body. I’ve mentioned in the past … "and on many occasions too" – ed … the fact that at times during the night there’s a stabbing pain in my right foot as if someone is pushing a hatpin into the sole of my foot, and last night it occurred probably almost every 5 minutes

It went on for ages too and when I finally brought myself into the Land of the Living today at about 11:40, it was still going on.

After I’d had the medication I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. A group of resistance fighters of undercover British soldiers had been parachuted into the Occupied Territories to attack the headquarters of a German General. One of the people who worked in that office was a member of the Allied resistance and had been feeding them information. What they did was to make sure that this person made good her escape. Then they walked in and hauled a hand grenade through the door into the other office where the German General would normally work. The hand grenade exploded and there was a cry of agony from in there so they dashed inside. The General’s secretary was there. She’d been very badly injured by the bomb. She staggered out of the room into the office and saw that the office was empty save for these British soldiers. Her first thought was “where’s Madame So-and-so?”. It quickly became clear to her what had happened but no-one in the party of Allied soldiers had the courage to finish her off. 5 minutes later the German General came back in his car with a load of companions who’d been out somewhere. They stepped right into the middle of this carnage, rounded up the soldiers easily and led them away to be shot. During the whole of this dream the British soldiers made absolutely no effort whatever to resist capture and no effort whatever to try to escape or evade.

Several young children, both boys and girls, who had been dancing had come together under the tutelage of a well-known ballerina and were planning to put on a concert. It was called “The Icepedia of Madame Clifford”. She was busily arranging them into groups and teams etc, choreographing dances etc. These children were due to start any day now having their formal tuition in whatever this Madame Clifford wanted to do but just as they began, I awoke.

Later on, a group of 4 or us, 3 girls and me, had been away for a while on a kind-of touring holiday or road trip. As usual there was one girl whom I particularly liked but she was far too busy being friendly with the other 2 girls than she was spending any time alone with me, which was rather disappointing. When we reached the end of our journey there was some kind of issue or confrontation. The girl whom I liked ended up having lost her clothes so she was there basically with all that she had on. I noticed that she was wandering off to the car of one of the other girls so I went over to ask her if she was going to borrow some clothes from her. She replied “no” so I wondered if there was anything that I could do for her or to help her, give her a lift somewhere as she had no clothes, no money etc but she assured me that she’d be OK. I couldn’t actually see how but she was quite adamant. In the end I could hear the 3 girls making up some other kind of plans to meet somewhere on the way home. I felt rather annoyed that I was being left out of everything but I didn’t say anything. I got into my car, and then realised that I was going to be rather short of money for going home. Someone passing by pointed out that one of my tyres had a slow puncture so I wondered how I’d manage to resolve that too. Then the girl pulled up in her car alongside me so I began to talk to her. I had it in my mind to say that I was jealous of the fact that she spent more time with the others than she had with me etc but for some reason I just could not push the words out of my head and out of my mouth to say them. It ended up really unsatisfactory from my point of view. Then the other 2 girls turned up and talked about meeting somewhere in Munich or wherever. I realised that my timetable was going to be really tight and I couldn’t even make it if I was invited. I wondered how these girls were going to do it too. It turned out that they were going to be flying so where was the one with no clothes and no money going to find the money for that? I set off anyway, disappointedly and came to a road junction where there was a car waiting. I waited behind it but it didn’t move. I suddenly realised thet there was no driver in it so I pulled around it, checked that the road junction was clear and began to drive away.

A disabled boy with whom I used to work appeared in a dream somewhere and we talked about my illness. I told him that I had a lot of appointments unofficially registered on 22nd October and I was going to go to the hospital to talk to a few people about how things were going on. We’d been parked in Shavington outside the small parade of shops talking, then he pulled out of the parade without looking and nearly hit another car that was coming our way. Luckily he managed to stop in time but the car carried on driving. We ended up following it for a while then both it and we turned into Chestnut Avenue and began to go down the hill. He’d completely lost the thread of what he’d been saying and told me that that was a problem when his concentration was disturbed. He lost track of just about everything.

And then I was with Alison, Hans and Jackie. We were in Germany somewhere going for a meal. We all piled into one of the cars and someone drove to this restaurant out in the countryside. We went in and the restaurant was actually up some stairs but I struggled up. We eventually managed to find a place to sit. We had quite a good time talking about all kinds of different things. When the bill came mine was €30:06. While I was sorting out my money everyone disappeared. I heard them downstairs. Someone was saying something to Jackie about “shall I run you to the station now?”. That took me by surprise because I understood that we would all be staying together for the weekend. I went downstairs and to my surprise I walked down the stairs without my crutches. We were all milling around in the cloakroom gathering our clothes together. Hans told a joke that made everyone laugh. he said “that was one of Eric’s”. We collected all our coats and set off outside. It was pouring down with rain. Hans made a remark about how lucky we were that we had hats with us. He would be soaked to death walking to the car.

A group of us from the radio had gone to watch Man play in Brussels. The auditorium was packed but I managed to find a little place at the side of one of the mixing tables to put the ZOOM H1 so that it would record the sounds of the group. I wandered off to do something but when I came back there was a family sitting around this table so I went up to tell them that they needed to be very quiet because there was a live microphone recording taking place. They apologised and said that they hadn’t known that it was my seat. They stood up and left. Taking advantage of the empty seat I sat down. I suddenly realised that I hadn’t brought any spare batteries for the Zoom. it it goes flat I’ll be having a real problem. I switched off the machine while the preliminaries were taking place but just them all of the musicians came onstage. I had to switch it on again hurriedly. I’d done it so quickly that I wasn’t sure whether it was on or off. I had the feeling that this was turning into another complete mess. After the first couple of numbers I was chatting to one of the guys from the radio. I told him that if we have issues about space there are only two numbers that are absolutely essential in the recording. I told him of one but I couldn’t remember the name of the second. At that point the dictaphone began to go flat so I gathered up my things and left. After I’d been walking home after 10 minutes I realised first of all that I still had the elastic strap around my ankles and secondly, I didn’t have my crutches. I walked past the street fair and the place where people left food out for the live slugs and fish. I came to a set of steps but I thought that I better hadn’t push my luck too much with these steps without my crutches. I walked the long way round and headed home. I remember thinking that I hope that everything would be fine from now on because if I lose my crutches that’s really the end of everything. I’ve no idea what I’d do then. That was the thought that was worrying me for the rest of the way home.

Something like that actually did happen to me once while I was recording an outside broadcast. The batteries in the ZOOM H8 went flat and the spare batteries were just as dead.

Of course, I haven’t done any outside broadcasts since last Summer before I went to Canada, and for obvious reasons too.

Another reason why I’m exhausted, and probably the most relevant one, is that I’ve been on my feet all afternoon. So much so that my back, my thighs and the muscles in my calves are aching in places where I didn’t even know that I had places.

Firstly, I prepared the mix for the next batch of biscuits. Fresh ginger, fleur d’orange and ground almonds together with the usual spices

And anyone who has been following these pages for any length of time won’t need to be told about what happened just as I was up to my elbows in flour and vegan margarine. For the benefit of new readers, the telephone rang.

There was no other option but to answer it. It was my neighbour, the President of the Residents’ Committee, wanting to know how I was and what happened on Friday so I cleaned myself up and had a good, lengthy chat with her.

She was the one who tipped me the wink about the apartment downstairs. At one of the residents’ meetings the owner of the apartment just happened to mention quite casually that he was thinking about selling up.

She told me and the owner and I had negotiated a price, agreed a deal and I’d paid the deposit to purchase all before he’d even had time to consult an estate agent.

All I have to do now is to wait for the lease to end and the tenant leaves the property, and then I won’t have all these stairs to climb and I can install a proper kitchen and shower. And, it goes without saying, find a cat to adopt me

Of course, the tenant can always leave before the lease expires. “Negotiations are proceeding”.

Next step was to make my Christmas pudding. That was quite straightforward and it was all placed in the steaming container that I’d greased and lined with baking paper. Three hours of steaming in a bain marie to cook it, and seeing as I didn’t have one, I had to invent something.

But that’s now steamed and it’s currently cooling down before I open it to see how it’s looking. And I hope that it works.

Then there was the Christmas cake. That really took some mixing too but I do have to admit that my soaked fruit looked and smelt delicious. Anyway, it all went together, thanks to everything that I’d bought from LeClerc and fitted quite nicely into my moule à charnière.

You’ve no idea how difficult it is to find proper cake tins here in France so when LeClerc had brought in a pile of stuff for a baking sale a couple of years ago I bought two – a large one and a small one that fits into an air fryer.

Yes, I have a cunning plan about that.

Earlier on I’d taken out of the freezer the last of the pizza dough, and while the cake was baking I was busy defrosting and then assembling my pizza.

When I was satisfied that the cake was baked properly I put the pizza in to bake and while it was baking I rolled out the biscuit dough and cut out the biscuits.

Once the pizza was cooked I put the biscuits in the oven and while they were baking I ate the pizza.

So now I have a Christmas Cake, a Christmas pudding, 40 ginger and orange biscuits and a partridge in a pear tree and I’m totally exhausted. I really am.

What I should have done today is to edit a radio programme but I’ve not had time as yet and right now I don’t have the energy to even move. I’ll have a hot drink and then go to bed.

But while I was making my hot drink the phone rang yet again. For several years in the early 1970s I had a girlfriend whom I knew from school. However we ended up going our separate ways, as you do when you’re that kind of age.

In 2006 Liz (not “this” Liz but “that” Liz”) and I were on our way from a meeting of the Disabled Students Group in Bristol (Liz was in charge of Student Support and I was on the Disability Committee) to a University Region 9 Meeting in Newcastle upon Tyne.

We stopped off at a pub in between Shrewsbury and Oswestry for a meal, and who should walk in?

Quite honestly, you could have put her in her school uniform and she would have been exactly as I remembered her – not a single day older.

Since then, we’ve kept in some kind of desultory touch.

So now that I’ve had my hot drink I’m going to go to bed. A good sleep will do me good, as long as I don’t have the person with the hatpin again.

Monday 13th November 2023 – ONE THING THAT …

… can actually be said for today was that no-one came along to interrupt me. And it’s not every day that that happens.

Not that it made a great deal of difference because for about an hour at some point during the morning I was off in the Arms of Morpheus.

What I blame it on was another bad night. Not that there was all that much going on during the hours of darkness but I was awake for quite some time – unable to go back to sleep once I awoke.

And that happened a couple of times too.

It was another slow start to the day, characterised by the length of time that it took to actually find my feet. I beat the second alarm of course, but it didn’t feel like it all that much.

After the medication and checking my mails I had a listen to the dictaphone. At one point I awoke in the middle of the night and found myself saying “on the dream in the the” a few times, one after the other and I can’t think what on earth it was that I was supposed to be saying or doing, or why.

Later on we were in the north-east of Manchester for a football match between Rochdale and Oldham Athletic. There was something that happened on a street corner somewhere which ended up with a young girl being pushed or falling under the wheels of a vehicle passing by on the road and was killed. I can’t remember any more about why she was there or what she was doing

And then I’d been doing some kind of course where every week I’d receive some kind of loose-leaf notes to put into a binder. Being my usual self I’d not filed them away in the binder for several weeks. Now I had them all confused and mixed up. To my surprise there was no indication on each of the pages to exactly which week it belongs so apart from the font which was different on one or two examples there was really no way of being able to sort the pages back out into the correct order. I did have a look to see if there were any printers’ codes at the foot of the documents on each page but that didn’t seem to be of any particular help either so I was sitting there scratching my head wondering what I was going to do about it.

At another point I went round visiting someone on the Coleridge Way estate in Crewe – a woman but not Nerina. We’d been discussing some things that had been going on at night school where we attended. For some reason things were running really early so I thought that I’d go for a walk. I ended up losing my way. I left the estate a long time ago and was roaming around on top of a moor with these old, tiny Victorian semi-detached houses. I went down one street which was a cul-de-sac to the end where there was a garage. I went in and there were all kinds of books, CDs and DVDs there. I picked up an armful and began to leave. I kept on dropping them and to my surprise I could actually kneel down on one knee, pick them up and stand up again. While I was looking around for a carrier bag or something in which to put them the guy came back. I recognised him from night school so I said “those books and things about which you told me, I’ve come to pick them up”. I could see the look of bewilderment on his face but I stood there and brazened it out. he made a few remarks but I didn’t pay much attention. After I’d said hello to his wife and sister or someone I set off, only to find that I was even more lost than I was before I’d come across this house. I didn’t know where I was or how I was going to go down to this housing estate. It seemed as if I’d been gone for hours and it was going dark now.

And finally I was in Chester preparing to go to night school but I didn’t feel like it. No-one else whom I knew was planning to go. Instead I went for a wander and ended up walking down a huge corridor going through these gym classrooms etc. When I reached one particular window there was a group of people looking outside. There was a golf course and quite a few people had set up their tents around the tees. The wind was so strong that some of them were being blown away. I explained to a girl there that everything is possible in Saudi Arabia these days. These people have tents with remote controls. Every time that they move onto the next hole they press a button and their tent follows them. Someone burst out laughing. It was the guy with her who happened to be the guy who was also going to night school who had given me those books and DVDs etc for Cécile to which I’d helped myself the other day. He asked about them and I said that they were still in my car. I hadn’t seen her yet. I explained to the girl about the situation. He produced another book that he said that I’d forgotten. I said that I’d add it to the rest of the stuff.

That part of the dream reminded me of the time that Beebee Daniels told me that Ben Lyon, her husband, used to always take her with him when he went to play golf. When asked why she replied “whenever he hit his ball into a bunker I would have to make camp”.

But the bit about the remote control reminded me of a story that I once told IN TROIS RIVIÈRES IN QUÉBÉC when someone asked me to explain the lack of success of Manchester United after Alex Ferguson left. I explained that at Old Trafford the goals were on wheels and when Ferguson retired he took the remote control with him.

But as Kenneth Williams and Alfred Hitchcock once famously remarked, “it’s a waste of time telling jokes to foreigners”

Of course, I won’t ever forget the story that I told to that American tourist information officer at Fort Ticonderoga when STRAWBERRY MOOSE and I worked our way up the Hudson Valley all those years ago visiting all the sites of the Seven Years War and the Revolutionary War.

I told him about the time that Hawkeye and Chingachgook were around there on a spying expedition for the British
How many soldiers do you see in the fort?" asked Hawkeye.
Chingachgook lay down and put his ear to the ground. About 300" he replied
And how many cannon?"
Chingachgook lay down and put his ear to the ground again. About 30"
And how many horses?"
Chingachgook lay down and put his ear to the ground yet again. About 60"
And how many native allies?"
Chingachgook lay down and put his ear to the ground once more. About 200"
That’s incredible" said Hawkeye. Can you tell all that by just lying down and listening to the ground?"
Ohh no" replied Chingachgook. If I lie down here like this and turn my head so that my ear is to the ground just like this, I can see right underneath the gates of the fort"

When I finished my little story the Tourist Officer looked at me. "Do you know? That’s astonishing. I never ever knew that Hawkeye and Chingachgook came to Ticonderoga. I’ll remember that story and add it in to the next revision of our guide."

Regular readers of this rubbish from our University Days will recall the astonishing story of Colin Lusk and his “Understanding Irony” course that he marketed in the USA.

There have been a few chats on line today. Liz and I had a good chat about molasses, golden syrup and treacle. And Jackie sent me some moral support from Köln.

People have often asked why I don’t send much moral support to people and the answer is, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, that “moral” is not a word that is usually associated with any support that I would ever send anyone.

So, what work have I been up to today?

Firstly, I had to make some garlic butter seeing as I have now run out. And I’ll tell you something for nothing – and that is that if I put some of this on my garlic bread, I won’t have to worry about werewolves and vampires coming to visit me.

And then, having finished writing my notes about my voyage to Canada last year, I’ve made a start on editing the photos. And when they are finished I’ll add them in. Right now I’m struggling up the Matapedia Valley away from the St Lawrence and going over the Alleghenies to the Baie des Chaleurs.

There aren’t all that many photos as there usually are – certainly nothing at all like the 6,000 photos that I took in my four months in the High Arctic in 2019 and which I still haven’t finished editing – and for several reasons really.

The first is that I was struggling to stand upright and some of the photos are extremely blurred accordingly because I didn’t have the strength to hold the camera steady

And secondly, For the greater part of the time I was far too ill to go out anywhere.

In between everything I made a start on writing the notes for the next series of radio programmes and I’m now about a third of the way through it. It won’t be finished tomorrow because apart from having my Welsh lesson and my visit to the Centre de Re-education, I have a appointment with these people from these Autonomy people so I need to prepare some paperwork.

Tea tonight was a stuffed pepper with pasta and veg. And having prepared the stuffing as I usually do, there wasn’t enough as there usually is. I think that I might have forgotten an ingredient but I can’t for the life of me think what it might be.

Having finished my notes I might even have an early night ready for tomorrow. And hope that I can make the most of it.

But what with them coming to talk to me and the ergotherapist coming to visit me, things are moving rapidly. I only wish that I was.

Friday 15th September 2023 – AS BARRY HAY …

… once famously said, "there’s just one thing – IT’S GOOD TO BE BACK HOME".

And you’ve no idea the size of the sigh of relief that escaped from my lips when I collapsed into my chair here in my office.

Hardly surprising since I’ve been on the road since 05:20 this morning. That was when my alarm went off and I was already packed and dressed. It didn’t take too long to load up the car and then hit the road.

Alison dropped me off at the Kortenberg railway station and it took me a while to work out how to reach the platform. It’s not like a conventional station and things take some hunting down.

nevertheless I was soon on the platform and in time for the 06:28 to Brussels. And it was just as well that I chose that train because these are low-line commuter units where the floor is level with the platform, not like the urban express double-deckers where there’s a climb up into the carriage that I can no longer accomplish.

The rain pulled in bang on time so I had about 75 minutes to wait.

However, what I’d learnt so far today was that the 65 minutes to traverse Paris isn’t going to be enough. I need to think of another plan.

At the booking office they wouldn’t let me change my ticket, but up on the platform, speaking to the train manager I had better luck and she let me hop aboard one of the casual seats at the back of the bar, which I thought was very nice of her.

And it was just as well too because with the renovations taking place at the Gare du Nord they have moved the taxi rank from just outside the door and now it’s a real marathon trek to the rank. I really was finished long before I reached it.

As luck would have it, the taxi marshal waved me to the front of the queue and I had a really nice and chatty lady driver who drove me to Montparnasse.

There was 33 minutes to wait for the departure of my train so it was just as well that I’d caught the earlier train. I was able to grab a cup of coffee which was also just as well – that’s all that I had to eat or drink on the journey because I’d forgotten my bottle of ginger beer in Alison’s fridge.

The train was packed and we were crammed in like sardines. I managed a brief five minutes of … errr … relaxing, but that was all.

It was on time pulling into the station and I was lucky in that I only had to wait two minutes for the bus to the town centre. And from there I had a horrible, miserable walk to the bus stop at the port for my bus up here.

There’s no kerb there and the buses don’t kneel down very much so climbing in was a real effort. And then climbing up the stairs to here, I just couldn’t do it. In the end I had to take off my backpack and drag it on the floor behind me. I am not ever going to do this journey again.

Back here when I finally arrived I made myself an ice-cold drink and came in here where I crashed out on the chair and that was really that.

Tea tonight was sausage chips and beans (I’ll end up looking like a sausage after this week) and then we had football on the internet – Colwyn Bay v Aberystwyth.

The match was a real bottom-of-the-table shocker that Colwyn Bay won 3-1, and I have to be honest and say that they won’t ever have a victory as easy as that again. After only 40 minutes the commentator said “Mae Aberystwyth yn siomedig” – Aberystwyth are disappointing – and that was aun understatement.

One bright spark for Aberystwyth was that at half-time they brought on a left-back called Akeem Hinds. I hadn’t seen him before. He certainly livened up the team with some good interceptions and some beautiful crosses into the penalty area.

What with Colwyn Bay’s Nigerian forward Udoyen Akpan who has come to the club from Cyprus, here are two players on whom I shall be keeping a very close eye.

Mind you, I said the same about Okera Simmonds who played for Y Fflint last season, and he disappeared without trace. I must be the Kiss of Death.

Surprisingly, despite the short night there were tons of stuff on the dictaphone. I don’t know what was happening here but I was pulling nails and plastic skewers out of my foot. I took one out and it didn’t ‘arf hurt. I just wondered whether that was symbolic of the pains that I’m having in my feet or something at the moment.

The next thing was that the alarm went off so I trued to turn off the dictaphone and tried to turn off a couple of other things. I suddenly realised that it was the phone. I fell out of bed and crawled across the floor to turn off the phone. For some reason my brother wouldn’t leave the bed so the girl with me was wondering what on earth was the matter with him. Suddenly I looked at my watch and saw that it was 01:27. I’d awoken and actually dreamed of the alarm going off.

I was with my mother and brother. We pulled into Paris. We left the train and walked outside the station ready to walk across Paris to the next railway station. There were kids on bikes and scooters having fun in one of the squares. My mother said something like “we need to be careful around here because of all these kids” but they looked fairly harmless to me. For some eason we became separated. My mother and brother went off down one street and I went off down the other. I was sure that I was correct. This road took me to the top of a hill where I could see right over Paris. It looked miles away but the way my mother was going was even further away. I shouted for my mother but couldn’t hear anything so I carried on walking by myself in a field. I shouted again and this time she answered. The fence was quite high and I couldn’t climb it so I had to walk back to where the fence was low and then climb up a bank to go over the top. As I climbed up the bank the top kept falling down and I kept sliding down to the bottom again. This happened several times. In the end there was a vehicle, some kind of army lorry buried in the bank. Suddenly it gave a lurch and rolled over, throwing me onto the floor near where my mother and brother were . They said “quickly, grab that guy …” and mentioned someone’s name “… and he’ll take us”. But I couldn’t see who it was that she meant because I couldn’t see anyone around

I was with my friends from the weekend. We’d just left the train and gone walking. We came across a big bush that was on fire. We tried to stop the fire by stamping it but it burnt me. The fire gradually burnt itself out. All the climbing ivy over this object died so we scraped away some of the ivy and that was a job and a half of its own. We found a woman sitting there. Apparently she was with some kind of Social Services and had come to check up on us to make sure that we were all OK and not up to mischief. Of course we caught her like this.

When we finally did leave the house we ended up at the end of the drive and across the road into the chemist’s, nearly being knocked down by a big old Humber that stopped to let us through. I handed a form to the chemist and said “four dailies”. He said “this isn’t the correct form. Where’s the rest of it? It should be twice this size”. He showed me a full example of a form. The last thing I wanted was an argument so I took the form back and said “just give us four dailies”. She rattled off four dailies. One of my friends went to pay but it was £30 and something. That horrified him but I thought that this job of getting to the station to catch his train was just so complicated that we weren’t ever going to manage this at all at this rate. All we want is four tickets and it was turning into a right pantomime

I was in a butcher’s buying food for tea for about a dozen meals that I needed. He sat down with some huge piles of meat and began to give me things like brains of DH Lawrence etc. I wondered what on earth was going on because I was a vegan and he was giving me all these cuts of meat to eat for my tea

Anyway, I’m off to bed. Shopping tomorrow and I don’t feel at all like it. As I said, I’m not going to be doing this journey again. I just can’t.

Sunday 10th September 2023 – SO FAR THE SCORE ..

… is “Eric 2, Alison’s cups and saucers 0”. And that was just trying to make one meal here this evening. By the time that I leave here after my hospital appointment Alison won’t have any crockery left

However, look on the bright side This sofa on which I’m sleeping is one of the most comfortable on which I’ve ever slept. Once I’d finally gone to sleep last night I had the best night’s sleep that I’d had for some considerable time.

So much so that at 06:15 I was awake and by 08:00 I was up and about, feeling quite refreshed. How about that for a Sunday?

Hans came down a short while later and brought me a coffee, and when everyone had finally assembled down here we went for breakfast in Tervuren where we were yesterday.

Alison knew a scenic route through the park and the forest and quite luckily there was a parking space nearby.

Everyone else had patisserie but I had my bread rolls with jam, coffee and orange juice. We sat in the sun for hours and put the world to rights.

Later on we came home and an elderly lady passer-by actually helped me into the car which was very nice.

Back here we sat in the sun, nibbled on bits and carried on with our chat, and then Alison took Hans to the airport and Jackie to the station. There wasn’t much point my going, although after seeing the kind of damage that I can do while tidying up, I bet that Alison wished that I’d accompanied her.

Instead, I had a listen to the dictaphone. There was something going on last night about finding medals stuffed down sofas. When we uncovered this one we had a feeling that it was fake. later on there was an issue at a petrol station. I was with Paul. In the end I can’t remember very much but ha had to speak to a cashier. At the end of each line of petrol pumps at these Motorway services there was a kind-of hatch where there should have been a bank employee sitting. We had a drive around this fuel station but could only see one that was occupied, right at the top of the hill. We had to go to the bottom, swing the car round and drive back up again to pull up alongside the kiosk.

I then had to go to pickup someone at the airport at 12:45 – pick them up to take them to the airport. I was in one of these Japanese-style midi vehicles from the 1980s. I found the address and pulled up outside but no-one came out. I was waiting for about 15 minutes. Then I saw that the door was open and the keys were in the door. I imagined that they must have wanted me to go along and knock. I went and knocked, and a guy and a few boys dressed in some kind of sports uniform and track suit came out, said their goodbyes to whoever was in the house and went into my vehicle ready to leave.

Later on Alison had bought some kind of dancing sheep, cut-out trains and earth-moving equipment that were being used as a promotion for a cartoon film about sheep. She asked me to look at it. It was cheap and not very good, one or two of the things didn’t work properly so for just £1:00 or whatever I thought that it was quite interesting and amusing. It turned out that she’d paid £60:00 for one pack and £50-odd for the second. I thought that that was absurd. She realised that it was expensive, particularly as one or two of the things didn’t work but she happened to fall in love with them when she saw them being stored at the side of the road. Later on when we were around at her house which was actually Rosemary’s, thinking of something else I asked her if all the vehicles had been removed from that plot of land, thinking of the place where Terry found that old van that we drove away. She said “no, there’s just the old red one left”. I couldn’t remember any red one there. She said “the one that my son was going to use when he started his business before he died. I had someone come and take away all the others but that one hasn’t gone yet”. I realised then that we weren’t talking about the same plot of land at all. I was talking about one next to her cottage in France which was all overgrown etc.

There was something else with cars too. We were preparing a fleet of vehicles ready to go to a war zone, big red American-type tipper vehicles towing trailers. We prepared them. Before that there was a building site nearby. I’d been there to ask if they needed any volunteers to do any work. They asked about what I did, and to come back the next morning. I was there preparing these cars. In the end there was just one like an American Cobra sports car left. We couldn’t find the key to it. We spent hours sorting out the seat belt for it. When it was ready the guy looked under the table and found the key. he asked “what’s this key doing here?”. I replied “I don’t know – I’ve never seen it before”. he looked at it, looked at the registration number of the car and said “it’s one off the buses off on the holiday tomorrow”. I asked everyone what I was supposed to be doing tomorrow. One of his children – he had four, 2 boys, a girl and another who, although it was the oldest, was the smallest and rather fragile. This smallest one said to me “it’s lime-washing tomorrow again, I’m afraid”.

We had something about a cup of tea. Tea in Italy was something of a delight and they’d bought me a tea and a biscuit. The tea had milk in it but it tasted really nice. I couldn’t understand that because normally I wouldn’t drink tea with milk. It tastes bitter anyway

For tea I had pasta in a cheese sauce with olive oil, black pepper and oregano along with a couple of the vegan sausages that I’d bought yesterday.

Alison has an early start in the morning so I’m going to bed early. It would be nice to drink a coffee with her before she goes to work.

And then I can find a few things to do; to keep me out of mischief.

Saturday 9th September 2023 – ALISON’S SOFA …

… is one of the most comfy places in which I’ve ever slept.

There is actually a bed for me but to tell the truth, I can’t make it up the stairs any more so “arrangements” were made. Oh!!! How the mighty have fallen

For a change, I was the first awake (with no alarm) but the others soon came to join me and we sat outside in the heat and drank coffee.

Later on we headed into Tervuren. Alison knows a nice cafe where they do pastries so while they were tucking into pastries and coffee I had bread rolls and strawberry jam.

Up the street we then went to see Alison’s new house. It looks quite small from the outside but it’s a real labyrinth inside. We had the guided tour while she outlined her plans.

The sale was only concluded on Monday and she’s decided to have a pile of work done to it before she thinks about moving in

On the way back home we raided the English Shop for Ginger Beer, ice cream (I even found some vegan ice cream) and vegan food for me, then we came home to sit outside in the heat with ice cream and ginger pop like something out of an Enid Blyton novel.

We found a new vegan restaurant that does a buffet where you pay by weight so that seemed like a good idea.

We knew where it was but driving to it was another complication but we eventually settled down. And I’m glad that we went because the food really was delicious.

Back here now, everyone’s exhausted and gone to bed. I’ll be going too in a minute, but not before I exploit a remarkable discovery that I’ve made.

If I select more than one piece of music (like a whole album-full for example) and keep them selected while I go into “properties”, I can batch-edit all of the properties for each track simultaneously.

1994 was the first time that I played with “Windows” and it’s taken me that long to work this out.

What’s even more bizarre is that I discovered it by accident too.

One final thing – the dictaphone. There was some stuff on there from my nice, comfortable night. I had posted on a Social Network page that I was planning on leaving Leuven and going back home. Someone posted to ask if I could bring something back. I replied that it wasn’t possible so someone else asked me if I could bring back something else. I explained that that wasn’t possible either. It ended up with me being given a rather unfortunate heap of abuse.

There was also a dream about a load of Port Vale replica football tops which were not in Port Vale colours at all and a series of bad “knock knock” jokes told by a girl of about 4. And I’m glad that I can’t remember them. After all they won’t trouble my sleeping any.

Friday 8th September 2023 – THAT WAS A …

… horrible journey and I don’t ever want to do it again.

As usual, when I’m going away, I had a bad night’s sleep and spend much of the hours of darkness tossing and turning.

Nevertheless I was up and about (in principle) before the alarm went off

First thing that I did was to grab a shower and then I did a few last-minute things before going out for the bus.

The bus was there but the driver wasn’t so I had to wait a few minutes before he turned up. And then we set off with a bunch of kids who were staying at the youth hostel in the town and who had been for a morning run.

The bus threw me out at the port and I had a 200-metre walk to the bus stop around the corner where the next bus would pick me up. And it was this 200 metres so early in the journey that convinced me that my travelling days are over.

There was a 20-minute wait for the bus during which time firstly my cleaner went past and rearranged my backpack on my shoulders, and then one of the girls from the radio came past and said hello.

The bus didn’t drop me off at the station but across the road so it was a long walk. And with my carriage being right down at the far end it was something of a scramble to be seated before the train pulled out

Updating all of those files took an age, not helped by the fact that I had a little … errr …relax at some point, and we were late pulling into Montparnasse too.

What with one thing and another I’d decided long-since that I was going to throw caution to the wind and have a taxi across Paris, but the walk to the taxi rank was about as far as the walk to the underground, which is regrettable

The ride with a friendly taxi driver wasn’t as expensive as I thought, but my leg had collapsed again getting into his car so I wasn’t enjoying it one bit

To make matters worse I staggered into the Disabled Persons’ room and asked for assistance to board my train to Brussels but they told me to clear off because I hadn’t booked 24 hours in advance.

So four of the assistants there sat and watch me make my slow weary way all the way down the platform to my carriage right at the far end of the train.

There was plenty of stuff on the dictaphone from the night. We were back at school – some kind of sports day with competitions etc. We were with our own House and had to stay with our own House all day. There were all kinds of things going on in the way of competition etc. The final one was a football match so we all had to go to our various common rooms afterwards to prepare. It was then that I realised that in all my things I didn’t have any shoes with me do it looked as if I would be playing in my socks. I didn’t really fancy playing too much because of that so when they began to talk about goalkeepers someone asked a girl “have you ever tried to be rather rough with a goalkeeper when you have the ball in the penalty area. I replied “you can always try it with me and see what happens” but no-one seemed to pick up on it so I didn’t bother all that much. I went up to the common room to prepare. One of the girls was closing the door so I had to insist and make some kind of rude comment before she’d open it again. There was a girl there from about 2 years younger than us whom I knew. Her boyfriend was in our year. The two of them were together and there was another girl in a green check dress – our colours were blue so I don’t know where she was from and what she was doing in there.

Back into this dream again, I eventually made it into the room when they let me in and sorted out into houses except these two girls and I don’t know what was happening with one of them. The other one was with her boyfriend, and we were joking about the football with my ingrowing toenail on my right foot and wasn’t going to be very happy for it especially as I didn’t have my shoes etc with me.

Back once more into the same dream and we were all back in our groups again, going back up Welsh Row towards the Grammar School dressed in our school uniform. Something happened and one of the boys pointed to another one in our class and called him names because he was more interested in eating a bar of chocolate than playing football. There were a few other things like that too.

This was another dream that took place in connection with a school. This time I was in a bath and the water was coming out with such a force that I was sure that it would break the porcelain fittings etc so I was prepared to be dumped into the middle of the bathroom. Somehow the contraption kept on running which surprised me greatly.

still on the theme of children, there was something going on about therapy for children who had been troubled. It was like a drawing and colouring class. What they had for adults was like a painting-by-numbers where you could go along and paint yourself a picture and hope to get rid of stress and tension by doing that.

This final part looks as if it might be something to do with the previous one. There was something about a clinic, people who have financial health problems. Part of the therapy there for children is drawing. For adults they had a few of these huge “painting by numbers” outfits with pictures even taller than the people themselves. The adults could spend as many hours as they wished simply painting the image.

At Brussels I didn’t have long to wait but climbing into the train was next-to impossible on these double-deckers with their steep stairs. Next time I go to Leuven I’ll have to wait around for one of the local stopping trains. These are all on the same level, and a level that is level with the platform so there’s no trying to climb in.

Leuven was roasting hot when I arrived and the walk along the platform to the lift finished me off.

And for some reason my phone wasn’t receiving messages so Alison and Jackie didn’t know that I’d arrived.

Eventually we met up and roared off to meet Hans at the Airport.

Alison knew a lovely Indian restaurant in Sterrebeek so we went there and had a delicious meal. Then we cam back here and sat outside in the heat until God Knows what time chatting.

My sofa is comfortable so I’m going to get in it and sleep for a week. I don’t ever want to do that journey again. Not on any terms.

Monday 1st May 2023 – TODAY HAS BEEN …

… a Bank Holiday of course and so I have celebrated it by imitating my namesake the mathematician and doing three fifths of five eights of … errr … nothing.

And when I say “nothing”, what I actually mean is that I switched off the alarm last night before going to bed and so, despite waking up here and there on several occasions, I didn’t actually leave my stinking pit until 11:55 this morning.

That’s what I call a lie-in.

And I did actually transcribe the dictaphone notes. I was going to say that I left it until after lunch but lunch was of course taken quite quickly after raising myself from the dead.

And didn’t I travel miles during the night? I was in a hotel room somewhere. In the distance I could hear a woman shouting but it was very muffled as if it was a voice coming through a phone. I then heard my brother answer. A heated conversation went on for a couple of minutes. There was then a pause. Afterwards he came into the room. You could see that he was extremely emotional. I asked him “who was that shouting on the phone?”. He mentioned a couple of guys’ names. I said “no, the woman”. He mentioned a friend of his. I asked him what was going on. For some reason he wouldn’t tell me. In the end I went out for a walk. Putting the conversation together I had the impression that my brother was extremely short of money. I remembered myself about how I used to be short of money and how I always used to go out to find a part-time job or something. For some reason he didn’t feel like working very hard to pull himself out of a hole.

Later on we were in an office somewhere. It was actually quite dark even though it was the middle of the afternoon. You couldn’t really see very much. We went outside because we had to drive to our other office. I’d never seen a sky so black and clouds so heavy in all my life. It was a real, proper torrential rainstorm type of clouds. We drove to the other office. A couple of people in the car were talking. One said that they were going to buy a television. I thought that she was buying it for home but apparently it was for the office. I asked about it. She said that one of these price war places on the internet was selling TVs that were only tuned in to Channel 4. Their aim was to have one in the office with the Channel’s rolling news service playing, either talking or watching, so they could see where they are and find out what was happening in the world exactly when it happened. I thought that a surprise because these were young people who didn’t seem to have too much interest in current events.

And then I was driving in a car through part of Texas last night. The roads were absolutely awful, full of pits and everything. At a certain point, without realising it I crossed the border into Spain (or do I mean Mexico?) following another car. We drove down this dirt road that had taken us over the border which came to a dead stop by 3 enormous hangars hidden in the trees. Seeing a railway line I wondered if there would be some railway locomotives. I took my camera, left the car and walked to one of these hangars. I ended up following a corridor that took a lot of twists and turns. In the end I decided that it was pointless to keep on going this way. I turned round. At one point I must have taken a false turn because I started to find myself up against all kinds of historic artefacts, business machines, typewriters etc from the 1930s. I thought “I didn’t remember these, coming along here”. I came to where there was a set of steps with half the steps missing. I had to lower myself over the edge onto the stairs down below and drop down into a room where there were old bicycles from the 1930s. I thought “I seem to have found myself in a museum now”. It was a strange museum with heaps of stuff piled everywhere with no explanation. I quickly worked out the way to go and ended up at the front door. I didn’t recognise the view from there at all, and it was locked. A woman came over to see me, talking in Spanish which I didn’t understand. She pointed the other way from which I’d just come. I had the impression that the museum was closed to new visitors and the people in there were having to leave. Just then an announcement came over saying something like “it’s now 21:00 and everyone has to go”. I thought “21:00 – I have no hotel, I don’t know where the car is, I’m in a strange country, nowhere to stay”.

I stepped back into this dream later. I ended up walking around with a young guy in the Czech Republic somewhere looking at al the buildings in this town. He asked me questions about the building – whether things in the Czech Republic had improved over the last 30 years. I said “in the big cities and major centres of population things have certainly changed but not so much in the rural areas. The emphasis at the moment is on key industries and commerce. Social needs are being somewhat left behind”. We climbed over a pile of rubble that was being used to regenerate the town centre. He started to ask me whether it would be possible for us to maybe see each other again for another talk as he had to leave. I made a non-committal reply to that.

That’s one thing that I actually noticed with my frequent visits behind the Iron Curtain in the old days and then how things changed once the Wall came down. How quickly things changed. And how quickly they adopted the worst aspects of capitalism too. I loved the east in the old days and even took Nerina there on our honeymoon. There was an innocence and naivety there that was quite appealing and 10 or 12 years later it had all gone completely

And later I was walking through a town in Germany. I’d left my rucksack at the airport and gone to do something, then I had to return to pick up my rucksack because it was late. I couldn’t work out how to get to the airport . I was wandering aimlessly around the countryside and came to a town with a beautiful church or something perched on a hill. I stopped to take a photo with the NIKON D3000 but the photo came out all dark. I went to try to take it again but it was difficult being on crutches etc. I couldn’t really feel the camera controls. Then I bumped into my friend from Munich. He took me into a hotel where he was staying. The girls were there as well so we began to walk round these stone passageways. We came to a place where there was a cupboard in the way. We couldn’t go through. I climbed over the cupboard and so did he. We bumped into one of the girls. I ended up having to crawl underneath a bed to enter the room. I thought “this looks wrong to me”. It turned out to be a room in a hostel with about 30 beds and desks etc in it. I had a look around. The people looked reasonably respectable wo I thougth “I’m going to try to book a room here but I don’t want a room in a hostel”. My friend said “they are very expensive”. I said “if everyone else is staying here I’ll stay here but not in a hostel”. I had to walk around the corridors to try to find the reception. There were all kinds of exhibition cases with expensive guitars. I heard a familiar voice. It was another friend of mine, one from my Manchester days, giving a conducted tour of the castle. I thought “that’s strange. He’s only been here 5 minutes and he’s doing conducted tours already as if he’s been here 100 years”. I asked him where the reception was. He pointed in some general direction and said “it’s in an office in between 2 floors over there” so I headed that way to book in.

While I was out driving around I heard yet another friend on the radio. His wife had been doing some knitting and she had a ball of yarn left over. She was going to give it away to anyone who might find some kind of pleasure from doing something with it during lockdown. There was quite a chat about this ball of yarn. I couldn’t understand why because it was a case of “who wants it”. A short while later when I was back home he turned up. He’d brought some things for me that his wife had. I misunderstood because there was something said about eggs. I had some eggs in my fridge. I thought that he was after them for her because I thought that they were hers. I gave him the eggs. While I was going through the dishwasher I found some meat stands, metal things with prongs that you use to put your meat while carving it. I have them to him to him too because they’d be much more use. I don’t use things like that for cutting bread or cake anyway.

So a lot of my friends were out and about with me last night and it was nice to see them all. No Castor, TOTGA or Zero unfortunately, but everyone else was most welcome.

Something else that I did was to have a little look through one of my playlists that will be on the music player later in the week and making sure that it was up to date

Tea was a stuffed pepper. A frozen one out of the freezer. However I turned the heat down on the air fryer to make sure that it was cooked better but that way it didn’t dry out the humidity. There’s obviously a fine line between heating it through and boiling off the water and I’ve not found it yet. I need to practise more.

But right now I’m off to bed. No Welsh in the morning as it’s a holiday over there. So who knows? I might even do some homework. I have to crack on.

Thursday 12th January 2023 – I’VE GIVEN UP …

… making a note of the time when I finally heave myself out of my stinking pit because it’s becoming rather embarrassing that all of my energy in this resepct has evaporated. Instead, I’ll try to concentrate on more positive aspects of everything – if I can actually find any.

It wouldn’t have been during the night though. I did my usual awakening at some silly time and then being unable to go back to sleep for hours. I once read someone’s thesis on Medieval sleeping patterns where there was mention of “first sleeps” and “second sleeps” with people getting up and performing tasks in between. I might not be old enough to remember any medieval sleeping patterns – it just feels like it right now.

Plenty of time to go off on a voyage here and there too. Someone was moving house last night and my family from Wardle was going to look after some stuff for a couple of days. Maybe they had some use for it or something. It was a case of bringing some of the stuff out of this house and putting it onto a trailer that would be towed by a van of theirs. First of all they had to go off somewhere so this girl and I stayed behind. We had to start to take the stuff outside but she was taking ages to do the slightest thing. We were going nowhere because she didn’t seem to have any enthusiasm or energy for the task. Eventually they turned up back so we made a better start. The first thing was these 3 enormous plants. She picked up 2 and went outside. I picked up the third but the stem broke quite low down. I thought “I’ve ruined this”. Then it was the case that she was bringing all kinds of stuff out that these people weren’t going to look after. I couldn’t see the point or purpose in doing that. She started to move bit by bit. The place was dirty and dusty, hadn’t been dusted for years by the looks of things. There were spiders everywhere. I thought that this is really not going to be how I would expect a furniture removal of this sort to be taking place. I felt that we were going to be here while she got organised.

Later during the night we were living in one of these families with children from different parentage. My mother was looking after a couple of children for which she was receiving some money per week. One of these children was actually my elder sister. We didn’t get on and we’d had several fights. One of them was really serious so my mother told me that she would send me away. I thought that if this is an issue between the 2 children and my mother has to choose one of them, why is she choosing the one for which she receives money and want to send away her own child. I made quite a big fuss or argument about all of this. I told her flatly that I wasn’t leaving. If they wanted me out of the house they would have to drag me out. Shortly after that my mother announced that she was having to go away. Because my elder sister and I didn’t get on, I would have to stay temporarily with people while she was away and come back later. Again I refused to go because I saw this for what it was, a plan to simply get me out of the house and once I’d gone they would be no way that she would bring me back in it again so once again I refused flatly to go.

And then I was about to be arrested for something or other. I knew that it was inevitable so I decided that I’d go and surrender myself. I was with 2 girls who might have been Alison and Jackie. I was going through all my paperwork with them making sure that they had everything that I needed. I had all my notes there and pointed out that there were other notes as well, the most recent of which were in a carrier bag in Caliburn on A4 paper folded in half. I went down the various phone numbers with them to make sure that they had them all. Suddenly the question of Zero cropped up. I wondered whether I should give them Zero’s phone number. In the end I decided that while one number more or less won’t make any difference so I gave them her number. I told them that if ever they were to ring it up and her father answered, not to speak to her father but to phone back another time because they would only every have one shot at talking to her. I wrote the number down but the pencil was very blunt. The number was very indistinct so I had to repeat it a couple of times. It didn’t really look like how it ended up being written but it was the best that I could do at that moment because I had a feeling that I ought to go straight away and not wait around any longer otherwise things would just become worse.

At some point I was visiting Clause and Francoise. They had some Ukrainian refugees staying with them, including a girl who I thought was quite cute. We were there, a group of us, hanging around until the evening. I had to go. They asked if I would be back tomorrow but seeing as it was 8 hours home then 8 hours back that might have sounded unlikely but I said to myself “yes, why not?”. I arranged to be there for 09:30 which was totally ridiculous. I set off and drove home like the wind, basically turn round and drive straight back again. The idea that I’d spend the night in a cheap hotel in Montlucon never ever occurred to me until I was well on my way back. As I pulled round the corner towards their house it was 09:35. I thought that I’d done really well to arrive like this. As I came to a stop I looked at my watch and saw that it was 08:30. My watch was clearly playing up. I wondered what on earth the time really was and whether they were still going to be there or if they were fed up and gone without me because I was so late.

Finally, I was in Shrewsbury. I had to come home by catching a coach. I boarded this coach and set off. It drove through the back streets at a hell of a pace and out into the countryside. Then it was me on foot escorting 2 people. I was basically having to crawl on my hands and knees with them. I could see that I was becoming slower and slower. It was quite obvious to me that I can’t keep on doing this. I’m going to have to stop. I’ll be lucky if I make it home. I put on a spurt and we climbed up this steep climb. At the top was this most beautiful view of the sea and inland. Everything from this craggy rock. We talked about the view and everything. They asked why the French didn’t advertise this more. I explained “yes, it’s French. It’s ice to visit and French people have the right to see it but they don’t want it to be overwhelmed. There were a few people round as well running around here and there. These 2 people headed off down the hill but I stood there to look around for a moment. There were people who were just letting themselves go, running full-tilt down this slope. I waited for a moment and when it was clear I ran full tilt down the slope too all the way down to the bottom. Then I looked for the 2 people whom I was conducting but couldn’t see them at all. I wondered where they had gone because they were nowhere in my view at all.

But it was interesting that once more Zero was lurking around in the background but something came up to stop her actually making an appearance. It’s been quite a few times now that that has happened and it’s probably a fact of some significance that she has failed to cross the threshold.

It appears to me that what goes on during the night has far more significance than it might appear at face value although I don’t think much of Freud’s ideas. This exercise that we did 20-odd years ago into dreams seemed to indicate that a dream was an episode of maybe half a dozen long-running threads that ran through someone’s subconscious life but what this actually meant, we never found out. The leader of this project graduated with his Master’s Degree as a result of our efforts but we never saw his thesis.

Today was supposed to be a radio day and indeed it was, although we haven’t set any records today – far from it. I hadn’t as much as sat down and warmed up the computer when I had a message “could I do a tribute for Jeff Beck?”.

Of course I can, but I wanted to do something of a difference. Everyone else will be playing his more famous stuff but I know of at least one unofficial recording that took place in a club when he was in an amateur group long before the Yardbirds, another that he did for a more famous rock star long before he was ever famous and also some session work that he did for a group from Bolton that Jimmy Page sent him via his sister.

Consequently most of the day has been spent following all kinds of casual leads from here or there and I’ve ended up with about 15 tracks, including the tracks for which I’d been looking and also a recording of the only track on which he sang when he was with the Yardbirds.

There’s some rare stuff in there, especially the track on which Jimmy Page plays bass and when I’ve finished writing up the notes (I’ve done the notes for 11 of the 15 songs) it will be something special. I shall see if I can finish it tomorrow morning.

In the middle of all of this, I stopped for a shower, seeing as the physiotherapist is going to be coming round later. Getting into the bath was easier today than it has been of late, and also I can get myself back upright from a kneeling position if there’s something on which I can hang on to pull myself up.

Ask me how I know.

While I was in there I set the washing machine going. There was much more than one machine-load to do so I shall have to do a second load in early course. At least the bedding has been washed and once it’s dried it will be ready. I need to change my bedding much more often than I do.

The physiotherapist regulated my crutches for me and then had me walking around the apartment practising for 10 minutes or so. And once I got the hang of how to walk with them it was much better than trying to hobble around. I’ll try to go for a walk tomorrow if the weather is nice – down to the supermarket on the bus and find some mushrooms and peppers. I’m not sure what else I might need – maybe some frozen peas or something. I’ve plenty of carrots, and if I mix up the beans and sprouts, I can keep that lot going for another week or two.

Talking of sprouts, I had some with my slice of vegan pie tonight with potatoes and gravy. It really was delicious and I shall have to make some more of that.

So I’ll go back and dictate the notes for the radio programme as far as I have done them so far. And then see whereabouts I can reach. I have my final track already planned, as well as my final speech, so it’s the bit in the middle that is the issue.

That will take some thought, but not at 23:00 in the evening.

Saturday 17th September 2022 – I FORGOT …

hang glider place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022… that it was Saturday and shopping day today and almost forgot to go out.

When the alarm went off this morning I wasn’t in any rush at all and was lounging around for a whole 10 minutes or so before I had a sudden attack of realisation and leapt to my feet in something of a panic

So while you admire a whole collection of all kinds of aerial craft, because today it looked as if almost anything that could fly was in the air this afternoon, I shall regale you with my adventures.

hang glider pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022And when I say “almost anything that could fly was in the air this afternoon”, there were even one or two things that couldn’t but were making a valiant attempt.

Like this Nazgul, for an instance. If it were me, I’d have “shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight. “
but Legolas was obviously having much better luck than Wordsworth and me.

This Nazgul came staggering around the headland clearly in some kind of difficulty and he ended up loitering around here for a good five minutes just half an inch above the ground waiting for a gust of wind to pick him up and send him on his way.

Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner F-HRBC baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022Not all of the aerial craft was unidentified though.

Flying by this afternoon was Air France flight AF428 from Paris Charles de Gaulle to, of all places, Bogotà in Colombia, by coincidence where my journalist friend Jill from Philadelphia is on an assignment right now, and had I known, I would have been on it.

The plane that’s taking the flight is a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, registration F-HRBC, and it was at 34,000 feet on course 261° at 460 knots.

We’ve flown on Dreamliners before, once FROM CHARLES DE GAULLE TO MONTREAL IN AUGUST 2014 and once FROM MONTREAL TO CASABLANCA IN OCTOBER 2019.

aeroplane 50SA baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022But retournons à nos moutons as they say around here, and more banal kinds of flying machine.

So there I was, scrambling to my feet and dashing off to take my medication while I made plans.

After the medication I leapt (well, crawled, actually but sometimes you have to write for effect) into the shower for a good scrub and to make myself pretty, but I’ll need much more than the 4 minutes that the British Government recommends that you spend in the shower in order to do that.

And then Caliburn and I headed for the hills and the LeClerc supermarket.

aeroplane 55OJ baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022Today’s shop was actually quite expensive, but they had a lot of stuff on special offer today.

The hair shampoo that I use, a special type with oils and not soap, was on offer in three-packs. It’ll probably take me the rest of my life to use it all but I couldn’t turn it down.

Fabric softener was at a give-away price too, and then they had some 100% végétale margarine of the best quality in the “end of range” row. It’s much better than the rubbish that I usually buy and the reduced prices was even cheaper than what I would pay for my usual stuff.

Nothing there that I could pass up.

These days I’ve become quite domesticated, haven’t I?

unknown aeroplane baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022On the way home, I called at the Health Centre. The nurse had told me that my vaccination certificate for my fourth vaccination is now ready.

The certificate might be ready but the receptionist wasn’t. Her desk was all closed up. It looks as if the reception is only open 5 days per week. And so instead I came home.

Having put the frozen peas and the cold items away, I came in here and started work.

One thing that I want to do on Saturdays now that I have a little free time with only going to LeClerc and not to Noz is to pair up the music for the radio programme that i’ll be preparing on Monday. That means that I really can have Sundays off.

If I’m not careful, I’ll end up like Robinson Crusoe. he worked a 5-day week because all his outstanding work was finished by Friday.

unidentified aeroplane pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022The joins in the pairs were amongst the best that I’ve ever made, and I’m very pleased with these.

While I’d been rummaging around in the fridge the other day I found some vegan cheese that I had forgotten. And so for breakfast I had cheese-on-toast and coffee. And that old vegan cheese, stuff that I’d bought ages ago from Lidl, actually melts like real cheese.

That’s the kind of thing that’s useful to know so I made a note.

So having had a nice breakfast, I made a start on what was on the dictaphone from last night. Tons of stuff too. It must have been quite a mobile night.

powered hang glider baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022Last night I was at the airport taxi-driving. I was sitting in the car in the rain watching the line of passengers grow longer and then shorter. Then it was my turn to leave, and I picked up some people going to the hotel in the south near Waterloo. 6 people entered the taxi so I had to insist that 1 of them left as I was only licensed for 5. In the end 2 of them left. They had a chunter but I was only licensed for 5 so there was nothing that I could do about it. We set off

After that I had my boat and I was up round the top of north-west Scotland somewhere. An emergency had occurred and I had to go back to London. It was fairly stormy but I went none-the-less. Although the journey shook me up a lot I made it back without any serious injury or illness.

Later on, Nerina came home from school one day very upset because someone had been taking the mickey out of her. She wanted me to go along and sort them out. Of course it’s not really something that you can sort out as I told her. I said that it was pretty pointless but she insisted so we drove back to Nantwich. I said “when we park up you’ll have to do this, this and this”. She replied “I’m not coming with you”. “Of course you are. This is about you”. In the end we didn’t actually have to go very far because as we pulled up he was there. I had a few words with him about it. He was effectively “what are you going to do about it,”. Of course there wasn’t really anything that you can do about something like that. In the end nothing ever became of it. It didn’t really prove a point but it was one of those things that you just have to do, one of the affairs through which you have to go.

powered hang glider baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022and then this was early in the morning. Everyone was getting up. I was talking to someone at the front door of the residence where I was staying, brushing my teeth. He pointed to my upper lip telling me that there was some toothpaste on it. I replied “don’t worry. I’ll wash my face when I’ve finished”. He replied “yes but I’m telling you that I thought for some reason that it was an extremely silly thing to do”. There was an advert on the TV as well about a young black boy taking 2 children, 1 on the handlebars of his bike and the other in a trailer behind. he was struggling up a hill in the snow. It was something to do with some kind of energy product because it cut to the end where he was cycling up this hill and overtaking everyone like nobody’s business, nothing like the struggle he was having before”. One of my friends from Germany was there. She was there as I was rinsing my face off so we had a little chat. I had my suitcase and was thinking that I’d have time to go to the airport to check in and hand in my suitcase and then come back. Then I’d be ready for going in the evening. I was thinking about it and I wasn’t going for another couple of days yet so why would I be wanting to take my suitcase now? This was starting to become really confusing.

yellow autogyro baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022After the lunchtime fruit the next task was to deal with the carrots. I’m running a little low on them so seeing as they had 1.5kg bags this morning at the same price at which 1kg bags usually sell, I treated myself

They are all now scrubbed, diced, blanched and in the freezer. And I had to be quite imaginative about how I fitted them in because it really is now full to the brim and there’s no room for anything else in there.

Now that I’m much more organised here, I realise that I should have pushed the boat out and bought a bigger freezer. However I would have filled up the space just as quickly and I still would have ended up in this position with no room in there for anything else.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022With the carrots now done, there’s still no time to breathe a sigh of relief and collapse into a heap.

There’s the afternoon walk – or stagger – around the headland. But not before I’ve gone over to the wall at the end of the car park to check up on the activities down on the beach.

Plenty of people down there this afternoon. No surprise though because although it was quite windy, even if a Nazgul rider didn’t think so, it was a lovely late summer day and it really was a pleasure to be out in it.

There were even one or two people brave enough to be in the water this afternoon.

st helier jersey UK Eric Hall photo September 2022The views out to Jersey were magnificent this afternoon.

They were so good that you could see some of the buildings on the island with the naked eye, and now that I’ve been over there I can tell you what some of them are, and when I’ve finished reviewing the photos I’ll probably be able to tell you what the rest are.

Going from left to right, what I think that we have is first of all Elizabeth Castle and to the right is Fort Regent. Over to the right, the white buildings are the blocks of flats at Le Marais in St Clément.

Of course, that’s guesswork based on what I saw when I was over there, but of course I didn’t actually see everything.

commodore goodwill english channel France Eric Hall photo September 2022And how about a flying ship?

It’s not actually a fata morgana – it is a real ship roughly in the position where it’s supposed to be, but the effects of the haze caused by temperature inversion at the water level gives the impression that she’s flying,.

It’s a phenomenon that’s been observed by mariners for centuries and has been the subject of all kinds of books and the like.

And no prizes for guessing who she might be either. It’s actually Commodore Goodwill out there in the English Channel surrounded by yachts and she left St Helier at 10:36 for a slow sail over to St Malo.

kayakers baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022Fighting my way past the crowds and the wounded Nazguls I crossed the lawn and came to the crowded car park.

Out in the bay there were a couple of kayakers having a good paddle around offshore this afternoon. Having a lot of fun, I suppose.

When I was at school I used to go canoeing but that was a very long time ago and on a canal. I wouldn’t fancy my chances in an open sea in this kind of wind.

STRAWBERRY MOOSE has been kayaking in the open sea while we were in the Arctic, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall.
“Would you like a couple of oars?” I asked him before he set out.
“Yes” he replied. “After I’ve come back and put away the kayaking gear”

cabanon vauban man sitting on bench pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022My route continued across the car park to the end of the headland, and then I picked my way very gingerly down the loose gravel path on my one good leg.

There was plenty going on out at sea and plenty up above in the air too, as you have already seen. Consequently seeing someone sitting on the bench by the cabanon vauban was no surprise at all.

What was surprising was that he was taking no interest whatever in the exciting events that were unfolding all around him. By the looks of things he was reading a good book, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Nothing wrong with continuing my way down towards the port either.

belle france joly france ferry terminal port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022So I scrambled off on my way towards the viewpoint overlooking the harbour to see what was happening there.

Nothing much going on at the ferry terminal today. It seems that despite the fine weather, the summer season is grinding to a close. Moored over there are Belle France and one of the Joly France ferries. No step in her stern so that means that she’s the older one of the two.

The only one out at the island today is the other one, the newer of the two. So there aren’t any tours around the bay this afternoon.

As for Victor Hugo, she’s still moored in the inner harbour. Her season is definitely finished and I imagine that it won’t be long before she and her sister are off to Cherbourg for a maintenance visit.

l'omerta chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022The portable boat lift here in the chantier naval is only rated at 100 tons and I don’t imagine that that’s anywhere near as what is required to lift Victor Hugo out of the water.

It would be nice if we had a bigger left to pull heavier boats out of the water but then there’s no real room here for anything large.

Everyone whom we saw yesterday is still here by the way. However I took a better photo of L’Omerta. When I was looking at the radar yesterday I noticed that there isn’t an image for her on the radar database. As I keep the installation here I reckon that it’s upto me to bring it up to date.

That’s a little project for me – to go through and photograph every boat that lives here. I probably have most of them anyway.

Back here I had a coffee and then settled down to watch the football – Y Drenewydd v Penybont in the Welsh Premier League.

This was a game that had everything. Penybont were the better side and they raced into a 2-0 lead in the first half. Watching Y Drenewydd mounting a comeback and trying to pull themselves back into the game made the second half probably one of the most exciting that we have seen.

They pulled a goal back and kept on piling forward, only to be hit by a sucker-punch breakaway that made the score 3-1. Nevertheless they kept on going and scored a second, but couldn’t find a way through for the third despite everything that they tried.

3-2 was about the right result and the game was a great advert for the League except for a couple of “little incidents” in stoppage time that saw a rash of bookings and a sending-off as Penybont tried to slow down the game and run out the clock.

Tea was one of my breaded quorn fillets with veg, and then I came back in here to write up my notes, rather later than usual.

All my work for this weekend is now done so I can have tomorrow off. I even have pizza dough in the freezer (I think).

So I’ll try a walk around the walls tomorrow and see how I feel. I’m still not feeling myself, which is just as well because it’s a disgusting habit, but apart from that my right knee is finished, I reckon. I don’t think that I’ll recover from this.

And even if I were to recover, I’m not sure that i’d have the confidence in it that I had.

That’s sad, isn’t it?

Friday 19th August 2022 – JUST FOR A …

… change, I’ve had a good day today.

Here in the apartment I can’t move because of carboard boxes too. And printers. There are two of them that are destined for that great office in the sky once it goes dark.

What I’ve actually done is to strip out the cupboard and wardrobe in the bedroom. Apart from finding all kinds of stuff that I didn’t know that I had or forgotten that I’d bought, I found a big pile of cardboard boxes that I had no idea why I was keeping them.

They are all now piled up by the door waiting for dark as well, always assuming that I can leave the apartment because of the cardboard boxes in the way of the door.

In fact I had a good couple of hours in the cupboard stripping it out without even stopping to catch my breath. And now, there’s tons of storage space that I’ve liberated. I shan’t know myself at this rate.

As well as that, over the last couple of days I’ve been walking a little easier too and it was better again today, although I’ve no idea why that should be. But whatever it is, all of the foregoing has made me feel much better.

And it’s been a long, long time since I’ve been able to say all that.

It will be interesting if this new, improved me can keep on going and keep the momentum. We all know some very well-worn phrases about swallows and summers but there’s absolutely no reason why I can’t make the most of it while it’s there to be made the most of.

joly france baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022So while you admire a couple of photos of the two Joly France ferries coming back from the island in line-astern, I’ll tell you how my day went today.

And as usual these days, it started off with a late night. I’m having a few of those just now.

A turbulent night as well. I didn’t sleep very well at all. Tossing and turning around for much of it, wide awake, something of a failure as far as I can see.

Consequently it was something of quite a struggle to rouse myself from the depths of wherever I was when the alarm went off. I’m having more than just a few of those as well just recently too.

joly france baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022after the medication I came here to have a listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night.

To my surprise, I hadn’t gone very far. I had a group of people around, a couple of girls whom I knew and one or two others. I was sorting out something to eat. There was a bag full of cooked sausages so I put some plates out and started to put these sausages on the plates for these people. Gradually everyone came in and began to sit down. One of the girls piped up and said ‘now Eric what about our ski holiday?”. I simply had a flash of horror because it was now 20:30 and we had a plane to board at 22:00 to take us to our ski holiday. It had completely and utterly slipped my mind. Of course it seemed to have slipped everyone else’s mind too who was going except this girl who had left it until the last minute to remind me. I sat there totally lost for words which is not like me trying to think of what to say while everyone else sat there and waited for some kind of reply from me but I really didn’t know what to say about that.

It must have been a bad night if I’d only gone off for a wander once despite spending most of the night tossing any turning around like that.

But it’s an ill-wind that doesn’t blow anyone any good, so the saying goes. Having typed that out fairly quickly, in a mad fit of enthusiasm I dealt with (a mountain of) recordings from one of the days when I was out and about in Central Europe. And I bet that that took you by surprise as much as it took me.

Had I not had an interruption in mid-transcribe, I could have done far more too. However Rosemary rang me up and we had another one of our marathon chats that go on for hours and hours.

It’s almost back-to-school time and some arrangement ought to be made for Miss Ukraine to be educated. Whether or not she’ll benefit academically is one thing, but she’ll certainly benefit from having some social contact with local kids of her age.

And now that she’s a teenager I’m sure that the question of “boys” will be somewhere on the agenda at some point in the near future and she isn’t going to meet too many where she is.

Her parents don’t have a clue about what to do and neither does Rosemary so we spent some time surfing the internet looking for clues, as well as having one of our usual chats.

It was after the phone call and having finished the notes that I was transcribing that I attacked the cupboard in here.

It’s not very well-laid out so it’s always going to be problematic but I’ve been stuffing things in there for a little over 5 years without much thought. And I’ve no idea why I have so many empty boxes.

But now they are ready to go along with a lot of other old stuff (yes, I’m ACTUALLY throwing stuff away) and there’s now quite a lot of room to bring yet more rubbish into the apartment. This is progress.

With a break for my fruit and to chat with my niece’s eldest daughter on the internet (it’s her birthday today) all of this took me up to the time for me to go for my afternoon walk.

beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022And as usual, my first stop would be at the wall at the end of the car park to see what was going on down on the beach.

With nothing to hold me up on my way across the car park I strode out (for the first time for months). I wasn’t expecting to see too many people down there on the beach because the weather has changed dramatically.

The temperature must have dropped about 20°C since those heady days of 10 days ago and although we had some blue sky, we also had plenty of cloud and wind.

There wasn’t anyone at all in the water and that’s no surprise at all to anyone in this weather

dry footpath pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022During the morning we had had some rain, and with the rain that we had had overnight, it’s done wonders for the local plant life.

Although the path is still quite dusty, the vegetation is starting to regain its colour. We saw yesterday how the weeds had picked up after those two quick showers but if you look closely today at a photo that I took from roughly the same place as the others, you’ll see that the grass is now starting to find its colour.

It’s pretty good how quickly nature can revitalise itself after such a period of stress. Give it a few hundred thousand years after humans have been eradicated from the planet and we’ll see Mother Nature in all her glory.

Well, we won’t, because we won’t be here. But you know what I mean. But it’s not just in the nineteen-seventies that humans have “Mother Nature on the run”.

cabin cruiser baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022Just now we saw the older of the two Joly France boats coming across the bay from the Ile de Chausey.

Shortly afterwards we had another boat come around the headland heading out into the bay. At first I thought that it might be Lysandre or her look-alike Petite Laura so I took a photo with the aim of enhancing and enlarging it when I returned home to see who it was.

However, it’s neither of the two. It looks like some kind of unusual design of cabin cruiser that has taken to the water.

So leaving that alone I fought my way through the crowds to the end of the headland. It was busy up here today yet again as holidaymakers look around for something to do.

lobster pot buoys pointe de roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022When I was out here yesterday I forgot to check to see if the buoy for what I preusme to be a lobster pot was still out here just offshore.

So either it’s the same one that I hadn’t noticed yesterday or else it’s an entirely new one that has appeared offshore today. And it seems to have found a friend too.

Not that I would know anything about it but I would imagine that the fact that the flags on the buoys are different colours, they belong to different owners. But I really have no idea. I know that I would want my flags to be different from any other.

There wasn’t anyone on the bench by the cabanon vauban so I cleared off down the path towards the port.

le roc a la mauve III belle france ferry terminal port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022There was no change in occupant yet again at the chantier naval so I had a look over at the ferry terminal to see what was going on.

Moored over there at the head of the queue is Belle France. We didn’t see her out and about this afternoon but that is not of course to say that she hasn’t gone anywhere.

My attention was also caught by the fishing boat down there with the impressive-looking HIAB on board. She’s le Roc à la Mauve III who we saw in the chantier naval for a while a couple of months ago.

With a crane like that on board they must be expecting to haul in a whole load of shellfish.

joly france ferry terminal port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022Meanwhile, as I was watching Belle France, the first of the Joly France ferries that we saw earlier pulled into port.

She is of course the older one of the two. That you can tell from her windows in “landscape” format and the larger upper deck superstructure. She has quite a crowd of people on board this afternoon. It must have been quite busy over there today.

And regular readers of this rubbish will recall that the other day I mentioned something about the water over on the island. There was something about that in the local paper yesterday.

Scooped them again, didn’t I? I wonder if they are actually reading my notes.

plant with flowers boulevard vaufleury Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022As I walked down the path on top of the cliffs overlooking the harbour I had a look at the lawn by the Boulevard Vaufleury.

A little while ago I mentioned the grass and how quickly it seems to be regenerating. But nothing like as quickly as this here.

This plant has not only recovered its green colour but pushed out some flowers since I was last here. That’s quite dramatic. Mind you, whatever would my friends make of me taking photographs of flowers?

IT HAS BEEN SAID in the past that the only time I would ever take a photo of a flower would be if there were an old car parked upon it.

While I was musing over this, the other Joly France ferry pulled around the headland and you saw a photo of that just now.

chausiaise port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022Before going home to carry on, I went to have a look in the inner harbour.

Victor Hugo has gone out again but back in port is Chausiaise after her run out to St Helier. She docked at 21:04 last night.

Back here I had a coffee and sat down for a while. And regrettably I … errr … disappeared with the fairies. Only for about 15 minutes or so but even so it was something of a disappointment after what else had been happening.

Tea tonight was falafel with steamed veg and vegan cheese sauce. Delicious as usual. At least I’m slowly making some room in the freezer but there is still plenty more to go at in there that needs finishing off.

And while we’re on the subject of cold storage … “well one of us is” – ed … it IS nice to be able to open the fridge door without the fear of being buried under a pile of bottles.

So how long will that last?

Anyway I’ll try one more time for an early night. Shopping tomorrow although I don’t need all that much. And we’ll see how long this mad fit of enthusiasm lasts. If it keeps up, I shan’t know myself but not even I am that optimistic.

Monday 1st August 2022 – HERE WE GO AGAIN

bad parking boulevard vaufleury Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo 1st August 2022This is one reason why tourists have such a bad name and reputation in holiday resorts.

As Guns ‘n’ Roses once famously sang, “They come to our country and think they’ll do as they please”

Where that woman is parked and where her passengers are alighting is on the disabled ramp that leads down to the pedestrian crossing.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I promised that I would lay off the “pathetic parking” that I see on my travels around and about but sometimes some examples are really too awful not to document. I really do wonder what goes through the minds of some people some times.

Anyway, enough of that. Retournons à nos moutons as they say around here, my night last night was as bad as that piece of what is laughably called “parking”. I don’t recall going to sleep at all despite my early night and I spent all of it tossing and turning around in bed.

That’s not quite right because there were two things on the dictaphone, one of which I was actually dictating when the alarm went off at 06:00. And, rather like the gay ghost, that put the willies up me and no mistake.

There wasn’t much difficulty in falling out of bed at the sound of the alarm and finishng off the dictation once the alarm had finished, and then after the medication and checking the mails and messages I sat down and started work on the radio programme.

It turned out to be rather more complicated than most that I’ve done because I seemed to have somewhat overrun the speech. There was really only space for a final song of 1:59 and I had nothing even approaching that in the batch of music from which I had extracted this week’s stuff.

This led to some rather hefty editing of the speech. It’s just as well that I always add in facts that can easily be cut out but even so I was scratching around for stuff to erase at the end. That’s why even though I’d cracked on quite well this morning it was still as late as 11:20 when I finally finished.

While I was listening to it afterwards I was busy writing. I’d received a few e-mails and messages from various people that for one reason or another I hadn’t answered so I took care of that. I think that I’m up-to-date now so if you are waiting for a reply from me and haven’t had it, send me a reminder.

Another thing that I did was to organise my tickets for my journey to and from Leuven later this week, something to which I am not looking forward at all. But I’m going to be using the time sensibly while I’m away (I hope) and making plans for the rest of the year.

Before I went for lunch I had a good long session with the acoustic guitar, just to keep my hand in.

After the fruit I came in here to do some work but rather unfortunately the bad night caught up with me and I crashed out well and truly and completely. Gone for good, in fact, and I didn’t feel a thing for a couple of hours.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo 1st August 2022Consequently I was rather late for my afternoon walk today.

There weren’t too many people down there on the beach this afternoon. The weather forecast had told us that today the summer weather would be back and while it was certainly nicer than yesterday, it wasn’t that nice.

So that would explain why the beach was rather quiet and why no-one had plucked up the courage to go for a dip in the sea. And I can’t blame them either. I wouldn’t have gone in there today either but I’m rather notorious for the kind of water in which I would immerse myself.

picking blackberries pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo 1st August 2022There were quite a few people out walking around on the path this afternoon though.

This couple had caught my eye, and it took e a minute or two to work out what was going on. But by the looks of things they were blackberrying.

It made me think that if they were that keen on blackberrying I should have sent them round to my house in Virlet where there would be enough blackberries to keep them going for as long as they like.

One of these days I’ll have to think about doing something with that jungle outside my place there. There’s some stuff in the house that I need but I can’t access it.

f-gcum Robin DR400 180 baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo 1st August 2022While I was brooding on the infinite, an aeroplane roared by out in the bay.

She’s one of our old friends, F-GCUM, a Robin DR400-180 owned by the aero club. We’ve seen her and her sisters on numerous occasions.

She took off from the airfield at 15:58 and flew south down the bay, did a lap around Mont St Michel, then came back up the coast, went out and around the Ile de Chausey and then came back in to land at 16:33.

My photo was timed at 16:09 (adjusted) so that seems to fit in with her voyage.

And “adjusted”? As I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … all of my digital equipment is always set to standard time and not adjusted for Summer Time

sailing ship cap frehel brittany english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo 1st August 2022As I walked down the path towards the end of the headland I noticed a set of sails out there in the bay off Saint Malo.

She was so far away that I couldn’t recognise her so I took a photo with the aim of enlarging and enhancing it when I returned home to see if I could identify her. But from what I could see, she’s the one that we saw the other day with the strange sails that we were unable to identify.

We could identify the lighthouse at Cap Fréhel though quite clearly. That’s over on the right-hand edge of the image. It was quite clear this afternoon and we could see for miles.

anvil cloud ile de chausey baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo 1st August 2022This cloud out in Granville Bay caught my eye this afternoon. It was extremely interesting.

It’s what they call an “anvil cloud” and it’s a sure sign that wherever it is, there’s quite a storm raging.

If you look closely at the surface of the sea just in front of the Ile de Chausey, you can see the different, darker colour that would seem to indicate that that particular spot is taking a right beating right now.

There aren’t any boats out there in the bay right now and that’s not a surprise given the weather. They would be shipping a lot of water right now.

cabanon vauban people on bench pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo 1st August 2022And although there wasn’t an awful lot going on right now just offshore there was quite a crowd watching it.

Plenty of people on the car park, as I found as I threaded my way across the car park, and loads wandering around on the lower path, and that family of four has stopped for a breather on the bench by the cabanon vauban.

“No shipwrecks, and nobody drownding, in fact nothing to laugh at at all” and no-one fishing off the rocks either and so I left them to it and wandered off down the path on the other side of the headland towards the port to see what was going on.

la confiance 2 chant des sirenes cap lihou chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo 1st August 2022When I reached the viewpoint overlooking the chantier naval I noticed that we have yet another change in occupancy.

There’s La Confiance II and Chant des Sirenes in there along with the two fishing boats that I have yet to identify, but we now have a fifth one that has just been pulled out of the water.

She’s Cap Lihou, one that we have seen quite often, and there was someone around there somewhere with a Kärcher pressure washer giving her a good going-over, as you can tell from the scaffolding and all of the water that’s around her.

There ought to be a squadron or two of seagulls loitering around as well because liberated barnacles would make a tasty snack

gerlean l'omerta fish processing plant port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo 1st August 2022Meanwhile, over at the Fish Processing Plant we have our usual suspects moored up

In front we have Gerlean and at the rear is L’Omerta in her usual place. In between the two is a little boat that we have seen around and about quite often but I’ve not yet been able to identify her.

One of these days I shall have to go for a walk around for a closer look but I’m really not up to it – at least, not up to the walk back up the hill again afterwards. Things have gone downhill quite considerably since I’ve been living here.

marité freight on quayside port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo 1st August 2022Before I went home I had a good look at what was happening in the inner harbour.

Marité is back in town after her perambulations over the weekend. and at the side of her there’s a lorry that’s unloading a pile of freight presumably for one of the Jersey freighters to take away.

There’s a speedboat too, shrink-wrapped in plastic so I imagine that she’ll be going on a freighter too.

Back here I had a coffee and then had a listen to what had been happening on the dictaphone during the night. While I had been in my sleep I tripped over a rough bit in the path and fell, and couldn’t pick myself back up again. That was about the only time that I went to sleep during the night, that was, as I noted at the time.

There was a group of refugees who wanted to be taken clandestinely across Europe. I worked out a few things to do basically and came to the conclusion that it would be easier if I put a few of them on the train led by jackie and Alison. Then with one other person I brought the luggage and everything across Europe by vehicle. I could get in front of them and be there when they arrived. When they returned from work I had the apartment all ready. They had to fight their way in over this sofa that I was using to block the door. They had a meal of boiled eggs and bread but there wasn’t much bread then we discussed everything. I could see that they weren’t too happy about this which I could understand I suppose. They asked me what the railway company thought about me moving these refugees by rail. I came up with some story because they hadn’t really asked because I was quite confident that it would work anyway and I didn’t want to involve too many people in what we were doing. It was all going to be something of a mish-mash with the idea that it would be all right on the night. I had a few things to prepare like some dummy school books so I was sitting down trying to prepare those in a quiet moment before it was time to go. I had a feeling that we still hadn’t resolved this issue about who was going how and where. I felt that we were heading for some kind of difficulty amongst ourselves in this respect.

Tea tonight was a curry made of all kinds of bits an pieces loitering around in the fridge. And there is enough for tomorrow too which is just as well because it really was quite nice and I’ll make more like this, except that I’ve run out of fennel now.

And that reminds me – I need to check the supplies to see what I need because many of the herbs and spices tht=at I use can only be bought at the Asian supermarkets in Leuven and not anywhere local to me in Granville. It’ll mess up my cooking completely if I run right out of some things.

Now that I’ve finished my notes I’m off to bed. I’m looking forward to a good sleep although I’m not sure if I’ll have one. I can’t understand why last night was such a bad night because I didn’t actually crash out at all on Sunday and with the early start and the open-air exercise I ought to have been completely wasted.

So it all totally beats me.

Sunday 17th July 2022 – THIS AFTERNOON …

… has been one of the hottest that I can remember. So much so that I almost abandoned my walk after about 5 minutes and come home for the shelter of my apartment with its 1.2m thick stone walls.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022It certainly brought out all of the crowds and the town was heaving with people today.

So while you admire the crowds of people on the beach and in the sea enjoying the weather, I’ll tell you about my day today.

No alarm of course, but even though it was extremely late when I went to bed last night I was still up and about by 10:30. Had I made an effort, I could actually have been up and about earlier but hey! It’s Sunday! a good lie-in will do me some good.

At least it isn’t after midday so there is still a fair amount of time to do stuff.

people on rocks baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022The first stuff that I did was to listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night.

Last night started off with me on board a ship, or a train, something like that. I eventually managed to access my computer and was sitting down there quietly going through some images. A young girl appeared behind me. She went to say “do you have a girl in a blue-grey background?”. Suddenly she shouted “yes you have, it’s on the screen” I asked “what is it?”. She replied “I need to have that photo”. I asked “and?”. “If you can let me have your computer I can copy them out”. I replied “no. I’m working with the computer. You can have it later when I’ve finished”. She made such a complete fuss about this that I said “I’ll tell you what to do. You give me a memory stick and I’ll copy all the files that you want onto it and you can take them away”. She said “I don’t have a memory stick” so I said “so you find one”. She said “you have one” to which I asked “so you want to use MY computer and MY memory stick to move some photos for YOU?”. I was trying my best to stay polite but it wasn’t working. I was starting to become extremely irritated. The more she insisted the more I became annoyed and I could see that this wasn’t going to end very well.

people in sea medieval fish trap plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022Later on I was in the Army and we were attacking a block of flats somewhere where my aunt used to live. We’d taken up positions and were busy preparing to go. One section had held them at bay first before we all arrived. They felt that they should have gone into the attack first as a result but as they weren’t they were busy trying to sabotage everything even down to the effect of shooting their own soldiers in the main army to try to have their way. It clearly wasn’t working and everyone was around there and they all gave the order to go. They swarmed in but were held up so there was a huge artillery barrage. Eventually they fought their way into this building. The other person who ran this other battalion was still going on about how he thought that it was all unfair. We could see that there was nothing that was going to happen besides that would console him even now that we’d gone into this building and looked as if we were going to occupy it successfully.

people on beach tidal swimming pool plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022The situation at Lidl was getting out of hand. The manager wanted it done one way, the senior assistant wanted it done another way. The photographer who was taking the photographs wanted a third. Presumably he was working on instructions from the owners of the company so we didn’t understand why everyone else was arguing with him about it. Even when we went for lunch the woman who was serving the tomatoes was having words with this photographer guy. I thought that this was terrible because he was just doing what he had been told to do and nothing to do with what he thinks himself presumably. He won’t have any leeway deciding how this catalogue is made up.

I had a new washing machine and there was a free gift – a year’s supply of washing powder. I askd them if I could change the washing powder for something else because of course living on my own I don’t use all that much. It led to a most extraordinary argument with a salesman who called me all kinds of names under the sun for wearing dirty clothes, or wearing dirty clothes for ever etc. It was most unprofessional and I couldn’t understand what on earth was upsetting him so much when we were discussing a free gift.

people on beach plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022I’d been working in an office somewhere. I had everything all done and the place was really tidy for a change with just a few files here and there that I thought that I could do on Monday and I’d be completely up-to-date. I wouldn’t have to worry about leaving my appointment and finishing in a mess when I retired. After all, I could have retired a while back because I’m over the retirement age. Meantime I emptied out all of my drawers. There was a big carrier bag and I thought that I’d struggle to fit everything in it. In the end I managed it. Then I went down to the station – the station at Wigan to buy a single ticket to Crewe. It would cost me £20:50 which I thought was extortionate. All these other people were waiting to use the ticket machine so I had to let them pass while I brooded on how I was going to go home. In the end I just went up to the machine and bought the ticket anyway. When I arrived home my flatmate had been home earlier. We went off to a night club to see a group. I was still fuming about this £20:50. When we arrived at the club the admission fee was £0:92 which I thought was much more reasonable. My friend said “hang on a minute” and went up to one of the members of staff to say 3I had a colleague with me” because I was carrying my camera so we actually could enter for nothing. he was going to report on it and I imagined that he pretended that I was going to be his photographer so we entered this nightclub for free.

This is quite a recurring theme in my dreams, isn’t it? Being at work on the point of retiring and wondering about what kind of mess I’ll be leaving behind.

Finally I was with Jackie and Alison somewhere. We’d been to an Indian restaurant the night before. Next morning we would all meet for lunch. I was still in bed at home in Shavington but the ‘phone rang. That awoke me so I left the bed and everyone was there. My mother said that my older sister had rung wanting to ask me a few questions. I went upstairs to the bathroom. The house was similar to the one in Shavington. I thought that the corner at the top of the stairs would be a nice place to put a 90° circular table and a potted plant or something. I would tell my mother that when I go downstairs. From there I ended up in the street going to this Indian restaurant. I was sure that I was really late. When I arrived everyone had on their face masks so I had to look through my pockets for mine. I then went in and found the 2 girls. One of them had already had her meal but the other was waiting for me to eat before she would order. I thought that with it being lunchtime I didn’t want very much so I just ordered some poppadoms and curry. When it came, it was an enormous dish. I thought “so much for my good resolution”. As I started to eat a man came over and said something to one of the girls. She shook her head but he carried on talking to her. She continued to shake her head, saying “no”. I wondered what on earth was going on because my German wasn’t good enough to understand.

The next task was to pair off all of the music that I’ll be using in the radio programme that I’ll be preparing tomorrow.

There’s some good music in that so I wanted to make it sound good so I spent some time on it and it wall worked quite well.

In between everything I went for brunch. Porridge and toast with some nice, strong coffee. If only I could find some decent baked beans. Unfortunately the French variety is not up to much and fool that I am, I didn’t buy a dozen or so tins when I was in Belgium just now with Caliburn.

As well as an hour or so on the guitar I’ve been writing a reply to a friend in the UK. She sent me a long message earlier in the morning and I had to set aside the time to give the matter some proper consideration.

repairing medieval city walls rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022In the middle of everything I went out for my afternoon walk in the middle of this heatwave.

We’ve seen all of the photos of the people on the beach, in the sea and swimming in the medieval fish trap but my immediate concern after all of that was with the repairs that are being undertaken on the medieval city walls.

This part of the wall here in the Rue du Nord looks as if it’s completely finished now and they have made a really good job of it. Although it wasn’t part of the wall that was under threat, there is no need now to worry about this.

All of the scaffolding has been taken down and the road is open to traffic again. It’s just fenced off now to prevent people leaning on the wall while the mortar cures.

repairing medieval city walls rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022While I was here I stood on the top of the steps to have a look at the outside of the wall.

Unfortunately we can’t see all that much here but it’s pointless going down to the bottom of the steps because it’s all sheathed in a shroud of scaffolding netting.

Nevertheless it looks as if the work here is going to be finished soon too. So what’s the next bit that they’l lbe doing that will keep them here for as long as the guy with whom I spoke a few weeks ago said that they would be staying.

Anyway, that’s a problem for another time.

helicopter baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022Right now I headed off down the path further on underneath the walls.

Down there I was overflown by a helicopter, one that I don’t recall seeing before. I can’t even say whether it’s a military helicopter or a civilian one and there’s no clue visible that might enable me to identify it.

Further on down the path I had a good look at the crowds on the beach at the Plat Gousset. Hordes of people down there today enjoying themselves, parasols and sunshades and all.

The problem wth this is that the tide comes in here quite quickly, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall. This causes people to scamper to the protection of the promenade, just saving their essentials. Everything else, like their litter, is left behind and that’s how come there’s a lot of plastic floating around in the sea.

seagull chicks rue des juifs Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022From the viewpoint over the Plat Gousset I wandered off around into the Square Maurice Marland.

There weren’t too many people here this afternoon but my interest was in the seagull chicks on one of the roofs in the Rue des Juifs on which we’ve been keeping an eye over the last few weeks.

These three seem to have grown quite considerably now and they look in the best of health, which is nice to see.

What else was nice to see was the ladder that the neighbour had put up against the roof and the tubs of water that have been put there for the seagull chicks to drink.

Obviously not everyone agrees with this policy of exterminating them

cap pilar hermes 1 port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022A little further along the path I stopped to see what was happening in the inner harbour.

Marité is still all at sea, just as I feel myself at times these days. However over there against the quayside is Cap Pilar and Hermes I. Both of these trawlers feature quite regularly on our pages.

Also on the quayside is a pile of freight, and also a pile of scrap metal. The scrap seems to suggest that Thora has been in port very recently. She brings in a lot of scrap from Jersey to be weighed in here whenever she has some spare room.

From the Square Maurice Marland I headed back towards home via the Rie Notre Dame.

brocante rue notre dame Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022Today is the day of the annual brocante in the old town here and I was expecting to see crowds of folk browsing around.

But that’s not the case today. For a start, there were only half the stalls here compared to previous years. And only half the people too. It seems that the hot weather has kept many people away, both stallholders and visitors too.

And as usual, I didn’t stop for a look around. I’ve been here before of course, and found that some people’s idea of the value of junk is totally different from mine

Instead I headed for home. I had some coconut drink in the fridge that needed drinking and this was the right time to drink it, especially with three large ice cubes.

Earlier on this afternoon I’d made another pile of pizza dough seeing that I’d run out.

There was some whole-wheat flour on sale at Leclerc so I’d bought some for my pizza. I wasn’t happy with the industrial bleached flour that I used last time.

vegan pizza place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo July 2022After it had proofed I divided it into three. 2 lumps went into the freezer and I rolled out the third one and put it in the pizza tray.

When it was ready I assembled it and put it in the oven to bake.

Strangely enough it didn’t taste as nice as previous versions of the pizza. It’s not the base – that’s good enough (although it took some cutting) but maybe one of the toppings. But whatever it was, it’s given me the wind.

Perhaps I ought to go outside with a kite. I dunno.

Tomorrow morning I’m radioing again. There’s another programme to make that I can add into the queue so I’m going to have an early night. After all, an 06:00 start needs a lot of sleep just like anything else.

Saturday 12th February 2022 – HAVING BEEN DEPRIVED …

… of really good company for quite some considerable time, Alison and I had hatched a cunning plan last time I was here. Subsequently we had been in touch with Jackie in Köln and suggested that we meet up for a day and exchange our news. After all, it’s been two years since we last met.

And so, seeing as Aachen is halfway in between the two of us, we set off this morning by car.

Not that I was feeling too much like it because it had been another rotten night.

As I mentioned yesterday I was in bed early and although the party that started at about 00:30 wasn’t anything at all like last night but what did happen was that I had another series of regular voyages that overwhelmed the dictaphone.

We started off in World War I last night. There was something about this arty (do I mean “artillery”?) regiment that I’d encountered that had turned up at Ieper somewhere where there had been some crucial fighting in November 1914 where the Germans had been pushing either side of the British and a British salient had been created. This was one of the crucial moments of the war and of course the area was totally devastated. I was talking to a soldier from this unit. He was saying that they had only been in this particular area for a weekend or so. It wasn’t actually in the thick of the fighting but it was pretty close to it. We were talking about the area and the history because with it being in the cockpit of Europe it was a pretty vital place. Battles had been fought here for years and all kinds of stuff had been uncovered in the past but the war had come and obliterated everything. He said to me that it was all very interesting to me of course. We talked about some of the bodies that had been found here and one in particular that had belonged to a regiment that had had 100% casualties during a charge. A couple of other regiments that had gone to relieve them had also had 100% casualties. One body that had been found subsequently must have been something of a hero to have gone like that. This conversation went on for quite some time.

Later on we were going somewhere last night walking by a canal looking at an old ruined cottage there and some kind of crane with a platform dangling from the grab. This cottage had been burnt to the ground practically. It turned out that it belonged to someone and they had discovered several structural defects in it. They had been trying to repair it but the thng had caught fire and gone up. The crane and platform were there for when they needed to make a bridge to take machinery over there and demolish it. This was in the parish magazine that some woman not my mother had had and as she had a mailbox I couldn’t understand why she had had it every time. There were several other magazines, including one about cars and a foreign boy who lived there sad that he had put it for me. There were a couple of conjunctions so he said that he had written some notes for me. I chucked that away but this parish magazine was very interesting and so was another article about some kind of meeting that everyone had had, some exhibition or something. It seemed to me that for the environmental group that we were running we could have made a really good magazine out of all of this. We could have had some names and e-mails from the people who attended this meeting, made a really good newsletter and hoped to push on and do something like that every month or so.. This was my one big opportunity and it had gone

Meanwhile, up in my room I was sharing a room with Zero. She wasn’t there but the room was in a real mess. She had shoes all over the place so the first thing that I wanted to do was to tidy up her shoes so I said to whoever it was I was with – a woman – that I would have to find one of these plastic boxes to put all her shoes in. She produced one immediately but I came up with some excuse why we couldn’t use that because I wasn’t really ready to do it just then. Yes, imagine this? Me sharing a room with Zero and she isn’t in it!

There was something else about this woman too. Her mother was going into an old people’s home and was looking at one in Union Street. pointed out that the one in Shavington by the Vine pub was being expanded and having new rooms so maybe she could get her in there. I thought that Shavington would be a much nicer place because it was a smaller village, you can’t go far, you can’t get lost, everything that you need is there, shops and everything and with it being quiet there was less risk of being knocked down than an old people’s home in a rundown area on the edge of Crewe Town Centre. Whoever it was put my comments down to some kind of loyalty about Shavington than any kind of practical consideration which was a shame because I really did think that it was so much better.

I was also at Liverpool football ground last night. They were discussing the remodelling of the stadium and all the crowd had to fit into a room that was the size of a normal living room. They were discussing ways to make it more safe and fit more people in. I thought that if they were only going to be havng 50 people at the most then they are wasting their time, aren’ they? This discussion went on for hours about whether they should put this extra level in. I was saying that they could knock a hole through where the kitchen is and have a bar, stuff like that. It was really getting out of hand. And then the subject drifted round to players. There were some people from Crewe there. It seems that they were interested in taking on trial a player from Crewe and they were trying to work out which one it was. In the end they had to aska girl who worked at Crewe – they had to ask her her name and check her writing. In the end they came up with a name. They thought that it woukd be “somebody Thomas” and that immediately meant about three or four different players. In the end end they had an idea whom it might be and asked me to go and fetch him. I said “OK but tell me who it isn’t” so they said it was “something Thomas”, a double-barrelled surname to go and not fetch him. Then the conversation continued about players from Egypt and the Ukraine. Someone took the paper from me and gave me another paper and it was for a guy called Olivier Ochoi and that was now the player that I had to fetch to bring up here. I asked them “are you sure this time?” and the general consensus seemed to be “yes”.

On the subject of football it was also the Welsh Premier League Final between Newtown and Aberystwyth and was taking place somewhere I can’t remember. I was up early at 06:30 and drove all the way out to where it was. The were busy setting out the hall there for spectators to come along and watch the game. It was a big hall shaped like a figure 8 bit wuth 2 squares and a joining piece. In one of these was a TV and someone was busy arranging a TV in front of it so that he and his friends could watch it. I explained that last time there was a play-off final, in the other room they had a big 225″ TV and arranged all the chairs in semi-circles around to watch so I didn’t think that what he was doing was going to work. Having checked out the place I had then to go back home for all my stuff and the radio stuff because I was going to do some radio interviewing for the game. I went outside, it was still dark and the whole car was starting to freeze up. I had some trouble trying to remember what key it was because it wasn’t the usual car. I eventually managed to open the door and I got in. Some young boy opened the window at the back – it was a rear-engined car – and asked me if I needed any help for this, any help for that. I replied “no” so he asked what I was going to do about this, what was I going to do about that and kept asking so persistently. In the end I got out of the car, picked up his bike and threw it over the fence into a field. He had a run off after it but then he came back and tried to get nto the car and tried to steal something out of the car. I had to get out and go to deal with that

Anyway I stepped back into this dream about this football match. I was in this car and we had all arranged to meet at a service station on the A55. That was where everyone met up but no-one still knew where it was going on. I was sitting down there trying to pass the time waiting for a decision to be made. I ended up talking to someone. We had a really good chat and I was sorting through a few boxes of stuff that they had. When I looked at my watch it was 14:20. I looked around and everyone else had gone. I scrambled over to try to find someone now. I went to the reception desk to ask if they knew where everyone had gone. They said that is was something like “Fingland” but of course that meant absolutely nothing to me. There was only 40 minutes to kick-off and I hadn’t a clue where I was going to go. I thought “how on earth am I going to find out now where I’m supposed to be heading now that everyone else has gone and cleared off.

Anyway when the alarm went off I was out of bed fairly quickly and by the time that Alison arrived I was actually ready.

It was freezing outside as we set off, and we had a really good chat all the way to Aachen.

Jackie arrived at the station just as we did. We parked the car and then headed off into the centre.

barbarella cafe aachen germany Eric Hall photo February 2022Our day turned into trip to various coffee houses, restaurants and shops.

Alison knew a good café around the corner from where we had parked the car and so we headed that way. The coffee was really nice there and the cakes that the girls tried were delicious too. There may have been vegan cakes I suppose, but I didn’t ask. Having had toast for breakfast I wasn’t hungry.

It was in an area of the city that I don’t really know so when we left, I was surprised to find that we were only just around the corner from the Rathaus, and isn’t the German name for a Town Hall really appropriate?.

The main shopping centre is on the other side of the city so we headed off that way.

roman remains aachen germany Eric Hall photo February 2022The site is known to have been inhabited for almost 5000 years but perhaps its best-know period was that under the Romans from the beginning of the First Century until its evacuation, which appears to have taken place round about 383AD. No Roman coin has been discovered here later than that date.

There are plenty of Roman remains here in the city, especially those here in the Elisengarten.
We made quite a tour of the shops and the two girls found a load of interesting stuff to take home with them.

And as well as that, I wasn’t left out of the shopping either. I found some of that really nice vegan cheese that I used to buy in Montlucon, and the two girls bought me a pile of that lovely vegan chocolate for my birthday.

spa elisenbrunnen pavilion cathedral st folian church aachen germany Eric Hall photo February 2022From the shopping precinct we can see across the road to the Elisenbrunnen Pavilion.

The Roman name of the town was Aquae Grannae – the waters of Grannus – and the most popular source from where the water can be obtained is from over there. However there’s a big notice by the outlet that says “not for drinking”. I should really have brought something in which I could have taken some water away.

Although it’s often said that the pavilion was built in the 1820s, it was in fact destroyed by bombing during World War II and this replica was built in the early 1950s.

Lunch was nice too, at one of these franchised bio restaurants down at the side of the spa. My salad was delicious. And then we went back to the shops.

As darkness fell we went for another coffee and then dropped Jackie off at the railway station for her train back home. At the station we fell foul of a German police patrol. “That’s why I moved from Germany” said Alison, and I could see her point. It was all extremely unnecessary and I admired her for her calm.

When she dropped me off at home I wandered round to the fritkot but they were overflowing with customers and weren’t taking any more orders before they closed. It was lucky that I had some pasta left.

There’s an 05:00 start in the morning ready for my trip home so right now I’m off to bed. Not that I’m expecting a better night that I’ve had just recently but we have to make an effort and if necessary I can sleep on the train.