Tag Archives: alison weihe

Friday 11th March 2022 – I’VE JUST HAD …

… a lovely meal with Alison at the Greenway restaurant.

She finished work today early so she came into Leuven on the bus and we went off for an evening out. A vegan burger followed by a nice coffee in the Grote Markt and then I walked her back to the bus station.

Now that I’m back in my little room I’m writing out my notes and then I’m off to bed for I have an early start in the morning. My train to Brussels is at 06:33.

And if my night was anything last night, I won’t be having much sleep anyway because it was another highly mobile night with tons of stuff on the dictaphone. I started off in the USA last night. I can’t remember whom I was with but it was a guy. We’d gone to this kind-of students’ bar and there had been some kind of incident between me, this guy and the guy who was running the place. It started out as a kind-of light-hearted thing to which no-one took any offence. There were some people getting up some teams for football and we went to join them. We sat around in this room for over an hour and a half waiting for this particular game to start. Just before it was due to start someone came over to us and said that they were sorry that they couldn’t fit us into a team and we’d have to go, which annoyed me intensely for I’d been sitting around here for an hour and a half as had the guy with me and seeing as there were 2 of us they could have fitted us into a team quite easily, one on each side but for some reason they didn’t want us. We went back into another bar and someone from the administration of this club came in and saw us, and made some kind of comment so I made a few comments back. The situation quickly escalated. Some other woman who had the air of being a manager came over to try to give us a lecture I gave her a lecture back instead. She really wasn’t impressed with what I had to say which was hardly a surprise. In the end my friend and I decided that we would leave as we weren’t going to hand around with this kind of people and this woman who was some kind of student said that she was worth $400,000 to which I replied “that’s pretty small beer alongside my $3,000,000, isn’t it?”. That didn’t go down very well. It all finished with her saying that she was going to be taking her A Levels here starting in the summer. I said “let me give you a word of advice. Don’t take them in this place”. We moved outside and the guy asked “what do you mean by your $3,000,000?” so I explained. We passed some kind of marina full of all of these abandoned and burnt-out boats that looked as if they had belonged to a fairground at one time and had all been laid up, derelict and so on

A young boy had been killed and a young girl had gone missing from her school in the USA. They were going to write some kind of letter to this boy’s family and it was an extremely complicated affair and they were having to hunt for envelopes and paper and so on to write this letter. It took an age to do this and before they had even finished it there was a fight between two small children who were something to do with this disappearance. That was broken up but then there was a third fight between two similar children. This was all getting completely out of hand. Then a hurricane came to the area and everyone had to shelter in some kind of hurricane shelter at the school This missing girl turned up, accompanied by a boy called Darcy, someone who had had some kind of issue with his motorbike earlier in the school year and another boy who was there who was the leader of the gang who supposedly this boy and girl were with. Everyone was saying things like “how brave she is to come out of hiding because she’s bound to be questioned about the death of this boy”. It carried on a bit like this, I suppose.

There had been a huge civil engineering disaster and this whole building site had collapsed. There were all kinds of people on this site, not rescuing because no-one had been killed or lost but investigating it. I was involved because I’d been on there doing some kind of work and I had to re-excavate a trench that had collapsed with a pipe in it. It turned out that the person in charge was a young girl whom I knew very well. Basically she’d been surrounded by lots of friends but most of them had been there to ee how much money they could make out of her and out of this particular contract and they had all almost exclusively let her down with this particular work. She was called up before this inquisition/tribunal to investigate what was the final straw on this site. I unfortunately had to give evidence about what I had been doing, which was basically trying to put right a lot of this stuff that had been going wrong. This girl was practically in tears about everyone who had let her down. I was having to tell her the bitter truth about what was going on and about how one or two other people and I had been covering up as best we could to make sure that this project went ahead And even as this tribunal was taking place a cement mixer on another site overturned and on the site somewhere else overturned There were all kinds of incidents like this. Basically all this girl’s friends had come along to offer help to get this building off the ground but they had all taken out of it as much as they could and disappeared one by one until she was on her own to carry the can for the consequences

I was with a few people from school last night but we were probably in our 20s, something like that. One was a girl whom I knew quite well and she had a sister. Her sister (although it wasn’t her sister in real life) was another girl whom I knew from school and whom I’d actually dated at one time and whom I liked very much but her parents hated me. We’d been a group of us doing something and we’d finished it. It had been an extremely emotional thing, something to do with the war and something to do with the military, all this kind of thing and civilians caught up with it and fighting it, very disjointed, and included this woman driving this really old ERF or Foden articulated tanker about. When it finished and it was all over and we were walking back, I caught up with her. She was on her own now. Slowly this group of people reassembled and I managed to get her on her own and told her “I’m going to write a book about all of this”. She asked me what it was going to be called. “Oh I’m carrying a heavy load” I replied, from the song by “Free”. As we walked back to the village where she lived I asked about her sister. I said that I felt like asking her if she wanted to come to the cinema”. The girl said “yes, why don’t you?”. We went into the office where she was working. She was on her own so I said “do you fancy coming to the cinem0 at some time over the weekend?”. She replied that she had to do something on some night but she was free and asked “what did you want to see?”. I mentioned this spy thriller but she pulled a face so I asked “is there anything that you want to see? We’ll go and see that. I’m not bothered”. Just then a crowd of people burst into the office. Her parents, and a couple of people who ran the office where she was working. She was trying to hold a conversation with me. She asked me where I was working but before I could reply she was swept up in all of this commotion. I ended up sitting here talking to a guy about football. He asked if I was watching the football that night. The World Cup was on. I said “no. They never came to see me when I was bad”. I mentioned that if my team were playing in it I would watch it but he couldn’t work out what I was trying to say. He asked “do you watch any football around here?”. I replied “no. I go over the border to Wales to watch it. I go over the border to watch it but he still didn’t twig In the meantime I was trying to work out which car I was going to take. Jackie had asked me what I was doing for work . I told her that I’d sold the taxis but she said that she knew. There was all this commotion going on that no sensible conversation could take place and I felt that this was going to be another one of those occasions where I was going to have victory snatched from my grasp at the last minute.

But the opening part was extremely emotional and powerful about this war thing and I don’t know why this song fitted in but it seemed to be so apt – so appropriate.

After breakfast I made a start on collecting together the music for the next batch of radio programmes.

You will recall from just now that I mentioned a song by “Free” that contained the lyrics “Oh I’m carrying a heavy load”. And GUESS WHICH SONG came round first on the playlist to be featured on my next series of radio programmes?

After lunch I finished off the music and then wandered off to the shops.

dismantling market stall herbert hooverplein Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo March 2022As usual, I walked across the Herbert Hooverplein. It’s where the big market is held every Friday morning but being somewhat later today, almost everyone had gone. There was just the one guy here folding up his stall “like the Arabs and as silently steal away”, as Longfellow would have said.

There was nothing of any interest whatever in FNAC yet again. I’m beginning to despair of ever finding anything useful in there these days.

For a change I didn’t go and look in the cheap shops. I headed across town to the Origin’O or whatever it’s called to see if the low stocks that they had yesterday had been replenished.

And the answer to that is “no” – so it looks as if that’s the end of that shop from my point of view too.

house new building zongang Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo March 2022Something else that I need is a big bag of cumin. They don’t sell it in the size that I would like in Granville.

And so on my way down to the big “Exotic World” ethnic supermarket I nipped down the Zongang to have a look at the house that I mentioned yesterday.

It’s not actually as dark as I was thinking right now. But it’s mid-afternoon and I imagine that it’s a completely different proposition in the morning and evening when the sun is low in the sky.

Clutching my big bag of cumin (and also a small bag of cumin seeds) I headed back towards town.

medieval tower demolition site brusselsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo March 2022Another place that I wanted to see today was the demolition site at the old Sint Pieter’s Hospital.

Although there seems to be a lot of traffic around there just now, nothing much seems to have changed. The old medieval tower is still standing, which is just as well, still sheathed in its protective coat of scaffolding and net.

They have some floodlights there, I notice, which seems to indicate that they work here after dark. I wonder what it is that they do because there isn’t anything evident, even if the pile of rubble on the left seems to be larger than last time.

demolition site brusselsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo March 2022But the old block of buildings on the right that they started to knock down a few months ago – that’s still standing too.

It looks as if they have demolished all that they intend to demolish of that right now and they are going to leave it at that.

And so, as I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … if they are going to be building luxury apartments here, they are going to have to improve the view that the people will have from their windows. It’s not what I would call “very inspiring”.

demolition site rear of velodrome oude lievevrouwstraat Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo March 2022The site at the back of the little velodrome looks quite clear now.

Last month, I mentioned that it’s possible to pass through now into the Oude Lievevrouwstraat and they seem to have done some more tidying up at the back of where they erect the marquee when they have a function here.

That’s progress of a sort anyway.

On the way back to my little room I popped into Delhaize. Now I have more banana drink, vegan garlic mayonnaise and also a few vegan sausages.

But no grated vegan cheese anywhere, so I hope that the cheese that I bought from LIDL the other day will melt over my pizza.

Back here I tidied up the place for a while ready to leave early tomorrow and then wandered off to meet Alison when she told me that she was on her way.

We met as usual at the “Tiger” although as she was early, she came some way in my direction to meet me. We went to the “Greenway” vegan restaurant for a burger, and then for a coffee and a good chat in the Grote Markt.

night diestsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo March 2022late in the evening the buses for Alison to return home are quite irregular so she stands more chance of catching a bus at a more convenient time at the bus station.

It’s “sort-of” on my way back home I suppose so I accompanied her. The Diestsestraat was for a change quite deserted but the lights of the shops gave some kind of weird, eerie effect as we walked back.

Only 10 minutes to wait for a bus at the bus station so I hung around with her until it came. And it was just as well that I waited because it was running late.

Had it not turned up, there would have been quite a long wait for the next one and a cold draughty bus station is not the place to be hanging around.

fair martelarenplein Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo March 2022The other day I posted a photo of the shiny new Martelarenplein with most of its fencing removed.

It hasn’t taken long for it to be reoccupied, has it? It must be fairground time right now and all of the attractions have now moved in and occupied the square. That should keep the town busy for a while.

The walk back home was quiet and uneventful. I wrote my notes, finished off the tidying up and crawled into bed.

An early night and an early start tomorrow.

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.

Saturday 12th February 2022 – HAVING BEEN DEPRIVED …

… of really good company for quite some considerable time, Alison and I had hatched a cunning plan last time I was here. Subsequently we had been in touch with Jackie in Köln and suggested that we meet up for a day and exchange our news. After all, it’s been two years since we last met.

And so, seeing as Aachen is halfway in between the two of us, we set off this morning by car.

Not that I was feeling too much like it because it had been another rotten night.

As I mentioned yesterday I was in bed early and although the party that started at about 00:30 wasn’t anything at all like last night but what did happen was that I had another series of regular voyages that overwhelmed the dictaphone.

We started off in World War I last night. There was something about this arty (do I mean “artillery”?) regiment that I’d encountered that had turned up at Ieper somewhere where there had been some crucial fighting in November 1914 where the Germans had been pushing either side of the British and a British salient had been created. This was one of the crucial moments of the war and of course the area was totally devastated. I was talking to a soldier from this unit. He was saying that they had only been in this particular area for a weekend or so. It wasn’t actually in the thick of the fighting but it was pretty close to it. We were talking about the area and the history because with it being in the cockpit of Europe it was a pretty vital place. Battles had been fought here for years and all kinds of stuff had been uncovered in the past but the war had come and obliterated everything. He said to me that it was all very interesting to me of course. We talked about some of the bodies that had been found here and one in particular that had belonged to a regiment that had had 100% casualties during a charge. A couple of other regiments that had gone to relieve them had also had 100% casualties. One body that had been found subsequently must have been something of a hero to have gone like that. This conversation went on for quite some time.

Later on we were going somewhere last night walking by a canal looking at an old ruined cottage there and some kind of crane with a platform dangling from the grab. This cottage had been burnt to the ground practically. It turned out that it belonged to someone and they had discovered several structural defects in it. They had been trying to repair it but the thng had caught fire and gone up. The crane and platform were there for when they needed to make a bridge to take machinery over there and demolish it. This was in the parish magazine that some woman not my mother had had and as she had a mailbox I couldn’t understand why she had had it every time. There were several other magazines, including one about cars and a foreign boy who lived there sad that he had put it for me. There were a couple of conjunctions so he said that he had written some notes for me. I chucked that away but this parish magazine was very interesting and so was another article about some kind of meeting that everyone had had, some exhibition or something. It seemed to me that for the environmental group that we were running we could have made a really good magazine out of all of this. We could have had some names and e-mails from the people who attended this meeting, made a really good newsletter and hoped to push on and do something like that every month or so.. This was my one big opportunity and it had gone

Meanwhile, up in my room I was sharing a room with Zero. She wasn’t there but the room was in a real mess. She had shoes all over the place so the first thing that I wanted to do was to tidy up her shoes so I said to whoever it was I was with – a woman – that I would have to find one of these plastic boxes to put all her shoes in. She produced one immediately but I came up with some excuse why we couldn’t use that because I wasn’t really ready to do it just then. Yes, imagine this? Me sharing a room with Zero and she isn’t in it!

There was something else about this woman too. Her mother was going into an old people’s home and was looking at one in Union Street. pointed out that the one in Shavington by the Vine pub was being expanded and having new rooms so maybe she could get her in there. I thought that Shavington would be a much nicer place because it was a smaller village, you can’t go far, you can’t get lost, everything that you need is there, shops and everything and with it being quiet there was less risk of being knocked down than an old people’s home in a rundown area on the edge of Crewe Town Centre. Whoever it was put my comments down to some kind of loyalty about Shavington than any kind of practical consideration which was a shame because I really did think that it was so much better.

I was also at Liverpool football ground last night. They were discussing the remodelling of the stadium and all the crowd had to fit into a room that was the size of a normal living room. They were discussing ways to make it more safe and fit more people in. I thought that if they were only going to be havng 50 people at the most then they are wasting their time, aren’ they? This discussion went on for hours about whether they should put this extra level in. I was saying that they could knock a hole through where the kitchen is and have a bar, stuff like that. It was really getting out of hand. And then the subject drifted round to players. There were some people from Crewe there. It seems that they were interested in taking on trial a player from Crewe and they were trying to work out which one it was. In the end they had to aska girl who worked at Crewe – they had to ask her her name and check her writing. In the end they came up with a name. They thought that it woukd be “somebody Thomas” and that immediately meant about three or four different players. In the end end they had an idea whom it might be and asked me to go and fetch him. I said “OK but tell me who it isn’t” so they said it was “something Thomas”, a double-barrelled surname to go and not fetch him. Then the conversation continued about players from Egypt and the Ukraine. Someone took the paper from me and gave me another paper and it was for a guy called Olivier Ochoi and that was now the player that I had to fetch to bring up here. I asked them “are you sure this time?” and the general consensus seemed to be “yes”.

On the subject of football it was also the Welsh Premier League Final between Newtown and Aberystwyth and was taking place somewhere I can’t remember. I was up early at 06:30 and drove all the way out to where it was. The were busy setting out the hall there for spectators to come along and watch the game. It was a big hall shaped like a figure 8 bit wuth 2 squares and a joining piece. In one of these was a TV and someone was busy arranging a TV in front of it so that he and his friends could watch it. I explained that last time there was a play-off final, in the other room they had a big 225″ TV and arranged all the chairs in semi-circles around to watch so I didn’t think that what he was doing was going to work. Having checked out the place I had then to go back home for all my stuff and the radio stuff because I was going to do some radio interviewing for the game. I went outside, it was still dark and the whole car was starting to freeze up. I had some trouble trying to remember what key it was because it wasn’t the usual car. I eventually managed to open the door and I got in. Some young boy opened the window at the back – it was a rear-engined car – and asked me if I needed any help for this, any help for that. I replied “no” so he asked what I was going to do about this, what was I going to do about that and kept asking so persistently. In the end I got out of the car, picked up his bike and threw it over the fence into a field. He had a run off after it but then he came back and tried to get nto the car and tried to steal something out of the car. I had to get out and go to deal with that

Anyway I stepped back into this dream about this football match. I was in this car and we had all arranged to meet at a service station on the A55. That was where everyone met up but no-one still knew where it was going on. I was sitting down there trying to pass the time waiting for a decision to be made. I ended up talking to someone. We had a really good chat and I was sorting through a few boxes of stuff that they had. When I looked at my watch it was 14:20. I looked around and everyone else had gone. I scrambled over to try to find someone now. I went to the reception desk to ask if they knew where everyone had gone. They said that is was something like “Fingland” but of course that meant absolutely nothing to me. There was only 40 minutes to kick-off and I hadn’t a clue where I was going to go. I thought “how on earth am I going to find out now where I’m supposed to be heading now that everyone else has gone and cleared off.

Anyway when the alarm went off I was out of bed fairly quickly and by the time that Alison arrived I was actually ready.

It was freezing outside as we set off, and we had a really good chat all the way to Aachen.

Jackie arrived at the station just as we did. We parked the car and then headed off into the centre.

barbarella cafe aachen germany Eric Hall photo February 2022Our day turned into trip to various coffee houses, restaurants and shops.

Alison knew a good café around the corner from where we had parked the car and so we headed that way. The coffee was really nice there and the cakes that the girls tried were delicious too. There may have been vegan cakes I suppose, but I didn’t ask. Having had toast for breakfast I wasn’t hungry.

It was in an area of the city that I don’t really know so when we left, I was surprised to find that we were only just around the corner from the Rathaus, and isn’t the German name for a Town Hall really appropriate?.

The main shopping centre is on the other side of the city so we headed off that way.

roman remains aachen germany Eric Hall photo February 2022The site is known to have been inhabited for almost 5000 years but perhaps its best-know period was that under the Romans from the beginning of the First Century until its evacuation, which appears to have taken place round about 383AD. No Roman coin has been discovered here later than that date.

There are plenty of Roman remains here in the city, especially those here in the Elisengarten.
We made quite a tour of the shops and the two girls found a load of interesting stuff to take home with them.

And as well as that, I wasn’t left out of the shopping either. I found some of that really nice vegan cheese that I used to buy in Montlucon, and the two girls bought me a pile of that lovely vegan chocolate for my birthday.

spa elisenbrunnen pavilion cathedral st folian church aachen germany Eric Hall photo February 2022From the shopping precinct we can see across the road to the Elisenbrunnen Pavilion.

The Roman name of the town was Aquae Grannae – the waters of Grannus – and the most popular source from where the water can be obtained is from over there. However there’s a big notice by the outlet that says “not for drinking”. I should really have brought something in which I could have taken some water away.

Although it’s often said that the pavilion was built in the 1820s, it was in fact destroyed by bombing during World War II and this replica was built in the early 1950s.

Lunch was nice too, at one of these franchised bio restaurants down at the side of the spa. My salad was delicious. And then we went back to the shops.

As darkness fell we went for another coffee and then dropped Jackie off at the railway station for her train back home. At the station we fell foul of a German police patrol. “That’s why I moved from Germany” said Alison, and I could see her point. It was all extremely unnecessary and I admired her for her calm.

When she dropped me off at home I wandered round to the fritkot but they were overflowing with customers and weren’t taking any more orders before they closed. It was lucky that I had some pasta left.

There’s an 05:00 start in the morning ready for my trip home so right now I’m off to bed. Not that I’m expecting a better night that I’ve had just recently but we have to make an effort and if necessary I can sleep on the train.

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.

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 9th December 2021 – FOR SOME REASON …

… today has gone really slowly. In fact, it’s dragged pretty much today and at one stage I thought that it would never finish.

That makes a change from how it usually is when there never seems to be enough time to do anything at all. And in fact, despite it never seeming to finish, it took quite a while to start, especially when I couldn’t seem to raise my back up off the bed.

However, I was up and about eventually and once I’d come round, had my medication and checked my mails and messages, I started work.

First task was to write a pile of e-mails. The time-limit for my project is drawing closer so I needed to chivvy up a couple of people who were foolish enough to promise me something. As for the other people, that’s Monday’s job.

Next was the recordings from Sunday. I wrote a mail to Laurent enclosing the sound files with a note explaining whet needs to be done.

The organiser from the radio wrote to me too. Would I go with him tomorrow evening and photograph a music concert? So that’s my football tomorrow evening down the spout.

For the rest of the morning I’ve been working on the photos from that music concert at the end of October. I’d forgotten about those – and that’s probably because they’ve forgotten about me. I offered them a spot on my radio programmes as a liv concert one weekend but despite two reminders, I never had a reply.

In fact, of all the mails and messages that I send out offering people free air time, or trying to buy something, or trying to obtain information that might lead to me spending a lot of money with them, I have about 10%-worth of replies.

Seriously, the next person who tells me that there’s a recession on will receive a smack in the mouth.

Another thing that I’ve done today is to scrub, clean and polish Caliburn’s headlights. They have gone rather dim just recently and I found a cheap headlight-polishing kit in LeClerc. And it’s a good job that I did it when I did because half an hour before, and half an hour after, we had a rainstorm.

When I went out to clean the lights it was the only part of the day when it wasn’t raining.

Something else was to soak 750 grammes of dried fruit. I’m going to make a Christmas fruit cake this weekend so I need plenty of dried fruit soaked in flavouring. Finding alcohol-free brandy or rum essence is impossible here so I made my own out of vanilla and orange. That will sit and soak now until Sunday.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021Despite the heavy rain, I dressed for the weather and then went out for my afternoon walk.

First place to visit was the wall at the end of the car park where I can look down onto the beach. And to my surprise, there were some people down there too. They must be as crazy as I am.

One guy was out there walking his dog but I’m not sure what the others were doing. You’re probably expecting me to make some kind of comment about the peche à pied after the news the other day, but I shall refrain.

fishing boat baie de granville Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021By now it was raining quite heavily so I had to be careful where and when I produced the camera.

You can see the kind of weather that we were having by looking at this fishing boat out here in the bay. Not only is it lost in a mist of heavy rain, it’s also quite low down in the water.

Well, that’s relatively speaking, of course. What’s creating that effect is the fact that the sea is quite turbulent today and I took that photo at the apogee of a wave-cycle. That explains everything.

But as I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … going out to sea in this kind of weather day after day; week after week, is one of the more dangerous modern occupations and my hat comes off to anyone who does it.

different surfaces in water baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021One thing for certain is that these different colours in the water is not due to variations in the cloud cover.

That’s something that I can confirm today anyway because we are having 10/10ths cloud cover. It’s all thick, heavy and grey out there and yet the sea is producing another one of its multi-coloured layer effects for us.

All that I can suggest is that if it’s not down to what’s underneath on the sea bed, it must be to do with the water-type – the water with the slight brown tinge is presumably fresh water coming from a river and bringing silt with it, and being carried by the tides and current.

le loup baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021There’s none of it round the other side too. You can see the frontier half-way out towards Le Loup

There are two rivers here – a river that flows from a spring in the side of the cliff here and then there’s the River Boscq that runs underneath the Rue du Boscq and out through the harbour.

But once more, I was the only person here watching it. In view of the weather there was no-one else around at all. And, in news that shall surprise no-one, there wasn’t anything going on in the bay either. Everyone else was safe at home in the warmth.

joly france ferry terminal port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2021There were a few people walking around by the ferry terminal though.

One of the Joly France boats was there – the older one of the two with the larger upper-deck superstructure and with no step in the stern. They must be planning on running a ferry service out to the Ile de Chausey in the immediate future.

She’d drawn a little crowd too. There were a few people walking around on the quayside over there and also on the wall that goes around the Port de Plaisance.

But I’m not hanging around right now. I’m rather wet at the moment … “no surprise here” – ed … so I’m heading home for a hot coffee.

What I did once I returned home will surprise many people, but I made out a CV and sent it off in answer to a job advertisement.

There’s a good reason for doing this, which I shall now proceed to explain.

Apart from the obvious intention of going back into the Travel business where I spent many happy years in the 80s and early 90s, I wanted my CV to be on their table and brought to their attention and this was the ideal moment to do it.

In the past, I’ve travelled with this company as a client, which is rather like a school field trip rather than a tour, and to say that I’ve been unimpressed with the historians that they have engaged is something of an understatement.

Without wishing to blow my own trumpet too much, I know far more about the Norse voyages to Greenland and North America than the “historian” did, and I’ve spent much more time out on the Labrador coast visiting exciting places that relate to all kinds of history of the Province, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall.

So what I did in my CV is to post links to much of the stuff that I’ve written in the past, in the days when I used to have time, in the hope that they will read it. So if I don’t win the Tour Manager’s job (which will be a shame if I don’t) they might pick me up as a historian and geographer.

One thing that I do know is that if I don’t apply, I won’t have the job and I won’t lose anything by trying.

But it really is the kind of job that I can do standing on my head. 13 years of leading coach tours behind the iron Curtain, a couple of years organising conferences for that strange American company in Brussels where I worked with Alison. I must be in the mix somewhere

Tea tonight was pasta and a vegan burger and now I’m off to bed. Before I go though, I’ll just add in the dictaphone notes from last night. There was a party taking place and I’d been invited so I was definitely going. There were several girls going too so I thought to myself that I want to play an open hand here for if I’m lucky I might actually end up with one the way things were breaking out. Someone offered me a lift home afterwards, which I refused because I said that I wanted to see how the situation ended with a certain girl because obviously if it ended well I was going to walk her home. If she came with us in the car that would complicate matters even more because there was one boy going to be left over rom these boys and girls anyway and I was hopeful that it wasn’t going to be me. We all turned up at this party and the way that the tables were arranged we were ending up in pairs – boy-girl-boy-girl with a boy at the end. I was lucky in that I was next to the girl I wanted to be. So the meal started to be served but there was some kind of issue between the guy who in theory was alone (there was a guy with him with whom I went to school) and one of the girls that was on the point of turning ugly. I couldn’t understand what was happening. It was a simple matter of dishing out the food but for some unknown reason there was some kind of dispute. I was looking on with some kind of fright because for once I’d actually managed to sit next to the girl I wanted but the way that this was going I could see everyone walking out and that would leave me sitting on my own. One of these “just as I thought I’d got my bird and just about to get my fork stuck in it” moments.

I stepped back into this dream again later with this situation between this boy and this girl and serving out the lettuce was becoming extremely uncomfortable. There I was thinking for once in my life when I really did get the girl this is all going to backfire through no fault of my own and I’ll be on my own again

I’d already started to dig out the interview bits to fit the camera and the reporters and preparing for this to be recorded but the way that things are going on there will be no-one here to record. And what that was about I have no idea at all.

Later on I was trying to tidy up the kitchen where I was living with someone. She had a small daughter about Roxanne’s age. There were clothes everywhere all over the kitchen belonging to this child who was just taking them off and dumping them somewhere. I was collecting them up and putting them in a pile in the wash basket. It was overflowing like mad. I felt like having a word with this woman to say that only one change of clothes every day. I mentioned that I had the clothes and she replied “you know where the linen basket is. Put them there” so I continued to build up this enormous pile of clothing. She was doing something down the sink. I asked her what it was. She replied “a while ago some birds had gone in there in the evacuation and you could see them so you can shoot at them and occasionally hit one of them and it would die in the waste trap”. She said that they were thinking of selling their house so she had to have it cleared out anyway but there was enough room for the water to pass out by the side of it.

Finally I was doing a coach trip but as a passenger, not a driver. The new Covid regulations came out that meant that people could only sit at one of every two seats. I was going around putting bin bags on the alternate seats and taping them in place, making sure that there were notices telling people not to sit there. Of course, in the middle of a coach trip this was extremely difficult. Some people were being co-operative, some were not. The crane parked alongside the coach wasn’t making things easy. In the end I managed to close off half the seats with the exception of the back row because of people were there. I thought that that’s another job in this list that’s been done even if the people were not too keen. I had to borrow a set of scissors from one of the passengers but someone produced this most extraordinary sharp knife with a strange blade but that was exactly what I wanted so I borrowed that as well to do the job.

It was a good day today. Here’s hoping for a better one tomorrow.

Wednesday 17th November 2021 – HERE I ALL AM …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday 17th September 2021 – AFTER YESTERDAY’S …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Wednesday 18th August 2021 – WHAT A HORRIBLE …

… night that was!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Sunday 30th May 2021 – MY LAST DAY …

… In Leuven – for about a fortnight. I’ve made up my mind that I’m going home tomorrow.

I’ve booked my train and for a change I’m going in luxury. There’s a TGV that leaves Brussels half an hour later than the one that I usually catch and goes directly to Paris without messing around in Lille. It costs an arm and a leg but I don’t have much choice as I can’t face the struggle around Lille. I just want to go home.

Last night I watched a film right through to the end and was half-way through watching another before I fell asleep. This insomnia thing isn’t working all that well, is it?

With it being Sunday I slept right the way through until the guy in the next room started bellowing on the ‘phone to whoever he was talking to. He made several phone calls during the day and each time he came and stuck his head out of the window to make them. I’ve no idea what’s the matter with some people.

Whatever he was up to didn’t stop me going off on a nocturnal wander-around during the night. I was out looking for a car and we were looking at all kinds of American cars that had been parked up somewhere. There were tow big saloons that I had my eye on. One wasn’t too bad but the other was a bit more grotty and the gearchange was notchy. That was at on the back of a Ford step-sided pickup truck and the steppy actually started and moved about under its own steam. So I was asking a friend what he thought about the 2. There was also a big pickup there that was a car-drived pickup based on one of these flamboyant Chevrolet type things from the 1950s. It has loads of logs in the back – 5 or 6 huge tree trunk things in the back that would come in handy for firewood. I was wondering about that one as well but I hadn’t at that moment got that one to move before I awoke

What I’ve done today is to book my trains. 07:47 from Brussels and 10:50-something from Paris. With no printer here I had to set up some apps on my mobile phone to do that. One for the SNCF of course, and one for the SNCB for my rail ticket from Leuven. There’s a train at 06:34 that arrives at Brussels at 07:04 and that’s the one for me. I won’t have long to wait in Brussels.

As well as that, I’ve done the notes for another radio programme. That’s three that I’ve done this last week – it’s taken me much longer than it would have done at home of course, but it’s the most difficult part. I’m going to see if one day later this week I can do what remains of all three programmes so that I’ll be right up to date.

When that is done I’ll be over 5 months ahead, which is the plan. I went to be as far ahead as I possibly can, firstly because I want at some point to go off on another mega-voyage to Canada whenever their borders open, and there is also a second reason that I will let you think about.

It wasn’t easy to do those notes for the simple reason that I kept falling asleep during the afternoon. And that’s why I want to be home as quickly as I can, because if I arrive back at 14:00 without too much effort, which seems to be the plan right now, I can go for the comfort and safety of my own bed when I hit the wall.

There’s shopping to be done as well, so I think that maybe Caliburn and I will go for a drive on Tuesday afternoon.

But one thing that was interesting about me crashing out during the afternoon was that I managed to go off on a ramble. There was a change-round in the sleeping arrangements in our house which meant that I had to sleep in the bath. That was right down at the end of the house in the coldest room in the house. When I got into there there was water in the bath that I had to drain out, which caused someone elsewhere in the house to make a remark. It was freezing in there too so I looked around and the heater was on so I didn’t understand that. Someone came to interrupt me to say that they needed to move a load of scrap across somewhere with this baby to film this for a film so I went along as this lorry with the scrap bumped across this old cobbled port area. We turned a corner and everyone was waiting there. The scrap and the baby were unloaded and the filming took place. I was half-expecting them to ask me to appear but they didn’t. They told me that because the baby had done so well I could take it to an acting school so I went off there with it and found it to be the same place where TOTGA’s daughter was attending.

Sunday is pizza day, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall. But not today. I would have to buy it outside of course, but my argument is that if I eat out of the stocks on hand, it’s less stuff to carry home. And I’m not up to carrying stuff home right now

Alison came to see how I was, which was nice, and she brought me some vegan white chocolate from her trip to Aachen yesterday, which was even nicer. As I have said before, I don’t have many friends, but I go for quality, not quantity. My friends are the best in the world.

So having only set foot outside to accompany Alison to her car, I’m off to bed. The alarms are set for 05:00 and I’m not looking forward to that, so I need all the sleep that I can get.

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.