Tag Archives: nalcor

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

… out the freezer this morning.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday 1st March 2017 – THE TROUBLE …

… with having had a really decent sleep during the day is that during the night it’s very difficult to drop off again. And so it was last night. Took me absolute ages.

But having said that, once I’d gone I’d gone, and until about 06:00 too. I had a quick look at the time, and turned over back sleep again until the alarm went off.

Breakfast here is at 07:30 but I still managed to haul myself out of bed early (no cacophony to accompany me, for which I am grateful) and stuck myself under the shower to liven myself up.

First down to breakfast (although I was almost immediately joined by others) and fruit salad, bread roll, orange juice and coffee. One thing about the breakfasts here, leaving aside the choice and the amounts on offer, is that everything is so fresh and tastes delicious.

And so it ought to be, given the price that one has to pay to stay in here. Of course, I’m not paying anything like the price indicated on the door, being stuck in my tiny little room in the garrett, but I’m not complaining for a moment.

What I was complaining about though was the internet. Sometime during the night it had crashed and they hadn’t been able to fix it. That left me hanging out on a limb for a while as I have so much to do here.

By 09:00 nothing had happened and so I decided to go for a walk along the promenade. It was grey and miserable, quite windy too, and there weren’t many people about.

demolition redevelopment promenade strand oostende beach belgium march mars 2017We mentioned yesterday the story about the redevelopment of the promenade. Here, we have yet another old building from the Belle Epoch that has bitten the dust. It wasn’t as spectacular as the Villa Maritza, but there you go.

In fact by now, most of my old haunts from my spells in Oostende in the 1970s and early 80s have disappeared. All of the cheap hotels that used to be here have been swept away and replaced by blocks of holiday flats. One cheap hotel that I’d noted when I was here in 2013 had gone by the time that I came back here last November.

promenade strand oostende beach belgium march mars 2017Not that it’s particularly relevant to this particular part of the discussion , but here’s a view of the corner of the promenade that I took this morning.

You can see another Belle Epoch villa here today, hemmed in by the more modern blocks of flats, and I wonder how long it will be before it’s gone too.

But there’s an exhibition of photos along the promenade showing us how Oostende looked 70 years ago just after the end of World War II and I noticed this photograph on display. It was taken from almost exactly the same spot as my photograph, and you can see how the corner looked back then, and compare the difference.

sculpture seafront strand oostende beach belgium march mars 2017You might have noticed in the previous photograph the orange object on the promenade. There are actually about a dozen of them and they clearly have some kind of significance, although whatever it might be has so far escaped me completely.

It’s not exactly what I would call “artistic” but then what do I know? My idea of a sculpture is the column and statues to the right, a war memorial to the natives of the area who lost their lives at sea. It’s a shame that its site has to be cluttered up with these modern … errr … items.

fish dock fish market oostende belgium march mars 2017I told you yesterday about the fish market here in Oostende. That’s it there, the white building with the blue wavy roof. I went for a look inside but there were only two stalls open and the choice of fish available wasn’t overwhelming. Not really worth photographing.

I reckon that the dock behind it was the old fish dock, but it’s used these days by the Police and the Customs authorities – people like that. It’s where their boats are anchored, or moored, or tied up.

free ferry oostende harbour belgium march mars 2017When I was here in 2014 I stumbled across a ferry that I hadn’t noticed before, in all the years that I’ve been coming to the town. The deep-water port goes deep into the town and there isn’t a pedestrian way across the entrance. It’s a long walk around to the other side.

That’s the reason for the ferry, anyway.It’s only a small ferry, with room for 50 seats on board, and I took a photograph of it from the far side of the port entrance, with the town in the background. And also with the old ramps from the days when there was a ferry service across to the UK.

free ferry oostende harbour belgium march mars 2017It’s always a bad idea for me to see a ferry, because I end up in a bad mood. In fact whenever I see a ferry it makes me cross. Especially when it’s a free ferry, and today is no exception. It always brings out the sailor in me.

Of course, that’s the reason why I was able to take a photograph from the other side of the port entrance – I’d piled on aboard the boat. As indeed you might expect.

You’ll notice by the way the booths on top of the quay to the right. It was some kind of market day going on up there.

It’s been months and months since we’ve had a real “Ship of the Day”, but you can’t go sailing across a port (even if it’s nothing like as busy as it was 50 years ago) without encountering a ship or two.

simon stevin luxembourg oostende belgium march mars 2017We’re in luck today, because here we have the Simon Stevin, registered in … errr … Luxembourg. Just imagine sailing this ship up the Moselle. She displaces 35,000 tonnes and was built in 2010.

She is actually a pipelaying vessel, and that will explain her presence here. With the expansion of the wind farm out on Thornton Bank, they will be needing extra cables laid to the shore.

The Simon Stevin would be the ideal vessel to be involved in a task like this.

willem de vlamingh luxembourg oostende belgium march mars 2017The Simon Stevin isn’t the only big ship in the port either. We also have the Willem de Vlamingh in here too, and she’s likewise registered in Luxembourg.

She is your actual cable-layer and was built in 2011, displacing 6800 tonnes.

So here we are – some of the benefits that the wind farm has brought to the town of Oostende

simon stevin pilot boat oostende belgium march mars 2017As if that wasn’t enough, the harbour pilot boat was setting out of the docks and heading out to sea.

The entrance to the port is somewhat complicated and so a harbour pilot is necessary for certain boats that want to enter here. And so it looks as if there’s one of those standing offshore needing help to come in.

I couldn’t see anything hanging around outside, and nothing had come in by the time that I had left. I’ll have to go round later on this afternoon or maybe early tomorrow morning to see if anyone else has come in to join the party.

atlantic wall world war II oostende belgium march mars 2017We saw in an earlier photograph – the one that I had taken of the Promenade in the 1940s – all of the fortifications that covered the shoreline of this part of the world. All of them built by the Germans in World War II

There are still plenty of them left, dotted all over the coast and we have seen plenty of them in the past. The eastern side of the entrance canal to the deepwater port is still littered with them even today and in all of the time that I’d been coming to Oostende I’d never actually been for a wander around them – until today, that it.

atlantic wall oostende belgium march mars 2017The port of Oostende had been a German submarine base in World War I and had been the subject of what was the precursor of the later commando raids of World War II. Not only that, the beaches here would make an ideal landing for the Allied armies coming to liberate Europe in 1944, what with the major port of Antwerp only just down the road.

Hence the German were quite nervous about the coastline around here and had used labour from the prison camps to construct these massive fortifications, as well as many others of all different types which have long-since disappeared.

atlantic wall oostende belgium march mars 2017What many people don’t realise though, because it was another one of these wartime secrets that wasn’t put into the Public Domain until the great release of wartime records in 1994, was that the Allies knew absolutely everything that there was to know about the Atlantic Wall, and they didn’t even need to send someone to look at it.

The company that had contracted to build it was a Belgian company, from the rue des Atrebates in Brussels. But what the Germans didn’t realise what that the company was actually owned by a Russian emigré called Leopold Trepper. And he had a part-time employment as a spy for the Soviet Union, leading a group called the Rote Kapelle or Red Orchestra

atlantic wall oostende belgium march mars 2017It was one of the greatest triumphs of espionage in World War II but because it was a Soviet triumph, it never received the acclaim that it deserved.

But the work was done thoroughly, and the vestiges are very difficult to remove. We’ve seen when we were in France a few years ago that one of the gun emplacements near the Atlantic Wall suffered a direct hit from a blockbuster bomb, and all that it did was to tilt the concrete.

That’s why many of these places are still here. Explosives are really the only way to remove them and it’s far too dangerous to destroy them in a congested area.

oostende belgium march mars 2017The Atlantic Wall isn’t the only set of fortifications here at Oostende. We have another exciting pile of stuff buried in the sand dunes.

Unfortunately it wasn’t possible to go over to it. It was all fenced off and I couldn’t find an obvious point of entry, and so I can’t tell you exactly what it is.

I shall have to make further inquiries.

new harbour wall hms vindictive oostende belgium march mars 2017We saw the new harbour wall when we were here in November. We walked the whole length of the other side of it in order to have a good look at what they had built, and I was tempted to go for a walk down this side of the harbour wall today, but the weather was conspiring against me.

There were some people out there trying to walk down there, but they weren’t having a great deal of success.

And you might be wandering what that bow of a ship is doing set up on a plinth out there

hms vindictive oostende belgium march mars 2017A closer inspection reveals that it certainly is part of the bow of a ship, and the colour gives you a clue – that it might be something to do with the Royal Navy.

It is in fact part of the bow of HMS Vindictive, a cruiser that has a very important claim to fame in the history of Oostende.

The British were concerned about the U-boats operating out of the port after its capture by the Germans during World War I, and so they launched two raids on the harbour, sinking ships in the entrance canal to the docks.

HMS Vindictive was one of those that was sunk here, in the raid on 10 May 1918, and when it was cut up for scrap, the bow section was preserved as a monument.

ship english channel oostende belgium march mars 2017The English Channel is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world and we have thousands of photographs going back to 1970 of ships sailing up and down here.

As ships have grown larger and larger, there are fewer and fewer of them, but the size means that you can see them easier even when they are away on the horizon, especially if you have a 305mm zoom lens.

I’ve no idea what kind of ship that this might be, but it’s certainly a big one and it seems to have an on-deck cargo. There’s plenty of accommodation on there too, so I’ve no idea what it might be. I know that there’s a car transporter that takes passengers with it and sails from Hamburg to South America, but that is probably not it.

msc container ship english channel oostende belgium march mars 2017No prizes for guessing what this ship might be. The initials of the owner – MSC- painted on the sides gives the clue away, because we have seen dozens of these in the past sailing up the St Lawrence River on the way to Quebec and Montreal.

It’s a container ship of course, and a huge one at that. And it’s empty too. And that’s a symptom of the world’s reliance on China for its manufacturing industry and that the world has nothing to send back in return.

We saw all of this with Japan in the 1970s and how it led to the collapse of manufacturing industry in the UK. Now, the rest of the world is suffering, and this is the Brave New World into which the Brexiters have plunged their country, with no colonies and noallies to back them up.

strand oostende beach belgium march mars 2017With the telephoto lens still on the camera, I could take a photograph all the way down the beach in the direction of Zeebrugge. But you can’t see much down there because of the wind whipping up the sand all the way down the beach.

We were brave, those of us out there, but at least I had done what I had intended to do, which was to have a good visit of this part of Oostende. It’s hard to think that I’ve never been out here, in all the years that I have been visiting the town.

Now I can head back to civilisation.

sailing ship Nele oostende belgium march mars 2017Parked up at a wharf near the ferry is a sailing ship, the Nele.

You might think that she is an ancient ship but she was built as recently as … errr …2005, but to a design of a traditional Oostende masted sailing ship.

It’s possible to go off for a mini-cruise on board and I did admit that I found the idea somewhat tempting. But I imagine without any doubt that I’ll be back here some time or other, and so I can make further enquiries.

undersea electric cable cross section oostende belgium march mars 2017I’ve not quite finished yet over here.

We’ve seen the wind farm out there on Thornton Bank. That’s about 30 kms offshore and in order to bring the power onshore they have a huge submarine cable.

Outside their offices they had a couple of metres of cable on display, and so I went over to take a photograph of it. It’s interesting because NALCOR in Labrador have laid a cable under the Strait of Belle Isle and are planning another one under the Gulf of St Lawrence to Cape Breton, so I was curious to see what a submarine cable looks like.

It will be of interest to the Brits too. Having sold their electricity-generating capacity to the French, one of these will be laid across the Channel sooner or later to run British electricity across to France in the same way that the Compagnie Lyonnais des Eaux runs British water from Kent across to Northern France through the pipeline in the Channel Tunnel in times of drought.

Back on the other side of the canal I went to the Delhaize to buy some stuff for lunch. They had grapes on offer too so that was today’s fruit issue resolved, wasn’t it? And back here, I crashed out for an hour as soon as I got in, which meant that I was rather late for my butty.

This afternoon I had a few things to do, and then went out for a walk. And here I encountered yet more of Belgium’s world-famous customer service. I went into a café for a coffee, and sat and waited for a waiter.

And waited.

And waited.

Eventually, a waiter appeared, and cleared a few empty tables – and then disappeared. Eventually, he came back and I ordered a black coffee.

And waited

And waited.

Eventually I picked up my coat and left, heading for the café next door. I’d beens een by the waiter, placed my order and had it put on the table in front of me long before the other waiter in the other café had brought me the one that I had ordered.

I came back to the hotel for a warm, and then wandered off for tea. I know a nice Italian restaurant here that is cheap but good value, and they served me up a delicious penne all’arrabbiata, nice, hot and spicy.

So I’m going to try for an early night, and see how I am, and how the weather is, tomorrow. I hope that it’s a nice day and that I’m feeling up to some exciting moments.