… that I celebrate – if that is the correct word to use – the first anniversary of my last night at home.
And what a tumultuous year it has been too. I’ve spent nights sleeping at friends, in hotels in France, Belgium and the Netherlands, in hostels, on floors, in hospitals, in student houses, but never again at home and how I am depressed as the seriousness of my position dawns on me.
Am I destined to spend the last years of my life living out of a suitcase and ambling aimlessly around around North-West Europe? What a horrible thought.
But one thing that I have learnt as I’ve been travelling around is that there’s no place like home. I have accordingly for the next three months and maybe even more, negotiated a good place in the hostel back at Leuven. It might not be much, and nothing like what I was hoping to have, but it’s the nearest place to home that I have right now. I have negotiated a good price with the option of a renewal, and in exchange I’ll be expected to do a little work, but I’m as happy as I could be with that.
I had a really late night last night and as a result was in no fit state at all when the alarm went off. It was a struggle to go down to breakfast (I was third, and yet there before the staff was) and then I crashed out again afterwards for a while.
The internet was, well, working something-like and so I found another pile of stuff about Labrador. And that took me ages too. For lunch, I finished off the bread that I had bought in Sedan at the LeClerc on Friday, so after lunch I nipped into Alle to the boulanger for a big loaf and across the road to the Spar for a lettuce.
On the way back, I took a diversion and climbed high into the Ardennes to visit Orchimont.
I don’t know whether to call it a town or a hamlet or what because these days it’s been absorbed into the commune of Vresse sur Semois, and ohhhh! What a come-down that must be for the place because 800 years or so ago it was by far the biggest town in the area.
Perched up here in its steep escarpment, it was at one time the capital of this region and had a fortified castle and city walls to defend itself and the region.
All of tha changed in 1635 when Louis XIII of France laid siege to the town, which was part of the Spanish Netherlands at that time.
He brought 35,000 soldiers with him apparently, and no town can withstand that kind of siege for long. It fell on 11th May of that year and was burnt, with all of the fortifications destroyed.
When the road was brought here in 1878, it went straight through whatever remained of the remains of the fortifications. All that is left is this, and I’m not even sure if these are original.
But you can see what a stunning defensive site the place occupies. This is the road in from the south.
The roads from the west and east are equally impressive – in fact the road in from the north – which you might have noticed in the first photograph, is the only one that is reasonably accessible.
The spur of the rock overlooking the road that we can see just here was crying out for a castle to be built on it, if you ask me. Any Medieval lord bent on increasing his power in the region, and some of these medieval lords were as bent as they come, would have been proud to have had his castle here.
There’s a church here too, and I asked a local yokel who was taking a most extraordinary interest in me, to whom it was dedicated.
But he wasn’t much of a vocal local yokel and told me to go and enquire in Vresse sur Semois. Miserable ghit!
But seeing as how everything at Orchimont is St Martin this, St Martin that, I shall have a wild guess.
What I do know is that it’s far from being the original church. It dates from 1863 apparently, although I imagine that there has been a church here for 1500 years before that.
One thing that I have noticed since I’ve been out here has been an endless stream of farm tractors with trailers fully-laden with Christmas trees disappearing into the mists.
What I hadn’t realised is that Orchimont is the Christmas Tree capital of Belgium and North-East France. There must be 5,000 here all parcelled up ready for shipping.
That’ll keep them out of mischief.
With the laptop being a bit flaky just now, I’ve done a major back-up this evening just in case, and now having done some more research I’m off to bed.
I’ve had nothing to eat tonight so I’ll make a butty quickly and that will be that. I’m not up to much else.
Now that they know what you have Eric can’t they make a treatment plan that a hospital in France can carry out? so you maybe have to only go back say once every 3 months or so.. or is that a no go with the medical insurance ? keep on rocking
It was originally supposed to be once every 6 weeks that I needed to attend, maybe even extended to once every three months. But things aren’t going so well just now 🙁
What’s the prognosis?
Remember…. there’s a grey lady in the USA that would love you underneath and inside her.
Well, apart from the Waldenstrohm’s disease, there are kidney issues now