Tag Archives: fritkot

Friday 17th December 2021 – THAT WAS HORRIBLE

Thy injected me with some kind of radioactive material, and then added a tracer to it. This material stimulated my heart and it becan to beat quite rapidly.

And while all of this was going on that had all kinds of leads attached to me monitoring my stress levels.

After about 20 minutes of this, they put me in a waiting room for half an hour and then fed me through one of these Stargate time-tunnel things for 10 minutes.

Having done that, they then threw me out saying that “we’ll be in touch”.

They didn’t actually throw me out of the hospital though. I only made it as far as the corridor where I had to sit for a while and gather my strength

And I bet that I’ll be glowing in the dark for a few weeks after all of this.

Considering that I had to leave my bed at 06:15, I thought that all of this was rather excessive.

At least the walk to the hospital was rather easier seeing as I didn’t have anything to carry. But it was a strange walk up there in the thick fog that was hanging around everywhere. And even though it was extremely cold I was sweating like a pig. I seem to be pretty hot stuff these days.

On the way home I called at the Origin’O health food shop for some vegan sausages and some seitan slices, and then to the Delhaize for some more banana drink.

This afternoon I alternated between fighting off sleep and choosing the music for the next series of radio programmes. I’m doing my best to get well ahead, for obvious reasons.

There was the disctaphone too. There had been all kinds of adventures taking place on the final day of our trip on THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR when a couple of cruise ships docked at the same place and everyone went ashore to wait for the tide to sail out for their big ships home. We were having all kinds of games in the snow and everything but I can’t remember anything about them now

Later on I was getting ready to go on my holidays and wanted to borrow a roof rack for Caliburn. I noticed that last year I borrowed on and it turned out that I’d borrowed it from Anne-Marie so I telephoned her to see if it was available but it wasn’t now because she was married and it was on the roof of her husband’s car. Ahh well, fair enough. We had a little chat and apparently she was having Monday off work and they were going to look at a new house at Mount Pleasant in Winsford – not a new house but new to them. We had quite a little chat.

Tea tonight was a bag of chips from the fritkot across the road and some baked beans with a couple of the sausages, just for a change.

Now I’m going to do some packing and then go to bed. There’s an alarm call set for 05:00 because I’ll be on my way home.

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 20th May 2021 – FOR THE FIRST TIME …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday 25th February 2021 – YESTERDAY I MENTIONED …

roadworks monseigneur van waeyeberglaan leuven belgium Eric Hall… the slow pace of work at which they bare rebuilding that house in the Dekentraat.

And you won’t be surprised to learn that it’s not just in the Dekenstraat that they are taking their time. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that over the last 18 months or so we’ve been following the trail of several other renovations and repairs that have been undertaken in the town, such as the laying of the new sewer in the Monseigneur Van Waeyeberglaan.

Here, they have been dragging their heels over this work for all this time without the slightest hint of urgency and they are still miles away from finishing it off.

parking sint jacobsplein leuven belgium Eric HallEven before they started over there, they had dug a huge hole in the car park in the Sint Jacobsplein.

That looked as if it was having a storm overflow tank installed there and while they might have installed it and surfaced it over, it’s still fenced off and being used as a builders’ store for all of the materials and machinery for the site.

It’ll remain like that, I reckon, until everything else is done, whenever that might be. I don’t know about you but I’m not holding my breath.

This morning it was rather difficult for me to haul myself out of bed. But then that’s always the case after my journey here. It takes rather a lot out of me, all of this travelling.

After the medicine, I had a listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night.

Last night I had been out in VBH, my yellow Cortina, and I was following someone who might have been in a Volvo. They were doing all kinds of tricks. We came to a junction where a road came in from the left hand side and there was a police car, a Rover SD1 there waiting to pull out. He was going to turn to the right so we were going to go past him. I didn’t realise that I didn’t have my seat belt on and there wasn’t much that I could do about that. As we went past I saw him change his indicator over from the right to the left and he pulled out behind us to follow us so I slid into my seat belt with the idea of clipping it on at a certain moment. While I was distracted the car in front slammed on his brakes for no good purpose whatsoever. I didn’t realise and VBH went straight into the back of this Volvo whatever it was with an almighty thud. Of course the police were there so I told them basically what happened. They had a look and they were certain that VBH was going to be scrapped. They pointed to the left hand side and the sill. The whole sill and inner sill had broken away from the rest of the body and was waving around. i said “I can weld that” but they were quite insistent that this was scrap.

Later on we were doing some building work in an attic somewhere. We were demolishing part of the wall and going to enlarge it because there were two rooms in the attic. I didn’t know where it was going because the alarm went off in the middle and awoke me. There was rotten wood that we were ripping out and someone had built a beam out of bricks would you believe and you could see that that was sagging away from what it was supposed to be supporting. There was about a 3 inch gap and I was convinced that there hadn’t been a gap until we started moving around in the attic. I was wondering if this meant that the attic was unstable and that the work that we were going to be doing was wasted.

This morning I was a very busy boy. What I did was to choose the music for three radio programmes that I’ll be preparing in the future. I might have completed them even quicker except that, once more, one of the plug-ins that I need for certain files isn’t uploaded onto this machine.

That was the case with one of the other laptops but seeing as I shall be keeping this one going for a while, I tracked down the missing plug-in, downloaded it and configured it. And all of that took longer than it might otherwise have done too.

Round about 11:30 I knocked off for a shower and a clothes-washing session and then made my sandwiches. And then off to Castle Anthrax.

demolition sint pieters brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric HallOn the way through the town passed by the site of the old Sint Pieters Hospital that never was.

In the past, I’ve talked … “at great length” – ed … about this building and its history, in particular how it became surplus to requirements before it was even properly commissioned And after many years of standing almost empty, they are now finally demolishing it

They have bulldozers and cranes all over the building dismantling it, but they are really taking their time bringing it down. As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I’d have used dynamite and brought it down accordingly. Just a couple of days’ work and maybe a month of cleaning up the debris rather than spending a couple of years at it and still not getting very far.

roadworks biezenstraat leuven belgium Eric HallSint Jacobs Kerk was locked up so I couldn’t see inside today so I wandered off to check on the laying of the main sewer.

There has been some little progress on the end of the sewer at the Biezenstraat. They’ve battered down the road surface and put in the kerb stones that go down to the Kapicijnenvoer. And you can actually react the Frittoerist now without going through any complicated manoeuvres too. A fritkot in Belgium with restricted access is a Belgian person’s idea of purgatory.

The next stage for the road will be the tipping of gravel, but as to when that may be, that could be anyone’s guess.

roadworks sint hubertusstraat leuven belgium Eric HallFrom here I have to walk along the Sint Hubertusstraat and then up the hill in the Monseigneur van Waeyenberglaan to the hospital.

The St Hubertuslaan hasn’t changed all that much in the last four weeks either. There was no-one working down at this end either but if we look in the distance halfway up the Monseigneur van Waeyenberglaan we can see a pile of diggers and other machinery working away.

And as I went past, I counted a grand total of 8 workmen doing all of this. No wonder it seems to be taking them all so long to make much progress.

At the hospital, I had a stroke of luck. When I first came here 5 years ago, they gave me a car park pass, for which I had to pay a €50:00 deposit. At various times I’d found the card but not the receipt or else the receipt but not the card. But while I was sorting out a few things back at home I’d managed to lay my hands on them both.

So seeing as I arrived early at the hospital I went to the Cashier’s office and handed them back – and recovered my €50:00 deposit. Spend, spend, spend, hey?

Everything ended up running terribly late in the hospital. They wouldn’t treat me until I’d had a Covid test so I ended up having another Q-tip shoved up my nose (which is one of the most horrible things that I could imagine) and then I had to sit around and wait for half an hour while they examined it.

So on finding out that I’m not Covid-positive (and that I’m no pregnant too – it’s amazing what they can find out with a Covid test) they could actually treat me. And eat my lunch too – at 15:00 now that I was plugged in and switched on.

When they threw me out I nipped round to the Chemists and stocked up with medication. Owing to some kind of confusion I’d been given two prescriptions for my monthly supply, and knowing the confusion that arrives when I try to obtain a large supply to take with me on a North American voyage, I took full advantage.

roadworks monseigneur van waeyeberglaan leuven belgium Eric HallOn the way back down into town I could take a photo of the roadworks at the top end of the Monseigneur van Waeyenberglaan.

On the way up, it had been a glorious, hot, sunny day and I had been sweltering as I walked to the hospital. I’d felt rather silly walking up there in my large jacket while some folk were wandering around in shorts and tee-shirts.

But by the time that had thrown me out of the hospital it had clouded over quite dramatically, tte temperature had dropped considerably and the sun was no longer in my eyes at this viewpoint.

demolition sint rafael kapucijnenvoer leuven belgium Eric HallWe’ve seen them knocking down the front end of the Sint Pieter’s Hospital. Down in the Kapicijnenvoer we can see the work that’s going on at the rear of the premises.

The site has been cleared and they’ve now erected a couple of tower cranes in position so it seems that redevelopment of the site is under way. It will be interesting to see what they are going to be building there, with cranes like that. I suppose that in another 100 years we shall find out.

Alison was waiting for me in the town centre so I hurried along there. It’s good to see her again and hear all of her exciting news. There’s quite a lot going on.

crowds sint donatus park leuven belgium Eric HallWith it being a beautiful evening for being out and about, especially for a February night, we went for a nce long walk around the town.

There were crowds of people out there tonight too, taking the air. I’ve no idea what was happening but the Sint Donatus Park just outside the city centre was bursting to the seams with people out there picnicking.

The Sint Donatus park is one that we have visited on several occasions. Apart from all of the water features, it also contains vestiges of the old medieval city walls, but we aren’t going to see them tonight, not in the dark anyway.

crowds sint donatus park leuven belgium Eric HallIn the centre of the park is a kind of bowl or amphitheatre and this was crowded with people. You could hear the noise from a couple of hundred metres away.

There were several policemen patrolling this part of the park and I have to say that they were taking absolutely no notice whatever of the social distancing, or lack thereof, of the people congregating here.

There is one thing that I can say about this is that as long as I can hold out until early April when I (hopefully) will have had my second anti-virus injection, then these people can congregate as much as they like. Darwin will take care of them and we’ll have a much wiser, healthier population remaining when the pandemic has passed, if it ever does.

ramberg leuven belgium Eric HallAlison and I continued our wander around. Down the steep hill in the Ramberg to where it joins up to the Naamsestraat and walked back to her car.

We both came back here and had a coffee (seeing as all of the cafes are closed) and another long chat.

After she went home I sat down to type out today’s notes but I fell asleep halfway through. It’s always pretty exhausting having my medical treatment and walking around doing … errr … 136% of my daily target of exercise contributes quite a lot to that. So when I awoke I simply hauled myself off to bed and I’ll finish the rest in the morning.

Friday 30th October 2020 – OUCH!

gare du nord paris France Eric HallThat was an expensive day today!

So while you admire a few more photos of the outside of the Gare du Nord in Paris before they start on any redevelopment, you’ve probably gathered that I’ve been on the move today.

What with France going into lockdown, and the word on the streets (thanks, Alison) suggesting that Belgium might be following suit imminently, I reckoned that if I don’t go to Belgium right I won’t ever go at all

Hence my frantic rush around yesterday to change all of my tickets and organise all of my paperwork ready to travel this morning while I still can.

gare du nord paris France Eric HallMuch to my surprise this morning, I was very very close to beating the second alarm, never mind the third alarm. That’s progress, and it goes to show that I can do it when I really try.

Pleny of stuff on the dictphone too, as I was to discover when I had a listen to it later. I must have travelled quite far during the night.

I was with Mike and Jerry and all of that lot. We were doing something in he mountains. There was a catalogue that I was thumbing through, trying to get ideas for Christmas presents and I got to this illuminated map of the far north of Canada and the entrance to the North West Passage round by Bellot Strait, that area round there. It was a crystal, cut-glass etching upright on a plinth. I thought that that was wonderful so I said to Jerry “here’s what I’m going to get for you for your Christmas”. They all came over and were all poring over this and having a good look at it, working out where they could go to get one, all this kind of thing; It was powered by an old mobile phone thing that you plugged into it bit it really was something impressive

Later on there was something else going on about a girl and boy. They were staying in my apartment. The girl was asleep in bed and all this time this boy was sitting by her, looking at her, making sure that she didn’t fall out, something like that. When she awoke it developed into a kind-of romantic scene between the 2 of them. I was rather disappointed that she’d decided on him but I thought that they would make a very nice couple anyway so I wasn’t particularly bothered by it. Somawhere along the line we were working out some kind of calculations for something or other. I remember saying that we had to add two on for something, but then thinking that there was a load of other little things, fixtures and fittings, tha kind of thing.They would all need costing into this as well. I didn’t really know how much they were going to be and this was going to confuse the issue a lot

This morning, I finished off the packing, took the rubbish out, washed the bins, did some tidying up vacuuming, and even washed the floor round by where the kitchen is, to make sure that everything is clean and tidy for when I come back.

Having fed the sourdough and put it in the fridge, I bleached all of the drain outlets and then hit the streets.

neptune port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallThis morning proved that I had been right about something.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that a few days ago we saw piles of roadstone gravel being delivered and I predicted that very soon we would be having one of the gravel boats in shortly to take it all away.

And sure enough, as I headed down the Rue des Juifs into town, I glanced over the wall and there moored at the quayside is Neptune, one of the three or four that come in here every now and again.

When I first came here, there was one in the port every month or two, but this is the first since March and before that it was almost exactly 12 months ago. I was beginning to despair of ever seeing one again.

84569 GEC Alstom Regiolis Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallFor a change, I followed the road along the Boulevard Louis Dior and through the car park of the regional offices of the département, that way to the railway station.

The coffee machine was once again out of order and he train wasn’t in either which meant that we had to wait around on a windswept platform until it finally arrived. Another one of our usual GEC Alstom Regiolis multiple unit.

Just a one-unit train today instead of the usual 2-unit ones, and even so, there was still plenty of room for us to spread out. I had a seat all to myself and spent most of the journey copying files from a portable drive onto the little Acer laptop.

Bang on time in Paris. probably a little early in fact as we had to wait for 5 minutes for a slot to get into the station. Not many people in the Metro either – in fact there was only one person in the queue for Metro tickets at the Gare du Nord so I went and bought another pack of 10.

gare du nord paris France Eric HallNot that I need them yet but usually there’s a queue a mile long and I’m always pushed for time when I need to buy some more, so I may as well get ahead while I can.

There was half an hour before my rain was due to depart so I went outside to take a few more photos of the exterior. As there are plans for the redevelopment of the station, I wanted to make some kind of record of how it looks.

It will be a big shame if they do any damage to the main train shed; It’s a wonderful example of 19th Century railway architecture.

TGV Duplex Inoui 207 Paris Gare du Nord France Eric HallBy now it was time for me to go back into the station and see about my own train.

Much to my surprise, they had already started boarding. That’s not like them at all. Usually it’s 15 minutes prior to departure and not a minute before. And so I quickly took a photograph of our train – one of the TGV “Duplex” double-decker train sets.

Then on to the platform through the electronic gates that check your ticket, and how I wish that they would install them at Lille Europe, for reasons that you will soon find out.

TGV Duplex Inoui 215 Paris Gare du Nord France Eric HallThis is a double train-set and of course, my seat is in the second unit. Right down the end of the train too in the wagon just behind he driving unit. At least it means that I don’t have to walk far at the other end of the journey.

And despite it being a double train-set, i was pretty empty too. Lockdown is clearly working in France and potentially in Belgium and very few people seem to be travelling about.

The journey was pretty uneventful and we arrive in Lille Flanders on time as well. I’m not used to this at all. And then there was the usual inconvenient walk down the road to Lille Europe to catch the train from Montpelier to Brussels.

TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt 4512 gare du midi brussels belgium Eric HallThere was only a wait of about 10 minutes before the train came in so we were soon on our way.

And herein lies the problem.

When I went to the railway station at Granville to change my ticket from Saturday to today, the booking clerk typed out the details and handed me the ticket. And like a fool, I didn’t check it.

When the ticket collector checked it, he noticed that instead of 14:45 she had typed 15:54, and so of course it wasn’t valid for the train that I was on. After quite an argument and despite using my best persuasive powers I was still stuck with a penalty fare of €70:00.

And serves me right for my awn stupidity.

multiple unit sncb am80 automotrice gare du midi brussels belgium Eric HallOnce again, there wasn’t long to wait in Brussels for my train to Leuven.

and to my dismay it was one of the ancient, elderly AM80 multiple units. These machines are on their last legs, with old vinyl seats and linoleum floors, and covered in graffiti inside and out. Not a very good advert for the Belgian railway system I imagine that they will be the next batch of machines to be replaced.

Within an hour I’d arrived at Leuven, walked down to the Dekenstraat, picked up my keys and installed myself in my room. Another upgrade this time – business must be quiet.

Later on I went to Delhaize for my shopping where amongst other things I bought a tin of baked beans. That was because the fritkot down the road was open, so tea tonight was chips and beans. Delicious.

Tomorrow I’m having a lie-in. I’ve done enough these last few days so a rest willdo me good. I hope that no-one comes along to spoil it.

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.

Saturday 15th August 2020 – I’VE DONE SOMETHING …

… today that I haven’t done since 2005. And this time even more so because while back then it cost me nothing, this time it’s cost me a lot of money.

But ask me if I care.

What I’ve done is to walk away from a hotel that I had booked for tonight and went somewhere else (far more expensive).

But more of this later. Last night I had a strange sleep – waking up at about 00:45 to find that the radio was playing. And then sleeping through until about 05:45 without moving. Not a single nocturnal voyage anyqhere to be seen

Plenty of time to do a load of paperwork and then I went down to breakfast. Unfortunately I wasn’t feeling too well so I didn’t eat much which was a shame because there was tons of stuff there. It could have been an outstanding breakfast.

Unfortunately Jackie wasn’t available but Alison was free today as well as tomorrow so we agreed to meet up this afternoon.

Dodging the roadworks and the heavy showers, I set off for Leuven.

Friterie Marsupilami Route de Marche, 6600 Bastogne, Belgium eric hallThe Lady Who Lives In The SatNav brought me all the way through Luxembourg, where I fuelled up before crossing the Belgian border (fuel at €0:97/litre) and the Ardennes, passing through the town of Bastogne where I stopped to take a photo of another abandoned bus

It’s an old “bendy bus”, one of the articulated buses and judging by its number plate it comes from the town of Rotenburg in Lower Saxony but it’s now the Friterie Marsupilami, the FritKot on the Edge of Town.

There’s a fritkot on almost every corner in Belgium and this is certainly one of the more interesting ones. It’s closed though so I couldn’t find out what it was like.

It took me a good while to find Alison’s house – The Lady Who Lives In The SatNav having brought me into town in entirely the wrong direction. It was a nice afternon so we went to the English shop for a supplies such as vegan ice cream.

herons Kasteel van Leefdaal belgium eric hallLater on we went for a walk. We discovered a new footpath that eventually took us past the Kasteel van Leefdaal.

Here we could admire the wildlife swimming on one of the many ponds – mostly man-made ponds – around there

Not that I would want to go swimming on a pond like that. There’s that much algae floating aound on top that you could probably walk on it – or, at least, someone lighter than me could. I must keep on with the battle to keep my weight down.

swans Kasteel van Leefdaal belgium eric hallThe Chateau isn’t open to the public unfortunately and it’s hidden behind a rather large wall so you can’t actually see very much of it.

Currently owned by the Counts of Liedekerke it dates from the Renaissance period and replaced a previous building. There is known to have been a building on the site since at least the 12th Century.

Armed with our vegan ice cream, we then went back to Alison’s house for a chat. We must be both getting old because we ended up crashing out in the garden in the sun, something that we found quite amusing, although in fact it was a rather sad indictment of our states of health these days.

Alison had to go out later so I set off through one of the most wicked rainstorms that I have ever encountered. All of the road round by Braine l’Alleud was flooded and the traffic lights at a road junction had failed. That led to certain complications until we all managed to sort ourselves out.

strawberry moose silly belgium eric hallAs well as having A FAVOURITE TOWN IN AUSTRIA Strawberry Moose also has a favourite town in Belgium.

It goes without saying that as we were passing within a mile or two of the place, we had to go there. His Nibs is never one to pass up on a photo opportunity whenever he gets the chance, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall.

Having done that, we headed off down to peruwelz on the Belgian – French border and my hotel. But one look at it convinced me that this was not where I wanted to stay. Crowds of single men loitering outside, sitting on the steps or leaning against the wall. Crowds of them.

It’s the kind pf place that gave me a most uneasy, eerie feeling that I can’t explain. But always having been one to rely on my own intuition, I decided that it wasn’t the place for me so I went elsewhere.

Tea tonight was a plate of chips and a salad, and watching the people coming into the fritkot, I can see immediately why the infection rate in Belgium is so high. Despite all of the precautions that are supposed to be taken, the wearing of masks is, shall we say, rather casual.

And the roads in Belgium are appalling. They are much worse that I ever remembered them. They are just like in a third-world country and for one of the richest countries in the world, it’s an embarrassment.

Tomorrow I won’t have far to go on Belgian roads because I’m close to the frontier here. About a kilometre away, I reckon.

With any luck I’ll be over the border early tomorrow and then a leisurely drive home. It might take a couple of days to make it but I’ll be back by the middle of the week. It’s been a long time

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.

Saturday 4th January 2020 – HERE I AM …

… back home again after my mega-day out on yet another coach outing.

And mega-day out it was too. With a somewhat late night, I was in no mood to leave the bed at … errr … 05:30 this morning, but needs must when the devil drives, although it took me a while to come to terms with the time.

No time for breakfast. Just enough time to throw something in a rucksack to nibble on, to make some butties from lunch, grab my equipment and head out of the door.

us granvillaise football supporters stade louis dior granville manche normandy france eric hallWe had to present ourselves at the Stade Louis Dior at 07:00. I surprised myself by being there at 06:50

There were only a couple of the “Neva” buses – the buses that provide the public transport around the town – at the stadium so I was anticipating a hard ride all the way to Versailles.

But while I was waiting, I buttonholed the guy who beats the big plastic oil drum at the football matches and asked him a few questions about things.

autocars lemare coaches donville les bains us granvillaise football supporters  granville manche normandy fc versailles 78 Stade de Montbauron, Versailles  france eric hallIt seems that my fears about the transport were unnecessary.

About 5 minutes after I arrived, so did the real transport. Autocars Lemare from down the road at Donville-les-Bains had been engaged and sent along three of their Van Hool executive coaches.

For a change, I drew a good number. A seat on the upper deck of an almost-new double decker. It’s been quite a while since I’ve travelled in such luxury, I’ll tell you that.

Even more surprisingly, we set off bang on 07:30 as advertised. It’s the first time that that’s ever happened.

The first part of the journey was in the dark and it wasn’t safe to move about, so I caught up with my beauty sleep for an hour or so. But once the light came up and I could see what I was doing, I set to work.

Having made an executive decision (that is, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, a decision that if it goes wrong, the person doing it is executed) to lead from the front, I took the microphone and dictaphone with me and interviewed the passengers about their support for the club and their reasons for going to the match.

The dictaphone and the mike work passably in “outside broadcast” situations at the budget end of the scale in which we work, and I can make quite presentable “outside broadcast” radio programmes with the computer. So I’m going to make one – not about the match itself because by the time I will have finished it, it will be old news, but about the supporters.

My own personal opinion is that the club ought to do more to encourage supporters to travel to “away” matches and so having a captive audience to work with, I might make something that will knock on a few doors.

us granvillaise football supporters  granville manche normandy fc versailles 78 Stade de Montbauron, Versailles france eric hallHaving stopped on the way up for a coffee, we arrived at the Stade de Montbauron in Versailles at just after 11:30, for a 13:00 kick-off.

We had to loiter around for a while. They were only letting us into the ground a handful at a tme so as not to cause congestion. That gave me an opportunity to chat to a few more passengers off the other buses.

But the real reason for loitering soon became apparent. Where we were to be standing was actually outside the perimeter of the ground and they wanted to have the opportunity of checking our tickets and our baggage without being overwhelmed in a flood of people.

us granvillaise football supporters  granville manche normandy fc versailles 78 Stade de Montbauron, Versailles  france eric hallStill an hour or so before kick-off and that gave me an opportunity to have a walk around and a look at what was going on.

First thing to do was to eye up the “opposition”. There were about four TV cameras (and maybe more) in the ground and they had a Mercedes Vito van that was kitted out as a mobile control centre.

What wouldn’t I give for something like this? Perhaps I ought to convert Caliburn.

As a treat, I found a bag of chips for myself and eventually managed to track down the stadium’s announcer who let me have a minute of his valuable time by telling me something of his club.

us granvillaise football supporters  granville manche normandy fc versailles 78 Stade de Montbauron, Versailles  france eric hallThe Stade de Montbauron is another one of these one-sided wonders.

There’s a large concrete stand that could accommodate several thousand people and a large standing area in front of it. The “town end” and the far side are effectively inaccessible and the fourth end is a row of concrete steps that are quite uncomfortable to sit on, and in the open air.

My instincts were telling me that this wouldn’t be a nice place to be in the middle of January in a freezing cold rainstorm.

us granvillaise football supporters  granville manche normandy fc versailles 78 Stade de Montbauron, Versailles  france eric hallBefore the kick-off, I’d spoken to one of the crowd control people from FC Versailles 78.

He told me that they were expecting a crowd of maybe just over a thousand, of which 300 were from Granville. I’d heard this “300” figure from elsewhere but I suspected this to be somewhat optimistic.

But no matter how many there were, they were making far more noise than the home side and that’s what counts.

us granvillaise football supporters  granville manche normandy fc versailles 78 Stade de Montbauron, Versailles  france eric hallAs for the match itself, I’m left shaking my head about this one.

For the first 25 minutes or so FC Versailles 78 were like a runaway train as they smashed their way into the Granville defence. I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times in that period when Granville had the ball in the Versailles half.

In fact, I was fearing the worst.

And that’s no surprise because after 14 minutes, they were 1-0 ahead.

Yet another break into the Granville penalty area. A Versailles player in a marvellous position to shoot when a desperate last-ditch sliding tackle robs him of the ball.

The ball bobbles up, hits the Versailles player and bounces back into the Granville defender and hits him – on the arm.

No doubt about it – definitely a penalty within the Laws of the Game. But how unlucky can you be?

For the penalty, the Granville goalkeeper dived to the right, only to be outdone by a beautiful “Panenka” penalty right down the middle.

After 25 minutes, a most astonishing thing happened.

Granville, who up to that moment had been totally anonymous and had barely troubled the linesman down at that end, suddenly came to life.

Lambarette picked up a loose ball in his own area and set off at a hell of a pace down the field on one of the mazy runs that he does and which usually lead nowhere.

But this time, he had half a yard on everyone else and was clear down the field. As the Versailles keeper came out to challenge him, he simply tried a delightful lob right over the keeper and the ball went into the Versailles net for the equaliser.

By my reckoning, that was Granville’s first shot on goal.

The second half started as the first half, with Versailles throwing everything including the kitchen sink at Granville’s defence but Granville stood firm.

Granville’s response was just a whole series of aimless hoofs upfield in the general direction of Ibaye but usually going nowhere near him.

One of Granville’s midfielders I had particularly noticed because up until that moment he had done nothing at all and as a substitute was warming up on the touchline, my money was on him coming off.

But right at that moment as I was musing on the subject, one of these aimless hoofs suddenly landed at his feet. A little bit of trickery found him free of two defenders and one-on-one with the keeper. The keeper went down far too early so the Granville midfielder simply rounded him and tapped the ball in the empty net.

Granville in front? I don’t think that anyone could believe it from the way that the match had been going to that point.

Late in the game Ibaye was replaced and William Sea came on to go upfront. He’s an ex-professional from the Premier League but had a lot of time out with injury and came to Granville to try to rehabilitate himself.

He’s not done much to date, which is probably not a surprise given how long he’s been out, but he’s big and strong and knows the game. Within about 30 seconds of his entry onto the field he had left his mark on both the Versailles centre-halves, and I do actually mean that.

Granville’s forward line definitely became much more lively and purposeful with him up front. It’s one thing that the club has been lacking – a big bruiser up front, and if ever he recovers even half his form he’ll be a handful for any defence at this level.

us granvillaise football supporters  granville manche normandy fc versailles 78 Stade de Montbauron, Versailles  france eric hallSo the final whistle went and Granville had surprisingly won it. No-one would have given any sort of odds whatever on that result after 20 minutes.

The players came down to see the supporters afterwards to thank them for turning up. There’s no doubt about it – the noise that the fans had made throughout the game had been impressive.

The FC Versailles 78 fans left the ground shaking their heads in disbelief, and who can blame them?

us granvillaise football supporters  granville manche normandy fc versailles 78 Stade de Montbauron, Versailles  france eric hallMy work was not over though.

With microphone and dictaphone in hand, I went amongst the crowd and asked several of them their thoughts.

One thing that is important is that I like to engage the youth in any activity like this because youth are the future. So I talked to several kids as well as adults. There were three girls aged about 12 or 13 who I’d seen at every Granville match and who usually chatted away to everyone about anyone and anything.

And they were great, until I produced the microphone. They suddenly dried up and you couldn’t get a word out of them. We saw that phenomenon with one of the girls from Uummannaq the other week.

On the other hand, a boy and a girl aged about 9 could have talked all night to me without the slightest air of self-consciousness and that will be some really good radio if it works.

Having had a bad night, I had a sleep for an hour or so on the way back, but a coffee at a motorway service area awoke me.

So now I’m back home. Tea was out of a tin and seeing as I made almost 110% of my daily activity I didn’t go for a walk tonight.

What I’ll do is have a lie in tomorrow and then try my best to finish the Bain des Manchots. I want that out of the way so that I can do this football supporters’ programme.

There’s this feelign in the back of my mind that for the next foreseeable future i’m going to be up against it.

Saturday 16th November 2019 – I’VE HAD A …

… nice day today in the company of some very pleasant people. As I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … I don’t have too many friends, but those I have are the best in the world.

Last night was something of a late night. But with having set the alarm to a much more realistic 08:30 I wasn’t all that concerned.

Plenty of time to go on a little voyage or two and having been joined on a few nocturnal rambles over the past few nights by some pretty bizarre characters from my distant past, last night was probably the most bizarre of all to date. Mandy Crane was there last night, and that was a surprise wasn’t it, after something like 45 years since I last wasted a moment thinking about her, and we were talking about something – I dunno. It occurred to me that she had been round to see me quite a lot and I was wondering whether she was waiting for me to make some kind of advances to her. But on one occasion when I turned my back to her she put her arms around me and we started to chat. But it became pretty weird and even in my dream I was thinking that I couldn’t imagine why she would come around at this stage
And later on I was back in my pawn shop last night. There were three people, two brothers and a woman, who ran it. Each had their own special area of management control of the situation and I was going through who did what (the woman was the admin person and I can’t now remember what the speciality of each brother was) and all the files of the people had different coloured tags (like Government “BF tags”) to tell them what the arrangements were, about people, why people were involved in this particular pawn shop – one colour of tag for this, one colour of tag for that – but before I got too far into this dream I awoke.

That was at about 06:09 but no danger of my leaving my stinking pit at that time. I turned over and went back to sleep until about 0:30. That’s more like it so I left the bed just in time to beat the alarm.

After medication I had a few things to do to keep me out of mischief so just for a change I applied myself to them.

town tourist train leuven belgiumAt about 11:15 I left my room and headed up to the railway station, thinking to myself that I remembered that I had somehow managed to forget to have breakfast this morning.

So engrossed was I in this thought that I was nearly squidged by the town’s little tourist train as I crossed the road. And I do have to say that I don’t remember having seen this before.

That’s another job for me then – to sift through my photos to see whether it’s featured before.

Jackie’s train was bang on time and it was nice to see her after all this time. Alison hadn’t made it to the station so I sent here a message to say where we were and we went to the cafe over the road to wait.

With no reply from her, I rang her up, to find that she hadn’t received it (she received it about an hour later) so we headed off into town to meet up.

First stop was the wool shop. Alison is a knitter and so is Jackie, so they spent a good while browsing through the products on offer there. Nerina was a knitter to so I’m quite used to this sort of behaviour. It’s nothing new to me at all.

Lunch was next and, seeing as we are in Belgium, a fritkot was an obvious choice. We headed to the Ali Baba around the corner and while they tucked into a meal I had a plate of fritjes with looksaus.

We were in there for hours chatting about all sorts of things and then we headed off for some fresh air.

It was for about a year or so that I lived in Leuven and I’d walked for miles around the city, so I thought that I knew it pretty well.

hollands college pater damiaanplein leuven belgiumBut that’s not the case at all because Alison took us around some areas that I didn’t know at all, like past the Father Damiaanplein (he of the lepers whom we have encountered before) with the Hollands College down at the bottom.

That’s an interesting building, dating from the 17th Century for theology students from the diocese of Haarlem in the Netherlands.

Long-since abandoned, the University took it over in 2008 and since 2011 there has been some kind of project of restoration with the aim of returning the building to its former glory.

bridge river dijle dijlepark leuven belgiumThere’s a little park – the Diljepark – just past there. Something else that I didn’t know.

It follows, as you might expect with a name like that, the River Dilje out of town. And one of the attractions was this little Japanese-style bridge over the river just here.

Unfortunately it didn’t look as if it’s in use. Or maybe fortunately because as far as anger management issues go, they have the same effect on me as do ferries. Whenever I see one it always makes me cross.

beguinage begijnhof leuven belgiumOne thing for which Leuven is very well-known is its Begijnhof – the Beguinage.

The great issue with Medieval life was the number of widows and single women. While childbirth affected quite dramatically the number of women, the incessant warfare of the period and industrial accidents had an even greater effect on the male population.

A great many women were thus left for one reason or another without a protector and the church was mainly responsible for this role.

beguinage begijnhof leuven belgiumIn Medieval Flanders I can’t thing of a single important religious city that didn’t have its Beguinage and Leuven is certainly no exception.

And so magnificent is the Begijnhof here in the city
that in 1998 it was recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage site.

Mind you, it wasn’t always like this. For a long while it was occupied as a sort-of social housing complex and there was never the money available to do anything with it.

river dilje beguinage begijnhof leuven belgiumBy the 1960s it was in a deplorable condition and so it was sold off.

The University bought it and spent a great deal of time, effort and money restoring it to its present glory. It’s now occupied as student and academic staff accommodation which is a waste because I’m certain that I wouldn’t mind a little apartment there.

It’s another place that I had never visited during my stay here.

We walked back into town and to another modern square that I had never visited. There’s a second-hand clothes shop there that the girls visited (nd Jackie bought a handbag) and a decent cafe where we went for a drink.

christmas lights mechelsestraat leuven belgiumLater on we walked back across the centre of town so that Jackie could catch her bus.

As we were passing by the end of the Mechelsestraat where I was yesterday, I happened to notice in the dark that they now seem to have switched on the Christmas lights.

“Surely it’s a bit early for that” I mused to myself. Christmas is still about 6 weeks away.

brass band the fourth grotemarkt leuven belgiumBut apparently not because in the Grote Markt we had a brass band going on, playing all kinds of Christmas music.

And the Town Hall was all lit up too. I would have taken a photo of that but the night wasn’t yet as dark as I would like it to be.

I made a mental note that when I come back later I will bring the big Nikon back with me. After all, I’d bought it with the express purpose of using it for night photography.

Back at the apartment building Jackie checked herself into her room and then we had a coffee and a chat. At 19:15 we headed back into town to meet up again with Alison.

And it was then that I realised that I had forgotten the camera.

The girls fancied an ice-cream, but all of the ice-cream parlours were closed.

Never mind. Seeing as we are in Belgium, a Belgian waffle would do them just as well. But as we got to the Belgian waffle stall, he closed up his equipment.

In the end we found a cafe that did crepes and waffles and they contented themselves with that. I had yet another portion of fritjes. Extravagant, you might think, but those two portions of chips are all that I have eaten today.

The coffee bar at Kloosters Hotel was next, but someone had pinched our usual spec by the fire so we had to sit elsewhere. We set out to solve all of the problems of the world as we normally do, but suddenly Alison noticed that it was gone 23:00 and she was in danger of turning into a pumpkin.

That was the cue for us to head back to our various destinations. Alison walked off to her car and Jackie and I came back here. Not an early night – not by any means – but quite an enjoyable one in good company.

I hope we have such a good time tomorrow.

Sunday 17th March 2019 – IT MUST BE ME!

Yes, I must be a Jonah or something like that I’ve been out to Het Stayen at St Truiden to see STVV play against AA Gent – and they lost 2-0.

This morning though, I had a nice lie-in until about 09:00 even though I might have awoken briefly at 03:45. And I’d been on my travels too. I was in Crewe somewhere last night and there was some issue over a spanner. I ended up having to chase after someone and we went all the way up Middlewich Road at Leighton and round across the top of the town to Haslington and Winterley. I ended up at some tiny Tudor house that was suffering from resettlement where there was some old woman living. I asked about the guy and she said that she’s fetch him. But by now this tiny house had developed a kind of verandah with an open wood-stove with oven pumping smoke out, smoke that was being carried out with a draught of air. Eventually the guy turned up and we discussed the spanner. He said that he needed it but he would fetch another one, and cleared off, presumably to look for one. Meanwhile a whole group of men came in to do some work and we were chatting about tools. They showed me some of their spanners – all encased in a blue kind of plastic covering and of all weird sizes like 7 3/8″ and that kind of thing. Meanwhile, after waiting for well over two hours, the guy still hadn’t turned up with a spanner and I had things to do and was wondering whether I ought to continue to wait or whether I should give it up as a bad job.
A little later on, I was running my taxi business and needed a small car to do a regular long-distance route. I ended up with a BMC 1100 ADO16 but my brother was saying that it was totally unsuitable and wouldn’t last 5 minutes on the job. What I needed was some kind of adapter for the gearbox and our father had sold him something suitable that he was wanting to sell to me. Of course, knowing my brother, I immediately smelt a rat. Meanwhile my father came in, picked up the appliance, said that this was exactly what I needed, and banged it down on the table as if to emphasise the point – only for it to shatter into a thousand pieces.

That was enough for the morning – time to rise up from Ye Stinking Pitte.

It was a very leisurely morning, as every Sunday should be. The most exciting thing that I did was to go across the road for my baguette for lunch.

And after that, I carried on doing almost nothing until 16:15, when I left for the station.

sncb class 19 electric locomotive gare st truiden belgiumNow that I’m officially a miserable old ghit, I found that I was entitled to a reduction in the rail fare.

Last time I went to St Truiden it cost me €8:20. but today, a 65+ ticket to which I’m now entitled cost me €6:80. So how about that?

As I stepped out of the train at St Truiden – a Class 19 pushme-pullyou – the heavens opened. A howling wind and really piercing hailstones lashed me all the way to Het Staaien or Het Stayen or however it’s spelt and I was drenched to the skin.

And here was some bad news. The match is a sell-out. None of the cheap €15:00 seats. There might have been some of the expensive €45:00 tickets left but as I was working my way around to the other side of the ground, someone sidled up to me.
“Do you want a ticket for the match?”
“Well, actually yes. How much?”
“Give me what you want” he replied.

So I had a look. A complimentary ticket for the directors’ box. Having made sure that it was a valid ticket and that I could really get in with it, a sum of €20:00 changed hands. Worth it to me, I reckon, even though the view wasn’t as good as it might have been.

football stvv aa gent het stayen st truiden 17 03 2019 belgiumAs for the match itself, STVV played much better than they had the last time that i saw them, and three players – Yohan Boli on the right wing and Samuel Asamoah and Daichi Kamada in midfield – particularly caught my eye.

I would have them in my team any time you like.

But the outstanding player on the field, and by a country mile too was KAA Gent’s midfielder Birger Verstraete. He’ll be in the English Premier League before too long, that’s for sure.

football stvv aa gent het stayen st truiden 17 03 2019 belgiumThe match hinged on two moments of madness. All throughout the match STVV had been playing this weird kind of suicide football on the edge of their penalty area, and I mentioned that this is all going to end in tears very shortly.

And shore enough, a suicidal under-hit backpass to the keeper was intercepted by a KAA Gent player and that was that.

In the second half, a stupid misplaced clearance out of defence was easily intercepted by the KAA Gent right-winger who took it down to the bye-line, crossed it right across the goal to the big unmarked Ukranian centre forward Roman Yaremchuk who also had a good game, and no-one should miss goals like that.

aa gent fans het stayen st truiden 17 03 2019 belgiumThe couple of thousand Gent fans were delirious for the whole of the rest of the game.

But one thing that really gets me these days – this fetish for “short corners”. Here we are, STVV one goal down, well in stoppage time of 1 minute so just a couple of seconds to go – and they win a corner.

So instead of banging it into the centre pretty quickly and hoping for the best, they play it short and before the receiving player can work out what dodo with it, the ref blows for half-time.

It’s totally senseless and pointless.

Back through the wind and rain – as far as the fritkot outside the station. Half an hour before my train so I grabbed a bad of chips and ate them in the corner of the fritkot in the warmth.

The train was packed on the way back – loads of students going back to University all dragging their cases behind them.

However I came back home and went straight to bed.

Hospital tomorrow and I need to be on form.

Friday 15th March 2019 – WHAT A HORRIBLE …

… night that was!

Even though I went to bed early, I was almost immediately stricken by a bad attack of cramp.And this went on for several hours and I was in total agony. What was even worse was that some of the attacks occurred spontaneously without even moving. I have never hurt so much in all my life.

At some point during the night I did manage to go off to sleep. And to go on a voyage too. To some kind of touristy island in the Mediterranean where there was a typical British family trying to run a bar. They were making a lot of money at it too catering for all of the Brits who went there, but there was clearly something else going on because although one side of the cashing-up briefcase was full of cash, the other side was empty and there was a very neat slit in the bottom of the case that someone had made to get into the case and take the money. In the end, they decided to move to an island just offshore where there was a vacant bar. There was some kind of festival that had taken place on there, where four people charged a bull, and then the five of them turned round and charged the rest of the people sitting at the table. They decided to revive the festival, but the first day there it was pouring down with rain and they were so dispirited that they didn’t want to open. In the end, I volunteered to go because even though there wouldn’t be any custom,the place still needed to be open. So I went upstairs to the cafe but two policemen followed me up and they fixed two white triangles in the window to indicate that the place was closed by the authorities. Apparently the new owners hadn’t applied for a licenceand they were fed up of Brits coming over and flouting all of the regulations just because they didn’t suit. All of this ended by the youngest son going off to an island off the coast of Madagascar to open something but he had been to the authorities to sort out all of the licensing issues first.

We had the usual medication and breakfast – and my porridge took longer than at home – probably due to the lesser power of the microwave here. and then I spent most of the morning catching up with some work.

street market herbert hooverplein belgiumAt lunchtime I went off down the Tiensestraat to the Delhaize in the centre of town.

My route took me round by the Herbert Hooverplein and despite all of the time that I lived here in Leuven I didn’t know about the existence of this market.

It stretches right round into the Ladeuzeplein too. It was closing down now that it’s lunch time so I’ll have to come here earlier the next time.

gilets jaunes bondgenotenlaan leuven belgiumFNAC came up with nothing either which was a shame, so I headed off down the Bondgenotenlaan.

On the other side of the road there seemed to be a gilets jaunes demonstration, but closer examination revealed that it was in fact nothing more than a group of nursery school on their way for an afternoon out.

So I left them there and went on to the Loving Hut.

And the Loving Hut was a wash-out yet again. But at Delhaize I found stuff for lunch as well as some vegan burgers, tinned vegetables and pasta sauce for tea for the next few days.

With having had a really bad night I spent most of the afternoon drifting off into a state of semi-consciousness broken only by a shower and a clothes washing session.

And then tea – and I overcooked my burger which was a shame but the rest of it was nice, especially the sorbet and pineapple.

demolition of fritkot tiensesteenweg leuven belgiumLater on, I went for a walk around the Tiensesteenweg.

The fritkot there, where I used to go for my chips when I first started living at this end of the town had closed down a while ago. Tonight, I noticed that they were in the process of flattening it.

I wonder what they are going to put here in its place.

While I was here, I peered in at the window of the motorbike shop – but I couldn’t see much in here.

But now it’s an early night. I’ve an early start tomorrow and off to Koln. And the weather forecast is exactly as I expected. Pouring down with rain.

street market monseigneur ladeuzeplein leuven belgium
street market monseigneur ladeuzeplein leuven belgium

roadworks paving grote markt leuven belgium
roadworks paving grote markt leuven belgium

railway bridge leuven belgium
railway bridge leuven belgium

Thursday 14th March 2019 – HERE I AM …

… back in a little room in my hostel place here in Leuven. All settled down nicely and ready for bed even though it’s only 20:30. I’ve had a very busy day today.

With having had a reasonable day yesterday and a reasonably early night, I was awake again at about 04:30. However I must have wandered off back to sleep at some point because the alarms awoke me at 06:00.

I’d managed to go off on a voyage during the night too. I was driving a coach taking the nurses to and from the nurses’ home to the various hospitals in the Crewe area (just like I used to do with the taxis). There was one particular nurse on a particular run that I was told
finished an hour earlier than the others so she needed picking up
separately. And so I started to make enquiries. I was examining the route and discovered quite by chance that had I not had my “thinking head” on, I would have missed out a section of the route and missed a couple of nurses. But I was still at school and still in my school uniform and this girl, someone out of my class, came over to me and asked about the nurses’ bus. It turned out that she was the nurse concerned. In fact she finished at 13:30 and at the old cottage hospital at the back of the school so I could pick her up in my lunch break. When she found out that I was to drive the coach, school uniform and all, she looked at me with total surprise. But nevertheless she agreed to wait in the main hospital building (the “house”) for me to pick her up.

Just for a change, I was out of bed quite smartly, long before the third alarm went off. First task was to make my butties, and then to do the washing up.

The rubbish went outside too and then I came back to finish off the packing and to tidy up.

I’d finished much earlier than anticipated too so I could have a look at events around the world before I set out. And there’s the usual chaos in the UK too as they flounder around helplessly in the mire of their own making, the laughing stock of the whole of the world.

Braving the wind and the rain I headed off to the station. And there was a long wait for the train because I was early. So I treated myself to a very rare coffee.

gec Alstom regiolis 84565 granville manche normandy francePlenty of time to read the notices too. And it looks as if there’s a project to electrify the railway line and put high-speed trains on the line, cutting up to 30 minutes off the journey time to Paris.

And as well as that, there’s talk of restarting the railway service to St Malo, and that will be exciting too.

We only had a six-carriage train this morning so we were all hemmed in like sardines. But at least the voyage was uneventful and we were just three minutes late arriving at Vaugirard.

All of the excitement was reserved for the metro at Montparnasse. There was an abandoned suitcase in the long passageway down to Metro line 4 so we couldn’t travel that way.

At a quick glance (and I could maybe have done better with more time) the best way seemed to be Line 6 to Etoile and then Line 2 to La Chapelle, right past the Eiffel Tower.

There was far less walking at the Montparnasse end, but so much more at the other end. And with the longer journey time, it took me just about 55 minutes for the journey. Luckily there was plenty of time.

4534 Thalys TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt gare du nord paris franceWhile I was waiting for my train to be called I ate my butties, and then joined the queue.

It’s one of the old Reseau 38000 PBA trainsets, number 4534, and we’ve travelled on this one before – and quite often too. It seems to be regularly rostered onto this journey.

The train was crowded too. I had the misfortune to have some kind of group of people in my carriage and they took ages to sort themselves out.

sncb class 18 electric locomotive gare du midi bruxelles belgiumBut that journey was pretty much uneventful and on time too – plenty of time to catch the 15:56 to Leuven.

I’m glad that I had purchased my rail ticket on line before I came because it’s much less stressful than rushing around trying to do it at the last minute.

Up the road to my little accommodation. There’s a nice room here for me, so I had a relax for a while and then went out to Delhaize for the shopping for breakfast tomorrow.

And much to my surprise I was feeling quite sprightly too – not like I have been feeling for a while

On the way back I sorted out some chips from the fritkot down the hill and then fight my way into the tin of beans because there’s no tin opener here.

Mango sorbet and pineapple for pudding, and now even though it’s only 20:30 I’m off to bed.

It’s all very well feeling sprightly, but it wears me out in the end.

Sunday 23rd December 2018 – SO THAT’S ANOTHER .

… thing crossed off my list of things to do.

Back in the early 1970s when I first started coming over to Oostende, I was always puzzled by the train that was waiting at the station for the passengers. Its destination was always Welkenraedt and I didn’t have a clue where Welkenraedt was.

gare welkenraedt belgiumA little later I had a look for where Welkenraedt might be. It’s a small town nestled in the Ardennes miles from anywhere.

That puzzled me even more as to why the boat trains from Oostende would be going there.
I eventually found the reason. It’s a junction station where lines from Spa and from Eupen come in.

But more importantly, it’s the last station of any importance before the German border. The electricity current in Germany used to be different to that in Belgium, so that was where the Belgian engine came off, and then a German locomotive would be attached to take the train on into Europe.

gare welkenraedt belgiumAlison and I went to Welkenraedt on one of our excursions out back in July to see what was going on. But it was always my ambition, strange though it might seem, to change trains there.

So here I am, on a windswept, soaking wet freezing platform huddled under a tiny shelter at Welkenraedt in the middle of winter waiting for a train to come in.

And no coffee for miles around either

bondgenotenlaan leuven louvain belgiumDespite it being Sunday I’d left the alarm connected and at 06:00 it duly rang. No breakfast, no medication, just packing my backpack and then out into the dark, stopping off on the way to take a few photos of around the station area because I had plenty of time..

At 07:24 the train to Eupen came into the station and I leapt aboard. And at Welkenraedt I hopped out. These days the trains don’t go on into Europe but go round to Eupen.

We had to wait for a diesel multiple-unit to come rattling in from Spa.

automotrice sncb 644 653 gare welkenraedt belgiumWe didn’t have long to wait until this filthy, dirty disreputable ancient thing came staggering into the station.

Old, covered in grafitti and all kinds of things, and the train was even worse. I’d be ashamed to be seen in something like this, and the idea that the SNCB would be content to send such a machine into a foreign country where it could be compared with the pristine stuff on offer over there is an absurdity to say the least.

But here it was and here I was. So I climbed aboard and rattled off into Germany.

hauptbahnhof aachen germanyHere I am finally in Germany, in Aachen in fact, at the Hauptbahnhof.

I have to change trains here, and there’s a wait of about 20 minutes for my connection, so there is plenty of time for breakfast.

German bread is probably the best in the world and so a couple of bread rolls of different varieties and a coffee were just what the doctor ordered.

hauptbahnhof cologne koln germanyMy next train was already in the station. A newish double-decker that put the SNCB offering to shame. This rolled off out of the station, 10 seconds late, and an hour later, I was in Koln.

That was where I took this photograph, by the way.

Interestingly, the announcements on the train were in German followed by English. I imagined what might be the response from the xenophobic racist Brexiters if this kind of cosmopolitanism were ever to happen in the UK.

cathedral cologne koln germanyIt’s years since I’ve been to Koln. About 2007 if my memory serves me correctly.

Looking for something to do to pass the time, I’d been idly scanning through the SNCB website and I found that a voyage by train from Leuven to Köln and return would cost me a mere €68:00 – that’s a four-hundred kilometre round trip.

With nothing much happening in Belgium, I decided to come for a day out.

cathedral bahnhofsvorplatz cologne koln germanyI spent a couple of hours wandering around the city, visiting all of the places that I had visited on my previous trips. But at midday I had to return to the cathedral.

When I was chair of the North European Regional Forum of Open University students, one of the committee members lived here in Koln. And by coincidence she was a big friend of my old friend Liz. Hence the regular visits to Koln. Jackie and I hadn’t seen each other since those days, but she had heard that I was coming to Koln and we were going to meet for lunch.

It was at that moment that the heavens opened. As I picked my way through the crowds I was becoming wetter and wetter, and so I was glad to meet Jackie and go for a coffee.

When the rain eased off a little we headed off into the town and an Italian restaurant. It was a strange place for an Italian restaurant. They wouldn’t do me a plate of vegetables with pasta and tomato sauce. I got the pasta and the tomato sauce, but they couldn’t do the vegetables. That can only mean one thing, as I’m sure that the more astute readers will realise.

christmas market markt der engel neumarkt cologne koln germanyBy now the rain was coming down even worse, but we headed off regardless. Down the main shopping street and through a couple of the Christmas markets, looking at the products on sale.

We ended up at a hot drinks stall. Jackie had a gluhwein and I had a hot cocktail. The mugs were beautiful so we forewent the deposit and I took them away in my backpack.

Jackie’s partner came down to meet us. They were off to a carol concert at the end of the afternoon so I said goodbye

barge river rhine deutzerbrucke cologne koln germanyNow on my own, I retraced my steps back through the markets and down to the River Rhine, thinking that I could have done with a good Rhinecoat.

I walked up along the side of the river and then up the steps to the Hohenzollern Bridge – the huge railway bridge with a pedestrian footpath that straddles the river.

It was a dismal dreary walk in the dark and the rain but even so, it’s good to stand there in mid-stream and watch the fleets of barges and cruise ships passing by underneath.

breslauerplatz hauptbahnhof cologne koln germanyEventually I found myself back at the railway station. And to my dismay, the rear of the station has all been cleared up and modernised and the excellent fritkot that I remembered from the past has been swept away.

Nevertheless I did manage to fit myself up with some food. Back inside the station, I found a Thai restaurant in the subterranean shopping gallery that had a range of vegetarian and vegan food.

I had a stir-fry tofu with rice and it was really good.

dbag class 146 locomotive hauptbahnhof cologne koln germanyMy train was a few minutes early and already in the platform. To my surprise it was pulled by the same locomotive that had brought me out.

I hopped aboard and grabbed myself a comfortable seat. And here I had an interesting encounter with a German ticket-collector. It had been so wet that the damp atmosphere had caused the ink on my rail ticket to run and he couldn’t read it.

In the end, reason prevailed.

automotrice sncb 644 653 gare welkenraedt belgiumAnother wait at Aachen for an even more disreputable Belgian multiple-unit. And which, surprisingly (or maybe not) it was likewise the same one that had brought me out.

There was graffiti all over the inside of the train and rubbish strewn all over the floor. Not a very good advert for the SNCB, sending atrain like this across the border into foreign parts.

And then another wait on the cold and wet at Welkenraedt for my train back to Leuven.

So now, I’m back home, looking and feeling like one more haggard, drowned rat, although I had no idea where I would find one more haggard drowned rat at this time of night.

And straight off to bed because I have the hospital in the morning and I need to be on form.

On my travels today, I took well over 100 photos. Some are in the text and some more below.

But if you want to see the rest, I’ve prepared a web page where you can see them in all their sodding and dripping glory, such as it was.

christmas lights tiensevest leuven louvain belgium
christmas lights tiensevest leuven louvain belgium

christmas lights tiensevest leuven louvain belgium
christmas lights tiensevest leuven louvain belgium

martelarenplein leuven louvain belgium
martelarenplein leuven louvain belgium

railway station war memorial martelarenplein leuven louvain belgium
railway station war memorial martelarenplein leuven louvain belgium

war memorial railway station martelarenplein leuven louvain belgium
war memorial railway station martelarenplein leuven louvain belgium

war memorial martelarenplein leuven louvain belgium
war memorial martelarenplein leuven louvain belgium

railway station martelarenplein leuven louvain belgium
railway station martelarenplein leuven louvain belgium

train station leuven louvain belgium
train station leuven louvain belgium

hauptbahnhof aachen germany
hauptbahnhof aachen germany

hauptbahnhof aachen germany
hauptbahnhof aachen germany

automotrice sncb 644 653 hauptbahnhof aachen germany
automotrice sncb 644 653 hauptbahnhof aachen germany

Friday 12th October 2018 – WHAT WITH ONE …

… thing and another (and until you get started you’ve no idea just how many other things there are) It wasn’t far short of 03:00 when I finally settled down to sleep.

That’s not leaving me too much time when there’s an alarm to go off at 06:00 is it?

Mind you, there was plenty of time to go off and disappear on another nocturnal ramble. This time it was to do with a load of girls who were saying goodbye to each other and going their separate ways. And I still haven’t worked out what that was all about either.

No-one was really hungry this morning so we didn’t have much in the way of breakfast. But I had a shower and then we put the washing machine on the go. I’ve no idea where all of this washing comes from – it’s certainly not me.

Once we’d gathered our wits, which in my case takes much longer than it ought, we went for a walk in the wind.

maison christian dior museumgranville manche normandy franceGranville was formerly the home of the well-known fasion designer Christian Dior.

His childhood home, situated on the cliffs on the way out of town, has been converted into a museum of his life and works, and it’s the kind of place that most women would like to visit.

and so this was our destination for this morning.

swimmer diving platform plat gousset granville manche normandy franceWe went out along the walls of the old town and then down the steps onto the Plat Gousset.

Our attention was caught by a bicycle propped up against the wall with someone’s clothes draped over it.

So looking out to sea we saw someone perched up on the diving platform. And you can see how far in the tide is today by the fact that the platform is practically submerged.

swimmer plat gousset granville manche normandy franceAnd as we watched, our intrepid hero, clearly the grandson of Captain Matthew Webb, took to the windy water and started to swim back to the shore, cheered on by the onlookers.

As I remarked to one of the spectators, “he’s a braver man than I am” because I wouldn’t have liked to have been out there in those conditions.

It took him a while to make it back to shore though, although he never looked as if he was in any trouble.

sea rescue boat granville manche normandy franceHowever, we did have an interruption by some people who seemed to be rather concerned about what was going on.

Round the headland came the sea-rescue boat and it can’t have been a coincidence that they came on the scene just at that particular moment.

Of course, their services weren’t required at all but they were there nevertheless to keep an eye on the proceedings. Unless it REALLY was a coincidence.

casino plat gousset granville manche normandy franceIt was a beautiful day for photography though. The colours really were superb and the excellent light brought them out perfectly.

I must have taken dozens of photos down there and it’s very hard to choose which one was the best of the bunch.

So I’ll just post one photo here and you can imagine all of the rest.

cruise ship english channel ile de chausey granville manche normandy franceTo reach the museum you have to climb up a couple of flights of steep stairs at the end of the promenade, but it’s well worth it, particularly on a day like this as the views from the top are stunning.

I was taking a few photos of the Ile de Chausey when I noticed a strange shape at the back of one of the islands of the archipelago.

So I photographed it with the view of cropping it and enlarging it back at home to see what it was.

cruise ship channel islands english channel granville manche normandy franceBut there was no need to do that really because I could see that it was a moving object. And just a minute or two later it burst out into the open sea.

Yes, we have another cruise ship cruising around the Chennel Islands. Not a particularly big one by the look of things, but interesting nevertheless.

I’ve not been able to find out which one it was either which is a shame.

normandy trader ile de chausey granville manche normandy franceThat wasn’t the only maritime activity either.

As we were walking along the Plat Gousset we had heard a hooter telling us that a ship was leaving port. And 20 minutes later our old friend Normandy Trader hove into view.

She mad a really good photograph as she steamed … “dieseled” – ed … off to Jersey with the Ile de Chausey in the background.

musee christian dior museum granville manche normandy franceThe grounds of the museum are really beautiful and you can see why the Diors chose this place to be their home with views like this all over the place.

When they moved here in 1905 or whenever it was, there was nothing but bare rock but Mrs Dior arranged for tons of soil to be brought to the premises and this was transformed into what we see today.

musee christian dior museum granville manche normandy franceThe young Christian Dior has aspirations to be an architect, and it is said that some of the features of the garden and some of the furniture were made to his own designs.

But beautiful as the place might be, it came into the hands of the Granville town council who are now responsible for the upkeep, and the place seems to be suffering under the budget cuts while public funds are stashed away to satisfy what many people consider to be Madame la Maire‘s somewhat “over-ambitious” plans to abandon the town’s heritage and transform it into a playground for the rich.

musee christian dior museum granville manche normandy franceSo abandoning our fears about whether the railway line will be torn up and the only way to arrive at the town will be by luxury yacht with crew of 25, we carried on our tour of the garden.

Granville has been dubbed by many people (especially Madame la Maire as “The Monaco of the North” and it’s true that mediterranean trees, palm trees, and even banana trees will grow here.

As I reassured Josée though, they aren’t native to the area but if they are planted and well-maintained, they will survive.

musee christian dior museum colletion doll dresses granville manche normandy franceThe interior of the building was quite beautiful too and Josée spent quite a while admiring the dresses and the perfumes.

My attention was caught by the collection of miniature dresses on show because you didn’t just buy a Dior dress for yourself and your daughter, you could even buy one for your daughter’s dolly and hat surely is the height of decadence.

On the way out of the building Josée stopped to sample some perfumes and another woman went to spray me with stuff thinking that I was her husband.

With not having had much breakfast, by now we were quite hungry where we made our way into town and the fritkot for lunch. And he was open too, not like Saturday night.

Josée had a plate of meat and salad while I had some chips and a veggie wrap. And it was all quite delicious too.

Back here, I had a little … errr … relax, and then we set off again.

At the Christian Dior museum they had told us that our tickets give us the right to a reduction in the admission fee to the Anacréon Museum of Modern Art down the road from me.

Modern Art isn’t my thing, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, but Josée is quite into it and I have to keep my visitors happy. There wasn’t much in there that I would have liked to grace the walls of my apartment.

But Josée explained to me that I was understanding art incorrectly. If I simply want something to hang on a wall to look pretty then art isn’t for me. The purpose of art appreciation is to study and admire the artist’s technique.

So perhaps then art isn’t for me after all.

We stopped off for a drink on the way back and then went round for a long chat with Yves and Lily. They had a lot to say for themselves which is quite nice, but they also advised Josée against going musseling on the beach. Apparently there’s a virus going round and it’s not doing the shellfish any good at all.

Tea was some buckwheat crèpes with all kinds of stuff on (I had vegan cheese, onions, tomato, mushroom and garlic on mine) and to finish the day we saw the end of Seducing Doctor Lewis.

And after all of that, I’m exhausted.

casino plat gousset granville manche normandy france
casino plat gousset granville manche normandy france

casino plat gousset walled town granville manche normandy france
casino plat gousset walled town granville manche normandy france

rocks headland plat gousset granville manche normandy france
rocks headland plat gousset granville manche normandy france

bathing huts plat gousset granville manche normandy france
bathing huts plat gousset granville manche normandy france

lighthouse rocks ile de chausey granville manche normandy france
lighthouse rocks ile de chausey granville manche normandy france

waves breaking on rocks ile de chausey granville manche normandy france
waves breaking on rocks ile de chausey granville manche normandy france

lighthouse rocks ile de chausey granville manche normandy france
lighthouse rocks ile de chausey granville manche normandy france

normandy trader ile de chausey granville manche normandy france
normandy trader ile de chausey granville manche normandy france

cemetery donville les bains granville manche normandy france
cemetery donville les bains granville manche normandy france

garden shed muséé christian dior museum granville manche normandy france
garden shed muséé christian dior museum granville manche normandy france

musee christian dior museum granville manche normandy france
musee christian dior museum granville manche normandy france

rue de la falaise granville manche normandy france
rue de la falaise granville manche normandy france