Tag Archives: kaatje

Thursday 10th February 2022 – I’VE HAD SOME …

… really bad news today at the hospital. Kaatje, who is my social welfare adviser, is leaving her job at the end of March. She’s taking a year out to go travelling and to see where she’ll end up.

It goes without saying that I told her that if she ends up in Normandy she can pop in for a coffee but I really suspect that my visit here in March will be the last time that I’ll be seeing her.

That is really disappointing. I really quite liked her.

But that’s for later. Let’s begin at the very beginning.

This morning when the alarm went off at 07:30 I fell out of bed quite rapidly even though I didn’t feel much like it.

And when I saw the dictaphone I could understand why. There are no fewer than 10 sound files on the machine from last night. That means that I was dictating something into it on average every 45 minutes.

No wonder I was exhausted!

After the medication I sat down and chose the music for two of the next batch of radio programmes, seeing as I didn’t have anywhere to go this morning. One was more difficult than it might have been because a file or two that I wanted to use were corrupt.

What I had to do was to track down a copy of each one, download it, convert it to *.mp3 and then edit it ready for use. And seeing as this computer only has 8GB of RAM instead of the 32GB of RAM in the big machine back home in the bedroom, it took much longer than it otherwise might have done.

There was time for a shower and to wash my clothes and then to make my sandwiches ready to set off for the hospital.

Taverne Universum herbert hooverplein leuven belgium Eric Hall photo February 2022Down the Tiensestraat in the rain I went, as far as the Herbert Hooverplein.

On the corner of the square is the Taverne Universum and we’ve seen this on several occasions over the last few visits here, all covered in scaffolding and its protective cover to protect passers-by from showers of slate and clouds of cement.

Judging by the rubble chute coming from one of the windows and leading into the skip, it looks as if whatever work is being done is being done on the inside of the building and so unfortunately we won’t be able to see what it is that they have been doing.

But I carried on down the hill and through the town centre, with nothing at all going on to distract me from my purpose of reaching the hospital before I ran out of steam.

footpath velodrome brusselsestraat oude lievevrouwstraat leuven belgium Eric Hall photo February 2022Mind you, at what is referred to as the velodrome in the Brusselsestraat I came to a halt as I’d noticed something that had changed.

People were passing down by the side of where they erect the marquees for events every now and again, and a closer look at the situation reveals that the fence at the bottom of the site bordering the Oude Lieve Vrouwstraat has been moved.

That means that people can now pass from here into the latter street, with the idea, I suppose, that it will become a formal pathway in due course. Whether it remains or not once the proposed redevelopment takes place remains to be seen.

demolition site brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric Hall photo February 2022A little further on down the street at the other side of the Velodrome, the piles of soil and rubble are still here. No-one has taken them away.

The digger on top of the pile doesn’t seem to be contributing much to the general nature of the site and further to the demolition of St Pieter’s Hospital on which we are standing right now, the demolition of the building over on the right seems to have stopped.

One part of it has come down, as we can tell, right behind the digger but despite the passage of time no further demolition has taken place.

As I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … if the buildings around here are going to stay then they need to be tidied up because I can’t think that anyone paying the kind of price that they will be required to pay for an apartment here will be happy with the view that they will have.

medieval tower demolition site brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric Hall photo February 2022While we are here, we’ll have to check on the medieval tower that was uncovered when they demolished the hospital.

It’s been covered up for the last few months though, in scaffolding with a roof on top and with netting around the outside, presumably to protect it from the work that’s going on all around it.

But it’s the piles of rubble that are intriguing me. If they are serving no purpose I would have expected them to have been taken away a long time ago. But if they are to be used in the regeneration of the site then they need to get a move on before the rain washes it all away.

medieval tower handbooghof leuven belgium Eric Hall photo February 2022Last time that I took a photo of the old medieval tower I mentioned something about the view behind me.

That reminded me today that maybe I ought to take a photo of the view behind me so that you can see what I mean about the old medieval walls there in the Handbooghof.

All of that section of the city wall, such as it is, is under repair at the moment as you can see. And not before time as I’ve posted a few photos of this part of the wall showing its deplorable condition.

We can’t see what they have been doing because of the wall that they have erected in front of it so we’ll have to wait for a while until the wall has gone before we can examine their handiwork.

building site kapucijnenvoer leuven belgium Eric Hall photo February 2022From there I pushed on along the street and round the corner into the Kapucijnenvoer.

There are a couple of building sites on which we have been keeping an eye over the last few months. This one, backing on to the Zongang, was at one time proceeding rather quicker than I would have expected, being Belgium, but things have slowed down just recently.

The windows are now fitted, but seeing all of the gaps around them shows the quality of the workmanship in new buildings these days. They’ll stuff the joints full of expanding foam and and cement over it, and then wonder why in 10 years time they are having water infiltration issues.

building site kapucijnenvoer leuven belgium Eric Hall photo February 2022The other building site in the Kapucijnenvoer is further down the street on the other side of the road.

This is going to be some massive undertaking judging by the amount of concrete that has gone into it.

They are now at the stage of installing the vertical dividing walls. We can see some of the concrete reinforcing matting that has already been fitted, waiting for the shuttering to be installed.

The walk up the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan was a nightmare this afternoon. I wasn’t in any kind of mood for that.

What didn’t help was that seeing as it is February, I was dressed in my winter clothing, but the temperature was 12°C and I was overheating. It really was a most uncomfortable climb up the hill.

digging up the pavement monseigneur van waeyenberghlaan leuven belgium Eric Hall photo February 2022We’ve seen this in several occasions just recenly.

At the top end of the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan a few months ago they were digging up the verge and laying an electric cable. Since then they have dug it up a couple of times since to presumably repair what it is that they damaged on the previous occasion that they dug it up.

It’s always the final couple of hundred yards that finishes me off because it becomes steeper and steeper the higher up you go and there’s a part by the bus station that must be at 45 degrees.

That’s the straw that always breaks the camel’s back.

1st buds 2022 universitaire ziekenhuis leuven belgium Eric Hall photo February 2022A little earlier I mentioned something about the temperature today and how we don’t seem to have had anything like a winter.

And here are the first buds that I have seen so far in 2022. This is ridiculously early but nevertheless it underlines the fact that the winters, such as they are, are warming up these days and nature is responding earlier and earlier The first buds that I saw in, for example, 2019, WERE ON 8th MARCH.

At the hospital I was surprised that the doctor actually came to see me before the nurse could couple me up to the machine that they use.

The doctor was another one of these very keen, very helpful, very enthusiastic types and we had a very long chat. Once again, the question of Counselling reared its ugly head and as I said last time, I would hate to be the person who draws the short straw and has to probe the depths of my subconscious mind.

The big issue is that my heart and my knee are giving me major problems, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall. Apparently I am doing all of the right things and “everything will improve if you just give it time”.

However, time is something that I don’t have. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that with the main illness that I have people start to die off after five years and no-one has lived longer than 11 years. I was diagnosed with it 6.5 years ago and judging by some of things that were going on in the past, I’ve had it a lot longer than that.

So basically I’m living on borrowed time as it is and I don’t have the time for the heart and the knee to improve.

And that’s probably the root of all of the frustrations that I’m feeling right now.

The good news (for there is some) is that I can abandon two of my medicaments. I think that that brings me down to 12 per day now, a couple of them more than once a day.

There was the dictaphone to listen to, as I mentioned earlier. There was something to do with a group of people and a guy who was running it but whether they were all colonists or something I don’t know. Something had happened and gone wrong and all the people had overpowered him. He put up a heck of a fight but nevertheless they brought him down to the floor and were sitting on him etc. There was some woman in charge of the operation and the guy was pleading with her “let me go, let me go, give me another chance and I’ll sort things out”. I was listening to this somehow, I’m not sure how, thinking “yes, we’ve heard all this before and that it as high time that these people took matters into heir own hands and sorted out their own freedom in their own way”.

There was something else going round the Social Network from the Open University about some illness or other so I posted on there that my partner had had cancer and died and a couple of years later I’d developed leukemia so the moral of this story is “if you have something to do, do it and don’t wait”. Immediately 2 people entered into conversation with me via private chat. One was someone from the Auvergne like a German friend of mine but it wasn’t him and the second person was someone I knew once in Northampton. The result of this was that I was up in the North-west of England and he came along and picked me up. There was someone else there as well so there were three. I knew that he lived somewhere on the coast of Scotland, and it turned out that it was at Ardrossan but it was no Ardrossan that I ever knew. When we arrived we drove under the Admiralty Arch and I thought that this would be a nice place to photograph, the arch and its explanatory panel. We ended up in his house. His kitchen was in a glass conservatory. We could see the harbour and the storm and the boats being tossed about by the waves and lost in the spray. He made himself some toast and didn’t offer it to anyone. We were there chatting about not very much. Someone asked me if I had seen the dog of something travelling south so I said “no”. They explained that it was some kind of wind phenomenon. Strangely enough, at that moment I awoke and I could smell toast al the way through the building where I was staying.

We were also in Paisley last night but it was nothing like any Paisley I ever knew but surprisingly it was associated with Morton Football Club. There had been someone who had died, some respected senator or some such and a big funeral had been organised for him. We were up there, three of us again, driving around in my car. At the back of the town centre was acres and acres and acres of demolition sites where all the old tenements had been knocked down. While we were driving around one of them we came across loads of cars from the 1950s that had been dumped and vandalised. It was very strange in these modern times to have cars like this lying around on waste ground. We did a U-turn but somehow managed to become stuck in the demolition site of a factory but extricated ourselves and went back and I tried to take a photo. First of all I couldn’t get the aspect right for this old Ford Consul Mk II, an early model, not the 375. I couldn’t make this photo focus on what it was that I was wanting and I couldn’t actually see the car at one time even though it was quite clear on this demolition site that we had driven past just now. All of a sudden the camera began to malfunction and nothing was happening at all. The girl with me was becoming rather impatient. In the meantime a woman came by with 2 tiny children. One was in a blue and white hooped top and the other wasn’t. I said something to this little kid about “you don’t want to be wearing that kind of clothing around here. It should be blue and white (or do I mean black and white, the colours of St Mirren who play in Paisley?). His mother laughed and said something and wandered off. I was still messing around with this camera and this girl was becoming very impatient. She said “can’t you fix it?”. I replied “yes, if I had somewhere clear and plenty of room etc in which to work”. She replied “let’s go into this house”. It was a house that we weren’t quite sure if it was abandoned, empty or so on. I thought “I’m not going in there to strip down my camera. You never know who is going to come in”. But she was extremely adamant. In the end I said “I’ll sit on the edge of the pavement and do it” which I thought was a good compromise but she was still going on about going into this house and that was the last thing that I wanted to do

There was also something about some Glasgow family appearing on the TV. There were loads of outcries about how they didn’t want this family representing them on the UK stage somewhere. Some foreign Government going on about how they don’t want these Lefties coming along invading their country from the UK.

I’m not sure whether I dictated something about our Welsh class where I came back in and they were listening to all varieties of music and said that you each have to choose 10 songs so we can stream them. I asked “how do you mean? I have to download off the internet or from my own personal collection?”. They replied “however you like” and gave me the settings that you have to use. At first I couldn’t think of a ten that I would record because I would want to be using my style of music but the others wouldn’t like that. There had to be some kind of compromise somewhere. In the end I managed to sort out 10 of them including ZERO SHE FLIES and GRASSHOPPER
which as regular readers of this rubbish will recall play some kind of rôle in my voyages during the night. They were talking about the door handle that used to stick but “we’ve fixed that now so there’s no problem there”. I asked them what they had done but they weren’t too keen to tell me but they said that the cuckoo clock had gone which I thought was a real shame. They said “there was something the matter with it and Mike took it away” because he was in charge of all of this. I was hoping that it would find its way back sometime soon.

When they threw me out of the hospital, Alison came to pick me up and we went round to her house and cooked tea while I cuddled a cat. We also had a very long chat which passed much more time than expected and so it wasn’t until late that I returned back here.

No alarm in the morning, what with no hospital appointments, so I’m having a lie-in. That is, always assuming that my night isn’t as disturbed as last night’s was. 10 sound files is an impressive number and must be a record – a record that I don’t want to break.

Unless I’m accompanied by TOTGA, Castor and Zero of course, and then I can go for as many rambles as I possibly can.

Sunday 23rd May 2021 – YOU WOULD HAVE …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday 25th March 2021 – WHAT A HORRIBLE …

… night that was!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday 4th November 2020 – AS SEEMS TO BE …

… usual these days, I managed to miss the third alarm again. Not by much, I have to say, but enough to disappoint me yet again.

Plenty of stuff on the dictaphone, which I’ll transcribe in due course, but first of all I had things to do; And by the time that I was ready to go out, I’d chosen all of the tracks for the next radio programme (well, the first ten of course) and combined them in pairs.

Due to issues about the program that I use to prepare my notes, I couldn’t go any further than than right now. By now it was time to go out.

river dijle minderbroerstraat leuven belgium Eric HallThis morning I was to meet Alison in the Kruidtuin – the Botanical Gardens – so I headed off up into town.

My route went through parts of the town where I don’t normally do, and found another bridge over the River Dijle that I hadn’t noticed before, this time in the Minderbroerstraat.

Alison and I went for a good walk around and stopped off for a take-away coffee. The town was pretty deserted and gave me the impression of one of those bad B-movie westerns where you walk round a corner to find a tumbleweed blowing across your path.

We retraced some ofmy steps from yesterday where I’d seen bits of the city that Alison hadn’t seen and then went back to her car.

She dropped me off at Castle Anthrax where I went for my Appointment with Doom. And the little student nurse that attended to me can soothe my fevered brown anytime she likes, even if the did have to have a couple of goes to couple me up to my perfusion under the supervision of an experienced nurse.

She’s only been here a week, poor thing, but she won’t improve unless she has plenty of practice, and she can practice on me again

Kaatje came to see me too and we had a long chat. What with her and this new student nurse, after all there have to be some consolations with being ill.

One of the things that Kaatje and I talked about was this virus. She’s of the same opinion as me, in that the low death rate right now compared to how it was at the beginning is the fact that with more tests being carried out these days, more people are being diagnosed with the disease even though they aren’t suffering from it.

Previously, people would only to go seek medical attention if they were really bad and for a mild attack, they would just shrug it off.

However, one thing that they are noticing now in the hospital is a dramatic rise in the number of people with breathing issues. It seems that people who were infected with the illness who didn’t seek treatment at the time have now developed further symptoms several months further on down the line.

As for me, the treatment that I had last time must have done some good because my blood count went up over the last 4 weeks to 9:0. It’s been a long time since it’s been that high.

roadworks monseigneur van waeyenberghlaan leuven belgium Eric HallWhen they threw me out I headed back down the hill for the town and home.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that over the last few months thet have been replacing the sewers in the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan and they had a digger working here last time we came past.

That’s another one of those tasks that seems to have gone on for ever and it’s far from finished as you can see. But the pile of roadstone that’s been deposited here at the top of the road by the roundabout looks optimistic.

roadworks monseigneur van waeyenberghlaan leuven belgium Eric HallFurther down the street, beyond the ring road, they seem to have made even more progress.

They are now beginning to put in the kerbs and what I imagine will be the cycle track. And it will look so much better when it’s finished with all of the nice trees growing here. It’s a shame that they can’t put more trees in other places where they have been relaying the roads.

And it doesn’t look as if they are going to be too long in dealing with this bit too – and about time too, I reckon.

roadworks sint hubertusstraat Goudsbloemstraat leuven belgium Eric HallEver since at least the new year thay have been digging up the crossroads at the junction of the Sint Hubertusstraat and the Goudsbloemstraat to install some kind of lmportant storm drain connection;

And that work is still under way too and it’s far from being completed. It looks as if it’s going to be going on for ever. The work has extended all the way down the St Hubertusstraat by now, as far as the Kapucijnenvoer.

It makes me wonder just how far they are going to extend this work. They would presumably have to dig up the Kapucijnenvoer in order to make a connection for the drains at least.

roadworks parking sint jacobsplein leuven belgium Eric HallOne task that looks as if it’s almost finished has been the big hole that they made in the car park in the Sint Jacobsplein.

We’ve been watchng that for the last year or so and I’ve been looking forward to going for a walk over there. Over the passage of time the surface was very uneven and it needed a good levelling out.

But that’s something for another time unfortunately. They might have finished the work but it’s still fenced off. It looks as if they are using it now as a compound for the storage of the equipment and machinery and won’t be accessible until the rest of the work is finished.

demolition sint pieters ziekenhuis brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric Hallmy little perambulation led me on into the Brusselsestraat and down to where Sint Pieter’s hospital is, or should I say “was”.

Regular readers of this rubbish will rcall that this immense construction was intended to be part of the French-language institutions that sould have been in Leuven but in a fit of pique after the Federalisation of the country 25 or so years ago, the French institutions moved out to the new town of Louvain-la-Neuve

Sint Pieter’s Hospital remained empty even though it had only just been built. It only ever received some casual use, such as visitor accommodation where I stayed when I fist came here, and for palliative care.

demolition sint pieters ziekenhuis brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric HallBut now with all of the changes that are planned for the city over the next ten years, they have been pulling down the building.

They are taking their time about it too. It’s another thing that seems to have been going on for ever.MY OLD NEIGHBOUR would have had it down in an twinkling of an eye, and that’s exactly what they need to deal with this.

Our water sprayer is working flat out too even if they don’t necessary need it right now.

From there I came straight home and switched on the laptop – only to find that it had now decided to perform yet another upgrade. Last time, it was 55 separate upgrades but today it’s a mere 76.

This upgrading – I don’t know what’s the matter with this. After all it was a clean installation less than a week ago and since then it’s been upgraded twice. I reckon that it was a mistake to bring this laptop with me, what with all of this.

Instead I went and had tea – more burgers and pasta in tomato sauce out of the fridge followed by tinned fruit salad and sorbet. Then I spent the rest of the evening making use of the internet on the mobile phone.

By the time that I went to bed, the upgrade had reached 46%. So this is going to be another long session that will drive me to distraction. I’m not even sure that it will be fnished for tomorrow.

Wednesday 7th October 2020 – MEANWHILE, BACK AT …

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

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

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

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

And then I hit the streets.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So just WHAT it going on?

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

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

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

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

But the biggest surprise is yet to come.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At 08:30 in the morning?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday 29th October 2018 – IT’S NOT LOOKING …

… too good right now.

The blood count and the protein loss are stable – and while that might sound like good news, it isn’t. It should be ameliorating rapidly. And even worse, they are continuing on this the Multigam treatment, even though it’s not doing what they were hoping that it would do. It seems that they haven’t come up with an alternative yet and I suppose that I shall be having it from now on, every few weeks until my inevitable demise.

That’s what I call depressing news.

And talking of every few weeks, it’s back again on 26th November and yet again on … errrr … 24th December. So it looks very much as if it’s Christmas here in Leuven. Another Christmas away from home, but at least it’s better than last year when I spent it in hospital.

And if you think that that’s bad, the very worst news is that I had a “special interview” too, with the result of which Kaatje the Social Worker was summoned to see me. Apparently people here think that I might now start to benefit from some help around the home and wheels will be put in motion.

Apparently my apartment needs to be continually in a state of pristine cleanliness to avoid me picking up a disease or a virus. Remember that they took out my spleen 30 months ago so I have no immune system. I’m thought to be in such a state that the slightest disease or infection will polish me off.

I’m not quite liking the sound of this.

But at least my body clock is functioning correctly.

Wide awake at 05:13 and that’s good news. I hope that it keeps on going. That will be useful. But I do have an early start on Wednesday so I bet that the body clock will fail to respond on that morning.

It goes without saying that I didn’t leave the bed quite then. No point in rushing and anticipating the alarm when I have plenty of time.

Plenty of time to reflect on my little nocturnal voyage last nignt, because I was off on my travels again. I was the father of a young girl and I’d sent her to a finishing school in Switzerland (although she was far too young for that). After a few months I’d travelled to Switzerland to see how she was doing, to find that she was out on the ski slopes skiing. I waited for her, and she eventually came down to join me. We ended up sitting on a terrace thinking about ordering a meal, when she decided to go into the bar for “the usual reasons”. On her way in she started to talk to a boy by the door, and had a brief conversation with him.
When she came back we went off to the restaurant and while we were waiting to order I asked her what the conversation was all about. She replied that she had mentioned where she was going for lunch in the hope that he would come over to chat. Obviously he wasn’t all that interested, and she told me that while she was up on the ski slopes she had chatted to a few other boys and told them about her lunch arrangements, hoping that one of them would come down to accompany her. But not one of them turned up and I felt really sorry for her because she seemed to be so disappointed.

We had the medication of course, and then the breakfast. Following which I attacked some work that had built up.

With having had a shower last night, I didn’t bother with one today but instead, had a good shave and a clean-up before heading for the hills.

The weather was rather cloudy, misty and overcast and showed no real sign of brightening up. And quite cold too. It made me reflect that when I was last here for a night in Leuven, for my July visit, I was sweltering in the heat. Last night, I had the heating on full-blast.

bia mara fish and chips tiensestraat belgium october octobre 2018In the Tiensestraat the shops change hands regularly and it’s always interesting to see the comings and goings.

This is the latest arrival, the Bia Mara fish and chip shop, although he’s not quite arrived yet.

But I think that he might be on a hiding to nothing. Perhaps he hasn’t heard about Brexit and the abolition of Free Movement for UK citizens.

He would be better off offering mosselen en fritjes.

Here at Castle Anthrax I was early. But I still had to wait rather longer that I should to be plugged in and wired up. I was weighed too, and much to my surprise I’ve put on the weight that I had lost. I couldn’t believe that all of the food that I ate on the Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour and I lost weight, yet back home where I’ve been more restrained I’veput on weight.

But once it was organised, that was that. I lay in a state of semi-consciousness for most of the day drifting in between wakefulness and sleepiness. Not that there was much else to do.

Once I was liberated from my chains, I left and then had to go back again to pick up my wallet that had fallen out of my pocket behind the chair where I was sitting.

On the way back, I called in Delhaize for food for tea and then in the Loving Hut for some more vegan supplies.

Back here, at 128% of my daily activity, I crashed out on the bed for an hour. It’s getting worse, isn’t it?

Tea was baked potatoes and chili beans, and that’s my lot. I’ve done enough for today and I’m going to have a lie in tomorrow to recover my strength and then go for a bus ride.

Monday 27th August 2018 – THE GOOD NEWS …

… is that the blood count has gone up yet again.

The bad news is that it hasn’t gone up enough and the people in the hospital don’t want me to travel.

Despite the racket in the reception last night, I did manage to go off to sleep quite easily in the end and I was flat out until all of … errr … 04:38.

But even so, I was back asleep until the alarms went off at 06:20.

I had my medication and then a shower and a good clean up. But I was so bust sorting myself out that I forgot to have a coffee. And with no water or anything to drink, I had a thirst that you could photograph.

But I was out early and down to the station where, when I was buying my ticket, I heard them announce a train to Leuven. So I RAN – yes, RAN, dear reader (and you’ve no idea how pleased that made me) for the train and leapt aboard.

And it was then that I realised that I had forgotten to buy any breakfast either.

But there’s a supermarket at the back of the station at Leuven so I picked up some bread rolls and at them as I marched across the city.

I was early for my appointment so I settled down in a comfortable seat, and bang on time, the nurse came to see me and I was all plugged in and hooked up.

When the doctor came to see me, he told me that my blood count had only gone up to 9.3. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that this time last year it was at 13.0 and they were happy to let me go a-wandering off.

Not this time, though.

They want me back in 3 weeks time, so I spent the afternoon in between sleeping having a discussion with Rachel about a cunning plan.

Kaatje came to see me too. I’d had two more bills from the hospital so I handed them to her to pass on to my health insurance people.

resurfacing kapucijnenvoer sint rafael belgiqueWhen they threw me out, I wandered back downtown.

My route took me down to the Kapicijnenvoer for a change, and outside the Sint rafael Ziekenhuis I noticed that they had dug up the street completely.

It’s quite an impressive piece of work that they are doing.

In the town centre I stopped at a couple of places- the Carrefour, the Loving Hut and the Kruidvat for some supplies, and then I caught the train back to Brussels and my hotel.

Later on, I went out again. Alison had discovered a vegan and gluten-free restaurant called Moon at the back of the cathedral so we met there. It’s a simple buffet where you pay for the food by weight.

Delicious it was too and this will go onto our list of places to revisit, although it’s a bit amateurish in the way that it’s run. The rice ran out and “there’s no more now until tomorrow” – that kind of thing.

carrefour de l'europe gare centrale bruxelles belgiqueWe went down to the Gare Centrale for a coffee and a good chat afterwards.

Later, we went outside and I put Alison onto her bus home. Once she’s ridden off into the sunset I had a bit of a loiter around outside.

With all of the photos that I’ve taken of Brussels over the years, I’ve never taken one of the Central Station. It’s not very impressive in the daytime, but at night it’s something else.

carrefour de l'europe gare centrale hotel hilton bruxelles belgiqueThe exterior of the station at the Carrefour de l’Europe never used to be very impressive.

When I lived here it was just one main street with traffic just about everywhere, but not the traffic has been blocked off and it has been turned into a pedestrian zone.

The addition of a few pillars and arches, and a few cleverly-positioned streetlights make the place look really good.

statue jacques brel place de la vieille halle au bles bruxelles belgiqueFrom there I went for a little wander around in the dark, boldly going where I haven’t gone for quite some considerable time.

My perambulation took me past the Place de la Vieille Halle au Blés where the statue of the famous Belgian singer/songwriter Jacques Brel stands sentinel.

He’s come out quite nicely in the subdued street lighting.

Now back at my hotel, and 205% of my day’s activity – 16.2kms – I’ve walked today. And it feels like it too.

I’ve made my butties for my journey tomorrow and now I’m off to bed. I have an early start in the morning.

05:20 to be precise.

carrefour de l'europe gare centrale bruxelles belgique
carrefour de l’europe gare centrale bruxelles belgique

carrefour de l'europe gare centrale bruxelles belgique
carrefour de l’europe gare centrale bruxelles belgique

carrefour de l'europe gare centrale bruxelles belgique
carrefour de l’europe gare centrale bruxelles belgique

grande place hotel de ville rue de l'etuve bruxelles belgique
grande place hotel de ville rue de l’etuve bruxelles belgique

Monday 6th August 2018 – I HAD A SMASHING …

… time in the café this evening.

There was nowhere to sit so Alison and I took our drinks outside to sit on the wall. I carefully put down my glass and my bottle of water, carefully put down my rucksack, went to sit down, lost my balance and smashed my glass.

Ahh well.

Having crashed out so dramatically last night, we had the Sleep Of The Dead until about 04:50. Totally painless – didn’t feel a thing.

I beat the alarm too and was out of bed before it went off. The washing wasn’t dry (of course) so I searched for a clothes hanger – and instead, found a cooling fan in the wardrobe! I wish that I had found that last night!

Breakfast was very pleasant of course, and then I set off for the hospital. A long, hot weary trudge through the streets in the heat;

I’d gone out early because last time when I had tried to go to the Bank, it was closed in the afternoon. So I arrived a couple of minutes after 09:00, only to find that it was closed for holidays.

It’s really not my day, is it?

There was a new girl on reception at the hospital and she didn’t recognise me, so we had to go through all of the identity checks again which is a pain.

And then with them being under so much pressure, I had to wait a good 25 minutes before I was seen to. And the nurse was somewhat rough with the needle too.

All throughout the day I melted and melted. They wouldn’t open the windows so after I had had a good moan for a while they bought me a fan. And that was much more like it.

The good news is that I have lost 5kgs in weight, and my blood count has gone up to 9.1. Not as much as I had wanted – last year it was 13.0 after the session had finished, but I have one more to go of course, but it won’t reach that.

The doctor doesn’t think that things are quite so urgent, so I told him that I was thinking of taking a holiday after the August visit. His response was “see you when you get back then”, which means that I can at last think of a plan.

I’m not sure what, but Alison and I saw a trip to Cape Verde that could be interesting.

Kaatje was there too and we had a chat. She’s off to Croatia soon so I asked if there was any room in her suitcase.

Eventually I was released, and I walked down to the town in the heat and did a little shopping, as well as buying myself a sorbet.

Alison left work and came to join me, and we had a really good walk before breaking off for a burger in a new vegan rstaurant (although the owners claim that the restaurant isn’t new at all, but we had never seen it before).

We had another sorbet for pudding and then walked down to the cafe on the canalside where I had my adventure with the glass.

Now I’m back here, having had a nice shower to cool me down, and I’m off to bed. With the fan blowing all over me because it really is hot tonight.

But it doesn’t look as if it is the case now, because we’ve just had a power cut. So that’s put paid to that idea.

And even as we speak the power comes back on. So I might have a decent sleep yet.

Monday 27th February 2017 – NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL …

… the Sleep of the Dead!

By about 21:30 I was totally out of it, what with all of my exertions over the weekend and my late night on Saturday. And with a hectic 10 days to come, there’s no point in pushing out the boundaries so I hit the sack. I vaguely remember at about 23:30 waking up to switch off the laptop, and that was absolutely that until the alarm went off at 07:00.

Totally painless, and I felt so much better for it.

I had company a breakfast – one of these Obsessive Compulsive Disorder people who spent 10 minutes washing a mug, and then 10 minutes washing a glass – that type of person. And then, inexplicably, he left his dirty knife in the sink – and told me not to wash it as he would do it later. Not that I was intending to of course – each to his own around here – but it was such a strange thing to do given how much time he had spent washing the rest of his stuff.

Hospital came next – and I had to get a move on because Bane of Britain had taken his hospital folder down to Caliburn last night and he needed it up there. It’s all keeping me fit anyway. And up there, the nurse who fitted my catheter into my catheter port did so with such skill and dexterity that I didn’t even realise that she had done it and taken the blood sample.

This led to the following fantastic exchange –
Our Hero – “you know, I’m so impressed. You did that so gently that I didn’t even realise it”
Nurse – “I was Belgian Ladies’ national darts champion in 1984 and 1986”

I had to wait ages to see the doctor, but in the meantime I saw Kaatje, my Social Welfare worker and Ingrid, the trick cyclist. Ingrid managed to wangle me a visit to see the Professor who is handling my case, and Kaatje conformed that absolutely everything is up-to-date as far as payments go, and she’ll find all of the required information that I need for my insurance by next week (I shall be passing by).

As far as my health goes, the news isn’t quite so good. Blood count is down, to 10.3 and I’m not very happy about that. The protein loss is stable, but it’s still way too high as we all know.

But the professor didn’t give me much encouragement. I have renal failure – well, we’ve all guessed that with the protein loss didn’t we, so no surprise there. But I have a rare disease as you all know and according to the Professor, “it’s not responding like it should”.

She thinks that moving house is a good idea, because hauling wood and water is not such a good idea, but as to whether I need to go into a care home, rent a property or buy something else, she recommends renting. Apparently I’m
well enough right now that I don’t need a care home, but if I rent somewhere rather than buying it, I can escape from that commitment much easier than a purchased accommodation. She can’t say whether I’m good for &5 years, or good for 10 years, and when you add up all of that, it doesn’t sound too healthy, does it?

On the way back, I went to buy some bread for lunch, and had a goodbye kiss from the girl in the supermarket on the corner. That cheered me up no end, I’ll say!

After lunch, I carried on packing and moving stuff down to Caliburn. But I had a brief moment of distraction ringing up my bank. There’s an “issue” with a payment on my account, for no reason whatsoever, and it’s the monthly payment that i need to make to my Storage company in Montreal – the ones with whom I’ve had all of these issues just now.

“Unusual spending patterns” is the issue so I phoned them up – with a French mobile from Belgium to the UK, explained this to the girl on the phone, who promptly put me on hold for 8 minutes. By the time that I was reconnected I was steaming. The discussion that we had was … errr … rather heated, and in the end they put the phone down on me before I had quite finished telling them exactly what I thought of them and their bank.

But at least the payment has been made and I hope that this will be the last of it. But I’ml getting rather sick of it all.

For tea I had sausage, mash and frozen veg for tea, followed by vegan ice-cream and peach halves. That’s most of my food from here finished, and whatever is left is left.

Another four loads of stuff down to Caliburn, and I even found time to go for a coffee with Sean, the guy who used to live here. I quite enjoy his company, until he starts on about the EU. He really has a bee in his bonnet about it and he isn’t ever going to change my opinion, so I don’t know why he wants to start a discussion about it – unless it’s something to do with the two or three beers I suppose.

And I had a weird experience on the way back. Some French van with three men in it, were stopping at each girl that they saw in the Kapucijnenvoer and asking them a question. It didn’t seem quite right to me, especially when they almost stopped at the same girl twice, realised that it was she and drove off rapidly. I’ve taken the vehicle the registration number of the van just in case, because I can smell a rat from here, never mind from there.

Ad so now I’m totally exhausted, so I’m just about to go off to bed. My last ever night here in this hostel (I hope) and I’m exhausted. I’ve had a really busy day and I need to relax.

Let’s hope that the weather improves.

Monday 20th February 2017 – I’M BACK …

… in the bad sleep rhythm again unfortunately. Last night was one of those like I was havong a few nights ago, tossing, turning, waking up, unable to go back to sleep.

MInd you, I was asleep enought to go on my travels. To Tibet, I told myself, but it was actually Nepal where I was – with no Chinese soldiers about. I was crossing the country and in the centre was some guy who was restoring these three-wheeled motorcycle things that had a motorcycle front and a flatbed at the back for the carriage of goods. They had all kinds of weird vehicles there and I was really keen to buy something unusual to take home, so I had quite a chat with this guy. But I was in a hurry to be on my way so I continued on my trip. Later that evening I was looking for a hotel but I realised that I had left the country and that was a shame – I hadn’t thought about it at the time but it would have been a good idea and a feather in my cap to have stayed for a night in Nepal/Tibet and add it to the list of countries where I had stayed.

My Dutch/Russian friend was at breakfast and so was the other guy, so they talked amongst themselves and left me to it. But the other guy is leaving today so the Dutch guy and I tomorrow are going to empty all of the fridges, clean them, and throw away everything that doesn’t belong to us.

Later that morning I went up to the hospital to see the Welfare girl. I need a prognostic of my condition because it’s possible that if they acknowledge that my health will deteriorate, I might be able to claim an extra allowance for home help, and that will be nice. But she wasn’t so hopeful that this kind of thing will be possible.

After lunch I got on the phone to the people in Evaux les Bains. Caliburn still has his bump in the rear and the insurance company says that this garage can fix it for me. You remember that I visited there in December for an inspection of Caliburn. He’s booked in for Monday 13th March and they will let me have a rental vehicle while Caliburn is being fixed. They’ll also be dealing with the rust issues on the nearside sill.

As usual, I had a crash out and then I went up to make tea. Oven chips, beans and veggie burgers, followed by the last of the pineapples and vegan ice cream.

I’ll be having an early night now and getting ready for yet another day out tomorrow.

Thursday 16th February 2017 – WHILE YOU ADMIRE …

verbrande poort verbrandepoort leuven belgium february fevrier 2017 … the photos from my little perambulation this afternoon, I can tell you something about the events of today, because we’ve had another one of these days that has been a quite busy work-in.

I had something of an early night again and this time I wasn’t awake all that long before dropping to sleep. And we had another session of awakening at 06:00 and then again at 06:30 before my alarm went off as usual at 07:00

and once that had sounded, I wandered upstairs for my breakfast.

river dijle handbooghof city walls leuven belgium february fevrier 2017I was alone for breakfast, and just for a change just recently we had everything supplied for us. But then again, I’m in one of these moods where I’m not eating so much as I did, so it wasn’t necessarily that important as long as I had my orange juice.

And so having dealt with those issues, I came back down here and had to crack on with some work that needed doing – and there was plenty of it to do

river dilje handbooghof city walls leuven belgium february fevrier 2017First task that needed doing was to pay my web domain fees, otherwise I’d risk being up a creek without a paddle. Luckily, I’d just received my new bank card and so I could crack on with that.


My domain and web-hosting fees are not inconsiderable, but there’s tons of exciting stuff on here and you have certainly all had your money’s worth.

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river dijle handbooghof leuven belgium february fevrier 2017Having dealt with the issues surrounding my domain, the next step was to make a couple more appointments for people whom I need to see here in Leuven before I head off back into the sunset or whatever.

I have some hospital fees to pay, and I’ll be needing a letter from the hospital in respect of my future treatment and so on, something that I can hand to my medical insurance people.

I’m seeing the insurance folk tomorrow and they’ll tell me precisely what is required, and so I made an appointment for Monday with Kaatje at the Social Services section of the hospital.

apartments river dijle handbooghof leuven belgium february fevrier 2017She’ll have all of the bills ready for me, and if I tell her what the insurance people want, she can have the letter ready for me when I go back there for my final appointment.

And then the trick cyclist has been on and on about seeing me again as you know. So I contacted her and told her when I plan to leave the hospital, and she’s arranged an appointment with me on that day so that she can tell me what the score is.

apartments river dijle handbooghof leuven belgium february fevrier 2017All that remained after that was some kind of long-distance business.

You know that my credit card expired a while ago, which was rather inconvenient because I have a standing order from that account to pay for my little storage unit in Montreal where I keep my camping gear. When I was in Montreal back in early September I went round there and paid them off a lump sum to get ahead while I sorted something out.

My lump sum has now expired and so I needed to set up a new payment regime. I was expecting this to be quite complicated, but nothing of the sort, especially as they have set up some kind of on-line accounting service.

I mailed them for a password, they sent it (and I changed it to the standard one that I use), I set up an account, and that was that.

river dijle leuven belgium february fevrier 2017I’ve run out of tomatoes, and seeing as I’m going to be away tomorrow and Saturday, and I’m out on Sunday too, no point in buying foodstuffs that I’ll only need once before Monday.

I had most of a baguette left over from yesterday too, and when I was shopping in the LeClerc in Sedan in November, I’d bought half a dozen packet soups.

This seemed like the right kind of occasion to make myself some packet tomato soup for lunch, and I mopped it up with my baguette. Just the job!

river dijle leuven belgium february fevrier 2017It was a really beautiful afternoon today once more, and as I hadn’t any fruit, I decided to go out to the fruit shop for a pear and apple, and then walk down the Handbooghof along the river Dijle by what remains of the city walls and then back here through the alleys.

My time in Leuven is (hopefully) coming to an end, and I’ve been very lax with my photographs of places where I’ve been. I need to bring the record up-to-date.

If things go according to plan, I’ll only be back here from day to day. I’ll come in on the train, spent the night before and the night after my check-ups in the IBIS Budget by the station, and then go back again.

verbrande poort verbrandepoort leuven belgium february fevrier 2017But of course, as we all know, it won’t work out like this. It never does!

Back here, I made myself a coffee and then I crashed out for half an hour, really tired. The walk had taken quite a bit out of me and I can’t do much about that right now.

But I’m going to have to do much better than this. And quickly too. I have plans for the very near future as you know, and I need to be right on form.

apartments verbrande poort verbrandepoort leuven belgium february fevrier 2017This evening I had a shower, a shave and some clean clothes, including one of my new pairs of trousers. I have to go out tomorrow so I need to be looking my very best.

And while I was under there, I washed the pair of trousers that I had been wearing. I have to keep on top of things like that these days, otherwise I’d run out like I did the other day.

Following all of that, I went for tea. More of the tomato and kidney bean stuff with pasta and, of course, olives. All followed by pineapple slices and the vegan sorbet. And as I have said before, the kidney-bean whatsit tastes even better the longer it all stews.

So now it’s a good early night as I’m on the road all day tomorrow. I need to be at my best.

Thursday 13th October 2016 – WELL, YOU MIGHT HAVE GUESSED.

Blood count is down. And protein loss is up. The result of all of that is that I have to go back in just two weeks.

This is a bitter blow to me of course. I need to move on and do things, and I was hoping for six months – or even three months would have done me. But not two weeks.

But I’m not surprised, because I had a horrible night.

I wasn’t in bed all that early, and even so I just couldn’t drop off at all. I gave up trying to sleep at 05:45 and started to read a book – and that had the desired effect, albeit 6 hours too late. It really was a struggle to crawl out of bed at 07:15.

And despite the small amount of sleep, I’m managed to go a-wandering. I was in a car driving down a lane and ended up crossing two railway lines, about 40 yards apart. I’d always believed that they were simply each track of a double-track line built by someone with a sense of humour, but the book that I bought on Sunday in Montreal convinced me that these were just another set of “parallel lines” laid by the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Canadian Northern Railway during the Canadian Great Railway Wars.

It’s funny how, even when I was asleep, I was able to think along logical lines like this, because it’s perfectly true. If you think that the Railway Wars between companies in the UK was savage, vicious and extremely wasteful, you haven’t seen anything until you read about what took place between the Canadian Pacific, the Canadian Nothern and the Grand Trunk Railroad. The useless infighting and unnecessary duplication of routes cost Canada millions of dollars and bankrupted a couple of the companies for no good purpose.

And so at 07:15 I crawled out of bed, at 07:30 I crawled out of the shower (so much for thinking that it would do me some good) and by 07:45 I was crammed like a sardine along with about 500 other people into an articulated bus, having grabbed a coffee on the way. I was decanted out at St Rafael so that I could go down to Caliburn to drop off the stuff that I had bought yesterday.

Having left all of my vegan cheese behind (that’s bad planning if they had decided to keep me in) I then boarded the wrong bus that led off in a completely different direction. I ended up having rather a long walk.

At the hospital, I had my blood test and a chat with the doctor. 2 hours later, the doctor came to see me. “It’s about yuor blood test …” she began. That sounded ominous, and no mistake. But she carried on to say that the blood testing machine had broken down and I would have to hang around for the results. Clogged up with root beer and maple syrup, I reckon.

Kaatje the Social Services girl came for a chat and I had to fill in a form. And having spent most of the morning reading Lord of the Rings I promptly wrote out “13th Orcober”. Yes, it’s getting to me, isn’t it, all of this?

Anyway, I managed just about to keep awake during the afternoon and about 16:30 they came back with the bad news.

With that ringing around in my ears, I went downstairs for a coffee and to make a phone call. And so here I am – back in the hostel where I stayed during the summer. There was a room available – not at the same good price that I was offered last time unfortunately – and so I took it. It’s cheaper that going back home and coming straight back and far less stressful. Stress – or the elimination of it – is quite important.

I set off for the hostel but within 20 minutes I was back in the Day Centre. Bane of Britain has, once again, gone off with his catheter still plugged in. You couldn’t make this up, could you?

And it’s good to be back on familiar territory with no pain at all. And I can have my old room back on Monday too. In the meantime, this one will do. I settled down for a while and then a bit later nipped down the road for a falafel butty for tea. I’ll rescue all of my supplies from Caliburn tomorrow.

Having organised that, I’m off to bed. Nice and early. Remember that I had a bad night last night.