Tag Archives: herbert hooverplein

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

… a lovely meal with Alison at the Greenway restaurant.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s progress of a sort anyway.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An early night and an early start tomorrow.

Friday 11th February 2022 – THAT WAS A …

… horrible night last night.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I went to bed fairly early hoping to have a really good sleep. However at about 23:00 a party started up in one of the University houses at the back here.

At at 04:30 they were still at it and I hadn’t had a moment of sleep.

Eventually I must have dropped off because when I awoke, at 09:35, there were four files on the dictaphone. I was with my youngest sister last night. To my surprise we were actually boyfriend and girlfriend. We were on a bus doing a lap around a football ground so that we could watch the game but it was almost impossible to see it no matter where I moved to or where I sat or where I went. I tried to sit in all kinds of places. On one occasion I saw the goalkeeper catch the ball but it was behind the line so I indicated that it was a goal. He thought that the ball had come through the side netting into his hands. it was very much a one-sided match. That American guy Lamela was playing and someone said “look what they would have missed had he gone to Celtic”. Eventually the bus stopped because it was half-time. I hoped to find a better seat when everyone had got off. Then I noticed that just round the corner was a petrol station so I said to her “do you want to come along and have a coffee? See if they have a coffee there”. She was searching through her money – she had plenty there, all £10 notes. In the end off we went. She wasn’t very talkative and I had the impression that she wasn’t very happy. We went past a fish and chip shop so I said “would you like a bag of chips as well?” but it turned out to be a place that made venetian blinds. There was something going on about fires at football grounds and they were talking about Airdrie that had been burnt to a cinder and several other grounds where they had had fires, how at Dundee they’d had a big fire but it wasn’t the case at all of an opportunist suspicious fire because the chairman was young, keen and energetic and it had taken him years to rebuild his fortune after the fire even if the club had been refused planning permission to re-erect a stand and how many of their supporters had died in the fire. As they were explaining, my sister asked “how long do we have?”. I replied “normally 15 minutes”. I wondered how much of that time had already passed so I said “as long as it takes if we grab a coffee and are quick back”.

By now I was with Zero and the two of us were at some kind of water park or adventure park. What I’d heard was that they were going to freeze over a waterfall or part of it so that we could go skiing on it. I contacted my friends from the Wirral to see if they wanted to come. Sure enough, they turned up so I went to meet them while Zero was visiting this waterfall walking exercise. She was obviously having a whale of a time. They turned up but for some reason they weren’t very happy at all. My friend’s wife wandered off on her own and he hung around for a minute and then asked “do you want to have a beer or something and I have to go back to the car or something” and walked off in order to get a panda. Zero was enjoying herself but this was coming to an end and they were going to freeze over the waterfall so I had to find the wife. I walked all the way up this slope but I couldn’t see her. I bumped into a few people whom I knew and told them what was happening. They said “surely your friends will turn up to go skiing”. I said “no, they are coming up now”. I walked all the way up the hill but couldn’t find her at all. She had disappeared. Someone said “she’s just walked past at the end of the water wheel” so I decided to turn round and walk back to see if she was there. In the meantime all the kids came off this lake-walking thing so I thought that I’d better go and find Zero otherwise she’ll be the next person who is going to be lost.

I stepped right back into this dream again. The husband turned up and the discussion went on about porridge for breakfast. I offered him some porridge but he thought that it wasn’t porridge but something else. I was absolutely certain that it was porridge and I couldn’t understand why it was that he was saying something different

There had been some kind of incident on Moathouse Drive in Crewe. Someone had been arrested for it and I had to go along and give evidence. I was there making my statement and the person was brought in behind me to make their statement and it was my little Inuit friend from Uummannaq. While she made her statement I waited for her. I had a look round while I was waiting and came across a map of the High Arctic islands in Nunavut. When she finished giving her evidence I said that I’d take her home. I knew where she lived. I showed her this map, explaining to her about the Inuit in Canada and the outlying islands and she was extremely interested. She had some kind of pet like a mongoose or a weasel, something like that, and it was running around inside this room. I had to catch it and that wasn’t easy. It was a persistent animal. In the end I caught it and we both set off. Somehow I ended up back at my house alone with this animal. I let it loose inside my house, my house in Winsford. I’m not quite sure how it happened after that but with me having an empty room in my house and my brother living in all kinds of strange circumstances I ought to invite him to come and stay but it didn’t quite work out like that and I can’t remember how it finished.

After the medication I spent much of the day working on the remaining music for the next batch of radio programmes. All five of them are now prepared and there’s some good music in there.

There were several breaks of course, Breakfast, lunch, and then a couple of chats with Liz and Alison.

Later on I went for a walk around the town to stretch my legs.

dismantling market stall herbert hooverplein leuven belgium Eric Hall photo February 2022My route took me down the Teinsestraat and into the Herbert Hooverplein.

It’s market day this morning and the square, and the adjacent Monseigneur Ladeuzeplein are swamped with stalls, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall having seen in the past but at the start of the afternoon they begin to pack everything up.

When I arrived this afternoon I was just in time to see the last couple of stalls being dismantled.

At FNAC there was nothing there that interested me. I had half a mind to buy a new voice recorder to replace my old Sony but they didn’t have anything at all.

With nothing that I needed to buy particularly, I didn’t go into ay other shop but instead headed across town to Origin’o, the vegan shop, for some more grated cheese, some vegan sausages and a dessert for Saturday night’s tea

rebuilding medieval city walls handbooghof leuven belgium Eric Hall photo February 2022On the way back into town I came back via the Handbooghof to have a look at the repairs to the city walls around there

There isn’t actually very much to see because of the high fence that they have built around it. Apart from the decoration on the fence, we can make out something of what they have been doing and the different types of brick and stone that have been used.

Sourcing the material to rebuild it can’t have been easy though because I imagine that like most similar places, the walls will have been used as a quarry during the expansion of the town in the past.

At Delhaize there was a disaster. They had run out of the banana-flavoured soya drink that I love. I’ve had to make do with chocolate but it really isn’t the same.

Back here I crashed out for an hour or so, even before I had time to make myself a coffee. I’m not coping too well with things at the moment and the bad night just about finished me off.

So now that I’ve had tea I’m off for a very early night. Grab a few hours sleep before the party starts up again tonight.

Friday 14th January 2022 – AFTER ALL OF YESTERDAY’S …

… efforts, I ended up in bed at some kind of early time of night. With no need for an alarm tomorrow no appointments, and also no phone either), I was going to make the most of it.

Unfortunately, it didn’t quite turn out like that. I don’t sleep as well in the bed here as I do in my bed at home, and then there was the fact that I’d been off on my travels.

There are several different sound files on the dictaphone, and that shows that I had a very disturbed night. At some point I’d just been to fill the kettle that was on the bedside table, put it on its stand and went to switch it on to make a cup of coffee in the middle of the night.

It’s amazing the kind of things that you can do when you are fast asleep, isn’t it?

There was something about submarines last night. It wasn’t a tube as you might expect but it was U-shaped passenger compartment where four people could lie down. It was the only way to be. Two of them were in the higher part in the centre and two were in the lower part, one at each end. The submarine was sent on active service like that. There was no way for any of these people to move once they were on board and it must have been the most uncomfortable and claustrophobic thing ever yet even I had been out in it on active service. On one occasion I was at school watching these kids and the tutor was talking about who’d done what, who’d dome something else, naming these kids. Then on eof the kids mentioned my name. It turned out that one of the kids wanted me to give a talk on these submarines so I gave them a little talk on it. As I say, it’s most surprising because you would never ever get me into a submarine like this, not in a million years. later on when I went to see if I was back again with this submarine there was something to do with lords and ladies, not their names, and some kind of operating manual about this submarine but I can’t remember what this was and what it related to, anything like that

Much as I hate submarines I found myself volunteering for the crew of this to go out and sail in it and that is most unlikely for me. But anyway it looks as if I’ve just stepped back into the story from which I had just stepped out.

There were some of us last night around the West Midlands. We’d been somewhere and had to return home so we were looking for a railway station. We were in a vehicle and had driven underneath a railway line. A little further ahead was another railway line so we imagined that there was a railway junction which might mean that there would be a station. There was a bus coming out of there with schoolkids. We saw a sign that said “Intercity” so we turned down this road underneath the railway bridge and followed the railway line. Instead it took us into a yard where there were all kinds of railway maintenance equipment etc. We thought “this can’t possibly be right” but we carried on. At the end of the yard was a kind of dirt track out so we followed this dirt track, still following the railway and ended up somehow in someone’s house. We thought “we’re in civilisation so we can get out here” but we ended up in some girl’s bedroom. There was no handle on the door on the inside. This guy and I had a look round but I could see that this wasn’t going to work so we’d be better clearing off quickly. I went back into the annexe where we’d appeared. The other two people were standing there. I told them that we had better make ourselves scarce because this isn’t it. The fourth person, the one who had come with me into the main room hadn’t put in an appearance. We thought “we can’t hang around because sooner or later we’ll be caught by someone being in this house.

Finally I was in Shavington last night and there was an Austin 1100 being worked on down the street. A young boy was going it. There was a little girl of about 3 or 4 helping him or watching him. He was talking to her and asked her where something was, like a nursery or a toy room or something. She took him down to where Caliburn was parked. He opened the door of Caliburn and took out a bottle of beer and started to drink it. I went down there and grabbed hold of him and asked him what he was doing. He wouldn’t answer so I asked him for his name. He gave me about 4 or 5 different names. In the end I asked him what was his name in his birth certificate. He replied “none of those. It’s extremely complicated”. I was becoming extremely short-tempered at this particular moment so maybe it was just as well that I awoke.

Being awake is one thing. Being out of bed is something else. It was round about 09:30 when I finally arose from the dead, and then after the medication I spent much of the day choosing the music for the next batch of 5 radio programmes.

All of that is done and dusted, although it took me longer than it might have done. Breakfast was a contributory factor and so was lunch, but there was more than just a small amount of indolence too

folding up market stall herbert hooverplein leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022When I’d finished, I went off into town for my walk.

With it being Friday, it’s market day in the Herbert Hooverplein and the Monseigneur Ladeuzeplein although they have usually all cleared off by 14:00. I caught the very last one, who “shall fold their tents, like the Arabs and as silently steal away”, just like in Longfellow’s “The Day Is Done”.

First stop on my way into town was at the FNAC to check the data cables for my telephone. But if anyone thinks that I’m going to be paying the kind of price that they want for one, then they are mistaken.

demolition of match supermarket bondgenotenlaan leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022So never mind. I have a cunning plan, so I headed off outside the front door into the Bondgenotenlaan.

There’s a “Match” supermarket just up the road from here but by the looks of things it isn’t going to be here all that long. Since I was here last, they have made a start on demolishing it.

That’s a shame because what we’ll have is a modern deluxe building with the kind of rent that a supermarket like Match could never pay and make a profit, and there’s another local amenity gone for good.

However it is quite amusing seeing the 18th Century building still standing after all these years and here they are ripping down something of the 1960s. It just goes to show.

In Kruidvat, as I expected, I struck it lucky. I picked up a 2-metre micro-USB cable for just €2:99. That’s much more like it.

That was a good move because I can use that with the ZOOM H8 and bring the smaller cable with me on my travels to use with the ‘phone and the NIKON 1 J5.

wall plaque sack of leuven louis melsensstraat leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022In my quest for a baking tin, I went down the Louis Melsensstraat towards the cheap shops. And here I noticed a wall plaque of a type that I don’t recall seeing before.

The story of the Sack of Leuven by the Germans in August 1914 has been told often enough and you’ll see many buildings in the town with a wall plaque like the one on the left, indicating that the building was a victim of the German atrocities.

The one on the right though is different. I’ve no idea to what the date of 1922 refers. It might possibly related to the date when the building was restored. I shall have to make certain enquiries when I find someone who might know the answer.

Neither Wibra, Zeeman nor Hema came up with a suitable baking tin so it looks as if I’ll have to buy one of the overpriced ones at LeClerc when I go home. Those there are 18cm ones there but that’s more than enough for me to make a cake for myself in the future. The pyrex dish that I used instead was rather too large for what I want.

There was better luck in Sports Direct, where I bought some new trousers and also in the health-food shop Origin’o where I picked up some more grated vegan cheese for my pizzas and some vegan sausages. I really enjoyed those that I bought last time I was here.

river dijle leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022On the way to Delhaize (for some more banana soya drink) and Hema, I went for a little wander by the River Dijle to see what was happening there.

It’s changed quite a lot since we last stood on this spot. Back in 2016 when I was living here the river was overflowing after that very dramatic rainstorm that we had had, and a few months ago it was pretty full too after a lengthy bout of rain.

At Delhaize I picked up my drink and then went round to Hema. No baking tins here either, which was a surprise. Hema usually has almost everything that you need. What do people in Flanders (and France) use when they are baking cakes? And where do they go to buy it?

christmas trees grote markt leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022Back in the Grote Markt, it’s starting to go dark so they have illuminated the Christmas trees and the other decorations.

The crèche has gone so there isn’t all that much here to illuminate today so we have to do the best that we can with what we’ve got. Lighting up the real tree that’s here is … errr … interesting.

It’s still quite cold so I’m not going to hang around this afternoon. There are plenty of places that I would like to visit, but not in this weather. The possibility of a piping-hot coffee is summoning me home.

Back here I had the coffee that I had promised myself and then went through the photos that I’d taken over the last few days.

But now that I’ve had my tea, I’m off to bed. I have an 05:00 start in the morning ready for my train at 06:26.

Thursday 13th January 2022 – I’VE BEEN TOLD …

… by a doctor at the hospital that I would probably be better off having some counselling.

And I’d hate to be the person who draws the short straw and has to probe the depths of my subconscious mind.

But seriously, anyone who has to go to see a psychiatrist needs his head examined. It reminds me of the story about the guy who went to see a psychiatrist
“What’s the matter with you?”
“I think that I’m a dog”.
“And how long have you been feeling ike that?”
“Ever since I was a puppy”
“You’d better lie down on the couch”.
“I can’t”
“Why not?”
“I’m not allowed to”.

Last night I was in bed by 21:30 tucked up quietly in the warmth. And it didn’t take too long before I dozed off, only to awaken at 04:25.

No chance of my being out of bed at any time like that. I turned over and tried to go back to sleep – without a great deal of success, I have to say. At least, not until five minutes before the alarm went off.

Plenty of stuff on the dictaphone from the night too. Back in the days before World War II when there were a couple of scientists working on some machines that we’d captured. One was a kind of musical juke box which was to do with the German Air Force. We’d had this and had to rewire a new plug onto it, plugged it in and made it work. I’m not sure of the relevance of anything else but it actually predicted the arrival of the first German aeroplane to cross the Dutch border in World War II and the troops on the ground who saw it fly over this cliff where they were keeping watch. It was loaded with explosives but they were lucky and they were ready and managed to bring it down. But the explosives caused a huge amount of damage all over the local area and there was some kind of dispute about it. Was it the right thing to do? Then it turned out that in one raid by the Allied air force in 1942 or something they had actually caught the inventor of this machine and killed him in the bombing raid. There was another machine but they weren’t sure exactly what it did but it was something to do with family trees. When they finally cracked what it did, the key name was Robinson or Robertson but that was something to do with the German people who had designed the machine. When they worked out the surname the allies were quite jubilant about it all.

Later on back in some kind of Cold War time we were on a deserted dock in the North of Scotland somewhere which at one time had been a Victorian dry dock complex but was now abandoned. We’d gone to investigate it and found some paperwork relating to some movements. Then this ship docked and a huge Russian lorry was wheeled off. We explored all over this lorry. It was quite primitive but was loaded up with some kind of stuff so we made some real notes about it. We even knew its name, which I have forgotten. There was also a caravan thing. We were surprised that the lorry was far easier to drive than this caravan. This lorry, we were underneath it checking everything etc. We even heard them giving orders about driving it. This was bound to be something of real interest to someone.

Later on there was some kind of follow-up to this incident about the dock but I can’t remember very much about it except that a girl was quite upset because she believed that it had been installed with the agreement and knowledge of the British authorities and was very upset that we were poking around it.

Following the demise of Shearings I went to look for another job as a coach driver and ended up looking at a place that had some old Duple-bodied coaches that was advertising. Their coaches were really nice, clean, tidy and well-painted even though they were old. The question of whether these were still in operation even though they were more than 20 years old came up but they didn’t seem to be bothered. They were running them quite happily. We had a good chat and I explained that I worked mainly for Shearings so I knew how to drive and how to run coach tours and private hire trips according to how they did them but that was probably different from anyone else. They agreed to offer me a job and they were impressed to notice that I knew already about fuel cards etc. He showed me a coach, a T-registered Duple that had been repainted but the preparation had been awful so I had a word about that. I thought that it ought to have been done better. Then it came out that I had an Operator’s Licence (which I actually do, and an International one at that) so he thought that he might put me at one of their subsidiaries somewhere. We boarded a coach which was rather tatty inside, I thought and didn’t seem to suit their image, and drove off. I expected that they would have wanted me to drive so that they could see what I was like but they didn’t which I thought was strange. At a certain point we stopped, got out and started to walk, past these abandoned houses and the guy was talking about who used to live there and what he used to do, and had we been here 20 years ago there would have been tons of stuff in these houses to save. Climbing over the ruins was quite difficult. Then the name of Zygmund came up. There were 2 boys talking about it and we overheard. I said that I knew someone called Zygmund (and I did too – he lived in Nantwich and was a friend of my father’s). He knew this person as well so we had a chat about this, what I remembered from my father and he added a few bits and pieces in. We then clambered over this really old house that had been used to keep a horse in which had contributed to its demise

After the meds I had a shower and washed my clothes, then I made my sandwiches and headed off into town. I’m glad that I’d brought my winter coat with me because the temperature was down to 1.5°C outside.

tavern universum herbert hooverplein leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022On my way down the street into town I passed by the corner of the Herbert Hooverplein.

When we were here last month they were doing something her that had caught my attention but I can’t now remember what it was. But whatever it was, they look as if they are pretty-well advanced with it.

There’s scaffolding up all around the Taverne Universum and covered with a sheet to protect the passers-by from whatever it is that they are doing.

And as for the sign “what’s next?” – we’ll have to wait to find out. I’m not convinced that it will be next time either, knowing the speed in which they seem to work here in Belgium.

shop renovation rector de somerplein leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022Further down the hill in the Rector de Somerplein I went past that building that we saw them smashing up a couple of months ago.

Nothing much seemed to have happened when we went past last time, but now they seem to have got to grips with it.

Covered in scaffolding with its protective covering and with a laden skip outside the door it looks as if things are advancing quite rapidly. Of course I can’t stick my hear in there for another look while they are actually working there though. I’ll have to wait until the scaffolding and its cover come down.

And that’s not going to be for quite a while either, I reckon.

school trip on bicycles naamsestraat leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022Bicycles play an important role in the life of the average citizen of Leuven and the place is flooded with them.

Coming down the Naamsestraat into the Grote Markt is what looks very much like a school outing or something similar a whole pile of schoolkids accompanied by a few adults on a pedal-powered outing.

Luckily they aren’t going my way, although had I been a minute or so later I would have encountered them head-on. I left them to it and carried on down the hill into the Brusselsestraat where there wasn’t very much of any kind of excitement at all today.

hardstanding velodrome brusselsestraat leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that at the back of the new velodrome there’s some kind of hardstanding that they have installed.

In the past we’ve seen all kinds of things on there. There have been marquees and the like, and I even recall seeing a few potted palms as well on one occasion.

Today though, there’s nothing. We have the Christmas lights still strung up there but that’s about your lot.

Nevertheless, if those buildings at the back are going to be staying put and not be knocked down, they need to be doing something with them to tidy them up. They are building a little exclusive village here eventually and I’m sure that the residents, having paid all of this money, will want to have a good view for their money.

building work on medieval stone tower brusselsestraat leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022A little further on down the street is the old medieval tower that we first saw after they had knocked down St Pieter’s Hospital that used to stand on this site.

Since it was unveiled in all of its glory, it’s been veiled up again, and quite rightly so with all of the construction going on all around it.

It’s all that remains of the old medieval city walls in this area, although there’s a couple of hundred of hundred feet still standing behind me down by the side of the river that it also in the process of being restored.

And part of the plan is for this tower to stand at the side of the river again. Where we are standing now is actually on top of the river that is flowing underneath us in a culvert. Part of the plan for the site is to rip out the culvert and have the river exposed to the air again.

Further down at the end of the street I decided to go a different way to the hospital.

building work kapucijnenvoer leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022There are a couple of building sites, like this one between the Zongang and the Kapucijnenvoer, upon which my beady eye is being kept and by the time that I come here tonight it will be too dark to see anything.

By the looks of things, all of the structure is in place and they’ve taken their time to get here. At first the building went up like a mushroom but they seem to have slowed down somewhat since those heady days.

The next task, I suppose, will be to fit it out before they finish off with the cladding. I’m not sure how long that will take them but I don’t suppose that it’s the work of five minutes either. And I wonder how the residents of the Zongang are getting on, having been deprived of much of their natural light.

building work kapucijnenvoer leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo January 2022Further on down the street on the other side of the road is the big impressive building on which they have been working for quite some time.

There were plenty of workmen about so I had to be rather circumspect, but we can see that they’ve been making some progress with the building. And I was right. It is going to be a huge thing.

There’ no indication of the purpose of the building when it’s finished – no signs or anything – so we’ll have to wait for a while until we find out what is going on.

To my surprise I made it all the way to the hospital without stopping for breath, even all the way up the hill in the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan. It’s been a long time since I’ve done that.

At the cardiologist’s, they put me on e couch and coupled me up to a machine that would take a reading. And then the consultant saw me.

They couldn’t find anything seriously wrong with my heart when they did all those tests last time. He thinks that it’s something to do with clogged arteries (which is a great surprise to me as I don’t eat the kind of food that will cause that). He’s going to try to treat it by medication.

And so having decided when my daily intake of tablets increased to 8 per day that I was going to make a great effort to cut down, I’m now on 15 per day. So that plan clearly isn’t working, is it?

At the day centre they coupled me up to the infusion and left me to it. The doctor came to see me to ask how I was and when I told him that I was fed up, he started on this counselling lark.

One of the things that I mentioned was that I can’t shift this excess weight, and I can’t seem to improve my breathing and can’t go back to running, all of that. He suggested that I take up much more exercise in an attempt to deal with the weight and the fitness levels, but he didn’t have an answer to “how do I do that with my breathing issues?”.

While I was there I did manage to do some work in between the bouts of sleep. Tuesday’s notes that I had left only half-written are now up to date (except for the night’s little voyages).

Alison came to the hospital to pick me up and she took me back to her house where she made tea. And it was my lucky day today because one of her cats let me pick him up and give him a big stroke. He seemed quite comfortable too.

Alison kindly ran me home later, which was nice of her. We’d had a very long chat about all kinds of this and that, and did our best to put the world to rights. But I think that it’ll take much more than whatever we can come up with to do that.

Now I’m off to bed and a nice lie in. Just as well as the ‘phone battery is flat and I can’t recharge it until I find a data cable from somewhere.

No appointments tomorrow so I can take it easy. Just a pile of music to select for the radio programmes and a trip out to the shops. That should keep me out of mischief for a while.

Friday 19th November 2021 – JUST A FEW …

… more brief notes because I’m in the middle of watching a football match and when it’s finished I’m off to bed because I have to get up at 05:00.

And I do remember that I said that I was going to update the notes from yesterday but unfortunately things didn’t quite work out like that. Not the least reason being the fact that I had yet another bad night last night and I ended off drifting into sleep a couple of times this afternoon when I should have been working.

It felt as if I didn’t have any sleep at all last night but considering the amount of stuff that was on the dictaphone from last night I must have fallen asleep several times.

I was out in Caliburn last night, going from Winsford to Crewe and it was very late. I couldn’t think of what was wrong. I’d been driving for a few hundred yards and I suddenly realised thet I had no headlights. I looked around and there were no electrics of any kind working in the van. Just then I was going past a farm so I pulled into the farm yard to get off the road before someone ran into the back. Jerry and Mike were there, leading some camels with kids on them. They passed in through Caliburn and out the other side and then came back that way. They asked me what I was doing so I explained. They had a few suggestions but I suggested that it was the main fuse that had gone. Jerry said “hang on. We’ll have a look” and lifted up the bonnet but said “ohh it’s a new Transit and I don’t know these ones”. I had a look and saw that the battery had shifted position so I put it back. Sure enough, there was the main fuse underneath the battery and it had broken. Some woman came by now from the farm and asked what was going on. I explained to her but she replied “we don’t have one of those”. I said that I’d have to order one but in the meantime I was sure that I could rig up something so that I could carry on driving and do whatever I had to do.
Later on there was something about dressing up in fancy dress in the Welsh class. One guy had dressed as a canwyll yr ysbryd but I thought that he should have been more like a ghost with a sheet over him as well while he was doing it. There was quite a lot to this dream but I can’t remember any more than that
Some time later I’d been out with with my friend from Congleton. She lived somewhere out beyond Manchester but I was far too tired to take her home so she arranged for her mother to come and pick her up from my family home which was actually where she lived in Congleton. We stopped somewhere for a quick flirt about, something like that, and then I drove back. She said “don’t park where you normally park. Pull up across the road” because her aunt had parked there once and a policeman had come along and moved her on
Finally someone was making a film about the Great Train Robbery. Of course they were disguising all the names and the names of towns and so on but it was quite clear what it was. I had some kind of rôle to play in it. I was on my way to the garage where everyone was assembling. There was a policewoman directing traffic so I had a chat to her. She was saying how glad she was going to be to get off work at the end of her shift. I thought “you’re going to have a surprise later on in that case”. I arrived at the garage and everyone was trying to organise themselves but there were still a few things that weren’t working. There was this red MkV Cortina and they couldn’t make the flashers work on it. One guy was frustrated and put a great big dent in the boot. The I noticed that a few of the things were going wrong in this organisation. Some of the equipment wasn’t up to much. I immediately thought that this was going to be a catastrophe. Everyone would be caught quite quickly because of all this. I recommended not sharing out the money until much later when the hue and cry had died down a little. Someone there had guns and everything like that. I could see that several tragedies are going to arise in this affair if we weren’t careful.

When the alarm went off I staggered out of bed for my medication and then checked my mails and messages. Liz was on line too so we had a little chat for a while.

Today’s task was to choose the music for the next four radio programmes and that took far longer than it ought to have done as well. Mind you, had I been wide awake and in the mood to work I could have done it a lot quicker than I did

After breakfast I went out for a walk. I needed a bread knife because there isn’t one here,

outdoor market herbert hooverplein leuven Belgium photo November 2021Down at the end of the Tiensestraat I came once more into the Herbert Hooverplein.

Being earlier than usual, the outdoor market here was in full swing.

This is the kind of place like one of these Middle-Eastern or North African street markets – apart from the weather of course. You can buy absolutely everything imaginable here, including bulbs for planting in the garden

Surprisingly, there didn’t seem to be too many customers around right now. It’s not actually that late in the morning. I would have expected the place to be heaving with folk.

outdoor market monseigneur ladeuzeplein leuven Belgium photo November 2021The market stretches on around and into the Monseigneur Ladeuzeplein.

Standing underneath the arches to the entrance to the University Library I have a good view of all of the stalls and what they are selling.

The University Library is the same one that was burnt by the Germans during the Sack of Leuven in 1914 and all of the books, some as old as 1300 years, went up in flames.

Collections were made throughout the World to rebuild the building and to restock it, so the Germans came by in 1940 and burnt it again.

house building diestsestraat leuven Belgium photo November 2021Sown in the Diestsestraat are a couple of cheap shops that sell household equipment so I wen to try my luck there.

First though, I went to have a look at the house-building that’s been going on down there.

They are actually making reasonable progress which is quite a surprise considering that this is Belgium where they seem to be taking their time about most of these building projects.

And you’ve no idea how hard it was to actually find a bread-knife around Leuven. I tried several shops in the Diestsestraat but had no success.

While I was out I went to Delhaize to buy the salad stuff and fruit for lunch today and for my butties tomorrow on my way home. And in Hema, a more-upmarket kitchen shop near Delhaize, I finally found a bread knife at a reasonable price, so I can make my sandwiches in peace,

man filming grote markt leuven Belgium photo November 2021Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that taking photos of people taking photos is a regular occurrence in these pages.

Today I was eben more lucky because there was someone actually filming here with a film-camera. However I couldn’t see what it was that he was actually filming, and he didn’t stay long.

Back at my little room, after lunch I carried on with the music, fighting off wave after wave of sleep, mostly very unsuccessfully. However, at least it was only 10 minutes here and there, not several hours as was the case a couple of months ago.

Tea was falafel and pasta followed by soya dessert, and now I’m settling down to watch the football. TNS v Newtown.

TNS won the match 2-0 but it would have been a totally different story had the referee awarded maybe even one of the stonewall penalties that I would have awarded to Newtown had I been refereeing it.

And this is, shame as it is to say it, the first time that i’ve ever seen TNS set out to kick an opposing player off the park. As I have said before, Lifumpa Mwandwe is far too good for this league but he’s not going to last long in it if in other matches he’s kicked about as much as he was tonight.

Thursday 18th November 2021 – JUST A FEW …

… brief notes because even though it’s not yet 21:00 I’m off to bed. I’ve had a very long an exhausting day and I’ve already crashed out once.

What didn’t help was that I didn’t have much sleep last night. And it wasn’t just a case of tossing and turning, I was off on a few voyages too I was in Bolton last night. I’d gone to see a friend and had ended up at some crossroads not too far from his place. There was something that I had to do and that meant doing it in the college so I walked from the crossroads down the hill turning left down this steep hill through these roadworks and was nearly knocked over by a few bicycles, all this kind of thing. I ended up in Bolton town centre which was a seaport. There were loads of ships around and this huge festival taking place. I had a rough idea where the college was but I hadn’t seen any signs to it. When I reached the town centre I turned left to follow the river with all these fishing boats, even a little toy fishing boat with kids on it pretending to fish. There was a huge display of like artificial city walls with castles, fires and people running around waving a strange red and gold flag. I came to a street that was written in Basque. It said “street of the high college” which I imagined was the road that I wanted. It said “to the south college” also written in Basque even though this was at the north end of the town. I thought that I would go that way. On the way down I’d passed this area where they had loads of garden sheds installed and they were renting these out £48:00 per month for people to use as storage. I thought that that was a good idea for me if I go back, to rent a storage place there and I’d have everything that I needed at my disposal. According to my dictaphone Id walked 15 minutes and 47 seconds before I’d seen this sign to go to the college but it seemed like an awful lot longer than that. And what I couldn’t really understand was that I was so close to seeing Zero again but I turned away instead.

Later on I’d received a message to go to a scrapyard somewhere in the North Midlands in connection with my insurance company. I was in the Opel Senator. I arrived there and someone gave me the precise details of how to park – put the steering wheel at 111° then 1° the other way then 111° the other way. I ended up alongside a compound. While I was waiting a guy came over and opened the door to say something to me and some other guy came along and hobbled in. He said that he was going to Harwood in Essex. Then I realised what this was all about. I was part of some group that would take people to wherever they were going if it was on the way of a journey that you were actually doing. You would basically register your journey and someone would come along and add themselves in. This guy had been in a car crash and his car had been taken here after the crash on the motorway. Because I was going somewhere down south they had patched his journey in with mine and I was to take him home

Leaving the bed was rather difficult an it took me longer than usual to shake a leg. And after checking the mails and medication I selected the music for one of my future radio programmes before heading off to the hospital.

alfa romeo guiletta spyder tiensestraat leuven Belgium photo November 2021How long is it since we’ve seen an old car on these pages?

At one time we used to see them quite regularly but we haven’t seen one for a while, so when this Alfa Romeo Guiletta Spyder went past me in the Tiensestraat I had to take a photo of it.

It’s a shame that the photo has come out blurred but the car came upon me just as I walked around the corner and I didn’t have any time to prepare the camera. In fact, I was lucky that I had the camera to hand.

crane herbert hooverlaan leuven Belgium photo November 2021A little further on down the Tiensestraat I came into the Herbert Hooverplein.

Lifting equipment seems to be all the rage these days. We saw a cherry-picker yesterday in the Martelarenplein as we arrived, and this morning there’s a crane here on the corner of the Tiensestraat and the Herbert Hooverplein.

Mind you, I can’t think what they would be lifting around here that would need a crane of this size to lift it. It’s an impressive piece of machinery. However the lorry in the background with the scaffolding might give us a clue as to what is happening here.

interior of old shop rector de somerplein leuven Belgium photo November 2021There have been quite a few changes of occupancy in the Rector de Somerplein just recently, and there looks like there might be another one in the offing.

There’s another shop-cum-office premises here that has been looking rather shabby over the past couple of years and as I walked past today it looks as if someone is finally doing something about it.

They are busy ripping out the ceiling at the back but that’s all that I could see and there was no notice or anything on the door to hint at what was going on. So I’ll have to keep my eye open on this place and see how things develop.

site of marquee brusselsestraat leuven Belgium photo November 2021Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that last time that we were here there was some kind of marquee at the back of the velodrome on the site of St Pieter’s Hospital.

That has gone the way of the west right now and the place is almost empty. They have even taken away the potted palm trees that were there.

However, the guy who is there looks as if he’s doing something quite interesting although I can’t see what it is from here and I didn’t want to go over there and disturb him.

demolition site brusselsestraat leuven Belgium photo November 2021On the other side of the velodrome I couldn’t see much that has been removed since I was here last.

Not enough to create that extremely large pile of rubble though. And I seem to remember as well that there was a huge hole there too, so there’s more in that rubble than meets the eye.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall having seen the site plans for this area. It’s all going to be apartments, shops and a small park, so maybe the rubble is for use in the building programme that might be under way soon.

medieval tower demolition site brusselsestraat leuven Belgium photo November 2021While I’m here, I had to go and look at the old medieval tower.

Prior to the demolition of the hospital here I had no idea that this tower existed. Behind me alongside the river is 100 metres or so of city wall of this are and we’ve seen a few scattered bits and pieces here and there, but I thought that that was that.

At least they have done something to protect the tower from damage from all of the building work that’s being undertaken here and who knows? They might even restore it. It’ll be interesting trying to find the matching stone.

house building zongang leuven Belgium photo November 2021Another thing that regulr readers of this rubbish will recall seeing is the building that’s taking place in the Kapucijnenvoer that’s backing onto the Zongang.

There was a beautiful building that was uncovered when the previous building on that site was demolished and I’ve commented in the past that building a building of this type is going to make that nice little building really dark.

As you can see, I’m not wrong either. And as the sun sinks even lover in the sky it’s going to be even darker. There are building regulations in many countries about heights of buildings relating to widths of streets and I’m intrigued to know what the position is in Belgium.

But that’s fir another day. I pushed on towards the hospital.

roadworks monseigneur van waeyenberghlaan leuven Belgium photo November 2021Up at the top of the Monseigneur Van Waeyenberghlaan they were busy digging up the grass verge.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that several months ago we saw them digging up the verge just here and laying a pile of cables, so I wonder what has caused them to dig it up again.

When I arrived at the hospital, first port of call was the cardiologist. He ran exactly the same series of tests that I’d had in France a few weeks ago. And when he’d finished I could stagger off to the day centre for my usual treatment.

In the middle of that they called me back down to the cardiology department so I had to be uncoupled from my machine and go off on the Great Trek downstairs. After waiting for a while they gave me an electrography scan, just like I’d had at the cardiologist’s in France. And surprise, surprise. The results were the same too.

THe net result of all of this is that they are going to consider the results and see me in 4 weeks time when I’m next back for my treatment.

Back in the day centre they had an extreme amount of difficulty restarting the machine that pumps the plasma into me and as a result it was long past 18:00 when I finished there.

Having picked up my medication at the chemist’s (and doing my best to cut down on my medication I’m now up to 13 tablets each day) I headed off into town.

site of marquee velodrome brusselsestraat leuven Belgium photo November 2021A little earlier, we’d seen a man messing about at the back of the Velodrome in the Brusselsestraat.

Of course, it’s dark now when I came back this way and they have installed some form of lighting in the area. I wonder if he was actually connecting it up to the mains electricity just now.

It’s not exactly what I would call “artistic” but I suppose that it’s better than nothing. It’s just a shame that it’s lighting up a bed of compressed rubble but I don’t imagine that they will be doing much to it as there will be some permanent redevelopment here in due course.

christmas lights brusselsestraat leuven Belgium photo November 2021Back in the Brusselsestraat, going up the hill towards the Town Centre, they’ve installed the Christmas lights and they are now switched on.

Unfortunately they are the same as last year’s lights, and the year before, and so on und so weiter. It’s not just Granville that is lacking in imagination when they come to light up the town.

As you might expect, at this time of the evening my favourite supermarket was closed. I shall have to go elsewhere to buy my food for tea tonight and tomorrow. It’s a shame that I wasn’t able to make it to the big supermarket yesterday afternoon.

town hall grote markt leuven Belgium photo November 2021In the Grote Markt the Town Hall is all lit up again.

Usually, the colours of the lights change all the way through the ranges of blue and red, but as I watched the lights didn’t change colour at all. Maybe it will be different in a couple of days when everything is installed and working correctly.

The supermarket down the road is more expensive than the ones that I usually use, but at least it’s open so I can at least buy some food for tea. There’s not much choice either so I’m going to have to make do with falafel tonight and tomorrow

Now I’ve finished tea, I’m off to bed. It’s miles walking around one of the largest hospitals in the world and I’m up to 140% of my daily activity. No wonder I’m exhausted.

Here’s hoping for a good night’s sleep and that I’ll be fighting fit in the morning.

Friday 15th October 2021 – JUST FOR A CHANGE …

… I actually had a reasonable night’s sleep last night and I can’t say how much I appreciated it.

The night was reasonably early for a change and despite waking up once or twice during the night I slept right the way through to 09:50. And having left the heating on during the night, for once, the place was warm.

And despite everything, there was plenty of activity during that night that I didn’t realise. I must have travelled miles.

I was at a football match. Crewe Alexandra had drawn some team really exotic in the cup so I went there with Xavier. When we went to find a place to park we were right up to the gates and Xavier said that we were with the radio and let us in. We had to fight our way through the crowds to enter the stadium and I was trying to interview people from the away side and so on to find out their story but he wasn’t interested at all at interviewing anyone. he just wanted to watch the game and listen to the music but I thought for the radio that the people there were much more important than the game.

Later on I was watching another game of football last night – TNS v someone else. One of the players passed the ball back to the left-back of TNS but he wasn’t looking at the game. He had his back to it. The ball went out for a throw-in. There was a whole series of throw-ins and corners from that incident into the TNS penalty area. I was intrigued. There was bound to be a goal scored from this but for some unknown reason I switched the computer off. I then realised that there was something I hadn’t done so then I had to switch it back on again. Of course I missed the crucial moment of that game.

Later still I’d been seconded to the Customs and Excise and was going through the suitcases that had arrived on an aeroplane. I picked one out at random and it turned out to be Dominic Raab’s. he came wading over saying “you can’t do this to me. I’m a Government Minister and I shall report you” so I took out my notebook and asked him to repeat those words while I wrote them down. Then I went through his suitcase and found a dozen bottles of wine, everything. He was forced to stand there and try to sell them as passers-by to take through Customs. later on I went into the restaurant. It was someone’s birthday. I looked at all the food that had been laid out by the caterers. There was nothing there that I could eat. I went to find the kitchen supervisor. I asked the Security Guard where she was and he took me back into the meeting to speak to someone else. I said “this isn’t what I wanted. I wanted the kitchen supervisor”. The kitchen supervisor came with someone else who said “I know him. He’s been complaining about this for ages, telling me about this disease that he has and I know that he’s talking nonsense because I know someone else who has it and they don’t have to deprive themselves of anything like he says he has to” so the two of them just walked away and left me sitting there. In the end I was fed up of waiting for some developments so I walked off as well thinking about what my next step would be. All these people suddenly turned up on bicycles, hordes of them. Some were on tandems and some on these things that you sea in Blackpool where you can put 12 onto a bike, something like that.

After the medication I sat down and chose the music for the next batch of radio programmes and by the time that I’d finished later on in the afternoon I’d actually chosen the music for 5 programmes.

This included a pause for breakfast and a pause for lunch as well as a couple of coffee pauses.

Some of the stuff was quite complicated to do because I have several discs of all kinds of assorted music, several tracks that I wanted to use in order to break up the run of groups, and so I had to track down the songs, who recorded them and on which album they appear.

building work tiensestraat leuven belgium Eric Hall photo October 2021This afternoon I went for a good walk around the city centre to stretch my legs and to see what else was going on around the town that I had missed yesterday.

In the Tiensestraat there are several sites currently being redeveloped. On a couple of them there has been no activity since we last looked but at this one next the the chemist’s that I sometimes use, they are pressing on.

They have now added the cladding to the concrete front of the building – some white bricks or tiles which while not in keeping with the rest of the street are not as bad as they might otherwise have been.

herbert hooverplein leuven belgium Eric Hall photo October 2021Down the road in the Herbert Hooverplein they are slowly preparing for winter.

There’s usually a street market here but I’m later than usual going for my walk so they have all cleared off and gone home, leaving me all alone.

The fountain is switched off and the outside tables and chairs from the cafes have been taken back inside to hibernate until next Spring.

But what caught my eye was the spiral tree in the background just left of centre. If must have taken them a while to train that.

festival of the big bang university library monseigneur ladeuzeplein leuven belgium Eric Hall photo October 2021It looks as if we are going to be having another festival pretty soon.

All over town there are signs and advertising publicity like this large balloon outside the University Library advertising “The Town’s Festival Of The Big Bang”, and I’ve no idea what that might be because I’ve yet to discover a description.

All that I do know is that if it goes on for as long as they say, it won’t be much of a festival so I don’t imagine that i’ll be missing all that much.

installing decorations bondgenotenlaan leuven belgium Eric Hall photo October 2021Further on down the Koning Leopold 1 Straat and the Bondgenotenlaan, there’s yet more excitement.

They have a cherry-picker just here and they seem to be installing all kinds of decorations, like the skeletons for example. They must be preparing for Halloween because it’s far too early to be thinking about Christmas decorations.

But then again, I probably give some thought to Christmas decorations usually round about Christmas Eve. In fact, thinking on, I haven’t taken them down from last year yet.

building work bondgenotenlaan leuven belgium Eric Hall photo October 2021In the Bondgenotenlaan there’s some building work going on.

The brick building in the centre of the image has had all of its rear swept away – there’s only the facade still standing and that’s propped up with a big yellow steel framework.

That’s quite a common way of working in Belgium. It keeps the character of the street and of course, no-one can see what’s happening behind the facade.

There was quite a scandal about this in Brussels about 25 years ago. They slapped a preservation order on a building because of a magnificent spiral marble staircase but the developers simply kept the facade and swept away everything else.

Incidentally, that’s a common misconception with the Whitrope Tunnel on the old Waverley Line near Hawick in Scotland. Everyone in the area will tell you that it has a preservation order slapped on it, but the preservation order only applies to the facades or portals.

building work diestsestraat leuven belgium Eric Hall photo October 2021There’s more rebuilding work going on in the Diestsestraat as well.

last time that we were here we saw them making a start on a vacant site and over the past few weeks they seem to have pushed on quite rapidly with the job – not something to which I’m accustomed in Belgium.

This is the street where all of the cheaper shops might be found but there wasn’t anything in there today that interested me. I was looking for a plunger-operated coffee percolator but I was out of luck.

Well, I wasn’t, but I’m not going to pay €39:99 for one.

One of the things that I did was to buy a new rucksack. The big one that I have is starting to fall apart after all of the rough handling that it’s had for the last four years and this one that I bought was on special offer at €50:00. It’s of a reputable make and has a capacity of 65 litres.

All in all, I managed 5.7 kilometres without stopping for a breather. I know that the town centre is comparatively level so walking around isn’t as difficult as it is in some places, but even so it’s an impressive achievement considering the way that I’ve been feeling just recently.

This evening I finished off the last of the veggie balls with pasta and vegetables, and since then I’ve made a start on packing my things ready to leave tomorrow. I have a train leaving Brussels at 08:43 so I need to be up at 06:00 and well on my way down the road by 07:00.

It’s going to be a long day tomorrow.

Friday 20th August 2021 – WHEN WAS THE …

… last time that I actually threw away half a meal?

For breakfast I had just a slice of toast and I missed lunch too, so as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I must be sickening for something. That’s what usually happens when I go off my food.

Nothing but a slice of toast for breakfast can be explained by the fact that it was rather a late breakfast. The sound outside switched off at about 22:30, I had an early night and despite having to go for a ride on the porcelain horse early in the morning, it was about 10:00 when I finally crawled out from underneath the covers.

There had been plenty of time for a voyage or two during the night. I was told off last night for using the phrase “somewhere in Wales” to describe Rhyl. We were having a discussion about something that had happened and someone in a new radio show. When we were talking about it I happened to let that phrase go. A woman picked me up about this. I said to her “if you don’t like that phrase there will be a few other phrases later on that you will tell me off about. She came out with a couple of other phrases that she didn’t like me using as well. There was a man and a girl with me as well and I had the feeling that I was supposed to be really friendly with that girl but I can’t now remember how this started.

Later on I had my Mk IV Cortina and I wasn’t very happy with the void bushes on it. I’d replaced it twice and they were still not working so I decided to take it back to the garage where I had it from. That was in Pionsat but once again it was an enormous Pionsat with a big shopping area, crowds of people and a metro. It took me quite a while to work out which was the right garage. I left the Cortina there. They were very busy there and the guy was writing out notices for sale to stick in car windows and the woman was sticking them in the cars. They had an Austin A40 for sale as well that someone was trying out. I walked home and was just about to walk down onto the metro and my phone rang It was Liz saying “don’t you go looking for the keys?” I replied “yes” She said “you should have left them with the car shouldn’t you?” Just them Liz actually turned up and she walked with me back through some of the way that we had walked through some kind of building like an old access point to the metro. She was explaining that she was planning to buy it and this was what she was going to do with it which I thought was rather complicated and not particularly good but she seemed to be quite enthusiastic about it.

Even later I was going to a party somewhere so I was driving Caliburn. We were driving around the coast and all these ships – there was a huge queue of ships getting ready to leave the port, ships that I had never seen before. As we drove around the bay there was another ship there with a load of divers working from it. I wondered what was going on and I’d been taking plenty of photos of it. Then we turned up at this place where the party was taking place. I was in Caliburn following someone else. They had brought with them a pile of money in a jar, a pile of cards and a pile of envelopes, all from someone called Karla. She was saying that she was going to destroy the cards now that she was leaving but the envelopes would be a nice memento. I thought that this was the wrong way round, that you’d throw the envelopes away and keep the cards but apparently not. We went into this place and Terry was driving the other car. There wasn’t anywhere to park so he suggested that we should park somewhere else. I had a look and under a kind of hangar place there was room for about 30 cars but there were only 10 cars there so I could get Caliburn there quite easily. I couldn’t understand why he wanted to go and park somewhere else so I set about moving Caliburn in there to park.

Having typed out all of that the next step was to sort out the music for the next radio programme. And for a reason that I don’t understand, that took a lot longer than it ought to have done as well and I had to do quite a bit of searching to find the right sort of music

open air market closing down herbert hooverplein leuven belgium Eric HallLater on I headed into town for a wander round.

As regular readers of this rubish will recall, there is an open-air fruit and vegetable market in the morning on the Herbert Hooverplein. We’ve seen it quite often when we’ve been out early in the day but because of the time today, most of the stalls have gone and the last one is packing up.

There were a couple of shops that I wanted to visit, and ended up in Delhaize to buy some stuff for tea and the journey home tomorrow.

On the way back home I picked up my medication from the chemists. I’d left them the prescription yesterday but there was some stuff that they needed to make so I couldn’t take it away then.

Back here I crashed out on the sofa for a while and then did a little tidying up to prepare for leaving – but I’m going to be doing the rest of that tomorrow morning.

Just now I mentioned tea, and now despite it being quite early, I’m off to bed. I have a 04:30 start in the morning and a long way home so as it’s reasonably quiet, I’m going to make the most of it.

Thursday 18th August 2021 – THAT WAS A …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday 16th July 2021 – HOW LONG IS IT …

modern morgan 3 wheeler predikherenstraat Leuven Belgium Eric Hall… since these pages have featured an old car?

At one time it used to be quite regular but these days it’s a lot more rare than it ought to be. And unfortunately, this vehicle here isn’t as old as it looks either.

As I was wandering down the Brusselsestraat on my way home I happened to glance down the Predikherenstraat where I saw this.

At first I thought that my luck was in and it might have been a real Morgan three-wheeler but unfortunately I was not labouring long under a disillusion

modern morgan 3 wheeler predikherenstraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallOne glance at the engine was enough to tell me.

ThIs engine is not a nice big 998cc JAP V-twin but an S and S engine, which tells me that this vehicle is less that 8 years old.

And that’s rather a disappointment because I’m really looking forward to finding an original JAP-engined Morgan from the 1920s and 1930s.

So after having taken a few photographs and having had a chat with another admirer I made my way back into town.

But all of that comes later. We need to start at the beginning.

When the alarm went off I was up early this morning and after the medication I came in here to transcribe my dictaphone notes. I was very much persona non grata at some kind of do involving my family and a couple of girls from my class at Grammar School. I can’t remember what it was about but something came up about, was it Welsh Independence or something? They were all sitting there saying that it’s all been done wrong and if it had been organised correctly they should have done this and this and this. I replied “if you don’t like the way it’s done don’t vote for it” so they said they weren’t and it became something of a slanging match. The younger girl who was there was then talking about a few things “well so-and-so will be coming and we’ll be having to do this down in somewhere” something or other and I was of the opinion that she was having a visitor but I couldn’t understand what it was all about obviously, having been left out of the loop for half a story so I checked my diary. There was nothing in my diary so I thought that I’d better write down a few notes. I went to the drawer to find a pencil. My mother asked me what I was doing. I replied that I was looking for a pencil. I found one but it wasn’t sharpened so I needed to find the sharpener to sharpen the pencil to jot down a few of these notes.

As well as all of that I fell asleep too. Only for about half an hour or so but nevertheless …

At about 08:45 I headed out to the hospital for my appointment.

market herbert hooverplein Leuven Belgium Eric HallSeeing all of the people walking along the Tiensestraat loaded up with all kinds of shopping tells me that it’s market day today, as if I wouldn’t have known it anyway.

Here at the Herbert Hooverplein is where it all begins and it spreads out through the Ladeuzeplein and down to the Bondgenotenlaan, swallowing up that whole area.

In the past we’ve been for a wander around the market but unfortunately today we don’t have time. I’m on my way to the hospital for my dermatology session. And so I pushed on down the hill in the Tiensestraat towards the city centre

Halfway down the hill I was almost squidged by a lorry that was reversing back up again having presumably made a delivery there.

cycling energy sprint oud markt Leuven Belgium Eric HallThe previous day I’d noticed something unusual in the Oud Markt – some kind of shipping container with a display screen outside it.

Today it was open so I could see what was happening in there. What we have are a few exercise bikes in there and people can go for a ride on them. Presumably the distance and speed that they travel is added onto the figure shown on the screen.

Normally I would have loitered around to see of anyone was going to have a go and if the total on the screen would increase but there wasn’t anyone around and I couldn’t wait all that long for someone to turn up.

river dijle brusselsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallDown at the foot of the hill is the River Dijle.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, we’ve had an unbelievable amount of rain over the last 24 hours and it’s caused all kinds of devastation in the eastern part of the country.

The level of the river has risen quite appreciably since the rain started and even since I last saw it yesterday afternoon it’s risen by another few inches. Not quite as high as it was that day in 2016 when I was living here but another day or two of this weather will deal with that.

That rainstorm yesterday morning was terrific, in many senses of the word.

medieval tower sint pieters hospital brusselsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that yesterday I talked about the old medieval tower that has now been unveiled to public view following the demolition of Sint Pieter’s Hospital.

Yesterday I’d photographed it by accident because I didn’t know that it was there. But now I do I went there forewarned and forearmed this morning and found a spec where there was a much better view.

It’s protected by scaffolding and corrugated sheeting so that seems to imply that it’s not going to be demolished during the redevelopment of the site and it might even be restored as part of this project that’s ongoing with the city walls further along at the side of the river.

There is some talk about uncovering the river just here too, and that will be interesting if they do that.

bicycle racks kruisstraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallAnother thing that regular readers of this rubbish will recall is that a couple of months ago we saw them installing a set of bicycle racks in a couple of car parking spaces in the Kruisstraat.

At the time I remember speculating that these bicycle racks wouldn’t be receiving much use as there wasn’t a great deal of accommodation in the area

Nothing that I have seen since has changed my opinion. Despite there being space for about 40 bicycles here, there’s not even a handful and that’s how it’s been every time that I’ve walked past.

Sometimes it’s very difficult to actually work out what is going on in the minds of the City Fathers when they do things like this .

tactile pavement goedsbloemstraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallAnother thing that regular readers of this rubbish will recall seeing are the roadworks around the Monseigneur van Weyenberghlaan and the Goedsbloemstraat.

Last time we were here we saw them finishing off the Goedsbloemstraat, working on the pavement by the traffic lights. What they were doing, which they have now finished, was to install some tactile paving, the corrugated pavement that gives indications to blind people that they are approaching an obstruction.

Regular readers of this rubbish in one of its previous guises will recall that I once met the girl who designed this tactile paving and we had a little thing going on that unfortunately led nowhere

When I arrived at the hospital I was channelled into the Dermatology clinic where the young trainee doctor poked and prodded me and took sample of my skin. She left me alone for 40 minutes too during which time I … errr … dozed off.

When she returned she had a chat with me about my skin issues, gave me a few prescriptions and then told me to clear off. They will “be in touch”.

On the way back to my digs I went to retake the photos that I didn’t take yesterday.

new building zongang kapucijnenvoer Leuven Belgium Eric HallWhen the NIKON 1 J5 died on me, I was on my way to take a photo of the new building that’s going up between the Kapucijnenvoer and the Zongang.

And having complained quite long and quite loudly of the Byzantine pace of construction etc in Belgium, then perhaps I should try not to be so vocal in future because they are cracking on with this. It’s going up like a mushroom.

The big difference, I suppose, is that this is a private enterprise building a private building for resale to the general public, rather than a Public Authority work. The quicker it goes up, the quicker the developers can recover their cash.

Nevertheless I suppose that someone will remind me of this in 6 months time when the construction has stalled.

kids on bikes velodrome brusselsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallYesterday we went past this new velodrome that they have constructed. And what with the torrential downpour that we were having, there wasn’t anyone riding around it.

Today of course, the situation is different. The boards are now dry and all of the local kids have descended on the place. A few of them are gingerly feeling their way around whereas one or two of them really have got the hang of the principle of a banked velodrome and are pelting round it.

And like most things involving kids, it all ended in tears a few minutes later in a tangle of kids and bicycles as one came to grief and brought down half a dozen of the others. That was rather odds-on, wasn’t it?

market bondgenotenlaan Leuven Belgium Eric HallHaving dealt with the Morgan, the next couple of photos are going to be quite interesting.

This one here and the one below represent the same image more-or-less, but taken in different ways.

The first one is actually a still taken from a moving picture. I was interested to see what size the resolution of the video would be when I tried it on different screens, but the size of the screen didn’t seem to be an issue.

market bondgenotenlaan Leuven Belgium Eric HallNevertheless I took a still from the video to compare it to a still image.

As you can probably see, there’s quite a difference in quality as you might expect when the full-size images are compared, but reduced to the resolution that I use for publication, the difference is not all that much, which is a pleasant surprise.

Why can’t my dashcam produce images of this quality?

Feeling that I’d earned myself a little treat after my exertions, I stopped off halfway up the hill for an ice cream

medication Leuven Belgium Eric HallJust up the road is a pharmacy so I went there with my prescriptions to have them dealt with.

For someone who said that he wanted to cut down on his medication, just look at all of this. It’s going to be something of a logistics issue just taking this lot home with me on the train. It’s a good job that I have a decent shopping bag with me.

And the cost was astonishing, which is hardly a surprise when you see the amount that I was given. My bill at the pharmacy came to €253:00 which is the same as a year’s expenditure on food, I suppose. When I return home I shall have to send in my accounts to my insurers and see about some reimbursement.

This afternoon fighting off the sleep (not always successfully, I have to mention), after lunch I sorted out the music for three new radio programmes, so that’s another batch of all done and dusted. Things are doing rather well from that point but I need to have a go at a few live programmes.

nissan motor car tiensestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallSome of the medication wasn’t available at lunchtime so I had to go back before they closed in the evening to pick it up.

But the number plate of this car parked outside appealed to my rather juvenile mind. I was thinking that it would be appropriate for quite a few people whom I’ve encountered.

One (or rather, two) of the items that the chemist gave me filled me full of dismay. It looks as if we’re back on the elastic stockings too. More and more, I can see myself returning to early 2016 and that’s not very good news..

After tea, I’ve done some tidying up and washing up and now I’m off to bed. Early of course, but I have to leave my bed at about 04:30. So I’ll finish this off tomorrow on the train (if I don’t fall asleep on the way back) and post it on line tomorrow night.

You’ve heard that before, haven’t you?

Friday 21st May 2021 – THIS IS THE VIEW …

view from window gasthuisberg university hospital Leuven Belgium Eric Hall… from my window this evening.

And I bet that you are wondering where I am and why I’m not in my usual little room in the Dekenstraat. Well, the fact is that I’ve had a ‘phone call at 18:20 this evening “Mr Hall – you need to come back here. And bring your nightie and sponge bag.

So here I am, sitting in a hospital room gazing out of the window. I’ve just had a catheter fitted into my port, they’ve taken a blood sample and I’ve been poked and prodded about by various nurses and doctors, and we shall see what we shall see as the situation unfolds, because I’m going to be here for a few days apparently.

This morning I didn’t have too much of a lie-in because there’s a building site at the back of the building here and at 08:00 they started work with all kinds of machines going off. I gave up after about an hour and went to have my medication.

What I’ve been doing this morning is carrying on choosing the music for the next few radio programmes. Anything that will save time as far as I am concerned .

Nevertheless I knocked off halfway through in order to go to the shops.

triumph tr6 tiensestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallAs regular readers of this rubbish wil recall, I’m a big fan of old cars and I’ll always take a photo of one whenever I can when I see one, and so it’s only natural that when one goes past my nose down a quiet street, I’ll have the camera ready.

This one here in the Tiensestraat is the poor man’s E-type Jaguar, a Triumph TR6. And in British Racing Green, although I could never understand why they chose a colour that isn’t on the Union Flag for the British racing teams.

Made from 1968-1976 and fitted with Triumph’s straight-6 2.5 litre engine, over 90,000 of these were made, mainly for the export market.

Just over 8,300 were sold in the UK and such is their popularity that 4,000 are still on the road and 1,300 are declared as stored. And I bet that there are more than just a few that were stored off the road in sheds and barns before registration of stored vehicles became obligatory.

This one is carrying a Belgian registration, and the “O” in the front of its registration number means that it’s registered as an “old-timer” so it has a less-severe technical inspection but limits are applied as to its use. For example, emission standards and braking distances of modern cars couldn’t be matched by older vehicles even when they came off the factory production line.

market herbert hooverplein Leuven Belgium Eric HallDown in the Herbert Hooverplein my passage was blocked by the weekly market that sets up there.

It occurs once a week here and of course I had completely forgotten about it. Of course, the water fountain had been switched off so that the stall holders wouldn’t be havng a shower as they sold their wares.

One stall that I hadn’t noticed before was that there was a sweet stall there and I don’t have my usual bag of mints with me. There were none on the stall but they did have some of these jellied sweets that I like. They didn’t have any indication of what was in them but I know a place where I can buy gelatine-free jellied sweets.

market monseigneur ladeuzeplein Leuven Belgium Eric HallAnd so on my way to the shop that sells jellied sweets, I passed by the Monseigneur Ladeauzeplein and found a few market stalls set up there.

This is the first time that I’ve been out and about on a Friday at this kind of time so I hadn’t realised that the market stretched around here. But even so, one or two of them were packing up, and I imagine that the others won’t be long in going.

And as for that, I wasn’t long in going either. I went to the Kruidvat and bought myself a nice big bag of gelatine-free jelly sweets. They will last me for a week or so and that’s good. It’ll make a change from mints and eucalyptus sweets.

new building diestsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallAs regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I forgot to bring any spare clothes with me this week. And so I popped off to Wibra. But on the way I stopped off to have a look at this new building going on.

When I was in the Diestsestraat a few months ago they were demolishing a building and, in common with a lot of building work in Belgium, they keep the facade but stick something completely new behind ir, just as they are doing here.

A couple of doors away is Wibra, the shop that sells cheap clothes and I found a couple of cheap tee-shirts, a couple of undies and a couple of pairs of socks, all reasonable quality for the money that I paid.

While I was there I also picked up a tin opener. I have a small tin opener at home and after my exertions here over this last few visits, I’ll pack the small one that’s at home and replace it with this one here. It’s not as if €1:99 is a massive expense.

signs of donors to university library monseigneur ladeuzeplein Leuven Belgium Eric HallOn my way home I walked past the University Library in the Monseigneur Ladeuzeplein when this writing caught my eye.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, the University Library was gratuitously destroyed by the Germans during the Sack of Leuven and all of its contents, including books and papers going back to the earliest days of writing in Europe, were lost to humanity.

After the war many Universities from all over the world sent historic books to restock the library when it was rebuilt and it seems that the names of donors to the library were engraved into the fabric of the building. And I suppose that the donors to the library would have been absolutely mortified when the Germans came back in 1940 and burnt it down again.

Back in my room I had a nice hot shower, had a shave and changed my clothes so that now I look as human as I ever could. And this was followed by a very late lunch.

In the afternoon I sat down to carry on with what I was doing and unfortunately I fell asleep yet again. And that’s how the afternoon went – rotating between working and sleeping.

Some time later I managed to listen to the dictaphone for the previous night and found that there were two entries. I must have had quite a mobile night. It was the last day of our holiday on board THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR and for the last evening I was hoping to invite the girls to come and sit at my table with me for a final dinner. The only trouble was that there were 4 or 5 girls whom I liked and as usual I was caught in this wave of indecision about which one I would invite. In the end I didn’t invite anyone and I was just swept away in the crowd. When I mentioned it, it was to 2 girls who were together, whether one of them would like to but they pretended not to hear and were swept away in this crowd of people coming down this gangplank. I ended up with my meal crammed into this really uncomfortable place surrounded by all kinds of other people. No-one would make any room for me, anything like that so in the end I just threw my napkin down on the table and got up to walk out – something that I have actually been known to do in real life.

Later on, there was a huge pile of us and we’d been camping somewhere. I was on my own as usual, all round the Paris area and someone I was with suggested that I went to London where I could stay with someone for a few days and then come back. They said that I coud get a lift from this festival so I saw everyone off, my friends, and went back to where there was supposed to be a car but there were some people packing their things into it. I went over to them and asked them about “are they going near so-and-so”. They replied “yes” so I asked if I could cadge a lift. The first thing that the guy did was “those 3 packs of peaches for £0:49 – were they yours? Because I’ve eaten them”. I couldn’t remember whether they were or not but it didn’t really bother me too much. We got chatting while his wife went off doing things . He asked me where I was going but actually I didn’t know. I had to ring up in the morning to find the address. But by this time they would be on the road – they were planning to leave and drive through the night. I hoped that whoever it was was going to be expecting me and that I could find the place otherwise I was going to be rather foolish going all that way and getting lost like that. There was more to it than this but I just can’t remember it now. I can remember a bit about talking about going by bike somewhere to visit my friends in (wembley?) (Memling?) and they were saying that it was a bit far and they weren’t that energetic, something along those lines. But there was much more to it than this and I don’t remember it at all now.

All of this came to a halt when I had my phone call. I gathered up as much stuff as I could reasonably carry and headed off to the hospital.

roadworks amerikalaan franz tielemanslaan Leuven Belgium Eric HallIn the Brusselsestraat I walked past the building work that we had noticed yesterday on the corner of the Amerikalaan and the Franz Tielemanslaan.

They seem to have made some progress there, having covered the lump with cobbles and made a path out of bricks. This is starting to resemble a cycle pathway there and I’m wondering why if they could put down a nice brick surface there, why they couldn’t do that in the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan where they put down that horrible asphalt surface.

There is a Carrefour mini-supermarket just beyond where I’m standing and that’s just as well because the big Delhaize was closed and that was a disappointment. No vegan cheese then but I grabbed one of these honey loaf things and a couple of large packets of buildings. The vegan food at the hospital is sometimes quite questionable.

There was no-one at the registration desk when I arrived to I had to enquire at the information desk. I had to follow the light purple arrow to the lift at the far end of the hospital and then ascend to the 6th floor.

One thing about Covid is that now everyone is in a single room. Mine is nice and comfortable with a reasonable view. I’ve no idea how long I’ll be here, and neither does anyone whom I’ve seen. I suppose that things will become much more clear as time goes on.

Thursday 22nd April 2021 – THE BAD NEWS …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We came back here for a coffee and then Alison went off home. Having had some of her sweet potatoes, I just had a handful of pasta and vegetables before writing up my notes.
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Now I’m off to bed and with no alarm in the morning I’ll be having a lie-in. And quite right too. It always takes a lot out of me, my day at the hospital and with all of the walking that I’ve done today.

Thursday 31st December 2020 – BY THE TIME …

… that most of you read this, we will be in a New Year. 2020 will have ended and we’ll have 2021 to contend with. Many people are hoping that this New Year will be better than the last but that’s an optimism that I can’t share.

Especially for the Brits who not only have Brexit with which to contend but also a miserable figure of just under 56,000 new Covid infections and just under 1,000 deaths despite a lockdown. What’s interesting is that whereas in the USA they are taking almost no precautions whatsoever, the relative figures per 1,000 of the population are much less.

Historically, all of these previous viruses such as The Black Death, Cholera, Spanish ‘Flu have all come in several waves and there’s no reason to suppose that this is any different. So I don’t see this year as being any better than the last.

But why be so miserable? Let’s look on the bright side of life. At the hospital today they have told me that symptoms of the disease that I have are now being traced in the kidneys. So you won’t have too much longer to suffer this depressing diatribe by the sound of things. And that’s enough to cheer anyone up, isn’t it?

monseigneur van waeyenberghlaan leuven belgium Eric HallWhile you admire the snail-like (lack of) speed of the new sewer and roadworks in the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan that seem to be taking for just about ever, I myself managed to crawl out of bed to beat the 3rd alarm this morning.

And that’s not something that happens every day these days, is it? And considering that I had another miserable night where I took about a week to go off to sleep, it’s pretty good going for right now.

First task of course was to listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night. And to my surprise, I’d covered the miles yet again.

monseigneur van waeyenberghlaan leuven belgium Eric HallI’d started the night with all of us queueing at the ferries last night with lorries. I was in an artic with a big flat trailer and I’d managed to get my lorry down into the hold so when it came to driving onto the ferry I walked on behind the lorry in front and just stood behind it so as to mark my place. There was a big discussion about the ferry – whether we were to go from Grande-Synthe or Petite-Synthe and where it was situated, all this kind of thing, but I’ve forgotten it all now

Later on during the night I had a girl with me, a young girl and I don’t know very much about her at all. The 2 of us were talking about things and she was saying how she didn’t think much of prefects or housemasters or such. She was working herself into such a state that as someone walked past who was a prefect or whatever she just hit them with this iron crowbar and literally split their skull and knocked them to the ground. I picked up the girl and dragged her away and took her to another room where I phoned the police and ambulance to come to the victim. I was really wondering what I was going to say about this and my part in getting the girl all worked up like that.

monseigneur van waeyenberghlaan leuven belgium Eric HallHaving transcribed the dictaphone notes I went and made some sandwiches for lunch as I was to have a busy day today.

That was followed by a clothes-washing session and then a shower. I have to make sure that I’m clean, smell nice and look pretty for the nurses there.

By the time that I’d arranged all of that, I was starting to run behind and I had to put my skates on. Luckily the rain that had awoken me at some point during the night had stopped and it was comparatively dry outside.

Surprisingly the streets were totally deserted. There wasn’t even a handful of people out there on the streets.

hospital sint pieters brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric HallMy route went as usual down into town, through the centre and out along the Brusselsestraat heading west (or going west of course).

Over the past year or so we’ve seen them demolishing the Hospital Sint Pieters, the hospital that was apparently built for the French community in Flanders but never used due to them all decamping to Louvain-le-Neuve. The demolition has been going on for so long now with so little progress being made that it must be costing them a fortune.

As I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – edMY OLD NEXT-DOOR NEIGHBOUR would have had that down in the twinkling of an eye, never mind over a period of more than a year.

They don’t make them like that any more

parking sint jakobsplein leuven belgium Eric HallSomething that’s been going on for even longer has been the digging and subsequent filling-in of the big hole in the car park in the Sint Jakobsplein.

It seems that at last they have filled in the hole and resurfaced it, not that they have made a particularly good job of it. But it’s still not available for parking by the general public as it’s all fenced off still.

It seems to me that it’s now being used as the storage area for the equipment and material for the work that’s going on in the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan and the Sint Hubertusstraat.

sint hubertusstraat leuven belgium Eric Hall and so it seems like this area of the car park will be unavailable for the next forever, I imagine because they don’t seem to be in any rush.

Here in the Sint Hubertusstraat, the lower part of the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan the repairs are also a long way from being completed and while that vehicle is making a valiant attempt to pass down the length of street it’s making heavy weather of the journey.

So I pushed on up through the roadworks that you saw earlier, and arrived at the hospital with 10 minutes to spare, the time for which was lost trying to work out where I was supposed to go.

And if you think that the town was empty, the hospital was even more empty too. There were very few people wandering around there and hanging around waiting for appointments.

Eventually I was seen by the student at the Kidney department following the x-rays that I had a while back. She interrogated and examined me, and then she went off to talk to the Professor who is in charge of that section.

He came back and told me the news that I mentioned earlier, which isn’t the best news that I’ve had so far. The plan is that they will write to me to give me an appointment when they have the results of the samples that she took from me.

Then I went upstairs to the Oncology department for my usual treatment. I wasn’t long there, with no visit from a doctor, so it wasn’t long before I was allowed to leave. And then I had to go back for a prescription for some of my medication. Abd by the time that I’d picked that up, the chemist’s was closed – early for New Years Eve of course.

Universitair Ziekenhuis gasthuisberg leuven beigium Eric HallOn the way into the hospital I noticed that there was a Christmas tree outside the hospital door.

By the time that I left, it was going dark and so the tree was all illuminated. The decorations were not exactly inspiring but still I suppose I ought to take a photograph of it for the record seeing as I’m not getting about as often and as far as I would have done had things been different.

It was quite cold outside now so I wasn’t going to hang about very long. I headed off down the street back towards town and my lodgings.

christmas lights brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric HallMy way home retraced the steps that I had taken on the way out to the hospital.

By now it was quite dark and the Christmas lights in the town were illuminated. Here in the Brusselsestraat from roughly where I took the photo of the Sint Pieters Hospital and looking to the west there was a good view of the lights, or at least, such lights as there were here this year.

Apparently it’s not just Granville that is economising on its Christmas displays this year. The lights in Leuven aren’t all that much to write home about either.

christmas lights brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric HallFrom the same spot looking eastwards back to the town centre there are more Christmas lights to see.

But once again, I’m rather disappointed by the lights that are here in the Brusselsestraat. Of course, it goes without saying that with all of the uncertainty, the loss of revenue and the increased expenditure due to the current situation, there are going to have to be economies made here and there with regard to the budget.

Nevertheless it’s a shame that they have decided to do this with the Christmas decorations It’s the kind of thing that would cheer up everyone and bring a little happiness into people’s lives in these grim times

christmas lights stadhuis grote markt leuven belgium Eric HallIn the background of the previous photo you saw the spires of the Stadhuis – the Town Hall in the Grote Markt lit up by strings of LED lights. And so with the aim of wanting to see them in all their glory, I went home that way.

In previous years they have been multicoloured lights that change colour at regular intervals and make a rather beautiful spectacle. But not this year, unfortunately. We have a golden yellow light and that seemed to be that for the time that I spent looking at it. Not a change of colour anywhere.

Beautiful that it is, it’s again something of a disappointment. But I’ll go out tomorrow evening after dark for another good look around and see how the rest of the town centre looks.

christmas lights herbert hooverplein leuven belgium Eric HallIt’ll have to look better than the Herbert Hooverplein because this really is disappointing.

No Christmas market, which is no surprise, but they could still have done something better than this. And if you are dismayed by this, the decorations and lights in the Tiensestraat were non-existent. I came on home.

Back here I crashed out for a while and then made tea. Nothing at all exciting – just pasta and tinned veg, followed by tinned apricot and some Soya strawberry dessert stuff.

Having written my notes, I’m off to bed, ready (I don’t think) for the New Year.

To all of you, I hope that this year will be better than the last year and that we can move about once more. I wish each and every one of you everything that you wished for everyone else last year, wishes for Brexiters and Trump supporters excluded of course.

Take good care of yourselves and we’ll see each other again – hopefully not at Philippi

Saturday 31st October 2020 – I DID HAVE …

… my lie-in this morning.

Until all of about 10:00 too. Mind you, seeing as I was still up and about at 03;30 it wasn’t all that much of a lie-in today. Not at all. For some unknown reason, despite my exhausting day I just couldn’t go to sleep.

Anyway, when I listened to the dictaphone this morning- or what was left of this morning – there was some stuff on there from yesterday too. So first thing that I did was to add all of that into yesterday’s entry. Then I could concentrate on where I’d been last night and, more importantly, who came with me.

There was some kind of football match going on last night, a team of grown-up men if you like and they were playing in the Cup against another team. This other team sent out its juniors to face them for some unknown reason and Zero was there playing centre-forward. There were two matches that they had to play and this team of kids won them both, with Zero scoring a couple of important goals playing centre-forward. It’s nice to see her around on my travels.

Later on I was in a van or pickup, presumably Strider and I was waiting at some traffic lights. There were three or four people behind me. I was editing Strider’s signwriting while I was waiting at the lights. I could do that with the computer and it would change all over the van. I was busy doing that and the lights changed so I pulled off. There was a big pickup and another van behind me. We advanced up to another road junction and turned right I suddenly realised why this road had so much traffic on it. It was the main road from Ottawa to Québec and I’d just turned off the main road from Montreal to the east so it’s bound to be extremely busy here. It went through a beautiful pass, a big main road going through this beauiful pass and Québec City was just at the end of it. I thought “why didn’t I come this way before because it seems to be so much quicker. The I realised that going home from Adventure Canada the coach had gone this way; He went to the other side of Ottawa to drop off Castor and Pollux and then turned round and gone back to Ottawa to drop off their grandparents. That seemed to be such a sensible way of doing things and I wondered why I had never thought of doing that before either. And all the time I was wondering what these people in these vehicles were thinking with Caliburn’s signwriting changing just like that while I was either parked at those lights or starting to drive away.

There’s something else that spun into my mind as well, to do with a river. There was a girl doing something in this river, it might have been Zero or it might have been Castor. We were all alongside his river – there was something going on on it and I can”t remember very much now. Later on they drained the river and I started looking on this river bed for something that was concerning this girl. I was chatting to a few of the organisers and they were saying something like “yes well someone found something and we saw them using it”. I wondered whether it might have been this girl who had found it without actually telling me. That was a big disappointment for me because I was hoping to find it and give it to her as a way of drawing her attention to me. But I don’t remember very much about this – it was all very confusing.

And there was far more to this series of voyages too but seeing as you are probably eating a meal right now I’ll spare you the gory details.

After hat, I went and had a shower and washed my clothes. I need to look as pretty as I can s eeing as I’m staying here until at least Friday. I say “at least” because with more and more European states closing their borders to travel it might not be as easy as I think it might be to return home.

And while we’re on the subject of lockdowns … “well, one of us is” – ed … the Tory Party’s social media site had a post pinned to the top accusing Keir Starmer of “playing party politics with people’s lives” by demanding a second lockdown. It mysteriously disappeared earlier this morning and then later this evening the Tory Party announced the same measures that the Labour Party had demanded and which they had criticised.

You really couldn’t make this up.

After lunch I sat down here for a few minutes – and promptly crashed out. A really deep and depressing and disappointing sleep that lasted for almost an hour.

skip windmolenveldstraat leuven belgium Eric HallOnce I pulled myself together I went out for an afternoon walk around.

Not that I went very far before I came to a halt. There’s been a building site at the back here that has been abandoned for longer than I can remember and which had become a local rubbish dump.

A few months ago I noticed that it had been fenced off, and today I noticed that there was a skip there loaded up with much of the rubbish that had been abandoned. It might be that work is goign to restart there sometime soon and if do, that should be very interesting.

Maybe it’s going to be an extension of this place.

If you’re wondering about the photos by the way, the battery in the NIKON 1 J5 has gone flat on me yet again.

It’s a good job that I had my phone with me right now.

demolition and rebuilding tiensesteenweg leuven belgium Eric HallSo having dealt with that, I pushed onto the Tiensesteenweg where I was nearly squidged by a kid on a scooter.

In the street there’s more stuff of interest going on. There’s a building here that’s been knocked down. The site is fenced off and there’s some heavy machinery there. That presumably means that they are going to be rebuilding something else in its place.

In fact, there were several places up and down the Tiensesteenweg where there is redevelopment taking place. Despite the virus and the retraction of the economy, it still seems to be “full speed ahead” at the moment in this respect.

photographer cardinal ladeuzeplein leuven belgium Eric HallDown the Tiensesteenweg I went, into the Herbert Hooverplein and then into the Ladeuzeplein towards the main shops.

Down at the bottom end of the Square there was a couple having fun with a camera and tripod. One of the things that I seem to do is to spend a lot of my time taking photos of people taking photos.

And for a change, there weren’t too many people about here today. It seems that people here might be taking this health crisis seriously which can only be good news. It won’t disappear if people don’t treat t with respect and obey the rules.

market brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric HallMind you, that wasn’t the case here. The maket in the Brusselsestraat is still open and there’s even more chaos than normal.

This is what I don’t understand. With a shelf-life of just 14 days, thus virus could be halted if they simply had three weeks of draconian restrictions. Half-hearted measures are not going to be good for anything.

And on the market there was a stall selling bratwurst – ed and that got me thinking. The idea of making sausages out of unruly children might be the answer to the post-Brexit food catastrophe in the UK. Perhaps they need to think about that to go along with hedgerow foraging and apple scrumping.

grote beguinhof leuven belgium Eric HallThere was some more shopping that I needed to so for a change I decided to go on to the Carrefour supermarket on the edge of town.

My route took me down through the Grote Beguinhof, the ancient area on the edge of the city which were formerly a kind of almshouses. Having been derelict for years they are now student accommodation for the University here and it really is a beautiful area.

It’s a pity that it didn’t become private accommodation because an apartment in here would be wonderful. I would be right at home here.

river dijle leuven belgium Eric HallThere’s a dual carriageway not too far away from here and a subway takes pedestrians and cyclists underneath.

But the River Dijle flows along right by here and it was looking really nice at this time of the year with the leaves almost all off the trees.

At the Carrefour there was plenty of vegan food, much of which was reduced so I stocked up with a few extra items for my diet. But looking at the selection, I decided that I would come here again the next time that i come to Leuven. There’s much more choice here.

stadion den dreef leuven belgium Eric HallOn the way back I went to have a look at the Stadion den Dreef.

Yes, I’m definitely missing my live football here. OH Leuven were promoted to the Premier Division for this season but with matches being played behind closed doors, there won’t be any chance of seeing them again for a while.

But there was football on the internet so I came home;

In the Welsh Premier League we were treated to Haverfordwest County against Bala Town. Haverforwest were promoted this year and I’ve seen them a couple of times this season.

Each time that I’ve seen them they have played quite well and deserve their mid-table position. They gave leaders TNS a fright the other week and this week we were entertained to an exciting 1-1 drawn. And had they been more clinical up front, they might have had more of it.

Tea was burgers and pasta with tomato sauce followed by tinned peaches and ice cream.

Bed-time now because I’m going out for the day tomorrow so I need to be on form. Let’s hope that it’s stopped raining.

Friday 24th January 2020 – THAT ISN’T …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then the football. Rhydaman v Caernarfon Town.

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

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

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

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

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

ZZZZZZZ.