… since I really can’t remember when, I had a meal in a restaurant.
Not this restaurant here in the Tiensestraat, I have to say, but this is the best example of social distancing in a café that I could find. And when I say “in” a café, I don’t actually mean that, because we aren’t allowed to be “in” a restaurant All we can do is sit on a terrace.
Alison and I went to the Greenway, the vegan restaurant in town. The social distancing wasn’t as thorough as this but it was still very nice to actually have a meal at a restaurant, even if it was out of doors, for the first time since whenever.
And then we went for a coffee on another terrace where there was simply a separation of tables but as the café wasn’t crowded it wasn’t an issue. We could sit quietly by and watch the hordes of policemen arrive and disappear into the Square behind us where there must have been something going on that required their attention.
This morning after having crashed out so spectacularly last night, I awoke, as you might expect, before the alarm was due to go off, so I was up and about quite promptly when the first alarm went off.
After the medication I made a start on the notes for yesterday and it took me much longer than it ought to have done to do it as I wasn’t really all that motivated. There was tons to write as well so it’s no surprise really.
There had been a voyage during the night too, as I discovered when I listened to the dictaphone some time later. My brother had gone to Dresden in Germany for something. I had to travel there so I was looking through the dashcam files and I came across one of when I’d been to Dresden in February one year. I remember getting close to the ton and how beautiful it was and on the outskirts I’d tried to find a place to stop to take a good photograph. I had to drive miles around in like a box to try to get a really good place. At one point I was driving alongside a river and suddenly came to a spot where the bank had collapsed and all these cars were parked in this field. I asked what had happened and they said that they had been driving on the ice when suddenly there had been a flash flood and they had all been transported away in this flash flood and just dropped when the water receded. All of the banks at the side of the river had collapsed under this kind of flash flood so they were all now stranded in these fields. Somewhere alongside were a brother and sister, arty types, and they had been having a big row and dispute about art. They were playing a strange kind of game with a load of magazines, something like “snap”. I was watching them play and they were basically making up 2 piles of these magazines. When they reached a certain point they would stop, shuffle these 2 piles together and start again but I never did understand or get the hang of what it was that they were doing. It looked totally weird to me and I couldn’t see what it was that was going on.
And there was also time to choose the music for another radio programme.
Round about 12:00 I stopped everything and made my sandwiches for lunch, and then headed off on my way to the hospital.
Into the town centre and out of the other side and in the Brusselsestraat at the junction of the Amerikalaan and the Franz Tielemanslaan I cam across another set of road works.
There have been plenty of roadworks going on all over the town as regular readers of this rubbish will recall and they have been taking years to do some of them. And so I wonder how long it’s going to take to do this lot on the corner here.
And it’s hard to see exactly what they are going to be doing because there were plenty of places in the town that are in need of much more work than this and I can give them half a dozen leads without even thinking about it.
The Brusselsestraat leads past the site of Sint Pieter’s Hospital, the hospital that they have been demolishing for the last year or so at least, and I was keen to see how the works were going on because they seem to have been taking for ever to do it.
And to my surprise, I found out that the hospital has gone completely after all of this time. I know that it was a big building but they seemed to be really taking their time with it.
They are now actively engaged in clearing up the site ready for redevelopment of this new parkland and housing development. They are even talking about taking out the culvert and exposing the River Dijle to the open air.
There is one thing that can be said about this demolition work in that it has opened up several new vistas that were previously hidden from view.
In this photo we can see the Predikherenkerk in the Oude Lieve Vrouwstraat from a viewpoint that we have never seen before, and then further round to the left is the rear of the ancient Sint-Elizabeth Gasthuis and the Convent of the Augustinian Sisters that we haven’t seen before.
In the previous photograph we could see the rear of the Sint Rafael Hospital which, as far as I am aware, is going to remain.
And all that we are left with here are a couple of large piles of rubble.
It’s not quite everything though.
There’s a big digger here that seems to be fishing rubble out of what was formerly the cellar of the building. And I’m wondering why they would be doing that because if they were going to develop the site they would need to fill in the cellar anyway and what better way to do it than to use the rubble that is present on the site.
But having watched them digging stuff out from the whole I pushed off on my way along the Brusselsestraat on my way towards the hospital on the edge of town for my usual four-weekly appointment with destiny at Castle Anthrax.
Round the corner in the Kruisstraat I intended to look into the Sint Jacob’s Kerk but the door was locked. And in any case I was distracted by some work that was going on here.
They have obliterated a couple of car parking spaces and replaced them with a pile of bicycle racks. At the moment the bicycle racks aren’t concreted into the ground but we can see the workmen on the right busily mixing a load by hand that will concrete them firmly.
That is something that has rather bewildered me as well because there aren’t any residential buildings or any colleges all that close to where they have put the bicycle racks no I’m not sure who it is that is expected to use them.
And now finally, something extremely exciting.
It looks as if after all of this time the compound in the Sint Jacobs Plein has been dismantled.
Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we came home from Canada one year and found that they had dug a huge hole in the square, apparently for an overflow tank for the new drainage system that they were going to install. And when they had finished it, they filled it in and fenced it off to use it as a works compound for the roadworks that were taking place.
But that’s all gone and finished now and the cars are back parked on it. Life is slowly returning to normal.
The work that they had been doing was to dig up the Biezenstraat and the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan and sink some really huge culverts in there for drainage.
This is work that we have been following for the last couple of years as they slowly, much too slowly in my opinion, worked their way down the street from top to bottom but now it’s all finished by the looks of things and all of the traffic, including the service buses that run to the hospital, are now in there.
We have to admire the cycle lanes in the main road. There’s no danger of missing those, even if they do restrict the flow of the traffic. Not that I have anything against restricting the flow of traffic, but there needs to be ample parking on the edge of the town with adequate pubic transport to take people to where they want to go.
And I see that the water fountain that they were trying to restore now seems to be completed.
It’s not actually the end of the roadworks in this area though.
We pass by the mouth to the Goedsbloemstraat on our way up to the hospital. We noticed a couple of months ago that they had started to dig it up and despite the fact that in the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan the roadworks have no finished, they still haven’t finished off whatever they were doing here.
But whatever it is that they are doing, it doesn’t look as if it involves any large sever pipes. There are just a few small ones there and the rolls of pipework on the edge of the street.
But anyway I left them to it and pushed on to the hospital.
Another thing that regular readers of this rubbish will recall is that the last time that we were here they were digging a trench in the grass verge and there were a few heavy pipes at the side of the trench.
All of that has finished, they’ve moved the pipes, filled in the trench and replaced the turf. You wouldn’t really know that they have actually done anything there by now. It’s all finished and the workmen have moved off elsewhere. Maybe to the Brusselsestraat at the junction of the Amerikalaan and the Franz Tielemanslaan
At the hospital I registered in and had my treatment. Nothing much happened about that but then I was sent down to have my heart examined. They found my heart so at least I’m not a Tory, but what the technician discovered led him to call for his professor who examined my results in depth.
From there I was sent back to the Day Centre where the Professor who handles my case came to see me. I go to the hospital every four weeks and have done for over 5 years now, and I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen the professor – and yet today I get to see two.
She examined me, which is a first since March 2016, and when I asked her what was the issue she replied “we’ll be in touch”. Strangely, they didn’t say “see you in 4 weeks” like they usually do.
By the time that they threw me out it was too late to go to the Pharmacy so I headed off back into town.
But here’s something exciting, shooting down the cycle track at the side of the hospital. It’s another one of these streamlined low-sung bicycle things.
We’ve seen a few of these out and about here and there over the years but we’ve never ever had the opportunity to inspect one at close quarters. But knowing that there’s at least one of them in Leuven gives me hope that I’ll get to have a look at one of them in due course. I’ll have to keep a good eye out.
But one thing that I noticed from this photograph is that this one appears to be a three-wheeler and I don’t recall having seen one of this type before. The heavy construction of the front wheels suggests something more than an ordinary bicycle.
A little earlier, we saw the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan all nicely fitted out and finished. The other end of the street is called the Biezenstraat and I can safely say that that end is finished too.
People can actually reach the fritkot without having to scramble over a pile of rubble – not that a pile of rubble would ever prevent a Belgian from reaching a fritkot, but that of course is another story. They do say that the reason why there have never been any Belgian astronauts is because there aren’t any fritkots on the moon.
The trees in the Sint Jacobsplein are in full leaf of course and look really nice but I would have expected that, with the country’s commitment to zero emissions and the like, they would have planted a few more to absorb the pollution.
Down at the far end of the Biezenstraat is the Kapucijnenvoer and regular readers of this rubbish will recall having seen the demolition of the building that was here.
They had dug a big hole in the ground where the building was situated and I speculated that they may be making some kind of subterranean car park at the bottom. Now they have some concrete reinforcement matting down there and I imagine that the next step will be the delivery of a few hundred m3 of concrete.
On my way home from the hospital in the future I shall be keeping a close eye on what’s going on here. With this amount of car parking space, it’s obviously going to be a very big building.
Something else on which I shall be keeping a close eye in the future is the building work that’s taking place between the Kapucijnenvoer and the Zongang.
We’d seen them clearing the site and moving in the building materials last time that we were here, and over the last 4 weeks they seem to have started the construction in earnest. There is some kind of site advertisement telling us about apartments for sale, so that’s what I reckon that we’ll be having here on the site.
In the town centre I treated myself to an ice cream from the stall that sells vegan ice ceam, and it was the quickest ice cream that I have ever seen because as soon as I had it in my sweaty little mitt Alison rang me up to say that she was here, so I wandered off round there to meet her.
After our meal and a coffee we went off for a walk around the town. I was dying for a walk down the Handbooghof along by the River Dijle because I was interested in seeing how they were getting on with the renovations of the old medieval city walls.
Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that in the past they have been sagging and bowing out, looking quite precarious and dangerous and after 7 centuries they were badly in need of some kind of renovation if they were to remain in place. It always reminded me of the castle in “The Carpathian Terror” – “The first Count Romany built it in 1410. That’s given it almost 500 years in which to disintegrate”
They fenced it off a few months ago and moved in some building material.
But now the renovations are well under way and it won’t be long before they will have finished.
What is depressing about it though is that they have used more modern brick rather than contemporary brick in patching them up. I realise that they can’t always find the correct stone to do the job these days but at least they could have made more of an effort to find something that matches.
Alison had another appointment so she brought me home after our walk. Back here I started to write up my notes from yesterday but I fell asleep again in the middle of it all. It was actually quite late so I went to bed and I’ll finish off my notes in the morning.