Tag Archives: vanessa

Saturday 23rd December 2023 – A GREAT BIG …

… “hello” to a certain young lady from my past who has featured in these pages, mainly during my nocturnal voyages, on about a dozen occasions over the previous ever so many years.

It’s pretty certain that she won’t want her name blasted all over these pages – after all, who would really want to be associated with me to that extent? – but she’s found her way here, recognised herself from a few of the remarks that I’ve made in passing, and sent me her best wishes.

So best wishes back to you too!

Also a big “hello” to Grahame who did indeed listen to the wrong track the other morning and wrote and told me about it. I hope that you enjoy the correct version while you’re stuffing your Christmas bird.

And not to forget a big “hello” to Robert from the Orkney Islands who sent me a few photos from 45 or so years ago. And when I’ve recovered from the shock, I’ll post them on here and give you all a laugh.

The reason why I’m mentioning the correspondence here is because all three people wrote to me using a Gmail account, to which I can’t reply. Google has blocked access to its e-mail system from all small independent webservers who won’t put Google’s own code into their sites.

So if anyone receives an e-mail in the future from STRAWBERRY MOOSE, you’ll know that he’s writing on my behalf. As far as I’m aware, his account can still access Gmail.

Anyone else who has written to me recently from a different account will have received a reply.

However, I’m not sure how I managed to do that because even though I was up and about at 09:45 this morning, I didn’t go to bed last night … "this morning" – ed … until after 04:00. I wasn’t at all tired and just couldn’t go off to sleep.

But when I finally awoke, first task was to take my blood pressure.

The dratted box was flaming well sealed shut and took some rather aggressive action to open it. And then I had to wrestle the blasted batteries out of the sodding plastic wrapping and that was a real work of art to do that.

Then I couldn’t open the perishing battery flap in the wretched machine for ages.

And how the hell do you wrap the flaming strap around your perishing arm with only one bleeding hand?

At that point I noticed the instructions – "blood pressure should be taken in a calm, relaxed and stress-free situation" and I thought “maybe I ought to start this tomorrow rather than today”.

Instead, I went to deal with the broccoli.

Firstly, I trimmed off the florets and put them in cold water which I slowly brought to the boil.

While it was heating up, I diced the stalk into tiny pieces, diced a small potato ditto, chopped some garlic and a small onion.

When the broccoli reached boiling point I fished out the florets and put them to drain. Then I put the water on one side for reuse.

Into the saucepan went a knob of butter and when it reached cooking temperature, in went the onion with some coriander, chives and marjoram and fried until it started to go brown.

Then I added the diced broccoli stalk, the diced potato and the garlic and spent five minutes or so stirring it all round before adding enough of the broccoli water to cover the veg – not forgetting the stock cube this week as I had the last time.

When I judged that it was ready, I added a pot of soya yoghurt and whizzed it up ready to eat.

While it was cooking I was topping, tailing, scrubbing and slicing 2 kg of carrots into the giant saucepan.

When the soup was ready the carrots went on to blanch while I ate my soup with the nice crusty bread that I’d bought.

Once I’d had my food I came back in here to transcribe the dictaphone entries from the night. Once again I was dictating into my hand and when I awoke most of this dream evaporated. What I do remember is that I was walking down a street and I came across a group of children whom I knew from somewhere else. They were all having a play around with a couple of other kids. It seemed to me as if there was some tension in the air and I couldn’t understand why. One of them, probably the one whom I knew best had on a swimming costume but had a tailored winter coat over the top of it. That looked quite strange. There was some discussion about milk and so on. Because they were busy having their issues they didn’t actually hear it. Later on when the woman was dictating the report, she said “and there was milkshake too, strawberry, but no-one seemed to want any”.

I think that I dictated that dream about me and all of those kids … "yes you did" – ed … At the place where we were, there were a couple of adults too. One of the adults there was a particularly obnoxious character who seemed to detest everyone and didn’t have a good word to say about anything. He had an accident one day and slipped. He had to be somewhere so one of the girls went to fetch some kind of toy-type of thing like a small horse on four wheels with a handle on which a parent would put a child and pull it round the room for fun. She went to fetch this and somehow the old guy managed to mount it, broken arm and all. She set off quite happily pulling him to his meeting like that. It was one of the sweetest things I’d ever seen.

Later on I was on my way to a folk music concert in Abingdon and had the computer open on my lap for how to arrive there. I was flagged down by a policeman who saw me with the computer open. He wondered if I was watching a film. I satisfied him that it was a map. When he turned it round he could see that in the camera was actually me being shown on the screen. He accepted that that was OK and waved me on again. I drove as far as Basingstoke. As I came into the town there were these 3 great big buildings at the side of the road, one after the other, all completely derelict and abandoned. I thought “what a sight to greet visitors this is”. I parked up and went for a walk around. I ended up in the shopping precinct, a miserable place. But then I couldn’t find the exit. I was wandering around that shopping centre for ages. Then I bumped into Zero’s parents (but unfortunately not Zero). We went for a coffee. They were discussing things that they needed to do. I told them that I’d be quite happy to help so they asked me if I’d make a phone call to Penzance on their behalf. I didn’t know where the phone boxes were. She said “there’s one just outside the centre”. I replied “I’ve been wandering around here for ages trying to leave. Where’s the exit?”. She pointed out some kind of tiny spiral staircase thing. Before I left, we began to talk about other plans. A while ago I’d referred them to a guy who built computers. I asked if they’d had much luck with him. They suddenly realised that he’d never contacted them al all. They were all for contacting him on the spot. In the end we worked out some kind of plan about I’d ring them every morning before they left for work at 07:30 to receive my orders for the day. Then I was wondering whether it might be better if they were to ring me before they left for work. That was where I was busy debating with myself

My cleaner turned up round about now and awoke me from a little siesta that I was having. She had brought with her some more medication that had had to be ordered. Now I really am overflowing with medication and I’ve no idea where to begin. I can see that I’ll have to rejig my entire schedule and it’s going to become really complicated.

vegan wellington Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo 23rd December 2023And this, dear reader, is my vegan wellington.

It doesn’t look particularly attractive but then again, it’s not the culinary disaster that I was half-expecting. It actually tastes quite nice too, if the bits that bubbled out of the side are anything to go by.

That was this afternoon’s task – to make the vegan wellington. It took quite a long time too all told and I was hard at it for several hours all told.

Despite only making half a quantity, there’s still a considerable amount here and there will be plenty left over. It’ll probably freeze for another time, if only I were to have some room in the freezer. No matter how much I use out of there, the quantity never seems to go down.

All that remains now, as far as food for Christmas goes, are the hash browns.

And it’s quite appropriate to talk about them seeing as I mentioned culinary disasters just now. No matter how I try to make them, they never go right. My family in Canada can belt these out by the thousand, perfect every time, but somehow the technique always escapes me

Tomorrow I’ll have another go and see where that takes me. I have plenty of potatoes here.

And I had a smile to myself today. Rosemary has taken the first photograph of her cat.

When I was down there in the summer three years ago there were several feral cats roaming around.

When I was down there in the summer last year it was “don’t let that white cat into the house! It keeps on trying to come in”.

A few weeks ago I was talking on the phone to Rosemary and I asked her to read something that she’d received. “Just hang on a minute. I’ll have to stand up to fetch it. Let me take Myrtille off my lap”.

And today we had the first photo.

No-one I ever knew ever won a fight with a cat.

Tomorrow, for one of the very rare occasions on a Sunday, there will be an alarm call – and at 08:20 too.

The injections start up again on Wednesday and the nurse wants to see the prescriptions beforehand so he knows what tubes to bring for the blood samples – blood tubes are colour-coded depending on what they are testing.

He’s in the building administering to my ill neighbour so he says that he’ll pass by – between 08:30 and 08:45

Then there’s just the hash browns to make and I’ll be as ready as I ever will be for Christmas. I’m really not feeling festive one little bit which is a shame but that’s no surprise. It’s been another year when I’ve been through the mill

But I’ll go through the motions all the same. I don’t know what else to do.

"Me, my thoughts are flower strewn
With ocean storm, bayberry moon
I have got to leave to find my way
Watch the road and memorise
This life that passed before my eyes
Nothing is going my way"

I HAVE GOT TO FIND THE RIVER

Tuesday 21st November 2023 – MEANWHILE, IN THE ….

… Social Services office –
Social Services Officer – "Do you have any problems with your hearing?"
Our Hero – "Pardon?"

Yes, I’ve been up to my ears in interviews today

And believe it or not, I prepared well for it today by crashing out on several occasions. Not that I’m sure that I know why because last night was one of the better nights’ sleeps that I’ve had quite recently, and I can’t remember very much of what was going on during the night.

When the alarm went off I staggered to my feet and went in search of my medication. A fine way to start the day.

Back in here afterwards I had a few letters to write and some information to pull together ready for people whom I’m likely to meet during the course of the day.

Once I’d prepared my papers I had a listen to the dictaphone notes and to my surprise and delight I was joined, at different times of course, by a couple of my favourite companions. And what a shame that I didn’t remember all that much about it. First out of the block was Zero, whose birthday it apparently was last night and there had been a big party. I’d been staying there for a few days and the morning after we decided that we’d make a start on tidying up. There were some things needed from the shop so they asked me if I would go to fetch them. The car there was a Chrysler Neon so I took it and drove away to the shops to do the shopping. Their driveway was between two pillars of brick and was fairly narrow but on the way back I just drove past and reversed in as I would normally do anywhere else. As we were walking in Zero’s mother said something about tidying up but I didn’t quite understand it – I didn’t quite hear what she said – so I sad to Zero “yes, go and put all the balloons in the cellar and jump around in there”. Her mother looked at me and said “that’s a much better idea than mine”. I was surprised because I thought that that was what she’d actually said but she must have said something different that I didn’t hear correctly. In the house when I went in there were loads of people sleeping around on sofas etc, dogs and cats etc everywhere. Apparently Zero had had a rabbit for her birthday and was playing with it somewhere.

As for the rabbit, I’m not quite sure where that fitted in, but I remember hiring a Chrysler Neon on a couple of occasions when I was in the USA 25 or so years ago and for a basic uncomplicated saloon car it was quite a pleasant vehicle

And then later on I was with Percy Penguin too. She’d finished work and gone home but she contacted me to ask me to come to pick her up. I thought that I’d go along to see what was the matter with her. When I pulled up she said nothing but just got into the car with a very depressed look on her face. After a couple of minutes she began to tell me her problems with her father – how when they go away on holiday he just lies in bed all day and doesn’t do anything. You could never force him out to do things etc. He’d completely lost interest in life and it was weighing down heavily on everyone. I set off to go for a drive with her and let her talk but for some reason, 2 or 3 times we ended up back outside her house and leaving again as if she kept on changing her mind then changing it again. We drove for a while as she told me all about these things. In the end we came into Shavington. There was some kind of fair there so we went for a walk around and came across some kind of craft fair that was proposing exhibitions and workshops. One was to make your own teddy bear and was on Wednesday at 17:30. I was explaining it to a father who was looking for some information for his daughter and noticed that Percy Penguin was listening too. I explained all about it to her. In the end we agreed that it was a shame that she knew no-one on Shavington because she could have gone there after work to wait until this course started, done the course and I would have taken her home after I returned from work. After a while of this she said that she wanted to go home. I asked why, if I could persuade her to stay out, but she said that she hadn’t yet done her homework for the week. I had the feeling that was an excuse rather than anything else but in the end I ended up taking her home.

Now there was someone who doesn’t feature half as often in these pages as she deserves. Her simple, uncomplicated, undemanding nature helped me through quite a few really stressful periods that I went through at one time or another and I wish that there were more people like her in this world.

Having transcribed the dictaphone notes I sat down to revise my Welsh ready for today’s lesson but regrettably I had the first of a couple of sessions today where I was away with the fairies for a while.

Armed with my coffee and my slice of bread-and-butter pudding I went for my lesson, which passed well enough although I’m convinced that I’m miles off the pace with this course. I just can’t concentrate on what I’m supposed to be doing.

However, as for my bread-and-butter pudding, it’s really turned out quite well and I’m very pleased with it. However it tastes quite differently from the bread-and-butter pudding that my mother used to make when we were kids, but that’s probably a good thing because my mother was not well-known for her culinary prowess.

In fact I had to wait until I met Nerina before I really began to eat well. And that’s no real surprise – anyone brought up by an Italian mother is bound to be at the top of the game in that respect and I was rather spoilt.

After I’d had a good wash and clean-up the car came for me and we set off for the Centre de Re-education where Severine put me through my paces. She told me that my sessions last week were cancelled because the ergotherapist had damaged her leg and was off work – not exactly the best recommendation for a Centre de Re-education.

With no ergotherapist I had to loiter around for a while before my appointment with the Social Services. She didn’t really have very much to tell me that I didn’t already know but she took copious notes which might serve some kind of purpose in the near future, I suppose.

Back here I had my hot chocolate and chocolate biscuits and then began the task of taking the inventory of what I have in store here.

And within a matter of a handful of seconds I came across 2kg of flour that I’d overlooked and also a tin of custard powder that I must have bought in the English shop in Belgium at some point when I was living in Leuven.

After about half an hour or so I was probably about a tenth of the way through the shelves but I’d already found enough room to store the food processor and its accessories. I’ll have another half-hour at it tomorrow when I’ll probably discover the 10 lost tribes of Israel, Lord Lucan and Martin Bormann.

Here and there when I’ve not been asleep I’ve been making a start on the next radio programme. The music has now been paired off and I’m halfway through writing the notes. I’ll finish that off tomorrow and dictate them tomorrow night. I have no visit to the Centre de Re-education on Thursday but the engineer is coming.

Tea tonight was a taco roll with some of the stuffing from yesterday. And there’s plenty left to make a leftover curry for Wednesday night. There’s still some naan bread dough left in the freezer.

As well as everything else I’ve had the acoustic guitar out again for a good while. I’m not sure why because I don’t think that I’ll ever play again in public but I suppose that nevertheless I ought to do my best to press on regardless.

Having finished my notes I’m going to have my hot drink and then go to bed. I probably won’t sleep much tonight with having had several goes at it already but I’ll do my best. And I’ll wonder about who will come along to visit me tonight.

Friday 1st September 2023 – FOURTEEN MINUTES …

… of added time was played at the end of the second half of the game between Caernarfon and Connah’s Quay this evening.

When a spectator ran onto the pitch after 53 minutes I thought “here we go again. A repeat of what happened at the game of Y Fflint v Caernarfon towards the end of last season”.

However, it was slightly different this evening. The fan was wildly gesticulating at the Medics’ bench and they suddenly got the message because they sprinted over to the supporter with their medical bags.

After much confusion and a lengthy waiting period, we saw the two medics helping from the ground someone who was clearly in a great amount of distress. And then the game could restart.

When I awoke this morning I was in great distress too because I’d had another turbulent night, as seems to be the pattern these days. I managed to beat the second alarm, but not by much, and then gradually dragged myself into the Land of the Living.

The 09:10 bus was late this morning and so I had to hang around in the wind for a while. But I made it to Carrefour with enough time to do some shopping for the weekend. A few bits and pieces including a couple more small peppers.

The freezer is now full of those but that’s just as well because I can’t ever find them when I want them. Giant peppers I can find by the dozen but they are too big for my air fryer. and there is too much of them anyway for a small appetite like mine.

Back here I had my coffee and cheese on toast and then attacked this back-up task that I’ve been planning.

And by now it’s all ready in principle. I just want one more hard drive for the images which I want to keep separate from everything else. There’s a spare drive bay (in fact there are two) in the array on the shelf so there’s no problem there.

While I was waiting for things to happen I transcribed the dictaphone notes. And I had a surprise visitor. I’d been round to Stoke on Trent to talk to someone whom I used to know. Just at that moment Zero came back home. She went into the house and came out on a scooter, a 3-wheeled thing where you put both feet on and push yourself off and go whizzing down the hill. Her mother ran after her and I ran after her too. Then her mother was on a bike and I ran. She shouted at me “come on Eric, keep up”. I thought “there’s no way that I could keep up with people going at this speed the way I am”. She reached the bottom of the hill, turned round and came back up, came up alongside me, stopped and jumped off She said “get on, we’re going to ..” I thought she said “Meir” so I replied “that’s miles away”. “No” she replied” My house nearby”. She shot off and I chased after her on the scooter thing.

Mind you, I didn’t catch her. Even in the ethereal world she manages to keep well out of the way of my evil clutches as, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, so does TOTGA.

That wasn’t the only excitement of the night either. I’d been away somewhere and then come back with a load of clothes etc all of which I’d washed and hung up. We were a big family living in this house, sleeping anywhere. We didn’t so much have bedrooms allocated. I slept on the sofa in the living room and my chest of drawers of clothes was behind it. Someone whom I knew came and began to disrupt my entire routine. I had to go to have a shower. The first thing that I needed was some clothes so I went to fetch some but the only top that I could find was a thermal vest top. I thought “never mind – I’ll take that”. My mother asked me if I was taking that. I replied “yes”. Once I’d climbed over this rubbish and back to my settee I had to climb back because I needed my deodorant etc to take with me into the bathroom. The visitor was ever so confused about what was happening and so I think was everyone else including me.

Later on I was looking for clothes for one of my 3D figures. I’d just uploaded a whole pile of brand-new stuff and the folders weren’t sorted out correctly as I would like so things were in a bit of a mess. I wasn’t quite sure where I should be looking to find the item of clothing that I wanted my figure to wear. This meant that I was going to have to start to do a big organisation of all of that but I certainly didn’t feel like it at this time of the morning when I’d been asleep.

I’d also invented some kind of leg brace to improve the posture on young girls, like a V_shape with holders at the open end of the V in which you’d put your legs so your legs were always a constant distance apart and could only go forwards and backwards so much. This was intended to keep their composure and poise while walking. They could buy one for use at home if they didn’t have access to one during the day

Finally, and depressingly, I was with my family last night, a whole bunch of them. Everyone was there and many more besides. My youngest sister was marrying and I’d been invited to the wedding. I didn’t want to go but I couldn’t find a good excuse to turn it down. There was some pre-wedding meeting. I’d finished doing a taxi job so I went. From the freezer I brought some things that I’d cooked to take with me as some kind of offering, only to find that they’d leaked in the car. I arrived and everyone tried to hoist onto me the job of giving my sister away. I flatly refused, saying that it’s my father’s job. He was unwilling because he wasn’t very confident. I just didn’t want to become involved at all in any respect other than to be there and then only reluctantly. I was telling my father that he’d been working up his life for giving away his daughter and there he was, “bang!” she’s gone and I’ve given her away. Everyone looked at me, outraged, when I said that. But I added “well, that’s what the gist of it is, isn’t it?”. It wasn’t very popular at all but then again neither am I.

So much for all of that. After the sunshine comes the rain, as we all very well know.

Tea tonight was chips from the air fryer with vegan salad and some of those nuggets. Eaten quickly because of the football.

Caernarfon were second in the table, unbeaten so far this season, and Connah’s Quay were uncharacteristically quite low down having been swept aside by TNS the other week and then beaten by Y Bala. So we were expecting a really tough match

The Cofis, having been known for their flaky defence for the past few seasons, had been playing much better this season and had been the main reason why their team was second in the table, so no-one expected them to fold up so dramatically.

Although they had their moments in the attack, they didn’t amount to anything and conceded four of the sloppiest goals that I have seen ever since Aberystwyth shipped a miserable bagful against TNS 9 months ago.

A 0-4 home defeat was a disaster and they are going to have to do much better than they did tonight.

But not right now because I’m off to bed. Shopping tomorrow but I won’t need much Rosemary gave me a quick ring this evening just before kick-off so she’s going to ring me tomorrow. I’ll have to lay in some supplies though as it will be a long phone call.

Monday 8th May 2023 – AND THE ANSWER …

… to yesterday’s question was indeed “not very much”.

It’s actually a Bank Holiday here today when the country celebrates VE Day and strictly speaking I ought to be having a lie-in as I try to do on as many Bank Holidays as I can, but with the threatened arrival of the nurse to give me my fortnightly injection, that’s out of the question.

What usually happens is that when I try to lie in on a day that he is due to come to visit, he usually has a blood test to carry out in the building so he’s here before breakfast. Consequently, we had an alarm set today for 07:00 as usual.

Mind you, I needn’t have bothered because when the alarm did go off, I was sitting on the edge of the bed dressing. we’ve had another one of those nights – and mornings.

It was about 08:50 when he came round to give me my injection. And here’s a thing that’s totally unexpected – the database paperwork that he has to keep to record the injections that he gives me is now full.
“What happens now?” I asked.
“I don’t know” he replied. “It’s never reached this stage before”

So clearly I’m continuing to defy all expectations. No-one with this illness has lived longer than 11 years and I was diagnosed in 2015, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall (and I expect that I had it a good while before then) but while it’s true to say that I know all about ill-health, I’m still fighting on. Not exactly fighting fit, just fighting for breath and fit to drop.

With it being a Bank Holiday I’ve had a very relaxing day doing too much of nothing at all. I did finish the radio programme today, as I said that I would, and listened to the one that is to be broadcast this coming weekend but that’s about it.

There’s just one more now that is half-done and I’ll do that this coming weekend. And then I’ll have to start off again. I’m months ahead, which is good news, but there’s always this feeling that some of it will have to be done again as some of these artists can’t go on for ever. I remember back a few years ago in the old “Radio Anglais” days when I spent quite some time waxing lyrical about Chris Squire, only for him to begin to manger les pissenlits par les racines the morning the programme was due to be broadcast.

There was also the stuff on the dictaphone that needed transcribing too. We’re back on the Sherlock Holmes murders again. A couple of people had been struck down in a park by someone dressed entirely in black. There was some woman who dressed herself in black ready to go out just as 2 people were starting to walk on a common in Balham. These 2 people were talking about their past, the girl saying “wasn’t it to this common that you brought such-and-such a girl with whom you used to go out, but she was rather strange?”. The name that they used was the name of this girl. There were police loitering in attendance. They arrested someone dressed all in black in the vicinity of this couple and dragged him away. It turned out that he was actually a mime artist dressed in black ready to perform his act to collect money. As the camera panned to see him dragged away it panned through a figure in black sitting in a café on the common overlooking the events that were taking place

Later on I was going on a coach trip with work for some kind of sports event. One of my colleagues asked me if I went on the previous one two weeks ago to Carlisle. I said no because I had something else to do that evening. While we were waiting for the coach back on this draughty bus station it just didn’t appear. We sat there waiting. There were several tomatoes rolling around, coming and going. One of them came back so I asked it if it had come to pick us up. Someone said “I’ve already asked him and it’s not him” so we sat there and waited. Suddenly I realised that I didn’t have my watch or my key to the office. I’d left them at home. I was wondering what I was going to do. I thought that I’d better take a gamble and go to fetch them. I ran, which was the first time in ages, all the way home to our house in Vine Tree Avenue. All the lights were on. I could hear people moving around. The front door was unlatched so I walked in and ran lightly up the stairs. The taps were all dripping in the bathroom but no-one was in there. My brother was asleep in bed with the light on so I walked quietly in, picked up the key card and my watch that was on the bed, came out and came downstairs again. I could hear my parents in the front room talking about me but I didn’t have the time to stay and listen. I managed to open the door again without making too much noise and set off to run back to the bus station.

It’s a total mystery to me why it is that my family keeps on intruding into my nocturnal voyages. During my waking hours I don’t even waste a minute thinking about them so what’s going on in my subconscious? I don’t mind Nerina putting in an appearance every now and again – after all I invited her into my life for better or for worse, but one of the reasons of leaving the UK was to escape the negativity of everything that was weighing me down and I thought that I’d left them all behind.

But it was interesting to read the bit about “running”, given how I’ve not been out running for a couple of years and I couldn’t do so these days anyway. When we started this programme at University we had all kinds of people recording their dreams, one of whom was a girl who was born without legs. She would tell us that although she’s never walked a single step in the whole of her life (for obvious reasons) she still dreamt about herself going for a walk. So clearly, dreaming isn’t completely tied up with your own personal experiences.

Finally I’d had some issues at work about sick leave, that kind of thing. In the end what I used to do was that at night I’d take a van from work without authority and do furniture removals etc. On one occasion I came back with my Luton Transit. We dropped it off at Zero’s father and began to strip it for spares so we could sell the bits and move on. It wasn’t until we had it pretty much dismantled that it suddenly occurred to me that in the back of it was an old Volkswagen estate, another estate car, a motorbike and lots of other bits and pieces. I’d been using it as a shed I went round to see his wife and said “you’ll never guess what I’ve just remembered” but she told me. She asked me what the plan was. One thing going through my mind was to hire a vehicle, put the Luton Transit on the back and drive al lthe way to France, unload it, drive back and carry on. I said that it would probably take us about a week. If you like, you, your husband and Zero could come along as well. She looked dubious at that point and asked “could it be done in a weekend?”. I replied “we could get there and back in a weekend but unloading it is something else”. She said “the difficulty is with Zero. She could go to her grandfather’s who could take a day off work to look after her but I don’t think that we could do anything else. Are you sure that it couldn’t be done in a weeked?”. I had to describe the journey to her etc. She said “the next question of course is whether we have any money”. I repled “you won’t need any money. Everything will be on me of course”. We had this huge discussion.

Interestingly, I do have a Luton Transit, as regular readers of this rubbish in one of its previous versions will recall. I bought it for scrap because I wanted the box off the back to use as a garden shed and it’s still down on the farm 20-odd years later. And there is a Volkswagen estate in the back of it too, albeit in pieces. A diesel estate that was crashed in Spain and which I recovered to use for spares for mine.

And even more interestingly, while I was waiting to take it down to the farm, I did use it around Brussels doing furniture removals at night and weekends. No tax, no MoT, no nothing in fact. But back then in those days no-one really cared. I remember reading the story of Sir Daniel Gooch, Chairman of the Great Western Railway, reminiscing about the experiences of the way that the GWR operated in its early days, and commenting “what would be said of such a mode of proceeding today?”.

And, interestingly, once more as Tom Petty would have it, “HOW COULD I GET SO CLOSE TO” ZERO “AND STILL BE SO FAR AWAY?”. I’m not sure how many times this is just recently that she’s just been tantalisingly dangled out of reach during one of my nocturnal rambles. It seems that I can summon up members of my family at the drop of a hat but Zero, TOTGA and Castor are totally eluding me. And the Vanilla Queen dropped off the radar a long time ago.

Looking back on things, each time that I’ve been up in the High Arctic, and each time I’ve been trying to edit that Colosseum live concert late at night on board THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR I’ve had a strange encounter with a mysterious young lady of the opposite sex. First there was The Vanilla Queen, and the next time there was Castor. Jamais deux sans trois as they say around here, but the way my health is going, there won’t be another trip out there. 700 miles from the North Pole we were in 2018 and it looks like that will be that. No Rensselaer Harbour, no Thank God Harbour (where my namesake is buried after they poisoned him 150 years ago) and no Fort Conger.

All of this reminiscing probably means that I have too much time on my hands. But nostalgia ain’t what it used to be.

So having crashed out here and there, I went for tea. Steamed veg with falafel balls and a vegan cheese sauce. It’s amazing just how different things have become since mainstream French supermarkets are now selling vegan cheese. It’s expensive of course, but it saves me having to bring back a rucksack full every time that I return from Leuven.

Tomorrow is a Welsh lesson of course, so I’m off to bed early. I don’t want to go crashing out in the middle of my lesson. And then I’ll have to pack my stuff ready for Leuven. Three hospital appointments I have on Thursday so I’m going to be busy.

Saturday 15th April 2023 – JUST BY WAY …

… of a change, I was fast asleep in bed when the alarm went off this morning.

It’s been quite a while since that’s happened, hasn’t it?

Anyway, I struggled to my feet and went off for my medication and then I set the washing machine off on another cycle. That’s all of the arrears of washing done now, which is good news. I’ve been letting things build up too much again just recently.

Saturday is shopping day so braving the hurricane that was blowing outside (and I DO mean “hurricane”) Caliburn and I set out for the shops.

Noz came up with a few bits and pieces but nothing of any special excitement, and ditto at LeClerc, except that they had an icing bag with a few assorted nozzles on sale at €2:85. It’s nothing very much – just like a refillable tube of toothpaste really – but it would have been handy for putting the crosses on my hot cross buns the other day.

What usually happens with tools and things like that is that I’ll buy the cheapest thing to see how it works and how much use I’ll have from it. And if it’s something that I like and will use often, I’ll pousser le bateau dehors and buy an expensive, better one.

That’s the story of my apartment really. When I moved here I bought everything brand-new but at the cheapest possible price so that I could have everything all at once. And as it breaks down, replacing it with much better-quality stuff. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall my saying that the way my health was, I didn’t actually expect to outlive any of it.

Back here, I made it up the stairs quite comfortably with one crutch and the shopping trolley loaded to the brim with goodies, and after I’d put everything away I settled down with my cheese on toast and coffee.

After food I had a listen to where I’d been during the night. I was with my brother at one point. We were camping out somewhere in an old ruined house. We’d set up our kitchen outside. It became tea time so we went outside. The skies were really heavy, overcast and grey as if it would rain at any moment. We had to push on to make food. There wasn’t much to eat so we made the most of what we could find to hand. Some of the stuff had gone off, unfit for human consumption so it ended up in the bin. I was still hungry at the end of the meal and knew that there were more bread rolls in the car so I was going to go back to the car to fetch them while my brother went back into the house. I set off to the car to fetch them

And then I’d been doing some work on a car in a yard somewhere to do with a former friend of mine. There was an article going round on the TV about someone who had died and left some motorbikes one of which he wanted to be left in the original condition and the others he wasn’t all that bothered about. What they had done with one of the others with a Norton Featherbed frame was that they had taken off the fuel tank to fit on another bike, they’d taken out the engine to fit it somewhere else and they’d ended up with the Featherbed frame and wheels and very little else attached to it, no engine, tank, seat or anything. I thought “what a waste of a really good bike this is. It looked lovely before they started messing around and breaking it for bits”. By the time that I’d finished I had to leave the yard. There were so many vehicles parked in here that trying to leave was a nightmare. I had to reverse as far back as I could and then try to swing round somehow. I could see that I was getting it all wrong. Then the clutch started to slip. I put it in reverse at one point again and the clutch was slipping. The car was slowly rolling forward. That wasn’t what I had in mind at all. I thought that i’d have to rev the engine really hard to move from here and that’s not at all my way of driving.

Finally I was in the offices of a ferry company last night trying to arrange some kind of travel accommodation for that former friend and his wife who were going to Europe for the day but who would be stranded because of the ferry strike but the alarm went off in the middle of it. You’ve no idea how disappointing that was because those two actually have some kind of connection with Zero, a young lady of my acquaintance who figures in these voyages not half as often as she deserves or as I would like, and here’s a chance where at some point she might put in an appearance and the flaming alarm goes off.

The rest of the day has been spent sorting out some stuff for the spacerock festival about which I talked the other day. There’s well over a year before it becomes important but knowing me, I’ll lose track of time at some point and the date will be upon us before I know it.

It’ll take some research too because I know very little about most of the groups who appeared and who my friend’s son recorded when he was Hawkwind’s sound engineer – well, he was actually sound engineer for the Pink Fairies but there was an awful lot of overlap between the backroom staff of the groups who moved in that circle.

Later on, we were treated to one of the best football matches that I have seen in quite some considerable time. 2nd-bottom Aberystwyth Town were away at 5th-bottom Haverfordwest County in a game that they absolutely had to win, and which Haverfordwest needed to win too in order to keep their season alive

Consequently both teams threw everything that they had, including the kitchen sink, at each other for the whole 90 minutes and with the score at 1-1 with 10 minutes to go, I began to understand the meaning of the phrase “gripping the edge of your seat” because I was, and so, I imagine, was everyone else in the ground.

However it finished 1-1, not for any want of trying. And if you have a spare 90 minutes and want some decent entertainment, why not WATCH THE GAME yourself? If you’re a football fan you’ll quite enjoy it. I’ve even found you an English language commentary instead of the more usual Welsh

But one thing – well, more than one thing, but one thing in particular – impressed me with the Haverfordwest team today. They had their third-choice goalkeeper in between the posts today, a young lad called Zak Turner. Not only did he have an excellent game, he’s the first keeper whom I’ve seen for ages who would come off his line to intercept crosses like that Uruguayan goalkeeper Ladislao Mazurkiewicz who had an outstanding World Cup in 1970 and impressed me greatly.

They had some of my favourite burgers in LeClerc today so tea tonight was a burger on a bun with diced fried potatoes and a big salad. And that was absolutely delicious too. I really am eating very well these days, especially with the air fryer.

Tomorrow I have to make some pizza bases as I’ve run out. I should also be baking fruit buns and biscuits too but there’s not really much point as I’m not going to be here to eat them next week. I’ll be in hospital being poked and prodded about.

So a quiet day tomorrow then. About time too. I need to build up my strength for next week.

Saturday 18th March 2023 – AFTER THE EFFORTS …

… of the last few days, everything finally caught up with me today.

Again, it wasn’t helped by having another miserable, depressing night when I had a real struggle to go to sleep and when I finally did, I had a real wander around in the ether all the way through the night.

Mind you, not that I’m complaining about that because first of all TOTGA and then Zero came to see me during the night and that’s something about which I can feel quite content. They (and Castor too, who has been disappointingly absent for some considerable time) can come to visit me any time they like.

Once again, I was out of bed and up and about before the alarm went off. I had my medication followed by a shower and then I headed for the shops.

First port of call was a bathroom shop called “Aubade”. They sell all kinds of bathroom equipment and fittings, like showers for example, and seem to be quite an upmarket kind of establishment. Although they don’t do installations themselves, they have a couple of teams of approved contractors and the assistant gave me their ‘phone numbers.

She also gave me a catalogue of their products, and that was rather a shame for the poor rain forest that had to be sacrificed. One more page in it and I would have had to have borrowed a fork-lift truck to bring it to Caliburn.

Noz had nothing at all of any interest and LeClerc didn’t come up with anything special. They had some grated vegan cheese on special offer so I bought a couple of packs. I have to encourage their vegan range of products.

When I returned I brought up a few of the things that I’d bought and the rest can wait for later. I had to think about some food though, and there was a stray leek hanging around in the vegetable rack that needed to be used.

First of all I fried a small onion in a saucepan with some olive oil until it was browned.

Then I added the chopped leek and a pile of garlic

Half a teaspoon of cumin, half a teaspoon of nutmeg, half a teaspoon of tarragon and a pile of fresh ground black pepper went in next.

Two small potatoes were washed and cubed and then added into the saucepan. It was all stirred around in the pan.

Then I covered the food with enough water and added a stock cube and a helping of soya cream, and let it simmer for 15 minutes while I put away the food that I’d bought.

Then I whizzed up what was in the saucepan, added a little more water until it had a nice consistency and then sat down to eat the most delicious soup that I’ve ever made, along with some nice crusty bread that I’d bought.

While I was at LeClerc I’d bought a bargain pack of 2kg of carrots. Next task was to wash, dice and blanch them. When they were ready I put them in the sink in sieves to drain so that I could put them in the freezer later.

Back in here I sat down in my chair and promptly fell asleep. So much so that in the end I struggled into bed where I stayed until I awoke – at 18:00. That was some crashing out.

And while I was away I went off on a little voyage too. I was doing a coach trip. We ended up in Germany. I dropped the passengers at the coach park and they all disappeared with their suitcases. I sorted out the coach etc. It suddenly occurred to me that I didn’t have anywhere to stay. I thought that I’d better go along to look for a hotel. I’d seen a hotel on the way in that looked nice. It was a 5-minute walk away so I set out to walk. As I walked up the back of this car park there was the back of a big hotel-type place there but it looked dirty and scruffy, not very niceat all so I ignored it. As I waslked up to the main road I looked behind me. I could see that the hotel was called the Hotel Adler. It was a huge place. I seemed to remember that it was something that all the passengers had talked about so I wondered if it was actually the tour hotel and where I was supposed to be staying. I had better turn round and retrace my steps to the hotel to have a look.

Once I’d finally recovered I decided that I’d finally make a start on some work but as luck would have it, Rosemary called me for one of our chats. I’m convinced that she set up a camera in here when she came to visit because she always seems to call me at exactly the right moment.

After we’d finished I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. There was something last night about me having a cat. Also, there was a radio presenter who was presenting some stuff. He was quite well-known for certain reasons. But ass I was dictating it I awoke instead and at that moment it all disappeared.

This was another one of these dreams where I had to visit South London, where I seem to visit quite often. We were all at the Underground station picking up the tickets etc. When we had the tickets everyone left. Of course, I couldn’t run – I could only hobble. I shouted at someone to hold the lift for me but he didn’t hear. he went in and went on down. When I reached the lift I couldn’t remember to which floor I was supposed to be going. I always end up on the wrong level at this station and on the wrong train so always end up with an enormous walk at the end because the Underground in South London is pretty poor. I was there scratching my head trying to think which would be the best platform for me in order for me to go where I needed

And then I had TOTGA round last night. She was here at the same time that the physiotherapist was here. As well as giving me plans for the physiotherapy he was giving me plans for counselling. He was trying to have me agree to do 3 things differently and gave me a list. I had to choose 3. But I was trying to talk to TOTGA as well because she was having to leave at 15:30 because her plane back home was at 18:30. I was trying to have this 3-way conversation talking to these 2 different people about 2 different things and nothing seemed to be resolved. I could see that in the end TOTGA was going to go and the 2 of us had never resolved anything that needed to be resolved between us and I doubted that I’d ever have the chance to see her again, which is probably true. He was babbling on all the time about me making pizzas.

Next I was with a couple of people, man and wife. I’ve no idea who they were. We were in Stoke on Trent. They were a couple much older than me. I was round at their house preparing some food but they had no mushrooms. We were down at the Fenton area somewhere so they suggested going to the market in Stoke. The husband and I set off on foot. It was quite a trudge. We went through one set of market stalls, out into the street and reached the main road. He stuck his head in a shop and said that they had none. We wandered round a few market stalls outside that were closed up. They had things like meat out in the open air etc that can’t have been hygenic. By now the wife was with us. We came to a cheese stall where they had some cheese samples. They kept on trying to offer me cheese samples but I told them that I couldn’t take it. In the end we went back to the shop where we were first because we had seen someone coming down the street carrying giant-sized mushrooms. We could see through the window that we had some that were individually priced. We thought that we’d go in. By now the woman had selected some fish from one of the outside stalls. We were about to go in to pay. To go in you had to climb up this rickety wooded ladder and somehow slide in between the rungs into the shop. I thought “I’ll take the stuff and go in to pay because I’m staying with them”. Because of my disability I couldn’t bend my leg enough to enter through the ladder. After trying for a couple of minutes and holding up everyone I gave it up in the end and one of them went in with the stuff. Eventually I managed to enter. There were some people in bed like a geriatric ward or hospital, all this stuff on sale. The woman there was making some drinks, a kind of cocktail. She passed one to me and said “this is for my husband”. Then she passed another one to me and said “this is for the baby. Whatever you do, don’t get them confused”. I had to take them out to the door and pass them to the husband and try to remember whose was what and to make sure that he kept them the way that this woman wanted them keeping so there would be no confusion as to who had the alcoholic drink and who had the soft one.

There was another one about a bunch of people including me getting a round of drinks and something to do with a large box or packet full of butter but I can’t remember anything at all of this.

Finally I was round at Zero’s parents. I hadn’t seen her father for ages and we weren’t on particularly good terms but I had to go round there for something. I was having a chat to Zero etc when he came round. He was surprised to see me but anyway we had a vague little chat. I don’t think that he was very happy but suddenly it started to rain and we all had to go indoors. There was another little girl there and she was out on a bike. Zero ran down to the end of the garden to look to see if she could see her. She shouted that she was on her way back. They started to ask me about my house. He said that I had 2 properties. I replied that in fact I had 3. His wife asked if I’d signed for my house. I replied “not exactly but it’s all paid for etc”. She asked if I’d used the money in that Santander account. I replied “no. I managed to keep away from there and 1 or 2 other accounts. I had no idea how many other accounts I had in total”.

With all of that it’s hardly any surprise that I was totally wasted this afternoon.

Tea was a delicious breaded quorn fillet with baked potato and salad. What with my leek and potato soup at lunchtime I’ve had some really excellent meals today. I’m really doing well with this cooking at the moment.

Tomorrow I have to make some fruit bread again and also go into town for this Home Renovations Fair thing for a few tips about my new bathroom. So it’s going to be a busy day tomorrow.

It’ll be pouring down with rain probably and that would be enough to dampen my enthusiasm but if I do make it into town I might stop and have my first ice cream of the year. I’m not even sure if I had one last year.

Saturday 25th February 2023 – NOBODY WAS …

… more surprised than me to wake up this morning, bolt-upright, at 07:22. 8 minutes before the alarm went off.

For a change, I’d had a decent night’s sleep. I’d gone to bed at something like a reasonable time and apart from taking a while to go off to sleep, I can’t remember anything at all about the night.

And that’s a big disappointment because one of my favourite visitors came to see me last night. or, more exactly, I went to see her. I went round to Stoke on Trent to see Zero and her parents. They were all there still in bed in their bedrooms so I went up to see them. We had a chat and they all slowly got up out of bed. They talked about going off to a holiday camp sometime in August and asked me if I wanted to go with them. Of course I said “yes”. There was someone else there as well who talked about going somewhere exotic. I said “if you’re thinking of going to North America, go from Casablanca to Montreal because it’s beautiful” remembering the trip that I did a few years ago. A bird flew into the window and later one of the cats was hunting it. I went to grab it but missed. It flew straight past Zero who caught it. She went to put it out of the window. As she opened out her hand it flew back in again so we had to hunt it down again. She stuck her tongue out at me playfully so I scratched the top of her head with my hand like a crane basket. She carried on hunting for this bird.

Fancy missing out on an evening with Zero. You couldn’t make it up.

That flight that I mentioned was quite a good flight. It was when I came back from my encounter with Castor (who has been missing from these pages for far too long in recent times) on board THAT BOEING 787 DREAMLINER. I had no idea of when (if ever) I would be likely to return.

Having gone from Europe to the Far North of High Arctic Canada on board a ship I hadn’t booked a return flight of course, so when I finally decided that maybe I ought to go home, the prices of direct flights were completely out of my pocket so I had to negotiate for a reasonable price. That brought me to Brussels via Casablanca with Air Maroc and I didn’t regret my choice for a minute.

But I shan’t be going back to the High Arctic any time soon. I’ve spent all my mad money on buying this apartment and that will be that for a considerable while.

It wasn’t all that i spent either. I had a rather hectic morning.

After the medication and checking my mails and messages I went out to the shops. First of all, I called at Noz where I was in luck. They had some vegan nuggets, rather like chicken nuggets. 2 different varieties so i stocked up with a couple of boxes of each and they are in the freezer now.

They also had one of these silicone baking moulds that I like. I have a few of them for different things, but this one is cake-sized and I don’t have one of those. When I finally move and have a real oven, I shall put that to use. It will be better than trying to bake in a pyrex casserole dish.

At Leclerc, I struck lucky.

When I’d been there a couple of weeks ago I’d found a lump of vegan cheese and thought that that was lucky. Today though, they had slices of vegan cheese and also some grated vegan cheese. It looks very much as if Leclerc is slowly dragging itself into the 21st Century. I bought some of each because, as I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … I have to encourage these places to stock more vegan food.

Back here as I was struggling up the stairs with some shopping I fell in with a couple of neighbours and we had a good chat about not very much at all. I have to be sociable, I suppose, and keep on good terms with my neighbours, even if I don’t feel much like it. As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I’m not what you would call a sociable person.

Having put away as much as I could, we’re now back to the situation of no room in the freezer and no room in the fridge either. I bought plenty of other stuff and I’m not going to miss out on buying the burgers that I like at €1:99 for two with a second packet of two at just €0:67

Just after lunch we had football on the internet. TNS v Penybont. TNS took an early lead and missed a couple of sitters. And that was something that they came to regret as Penybont equalised laste in the game from a penalty. And we had the unusual situation of a referee being substituted. That was quite a swelling that the had on his left ankle.

This afternoon I finished off the notes for the radio programmes and i’ll be dictating them tonight before I go to bed. With the Carnavalers having mostly all gone home, it’s much quieter outside now so there’s not as much danger of being disturbed and having to redictate everything. It’s pretty depressing when you have to do that.

Cooking the potatoes in the air fryer worked really well and I’ll have to remember that for the future. It’s not a practical proposition if I’m cooking veg but if I’m having a salad or something like that it’s ideal.

But anyway, that’s all that I’ll be doing today. Tomorrow is a day off but I need to bake some bread rolls. I’m hitting the road on Wednesday for a couple of days so I’ll need something for breakfast on Monday and Tuesday and then something to make some sandwiches for my journey

it looks as if I’ll have to have the air fryer out again.

Wednesday 15th February 2023 – WHAT A WONDERFUL …

… left-over curry that was for tea tonight. There was some stuffing left over from the stuffed peppers, a few mushrooms and sweetcorn from the weekend salad, a few fresh mushrooms and a small potato all fried together with an onion and garlic and some soya cream. A handful of rice and frozen veg made it into something special.

The next couple of curries should be OK but I’m running low on some of the spices that I use. I can see that I’m going to have to go shopping if ever I make it back to Leuven, whenever that might be. I can’t find a decent source of spices around here unfortunately.

Anyway, it’ll give me something to think about when I go to bed tonight. I spent far too much time thinking rather than sleeping last night and I expected to regret it, especially when I fell out of bed before the alarm went off, simply because I couldn’t go back to sleep having awoken earlier.

And there was plenty of time during the night to spend thinking too because it was what I would call a “difficult” night. I was in bed much earlier than usual, having finished all that I intended to do quite a bit earlier than I expected, so I decided to make the most of it.

It took a while to go off to sleep though, not that it bothered me too much, and once I was properly asleep I went off on a little travel. There was a group of us who knew each other from our school days. We’d come together, 6 of us, and we reckoned that we’d form a group and go off to perform some kind of series of concerts somewhere. 5 of us assembled but the 5th one was missing so we had to go into Crewe to find him. We suspected that he would be at a railway workers’ social club because he worked on the railway. We went there and I left everyone in the car park while I went in. I asked after him but he wasn’t there. Another one of my friends from school was. He came over. He was extremely upset because he’d read something that I’d written where there was a quote attributed to my father. He was furious that I was putting his words into the mouths of others. I told him in no uncertain terms that if I’d attributed a quote to someone, it’s because that person had said it. It’s extremely possible that in similar circumstances on similar subjects 2 people whom I know are likely to have the same kind of comment in reply.

It was a most unpleasant encounter, so much so that it awoke me. And it was from then on that it all went downhill. I’ve really no idea why such a dream, about nothing very much in particular, should be so disturbing.

But lying awake made me think about other things too and there ended up being all kinds of things churning around in my mind, more of which anon.

However, I must have gone back to sleep on a couple of occasions because I was off on my travels again. And who should come to join me on my perambulations but Zero? What a lovely surprise that was. I was round at her parent’s last night. I’m not quite sure what I was doing. She was there and she had 2 friends her own age round. They were outside in the dark playing housewives, all sitting around a plastic table pretending to drink tea. I was watching them through the window. 1 of the girls took hold of Zero and asked her if she could have a blueberry ice cream with some kind of syrup on it. For some unknown reason Zero was reluctant to make it. The girl was rather unhappy about that idea. She thought that Zero should go and make this ice cream for her.

Then later on I’m not sure whether I stepped back into this dream or whether I had some kind of flashback, but we were back on the subject of Zero’s unhappy family again. I was at home and her brother asked if I would go round to see their father. I told him that I couldn’t because I had plenty of things to do myself. I was busy. In the end I nipped out really early at about 06:00 in the gold Cortina estate. When I arrived there was no-one about so I just sat outside and waited. Then they all got up and started to have a party. I waited until the father came out so I could see him but his son walked past. He said “I thought you said that you couldn’t come”. I explained that I’d managed to find a little time. We wandered off. I thought that he would go to fetch his father but instead his father came out and wandered off doing something else. I could see him in the mirror.

And finally there was something else about something going on in a shopping arcade where there was a post office and post box and films. I wanted to go along to photograph this post office but it was pitch-black. There were all these people walking around there running around. I took the camera but it had to be on a time exposure. I had to hold the camera at a strange angle and press the button then wait for about 20 seconds without moving. Of course trying to push the button with this camera at this awkward angle removed the perspective that I wanted because the camera moved. I had then to quickly try to re-find the perspective that I wanted and wait for the film to take. of course it was a very long exposure being so dark and everyone was moving around. I couldn’t get them out of the way of the lens. I tried 3 or 4 times and had this really difficult struggle to actually make the button work and hold the camera straight, stop the camera moving, keep the people out of the way. None of the photos that I was taking were coming out properly.

So with all of that going on, I must have had some kind of sleep at some point. Especially if I managed to conjure up Zero after all this time. What with TOTGA the other night, all I need now is for Castor to put in an appearance.

After the medication and checking my mails and messages I had a few things to do. Like chosing the music for the next round of radio programmes. That involved going through the playlists and tidying them up because over the last few weeks I’ve decided to do things in a different direction.

That means doing some kind of major adjustment to the … errr … 6 playlists that I maintain. With over 1200 albums and 300 artists I’ve split the playlist into 6 with different artists in each one so that I don’t play the same groups too often.

But going back to what I was saying earlier about things going round in my head, one of the things that I was pondering was this question of paying for the apartment. I had a feeling that all of this was about to go pear-shaped so I spent several hours thinking of a cunning plan.

Sure enough, the company charged with dealing with the transfer rang me again today and came up with yet more demands for information. And in the end after much debate and discussion and having thought of a Plan B, I ended up telling them to clear off.

In the past, I’ve said that my bank in the UK is a regular favourite for the title of “worst bank in the world”. But right now, I’m firmly in their hands with their wicked exchange rate, their stupid daily limit and all of that, and it’ll take me forever to transfer the money over at an absurd cost. But the quicker I start, the quicker I’ll finish and the first daily amount has gone off today.

But as we have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … there’s no such thing as a recession. What there is instead is a whole load of money floating around waiting to be spent and no-one can be bothered to put the work in to go out and collect it.

And that reminds me – still no replies about that work I want doing. It’s unbelievable.

The cleaner came here for an hour as usual and made the place look a lot nicer. It’s a good plan having her here. And she took out all of the rubbish which was nice of her. That was a good decision.

So having sorted out allthe music, paired off the music for one lot (and I’ll pair off the other lot tomorrow morning) and had my nice tea, And having written my notes, I’m going to bed.

So who’ll come to see me tonight? It must be Castor’s turn of course, but “I could be bound in a nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space – were it not that I have bad dreams”. I reckon that it’s going to be more like some member or other of my family.

Friday 10th February 2023 – WHAT A WONDERFUL …

… tea that was tonight. Burger on a bap with salad and a pile of chips cooked to perfection in the air fryer. I’m really pleased with my air fryer, that’s for sure, and I ought to explore a few more of its capabilities if it’s going to cook stuff as well as it did my chips and, when I added it to the pot, my burger.

And the salad was delicious too. That’s an excellent plan and makes my meals much more exciting.

But I wasn’t very pleased though with last night. I went to bed at a reasonable time but didn’t go off to sleep for ages. I’ve no idea how long I spent tossing and turning because I was afraid to tempt fate by looking. But it seemed like an age.

There was plenty of time though nevertheless to go off on my travels. And I clocked up some distance too. A former friend of mine had bought a Hillman Hunter and wanted it delivering to his house so I said that I would go to do it. I went into Stoke on Trent to find this car and started to push it towards his house. It was comparatively easy to do that, much easier than I thought it would be, especially up the hill. I had to push it on the kerb, the pavement, not on the road which was fine in some places but in others the grass was extremely long. There was that much dirt on the pavement that at some times I had to dig out the pavement and the side of the road so I could keep on pushing the car up the hill. This went on for ages and ages. It was dark and going into the small hours of the following morning. There were one or two people around, someone in an old MkI Cortina with no headlights driving down the hill practising his rallying. Eventually I got to where he was living, in a motel. Pushing the car down the corridor became quite easy. There was a girl there whom at first I thought was Zero but it wasn’t – she was a couple of years older than her. I said “hello” to her anyway. Just as I reached his front door which was of course where I might have expected to find Zero, I suddenly awoke bolt-upright.

And then we were living next door to him. We had an electric car. The gap between our houses was fitted up with a charging cable. It was a split charging cable with different wires coming out of it so if you had a car there to charge up you had to connect up these 8 wires separately. We were out there and a young schoolgirl went past, I don’t know why. Back inside we could hear him and his wife arguing about something or other. I thought “here I am, wide awake in various places and this is another occasion where I’m close to getting to see Zero again but I haven’t actually seen her”. It’s strange that I thought that in my dream because there have been a few times (including a little earlier this evening) where I’ve been on the point of meeting her in a dream and I’ve awoken suddenly. My subconscious is clearly trying to tell me something, and I wish that I knew what it was.

Did I dictate the story about the car rally that we organised? … “No you didn’t” – ed. Once everyone from the office had taken off, we headed off back home to pick up a few things. We encountered a couple of cars on the way back just as we were pulling into our drive. They were looking for something or other in the vicinity. We had a chat with them and gave them a little clue about one of the clues which was going to be difficult if they didn’t stop and think clearly. The guy who always seemed to run the office seemed to be the bossy type even went to the police station to try to persuade them to let him speak to a prisoner in there who had been involved in a car accident earlier that day. He was of the opinion that the clue involving this ironing board was something to do with him and his accident.

Finally, we’d gone skiing to this mountain. When we reached the top, instead of skiing down there was like an escalator covered in snow that took you back down to the bottom of the hill again. Although I was not able physically to ski, I was still bewildered by everyone else going down the hill on this escalator and not actually skiing down. There was someone in a wheelchair whom I thought was brave to reach the top of the mountain anyway and come back down again but I still couldn’t understand why there would be this escalator when all you had to do was to ski down to the bottom. And it’s interesting to see that my mobility issues are now featuring in my nocturnal rambles.

Much of the day has been spent in some kind of desultory fashion writing the notes for my next couple of radio shows. I’ve not been in much of a rush to do it and there have been plenty of distractions along the way. Consequently there are still some to write out before I can dictate them.

But I’ve been having a little think about my radio programmes and how I can change them to make them better (or, at any rate, different) and I have a cunning plan about that on which I’m working in my spare time, whenever that might be.

This afternoon I went into town on the bus. I had some medication to collect from the pharmacy and then there was a little bit of shopping to pick up.

Not all of the medication was there so they had to order it for me and I have to go to pick it up tomorrow. That should be interesting with a bus strike so I’ve been thinking that I might actually try to walk down there on my crutches and hope that one of the few buses running tomorrow might bring me back.

It should be an interesting trip, especially if there are no buses back, and one thing is for sure, and that is that I won’t be trying it with just one crutch. I’ll persevere with two for now and see how I feel after a few more weeks.

What made me think about it was that I actually managed to stride out something like rapidly (or what passes for “rapidly” these days) and I covered a lot of ground at a reasonable turn of speed. I need to keep on pushing myself forward.

When I came back I bumped into yet another neighbour and we had yet another chat. I seem to be quite popular for the moment and I don’t know why.

After my delicious tea I came back in here and promptly fell asleep for half an hour. All of this walking is wearing me out and I imagine that if I do go into town tomorrow on foot, I’ll live to regret that as well.

And so I’d better go and try to have a decent sleep. I certainly need it. And who knows? I might even finally get to meet Zero.

Tuesday 13th December 2022 – WHAT A STATE …

… to be in! Downstairs on the front door there’s a notice “if anyone is going to the shops, could they take me with them?” Can you imagine how things have worked out for me over the last few months?

This afternoon I went out to try to start Caliburn and eventually after much coaxing, he staggered into life. I set off for a drive and probably went about 30 kms trying to warm him up and charge up the battery.

However it didn’t seem to do much good because when I pulled into LIDL car park to see whether I could stagger over to the trolleys, I tried the starter and it was a desperate moment as I almost ended up walking home.

That was enough for me and I decided that if I didn’t leave the engine running and go home now, I never ever would get home. I can’t believe that I’d gone so far and the battery was even more dead than when I started.

As well as that I had to park where there was a kerb because I don’t have the strength to haul myself into the cab off the ground.

And so you can see, there’s a very fine line to walk between discretion and valour and God knows where it is right now.

Last night was another miserable, depressing night with me tossing and turning and I really don’t know what’s happening here either. When the alarm went off at 07:30 I was in no fit state to leave the bed and it was a real struggle for me to sort myself out.

The Welsh lesson though went reasonably well because I managed to prepare for it and I feel so much better when I can do that. However I’m not making the kind of progress that I would like. I’d be the first to admit that.

After the lesson I went for my run around in Caliburn and then came back to listen to the dictaphone. And there was tons of stuff on there from the night. There was a group of us packing to go somewhere. The conversation drifted round to all sorts of things. Several of the people were being extremely difficult in my opinion. One woman was really taking her time filling out a form. Everyone was explaining the difficulties that she was having but I didn’t think that they were anything at all. A few of us were talking about insurance and how it was sometimes quite catastrophic. I told them about how I worked in an insurance company (… and I did too …) and someone a few years later had T-boned my car. They actually worked for that insurance company and had their insurance there and how it was an endless tale of delays. We were discussing this. Suddenly I remembered the girl’s name who I worked with who this girl who was talking knew. I said her name and of course it cut the conversation. I felt extremely guilty about this. We were all sitting there trying to organise this and that one woman was taking so much time filling out a simple form. I was of the opinion that we weren’t ever going to get away at this rate
This meeting where there were people on about this insurance company and everything like that was where that guy stood up to make that announcement that his girlfriend was pregnant or they were getting married or something. That was really raining on everyone else’s parade at that particular moment. They were all disappointed that their thunder had been stolen.

There was some kind of tropical storm hitting the Carolinas and everyone had taken shelter. I’d gone with a news party to have a look at the situation inside one of these bunkers because the roof was damaged and water is getting in. I found several women, one of whom I knew very well, busy rolling up tissue and cloth in order to make some kind of something or other that would pass the time. This particular girl was working so quickly that she was way ahead of everyone else. While I was talking to her I looked up. A young girl who had come with her into the shelter was walking past on her way to the corner to lay down. I drew this woman’s attention to it. She invited the other one over to come along and join her to fold up tissue. Of course they started chatting like a couple of people in this situation would.

It was Friday night. I’d finished work and gone home. There was a story on the radio about how business was suffering from big bankruptcies and P-registered Cavaliers were being sold for as little as £3,000. I was wondering whether to go round to see a friend of mine and his wife, and of course Zero but thinking that I’d been round there every night this week I imagine that they must be becoming pretty fed up. The last thing that I wanted them to do was to stop me going round at all. So much as it hurt me, I decided that I’d stay at home tonight and start to sort through my toolbox. While I was doing that the TV was on. There was something happening about relief supplies involving DiY equipment. A whole pile of Opposition amendments were taking place to ensure that the Queen paid VAT on everything. They were all being passed so obviously there was some kind of mini-revolt going on in the House of Commons. Ordinarily that would have been just the kind of thing that I would have talked about with my friend but with having made a vow not to go round tonight I decided to keep to it and stay at home. I started to go through my toolbox making up kits of things that I might need in the future like electric sockets and so on

But imagine that? How many times is this that during the night I’ve turned down an opportunity to go and see Zero. I must be ill or something.

Tea was falafel with pasta and veg. I was hoping to have some potatoes so that I could have sausage, beans and chips tonight but that was something of a failure due to the issues that I had at LIDL. I hope that some good comes of my sign because I can’t go on living on my stocks of food. Rosemary and I talked about that on the ‘phone earlier and this was one of the things that galvanised me into making my sign.

And so we’ll see. It’ll be nice if it works and I can get some stock back in. The cupboard will be bare before I know it if I’m not careful.

Sunday 16th January 2022 – NO WONDER …

… that I’m exhausted. I must have travelled miles during the night.

One of these days they’ll invent an ethereal fitbit that will track my travels when I’m off on my nocturnal voyages and I bet that the distances that I travel will be interesting.

Anyway, last night I had a very disturbed night (as you will discover as you read on) and despite being awake on several occasions at some kind of ridiculous hour, there was no danger whatever of my leaving my stinking pit until I was good and ready – which was about 10:15 this morning.

After the medication I had to download a few files off the portable computer that I take with me to Leuven, and then I could pair off the music for the next radio programme that I’ll be preparing on Monday. They went together quite well too, but not as well as they did a couple of weeks ago.

For a few hours afterwards I had a little laze about not doing too much, except for having my brunch. Porridge and thick slices of toast with strong black coffee.

Round about 15:00 I wandered into the kitchen and made a big load of pizza dough, seeing as I’d run out. And I do have to say that for some reason that I can’t understand, it turned out to be one of the nicest doughs that I have made.

Nice and soft and smooth and silky.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022having put the dough on the side in order to rise, I went off for my post-prandial perambulation around the promontory.

First port of call quite obviously was the beach to see what was happening down there today. It’s been a good few days since I stuck my head over the parapet.

Plenty of beach this afternoon but there wasn’t anyone down there on it, although I did notice a couple of people walking down the steps from the Rue du Nord going off for an afternoon ramble.

And while I was at it, I was being photo-bombed by a seagull on its way out to sea.

rainstorm ile de chausey baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022While I was there, I was having a good look around out to sea to see if there was anything happening there.

There wasn’t a single boat that I could see out there this afternoon which was a surprise because it was actually quite a nice afternoon, for a change. And after the last few days of winter, it’s warmed up somewhat and now much more like March again.

But there was a rainstorm brewing out at sea in the bay. You can see it out there just offshore, obscuring the Ile de Chausey. Luckily there wasn’t very much wind to speak of this afternoon so there wasn’t very much danger of me being caught in it.

rainstorm sun on sea baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022This afternoon we were having yet more beautiful lighting effects. It’s one of the things that I like about this time of the year.

We were having another one of these really nice TORA TORA TORA light displays where the sun comes streaming through the gaps in the clouds.

And with the rainstorm that was going on out at sea it was producing some quite interesting effects. It was a shame that there were so few people out there watching it. There can’t have been more than a dozen or so people out there on the path up to the lighthouse this afternoon.

sun baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022And out in the Baie de Mont St Michel things were even nicer.

As well as the TORA TORA TORA effect we had a spotlight or two illuminating the water as the sun shone brightly through a gap in the clouds.

The rainstorm in the distance was obscuring the Brittany coast but the sea was nice and bright there.

Wouldn’t it have been nice to have caught a yacht or a fishing boat sailing through the beams of light? But you can’t have everything of course.

cabanon vauban people on bench pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022There actually were some people down there admiring the view as well.

Sitting down there by the cabanon vauban was someone on the bench watching the sunset. And someone further out sitting on the rocks at the end of the headland. It’s a shame that there weren’t any boats out there for us to see this afternoon.

But on another more depressing note, the way things are these days, we have to keep a lose eye on people sitting like that on the rocks. The events of mid-November are still etched quite firmly in my mind.

container pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022But never mind that for the moment. There were things that were much more interesting going on that require some investigation.

The skip that’s down here on the headland gives us a clue, and my hat goes off to the driver who dropped it off here.

What is going on right now is concerning the group of people who are planning on opening a museum in one of the abandoned World War II bunkers. They have been given permission to go into another one of the closed-up bumkers and clear it out of 75 years-worth of debris and see what they can find.

pivot for cannon bunker pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022and almost straight away, they uncovered something interesting.

This is the pivot of a field gun – either a 105mm or a 128mm quite likely, that would be used as coastal defence to protect the area from either an invasion landing or a commando raid.

Mind you, when the Germans launched a commando raid on Granville on 9th March 1945, whatever artillery was here in the bunker didn’t do much good to repel the attack.

And, I suppose, as they go further into the bunker, the more and more artefacts will be discovered.

interior of bunker pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022But at least they have cleaned the walls of the bunker we can actually see the markings that the Germans painted on the walls.

These are presumably unit identification marks, although I don’t know which units are being indicated.

What I’ll have to do is to have a wander around the area during working hours and hope that I can lay my hands on one of the people clearing out the bunker. The fact that the skip is still here seems to indicate that they will be back here using it at the beginning of next week at least.

And so I’ll make a mental note.

storm waves on sea wall port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022although I said that there was very little wind today, there must be something going on somewhere out at sea.

As I walked around the headland I could hear the sound of the waves smacking into the harbour wall so I was keen to see exactly what was going on. Consequently I pushed on along the path towards the post.

It wasn’t much of a show, unfortunately. The waves were more powerful that I was expecting in view of the weather conditions, but they weren’t producing anything spectacular when they crashed into the wall. There was plenty of noise but none of it to any great effect.

les bouchots de chausey unloading port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022Meanwhile, over at the fish-processing plant, there was plenty of activity going on.

Les Bouchots de Chausey, one of the little inshore shell-fishing boats, was in port this afternoon, working on a Sunday. And she must have had quite a good catch today.

She’s busy unloading her boxes of shellfish onto the trailer at the back of the tractor over there and you can tell from the amount on there that she’s had a profitable day.

A few weeks ago I encountered the tractor hauling the loaded trailer off through the town and out towards Donville les Bains. And one of these days I’ll follow her to find out where she goes.

gerlean chausiaise joly france chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022When I came back from Paris yesterday I could see that there was little change in the chantier naval.

As we can see, Gerlean is still in there. All on her own, too. No-one else has come in to join her while I was away.

Over at the ferry terminal however, we have the usual suspects over there. Chausiaise, the little freighter, is at the head of the queue and behind her is the older of the two Joly France boats – the one without the step in the stern.

ch638749 pescadore ch907879 l'arc en ciel ch898472 cap lihou l'omerta port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022On the way back home I went to look at the boats moored in the inner harbour, not the least of the reasons being that L’Omerta was actually tied up for once at the pier.

We also had Pescadore, L’Arc-en-Ciel, Cap Lihou and a couple of other boats that I didn’t recognise tied up down there too.

And of course there were the two Channel Island Ferries, Victor Hugo and Granville, moored up in the background looking as if they aren’t ever going to move again.

Back here, I made myself a coffee and then sat down to transcribe the dictaphone notes from last night.

In the middle if the night I awoke as I was counting something and trying to write down these numbers with a pen but I couldn’t find a pen that worked. But I can’t remember now what it was that I was counting and I have no idea. It was like a table of numbers or something and this was just one particular row of these numbers but I can’t remember what they were for.

Later on there was a pile of girls, probably about 6 or 7 years of age having to stand in a line and talk about where they came from etc. One girl came from Africa but was a white girl said “Africa, yes, that’s me. That’s where I come from. That’s my home town” etc but I couldn’t help the feeling that this was being transferred over to me as well. I had ti edit the view of this concert because the ratio was wrong – something like 1.5:1 instead of 1.1. If I were to do that I would lose a lot of everything. I had to have the focusing right and the general screen capture size right in order to do it. And I’m impressed with the technical details and terms that I can spout when I’m asleep .

After that there was a girl aged about 10 or 11 or so in a swimsuit and bonnet. Suddenly she was attacked and killed. That cheered me up because it meant that there would be a place for me to go and live on an island so I put myself in the queue but there was someone there in charge, some fellow or person, who said “there are still too many people so the queue needs to be cut down by half” which meant that I wasn’t going to go this time. I would have to wait for something equally dramatic next time before I could go. And isn’t that all a totally gruesome idea?

Last night we were also prisoners of war in something like COLDITZ CASTLE in a high security room with a few of us in it. We tried to escape once but the guy in charge was not very good and not only had we all been recaptured before we’d even done anything he’d had some confidential papers captured too and he’d been shot although not seriously. We were there again and we tried to have another go at escaping. The idea was to lull this commandant person into a false sense of security then when one of his guards would go out to do something, we could overpower the reduced numbers and escape from the castle like Colditz. So one of the guards had to leave. As he pulled up the zip on his ski suit it passed a certain point that someone had indicated with a blue “X”. This meant that the escape was on. He went and someone pulled on the commandant a gun that he had hidden and gathered up quickly everything that they needed. Then it was a case of making the commandant unconscious so someone hit him with the barrel of the gun. It didn’t work so I hit him about 3 or 4 times but that still didn’t knock him unconscious so in the end someone else took over. We then set the room alight. Someone wasn’t happy about leaving the commandant there with this room alight. I replied that every time he flew over Germany he dropped one bomb that killed far more people than just one without any scruples whatsoever

Interestingly, later on we were all in this Prisoner of War camp in this high-security room with the commandant and a couple of the guards. We’d already tried to escape once but had been overpowered by weight of numbers and the guy in charge had been shot, not seriously. They captured all of our confidential papers and I tried to drum it in to the idea thatwe should keep all of the papers like that together so that they could be thrown into the fire early etc. In the end we made ourselves ready. One of the German guards was called away as we hoped leaving the commandant behind. When this guy’s zip was drawn up to a certain spot it was as if a blue “X” appeared on his zip when the two sides were drawn together. That was our signal so we overpowered the commandant and captured his papers etc and prepared to leave. We set fire to the room with some accelerant. Someone was upset about that. We should rescue the captain but I said that each bomb that they had dropped over German territory would kill far more people than just one and that they’d dropped that bomb without any scruples whatsoever. In the end they prepared to scramble down out of this building and this railway cutting on their way off. So what was happening there that I had an almost-identical dream twice I have no idea.

And then I had my house up for sale. There was a group of us round at my other place tidying it up because it was really dirty, building rubble and brick dust everywhere that I was trying to vacuum, not very successfully. My friend from Belfast grabbed hold of me and asked me what was going on about Luxembourg. I replied that they were worried that the whole world was going to be flooded with cheap labour from the Arab states. He asked what I propsed to do about it and I replied “put a tax on foreign workers”. He said that that wouldn’t go down very well with some people. I replied “never mind. It can’t be helped”. We had to keep checking the door to make sure that a girl I know from Luxembourg wasn’t overhearing. We came round to what we were going to do about the apartment that was for sale. Someone told me to be careful and not to accept the first offer I received. I replied “I’m well aware of that” and told them a few stories about apartments that had been sold. “I’m prepared to wait for the right moment” even if it meant leaving it empty or putting it down in ten, but I’d sell it”. Then we were all called together and had to collect our security passes. Helen’s security pass and Steve’s security pass, I’d been involved in the preparation of those and I still had the boxes in which their cards came so I had to be very careful to give the right number to the guy taking the details that whoever he looked at had, he would write down the right number, mine and not one of the other two’s, and that he wouldn’t duplicate the numbers and leave one of the cards out.

Finally there was something about a Land Rover. I was with a friend last night. We’d gone to see a van that I’d just bought – that he’d bought on my behalf. An LDV. We didn’t actually get to see the LDv – we were sidetracked as usual by a Land Rover that he owned. It was a diesel and we were taking about this diesel Land Rover. I mentioned that I owned a Minerva that brought a few smiles from around various people. In the end we ended up back at his wife’s. She was talking about his cars, saying that he had far too many and it was high time that he did a few things with one. Something came up about another Land Rover that he owned, how something had to be done with that so that the Land Rover that we had seen at someone else’s house could be brought home. he said something about going to fetch the van that I’d bought but I asked him “where are you going to park it?”. There was no room in his drive at all. he saw the wisdom in that and said that we can do that another time. By then the wife and I were out somewhere. We had Zero with us. We’d been driving around but I thought that we’d not been going the right way to get back to her house. Instead she took another way. We were waiting to turn right at a road junction but were there for hours, even with people passing on the right to go straight on. Eventually we reached this other house which was in total chaos worse than mine. She was telling these guys about her husband’s new Land Rover. Zero was there with these other kids, all playing with a huge pile of toys and everything. It just seemed to peter out at that particular moment, this story, which was rather a shame.

It’s no surprise that I was exhausted after all of this travelling about. And what a shame that the final voyage petered out just as it was becoming interesting.

vegan pizza place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo January 2022But there was so much of it that I had to break off in the middle to go and deal with the dough.

It had risen beautifully so I split it into three batches. Two of them went into the freezer and the third one was rolled out and put in the pizza tray to proof for an hour or so while I carried on with “War and Peace”.

After the dough had risen nicely I assembled the pizza and put it in the oven to bake.

And when it was finished, it looked totally beautiful. And I do have to say that it tasted even better, even if I had forgotten to use the remaining half-pepper that I had brought out of the fridge.

So having written my notes, I’m off to bed. It’s a 06:00 start tomorrow as I have a radio programme to prepare. There’s the physio tomorrow afternoon too, so I need to be at my best.

But we’ll see how tomorrow unfolds, especially if I travel as far during the night as I did last night.

Tuesday 14th December 2021 – LOOK AT THIS!

christmas cake with icing place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021Here’s my Christmas cake, all finished and almost ready to eat. And doesn’t it look nice?

The icing is a bit hit-and-miss unfortunately as I don’t have a proper palette knife to spread it. And the icing is a little too runny so it’s slowly sliding down to the bottom so every hour or so I have to scrape it back up again.

Maybe overnight it might set in which case it will be fine but let’s hope so.

All that I can say is that considering my first go at icing a large cake like this, I haven’t done too badly although I’m the first to admit that I have a lot to learn about baking a cake.

But in bed last night I wouldn’t have learnt anything because I spent much of the time trying all I could to drop off to sleep.

It must have worked at some point because I was off on my travels at one or two points. I’ve no idea what was happening at first but according to the dictaphone but I was definitely off on my travels with all kinds of animals and horrific things going on there for 10 minutes while I was asleep.

Later on, Matthew was giving a speech on board THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR last night. Apparently when it comes to unloading a zodiac it’s always the infirm people who leave first and leave the fit people behind so that they can have a better control of the boat and everything that’s going on. But it seemed that someone concealed their illness, let everyone else leave the boat first until there was just him and the driver. Then this guy couldn’t leave the boat – he wasn’t able to. There was only the driver to help him. While the driver was concentrating on dealing with this guy the zodiac was out of control and they risked losing the zodiac as well as the two people on it while all this was happening. He was not impressed at all and gave the audience what amounted to a real dressing down about this kind of behaviour. He insisted that the infirm people should leave the zodiac first and people should accept their responsibilities and accept their limitations and not put the whole party at risk.

Later on a former friend of mine and I were down in the Auvergne last night. We needed some product of something or other so we had to drive back to Stoke on Trent to fetch it. We took some stuff back with us with the idea that we could do some work on his house while we were there. We hadn’t heard anything from his wife so we did it anyway. He drove back and I was a passenger in this sports car thing. The arrangement was that I’d drive back to the Auvergne and he’d be passenger. It was very tiring of course and we had to set a route, like 3 hours for this bit which would normally take 2, etc. It took ages to get back and we arrived in Stoke on Trent and the first thing that we did was to fall into a bed fully clothed and went to sleep. Shortly afterwards, Zero of all people came in. She saw us both and got into bed with us, being very little-girly. She came and snuggled up to me so I snuggled up to her as well.

Yes, not very often at all that I’m lucky enough to snuggle up to Zero during the night, is it? Add to that the events of the other night when I was back at school and things are looking up.

As I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … I wish that my daylight hours would be as exciting as what goes on during the night.

There was much more going on during the night too but as you are probably eating your meal right now I won’t put you off your food by talking to you about it.

After the medication and checking my mails and messages I sat down to revise my Welsh from last week. Only to find that I’d forgotten most of what I’d learnt. This teflon brain that I have is really getting on my nerves.

There weren’t too many of us in the lesson this morning, considering that it’s the last of the year. And to my surprise, it passed well enough. Revising and preparing an hour or so before the lesson seems to be a good idea.

christmas cake with marzipan place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021After lunch, I decided to marzipan the Christmas cake.

With no apricot jam I had to use blackcurrant jam but that seemed to work just fine. I warmed the marzipan in my hands, coated the worktop with flour and then rolled out the marzipan.

It was rolled out rather thin so I built it up with a couple of layers and given half a chance and more marzipan I would have made it thicker. It’s rather thinner than you might expect in a Christmas cake but as I have said earlier, I have a lot to learn.

beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021By now it was time for me to go out and about on my post-prandial perambulations.

First stop was over to the end of the car park to look down onto the beach to see what was going on down there. And seeing as there wasn’t all that much beach on which anything could be going on, I wasn’t expecting very much to be going on at all.

And consequently I wasn’t disappointed. There wasn’t anyone at all down there that I could see this afternoon. There didn’t even seem to be anyone walking around on the promenade at the Plat Gousset either.

philcathane baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021Mind yuo, there was something going on right out in the Baie de Granville.

From my vantage point on the cliffs I could see something moving in the raincloud out at sea so I photographed it with the aim of enhancing it when I’m back at home to see if I could find out who it might be.

The colour scheme gave me some kind of clue though. If I had to guess at this range I would have said that it may well be Philcathane.

Anyway, whoever she might be, she was the only thing out there that I could see moving around out at sea.

cabanon vauban pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021And it wasn’t just out at sea or on the beach at the Rue du Nord that there was next-to-no activity.

Down at the bench by the Cabanon Vauban there wasn’t a soul either. There were one or two people wandering around on the path down below, but no-one stopping for a rest.

But then there was nothing happening out at sea here, there wasn’t a sunset of any description to admire and the Brittany coast round by Cancale was obscured by clouds. And so I pushed off along the path around to the other side of the headland.

portable boat lift chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021Yesterday I posted a photo of the portable boat lift because it looked as if there had been something going on with it during the day.

So when I arrived at the viewpoint overlooking the chantier naval I could see that they have been doing yet more work on it.

Yesterday it was in grey rust-proof primer but today it’s been painted again and now has its top-coat of a nice off-white. And it really does look nice painted like that.

It can’t be long now until it’s finished and we’re back at work down there. It’s been very quiet over the last couple of months around here with no boats under repair down there.

chant de sirenes port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021The last time that I looked, L’Omerta was tied up at the fish processing plant.

She’s not there today though. Moored in her place was one of the smaller trawlers – Chant de Sirenes – “Song of the Mermaids”.

It looks to me as if she’s either unloading her catch right now or loading up a pile of catch boxes because there are some men working in the stern of the boat and there are some others up on the quayside with a pile of boxes that are identical to those in the stern.

Why they are doing it from above I really don’t know. It’s much easier to load up the boat from the level down below.

philcathane baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021As I was turning for home I looked round, just in time to see the trawler that we had seen earlier come into harbour.

And there’s no need to do anything to the photo back at the apartment because we can see quite clearly who she is from here.

She is in fact Philcathane, coming back in from a day’s fishing out at sea.

And so I headed for home, surprising a couple of kids aged about 11 or 12 having a crafty cigarette behind a hedge as I walked past.

After a coffee I started to ice my Christmas cake and while it ought to be done better, I’m still reasonably pleased with what I’ve done.

Tea was a curry out of the freezer and now, rather later than intended, I’m off to bed. I’ve a 06:00 start in the morning so I need to make to most of what remains of the night.

Tuesday 2nd November 2021 – NO PHOTOS TONIGHT.

That’s because I didn’t go out for my afternoon walk today

Well, there are a few photos, but they aren’t for general publication because they were taken at a radio interview. But more of that anon.

This morning, after yet another turbulent night, I managed to awaken at the correct time, about 10 minutes before the alarm went off, which it did at the correct time.

What was disappointing was that I had made a special effort to be in bed by 22:30 with the aim of having a really good night’s sleep, so it was really disappointing that I wasn’t able to make the most of it.

After the medication this morning I went off to revise my Welsh from my last lesson and to prepare for this one, and then I went to class. For some reason or other, presumably because of the bad night, I found it hard to keep awake but I managed. I didn’t make any silly mistakes either, which makes a change.

When I’d finished lunch I went for a shower and a general clean-up, then while I waited for Laurent to come to fetch me I made a couple of phone calls and spent some time working on the arrears.

There was some stuff on the dictaphone too. We were on a big aeroplane going on our holidays. It was all confusion and getting the luggage on board and everything like that. I had a few bits and pieces. I was with Nerina again. When it was time to go up into the cabin I had to stay behind for some reason. later on when I went up they asked me to help with the stewarding so I had to go up and down sliding on my side between these plates of food, salad and everything. But the girl who was doing it was on her first trip and she didn’t like doing it at all. She wasn’t very happy. Something then needed to be delivered back to the office or somewhere so I went down to take it. When I came back no sooner had I clambered on board the aeroplane than the door shut and I had to run up these stairs and try to find Nerina in the dark as the plane was preparing to take off.

Later on we’d been to Paris for the weekend. I’d already taken a load of stuff with me but somehow managed to acquire some more. I ended up with tons of baggage that I’d no idea how I was going to get home. Packing it was something of a nightmare. I was just stuffing stuff into suitcases, backpacks and everything indiscriminately as I wasn’t really sure how I was going to do it. In the end TOTGA (and how nice to see her again) came to see what I was doing and to help if she could. We ended up having a dance. I had her in a really close clinch in this hotel … “if only” – ed. We were having a waltz like that

Later on I was round at a couple whom I knew from the past only it wasn’t their house but somewhere else. We were planning to go off somewhere and ended up in 3 cars. We shot away from the house and the wife and Zero (her daughter) came behind, with someone else in the 3rd car. We left them way behind but were stopped at the traffic lights. By the time the lights changed they had all caught up with us. We drove on somewhere but ended up back at their house getting things ready to leave again. This time there was just the couple and me. He was telling me about all the stories that he had written about so many-prostitutes doing this and so many other prostitutes doing that, some stuff to keep him out of mischief. I said that he ought to speak to another friend of mine about that because that’s what he does. He was showing me the garden and saying about how one part of the garden they couldn’t do anything with because of a disease in the shrubs. Seeing the way that the sun was shining and the slope I thought that it would make a really good vinyard. They said that they had tried. At some point everyone was dancing together so I went to try to find Zero so that I could dance with her … “if only” – ed … because she was loitering somewhere in the background of the dream.

There was more stuff too but once again you won’t be wanting to read it if you are eating your meal.

Laurent and I then headed off into the wilds of the bocage to a small hamlet near Ger where we interviewed a subject for our radio project. She and one of her children had quite a good deal to say for themselves, which was very useful. Their interview will make very good radio.

After 90 minutes there we set off back for our long drive home and it’s strange that the journey home always seems to take less time than the journey out.

Tea tonight was stuffed taco rolls, using the rest of the stuffing left over from yesterday, and now that I’ve written up today’s notes, such as they are, I’m going to bed. Nice and early, with the hope that I’ll finally have a really good sleep. I have about 163 photos to edit tomorrow.

Saturday 20th March 2021 – I’VE HAD SOMETHING …

… of an aviation day today. There was a whole host of activity in the air this afternoon.

Boeing 777-328(ER) F-GSQL english channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallIt seems that despite everything the long-haul transatlantic flights are back again and there were quite a few in the air over here. While I was out on my afternoon walk this one flew by over the English Channel at 18,000 feet slowly gaining height.

This is Air France flight AF54 flying from Paris Charles de Gaulle to Washington DC. The aeroplane is a Boeing 777-328(ER) registration F-GSQL. She’s quite an elderly machine by modern standards, having first flown in January 2006.

And her claim to fame is that she has two engines that were manufactured by my former employers, General Electric, although I don’t claim to have anything to do with them.

vans rv-4 f-paur point du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd if that isn’t enough to be going on with, there was plenty more out there too.

This delightful multicoloured aeroplane is a Vans RV-4 registration number F-PAUR. These are kit-built aeroplanes supplied with Lycoming engines and you assemble them yourself. This one was assembled by someone called Joël Benete and took to the air on 9th March 1993, just one of about 1500 assembled since 1979.

She flew from Granville in a south-south-easterly direction and seems at this moment to be somewhere in the foothills of the Alps, not having moved for a couple of hours although there’s no airport around where she is.

When my alarm went off this morning I flew pretty quickly too, out of bed as the first alarm was still ringing. I have plenty to do today.

Not going to the shops though. I’m off to Leuven early Wednesday morning and so I’ll be eating what’s lying around here until I go. I have a hard enough time keeping food fresh here when I’m here to eat it.

I had the medication and then came back to have a listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night.

There was something about a group of British soldiers who had been imprisoned and brutalised, I’m not sure what they were doing or what had been done to them but this involved going on a trip to northern Scotland so we were going to fit in a visit to an ex-friend of mine on our way up. This involved driving all the way over the Pennines to the far north and turning right at Richmond and all that way north. A question of a shopping trip came up while we were away. Someone said that the south of France was the place to go so after we had dealt with this problem to the north we would head to the south od France. I thought to myself “this is a long way to be going in a day from here to the north and then down to the south of France” but I wasn’t too keen. I thought that it would have been better to have gone to the south of France first but I didn’t say anything. I thought to myself that I didn’t really want to do this and the fact that we were running so late would make it impossible anyway so I’ll just do it like they are telling me to do”. The question of a car came up. We decided that it would have to have 4 seats and 4 doors. Someone suggested “if the 2 of you are going why don’t you tale so-and-so’s mother?” I thought “she’s really going to enjoy this long trip sitting for hours in a car while we dash from the far north of England to the south of France but never mind, we’ll do it if that’s what hey want”.

Later on I was with another ex-friend of mine in Stoke on Trent and he was telling me about how he had no money and how even his wife’s sister had stopped paying some of his bills and so on. He said that I could stay there but I have to fend for myself because they can’t provide any food. I said “that’s not a problem”. For lunch I just had some dry bread off a baguette and I’d go out and buy some bread in the afternoon because it was pouring down now and I wasn’t really going anywhere. Later on in the afternoon I went outside for a walk and he and his wife came outside and said “come on, we’re ready”. There were cars parked everywhere, it was a new house that they had but there were cars parked all over the place. We had to manoeuvre one around and drive it from off the kerb inside where another one had been parked and onto the street. Just then a yellow van went past. He was obviously afraid that my friend was going to hit him so he shouted out a pile of abuse. We took no notice and parked this car up. Then the 3 of us walked into town. One of the girls, I can’t remember who she was but she was a small woman, she said that she had to go and fetch something. I said “I’ll come with you if you like” so she replied “OK”. She, someone else and I went into the lift and went downstairs. It was like a street market with all street market vendors selling their stuff. They had cameras marked “Ferrari”, all this kind of thing, in a kind of camouflage design. Trying to drag the kids out of there would have been really difficult. We were going to the theatre apparently and we needed badges to get in but this girl and I, we didn’t have them. She was going on about how all of the others were going to get into the theatre and we’ll end up having to pay again because we don’t have our badges. There had been some talk earlier about badges and I had a badge, a Boy Scouts badge. My friend and his wife were surprised because they knew that I had qualified but they didn’t know that I’d had it yet. I showed them but it was only very small. Another thing that he and I had been discussing was retirement, how we didn’t miss our old job. I said “I still think about it all the time, the horrible people which whom we worked”. He replied that he could do better than that and drew back the curtains. From his living room window you could see the building where we had worked, right across the valley.

What was so disappointing about this was that having had him and his wife accompanying me on a nocturnal ramble, where was Zero who has accompanied me on many a nocturnal ramble over the years – probably my most regular companion even if she hasn’t featured as much in these voyages as she did at one time?

That’s the kind of thing that fills me with dismay.

After all of that I sat down and started on the photos from Greenland. And after a Herculean effort this morning, right the way up to lunchtime, I’m now in a hotel in Toronto. Yes, I’ve finished all of the Greenland photos, all …gulp … 2330 of them.

That was a marathon session and no mistake

All that remains now is for me to finish off the final week when I was in North Dakota and then I can attack the 5000-odd from August 2019. That’s going to be something of a labour of love and no mistake.

After lunch I went out for my afternoon walk. And there was a reason for being out there earier than usual, which you will find out if you read on.

beach rue du nord plat gousset donville les bains Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut retournons à nos moutons as they say around here, you’ve already seen the sky in those earlier aeroplane photos so you know the kind of day that we are having right now.

Despite the fact that it’s fairly cold and there’s something of a wind outside, we are having the best day of the year so far, at least, as far as sunshine goes. It’s gorgeous out here and it really is a surprise that there didn’t seem to be too many people about right now.

The beach is practically empty and that’s unusual in this kind of weather because even though there’s not much beach to be on, it’s a weekend and we are expecting a mass of Parisian second-home owners selfishly fleeing the new curfew in Paris and bringing the virus with them to infect all of us.

joly france english channel ile de chausey Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut that’s probably where all of the tourists and second-home owners are at the moment and why they aren’t on the beach.

While I was looking out to sea I noticed something moving way out in the English Channel on its way to the Ile de Chausey so I took a photo with the aim of cropping and enlarging it when I returned home.

Sure enough, when I did that later I could see that it’s one of the Joly France ferries that plies between the port here and the Ile de Chausey. They’ve been quite quiet of late and haven’t seemed to be doing much work, but the Parisians fleeing the lockdown has probably caused a rise in demand for the service.

There are plenty of holiday homes on the island and those who can afford to rent one will have done so to escape the effects of the virus and the lockdown.

Druine D-5 f-pvqn pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere have already been a few photos of aeroplanes that i’ve posted so far this afternoon, and I haven’t finished yet.

This aeroplane is F-PVQN and that tells me that she’s a Druine D-5. The rather elderly design tells us that she’s something special, and it turns out that it’s yet another kit-built aeroplane with a design from the 1950s. I don’t know how old she is but she’s construction number 09 and I’ve seen photos of her at the Paris Air Show in 1977 so she’s getting on a bit.

She hasn’t filed a flight plan so I can’t say where she’s going, and she doesn’t seem to have a radio beacon as she didn’t show up on my flight radar.

naabsa fishing boats fish processing plant port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallJust recently we’ve been seeing the odd fishing boat or two left high and dry by the tide over at the Fish processing Plant.

There was one there yesterday but they seem to have multiplied overnight, naughty little beasts, because there are three of them there this afternoon and I really have no idea why.

After my little walk around the headland it was time to scurry back to my bolt-hole here and make myself a coffee, and then settle down in front of the computer because the football had an early kick-off this afternoon, and we were treated to Bala Town v Caernarfon.

Bala Town are quite an attractive team to watch and have plenty of skill but while Caernarfon have nothing like the same amount of skill, they are actually the only team that play in the Welsh Premier League that actually play like a team rather than a collection of 11 assorted players.

Today was no exception because while Bala have a couple of dangerous attackers in Chris Venables and Will Evans and had the lion’s share of the first half, Caernarfon’s centre-backs snuffed Venables and Evans right out of the game. At half-time Bala were 1-0 up and that was the result of a deflected shot that Tibbetts in the Caernarfon goal would otherwise have saved.

In the second half Caernarfon played with much more confidence going forward and equalised after 10 minutes or so. The game then swung either way until with about 15 minutes to go Mike Hayes broke through and fired low into the corner of Bala’s goal for the winner. How he must have enjoyed scoring a goal against the club that released him last summer.

So a surprise win for Caernarfon in what was a thoroughly enjoyable match played in what was a really good spirit. A fine example for the League

After that I did some more work on my Central Europe trip last summer and then went for tea. In an effort to deal with some of the backlog of food I made a quick potato and mushroom curry, followed by the last of the apple pie.

Now I’m off to bed because I’m pretty much exhausted after today and I still haven’t given the living room a second go. So i’m hoping that a decent sleep and a good lie-in will see me right. Although I have a suspicion that it will take much more than that to see me right.

Sunday 8th November 2020 – TODAY I HAD …

… a baking day today and I’ve been hard at it today.

That is, such of the day that I saw because I had another long lie-in today. In fact, it was something like 10:20 when I finally saw the light of day.

After the medication I had a listen to the dictaphone.

We were in Regency times last night, having a lecture about all of the dandies of the Regency days, how they set out to go gambling, womanising, all these other vices that they could have, how they had dissipated their fortunes and had to marry or seduce young girls who were heritees, all this sort of stuff. In the end it ended up with how the aristocracy amused themselves in the winter. We had like a game of darts with snowballs that they threw at a board and how they threw bowls at targets, all this kind of thing. We were well into these aristocratic winter sports when I awoke suddenly.

A little later on I was round at Stoke on Trent last night and met up with a former friend of mine. I was in a J4 van and we had a bit of a good chat. We ended up going back to his house, a big chalet-type place. We got back there and went in. I’d come down from London on the motorway. On the way down to London I would usually go all the way down the A5 but for some unknown reason I’d got on the motorway near Luton or Dunstable, somewhere like that, doing down the M1 a bit and off round the M25 anti-clockwise. But I’d always go home on the motorway. I’d stopped to buy a few things like a big bag of apples – I remembered this. I collected everything up and went to pay for it. I had to go into a little annexe type of place to pay for it. I went to pay with a credit card but it didn’t take cards so I had to pay cash which was a shame. I opened my wallet and there was loads of stuff in there like old ferry tickets, everything, so I took them out and binned them as I didn’t really need them. Then I got in the van and drove back to Stoke on Trent, parked up the van, went into this guy’s house and we could see out of the back. There were a few big hangars at the back. There was a load of old buses in one of them, double-deckers. Every time we turned away and turned back again there would be another double decker in it. In another hangar a bit further down was an old Duple coach from the 1960s. My friend was talking about this duple coach for I was extremely interested in it. The guy just did car repairs but that coach had been there for ages. Thinking on, he hadn’t seen the guy there for several weeks and was wondering if he was OK or something. These double deckers that were appearing were intriguing so we went out and started to talk to these guys about them. They told us a bit of a story. Just then my friend’s wife came and stood on the balcony of one of the bedrooms looking out, accompanied by Zero. I waved, and suddenly Zero came running out down the garden and leapt into my arms, saying “hi darling” so I swung her around for a bit. I thought “God I’m lucky. My lucky day here, isn’t it?”. We went inside and said hello. Someone wanted something and I realised that I had that in the van so I thought that I would go and fetch it. As I was about to go out, my friend’s wife asked “have you started to cook in your flat?” I replied “yes, I have”. “I was going to ask you to bring some fruit or something like that because I’m fed up of having just potatoes”. I thought “hang on, I have this huge bag of apples in my van. I’ll bring that”. I went out and I couldn’t see the van. It was like a no parking area in front of where he was living so I walked a little further down the street but couldn’t see it so I walked a little further up the street and couldn’t see it so I rang him up on the mobile phone “where the hell did I put the van?” “You parked it in the usual place” “Where’s that?”. By now it was pouring down with rain and I saw someone come out of his house. He started to run so I went towards him but it wasn’t him but another guy. Then he came out and he ran off up a completely different street so I set out to follow him.

As well as that, I transcribed a few of the arrears from when I was away and there are just two that remain. They will be done sometime later in the week and then I can bring them up to date.

After a bowl of porridge I prepared the dough for the bread. 250 grammes of plain flour with a banana, some desiccated coconut, sultanas, ground brazil nuts, dried fruit and a pile of sultanas.

Then 500 grammes of cereal flour mixed with several handfuls of sunflower seeds.

All of the dough, having been mixed with the yeast and water and kneaded together, was put on one side to proof.

Next was the sourdough. I took it from the fridge, strained off some of it and discarded it, prepared an equivalent amount of flour and water to what was left and mixed it all together. It didn’t take long to reignite either and by the end of the day it was bubbling away nicely.

Four oranges were then whizzed round in the whizzer and the juice extracted and put in my very large jub. Then the orange pulp was whizzed up again for several minutes and then strained through a fine mesh filter so that any remaining juice would then be added to that which I had separated just now. The remaining pulp was discarded.

The kefir that had been brewing for 10 days was then strained through my filter stack and added to the orange juice, and well stirred in. I then prepared another load of kefir with a fig, several slices of lemon, 40 grammes of sugar and about 2 litres of water. That will need to ferment for a few days.

The mix in the jug, I mixed it again thoroughly and then strained it through my filter stack and bottled it. That needs to ferment for 48 hours or so.

people drying off after a swim Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallTaking a break from my baking activities I took myself out for my afternoon walk;

Once again, there ere people down there on the beach drying off as if they had just been in the water for a swim. Had I gone out a little earlier I might even have caught them in the water like I did with that woman yesterday.

But as I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … they can go into the water all they like but they wouldn’t get me in there joining them. It may have been a beautiful, warm afternoon but it wasn’t that warm. The water would need to be about 35°C before I would want to go into it.

people on beach plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallWith too many people wandering about to burst into a run, I walked down the path underneath the wall and round the corner to the viewpoint overlooking the Plat Gousset.

Plenty of people out there walking around this afternoon, both on the promenade and down on the beach too. And I’m not surprised in view of the beautiful weather.

From there I wandered slowly across the Square Maurice Marland and then round the walls back home where at the door I bumped into one of my neighbours who had gone out for a walk but was obliged to come back as she had forgotten her mask.

That’s two of my neighbours I’ve met today. I bumped into another one of them earlier on my way out of the building.

By now the bread had risen quite nicely so I gave it a good kneading again, shaped it and put it in the moulds. There was far too much fruit bread for the mould so with the excess I made three small fruit bread rolls. They should make a nice snack at some point during the week.

With some spare time on my hands I edited a few more photos from July 2019. I need to keep up with this project that I have let go for several months. They won’t be completed if I don’t do anything about it.

home made bread fruit bread orange kefir place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBy 18:00 it was time to put the bread in the oven for cooking. I brushed the fruit bread and the little buns in milk and dusted them with brown sugar first. They’ll take an hour or so to be ready and so in the meantime I had a rather pleasurable session with the guitars.

Anyway, here’s the “after” photograph. The main loaf didn’t rise as much as I would like but apart from that it looks very nice.

On the other hand, the fruit bread looks really nice and I can’t wait to get stuck into that in due course. The little buns especially, with some strawberry jam as a mid-morning snack with my hot chocolate.

home made vegan pizza place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallEarlier on, I’d taken the last remaining pizza dough out of the freezer and left it to defrost.

I’d been kneaded it on and off during the afternoon and now I rolled it out and put it on a pizza tray. I prepared my pizza and when the bread was cooked I took it out and put the pizza in.

And when it was cooked, my pizza was delicious. One of the best that I’ve made, even if I had to use tinned mushrooms instead of fresh because I hadn’t been to the shops at the weekend.

brittany coast Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallWith a few minutes to spare before curfew I took myself out and about for my evening run. It was a really beautiful if windy evening and I had a really good session tonight.

At the very end of the Pointe du Roc I had a good look out to sea across to the Brittany coast. It was one of those evenings where you could see for miles and the Brittany coast over there looked really beautiful.

Despite the wind, in the shelter of the bunker there was a good little spec to take a photo and even without the tripod the photo came out really well considering everything.

ceres 2 yacht chantier navale port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallFrom the end of the Pointe du Roc I ran along the path at the top of the cliff down to the viewpoint overlooking the harbour.

There, sitting on the ramps in the chantier navale is the yacht that has been there for the last couple of weeks. And alongside her is the second boat that we saw from a distance the other day. Now that I can see more clearly, I can see that she is the Ceres II, an offshore installation maintenance vessel of 11 metres in length.

Her presence here may be something to do with the proposed offshore wind farm that they are talking about around here and which there has been some commotion across the bay, some of which we were sucked into when we were out there on Spirit of Conrad a few months ago.

Mind you, whatever she is doing here, her AIS transceiver seems to be still in St Vaast around the other side of the Cotentin Peninsula

port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhile I was here at the viewpoint, I scanned the port to see if there was anything else of note going on there tonight.

Nothing, in fact. It was totally dead everywhere. Not even a cat was out there tonight. The port looked quite tranquil, bathed as it was with artificial light. And that reminds me – with lockdown and curfew, I would have expected that they would have turned off most of the street lighting to save a few bob. But apparently not.

Having seen what was going on – or wasn’t, as the case may be, I turned round and ran for home, a darn sight easier than I have done and I reckon that I could have pushed on a lot more than I did.

Tomorrow I’m back at work again. I have two radio programmes to complete this week. I’m hoping that this time, for once, I could pull myself out of bed by the time that the third alarm goes off, pleasant voyages and pleasant companions notwithstanding.

Another thing is to find out how things are doing with Caliburn and hope that he hasn’t gone into lockdown for the foreseeable future. That will be a catastrophe and no mistake.