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Sunday 4th September 2022 – AFTER ALL THAT …

… the blasted, flaming, perishing nurse didn’t show up today.

And after I’d made a special effort to fall out of bed at 08:00 this morning, despite the rather late finish yesterday and the bad time that I had during the night.

speedboat buoy baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022So while you admire a few photos of various kinds of nautical life that I saw this afternoon, I’ll explain.

Last night I intended to be in bed by about 23:00 but it was much closer to about midnight when I finally staggered off to bed.

And there I was tossing and turning for much of the night trying my best but failing miserably to go off to sleep.

Mind you, I must have done at some point because there were a few things on the dictaphone – notes of where I’d been during the night on my travels.

zodiac baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022After the medication I came back in here and when I’d eventually awoken (which wasn’t straight away, I’ll promise you) I had a listen to the dictaphone to find where I’d been.

I’d actually awoken with a really vivid sense of having played in goal for Pionsat’s football team for several matches. I really don’t know why but it was such a real feeling. It was hard to explain. We had some kind of team together somewhere in a dream and were looking for reinforcements. I’d heard about some young boy who played in some kind of cup competition as a goalkeeper. When we were putting the team sheet out for the next game a couple of days before hand this boy’s name was on it. I asked what was happening and they said that they’ve signed him up. he was going to sit on the bench for us. As I had to explain to someone that although he’s a good keeper he’s only young. He’ll have plenty of experience and learn quite a lot from just sitting on our bench in case there happens to be an injury. At 16 he has a lot to learn yet. This was when I started to have this feeling about being in goal for Pionsat.

It was actually such a vivid sensation that it took me a good few minutes to come to my senses (such as they are). I really did think that there was actually something in this when I awoke and it took me completely by surprise.

cabin cruiser baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022The next three voyages were quite interesting because they were all part and parcel of the same dream. I kept on slipping back into it. And it was another extremely realistic voyage or three as well.

I was with Rosemary and we were discussing the Ukrainians.

And this dream went on and on. We were all in Montreal. I was in the queue for buying something but I can’t remember what now. Their son (whom they don’t have of course) came up to me and asked if I was in a rush to go home. I said “not particularly. Why?”. “How do you fancy a week in Capri?”. I said “I’ll ask you a few questions. One – is it for a nice holiday in the sun?” to which he said “yes”. Then I asked “is your sister going?” to which he said “yes” so I replied “in that case I’m going as well”. We had quite a long chat about that. We all met back up. The father asked where we were but I couldn’t think of the street for a moment. I said “we’re on the south of the Rue St Catherine”. Suddenly I looked around and saw a big hotel and said “yes we’re in Campbell Square”. he picked up the name on an adjoining street and thought that we were in that. I insisted that this was Campbell Square (Place Mark Campbell is actually south of Boulevard Sherbrooke near the eastern end of the island and there’s no hotel there but never mind). I thought “we’d better hurry and organise this trip if we’re going tomorrow. I have to cancel my injection appointment with the nurse. If I cancel that and we decide that we aren’t going”. In the meantime mother and daughter were being rather distant. I couldn’t understand what was happening. When I looked around again the father and the youngest son (which they don’t have) had wandered away for miles. I was trying to find out what was happening here because really we all needed to stick together and book this hotel etc, book this flight and make sure that we were going. It didn’t look as if we were going at the moment and I was confused.

Then back in this dream yet again. A girl and I who had been with the Ukrainians had walked away. They’d gone off somewhere and we were walking past a group of beggars who were trying to entertain someone in the hope of having some money from him. We went past what at first looked like a grassy bank. I had a closer look at it and it was the ruins of a building that had been destroyed in an air raid in the early 1930s. There was a cemetery in the middle of it which I thought must have been the victims but it said something like “a cemetery, late mid-century”. I thought “that can’t be correct”. We carried on walking trying to find out what the Ukrainians were going to do about this idea to go to Italy for a week. We walked into another square and there was this huge magnificent hotel. I said “this is the hotel where we’ll be going to stay before we head off”. She said “there’s been another change of plans now. I heard them talking and it looks as if they’re going to be back home by Saturday so this thing doesn’t look as if it’s going to come off. We have to be careful because we’ll be in the red zone that weekend but if we can return home on Friday i’ve arranged for us to set up the tables presumably for the market stall the following day so this trip isn’t going to happen at all”. I felt extremely disappointed about that.

There’s a large part of this voyage that I’ve left out. Usually, the only things that I leave out are the more gruesome bits and pieces that you really don’t want to read. However today, I’ve left stuff out for another reason completely. If you really want to know the reason why, you’ll have to ask me.

There were a couple of pauses while I was doing that – firstly for breakfast and then for lunch. Yes, I had both today. In fact, going through the fridge yesterday I came across an opened packet of vegan cheese slices about which I had completely forgotten so for breakfast I made myself some cheese on toast.

It was delicious too but I wish that I had remembered to put a few slices of tomato on top.

When I finally finished I spent most of the rest of the afternoon dealing with the photos from Jersey. And once again, more time was spent researching than editing

A few weeks ago Liz and I had chatted about the Rollright Stones – the ancient monument, not the SONG BY “TRAFFIC”. In a Newsgroup that I follow, someone had posted an article about the stones so I sent the link to her and that led to a little chat.

Something else that happened was that I had a little “wobble” and found myself drifting away – the first time for a fortnight. But I think that I won’t count this because after all, it’s Sunday and I did have an early start.

And don’t forget that I did say that I’d go back to bed after the nurse had been. It’s hardly my fault that no-one turned up.

And it goes without saying that I staggered off outside, a little later than usual.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022Not that I went far. Not the way my leg is feeling right now. I went as usual across the car park to look over the wall and down onto the beach to see the crowds.

And while it’s probably wrong to say “crowds”, there were certainly quite a few people down there right now. My attention was focused though on the ones who were brave enough to take to the water. Good for them.

No neighbours out there to detain me this afternoon so I didn’t have cause to hang around. After a look around out to sea, where there wasn’t much going on for a Sunday, I tried my knee out, found that it hadn’t improved any, and abandoned my plans for a hobble off around the medieval city walls.

masthead flag shtandart port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022Instear, I took myself off to the viewpoint overlooking the port and the fish processing plant on the corner of the Boulevard Vaufleury and the Boulevard des 2E et 202E de Ligne

The first thing that I noticed was that Shtandart is still there. It looks as if the port has become a safe haven for her now. All of those who voted for LePen (and there were many more of them than there ought to be around here) must be exerting their influence.

The second thing though is that she has taken down her Russian flag at the masthead. There’s another banner there right now but I really don’t know to what it refers.

The superimposed images are strange. Top left looks roughly like Asia, bottom left roughly like the Middle East, bottom right like Alaska and the Aleutians, but I’m open to suggestions for the top right image. I wonder if they represent areas that Putin intends to occupy.

le styx spirit of conrad capo di fora charles marie port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022Chausiaise, Victor Hugo and the trawlers are still there out of shot, and the three boats that we saw yesterday, Le Styx, Spirit of Conrad and Capo di Fora are still there too.

And they’ve now been joined by another yacht that must have come into port after I’d gone back inside yesterday. The blue and white yacht Charles Marie has now come into port. Maybe she has finished her summer season now as well.

There are two other boats in that photo too, a trawler in front of le Styx and a yacht, complete with wind turbine, in front of Spirit of Conrad.

However I have no idea who they are and I have no way of finding out because whoever they are, they don’t have their AIS beacons switched on

grass boulevard vaufleury Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022While I was here I had a look at the grass on the top of the cliff.

That rain that we had has clearly done someone some good because while much of the older grass looks as if it’s definitively gone beyond the possibility of recovery (and I’m not even convinced of that) you can see that there’s plenty of new growth springing up.

It’s not going to take too long before we’ll forget that we have had a drought this summer.

This was as far as I went. With no change at the chantier naval today I decided to head off home and not put too much trust in my knee.

As I said yesterday, I don’t have a great deal of confidence in my knee and it’s all rather worrying.

yellow powered hang glider place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022On the way back home I heard an old familiar rattling up in the sky.

And I had to look long and hard to see who it was because it was so high up and lost in the clouds. I only noticed it when it flew into a gap and sure enough, it turned out to be the yellow powered hang-glider.

And while we’re on the subject of ULMs – as the French call “microlight aricraft” … “well, one of us is” – ed … one of them, not one that we know, went down yesterday morning near Falaise in the Calvados and regrettably both persons on board lost their lives .

Before going out I’d mixed up another load of dough and given it a good going-over.

When I came back it had risen quite nicely so I divided it into 3 and put two portions into the freezer. The third one I rolled out and put in the pizza tray for its second proofing.

vegan pizza place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022It sprung up like a mushroom too so when it was ready I assembled it and put it in the oven.

Following on from what I said last Sunday I remembered to put it one shelf higher than I usually do and it was actually cooked to perfection. Easily the best one that I’ve ever made and one of the tastiest too.

So now that I’ve finished my notes I’m going to relax for a while and then go off to bed. I have an early start tomorrow – 06:00 in fact – and a radio programme to prepare so I need to be at my best.

What are the odds on the nurse coming along to interrupt me at some point?

But what about last night’s adventures? That football one was certainly bizarre and I can’t believe that I actually had to think about what I’d been doing.

When I was at school I used to play in goal but I never had the height and I was never actually selected to represent the school so thinking that I wasn’t any good, I never kept it up. I just turned out in goal for the odd knock-about side after I left school and played outfield down the left side of the field.

It wasn’t until a good few years later that I discovered that the boy who was n°1 choice in goal at school went on to play for Wycombe Wanderers in the Football League and the boy who was n°2 choice played for Northwich Victoria in the UK’s fifth tier so maybe it was a case that I wasn’t that bad after all. The competition was just too good.

Instead, I ended up keeping wicket for a good-quality club cricket size for a few years until I went off on my travels.

But that voyage with the Ukrainians was interesting too. It’s a shame that I can’t tell all of the story.

Wednesday 12th January 2022 – THAT’S NOT SOMETHING …

… that I want to be doing too often.

When I went to bed last night at about 21:15 I didn’t think that I would ever go off to sleep – tossing and turning around for quite a while.

But when the alarm went off at 04:00 I was fast asleep. However I was up and about quite quickly. There was even something on the dictaphone but all that I remember about last night was that there were 3 or 4 of us waiting to board a bus or something. When it came in, one of the guys stepped aside to let us on. We asked him why he wasn’t going to board. He replied that he was waiting for someone who hadn’t turned up yet.

That was the only thing that I can remember from last night.

By the time that it came to leaving the apartment I was champing at the bit to be off. I’d long-since done everything that needed doing.

fish processing plant port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022When I left the building I went to the viewpoint at the corner of the Boulevard des 2E et 202E de Ligne and the Boulevard Vaufleury.

In order to make sure that the camera was working correctly I took a photo of the fish processing plant. Plenty of light coming from the inside and a couple of refrigerated lorries parked outside so there must be plenty of work going on down there this morning, despite the mist that’s hanging over everywhere.

It’s been said that every “floating” job in the fishing industry creates four or five jobs on land and that’s easy to understand when you find out what happens in places like a fish processing plant.

One of the things that I would like to do is to actually go for a wander around inside but even if it were possible, they wouldn’t allow it in the middle of a pandemic.

The walk up to the station was done in darkness and solitude and to my surprise it wasn’t all that difficult. The Aranesp injections must be working.

Bombardier B82792 gare de Granville railway station Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022At the railway station my train was already in and at the platform waiting.

But I wasn’t interested in that right now. I had to track down the guard of the train. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that yesterday I couldn’t change the ticket for the train to Caen because with the train being cancelled, they had cancelled all of the tickets.

She wasn’t about as yet, but I made myself known to the driver and explained my situation. He’ll tell the guard as soon as she arrives and if it’s an issue she’ll come to see me.

Bombardier B82647 gare de Granville railway station Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022As it happens, the photo that I took just now wasn’t actually “my” train.

Well, it is in the sense that it’s not just a one-unit train but a two-unit train. The one you saw earlier was the rear half but I’m going to sit in the front half. There aren’t any reserved seats on this train and the farther you are from the entrance to the platform, the fewer people there are to bother you.

They give up the long walk and plonk themselves down closer to where they entered the platform.

The guard did come to see me and I explained my situation to her. I showed the guard the receipt for the purchase of the ticket and she waved me on with no issues.

The train was empty when we set off but by the time that it arrived in Caen it was heaving with people whom it had picked up on the way.

Bombardier Regio 2N 56629 gare st lazare paris France Eric Hall photo January 2022There was an hour’s wait at Caen due to having travelled on an earlier train, but the trip to Paris was pretty painless and I really enjoyed it.

It’s a Bombardier Regio 2N trainset and there are 447 of these rolling about on the French railway network. First hitting the rails in 2013, they are clean modern, comfortable and quick and I’d travel on these all day if I could. It’s almost enough to make me think about moving to the Caen area just to have the privilege of travelling regularly on them.

The 2N by the way stands for deux niveau, or “two decks”. These are double-decker units and didn’t the UK miss a trick when it heightened all of its infrastructure to allow the electrification of certain lines, and not heightening it enough for double-deckers.

One thing that was very important was that I snapped out of the deep, black depression in which I’d been for the last week or so. As soon as I boarded the train I made up a playlist of all of my favourite stomping Hawkwind numbers, the ones that I would play if I could lay my hands on a guitarist, a drummer and a violinist, because Simon House’s violin-playing on tracks such as STEPPENWOLF and DAMNATION ALLEY is absolutely phenomenal.

And then you have the full-length version of SPIRIT OF THE AGE and any one of another dozen that I could mention.

Mind you, the bloke in the seat in front didn’t like my singing much, so that was rather a shame for him, wasn’t it?

gare st lazare paris France Eric Hall photo January 2022The train arrived at Gare St Lazare on time and I had another nightmare occurrence trying to make the automatic machine read my ticket before I could leave the platform.

And in the ghostly, eerie, empty atmosphere of the railway station I could take a better photo than the one that I took last time. I’m not sure where everyone is becuase it’s usually packed. Maybe they heard that I was coming.

The trip from Paris St Lazare to Gare du Nord was straightforward – except that the ticket machine didn’t like a couple of my Metro tickets. It’s clearly not my lucky day to be travelling around, with all of these ticket issues that I seem to be having.

Thalys PBKA 4345 gare du nord paris France Eric Hall photo January 2022There wasn’t long to wait at the Gare du Nord for my train to Brussels, and that’s one of the reasons why I came this way today

It’s a horrible station to hang around in, huge, cold, draughty and no shelter anywhere. When I saw the 2-hour wait for a train had I come to Paris on my normal train, I had blanched.

We were quickly ushered on board and once everyone was ready we hurtled off towards Brussels. Non-stop, direct, no messing around in Lille. That’s another good reason to come this way.

To my surprise we pulled into Brussels 2 minutes early. I wandered off to the Carrefour to buy lunch for a change. There’s usually some stuff there that I can eat, like some of their delicious buns.

Once I’d dealt with the question of food I was lucky enough to find a train almost immediately for Brussels Schuman.

Justus lipsius council of ministers of the european union rue de la loi brussels belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022When I arrived at the station I went up to street level and there was the building where I had spent 12 happy years of my life.

Well, not exactly because I was around and about in other buildings at various times, but that’s the Head Office. The very best ever thing that I did with my life was to fight my way into there. I often muse about how had I remained living in Crewe I’d probably still be driving a taxi or a bus.

Although I didn’t have an appointment at the bank, they saw me more-or-less straight away and sorted out my bank card issues. I should receive a new card in the post “within a week”.

Back at Brussels Schuman we had one of those conversations that you can only ever have in Belgium
Our Hero “do the trains still go from here to Leuven?”
Assistant at Information Desk “I don’t know”.

class am 86 multiple unit 931 gare de bruxelles schuman railway station belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022In the end a ticket collector pointed me in the right direction. Why I was having difficulty is that they don’t terminate at Leuven these days but continue on to Landen, so it’s “Landen” on the destination boards.

The train was one of the old AM86 multiple units and it came into ths station. These aren’t particularly comfortable and are rather lightweight compared to some of the SNCB multiple units but they have had plenty of use and they keep on going. Of the 52 that came into service between 1986 and 1991, there are still 51 of them running around, mainly in the centre of the country.

When the train pulled in at Leuven I went to the supermarket at the back to pick up some stuff and walked down here to my room. No upgrade again but I’m not all that bothered.

It’s freezing here in Belgium so I’m glad that I brought my winter woollies. I’m going to need them.

First thing that I did when I arrived in my room was to crash out, and that’s no surprise.

Later on I found the strength from somewhere to struggle down to the supermarket for the rest of the shopping and then back here to make tea.

Now that’s done, I’m off to bed regardless of the fact that its only 21:30. And with the alarm set for 08:30 I’m going to sleep until I wake up. I’m surprised that I’ve kept going as long as I have, with 137% of my daily exercise total done too.

But one thing is for sure, and that is that I’m going to stomp all my way home to Granville on Saturday. Every since back in my early teens when I discovered Radio Luxembourg, music has been my only constant and steadfast companion and immersing myself deeply into it has sometimes been the only thing that has kept me going.

One thing that I need to do is to have a rethink about the direction in which my life is going because things aren’t working out right now. Somehow I need to pay much more attention to the inner me and that almost inevitably involves music.

On THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR I was happy spending most of my time listening to COLOSSEUM LIVE and ON THE ROAD by Traffic and things only changed (for the better or for the worse, depending on how you look at things and I know how I look at them) when I stopped listening and went to do something else.

Perhaps I ought to listen to more music. I dunno.

Saturday 18th April 2020 – SOME PEOPLE ARE …

… becoming very touchy as time goes on.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that quite often I’m posting photos here of interesting food articles and the like that have caught my interest when I’ve been out at the shops.

Today though, I was just taking a photo of something in leClerc when a couple of security men appeared, gave me a grilling and “asked” me to delete it. It seems that they are becoming rather nervous about what they have in stock and, presumably, their prices too – because, as I mentioned last week, they seem to be slowly going up.

And the fact that I was asked to either delete the photo or to go and do my shopping elsewhere tells everyone more than any photo ever could about what is happening in LeClerc right now

What else is definitely happening right now is that I didn’t hear the second alarm at all. That’s a surprise because it’s Billy Cotton going “Wakey WaaaaaaaaaaKEY” followed by the theme music to the Billy Cotton Band Show, and how anyone can sleep through that I really don’t know.

But I did

Consequently it was something silly like 06:30 when I awoke.

Nothing on the dictaphone so, even though it might have been a late-ish night, it was a complete one with no interruptions. So instead, I made an early start on the digital file stuff.

And today, I ran aground. I’ve reached the end of the first run-through of stuff that I can digitalise easily, and I shall be starting on part 2

That’s the compilation albums. There are quite a few of those that I have, for one reason or other, and I shall have to hunt them down track by track.

But some of the stuff is pretty obscure, like a demo single by Graham Gouldman and Kevin Godley long before 10CC ever became thought of, and another by Gordon Jackson, formerly in a group called “Deep Feeling” with half of “Traffic”. I wouldn’t have the first clue even where to begin searching for tracks like that.

But talking of 10CC – where are my 10CC albums? 3 of them, there should be, the early pre-commercialisation stuff? And “Angel’s Egg” by Gong, and “Caravanserai” by Santana? I’ve not found those yet and I’ve been through everything several times. I’m beginning to notice more and more stuff missing, the more that I think about it.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Having done one or two albums I went for a shower and a weigh-in. And that weight I put on the other day – it’s gone again. Yes, I think that my bathroom scales are about as reliable as the blood machine at Castle Anthrax.

But no matter what I do, I can’t seem to drop below the 80kg barrier. Well, I did, just once, and it didn’t stick. I haven’t exercised like this for 20 years.

After the shower I set the washing machine on the go. I’ve changed the bedding, for the first time since I can’t remember when. I’ve been letting things slide just recently and I need to get myself back on track.

At LeClerc I spent more than usual – but a good proportion of that was on coffee. They had some decent stuff on special offer – not as good an offer as the last tme that I bought some and I wish that I’d bought more of that now, but enough to tempt me to have some luxury in the near future and I’m all in favour of that.

pointe du roc old medieval walled town from rue couraye granville manche normandy france eric hallOn the way back home, I saw the most amazing view.

With the market being closed, I’ve been coming back through the town instead of along the coast as I would normally do and as I came over the brown of the hill by the roundabout at the Avenue Marechal LeClerc I could see the Medieval Walled Town in the distance, all swathed in mist.

Consequently I did a U-turn around the roundabout by the station, drove back up the hill, another U-turn at the roundabout at the top, and pulled up at the side of the road to take a photo.

close-up pointe du roc old medieval walled town from rue couraye granville manche normandy france eric hallIf you see the church right in the centre, you’ll see behind it the roof of my apartment building.

To the left of that is the building opposite mine. That’s the College Malraux, the local High School (and seeing as it’s up there on top of the Pointe du Roc, “High” Is probably right). And to the left of that is another old stone building that has also been converted into apartments like this one.

In case you are wondering, this complex is an old stone military barracks, lately for the 2nd and 202nd Regiments of Line, with a parade ground in front which is now a car park, part of which is fenced off for private use by the residents of these apartments.

The old sports field behind the College, with athletics track and all of that, is now the College’s playing field which we’ve seen a few times in various photos in the past.

Back here I put my frozen food away, made myself a coffee, sorted out another digitalised file and then went for lunch.

After lunch I started on the third laptop – the 8GB one with the failed drive that I can restart using an old trick that the Gypsies taught me (T223 was an amazing course!) and moved the contents of that hard drive over onto the new external drive that I have bought to use as a back-up. And during the course of the day I’ve started on the external portable drives.

Memory sticks and memory cards will be next, and then the desk-top external drives, followed finally by the two desktop computers. I’ll sort this all out yet! Then I can start to lay up some of the old equipment. I can remember when I thought that a 250GB external hard drive for a back-up would last me a lifetime.

While I was drifting about on the internet I came across yet another two albums that seem to have gone missing from my collection too so I attacked those too and digitalised them.

But, shame as it is to say it, I crashed out yet again.

On the positive side though, I had a really good and lengthy time on the guitars tonight all told and I’m at the stage now where I’m really enjoying playing a 6-string guitar. That’s progress, isn’t it?

Tea tonight was a burger with pasta and vegetables followed by the last of the apple pie and some coconut soya stuff. Tomorrow i’m going to make an apple crumble, I reckon.

Monday though, I’ll need to make some more apple purée, and bearing in mind my success with the tinned apricots a while ago, I bought a cheap tin of peaches and I’ll see what that does.

sunset ile de chausey english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallAfter the washing up and so on, it was the time to go walkies outside.

Or, rather, runnies, because I’m running quite a lot just recently. I was hoping for a really nice clear, sunny evening tonight but I was out of luck.

While the air was quite clear and there was a really good view out for miles, there was plenty of cloud in the sky and for that reason it was difficult, if not impossible to see the sunset.

objects in the english channel st malo brittany granville manche normandy france eric hallTThe view out to sea was really good, as I said earlier so I had a scan along the Brittany coast to see what was going on.

From my vantage point high up, there was something that looked as if it might have been a ship leaving St Malo, 50kms away.

Not being too certain, I took a photo of it with the aim of blowing it up (the photo, that is, not the ship). My first thought was that it might have been Pont Aven, the big Brittany Ferries ship, but the superstructure didn’t look quite right to me.

objects in the english channel st malo brittany granville manche normandy france eric hallWhat I did was to go to a different viewpoint and take a photo on a different bearing to see if that was any clearer, but if anything it confused the situation even more.

And so the jury is still out on this. Even enlarging the photos and enhancing them couldn’t give me any definite hint of whether it’s a ship or a large island. I’ll have to go again and see if whatever I saw is still there another time.

If it’s no longer there, it must be a ship, not an island of course.

sunset ile de chausey granville manche normandy france eric hallBut having said that, while you lot admire the beautiful red sky tonight over the ile de Chausey, I was doing some research.

And what I found was that there was a “Condor” freight ferry, the Commodore Goodwill in port at St Malo at 10:24 this morning. And 12 hours later, i.e. just now, when it sent out an AIS signal (I have an AIS detector and antenna in my apartment as regular readers of this rubbish will recall) she was somewhere to the north of Jersey, east of Guernsey and west of the Cotentin.

And her silhouette is not unlike that of whatever it is in the first photo.

But I dunno.

However, according to A PRESS RELEASE FROM BRITTANY FERRIES, Commodore Goodwill was taken out of service in Winter 2015 to be fitted with scrubbers.

That’s a ferry on which I’ll be sailing once normal service is resumed. Absolutely!

pointe de carolles plage baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france eric hallCrowds of people out here tonight. I think that this quarantine thing has had it.

For the first time since all of this started, there was a road block on the way into town where the police were checking motorists and as I drove back through the town on my way back from the shops, a foot patrol was checking papers of people at the bus stop.

But they should have been out here with me tonight because there were people everywhere, especially on the footpaths that are officially closed to the public.

carolles plage cabanon vauban baie se mont st michel granville manche normandy france eric hallOne of the photos that I took was of the head of the baie de Mont St Michel and you can see that above.

But with nothing special to do, I had a play with it and cropped bits out to see what I could see, close-up. This is Carolles-Plage, about 20kms away, with the white beach huts and the old hotel that’s now converted into apartments where I saw a miserable-looking apartment for sale that had once been a shop.

But never mind the apartment, what wouldn’t I give for a room in that house there perched on the side of the Pointe de Carolles? That would do me quite nicely

cabanon vauban pointe de carolles baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france eric hallHere’s another bit cropped off the photo above.

It’s not possible to see the Abbey of Mont St Michel and its island from here because the Pointe de Carolles is in the way, but we can see the hotels and restaurants and so on situated on the mainland. They are the white buildings at the head of the bay about 30 miles away.

And perched on the end of the Pointe de Carolles is the Cabanon Vauban, the old Customs observation post that we visited two years ago.

sunset english channel baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france eric hallAfter that I carried on with my runs and stopped for a breather on the walls.

By now the sun was sinking rapidly and while the Ile de Chausey was obscured by clouds, there was enough of a gap in them to let some red glow seep though and reflect off the water.

While I was here, I was entertained by part of the choir from the local church who were przctising outdoors just here. They clearly believed more in the power of worship than they did in the power of Social Distancing, that’s for sure. I left them to it and ran home.

Tonight has been quite relaxing and much of it was spent playing the 6-string guitar. I’m really getting into that right now.

But I have new bedding tonight so I’ll be getting into that in a minute. Tomorrow is Sunday, no alarm so I can have a lie-in. A day of rest tomorrow and then back to work on Monday.

Friday 28th February 2020 – I MISSED …

… the alarms this morning.

Yes, round about 07:30 when I finally heaved myself out of my stinking pit this morning. I’ve no idea why because last night wasn’t exactly a late night.. after the medication I had a look at the dictaphone as usual. I’d been on a few travels too during the night, but not enough to wear me out.

I’d been in Audlem and it had been some kind of New Years Eve or something like that. There were hordes of people out in the street all dressed in fancy clothes. I’d been wandering around looking at them and admiring their outfits, all that kind of thing. Then I headed down to where the Buttermarket was. There were even more people coming out from down Shropshire Street, all in a sort of nightwear type of thing as if they had been to some kind of pyjama party. They were all streaming up to a pub that of course doesn’t exist somewhere on Stafford Street. This pub was a black and white Tudor building with all kinds of statues on the edges of the roof like in Austria. There were all these bunk beds outside and this was the middle of winter and all these bunk beds for kids outside. These kids were all dressed in nightwear and I couldn’t understand what it was that they were doing. This was really late for kids to be out and so on.
Before that we had been in a procession, a procession of all kinds. We were dressed as seafaring pirates, a Marsupilami thing. We were quite happily parading and making up the story as we went along. We saw some being questioned about who was in a huge queue and who wasn’t and we realised that this was going to be the fate of death for us because we wouldn’t be allowed to continue. We chatted amongst ourselves who it was and ended up talking to this very young girl about 6 or 7 and ask her all these questions but by now we weren’t having the microphone passed down to us and being put on the air.

And there was more to all of this lot too.

After breakfast I had a look at some more sound files and, sure enough, just as expected, a couple of them were all over the place and took an age to sort out; Somewhere in the middle of all of this I took my Carnaval costume back to its owner. We had quite a chat and she had a lot to say for herself about her work so I made a note for the future.

hydraulic concrete breaker rue du port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallAfter having finished the sound files I went down into town for my bread. The long way round too seeing as I wasn’t going anywhere special tody.

But down on the harbour, the hydraulic concrete-breaker that’s been breaking up the rocks over at the ferry port is back so that it looks as if they will be restarting there some time very soon.

Not today though. Chausiais and Joly France were over there moored in a NAABSA position on the bottom. It looks as if they have things to do this weekend.

new pontoon rue du port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallWhile I was here I went to look at the new pontoons that they’ve been installing.

And regular readers of this rubbish will recall that the other day I mentioned the cranes on the quayside and that I didn’t think that they will reach over the pontoons.

Today, there were a couple of fishermen there so I asked the question. And the answer is “no, they don’t reach”.
“So what are you going to do then?” asked Our Hero
“Bof” replied one of the fishermen with a beautiful Gallic shrug.

A beautiful word, “Bof” – a must-have word in anyone’s vocabulary. It means basically “I don’t know” but with a much greater air of abandonment.

new pontoon port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallThe tide was out so I could walk across the harbour gates to the other side.

Thora had gone, as I had expected, so I could admire the new pontoons here too. They are cracking on with all of this and I don’t think that it will be long before they have finished.

But as I have said before, I hope that they will leave some space for the commercial boats like the gravel boats that come in here, even if they haven’t been in for a while.

At La Mie Caline I picked up my dejeunette and headed for home.

Still plenty of time before lunch so I made a start on scanning in all of the receipts that needed scanning. And I was surprised that there were so many. I seem to have run aground somewhere in my plan for rolling scanning. even worse, I can’t find the receipts for medication that i bought at the end of June prior to going off on my sea voyage. It was an expensive do too so I hope that I didn’t discard the receipts along with all of the rest of the paperwork that I threw away on my travels.

After lunch, I had something very important to do. I’d used up the last of the hummus so I had to make some more. And although it took a while, it was thoroughly wicked when it was finished.

Basically, for any given weight you need 50% of chick peas and 25% sesame seed paste. These are the important figures to remember.
The remaining 25% of the given weight is made up of all kinds of things – olive oil and chick pea juice for a start. Then I use sea salt, ground black pepper, garlic (tons of that) and then your “flavouring ingredient”.

Everything except your flavouring ingredient goes into the whizzer and it’s whizzed round until it’s a nice creamy paste. Then, add your “flavouring ingredient”. I made two batches, one with the roasted peppers that I had prepared last night and the second with some sliced olives. You add that to the mix in the whizzer and whizz it just enough to disperse it rhrough the mix but not enough to break it up completely.

After that, I could crack on then and fill in these forms. And that wasn’t the work of five minutes either, with so many to do. I hadn’t really realised just how many receipts had piled up over that period when I broke my hand.

crowds beach plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallThere was the usual pause for my afternoon walk. Around the walls this afternoon, but no run because there were far too many people around.

Despite the wind, there were quite a few people down on the beach at the Plat Gousset too. I’ve no idea what they were doing but they were clearly having a good time doing it.

So I came back to carry on work, but it wasn’t quite the success for which I was hoping. There was a little … errr … repose during the afternoon that slowed me down too.

By the time that I had finished the medical expenses it was 18:30 and so I did something that I haven’t done for quite some time, namely I had a play on the bass. It shows you just how much work I’ve had to do that the guitars have been on the back burner all this time. The track “Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys” by Traffic came round on my playlist so I spent half an hour working out the bass line.

There has been some excitement too. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall my disenchantment with certain events over the weekend. The controller has called a meeting for Monday to discuss them but EVERY ONE of the volunteers is refusing to go and there has been a frantic exchange of e-mails.

There are stories of one or two others who are as disenchanted as I am, but I had no idea that the feeling was so general. Not, of course, that I am surprised.

Tea was an “anything curry” of leftover food in the fridge, including a couple of falafel balls that had been in there maybe longer than they ought to have been.

The evening walk around the headland was disappointing. I only managed one run and that was a struggle too as I had a headwind against me. Reaching my mark, never mind extending it, was something of a battle.

Later, I had the football to watch so I started to write my notes on the little old Acer laptop that I have recently raised from the dead just to prove that it still works.

It was Welsh Cup quarter-final and we should have had two second-division teams, Prestatyn Town and Flint Town United. But their match was called off so the cameras made a dash across North Wales to show us Caernarfon Town v Cefn Druids instead.

Caernarfon scored after just a minute – a wicked deflection from a corner that shouldn’t have been awarded in the first place. And then they had Alex Ramsey to thank for a series of excellent saves to keep them in the game for the next hour.

The match hinged on a moment of madness on the hour-mark.

Arsan, one of the Druids defenders, was fouled and the referee blew his whistle to award the free kick. Arsan, in his folly, kicked out at the Caernarfon player for which he was rightly booked. Probably not 30 seconds later, he had the ball and as he ran past a Caernarfon player, fell to his knees. No clearer case of simulation you will ever see, and he picked up another yellow card and was thus expelled from the game.

In my time I’ve seen some stupid players do some stupid things, but nothing quite as stupid as this.

Within the next 5 minutes Caernarfon had scored two more goals, and went on to score a bizarre fourth right at the end when an outstretched Caernarfon boot touched the ball awkwardly causing it to loop up over everyone and drop down behind a defender into the net.

So I’m off to bed now. For the first time in a while I’m off shopping and I hope that they have more of that Alpro soya ice cream. I started on that for tea tonight and it was delicious.

Monday 9th December 2019 – I HAVE NEVER EVER MET …

… so many people so gifted with the art of expanding so little thought into so many words.

It’s true that I have said this before, but here I am saying it again under different circumstances. Like at another one of these volunteer meeting things.

Following my exploits at that meeting with the kids from Greenland the other day, I was invited to take part in this twinning committee because “my mother tongue is English and I speak French pretty well”

And so there in the upstairs room in the Grand Café they were going on about “we could do … (X, Y and Z) … but the stuff is in English so if only we had someone to translate it into French” – and there I was sitting right next to and right opposite the two people having this discussion who both had totally forgotten that I had translated from the English to the French at that meeting the other week. “There’s someone here who could translate it for us” said another person, and pointed to … another (French) woman sitting at the corner of the table.

And in order to introduce myself to the others, I had to make a little speech of introduction to the rest of the gathering, so I began with “there are six people in Greenland who I know really well …” and named them. And a few minutes later someone said to me “surely you know … (Mr X) and (Mrs Y) and (Master Z) and (his pet gibbon)” who were not among the people whose names I had mentioned.

Obviously, people not taking the slightest bit of interest or notice of what I have been doing or saying.

The conversation carried on about not very much for two hours, except for who could speak the longest and say the least. I was effectively shunted off into obscurity, musing to myself that these are the kind of meetings that should be held standing up, outside, in the pouring rain. And then all of the work would be accomplished in probably a tenth of the time, and much more effectively too.

But it’s my own fault. I paid the €15:00 membership fee as soon as I arrived. Had I held out until the end before waving the folding stuff about, I imagine that they might have made more of an effort to engage with me until they had managed to chisel the cabbage out of my sweaty little mitt.

This morning though was just as bad. Apparently I had to go with someone to interview someone in English. I thought that we were doing that a couple of weeks ago but it was merely a telephone call. Today it looked like the real thing but when we arrived, it was simply a case of going for a meal with this British guy with the purpose of arranging a date for the interview.

It’s all complete, total and utter chaos and what made it worse was that when we were outside this restaurant the British guy and I were having a chat and the French guy who was trying to set up this interview said afterwards to me “if only we had the gear hear to record that. It was exactly what I wanted!”

Had I not needed him to drive me home from Avranches, I would have beaten him to death on the spot.

That’s not the worst of it either. The way to do this interview is to prepare a list of questions. I ask them of this English guy and we record the answers. We then superimpose a French person asking the questions into the recording and then I do a translation into French with a nice British accent and it’s overdubbed so you can hear the British guy talking in the background but hear the French (with accent) over the top.

It’s such a simple thing to do and I can do it all in half an hour here at my desk but the guy who thinks that he’s running the show (as distinct from the guy who is supposed to be running it) feels that he needs to be there and to do it in a way that is about 10 times more complicated and gives nothing like the same effect.

As I’ve said before … “and you’ll inevitably say again!” – ed … the lack of professionalism is really annoying me. And these are hours of my life that I won’t ever get back and I don’t have all that many to spare.

The proof of all of this was that I was up until quite late last night working, trying to catch up with the arrears of work (some hope).

And just as I was about to go to bed the gale got up, we were hit by a tempest and as I opened the bedroom door there was an enormous flash of lightning – just by way of a spontaneous greeting to me.

Despite the late night I was off on my travels last night, with Batty Bat (and it’s been YEARS since she’s accompanied me on a nocturnal voyage) and TOTGA. I’ll spare you all of the gory details because you’re probably eating a meal right now and I don’t want to turn your stomachs. But what was surprising about this particular journey is that encompassed several events that have or had a parallel with events that have or had taken place in real life and one event in particular that has been going through my conscious mind for the last week or so. It was quite surprising when I heard it on the dictaphone.

With a Herculean effort I was out of bed before the third alarm and after breakfast I attacked the outstanding project that needed to be done by today.

And ohh me miseram“well, puer amat mensam!” – ed … I miscalculated the timing and ran 5 minutes short of my hour. A frantic search found a piece of music exactly the correct length, and then I needed a vocal explanation to go with it. Which I recorded incorrectly.

strange sunlight effects baie de mont st michel st pair sur mer granville manche normandy franceToo late now for my shower, I shot off for my meeting at the Centre Agora.

One thing about being late for my meeting is that had I been on time five minutes earlier I would have missed this glorious light. I’ve spoken … “at great lengths” – ed … on several previous occasions, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, about the peculiar lighting effects that we can sometimes have around here and we’ve seen a few examples, but there has been nothing quite like this one.

This is one of the best that I have ever seen.

At the Centre Agora I made another suggestion but this one suffered the same fate as the other suggestions that I have made – viz kicked into the long grass. And then this abortive drive to Avranches with people who have nothing better to do with their lives.

Back here again I cracked on and finished the project that needed finishing and then I attacked the following one that I had already prepared. The music was ready and just needed the sound so I dictated that and began to edit it when i discovered that I had forgotten a track.

Down into town for this other meeting and on the way back I had a text message – “your train on Thursday is cancelled due to a strike”. So much for that!

aztec lady omerta spirit of conrad chantier navale port de granville harbour manche normandy franceOn the way back home after the meeting I went the long way round in order to clock up the kilometres and also to see what was going on in the Chantier Navale.

We stall have our three boats in there – Spirit of Conrad, Omerta and Aztec Lady but never mind them for a moment. Just admire the photograph.

It’s quite true that I’ve taken many photos that have come out far better than this one, but the fact is that this one was taken with the little Nikon 1 and if it could take photos like this all the time I wouldn’t be so reluctant to rely on it.

Whenever I go out on foot for any distance I take that one with me because it fits nicely in the pocket, but its night-time photos have usually been something of a disappointment.

With my train being cancelled, the first task when I reached home was to see what Flixbus had to offer me.

Nothing at all from Avranches, but there is a bus going from Caen at … errr … 08:00 that morning. So it looks as if Caliburn and I will be having an early start. The station car park at Caen is quite expensive but I’ll be badgered if I’m going to leave him in the street for four days.

But something happened to me today. Walking up the hill towards my meeting at the Centre Agora this morning, I suddenly came over all queer. And then tonight, I had another fall. Luckily onto a raised grass surface so I did myself no damage. But what’s happening here?

Tea was the rest of the leftover curry with rice and veg followed by the last of the pineapple with sorbet. Now I’m carrying on working as I listen to a “Traffic Live” concert. A brilliant band, Traffic, especially live.

Tomorrow I have a couple of things to do in town as well as cashing in my rail tickets, but I want to finish this project on which I’m working as well as doing another one at least before I go.

There’s tidying up to do too, so I’m hoping to be on form. But I doubt if I’ll have an early night. Far too much to do!

Sunday 10th November 2019 – EXCUSE ME …

full moon granville manche normandy france … a minute while I shave the palms of my hands.

We’re getting close to that time of year again and probably within a day or two we’ll be having a full moon. It won’t affect me of course, because although I used to be a werewolf, I’m all right nooooooooooooooooow!

Nothing wrong with a bit of lycanthropy when yuo can get it, is there?

You’re probably looking at the huge pile of photos from today and thinking that I’ve really been out on the prowl today.

And that’s quite true. I’ve done over 100% of my day’s target according to my fitbit and I haven’t failed to notice that the daily target for the new keep-fit me has increased from 7.7 kms to 9.0 kms as a result of my increased athletic activity.

Mind you, I nearly didn’t go out on the prowl today. No-one was more disappointed than me to wake up, despite having a rather latish night last night, at 06:09. And on a Sunday too.

But badger that for a game of soldiers. If anyone thinks that i’m goign to be doing anything at that particular time of the morning on a Sunday, they are totally mistaken.

What I did was to turn over and go back to sleep, where I stayed until a much-more realistic and appropriate … errr … 11:25.

Yes, it’s been a long time since I’ve had a day like that!

Plenty of time to go on a nocturnal ramble, you might be thinking. And you’re dead right.

Last night I was helping out in a cafe somewhere taking the cash from people and paying it into the till and there was some confusion about what went where because I couldn’t see where the 5 cents went. I just left them on the side while I carried on working .later, the manager came in and had a look round. “Ohh the 5 cents go in here” he said, pointing to a space in the till. But that had all kinds of rambling writing in it from someone. We had a look at it and quite a laugh because the narrative was changing from “us” to “we” to “I” as if he wasn’t really sure about who he was writing about (… there’s a Sherlock Holmes story about this …) in his long rambling speech. We had a good laugh about it and I said that I hadn’t wanted to disturb it otherwise I would have missed the start of this conversation, something like that. he said “yes” – it’s very important to get the start or you just have to wait a year and get it when it comes round again next year”. We began to talk about music lessons and I’m not quite sure how that fitted into the arrangement anywhere and I was saying that I wanted to learn the guitar and the piano and a third instrument and I lost my way into a rambling incoherent thing after that and woke up – that was at 06:09.

As I said, i went back to sleep and ended up in Leek last night – but don’t ask me why – and it wasn’t Leek at all but some strange town. I was walking through it, although there wasn’t all that much to walk through and I wanted to find a way to walk through the town. I found a street that was called James Lyette Way or James Wysse Way or something like that and that name rang a bell with me in this town – I could not think why. So I thought that I would go this way. So I got round that way and I was kicking something in front of me which wa making a rattly noise and I’d only gone about 30 yards in front of me when I came to a dead stop because there was a huge set of double doors in front of me with glass and this was the shopping centre. I thought “yes I remember this” so I walked in. There was a group of young people in there all over the place milling around, standing, talking, leaning against the wall, sitting and I noticed that they were all wearing a kind of plaid overshirt, the type that I used to like to wear but they were wearing them two by two – like if you were in a couple you had to have the same overshirt as your partner. They were lounging around and drinking coffee and so on and I said to whoever I was with “God this is where everyone – a heavy place to hang out”. There were no shops but just like little rooms with glass fronts for little groups to sit with coffee. There were stairs so we went upstairs and there was like an art class going on and people were around there doing art things, all young people all wearing these plaid shirts in couples. I was hoping to find a door through here so I could get out and find my way onto the main road, or find some shops or something interesting but this shopping precinct in James Lyette Way was really strange because there are no shops, just these rooms with these groups of young people in them sitting around.
But somewhere in the middle of all of this I had an old Ford “T” and I was having to drive somewhere. This Model “T” was old and creaking and the steering wheel was weak and about to break in two but I was driving it all the same (… and people were noticing me and watching …) on this road that was taking me towards Leek. It was all up and down hill and round bends and over canal bridges and I seem to remember that this vehicle was going really well and I was doing about 40mph and I thought to myself that at times I’ve gone down here at 60mph and it’s seemed to be really slow so I thought that it must be something to do with the particular make of car or type of car and that was when I got into Leek. And it was strange because I had to walk though the streets and they had traffic lights to control the flow of pedestrians on the pavement because the pavements were so narrow and they didn’t want you to be walking into the street.
(… something that I maybe ought to add because I can still remember it even if I didn’t dictate it – that on my way back downstairs I noticed sitting on a window ledge a young girl with glasses and curly hair all sticking up around her head. Although she was wearing a plaid overshirt she didn’t seem to strike me as being the kind of person who would have a partner (although I’m not sure why because I thought that she was quite attractive) but having a good look round I found a tall girl on her own wearing the same plaid overshirt …)

With a late start to today (almost an early start for tomorrow in fact) I had my medication and subsequently my breakfast rather later. And I did without lunch too.

instead, I cracked on and transcribed the night’s dictaphone notes, and then carried on updating the web page that I told you about the other day, and the relevant files that go to it.

And reviewing what I wrote at the time, I can say without fear of contradiction that I’m glad that I don’t write like that any more and that I’ve moved on from those days.

crowds of people pointe du roc granville manche normandy franceThat took me nicely up to the time for my afternoon walk, having missed my morning walk.

With it being a Sunday with a Bank Holiday to follow, and a nice afternoon to boot, the place was absolutely heaving. I’m sure that I can say with confidence that I have never ever seen so many people out there, even on a summer Sunday afternoon.

No idea what was going on at all

jersey channel islands granville manche normandy franceAnd it was certainly a nice day for being out there.

Although there was something of a wind, the air was perfectly clear and I could see for miles. Even parts of the Channel Islands that I have never ever seen before were perfectly visible with the big zoom lens this afternoon.

And I felt really sorry for the couple behind me asking each other if they could see with the naked eye whatever it was that I was photographing.

yacht bird english channel granville manche normandy franceIt wasn’t just on land that there were hordes of people either. It was pretty crowded out there on the water too.

This yacht was one of the many out there today having a really good time, and we were once more photo-bombed by some kind of flying thing.

Although I have spent many years doing plenty of bird-watching, and with binoculars and huge telephoto zoom lenses, it wasn’t this kind of bird that I was watching so I’ve no idea what it is. Craig thinks that it’s a cormorant but I wouldn’t know.

And that brings me round to one particular occasion when we were aboard The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour and they announced that we were going to have a lecture on birdwatching.

“Not a problem” I replied. “I had plenty of those from Nerina when I was married”

yacht motor boat pointe de carolles baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france“Hordes of people in the water” I said just now. And I was right too.

We’ve seen plenty of stuff in the English Channel, but the Baie de Mont St Michel was heaving with vessels too enjoying the wind.

And you can see how clear the weather was today too. Even the hotels down at the foot of the bay near Mont St Michel are clearly visible in this photo, and that’s without me making any special effort to include them in the image.

From the Pointe du Roc I carried on down the path and into town along the harbour.

old van rear suspension collapsed rue du port de granville harbour manche normandy franceOne of the reasons why I’d come here was to have a closer look at this strange van that has been parked at the fish processing plant for quite a while.

Either the rear suspension has collapsed or else there’s a really heavy weight in the back of it because the rear end is almost touching the roadway.

And it looks to me as if someone has jemmied the back doors of it at one time too. They are held together at the moment by a cord tied across the back.

port gates opening granville manche normandy franceAnother reason for my being down in the port area today was to go and have a look at the strange boat that has just appeared in the harbour.

The tidal gates were shut as I strolled leisurely past the fish processing plant, but just as I was about to put my foot on the top of the gates, the siren went off, the barrier went down and the gates started to open.

It seems that I had missed them by about 2 seconds. But I contented myself with watching them open, and then walked around the harbour to the other side.

chausiais granville manche normandy franceThat new boat was still there, tied up at the quay in between Vicor Hugo and Charles Marie.

And I can put a name to her too. She’s called the Chausiais and she’s out of Cherbourg.

But interestingly, she’s painted up with the advertising from the company that runs the ferry service out to the Iles de Chausey, so does this mean that they are now going to be running some kind of freight service out there?

la grande ancre granville manche normandy franceTalking of freight services to the Iles De Chausey, we’ve seen La Grande Ancre go out that way on a couple of occasions with what looked like a load of freight.

More recently though she’s been going back and to into the bay to carry out what looks like fishing activities.

But here she is, at rest today in the harbour with some kind of pontoon or lighter tied up to her.

What with one thing and another, there’s a lot of activity in the harbour these days even if we haven’t seen a gravel boat for quite some time and it doesn’t look as if there’s one due any time soon.

With it being such a nice day today I decided to carry on with another long walk.

Institution Sevigne granville manche normandy franceMy journey took me through the town and out along the old harbour railway in the general direction of the Parc du Val es Fleurs.

It’s a walk that I’ve taken on a few occasions but it wasn’t until today that I looked up onto the top and saw this building.

It’s called the “Institution Sevigne’ and it’s some kind of secondary school. The school’s advertising blurb (crudely translated by Yours Truly – after all, if you want any crudity then, in the words of the late, great Bob Doney “I’m your man”) says that it’s a “Catholic Educational Establishment of which the aim is to help young people become adults”, whatever that is supposed to imply.

animals parc du val es fleurs granville manche normandy franceIn the Parc du Val Es Fleurs there is some kind of zoo place where there are several animals of all kinds – terrestrial as well as aquatic ones.

With the crowds of people milling around the park, all of the animals were out there looking for some petting or, maybe, some food, although feeding the animals is strictly forbidden.

This horned sheep and these hens were eyeing me rather suspiciously, but I’m a vegan, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall

yacht baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy franceThere’s a path and a set of steps at the back of the park that lead up to the top of the corniche and the road to Donville-les-Bains.

We were starting to lose the light by now but there was still a good view out across the rooftops and I could see a yacht out there in the Baie de Mont St Michel making the most of the last of the weekend’s sunshine, with the Brittany coast in the background.

The seagulls perched in a line on the roof were enjoying it too.

storms high tide waves plat gousset granville manche normandy franceThere’s a back way down the hill to the Place Marechal Foch.

That was the route that I took, and found myself amongst yet another madding crowd of people. Although the wind has died down considerably from how it was a few days ago, there’s still quite a powerful force embedded in the sea.

All of the people were thoroughly enjoying it, even when they received a drenching from the spray. And we’re still half an hour from high tide too.

storms high tide waves plat gousset granville manche normandy franceBut here’s an object lesson for you all.

Never stand on the boat-launching ramp when the sea is powering its way into shore like this. One of the waves caught the edge of the ramp just in the right place at the right moment and we had this huge cloud of spray thrown up.

When the wind caught it and blew it inland, that guy there knew all about it.

For a change I climbed up tall the steps and headed home for tea. A vegan pizza, which was delicious and properly cooked too, seeing as I’ve moved the oven shelf down one row to the bottom.

Rice pudding too for afters.

night place marechal foch granville manche normandy franceEven though I’d had a really good walk this afternoon, I still went out for my evening promenade.

One or two people out there too enjoying the chilly night, and so was I because I could take my time. It’s a Bank Holiday tomorrow so I can have a lie-in.

The pleasant evening enticed me to linger a while, leaning over the wall and looking down to the Place Marechal Foch where I was earlier this evening.

parc du val es fleurs granville manche normandy franceAnd then back home, but not before I include this photo of the Parc Val es Fleurs.

The reason why it’s so interesting is that you can see just how far down it is and that gives you some idea of the steps and that path that I had to climb up to the top.

The slope is about one-in-three and I actually managed to run about 100 metres up it too, and I was well-impressed by that.

And not only that either. On my way back from my evening walk I managed my evening run and made it all the way up to the top of the little ramp too – the one that in the past has always defeated me.

Things must be looking up.

So now it’s bed-time. No alarm for me tomorrow as it’s a Bank Holiday. And if I have a sleep that’s only half as good as the one that I had last night I’ll be happy.

There will be more albums to record too. So far tonight I’ve done seven.

And the guitar too. This afternoon I’ve been working out the chords to Traffic’s “Dear Mr Fantasy”.

kids fighting granville manche normandy franceBut before I go completely, I’ll let you make up your own minds about what these kids were doing in a quiet corner of the Primary School playground down by the little stream.

kids fighting granville manche normandy france

kids fighting granville manche normandy france

jersey channel islands granville manche normandy france
jersey channel islands granville manche normandy france

fishing pointe du roc granville manche normandy france
fishing pointe du roc granville manche normandy france

yacht motor boat english channel granville manche normandy france
yacht motor boat english channel granville manche normandy france

jersey channel islands granville manche normandy france
jersey channel islands granville manche normandy france

yachts baie de mont st michel pointe de carolles granville manche normandy france
yachts baie de mont st michel pointe de carolles granville manche normandy france

privateer Le Pelley de Pléville dit la Mouette granville manche normandy france
privateer Le Pelley de Pléville dit la Mouette granville manche normandy france

chausiais granville manche normandy france
chausiais granville manche normandy france

animals parc du val es fleurs granville manche normandy france
animals parc du val es fleurs granville manche normandy france

animals parc du val es fleurs granville manche normandy france
animals parc du val es fleurs granville manche normandy france

animals parc du val es fleurs granville manche normandy france
animals parc du val es fleurs granville manche normandy france

granville manche normandy france
granville manche normandy france

storms high tide waves plat gousset granville manche normandy france
storms high tide waves plat gousset granville manche normandy france

storms high tide waves plat gousset granville manche normandy france
storms high tide waves plat gousset granville manche normandy france

storms high tide waves plat gousset granville manche normandy france
storms high tide waves plat gousset granville manche normandy france

storms high tide waves plat gousset granville manche normandy france
storms high tide waves plat gousset granville manche normandy france

storms high tide waves plat gousset granville manche normandy france
storms high tide waves plat gousset granville manche normandy france

storms high tide waves plat gousset granville manche normandy france
storms high tide waves plat gousset granville manche normandy france

storms high tide waves plat gousset granville manche normandy france
storms high tide waves plat gousset granville manche normandy france

storms high tide waves plat gousset granville manche normandy france
storms high tide waves plat gousset granville manche normandy france

storms high tide waves plat gousset granville manche normandy france
storms high tide waves plat gousset granville manche normandy france

storms high tide waves plat gousset granville manche normandy france
storms high tide waves plat gousset granville manche normandy france

Monday 21st October 2019 – YOU CAN SAY …

… that again!!!!

Certainly glad to be back in my own bed last night. So much so that I was in it for a grand total of FOURTEEN HOURS!

12:10 when my eyes first saw the light of day, but it was more like 13:10 when i crawled out of ye olde stinkinge pitte and looked around the room.

Nothing much seems to have changed except that the language settings on the laptop in the dining room have been changed and some of the clothes in the drawer seem to have been rearranged. I wish that people would leave things as they find them when they look around. I have a hard-enough time trying to find things that I’ve moved, never mind things that others have moved.

And if you don’t know how to disable the logging-on timer on a computer, you shouldn’t be logging on. I tell you – I learnt an awful lot when I studied for my Diploma in Computing.

Mind you, none of the foregoing is to give the impression that I was stark out for all of that time. One glance at the dictaphone is enough to convince anyone. 5 entries there are, and a total of 13 minutes of recording.

That must have been some eventful night and I can’t wait to find out where I was and where I went.

So, the medication and a very late lunch – never mind breakfast. And then to work.

With being away for as long as I had, there was a huge pile of stuff on the back-up drive and all of it needed copying over to the desktop machine. And then with it having been installed on at least three other machines over a short space of time, it all needed verifying to make sure that I had everything in one place – and in the right place too.

There was a short break while I went for a walk. And having missed the morning walk that I promised myself, I went on an extended circuit – the one that goes over the new bit of path that they rebuilt.

And I can safely say that after my four months away from home, I’m leaner and fitter. As well as meaner, but that’s a completely different story.

Flak at the bat, I carried on with the updating of everything, and then started on another little project.

granville manche normandy franceRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that I now have a new web-stats analyser on my blog.

And who could fail to fall in love with it when not only does it give me accurate information for a change, it gives me facilities like this aside?

Yes, it’s all out there and freely available. You won’t get any better (or worse, depending on your point of view) information from anywhere. And so I’m going to add this analyser to all of my other sites. I’ve long-suspected that the stats that I’ve been receiving from them are pretty much rubbish too

And I’ve found out why the stats on another of my sites has plummeted so much just recently. It seems that when there was a server upgrade a while ago, I was given a free secure site upgrade, and that’s running as a mirror site. And while I’ve had 2353 hits so far this month on the “standard” unsecured site, the secured (https) site has received 1669 in October to date.

When I add those two together, it gives a figure much more in line with what I would ordinarily expect to see.

As a result, I’ve started a project that will see a different hit counter added to both these sites. Mind you, just like all of the projects that I have on the go right now, heaven alone knows when this one will be completed.

And that reminds me – for the dozens of users still using Windows version 7 – you do know that Microsoft is discontinuing support for it in the New Year? You need to upgrade your version of Windows or else make sure that you have a good anti-virus.

Another thing that I did today was to install a new internet chat facility on the desktop machine. The old-established ones are dying like flies so I need something more modern. Rhys and I were having a play around with it today to find its strengths and weaknesses.

For tea I had to chisel the drawers out of the freezer to find a curry and vegetables. The door being closed for four months without any air circulation has led to a build-up of ice inside and I had some kind of difficulty opening it all.

But a lovely potato and vegetable curry went down really well and for dessert, I found some chocolate. That will do me just fine until I can get round to organising myself again.

And I need to too. You’ve no idea how long it took me to figure out how to use the microwave oven again.

There’s an acoustic guitar in here so as well as the bass I’ve been plucking away at Kris Kristofferson’s “Bobby McGee”. I’m determined to master that, and master it pretty soon.

And talking of music, for most of the day I’ve had the music going on on the computer – Traffic’s “On The Road” on a continuous loop. One of those albums that I never tire of hearing. And I’ll be listening to it for most of the night because I’m not in the least tired. 14 hours of sleep means a lot of awakening.

Perhaps I should watch a film?

Sunday 30th June 2019 – SO HERE WE ALL ARE …

… not exactly sitting in a rainbow but sitting in the bedroom of a relatively comfortable hotel in, would you believe, Aberdeen.

And how unhappy am I?

Having made a special enquiry, and had it specially confirmed, that there was a hotel shuttle bus, necessary in view of the amount of luggage that I have and the state of my knee, I telephoned the hotel when I arrived at the airport only to be told “we don’t have a driver on tonight”.

So I had to hobble, dragging my load behind me, for about a mile up the steep hill to the hotel.

On arrival, in quite some distress with my breathing problems and the like, I was given a room on the second floor (despite having asked for a low floor) – and there’s no lift. So I had to drag my load up two flights of stairs.

As you can see, despite the fact that this nice modern hotel could be such good value for money (very rare in the UK)if it were to have staff and management wh actually cared about the customers, here’s one very unhappy bunny.

And the UK? I have said (on many occasions) that I would never ever set foot in this accursed country again, but needs must when the devil drives.

With it being Sunday morning I was hoping to have my usual Sunday lie-in but after last night’s quite dramatic crashing-out, I shouldn’t have been surprised at all by sitting bolt-upright at 06:44. Not what I intended at all.

Plenty of time to go off on a nocturnal ramble.

I was doing a coach tour again last night, down in the South of France and I was picking up passengers all over the place. I couldn’t find the paperwork for the moment telling me who and where I was picking folk up. So I was doing as fast as I can, and ending up at the final stop I was one person short. So I wondered where on earth I’d got this one person short. While I was waiting I was chatting to people and some woman came up to me to ask me what I thought of the passengers – what I thought of this woman, what I thought of that man. Despite my being very non-committal which I always tried my best to be I was shaking my head and pulling a face at some of them. I certainly hadn’t intended to do that. Eventually I found the piece of paper and found that I had left three people behind at Dijon and that was over an hour back. I thought “how am I going to explain this?” because I’d have to ring up the company to say that I didn’t get them and if I had the paperwork I could have done that. But Dijon is this thing and I might have to go all the way back and upset all of the passengers before I’d even started. One woman pulled the voyage list that I had to read it and of course i had to pull it back before she could as passengers aren’t supposed to read the voyage list with everyone’s name and address on it.
Later on I’d been in Crewe last night with Margaret Armstrong’s old Ford Cortina and parked it up in Bedford Street. I’d walked through the alleyway round all the backs of the houses round the back of Chambers Street and Catherine Street and all of those places, walking for a while around there. There were all kinds of exciting things round there, round Gresty Road where My sister used to live it had all been transformed with some kind of building built onto the backs of the houses over the back yards, and a derelict house that I had once looked at, that was all derelict too and the roof and attic too of this “new build” extension. And some weird semi-detached houses, quite modern design all covered in ivy, and some older semi-detached houses derelict and bricked up. Unkempt gardens and all kinds of things like that. There was a girl there, walking in my direction back to the car, on the phone so I passed her once, she passed me and I passed her again. As I got to the car she came over to me “you’ve got the zodiacs, haven’t you?” I said that they are actually on board the ship and that’s off the coast of Scotland at the moment”. “Well I want to make the white cloth to throw over them” So I said that I would get the measurements the next time that I’m up there, which will be in a couple of weeks’ time..

Firstly though, I had to find my medication. But I’ve packed it so well that it remains well and truly packed and I probably shan’t find it until I return home, whenever that might be, because now that I have my French Carte de Sejour I’m not in any hurry to go home.

After breakfast I attacked yesterday’s blog and then went out to the station. Now 09:30 so Subway should be open to buy something for lunch, and to buy my rail ticket. But much to my surprise, Subway was closed. And none of my raisin buns in Carrefour either so instead I had to go back down into the bowels of the station to the Delhaize and that came up trumps with a vegan falafel salad, demi-baguette and a fruit mixture thing. The guy at the till even found me a plastic cutlery set to eat it with.

So on the way back out, Subway was just opening up. That’ll teach them!

Back at the hotel I collected up everything, organised myself, grabbed my stuff and went off to pay for my two breakfasts. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I’ve paid the booking agency in advance for a couple of breakfasts in a couple of places, only for the hotel to have “no trace” of the breakfast payment. So now I pay on-site if I’m breakfasting.

Down to Brussels-Midi station in time to leap aboard a Nederlandse Spoorwegen train to Amsterdam via the airport. It threw me out here. And here I am, in the departure lounge of Brussels Zaventam Airport, waiting for an aeroplane. And I hope that the Big Old Jet Airliner will carry me far away.

I eventually found the flight desk, which was not yet open and so I had a lengthy wait, spent talking to a couple from Australia and a young guy who looked like a Pacific islander from Baltimore.

Check-in was quite straightforward and Security even more straightforward. If only it would be as simple as this in other airports. Now I’m sitting quietly waiting to find out which terminal my flight will dock at, and I’m clearly in Travelling Mode because I’m listening to Colosseum Liveand I’ll probably follow it up by listening to On The Road by Traffic. My two favourite travelling albums.

We we were eventually called to our aeroplane. It was now moored at gate A60 at the far end of the terminal from where I was so I had something of a hike, which will probably do me good anyway.

I didn’t have long to wait and much to my surprise we were very quick in boarding the ‘plane. There were only a handful of empty seats but it was only a small ‘plane. I asked the stewardess if it was a Fokker and she replied “no, it’s quite well-behaved”. But I made a note of its registration – PH-EXT. That tells me that It’s an Embraer 190.

The name of the stewardess was Suske so I asked her what she had done with Schanulleke. But as Kenneth Williams and Alfred Hitchcock once said, and as I have repeated on many occasions, “it’s a waste of time telling jokes to foreigners”.

Once the ‘plane took off I switched on the laptop, put it onto flight mode, and started to listen to “Lost Angeles” once more. But it was quite pointless because no sooner had it all fired up than I had to switch off because we had gone into the arrivals path. In fact, I think that we spent more time manoeuvring on the ground than we spent in the air.

It’s not all that far to Schiphol from Zaventem and I could have gone by TGV from Bruxelles-Midi but believe it or not, it would have worked out more expensive. And that’s something that I don’t understand.

And I’m pretty annoyed because I have to wait 5 hours or so for a connection. There was a flight that went my way that took off 5 minutes before we landed but, would you believe, it was delayed and I could in theory have gone on that had I realised and run for it.

So now I have to wait. I sat and ate my delicious falafel salad and bread.

To reach my flight I had to pass through passport control and for some reason I was grabbed for a security check. I always have bad experiences at Schiphol, as I remember from last time.

I was given the “works” and was preparing myself for the cavity search when they suddenly found what had drawn their attention to me. “No, those aren’t bullets in a magazine. They are AAA batteries in a battery holder”.

It was weird at the terminal. People were actually locked into their departure lounge and if you weren’t on that particular flight you were locked outside. I had to wait for ages until the departure lounge cleared and they tidied it up before I was allowed in.

In the meantime they had changed departure lounges without saying anything and I almost found myself going to Glasgow. I had to hurry along down the corridor.

The place to Aberdeen was packed, and it was a big plane too. PH-BGK, a Boeing 737 called Noordse Stormvogel . They asked for volunteers to send their hand luggage into the hold and I volunteered. Less to have to carry around.

And it seemed that everyone knew each other. Probably Shell oil workers flying back to the platforms after a weekend off.

We had to wait for 20 minutes too. There was a connection that arrived late and some of our passengers were on it. And then when they arrived, we had to wait again for a free slot. However, we arrived in Aberdeen only a few minutes late.

Immigration was relatively painless and our bags were already out when we arrived in the hall.

And then I had my issues with the hotel.

Once installed in my room I had a nice, welcome shower and washed my rather sweaty undies, and now I’m off to bed. I’ve had enough of today. And this might be the last you’ll hear from me for a while, so don’t be disappointed. Check back regularly until normal service will be resumed.

Sunday 14th April – LUCKY ME!

I’ve had a free upgrade at the place where I stay when I’m in Leuven. Usually I’m in a small single room (with kitchenette and all facilities of course) but for some reason that I don’t understand, I’ve been given a comfortable duplex apartment and it’s very nice.

I shall have to come here more often.

Last night was a pretty bad night for some reason. I was very late going to bed and once more, I spent most of my night tossing and turning. This isn’t a very good sign for my day tomorrow.

Nevertheless I was out of bed very smartly and attacked the tasks necessary for my trip today to Leuven. Making sandwiches, packing, all these kinds of things. Even a little cleaning. There was still 20 minutes to go before I needed to leave to I took my shower – the one that I missed yesterday.

08:10, I left the apartment and a brisk stroll saw me at the station by 08:35. And I do have to say that “brisk” was the word. Despite having had a really short, bad night, I was feeling quite sprightly for a change.

repairing medieval city wall Boulevard des 2eme et 202eme de Ligne granville manche normandy franceAnd even in sprightly mode I made several stops along the way.

The first stop was in the Boulevard des 2ème et 202ème de Ligne to see how the repairs to the old medieval walls are getting on.

And they seem to be making really good progress and the new stone blocks that they are blending into the existing walls really look quite the part.

They have several sections to go at and it will all be looking quite good when it’s done.

street sweeper rue couraye granville manche normandy franceAnd despite it being early, I wasn’t alone in the street either.

I was being stalked all the way up the rue Couraye by the Sunday morning street cleaner. He was heading on quite nicely, making U-turns and going the wrong way down the one-way street to brush the other side, whether there was another car coming or not.

At least he was useful as some kind of pacemaker to help me on my way.

My cleaner was there at the station so I said “hello”, and then purchased a coffee from the machine. And then waited for the train because it wasn’t in the platform.

gec alsthom regiolis gare de granville manche normandy franceAnd fortune smiled on me too on the train. I had a very charming young companion next to me and although she didn’t have too much to say for herself, it’s the kind of thing that does my ego a great deal of good.

Surprisingly, I stayed awake for most of the trip. I ate my breakfast (crackers and mandarins) and settled down to read Carl Rafn’s Antiquities Americanae.

Written in 1837, its claim to fame is that Rafn was the very first person to take seriously the prospect that the Norse Sagas about the voyages to “Vinland” were actually based on fact and not mere fireside fiction, and he actually set in motion some kind of technical research and calculations to back up his theories.

His theories and calculations were dismissed by later hisotians, most notably by Arthur Reeves who wrote in 1914 “… If less effort had been applied to the dissemination and defence of fantastic speculations, and more to the determination of the exact nature of the facts …” and then proceeded on after 200 or so pages in his book “The Finding of Wineland the Good” to reach almost the same conclusions as those of Rafn.

But today, as we all know because we’ve been there and seen it, tangible evidence of Norse occupation has been discovered in the New World and although it’s not where Rafn expected it to be, my opinion is that the site at L’Anse aux Meadows isn’t Vinland at all but another unrecorded Norse settlement, and Vinland remains to be discovered.

We pulled into Paris Montparnasse-Vaugirard more-or-less bang on time and I strode off through the massed ranks of travellers down to the heaving metro station. There’s a change on the metro there too, because they have now put up crowd control gates on the platform.

The train was crammed to capacity and I had to wait a while before I could find a seat. I sat next to an African woman and her little daughter Adela who proudly told me that she was two years and three months old.

The two of them sang all the way to where I alighted, and I had the pleasure of telling mummy that it made my day to see a little kid so happy.

gare du nord paris franceAlthough it was cold and windy, it was so nice outside that I went for a good walk around outside for a look at what goes on in the vicinity of the station.

And now I know that if ever I forget my butties I won’t be short of something to eat because there were plenty of fast-food shops right in the immediate vicinity.

But seeing as I hadn’t forgotten them, I sat on a bench in the station, surrounded by a group of schoolkids and ate them (the butties, not the kids) and then went for my train.

thalys tgv PBKA series 4300 4322 gare du nord paris franceMy train was another one of the Paris-Brussels-Koln-Amsterdam “PBKA” trainsets.

And as I boarded it, fatigue caught up with me and I travelled all the way to Brussels in a state of blissful subconsciousness, to the strains of Traffic’s On The Road” – one of the top-ten best live albums ever.

My neighbour had boarded the train carrying, of all things a rolled-up carpet. I asked him whether it had run out of fuel, or else why he didn’t just unroll it and travel to Brussels on that.

However, as Kenneth Williams and Alfred Hitchcock once famously remarked, “it’s a waste of time trying to tell jokes to foreigners”.

sncb class 18 electric locomotive gare de leuven belgiumAt Brussels my train to Leuven was already in the station so I was able to reap the benefits of having pre-purchased my ticket on the internet. No waiting in a queue for a ticket or finding that the machines are out of order. I just leapt on board.

It was our old friend 1861, and that was crowded too for some reason. There seems to be an awful lot of people travelling today.

I suppose it’s with it being Easter weekend next weekend and everyone is off for their holidays.

I’ve already explained about my change of room, and once I was settled in I had a lengthy talk with Rosemary on the telephone.

toren oude stadsomwalling sint donatuspark leuven belgiumThat took me up to the time to go out and meet Alison. We went off for a vegan burger at the Greenway

Our route there took us through the St Donatus Park where we could admire the Toren Oude Stadsomwalling – the Tower of the Old City Wall.

This wall was started to be built in 1160. It had 31 towers, 11 street gates and 3 water gates. 2740 metres long, it enclosed 40 hectares.

It was superseded in 1360 by another wall roughly where the ring-road is now, and demolition began towards the end of the 18th Century.

There’s still a fair bit remaining, and on our travels we’ve seen quite a bit of it.

mural Jozef Vounckplein leuven belgiumAfter our burger we went for our usual coffee at Kloosters Hotel.

And on our way back to the car, weaving our weary way through the side streets, we came across this really beautiful mural in what I think is the Jozef Vounckplein.

I don’t recall having seen this before.

And good old Alison. While she was at the English Shop yesterday she found some vegan hot cross buns. So now I’m properly prepared for my Good Friday anyway.

On that note, I’ll go upstairs and try out my new bed. I hope that it’s as comfortable as it looks.

gare du nord paris france
gare du nord paris france

gare du nord paris france
gare du nord paris france

Wednesday 7th September 2016 – WHAT A GOOD DECISION …

… that was, to book into that hotel at the back of the coach station.

I was stark out as soon as I laid down my weary head. We did have an interruption at about 23:45 when a baby started to cry, but that can happen in the best of places and it was a thing of five minutes. And then I needed to make a trip down to the corridor at about 03:00. I finally came to my senses, such as they are, at 04:45, having had a good night’s sleep in this extremely comfortable bed. The night porter’s call at 05:00 was therefore rather superfluous but it was nice to know that it was available and that it works.

But I’ll tell you this – $30-odd less per night than sleeping out at an airport hotel and while the comfort is rather less, I don’t need most of the difference. For the time and money that I save and for the convenience of being in the city centre, if I do ever make it back to Montreal I’ll be coming here, even if it does involve a 500-metre drag of the suitcase. And remember – when I stayed in Lille the other year I dragged it farther than that – and uphill too!

Let’s face it. It’s seen better days, this hotel, but I had a good shower, a really comfortable sleep, and no-one stole my boots. What more do you need?

I was too early for breakfast of course, but that can’t be helped. My bus was more important. I was at the coach station in no time flat and a friendly security guard unlocked the door to the left-luggage room and took my voucher so that I could recover my suitcase and Strawberry Moose, and we took our place in the queue, chatting to a guy who said he was a scouser, although he sounded more Northern Irish to me.

The trip to Sainte-Foy, on the edge of the city of Quebec, took just under three hours and I spent the time in half-asleep mode. After all, it was quite early in the morning. And it’s a good job that I didn’t go to sleep (or is it?) because this bus apparently goes right out to Sept Iles, somewhere else where we’ve been before and where I can catch a train to Labrador.

But when we reached our destination – Sainte Foy, not Sept Iles – a couple of mugs of coffee and a few rounds of toast and jam revived my spirits somewhat, although I’m not sure that you really need to say more than once that you don’t want butter on your toast.

viagra condom machine st foy coach station quebec canada september septembre 2016But what’s this all about? That chewing gum was disgusting – $2:00 for three slices and it tasted of nothing but rubber. As for the viagra however, I tried that once many years ago whilst in the company of the much – maligned Percy Penguin, who didn’t appear in these pages anything like as often as she deserved to back in those days. And I clearly didn’t swallow the viagra quickly enough – I had a stiff neck for a week.

And you all know that the wish that I have about my departure is to go suddenly while in the arms of a nubile nymphet a third of my age. Were I to be lucky enough to find a willing volunteer, the viagra would come in handy in those circumstances. But it would take them three days before they could put the lid on the coffin.

ship of the day pierre laporte bridge st lawrence river quebec canada september septembre 2016Coming over the Pont Pierre Laporte, which we’ve visited before, there was a ship a-sailing … "a-dieseling, you mean" – ed … by, up the river towards Montreal. It’s too far away to see what it is, but it’s the only likely candidate for today’s Ship of the Day and so we’ll include it in here.

We’ll see if we can identify it at a later date when I can access the record of the Port of Montreal … "he couldn’t" – ed.

But on the subject of Pierre Laporte, the whole world is currently up in arms about what they perceive as brown-skinned terrorism, but never forget that Pierre Laporte, a leading Canadian politician, was kidnapped and brutally murdered in cold blood by white-skinned Catholic terrrorists during a major terrorism in Canada – and some of the perpetrators of the crise d’Octobre were given a free passage to Cuba by the craven Canadian Government.

And not only that, some modern-day Quebec politician proposed to erect a plaque in their honour. Yes, and the Canadians complain about brown-skinned terrorists. You couldn’t make this up, could you?

orleans express bus sainte foy riviere du loup canada september septembre 2016But now the bus is in, and it’s two hours from Sainte-Foy to Riviere du Loup.

So feeling a bit more like it after the coffee, I did a pile of paperwork on the laptop and listened to some good music to pass the time. I’m in Traffic mode right now and I had a good listen to Sometimes I Feel So Uninspired from the magnificent On The Road album, because that’s just how I’m feeling right now. And if he can play a lead guitar solo like the last four minutes of that track when he’s feeling do uninspired, whatever could he do if he were to have some inspiration?

holland hurricane express bus edmundston new brunswick canada september septembre 2016By the time I got to Phoe … errr … Riviere du Loup I wasn’t all that far behind where I wanted to be. But we were late and the connecting bus was already in so I had no chance to buy something to eat and drink. Luckily, I still had a packet of the vegan crisps that Alison had bought for me in Belgium and which had survived the voyage across the Atlantic. They didn’t survive the voyage down to Edmunston anyway.

And our Holland Hurricane has internet available and I can actually configure it to work. All I need now is a few people on line to talk to, but as soon as all of my friends see me come on line, they all clear off rather smartish-like.

We had a 15-minute stop at Edmundston (it’s nice to be back in New Brunswick anyway. Home Sweet Home, an hour in front of Quebec time of course) which was plenty of time to visit the gentleman’s rest room and to pick up a coffee. That’s me organised now for the two hour journey that remains.

Much to my – and everyone else’s – surprise, the bus was bang on time to the minute on its arrival at Florenceville. Rachel, my niece, was already there and waiting and so that was ideal. She had a few errands to perform and then it was off to Centreville and the tyre depot. Rachel went on to do some more errands and I came back here with Darren and Amber.

First task was to sort out Strider. He’s been in his little hidey-hole since last October and needed to see the light of day. Even though the battery had had the odd trickle-charge it was a little flaky so that will need to be replaced, and the tyres were down. And not just that, but some creature or other had made a nest with the soundproofing from underneath the bonnet. But it’s good to be back behind the wheel of Strider again – just like old times and as soon as I can resolve this continuing insurance issue we’ll be in business.

Darren and I had quite a chat but I eventually called it a night. It’s far too much for me these days. It’s amazing just how tired you become doing nothing but sitting around all day on a bus.

And it’s nice to see some friendly faces, but a couple of weeks with me will soon take care of all of that.

Wednesday 7th December 2011 – SO WHERE WAS I …

… last night when I should have been posting my blog entry on-line?

The answer was that I wasn’t here.

I was probably fast asleep on a Motorway Service Area somewhere on the edge of Paris.

Now that my stay here is going to be permanent (well, it always has been since 2007 but having sold my big apartment in Brussels in the summer, I now have no choice) I need to upgrade my electricity system.

The solar panels are of course permanent but things like the inverter, the batteries, the cabling and so on have been “job lots” picked up here and there and while they might be okay for a casual arrangement, things have changed.

I’ve ordered some additional panels and a new inverter, and … gulp … 8 200-zmp-hour sealed gel batteries, each one of which weighs about 60 kg, from my suppliers. And the delivery costs are astronomical, to say the least.

It works out to be far cheaper for me to travel there and collect them, so that was what I decided to do.

And I had a good drive there too. The Transport Cafe near Gien was open and so I even managed a shower, so I’m nice and clean, which makes quite a change for just recently.

But parts of the drive were exciting. At some small town round near Nemours somewhere, there are five or six traffic lights in sequence on the road through the place and they are always against you. And when I stopped at the first one the car behind me overtook me and drove slowly through the lights.

And did that all the way up to light number 5.

At number 6 you do have to stop as it’s a major road and I caught up with him there just as that turned to green – so I was past him again and back in front.

So now I’m settling down for a good sleep and I’ll tell you the rest tomorrow.