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Thursday 18th August 2021 – THAT WAS A …

… much better night last night, due to the fact that there wasn’t any noise from the neighbouring room. Mind you, there’s some noise coming from there now so here’s hoping that they’ll shut up in due course before bedtime.

It still didn’t make for an uninterrupted sleep because I was off on my travels during the night and I must have gone for miles. I started off in the USA travelling south and I’d come into Georgia, still travelling south and something must have happened because the next thing that I remember was that I was in a car with half a dozen other people. The woman was driving so recklessly through these roadworks, knocking over all these bollards. We’d been driving down a highway and now we were threading our way through a town. Two of these people were talking about how grateful they were to this woman for picking them up because they would never have found someone else going their way after they had been rear-ended in their car. They were chatting away and I thought to myself that pretty soon I’m going to be going into a couple of new States that I don’t know. So I asked “how far are we from the Georgia Florida border?” The woman replied “we’ll be crossing the border in about an hour or so”. The dawn was just so dramatic. It changed from a dark night to bright sunlight in an instant. I saw that the sun was about a quarter high so I thought that I must have gone to sleep or something. We were talking about race cars. They were mocking my English language about Wimbledon so we ended up talking about tractor pulling. The guy said that he’d be too scared to try tractor pulling because that’s really something.

Later on I was in the far north of Canada somewhere with my friend from Munich, standing on a clifftop watching events unfolding. Dawn was just breaking. We’d been around and I don’t know where but we’d ended up somewhere near a village. It had only been the smaller schoolchildren who had gone to school that day. As dawn started to break there were sounds of sirens or a horn and I thought that it must be an icebreaker coming down the river. I wondered if it would be Terry Fox, the icebreaker that I knew. So we looked and it was a heavy lorry coming down there zigzagging from side to side as if to flatten all of the streets, going downhill backwards to this village. We went down to see and by now all the schoolchildren were assembling, all ages, ready to go into school. There was a shop there that we came across because we followed the lorry and it had stopped there to get diesel. We walked into this shop with all of these schoolkids around, looking at us because we were dressed differently and looked differently. It was a second-hand place with loads of second-hand books and everything. There wee a few guitars there so my idea was that we would have an impromptu concert but all the strings had been knotted together so we couldn’t actually play anything on them. That was a really disappointing thing because we were hoping to have a little bit of fun with them.

Later still I was at my lock-up at Smallman Road and it was in a terrible mess. My brother was there and he started to help me tidy up, something about which I wasn’t very happy because when people start tidying up you don’t know where they put things and you never find them But after half an hour it made an enormous difference and you could actually walk around places which you hadn’t done in there for years. I then suggested o get the stuff out of Caliburn like the two spare wheels and a pile of boxes, the snow chains and everything. That was what we did and started moving stuff around out of Caliburn but somehow I became all oily and we were going to be really dirty and getting these tyres out of the back and so on.

Somewhere along the way I was standing in a queue behind a woman who was buying pieces of broken chocolate but she took so long trying to take her money from her purse that I was sure that I was going to miss what I was going to do and I wished that she would get a move on.

After the exertions of the last couple of days I stayed in bed until 10:00 and when I eventually rose again from the dead I went and had my medication. After that I chose the music for another radio programme. That’s three now that I’ve done and I’ll do the fourth tomorrow, I reckon.

After I’d made my sandwiches I headed off to the hospital for my appointment.

summer flowers herbert hooverlaan leuven belgium Eric HallMy perambulations at lunchtime took me past the Herbert Hooverplein.

No market there this morning, and so instead I could admire the flowers. I’m not a flower person – in fact I once told my friend Lorna that the only time that you would find a flower on any photo that I took would be if there were an old car parked on top of it – but these are particularly beautiful.

As you might expect, I have no idea what kind of flowers these might be. “Yellow and white ones” would be my best guess.

cycling fitness machine grote markt leuven belgium  Eric HallFrom there I pushed on down the hill to the town centre and the Grote Markt.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that last time we were here we saw this container with a couple of exercise bicycles in it. And I’ve finally worked out what its purpose is.

It seems that in about 30 days time there will be some kind of cycling World Championships taking place and this is some kind of advertisement to publicise the event.

We’ll see how events unfold here over the course of the next few weeks.

river dijle leuven belgium Eric HallAnother thing that regular readers of this rubbish will recall is that a month ago we had all of the rain and all of the floods in Belgium

At the height of the storm the river LOOKED LIKE THIS and you can see how different the river is today. The doorway down there shows that there was a couple of feet of difference in the height of the river.

The country is still reeling from the effects of the storm, but luckily we here in Leuven didn’t suffer very much – not half as much as some places over in the east by the German border.

demolition at rear of sint rafael hospital kapucijnenvoer leuven belgium Eric HallAs I pushed along the Brusselsestraat on the way to the hospital, I checked the big building site here.

They have swept away all of what was the Sint Pieter’s Hospital and it seems that they are now starting to demolish the rear of the Sint Rafael Hospital. This is certainly some kind of new development that wasn’t here last time I was in Leuven.

This part of the redevelopment of the site is something that I hadn’t seen on the plans so I’ll be very interested to see how this particular story unfolds.

soil deposited at sint pieters hospital brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric HallPart of the plans for the redevelopment of the site include some landscaping of the area.

Something else that has turned up on the site since I was last here is a couple of lorry-loads of what looks like soil.

Presumably they are going to bulldoze it all over the site, and I hope that they will plant bushes and trees there as well while they are at it.

Here in the centre of the town there aren’t anything like enough trees and other greenery to revitalise the atmosphere and no effort should be spared to make the place look environmentally friendly.

old medieval tower brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric HallAfter they cleared away the building and the rubble we noticed that there was an old medieval tower left behind on the site that had been obscured.

It has been protected by scaffolding and there’s some metal sheeting to cover it over. But right now it seems that they are starting work on restoring it – and not before time either. It should look really nice when it’s finished – I hope.

The walk up the hill to the hospital was a nightmare. I had to stop about a dozen or so times in order to catch my breath and when I finally reached the hospital I was obliged to take the escalator up to the first floor.

That’s something that has not happened since I first came here 5 years ago and it’s definitely a backward step.

The nurse who attended to me was very sweet and she can come and massage my clavicles any time she likes. The doctor on the other hand was somewhat lacking in his approach and I don’t think that he’ll be working long in the profession.

He certainly didn’t have the interest in his task – whenever I mentioned something else that was the problem it was “see your GP about that” – except that he said it in French because that the language that he used to speak to me. He didn’t have the least curiosity and that’s no good for a doctor.

My blood count has gone up from 9.0 to 9.2 although it doesn’t seem anything like it. There’s definitely some other underlying problem with the health issues that I’m having right now.

While I was here I made a start on transcribing the dictaphone notes (hence today’s notes) but Alison popped by to see me so we ended up chatting instead. I’ll have to do the outstanding notes tomorrow, unless something else crops up in the meantime.

building site kapucijnenvoer leuven belgium Eric HallOn the way home I went to have a look at the various building projects in the Kapucijnenvoer.

The big building that is receiving all of their attention right now is advancing. Not exactly quite rapidly but there is a great deal of surface area that is involved in this particular project and the volume alone will count for a lot.

It’s going to be quite a while before the building appears above ground level and judging by the thickness of the walls it’s going to be quite a substantial building too that is going to tower up above the surrounding building.

more demolition Onze Lieve Vrouwstraat Leuven belgium Eric HallMeanwhile, while I was looking at the groundwork here with one of my eyes the other eye was off roaming about examining what was going on in the background.

There’s part of this complex that runs round the back of the Onze Lieve Vrouwstraat in the distance and it looks as if they are now making a start on demolishing part of that – something else that I haven’t noticed on the plans of the site.

It seems that they are going to be making quite a clean sweep of the area and while I’m not sorry to see much of it go, there are some parts of it that have a certain something that will be missed when it’s gone.

building site kapucijnenvoer zongang leuven belgium Eric HallOn the way home I wandered off down the Kapucijnenvoer to look at the other building site that backs onto the Zongang.

While I was on my way up to the hospital there was a lorry there with the site crane lifting from the trailer a pile of concrete sheets that are presumably going to be the flooring. But by the time that I came back, they had all gone.

But the building is shooting up quite quickly, much quicker than we would expect, bearing in mind the speed at which other building projects are carried on in the town. Normally they take an age but they aren’t hanging around with this one.

building site kapucijnenvoer zongang leuven belgium Eric HallBut I don’t imagine that the people who are living in that nice house in the Zongang are particularly happy about this building.

While I was passing I peered through the new building out to the back, and you can see how closely they have built this structure to the house behind. This is going to cut out all of the light that would otherwise fall on the building.

There’s supposed to be a parking place for each of the apartments too and I’m not sure how they are going to fit any of that in on the site or in the little yard at the back.

site plan sint pieters hospital brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric HallOn my way back home I went to have a look at the site plan of the redevelopment to see what this new series of demolitions might mean.

Unfortunately I didn’t check it as thoroughly as I might because I was rather distracted by the noticeboard giving the explanations. And I wonder what exactly is a “Honkhuis”. My imagination is running wild right now.

And so I’ll have to have a look at the noticeboard next time I go past there and make better notes of how the site is going to evolve. But at least I did notice that the culvert that covers the river there is going to be removed and the river will be exposed once more to the open air.

man running dog around velodrome brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric HallThere is of course the new velodrome that they have built on the site of the old hospital.

On my way past it to the hospital there was no-one actually using it so I refrained from taking a photo, thinking that I’ll catch someone using it on the way back and photograph it then.

There was indeed someone using it, but not a cyclist. When I arrived some little girl was just cycling away from it with her mother. Instead I caught a man taking his dog for a run around it.

Not the best use of the velodrome, I have to say. I was expecting it to be much more popular with the youngsters than it seems to be.

new hardstanding brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric HallThere’s some more work that’s been undertaken on the site since we were last here.

We now seem to have some kind of hardstanding behind the velodrome, surrounded by a load of potted palms or whatever they might be. The purpose of this hardstanding is a mystery to me.

The way back home was accomplished without as much effort as I was expecting. I stopped at the chemist’s on the way back but she didn’t have everything that I needed so I’ll have to go back there tomorrow to pick up everything. I can do that while I’m having a little walk about

Now that I’ve had tea, and the music seems to have quietened down for a moment, I’m going to go to bed. No alarm in the morning – I’m going to have yet another lie-in. So here’s hoping that no-one manages to disturb me during the night.

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.

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.

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.

Friday 22nd May 2020 – HOW LONG IS IT …

caravanette camping car parked rue du roc granville manche normandy france eric hall… since we’ve featured a parking issue on these pages?

At one time there was one almost every other day but there hasn’t been one for quite some time so I reckon that it’s about time that I put that right.

Another thing that gets my goat, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall is the issue of caravanettes. Apart from reversing into road signs and knocking them over and clearing off without saying anything, they think that the rest of the rules and regulations of the road don’t apply to them either.

So here we’re killing two birds with one stone. “No Parking for Caravanettes” is clearly written on this sign but the driver clearly believes that it doesn’t apply to him.

And there are two reasons why they are banned from parking in the street, apart from the obvious sanitary ones.

  1. This is a historical medieval area with all kinds of apartments crammed into the old stone buildings. I’m lucky in that my building has private parking. Almost all of the others don’t and the streets are so narrow that it’s almost impossible to park within the walls. The locals who live here need all of the parking that they can get
  2. It’s a bus route with the big 12-metre coaches that service the College here coming round that corner and it’s really tight. They need all of the space that they can get and wide vehicles like this overhanging the parking spaces especially right on the corner is giving the drivers an added complication.

But none of the foregoing seems to bother our visitor here as long as he has somewhere to come and spread his virus around.

The local council provides a parking space (a mere 200 metres down the road) for caravanettes and there are plenty of other places, like acres of abandoned docks, for example, where they can park as they please without inconveniencing anyone.

Signed “Grouchy of Granville”.

As for me, I didn’t go to the shops as I said that I would yesterday. But I’ll explain all about that in due course. Firstly, it will be an enormous surprise to regular readers of this rubbish (as indeed it was to me!) who will recall the issues that I’ve been having just recently, to learn that by the time that the third alarm went off I was actually up and about.

During the night I’d been up and about too. I was taking two girls to a night club in Manchester. The night club was in the North and I knew where it was vaguely situated but I didn’t realise that I was coming from Brussels. So I picked up these two girls and put them in the car, a Morris Minor I think, and set out and drove. We got to join the inner ring road in Brussels and they wanted to know why I was going that way. “doesn’t this road end in a field or something?”. I said “no” but then I thought that maybe the way they wanted me to go was the right way so I said “OK we can go that way”. But then I saw a sign for Bolton saying straight on. I thought that Bolton was near Manchester so we could go that way. But then I started racking my brains about how to get across to Manchester, to the north side to this Night Club. I really couldn’t think how to do it. At one point I was trying to drive on the wrong side of the road, I don’t know why and cars were coming that way towards me. But it would have been the right side of the road in the UK but the wrong side of the road whee I was apparently.

After breakfast I sat down and looked at a couple of the website pages that I’d planned to be dealing with. And this is how I spent my day – absorbed in this – and by the time that I’d finished I’d totally rewritten several pages and modified several others too in order to conform to the new specifications. It had been a really good day, just for a change.

There was even time to edit a pile of photos from July 2019 too – catching up somewhat with those.

During the day there had been a whole pile of interruptions too.

Firstly there was a shower and a general clean-up. Not just of me either but of the apartment. That needed to be spick and span, because I was having visitors.

Sure enough, the travelling nurse came round and took a blood sample. We had a really good chat too and he was surprised about the relaxation of the health regulations here too, and is of the opinion that the rates will be going up again as people are misled into thinking that this is all over and drop their guard.

In the meantime I’d had a look around the apartment to see what I needed from the shops and apart from bananas, there was nothing that I really needed. And as for the lack of bananas, I have a few oranges that needed eating so it wasn’t as if I was desperate. Instead I made an Executive Decision (that is, a decision that if it goes wrong, the person who made it is executed) to push on with my work.

My lunchtime bread was really nice. There’s room for improvement of course but it was much better than previous attempts and I shall have to work harder at it. But I’m on the right track, I reckon.

people on beach plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallThere was the afternoon walk of course, out there in the sun and the wind (because the wind is now back again).

We had the people back out on the beach again now that yesterday’s sea fog has lifted. Not as many as I was expecting to see, with everyone going out to faire le pont between the Bank Holiday and the weekend.

This kind of social distancing is pretty much acceptable of course. But having seen the crowds on the beaches in the UK and the USA, then they are going to have some really serious problems in a week or two’s time.

medieval fish trap plat gousset granville manche normandy france eric hallRegular readers of this rubbish might recall whether or not I’ve mentioned this object before but I can’t remember – although it’s extremely likely.

And you can see exactly how it works in this photo because the tide is quite right. It’s a medieval fish trap and the idea is that at high tide the water overflows the stone walls and as the tide recedes, the water drains out through the joints leaving the fish stuck behind.

The medieval citizens just walk out and pick up the trapped fish, and there’s your lunch. Not mine, of course.

paragliders pointe du roc granville manche normandy france eric hallWhile all of this was going on, I was disturbed once more by a rather dark shadow passing over me, rather like the Nazgul in Lord of the Rings that so frightened the Nine Walkers.

No prizes though for guessing what it is. With this nice sunny afternoon and te high winds that we are having, the Birdmen of Alcatraz are out in force.

This one here was being buzzed by a seagull. They don’t take lightly to intruders and, if the rumours are true, they made pretty short work of the surveillance drones used by the police to patrol the beaches during the detention à domicile

paragliders cemetery donville les bains granville manche normandy france eric hallA girl and I (keeping our social distance of course) spent a while looking at them waiting for the collision that we felt was going to be inevitable. Not much of a social distance between them even in the air.

It’s amusing (to people like me, anyway) that they take off over there from a field right next door to the local cemetery. If the take-off goes all wrong (which it has done in the past) they don’t have to carry the failures too far.

But then, that’s why they build walls around cemeteries of course. Because people are dying to go in there.

I’ll get my coat.

abandoned personal possessions in waste bin square maurice marland granville manche normandy france eric hallRegular readers of this rubbish will also recall that yesterday we saw a pile of abandoned personal possessions on the wall of the ramp leading down to the Square Maurice Marland.

Even more surprisingly, they are still there today. Not exactly where they had been left, but someone had come along and filed them under “CS”.

Just imagine that in the UK. They wouldn’t have remained around for 30 seconds had someone put them down somewhere. It just goes to show how different people have different moral values in different parts of the world.

By the time that I’d knocked off I’d been hard at it and had a really good day for once. My hour on the guitars was profitable and I enjoyed it so much more because I’ve adopted a new tactic as far as the bass guitar goes and I’m going to work hard at this.

Tea was an “anything curry” made of leftovers and a small tin of lentils, with the last of the rice, the making of which resulted in me throwing the turmeric all over the floor. The apple crumble for dessert wad delicious and I’ll make some more of that.

yacht towing dinghy baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france eric hallTime for my evening run, I reckon, so off I set.

The usual struggle up the hill (I just can’t seem to push on any more than I’m doing even after all of the practice that I’ve been having). Eventually I arrived at the cliff top just in time to see this yacht go sailing past me towing a little dinghy behind it.

It was well on its way out of the harbour and I had no idea where it might be going. But it made me quite envious to watch it sail out – to such an extent that I put a couple of plans into operation when I returned home.

cabin cruiser waves baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france eric hallThat wasn’t all of the maritime activity either.

There’s no point whatever in gratuitously posting pictures of trawlers but this one was quite interesting. As I rounded the corner at the tip of the Pointe du Roc this speedboat flashed by me with a driver who clearly had his pedal to the metal.

You can see how lively the sea was with all of the wind that blowing about, and it looked quite impressive as he carved his way through the waves with all of that sea spray splashing around.

strange phenomenon in water granville manche normandy france eric hallAnother thing that regular readers of this rubbish will recall seeing is different phenomena of strange effects and patterns in the sea.

As I did my run along the clifftop on the south side of the Pointe du Roc I noticed another one so when I stopped for my pause for breath I stopped to take a photo of it.

Whatever it is and whatever is causing it I really couldn’t say. It looks like foam or something similar but whether it’s from someone who has been emptying their washing machine into a grid or whather it’s a natural phenomenon I really couldn’t say.

But the evenness of the distribution was fascinating. Despite the rough sea right now it was in a perfectly straight line with a right-angled bend further out.

trawlers chantier navale port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hall
While I was stopped getting my breath and photographing the sea phenomena, I had a good look down at the chantier navale .

There has been more movement of the occupants down there over the last 24 hours. We are now down to just two boats. The big black and green one that was up on blocks right at the bottom seems to have gone back out to sea.

So on that note I cleared off and ran all the way down the Boulevard vaufleury and my breathing point around the corner at the second pedestrian crossing.

trawler port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallWhile I was on my way down the boulevard I noticed something in the inner harbour that made me go back to look.

Sure enough, the black and green trawler that was up on blocks in the chantier navale for weeks is now moored underneath the crane in the inner harbour. I’ve no idea why but if Normandy Trader comes into harbour we’ll have a problem.

It goes without saying that when I went out earlier today, Thora was long-gone back to the Channel Islands.

There was nothing doing at the viewpoint in the rue du Nord. The clouds had come down and the sun was well-hidden, so I ran back home.

As I started to type up my notes, Rosemary rang and we ended up chatting until long after 00:30. I have an early start in the morning so I didn’t bother finishing them off. I went straight to bed and I’ll catch up tomorrow.

Wednesday 22nd April 2020 – WHILE YOU ADMIRE …

beautiful sunset english channel ile de chausey granville manche normandy france eric hall… this evening’s beautiful sunset, as the sun slowly sinks into the sea somewhere off the shore of the Ile de Chausey, let me tall you about my day, such as it was.

And for a change, it started off rally well too. I was actually out of bed and struggling into my clothes when the third alarm went off, and that’s not something that happens every day, especially these days.

And so I wandered off for my medication, or whatever is left of my medication until tomorrow.

beautiful sunset english channel ile de chausey granville manche normandy france eric hallAfter the medication, I had a look at the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night.

And not very far, by the look of it.

There was something going on about a zoo during the night. There was a group of us, a Scottish rock group and I can’t remember which one it was. We were going hunting and someone brought a rifle along, but was soon persuaded to change it for a camera. We all had to wear face masks so I put this face mask on a little girl, a weird thing that needed all kind of strange tightening up, then told her to go to put hers on her brother and then come back to put mine on. Her brother was only a year or two older and he didn’t understand about face masks and they were having a bit of a struggle to get his face mask on.

beautiful sunset english channel ile de chausey granville manche normandy france eric hallBreakfast was next of course, and that was followed by a shower.

And those few hundred grammes that I had lost the other day – well, they are back. It seems that my bathroom scales are about as reliable as Castle Anthrax’s blood laboratory testing service … “you said that the other day” – ed.

And having had a good shower and clean up, then I cleaned and tidied the bathroom and you can actually see the surface in there now. That’s progress.

beautiful sunset english channel ile de chausey granville manche normandy france eric hallHaving organised the bathroom I started on the kitchen and the dining area.

The kitchen looks as if it hasn’t been cleaned since Adam was a lad so it was high time that it was done. I usually always do that just before I go to Leuven, but I haven’t been there since January, have I?

And then the dining area. That needed a good going-over too.

So basically the place looks so much better now that it did yesterday.

beautiful sunset english channel ile de chausey granville manche normandy france eric hallThe nurse (a new one) came at about 10:10 and I’m glad t was this one because even though he wasn’t particularly garrulous, he found a vein and insterted his needle quite painlessly. I’m always grateful for that.

He was in and out and gone within about 10 minutes, which meant that I could crack on with what I’d been intending to do.

We started off with the digital file splitting. Two albums of “Greatest Hits” and, to my surprise, both of them were completed today with just the odd little problem here and there but nothing serious.

beautiful sunset english channel ile de chausey granville manche normandy france eric hallThat was followed by dictating the notes that I had written yesterday for the two radio projects on which I had been working.

And shame is it to say that I actually fell asleep while I was doing it. That was embarrassing, particularly as it was for about 20 minutes or so.

I can’t last the pace, can I?

But anyway, once they were dictated, I uploaded them to the computer

beautiful sunset english channel ile de chausey granville manche normandy france eric hallAfter lunch, I made a start on editing them, having a little chat with Rachel in New Brunswick along the way.

And even though I didn’t feel much like it and wished that I had something else to do instead of this, by the time that I came to knocking off at 18:00 I had made some quite remarkable progress.

So much so that I wish that I had had a day like this much earlier in the week when I really needed to do it.

beautiful sunset english channel ile de chausey granville manche normandy france eric hall

  • The dictated notes have been edited as necessary
  • they have been converted to *.mp3 files
  • they have been split into the appropriate segments to match the music that will precede and follow them
  • they have all been merged together in the appropriate places
  • the remaining time has been calculated
  • the final, concluding tracks have been identified
  • these have been enhanced and edited
  • I’ve made a start on writing out the notes to conclude the programmes

beautiful sunset english channel ile de chausey granville manche normandy france eric hallYes, I wish that I had more days like that.

An hour was spent on the guitar, just running over “Telegraph Road” again and once I worked out that not only is there a wrong chord, the chord pattern puts the breaks in the wrong place, then the identifying pattern was easy to spot

It’s a lot of hard work on the bass though, and I don’t think that I shall have it cracked any time soon.

beautiful sunset english channel ile de chausey granville manche normandy france eric hallFor tea tonight, in my nice clean kitchen and dining area, I decided on a burger and bap for tea, with a baked potato.

Now that I know how much mustard to use (this “old-style” mustard is different to the more modern stuff) it comes out really well and tastes extremely delicious.

We’re on the verge of a crisis though. Tomorrow will see me use the last of the apple crumble. At the moment it’s tasting better and better as the spices in the apples have time to mix through

beautiful sunset english channel ile de chausey granville manche normandy france eric hallAnd then I had to go off for my evening runs.

The sun was still quite high in the sky right now, although I reckoned that by the time I had gone once around my little lap it will have gone down. So I put a spurt on and headed for the hills

And that was quite agonising too. For a couple of days I thought that I had cracked this little course of mine but that might have been rather optimistic. This evening I felt every inch of the way.

chantier navale port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallEventually I found my way round to the chantier navale where I could stop to see that was going on.

And there’s been a change in there today. For the last week or so there have been four boats in there up on blocks but today there were only three.

The one that was on its own down the quayside seems to have disappeared – back into the water probably. They are clearly cracking on with things down there in the chantier navale regardless of any social distancing.

girl talking on telephone port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallIf you have a look at image, you’ll see that it’s been cropped from the previous photo. The girl in this image can be seen in the previous one right up at the top beyond the boat hoist and near the bright yellow plastic boat in the rack.

What’s interesting in this photo is that while I was taking the one of the chantier navale I could hear someone talking quite clearly, although I couldn’t make out what they were saying.

Being of a curious bent, I had a good look around but couldn’t see anyone so I was puzzled. But then as the voice slowly became louder, I could see the girl approaching, and she was talking on her telephone.

She must have been a good 400 yards or so away from me yet because of the detention à domicile there was no noise of vehicles or other people and thus the sound of her voice was carrying for a much greater distance than you might expect.

support pillar floating pontoon rue du port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallThe windows in the apartment had been open today and I had heard the pile-driver going off.

So when I stopped for breath on my run home, I went to see what they had been doing.

At first glance I couldn’t see any difference but on a closer look I think that one or two of the support pillars on the rue du Port side are deeper in the water.

They must have been having a hammering today.

seagulls port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallWhile I was admiring the inner port, my attention was distracted by some goings-on in the corner over there.

Horses and hordes of seagulls circling around over there. It suggests that a fishing boat has just come in and is in the process of unloading. The birds will be on the lookout for a free meal as the process continues.

As for me though, I couldn’t hang around as I had things to do.

beautiful sunset english channel ile de chausey granville manche normandy france eric hallBy now, the sun would be on its way out so I went for a butchers in the rue du Nord.

There was a girl there too, one of about ten people in total whom I had seen this evening, admiring the scenery too. I attempted to strike up a conversation with her as a gesture of solidarity but she wasn’t having it.

And so instead I carried on admiring the slowly-sinking sun. It really was beautiful.

beautiful sunset english channel ile de chausey granville manche normandy france eric hallAfter about 15 minutes the sun finally disappeared over the horizon and so in the nest tradition of the “News Of The Screws”, I “made my excuses and left”.

No-one was around to notice so I ran all the way back to the apartment so as to make up my five runs.

About 30 seconds after I returned, the ‘phone rang. It was Rosemary and she wanted a really good chat so we were there on the ‘phone puttign the world to rights for a good hour and a half.

I sisn’t want an early night anyway.

beautiful sunset english channel ile de chausey granville manche normandy france eric hallBut now everything is all done and way later than I intended, I’m ready for bed.

Tomorrow I have the doctor’s appointment at 10:00 and then I’m off to the shops. There’s quite a bit of stuff that I need. And so I hope that LIDL isn’t going to have a heart attack if I have the need to take a photo or two.

That is – if I’m awake in time because I was hoping to be in bed much earlier than this.

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?

Wednesday 25th March 2020 – ANOTHER DAY STUCK …

… here in quarantine, slowly getting on my own nerves. I’m not sure how people are coping with being quarantined together and not being able to get away from each other.

But for my part, I had a struggle to get away from my bed this morning. It wasn’t late when I went to bed, but later than I imagined. I slept right through (nothing on the dictaphone) until the morning, dozing through the first two alarms and sitting bolt-upright for some reason about 30 seconds before the third call.

Anyway, I was sitting with my feet on the floor and a tee-shirt in my hand when the alarm went off so I reckon that I had just about won that.

After the medication and with nothing on the dictaphone I made a start on the digitalising of my record collection. I wasn’t able to find any complete soundfiles so I had to work track by track and that took hours to do (with a break for breakfast of course).

Just for a change, there wasn’t anything of any great importance on anything that I recorded this morning. It’s just another 4 albums out of the way all done and finished. But I did have a sneak preview and in a couple of days there will be some really good stuff coming up.

One thing about having visitors is that it makes me get down to doing some tidying up. I know that Neitzsche said “out of chaos comes order” but Neitzche had never visited anywhere where I have ever lived.

It took me a good half hour to clean up, vacuum the floor and put stuff away. And now it sort-of looks as if someone lives here. It won’t last very long like that but at least when the nurse came round it was looking ok.

He took my blood sample – with much difficulty as regular readers of this rubbish will recall – and now I have little patches of white plaster all over the place.

He’ll send the blood to the laboratory for examination and they’ll send me a report. I know what figures to look out for and if there’s a problem I’ll contact my doctor.

buoy english channel brehal plage granville manche normandy france eric hallDespite the quarantine regulations I still need my daily bread so I went off into town.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we’ve seen on several occasions these mysterious buoys that keep on appearing and then disappearing offshore.

Despite all of my enquiries I’ve never yet managed to find out to what they relate. My best guess is that it’s do do with fishing nets or lobster pots but I really have no idea.

charles marie port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallAnd it looks as if Charles Marie isn’t going to be around for much longer.

My route this morning went round the headland and down past the chantier navale. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we have seen them tearing huge lumps out of her bulwarks but the last few days when I’ve not been out have seen them replace much of the wood that was removed.

With no distractions to worry them, they’ve been able to crack on with the work.

le soupape port de granville harbour manche normandy france eric hallOther people have been cracking on with work too, taking advantage the enforced hibernation.

With the tide being out, the harbour gates were closed so I could walk across the path on top and over to the other side.

And a couple of people were busy working. The trawler Soupape had had all of its winching gear dismantled and it has all been repainted just recently.

And one of the crew had the wire rope out on the quay and was oiling it and giving it a good servicing. I suppose that they need to keep busy and fixing the fishing gear is one good way to go about it.

There were only a handful of people out and about in town today. It didn’t take long to pick up my dejeunette and I came straight back here. One of my neighbours stuck his head out of his window for a quick chat and one of the women went past and joined in – at a distance.

After lunch I pressed on.

Despite a good crash-out which disrupted my flow, I finished Project 034 and also Project 029 – the live concert for May. They aren’t as I would like them to be because the times are somewhat awkward. I ended up running short on both of them so I had to dictate some more, edit it and merge it in.

Then it was too long so I had to edit some more out, so it was then too short, so I had to add some more back. I’m sure that you get the picture. I could have been there even now but I ended up settling for what I had because it was by now 18:00 and when I’m knocking off these days.

All I need now to catch up is a live concert for June but there’s always something in the pipeline.

There was the customary half-hour on the 6-string and then half an hour on the bass – the acoustic 4-string. And I spent some of the time working out a bass line to Green Day’s “Boulevard Of Broken Dreams” – a song that has a certain significance for me and for someone who, for a certain short moment, was very special to me and who still would be, given half a chance.

As Kris Kristofferson once wrote, “I’d give all my tomorrows for a single yesterday” and that’s a song that appeared on my playlist out of nowhere one evening back then and has remained there ever since.

Still, I mustn’t start to become all broody. What will be will be. I went and had tea instead.

Burger on a bap tonight with jacket potatoes and veg. Plenty of mustard on the bap and that gave it a certain je ne sais quoi. A slice of jam pie with vegan caramel ice cream and chocolate sauce for pudding and that was totally delicious too.

sunset english channel granville manche normandy france eric hallThis photo might not look like much but it’s extremely interesting nevertheless.

20:30 when I went out for my evening walk and away down the English Channel there was still a touch of light in the sky. The nights are getting shorter which is good news. Summer will soon be here.

But the question that needs to be asked is “will we?”.

There were my usual two runs this evening. along the north side of the city walls and then the second one across the square Maurice Marland and half a dozen steps up the second ramp

candle in window rue notre dame granville manche normandy france eric hallBut here’s a thing.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall Minette, the old long-haired black cat that sometimes waits for me to let me stroke her.

That’s the windowsill where she normally waits, but she’s not there tonight (which isn’t unusual) but the candle that’s burning there in her place doesn’t look very ppromising. I hope that she’s ok and that nothing has happened to her.

So I’ve had a slow evening listening to music and having to reconfigure my web server so that I could upload my images tonight. I seem to wasting time on such unimportant trivialities right now.

So tomorrow and Friday I’ll deal with the peche à pied radio programme that we recorded and which needs editing because on Friday evening I’m expecting a few audio diaries from various people and that’s my weekend task. They have to be edited and ready for Monday morning because our programme is going out on Tuesday late afternoon.

So I reckon that I’ll have another early night and get myself fighting fit. Fighting for breath and fit to drop, I reckon.

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.