Category Archives: hospital

Wednesday 13th April 2022 – GUESS WHO …

… has a broken kneecap? And for a fourth time too.

The first time was when I went head-over-handlebars on a motorbike when I was 16. The second time was when I slid a motorbike on a greasy road when I was 19 and the weight of two people and the bike itself (a 350cc Triumph) fell on it. The third time was skiing in Scotland when I was in my 20s – and I drove BILL BADGER, my old A60 van, home again.

As for when I did it in the fourth time, all that I can think of is that it was when I had that fall and broke my hand just before I went off on my transatlantic trip across to the High Arctic on THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR in the summer of 2019.

But taking a couple of years to manifest itself (it collapsed last spring, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall) is some going.

Anyway, retournons à nos moutons as they say around here, I had a lie-in this morning. Not that I intended to but at 07:30 – and at 08:00 – I couldn’t summon up the enthusiasm to leave my stinking pit. 09:25 was much more like it.

Having had my medication, sorted out the mails and messages and organised this week’s musical playlist on the computer, I had a listen to the dictaphone. And there was tons of stuff on there too. I’d had a busy night. No wonder I was in no hurry to leave my stinking pit.

The night started off with a huge long rambling dream about refugees. Again I had them with me and I arrived at a railway station. There were rooms above so we took a room above there. We had to carry all of their possessions up into the room above. That meant 4 or 5 trips in the lift to do it. There were all kinds of things happening – there was some objects still stuck in a lift from someone, I kept on bumping into all kinds of old schoolfriends while I was doing it, there was interaction with authority, one of those things that just went on and on and on while we were trying to move these refugees into this room. I’ve missed out most of it I think but the interesting part was of course all these people from school who kept appearing every time the lift either went up or went down and the doors opened. There would always be someone whom I knew waiting there. One person in particular was there once and also other people

So I had these refugees trying to get them into the upstairs room at this station passing by loads of people whom we knew. Some wanted arguments, some wanted help. I had papers from the Red Cross and had to show them. We were going up and down in this lift moving their stuff into this little room. The dream went on like this for ages. We met so many kinds of people and friends and one or two other people who helped us on our way but the farther we could get away from Vienna or Germany or wherever it was the better

My brother had bought a car, a Ford Cortina estate over the internet. A Mark IV model but he said that it was grey so we imagined that it would be the colour of my father’s old one. He was sitting down trying to work out how to get out and get it because his timetable was so full, he was going here and going there, he was having to work something else. In the end it was going to be several weeks before he could get it so I said that I would go for it. It turned out that it was near Foinavon that’s not the name but it’s on the railway line over Slochd Summit so that rules out Forsinard so of course the Inverness train is the place to go. I checked on the timetables, found the correct train and set off. I had to change at a big station to catch one of the stopping trains that went up the Highland line. The train pulled in and I checked with the guard that there was a local service coming up behind. All the doors closed and I thought that I’d missed the opportunity to leave the train but the door was opened from outside so I had to fight my way out. I found myself on some kind of temporary wooden platform which was just framework and no flats. There were people balancing awkwardly on there trying to enter the train and I was trying to alight. Other people who had already alighted were trying to work out how to go down to the main platform. I had to point them the way. This was a scene of total chaos as everyone who alighted from this train onto this wooden framework or whatever was trying to fight their way down to where everyone else was down on the main platform. I was thinking about all the things that needed doing, that I hoped that the car had enough fuel as it was getting late and I imagined that most places for fuel would be closed round here. I’d have to go to Inverness or Stirling or somewhere to fuel up and I hoped that everything else would be OK. I could imagine 1001 things that could go wrong between me picking up the car and brining it back home again.

I don’t know how this one started but I was working in the American embassy doing something, running errands. There was some kind of issue with the Russian desk in this large building and the Russians suddenly started firing loaves of bread over to the Americans. I caught a few and stored them up but they were coming over more and more and more. Eventually there was a pause so I walked across the hall to the Russian desk, found their senior officer, thanked him very much for sending all the bread to me but I told him that I now had enough fresh bread that I needed so if he wanted to send me any more could he make sure that it was frozen so that I could keep it in store. This was greeted by stunned silence throughout the building. After I had said my little piece I walked back to where the American desk was. I was beckoned over to the desk of the Ambassador’s personal secretary. She said “don’t you ever do anything like that ever again” but she was laughing and so was everyone else. I imagined that although i’d been told off, that everyone else was really quite sympathetic and really quite pleased that I’d gone out there and confronted them over it.

We were a big group of teenagers last night wandering around the streets of Crewe. I can’t remember how this worked out but we ended up at the house of a girl to do something. Her mother came to the door and in the end she fetched this girl. We were all around the back having something of a laugh etc. This girl was being quite chatty and quite friendly. Then it became time for us to leave so I asked her for her ‘phone number. She was possibly playing a game and in the end ended up trying to give me her father’s ‘phone number. She said that she could always remember it because it was 8 over 6, the 6 numbers at the end. Of course I immediately told them what it was, which was 675000 (which of course it isn’t). She gradually warmed a bit and in the end asked me for my ‘phone number. I didn’t have a card on me so I had to borrow a card off someone else, try to write my number but we didn’t have a pen that worked. In the end she decided that she would ‘phone me so that I’d have her ‘phone number and she’d have mine. That was what she did. But all of this took ages and there was much more to it than this but I can’t remember now. It was another one of these dreams that slowly developed into something extremely warm and pleasant and the type that I would want to carry on for ever. I awoke in a night sweat, which I haven’t had for a good few months. “I wish that this could have gone on for ever, this particular dream” I said into the dictaphone, so being able to talk like that while I’m asleep shows you exactly what kind of effect it had on me.

But low-flying loaves of bread as well? As I have said before… “and on many occasions too” – ed … what goes on during the night is much more exciting than anything that happens to me during the day these days.

To take me up to shower time I had a play with a few more photos of the High Arctic 2019 and I wish I could remember the name of the hill on which the flagpole is erected at Dundas Harbour on Devon Island. All that I can think of, and I know that it’s not correct, is the painter Samuel Gurney Cresswell who sailed to the High Arctic as Lieutenant with James Clark Ross and then with Robert McClure.

If I had to pick one of my favourite Arctic explorers he would be up there somewhere, not the least for his quote “a voyage to the High Arctic ought to make anyone a wiser and better man”. Well, it didn’t work for me, as the events of the last few days of my 2019 trip bear witness.

After a shower and a weigh-in (and I’ve lost 600g) I had lunch and then cleared off with Caliburn to the physiotherapist. It’s my last session with her today as she moves on to pastures new. She’s fixed me up with a colleague, but I bet that the new girl won’t be anything like as nice as Sonia. She can massage my clavicles any time she likes.

The trip to Avranches was complicated today because of all the roadworks and road closures. I ended up having to meander through the countryside and then it took me a while to find the centre. And when I found the centre, to find the building where I needed to be.

The scanning machine was made by General Electric, one of my former employers, so I knew that it would be good. And eventually they shoved me through it.

The doctor came to see me afterwards and told me about my kneecap, and also the fact there’s some cartiledge damage too. She’ll send a report to my GP who I’ll have to go to see in due course, but I have to be aware that surgery is not ruled out

There was an Intermarché next to the clinic so seeing as it’s been a few years since I’ve had a good look around inside one, I popped in. But there wasn’t anything there much that interested me. I bought one or two bits and pieces and some frozen peas and beans, and that was my lot.

Then I had to fight my way back through the roadworks. And it was good to give Caliburn a decent run-out this afternoon.

Tea was a taco roll (seeing as I had bought some this afternoon) with the left-over stuffing from yesterday, with rice and veg and it really was nice. But I have plenty of mushrooms left so it looks as if it will be a potato and mushroom curry for tea tomorrow.

So a broken kneecap now. Whatever next? At the rate that bits are dropping off me these days I’m at the stage where I’m afraid to go to the toilet.

In fact I haven’t felt so nervous since I was standing in a toilet next to Shakin’ Stevens but that’s another story for another time.

Thursday 7th April 2022 – MY BLOOD PRESSURE …

… is up. When it was checked at the hospital this morning, it was at 168 over 109 and that set all sorts of alarm bells ringing in there.

They have told me to double the dose of certain medication that I take, and to visit my GP for a blood test in 14 days time to see if this extra medication is causing any more problems.

Mind you, had I told them the real reason for the high blood pressure they wouldn’t have done anything at all and allowed it to pass. It’s all to do with the fact that I had a visitor during the night, someone who stayed with me all the way through.

Not Zero though, despite my comments yesterday. In actual fact TOTGA had the call-up last night, and a very young TOTGA it was too. There was a group of us on board a ship – maybe even THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR discussing all kinds of things. For some reason I lay down to sleep under a blanket. It was one of those sleeps where you were asleep but you could hear everything that was going on. They were talking away. I turned over and fell off the seat onto the floor. Everyone came round to see me and to see what I was doing and help me up. Gradually the conversation drifted off and it was just me and TOTGA. I started to become quite familiar with her. I happened to mention that I knew almost everyone on board to which she replied that so did she. She pointed out a few people whom she knew. There were persons who were friends of my mother so she said “let’s go downstairs and see who I know through my grandfather”. At this point I slapped her behind. We were halfway down the stairs when there was a bride and groom coming up. They had married and were travelling on their honeymoon, still in their wedding clothes. They were saying that they had just bought a pub in Alsager and had demolished it and were going to build houses on it. They were really surprised to see TOTGA here. The way that the two of us were fooling around, it was quite obvious to anyone that the two of us were a couple, which would have been quite strange because of the difference between our two ages during this dream but it was pretty clear to everyone. TOTGA knew the bride and that’s how we were talking but it was clear to everyone that the two of us were certainly a couple.

I forgot to mention that the group of us was doing things in music and the reason why the 2 of us were alone was that we had to persuade whoever was supposed to be looking after her that she could come on a tour abroad with the rest of us and play the music and that she’d be fine and well-looked after (clearly whoever writes the script and directs these nocturnal rambles doesn’t know me very well. Since when would TOTGA ever be safe alone with me?) etc but we didn’t reach that point in the dream

Later on I stepped back into this dream where the leader of the orchestra was trying to spit up TOTGA and me. He thought that our relationship was inappropriate but I was so unwilling to give her up and she was so unwilling to give me up. All around us things like Russian songs and Russian poems had been written on the walls of this ship and the 2 of us wrote something on there too but I can’t remember what.

And then I was back in this dream yet again but I missed a lot of the start that I can’t remember that I’d dictated into my hand without the dictaphone being there. The 2 of us were walking down a set of steps with some people whom she knew, her parents or guardians or something. I had my arm around her but considering her age that would be most unlikely. Again we were looking for these musicians, talking about playing in this music group. I’ve missed so much off the start of this with dictating into my hand.

Finally I was back in this dream again. We’d made it to Köln. I came out of the station and onto the square there and was thinking about where we were going to play. It looked very much as if we’d made up our minds so I went back to the station to find everyone else and that’s all that i can remember of this, coming out of the station, making up my mind and going back. But I’m sure that there was a lot more to it that I can’t remember now.

So having spent the whole night in the company of a very young TOTGA and on a very familiar basis too, it’s hardly surprising that my blood pressure was racing. Yours would have been racing too under these circumstances.

When the alarm went off I was already up and about and when the second one went off, I had actually already had a shower. It goes to show that I can do it when I really try.

rebuilding tiensestraat leuven belgium Eric Hall photo April 2022Having made my butties I staggered off outside into the rain and my walk up to the hospital.

At the start of the Tiensestraat where it leaves the Rector de Somerplein I walked past the building that they started to knock about a couple of months ago.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we were lucky enough to have had a peek inside back then but it’s not quite so easy right now with all of the goings-on.

But I’m intrigued to see what they are going to be doing with it. I hope that it’s not going to become another fast-food joint. There are already plenty of those in the town and it would be nice to see something rather more substantial.

photographer rector de somerplein leuven belgium Eric Hall photo April 2022another thing that regular readers of this rubbish will recall is that taking photos of people taking photos is a fairly regular theme that runs through these pages.

Today we have something slightly different, a photo of someone making a film.

Back there where they have the camera, there’s some kind of plaque set in the floor that doesn’t announce anything in particular yet it seems to be of a great interest to the guy with his camera and his assistant.

That prompted me to make a mental note to go for a closer look on the way home but regrettably, it seems that I forgot.

marquee stand demolition site brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric Hall photo April 2022My route carried on through the rain down to the demolition site that was formerly Sint Pieter’s Hospital.

The site over there where there’s the concrete base is where they occasionally erect a marquee when there is something going on in the town but right now there isn’t anything happening anywhere.

But as I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … if they are going to be building some kind of “model village” on this site with expensive apartments and all that kind of thing, they are going to have to do something about the view.

demolition site brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric Hall photo April 2022This isn’t really what you want to see if you’ve shelled out a lot of money for somewhere reasonable to live, is it?

But then again, as we have often said about Belgium, they don’t seem to be in all that much of a hurry to do things around here so I’m not expecting these apartments to see the light of day for quite a while yet. It took them long enough to knock down the hospital.

But as we saw yesterday, the pile of soil on the extreme right seems to be slowly growing. Perhaps one of these days they’ll get round to landscaping part of the site with it. Just imagine the weeds that will be growing in it once the summer arrives.

new building kapucijnenvoer leuven belgium Eric Hall photo April 2022And while we’re on the subject of growing … “well, one of us is” – ed … the newt building in between the Kupicijnenvoer and the Zongang seems to have stopped.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that last time that we are here we saw them caulking the joints where they had installed the windows. This month they have now gone along and installed the exterior cladding.

They have been quite quick doing that, which just goes to show that even Belgian builders can get a move on when they have to. It won’t be long before the tenants start moving in.

It’s not for me though. It’ll be quite dark in there, I reckon. I’ll need more light than they can offer otherwise I’ll wilt.

new building kapucijnenvoer leuven belgium Eric Hall photo April 2022Another new building that has attracted our interest over the last few months is the one that they are erecting further down the Kapucijnenvoer on the other side of the road.

They are making a start on the second floor now and in the normal course of events it shouldn’t take them too long to do that. But the depth of the foundations and the height of the cranes onsite seem to suggest that the building is going to be a lot higher that that.

The size of the underground car park is quite impressive too so I’m intrigued to see how tall the building will be and who is going to occupy it. In Leuven you would think that it would be something to do with the University, but why would they need such a car park?

And the final climb up the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan finished me off. Despite the cooling effect of the rain I was defeated at the halfway mark and had to stop for breath

furniture lift monseigneur van waeyenberghlaan leuven belgium Eric Hall photo April 2022And a couple of places further up the hill too, although one was for a photo opportunity too.

This is something that you don’t see too often, except in Belgium where you find them quite often. Moving house is sometimes complicated when apartment-dwelling is commonplace, and the easiest way to shift your furniture can often be “out of the window”.

That’s where these furniture lifts come in handy. They can do the job in a couple of minutes. When I moved into my apartment in Brussels in 2000 I hired one, but when I finally moved out in 2011 I went out in the hours of darkness via the interior lift.

And so I struggled on up the hill to the hospital. It was a bad day.

At the urology department they poked and prodded me around, took piles of copious notes and weighed me. Despite all of the exercise that I’ve had over the last week I’ve gained 2kg and I don’t know how. And they’ll “get back to me” in due course.

They had already been looking for me at the Haematology Day Clinic so when I arrived they were ready for me. As soon as I walked into the reception she had the paperwork and my ID bracelet all ready. The fact that they are beginning to know me in the hospital is a little disturbing.

With everything ready, I was coupled up quite quickly and I didn’t have to wait very long for the doctor to see me.

She was much more friendly than the one last time but she had no concrete suggestions about my struggles. Next month I have the appointment with the heart specialist and we’ll see what he can suggest.

Having picked up some extra medication I headed for home and halfway down the hill I had a ‘phone call from Urology. “Come back on 5th May”. So that’s now three appointments on that day. Things are obviously reaching a critical point.

bicycle rack kruisstraat leuven belgium Eric Hall photo April 2022Several months ago I noticed that they were installing some cycle racks at the side of the Sin Jakobuskerk.

At the time I speculated that they weren’t likely to see much business because they were rather off the beaten track as far as accommodation goes, and it looks as if I might have been right.

What caught my interest though was the electric bike in the foreground. I noticed that it was carrying some kind of registration plate. As well as that, instead of having a chain it has a synthetic drive belt.

Next time that I’m out and about I’ll have to keep an eye out for what’s happening with this situation. I’ve not encountered it before.

The banana-flavoured soya milk that I love and can only buy in Belgium has now run out so I called into Delhaize for more supplies on the way home. And back here I had a coffee and a chat with Liz before I rather unceremoniously crashed out.

This evening I’m not all that hungry so I’ve just had a couple of biscuits. This weight issue isn’t do to food but to water issues, but even so I should take every opportunity to cut down on my food intake.

So having written my notes I’m going to lounge around for a while before going to bed.

But a whole night with TOTGA! Whatever next?

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.

Friday 17th December 2021 – THAT WAS HORRIBLE

Thy injected me with some kind of radioactive material, and then added a tracer to it. This material stimulated my heart and it becan to beat quite rapidly.

And while all of this was going on that had all kinds of leads attached to me monitoring my stress levels.

After about 20 minutes of this, they put me in a waiting room for half an hour and then fed me through one of these Stargate time-tunnel things for 10 minutes.

Having done that, they then threw me out saying that “we’ll be in touch”.

They didn’t actually throw me out of the hospital though. I only made it as far as the corridor where I had to sit for a while and gather my strength

And I bet that I’ll be glowing in the dark for a few weeks after all of this.

Considering that I had to leave my bed at 06:15, I thought that all of this was rather excessive.

At least the walk to the hospital was rather easier seeing as I didn’t have anything to carry. But it was a strange walk up there in the thick fog that was hanging around everywhere. And even though it was extremely cold I was sweating like a pig. I seem to be pretty hot stuff these days.

On the way home I called at the Origin’O health food shop for some vegan sausages and some seitan slices, and then to the Delhaize for some more banana drink.

This afternoon I alternated between fighting off sleep and choosing the music for the next series of radio programmes. I’m doing my best to get well ahead, for obvious reasons.

There was the disctaphone too. There had been all kinds of adventures taking place on the final day of our trip on THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR when a couple of cruise ships docked at the same place and everyone went ashore to wait for the tide to sail out for their big ships home. We were having all kinds of games in the snow and everything but I can’t remember anything about them now

Later on I was getting ready to go on my holidays and wanted to borrow a roof rack for Caliburn. I noticed that last year I borrowed on and it turned out that I’d borrowed it from Anne-Marie so I telephoned her to see if it was available but it wasn’t now because she was married and it was on the roof of her husband’s car. Ahh well, fair enough. We had a little chat and apparently she was having Monday off work and they were going to look at a new house at Mount Pleasant in Winsford – not a new house but new to them. We had quite a little chat.

Tea tonight was a bag of chips from the fritkot across the road and some baked beans with a couple of the sausages, just for a change.

Now I’m going to do some packing and then go to bed. There’s an alarm call set for 05:00 because I’ll be on my way home.

Thursday 16th December 2021 – THAT WAS A LONG …

… day, right enough. And I felt every minute of it too.

Crawling out of bed at 07:30 was already difficult enough but a shower went some way towards relieving that.

After breakfast I made my sandwiches and set out for the hospital and my 10:15 appointment. I took plenty of photos but you’ll have to wait for a couple of days before you get to see them.

At the hospital I checked in for my … gulp … three appointments and then went off for my first appointment.

“You’ve not had anything to eat this morning, have you?” asked the nurse.
“As a matter of fact I have” I replied
“Well, you shouldn’t have done. We can’t run all the tests on you”.
“No-one ever said anything to me”

The result of this is that I have to go back tomorrow at … errr … 08:15.

So they did what tests they could on me. The nurse was brandishing a very large needle around, so I closed my eyes tightly.

He did what he was supposed to do with the needle and said “you can relax now”.
“No I can’t” I retorted. He doesn’t know me very well, that’s for sure.

There was a half-hour wait and then they had to fun some kind of scan on me. What they had injected into me was some kind of dye to tint my blood so that it would show up on this test thing and they could see how it was circulating when they scanned me.

Once they threw me out I had a two-hour wait before my next appointment – the regular one at the day centre. So what was on the dictaphone?

I was with my friend from Munich. We’d been working somewhere and it was the office outing. We collected a few bits and pieces up together, including my computer and went to the meeting point. Someone said that the coach had gone past but it would be back in half an hour. Half an hour later it turned up and we all boarded. The driver went to sit at the back so I asked if someone else from our office had a PSV licence. The driver replied “oh yes” so I tried to engage my friend and this woman in front in a conversation about it but they were far too busy talking amongst themselves. I was sitting by the window, rather trapped in. The coach eventually set off and I was looking out to sea. I saw something on the horizon, a large rectangular box bouncing around on the sea, then suddenly there was an enormous black cloud of smoke. I wondered if an aeroplane had crashed into the sea and broken up, and leaking fuel had been set alight. But no-one really noticed it except me. They were all far too busy talking. The driver said “that’s nothing to worry about” in a very dismissive tone.

Later on I’d been helping some old people who had a motor trade garage business to move out. They had tons of stuff going back to the 1920s and 30s and it all had to be moved as someone else was taking over their premises. We were moving all of this stuff that was ancient to put it somewhere else. All of a sudden someone turned up with a leaflet saying that the people who had taken over their premises had effectively said that they were taking over the business even though they hadn’t bought the goodwill or anything. This caused quite a stir and quite a problem for these old people with a vehicle but no premises of their own. One of the guys was fuming, going on about how he had been buying receipts to make his expenses look higher. The other guy was totally alarmed about him disclosing this, how it could have them both sent to prison. We ended up with this red double-decker bus. We had to go to the front and pull all of the bodywork and seats out so I went along as well. They were answering questions about this bus, a load of questions but the answers had nothing to do with reality. It was all starting to become very complicated

Once I was signed in at the day centre I had to wait about 45 minutes before they came to see me to couple me up to the transfusion.

Mind you, it was worth the wait because the nurse, called Amber, who came to couple me up can connect me to her equipment any time she likes. There have to be some compensations about being ill.

Having connected me up, they had to come and disconnect me 45 minutes later so I could go for my final appointment. For this, they fed me through something that looked like a time portal, back and forth for about 10 minutes.

They were telling me when (and when not) to breathe as they were doing it and to my shame, I fell asleep in the middle of it. That will make their results quite interesting.

Back at the day centre I was coupled up again to my transfusion and carried on with the treatment, which lasted until 18:30, about which I was not impressed.

The doctor didn’t have my results to hand but she told me that I was in a stable condition. Which probably means that they will want me to sleep with the horses.

Outside, I picked up my medication from the chemists and then headed for home, taking a few more photos of the illuminations around the town that you will get to see in due course.

But you’ll remember that ruined church on the way home. The door was open so I stuck my head inside and saw that some kind of exhibition was taking place. Just a I was about to take a photo some official told me to clear off, so off I cleared.

Back here I didn’t have much to do anything before Alison came round for a coffee and a chat. And she had bought me a Christmas present too. I would have bought her one but with being late out of the hospital everywhere was closed by the time I reached the town. But I promised her something for next time I come.

Tea was rather late as a consequence, and now I’m off to bed. With having to be at the hospital at 08:15 I have to leave here at 07:00 which means that I have to be up and about at 06:30.

So much for my post-treatment lie-in.

Thursday 18th November 2021 – JUST A FEW …

… brief notes because even though it’s not yet 21:00 I’m off to bed. I’ve had a very long an exhausting day and I’ve already crashed out once.

What didn’t help was that I didn’t have much sleep last night. And it wasn’t just a case of tossing and turning, I was off on a few voyages too I was in Bolton last night. I’d gone to see a friend and had ended up at some crossroads not too far from his place. There was something that I had to do and that meant doing it in the college so I walked from the crossroads down the hill turning left down this steep hill through these roadworks and was nearly knocked over by a few bicycles, all this kind of thing. I ended up in Bolton town centre which was a seaport. There were loads of ships around and this huge festival taking place. I had a rough idea where the college was but I hadn’t seen any signs to it. When I reached the town centre I turned left to follow the river with all these fishing boats, even a little toy fishing boat with kids on it pretending to fish. There was a huge display of like artificial city walls with castles, fires and people running around waving a strange red and gold flag. I came to a street that was written in Basque. It said “street of the high college” which I imagined was the road that I wanted. It said “to the south college” also written in Basque even though this was at the north end of the town. I thought that I would go that way. On the way down I’d passed this area where they had loads of garden sheds installed and they were renting these out £48:00 per month for people to use as storage. I thought that that was a good idea for me if I go back, to rent a storage place there and I’d have everything that I needed at my disposal. According to my dictaphone Id walked 15 minutes and 47 seconds before I’d seen this sign to go to the college but it seemed like an awful lot longer than that. And what I couldn’t really understand was that I was so close to seeing Zero again but I turned away instead.

Later on I’d received a message to go to a scrapyard somewhere in the North Midlands in connection with my insurance company. I was in the Opel Senator. I arrived there and someone gave me the precise details of how to park – put the steering wheel at 111° then 1° the other way then 111° the other way. I ended up alongside a compound. While I was waiting a guy came over and opened the door to say something to me and some other guy came along and hobbled in. He said that he was going to Harwood in Essex. Then I realised what this was all about. I was part of some group that would take people to wherever they were going if it was on the way of a journey that you were actually doing. You would basically register your journey and someone would come along and add themselves in. This guy had been in a car crash and his car had been taken here after the crash on the motorway. Because I was going somewhere down south they had patched his journey in with mine and I was to take him home

Leaving the bed was rather difficult an it took me longer than usual to shake a leg. And after checking the mails and medication I selected the music for one of my future radio programmes before heading off to the hospital.

alfa romeo guiletta spyder tiensestraat leuven Belgium photo November 2021How long is it since we’ve seen an old car on these pages?

At one time we used to see them quite regularly but we haven’t seen one for a while, so when this Alfa Romeo Guiletta Spyder went past me in the Tiensestraat I had to take a photo of it.

It’s a shame that the photo has come out blurred but the car came upon me just as I walked around the corner and I didn’t have any time to prepare the camera. In fact, I was lucky that I had the camera to hand.

crane herbert hooverlaan leuven Belgium photo November 2021A little further on down the Tiensestraat I came into the Herbert Hooverplein.

Lifting equipment seems to be all the rage these days. We saw a cherry-picker yesterday in the Martelarenplein as we arrived, and this morning there’s a crane here on the corner of the Tiensestraat and the Herbert Hooverplein.

Mind you, I can’t think what they would be lifting around here that would need a crane of this size to lift it. It’s an impressive piece of machinery. However the lorry in the background with the scaffolding might give us a clue as to what is happening here.

interior of old shop rector de somerplein leuven Belgium photo November 2021There have been quite a few changes of occupancy in the Rector de Somerplein just recently, and there looks like there might be another one in the offing.

There’s another shop-cum-office premises here that has been looking rather shabby over the past couple of years and as I walked past today it looks as if someone is finally doing something about it.

They are busy ripping out the ceiling at the back but that’s all that I could see and there was no notice or anything on the door to hint at what was going on. So I’ll have to keep my eye open on this place and see how things develop.

site of marquee brusselsestraat leuven Belgium photo November 2021Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that last time that we were here there was some kind of marquee at the back of the velodrome on the site of St Pieter’s Hospital.

That has gone the way of the west right now and the place is almost empty. They have even taken away the potted palm trees that were there.

However, the guy who is there looks as if he’s doing something quite interesting although I can’t see what it is from here and I didn’t want to go over there and disturb him.

demolition site brusselsestraat leuven Belgium photo November 2021On the other side of the velodrome I couldn’t see much that has been removed since I was here last.

Not enough to create that extremely large pile of rubble though. And I seem to remember as well that there was a huge hole there too, so there’s more in that rubble than meets the eye.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall having seen the site plans for this area. It’s all going to be apartments, shops and a small park, so maybe the rubble is for use in the building programme that might be under way soon.

medieval tower demolition site brusselsestraat leuven Belgium photo November 2021While I’m here, I had to go and look at the old medieval tower.

Prior to the demolition of the hospital here I had no idea that this tower existed. Behind me alongside the river is 100 metres or so of city wall of this are and we’ve seen a few scattered bits and pieces here and there, but I thought that that was that.

At least they have done something to protect the tower from damage from all of the building work that’s being undertaken here and who knows? They might even restore it. It’ll be interesting trying to find the matching stone.

house building zongang leuven Belgium photo November 2021Another thing that regulr readers of this rubbish will recall seeing is the building that’s taking place in the Kapucijnenvoer that’s backing onto the Zongang.

There was a beautiful building that was uncovered when the previous building on that site was demolished and I’ve commented in the past that building a building of this type is going to make that nice little building really dark.

As you can see, I’m not wrong either. And as the sun sinks even lover in the sky it’s going to be even darker. There are building regulations in many countries about heights of buildings relating to widths of streets and I’m intrigued to know what the position is in Belgium.

But that’s fir another day. I pushed on towards the hospital.

roadworks monseigneur van waeyenberghlaan leuven Belgium photo November 2021Up at the top of the Monseigneur Van Waeyenberghlaan they were busy digging up the grass verge.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that several months ago we saw them digging up the verge just here and laying a pile of cables, so I wonder what has caused them to dig it up again.

When I arrived at the hospital, first port of call was the cardiologist. He ran exactly the same series of tests that I’d had in France a few weeks ago. And when he’d finished I could stagger off to the day centre for my usual treatment.

In the middle of that they called me back down to the cardiology department so I had to be uncoupled from my machine and go off on the Great Trek downstairs. After waiting for a while they gave me an electrography scan, just like I’d had at the cardiologist’s in France. And surprise, surprise. The results were the same too.

THe net result of all of this is that they are going to consider the results and see me in 4 weeks time when I’m next back for my treatment.

Back in the day centre they had an extreme amount of difficulty restarting the machine that pumps the plasma into me and as a result it was long past 18:00 when I finished there.

Having picked up my medication at the chemist’s (and doing my best to cut down on my medication I’m now up to 13 tablets each day) I headed off into town.

site of marquee velodrome brusselsestraat leuven Belgium photo November 2021A little earlier, we’d seen a man messing about at the back of the Velodrome in the Brusselsestraat.

Of course, it’s dark now when I came back this way and they have installed some form of lighting in the area. I wonder if he was actually connecting it up to the mains electricity just now.

It’s not exactly what I would call “artistic” but I suppose that it’s better than nothing. It’s just a shame that it’s lighting up a bed of compressed rubble but I don’t imagine that they will be doing much to it as there will be some permanent redevelopment here in due course.

christmas lights brusselsestraat leuven Belgium photo November 2021Back in the Brusselsestraat, going up the hill towards the Town Centre, they’ve installed the Christmas lights and they are now switched on.

Unfortunately they are the same as last year’s lights, and the year before, and so on und so weiter. It’s not just Granville that is lacking in imagination when they come to light up the town.

As you might expect, at this time of the evening my favourite supermarket was closed. I shall have to go elsewhere to buy my food for tea tonight and tomorrow. It’s a shame that I wasn’t able to make it to the big supermarket yesterday afternoon.

town hall grote markt leuven Belgium photo November 2021In the Grote Markt the Town Hall is all lit up again.

Usually, the colours of the lights change all the way through the ranges of blue and red, but as I watched the lights didn’t change colour at all. Maybe it will be different in a couple of days when everything is installed and working correctly.

The supermarket down the road is more expensive than the ones that I usually use, but at least it’s open so I can at least buy some food for tea. There’s not much choice either so I’m going to have to make do with falafel tonight and tomorrow

Now I’ve finished tea, I’m off to bed. It’s miles walking around one of the largest hospitals in the world and I’m up to 140% of my daily activity. No wonder I’m exhausted.

Here’s hoping for a good night’s sleep and that I’ll be fighting fit in the morning.

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

Thursday 18th August 2021 – THAT WAS A …

… much better night last night, due to the fact that there wasn’t any noise from the neighbouring room. Mind you, there’s some noise coming from there now so here’s hoping that they’ll shut up in due course before bedtime.

It still didn’t make for an uninterrupted sleep because I was off on my travels during the night and I must have gone for miles. I started off in the USA travelling south and I’d come into Georgia, still travelling south and something must have happened because the next thing that I remember was that I was in a car with half a dozen other people. The woman was driving so recklessly through these roadworks, knocking over all these bollards. We’d been driving down a highway and now we were threading our way through a town. Two of these people were talking about how grateful they were to this woman for picking them up because they would never have found someone else going their way after they had been rear-ended in their car. They were chatting away and I thought to myself that pretty soon I’m going to be going into a couple of new States that I don’t know. So I asked “how far are we from the Georgia Florida border?” The woman replied “we’ll be crossing the border in about an hour or so”. The dawn was just so dramatic. It changed from a dark night to bright sunlight in an instant. I saw that the sun was about a quarter high so I thought that I must have gone to sleep or something. We were talking about race cars. They were mocking my English language about Wimbledon so we ended up talking about tractor pulling. The guy said that he’d be too scared to try tractor pulling because that’s really something.

Later on I was in the far north of Canada somewhere with my friend from Munich, standing on a clifftop watching events unfolding. Dawn was just breaking. We’d been around and I don’t know where but we’d ended up somewhere near a village. It had only been the smaller schoolchildren who had gone to school that day. As dawn started to break there were sounds of sirens or a horn and I thought that it must be an icebreaker coming down the river. I wondered if it would be Terry Fox, the icebreaker that I knew. So we looked and it was a heavy lorry coming down there zigzagging from side to side as if to flatten all of the streets, going downhill backwards to this village. We went down to see and by now all the schoolchildren were assembling, all ages, ready to go into school. There was a shop there that we came across because we followed the lorry and it had stopped there to get diesel. We walked into this shop with all of these schoolkids around, looking at us because we were dressed differently and looked differently. It was a second-hand place with loads of second-hand books and everything. There wee a few guitars there so my idea was that we would have an impromptu concert but all the strings had been knotted together so we couldn’t actually play anything on them. That was a really disappointing thing because we were hoping to have a little bit of fun with them.

Later still I was at my lock-up at Smallman Road and it was in a terrible mess. My brother was there and he started to help me tidy up, something about which I wasn’t very happy because when people start tidying up you don’t know where they put things and you never find them But after half an hour it made an enormous difference and you could actually walk around places which you hadn’t done in there for years. I then suggested o get the stuff out of Caliburn like the two spare wheels and a pile of boxes, the snow chains and everything. That was what we did and started moving stuff around out of Caliburn but somehow I became all oily and we were going to be really dirty and getting these tyres out of the back and so on.

Somewhere along the way I was standing in a queue behind a woman who was buying pieces of broken chocolate but she took so long trying to take her money from her purse that I was sure that I was going to miss what I was going to do and I wished that she would get a move on.

After the exertions of the last couple of days I stayed in bed until 10:00 and when I eventually rose again from the dead I went and had my medication. After that I chose the music for another radio programme. That’s three now that I’ve done and I’ll do the fourth tomorrow, I reckon.

After I’d made my sandwiches I headed off to the hospital for my appointment.

summer flowers herbert hooverlaan leuven belgium Eric HallMy perambulations at lunchtime took me past the Herbert Hooverplein.

No market there this morning, and so instead I could admire the flowers. I’m not a flower person – in fact I once told my friend Lorna that the only time that you would find a flower on any photo that I took would be if there were an old car parked on top of it – but these are particularly beautiful.

As you might expect, I have no idea what kind of flowers these might be. “Yellow and white ones” would be my best guess.

cycling fitness machine grote markt leuven belgium  Eric HallFrom there I pushed on down the hill to the town centre and the Grote Markt.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that last time we were here we saw this container with a couple of exercise bicycles in it. And I’ve finally worked out what its purpose is.

It seems that in about 30 days time there will be some kind of cycling World Championships taking place and this is some kind of advertisement to publicise the event.

We’ll see how events unfold here over the course of the next few weeks.

river dijle leuven belgium Eric HallAnother thing that regular readers of this rubbish will recall is that a month ago we had all of the rain and all of the floods in Belgium

At the height of the storm the river LOOKED LIKE THIS and you can see how different the river is today. The doorway down there shows that there was a couple of feet of difference in the height of the river.

The country is still reeling from the effects of the storm, but luckily we here in Leuven didn’t suffer very much – not half as much as some places over in the east by the German border.

demolition at rear of sint rafael hospital kapucijnenvoer leuven belgium Eric HallAs I pushed along the Brusselsestraat on the way to the hospital, I checked the big building site here.

They have swept away all of what was the Sint Pieter’s Hospital and it seems that they are now starting to demolish the rear of the Sint Rafael Hospital. This is certainly some kind of new development that wasn’t here last time I was in Leuven.

This part of the redevelopment of the site is something that I hadn’t seen on the plans so I’ll be very interested to see how this particular story unfolds.

soil deposited at sint pieters hospital brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric HallPart of the plans for the redevelopment of the site include some landscaping of the area.

Something else that has turned up on the site since I was last here is a couple of lorry-loads of what looks like soil.

Presumably they are going to bulldoze it all over the site, and I hope that they will plant bushes and trees there as well while they are at it.

Here in the centre of the town there aren’t anything like enough trees and other greenery to revitalise the atmosphere and no effort should be spared to make the place look environmentally friendly.

old medieval tower brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric HallAfter they cleared away the building and the rubble we noticed that there was an old medieval tower left behind on the site that had been obscured.

It has been protected by scaffolding and there’s some metal sheeting to cover it over. But right now it seems that they are starting work on restoring it – and not before time either. It should look really nice when it’s finished – I hope.

The walk up the hill to the hospital was a nightmare. I had to stop about a dozen or so times in order to catch my breath and when I finally reached the hospital I was obliged to take the escalator up to the first floor.

That’s something that has not happened since I first came here 5 years ago and it’s definitely a backward step.

The nurse who attended to me was very sweet and she can come and massage my clavicles any time she likes. The doctor on the other hand was somewhat lacking in his approach and I don’t think that he’ll be working long in the profession.

He certainly didn’t have the interest in his task – whenever I mentioned something else that was the problem it was “see your GP about that” – except that he said it in French because that the language that he used to speak to me. He didn’t have the least curiosity and that’s no good for a doctor.

My blood count has gone up from 9.0 to 9.2 although it doesn’t seem anything like it. There’s definitely some other underlying problem with the health issues that I’m having right now.

While I was here I made a start on transcribing the dictaphone notes (hence today’s notes) but Alison popped by to see me so we ended up chatting instead. I’ll have to do the outstanding notes tomorrow, unless something else crops up in the meantime.

building site kapucijnenvoer leuven belgium Eric HallOn the way home I went to have a look at the various building projects in the Kapucijnenvoer.

The big building that is receiving all of their attention right now is advancing. Not exactly quite rapidly but there is a great deal of surface area that is involved in this particular project and the volume alone will count for a lot.

It’s going to be quite a while before the building appears above ground level and judging by the thickness of the walls it’s going to be quite a substantial building too that is going to tower up above the surrounding building.

more demolition Onze Lieve Vrouwstraat Leuven belgium Eric HallMeanwhile, while I was looking at the groundwork here with one of my eyes the other eye was off roaming about examining what was going on in the background.

There’s part of this complex that runs round the back of the Onze Lieve Vrouwstraat in the distance and it looks as if they are now making a start on demolishing part of that – something else that I haven’t noticed on the plans of the site.

It seems that they are going to be making quite a clean sweep of the area and while I’m not sorry to see much of it go, there are some parts of it that have a certain something that will be missed when it’s gone.

building site kapucijnenvoer zongang leuven belgium Eric HallOn the way home I wandered off down the Kapucijnenvoer to look at the other building site that backs onto the Zongang.

While I was on my way up to the hospital there was a lorry there with the site crane lifting from the trailer a pile of concrete sheets that are presumably going to be the flooring. But by the time that I came back, they had all gone.

But the building is shooting up quite quickly, much quicker than we would expect, bearing in mind the speed at which other building projects are carried on in the town. Normally they take an age but they aren’t hanging around with this one.

building site kapucijnenvoer zongang leuven belgium Eric HallBut I don’t imagine that the people who are living in that nice house in the Zongang are particularly happy about this building.

While I was passing I peered through the new building out to the back, and you can see how closely they have built this structure to the house behind. This is going to cut out all of the light that would otherwise fall on the building.

There’s supposed to be a parking place for each of the apartments too and I’m not sure how they are going to fit any of that in on the site or in the little yard at the back.

site plan sint pieters hospital brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric HallOn my way back home I went to have a look at the site plan of the redevelopment to see what this new series of demolitions might mean.

Unfortunately I didn’t check it as thoroughly as I might because I was rather distracted by the noticeboard giving the explanations. And I wonder what exactly is a “Honkhuis”. My imagination is running wild right now.

And so I’ll have to have a look at the noticeboard next time I go past there and make better notes of how the site is going to evolve. But at least I did notice that the culvert that covers the river there is going to be removed and the river will be exposed once more to the open air.

man running dog around velodrome brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric HallThere is of course the new velodrome that they have built on the site of the old hospital.

On my way past it to the hospital there was no-one actually using it so I refrained from taking a photo, thinking that I’ll catch someone using it on the way back and photograph it then.

There was indeed someone using it, but not a cyclist. When I arrived some little girl was just cycling away from it with her mother. Instead I caught a man taking his dog for a run around it.

Not the best use of the velodrome, I have to say. I was expecting it to be much more popular with the youngsters than it seems to be.

new hardstanding brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric HallThere’s some more work that’s been undertaken on the site since we were last here.

We now seem to have some kind of hardstanding behind the velodrome, surrounded by a load of potted palms or whatever they might be. The purpose of this hardstanding is a mystery to me.

The way back home was accomplished without as much effort as I was expecting. I stopped at the chemist’s on the way back but she didn’t have everything that I needed so I’ll have to go back there tomorrow to pick up everything. I can do that while I’m having a little walk about

Now that I’ve had tea, and the music seems to have quietened down for a moment, I’m going to go to bed. No alarm in the morning – I’m going to have yet another lie-in. So here’s hoping that no-one manages to disturb me during the night.

Friday 16th July 2021 – HOW LONG IS IT …

modern morgan 3 wheeler predikherenstraat Leuven Belgium Eric Hall… since these pages have featured an old car?

At one time it used to be quite regular but these days it’s a lot more rare than it ought to be. And unfortunately, this vehicle here isn’t as old as it looks either.

As I was wandering down the Brusselsestraat on my way home I happened to glance down the Predikherenstraat where I saw this.

At first I thought that my luck was in and it might have been a real Morgan three-wheeler but unfortunately I was not labouring long under a disillusion

modern morgan 3 wheeler predikherenstraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallOne glance at the engine was enough to tell me.

ThIs engine is not a nice big 998cc JAP V-twin but an S and S engine, which tells me that this vehicle is less that 8 years old.

And that’s rather a disappointment because I’m really looking forward to finding an original JAP-engined Morgan from the 1920s and 1930s.

So after having taken a few photographs and having had a chat with another admirer I made my way back into town.

But all of that comes later. We need to start at the beginning.

When the alarm went off I was up early this morning and after the medication I came in here to transcribe my dictaphone notes. I was very much persona non grata at some kind of do involving my family and a couple of girls from my class at Grammar School. I can’t remember what it was about but something came up about, was it Welsh Independence or something? They were all sitting there saying that it’s all been done wrong and if it had been organised correctly they should have done this and this and this. I replied “if you don’t like the way it’s done don’t vote for it” so they said they weren’t and it became something of a slanging match. The younger girl who was there was then talking about a few things “well so-and-so will be coming and we’ll be having to do this down in somewhere” something or other and I was of the opinion that she was having a visitor but I couldn’t understand what it was all about obviously, having been left out of the loop for half a story so I checked my diary. There was nothing in my diary so I thought that I’d better write down a few notes. I went to the drawer to find a pencil. My mother asked me what I was doing. I replied that I was looking for a pencil. I found one but it wasn’t sharpened so I needed to find the sharpener to sharpen the pencil to jot down a few of these notes.

As well as all of that I fell asleep too. Only for about half an hour or so but nevertheless …

At about 08:45 I headed out to the hospital for my appointment.

market herbert hooverplein Leuven Belgium Eric HallSeeing all of the people walking along the Tiensestraat loaded up with all kinds of shopping tells me that it’s market day today, as if I wouldn’t have known it anyway.

Here at the Herbert Hooverplein is where it all begins and it spreads out through the Ladeuzeplein and down to the Bondgenotenlaan, swallowing up that whole area.

In the past we’ve been for a wander around the market but unfortunately today we don’t have time. I’m on my way to the hospital for my dermatology session. And so I pushed on down the hill in the Tiensestraat towards the city centre

Halfway down the hill I was almost squidged by a lorry that was reversing back up again having presumably made a delivery there.

cycling energy sprint oud markt Leuven Belgium Eric HallThe previous day I’d noticed something unusual in the Oud Markt – some kind of shipping container with a display screen outside it.

Today it was open so I could see what was happening in there. What we have are a few exercise bikes in there and people can go for a ride on them. Presumably the distance and speed that they travel is added onto the figure shown on the screen.

Normally I would have loitered around to see of anyone was going to have a go and if the total on the screen would increase but there wasn’t anyone around and I couldn’t wait all that long for someone to turn up.

river dijle brusselsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallDown at the foot of the hill is the River Dijle.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, we’ve had an unbelievable amount of rain over the last 24 hours and it’s caused all kinds of devastation in the eastern part of the country.

The level of the river has risen quite appreciably since the rain started and even since I last saw it yesterday afternoon it’s risen by another few inches. Not quite as high as it was that day in 2016 when I was living here but another day or two of this weather will deal with that.

That rainstorm yesterday morning was terrific, in many senses of the word.

medieval tower sint pieters hospital brusselsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that yesterday I talked about the old medieval tower that has now been unveiled to public view following the demolition of Sint Pieter’s Hospital.

Yesterday I’d photographed it by accident because I didn’t know that it was there. But now I do I went there forewarned and forearmed this morning and found a spec where there was a much better view.

It’s protected by scaffolding and corrugated sheeting so that seems to imply that it’s not going to be demolished during the redevelopment of the site and it might even be restored as part of this project that’s ongoing with the city walls further along at the side of the river.

There is some talk about uncovering the river just here too, and that will be interesting if they do that.

bicycle racks kruisstraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallAnother thing that regular readers of this rubbish will recall is that a couple of months ago we saw them installing a set of bicycle racks in a couple of car parking spaces in the Kruisstraat.

At the time I remember speculating that these bicycle racks wouldn’t be receiving much use as there wasn’t a great deal of accommodation in the area

Nothing that I have seen since has changed my opinion. Despite there being space for about 40 bicycles here, there’s not even a handful and that’s how it’s been every time that I’ve walked past.

Sometimes it’s very difficult to actually work out what is going on in the minds of the City Fathers when they do things like this .

tactile pavement goedsbloemstraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallAnother thing that regular readers of this rubbish will recall seeing are the roadworks around the Monseigneur van Weyenberghlaan and the Goedsbloemstraat.

Last time we were here we saw them finishing off the Goedsbloemstraat, working on the pavement by the traffic lights. What they were doing, which they have now finished, was to install some tactile paving, the corrugated pavement that gives indications to blind people that they are approaching an obstruction.

Regular readers of this rubbish in one of its previous guises will recall that I once met the girl who designed this tactile paving and we had a little thing going on that unfortunately led nowhere

When I arrived at the hospital I was channelled into the Dermatology clinic where the young trainee doctor poked and prodded me and took sample of my skin. She left me alone for 40 minutes too during which time I … errr … dozed off.

When she returned she had a chat with me about my skin issues, gave me a few prescriptions and then told me to clear off. They will “be in touch”.

On the way back to my digs I went to retake the photos that I didn’t take yesterday.

new building zongang kapucijnenvoer Leuven Belgium Eric HallWhen the NIKON 1 J5 died on me, I was on my way to take a photo of the new building that’s going up between the Kapucijnenvoer and the Zongang.

And having complained quite long and quite loudly of the Byzantine pace of construction etc in Belgium, then perhaps I should try not to be so vocal in future because they are cracking on with this. It’s going up like a mushroom.

The big difference, I suppose, is that this is a private enterprise building a private building for resale to the general public, rather than a Public Authority work. The quicker it goes up, the quicker the developers can recover their cash.

Nevertheless I suppose that someone will remind me of this in 6 months time when the construction has stalled.

kids on bikes velodrome brusselsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallYesterday we went past this new velodrome that they have constructed. And what with the torrential downpour that we were having, there wasn’t anyone riding around it.

Today of course, the situation is different. The boards are now dry and all of the local kids have descended on the place. A few of them are gingerly feeling their way around whereas one or two of them really have got the hang of the principle of a banked velodrome and are pelting round it.

And like most things involving kids, it all ended in tears a few minutes later in a tangle of kids and bicycles as one came to grief and brought down half a dozen of the others. That was rather odds-on, wasn’t it?

market bondgenotenlaan Leuven Belgium Eric HallHaving dealt with the Morgan, the next couple of photos are going to be quite interesting.

This one here and the one below represent the same image more-or-less, but taken in different ways.

The first one is actually a still taken from a moving picture. I was interested to see what size the resolution of the video would be when I tried it on different screens, but the size of the screen didn’t seem to be an issue.

market bondgenotenlaan Leuven Belgium Eric HallNevertheless I took a still from the video to compare it to a still image.

As you can probably see, there’s quite a difference in quality as you might expect when the full-size images are compared, but reduced to the resolution that I use for publication, the difference is not all that much, which is a pleasant surprise.

Why can’t my dashcam produce images of this quality?

Feeling that I’d earned myself a little treat after my exertions, I stopped off halfway up the hill for an ice cream

medication Leuven Belgium Eric HallJust up the road is a pharmacy so I went there with my prescriptions to have them dealt with.

For someone who said that he wanted to cut down on his medication, just look at all of this. It’s going to be something of a logistics issue just taking this lot home with me on the train. It’s a good job that I have a decent shopping bag with me.

And the cost was astonishing, which is hardly a surprise when you see the amount that I was given. My bill at the pharmacy came to €253:00 which is the same as a year’s expenditure on food, I suppose. When I return home I shall have to send in my accounts to my insurers and see about some reimbursement.

This afternoon fighting off the sleep (not always successfully, I have to mention), after lunch I sorted out the music for three new radio programmes, so that’s another batch of all done and dusted. Things are doing rather well from that point but I need to have a go at a few live programmes.

nissan motor car tiensestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallSome of the medication wasn’t available at lunchtime so I had to go back before they closed in the evening to pick it up.

But the number plate of this car parked outside appealed to my rather juvenile mind. I was thinking that it would be appropriate for quite a few people whom I’ve encountered.

One (or rather, two) of the items that the chemist gave me filled me full of dismay. It looks as if we’re back on the elastic stockings too. More and more, I can see myself returning to early 2016 and that’s not very good news..

After tea, I’ve done some tidying up and washing up and now I’m off to bed. Early of course, but I have to leave my bed at about 04:30. So I’ll finish this off tomorrow on the train (if I don’t fall asleep on the way back) and post it on line tomorrow night.

You’ve heard that before, haven’t you?

Thursday 17th June 2021 – THEY DIDN’T KEEP …

… me in the hospital. They soon kicked me out of the hospital yesterday and I’m back in my comfy little digs now where I started out this morning.

When the alarm went off this morning I awoke in a really damp sweat again. I staggered out of bed at 06:00 and the first thng that I did after that was to listen to the dictaphone. there were a couple of files on there – one from two nights ago that I had yet to transcribe, and the one for last night.

This was something like I’d joined the Army and I had a whole list of things that I wanted to do. One of the things was to go for a whole series of medical examinations but the map was so confusing and the details so confusing that I wasn’t sure when or where to go. In the end I set off to try to find the place. It was a staggering set of old buildings, old ruined medieval towers propped up with wood, old burnt-out houses, two cars that had collided outside a house all entangled in a big heap of metal. Just totally strange. Luckily I met one of the professors whom I knew and I asked her where I was supposed to go. She pointed me to the place, just opposite the shop. She showed me a side street as well and said “down there is the French educational building” or French school or whatever. So I set off for my medical.

So having dealt with that, I made a start on writing up the blog but the next thing that I remember was at it was 08:00. I’d crashed out for about an hour or so sitting on my sofa. But once I pulled myself round, made myself a coffee and carried on with the notes.

Once they were published I made some toast for breakfast and then chose the music for the next radio programme.

A shower and a clothes-washing session was next, followed by making my sandwiches ready for the hospital, and then I hit the streets.

people at tables in street tienestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallAnd it was nice to see so many people taking advantage of the easing of the Corona Virus situations.

In the beautiful sunny weather and at lunchtime too there were crowds of people sitting at tables at the various restaurants in the town, like here in the Tienesestraat. And beautiful weather it was too. Summer has arrived at long last and the restrictions have been eased in time for people to enjoy it.

But I can’t help the feeling in the back of my mind that all of this is happening far too soon. We’ve already seen that the ease in restrictions in the UK has led to a rise in cases from less than 2,000 per day to the figure today of 11,007.

But as REACT – the body that surveys the spread of the virus in the UK – has said, the UK’s policy of just a single vaccination has been a failure. At least, in Europe, they’ve concentrated on double vaccinations.

road works amerikalaan, Franz Tielemanslaan brusselsestraat Leuven belgium Eric HallCarrying on down the hill through the town centre and out the other side, I came to the road junction of the Brusselsestraat, the Amerikalaan and the Franz Tielemanslaan

When we were here last month we had seen them working on the pavement there doing some remodelling. They seem to have advanced quite nicely with that and I do have to say that while I’m not too keen on the brickwork for the cycle path, it’s a vast improvement on the slabs of asphalt that they used in the Monseigneur Van Waeyenbeghlaan.

They seem to have moved on now and are doing some kind of work on the little square that is build over the River Dijle at the back. It’s going to be interesting to see what they are going to do there and how it’s going to look when it’s all finished.

velodrome brusselsestrat Leuven belgium Eric HallWhile we’re on the subject of how things are going to look in the future, I went along the Brusselsestraat to see how things were developing at the site of St Pieter’s hospital that they have spent the last year or so demolishing.

Part of the site has been cleared and they were erecting a huge wooden structure in the place of part of it.

There was a guy standing underneath a parasol nearby who came over to chat with me.He told me that they were building a velodrome on the site. Apparently it’s going to take 6 years for the whole of the site to be cleared and redeveloped, so as a temporary measure, they are erecting this velodrome.

The velodrome is expected to be there for three years before they will be starting to redevelop this part of the site.

clearing site of sint pieter's hospital brusselsestraat Leuven Eric HallAs for the rest of the site, they are clearing the site fairly rapidly as you can see.

They seem to have ground up the rubble into a fine powder and now they are loading it up onto a series of lorries which will presumably take it off to another site to use as infill or as part of a mix for some new concrete somewhere.

But it’s going to be a long time, I reckon, before they uncover the river that runs underneath the site. That’s certainly the plan, but we shall have to see how things develop.

Right now though, I’m continuing down the street on my way towards the hospital There is still plenty to see.

bicycle racks kruisstraat leuven Belgium Eric HallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that last time that we were here we saw them erecting some bicycle racks in the Kruisstraat. I mentioned at the time that I couldn’t see why they were erecting them there as there weren’t the clients there to use them.

Now that they have been here for four weeks we can see how things are developing here. And it looks as if my assumptions were correct because there can’t be more than half a dozen bikes and scooters there. Not like the bike racks elsewhere that are bursting to overflow.

At the hospital they gave me a Covid test, which was negative, of course. Then they took a blood sample and coupled me up to the stuff that they pump into me. And I had an interesting trilingual chat with the nurse who was dealing with me.

The doctor who came to see me told me that my blood count had increased to 8.9 and so I can go home. There’s no reason for the increase that I can see, and it certainly doesn’t seem like it. All that I can say is that Liz Messenger’s cake contains many secret ingredients and has magic properties.

But the doctor didn’t really have too many answers for the other points that I raised – the night sweats, the increase in weight and all of that. But next time that I come, I have four appointments at different units of the hospital, and we shall see how things develop at that point.

vegetarian menu frittoerist sint jacobsplein leuven belgium Eric HallOn the way home I walked down the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan towards the Sint jacobsplein when the menu at the Frittoerist, the Fritkot in the Sint Jacobsplein.

It shows you how much things have evolved these days when even a fritkot can offer a vegetarian menu to the public. Mind you, this is Leuven, a town full of students where I’m sure that they outnumber the locals, as anyone who remembers my desperate search for accommodation here 5 years ago will recall.

At least the fritkot is open and accessible. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that the street here in front of the fritkot and the square behind it were dug up for well over a year and access to the place was rather difficult. Clambering over a pile of bricks and mud was not the easiest way to go about buying a cornet de fritjes.

building site kapucijnenvoer leuven belgium Eric HallDown at the end of the street is the street known as the Kapucijnenvoer where there is more building work being undertaken.

They are progressing with the development of this site, pourig ton after ton of concrete into the place. The base is now concreted over and they are building some kind of rooms down there. These might be private cellars for the residents or they might be machinery rooms for lifts, air conditioning, power plants and the like.

The rest of the subterranean labyrinth is quite possibly going to be used as a car park, but there is no ramp installed there right now.

And you can see the red-capped metal strengthening bars. It looks as if they are going to be building concrete pillars to support the building that’s going to be erected here. And by the diameter of the pillars, it’s going to be some substantial building.

building site kapucijnenvoer zongang leuven belgium Eric HallThere’s another building site in the Kapucijnenvoer on which we are keeping an eye. It’s the one in between the Kapicijnenvoer and the Zongang.

They seem to be making some rather rapid progress on this particular site and that makes quite a change here in Belgium. It’s going to be some kind of block of flats by the looks of things, but on a restrictive site like that, the apartments are going to be rather restricted in size. It’s another one of these “we shall have to see” situations.

All that I can say is that it’s a shame that the nice building behind it that was revealed by the demolition of whatever was on this site previously is going to be obscured by the building that they are erecting. And I can bet my bottom dollar that whatever they are going to erect here won’t be anything half as attractive as the building behind it.

digger being taken away from building site sint pieters hospital brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric HallBack now in the Brusselsestraat on the way into the city centre I went past the site of the demolition of St Pieters hospital.

And to my surprise there’s a big lorry here that seems to be taking away one of the big machines that has been working on the site for the past ever so many months.

What is so surprising about this is that even though the building has been brought down, they are still a long way from clearing the site. And with them in the near future having to lift the culvert off the river here, they are going to need all of the heavy equipment that they can get.

Maybe they are taking it off to work elsewhere and they’ll be bringing it back in due course when it’s needed back here.

crowds of people watching football zeelstraat leuven belgium Eric HallOne of the things that I have to do today is to go along to the bank and withdraw some money as I’m rather short of ready cash.

Going into the town wentre the crowds of people were all sitting on seats in the public areas watching the football, just like here in the Zeelstraat. Belgium are playing Denmark in the European Championships and it seems to be the thing here that rather than sit lone in the comfort and privacy of your own home, you go out and sit in the square with the crowds.

Having arranged some cash I set off to meet Alison and while I was on my way through one of the back squares stumbled across a new ice cream parlour. They had two varieties of vegan ice-cream – chocolate and moka – so despite the dreadful service in the place I eventually walked away with my prize.

Alison and I went for a meal at the Greenway Vegan Restaurant. I had a red pepper burger and Alison had a Thai wrap. And then we went off for a coffee and a chat.

Aliso had to leave early so I came back home – totally hot and sweaty, drained of blood and having walked 124% of my daily activity. No wonder I was exhausted. And so I hauled myself off to bed thinking that I will write up my notes tomorrow.

Friday 28th May 2021 – I HAVEN’T BEEN …

… discharged from the hospital, it seems that I’ve been expelled.

And I heard at least one nurse say “if he comes back, then I’m leaving!”.

So right now I’m sitting on my comfy sofa back in my room in the Dekenstraat here. I’ve had to re-book it again but I found it just as I left it, with my frozen food still in the freezer and the cold stuff still in the fridge. Just like old times.

What was also like old times was that I almost fell sleep watching a film last night. I summoned up enough energy to switch off the laptop before collapsing and that was basically that until the nurses awoke me at 07:30.

2 files on the dictaphone though. It must have been a busy night. There was something going on between me and my brother. Someone else stepped in and said that he was going to fence off half of this ground and I wasn’t going to be allowed on it . I thought “yes, try and stop me”. He was extremely insistent and extremely unpleasant with it as well so we were walking off across a field somewhere and we came to a river or canal. There was some kind of activity taking place on the other side that involved processions. I noticed that half of it had been closed off as well. There was a really strong wind and I had some kind of tap washer or rubber seal joint type of thing. It suddenly blew our of my hands and in a big circuit up in the air and then blew round and blew back again much to the astonishment of this little boy in this procession. We had a laugh about that and someone else said “yes, he’s going to do something else spectacular in a minute”. I wondered what this procession was about, closed off on half of this ground by this net that went across this canal and what was going on on the other half. As I said, someone said that we couldn’t go that way but that kind of net wasn’t going to stop me no matter how offensive and aggressive that other guy had been towards me in the matter of how talking to my brother had been.

Later on we’d been doing some plumbing repairs in the house of a girl we knew at school, at least it was a house somewhere near Acton. I turned up with some guy who was going to do the work, and a young kid. We started to dismantle this pipework, which wasn’t easy because it had been done in a Heath Robinson matter with these really long nuts and bolts. We had it dismantled and then we had to reassemble it. To dismantle it, it had all gone out of centre and it was tightening up the nuts on the threads so we couldn’t undo it the more by hand no matter how long they were. We had to use a spanner right through to the end. So we repositioned it better and anyway I was determined not to do the last bolt. I ended up running some kind of jewelled ornament down these threads until everyone complained. In the end I found the missing nut and put it back on. But the girl was there. It was her parents’ house. We were about to, or I was trying to manoeuvre myself round to having a really good chat with her, but then I awoke before I could actually start to talk to her. Another one of my friends had been saying for years that he wished that he knew how he could get in touch with her and he’s going to be ever so pleased and impressed that I’d actually met her. I was going to give her his contact details, everything

After the medication it was comparatively quiet. No doctor and train of students from urology or anywhere else, and even my own doctor never put in an appearance.

There was the usual bustle of nurses with their students practising on me, but I don’t mind that at all. It’s all part of the thing about being a guinea-pig and they have to learn somehow. And of course they are all young and pretty and keen and enthusiastic, with a nice cheery smile, and they always bring me a cup of coffee afterwards.

There was a shower and a shave too, so now I’m all clean – well, sort-of – and in clean clothes too.

The absence of bustle meant that I could finish off the notes for the radio programme on which I’ve been working, and then finish off choosing the music for one that I had started before I was hauled off to hospital

And when I’d done that, there was even time to choose the music for another one too. After all, I may as well use this time profitably.

After lunch they brought round my blood results – 8.0. So it had gone up to reach the critical level. And they also brought more blood. “When you’ve had this, the doctor says that you can go home”.

Well, that was news to me, although regular readers of this rubbish will recall that yesterday I’d suggested that as a possibility.

The doctor came to see me in mid-transfusion with a pile of paperwork. The amount of medication that I now have to take is astonishing. I’m sure that this time next week, if you were to shake me I would rattle.

Disturbingly, one of the things that he’s prescribed for me is Vitamin B12 and that’s a bad sign. As a vegan I don’t have it naturally and I have to have supplements. I always look for stuff that has it in. And not enough Folic Acid either, so I need more of that.

4 lots of ointment for various things too. You can’t say that their examination wasn’t thorough.

Another thing that he mentioned was that in certain cases there was an injection that they can give to people with renal issues that will help and will stimulate the blood cells too. It’s given very rarely but he reckons that I qualify and so he will be making his recommendation.

When the transfusion was over they unhooked me and the nurse brought me a pile of medication “so I don’t have to go to the chemist until Monday”. They are really sweet here.

There was still one thing that I needed to do before I left the hospital. The doctor had given me a written report but addressed it to the wrong doctor. “That’s what it says on your record” he said. So I had to go to the office and change my doctor to the correct one.

road accident herestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallMy trek into town didn’t get me very far before I had to reach for the camera.

On the car park there was an ambulance with its blue lights flashing, and also a plain-clothes police car with his blue lights flashing too, blocking part of the road. And sitting up on the bank with one of its doors open.

I’ve no idea what was happening there, but I did muse to myself that if anyone were injured, they wouldn’t have far to go in order to seek medical attention. Not from the hospital car park, anyway.

digger monseigneur vanwaeyeberghlaan Leuven Belgium Eric HallHaving dispensed with that, I carried on down the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan just in time to see a big digger drive up onto the trailer at the back of this lorry.

“What’s going on here then?” I thought. “They have only just finished digging up this road. They surely aren’t going to be starting again”. But there is some kind of park just there where all of that green shrubbery is and apparently the digger is doing something in there.

At the corner of the Goedsbloemstraat the workmen were cutting all of the stones to fit the new tactile avement around the street furniture. And as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I had some kind of thing once with the girl who invented tactile paving.

men repairing door monseigneur vanwaeyenberghlaan Leuven Belgium Eric HallWhat these workmen are doing here is extremely interesting – at least to me anyway.

Another thing that regular readers of this runnish will recall is that for a period of a considerable number of months a year or two ago a reasonably modern building was completely gutted, rebuilt and refurbished and the apartments were sold at … errr … something of a premium.

And so it’s not very impressive if they have had to call out the repairers to repair the door to the building’s garage when the paint is only just dry. It’s not what I would call confidence-building.

So I left them to it and carried on down the road without any further incident except narrowly avoiding being squidged by the schoolchildren stampeding out of school at home-time.

digger building site kapucijnenvoer zongang Leuven Belgium Eric HallThere’s another building site in the vicinity that’s attracted our attention of late. Well two, really, but I was looking at this one.

This is in the Kapucijnenvoer and backs onto the Zongang, and it was only when I noticed the fine building at the back of the site that I realised that something has gone from the ploy. But we saw them clearing the site a month ago and now something is springing up like a mushroom on the site.

So it’s not every Belgian (or French) building company that takes its time. Some of them can really crack on. Although I shall probably need reminding that I said that in 6 months time

digger in hole st pieters hospital brusselsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallOne site that has held our attention for quite a long time – far longer than really it ought – is the demolition of St Pieter’s hospital here in the Brusselsestraat.

Now that all of the superstructure had finally bitten the dust (and quite literally too) I was intrigued to see where they would be going next. And the answer to that is that they seem to be going down.

We’d noticed them doing something at an old cellar or something the other day, and today we can see that at some point they have dropped a digger down into there. Unfortunately it’s impossible to see what it’s doing.

Nut all of the rubble is being ground up into very small pieces and even into sand and there’s piles of the stuff all around, all heaped into nice big … errr … piles. So they are making quite an effort to tidy up the plac.

And in 6 months time I’ll probably regret saying that as well.

roadworks amerikalaan franz tielemanslaan Leuven Belgium Eric HallOne thing that we have noticed over the last week or 10 days since we’ve been here has been the work that they have started at the junction of the Brusselsestraat, the Amerikalaan and the Franz Tielemanslaan.

They seem to be cracking along with this as well – not hanging about at all which is good news. Although I would have liked it so much more had they uncovered more of the River Dijle.

Climbing up the hill was killing me. It’s a long hill to climb and when I think of the hills in Granville that I have to negotiate and the trouble that I have in getting up this one, I’m not looking at all forward to going home.

Halfway up is the ice-cream place and already having stopped once or twice to catch my breath (something that I have never done before) it’s a case of third time lucky and I grabbed an ice cream. I may as well take advantage of my rest-stops while I can.

film cameraman tiensestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that a feature that runs through these pages is me taking photos of people taking photos.

We’ve graduated beyond there on numerous occasions, such as today in this shot where there’s a guy taking moving pictures of the events taking place in the Tiensestraat. And I’m not sure what it is that he finds so interesting because I couldn’t see anything.

When I knew that I was to leave hospital I’d telephoned the guy who runs the place where I stay to see if he had a room. Better than that, he had my previous room with all of my food still in it. And as I had the key, nothing could be better. I came in here and flaked out completely.

A little later I summoned up the energy to nip to the Spar supermarket down the road here for a handful of things and now I think that I have everything to last me until Monday morning. I was going to go home on Sunday but there are rail issues holding things up around Paris and I can’t stomach the bus trip.

The Covid test that I had before I left the hospital is valid until Monday afternoon so I’m staying here for the weekend and coming home on the Monday after a weekend’s rest.

Now that Alison has been to check up on my and I’ve written my notes, I can go to bed. I’m whacked and if I don’t improve over the weekend I’ll be going back to the hospital on Monday morning.

Thursday 27th May 2021 – TODAY HAS BEEN …

… a day pretty much like yesterday here.

A nice long sleep-in until the nurses awaken me. They were early today – round abut 07:30. They went through their routine and took a sample of blood from me too. I had the results later too – 8.0. It’s still not famous after three transfusions – exactly on the critical level – but it’s the best that I’m going to get.

My reward for being co-operative when the nurses were here was a cup of coffee and I’ll go with that.

During the night I was with a girl whom I used to know. We were doing something that involved a giant rocket that had been launched from London and we had to bring it down at High Wycombe. We did and they were all dealing with this rocket, she was, and some other people. We were getting ourselves organised about it and I asked what their plans were. Their plans were that by now this rocket had transformed itself into a horse and they were going to go to London and back on it in one day. I asked how far it was and they said “68 miles altogether”. That didn’t seem to me to be particularly challenging but nevertheless that was their plan. I asked her “could you get out some lottery tickets and I can buy them” or something. She pointed to my camera. “I see that you have your camera with you”. I replied “I always carry my camera with me”. She said “you can always make a donation to it and I’ll get all of the paperwork out ready for you to make your donation”. I thought “hang on. I’m being a bit railroaded here” I was interested in helping out but it’ll look a bit silly me going through this just for the price of 3 lottery tickets or something

No urologist today – he seems to have finished with me after I gave in my report of my … errr … strolls down the corridor to the nurses.

My own doctor came of course and we had a lengthy chat. He sounded me out about my journey home, my home life, how was my relationship with my GP, all of that. They told me that I would be in the hospital until at least Friday and that’s tomorrow. I suspect that this time tomorrow I shall be sleeping underneath a railway arch somewhere even if I don’t feel like it.

There’s a useful app that is available for Belgian residents, something like the French Doctolib app, that enables you to see all of your medical results, appointments and the like, and all of your x-rays, scans and so on. One of the nurses helped me set it up and now I can see everything 24 hours after it has been done – not that I particularly want to.

But I notice that I have four appointments arranged in a fortnight’s time and shortly thereafter with all kinds of different people. If I am kicked out into the street tomorrow I shall have to change a few of those.

Lunch was more of those little quornburgers in breadcrumbs with potatoes and veg. I’d worked out how to use the “order my meal” function so I can conjure up food that’s so much better than the very basic stuff that they offer as a default.

This afternoon I managed to stay awake and in between all the interruptions I attacked the text on which I had been working. I’ve finished one and I was hoping to to another one but I fell short by two songs and I’m too tired to continue.

Rosemary and TOTGA texted me and I had a long internet text chat with Liz as well. It’s hardly surprising that I ran out of steam.

Last night before going to sleep I managed to watch about 5 minutes of a film before flaking out. It looks as if the cure for insomnia might be back, and so I’ll try that again right now and see where that gets me.

Probably nowhere but we can but try, hey?

Wednesday 26th May 2021 – IT’S VERY NICE …

… to see how people are rallying round at moments like this. For example, I had a ‘phone call from Canada today to see how I was, I’ve had internet chats with people galore, Alison came to the hospital to visit me and brought me a load of supplies, and even people with whom I’m merely on a nodding acquaintance have said “hello”.

Mind you, that’s probably something due to a posting that I made on my social network today. Despite having two blood transfusions already, my blood count is falling rapidly. It’s now at 7.3 which is lower than it has been for several years and I’ve had another transfusion this evening.

If they can’t bring about a halt to all of this, it’ll mean that my roaming days are over. We’re now back at Square One and they are talking about bone marrow sampling. That means that we are back with the leukemia possibility, which was where we started out all those years ago.

Certainly, a lot of the tests that they have carried out on me in this hospital are the kinds of tests that they would use on a potential leukemia sufferer. I can’t help but have the feeling that we are building up to a climax.

Mantally, I’m quite lively and alert so as long as I have that I’ll be fine for a while.

And certainly after last night. It might not have been particularly early when I went to bed but sleeping right the way through until 08:07 when the nurses awoke me was quite relaxing.

Once I was awake we had an endless stream of visitors like you would normally have – doctors, nurses, health visitors and so on. And in between all of this I managed to fit in a shower and a clothes washing session.

Another thing about which I was pleased is that following my operation on Saturday night/Sunday morning, I have managed to do something that I haven’t done since then. But I’ll spare you all the gory details because it’s probably tea time where you lot are.

But the operation that I had has brought me some bad news, although all of the nurses and the rest of the female staff can now walk around in perfect safety.

Lunch was this beautiful coconut curry thing that I have had before and it really is delicious.

This afternoon there were relatively few interruptions so I could make another start on writing the notes for a radio programme. But it’s pretty slow going with people coming and going and being in a bed it’s not the most comfortable or inspiring environment.

One thing that I did do – for the first time for a week – was to check the dictaphone. And there are 11 audio files on there. I would have had a go at transcribing them but unfortunately I fell asleep – not once but a couple of times. In fact when Alison arrived, I was away in the Land of Nod somewhere.

Some time later I managed to have a listen. It’s another one of these trials where a girl has to go as she has witnessed things that she shouldn’t have but she’s been adopted by the military so another girl has to join the military to be able to look after her so she does join the military. As all of her basic training goes round to see her. There’s a whole group of couples living somewhere that a flood or a fire had forced them to live and they were gradually dying out one by one. They daren’t tell the authorities who they are or the authorities would round them up and herd them away. They would rather die amongst friends. Anyway this girl was going around from place to place … and these people were scared on this island. The keep on dying and there are very few survivors and they don’t know who to contact next in order to keep alive. That other girl, even the big dog of the family is pleased to see her

Later on I was with a girl who I was very keen on at school last night, would you believe? We started off with some kind of casual meeting between a few of us and this meeting went on until there were just the 2 of us. We were there chatting and she was saying “well, Eric, I always liked you. You always have this air of happiness about you and you’re pretty down to earth and frank and so on”. At the end of this long conversation I had my arm around her and things developed. I was about to ask her to go out with me. I’m sure she would but we were driving somewhere while this was going on, up and down some steep hills rather like the road between Tunstall and Hanley although it wasn’t – it was a much nicer place than that. We were talking about sacks. She was saying how she wanted some sacks for her friend’s child’s sack race at school. I said that we had some but they were only plastic. I knew that because earlier we’d been cleaning the house from top to bottom and emptying tons of stuff out. I’d started right at the top, sitting on top of the door cleaning the light fittings and the ceiling, working my way down towards the floor. I’d been working in the kitchen, cleaning out the kitchen, spraying the walls with this stuff ready to wash and I’d come across some sacks that had wood in them that I’d got from Darren. I said “yes, I could let you have a sack.” She said “should we have a sack as well? Should we have a go?” I was not all that keen but in the end I said “OK, I’ll get a sack and we can have a go as well”. By this time we were sitting in the middle of the road in this busy road junction. There was a Standard Pennant behind us. That moved out of the way. Then a bus came and I thought that he would catch us on his cow catcher but he managed to go round us and go off to where he was going. Then her phone rang. It was one of her friends so she said “OK Eric, you get out and go and do something for a minute”. She obviously wanted to speak to this friend on her own so I got out of the car. But this girl, hey? After 50 years.

Anyway, now I’m off to bed – well, actually, I’m already there, but what I mean is that I’m going to settle down for the night. It’s comparatively early so I might watch a film. In the old days that was a guaranteed cure for insomnia but these days it provokes it, and even brings some added complications.

But these days I’m quite safe. There’s not much of me remaining that they can cut off.