Tag Archives: pionsat

Wednesday 22nd July 2020 – BACK HOME

Yes, I’ve been back home today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Having made two phone calls, we set off.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And why not?

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

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

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

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

Friday 14th February 2020 – IT’S ST VALENTINE’S DAY …

… and someone loves me evidently.

No-one tangible unfortunately, but someone “up there” … “down there, more like” – ed … must do, because I’ve had some good fortune. And as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, it’s been a long time since I’ve had any.

Those of you who read my notes from yesterday will remember that I’d received this strange letter from some insurance company in Belgium. I rang them up this morning to enquire about it because it was puzzling me.

It turns out that, not that I remember, but when I worked for that strange American company in Belgium I’d been part of their occupational pension scheme which involves a “lump sum” payment on retirement.

As I officially retired, as far as Belgium is concerned, last year on reaching 65, I claimed my Belgian retirement pension to which I’m entitled having worked for this company and also my spell at General Electric.

This was awarded to me and as a result my identity number in the Belgian national records system has been reactivated and the Insurance company has thus been able to track me down and write to me telling me to claim it.

Usually I like to slip sideways off national registers because being on them brings the wrong kind of attention from the Authorities, but for once, as I said, it’s good news

Other good news – well, almost good news – is that I’m feeling a lot more like myself today. I must have had one of these 24-hour bug things, that’s all that I can think of, and of course I have no immune system to fight it off.

And I almost beat the third alarm today too. I had my head off the pillow and I was just about to sit up straight when it went off. Still never mind. Close enough!

After the medication I had a listen to the dictaphone. And another night of rambling away to myself. I started off with something to do with the dictaphone last night but as soon as I picked up the dictaphone whatever memory I had in my mind had gone completely and I’d completely forgotten what it was all about. But I did remember a bit of it. I was walking past an outdoor swimming pool. It was pouring down with rain and there was a big fat boy swimming in there. He climbe dout and got his clothes on and started to get dressed. He went inside the office and there was something happening inside the office with a couple of people and he was one of them but this is where my memory runs out. This certainly involved something to do with dancing and i was trying to work out a dance step with someone or other, a girl but I’ve no idea now.
Later last night I was emptying out Marianne’s apartment getting a pile of stuff in her living room and throwing away some of it, putting some of it in boxes and bags and getting it ready to be taken down to Caliburn. I was working quite well and was quite impressed wuth myself but when I had a look at the bedroom and kitchen there was still tons to do there and I started to get a bit despairing. But I thought well, it’s no good me standing here looking at it is it? I may as well press on regardless and get on with it, which was what I did. I was looking out of this window at Caliburn parked in the street, all that kind of thing.

So whatever all that was about, I really have no idea.

After breakfast I set about cutting up a few albums and this was an agonising task. The first one just wouldn’t cut as it was supposed to and after much binding in the marsh I realised that it was actually titled wrongly and not the track it was supposed to be.

The second one wouldn’t cut properly either but after a while (and I do mean a while) I realised that it was a studio acetate rather than a recording master and so the track order is quite different than the published and printed album.

The third one was one of the very few that had survived the Universal Studios fire so it was actually very high quality although it was “in bits” and needed reassembling.

But just a reminder – I’m only tracking down digital tracks for albums that I already own on vinyl or on tape.

trawler coelacanthe port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallHaving resolved the issue of this pension thing, I had to go to the bank to have my payment details confirmed and stamped.

But on the way I was … errr … detained. We saw the trawler
Coelacanthe doing some kind of weird nautical danse macabre in the harbour the other day, but here she is again manoeuvring herself around.

Obviously the fishing is back on the agenda right now that Storm Ciara has passed.

Meanwhile, at the Bank, in the headlong plummet into the abyss of being The Worst Bank In The World, the Credit Agricole Normandie once again rises to the top, or maybe I should say “sinks to the bottom” to snatch the lead from the Royal Bank of Scotland once more.

“Ohh we can’t do that here” said the second cashier to whom I had spoken. “Our Head Office has to do that”.
“All I want is for you to confirm my bank account details and to apply your stamp”
“No, our Head Office has to do that”.

Totally pathetic, that is. Whatever happened to the excellent service and first-class customer consideration that I had at Pionsat? There was none of this nonsense.

trawler coelacanthe port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallOn the way back to the apartment I picked up my dejeunette from La Mie Caline and then went to see what was happening in the harbour.

And the gates were open now, so Coelacanthe was heading off out so sea. And at the same time there were fishing boats coming in so we had a kind of traffic jam at the port entrance as they jostled for position.

But as for me, I came back here to carry on work. There was plenty to do

This afternoon I started to attack the outstanding photos. And there are more than I thought because there were those few weeks when I had my broken hand and couldn’t type or do anything.

Not only that, there were piles missing so I had to fire up the failed laptop and see if they were still left on there, and also to fire up the travel laptop to see what was on there.

They’ve all been copied over, although I’m still not convinced that they are all here as they are supposed to be. And it took an age to do so.

By the time that I’d knocked off for tea I’d finished all of the photos for June. And I think that I was unnecessarily depressed about the quality – at least of the early ones – because they didn’t need much post-work at all. Well, not as much as I was expecting anyway.

But of course that’s without making any reference to the ones that were taken under the Arctic light which is a great deal different than any light that I’m used to.

samu pompiers emergency ambulance rue du roc granville manche normandy france eric hallMy afternoon was interrupted, as you might expect, by my afternoon walk. And, for a change and I’ve no idea why, there were hordes of people out there. A nice day, yes, but not that nice.

And I’d hardly set foot out of my apartment before I was shocked out of my usual reverie by the sirens of an emergency ambulance roaring past me.

So, as you might expect, I wandered off down the footpath at the top of the cliffs in order to catch up with it to find out what was going on that needed an ambulance.

samu pompiers emergency ambulance rue du roc granville manche normandy france eric hallBut when I finally caught up with it I was none-the-wiser. And not even better-informed either.

The ambulance was parked at the side of the road sure enough and there was an ambulance man talking to a family group on the grass verge. But as for why, I really have no idea.

And whatever was going on there didn’t look like anything particularly urgent to me, so I left them to it.

digger hydraulic drill concrete breaker port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallBy now, the tide was well on its way out. Not quite right out yet though.

And so I was totally surprised to see the digger and the concrete-breaker already making their way out across the water to the ferry terminal. What was really quite amusing was that, as I watched, the digger bogged down a couple of times and he used his jib and bucket as a lever to pull himself out.

On eof the best free afternoon’s entertainments that I had had.

tractor trailer port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallBut the sight of the digger bogging down, even with its caterpillar tracks, had presumably convinced the tractor driver that the time wasn’t right for him to set out.

He was waiting patiently at the foot of the concrete ramp for the tide to subside some more and for the ground to dry out a little before he sets off.

And I can’t say that I blamed him. After all, he doesn’t have a bucket and jib to pull himself out if he becomes bogged down.

hydraulic concrete breaker port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallBut they had the order of proceeding all wrong anyway.

The tractor should have been the fourth, not the third machine to move. Because he’s not ready to set out quite yet he’s stopping the other concrete breaker from going across.

The other two by this time had actually made it across and had started work while they were still sitting there.

modeling mannequin rue st jean granville manche normandy france eric hallDesperate to bring the day’s total up to 100%, I went on another extended walk to clock up the miles.

My route back brought me along the rue St Jean towards home, and there at the dressmaker’s there was some excitement going on. Someone was all dressed up like something out of the 19th Century and there was someone else taking a photo of her using a tablet.

With nothing better to do, I stayed and watched them for a minute to see what they were up to but after the photo they just hung around chatting so I cleared off home.

cat place d'armes granville manche normandy france eric hallAnd it looks as if I have a new neighbour too.

Whoever they are, they must be acclimatising their family pet to his new surroundings as they had a cat tethered to a lead that was tied in through their window on the ground floor.

A very friendly cat too, and we had a good ten minutes of chat and socialisation. I hope that he’ll be there again.

Back here, I carried on working despite having a little snooze here and there. But nothing like as complete as they have been just recently.

Tea was next and, having tidied the freezer once more, I came across a potato and lentil curry of 2018. That was totally delicious with rice and vegetables.

No more rice pudding so I had a banana and raspberry sorbet. And even though it was the cheap LIDL sorbet it was still delicious.

But one thing that I noticed was that there are only a couple of slices of pie left. Sunday’s task will therefore be to make another pie. If I can fit in two pies at once I might even make an apple pie.

night trawlers entering port de  granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallThe evening walk was, as usual, all alone around the walls. That meant that I could fit in my two runs in relative comfort, regardless of the howling gale.

Being almost at 100% I extended my walk and went on the cliff by the fish processing plant where, from my lunchtime spec when the weather is good, I could see the fishing boats coming home now that the tide was coming back in.

Fishing is back on the agenda now that Storm Ciara has passed.

Back here, there was the football. Bala Town v TNS in the Welsh Premier League

TNS have swept all before them over the past 10 seasons although Connah’s Quay are catching them up. And with TNS losing at Newtown the other day the gap has narrowed.

Bala are, somewhat surprisingly considering that they have two of the best players in the league in their team, somewhat off the pace.

The match though, went according to expectations. TNS had about 80% of the possession and had Bala pegged back in their area for most of the match. But we were treated to something much more than a defensive masterclass – more like a desperate rearguard “thin red line” defence as bala did everything they possibly could.

Henry Jones and Chris Venables were surprisingly subdued today and so they offered little in attack. The big winger Lassana Mendes though had an excellent game and why he didn’t win the man of the match award I really don’t know.

Surprisingly, despite having nothing much up front, Bala took a surprise lead when a corner into the TNS penalty area was headed into his own net by Aeron Edwards. But TNS pulled one back with a penalty late in the game – a case of “blaa to hand” rather than “hand to ball” but a penalty none-the-less.

But no matter how much they threw at the Bala defence they couldn’t break through for a winner.

Meanwhile over on Deeside, Connah’s Quay put four past Caernarfon to go top of the table. Interesting times indeed.

But asI write up the notes I have a feeling that I’m not going to reach the end before I crash out at my desk so i’d better ….


Wednesday 5th December 2018 – WE DIDN’T …

… have any blue screens today. Or any frozen keyboards or major crashes on the big desktop computer today. For the simple reason that I didn’t switch it on at all.

To preserve it for a while longer I left it switched off and used the laptop computer to examine the portable drive onto which I had downloaded all of the data.

First thing was to remove all of the duplicate (and triplicate and, in some cases, quadruplicate) files. 22,000 or thereabouts out of the 78,000 or so that I downloaded yesterday and it took quite some time to do all of that. But luckily there’s a little program that I have on the computer that does it all for me, otherwise I would still be here doing it this time next year.

And I’ve come across yet more stuff that I had forgotten, including a pile of photos, and the sad thing is that I can’t remember where many of them were taken. The sad part about it all is that I downloaded onto the desktop computer all of the files for one of the previous versions of the blog when the host closed down, but the dates of the entries don’t seem to be on the files. It must have been a javascript key running from the webhost at the time.

I’ll have to think much more deeply about this.

There’s also a pile of data that needs to be sorted, and so I’ve a feeling that this is going to be a very long job.

I was interrupted by a phone call at about 11:00. Could I come to the doctor’s at 12:00 instead of 16:00? So I had to have a shower and a good clean-up before setting out.

marité normandy trader neptune port de granville harbour manche normandy franceOn the way down into town, I noticed that Neptune was still in port, tied up at her quayside next to Marité and Normandy Trader.

I’ll go for a nosy round there after the doctor’s to see what’s going on.

At the doctor’s, I discovered that the situation about the vaccines is that you need a prescription from the doctor, and then go to the chemist for the supplies, and finally make an appointment with a nurse to do the injection.

The doctor did that all for me so I have to be at the nurse’s office at 11:00 tomorrow for the injection.

The doctor prescribed me a helping of Vitamin D to reinforce the injection. And you’ll be pleased to know that all of this medication cost me a grand total of €13:48. Cheap at half the price.

neptune port de granville harbour manche normandy franceOn the way back, I picked up one of my favourite baguettes and then went for a walk around the harbour.

Neptune was still there, and Normandy Trader had sneaked in on the morning tide.

I’d never had a close look round at Neptune before, so this seemed to be the correct moment to go for a suitable exploration

neptune port de granville harbour manche normandy franceShe’s a small bulk carrier of 2400 tonnes deadweight with a gross tonnage of about 1500 tonnes.

Built in 1992, she was formerly known as Islay Trader but changed her name quite recently, something presumably not unacquainted with the fact that she acquired something of a bad habit just recently of running aground and having to be towed off.

neptune port de granville harbour manche normandy franceAs you can see, she’s registered out of the port of Faversham, although I don’t imagine that she sails … “diesels” – ed … out of there these days seeing as how it’s silting up so rapidly.

These days we’ve seen her heading into Whitstable or, occasionally, Ridham whenever the tidal conditions are right.

That’s because Ridham is what is called a NABSA port – “Not Afloat But Safely Aground” – whenever the tide is low and no-one likes to have a heavily-loaded ship sitting on the bottom.

victor hugo quote port de granville harbour manche normandy franceVictor Hugo was in port too.

She’s one of the ships that works the ferry service out to the Channel islands from the Normandy coast.

But it wasn’t her herself that caught my attention. What I was admiring was the notice where Hugo talks about the fact that there are four islands in the Channel Islands, which he mentions, but he can only find something to say about three.

As well as that, Aztec Lady had regrown her masts. There was a girl on deck working away so we had a chat for a while. They are off to the Far North of Norway soon, but not unfortunately to where I want to go.

people picnicking place d'armes granville manche normandy franceAs I arrived back here I was treated to a strange sight on the car park.

I’m all in favour of eating out wherever possible, but not in this kind of weather. So I admired the people who were taking their picnic lunch outside.

Not much danger of me joining them, I have to say. I’m going to eat my lunch indoors.

While I’m eating my lunch, I can tell you about the early part of the morning. With having had a really early night I’d had a really good sleep and was awake at 05:46.

I’d been on my travels too. Firstly, I had encountered someone from the Open University – an old guy whom I happened to quite like. A very quiet, timid type but last night he was busily killing off everyone who had offended or upset him. That was actually the plot of something that I had been watching on a DVD a couple of nights ago.
A little later I’d been at a football match, something like at Pionsat. But it was Bangor City who was playing and at a certain moment a long clearance out of the opposition defence had gone straight up towards the Bangor goalkeeper, who ran out to clear it. However he pulled a muscle and fell down, grabbing hold of the football as he did so in order to stop any attacker getting to the ball and scoring a goal. Clearly a free kick of course, but in view of the circumstances was it a yellow card offence for deliberate handball, or was it a red card for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity? The debate raged for quite a while about that one. Unfortunately, I awoke before the referee reached the scene and made a decision.

This afternoon I typed a couple of letters. Time to get a few things moving to secure the future. They’ll be posted tomorrow and then things will be off. And I forgot to go for a walk this afternoon, being so engrossed. Not that it matters quite so much as I’d had a good stroll out this morning.

Tea was an aubergine and kidney bean whatsit out of the freezer followed by pineapple and coconut-flavoured soya dessert. I’ll do this again because it’s lovely.

And on my walk around, I was all on my own except for a jogger. Minette was there and I gave her a stroke but she must have a sore spot somewhere because she suddenly leapt up, spat at me and cleared off.

Not quite an early night tonight, but I’m off shopping tomorrow and I’ll call at the nurse’s on the way back. Another thing crossed off the list.

normandy trader neptune port de granville harbour manche normandy france
normandy trader neptune port de granville harbour manche normandy france

samsung digger neptune port de granville harbour manche normandy france
samsung digger neptune port de granville harbour manche normandy france

low tide port de granville harbour pilot light manche normandy france
low tide port de granville harbour pilot light manche normandy france

Tuesday 15th May 2018 – REGULAR READERS …

… of this rubbish will recall that on Saturday, while looking for something completely different, I found the mobile phone that I had lost back in December.

Today in the post was a letter to the effect of “could I contact the Prefecture of Police in the Arondissement 15 of Paris, quoting reference …” – and for those of you who don’t know it, Arondissement 15 is just round the corner (well, sort-of) from the Montparnasse-Vaugirard railway station, the terminus of my train from Granville.

So, what have I been up to now? I contacted them to find out.

“You reported a wallet lost or stolen on December … last year. A wallet containing documentation with your details thereupon has come into the possession of the Police. Would you like to come and pick it up?”

Well, badger me? That was most unexpected, wasn’t it?

I tell you what though. At this rate, by the end of the week I’ll have found Lord Lucan, Martin Bormann, the Lost Tribes of Israel and the Loch Ness Monster.

But I wish that I could find my appetite. I’ve had no tea tonight because I couldn’t stomach it. Mind you, I can’t say that I need it. I need to shed a few kilos these days as you know so a few days without tea will do me good. But it’s depressing all the same.

Mind you, it all stems from the rotten night that I had last night. The perils of crashing out good and proper during the afternoon are that by the time that it’s bedtime, you’re still wide awake. 02:25 whe I finally went to bed and as a precaution, I switched off the alarms. I didn’t want to make myself any worse.

And so it was 09:05 when I crawled out of bed. A late morning, and with a late breakfast that followed it too. I’d missed the best part of the day. But there was a stack of e-mails that needed attention and so this morning I sorted out all of those.

And there was one from Nikon’s Customer Service people about my lens. “We are sorry that you have had trouble with your lens. Other people have reported the same error so please return your lens for our attention ….. The repair time will be between two and four weeks”.

It goes without saying that this has dismayed me more than most other things just recently.

Another thing that has dismayed me is (yet again) my useless load of bankers. I received a text message the other day “your account has gone into deficit. Please regularise the situation …”

Deficit? How is this possible?

So I went into town to look. And sure enough, my account is in deficit by all of €12:57. It seems that when the bank transferred my money from Pionsat to here, they transferred it into the wrong account.

I despair.

road works fibre optic cable granville manche normandy franceBut it wasn’t a totally wasted trip into town.

I was able to see where they had reached with the fibre-optic cable laying that they were going. It’s not at the roundabout on the edge of the port so they seem to be making some good progress which is always useful.

And while I was down there I bought a baguette in the town because I like the bread from that boulanger on the corner, and came back here to make my butties

And having done that, I went to sit on the wall in the wind for lunch.

Back here, I was gone again. For a good hour or so too. I’m really fed up of this right now and I wish that I could do something about it. it was a real ache to haul myself off outside for my afternoon walk in the wind.

I managed some kind of session on the guitar but I’m not up to that too much either. I couldn’t stand up for more than about 15 minutes. I had to sit down.

spray crashing over sea wall promenade granville manche normandy franceNo tea of course as I said, but I did crawl off outside yet again for my evening walk.

The wind was strong at lunchtime but this evening it seems to be worse. And with it being high tide at walkies time, we were treated to the glorious spectacle of some mega-waves and tons of spray crashing over the sea wall onto the promenade.

And as I have said before … "and you’ll say again" – ed … this is why I’m here

beautiful sunset granville manche normandy franceAnd that wasn’t all of the excitement either.

We’ve been having some beautiful sunsets just recently and while the one tonight wasn’t quite up there with the best, it was still quite impressive nevertheless.

And I was surprised about how quickly the sun goes down. I almost missed it tonight and that will never do.

Back here now and I’m going to have to think of a plan to get to Paris to pick up my wallet. How am I going to manage that?

Friday 5th January 2018 – USELESS LOAD OF BANKERS!

I actually managed to struggle into town this morning.

And it’s just as well that I did too.

my early night didn’t work out as well as it ought to have done because I was wide awake at 05:00. Never mind the former times when the alarm used to go off at 06:00 (and it will again, starting next week) – by 06:00 I was sitting on the sofa having had my medication.

After breakfast, I had a shower and a good clean up, and then spent a good hour or two collecting all of the paperwork that I needed. And I’ glad that I did too because I had a nasty surprise.

But never mind that for a moment. First stop was the Police Station to complete the paperwork about my missing wallet. He had a grouch and a growl because, in his opinion, the work that they had done in Paris was bidon. But at least I now have a temporary driving licence so that I can legally use Caliburn.

And then we went to the Bank ready for a battle.

My bank cards are ready so I picked them up. And I paid a bill that need to be paid, and then battle commenced.

I shan’t bore you with all of the details. But a brief recap is that when I moved here, I went into the bank to open an account here, to close down my account in Pionsat, and to transfer all of my payments to the new account.

And then we’ve had the long sorry story of how everything seems to have gone wrong – a relentless stream of failures and incidents that have shaken my faith in the bank.

But today was the final straw. It seems that they haven’t closed the accounts in Pionsat at all, all of my payments have been paid in duplicate and I’ve been paying bank charges on two accounts that I don’t use.

Anyway I left them busily repainting the woodwork where the paint had blistered off in the heat. They are going to sort it out, so they say, but we’ll just wait until the next disaster. The Credit Agricole here in Granville is like lurching from one catastrophe to another, and my finances are catastrophic enough without any help from my useless load of Bankers.

But the most telling part of all of this was the question “who dealt with your affairs? Was it Madame xxxxx?”
Well, as a matter of fact it was. And having heard one or two stories, I’m not surprised that her name cropped up without any prompting.

Next stop was the Post Office to renew the redirection of my mail. That’s important because of my driving licence issues, more of which anon.

And here we had the delightful, typical Post Office scene of a crowd of people waiting in a queue while no less than THREE assistants dealt with one customer.

Everyone was fuming so I turned to the woman behind me
Our hero – “typical Civil Servants. No idea whatever about the Real WOrld. They should be made to take 6 months unpaid leave every five years and come and scratch around for a living like the rest of us and see what it’s like to live in the Real WOrld”
Woman behind me – “I’m a Civil Servant”.

Final port of call was at the Driving School.

To apply for a replacement driving licence on line, I nedd a special kind of certified official photograph and I had no idea where to obtain one. They would know, of course.

And indeed they did. So next time that I’m out on the town I can pay a visit.

When I returned home Liz was on line so we had a chat, and then it was lunchtime.

After lunch I did some tidying up and even had the vacuum cleaner out for a while. And I’ve made a few plans about organising myself better. If that works, I’ll be amazed because it’s never worked before. But all of this time spent hunting down paperwork is totally absurd.

Havng had a little (well, more than a little) snooze and an hour or so on the bass, I made tea. Baked potatoes and beans with cheese. And my vegan cheese slices will melt if I break them up and put them with the beans in the microwave.

And for pudding, some of Liz’s Christmas cake.

To finish off the day, I’ve been for a walk. It was slow and painful but I did it. So I’m hoping that I’ll have a decent night’s sleep tonight.

Final word must go to my former colleague and friend Anne-Marie. She joined the EU the same time that I did and we went round together for a while, even going on a skiing trip together for a week in Bulgaria. I’ve heard on the grapevine that she received her long-service medal from work the other daY.

Sp hats off to her.

Saturday 4th November 2017 – I’VE JUST SEEN …

… some of the best goals that I’ve ever seen at this level of football.

A breakaway down the right wing by the right-back. A cross right into the penalty area and a forward running in sidefoots in on the half-volley into the back of the net from 18 yards out.

A couple of minutes later, another breakaway down the right wing once again from the right-back. A cross right into the penalty area and this time a diving header from the substitute centre-forward straight into the back of the net from about 8 yards out.

Both shots totally unstoppable.

Yes, we’ve been footballing today, haven’t we?

We nearly didn’t though. It was a struggle to hail myself out of bed and the beautiful nocturnal voyage that I was undertaking disappeared in a flash.

It was even harder to haul myself outside to Caliburn and go to the shops. The weather didn’t help either – it was teeming down outside with rain the like of which I haven’t seen before while I’ve been here.

There was a lot that I was needing to do, but the weather didn’t make me feel very optimistic. IN the end I just went to LIDL and Leclerc. And I didn’t buy anything that wasn’t on the list either. It was a sad morning for that.

After lunch I crashed out for quite a while – I’m still not feeling myself. But I did wake up in time for the football. Although the day had been bad, it had stopped raining so I walked up to the Stade Louis Dior. ON the way, I encountered the Bank Manager, who told me that there was a paper missing from my Bank account. He’ll ring me next week to discuss it.

US Granville’s opponents tonight were Vendee-Fontenay. Hopelessly adrift at the foot of the table. With me being in the crowd, an away banker was obvious and when they took the lead after three minutes, I would ordinarily have put the mortgage on it too.

It was a weird goal too. Down the right wing the Vendee Winger went to cross the ball in but his kick was blocked by a sliding tackle from the left-back. The ball ballooned in the air, swerved off its expected trajectory right into the path of a Vendee midfielder who was totally unmarked 10 yards out, and he headed into the empty net.

But gradually through the intermittent showers US Granville asserted themselves with the aid of some very good goals, and ran out 5-1 winners.

Despite the heavy scoreline, it wasn’t all one-way traffic. Vendee-Fontenay had some very good spells going forward and Granville had to do some desperate defending.

After the match I had a good walk home and had some rice with a tinned curry, just like I used to do after football back in the old days in PIonsat.

I’m exempted from a walk this evening due to my perambulations to the football ground. And with it being Sunday tomorrow I can have a lie-in. And I deserve it too.

Thursday 2nd November 2017 – A RIGHT LOAD OF BANKERS.

I seem to attract the worst sort of bankers, don’t I?

On my way to the LIDL this morning, I stopped off at the Credit Agricole to check the automatic payments on my account. And the monthly payments to my bank in Belgium and my bank in Canada STILL haven’t been paid.

In the bank I got to see an assistant, and he confirmed that although all of ly accounts are now held at the bank here in Granville, the monthly payments referred to above have never been made.

Consequently I insisted on seeing the manager. And when he was finally free and I saw him, I told him precisely what I thought of his bank. And I was impressed with how much polite but offensive French I could conjure up on the spur of the moment.

What made it worse was what happened once he telephoned his International Department and they said that International Dorect Debits can’t be transferred between branches, but need to be cancelled and restarted. And when I asked him why his assistant hadn’t told me that when I went in in May to transfer my account, he didn’t have a reply.

With the heat from my comments on his remarks, they’ll be having the painters in to redecorate his office. I was one very unhappy bunny, as you can imagine. I’ve just been for two months in Canada and the USA spending money that I ought to have had but didn’t – and if you recall, I didn’t stint on my expenditure out there.

I made an appointment for after lunch to continue our discussion, and I went off to LIDL where I bought the bread for freezing, some ice cube sacks, and the wrong size of plastic bag in which to store my frozen stuff.

During my lunch break I gathered up some papers to take back to the bank, and it’s just as well because they had absolutely nothing on their files and, for some reason, they were extremely reluctant to telephone the bank in Pionsat to obtain the information.

The information for the Belgian bank was easy, but for Canada, not so. On the transit form that I took down, the reference number was 16 digits and there was only space on their computerised form for 9.

Having run round in circles for half an hour, I insisted that they telephone the bank in Canada and obtain the information first-hand. Eventually, they agreed and here we encountered the unfortunate fact that Canada’s clocks haven’t gone back yet, so they weren’t open.

I had to loiter in the bank for 45 minutes before the call went through, and after being thoroughly interrogated as to my movements in Canada, they gave me the account details. A 9-digit number indeed, “but you’ll need the 7-digit branch code”.

“I wondered what that box of 7 digits was for on the form just before the space for the account number” said the bank clerk. I despaired.

So now I’ll have to wait until the beginning of December to see if the payments have gone through. But I’m way beyond being annoyed about all of this, as you can imagine.

As I left the bank, I bumped into Brigitte who was loitering around outside. Three times this week, that is. We went for a coffee and a walk around the docks. I came back here and crashed out for half an hour – after all, I’ve walked over 118% of my daily activity today.

I’d had a rough night last night. Tossing and turning for much of it. And I’d been on my travels too – driving a coach on a holiday feeder service. I’d returned home to find that someone else was trying to go out on a feeder but there was no oil in his coach and he was annoyed to say the least. I said that he could go in mine, which somehow I had managed to park in my room in this hostel where I was staying.

What was ironic about this was that I was idly surfing the internet looking for photos of Ford coaches and there in glorious technicolour was a photo of a coach that I used to drive when I worked for Salopia Saloon Coaches in 1979. It’s a small world.

Having done well over 100% of my daily routine, I’ve exempted myself from going for a walk. I’m going for an early night to recover from today’s exertions.

Wednesday 26th April 2017 – THAT’S TWO MORE …

… ruins crossed off the list this morning.

Two new constructions of which I would have been the first inhabitant.

The first one was a nice apartment but the finishing was terrible. They had installed the kitchen unit and then painted the walls with the result that half of the paint was on the unit. And they hadn’t painted behind the unit either, which gave me a good chance to look at the plasterboard. It wasn’t “hydro” plasterboard but cheap 10mm stuff that wouldn’t last five minutes once it became wet (which is an odds-on certainty behind a kitchen unit). It wouldn’t have been so bad had they tiled it, or even painted it, but that was a load of rubbish and I’m not becoming involved with those kinds of issues.

The second one was a studio, nice and big, but with the black damp already rising out of the floor – and in a new untenanted studio too.

So no danger of me moving into anywhere here.

garden gnome brehal manche normandy franceBut I was disappointed about these apartments anyway, because there is someone living just across the road from here that has a similar kind of sense of humour as me, and that’s something quite rare in France, isn’t it?

This isn’t all that was on display either. The whole garden front, sides and back, was covered in garden ornaments. And I have to be honest and say that the idea of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, a pile of sprouting mushrooms and half a dozen tuinkabouwters living in the immediate vicinity is one that would appeal to me.

old railway station ancienne gare brehal manche normandy franceThat’s not the only exciting thing here in the vicinity either. This building is actually just across the car park from the building that I was visiting, and regular readers of this rubbish will recognise this for what it is.

It is of course a railway station.

Brehal did once have a railway service, on the line between Granville and Conde sur Vire. Opened in 1909, it was another one of these ephemeral local lines – a tacot with a narrow gauge of one metre.

Ephemeral it certainly was. Not quite matching the 8 years of railway line between Pionsat and Gouttieres, it struggled on for a grand total of 32 years, closing officially in 1941 due to “wartime conditions” and never reopening.

However, I have seen in someone’s memoirs a story that it closed in the mid-1930s and that the rails were removed some time round about 1937-38

I’d had a bad night again – not comfortable in my new bed. And far too much noise for my liking. Despite switching off the film early last night, I couldn’t go to sleep and that’s the thing that always puts me in a bad mood.

After breakfast I hit the streets to Brehal to see these ruins, and then wandered off to the bank for some money. And found myself passing a launderette. I was having a free morning, and I had a pile of dirty clothes in Caliburn and having found the washing soap when I had Caliburn stripped out the other day, I spend a pleasant hour in the launderette with a good book while my washing was going round.

Having picked up a baguette, I headed for the beach. Far too windy and hailstormy to sit outside but I did profit by pulling about 6 months worth of rubbish out of Caliburn and dumping it in a waste bin.

oyster beds coudeville plage manche normandy franceAnd having a good look at the oyster beds out here too. With the tide being quite low right now, you can actually see them.

While I was eating my butty I had an interesting exchange of text messages –
“Why didn’t you say hello to me?”
“When you walked past me just now”
“Did I just walk past you?”
“Yes you did!”
“Where was that?”
“On the car park”
“Which one?”
“The one right outside the sous-prefecture“.
“But I wasn’t there”
“Where are you?”
“Sitting by the seaside in Brehal in Normandy”
“Ohh dear – I’ve texted the wrong number! Sorry”.

Back here, I sat outside in the verandah with a good book and a coffee for a while. And then I made my tea in the kitchen in the garage.

But I’m really fed up with this. Not only do I have the landlady sitting watching me while I eat my breakfast, she came to watch over me while I cooked and ate my tea. And I’m not comfortable in my new quarters either.

I can’t be doing with this. It’s the cheapest place in the whole of Normandy and it’s easy to see why. I’m moving on on Sunday morning – and I don’t care where to – and it will be a cold day in hell before I ever come back here.

Tuesday 28th March 2017 – I’VE LOST COUNT …

… of the number of times that I’ve stepped out of my life. Just thrown a few boxes of stuff into the back of an old car, said “goodbye cruel world” and moved on.

And yet, as I sit in my little hotel room in Poitiers, I can reflect on the fact that however many times I’ve done that in the past, here’s another time to be going on with, because I’m doing it again.

I’ve long-since come to the conclusion that I can no longer carry on at the farm. I can’t even drag myself upstairs, never mind a pile of wood, water, food, all that kind of thing. I can feel myself going downhill from one day to the next and if I feel like this now, what am I going to feel like in 8 months time when winter starts? Being too ill to move in minus 16°C with no heat and no mobile phone signal to call for help is not really such a good idea.

And so I need to move on now. While I still can. And so for the last week or so I’ve been packing up boxes of my more important stuff and bunging them into the back of Caliburn. And after a visit to the bank at 17:00, we hit the road.

I’ve not taken some stuff that I wanted, and that’s for sure. The furniture that I had set aside, I’m not up to mountaineering across the barn to fetch it (yes, I’m beginning to realise that I’ve left this “moving” lark a little too late, haven’t I?”. And other things that I dearly wanted to take with me – well, I can’t find them anywhere as far as I have looked.

But a few things are notable by their consistency. I’ve always taken with me my LPs and my guitar (the Gibson EB3 bass) and they are all comfortable in the back of Caliburn. In fact, the guitar was the first thing to go in.

Howeer, to return things to their proper order, I had another good sleep last night. Tossing and turning a little as I seem to do these days, nevertheless it’s really comfortable in my bed. And then a nice early rising and breakfasting long before the alarm went off.

After a nice repose, I then attacked the barn once more, looking for some more stuff (that I didn’t find, of course) and making sure that I had forgotten nothing. And then taking down some more stuff to put in Caliburn.

Once that was all out of the way, I locked up the barn completely and then made a start on tidying up the attic and cleaning everything. I did have half a mind to take a pile of stuff down to the launderette to wash but that can al wait for some other time.

After lunch, Ingrid came round to visit me again and we blitzed the attic, vacuuming it and cleaning it from top to toe. It’s never been looking as nice as it does right now, that’s for sure. Everything else was loaded into the back and we sat down for a breather. THis was the first time that I’ve ever been ready well in advance of leaving. usually it’s all a last-minute rush.

Ingrid and I said our goodbyes and I went to Pionsat and the Post Office to stop my post deliveries. But as you might expect, the Post Office was closed. No idea what will happen about that now as I had dismantled the post box before I left.

At the bank I concluded the business that I had started the other day, and then we hit the highway. Me, Caliburn and Strawberry Moose. Only a vague idea of where we’re going to go. At the moment we are just going to drift around until we find somewhere nice to live. Somethind will turn up – it usually does… "it’s called “Prison”" – ed.

But driving through the mountains of the Creuse I was listening to Carole King singing “You make me feel like a natural woman”. Well, as it happened, I was feeling like a natural woman too, but where I was going to find one around there is anybody’s guess.

Saturday 25th March 2017 – I’VE JUST SEEN …

… the most extraordinary football match.

Puy-de-Dome League Division 4 and two teams – St Gervais d’Auvergne III at home to Charbonnières II. Charbonnières were streets better than St Gervais – they missed a sitter almost from the kick-off but took the lead after about 5 minutes with a soft goal through the St Gervais keeper’s legs.

All one-way traffic it was with Charbonnières making it look so easy, and only some last-ditch outstretched feet and some astonishing saves by the St Gervais keeper who, I reckoned, knew absolutely nothing about any of them, just being in the right place at the right time and diving the right way, prevented Charbonnières from running riot.

But it was all too easy for Charbonnières and after about half an hour they eased off for some reason or other, and I don’t know why. And then the inevitable happened. A harmless cross into the penalty area, the Charbonnières keeper palmed it away, the loose ball hit one of his own defenders on the back and rolled across the line into the net.

Stunned silence from the crowd.

In the second half, Charbonnières struggled to get going. St Gervais were quite awful but they were slowly growing in confidence, with the opponents becoming more and more frustrated.

And then it happened.

A cross from the wing into the centre of the field, a St Gervais player hitting it on the half volley, and there we were, a most unlikely 2-1 for St Gervais.

Even more unlikely was that St Gervais scored a third just minutes later!

As the game progressed, Charbonnières finally awoke and went back on the rampage, with some more outstretched feet and some very fortunate goalkeeping keeping them out. But they did pull one back from a free kick with just minutes to go.

In the final minute or so Charbonnières threw everything, including the kitchen sink, at the St Gervais defence, and then we had a wild clearance out of the defence. The Charbonnières defenders had the idea of stepping up three paces to catch the St Gervais attacker offside.

But ohhh woe! Woe!

They were in the St Gervais half, and an attacker can’t be offside if he’s in his own half. The attacker picked up the ball, advanced totally unopposed on the Charbonnières goal and slotted the ball underneath the isolated keeper. 4-2.

And that was that. And the crowd are still shaking their heads even now.

The second match was between the St Gervais Second team and the First XI of Charbonnières, and this was much more evenly matched. Charbonnières took the lead with a good header, and as the game wound down towards the end, they slowed down the game. But two dramatic late goals from St Gervais turned the match around and Charbonnières then tried to speed up the game. But they couldn’t come back.

We had a few little niggles but all-in-all it was a good game.

But I’ll tell you something. I complained the other day about the lack of solidarity that I have received from most of my “friends” in the Auvergne. Today, there were several people whom I knew from Pionsat’s football team and while they all said “hello”, not one of them came to sit with me for a little chat, even though it’s been 18 months or so since I was last at a match and they all know about my health issues.

I’m really disappointed about that.

So last night was another bad night for me – awake in the middle of the night and then wide awake definitively at about 05:45. Up here in the attic (with a fire burning) long before the alarm.

After a brief rest I took a pile of boxes downstairs to Caliburn and loaded him up, and also put in some stuff from the verandah. Then I nipped off to the Intermarche at Pionsat for some bread and so on.

I didn’t do much when I returned, and after lunch I crashed out for an hour or so.

But before going to the football I removed almost all of the boxes from the attic and put them in Caliburn. That was heavy work and exhausted me completely. There’s still stuff to pack up here, but that’s Tuesday morning’s job.

And now I’m back from the footy I’m going to be doing the washing-up and then going to bed.

Sunday is a day of rest, but I bet that it won’t be.

Wednesday 22nd March 2017 – ONE THING …

… about being in bed early is that there I was, out like a light, with just the odd bit of tossing and turning, and that was how I stayed until about 06:40. Totally painless. And with the early morning sun streaming into my room, I felt so much better than I did yesterday.

But it had been freezing in the night. The windows in the attic roof were all iced over. But nevertheless it was reasonably warm in the attic while I had my breakfast.

And then I had some work to do. The technician was due to arrive and so it was a good reason to do a little tidying up. And with the bright sunlight I could use the vacuum cleaner too. That didn’t take too long at all.

When he arrived, he told me that the fault wasn’t at my place but at the exchange (GRRRR – after all that!) and in fact, when I looked, I noticed that I had a connection. he helped me configure it and then cleared off. And, as luck would have it, I received a message from Orange to say that as the fault was not on my premises, I wouldn’t be charged for the call-out.

And so as I settled down again, I had a phone call from Ingrid. She had to go to Marcillat and so I invited her round for a coffee – that’s the least that I can do. And that meant that I had to tidy up here in the attic too. I need to be pushed like this.

Anyway, she came round and we had a coffee and a good chat, and then, much to my surprise, she made me a sandwich. And, while I was eating that, she fetched me up a huge pile of wood. Saying that I was overwhelmed is the least of it.

We nipped into Pionsat for the Bank appointment and then came back here for another coffee before she hit the road back to Biollet. I made some tea and then, still struggling with my cold and cough, I headed off to bed.

My bed is absolutely beautiful and it’s soooooooo comfortable, and it’s a shame that I can’t take it with me. It’s out of the question for me to struggle with it out through the window here and down the scaffolding. I remember the issues that I had trying to get it up into the bedroom.

I shall have to think of a Plan B, and I have one in mind

Tuesday 21st March 2017 – AS FOR LAST NIGHT …

… it was nothing like as good as the previous one.

But then again, there’s a good reason for that. And that is that somewhere in the middle of it all I had a very severe attack of cramp. And severe it was too -it kept me awake for ages while I tried to calm it down. And then it would go, so I would turn over, and it would come back again. This went on for hours, I reckon.

And then, I was awake at 06:00 – such are the perils of having an early night. I really do need to get my life back on track.

After breakfast I had a little relax and then slowly headed off into Pionsat.

First port of call was the Intermarché and a loaf of bread for he next couple of days. Man might not be able to live by bread alone, but I can if I have some stuff to go on it. Next port of call was the bank because I need to make some kind of financial arrangements for my future. They fixed an appointment for tomorrow at 16:30.

But outside, I bumped into Simon. Long time no see indeed but news of my impending demise had even filtered through to him. He invited me for a coffee and I agreed – but a little later as I still had two things to do.

The most important was to contact my internet supplier and have a moan about my Livebox not working. After much binding in the marsh they agreed to send out a technician to sort me out. At my charge of course, but some things you need to do. That’s tomorrow morning too.

And then round to Clare’s. She had been concerned about me when I was missing the other week and had even gone round to my house to see if I had arrived there. I had to express my gratitude and offer a bottle of wine in recompense. It’s the least that I can do in the circumstances.

I had a good chat with Simon and Desirée at their little office. I’m amazed at how domesticated and suburbanised Simon has become since he married. It’s clearly doing him good, so good luck to him.

Back here, my exertions finally caught up with me and I was stark out for a few hours. And then I began a little desultory packing, with a pause to watch a film. That took me nicely up to tea time, when a couple of handfuls of pasta, some vegetables and tomato sauce did the trick. I wasn’t all that hungry.

And then, bedtime. No idea why I’m so exhausted. It’s not as if I’ve spent too much time running around today – physically, that is.

And so I have realised, rather unfortunately, that I’m not going to be able to keep on going out here. I don’t even have the energy to pack up this place. Or anything like it. I am just not up to it. Even climbing up the stairs into the attic is killing me.

I shall have to take what I’ve got in Caliburn and head off to find some peace and solitude somewhere.

What a shame!

Sunday 19th March 2017 -THAT WAS SOMETHING …

… of a disturbed night’s sleep what with the livestock in the roof. And there I was, thinking along the lines of Marshall Matt Dillon from Gunsmoke, and “Sunday is the one day of the week a man can get up at noon and sit around with his boots off without anybody hollering at him about it”. First Sunday for almost 18 months that I hadn’t set an alarm, and there I was, wide awake and up and about at 07:30 in the morning. I’m hoping that this isn’t going to be a regular occurrence.

After breakfast, morning was quite steady – at first – and then round about 10:00 I sprung into action. By 12:00, everything not needed in the back of Caliburn had been taken out, and all of the food, clothing and other items that will be accompanying me on the next stage of my journey – because there is going to be a next stage on my journey – were all arranged neatly inside. It’s amazing, all of the space, once I managed to sort it out. And I counted almost 30 of those black plastic crates that I had systematically looted and pillaged from the rubbish bin at the supermarket in Leuven.

After all of that, I needed a sit-down. And having relaxed, made some butties and set off for the football. None at Pionsat of course, but there was a double-header at Le Quartier. Mind you, their ground was deserted at 13:00 so I went for a drive down to St Gervais d’Auvergne. Nothing going on there either so I had my butties by the lake.

Back at Le Quarter at 15:00 for the second match, but there was sill no-one there so I nipped up to Pionsat to see what was happening. Apart from a new Salle de Fêtes being built on the site of the old Maison Ducros- Maymat there was nothing going on there either.

And so back here, I checked on the internet and it seems that I have the dates incorrect. No matches this weekend – it’s next weekend when it’s all happening. D’ohhhh!

And so I made up my bed in the bedroom. even if it’s colder down there in the bedroom, I’ll snuggle up under the quilt and sleep in the quiet and in the comfort tonight. I deserve that at least. And while I was in there I began to pack away some clothes too. No time like the present.

Tea was a vegetable chili and rice, and now it’s bedtime. I’m hoping for a better night than last night.

Saturday 18th March 2017 – LAST NIGHT …

… was something of a restless night for me. For a start, I wasn’t hungry and so I didn’t have anything to eat. And then I couldn’t go to sleep for ages either. By 06:00 I was wide awake and working on the laptop.

Nevertheless, I did manage to go on my travels during the night. I’d been to some kind of city where the railway lines had been moved out of the centre to the edge of the place, and the interior where the rails and the stations had formerly been was now all overgrown and being used by the locals as a kind of park. There were some arches over where the railway lines had been – brick arches of the kind that might have been built by the Romans and in very poor repair. I kept trying to take a few photos of them but people kept on getting in the way and it was just so difficult to have a clear shot.

Anyway, I had breakfast, in company with plenty of other people and a pile of dogs – it seems as if there was some kind of Canine Convention going on here just now. And then, as usual, I had things to do on the laptop.

Having survived the initial attempt to turf me out of my room, I decided not to push my luck and by 10:00 I was on my way. First stop was the LeClerc supermarket for bread and a few other bits and pieces to set me up for the next few days. I had a chat with Ingrid on the telephone too and we arranged to meet up on Monday for a chat and so on.

And then – I’ve put this off for so long but I can’t keep on doing it. I headed for home. It’s been a long time since I’ve been down these roads. For the last 18 months or so I’ve been something of a disciple of Wilfred Grenfell, who sais that “when two paths are open, always take the more venturesome”. But I have to go home sometime.

When I finally arrived, I could see that it was clear that the gales and tempests that have battered the centre of France have given here a pretty good battering too. But there’s no real damage or anything and, to be honest, it was good to be back. The good news is that the rodent-proofing that I carried out here in December seems to have worked and there’s no obvious signs of any damage. It was 16.1°C in here too so that was good – saved me having to light a fire.

But the bad news is that the storm has done something to the internet connection and that is down. It looks as if I’ll be taking Ingrid to Montlucon on Monday to swap my Livebox over for a new one. Anyway, I had a nice sit-down and relax for the afternoon, and kicked my mug of coffee all over the floor breaking off the handle of the mug, as well as washing the floor..

One of my plans for tonight was to go down to Pionsat to watch the football. But to my astonishment, not only is Pionsat running just one team this season (instead of the two last season and even three a couple of seasons ago), the team has declared a general forfeit and abandoned all of its matches. I don’t know what to make of this. It’s all rather astonishing as far as I’m concerned.

So anyway, I made myself something quick out of a tin to eat and then settled down on the sofa tonight, trying to sleep amid the sound of the animals scratching away in the roof.

As Golden Earring once famously sang, “You know it’s good to be back home” but I have been realising day by day while I’ve been away that with my declining health (because I can see it declining every day) my long-term future lies away from here.

Sunday 8th January 2017 – WHAT A MATCH!


Just two matches in Belgian professional football. Both involved travelling, but one involved a train, a metro, a tram and a long walk to a huge 60,000-seater with a crowd of about 1,500.

The second involved a train ride and a long walk to a compact modern stadium with a belting crowd, a belting atmosphere and CHEERLEADERS!

And I’m glad that I chose the match that I did, because it was one of the most exciting – not to mention the most bizarre – matches that I’ve ever seen. Not even Pionsat could conjure up a performance like the one that I saw this evening.

As far as sleeping went, I had issues yet again. It took me ages and several attempts to drop off, and when I finally did, I was awake again by 06:15. I’d been on my travels too, doing something with a group of children, trying to train them to perform office work and I was also supervising a group of former colleagues at one stage during the night.

For breakfast I was alone again, and that was how the morning went. I read through a pile of stuff on Labrador but there was nothing that caught my attention today, just for a change.

After lunch, I left the premises and walked down to Caliburn for my gloves, seeing as the weather is cold today. And once I’d done that, I walked off through the back streets taking the short cut to the railway station.

sncb multiple unit train leuven station belgium january janvier 2017There was plenty of time before my train was due to leave, but I didn’t have to wait in the cold because it was sitting at the platform. And it was quite warm too.

And then we hit the rails and off we shot. Not to Antwerp and not to Aarschot either, but to Lier. The Herman Vanderpoortenstadion, the same football ground that we visited the other weekwhen OH Leuven was playing there.

het lisp Herman Vanderpoortenstadion lier belgium january janvier 2017The stadium is otherwise known as Het Lisp, and today, SK Lierse was playing Lommel United. Lommel United is a team in the Belgian Second Division that I have yet to see, and so with a choice of just two matches today, it seemed like the good choice.

A nice pleasant stroll through the thick fog took me to the ground and I warmed myself up in the pie hut under the stand with a nice hot coffee, much better than the usual football club rubbish where it’s more like coloured hot water.

But I’m clearly showing my age these days.There’s full security and searches at football grounds these days, and yet they took one look at me as I entered the ground and waved me straight on in.

cheerleaders het lisp Herman Vanderpoortenstadion lier belgium january janvier 2017I took my place in the cheap seats at the back of the stand with all of the other old fogeys, and we had the usual distraction of the cheerleaders performing on the field.

As I said last time, I’ve seen better cheerleaders than these, but at least they are here, and it gets me out of the house – and that’s quite important. I just wish I could find a seat closer to the action.

lierse sk mascot het lisp Herman Vanderpoortenstadion lier belgium january janvier 2017You’ll have to excuse the quality of the photos that are on here, and the fact that there are only one or two. But we were blanketed in a thick fog that was rolling across the pitch and at times, visibility was quite difficult.

And add to that the fact that the camera in the phone isn’t made for this kind of thing. It spent most of its times focusing on a fog bank rather than the action.

And so what can I tell you about the game? The fact is that both of the teams were quite evenly matched. But if anything, Lommel were much more composed on the ball and looked more confident.

And that’s what made the result so amazing.

The final score was 5-1 – in favour of … errr … Lierse SK. And that was absolutely astonishing.

I can do no more that itemise the goals that Lierse SK scored, and you’ll see exactly what I mean –

  1. A free kick outside the area that was heading straight into the keeper’s arms with no problem or danger whatever – except a diving header at the near post at the last moment by a Lierse SK attacker
  2. A penalty
  3. All totally against the run of play.

    I thought that the first goal in the second half would decide the match – and straight from the kick-off SK Lierse hit the post with the ball rolling along the goal-line and back into play just half an inch from the outstretched foot of an attacker.

    And 30 seconds later –

  4. A SK Lierse player runs into the penalty area with the ball. The keeper dives bravely at the attacker’s feet to block the ball, and the loose ball could have gone anywhere from here. It rolls free to an unmarked SK Lierse attacker
  5. From there, it went from bad to worse for Lommel United.

  6. Keeper makes a great block-cum-save from a fierce SK Lierse shot. he can’t hang on and the loose ball could go anywhere. It rolls free to an unmarked SK Lierse attacker
  7. A shot on the volley from 35 yards that can go anywhere. It takes a vicious swerve right into the far corner of the net

Five of the luckiest goals that I have ever seen – you won’t see this kind of thing ever again. And there was still enough time for Lommel United to score a consolation goal.

But I was amazed.

On the way back I bought a bag of chips and then came back on a couple of crowded trains, changing at Aarschot.

A nice walk brought me back here and now I’m going to bed. And judging by the sounds, I have a new neighbour next door. I hope that whoever it is, he or she is quiet.