Tag Archives: vegan sausages

Friday 24th November 2023 – AS YOU MIGHT …

… expect, having decided not to go to the shops this morning in case the garage came to pick up Caliburn, they didn’t turn up at all.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, this is par for the course. Only I can do things like DRIVE 500 MILES TO VISIT AN ISOLATED ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE and find it closed for the season, or load up Caliburn to go to the dechetterie and pick the only day in the month when it is closed.

And in 2022 where I booked 4 nights in a hotel in Montreal to find that the only day that the train to the east left was on the third night

That’s the kind of thing that crops up all the time and regular readers of this rubbish are used to this by now.

Having said that, it was really just as well that I didn’t go because I really didn’t feel like it. It was another horrible night where it took ages to go off to sleep and when I did, I had another incredibly mobile night.

When the alarm went off I staggered into the kitchen, to find that I was actually feeling rather more steady on my feet today than I have done just recently, and I even managed 4 steps without leaning on anything.

It might be Severine’s exertions that are working, or it might be my nocturnal exercises with the elastic band wrapped round my ankles, or it might just be my imagination.

After the medication and checking my mails (and I’ve had authorisation to have a taxi for Paris on Friday next week) I had a very slow start to the day and it took a while to wind myself up ready to start. We were on board a ship again last night and every time we’d go ashore I’d always sit with the same person, another guy. On this particular occasion we all lined up ready to climb into the boats to take us ashore. I sat down in a good place but the guy walked straight past me and went to sit down next to someone else. In the end I had either a girl or a woman sit next to me but I was more interested in listening to what these other 2 guys were doing. They were having a tremendous amount of fun talking about Queen Victoria as a painter, cracking jokes with each other etc. One of them was having a go at painting and everyone was crowded around having a look. All of a sudden, even in the dream, I felt really lonely and alone.

Liz once asked me a good while ago if I ever felt lonely, living as I do. But in fact I don’t actually live alone. The advantage of having a split personality is that there’s always a group of me living inside my head and there’s that much noise going on that I’m certainly not lonely.

But in actual fact, the alternatives to being lonely are probably worse. “he who travels fastest travels furthest” and “he who travels fastest travels alone”. And I’ve certainly covered much more ground alone than I otherwise would have done.

The only time that I have really regretted being on my own was at times such as strolling across the Little Big Horn battlefield or standing on the top of South Pass, or visiting the Norse Furdustrandir on the coast of Labrador and there was no-one to share the experience with me.

But of course, had I had someone in tow before I set off, I wouldn’t have ever arrived at anywhere like that. I really ought to have had a daughter. Castor enjoyed my little stories when we were alone together on THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR late at night.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bedroom we were all discussing what we would be doing on a particular evening at home. Almost everyone had various plans but it ended up that I would be there with my 3 younger siblings at home wo we were trying to work out what we would be doing about a meal. I tried to find out whether there was any food that needed collecting because sometimes there was but the food that I could have picked up coming back from Percy Penguin’s I’d picked up the previous day. There were 1 or 2 things from other outlying farms but it was quite out of the way to go. They did ask me if I’d go out there to pick it up but for some reason I said that it would be difficult. As they were leaving my parents turned to me and said “you’ll be OK organising this meal for the other 3 won’t you? And you’ll be paying”. That was the first news that I heard about it. They had never ever discussed the payment with me for a single minute until they had some of their feet outside the door.

And then I had exactly the same dream half an hour later – word for word.

Later on I was seeing on some kind of basis a girl who had the same name as one of my regular visitors, but it wasn’t she . A third by began to hang around occasionally. I’d invited the girl back for a meal and I’d cooked something but the guy showed up. Out of courtesy I gave him some food. He asked for something but I only had a little so I said “you’re eating me out of house and home aren’t you?”. He replied “it’s not my fault. I didn’t ask to come for a meal”. I replied “you asked to asked to hang around with this girl. What did you expect?”. In the end it ended up in one of these arguments that we had. I said to the boy “there’s only one person who can decided who the girl goes out with and that’s the girl herself” and I went off to clear the table. About 30 seconds later he said “it looks as if I’m stealing your girlfriend” and walked out of the room with her. After she left she stuck her head back in the door to say “if you see (something) belonging to me you’ll remember to give it to me won’t you? You will still keep looking for it, won’t you?”. I answered with a very non-committal “yes” and carried on clearing the table.

Some of my plants are going to miss my layered kitchen but I’m going to have it remodelled as I can no longer walk up the steps. One of the plants was an adopted plant that came from a level kitchen anyway so it wouldn’t have too much trouble readapting but the others will probably find it difficult because the steps in the kitchen are completely beyond me now. It’s high time that I had the floor and everything put on the level. And what that has to do with anything I really don’t know at all.

There was another dream too. We were on holiday. I was with a girl but I can’t remember who she was. There was a variety of older couples. There was a very young girl there with a much older man. He was disabled. We formed the opinion that she wasn’t looking after him correctly. She seemed to be a nice enough girl but there was something about how the reaction between the 2 of them didn’t seem correct at all. When we travelled to this particular hotel we could see that the old guy was having a hard time but the girl didn’t seem to be particularly concerned all that much. Next day we were going somewhere and the girl appeared on her own. She tagged onto our little group of people. We didn’t really say all that much to her but when we climbed out of the coach to go on the way back to the hotel we began to chat. We asked about the guy and she gave some very non-committal answers. I had the uncomfortable feeling that she was trying to ingratiate herself with me for some reason but I wasn’t really sure why. As we climbed up and down the steps across this entry to go to the hotel I shouted out to my girlfriend “all those in favour of a coffee say ‘Aye'” and the girl shouted “Aye” too. I had no idea exactly what was happening but there were some things about this situation that just didn’t seem right to me at all.

That’s just another one of a whole series of strange encounters that I’ve had with strange people. 25 years ago I had an e-mail from a girl. “I’m a clandestine from Myanmar here in Brussels with no papers at all. I think you can help me”.
My biggest default has always been my curiosity and that has led me into a pile of difficulties and problems in the past but nevertheless, I responded.
We met up in Brussels and she got into my car. A beautiful young Oriental girl, probably early 20s at most. Perfectly manicured hands, perfectly coiffured hair, designer denim jacket with matching jeans.
If it looks like a rat and walks like a rat and smells like a rat, then it’s a rat. There’s no way she’d fought her way through the mangrove swamps on the border between Myanmar and Thailand

She played me along for a while and I played her along for a while but she eventually grasped the message that whatever she wanted from me she wasn’t going to get until I in my turn had some answers to a whole host of difficult questions, and that was something else that fizzled out.

There was another complicate dream about a girl who lived on a model housing estate that wasn’t quite finished. She had a pet that might have been a dog. As she travelled a lot she relied on one of the neighbours, a young guy, to feed the dog for her. On one occasion that she’d been away something had gone wrong about the dog food. In the end the guy had only ended up making meals for the dog for 3 days instead of 7. It led to quite a few complications, not only for her and the guy but for a few passers-by who heard their discussion. That’s all that I remember about this dream but it did go on for hours and hours and at one point I remember sitting on the kerb overlooking this housing estate eating a meal that I suspected was dog food.

There was something to do with a Prisoner-of-War camp. There were civilian internees, of which I was one, who had to go to the camp during the day but were allowed home on parole at night. On one particular occasion I was one of the last ones to leave. There were 2 women who had come there but were both ill in bed. By the looks of things they weren’t going home. The female commandant grabbed hold of me and began to give me things, festooning me like a Christmas tree. There were all kinds of stuff that apparently these women had brought that needed to go home. I couldn’t understand how I was supposed to carry all of this but she said “things like the Hoover here you can pull by the cord and it’ll follow you”. In the end, being in no position to argue, I shook my head and set off to catch the bus back to where I was staying. There were all kinds of complications about bringing these things into the lift. The Hoover snagged on its cable around a step, it was left out of the lift when we went in and the doors closed. There were all kinds of extreme difficulties through which I was going, trying to move these things while these 2 women were just lying there in bed doing nothing while I was doing all of this and upsetting everyone else who was trying to share a lift with me, waiting at the entrance to this building while the door opened. I can’t ever remember feeling as frustrated as I did about this

And that used to be a regular feature during my nocturnal voyages too.

Having dealt with all of that (which took much longer than it ought) I attacked the radio programme. And despite several occasions when I went off with the fairies I actually finished all of the notes. That leaves me tomorrow afternoon for starting my Christmas baking because I’m shopping in the morning.

With some time left over I carried on going through one of the back-up drives in the array on the shelf and made another pile of space.

Tea tonight was a delicious sausage, beans and chips. If I’m not careful I’ll be running out of sausages in due course. That batch of vegan sausages that I bought in Jersey is delicious but I won’t be able to buy any more. Beans though are no problem. Ric and Elaine bought me some last year and Liz and Terry bought me a pile this summer when they came over.

So I’m going to bed now, ready to fight the good fight in the shops at St Nicolas tomorrow. I need some mushrooms for my pizza on Sunday and a few other bits and pieces too.

And then I’ll have to think about an order from LeClerc. At the moment I’m doing Ok for supplies but I’ll never be able to find anything when I really need it.

Ordering my shopping is just like waiting for the garage to come for Caliburn, really.

Thursday 9th November 2023 – MAIS OÙ SONT …

… les neiges d’antan? wrote Francois Villon 550 years ago in his poem La Ballade Des Dames Du Temps Jadis.

And I wrote something similar last night in my tale of woe about “Ladies From Former Times” when I wrote about Castor, Zero and TOTGA and the absence thereof during my nocturnal ramblings. Where indeed are the snows of yesteryear?

So of course it goes without saying that last night Zero and TOTGA came to see me – at different times, I have to say. I don’t think that I could cope with them both together.

It was all extremely confusing because I had another bad night – one of many that I seem to be having these days. I think that it must be my guilty conscience catching up with me, or something like that.

But that wasn’t the worst of it. As I said, at some point TOTGA came by. We were talking about an expression that I’d used in a conversation – one of these superlative hyperbole expressions. At first she didn’t understand it so I explained that it came from the “Round The Horne” programme which was very good at doing that kind of thing. I went to give her an example and was about to talk about Geronimo and his Indian braves when I suddenly had the most appalling attack of cramp in my left lower leg and I awoke in absolute agony.

Can you imagine it? There I was, not only with the bird on my plate but just about to get my fork stuck in it and I had a bad attack of cramp. The first time that she’s shown up for quite a while too. Is there anything more disappointing than that?

Actually, all through the night I was having these bad attacks of cramp and it was probably all of this that was disturbing my sleep.

In fact, I was glad when the alarm went off and I could stagger to my feet.

It took rather longer than usual to come round into the Land of the Living, but once I was finally on the same planet as you lot, I transcribed the dictaphone notes.

TOTGA I mentioned just now. And later on I was in some kind of big city. One of these places with some impressive stone buildings like Bank headquarters etc. I was walking along a path that was on top of a cliff with all of these big buildings on my right. I came to a point where I couldn’t go any further. The wall of the building went right down to the edge of the cliff. I noticed that there was a gate in it. I can’t think why I hadn’t noticed this gate before. I walked through the gate and slowly went up the hill. There in the distance was a Fortis Bank cash machine. Luckily I had my new Fortis card with me. I picked up the card and tried to put it in the machine but it wouldn’t fit. I’d noticed that I’d actually left it stuck to the backing. I had to peel off the backing but it still wouldn’t fit. I noticed that there was still something else attached to it. It took me several goes to have the card completely separate from whatever it was that it was stuck to. I put it in the machine. At first I had a really difficult job to remember the code number. Eventually I recalled it and could access the account. I then had to think about drawing out some money – obviously, with not going anywhere near a bank these days, the more money I have on hand the better but there has to be a limit. I didn’t want to go too close to the limit in case the machine swallowed my card and then I really would be stuck. I had to think really hard about how much money I was going to ask for.

Actually this is a real preoccupation with me right now. I can’t actually go to the bank any more because I can’t climb back onto the bus at the bus stop. I have a little “fighting fund” of cash squirrelled away but it’s not going to last for ever.

It’s actually quite bizarre. When I was at University, as well as being Chair of Northern Europe I was also involved in Disability issues when I was on the Executive Committee and so I’m well-aware of the day-to-day problems that disability can present.

So I’ve never understood why, if the local council only has a certain budget to spend on improving the bus routes and facilities around the town, why one of the last bus stops to be raised up to a working height is the one just outside the Medical Centre where all of the ill and infirm people go.

That should have been one of the first to be raised up. But instead, the buses stop in the roadway far from the pavement and they don’t “kneel down” enough for wheelchairs and handicapped people to board very easily.

Anyway I digress.

A little earlier I also mentioned that Zero put in an appearance. But you really don’t want to know about the voyage that we had together, especially if you are eating your meal right now. It’s been a while since there has been anything really gruesome figuring in my nocturnal voyages, but when there is, there really is.

With a bit of luck she might put in an appearance tonight and we’ll have a happy ending.

Some nights, what goes on in my sleep is far more stressful than anything that happens during the day. It’s similar to the reason why I’m having serious thoughts about stopping my treatment at Leuven. It doesn’t matter how good the treatment might be and how efficient the care is in the journey to and from Vlaanderen is finishing me off.

Once I’d sorted that out I attacked the notes for the radio programme that I dictated last night. And I stuck at it and finished the programme. I’m actually now at 31st May 2024 with my totally-completed radio shows. I want to be as far ahead as I can possibly be because sooner or later the inevitable will catch up with me.

Afterwards I spent some time tidying the apartment. I’m having a visit tomorrow so the place needs to be clean and tidy. I know that cleanliness is next to Godliness but with me it’s next to impossible.

Neitzsche famously said “out of chaos comes order” but he said that a long time before I was ever thought of. Ezra Pound once said of Ford Madox Ford “Put Ford naked in an empty room and within an hour behold total chaos!”. That’s something that I understand very well

The bedroom is actually clean now and I’ve even vacuumed the floor. And you’ve no idea just how difficult a simple task like vacuuming is right now.

And then I had a good wash and brush up and the car came for me to take me to the Centre de Re-education. The ergotherapist had me opening and closing doors, laying tables, picking up pins and counters off the table, that sort of thing. She also says that next week she’ll come round here to give me practical advice about getting the most out of my apartment.

Severine the physiotherapist put me through my paces too and then, totally, exhausted, I headed back home in the car.

My cleaner was just coming into the building so she helped me up the stairs and into here, where I made myself my mug of hot chocolate.

The rest of the day, such as it was, has been spent pairing off the music for the next couple of radio programmes and beginning to write the notes for one of them.

Tea tonight was delicious. Steamed vegetables and a vegan sausage in a vegan cheese sauce. That was a meal that I enjoyed very much.

So now I’m going to bed, but not before I’ve sent someone a message. If I had to pick a favourite relative (and despite everything that I have said, I do actually have one) it’s the one who is getting married in Michigan tomorrow and I’m really disappointed that I can’t be there with her.

She actually works for one of the biggest transport firms in North America and was away on a mission for work when she was caught in the lockdown over across the border in 2020. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Tomorrow morning I’m going to fight the good fight at the shops if the wind has dropped because it was quite savage again today. And then I’ll finalise my tidying up ready to find out what is actually going on about this visit tomorrow.

The plot sickens.

Friday 27th October 2023 – THE PREVIOUS DAYS’ …

… completely entries are now all on line.

That’s because I have now found a decent internet connection – yes, I’m back home.

And getting back home was an adventure all of its own as you will find out as you read on.

Last night I’d gone to bed early ready for my early 05:30 start but as usual, I couldn’t sleep. I awoke at 12!50 with a start. I had the radio on and was still listening to it. Somehow the dictaphone that was by the side of the bed fell on the floor. I couldn’t find out where the noise that I was listening to was coming from. I searched round the bedroom for a minute or two until I suddenly regained my senses and found that it was my radio. I took off the headphones ready to go back into this dream and carry on.

And so I dictated into my little machine.

At some point I must have gone back to sleep but I awoke again at 03:00 and that was really that. By 04:30 I’d given up any attempt to sleep and ended up listening to the old-time radio programmes.

At 05:40 someone came round to take my blood pressure and then I had the breakfast that I was promised.

After everyone had gone I had a really good wash and then carried on with selecting the music for the next series of radio programmes. Nurses came and went of course but I battled on and I’m now up to 29th November 2024, with several holes in between such as my Isle of Wight Festival and my Hawkfest programmes for which I’ve yet to decide on the music.

The Hawkfest should be exciting though. There have been a whole variety of Spacerock groups from all over the world who have performed at the various Hawkfests and I managed to talk to a few of them at some point or another. I’ll probably end up with a couple of hours of music and there will still be a lot that I’d have to leave out.

At 11:50 I was whisked off to the IRM unit (in a wheelchair – how the mighty have fallen) where they injected me with a radioactive substance and left me to simmer for an hour, and then they stuck me in another Stargate where I went back and to for 20 minutes.

Back at my unit I was eventually allowed to eat my lunch – several hours later – and the doctor came to see me.

She told me much of what I already knew – about how the cancer is spreading through my kidneys, my heart and into my nervous system via a few other parts of my body.

She thinks, as I have been told elsewhere, that I wouldn’t be able to survive a heart transplant in my state of health so that’s out of the question. As a result she advised me not to buy any long-playing records.

However, she wants me to have an IRM done of my heart, and that can be done locally. It may be that some tweaking can be done to it to keep it going.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that right back at the beginning of all of this in 2015 I was told that I had a coeur de champion – the “heart of a champion” and that’s what will keep me going, but if ever my heart begins to give out, it’s the downhill slope.

And so her comments weren’t any surprise.

She did have some good news. She’s talked to the Haematology department and they may well be willing to take me on instead of my having to go all the way to Leuven. I’m entitled to transport to any hospital within 500kms of home. Paris is 334 kms and Leuven is 650 kms, so continue to go to Leuven means going by train and really, I just can’t do it any longer.

And that’s a disappointment. I had quite enjoyed my spell at Leuven because firstly it’s a beautiful city secondly, I get to see Alison, and thirdly it awoke all of the Flemish that I’d picked up when I lived in Brussels.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I first met Alison at that weird American company where I worked for almost a year after I left General Electric.

The doctor took my telephone and spent the next hour or so reading all of my reports from Leuven and translating them from Flemish to French. She’ll take them to the Haematologist and have a chat.

Presumably they’ll look into the other things that are going wrong with me.

The car pulled up for me just over an hour late and then we set off into the traffic.

Paris and its outskirts were nose-to-tail all the way, and we crawled slowly out of the city. Once we hit the countryside we could put our foot down and began to make good time, only to be pulled over in a Gendarme control.

It’ s obviously near the end of the month and the Gendarmes don’t have enough victims so they went over the car with a toothcomb until they found something for which they could write out a ticket.

It was 21:00 when we finally arrived here and my cleaner was waiting for me. She and the taxi driver helped me up the stairs into my apartment for which I was grateful. It was an agonising climb.

Once I’d recovered I made myself baked potato, baked beans and vegan sausage and that was that.

Now I’ve written my notes I’m off to bed. There’s no alarm in the morning and I’m going to have a lie-in – if I can. There’s usually always someone who comes along to interrupt me.

Friday 15th September 2023 – AS BARRY HAY …

… once famously said, "there’s just one thing – IT’S GOOD TO BE BACK HOME".

And you’ve no idea the size of the sigh of relief that escaped from my lips when I collapsed into my chair here in my office.

Hardly surprising since I’ve been on the road since 05:20 this morning. That was when my alarm went off and I was already packed and dressed. It didn’t take too long to load up the car and then hit the road.

Alison dropped me off at the Kortenberg railway station and it took me a while to work out how to reach the platform. It’s not like a conventional station and things take some hunting down.

nevertheless I was soon on the platform and in time for the 06:28 to Brussels. And it was just as well that I chose that train because these are low-line commuter units where the floor is level with the platform, not like the urban express double-deckers where there’s a climb up into the carriage that I can no longer accomplish.

The rain pulled in bang on time so I had about 75 minutes to wait.

However, what I’d learnt so far today was that the 65 minutes to traverse Paris isn’t going to be enough. I need to think of another plan.

At the booking office they wouldn’t let me change my ticket, but up on the platform, speaking to the train manager I had better luck and she let me hop aboard one of the casual seats at the back of the bar, which I thought was very nice of her.

And it was just as well too because with the renovations taking place at the Gare du Nord they have moved the taxi rank from just outside the door and now it’s a real marathon trek to the rank. I really was finished long before I reached it.

As luck would have it, the taxi marshal waved me to the front of the queue and I had a really nice and chatty lady driver who drove me to Montparnasse.

There was 33 minutes to wait for the departure of my train so it was just as well that I’d caught the earlier train. I was able to grab a cup of coffee which was also just as well – that’s all that I had to eat or drink on the journey because I’d forgotten my bottle of ginger beer in Alison’s fridge.

The train was packed and we were crammed in like sardines. I managed a brief five minutes of … errr … relaxing, but that was all.

It was on time pulling into the station and I was lucky in that I only had to wait two minutes for the bus to the town centre. And from there I had a horrible, miserable walk to the bus stop at the port for my bus up here.

There’s no kerb there and the buses don’t kneel down very much so climbing in was a real effort. And then climbing up the stairs to here, I just couldn’t do it. In the end I had to take off my backpack and drag it on the floor behind me. I am not ever going to do this journey again.

Back here when I finally arrived I made myself an ice-cold drink and came in here where I crashed out on the chair and that was really that.

Tea tonight was sausage chips and beans (I’ll end up looking like a sausage after this week) and then we had football on the internet – Colwyn Bay v Aberystwyth.

The match was a real bottom-of-the-table shocker that Colwyn Bay won 3-1, and I have to be honest and say that they won’t ever have a victory as easy as that again. After only 40 minutes the commentator said “Mae Aberystwyth yn siomedig” – Aberystwyth are disappointing – and that was aun understatement.

One bright spark for Aberystwyth was that at half-time they brought on a left-back called Akeem Hinds. I hadn’t seen him before. He certainly livened up the team with some good interceptions and some beautiful crosses into the penalty area.

What with Colwyn Bay’s Nigerian forward Udoyen Akpan who has come to the club from Cyprus, here are two players on whom I shall be keeping a very close eye.

Mind you, I said the same about Okera Simmonds who played for Y Fflint last season, and he disappeared without trace. I must be the Kiss of Death.

Surprisingly, despite the short night there were tons of stuff on the dictaphone. I don’t know what was happening here but I was pulling nails and plastic skewers out of my foot. I took one out and it didn’t ‘arf hurt. I just wondered whether that was symbolic of the pains that I’m having in my feet or something at the moment.

The next thing was that the alarm went off so I trued to turn off the dictaphone and tried to turn off a couple of other things. I suddenly realised that it was the phone. I fell out of bed and crawled across the floor to turn off the phone. For some reason my brother wouldn’t leave the bed so the girl with me was wondering what on earth was the matter with him. Suddenly I looked at my watch and saw that it was 01:27. I’d awoken and actually dreamed of the alarm going off.

I was with my mother and brother. We pulled into Paris. We left the train and walked outside the station ready to walk across Paris to the next railway station. There were kids on bikes and scooters having fun in one of the squares. My mother said something like “we need to be careful around here because of all these kids” but they looked fairly harmless to me. For some eason we became separated. My mother and brother went off down one street and I went off down the other. I was sure that I was correct. This road took me to the top of a hill where I could see right over Paris. It looked miles away but the way my mother was going was even further away. I shouted for my mother but couldn’t hear anything so I carried on walking by myself in a field. I shouted again and this time she answered. The fence was quite high and I couldn’t climb it so I had to walk back to where the fence was low and then climb up a bank to go over the top. As I climbed up the bank the top kept falling down and I kept sliding down to the bottom again. This happened several times. In the end there was a vehicle, some kind of army lorry buried in the bank. Suddenly it gave a lurch and rolled over, throwing me onto the floor near where my mother and brother were . They said “quickly, grab that guy …” and mentioned someone’s name “… and he’ll take us”. But I couldn’t see who it was that she meant because I couldn’t see anyone around

I was with my friends from the weekend. We’d just left the train and gone walking. We came across a big bush that was on fire. We tried to stop the fire by stamping it but it burnt me. The fire gradually burnt itself out. All the climbing ivy over this object died so we scraped away some of the ivy and that was a job and a half of its own. We found a woman sitting there. Apparently she was with some kind of Social Services and had come to check up on us to make sure that we were all OK and not up to mischief. Of course we caught her like this.

When we finally did leave the house we ended up at the end of the drive and across the road into the chemist’s, nearly being knocked down by a big old Humber that stopped to let us through. I handed a form to the chemist and said “four dailies”. He said “this isn’t the correct form. Where’s the rest of it? It should be twice this size”. He showed me a full example of a form. The last thing I wanted was an argument so I took the form back and said “just give us four dailies”. She rattled off four dailies. One of my friends went to pay but it was £30 and something. That horrified him but I thought that this job of getting to the station to catch his train was just so complicated that we weren’t ever going to manage this at all at this rate. All we want is four tickets and it was turning into a right pantomime

I was in a butcher’s buying food for tea for about a dozen meals that I needed. He sat down with some huge piles of meat and began to give me things like brains of DH Lawrence etc. I wondered what on earth was going on because I was a vegan and he was giving me all these cuts of meat to eat for my tea

Anyway, I’m off to bed. Shopping tomorrow and I don’t feel at all like it. As I said, I’m not going to be doing this journey again. I just can’t.

Thursday 14th September 2023 – THERE’S GOOD NEWS …

… and there’s bad news.

The bad news today is that the professor came to see me today to tell me that they have tried everything that they have in their armoury and there’s nothing left to try.

Mind you, she did say that she was impressed that I’ve kept going as long as I have. She told me quite frankly that when I turned up there seven and a half years ago for the first time, she was worried that I wouldn’t pull through at all.

Anyway, my sleeping patters are back to where they used to be. I awoke a couple of times during the night and I was fast asleep when the alarm went off.

There had been plenty of little travels during the night. An Asian woman who was the mother of a friend of mine – in fact the mother of a girl whom I knew. I thought that it was a girl whom I knew from school but it could well have been Castor had come down to the road into Tarporley from Chester. She was ever so upset because someone from the school had turned up in an awful panic and said that she hadn’t brought any of the children with her. They were all about to get into her car and be driven here but they all disappeared. None of them actually got in and she couldn’t find them. The mother was distraught. I said that that reminded me of a dream that I’d had ages ago that she had actually turned up with a group of other children at this spot and I went to fetch her but she was with her brother and they all said that they had something else important to do and couldn’t do. They just simply disappeared from the spot where I was standing. I thought that that was an amazing coincidence that I’d had that in a dream and then something almost identical had happened like that in real life.

There’s an interesting story about this girl whom I knew. When she started at school everyone agreed that she would grow up to be a real stunner. Anyway a good few years later I’d been delivering freight to Northern Ireland and was on my way back home and decided to stop off for some fish and chips and a beer.

At Galgate just outside Lancaster was a pub that brewed its own beer and a fish and chip shop next door so I went there. And who was serving behind the bar?

“What are you doing here?” I asked.
3I’m a student at the University and I work here sometimes to earn some cash”.

It goes without saying that every time there was some freight to go north, I’d be the first to volunteer

Coming up to Easter “what plans do you have?”
“I don’t know. I want to go home but I can’t afford the trip”
“Would you like me to come and pick you up?”.

So back at home we went out together for a few times until the famous night that I invited her back to my house. My old black cat was extremely antisocial and always went to hide when people came round but when she walked in, the cat went over, jumped on her lap and settled down
“Ohhh look! Even Tuppence likes her!” I thought

On the way home later I said to the girl “thank you for the lovely evening. I’d be really happy if you’d like to come round again”.
“Yes-s-s-s-s” she stuttered. “But you’ll have to get rid of that cat! I hate cats!”
And the rest, as they say, is history.

With Nerina, Tuppence never stood a chance.
“Ohhh look! A cat!” she said. And she’d bent down and picked up the cat and began to stroke her before Tuppence had even had time to react.
And the rest of that was history too.

Then we were in Nantwich, walking up Welsh Row towards the school. We met a girl whom we knew who was really quite excited, telling us that they’d had a visitor at school, someone really important. It turned out to be the King or Prime Minister, someone handicapped who needed help to move around but was one of the most important men in the Kingdom. He’d been to the field opposite the school

And finally I was having a big chat with a neighbour and a few other people, discussing globalisation and international commerce from an individual’s point of view last night.

There wasn’t long to hang around though because Alison was in a rush. We drove through the fog and mist to the hospital where I had to wait for an age to sign in.

The kidney specialist poked and prodded me as I told him my tale of woe. Not that it did me much good because although he listened quite intently, he didn’t change anything at all.

He did give me a prescription for the next batch of medication – three months of it too. I went and had the prescription made up and I’ve no idea now how I’m going to manage to take everything home with me.

The doctor had sent me off to give a blood test too and to my surprise (and yours too) the nurse had no problems whatever in finding some.

Next stop was the Social Services department. I’d received a bill for treatment which surprised me because there’s a direct billing arrangement with my health insurance provider.

No need to give a blood sample in the afternoon, having given one in the morning.

At the meeting with the doctor though she did the usual bit about asking me all kinds of questions and then doing nothing whatever to change anything that I’m taking. And then the professor came to see me for a chat.

There was some good news too, as I mentioned. The doctor considers that the state of my mobility is now non-existent so she game me a certificate to that effect.

That means that in principle (because insurance companies can be bizarre) I’m entitled to claim my travelling expenses. In other words, while claiming the train is out of the question, I can go by taxi, obtain a receipt and then submit it for review in the hope that someone somewhere will pay it.

Consequently I had a hospital porter push me to the front door in a wheelchair, and then had a nice new Mercedes taxi back to Alison’s house.

Once I was back here I had a little … errr … relax and then slowly began to pack my things.

Tea was more pasta and sausages and now I’m off to bed because I have to raise myself at … errr … 05:15. Alison wants to be on the road by 05:40 at the latest and I have a train at a wayside station at 06:28.

That’s something that I don’t want to miss because I shall be in a rush all day tomorrow.

And I’ll tell you something for nothing – I’ll be glad to be back home and I won’t be doing this again.

Wednesday 13th September 2023 – IT LOOKS AS IF …

… I’m slipping back into my old routine again, as far as sleep goes right now. For the first time for several days I awoke in the middle of the night.

Not only that, I crashed out again in the middle of the afternoon for 20 minutes and it’s been a good few days since I’ve done that – apart, obviously, from when I’ve been exerting myself by going walkabout outside.

Regardless of all of that, I was still wide-awake before the alarm went off, just on the point of putting my feet down onto the floor.

However, it seems that I’ve been going one place backwards yet again. The sofa is quite low and for the first couple of days the only way that I could stand up is by going via a chair. After that, I was able to push myself up from that low position. But today, it was a real struggle.

After Alison had gone to work I spent all of the day sorting out stuff for the next series of radio programmes that will be broadcast in the second half of next year.

Importantly, there are two festivals that have caught my eye. One programme will be broadcast on the anniversary of the first Hawkfest and another one will be broadcast on the anniversary of the 1969 Isle of Wight Festival.

The Hawkfest one is going to be quite interesting.

There are half a dozen groups which, if my listeners and the radio station manager would stomach it, I would broadcast during an entire programme non-stop from start to finish. Hawkwind would be one of them. Unfortunately that’s not really appropriate.

Hidden away in my music collection is a whole pile of esoteric stuff relating to groups who have played at one or other Hawkfest so what I’m going to do is to recreate my own Radio Hawkfest for broadcast on the appropriate anniversary date. That’s one of the things that I’ve been doing today.

The Isle of Wight Festival is a much easier proposition. I’ve found a list of bands, a few set lists and all that kind of thing so a programme like that won’t be too difficult to assemble. Most importantly, I’ve been able to trace quite a few press reports and the like that give interesting facts about the performers and the music that I can add in as appropriate

It’s not easy though, doing all this audio-editing on the laptop. It’s not the most powerful of computers and that was one of the reasons why I bought the monster desktop version. But whatever I can do here, regardless of how long it takes me, means that I have less to do when I finally return home, even if it will be much quicker.

In between everything else I had another wash. Once more in the kitchen because I cant make it up the stairs. This time I remembered to close the blinds in the kitchen before I started so as not to surprise anyone who might be walking down the path of the house next door.

Alison had even found be a bucket so I could give my feet a good scrub. I can’t fit them in the sink and I’m not able to climb onto a chair.

Really? I ask you! What kind of state am I in these days?

There was a lot of stuff on the dictaphone from the night. I’d had a huge row with my family, a really violent argument. In the end I stormed away, climbed into Caliburn and set out to drive away to the family home. I didn’t really want to go home because that was where they’d come looking for me. In the end I parked up somewhere in a field and sat and watched these vehicles driving down the track alongside the river suddenly come to the end and trying all to find ways to drop down into the field. There were things like these old Morris vans, a 3-wheeled version rather like Heinkel bubble-cars but enormous ones that were trying to drop down into this field with 1 or 2 overturning on the way. In the end I set out to walk into town from there. My brother bumped into me and insisted on following me about. While I was in one particular street there was a place advertising Bed and Breakfast. I thought that with it being a Sunday tomorrow I’d go in here and see. It meant climbing down a couple of weird flights of steps to reach the front door but the people came out. They seemed nice and friendly and charged me £30 per night which I thought was reasonable. My brother insisted on hanging around and I couldn’t get rid of him – he just wouldn’t leave me alone. I remember saying that¨£30 per night, I’ll remember this place if I have to come around in this kind of situation again.

And then I had a Ford Cortina that was causing me a few problems. I had it in the garage and was crawling underneath it. I could see that the exhaust was broken. I had to cut off the back box part to have a look to see what was happening. I cut it off and I could see the air filter inside the exhaust. Cecile came down and she was interested in what was happening. I showed her and she went to fetch a friend to show her the air filter. At that moment a girl whom I knew came in. She had a boy with her and they were talking so I thought that I’d go into the kitchen and wash my hands. My mother was in there. We were talking about washing my hands when the phone rang just once then stopped. She had a look and said that it’s Nigel Gregory ringing for your sister to apologise for last night. I said “she’s in the garage with some guy at the moment”. She replied “it won’t take long”. While I was washing everyone came in for tea. We were talking about the exhaust. I said that the exhaust for a 1.6 is cheaper than for a 2.0 so I suppose that we ought to have that, waiting for some kind of comment from Darren. He didn’t actually say anything at the time. Earlier on I’d been in some kind of woodworking class where there was a kind-of bench. I was trying to draw a circle on a piece of OSB with a set of compasses but it was much more complicated that I thought. The people next to me were borrowing my tools and putting them back so I didn’t object too much. They made a comment about my little socket set that I had. I said “just wait until you see the big one that I have in the car”. When I’d drawn my circle to some kind of satisfaction I took a G-clamp and went to clamp it to the bench but there was no threaded rod in it so I had to find another one then clamp it to the bench. I borrowed the wood saw off the guy in the bay next to mine and began to saw away at these marks that I’d made ready to cut the circle out of this OSB

Someone posted a photo of the National League South table pointing out “look how well Torquay were doing” but someone else commented that that was the National League South and it’s the National League here so that photo shouldn’t be posted, which led to some kind of heated debate

Tea tonight was pasta in a cheese and tomato sauce with vegetables and a couple of those delicious vegan sausages. They really were delicious too.

It’s Castle Anthrax tomorrow where they can check up on me and see what this last 4 months has done to me. So I’ll probably go to bed and hope for a good sleep on my comfy sofa. It’s an early start as Alison is dropping me off on her way to work. I’ll have to catch the bus home afterwards though.

It’ll be interesting to see how I’ve been doing after all this time without treatment for my cancer. That might be stable at the moment but the problem is that everything else is breaking down.

It’s for that reason that my trip to Paris will be interesting. Not so much that I’m expecting them to work miracles – it will just be nice to see them try. You never know what might happen.

Thursday 24th August 2023 – REGULAR READERS OF …

… this rubbish will recall that yesterday I had something of a moan about how my Welsh course these days seems to go in cycles – one day good, the next day bad, and vice versa (and if there’s any vice involved, then in the words of the late, great Bob Doney “I’m Your Man”).

And so today we had something of a better day on the course and I was actually quite satisfied for a change.

Mind you, I think that I’ve worked out the reason why this might be.

When I first moved to Belgium 30-odd years ago I would watch the football in Flemish. You don’t need much translation to watch a game of football so you pick up quite quickly a few words and phrases, and gradually you can pick out the individual words even if you don’t understand them.

Since SGORIO won the rights to broadcast the Welsh Premier League on the internet in Welsh, I’ve been watching it quite regularly whenever I can

Throw enough stuff at a blanket and some of it is bound to stick, and I’ve been noticing that after all of this it’s my oral comprehension that seems to be working well enough right now. All I need to do now is to work on everything else.

Like my sleep, for example.

Last night I was in bed at a respectable time and managed (just about) to beat the alarm this morning, which makes a change considering the last couple of weeks.

Once I’d had my medication and checked my mails and messages I spent much of the morning going through and revising. I noticed that on the agenda for today was a quiz about verbs and their conjugations so I made myself a chart to keep handy.

That’s all very well, of course, but having made the chart I’ll probably lose it somewhere now.

As I said just now, the lesson passed well enough today which makes a pleasant change.

During the various pauses I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. I was in a film, a really, really vivid film last night about Armageddon – about how the end of the World was approaching and how everyone had to flee. Some people wouldn’t leave their possessions behind and were all swept away in the holocaust. They basically ended up being just half a dozen people still living in Los Angeles. Everywhere they went, they encountered chaos, queues of traffic stuck there with bodies all over the place how had died. Even after Armageddon and a few people had been saved, there were still some people performing hold-ups etc, people shooting each other until in the end there was just one family. The narrator was saying that in years to come people will ask him how he spent his years . He’ll say that he was just hanging out having a good time and not doing any work at all. His epitaph, he said, would be that in years to come in a Society where people are valued for their work it will be the cleaners and people like that who will be the richest, most wealthy and highest-praised in the land, except of course in the communities where the little old lady do-gooders will be holding sway. That’s how my film finished.

And even though I was asleep I remember that film very well. It really did go on for a good 90 minutes, or so it seemed and I reckon, would have actually made quite a decent film in the style of Neville Shute’s ON THE BEACH. I should really begin to consider a new career

Drifting back into that dream about Los Angeles or San Francisco or wherever again. There had been some kind of race between teenagers or something. When the winners were lined up in the end the guy who’d won went down the line to kiss a few of the people. When he reached one particular young girl he turned round and walked away. Everyone was totally spellbound that he had been so rude. admittedly it was raining and there was no cover where she was standing but it was still quite awful. I was down there doing something with the organisation so after he turned and left I went over to the girl and kissed her and said “never mind, you can have a kiss from me”. There was some comment like “he’s never going to miss the opportunity to kiss a girl when it arises” that brought a smile from her. Then I turned to the guys standing behind her and said “don’t worry, you’re safe. I’ve absolutely no intention whatever of kissing you lot”, something like that, in a light-hearted humorous way

We were in France next, going through a town. There was a kind of drone going through this town on behalf of an estate agent who had several houses advertised here for sale. We all ended up in a Square. I had my bass with me and an amplifier. Someone else had something else. We were waiting for someone to come to meet us but he didn’t turn up. In the meantime there was a flautist there who was waiting for people but they didn’t turn up either so we began to chat. It turned out that he was doing the music for local concerts at some point and had some musicians lined up but they weren’t very reliable so on the spot, we all agreed that we’d perform with him so we went off to an old pavilion by the lake where we could practise. We set up our equipment as best as we could but the place was old, ramshackle and mouse-ridden. I found that i’d forgotten my guitar lead. I had everything else but the guy who was the flautist said “hang on a minute” and went found one for me.

Later on I went back into that dream and had to take all my equipment back to Caliburn which was parked on the square in the snow. Climbing up the steps onto the car park I slipped and fell. A couple of people had to help me up. I had some kind of accessory for the guitar, a tuner or something, and it fell in the water. When I tried to dry it out I broke it. This German who helped me was very kind and considerate but a typical officious German who insisted that he knew best about what needed to be done. Eventually I put all my stuff into Caliburn and walked back across the Square. By now a friend of mine from Munich who had been in the music party was having a beer. I don’t know where my photographer friend from Vancouver, who had also been in there somewhere, had gone so I asked my Munich friend what needed now to be done because I was all for going home. I’d had nothing to eat. There was a Metzgerei at the side of the bar so I was hoping that I could go to fetch some chips or something from there. However my friend was busy drinking and chatting to all his friends and didn’t seem to be too involved in what I was trying to do at that moment.

After the lesson was over I had a try to contact someone in Paris who, I’m told, has a VSL. A VSL or Voiture Sanitaire Leger is the equivalent of a taxi but is equipped to handle ill or disabled people who need transport to and from medical appointments but who aren’t ill enough to need a proper ambulance.

If your doctor thinks that you need one, he’ll give you a bon de transport, a transport voucher, so that you can travel in one free of charge.

The medical specialist whom I saw the other week gave me one so that I could have a VSL from the station in Paris to the hospital and back next week.

However, to cut a long story short, no-one answered the ‘phone so that was that.

Tea tonight was more steamed veg and cheese sauce with a vegan sausage, and that was quite delicious yet again.

Tomorrow I need to pop into town before my lesson and as it’s late right now I won’t have much sleep. But it’s the last day of my course tomorrow and I’ll breathe a sign of relief.

What I can say is that over this last three weeks I’ve certainly learnt a lot. I just hope that I will be able to remember it.

Wednesday 2nd August 2023 – I MANAGED TO KEEP …

… on going this afternoon until about 17:00 before I crashed out. And then it was only for about 10 minutes or so.

That makes a change from how things have been just recently. But there’s no need to crow about it because one swallow doesn’t make a summer, as we all know.

And in any case, even if it were to be the situation, past experience tells us that what goes around comes around and it wouldn’t be too long before we’re back there again.

Mind you, it’s a real surprise that that’s all there was, considering the night that I’d had. Because I’d certainly been around the block, and more than once too. There was some kind of weird dream about cats and football goalkeepers and these wafers that you have on which you spread your food but I can’t remember any of it at all.

Then there was something to do with the town football club that had been playing in Wales. They’d played against three Welsh Premier League clubs and had been beaten comprehensively in each one 4-0. They went on some kind of outing. I was there and took part in it. We had to walk through a really old building. When we reached the far end someone opened the door and there was a very small yard outside. The tour must have stopped at this door but there was no-one about to talk to and we hadn’t actually seen anything. It was one of these dreams where one expects something to happen and you grip the edge of your seat waiting for it yet nothing does. You end up being in some kind of void about it. I was walking without crutches but having some mobility problems.

There was another distressing dream about being in the Southern Hemisphere where the penguins there were being fed live rodents, just tearing these rodents to shreds. The squeals were horrible. In the snow was a strange vehicle that went past. It looked like a tadpole travelling in reverse making a noise as it scrunched past the snow. But it was the squeals of these rodents that were being torn to bits that got me.

We were also talking about these animals that were watching a football match. They somehow managed to escape from the crowd and ran down this narrow footpath through the ice. People chased after them in different cars and machines and so on. One person was on foot and managed to corner them in the kitchen of a house somewhere but they threw some product onto the fire to make an explosion that broke these people’s trains of thought so that they could escape without being noticed

Later on I was back in Crewe. There was a wedding of a membr of our family. I’d no intention of going. My sister was going but there was no-one to do her job. They couldn’t find a replacement at the pub where she worked in Nantwich. I said that I’d go to do it. I prepared myself . That took me much longer than I expected. In the end I set off in this ancient Ford Transit van that was rusting and generally falling to bits. When I reached where I was going to park, an Indian guy came over to ask me what I was doing. I told him. He had a look inside my van and saw tons of stuff lying around. He went round to the passenger side and just with the force of his hands slid down the window from the outside. I shouted at him and told him what I thought. I said “if I come back here and find stuff missing I have a good idea of your face and I’ll call the police about it”. He asked “what would the police do?” as if the police wouldn’t be interested in a case like that. He explained that he owns several properties in the town and rented the rooms out to different people. I replied “God help them!”. Making sure that the van was locked I set out to walk to the pub but bumped into a friend of mine. As we were walking down towards the river bridge in Welsh Row the subject of Charles Hawtrey came up. I explained that I’d once actually met him. He replied “yes he’s a wonderful guy. You’re really lucky. I would really have liked to have met him”. I was thinking that I was already running late . Everything that’s happened since has been to delay me. I’ve no idea what the time is now. I was too afraid to look in case I’d messed the thing up totally and completely.

Finally I was back in Crewe again, this time for the first time in years. I’d gone to help out to work on the taxis. There was a job to pick up at 01:45 from a house. I didn’t recognise the address but someone said that it’s next to a certain pub near Nantwich. I knew where the pub was soo I thought that I could find the house. I set out but the whole entire road layout had changed. New roads had been added. I completely and utterly lost my bearings. In the end I had to retreat to a place that I knew in the centre of Nantwich and walk the way that I would walk 30 years ago. I found out where I’d made a mistake and eventually found my way to this house. I was running ever so late because of all this confusion but it really was bewildering how all of the roads had changed. I didn’t recognise anything.

As you can tell, it took me quite a while to type out all of that. It was quite a voyage last night.

Something else that I had to do was to re-do part of the radio programme that will be broadcast at the weekend.

As you might expect, being so far in advance causes all of its own problems, and we had the usual one that having dictated something along the lines of “and is still performing even now” about a musician, he then duly obliges by shuffling off this mortal coil to go to that Great Gig In The Sky.

It’s all very well being “not frightened of dying – Any time will do, I don’t mind” but I wish they wouldn’t do it a week or so before the programme is to be broadcast.

While the cleaner was here I finished off the notes for the next radio programme and then after she left I turned m attention to the notes for the trip around Canada in 2017.

Right now, I’m coming off the Eagle Plateau and out of the Mealy Mountains down into the valley of the Churchill River where I’ll be heading east and then north to North West River, the furthest north that it’s possible to go by road.

Well in fact, it’s possible to go further north, but not in a continuous drive. Strider and I would have to take a freighter and head north to one of the Mission Stations where the Moravian missionaries attend to the spiritual needs of the Inuit.

That would have been an interesting trip prior to the Influenza epidemic of 1918. There were about a dozen or so Mission Stations but several of them were wiped out and abandoned. There are now just five.

But as for the road, that didn’t go to North West River in the past. Access was by boat and then a cable car across the river.

However, the discovery of a deposit of uranium at Makkovik at the height of the Cold War led to the construction of a road, which reached as far as North West River before the deposit was found to be uneconomic.

The road was thus abandoned and piles of radioactive rock was left lying around causing a health risk to the local inhabitants.

Tea tonight was one of the best that I’ve made. It should have been a leftover curry but I’m saving that for tomorrow because I won’t have much time.

Instead, I had the meal that I promised myself – steamed vegetables in a cheese sauce with a spicy vegan sausage. It really was delicious.

So I’m off to bed, hoping to have a really good sleep. Or if not, a really good voyage. The other night several of my favourite characters came to accompany me and it would be really nice if they were to turn up again.

Friday 14th July 2023 – MY SAUSAGE BEANS AND CHIPS …

… tonight were absolutely excellent, and cheered me up after another miserable night.

And something rather unusual happened last night. I was in the middle of dictating a dream when suddenly there was silence and I then heard myself snoring. But strangely I was only asleep for about 8 minutes according to the timestamp and in that time I went off on another little ramble

That’s something that has never happened before, as far as I’m aware. I’ve gone back to sleep in the middle of dictating something but usually that has been that for quite a while.

All it all it was rather a mobile night and I was flat out when the alarm went off.

After the medication and checking my mails and messages I had a chat with Liz – the first for a while – and then a listen to the dictaphone to unravel my voyages of the night. It was school holidays so we’d all gone down to Kent. We were in the sea just a little way offshore and there was a girl there but I can’t remember any more about it.

We were then discussing the football. In one of these second legs one team had changed its entire back line and gone with a completely different set of defenders and midfielders. While we were discussing it we learned that one of the football managers who’d been on the park a couple of days earlier had died during the night but we didn’t get round to working out which one it was

There was a group of us who had been to Shrewsbury for something, a concert or whatever. We’d met some Ukrainian refugees. At the end we said goodbye to everyone and set out to walk back to London. I was in charge, showing the way. At one point I took the wrong turning at a roundabout and found that we were going back towards the town centre. We had to turn round and walk back the way we’d just come, re-join our tracks and carry on out of the city into the countryside. As we were doing that a couple of people from our party disappeared. We found them in a restaurant on the side of the street where one of these refugee people was with his family. We had a lengthy chat with them. Just as we were leaving the woman took us aside to ask how many there were of us. She counted and there were 7. She said that it’s because her husband and her friend wanted to buy us all a present. We thought that was strange because we hardly knew them but she was completely adamant about it.

At some point in the proceedings my brother was involved. I had to take something to a town in Scotland in the car. The guy told me where to go but when I arrived there was no-one around. A couple of minutes later he rang me again to ask where I was. I told him that I’d been there but didn’t see anyone. I was sitting in the side of this street for quite a while. In the end he agreed to come to find me where I was. he said something about a red engine but what I had in the back of my van was certainly not a red engine. I wondered if I had the correct thing. There was something in this town that I had to take away. I said to my brother “if I end up not dropping off this engine I’ll need someone else to take away this other thing”. He said that he’d do it for the petrol money. I told him to mark down his mileage. Then I had to sit and wait for this person to turn up.

I’d kidnapped a girl and was going to take her back to my camp. We set out to walk back to my camp. She was complaining that her feet were hurting. With my conjuring trick I summoned up some shoes and socks … fell asleep here … we were walking up the side of this motorway but she said that her feet were hurting so I magicked up a pair of suitable shoes and socks that she put on and said that it was so much better

While I was asleep in the middle of that dream I was kitting out an ambulance. There was an attendant who was rather miserable like Goldstein in The Navy Lark who was always moaning. We were kitting out this second ambulance to replace Caliburn. The idea was to take it for an MoT without saying that it’s mine to see whether it makes any difference and then start to arrange all the stuff. We’d be able to put away the stuff but it was all in some kind of haphazard order. I wanted it tidying out but the orderly guy was rather upset. I told him just to get on with it, we’ll do some and he can do the rest. He didn’t like the order in which I was putting stuff in the van but that was a shame, too bad. He made a few comments but I didn’t really take all that much notice about them

There was more to it than that too but you really don’t want to know about it right now, especially if you are eating your meal.

It was just as well that I’d done that homework last night and some revision this morning because in our Welsh lesson we were thrown straight in. We were hard at it all day but even so we didn’t finish the course. We missed out quite a bit.

Still, I don’t suppose that you can have everything.

It’s over now so I have a couple of weeks to forget everything before my month of full-time education begins. That should be fun on Zoom too and I’ll probably be worn to a frazzle by the end of it.

When it was all over I had my hot chocolate and home-made biscuits and then I relaxed somewhat.

In an on-line library I found the diary of Dr Eliot Curwen so I borrowed it for a read.

There was no Government medical service on the Labrador coast until, would you believe, 1982. In 1892 Wilfred Grenfell had come out from the UK as part of the Mission to Deep-Sea Fishermen and he was so appalled by the poverty that he saw that he left the Mission, set up the International Grenfell Association to provide medical care.

Rather than having a hospital to which the people could travel (although there were eventually a couple created) the hospital travelled to the people. It was actually a small steam-boat in which he and his “WOPs” – volunteers who came “with-out pay” – worked up and down the coast

Grenfell was really something of a showman and entertainer and so his published accounts should be interpreted carefully, but Curwen, who came out as a WOP on Grenfell’s second voyage was a naïve, innocent college graduate from a well-heeled background and the distaste and horror of what he saw oozed from every page.

He recounts one occasion where he tried to photograph a family but the father wouldn’t let the children come out of their sod hut. He eventually found the reason – and that was that the children didn’t have one single item of clothing between them.

There’s a story of a father who tramped the countryside for miles trying to find food for his starving family. Returning unsuccessfully, he chased his wife and eldest children away from the house as they could manage independently, killed his three youngest children with an axe and then shot himself.

At roughly the same time as this, Captain William Kennedy, captain of HMS Druid out on Fisheries patrol off the Labrador coast wrote in his autobiography “these poor trampled-down folk, who never see a coin of the realm, are told they are British subjects. It’s an idle mockery. Under the truck system they are ground down and half starved, having often nothing but corn-cake and molasses to eat in the winter, and not sufficient clothing to enable them to withstand the rigorous climate at that season … On our visits round the island, we met with sights enough to sicken us, and make us ashamed to think that these poor creatures were British subjects like ourselves.”

Labrador didn’t become part of Canada until 1949. Prior to that it was a British colony

As I said earlier, tea was delicious. I’m not sure what I’m going to do when I run out of British baked beans because those elsewhere taste totally different. In Canada for example the tins are packed full of corn syrup and taste awful. They aren’t all that much better over here.

Tomorrow I’m shopping, if the weather has improved. It was horrible today with storms, high winds, gusts of rain, just about everything that you don’t really want in mid-July. If necessary I can stay in because I have sufficient to keep me going but I’ll go stir-crazy if I don’t go out.

It reminds me of four years ago when we were on THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR on our Arctic Expedition for 3 months and everyone was developing Cabin Fever by the end of it.

It has to be said that it would have been a much better voyage if a couple of people I could think of hadn’t been on it. But there again, they would probably say the same thing about me.

Saturday 17th June 2023 – I’M REALLY GLAD …

… that I decided in the end to go to Noz while I was out at the shops because I had a lovely tea tonight, and I’ll be having more of the same over the next few days.

Last night though I wasn’t all that sure and I was still undecided when I went to bed. And although it took me just as long as usual to go off to sleep I had a better night’s sleep for once, such as it was.

When the alarm went off this morning I was dead to the world and it was quite a battle to haul myself out of bed before the second alarm went off.

After the medication I caught up with a few bits and pieces and then set off for the shops.

What made me decide to go to Noz was that there was a parking space free right outside the front door so I didn’t have to go far.

And I did well in there today with quite a lot of stuff. Some of those frozen Chinese things that I had a while back, some Kale and Quinoa burgers, a new light fitting for the toilet, and a small pyrex bowl (I’ve been after one of these for a while) smaller than the standard size to fit in the air fryer with room to spare, and some other stuff too.

But pide of place was some more stuff from that German vegan company, such as a bake-it-yourself vegan apple and cinnamon roll and some vegan chocolate ice-cream. So my pudding tonight was marvellous. I’ve given up having dessert but as long as there’s this cinnamon roll and ice-cream I’ll carry on and make an exception.

And there are dramatic new developments at LeClerc. They are now selling vegan cheese of course and have been for a while, and they had some more in the short-date clearance bins too (“had” being the operative word here ‘cos it’s not there now, the ground’s all flat).

But now, even more progress is being made because they are now stocking vegan sausages. Wonders will never cease. We’re definitely being dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st Century here.

Although I have a few packs of vegan sausages in the freezer I bought another one today. Not because I needed it but as a sign of solidarity. It’ll encourage them to keep on stocking them.

But two weeks on the run they’ve had no cheap frozen peas in. Just expensive ones. I think that someone has really been taking the peas over this.

Back here I made my cheese on toast and some nice strong coffee but regrettably crashed out. And crashed out good and proper too. Not once but twice and that’s depressing.

When I’ve not been asleep (which wasn’t often) I’ve been working on my Canada notes, hunting around the cemetery in Cartwright for the grave of Garnett Lethbridge.

The story told around Cartwright is that Lethbridge befriended a young fox-fur farmer called Clarence Birdseye whose farm at Muddy Bay was failing, and taught him a little technique that he’d learnt for freezing his catch of fish when he was out on the ice.

Birdseye took copious notes and when his fox farm failed in 1917 he went back to the USA to develop the technique that Lethbridge had taught him.

Birdseye went on to make millions while Lethbridge caught the flu in 1918 and died in poverty, being buried in a pauper’s grave.

Well, he would have been, except that the pauper objected so he had to have one of his own.

As an aside, in the Census of 1911 there were 49 inhabitants of Cartwright. And 17 people were buried in the cemetery who had died of flu in November 1918.

As another aside, in the period 1911-1921 the population of the island of Newfoundland rose by 8.5%. In the same period in Labrador the population fell from 3949 to 3774 despite a net migration gain of 106 people.

But returning to Lethbridge, his grandfather was an interesting character. He came from Devon and was one of the first settlers on the coast. A tinsmith by trade, he came to Labrador with Hunt and Henley when their salmon-canning factory opened .

When the Hudson’s Bay Company bought out Hunt and Henley’s business they closed down the plant. Lethbridge senior was so incensed that he refused to have any dealings with them and on his deathbed ordered that all of his possessions, including his boat, should be burnt so as not to fall into the hands of the company.

There were exciting times on the Labrador coast all those years ago. I would have been quite at home there.

Especially when you have a close look at the Censuses for that period, and two columns that caught my eye. The enumerators had to record the number of people who were “crazy or lunatic” or “idiotic or silly”. And I’m sure that you think that I’m making this up.

There was also time to go through the dictaphone and see what happened during the night. There was something going on in Guildford to do with some wrestler’s wife who was going to take on some kind of role in running the town and maybe going to be given the keys to the treasury. That led to some kind of scandal. Members of the council ended up being impeached. As a result of a huge press campaign coverage it never happened but there was a little more contentious issues of a similar nature somewhere else in the vicinity too that attracted a lot of attention

Later on a group of us had been out somewhere in Germany on a tram. We’d been out and had to catch this tram. The tran station was absolutely heaving. When the tram pulled in we had to fight to board. Everyone was on one side of the track but we noticed that it was a single track and there was a platform on the other side. When the tram pulled in we swung round the other side where there were fewer people and swarmed aboard. We managed to grab a seat. It was an extremely uncomfortable seat but we managed it all the same. At some point we alighted. There had been some issues about the railway line. We’d been cutting up these railway lines. We suddenly realised that we’d cut the railway line for the tram. We were sitting here with this big square-profile length of wood like a chevron or a demi-chevron or something. We suddenly realised that this was our tram. A couple that had gone past weren’t actually ours. They were much smaller anyway. We eventually ended up back at home, or at least I did. Something had happened and the washing machine hadn’t been put back in the right place. There was some coffee in the pot so I poured it. It was cold. I went to put it in the microwave. I thought that I would have to move the washing machine before I go. I wondered how I was actually going to do it. I suddenly had this eerie feeling that here I am in the house, the doors are open and there’s coffee around but there isn’t anyone. There should be people so why aren’t there any people? It was really weird, all this, about what was actually happening in this house.

Tea was a salad and chips and something that I found in the freezer that had been in there since the Dawn of Time. “Surely not very old” I hear you say. “Well, geologically speaking, I suppose not” I reply. And followed my a bit of the cinnamon roll and ice cream.

Tomorrow is Sunday so I’m having a lie-in. And I have to make some pizza dough too because I’ve run out. The big question is whether there’s enough room in the freezer to store the excess, but I’ll worry about that at the appropriate moment.

Right now I have other fish to fry, like a nice warm bed.

Friday 9th June 2023 – I HAVEN’T ‘ARF …

… done a lot today. And I don’t know where all this energy has come from.

It certainly didn’t come from any rest that I might have had because I didn’t have very much of that. I spent most of the night tossing and turning and trying to make myself comfortable

Even worse, there was nothing on the dictaphone. That was really disappointing. As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I have said in the past … “and on more than one occasion too” – ed … that what goes on during the night is usually much more exciting than anything that ever happens to me during the day.

However, when the alarm went off I was deep in the depths of sleep and once more, it took quite an effort to raise myself from the dead.

After the meds and checking the mails and messages I sat down to work.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, Friday is usually the day that I walk into town for a little shopping. But not today because I really didn’t feel very much at all like it.

So what have I been doing today then?

I’ve been in Newfoundland again on my Canada 2017 journey. This morning I was hunting down stuff about the first commercial transatlantic flights with the Sikorsky S42; Boeing 314 Clipper and the Short Empire flying boats.

And then discussing the submarine and aircraft battles off the coast of Newfoundland and in the Gulf of St Lawrence.

Another name cropped up too – that of Sidney Cotton, inventor of the Sidcot flying suit in World War I and the guy who was responsible for the first aerial surveys of Newfoundland.

And in the late 1930s when he was joyriding in his aeroplane over Central Europe with his succession of teenage female “friends”, it transpired when Frederick Winterbottom published the memoirs of MI6 in 1974 that Cotton was secretly taking aerial photographs of every German military installation he could find.

As an aside, Winterbottom’s book is one of the most interesting that i’ve ever read. It was he who told the world about Turing and Ultra, and explained that the reason why its existence was never disclosed until then was that one country, believed to be Albania, was still using it thinking that it was unbreakable.

This afternoon I’ve been clambering over the wreckage of a 440-tonne steamer in the Strait of Belle Isle. There are plenty of wrecks along that coast and on our travels we’ve seen plenty.

They could never take away the scrap because there were no roads in that part of the world until comparatively recently. Newfoundland and Labrador didn’t actually become part of Canada until 1949. Prior to that they were a British colony and starved of resources just like any other colony.

The most interesting wreck on that coast that we saw though is that of HMS Raleigh. That was a cruiser that ran aground at Point Amour in 1922 and sat on the rocks for 4 years as a hazard. In the end they decided to remove it by force and calculated how much explosive they would need to break it into pieces and remove it by sea.

However they forgot about the ammunition still on board and as a result there are bits of her scattered all over the cliffs and the grass on top

That was where I met that lady who looked at the car I’d come in and asked me“have you just driven around the Trans-Labrador Highway in THA?”

And I replied “It’s not the car that counts, it’s the driver. And for my next journey I’m going to cross the Atlantic on a motor bike.”

However, as Kenneth Williams and Alfred Hitchcock will tell you, “it’s a waste of time telling jokes to foreigners”.

The physiotherapist came to see me this afternoon. He’s spoken to the nerve specialist whom I’m to see in a few days time. And it is as I suspected – that the problems are more-than-likely caused by the cancer that is slowly eating its way through my body and there’s not much that anyone can do about it.

And so I’ll just have to grin and bear it

Tea tonight was sausage, beans and chips. And what started that off was when I was going through my notes about Canada 2017, I spent that particular night in a wooden hut on a hillside where there was a microwave, and I had some potatoes, sausage and beans in the back of Strider to I treated myself. And that set my mouth a-watering.

Most of that trip was spent with the slow cooker and porridge for breakfast, whatever I could find for lunch, and pasta, a tin of mixed vey and a tin of soup also in the slow cooker in the evening. Slow cookers don’t draw much current so an inverter wired into Strider’s alternator heated up the cooker when needed.

Tomorrow I’m going to be brave, even though I don’t feel like it, and go to see what is about in the shops. I’ll just go to LeClerc I reckon, not to Noz as I don’t want to fall over on the car park again.

And then I’ll carry on with my notes. If I keep going like this I should be across the Strait of Belle Isle on the elderly MV Apollo, which is now beneath the waves in the Gulf of St Lawrence, but I’ll be somewhere up the coast of Labrador.

If I’m lucky

Friday 12th May 2023 – AS BARRY HAY …

… once famously said – “What else can I say except IT’S ALWAYS GOOD TO BE BACK HOME

As I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … out of all of the places where I have ever lived, the only place where I’ve ever experienced homesickness when I’ve been away is this beautiful building here with the spectacular scenery and wonderful neighbours.

Mind you, it was a struggle to get back here. having crowed so lustily about the outward trip, the return was nothing like the same.

It always seems to be at railway stations where it all seems to go wrong, as witness my rather dramatic and spectacular fall on a railway station in Montreal in October.

And so it was today. To pass through the automatic barriers at the Metro at the Gare du Nord in Paris you have to move smartly. I wasn’t smart enough and ended up being trapped as the barriers closed between me and my backpack. It took the combined efforts of three passers-by to free me from my trap.

And the struggle was clearly far too much for me because I had another bad fall straight away afterwards, and a couple of people had to pick me up because I couldn’t pick myself up.

One of the guys was going my way so he took my backpack and helped me onto the Metro as far as Montparnasse. Ahh well.

As usual, when I have a reason to leave the bed, I have a fitful restless night. And so it was last night. But when the alarm went off at 06:25 I was up quite quickly.

Once I’d packed, I was down to the railway station and as usual with the SNCB it was an antediluvian AM80 that came in this morning and I have all kinds of difficulties climbing into one of those. And climbing out at Gare du Midi in Brussels too.

The TGV was already in but they wouldn’t let us board for ages. And we had a “security issue” that delayed the loading even more.

The train did however set off on time and I spent the journey doing some research for my High Arctic photos of 2019. And you have to admire the naming conventions of James Rae as he roamed around the High Arctic explaining his reasons for the names that he gave to the geographical features that he encountered, such as, for example, Bence Jones Island in the Rae Strait “after the distinguished medical man and analytical chemist of that name, to whose kindness I and my party were much indebted for having proposed the use of, and prepared, some extract of tea for the expedition.’”.

One of the Inuit ladies I encountered on Devon Island gave me some of her native Labrador Tea to try. I shall probably have to name my new apartment after her because the tea was “much enjoyed”. She was so pleased that I enjoyed it that she performed a drum dance for STRAWBERRY MOOSE and I’m sure that you think that I’m making this up.

At the Gare du Nord I had my “issues” but with an aching leg and wounded pride I made it down the Rue du Départ to Montparnasse and my train without encountering anyone I know. And with catching a later train out of Brussels this morning I didn’t have long to wait.

The train was acually half-empty but for some reason they had me sharing a seat with someone. But once I was sure that evryone who was on was on, I went across the gangway and had a seat all to myself.

At Granville we pulled into one of the older platforms that the Caen-Rennes diesels use and with our train being higher you’ve no idea the struggle that I had to exit the train.

The leg is definitely weakened though because hauling myself into Caliburn was a struggle and I was back to how I was in January without the force to press the brake pedal properly. As I’ve said before, each time that I have a fall, it takes longer and longer to recover.

back here I made a nice strong coffee and came in here to collapse in a chair, from where I didn’t move for hours.

Earlier on, I mentioned my restless night. Tons of stuff on the dictaphone to prove it too. I’d bought a property last night. I’d paid a lot of money for it but I could afford it. It was in rural Normandy somewhere. We were discussing plans to move into it etc but I wanted to have a closer look at what was involved. I managed to dig up an old sale brochure for it from years ago where there was a house, an annexe and a Plaxton Embassy-bodied coach that had been converted into a race car transporter with some kind of car that had been modified for racing. There was a big garage and workshop area. I thought that this was absolutely fine if I could find someone else to come to share it with me. We’d be away with all of this if it turns out to be the same kind of place.

Someone wanted a letter posting but for various reasons they weren’t able to do it. They asked me if I would go. After much persuasion I went on the pushbike. The first thing that I noticed was that there were no brakes on it. I thought that I’d be really running a risk going all the way to the post box particularly as I’d have to cycle through Crewe town centre. But cycle I did, nearly knocking people over, taking wide turns and nearly ending up on the wrong side of the traffic island. I eventually reached the cinema which was absolutely packed because there was an extremely controversial film being shown. There were 2 pillar poxes outside, one of which had a stamp machine attached. I didn’t know which pillar box to put the letter because the time of the collections was exactly the same. It looked as if they were both receiving the correct attention. In the end I simply put it in the newer one of the two.

And then I was in a fast-food restaurant last night in the USA. I tool a banana. There was a guy there mopping the floor. He took three bananas and put them on the scales with mine. I told him to clear off and it led to a strange argument where he insisted that I was paying for his bananas. The clerk behind the counter also thought that I was. We had something of an argument for about 5 minutes. In the end I took my banana off the scales, pout $0:60 down on the countertop and began to walk away. That ended up into another discussion that turned out to be much more friendly and I’d no idea why. We ended up talking about shift rotas etc. The cashier showed me how her shift rota worked and how she had to change a few things round. I bet that you’re really enjoying these exciting moments.

We were working on something for the radio. We needed a troupe of dancing children. We recruited a couple of kids whom we knew but we were short on numbers. I went past a sports field and there was a group of kids there. There were two who were controlling the crowd and dancing in time to some music that was going on in the background, a boy and a girl. They looked quite good so I thought that I’d go over to talk to them. I went over and said “hello”. They replied “we aren’t allowed to talk to strange men” … “obviously your reputation is spreading wider than you realise” – ed … “and there’s no teacher here at the moment”. I said “no problem. The headmaster knows me from something else so I’ll give you a note, you can give it to him and he’ll decide what to do”. The idea was to write a little note to the headmaster say what was happening and take the matter from there. Going through my pockets, first of all I couldn’t find a pen. I asked if anyone had a pen. One of the people standing around, I could see that he had some pens in this top pocket but he didn’t volunteer. Eventually I borrowed one from someone but then I couldn’t find any paper on which to write. I thought “here I am snatching defeat from the jaws of victory yet again!”.

Finally I wanted a new ladder so I was going to go to the DiY shop. Half a dozen people said that they wanted things so we all piled into my van and went. I bought my ladder and a couple of things. Someone else bought a roof ladder etc. Then I had to go to pay for it. Then we’d all go to sit in someone’s car. There were quite a few people crowded around in cars and it was really cramped. I told the driver to pull down the road and stop. I had to pay with a credit card. he said “ohh not another credit card”. I replied that it’s far better walking around the streets with a credit card than a wad of cash. I was about to give him a few other good reasons but the guy in the back began to be annoyed because we were driving through an area full of local police. For some reason he didn’t want to involve them. The guy in this car wasn’t going to stop. It looked as if he was going to take me all the way home to drop off this ladder and for me to pay him. Then of course I had to return to pick up everyone else and pick up Caliburn. I thought “for just a simple ladder, this is something else that’s becoming extremely complicated” and that wouldn’t be a first time, would it?

Tea was sausage chips and beans – some of the vegan sausages that I’d bought in Jersey and beans with vegan cheese now that I’ve found a reliable and hopefully constant source.

But I dunno about going to bed because as usual after all of this effort I can’t relax. Back in the old days when I was stressed out after chauffeuring around Brussels I’d go for a long run around the area where I lived. These days though I couldn’t even run for my life.

Friday 31st March 2023 – MY SAUSAGE …

… chips and beans for tea was delicious. Now that I have some melting vegan cheese, and more importantly, now I know where I can find some more without any effort, I added some cheese to the beans while they were cooking and that made an impressive difference.

The air fryer struck again. Cooked my sausage and chips to perfection. And later on, seeing as I found some more frozen apple pie in the freezer, it defrosted and crisped up my slice of apple pie.

And rummaging around in my box of cooking accessories, I found a shallow porcelain pie dish tested for use in the oven that fits nicely in the basket of the air fryer.

Things are looking up!

There are several other things that also seem to be looking up too.

Firstly, I had another better night of sleep. I was late going to bed and it was a real struggle to awaken but I even managed to beat the first alarm this morning, never mind the second one.

That’s a surprise in itself because although it wasn’t anything as like as restless as it has been in the recent past, I still put in a god few miles while I was asleep. The subject of Lonnie Donegan came up in a discussion between me and several other people. It brought out the fact that after he’d finished with a musical career he’d gone into the motor trade. He’d bought a ruined garage somewhere and had started to work from it. I was hoping that there might have been something going here for me but no-one said anything so I made a few enquiries of my own. I was pointed in the direction of where he might be. I turned up there and it was an ice speedway race taking place on an ice rink somewhere in south London. He was actually racing in it and won, which of course cheered everyone. Then there was something about music. One of the guys in it was called Kenny Driscoll whom I know from “Lone Star”. We were talking about some kind of jazz group that was involving him and someone else well-known was looking for an over-dub guitarist for making albums of the live concerts they were doing

There was something else involving music but I can’t remember very much of this except that it involved some kind of guitarist who was fleeing from justice. They had him surrounded. It went on from there but I can’t remember very much but one of the tracks on the album that he was recording was called “A State of Bohemia”. Someone interpreted it to mean that they were living some kind of uncomplicated life. It was really quite funny because they didn’t know, although most people did, that Bohemia was the name of an ancient State in Central Europe now part of the Czech Republic (and I’m impressed that I knew that in the middle of a dream) but there is lots more to this dream than this but I can’t remember it

And then I was driving taxis in a new town last night. It was a town about which Nerina or whoever the woman with me was knew something about. She showed me a couple of places that she had visited when she was at University there. We had a new driver starting as well. We gave him a run-down of what to do and what we expected of him then we set off. The first job was that we were going to the same place but picking up from different places so we met up and went together in the end. This person paid for both taxis. It came to £2:50, £1:10 for me and £1:40 for him. It had to be split up but for some unknown reason the maths were extremely complicated. I was scratching my head about this because I knew the answer straight away but I didn’t want to say it in case everyone thought that I was trying to cheat someone. We were talking about whether we’d be busy or not but on the way into dropping off these passengers we’d seen queues at almost every taxi rank so we expected that we would have a really busy night. For some reason I wans’t in the mood to be busy. It was very difificult when there were just 2 of you and one was a new driver.

Something else occurred as well. The place was untidy so I asked the family if they would halp me tidy it. One thing was an enormous pile of books with books all over the floor. Their response was a quote from Churchill about “you should find books everywhere in a house and that’s a good sign if there are”. I thought that that was typical with no-one coming round to help me out.

Finally I was out last night somewhere in the Home Counties. There was a group of people who had gone to meet someone. They had an Avengers-like plot trying different pulls on them to see which was the most efficacious in killing them. They lured someone down to a quiet remote cul-de-sac in the countryside. They person whom they were supposed to be meeting wasn’t there so he stopped a passer-by who happened to be one of these secret agents who planted this thing on him and gave him directions as to where he ought to ben which of course were false. He set off with the idea that he’d die. I’d observed this so I wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible. I got into my red Cortina estate and reversed out of the side street. I hadn’t noticed this traffic island. The rear of the vehicle went up on it and stuck so I gave it some extra revs to take me right over. There was a car coming behind me, one of these horrible yellowy-green 1100s. I hit it and said “oh God! Here we go again”. I pulled up on the side of the road to go to talk to the guy but he just turned his car round and drove away. I wondered what to do next – do I sit there and wait for the police or wait for him to come back or do I go and risk being prosecuted for driving away from an accident. I really had no idea.

So Nerina was there last night, but also so were members of my family (well, Nerina is a member of my family too but you know what I mean). It’s been a good few days since TOTGA and Zero have put in an appearance and my other favourite girl, Castor, seems to have dropped off the radar now. She’s not been around for ages.

It all reminds me of “I’ve been having bad dreams
Well maybe tomorrow when I’m hungry baby
I’d beg for you, what’d I say steal and borrow
Would you help me
Really help me, really help me
To run down the road
Would you be with me”

But not even STEVE MARRIOTT can conjure up Zero, Castor and TOTGA for me.

Anyway, nostalgia ain’t what it used to be, so live for the present!

After the medication and checking my mails and messages it took me a good while for me to come to my senses and once I’d had a rather later-than-usual mid-morning coffee I started work.

First thing to do was to pay the property taxes on my place in Canada. I had high hopes for that piece of land, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall and was out there getting quotes for log cabins and the like, only to be struck down by a thunderbolt back in late 2015.

The fact that I’m still going is a tribute to the medical staff at Leuven but how I would have loved not to have had to involve them in my projects.

Wouldn’t things have been different? But then I wouldn’t have made it to the Arctic and I wouldn’t have met the Vanilla Queen (who dropped off the radar a long time ago) and Castor.

Second thing was to pay my cleaner. I also had to leave her my niece’s details for when I’m in hospital if the necessity should ever arise. And of course I have a different phone to the one that I used to take with me to Canada so I had to hunt down all of the details and check with her that they were still correct.

During one of the pauses I had a shower too. The physiotherapist was to come round this afternoon and I wanted to be nice and clean for him. And climbing into the bath to take a shower is no longer an issue, which is good news. This physiotherapy is working.

The rest of the day has been spent writing notes for the radio programmes, which are now all done, writing out the details of my trips during the night, and also converting and remixing a couple of soundfiles that I tracked down the other day.

A little earlier I mentioned that there were a couple of other things that seem to be looking up. The second one is that the physiotherapist is as pleased with my improvement as I am and reckons that he can see a time when I’ll no longer need the therapy.

That’s not to say that I’ll be cured, of course. What he means is that if I keep up the exercises as I seem to be doing, then I won’t need him to supervise me.

He’s given me a few more exercises to do and a list of things that I need to buy at the sports shop tomorrow. And as of next week he’s only going to come once a week, Friday morning, to check on my progress.

That’s interesting, to say the least.

Tea was delicious as I said just now, and the apple pie with soya cream finished it off nicely. One more slice of pie left, as far as I could see, so that will bite the dust tomorrow.

While we’re on the subject of tomorrow … “well, one of us is” – ed … I’m out shopping if the wind has died down. It reached 110kph this morning but hopefully it will blow itself out at some point.

That’ll be something for me to think about while I’m in bed, and I’m going off there right now. Goodnight.

Thursday 9th March 2023 – MY LITTLE WALK …

… into town today seemed to go even better and I felt much more like my old self.

That’s not to say that I was feeling cured and that I no longer had the issue with my legs because that’s a feeling that’s not going away, but I was feeling a lot more enthusiastic and I was moving about rather easier.

During the night I was moving about too – a lot more than I would normally have liked and as a result it was another one of these bad nights, of which I’ve been having far too many just recently.

To my dismay, there was nothing on the dictaphone either from during the night. Dismay for two reasons – firstly it means that I didn’t sleep all that well and secondly that nothing – or no-one of any interest – occurred and as I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … what usually happens during the night is much more exciting than whatever happens to me during the day.

After I’d organised myself I had to sort out all of the medication that I’d bought yesterday. That’s not as easy as it might be because, as I said yesterday, some of the trade names are different and it involves some detective work in order to figure out which is which.

Following that, I set off down the hill into town and I bowled along rather somewhat, at least, considering how I’ve been in the recent past, and it was quite a pleasant walk despite the crutches.

At the chemist’s I picked up the medication that they had had to order for me and then I went down the road to the Post Office. I’m running out of prepaid envelopes so I needed another supply. I don’t use them all that often but when I do, I never seem to be able to find any.

The walk back was somewhat breathtaking, and for obvious reasons too. I’m still having breathing issues but for the last few months I’ve never been in a position to notice, not being able to move around as I did before. So the fact that today I was feeling out of breath is a small improvement all on its own

Back here I had breakfast – some coffee with another one of my delicious fruit buns. I’d been out all told for 75 minutes which is rather disappointing because in the old days I could be in town and back in 20 minutes. But the fact that I actually made it out and back again is something of an achievement.

The rest of the day has been spent writing up the notes for the music that I chose yesterday, and then choosing some more music for a subsequent radio programme. And when that particular programme will be broadcast it will contain a song that I know for definite has never been broadcast anywhere else on any other radio programme.

Liz was on line later on so we had a lengthy chat. She showed me a video of the snowfall in her back garden and it looked quite impressive.

For tea tonight I had a meal that I haven’t made for an absolute age – steamed vegetables and a large vegan sausage all smothered in a beautiful vegan cheese sauce. It really was nice.

But now I’ve run out of frozen cauliflower so I’ll have to buy another batch, unless I can find some fresh cauliflower to blanch and freeze.

But one thing is certain – and that is that when I do finally move house, I’m going to buy a bigger fridge with a freezer so that I’ll have much more room to store stuff.

Tomorrow the physiotherapist will be coming round but that’s all that I have planned. They are talking about a storm and hurricane tomorrow but if it doesn’t arrive I might go out for a walk.

Now that I’m feeling a little more human I need to push on. It looks as if walking around is making me feel a little better so I need to keep it up.

Friday 20th January 2023 – THAT’S PUT SOMETHING …

… of a hole in my bank account this afternoon.

And that’s just the start of things too. It’ll get much worse than this over the course of the next couple of months.

But that’s for some other time. There are many more things that are much more important going on right now.

Like yet again, I had a lot of trouble struggling out of bed again. Not as late as it has been sometimes just recently, but later than I would have liked.

And I couldn’t hang around too long because I had a taxi coming for me. Thanks to the doctor who issued me with a travel voucher, I had a free taxi this morning to and from this nerve specialist person with whom I had an appointment.

He didn’t give me the electric examination that was organised – he was much more interested in testing my reflexes with some kind of vibrating tuning fork. And sure enough, while I could feel the vibrations in the left leg, I felt nothing at all in the right leg. He seems to think that a hospital intervention might be needed, and so he’s called me back next Friday evening for a full examination and he’ll write an appropriate report.

And, as you might expect, I don’t like the sound of this at all. However, if it means that I might actually be able to regain some of my mobility it might well be worth the suffering.

While I was waiting for my lift back home, one of my neighbours drove past. he stopped for a chat and later on sent me a copy of an interview that a friend of his had carried out with the late lamented David Crosby. That will come in handy for something or other.

Back here I had a nice strong coffee and then had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. As for my first little voyage, you really don’t want to know about it, especially if you are eating your tea right now.

Later on Cardiff City had been relegated to the Welsh 2nd Division. They were playing at home for the 1st match so I went along to see. They had a new entrance to their front of the ground like an archway through into a park. We walked past there and round the top at the end of these houses then back down behind the houses to the pitch. It was basically being played on a public park that was full of timber that had been felled so the game was extremely bizarre watching them playing the ball and trying not to hit these piles of timber. I ended up chatting there to a guy who was telling me about everything that was wrong with Cardiff City and why they were relegated. He could see that they were pleying quite well but lacked any kind of enthusiasm. He said that it was something that the captain needed to organise to bring some enthusiasm and energy into the team.

And then I was in Lesotho of all places with an African guy who was driving some kind of small lorry. We were driving through this mountain pass and came to a small village. There was a policeman there who stepped out in front and stopped the vehicle. It turned out that he only had a 5-figure number on his vehicle which meant that it hadn’t had an overhaul in 5 years so the policeman decided to examine it. I was intrigued by this situation never having seen this kind of thing before. I was asking the policeman all kinds of information about what he was doing and the reasons. Eventually he waved on this guy to drive and I followed on behind on foot. As we came close to a big city I lost him in the traffic. I ended up walking into the centre of town through these parks etc trying to check my internet. One thing that I wanted to do was to log in while I was here so that everyone would know where I was but for some unknown reason the logging-in system on the mobile phone wasn’t working. Apparenty I read somewhere that not every country had adopted this system, which was probably why. Lesotho was one of them. I had to just wander around to try to find a quiet place where I wouldn’t be overlooked and disturbed and have a think about how I was going to do this.

This afternoon I had to go into town. The Belgian Government pays my Belgian Old-Age pension by cheque. And although it might only be €34:00 per month, it’s still something that I can spend and one of the cheques was about to run out of time. Luckily, the bus stops right outside my door here so I don’t have to walk far at all to catch it once I can get downstairs.

The walk at the other end though is quite long and I was interested to see how I would manage on my crutches. It was slow and laborious but I made it in the end and I paid in my cheques. So spend! Spend! Spend!

On the way, I bumped into the homeless guy who wanders around the town and we had a good chat. It’s been quite a while since I’ve seen him so we had a lot of things to say to each other.

But back at the bank, I had another reason to be there. I have a project on the go at the moment as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, and this is the moment to put my hand in my pocket. And how long do you think that it takes to transfer money from my savings account to my current account and then to make a bank transfer?

Back here at home on the internet I could do it in a couple of minutes but there’s a delay of a few days if I do that. The transfer needs to be done “on the spot” and done correctly too so I wanted the bank to do it and it took over an hour. And then the bank clerk forgot to give me back my card.

Once I’d recovered my card I went to the Carrefour in the town and did a bit of shopping. Mushrooms for the pizza and the stuffing, some salad and a couple of other things. Much as I would like to buy more, I can’t actually carry it. And if I take my wheeled trolley I can’t use my crutches so I can’t walk very well.

With having been so long at the bank I had a long wait at the bus stop for the bus back home. It was crowded too but I found a seat so I had a comfortable ride.

Back here I made a hot chocolate and then regrettably I crashed out – and for quite a while too. The walk to the bank must have worn me out but at least I have one less thing to worry about.

Tea tonight was my sausage, beans and chips and it was delicious. I really do like my air fryer although I feel that I ought to be doing more with it than I actually do. I shall have to find a recipe book from somewhere to see what vegan meals I can conjure up. There has to be something going on somewhere

So tomorrow I don’t have anything organised that needs doing so I can catch up with the radio programme that I’ve been trying to do for several days. What I can do, I suppose, is to prowl around in cyberspace and see what I need to make things more comfortable for me.

But having spent more today in one swell foop than I have ever spent of my own money in one day than I have spent for some considerable time and with plenty more to go out as well, I don’t know whether I’ll be able to afford anything else.