Tag Archives: vegan lasagne

Thursday 12th October 2023 – I’VE JUST FOUND …

… myself flat out on the chair asleep. I’ve no idea why but what it probably means that I’m going to have another restless night tonight.

Actually, last night was one of the better nights that I’ve had just recently and I didn’t move around much during the night. The only problem was that there wasn’t enough of it. It was extremely late when I went to bed

You’ve no idea how much of a struggle it was to leave the bed when the alarm went off, but I did manage to beat the second alarm to my feet.

And I was right about what I thought yesterday about the fall that I had making things worse. I can’t walk with just one crutch now, and I can no longer rise up from my knees.

After the medication I came back in here and didn’t do very much for quite a while as I slowly came round into the Land of the Living.

However I was disturbed on several occasions. Firstly the nurse came round. The hospital want me to have a blood test before I go so I had asked him if he would do it. He came round to collect the prescription to check what he needed to bring with him when he comes.

Next was the doctor’s secretary. I’d written to him a few days ago and apparently he wants to come round to see me to discuss the points that I raised. We tentatively arranged Tuesday morning, but that will of course depend on his other commitments.

After that was the cleaner. The forms for this Autonomy service had arrived in my letter box so she brought it up to me. There’s tons of stuff that they need, including bank details and a medical certificate. So I’m glad that my doctor will come round to see me.

There’s something going round in the back of my mind that someone else disturbed me too but I can’t think of who it was.

Despite the much calmer night, there was still some stuff on the dictaphone from the night. I’d been away for a few days and was coming back home to Virlet in my yellow Cortina estate. When I pulled round at the front of the house there was my mother and some small girls cutting up some firewood, burning brambles etc. My mother looked at me and burst out into a tirade of nonsense about “what on earth am I doing coming home?”. She’s the one who’s supposed to be working tonight. How’s she going to make her money if I keep on taking hours away from her? I didn’t understand anything. I’d been away from home for a few days, I’d just come home and I was going to go to bed, sleep for a week and leave everyone else to do the work as I usually do on a Saturday night. I’d no intention of taking any work away. Instead we had this absolutely hysterical outburst

There was also something about a demonstration taking place going from somewhere in the Midlands to the Isle of Anglesey, coming by Virlet. Out of all the people taking part they had arrested one motorcyclist for something or other. I had a look at his motorbike. It was a big 4-cylinder thing. I tried to climb onto it to sit in the seat but found that I couldn’t. That was when I reluctantly came to the opinion that motorcycling is not going to be for me now.

Next thing to do was to to deal with the correspondence that’s been building up. Some of it is extremely important too and can’t be left loitering around for too long. It was extremely complicated too and involved a lot of research. But now that’s all done and I can take it to the Post Office tomorrow.

That’s one thing to which I’m looking forward about going on the bus to St Nicolas. They have said that the Carrefour is bigger than the one here, it’s much closer to the bus stops, which are both raised to a reasonable height, but the crucial point is that the supermarket, the Post office and a Chemist are all right next door to each other so I don’t have to stagger very far.

There isn’t much time though so I suppose that I’ll be having a coffee in the Agora Centre while I wait for the following bus.

The rest of the day was spent working on another one of the radio programmes for which I dictated the notes at the weekend. That’s all assembled now, and there’s just one of that batch left to do. That’s the task for tomorrow afternoon.

Tea was exciting tonight. To create some room in the freezer I finished off the last slice of the lasagna that I made a while ago. I had with it steamed vegetables and vegan cheese sauce. all of that gave it a certain je ne sais quoi.

So now that I’m awake again I’m off to bed and if I have as good a sleep as I had last night I’ll be more than happy. I just hope that it’s much longer than last night.

Saturday 3rd June 2023 – I’VE HAD ANOTHER …

… really bad fall today.

And this one is the worst that I’ve had. Even worse than the one on the boat coming back from Jersey last summer.

And not only that, it’s much more worrying too. usually what happens is that all of a sudden there’s no sensation at all in my right leg and when I put my foot down I simply fall over gently as if there’s no leg there.

However today, it was the left leg, my good (or maybe I should say less bad) leg, there was a stabbing pain all the way up my left leg and I had a really heavy fall.

It happened on the car park at Noz and I wasn’t able to stand up afterwards. I had to crawl on my hands and knees to Caliburn and lean on him to help me up.

Right now, I can’t move without being on crutches and each time I try to stand up or put my leg in an unusual position the pain comes back.

It’s not a “broken leg” type of pain but definitely a muscle or nerve issue. I’ll have to wait until the physio next comes to see me and have a chat with him. In the meantime I’ll be taking it easy

Not that I took it easy during the night. I stayed up until I finished the notes for the day in Canada 2017 on which I’d been working so that I could go to bed with a clean slate.

But once more, we seem to be back in the “tossing and turning during the night” stages. I thought that we’d got over all of that, but apparently not.

When the alarm went off this morning I was fast asleep again and it was a struggle to beat the second alarm.

There were a few things that I needed to do before setting out and then Caliburn and I went out to the shops.

And today I didn’t buy a thing at Noz. It really was a waste of time going and had I known how it would turn out I wouldn’t have gone at all.

At LeClerc I bought everything that I needed (although I bet that I’ve forgotten something) and then went to the appliances department in a separate building to buy a gas cylinder for my sodastream

Back here I had a fight with the freezer to fit in the beans that I’d bought and then settled down with my coffee and cheese on toast.

Regrettably, I crashed out for a while too. That’s becoming a habit, it seems, whenever I go out and about.

There was some stuff on the dictaphone from the night. I was a passenger on a coach trip with a young girl, someone like my youngest sister. We were in like a ballroom place sitting down talking. There were all kinds of things happening. We’d left the room for some reason but when we returned the band was just striking up a waltz. I grabbed hold of whoever I was with and we waltzed into the room. We were the only couple on the dance floor. my friend from Germany was there so she took her husband and they began to dance. We began to have a ballroom dance-type of thing. My partner wasn’t particularly good but I was able to guide her around somewhat. It began to be a nice pleasant evening.

Later on there was a family, something like the Lyons (as in “Life of Lyons”) family who lived at 222 some street or other. One of their children had to go to the radio centre to introduce a radio show. I went to pick him up. First of all I was surprised. I was expecting mansions, all this kind of thing but they were just modern terraced houses in a big square. I drove around and found the house. What was interesting here was that there was no front door. The living room overflowed into a common area. The doors behind went into the kitchens and bedrooms. I could hear the children talking in there. I recognised the voices so I went and knocked on the door leading to the back and they began to come out.

At that moment though I had a horrible attack of cramp in my left calf and that awoke me so I’ll never know how that would have ended..

Finally I had to go to a Tax Office last night to take all my papers. The first thing that I had to do was to take a plastic bag in which to put everything. There was a big pile of them. I took one that implied that I was Moroccan. I don’t know why I did that. I put all my papers in and had to join this queue. There were probably 20 clerks sitting at a long desk. You just went to stand at the desk and one of them would talk to you. I handed all the papers of my employment to her. I was marked down as “leaving definitively”. I had to hand in another certificate to the guy sitting next to this girl. He looked at it and said “we already have these. You didn’t need to bring this”. I replied “I bring everything anyway”. he began to go through all my paperwork with the girl. he asked me “do you have any more income with the Commonwealth?”. I replied “no”.

The rest of the day has been spent feeling sorry for myself and writing up the notes for the next day’s walk (in the days when I could walk) around Québec.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that years ago I wrote something about THE CHEMIN DU ROY from Montreal to Québec. I started from Repentigny because I wasn’t sure of the route out of Montreal but over time I traced the route and so I was on foot from the centre of the town out as far as the Jacques Cartier Bridge and a little bit futher east.

And one thing that I’ve often wondered. In North America most of the landmarks are named for the first European who actually saw them. I always wondered what Jacques Cartier must have said when he sailed up the St Lawrence to what in those days was the Iroquois settlement of Hochelaga in 1535 and saw that massive bridge.

There was a burger that had been in the fridge for a while and when I inspected it this evening I decided that the best thing to do with it would be to file it under CS. Consequently I had a further fight with the freezer and put one of the two remaining lasagne slices in there to keep

The other one, I ate tonight with a vegan salad and it was all extremely delicious. I’m really impressed with that lasagne, that’s for sure.

Not so impressed with my health though. It seems that I only have to think about going back to the Land of my Great Grandfather and I have a bad fall, just like last year.

However that time, I ignored it and went all the same, and look how that turned out. I think that my body is trying to tell me something.

What I’ll do for now is to carry on around the Port of Montreal ship-spotting and when things quieten down, dictate some radio notes that I’ve prepared.

No alarm tomorrow. I’ll have a good lie-in. But I have to be a-baking though. I’ve run out of fruit buns. No idea where I’m going to put the ones that need to be stored though. We’re back to where we were ages ago with not even the hint of a place to put stuff

Well, it’ll all work out somehow. It usually does. I just wish that I would.

Thursday 1st June 2023 – MY LASAGNE …

… for tea tonight was actually quite good.

There’s room for improvement of course but bearing in mind that this is the first one that I’ve made since I was living in Reyers more than 25 years ago, it was by no means disappointing.

There wasn’t enough filling, but that’s a minor problem. There’s enough food left nevertheless to make two more meals so it’s just as well that it worked.

What I did was to put some lentils in the slow cooker and slowly bring them to the boil. Then they were rinsed and put back in with clean water and some basil, oregano and tarragon. Mind you, I almost forgot to rinse them and had to leave my comfortable bed to do that.

Later on this afternoon I added some bulghour and later still, because there was still plenty of water, I added some porridge oats to soak it up and stiffen the mix.

At teatime I fried an onion and garlic with more of the herbs, added my mix from the slow cooker and some tomato concentrate, then layered alternate layers of pasta sheet and my cooked mix, topped it off with a thick cheese sauce and baked it in the oven, and away we went.

During the night I went away too. So much so that for a change just recently I wasn’t up before the alarm. It awoke me with a start when it went off but I didn’t hang around at all in bed.

After the medication and checking the mails and messages I had a listen to the dictaphone notes. And I really Had been away. Back at Hogwarts at one point too during the night with HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE seeing the kids at their dance. Ron had split up from Lavender Brown. There was another girl there who was sulking for some reason or other. Ron went to ask her to dance but she replied “they aren’t playing our tune”. All her friends told him to leave her alone. Just then the music started to play it so a couple of people went to dance her and missed. She moved away. I don’t know what happened to Ron and this girl then but Hermione was there dancing with someone whom I didn’t know when the dance floor collapsed. They carried on dancing and it looked as if they would dance into the ladies’ lavatory. Someone just coming out of the door said to hermione “do you want some paper as well?”. It all was very strange.

Back in Harry Potter again later and there was something about spying on someone’s house. It was very difficult to do. There was a fallen tree with its branches and we had to hide ourselves in the fallen tree’s branches to do it. We piled into a car and set out to drive. There was a lot of traffic and I was weaving in and out of it and almost had a collision with someone. They went in front of me and put their brakes on to slow down so I did too. We had a slow drive with all the traffic on the road. We came to Barbridge where there was a fallen tree in the middle of the road. I said to the others “lock your doors and hang on because this is a trap” thinking that someone had cut down the tree for it to fall across the road to stop us and ambush us when we left the vehicle to see what was happening.

Later still I’d seen an AC Cobra for sale in the local newspaper so Laurence and I went round to see it with Roxanne. It was somewhere off nantwich Road in Crewe so we eventually managed to find the house. We walked straight into the house without knocking. We found the car in a downstairs room covered by a blanket. First of all my taxi detector wouldn’t work. Then I realised that an AC Cobra wouldn’t have been a taxi anyway. Found the guy and his wife sitting in a room next door, not in the least perturbed by the fact that we were in their house. We went back into the room and began to look around at this vehicle. He told me that he wanted £30,000 for it, which I thought was cheap. But that turned out to be the deposit to take it for a test drive – it was really £250,000. There was no way that I could afford that. I pretended that I was interested and got down to look underneath it. It was quite badly rotten around the edges. I thought to myself “he’s asking for a lot of money for something in this kind of condition. Even if I were to buy it, I didn’t have the mobility to crawl around underneath it with welding tackle etc these days. There’s no way that I could consider this vehicle” but I wasn’t going to tell him that until I’d had a good look around to find out what else was wrong.

I was back in this dream again later on and we were leaving. Down at the bus station was a bus going to Mold. We were saying our goodbyes but the driver prepared to close the doors. This woman and I ran to the door and scrambled aboard. We had a look for the guy who was with us but he wasn’t on board. By now the bus had set off. I thought “never mind. We’re on here and Roxanne is on here”. I asked for two and a half to Mold. he smiled and said “I’m not going to Mold”. “Well, take us to wherever you’re going”. He gave me two and a half tickets which came to 11/-. The first thing that I did was seeing as I had some money ready I said that I’d give him the shilling but it was a £10 note. Then I had a 10/- note for him. He looked at me and asked “is that correct?”. I suddenly realised that I’d done, took the £10 note back and gave him 1/-. I went to sit down and to worry about contacting the other guy later. There were 2 boys on the bus who made some kind fo remark about me handing over a £10 note and how did I spot it from that distance? I replied “when you reach a certain age you don’t look at the money, you can smell the difference between the notes.

Much of the rest of the day has been spent on Day Two of my 2017 trip to North America and the page is practically finished. However, we did hit an obstruction.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that one thing always leads to another, and once you start, you’ll be surprised just how many other things there are.

The subject of Marguerite de Bourgeoys cropped up on that web page.

She was a big friend of Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve, the founder of Montreal and she was on one of the very first emigrant voyages to Nouvelle France where she occupied herself with spiritual works and the welfare of the filles du roi, the young girls from orphanages who were sent out to become brides for the soldiers who remained there to settle after having been discharged from the army.

They both came from Troyes which was on my shuttle route between Virlet and Brussels so on the very last time that I drove the route, instead of doing it overnight as I usually did, I took a whole week and visited every place of interest that I could find along the way.

One of the places that I visited was the family home of the Chomedeys and I found all of my photos. But seeing as Troyes is such a beautiful old town I took dozens of photos of many old house and I couldn’t remember which one was his.

No trace of the notes that I made, which was a surprise – especially as they were written up from the following day all the way back to Virlet.

In the end, I had to dive back into the bowels of the back-up disk and find the dictaphone recordings from the journey and re-transcribe the notes for the relevant day and mate them to the photos.

That’s another project that I’ll have to do one of these days. The road between the Belgian border at Rocroi and down to Nevers is one of the most beautiful and historic in all of France. I had a plan that when I was stuck for something to do (whenever that might be) I’d pick a long road like that, explore it thoroughly and write a book about it.

The TRANS LABRADOR HIGHWAY was done in 2010, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall and I’m doing Version 2.0 even as we speak.

After that, I wrote a pile of stuff about Lanouiller and de Bécancour’s CHEMIN DU ROY between Montreal and the city of Québec and all the way down the “Forgotten Coast” as far as it’s possible to go.

The road between Rocroi and Nevers was to be the third of the trilogy but ill-health and feeling sorry for myself somehow conspired to get in the way of all of my plans.

Someone else for whom I was feeling sorry for was the physiotherapist. He came by at 17:00 to tell me that he’s busy and will be back at 19:30. That was a major inconvenience, disrupting my evening like that and I made sure that he knew.

Rosemary phoned me at lunchtime and we had another one of our marathon chats that go on for ever. She’s being swept up by the turn of events and it’s not easy for “a stranger in a strange land” to deal with some of the things that go on. It’s not something that bothers me too much because I couldn’t care less, but Rosemary is much more sensible and focused than I ever am.

After she hung up, I went for a shower to clean myself up ready for His Nibs to come round and put me through my paces

As I mentioned earlier, tea was delicious. And now that I’ve finished my notes I’m off to bed.

Tomorrow I have to nip into town which will do me good. And then I have to carry on with Canada 2017 and sort out the mess that will be Trans-Labrador Highway Version 2.0

So once I finish that I’ll have to do Rocroi-Nevers next, then carry on with the Arctic stuff, go back and carry on with the Emigrant Trails stuff, organise the Grand Banks trips and probably 1000 other things too.

Never mind anything else – I’m far too busy to die right now.

Tuesday 8th March 2016 – FIRST EXCITING THING …

… to happen today was that my web-host’s server went down. And was down for about three hours in total and so you were all denied the pleasure of reading about my ramblings in the early part of the afternoon.

But that wasn’t what upset me the most about it. What did annoy me was that I had been actually using part of the blog from October, and when it all went down, my work came to a shuddering halt. As I mentioned the other day, the next part of the magnum opus which is the collating of the photos that I took in Canada last year with the relevant notes that I made on the dictaphone – that’s also coupled with the entries that I made on my blog so I needed to cut and paste the relevant sections out of there to correspond with whatever I dictated on the dictaphone. And of course, with the blog being down, that I could not do, and so that was that.

Second exciting thing was that the nurse remembered to come this morning. And as a result, I had my blood test. I’ve had the results too, which show that my blood count has now gone back up to 9.0. “Good news” you might be thinking, but it should be tempered with the fact that I’ve had a blood transfusion with two pochettes of blood in between this one and the last one. It’s going to be much more interesting to see what happens at the blood test next week and see where we have got to.

Third exciting thing was that Nerina came along to visit me again during the night, which certainly makes a change from members of my family. Regardless of anything that might (or might not) have happened in the early 90s, I would prefer her company any day to three or four of the others whom I’ve met recently while I’ve been out and about in the middle of the night.

But it was not she who made her appearance during the early part of the evening, but some others with whom I can well live without. I can’t remember what was happening here now with this first bit but I had nine somethings – was it nine stitches? Nine rows of stitches? But they had to be taken out and while this was going on I was surrounded by a load of people whom I knew – some of whom worked in the OUSA offices. But I do remember in my dream passing out long before we reached the end of what was going on there.
But after the trip down the corridor, the next part was a lot more coherent even if I couldn’t remember the beginning of it. I’d been out for a drive with Nerina, each of us in our own car. Both of them were markIII Cortinas – mine being a lovely pale-green late-model one but Nerina’s was an old 2.0 bronze-coloured one. But I was ill and having difficulty driving mine, having been told not to go too far in it, but that wasn’t likely to stop me. After a while, we came to a petrol station and I was feeling really uncomfortable by this time. Nerina suggested that we swap cars as hers was fitted with power-steering and so it would be easier for me to drive. And so we swapped. The fuel gauge in Nerina’s car wasn’t working so I reckoned that I had better fill it up to make sure that I had enough fuel to make it back home again. I told the girl in charge of the petrol pumps to “fill ‘er up”. But after a few seconds, the counter on the petrol pumps stopped working so she tried with the next one, and the same thing happened. And so on, and on. But anyway, it seemed that Nerina’s car was almost empty so I was filling it right to the top – as much as would go in it. Not that that annoyed me – what was annoying me was that the fuel read-outs on the pumps weren’t working. As you probably know, ever since I started with my taxis in 1979 I’ve always kept fuel records for the vehicles that I’ve used, and I still do so even today with Caliburn. I was telling the girl at the fuel pumps about this and she replied “don’t worry, sir, it’ll all be okay. We’ll work it out somehow”. I was wondering just how she was going to do this with all of this confusion about changing from pump to pump, how much fuel had gone into Nerina’s car and how much it was going to cost me. And then how was she going to prepare a receipt for me with all of the details that I needed to keep up with my records as I usually do. The delay was now starting to get on Nerina’s nerves, and she mentioned that I had only invited her out for half an hour and now I had her doing all of this (and it wouldn’t have been the first time that I had heard this complaint either). And I hadn’t even checked the water in the car yet.

But then downstairs, wait for the nurse, work on the web pages as much as I could, coffee and vegan banana muffins for break, baked beans on toast for lunch and home-made vegan lasagne for tea. I’ve told you before, … "and you’ll tell us again" – ed … if I ever recover from this illness that I have and am fit enough to go back home, I shall immediately find something else that might be wrong with me.

Much as I love my little house and miss it very much, I shall miss Liz’s home cooking even more.

Monday 25th January 2016 – B*GG*R!

And so I had the phone call – at 17:27 precisely. “Mr Hall – you need to come into hospital for a blood transfusion. Your blood count has dropped right down to 6.8”. That is, incidentally, the lowest that it has been during this whole procedure except for the day that I crawled into the doctor’s.
“But do I really need to come in? I’m coming in for good on Wednesday anyway and I’m having a blood transfusion as soon as I arrive”.
“I’m afraid that you do – in fact you need to come in to the Urgences right away”.
And so after a brief discussion, I packed my bag. Liz had just come home from work and luckily, there was a vegan lasagne to hand in the fridge so I managed to have a meal this time before I set out.

It also gave me an opportunity to reflect on my last night’s voyages, where for the first time for ages, I was accompanied by no-one that I knew (except for a very brief cameo appearance right at the end).

We were in the USA last night. There were three guys, two of them were quite sedate teenagers and the third was quite wild. Something had happened involving the farces of law and order and they had had to flee from their homes. This is the story of their drive to safety, something like Thelma & Louise or Fandango as they fled north towards the Canadian border. The two sedate guys were fleeing together and eventually the police caught up with them and flagged them down. The third guy turned up on his own a short time later, bringing with him some shoes that he had … errr … borrowed along the way. He found himself on this fuel station and was immediately surrounded by the police, so he gave himself up. It turned out that the person who had been doing all of these dreadful things against these boys, causing them to flee, was wanted by the police himself and on some quite serious charges too, and once this had all become clear, they began to be treated as witnesses rather than as criminals themselves. The third boy, the one with the shoes, was told by the police “ohh yes, you were bringing the shoes to us, weren’t you? You were coming here to meet up with your friends and to bring us the shoes as evidence”. Of course, he immediately agreed and so this car chase ended on a happy note and everyone lived happily ever after. This fuel station where we were was one of these places that was clad in green corrugated iron (the modern angular stuff) that was quite close to a road junction that was a diagonal T-junction. The main road was flanked by a row of buildings with the side turning diagonally backwards and the petrol station was up the side turning behind the buildings on the main road. And in the corner right up behind the service station right up against the back of the buildings was a kind of café in a portakabin made of the same material. I’d been reading some instructions somewhere in this fuel station about petrol stations that sold bottled gas for parties, barbecues and so on. It listed all of the places where you could go to buy it, and one group of places that was listed was a group of petrol stations that were struggling to survive now that they had lost their Phillips Petrol franchises. I remembered something in the back of my head that I had heard while I’d been on my travels about Phillips Petrol Stations not being allowed to sell bottled gas. But as soon as they had lost their franchises, they had started to sell everything, including bottled gas, as they fought for survival. Anyway, these two boys decided that with peace having broken out, they would go home and this would be the end of their adventure. The third guy decided that he would carry on, head north and into Canada, pawn the car that he was driving (which was someone else’s car anyway) and make a new start in Canada. I decided that I would go back to Canada with him. But as I came out of the service station building onto the forecourt I had this astonishing feeling of déjà-vu that I had been here before – maybe when I had crossed over into the USA I had come here to buy some fuel and buy a coffee in the café. We can’t be all that far from the Canadian border here. As these two boys were leaving, they were going through their receipts and statements of their expenditure. One boy had a look of horror on his face “TWENTY …… ONE THOUSAND dollars for candy” in a very indignant tone. “really, I don’t think that I’m allowed that!”. The third boy and I had smiles on our faces. How on earth had he managed to spend that much money on sweets?
A little later, we had the story of two brothers, one of whom was brilliantly successful and the other who was not. The unsuccessful one lived in a big house and was clearly sponging off his other brother. A deal had been done somewhere and the successful brother had ended up some $150,000 light on it. On making certain enquiries he discovered that some document were missing. He went round to see his brother and they went through all of the papers and in the end the poorer brother admitted that he had them and this was part of the fraud that he had committed on his brother. The rich brother then asked for them back and put some very heavy pressure on the second brother. In the end the papers were handed over but the second brother then put his hand into his desk drawer and pulled out a recording unit. he had apparently been recording this discussion which had contained details of some of the evil deeds that the rich brother had done in order to get where he was today. Of course the richer brother wanted to have this recording but the poorer brother wouldn’t let him and so there was a fight and the richer brother ended up beating the second brother to a pulp in order to lay his hands on the incriminating recording. He walked back out to the front of the house where the second brother’s wife and some friends had been having some kind of party, but he explained that he had to go. He got into his car, which was a red Toyota kind of thing and drove away. A short while later, his wife said that they should go and check up on the other brother – it was the thing to do and they had other things to to anyway – so she went back to check. On returning, she said that he had crashed out and was having a really good sleep by the pool but she hadn’t looked really closely. And should they ring him up? It might spoil his sleep. The first brother, who had been something of an actor, ended up disguising himself as some kind of a tramp with 2 days’ growth of beard and shabby clothes. He walked into this Greyhound bus station and this was where I entered the scene. I was with someone else – it might even have been Rosemary but I’m not too sure and I was saying “this is how bus stations are in North America. It was in the open air, with the soil being that red compacted sandy soil that you find in the Utah Desert. We had apparently been talking about the pie huts in American bus stations before and here was one exactly like the one that we had mentioned, right on the corner at the bottom and there were loads of poorer people around here. We went into the waiting room, which was like a portakabin of exactly the same type as the café at the garage earlier this evening. We waited for our bus and this brother-disguised-as-a-tramp was in there talking to a girl. This girl was a network-marketeer and she was in someone’s network at quite a senior grade,called a Scooby-Doo in her network. She did a good deal of the motivational talks as she was really keen and really enthusiastic about it. This brother wasn’t really all that keen or enthusiastic about it – not really interested at all, but he needed someone to talk to in order to make some kind of convincing cover for himself.

I had my blood test after this (as mentioned above) and then breakfast. And then I found myself alone. Liz had to go off to work and Terry had a job on for today. I wasn’t up to much and so I stayed behind and did some work on my 3D project, wrote a letter and generally had a quiet day. That is, up until my phone call at 17:27.

I was on the road again at 17:50 heading north to Montlucon, stopping at the Intermarché at Pionsat to buy some bananas and a packet of biscuits. I’ve been stranded in the hospital without food before, as I’m sure you all remember.

There was a parking place outside the Urgences when I arrived at 18:45, so I didn’t have far to walk. I didn’t have long to wait in reception either, but once I’d crossed the threshold, the problems began. My previous history means nothing at all, apparently, and we had to start right from the beginning yet again, even down to the electro-cardiac tests. I had two doctors examining me too, and each one of them asked me exactly the same questions and did exactly the same tests.

While I was lying on a trolley in the corridor waiting to be assigned, a woman came over to me and had quite a friendly chat with me, as if she knew just who I was. It took me a while to figure it out but eventually I realised just who she was. She’s the surgeon who will be attacking me on Thursday morning. And doesn’t she look different in civvies? She reckoned that the horrible solution that I Just had to drink – allegedly to reduce the amount of potassium in my blood – was in fact a punishment for some misbehaviour that I’ve carried out.

But one thing in which she totally agrees with me – and that is that to have a blood count of 8.6 last Monday, and for it to be still 8.6 on Thursday and then for it to dramatically drop to 6.4 (because that’s what it was by the time that I arrived here) today is quite simply not normal. I’ve mentioned before another set of abnormal results from the Laboratory and so I wonder whether there’s something not quite right about the Laboratory.

The blood has finally arrived anyway – at, would you believe, 23:40. I’m being moved to a private room so they can feed it in. I foresee a very restless night.

Monday 4th January 2016 – SO NOW WE KNOW!

28th January is the day that is set aside for my operation. I need to come into the hospital the day before, at 09:00, so that I can have a major blood transfusion prior to the operation. And I can guess why.

But as for the rest of the details of the operation, my card is marked ne veut pas recevoir des informations – “doesn’t want to have any further information”. Yes, what is going to happen is going to happen regardless of whatever they tell me about it, and if they start to tell me about it, I’ll just spend the next three or four weeks losing sleep worrying. Frankly, I’d prefer to be walking calmly across the car park, to be clouted from behind by a pick-axe handle and wake up to find that the job has been done.

As it is, I’ll be spending at least a week in hospital afterwards while I recover – if I do – and that’s something that ought to worry all of you a great deal because if it does all go wrong, then I’m going to come back and haunt the lot of you. Especially if you are a female reader. I wouldn’t mind putting the willies up quite a few young ladies of the female sex and I have a list already prepared.

We can start with a young lady who has featured on these pages before. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall my mentioning a girl described as “the one that got away” from my evil clutches 20-odd years ago. She’s put in an appearance or two on these pages since then, and there she was again last night. I can’t remember where I was going or what I was doing for the first part of last night’s journey, but she was certainly there and her card will be amongst the first to be marked.
But after a nocturnal ramble down the corridor to the porcelain horse and back into the arms of Morpheus, I had a different partner in crime and I can’t now remember who it was. But whoever it was, we were also in the company of a couple of regulars from the Carry-On team, Sid James and Joan Sims included. We were somewhere up the north -west coast of Spain near the cape, whatever it is called, where one turns into the Bay of Biscay. The cape is a kind of headland that shelters a bay to the north-east and there was a big run-down house overlooking the bay, with a big sandy beach, rather like a cross between the setting in And Then There Were None and the old house in Carry On Regardless. Everyone was planning on going down there for a couple of days so my companion and I decided that we would seed the house with all kinds of practical jokes. This worked in spades and we certainly succeeded in putting the willies up the rest of our company.

From there, I waited for the nurse who was to take the blood sample and then I could have breakfast, followed by a nice hot shower. I must make myself all clean and tidy for the hospital after all.

At Pionsat I went to the pharmacy for the next round of prescriptions and then to the Intermarche for some bread and tomatoes, and then off to my house to inspect the property and see what else was going on. It was cold in my attic too, although not as cold as it might have been.

Back on the road I headed for Montlucon and tracked down the office where I need to go to pay for my blood tests. They’ve sent me a reminder. I didn’t stop and go in because there was nowhere in the vicinity to park and I didn’t have the time to walk any great distance. I went off to the Hospital for my interview with the surgeon and it was really busy – I found possibly the last parking place on the overflow car park.

The surgeon who will be operating on me is only a young girl (which is more an indictment of just how much I have aged than any criticism of her) and we had quite a chat, much of which was in Flemish. There has been quite a commentary on these pages about a certain hospital, the Universiteit Ziekenhuis van Leuven in Flanders – a hospital that has received several good remarks in its favour, and guess where this surgeon did her training? That’s right, the Universiteit Ziekenhuis van Leuven. And so it looks like I’m going to have the best of both worlds. I’m sure that if I ask her nicely, she’ll bring me a plate of fritjes.

In fact, I had quite a chat about my diet with one of the nurses there. She suggested a food hamper too.

In a desperate effort to kill two birds with one stone, I went up to the oncology department to see if they had received my blood results. Apparently not, so they rang up to enquire. Just 7.7, a decline of 0.3 in just 2 days. This is starting to become silly.

I do need to have a blood transfusion, according to them, so I explained about my 100km round trip to the hospital, explaining how it was wearing me out. But to no avail. They couldn’t do me now, sir. I’ll have to come back tomorrow. I went to the Carrefour and did some shopping instead.

We had a minor disaster on the way back. I’m using my Belgian bank account as a kind of fighting fund, but when I went to draw some cash out (there’s a branch here in Montlucon) I found to my dismay that my card expired at the end of December. That’s going to halt me full in my stride, without a doubt. I need to do something about this.

Vegan vegetable lasagne for tea (Liz’s gorgeous cooking is the one positive side of being ill, no doubt about that) and then another early night. I can’t keep it up like I used to, and having to go back to Montlucon means that I need another 07:00 start – never mind 07:45.

I shan’t be sorry when all of this is over, regardless of the outcome.

Tuesday 14th October 2014 – THIS JET LAG THING …

… is still affecting me and I’ve no idea why. Last night, it was 05:00 when I finally went to bed. And had Terry not telephoned me at about 10:30 to come round and pick up some things from here, I would probably still be in bed even now.

But anyway, seeing as I was up, I was up and I had a leisurely breakfast and watched a film on the DVD – Rio Bravo, one of my favourite Westerns and another one in which the actors are more intent on having a good time than they are on focusing on the script and the stage direction. Of course, it’s the kind of thing that only good actors can get away with.

This afternoon, the clearing up started and by the time that it went dark, I had no fewer than 10 bin-bags of clothes prepared for recycilng. And that’s not all either as there are three dustbins full of clothes in the barn plus a few items of clothes elsewhere. I can’t believe how much rubbish that I’ve actually managed to accumulate here – there’s even stuff that I remember buying in the UK before I met Nerina, and that’s 30-odd years ago. Still, it’s all ready now to be transported to the local clothes recycling bin.

Something else that I can’t believe is that despite all of this, there still doesn’t seem to be very much difference in the amount of space taken up in here. It’s as if nothing whatever has been moved or emptied. But then my tidying up is always like that. If it looks any different from before, it’s usually that it’s more untidy, with having to move all kinds of stuff around in order to get at what i’m looking for.

I rang up Rosemary as well in the evening. On Saturday I’m going to be taking all of these unwanted clothes to Montlucon and to do some shopping too, as it seems that I’ve run out of oats and things like that. Rosemary is always game for a wander around the shops so I invited her to accompany me, which makes a nice change.

And then I finished off the vegan lasagne that Liz had given me in a doggie-bag the other day. That was tea, and then I settled down to see what was happening in the big wild world.

Monday 13th October 2014 – WE WERE RADIOING TODAY

Yes, it didn’t take me long to get back into the routine, did it?

And with a reasonably-early night I managed to be up and about by 10:15 too, without the benefit of the alarm. And that gave me an hour or so to do a few things around here first.

Many of you who read the rubbish that I write elsewhere will know that I have a thing about clouds and how they reflect the skyline underneath when passing over mountainous areas.

clouds reflecting skyline puy de sancy puy de dome franceThis was quite apparent today as you can see in this photo of the Puy de Sancy taken from my favourite little spec at the bird-watching site near St Gervais.

We’ve had a fair amount of rain just recently so the sky is quite humid. Here sure enough, the moisture has condensed where the air has had to rise up over the mountains and formed clouds that reflect almost exactly the skyline underneath.

We had more vegan lasagne for lunch and then went off to Gerzat to record the Radio Anglais sessions for Radio Arverne. And just for a change, everyone was ready and everything passed off without incident. We were in and out in just an hour and 10 minutes.

While we were there, the weather had changed and we were in the rain on the way back. Liz gave me a doggy bag of leftover vegan lasagne and ginger cake, and I came back here to plot my next move.

Saturday 11th October 2014 – BACK TO THE DAILY GRIND

I was on my travels again last night, and it was once more with the guitarist/singer and drummer with whom I played for a couple of years in the mid-70s and who have been featuring rather a lot just recently in these pages.

We were in a pub in Liverpool sitting at a table waiting for things to happen before we went on stage and who should come and sit next to us but John Wetton. He’s a bassist/singer of no little repute, having appeared in several supergroups of the 70s and early 80s and though while he’s not on my list of top-10 bassists, I was still relishing having a good chat with him and maybe even getting him onstage with us in some capacity.

But for some unknown reason, the other two were being rather abusive and offensive to him and after a couple of minutes he left. I was quite upset at that because it’s not every day that one has the opportunity to be in the intimate presence of a superstar.

With all of those issues having been dealt with, I heaved myself out of my stinking pit and set about making breakfast. That wasn’t as easy as it might have been either, because I couldn’t remember where the coffee was, and I couldn’t remember which glass I used for my orange juice, all that kind of thing. It’s astonishing how, after just 45 days away from home, how much of my old routine that I have forgotten.

And talking of being back in the routine, once breakfast was out of the way I sat down and started work on the next batch of Radio Anglais stuff. And happy that I’d dealt with the shopping issues yesterday, I could have a really good whack at it. Three or four hours of uninterrupted work and I’d written four programmes – a mere 2774 words. When you can find the rhythm, it’s easy to understand how it was that people like Enid Blyton and Earl Stanley Gardner could knock off 5,000 or 6,000 words in a day on a consistent basis if they could be totally uninterrupted (except for someone serving up mugs of hot coffee on a regular basis too).

By now though, the weather had cleared and the sun was shining. That was something that was quite uexpected, but welcome nevertheless. We even, just for a fleeting moment, had an overcharge of electricity and I wish that I had thought on and reconnected the 12-volt immersion heater.

Later on in the afternoon, I went round to Liz and Terry’s. This was to rehearse the radio programmes because Liz is going to be busy tomorrow, and we also had a lovely vegan lasagne followed by vegan ginger cake. You’ve no idea how well Liz and Terry look after me.

Back home, I did a few more things on the computer and, just as I was about to settle down for an early night the internet suddenly sprang back into life. I restarted the computer and settled down to something of a long night. I had plenty of work to do.

Sunday 15th December 2013 – YOU MAY NOT BELIEVE THIS …

… but outside here right now I have a washing line strung up outside and a pile of washing hanging from it.

Today has been another delightful day for weather and a strong wind has been blowing for most of the day. We were radio rehearsing today at Liz’s and I had to go round to Cécile’s on the way to pick up a box of stuff. And as there was a bag full of dirty washing in Caliburn, I took advantage of Cécile’s washing maching (I hope that you don’t mind, Cécile) and bunged it all in.

On the way back I picked it up and back here, with the temperature at about 8°C and this strong warm wind blowing, I hung it up outside to dry. It will be interesting to see what it’s like tomorrow morning.

With it being Sunday, it’s a day of rest of course, and so I had a lie-in until all of 09:30. After breakfast I did some tidying up in here, watched a film, did some more radio programmes and organised the computer a little better. But it’s in here that the most improvement was made. Little by little, if I can keep it up, I’ll have this place looking ship-shape and Bristol-fashion one day.

Round at Liz’s we had a very lovely meal of vegan lasagne and garlic bread followed by mince pies, and then did the radio programmes. But only for Radio Arverne though as Radio Tartasse hasn’t sent us any info for this month. We’ll have to work that out as we go along.

Liz also very kindly let me use the shower and so now I’m nice and clean, my clothes are nice and clean, and as I washed my bedding today I can put the other set on and I’ll be in clean bedding for tonight. Ahhh the luxury! It’s amazing just how much pleasure there is in the simple things of life.

And there’s no heat on up here tonight. It’s 16°C without any help from anyone.