Tag Archives: blood count

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday 27th May 2021 – TODAY HAS BEEN …

… a day pretty much like yesterday here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Probably nowhere but we can but try, hey?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Wednesday 27th January 2021 – MEANWHILE AT CASTLE ANTHRAX …

… my blood count is down yet again. To 9.6 this time – not a dramatic drop so I’m still holding my own (although I’m glad that I’m not holding anyone else’s too).

They aren’t able to help me with the Corona Virus vaccination though – but there again that was something of a forlorn hope. They still haven’t finished injecting all of the staff, and the in-patients are next in the queue. I shall have to continue to persevere with whatever I can find in France.

As well as that, I’ve changed my date of visit to Thursday with effect from the next time. With it being on a Wednesday, I can’t travel up on the Tuesday because that’s my Welsh class. So I have to come up on the train on Monday, missing my radio work and lugging all of my Welsh paperwork with me too.

With the appointment on Wednesday, I can do my radio stuff on Monday and have my Welsh class on Tuesday morning, all in the comfort and privacy of my own home, travel up on the Wednesday and go home on the Saturday, saving the cost of a day’s accommodation and benefiting from a cheap weekend fare on the train on the way home.

That makes much more sense to me.

This morning I was in no rush to leave the bed. 09:30 was good enough for me today.

And having had my medication and then my breakfast (more toast on the hob element) I had a shower and then washed my clothes.

Later on I headed out to the hospital in the rain, rather intrepidly in view of the issues about my virus test for which I hadn’t had the results.

sint pieters brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric HallMy route, as usual, took me through the city centre and out down the Brusselsestraat past the old Sint Pieter’s Hospital.

The demolition there doesn’t look all that different from when I was here 4 weeks ago. They hardly seem to have advanced at all. At this rate it’s going to take them for ever to bring the building to the ground.

But it is a shame to see it like this. Built for the French community in Flanders, it was barely completed when the French community moved out to Louvain-le-Neuve and never had anything like the occupancy that was intended.

An important casualty of the Guerre Linguistic that has raged in the country between the Walloons and the Flemish for well over 100 years.

sint jakobs kerk leuven belgium Eric HallFrom the old hospital I continued on down the Brusselsestraat towards the Sint Jakobs Kerk – Saint Jacob’s Church and stuck my head inside the door.

For 6 months I lived in a room in a building just across the road and I never ever had the opportunity to go in to see it. A couple of times I saw people going to the door and on one occasion I was quick enough to join them, but the door would never open. It had been abandoned for years as it was falling down.

But over this last year or so they’ve started to renovate it and as I went past, I noticed that someone had left the door open. That was an opportunity not to be missed but I couldn’t go too far in, for fear of being observed by the workmen.

monseigneur van waeyenberghlaan leuven belgium Eric HallThe roadworks in the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan are still far deom being completed.

My route led me down there so that I could see the carnage. They have been working on relaying the drains for about 18 months at least, as far as I remember, and while they seem to have filled in all of the holes now, they are still nowhere near putting down the final road surface.

This is inconveniencing everyone in the neighbourhood. Higher up the street is the building that they renovated. And parked there as best as they can is a furniture remover and a furniture lift. And they can’t position themselves close enough to the building to pass the furniture upwards.

sint hubertusstraat leuven belgium Eric HallAnd if you think that the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan is in a mess, you should see the other direction, looking towards town.

This is the Sint Hubertusstraat and that’s even more messed up and muddy. It does make me wonder whether they are being paid by the hour or by the contract because there seems to be no incentive to hurry.

But turning my back on this end of town, I headed up the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan, past the furniture guys struggling with their equipment.

corner ploengang monseigneur van waeyenberghlaan leuven belgium Eric HallAlong the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan there are several small side streets, like this on to the right, which I think is the Ploengang.

They seem to be realigning the road junction here and that’s going to be interesting to see how that turns out, because straight ion down the hill is a service bus route when the road is in good condition. That road is going to make it difficult for the buses to negotiate.

Luckily I had my Covid test serial number with me, because the hospital receptionist presumably checked the national database and my number isn’t on it, which seems to indicate that I’m not a person of interest (at least, from that point of view) and I could have my treatment.

It was a rather indiscreet male nurse who saw me today to connect me up to my treatment. he told me, as I suspected, that there are a few of us undergoing this research as guinea pigs and we’ve all been here for a while. It seems that I applied to the University for treatment just at the right time when they were looking for guinea pigs, although he didn’t say that directly.

While I was at the hospital having the treatment, I attacked the pile of outstanding notes on the dictaphone.

There was an opera being broadcast or filmed or something and being overdubbed in English. We were doing the overdubbing and as it started under way we were still some way ahead but we hadn’t finished. At one point my brother brought me a huge mug of tea while I did some editing on the computer but he dropped the tea or the tea fell and it absolutely soaked that corner of the room in tea. He just stood there looking at this so I had to scuttle off and fetch a flannel and stuff like that to mop up the tea and clean that corner which was in a terrible state. He was still there looking at me and looking stupid so I asked him where was the recording of this certain aria. He didn’t know so I started to prepare to sing it myself in English to do the over-dubbing but I could see that he was in no mood to play the piano and I couldn’t play the piano but I could see that I was going to have to end up playing the piano and singing at the same time because I seemed to be the only person who was doing anything at that point.

Later on, I was on a bike, an old single-speed upright kind of thing. I would cycle everywhere on that but one day I decided that enough was enough and I decided that I would get myself a modern bike with derailleur gears and I could get about 10 times quicker than that. I ended up in Nantwich, out the other side in Henhull Lane (actually Welshman’s Lane) by the old Cottage Hospital there. As I turned into the yard there first of all came a boy whom I knew at school (what was he doing there, seeing as he is someone about whom I haven’t given a moment’s thought for over 50 years?) and another boy from school out jogging and he ran past. I had a good chat to the first boy about a few things and then I foolishly went in and told the guys in this bike shop that was looking for another bike. They only had a choice of about 4 or 5 and there was only 1 that was really my size. I apologised and said that there wasn’t really what I wanted here. He started on a rant about costs and so on. he showed me all of the wholesale prices and everything like that, how he wasn’t making much money on bikes and how he wasn’t here normally because he was off working elsewhere That wasn’t what I wanted to hear from a shopkeeper.

James Bond was on the loose later on driving down an Italian motorway on a motorbike and sidecar and there was someone on a motorbike pursuing him or at least keeping behind him, observing him. We were watching this from another car further behind. They were stuck in traffic working their way through this traffic queue. All of a sudden Bond seizes the opportunity, swerved his motorcycle around and brought it crashing down on the head of this guy who was following him. This guy picked himself up and ran off. Bond ran after him and we could hear sounds of fighting. Bond came back to our car and said “I killed the wrong man there. That was one of Blofeld’s men”. Not the enemy that he was expecting. We thought that if Blofeld’s men are now angry with us and if someone else is still behind us, the real villains, we’re pretty much blocked in here in this street in the mountains. There’s no way out from here. This road just leads to a town in the mountains. We can’t turn round and if we go on, we are going to be stuck. We really have no choice but to go on so off we set. Our car by this time was a dark blue Hillman Hunter.

Finally last night, I was with Liz Ayers. We had a car and caravan. We pulled into Hankelow Hall, or what I thought was Hankelow Hall in the dream. Who should be there but Marianne and a workman. They were going through the house looking at things. There was a huge fire burning with all kinds of stuff going on, stuff all over the place, loaves of bread, all that kind of thing. I was wondering what on earth was going on here. When I went in the builder came over to me and told me about a pile of work that needed doing on the house. he would give me a bill for it, all this kind of thing. In the end I said “no”. I told him to clear off. Marianne had ordered him and made the arrangements so he can clear off. I thought that when Marianne comes back I’ll have something to say about this. I started to tidy up a few things, put things away in rubbish bags. There were a couple of loaves on there, quite green. They had been there for a while. There was a pile of election leaflets from Guy Verhofstadt the MEP, tons of stuff like that. I was trying to sort it out. Liz came over with someone for there were crowds of people there too. She said that they were going to have a sleep on the beach. I said “what? Through the night? We have a caravan on the back of the car”. She said “no, we’ll watch a film about a Maternity Hospital attached to a University and the students took it over to run it”. She described the film and I said “oh I’ve seen that”. Anyway she went off. I kept on having to go back and to between rooms in this place. The quickest way was to go through the fire although the fire was roaring hot and there was tons of ash so the final time I decided that I won’t go that way, I’ll walk round which I did but there were all of these people hanging around there not doing very much at all. It made me wonder what was going on.

The treatment didn’t take long. The longest part was waiting for the doctor afterwards to come to see me. It was quite late when I was let out.

new post office brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric HallBack into town and back down the Brusselsestraat when I was interrupted by this office place here that I hadn’t noticed before.

It seems that while many countries are actively closing their Post Offices, Belgium is reopening them. This seems to be a parcels pick-up point – Belgium is having a lot of issues with handling the volume of mail order parcels at the moment with all of this internet shopping with the Covid issues.

Stopping off at Delhaize for more bread, I nipped home to dump my stuff and then went back out to meet Alison in the town.

We had a walk around and a chat and then she came back for a quick coffee.

Later on I had tea and now having written my notes, I’m off to bed. A leisurely day tomorrow and then on friday I’m off on my marathon journey back home.

Wednesday 7th October 2020 – MEANWHILE, BACK AT …

… Castle Anthrax I had my check-up. Blood count is down to a mere 8.2, just 0.2 above the critical limit. They didn’t keep me in, but they didn’t give me a blood transfusion either. They are trying a new treatment on me again, something called Octagam.

One thing that I did was to check on the side effects and symptoms. And to my surprise, I have many of the symptoms that are flagged, a couple of which have even seen me hospitalised. But I assume that they know what they are doing.

Having said that, I’m not convinced that I do. I couldn’t sleep last night and it was long after 02:30 when I finally went to bed. Quite obviously there was no chance of my leaving the bed at the sound of the alarm. I was surprised that I managed to be out of bed by 07:20.

First job was to have a shower and a clothes wash. I need to make myself pretty. And then to make some sandwiches. I’d no idea how long this session was going to last.

And then I hit the streets.

Demolition Sint Peters Hospital Brusselsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallWhen you have been away for a while from a place that you know, it’s very interesting to see the changes that have taken place since your last visit.

ON OUR TRAVELS AROUND LEUVEN in the past we’ve seen the start of a whole system of changes to the city, starting with the demolition on the Sint Pieter’s Hospital Building where I stayed for a week or two when I first came here in 2016. They are making a considerable advance in dealing with the matter but it looks as if it’s going to take an age.

It’s a shame that A FORMER NEIGHBOUR and customer of my taxis is no longer with us. He would have had that building down in a twinkle of an eye and at much less cost too.

Water Spray Sint Pieters Hospital Brusselsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallWhile I was watching some of the demolition, my interest was caught by this machine and I was wondering what it might be.

It took me a while but I think that I know now what it might be. It looks like some kind of water atomiser powered mainly by compressed air, I suppose, that’s blasting a pile of water over the heap of rubble that has been knocked down from the building. I imagine that its purpose is to keep the dust down.

You would never have had precautions like that 20 years or so ago. It seems that Health and Safety Regulations have even arrived over here.

Sint Jacobsplein Leuven Belgium Eric HallMy route continued along the Brusselsestraat to the corner of the place where I lived for 6 months, and then round the corner into the Sint Jacobsplein.

When we’d been away for a couple of months last year, we came back here to find a great big hole in the middle of the Square. It was all fenced off so we never had the opportunity to look into it, and even though it’s been at least a year since they made a start on it, they still haven’t finished.

This is turning into a really long job and I’m wondering if I’ll still be here to see the finished product. At least, I hope that they will make a better job of it than they did of that deplorable patch of asphalt in Granville.

Replacing Sewer Biezenstraat Leuven Belgium Eric Hallat the side of the Sint Jacobsplein is the Biezenstraat, and when we were last here IN JULY they were busy making a start on digging it up

Since then, they seem to have made a great deal of progress. And now that I can see the big concrete pipes down there, I can tell now that it’s all to do with replacing the sewer pipes in the street. That makes me wonder if they’ve installed something like a subterranean holding tank or something underneath the Sint Jacobsplein.

And as for the Frittourist, the fritkot on the edge of the Square to the left, the roadworks can’t be doing them much good in the way of passing trade. It’s a good fritkot too, one of the best in the City.

Replacing Sewer Sint Hubertusstraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallWhen I turn around to look behind me the other way to face the direction of the Hospital, I’m admiring the Sint Hubertusstraat.

When we came here last time, in early July, there was a huge hole in the middle of the crossroads and we had to walk miles around in order to proceed without falling down a great big hole in the road.

But now, it seems that they’ve filled in that part of the street now and while the surface isn’t finished, and not by a long way either, we can still walk past it on our way up the hill towards the hospital.

Apartment Building Block of Flats Monseigneur van Waeyenberglaan Leuven Belgium Eric HallJust after the corner there’s a big block of flats on the left that we always walk past.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that a while ago all of the residents were turfed out and once they had gone, the building was completely gutted right back to the framework. They have gradually been rebuilding it and it looks as if they are on the point of packing away their tools.

You can see all of the “For Sale” signs on the windows of the apartments. Most of them that I could see are “sold” and that presumably means that the new inhabitants will be moving into their homes very soon. It’s taken them long enough.

Replacing Sewer Monseigneur van Waeyenberglaan Leuven Belgium Eric HallMy struggle up the hill continued, through all of the roadworks that were there last time. The trench has been filled in and they are reworking the pavements and the cycle track right now.

The actual heavy work is now taking place on the way up between the by-pass overbridge and the roundabout at the foot of the car park. And just as I arrived, they obliged me by picking up a large concrete pipe and dropping it into the hole that they have dug.

For a change, I was early and was quickly logged in. And I found the reason why there had been such a delay in my treatment. In the waiting room there are no longer 40 seats but just 10. and in the communal treatment rooms where 20 people can sit and have their treatment, there are just two seats. There are about a dozen or so confidential treatment rooms where you go for your tests on admission, and now patients are left in these rooms throughout the whole of their treatment.

So Instead of about 50 patients at a session, there are now just maybe a dozen. Hardly a surprise given what’s going on right now.

A nice nurse took care of me and I had a nice young trainee doctor. There have to be some benefits of having this illness. Even nicer, Kaatje came to see me and we has a nice chat. She’s nominally a Social Worker but in reality she’s a psychiatrist, although they don’t let on. Every terminally-ill patient has a psychiatrist allocated to them, and Kaatje can come and administer to my needs any time she likes.

While I had her attention, I mentioned the issues – or lack of them – about not having had my compulsory 4-week treatment since January this year. Not that it will do any good but it’s something that one has to do.

While I was sitting there having my perfusion, I attacked the dictaphone. Last night I was a girl, would you believe? And I was living at home. I’d been downstairs for a meal and tried to talk to people and be interesting but no-one was listening or interested in the least with what I had to say. They were always cutting my speech, that kind of thing. In the end I threw something of a tantrum and stormed upstairs to my room. There was a record player in there and a record on and playing but the needle wasn’t advancing. It was just going round and round he edge again. Sooner or later there was a knock and the door opened. It was my father coming in. I thought that he might have come in to talk to me about things. But no. He just handed me a pair of my gloves that I’d left downstairs and said “you’ve forgotten these” and turned round and went out. I was so disappointed.
Later on there was one of these American sleuths – a Philip Marlowe type. He was renowned for helping his clients in all kinds of ways, many of which were illicit, to escape detection. This came at a price of course. One day he was being interviewed by a gangland boss who he didn’t particularly like. The gangland boss said something like “I understand that you can help people out of certain kinds of difficulties. Well I need a little help – that kind of thing. This private detective taunted him a little bit then said “yes, I’ll do that, $5,000”. To which the mafia type guy, the crook erupted into a rage. He grabbed this guy by the lapels and started to shake him like a dog. Just then, two warders came in to try and sort it all out.

Round about 14:00 my treatment was over and I could leave, having picked up next month’s supply of medication.

Statue Roundabout Gasthuisberg UZ Leuven Belgium Eric HallHere’s something that I’ve not noticed before, although that isn’t to say that it wasn’t there.

In the middle of the roundabout at the bottom of this car park is this large concrete pillar. And I’ve no idea why it’s there and what it’s supposed to represent. My opinion of modern art IS VERY WELL KNOWN so I won’t waste your time in repeating it. But seriously, I can’t see any attraction whatever in a concrete cast-off like this.

It reminds me very much of one of Albert Speer’s flak towers in Berlin, or something designed by someone from the Donald Gibson School of Wanton Vandalism, as I once mentioned IN MY UNIVERSITY THESIS

Demolition Sint Rafael Building Site Kapucijnenvoer Leuven Belgium Eric HallWhile we’re on the subject of wanton vandalism … “well, one of us is” – ed … after my hospital wisit I wandered on down the hill to see what was going on on the Kapucijnenstraat.

When we had walked past there the last time that we were here, they had started on the demolition of the annexes to the Sint Rafael. It’ always very interesting to see how they are doing and it seems to me that right now the whole lot have been swept away. They are even starting to build something on the site, but I bet it won’t be anything like as attractive.

At least the magnificent Flemish-style main building is there, but I may well go for a wander around tomorrow with the camera to record it for posterity because the cynic inside me HAS VERY LITTLE FAITH in modern developers. A suspicious fire could break out at any moment.

Interesting Old Bulding Kapucijnenvoer Leuven Belgium Eric HallThere is however a good side to all of this demolition, even if it might not seem like it.

There are loads of old houses from the glory days of the city that have been obscured by new development. There’s a little Close off the Brusselsestraat that I haven’t yet explored but with the demolition of a newer building in the Kapucijnenstraat a couple of the houses down at the bottom end of the Close have been revealed.

When I’m out and about next, I’ll have to go to have a closer look, to see whether it is an original or whether it’s a simple modern reproduction.

Repairing City Walls Handbooghof Leuven Belgium Eric HallAnother thing that regular readers of this rubbish will recall is that last time I was here I made a note about the lamentable state of the city walls in certain places.

It’s quite clear that the good Burghers of the City are keen and regular readers of the rubbish that I write because they now seem to be fenced off and there is scaffolding up in certain places. So maybe they really are going on to do something about it all.

It was round about here that I found a set of keys lying in the road. As it happens, a couple of Municipal Police were walking in the immediate vicinity so I referred the matter to them. I went on to Delhaize for a bit more shopping to take home.

Olleke Bolleke Tiensestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallAfter Delhaize I went to Origin’O for some grated vegan cheese for my next supply of pizza and then headed for home.

In the Tiensestraat I came across my favourite sweet shop. Or at least, it was when I was allowed to eat animal products, because as far as I know, all of their products contain pork gelatine. It’s the kind of place where you put your sweets into a bag and weigh the bag to work out the price.

The first time I encountered one of these shops was when I was in Bruges getting on for 40 years ago. It’s quite a large chain of shops with branches in most of the towns. in fact, some might say that sweets in Belgium are nothing but a load of Bollekes.

Back here, I had a few things to do and that took some time to organise.

Bloemenautomat Brabanconnestrat Leuven Belgium Eric HallLater on, it was time to go out. Alison and I had arranged to meet in the town centre.

And now I have seen everything I reckon. In the past we’ve seen pizzamats, potatomats and, a few weeks ago, a soupomat. Plenty of other mats too. But today is the first time ever that I’ve seen a Bloemenomat – an automatic flower-vending machine – here at the florist’s on the corner of the Brabanconnestraat.

It makes me wonder whether or not it shouts “violet, get your luvverly violets” at passers-by. That remains to be seen.

Photograph Team Rector De Somerplein Leuven Belgium Eric HallHaving inspected the Bloemenautomat, I headed off down the Tiensestraat into the town centre.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that one of my favourite photography subjects is to take photographs of other people taking photographs. Whilst that’s not the case in this photograph, I surprised a group of photographers marching actoss the Rector de Somerplein and it was too good an opportunity to miss.

Alison was waiting for me at our usual meeting place. It was nice to meet up again because it’s been a couple of months since we’ve last seen each other.

There seems to be a new place opened, the Wasbar in the Tiensestraat, and it was advertising vegan food. We decided to go there to see what it was like. It was certainly different and overpriced, but if you don’t go, you won’t know.

St Pieterskerk Leuven Belgium Eric HallAfter we’d eaten out meal we headed off back down into town.

At the bottom of the Tiensestraat is the magnificent St Peter’s Church – the Sint Pieterskerk. It’s least the third church on this site – the first known church being first recorded in 986. Made of wood, it was destryed by fire in 1176 and replaced by a church in the Romanesque period.

This one was in turn replaced by the present one, began round about 1425 and, surprisingly, still to be finished. Probably a British construction company was involved somewhere in the proceedings.

St Pieterskerk Leuven Belgium Eric HallHere at the western end, the twin towers of the Romanesque church were to remain but in 1458 they were destroyed by fire.

There was a design proposed to replace them with some really impressive towers but firstly the foundations were not solid enough, then they ran out of money, and then there were a couple of collapses of whatever of the towers had been built. Had the plans been properly completed, it would have been the tallest building in the world at the time.

During the Sack of Leuven in 1914 the church was set alight and the roof was destroyed. And then in 1944 it suffered a direct him on its northern side from a bomb

lights Mathieu de Layensplein Leuven Belgium Eric HallWhile we’d been walking around on our way to our meal we’d noticed some lights down at the end of one of the streets. On the way back we decided to go and have a look to see what as going on.

Here in the Mathieu de Layensplein where they have the brocantes at weekends, one of the bars here has decided to bring a little gaiety into the area by stringing up some very nice lights.

The whole Square looks quite nice and interesting like this and it would have been nice to see more people try this kind of thing in their neighbourhood. With everything that’s going on right now, we could do with some brightening up.

Tiensestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallOn the way back home, someone stopped me in the Tiensestraat and asked for directions.

While I was talking, I was having a look round and having the subject of lights going round in my head, I noticed just how nice the lower end of the Tiensestraat looked with all of the lights on the buildings. It’s another subject that seems to be crying out for a photograph.

Having done all of that, I headed home and missed my short-cut, so I had to go the long way round.

And now I’ve written up my notes (and that was a labour of love) I’m off to bed. No alarm tomorrow because the medication usually takes a lot out of me and I don’t know what this new stuff will be like.

And, of course, I have a 05:30 start on Friday so I need to be at my best.

Tuesday 7th July 2020 – IT”S NOT VERY …

replacing sewer Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan Leuven belgium eric hall… good news at the hospital unfortunately.

While you admire the roadworks in the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan, which they are digging up in order to replace all of the sewers down there, I shall tell you all about it.

My appointment was for 16:00 so I was there at 15:30 and it took a while to sign in, basically because there is no provision for signing in if you don’t have a Belgian identity card

replacing sewer Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan Leuven  eric hallWhile you watch the car disappearing into its own dustcloud, something that brought back may happy memories of Labrador I went up in the outpatients department where they took a blood sample and then sent me to wait until a doctor sent for me.

Round about 18:00 I was eventually seen. I’ve no idea what took them so long. And this is when they told me the news. My blood count has dropped to 8.3 – just slightly above the critical limit.

That’s a substantial drop from the last time that I had a blood test, when it was 9.4. And this is probably what happened on Tuesday morning last week when I was taken ill on the boat, and why I had such a hard time on my run on Sunday night.

replacing sewer Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan Leuven  eric hallMind you, there’s not a sign of infection in my blood.

Consequently they have decided not to give me any treatment right now. They think that I can struggle on until October and then start a new cycle of treatment.

It seems to me to be a strange manner of proceeding if you ask me, but I suppose they know what they are doing. However they did want to retake the the blood sample so I was told to wait.

replacing sewer Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan Leuven  eric hallAnd wait I did.

And after an hour or so, fed up of waiting in a deserted out-patients’ department and no-one about at all, I eventually found someone who was on the way home and flagged them down. It seems that the doctor had forgotten to tell a nurse.

She couldn’t use my catheter port with it only having been used a short while ago so it had to be taken from my arm.

It was round about 19:20 I was finally able to leave the hospital and head back home.

This morning I was up and out of bed before the third alarm went off. First task was to finish off the notes from last night and that took much longer than expected.

Plenty of stuff on the dictaphone too. We were out with something like LORD OF THE RINGS last night. We’d been under attack by the Nazgul. After we had pushed them away and they cleared off we were all talking. There was someone who had a model city with a wall all round it. I mentioned to one of the people we were with about this – that would make an ideal defence so he decided that we could all go and stay in that. So we trooped off around the heqdland and there was this city. One of the people who had been with us earlier was a baby. We had started to give this baby bottled milk, all this kind of thing and we reckoned that this baby would be thirsty by now. As we went round the headland we could see that this baby was nursing off its mother so we made the point “ohh look! It’s having mother’s milk on draught”. We went to install ourselves in this toy castle on the coast to defend ourselves against another attack of the Nazguls.
I was back in school last night, but a school in the USA and I was late back from my break – 4 minutes late so the teacher told me, a black guy. We were talking about people on welfare, how they had to wear a certain tyope of sandal but the zip was inside it so you had to put your hand down inside to work the zip. You could always tell people on welfare because of their sandals. I came into the class and I was new, 4 minutes late and the only seat free was next to the teacher so I had to sit there. It was one of those places where your desk was behind you and you had to sit facing forward and you turned round to do your work. I asked him what we were doing. We were talking about colours. There are three colours when you are computing and he should know because he’s built a computer. I rattled off these three colours. He looked at me and wondered what I was doing in his class that I was obviously so old and I knew so much already.

A shower and a clothes-washing session was first, followed by going down to Delhaize for supplies for the next couple of days.

There was my welsh lesson too so I had to do the preparation for that. When the meeting started I realised that this laptop doesn’t have a microphone.

In the end I had to connect the video on the laptop and at the same time run the audio from the mobile phone. A very complicated system but it worked.

Down at the shops I had bought a small loaf so I made sandwiches for lunch, with spicy hummus, tomato and lettuce, followed by fruit.

After lunch I headed off into town.

First stop was at FNAC. The s;all folding headphones that I had bought back in 2016 had stopped working on one side so I wanted another pair to replace them.

demolishing sint pieters hospital leuven belgium eric hallThe headphones themselves were really good apart from that so I was happy to buy another pair. They fit nicely in the top pocket of my backpack.

Walking my way across town in the warm afternoon, I passed by the old Sint Pieter’s hospital in the Brusselsestraat. I had wanted to watch the demolition in action.

And i wasn’t alone there either. There was quite a crowd there in the street watching all of the activity over there behind the fence.

demolishing sint pieters hospital leuven belgium eric hallThere was this enormous machine here that caught my eye.

It was a huge hydraulic nibbler that was eating away at the walls of the building, taking huge chinks out of the wall and sending it crashing down to the ground.

And there, there was a digger with a hydraulic breaker that was breaking up the brick walls into smaller manageable proportions ready to be shovelled up by another digger that was waiting to move it.

It’s going to be quite a big job, disposing of all of the rubble.

demolishing sint rafael hospital leuven belgium eric hallRound the corner is the old Sint Rafael hospital.

That has been slowly run down over the past few years and now it looks as if it’s biting the dust too. There’s going to be a really big empty site there when the two big hospitals are knocked down and I can’t wait to see the area when they have finished.

There are all kinds of plans for the area and we are going to see quite a transformation when it’s all complete. Removing the culvert that covers the River Dyle will be something spectacular.

parking sintjakobsplein sewer leuven belgium eric hallAnother thing that we have been keeping our eye on is the work that has been going on in the car park in the Sint Jacobsplein.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we saw them digging it out at the end of last year but unfortunately I wasn’t here to see what they were doing in the hole.

They have now filled it it so I won’t ever get to know, but having seen them replacing all of the sewers in the street, it’s very probably something to do with that project.

The resurfqcing of the car park was something that was an essential task. Driving on it was like sailing a galleon on the high seas in a storm. So that is something to look forward to.

replacing sewers realigning road tervuursestraat Heilige-Geeststraat leuven belgium eric hallIt’s not just around here that all of the work is going on.

While they are replacing the sewers, they have taken the opportunity to realign the Tervuursestraat and make to road junction with the Heilige-Geeststraat. That’s always been a difficult junction but this will be much better.

However it prevented me from walking all the way up the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan and I had to go a really long way round to get to the hospital. I’m certainly knocking up the kilometres right now.

soupomat rector de somerplein leuven belgium eric hallOn the way back into town this caught my eye.

We’ve seen breadomats and potatomats and pizzamats on our travels but we haven’t ever seen a soupomat until today This one is parked up behind the bus stop on the Rector de Somerplein

Back here I put my baked beans in the microwave and then went in search of a fritkot. My usual one is closed, the next one has ceased to trade and I had to walk miles before I eventually tracked one down. How is this possible in Belgium?

So beans and chips for tea followed by tangerines and banana dessert.

So now I’m off to bed. No alarm because I deserve a lie-in after today’s effort. I’ll have a think about where I go from here and see what I can do about my current situation.

It’s not what I was hoping for.

Thursday 28th May 2020 – WHILE YOU ADMIRE …

air sea rescue helicopter english channel granville manche normandy france eric hall … all of the excitement that has been going on this evening – and is still going on even now judging by the noise just outside my window – just offshore in the English Channel, let me tell you about my day today.

It started off as we meant to go on – with me having yet another late night. Due primarily to me taking too much time to write out my notes from yesterday.

There weren’t any other distractions, which makes a change just recently.

air sea rescue helicopter english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallAnd in accordance with usual procedures just recently, I missed the third alarm.

Not by very much, I have to say, but a miss is as good as a mile, as they say. Nevertheless, 06:30 is not an unreasonable time to be out of bed when I didn’t get into same until about 00:45.

Surprisingly, there was nothing on the dictaphone yet again. And I have the disctinct feeling or impression that at some time during the night I was somewhere else

air sea rescue helicopter english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallIt rather reminds me of the old story about the man who dreamed that he was awake. And when he woke up, he was!

After breakfast there were a few little things to deal with around here, and I even did some tidying up. But I still can’t find my magnifying glass.

And then a shower and weigh-in. And I’ve put on another 100 grammes. I’m not working hard enough on my health, I reckon. I have to be doing better than this.

installing edging floating pontoon rue de port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallWith it being Thursday, that’s shopping day. And I hadn’t forgotten that I was going to go down to the port to see what was going on down there with the big cranes.

And the answer is that it’s not really evident. They’ve worked hard on the pontoons of course, and they’ve edged and trimmed them now, presumably with the bits and pieces of metal or aluminium that were on there the other day.

But with just one row of pontoons, with the supports poking through, that’s not really wide enough for people to pass carrying boxes of fish and the like.

digging trench rue du port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallWe’d seen the traffic lights in the rue du Port and I wanted to see what they were for, seeing as they are still here but the cranes are gone.

Nothing to do with the cranes at all – just digging a trench across the road. It’s a company called Cegelec that’s doing the work so it’s likely that it’s something to do with electrical work.

There are some now power boxes on the pontoons, but I would have thought that they would have been connected into the existing circuit rather than having a new one.

chausiais trawlers leaving port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallWhen I was up on top of the cliff I’d noticed that Chausiais was moored up in the loading position underneath the big crane.

By the time I’d come down and walked along the harbour she had pulled away. There were several fishing boats pulling away from the quayside too so it looked as if at any moment the harbour gates are going to open and let everyone out.

As for me, I pushed on to the labroatory where I went to pay for my blood test last week and pick up my results.

And my blood count is down – by 0.3. Not that that’s any surprise. After all, I’ve not had my essential four-weekly treatment since January

At LIDL there were quite a few people – more than there have been for a while. There was nothing in the specials that I needed but even so the bill was somewhat large for a mid-week shop, due to the fact that I needed a lot of stuff.

But remember those frozen red fruits from the other week? They had bags of frozen raspberries in there today so I bought a pack. Somewhere lying around I have some agar-agar so I’m going to have a go at making a strawberry flan next week.

trawler entering port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallOn the way back, I called at La Mie Caline for a dejeunette and then headed for home.

The harbour gates are now open and the queue of boats had long-since departed . It was now the turn of those coming in to pass through the gates, like this one is doing right now.

Back here, I had to shuffle things around in the freezer to fit the strawberries in and then, coffee in hand, I attacked a dozen or so of the photos from July 2019.

Right now, I’m back on The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour and just coming in to Reykjavik harbour on a grey and miserable Sunday morning.

thora port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallLunch was exciting because it was such a glorious day that I went and ate my butties outside, sitting on the wall overlooking the harbour.

And I wasn’t alone either, as you can see. Sometime during the course of the late morning while I was working on my photographs Thora has sneaked into port and tied up at the loading bay underneath the big crane where I had seen Chausiais earlier.

Word has reached my ear that there’s a strike on in the port of St Malo, and a lot of freight from there is being delivered here instead

boats entering leaving harbour granville manche normandy france eric hallIt wasn’t just Thora and a fishing boat that was using the harbour either.

It looked as if the whole world and his wife was either coming or going in and out of the port today. Dozens of people were making use of the facilities in the glorious weather.

For ages I sat and watched them, and I was accompanied by a lizard. I bet they missed me last summer when I wasn’t here. In previous years I’d fed tham with my pear droppings.

yacht baie de mont st michel brittany coast granville manche normandy france eric hallDo you remember the big navy blue yacht that we saw the other night? I’m sure that regular readers of this rubbish will recall seeing the photo.

She must have moved into here – or, at least, the Port de Plaisance – because here she is again taking advantage of the breeze that was blowing out to see.

But she didn’t hang around for long and disappeared out of my view. So I finished my butties and cme on back to the apartment.

air sea rescue helicopter english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallWhile you admire more photos of this evening’s activities, I worked on my web pages.

Firstly I rewrote one of the pages on one of the websites – a project that I’ve started just recently.

And secondly, I treated a couple of pages on the other website to the new modernisation procedures. One of those pages had a substantial rewrite while I was at it because events have moved on since I first wrote it in 2008 and it’s one of those rare pages that has never had an amendment.

baie de mont st michel st pair sur met kairon plage marker light entrance to port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallThere was time to finish off this week’s accountancy course (next week, it’s Maths!)and then go for my afternoon walk.

Such a beautiful afternoon it was, and so I went off and snapped a beautiful photo of the marker light by the entrance to the harbour, with St Pair sur Mer and Kairon Plage in the background.

Crowds of people out there today. Restrictions here are being further lifted on 2nd June but you would be forgiven for believing that they have been lifted already, with the crowds who were out there.

seagulls pointe du roc granville manche normandy france eric hallNot just crowds of people either.

The tide is well on its way out and so the flocks of seagulls were jostling for position on the rocks ready to dive down onto the mudflats and scavenge for the shellfish.

It’s impressive how they seem to understand about tides and the like. Animal instinct is a wonderful thing and it’s a shame that most humans don’t use theirs.

cleaning mooring chains port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallMy walk carried me on around the headland, past the chantier navale where there were still the two boats.

But I was intrigued by the work that was going on in the tidal harbour. There are mooring chains all over there, marked by buoys that presumably float the chains up and down with the tide.

These guys were cleaning out around one of the chains. It’s probably become bogged down in the silt and isn’t moving as it’s supposed to znd needs freeing off.

bad parking college malraux granville manche normandy france eric hallBut you can tell that the schools are back, can’t you?

It’s chucking-out time at the High School down the road and the parents are here, parking on the pavement in a narrow road because, presumably, their little darlings are too tired to walk the extra 20 yards to the huge free car park just across the main road in the Boulevard Vaufleury.

As for me, I carried on with my walk and came back home

And you won’t believe this but me, not having played the piano since I was about 12 (and that’s over half a century) I can now play quite happily a 12-bar blues two-handed with Cmaj7 as the root chord in the American blues scale. It’s so impressive!

It did involve a little cheating – I had to label my keyboard (I have one of these 5-octave keyboards) so that I could see the notes at a glance rather than think about how they relate to middle C – but it was still pretty good and I completed the first week’s course with some kind of comfort.

What was even better was that for my hour on the guitar later, I sat down and worked out the note spacing for the blues scale and then did a half-hour of walking bass up and down the scale followed by half an hour of lead guitar solo

It seems to me that I’ve learnt more in an hour this afternoon than I have in about 50 years of playing guitar.

So week 2 tomorrow. And at this rate I might even catch up with the course. That’s rather more optimistic than yesterday, isn’t it?

Tea tonight was the leftover stuffing with kindey beans made into taco rolls, and a slice of my totally delicious and juicy apple pie – the best one that I’ve made so far.

Outside for my evening walk – and straight into controversy as when I finally reached the clifftop after my struggle up the hill I – and everyone else there – was buzzed by a helicopter.

air sea rescue helicopter english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallWe all stood and watched it for ages at it circled round and round and round the same spot, going lower and lower each time.

It’s the local air-sea rescue helicopter that regular readers of this rubbish will recall having seen before, so the conclusion that we reached was that there had been an “incident” of some description.

We noticed, as you can see in this photo, that it’s attracted the attention of a fishing boat that has changed course and now come over to where the helicopter is.

air sea rescue boat helicopter english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallA couple of minutes later, the lifeboat came around the corner to join in the fun.

So whatever it was that was going on, it was clearly important and I’ll ptobably find out about it tomorrow in teh newspapers.

So knowing that this wouldn’t be resolved in a minute I decided to carry on with my run and presumably by the time that I got round to the viewpoint at the Rue du Nord they will still be out there working.

open motor launch fishing boat baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france eric hallThe presence of the air-sea rescue operation wasn’t deterring the rest of the nautical craft.

Commercial operations would hardly be affected and it seems that leisure activities weren’t halted either. these guys in their open boat are still chugging on their way regardless of the commotion that was going on around them.

Back at the apartment I enlarged the image and I could see that they were loaded up with rods and lines and the rest of the fishing gear.

chausiais joly france ferry terminal port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallThere was some excitement over at the ferry terminal too.

While Chausiais was out on her travels today, it looks as if someone, the little blue and white boat, has ppinched her berth and moored herself to it. That means that poor Chausias has had to go and moor herslf somewhere else, as you can see.

That certainly seems to be something new. I’ve never seen a boat moored there before and I’m not convinced that it’s a good place to moor either, with the force of the rising tide risking smashing her into the wall.

air sea rescue boat helicopter english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallSo I carried on with my run down the Boulevard Vaufleury and round and across to the viewpoint at the Rue du Nord.

The lifeboat was there now, and the crew was alongside the rails presumably looking for something – or someone.

They were there for quite a while too. I stood and watched them for an age but it was clear that whatever they were looking for, they weren’t going to find it in a hurry.

And I was right to, for they were still at it long after I returned home.

picnickers beach plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallAnd it’s no surprise that I wasn’t alone there either.

My picnickers were there again this evening. And out in force too. They must be multiplying or something because there seems to be more and more of them each night. If I remember correctly, we started off with four.

So I turned round and ran back home to write up my notes.

Tomorrow is a day with no planned interruptions (I say “planned” because we know all about unplanned ones). No accountancy course so I’m going to have a good go at the music course to try to catch up with the arrears. it’s certainly piqued my interest

But of course something is bound to happen to disrupt all of my plans. We all know how that works out.

Thursday 7th May 2020 – WHILE YOU ADMIRE …

sunset english channel ile de chausey granville manche normandy france eric hall… this evening’s beautiful sunset, let me tell you about my day today.

Just for a change, I went to bed last night at a not-unreasonable hour and I was just about on the point of throwing off my bed covers when the alarm went off.

So, a narrow defeat this morning, which was a shame. It’s high time I got myself onto a winning roll with all of this getting-up lark. I can’t afford to spend my time lying in bed.

sunset ile de chausey english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallAfter the medication I had a listen to the dictaphone to see if I’d been anywhere during the night.

There had been some kind of radio meeting during the night. There was a new woman there and we’d been discussing a few things. There was a brochure that we had prepared, like a magazine. It was in French with an English translation. I was looking through this translation and I noticed that this new woman was standing there not too far away and she was trying her best to speak in English. I’m not quite sure why. And then the meeting came round about we were going to abandon our Saturdays. One project that the chief decided on was that we were each going to bring in a piece of fruit once a week and we’d talk about this piece of fruit. He went through the catalogue and when it got to Saturday, he said “of course Saturday we won’t be here so we can’t do Saturday”. Then he came out with a list of reasons why we couldn’t do it with coffee – because some people like it with sugar and some don’t and so on. And it all became confusing.

sunset english channel ile de chausey granville manche normandy france eric hallAfter breakfast I had a go ata couple of pages of the website and upgraded them.

That all led to a shower and a general clean-up. And for all of my efforts this week, i’ve lost another 100 grammes. At this rate it’ll be years before I’ll disappear completely.

But in other news, I’ve cut my hair today. And it needed it too. I’ll probably find that I’ve lost half a ton of weight now that that lot has gone.

crane pontoon port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallThursday today and so that means shopping. I grabbed my bag and headed to the hills.

One thing though, and that was that I was interested to see what was going on today with all of the shenanigans down in the harbour over the last few days.

And so this morning we could admire the big yellow crane that was now back again, and it seemed to be doing some stuff with the new pontoons over there.

So that looks like progress.

new pontoon walkway ramp road marking car park rue du port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallDown here on this side of the harbour by the rue du Port we saw them last week manoeuvring one of the walkways into position.

This week we can see that it’s been installed properly now. I can’t wait for the detention à domicile to end so that I can go for a walk down there and see how it is. I want to find out how the bottom is fastened to the pontoon because the pontoon won’t be at a constant height.

But just look at that car park on the right. How disappointing is that? There was so much that they could have done to it to make it so beautiful and all that we’ve ended up with is a slab of tarmac with painted white lines.

So, filled with disappointment I pushed on through the crowds (and I DO mean crowds) up the hill out of town.

First stop was at the laboratory for my test results and to pay the bill. There’s a one-way system in force there so we had to go in through the back door (and out of the front).

And in astonishing news, it’s been months since I had any treatment and my blood count has gone UP! 9.7 is quite ridiculous if you ask me. I’ve no idea what’s going on there.

house renovations avenue marechal leclerc granville manche normandy france eric hallOn the way up the hill to LIDL I went past a house renovation that appears to have started, here in the Avenue Marechal LeClerc.

In fact one of the things that I noticed was that in a lot of the shops that are currently closed there are all kinds of repainting and redecorating going on. It looks as if everyone is getting ready for reopening, and using the downtime profitably.

At LIDL I spent a little more money than usual but there was a reason for that. I need a new plugboard with more sockets, and there was a seven-way switchable one on offer for €5:99. So that joined the happy throng.

chantier navale port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallOn the way back I called at la Mie Caline for a dejeunette and then headed home. And the shopping was really heavy, what with everything in it. Like two bags of flour for a start.

But my eye caught a change over at the chantier navale. There have been four boats in there just recently but today it looked as if there was now a fifth.

And even more interesting – the boat on the left in the line of four is not the same boat that’s been there for the last couple of weeks. That’s gone and another has taken its place so it seems.

Back here I had a coffee and then made a start on the images for July 2019. For a couple of hours I had a good back at those and another 40-odd have bit the dust.

Right not I’m on the upper deck of The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour watching the tight manoeuvres as we attempt to make our way into the port of Vestmannaeyjar on the island of Heimaey.

old cars citroen acadiane place d'armes granville manche normandy france eric hallThere was a break for lunch of course, and I happened to glance out of the window where I saw this.

It’s been years since we have featured an old car, so this old Citroen Acadiane is a welcome visitor to our pages.

Regular readers of this rubbish in one of its many guises years and years ago will recall that I had one of these that I bought at an auction, but it was “lost” when the lock-up garages where it was kept were swept away when the site was cleared for houses.

After lunch I launched an attack on the updating of the web pages. And here I made an exciting discovery.

At one stage a while ago I was looking for the working files for my 2014 trip to Canada that I could never find and which I assumed had been lost when the old laptop gave up the ghost in Germany.

But I’d obviously at one stage done some kind of directory compare between the files on the computer and files on my web server, presumably found them on both and knowing that they weren’t ready for publishing, deleted them – but from the computer and not from the web server.

They’ve now been moved over to the correct location, so obviously some more good has come out of this project.

But what with that and an early finish this afternoon I didn’t manage to do as much as I would have liked, but I can’t win a coconut every time.

So after my hour on the guitars, my early finish had given me half an hour spare so I put it to good use.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I’ve run out of pudding and so I decided to make a small apple pie.for the rest of the week or so.

However, rather than use a pastry roll, I’d seen a simple recipe for making simple pastry – basically any given welght of flour and half that weight of butter (or in my case, vegan margarine) all kneaded together until it looks and feels good, and then a couple of tablespoons of water added and kneaded in until the texture feels good.

Take out your silicon baking sheet, dust it with flour, stick your pastry on there, flatten it out and then roll it with your rolling pin, keeping it dusted with flour so it doesn’t stick to the rolling pin as you roll it.

Grease your little baking pan (I used a 15cm one) and cut your pastry to fit it. 150 grammes of flour was enough to make the top and the bottom and there was some left over.

Peel, core and slice a couple of baking apples and add the slices to the pie with some cinnamon, nutmeg, desiccated coconut, brown sugar and lemon juice.

Then add the top, milk the edges and press them down with a fork to seal them. Brush the top with milk and dust with brown sugar, then put a couple of slits into the top to let out the steam, and then bung into the oven.

apple pie apple turnover place d'armes granville manche normandy france eric hallWith what’s left over (pastry and apple) make an apple turnover.

And here’s the finished product. It looks absolutely delicious. And the apple turnover certainly was because I had it for pudding with some of that almond soya stuff after my burger-on-a-bap and baked potato.

And I’ll have another go at this pastry lark because it really was quit straightforward and simple. In fact, I’m wondering what I can attempt next.

trawlers english channel ile de chausey brehal plage granville manche normandy france eric hallAfter the washing up (of which there was more than enough) it was time to go off on my evening runs.

There were quite a few people out there tonight, presumably fed up of the lockdown (which seems to be working – only 600 new cases today). And we had plenty of fishing boats to admire too – like these out and about in the stretch of the English Channel between the Ile de Chausey and Bréhal-Plage.

They seem to be working all kinds of new areas these days, and a lot closer to home too.

fishing buoys english channel ile de chausey granville manche normandy france eric hallSo much so that it didn’t surprise me to see these buoys just a few miles offshore.

At first I thought that it might be a seal or a porpoise or something so it was rather a speculative shot that I took. But back home where I could crop it out and blow it up (the cropped image, not the object) I could see that they were these temporary marker buoys that we see floating about every now and again.

Despite all the time that I’ve lived here I’ve never been able to find out exactly what they are but having seen them on fishing boats, my best guess is that they are markers for fishing traps, like lobster pots and the like.

trawler baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france eric hallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that yesterday (and for a couple of other days just recently too) we’ve walked round the headland to discover a fishing boat setting out of the harbour.

There was another one today heading off out today too. There were a few boats out fishing off the Brittany coast near Cancale across the bay and it looked as if this one was on its way to join them.

Looking more closely though, it seems to be surrounded by seabirds so I wonder if it is in fact fishing with its nets out just there.

trawlers chantier navale port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallBut here’s another thing.

My evening run took me along the path on top of the cliff past the chantier navale and I could see that there was yet another change of occupants.

We’d seen this morning that we’d increased to five occupants – two of which were new because one of the older inhabitants had gone from the chocks. But tonight we’re down to four again, with one of the new ones having now been put back into the water.

It can’t have been much that she needed

chausiais port de granville harbour  manche normandy france eric hallThe next leg of my run takes me all the way down the Boulevard Vaufleury and round into the Boulevard des 2E et 202E de Ligne and once I reach my marker (the second pedestrian crossing) I can pause for breath.

So I walked back down the road to the walls overlooking the harbour to se what was happening. Chausiais is now back in her habitual mooring spot at the ferry terminal and Marité although you can’t see her, is still moored at the far side of the harbour (and I forgot to look this morning to see why she had been moved).

Apart from that, there was nothing very evident to indicate what work they had been doing around there.

fishing from the steps rue du port granville manche normandy france eric hallSo I ran off round to the viewpoint at the rue du Nord just in time to catch the sunset, as you have already seen.

There were a few people out there again tonight, including these people who were fishing with rod and line from the steps that go down to the beach (or would do at low tide, of course)

They seemed to be having a great deal of fun, whether they were actually catching anything or not, so I left them to it and ran on home.

Half of my notes are finished now, but so am I too. I’m off to bed and I’ll finish the rest tomorrow. It’s a Bank Holiday (VE Day) in Europe tomorrow but in defiance of usual practice I’m setting an alarm so that I can finish my notes early tomorrow.

If I can.

Thursday 2nd April 2020 – I’VE JUST HAD …

… a very friendly, very interesting and very lengthy conversation with a very nice young girl. She stopped me for a chat while I was out for my evening runs tonight.

We were there for about 10 minutes or so chatting away about all kinds of things.

And do you know what?

I don’t have the first clue who she is.

Something else that I don’t have the first clue about is why I bothered to waste my time by going for an early night. Just for a change, I beat the third alarm out of bed and after the medication I had a look at the dictaphone to see if I’d been anywhere during the night.

I’d started out by doing my best to obey the quarantine but I had to keep on nipping out of my apartment to the room in the attic for something or other. That meant going out into the street and in my the next door and up the stairs. This happened not once, not twice but three or four times and I was sure that someone would cotton on to what was happening. Sure enough, one time I did it, I heard another door bang in the room and heard someone going up the inside stairs, so I stood behind the door and waited. When whoever it was came in, I shouted “BOOH!”and scared them. It was a girl with whom I once worked and she’s someone I haven’t thought about for years. I had a laugh and a joke with her about the situation but I bet that she was being very curious about who was where, for reasons that I suspected were not entirely altruistic. The I was talking to someone else about this and they said “whatever happens, it’s not going to be right for ages and ages yet before the world is back to normal. All kinds of things have been cut off and we can basically forget all about”.
Later on, someone at work was selected for some kind of medical test so he started to prepare himself, saying “yes, I’ll call you when I get there and let you know how things are going on”. My boss recoiled in horror “no, no. Just give us a ring – it will be fine”. he was obviously extremely suspicious about this and I had the feeling that he would have been quite happy if this employee had picked up some kind of infection from one of these medical trials
Moi, je lui proposé que lui, il lui garde et envoyer un audio de son voyage et de contacter avec quelque chose d’intéressant mais il l’a réussi. Le patron lui a accordé raise parce que … Now why am I dictating this in French? I know that I sometimes dream in French (and in Flemish too before now) but this is the first ever time that I’ve dictated my notes in French … so they decided that the risks just weren’t worth the experience of broadcasting like that.
The next voyage was similar to the one just now about the being summoned and going for a walk and sending an audio report and that was rejected too as the story was pretty much the same
Later on we were discussing trains, HS2 and all of this and I’m still convinced that it’s just a white elephant and it’s not going to do anything particular. We had the usual arguments so I wrote a song about travelling from Amsterdam Schiphol airport to Brussels on the TGV. It came to the attention of Alquin and they weren’t sure – should I join Alquin or would they create a band for me and find me a couple of musicians or something like that. In the meantime I’d been collecting some stuff – I’m not quite sure what it was. Quarantine had ended and everyone was out on the streets. There was a big cinema complex and I was walking through it with stuff in my hat. And the thing that I remember was a really really familiar voice said “just leave it up here against the wall, Eric”. I looked round and it was a guitarist who I knew. I can’t think whether it was that Mike Averill or Sherman Downey – someone like that. He said it quite clearly in his voice that I could hear it in my sleep “just leave it here, Eric” and it was the surprise of the realism of the voice and how I heard it that awoke me
I was in a office last night working and the place was in a total tip as you might expect. There was a girl sitting next to me at my desk. She was going through all my papers and there was a load of stuff I didn’t want her to see because it was quite personal. I asked her what she was doing and she replied that she was looking for a file or a letter. I asked which one and she told me that it was in connection with an accident that I had had with a Woolworths van or lorry 18 months ago. She was going some kind of survey on it. She said “I thought that would be in the International file”. I said “no, for if it involved two people of the same nation it would be in the national, not the international one” so I had to go and fetch the file. There were papers everywhere in a big bundle and I thought that i would come back to sort these out. Then I got to thinking that I’m not going to be able to cope with all of this. I’ve probably had enough. I decided more-or-less on the spot that I was going to retire. It was only 2 days to the end of the month so I thought that at the end of the month I would retire and that would be that.

So after all of that, it’s pretty pointless going to bed early, isn’t it?

But as an aside, looking at where I’ve been during the last couple of nights, anyone would think that I had something of a preoccupation with this virus that’s going round. But that’s not the case at all.

It’s true to say that I’m being more careful than I otherwise would be, but I’m not taking this situation as intently or as keenly as some others, that’s for sure. Being engaged in a life-or-death struggle with the illness that I have, this virus thing is just another complication to add to an already-complicated tangle of affairs.

After breakfast I had a go at a couple of albums – tracking down the digital sound files and sorting them out.

And then, after a shower (the first for a few days) I headed out to town.

normandy trader port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallOn my way out of the medieval walled city I stopped to have a look over the wall to see what was going on, as I had heard the crane in operation.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we saw Normandy Trader here in port the other day. And here she is, unloading another pile of what looks like shellfish and taking on board a load of timber as a return load to the Channel islands.

It was another quick turn-round too. When I went out in the evening, she was long-gone. She clearly doesn’t want to hang around with these current health issues going on.

repointing stonework rampe du monte a regret granville manche normandy france eric hallMy route into town took me down the Rampe du Monte A Regret

Over the past few months I’ve been seeing workmen there ripping out the vegetation that’s been growing in the cracks between the stones, but today I noticed that they’ve been repointing the joints.

This will look quite nice when it’s all done, but I wish that they would spend more of their time dealing with the bits of wall that are actually falling down.

We’ve seen plenty of those just recently.

As I was going past the laboratory, I called in to see where they had got to with my blood test results. They’d completed the examinations and had posted the results, but of course the post is somewhat sporadic these days.

They gave me a copy so I could review it at my leisure. My blood count is at 9.3, which is quite a surprise to most people because when I last had treatment – two months ago, it was 8.8.

We’ve seen in the past that the results from the hospital and the results from the laboratory differ considerably, and nothing seems to have changed right now. I know that the blood count can fluctuate, but surely not by this much.

There weren’t too many people in LIDL this morning so we didn’t have to queue outside. They didn’t seem to be short of very much at all (except pizza bases – I wonder why there’s a run on those right now) so I did what I needed, as well as buying a metre rule with spirit level and a few other accessories. A baguette too, seeing as my favourite boulanger is still closed.

Back here there was time to deal witha couple more albums before lunch, and also 20 or so photos from July 2019. Dynjandi and the Arnarfjördu were the places for which I was trying to remember the names yesterday.

After lunch I finished off the notes for the two radio projects on which i’m working, dictated them, and started on the editing.

To my chagrin I could have made much more progress than I did, but

  1. I was in discussion for some of the time with Laurent about our Grande Marée Virtuelle – I have some lines to learn
  2. I … errr … went off with the fairies for a good half-hour. And a proper one too – hardly surprising after my last couple of nights but disappointing all the same.

There was the usual hour on the guitars and then I stopped for tea. A slice of that tofu and lentil pie from February with jacket potates, veg and gravy.

While it was cooking in the oven, I sorted out all of the carrots that I had bought on Saturday, washed scrubbed, diced and then blanched them

By this time my tea was ready. And it was followed by a slice of apple pie with vegan ice cream and chocolate sauce. Thoroughly delicious.

sunset english channel ile de chausey granville manche normandy france eric hallOut on my walk this evening, I missed the sunset.

The sky was a beautiful red though, so I suppose that it’s better than nothing. And while I was admiring it was when I was accosted by the aforementioned young lady.

Bad news when I had my shower this morning. I seemed to have gained 800 grams since the weekend and that’s no good at all. As a consequence I put in no fewer than four runs tonight. I have to get things under control

Another thing that I need to do is to have a good sleep. It won’t be as long as last night’s, unfortunately, but it will still do me good.

But I wonder where I’ll finish up tonight?

Friday 24th January 2020 – THAT ISN’T …

… the news that I was hoping to hear. Not at all.

My blood count is down to 8.8 – something that will not surprise any regular readers of this rubbish because they will recall that I’ve been mentioning over the last couple of weeks the fact that I’ve not been feeling myself … “just as well” – ed.

Worse though is the fact that my kidneys are now playing up again. They want me to see a kidney specialist the next time that I come.

It looks as if I’m starting to break up. But that was something that was always on the cards. People start to die of this illness after 5 years, and although I was diagnosed with it only 4.25 years ago, there’s no telling how long I had been suffering before I was taken to hospital.

Last night, despite the comfortable bed, I had a very mixed sleep. Tossing and turning around, waking up, all of that. There had been time to go on a voyage or two though.

We started off on The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour again and we were all having to get off to go for a coach drive. There were crowds of people in this square waiting for the buses and there was a lot going on. Some people who we were with decided that they weren’t going to do as they had other things that they really wanted to do. Anyway it was to see the statue of Sir John Slessor . They asked me if I knew anything about Sir John Slessor. I said “yes, he was an Anglo-Irish guy who was associated with Polar Exploration at one time”. I told a bit about a story but I can’t remember the bit now. There were crowds of people milling around and someone came up to me and asked me if we were going on a train. I said “no, we’re going on a bus”. Someone else asked the same question. There were loads and loads of Arab kids around and every time that I got up to go somewhere they would sit at my seat and I would have to go and grab my seat back again from him. We were sitting there waiting for these buses to come. I had some rare church relics with me – a box of something and a china – porcelain cross, white with blue edgings and I was afraid that one of these days I was going to break these, the way that I’m picking them up and putting them down. I can’t remember who I was with now but I was with some woman or other on this trip.
Later on, I was at the radio and I’d interviewed a rock band. It was an interview that I had done by chance with no plan in mind and I’d had a call or something for one of these programmes so I sent them that.

The alarm went off as usual and I was out of bed before the third alarm which is good news. And after the medication and breakfast, seeing as my appointment isn’t until 13:30, I attacked some radio stuff.

Not one project, but in fact two. The music for the first one is chosen (except the last track of course) and I’ve chosen half for the second one. I may as well use my free time here profitably.

new fence condo gardens windmolenveldstraat leuven belgium eric hallThere was a break while I went to the Spar shop for some bread.

At the back of the Condo Gardens here in the Windmolenveldstraat it doesn’t look good at all – or at least, it didn’t. But it seems that they are making a concerted effort to tidy it up so that it looks pretty.

The new fence looks really nice – and what a pity some low-life character has decided to leave his mark on it. That’s the kind of thing that makes me quite fed up.

laying tactile paving tiensestraat leuven belgium eric hallA little further on down the Tiensestraat there are some exciting signs of activity.

They are using a stone-cutter to slice huge chunks out of the pavement and they are installing tactile pavement right by where the kerb drops are for the pedestrian crossings.

As an aside, I once had a female friend who worked for the Royal National Institute for the Blind and she reckoned that she had some of the responsibility for introducing tactile pavement into the UK.

Back here, I made myself a butty or two and round about 12:00 I headed off up town.

old cars lotus 7 tiensestraat leuven belgium eric hallStraight away, back in the Tiensestraat, I was interrupted by an old car.

We haven’t seen an old car in a while so I reckoned that I had better photograph it. According to the badge, it’s a Lotus 7, and according to its front number plate, it was registered in 1965.

But these are things that you can’t take for granted. Many Lotus 7s were sold in home-assembly kits and there were several other clones doing the rounds too. So you accept with care the “evidence” of the badge.

open air market friday herbert hooverplein leuven belgium eric hallThere’s the little open-air fruit and veg market today in the Herbert Hooverplein.

That was my immediate destination as I wanted an apple and a pear to take to the hospital with me. But having waited for about a week while the assistants served a couple of the slowest customers that I’ve ever seen, I rather lost patience.

Yes, I gave it up as a bad job and abandoned my prospective purchases and carried on the the hospital.

sint pieter hospital brusselsestraat leuven belgium eric hallRegular readers of the rubbish will recall what I’m going to be discussing next because we’ve been keeping an eye on these.

We’ve looked at the Hospital Sint Pieter here in the Brusselsestraat. It was built for the French community here in Leuven apparently but they left to go to Louvain-le-Neuve.

This became a huge white elephant and was never ever used to its potential. The respite care was here and so were the guest rooms, where I stayed for a while when I first came to Leuven.

Now it’s empty and they have made a start in demolishing it.

rebuilding car park sint jacobsplein leuven belgium eric hallWe’ve also seen the big hole in the car park in the Sint Jacobsplein.

As to what they were doing with this hole, I really have no idea. And I don’t suppose that I shall ever find out either because by the looks of things they are now filling it back in again.

Had I come by here two weeks ago when I should have been at the hospital, I might have noticed. Anyway, it will probably be fully restored the next time that I come.

building new sewers Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan leuven belgium eric hallThis is something that we haven’t seen before.

The road by the traffic lights in the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan is closed off and they have been digging up the road right here. It looks as if they are doing something to the drains and sewers but I’ve no idea what.

It does make me wonder if it is connected in some way to the hole that they dug in the St Jacobsplein car park. That would make a lot of sense I suppose.

rebuilding apartments Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan leuven belgium eric hallThe final thing of note is also in the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that sometime last year they completely gutted this block of flats – stripped it right back to the bare concrete. They now seem to be well-advanced with the renovation, and there was a lorry delivering a load of insulation.

The ground floor has been done out into shops so I’ll be interested to see who moves into them when they are ready.

At the hospital they are giving me yet another new treatment. Something called IQYMUNE which, according to Helena, is the bee’s knees. So we shall see.

And it had better be too if it’s to arrest this sudden decline.

Most of the time that I spent here, I was asleep. And it took the doctor an age to awaken me when he needed to talk to me about my kidneys.

My butties had unfortunately disintegrated inside my bag so I ate what I reasonably could, and then spent 15 minutes in the toilet on the way out cleaning bits of tomato, lettuce and hummus from the inside of my rucksack. What a mess!

On the way home I didn’t loiter. Just picked up my fruit and a tin of lentils from the Delhaize and came straight back. One of the side effects of this new medical stuff is “fatigue” and if I don’t have enough problems with that already!

Tea was the second burger with pasta, tomato sauce and vegetables. Followed by peach halves and mango sorbet. Totally delicious, it was too.

And then the football. Rhydaman v Caernarfon Town.

Rhydaman had comfortably disposed of Carmarthen away in the previous round and while Caernarfon are a different proposition to Carmarthen, the home advantage should normally count for something. Especially when I saw just how packed the ground was.

But Carmarthen were undone by four magic moments of Trundlemania and when we saw that Lee Trundle wasn’t playing tonight, then any advantage evaporated.

The game was littered with errors from start to finish and Caernarfon will have to improve dramatically and work on these silly mistakes if they want to push on into Europe. But even so, they had more in the tank than Rhydaman did.

They were 2-0 up by half-time and later in the game when Rhydaman tired, Caernarforn went on the rampage and scored 2 more, exactly as I had predicted to Johan Gallon in my interview with him a few days ago. Not even the introduction of the veteran Andy Robinson by Rhydaman could turn the game around.

Anyway, as this medication is responsible for fatigue and tiredness, I’d better hurry up and finish this before I …


Friday 13th December 2019 – THE GOOD NEWS …

… is that my blood count has gone up yet again. It’s now at 9.2 which is pretty astonishing as far as I am concerned. And I made a point to ask exactly what treatment they are giving me for my illness and the answer is “nothing”. The tablets that I take are to counter various side effects and the medication is to boost up my immune system.

But as for the illness, absolutely nothing.

Mind you, it’s pretty disconcerting to see that your doctor needs medical treatment herself. She had problems with her foot. But nevertheless, she can come and soothe my fevered brow any time she likes. This is a University hospital and all of the staff at this level are young University students. There has to be some benefit of my illness and I intend to make the most of it.

But as for bad news, then there’s plenty of that.

Firstly, my train out of Paris has been cancelled on Sunday due to the strike. It’s not the end of the world though because there are other solutions, amongst which “hiring a car” should never be ruled out. But there are options other than that to consider first.

Even so, hiring a car might sound expensive to some, but when you think about the price of a hotel in Paris, it’s not an outrageous proposition at all.

And that’s not all. You’ve all heard about the results of the Uk General Election where 14 million people voted for the Fascists and only 6.5 million voted to revoke the exit from the EU.

That in itself isn’t so important. But what IS important is that I now lose

  • Some of my UK pension rights
  • my health insurance rights
  • my employment rights
  • my rights of free movement and residence in the EU

And when one of my (ex) friends in the UK posted something bewailing her lot and I replied telling her to make the most of what she’ll be getting because I’ll be getting much worse than that, she called me all kinds of names (honestly!) and accused me of all kinds of things for not sympathising with her, even though she didn’t spend a single moment thinking about my lot.

But that’s the true spirit of the British people. Mean, narrow-minded, selfish, self-centred. I’m better off without these people dragging me down. And isn’t that just why I abandoned everyone in the UK in the first place? It can’t be a coincidence that they all end up like that. They all show their true colours eventually.

It’s definitely Friday 13th today!

Last night I wanted an early night so I tried the usual standby – switch on the laptop to watch a film. And sure enough, it works every time. Within 10 minutes I was away.

And right away too. There are a few files on the dictaphone that weren’t there when I went to bed, so it should be interesting to see those when I make it back home.

The alarms went off as usual at 06:00 etc but seeing as my appointment at Castle Anthrax wasn’t until this afternoon I was in no rush to rouse myself. A little lie-in did me good and it was 07:30 when I finally showed a leg.

This morning was spent firstly dealing with last night’s little perambulations.

I vaguely remember something about ships and fuel tankers having to reposition themselves and so on. Some captain had to reposition his ship but he hadn’t brought his money with him so it was rather pointless. i’d ended up at my electronic studio and I was trying to work on something. I managed to produce a really really good electronic music track and while I was at it I produced some vocals and overdubbed them over a piece of music that someone else had written and they were really really good. A few people came round to my house to do something with the computer so I had these tracks playing in the background and they looked really impressed. Although after a few minutes they asked “are we going to get on with some work or are we going to listen to this all day?” and I thought that maybe I had played a little too much and that was a shame because I was so impressed with what I’d done.
Sometime later we were back with the songs again and someone was going to bring some music over and we were going to do all of the singing. It meant getting out of this crowded tram. Someone was fighting their way to the door but the doors closed and there was a cry of “jam the door”. Someone stuck their foot in it so that it wouldn’t close, and it rebounded open. This person had to fight their way out through the crowds and out of the door. We ended up talking about fishing again and the situation of the British having sold all their permits and are now getting upset because the permits that they sold are now making money and the ones that they still have aren’t, and as usual.

Then we had the issue of dealing with the egocentric and selfish Brits in the UK but I did tear myself away to go to the Delhaize for shopping. Pasta, burgers and frozen veg will be on the menu or the next few days.

Back here, I had a shower and a clothes wash, made my butties and then headed for the hospital, calling at the Delhaize in town on the way because I had forgotten the vegan cheese and vegan mayonnaise.

sint pieters hospital  leuven louvain belgium december 2019Pouring down with rain now but I pushed on regardless.

My route today took me, as usual, down the Brusselsestraat and past St Pieter’s Hospital. An early and significant casualty of the linguistic war, this huge modern hospital was constructed to serve the French community, apparently (so I was told) who, once it was built, created a new town called Louvain-le-Neuve and moved all of their infrastructure out there instead.

The memory that I will always retain of this place as they make a serious start on demolishing it is that there were still the makers’ labels on the double-glazed windows on some of the floors because the rooms on those floors had never even been occupied.

By the time that I reached the hospital I was looking something like a drowned rat. 13:30 was my appointment but I was treated at 13:45 and then I was sat in a chair for a while as the medication was pumped into me.

Rosemary rang and we had a good chat while it was all going on, and eventually I was thrown out. A call at the pharmacy for medication and then down into town.

december hole in the ground parking sint jacob leuven louvain belgium Last time that we were here they were excavating a giant hole in the middle of the car park on the Jacobsplein, and I was interested to see how they were getting on and, more importantly, what they were going to be doign with it.

So here I am, and all that I can say is that in the last 4 weeks or so there hasn’t been very much change in the situation. The hole is still there and there doesn’t seem to be anythign to indicate why they have actually gone and dug it out.

It’s probably one of those things where time wil ltell and I should come back in four weeks time where I shall be equally confounded.

december christmas lights vismarkt leuven louvain belgium A visit to the Origin’O Health Food shop was also on the cards The Delhaize doesn’t sell all the vegan product that I need.

Before I went in though, I took the opportunity to take a photo of the Christmas lights in the Vismarkt. You can do quite a lot with modern LED lighting and this looked particularly good to me.

That was the cue to go into the shop and see what was on offer. They had some of that nice smoked vegan cheese that I had before so I bought some more of that, as well as some more grated cheese for the pizzas and the cheese sauces.

december christmas lights bondgenotenlaan leuven louvain belgium Though the rainstorm had died down by now, it was still wet and miserable going back to my little room.

For that reason, and also for the fact that I had the little Nikon 1 with me and not the big D500 with me, I didn’t hang around too long looking at Leuven’s Christmas lights, beautiful as they might be like these ones in the Bondgenotenlaan.

What I’ll have to do is that if it’s not raining tomorrow evening, I’ll bring the big Nikon out for a walk and go on a prowl around the city to see what I can see.

By the time that I arrived back at my room it wasn’t far off tea time so I made myself some food. And it wasn’t too bad either. It’ll keep the wolf from the door for a while.

There was football on the internet later. While Connah’s Quay Nomads were being turned over by Cefn Druids, we were being treated to Barry Town v TNS.

And it was easy to see why TNS have been Champions of the Welsh Premier League for the last couple of hundred years. Barry Town had been leading the league at one point this season but TNS dealt with them in summary fashion, winning 4-1 away from home without even breaking sweat.

First to the ball on almost every occasion they never looked in trouble at all and had Ratcliffe in the Barry goal not played a blinder, TNS could easily have doubled their tally.

As far as I’m concerned, they may as well give the title to TNS right now because no-one is ever going to stop them. They could even afford the luxury of leaving Greg Draper their leading scorer on the bench until about the 80th minute.

On that note, I’m off to bed. I’ve had enough for now. Nothing planned for tomorrow except to recover from today so if the weather has improved I’ll just go for a long walk.

See you tomorrow.

Incidentally, I did take some photos of the Christmas lights of the city. Too many to put on this page so if you want to see them you need to go to this page

Friday 15th November 2019 – I DON’T CARE …

hobbit knackers origin o Craenendonck Leuven Belgium… whether they are vegan or not, you won’t catch me ever eating any Hobbit Knackers.

Yes, I’ve been to the Health Food shop today. I’ve abandoned the Loving Hut for the Origin’O because not only does the latter have a better choice of vegan products, it’s cheaper too.

And so I’ve stocked up with vegan cheese today – the sliced kind as well as the grated variety – seeing that I’ve run out back at home.

vismarkt leuven belgiumThe Origin’O is situated in a small street – the craenendonck – which leads off a little square called the Vismarkt – the Fish market.

That probably at one time was a beautiful little square before the developers laid their hands upon it because part of it has been modernised out of all recognition.

Some of it however does retain some of its original character even if it might be looking a little tired these days. It does however still have quite a bit of charm about it.

mechelsestraat leuven belgiumThe streets that lead to the Vismarkt from the centre of the city make up part of the most beautiful area of the place. Narrow little pedestrianised streets lined by quaint old buildings which somehow seem to have survived the Rape of Leuven in August 1914.

Every now and again I’ve been posting photographs of the area as more and more things down there catch my eye, and so I can’t understand why it is that this building here in the Mechelsestraat has escaped my gaze until now.

It even has the date – 1691 – set into the walls of the building which makes it all even more impressive.

It’s built in the typical elaborate Flemish “Golden Age” style from the period when the Spanish Empire (which ruled the United Netherlands at that time) was in its apogee. And I would like to come back to this planet in 300 years time to see what buildings of our current epoch are still standing and still looking as beautiful as this one.

Another place that I visited today was “Exotic World” – the shop on the corner of the Brusselsestraat near to where I stayed when I lived here. That place is full of exotic herbs and spices so I bought some peppercorns, some fenugreek and some fennel seeds. I’m determined to spics up my cooking when I return home and this will do the stuff.

Last night after all of my exertions I was in bed quite early. Plenty of time to go on a few travels

And I can’t have been in bed more than 2 minutes before I was off to sleep and immediately (and the timestamp bears this out) off on a ramble where I was doing something like someone had died and there were four men who had inherited the money or who were inheriting. There were four individual sums, already calculated and divided so that they would have one each, and then a lump sum that needed to be calculated and divided between them. I had to pass a paper round to get them to sign it which they did. And then we started to talk about a few things like the division of the money. And at that point I suddenly woke up.
However at some time prior to that I was making a meal. It was deep fried wedge potatoes and onions in soya cream with all different kinds of things and plenty of carrots, whatever. I had to do it in two batches because there were two different groups of people. The first batch came out which was either for three or four people but it didn’t look enough so I was taking vegetables out of the second batch to put in it. I remember saying that while this doesn’t seem to be enough for them all they can always go back into the kitchen and get some more out of the other batch for the other people and hope that there will be enough to go round for them.
And it sounded so delicious with some black pepper that I’ll be making some when I return
And later there was something about going to a pub, a group of us. This pub used to organise a tournament against its groups of visitors and had actually made it through to the semi-finals of the competition. There was something about a shipment of liquor that was being sent somewhere. While I was in the airport I heard a call over the tannoy “Mr so-and-so, this is just to let you know that your shipment number so-and-so has been taken away by Customs to examine it and see what it was to make sure that it conformed to the waybill”
And later on still I was doing something with someone from the internet. I’m not sure why but I ended up with him at his house showing him my Audacity program and all of this, how everything worked and how you could record and crop tracks to make sound bytes all this kind of thing. He was quite impressed. When he went, my mother said ‘he’s a nice boy”. “Yes” I said, and I said that he lived on Alton Street but of course where I meant to say was on the Sunnybank Estate although it isn’t the Sunnybank Estate at all but on the one round the back of the park – Wistaston Green Estate.

When the alarms went off I was quickly out of bed and I’d soon medicated and breakfasted. Next stop was a shower and a clothes wash, and to my dismay I noticed that the drainage was blocked and the water wouldn’t evacuate. I made a note for the administration.

market place herbert hooverplein leuven belgiumBy now it was time to leave the place for the hospital at Castle Anthrax.

Off into the cold and dark morning, down the street into town and past the early morning market on the Herbert Hooverplein.

Not much going on there right now because it’s too early, but there will be much more activity there a little later when everyone else starts to emerge from their houses.

demolition st pieter hospital leuven belgiumRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that I stayed for a while at the St Pieter Annexe of the hospital. But no-one will be staying there now.

Because of a change of policy involving the Francophone community, the hospital was never ever used to anything like full capacity. And with the decision to regroup all of the services at the Gasthuisberg, it’s been practically empty for the past few years.

But there’s been a proposal to redevelop the site and build something more useful, and now the demolition crew has moved in.

excavation parking st jacobsplein leuven belgiumMy route across town took me past the St Jacobsplein car park at the back of the church just there.

And that seems to be the subject of a great deal of work right now. I’ve no idea what it is that they are intending to do there but they have dug a great big hole in the place.

It’s probably one of those things that I’m going to have to investigate in due course as the months and the work unfold.

rebuilding apartment block Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan Leuven BelgiumAnother piece of work that we have been following is the apartment on the corner of the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan and the Tervuursestraat.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that earlier in the year we noticed that the building had been emptied, and then we watched it being gutted over a couple of months.

Now, they seem to have made good progress in rebuilding it and I don’t imagine that it will be too long before it’s ready for reoccupation.

My appointment at the hospital was for 09:30 and I was there well in advance.

With no identity card I made myself known to the reception staff and was quickly signed in by a receptionist with whom I had a delightful trilingual conversation.

And I do have to say it – it’s now about 4 times in a couple of days that I’ve been able to identify myself with my new carte de sejour. I do know of people who are intending not to apply for one, and they are going to find things extremely difficult as time evolves.

09:30 was my appointment and by that time I was already being tended to by a nurse called Laura. And she can soothe my fevered brow any day of the week.

This new treatment is extremely rapid and by 11:45 it was all done and I was ready for home. I’d seen the doctor and had my run-down of the last medical visit.

He asked me if I knew that I didn’t have a spleen. I replied that I did because I knew that I had nothing to vent when people (like those on The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour) got my goat.

There are a few gallstones too and a little thing with the liver and kidneys but apart from that, there’s no problem. The blood count has improved slightly yet again – to 9.0 but I still can’t do anything about having more of a gap between appointments.

At the pharmacy I picked up enough medication to last a year and then headed back via the Spar supermarket where a small demi-baguette was bought to go with my vegan cheese for lunch.

With plenty of time to spare, I did some more website amending and dictaphone transcribing, as well as having a little … errr … relax, the first one for quite a while.

Later on in the evening I went back out again and met Alison. We ended up once more in Green Way, the vegan restaurant, where my taco rolls were excellent, although not like mine at all

A chat in Kloosters, the hotel bar where we had a coffee and a good warm by the fire, and Alison brought me back to my little room here.

But now I’m exhausted, and it’s no surprise why, because I’ve done almost 150% of my (increased) daily activity. And even I’m impressed with this.

However over the past month I’ve only lost 100 grams in weight. That’s no good at all with this new improved fitness regime. I need to be losing much more than this.

At 100 grams per month, I’m going to be around for ever.

Friday 18th October 2019 – I REALLY DON’T UNDERSTAND …

… this illness at all. I really don’t!

It has been no less than 16 weeks since my last medical check and treatment. In other words, I have missed four of the urgent treatments that I must have every four weeks to stay alive.

And so, dear reader, you would have expected me to crash in through the hospital doors like the Wreck of the Hesperus on “the reef of Norman’s Woe”.

Consequently you will be somewhat surprised, if not alarmed, to learn that my blood count this time after all of this absence has actually RISEN from 8.4 to 8.9

So just WHAT it going on?

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I expressed surprise at the dramatic collapse in blood count between the examinations in May and June, and also to the fact that when I had my blood count examined at the laboratory at Granville it gave a totally different reading to the one at the hospital.

And so, dear reader, we face three possibilities here –
1) I’m cured (presumably praying to Mecca the other day had the desired result).
2) The high emotion and turmoil through which I went and which I noted towards the end of my trip on The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour at the back end of August produced enough natural adrenaline to stimulate the red blood cells all on its own without artificial aids
3) The laboratory at the hospital is hopelessly inaccurate.

Either way, it seems that a sea voyage to the High Arctic in the company of a large group of miserable, depressing people intent on spoiling everyone else’s fun and to whom I could vent my spleen (which I can’t because I no longer have one) at the top of my voice in real anger and actually mean what I say sounds like a good plan to me.

Furthermore I seem to have lost 8 kgs in weight over the four months, and I mused that if I keep that up at the current rate, then by Christmas 2022 I will have gone completely.

But the biggest surprise is yet to come.

Clearly I’m better than I ought to be at this particular point so firstly, they changed my medication. And if my Orcadian medical adviser is reading these note he can tell me all about a medication called Privigen, because that’s what I’m taking.

Secondly, they asked me loads of questions about the voyage and the state of my health while I was away, questions that I have never been asked before.

Thirdly, they brought a specialist in to see me “for a chat”

Fourthly, Kaatje, my Social Worker who is really a psychiatrist assigned to me as part of the terminal illness programme under which I’m registered, came to see me for a chat and she was asking me a pile of probing questions too, about life on board ship and the voyage in general. I told her about the nightmare that I had when I was on board ship and about the emotional roller-coaster that marked my life over that five-week period from towards the end of August to the beginning of October (after all she has to earn her money) when I was in a pit of deep depression and anger after the first nightmare and the even more wild one a week or two later, and she was busy making notes. But she left without getting to whatever point she might have wanted to see me about, had there been a point to her visit, and that set a couple of bells going off in my head.

Fifthly, I was summoned for an x-ray and an echograph of my torso, and that alarmed me too. And I’m no doctor or x-ray tech, but I do know enough about echograph images to know that I didn’t like what I saw on the screen, and I had noticed that he had taken his time and made several passes over a certain part of my torso just underneath the ribcage.

Sixthly, when I went to the reception area to enquire about my next appointment, which they always hand out regularly, they replied “we’ll send a letter to you”.

So I smell something fishy – and I’m not talking about the contents of Baldrick’s Apple Crumble either.

Another surprising thing, not relating to the hospital, or maybe it is, is that contrary to all expectations, I had an absolutely dreadful night. After two more-or-less sleepless nights and a long day yesterday, I was expecting to sleep for a week but in fact it took me ages to go off to sleep and once I did, I was wide-awake by 03:00.

No chance of going back to sleep either – I was up and working on the computer by 04:30.

At 06:00 when the alarms went off I had a shower and washed the clothes that were outstanding, and then set off for the railway station. The Carrefour was open so I grabbed some raisin buns and launched myself aboard the train for Welkenraedt that had just pulled into the station.

At Leuven I heaved myself out of the train and headed off across the city to the hospital. On the way, there were thousands of scouts and girl guides all over the place and they seemed to be having a disco in the town square outside the Town Hall.

At 08:30 in the morning?

There’s a new check-in procedure at Castle Anthrax. Apparently you have to swipe the screen with your identity card. That;s fine, except that being a foreigner I don’t have an identity card. I have to muscle my way into the queue somehow so all of this is going to end in tears sooner or later.

Eventually I was registered and sent to a chair downstairs for my treatment. A few little dozes throughout the day, but nothing violent.

When it was all done (and this new medication is quicker than the previous one) I could leave and pick up my medication for home. And this world is getting far too small for my liking, as I have said on occasions too numerous to mention. The pharmacist looked at me and asked “you’re the guy who went to the North on that ship, aren’t you?”
“Blimmin’ ‘eck”, as the much-maligned Percy Penguin would have said.

There was plenty of time for me to go for a wander, and then I met up with Alison. We went for a coffee, a vegan burger at the Green Way and then another coffee at Kloosters.

She told me about all of her health problems and I told her all about my voyage on The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour, all about the miserable bunch of passengers with whom I’d been stranded, all about the petty jealousies and squabbles, the spitefulness and selfishness, the mad stampede at the induction meeting where the first in the queue wiped out the buffet for the latecomers and left an indelible stain on my memory before the voyage even started, and the turbulent events that took place on the final couple of days of that miserable voyage.

Strange as it is to say it, I did actually enjoy the trip regardless because we got to some of the places (not to all of them by any means!) that I had always wanted to see, even if the others wanted to see them for different reasons.

The mean-spiritedness of the other passengers didn’t bother me either. I worked in the tourism industry for years and I’ve seen it all before and I had some kind of vicarious pleasure watching to see just the depths into which the behaviour of some of the passengers could descend. Even when some of the vitriol was directed at me, and even more so at Strawberry Moose I found it quite amusing to see the lack of self-restraint and goodwill amongst the passengers.

Even when I mentioned on a couple of occasions to a couple of the organisers that everyone seemed to be going stir-crazy, nothing was done to break up the tension and by the final day, the organisers were as stir-crazy and irritable as the worst of the passengers and one or two of them completely lost all sense of reality by the end.

Many of the early explorers refer to “cabin fever” – where they have to spend several months of winter in confined and cramped quarters in the company of others whom they started off liking by by the time of the thaw they were poised on the brink of murdering each other. It was just like that on board the ship.

Rather reluctantly, I came to the conclusion that the voyage last year when I made so many friends and had so many memorable moments must have been the exception to the rule, and these trips this year are much more the norm.

My social media page contains many names from that trip in 2018, but on this set of voyages this year, then apart from Rosemary who is already on it, and a couple of other people who were not involved in any fracas and who are well-known to themselves, then there isn’t a single person from any part of that voyage who merits a single moment of my time.

Anyone who wants to comment on any of the foregoing, please feel free to use the “comments” facility here. The link is active for a week or so, so if you miss it, add your comments to a later active posting.

I don’t expect you to agree with me, but I do expect you to be polite.

So abandoning another good rant for the moment, I made it back to my hotel by train and here I am, rather late but ready for bed. I have an early start on Sunday so I’m having a lie-in tomorrow with no alarms. That will almost inevitably mean that I’ll be wide-awake at about 04:30.