… of a quiet day today, no-one was more surprised than me to notice that I’ve performed more than 109% of my daily activity today.
That’s a whole lot of nothing.
It was raining when I returned home yesterday evening and it kept on at it for a while during the night. And at 02:50 I was awoken by the most enormous clap of thunder
No alarm this morning, which was probably just as well, and it was 09:40 when I finally struggled to my feet.
Toast for breakfast, and while I was munching thereupon, I was chatting to Liz on the internet, and then I nipped out for a walk.
First stop was at the pharmacy where I picked up some of the medication. Not all of it because they didn’t have it all in stock. I had to return later.
There were plenty of other things that I needed to do so I headed off further into town.
It’s Friday morning so the open-air street market in the town will be in full swing. Here on the Herbert Hooverplein though there are quite a few stalls that seem to be missing.
What with it being August I suppose that a lot of stallholders have gone away on holiday. Even market traders are entitled to a few weeks by the seaside on the Costa Stella.
And judging by the size of the crowd here at the market, many of the customers are away at the Costa Stella too
From the Herbert Hooverplein I pushed on down towards the town centre.
Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we have been following the fortunes of the renovation of an old office building on the corner of the Tiensestraat and the Rector de Somerplein over the last few months.
In the three months during which I’ve been absent it looks as if the work has now finished and it’s become a Thai restaurant.
Good luck to them in their new venture and all of that but it seems to me that everything in Leuven is becoming a restaurant. It would be nice if once in a while something else would open in the town You can’t move around the town centre without tripping over a table and chair.
Anyway, that’s not my problem, is it?
My problem lay at the far end of the Brusselsstraat so I headed off that way, passing by the velodrome to see how things were shaping up there.
Regular Readers of this rubbish will have seen in the past that there was some hardstanding laid down at the back of the velodrome where on the odd occasion they erect a marquee and have some entertainment.
This morning they had a series of large beach parasols erected and there was a crowd of people loitering around there. And so the inquisitive me took a photo and went over to see what was going on.
There was quite a crowd gathered around the marquee watching a performance.
There was some kind of youth orchestra playing away underneath and there were more than enough musicians to fill the place. Not that I know all that much about orchestrations but surely there must be a point where one violinist more or less won’t add anything to the sound that’s being created.
And why would they have a conductor conducting the crowd rather than the musicians? The cynic inside me suggested that she might be going to collect the fares at some point, but anyone less than 40 years old wouldn’t understand that.
However, the people there were quite enjoying the entertainment so I left them to it.
Not that I went very far, actually.
One of my many eternal gripes (sometimes I think that these notes are nothing more than a whiner’s charter) is the slow speed in which they are redeveloping the site of St Pieter’s Hospital, but it doesn’t look as if it will be a vacant demolition site much longer.
There at the back of the site is the girder structure of what is almost certainly a crane. I suppose that they’ll be erecting that sometime soon and if we are lucky some kind of construction might begin.
But they’ll nedd to do something about the building in the background. No-one is going to pay the kind of money that they’ll be demanding for these luxury flats if that’s the view that they see from their balconies. It’s actually areally nice building but it needs a good clean.
Another thing that regular readers of this rubbish will recall seeing are the enormous piles of builders’ rubble and earth that were just here.
By the looks of things, much of that has now disappeared. Well, it hasn’t actually disappeared – it’s just been flattened down into some kind of raised flat surface. I doubt that they’ll be building on top of that as it doesn’t look very stable so maybe it’s just a landscaping feature.
Further down towards the end of the site, work on the building that they are erecting is proceeding and I’ll wander down that way in due course for a closer look before I go hope.
Just one more thing on which I need to check while I’m here.
After they knocked down the building that was here, an old medieval tower from the days when the city walls ran through here was revealed. While the building work is going on, they’ve practically armour-plated the tower so that nothing untoward happens to it.
This kind of thing cheers me up immensely and I like to keep an eye on it.
The cynic inside me has seen far too many instances of old buildings that are in the way of modern development being blighted by a “suspicious fire” (the property developer’s best friend) or accidently being flattened by a bulldozer “out of control”.
On my way down to the end of the street I went past the Kapucijnenvoer.
There’s one building here that we have seen rise up from a demolition site and at one stage it was going up like a mushroom. However the work slowed down the close it came to completion and the last time that we were here we thought that it couldn’t be far off.
It’s almost done and it does look superficially quite nice, although we have seen a few things that indicate that beauty is only skin deep.
It’s quite dark too, especially down at the lower storeys. And this is midday at the height of summer too. Imagine what it must be like in winter.
At the end of the Brusselsestraat is the Blaue Hoek – the “Blue Corner”, and here they’ve been relating the sewers as they have been in the past elsewhere in the vicinity.
They’ve remodelled the roundabout too while they were at it and by the looks of things it’ll all be finished before too long although it doesn’t look too easy for the buses to negotiate it.
On the corner on the left just out of shot is “Exotic World”, the big supermarket that sells a great deal of Asian and Middle-Eastern food. This is where I’ve come for my spices, and where I discovered that I’d forgotten to bring the list with me so I had to invent it out of the back of my memory.
THey also had some tofu in spinach sauce so I bought a box, thinking that this would make a nice base for a giant curry one of these days, whenever I have enough room in the freezer.
having been on the bus to the hospital I haven’t been keeping an eye on the building work around this end of town.
When we were here last time, they had just cleared an old site in the Goudsbloemstraat, presumably to build more flats in the town, and so I added it to my list of places to visit.
Accompanied by some old geezer who insisted on chatting to me even though I couldn’t understand a word that he was saying, I went down there to find that they’ve not started on anything yet, although they have helpfully put an image of what they would like prospective purchasers to believe that they are going to build.
What? Meefar too cynical for my own good? Perish the thought, hey!
There’s another building site not too far away that we stumbled upon by accident.
On the corner of the Hertstraat and Sint Jacobsplein was a large three-storey building with garages behind. They’ve now demolished that but have left the façade standing.
Having sealed off the adjoining party wall they’ll be commencing to build something modern that will be fronted by the older façade. That’s quite a “Belgian” way of modernising the housing stock in areas of historical beauty and there’ evidence of that all over the country.
If you look closely in the distance at a modern building over on the left, then the idea of doing something with this facade has to be more appealing.
Finally, for the moment, we’ll go down into the Kapucijnenvoer. This is another building on which we’ve been keeping an eye over the last year or so.
Three months ago they were just beginning to install the third storey. Today, not only are there four storeys in the front portion, the rear portion is even higher than that and has been clad in brickwork.
That’s what I call “quick work”, especially for Belgium where they are not know for rapidity.
The walk back to my place was something of a struggle. However I did bump into the Centre manager who is on holiday for a week, hence the unsatisfactory room that I have.
Well, it would be satisfactory to anyone who could make it up the stairs quite easily, but that’s not me.
This afternoon I’ve been choosing music for future radio programmes and I’ve not chosen anything like as many as I would normally do. I must be slipping.
At 17:00 I nipped out for the rest of the medication and then came back to carry on with the music later until Alison messaged me to say that she was on her way into town, which was a pleasant surprise.
When she arrived I was already waiting on the corner so she picked me up and we went to park the car.
Walking into the town centre via the back streets we walked across the bridge in the Oudlievevroustraat that goes over the River Dijle. This is one area of the city in which I would like to live, as you can see why.
It’s very olde-worlde and rustic and although some of the buildings here are quite modern, they aren’t intrusive. I have to say that I like Leuven and as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, there was a moment when I was contemplating living here.
How I would have coped with Belgian “authoritarianism” is anyone’s guess.
We went to the Greenway Restaurant for food as usual. After all, it is pretty good vegan food, and then into the town cente for a coffee and a chat at one of the cafés in the Grote Markt. We spent some time discussing our future plans. Not that I have too many these days but nevertheless …
Walking back to the car we encountered a piece of typical Belgian humour.
Belgians – in fact, most people on the mainland – can handle their consumption of alcohol much better than the Brits so there are al kinds of exciting things that happen here that you would never see over in the Perfidious Albion.
One of them is the Bicycling Bar. The 12 people on the side of the bar are pedalling away like crazy, there are several passengers, one person steering and a bartender.
This is one of the things that is typically Belgian and would be unheard-of in many other countries.
We encountered them a little later on the way back to Alison’s car.
Going like the clappers, they came past offering us drinks as they did so. I don’t actually drink but I’m surprised that Alison didn’t run after them.
It’s one of the things that makes you glad that you live over here in the real world where things like this are taken for granted.
Back in the car Alison drove me home and we said “goodnight”.
There were things to do, like listen to the dictaphone and then write up my notes. There was a group of us last night. We were all away at our activities for summer. There was a mix of ages, kids, adults, and all put in various groups for all kinds of different things. One thing I noticed was that you would not find people of the same age and opposite sex in the same groups. As a young boy I wouldn’t have any young girls in my group, older women wouldn’t have any older men in their group. No-one got to think that this was suspicious except me. As time went on I began to raise this subject with one of the girls. She replied “yes, the woman who organises the rota does this deliberately. She’s done it every year. She tries to keep people apart so they don’t form any unwelcome attachments”. Of course as a young boy this was disappointing for me because I was going there with the whole idea of forming unwelcome attachments. This girl was telling me a few more stories about everything. We agreed between us that it was generally a bad thing because people had to learn how to handle this kind of contact and how to deal with it. She said “yes, that’s why so many girls she knew suddenly became pregnant as soon as they were 18 because that was when they were all out in the Big Wide World and there was no-one supervising them and they didn’t know how to behave”. Not just the girls but the girls and the boys. We agreed that it was a pretty miserable state of affairs when kids weren’t allowed to follow their own natural instincts about finding themselves girlfriends etc amongst people they knew where they could form relationships that would be under the eye of the other people who could give them the correct kind of guidance to let these relationships develop.
There had been a heavy snowfall in the Auvergne. I had a real-time satellite photo viewer on my computer where I could zoom in and see the state of places on Earth with photos take at the very minute. Everyone reckoned that I ought to see my roof because of the weight of the snow that was on it. I tried to zoom in on this but for some unknown reason it just wouldn’t zoom in at all on the correct area. It was being unco-operative so I rang up the helpdesk to ask them for the geographical co-ordinates of Virlet so that I could type them in and that could be a better start. They gave them to me but they wanted to know which Virlet it was. “Near Clermont-Ferrand?” so I replied “yes”. They gave them to me and I put them in but it still wouldn’t zoom in correctly at all. I was showing someone how this worked which of course is guaranteed to make it not work so we went to have a look at another area by a railway main line that I knew where there were some interesting cars. Again it just wouldn’t zoom in. It was a shame. It seemed that the wheel on the mouse that zoomed in wasn’t seeming to do anything and the zoom was so slow that for all intents and purposes it was absolutely useless. I was really disappointed with this because I’ve had much better results with this program in the past and I couldn’t understand what it was that I was doing wrong this time that was stopping me having the same results particularly as I had people round to whom I wanted to show it off
My brother had brought some sandwiches for lunch while he was working as a self-employed something-or-other. They had an advert tucked in that the woman who made them was looking for help. He was thinking about applying but didn’t but my mother was nagging him along saying he had only half an hour to do it. In the end he phoned up and had a good chat to her. We could only hear one side of the conversation but it appeared that basically she was looking for pensioners. He had a look round and said “ohh, there’s 3 in here, maybe 4” looking at me. He started to talk to her about the pensioners who lived in this house and what they could or couldn’t do as far as making sandwiches went.
I was with a coach proprietor whom I knew and all that lot and someone turned up in a Ford Cortina estate, a dark blue MkIII. They had a dome roof on it, perspex, and it was elongated. I went to take some photos of it but I couldn’t make my camera work. In the end they drove it into the garage and on the pit so I could go down underneath. I took 1 or 2 photos but I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to take the bodywork. Brian was saying “you took some, didn’t you?”. “Yes” I replied “but I can take photos of Cortina chassis any day of the week as I have enough of my own. It was the upper body that was interesting me with the perspex dome. There were some kids messing around causing problems stopping people photographing things. My photo from underneath turned out OK but it was one of the bodywork and the perspex roof that I wanted to take that weren’t working at all and I felt quite annoyed by that.
There’s a very early start in the morning so right now I’m off to bed, and quite right too. It’s a long way home and I need to be at my best, I suppose. First problem is to make it to the station and that’s not going to be easy.
It’s not something to which I’m looking forward at all.