Tag Archives: radio anglais


I am not feeling in the least like any Christmas Spirit today, but I bet that you lot are.

And so HERE are a few Christmas gifts.

Between 2010 and my rushing to hospital in November 2015 Liz and I ran a kind-of production company writing and presenting weekly radio programmes in English for a few French local radio stations with the aim of making the British and Dutch population of Rural France more up-to-date with French laws, rules and regulations.

We had a tremendous amount of fun doing them, especially when we had a whole hour to fill at Christmas, so we’d put on our own Christmas Specials to rival Morecambe and Wise.

I really enjoyed writing those. I was absolutely given my head with no editorial control and so it was a case of “anything goes” – or “everything I had always wanted to do in a radio programme but was always edited out”.

Déchainé as you might say around here.

While I’ve been cleaning up my various old hard drives I’ve come across most of the old “Radio Anglais” files and so I’ve uploaded one of our Christmas Specials.

Since I came back from one of my adventures in the High Arctic in November 2019 I’ve been working for a French local radio station here in Granville.

Outside broadcasts (which for obvious reasons, I can no longer do), technology support; music consultant and, on Friday and Saturday nights, my own hourly rock show.

Two years ago I recorded a Christmas rock special, and that’s included too.

If you’re listening on a desktop or laptop computer or similar device, could you download the two above rather than stream them? Streaming plays havoc with my bandwidth and could cost me a fortune if 300 people decide to stream everything.

And that reminds me – neither of my websites is sponsored. I pay for the hosting and streaming etc. myself.

And so if you have enjoyed these pages, please consider making your next Amazon purchase via the links aside. It costs you no extra but I receive a small commission that helps defray expenses

To those of you who do that on a systematic basis, I don’t know who you are of course but I am extremely grateful.

Thirdly, I have a little Inuit friend (well, I have several as it happens, but there’s one in particular) in the town of Uummannaq, about 500 miles north of the Arctic Circle in Greenland.

Uummannaq is the farthest north place where it was possible to revictual THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR when we were On The Trail Of John Ross so we put in there a couple of times.

On one occasion in 2018 a group of us went for a walk around the town while the ship was fuelling up, and we heard the sound of a guitar coming from one of the rooms of the Orphanage. And so we went there to check it out, like you do … "like some of you do" – ed

It turned out to be a young girl of 14, an inmate of the orphanage, playing guitar. And we were all totally captivated. It ended up being one hell of a jam with Heidinnguaq (for that’s her name) and SHERMAN DOWNEY on guitar, Dylan White on Keyboards and Yours Truly on bass and we finished off with Amy Winehouse’s “Back in the Black”.

heidinnguaq jensen strawberry moose uummannaq greenland september 2018 Eric HallIt goes without saying, of course, that STRAWBERRY MOOSE fell in love, and can you blame him?

Heidinnguaq and I still keep in touch occasionally, and she sent me one of her songs to share with you all as a little Christmas present. That’s on the Christmas page too.

Some of you might have heard it before. Heidinnguaq came to Granville to see us all a couple of years ago and I did a radio programme of her. That was one of the songs that she played.

Anyway, THERE YOU ARE. Enjoy them all, with love from Liz, Heidinnguaq and me

Sunday 10th December 2023 – MY VEGAN CHRISTMAS CAKE …

christmas cake vegan pizza vegan fruit buns Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo 10th December 2023 … now has some icing on it.

It’s not exactly the prettiest Christmas cake that you’ll ever see, but it looks much more like a Christmas cake this year than the one that I made two years ago, which looked more like Quatermass’s Experiment.

A great big thanks to Liz who dived deep into her memory and came up with a recipe for vegan royal icing using chick pea liquid, which I just happened to have, having made some hummus the other day.

And to Sean too who suggested that I treat the icing as if I was plastering a wall and do it in several thin layers. But I have to be honest and say that it does look rather like my plastering efforts used to before I discovered the trick of using a lump of wood thoroughly soaked in water.

Also in the photo is the batch of fruit buns that I made this afternoon for the next couple of weeks, and don’t they look much better these days than they used to when I was just setting out with my baking experiments?

Last week I’d used the last of the pizza dough that I had in the freezer so I made another batch. 2 lumps are in the freezer and I used the third to make a pizza tonight, which you can also see in the photo.

All of that effort today has worn me out, which is no surprise seeing as I had another turbulent night.

Being a Saturday night I was in bed late and didn’t have a great deal of sleep. By 10:00 I was up and about having my medication.

First thing that I did afterwards was to transcribe the piles of stuff on the dictaphone from the night. We started off with a Paul Temple mystery but no sooner had it started than my feet became tangled with each other and the elastic strap that I wear around my ankles. I awoke rather suddenly and quickly before anything had happened

Then there was a series of car races. One of the competitors found himself in hot water because his car had been mis-described. It had been described as one particular model when in fact it was a different one that was 10cm longer so maybe more powerful. This caused quite an uproar with various people commenting on how such a thing like this shouldn’t ever arise, how important it is for the correct details to be presented and what they would do in similar kinds of circumstances etc.

Later on I was up to my ears in work. It was about 04:00. The specimens had to go to the laboratory and normally I would take them but at the moment a girl was going to take them. She’d be here at any time. As well as having everything out I had pastry half-rolled out on a laboratory desk etc. I was generally thinking that I’d be hours late. She turned up. Today’s subject was a red pepper. It took me ages to find a pen and some kind of ad-hoc envelope in which to fit it. Then I had to tell her about the other things that needed doing, for example, when you are sending in blood tests of families, if there are more than 2 children you have to send in the blood tests of at least 2 of them and not distinguish whether they were masculine or feminine children. This list went on for hours. In the end all I could find was some kind of paper pochette in which to put the red pepper. I imagined that by the time she organises herself with this and whatever else she has to do, the laboratory will have closed at 04:00 and that would have been it. She’d have been too late.

There was also some story about a really expensive diamond. It begins in the Republic of Kyrgyzstan when the Khan gave the diamond to his daughter. Following the invasion by the Russian colonialists in the 19th Century it was lost. It turned up later in a European auction house in comparatively modern times. On one instance it fell into my hands. I had the task of not only trying to keep it safe from marauding pillagers but to make sure that it was handed back to the current Government of Kyrgyzstan. I was beset by all kinds of perils etc in an effort to move this stone to where it ought to go. I was really like something out of a James Bond novel. Unfortunately in the middle of dictating the notes I awoke and the whole lot of everything that was left evaporated away out of my head.

Did I dictate the dream about the precious stone from Kyrgyzstan? … "yes you did" – ed … but I fell asleep after I’d dictated it and had a visit from a couple of people who were looking for the stone. I set a trap for them, caught them and began to interrogate them about what they’d been doing, who they were doing it for and the reasons why they were here etc.

And later still I was taking my exam for my French citizenship. I came to the part about different Provinces, different peoples, different lifestyles. Of course I ended up writing reams of stuff about it, most of which was totally unnecessary for the article. With Cécile we’d created some kind of life as a couple living in her house. That was something comparatively new for me but as usual, most of the stuff that I wrote was pages and pages long and gave no advice to anyone really (just like what I used to write for our old “Radio Anglais” programmes). And then I awoke.

There was a story about medals in World War II. One particular medal was illustrated by 2 brothers who flew for the RAF as night fighter crew during the opening period of the Blitz in a 2-seater Defiant. They were on their way to Buckingham Palace to receive their medals before flying home to Ireland at the end of their engagement. Something happened to the ‘plane and they both baled out … "as is any rear gunner could ever bale out of a Defiant. It’s practically impossible" – ed. One of them, his ‘chute failed to open correctly and he was killed when he hit the ground. His parachute ripped on a tree and you could still see a morsel of parachute in the tree if you were to look carefully. The second brother, his parachute opened but he fell into the sea and was drowned before he could be rescued.

Finally we were working in the stores, bringing out piles of stuff for a huge project that was taking place. Suddenly, halfway through, we had word that the project was cancelled. It was coming up to weekend and everything needed to be put back, which meant that we would be hours late going home. My partner and I shrugged our shoulders and made a start. The other people in the building, including Jon Pertwee and the girl attached to him, didn’t seem to want to start, being too busy messing around and teasing each other. I knew exactly what would happen – the moment that I finished packing away my things I’d be called into putting away their things. I decided that I’d slow down to a crawl. The conversation carried on about all the bad habits of Pertwee and how this girl had even brought him a cup of coffee in bed once at 08:00. He’d given her a kiss that had upset her but she took it in her stride. Nothing whatever was being put away. People began to remark about Pertwee preparing things for his own tidying-up at the weekend. I had a look and there were tons of wires and cables etc out on my side of the warehouse lying around here. If they disappeared overnight I’d be the one who’d be in trouble. While it was very interesting and enlightening listening to all this banter that was going on, I was beginning to have a few serious misgivings about things that were happening and things that would be happening. It didn’t look at all healthy to me.

With all of that going on I must really stop listening to the Navy Lark on Old-Time Radio before going to bed.

After lunch I made a start on the radio programme, the notes for which I dictated before going to bed. And I’m right – I AM losing the co-ordination between my eyes, my brain and my mouth. I suppose that as this cancer marches on through my body, more and more things like this will happen.

Halfway through, I knocked off for a while and went to the kitchen for my baking session.

There’s no doubt whatever that my new FOOD PROCESSOR really is the business. It’s also nice to have a set of reliable kitchen scales, which made life so much easier too.

Even though the bearings burned out on the grinder on the old whizzer set that I had, the rest of it still works and it whipped up the chick pea juice and icing perfectly. Having the correct equipment really does make life so much easier.

For almost four hours I’d been on my feet working without a break. At about 19:00 I sat down for the first time and by 19:01 I was well away with the fairies.

The vegan pizza was delicious as usual, and so now that I’ve finished my notes I’ll check my cake again, have a nice hot drink and then go to bed.

Tomorrow I have to tidy up as the ergotherapist is coming round. Mind you, if she sees me living in chaos and disorder it might be a good thing because it might mean that I’ll qualify for more assistance.

Actually, I’m trying to avoid having any extra help. Past experience shows that if people start to let themselves go, they keep on going. I’m intending to keep on fighting and do as much for myself as I possibly can.

My autonomy is quite important and I want to hang onto it. I’m not quite ready yet to be helped into my grave by anyone.

Tuesday 14th November 2023 – WHEN THE ALARM …

… went off this morning, I was round at Liz and Terry’s. Two visitors came round, a young couple. The woman was a teacher at the same school as Liz. There was a big banquet that had been prepared but there wasn’t very much that I could eat so I had to pick my food carefully and then I ended up eating some feta cheese by accident. While I was sorting out my food I was listening to this couple recounting to Liz and Terry a tale of woe about how some kind of dirty deed had been performed against them. As I listened, a light went on in my head because I recalled from a previous conversation that I’d had with someone else that I’d heard this story before, told by a different person and from a different point of view which, nevertheless, didn’t put it in any better light.

So I made it to my feet and went off in search of my medication. I’m starting to run out of some of that now so I’ll have to contact the doctor and see what he can do about it. I’m going to have to be much more reliant on him these days if I’m not going to Leuven again.

Back in here the first thing that I did was to transcribe the dictaphone notes. And there were quite a few this morning. I’d had a busy night. I’d done some work on the laptop and gone to put the SSD back into it but it wouldn’t work. It took an absolute age to load up. I replaced the SSD with another one and then another one but each time it took really so long for the opening programme to load up onto the laptop – the homepage. I couldn’t understand why. Usually a clean install works quite well, the original hard drive was unaltered but the two other ones were new. There I was, stranded again with all of this going on again without a laptop for the moment.

And then a group of us had tickets for the European Cup Final. We arrived at the stadium quite early and found it fairly empty. We settled down on a couple of seats right at the very edge of where the stage was. There was a lot of discussion about football clubs – who was qualifying and where? Who did you need to support to get someone else, a long complicated discussion. I was busy looking at the speakers on the corner where we were sitting thinking that we’ll be deafened by these. They were in fact old PA speakers from The Who from one of their tours a few years ago. I couldn’t understand why they would be there. Slowly the hall was filling up as people were coming in and people were going. I was beginning to wonder whether we ought to make for a better vantage point than this because the music out of the PA speakers just by where we were sitting would be absolutely deafening.

There was something happening in my life about being divorced or separated etc. Catherine came to see me because we’d had a discussion the previous day or two ago about some kind of appointment. The Social Services had intervened early on that particular morning because the situation that I’d described to them had changed. Catherine asked me for the official date of my divorce or separation. There was no such thing as far as I’m aware. We agreed in the end that once the Social Services had found out the change in circumstances, should we say “5 minutes before that?”. It made no difference at all to me so I agreed. Then she suggested taking me off for an appointment with various different Social Services and Welfare people. She wanted to know about my personal papers, whether I had all of them. I replied “as far as I’m aware”. She asked “there’s no sign that your cupboards and drawers have been forced?”. I replied “no. They aren’t even locked”. She was astonished by that. I said “we aren’t that kind of people. We didn’t really have secrets”. She found a lot of it extremely difficult to believe. I don’t think that I was able to convince her of the truth.

With all this talk of divorce the fan must have been working quite hard. Just as we were talking about Labrador, the “Big Land” the head of the fan flew off and hit a dog that was standing close by us.

At some point I remember being in a motorbike race when I lost control of my bike on a band and skidded across the track and collided with the corner of a grandstand making some people sitting in there jump for safety

And then I’d found a mouse when I was round at someone’s house, a yellow golden colour, not exactly a mouse but something of that description. We managed to catch it and keep it in a jar. It was extremely friendly. We let it out at night when we went to bed. Next morning when we awoke it was still here. We caught it again. I decided that I’d keep it (as if that is ever likely to happen) and take it home. I went to the householder and asked if there was any food that the mouse could eat. They thought that there might be some bread or something but in the end when we looked through the fridge we came across half a cold cheese and mushroom omelette. We have it some of that. The person who fed it gave it an enormous amount, probably 3 times bigger than the mouse itself. I thought that if the mouse was starving you don’t want to give it that much food. It could quite easily kill itself. We put the mouse down to attack away at this cheese omelette.

And that’s pretty similar to the story of the Donner Party. In 1846 they set out on the Oregon and California Trail – a trail that I’ve been following bit by bit on foot over the last 20-odd years – from the Mississippi to emigrate to California, which was in those days part of Mexico.

Edwin Bryant, who travelled part of the way with them, wrote in his autobiography “What I Saw In California” that he was so dismayed with the slow progress that the Donners were making that he and his friends abandoned them and pushed on alone, and I had a lovely lunch in 2019 at one of their lunch stops among the same cottonwood tress where they ate their lunch along the Sweetwater River in Wyoming back in 1846.

Anyway, Bryant was not wrong. The Donner Party arrived in the Rockies so late that they were snowed in and ended up eating each other to stay alive.

But worse was to come. One of the few survivors so gorged himself on food brought by John Sutter’s relief expedition the following year that he dropped down dead.

And it’s a shame that I never made it as far as what became subsequently known as Donner Pass. I made it as far as South Pass – the watershed between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans – and a couple of miles further on, but that will have to be that.

Meanwhile back at the ranc … errr … apartment I went and had a good strip-down wash (I’m still wary about getting into the shower) and fighting off wave after wave of sleep I prepared for my Welsh lesson.

Today, I didn’t stay until the end. My first session at the Centre de Re-education was at 13:30 today so I had to finish early and prepare myself to leave. You really have no idea how long it takes me to put on my shoes.

At the Centre de Re-education I had a very long chat with someone who began the conversation with “how are things up on your rock?” and I don’t have a clue at all who he is.

But he clearly knows me, and that’s worrying.

There were just two sessions today, not three as I had been told last week. Someone had a chat with me about making some kind of plan to build up my muscle tissue, such as still remains, and then Severine pulled and tugged me about for half an hour.

It was later than I hoped by the time that I returned home, where I bumped into my cleaner who had run to LeClerc this morning and had taken a list of mine with her.

And thanks to her, we don’t just have the European Vegan Burger Mountain and European Potato Mountain but also now the European Vegan Cheese Mountain. She has done me proud.

But checking the spuds today, I shall have to do something with them. I suppose that there’s no reason why I can’t freeze them. When I’m freezing carrots, I wash, scrub, dice and blanch them and that works well enough for them, and also for the broccoli and sprouts that I have frozen from fresh.

And so I reckon that doing the same with potatoes will work well enough. If it doesn’t, I suppose that one of you lot will tell me about it

For the rest of the day I’ve been recovering from my exertions and doing a little radio work. As well as checking over the radio programme that will be broadcast this weekend.

It’s always a good idea to listen to the programme before it’s included in the stream to broadcast. I won’t ever forget when Liz and I were running Radio Anglais back in the good old days when I’d prepared a programme about “Yes” bassist Chris Squire, only for him to drop dead the morning of the broadcast.

That must have been the quickest re-write in history.

Tea was a taco roll with some of the leftover stuffing, with rice and veg. And while regular readers of this rubbish will recall the monotonous nature of my meals, they are in fact quite tasty.

So off to bed now, and tomorrow I’ll push on and finish the notes for the radio programme if I can. And then off to the Centre de Re-education. Coming back up the stairs was a little easier than it has been and I wonder if really is Severine who is doing her stuff that is working.

It’s all very well about healing the sick, but I wonder if there’s a massage that will raise the dead.

Thursday 24th December 2020 – WOW!

sunset cancale brittany coast Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallEven though I say it myself, I’m quite impressed with this photo that I took this afternoon.

It’s not necessarily the quality of it because I still have a great deal of issues with that, but it’s the dramatic and stark effect of the colours here. Just as I lined up a shot of Cancale silhouetted on its clifftop across the Bay, the light gave me everything I wanted just at the correct moment and it’s come out exactly as I would have wished, with no post-processing at all.

It’s one of those very rare photographs where everything that you are trying to do suddenly does it itself with you having to try.

Another thing that I did without really having to try was to haul myself out of bed before the third alarm. And I bet that that took you as much by surprise as it took me too. Mind you, I was only sitting on the edge of the bed is a dazed and weary state, not exactly running around like a headless chicken.

After the medication, I had a listen to the dictaphone. I was in the USA last night and Trump was giving a concert. He had someone playing banjo or mandolin or something and he was playing bass and singing, doing some kind of rap about how good he was, and everyone in the crowd was greeting him with stony silence. He was becoming all worked up on the stage and everyone was treating him with stony silence. When everyone left I had a look at the bass guitar. It was just a cheap $29 thing so I said to someone of the road crew “at least you might have got him a real guitar to play with”. They replied “he does have a real one but he was afraid he’d be all emotional”. Trump heard this conversation and came over, and started to have a bit of a go at me about it. I said “I’ll tell you what my life means to me. Come with me”. He couldn’t get the hang of what was going on but “come with me, come outside”. So we went outside and there was Caliburn. I opened the door to the back of Caliburn and there on the floor was a mattress and a sleeping bag and a few bits and pieces. I was living rough. And there at the side of the sleeping bag was the Gibson EB3. “That’s what my bass means to me” I said. “It’s all that I have here”.

The next thing was about the wife of my friend on the Wirral. She was telling me that she had been taken into a bedroom by an Indian guy to which I said “lucky her” and they spent 4 hours together so I said “even more lucky her” discussing some kind of new sales venture for some kind of product that she might have been interested in. There was much more to it than this but in the time it took me to grab hold of the dictaphone I forgot it.

The next hour or so was spent dealing with the arrears of work. I’ve been stuck in Chateau Gaillard for the last 2 weeks and I can’t seem to drag myself out of there. I seem to be bogged in there quite deeply at the moment.

That took me up to shower time and weigh time, and I’ve gained 1kilo in weight in this last week. But examining my body closely (and isn’t that a gruesome task?) I noticed that my feet and ankles are swollen. So it looks as if the water retention is back again and that will explain this weight issue.

crowds at seafood shop rue lecampion Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOff I set to the shops for the groceries to see me through the Christmas period.

It’s the tradition in France for people to have oysters as a Christmas treat (which probably explains why so many babies are born here at the end of September) and there in the Rue Lecampion where there’s the fishmonger’s, with the butcher just down the road, it just looks like Poland as I remember it in the 1970s, or the UK after 6 months of Brexit.

But I was joking about the oysters and babies just now. Don’t you believe everything that you hear about oysters. I had 12 of them on my wedding night and only 9 of them worked.

christmas decorations place generale de gaulle Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallIt’s unlikely that I’m going to get down into town to see the Christmas lights this year. I’m not well and I know it, and I’m not going to tax my system too much.

But it didn’t prevent me from having a good mooch around for a look at the decorations in the Place Charles de Gaulle. And I was right about one thing, in that they aren’t very inspiring this year. It seems to be merely the same stuff that has been here for the last ever so many years, just arranged differently.

But anyway I pushed on to the Railway Station for my tickets for next week. The clerk in the office was on her own so I asked her about the trains next week. At the moment, they are still running as advertised. Whether it stays like that, we shall see.

bad parking bmw bus station railway station Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOne thing that regular readers of this rubbish will recall is that pathetic parking takes up a lot of room on these pages.

Not so much recently – not (I hasten to add) because the situation has improved but because there is just so much of it that it’s become boring and even i’m fed up of it. But I couldn’t let a thing like this go by.

Right outside the railway station is the bus station. all of the long-distance buses (of which there are plenty) as well as the two service buses for the town come here and there are 4 bays. But this driver has decided that he’s allowed to park in one of them and the bus that goes in there can park elsewhere.

Of course, it’s a BMW and like Audi drivers, they consider that the rules of the road and of common courtesy don’t apply to them.

On the way up the hill I stuck my head in the newsagent’s. I’d heard that US Granville had made some club facemasks and the newsagent was selling them. These are tough times and we have to do what we can to help things along right now, and so I bought one to wear when I’m in Belgium.

At La Vie Claire they had Seitan slices so I bought two ridiculously expensive packs and then went round to LIDL for the shopping. I bought most of what I needed but shock! horror! no Brussels sprouts. How do you have Christmas without Brussels sprouts?

Luckily I still have some frozen ones for the meals on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, but it’s going to be touch and go after that.

christmas market kddies roundabout place generale de gaulle Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOn my way back into town again I went past the Place Generale De Gaulle again.

There’s quite a lot going on in there now that wasn’t happening earlier. They seem to be setting up some kind of Christmas market in the Square, although that doesn’t look much like Christmas goodies to me.

But at least the kiddies’ roundabout was working and entertaining some clients. And that’s good news because Christmas is all about children anyway and they ought to be making the most of it while they are still young enough.

seafood stall rue du port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere’s a fresh seafood stall on the harbour every Friday morning selling the stuff that his boat has landed that morning. But with Friday being Christmas Day it looks as if he’s having his stall a day earlier to cash in on the Christmas trade.

And quite right too. Even though I don’t eat animal products, it’s up to others what they do and there is nothing at all quite like fresh food of any description.

So having caught my breath, for I was carrying some quite heavy shopping, I carried on back home where I had a slice of my fruit bread and a mug of hot chocolate.

And then, shame as it is to say it, I crashed out good and proper on my chair. It was late-ish when I returned from the shops but even so, it was 13:30 when I awoke, feeling like total death yet again. This is what I meant earlier when I said that I wasn’t too good right now. It’s just not possible at the moment for me to live a normal life like this and it’s dismaying me very much.

So at lunch, I’d run out of bread so I set about making some more. Not the sourdough this time but a real loaf. I want to see how my technique is doing and to see if the fault about my sourdough not rising is because of me or the sourdough.

And so I bashed out a quick 500-gramme dough mix with yeast and several handfuls of sunflower seeds and left it on one side to see what it would do.

storm at sea baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBy now it was walkies time so I set out into the wild blue yonder.

And wild was hardly the word either. The wind has shifted around and we now have a nor’easter instead of a sou’wester as we had yesterday. So if you thought that the Bay of Granville was turbulent yesterday, you ought to have seen it this afternoon. There hasn’t been anything quite like this for a considerable period of time and I bet that the boys in Thora and Normandy Trader are glad that they are tucked up safe and sound in the harbour in St Helier.

It was enough to make me want to join them but the journey across to Jersey would be extremely uncomfortable right now.

brittany coast Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere were hordes of people out there this afternoon, everyone having a pre-Christmas walk I reckon and making the most of the lack of rain (for the moment at least).

And if you are able to peer underneath the clouds, it was the kind of afternoon where the visibility was so impressive and you could see a very long great distance down the coast. Cap Frehel and its lighthouse were just about visible with the naked eye over to the right on this photo.

We’ve had some good shots of Cap Frehel in the past, better than this one of course, but it’s not every day that it’s visible with the naked eye

rainstorm brittany coast Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallJust a little earlier I taked about the lack of rain – “at the moment” – and I said that for a reason.

While I was scanning along the Brittany coast with the camera, I noticed a strange phenomenon out there in certain places so I photographed it for a closer look to see what it might be. And back here in the comfort and warmth of my apartment I determined that it was actually a rainstorm out there.

Of course, as I said earlier, the wind is blowing in the wrong direction for us to be bothered about it right now, but the wind is a highly volatile and uncertain beast and can change direction at any given moment.

sunset cancale brittany coast Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallHaving taken my photographs I walked off across the lawn and the car park (almost being squidged by a motorist reversing out of a parking place) down to the end of the headland.

Once more, there are no boats out there in the bay but we do have this beautiful sunset, an excellent example of which you have already seen. And here’s another really good view of Cancale across the Baie de Mont St Michel, lit up as if it was on a stage and they had switched on the spotlights.

Far too many people about for me to break into a run this afternoon so I walked off down the path instead.

st pair sur mer baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallWe saw just now how churned up the sea was around the north side of the headland with this raging nor’easter.

Nothing could have been a greater contrast than the sea down on the southern side of the headland by the port. Whereas yesterday we had a raging storm with waves crashing over the sea wall, today the sea seems to be almost becalmed.

Actually, it isn’t but that was how it was looking this afternoon especially after yesterday.

But that was enough for me anyway, I had a peek in at the chantier navale to see that there was no change whatever there, and then carried on home for a hot coffee and a mince pie. And delicious, if a bit sweet and sickly.

And the bread had risen like a lift. I’d never had it go up quite like this before. It was so impressive. I gave it a good squeezing to let the gases out and then shaped it and put it in its bread mould, covering it with a damp tea-towel.

And now I have a little Christmas present for you all. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that my friend Liz and I produced a series of programmes for several local radio stations in the Auvergne under the “Radio Anglais” banner back in those days.

While I was looking around for something I came across one of the Christmas Specials that we did, so I’ve uploaded it to the internet FOR YOU ALL TO LISTEN TO OVER CHRISTMAS with much love and best wishes from me.

Don’t take too long in listening to it because I need the space on my server so I’ll be taking it down again after a week or so. So you’ll probably be better off downloading it onto your own machine. Or, if you make your next Amazon purchase via the links on the right and I receive a small commission on the deal, I can buy more space.

While I was at guitar practice I had the oven warming up and I slipped the loaf of bread in there at a suitable moment along with a potato and, later on, a slice of frozen home-made pie.

rue st jean Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAfter the guitar, it was time for evening walkies. And with the wind now blowing in the opposite direction from yesterday, it was the outward journey that caused me more problems than just a few.

In fact, I had to abort the trip along the Rue du Nord and seek shelter within the narrow streets of the old town by dodging down an alley way. We’ve seen plenty of photos of the Rue St Jean in our time but we haven’t seen one from this viewpoint. The Place Cambernon is just down there at the bottom and the Porte St Jean which we have photographed on several occasions is right down there at the end out of the picture.

And if you look up at the top you can see the spire of the Eglise Notre Dame du Cap Lihou all illuminated.

rue st jean Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut I’m not going that way. I’m going in this direction down towards the Place de l’Isthme.

We took a photo of the street from the Place de L’Isthme a few weeks ago and so I reckoned that I should take one back up to the place where I was at the time, just for the record. And then I set off for a run along there all the way to the end of the street.

As I emerged into the open square at the end I was hit by a huge blast of wind that brought me to a dead stop, and I’m not surprised because it was wild.

baie de mont st michel brittany coast Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThat was enough to make me not want to hang around any longer out of doors – especially now that it had started to rain as well, And so I went down ste steps to the Place Maurice Marland and ran on home.

But up on the walls the night was looking so beautiful despite the rain, so I took a photo of the harbour, the Baie de Mont St Michel and all of the lights out there twinkling away on the Brittany coast. It was all looking quite magical tonight and I’ve no idea why.

But that’s enough of my waxing lyrical for the moment. It’s time I was at home tucking into the tea.

home made bread place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhile my veg was cooking (endives, broccoli, leeks and carrots) I had a look at the bread to see how it was doing.

It had risen quite a lot while it was sitting for its second proofing, but in the oven it’s not done too much more. But as I took it out of its mould, part of it had stuck so I sampled it. And it was perfect, it really was. The best that I’ve made to date. There’s nothing wrong with my technique at all.

With the veg water I made a delicious gravy, and the whole lot was finished off with apple crumble with some soya dessert stuff. That was what I called a good tea.

So now it’s Christmas Day and I’ve written up my notes. I’m off to bed. A Merry Christmas to you all and I hope that Santa brings you lots of nice things, including, more important than presents, lots of love and good health. We’re living in hard times right now but at least we are living, and the joys of the internet mean that we can stay even closer all the same.

There’s our radio show to listen to and tomorrow night at 21:00 CET, 20:00 UK Time, 15:00 Montreal and Toronto time etc, there’s my Christmas broadcast on LE BOUQUET GRANVILLAIS. It’s a special live rock concert that I’ve spent some time preparing and I hope that you’ll enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed preparing it.

Best wishes from me.

Monday 1st June 2020 – WHAT STARTED OFF …

… as a really good day disintegrated pretty quickly into the usual chaotic mess and there’s now yet more stuff piled up in the queue of arrears to be dealt with.

boys jumping into sea plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallSo while you admire the photos of the young boys taking a giant step for mankind into the English Channel off the ramp at the Plat Gousset, I shall enlarge.

And I might even tell you about it too.

In fact, there was a hint if it all starting to go wrong last night when at about 23:15, halfway through writing up my notes, I was suddenly overwhelmed by fatigue.

That was the cue for me to call it a night and stagger off to bed. It wasn’t a worry because it’s happened before … “and it will happen again” – ed … and I’ll catch up with it soon enough.

boys jumping into sea plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallHowever, in what will come as a totaly surprise to just about everyone, I reckon, including me, I awoke with the first alarm and didn’t go back to sleep as I normally do.

As a matter of fact, when the third alarm went off I was in the kitchen mixing my morning cordial with which to take my medication.

And that’s not something that happens every day either, especially just recently.

boys jumping into the sea plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallNothing on the dictaphone either – I don’t seem to have gone anywhere during the night so it must have been a really solid sleep.

That meant that I could have a good half-hour or so on adding to my notes from yesterday before the medication worked and I could go to breakfast.

After breakfast I had tidying up to do because I was having visitors. It’s one good thing about having them, in that it does prompt me to clean up the place.

Sure enough, at 10:00, Laurent came round and we had a really good chat about all kinds of things and made a plan for a day out on Thursday. He knows of a few places that might interest me, like France’s answer to New Brunswick’s LePreau nuclear reactor, which is having a similar amount of success.

And if we take some potatoes with us, we can have fission chips for lunch.

After Laurent left there was a radio project to prepare.

Luckily I’d already done half a dozen live concerts in the past for another project when Liz and I ran “Radio Anglais” so I pinched one of those, wrote an introduction, dictated and edited it and merged it in to make an hour-long concert for this radio station.

Just like that!

yachts boat baie de mont st michel cancale brittany granville manche normandy france eric hallThat meant a very late lunch, unfortunately. And I was good and ready for it too by now.

It was a really beautiful afternoon, right enough, so I went outside and sat on my wall with my butties and my book. With the air being so clear these days we could wee right across to Cancale over there on the Brittany coast.

That’s about 18 miles away as the crow flies, yet you would never ever think so by looking at the photo.

fishing boats trawler baie de mont st michel port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallThe tide was coming in quite rapidly as I sat there. I could actually see it rising before my very eyes.

As a result one lot of fishing boats was heading out of the harbour to go to work while an earlier wave of boats was on its way back in to unload the morning’s catch.

There was the usual pile of pleasure boats too. Perhaps I ought to mention that it’s a Bank Holiday today and many people are off work.

Back here I made a start on the second week of my Accountancy course – but not for very long because it was time to go for my afternoon walk.

cabin cruiser marker buoy english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallWith it being such a beautiful day, there were the usual crowds out there.

This cabin cruiser was sitting in the sea quite a long way out and if I possessed a boat I would be out there too in this kind of weather.

There’s another one of those marker buoys there too, over there to the right of the boat. It’s hard to see because it’s black, and that’s not the best colour to have in the sea because it’s pretty difficult to see.

What’s wrong with yellow or orange?

people on beach plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallIt goes without saying that in this weather and a Bank Holiday too there are the usual crowds on the beach.

That means that in order to escape the madding crowds, people have to go further and further into the crooks and nannies in order to find some peace and quiet. And it doesn’t get much more isolated than the spot that they have chosen.

As an aside … “here we go!” – ed … I once told a friend that I had gone into the country to get a little piece and quiet.
“Don’t you mean ‘peace’?” he asked.
“No” I replied. “I mean ‘piece’, and I got one too, but she just wouldn’t keep quiet”

swimmer english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallStanding on the clifftop overlooking the sea I fell in with a neighbour of mine who was busy admiring the scenery

We spent quite a long time admiring the scenery and putting the world to rights, like you do. And our discussion was interrupted by the arrival of Captain Matthew Webb. Not exactly “swimming along the old canal”
“That carried the bricks to Lawley” though.

He was probably “paying a call at Dawley Bank on the way to his destination” but somehow missed his turning along the route.

crowds on beach plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallWe mantioned earlier something about the crowds on the beach and the necessity to find a quiet corner.

But there aren’t any crowds on the beach right now, and for the simple reason is that there isn’t much of a beach for them to be crowding on.

The tide is still well in and in a few minutes even that little bit of beach will be awash with water. Not that it’s stopping all of those people from taking to the waters. It was the right kind of day for it.

roofing place marechal foch granville manche normandy france eric hallRound at the lookout over the Place Marechal Foch I went to see how they were progressing with the re-roofing.

And the answer is “not as quickly as I was expecting”. They have done about two thirds of it and they have put some fancy galvanised covering over the dormer windows. But there is still plenty to do.

However it’s looking like a very neat job and it will be somethign to admire when it’s finished, sure enough.

yacht keeling over baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france eric hallThis was interesting too. I wasn’t sure what was going on with this particular yacht but, sensing that there was a catastrophe in the making, I stood there with bated breath and the camera at the ready.

But I was to be confounded yet again because the crew on board the yacht managed to straighten out the boat after making their very tight turn and sailed off into the sunset.

Or, at least, they would have done had this event taken place a couple of hours later.

But I was impressed with how they managed to get their boat upright again.

yacht boat towing dinghy baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france eric hallThere was plenty of other maritime activity out there this afternoon too.

There were the usual yachts of course, several of which we have seen already, but this boat that was slowly chugging past looked to be very interesting. I wasn’t sure whether it was a yacht with its mast down or a streamlined cabin cruiser, but it was making comfortable progress even if it was towing its dinghy behind it.

As for me, I had to make comfortable progress and came back to make myself a coffee.

There was also my Accountancy course to attack, but shame as it is to say it, I crashed out on the chair. Not just for five or ten minutes either but a really deep 45 minutes the like of which I used to have when this illness first took hold and which I thought that I had shaken off.

That’s a tragedy because I have so much to do and I’m just getting farther and farther behind.

When it came round to 18:00 I was still somewhere else in my head but I managed to get myself together and spend the usual hour on the guitars.

Tea was a stuffed pepper and rice, followed by apple pie and soya coconut cream.

cap frehel brittany coast granville manche normandy france eric hallAnd then it was time to go out for my evening runs.

With not feeling too goo, every step was agony but I made it all the way round on my normal route. But at the clifftop I had to stop and take a photo of the spectacular view.

And just why it’s spectacular is that over there is, I reckon, Cap Fréhel on the Brittany coast and that’s just a little over 70 kms away. It’s not every day that you can see that far down the coast from up here, and I had to perch up on top of one of the old Atlantic Wall bunkers to make the shot work.

joly france ferry terminal port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallRound by the ferry terminal was my next port of call.

Both of the Joly France boats are moored up at the ferry terminal this evening. I did hear that there had been excursions over to the Ile de Chausey today.

But Chausiais has at long last moved from her ad-hoc temporary mooring against the harbour wall. And not before time either, as far as I’m concerned. We’ve seen how quickly the tide rises and falls here and where she was, she risked being dashed against the wall, and that wouldn’t have done her much good.

chausiais port de granville habour manche normandy france eric hallSo I ran on down the Boulevard Vaufleury, ignoring a ribald remark that was directed in my direction, and when I’d recovered my breath at my resting place, I went down to overlook the harbour to see what was going on.

As usual, nothing very much, but at least we know where Chausiais has got to. She’s back on her mooring spot in the inner harbour where she’s out of the way of other traffic and the rising tide.

So having recovered my breath I ran on back all the way up the hill to the viewpoint at the rue du Nord to see what was happening there.

picnickers plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallAnd the answer to that is “not very much”.

But my picnickers are still out there having fun. And I’m sure that they must be multiplying because there are more and more of them.

Having made sure that there was nothing else happing I ran on home to write out my notes.

Having done that, I’m off to bed. I have more visitors tomorrow morning and there’s my Welsh class. And then one of these days I really do need to do somethign about all of these arrears.

This backlog is just getting out of hand. Its ridiculous.

Sunday 12th January 2020 – THAT GUY HAD …

helicopter place d'armes pointe du roc granville manche normandy france eric hall… his chopper out again today.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that he flew past me at a height of about 10 feet a few weeks ago and I snapped a good shot of him as he went by.

Today, wherever he went to back then, he’s on his way back now. It’s not as good a photo as the last one as the camera wasn’t set up properly and I had to take the shot on the … errr … fly … “ohh well done!” – ed … but nevertheless, here we are.

And here I am too, on a Sunday, having to work. This blasted translation thing, for which I know about half of it at least will go straight into the bin and I’m not very impressed.

And they day got off to a miserable start too. I awoke at about 09:30 but no intention of leaving the bed at that time. 10:45 was when I finally arose and that was the morning effectively done.

First thing was the medication of course, and then I had a look at the dictaphone

I was with a group of soldiers who had been captured in World War II and we’d been herded off into a prison camp by the Germans. It was in a barn, this camp, and had been converted very roughly with wire beds, that kind of thing in it, very dirty, very horrible place to be, no toilets in each of the rooms and so on. The commandant of one of the rooms decided that he was going to escape so he arranged to be sent into solitary confinement, a tiny little box room stuck at the back of a shower from which it was possible for him to get out. Someone smuggled in a key to him that he used as a lever to cut the electricity in order to escape under cover of darkness. We had our meal there that morning and I’d met one or two people and talked to one person, found out that he was in my cell thing so we went back to the cell. Then someone else came into the cell, another British guy, to complain that one of the guards wants the commandant to stop this person singing “he must be a night-time guard” he said. We said “the CO’s not here now – he’s in the shower room so the guy went off into the shower room and started to shout the CO’s name. In the end the CO replied, obviously really upset at being shouted at mid-escape like this. In the end we went back to our cell. It was evening meal time and this guy friend of mine I noticed was already in the queue with his plate. It looked like old roast potatoes and meat of some description so I went to ge tmy plate to join them although I wasn’t very happy about having the meat of course. Yes, there were no toilets in each of the cells and in one all of the ill people were there and a load of people with dysentery and it must have been hell for the people in there, I thought but that was when I awoke, when I was going to get my meal.

Breakfast next, and I tried the surviving glass bowl (the one that didn’t go in the microwave) and that seemed to be much better. I’ll pick up a couple more of those – they are much more like the things that I want for cereal and desserts and so on.

There were a few things that I wanted to do this morning. First thing was to update the Radio Anglais “A La Pointe Du Rock” playlist. After all, you never know. Someone might want to buy an album and that will be an extra €0:16 in my coffers, which will go a long way towards paying for my web-hosting fees, wont it?

Which reminds me – if you appreciate the efforts that I’m making, don’t forget to make your next Amazon purchases via one of the links aside. It doesn’t cost you any extra but I receive a small commission on the sale.

After that, I had a couple of web pages to update. They have suddenly become quite topical, for a variety of reasons, and they were still in the “old” format that I have been changing (or, at least, I was changing until I became overwhelmed with work).

Anyway, they are now in the current format and quite right too.

joly france port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallAfter that it was almost lunchtime. They will be back at work at the railway station in half an hour so now it’s time to be moving.

The tide was out so the harbour gates were closed so the path over the top was accessible so I went to see what was happening. And there was Joly France, moored in the position where I would expect to see Granville and Victor Hugo.

It looks therefore if they are going to be away for some time.

chausiais joly france port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallHowever, something that is not going to be away for quite a while is our new friend Chausiais.

She’s been missing from the port for a few days as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, but now she’s back, tied up over there to the other Chausey Ferry, Joly France II. So that’s all the full complement back in place.

It’s still something that’s intriguing me, wondering why she’s here and where she goes.

chantier port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallA little further on along the docks I was interrupted in my thoughts by something else that caught my eye.

There’s a chantier – a work site – being created here with this little compound, a storage skip and some machinery. That’s something else for me to keep an eye on as I go past here – to find out what they are going to be doing.

Off now up the hill to the station. It was open (which was a surprise after yesterday) and it was the same woman with whom I had that big dispute the other day.

However, this time she was quite amenable and it was a shame that she couldn’t have been this pleasant the other day.

No real problem changing my tickets for Monday 27th, except for one issue.
“I can’t put you on the 08:13” she said. “That’s more expensive and you’ll have to pay a supplement. The train at 07:33 however is the same price as yours …”

Now, regular readers of this rubbish will recall that at moments like this, I might begin to lose my self-composure. The terms and conditions laid out in the documentation that I have clearly state “you can change your ticket … at no extra cost”.

However, regular readers of this rubbish will also recall that when I did my famous TRAVERSEE DE PARIS (without Bourvil to carry my suitcase) IT TOOK ME 90 MINUTES on foot in no particular hurry to do the 7 kilometres.

I might be faced with the same issues again – i.e. the lack of Metro, and the earlier train gives me 1 hour 50 minutes to cross the city.

Admittedly I’m not in the same good health that I was back then, but if I put my mind to it, I should be able to make it on foot in time if the trains run to the timetable.

Of course, it might be that the train to Granville is cancelled, but that’s a bridge that I’ll cross when I come to it.

erection d'un chapiteau parc de val es fleurs boulevard louis dior granville manche normandy france eric hallJust for a change I came back a different way – around the office blocks and down the steps at the back to the Parc De Val Es Fleurs.

And it looks as if there is going to be something exciting going on here to in due course. There are “no waiting” signs aound all over the place and a few notices talking about the “erection of a chapiteau” – a marquee.

That’s something else to investigate in due course.

collapsing wall boulevard louis dior granville manche normandy france eric hallIt’s amazing, when I take a walk along a road that I’ve not walked for a while, what else I noticed.

Here in the Boulevard Louis Dior right by the abandoned dockyard railway line, there’s this huge stone reinforcing wall that looks in a very precarious, dangerous condition.

One of the props has snapped too, as you can see in the photo. I don’t reckon that that wall will be there for long unless they do something about it quite quickly

marking on road rue des moulins granville manche normandy france eric hallStrange goings-on in the rue des Moulins too.

For some reason or other they have been painting a series of numbers in pink paint along the road. There are three rows of numbers, in consecutive order, all along the street and they don’t seem to bear any relation to anything else.

That’s yet another thing to investigate in due course.

Anyway, having picked up my bread at la Mie Caline, I headed back to the apartment for lunch, bumping into a neighbour on the way.

It was such a nice day that I was really tempted to go and sit outside but I had far too much work to do. I just had a quick butty and started on the translation.

We had the afternoon walk of course, where I met the helicopter, but that was about it really. The walk was good but I pushed on rapidly and came back for some more work.

At least, that was the plan but rather regrettably I … err .. closed my eyes for a while. A proper full-blown crash-out too. I awoke half-way through and I remember thinking to myself that this just isn’t any good at all

Tea was a vegan pizza of course, cooked to perfection, I have to say and it was delicious. There was a rice pudding a-doing too, because the Christmas Cake is almost gone.

All alone on my evening walk tonight too. No-one else around. And I had my run, such as it was.

Now I’m going to have another half-hour on this blasted translation and then go to bed. Another session tomorrow morning after breakfast and I might have done about half of it. Whether it’s the half that ends up in the bin or not, I really don’t know.

Wednesday 25th December 2019 – MERRY CHRISTMAS …

… to all my readers!

usually in the past I’ve inserted some kind of reference to Crewe Bus Station in here but I stopped doing that a while back because everyone was becoming bored with the same old thing.

But these days, seeing as I have many new readers, especially from the other side of the Atlantic who wouldn’t understand the significance, I reckon I should tell it again.

The most significant place where I saw this written was on the wall of the public convenience in Crewe Bus Station, and I noticed it while I was admiring the … err … unusual artwork on the walls.

In fact it was studying the unusual artwork that helped me gain a good pass in my General Certificate in Education. It went into far more detail and was much more useful than anything I had ever learnt in Biology class at school.

It was also at the Public Conveniences in Crewe Bus Station where I dashed in one evening after a heavy night on the Boddington’s at the Lion and Swan.
“Phew!” I exclaimed. “Just made it!”.
The guy standing next to me had a quick glance and said “Blimey! Can you make me one like it?”

Yes, the old ones are the best, aren’t they?

Anyway, I hope that you had a very good Christmas and that Santa brought you everything that you deserve.

night sluice gates port de granville harbour manche normandy franceSo where was I and what was I doing at midnight then?

The answer is “admiring the sluice out of the inner wet harbour in the port”. Yes, I did say that I was going for a prowl around the town at midnight to see what was happening there.

The tide was well out and as the harbour gates were closed, I walked over the footway on top to the other side of the harbour.

charles marie aztec lady victor hugo port de granville harbour manche normandy franceFrom the footway there was a good view of the boats in the harbour and many of our old friends are there tonight.

From left to right we have Granville and Victor Hugo, the two ferries that run the service to the Channel islands from here, then Aztec Lady in the centre, who we saw for weeks up on blocks in the Chantier Navale just recently.

Nearest the camera in the right foreground, wrapped up in her winter attire, is Charles-Marie.

There is the odd fishing boat or two thrown in for good measure.

night old town port de granville harbour manche normandy franceMy wanderings took me down alongside the harbour.

Across the other side of the water the rue du Port and the old Medieval walled city were looking quite nice.

It’s the kind of view that would make a really good picture postcard view if I could just get the colour balance right.

night christmas lights rue lecampion granville manche normandy france15 minutes I’d been out before I met my first human.

Walking along the rue Lecampion was I, taking a photo of the street lights, when someone came round the corner towards me. He rattled the handles of a couple of bars in the street (to no avail) and then disappeared up an alleyway and that was that.

As for me, I carried on along the way home and haf-way up the rue des Juifs I encountered my second and third people. As you can see, France is nothing like the UK on Christmas Eve.

Back here, I had an alcohol-free beer out of the stock and then changed the strings on the Ibanez acoustic bass. Happy Christmas to the bass – it could do with some new strings and it sounds so much better now.

On that … err … note I went to bed.

No alarm in the morning, so waking up at 04:00 was not part of the plan. Neither was waking up at 07:00. Or 09:30. 10:45 is a much more realistic time to haul myself out of bed on Christmas Day.

And despite the length of time that I was in the arms of Morpheus, I can only remember some guy standing in s stream having a water-fight with an elephant, and the elephant playfully knocking him over into the water with his trunk a few times. And then the guy walking off down along the stream.

At breakfast we had a crisis. I had my fig roll as an extra, but the jam – well, I hadn’t checked it for ages and it’s one of those jams that doesn’t have anything in it to preserve it once it’s opened.

So it went in the bin and I had to have my fig roll dry.

home made lemon and ginger drink place d'armes granville manche normandy franceOnce breakfast was over, I turned my attention to more exciting things.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I’m changing things around in my life just now. I’ve stopped buying fizzy drinks in bottles and I’ve started to make my own soft drinks.

A couple of days ago I started to prepare a lemon and ginger drink and here it is, in the drinks dispenser that I bought the other day from LIDL.

Three lemons and a small ginger root peeled and sliced up really small, and then boiled up in water that just covers them and then an inch over.

After 10 minutes, set to simmer for an hour or so, and the moment it comes off the boil, a couple of tablespoons of honey added.

Left to chill for a coupe of days and then sieve to remove the lumps, add to the drinks dispenser and fill up with water.

Meanwhile, go through the process again with the lemon and ginger that was sieved out. That’ll be ready in a couple of days and after that I’ll try something else.

But it’s very refreshing – and very gingery too! Maybe somewhat less ginger next time.

For the rest of the day I didn’t do very much at all. Just chilled out and chatted to a few people on the internet. It was nice to catch up with friends.

No lunch either. A couple of slices of the fig and raisin bread and a nibble on stuff here and there.

And while I was mooching around, I came across one of our old Christmas Specials from the days when I used to run Radio Anglais.

Liz and I used to have a great laugh doing these and it’s a shame that my health can’t keep up with things now. I could dash off a programme like that in a couple of hours back in those days, but not now!

speedboat english channel granville manche normandy franceSomewhat later than usual, I went for my afternoon perambulation around the headland.

And while I was standing on the cliff overlooking the sea admiring the naval craft going by, I fell in with Xavier, one of the people from my new employers and we had a chat for a little while.

And then I pushed on – or pushed off, as the case may be.

yacht baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy franceThe speedboat wasn’t the only thing out there this afternoon enjoying the weather.

Whilst there wasn’t much going on in the way of commercial traffic today, there was a fair bit of pleasure traffic. A couple of yachts, one of which was this one, were sailing around in the Baie de Mont St Michel.

They obligingly posed for me, which was nice of them.

bricked up tunnel pointe du roc granville manche normandy franceHere’s something that I haven’t noticed before. Well, I have, but I’ve not paid it any attention until today.

At first glance it loks like a rock face, and not just a pretty rock face either. On closer inspection, it looks as if it’s the mouth of a tunnel that’s been bricked up.

And that’s got me all curious. I wonder what it was and where it went. I shall have to look into it.

spirit of conrad chantier navale port de granville harbour manche normandy franceI’d gone the long way round, in case you hadn’t realised, down the new bit of path and along the old road.

This route brings me out by the Chantier Navale where I could see Spirit of Conrad still stuck up on her ramps, with a fishing boat for company.

One thing that I was hoping to do was to have an update on the former and a description of the work to be carried out on the latter but as you might expect, there was no-one about.

My route took me right into town and then round a couple of back streets before making for home. And depressing as it is to recount, there was absolutely nothing going on at all in town. A few people about, but wandering aimlessly around, like me.

Back here, I carried on doing very little until tea time. And then I attacked the food.

First thing was to cut up some potatoes into cubes, coat them with olive oil and put them in the oven to roast.

Then a seitan slice with gravy put likewise in the oven.

chrismas dinner seitan vegetables roast potatoes brussels sprouts endives granville manche normandy franceSome veg, including leeks (I like to have a leek with my Christmas meal), and endive and some Brussels sprouts (not Lincolnshire sprouts of course, the sad, pathetic fools), and what is Christmas without Brussels sprouts, cooked properly?

And here you are, one Christmas dinner. Cooked to perfection.

And take my word for it. The meal really was delightful. I enjoyed it very much, as you might expect and I’ll be going back for more.

christmas cake place d'armes granville manche normandy franceAs for pudding, well of course it should have been Christmas pudding but I was running terribly late.

And in any case, I had something else planned. My Christmas present from Liz and Terry is, as always, a vegan Christmas cake. And so for pudding tonight I had a slice of that.

And that was just as good as it usually is.

It was cold and windy tonight on my somewhat late walk. And no-one around either. I didn’t see a soul.

No photos – it was too cold to go hunting for anything special to photograph – but I did manage my run, even if it was only just.

And with the fitbit showing 93%, I went and did another lap around to reach the 100% marker. At least it’s pushing me onwards, this fitbit.

It’s now 02:55 – no surprise seeing as I had a very long lie-in this morning. I’ve been doing nothing since I came back, and I’ve only just finished writing up my journal.

So now it’s bed time. I wonder what time I’ll wake up tomorrow.

And I hope that you had a good day today.

night old town port de granville harbour manche normandy france
night old town port de granville harbour manche normandy france

night old town port de granville harbour manche normandy france
night old town port de granville harbour manche normandy france

night christmas lights rue du port old town port de granville harbour manche normandy france
night old town port de granville harbour manche normandy france

yacht baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france
yacht baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france

Monday 4th November 2019 – I’M BACK …

… in business!

This morning I took my completed project up to the weekly meeting of this organisation. I mentioned that I didn’t think all that much of what I had done but they were delighted, saying that it’s better than they expected.

And so I have the green light to go.

But go where? I hear you say. And I reply that you’ll find out on Friday evening at about 21:00 CET, 20:00 UK time, 15:00 EST etc etc.

Last night was a pretty late night and I’m not quite sure why because it wasn’t if I had anything special to do. Nevertheless, I still staggered out of bed before the third alarm, for which I am grateful.

Even so, there was plenty of time to go off on a nocturnal ramble. Back on board a ship again last night with two certain people who might (or might not) have been representing Castor and Pollux. We were having some kind of drawing thing, we had to draw something and label it. I was drawing something about the cliffs and the sea, that kind of thing and I was wondering about other people – like these two for example, I was wondering about what what they were doing because theirs didn’t seem to bear any resemblance to what was being asked at all. They had some strange figures that looked like girls and I wondered why they had included those in the drawing when there was no real need to. And it was all in blue too in this dream and I’ve no idea why, everything was in the colour blue (like some of my photos on that trip).

After the medication and breakfast I had a shower and cleaned myself up somewhat, then added yesterday’s photos to the blog and transcribed some dictaphone notes before heading off for my meeting.

On the way back, I called at LIDL and spent a lot of money. Mostly on a thermal ski undershirt seeing as the ski gear is now in the shops. If ever I get back to the Arctic (which is unlikely) it will come in handy.

They had carrots at a give-away price of e0:69 per kilo so I bought a kilo and I’m going to make some more carrot soup. But with less ginger this time.

And I learnt something exciting today too.

Last year in September I was in a town in North Greenland called Uummannaaq and I met a couple of people there. Subsequently I met two others when I was on my travels.

And to my surprise, a couple of them will actually be in Granville in a couple of weeks’ time, playing some music on stage at the local theatre. There were a few tickets left too, so I roped in Liz and Terry and bought some tickets.

It’s been a while since I went out for an evening.

After lunch, I finished off today’s load of dictaphone entries and then went off for a walk.

weird sunlight ile de chausey granville manche normandy franceFirst thing that I noticed was some weird lighting effect on the sea over to the Ile de Chausey.

It’s difficult to know what’s going on with that. It could be just the way that the low autuln sunlight is shining through a few holes in the clouds.

But it gave the whole thing a really surreal vista, as if we are about to be visited by something from Outer Space.

That is, if we haven’t already had visitors therefrom. I’ve no idea where they find THESE people.

At first I thought “you cannot be Sirius”, but on reflection I’m not ruling this out completely. After all, I’ve always said that anyone supporting Brexit must be living on a different planet to the one on which the rest of us are living.

helicopter granville manche normandy franceAnd while I was musing on the foregoing, I really DID think that I was about to be visited by beings from Outer Space

But the noise that I heard coming from the air behind me was in fact from a helicopter. Someone has got their chopper out by the looks of things and they were flying pretty low round the headland.

Whatever they might have been looking for, they didn’t find it. Instead, they flew off down the coast in the direction of Mont St Michel

seagull photobomb baie de mont st michel pointe de carolles granville manche normandy franceBeaten and battered by Storm Amelie, I staggered on around the headland and, for a change just recently, there was a really good view across to the Pointe de Carolles.

Such a nice view in fact that I went to photograph it and was the victim of a delightful photo-bomb from a seagull.

It’s not the first time that I’ve had an intruder in one of my photos, but it’s certainly one of the best and closest encounters that I’ve had. I hope that he doesn’t want royalties.

storm high winds tempete amelie port de granville harbour manche normandy franceAs I said just now, the storm is raging just as violently as it has done these last few days.

The tide is a long way from being right in, but nevertheless you can see what the waves are doing – sending their spray right up and over the sea wall into the tidal harbour.

It’s surely no coincidence that there are no pedestrians out there strolling around on the wall. The wouldn’t need a shower at all.

On that note I went back to the apartment and much to my surprise I actually ran up one of the flights of steps. And I haven’t done that for years. I must be doing a little better than I have been, and I wonder if this new medication might have anything to do with it.

The time until tea was spent working on this project and trying to organise myself (a hopeless task). I have to focus myself much more now that people are expecting things from me and relying on me to do things. They clearly don’t know me very well yet.

Tea was a stuffed pepper (with plenty of stuffing left for taco rolls) and spice rice followed by rice pudding. The pepper was sourced from a different supplier today and was thicker-skinned, so it hadn’t cooked as well as they usually do, which was a shame. But the stuffing was delicious.

This evening I was on my own for my walk around the walls. Hardly surprising seeing as the rain, which had held off for most of the day, decided to let go about 30 seconds after I put my foot outside.

Brigitte was just coming in so we had a little chat.

And as for my run, I fell well short tonight. Like 100 metres short. I blame all the rice myself, but trying to run headlong into a howling gale didn’t help matters much.

Now before going to bed I’m going to listen to some music and do some web page updating before I’m going to bed. I haven’t done any today yet and I really must crack on.

storm high winds tempete amelie port de granville harbour manche normandy france
storm high winds tempete amelie port de granville harbour manche normandy france

storm high winds tempete amelie port de granville harbour manche normandy france
storm high winds tempete amelie port de granville harbour manche normandy france

storm high winds tempete amelie port de granville harbour manche normandy france
storm high winds tempete amelie port de granville harbour manche normandy france

storm high winds tempete amelie port de granville harbour manche normandy france
storm high winds tempete amelie port de granville harbour manche normandy france

storm high winds tempete amelie port de granville harbour manche normandy france
storm high winds tempete amelie port de granville harbour manche normandy france

storm high winds tempete amelie port de granville harbour manche normandy france
storm high winds tempete amelie port de granville harbour manche normandy france

storm high winds tempete amelie port de granville harbour manche normandy france
storm high winds tempete amelie port de granville harbour manche normandy france

storm high winds tempete amelie port de granville harbour manche normandy france
storm high winds tempete amelie port de granville harbour manche normandy france

Monday 28th October 2019 – FOR PUDDING TONIGHT …

… I had some tinned fruit salad with some of that coconut cream stuff that I like.

And that can only mean one thing – and that is that today I went to the LeClerc supermarket.

And how did I do that seeing as Caliburn isn’t as yet mobile? The answer is rather simple. I walked.

But let’s not go getting ahead of ourselves here. Let’s put things in their correct order.

We started off with the three alarms as usual and I fell out of bed about 20 minutes after the final call. That’s not bad going these days, although I really would like to be out of bed maybe 20 minutes before the last call rather than 20 minutes after.

Even though the night hadn’t been as early as I would have liked, there was still plenty of time to go on a little ramble or two during the night.

I can’t remember now exactly where I was when I started off but it certainly was somewhere, and I needed to get home. I had to buy a lot of things and I was wondering how I was going to spread my money out to do this sort of thing. One of the things that I could do would be to leave my monthly ticket on the tram until the very last thing. So I was walking over to somewhere to do something or other and I saw a tram that went halfway around the ring road. I thought “God I need to get on that”. But then I thought “never mind. I can always get on the next one”. I ended up back in the office again and went down into the administration area to check on something, and noticed that the map on the wall was no longer there. Where has the map of the city gone? How am I supposed to know my way around without any reference to the map of the city? Someone else came in so I asked them “where has the map of the city gone?”. This person replied that it hadn’t been there for a while. I said that it was here earlier this morning. They replied that it wasn’t, so we had a “yes – no interlude” until I awoke.
Back asleep two minutes later I was getting ready to go on holiday and I got one of my cars ready. First of all I had to go and pick up Alison from her market stall. So off I went. She was selling cloth and was ready to pack up so I started to pack up for her, got everything ready and drover her back home. I went home again and started to get all my stuff ready and had to pick her up at about 22:00 when she finished her next market stall that night. So round about 21:45 although hadn’t finished packing, but it was only a 5 or 10 minute job that needed doing. So I said to the person with me that I’d go and pick up Alison and then come back and have 5 hours sleep, then I can get up and arrange everything and we can get off. This girl was astonished that I had got ready so quickly and I was quite pleased as well. She asked if five hours sleep would be enough, and what about the heavy stuff? I replied that I could get that into the car myself. She asked if anything needed working, to which I replied that I could do that when we are on the road – it’s no big deal. She was pleased and would tell Hans that we were ready. From there I went to work and parked my car somewhere and what I had to do – I went in a different car to pick up Alison as I probably needed the space and I could come back to the office afterwards, park this car and take mine home, and take the third car away in the morning. But when I got to the market stall Alison wasn’t there, and there were four women in her place selling tea and biscuits. Without thinking, I went to clamber over the stall, but it suddenly occurred to me, by the way that they were shouting and waving, that it wasn’t very strong and I might break it. So I had to climb back again. But they asked this boy a really weird question, and he actually got it right. That made me think about Champollion (…I’d been reading about him during the day as it happens …) the 11 year old genius. Everyone was pleased that this boy had got it right and he was beaming. Suddenly Alsion appeared again, so I told her that I was nearly ready but she said that she had a lot to do so we started to pack up her stall and that was when the alarms dragged me into the daylight.

First port of call was the medication of course and then it was breakfast time. And once I’d dealt with that and doe a few things that needed doing, I went off for a shower, a change of clothes and a clean-up.

At 09:00 I hit the streets in the rainstorm (and luckily I haven’t managed to lose my yellow rainjacket quite yet) and headed off all the way across town to the Centre Agora in the Quartier St Nicolas. That’s the building where people go when they don’t have access to the internet, so they can use the computers and internet there, and it’s a kind of social centre and advice bureau.

Quite a few years ago now, I was involved in a project in the Auvergne and it was one of the things that was abandoned when I became ill. But the world is far too small for my liking, as I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … and when someone formerly from Clermont-Ferrand and now living in Granville came across my name and the fact that I too am now living in Granville and may be able to help him out, a meeting was inevitable, I suppose.

But as for what it might be, one must jamais vendre le peau d’ours avant de l’avoir tué as they say around here, and there will be more of this subject anon.

Seeing as I was about halfway there, I decided to trudge on in the rainstorm and make my way to LeClerc. I had a good lap around the supermarket and bought some stuff to make more meals. They had the burgers that I like and also some of that thin brick pastry. I’d seen Rachel using that to make some vegetable samosas which were pretty good, so no reason why I can’t have a go.

Back in the rain all the way home where I made myself a coffee and my and sat down to relax for a good while.

This afternoon I made more inroads into the dictaphone notes and that’s another 7 transcribed, including the two during the dictation of which I went back to sleep – in mid-dictate.

Tea tonight was a stuffed pepper with spicy rice and I do have to say that it was the best stuffed pepper that I have ever made. And I’m not sure why it’s different from any other stuffed pepper that I have made because it was made in exactly the same way.

And then the walk around the headland in the cold and wind. And another run too, although I didn’t manage as far as last night but that was because I was running up hill, I reckon. I need to learn to walk before I run, don’t I?

But the fitbit tells an interesting story (it’s still working despite the strap, lodged firmly in my trouser pocket). I’ve done … errr … 194% of my daily activity today and walked a total of 16.4 kilometres. That’s not bad for someone who is at death’s door with but a short time to live, is it?

What shall I do to follow that, I wonder.

Thursday 12th September 2019 – IT’S NOT BEEN …

… a particularly good day for me today.

And that’s hardly a surprise bearing in mind the events of last night.

It’s totally pointless going to bed early and trying to sleep because right now we are in the grip of forces much stronger than ourselves and as I have been told by various members of the medical profession, I need to conserve my strength and energy for the battle that lies ahead.

And so the last thing you would think that I was needing was yet another extremely mobile night. Once more it seemed that every 20 minutes I was waking up to add something to the dictaphone. And then going back to sleep again and dropping right back in to where we left off when we awoke.

The proof of the pudding is in the dictaphone with a file from the night as long as your arm. And looking back through the pages of this blog (one of the reasons why I keep it) it corresponds with the period round about the turn of the year 2016 when I had been first diagnosed and they were fighting to keep me alive. Pages and pages of rambling notes about where I had been and what I had done during the night and when we had all kinds of weird and wonderful people making guest appearances.

Not quite how it’s working out though right now because (until I listen to the entries and transcribe the notes) it’s basically the same two or three people accompanying me around. So after having had a night off on Tuesday night, welcome back Castor!

But as to whether I’m rueing all of these nightly interruptions, then the answer is “far from it”. Oscar Wilde’s friend Frank Harris once said that “man takes his pleasure whenever and wherever he can find it” and as I have said before, and on numerous occasions, what I get up to during the night is far more exciting and interesting than whatever goes on during my waking hours – one or two recent events being the exceptions of course.

The alarms went off at the usual time but I didn’t pay much attention. The morning stampede at 07:22 quickly brought me to my senses and a bang on the door shortly afterwards told me that my services were required.

Just for a change, it was a nice morning when I drove the girls to school. Not like the last couple of days when I’ve had thick fog and heavy rainstorms to contend with.

The morning passed completely uneventfully and I went home at lunchtime – to make some sandwiches and to deal with the download that I had done yesterday. That’s all up and running correctly.

So 20 minutes for lunch, 40 minutes for the music, and a blasted hour and a half trying to catch Cujo the Killer Cat and put her in the place in the house where she won’t disturb the alarm. Difficult at first, but once I found the cat treats the rest was easy.

I leapt into Strider to go back to the depot and the first thing that I heard on the *.mp3 player was –
“We need new dreams tonight
“Desert rose
“Dreamed I saw a desert rose
“Dress torn in ribbons and in bows
“Like a siren she calls to me
“She stands with a naked flame
“I stand with the sons of Cain
“Sleep comes like a drug… In God’s Country” and I couldn’t agree more. The events of recent nights (and one or two days too) are clearly getting to me

This afternoon we finished the pickup that had had all of the work done on the springs and that was driven away. I thought that it would never be finished and end up like a Canadian 21st-century version of Crawshay Bailey’s steam engine. Going “to Cardiff College for to get a bit of Knowledge” wouldn’t have solved this problem

The garage is now finally empty so we can tidy up, but the rush starts at 08:00 tomorrow.

But I was totally wasted afterwards. I was right out of it, sitting on a chair, for an hour or so. The stress and the strain (and my illness) are getting on top of me now.

The cash balanced first time round to just a $0.01 difference, and seeing that one cents are no longer valid in Canada, someone has forgotten to do the rounding.

We were in a rush back here so I made the vegan meal for the two vegans amongst us. So well did it go down that the remainder was purloined for a young person’s lunch tomorrow, and I’ve been invited to cook again. So Rachel and I spent well over an hour planning vegan recipes.

But you’ll be amazed at just how complicated a simple task like wrapping a parcel can be when you aren’t in the mood. But once it was done, I found a couple of live tracks (over 37 minutes each) of a Welsh rock group called Lone Star from the 1970s who featured on my radio programmes ages ago so I’ve been editing and engineering them ready for further use.

Not only that, I had a play around with the bass to work out the bass line to the song that I quoted just now. If I’m going to have random music roaming around my head, I may as well work out how to play it.

But I’ll finish that off tomorrow.

Friday 5th October 2018 – NOW THAT’S MORE LIKE …

… it!

Although you might not think so, from the way that things carried on from yesterday.

It was something like 02:00 when I finally went to bed this morning. But I wasn’t in it for long. About an hour and a half, something like that, before I realised that it would be pretty impossible to go to sleep.

So not wishing to waste the opportunity, I got up and carried on working on my photos from my trip. The first run-through is complete, and a mere 1715 photos have survived the initial cut. Now they need to be reviewed again and re-edited.

But I’ve now found a problem that I didn’t anticipate – and that is that I seem to have run out of space on my on-line file server. I managed to upload the first 220 and then it all ground out. I’m now trying to negotiate some extra space from my web-host.

Eventually it was time for bed though. 06:20 I reckoned – something like that. And I went off to sleep almost straight away.

And on my travels too. A friend and I had a couple of girlfriends who went to a select girls school and they were having a dance there. We were keen to go and, having failed to talk our way in, and to wear down the opposition with lengthy speeches that would grind them into the floor before they ground us in, we hit on the cunning plan of dressing up in girls-school uniform and pretending to be girls, hoping to pass unnoticed in the sombre lighting. We discussed our plans with a couple of our friends (you can see that this can’t be real. Whenever did I have any friends to discuss anything with?) and we were overheard by the school doctor. After listening for a while he announced that he was homosexual and he was impressed with what we were attempting, and said that there was no real need to go too far into this because once we’d rescued our girlfriends we could all come and socialise in his rooms and he would keep everyone else out.
A little later, I was back on board ship. And we were once more saying goodbye as we parted. We were presented with a map and it showed our route – the strangest route that I had ever seen because it bore some comparison with the route that we have recently taken, and yet a mirror-image. And we reached the Panama Canal from the western side down one of the bays that we had travelled. All in all, it was a rather strange and bizarre setting.

I was awake at 11:20, but not quick enough to find out who phoned me at 11:25. And then I had internet issues as the laptop refused to connect with the modem. Twice now, two consecutive days, that it has dome that. But I eventually managed to make it work and then went off for breakfast.

Having done that, I made a start on work that I needed to do.

First problem to be resolved was to make to work the USB stick that I was given on board the Ocean Endeavour. It wasn’t easy but I eventually made the laptop read it, and then I had to look for a key to open the files because at first glance they seemed to be corrupt.

But that’s the problem with people who use Apple stuff. Quite often the files that they save onto USB don’t transfer over to any other operating system without some work, and regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we were having these kinds of problem when we used to do the radio work. In the end, I had to format a USB drive specially to do the job back then.

Believe it or not, I did some tidying up too. Unpacking my suitcase and putting some stuff away. Not much, I hasten to add. It’s going to take more energy than I have right now to deal with all of that.

I put the washing away too – I had done a machine just before I left and had all of the stuff hung out to dry. And some more of the food too, although that involved clearing some space in the freezer and that wasn’t as easy as it sounds.

Next on the agenda was to look at all of the photos to date and to make some thumbnails of them of a reasonable size. That involves the use of three separate programs in order to get them just how I like them.

Having done that, I promised various people that I would put the photos on line in an accessible way (once I can find some additional room on my server to upload them of course). So I’ve made a start on making some web pages in the standard format that I’ve used since 2007. It’ll take quite a wile to do that but if I don’t start, I won’t ever finish.

Tea was exciting too. I’d bought a huge pile of mushrooms and some peppers the other day so I made a huge wok-full of mushroom and pepper curry in soya cream. It made a beautiful tea with rice, and there’s some in the fridge right now for a cunning plan, and there’s more happily freezing away in the freezer.

There was football on the internet this evening. Caernarfon Town v Bala Town in the Welsh Premier League. There are always good crowds at The Oval and this was no exception and the atmosphere was terrific.

The football was even better. Bala had by far the more skilful players but Caernarfon’s great strength is the camaraderie amongst the players – the Cofis really do play as a unit.

The final result of this pulsating, exciting match was 2-2 and that was about right. I do have to say that football in the Welsh Premier League doesn’t get much better than this.

Later in the evening TOTGA was on line. We haven’t spoken for quite some considerable time so we had a very lengthy chat. One day we might have a telephone chat or even a face-to-face chat if I am lucky.

So now, considerably later than anticipated, I can think about going back to bed. Even though it was a reasonably late start, I’ve gone all day without crashing out and even managing to do a pile of work.

One swallow doesn’t make a summer of course, but it’s an improvement. How will I be feeling tomorrow?

And I’ve just realised – it’s now 01:45 and not only have I not set foot outside, I’m still in my dressing gown from this morning.

Friday 26th February 2016 – AND THE ANSWERS …

… to last night’s questions are “Nowhere” and “No-one”.

I had my early night last night of course, but didn’t go straight to bed as I had a few things that needed doing. So I attended to them first while I was off on another nostalgia trip listening to my “Simple Minds” concert – the one that I engineered for Radio Anglais.

Eventually though, I was able to settle down and watch “Inspector Hornleigh on Holiday” – with the missing part recovered and the missing soundtrack restored and it was just as good as I remember it being. It’s quite possibly the best of the trilogy of films, I reckon.

And once I had settled down for the night, the next thing that I remember was the alarm clock going off at 07:45. First time for ages that I’ve managed to sleep right through the night, and also the first time for ages that I’ve not been on a nocturnal ramble (or, at east, a nocturnal ramble that I can recall). I’m not sure whether to be really pleased about the good night’s sleep that I’ve had, or sad that I didn’t go off walkabout during the night. As I’ve said before, these nocturnal rambles are the only way that I’m bringing some excitement into my life and relieving the boring existence of what is effectively an imprisonment right now.

It took me a good while to struggle out of bed and make my way downstairs, and much to my surprise, I managed to coax the boiler into life and had a lovely blaze going by the time that everyone else came downstairs. My technique must be improving.

Liz and Terry went off shopping this morning and left me to my own devices. I had a play with some of the new purchases that I made yesterday from the 3D Store that I use and generally took it easy. And I’ve also made great progress with my dictaphone notes for Canada 2014. I’m now on the outskirts of Montreal which means that I have only four days of voyage to transcribe. Who knows? I might even be able to do all of this over the weekend and that will please me greatly.

Now there’s one thing for which I should be grateful now that I am retired. And that is that I can’t possibly be sacked from my employment. Had I still been in employment and sent the mail that I sent out late this afternoon, I would have been in serious danger of being handed my hat.

But my excuse is that I was unnecessarily provoked.

I wrote to the Médecin Conseil of my Health Insurance provider to explain that the operation that I had four weeks ago (God! is it THAT long ago?) had evidently failed and that I reckoned that I ought to go somewhere for a second opinion. This will involve them in added expense and so I needed to consult them beforehand, to make them aware of what was going on and to approve the expenditure, and to see if they could recommend someone well-worth his salt, someone at the top of the profession who could give me the best possible advice.

I received the very helpful (I don’t think) reply of Nous ne pouvons, le médecin conseil, ne peut pas nommer aucun hôpital, vu que chacun a le libre choix de se déplacer à l’ hôpital de son choix _ crudely (and if you want “crudely”, then in the words of the late, great Bob Doney, “I’m your man”) translated by Yours Truly as “we on behalf of the Médecin Conseil cannot give out the name of any hospital, seeing that everyone has the free choice to go to any hospital of his choice”.

That’s all very well of course, but how on earth do you know which hospital to try and which hospital has the best reputation, and which hospital has the most efficient service etc. etc?. And which consultant is the most experienced and has the best connections? The hospital here clearly isn’t even sure about what illness I’m supposed to have so what hope do I have of knowing?

And so I sent them back a reply that would have blistered the paint in their office, and I ended up by asking if vu que chacun a le libre choix de se déplacer à l’ hôpital de son choix wasn’t merely a more-complicated way of saying “we couldn’t care less”?

As you can see, I can rule them out of any active involvement in my future well-being (such as it is) and as the hospital at Montlucon clearly has already run out of ideas (I’m really surprised that they haven’t been in contact with me this week to discuss the dramatic drop in my blood count) then I really am on my own here.

I have sore misgivings, and I don’t even have any ointment to rub on them.

And before I go, I would like to wish a happy birthday today to a girl who once played some kind of role in my life 45 or so years ago. I’m astonished that, with all of these various people making all kinds of cameo appearances in my nocturnal rambles, that she is yet to make her on-stage début. I would have placed her at odds-on to have made an appearance a long time before now.

Tuesday 23rd February 2016 – AND WASN’T THAT A WASTE OF TIME?

I finally had my blood count results back today. And the total has dropped from 9.8 to 9.0 – that’s not far short of 10% – in a week. And not only that – some of the things that needed to go up have indeed gone up, but some other things that needed to go up – including the most important things like the haemoglobin – have gone down. According to the infirmière who comes twice a day to inject me with the anti-coagulant, this means that it’s not just a simple case of dilution of the blood but that there’s something much more serious going on somewhere.

This means that it’s time to put Plan B into … errr … operation. Tomorrow, I’m going to see about having a chat with the Médecin Général of my Health Insurance company to see what he thinks about me having a second opinion somewhere with a specialist.

But as you can tell, I am not amused by all of this.

I didn’t manage to make it to Worleston last night by the way. I ended up being sidetracked elsewhere. I started out on the borders of Shropshire, Cheshire and Wales, my old stamping ground from many years ago. I was heading back north towards Crewe, I suppose, and I had the wife of a friend in the car with me. She was complaining about her husband, how he was all untidy and disorganised and how she wished he was like another one of the people that we knew. I cautioned her about that, because in my experience the tidiness and organisation of our other friend was nothing but superficial and just underneath the surface was a kind of chaos worse than ever you could imagine.
So back at my place in France where I brought a coach home – an old Ford R1114 with a Plaxton Supreme body. I drove it down the lane as far as my concrete parking place (which is most unlikely) and managed to turn it round at the bottom and park it facing uphill (which is impossible). I had a few things to do there and then went off for a walk, which took me right out to the southern edge of Stoke on Trent, somewhere round about Blurton or Trentham. Here in the middle of the road was a football match taking place – one team in green and the other in white. It wasn’t a suitable place to play a football match because the road had quite a steep slope, the top of which was defended by the green team. Stanley Matthews was playing on the green team and word had gone out that if his team won, he would be made man of the match, so right at the end of the game the green team had a shot on goal. The white goalkeeper, none other than Lev Yashin, stood there watching the ball, making no effort to save it. When I asked him about it, he replied that Matthews deserved the reward. And so I headed back home, reckoning that it would take me about an hour to walk from here (yes, quite!) and I ended up heading through the centre of Stoke-on-Trent. I was passing by the bus station at Hanley (I go a strange way home, don’t I?) just as a former work colleague was arriving. he told me that my absence was missed because the boss wanted to see me and a pile of other people (who he named). It turned out that the people who he named were those who were top of the list to receive a promotion and so I was wondering whether this meant that I was in a line to receive a promotion too. This was certainly some quite exciting news and I regretted that I hadn’t been there at the time.
The next part of my voyage was even more interesting, because I was actually a nun! (And before anyone ever says anything, my brother really was a nun, although not very many people know this. Every time he was up before the bench, the magistrate used to ask him his occupation and he always replied “nun”). I was going for an interview for a religious post and having a really good chat with the interviewers. They showed me a kind of green plastic key with holes in it at strategic places and asked me if I knew who it was who made the most profit from this. Of course, I had no idea and so they told me that it was eBay. That surprised me, but they replied “when you are using this to do something like buying 30,000 ice creams, by far the greatest percentage of the money is taken by eBay”. I was astounded by the figure of 30,000 and it clearly showed. “Didn’t you realise that as part of your duties you would be taking 30,000 children out for walks?” I replied that I hadn’t given it any thought at all and that if this were part of the duties of the post I wouldn’t hesitate in carrying it out. It was the way that the matter had been presented that had caught me off-balance. But it turned out that the question of the green key related to a form of payment, rather like some kind of credit card. It was inserted into a slot, something similar to an old punch-card data input system, to confirm a payment made on credit.

But going back to the previous night, I was here on my own all morning (it might not sound relevant, but you’ll see how it all develops) as Terry went off to do some work and so, in a mad fit of nostalgia, I played some music that I had on the laptop, and played it pretty loud too. One of the tracks (if that’s the correct word to use) was the “Simple Minds” live concert that I mixed for Radio Anglais
a while ago, and I do have to say that it’s probably the best live concert that I’ve ever mixed. The music is probably the best too, and it features the track “Someone Somewhere in Summertime”. And as I was listening to it, I picked up on the words
“Somewhere there is some place, that one million eyes can’t see”
“And somewhere there is someone, who can see what I can see”
And while I’ve found the place, what I haven’t found in all of my life is someone who can see what I can see. If I had to name the biggest disappointment of all of my life, that would be it, and maybe the vision (because it was more than a simple dream) of the Girl From Worleston the other night is something subconsciously to do with that. As you all know, I’m a great believer in the subconscious, instinct, second sight and all of that.
Anyway, have a listen to Someone, Somewhere in Summertime.

In other news, I’ve not done too much with my dictaphone notes because I’ve been rather sidetracked, dealing with issues arising from the very controversial historian Dr Alwyn Ruddock.

She was (because she died in 2005) a well-known and respected historian who did a great deal of research into the Italian banking families of the 15th and 16th Centuries and during her research, she came across some so-far undiscovered information concerning John Cabot. According to her press release into the Academic World, this information would radically change our perception of the discovery of North America in the 15th Century.

She signed a contract with the Exeter University Press to publish a book, and began to undertake some serious research into her subject. She was sent information from a couple of other historians who had uncovered hitherto-unknown documents and who felt that she was best-placed to use the material, but she dismissed most of that in a rather offhand way.

The upshot of all of this is that she never published her book and when she died, hordes of scholars were eager to peruse her notes to see if they could bring her research to a conclusion and to bring into the public domain her rather startling discoveries. Unfortunately, they were all confounded as in her will, she had left instructions that all of her research notes, photographs etc was to be destroyed unread. And indeed, her executors had shredded 87 sacks of documents and all of the clues to her discoveries were lost.

I’ve never ever met a scholar who has wilfully destroyed his or her research notes. Most scholars have an assistant who will carry on the work if the unforeseen should occur, or else they bequeath their papers to a University so that another researcher could pick them up. And that’s how research should be carried on – as a community project. And if you find that all of your work is ultimately incorrect, then scholars should be sufficiently detached from their subject to contradict themselves, as I have seen several scholars do.

But now all of this work is lost and the poor researcher who discovered some documents in the British Library in 1987 and which were kicked into touch by Dr Ruddock now has to creep back up a dark alley to rescue them and start again, after a delay of almost 30 years.

And we are still no nearer to finding out what it was about Cabot’s voyages to North America that, according to Dr Ruddock, would change our perception of the discovery of North America.

Thursday 19th November 2015 – I DIDN’T …

… do anything today.

Well, that’s not quite true. I was up reasonably early (well, reasonably for these days) and after breakfast I cracked on with the rock music programmes for Radio Anglais. By lunchtime, I’d completed the “Miscellaneous” programme and written all of the notes. Tomorrow, I’ll be doing the live programme, although I’ve no idea yet what concert I’m going to choose.

Another thing that I did do was to telephone the local doctor’s to see about a medical appointment, as I can’t go on much longer like this.

And this is the beauty of living in France, and not in the UK.
Our Hero – “I need to make an appointment to see the doctor sometime soon”.
Receptionist – “is it urgent?”
Our Hero – “not really”
Receptionist – “well, if it’s not urgent can it wait until 15:30?”
Our Hero – “today?”
Receptionist – “yes, today”
As one of my friends in the UK commented, “had you been in the UK, you would have been offered an appointment at 2020, and that wouldn’t have been 8/20 in the evening either”.

And so I duly struggled into Pionsat and the doctor’s surgery, and the first thing that the doctor said to me when she saw me was “are you usually this colour?” Apparently I’m totally white – there’s not a patch of pink or anything in my skin or my fingernails and toenails. I had my blood pressure checked – which is within the norms – and she listened to my heart, which also seemed to be normal – and that’s good news – it means that I’m not a Tory, thank heavens.

But she’s worried about something because tomorrow I have to have a blood test at 09:00 – and so I suppose that I’ll have to spend all night studying. It has to be à jeune – namely “in famine”, so no breakfast tomorrow. How can I survive without a coffee – because that’s forbidden too. But she’s taken my ‘phone number and she’ll ring me as soon as she has the results – and I found that rather ominous too.

I also have to go into Montlucon for an ecographie – a heart examination – but I’ll wait and see what the blood test reveals before I ring up for an appointment. Wednesday afternoon would be a good day for me because it would mean that I could have a lift with Liz.

By the time I returned home I wasn’t in much of a state to do anything and crashed out here for an hour or so. Now I’m going for an early night because of my blood test.

Wednesday 18th November 2015 – I DIDN’T …

… start to take the tiles out of Caliburn today, like I said that I would yesterday.

In fact, we had a beautiful blue sky for most of the day and that can only mean one thing … woodcutting!

So there I was after lunch, with the chop-saw and the excess solar energy and I had another good go at the woodpile. In fact, one of the woodpiles is done now as much as I can with the chop-saw, and I’ve started to attack the second woodpile – the pile with the old chevrons from the barn roof.

Some of the chevrons are quite good so I won’t be cutting them up. I’ll be using them in construction projects whenever I’ll feel up to doing something like that, but others are pretty mangy and so they have gone to the great woodshed in the sky. And there will be more to follow them on the next fine day.

Three large wheelbarrow-loads found their way into the woodshed today and that’s now looking quite healthy in there – about 2/3rds full. And when I finish the remainder, and then rescue my chainsaw and cut down the lengths that are too big for the chop-saw it’ll be bursting at the seams.

While I was doing all of this,I had visitors. The farmer who rents the field behind me came along with his wife, son and herd of cows. He’s pleased with the weather because he can keep his cows out in the fields and there was enough growth in the field behind me for at least 10 days of grazing. In fact, we all had quite a chat.

But as expected, I was totally exhausted after all of that woodcutting and I had to have a 10-minute doze before I could tackle the stairs up to here. When I finally made it up here, I put on a film to watch but crashed out through most of it. The St. Trinians – The Belles Of St. Trinians [DVD] it was, and here’s a thing. I thought that I recognised one of the voices when the schoolgirls were talking, and it turns out that a schoolgirl by the name of Jackie is played by none other than Diana Day, who is Susan, Jimmy’s sister in The Clitheroe Kid

This morning I had a good session on my course and found, to my surprise, that I’ve finished this week’s lectures already. We finished with a quiz that was actually a forensic examination of a skeleton discovered under a barracks floor and to my total astonishment I had 100%, which completely surprised me

So now that that’s all done, it gives me an opportunity to do the rock music programmes for Radio Anglais, and that should keep me out of mischief for the next few days.