Tag Archives: les guis

Saturday 23rd March 2023 – A FEW MONTHS AGO …

… I bought a cheap hamburger press, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall. It was rather like an old flat iron made of plastic, with all kinds of sizes that fit inside each other like a Russian doll

It was rather cheap, both in price and quality, so I didn’t think that it would be all that much good. However I have to say that despite all that, I really am impressed with it. Almost as impressed as I was with my galvanised steel dustbin, and that will stir a few memories from times long-gone.

Actually my friend in Munich sent me ages ago a packet of dried stuff that he’d found in a vegan shop down there and posted it to me. So today I added water and mixed it, left it alone to do its thing and then out came the hamburger press

It actually made a nice, professional job of the rehydrated stuff and I now have four big, really solid burgers and as I said just now, I’m almost as impressed with them as I was with my galvanised steel dustbin.

“Whatever happened to that?” I asked myself. The last time that I saw it, it was being used as a brazier to burn a pile of weeds down the garden when I used to have my raised beds and vegetable plots. It’s probably now thoroughly and completely overwhelmed with weeds and been pulled into the soil.

It’s 10 years ago since I last planted any veg down on the farm. I had quite a lot of stuff there that year too. The following year I cracked on with the bedroom all the way through the spring and summer ad finished it – and actually moved in.

But we all know what happened in the autumn that year, don’t we?

It was almost 10 years that I lived full-time down on the farm and despite the primitive conditions I really enjoyed it. I keep on thinking – and hoping – that I’ll go back to live down there once more but I doubt that I’ll ever see it again.

For a start, I can no longer drive, and that’s always going to be a serious consideration. And then regular readers of this rubbish will recall the photos of when I was last there and it was overwhelmed by brambles. I no longer have the energy to fight my way to the front door.

Last time it took three of us – Rosemary, Ingrid and Yours Truly – a whole afternoon to reach the front door, and the time before that it was with Terry and he had brought his industrial-scale equipment to clear the path.

Still, as Dan Quayle once famously said, "It’s a question of whether we’re going to go forward into the future, or past to the back"

So I shall go past into the back and say that for a change I was in something of a hurry to go to bed last night. I didn’t hang about at all.

It was another good sleep as well and I was fighting fit (well, sort-of) when the alarm aronsed me from my slumbers.

First thing was, as usual, to check the blood pressure. 15.1/9.0 this morning, up from 14.5/9.3 last night. So something must have annoyed me last night. And if you want to know what it was, you’ll have to read on.

After the medication I came back in here, but not for long. The nurse, having been late yesterday, was early today. Today’s moan was that the plastic bag I’d put out for him wasn’t big enough and that I need to wash my puttees. I wonder what tomorrow’s will be

The bread for my cheese on toast was delicious. I had a really nice breakfast later this morning. And then I had a pleasant relax and watched a film.

Another film that has come out of copyright is HELLZAPOPPIN’ so I spent a very pleasant 85 minutes watching it, and it was nice to relax for a change.

It’s not a film to everyone’s taste because it’s partly a musical and "YOU’RE NOT GOING INTO THE SONG WHILE I’M HERE" but where its interest lies is that if ever you want to know where all of the humourists of the 1960s and early 70s like Monty Python and Marty Feldman obtained their ideas, it’s all here, everything and much more besides, and it was done in 1941.

As far as comedy and humour goes, it was light years ahead of its time and will still run the course today.

There was some stuff on the dictaphone from the night. We’d all gone out as a family together. We all had lifts with various different people so we were all spread out amongst the cars etc. A guy in a mobile home, the type that’s a shell that fits onto the back of your vehicle, took a fancy to one of my sisters. He persuaded her to travel with him. They disappeared but the rest of us kept going in a kind of convoy. We ended up stopping for the night somewhere at the side of a river. Just then this guy appeared with his camper. He wound down his window and said that he was terribly sorry but something had happened to our sister – some other people had come along, taken her, kidnapped her and carried her off. My mother said “I bet that she’s in the back of your camper”, just strode over there and wrenched open the door. My sister was in there on the bed lying down. She began to tell her tale of woe about everything that had happened to her, with my mother and brother becoming more and more angry as the story unfolded about this kidnap.

So there you are – that’s the reason that my blood pressure was up. I had the family round last night. I don’t ask them to come to visit me during the night but they always seem to, far too often for my liking. Why can’t I have Zero, TOTGA and Castor round as often as them?

But kidnapping my family members one by one sounds like a good idea. But you can all think of an idea for the ransom note – "pay us £5,000 or we’ll send them back".

That reminds me of the time when I fuelled up in Stoke on Trent only to find that I’d left my wallet behind at home. I had to leave my friend at the petrol station as hostage while I went to his house to fetch some money

When I told his wife what was the problem she told me not to bother going back, and to leave him there for good

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed we had a taxi job to do, to drive someone up to Newcastle upon Tyne for a meeting and then take them on to Edinburgh later. There was only one daytime driver and me about. The receptionist left a note for the daytime driver “be in the office 04:40 ready for a long trip”. I thought that long trips and office workers all on account etc don’t pay very much in tips if anything so I’d go to do that and let the driver carry on doing normal jobs. The only car we had was an old two-door Japanese thing from the late 1960s or early 1970s. It made something of a racket but I’d been out a few times in it and it seemed to do the job. A good long run like that would probably do it good. Of course Edinburgh – I had my niece in Edinburgh so I could go to see her. I tried to contact her but there was no luck. I thought “should I just turn up at the University there and speak to her?”. I thought that that’s probably not a good idea. But I was impressed that we had this job, going all that way but I was really disappointed that we didn’t have a better car available other than this old Japanese thing.

And that was an age-old problem too. We’d occasionally have some really high-quality work to do but never seemed to have a decent car available to do it, and when we did have a really decent car we’d never have the work. At times I despaired.

This afternoon I went a food-making.

Firstly, as I said, my friend in Munich had sent me some burger mix so I added the water, stirred it all in and then left it to fester for 20 minutes as according to the instructions

There was a box of do-it-yourself falafel powder on the shelves as I discovered when I did some tidying up a few weeks ago. So I added some water to that and left that to fester as per the instructions.

While that was doing its stuff the first lot was ready so with the hamburger press I made four really good and solid burger-types of things. They are busy freezing even as we speak.

As for the falafel, I divided that up into little balls and they are busy freezing too, along with a couple of balls that I made from the left-over stuff from the first mix.

But I’m pleased with this hamburger press as I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … It’s really simple and cheap but it made some really solid burgers and it gives me much more confidence about making more burgers from ad-hoc ingredients.

Finally there was the home-made mayonnaise. And once again, that seemed to work in spades. I made it rather more liquidy than before so we’ll see how that works out. It ended up making quite a lot more than I can use in its shelf-life, so I’ve sealed to top on the jars quite tightly.

Yes, having learned my lesson, I’ve put the mayonnaise in a better container or two.

Then we had the football – Y Bala V Connah’s Quay Nomads in one if the Welsh Cup semi-finals, played at Llandudno’s picturesque ground. And it was actually being broadcast on foreign carriers too after the disappointments of the last few games.

The first 75 minutes of the match were nothing to write home about, but it’s really hard to play creative football in a tornado.

However both sides made a couple of substitutions with 15 minutes to go and that kickstarted the game dramatically. Those last 15 minutes wee much more like the football we’d expect to see and Aron Williams scored a late winner to push the Nomads into the finals.

But spare a thought for Josh Ukek of Y Bala, who will probably go down in the record books as being on the field for the shortest period of time ever.

He came on as a substitute for Bala late in the game but almost immediately Kieran Smith, a central defender, was sent off for two bookings. Now a central defender down, Colin Caton, the Bala manager, now wanted to send on a central defender off the bench to shore up the defence.

And Ukek, who had only just come onto the field, was the man who was withdrawn to make way.

Tea was as usual a salad, baked potato and breaded quorn fillet. I know that it all seems to be the same, but I happen to like it so I don’t care.

And now rather late this evening, I’m off to bed. There’s an alarm in the morning for the nurse is coming (so I’ve washed my puttees already) so I’ll feel like death for the rest of the day. Today, I actually fell asleep for five minutes during the football.

But before I go, that story about tightly closing the lid on the mayonnaise jar did remind me of the guy who rang up his doctor
"You know those pills that you gave me to give me strength?"
"Yes" said the doctor. "How are they going?"
"I don’t know" replied the man. "I can’t get the top off the bottle".

Friday 22nd March 2024 – I’M NOT HAVING …

… much luck with my footfest this weekend. Cymru’s Under-21 match against Lithuania isn’t being streamed on a foreign carrier either tonight.

It’s just my luck, after last night’s stunning victory of the senior team against Finland following on from Cymru’s “C” team against England on Wednesday night. I was really looking forward to some football tonight. Watching Stranraer slump to a controversial 2-1 defeat to Elgin City on the swamp that is Stair Park was hardly any compensation

It’s been a really long time since I was at Stair Park – almost 50 years in fact. I was coming off the ferry from one of my trips to Northern Ireland when I saw crowds (well, perhaps not “crowds”) of people heading all in one direction, all wearing blue and white scarves. So I had to follow them to see what was going on, as if I didn’t know.

It’s so long ago now that I can’t remember who they were playing. Probably someone like Arbroath or Montrose or something. And as I don’t have my photos here from that period, I can’t even tell you the colours. But one thing that I can tell you is that the ground hasn’t changed one iota in that time. It still looks the same as it did back then.

Mind you, that’s a relief. The Taylor Report swept away many traditional football grounds and with football attendances in Scotland being what they are, we were left with far too many of these modern, soulless one-sided wonders with “room to build the other three sides when attendances improve”.

Yes, quite.

The problem in Scottish football can be summed up in two words, “Celtic” and “Rangers”.

Regular readers of this rubbish in one of its previous versions will recall that I stood outside Albion Rovers’ ground in Coatbridge where the average attendance was about 300 watching busload after busload of people wearing green and white or blue and white scarves all heading into Glasgow.

And then I was at Broadwood in Cumbernauld once watching a game between Glasgow Rangers reserves v Celtic reserves, both teams full of players that would have been a boon and an asset to any other club in Scotland. Rangers and Celtic had signed them not because they needed them but because they didn’t want any other club to have them and become a competitive threat.

And absolutely nothing whatever has changed, except that Albion Rovers have been relegated from the Scottish pyramid into the Lowland League. But as former Spurs manager Terry Venables once famously said, "if history repeats itself, I should think we can expect the same thing again"

However, I digress … "again" – ed

Last night was another one of those nights where I couldn’t tear myself out of my chair and into bed. It was something like 01:30 when I finally moved a muscle and set about doing my nightly chores. I’ve absolutely no idea what’s happening to me right now about this.

Anyway it was another really deep sleep like last night where I can’t remember a single thing until the alarm went off

When it awoke me I really was dead to the world and I had quite a battle to raise myself from the dead. They talk about “the quick and the dead” in Biblical terms but there was nothing whatever quick about it.

First thing was to check the blood pressure. 15.9/100, pretty similar to last night’s 16.0/10.1, taken when I was feeling rather stressed out trying to exert myself to go to bed. So what was winding me up during the night?

Anyway I wandered off into the kitchen to sort out the medication. I’m beginning to run low on certain things again – just supplies of a few of the tablets for a couple of weeks. I need to keep an eye on everything to make sure that I don’t run out.

Next task was to make the bread. And I put a lot of thought and effort into this lot and tried my best to knead it correctly, which is not easy.

After that I went for a good wash, scrub up and shave and all of that kind of thing, as well as washing to shorts that I’ve started to wear in bed. But I didn’t get as far as I would have liked because for once in his life the nurse was here early.

When he came in, he saw the bread buns slowly rising, said “oh look, bread!” and poked one, which promptly sank

He eventually managed to find a vein and extract some blood. And I’ve had the results already. The red blood count is slowly rising, which is no surprise given the amount of stuff they are injecting into me every Wednesday, but so is the carcinogenic protein. It should be between 59 and 104 and it’s increased from 267 to 275.

So if the red blood cells are increasing, what is the protein attacking? The answer is that it’s now attacking the platelets. They should be between 140 and 380 and they have decreased from 108 to 92. That would seem to indicate that the cancer is now moving into my bone marrow.

So what’s the next move going to be? Someone will tell me something in due course, I imagine.

Having switched off the heating in the apartment, I checked the bread again and it had risen really well and for once I was impressed, especially as I’m making hot cross buns on Sunday and I need some confidence and encouragement.

The bread baked perfectly too, lovely and soft. It made some really nice cheese on toast and there is bread for the next couple of days too

Later on today I went to pay the Property Taxes on my place in Canada. I tried for an age unsuccessfully to log into my bank account, only to discover that I was trying to access Scotia Bank Trinidad and Tobago rather than Scotia Bank Canada.

Once I’d found the correct bank, everything went really smoothly. I do like how easy it is to make payments and so on in the Canadian banking system

It’s not so easy making payments on-line in France to the French Government.

The French Government has at long last started a system of on-line payments where you can pay your bills via internet rather than sending a cheque. I went to set it up for me this afternoon, but it’s not easy.

The logical way to organise payments is to index everything by reference to a person’s identity card number, so you can log in, see your account, see what’s owing and pay it off all at once with just one payment.

Instead, everything is indexed by invoice number, so if you have more than one bill to pay, as I did, you have to log in more than once, entering all of your details, including card details, more than once, and it takes an age.

What makes life even more complicated is that it asks you to enter certain details from the invoices into certain boxes on the computer screen, and the names don’t correspond. You have to use some intuitive guesswork to figure it all out.

But what am I going to do about my place in Canada?

it was an inspired decision to buy it because all you need when dealing with Canadian administration is a Property Tax Assessment. I could open bank accounts, buy pick-ups, obtain insurance, have mobile phones, all of that, simply on production of a Property Tax Assessment and it eased my passage (if you’ll pardon the expression) around Canada.

But I’m never going to use it now and it’s just going to sit there with the apples falling off the trees year after year until the cows come home unless my niece goes up there to pick them up.

But while we’re talking about Canada … "well, one of us is" – ed … I wonder how Strider is getting on with his new owners. We travelled miles together, him, me and STRAWBERRY MOOSE. I hope that they are looking afer him.

And that reminds me – I told my niece to dispose of most of the stuff that was in there – tools, camping gear, expedition equipment and so on – but there was a Fender bass and amp in there that I used that I wanted her to keep for me. I need to think of a way of bringing them over here.

The cleaner came round this afternoon for her Friday cleaning spot, bringing my mushrooms and tomatoes with her. I retreated into my bedroom while she was here but I actually had a fall while I was in the bathroom. Luckily the chair was in my way and I fell onto that, otherwise it could have been nasty

There was some stuff on the dictaphone too, surprisingly. I had several Ford Corsairs in my drive last night. One of them was driven away and I can’t remember where it went. Someone else borrowed a set of my number-plates but hadn’t brought them back and I was becoming rather concerned about that. Anyway there was some more car-swapping that needed to be done. I had to bring another Ford Cortina into my drive. That was parked in Gainsborough Road so I had to go down there to it, start it and bring it back. That was a Safari Beige colour but I was thinking that if I were to paint it blue I could put on the number-plates that this guy had borrowed because they belonged to a blue estate. I could make a set of plates but what would be the position if someone saw both vehicles, mine and the one on which presumably the guy had put the plates, and noticed that there were two vehicles with the same set of plates? What would my neighbours say if I were to turn up with yet another car after I’d just had one taken away somewhere? I got into the Cortina Estate. The clutch was right down on the floor and it was difficult to start. I thought that I better hadn’t leave vehicles lying around for so long without actually starting them up otherwise I’m just going to make myself a lot of problems

This is something of a recurring dream, isn’t it, having Cortinas scattered all around the town. It’s just like in real life when I actually did, including a beige Cortina estate and a blue one too.

But swapping over number plates from one car to another? And VIN plates too? I look back on those years with amazement and wonder how on earth I managed to keep clear of some serious trouble. Six months at Her Majesty’s Pleasure would have been nothing. I had to stop and leave the country because those years were catching up on me rather rapidly

My excuse was though that when you are up to your neck in alligators, it’s hard to realise that you are really trying to drain the swamp. Taking drastic and rapid steps to solve short-term issues can lead to some really long-term problems further down the line.

It’s a surprise though having Ford Corsairs around the place for a change. I didn’t think that it would be too long though before a Cortina or two appeared.

So this afternoon I’ve chosen some more music for another radio programme and began to pair it off before tea but I ran out of time, mainly due to going away with the fairies for an hour or so. And miles away too, it has to be said.

But tea was lovely – the last Kale and Quinoa burger from Noz, and I’ll have to find a way of making those because they were nice, especially in breadcrumbs.

Last of the home-made mayonnaise too, although it might not have been had I used a more convenient container. Still, you live and learn.

However, the mayonnaise was an unqualified success. It was too thick and I’d used too much garlic, but those are minor problems. The principle was perfect and tomorrow, I’ll make some more, having learned from my first batch.

So what with that and making hot cross buns on Sunday it looks as if I’m going to be in for a busy weekend. And it’ll do me good right now because I seem to be doing too much of nothing right now.

So what else can I make while I’m at it? I shall have to pick Liz’s brains, and I’ll welcome any suggestions from anyone else too

But before I go, the story of my mayonnaise in the wrong bottle reminds me of that aerosol that came onto the market in the 70s. The publicity for it went something like "enough paint to cover 70 square metres of panelling"
And someone wrote underneath the advert "and enough propellant to get just about a quarter of it out of the can"

Monday 18th March 2024 – I’M SUPPOSED TO …

… be going to Paris tomorrow for a visit to the opthalmologists’s at the hospital.

When I was at the hospital just now I mentioned that this blurred vision that I’m having right now is interrupting just about everything that I do.

It’s not just blurred vision either but for objects close too, I’m actually seeing double. Double just about everything, except my bank account, that is. You try watching a football match on the internet when you see it like that.

At least that explains why there are so many tpying errors and faults in the speling. I’m not able to poof-read what I type because I can’t see it.

However, there is absolutely no chance whatever of me being anywhere near Paris tomorrow. For a start, I need a bon de transport for the trip, which they never sent, and then the trip needs to be approved by the Social Services.

And then I need to book a car to take me, always assuming that there’s one available at short notice and always assuming that the trip is approved.

Approval won’t be for a couple of weeks, so that immediately rules out any possibility whatever of going tomorrow.

How I found out was by reading my text messages this afternoon. No-one called me or spoke to me. The message just appeared and I didn’t notice it until it was far too late to ring up to cancel it

It goes without saying that I’m impressed, as I always am, with the speed of reaction of the French Health Service, but I can see that I’m going to have to train the hospital much better than this. At Castle Anthrax, for example, we finally managed, after much trying, to synchronise the appointments so that they all took place while I was there at Haematology. I need to do the same here.

In theory, seeing as I’m going on a day visit and carrying no luggage, I could attempt the train and have help to see me to and from a taxi in Paris but firstly, I need at least 24 hours notice to apply for the service. Secondly, with these puttees on my feet I can’t wear my shoes and thirdly, I have a Welsh class tomorrow.

In other words, it’s a total non-starter.

There will probably be a rude message for me later on tomorrow, rather like the time that I was late for work.
"You should have been here at 09:00" shouted the boss
"Why?" I asked. "What happened?"
After a few weeks he called me into his office.
"You are coming into the office later and later" he said
"I do actually make up for it" I said
"How’s that?" he asked
"Well look how early I leave for home!"

But problems with my vision will probably explain why I’m having trouble finding my bed.

Last night was another 02:30 switching off of the computer. I was actually really tired but far too tired to stir my stumps and rise up from my chair. It’s been a few times that that’s happened and I really don’t know what to do about it.

What I probably need to do is to force myself and make an effort, but that’s easier said than done. I have said before that I have so many things to do but keep on forgetting to do them. Actually, the problem is that I have so many things to do but can’t find the effort or the motivation.

It’s not just my dreams that are going through my death-throes, it’s me, I reckon, and I’m taking my dreams with me as I go.

When the alarm went off you can’t imagine (well, actually I suppose that you can) the struggle that I had to leave the bed. I managed to beat the second alarm but it was just like the Duke of Wellington at Waterloo and "the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life".

First things first, and I did manage to remember the blood pressure – 14.8/8.2 this morning, down from 15.8/10.0 when I’d checked it before going to bed.

After the medication I went into the bathroom and had a really good wash and scrub up in the hope that it might awaken me but it didn’t seem to work. I was in no fit state to do anything.

When the nurse came to see me, I got my own back. Taking off my puttees last night I lost one of the clips, so when she came in this morning I said "You’re going to have a go at me again today"
"I didn’t have a go at you yesterday" she said
"Yes you did" I insisted. "But anyway, taking of my puttees last night I lost one of the clips"
And she was quite nice about it.

But I certainly saw a side of her yesterday that I had never suspected.

But she’s off now for a rest and it will be her sidekick for a week starting tomorrow. He’s the one who can’t ever find a vein in my arm for his blood sample so on Wednesday we’ll probably have a “discussion” about that too.

After she left I came back in here but really I was in no fit state to do any work. In fact I missed my morning coffee and lunchtime fruit because I couldn’t find the enthusiasm to leave my chair.

It was late afternoon when I finally moved and went for some hot chocolate – the first food or hot drink that I’d had all day.

My cleaner came in the stuff that had finally arrived at the pharmacy, and we had a chat. I gave her a shopping list of things that I need from LeClerc tomorrow that they won’t deliver, and she photographed a couple of bottles and jars as an aide-memoire

An energy drink later on did something for me, and I transcribed the dictaphone notes, such as there were from such a sad night. The tenant of one of my apartments wanted my friend to meet two new sub-locataires but she didn’t have the slightest bit of interest whatever in seeing them and felt that the management of the property in their respect should fall on the guy who’s leasing it rather than whoever was the principal leaseholder . She didn’t have the slightest wish whatever to become involved in his sub-letting.

Although I dictated that it was my apartment, it actually belongs to the friend who was included in the dream. She owns a couple of apartments and is actually, even as we speak, having issues with one of her tenants and the management company involved that are on the verge of escalating.

But the whole letting industry in the UK is all descending into total chaos anyway. A property that was completely rewired five years previously failed its electrical certificate at next renewal.
"Why was that? What was wrong with it after five years?"
"Well, nothing actually, but standards have now changed and what was good enough five years ago is no longer adequate"
"So you’d better have someone fix it for me"
"We would have already done it, but we can’t find any tradesmen to do it."
Conversations like that actually do take place.

There was time to finish off the radio programme that I started yesterday (apart from dictating and editing the notes that I wrote for the final track) before going for my stuffed pepper. Quite delicious again. The couscous instead of the quinoa or bulghour works really well.

Plenty of stuffing left for my taco roll tomorrow and there will probably be some for the basis of a leftover curry too on Wednesday.

But that’s Wednesday. Right now I’m going to make a huge effort and go to bed. Walter Reisch said "tired minds don’t plan well. Sleep first, plan later" and he’s not wrong. The way that I feel, I couldn’t even plan a whatsit in a wherever right now.

It’s more a case of Maccbeth and "to-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow creeps in this petty pace from day to day" and as everyone knows, after my experiences in the High Arctic, I’LL GIVE ALL MY TOMORROWS FOR A SINGLE YESTERDAY

Sunday 25th February 2024 – I’VE HAD A …

… lovely chat with Ingrid this afternoon. Another one of our multilingual ones and which ended up as a Rosemaryesque conversation of 1 hour and 15 minutes. It’s nice to be popular.

It’s also nice to have had a really good night’s sleep too.

After the dictating the usual load of rubbish that passes for radio programme notes these days, I was in bed for 01:30. And then waking up ay 09:25 without having felt a thing, and then not leaving the bed until 11:30 What is there that is any better than that at my advanced age?

First thing that I did was to look at my foot. I had to take off my elasticated stocking on the right foot last night as it was irritating the foot.

A closer examination this morning reveals that the fabric of the sock has rubbed it raw for some reason and it’s inflamed. The skin is flaking around the wound too so a day or so in the fresh air followed by a disinfected cloth covering will do it good.

It’s a good job that I have some surgical tissues and alcohol disinfectant. They should help it heal and in the meantime I’ll show it to the doctor at the Centre de Re-education when I go there in 10 days.

Next step was to check my blood pressure. This morning it was 17.4/10.1 which compares with last night’s 17.7/10.5. So what excited me during the night? it certainly wasn’t TOTGA, Castor or Zero.

After the medication I came back in here to find out what had happened during the night. And it was rather disappointing, if not depressing. I’d been in a van with someone and we’d been driving somewhere. We had to stop because the person with me wanted a cup of coffee. We had a rope with us and I wanted to tie it up to something so that it would stay in the van. The only thing that I could find was the handgrip over the door. I tied the rope there with a kind of knot and went out to have my coffee. For some reason the rope wouldn’t stay tied. tt managed to untie itself and at that moment I actually awoke. That rope wasn’t right for some reason.

That’s not exactly what I call an exciting dream. The way things are in my life right now he only excitement that I have is what goes on during the night.

And not just with TOTGA, Zero or Castor either. While of course I’m delighted if one of them comes along with me on a travel, that’s really the icing on the cake. Having adventures, voyages and bizarre encounters is what my dreams should be all about regardless of who (with the exception of my family of course) comes with me.

Boring, sad and uneventful encounters have no place to play in my life, especially during the hours of darkness.

Instead I went for lunch – cheese on toast and porridge with strong black coffee to fire up the imagination.. And there are no complaints about my bread. It’s not perfection – in fact, it’s a long way from it, but it’s better than a couple of weeks ago.

Back in here, rather later than usual, I made a start on the radio programme whose notes needed editing. And while I was … errr … elsewhere during a little break, Ingrid phoned me.

after I’d washed my hands I phoned her back and we had our lengthy chat. Her elderly cat, who was 20 years old, has died, so she told me. And that’s sad news. Mind you, 20 years s a good age for a cat, especially around the Auvergne with so many predators

She’s talking about coming up to see me, which will be lovely. In fact there are a couple of people in the Auvergne who have been talking about coming up here. Not just to see me of course, but to have a little holiday break, and Ingrid is talking about hitching a ride with them.

If they do all come up here, it’ll make a nice break for them and a welcome distraction for me. Up here locked in my little room while my leg is healed and the lift is being repaired is doing me no good.

They say that the lift might be fixed by Friday in which case I can go to the shops on the bus.

The lifts here only go to the half-landings which is a shame. They don’t actually go to the floors where the front door is or the apartments are.

That’s something that sounds very strange but this is a 17th Century building built before lifts of course, and as it’s a registered historic building we can’t knock it about how we like

Before Ingrid phoned I was planning on making some biscuits as I’d run out but it was too late now. Instead I went and rolled out the pizza dough that had been defrosting since I took it from the freezer after lunch.

Yes, Ingrid on the phone or not, nothing will stop the relentless march of the Sunday pizza.

So now that my notes are written, I’ll have a think about finishing off the assembly of the radio programme and then choose the final track and write the notes for it. I’m not sure if I’m up to dictating them but we’ll see. Ralph Marston said "Rest when you’re weary. Refresh and renew yourself, your body, your mind, your spirit. Then get back to work" but if I were to do that, I would never ever restart.

With this new medication, I’ve noticed several side-effects kicking in. I’m having difficulty with my eyes (hence the typos), I’m all confused (you should see the mess that I’ve made of this radio programme) and I’m just so tired – all the time too.

There was an interesting paragraph in the Woolhope Naturalists (not “Naturists”) Club’s 1867 Annual Report which said that "the history of a people, for the most part, is but the detail of the trials and calamities that have occurred to them", and that is something with which I can personally relate.

Sunday 22nd October 2023 – I WASN’T ACTUALLY …

… far wrong with what I said yesterday. Much of the morning was taken up with a very lengthy exchange of correspondence with someone about a task that needs to be undertaken in the near future.

It’s a task that might involve me spending a lot of money, but it’s not something that I can do myself and the sooner it’s done the better. And in view of the travelling involved that I won’t have to do, I will probably end up saving money in the long run too.

And so it’s very important that the issue is very clear and unequivocal – hence the lengthy discussion.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … apartment I dictated the notes for the final radio programme in this backlog, had a listen to them, binned them and then started again.

As a result, I was in bed later than I intended.

Nevertheless, by 09:30 I was up and about and sorting out issues here and there. And then I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. There was some kind of race going on last night. It involved me dressing up in some kind of clothing as if for Halloween… "it’s called drag racing" – ed. I was being chased down some stairs by a little girl. When I reached the bottom, I’d run round the corner and then back up the stairs, reach the top, run around the corner and then back down again and so on. I was in front of the girl and she raced after me. This went on for a couple of minutes when suddenly she stopped running. I hadn’t noticed until I suddenly appeared on the landing at the same moment that she was there. That was the end of the game. I was convinced that she had cheated. It was really quite an uncomfortable moment. The conversation carried on about something else. It ended up being some kind of prize-giving for novels. Some guy had written a novel that was quite in-depth technically and longer and even changed into fifth gear but the one that won was another that was not so complicated and only had four gears. This was something else that caused a great deal of controversy during the night about why the winner was not so technically advanced as the one that came second.

There was also another kind of fancy-dress competition. It involved dressing up in clothes that we already had and then some kind of parade around where they would choose the winner. For some reason or other, even though I had a complicated outfit that it took a while to fit into and looked really good it didn’t come as high as another dressing-up outfit that wasn’t as good as mine and had been done much quicker. Of course, as you can imagine, I was extremely disappointed that my work wasn’t worth any more than the teacher had given me.

later on I was on Crewe railway station waiting for my train, an old 2-coach multiple unit. Someone was complaining about something and I couldn’t understand it at first. It suddenly clicked for me that there had been a change of the time of the train. The usual train that we caught to go to work was leaving 5 minutes earlier. I had to scramble around the station and onto the correct platform. Instead of going to sit in my usual place on the train I sat right at the front. When I boarded the train there it was actually quite crowded and there were very few seats left. One seat was next to some kind of woman whom I recognised so I went to sit there. I was hemmed in by this woman and three other people. They were all speaking Welsh and began to talk in Welsh. They were actually doing their Welsh homework ready for the lesson. Much as I didn’t like at all where I was sitting, I reckoned that a presence like this, doing the same kind of course that I was and willing to discuss it like this, these people have to be worth knowing. Maybe I ought to do my best to catch this train again.

And then I’d been doing something down in south-west England. On my way round I’d passed a small fishing village in a little cove on the border between Devon and Cornwall. Checking my plans for the return, I saw that I’d have to wait for a day or two before coming back but there was a bus that left that village that would bring me home. I thought that it sounded like a really good plan. I made arrangements to book myself on this coach back. I went to hire a car for the weekend, which seemed to work fine with no problems. I went to pick it up. On the way out I talked to the guy in the movement control at the door, saying “I now have this car for 48 hours. See you when I return”. He replied “no – you had this car booked for yesterday and today”. I replied “that can’t possibly be the case – I’ve only just booked it”. This led to quite an argument. In the end he agreed that I could leave with the car. I wasn’t happy about leaving because I had the idea in my mind that once my back was turned he’d forget about altering the booking and I’d end up having to pay a hefty excess charge for not bringing the vehicle back during the day on the Sunday

Finally, I’d gone to Algeciras for something and was standing on a high cliff. I could see all down the African coast in the mist. I could see the mountains of Africa in the distance and all the boats coming through the Straits of Gibraltar. There was one of these high-speed catamaran ferries coming up. We reckoned that it had come from Morocco heading into port. There were loads of ships too. The people with me decided to walk back into town but I was so mesmerised by what I’d seen that I just stayed there and watched the view.

And so compared to last night it was quite quiet.

After that I’ve been sending off requests for brochures. We’re talking about a chairlift in this building to go up the stairs to where the lift begins and my cleaner had collected a few adverts from various companies. My task was to arrange for some brochures to be delivered.

Later on after lunch I attacked the radio notes and eventually ended up with a completed radio programme. That’s taken me up to 10th May next year and now I can crack on with some more.

You’re probably wondering why I’m so far ahead with the programmes. The answer is that I’m never sure when I’m no longer going to be able to prepare any more, for obvious reasons.

And then of course, we could always have a repeat of last year when I spent 13 weeks in hospital without any possibility of preparing any more while I’m away.

On the subject of hospital, I packed my bags for tomorrow morning and wrote a few letters. Finally, I backed up the computer onto the portable USB stick that I take with me on my travels

Tea was another delicious pizza, and now I’m off to bed.

Tomorrow morning I have to be up at 05:20 at the latest and I’m not looking forward to that. And then I’ll be having a week of being torn apart.

As for when I’ll be back, I have no idea. I have been told to “set aside a week” but that could be anything from “back home the same night” to another three-month stay.

But I shall just be glad of a rest. It’s been a long time since I’ve had any.

Wednesday 22nd June 2022 – WELCOME HOME

les guis virlet France Eric Hall photo June 2022This morning I went round to my house in Virlet. And I’m not going to say too much about it because it was so depressing.

You’ll be able to see what I mean by looking at this photograph. There was no way of getting even close to the house because of all the weeds and brambles.

The last time that I was there two years ago I was able to fight my way into the place with the aid of a heavy-duty brush-cutter but I’m in no fit condition to even attempt that these days.

And in any case I don’t have a brush-cutter. So that ruled that out. But it was such a disappointment.

And for a change, until I saw my house I was feeling fighting-fit. I’d eventually gone off to sleep despite all of the celestial artillery and wasn’t that a real racket? It was the loudest storm that I’ve lived through for quite a while.

As far as I knew I slept right the way through until about 06:45 and stayed in bed until 07:30. The morning cup of tea was rather later than usual.

After breakfast we set off. The house of a friend of Rosemary had been badly bashed about in a hailstorm and some temporary repairs had been effected. The insurance company needed to know that it was properly tarpaulined and as the owner is away right now, Rosemary was charged with the task of going and taking some photos.

It was after that that we went to inspect my pile.

Back here we had a coffee and I had another session with Miss Ukraine and her animal encyclopedia. Considering that she doesn’t speak English or French and I don’t speak Ukrainian (just a dozen or so words of Russian) we had an extremely dynamic chat that went on for ages and she guessed my favourite animal – turning straight away to the page with Polar Bears on it.

Yes, I seem to be flavour of the month right now and I’m not sure why. Rosemary seems to think that I’m the only person who ever listens to kids properly when they talk and that’s the nicest compliment someone has paid me for quite a while.

As I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … I think that kids get a pretty raw deal out of life. No-one ever seems to take any time with them or have any interest in them and what they have to say.

After lunch Rosemary had to go for a doctor’s appointment so I stayed behind and listened to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night. We were camping, my brother and I. There was a river that was full of rocks. I made a kind of improvised ram out of an old railway carriage bogie and dropped it in the water on top of these rocks with the aim that the water would carry it down, clear some of these rocks and make the water run quicker. It jammed up under a bridge so I had to get there and free it off. That took quite a while. I set it off again and it hadn’t gone more than 20 yards when it became stuck in the bank of the river. This caused a big rock fall into the river and blocked the river. I thought that what I’d been doing so far hadn’t been a very great success. I had to make tea and we were camping. We had a couple of tents and there was a caravan oven there. There was a shop-bought pizza and I had to make another one. The first thing that I nearly did was to fall into the river. My brother came to see what was going on and gave me a few lectures about everything. Then I started to unwrap the shop-bought pizza ready to put in the oven. That could be cooking while I was making mine. But I didn’t have any ingredients to hand so I was debating with myself how I was going to make this pizza when I hadn’t any ingredients and no facilities like a table or anything to make the pizza on.

And later we’d been in a kind of museum or exhibition or something like that and were on our way out. I’d gone and picked up 2 packets of crisps but I couldn’t work out where to pay for them. I was halfway through walking out of the building before I realised that this wasn’t right so I went to put back these 2 packets of crisps and walked out down these steps. There were hundreds of coaches in this car park and thousands of people milling around. Eventually I worked my way round to where I thought our coach was parked but there was a coach there and they were shepherding a load of prisoners of war off it and marching them off. We were told to wait so we waited for a while but no-one came so in the end we set off towards our coach. This guy with a wooden leg came back and asked what we were doing. We replied that we were going to the coach. He told us we should have waited but we answered that we’d waited for long enough. He made us all sit down in the middle of the street and he asked “where’s this opium?”. We asked “what opium?” and he started playing silly games with us. He said that he was going to make us march all the way back again which we refused to do. We were sitting there in the middle of the road and he was becoming quite aggressive but we were having none of it. There was a party of girls sitting close by. One of them was one with whom I’d wandered around this museum. She shouted over to me that she had taken £1100 out of her bank account, given £310 to someone for something but couldn’t remember what this other £800 was for. Did I know? Could I remember? I remembered vaguely something but this wasn’t the time or place to mention it so I told her that I’d see her later. She replied “if there is a later” because this situation was slowly starting to escalate.

This afternoon I’ve had to help Mr Ukrainian dismantle the interior of his car. I the storm last night he had about 3 inches of water in it. We ended up taking out all of the seats and carpets and putting them somewhere to dry, and then using cloths to take out the water

Tea tonight was the leftover vegetable curry from last night and it was just as nice as yesterday.

So that was that. Rosemary and I were on our own for the evening so we didn’t stay out long. Right now I’m finishing my notes and then I’m off to bed. An early night and more pleasant dreams, I hope.

But who was the girl who I’d been with at that museum? I wish I knew. And I’m sure that you do too.

Thursday 14th October 2021 – IT’S BEEN ONE …

…of those days when very little seemed to go right today.

Such things as having yet another bad night’s sleep, awakening bolt-upright for no good reason at 06:00 exactly, that sort of thing.

And despite having turned on the heating in the room last night, it was flaming cold as well.

The way that I leapt out of bed was hardly “with alacrity” this morning. I waited around for a few minutes for the room to stop spinning before I left my stinking pit.

After the medication I checked my mails and messages, had my breakfast and then went for a shower. And despite having turned up the heating to “full”, it was still cold and I didn’t enjoy the shower at all.

There had been a couple of voyages on the dictaphone during the night too. I was out looking at property or trying to find somewhere last night for me and my cars but there was nothing suitable. Nowhere had any land – anything with any land was immediately bought, demolished and built on and you couldn’t find a thing. The Estate Agent wasn’t very helpful either. He was telling me that that was what happens and the only thing to do was to keep on looking, put my name of a few properties and see what happens. He asked me the usual questions – what kind of place did I want? Did it need to be improved? And so on. He asked how many cars I had and he nearly died when I said “12”.

There was also something about our friend in Virlet last night, whoever “our friend in Virlet” might be. It was going dark and I was working round the side of the barn when someone came round and they weren’t expecting to see me. They were totally surprised that I was there. They asked where was the handle – the broken handle out of the fork that I had taken out yesterday that I’d put down somewhere? I replied “I gave the fork and the handle back to you. Where did you put it?”. He couldn’t remember where and that was all that I remember.

Having made my sandwiches I headed off through town towards the hospital, taking a few photos on the way.

balls and glory tiensestraat leuven belgium Eric Hall photo October 2021Some of the photos didn’t turn out, for a reason that I haven’t understood.

But of the ones that did, this is a shop and restaurant in the Tiensestraat that sells hand-crafted meatballs. And I’m not sure exactly how much demand there might be for hand-crafted meatballs but they have been here for a while so they must be doing some good somehow.

The shop is called “Balls and Glory” but if you ask me, there isn’t much glory in making hand-crafted meatballs. To me, it sounds like it’s all … well, quite.

olleke bolleke sweet shop tiensestraat leuven belgium Eric Hall photo October 2021A little further on down the road is another shop with a bizarre name.

Olleke Bolleke is a sweet shop that sells by the 100 grammes these gelatine-laden sweets that are bad for the teeth. I first encountered one of these shops in Brugge in the 1970s and the chain seems to be going from strength to strength.

As it happens, I’ve never actually been in one but I don’t think that there’s very much olleke being sold in there . It’s probably all … well, quite.

There wasn’t all that much happening in the town centre today. The exhibition for the cycle race has been cleared away and there’s nothing much as yet been put in its place.

pavilion sint pieters hospital brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric Hall photo October 2021The exhibition has even gone from the site of the Sint Pieter’s Hospital.

The marquee or pergola or whatever it is is looking very sad right now with nothing going on. Just a pile of benches and a few tables that aren’t serving any useful purpose.

But imagine that in the UK. You would have to chain the furniture down to the floor and even so, it would still go missing. Life is so much calmer here in Europe.

But the palm trees will need to go missing soon because it won’t be long before we start to have the frosts and I can’t see them doing very well over the winter if they are left out there.

building work demolition work sint pieters brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric Hall photo October 2021Further along the Brusselsestraat work is continuing apace.

Not on the old medieval tower though, that’s still covered in scaffolding and roofing sheets to protect it from damage while the demolition continues.

But you can tell by the rest of the machinery that they are still in there demolishing that other building. I’d have shown you how that was proceeding, except that the photo didn’t turn out.

Several others didn’t turn out either, as I discovered later, and I’ve no idea why.

building work kapucijnenvoer leuven belgium Eric Hall photo October 2021usually I leave the photos of the building work in the kapucijnenvoer until on the way home but as I’m not coming straight home this evening, I went that way towards the hospital.

The building that backs onto the Zongang is coming on in leaps and bounds which is quite a surprise for Belgium and it can’t be long now before they think about finding some occupants for it.

It’s rather tough though for the occupants of that nice little house in the Zongang who now have this new building blocking out all their light.

There’s another building site in the Kapucijnenvoer as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, but the photo of that was one that didn’t turn out.

The climb up the hill to the hospital was a little better than it had been last time. I managed to push 50 yards on the distance that I made last time before I needed to stop for breath.

At the hospital I had a CT scan of my chest – and then I had to wait. “I’m sorry that you had to wait so long” said the nurse. “I had to send for a doctor to look at the images”. I don’t like the sound of that very much.

After a wait around I had to go for another test to measure the capacity of my lungs – breathing in and out of a long tube.

Finally I could go round to the Oncology department for my usual treatment. I arrived there at 13:40 for my treatment that was timed for 14:00, and I was finally seen at 14:45. I’ve no idea what was happening today that was making them run so late.

It was 17.30 before the doctor came to see me too but at least this time it was a doctor who was very concerned and very interested – not like the one that I had a couple of times ago.

My blood count has seen a dramatic rise – to 9.7 and I’ve no idea why. He went through my other results too and explained them to me. Apparently there wasn’t much out of order with my breathing and my lungs in the way in which they are functioning.

As a result he’s going to try to make an appointment with a cardiologist for me who will hopefully probe my case a little further. I didn’t tell him that my doctor at home is also on the case. 2 opinions are better than one.

This all finished by me being hours late for everything so I waited at the hospital for Alison to come there and pick me up. We went round to her house, having to go back to the hospital to pick up the medication that I had forgotten.

Alison had bought some vegan sausages so while I cooked them, she went to the fritkot for some chips. And it was a lovely tea too.

Afterwards we had a lengthy chat until I began to go to sleep so she kindly ran me home. Now I’m off to bed for a good lie in. No alarm in the morning – I’m going to sleep until I wake up

Tuesday 20th October 2020 – AFTER ALL …

… of the exertions over the last few days I failed miserably this morning.

Never mind the third alarm – it was 07:20 when I left the bed – more than an hour of the day wasted.

And when I listened to the dictaphone I recoiled somewhat too. All of these notes to transcribe. I was running the taxis and there was Doreen, Nerina and mme running the taxis on Saturday night. A job came in to go somewhere way up north and I Do mean way up north. In the end they decided that I should go, and go on a motorbike and that some other driver should come in. I went on my motorbike all the way up to the far north of Scotland to drop off this package and came all the way back. By now it was starting to get light next morning. I’d arranged to pick up Percy Penguin up after work so I guessed that she would still be asleep in her shop. I tried to ring her but my mobile phone wouldn’t work so I just went on round there anyway and she let me in. By now she had transformed into an old black woman who was going to come home with me to the taxi office. She had a couple of big bags of shopping and it ended up with me having to carry them. I was pretty much weighed down. When I got home Doreen was still there. She said that she was glad that she sent me on the motorbike because they’d been really busy throughout the night and had a really good night working non-stop. I had a quick glance through the sheets and saw that there was some ROF work there. I thought “did we have a contract with ROF these days? We used to”. She said “oh no, that’s some tuition that Nerina and I have been doing. We’ve been teaching some people from there”. Later on I was walking home through the streets of Brussels. There was a motorbike shop. It was pretty late at night/early in the morning type of going home but this place was open so I went in. I had a little sit on a Honda 50, a play-around and it transformed itself into a big motorbike. We ended up a group of us talking about motorbikes. Someone prepared some kind of soup and someone drank it. But someone warned “no, no, don’t drink that soup” but she drank it and transformed into soe kind of evil persona. We had to be very careful about what we’d do. But then a couple there said to another woman “come on, we have to go down to the Isle of Thanet to do something”. So they took her away. When she came back she was about 12 feet tall and her upper part was like a metal rod with a metallic design like a hollow shield for a head and also quite evil. It turned out that almost every one of these people had been transformed into some kind of evil thing through a drink or through a soup. So I started throwing the soup on the floor and drinks on the floor to break the bottles so they wouldn’t have to drink it but these people were laughing saying “Oh God it’s far too late now. You’re all going to be absorbed”. It led to a bit of a chase around this place. There was something too about a cake in an oven. I was eating a cake, the type of fruit loaf bread that I make. Meantime I was putting something else in the oven. People were wondering about that and having a laugh but someone else said “Eric? Ohh yes he really does bake and his baking is really quite good” which shut a few people up. But this battle thing with these weird people carried on until in the end there was only me and I couldn’t find anyone else who was sane. It was going to be a really stressful kind of situation. It’s no wonder that I awoke in a feverish sweat yet again.

But there was much more to it but I can’t remember any more now. And after all of that it’s probably just as well.

It left little time for any revision of my Welsh and as a result the lesson was something of a disaster. And I wasn’t the only one either. We were given part of a sample test paper for our exam and we all made a right mess of it. Mind you, we went 1 hour 50 minutes before we stopped for a break and my head had long-since turned to jelly by then.

Mind you, that’s not a surprise. There’s something – and someone – on my mind today. And it brings back memories of three late night evenings in, of all places, on the deck of a ship in the High Arctic where I changed the habits of a lifetime.

As Kris Kristofferson once wrote, “I’ll give all my tomorrows for a single yesterday”. And I will too!

But enough of my being all maudlin now of all moments. I won’t get anywhere dwelling on the past like this.

At lunch I finished off the last of the bread and the last of the hummus so it looks as it it’s going to be another food-making day too tomorrow morning. One thing that has also finished a long while ago is the ginger and lemon drink. That’ll have to be something else on the list too.

This afternoon I’ve had an exciting task.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I bought a new computer in something of a hurry in North Dakota last August when the little travelling Acer gave up the ghost. It was a sale item from Walmart heavily reduced but it came with Walmart’s splash screen and everything else on it that annoyed me but which I didn’t have the time right them to fix.

As I went along, I patched it here and there but it still wasn’t satisfactory so being fed up and having nothing better to do I did a “system restore” to “factory settings” and that involved deleting everything off the hard drive and starting again to reinstall everything.

And when I say “reinstall”, I say that advisedly because after about 6 hours of work it’s done about 88% of the operating system, never mind anything else.

repairing roof rue st jean Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallIn the middle of all of this, while the computer was festering away, I went out for my afternoon walk.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that a few weeks ago in the Place du parvis Notre Dame we saw them set up a series of scaffolding in order to repair a roof on a house there. Today, they are attacking the side of the house that’s in the Rue St Jean.

And they aren’t using any scaffolding either apparently down the side of the house. All of the material seems to be being lifted up by the big machine there and that’s going to cause a few problems if something big comes down there.

Wednesday and Thursday we’ve been promised storm-force winds here (as seems to be usual these days). I don’t fancy being up there on a roof when they are lashing about. And I don’t fancy walking underneath where the guys are working either when there’s a wind blowing all of their stuff away.

peche a pied Plat Gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere were crowds of people wandering around today taking in the air and I ended up chatting to one of my neighbours at the viewpoint in the Rue du Nord.

After he had gone I had a look down onto the beach to see what was going on. The peche à pied is still in full swing as far as the tourists go. There were several more out there in amongst the rocks scavenging for what they could find.

As well as that, we had people milling around, walking their dogs, playing sports or even just taking in the air. After all, although the weather was cold and windy, it wasn’t unpleasant.

Marité Port de Granville Harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallThe crowd had thinned out by the time that I reached the Square Maurice Marland so I had a good run across to the other side to rack up a bonus run.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that yesterday the harbour was empty – of water and of boats. Today though we have the water back, and also the boats. Marité has returned and is moored in her little corner again.

So I carried on along the walls and as there was no-one in the street I ran on home again. I may as well clock up some extra metres on my way around when I can.

Back here I carried on with the laptop and then had a break when Rosemary rang me up. While I was in the Auvergne in July I had set “certain steps” in motion and, much to my surprise, they had actually come to fruition . That means some more outlay and I have to do it because it involves several other people.

Tea tonight was veggie balls with steamed veg and vegan cheese sauce – thoroughly delicious. And the other half of my apple turnover was even better. It’s the best one that I have ever made and I’m really impressed with that.

Trawler English Channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallMy walk this evening was something of a surprise.

Well, not my walk, but my run. I was feeling much more like it tonight, much looser, and I ran on past my mark on my first leg with some comparative ease. Down to the clifftop and there was a trawler way out to sea with its bright lights blazing. Too good an opportunity to miss even though it won’t come out well.

It’s probably 5 miles out to sea as well so all in ill it’s not bad at all seeing as it was the f1.8 50mm lens. I’ll settle for that.

Fishing Boats Unloading Port de Granville Harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallNo-one around at all, except for a couple of kids on the car park so I could do my third leg in peace.

At the viewpoint over the harbour where I stop to recover my breath, I could see all of the activity going on at the Fish Processing Plant. The fishing boats are starting to come back into harbour and there were already two of them down there unloading, with a couple more on the way.

One had carried on into the harbour but I missed her. Presumably she’s going to unload at the other side. But never mind. This one has come out OK so I’m not disappointed.

Chantier Navale Port de Granville Harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallIf I turn my head to the right I can also see into the Chantier Navale.

And here we have a change of occupant yet again. The new little boat that arrived a couple of days ago has now gone but we have been joined instead by a large yacht that bears a striking similarity at this angle to Spirit of Conrad, the boat on which we went down the coast a few months ago.

Of course in this light, it’s not possible to say with any certainty. I’ll have to wait until it’s light and have another look.

And so I ran on the rest of the way home, doing it in two legs as usual but even did an additional lap of honour round the building to push up the total even more.

Now that my notes are written and I’m off to bed. But before I do, just a quick “hi” to someone who made a dramatic reappearance this morning. I’ll be in touch as soon as I can organise myself, whenever that might be.

Wednesday 12th August 2020 – ANOTHER SWELTERING DAY …

… in the middle of this heatwave in Southern Germany. And I have surrendered to it all by buying a desktop fan to go with the USB fan that I bought for Caliburn yesterday (did I mention that?).

This morning, it was again 28°C early on and the news that there had been a cloudburst and that my home town back in the UK was 12 inches under water and they were all complaining now about too much rain didn’t really abate my humour all that much.

But anyway, I digress.

This morning I was awake quite early yet again and spent some time bringing the paperwork up to date and listening to the dictaphone.

Back in England everyone was worried that the amount of viruses was rising and yet people still weren’t taking things seriously, still not taking their masks seriously. We were walking between a couple of towns on a nice shady road near a river. We could see people disobeying the mask instructions all that kind of thing. We were convinced that they won’t last very long at all if they kep on going like this. There was a lot more to it than this but I don’t remember it now.

Later, it was time to disembark from the ship which was in fact an aeroplane so we all have to get ourselves ready and we all walked off down the gangplank a few of us together laughing and joking a little bit. One of the guys with whom I worked at the EU, he was coming on behind us and about to get into this queue with us. A couple of us said “we really don’t want to be in the queue with him”. Castor and Pollux were there too, and it’s nice to see them back with me again on my travels. They had changed into some nice clothes – I remember Pollux in a nice little top and a dark blue skirt. They just walked through Customs and walked away and didn’t look back, which left me feeling extremely disappointed.

When Hans came in we had a coffee and a good chat and organised a pile of stuff that needed organising.

Going to the bank to pay in his shop takings was next and then we went for breakfast at the bakery across the road. it was crowded with people and we had to sit inside for a change.

natural primeval forest eching germany eric hallGathering up the camera (but forgetting a bottle of water) we walked off out of town towards Garching in the sweltering heat.

A couple of kilometres outside the town on the left-hand side across the motorway is a nature reserve, the Echinger Lohe. It’s actually a piece of primeval woodland that was set aside in 1978 totally unmanaged as a natural forest reserve – some kind of experiment to see how a natural wood would have behaved before human intervention.

And what with all of the urban expansion in the vicinity of Munich that’s a feat in itself

natural primeval forest eching germany eric hallScrambling through the wire fence via a suitable opening we went inside.

It’s totally fascinating to see how it’s turned out. Nature is certainly doing a fine job here in this magnificent example of a climax forest. And all of the rotting tree trunks and branches that are passing through the “interesting shape” stage and disintegrating into powder and slowly regenerating the soil.

This is just as nature would have done several thousand years ago. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

natural primeval forest eching germany eric hallWe pushed our way deeper into the forest. It seemed to be the sensible thing to do in view of the heat.

One thing that impressed me about the place was how silent everywhere was. It was very broody and mysterious in there. Had a pile of Hurons leapt out from behind the trees, bow in hand, to overwhelm us I wouldn’t have been in the least surprised.

And although we didn’t see any large mammals, there is PLENTY OF EVIDENCE OF THEIR PRESENCE.

natural primeval forest eching germany eric hallWhen I say that the forest is totally unmanaged, that’s not to say that there hasn’t been any human intervention.

These stranee, crude constructions are apparently hides for cameras. Some University or something is carrying out some kind of survey on activity that takes place in the forest.

Of course they aren’t going to park themselves up in full view of the wildlife, but all the same I can’t say that I’m very impressed with disturbing nature like this. Surely they couls have brought in some artificial hides that would have done the trick and which they could have taken away later on, leaving very little trace.

tui aeroplane eching munich airport flightpath germany eric hallThere is plenty to see in this particular corner of Eching and so we left the cover and shade of the forest to go to see it.

One of the things to see, which might not appeal to everyone, is what is going on in the air. We are right in the flight path for the descent to Munich Airport which is about 5 or so miles and even with the grounding of many flights due to the effects of the pandemic, there is still the odd one passing overhead.

At first I didn’t recognise the livery of this plane, but having photographed and enlarged it, I can see that it’s one of the planes that fly for the big holiday company TUI.

open natural heathland eching germany eric hallOut here beyond the forest there’s a huge natural, unspoilt heathland, the Garchinger Heide too.

It’s a haven of wildlife that you wouldn’t usually find so close to a major city and large transportation hub. The wooden thing that you can see that looks like the handle of a spade is actually a perch for the various birds of prey and the like that are around here.

218 different varieties of natural plants have been recorded here, of which about 50 are on Germany’s “red list” of plants subject to Conservation rules, type that would be difficult to find anywhere. This is good news because the flowers attract butterflies, of which a couple of visitors are quite rare types, and also bees.

monument to creator of open natural heathland eching germany eric hallAnd we are very lucky to have it too because in the late 19th Century during the grand expansion of Germany’s economy there were proposals to transform the heath into farmland.

However due to the energetic efforts of Franz Vollmann, the “Saviour of the Garchinger Heide“, 23 hectares of unspoilt land were bought by the Bavarian Botanical Society between 1907 and 1904 and in 1942 it became an official nature reserve. A monument was erected on the site in honour of Vollman.

Unfortunately much of the heath was badly damaged in early 1945 when prisoners from the Dachau Concentration were instructed to turn it into an emergency airstrip. Some work was begun and you can still see some of the damage that they did.

celtic burial ground eching germany eric hallEching is apparently an ancient Celtic town and there’s what is, I suppose, a Celtic cemetery here – a part of the heathland where there were plenty of small barrows. We went over there to have a look at them

Some other work that was undertaken here was the excavation of the barrows, so I was told, apparently in the search for various artefacts and grave goods. The excavations were carried out all that well and now there isn’t very much left now, but the outlines of the barrows are still visible.

There are several pools here that were formerly the site of gravel extraction and now abandoned to nature and the surroundings overgrown by vegetation.

Our route to the cemetery took us past a small one that was very quiet and secluded, and here we surprised a bunch of nudists. However I do have to say that if I had a body like any of those, I wouldn’t be exhibiting it anywhere in public like they were.

On our way back home we stopped for a drink at the football ground, and then we picked up Caliburn and went to track down a battery for Hans’s jeep. No-one had one in stock so we ended up having to order one.

But at one place that we visited I bought my desktop fan. this heat really is killing me right now.

mittlerergrabenopen mittlerergraben freising germany eric hallWhile we were in the van we decided to push on for an afternoon out in the nearby town of Freising, the region’s capital.

We found a car park just outside the city centre and Hans led me through a maze of alleyways and narrow streets. This one is called the Mittlerergraben and it’s a typical example of the little streets around the northern part of the town.

In fact, much of Germany looks like this, and while some property is quite clearly modern, it’s very difficult to tell with others which is contemporary and which is new to replace war-damaged property.

, so we went for a walk around while Hans pointed out a few of the local sights. The cathedral was up the top of a huge set of steps so in this heat we ruled that out. We went for a cold drink instead.

sporrergasse cathedral mittlerergraben freising germany eric hallFrom where I was standing to take the previous photo there’s a little Gasse, an alley that leads down into the main shopping street. These alleys are another feature of medieval German cities – in fact most medieval cities. As you know, Granville, where I live is littered with them.

In the background are the towers of the cathedral and to the left just down there is the Bayerische Hof, an upmarket hotel that has rooms at prices that the likes of you and I can only dream about.

That column is actually at the entrance to the hotel car park and I bet that more than just a couple of people have had fun trying to put their car into there.

hummelgasse medieval street freising germany eric hallWe walked down the alleyway into the main shopping street and the first thing that I did was to disappear up another Gasse

The town is littered with these little alleys and this one is certainly one of the prettiest. It’s called the Hummelgasse and leads on down to the river at the bottom of the hill.

We weren’t going that way though. We were heading down the main street and so I had to come back. But not before I became all nostagic about the yellow walls on this house here. It reminds me too much of MY HOME BACK IN THE AUVERGNE.

sparkasse unterer hauptstrasse freising germany eric hallSo back in the centre of Freising, in the Unterer Hauptstrasse.

It’s not very often that a town site changes position throughout history so it’s very likely that where we are walking now is the same street that people were walking down 1500 or so years ago. The first recorded mention of the village of Freising was as long ago as 555AD – it was certainly in existence before that date

And it may well be even much older than that because it’s known that there was a Roman Road in the immediate vicinity along the banks of the River Isar and this would have been a likely situation for some kind of regional settlement.

heiliggeiststrasse freising germany eric hallYou can see what I mean from this photo just here taken in the Heilinggeiststrasse – The Street of the Holy Ghost.

Where that tower is in the background is on an eminence overlooking the river and that would be the ideal situation for some kind of fortified site keeping an eye on the traffic passing up and down the river valley either by the road or the river.

The building on the left is the Church of the Holy Ghost with its associated Hospital complex. The hospital dates back to 1374 when a local dignitary left in his Will his entire estate to the benefit of building some accommodation for the poor, the sick and the needy.

fischergasse freising germany eric hallWe eschewed the possibility of climbing up to the cathedral and the other official buildings on the eminence. I’m not too good, hans has a bad leg and it was far too hot for a scramble.

Instead we threaded our way through the maze of back streets into the Fischergasse. There’s a little stream here that runs eventually into the Isar. The stream has been canalised and the banks reinforced and it makes quite a pleasant walkway back to town.

There was a café down here too and so we took the opportunity to sit down and have a nice cold drink. We needed it in this weather.

replacing underground heating pipes fischergasse freising germany eric hallHeading back into the centre of town we came across some road works that caught our eye.

According to Hans, there’s “District Heating” in the town – a communal heating system of hot water that’s pumped around the town. it looks as if the system is receiving some attention. Here are some of the water pipes, covered in insulation.

It’s interesting to speculate as to why they have put that big U-bend in the pipework I can’t see any logical explanation for that

medieval vaults brennergasse freising germany eric hallOne thing about these early medieval cities is that it doesn’t matter how old a building is, it’s likely that the underground works are even older.

Consequently, when I saw some renovation being undertaken in the groundwork of a building in the main street I dived in there with the camera. Unfortunately this cellar is the exception that proves the rule. It’s nothing like as old as I was expecting.

We walked on through the town for a while and Hans showed me a bar that he had at one stage been thinking about taking on, but city parking regulations scuppered that.

And so we walked back to the car park and Caliburn

schluter tractor freising germany eric hallOut on the edge of the town is the site of a factory, the Schluter Tractor Company, where they made tractors until 1993.

The factory has now been transformed into a shopping centre where there is a display of photos of all of the products that the company manufactured. We went for a look around to see them, and discovered that there was even a restored tractor on display here as a centre-piece.

While we were here we went for a look around at the rest of the shops on the factory site but there was nothing of any interest so we went back to Caliburn and made our way back to Eching.

Back here, we parked up Caliburn and walked back to the football club where I had a delicious Thai curry with rice. And then back to the Bier Keller for a drink and a chat and to listen to some music.

Now I have my fan, and I feel so much better. I’m not going to say that it’s nice and cool of course, but it’s a lot better than it has been and i’m hoping for a comfortable sleep tonight. Tomorrow, I’ll be hitting the road.

Sunday 26th July 2020 – IT’S SUNDAY …

… so today was something of a lie-in. Plenty of time to go off on my travels during the night, and I took full advantage. I started off somewhere, I dunno if I was on board ship again. I can’t remember a lot of what was going on but I remember having to go somewhere. I was driving a car and I came across that girl with very blonde, very curly hair who was walking a dog, a girl who I knew to be a friend of a girl I knew. I crept up behind her in the car and went to blow the horn but it didn’t work. In the end I blew it a second time – it worked and she fell down on the floor. I went to open the window to say something to her but the window wouldn’t open so she couldn’t see who it was. There was something else that led from there with a couple of girls. They put a ladder up to climb to this basket because there was something that they could see there. These girls were very very interested in this. When they came back down again they were ever so disappointed because all that it had been had been some kind of bolt on the masthead that had broken off. But there were all kinds of things invloved in this – school dinners, bus rides going on with the THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR, zodiacs, this kind of thing and I can hardly remember any of it now.

Later on I was being chased around by all these fascists and a really aggressive woman who was going to make mincemeat out of me. She had the law on her side but we kept on being ahead of them kept on making more remarks and so on. It turned out that we were in Shavington in Edwards Avenue looking up at Edwards Close. That wasn’t how it used to be – there were only two or three houses at the side of it and then a road that went through. We were saying that I bet she knows where she is going for she’s here for the very first time to do something with Mick Matthews who was a member of the British Union of Fascists. Someone else siad “that’s alright. We have nothing to worry about. She can fetch the police because we are all under 12. We can’t be prosecuted and we can’t be found guilty of anything”. She was chasing us all round this situation with her friends and we were doing everything we could to keep one step ahead of her. There was one point where we were invited to a royal banquet. We got there and we had to do this procession round. There was this woman who had also been invited and sitting at a table. We weren’t sure whether she recognised us, whether the scowl that she gave us was just the usual scowl or meant that she recognised us. We noticed that there were two places set for us but we decided that we weren’t going to sit there and we’d get something to eat from somewhere else.

There was something else involving the President of the USA and I can’t remember what that was now.

Sometime later on I was driving a lorry somewhere with a trailer on the back. The trailer was just clipping the lamp-posts, all that kind of thing. I was sure that I was too far over the nearside and on one occasion I’d hit a car that was waiting at a road junction but I didn’t feel a bang so I carried on driving. It turned out that we were at Shearings waiting for a couple of coaches to come in. They were running hours late and we wondered why they hadn’t rung up to say how late they were but of course that would have made them even later. I had to check a coach over but they asked me how much water it had taken. I said “about half” although it was a lot more empty than that – it had taken a lot more than just half the amount. Then I head a voice calling. It sounded as if one coach was on its way in. I wondered who it was but it turned out that it was Rosemary calling offering me a cup of tea.

Yes, a cup of tea brought to me in bed and that’s all very pleasant. I could quite get used to this, but not really at 07:20 or thereabouts on a Sunday morning.

09:20 was when I finally arose, and so I organised a few things here, helped Rosemary set up her television, uploaded the July 2019 photos of Iceland and Greenland to Rosemary’s laptop and then collected my things together.

We drove to La Peize in Rosemary’s car. We ended up at Clotilde’s, who I haven’t seen for a good few years. Christiane was there too and I haven’t seen her for even longer. Clotilde had prepared a nice lunch for us all that was very nice.

puits michelin la peize puy de dome france eric hallAfter lunch we had a walk round the village and ended up at the Puits Michelin, the old coal mine on the edge of the town.

We’ve been here before, as regular readers of this rubbish might recall, many years ago, and there’s quite a story behind this coal mine. For this, we have to turn the clock back to the end of the 19th Century.

Coal had been discovered near St Eloy-les-Mines (which wasn’t “les mines” then of course) back in medieval times but commercial exploitation began in the early part of the 18th Century, with a mine reported as being in existence by 1741. In the latter part of the 19th Century deep mines began to be sunk. Little by little, the valley of the River Bouble was explored and further pits were sunk.

puits michelin la peize puy de dome france eric hallEventually they reached the village of Gouttières.

The railway was expanded down to here and a huge marshalling yard was built for the coal that was expected to be transported from the area. Several more pits were sunk and then they found a beautiful thick part of the seam on the edge of La Peize.

This led to the creation of the Puits Michelin here with its substantial structures and the huge area set aside for an enormous slag heap and spoil tip.

puits michelin la peize puy de dome france eric hallThere are two stories about the subselquent events that occurred leading to the abandonment of the mine.

Here, we’re actually at the border of four different communes and the story that’s often bandied around in the area is the communes could not reach an agreement as to how the rights, the obligations and, more importantly, the taxes would be apportioned between them.

But knowing a little about life in the Auvergne, having lived there for long enough, I consider that to be an unlikely tale. Around here, money certainly talks and I’m certain that a large organisation like Michelin would have been able to overwhelm a few local concillors by waving a handful of used fivers around at various commune treasuries.

However, a good while ago I was having a scratch around in the vicinity and I came across the coal seam where it came out on the surface. So I’m much more inclined to believe that the seam, despite being so thick where the mine was sunk, simply petered out a short distance further on where geological inclination brought it to the surface.

The mine closed down after a mere 5 years and it’s significant that none of the other pits in the area survived all that much longer

clotilde rosemary christiane la peize puy de dome france eric hallThe four of uscarried on along oour route past Arno’s and round by the carrière de la Peize where a lot of the stones for the substantial builtings in the are was quarried..

After we left we went Clotilde’s back to my house and collected a few things that I had forgotten and which I needed. I spent 25 minutes looking for A BOOK that I needed but couldn’t find. And after I had given up I put my hand straight onto it by accident.

Having also collected a few other things that would come in handy back at Granville we then drove to the camp site at Les Ancizes.

Ingrid was there already so I treated her and Rosemary to a meal with thanks for all the help that they had given me over the last few days. It was nice to be together for a quiet social occasion after all of the hard work that we had done.

Now I’m back at Rosemary’s and I’m off to bed already. I want an early night as I have a heavy day in front of me tomorrow. There’s a lot to do and I don’t think, the way things are going, that I have a lot of time in which to do it.

Saturday 25th July 2020 – I’M WHACKED PART III

We’ve been hard at it again today.

And still suffering the effects of yesterday because no matter what, I still couldn’t rouse myself out for the third alarm. 06:40 it was when I finally crawled out of bed.

There was the usual cup of tea brought to me, and then I carried on with paperwork and the like.

There was a group of us last night in a hotel, a conference or something like that. I ended up sharing a table with someone who resembled a girl from the radio. It seemed that at every meal I was sitting next to her which pleased me enormously of course. This slowly developed over the period that we were there. We were all on our own in a group, a lot of us, talking about spices and herbs. She had a huge collection of spices that she bought and she told us where to go to get them. She said that anyone who would like to could buy her a spice as a memento. I was immediately keen to go along and do this. In the end I found where she indicated the spice shop was but is was a 2nd hand record shop. I was looking in there at the records and found loads of obscure American records of the type that I’ve been recording of my own collection but this isn’t really getting my thing advanced. At some point I’d been talking to a couple of guys. This girl and another girl had said that they had been friends for 22 years and they can’t possibly have been work colleagues for 22 years because they weren’t much older than that so we were wondering if they had been friends or something. I made some kind of remark “it doesn’t matter if they are 22 years old I could still keep up”. I was with her friend at one particular point when a Ford Cortina Estate mark III gold came by, covered in patches of underseal and rust preventer, that kind of thing. I told her that I had a vehicle like that. She expressed surprise but wasn’t very interested. That reminded me that somewhere along the line I was with Nerina at one point talking about getting a new car for the taxis but for our own private vehicle would we be tempted to get something decent that we could use for a taxi if necessary and was that really a good idea. I thought that I’d like my taxi business to be bigger but only in a bigger town where there is room and scope without treading on people’s toes. But back to this story with the girl from the radio – I remember that they went off on an expedition somewhere leaving some of us behind. I was left behind and feeling very disappointed about this.

At another point in the night there was a question about scaffolding – being on scaffolding and what happens if a pole breaks or someone cuts one while you are on it. Terry told me about a system that he had where there was always a couple of wires to attach the scaffolding to various points somewhere so that if it did break the wires would snag somewhere and at least give some kind of temporary support while you scrambled down.

This yacht thing – there was more to it than that, including me buying a yacht for some reason. And I would love to know what “this yacht thing” was all about and what did I forget to record during the night.

After breakfast we collected our wits and the like and then headed off to Ingrid’s with the trailer. I managed to reverse that all the way down the drive at Daniel’s and drop it off there although the socket would benefit from a pile of easing oil.

Ingrid was pleased to see us and we had a long chat – to such an extent that Ingrid made lunch for us. We were there for quite a while.

Later on we went to Les Guis. I found a few things that we needed either for Rosemary’s house or for the barn and did a little more clearing.

One thing that I did was to place the pane of glass in the frame above the door in the bathroom. I bought that just before I was taken ill and I’d never had the chance to fit it. Rodents had been getting into the shower room and I wanted to keep them out.

That was actually the first constructive thing that I’d done down there. The ret of the time I’ve spent either clearing up or weeding. Having inspected the hole in the attic I injected a pile of expanding foam into it to block it up and I’ll see tomorrow if that has done the trick.

With the van all loaded up we went round to say goodbye to my neighbours but they were busy so we didn’t spend any time there.

Back here we crashed out for an hour or so and then I unloaded Caliburn.

After tea I had a look at a chair that needed fixing. I managed some of it with the aid of an electric drill that had a jammed trigger which was something of a complication, but the project failed because the sunken nut that I had found was too large for the hole. That’s a job for a wood file in due course.

Having had a shower and a clothes washing session, I’m now off to bed. Sunday tomorrow so a lie-in. And I’ve earned that too after this week’s efforts.

Friday 24th July 2020 – I’M WHACKED PART II

It’s been another really difficult day today right enough.

Just for a change … “quite” – ed … I missed the three alarms. I couldn’t summon up the energy to leave the bed. 06:30 was when I finally saw the light.

Rosemary brought me a cup of tea again at 07:00 which was nice, and I listened to the dictaphone in luxury.

We were moving about exploring last night and some of our party – we were in the snows – decided that we would go for a look round. he said “I’d be away for a few months” so off he went and we stayed there in our tents during the winter amusing ourselves and keeping ourselves busy. This guy never ever came back. After a month or so we were thinking of having a search party for him.

There was something else to do with – I don’t know what it was about really. The only thing that i can remember from this dream was that there were some people discussing some kind of – I didn’t know what it was. They were discussing this object and I was talking about something that needed examining and checking over. The guy said “that’s all right. I’ve replaced them anyway with normal stuff”. When I had a look, what I was looking at was a dark blue Ford Escort and what he had been referring to was some optional extra wheels that he had now taken off and put on some standard ones.

when I finished the paperwork we had breakfast.

Having rung Ingrid we set off for St Eloy les Mines and the dechetterie and tipped the rubbish into the container. And that wasn’t easy, being surrounded by people who didn’t know how to drive.

Having finally been able to empty the rubbish out of the trailer, we pushed off to chez moi again.

les guis virlet puy de dome france eric hallOne of the things that I wanted to do that I hadn’t done the other day was to fight my way into the barn. So donning the gloves and wielding the brushcutter off I went and fought my way through the brambles.

As usual, Rosemary and Ingrid (when she arrived) followed on behind with the clippers and trimmers to make the passage easier.

It took a while to accomplish it too. Ingrid and I aren’t well and the heat was oppressive as well so we worked to a rhythm of maybe 20 minutes working and then a 10-minute pause for water and a breather. And all of this seemed to work because we made it across to the barn in the end without any undue difficulty.

From somewhere, and I’m not sure where, I even found the strength to fight my way to the downhill lean-to and I can get in there now, although I’m not too sure that I actually want to. The state of the place filled me with dismay.

les guis virlet puy de dome france eric hallanother task that needed doing, for which Rosemary volunteered, was to sweep the concrete hardstanding.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, it was overwhelmed with debris but we took most of that down to the dechetterie the other day. But there was still a lot of dust and dirt, old leaves, weeds and the like that were all over the place looking untidy so Rosemary went berserk with the yard brush.

Ingrid and I joined in later when we had finished what we were doing and by the time that we were ready to go, the place was looking all quite nice and tidy. And if that isn’t progress, I don’t know what is.

By the time that we were finished we were totally exhausted. It was something like a stagger back home. Nothing important for the dechetterie so in the end we just bagged the rubbish and dropped it in the waste bin.

When we plucked up the courage (round about 16:00) we had lunch and then I crashed out for an hour or so. Well away with the fairies.

Later I fixed a dismantled settee and then it was my turn to make tea. We had a stuffed pepper which Rosemary enjoyed very much.

A shower and a clothes wash finished my day – and finished me too. I’m now off to bed to catch up with my beauty sleep.

Thursday 23rd July 2020 – I’M WHACKED!

Yes, it’s been a very hard day today.

Having crashed out so definitively yesterday evening, I slept right through and even missed the third alarm. Only by a few minutes but nevertheless …

First task was to write up my journal from last night, in the middle of which Rosemary brought me a cup of tea. Even so, I managed somehow to crash out again.

Afrer breakfast we organised a few things and then set off.

First port of call was near St Priest les Champs to drop off the door. And as it happens, Rosemary knows the lady of the house so we had a chat for a while.

Second was Ingrid’s at Biollet where she made us a drink. We had a really good chat and then went round to pick up her trailer – a big single-beast trailer much bigger than I was expecting. But the bigger the better. I can fit more stuff in it.

caliburn trailer pouzol puy de dome france eric hallRosemary and I said goodbye to Ingrid and set off to my place.

Tons of stuff lying around there that was of no use to man nor beast and that was something that I was always going to do “tomorrow”. But it was depressing me seeing it all lying there like that so we heaved it all into the trailer regardless.

But as an aside, I need to work on my reversing. I’m somewhat out of practice and I made something of a dog’s breakfast getting the trailer down the track to my house.

les guis virlet puy de dome france eric hallOne thing that I wanted to do while I was there was to check on the pointing of the wall that I had built in 2012.

No cows in the field and no farmer about so we went in to check.

It’s all holding up remarkably well, all things considered, and I’m proud of the job that I did on that considering that it was my first proper effort at building a stone wall. But the joint between the lean-to and the main house wall is separating and if I do ever make it back I’ll need to refill that.

The dechetterie at St Eloy les Mines would be closed for lunch by now so we made our way back home for something to eat. Rosemary indicated some more rubbish that needed heaving into the trailer while she made the food.

This afternoon Rosemary had a bank appointment so I went off to the dechetterie where the old woman in charge directed me to the correct bay to unload it.

Back now to my house where I loaded up the trailer yet again. The concrete parking space is now clear of nonsense, some of the rubbish hanging around outside has gone too, and I’ve even thrown away some stuff in the verandah too. Plenty more to go at too, stuff that’s been hanging around for centuries and which probably will never be used..

bedroom les guis virlet puy de dome france eric hallWhile I was there, I went to check on the bedroom.

It seems to be unaffected by the rodent infestation so I spent some time in there sorting out some stuff in the wardrobes. There were a few bits and pieces that I wanted to collect that I’d stored in there for safe-keeping and so I rescued them.

The rest of the stuff that’s in there can remain for another day or until I move back down whenever

bedroom les guis virlet puy de dome france eric hallBut I do have to say that it was totally depressing to see the bedroom looking like this.

It took me four long years (not continuously, of course) to convert it from A RUBBLE-STREWN WRECK into wnat you see today, complete with fitted wardrobes and everything, and I was so proud of what i’d managed to build with my own fair hands.

And all in all, I reckon that I had no more than about three months’ use out of it before I was taken ill and rushed to hospital. That was the saddest part of all about this.

As for the attic, that’s had it, I reckon. And so has everything in there, I reckon. There’s little hope of salvaging anything from there although I did bring out a set of plastic drawers.

On the ground floor I did some tidying up – just a little. And there’s plenty more to go at in there too.

All in all, I could spend the rest of my life tidying up in there and still not see the end of it all. No matter what I did, I could never make that place look tidy

The dechetterie would be closed by now so I came on back to Rosemary’s, totally exhausted, with a full trailer behind Caliburn.

We had tea and a good chat, following which I had a shower and washed my clothes. And all of that was just as well too.

Plenty more work to do tomorrow- this little visit is far from over – not by any means. A good night’s sleep is called for so that I can be fighting fit. But there’s little hope of that.

Wednesday 22nd July 2020 – BACK HOME

Yes, I’ve been back home today.

And before anyone suggests that it’s rather a long way for me to drive in my current circumstances, that isn’t actually what I mean.

For a change I was awake quite early, and so there was time to listen to the dictaphone

It was a confusing voyage last night. There were quite a few of us and I’m not quite sure of what we were doing and where we were going but we were all young teenagers, that kind of thing or a few maybe even younger and that’s basically all that I can remember.

While I was typing out all of that I even had a cup of coffee brought to me in bed. And how any years is it since that ever happened?

Having dealt with all of the paperwork I went down to breakfast and then decided (just for a change) to organise myself.

I emptied everything out of the back of Caliburn, tidied him a little, found a pile of rubbish that needed throwing away, and then threw a few gardening tools in the back.

Having made two phone calls, we set off.

First port of call was in St Eloy where I bought some petrol in a container. Second, also in St Eloy, was for some rubber gloves and a pile of rat and mouse poison.

les guis virlet puy de dome france eric hallWe then disappeared off into the countryside and ended up back at home – my old place in Les Guis.

Time hasn’t been kind to it at all. In the couple of years since I’ve been there nature has totally overwhelmed it and it was something like an Amazon rainforest.

But by now Ingrid had arrived and the three of us set to with a will. I went ahead with Terry’s brush-cutter and cut a swathe through the vegetation, with Rosemary and Ingrid following on behind with the clippers.

les guis virlet puy de dome france eric hallAnd it was really hard work too there. The heat didn’t help very much.

What also didn’t help much was all of the objects hidden in the undergrowth. The brushcutter and its blade looked as if it had fought a war (which it probably had) as I hacked my way through the undergrowth.

All of this in just a couple of years since Terry and I were here last picking up the mini-tractor. It’s hardly a surprise that lost cities are still being discovered in the Amazon rainforest with vegetation growing like this.

les guis virlet puy de dome france eric hallBy the time that 14:00 arrived, we had reached the house and could go in all of the doors there.

And how sad everything was, with reams and reams of cobwebs, dust and everything all over the place. And we were exhausted too by this point and so called it a day.

As we weresitting around chatting, a neighbour came round to see us and to see how things were and we had a little discussion. But Ingrid went off for her appointment and Rosemary and I came home for a rather late lunch.

Later on, I went back to my house. Those two phone calls that I’d made earlier – one had been to Ingrid and the other had been to someone else.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I’ve been slowly replacing the windows in the house and that I bought a matching front door. That needs a new doorframe building but because it has to be in hardwood and not softwood, it’s beyond the capacity of the tools that I have here.

Previously, I’d made “local enquiries” and someone had come up the name of a reliable joiner. It had always been my intention to have a joiner make a doorframe, so I had phoned him up.

Much to my surprise (and yours too) I asked him when he would be free. He replied “I can come at 18:00”.

You can’t put obstacles in the path of willing workmen so I arranged to meet him at the Intermarché in Pionsat. We drove up to the house and he did all the measurements. While I was at it, I mentioned the third window that is yet to be installed. “I’ll do that as well if you like”.

And why not?

So the arrangement is that I’ll drop off the door on him tomorrow and leave him to it. There’s no time schedule – he can do it whenever he’s free. Which won’t be before September because all of the sawmills will be closed for summer holiday.

Having bid my farewell, I drove back to Rosemary’s where she had made tea.

A shower to clean myself up and to wash my clothes was next and then, shame as it is to say it, I crashed right out.

The exercise had clearly affected me and I felt that I had done quite enough for today. I’ll write up my notes in the morning.

Tuesday 19th May 2020 – HOW LONG IS IT …

old cars citroen 7l traction avant rue du roc granville manche normandy france eric hall… since we’ve featured a decent old car on these pages? After all, it’s not like the Auvergne where old cars are two-a-penny round here is it?

The answer is “probably about as long as I managed to beat the third alarm to feet to my feet” which is another sore point around here, especially this morning.

And so, in order to whet your appetite for a decent old car, here’s a “Traction Avant” – one of the Citroen front-wheel drives made over a 20-or -so period between the mid 30s and the mid 50s and which featured as gangstermobiles in almost every French film of that period – driving along the Rue du Roc this evening.

old cars citroen 7l traction avant rue du roc granville manche normandy france eric hallHorsepower was calculated in different ways in different countries so in the UK this would be known as a Light or Heavy 15 depending on whether it was a “4” or a “6” cylinder model, whereas in France it’s either a 7L or an 11L. And, of course, “Traction Avant”, or “front wheel drive”.

It’s one of the very last models too, which you can tell by the boot lid (the earlier ones had the sloping boot lid with the impression of the steering wheel in it) and the rear bumper (which is straight, not curved).

And if you want to know how come I know all about these vehicles, there’s one of them SITTING AT THE BACK OF MY BARN in the Auvergne.

It was supposed to be a retirement project when I’d finished my house but, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, what we need now is a miracle.

While we’re on the subject of miracles … “well, one of us is” – ed … I think that I’m going to need one to get me back into getting out of bed at a decent time in the morning before the alarm.

Whatever it is that i’m doing right now, it’s not working. It was about 07:20 when my feet touched the ground and that, dear reader, is simply not good enough.

After the meds I had a look – or rather, a listen – to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night.

Last night I was visiting some kind of zoo and we went to see the chimpanzees although another name was used for them I can’t remember who I was with. The animals were being kept in really squalid conditions in a place the size of a lock-up garage. There were about 10 chimps in there and a few of them, mothers and babies, were in a mass huddle. I asked if they were de-fleaing each other but the person there told me that each animal de-flead itself. I was interested to know what happened to the young female chimps when they reached maturity because if they stayed there they would be inbred which wouldn’t be good for the stock, so did they exchange animals with other zoos to mix the gene pool around? But by this time we were walking away and I couldn’t find anyone to ask.

After breakfast I finished off yesterday’s notes, having crashed out last night in the middle of writing them, tidied up little and then brushed up on my Welsh. The course got under way at 11:00 and finished at 13:00 and the teacher is going at a cracking pace, not leaving us very much time to draw breath. This course goes on for 10 weeks and if I’m still here at the end of it I’m going to be out of breath!

There will have to be a bread-baking session tomorrow morning because at lunch I used up almost the last of my home-baked bread. I’ve already run out of cordial so that, I reckon will be my morning taken care of.

After lunch I started on finishing off the radio project. And by the time that I was ready to knock off, it was finished. Not without much effort either because for some reason that I don’t understand, I’d miscalculated the length of the last track.

And so I had to do the last part again and with a different song and – badger me – I miscalculated again. I’ve no idea what was happening to me today, I really haven’t.

At least I didn’t crash out, which is, I suppose something. But there was an interruption while I went for my afternoon walk.

lifeboat english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallAnd as I walked out of the door I walked straight into something going on. A few people (there were masses of folk outside) including a couple of my neighbours were gazing at something going on offshore so I went to join them.

The local lifeboat, which regular readers of this rubbish will recall seeing on a few occasions, was doing some kind of what looked like a rescue at sea.

Whether it was a trial run, a practice or an actual rescue we really couldn’t say, but it was quite exciting to watch it as the events unfolded and did what it was supposed to do.

yacht boats buoy english channel brehal plage granville manche normandy france eric hallBut it’s hardly surprising that there’s some kind of “incident” out at sea just now.

There are the sailing schools here of course, one in Granville and it looks like one in Bréhal-Plage. We saw the other day some yachts that might have come from there and there are a few out there today with a couple of rows of buoys that, presumably, the yachtsmen have to sail around.

And that speedboat that we saw yesterday with the rod-and-line fishermen in it – there’s a similar boat out there today in the same place with similar people doing a similar thing.

english channel yacht lifeboat speedboat fishing boat ile de chausey granville manche normandy france eric hallBut if I told you how many water craft there are out there today, you wouldn’t believe me.

So here’s a photo that I took of the view out from the top of the cliff towards the Ile de Chausey and you can see for yourself how many there are just in this shot.

There’s the lifeboat of course, the yacht far out in the distance toward the island, a couple of fishing boats and a speedboat. It’s hardly any surprise that there’s been some kind of “incident” out there this afternoon

paraglider pointe du roc granville manche normandy france eric hallIt’s not just on land and sea that there are crowds of people either

As I was concentrating on what was going on out at sea I felt the cold hand of death on my shoulder. It was actually a shadow and when I looked up to see what was causing it, I noticed that it was one of the birdmen of Alcatraz floating on over my head.

It always amuses me that their point of take-off is right next to the cemetery in Donville les Bains. If they have any serious problem they don’t have too far to do.

fishing boat yacht baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france eric hallMy walk took me around the headland and onto the south side of the headland.

And if anything, it was just as busy there. There was any number of photographs that I could have taken to illustrate the point but I contented myself with this one because it was rather symbolic of the dirty working diesel-powered fishing boat and the clean sleek lines of the wind-powered craft propelled (at least nominally) by the wind.

There are a lot of symbolics in my photos of course. Some people say that they are just “sym” but other people say something else.

normandy trader port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallWe haven’t finished with the water craft either today.

It was odds-on that with all of this water craft about, there was bound to be some kind of commercial traffic too. We haven’t seem our two little freighters from the Channel islands for a week or so but this afternoon, here in port we have Normandy Trader

These days the turn-round is very quick and so it was today because when I went out for my run later on in the evening, she had loaded up and gone.

fishing boats refigerated lorries fish processing plant port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallRegular readers of this rubbish will remember the other day that we saw four refrigerated lorries parked up at the fish-processing plant.

Today it looks as if we’ve gone one better and have a nap hand of lorries here – 5 of them in fact. And you can see all of the fishing boats tied up at the quayside. Coupled with the number of boats out at sea, it’s hardly a surprise that they need 5 lorries to take away the catch.

As for me I came home to finish off my radio work and have my hour on the guitar. I mustn’t forget that.

For tea tonight I added some kidney beans into the left-over stuffing and had taco rolls with pasta and vegetables.

Thatw as followed up by another slice of my nice redfruit pie with soya coconut dessert stuff.

zodiac baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france eric hallThis evening, somewhat earlier than of late, I went out for my evening run.

We saw the Traction Avant that crossed my path earlier and I’m sure that you don’t want to see any more of the trawlers and fishing boats that were fishing away offshore. Instead, as I walked around the corner of the headland there was this bright yellow zodiac.

It wasn’t easy to see what they were doing either, so I took a photograph of it with the aim of blowing it up (the photo, not the zodiac of course) back in the apartment for a closer look

zodiac baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france eric hallBut I was destined to be confounded because the moment I clicked the shutter he put his machine into gear, put the pedal to the metal and piddled off out of it.

So whatever it was that they had been doing just there, they had clearly finished and there wouldn’t be all that much point in looking.

Consequently I carried on with my run down past the chantier navale (no change there) and the port Normandy Trader has piddled off too, as I mentioned and with the usual pause for breath, headed off for the viewpoint at the rue du Nord.

kids on beach plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallToo early for the sunset so I admired the view for a minute or so.

Once more, a noise from down below attracted my attention and sure enough, the young people who have been there for the last few days are down there again having another picnic.

It doesn’t look too much like “social distancing” to me but that’s their problem, not mine. As long as they realise the consequences then that’s fine by me.

Not wishing to wait for another half hour for the sunset I ran on home to write up my notes and listen to some good music.

So tomorrow morning will be a cookery morning, I reckon. Bread and perhap a small apple crumble because there are only two slices of my pie left. I’ll have to make some cordial too – lemon and ginger this week, I reckon.

Here’s hoping that I’m on form.