Tag Archives: labrador

Saturday 25th November 2023 – I WAS HAPPY …

… that it was today that I went on the bus to the shops and not yesterday.

Yesterday was a cold, wet windy miserably day but today was one of the nicest days that we’ve had for ages and it was a real pleasure to be out.

It was the kind of day where, had things been different, I’d have made a flask of piping hot coffee and gone for a nice long walk northwards along the coast with the camera, but how things have changed in that respect.

Things changed a little in bed last night too because I seem to have had something of a rather more relaxed night. That’s a good thing from the point of view of sleep but a bad thing from the point of view of adventure. The only adventures I have these days are these rather vicarious ones at second hand as my ethereal spirit goes walkabout during the night.

At the hospital they keep on asking me if I want sleeping pills, and I keep on turning them down. My little nocturnal voyages are about all the fun that I have, given the way that things have turned out.

When the alarm went off I fell out of bed and struggled to my feet, and then having dressed, I toddled off into the dining area to take my medication.

Back here I transcribed the dictaphone notes from last night – and it didn’t take me long. I was with a bunch of pirates last night. We’d gone ashore in the High Arctic somewhere amidst all the snow and the ice. Some of the descriptions that the crew was giving off about the are in which they found themselves were extremely poetic, including things like “if it wasn’t for the cold you’d never realise the danger” etc. A couple of the crew wandered away during the night to explore and we didn’t know if we’d be lucky enough to see them next morning etc. As it became light next morning we were rounded up into some kinds of fishing parties. We’d tried to do some fishing the evening before and had caught some cod but this morning we were going to go out on a full-scale fishing operation to revictual the ship. That involved a couple of the rowing boats with a net spread between them and the two rowing boats rowing round in a circle towards each other to tighten the catch inside the net. We were busy organising this when I suddenly awoke

It’s a shame that it ended at that point because I would have loved to have seen how our fishing expedition unfolded. When Richard Hakluyt transcribed John Cabot’s notes in order to include them for publication in his “Principall Navigations” in 1589 he came across Cabot’s delightful description of the Labrador coast and "The cod were in largeness and quantitie … that they stayed our ships".

When my book about the Labrador coast finally hits the shelves, you’ll notice the difference. Constant over-fishing by industrial trawlers decimated the cod fishery so much that in 1992 the Canadian Government imposed a moratorium on cod-fishing. And so all the big industrial trawlers moved off elsewhere and the small subsistence fisherman along the coast was deprived of his livelihood and fell into desolation and despair.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall us working our way down the Nova Scotia coast on our voyages of 2003 and 2010 when we picked our way through the decay and dereliction of piles of abandoned fishing equipment.

strawberry moose, buccaneer, near moyock, north carolina, usa, eric hall, photo, 30th september 2017But while we’re on the subject of pirate ships … "well, one of us is" – ed … we’ve encountered pirate ships before.

In 2017 when we were on our way back from visiting Rhys in South Carolina STRAWBERRY MOOSE and I came across a pirate ship. His Nibs quickly recruited an ad-hoc crew and set sail for the Spanish Main in order to wreak havoc amongst the treasure ships heading back from New Spain to the Old World.

And as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, his antics on the High Seas on his way home from looking after Kathryn at University in Ontario in 2011 led to questions being asked in the Canadian Parliament.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed there was a story about me being at some kind of formal party with about half a dozen other people, having an enormous amount of difficulty trying to keep still, having to keep moving my legs quite regularly. This led to some kind of commotion about food but I can’t now remember very much about this issue of food except that it was something that had caused it.

There was time for a quick wash and brush-up and then I headed for the bus. He was late arriving and with not being able to move around it was quite cold.

However there was a really beautiful blue sky. Jersey stood out really clearly on the horizon this morning and it looked as if I could reach out and touch the Brittany coast across the bay, it was so clear.

There was no ice or frost on the car windscreens which is no surprise as we are only 50 feet from the sea here and in the face of the prevailing westerly winds, but once we were out of the wind, all of the cars parked at the side of the road were iced up.

At St Nicolas no-one made the sign of the Cross today, but after I’d done my shopping I had a pleasant chat about historic buildings with the guy drinking coffee next to me as I waited for my bus home.

The only marzipan that they had was this tricolour stuff but I don’t suppose that it matters under icing. I have to use what I can.

They did have soya yogurt to make my naan bread but it’s only sold in packets of 8 so I’ll be making a lot of naan bread dough tomorrow.

Coming back up the stairs was another nightmare. There’s no doubt that I’m actually moving easier – that was quite evident today and I’m pleased about that – but I can’t lift my leg high enough to climb the steps and we had another gymnastics morning.

But I’ll have to have a word with Severine when I see her again and find out what she can do for me.

Having put the food away I made my cheese on toast and then came in here, where I promptly fell asleep.

A ‘phone call awoke me. The paperwork has come in from the engineer and the co-property committee has decided that they want a couple more quotes. Could I organise it?

When I lived in Expo, that was a co-property and there were enormous issues about an apartment owner who would launch himself into all kinds of unauthorised adventures and then bombard the committee with all kind sof paperwork, and I remember very well many of the issues that arose.

Consequently, I told them that if they give me an authorisation I’ll do it quite happily but I’m not doing it without any authorisation.

This afternoon I soaked all my fruit – and found that although I had all kinds of things in my baking box I didn’t have any glacé cherries, or bigarreaux confits as they call them around here. They had some advertised in LeClerc’s home delivery catalogue so I hope that they’ll still be in stock when I send off my order.

So we now have currants, sultanas, raisins, figs, cranberries, some of that dried gelified fruit, desiccated coconut, ground almonds, banana chips, dried orange chips and the odd partridge in a pear tree divided into two lots – a small one for the pudding and a big one for the cake – soaking in a mixture of vanilla, fleur d’orange, rum essence, brandy essence, all kinds of spices and probably a few other things too.

It’ll be in there for a week or 10 days, being stirred and fed with more liquid over that period ready for a baking session next weekend.

But the essences of rum and brandy are interesting. It’s not available in France – after all, if you have the real stuff, why use artificial? But there’s a chain of shops called “Bulk Barn” in all of the big cities in Canada – something like an old UK “Weigh and Save” on steroids.

Rural Canada is just like the 1950s which is why I really like it, and home baking and that kind of thing are major occupations. And when I was in the one in Fredericton last year I made a wonderful discovery and several bottles of essence found their way into my suitcase for future use.

And by God is it strong!

Back here afterwards I crashed out again, for ages this time, and since then I’ve been de-duplicating one of the backup drives.

Tea tonight was baked potato with salad and a veggie burger in breadcrumbs and that was as delicious as usual.

So now I’m off for a hot drink or two and then I’ll dictate the radio notes ready for tomorrow when I’ll prepare the programme. There’s naan dough to make as well as I’ve now run out.

Something else that I’ve run out of is chocolate biscuits. However when tidying up the shelves the other say I found a couple of packets of industrial ones about which I’d forgotten. I’ll finish these off and bake another batch of biscuits next weekend.

That should keep me out of mischief for a while.

Saturday 22nd July 2023 – AS YOU MIGHT …

… expect, I’ve spent much of the afternoon asleep. Going to the shops this morning was, once again, far too much for me.

It might have helped if I’d had a decent night’s sleep but apart from going to bed later than I would have liked, I had to get up in the middle of the night for a reason that anyone of my age would tell you.

A few years ago that was quite a normal thing, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, but I thought that I’d put it all behind me a long time ago.

When the alarm went off I was deep in the Arms of Morpheus and I had a struggle to leave my stinking pit before the second alarm.

But once I’d organised myself (which takes much longer these days than it ought) Caliburn and I headed out to the shops.

There was a parking space at the front of Noz so I could go there without a struggle. Mind you, I needn’t have bothered because there wasn’t anything interesting. I bought a couple more of those breadcrumbed quorn fillets and a couple more packets of digestives. I think that I have all of those now.

LeClerc didn’t come up with anything out of the ordinary. There was some falafel on offer, 350 grammes for €3:09 so I bought a box of those for the freezer seeing as the stocks are running down.

Back here I had my cheese on toast for brunch and then ended up yet again with another mug of very cold coffee after several hours flat out on the chair in the office.

There was some stuff on the dictaphone from the night. There were some people outside a courtroom who had some kind of tube with a candle in it. The idea was that as they took a brick out of the wall of this building and pushed this tube with a candle through the home they could somehow hear the proceedings of what was going on on the inside. They managed to remove the brick by putting 2 screws in it, twisting it round and pulling and then inserted the tube. It went into the room and was disguised by a window shutter on the inside that was folded back. There was me and someone else in there being tried for something or other. In all probability we were going to be found guilty. The penalty for this was death, which we knew very well Many people thought that we might just be transported but we were convinced that we were going to die. The one guy with me had some plans of his own and I also had some plans. I was going to have a way to sneak out of this prison one night before we would be moved away. I ended up at my friend’s in the Bourgogne on New Years Eve. He, his wife and I had a little party. He brought me a few items of food that he’d made himself and we were settling down to have a really nice evening. After everyone went to bed I took the opportunity to take his car and drive off and disappear, hopefully making good my escape.

Later on I had to go into work. As my brother was around I brought him with me. There was a group of us who were going. We reached the Place Madou. I explained to him that it was extremely complicated to manoeuvre around here and it’ll be even worse on the way back because of the one-way system against us. We crossed over the road and I had to look for the side street. Some of the people with me went off down the side street without any problem. For some reason I had a mental blank and couldn’t think where the side street was. I tried 3 or 4 back entries to shops etc. Suddenly I remembered where it was. I shouted at my brother to come but he was too busy looking himself. He wouldn’t come for a minute. In the end I started to go and he began to follow me. We bumped into our friends again who were waiting for us around the corner wondering what on earth had been the matter and what had been going on with us.

I was also on the radio last night. We’d been doing a series of programmes. One of them was about different pet foods. It turned out that the pet food we recommended was being run down. You couldn’t find it any more in the shops. I went to a grocer’s to try to find it. There was also something to do with someone asking why were we advertising events so far away when we don’t tell anyone anything about things in the area. I answered that that’s because people in the area don’t tell us about their events. Someone asked about a special offer for soup that was available at the local supermarket. I was in the supermarket at the time so we had a look around and found the offer but it had expired 2 years ago. There was a woman working in the supermarket who worked for the radio who I asked to do something. I gave her the information to collate but she was just sitting there at her desk not doing anything. She told me that she was waiting for bits and pieces but I couldn’t understand that because she didn’t actually need anything. I’d given her everything that she needed and I was beginning to become extremely frustrated by all of this

Rosemary rang me up too and we had another one of our mega-chats. It’s been a while since we have had a good chat. It’s quite funny really. We can talk for hours on the telephone but we don’t actually say all that much.

There wasn’t much time to spend on my trip to Canada. I managed to write some stuff but once more I was side-tracked. In 1848 Bishop Feild (and that’s not a spelling mistake) of St John’s in Newfoundland decided to go to visit the coasts of Labrador.

There’s no record that I can find of a priest having visited there before and it was really only about 20 years or so after the first settlers had made their home there. He kept a diary of his visit, which is really probably the earliest erudite account of “liveyer” or settler life out on the Labrador coast, and I managed to track down a copy of it.

Consequently I’ve been immersed in its pages. It’s full of all kinds of interesting anecdotes, including reports of the first marriage ceremonies carried out on the Labrador coast.

“Nine couples were married, and one couple rejected, because the man, as it appeared, had lived with another woman, whom he had deserted, or turned off… He is an Englishman from Devonshire—no credit, I fear, to his country or Church.”.

Tea was one of the breaded quorn fillets with chips and salad, delicious as ever and properly cooked too.

So seeing as I’m exhausted I’m going to dictate the radio notes now that it’s quiet, and I’ll sleep until I awaken. There’s nothing to do tomorrow so if necessary I can even catch up with my beauty sleep. And having looked in the mirror just recently, I certainly need it.

Friday 14th July 2023 – MY SAUSAGE BEANS AND CHIPS …

… tonight were absolutely excellent, and cheered me up after another miserable night.

And something rather unusual happened last night. I was in the middle of dictating a dream when suddenly there was silence and I then heard myself snoring. But strangely I was only asleep for about 8 minutes according to the timestamp and in that time I went off on another little ramble

That’s something that has never happened before, as far as I’m aware. I’ve gone back to sleep in the middle of dictating something but usually that has been that for quite a while.

All it all it was rather a mobile night and I was flat out when the alarm went off.

After the medication and checking my mails and messages I had a chat with Liz – the first for a while – and then a listen to the dictaphone to unravel my voyages of the night. It was school holidays so we’d all gone down to Kent. We were in the sea just a little way offshore and there was a girl there but I can’t remember any more about it.

We were then discussing the football. In one of these second legs one team had changed its entire back line and gone with a completely different set of defenders and midfielders. While we were discussing it we learned that one of the football managers who’d been on the park a couple of days earlier had died during the night but we didn’t get round to working out which one it was

There was a group of us who had been to Shrewsbury for something, a concert or whatever. We’d met some Ukrainian refugees. At the end we said goodbye to everyone and set out to walk back to London. I was in charge, showing the way. At one point I took the wrong turning at a roundabout and found that we were going back towards the town centre. We had to turn round and walk back the way we’d just come, re-join our tracks and carry on out of the city into the countryside. As we were doing that a couple of people from our party disappeared. We found them in a restaurant on the side of the street where one of these refugee people was with his family. We had a lengthy chat with them. Just as we were leaving the woman took us aside to ask how many there were of us. She counted and there were 7. She said that it’s because her husband and her friend wanted to buy us all a present. We thought that was strange because we hardly knew them but she was completely adamant about it.

At some point in the proceedings my brother was involved. I had to take something to a town in Scotland in the car. The guy told me where to go but when I arrived there was no-one around. A couple of minutes later he rang me again to ask where I was. I told him that I’d been there but didn’t see anyone. I was sitting in the side of this street for quite a while. In the end he agreed to come to find me where I was. he said something about a red engine but what I had in the back of my van was certainly not a red engine. I wondered if I had the correct thing. There was something in this town that I had to take away. I said to my brother “if I end up not dropping off this engine I’ll need someone else to take away this other thing”. He said that he’d do it for the petrol money. I told him to mark down his mileage. Then I had to sit and wait for this person to turn up.

I’d kidnapped a girl and was going to take her back to my camp. We set out to walk back to my camp. She was complaining that her feet were hurting. With my conjuring trick I summoned up some shoes and socks … fell asleep here … we were walking up the side of this motorway but she said that her feet were hurting so I magicked up a pair of suitable shoes and socks that she put on and said that it was so much better

While I was asleep in the middle of that dream I was kitting out an ambulance. There was an attendant who was rather miserable like Goldstein in The Navy Lark who was always moaning. We were kitting out this second ambulance to replace Caliburn. The idea was to take it for an MoT without saying that it’s mine to see whether it makes any difference and then start to arrange all the stuff. We’d be able to put away the stuff but it was all in some kind of haphazard order. I wanted it tidying out but the orderly guy was rather upset. I told him just to get on with it, we’ll do some and he can do the rest. He didn’t like the order in which I was putting stuff in the van but that was a shame, too bad. He made a few comments but I didn’t really take all that much notice about them

There was more to it than that too but you really don’t want to know about it right now, especially if you are eating your meal.

It was just as well that I’d done that homework last night and some revision this morning because in our Welsh lesson we were thrown straight in. We were hard at it all day but even so we didn’t finish the course. We missed out quite a bit.

Still, I don’t suppose that you can have everything.

It’s over now so I have a couple of weeks to forget everything before my month of full-time education begins. That should be fun on Zoom too and I’ll probably be worn to a frazzle by the end of it.

When it was all over I had my hot chocolate and home-made biscuits and then I relaxed somewhat.

In an on-line library I found the diary of Dr Eliot Curwen so I borrowed it for a read.

There was no Government medical service on the Labrador coast until, would you believe, 1982. In 1892 Wilfred Grenfell had come out from the UK as part of the Mission to Deep-Sea Fishermen and he was so appalled by the poverty that he saw that he left the Mission, set up the International Grenfell Association to provide medical care.

Rather than having a hospital to which the people could travel (although there were eventually a couple created) the hospital travelled to the people. It was actually a small steam-boat in which he and his “WOPs” – volunteers who came “with-out pay” – worked up and down the coast

Grenfell was really something of a showman and entertainer and so his published accounts should be interpreted carefully, but Curwen, who came out as a WOP on Grenfell’s second voyage was a naïve, innocent college graduate from a well-heeled background and the distaste and horror of what he saw oozed from every page.

He recounts one occasion where he tried to photograph a family but the father wouldn’t let the children come out of their sod hut. He eventually found the reason – and that was that the children didn’t have one single item of clothing between them.

There’s a story of a father who tramped the countryside for miles trying to find food for his starving family. Returning unsuccessfully, he chased his wife and eldest children away from the house as they could manage independently, killed his three youngest children with an axe and then shot himself.

At roughly the same time as this, Captain William Kennedy, captain of HMS Druid out on Fisheries patrol off the Labrador coast wrote in his autobiography “these poor trampled-down folk, who never see a coin of the realm, are told they are British subjects. It’s an idle mockery. Under the truck system they are ground down and half starved, having often nothing but corn-cake and molasses to eat in the winter, and not sufficient clothing to enable them to withstand the rigorous climate at that season … On our visits round the island, we met with sights enough to sicken us, and make us ashamed to think that these poor creatures were British subjects like ourselves.”

Labrador didn’t become part of Canada until 1949. Prior to that it was a British colony

As I said earlier, tea was delicious. I’m not sure what I’m going to do when I run out of British baked beans because those elsewhere taste totally different. In Canada for example the tins are packed full of corn syrup and taste awful. They aren’t all that much better over here.

Tomorrow I’m shopping, if the weather has improved. It was horrible today with storms, high winds, gusts of rain, just about everything that you don’t really want in mid-July. If necessary I can stay in because I have sufficient to keep me going but I’ll go stir-crazy if I don’t go out.

It reminds me of four years ago when we were on THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR on our Arctic Expedition for 3 months and everyone was developing Cabin Fever by the end of it.

It has to be said that it would have been a much better voyage if a couple of people I could think of hadn’t been on it. But there again, they would probably say the same thing about me.

Sunday 28th May 2023 – A BIG HAPPY …

… birthday to Caliburn. He’s growing up – sixteen years old today.

And we’ve had plenty of adventures together, usually accompanied by the third member of our team, STRAWBERRY MOOSE. We’ve been to about half the countries in Europe together, battled our way through snowdrifts and mountain passes, towed mini-diggers all the way from North Lancashire down to the south-ish of France non-stop on a 34-hour journey, gone off to photograph a suspension bridge 2 hours down the road and not come back for almost 3 weeks and endless shuttles from Brussels to Virlet overnight in the early days of our relationship

At his last controle technique the examiner told me that he still has a few years left so it’s likely that he’ll outlast me, so here’s to many more years of happy Caliburn motoring.

The only regret was that I never succeeded in taking him over to North America for a run around. We had all of our ducks in a row at one time but then Strider came along and he was a much more appropriate vehicle with which to attack the sub-Arctic byways. Caliburn, good as he has been, would never have got down to that abandoned iron mine at the abandoned town of Gagnon.

It seems that I’m being overwhelmed with nostalgia over the last few days and I’ve no idea why. It’s probably because I have too much time on my hands right now. Perhaps I ought to do something about that – like “go back to bed and sleep it off”.

Last night was one occasion when staying in bed sounded like a good idea because it’s a Sunday and that’s always a lie-in around here. I’ll get up at any time you like for 6 days of the week, but never on Sunday. Everyone’s entitled to a day of rest.

So even if I awaken at something silly like 09:00, 10:30 is much more like a realistic time to show a leg.

It took me a while to gather my wits which, seeing how few wits I have these days, is quite surprising. But once I’d entered the Land of the Living the first thing that I did was to listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. We started off with something happening about oil filters on vehicles, yellow heavy-duty plastic spin-on ones rather than filter cartridges that you’d have to change but I can’t remember very much about this dream at all.

And then I was working as a lorry driver for someone. We were extremely busy. Someone had gone off sick and I’d had another spell of ill-health so I ended up taking a couple of days off. He had a lorry loaded with waste that needed tipping somewhere so he rang around and ended up speaking to a woman who was a lorry driver and asked her if she would do it. He explained the urgency of it, which I thought was strange because it would give this woman a lot of power over him if she knew how urgent the job was. I could hear the conversation because I was in bed in the next room. She sounded dubious and asked him “what had happened to so-and-so?”. He replied that there was something the matter with him. She asked what was the matter with me. He gave some sort of reply that basically he thought that I was malingering, which I thought was a horrible thing to do because I’d never ever missed a shift as long as I’d worked for him and had volunteered to do all the extra stuff.

After breakfast, or lunch, or whatever you might call it, I sat down and made a start on work.

Yesterday, I mentioned that I was going to go on the attack with my Labrador stuff so I sat down and reviewed the directories that I’ve been keeping.

Up to 2015, everything is all shipshape and Bristol-fashion. But then I had all of my hospital issues and then went to live in Leuven and since then everything went haywire and it’s just a complete mess.

For a start, I can’t find any trace whatsoever of any of my notes from my 2017 trek around Labrador so I’ve decided that I shall have to go back to basics and start from the very beginning.

There are the dictaphone notes – well, some of them – and then the blog notes from the relevant periods and that seems like a very good place to start.

But then you won’t believe this but I had to have a really good hard think because I’d forgotten how I write my websites. Back in the old days I’d be churning them out on a regular basis but since my health issues over the last 8 years I’ve not written more than half a dozen.

That’s the problem with growing older thought. Two things happen to you when you reach my age. The first thing is that you forget absolutely everything.
What’s the second thing?” – ed.
“I can’t remember”

Anyway, even just collating the stuff from 2017 is going to take an age, never mind adding it in to the earlier voyages.

What’s worse is that I can’t find the mileage notes.

With travelling several years over the 2100 kms of the Trans Labrador Highway and taking a couple of thousand photos, it’s important to have them all in the correct order and in the correct positions. And although I noted the mileages because I anticipated this problem, I’ve travelled the highway in both directions so the eastbound mileages are not the same as the westbound mileages of course.

Back in the past (or past in the back if you are George Bush) I managed to identify a couple of identical views taken from each direction on different occasions so I used them as reference points and calculated all of the mileages of every photo from every trip to correspond with those marker references. But if I can’t find my notes I’ll have to go back and do it all again, I reckon. That’ll take a while and no mistake.

There was a break while I made s batch of pizza dough, seeing as I’d run out. It rose quite nicely too. Two lumps went into the freezer later on and I made a base with the third. And once more, we had a magnificent pizza. Using these small cherry tomatoes cut in half and putting them on top of the cheese is definitely the way to go.

So before I go to bed I’m going to make a start on editing the radio notes that I dictated last night. I had a go recording them directly onto the computer now that I’ve configured it, however the quality was really poor and it all ended up in the bin and I redictated it using the ZOOM H8.

Had I been of a mind, and had it not been 01:00 when I finished, I suppose that I could have filtered out the interference and enhanced the quality, but I’ll have to work on that for another time.

Tomorrow I’ll finish off the radio programmes and then carry on with the Canada 2017 stuff. Right now I’m on a bus heading through the mountains to pick up Strider. There’s a really long way to go yet.

We haven’t reached the funny part of the whole trip though and I’ll dine out on this for ever, I reckon. That year I went to see my friend in St John’s so that meant the long sea crossing across the Gulf of St Lawrence to Argentia instead of the short (as in 9 hours) crossing to Channel Port aux Basques.

“Roaming” was switched off on my telephone of course because it’s quite expensive in North America but as we were sailing along the southern coast of Newfoundland the phone suddenly went berserk with missed phone calls, messages and all of that kind of thing and at first I was bewildered.

However there’s a French colony – St Pierre et Miquelon – on an island in the Gulf of St Lawrence and obviously my French mobile network supplier provides the service to it. For a brief moment my telephone connected with the network and caught up with everything that I’d been missing.

That explains all of that, but it still doesn’t explain the situation in 2019 when we were in mid-Atlantic, 1000 miles from just about everywhere on board THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR, and I suddenly picked up an internet connection out of nowhere. I’ve never been able to explain that.

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

… out the freezer this morning.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday 22nd December 2021 – ALL OF THE …

repointed wall Rampe du Monte à Regret Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021… scaffolding has gone from the Rampe du Monte à Regret, I noticed today.

It looks as if all of the repointing of the wall has now finished, they’ve dismantled the scaffolding, picked up their tools and, as Longfellow once wrote, “shall fold their tents, like the Arabs and as silently steal away.”.

As for the quality of the work, they’ve mixed the mortar too dry by the looks of things. It won’t percolate into the stone and so will eventually solidify and drop out and they’ll have to do it all over again.

christmas market place pleville le pelley Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021You are probably thinking that that means that I can now take the short cut and go down the steps to the street.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case. The Christmas market is in full swing down there and the whole area is cordoned off. There’s just one entrance and that’s at street level, where there’s a security guard checking Covid passports.

As I type out these notes I’m actually supposed to be down there. A group has been in touch with me about doing a live show for my radio programme and they are playing there tonight.

But if anyone thinks that I’m standing outside in a bitter wind for 2 hours with a temperature of minus 1°C they are mistaken.

And it was freezing this morning too. Winter has come with quite a bang just now. I was freezing when I awoke – at 06:45, about 45 minutes before the alarm went off.

At least I managed to leap out of bed with alacrity (and you all thought that I slept on my own) and dress rather hurriedly before I froze to death.

home made bread place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021After the medication I came in here to check my mails and messages, and then went back into Ice Station Zebra to make the bread for this coming week now that I’ve finished off the bread that I’d brought back from Leuven.

Another 500 grammes of flour, a couple of handfuls of sunflower seeds and this time I remembered the Vitamin C tablet too. It all went together really well and kneaded up quite nicely.

It went into the oven and 75 minutes later I had a beautiful, soft loaf of bread with a nice even texture. One of the best that I’ve made so far. My bread-making technique is improving, so it seems.

While I was at it, I cleaned, diced and blanched the 2kg of carrots that I’d bought on Monday. They are waiting for some room to be made in the freezer so I can file them away for future use.

One thing that I needed to do was to listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night. In fact I’d been invited out again for a meal with some people whom I knew. I went off and turned up at this restaurant. I didn’t know these people all that well. There were 2 of them, a guy and a woman who weren’t a couple. We were having a chat and at that moment another girl came down to join us. She was a young girl and dressed so simply but really well, really beautifully that it took my breath away. I made a few complimentary remarks and she blushed I suppose, and sat down. They asked about when the others would turn up. I had heard that someone I used to know and his wife and daughter (who was actually Zero) were coming but they had to go to the dentist’s first so they may not make it depending on what had happened at the dentists, which was going to be something of a shame. They were asking “should be order?”. I replied “no. We’ll have to wait until everyone else turns up and we’ll have to order together, I suppose. That seems to be the normal way of doing things”. However, I did have another reason for not wanting to start until everyone (well, at least one person) was present.

At some point during the night I was walking around the fish docks at some fishing port in the UK. I was doing something at one end of the port where there were a few fishing boats at anchor but I had to walk round the other side of the port where everyone was and that was where you could really smell the fish. Then I had to walk all the way back again but I can’t remember why and I can’t remember what was happening about it all.

As I was off to the physiotherapist this afternoon I needed a shower so I had to wait until the oven had finished backing as I needed the heater in the bathroom. And as a result of everything I ended up having a very late lunch.

freezing fog port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021By now it was time for me to brave the freezing conditions and head up to the physiotherapist.

And you can see how cold it is by looking out beyond the outer harbour into the bay. You can see a layer of freezing fog that’s obscuring the view of the Pointe de Carolles.

It was the first thing that I noticed when I walked round the corner to the viewpoint at the corner of the Boulevard Vaufleury and the Boulevard des 2E et 202E de Ligne.

And although it’s only 14:45 the sun is pretty low in the sky as well, as you can tell. It’s not the kind of weather to be out unless you have to.

jade 3 port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021But talking of being out, the port was quite empty of fishing vessels.

They all must be out at sea this afternoon, except for Jade III that is doing something exciting, having reversed up to the wharf by the fish processing plant. Unfortunately, I can’t see what she’s up to.

There wasn’t much else of any excitement going on around the town so I had a slow, weary trudge up to the physiotherapist. For some unknown reason I wasn’t feeling myself this afternoon which is just as well because it’s a disgusting habit.

At the physiotherapist she put me on the cross trainer for five minutes and then we did some kinetic exercises, finishing off with 5 minutes on the tilting platform. The exercises that I had to do on there were agonising but I suppose that if it hurts men it’s doing me some good – except that it’s hurting me in places where I have no problems and not where I have the issues.

It was a very weary and painful me who staggered into the street when my half-hour was up. And also a very destitute one because it’s the year-end and I had to pay her.

Outdoor Market Place General De Gaulle Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021On the way back I noticed that we had a little mini-outdoor market going on in the Place General de Gaulle.

It usually takes place on Saturday of course and that’s Christmas Day so it looks to me as if they have brought it (or, at least, part of it because there aren’t all that many stalls there) forward to today.

There weren’t all that many people there this afternoon which is really no surprise in this weather, and I felt really sorry for the stallholders who are obliged to stand outside without any real form of shelter from the cold and the wind.

Spirit Of Conrad Aztec Lady Anakena charles marie port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021My weary trudge continued on up the hill towards home. However I stopped to have a look at the charter boats in the port.

On the left is of course our old friend Spirit of Conrad in which we sailed down the Brittany coast in the summer of 2019. To her right is Aztec Lady who has now been liberated from her stay in the chantier naval.

The large blue boat to her right is Anakena, the big boat that is planning to sail up the Norwegian coast next summer if conditions allow, and alongside her under a tarpaulin is CHarles Marie. She doesn’t look as if she’s going anywhere any time soon.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021It goes without saying that before I can go in, I have to go for a look at the beach.

And to my surprise there was someone taking a long, solitary walk out towards the water’s edge. all alone down there without another soul around him (or her). That was a lonely stroll.

Back here I had a coffee and then I had work to do. Someone at the University of Newfoundland is writing a thesis on Paradise River, a settlement of sorts on the Labrador Coast. I’ve visited it on several occasions and have dozens of photographs of the area.

Anyway, to cut a long story short … “hooray” – ed … he’s written to me and asked me if he may use some of my photos to illustrate his thesis. So we agreed a trade – I’ll send him some photographs and he’ll send me a copy of his thesis to add to my pile of Labrador literature.

Consequently I had to sort back through my photos for September 2014 and September 2017 to dig out some good ones for him.

Tea was taco rolls with the leftover stuffing, lengthened with a small tin of kidney beans. And now, as it’s cold and I’m cold, I’m off to warm myself up in bed.

Tomorrow I have to tidy up in my bedroom as I have someone coming round on Friday to record something or other for the radio so the place needs to look as if it’s habitable.

Tuesday 10th November 2020 – WHAT A …

… bad day this was today.

But I could console myself (although it isn’t appropriate to do so) in the fact my day was nothing like as bad as that of some people.

And therein lies the root of it all. Just as I was going to bed last night, one of my dearest friends came on line for a chat and to tell me the news that she has contracted Covid, and is in isolation in a separate room in her own home away from her family.

We ended up talking to each other until about 03:00 about this and that until she decided that she needed to go to sleep. And so no chance of my waking up at 06:00. 09:20 was a bit more like it, and then I would have stayed in bed until later had I had the choice.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I don’t have too many friends – I go for quality, not quantity – but that’s now two of them, in widely separated parts of the World who are suffering. These are probably going to be the first of many. This virus is coming too close for comfort and I’m not sure how the rest of us are going to escape.

And as I write this, I discover that another two friends of mine suffered from it too, but right at the beginning of the outbreak and so they didn’t really publicise it like people would subsequently.

Anyway, with my running late, I had to prepare for my Welsh class, which took longer than it ought, and when the computer, when I switched it on to connect to the Zoom site decided to perform an upgrade. I had a feeling that it was going to be one of those days.

Our teacher didn’t help much either. She took us all the way through the course, all 2.5 hours of it, without a single break and my head had turned to jelly a long time before the end of the class.

After lunch, and more of my delicious bread, I had a listen to the dictaphone.

During the night we had been watching some kind of report on the economy in north-east France, an industrial town, about the father of a family who worked on a railway siding that served a couple of factories and how things had already been difficult when they had closed the line for a while to replace everything but now they were talking about the factories closing down with people changing habits by buying from abroad etc. They were saying what a hard time people like this father were going to have, yet there he was. He had 8 children and living in some sort of primitive conditions with a tin bath. he was saying that by the time the 8th child got into the bathwater it was pretty black. It would be even worse by the time all of this work had been going on with the dust and everything that it was creating. My friends and I appeared to have very little sympathy for him because he seemed to be one of these people who was stuck in a routine and had a total lack of imagination. All he could do in his spare time was to just breed children

With one or two other things that needed some attention, it was soon time to go out for my afternoon walk

cloud formation cotentin peninsula Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallLooking out across the bay I saw what can only be described as a “mariner’s delight”. And any ancient mariner – and, indeed, a few modern ones too – will tell you about these.

A clear but moisture-laden air is blown across the sea by the wind and then hits the coastline. To cross the coastline the air has to rise up and the change in temperature and pressure causes the moisture to condense.

It’s a sure sign of land ahead and mariners throughout the centuries will have their eyes glued to the horizon looking for these cloud banks as they cross vast expanses of water.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that WE SAW A BEAUTIFUL ONE when we were in Labrador in 2010.

joly france english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhile I was peering out to sea I saw movement on the water over by the Ile de Chausey and it was heading my way.

And so I carried on walking, knowing that it was drawing even closer to me as I advanced along the footpath. Of course I had a really good idea of who it might be but nevertheless I took a photo of it for closer examination

Sure enough, I was perfectly correct, not that there was ever any doubt. Our old friend Joly France is on her way back from the islands accompanied by a squadron of birds of some description.

sun shining through clouds baie de mont st michel brittany coast Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallRound on the point at the headland and I had a look out to sea westwards towards the Brittany coast.

The weather is completely different here as you can see. It’s almost completely overcast. There are a few obvious gaps in the cloud cover and the bright sunlight is coming streaming through them onto the surface of the water.

This is the kind of thing that is well-worth a photo. It has produced quite a surreal effect over there and that kind of view would be almost impossible to reproduce artificially. Nevertheless it would have been nice to catch a trawler or something in the sunlight.

joly france baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBy this time, Joly France had caught up with me and had come around the headland into the Baie de Mont St Michel.

It’s the older one of the two Ile de Chausey ferries. You can tell that bu the fact that the upper deck superstructure is larger than on the other one and the windows on the main deck are more square than deep-rectangular.

But even with confinement it seems that the ferries are still working. As yet I’m unconvinced of the wisdom of that decision as it will merely entice second-home owners and tourists out to the island, taking the virus with them.

With this virus, which has a shelf-life of two days, the only hope of beating it is for a complete lockdown for a couple of weeks. Half-hearted measures aren’t going to be of any use whatsoever.

normandy trader port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallLeaving Joly France aside for the moment, I wandered off along the footpath to the viewpoint overlooking the harbour to see what was going on.

And we have a visitor in port today. Normandy Trader is here on one of her runs from Jersey and back again. But she’s not moored in the usual place for loading and unloading. She should be underneath the crane that’s round to the left out of shot.

All that I can think of is that maybe Thora was in port too and had needed the crane for loading and unloading but I must have missed her. It can’t be because of Chausiais as she was moored up at the ferry terminal.

Back here there were still a few things to do and so I never did get round to doing what I had planned to do today. But I had a good and enjoyable session on the guitars his evening – more Bowie stuff again on the bass followed by some Creedence Clearwater Revival, and then another 30-minute concert with the acoustic 6-string.

And my singing is improving too. But before anyone gets excited about it, just let me say that it couldn’t get any worse.

Tea was an aubergine and kidney bean whatsit out of the freezer, followed by pineapple and vegan vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce. There’s actually some room in the freezer now too, which is a surprise.

Just as I was about to go out for my walk, the telephone rang. It was Rosemary who wanted a “quick chat”. And we excelled ourselves tonight with a ‘phone call that ran on for a grant total of 2 hours and 50 minutes. That must be a new record, especially as during the chat I was also conducting two discussions, one with Liz and the other one with TOTGA, on the internet at the same time.

Not that that’s a problem, because no-one ever knows what I’m talking about so it doesn’t ever make any difference however many people I’m talking to.

But having sorted everyone out, no matter how late it is, I’m off to bed. But I can’t go to bed without mentioning one final thing.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, the question of Brexit has affected many of us who left the UK to seek our fortunes in the Real World. It’s caused all kinds of distress and dismay and we are all having to cope with it as best we can, jumping through all kinds of hoops to ensure that we can keep our homes and our livelihoods here.

Between us all, some of my friends and I have been obliged to apply for (and be granted) Permanent Residency in France. Others of my acquaintance from the UK have now obtained Canadian, Irish, Belgian and German nationality, and probably a few other nationalities too.

And so today it’s “hats off” to Grahame, a regular reader of this rubbish who has proudly told me that he is now an official Austrian citizen. Well done you.

When I think of the talent that the UK is losing, just among my own circle of friends, by this stupid, reckless decision no wonder the country is in such a mess.

And that reminds me – if you want to say tell me something, exchange points of view or simply say “hello”, there’s a contact button on the lower right-hand corner of the screen.

Send me a message and let me know that you are here.

Saturday 8th August 2020 – IT’S FAR TOO HOT …

… to do anything right now. This afternoon, the temperature on the thermometer on the van showed 41°C at one point and that was confirmed by one of these roadside thermometers so I’m sure that it was correct.

hotel senica slovakia eric hallLast night was a really good sleep, and I slept right up to 05:47 when something awoke me – but I’m not sure what.

Nevertheless, I didn’t actually leave the bed at that time but … errr … somewhat later.

According to the dictaphone, I’d been on my travels too during the night. I had been going somewhere, driving and I was in Caliburn, I think. I was being followed by an old Morgan 3-wheeler with a couple in it, driven by a guy with a red handlebar moustache. They were piled up with luggage and seemed to be following me throughout all of my route across Central Europe and it was very interesting although I didn’t exchange a single word with them or anything like that and it was very intriguing to try to work out exactly what they were doing

And later on it was Welsh Cup day and there were 12 matches being played. 2 were postponed and some were being played later. We were going to go to Aberystwyth to watch the game. They were talking about this on the TV and radio which was nice. I was in Nantwich somewhere so I set off to walk. I got to round about Gresty, somewhere like that and there was a football stadium and there was quite a big queue outside. I climbed over the fence to get in, about 12′ high and I’m not quite sure why I would do that. I was hoping to meet the others, including my father apparently and we’d all go into the ground together. For some unknown reason it was half an hour to kick-off and I couldn’t find them at all. I wondered what had happened to them.

Having organised myself and packed my stuff, I said goodbye to my nice hotel and set off.

First port of call was the Billa Supermarket down the road where i bought some food for the journey – including some grapes. And bread was cheap too here in Slovakia, as I discovered.

Another thing was that I was impressed with the range of vegan food on offer – much better than anything that France could come up with in a mainstream village supermarket.

It’s a shame that I’m leaving the country today. I’ve always liked Slovakia. I spent several weeks here in the North-East of the country on the Polish border when I worked with Shearings and one of these days I’ll try to find the time to spend much more time here.

Having done the shopping for the next couple of days (I can’t buy too much and expect it to survive long in this heat) I set off and drove all the way south-eastwards through the mountains.

Driving through the town of Boleraz I had to do a U-turn and go back to check on something that I’d seen in someone’s garden here.

One thing that’s disappointed me is the absence of real Eastern European cars around here. No Gaz or ZIL vehicles, only one Skoda and not even any Moskvitches either come to that. I can’t believe that a whole lifetime of interesting vehicles has been wiped out of existence.

skoda 1203 van boleraz slovakia eric hallAnd so when I saw this old Skoda 1203 I breathed a sigh of relief.

This was Eastern Europe’s equivalent of the Ford Transit. Every businessman or tradesman owned one and they were the local ambulances and police vans too. You used to find them everywhere 30 years ago, but so far on my travels I’ve only seen one of them prior to this and that was on the road heading the other way.

Not that I would swap Caliburn of course, but I would love to take something like this back home with me to have some fun. It’s a real relic of the past, that’s for sure, and quite a curio too.

odos FOR 742 525 9 velky meder slovakia eric hallBy-passing Bratislava, I ended up in the town of Velky Meder on the border with Hungary.

A railway like runs through the town and there’s a railway station here so I reckoned that I would go along and see what was happening her. And my luck was in because there was a goods train here in the siding.

The locomotive pulling it is an FOR type 742 – a heavy shunter built for Czech Railways and now used all over the Czech Republic and Slovakia for hauling small freight trains and on occasion even passenger trains. It’s painted in the livery of the Ostravská Dopravní Spolecnost – a freight logisitics company from Ostrava in the Czech Republic.

The railway station and the surrounding area have a very sinister reputation, something that is quite ironic seeing as currently back at home I’m reading a book about the Serbian nation in World War I.

After the collapse of the Serbian Army in 1915 the Serbian soldiers, as well as a great many civilians, who didn’t manage to escape to Greece were arrested and subjected to a most appalling savagery by the Austrian troops. A Prisoner-of-War camp or, to be more precise, a death camp was set up here and there are mass graves all over the area that contain the remains of the Dead.

No-one knows how many Serbians and Montenegrin troops lost their lives here but a monument nearby records the names of over 5,000e known to have died here. I wasn’t able to find the monument or any of the graves while I was here. My Slovak isn’t up to anything much – certainly not for asking about this.

But on another note, if you come this way, don’t go looking for a town called Velky Meder because you probably won’t see a sign for it. You’re more likely to see a sign for Nagymegyer.

That’s because although we are north of the Danube, the frontier between Slovakia and Hungary, this whole area for a considerable number of miles around is ethnically Hungarian but was occupied by Czech Nationalist forces at the end of World War I.

During the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia it was awarded to Hungary but recovered in 1945. Even despite the forced relocation of many ethnic minorities in the late 1940s the population is almost entirely ethnically Hungarian and almost everything is written in Hungarian.

So even had I been able to ask for the monument or the graves in Slovak, it probably wouldn’t have done me any good.

There was a LIDL in the vicinity so I stopped for a look around, and then crossed over into Hungary near the town at Gyor

Unfortunately there was nowhere suitable to park to take a photo of the border crossing so in due course I’ll pinch a still from the dashcam and post it. Even so, it’s more new territory for Caliburn and Strawberry Moose to visit.

Gyor was a nice place to drive around but there was nowhere to park and take a photo of the town. And in any case it was far too hot to go for a walk. I was melting.

Caliburn lunch stop Mákosdulo utca Gyor 9025 Hungary eric hall. In the end I found a nice sheltered spot by a small lake on the edge of town.

Here, wedged up in the shade between Caliburn and a hedge I ate my butty and afterwards did a little tidying up. And while I was here, I had a little snooze in the sun. I was at one point thinking about going for a walk in the sun but not in this temperature.

As an aside, I didn’t find out anything about this lake except that it’s one of about three or four in the immediate vicinity. And they all look very artificial to me although of course I wouldn’t know about that.

austin maestro Autós Motoros Oktatópálya gyor hungary eric hallOn the way to my parking place I’d seen a dirt road that crossed a railway line and then seemed to follow the river so I decided to go for a drive.

But I ended up stopping at the side of the road by an area that looked as if it might be a car park or something like that. For in there, parked and partially dismantled with no engine by the looks of things is an old Austin Maestro.

There are many vehicles that I would never expect to see in Eastern Europe, for sure, but the possibility of finding an Austin Maestro is something that I wouldn’t have ever considered. It’s certainly living up to its model name as a “Special” and I notice that it comes with factory-standard body rot.

caliburn dirt road river raba rabapatona hungary eric hallFurther along the road I turned off, crossed the railway line and drove down as far as I could go until I reached the river, when I turned right to follow it for a while.

The river is the River Raba, a 300 kilometre long tributary of the Danube, and the part that I am following seems to be a canalised deviation of it. Where I’m driving looks as if it might be a service track on top of a levee and the amount of dust and gravel that I’m kicking up reminds me all too much of driving along THE TRANS LABRADOR HIGHWAY.

The road went for miles and I was reaching the stage where I was wondering whether I would have to turn around and go back the way that I came. However eventually I came to a house at the side of the track and wheeltracks of a couple of vehicles heading my way convinced me to carry on.

war memorial rabapatona hungary eric hallEventually, having passed underneath a couple of other main roads that crossed the river on bridges, I came to an exit that brought me into the little town of Rabapatona.

The road into the centre of the village brought me past the church and there, in the churchyard, was a war memorial so I went to have a look at it.

It lists the dead of the village for the two World Wars, so there’s nothing special about that. It might have been interesting to see the dead from other conflicts too.

But what really caught my eye was what wasn’t on the memorial. If you look closely at the base of the memorial there’s a patch of a different colour. It made me wonder if there had been something affixed there that is deemed today to be inappropriate. All kinds of shenanigans occurred with Hungary and its political partners between 1848 and 1990.

moskvitch 2141 aleko pickup rabapatona hungary eric hallHaving moaned on earlier in the day about the lack of old Eastern Bloc cars to be found these days, I struck it lucky in Rabapatona.

This exciting looking vehicle is a Moskvitch 2141 Aleko, built during the period 1986-1997. Based somewhat on the old French Simca 1307, the early models were said to have been some of the best cars ever to have come out of the Soviet Union although after the end of Communism, anarchy at the car plant led to a rapid deterioration of quality of the later ones.

Although the saloon cars were quite popular, I can say without fear of contradiction that this is the first ever Aleko pick-up that I’ve ever seen. I didn’t even realise that they were made.

Fighting off the heat (in mid-afternoon it reached 41°C according to two different thermometers) I found my way out of the town and into the countryside, disturbing a wedding as I drove through another small town.

And eventually I managed to track down a hotel – the Hotel Minerva in Mosonmagyarovar. Another lovely 3-star hotel at a bargain price and the first time that I’ve spent a night in Hungary since 1988.

First thing was to have a shower and wash of my clothes, and then I crashed out on the bed for a couple of hours. Rosemary awoke me with a phone call so we had a chat for a while, but I was too late to make any tea.

If the heat lets me, I’ll have a good sleep and then I’ll be ready to move on tomorrow.

Time to think about going home, I reckon.

Tuesday 7th July 2020 – IT”S NOT VERY …

replacing sewer Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan Leuven belgium eric hall… good news at the hospital unfortunately.

While you admire the roadworks in the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan, which they are digging up in order to replace all of the sewers down there, I shall tell you all about it.

My appointment was for 16:00 so I was there at 15:30 and it took a while to sign in, basically because there is no provision for signing in if you don’t have a Belgian identity card

replacing sewer Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan Leuven  eric hallWhile you watch the car disappearing into its own dustcloud, something that brought back may happy memories of Labrador I went up in the outpatients department where they took a blood sample and then sent me to wait until a doctor sent for me.

Round about 18:00 I was eventually seen. I’ve no idea what took them so long. And this is when they told me the news. My blood count has dropped to 8.3 – just slightly above the critical limit.

That’s a substantial drop from the last time that I had a blood test, when it was 9.4. And this is probably what happened on Tuesday morning last week when I was taken ill on the boat, and why I had such a hard time on my run on Sunday night.

replacing sewer Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan Leuven  eric hallMind you, there’s not a sign of infection in my blood.

Consequently they have decided not to give me any treatment right now. They think that I can struggle on until October and then start a new cycle of treatment.

It seems to me to be a strange manner of proceeding if you ask me, but I suppose they know what they are doing. However they did want to retake the the blood sample so I was told to wait.

replacing sewer Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan Leuven  eric hallAnd wait I did.

And after an hour or so, fed up of waiting in a deserted out-patients’ department and no-one about at all, I eventually found someone who was on the way home and flagged them down. It seems that the doctor had forgotten to tell a nurse.

She couldn’t use my catheter port with it only having been used a short while ago so it had to be taken from my arm.

It was round about 19:20 I was finally able to leave the hospital and head back home.

This morning I was up and out of bed before the third alarm went off. First task was to finish off the notes from last night and that took much longer than expected.

Plenty of stuff on the dictaphone too. We were out with something like LORD OF THE RINGS last night. We’d been under attack by the Nazgul. After we had pushed them away and they cleared off we were all talking. There was someone who had a model city with a wall all round it. I mentioned to one of the people we were with about this – that would make an ideal defence so he decided that we could all go and stay in that. So we trooped off around the heqdland and there was this city. One of the people who had been with us earlier was a baby. We had started to give this baby bottled milk, all this kind of thing and we reckoned that this baby would be thirsty by now. As we went round the headland we could see that this baby was nursing off its mother so we made the point “ohh look! It’s having mother’s milk on draught”. We went to install ourselves in this toy castle on the coast to defend ourselves against another attack of the Nazguls.
I was back in school last night, but a school in the USA and I was late back from my break – 4 minutes late so the teacher told me, a black guy. We were talking about people on welfare, how they had to wear a certain tyope of sandal but the zip was inside it so you had to put your hand down inside to work the zip. You could always tell people on welfare because of their sandals. I came into the class and I was new, 4 minutes late and the only seat free was next to the teacher so I had to sit there. It was one of those places where your desk was behind you and you had to sit facing forward and you turned round to do your work. I asked him what we were doing. We were talking about colours. There are three colours when you are computing and he should know because he’s built a computer. I rattled off these three colours. He looked at me and wondered what I was doing in his class that I was obviously so old and I knew so much already.

A shower and a clothes-washing session was first, followed by going down to Delhaize for supplies for the next couple of days.

There was my welsh lesson too so I had to do the preparation for that. When the meeting started I realised that this laptop doesn’t have a microphone.

In the end I had to connect the video on the laptop and at the same time run the audio from the mobile phone. A very complicated system but it worked.

Down at the shops I had bought a small loaf so I made sandwiches for lunch, with spicy hummus, tomato and lettuce, followed by fruit.

After lunch I headed off into town.

First stop was at FNAC. The s;all folding headphones that I had bought back in 2016 had stopped working on one side so I wanted another pair to replace them.

demolishing sint pieters hospital leuven belgium eric hallThe headphones themselves were really good apart from that so I was happy to buy another pair. They fit nicely in the top pocket of my backpack.

Walking my way across town in the warm afternoon, I passed by the old Sint Pieter’s hospital in the Brusselsestraat. I had wanted to watch the demolition in action.

And i wasn’t alone there either. There was quite a crowd there in the street watching all of the activity over there behind the fence.

demolishing sint pieters hospital leuven belgium eric hallThere was this enormous machine here that caught my eye.

It was a huge hydraulic nibbler that was eating away at the walls of the building, taking huge chinks out of the wall and sending it crashing down to the ground.

And there, there was a digger with a hydraulic breaker that was breaking up the brick walls into smaller manageable proportions ready to be shovelled up by another digger that was waiting to move it.

It’s going to be quite a big job, disposing of all of the rubble.

demolishing sint rafael hospital leuven belgium eric hallRound the corner is the old Sint Rafael hospital.

That has been slowly run down over the past few years and now it looks as if it’s biting the dust too. There’s going to be a really big empty site there when the two big hospitals are knocked down and I can’t wait to see the area when they have finished.

There are all kinds of plans for the area and we are going to see quite a transformation when it’s all complete. Removing the culvert that covers the River Dyle will be something spectacular.

parking sintjakobsplein sewer leuven belgium eric hallAnother thing that we have been keeping our eye on is the work that has been going on in the car park in the Sint Jacobsplein.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we saw them digging it out at the end of last year but unfortunately I wasn’t here to see what they were doing in the hole.

They have now filled it it so I won’t ever get to know, but having seen them replacing all of the sewers in the street, it’s very probably something to do with that project.

The resurfqcing of the car park was something that was an essential task. Driving on it was like sailing a galleon on the high seas in a storm. So that is something to look forward to.

replacing sewers realigning road tervuursestraat Heilige-Geeststraat leuven belgium eric hallIt’s not just around here that all of the work is going on.

While they are replacing the sewers, they have taken the opportunity to realign the Tervuursestraat and make to road junction with the Heilige-Geeststraat. That’s always been a difficult junction but this will be much better.

However it prevented me from walking all the way up the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan and I had to go a really long way round to get to the hospital. I’m certainly knocking up the kilometres right now.

soupomat rector de somerplein leuven belgium eric hallOn the way back into town this caught my eye.

We’ve seen breadomats and potatomats and pizzamats on our travels but we haven’t ever seen a soupomat until today This one is parked up behind the bus stop on the Rector de Somerplein

Back here I put my baked beans in the microwave and then went in search of a fritkot. My usual one is closed, the next one has ceased to trade and I had to walk miles before I eventually tracked one down. How is this possible in Belgium?

So beans and chips for tea followed by tangerines and banana dessert.

So now I’m off to bed. No alarm because I deserve a lie-in after today’s effort. I’ll have a think about where I go from here and see what I can do about my current situation.

It’s not what I was hoping for.

Tuesday 16th June 2020 – WHAT A HORRIBLE …

… day I’ve had today!

jcb lifter chantier navale port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallSo while you admire the photos of the frenetic activity in the chantier navale as they winch the fishing boat Saint Andrews out of the water on the boat lift and load a marker bouy up onto a flatbed lorry, let me tell you about it.

It actually started off quite well, for I was out of bed before the third alarm this morning and that’s not something that happens every day these days.

And then after the medication, I came back to listen to the dictaphone to hear where I’d been during the night.

Saint Andrews fishing boat lift chantier navale port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallI had a girlfriend last night – a nice young girl very slim, not very tall pale complexion, shoulder length black hair, black jacket and black jeans and I wish I knew who she was. We started to hang around together and we had to go to hire a car for her for some reason. We went (I don’t know why) to the local chemists near the airport to fill in the forms there but they said that they didn’t do it any more. We’d have to go to the airport itself, which dismayed me to have to go back to that place and fight with the crowds. I had a hard job trying to explain it to her – I didn’t want to disappoint her. So we set off to go to the airport ended up trudging through the streets of Nantwich, holding hands. It was all ever so sweet. We’d come down Hospital Street into Millstone Lane around Crewe Road end and were chatting about all kinds of things – food, hairdressing, meals and all this. In the end I ended up with her in my bedroom and she was on my bed. I was beginning to think that it was going to be my lucky day because luck is certainly what I need right now – as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, it’s been a long time since I’ve had any – but for some unknown reason she transformed herself into a black cat, lying on my bed as a black cat and I was just stroking her and she was purring, and I just couldn’t think of where to go and what to do next.

Saint Andrews fishing boat lift chantier navale port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallAt some point during all of this there was a photo of a house near Shavington – the one on the corner of Eastern Road and Rope Hall Lane near where I used to live as a kid, dated 1917 and taken from Eastern Road to the east with the railway on the right showing that the house was surrounded by field guns. They were obviously using it as some kind of depot and anti-aircraft establishment. I was trying to get my hands on the book that the photo was in so that I could photocopy it and post it on the internet.

Yes it was all go last night and when I awoke I was covered in sweat – that’s something that I need to note because it’s a side-effect of one of my medications. The hospital always ask me about my night sweats and how else am I supposed to remember after almost 6 months away?

Saint Andrews fishing boat lift chantier navale port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallSo having got all of that out of the way, I had a few things to do.

While I was doing them I had a listen to what I recorded for my radio project yesterday.

And I’m glad that I did because there’s an error in it. One of the “applause” tracks that I overdubbed into the project has become misplaced.

That’s the one problem with working with four-track recording and not eight-track – if you start from the end and work backwards as I sometimes have to do, if you forget to anchor what you’ve added in tracks three and four and then add something else onto those tracks in front of it, it shunts everything else ahead of it on those tracks further on down the line so that it no longer synchs in.

But me no daft, me no silly. Having been caught out like that before and having to completely re-do a project from the start on one occasion, I now save all my working files as well as the finished output so I simply rework the recording by cutting out a time segment of the appropriate length.

So that’s a job for some time later in the week.

jcb lifter marine buoy chantier navale port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallNext job was to tidy up the top end of the apartment ready for my Welsh lesson. The place needs to look tidy if I’m broadcasting myself on the internet.

Having made the place look something like, I did the revision for last week’s course and then looked at the notes for today’s lesson.

One of the thing that we were discussing was the weather and it was interesting with people from the four corners of the world and the different weather that they were experiencing.

Shame as it is to say it, I almost fell asleep twice in the lesson and I’ve no idea why.

Well, actually I do, as I worked out later, but I’ll explain that as I go along.

After lunch I made a start on yet another radio project. There’s another live concert – one for the end of August that needs to be completed for Thursday night.

There’s no time like the present so I made a start on that. And that wasn’t straightforward either as one of the tracks that I had been sent had two seconds missing from it.

It wasn’t a commercialised track either so it took me an age to hunt down, record, covert and edit a replacement.

And, as it happened, I didn’t need it either. But that’s another story.

By now it was time for me to go out on my afternoon walk.

boats english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallThe weather was absolutely dreadful too. It was raining hen wragedd y ffin as they say in the Land of My Father (well, grandmother, actually) but wrapped in my yellow raincoat, i was fine.

Despite the weather there was plenty of activity out at sea today. And not just fishing boats either. The two cabin-cruiser type of boats were stationary so it may well be that they were indeed actually fishing, but I bet that they didn’t appreciate the speedboat roaring past them like that.

The itinerant was out there too, wrapped in his plastic sheet and sheltering under a tree. I really don’t understand that at all when there are so many places where he could seek shelter.

trawlers chantier navale port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallCarrying on through the rain my walk took me around the headland and back down the other side along the path overlooking the chantier navale

There was a pile of activity going on there this afternoon, including this fishing boat that was racing away from there and I’ve no idea why. I missed that little bit of excitement.

But we had the men in the little engineering yard putting one of the marker buoys that they had made onto the back of a small lorry with their JCB lifter.

And also, the boat lift was in operation, winching the fishing boat Saint Andrews out of the water, presumably to put it on blocks alongside the others that are still in here

giant crane boulevard des terreneuviers granville manche normandy france eric hallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that a while ago now we saw a giant crane come and settle itself down in the Boulevard des Terreneuviers to do some lifting work at an apartment that was undergoing renovation.

This afternoon, it’s back. And with its pattes extended, it’s clearly going to be doing some work sometime soon enough. That’s something to watch out for in the near future.

My walk back home was uneventful and I settle down to do some work. I wanted to finish off this radio project today so I started to write out the text.

And this is where it all went wrong.

Quite simply, I crashed out again after about forty-five minutes. And not just a little five minutes either but I was totally gone, curled up on my chair, for almost two hours.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been totally out of it like that – just like the worst of the days when I was living in Leuven. I’d missed my target, missed my hour on the guitars and when I finally awoke (at 19:05) I felt absolutely dreadful – the worst that I have felt for a good while.

No appetite either. I didn’t feel in the least like food. But to help me function, I had one of these energy drinks. I keep a little supply in stock for emergencies – I lived on those for a while in Leuven.
The foregoing notwithstanding, I still went out for my evening run. It takes more than a bout of serious illness to stop me in my tracks.

And for a change, I only performed four runs, not my usual six.

But there was a reason for this as well, and it’s something that I don’t understand. Whether it was the absence of food, or the couple of brazil nuts that I ate, or the sleep that I had, or the energy drink that I drank, I missed out two of my pauses for breath.

Straight up the top of the hill and without pausing for breath I ran on round the corner, past the itinerant and down to the clifftop.

war memorial french resistance pointe du roc granville manche normandy france eric hallNothing happening out at sea so I walked on along the path to see how the War memorial to the Resistance was doing.

By not the weather had really brightened up and it was quite pleasant out there. I wasn’t the only one out there enjoying it either. There was a small group of people there admiring the remains of the Atlantic Wall and the War Memorial and as I drew closer (I’m not very good at drawing so it was a terrible likeness) I could hear that they were speaking German.

Something inside me was tempting me to go by and say Tschuss as I passed but I resisted the urge.

man fishing from rocks cap lihou pointe du roc granville manche normandy france eric hallThere was someone else out there this evening profiting from the beautiful weather.

He wasn’t alone either. As I passed, he shouted something at someone (not at me) and when I looked back I could see that there was someone else standing on another rock who had been out of my view.

It beats me how they manage to scramble down there onto the rocks and, as I said yesterday, how they manage to scramble back up with all of their gear and their catch.

lorry port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallIt looks as if we might be having more visitors from the Channel Islands soon as well.

The lorry that brings in the freight has appeared on the quayside down there right now and is parked up. So my guess is that sometime over the next day or two we’ll be seeing either Normandy Trader or Thora coming into the port.

Or maybe even both. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that they both came sailing into port one after the other last Thursday morning.

In the chantier navale there was no sign of Saint Andrews. It must only have been a flying visit and I was lucky to have caught her visit.

Having disrupted a couple of girls taking selfies, I ran on down the Boulevard Vaufleury, round the corner, right past my resting place and on down the rue St Jean.

person on beach plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallAlmost at the Place Cambernon I ran through an alleyway to the rue du Nord and back up to the viewpoint there. I don’t understand this at all – I really don’t.

There were no picnickers there tonight which was a surprise, but there was someone sunning themselves on the sand. And the towel that was down there with them suggests that they have been for a paddle in the sea.

The weather might well have been nice – but it wasn’t that nice. Says he who has been in it up to his knees (deliberately too) IN THE DAVIS STRAIT JUST 600-ODD MILES FROM THE NORTH POLE and up to his chest IN THE HAMILTON INLET IN NORTHERN LABRADOR

beautiful sunset ile de chausey english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallBut let us return to our moutons as they say around here.

Whoever it was who was enjoying the evening sunshine on the beach had every reason to be there.

It was another one of those really beautiful evenings and the sunset scene was stunning. I took a pic of it and admired it for a while and then I ran on home.

Back here I’ve finished writing up my notes, and now I’m off to bed. I really don’t understand anything at all about how I could be so ill and yet have probably the longest run that I’ve done since about 1999 – cancer and all.

All part of life’s rich pageant, I expect.

Saturday 28th December 2019 – HOW ABOUT …

sunrise st pair sur mer baie de mont st michel chantier navale port de granville harbour manche normandy france… this as a fine way to start off the morning?

There we were, Caliburn and I, sitting in the car park just above the chantier navale down the road here, watching the sun rise above the horizon over St Pair sur Mer and the Baie de Mont St Michel.

That’s not a sight that I’m likely to see very often – the sunrise. We have seen it before on a few occasions but very very rarely when we are back home.

But just in case you are wondering, which I’m sure you are, this wasn’t at some ridiculous hour like 04:00, this was the situation at just before 09:00 this morning. It’s the middle of winter as you know.

Last night, I was in bed realtively early compared to how its been just recently. And although it was a struggle, I did actually make it up out of bed before the third alarm at 06:20. Only just, but nevertheless …

After the medication I attacked the dictaphone notes, as I had in fact been on my travels during the night as I discovered. I didn’t remember much about them except at one point I was on a bus as a passenger. I’d been taking an express bus strip from somewhere or other and I’d got to be picked up and I wasn’t sure whether my luggage had been put in the boot or not, my green rucksack and a brown jacket. I went round the back to look and there was a guy there, and I was talking to him but suddenly the bus took off and we ended up the two of us sitting in the luggage boot having a chat about this and that, going around Crewe. I remember thinking that we can’t go all the way to Caen sitting here like this – we’re going to have to get out at one point, but anway that was that.
Earlier, there was a situation where I had a girlfriend and I was doing something and some guy, one of these arrogant pushy types, was talking to my girlfriend. He turned round and said “anyway, you’re with me now” to which this girl replied “no, no no I’m not. I’m with Eric (or whatever my name was at the time)”. He wasn’t used to being turned down like this and became quite annoyed by it.

Once breakfast was out of the way I split another digital album into its component tracks and that’s all looking good. Then I hit the streets.

channel islands ferry port de granville harbour manche normandy franceAs well as the gorgeous sunrise this morning, there was also activity at the ferry terminal.

Granville, the modern Channel Islands ferry that came from Sweden a few years ago, is at the ferry terminal and she looks as if she’s loading up ready for a trip out to Jersey this morning.

Thinking hard, I’m not at all sure that I’ve actually seen one of the Channel Islands ferries actually depart from the terminal. I’ll have to give this a miss too as I’m in a hurry.

oysters leclerc granville manche normandy franceHaving visited LIDL on foot on Friday and not been tempted by anything on offer, I made my way straight to LeClerc.

It’s the tradition in France at New Year to eat oysters and to drink champagne. And sure enough, one of the local oyster-sellers has set up his stall just outside the supermarket today in order to catch the crowds.

And by the way – it’s not true that oysters are an aphrodisiac. I had 12 on my wedding night and only 10 of them worked.

In Leclerc I bought my ticket for the next football match – in Versailles! US Granville are away in the cup next weekend and once more, there are buses provided. If you pay for your seat on the bus (which I did – €10:00) the club will give you a free ticket to enter the ground.

Sounds very fair to me!

And even though I didn’t spend much money in LeClerc today, I was there for much longer than I wanted to be. For some reason which only they will know, a charge of about €3:60 was added to my bill “for Carte Noire coffee” – and I hadn’t bought any.

The girl at the cash desk couldn’t deal with it so I ended up having to go back to Reception where eventually, and not with just a little umming and ahhing either, I had my money back.

But I’ll watch my bill in future.

Another thing that I will watch will be the ice-cream freezer. Today, I found a tub of banana sorbet, 100% vegan. That’s my New Year treat and if it’s any good, which I hope it will be, I’ll be getting some more.

From LeClerc I went on to NOZ. And spent more money in there than I intended to too.

But the main reason for that was that they had a box of 7 high-quality “brand name” socks on offer at just €7:99. I get through cheap socks at an astonishing rate and yet some decent ones that I bought in 2013 are only just now wearing through and need to be replaced.

They also had twin-packs of proper woollen Arctic over-socks there too, so I bought one of those. If ever I go North again, which I hope to do, keeping my extremities warm is important.

And in that respect, rummaging around in the €0:99 bin I found another woolly hat.

Back here I put everything away and then for a little while I started the tidying up. Not for long though because I had to sit down after a while. So I had a coffee and vegetated.

people on beach plat gousset granville manche normandy franceLater this afternoon I went for my little walk around the headland.

There were crowds of people out there today because although it was grey and overcast, it wasn’t all that cold and the wind had dropped considerably too0

But it took me a while to get going. I was “detained” by Gribouille who came for a stroke and I ended up chatting to his mum for quite a while. I hadn’t seen her for ages.

There wasn’t anything else whatever of note going on so I did my circuit around the headland and came back home.

For all of the afternoon I’ve been alternating between cleaning and resting (and crashing out for 10 minutes too, unfortunately). I might be having visitors tomorrow so the place needs to look respectable.

At least the toilet and the bathroom are cleaned and the floors washed. The rest of the place has been vacuumed out and some attempt at tidying has been made.

Another thing that I did was to finish off the making of the rest of the lemon and ginger drink and it’s not too bad at all. 6 litres in all, I made.

The leftover pulp, now not too strong, is in the fridge and I added a little of it to tonight’s tea – a curry from October 2018 that I found in the freezer. It gave it a certain je ne sais quoi.

And while I was in LeClerc I bought some more ginger. I’ll let that ripen for a few days and then I’ll have a bash at doing something with some oranges. That should be interesting.

On my evening walk tonight, there wasn’t a soul about whatsoever. No idea why because it was a lovely evening.

Having been around the headland this afternoon, I took my walk around the walls tonight but there wasn’t anything of interest to photograph either.

With no-one about in the Square Maurice Marland, I could have my run without disturbing anyone or embarrassing myself, and I made it all the way across and half-way up the ramp. I don’t suppose that I should be too disappointed with that.

Having seen Gribouille this afternoon, it was the turn of Minette this evening. She was sitting on her windowsill watching the world go by, and she let me give her a stroke for a few minutes

spirit of conrad trawler chantier navale port de granville harbour manche normandy franceBy the time I reached the apartment I noticed that I had done 83% of my day’s activities. And so with it being such a pleasant evening, I pushed on to continue my walk up towards the Pointe du Roc

Round in the harbour, there wasn’t anything worth seeing. Granville was back and moored up, so I walked on to the chantier navale to see how Spirit of Conrad and the fishing boat were doing.

Both are still there and on their own too, but I did notice that a new set of blocks had been laid out. Are we perhaps expecting another visitor some time soon?

trawler night baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy franceWhile I was musing on the foregoing, my reverie was interrupted by the sound of a long-stroke diesel engine coming around the headland.

Not sure what it might be, I waited for a while until it came into view and sure enough, it’s another fishing vessel heading back into the harbour.

When I had started my walk a little earlier I’d noticed that there were half a dozen or so out there in the distance. They must be on their way home

trawler night baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy franceWhile the fishing boat continued its progress towards the port, I continued mine, around the headland and then down the rue du Roc towards home.

And as I crossed the threshold into the apartment the fitbit passed over to 100% of my daily activity and that’s always good news.

And for some reason, that’s 8.4kms today. The daily activity target is slowly increasing. The machine is obviously noticing that my fitness level is improving.

There will be SHOCK! HORROR! an alarm call tomorrow. I’m off out to do another outside broadcast – but recorded this time.

Laurent and I have decided that we’ll do a few of these whenever there’s some kind of special activity going on, and tomorrow there’s the annual “polar dip” so we’re going round to interview the participants.

Not that you’ll catch me going in. I’ve done three of them already – up to my knees at Etah, 650 miles from the North Pole, up to my knees in Cambridge Bay in the North-West Passage around the top of Canada and up to my chest in a river in northern Labrador and that’s enough for me.

In any case I have a catheter in my chest as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, and that prevents me from immersing myself.
“What would you do if you didn’t have the catheter in?” Castor asked me several weeks ago
“Ohhh – I’d think of another good excuse” I replied.

On that note, I’m off to bed. Goodnight

Thursday 28th November 2019 – I MISSED …

… the second alarm call YET AGAIN – and I’ve no idea why because it’s quite clearly programmed in.

And so when what I thought was the second alarm call went off and I glanced at my fitbit and saw that it was 06:20, no-one was more disappointed than me.

There I was, deep in the arms of Morpheus and I wasn’t alone either, because the Girls from Uummannaq were in there with me.

What was going through my mind was a quote from the report of Vaino Tanner, a Finnish anthropologist who had studied the Inuit in Labrador and reported, in his book “Outlines of the Geography, Life and Customs of Newfoundland-Labrador” of 1944 that inuit girls …

  1. … are the hardest-working of all of the Inuit people (and then goes on to list all of the household tasks that they are expected to do in the home)
  2. … are very keen to marry settlers of European descent
  3. … have an extremely sensual nature

There he was, wondering how he found out all of this, and there I was, about to put Point 3 to the test (and wondering how Tanner discovered that particular point) when, with sitting bolt upright like that, it all immediately disappeared from my mind.

So having had a disappointing medication and breakfast followed by a shower, I attacked the dictaphone notes, totally forgetting that I was supposed to be going to LIDL.

jcb pallet lifter rue st jean granville manche normandy franceEventually, it clicked with me, so I dressed and made a hurried exit.

Stepping out into the street, I was nearly flattened by a JCB pallet lifter that was in something of a hurry going down the street.

And when I expressed the fact that I had almost bee flattened by this thing, al of my friends expressed their regret.

unloading plasterboard battens rue st jean granville manche normandy franceThey’ve been working on another house here in the old town, this time in the rue St Jean, and they’ve had a delivery of metal plasterboard struts.

Our pallet lifter was on his way to lift them into the house, blocking the entire street as he did so, much to the dismay of all of the motorists.

I, however, had a delightful five minutes watching him have all kinds of problems trying to unload the pallet, with part of the metal struts wedged under the load bar of the pick-up.

clouds over granville manche normandy franceThe weather was looking rather miserable today and was on the point of rain.

Over there you can see a nice storm cloud hovering over the town right where I’m heading, and with the rays of the sun shining somewhere else.

There was this feeling that it was not going to be my day today.

storm waves plat gousset granville manche normandy franceWhile the wind had dropped considerably from the previous few days, you would never have thought so by looking at the waves down there.

The tide is quite a way out still as you can see and yet we already have something crashing down on the loading ramp at the Plat Gousset.

The amount of energy there is in the sea and yet there are some people who don’t want to harvest it.

fibre optic cable laying roadworks place marechal foch granville manche normandy franceDown in the Place marechal Foch I had better luck.

The workmen were there today and they didn’t run off when I approached them like they did yesterday, so I was able to talk to them.

And I was right. It’s more fibre-optic cable trunking going in. And they don’t have a clue as to when the system will be going live. After all, it’s only been about two years now. There’s no hurry

Having said that, I hurried, right up the hill at something of a good pace all the way to LIDL. And I can tell that I’m doing better because I was talking to myself all the way up. if I can do that, I can’t be too out of breath.

At LIDL there was nothing special that I needed so I just bought a few bits of fruit and veg, some drink and some boxes of rice. I’m on my last box of that so I need supplies.

old cars jaguar xj8 granville manche normandy franceBut how about this that I bumped into on the way home? You don’t see too many of these about and I haven’t seen one for ages.

It’s a Jaguar XJ-8 2+2 coupé, and the reference to the “8” in the model name relates to the fact that it’s powered not by the standard 6-cylinder or v-12 engine but by a V8 engine.

These were launched in 1997 as a kind-of replacement for the XJ-S but because of the reputation that the earlier vehicle had, they just never caught on at all and as I have said, I haven’t seen one on the road for years

normandy trader marite port de granville harbour manche normandy franceHaving fought my way through the town and stopping off for my dejeunette, I headed on back home again.

And peering over the wall, I noticed that our old friend Normandy Trader is back in town again. She must have sneaked in on the early morning tide.

Of course she would, wouldn’t she, when I’m running so late that I don’t have time to go down to say “hello”

young cat rue des juifs granville manche normandy franceThat wasn’t all of the excitement in the rue des Juifs either.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that yesterday I encountered a young black cat in the vegetation up on the city walls. Today, it was the turn of this very young tabby and white to make my acquaintance.

We had quite a chat too for a few minutes before it went off to do some more exploring.

There was half an hour or so to go before lunch so I attacked some more dictaphone stuff. And by the time that I knocked off, I was down to just 59 outstanding entries.

Mind you, the ones that I attacked today (and will be doing for the next few days) are the ones when I was slowly reaching a crisis point and they make rather grim, if not gruesome listening.

There was all kinds of turmoil going on in my head round about this time and that much is clearly evident in what was going on during the night.

After lunch, I started to attack the web pages, to carry on with the updating. By the time I was ready to go for my afternoon walk, I had done 13 of those.

That may not sound like much compared to yesterday, but there were plenty of distractions going on while I was trying to do it and I was lucky that I did that many.

By now we were in the middle of a rainstorm but I didn’t let that deter me.

fishing boats english channel granville manche normandy franceOut in the English Channel towards jersey I could make out something moving in the gloom so I tok a speculative shot to work on when I returned to the apartment so that I could see what it might be.

And it’s another bunch of fishing boats out there doing what they do best, and i this weather too!

However, I’m absolutely certain that we haven’t seen this much activity out there in preceding years. It seems to me that things are changing, and changing quite rapidly too, in the fishing industry.

trees pointe du roc light beacon baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy franceFurther on around the headland and, as Bob Dylan famously sung, “you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows” around here.

The tide is right out now as you can see. if you look at the beacon there between the trees, that’s almost totally submerged when the tide is fully in.

As I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … we have the highest tides in Europe right here on the coast.

But the rain is now closing in again quite quickly and I have a feeling that I’m about to get the lot of it.

storm pointe de carolles baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy franceLook at that storm brewing up over the Pointe de Carolles.

That triangular lump just there by the way is part of one of the old bunkers that formerly formed the Atlantic Wall.

After the War they tried to demolish the bunkers and so they packed the first one with explosive.

With the force of the explosion they managed to break every window in Normandy, Brittany and the Channel Islands but as far as the bunker went, they managed to move a hatful of concrete about half an inch.

They decided then to give it up as a bad job.

normandy trader port de granville harbour manche normandy franceBy now it was pelting down again so I didn’t hang around for long. I headed for home.

The Chantier Navale had its usual complement of boats so I didn’t stop to take a photo, but Normandy Trader was still at her berth by the crane so I took a quick photo of her.

And then I came back to the apartment, where I spent some time working on my “Girls of Uummannaq” web pages

There was some curry left over from the other day for tea, but not a frightful lot of it so I added a small potato and some spinach. And it was just as delicious.

For pudding, I had realised that I’d had some soya coconut cream stuff open for quite a while so I thought about that with my pineapple. But it looked rather dubious to me so it went don the drain and I had blackcurrant sorbet instead.

storm waves plat gousset place marechal foch granville manche normandy franceOut and about in the dark I thought that I was alone until I was barked at by a dog, with its owner standing in a deep shadow. It’s a good job that I wasn’t doing anything that I wasn’t suposed to be doing.

But it was dark down there tonight. They had switched off the lights on the Plat Gousset so although the waves were beating down on the sea wall, you couldn’t see them.

Nevertheless, I did my best

night rue lecampion granville manche normandy franceNot so much of a problem in the town though.

The upper floors of the buildings on the south side of the rue Lecampion for some reason mooked quite good this evening, very well illuminated by the street lights.

So much so that I couldn’t resist a photo. And I do like the shadow effect on the stone walls.

No-one about tonight so I had a good run, making half the way up the ramp at the end of my little track. One day I’ll measure it and see how far it is. It’s only about 300 metres, I reckon, if that.

Minette the old black cat was there on her windowsill so she let me give her a little stroke. It seems to be my lucky period for cats right now, although i’m not sure why. I probably smell of fish.

So tomorrow I’m having a day at home. For once I don’t have to go anywhere, but nevertheless I still have a lot of work to do.

To do some information files for my projects for a start. And once they are done, I can tell you all about it.

So there are one or two other little things that need to be done tonight and then I’m off to bed. I’m hoping that I can slide back into the arms of Morpheus and carry on my experiments from last night.

Saturday 28th September 2019 – IT’S REALLY EASY …

… to see what’s going on when you have a lead-light, the correct facilities and the correct tools.

We managed to move Strider this morning by climbing underneath with a light and a spanner and manually putting him in neutral. Then I started him up and Darren (who is braver than I ever imagined) climbed back underneath while my foot was on the brake of course, and with the spanner knocked him back into second gear.

Like that, I could drive him into the workshop and straight over the inspection pit where we had a closer look from a much more comfortable position with a proper inspection light.

And sure enough, everything seems to work exactly fine as it should, except that we could see that the plastic clip that (in theory) holds the cable onto the pivot is no longer there.

In principle, we could quite simply wedge the cable in place with some kind of Heath-Robinson invention, but there’s nothing as permanent as a temporary solution, I’ll forget about it, and it will let go when I’m somewhere in the depths of darkest Labrador 300 miles from any kind of help, in the middle of a snowstorm.

May as well do the job properly first as last, and I’m not so desperate for transport right now, so there will be a new gearchange cable and clip coming on Monday.

Last night despite an evening rather later than I had hoped, I had a decent night’s sleep. But still tons of stuff has mysteriously found its way onto the dictaphone during the night. So I wonder what that’s all about.

I didn’t have much time to lounge about though because I had to hitch a lift up to the tyre depot with Rachel who starts work at 08:00.

Just settling down with my morning coffee and my bagel for breakfast when Rosemary rang me up. She’s in the UK right now watching the chaos as the UK sinks beneath the waves. It seems to be quite exciting there right now, but I’m not in a hurry to find out.

We were quite busy today and it wasn’t until about 11:45, 15 minutes to closing time, that we could deal with Strider.

For a change I came home with Darren in the big Chevy lorry, bringing my bass with me. High time I had another run up and down the scales.

The girls all left to go shopping so I made myself some sandwiches and then knuckled down to work.

What I’ve been doing today is to start to add into the blog the missing entries from when I was on board The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour. I had hoped to wait until I was back home when I could deal with the photos as well, but my fans are clamouring to know what I got up to while I was away and I can no longer resist the pressure.

At the moment I’ve just come back from visiting the Dynjandi waterfall in Iceland and by the skin of my teeth I’ve managed so far to avoid too many faux-pas like treading on the bombe surprise, whistling on board ship or knocking someone base over apex out of a zodiac.

But it’s early days yet and there is plenty of time for me to get into mischief. If you start here and work your way forward, you’ll see how far I’ve come to date.

Another thing that I’ve done is to book my flight in the general direction of homeward. And, sad as it is to say it, my regular hotel in Brussels is booked up so I’m having to go to another disreputable cat-house somewhere.

God help me!

Tea tonight should have been a flatbread pizza but could I ‘eck as like find them. That is, until I was halfway through cooking something else when I put my hand straight on them. They will have to do for another time now.

So now it’s late. Darren is asleep, Hannah is back but the others are still gallivanting about somewhere. And why not? Tomorrow is Sunday, a Day of Rest with the wonderful Taylor Breakfast Brunch that brings visitors from miles around.

High time we had a few luxuries around here.

Thursday 19th September 2019 – ISN’T IT NICE …

… to be awoken by the dulcet tone of a friendly voice?

It reminds me of the time many years ago on one of my coach trips with Shearings where a passenger asked me if I would awaken her at 06:00 one morning. “Certainly” I replied. “Should I knock on your door or give you a nudge?”. In those days of course you could say things like that and people would laugh and joke about it. But today you couldn’t say a thing like that. No one has a sense of humour any more.

But anyway, just as the alarm finished ringing, the telephone rang. Rosemary had sent me a message yesterday so I has messaged her back to tell her to ring me round about midday her time.

We had a good chat about all the things that had happened to us since we parted company in Greenland in late July. I told her about my more recent adventures on The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour and she burst out laughing. “Ohh Eric” she snorted. “That’s the kind of thing that could ONLY happen to you”.

And she’s right of course. Looking back, it was all quite amusing really and I’m not sure why I took it all so seriously. But then again, I don’t think that I really did.

I’d had a good night’s sleep too. After all of my efforts yesterday I was in bed by 21:00 and out like a light. I remembered nothing until the alarm went off, although there is a sound file on the dictaphone from last night. I wonder what’s in it.

For breakfast I went down to Tim Hortons and purchased some bagels and coffee to bring back here. Eventually. For it took a good few minutes to find my way into the place.

And then I hit the streets for my storage locker. Pretty easy to get to from here too, except for the traffic. At one point I was in a queue surrounded by brand-new cars with Montreal licence plates. People in suits on their way to an office somewhere. And there I was, faded baseball cap, tatty tee-shirt in an elderly tired Ford Ranger on my way to empty out a storage locker. It looked like something out of the Beverley Hillbillies, but ask me if I care.

Yes – I can remember the Beverley Hillbillies from 50-odd years ago, but ask me what I had for lunch yesterday …

Somehow I’d left the *.mp3 player in Strider playing last night, so when I switched on the radio I had “Foxy Lady” by Jimi Hendrix blasting its way across the airwaves.
.
That’s a significant track, and for two reasons too. Firstly, when I played in a rock group with Jon Dean and Dave Hudson back in the mid-70s, that was one of the numbers that we played and it always went down well.

But secondly, it has a much more significant meaning for someone else who I met much more recently than that and she’ll understand why. The lyrics are quite relevant too, given the particular circumstances.

At the storage place I had to wait for a trolley as they were all in use. But I was soon in business. A pile of stuff was binned but a pile more (much more than I expected) was loaded into the back of Strider for further review. And then I handed back all of my paperwork and cards (and had to negotiate to receive back the deposit on my card).

And that was that. The end of another era. All of my sleeping-out stuff into the bin. But at least on one occasion and probably two I’d managed to spend every night sleeping out on the trail around Labrador, but I’m only fooling myself by pretending that one day I might be able to do it again. It saves me $33:00 per month by binning it all, but it was still an emotional moment.

But we did have a little fun there. I was brandishing a large crowbar when one of the guys came up to me. “That’s huge” he said. “It must be a metre long (it’s actually 1200mm). Why do you need a pry bar that big?”
“I drive an old Ford” I replied.

On the way back we were all carved up by some moron in one of these big Volkswagen SUVs. But I had my own back by running him up to some roadworks amd blocking him in while we all went past. He was not amused – but we were!

Back at the motel I had a shower and a clean-up, and washed my clothes. I need to keep on top of all of that while I can if I’m on the road.

Down to the Metro and off into town. From Berri-UQAM I walked down past the Gare Viger, my favourite building in the whole of the city (and what are they doing in the car park?) and down to the old harbour. A couple of ships in there but I just had a good walk right round.

Up then to rue Sherbrooke and then all the way down to the Atwater Metro Station, thinking all the time about how much I hated Montreal and everyone and everything in it. I could feel myself building up into an emotional rage. But then again, regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I have a very hard time throwing my stuff away, for reasons that any good psychiatrist could explain and it’s all probably to do with that.

I took the metro to the terminus at Cote Vertu (falling asleep for part of the way) and went to the fruit wholesalers. There, I bought grapes and bananas while the buying was good. And then across the road and the Indian cafe for tea. And when was the last time I walked away from a table leaving a half-eaten meal behind? Excellent though it was and perfectly spiced, I was bloated. Having cut right down on food over the last few weeks is certainly working…

On the way back I tried several different places and it wasn’t until the very last place just near here that I was able to find a bottle of Epinette. The last in Quebec, I reckon, and we are now facing a crisis of Brexit-like proportions if I can’t find any more.

So now it’s bed time. I’ve already crashed out twice (and so has the internet) and I’m on the verge of going again. I’m hoping for a good sleep because I have things to do tomorrow early. The battery has gone flat in the big Nikon camera and Bane of Britain has forgotten to bring the Canadian charging lead for the battery charger.

Monday 9th September 2019 – WITH HAVING TO …

… go to bed early last night in order to be on form for today, it goes without saying that I had another bad night last night.

Still awake at 01:30, and when I finally did drop off, it was just in 20 minute segments where I was off on various travels. When I unwind the dictaphone at some point in the future I can tell you all about them, but what I can say is that at one point Castor and I were joined just for a change by Pollux.

Is it the first time that the aforementioned has accompanied me on a nocturnal voyage? I shall have to check

And it was one of those nights where I kept stepping back into the voyage at exactly the same place that I had stepped out. That’s something that I’m noticing is happening more and more frequently these days and when I was having similar situations back 15 or so years ago, I found myself able eventually to move onto a third plane, and that’s when it all became exciting.

That was during the period that we were researching dreams (that lasted from about 1998 to 2006 or so) for someone’s PhD at University and so our individual research was never individually published. But I still have the notes somewhere and I’ll have to look them out when I’m back home.

The spell was however unfortunately broken round about 04:00. The batteries in the dictaphone went flat at an inopportune moment and, determined not to miss a moment, I left the bed for a spare set.

They were flat too so I had to find some more and in the meantime find the charger to charge up the flat ones.

Unfortunately this meant that by the time that I was organised and went back to bed, I’d missed my spot and ended up going off somewhere else instead and isn’t that a shame?

When Amber banged on my door, I’d been up for quite a while. Before the third alarm in fact and that’s a rare deal right now. So we went outside ready for school.

Amber doesn’t like the idea of travelling cramped up in Strider so she had negotiated use of her mother’s car for me. It was cold, damp, misty and foggy outside and I had to clean off the car before we could go anywhere.

We negotiated out way through the queues at the covered bridge (the highway is down) and much to my (and everyone else’s) surprise, the St John River valley was clear of fog and mist. As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, that’s usually the place that GETS it first.

The girls clambered out at school and I drove back to the Co-op for apples (seems that we have a little fruit-eater amongst us) and to Tim Horton’s for bagels for me for breakfast.

At the tyre depot the morning passed quickly. There were lots of people around there and we were quite busy. I sorted out some paperwork and then, grasping the nettle, I telephoned the hospital back in Leuven.

They offered me a blood transfusion on 11th October on a “take it or leave it” basis. And so I took it. After all, chemotherapy and mapthera didn’t work as we know and the product that they are trying out on me is still in the trial stage so it’s not licensed as yet in North America.

And with having missed already three of my four-weekly transfusions, heaven alone knows what my blood count might be like. It was knocking on the “critical level” back in June.

Nevertheless, I’m going to try to see if I can push it back a week or so. I have may things to do that are as yet undone and there are many opportunities waiting to come my way and that won’t be accomplished if I’m not here.

After that I went to see Ellen. She’s quite ill too and doesn’t look anything like the woman that I remember. It’s a shame but I reckon that we will both be stoking the fires of eternity together, and quite soon too. But I kept her company for an hour or so and we had a good chat.

At lunchtime I took Rachel’s car back home and picked up Strider. Then went to the Irving for lunch. Afterwards I hopped off to pick up my mail from my mail box but SHOCK! HORROR! the whole battery or mailboxes out on the River du Chute road has been flattened.

A brief drive enabled me to find another battery of mailboxes but my key didn’t work. Off to the Post Office then, where she explained that the boxes have been moved and I needed a new key. She confirmed my Canada address and gave me a new key to a different box

But even more SHOCK! HORROR! It seems that my new licence tags for Strider haven’t come through. They expire at the end of the month so I need to chase them up before I go off to Montreal and Ottawa.

And I forgot to add that with the road up there being as it is and with Strider being as he is, it was an exceedingly lively drive. Next time that I go to Labrador I shall need to take with me a change of underwear

This afternoon there was yet more work to be done. Darren needed to take some heavy springs down to the welders in Woodstock so I went along to help. By the time we got to Woodstock we were half a million strong but in the big Chevrolet lorry there was plenty of room.

Having brought the petrol back on Saturday it was the turn of the diesel. But this time, now that the lorry is mobile again, we had a proper licensed fuel tank to move the stuff about.

I have deliberately refrained from mention the world’s worst customer service that I have ever received – service that would knock Belgium’s legendary incivility to its customers into a cocked hat.

I rang Walmart in Fargo about the splash screen on my laptop and after repeating my story 7 times to 7 different people the best advice that I was given was to “reformat your hard drive and tough s**t for your data”.

That’s advice and assistance that I can well do without.

There was a major issue trying to reconcile the cash account this evening on closing so we had to stay behind to resolve the problem. Eventually, at about 18:30 we suddenly twigged – payments received after closing on Saturday lunchtime, credited though on Saturday, had been put into the till on Monday instead of being added to Saturday’s pouch.

Of course, neither I nor Rachel had been there at close on Saturday or opening on Monday, had we?

It meant that we weren’t back home until 19:00 and, much to our surprise, the girls had cooked tea. I went for a shower afterwards and then tried some of Rachel’s home-brew ice coffee, which was delicious.

Now even though it’s early, I’m off to bed. It seems that the school run is required for tomorrow (the school bus arrives too late, what with the issues on the bridge and Amber has already been cautioned once by an unreasonable Principal, and she can’t take a passenger on her scooter) and once more, Yours Truly has drawn the short straw.

And a big hello to my new readers from Montreal and Mississauga.