Tag Archives: naamsestraat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday 16th June 2021 – NOW HOW ABOUT …

hellmans vegan garlic mayonnaise leuven belgium Eric Hall… this to go on my lunchtime butties?

This is something quite new in the shops. I’ve never seen it before. And I shan’t have to worry about visits from vampires during the night because I tried some of it with my pasta and vegetables and believe me – it took the varnish off the door when I breathed out. This was definitely a good buy and no mistake. It’s the kind of thing that will put hair on places I don’t even have places.

But be that as it may, let us return to our moutons as they say around here.

That is, around France, because Im not in France right now. I’m actually in Leuven because it’s time to visit Castle Anthrax again.

At 06:00 when the alarm went off, I leapt out of bed – sort of, something like – and the first task of the morning after the medication was to peel, dice and then blanch a kilo of carrots that I’d bought on Monday. And then I put them to drain in the sink.

Secind thing was to make a coffee and then make some sandwiches etc for my lunch. Packing my stuff and then giving the kitchen a good clean and disinfecting and, of course, taking out the rubbish before it walked out on its own.

At 08:05 when I went out this morning it was already scorching hot. Heaven alone knows what it’s going to be like at 15:00. But heaving my pack up onto my back I set off down the hill in the Rue des Juifs.

street repairs rue des moulins Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallDown in the town there was already some excitement going on in the Rue des Moulins.

They had a concrete cutter and a digger down there, sticking a pile of earth in the back of the lorry down there, and the workmen are busy admiring the hole that they have dug. For a moment I was wondering if I should go over and fall in with them but instead I pushed on.

At the railway station, my train wasn’t in yet so I had a nice relaxing sit on a bench on the platform while I waited for the train to come in.

GEC Alstom Regiolis 84581 gare de Granville railway station Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere wasn’t all that long to wait. The train pulled in round about 08:45. Just one six-car unit instead of two six-car units coupled together.

Climbing aboard, I went off to find my seat. For some reason or other that I don’t understand, they had me sharing a 4-seat combination with a couple of other people. No chance of my supporting that idea so I grabbed an empty seat where I could sit all on my own.

Having had a very late night last night, I wasn’t up to doing all that much but I did managed to copy onto the laptop all of the files that I’d backed up onto my memory stick. And the music ones took some sorting out. I’ll have to research the albums that I cropped the other day and work out which song goes where.

Our train was delayed at Argentan and so we arrived 10 minutes late at Paris Montparnasse. But there was no delay on the Metro and I arrived at Gare du Nord with plenty of time to spare.

TGV INOUI 206 TGV Reseau Duplex gare du nord paris France Eric HallJust as I arrived at the station concourse the train from Lille Flandres was just pulling in.

It’s one of the TGV Inoui Reseaux Duplex trains that we travel on regularly – one of the double deckers, but we aren’t allowed to board it yet. There is going to be a delay because these days they give the train a deep clean before we’re allowed on.

As soon as the cleaners had finished they announced the train, and there was a mad scramble of passengers towards the gate. And there as a slight delay from my part because it took me a minute or two to work out how the rail ticket on my phone works.

TGV INOUI 206 211 TGV Reseau Duplex gare du nord paris France Eric HallThe train is actually two eight-car units coupled together and so it goes without saying that I was in the second half down at the far end of the platform.

And you’ve no idea of the confusion that I caused trying to find my seat, because it didn’t exist. Even the ticket collector couldn’t find it.

On close examination however, we discovered that I’d gone into the wrong carriage. I’d gone in through the correct door but at the top of the stairs I turned right instead of left and hadn’t noticed that I’d walked over the bellows into the next carriage.

But once I was sorted out, I had a good sleep all the way to Lille Flandres.

We had a curious incident after we left the station. Some woman was asking some passers-by “which is the way to Lille-Europe?”. I told her “follow me, I’m going that way” and she did – for the first 100 yards and then she shot off ahead.

She must have known the way after all for she was standing outside the station smoking a cigarette when I caught up with her.

The train wasn’t in yet so I was able to sit down and eat my sandwiches in comfort

TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt 4523 PBA gare du midi brussels belgium Eric HallWhen the train pulled into the platform we all swarmed down the steps.

It’s one of the tri-volt TGV Réseau 38000 train sets, known colloquially as the PBA, or “Paris Brussels Amsterdam” sets. This time there was no problem finding my seat and I spent most of the journey reading an e-book while my neighbour spent most of the journey speaking to someone on the telephone.

At some point I must have dozed off because the rattling over the points as we came into Brussels awoke me. And so I packed my things.

Having gone through all of the procedure about Covid tests, Passenger Location Forms and the like, there was no control at all at the railway station and I felt quite disappointed.

There was a train to Leuven and Liège on its way into the station so I ran off to platform 15.

am80 automotrice 390 gare du midi brussels belgium Eric HallThe train was another one of these disreputable Am 80 automotrices or multiple units.

Old, tired, dirty and graffiti-ridden, they should have been put out to grass a long time ago from that point of view. But they are quick and reliable, and perform a lot of long-distance work like Brussels to Luxembourg and the one on which I’m riding – the Belgian Coast to Liège.

If these trains were cleaned, the graffiti was removed and they were given modern interiors with a modern seating configuration, they could keep going for another 40 years.

When the ticket collector came down, I couldn’t find my ticket on the SNCB app on my phone. Luckily the ticket collector could. We learn something new every day.

martelarenplein leuven belgium Eric HallThe heat at Leuven was searing and I burnt myself on the metal handrail on the steps down from the passenger walkway

But from up there, there was a good view down onto the Martelarenplein. I’ve taken a few photos of that just recently but usually from ground level. This is the first opportunity that I’ve had of taking an aerial view and so I wasn’t going to miss it.

The heat was really oppressive as I struggled around the ring road to the Dekenstraat. I had to stop a few times to catch my breath. At one point I was overtaken by some weird kind of solar bicycle but he cleared off quickly before I could photograph it.

At the Dekenstraat I found my room – another one of the upmarket duplexes. They are very good to me here, giving me a free upgrade whenever there’s one vacant.

Having sorted myself out I sat down to do some work. There was something on the dictaphone from the night but the only thing that I remember about it was being on a bus coming out of Hanley down the Etruria Road. Suddenly it had to manoeuvre into the outside lane, round in front of a couple of cars then off to the left down a slip road onto the “D road”. The slip road had all kinds of houses alongside it and it was cold and foggy and it hav been snowing heavily. I asked the driver what was happening. He said that the police had told him to go that way so that he didn’t have any other choice. I asked him “what about the people who live in Longport and places like that?” He replied “that’s rather a shame but the police have told me to do this and this is what I have to do”. Then I awoke in a really cold sweat again. There was much more to it in this dream and I think that my ex-friend from Stoke on Trent appeared in it somewhere

Having finished that I had more things to do but instead I crashed out on the sofa. I awoke with a start at 18:45 and there was shopping to do so I had to nip out smartish because they close at 20:00.

road works naamsestraat naamsevest leuven belgium Eric HallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that we’ve been watching the roadworks down at the junction of the Naamsestraat and the Naamsevest.

They are now at the stage of resurfacing the road so I reckon that in another three or four years they might actually have it finished. We all know how quickly they work here in Belgium.

Normally I would be going to the Carrefour but I didn’t have the strength tonight so I ended up at Delhaize. And I was only just in time too because as I was queueing up to pay, they switched off the lights in the shop.

In order to get back up the hill and return to my digs I had to have an energy drink. But I made it back and made myself tea – falafel burger with pasta and veg – with the latter all mixed up with that garlic dressing. Pudding was pineapple slices with sorbet.

There was the intention to write the journal entry for today but instead I fell asleep again. When I finally awoke I just went to bed to sleep it off. I can write up my journal tomorrow.

Wednesday 19th May 2021 – YOU’RE PROBABLY WONDERING …

… about why it’s taken me so long to put my notes of today’s travel on line.

The truth is that last night with 164% of my daily total of effort recorded on my fitbit, I crashed out completely at about 21:15 and crashed out properly too – in bed under the bedclothes and out like a light. I vaguely remember waking up again at about 23:20 but that was my lot until 05:20 the following morning.

And that’s another mystery, isn’t it? Whenever I do go to to bed really early I can’t seem to make the most of it and end up waking early, except on a Saturday a couple of weeks ago.

But returning to our moutons, as they say around here, Wednesday is the day that I travel to Leuven. I was up and about at 06:00 as usual as the first alarm went off.

First task was to make myself a coffee, and then make a thermos flask of coffee for the journey. Those water bottles that we received for our expeditions on board THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR really are the business.

Making my sandwiches and so on for breakfast and lunch was next, the sourdough and the ginger beer needed feeding too so I attended to that. It will be interesting to see if there’s another eruption of the sourdough while I’m away. To be on the safe side, I’ve put the jar in a bowl to stop it going everywhere.

Having done a few more bits and pieces I headed off down the road towards the railway station, realising after about 200 yards that I’ve forgotten to pack any clean clothes. Too late now to do anything about it now.

people on terrace rue lecampion Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallDown in the town I noticed a few changes hat have taken place since I was last here. Cafés can now open their terraces to the general public.

Many of the city centre cafés don’t have terraces of course but the local council has given them authorisation to set up ad-hoc terraces on the street in front of their premises. And even though it’s a cold, damp 08:15 or thereabouts on a midweek morning, there are a few clients who couldn’t wait to sample the delights of which they have been deprived for so long.

Draymen too delivering beer barrels and crates too. That’s a welcome sign too.

But I still think that it’s far too early to be opening up like this with casualties the way that they are. I can’t help having the feeling that it’s as if the Government has given up the fight against containing the virus and relying on the vaccination programme. This is all going to end in tears.

beach cabins on lorry cours jonville Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut there are other more positive signs of summer too, as I noticed further along at the junction in the Cours Jonville.

As I waited to cross the street one of the Council lorries pulled up in front of my. It was pulling a trailer and was loaded up with the beach cabins off the Plat Gousset.

At the end of the season the cabins are taken off the promenade to keep them safe in a compound in the Council’s maintenance depot. They don’t leave them on the promenade through the winter

Regular readers of this rubbish who will recall having seen the winter storms smashing their way onto the promenade at high tide will not be surprised by this. Coming back at the start of the season and finding a pile of matchwood waiting for you isn’t the way to run a seaside resort.

gec alsthom regiolis 84555 gare de Granville railway station Manche Normandy France Eric HallAt the railway station my train was already in and waiting for me so I could go and find my seat and sit down. And that was just as well because with not feeling very well, the walk up there had thoroughly exhausted me.

It was only a 6-car unit too – just one of the GEC Alsthom Regiolis sets that we usually have – so it was pretty crowded this morning. I had a companion sitting next to me, but that didn’t stop me sleeping for the first part of the journey.

The rest of the journey was spent updating the laptop. This morning before setting out I copied onto a memory stick the files that had been updated on the big computer since my last trip to Leuven. I have one of these tiny 64GB memory sticks attached to my keyring which I use as I travel about to copy files from one computer to another.

The Gare de Montparnasse was still quite empty – full life hasn’t yet returned to Paris (and quite right too) – and it was easy to find a seat on the Metro train to the Gare du Nord. I always walk down to the end of the platform at railway stations because I’ve noticed that the crowds seem to congregate at the middle so the ends of the trains are usually much more empty.

At the Gare du Nord there were very few people around yet again so I took full advantage by buying another carnet of 10 tickets. I seem to be going through them quite quickly these days.

TGV Reseau Duplex 216 gare du nord paris France Eric HallAs I arrived upstairs at the terminus where I catch my train, a train from Lille pulled in and I reckoned that this will be mine going back out again.

We won’t be allowed on it for quite a while because they have to clean it thoroughly these days before we can get back on, so I spent the time looking around. I can tell you a little about my train while we are waiting.

It’s one of the old TGV “Reseau Duplex” double-deckers that they use on high-volume routes. The first time that I had travelled on one was a few years ago when I went from Lyon to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport on my way to Montreal, and doesn’t that seem like a lifetime ago, the way things have been this last year or so?

sncf locomotive 522228 class bb 22200 gare du nord paris France Eric HallWhile I was looking around I came across this beautiful machine.

Anyone who has travelled on an express train in France before the days of high-speed high-capacity multiple-units will have been on a train pulled by one of these. It’s locomotive 522228, one of the class of BB22200 locomotives that flooded the SNCF network back in the old days and are the epitome of French long-distance travel.

The Nez Cassées or “Broken Noses” began to be introduced in 1975 and a total of 205 were introduced. Some of them have even been timed at travelling in excess of 200 kph. But in 2012 they began to be withdrawn for breaking and that marks the end of this era of traditional travel. And that’s a tragedy

TGV Reseau Duplex 215 gare du nord paris France Eric HallEventually the details of our train were posted up on the board so we could all swarm down to platform towards our seats.

As you might expect, mine is down at the far end of the train, which I suppose isn’t too bad because it means that I don’t have so far to walk at Lille Flandres. It’s a train of two-units coupled together and, surprisingly, we have two units of consecutive numbers.

This wasn’t quite as full as the rain on which I’d come from Granville so I had no neighbour. I could eat my lunch in comparative comfort and read my E-book.

It’s a book written in 1918 and talks about the early history of flight, AIRCRAFT AND SUBMARINES: THE STORY OF THE INVENTION, DEVELOPMENT, AND PRESENT-DAY USES OF WAR’S NEWEST WEAPONS by Willis J Abbot and makes several claims about powered flight taking place before the Wright Brothers but by people other than the usual suspects Gustave Whitehead and Richard Pearse.

It’s a fascinating read about submarines because there is little research that has been done into the German U-boat campaign of 1914-18 compared to what was done in the Second World War and the massive tomes of CLAY BLAIR

Interestingly, there’s an obscure reference in Abbot’s book to the fate of the Hunley – the world’s first killer submarine. He says that divers a couple of years after the end of the American Civil War found it still embedded in wreck of the Housatonic, although no mention of that was made when Itzé and I WENT TO VISIT THE HUNLEY after it had been recovered.

Our train pulled into Lille Flandres railway station bang on time and so I set off in the damp atmosphere down the road towards Lille Europe Railway Station.

TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt 4518 SNCF TGV POS 4403 gare du lille europe France Eric HallOur train was already in the station but there was 20 minutes before our train was due to depart so I had plenty of time to take a photo of it.

Once again it’s a train consisting of two train sets. Mine is 4518, one of the TGV Reseau 38000 tri-volt trains, the same type as the Thalys PBA trains that work between Paris, Brussels and occasionally Amsterdam. It’s coupled up to 4403, one of the POS units tat formerly worked the eastern TGV network.

its neighbour 4402 is the train that holds the world speed record for conventional train travel, having reached 574.8 kilometres per hour on 3rd April 2007.

push me pull you sncb locomotive gare du midi brussels belgium  Eric HallThe train that took me on to Leuven from Brussels Gare du Midi was one of the SNCB “push me pull you” units with the locomotive pushing it from the far end.

And I was lucky to catch it too because there was another barrage at the station with the police checking the travel papers of people getting off the train. I was paperless, as you might expect, so I had to bluff pretty hard to be allowed officially to enter the country.

But I know what to do for the next time that I arrive in the country, and I can see that I shall be having to change my travel habits.

But anyway, they let me in and I could head off for my train.

sncb series 55 locomotive 5503 haren brussels belgium Eric HallFor a change, our train took the older route that passes by the huge railway rolling stock depot at Haren, and alongside the area where they park the redundant locomotives prior to scrapping.

Amongst the locomotives in there today is 5503, one of the Class 55 diesels of the SNCB. This was a generic design used by many railway companies in Europe, and this particular model was built by BN, a Belgian company now part of Bombardier, and powered by General Motors EMD engines.

It’s a testament to the efficiency and reliability of the GM engines that 60 years after their introduction there are still plenty of them still in existence. The British version of these, powered by the unreliable and inefficient and, for all intents and purposes, irreparable North British engines that were cheap licensed copies of a MAN diesel engine, never even made 20 years.

To give you some idea, because of the narrow British loading gauge, the engines had to be mounted upside-down so that to even do a simple job like draining the oil and changing the filter, you had to take the engine out.

sncb automotrice am75 haren brussels belgium Eric HallAlso ready to go to the breaker’s yard were a few of the AM75 multiple units.

When I was working for that American company 15 years ago I would have been pleased if one of these had arrived at Jette railway station to take me off to work instead of one of the ancient units that usually took me, but these days they are long obsolete.

Introduced in 1975, there were 44 of these train sets introduced. There are one or two of them still circulating around on the network round by Antwerp and Charleroi and are the oldest multiple units left in action on the SNCB railway network, but I suspect that they won’t be around for much longer.

But I’m interested to see what the next generation of multiple units will be like.

sncb class 18 locomotive 1886 gare de Leuven railway station Belgium Eric HallAt Leuven I could see which locomotive had been pushing us towards Eupen.

It’s 1886, one of the Class 18 electric locomotives. There are 120 of these locomotives, built by Siemens between 2008 and 2011 and replaced a variety of different locomotives from previous generations built in the 1950s and early 1960s.

From the railway station I staggered off to my accommodation. And it really was a stagger too because I didn’t enjoy the walk at all. And I didn’t have an upgrade today. The place is busy so I’m in a single unit, although bigger and with a double bed, something that you don’t have in a basic single unit.

My trip to the shops was later than usual, and for 2 reasons too. Firstly we had a torrential rainstorm and I wasn’t going out in that. And secondly, I needed all of this time to gather my strength.

roadworks naamsestraat naamsevest Leuven Belgium Eric HallBecause I wasn’t feeling very energetic, I took the shorter route along the ring-road to the supermarket, and ended up at the junction of the Naamsestraat and the Naamsevest.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we’ve seen the roadworks at this junction for the last couple of times that we’ve been here, and there still appears to be no change. They aren’t making much progress here, which seems typical these days with building work, and I wonder how they are progressing with the other work we’ve been watching.

Anyway, at the Carrefour I did my shopping. They had burgers on special offer and also some reduced vegan sausages so I bought them for the next few teas But I forgot the vegan mayonnaise for my sandwiches which was a shame.

roadworks naamsestraat naamsevest Leuven Belgium Eric HallOn the way back I passed by the roadworks again, which we can see now from a different angle, and then headed on for home

The walk back with the shopping exhausted me and the climb up the stairs to the 2nd floor finished me off. I made myself some food, a burger with pasta and veg, and that was that. I’d had enough for today and so I was going to go bed straight away. I can finish my notes tomorrow.

it’ll also give me a chance to listen to the dictaphone to see where I went during the night because there was a file on the dictaphone to indicate that something had happened during the night.

Nerina was actually involved in this although I didn’t have the chance to see her. I had to go to see someone who had built some kind of magnificent motorbike and was busy building – I dunno, circus or fairground attractions out of old cars and so on so I thought that I go and talk to him about perhaps getting a bike or doing some work or something. He lived on Stoneley Road – no, not Stoneley Road – near where the Hunters Lodge is. So I went down past Nerina’s but she wasn’t there, and I got to this house. I knocked on the door but no-one came. It was a bungalow and the front door was at the side of it. I put my head into the garage but there was nothing in there but I was tempted to go for a really good look around, which I did. When I came out I bumped into a couple who were most surprised to see me. I was most surprised to see them – it didn’t half look suspicious. I explained what I was doing. The guy started to be really aggressive in a light-hearted, funny way saying things like “when they said this kind of thing to Clement Freud on 20 Questions he became most upset, things like that. This went on for a couple of minutes. I ended up being cornered by this man and woman. She was telling me all about the stuff that he was building but e guy was being all aggresssive. Suddenly they ushered me into the house. There in the living room was a load of people all wearing black, motorbike types in black t-shirts, black leather waistcoats and so on and they had all kinds of things in there like cars that were turning into circus attractions, that kind of thing, all together. Someone I knew who was a friend of mine, either my former friend from Stoke on Trent or Rhys (yes, you have a mention, Rhys), said something about having to go and tax his motorbike. I made some kind of comment about my motorbike needing taxing as well, even though it wasn’t MoT’d. That’s where it ended.

The hospital tomorrow, and they are going to be checking my heart. At least I have one, which shows that I’m not a Tory. And I’m thankful for that.

Friday 23rd April 2021 – HAVING BEEN THROUGH …

… all of the excitement of yesterday and the effort through which I went, it was nice to be able to go to sleep at the end of the day with the thought that there would be no alarm in the morning.

Not that it worked out like that because firstly I’d forgotten to take the dictaphone with me to bed (it’s the only company that I have these days) so I had to leave the bed to fetch it.

And then I kept on awakening during the night. In fact I had to force myself to stay in bed until 09:00.

In the end there were tons of stuff on the dictaphone that needed transcribing. Having forgotten to take one of these new pills before going to bed I had a very restless night again. Firstly I had 2 taxi-driving jobs lined up so I stepped out of the house to do them. There was another taxi driver waiting on the doorstep so I asked him what was the matter. He pointed to a house down in Southbank Avenue so we must have been in Shavington and he asked how far it was away from here. I replied “no more than 300 yards”. He said that on Christmas Even he was charged £22:00 for a taxi from here to there and he didn’t have that much money on him. He gave them what he had and it was 4p short so the taxi driver had chased him down the street. He was in a real rage about this. I’m not quite sure what he expected me to do about it or anything like that. He was pointing out all of the cars that they had down there and everything. I don’t really know what he was expecting me to do, he was in such a rage.
Later on there was something about these boys riding to horse and rustling all these cattle from these established ranches. One of them who was grabbed and executed was the chief of one of the other bands so they had ordered a few more guns and were expecting all kinds of help from the US Military in order to save them because the family of the guns was surely going to go out and ask for retribution while this feud was going on and they had lost their father because of it.

All these people going on about how the Tory Party promised to make them rich but it had never happened and everyone was just as poor. The guy who was doing the most spouting was the one who was behind some kind of election programme from the previous election that suggested something very different to what he was saying now. I thought that that was typical of politicians. He was teaching people a new song about the Pound in their pocket that was different from the election previously when he was singing a song about it and how all the children had been promised that it was hard work that was going to get them to succeed in the future and not on skiving off at sometime after 15:00 and coming home early. There was an interesting little poem that discussed it that I remembered right up to the time that I picked up the dictaphone but I’ve forgotten it now.
There was outdoor mining that creates clouds and clouds of dust whereas indoor mining inside a mine shaft creates very little dust at all because there are no currents of air so that’s why they considered face masks down where they were mining not to be particularly necessary, and I’d love to know to what all of this relates.

That’s no all of it either. I was also off on my travels camping during the night. I had a Hillman Imp. I pulled up in this field and there were already 2 or 3 tents in there. Some girl who was some kind of – I dunno – organiser told me where to put my tent. She said “don’t worry about that red kind of canvas over there. That’s an old awning off a tent that someone is making their home in it”. I started to put up my little tent but I wasn’t doing a very good job of it. A couple of people came over and asked “is that your tent”? I replied “yes” and we started to have a little chat. 2 girls came over to introduce themselves and handed me a menu – they were running some kind of little cafe on this site. I ordered a mug of coffee and some toast, someone else ordered a mug of coffee and some toast but he said “put loads of relishes on the toasts, everything you’ve got goes on it”. Another girl turned to talk to me and talked in a kind of pigdin- French so I replied in French but I couldn’t think of my words and it was all coming out wrong. She said “don’t you think that we had better talk in English before we get ourselves tied in knots?

So after all of that I had a coffee and then sat down to deal with the music for the next four radio programmes.

Yesterday, I’d chosen the tracks so today I went to combine them in pairs and add the technical parts for the first pair of each programme. It’s necessary to make sure that I have a good opening track, a good 10th track and to combine them in suitable pairs

Each first track of a pair has to merge in with the second at an appropriate point, and it’s rather confusing having to do work out the timings with a pen and paper rather than with my marker and whiteboard.

But to my surprise, I’d finished it all by lunchtime, and that included stopping for toast and coffee for a mid-morning break.

And then, after lunch, to my dismay, I crashed out for half an hour.

A little later on in the afternoon I went for a nice walk down to the Carrefour supermarket. I wanted some more banana drink, some mushrooms for my Sunday pizza and to see if they had any more of the vegan burgers on special offer. Another couple of those for home next week will be nice.

edouard remy building Andreas Vesaliusstraat Leuven belgium Eric HallHere’s something past which I walk almost every time that I go to the Carrefour.

It beats me what it’s supposed to be. The building itself is the new student Halls of Residence, the Edouard Remy building (whoever he was when he was at home, if he ever was) with some old student accommodation on the other side of the road with the advert on its gable end.

A for the yellow thing, it’s probably a piece of modern art, but that doesn’t take us any further along the road. There wasn’t a sign to explain exactly what it was, and that’s always a bad sign. According to The Men From The Ministry, any statue that needs an explanation ought to be banned as being indecent.

modern student residence Frederik Lintsstraat Leuven belgium Eric HallAround the corner from the Andreas Vesaliusstraat in the Frederik Lintsstraat is some more even modern student accommodation.

A few years ago I remember seeing this in the course of construction but I don’t ever recall taking a photo of the completed building even though it’s been completed for at least a couple of years.

But look at the garden in the front of at. All of these raised beds for cultivation. It brings back many happy records of my old place in Central France where I had raised beds down in my vegetable garden.

But they never looked anything as nice as this lot ever did. Wouldn’t it have been nice if I’d managed to make my vegetable garden look like this.

den horen 1621 home of jaspar de paepe, weaponsmith vlamingenstraat leuven belgium Eric HallAround the corner in the Vlamingenstraat I didn’t take the short cut through the Sint Donatus Park but walked down to the end of the street past this beautiful building.

It dates from 1621 so we are told and it was the home of Jasper de Paepe. He was apparently a weaponsmith of the time. But his building here seems to be one of the very few survivors of that particular period in this part of the city.

When I return home I’ll have to do some research into de Paepe. The one that I could find had several accounts on various social networking sites so it probably isn’t the correct one, unless the internet is older than we all think.

road works naamsestraat leuven belgium Eric HallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that the other day we saw all of the roadworks being undertaken at the and of the Naamsestraat.

Today, the roadworks have advanced considerably up the street today and I fell into them almost as soon as I left the Vlamingenstraat It’s looking as if they mean business here, and so I suppose that this will be another Soviet-type “Five Year Plan” like we’ve seen up on the way to the hospital

My route to the Carrefour went through the old Beguignage, one of the most beautiful parts of the city and then I went to do my shopping I bought everything that I had intended to and even remembered the vegan cheese for once I forgot that last time that I was here.

house closed by authorities 178 naamsevest leuven belgium Eric HallOn the way back to my little room I noticed yet another abandoned building closed by the local authorities. Now that I know what I’m looking for, I’m finding them everywhere.

Tea tonight was a burger with pasta and veg followed by apricots for dessert. And then I had a big washing-up session ready for departing tomorrow.

With all of the rail perturbation due to the pandemic, I have a train at a more reasonable hour in the morning. 10:13 it leaves Brussels so I need to be out of here at a couple of hours earlier. I can actually stay in bed until 06:00 if I like.

But I’m not going to get home until 18:00 tomorrow so that’s a big down side of it all. I don’t like that idea very much.

Wednesday 21st April 2021 – HERE I ALL AM …

… not stting in a rainbow but sitting in my little room in the back end of Leuven, comfortably installed as usual.

When the alarm went off at 04:25 I fell out of bed, fully-dressed because I was taking no chances last night and set about organising myself, making sandwiches, a flask of coffee, checking the packing and steam-cleaning the toilet which was in something of a deplorable condition (I’m letting the housework fall behind again unfortunately while I battle with other things).

Bang on 05:10 I it the streets and headed off to the station. In the pitch-black too as most of the street-lighting was out and I had one or two narrow scrapes, putting my feet on steps that weren’t there, that kind of thing.

82645 82790 Bombardier B82500 gare de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallWhen I arrived at the railway station, I was early and my train hadn’t yet arrived but there were some others in.

There were a couple of other trains there at the platform waiting for what I really don’t know. These are Bombardier B82500 multiple units and part of the huge modernisation plan of the SNCF over the last 10 or so years. From Granville they usually work the route between Caen and Rennes

When you hear people complaining about the filthy, unreliable trains of the SNCF you can tell that they haven’t set foot on a train in France for the last 15 years at least. There has been much more investment in French railways than in the UK for a start.

84565 GEC Alstom Regiolis gare de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAbout 5 minutes after I arrived, my train pulled into the station. It’s one of the usual GEC Alstom Regiolis trains introduced over the last 5 years or so, just in time for me.

This one is 84565 and it must be based here in Granville because I’ve travelled on it on several occasions. There was only 1 unit of 6 carriages and despite it being the only train of the day to Paris it was quite empty.

On the way into Paris I spent the time of the journey going through the computer and sorting out the music, and then going through and attacking a few of the duplicate files that have accumulated on various hard drives.

We arrived in Paris bang on time. The station wasn’t all that busy and I managed not to fall over today. I was quickly onto the Metro and reached the Gare du Nord with plenty of time to spare before my train left. So much so that they hadn’t even affixed the platform number and I had to wait for that.

213 TGV Reseau Duplex gare du nord paris France Eric HallOnce they posted up the platform details I could go off and look for my train.

Once again, it’s one of the “Reseau Duplex” trains that work the like from Paris to Lille Flandres. A double-decker, which shows just how far ahead Continental thinking is of British thinking, and I’m on the upstairs deck in corridor seat.

The train was pretty full this afternoon too. There’s a neighbour too in the adjacent seat but he had nothing to say for himself. And neither did I because, unsurprisingly, I fell asleep for part of the journey and the ticket collector had to awaken me.

The ticket collector gave me some good news too. The validity of my Senior Citizens’ Railcard has been extended by three months to make up for the disruption to travel.

But bang on time yet again we arrived at Lille Flandres railway station and I had to set off for my trek to Lille Europe and the TGV to Brussels.

sculpture place francois mitterand outside gare de lille europe France Eric HallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that we’ve seen plenty of weird and wonderful things on our travels.

In front of the Lille Europe railway station is the Place Francois Mitterand, named after the Socialist politician who, despite anything that General de Gaulle’s partisan supporters will tell you, was the longest-serving President in French history.

It’s a dreary, desolate, windswept place with little to relieve the monotony. For that reason they sometimes decorate the Square with all kinds of weird and wonderful artefacts, and today it’s the turn of these rather interesting artificial flowers to relieve the monotony.

But I didn’t hang around long to admire them. I had other fish to fry.

4515 TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt gare de lille europe France Eric HallWhen I arrived at the railway station at Lille Europe, I found that my train was already in at the platform even though there was 25 minutes before it was due to leave.

There’s no time like the present, so I wandered down to the front of the train to take a photo. It’s a rather weather-beaten and weary TGV Reseau 38000, the same models as the Thalys PBA (Paris Brussels Amsterdam) trainsets on which we travel occasionally from Brussels back to Paris.

Having taken my photograph I went and found my seat. The train is again a “short” one, just one unit of 8 coaches instead of the usual 2-unit trains. And although it was busy, there was enough room for most people to sit by themselves.

Arriving once more on time, I went to look for my train to Leuven.

nederlandse spoorwegen class e186 locomotive 9184 1186 003 gare du midi brussels belgium Eric HallThere was a few minutes to wait so I could have a look around and see what was going on at the adjacent platforms. Just across the way was this Nederlandse Spoorwegen trainset doing the run from Brussels to Amsterdam.

These are some comparatively old-style carriages with a modern class E186 electric locomotive at each end in a kind of push-me pull you arrangement. The locomotives are built by Bombardier and are based on the TRAXX designs that were developed for the Deutsche Bahn 20 years ago.

Even though the Nederlandse Spoorwegen units are quite modern, they may not be around for much longer. Word on the streets suggests that the Dutch are working on some high-speed multiple-unit train sets. These will be sold back to the leasing company who will redistribute them around other railway networks that use this type.

320 am 80 multiple unit gare du midi brusseks belgium Eric HallThere was just enough time to photograph the Dutch train before my train to Leuven pulled in.

It’s another one of the rather disreputable AM80 multiple unit sets – 40 years old and covered in graffiti. Old vinyl seats and lino on the floor.

But considering their age and what appears to be their general lack of care and attention they still rack up the miles on a lot of long-distance work that would have seen off many a more modern unit

The train was pretty busy too but again I was lucky to to have a seat to myself. And we arrived in Leuven without any inconvenience at all.

To my delight, my key was already in the safe so by 13:30 I was sitting down in comfort on the sofa eating my butties. And then I dozed off for half an hour. And I didn’t regret it at all after my exertions today.

fire damaged house dekenstraat leuven belgium Eric Halllater on I nipped out to the shops, but I didn’t get too far – in fact a house next-door but one to the complex where I stay.

There’s been a fire here, as you can see, and the building is boarded up. Nevertheless you can see the scorching on the brickwork above the door and the windows. It must have been quite a serious blaze.

The sign affixed to the wall next to the door states “declared uninhabitable since 26th March 2021” an I wonder if that’s because of the fire, or whether the fire is as a result of the property being declared uninhabitable.

So musing on that, I carried on my way towards the shops.

house rebuilding dekenstraat leuven belgium Eric HallOf course I had to pause to take a look at the house at the end of the street here.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I have passed a considerable amount of comment on the slow rate of the various projects that are being undertaken here and there around the city. And despite the time that this building has taken to be renovated, it’s still not finished.

It beats me what takes the time with all of this work. They used to build railway lines in far less time than this with just picks and shovels. I shudder to think of how they are proceeding with the demolition of Sint Pieters or the refurbishment of the Monseigneur Vanwaeyenberghlaan.

crowds st donatuspark leuven belgium Eric HallMy route took me past the St Donatus Park, one of my favourite places in the city.

One of the things that I like to do is to go in there for a wander around but this evening wasn’t quite so pleasant because I could hear the noise from a couple of streets away. I knew that it was going to be busy, and not just with inflatable figures either.

And sure enough, there were hordes of people making the most of the warn evening weather. Not much social distancing and even fewer masks too. It looks as if Belgium has suspended many of the health rules relating to the Corona virus. I wonder if they will end up regretting that.

medieval city walls crowds st donatuspark leuven belgium Eric HallWhile I was here, I took a photo of the crowds from this angle.

One of the things that I like about this park is the fact that there are several remains of the old city walls here. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we’ve seen quite a few photos of them, but we haven’t ever seen a photo of them from this angle.

The gate at the far end was closed so I had to retrace my steps to leave the park. My route to the supermarket thus took me down the street and the short cut through the old Beguingage.

My luck was in when I was there. There were several vegan burgers and the like reduced by 50% for a quick sale so I bought a couple of packs to eat while I’m here. IN fact, I ended up spending rather a lot of money today.

road junction naamsestraat naamsevest under repair leuven belgium Eric HallOn the way back I went to look at the roadworks taking place at the junction of the Naamsestraat and the ring road.

When I was here last month they were already attacking it, and I suppose I was being rather optimistic to think that they might possibly have finished. The place is in quite a mess with all kinds of confusion with various side streets and pedestrian crossings closed off.

It took me a good while to find out where to cross. And then I had to fight my way through the hordes of pedestrians, cyclists and moped riders battling for the same amount of restricted space and I was nearly run down a couple of times. But lugging my heavy load on my shoulders I finally made it across.

ambulance Erasme Ruelensvest leuven belgium Eric HallWhile I was on my way home from the Carrefour I’d seen fleets of ambulances with their blue lights flashing, roaring down the road.

And a few minutes later they cam roaring back, still with their blue lights flashing. But where they are going on the return journey I really don’t know because the hospital is in the other direction.

Back here I made tea. Burger with pasta and veg in tomato sauce, followed by apricots (once I’d fought my way into the tin). And having written out my notes, I’m now off to bed. I’ve had a very long day and I’m exhausted. There’s plenty to do tomorrow before I go to the hospital too so I need my beauty sleep.

Need it more than most people in fact, and for the obvious reason too.

So much so in fact that it was a couple of days before I managed to listen to the dictaphone to see if I’d been anywhere during the night. Someone had died in a log cabin and I was investigating this with someone. We found a group of people and it was quite obvious that the story that they were telling us was false so we urged one of these guys, telling him that telling a false story was likely to be very dangerous because if we could prove that it was false it would discredit the rest of his story and he would end up being hanged. In the end he agreed that he had fired the shot as he had entered the room but fired into the darkness and gave a few other indications that admitted that he was perfectly correct in what he’d said, and whoever had killed him had been in there beforehand and they were making their escape when he and his party pulled up.

Thursday 25th February 2021 – YESTERDAY I MENTIONED …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday 1st January 2021 – I’M GLAD …

… that 2020 had finished. That was one difficult year and the first time that I haven’t been to North America for I don’t know how long.

And in case you are wondering, which I’m sure that you aren’t, I’m not convinced that 2021 is going to be much better.

At least we started off on the right foot because despite not going to bed until about 02:00 this morning, I was up and about, with no alarm, at 09:30. A few more days like that will suit me fine but I shan’t be having them.

After the medication I came back here to listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night.

My friend from the Saone valley and his friends came to visit me during the night. I was in Virlet – or what passes for Virlet and I was very embarrassed when they saw the kind of state in which I was living. I was trying to interest them in things like the radio telescope in the valley down below. The he asked where all of my CDs were even though they were in plain evidence all over the walls. It was a very strange meeting and wasn’t exactly how I intended it to be or thought that it would be. They stayed for a while and all cleared off again. I shook my head and couldn’t see the point of that and what was going to happen next.
But next I had to leave the house and I was in the van. Part of this area was a building site round by Joey the Swan in Crewe. One of the ways to get up where I was was to reverse back up the hill past these half-built houses and reach the main road that way, or the 2nd thing to do was to cut through one of the driveways and onto the main road through the back of one of the drives. I must have driven and reversed up and down that road 3 or 4 times trying to work out which would be the best drive to go up. There was one but for some reason I kept on overshooting it and ending up in one that was more unsuitable.

Apart from that, I had a half-hearted go at doing my Welsh homework and at least that’s now up to date. Apart from that I’ve done nothing at all. Even for lunch I just had a slice of toast.

christmas lights naamsestraat leuven belgium Eric HallYesterday I remember saying that I would go out this evening to inspect the Christmas lights that I hadn’t seen yesterday when I walked though the city on my way home.

At least, later on after it had gone dark I managed to tear myself away from whatever I wasn’t doing and headed off into the freezing cold . I ended up in the Naamsestraat to see what the decorations were like, and as you can see for yourself, they are pretty depressing.

At least the lights wrapped around one of the towers of the town hall provide some kind of relief to the start environment.

christmas lights oude markt leuven belgium Eric HallFrom the Naamsestraat there are several little alleyways that lead on down to the Oude Markt.

The Oude Markt is, in more normal times, the centre of café life in the city, crowded with people even in the middle of winter and in the past there have been some really beautiful and impressive Christmas lights here. But while these look quite nice, they aren’t a patch on what we’ve seen in the past.

A real sign of the times right here and now is that there isn’t another soul in the image this evening apart from someone on a bicycle heading my way.

food delivery cyclists kortestraat leuven belgium Eric HallThe far end of the Oude Markt is a small street called the Kortestraat, or “short street” that leads into the Grote Markt.

This is the street where almost every commercial ground-floor premises is a fast-food takeaway and I’ve had a couple of good meals in one of the fritkots here. But these days they are all closed to customers except for takeway and delivery, and one of the very few benefits of the current situation is the explosion in the number of food delivery cyclists in the city.

There’s a couple of dozen loitering here waiting to be beckoned by one of the food outlets.

christmas tree and lights grote markt leuven belgium Eric HallYesterday I took a photo of the Town Hall – the Stadhuis – with all of its illuminations.

In previous years there have been all kinds of other decorations, such as creches and stables and the like in the Square but this year there is nothing at all like that. There’s a Christmas tree and natural tree that is illuminated and in between them is a small creche but that’s just about your lot.

Mind you, the buses are driving around the usual Christmas route deviation instead of driving through the Square

christmas lights mechelsestraat leuven belgium Eric HallOne thing that you have probably noticed is the absence of pedestrians in the city this evening.

From the Grote Markt I walked around the back of St Pieters Church and down the hill into the Mechelsestraat and here I struck it lucky. In this photograph you can actually see five other people, four on foot and one on a bicycle.

What I don’t see though are any really exotic Christmas decorations. A few lights strung up across the street and a few draped over a shop display by a private individual and that’s it.

christmas lights bondgenotenlaan leuven belgium Eric Hallhaving inspected the Mechelsestraat I continued on my lap around the church without noticing anything special, and found myself at the bus stop in the Rector de Somerplein.

From there, there is a good view all the way down the Bondgenotenlaan to the Martyrs’ Column in the Martelarenplein and the Railway Station in the background. Every year the trees in the avenue are illuminated with lights draped in the branches and while this has never been anything startling, at least they have maintained the decorations this year.

And before I could regain the pavement I was almost squidged by a family on pushbikes weaving around in the street

christmas lights university library monseigneur ladeuzeplein leuven belgium Eric HallBack on the pavement I walked on along the street and then cut down a side street into the Monseigneur Ladeuzeplein.

Once again, the lights here in the Square are pretty disappointing. In front of us is the famous University Library, burnt to the ground along with all of its priceless possessions and collection of ancient books by the Germans in 1914 during the Sack of Leuven. And the lights here on this building aren’t anything like they have been.

Even so it looks extremely impressive, illuminated just like this.

christmas lights monseigneur ladeuzeplein leuven belgium Eric HallOn the way back home I walked across the Monseigneur Ladeuzeplein towards the Tiensestraat.

Looking behind me, I noticed that the trees had received some kind of decoration to relieve the monotony, but again, I’ve seen much better than this in the past.

When I arrived back home I went to sit down for a couple of minutes but ended up crashing out for an hour. For some reason, this walking thing is taking a lot out of me.

Not feeling hungry I just made a sandwich for tea. There’s no need to eat if I’m not feeling particularly like it.

Now I’ve written my notes I’m off to bed. There’s an alarm tomorrow so I want to be on form. I have a date in the afternoon.

Tuesday 29th December 2020 – WHILE YOU ADMIRE …

river dijle groot begijnhof leuven belgium Eric Hall… the images of this afternoon’s walk through the Groot Begijnhof and along the River Dijle, let me tell you about where I went during the night.

I started off with a lady friend of mine from University last night but somehow I mixed her up with a girl with hom I once worked. She was separating from a black guy. He was still living in the family home in Dantzig Street and finding the payments difficult to keep up and was saying that he would have to sell it. That surprised me because I was wondering what she was going to receive from this because it’s bad enough being the mother of a couple of kids but being kicked out of your family home and living in a little dirty flat isn’t very good for the morale or anything like that. She should be doing much better than this. I can’t remember any more about this dream but interestingly I awoke at 06:00 as I would have done had the 1st alarm gone off even though I’d switched off the alarms this morning.

river dijle groot begijnhof leuven belgium Eric HallAnd the fun was only beginning.

Later on I was with a girl who was a real blast from the past from 45 years ago. We’d been on some kind of date kind of thing. One evening round at her house I suggested going for a walk but instead one of her friends (who was in fact keen on me all those years ago) came with me instead. I decided that it wasn’t a good idea for her to come along (back in those days there were a couple of reasons why I didn’t pursue this line) so in the end I let her go back home. I was wandering around Crewe on my own looking at how disgusting and dirty the place was, thinking that I should drive around videoing it and putting it on Social Media to show everyone what kind of dump the place is. Then the principal girl suggested that we go for a drive. We got into her car and she drove, and she wasn’t a bad driver at all, quite good in this little Mini that she had. We drove off out of town and came to a road junction where we had to turn. She said that we’d turn right so I asked where we were going. She said “you’ll find out”. We were heading in the direction of the hospital and I wondered what was going on in there, whether one of her friends was there, for I was hoping to get her up a dark alley and be much more friendly than I had been to date but if we were going to the hospital to see a friend, that ruled that out, didn’t it?

There was something else that I don’t remember very much, about me being in a bathroom somewhere. There were 2 guys who were the handymen for this building and 1 in particular spent some time in the area where I was. When I went out there was just the other guy there so I said that the light was out in the bathroom that I’d just used and perhaps he ought to tell his friend when he returned to do something about it but I can’t remember where this fitted in at all.

river dijle groot begijnhof leuven belgium Eric HallSomewhat later I’d done a big pile of cooking and I had all of these casserole dishes full of stuff all over the place, 2 big ones. I’d been ill and been in bed so they had been sitting in the kitchen for 2 or 3 days. I’d invited Barbara Windsor back, presumably for a right old carry-on. I’d been seeing her a couple of tiles and eventually I plucked up the courage to ask her out. She came back to my place and I started to parcel up these casserole things into individual portions The portions turned out to be a lot smaller than I was thinking and she was saying that maybe I should have done it into fives instead of sixes We were listening to the radio in the background and they announced ‘Top of the Pops” and I’m not going any further along this road because it’s going to spoil a surprise that I have lined up for a few weeks’ time.

But by the time that this voyage ended, it was no longer Barbara Windsor- she had transformed herself into the girl who starred in the previous voyage and this will explain a lot to at least two people who follow these adventures more closely than they like to admit.

river dijle groot begijnhof leuven belgium Eric HallWhat with all of that, that took me up to about 09:30, which isn’t too bad for a lie-in, I suppose.

And by the time that I had finished transcribing all of these and all of the adventures from yesterday, of which there is quite a considerable amount which you will find if you go back to yesterday’s page, it wasn’t all that far off lunch.

And with having no cucumber and no salad cream or equivalent, I set off out to the shops yet again.

house renovation dekenstraat brabanconnestraat leuven belgium Eric HallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that when we were here last time, we saw them busy working on a house on the corner of the Dekenstraat and the Brabanconnestraat.

It goes without saying of course that I was interested in seeing how they were doing with it so I took myself off that way for a closer loon. And they seem to be fitting an outer skin on it, with these new modern bricks that are quite thin and not unattractive.

It’s a long way from being finished, which is no surprise around here when you see just how the builders work, so we’ll get to see plenty more of this work.

school of engineering Pope Leo 13 seminary dekenstraat andreas vesaliusstraat leuven belgium Eric HallWe’ve seen the building across there – the Pope Leo XIII Seminary founded in 1889 and installed in a building that was built between 1889 and 1896.

It’s a magnificent neo-gothic pile designed by Joris Helleputte, one of the finest examples of its type and period in the city, and so whatever was going on in the minds of the city fathers when they granted planning permission for the modern monstrosity opposite it which is the School of Engineering?

It really does destroy the whole effect of the magnificence of the former building, which unfortunately now due to the decline in the number of trainee priests, is now a hostel for devout Catholic students.

It’s enough to make anyone gasp in amazement.

medieval city walls sint donatus park leuven belgium Eric HallAnother thing that regular readers of this rubbish might recall is that there are still vestiges of the old medieval city walls dotted about here and there in the town.

When we were here last time I showed you a photograph of one of the old surviving towers in the Sint Donatus park, so while we’re passing through today, I reckoned that I would show you a remnant of the old city walls here in the park not too far away.

You may well have seen them before but I can’t remember. Anyway, here I am and here they are.

De Kangxi-Verbiest world globe naamsestraat leuven belgium Eric HallOne thing that you will have seen before is the Kangxi-Verbiest globe, although you won’t have seen it from this viewpoint.

Ferdinand Verbiest was a Jesuit priest who in 1659 went as a missionary to China. trying to impress the Chinese with the knowledge that was current in Europe at the time, he showed them a globe. This prompted the Chinese into an outburst of laughter because at the time the Chinese were well ahead of the Europeans in this manner of thinking.

This is not the original globe. That remains behind in China. This is a copy here in Leuven.

site of the proefsstraat gate naamsestraat leuven belgium Eric HallThe door to this yard opens up into the Naamsestraat and so I pushed on down the road.

Those two metal lines across the street – they indicate as far as they can the position of the Proefsstraat Gate which stood here from 1156 until 1755 and was part of the fortifications that we have just seen that encircled the city. It’s on the highest part of the street

Despite its age, it wasn’t the oldest of the gates around the city. It’s known that there were fortifications including a gate built somewhere around here in the 9th Century to protect the city from Norse raids.

And this gate here didn’t survive the defortification orders of the Austrian Empire either.

There’s a calvary built across the road from the stones of the gate, and that reminds me of the story about the time they wanted to built a calvary here in modern times and they sent out requests for a design. Due to a misunderstanding on the telephone, one architect sent in a drawing of John Wayne on his horse.

huis sint niklaas groot begijnhof leuven belgium Eric HallThrough now into the Groot Begijnhof which is a part of leuven that I love.

This is the Huis Sint Niklaas, gifted to the city in 1983. And I’ve probably taken a photo of that before too.

In Carrefour I bought what I needed, also plenty of stuff that I didn’t realise that I needed too. In fact I spent more on this second trip than I did on the first.

And then a long stagger home, where I made my sandwiches and then promptly crashed out for a really good hour.

What awoke me was a phone call from a friend in the UK. We’ve been in desultory touch here and there but she decided to ring me to see how I was. We chatted for well over an hour about all kinds of things.

condo gardens dekenstraat leuven belgium Eric HallLater on, I went out to buy some chips.

You’ve seen a photo of where I stay before but it looked so nice that I couldn’t resist photographing it again. But my favourite chip shop was now closed so I had to find another one. Beans and chips and burger for tea.

Now it’s late and I’m ready for bed. No watching a film like I did last night. It’s too late for that. Especially as I have an alarm set for the morning. I did 2 lots of Welsh homework today but I still need to push on when and where I can. And Thursday is D-Day at the hospital so I need to be on form.

Tuesday 3rd November 2020 – I DIDN’T …

… accomplish very much of my plans today.

The plans all started to misfire last night when I listened to the radio for hours instead of going to sleep. And then I couldn’t doze off once the programme stopped.

Eventually I suppose it must have dropped off, and once I did, I went off on a little voyage.

I was in a psychological thriller again last night, on a couple of occasions too. There were five groups of us, all different colours and we were combining somewhere in some way in which to go off on a voyage but a few people were unstable and led to a few incidents. Everyone was watching closely everyone else until I became alone with someone who then exploded and hot me with a bottle, this kind of thing. Eventually he was overwhelmed and tranquilised. Then we drifted on again but it turned out that it wasn’t this person. He was someone who was suffering from the stress and I ended up alone with the other person who was manifesting allthe signs of everything, and I was hit on the head with a bottle again. This guy escaped through a window to run around the roof. They left him to it. I had to go to the top of the stairs and shout for someone and they came up. They all seemed to occcupy themselves with this guy, not me. I was in a bit of a state. In the end the guy came back in and basically admitted everything. he said “well I suppose that Igoing to be hanged now?” or something. They said “no. We’ll take you away and get you all patched up and cut a few bits out here and a few bits out there and you’ll be fine. All the tlme I was sitting on this sofa. I’d been hit over the head twice with a bottle but no-one was paying the slightest bit of attention to me and my wounds.

Although the alarm went off at 06:00 etc it was about 07:40 when I finally left the bed and after typing out the dictaphone notes, I prepared for today’s Welsh course;

That involved trying to make Zoom work on my mobile phone and for some unknown reason that wasn’t as easy as it might have been. But apart from the fact that it was difficult to see what the tutor was writing or displaying, it worked very satisfactorily on the phone. It’s a good idea that I obtained a digital copy of the course book and uploaded it to the laptop.

The course went quickly today too and I actually felt a lot more confident about it than I have done just recently.

But the bad news came during the course work. The ‘phone was pinging all the way through the lesson and when I looked at the end of the course, I found that my train from Lille to Paris and from Paris to Granville are cancelled. This is going to take some planning, I reckon, if I want to get home.

For lunch, I had finished off the last of the bread so I decided to go off and buy some more.

house with new roof dekenstraat leuven belgium Eric HallSeeing as it was daylight and quite a pleasant afternoon to boot, I decided to retrace my steps of last night, only this time being able to see where I’m going.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that a month or so ago we say them ripping off the roof of one of the houses in the Dekenstraat and so I was interested to see how they had progressed with it.

And by the looks of things, it’s actually completed, the scaffolding has been dismantled and everyone has gone back home. And by the looks of it, they’ve done a pretty good job too.

Onze Lieve Vrouw Ter Koorts vlamingenstraat leuven belgium Eric HallCarrying on along the labyrinth I came to the corner of the Vlamingenstraat. As I said yesterday, I’ve not been down here during the day so I wasn’t aware of what there is to see here;

And here is one of the interesting buildings that I must have missed last night. It’s the Onze Lieve Vrouw Ter Koorts, the Chapel of Our Lady of the Sorrows. It’s another one of these places where originally there was a tree and then there was a statue in the tree, and then people came on pilgrimages to see the statue and so they started to build a chapel for the pilgrims and so on.

It was purchased by the University in 1986 and is now part of the research and archive centre of the university.

tower old city walls sint donatuspark leuven belgium Eric HallAcross the road, the Sint Donatus Park was now opened so that I could go for a walk around there today.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we’ve taken a couple of photos in here before in the distant past. There are quite a few relics of the city’s glorious past in here and the medieval defences are quite prominent here;

Leuven is much more lucky than many cities in Belgium where the medieval defences have been totally swept away. Here, we still have a few walls and towers and as we saw last month round by the River Dijle, they actually are taking some kind of care of them.

scene stage sint donatuspark leuven belgium Eric HallIt’s not just the medieval remains in the park that are worthy of attention;

There’s this stage in here, down at the southern end of the park. I would imagine, not that I have any evidence to support it, that it’s the kind of place where they would have open-air concerts in the summer. That’s the kind of thing that goes on in mist parks.

The painting od the whale is particularly interesting and in fact, the rear of the building seems to resemble the scales of a fish.

Centrum Agrarische Geschiedenis Atrechtcollege Naamsestraat 63 3000 Leuven belgium Eric HallSome of the gates in the park were locked so I found my way out into the Naamsestraat by way of the grounds of the Centrum Agrarische Geschiedenis Atrechtcollege.

This is the Centre for Agricultural History and the students here are studying the heritage and history of rural life, food and agriculture since the 1750s to the present day and have created a knowledge bank of more than 12,000 photos and documents relating to the last couple of centuries;

There’s also a large collection of artefacts but these are housed elsewhere in West Flanders which is a shame because that would have been somewhere that I would have liked to visit.

De Kangxi-Verbiest hemelglobe Centrum Agrarische Geschiedenis Atrechtcollege Naamsestraat 63 3000 Leuven belgium Eric HallIn the courtyard of the Centrum Agrarische Geschiedenis is this really beautiful bronze globe:

It’s a replica of the globe that was used by the Flemish missionary and astronomer Ferdinand Verbeist at the Chinese court in 1763 (the original is still in Imperial Observatory in Beijing) to try to demonstrate that western science was superior to that of the Chinese, something that apparently provoked a great deal of merriment.

Apart from that, Verbiest has a claim to fame in that some suggest that a design of a self-propelled steam-powered vehicle that he drew and about which he wrote in 1672 was actually a working model and this would have been the first “automobile”.

sint michielskerk naamestraat leuven belgium Eric HallDown the road from the College is the Sint Michielskerk.

It’s considered by some to be one of the “Seven Wonders of Leuven” and was declared a National Monument in 1940. It dates from the third quarter of the 17th Century and designed by Father Willem Hesius for the Jesuit Order, who took his inspiration from Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola’s Il Gesu in Rome.

Many people have said that it strongly resembles an altar, an effect that Hesius managed to continue on the outside as well as on the inside.

After the Austrian occupiers dissolved the Jesuit Order, the church then became a Parish Church.

old city walls Redingenstraat Leuven belgium Eric HallRound again through towards the Groot Begijnhof I had to take a little detour from my normal route due to roadworks.

Down the Redingenstraat, another street down which I have never previously set my sooty foot, I came across yet more historical relics, to wit – another length of the old city wall.

It seems that there is a great deal of this wall still standing and one of these days I shall have to make an inventory of what there is. But whatever there is left, it’s a real shame that more effort wasn’t made to retain more of it.

groot begijnhof leuven belgium Eric HallFinally finding my way through into the Groot Begijnhof I could have a little wander around to pass the time,

As I said the other day, this is a place where I would really love to live. Nice and peaceful in some wonderful medieval buildings.

From here I found my way to the Carrefour where I bought my bread and some stuff for pudding. And a few more vegan articles that were reduced for special offer. There was also a 2-kg sack of bread flour “just add water” for just €1:00. Not that I’m expecting it to be much good but at that price I’ll give it a try.

Tea was burger and pasta in tomato sauce followed by peaches and sorbet. And then my notes;

Bed-time now, and then Castle Anthrax tomorrow. They haven’t cancelled my appointment yet but there is plenty of time to go. And then I have to worry about getting home. That’s a job for after my appointment is finished. No need to do anything quite yet as they too are likely to change.

Monday 2nd November 2020 – I FORGOT …

… to set the alarms for this morning. And so waking up at 07:15 took me as much by surprise as it probably took you lot.

Mind you, that might have something to do with the pounding of the rain on the skylight above my head. It was absolutely wicked.

There was some stuff on the dictaphone too but there was no point in doing anything with it right now for a look on the computer told me that this upgrade was now at 55%. This was going to be a very long day. Summoning up what energy that I could, I spent the morning trying to revise my Welsh for my lesson.

That took me up to lunch and then I had a look at the laptop. I’m not sure where it was going but it wasn’t going any further. The installation had crashed. After quite a little fettling I managed to take it back via a system restore to how it was immediately after I had it running again. And then it reinstalling a lot of the programs that had dropped off.

It made me think, and not for the first time too, that it was a mistake to bring this laptop with me.

When it finally fired up I was able to deal with the dictaphone notes

Apparently I had had a home invasion last night. A gang of teenagers entered my home last night and I couldn’t get them out. I even had one of them trapped inside a rubber glove and I ws swinging the glove around above my head although I couldn’t actually throw it. When I tried to phone the Police, there was no-one there. They said that they would take my number and call me back even on an emergency line. It had taken me a long time togo off to sleep after last night and this made me wake up in a feverish sweat again. One thing that I wondered was that are feverish sweats product of the dream or is the dream the product of the feverish sweats?

This was another long dream something like Saturday Night Fever, something like that but I can’t remember much because I awoke in the middle of it and it all evaporated. It was two boys having all these streetwise arguments and discussions about all kinds of people. They had been trying to roll some kind of guy from some other organisation but he was continually managing to outwit them. Once they cornered him and got him come with them in their motorbike and sidecar somewhere but somewhere on the way he escaped, but I don’t know where he escaped. One minute he was in the motorbike and sidecar, the next minute he wasn’t so I went to put my dream on “rewind” and it rewound but it didn’t actually go back so I couldn’t find out how it was that this guy had escaped. But it was something extremely weird trying to rewind a dream – not the usual kind of thing that you try to do during the night but it shows that it’s getting to me.

building work dekenstraat leuven belgium Eric HallTea was a vegan pizza from the pizza place -one of the vegan pizzas that I had seen last time that I was here. Luckily the rain had eased off so it was safe to go out. And that was a good job because it had really been awful during the day.

Instead of going down the ring road, I went for a wander through the edge of the town in the maze of little streets at the back here. Down at the end of the Dekenstraat I came across yet another building site where they are erecting a few terraced houses.

This isn’t a way that I come very often so I can’t say what there was here before. It’s another one of these places that I shall have to keep an eye on as time evolves and see how the work is progressing..

vlamingenstraat leuven belgium Eric HallEventually I worked my way through the labyrinth and into the Vlamingenstraat, one of the streets that leads off the Tiesesteenweg.

It’s a beautiful little street up at the Tiensesteenweg end, but I don’t ever recall coming this far down. lots of typical late-19th Century terraced houses, now mostly converted into student quarters.

And on the left of this photo behind the iron railings is the Sint Donatus park, with several remnants of the old medieval city walls, including one of the original towers. I wasn’t able to go in there to have a look round though as during this pandemic it’s locked up during the night, which is a shame

sint kwintenskerk naamsestraat leuven belgium Eric HallHere’s something else that is all locked up at night too.

Finally in the Naamsestraat where I could walk down to the pizza place, I came across the Sint Kwinten’s Kerk. I’ve taken a photo of this before, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, but never at night. And it looks so much better in the dark when it’s illuminated.

Dating from about 1450, it was built on the site of a previous chapel like most churches of that era. The Dutch historian Justus Lipsius described it in 1605 as “the nicest church in Leuven”, a distinction with which the Belgian Government seems to agree, for it was declared an Ancient Monument in 1937.

Eventually I arrived at the pizza place, purchased my pizza and took it home. And the verdict? It was delicious.

The plan was now to have an early night as I’m exhausted and I’ve no idea why It’s not as if I’ve done too much. Tomorrow I have my Welsh lesson and then I’m going to try to be brave and choose some music for my next radio show. The show must go on regardless.

Instead however, an Agatha Christie play came around on the radio, one that lasted for 2:12:00 so that was the early night out of the window. But not that I’m complaining. I’m allowed to enjoy myself every now and again.

Saturday 25th January 2020 – THEY WERE RIGHT …

… about this “fatigue” thing as a side effect of this new medical treatment.

Last night I crashed out long before I’d finished the notes for the day and having anticipated some kind of reaction and thus having switched off the alarm, it was 08:37 when I fist saw the light of day.

And that’s not to say that I left my bed either at that time.

But when I did, I had my medication and then came back up here and finished off yesterday’s notes. And it took me an age too because I wasn’t quite “with it”.

After breakfast I attacked the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night.

I started off with someone and we had been in a Traction Avant – a white one – and it was the road that left Shavington past the High School. It was very steep and got steeper and there was loose gravel and stones. We went roaring up there at a ridiculous speed making tons of clouds of dust, everything at the risk of punctures on the sharp stones. We got right to the top and we were talking about this and I can’t remember now. Then it came down to having to go back. I ended up with these two girls in the car with me. I must admit that was quite keen on these girls and so I asked them “do you want to go the way back or do you want to go a different way?” There was in fact a different way that was much more quieter and much more intimate. I thought “yes, we’ll go back a different way”. But instead they took me back yet another way, not the way that I was thinking. We were in a Morris 1100 by this time. We got back down the hill and the road was all flooded. We turned left and it was flooded there so I told the girl who was driving – one of these girls was driving – “keep it out of the wet. Keep it well over this side of the road and go really slow”. Just as we got there some guys were standing about and sending a huge splash on everyone so you couldn’t see and the cars were having accidents. Some people were getting out of their cars chasing these boys. I was telling these two girls that I just can’t get used to this kind of behaviour. It’s nothing like what it is in Europe and I just don’t understand it. They said something like “yes you get the complaints about the kids being on the streets all the time and out of the control of their parents and here they all are”. And at that point I must have awoken because the voyage seemed to have stopped there.
Later though we had the Pears soap commercial kind of thing. Clare had posted something about Wright’s Coal tar Soap in her Social Network page. We were playing football and some of the tackles were really desperate and dangerous and these kids were doing fine. There was a “share” button where you could share this video out with different people so I pressed “share” so that my friends could see the kind of foul tactics that this team was using against a team of kids. I don’t remember much about this but I seem to remember that I lost my wheelchair somewhere. And what all of this and the flashback to the Granville – Olympique de Marseille have to do with Clare and her soap I really have no idea.
Later still I was with Terry and Liz at Darren and Kate’s. We ended up in the cellar and their cellar was enormous. It was really really nice. I was being shown around it. There were four or five little rooms, one a boiler room with a boiler in it. They had cupboards hanging from the ceiling where the drawers pulled downwards into the room. I thought “how strange is that? it’s stupid”. But they pulled the drawers down and showed me that they were all arranged like shelves inside with all screws and all that kind of thing in it and it was really well done. The boiler was nice and hot and there was a big table by there and Darren and kate were working out some kind of design on the big table. One of the kids shouted that all the cats were out. A big grey and white one came in to the cellar and “no, we haven’t seen that. Are you sure that that one is ours? There are only 3 or 4 like that in the whole world. I gave it a big stroke and a tickle under the chin. It turned out that it belonged to a famous actress. She had had it as a kitten and one of the kids had lost their cat so she gave it to the kid.

old wibra building bondgenotenlaan leuven belgium eric hallBelieve it or not, all of that took ;e up until midday, at which point I went out for some bread.

Deciding to go for an extended walk and see what was in the shops, my perambulations took me via the FNAC (where there was nothing of interest) into the Bondgenotenlaan where I could qdmire the work that;s being done to the old “Wibra” shop.

We had some good things from there in the past and it’s a shame that they moved into smaller premises where they only carry a fraction of the stock.

old wibra building bondgenotenlaan leuven belgium eric hallThey have completely gutted the building until there is just the facade left.

We saw then a while ago having dug out the cellar and now they seem to be fitting in the concrete flooring for the first floor, the ground floor having already been done.

It’s taken them an age to get this far and I can’t see them finishing it off any time soon. But it will be interesting to see what will be going on here in the end.

Kruidvat had nothing of interest and neither did Zeeman, Hema, Sports Direct, Blokker and Flying Tiger. But the Wibra did. I’d bought a flexible rubber spatula for cookery purposes a while ago and I’ve found it useful for so many things. But I don’t want to taint it with tomato sauce and stuff like that so I need another. And there in Wibra they had small ones for just 79 cents.

Couldn’t find any small pyrex bowls, and neither could I find a set of pastry-cutting rings. I shall have to keep on trying my Systme D method.

vegan food van brusselsestraat leuven belgium eric hallhaving been to the Delhaize for my bread, my attention was distracrd yet again, in the Brusselsestraat this time.

This mobile food stall in the outdoor market here is one that I haven’t noticed before. And I surely would have done because it’s advertising quite a range of vegan food.

Not that I was too interested at that moment, having organised my butties for lunch, but I made a mental note of its existence for it might one day come in useful.

old brick foundations tiensestraat leuven belgium eric hallComing back up the Tiensestraat I noticed that they had been digging a hole in the pavement so I went to have a look down inside.

Not that I was sure what I was going to see of interest, if anything at all, but these brick foundations look interesting. The building here is a comparatively modern one so these presumably relate to a previous building here on the site.

And I bet that they would have an interesting story to tell us if only they could speak. It’s the kind of thing that is full of history.

house renovations tiensevest leuven belgium eric hallBack home to the back of the Condo gardens in the Windmolenveldstraat.

We’d seen yesterday that there was some work going on on the fence here, but there’s more work going on at one of the houses in the Tiensevest that backs onto the Windmolenveldstraat. The rear of the house has been demolished and it looks as if an extension might be being built here.

That’s something else for me to keep my eye on in the course of time, I suppose.

By the time that I returned it was long after lunchtime so I made my butties and a coffee. The aim was to carry on with more work but instead, this fatigue thing caught up with me and I crashed out again.

A proper, deep, full-blooded intense crashing out too. I was properly gone with the wind and for some while too.

When I finally rejoined the Land of the Living I had a shower and washed my clothes and then carried on with some more radio stuff.

The music for Project 17 is now chosen as far as I can, and I’m about half-way though the music for Project 18. With a live concert to fit in somewhere in between, I’m now well into March and that is exactly where I want to be. I need to be at least 2 months ahead of myself just in case I do actually make it back to the High Arctic again.

Tea was pasta and vegetables with lentils in tomato sauce followed by peach halves and sorbet. Thoroughly delicious it was too

sintmichielskerk naamsestraat leuven belgium eric halllater on, I went for a really good walk. My route took me around the Tiensevest, up the Parkstraat and into the Naamsestraat.

It’s a route that I hadn’t taken before so I was hoping to see lots of new things the existence of which I was previously unaware. And I wasn’t disappointed either because I came across the Sint Michielskerk in the Naamsestraat.

Built between 1650 and 1671 by the Jesuits, it’s said to be one of the most important baroque churches in the whole of Europe. And it certainly looked impressive to me from where I was standing.

No mention seems to be made of any damage during the Sack of Leuven in 1914 so it may well have escaped that, only to have been hit during a bombing raid in 1944.

You can’t win ’em all.

37 naamsestraat leuven belgium eric hallJust up the road a little at number 37 is this beautiful building.

Leuven was, and still is, a very rich city and there’s evidence of that all over the place. Magnificent houses are everywhere and this one is a typical example.

These days it seems to be a solicitors’ office but it would be interesting to look into its history and see who lived here in the past. Whoever it was can’t have been short of a bob or two and I for one am quite jealous.

standbeeld van andre dumont hogeschoolplein leuven belgium eric hallWe’ve been to the Hogeschoolplein before, but not down at this end.

Here is the statue of Andre Dumont. He’s more usually associated with Liege but his claim to fame is that he was responsible for the geological maps of Belgium published between 132 and 1849, having travelled all over the country – on foot. He deserves a statue for that alone.

As for the square itself, it was created between 1807 and 1812 and there are several colleges from the University scattered around here – hence the name.

dessertomat hogeschoolplein leuven belgium eric hallBut it also has another claim to fame too.

We’ve seen Pizzamats and Potatomats and breadomats in the past, but the Hogeschoolplein is the only place in the whole wide world where i have ever encountered a Dessertomat.

And if you think that I’m joking, I’m not. Put your three or four euros in and dial the appropriate number and you’ll have your Black Forest Gateau or Tiramisu without any more ado than that.

It’s probably the most interesting thing that I’ve seen in Belgium.

Back here I wrote up my journal and now I’m off to bed. Later than intended. And despite it being Sunday, there’s an alarm set for tomorrow because I’m having a day out in Germany. And I’m looking forward to that.

An early start so I need to be on form. But with only 5 hours sleep I’m not sure how that’s going to work at all.

Saturday 12th February 2017 – THEY’VE DONE IT AGAIN!

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that 5 weeks ago we went off to Lier to watch Lommel United play. And despite how well Lommel played, they conceded five really extraordinary and unlucky goals.

Today, OH Leuven were at home, and playing Lommel United. This is a real bottom-of-the-table clash which was a really important match for OH Leuven to win if they are to put any distance between themselves and the bottom of the table.

And it all started to go wrong for OH Leuven on the tenth minute. A corner put high into the OH Leuven penalty area, a Lommel United player falls to the floor, and the referee blows for a penalty. It was down at the far end of the field through the gloom and the mist of the evening (it was quite foggy again) and I couldn’t see what happened so I’ve no idea whether or not I agreed with the decision. Not that it made any difference because the decision was made, and a goal was scored.

So OH leuven had fallen behind in this important match, but it didn’t matter because sure enough, Lommel United’s self-destruct button went off again. On the attack down the centre of the field about 25 yards out, the OH Leuven n°31 Storm had a shot on goal. It was covered by the goalkeeper but the ball hit one of his own players on the back, looped up into the air, and dropped right into the opposite corner of the net.

If this wasn’t bad enough, 10 minutes later was even worse. With the Lommel United defence in something of a panic, the OH Leuven right winger broke down to the touch-line and drove a hard cross low into the penalty area. A Lommel United player stuck out a foot to stop the ball, and diverted it straight into his own net.

And that was that!

Last night was the worst night yet. I was still wide awake at 03:30, totally unable to go off to sleep. At some point I did manage to drop off to sleep, and struggled upstairs to breakfast at 07:00. I didn’t eat much of it. One of my two rounds of toast and more than half of my muesli ended up in the bin, and that’s a rare event isn’t it?

Back down here afterwards, I set the alarm for 11:00 and went back to bed and sleep. However, by 09:30 I was back awake again and I can get on and do stuff.

Not for long though. Alison sent me a text message, to say that she was in a café in town. Would I like to join her?

It was just as well that I’d had a good wash earlier this morning so it didn’t take me long to be on my way. Given the snow and the freezing cold outside, I put on two pairs of trousers. You remember that I have an over-size pair that I brought back from Canada. I couldn’t remember why I had this pair, but it all became clear the other week when I went off to Lier in minus 4°C or whatever it was.

Alison and I had a good chat over coffee, and then went round the corner to the fritkot for lunch. I had a falafel wrap which was more than enough, despite the fact that I hadn’t eaten very much at all for breakfast.

We went for a walk around the shops afterwards, and then back to another café to warm ourselves after the walk because it really was freezing outside. Alison then went off for her bus, and I took a walk down the Naamsestraat towards the football ground.

I was waylaid on several occasions down the street

naamesestraat leuven belgium february fevrier 2017There was an archway kind of thing on the right-hand side of the street that led into a courtyard. I hadn’t noticed this place before and seeing as there was no-one about and no “private property” notice, I went in there for a butcher’s.

Down at the far end of the courtyard was a low wall and so I nipped down there to peer over the top to see what I could see. The Naamsestraat up to this point was something of a climb, and the street then descended towards the football ground.

At this point, possibly the highest point in the street, there seems to be something of a scarp slope down to the River Dijle, and you can see right across the valley to the block of flats that are in the distance, at the end of the Kapucijnenvoer.

or, at least, you could, if the weather had been better

Had I been some kind of Lord or nobleman during the Iron Age or the early Medieval period, this is just the kind of place where I would have wanted to erect my fortress.

These natural defences (the scarp slope and the ascents up the main street in both directions) would be very useful and save me a lot of work when it came to building my fortifications. It’s very hard for a marauding army to charge uphill and even a few simple defences could bring it to a halt.

naamesestraat leuven belgium february fevrier 2017The presence of some kind of stately mansion such as this (I wasn’t able to find out what it might have been) is some kind of indication that an important family has lived here for a while.

Even if it was formerly some kind of religious institution, the land would inevitable have been donated by someone important. And it’s quite a usual procedure, as we have mentioned many times in the past, for a small chapel attached to an early fortress to eventually increase in size and importance and over-grow the medieval defences as the need for religion increased and the need for defence diminished.

That’s why it’s quite common to find large churches built on what look like some very impressive castle mounds

naamesestraat leuven belgium february fevrier 2017The gardens of the big building were landscaped and looked really nice, but there was no indication as to whether this was a public park or not.

Had the weather been nice and had I not been in something of a rush, I might have been tempted to go for a wander around. But the football was beckoning and so I didn’t want to hang about too long.

Besides, I was freezing to death standing here and it wasn’t very pleasant to hand around and take photos. I’ll end up with frostbite or something

There’s a music shop close by, so I went for an explore. Unfortunately, although there was a reasonable stock on display, it was all mainstream equipment with nothing particular that caught my eye.

football OH Leuven Lommel United stadion den dreef belgium february fevrier 2017Now this is how to enjoy yourself at a football match. Here they are, munching on a huge hamburger and clutching a tray of six beer glasses. It doesn’t get any better than this, does it?

When I took up my seat at the ground, there was almost nobody in the stadium. But as the two teams ran out onto the pitch, the masses swarmed out of the beer tent and took their places in the stands. We ended up with 2,300-odd people in the crowd.

And despite all of the empty spaces in the ground, some old goat had a good moan about how I was sitting in his seat.

I found that quite amusing, but not as amusing as many years ago when I was in Southport one Saturday afternoon and to pass the time, had gone along to Haig Avenue where Southport Reserves were playing. 30 people in the ground, and I was leaning on a crash barrier, one of about only 10 people standing on the “popular side”, when some other old goat came along and said “that’s my space there where you are standing”.
.

I’ve told you about the highlights of the match, but that kind of thing doesn’t explain everything that went on.

Kostovski, the big Macedonian centre-forward, was in the thick of the action, bulldozing his way through the defence. But after the penalty award, he went down like a sack of bricks under a challenge in the Lommel United penalty area. The referee waved at him to get to his feet, and my opinion was that Kostovski was lucky that he didn’t receive a yellow card. But while he was beating his fists on the ground in frustration, he was caught offside as OH Leuven regained possession of the ball. This kind of thing makes me despair of footballers.

However, round about 25 minutes or so, he was taken off the field with a foot injury. His replacement was a player called Loemba, who was a winger. This left Casagolda up front on his own, and this rather blunted the OH Leuven attack. Not only that, Loemba was not having a good day at the office.

If that wasn’t enough, after about 80 minutes or so, The OH Leuven manager took off Casagolda, and brought on yet another winger, the n°10 who had played so well against AFC Tubize a few weeks ago. And so now we were treated to some really rapid OH Leuven breakaways down the field and down the wings, but with not a soul up in the penalty area to receive the ball and take on the Lommel United keeper. On several occasions, the OH Leuven wingers were just run to earth in the corner by the Lommel United full-backs.

On the way back, I went to the Carrefour to do my weekend’s shopping. I remembered to buy my bread but I forgot my olives. I also bought some more of that vegan lemon sorbet and a few fresh-fruit packs seeing as they were reduced in price.

Back here, I wasn’t all that hungry so I had a couple of rounds of cheese on toast.

Liz was on line when I switched on the laptop so we had a good chat. But I couldn’t last out. I’d not had my sleep this afternoon and I’d had a bad night too. I was out of it, and curled up and went off to sleep quite early.