Category Archives: leefdaal

Thursday 10th March 2022 – THAT WAS THE …

… quickest “in and out” that I’ve ever had from a doctor at Castle Anthrax.

She asked me how I was, If I’d been ill, if I had any pains and if I had any tingling in my fingers

She then poked and prodded me about , asked me for my medication requirements and that was that. She cleared off.

And I made a mental note never to drink any strong ginger beer just before I’m due to be poked and prodded about.

Last night I was in bed early and with no alarm I was hoping to have a really good sleep but it didn’t quite work out like that. One look at the list if files on the dictaphone will confirm that.

There was some kind of competition going on with these Chinese girls. We had to pick 5 of them so I picked my 5 and they should have been packed in a cardboard box wrapped in tissue. But one of them burst into tears so I asked her why she was so upset. She said that it was because I knew nothing about her life prior to this competition and it was dreadful. I asked why she doesn’t simply tell me about it. The quicker she tells me, the quicker we can solve the problem. But she was extremely reluctant to do so and we had fits of tears and hysterics and all kinds of things but she still wouldn’t explain the issue. In the meantime there were other people choosing one of their 5 girls to marry and I was desperately wanting to marry this particular one but with all of this going on she wouldn’t let me get close enough to her to take hold of her.

Later on I was back here again. By now all of the prizes had been given. One of my friends of 19 had carried off loads of prizes but he still wasn’t given this ideal couple or this female couple or exciting couple. It seems that most of his girlfriends …. (fell asleep) … give half a chance I’d go back but she had to be willing to … (fell asleep) …

Meanwhile, it was all about this girl being sent off. One of the others had been sent off too. They had been disguised as something or other and positioned in between the window and the attackers to prevent the attackers from becoming too close. That’s all there was to this mystery and it was ever such a disappointment when I found out that it was simply that.

Nerina and I had this huge pile of money. I’ve no idea where it came from – I can’t remember. We were driving around Crewe (although it wasn’t Crewe and it wasn’t Brussels either although it might have been) trying to find a bank that was open. We ended up down all kinds of back streets looking for all kinds of obscure and offbeat banks. In the end we couldn’t find anything at all. We decided instead that we would go to Bonn because there would be bound to be something there. We ended up sitting at a table with a couple of people whom I knew from the EU (although I didn’t). One of them had a horribly disfigured face. We were talking. One of the people was quite a senior person and the subject of finance came up so I told them the French stein joke which of course made everyone laugh but I had to explain it to the guy with the disfigured face. They thought that Bonn was an excellent idea so we were planning on setting off. At one point we found a side street where I knew there was a bank and I tried to park with 2 feet on the kerb and 2 on the road to let cars go past although there wouldn’t be many cars going this way. There were bollards in the way and of course some car came down and couldn’t go past so I had to drive round again but that was through Brussels or wherever it was before we’d gone to this bar to meet these people

I’m not sure if I’ve dictated this I haven’t) but I was with someone called Allota Fagina, the Austin Powers character. We were going somewhere (that I couldn’t identify from the dictaphone) … old house that was derelict and part of it was falling down. In front of it was a new house. There were several old cars parked there including tow old early Austin A45s that had identical number plates ONA432. She asked whose it was so I said that the one that had fallen down was the one where Austin Powers’ grandparents lived, the one that is standing still is where his parents live and the new one at the front is where he lives. We carried on and all met up at the end of the street for a chat. In the meantime there had been a TV crew so there were lots of people and lots of reporters. They had actually filmed part of this trip and they’d filmed the arrival at his parents’ house where someone had been there and wanted the film crew to record his children because they weren’t going on any further to the end. There were several reporters dotted along the street to ask the questions and the TV crew picked up one of them and it was someone whom we knew. They asked her some questions to which she gave some very nebulous answers

I forgot to mention that at one point Austin Powers’ grandfather had disappeared. When they asked where he was, he’d actually gone off – he fancied a chicken to eat so he’d actually gone off hunting a chicken. Someone was saying that this was his current mode of life and interest hunting his food for his tea

Then we had a dispute between two neighbours. One neighbour had moved in and the one who had been there the longer tried to lay the law down to him but that hadn’t worked and there had been some kind of confrontation between them that had left the long-living neighbour in a bad light. He’d found out a few things about the new arrival that he was repairing a boat down at the bottom of his garden so he called the Council’s Enforcement Officer over to make a formal complaint. The new neighbour had caught them both discussing it and it was quite obvious that this was going to lead to a major confrontation between the two

And when someone (the nurse, in fact) telephoned me at 08:30 to ask if he could come round and inject me, that was that. Of course, there’s no danger of the nurse coming to see me here in Leuven. He’ll be back round to see me on Monday morning.

After breakfast I washed my clothes and had a shower, and then spent the rest of the morning working on choosing the music for the next series of radio programmes.

Having made my sandwiches I set off for the hospital, stopping off at Origin’O on the way. Alison had forgotten that I was coming so I had to buy some vegan food for tea.

And it’s not Origin’O now anyway – it’s changed hands. It’s now called something else whose name I have forgotten. But there’s only half the range of products and the prices have increased somewhat dramatically too.

If this is how it’s going to be, I can see yet another vegan food shop being crossed off my list.

cleaning balcony with cherry picker mural brusselsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo March 2022On the way to the hospital this mural on the end of a café in the Brusselsestraat caught my eye – “Progress in your own fashion”.

Normally, I don’t feature any advertising on my pages unless I’m having a share of the profits but I thought that I’d include it because first of all it really is new and secondly, it really is an eye-catching piece of art that must have taken a great deal of effort to complete.

There was also a cherry-picker there too and at first I thought that it was something to do with the mural but it looks as if those men on there are cleaning the windows of that building next door. Although why they need a cherry-picker and why the can’t do it from the inside by tilting the windows over is beyond me.

building facade kapucijnenvoer Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo March 2022One building in the Kapucijnenvoer on which we have been keeping an eye is this one that backs onto the Zongang.

Last time we went past they were fitting the windows but over the last four weeks they seem to have made some dramatic progress. They are now busy building up the facade with some kind of machined stone blocks and it doesn’t look as it it will be long before they have finished.

We can no longer see the really nice building that is behind it and I bet that with the height of this building in front, it will be quite dark there. It’s a shame that a building as beautiful as that one has been consigned to the shadows.

new building kapucijnenvoer Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo March 2022The other building in the Kapucijnenvoer on which we have been keeping an eye is the huge one that is slowly going up further down the street.

Last time we were here we saw them beginning to fit the walls to the ground floor. And today, we’ve having to step back across the street to take a photo of it because it’s now mushrooming up quite quickly.

It’ll be interesting to see where it will be up to when I come back next month.

The climb up the hill was the usual exhausting agony but I made it right the way to the top without actually stopping for breath which is something, I suppose.

digging up pavement monseigneur van waeyenberghlaan Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo March 2022When I reached the roundabout near the top I did actually stop, but not to draw breath.

Something else on which we’ve been keeping an eye is the work, whatever it is, that’s going on in the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan.

They have dug this up, laid electric cable, filled it in and then dug it up again more often than I care to mention. And look at the state of the paving at the side. I wonder how long it will be before someone trips over an uneven paving slab and does themselves a mischief.

At the hospital, my transfusion didn’t take long to complete, and I wonder why that was. Usually it takes hours but I was ready to leave at 16:30.

However I had to wait for a while for Alison to finish work and then we went round to her house for tea. She thought that my coffee cake was delicious and she was certainly right there.

Now, back here, I’m ready for bed. No alarm in the morning though because I’m having a lie-in to compensate for what I didn’t have today.

And so I wonder what will come along to disturb me.

Thursday 10th February 2022 – I’VE HAD SOME …

… really bad news today at the hospital. Kaatje, who is my social welfare adviser, is leaving her job at the end of March. She’s taking a year out to go travelling and to see where she’ll end up.

It goes without saying that I told her that if she ends up in Normandy she can pop in for a coffee but I really suspect that my visit here in March will be the last time that I’ll be seeing her.

That is really disappointing. I really quite liked her.

But that’s for later. Let’s begin at the very beginning.

This morning when the alarm went off at 07:30 I fell out of bed quite rapidly even though I didn’t feel much like it.

And when I saw the dictaphone I could understand why. There are no fewer than 10 sound files on the machine from last night. That means that I was dictating something into it on average every 45 minutes.

No wonder I was exhausted!

After the medication I sat down and chose the music for two of the next batch of radio programmes, seeing as I didn’t have anywhere to go this morning. One was more difficult than it might have been because a file or two that I wanted to use were corrupt.

What I had to do was to track down a copy of each one, download it, convert it to *.mp3 and then edit it ready for use. And seeing as this computer only has 8GB of RAM instead of the 32GB of RAM in the big machine back home in the bedroom, it took much longer than it otherwise might have done.

There was time for a shower and to wash my clothes and then to make my sandwiches ready to set off for the hospital.

Taverne Universum herbert hooverplein leuven belgium Eric Hall photo February 2022Down the Tiensestraat in the rain I went, as far as the Herbert Hooverplein.

On the corner of the square is the Taverne Universum and we’ve seen this on several occasions over the last few visits here, all covered in scaffolding and its protective cover to protect passers-by from showers of slate and clouds of cement.

Judging by the rubble chute coming from one of the windows and leading into the skip, it looks as if whatever work is being done is being done on the inside of the building and so unfortunately we won’t be able to see what it is that they have been doing.

But I carried on down the hill and through the town centre, with nothing at all going on to distract me from my purpose of reaching the hospital before I ran out of steam.

footpath velodrome brusselsestraat oude lievevrouwstraat leuven belgium Eric Hall photo February 2022Mind you, at what is referred to as the velodrome in the Brusselsestraat I came to a halt as I’d noticed something that had changed.

People were passing down by the side of where they erect the marquees for events every now and again, and a closer look at the situation reveals that the fence at the bottom of the site bordering the Oude Lieve Vrouwstraat has been moved.

That means that people can now pass from here into the latter street, with the idea, I suppose, that it will become a formal pathway in due course. Whether it remains or not once the proposed redevelopment takes place remains to be seen.

demolition site brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric Hall photo February 2022A little further on down the street at the other side of the Velodrome, the piles of soil and rubble are still here. No-one has taken them away.

The digger on top of the pile doesn’t seem to be contributing much to the general nature of the site and further to the demolition of St Pieter’s Hospital on which we are standing right now, the demolition of the building over on the right seems to have stopped.

One part of it has come down, as we can tell, right behind the digger but despite the passage of time no further demolition has taken place.

As I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … if the buildings around here are going to stay then they need to be tidied up because I can’t think that anyone paying the kind of price that they will be required to pay for an apartment here will be happy with the view that they will have.

medieval tower demolition site brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric Hall photo February 2022While we are here, we’ll have to check on the medieval tower that was uncovered when they demolished the hospital.

It’s been covered up for the last few months though, in scaffolding with a roof on top and with netting around the outside, presumably to protect it from the work that’s going on all around it.

But it’s the piles of rubble that are intriguing me. If they are serving no purpose I would have expected them to have been taken away a long time ago. But if they are to be used in the regeneration of the site then they need to get a move on before the rain washes it all away.

medieval tower handbooghof leuven belgium Eric Hall photo February 2022Last time that I took a photo of the old medieval tower I mentioned something about the view behind me.

That reminded me today that maybe I ought to take a photo of the view behind me so that you can see what I mean about the old medieval walls there in the Handbooghof.

All of that section of the city wall, such as it is, is under repair at the moment as you can see. And not before time as I’ve posted a few photos of this part of the wall showing its deplorable condition.

We can’t see what they have been doing because of the wall that they have erected in front of it so we’ll have to wait for a while until the wall has gone before we can examine their handiwork.

building site kapucijnenvoer leuven belgium Eric Hall photo February 2022From there I pushed on along the street and round the corner into the Kapucijnenvoer.

There are a couple of building sites on which we have been keeping an eye over the last few months. This one, backing on to the Zongang, was at one time proceeding rather quicker than I would have expected, being Belgium, but things have slowed down just recently.

The windows are now fitted, but seeing all of the gaps around them shows the quality of the workmanship in new buildings these days. They’ll stuff the joints full of expanding foam and and cement over it, and then wonder why in 10 years time they are having water infiltration issues.

building site kapucijnenvoer leuven belgium Eric Hall photo February 2022The other building site in the Kapucijnenvoer is further down the street on the other side of the road.

This is going to be some massive undertaking judging by the amount of concrete that has gone into it.

They are now at the stage of installing the vertical dividing walls. We can see some of the concrete reinforcing matting that has already been fitted, waiting for the shuttering to be installed.

The walk up the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan was a nightmare this afternoon. I wasn’t in any kind of mood for that.

What didn’t help was that seeing as it is February, I was dressed in my winter clothing, but the temperature was 12°C and I was overheating. It really was a most uncomfortable climb up the hill.

digging up the pavement monseigneur van waeyenberghlaan leuven belgium Eric Hall photo February 2022We’ve seen this in several occasions just recenly.

At the top end of the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan a few months ago they were digging up the verge and laying an electric cable. Since then they have dug it up a couple of times since to presumably repair what it is that they damaged on the previous occasion that they dug it up.

It’s always the final couple of hundred yards that finishes me off because it becomes steeper and steeper the higher up you go and there’s a part by the bus station that must be at 45 degrees.

That’s the straw that always breaks the camel’s back.

1st buds 2022 universitaire ziekenhuis leuven belgium Eric Hall photo February 2022A little earlier I mentioned something about the temperature today and how we don’t seem to have had anything like a winter.

And here are the first buds that I have seen so far in 2022. This is ridiculously early but nevertheless it underlines the fact that the winters, such as they are, are warming up these days and nature is responding earlier and earlier The first buds that I saw in, for example, 2019, WERE ON 8th MARCH.

At the hospital I was surprised that the doctor actually came to see me before the nurse could couple me up to the machine that they use.

The doctor was another one of these very keen, very helpful, very enthusiastic types and we had a very long chat. Once again, the question of Counselling reared its ugly head and as I said last time, I would hate to be the person who draws the short straw and has to probe the depths of my subconscious mind.

The big issue is that my heart and my knee are giving me major problems, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall. Apparently I am doing all of the right things and “everything will improve if you just give it time”.

However, time is something that I don’t have. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that with the main illness that I have people start to die off after five years and no-one has lived longer than 11 years. I was diagnosed with it 6.5 years ago and judging by some of things that were going on in the past, I’ve had it a lot longer than that.

So basically I’m living on borrowed time as it is and I don’t have the time for the heart and the knee to improve.

And that’s probably the root of all of the frustrations that I’m feeling right now.

The good news (for there is some) is that I can abandon two of my medicaments. I think that that brings me down to 12 per day now, a couple of them more than once a day.

There was the dictaphone to listen to, as I mentioned earlier. There was something to do with a group of people and a guy who was running it but whether they were all colonists or something I don’t know. Something had happened and gone wrong and all the people had overpowered him. He put up a heck of a fight but nevertheless they brought him down to the floor and were sitting on him etc. There was some woman in charge of the operation and the guy was pleading with her “let me go, let me go, give me another chance and I’ll sort things out”. I was listening to this somehow, I’m not sure how, thinking “yes, we’ve heard all this before and that it as high time that these people took matters into heir own hands and sorted out their own freedom in their own way”.

There was something else going round the Social Network from the Open University about some illness or other so I posted on there that my partner had had cancer and died and a couple of years later I’d developed leukemia so the moral of this story is “if you have something to do, do it and don’t wait”. Immediately 2 people entered into conversation with me via private chat. One was someone from the Auvergne like a German friend of mine but it wasn’t him and the second person was someone I knew once in Northampton. The result of this was that I was up in the North-west of England and he came along and picked me up. There was someone else there as well so there were three. I knew that he lived somewhere on the coast of Scotland, and it turned out that it was at Ardrossan but it was no Ardrossan that I ever knew. When we arrived we drove under the Admiralty Arch and I thought that this would be a nice place to photograph, the arch and its explanatory panel. We ended up in his house. His kitchen was in a glass conservatory. We could see the harbour and the storm and the boats being tossed about by the waves and lost in the spray. He made himself some toast and didn’t offer it to anyone. We were there chatting about not very much. Someone asked me if I had seen the dog of something travelling south so I said “no”. They explained that it was some kind of wind phenomenon. Strangely enough, at that moment I awoke and I could smell toast al the way through the building where I was staying.

We were also in Paisley last night but it was nothing like any Paisley I ever knew but surprisingly it was associated with Morton Football Club. There had been someone who had died, some respected senator or some such and a big funeral had been organised for him. We were up there, three of us again, driving around in my car. At the back of the town centre was acres and acres and acres of demolition sites where all the old tenements had been knocked down. While we were driving around one of them we came across loads of cars from the 1950s that had been dumped and vandalised. It was very strange in these modern times to have cars like this lying around on waste ground. We did a U-turn but somehow managed to become stuck in the demolition site of a factory but extricated ourselves and went back and I tried to take a photo. First of all I couldn’t get the aspect right for this old Ford Consul Mk II, an early model, not the 375. I couldn’t make this photo focus on what it was that I was wanting and I couldn’t actually see the car at one time even though it was quite clear on this demolition site that we had driven past just now. All of a sudden the camera began to malfunction and nothing was happening at all. The girl with me was becoming rather impatient. In the meantime a woman came by with 2 tiny children. One was in a blue and white hooped top and the other wasn’t. I said something to this little kid about “you don’t want to be wearing that kind of clothing around here. It should be blue and white (or do I mean black and white, the colours of St Mirren who play in Paisley?). His mother laughed and said something and wandered off. I was still messing around with this camera and this girl was becoming very impatient. She said “can’t you fix it?”. I replied “yes, if I had somewhere clear and plenty of room etc in which to work”. She replied “let’s go into this house”. It was a house that we weren’t quite sure if it was abandoned, empty or so on. I thought “I’m not going in there to strip down my camera. You never know who is going to come in”. But she was extremely adamant. In the end I said “I’ll sit on the edge of the pavement and do it” which I thought was a good compromise but she was still going on about going into this house and that was the last thing that I wanted to do

There was also something about some Glasgow family appearing on the TV. There were loads of outcries about how they didn’t want this family representing them on the UK stage somewhere. Some foreign Government going on about how they don’t want these Lefties coming along invading their country from the UK.

I’m not sure whether I dictated something about our Welsh class where I came back in and they were listening to all varieties of music and said that you each have to choose 10 songs so we can stream them. I asked “how do you mean? I have to download off the internet or from my own personal collection?”. They replied “however you like” and gave me the settings that you have to use. At first I couldn’t think of a ten that I would record because I would want to be using my style of music but the others wouldn’t like that. There had to be some kind of compromise somewhere. In the end I managed to sort out 10 of them including ZERO SHE FLIES and GRASSHOPPER
which as regular readers of this rubbish will recall play some kind of rôle in my voyages during the night. They were talking about the door handle that used to stick but “we’ve fixed that now so there’s no problem there”. I asked them what they had done but they weren’t too keen to tell me but they said that the cuckoo clock had gone which I thought was a real shame. They said “there was something the matter with it and Mike took it away” because he was in charge of all of this. I was hoping that it would find its way back sometime soon.

When they threw me out of the hospital, Alison came to pick me up and we went round to her house and cooked tea while I cuddled a cat. We also had a very long chat which passed much more time than expected and so it wasn’t until late that I returned back here.

No alarm in the morning, what with no hospital appointments, so I’m having a lie-in. That is, always assuming that my night isn’t as disturbed as last night’s was. 10 sound files is an impressive number and must be a record – a record that I don’t want to break.

Unless I’m accompanied by TOTGA, Castor and Zero of course, and then I can go for as many rambles as I possibly can.

Thursday 13th January 2022 – I’VE BEEN TOLD …

… by a doctor at the hospital that I would probably be better off having some counselling.

And I’d hate to be the person who draws the short straw and has to probe the depths of my subconscious mind.

But seriously, anyone who has to go to see a psychiatrist needs his head examined. It reminds me of the story about the guy who went to see a psychiatrist
“What’s the matter with you?”
“I think that I’m a dog”.
“And how long have you been feeling ike that?”
“Ever since I was a puppy”
“You’d better lie down on the couch”.
“I can’t”
“Why not?”
“I’m not allowed to”.

Last night I was in bed by 21:30 tucked up quietly in the warmth. And it didn’t take too long before I dozed off, only to awaken at 04:25.

No chance of my being out of bed at any time like that. I turned over and tried to go back to sleep – without a great deal of success, I have to say. At least, not until five minutes before the alarm went off.

Plenty of stuff on the dictaphone from the night too. Back in the days before World War II when there were a couple of scientists working on some machines that we’d captured. One was a kind of musical juke box which was to do with the German Air Force. We’d had this and had to rewire a new plug onto it, plugged it in and made it work. I’m not sure of the relevance of anything else but it actually predicted the arrival of the first German aeroplane to cross the Dutch border in World War II and the troops on the ground who saw it fly over this cliff where they were keeping watch. It was loaded with explosives but they were lucky and they were ready and managed to bring it down. But the explosives caused a huge amount of damage all over the local area and there was some kind of dispute about it. Was it the right thing to do? Then it turned out that in one raid by the Allied air force in 1942 or something they had actually caught the inventor of this machine and killed him in the bombing raid. There was another machine but they weren’t sure exactly what it did but it was something to do with family trees. When they finally cracked what it did, the key name was Robinson or Robertson but that was something to do with the German people who had designed the machine. When they worked out the surname the allies were quite jubilant about it all.

Later on back in some kind of Cold War time we were on a deserted dock in the North of Scotland somewhere which at one time had been a Victorian dry dock complex but was now abandoned. We’d gone to investigate it and found some paperwork relating to some movements. Then this ship docked and a huge Russian lorry was wheeled off. We explored all over this lorry. It was quite primitive but was loaded up with some kind of stuff so we made some real notes about it. We even knew its name, which I have forgotten. There was also a caravan thing. We were surprised that the lorry was far easier to drive than this caravan. This lorry, we were underneath it checking everything etc. We even heard them giving orders about driving it. This was bound to be something of real interest to someone.

Later on there was some kind of follow-up to this incident about the dock but I can’t remember very much about it except that a girl was quite upset because she believed that it had been installed with the agreement and knowledge of the British authorities and was very upset that we were poking around it.

Following the demise of Shearings I went to look for another job as a coach driver and ended up looking at a place that had some old Duple-bodied coaches that was advertising. Their coaches were really nice, clean, tidy and well-painted even though they were old. The question of whether these were still in operation even though they were more than 20 years old came up but they didn’t seem to be bothered. They were running them quite happily. We had a good chat and I explained that I worked mainly for Shearings so I knew how to drive and how to run coach tours and private hire trips according to how they did them but that was probably different from anyone else. They agreed to offer me a job and they were impressed to notice that I knew already about fuel cards etc. He showed me a coach, a T-registered Duple that had been repainted but the preparation had been awful so I had a word about that. I thought that it ought to have been done better. Then it came out that I had an Operator’s Licence (which I actually do, and an International one at that) so he thought that he might put me at one of their subsidiaries somewhere. We boarded a coach which was rather tatty inside, I thought and didn’t seem to suit their image, and drove off. I expected that they would have wanted me to drive so that they could see what I was like but they didn’t which I thought was strange. At a certain point we stopped, got out and started to walk, past these abandoned houses and the guy was talking about who used to live there and what he used to do, and had we been here 20 years ago there would have been tons of stuff in these houses to save. Climbing over the ruins was quite difficult. Then the name of Zygmund came up. There were 2 boys talking about it and we overheard. I said that I knew someone called Zygmund (and I did too – he lived in Nantwich and was a friend of my father’s). He knew this person as well so we had a chat about this, what I remembered from my father and he added a few bits and pieces in. We then clambered over this really old house that had been used to keep a horse in which had contributed to its demise

After the meds I had a shower and washed my clothes, then I made my sandwiches and headed off into town. I’m glad that I’d brought my winter coat with me because the temperature was down to 1.5°C outside.

tavern universum herbert hooverplein leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022On my way down the street into town I passed by the corner of the Herbert Hooverplein.

When we were here last month they were doing something her that had caught my attention but I can’t now remember what it was. But whatever it was, they look as if they are pretty-well advanced with it.

There’s scaffolding up all around the Taverne Universum and covered with a sheet to protect the passers-by from whatever it is that they are doing.

And as for the sign “what’s next?” – we’ll have to wait to find out. I’m not convinced that it will be next time either, knowing the speed in which they seem to work here in Belgium.

shop renovation rector de somerplein leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022Further down the hill in the Rector de Somerplein I went past that building that we saw them smashing up a couple of months ago.

Nothing much seemed to have happened when we went past last time, but now they seem to have got to grips with it.

Covered in scaffolding with its protective covering and with a laden skip outside the door it looks as if things are advancing quite rapidly. Of course I can’t stick my hear in there for another look while they are actually working there though. I’ll have to wait until the scaffolding and its cover come down.

And that’s not going to be for quite a while either, I reckon.

school trip on bicycles naamsestraat leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022Bicycles play an important role in the life of the average citizen of Leuven and the place is flooded with them.

Coming down the Naamsestraat into the Grote Markt is what looks very much like a school outing or something similar a whole pile of schoolkids accompanied by a few adults on a pedal-powered outing.

Luckily they aren’t going my way, although had I been a minute or so later I would have encountered them head-on. I left them to it and carried on down the hill into the Brusselsestraat where there wasn’t very much of any kind of excitement at all today.

hardstanding velodrome brusselsestraat leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that at the back of the new velodrome there’s some kind of hardstanding that they have installed.

In the past we’ve seen all kinds of things on there. There have been marquees and the like, and I even recall seeing a few potted palms as well on one occasion.

Today though, there’s nothing. We have the Christmas lights still strung up there but that’s about your lot.

Nevertheless, if those buildings at the back are going to be staying put and not be knocked down, they need to be doing something with them to tidy them up. They are building a little exclusive village here eventually and I’m sure that the residents, having paid all of this money, will want to have a good view for their money.

building work on medieval stone tower brusselsestraat leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022A little further on down the street is the old medieval tower that we first saw after they had knocked down St Pieter’s Hospital that used to stand on this site.

Since it was unveiled in all of its glory, it’s been veiled up again, and quite rightly so with all of the construction going on all around it.

It’s all that remains of the old medieval city walls in this area, although there’s a couple of hundred of hundred feet still standing behind me down by the side of the river that it also in the process of being restored.

And part of the plan is for this tower to stand at the side of the river again. Where we are standing now is actually on top of the river that is flowing underneath us in a culvert. Part of the plan for the site is to rip out the culvert and have the river exposed to the air again.

Further down at the end of the street I decided to go a different way to the hospital.

building work kapucijnenvoer leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022There are a couple of building sites, like this one between the Zongang and the Kapucijnenvoer, upon which my beady eye is being kept and by the time that I come here tonight it will be too dark to see anything.

By the looks of things, all of the structure is in place and they’ve taken their time to get here. At first the building went up like a mushroom but they seem to have slowed down somewhat since those heady days.

The next task, I suppose, will be to fit it out before they finish off with the cladding. I’m not sure how long that will take them but I don’t suppose that it’s the work of five minutes either. And I wonder how the residents of the Zongang are getting on, having been deprived of much of their natural light.

building work kapucijnenvoer leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022Further on down the street on the other side of the road is the big impressive building on which they have been working for quite some time.

There were plenty of workmen about so I had to be rather circumspect, but we can see that they’ve been making some progress with the building. And I was right. It is going to be a huge thing.

There’ no indication of the purpose of the building when it’s finished – no signs or anything – so we’ll have to wait for a while until we find out what is going on.

To my surprise I made it all the way to the hospital without stopping for breath, even all the way up the hill in the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan. It’s been a long time since I’ve done that.

At the cardiologist’s, they put me on e couch and coupled me up to a machine that would take a reading. And then the consultant saw me.

They couldn’t find anything seriously wrong with my heart when they did all those tests last time. He thinks that it’s something to do with clogged arteries (which is a great surprise to me as I don’t eat the kind of food that will cause that). He’s going to try to treat it by medication.

And so having decided when my daily intake of tablets increased to 8 per day that I was going to make a great effort to cut down, I’m now on 15 per day. So that plan clearly isn’t working, is it?

At the day centre they coupled me up to the infusion and left me to it. The doctor came to see me to ask how I was and when I told him that I was fed up, he started on this counselling lark.

One of the things that I mentioned was that I can’t shift this excess weight, and I can’t seem to improve my breathing and can’t go back to running, all of that. He suggested that I take up much more exercise in an attempt to deal with the weight and the fitness levels, but he didn’t have an answer to “how do I do that with my breathing issues?”.

While I was there I did manage to do some work in between the bouts of sleep. Tuesday’s notes that I had left only half-written are now up to date (except for the night’s little voyages).

Alison came to the hospital to pick me up and she took me back to her house where she made tea. And it was my lucky day today because one of her cats let me pick him up and give him a big stroke. He seemed quite comfortable too.

Alison kindly ran me home later, which was nice of her. We’d had a very long chat about all kinds of this and that, and did our best to put the world to rights. But I think that it’ll take much more than whatever we can come up with to do that.

Now I’m off to bed and a nice lie in. Just as well as the ‘phone battery is flat and I can’t recharge it until I find a data cable from somewhere.

No appointments tomorrow so I can take it easy. Just a pile of music to select for the radio programmes and a trip out to the shops. That should keep me out of mischief for a while.

Wednesday 17th November 2021 – HERE I ALL AM …

… not exactly sitting in a rainbow but sitting on the settee in my little room in the Dekenstraat in Leuven. It’s that time again.

After having a really bad night yet again, I was up and about fairly early and it didn’t take too long for me to sort myself out, make my sandwiches and coffee and do a little cleaning up (only a little) before I headed off towards the railway station.

fish processing plant port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021Before I went too far, I wanted to check to see that the NIKON 1 J5 was working properly and the dull sky of the early morning was a good time to try.

At the viewpoint at the corner of the Boulevard Vaufleury and Boulevard des 2E et 202E de Ligne overlooking the Fish Processing Plant. The plant was illuminated as the refrigerated lorries were loading up and I reckoned that if it would produce something reasonable out of this, there would be no need to nip home and fetch another camera.

And when I looked at it later, it’s come out much better than I expected. I’ve said before that it’s not that the camera is a bad camera, it’s that I’m pushing it to the limits of its capabilities.

baie de mont st michel port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021The photo encouraged me to have a little tinker with the settings and try to push the camera on a little more.

Here’s a nice wide-angle photo of the northern part of the Baie de Mont St Michel. The light on Le Loup is quite clear, as if a little blurred (which is hardly a surprise in this light at this speed with a hand-held shot) and the street lights around the bay from St Pair to Carolles are quite clear too.

It seems to me that the repair that I’ve had done to the camera is working well enough and now I’m tempted to send away the old NIKON D5000 that has never worked properly since I dropped it on A CONCRETE FLOOR IN QUÉBEC

The steps down the Rampe du Monte à Regret are still closed so I had to walk all the way down the Rue des Juifs and the Rue Paul Poirier which adds a few minutes to my time. But in compensation, the climb up to the top of the hill was much easier than it was the last time I dragged a suitcase up here.

There were only one or two stops to catch my breath and in reality I suppose that I could have pushed on regardless had I tried.

gec alstom regiolis 84563 gare de Granville railway station Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo November 2021The train wasn’t in yet so I had to wait for about 20 minutes for it to arrive.

It was just a 6-car unit today and there weren’t all that many passengers on board. I had a pair of seats to myself and that enabled me to back up my computer in peace and quiet for a change.

There was even 15 minutes when I could have a comfortable little doze to make up for what I didn’t have during the night.

The train pulled into Gare Montparnasse on time and once more I tried the route all the way down the Rue du Départ to the metro entrance. It really is much quicker and easier than going down into the labyrinth and clambering up and down all these flights of steps.

There was only one person in the queue at the kiosk at the bottom of the steps at the Metro entrance so I thought that this would be the moment to buy another pile of tickets as I’m running low.

However the woman in front of me, a Spaniard, was having difficulty with her French and was there for ages trying to understand what the guy behind the window was trying to tell her.

Eventually I managed to be served and I dashed down onto e very crowded platform where I had to wait a few minutes until an equally-packed train came in. We all scrambled aboard and I was lucky enough to find a seat.

TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt 4551 PBA gare du nord paris France Eric Hall photo November 2021At the Gare du Nord I was still earlier than I used to be despite the encounter at the ticket window.

Consequently, as you might be expecting, we had to wait for an age for our train. There was already one trainset standing at the platform, one of the TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt “Paris-Brussels-Amsterdam” trainsets, but it was too much to expect that this was going to be mine.

Our train was going to be a two-trainset unit and the rear portion arrived from Lille rather late and had to be cleaned and tidied before we could board it.

TGV INOUI 216 are TGV Reseau Duplex gare de lille flandres railway station lille France Eric Hall photo November 2021It goes without saying that I would be right down at the far end of the train. However, although it took me longer to walk right down there, it means that I have less distance to walk at Lille.

It’s one of the TGV Reseau Duplex trainsets, and so once again we are travelling in a hybrid train made up of two different types of trainset. That’s becoming more and more of a regular occurrence.

Although we were late setting out from the Gare du Nord, the train made up the time by the time we reached Lille Flandres railway station. That was good news for me because I wasn’t in the mood to run down the road.

And the walk to Lille Europe was easier than last time too.

TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt 4519 PBA gare de lille europe railway station lille France Eric Hall photo November 2021As I walked down the steps (the escalator wasn’t working) into the station at Lille Europe, the train for Brussels pulled in at the same time.

That’s not an issue because there’s a 20-minute wait while they uncouple the front trainset so there wasn’t any panic. The trainset that was left behind was another TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt Paris-Brussels-Amsterdam trainset.

Our train set off on time and I had a nice relaxing journey reading a book on the laptop all the way to Brussels

We were a few minutes late arriving in Brussels so I had to run for my train to Leuven.

push me pull you gare du midi brussels belgium Eric Hall photo November 2021However I gave that up when I found that the escalator to the platform was out of order. I wasn’t up to running all the way up the stairs with my suitcase. Instead I went and waited for the next one.

That one was one of the pushme-pullyou trains that run between Eupen and Oostende and as usual, the locomotive was at the rear end pushing the train along.

It was only 10 minutes behind the one to Hasselt and Genk so I didn’t have to hang around too long and for a change at the Gare du Midi it wasn’t too cold and draughty standing on the platform.

class 18 electric locomotive gare de leuven railway station leuven belgium Eric Hall photo November 2021When we arrived at Leuven I had to hang a round for a couple of minutes to see what the locomotive was.

As I expected, it was one of the Class 18 electric locomotives behind (or in front of) which we travel most of the time. They provide most of the motive power to the long-distance Inter-City trains.

Once the train had pulled away I went to the supermarket at the back of the station for my drink and, for a change, my bread too. I’m not going to have time to go to the supermarket this evening so as long as I have my stuff for breakfast I’ll be fine.

cherry picker martelarenplein leuven belgium Eric Hall photo November 2021Outside the railway station across the road in the Martelarenplein, there was a cherry picker parked up.

That can only mean one thing – and that is that the Christmas decorations will be going up any moment soon. It’s that time of year already.

The walk down to my little room was easier than it has been of late, and as I arrived I bumped into the centre manager. We had a little chat. After all, it’s been a few months since I’ve seen him last.

After a little doze I had a shower and washed my clothes and then went out to meet Alison. We went back to her house for falafel and chips, and a nice long chat..

Now I’m back here and I’m off to bed. I’ve had a hard day and I’m exhausted as you might expect. A good sleep will do me good and hopefully I’ll be fighting fit for my appointment.

And an early trip out to buy a breadknife as there isn’t one here and I’ll be struggling to cut the loaf that I had bought.

Thursday 14th October 2021 – IT’S BEEN ONE …

…of those days when very little seemed to go right today.

Such things as having yet another bad night’s sleep, awakening bolt-upright for no good reason at 06:00 exactly, that sort of thing.

And despite having turned on the heating in the room last night, it was flaming cold as well.

The way that I leapt out of bed was hardly “with alacrity” this morning. I waited around for a few minutes for the room to stop spinning before I left my stinking pit.

After the medication I checked my mails and messages, had my breakfast and then went for a shower. And despite having turned up the heating to “full”, it was still cold and I didn’t enjoy the shower at all.

There had been a couple of voyages on the dictaphone during the night too. I was out looking at property or trying to find somewhere last night for me and my cars but there was nothing suitable. Nowhere had any land – anything with any land was immediately bought, demolished and built on and you couldn’t find a thing. The Estate Agent wasn’t very helpful either. He was telling me that that was what happens and the only thing to do was to keep on looking, put my name of a few properties and see what happens. He asked me the usual questions – what kind of place did I want? Did it need to be improved? And so on. He asked how many cars I had and he nearly died when I said “12”.

There was also something about our friend in Virlet last night, whoever “our friend in Virlet” might be. It was going dark and I was working round the side of the barn when someone came round and they weren’t expecting to see me. They were totally surprised that I was there. They asked where was the handle – the broken handle out of the fork that I had taken out yesterday that I’d put down somewhere? I replied “I gave the fork and the handle back to you. Where did you put it?”. He couldn’t remember where and that was all that I remember.

Having made my sandwiches I headed off through town towards the hospital, taking a few photos on the way.

balls and glory tiensestraat leuven belgium Eric Hall photo October 2021Some of the photos didn’t turn out, for a reason that I haven’t understood.

But of the ones that did, this is a shop and restaurant in the Tiensestraat that sells hand-crafted meatballs. And I’m not sure exactly how much demand there might be for hand-crafted meatballs but they have been here for a while so they must be doing some good somehow.

The shop is called “Balls and Glory” but if you ask me, there isn’t much glory in making hand-crafted meatballs. To me, it sounds like it’s all … well, quite.

olleke bolleke sweet shop tiensestraat leuven belgium Eric Hall photo October 2021A little further on down the road is another shop with a bizarre name.

Olleke Bolleke is a sweet shop that sells by the 100 grammes these gelatine-laden sweets that are bad for the teeth. I first encountered one of these shops in Brugge in the 1970s and the chain seems to be going from strength to strength.

As it happens, I’ve never actually been in one but I don’t think that there’s very much olleke being sold in there . It’s probably all … well, quite.

There wasn’t all that much happening in the town centre today. The exhibition for the cycle race has been cleared away and there’s nothing much as yet been put in its place.

pavilion sint pieters hospital brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric Hall photo October 2021The exhibition has even gone from the site of the Sint Pieter’s Hospital.

The marquee or pergola or whatever it is is looking very sad right now with nothing going on. Just a pile of benches and a few tables that aren’t serving any useful purpose.

But imagine that in the UK. You would have to chain the furniture down to the floor and even so, it would still go missing. Life is so much calmer here in Europe.

But the palm trees will need to go missing soon because it won’t be long before we start to have the frosts and I can’t see them doing very well over the winter if they are left out there.

building work demolition work sint pieters brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric Hall photo October 2021Further along the Brusselsestraat work is continuing apace.

Not on the old medieval tower though, that’s still covered in scaffolding and roofing sheets to protect it from damage while the demolition continues.

But you can tell by the rest of the machinery that they are still in there demolishing that other building. I’d have shown you how that was proceeding, except that the photo didn’t turn out.

Several others didn’t turn out either, as I discovered later, and I’ve no idea why.

building work kapucijnenvoer leuven belgium Eric Hall photo October 2021usually I leave the photos of the building work in the kapucijnenvoer until on the way home but as I’m not coming straight home this evening, I went that way towards the hospital.

The building that backs onto the Zongang is coming on in leaps and bounds which is quite a surprise for Belgium and it can’t be long now before they think about finding some occupants for it.

It’s rather tough though for the occupants of that nice little house in the Zongang who now have this new building blocking out all their light.

There’s another building site in the Kapucijnenvoer as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, but the photo of that was one that didn’t turn out.

The climb up the hill to the hospital was a little better than it had been last time. I managed to push 50 yards on the distance that I made last time before I needed to stop for breath.

At the hospital I had a CT scan of my chest – and then I had to wait. “I’m sorry that you had to wait so long” said the nurse. “I had to send for a doctor to look at the images”. I don’t like the sound of that very much.

After a wait around I had to go for another test to measure the capacity of my lungs – breathing in and out of a long tube.

Finally I could go round to the Oncology department for my usual treatment. I arrived there at 13:40 for my treatment that was timed for 14:00, and I was finally seen at 14:45. I’ve no idea what was happening today that was making them run so late.

It was 17.30 before the doctor came to see me too but at least this time it was a doctor who was very concerned and very interested – not like the one that I had a couple of times ago.

My blood count has seen a dramatic rise – to 9.7 and I’ve no idea why. He went through my other results too and explained them to me. Apparently there wasn’t much out of order with my breathing and my lungs in the way in which they are functioning.

As a result he’s going to try to make an appointment with a cardiologist for me who will hopefully probe my case a little further. I didn’t tell him that my doctor at home is also on the case. 2 opinions are better than one.

This all finished by me being hours late for everything so I waited at the hospital for Alison to come there and pick me up. We went round to her house, having to go back to the hospital to pick up the medication that I had forgotten.

Alison had bought some vegan sausages so while I cooked them, she went to the fritkot for some chips. And it was a lovely tea too.

Afterwards we had a lengthy chat until I began to go to sleep so she kindly ran me home. Now I’m off to bed for a good lie in. No alarm in the morning – I’m going to sleep until I wake up

Friday 17th September 2021 – AFTER YESTERDAY’S …

… exertions it was no surprise to anyone that I was in bed by 20:45. But the difficulty whenever I do that is that I’m usually awake quite early and so I never seem to take advantage of it.

But if anyone thinks that I’m going to be out of bed at 05:40 and doing things when there’s no alarm set, they are totally mistaken. Even 07:20 was rather early but there’s no point in staying in bed if I can’t go back to sleep

At 09:00 I nipped downstairs to the “Match” supermarket in the basement for my bread for lunch. And some drink too. I’ve already finished off the 1.5 litres of iced tea and 2 litres of banana-flavoured soya drink that I brought on Wednesday night.

Back up in my room I finished off my notes from yesterday and then had a listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night. I was with a couple of friends and we were discussing, of all things, rape. The girl said something like “rapists should all go on strike and down tools”. I replied that if all rapists downed tools, there wouldn’t be any such thing as rape at all. And despite the gravity of the subject, I was pretty impressed that I could come out with a pun like that while I was asleep.
Later on there was an issue about a socket not working. I immediately reckoned that there was a bad joint somewhere and the first joint that I tested came apart when I pulled it I was with a guy whom I knew so I asked him if he would hold a lamp at the socket while I held the wires togeter to see if this was the bad joing in question but he refused. I had to run off and try to find a light with a plug that would fit in the socket and try it myself.
Even later Rosemary was asking me about the Battle of Rhedae. I knew that it had taken place on the outskirts of Clermont Ferrand (which it didn’t – I was thinking of the Battle of Gergovie) so I went to fetch my Michelin guide to the Puy de Dome and had a good search through but couldn’t find it in there, which was no surprise seeing as Rhedae, which is these days believed by many to the the town of Quillan, is in the Razès in South West France.

class 18 electric locomotives gare de Leuven railway station Belgium Eric Hall photo September 2021While I was busy working I was keeping an eye on what was going on outside down on the station.

At a certain moment a train from Oostende pulled into the station just as a train from Eupen and Welkenraedt pulled in on its way to Oostende.

But of them were powered by the typical Class 18 electric locomotives. The one from Eupen, furthes away from the camera, is being pulled by a locomotive whose number I can’t see, and the one from Oostende, closes to the camera, is being pushed by locomotive number 1819.

aeroplane going in to land brussels airport zaventem Belgium Eric Hall photo September 2021What else I could see from my window were aeroplanes flying from right to left just above the horizon.

Way over to the left is the Brussels National Airport at Zaventem. All of these aeroplanes are on the flightpath going into land there and there were quite a few too. At one stage I counted one every three or four minutes.

When I lived in Schaerbeek back in the early 1990s my apartment looked out right across to the airport way out in the distance and the aeroplanes that came in to land were clearly visible at night with their landling lights illuminated. They would come into land right in line head-on to my apartment and the view was fantastic.

universitaire ziekenhuis Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo September 2021Another thing that you could see from my window up here on the 5th floor was the Universitaire Ziekenhuis Leuven, the University Hospital of Leuven.

That’s the building, or buildings, I should maybe say, over there on the skyline on the right-hand side of the photo. And this photo will give you some idea of the size of the hospital. It’s one of the biggest in Europe, if not the World.

The thing that impressed me about this hospital is that while most hospitals give instructions zbout how to arrive there from the town centre, this hospital give directions from the airport.

It’s truly a cosmopolitan hospital and that’s what I want. Many hospitals and medical services are quite chauvinistic about their treatment, but not so the Belgians. They aren’t afraid to mention medical research that is being undergone in other countries.

class 21 electric locomotive gare de Leuven railway station Belgium Eric Hall photo September 2021Another thing that I noticed pulling into the station was a rather elderly Class 21 locomotive.

These first came into service in the mid-80s, with 144 taking to the rails. There are Class 11s, Class 12s, Class 21s and Class 27s, with the latter being the most powerful and the former being the least powerful.

They were built by the Belgian BN/ACEC combine which is now no longer in business. And so since the Class 18s have arrived, these are gradually being withdrawn and dismantled as a source of spares for the big Class 27s.

Something else that came through the staion that I wasn’t quick enough to photograph, much to my regret was one of the new Bombardier-Alstom “M7” double deck multiple units that are currently on proving trials on the Belgian network. That would have been quite a thing.

With a nice quiet day I ought to have done so much more too but unfortunately much of the time was spent curled up on my bed having a little relax. No point in fighting it.

Later in the evening I caught a bus that took me out to Alison Wonderland, as her new home is called. She had some falafel left over from her barbecue so I cooked it while she went to the fritkot down the road for a bag of chips.

We had a nice meal and lengthy chat, and instead of singing for my supper I helped her move some heavy furniture around.

Once I’d recovered my strength Alison drove me home. I was totally exhaused and so with an early start tomorrow, instead of writing up my notes I crawled into bed and that was that.

Wednesday 18th August 2021 – WHAT A HORRIBLE …

… night that was!

It was alright until about 02:45 when the people in one of the rooms backing onto mine came back in from wherever they had been and put the music on.

And it was still going on at 11:00 this morning when I went out to the shops.

Nothing that I could do would get them to turn down the sound and telephoning the management was a waste of time too as the all-night emergency number was switched to the answerphone.

Luckily I managed to button-hole the manager this morning when I came back and told him what I thought about the situation.

He told me that he will speak to the people concerned. We shall see.

So most of last night was spent drifting in and out of sleep, and there are tons of stuff on the dictaphone. There was a little girl wandering around the complex here. I’d seen her once or twice and I caught up with her again the following day. I asked her what she was doing. She replied that she was looking for a donkey for some part in a film, something like that. We had a look around a few of the outhouses, places like that together, but we couldn’t see anything. We had a little chat and she went on her way. a little while later we bumped into some people who were also wandering around the apartment trying to sort out this music that was coming from another house in the street that backs onto here. It was a woman in her 40s and a couple of young people. We started to chat and the subject came up about this particular situation and the subject of this girl came up. Apparently she was her daughter and was 11. She asked me how she was and I replied that she was a little sunburnt but apart from that she’s fine. The woman said in that case I’ll leave her over in the UK. I replied “there’s no need to do that because she seems to be OK around here and I can keep an eye on her”. Then these people by now were loading something onto the roof of a Volvo, rather like a bed or something with a huge tubular metal frame. They were having to tie it on and I was having to help by holding the corners of these ropes so that they could tighten them up. Of course I had to concentrate for if I relaxed my grip this metal pole would go through the rear window. I remember thinking that I’ve moved some strange stuff in some strange fashions at one time but this beats just about everything.

Later on we were running a camp site, Liz, Terry and me, during the night. In the morning we had to apologise to people because of the noise that was being made because of the noise that was being made and we had to track down the culprits. We were generally tidying things up after people had started to leave and making plans about how we were going to develop things in the future. There was a sleeping bag piled up in a heap down at the bottom end of the course so I went to straighten it out, but there was a girl of about 7 asleep in it. We asked her if she had been the one making all the noise. She said “no” so we teased her – “doesn’t it have a cute little nose, that thing in that sleeping bag?” all that kind of thing.

later still, having been fired rather unceremoniously by Gill Leese for having read the newspaper, there was still an outstanding job that needed to be done, for us to take several lorry-loads of scrap to the scrap breakers. I thought that I’d go out and do that anyway because I wasn’t doing very much. By now everyone had gone. I got into a lorry that was fully-loaded, a rigid bulk carrier with trailer, and set out to drive it. Going through Nantwich and everywhere was quite easy but getting out towards Middlewich and Winsford, the road became a bit tougher and a couple of times I had to get out and walk and set the hand throttle so that the lorry would steer itself through the obstructions. There was one particular bit of obstruction that was very difficult to negotiate but someone came along with a tow rope to help me tow it through. Instead, he had the lorry wedged sideways in it and it was well and truly stuck. I thought “this is going to be a lot more complicated with Gill Leese than I could possibly imagine”.

Round about 09:30 I left my bed and went for breakfast. That was followed by a spell working on choosing the music for another radio programme.

Having only done half the shopping yesterday I went out later this morning to buy the food that I needed for lunch, otherwise I’ll be starving.

After lunch I had a shower and then chose the music for another programme, following which I went out to the bus station.

statue or sculpture of hot air balloon outside bus station leuven belgium Eric HallHere is something that I hadn’t noticed yesterday when I left the railway station.

Belgium, and Leuven in particular might be famous for many things but hot-air ballooning isn’t one of them. Most of the early balloonatics were French. So why there is a statue or a carving of a hot air balloon outside the bus station is something that has completely defeated me.

What I’ll have to do is to wander down that way and see if there’s a plaque affixed to it to give an explanation.

It’s quite new too. I don’t remember seeing it when I was here five weeks ago

martelarenplein leuven belgium Eric HallMeanwhile, while I was here I went to have a look at the Maartelarenplein outside the railway station.

That’s been dug up now for longer than I care to remember and progress is taking place at a snail’s pace. This is a very long task.

This afternoon I had to go to the offices of the local bus company, De Lijn. I have some old multi-use bus tickets but they have been withdrawn. I had to change them for the new type.

Then I boarded a bus that took me to Alison’s new house, known in the locality as “Alison’s Wonderland”. It was her housewarming party.

war graves leefdaal belgium Eric HallInstead of getting off at her house I went on to the next bus stop at the church.

Alison had told me that there were a couple of British Commonwealth War Graves there from May 1940. I was half-expecting to see the crew of a Fairey Battle but instead, it’s two soldiers from the Grenadier Guards killed on 18th May 1940 during the British Army’s retreat from Leuven.

It’s a mystery though why the graves have been left here. It was common policy after the war for to inhabitants of these small cemeteries to be regrouped into a couple of large ones.

civilian war graves leefdaal belgium Eric HallThere were some civilian graves here too. Civilians were by no means spared from the fighting during the German push through Belgium.

From there I walked down to Alison’s for the barbecue. A few of her colleagues from work were there and we all had a chat for a while. But rather earlier than most people I started to feel tired long before events had really warmed up and so like a reporter from the News of the Screws I made my excuses and left.

There was quite a wait for the bus back to town, but the journey passed quickly enough and I was soon alighting at the bus stop across the road.

ambulance attending road accident tiensestraat tiensevest leuven belgium Eric HallThere was an ambulance across the road too with its blue emergency lights flashing.

By its side was a rather badly distorted bicycle that looks as if it’s been run down by a passing car, although there was no other vehicle that looked as if it might have been involved.

Having taken a photo of it, I crossed the road and headed for home and to write up my notes.

Now they are done, I’m off to bed to try to get as mush sleep as possible in case the music starts up again later. But I’m not setting an alarm, just to be on the safe side.

Saturday 15th August 2020 – I’VE DONE SOMETHING …

… today that I haven’t done since 2005. And this time even more so because while back then it cost me nothing, this time it’s cost me a lot of money.

But ask me if I care.

What I’ve done is to walk away from a hotel that I had booked for tonight and went somewhere else (far more expensive).

But more of this later. Last night I had a strange sleep – waking up at about 00:45 to find that the radio was playing. And then sleeping through until about 05:45 without moving. Not a single nocturnal voyage anyqhere to be seen

Plenty of time to do a load of paperwork and then I went down to breakfast. Unfortunately I wasn’t feeling too well so I didn’t eat much which was a shame because there was tons of stuff there. It could have been an outstanding breakfast.

Unfortunately Jackie wasn’t available but Alison was free today as well as tomorrow so we agreed to meet up this afternoon.

Dodging the roadworks and the heavy showers, I set off for Leuven.

Friterie Marsupilami Route de Marche, 6600 Bastogne, Belgium eric hallThe Lady Who Lives In The SatNav brought me all the way through Luxembourg, where I fuelled up before crossing the Belgian border (fuel at €0:97/litre) and the Ardennes, passing through the town of Bastogne where I stopped to take a photo of another abandoned bus

It’s an old “bendy bus”, one of the articulated buses and judging by its number plate it comes from the town of Rotenburg in Lower Saxony but it’s now the Friterie Marsupilami, the FritKot on the Edge of Town.

There’s a fritkot on almost every corner in Belgium and this is certainly one of the more interesting ones. It’s closed though so I couldn’t find out what it was like.

It took me a good while to find Alison’s house – The Lady Who Lives In The SatNav having brought me into town in entirely the wrong direction. It was a nice afternon so we went to the English shop for a supplies such as vegan ice cream.

herons Kasteel van Leefdaal belgium eric hallLater on we went for a walk. We discovered a new footpath that eventually took us past the Kasteel van Leefdaal.

Here we could admire the wildlife swimming on one of the many ponds – mostly man-made ponds – around there

Not that I would want to go swimming on a pond like that. There’s that much algae floating aound on top that you could probably walk on it – or, at least, someone lighter than me could. I must keep on with the battle to keep my weight down.

swans Kasteel van Leefdaal belgium eric hallThe Chateau isn’t open to the public unfortunately and it’s hidden behind a rather large wall so you can’t actually see very much of it.

Currently owned by the Counts of Liedekerke it dates from the Renaissance period and replaced a previous building. There is known to have been a building on the site since at least the 12th Century.

Armed with our vegan ice cream, we then went back to Alison’s house for a chat. We must be both getting old because we ended up crashing out in the garden in the sun, something that we found quite amusing, although in fact it was a rather sad indictment of our states of health these days.

Alison had to go out later so I set off through one of the most wicked rainstorms that I have ever encountered. All of the road round by Braine l’Alleud was flooded and the traffic lights at a road junction had failed. That led to certain complications until we all managed to sort ourselves out.

strawberry moose silly belgium eric hallAs well as having A FAVOURITE TOWN IN AUSTRIA Strawberry Moose also has a favourite town in Belgium.

It goes without saying that as we were passing within a mile or two of the place, we had to go there. His Nibs is never one to pass up on a photo opportunity whenever he gets the chance, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall.

Having done that, we headed off down to peruwelz on the Belgian – French border and my hotel. But one look at it convinced me that this was not where I wanted to stay. Crowds of single men loitering outside, sitting on the steps or leaning against the wall. Crowds of them.

It’s the kind pf place that gave me a most uneasy, eerie feeling that I can’t explain. But always having been one to rely on my own intuition, I decided that it wasn’t the place for me so I went elsewhere.

Tea tonight was a plate of chips and a salad, and watching the people coming into the fritkot, I can see immediately why the infection rate in Belgium is so high. Despite all of the precautions that are supposed to be taken, the wearing of masks is, shall we say, rather casual.

And the roads in Belgium are appalling. They are much worse that I ever remembered them. They are just like in a third-world country and for one of the richest countries in the world, it’s an embarrassment.

Tomorrow I won’t have far to go on Belgian roads because I’m close to the frontier here. About a kilometre away, I reckon.

With any luck I’ll be over the border early tomorrow and then a leisurely drive home. It might take a couple of days to make it but I’ll be back by the middle of the week. It’s been a long time