Tag Archives: lie in

Sunday 3rd March 2024 – I’M NOT TELLING …

… you what time I awoke today. It’s rather … errr … embarrassing.

And I’ve no idea either why it should have been what it was. I was in bed at 02:15 – a pretty reasonable time for a Saturday night/Sunday morning and I’d had plenty of sleep during the day too so I can’t have been all that tired.

There wasn’t much tossing and turning about during the night either. In fact I can’t remember moving at all while I was asleep.

The only thing that I can think is that I’ve had another one of those fits that I’ve been having just recently. But even then, I’ve been aware of my surroundings. This morning I was completely and utterly out of everything.

But we have to learn from lessons like this. You CAN teach an old dog new tricks and as of right now this minute, I shall be setting an alarm call for a Sunday. 11:00 might not sound particularly alarming for an alarm call for me, but it’s certainly a novel situation in which I find myself these days.

When I hauled myself out of bed I checked the blood pressure – 15.8/8.4, which is no surprise considering that my ears were steaming. Last night’s figure of 16.2/11.2 was due entirely to the frustration in having to track down some new batteries.

Why they can’t fit rechargeable batteries into machines like this is beyond me. My fitbit is rechargeable and even my kitchen scales will recharge off an USB port. How my life has changed since I’ve had my RECHARGEABLE KITCHEN SCALES and don’t have to scrabble around any more for batteries.

Once I’d done that I cleared off into the kitchen for my medication, and then I suppose that I’d better have breakfast, seeing what time it was – porridge, cheese on toast and hot black coffee – whilst I carried on reading some more of Sir Norman Lockyer’s THE DAWN OF ASTRONOMY.

He’s the guy who came up with the idea that the ancient Egyptians were star-worshippers and that their temples and pyramids were located and orientated so as to catch the light of certain stars as they rose and set. And I suppose that Lockyer was over the moon when he worked that out.

But several thousand years further on from the Ancient Egyptians there’s still plenty of star worship that goes on these days. But they aren’t the kind of stars of which Lockyer was thinking.

Back in here I transcribed the dictaphone notes, such as they were. A propos l’acteur Davy Buell il a continué vers le Texas où il a travaillé pour un petit moment, entré dans une Ordre réligieuse et puis était acteur à la télévision et acté dans les filmes qui sont biens connus par la publique américaine.

Yes, that’s what I said – In French, which surprised me completely. “About the actor Davy Buell – he continued on towards Texas where he worked for a short while, entered a religious Order and then had been an actor on television and in films that were well-known to the American public”.

It’s not the first time that we’ve had dreams in French. There have been several in the past. We’ve also had dreams in Flemish, Welsh and in Spanish too.

Yes, Spanish. Apart from having several Spanish colleagues at work from whom I was able to pick up the kind of language that you’d never learn in class, while I was having my “year out” after work in 2004/05 I went on a Spanish class at the University down the road from where I was living in Jette

That was quite an enjoyable year and an enjoyable class. I met that nice Asian girl with whom I had something of a fling but I can’t believe it (well, I can, actually) – even as recently as those days I still encountered parents warning their girls about me, and the girls taking notice.

It seems that I am fated to go wandering through the universe encountering this kind of opposition until I myself turn into a star – but no Egyptian will ever erect a pyramid of temple to worship me.

But do you know why there are pyramids in Egypt?
It’s because they were too heavy to move to the British Museum.

That reminds me of the time that I was in Egypt visiting the Great Tomb of Seti, I was told by a tourist guide that it was 3,200 years 3 months and 16 days old
And so I asked him how come they could date the tomb so accurately.
He replied "when I started work here they told me that it was 3200 years old, and I’ve been working here 3 months and 16 days."

There was more on the dictaphone too. Did I dictate the dream that I had twice … "no you didn’t" – ed … about being in that house and there being some kind of machine that had to fit on me like a blood pressure sleeve that would hopefully make me feel better but was one that I found very difficult to actually fasten on with one hand. It took a great deal of doing yet in the end I managed to fasten it on. It seemed to support me enough for whatever it was that needed doing. I had this dream not once but twice, once after the other.

That’s obviously related to this meeting that I have on Tuesday when they are going to be talking to me about some “mechanical aids” or whatever to help me with my problems. I wonder what they are likely to be.

Having done that I made a start on the radio notes – editing some in order to prepare the next programme.

The stuff that I dictated last night is going into the bin by the way. Whatever I wrote last week was total rubbish and makes no sense at all. Not that much of my stuff ever does, but we have to pretend about it.

There is however some stuff in a kind-of backlog so I made a start on some of that.

Not for long though because I had some hummus and some fruit buns to make.

Fruit buns first, and no banana today so I had to use more water. But piles of dried fruit, crushed nuts, sunflower seeds, desiccated coconut and the like. It’s all good stuff, took an age to knead but it went together quite well and rose nicely too.

While it was rising I made my hummus. One batch with chilis and a second batch with olives – and the missing ingredient was almost blood as I had cut myself quite badly on the blade of the food processor.

There was pizza dough to roll out too for tonight’s tea. And being plain flour it did really well too.

So the pizza was delicious, the hummus looks (and tastes) excellent and the bread rolls look great. I had a really good afternoon in the kitchen.

Shame about the morning though, but I hope that an alarm call in the future will help in that situation.

Nevertheless, what a state to be in? I ought to be ashamed of myself. As I’ve said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … I can’t go on like this. It’s ridiculous

If I go on like this people will be calling me Rip van Eric and that’s not the reputation I want. Geoff Goddin called the volunteers behind the resurrection of the Talyllyn Railway as having a "Boy’s Own comic spirit of adventure, involving enthusiasm, ingenuity and a fair degree of irresponsibility" and that’s much more like my style of doing things.

As Tennyson put it, "my purpose holds to sail beyond the sunset and the baths of all the Western stars until I die" – which won’t be long a-coming but I’ll do what I can until then

Hence the alarm on a Sunday as of now. And about time too.

Saturday 24th February 2024 – HAPPY BIRTHDAY …

… to me.

yes, and it’s one of these “significant milestone” birthdays, as several people have been quick to point out, thank you very much.

Not that I’m celebrating too loudly because at my age it’s not how many birthdays you have but how many you have left

However I did like the card that my friend Robert in Shetland sent me – "Seen it all, done it all, heard it all – just can’t remember it all". In my case though, I can’t remember anything these days.

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … two things happen to you when you reach my age. The first is that you forget absolutely everything
"what’s the second thing?" – ed
I don’t know. I can’t remember.

Last night I remembered eventually to go to bed. Round about 02:00 it was because I didn’t set an alarm this morning. I decided to have a lie in. and I would have had one too apart from the barrage of text messages that started at 08;02. It’s actually quite nice to be popular for once.

Anyway it was 11:15 when I finally arose from the Dead and that’s about right for a lie-in.

This morning’s blood pressure – 17.7/10.0. Last night it was 18.3/10.8 so there was nothing exciting happening during the night to make my blood boil

After the medication I came back in here and began to transcribe the dictaphone notes from the night. We were in some kind of competition or something like that to try to reach the end of the obstacle course. We had several difficulties. The first thing was that we had two young people with us who were perhaps not as committed as maybe I would have liked them to have been. One was a famous singer and she kept on having her photograph taken. She had it once taken at a very inconsiderable point when she should have been singing something for us and a group photograph was taken of us and then, say, the two of them singing or the two of them dancing when they’d been performing a completely different task that the rest of us have been performing, usually on their own. We didn’t win, which was no surprise with those two young people but it was an extremely stressful occasion. But one thing that we learned was that we weren’t the only people who cheated by a long way. The other people cheated by much more than we did. They cheated in real terms and real figures. We of course used to fly the odd stranger in and dress him in uniform, a fire brigade uniform or school uniform or whatever and infiltrate them into the group as a whole, but only after they had died and it had all been over and there was still plenty of work to do. I’d engaged a drummer and he … fell asleep here

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … I’m actually asleep when I’m dictating these notes. So when I say that I fell asleep, what I mean is that everything suddenly goes quiet and after a few seconds I hear a low, sleeping breathing.

Or occasionally a deep snoring sound, and I’m sorry for not believing you, Percy Penguin

Another thing, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, is that even though I’m asleep, dreaming and dictating, I usually have some recollection of a dream that comes back to me as I’m typing it.

But sometimes I have absolutely no recollection at all of them, like the one above. I could recall nothing whatever of it.

In complete contrast to the one below.

I’ve forgotten most of this dream thanks to having to look for the dictaphone that I’d lost in bed. We’d had a foreign girl staying with us. She was one of these people who knew everything and made sure that you knew that she knew everything. I can’t remember anything about it except that we all went to bed at the end of the night. She was sleeping in my room as a child. All of a sudden her alarm clock went off. I had a look at the time and it was 08:02. I suddenly realised that it wasn’t an alarm clock at all but someone sending a message and it was my phone that had given its message signal

In this dream I was in Worcester. My German friend and another guy were busy picking out a tune on a guitar. I was wondering all the time whether to go and fetch my acoustic bass to join in. They carried on picking out this tune but it was winter and we were outside and I was freezing and so was everyone else. Gradually they worked it out and gradually we walked up a hill with the two of them playing this song. We had a small child with us and it was complaining about how cold it was. I was wondering when we’d go to find some food as I was starving. But we carried on walking up the hill. We reached the top and my car was there. I opened the door to my car and a charity collector turned up. He was collecting money so I asked him what for. He replied “for taxi passengers to wish them a happy Christmas and they’d give the money back as tips for the driver”. I put my hand in my pocket and threw in what change I had- about 5.5p. he said “that’s more then 10p” and pulled some strange object out of one of the collection boxes. “I’ll give you the change for that next week”. I couldn’t see what it was. Now this situation i the town is becoming crucial. I thought that we’d drive into the town and go to the railway station to look around for a while. But I was picked up in this dispute by Worcester Council. They, or some other people wanted to change everything from “Wulfrunian” to “Worcester” o the grounds that no-one knew where Wulfrunia was. But I was opposed to that idea because it’s just another “dumbing down” exercise for the UK and they’ll sink to the level of the Americans at this rate.

It looks as if “dumbing down” has already commenced because, as any schoolboy might know, “Wulfrunian” related to Wolverhampton, not Worcester.

And as it happens, I do have an acoustic bass. In all of the various apartments in which I’ve lived in Belgium, I don’t think that I ever had the electric bass out. I probably didn’t play it for 20 years.

Instead, I had the Ibanez acoustic and I could play that anywhere, including in a van and occasionally at Folk Festivals like the one on the Scottish Borders where a few of us from University hung out and did voluntary work.

It was there that I met a few people and had a great deal of fun playing bass with a few different people here and there.

It wasn’t until I was set up in Virlet that I had out the EB3, and of course I play it here along with the 5-string fretless electric bass. Not for nothing have I found an apartment in a building with solid granite walls 1.20m thick.

But the EB3 is a genuine Gibson guitar from the early 1960s, totally original. It’s exactly the same model as played by Jack Bruce. I bought it in 1975 when the group in which I played was going on the road after a couple of months of rehearsals.

It cost me an arm and a leg back them but I’ve been offered a King’s ransom for it and turned it down. They’ll have to take it …. errr … “from my cold, dead hand”.

Later on I’d been on a University course and we were at Nottingham. It was a course that I didn’t like for some reason. There was something about it that irritated me. At the end of the course we were all assembled, given a closing speech and then dismissed. I set out to walk to the railway station. It was along a public footpath that wends its way out of town and crossed over a railway bridge of this really elaborate cast-iron railway bridge that had been a railway bridge a long time before but was now part of the footpath. There was a girl in the distance who had been on the course. She shouted at me and pointed “what’s this area here that looks all desolate?”. That’ son the other side of the bridge, a huge flat area. I replied “that would have been the marshalling yard for the old railway line on which we’re walking”. She made some kind of disparaging remark about Nottingham and said that she didn’t know why she was walking this way because she’d understood from the University that if she’d been on this course you’d have to stop in your own time and look around areas like this. I couldn’t remember any such instruction in the instructions that I’d received but if that’s what she’d received then fair enough, I couldn’t see why she was arguing about it.

This reminds me of an on-line course I was studying. It was an aeronautics course provided by Oxford University. I had immediate misgivings when they began to talk about the Messerschmitt Me109.

Although colloquially it is often referred to as an Me109 it was actually designed by the Bayerische Flugzeugwerke before it was reformed as the Messerschmitt company in 1938 and so the correct description of the model is the Bf109

Not that a thing like that would normally bother me but a University teaching a course ought to get it right.

This morning to celebrate (although I’m not quite sure what I’m actually celebrating) I made myself a cooked breakfast. Some of the hash browns from the freezer, tinned mushrooms, a vegan sausage and some beans on toast with my porridge and coffee.

For once I decided to treat myself, and why not? It’s not every day that you reach a milestone like this.

This afternoon there was football on the internet – Pontypridd United v Colwyn Bay. The bottom two clubs in the League desperate for points to overhaul the teams above them and scramble to safety.

But for a few administrative errors and subsequent penalties, Ponty would have been clear already but they had ground to make up

And they played like it too. There was no-one special who caught the eye but they played as a team, which is a strange thing to say seeing as when I saw them 18 months ago they played like a clueless, leaderless, headless rabble.

On the other hand, Colwyn Bay played like a team already dead and buried. There was no leadership out there today and in fact (for I timed it) it was just over 60 minutes into the game before I heard one of the commentators mention the name of their captain.

Colwyn Bay certainly had a couple of chances and the crossbar will long be rubbing itself where Owen Cushion’s shot hit it, but they spent most of the time trying to walk the ball into the net, without the skill to do so, when they have players like Creamer and McCready who can launch screamers towards the net.

And height! High balls into the penalty area from corners and free kicks that sow panic and confusion into the defence instead of low flat balls easily and monotonously cleared away by the first defender ….sigh

The final result was 4-0 to Pontypridd, a margin that was rather unfair to Colwyn Bay but just underlines the size of the mountain that they have to climb. If you are going to make mistakes at this level you will be punished for them.

At the end of the match I went for a slice of my chocolate cake. I lit the candles on the top but a couple of icebergs in the Arctic immediately melted so I was obliged to extinguish them

But it was nice, chocolatey and gooey. And the cream certainly worked, which was very nice to know. I was worried about that for a while in case it had given up the ghost during the night.

Tea tonight was a slice of my wellington from the freezer, with roast potatoes, steamed veg and gravy, followed by rice pudding. The air fryer did a perfect job on the wellington and roast potatoes.

A real birthday treat that, and I reckon that I deserve it.

So here I am, another year older and deeper in debt as they say. Uma Shanker said "Life teaches us two important things – we are careless when we are young and by the time we get old, it is too late to be careful!" and that’s certainly true.

It was a long time ago that I passed the stage of caring about anything. I’m going to grow old disgracefully.

What consoles me is that half the population of the UK my age or older are dirty old men and I’m going to be like them.

And why can’t I be like the other half? That’s because they are dirty old women of course.

So when I’ve dictated the two radio programmes in the queue I’ll go to bed and plot the course of my life for the next 10 years – my next 10-Year Plan – knowing full well that it will be something that will never ever be fulfilled.

I’ll be pushing up the daisies a long time before then.

Sunday 18th February 2024 – MY HOME – MADE …

… vegan mayonnaise worked to absolute perfection and if I can do it like that every time things will be great around here

It’s slow and time-consuming, but the results are well-worth it, and it’s another good reason for having bought my food processor at the end of last year.

The end of last night was rather a mess. I didn’t go to bed until well after 02:00, but that was after dictating two radio programme notes though. And as usual these days, they are a real mess and will take a lot of editing down to make them sound any good.

However that wasn’t a problem for last night. Being half-asleep I hauled myself off to bed

And it was a really good sleep that I had too. When I pulled my head out from under the covers and checked the time, it was 11:55. A good sleep indeed

When I eventually rose from the Dead, it wasn’t 11:55, I’ll promise you that. But there was the blood pressure to take – 17.4/10.6, surprisingly similar to last night’s 17.6/10.0

After the medication I went into the bathroom and put the washing-machine on the go. There’s my bedding and plenty of clothes that need attention. The bedding in particular could do with a really good hot wash.

Then I came back in here to check the dictaphone. I was sleeping solidly when I awoke with a start. Somebody pointed to me saying “this piece goes under the yellow”. It was someone from the hospital. They were trying to put something in the bed underneath the blanket but STRAWBERRY MOOSE was in the way. I went to help them but awoke instead. It seems that there had been a football team playing in a football league. It was one of these leagues where they had physical plans like musculators for the legs and things like that permitted. I was signed up to play and I had my legs all strapped up so that the bits of me that weren’t working were protected but the bits of me that were working were active so I joined this team and played n°s 5 to 11. I mostly played in attack. I remember two people saying that if I have as much more luck in attack then they’ll be conceding goals in the other team’s attack and I should be absolutely great, obviously referring to my periods in hospital. Instead, after a few days I demanded some annual leave so that I could clear out my bus and the shed where I’m living and clear out the dirt of my café. I was granted a bus and went to change it. I noticed from the change that this was a priority, not an ordinary run-of-the-mill school bus so I rang them up to find out about it because this should never have gone on a trip like this with me but kept in reserve until it was needed.A t the reserve they told me that it was all mine if I was careful so I put most of my things in and went back to prepare for leaving.

And that was rather confusing.

Later on I went to the hospital. The prescription was for double the treatment to my legs, i.e. double the injections and everything down there. On the way home I stopped and thought. There was a shop that was selling St Bernards and Alsatians. I thought that seeing as they were already in and around the farm somewhere so I might as well … fell asleep here … I knew that having a twin tailpipe was going to cost me twice as much in fines as having that single tailpipe just now but I thought that it was well worth it because of the difference in performance and difference in layout and well-being of their house, it would be much better this way

Here I am, having a dream within a dream – that’s an interesting concept. DENNIS WHEATLEY in his Satanist collection of books has his hero travelling between various levels of dreams within dreams but so far, I’ve only managed the two levels.

That’s complicated enough. I shudder to think what it would be like by the time that you arrive at your eighteenth or nineteenth

I was fast asleep just now dictating to nothing and I can’t remember now but it concerned our final match of the season, at the end of April against another Bangor team. We had all the support so we should overcome them quite easily but I mentioned the fact that the other team in Bangor now, mine was so much better with this new steering and I did a really good series of turns with it on the road to Amlwch. I was delighted with it and that I’d spent the money on it having it done

That sounds like something else where there’s a bit missing out of the middle. I wonder where it went

And finally I was with a friend from University (yes, I did have some) last night. I’d been absent from work for a while and was retiring on health grounds. She and I bumped into each other somewhere and ended up having quite a nice chat. She asked me about what I was doing so I explained. She said that I’d been very much missed in the office with people sending me their regards etc. Before I retired I had some kind of relapse and was not doing very well at all. She said that she’d asked someone how I was. They said that he seems to be OK but he’s gone a little wild these days. I thought that that was a pretty good description. She filled me in with all the news. I began to explain about things that I’d been doing before I retired and the office was going to be in quite a shock because I was doing so much. I had all these meetings arranged including one on the day that I was supposed to be retiring and no-one as yet has approached me to ask me how they are going to be covered. As far as I was concerned they aren’t going to be covered at all and I couldn’t care less. She was surprised at my attitude because she thought that I was going to leave thousands of ordinary people sitting around with less money than they ought to have. In a way she was right but I was just up to my ears in anger, I suppose, and I just couldn’t wait to leave that office and leave them with all kinds of complications that they’d have to sort out. maybe then they’d realise just how much work I was doing in that place.

It’s quite strange really. Before I retired I did take off some time as sick leave. And I counted – three different drivers rang me up about different aspects of the job that I was doing. In other words, it took three people to replace me.

But what was quite funny there was when I made a suggestion about how things might be improved. I was told “what do you know about this kind of work? ” by the guy in charge.

So on the way home I stopped at the stationer’s and bought some cheap A4 picture frames. And next morning as the guy in charge watched, I hung up my framed couple of Taxi Owners’ Operators Licences from Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council and from Congleton Borough Council, my framed copy of my Certificate of Professional Competence to Operate a Fleet of Coaches in the UK, and my framed copy of my Certificate of Professional Competence to Operate a Fleet of Coaches in Europe – the latter two being issued by the European Union .

Having done that, I asked him if he needed to see anything else, Strangely enough, he never said anything to me again after that.

In most jobs these days though, they have taken to sending home on the spot people who hand in their resignation. It was much more fun in the old days when you could plant time bombs in your working routine to go off after you’ve left, like asking 12 people to come in for an interview at exactly the same time when you know that there will be only four officials present, or booking 12 coach jobs simultaneously when the company has only 5 coaches.

You could spend hours thinking up imaginative and inventive time bombs to confound, confuse and demoralise an antagonistic employer.

All of the above was interrupted by brunch – porridge, strong black coffee and my cheese on toast. At the end of the day I wasn’t too discouraged by the bread. It still tasted nice with bread, cheese, tomato and onion.

Once I’d finished the dictaphone notes it was time to make the mayonnaise.

  • 120ml of soya milk was whizzed around until it began to thicken
  • Once it started to become thick, add a teaspoon of wine vinegar and also your flavouring, like garlic, tarragon, sea salt, lemon juice, chives, diced onion
  • Whizz that lot up for 30 seconds or so
  • Scrape around the sides and base of your whizzing bowl to free off anything that is stuck to it and then whizz again for 10 seconds.
  • Start up the whizzer and while it’s whizzing add 240 ml of vegetable oil drop by drop by drop.
  • Once about a third of the oil has been added, you can slowly increase the speed at which you are adding it
  • Scrape around the sides and base of your whizzing bowl to free off anything that is stuck to it and then whizz again for 10 seconds.
  • Put it in a pot in the fridge

It takes an age adding the oil drip by drip and it’s quite uncomfortable holding the container. I will have to think of a work-around to make it easier. Some kind of plastic container maybe with a pin hole at the bottom perhaps

Back in here I started with the radio programme, one of the ones where the soundtrack was recorded a while ago but not yet edited. And by the time that I’d knocked off for tea it was almost all ready. The final, 11th track has been chosen and remixed, and I just have to write, dictate, edit and assemble the notes that go with it and then assemble it.

That will be tomorrow morning’s job.

There were a few interruptions. For a start … "or for a finish" – ed … the washing machine finished its work and I had to hang out the clothes. And this little trolley really is worth its weight in gold being pushed around the apartment by my crutches, with all kinds of different things on it.

After lunch I’d taken out some pizza dough from the freezer and by 18:00 it had defrosted so I could knead it again and roll it out onto my pizza tray.

After it had stood for an hour or so I went back, assembled the pizza and then baked it. And it’s not denying that it was one of the best that I’ve ever made. Everything about it was just about right tonight.

So that’s all that I’m doing today. Despite Sunday being a Day of Rest I’ve really been quite busy, and like the Duke of Wellington said after the Battle of Waterloo, "I don’t think it would have been done if I had not been there".

Right now I might actually go to bed if I can summon up the energy to do so but I dunno. Maybe I should remember the words of baseball coach “Yogi” Berra and "If you don’t know where you’re going, you might not get there"

Sunday 11th February 2024 – MY VEGAN SAUSAGE …

… rolls are not quite the success that I was expecting.

Either the sausage filling has expanded during cooking or the pastry that I used has shrunk, but they have come apart where I thought that I’d joined the pastry, so there’s a slit up the middle

But we live and learn, hey? Rome wasn’t built in a day. I shall just have to have more practice with this rolled-up puff pastry stuff.

While we’re on the subject of thinking … "well, one of us is" – ed … I had plenty of time to think while I was in bed last night.

It might have been 02:00 when I finally staggered off to bed but when I opened my eyes this morning and looked at my fitbit the time was 11:42. That’s much more like a respectable time to awaken on a Sunday

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … I’ll get up at any time you like six days per week without a problem (well, in principle anyway) but on Sunday don’t call or message me on a Sunday unless …

  1. … the building is on fire
  2. … the fire brigade is in the building trying to fight the flames
  3. … and the firefighters have given up all hope

So 11:32 was when I opened my eyes. That is of course not to say that 11:32 was the time that I left the warmth and comfort of my bed.

When I did raise myself from the dead I took my blood pressure. 17.8/9.9, a little less than last night’s 18.9/11.2. The hospital asked me to collect all these readings but no-one has told me what to do with them.

After the medication I transcribed the dictaphone notes from the night. The game of rugby was invented in the late 19th Century and what we know about everything of the game dates from 1915 when they abolished the machines that surveyed the touchlines as humans did it, on the grounds that when there was a human call that differed from that of the machine it sounded as if the integrity of the sport was all wrong. Of course not everyone had a machine * it was only a few clubs so it was why these differences in calling in just a few clubs was quite different between the males and the machines on several occasions

And I’ve no idea at all what that’s all about

Later on I was out somewhere. I’d had a lot of money given to me as a discount for something. It was exactly the same price as a large teddy bear so I had the large teddy bear instead. I carried it around with me for a short while. Then I had to go off to do something else so I put the teddy bear in the common room by the entry into my daughter’s school – my daughter might have been Roxanne. Later on my partner and I had to go to pick up Roxanne from school. When we did I told her that she had this new friend. When I explained that it was too large to bring home we’d have to bring it home another time. I explained to her where it was. She asked his name but my mind went a total blank. I’d given it a name when I’d bought it but I just couldn’t think of it at the time of this dream.

It goes without saying that STRAWBERRY MOOSE can see himself in part of this, but no-one who has seen Sid James and Peter Butterworth in CARRY ON UP THE KHYBER won’t eve rforget his name.

Finally, we’d been to Munich and ended up staying in a hotel – one of these hotels where the staff is extremely superior etc. I found the hotel to be quite reasonable and didn’t have an objection to coming back here again but one of my friends didn’t like it at all. I couldn’t understand why. When we were cleaning the rooms ready to leave we came across all kinds of things like envelopes, photography paper etc in a kind of welcome package that made the deal even better but one of my friends said that he wouldn’t stay in this hotel even if they gave him a printer that he could sell to have his money back. I was really puzzled as to why. I tried to ask him but he was quite evasive about his replies. I didn’t know how the situation could advance if he wasn’t going to answer correctly. I found the hotel to be good value and quite reasonable. I’d be really happy to return here.

This is an argument that I’ve had on quite a few occasions. When I look at the comments on some of these booking websites and see what people have written, it bewilders me. I’m usually on the budget plan when I’m travelling and I don’t expect there to be much in the way of facilities for the money that I want to pay.

It seems to me that some people expect to pay bus fare but travel in a Rolls-Royce the way that some of these comments go.

There was that dreadful motel in Flagstaff in Arizona where I stayed 20-odd years ago but it was the cheapest motel that I could find so I wasn’t complaining.

That was the time that I was attending a Biodiesel course in Colorado and then going down to pick up up a couple of wind turbines in Flagstaff.

Knowing how things worked, I paid a credit to my credit card supplier and also told them where I was going and where I was going.

However after picking up the wind turbines and paying for them, I went to fuel up the Mustang only to find that my credit card was now blocked for “unusual spending patterns”, despîte having told them.

And so I had to rely on the small amount of cash that I had on me until next morning when I could telephone the bank and have the situation resolved.

In those circumstances, you don’t complain about the quality of your accommodation.

However, it’s these kinds of things that teach you a few lessons. I now have three credit cards from three different banks in three different countries.

That kind of thing can lead to some kind of excitement. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall MY STAY AT THAT MOTEL IN FARMINGTON, MAINE where I was asked to prove my identity so I produced …

  • Identity – British passport
  • Proof of address – French Driving Licence
  • Vehicle registration – New Brunswick plates
  • Mobile ‘phone – Québec number
  • Payment – Belgian credit card

That’s the kind of thing that will keep them occupied for a while.

After lunch I dealt with the radio programme for my Hawkfest. That was a really complicated thing to assemble and took me well into late evening before it was up and running. And up and running it is too.

Much to my surprise, considering that I was working it inside-out and all at once instead of doing as I usually do and adding the final track later, it was just 13 seconds too long. That kind of editing is no problem at all and it was soon down to one hour in length.

There was a pause while I made the dough for the next few pizzas. And I don’t know why but the dough rose up like a lift, quite the opposite of my cannon balls from the other week. So why can’t I make my bread rise up like this?

While it was rising, I was making the stuffing for my sausage rolls. The vacuum-packed chestnuts worked perfectly with mushrooms and in principle it all went very well indeed

The final result was maybe less than I was expecting but you can’t win a coconut every time. They’ll still freeze nicely and finish off quite well in the air fryer with a portion of chips and some baked beans.

The stuffing tastes rather sweet to me but I suppose that it’s meant to be like that.

There was enough stuffing left to make a kind of burger or patty so I’ll fry that and have it with a baked potato at some point in the near future.

The pizza was absolutely perfect. The dough was lovely and soft and crumbly, and I remembered the cherry tomatoes this week.

So all in all, a busy day today and one that was quite successful. I accomplished a lot today.

Those chestnuts will be on the menu again now I know where they can be found, so my cooking will go up another notch. I have plenty of vegan recipes where chestnuts are an important part of the recipe.

A few more busy and productive days like this will be really good, but it won’t be next week. Monday and Tuesday I have this Welsh course, and then on Wednesday I’m off to Paris for my important meeting with my specialist.

THis is where we’ll decide what happens to me in the future. Will they still deal with me? Will they abandone me? Will they refer me to a hospital closer to home?

But what does it really matter? As Jacqueline de Bellefort once said, "one must follow one’s star, wherever it leads – even to death itself."

But I shan’t be dying alone and unloved. At least the French medical service seems to care about me to some degree – probably just until I’ve paid these bills that I owe them.

Sunday 4th February 2024 – NOW THAT’S WHAT …

… I call a good Sunday morning.

The kind of Sunday morning when I slowly raise my head from underneath the quilt, blink in the daylight, glance at my fitbit and find that it’s actually 11:30.

Yes, we really need a few more like those.

Mind you, I’ve no idea what time I went to bed, but it was extremely late, that’s for sure.

There were the notes for three radio programmes for a start – the one that of which I made such an unholy mess last week, the one that I prepared this week just gone that would replace the Isle of Wight one, and the notes for the Hawkfest

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that the last time that I tried to dictate so many programmes one after the other I ended up tying my tongue in knots a long time before the final programme, and this was what happened here. When I get round to dealing with it, I’ll probably find that it’s a complete mess.

But that’s for another time. Eventually I staggered off to bed.

The night was quite peaceful and I can’t remember too much about it except that I dropped the dictaphone and had to search for it. It’s amazing, the things that I can do in my sleep. I just wish that I could work so well when I’m awake.

But awake I was at 11:30 and having taken my blood pressure (18.1/10.9 this morning, 19.8/12.4 last night) I wandered off in search of medication. But I can tell you something for nothing, and that is that this blood pressure medication that I’m taking isn’t working.

Back in here I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. This apparently might be the last message that you receive from me because I might be able to try to become a Limited Company but that isn’t quite so sure but according to the Statutes laid out by King Edward I, II, III and IV and everyone else I might not qualify according to them and according to some others as well. But if so I shall have to keep much better accounts of my income and outgoings than I do now and that’s not going to be easy because me keeping strict and proper accounts of anything is almost impossible as regular readers of this rubbish will recall but you can but try. Instead of me being in the dock it will be the company of course but the company secretary and that is going to cause problems too. I could easily imagine that for this limited company of mine I would never ever find anyone to share the responsibility but we’ll have to see.

And I’ve absolutely no idea what that was all about, or even where it had come from. We had been talking about people using this big tax fiddle of setting themselves up as “service companies” but I’m not likely to fall into the category of people who would benefit from such an arrangement.

But any of that notwithstanding, it wasn’t my last message because there was a couple more.

Someone came along to give us a talk about vehicles. It was hosted by a famous TV personality he said that he’d now left the TV world and was working for Ford’s and would be on TV next week telling everyone why Ford’s was the best company for which to work. But another guy came along and talked about vehicles and their importance in society. He asked several questions, one of which was “how do we deal with them at the end of their life?”. People came up with the idea of recycling or dismantling or quite simply throwing away. He wanted to know a few examples of people’s activities. I was dying to talk to him about dismantling but for some reason he seemed to ask everyone else in the room except me. I had the idea of thinking about my time at Gainsborough Road when I was always doing stuff like that but he just never seemed to come round to talk to me.

And I wish that I had £1:00 for every Ford Cortina MkIII or MkIV I’ve dismantled in my back garden in Gainsborough Road during the 1980s. People would always be bringing MoT failures to me and I’d strip them for useful bits for the taxis and the rest would go under my gas axe.

Sometimes one would be in better condition than one of my taxis so with maybe a little welding they’d be back on the road. On one occasion Nerina and I drove all the way around Hungary in what had been an MoT failure at one time

The story of my welding equipment was interesting. I wanted to weld up a car so I borrowed a set of bottles, pipes and torches from someone who used to work with my father.

When I rang him back a while later, his wife told me "I’m sorry but he has died"
"Well I have some things of his here."
"Don’t worry about them" she said. "He won’t need them now where he is" so I acquired a complete set of gas-welding equipment.

Regrettably I don’t have it now. Just before I left for Belgium I lent it all to a friend. And due to circumstances that I outlined a few weeks ago I won’t ever see it again, along with a pile of other stuff.

But this story of going round the room asking everyone questions except me – that rings a bell.

After I’d retired for the first time I went to work for a bizarre American company where I met Alison.

They were shedding clients like nobody’s business and after a while they began to be concerned (probably about 10 years too late).

In the meantime I’d been making a list of how things could be improved and I ended up with a bulging notebook with all kinds of examples. And one day we had a big meeting to discuss the situation

The manager went all around the room asking for suggestions and when she came round to me, took one look at my notebook on the table and said "well, it’s nearly 17:00. We’ll call it a day at this point".

So I went back to my desk, took out all of my personal stuff from the drawers and walked out. They didn’t pay me enough to put up with this nonsense.

But this was not my first (and not my last) experience of Corporate America

There was a major problem with a printer set-up and I had to negotiate with the New York office about it. I was talking to the guy there on a Friday evening. It was 18:00 our time, 12:00 their time.

The problem couldn’t be resolved then and there so he said he’d think about it during his afternoon and call me back on Monday.

Monday came and no ‘phone call so I rang him up just before I went home at 18:00.

Someone in his office answered. "Oh, (so-and-so)? He was made redundant on Friday."

No notice, no warning, nothing. Out of the door more-or-less on the spot I would imagine.

Anyone who is opposed to the idea of Trades Unions ought to go and spend a few weeks working in Corporate America. The Americans in our office were totally paralysed with fear about their jobs.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed I was at work and feeling hungry so I went to the staff café but they had no sandwiches. I asked why and she said that the sandwich tray was on the floor above until 13:00 and it won’t come down until then. I contented myself with a cup of coffee for a while. Later on the woman beckoned me over. The sandwich tray had arrived but I couldn’t make out which sandwich to have. Then I noticed that for €3:50 (the price of 2 sandwiches was €4:00) I could have a kind of cheese platter with various types of cheese on it, some bread and even some additions like olives and onions to put on it and sauce in which to dip it. I thought that that sounded so much nicer than having a couple of sandwiches

And wouldn’t I love to have a cheese platter right now? Unfortunately it’s out of the question. No pancreas (or, at least, a non-working pancreas) means no animal fats of any description. Hence a vegan diet and the diabetes type 2.

That’s another issue with which I had to contend 30-odd years ago. What with all of my demons and everything else that I was fighting at the time, a major illness was the last thing that I wanted to face, but there I was.

But anyway, after lunch I had a very slow, desultory canter through one of the sound files that I recorded last night and eventually ended up completing to programme that I had assembled last weekend and which was a total mess.

But re-dictating and re-editing the notes, reassembling the programme in exactly the same was as far as I could remember I was short by … errr … 1.221 seconds short compared to what I’d assembled last week, and if that’s not impressive I don’t know what is.

That kind of time can soon be taken up and so that’s now ready, with two more to edit during the coming week.

Tea tonight was a vegan pizza and it was excellent of course. However it would have been so much better had I remembered to put on the cherry tomatoes. I really don’t know what’s the matter with me these days.

They say that the side effects of a couple of these pills that I’m taking is “confusion” but I don’t need any pills for that. I’ve been confused for most of my life. In fact when Led Zeppelin wrote DAZED AND CONFUSED they were obviously thinking about me. I’ve been dazed and confused for so long it’s not true.

In fact I feel rather like my hero the Irish politician Boyle Roche when he argued with his tailor and said "I told you to make one longer than another, and instead you have made one shorter than the other – the opposite"

Perhaps I ought to go to bed while I’m still awake.

Sunday 21st January 2024 – TODAY HAS BEEN …

… another one of those days where I have emulated my namesake and done three fifths of five eights of … errr … nothing.

And that’s hardly a surprise. In between my leg and this blasted stuff to cure this excess of potassium, I’ve not been in any fit state for anything at all.

While we’re on the subject of this anti-potassium stuff … "well, one of us is" – ed … after taking the stuff last night I stayed up to see how long it would be before it overwhelmed me if I tried to fight it.

It’s as well to know these things, I suppose.

So I stayed up, and up, and up, and fought, and fought, and fought, but by 03:30 I was well and truly done and I crawled off to bed as best as I could.

It was round about 10:50 that I finally awoke, and that’s no sleep at all for a Sunday.

And I had a head like lead too. I don’t know what’s in that stuff and I really don’t think that I want to. But it really is the pits, as John McEnroe would say.

So having made it out of bed and dressed, I staggered off into the kitchen for the next batch of medication, and then back in here it took a good while for me to come back into the Land of the Living.

Once I’d gathered my wits, which, seeing as I have so few these days, takes much longer than it ought, I sat down to listen to the dictaphone to find out if I’d been anywhere during the night. I was living in Wistaston last night with a group of people last night and had to go into Crewe. I set off on foot and I went down to the end of our road which was a dead end, and found that the obstruction had been cleared away and we could walk through. I carried on walking and ended up in Crewe on Brookhouse Drive. I thought “this is going to be convenient if they leave this footpath open like this without the obstructions that they’d had before. I went to do my shopping and then came back and announced to everyone “do you know what they’ve done? They’ve moved the obstructions from down the road now so that we could walk through”. Someone made some kind of remark and my mother showed me an article in the newspaper about how they’d now created a road between Wistaston and Shavington. “I suppose that that’s it” she said. Reading the article I thought that it looked like it. That’s bad news because they would be building apartments or something like that alongside and there’s a little more greenery gone so I was disappointed. I mentioned it to a couple of people but they weren’t sympathetic at all. One of them was certain that apartments would be built and thought that it was a good thing. In the meantime there was some more school to attend that morning. It was Saturday morning and I had my music lessons. My mother wrote out a shopping list. I asked “do you want directions to this new street?”. “No” she replied. You’ve been there once, you’ll know it now”. She put 2 extra streets on this list and handed it to me. It was just like the usual shopping list with these 2 extra streets on it. I set out and halfway down I came to some kind of yard like a school yard. There were people playing so I went in. Somehow I ended up on my knees so I walked on them instead. When I was inside I met a guitar teacher. He had a girl whom I knew with him. She was about 10. I said “hello” to her because I knew her. I had a look around the yard and then I left. I said to her “not going to music school today, are we?”. She asked “why not?”. I explained that it would be 10:00 soon and it’s a long way to go. She said “it’s only 5 minutes and it’ll take me less time because I’m not on my knees” which I thought was rather insulting but never mind. I smiled and laughed with her. I set off on my knees on my travels down this new footpath thing. There were many people on it. I thought that it was looking like the M6 on a Friday afternoon these days.

Yes, I know. My family yet again.

Mind you, I had better luck next time. I was with my Dutch friend. She’d come to visit me in the Auvergne. We were talking about all of our friends because she was now living in a commune. She mentioned someone who had transformed a cellar there into a small apartment. It sounded really interesting so she asked me if I’d like to go. We went along and had to climb down these steps. It was really nice, what he’d done. It was very small but everything was well laid out to make the most of the space. I was quite impressed. He didn’t have very much in there so I said to him “it’s rather Mies van der Rohe, isn’t it?”. he didn’t understand the significance so I said “you know – less is more”. He said “yes, certainly”. He had a friend down there who was caulking the joint between the skirting board and the wall, doing a good job of it. It really looked quite nice. My Dutch friend and I ended up back in the main house again. I said that I’d come to see her in a couple of days. A couple of days later I set out from my house. I was nearly hit by a car reversing out of a driveway. He pulled away but I overtook him and carried on. He was behind me for a while but then disappeared. I turned up at my friend’s with an old denim jacket that I wore occasionally. I’d mentioned earlier to her about embroidering it. She’d agreed to do it so I had it with me. My friend and I ended up in bed together but it wasn’t a sexual thing, just lying there talking. She said “I can’t pay you, except maybe for an afternoon or something like that”. I said “you don’t owe me anything. There’s no need to pay me anything at all. Let’s just stay here and be comfortable

With a little voyage like that, what would you do when you had read all of the notes. I gave her a ring and said "I dreamed about you last night."
"Did you?" she asked.
"No" I replied. "You wouldn’t let me"

And Mies van der Rohe – there’s a name to conjure with. He was a director of the Bauhaus, the modernist school of architecture in Germany and after the excesses of the Victorian period of architecture, pioneered the idea of minimalism in design and construction with his famous slogan of "less is more"

The ghastly buildings of the immediate post-war period prior to the arrival of the even more horrific Brutalist movement of the 60s and 70s can be laid fairly and squarely at the feet of Mies van der Rohe and his fellow crew of Bauhaus barbarians

Having finished the dictaphone notes I went off for my porridge, cheese on toast and strong, hot, black coffee. I’m back eating again after the last few days that I mentioned when my appetite went for a while.

However, having said that, I’m not sure how long I’ll continue eating because I’m in total agony every time that I try to stand up and try to move, with this perishing leg. I really have done it a major mischief but a scanner and a handful of X-rays can’t lie, I suppose.

And it’s no good if I can’t stand up because I can’t make any food to eat.

And then there’s the question of this anti-potassium stuff. This is killing me. Every time I sit down I either fall asleep or if I close my eyes I begin to hallucinate again. If I could walk I’d be forging prescriptions for this stuff and hawking it around the back streets of Granville.

It goes without saying that I’ve crashed out more than once this afternoon, and quite definitively too.

Whenever it’s been possible, I’ve been chatting to people here and there. Ingrid rang me for a chat, then Liz and a couple of my neighbours have been texting me too. I seem to be in demand these days, which is nice.

In fact I was speaking to Ingrid for so long that I forgot about my pizza in the oven. It’s not like me to forget my food, is it?

As I said yesterday, it’s the wrong flour so the pizza wasn’t the dazzling success that it might be, but it was still nice, edible and filling.

So that’s it for the day. I’m off to take my blood pressure, take that nasty horrible stuff with the rest of the medication and then go to bed. I’ve had enough for today and I’m not sorry.

Tomorrow I restart work after my Christmas break, hospitalisation, recuperation etc. But I don’t feel much like it. Not with this flaming leg and this blasted anti-potassium stuff. If I could stop those I’d probably feel a little better but if I don’t, then when I come back from Paris on Tuesday I’ll start writing out my … errr …. instructions. It’s about time.

What I hope for is that someone will give a good and loving home to STRAWBERRY MOOSE.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I’ve travelled halfway round the World and well into the Polar regions with, quite often, only him as company. My faithful companion and I have travelled miles together and so he deserves a nice comfortable retirement somewhere where someone will look after him properly.

Saturday 13th January 2024 – “IT SOUNDS TOO …

… good to be true”.

Yes, doesn’t it just?

There I was, lying awake, watching the clock on my fitbit tick round and round. 05:35 came round certainly – I saw it and watched it. And a few other times too.

It seems that even being a passenger in a car, never mind the driver, is having this effect on me. In the old days, as I have mentioned previously… "and on many occasions too" – ed … I’d go for a good run before going to bed in order to ease the stress, but I can’t even go for a good walk these days.

And even less so, starting from this afternoon

There was football on the internet, Cardiff Metropolitan v Caernarfon, and I watched the first half on my knees. I’d tripped over something coming into the bedroom and ended up flat on my knees. It took me 50 minutes before I could invent a means of standing up.

My right leg, which was bad before, is now completely impossible. I’d tell you more but there’s no feeling in it as you know. I’ll have to wait until I go to the Centre de Re-education on Tuesday to find out just how bad it is.

The good news (and there has been some today and, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, it’s been a long time since I’ve had any) is that my leek and potato soup was cooked to perfection and the home-made bread rolls were delicious too

For tonight’s meal, the oven chips cooked in the air fryer were done to absolute perfection too so the meal of salad, chips and one of those soya steaks in breadcrumbs was wonderful

Not so much the bread pudding. That was definitely the worse for wear after my week away from home so that’s now pushing up the daisies. But me no daft, me no silly, I’d cut a big pudding into 4 large sliced and there are still 3 in the freezer.

So meanwhile, back at the ran … err … bed I checked the dictaphone when I finally did awaken at 09:50 and there was tons of stuff on it.

We started off with me playing bass and singing in a rock group with a guitarist, my friend from the Wirral on rhythm guitar and a drummer, and we were playing a concert in a pub somewhere in Crewe. Neither the gear nor the van had arrived. It was my friend from the Wirral who was driving it. He eventually turned up, much to the applause of the audience and much to our relief, about an hour late, and we set up our instruments. My friend from the Wirral just sat on the floor, refused to move, refused to stand up and refused to play. He was known for having his moody fits and outbursts and was just in one of them at the moment. In the end the guitarist and I just shrugged our shoulders and began to play. We began to play BORN TO BE WILD. When I awoke I was actually singing it, live on stage, something that took me completely by surprise.

This dream is famous for several things.

Firstly, I did have a friend like that. He would freeze in times of stress and would be totally incapable of acting if a problem arose. On several occasions his friends have had to rally round and help him out of his problems.

Secondly, I was always happier playing in a power trio of drummer, guitarist and me. I had a very good drummer with whom I had a good rapport and we as a rhythm section played in several bands. But every time a fourth (or fifth) member came along, it usually dissoived into chaos.

One thing though, was that I loved to sing but the guitarist with whom I was most associated was also a singer who loved to sing so my chances were few and far between, even though I actually owned the PA that we used (a 200-watt Hiwatt amp with 2x 4×12″ columns and several treble horns).

There’s a story behind those horns too. I wanted a set and there was a pair advertised in the Manchester Evening News at an address in Stockport so we went round hot-foot. And who should open the door but Graham Gouldman, songwriter and bassist at Strawberry Studios down the road from there.

On the subject of people called Graham, I hear that Grahame and STRAWBERRY MOOSE have been having a lively chat via e-mail today.

But thirdly, there’s something that I really don’t understand about this dream is that although I didn’t dictate it, we had another person up on that stage for a while. And I know that we did because I even remember introducing her to the public, the words that I used to introduce her, and the songs that we played.

Anyone care to guess who it was?

When I introduced her to the public from the stage in Crewe as she came up and put on her guitar, I used her real name (not the name by which she is known in these pages), I mentioned her age (which is something that I would absolutely not do these days for anyone) and so asked the audience to “be gentle with her, because I am gentle with her”, something that might have raised a good laugh 50 years ago but would be an absolutely outrageous thing to say today.

We played several numbers that we had worked on together on THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR (so you’ve probably guessed now who she was) including that one by Green Day … "BOULEVARD OF BROKEN DREAMS" – ed … where that young Inuit boy on board joined in with us.

But what’s astonishing about this is that she put in an appearance and I didn’t dictate it. The other week when I mentioned that my subconscious must be creating a barrier between me and certain people, I wasn’t sure that I was being serious.

After last night’s escapade, I am now. And what I would like to know is how many times and for how long has it been doing that.

One of the most extraordinary things that came out of this exercise that we do about dreams was the girl who dreamt that she could run around in the fields and forests even though she was born without legs and had never un an inch in her life. But this can’t be far behind that.

What happened after this was pretty banal by these kinds of standards. I was part of a delegation that went to South Korea to a military air base there to discuss the products of our company with some people from the Korean military. One night while we were there the guests inn the bar were Widespread Panic. Of course, we went. There was a problem with the cash machine in the restaurant where the concert was to take place. It kept on ringing up ice cream as “various” and charging a purely nominal amount for it so of course we were ordering ice cream all the way through the night like most people would order a beer. We were eating tons of it and I was sure that we would be sick next morning. When we returned it showed the bill from this night at the restaurant had twice as many ices as we had ordered. Instead of there being three for some rounds there had been six. The accounts department was extremely concerned and called us in. I explained that at some part of the night another three people had noticed what we were doing and came over to talk to us. They joined in this ice cream orgy. The accounts department then asked why it was that we considered it to be appropriate that their ice cream should be added to our bill. I explained that these three people were in fact a delegation from Airbus there to see the Korean military too. We were of the opinion that it would be a good idea to entertain them to ice cream because it could open a lot of doors for our company in the UK and France which otherwise would never ever open to anyone. That seemed to settle the matter and everyone seemed quite happy. A few of our colleagues were surprised and disappointed and questioned the bill but that was more out of jealously than anything else.

I’ll have to stop leaning over to where my dictaphone would be in Paris. Anyway Nerina and I had gone on a boat trip around the harbour in St Helier and the Channel Islands area. It was one of these large motor yacht type of things that would carry a dozen couples or something. We boarded it and it set off. We were given something of a running commentary. We noticed that there were plenty of kids up at the front, fishing out of the water all kinds of plastic like old buckets, fishing buoys, jerry cans etc, trying to clean up the harbour. Anything that they noticed, they pulled out. I went to have a look. There were loads of letters there too so I began to fish them out. Many of them were addressed to me so I was quickly collecting a pocketful. There were some addressed to others and looked quite important. In the meantime this guy was busy talking. We noticed that one or two of the couples were actually jumping into the water, swimming around and then catching up the boat. For some reason Nerina and I jumped in and we had a great time splashing around in the harbour. We suddenly realised that the boat was a long way from us by now so we had to swim like hell to catch up with it. I was pulling out more letters from the water at the same time. Eventually we managed to climb aboard. She climbed up the steps at the back and asked me how I came on board. I pointed out a ladder that was there on the rear corner of the boat that she obviously hadn’t seen. We sat down again and I began to open these letters. There was one that was from Poland and had a diplomatic stamp on it. I wondered what this was all about. I managed to open it discreetly. There was a return envelope inside, a pre-stamped one with a Polish diplomatic pass stamp on it addressed to someone at our address urging them to make their donation to their war relief as quickly as possible. I showed it to Nerina to ask her what she thought about it. We sat there puzzling over it.

And as if I’d ever want to swim around in the harbour of St Helier. I’ve seen what’s pumped into there.

The soup was, as I said, delicious.

  • chop a small onion and fry it in olive oil and butter
  • add a couple of garlic cloves with coriander and chives
  • when these are browned and smell nice, add in your finely chopped leeks and potatoes, and stir round to fry for 10 minutes
  • add just enough water to cover, add a stock cube and leave to slow boil (with the lid on) until the potatoes and leeks are really mushy
  • add some soya cream
  • remove from the heat and whizz up with your whizzer
  • then eat with the fresh bread that you prepared earlier and baked while all of the above was going on

As for quantities – leeks and potatoes, how many do you have that need to be used?
And the rest – it’s all down to taste.

There had been some washing going on while all of this was happening so after lunch I hung it up to dry.

Then I … errr … had a little relax.

Watching the football from the floor was a new experience, although I managed to pull myself upright by half-time. Caernarfon had to do better against Cardiff Metropolitan than Hwlllffordd did against Y Bala in order to qualify for the playoffs for a European place next season.

And in a pulsating game that roared from end to end with Caernarfon’s new signing from Porthmadog, Morgan Owen, having an outstanding game, they were still 2-1 down with minutes to go while Hwllffordd were 2-1 up.

But in wild drama at the end, first Danny Gosset scored an equaliser for Caernarfon with just minutes to go, and then down in West Wales Y Bala scored 2 quick goals .

So it’s Caernarfon who push on for Europe while Hwllffordd have to join the fight against relegation.

Tea as I said was excellent so now as I’m cold and in total agony from my knee, I’m off to bed.

Will the young lady from last night come to join me for the second half of our gig? Or will it be someone new?

And more to the point, if my subconscious really is trying to block out some people from visiting me, I can name half a dozen for a start and my subconscious can block them out starting tonight, with my full permission and pleasure.

Sunday 31st December 2023 – I DON’T KNOW …

… what happened last night but when I plugged the dictaphone into the computer to download the night’s voyages, I found that there were none.

For the first time in just over a year I must have had a completely deep uninterrupted sleep and I suppose that that’s something to celebrate. But on the other hand, I know that this sounds strange but I was disappointed.

It’s not that I mean that I didn’t get to see Zero, Castor or TOTGA, but as I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … the only excitement that I seem to have these days is what goes on at night while I’m asleep.

Having lived a life full of excitement, to be practically “confined to quarters” is so depressing. I’ve been blown up in a Freedom Fighter explosion, I’ve had an extremely inflammatory confrontation with a Russian security patrol in Minsk in the Soviet Union, I’ve been arrested by a military patrol in Belfast, I’ve been shot at in Stoke on Trent, I’ve had someone kill herself right in front of my eyes, and here I am stuck in a first-floor apartment on my own because I no longer have the strength to go downstairs. So what goes on at night is so important to me.

Still, never mind. It can’t be helped

Although I didn’t leave the bed until about 11:30 this morning, I didn’t go to bed until late and it probably wasn’t far from dawn when I finally hit the hay

But there’s a good reason for that, and a big “thank you” to the organisers of the Shrewsbury Folk Festival who deserve more than just a mention on these pages.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I talked the other day about my radio shows and how I’d like to broadcast concerts on the anniversary of their taking place.

And after a brief exchange of e-mails, the organisers of the Festival have made available a whole pile of video recordings of groups who have appeared there.

Last night just as I was thinking of going to bed I was sent Steeleye Span 2018 which of course I had to check over the recording to make sure that it is complete and correct.

Today I’ve been sent a Fairport Convention, Lindisfarne and a couple of Show of Hands performances, and they reckon that there might be more stuff in their archives. So once again, a great big thank you to the organisers of the Festival.

Apart from downloading and checking over the concerts ready for conversion to *.mp3 and editing, I’ve been a very busy boy today even though it’s a Sunday.

First task was to edit the notes that I dictated and to assemble all the programme components. I ended up, when the final track had been selected and the notes written and dictated, with an overrun of 3.5 seconds but I can soon edit that down. There’s always stuff in my notes that I can edit out without losing the sense or the rhythm.

And then there was the baking. I needed pizza dough, a small loaf and a bread pudding so I set to work and they are all complete. 2 parts of the pizza dough are in the freezer and the third part made a lovely vegan pizza. But it took ages to make and I ended up with a very late tea.

In the middle of it all Rosemary rang me for a chat. And because I was pressed for time, it was only a short call. 1 hour 8 minutes and 16 seconds to be exact. Not one of our marathon chats where we spend hours talking about nothing.

Meanwhile, in other news, regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I am a great-uncle to three young ladies in Canada.

The eldest one is settled down in her little house in Woodstock with a partner, a dog and a job working at her father’s corn mill

The middle one won a place at Canada’s most prestigious University, St Francis-Xavier in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. I visited her a few times and she came to see me when I was living in Leuven when she was on a student exchange in Madrid. She was the one who was married in November in Michigan.

The youngest one has also won a place at St Francis-Xavier University. It’s really hard to believe that I was holding her tightly when she was so small and tiny, only two months old that winter in Canada. How quickly time has flown.

But anyway, she’s won a place on the foreign exchange programme of the University and for the next 6 months she’ll be in the UK and “Uncle Eric, can I come to visit you?”.

“Of course you can! Don’t be silly! Come when you like! Stay as long as you want!”.

It’ll be lovely if she comes. I don’t see my Canadian family anything like as often as I would like to do.

So I’ve had my pizza, written my notes, and that’s all I’m going to do. I’ll have a hot drink and a quiet evening and then go to bed.

Many people will be celebrating tonight but I don’t have all that much reason to be out there with them, even if I could.

There used to be a drink called “Phyllosan” that “fortifies the over-forties”. What is there that I can take that will “sixtify the over-sixties?”.

Sunday 3rd December 2023 – IF MY CHRISTMAS …

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

And yes, Liz, “bubbled over”.

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

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

But I was also so tired too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes, I have a cunning plan about that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday 26th November 2023 – NOW THAT WAS …

… much more like how a Sunday morning ought to be. I can’t remember a single thing about it.

Well, that’s not actually correct, because from about 00:00 until about 02:30 I remember quite a lot of it. But once I crawled quietly into bed, that was that.

In fact, it wasn’t until about 12:15 that I actually saw the light of day and crawled out of my stinking pit towards my medication. And as a result I didn’t have all that much time to transcribe the dictaphone notes before my porridge, cheese on toast and strong coffee.

That’s exactly how to start the day, in my opinion.

While I eat my meals at the table I’m either watching a film or reading a book. Films are usually in the evening and books usually during the day. And right now I’m reading THE OLD STRAIGHT TRACK by Alfred Watkins, written in 1925.

He’s the author who developed the theory of ley lines and while some of what he wrote is discredited by many, a lot of it still holds good today and much of the criticism levelled at his work is erroneous.

But what caught my eye was a paragraph about vegetation, in which he comments that a change in climate may have accounted for a change in vegetation. For 100 years ago, that was a novel idea.

The first trace in print that I have been able to find that suggested the possibility of climate change was in Munn’s WINELAND VOYAGES : LOCATION OF HELLULAND, MARKLAND, AND VINLAND, written in 1914, and how Munn was roundly, and in some cases, viciously vilified by his contemporaries, some of whom, like Nansen ought to have known better.

And how many people have ended up subsequently with omelette sur le visage, as they say around here.

So back in here I carried on with the dictaphone notes. Mountains and mountains of them. I was still at school. It was coming up close to my A Levels. I’d been making all kinds of plans for things that I’d wanted to do. We had a young girl from India staying with us on an exchange visit. She was also at school. One day a coach pulled up at school and we all piled on. She was quite mystified. The coach set off but when it turned onto the motorway she began to panic. She said that school buses aren’t allowed on motorways in India. Anyway, everyone persuaded her and she finally began to understand that there was a play taking place somewhere nearby that was part of our A Level syllabus so we were going to see it, as we did at school on several occasions for different things. Gradually the discussion became rather more complicated than that. I suddenly began to understand that what was going on was that they were going to drop me off at the hospital or somewhere like that because my medical results and reports had come through. The hospital wanted to follow it up so everyone was taking advantage of this play idea by saying and doing nothing to me, just presenting me with a fait accompli when we arrived at the hospital. This was why the girl was quite worried – she’d actually heard the part about dropping me off at the hospital before she’d actually heard about going to the play.

And then I was back in this dream about that hospital – actually in the hospital. They were discussing physiotherapy arrangements. Someone said that there was an article available for me that I’d find quite useful. When they turned up I expected them to have brought the article with them but the person just came on his own and asked me to go with him to fetch it. That was pretty-much impossible because I didn’t have anything with me to help, like crutches etc. It turned out that there was nothing marked on their records for any patient at all who had mobility issues. I tried to convince him that maybe this was something that the hospital had to change because I couldn’t go anywhere to pick up whatever it was that he was offering to give me.

At another point I was down in south-west London staying with a couple. I noticed that the girl had a strange fancy for a certain type of car, a 3-wheeled vehicle but was one that I’d never seen before. She had one in which she drove around and occasionally another would turn up as she found it, and there was one parked down at the end of her street. One night as I was going to bed I heard some kind of commotion but I ignored it. Next morning when I awoke all the 3-wheelers had gone. There was a dark blue Ford Cortina MkIII down at the end of the street. The first thing that I heard someone say to her was “when did you have your new car?”. She replied “17:00 yesterday evening” and she chatted away about her new car. Then she began to talk about the one parked up down the end of the road. That apparently had a new chassis so she was planning to keep hold of it for a while and maybe use it at a later date. She was annoyed because she thought that she was going to go to church but apparently her boyfriend had other plans so we began to discuss these particular vehicles amongst ourselves.

While I was asleep I met up with those 4 gipsy girls who have appeared in my meanderings before. I’d first come across them somewhere else and when we were wandering around a fairground they seemed to be loitering around a few pill-sellers. My friend and I went along and tried to usher the girls away from temptation and try to organise them into going home. In the end the two elder girls began to hang around with my friend and me. The one that I particularly liked, I took her on a little exploration of the area and was pointing out one or two other things and items to her while we were walking around.

And that intrigued me. I scrolled back through several years of notes (I didn’t go back as far as the beginning of this project in 1999 by the way) to find an earlier reference to these 4 girls because it was evident that I must have known them from somewhere – but I couldn’t find a previous mention of them.

But interestingly, it wouldn’t have been the first time that I had discreetly steered a group of young people away from a situation that was on the verge of becoming unpleasant, and it wouldn’t have been the first time that one of the aforementioned had attached herself to me as a result either

Finally there was a football match taking place in the office between 2 teams. One of the players was very badly injured, a huge lump taken out of his back. When I looked, his shirt was a mass of blood. I suggested that I take him off to the Health Centre, have them have a look at it and decide what to do. I took the guy but I couldn’t remember where the Health Centre was. I went to the local switchboard on the floor where we were and asked to be put through to the Health Centre. Instead, she picked up an external directory and began to thumb through it trying to find the number. After about 2 minutes and I suddenly realised what she was doing I ripped it out of her hands and stuck what I thought was the Internal directory into her hands. It turned out to be another volume of the external one. In the end I ripped that out of her hands too and was busy having this major argument with her while this boy was bleeding to death at my feet. And I suddenly awoke.

You really don’t want to know any more about what went on during the night. Not while you’re eating your tea anyway.

A couple of people have been speaking to me on the internet during the day. Rosemary and I had had a chat (that I’d forgotten to mention) the other day that was interrupted so she called me back today and we carried on from where we left off.

Catherine spoke to me too. She was a lecturer at University who lives in Southern Germany but I know her through her mother with whom I served on various University committees. When her parents retired they went to live in Southern Germany too and as they live only couple of hours from Munich I usually pop in when I’m passing by.

Catherine was wondering how I was doing, and also wanted to tell me that her father was not doing too well, which is a shame. I hope that he recovers soon.

As well as that I made a big batch of naan bread dough, but I seem to have miscalculated. Instead of 8 balls of 100 grams, I made 10 balls of 80 grams.

Rosemary advised me to put my festering fruit in the fridge to stop it fermenting so I had to track down some containers with lids. I know where the containers are, of course, but reaching them, the way things are, is something else.

The rest of the day was spent on the radio programme. I don’t know what happened but dictating the notes last night was appalling. I made an absolute pig’s ear of it all and it ended up as quite a mess. Consequently it took me an age to untangle everything this afternoon.

However, it’s now all done, assembled and up and running ready for broadcast on … errr … 12th July 2024

Tonight’s pizza was excellent again and now that I’m fed, I’m going to be watered and then I’m off to bed.

Tomorrow I should in theory start the next radio programme but that’s going on hold for a while. It’s going to be quite complicated and will require a lot of research because 19th July is quite a significant day in the history of rock music, as far as I’m concerned. Instead, I’ll prepare the one after.

But I’ll worry about that tomorrow. Right now I’m off to bed.

Sunday 12th November 2023 – AND THERE I WAS …

… planning on a nice relaxing day today with very little, if anything, to do. But as usual, all kinds of events come along to confound me.

What didn’t help was that it wasn’t until 11:42 this morning that I first noticed what time it was. And that is far from being the same as saying what time it was that I actually arose from the dead.

And if things start badly, things can only be worse. You should see the amount of stuff on the dictaphone from during the night. I must have travelled miles and that probably explains why I was so exhausted yet again once I arose.

After I’d had my medication and checked my mails I sat down and began to transcribe the dictaphone notes.

All of them.

There had been a storm or fire or both or something in the big house in which we lived altogether and it had been badly damaged. There was a lot of repair work needed to be done to it. At the moment it was a question of trying to secure the premises against anything worse happening. We were basically divided into shifts and rotas about how to look after the property. I had to stand there on patrol at one point to keep away any onlookers or anyone who might be there for some kind of nefarious purposes. There was a lot of paperwork that had burnt and was blowing around. While I was standing there looking at it a few more bits fell from the ceiling to the ground. I was supposed at this point to go on patrol around the area to see who was about but I had a lot of difficulty walking and I’d be of no use if I had to confront anyone so I decided to let other people do that. When I walked round the corner there on the field even though it was raining were a few of my housemates playing cricket. One of them shouted “go and put the kettle on, Eric” but of course it was going to be extremely difficult because of the fire and the damage and because of my difficulties. In the end he left the cricket field and wandered off somewhere as if he was going to do it.

At some point there was a question of another young girl of woman being involved in this. When we finally met her we found that she was just as handicapped as I am so obviously she couldn’t stand her patrol looking after the building and patrolling the area for a couple of days. We felt that we should have known about her handicap beforehand otherwise we could have made certain allowances for her but now things are under way and already happening it’s rather too late now for that.

It was the custom of the hospital to send several patients dressed up as Father Christmas, his helpers and his reindeer to go and collect money for charitable purposes. This year though they decided that instead of making a sleigh they would do it with a motorbike and sidecar. They asked me if I would like to go but I couldn’t really get in and out of the sidecar very easily so that would seem to rule that out. Then they were having a lot of difficulty trying to think of someone else. I thought to myself that if I’d known that I was expected to do this sort of thing along with everyone else I’d have thought twice about coming here.

And that was another dream that I actually dictated in French.

Then there was someone in our group with a name something like Awotni but when we had a list of members we couldn’t see anyone who corresponded to that. I made some kind of light-hearted remark about Polish family names which was immediately greeted with distaste by some members of the group. Then I remembered thinking that maybe if this person had been treated for a long time he shouldn’t be in our group anyway or maybe the group isn’t the correct place for them to be because this group that I’m in is about everyone being able to do every different thing.

There was also a girl put into our group who didn’t seem to be capable of doing very much. We didn’t think much of that idea because we were all trying to be as equal as possible and doing as many tasks as we could. We didn’t really want anyone who didn’t have the courage to follow it all through. This person seemed to be treating it just as a way of relaxing than a matter of life and death like the rest of us thought that it was. We didn’t appreciate that kind of levity at these serious moments.

“I wish that you’d store your accessories and introduce them into the discussions as appropriate” we said to someone who seemed to be much more able to move about than the rest of us but who didn’t seem to work as hard. We considered that due to the health that everyone put in we ought to be doing so much more and there should be so much more solidarity amongst the patients.

Zero put in an appearance last night. Her father was talking about a Christmas dinner that he’d made and how she’d sat down from the start and eaten absolutely everything put in front of her, all the way through to the Christmas pudding. He was ever so impressed that she’d managed to take all of it. It was the way that he said it that made me think of some kind of double-entendre and to my complete surprise, in the middle of this dream I had an immense fit of jealousy.

It actually reminded me of the girl who went into a pub and asked for a double-entendre so the barman gave her one.

But it was a real surprise, as I could tell from how I dictated it. But at least after talking about Christmas food yesterday, it’s made me focus on what I need to do for Christmas. So Liz – I shall be relying on you to tell me when to start to make my cake to make sure that I don’t leave it too late.

And I’ll make sure that it’s squirrelled away so that Zero can’t find it. As Liz will tell you, I don’t “do” sharing when it comes to cake. However, if Zero (or TOTGA, or Castor) were here, I might be persuaded to make an exception.

My friends from the Wirral came to see me last night. We were talking about all the old times etc. In the end we had to go out to do something. And the wife had a pushchair with one of her kids in it. While I was eating my meal I’d seen a photo and I was trying for ages to place this photo. It suddenly occurred to me that it was the old petrol station in Hungerford Road (of course there never was a petrol station there). I eventually worked out where this photo was and decided that we had to go. There was a big problem about 2 of my cars that needed moving around, some kind of question about them having no tax, no MoT, all Cortima MkIIIs. I needed to move them from where they were stored. We had a huge debate about which one we should move first and which should be moved second. I wasn’t even sure to where I was going to move them. In the end my friend asked me about driving – how come the Senator was the only big vehicle that I had these days. I replied “actually I can’t drive any more anyway so there’s no point having a car. If I am able to drive in the near future it won’t be in professional transport so I won’t need a big car”. We then went back to discussing in which order we were going to move these 2 MkIII Cortinas.

And that’s a recurring dream, isn’t it? Having cars scattered all over the place with no tax or MoT which need to be moved around.

I was in Crewe again last night and had gone to a petrol station. I bumped into a guy … "Lee Jenkins" – ed … whom I knew who played centre-half for Haverfordwest. We began to talk about vehicles and how he’d bought a MkIII Cortina once and when he’d come to sell it he had over £1000 for it. I pointed to mine and said “do you mean like this?”. I was in my gold MkIII estate, the one in the barn in Virlet. His eyes lit up and he said “wow! It’s great!” and went to have a really good look around it. He asked if he could take it for a drive but I had to decline. He said “you’re probably afraid that I’d never bring it back!”. I replied “something like that”. I told him all about the vehicle, one owner from new, guaranteed genuine mileage etc, We had quite a lengthy chat about it.

And “wow” he may well say. Cortina MkIII 2000E models were pretty rare on the ground when they were new and current, but in my atelier in Montaigut is a 2000E saloon and the gold MkIII estate in my barn in Virlet is a 2000E estate of which there are known to be no more than half a dozen still in existence and which is worth a King’s ransom.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed I was at work in Belgium. I’d gone out for a coffee break, to stand outside. While I was out there a girl came up and began to attack me, trying to push me into the lake. After I’d fought her off I went into the security hut. The guy there made me a coffee. We had a little chat about how crazy some people are in this building. I had to go to fetch something from my car. On the way back I met a Post Office girl trying to talk to a cat. It turned out that cats received telegrams. You had to give the telegram to the correct cat, not just to any cat. They were trying to train the cats to accept the telegrams which I thought was the strangest thing that I’d ever seen. I walked back down to the front door of the building, pressed the button for the sliding doors to open but nothing happened. I could hear people on the inside but no matter how I pressed the button I couldn’t make the sliding doors open so that I could go in. I thought “this is good, isn’t it? I’m locked outside the building now”.

What with stopping for lunch, it took me until about 15:00 to transcribe all of that – and it might have been done quicker had I not … errr … gone off with the fairies for a while.

Then I went to make my fruit bread. I took my time making the dough and it actually turned out quite well.

After I’d finished my lunch I’d taken the last of the pizza dough out of the freezer (so I’ll have to make some more next weekend) and it had been defrosting.

Just as I was going to deal with it Rosemary rang me for a chat and we had another one of our marathon sessions. She’s rather worried because she has a major operation shortly (which I why she couldn’t have come with me to Michigan) and she wants someone to either reassure her or to talk her out of it.

She talked about her operation at great length and in great detail, despite me telling her on several occasions not to. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall exactly how I feel about operations and surgery.

But it’s not likely that I’m going to talk anyone out of surgery. No matter how ill even the thought of it makes me feel, I’m a firm believer in the principle of Macbeth and the murder of Duncan “If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well it were done quickly”.

It’s much more painful to spend all of this time worrying and postponing it rather than to have it done quickly.

When they operated on my kidneys they didn’t even tell me. They just took me, bed and all, down into the basement, stuck a mask over my face and said “here – smell this!”. And that was the last that I knew about it.

As a result everything was running really late. But the fruit bread is, for once, cooked to perfection and the pizza was pretty good too.

So I’ll wander off and have a good sleep. For a change, there’s nothing happening tomorrow so I can push on with a few things without any interruptions.

Well, such is the theory. We all know how it works in practice.

Sunday 27th August 2023 – TODAY I HAVE …

… emulated my namesake the mathematician and done three fifths of five eights of … errr … nothing.

As usual, on a Saturday night, I was late going to bed. It doesn’t make much of a difference really on a Saturday if I’m having a lie-in on a Sunday. But this morning I kept on waking up and by 10:00 I’d given up comple tely the whole idea of going back to sleep.

However, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, being up and about is one thing. Being wide awake, fighting fit and raring to go is something else completely and I didn’t even have the energy to go and take my medication for quite a while.

After my midday cereal and cheese on toast I made a start on the next batch of fruit bread. It’s basically a load of bread buns but with all kinds of things in it like ground-up brazil nuts, mashed banana, desiccated coconut, sultanas, almonds, sunflower seeds and anything else that’s lying around.

It takes quite a lot of kneading but when it all goes together it makes a really nice dough.

While I was waiting for the dough to proof, I transcribed the dictaphone notes. I was back in the good old days of OUSA again. A few of us were hanging around together. For some reason I came across an absolutely enormous pile of money, notes, that could have been worth a fortune, and some letters which on the face of it had been written by one of our group. I didn’t know what to do with these things – I didn’t want to return them to the person to whom I thought they belonged because he’d want to know how I’d managed to find them. So there I was with this huge pile of money in my hand and someone noticed it – the girlfriend of the guy concerned. She asked me from where all this stuff had come. I replied that I didn’t know. I’d just come across it while I was doing some clearing up. I was as confused as everyone else about from where all this had come. She immediately took possession of it and came across the letters that had been written. She immediately associated them with her boyfriend, as I did and anyone else would have done too. She accosted him. At first this led to some very unpleasant minutes but then when she was reading some bits out of these letters to him there was a mention about going to the Eisteddfod. That rang a bell with me because when the Eisteddfod was on that year we were all at the students’ Annual General Meeting so I said “it can’t possibly have been him because he wasn’t at the Eisteddfod but at the Annual meeting”. Then I remembered that I actually had photographs of him speaking from the stage with the backdrop etc making it perfectly clear that we were there. I could remember talking about the Eisteddfod at the meeting so I went to find my information. At first I thought that it was this guy playing fast and loose with someone else but when I remembered talking about the Eisteddfod it couldn’t possibly have been him so I’d no idea what this was about at all.

And then I was in Edleston Road in Crewe, by the Imperial. My youngest sister and her husband were there. He was riding around on what looked like an old moped or something. One thing that we noticed was that in the street were a load of people going past on some of the weirdest pushbikes you’d ever seen, all kinds of strange, ridiculous equipment. One or two of them were totally unable to ride and kept on falling off, making fools of themselves. We wondered what was going on. It turned out that somewhere in town was a display of unusual cycles. At that point I happened to look at the moped thing that my brother in law was riding. It had a strange number-plate on it that I didn’t recognise. I asked him about it. He said that it was his father’s old bike, an old Rover from 1964 and there’s only 20-odd miles on the clock. he was trying to sell it but had no idea of what it was worth but it must be worth thousands. I asked him if I could look at it, which surprised him but eventually he let me have a look. It was something similar to an old Triumph Tiger Cub or something. I thought that I’d like to go for a ride on this but then firstly I couldn’t afford the kind of price that ha was thinking of asking for it and secondly a bike like this doesn’t belong on the road but in a museum. It shouldn’t be run about any old how, spoiling its value by running up the miles on it.

Later on there was another group of us this time having a chat. One of us was talking about programs on the computer, saying that there were some programs that link the computer up to the internet without you even knowing about it and anything could be happening. You could be downloading files from there or your own personal files could be uploaded to the internet and anyone could then really have a look at them. This sounded interesting so I was hoping that he’d say some more about it but as usual in this crowd he had quite a few girls and was more interested in seeing the girls that I was. But at that point I fell asleep.

Well, what I mean is that I’m always asleep when I dictate my notes but what does happen sometimes is that my dictating just tails off into nothingness and occasionally I begin to snore or, like last night, I dropped the dictaphone and it fell on my head.

Finally I was out in the countryside last night somewhere in North Shropshire. I had to take a little girl to school but there was really thick fog so you couldn’t actually see anything. We piled into the van anyway and set off, doing our best in this freezing fog. Gradually as we came to the tops of hills we could see that the tops were clear. When we reached the top of the hills we could see that there was a couple of other people with children walking that way. It was so dangerous to try to go past them that we ended up at walking pace behind them. It wasn’t until they’d stopped to look at something in the hedgerow that we could actually go past and drive on. We then came in to Whitchurch. The first thing that we noticed was a huge supermarket at a place called Crewe Square by a roundabout where the by-pass was, around Whitchurch. But this was nowhere that I recognised at all. We continued and found ourselves going down the hill past the old Grammar School into the town. I was really bewildered as to how I’d actually managed to come this way because it was a really strange way to come. I really couldn’t understand the route that I’d taken.

That wasn’t everything either, but you really don’t want to know about the rest, especially if you are eating your meal or something.

And at some point during the night I was definitely joined by Nerina, my friend from Congleton and also by Zero for a brief moment. It seems that I’m quite popular just at present.

While the fruit buns were baking I assembled my pizza. I’d taken some frozen dough out of the freezer earlier on and it had been defrosting during the afternoon. I’d rolled it out a while back and had left it to proof so I assembled it while I was waiting for the fruit buns.

Once again, it was an excellent pizza. This cheese that I can buy now seems to be doing the job and the cherry tomatoes that I cut in half and stick right on top of everything add the finishing touch

Tomorrow I’m going to have to start to gather up my paperwork ready for Wednesday and to order some stuff off the internet, like my new course book for the forthcoming year. High time that I organised myself.

After all, I’m not going to be here on Wednesday and I hope that, if I have the results that I would like to have, I won’t be here for a while either while they hack me to bits.

But I can’t see that happening very much. It’s not as if it will make much of a difference. As soon as they sort one thing out, something else goes wrong. I’m getting to the stage where I’m afraid to go to the toilet these days in case something else drops off.

Sunday 20th August 2023 – THESE DAYS THE DAY …

… is dawning round about 06:30 in the morning. Ask me how I know.

Sometimes I don’t understand what’s going on (not that that’s anything new, of course) but last night I sat and watched the clock go round and round and wasn’t at all tired enough to go to bed.

It was just after 06:30 when I finally hauled myself off, but that was more by force of habit than anything else because it took me an absolute age to drift off into the Land of Nod.

What made things even worse was that I was awake again by 11:30 and after having tried valiantly to go back to sleep, by about 12:30 I gave it up as a bad job and raised myself from the dead.

After having had something to eat, the night’s efforts caught up with me and that was that for a while unfortunately.

It took me quite a while to come to my senses, which is a surprise given how few senses I have these days, and then I made a slow (and I DO mean “slow”) start on the radio programme.

It’s taking a total age to finish it because I’m not in any kind of state do do any work right now after everything else that has (or hasn’t) happened.

There was time to listen to whatever there was on the dictaphone. In fact it was a real surprise that there was something on there from the very short period when I must have drifted away into Neverland during the morning while I was in bed. We were talking about football in the Welsh class discussing bits of vocabulary etc that are important to know. I explained how much the lessons have helped me understand a lot more about what’s happening. A couple of people listened to the soundtrack of the game, the commentary. They seemed to think that it was easy to follow. I explained that that was because they already know some Welsh and had learnt some Welsh. When I first started listening to it years ago I hardly understood anything at all. I think that we’ve made enormous strides with what we’ve done today

Meanwhile, in other news, my pizzas are getting better and better.

Last weekend I’d used the last of the pizza dough in the freezer so I had to make some more today. a couple of lumps went into the freezer and I assembled the pizza for tonight’s tea on the third one which I had already rolled out

The vegan cheese from LeClerc and the cherry tomatoes on top make all of the difference. This new cheese melts quite nicely and the cherry tomatoes give it a certain je ne sais quoi and I wish that I knew what it was because I would make use of it more often.

So if I can summon up the energy and enthusiasm I’ll carry on with the radio programme and then crawl into bed. And I can’t say that I’ll regret it either because I’m exhausted, as you might expect.

The last week of my Welsh course starts tomorrow and then the following week I have to think about going to that hospital in Paris.

It’s never-ending, isn’t it?

Sunday 16th July 2023 – IF I EVER LAY …

… my hands on whoever rang my doorbell at 07:09 this morning they won’t ever do it again. I can’t even imagine why anyone would want to do that.

There I was, in the middle of an interesting dream too. That’s what was so disappointing about it all.

Even worse, I hadn’t gone to bed until late. After I’d finished my notes I dictated the dictaphone notes for the next radio programme and then loitered around for a while trying to tire myself out. It’s not easy to be tired when you’ve spent most of the afternoon fast asleep.

Regardless of the rude awakening I managed to go back to sleep again and it was a much more realistic and reasonable 10:30 when I finally saw the light of day.

After the medication and checking the mails and messages I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. And to my surprise we were going through talking about people and describing people -in Welsh. I was describing someone and somehow I made them to be 500 years old. Someone asked me if that was what I really meant. Then someone rang the doorbell of the apartment so I awoke at that point.

Later on I was with my friend from Holywell in North Wales. We were in a city somewhere. She had a list of places to visit to do various thinks like pay her taxes etc. I took her to a place where she could see every building. I pointed them out to her one by one but she must have been confused. When she saw that the Rates Office was a ruin she had a panic attack. In the end I took hold of her and brought her down to the rates Office. I helped her through the rubble and steps. There was a young guy there who made a few light-hearted comments about his building. My friend began to thaw. I told him that I thought that the building was magnificent but that my wife didn’t like it one bit. I didn’t realise that I’d said it until I said it. I expected her to throw a fit on hearing that but she didn’t. In the end we organised her rate payments for her then I set out to take her to the next building on the list. I thought that if I go with her to all of them it’ll be dome much quicker than her standing on a street corner panicking.

Actually, a similar thing happened to me when I went with Marianne to Rome. She didn’t speak Italian so it made no difference when I referred to her as mia moglia to whoever we met, but I was talking to an Indian guy and forgot myself so much as to mention “My Wife” to him.

And then there was the time that I took my Greek friend to the airport in Brussels. Standing by the gate seeing her off and she was telling me “make sure you eat decent meals” and stuff like that, and a woman standing behind her said to her “that’s right – we have to make sure that our husbands look after themselves when we aren’t there”

She was another lovely girl whom I liked very much and I even went to learn some Greek so that I could speak to her family, but she was another one who had far too much sense to be involved with me

Meanwhile, back at the ran …errr … bed I went back to a ship carrying my duffle bag and a pile of other stuff. I met a girl who was going in the same direction so we walked together for a while. We came to the traffic lights to cross the road into the port. She said that she was just going to run across regardless of traffic. I explained that that was rather a strange thing to do because for a start I was heavily laden down and I wouldn’t be able to cross. We waited for the lights. I told her that they change quickly so we couldn’t dawdle but we crossed with plenty of time to spare and walked down to the docks. We ended up on a cliff top quite high up looking at the sea. There was a large group of us there waiting for the ship. We could see all the way up and down the coast. The tide was well in and the promenade was under water but there was no sign of the ship. She began to organise the passengers. Someone asked “how come you’re doing that,” She said “I’m going to see the Captain about having this job”. They laughed and said that that would be most unlikely. She reminded them that someone had been taken on to do a job simply because he’d enjoyed doing it before he’d been appointed. I said “it seems to be the only qualification around here”. That made everyone laugh. But we were up there on this cliff in the dark. We couldn’t see our ship at all the entire way up and down the coast. We began to wonder what on earth had happened to it

Much of the rest of the day has been spent in a desultory kind of fashion making a radio programme and that’s all now finished, up and running and ready to go sometime at the start of next year.

There was some time off to make some fruit buns. And they actually came out really well which is a nice surprise. I’ve not tasted them yet but I’ll tell you all about them tomorrow.

On the subject of baking, tonight’s pizza was as good as usual. They seem to be doing OK now. The dough in the base didn’t rise quite as high as it has done in the past and that was surprising but it didn’t change the taste at all.

So in a few minutes I’m off to bed. An early night will do me good and tomorrow I can crack on with Canada. I have a whole two weeks to back something out before my next Welsh course and I have to make the most of it.

Sunday 28th May 2023 – A BIG HAPPY …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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