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Wednesday 8th May 2024 – IT’S GOING TO BE …

… another late night tonight, if last night wasn’t late enough.

My great little niece (or is it “my little great niece) sat around the dining room table for hours this evening discussing all kinds of things. It’s good to know that it’s not just her sister and I who see things in the same way.

But then that’s what going to University is all about – making you see different things from a real-world perspective rather than a small-minded rural perspective that’s stuck inside a time-warp. For example, those of us who sharpened our claws in some of some of the more confrontational conferences on our University’s debating forum certainly met several new ideas.

The two of us were having a good chat last night too and it wasn’t until quite late that she left. As a result it was about 01:00 when I finally crawled into bed and I’ve a feeling that it’s going to be pretty much the same today.

Once in bed though, I slept the Sleep of the Dead and didn’t show a leg until the alarm went off at 07:00 when I fell out of bed to switch it off.

Having done that I crawled off into the bathroom to prepare myself for the day, and then went for my half-litre of flavoured water and pills.

Once they were out of the way I arranged the dining room for the nurse. When she came round she was able to change the plaster on my wound and fit my puttees. We had the usual apocalyptical warning about what I can and cannot do, to which I took absolutely no notice whatsoever. No-one’s going to chain me up – at least, not without the changing hands of a considerable amount of folding stuff.

After she left I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I was during the night. There was some kind of strange war being fought last night between two groups of people. They were fighting each other quite heavily but there were umpires and judges, everything like that who supervised it. After one game, the fight broke out again. Everyone was fighting, I was busy fighting someone or other and I came across the fact that 30 or 40 of their members had actually come as prisoners on a barge and all of a sudden were now fighting. I thought that that was cheating so I made the point but no-one else took it seriously and began to laugh. I didn’t know at all what to do in this situation

And that’s the kind of chaos with which I’m usually associated. Apart from that, I don’t understand the significance

There was also something about a football team changing its goalkeeper at half-time without notifying anyone but I’ve no idea where that fitted in. I suspect that it might be to do with one of the football matches that I watched at the weekend. Having followed one particular team throughout the season I noticed that they had a goalkeeper of a different ethnic origin between the sticks for the first time at the weekend and that confused everyone, including me.

There was a live football match on the Internet afterwards – the USA women’s team against an Asian side – so for a change I settled down to watch it. Yet, not surprisingly, I fell asleep after 25 minutes. And a real, proper deep sleep too.

As a result I was late for breakfast – A couple of slices of hot, buttered toast with fresh bread and that made me want to eat it again

There were two mugs of hot, strong black coffee too and it’s a total lie about coffee keeping you awake because it didn’t work for me. In fact when my visitor texted me to say she’ll be here shortly I was flat-out away with the fairies.

However I awoke in time and when she arrived we began our little discussion, which went on for a couple of hours. She’d researched the area and the area where I used to live and was able to have a really good conversation.

One thing about her is that she’s definitely her father’s daughter. Strong, determined, self-reliant and confident, and "This new learning" that SO AMAZED KING ARTHUR and which seems to have gripped most of her generation hasn’t reached her yet which is very good news.

After a while she left to go to visit the Dior museum and I came in here to carry on working, selecting the music for the next radio programme.

Not that I got very far. Rosemary rang me and we had a very lengthy chat, putting the World to rights as we usually do, not that the World ever listens to us

We’re both convinced though that there’s a major breakdown in social order in the UK these days and, funnily enough, my little great niece who is wandering around the country on her own for the first time and seeing things from a totally different perspective, happened to mention that very same thing in out discussions.

After Rosemary’s phone call I did a little more work but my visitor returned. We carried on our discussion and I also made a chick pea curry with rice and veg. The soya yoghurt gave the curry a creamy taste and it all went down very well

Our chat continued for ages but after a while with her falling almost asleep on the table she set off back to our hotel and I did the washing up.

She’s on an early train in the morning so won’t have time to come here to say goodbye which is a great pity. I’ve enjoyed seeing her and having her come to visit me. I still can’t get over how quickly she’s grown since she was a tiny dot in my arms 20 years ago in 2003 when I was there in Canada that winter.

So tomorrow I’ll carry on with what I’ve been doing and hope to make some progress. Tomorrow is another day of course but as Kris Kristofferson sang, I’D GIVE ALL MY TOMORROWS FOR A SINGLE YESTERDAY

Yes, especially the days (and nights) when Castor, Zero and TOTGA would come to see me. I can’t remember now who I was with when, the next day someone asked me "who was that lady I seen you with last night?"
"I saw!" I replied. "It’s ‘I saw’!"
"Well OK. Have it your way" he answered. "Who was that eyesore I seen you with last night?"

Wednesday 27th March 2024 – A LITTLE EARLIER …

… this evening I was lying slumped over the edge of my desk, forehead leaning on the top, totally out of it altogether. Miles away from what was going on in the real world.

Since all of these problems began I’ve been having some weird sleeping fits to be sure, but this one totally beat anything that I have had to date. “Out like a light” was hardly the word.

Whatever is going on with me and my body right now totally defies all comprehension. There’s no logical reason for it at all, except to say that it must be one of the pills that I take.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that at first I thought that it was that horrible anti-potassium stuff. It certainly seems to be that which was making me have those hallucinations, but this crashing-out is carrying on nevertheless, so it must be one of the others

The hospital knows about it because I’ve mentioned it, but as yet they have taken no action. and I know what their response will be, because we’ve been here before. They’ll just give me another tablet to counter the problem, and then I’ll need yet another tablet to counter the side-effects of that one.

And so we’ll continue on … "and on, and on, and on etc" – ed

It wouldn’t have done me much good last night either because once more I was hours late going to bed. There’s far too much to be doing here these days. Most of it just seems to be administration too and I’m beginning to think that “never mind a cleaner – I need a secretary”.

Still, I don’t think that I could pay a secretary to take my blood tests for me.

In bed, for what there was of it, was relatively relaxed and I wasn’t disturbed at all as far as I remember. But I would have loved an extra few hours in bed.

When the alarm went off I was in the middle of a really interesting journey but I immediately forgot all of it which was a shame, instead, I fell out of bed (literally) and went off to take the blood pressure. 15.9/9.0, which might sound high but nothing like as high as 19.4/11.2 which it was last night. What on earth was going on to make it so high?

The nurse came round later and I was lucky that I’d finished my wash and brush up by the time that she arrived. I’ve managed to persuade her to give a ring on the doorbell as she arrives so I’ll have a few minutes to prepare everything while she’s attending to my neighbour rather than just bursting in when I am incommunicado – and in somewhere else as well.

She almost forgot my injection this morning too. Apparently this “injection of the last resort” goes on for another three months and I’ve no idea what happens then. Anyway she remembered just in time (it’s no use asking me to remember anything these days) and so I’m like a dartboard again.

Checking my mails and messages I found a mail from an old friend of mine, someone with whom I’ve had no contact for almost 50 years.

He was a friend at school and we hung around together for a few years but then, like the Knights of the Round Table,WE WENT OUR SEPARATE WAYS. We do have a mutual contact and it seems that news about my condition is slowly circulating around.

It’s really nice to speak to people from the past like that. There’s a lot of catching up to do as our time draws slowly on to its conclusion. I say that because he’s not doing too well either.

Then I had to prepare for my Welsh lesson which didn’t take long.

And the lesson passed much better today than it has done over the previous two days and despite the fact that I can’t remember anything, I feel so much better about it. And that’s progress too.

The cleaner came round today too in order to make the place look pretty, and we went through the medication and made another list. She’ll go to the chemist’s tomorrow to order what I need, including some new injections, and pick it all up on Friday.

There was some stuff on the dictaphone too from the night. I’d started up in business again. I had a radio operator and driver for the daytime. And I did things a little on the way, like I made a little snack, something like baked beans on toast or mushrooms on toast or something, not very appetising or anything but at least I made sure that they had something to eat at lunchtime. I was sitting down doing a summary of everything and I asked how things were going. The subject of this food came up. They admitted that the food wasn’t particularly substantial but it was nice that I’d thought of them. They were really pleased about that but one girl had something of a moan about it. I’m not saying that she was wrong but I’m saying that there were limits as to what I could do during the daytime when I was supposed to be sleeping and that way they were lucky that they were receiving something.

And that would be a horror show if I started up in business again. I’ve had my fill of working hard for a living and the only kind of working in which I’m interested in doing is work where I’m sitting here at my desk within easy reach of the bathroom and the coffee machine.

That way, there’s only one person whose interests I have to look out for, and it’s not anyone else’s, that’s for sure. I’ve done enough of that, especially when its usually been the interests of the wrong people and not the interests of those who really matter.

But talking about food not being substantial, the thought of a good plate of beans on toast made my mouth water and had I had a loaf of bread here instead of baking it to order, I would have been really tempted.

While I was rummaging around looking for something or other I came across my collection of EAST OF EDEN albums.

Now that’s a blast from the past. They were a group from Bristol who buzzed around the festivals and concert circuits for years.

Apart from their hit single, JIJ A JIG that is nothing whatsoever like the rest of their music – they are a typical late-60’s rock band – their claim to fame is that violinist Dave Arbus was the musician who played violin on the Who’s BABA O’RILEY, one of the greatest singles of all time.

Once everything had calmed down I made a start on the next radio programme but regrettably I didn’t get very far, for reasons that I explained earlier. I can see this being a continual story.

Tea tonight was a delicious leftover curry, lengthened with some lentils, quinoa and peanuts, and accompanied by rice, veg and naan bread. And there’s no better meal than one of my leftover curries.

However I’ve now run out of dough for my naan breads so I’ll have to make some more for next week. We can’t be doing without that. Luckily I still have some soya yoghurt left.

But that reminds me – my biscuit-making operation (and delicious they are too) has meant that I’m running perilously low on vegan butter. I need to place an order for the food from LeClerc. I can’t be doing without my butter for my hot cross buns either.

It’s a surprise that I’m not putting on any weight with all of this food that I seem to be shifting. It’s rather like the little girl who noticed that her mummy’s stomach seemed to be growing bigger and bigger, so she asked her mummy about it.
"Well dear" said mummy "Daddy’s given me a baby"
"but hat’s that got to do with your tummy?"
"Because the baby’s in there dear" said mummy
So the little girl goes off to her daddy
"You know that baby you gave mummy?" she asked
"Yes dear?" asked her father
"Well" replied the little girl "SHE’S EATEN IT!"

Wednesday 14th September 2022 – PECCAVI WASN’T BACK …

peccavi le styx chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022… in the water for very long, was she?

A couple of days ago we sw the portable boat lift hovering around her like a bird of prey, and yesterday she had gone.

But this afternoon as I wandered around the headland on my walk, I noticed that she’s back in the cradle of the portable boat lift, either looking for a berth or else having ha da quick touching up and waiting to be lowered back down again when the tide comes in later this afternoon..

We’ll have to wait until tomorrow to find out what’s happened to her. But whatever is going on, it was rather a short stay in the water.

Just for a change my stay in bed last night wasn’t all that short. I was (for once) actually in bed at something like a reasonable time and it’s been a while since that’s happened.

Quite a few little voyages during the night too. I can’t remember who I was with now but I was at a fishing port somewhere. I had a daughter who lived here. My partner asked me about her so I made a couple of excuses and said that she’s just been sent to bed because she’s misbehaved. Just as I was saying that, round the corner she came along wiht the nurse or nanny who looked after her. I thought “that’s my story blown, isn’t it?”. I said to her “hello. What are you doing?”. She replied that she had indeed been sent to bed but for a different reason to the one that I just gave. I asked her if she wants to see me when I’m here, she obviously has to be on her best behaviour because if she keeps on being sent to bed she won’t be able to see me at all. The two of us, my friend and the child’s nurse or nanny, we had a little chat together about everything.

And later, Marianne and I were in the Metro or Underground on our way to a theatre to watch a play or a cinema. We were passing through different Underground stations talking about groups whom we’d seen performing at concert halls nearby. As we closed to our destination Marianne said suddenly that she didn’t have her handbag with her. She’d left it at one of our stops. She had to leap off the train and go back. I carried on and got off at our stop and took up a place where I could watch the train arrive. It wasn’t many minutes afterwards when she arrived, saying that she didn’t have her bag, didn’t have her purse etc. I looked a bit suspicious about everything. She came up with some small change to leave the Underground etc. We went over there and I bought the tickets to go in, all the drinks, sweets etc. We decided that we’d go somewhere else but I can’t remember now where that somewhere else was.

Finally I was unloading a load of Rowntrees products from Strider when I awoke. I thought that he was saying that that company would haul anything if the price was right. They had a couple of large containers with their food on board that was destined for Taylor’s to share out at Christmas. The rest of it was shop deliveries. Even though it was all mis-sorted all over the place it had to be delivered to individual shops. We were going on about our relationship with the shop, about how sometimes it was very good, sometimes it was very bad depending on the particular issues. Before that I’d been somewhere or other from town. We’d been wandering around and there had been this 6-cylinder Harley Davidson parked up at the side of this building. It had been there for a while. Everyone would come to look at it, Harley Davidson aficionados from all over the place. One day a Harley Davidson club turned up to see it and decided that they would take some of us for a ride so somehow they managed to disconnect the lock on it. Someone else bought a trailer of the type that this Harley Davidson would pull when it was working. I was unlucky enough that I had a lift on a traditional Harley. They went north out of Crewe through the lanes. It was a wild experience. He was playing an LP of A NEIGHBOUR OF MINE like THE TALE OF SIR ROBIN but it was the tale of the guy who was actually driving the motorbike and I can’t remember now his name.

For the benefit of any new reader, anyone who knows anything about LORD OF THE RINGS will know exactly what make and model of vehicle Strider is. He’s on my mind at the moment because he’s just been for his safety inspection in Canada and I’m told that he needs some welding. That’s bad news of course but he is 14 years old and is left outside during the Canadian winters, so it’s not a surprise.

It’s high time that I made up my mind about what to do with him.

Having dealt with all of that then most of the rest of the day has been spent with dealing with my Jersey photos. I’ve not done too many of those because most of the time has been spent researching.

And most of that time was trying to find out when a couple of buildings were erecting. It’s always puzzled me that there’s much more information available about older buildings than there is about newer ones

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022There were several breaks during the day of course, the afternoon walk being one of them.

As usual I went over to the wall at the end of the car park to see what was going on down on the beach. And today, it was a case of playing “spot the human being”. I certainly couldn’t see one in this photo.

Not that that’s really surprising. The weather has turned yet again and the temperature has dropped. It’s quite cool there and pretty much overcast. Winter won’t be long in a-coming, I reckon.

zodiac baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022Looking out to sea was pretty much a waste of time this afternoon as well.

There was quite a sea mist and you couldn’t see the Ile de Chausey this afternoon. I’d almost given up hope of seeing anything out at sea when this zodiac came into view from around the headland. So at least that was something.

There was a guy on board who had in his possession a couple of fishing rods. So there’s no surprise as to where he’ll be going.

However I’m more concerned as to where he’s come from because in the kind of range in which a zodiac travels safely, there’s no port with a ramp into the water right now. It’s only people like us who’ll travel 30 miles in open water on a zodiac trying to find our ship.

But be all that as it may, about 30 seconds after this zodiac came by, another one came around the headland. It looks as if there’s quite a lot going on as far as they are concerned.

lobster pot marker pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022A little further on, I came across another marker buoy with a flag.

Having seen quite a few of these, I’m even more convinced that they mark the position of lobster pots that have been dropped overboard in the hope of making a catch.

And just in case I hadn’t seen enough of them already, there were several all dotted along the coast here.

They were all flying the same colour of flag so that seems to be pretty conclusive that the same flag belongs to the same owner, and a different flag belongs to a different owner.

cabanon vauban man on bench pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022With not too many people out and about this afternoon I wasn’t expecting to see anyone down at the bench at the cabanon vauban.

Nevertheless there were two people down there this afternoon. One of them went and hid out of sight behind the cabin when they saw me coming, such has my fame spread these days. But the other person took no notice so he fitted in quite nicely to my photo.

One or two people down on the lower path too but they didn’t hang around waiting for the bench to clear so that they could take their turn at sitting down.

And neither did I hang around. I cleared off down the path on the other side of the headland towards the port.

pierre de jade chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022And plenty of excitement today in the chantier naval.

We’ve seen Peccavi back in town, but it looked very much as if we had yet another trawler in there that wasn’t in there yesterday.

To be on the safe side I took a photo of it with the aim of examining it back at base but when I did so, it turned out to be Pierre de Jade who was in there yesterday.

They must really be cracking on with that because they have already painted out her name with some undercoating. And with all of the workmen swarming all over her in contrast to how the work is progressing on the other boats, it looks as if they have a pressing engagement for her.

shtandart marite chausiaise port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022Meanwhile down at the far end of the inner harbour it looks as if we have a full house.

Not only is Marité there but it seems that Shtandart is back in town as well, tied up in her usual place. So what’s the story with her then? For how long is she staying?

Chausiaise is down there too in the loading bay underneath the crane. Now that things are quietening down at the end of the summer, maybe she’s thinking about going out with another load to the Channel Islands.

Meanwhile what I am thinking about is going home for a coffee. I’m really struggling, going round my circuit and I certainly can’t do it in 15 minutes as I used to. Fings ain’t looking so good.

For a while I carried on with my photos and later on ended up having a chat with my neighbour. This things isn’t happening this weekend, as I said, but we were talking about a few more opportunities. However, they are increasingly unlikely from my point of view.

Tea tonight was another delicious, magnificent curry and then Rosemary rang so we had another one of our marathon chats. Hence I’m running rather late tonight yet again. There’s no end to it.

Tomorrow I’ll be carrying on with my photos from Jersey. At least I’m ashore now having a coffee – about a quarter of the way through the images. It’s going to take another age to finish it, and then I can restart on all of the other hundreds of outstanding days when there was so much to do that is as yet undone.

It never ends, does it?

Wednesday 31st August 2022 – AND THAT, DEAR READER …

… is probably that!

Having been feeling a little better (both physically and mentally) this last week or so I decided today to pousser le bateau dehors as they might say around here, And I’ve had a day out.

What I was looking forward to was a good day out, and how I wish that it was. However my knee gave out again on the way out and luckily there was a handle to grab hold of.

On the way back I wasn’t so lucky. BOTH knees gave out and I couldn’t pick myself up at all no matter how hard I tried. It took two people to pick me up and sit me in a seat.

The walk back from the port took me almost an hour, taking baby steps and stopping frequently when my knees (and hips because they are now aching badly) gave out and clinging to everything to which I could cling. And I can’t climb steps with either leg now except if I’m grasping hold of something to pull me up.

Consequently I don’t think that I’ll be going far from now on.

Anyway, leaving aside the “feeling sorry for myself”” stage, let us begin. And I’ll “start at the very beginning – a very good place to start” as the old song goes.

So having gone to bed at some reasonably early time last night I was up and about at 07:00 when the alarm went off and the first thing that I did was to go and have a shower and a clean-up ready for the off.

Last night I’d packed my bag so I didn’t have too much to do and so at about 08:05 this morning I left the house, forgetting the secret supply of cash stashed away in Caliburn. And I was to regret that later.

There were quite a few people on the move today so I joined the crowd heading down the hill towards the town and then at the Rampe du Monte à Regret, like the KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE we each went our separate ways because there was a lot going on today.

And it was going down the ramp to the bottom that my right leg gave way but luckily I fell into the wall without hitting the ground. However it hurt like hell and I had to wait several minutes until I felt safe enough to move.

“This is a good start to the day” I thought to myself.

The wall across to the port and down the side of the quayside was agonising and I hoped that it would ease off. And there I pumped into my friend the captain of Normandy Trader and his family. I mentioned a while ago that there was no freight delivery while the Festival was on last week so he and his family had taken a holiday over here.

We joined the immense queue at the Ferry Terminal where we had to wait for what seemed like hours and then finally we could pick up our tickets.

Once in possession of our tickets we passed through passport control and a customs inspection and then had to wait for what seemed like yet more hours.

At passport control the guy there went to stamp my passport but I told him that I had a carte de séjour so he checked it and waved me through.

Finally Victor Hugo came around the corner from the inner harbour once the gates were opened and we could all pile on board.

Yes, that’s right. I’m off to St Helier. Living here all these years and never been once. Only three more sailings to go this year after this one but I can’t make any of them for a variety of reasons and who knows what next year might bring? So it’s now or never.

Not to mention the fact that I’ve been having all these reminders about my Arctic adventures just recently so I’ve really been hearing the call of the ocean and missing the touch of the salt spray on my lips.

We all had to sit inside and buckle up while the captain manoeuvred. Victor Hugo is a high-speed craft and walking about on board is not for the faint-hearted so it’s discouraged.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall several weeks ago that we saw Victor Hugo loitering around for quite some time off the end of the headland pointing towards Jersey. She did it again this morning. The cynic inside me suggested that now that they have rowed her out of the harbour they need to wind up the elastic band.

Once we were ready we shot off towards Jersey. I was given permission to go up to the upper deck and go outside. I was told that I had to remain seated and there was a large rubber collision buoy tied by the rails which made a comfortable seat.

And that reminds me. You might have to wait a while for the photos because there’s not much short of 100 that I took today and they all need editing.

It seemed to take quite a while to arrive at St Helier (not incidentally, pronounced as “Hell ‘ere”) and regrettably my seat was on the wrong side of the boat to photograph our arrival. But when the crewmen began to prepare for docking and were otherwise engaged I nipped over to the other side of the boar for a few photos.

There was another passenger on board who had difficulty walking so we helped each other to immigration. It seems to be miles to the terminal where immigration was quite painless.

From there it’s quite a long walk into the town and I wasn’t up to much of it but there’s a pop-up café that serves vegan food on the quayside where the pleasure boats tie up so I made for there. No snacks though – it was all main meals so I had a coffee and ate my crackers. I always buy packets of those and these are my emergency supplies when I’m travelling.

With no cash on me I headed to the bank where I drew out some money. Regrettably though the notes were endorsed “Bank of Jersey” so I’m going to be pretty limited as to where I can spend them.

The town centre of St Helier is actually quite nice. I did a recce of interesting sites and came across a healthfood shop that had inter alia “Old-time” vegan sausages. 16 of them went into my backpack and they’ll be in the freezer when I return home.

There were also some packs of hot-cross buns in one of the supermarkets there so I bought a pack of those for lunch.

An extremely long walk took me back into the town centre via the ferry terminal (I must learn to read the stuff that’s given to me) and outside the bus station waited for the “Vintage Bus” that was going to take me on my “Vintage Tour” of the eastern end of the island.

And you’ve no idea how disappointed I was when a single-decker Bristol LH turned up. And what does that make me when I was actually 21 years old when the “Vintage Bus” was built? That is really what I call “depressing”. and even more so when I found out that the bus was actually first registered as new when I was 23.

It was a beautiful drive out to St Catherine’s Pier at the extreme north-east of the island where we stopped for a look around. This pier and its installations were part of what the British Government hoped would be a good port for the Royal Navy but it took so long to build that steam had given way to coal and warships had evolved so much that there wasn’t enough draught in the harbour for the new generation of warships so it was abandoned.

We headed back down south along the coast and stopped for another break at Gorey, a beautiful little place where there’s a magnificent view of Mount Orgueil Castle

Back in town I bought an energy drink and went to sit down to eat some of my hot cross buns and have a drink. Following which I went off for a wander around the old harbour looking at what was happening there.

Before going back to the boat I went to one of the supermarkets. On my travels I’d seen some tins of real baked beans. British baked beans taste like no others in the World and having had a diet of European and North American ones for years and now that I have some real sausages, I put four tins of beans in my backpack as well. And if I could have carried them I would have had four more.

The walk back to the ferry terminal was agony. I was aching just about everywhere so it was a long, slow walk. And it was a good job that I decided to leave myself plenty of time because by now quite a wind was blowing and the sea was roughing up.

We left 20 minutes early straight into the wind. They let me upstairs and outside quite early on so I sat on the buoy and filmed our departure, and then took plenty of photos on the way back. I was joined by a young boy at some point who was quite interested in the geography and history of the area so we had quite a chat.

Standing up to go back inside as we pulled into port, this was where I had my fall and that was that, right in front of the President of the company that is now operating the line. A couple of crew members came, picked me up and sat me in a seat while we tied up.

Climbing the 30 steps up to the passport control was agonising, really agonising. Luckily it was the same passport control officer on duty so I gave him my carte de séjour along with my passport and that kept him happy.

As for the walk back here, I don’t really want to talk about it. I don’t think that I’ve ever been in so much difficulty. Climbing the stairs was even worse. Back here I collapsed into my chair and that was that until bedtime.

During the night though I’d travelled miles and it took me a while to transcribe all of the notes. I started off skiing. Things were just totally confusing. I had a bag of chips and some coffee etc. You had to enter this house by the 1st floor window. That was how the ski slope started. You had to climb up there and then ski down and keep on doing that all the time. I was in this queue with my bag of chips and my coffee but there were no ladders going up to the 1st floor windows. You had to lift yourself up with your arms onto a kind of ledge, push yourself up and in. I couldn’t do that, not in my state of health and with my chips and coffee etc. In the end the woman behind me gave me a leg up. Everyone was moaning because they all thought that I was pushing in the queue. By the time that I was up there on top everyone had gone there from behind. I sat down with my ships and coffee. a woman came clambering in through the window. We made some kind of witty remark about what i’d been up to in that queue. I mentioned that my coffee was going cold. She said that there was another coffee. Someone climbed in through the window behind her so she asked him if he had a coffee for me, but he didn’t. Then I couldn’t find my chips (“maybe I’d had them” I mused later). I could find loads of newspaper but the actual piece of newspaper with the chips wrapped in, I couldn’t find that at all. My idea to sit down and have a quiet 15 minutes to eat my chips and drink my coffee looked as if is was totally wasted

There was a drugs gang based in Nantwich that had been supplying drugs throughout Europe. This was at the time that the political changes were taking place in the late 80s and early 90s. There were all these upheavals happening and they were taking advantage of it to flood the world with the drugs from the Congo. Eventually they were caught. They were in Court and the judge was describing them as totally vile and evil human beings who’d brought death and misery to millions”. It looked very much to me as if he was leading up to a penalty of life imprisonment.

Later on I’d been round to someone’s house as a teenager. We’d been hanging out together. His mother didn’t look very happy at all. I had the impression that she’d been having arguments with the in-laws. Someone had died and the in-laws were bringing themselves much further forward in their lives and making it a misery for everyone else as they did things their way. I think that this woman had had some flak. She asked us if we’d like a coffee. We replied “yes” so she disappeared. We carried on doing some stuff and then decided that we’d go and play Scalextric upstairs in the bedroom so he’d go and tell his mother. I thought “yes, we’ll have these coffees as well because it’s been taking ages”. He went into the kitchen and there was his mother sitting on a chair really red-faced looking as if she’d been crying. I went over and was about to ask her what was the matter when I noticed a gesture from this boy to say nothing so I said nothing. He simply explained to his mother what we were doing. We went upstairs to his room. The 1st thing was to find my headphones that someone else had picked up and was wearing instead of theirs. I had to sort my headphones out and generally organise myself for this game of Scalextric but it was this guy’s mother who was worrying me.

And then I had to go to work so I decided that I’d take the Melody again. It was rather later than usual so I set off. I noticed that I didn’t have very much fuel so I went towards Stoke on Trent and turned off down a side road that went down a steep hill and back up the other side into a town where I could fuel up. I was actually pedalling it at this point. I came to the town and stopped at a road junction. Some woman who ran a corner shop said that someone was asking after me which I thought was strange because who knows that I’m coming this way and how would she know me anyway?. I asked what time and she replied “about 06:53”. I went and found a petrol station and fuelled up. Someone was there with an enormous cat in a cage. They’d taken the trap off the cage so you could see inside it. Everyone wanted to stroke it but the owner was very possessive of it and wouldn’t allow people to stroke it. We all said that it was a really wonderful cat. That cheered him up a little.

That dream where I was on my bike, I ended up with a young Chinese girl. I’d been in Crewe and was trying to find a bus back home. I couldn’t work out where the bus stop was and I couldn’t out the bus times so I just waited. I saw a bus arrive that was going back to my house so I shouted at it. he pulled up about 100 yards down the road. I had to run. It was really crowded but I fought my way on. The Chinese girl was on there. We started to chat and ended up having quite a flirt about. It was quite obvious that we were a couple. She complained that I hadn’t had a shower which was quite right. Anyway she’d had a lot of financial problems spending largely on her credit card. She’d had to sell her house and use the equity to pay off her credit card. I talked to her about that but she didn’t seem in the least embarrassed or anything. In the end it was quite later, almost 02:00 when we pulled up in the town where we had to alight. She went skipping off to the tram and I had al ths stuff to carry. I dropped half of it so I picked it up and we went outside. She was telling me about a shop there that had a couple of kittens. Then we set off to walk the rest of the way home

And finally I was back on that tram, with an English girl this time. She had to reassemble her glasses again because they came apart and she put them in her glasses case. We boarded the tram but there were only 4 or 5 of us on there and she wouldn’t come and sit by me or sit on my knee or something. We began to talk to the driver who was a professional boxer. He was to have a fight on the Monday night and if he were to win it he might even go through the entire season undefeated. This tram rattled in towards the city centre to pick up everyone else and the alarm went off.

It’s no wonder that I was exhausted after all of that. But I’m more interested in seeing how I feel tomorrow.

Right now though I’m off to bed and there will be no alarm in the morning. I’ll sleep until I wake, and then I’ll come back at some point during the day tomorrow to tell you all of my story.

“I am hurt but I am not slain, I’ll lay me down and bleed a while, and then I’ll rise and fight again” as said Sir Andrew Barton, according to one of the Child Ballads.

The photos will follow later.

Thursday 28th April 2022 – I’M NOT SURE …

yacht baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo April 2022… what happened today but I’ve been feeling much better than i have done for the last few days.

And so while you admire a handful of photos of all of the maritime traffic that was out and about this afternoon while I was on my post-prandial perambulation around the perimeter of the Pointe du Roc, I’ll tell you all about it.

Even the bit about not only not crashing out during the day but not actually feeling as if I needed to, and isn’t that some kind of progress from the way that things have been just recently?

ch517520 yann frederic baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo April 2022Mind you, it was quite a turbulent night, as you can tell from thz amount of stuff that was on the dictaphone.

And after the nurse had been (because I had a blood test this morning) and I’d taken my medication I sat down to transcribe everything.

I was looking at apartments and houses last night. There was some kind of robot thing that went through them while I was looking at them, and put them up to let. It seemed that every time I wanted to buy a place it was miraculously transformed into a letting property. The noise that this robot thing made when it roamed through these houses and apartments was really annoying. I couldn’t find a single property to buy without being overwhelmed by this. When I tried to sell a place, again I was overwhelmed by this kind-of robot thing that came along. It was the same with water. I couldn’t have water at the right temperature. It was either too hot or too cold even when there were two different sets of mixing taps draining into a sink. I couldn’t get the water temperature to be right. This thing with these apartments was really stressful in this dream.

trawlers baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo April 2022Then we were back on that ship yet again … “which ship?” – ed … but in an aeroplane now. The little girl and 2 other people on board had hi-jacked it and were preparing to sail off somewhere peaceful where they didn’t have to worry about being kidnapped again

Back in that dream yet again and there were Portuguese waiting down the road for that girl, to ambush her. This brought me on to I was actually at someone’s house when someone pulled up outside. The guy looked out of the window and said “Oh God it’s him”. I asked what had happened. he said that he had picked up someone at the docks when he’d come back over from Europe and was taking them home. When they arrived at a motorway interchange this guy had proposed going one way and the other guy proposed going a different wayto reach where they were going. This had led to something of quite a dispute between the 2 of them, quite a bit of bad feeling. When they met again outside this bungalow they explained the situation. I said that when one is used to going a certain way for 15 years and someone comes along and says to go another way it’s always something of a challenge. They gradually eased the situation between the 2 of them.

trawlers yacht le loup baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo April 2022Finally; we were in North America somewhere. We were standing by this railway line watching these 2 girls running across some land and ended up running to this railway line. Whoever it was who was with me we both looked at these girls but we didn’t recognise them at all. We couldn’t think of why they would want to come to this railway line especially in the fashion that they had done running flat out like that.

So as you can see, the fact that I went the whole day without being tired is something of a miracle.

Another task that I needed to do today was to book my appointment with this Sports Therapist person. So I rang them up and that’s arranged for Thursday 12th May. a moment of destiny amongst so many others, one might say.

trawlers port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo April 2022What I have been doing for some (and by no means all) of the day is to do what I should have done a while ago and updated the notes from when I was in Leuven and Kôln.

It completely slipped my mind that they needed editing and so I made a start. And I actually completed one day before I ground to a halt again.

That was because I had been set another task, presumably to prove that I am worthy, as AS THE OLD SAYING GOES. I need to produce an entertaining itit – init – itinin – initit – timetable for the weekend, seeing as I’m the only one who knows where I’m going (and even that is doubtful).

Anyway, that is all done and dusted now – three days of riotous fun and high living – I don’t think. But there are some hot cross buns going spare if I behave myself, but really there’s little chance of that, isn’t there? Especially considering who else might (if I’m lucky) be there.

There were the usual breaks for breakfast, coffee and lunch. And then, of course, the walk around the headland to which I referred earlier.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo April 2022

And first of all, as usual, is the wander across the car park to look down over the wall to see what was happening down below on the beach.

And as the weather was so nice and there were crowds of people and parked cars all over the place, I expected the beach to be quite busy. And I was right too. There were probably a couple of dozen people down there.

There was quite a bit of beach as well. The tide is on its way in though so it won’t be like that for much longer. You probably gathered that from the crowds of fishing boats loitering around just outside the harbour waiting for the gates to open.

people on bench cabanon vauban pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo April 2022As I said, there were hordes of people milling around on the paths this afternoon. It was very hard to keep some kind of distance, even more so as I seemed to be the only person out there wearing a mask.

There were a couple of people down there on the bench by the cabanon vauban watching the spectacle going on out at sea because it’s been a long time since I’ve seen so many boats out there waiting for things to happen.

So while they were waiting for things to happen I headed off down the path on the other side of the headland to see what’s happening there – if the multitudes of people would let me pass by.

ch827132 valeque le roc a la mauve 3 chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo April 2022When I arrived at the viewpoint overlooking the chantier naval I noticed that there’s a new boat in there.

Le Roc A LA Mauve III looks as if she’s put down roots. She’s still there after all this time. But down there with her is another shell-fishing boat.

She’s carrying registration number CH857132 and that’s not in my list of boats so she must also be new to the area. Luckily I can see what I think might be her name and she may well be called Valeque.

Lots of boats in the outer harbour today as you have seen but it’s impossible to say who they are at this range.

normandy warrior port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo April 2022But we all know who this is, moored up at the loading bay in the inner harbour.

She’s one of two boats, and the fact that she doesn’t have that raised deck at the stern behind the bridge tells us that she is in fact Normandy Warrior, not Normandy Trader.

She must be in port to pick up the swimming pool that’s been on the quayside for a couple of days.

And the company that owns these two freighters is extremely busy. They are recruiting additional sea-going staff and there’s an advert doing the rounds. If only I had a mariner’s watch-keeping certificate I would be home and … errr … well, certainly not dry.

powered hang glider place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo April 2022Before I went inside though I was overflown by the little red powered hang-glider thing or whatever it’s called.

It was on its way back from a trip down to Mont St Michel when it flew past me overhead. Luckily it didn’t have the same effect as the seagull did yesterday morning.

Back here I finished off my itinerary for the weekend and then went to make tea.

That sweet potato made lovely chips in the air fryer and I’ll do that again. Someone mentioned seasoning so I added a pinch of chili powder, a pinch of garlic salt and a generous twist of freshly-ground black pepper and that certainly added something to the mix. I’ll do that again too.

So now I’m off to bed. I have an 06:00 start in the morning, to which I am not looking forward at all. But as it’s the most important weeked for a good many years with a very crucial meeting, I have to do it.

What I’ll have to do is to nip out surreptitiously and hope that the butterflies in my stomach don’t notice.

Not that it’ll make much difference because if things run according to form and past history, I’ll make a mess of it. But nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Friday 25th February 2022 – REGULAR READERS OF …

girl taking photos hang glider pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022… of this rubbish will recall that one of the recurring themes that run though these pages is photos of people taking photos.

And sure enough, we had a couple of those today. We also had the first Bird-Man of Alcatraz this year too today but his Nazgul came to grief on the car park at the back of the lighthouse at the Pointe du Roc.

There was a young girl taking a photo of our bird-man packing up his troubles in his old kit bag and so I joined in the fun by taking a photograph of the girl taking a photograph.

And then, like the KNIGHTS OF KING ARTHUR we went our separate ways.

cabanon vauban people on bench pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022My journey didn’t take me very far before I came once more to a stop.

This afternoon there were some people down there by the bench at the cabanon vauban and one of them was taking a couple of photos.

Even at this distance I could take a photo of what she was doing so that I could add it to my collection of photographs of people taking photographs.

However, as usual, I’m running ahead of myself here. Let’s go back and start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.

storm waves port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022While you admire a few photos of the huge rollers coming in and colliding with the sea wall, I’m going to start today’s story even before the very beginning.

In fact, last night, I couldn’t go to sleep. In the end I ended up watching a film on the internet while I was waiting for sleep to come and it was at about 01:30 when I finally staggered into bed.

That doesn’t bode well for a 07:30 start but if we turn the clock back a year or two, I was going to bed at that time and arising at 06:00 without the least problem. And then going out for a run around the town.

Ohhh! How things have changed!

storm waves port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022There wasn’t a great deal of time to go off on much of a nocturnal ramble, but I did my best.

Compared to the events of the last few nights; what happened last night was rather tame. Nevertheless, there was a very enigmatic entry on the dictaphone.

It went “I wish that I knew more about that dark-haired girl who came to visit me last night but that’s all there was on the dictaphone so I’ve no idea at all about anything relating to this”.

And I was dead right too. I wish that I did know more about it as well because it’s the kind of thing that must have been extremely interesting. I seem to be meeting an awful lot of unidentified young ladies just recently and it’s extremely frustrating to say the least when I can’t recall who they are or what we did.

storm waves port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022Later on I was with Nerina again last night. We were doing something at a bungalow on the Poets Estate near Coleridge Way around there. I’d been working on a car. I’d put my things away but when I went back there were still some bits and pieces lying around so I picked them up and put them in my pocket. Then I went to look at the car. The seat adjuster had broken – the circlip that holds it in place had come off. I made a mental note to do something about that when I was in a place where I could fix it. Then we drove to Nerina’s – it was about 21:45. Nerina’s mother said “oh, you’re early. She had tea ready which, for me, was vegan sausages. We had our meal then I was going to show Nerina this seat attachment thing because if she will be going out in the car in the morning she’ll need to know about this so she’ll know what to expect and she’ll know how to fix it. I couldn’t find a circlip to hold it in position. I was singing RIDING THE WAVES by Steve Harley all the time and I don’t know why and even Nerina made a mention of it during the dream.

And how I wish that I could sing it as well as I could 30 years ago

What I’ve been doing all day today is dealing with the arrears on the dictaphone that hadn’t been transcribed. I’ve no idea where I found all of the energy to do it but I did it all the same and now it’s finished.

Surprisingly, of the 40-odd sound-files that I had to transcribe, TOTGA and Zero only put in a very minimal appearance or two but we haven’t seen anything of Castor for a while and that is depressing me.

But anyway, all I need to do now is to find an hour or two over the weekend and update the relevant journal entries.

We had the usual breaks during the course of the day, a coffee or a hot blackcurrant here and there, a slice of my wonderful, delicious coffee cake and then lunch of course.

Another couple of things that I needed to do was to telephone the doctor about another appointment. I need more Aranesp for my fortnightly injections.

And then I had to write out a recipe. A while ago I’d promised my friend in Munich a copy of my vegan pie recipe but I had kept on forgetting. But the photo of my pie the other day reminded me.

low loader place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022There was a lot of noise going on outside during the afternoon, heavy machinery and so on, so I wondered what I was going to see when I went outside.

Right outside my front door was an articulated tractor unit with a low-loader trailer attached thereto. And running around the area was a large tractor-type JCB thing with a pair of fork loaders on the front.

What was strange about this, and I didn’t notice until afterwards otherwise I would have taken a photo of it, was that the driver of the JCB thing was a young woman.

That is surely the first time that I have ever seen someone of the female sex driving a machine like that.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022And so as usual I wandered off down to the end of the car park to see what was happening down on the beach.

The tide was well in now so there wasn’t much beach to be on. But nevertheless there were plenty of people down there wandering around or sitting on the rocks as you can see at the bottom of the photo.

There was even a young girl down there in pink wellingtons actually going out into the water and that was rather courageous of her. I can’t see what she and, presumably, her father were doing down there. They had no equipment for the pèche à pied and in any case the tide is too far up for that.

buoy baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022Every now and again we notice a certain type of yellow buoy out there in the bay in between Granville and St Martin.

Today we have another one of them, and I wish that I knew what it was doing and what was its significance. It’s not a mooring buoy and it doesn’t look like a typical lobster pot marker buoy to me.

There were several seagulls flying around it and so I was wondering whether we might be in for a romantic love story. After all, the ocean is the place where buoy meets gull.

Yes, I’ll get my coat.

sea pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022As usual I also had a good look around out at sea to see what was happening there.

Another thing that regular readers of this rubbish will recall is the different layers of water that coexist side-by-side in the bay and the mystery that it causes.

What we have here today is a kind-of ripple effect in the water. The last time that I saw something like this was POINT PELÉE, the southernmost point of mainland Canada when I was there with Katherine in 2010.

What was happening there was that we had a river flow heading to the east and a wind-blown flow heading west. However here today, just for a change there wasn’t anything like enough wind for a similar phenomenon today.

There were crowds of people milling around this afternoon as you might have seen in some of the previous photos. It was a nice day and it had certainly brought out the crowds.

The storm and the waves had subsided considerably since yesterday but coming into the Baie de Mont St Michel every now and again were some very heavy rollers. You saw a couple of them breaking on the harbour wall in the photos right at the beginning.

courrier des iles chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022In the chantier naval we have a new occupier over at the back of the yard. She’s Courrier des Iles, one of the charter hire boats that operate out of the port.

Not that I know too much about the operation of the smaller boats that ply for hire but the larger ones certainly have to have an annual inspection before they can carry fare-paying passengers and so if that’s the case with her, she’s probably having an overhaul to prepare her for the forthcoming season.

Meanwhile, over on the other side of the yard, Tiberiade, Le Roc à le Mauve III and the two yachts are still in there receiving attention.

cable laying rue st jean Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo February 2022At the rear of the apartment I found out what was going on with all of this machinery.

They are laying some cable in the underground conduit and although you can’t see it in this photo, the cable reel is whizzing around. It’s on a stand of course, and there is someone somewhere else in the neighbourhood pulling on the end of the cable to whizz it through the conduit.

Back here I had a coffee and came back in here to carry on with the dictaphone notes and eventually I finished them

Tea tonight was a vegan burger with pasta and veg in tomato sauce and it was quite a delicious, if quick tea.

So now I’m off to bed. I’m going shopping tomorrow so I need to be fit. I don’t need much but we shall see what the shops come up with.

Tuesday 5th October 2021 – I’VE HAD A …

… very strange communication today.

People have given up asking me about my family because we weren’t really a family at all – just a collection of strangers living under the same roof, a 20th Century version of the “Harleian Miscellany”. and as soon as we were able to do so, we did our imitation of the KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE and each went our separate ways.

Some event that took place several months ago seems to have focused some minds, so it seems, and today I had an e-mail from someone who last spoke to me over 20 years ago and never replied to a couple of mails that I sent him afterwards.

Now, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I’m slowly dying of an incurable disease and I have no reason to suppose that “others” are unaware of this.

However, this mail spared us all the usual niceties about “how are you?”, “sorry to hear of your illness”, “is there anything that we can do to help you?” but it cut straight to the crux of the matter.

Yes, someone has found out that I have some things that they would like and the mail went “How are you making available ************ to the wider family? Could you include me in your circulation of such?”.

Seeing that no-one in “the wider family”, apart from my niece in Canada, has spoken to me in over 20 years, my reply was, quite naturally, “no-one in “the wider family” has ever asked me for it”.

Yes, because I have something that someone else wants, I’ve suddenly become popular.

Not that the lack of courtesy, politeness and concern ever bothered me – I’ve long-since given up expecting any of that. I simply admired the brass neck of it all

But anyway, returning to our moutons, as they say around here, as I have said before … “on many occasions” – ed … there isn’t really much point in going to bed early if I don’t go to sleep.

Last night, I was still tossing and turning in my bed long after 01:00 and so consequently even though I was lying in until 07:30, I was still half-dead when I crawled out of my bed when the alarm went off.

Much of the morning was spent hunting unsuccessfully for my notes from my Welsh lesson from last week, and it wasn’t until I’d written them out again that I finally found them.

And while I was reviewing the notes I … errr … closed my eyes for 10 minutes.

Armed with my coffee and one of my delicious fruit buns (and they really are delicious too) I went for my lesson. 150 minutes passed fairly quickly and it also passed quite well. Being tired was something of a drag but at least I didn’t fall asleep.

After my lunch, the first thing that I did was to book my stay in the hospital.

Surprisingly, all of the early TGVs were fully booked and I’ve ended up taking the 08:43 next Saturday from Brussels to Paris, and then I’m breaking new ground by going home via Caen. I’ve never been that way on a train before.

waves baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021By now it was time for me to go for my post-prandial perambulation around the Pointe so I headed off as usual across the car park.

It was a case of hanging onto my hat, and eventually taking it off and stuffing it in my pocket because there was a totally wild and wicked wind blowing around out there this afternoon.

Just one look at the whitecaps on the waves is enough to tell you all that you need to know. It was one of the wildest seas that we have had just recently, with the blowing round today from the north-east for a change.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021having made a note of that I went to look over the wall down onto the beach.

And to my surprise, there were quite a few people down there on the bsach this afternoon, despite the wind. Armed with buckets and spades, you might be forgiven for thinking that they are building sandcastles, but in fact they are scavenging for seafood amongst the rocks.

Into the teeth of the gale struggled Yours Truly, headig off on my walk along the path.

There was only me out there, which was no surprise. The wind really was taking away my breath and I had quite a struggle along the path.

le loup waves baie de mont st michel granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021When I reached the lawn by the lighthouse, just like Bob Dylan, I didn’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

The sea was quite wild in the Baie de Mont St Michel this afternoon and Le Loup, the marker light on the rock just by the harbour entrance, was being battered by the waves.

No cars on the car park, of course. There wasn’t anyone around at all.

You’ll notice the upright pole with the sign thereupon, just to the right of centre. They installed that a couple of years ago and laid a little path from the car park so that people could approach it. It took 2 workmen about a week to lay the path.

A year or so later, a few more workmen came past and dug up the path that they had laid, and laid the one that you see that leads up to the Monument to the Resistance Fighters.

That first path was a waste of time, effort and money, wasn’t it?

cherie d'amour fishing boat baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021My walk takes me down the path and across the car park to the end of the headland

No-one on the bench by the Cabanon Vauban, as you might expect in this weather, but there were other forms of entertainment out there. A couple of fishing boats, one of which may well beCherie d’Amour, were battling with the waves out there in the bay.

And as I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … my hat comes off to all of those in peril on the sea working in weather like this.

flags boulevard vaufleury Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021The wind was far too strong for me to stay there for long, so I moved off down the path on the other side

The wind here was, for a change, just as wicked and it seems to have been wreaking havoc with the flags on the poles at the car park at the Boulevard Vaufleury.

The European Union flag has already gone and the French national flag is about to follow it, by the looks of things. The flags of Normandy and of the town also seem to have been taking quite a battering as well

What will remain of them tomorrow?

chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021Now that the chantier naval is empty (apart from the dredger of course) they have been tidying up.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that yesterday we saw a street cleaning machine down there hoovering up the debris. They have also put up the blocks on which they drop the ships, so does that mean that we might not be expecting any more boats in there in the near future?

However I’ve been quite wrong in the past about my predictions for boats down there, so I’m going to say nothing. I’ll just carry on with my walk down the path.

tubes in water port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021Something else that regular readers of this rubbish will recall is that for the past couple of weeks there have been a pile of pipes and other equipment on the quayside.

Today, those pipes have moved, and some of them now seem to be in the water in the inner harbour. The rest are on the quayside looking as if they are about to take to the water.

It still defeats me exactly what the plan is for all of those, but I suppose that it will become more clear as time goes on.

Back here I had my coffee and then turned my attention to the dictaphone.

I was having a chat with my Scottish friend last night about loneliness, of all things. She was saying that she had a girl of 14 whom she took away and it taught her about relationships with other people, that kind of thing, and stopped her being lonely. She was thinking about becoming a Brownie leader. I explained that I lived on my own little world and occasionally came out to interact with other people but mostly, I was doing fine as I was. This discussion went on for ages but I can’t remember much.

There was some stuff from some previous days on there too so they have all been transcribed and are now on line in the relevant places.

Tea tonight was taco rolls with the left-over stuffing from yesterday and it was delicious.

And now I’m off to bed, in the hope that I can have a good night’s sleep instead of what I went through last night. It’s high time that I had a good night.

Saturday 2nd January – I MANAGED TO …

… beat the third alarm out of bed this morning.

Mind you, I have to admit that I cheated somewhat. Not having gone to bed until late and needing to be on form, I reset the alarms to start at 08:00 instead of 06:00. I reckoned that that was a reasonable compromise, what with one thing and another.

First thing that I did was to have a listen to the dictaphone to see if I’d been anywhere during the night. In fact I’d been in Shavington but it quickly transformed itself into Crewe. There was a fire in the outskirts and it was slowly heading into town. We had things to do, we had to sit down there and I wanted to watch a football match or listen to one on the radio. We were making our way into this big building but it was clear that the flames were starting to get worse and I noticed in the end that I was the only one in there. Then someone else came round, a woman with a few things . I had a feeling that if I stopped she would stop too and that was going to be a bit silly so I explained to her about how dangerous the fire was going to be. In the end we went outside and there were a few people outside co-ordinating rescue efforts. One of the guys from the radio was in charge. We stood and watched for a couple of minutes then slowly picked up our things and moved away as we heard that the fire had now reached the outskirts of Crewe round Davenport Avenue and Nantwich Road. We moved away and I had the satisfaction in seeing that I was the last one to gather up my stuff and move away and I checked to make sure that everything was clear before we did so. It reminded me of a General and his troops retreating and how the General ought to be the last and making sure that the way was clear in order to do so just like in the Army.

In connection with the fire, later on in the night 3 objects came up for auction. There was a soldier’s compass, a soldier’s badge and a 3rd thing that I can’t remember what it was. I remember thinking that these would have come in handy if we had been in the fire and these were available. This was where the fire dream came in at this point just here and now and we found ourselves back in Shavington on the corner between Edwards Avenue and Edwards Close with this burnt and blackened paper shredded and flying around.

The next task was the Welsh homework. No matter what, I have to keep up to date with that. It didn’t take me all that long although it’s bcoming more and more complicated and took quite some research. Interestingly, we aren’t now being asked to asnwer questions, we are being asked to come up with questions to ask.

Afer a shower, I made some sandwiches and then, gathering them up, I headed off to the Railway Station.

sncb am96 558 gare de leuven station belgium Eric HallWhile I was waiting for my train to Brussels I was eating my sandwiches on the platform. And hence I was taken completely by surprise when the train came in early.

Our train today is one of the strange AM96 multiple units. When one trainset is coupled to another the rubber bellows make a perfect seal, and the drivers’ cabs at the join tilt round 90° so that passengers can walk from one trainset to another.

Our train pulled into Brussels Central Station bang on time, and walking up the steps I met my friend Esi.

Esi and I studied together and University when we both lived in Brussels years ago but she went back to Wales and I went on to France after we graduated. We’ve met up a couple of times since then when our paths have crossed in Brussels but earlier last year when Brexit became a reality she moved back to Belgium to cement her European rights.

The two of us went for a walk around the park opposite the Royal Palace where we chatted about our different adventures since we last met, and then went off to the Belvue Museum in the Place du Palais to meet one of her friends and then for a walk around the museum.

old cars fn 4 cylinder motorcycle belvue museum place du palais brussels belgium Eric HallThe museum is a fascinating place to visit. It’s all about the history of the country of Belgium since it won its independence in 1830.

There was plenty to see in there and I could have spent a lot longer in there than our alloted time slot. But for me, the pride of the place was this gorgeous FN 4. It’s the world’s first 4-cylinder in-line motorbike – block 4s and V4s had been made previously – and was made between 1905 and 1914.

This is a later one rather than an earlier one – you can tell that by the rear brake. This is a drum brake whereas the earlier ones had rim brakes rather like a pushbike.

Interestingly, to start it up, you had to pedal it until the engine fired up. No kickstart.

rue royale brussels belgium Eric HallOne of the more interesting things to see is the view from out of one of the windows.

This view is right up the Rue Royale, past the park where we walked just now, all the way past the old Jardin Botanique and all the way down to the Église Royale Sainte-Marie de Schaerbeek, one of the most beautiful buildings in the city but now sadly delapidated and more-or-less abandoned despite the fact that it was renovated 30 years ago.

After the museum, Esi had a few things to do so the three of us walked around the city running errands. We stopped for a coffee in the Central Station and then like the Knights of the Round Table, we went our separate ways.

sncb am08 08194 gare de leuven station belgium Eric HallAs regular readers of this rubbish will recall, there are 4 expresses every hour from Brussels to Leuven. However they are all bunched pretty much together and then there’s a long gap.

There is however a semi-urban stopping train that runs across the Metropolitan area and terminates at Leuven. We’ve caught it a few times when we went to watch the football at Tubize and one of them pulled into Central Station just at the right moment. It’s one of the modern class AM08 multiple units that was just coming into service as I left the city.

When it pulled up in the station we all piled out and I headed off back home to my digs, having first stopped to take a photo of the train

christmas lights bondgenotenlaan leuven belgium Eric HallWell, in actual fact, I didn’t head off hiome. I had a few things to do first.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that the other evening when I was wandering around the city in the dark, I took a photo of the Bondgenotenlaan from the Rector de Somerplein looking down to the railway station. Tonight, seeing as I was standing outside the railway station in the Martelarenplein, I could take a photo of the Bondgenotenlaan looking back down to where I was the other night.

Right down the far end of the street we can see the lights of the Stadhuis – the Town Hall – in the Grote Markt.

christmas lights tiensevest leuven belgium Eric HallWhile I was here in the Martelarenplein I had a good look around the neighbourhood to see what else I could see.

Where I’m standing now is on an overbridge that crosses the ring road – the Tiensevest – that is emerging from a tunnel underground. It’s one of the main throroughfares of the city with the railway station to my left and so just the kind fo place that you would expect to be brightly illuminated to welcome visitors to the city, but once again, it’s quite depressingly banal.

All in all, I’m rather disappointed with the Christmas decorations this year, not just in leuven but in just about everywhere that I have visited.

gare de leuven railway station belgium Eric HallTurning round further to my left there was a view between the buildings to the eastern end of the train shed of the station.

Behind it, there’s one of the hotels in the vicinity of the station and then a couple of office blocks. This is the area where it all happens.

Back at my little room it was teatime so I made a plate of pasta and vegetables and chick peas with tomato sauce. But just as I was sitting down to start my notes, Rosemary rang me up for a chat and we ended up being on the phone together for 1 hour and 38 minutes.

There was now some packing to do and then I have to go to bed as son as I can because I have to get up at 05:00 and you know how I feel about that these days.

As for my notes, they’ll have to wait until tomorrow.

Saturday 12th October 2019 – IT’S THE FIRST …

… day of the Bank Holiday today and I have celebrated it by doing absolutely nothing at all.

And that is just as well because I had a horrible night last night. Lying in bed watching the clock go round and round as I tried – not very successfully – to go to sleep.

Yet sleep I must have done at one point as I awoke at 05:45 without the benefit of an alarm. Raining again, and there’s the metal roof of a trailer right underneath my bedroom window.

The alarms went off as usual but quite frankly I couldn’t have cared less about them. I went back down the bed. But Rosemary rand me up at about 08:00 and I spent a pleasant hour or so talking to her. That fired me up to take my medication and to go and make myself a coffee.

Liz was on line too so we had a chat on the internet too – a chat that went on in a kind of desultory fashion all throughout the day. And that included the news that Strawberry Moose will be going on another journey not long after he returns home.

Having had my coffee I was in no real mood for breakfast so I did without. And my fast, such as it was, went on until about 15:00 when I made myself some toast.

In between the coffee and toast I had been sorting out all of my stuff, throwing some stuff away, sticking some more in Strider and taking some stuff out of Strider to take home with me. I found a lot of stuff that was missing but to my great dismay, I can’t find my notebook now.

I’ve already lost one in my jacket in Calgary and to lose a second will be a disaster. So if you gave me your e-mail address on The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour, then send it to me again using the comments link on the blog.

I shan’t publish the information, but at least I’ll have it for when I return home and can sort out the photos that I’ve promised you.

Once I’d tidied up and had my toast I spent a few hours playing on the bass. Working out a few more bass lines, in particular to a few tracks by Counting Crows off their Recovering The Satellites album. That, by the way, is another album that is guaranteed to reduce me into a state of depression.

A couple of the lyrics are quite meaningful (well, they all are, but in different ways). One in particular reminds me of an incredibly lengthy chat that I had with someone five or six weeks ago, quite late one night
Gonna get back to basics
Guess I’ll start it up again
I’m fallin’ from the ceiling
You’re falling from the sky now and then
Maybe you were shot down in pieces
Maybe I slipped in between
But we were gonna be the wildest
The Wildest
The Wildest
People they ever hoped to see
Just you and me

But as Peter Townsend would tell us, it’s all about Time and Chance, isn’t it?

Very similar to when I used to be repairing my old farmhouse, I reckon. When I had the time I didn’t have the money. And when I had the money I didn’t have the time.

Zoe came into my room later, wondering why I wasn’t coming out to be sociable. I suppose that I ought to be more sociable than I am, so I told her that if she made me a coffee I would come out and drink it. So she did, and I did.

Rachel and I cooked tea tonight, stir-fry vegetables and rice in soy sauce with vegan spring rolls. Delicious it was too. There was some apple crumble left over from last weekend, but there isn’t now.

We all chatted for a while and then like The Knights Of The Round Table we all went our separate ways.

Now I’m back in my room, wondering what tonight is going to bring me. Sleep, I hope, if I’m lucky. I could do with a pile of that. But something extra would be nice too. And right now, I’m listening to Jackson Heights and their album King’s Progress, and in particular the track “Insomnia” where Lee Jackson sings
The whole world’s still sleeping
Kept warm by their dreams
Wrapped up in their loved ones
How peaceful it seems
Lay your head on the pillow
How weary it seems
You would give a small fortune
To get back in your dreams

Those are sentiments with which I concur whole-heartedly.

Sunday 14th July 2019 – THIS MORNING …

… we walked all the way from the harbour at Reykjavik right the way through the city and out the other side, and up the hill to the big new modern church that towers above the place.

When we eventually arrived there we were greeted by a burly man standing cross-armed blocking the doorway, with the air of “none shall pass” as in Monty Python and the Holy Grail
“Why not?” asked Our Hero
“Because there’s a Mass going on. And you won’t understand it either because it’s in Icelandic so come back in an hour!”

Yes, it’s Sunday of course and I had completely forgotten.

Last night I had had a terrible night’s (lack of) sleep, probably one of the worst that I have had for quite a while. In fact so much so that I found myself on one occasion dictating the same dream twice. I’m clearly losing my marbles – not that I had too many in the first place.

Despite all of my exertions I did actually make it up (just) before the first alarm and staggered once more out on deck to take a couple of photos of Reykjavik in the rain. because the weather has now broken.

We had an early breakfast and then because we aren’t amongst the hordes saying goodbye to the ship today we had an hour or so free time. I spent my hour or so in the horizontal position on the bed and enjoyed every minute of what I remembered about it. Which wasn’t much.

At 09:00 we went out across the road to the café in the Flea Market where we were assured of a good wi-fi connection. And a good wi-fi connection it was too and we spent quite some time checking up on things, including the latest chaos in the UK.

Later, Rosemary wanted to go shopping for some presents for her friends so we headed off into town, looking at a few shops on the way, in one of which she bought a few winter woollies. After all, Iceland is the place to come for those.

There was the church of course, as I mentioned earlier, and then a walk down to the waterfront and back along the shore to the ship for lunch.

Grabbing Strawberry Moose we made our way back into town after lunch. We had had to wait for a while to give the rainstorm time to die down, so we didn’t have as much time as we would have liked.

The flea market was now open so we had a look around, and Rosemary tried some dried cod. A few more shops and a few more presents, and a couple of photo opportunities for His Nibs.

By now the rain was coming down in torrents so we fled back to the ship. All of our new co-voyagers were waiting to board but we didn’t hang about. We just charged through them and up the gangway onto The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour.

First thing that I did was to dive into the shower, taking a handful of clothes in with me. I needed a good scrub up and I have to keep on top of the laundry for I have a long way to go.

And then we had all of the briefings that I have sat through on innumerable occasions followed by the mandatory lifeboat drill. And in the time that it took to organise the drill we would have all disappeared beneath the waves a good while ago had we really been in trouble.

For tea we made the acquaintance of a couple from Edinburgh in Scotland on their first voyage. The husband had visited Greenland many years ago so he’s in for a bit of a shock when he gets back there.

After tea we had a tea and a chat, but it’s an early start tomorrow so we decided to retire early.

And I can’t say that I’m sorry. The pace is now going to heat up considerably.

Monday 8th October 2018 – SO MUCH FOR …

… the alarm this morning!

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

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

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

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

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

And that wasn’t all the excitement either.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday 19th September 2018 – WE FINALLY STAGGERED IN …

… to Lester P Pearson Airport quite early – as in something like 02:20 or whatever. A far cry from our intended 20:00, wasn’t it? And then the interminable file through customs, immigration and baggage collection.

I was well on my last legs right now and so I was rather glad that no-one crossed my path.As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I don’t really become tired when I’ve had a very long day. Instead of tiredness it’s my irritability that increases and I’ve had some interesting and exciting encounters after a 36-hour working day.

At the Sheraton Gateway hotel, check-in was easy and I departed to my room. By now I’d gone beyond the threshold of tiredness and couldn’t sleep. It was 04:00 when I finally tucked myself up under the blankets and waited for dawn to come.

Sometime during the night I must have gone to sleep because the 08:00 alarm awoke me. The 08:08 and the 08:19 alarms also awoke me. I was having a bad morning.

Something like 09:30 when I hauled myself out of the stinking pit into the shower. And then we had the dramatic search for the clean clothes which I was convinced that I had put into my rucksack, but apparently not. In the end, the dirty clothes had to do.

Breakfast finished at 10:00 so I made it with 30 seconds to spare – only to be told that it wasn’t included in my booking and that I would have to pay extra. I dropped my coffee and orange juice as if I had been scalded and legged it quick.

And then had to leg it back equally quickly, for I had discovered that I had left my camera back at my pseudo-breakfast table.

I went off to Tim Horton’s instead and made contact with the rest of the world. A mere 91 messages on my social networking site awaiting my attention. I dealt with about 5 and discarded the rest.

The coffee, orange and bagels did their best to cheer me up, and so I went for a walk around to see the sights. And there I bumped into Aaron and Deanna doing the same. We had a little chat and then just like the Knights Of The Round Table, we went our separate ways.

Checking in the suitcase was reasonably straightforward. I could even fit a few more bits and pieces into it to make my rucksack more manoeuvrable. The “security” was interesting too, with a few more of these jobsworths who don’t have a clue about what they are doing, trying to make themselves look important.

Having bought bagels to eat for lunch, I was surprised to encounter a “Subway” inside the security area. I bagged a footlong vegetarian to eat, and I can save my bagels for later

Our ‘plane to Fredericton is a Bombardier Q400 R003 – a much-more modern version of the Dash-7 that we had to go from Yellowknife to Baffin Island. Clean and tidy and comfortable (although the leather on the seats was showing its age).

I forgot to note its registration number so if I can see it on the photo I can tell you all about it in due course.

The flight attendant had a weird sense of humour – “if you don’t like the on-board service, there are four emergency exits …”. That’s the kind of humour that I appreciate.

It was something of a shock to arrive in Fredericton. It had been warm and sunny in Toronto but here it was wet and windy – and cold. In fact the cold was more of a shock than anything else. It had been cold of course in the High Arctic but a different kind of cold and it didn’t feel half as bad as I was feeling right now.

Rachel and I drove back into town where she picked up some things that she had ordered from Kent Hardware. I fuelled up her car for her and then we went for a coffee at Tim Horton’s, where she told me that while I had been away, my father had died.

I think that she was expecting me to show more emotion than I did, but the fact is that I ran out of emotion about my family a very long time ago, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall.

Anyway, I shan’t bore you with my problems.

We drove back here and Rachel rustled up something quick to eat. Meantime I had a chat to Darren, Amber and Hannah. It’s been a good while.

And then I staggered off to bed. It’s been a very long day with lots of interruptions and I’m thoroughly exhausted.

Thursday 5th July – WHAT A DEPRESSING DAY!

But let’s not go getting ahead of ourselves.

Last night was weird. I crashed out as soon as my head hit the pillow, woke up again after about half an hour, and then crashed out for good until about 04:30.

And then of course, I dozed off again just a couple of minutes before the alarm went off.

Consequently it was a very tired and weary me that hauled itself out of the stinking pit, and even a shower couldn’t really bring me round. I was feeling awful and for two pins I would have gone back to bed.

But I have things to do, and so I staggered downstairs to the van.

On the car park I met Hans who was loading up his van ready to leave, so we wished each other a good trip and like the Knights Of The Round Table, we each went our separate ways.

There wasn’t all that much traffic on the motorway given the time of morning, so I made it to Leuven in good time. And it seems that my parking spec has been taken by someone else. So I parked in an empty spec and anticipated a row when I returned.

The walk from there up the hill to the hospital was a long, weary walk and I almost didn’t make it. “I’m definitely not feeling myself today” I said, and just as well too because it’s a disgusting habit.

At the hospital I was early so I had to wait around for a while. And the first lot of bad news is that my weight has gone up by 3kg. Hardly a surprise seeing as I’ve been without my tablets for 12 days.

Plugged in and switched on, I slept for most of the day. With just the occasional awakening from the medical staff. And it was during one of those awakenings that I had some even more bad news.

The protein loss has doubled to just over 2.0 and the red blood count has collapsed to 8.8. No wonder I’ve been feeling so ill today.

They are totally dismayed by that and they want to bring me forward to three-weekly visits. That is out of the question for the next visit so we agreed on Monday August 6th – which means that I’ll be travelling back to Belgium with Alison.

And the one after that will be on August 27th, which is also bad news and rules out any possibility of going to North America.

Eventually they threw me out and I headed for Caliburn. Loads of things that I wanted to do but I just wasn’t up to any of them. No-one had said anything about Caliburn being in the wrong place, so we all came back to Liège, stopping off at Bio Planet for some vegan cheese and vegan sausages.

The traffic in Liège was horrendous yet again and it took ages to reach the hotel. By now I was thoroughly and completely tired and fed up so I went straight to bed and that was that.

It’s been a very bad day.

Thursday 15th March 2018 – I DIDN’T ENJOY …

… that one little bit. Not at all.

And it all went wrong right from the beginning when I hardly had any sleep at all. I spent most of the night tossing and turning and that clearly didn’t get me off to the best possible start.

But nevertheless, I was up and about just as the first alarm was going off and after the usual medication and breakfast, I had a shower and washed my clothes. I need to look pretty for the hospital.

There were a few tasks that I needed to do before I went and then I wandered around the corner for the bus.

6 minutes late it was too, and we had something of a performance as there wasn’t enough money left on my card. So that involved some negotiations with another card.

At the hospital they checked me in and informed me of the change in tariffs (that doesn’t concern me of course) and then I went to the wrong room, so they had to come to look for me.

The needle went in the tube in my chest totally painlessly – yes, it was the former Belgian ladies’ darts champion who was nursing me today. And then she gave me the treatment.

As well as the saline drip I had four bottles of Multigam 5%. That’s a stimulant made from human plasma and it attacks the viruses that I seem to have and builds up my immunity. Five hours it’s supposed to take.

It was OK for the first couple of hour but then I started to feel the cold in my veins and it sent the shivers right through me. Not as bad as when I had the chemotherapy but horrible none the less. I had to wrap up in all my clothes.

The doctor – a young girl – came to see me and so did a skin specialist – likewise a young girl escorted by two even younger female students. It all ended up like the scene at Castle Anthrax.

And then I went to sleep.

The nurse awoke me to say that it was finished. And so was I. She unplugged me and told me that I could go but I was in no fit state to leave. I had to stay there on the bed for a good 20 minutes.

I made it to reception though. My next appointment is April 12th – likewise a Thursday.

And so I sat downstairs for a while and then came home. It was pouring down with rain outside but I walked back all the same. I bought some potatoes and tinned ratatouille for tea from Delhaize, and some vegan cheese and vegan sausages from The Loving Hut – I fancy some sausages and cauliflower cheese when I return home.

Soaked to the skin, I vegetated here for a while in the warm and then had my tea.

sports centre philipssite leuven belgium mars march 2018And later on in the evening I went out for a walk. The rain had eased off and I wanted to pass the 100%on the fitbit.

There’s the Philipssite complex just down the road from here and I’d never been to see what goes on there so I went for an amble around.

That building there is actually a Sports Centre of some kind and there were hordes of people disgorging themselves into the street as I went past. I was tempted to go in for a look around but I didn’t feel up to staying out.

philipssite leuven belgium mars march 2018There are offices there too because I knew someone once who worked there.

Quite a few, in fact, all nicely illuminated in the evening which probably costs someone a small fortune.

And I found the police station too. There’s quite a big one on the site, And and underground car park too – I didn’t know about that

So I’ll have an early night. Tomorrow I’ll be gathering my strength – what’s left of it.

Sunday 10th January 2016 – AFTER YESTERDAY’S MAGNUM OPUS

… I suppose you are expecting something similar today. But Sunday is a day of rest and so if you think that I’m going to be working as hard as I did yesterday, typing out another 2200-odd words, then you are mistaken. You’ll have to make do with a mere 1556.

Mind you, Terry was back at work again this morning. Still a small leak from the stoptap under the sink. That’s down to a worn tap and the turning on and off yesterday has aggravated the wear. Being Sunday of course it’s not possible to find a replacement and so Terry resolved the issue simply by turning the tap fully-open, as tight as he could make it with a couple of spanners, and the metal-to-metal contact has done the trick. It means of course that you can’t now switch it off, but it won’t leak until the next trip to Brico Depot when he can buy a replacement.

Apart from that, I’ve been doing some of my 3D Animation course, although I can’t find the enthusiasm for this like I did with my course on Hadrian’s Wall, and on one of the support sites for the 3D program that I use, there’s also been a mega-sale for items that would fit a couple of my characters and seeing that I didn’t manage to treat myself to a Christmas present this year I treated my characters to a couple of new outfits. It’s an ill-wind that doesn’t blow anyone any good, even a 3D model character or two.

We had an excellent tea too. I’ve been having food fantasies again (I’m not sure why because I’m anything but starving being here right now), this time about boiled potatoes, broccoli and vegan pie. I’d even bought a head of broccoli last time that I was out at the shops. And sure enough, Liz conjured up something magnificent, consisting of vegan pie, boiled potatoes and broccoli. It really was a superb meal and I enjoyed every mouthful.

As for my nocturnal rambles, I suppose that you are waiting for something quite stunning, following the incredible rambles of the last few days. It’s not quite as dramatic as that because I imagine that whatever part of me goes off on these journeys is as exhausted as I am. But last night was certainly different.

I remember quite clearly going to bed, I remember switching off the laptop, but the next thing that I remember was waking up at 04:50 with the bedroom light still burning brightly. I must have been absolutely shattered to crash out just like that.

But I do remember quite a lot about my journey last night and, seeing as how at 05:00 I was wide awake after a trip down the corridor, I sat down to type it out.

I was in Belgium, in my old Vauxhall Senator, parked in Brussels in one of these large squares in front of a big building or monument with steps leading up to it. I’d rigged up some kind of temporary curtain out of a grey plastic sheet so that I could have some privacy in there while I had a doze but it wasn’t very effective. In fact, it was only when I installed myself in the back seat and pushed the surplus plastic over the back of the front seat that I was anything like comfortable. But from here I ended up in a police holding cell there, along with about 20 other young people of both sexes. It appeared that I’d been in a car with a girl called Annick (whose family name began with “C”) and she’d been driving but somehow in the confusion, I’d been arrested instead. After a while an officer came into the cell and said that he’d been in contact with as many family members as possible for all of the different people in the cell and that bail had been arranged for most people. When he called out their names, they would be taken out to sign the papers and then they could leave. And so gradually our ranks thinned out. And then some older woman came in and called out “Annick C….”. I explained that it was probably me, and explained the circumstances, so she crossed out Annick’s name and wrote mine down instead. I said to the girl standing next to me, a very tall, thin young blonde girl, very nervous, that it’s worrying when even a junior member of a foreign Police Force knows my name and my identity well enough to write it down without even asking me to give it. Clearly, I’m well-known to the Police in Brussels. And we ended up chatting, with her telling me that it was her first time ever being arrested and in a police cell. So I gave her some reassuring talk. An older man put his head around the door and called “Annick C…”, to which I once more replied that it was probably me, so he told me to come along. I gave this girl the “thumbs-up” sign to encourage her and set off with this old guy. He was clearly British, with a working-class Northern England accent so I asked him what he was doing here and how come he’d found employment in a foreign police force. He explained that he’d come over, ended up driving a bus full of children with behavioural issues, and “then we’d lost touch with each other”. He clearly seemed to know who I was but I had no idea about him. He took me into an office – a really big office with a huge table, about half a tennis court in size. I was to sit at one end and there was someone else at the other end. There was a small pedestal fan on a filing cabinet there, making a terrible racket so I asked if I could turn it off. “It’s my office” he growled.”Fair enough” I answered, “but I can hardly hear you”. He walked over to me and said “what would you do if I did this?” and gave me a huge kiss on the mouth, so I pushed him away and asked him whether he meant that for “Annick C…”. His response to that was to call someone else in, a big man in a pork pie hat, who proceeded to put my head in a head lock. I had realised by now that the purpose of this noisy fan was to flood the room microphones so that the police misbehaviour and the screams of the victims would be drowned out on the tape recording of the interview (this is a typical Belgian police tactic), but this headlock was puzzling me. It wasn’t hurting me at all or causing me any discomfort whatsoever, and I didn’t see the point of it.

So having finished dictating my notes, I snuggled back under the quilt and I was off again. This time, my father was there (my nocturnal rambles are becoming much more like a family reunion and that’s a frightening thought, if ever there was one) with his annoying habit of calling everyone insulting names. Anyway, I’d had enough of this so the next time he did it, I smashed a bottle across the back of his head and killed him. I found a large wicker basket, lined it with a large plastic bin liner, stuffed him into it and filled it with water. And then I hid it in the corner of the garage of an office where I worked. I disposed of his two dog leads (why would he have two dog leads?) anywhere about the place. As luck would have it, I found an identity document – not his but someone else’s – which resembles nothing like an actual identity document, and carefully scribbled out the owner’s identity details, making sure that I left just enough visible so that a really good investigator could read, with some effort, the identity, and then hid it near the body. Of course, eventually the body was discovered by some woman and the police were called. I was rather worried, wondering it I ought to have done so much more to hide the body and wondering if the identity card ploy had been careless, but I reckoned overall that it would run the police up a blind alley for a good while. I would have run much more of a risk by trying to dispose of the body just after I’d done the deadly deed.

I can’t believe the number of family members who have appeared quite recently in my nocturnal rambles. There were all kinds of issues in our family over the years. We weren’t really a family at all but, just like the family in the superb Frank Sinatra film Tony Rome, a “bunch of people living under the same roof” and in the end we made the decision that, like the Knights of the Round Table in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, we would go our separate ways. It was the most intelligent way to put an end to all of the difficulties that we were facing.

Since then, I haven’t spent any time thinking about them and they, doubtless, have returned the compliment and so what’s going on with them playing major supporting roles in my rambles?

Weird!