Tag Archives: alison weihe

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 25th May 2021 – SO WHAT CAN i …

… say about today then?

Nothing of any use, probably. I didn’t go to sleep until late, although it was the usual fallback of starting to watch a film that did the business.

And despite maybe one or two little disturbances during the night I slept right through until 07:47 when I was awaoken by a student nurse bringing me my medication – and a coffee.

There has also been an endless stream of visitors too – doctors, nurses, students, dieticians, cleaners as well as Kaatje my psychiatrist and we had a really good chat.

Quite a few of them came in the morning to when I was trying to revise my Welsh and you’ve no idea just how difficult that makes it, and even one or two came during the actual lesson which made things even more difficult. But nevertheless apart from the video stalling a couple of times the lesson passed well enough.

No lunch for me though because I had another examination to have. This time they took me, complete with the intravenous drip, on a wheelchair down to this big circular machine thing that they pass over the top of you.

For a change I hit the phone this afternoon and telephoned Ingrid. We had quite a chat for a good while. Its been a long time since we’ve had the opportunity to talk to each other and we had a lot to say.

Tea was potatoes and a kind of kidney bean and sweetcorn thing with a hint of green beans. A thin vegetable soup for starters followed by a slice of cake, for which I substituted another packet of crisps. And then, regrettably, I crashed out. The first time since I’ve been at the hospital.

Luckily I’d come round again by the time that Alison phoned me. We had a chat, and she told me that she’s done a little shopping for me and had managed to find a slot to visit me for tomorrow. You’ve no idea just how complicated things are for visiting people at the hospital right now with all of this Covid worry.

So apart from Alison, what is tomorrow going to bring? At least there’s no Welsh lesson but I imagine that there will be plenty of tests and an endless stream of visitors yet again. And maybe one or two surprises as well.

Maybe I might even go off on another voyage during the night. Last night’s wasn’t up to all that much. There were a couple of Greek boys who were boasting to these girls about their wartime exploits and that sort of thing. They explained that they were twins and had elder brothers who were sets of twins. They were going on about this and that and suddenly these girls twigged that these boys were actually a little young and when they did the calculations they found out that it wasn’t these boys who had done these actions. They had been bragging a bit and it was really their elder brothers who had done it. When they let slip that their brothers were fighting in the air force, this girl tried to reassure them that it’s no sin to be proud and it’s no sin to want to fight but you aren’t allowed to etc but these boys were of the proud type and they considered it an insult that they weren’t able to get out and do it.

There might even be a case of leprosy coming into the hospital. It’ll certainly make a change from lucozade.

Monday 24th May 2021 – I’VE NOT HAD …

… a very eventful day today.

Mind you, I was awoken at 04:00 by the night nurse kneeling at my feet. I wondered what she was doing at first but it turned out that she was simply making my glucose drip work. Apparently it had stalled.

At 06:30 someone else came in to take my details – blood pressure, temperature and the like, and to take a sample of blood. Then I was left alone until 08:30. I could get on and check to see where I’d been during the night. I was with my family again. I didn’t know what I was doing or what we were doing but we had some kind of car there and we were examining it for something or other. There was some baking involved too. I offered to bake someone a special cake but for some reason found that it was actually one of the very few for whom I’d already cooked, so that wouldn’t work and I didn’t have another suggestion.

One of the guys was an old guy with flowing white hair who made all kinds of inventions, most of which were rejected out of hand. One particular night ne went downstairs to go home and he had some kind of weird jet-powered low-slung tricycle on the lawn. He got in it and it started up with a whizz and a bang. I thought that this doesn’t sound in the least bit healthy to me and wandered away.

Breakfast was served and then my dressings were changed, and you should have seen the size of the needle that was taken out of my hand. They weighed me too and I’ve lost 1.7 kilos. And judging by the liquid that’s come out of me since my operation (which seems to have done the trick) it was all due to water retention.

First we had the doctor who has been treating me. I didn’t ask him about the blood count but he didn’t propose another transfusion so I suppose that that’s good news.

As the urologist hadn’t been by 10:00 I wasn’t allowed to have a shower but I could have a good wash and a shave. At least I look more human now. Well, slightly anyway.

There was hardly enough time to go back to bed before the urologist came to see me trailing behind him a gaggle of students, like something out of DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE with James Robertson Justice. And if I had heard the WHAT’S THE BLEEDING TIME I wouldn’t have been surprised.

And I had my discussion with him in Flemish which is a good sign. I’m definitely improving.

He was replaced – in fact, crossed at the door – by the doctor from haematology with her gaggle of students. They had a discussion and compared notes. Basically, they intend to unplug my pipes and cables tomorrow and then monitor my weight for a few days.

They are certain that I shall still be here on Friday at the very least and I’m in no hurry to go. Being waited on hand and foot by a gaggle of young student nurses? Who would want to leave here. Not for nothing is this place known (by me at least) as CASTLE ANTHRAX.

Lunch of soup, pasta with tofu in a tomato sauce and followed by a pear came early, and then I followed up by dealing with a pile of correspondence that had built up over the last while. I also had to write to the Welsh Senedd and the Welsh First Minister

And to my tutor. It’s my Welsh lesson and of course I don’t have the course book with me. It’s available to download to paid-up course members which I am, so she sent me the link which was nice of her. It’ll be interesting to see how this course goes with me in an operating gown on a flaky internet connection with people coming and going like the waiting room on Euston Station.

There were Internet chats with Rosemary and Alison – and my chat with Alison was a video chat too, and several other exchanges of messages with other people. And a grateful thanks to all of your support too which is much-appreciated.

In between all of that I started to write the text for a radio programme but I didn’t get very far as everyone was coming and going this afternoon too. It’s not as peaceful and undisturbed as you might think in a hospital.

But now that this is done, I ought to go off to sleep but even though I’ve had my sleeping pill thing, I’m not in the least bit tired. I suppose that I could watch a film on the laptop but that doesn’t seem to have the same soporific effect either as it used to.

Sunday 23rd May 2021 – YOU WOULD HAVE …

… expected that I would have learnt enough about tempting fate about my postings.

“An early night” I said. “Fighting fit for tomorrow” I implied. Well, quite. Not even the usual good-old reliable stand-by of watching an old black-and-white film of the dozens that I have downloaded from THE INTERNET ARCHIVE for copyright-lapsed media and many other similar sites, something that has worked WITH MONOTONOUS REGULARITY AND RELIABILITY in the past

In fact I’d watched 2 films and there wasn’t even the vaguest possibility of sleep.

What was happening was that a pain developing in the very region that they had mentioned. And as the evening, and the night had worn on it became worse and worse. Why I hadn’t worried about it at first was because it was a pain that I’d had before and had eventually gone away all on its own.

And I hadn’t mentioned it before in these notes because it was rather a delicate subject.

By 04:30 the pain was indescribable and eventually I succumbed. In all my life I’d never had a pain quite like this. The nurse told me to wait for an hour while she monitored it and as there was no amelioration she called the night doctor.

He had a look and a poke around, and the next thing was that a porter turned up and whisked my bed off to the operating theatre. And after a considerable amount of moving about and swapping rooms, they eventually found where I was supposed to be.

The surgeon was only a young girl but she tried a trick or two first, none of which worked so I was moved yet again. She came along as well, I suppose because I did see her later. But when I arrived, it was just about 08:30. I was undressed and someone clamped a mask over my face. “Have a whiff of this” he said.

The next thing that I remember was that it was 12:35 and I was in the post-op room. “When can I go back to my room?” I asked. “There’s an important football match at 13:15”. And there was too. Pen-y-bont v Y Drenewydd in the other European Competition qualifier. “Later” replied a nurse.

Had I known and had anyone said, I’d have taken my phone with me to watch it down there because by the time that they had monitored everything and the blood transfusion had finished (blood count down yet again to 7.5 despite yesterday’s transfusion) and a porter had come to take me back, I was just in time to watch the final 30 seconds of the game.

Y Drenewydd won the match 1-0 so we are all set up for an intriguing final with Caernarfon for the last place. The 6th and 7th teams have knocked out the 4th and 5th. These two clubs are quite equal but I think that Caernarfon are playing at home and they have that certain little something.

So that’s the Kiss of Death duly given then.

intravenous drip gasthuisberg university hospital Leuven Belgium Eric HallSo here I am in my room with a pile of intravenous drips on the walkie thing. And that’s not all because there are another couple … errr … elsewhere and I’m not photographing them. You’re probably eating your meal or something right now.

Down below I’m all bandaged up and I’m confined to bed, so the nurses are pretty safe at the moment. My request for a gondola’s pole so I can punt my bed around the hospital corridors in hot pursuit has been denied which is a shame.

This would be just the ideal moment for Castor to come along and put in an appearance, enter my bubble and soothe my fevered brow. And wouldn’t that be nice if it were ever to happen. But it’s not unfortunately so I shall have to cope on my own which is a bit miserable.

hospital meal gasthuisberg university hospital Leuven Belgium Eric HallAt least the food here is better than at that dreadful doss-house in Riom where they served me up half a plate of overcooked courgettes that time.

Tonight’s tea was a couple of small breadcrumbed quorn burgers of the type that I once bought in NOZ, with potatoes and endives. With tomato soup to start and although I couldn’t eat the dessert (a milky chocolate dessert thing) the nurse brought me a bag of crisps instead.

The issues with the diet by the way are due to the fact that both the dietician and cute Kaatje who says that she is my social worker but is really my psychiatrist (all terminally ill patients have a psychiatrist allotted to them) are on holiday until Tuesday.

When it all went quiet I made up a playlist of my favourite albums so I’m surrounded by some really good music, I’ve had internet chats with Esi and Alison, internet chats with Rosemary, Liz (whom I’ve convinced that my suffering is worth at least 2 cakes) and TOTGA as well as a few others, friendly nurses who run off and bring me bottles of Sprite and packets of crisps, and reasonable food, a comfy bed and some peace and quiet.

What more could any man desire? Apart from TOTGA, Castor and Kaatje to bubble up and soothe my fevered brown of course.

Saturday 22nd May 2021 – AND NOW I KNOW …

… why I’m here in the hospital right now.

They gave me a blood test he other day and the count was 7.6. That’s well below the critical limit of 8.0 and represents quite a dramatic drop from the last test that I had 4 weeks ago.

This will explain a lot about my behaviour over the last couple of weeks and also explains why I’m here. The drop has been so dramatic that they are quite concerned.

As an aside – that’s why I write so much about my health and how am feeling – so that I can look back and compare my results with how I’m feeling and it gives me some kind of guide to how I’m doing.

This morning I was allowed something of a lie-in, and I found out why, and that was because I needed an ecograph and a stomach x-ray and for that I needed an empty stomach. And so no breakfast for me. Tomorrow we’ll have a 06:30 start, despite it being a Sunday.

And another thing too, in that the girl who gave me the ecograph can run her apparatus all over my thorax any time she likes too. Not for nothing have I chosen to be in a University Teaching Hospital with loads of students examining my credentials.

Meanwhile, where had I been during the night? I had started off in London, trying to get back to Aunt Mary’s. I didn’t know which way to go. I was going to get on any train and work my way around because the metro stations were just so packed with people and even I was having to wait on the stairs until the platform was cleared. Finalltya train pulled in but I couldn’t get on that one. The next one pulled and it was a Northern Line train. It didn’t go into the City at all. It went around the top of the town and I was trying to work out where I could change. I noticed that it crossed the line that I wanted, cross the Northern Line so I had to alight at one station and walk to another one. I didn’t think that they would be far away even if they didn’t connect so I thought that I’d ask someone. There was this girl standing next to me and I asked her. She looked at me and said “why did you ask me? Why didn’t you ask someone else?”. She said that she didn’t know. I think she thought that I was trying to chat her up, which I probably was, but anyway … I asked someone else, a couple of others on the train but they didn’t know. The girl said that she knew a woman and the woman explained roughly how to get there. It was only a 5-minute walk so it didn’t make any problem of mine. The girl asked where I was going so I told her. I said that my aunt lived near there. She said “ohhh la la, plenty of money there!”. I had a laugh and a smile. She said “I hope that you’ll be OK there” and “watch out when you are out on your bike” everything like that, teasing, because people who live near my aunt have piles of money – it was well-known as an area that was well-off so she was having a good tease at me about it. I wondered what was going through her mind. It was a shame that I had to get off when I did and walk through a couple of streets to find this other metro station to take me to the one near my aunt’s

Later on there was something about playing tennis with an old woman. She said that she was 70 but she looked much older than that. She was hitch-hiking to a tennis court so I picked her up. She said she was off to Ellesmere Port so I left her at my friend’s at Neston but she didn’t have the red card that you needed so I don’t know how she was going to manage with that. She had some kind of illness too. I went on with this guy who I’d also picked up hitch-hiking. We parked and we walked somewhere around North London again and ended up at the supermarket. We didn’t go in, we just looked at all of the kids playing all around. I walked over to the river where there used to be a bridge that had fallen down. There were crowds of people hanging around and there were people jumping off the bridge onto the sand about 60 feet below. They were braver then me. They would jump It was a hilly outcrop, one or two of them would get on the hilly outcrop and then spring forward again. others would go straight down in a variety of gymnastic positions until they hit the ground. But there wasn’t much room as there were lots of rocks that had fallen there. They had to land on the sand between the rocks and from 60 feet up, doing that wasn’t easy. This guy came over to me and said goodbye. he explained that the thing with boring people is that they don’t really make life interesting etc but “you were very interesting” he said “even though I wasn’t very keen on what you were saying or doing, you made it sound quite interesting so that made it an enjoyable time”. I thanked him and he disappeared.

Some time later they came along with a pouch of blood and I was given a blood transfusion. We’ll see what good that does me.

But there are many more tests planned for me during the next couple of days so I dunno about that. By the time that they finish their tests and give me a report, I’ll probably need another blood transfusion.

This afternoon in between the interruptions I brought the blog up to date and then later I settled down to watch the football. Barry Town were entertaining Caernarfon Town in the first of the playoff matches for the vacant Welsh place in the European Cup next season.

Barry is a team that is technically so much better but the players of Caernarfon have an extraordinary team spirit and actually play like a team.

And that was how things went in the game. Barry pressed forward relentlessly in the earlier part of the game but Caernarfon looked quite dangerous on the break. And they took advantage when Mike Lewis in the Barry goal got his foot to stop a dangerous shot on goal but could could only divert it into the path of Mike Hayes who buried it in the back of the net.

Their lead didn’t last long though. From a corner a Barry Town header hit a Caernarfon defender and the ricochet completely flat-footed Tyler French in he Caernarfon goal.

In the second half Barry Town pushed forward but were caught by a beautiful ball by Jack Kenny into space over the top of the Barry defence was pounced upon by Mike Hayes who was quickest to the ball and he put a beautiful lob over the head of Mike Lewis into the net for the second goal.

Barry Town threw everything at Caernarfon but the Caernarfon defence stood firm and deep in stoppage time with everyone up in the Caernarfon penalty area looking for the equaliser, Caernarfon caught them again and Jake Bickerstaff ran almost the full length of the field to score a third.

Later on I had a video chat with Alison but now I’m off to bed. It might be early but tomorrow is Sunday and a Day of Rest when I usually have a lie-in. But with a 06:30 start, I need to totter off now.

Thursday 20th May 2021 – FOR THE FIRST TIME …

social distancing cafe tiensestraat Leuven Belgium Eric Hall… since I really can’t remember when, I had a meal in a restaurant.

Not this restaurant here in the Tiensestraat, I have to say, but this is the best example of social distancing in a café that I could find. And when I say “in” a café, I don’t actually mean that, because we aren’t allowed to be “in” a restaurant All we can do is sit on a terrace.

Alison and I went to the Greenway, the vegan restaurant in town. The social distancing wasn’t as thorough as this but it was still very nice to actually have a meal at a restaurant, even if it was out of doors, for the first time since whenever.

And then we went for a coffee on another terrace where there was simply a separation of tables but as the café wasn’t crowded it wasn’t an issue. We could sit quietly by and watch the hordes of policemen arrive and disappear into the Square behind us where there must have been something going on that required their attention.

This morning after having crashed out so spectacularly last night, I awoke, as you might expect, before the alarm was due to go off, so I was up and about quite promptly when the first alarm went off.

After the medication I made a start on the notes for yesterday and it took me much longer than it ought to have done to do it as I wasn’t really all that motivated. There was tons to write as well so it’s no surprise really.

There had been a voyage during the night too, as I discovered when I listened to the dictaphone some time later. My brother had gone to Dresden in Germany for something. I had to travel there so I was looking through the dashcam files and I came across one of when I’d been to Dresden in February one year. I remember getting close to the ton and how beautiful it was and on the outskirts I’d tried to find a place to stop to take a good photograph. I had to drive miles around in like a box to try to get a really good place. At one point I was driving alongside a river and suddenly came to a spot where the bank had collapsed and all these cars were parked in this field. I asked what had happened and they said that they had been driving on the ice when suddenly there had been a flash flood and they had all been transported away in this flash flood and just dropped when the water receded. All of the banks at the side of the river had collapsed under this kind of flash flood so they were all now stranded in these fields. Somewhere alongside were a brother and sister, arty types, and they had been having a big row and dispute about art. They were playing a strange kind of game with a load of magazines, something like “snap”. I was watching them play and they were basically making up 2 piles of these magazines. When they reached a certain point they would stop, shuffle these 2 piles together and start again but I never did understand or get the hang of what it was that they were doing. It looked totally weird to me and I couldn’t see what it was that was going on.

And there was also time to choose the music for another radio programme.

Round about 12:00 I stopped everything and made my sandwiches for lunch, and then headed off on my way to the hospital.

roadworks amerikalaan franz tielemanslaan Leuven Belgium Eric HallInto the town centre and out of the other side and in the Brusselsestraat at the junction of the Amerikalaan and the Franz Tielemanslaan I cam across another set of road works.

There have been plenty of roadworks going on all over the town as regular readers of this rubbish will recall and they have been taking years to do some of them. And so I wonder how long it’s going to take to do this lot on the corner here.

And it’s hard to see exactly what they are going to be doing because there were plenty of places in the town that are in need of much more work than this and I can give them half a dozen leads without even thinking about it.

sint pieters hospital brusselsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallThe Brusselsestraat leads past the site of Sint Pieter’s Hospital, the hospital that they have been demolishing for the last year or so at least, and I was keen to see how the works were going on because they seem to have been taking for ever to do it.

And to my surprise, I found out that the hospital has gone completely after all of this time. I know that it was a big building but they seemed to be really taking their time with it.

They are now actively engaged in clearing up the site ready for redevelopment of this new parkland and housing development. They are even talking about taking out the culvert and exposing the River Dijle to the open air.

sint pieters hospital brusselsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallThere is one thing that can be said about this demolition work in that it has opened up several new vistas that were previously hidden from view.

In this photo we can see the Predikherenkerk in the Oude Lieve Vrouwstraat from a viewpoint that we have never seen before, and then further round to the left is the rear of the ancient Sint-Elizabeth Gasthuis and the Convent of the Augustinian Sisters that we haven’t seen before.

In the previous photograph we could see the rear of the Sint Rafael Hospital which, as far as I am aware, is going to remain.

And all that we are left with here are a couple of large piles of rubble.

sint pieters hospital brusselsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallIt’s not quite everything though.

There’s a big digger here that seems to be fishing rubble out of what was formerly the cellar of the building. And I’m wondering why they would be doing that because if they were going to develop the site they would need to fill in the cellar anyway and what better way to do it than to use the rubble that is present on the site.

But having watched them digging stuff out from the whole I pushed off on my way along the Brusselsestraat on my way towards the hospital on the edge of town for my usual four-weekly appointment with destiny at Castle Anthrax.

cycle racks sint jacobs kerk kruisstraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallRound the corner in the Kruisstraat I intended to look into the Sint Jacob’s Kerk but the door was locked. And in any case I was distracted by some work that was going on here.

They have obliterated a couple of car parking spaces and replaced them with a pile of bicycle racks. At the moment the bicycle racks aren’t concreted into the ground but we can see the workmen on the right busily mixing a load by hand that will concrete them firmly.

That is something that has rather bewildered me as well because there aren’t any residential buildings or any colleges all that close to where they have put the bicycle racks no I’m not sure who it is that is expected to use them.

sint jacobsplein Leuven Belgium Eric HallAnd now finally, something extremely exciting.

It looks as if after all of this time the compound in the Sint Jacobs Plein has been dismantled.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we came home from Canada one year and found that they had dug a huge hole in the square, apparently for an overflow tank for the new drainage system that they were going to install. And when they had finished it, they filled it in and fenced it off to use it as a works compound for the roadworks that were taking place.

But that’s all gone and finished now and the cars are back parked on it. Life is slowly returning to normal.

monseigneur van waeyenberghlaan Leuven Belgium Eric HallThe work that they had been doing was to dig up the Biezenstraat and the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan and sink some really huge culverts in there for drainage.

This is work that we have been following for the last couple of years as they slowly, much too slowly in my opinion, worked their way down the street from top to bottom but now it’s all finished by the looks of things and all of the traffic, including the service buses that run to the hospital, are now in there.

We have to admire the cycle lanes in the main road. There’s no danger of missing those, even if they do restrict the flow of the traffic. Not that I have anything against restricting the flow of traffic, but there needs to be ample parking on the edge of the town with adequate pubic transport to take people to where they want to go.

And I see that the water fountain that they were trying to restore now seems to be completed.

goedsbloemstraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallIt’s not actually the end of the roadworks in this area though.

We pass by the mouth to the Goedsbloemstraat on our way up to the hospital. We noticed a couple of months ago that they had started to dig it up and despite the fact that in the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan the roadworks have no finished, they still haven’t finished off whatever they were doing here.

But whatever it is that they are doing, it doesn’t look as if it involves any large sever pipes. There are just a few small ones there and the rolls of pipework on the edge of the street.

But anyway I left them to it and pushed on to the hospital.

monseigneur van waeyenberghlaan Leuven Belgium Eric HallAnother thing that regular readers of this rubbish will recall is that the last time that we were here they were digging a trench in the grass verge and there were a few heavy pipes at the side of the trench.

All of that has finished, they’ve moved the pipes, filled in the trench and replaced the turf. You wouldn’t really know that they have actually done anything there by now. It’s all finished and the workmen have moved off elsewhere. Maybe to the Brusselsestraat at the junction of the Amerikalaan and the Franz Tielemanslaan

At the hospital I registered in and had my treatment. Nothing much happened about that but then I was sent down to have my heart examined. They found my heart so at least I’m not a Tory, but what the technician discovered led him to call for his professor who examined my results in depth.

From there I was sent back to the Day Centre where the Professor who handles my case came to see me. I go to the hospital every four weeks and have done for over 5 years now, and I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen the professor – and yet today I get to see two.

She examined me, which is a first since March 2016, and when I asked her what was the issue she replied “we’ll be in touch”. Strangely, they didn’t say “see you in 4 weeks” like they usually do.

By the time that they threw me out it was too late to go to the Pharmacy so I headed off back into town.

streamlined cycle gasthuisberg hospital Leuven Belgium Eric HallBut here’s something exciting, shooting down the cycle track at the side of the hospital. It’s another one of these streamlined low-sung bicycle things.

We’ve seen a few of these out and about here and there over the years but we’ve never ever had the opportunity to inspect one at close quarters. But knowing that there’s at least one of them in Leuven gives me hope that I’ll get to have a look at one of them in due course. I’ll have to keep a good eye out.

But one thing that I noticed from this photograph is that this one appears to be a three-wheeler and I don’t recall having seen one of this type before. The heavy construction of the front wheels suggests something more than an ordinary bicycle.

biezenstraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallA little earlier, we saw the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan all nicely fitted out and finished. The other end of the street is called the Biezenstraat and I can safely say that that end is finished too.

People can actually reach the fritkot without having to scramble over a pile of rubble – not that a pile of rubble would ever prevent a Belgian from reaching a fritkot, but that of course is another story. They do say that the reason why there have never been any Belgian astronauts is because there aren’t any fritkots on the moon.

The trees in the Sint Jacobsplein are in full leaf of course and look really nice but I would have expected that, with the country’s commitment to zero emissions and the like, they would have planted a few more to absorb the pollution.

building site kapucijnenvoer Leuven Belgium Eric HallDown at the far end of the Biezenstraat is the Kapucijnenvoer and regular readers of this rubbish will recall having seen the demolition of the building that was here.

They had dug a big hole in the ground where the building was situated and I speculated that they may be making some kind of subterranean car park at the bottom. Now they have some concrete reinforcement matting down there and I imagine that the next step will be the delivery of a few hundred m3 of concrete.

On my way home from the hospital in the future I shall be keeping a close eye on what’s going on here. With this amount of car parking space, it’s obviously going to be a very big building.

building site kapucijnenvoer zongang Leuven Belgium Eric HallSomething else on which I shall be keeping a close eye in the future is the building work that’s taking place between the Kapucijnenvoer and the Zongang.

We’d seen them clearing the site and moving in the building materials last time that we were here, and over the last 4 weeks they seem to have started the construction in earnest. There is some kind of site advertisement telling us about apartments for sale, so that’s what I reckon that we’ll be having here on the site.

In the town centre I treated myself to an ice cream from the stall that sells vegan ice ceam, and it was the quickest ice cream that I have ever seen because as soon as I had it in my sweaty little mitt Alison rang me up to say that she was here, so I wandered off round there to meet her.

medieval city walls handbooghof Leuven Belgium Eric HallAfter our meal and a coffee we went off for a walk around the town. I was dying for a walk down the Handbooghof along by the River Dijle because I was interested in seeing how they were getting on with the renovations of the old medieval city walls.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that in the past they have been sagging and bowing out, looking quite precarious and dangerous and after 7 centuries they were badly in need of some kind of renovation if they were to remain in place. It always reminded me of the castle in “The Carpathian Terror” – “The first Count Romany built it in 1410. That’s given it almost 500 years in which to disintegrate”

They fenced it off a few months ago and moved in some building material.

medieval city walls handbooghof Leuven Belgium Eric HallBut now the renovations are well under way and it won’t be long before they will have finished.

What is depressing about it though is that they have used more modern brick rather than contemporary brick in patching them up. I realise that they can’t always find the correct stone to do the job these days but at least they could have made more of an effort to find something that matches.

Alison had another appointment so she brought me home after our walk. Back here I started to write up my notes from yesterday but I fell asleep again in the middle of it all. It was actually quite late so I went to bed and I’ll finish off my notes in the morning.

Thursday 22nd April 2021 – THE BAD NEWS …

… is that my heart is showing the first signs of giving out.

One of the things that was mentioned to me all those years ago was that the thing that’s keeping me going is the fact that I have a very strong heart. And it needs to be, with having to pump around much faster than normal to keep the oxygen supply going. Once that stops going, that will be that.

And all of that will explain the tiredness and a few other symptoms too. Next time that I go I’ll be having an ECG – they are bringing my next scan forward, and then they are going to come up with a cunning plan. At least, I hope so.

But I’m never one to let it get me down. I sent a message to TOTGA asking her when she’ll be coming over to France. I told her that I might not last very long but I’ll go out with a smile on my face.

This morning I awoke at the first alarm. Not with a smile on my face unfortunately but you can’t win a coconut every time.

After the medication I sat down and went to choose the music for the next batch or radio programmes. And by the time that I knocked off at 11:00 I’d chosen the music for 4 of the programmes.

A mug of coffee and some toast later I went and had a shower, following which I made my sandwiches for lunch.

palm trees grote markt leuven belgium Eric HallAnd what do you think about these glorious palm trees?

On the way out towards the hospital I passed through the Grote Markt in the centre of the town. And it was a case of dodging the workmen because there were all sorts of things going on here in the Grote Markt this afternoon.

And I don’t just mean the glorious potted palm trees either. They were erecting little booths here too with signs and noticeboards. A great many of the restrictions imposed upon the country because of the Corona virus are going to be lifted in the next few days and open-air life is due to resume.

There now seems to be a programme of smartening up the town ready for the summer season.

machines demolishing sint pieters hospital brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric HallFurther down the street in the Brusselsestraat is the Sint Pieters Hospital that they made a start on demolishing about a century a go.

Had I been in charge of the works I would have had it down in a matter of minutes by calling on MY OLD NEIGHBOUR from Crewe all those years ago. What would half a dozen broken windows have been compared to all of this disruption that has continued for all of this time?

They haven’t advanced a great deal over the last four weeks since I have been here last. Even with machines like this prowling around. What they have managed to make is a huge mound of rubble and several hundred tons of dust that were swirling around the place. It’s probably going to take them several more months to shift all of that rubble and I do wonder where they are going to put it all. I wouldn’t like to be here when those lorries are pulling in and out of the compound.

machines demolishing sint pieters hospital brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric HallThe most exciting machines on the demolition site are round at the other side of the building.

There’s one in the background that looks like a huge prehistoric dinosaur with huge hydraulic jaws that are nibbling away at the concrete beams of the building, dragging them out once it has snapped them off and dropping them at the foot of the building where the digger standing next to it can pick them up and move them round to where the breaker is. The breaker can then shatter them into smaller pieces.

It was quite exciting watching them working like this, but I couldn’t hang around for long because I have an appointment at the hospital and I can’t be late for it. There’s plenty of time to see more action at the demolition site because they aren’t going to finish this job any time soon. So I pushed off down the street on my way out of town.

parking sint jacobsplein leuven belgium Eric HallAt the back of the Sint Jacobs Church is the Sint Jacobsplein. That’s been a hotbed of work for the last few years too, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall and it still doesn’t look as if it’s finished.

They dug out a huge hole in there while I was in Canada one year and it seems to be for some kind of storm drain overflow. When they filled it in and resurfaced it they fenced it off with some of this temporary fencing.

Since then it’s being used as a storage depot for the workmen who have dug up all of the roads around here, installed the new drainage system and the last time that I saw them they were still a long way off finishing it. It makes me wonder where they’ve got to with that, but I’ll find that out in a moment.

roadworks sint huberstusstraat leuven belgium Eric HallA few days ago I was musing over the idea that they won’t have made very much progress in the work that they will have done in the Sint Hubertusstraat.

And it looks as if I was right too. There are several vehicles parked in the street but these are contractors’ vehicles by the looks of things. The road is still closed off to vehicular traffic and as you can see from the surface of the street, you can see that they still have one other level of surface at least to put on there before it was finished.

And I bet that the residents of the street are totally fed up of all of the dust and debris that’s been blowing all around here for all of this time that it’s taken to install this new drainage system.

restoring old drinking fountain st hubertusstraat leuven belgium Eric HallAlso in the Sint Hubertuslaan is an old drinking fountain that I’ve seen on all of these occasions that I’ve been walking past here.

From what I’ve seen in the past it’s been dirty and rusty and clearly out of use for a considerable period of time but it looks as if things are about to change.

One good thing that these renovations have brought about is that at long last there’s a team of people now cleaning it all up. And they are doing a very thorough job of it too. I wonder if they are going to restore it into actual working order where people can draw off water.

That would certainly be something novel for the town, although knowing just how many cholera outbreaks were traced to drinking fountains in the 19th Century, I’m not sure if restoring it for the general public to use would be a wise thing to do in the middle of a global pandemic.

monseigneur van waeyenberghlaan leuven belgium Eric HallRegular readers of this rubbish will have seen the mess that they’ve made in the past in the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan, the street that leads to the hospital.

At least they seem to have got to grips with this a little more and if they aren’t careful, it might even be open within the next few months. But I’m not too optimistic though. The “no waiting” signs don’t have any “from” and “to” dates on it, so clearly there isn’t a target.

But what fills me with dismay here is the cycle path that they have laid. For the car parking places they have found some nice old-style cobbles – good old Belgian pavé and there are some nice paving stones for the footpath. But couldn’t they really have done any better than a slab of tarmac for the cycle track?

heron herenstraat leuven belgium Eric HallAt the top of the hill is a big pond and there are always a few birds hanging around there.

This one was extremely interesting. I shan’t bore you with any of my birdwatching stories but I shall just say that I’ve no idea what it is. It might well be a heron, for all I know. I did ask it but I couldn’t hear the reply. I’m probably too hard of heron.

After a Covid test I was given a surgical face mask (they are taking this seriously) and then sent off for my medical treatment. And we all know the results of that. We shall have to see how things unfold after the next visit and the ECG.

They have given me some new medication and told me to up the dose for one or two. And I need to see my own doctor for another blood test in a couple of weeks time.

roadworks monseigneur van waeyenberghlaan leuven belgium Eric HallThe top half of the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan is now actually open to traffic, but you can’t go far as several vehicles have found out.

There were some driving down there too but when they realised that they couldn’t go down as far as they thought, they turned round and came back again. It’s going to be a good while before we have the buses driving back down here again.

But I left them to it and carried on down the street back towards town. And although it was a nice afternoon, I noticed that all of the workmen seemed to have knocked off for the day now. No wonder that they don’t seem to be getting too much done if these are the kinds of hours that they are keeping.

roadworks biezenstraat leuven belgium Eric HallWhen we were looking at the Sint Jacobsplein earlier this afternoon, I’d forgotten to look at the Biezenstraat that runs between the Square and the Kapucijnenvoer.

That’s been dig up for what seems like a century too without there being much progress. It’s still a long way from being finished but there were at least a couple of workmen there brushing up the dust – something that seemed to me like a pretty forlorn occupation.

There was also a large cherry-picker down the street too. They are working on the apex of the roof of one of the Sint Rafael Hospital building in the Kapucijnenvoer. It’s probably something to do with the weatherproofing of a seal thee.

Part of the demolition programme of the Sint Pieters Hospital included the demolition of the building adjoining the Sint Rafael building, and I suspect that that is where the issue might be.

construction site kapicijnenvoer leuven belgium Eric HallBut on the demolition site itself they are progressing with this huge hole that they have dug and that’s turning into something quite enormous.

You can see all of the reinforcements that they are using at the side of the hole – all the concrete columns that are holding back the earth. It may well be that the hole will actually be a car park and the concrete columns will be used as piles on which they will build the actual building.

There are two enormous tower cranes on the site right now so it looks as if it’s going to be something fairly substantial that will be going up on that site. We might be seeing a very tall block of flats at some time in the future, whenever that might be.

construction site zongang kapucijnenvoer leuven belgium Eric HallAnother thing that regular readers of this rubbish will recall seeing is that building there, either a new-build or a well-modernised old one.

It suddenly sprang into view about a year ago as what had been build on the Kapucijnenvoer in front of it must have been demolished. Today though, they had cleared the site of weeds, there were some concrete reinforcing mats piled up, and a surveyor busily measuring up.

It looks as if we are going to see yet more construction in the vicinity, and there was indeed some advertising on the fence suggesting a small apartment block going up on the site. It’s very much all change in the city these days.

From there I walked off back home, having an exchange of messages with TOTGA on the way back.

Later on, I went back out again to meet Alison for a walk around the city.

fountain herbert hooverplein leuven belgium Eric HallDown the street and across the Herbert Hooverlaan where the preparations for the reopening of the country are well under way.

The fountain has now burst back into life again and there were quite a few people gathered around it, and even one or two of them running through it. It was quite amusing to see how they responded when they were half-way through and the fountain suddenly erupted.

For a change I didn’t photograph it. It’s not really the done thing in these circumstances.

But there are loads of tables and chairs piled up outside the cafes on the square. Apparently outdoor cafe activities can restart in the near future and huge areas of the public space are being transformed.

crowds monseigneur ladeuzeplein leuven belgium Eric HallWhile I was waiting for Alison I looked at the crowds of people hanging around in the Monseigneur Ladeuzeplein enjoying the evening sunshine.

Crowds and crowds of them too, and also a few electronic notices to say what is and isn’t permitted in the Square.

When Alison turned up we went off to the Greenway and she bought some fried sweet potatoes. And then we had the famous retort “these sweet potatoes are hard to eat in polite company. It’s a good job that I’m with you!”.

We came back here for a coffee and then Alison went off home. Having had some of her sweet potatoes, I just had a handful of pasta and vegetables before writing up my notes.
.

Now I’m off to bed and with no alarm in the morning I’ll be having a lie-in. And quite right too. It always takes a lot out of me, my day at the hospital and with all of the walking that I’ve done today.

Friday 26th March 2021 – THE LAST THING …

… that i was expecting to be doing today s going back to the hospital.

moving house with furniture lift monseigneur van waeyenberghlaan leuven belgium Eric HallSo while you are admiring the photo of a furniture removal with a Belgian furniture lift the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan, I was busy answering a telephone call.

And at 08:30 too – nothing like the early bird catching the worm, hey?

Believe it or not, they actually awoke me too because with no alarm this morning I was flat out in bed fast asleep. A really deep sleep too – that thing that they gave me for my cramps seemed to have worked because I didn’t awaken once during the night, not even for 10 seconds.

Nothing on the dictaphone to say if I had been anywhere during the night. However I did have this weird feeling that TOTGA came to visit me during the night. She told me that she had changed her address and was living somewhere else. That took me completely by surprise because I couldn’t imagine her going to live anywhere else without taking her daughter with her.

While I’ve been here today I’ve selected the music for four radio programmes for the future and I’ve paired the music for three of them.

One thing that’s important though is that I must remember to keep a free week in the middle of September.

That’s the weekend of the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival and while I was back home last July I found all of the promotion disks for the three years that I did the photography for the festival.

Those disks contain samples of the music of the groups who played there for those years so I am planning on making my own Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival on the radio for that week.

After lunch I went out and hit the streets, in the direction of the hospital. But not the hospital itself but the pharmacy at the side. They had made a mistake with the dispensing yesterday and given me the wrong medicine. I had to take back what they had given me and collect the correct medicine.

road works brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric HallJust for a change I went a different way towards the hospital, right down the Brusselsestraat.

There had been a sign saying “road closed -diversion” that I’d noticed yesterday so I was interested to see what was going on there. And sure enough, they have the road all dug up around here too.

These road works all around the town are causing chaos and I remembered Alison telling me yesterday that she had been held up by roadworks on her way into town to meet me.

roadworks goudsbloemstraat leuven belgium Eric HallFrom the roundabout in the Brusselsestraat I cut down the Goudsbloemstraat towards the junction between the St Hubertusstraat and the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan.

This is where the roadworks have been going on for as long as I can remember. We’ve seen plenty of photographs of these roadworks including a couple from yesterday, but we have never seen them from this angle before.

The cyclists had a bit of a struggle to pass through the roadworks, and the clouds of dust being generated by the guy with the concrete cutter cutting the kerbstones didn’t help matters much. I’m glad that I was wearing my facemask.

moving house with furniture lift monseigneur van waeyenberghlaan leuven belgium Eric HallA little earlier we’d seen a photo of a furniture removal being undertaken in the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan.

Because of all of the apartments in Belgium, every furniture removal company has a furniture removal lift and they always excite the attention of people from other countries who probably haven’t seen them before.

You can also see how they are advancing with the street repairs here. The people on the pavement to the left, and the cycle track that they are building at the side. The cobbles are where people will be permitted to park their cars and then of course the roadway in the centre of the photograph – whenever it will be completed.

new pipework herestraat leuven belgium Eric HallThey were cracking on with that pipe that they had started yesterday.

There was a big pile of pipes around where they were working yesterday and they have now laid a line almost as far as the ring road. Maybe the digger is for digging the trench into which they will eventually drop the pipework.

At the pharmacy I handed back the medication that they had given me yesterday and took the correct medicines and walked back down to the centre of the town.

The ice cream stall was open so I treated myself to the first one of the year. It wasn’t all that warm outside today but I had certainly felt the strain of the walk. My knee isn’t hurting as badly as it did on Wednesday but occasionally there is a twinge just to remind me that it isn’t all that happy.

girls in tree sint donatuspark leuven belgium Eric HallIn the past I have spent a lot of time talking about birds and birdwatching.

The usual place to sit and carry out some birdwatching is close to a tree and to watch them as they start to build their nest. And here today in the Sint Donatuspark we find half a dozen birds busily making a nest in a tree.

And these are much more like the species of bird that I am interested in watching. And I’m very knowledgeable on this subject, having had many lectures on the subject of birdwatching in the past, mainly from Nerina.

sint donatuspark leuven belgium Eric HallThe Sint Donatuspark is one of my favourite spots in Leuven.

It’s roughly the site of part of the old medieval walls and the vacant space in front of and behind. We can see one of the towers here that formed part of the city defences back in those days.

The park is very popular as a place to hang out and there us always a crowd of students relaxing in here. Regular readers of this rubbish will in fact recall that Alison and I came for a walk through here late in the evening last time I was here and there was quite a crowd of people in here partying

In the background over on the right is the stage where they have occasional outdoor performances. And I particularly like the whale painted on the wall on the back.

house building dekenstraat leuven belgium Eric HallOn the way back I went past the house that they have been rebuilding in the Dekenstraat for the last however long.

It seems that they are almost on the point of completion after all this time and it won’t be long before they move away the security fencing.

Back here I carried on with my radio work until it was time to stop for tea. Pasta and veg with a nut burger, and it was all delicious.

Having finished now my notes I’m going to do my packing and then I’ll do the washing up and then I’m off to bed. I have a very early start in the morning and I do hope that all of the trains will be running on time. There’s a football match on the internet at 15:30 and I don’t want to miss it.

Thursday 25th March 2021 – WHAT A HORRIBLE …

… night that was!

demolition st pieters hospital brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric Hall… while you admire the photos of the roadworks and demolitions that we have been following over the last few years, I’ll tell you all about it.

And if you want to know more about the photos as you pass by them, click on the image aside and a new window will open up with an enlarged photo and a caption.

But I spent most if not all of the night battling with cramp. I’ve had some bad nights just recently with cramp, and some worse nights too, but none were as bad as last night’s attacks.

demolition st pieters hospital brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric HallIn fact, even when it started to grow light I was still awake in agony having already hopped around the rom to free everything off at least half a dozen times

When the alarm went off I was in no condition to leave the bed and in fact i totally ignored all of the alarms. Instead, I stayed in bed until about 08:20 and it’s been a while since I’ve done that in the week.

But at least I managed to drift off to sleep at some point and I even managed to go off on my travels. And that reminds me – if you missed last night’s voyages they are on-line now too

sint Jacobsplein leuven belgium Eric HallGreenock Morton were playing in a football match last night and were attacking the opponents’ goal. The team that they were playing had a couple of old Morton players in it like Gregor Buchanan. They were attacking the goal and they should have scored three or four in this one particular movement. They were trying to force the ball over the line. One of the Morton players even managed to lift it over the bar from standing on the goal line, there were that many bodies in the way and he had to get the ball over them. Interesting though was that all of the players were just like wraiths, something that made me wonder if the opponents were not in fact Wraith Rovers, just a ghostly outline rather than actual real players whom I could see. I remember shouting encouragement from the terraces but funnily enough I was the only person doing it and it sounded terribly embarrassing

biezenstraat leuven belgium Eric HallLater on there was a roundabout that had been built by Crewe and on this roundabout heading towards the town was my former friend from Stoke on Trent on a motorbike carrying a 5-gallon container of diesel. I was going the other way on a motorbike. Behind him on my old Honda Melody was a young girl who has accompanied me on many a nocturnal ramble in the past and whose absence I regretted quite bitterly the other night. She was only about 10 but she was riding this Honda Melody. I pulled up alongside the guy and we started to have a bit of a chat. The girl said “look here!” and she went off on this motor bike, did a couple of sliding turns, came back and slid to a halt. The bike toppled over and she got off and came to sit in between the two of us, telling us all about riding her motor bike. I asked “have you been taking Strawberry Moose out for a ride?”. she replied “yes”. The guy was saying that she’d held him tight while driving. She replied “ohh no! He’s been for a ride with me properly on it”.

And that brought back many happy memories of when I was living with Laurence and 8 year-old Roxanne 20-odd years ago and I taught Roxanne to ride the Melody

Sint-Hubertusstraat Leuven belgium Eric HallComing downstairs was something of a stagger.

My knee was certainly better but it wasn’t that good and I still couldn’t put too much weight on it and I needed to grip onto something to haul myself up into a standing position.

But I did eventually reach the ground floor and I attacked the dictaphone to see where I’d been during last night and the night before. And to my surprise, I had travelled quite far as you have probably noticed if you’ve read all of my notes.

monseigneur vanwaeyenberghlaan leuven belgium Eric HallLater on, I took my courage in both hands and limped off down to the supermarket.

The Delhaize rather than the Carrefour because it was closer and I wasn’t up to going the extra distance. But I did what shopping I needed to do and staggered back.

Despite my injury and despite the load that I was carrying I made it back without too much of a problem, and then made myself some toast for a rather late breakfast.

There was time for a shower and some clothes washing, and then I headed off to the hospital.

It was a depressing walk down to the town because I really wasn’t feeling like it but I did it all the same.

photographer taking photos grote markt leuven belgique Eric HallAs I passed through the Grote Markt I stumbled upon a young photgrapher doing her stuff.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, another one of the regular features on these pages is photographers taking photos. There’s usually one or two appearing every now and again.

Having seen that, I carried on with my walk past all of the building work that has been going on over the last couple of years that is progressing rather too slowly for my liking.

new pipework near the herestraat leuven belgium Eric HallUp at the hospital there was yet more excitement.

It was not easy to see what they were doing but they had a digger out there digging a trench along by the lagoon over there and they have a great long length of large-diameter rubber pipe that I imagine that they will drop into the trench when they have done it.

But as to its purpose, I’ve no idea. And the guys were too far away to ask.

At the hospital I had a Covid-test and then they could treat me for my illness. The wired me up and plugged me in and gave me my intravenous drip.

The doctor came to see me and I told her about my “incident” yesterday and all of the cramps that I’ve been having.

As for the fall, there is no damage and all of the muscles and ligaments are working fine. As for the cramps, she doesn’t think that they are cramps but what her translation from the Flemish was “wandering leg” – she didn’t know its precise English translation and I didn’t understand the Flemish.

Anyway, she’s prescribed me a pill that will ease the cramps and help me have a decent sleep. It takes a while to work so I won’t see the results for a couple of weeks.

Kaatje came to see me too and we had quite a chat. She told me about her holiday plans for a cycling tour with her friends. When she came into my room I was listening to COLOSSEUM LIVE – one of the top five live albums ever and which always brings back memories of the High Arctic and THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR

She asked me about it and I told her that it dated from 1973. “I wasn’t even born then” she replied. I keep on forgetting how old I am, although the events of yesterday and today have aged me by 20 years.

The doctor came back with my test results – blood count down to 8.9 which is no great surprise is it? And then I cleared off to pick up my medication.

herestraat leuven belgium Eric HallOutside the hospital there was a bright blue sky but some really filthy dark black clouds.

This was creating some really strange lighting effects so I took a photo of it. Unfortunately the camera was not able to reproduce the effect which is rather a disappointment so you’ll just have to imagine it.

But at least, the photo from this angle gives you an idea of how far out of town the hospital is and how far I have to walk to come here. As an aside, having gone to the shops this morning as well I’m now on 191% of my daily total according to my fitbit and that’s impressive for someone with a damaged knee.

monseigneur vanwaeyenberghlaan leuven belgium Eric HallOver the last couple of years we’ve been watching the slow rebuilding of the Monseignur Van Waeyenberghlaan and you have already seen the work that they have been doing.

The upper end of the avenue is now complete and the traffic is now able to circulate around there too part of the way down.

People on foot are able to circulate down there too so I continued on my way down the avenue and back towards town. In an hour’s time I would be meeting Alison for a chat and a coffee.

demolition kapucijnenvoer leuven belgium Eric HallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall having seen the demolition of St Pieter’s Hospital, and I posted two new photos earlier.

The demolition work has also been taking place around the back so I went to see how they were doing with that little lot.

Whatever it is that they were demolishing, they have now demolished it and the rebuilding has started. That looks as if it might be a subterranean car park down there and to the left there’s a piledriver that will be sinking the foundations of whatever will be going on top.

Alison and I had a good chat and a little wander around and then we went back to the car park underneath the Ladeuzeplein.

crowds monseigneur ladeuzeplein leuven belgium Eric HallBelgium temporarily relaxed its Covid restrictions a couple of days ago but now they are retightening them again.

There were plenty of people out and about making most of the warm weather and the end of the relaxed restrictions and they were having a little party on the Ladeuzeplein.

Just for a change, it seemed that social distancing was being respected. In fact we saw several stewards who were presumably enforcing them. And as we watched, a police car pulled onto the square and drove around to make its presence felt.

university library monseigneur ladeuzeplein leuven Eric HallThere was a really fine night tonight and I’m not surprised that so many people were out there.

The moon that was shining up above the University Library was particularly splendid. It was just the kind of thing that was crying out for a photograph so I obliged, even if the NIKON 1 J5 is not the most ideal camera for this kind of thing.

We picked up Alison’s car and she drove us back here to my little place. With not having had a coffee while we were out, I made one here and we had a nice long chat. And then I accompanied her to her car.

After she left I wrote up my notes of the day’s activities and now I’m off to bed. I’ll try one of these new pills to see where they gat me. No alarm in the morning – I’m going to have a nice lie-in. I always feel a little groggy after my treatment and the rest does me good.